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Things Simple and Short

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Untamed (Seven Legends AU)

Chris had always been aware of Vin's need for the wild, untamed places of the country, but he'd never been truly aware of just why. Facing the sharp, too-intelligent gaze of the wolf in front of him, with its pelt a familiar shade of sandy brown, he wondered what else Vin hadn't told him that would explain the origins of some of the tracker's habits.

Fealty (From Rome to Mexico AU)

It had taken him dying to find out how Chris was different, though he'd always wondered. He hadn't moved entirely like Vin'd expect of a simple gunslinger, or even an ex-soldier, but Vin had put that down to Chris having spent time as a small-time rancher.

Waking up Immortal, however, had changed his view of Chris - particularly after he'd gotten an idea of how old he really was. A lot changed in a thousand years.

He hadn't done much to think on that, or act on the knowledge for decades, not consciously. Until war erupted in Europe, and Chris had been preparing to go over and volunteer to help fight the Germans. Vin all but took it for granted that he'd go as well, a junior officer or aide-de-camp, as Ezra had put it.

Ezra, for his part, had rolled his eyes, and muttered something about knights and their foolish fealty, though his tone was more fond exasperation than anything else. Josiah had heartily approved, and signed on as a chaplain, while Buck had laughed and said something in Latin that made Chris growl at his one-time teacher and constant friend.

Eventually they'd all made plans to go, building their own small unit and fighting. Together, as they had been since Four Corners.

Homecoming (From Rome to Mexico AU)

"I was not made for this sort of cold." Buck's irritated growl came from somewhere inside a heavy parka, and all the layers underneath. "I don't understand how you crazy people manage it dressed like that!"

Chris shared a grin with Vin, the two dressed much more lightly than Buck, or even most of their other companions, despite the winter chill and snow. Of course, they'd spent the last decade and more tramping around the Arctic, so they might perhaps have an advantage over Buck, who'd been relaxing in Sicily.

"May I add to Mr. Wilmington's reminder that he is not the only one of our party accustomed to warmer climes?" Ezra wasn't as heavily bundled as Buck, if likely only due to his fondness for silk and wool, despite the fashions of the day. "I fear the only one of us deriving nearly as much enjoyment as yourselves from this homecoming is young Mr. Dunne, no doubt due to his disturbing inclination to reside at far more northerly latitudes than other members of our party."

"It's not that cold, Ezra, and I ain't the one facing off with polar bears, anyway." JD grins despite the barb he's directed at Chris and Vin.

Ezra gives JD a look that makes Chris grin, and lean back on his heels a little to watch the show. Pretending to ignore the fact that JD's already got a snowball packed and ready, should Ezra chose an immediate form of retaliation that isn't verbal.

"As one of my occasional acquaintances might be heard to say, I hear Bora-Bora is nice at this time of year."

Peace (Talents and Resources AU)

"Had to bail your namesake out of prison this week. Stubborn cuss didn't take too well to his neighbor's idea of disciplining his kids." A wry smile crossed Vin's face as he looked down at the ground between his feet a moment. "If he could keep himself out of trouble, he'd make a good lawman. Reckon as it stands I might have to get Ezra's help getting him out of trouble. It takes a single man every bit of time for that job, and I ain't got that."

He looks up again, gaze tracing the lines chiseled into fine stone, more expense in the marker than Chris would really have wanted. It was new, a monument put in by his family to replace the worn hardwood of the previous marker, one Vin had replaced regularly over the last century. Part of a renovation of sorts of the family plot, a project which had included the bench Vin sat on.

"I just hope the kid finds some peace he can hold onto sooner than you did. And I ain't talking about the eternal kind, neither." It still weighed heavily on him that Chris had taken a bullet meant for him. For all of Nathan's skill, it hadn't been a wound that anyone mortal would recover from, though Vin would have. Even if his life in Four Corners wouldn't have had that much luck.

That Chris had saved Vin's stint in Four Corners at the cost of his own life is a guilt Vin hasn't assuaged or purged since.

Future (time-displaced AU)

The frontier was the same, whether on Earth or on some distant colony world; always in need of someone to keep the peace. At least Chris had one familiar face to rely on in this strange new world, and if he developed a closer bond with Vin than would be approved of back home, these future people didn't see anything wrong.