Disclaimer: Boys belong to others but it's fun to have them to play with, if only for a short time. This has to be my shortest ever story. God knows how I managed only six pages. Anyway, hope you enjoy this!
"JD! Pack it in and leave Vin be," Chris yelled from the kitchen. "You know what will happen in a minute, don't you?"
Despite the blond's warning, the sound of hysterical laughter continued in the ranch house's living room. Things had started in the usual way. The men had been watching the baseball on TV companionably as they ate pizza. The two youngest agents then started arguing over a trivial point to do with the game, so trivial in fact that Chris couldn't even remember what it had been about now. Anyway, it led to a rough-and-tumble fight that in turn led to a ticklefest and Vin was now in fits of laughter as he tried to keep JD from pestering him further.
Chris was brought back to the present when he heard his youngest agent mutter, "Oops."
"Now you're for it," Buck piped up as he laughed. "Chris is gonna kill ya, kid."
Chris bowed his head and leant against the sink as he waited for the inevitable accompanying sound.
"Hh...uck," Vin hiccuped and then sneezed as well straight afterwards.
"Jeez," the blond exclaimed as he ambled into the living room with a stern look on his face. "JD? When are ya gonna learn not to tickle him when he's just eaten? This happens every time."
"He started it. It wasn't my fault," the kid protested half-heartedly when he saw the expression on his boss's face.
"The hell it wasn't, kid," Chris retorted before turning to the sharpshooter in despair. "God Almighty, Vin. How are we gonna stop you this time?"
"Hic," was the only sound that Vin uttered in reply as he put a hand over his mouth and giggled.
"Perhaps it will cease of its own accord," Ezra said unconvincingly as he eyed the longhaired sharpshooter disdainfully.
"When that happens, pigs'll fly Ez or you'll offer to pay for a round of drinks without us having to force you," Buck chortled.
Chris walked back into the kitchen while they were talking and found a paper bag. He entered the living room again and said confidently, "This works every time. Move yer carcass, Bucklin."
He walked behind Vin and blew up the bag when Buck had moved away. The blond waited and when he thought Vin was highly strung enough, he burst the bag between his hands near the afflicted man's ear. All the men jumped at the loud bang and waited to see if the ploy had worked.
A minute passed and then Vin said, "Hic....cup."
"Works every time, Mr. Larabee?" Ezra drawled with a wry smile and a raised eyebrow. "Obviously not today."
"Yeah. I figured that out all by myself too, Ezra," the blond hissed disgustedly as he flicked a disparaging look at the grinning agent.
"What about drinking from the wrong side of a cup?" Josiah suggested as he watched Vin carefully.
"Have you ever done that?" JD asked loudly. "I've tried it and I can tell you it's impossible."
"Yeah but it's fun watching you try, kid," Buck laughed as he slapped his friend on the back.
Josiah rose anyway and walked into the kitchen with Buck trailing in his wake. The profiler filled a glass with water while Buck picked up a towel and held it loosely in his hand. Josiah stopped dead and looked at him with pursed lips.
"What you looking at me for?" Buck asked with a wide-eyed, innocent look on his face. "I'm just being prepared. If Vin's anything like JD, he's more likely to be covered in that water himself. Either that or he'll cover us with it instead, pard. There's no way he's gonna drink it, I can tell you that for nothing."
Josiah shook his head at his friend's lack of faith and strode back out to stand in front of Vin. He passed the glass over and stepped back out of range just in case Buck's prophecy came true after all.
"Than...h'uck...ks," the sharpshooter said haltingly as yet another hiccup shook his slight frame. He managed to spill half the contents of the glass as his hand wobbled from the jolt. He then stood up, bent forwards and raised the glass to his lips and promptly tipped the contents up his nose as he hiccuped again violently. He dropped the glass as he spluttered and coughed and then wiped his face on his sleeve as Chris patted his back. "Jesus," he managed to croak before he hiccuped once more.
"There ya go, pard," Buck said as he passed over the towel and shot an I-told-you-so look at Josiah. "It's getting worse. Now what other brilliant suggestions can anyone offer?"
The sharpshooter, meanwhile, sat down dejectedly and put his head in his hands as he continued hiccuping heartily. He picked up a cushion from the couch and tried to stifle the sounds in its softness as he left his friends to decide the next course of action.
"Vin!" Nathan yelled into the sudden silence that had descended, making all the men jump in fright.
Six pairs of eyes turned to study the longhaired man sitting so still on the couch. Surely that fright would have done the trick. Vin raised his head from the cushion after a few seconds and smiled. The silence extended and his friends began to smile too.
"Hh....uck...up," Vin said louder than ever as he bowed his head once more in shame.
"God in merciful Heaven," Ezra sighed and looked up to the ceiling as if expecting to find the answer to all their problems written there.
"I'm sorry," Vin said quietly.
"So am I," JD admitted. "S'pose it was my fault after all."
"Too late for sorry, JD. How old are the two of you? Anybody would think I'm running a kindergarten," Chris moaned in exasperation. "You never learn, do you?"
"Ease up, Chris. JD's only caused a case of hiccups, not a massacre," Buck pointed out reasonably.
"I know, I know but just look at my face..."
The blond was interrupted by a muttered aside from the undercover agent. "I'd rather not if it's all the same to you. It's rather a horrible sight at this time of day."
Chris scowled in the man's direction and continued in a very loud voice, "I've twice as many wrinkles as I had last year and those two are the cause of most of them." Chris pointed an accusing finger toward the causes of his agitation and managed to point to Ezra as well in the process to let the man know he wasn't forgiven for his comment.
"They ain't wrinkles, Chris. They're laughter lines," Buck said as he tried to pacify his friend.
"Laughter lines, my ass!" Chris disagreed vehemently.
"No, I don't think you find them on that part of your anatomy, Mr. Larabee," Ezra declared with a loud guffaw.
"Don't sweat it, Chris," Buck interrupted and placed a hand over Ezra's mouth before the undercover agent could make matters worse.
"Don't sweat it, he says!" the blond retorted sarcastically with a strangled laugh. "God, I'm a nervous wreck thanks to two young reprobates and one grinning hyena who passes himself off as an undercover agent."
Chris sighed in defeat as he looked at Vin and saw the sharpshooter jerk with each erupting hiccup. The men's eyes met and Chris smiled lopsidedly. The blond sat down and patted his friend's back apologetically. "I'm sorry, Vin. I know you can't help it. How many times does this make it this year?"
"At least five."
"I think you enjoy it 'cause you know it annoys the hell outta me."
"I aim to pl...hic...ease."
"I'd rather you pleased me in other ways, cowboy. Like doin' as yer told once in a while."
"More than my li...uck..fe's worth to disobey you. Hic....uck. I always do as I'm told," Vin disagreed.
"You don't always."
"Well, do as yer told now and stop hiccuping then," Chris challenged with a raised eyebrow and a grin.
"See. Told ya you were disobedient," Chris said triumphantly as he punched the man's upper arm playfully.
"Bitch, bitch....uck.....bitch. You just set impossible targets, cowboy. Hope yer comfort....hic..able up there on yer pedestal. One day I'm gonna take great pleas...hic...ure in knocking you off it," Vin promised with an evil smile.
"So what we gonna do to cure Vin?" Nathan asked insistently as he tried to get things back on track. He wanted to get home but he didn't feel he could go until Vin was cured so he attempted to hurry the process along.
"Shoot him," Ezra retorted as Buck finally uncovered his mouth.
"Shut up, Ezra," six voices answered in unison.
"Try holding yer breath," Buck said with a shrug. "That always works for me."
"Surprised you can stop talking long enough for it to take effect, Bucklin," Ezra stated straight-faced.
Buck picked up the damp towel and threw it at Ezra and it fell over the undercover agent's head, hiding his face completely. The ladies' man slapped his hands as if he was wiping dirt from them and looked thoroughly satisfied with himself.
Vin, meanwhile, took a deep breath and held it for as long as he could. He only managed a few seconds though before letting the air out of his lungs in a rush accompanied by two loud hiccups.
"I give up! Yer gonna have to live with it, Vin," Chris said as he threw his hands up in despair and turned away.
"I can't. How the hh...uck...ell am I gonna sleep?" Vin pleaded with a forlorn look on his face.
"Put your fingers in your ears to block out the sound, Mr. Tanner," Ezra said from under the towel.
"Jeez, Ez. Zip yer lip, will ya? You ain't helping," Buck replied as he slapped the back of the man's head.
"Pack it in, Bucklin! That hurt," Ezra protested as he raised a hand and rubbed the tender area.
"Good, but it wasn't me that did it, it was Chris," the ladies' man lied, knowing full well that Ezra couldn't prove it one way of the other.
"Baloney," Ezra replied sarcastically as he removed the towel angrily and stared hard at the ladies' man. The tall man didn't turn a hair at the intensity of the glare so Ezra sighed and threw the towel on the floor in disgust.
Except for the sound of hiccups, silence descended over the room once more. Josiah looked at Vin and then cleared his throat to get everyone's attention. "I read somewhere about some more methods for stopping hiccups if you wanna try those. Eating dry bread, biting into a lemon or blowing into a paper bag. Take yer pick."
"Don't want the lemon!" Vin replied vehemently as he shook his head vigorously to back up his statement.
"Try the others then. If not, I'm gonna strangle ya so I can get some peace and quiet," Chris warned. Both methods were tried with the same lack of results.
"I do believe there is a world record for the length of time someone has hiccuped. You could always try to break that, Mr. Tanner. Might as well be famous for something in your life," Ezra said thoughtfully.
"No way, uck...Ez. I wanna get back to nor...hic...mal," Vin replied quietly.
"Well, that could prove difficult. You haven't been normal since I've known you," the undercover agent grumbled.
"Shut up, Ez," six voices said in exasperation.
"Well, if you no longer require my services, I'll leave you to your problem. Happy hiccuping, Mr. Tanner," Ezra said.
"Well for all the help you've been, good riddance, Ez," Buck said as he waved in farewell when Ezra walked out of the room.
"Now we might get somewhere with a bit of peace to allow us to think properly," Josiah grinned as he turned to face the sharpshooter again.
There wasn't peace for long though. Ezra ran back into the living room and shouted breathlessly, "Vin! Someone's trying to steal your bike."
"What? Not again." Vin stood and hurried outside as his heart skipped a beat in alarm.
The other agents ran after him and came to a standstill as they saw the bike was untouched. They looked to see if there was anyone suspicious hanging around but there was no one in sight.
Vin turned to Ezra angrily, "You bastard. What the hell are you playing at?"
"Curing your hiccups, Mr. Tanner. Good evening, gentlemen," the undercover agent smiled and put a finger to his brow in salute and got in his Jag.
"My God! He's right. You ain't hiccuped for ages, Vin," Chris said. "The sneaky sonofagun." The blond looked up to see Ezra wave out the window as he drove away and he smiled. "The bastard does have his uses after all."
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