Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven is owned by Mirisch and several other companies and corporations that I can't keep track of. Not making any money just having fun.
Authors notes: I have wanted to write something about Vin being dyslexic for a while. This piece is set a few months after they became seven.
"Damn it!" Vin Tanner cursed at his computer. Then he had another go at typing the word he wanted.
N-a-b-e-r, he typed, it didnt look right but then none of the six versions before looked right. The computer duly underlined it in red, and with a sense on impending doom Vin clicked on the spell check icon. It suggested nearly a dozen unhelpful alternatives
"Shit!" he tried again.
N-a-y-e-b-e-r, no spelling suggestions the computer announced once it had been asked to check. Vin tried to picture the word in his head, he could read the word no problem so why could he not bring an image of it on the page to mind. There was definitely a g in it. He decided to risk another go. N-a-g-b-a-r, no spelling suggestions came up again. Taking a deep calming breath he tried again, now that he thought about it there was also an i he was sure of that. N-i-a-g-b-e-r. Hell even I know thats wrong, he thought, but maybe the computer would know what he wanted. Wrong, it produced another long list of useless suggestions.
"Stupid fucking machine!" he bellowed at the screen.
The frustration was sometimes more than he could bear/ It was a common word, little kids could spell it, but he couldn't, nor could he think of a simpler alternative. He hated to think of the number of times he had substituted needed for necessary. For a time he stared blankly at the screen, trying to force his mind to conjure up the image of the word, but nothing came. Tired blue eyes drifted over to the big OED sitting on the shelf on the wall, next to the law books, weapons manuals, manufacturers directories, and assorted directives, manuals, textbooks and maps. He hated dictionaries, how were you supposed to look up the spelling of a word in a book arranged alphabetically if you couldn't spell it? If he knew how it stared the computer could have fathomed what he wanted by now. He certainly did not relish trawling through the whole N section. And dictionaries were too complicated, just finding out how to make a word plural took a degree in cryptography. Besides, the dictionary was on the top shelf. He would have to stand on something to get it down. His injured ankle and its sixteen stitches werent too keen on that kind of thing right now.
He turned his attention back to the screen, it winked at him malevolently, daring him to make another pathetic attempt to do what any ten-year-old could do.
N-a-b-g-i-r, he typed, the computer made its usual unhelpful response, more totally unrelated words,
"To hell with it!" He pushed his chair back and drew his gun from the shoulder holster in one quick fluid motion.
"Christ junior dont do that!" Buck Wilmington bellowed from the doorway as he entered to office.
Vin shot him a dark glare, while the gun remained level. Buck decided he needed to break the tension.
"Last time Chris did that, me an Josiah took a whole day to come up with a pursuable reason for it so he wouldnt have to pay for the replacement himself." He grinned wickedly. "Gave us such a headache we had t cure it with a bottle of the best scotch; on Chris tab of course."
Vin studied the tall agent, trying to work out if he was on the level. Slowly he lowered the gun.
"Seriously? Chris shot a computer?" he asked, holstering the weapon.
Buck moved further into the room now that the gun was away and Vin seemed more rational.
"Oh sure, just after we got this system, it had a few bugs, kept crashing and stuff, and we didnt have JD around to rescue us, so he shot it, the computer itself too, not just the screen."
"What did you come up with to explain it, the shooting?"
"Spider," he said with relish. Vin looked at him blankly. "We convinced the bleeding hearts that Chris has arachnophobia, and he saw this big hairy spider on the computer so he shot it, instinct, lightning reflexes, stressful dangerous job, you know the routine."
"Chris is afraid of spiders?" Vin asked incredulously.
"Hell no, heights yes, spiders no, but if you ever let on I told you Ill deny it."
Vin filed the information about heights away for future use. Buck ambled up to him and sat down on the edge of his own desk. He was, Vin noted, although casually dressed, looking a lot smarter than he ever looked at work, unless he was due in court of course.
"What did it do, crash?" he asked. "Cause if it did I could ring the kid, he can talk you through it, but mostly he just says reboot it."
Buck peered at the screen, which was clearly active and not crashed. He noted the word underlined in red, thought truth be told it wasnt a word, as least not one he recognised. He knew Vin was dyslexic but he was fairly sure Vin wasnt aware he knew.
Vin hadnt been sure about Wilmington for a long time after he joined Larabees team at the ATF. He had learned through long and bitter experience that the loud jovial ones were often the ones to watch. Buck had been Chris best friend until Vin came along, and at one time Vin had even wondered if he had really earned his place on the elite team or was just there to ease Chris conscience. But over time he found that with Buck what you saw was what you got, he wore his heart on his sleeve. He seemed genuinely to care about everyone, although to say he cared more for the team's newest recruit would be the understatement of the year, or even the decade. There were momma Grizzlys in the mountains who cared less for their cubs than Buck Wilmington cared about JD Dunne, and with out that care and support Vin doubted the idealistic kid would have made it through his first four months on the team. Vin soon discovered that Buck was a criminal investigator of the highest order, his arrest recorded while with the DPD was stunning, better even than Chris and there was no one you would rather have covering your back. He had shown no bitterness or rancour when Vin had displaced him as Chris best friend. With all this in mind he decided to trust Buck with this particular problem.
"Cant spell neighbour and this piece of junk cant either, least ways not with what I give it," he explained bitterly, looking at the screen.
"Well I cant neither, let me think oh yes, New Emigrants Ignoring Government Houses Bring On Ugly Rumours," he recited proudly.
"Its how I remember how to spell neighbour, you gonna type or not?"
Vin looked back at the screen. "Yeah I guess, do it again, only slower."
Buck repeated the mnemonic. When he had finished Vin had his finger over the space bar, finally he hit it and was a pleased to find no red underlining his word. A smile spread across his face.
"Thanks Buck," he said quietly.
"Youre welcome. Got any more I can help with, not than I can spell so Ill be the blind leading the blind."
"Well not right now, but thanks for the offer."
"Any time junior only like I say I aint no great shakes at this stuff. Usually have to ask Josiah or the kid myself. Ttheyd help, or Ezra, hes real good at spelling and grammar and such, ask him hes right opposite you, he wont mind."
Vin had heard the jibes and jokes at Buck expense about his lousy spelling and grammar. He just figured it was part of the banter, he now realised it was true. Then he wondered why they didnt do it to him. Had Chris issued orders to spare him embarrassment? He suspected he had done just that. So why was it all right to tease Buck and not him? Vin made a mental note to speak to Chris about getting the guys to lay of Buck as well.
"I dont like to," he responded to Bucks suggestion. "Im dyslexic, Id be pestering them all the time," he explained.
"Lucky you," Buck commented with no hint of sarcasm, "least you got an excuse Im just stupid."
Vin looked up at him, just in time to catch the last fleeting moments of an expression before it was masked by a huge grin. What had it been? Shame, sadness, embarrassment - there hadnt been enough time to tell, but there had been something.
"You aint stupid Buck," he affirmed.
"No? Well maybe not but I cant spell worth a shit, and my grammar aint much better."
"Maybe you're dyslexic too?"
"No, had all the tests when I started school here in Denver, when I was fifteen, and Im not dyslexic. But I did miss a lot of school. We moved around a lot, my Ma and me, I kept changing schools. I guess somewhere along the road I missed spelling and grammar altogether." He looked at Vin, smile still in place. "Dont you hate it that these damn things underline your spelling mistakes I red just like teachers?"
"Tell me about it! Every time I took the trouble to write a piece out neatly it come back covered in red. Thought I left all that behind now its back." He shrugged. "At least it doesnt make rude comments about your hand writing."
"True, but I still work on mine else it reverts to spider scratching that no one, not even me can read." He cocked his head on one side, "Me or I, oh who cares?" he commented.
Vin frowned. "You still practice handwriting?" he asked with more amusement in his voice than he had meant to show.
If Buck noticed the unintended jibe he didnt mention it. "Sure; I doodle, dont you doodle?"
"Well yeah, sometimes," he admitted.
"Me too only when the others are doing fancy patterns like Ezra, or little geometric patterns like Nathan or interlocking symbols like Josiah, I write out the alphabet, or some times mnemonics like the one I told you. My favourite, is one this English girl taught me, err." Vin watched fascinated as Buck tried to remember. "Oh yeah, All King Edward's Horses Can Munch Bran Fast, and I do that thing which uses all the letters, you know The quick brown fox...
"What doodles does JD do?" Vin asked his curiosity peeked.
"The kid's weird, he writes out very very long division sums, like say a four figurer number into a thirty figure number then he works it out long hand, then he tests his answer by doing very long multiplication."
"What about Chris?"
The smile on Bucks face faded a little. "He just fills in the corners and margin with solid colour."
Something told Vin he needed to lighten the mood. "What about me, you know what I do?"
"You junior, you write stuff, little verses or phrases, then you cross them out."
Vin was surprised to find Buck really did know what he did when he was doodling, he felt his face flush slightly.
"You ever going to let us read them, them little verses?"
Vin shook his head. There was an awkward silence.
"Oh hey!" Buck suddenly exclaimed.
He jumped up and almost ran around his desk and began rooting around in the bottom drawer. Things began to emerge and be dumped on the already untidy desk top, a rubber chicken, water pistol, yo-yo, several issues of Sports Illustrated, an old Game Boy, several games for the Game Boy, a half-finished pack of M&M's and some old manila files. Finally he pulled out a battered bit of card.
"Yes!" he hissed triumphantly. "Here, borrow this."
He handed over the card, it was a 5 x 7 index card. It was old very old, Vin could see that. It was covered in columns of words, printed by numerous different pens. The bottom left hand corner was almost worn away, and was stained with a dark greasy mark where it had been handled hundreds of times. Vin turned it over to find yet more words, some seemed to have been added quite recently.
"It's my crib card, had that since high school, I put down all the words I have trouble with." Buck explained. "Just make sure you don't lose it, but feel free to add words if'n you want."
Vin turned the card back reverently looking at the first words. 'Because', 'necessary', 'neighbour', 'daughter'. All the words he had trouble with.
"Are you sure?" Vin asked realising it was a treasured item.
"Wouldn't have offered it if I weren't sure...Aw shit!" he suddenly exclaimed, delving into his top draw with one hand and stuffing things into the bottom draw with the other.
"What's the matter?" Tanner asked suddenly alarmed.
"Forgot why I was here, left the theatre tickets; yes!" he pulled out an envelope and checked its contents, checking his watch he cursed again. "Look I gotta go; it's seven o'clock Vin, it's Friday night, please tell me you got a better place to be than here."
"Yes, but I've got this report to finish," he explained.
"You can do that on Sunday or even Monday morning, you get here early enough for God's sake. Go now, as the senior agent I order you to go and have fun." He pointed dramatically to the door.
"Buck you are so full of crap."
Wilmington waggled his eyebrows; "Yeah but I still out rank you, go!"
Vin came in early to finish his report, sitting on his desk was a small parcel, wrapped in striped black and gold paper. There was no note, or card. Sitting down he unwrapped the parcel gingerly. It proved to be a small book entitled English Spelling Dictionary. He frowned. A dictionary. Just what he wanted. He opened it randomly. It wasn't like any dictionary he had ever seen. There were no definitions, just lists of words. On each page there were two columns, on the left words, on the right all the possible derivations. He found 'farm' and opposite it farming, farms, farmed, farmer, farmers. Better still, printed in blue not black and slightly indented were common misspellings and phonetic spellings with the correct spelling on the other side. No more wading through huge dictionary sections or cryptography, he thought.
Flipping to the front he found an inscription."No one's perfect, so don't be ashamed to ask for help." B
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