Total Trust

By Mary Ann

Main Characters: Chris, Vin & the rest
Universe: New AU, I created - 'In The Year'
This was in answer to a Finish the story challenge for the VFB group, Mod's provide the first paragraph, we had to finish it. The Guys were just borrowed for this little story, I had to give them back. This loosely follows 'Fallen But Not Alone.'

The day had started much like any other but as often occurs; it had taken some interesting twists and turns along the way. Attempting to block out the distractions that surrounded him, Vin focused only on the voice of the one man he trusted with his life. Without a second thought he responded as Chris yelled, "Jump!"

Falling through the air, Vin thought for a moment on what happened half an hour ago. The ride he and Chris were taking, watching a band of wild horned horses had suddenly turned into a gun battle. They hadn't seen, or sensed anyone in the thick trees along the large valley's floor, neither had their mounts.

Caught in a cross fire they rode for their lives after the wild horses whose roars of fright filled the air. A blow to Vin's side had almost knocked him out of the saddle, except for a quick grab from Chris, he'd of hit the ground. He leaned into Peso a little more as they raced along. He vaguely heard Chris's gun firing and thought he should help but he couldn't get his hand to move from his side. Another volley of shots and blaster fire rang out, a blow to his head darkened his vision, and Vin wobbled for a moment unable to hang on. Peso slowed for a minute.

A weight was suddenly behind him and Peso lunged forward again. A strong arm held him in place as he tried to gather his scattered wits; more shots cut the air around them. A roar from Peso and a mighty lunge into another direction made Chris curse behind him.

Opening his eyes, Vin tried to see where they were headed, but all he could see was dark grey. Panic started to roll through him and he gripped Chris's arm tightly.


***Can't see.***

"Damn." ***Hang on.***

Vin felt Peso flatten out as they made a sharp right turn. For a blessed few minutes all they heard was the thunder of hooves, and Vin thought they were close to the wild horses they had been watching a bit earlier.

All of a sudden Peso turned left and they raced off in another direction. For several minutes they ran, and around several more turns, then Peso slid to a halt roaring his displeasure. Chris slid off and helped Vin down.


"Had to stop, end of the road. Trust me Pard?"

"Totally. You know that."

"We have to jump into the river." Vin nodded that he understood. "Its about 50 feet below us."

Blindly Vin looked towards Chris, feeling blood dripping off the side of his face, and feeling it as it soak into his shirt and pants where his hand pressed against his side. He could feel himself getting weaker and shaking slightly, but he nodded his head.

' 'k."

Chris gripped Vin's shoulder an instant and wished he had time to bandage his friend, but the riders were approaching. Stuffing a roll of bandages into his pocket he led Vin to the edge, picking the best spot. With a last look he saw the rider's coming around the last turn and yelled, "Jump."

Vin jumped, he could feel Chris beside him. For long moments it seemed they hung in the air then with a splash hit the water.

Disoriented Vin thrashed around trying to figure how to get up to the surface. Then he felt Chris's hands on him guiding him to the surface and a moment later their heads broke into the air. Swiftly Chris tugged Vin and he swam beside Chris for a short ways. He felt the pull of the river against him until Chris guided him to their right then stopped and pressed him against some rocks.

"Shhh," Chris hissed.

***Where are we? What's going on?*** Vin shivered.

***We're against the cliff; they can't see us from up there. As soon as they're gone we'll get out of here. Hang on Pard.***

Chris's arms went around him and though they were still in the water, Vin felt a little warmer. He noticed that the grey he was seeing was getting lighter and hoped it meant his sight was coming back.

For several minutes they hid against the cliff, their feet moving only enough to keep them above the water. The men above shot into the water several times. Where they'd gone in, the water was flowing swiftly and they could've easily been carried down river. Finally the riders left and all they heard was the rush of the river.

For long minutes they waited. Vin shivered in Chris's arms and Chris looked at the younger man. He saw that his eyes were closed and pain etched across the fine features. Finally Chris pulled them back into the river's flow and let the water carry them down stream a ways. Once he found a low bank, he pulled Vin over to it and half dragged him out of the water and into the trees and brush that lined the river. Vin stumbled several feet before he collapsed as pain and blackness over took him.

Chris caught Vin before he hit the ground and carried him deeper into the trees, hoping they couldn't be seen if the riders were trying to find them. He needed to get Vin dried and warm, but he didn't dare build a fire yet. He pulled the roll of bandages out of his pocket, wrung them out, and hung them on a low branch in a bit of sun. He didn't think they'd dry too soon but he hoped they'd be dry enough to use. He got Vin's soaked coat off him and then all of his shirts, wringing the water out of them as much as he could. Then he checked Vin's side and found the bullet had gone clear through just below Vin's last rib. He couldn't find any breaks and used the still wet bandage to wrap the wound.

Next Chris checked Vin's head and wrung out his bandana and tied it around Vin's head. The graze was ugly but not deep. Finished he leaned back on his knees and slowly pulled his duster off and tossed it over some branches to dry. Vin was shivering and there was no way to warm him, he didn't want to build a fire, it was too soon yet. Gently he put the long sleeved shirt back on Vin, it was still wet, but he had nothing else to cover him with. He then rose and strode around the area, checking to make sure they were well hidden, then returned to Vin's side and laid down beside him. Pulling Vin into his arms he tried to warm him up by holding him close to his body, sharing body heat.

Chris woke with a jerk, and for a moment wondered where the hell he was, and why was his left arm numb. Opening his eyes he looked around as memory rushed back. Vin was asleep, his head and part of his shoulder pinned Chris's left arm to the ground. Carefully Chris pulled his arm out from under Vin's head, as soon as it was free he sat up and looked at the tracker, he had felt the heat coming off him and their clothes were mostly dry, thanks to the fever Vin now had. Moving around the small clearing, Chris gathered wood and built a fire, sure whoever had shot at them were gone. He wished he had some food and would kill for a cup of coffee. Once the fire was going, he put their coats and Vin's other shirts close to it to dry. He wondered where their horses had got to, if they'd gone to town instead of the ranch and he hoped they did. Vin needed Nathan's help, they needed help and soon. There was no way he could walk out of there with Vin in the condition he was in, and Chris knew Vin's side was already infected.

It was dusk and Chris's coat and Vin's shirts had dried and were laying over Vin keeping him warm, though he was shivering. Chris stoked the fire and glanced at Vin who was starting to stir. Moments later Vin's eyes opened and Chris saw confusion in the blue orbs.

"Hey Cowboy, how you feeling?" Chris asked quietly.

Vin's eyes flashed to him and a small smile crossed the flushed face. "Chris... I kin see ya!"

A smile lifted Chris's lips. "Good! Now if we could only get your side sewed up we could leave," he teased.

"Good thought. But no supplies. Guess we should be heading out anyway," Vin started to throw the coat off and stopped when Chris grabbed it and pulled it back over him.

"We'll stay the night here, will see what the morning brings," Chris said.

Vin nodded and relaxed. "Be a little chilly tonight."

"Lots of wood here, we'll be fine."

"'k.' Vin closed his eyes and drifted off. Suddenly his eyes snapped open and he looked at Chris. "Riders comin'."

Chris gripped Vin's shoulder a moment then handing him his Mare's leg, slipped into the cover of the trees and waited, glad he'd cleaned and dried their armament. Within five minutes the crash of riders and grumbling of horses coming thru the trees and brush was heard, then a voice called out.

"Hello the camp," Buck's voice carried through the little clearing and with a grin Chris stepped back to Vin's side as Vin let the Mare's leg drop.

"Come in Buck." Chris called back and moments later, the rest of the seven worked their way to their camp, leading their black horned horses. With one look Nathan was dismounted and with saddlebags in hand dropped to Vin's side.

Help had arrived, and Vin would be as good as new in short order. Chris smiled as a coffee pot came out. Now, all was well.