Disclaimer: This story is a work of fan fiction based on the CBS television series, The Magnificent Seven. It is in no way intended to infringe on the copyrights of CBS, MGM, The Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corporation or anyone who may have legal rights to the characters and settings. This story was written solely for my enjoyment and is posted for the enjoyment of other fans of the show. There is no monetary gain from this endeavor. The story and any characters which are not owned by CBS, MGM, Trilogy or Mirisch belong to C. Knox Binkley.

Coercion - Part One

"Gentry - I wouldn't go into business with you if I WERE an outlaw. I don't trust you. And I trust Pickett even less."

"But there's no way to pull it off without you, Larabee."

"Then there's no way to pull it off."

Chris Larabee was tired of this conversation. He lay a few coins on the bar, took another swig of his drink and started out.

"You know, Larabee, I've asked you nicely . . ."

A click of a revolver.

"Now, I'm afraid I have to insist."

Chris turned slowly, unfazed at the pistol aimed at his heart. He grinned, wickedly. "You can insist all you want to. It ain't gonna happen."

"It's such a sweet deal, Larabee. You don't want to play lawman in that piss-ant town any longer, do you?"

"Actually," a voice emerged from under a hat, and another revolver clicked at the ready. "We need to be getting back to that little piss-ant town, don't you think, Chris?"

Gentry laughed heartily, keeping his gun aimed at Chris Larabee.

"Well, Buck Wilmington - I shoulda figured - where one goes, the other follows."

Buck pushed his hat back with one finger, then took his time standing. He held his gun loosely - easily - and actually "moseyed" up to the bar. The barkeep hesitantly met him. Buck kept his weapon aimed casually in Gentry's direction, but ordered a whiskey? No, he'd have an ale. No, wait - whiskey.

A wry grin pulled at Chris Larabee's mouth. No one could drive a man crazy like Buck Wilmington.

And he should know.

"Oh, come on, Buck," Gentry said - trying to act like he wasn't getting pissed off. "Talk some sense into him. This is the chance of a lifetime."

Buck turned to Chris in mock seriousness. "Chris - hey, let me talk some sense into you. Gentry says this is the chance of a lifetime."

"Shut the f*** up," Gentry exploded, grasping the gun more tightly and stepping closer to Chris Larabee.

"But you just told me . . ." Buck started.

The gun fired harmlessly into the ceiling.

Chris had plowed into Amos Gentry, pressing his gun hand upward. And in one move, he hooked his arm around the outlaw's neck and disarmed him.

Chris' voice remained amiable. "Your mama should have taught you when to take 'no' for an answer." His grip tightened around the man's throat. "If you ever aim a gun in my direction again, I will kill you. No negotiation - I will kill you. Am I clear?"

The man tried to answer but he couldn't catch his breath. Buck walked over, whiskey in hand.

"Chris, I believe his throat must be a little dry." Buck got right in Gentry's face and smiled broadly. "Want a drink, Amos?"

Gentry's eyes narrowed.

And he kicked Buck in the abdomen as hard as he could, using Chris Larabee's hold on him from behind as leverage.

Buck doubled over and landed heavily on his knees, the wind knocked out of him.

"You shouldn't have done that," Chris hissed, and he threw Amos Gentry on the saloon floor. He knelt beside him, pressed his knee into his back and his gun into the base of his neck.

"Let's not do this again," Chris said. "You probably won't live through it."

Chris paused a moment to let the message sink in, then, when he could sense the abject fear in Gentry's eyes, he backed away slowly.

"You ok, Buck?" Chris asked without ever taking his eyes off of Gentry.

"Yea," his friend grunted, slowly pulling himself up. Chris reached an arm down to help him.

"Oh," Buck groaned, not able to stand all the way. "Kick him for me, would you, Chris? I don't think I can just now."

"We'll both kick him next time we're in Stockton, how about that?" Chris was leading Buck out. Then he paused at the saloon door and tossed a look back at Gentry, who was sitting up.

"Don't even think about following us. I ain't gonna sleep til we get to Four Corners, and I'm shooting anything that moves."

Buck tipped his hat and managed a smile, and they left.


Vin Tanner had never known anyone - man or woman - who had never been fishing as a kid.

But JD Dunne hadn't.

How strange that a kid who'd worked outdoors all his life had never gone fishing.


That was his whole life. He'd worked sun-up to sundown - no time for school, much less fishing. Hell, the only recreation he'd had in his life was reading those dimestore novels. From everything he'd gathered, JD's life had been very difficult. Maybe difficult in ways they would never know.

He never had a daddy around to look after him, to teach him things . . .

To take him fishing.

Well, Vin figured it was about time.

JD was excited about this fishing trip, and he felt a little sheepish about it. He tried not to act excited - tried to maintain a cool demeanor. But his friends could see the spark in his eye.

It wasn't about fishing, of course.

It was about belonging.

It was about not tagging along, but being asked to spend the day with one of the guys. It meant he was one of them.

JD liked hanging out with Vin. Vin was patient with him and didn't seem to get put out with him. If he did get on the bounty hunter's nerves, Vin never let on. And he treated him like he had a brain in his head.

Chris seemed to tolerate JD, but the kid felt like their leader regretted having taken him on. He expected JD to mess up - and he never felt like he measured up.

Ezra saw the boy as an amusement. But never took him seriously as part of the bunch. He joked about his "pretending to be a sheriff."

Buck - he loved Buck. But Buck was so protective of him that it almost smothered him sometimes. They had great fun together, but in a crisis, Buck didn't think he had what it took. Well, that's what it seemed like to JD.

Even the soft-spoken Josiah felt the need to direct him.

Nathan just didn't have much time for him.

But Vin . . .

Vin let him be. JD was fine just like he was. Vin didn't seem to wish he were different - like everyone else did.

He just wanted to take him fishing.

Sitting by the wide stream - the folks who lived out there called it a river - JD had shed his hat and vest and was watching the surface of the water expectantly. Expectantly, but not impatiently. It felt good to just sit there and be. The breeze was nice, the sun gentle, and the peace intoxicating. And JD felt sort of . . . happy. He'd had fun riding with everyone. He'd certainly experienced excitement. But he hadn't felt true contentment. Well, not since before his Mama died.

And for a moment, JD realized he was happy.

Vin was glad for this respite. No bounty hunters, nobody shooting at him, nobody expecting him to do anything. Just a kid, a stream, and a fishing line.

Oh, and a good lunch. Miss Nettie had seen to that.

What a good woman. How like his mother. How did this woman understand instinctively that Vin needed her? He smiled. Maybe she needed him too.

"OH!!" JD came alive as a fierce tug pulled on his line. "Hey - I got one!"

"All right, kid. Now hang on to him." Vin slid over beside him. The boy had dug his heels into the dirt and was holding on excitedly.

"Man . . . " was all he managed to say.

Vin chuckled. "He's a live one."

JD was holding on, laughing, and struggling. Vin waited til the last possible moment before adding his own strength to this fight.

It actually did take both of them to pull in the catch. And as they did, Vin realized for a moment . . .

He was happy.


She couldn't have been more than eight or nine years old. But she didn't look like a child should look. Her brown eyes were haunted - almost hollow. And her cheekbones were too prominent - a evidence of malnourishment. Her dark hair was dirty, her face dusty, and her clothes in tatters. How tiny she was, curled up with her arms wrapped around her knees. She was huddled under the scrubbrush, sheltered by the awkward branches that grew haphazardly from the low trunk.

Josiah Sanchez kept his distance from her, not wanting to scare her. He eased his large frame to the ground, and sat cross-legged in the dirt. He didn't speak to her. He just sat there.

She watched him, but remained very still.

Ever so slowly, Josiah reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a piece of hardtack. He took a bite, then turned his head toward her. Still moving slowly, he extended his arm, and held the beef jerky out for her. His big hand remained steady for what seemed like an eternity. He never spoke, but his eyes communicated something that made her feel less afraid somehow.

After a very long moment, the little girl crawled out from her hiding place and tentatively reached out for the food. Probably the first food she'd seen in days. When her hand got right up to the meat, she snatched it quickly and scurried back to her original place under the foliage.

Seminole? Probably. The preacher began to softly sing in his soothing baritone voice. A song of the Seminole. As the little girl ate ravenously, he spoke words of comfort - words she knew and understood. Then he looked up at the day sky and began singing again.

She listened, and felt tears well in her eyes. And she began to sing the familiar song, too.

A sweet, light, clear voice.

A voice that broke Josiah's heart.

He continued singing softly. Not watching her. But he felt her approach. She crawled out and made her way to him. And wordlessly crawled up into his lap - nestling there.

She clutched at his shirt - and her weary tears fell.

Josiah wrapped his strong arms around the child, and rocked her.

Whatever had happened, it would be a long road back for her.


The sun had dipped just below the craggy horizon, painting a rich colorscape across the expanse of sky.

"This . . ." Vin nodded toward the exquisite sunset. ". . . is what draws a man to this country, JD." He guided his horse up on the ridge and rounded a rocky corner. He glanced back at the wide-eyed boy following him and he grinned. "Look . . ."

Once round the curve, the land suddenly expanded before them as far as the eye could see. The majesty of earth color complemented the deep burgundy of the waning sky. Long shadows played in the ridges and began to pull over this world like a blanket.

"I never seen anything like it." JD's voice was hushed, as though they had entered a sanctuary of some kind.

And indeed they had.

"Do you believe in God, Vin?" JD asked suddenly, his eyes still on the sight before him.

Vin paused a moment - not in hesitance, but rather in reverence. "Yea, I do."

JD nodded. "Me too." He looked out to the horizon. "Mama would kill me for not going to church. I haven't been since I left Boston." JD instinctively stroked his mare's mane. "I was so mad at God."

"Every man gets mad at his Maker from time to time, JD."

"Mama . . . was so good. She was so faithful to Him. But she had such a tough life." The boy's eyes stung. He wasn't afraid for Vin to see him cry, though. Vin listened easily. This was the most the kid had ever said about his ma, and he'd probably needed to for a long, long time.

"Why did God put this . . . beautiful person on this earth, and then let her suffer? All she had to show for all of her efforts . . ." The kid took a deep breath and continued. ". . . was me. She deserved better." He sniffed. "So I got mad at Him. Reckon God don't want to have anything to do with me."

Vin waited a moment then urged his horse forward slowly. JD followed.

"I don't know about that, kid. I'd say Somebody up there is looking out for you."

"How do you figure that?"

Vin stopped until JD pulled up alongside him, and looked him in the eye. "Way I see it, here you are in the most dangerous place in the world, and you already got six trained gunfighters watching your back." He smiled. "What odds you think Ezra would give that?"

JD grinned back. Vin put his hand on the boy's shoulder. "You're doing great, kid. Your ma'd be proud."

He noticed that JD's lip trembled slightly, and he pulled on ahead of him, letting him think about things in peace.


Buck laughed, and instantly regretted it, his painful stomach still reeling from the run-in with Gentry.

"Damn, Chris, you got an enemy in every little piss-ant town in the west?"

Chris sniffed. "Looks that way." His eyes cut over to his friend. "You all right?"

"Yea, just a bruise is all." Buck situated himself more comfortably on his horse. "But laughing don't help it."

That made him laugh again. "Man, I need a drink."

They were threading their way through a low shadowed pass when Chris halted abruptly. He raised his hand to silence his friend before Buck could ask any questions. Both listened and heard the distant lope of horses.

"You don't think Gentry would . . ."

Chris shrugged. "Somebody's out there."

Buck shook his head.

"Hell, I'm too tired to shoot anybody tonight." He yawned and they made their way more cautiously.



Vin raised his hand to keep JD from saying anything. They listened. Below them they heard the careful steps of horses being eased through the gap.

Vin raised his glass to his eye and looked, turning the glass until the image below came into focus.

And a grin crossed his face.

He was about to call out to Chris Larabee when a bullet whistled past his ear.

"GET DOWN, KID!" Vin cried out.

Before everything went black.

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