by Hombre

Characters: Chris, Vin, Buck, and Ezra

"I never realized how much we relied on our thumbs until now," Chris said thoughtfully as he studied his bandaged digit in wonder. "Since I ain't been able to use mine I've been forced to ask for help for all number of tasks. It wouldn't have mattered so much if it had been my left thumb but I'm lost without the one on my right hand."

"Yes, we all take our body parts for granted until we lose the use of one of them," Ezra agreed sagely.

"Well, I've been Chris's right hand man, so to speak, and I can testify to all the things he ain't been able to do," Buck stated with a pained expression as he lounged on the couch with his long legs stretched out before him.

"By the look on your face I don't think we want to hear about them either. I feel it would result in a bout of nausea," Ezra retorted as he put his mug of coffee down after taking a sip.

"You ain't wrong, pard."

"Come on, it ain't been that bad, Buck," Chris complained.

"Well, if you think seeing you in the buff each morning ain't enough to put me off my breakfast, you got another thing coming, pard. I ain't eaten in days 'cause of the shock." Buck grinned and then said to Ezra, "I've even had to comb his hair for him. When he tried to do it, it looked worse than when he started. Thought he'd stuck his finger in an electric socket and gotten electrocuted when I saw him. Stuck up all over the place it was like he'd had a fright."

"Well you try doing it with yer left hand. It ain't as easy as you think," Chris snarled.

Buck winked at the undercover agent and said, "And as for putting on clothes, well I ask you! Do you know Chris couldn't even put his boxers on by himself? He nearly crippled himself one morning when he was trying to put them on. He got one foot through the first leg hole but completely missed the second one and put his foot through the fly instead. I found him hopping around like hog-tied giraffe, swearing fit to burst. I had an awful job getting him free, I can tell ya."

"Yeah and you nearly died laughing, Bucklin. Tell the whole world, why don't ya?" Chris said sourly as he threw his sweatshirt at the man.

"You gotta admit it was funny, pard."

"For you maybe. I always said you had a poor sense of humor. It ain't nice laughing at other peoples' misfortune. Anyway I've got the hang of it now. It takes a special technique to put boxers on with only one working hand. You musta suffered the same sort of thing though, Ez. How've you been getting on with your injured houseguest?"

"Oh, we've been having a fine old time, haven't we Vin?"

"Yeah, real enjoyable," Vin growled from where he sat with a similarly bandaged digit.

Ezra turned to the blond with a smile. "Vin found the most difficulty putting on his socks. He somehow ended up with his injured hand and his foot in it at one point and then wondered why he fell over. I did tell him to sit on the bed while he performed the deed but no, he wouldn't listen to wise old Ezra."

"Least I got my boxers on all by myself," Vin stated proudly.

"True, although you neglected to tell everyone that you put them on back to front, or ass about face in this instance. You didn't realize that fact for yourself either until I pointed out that although it might be convenient to have the fly at the back for some purposes it might be of more use to you at the front," Ezra said with a broad grin.

Chris and Buck doubled up as they roared with laughter while Vin hissed in anger and then said fiercely, "All this talk of underwear makes me realize I need the john."

"Oh good Lord. Come along Mr. Tanner, I suppose you'll need my assistance."

"Yeah, can't undo me buttons for starters."

"Why you insist on a buttoned fly in your current condition I shall never know. Sheer hypocrisy," Ezra moaned as he stood up. "I would have thought you'd at least try to make the job a bit easier for me by wearing clothes without buttons or zippers."

"Nope. I wanna get my money's worth outta ya," Vin replied with a sly grin as he stood up. His eye was drawn to his feet and he sighed. "Godammit. Now the lace on my sneaker has come undone. Do it for me, Ez," Vin said as he sat down again and waved his foot in the air with laces swinging.

Buck made the sound of a whip being cracked and accompanied the noise by waving his arm in the air as if he was using one. "Come on jump to it, Ez. Your master gave you an order."

Ezra sighed like a martyr and knelt down to carry out his duty. "Slip on shoes and an unbuttoned fly for you tomorrow. I'll lend you some of mine if you like. You can't go on like this."

"Lend me what? Shoes or boxers? If it's boxers I don't want 'em."

"They're clean," Ezra replied reasonably.

"Ironed neatly and starched too, I bet," Buck said quietly.

Vin screwed his face up in disgust and retorted, "Starched? How'd ya move in 'em? 'Spect you'd end up walking like John Wayne. He always moved like he had starched pants on. Sorry Ez but I draw the line at wearing someone else's boxers. Jeez, it makes my skin crawl just thinking about it. Don't know where they've been."

"Yes you do."

"That's what's putting him off," Chris laughed as he patted Ezra's back with his uninjured hand.

"Well, we'll buy you some then if you find wearing mine so abhorrent. Come along to the john or you'll likely have an unfortunate accident and need a change of clothes this minute and then you'll have to borrow some of mine and lump it." Ezra pulled Vin to his feet and pushed him out the living room hastily. The two men were gone for a few minutes and then returned still arguing.

"Mr. Larabee, I hope you are being better behaved than Mr. Tanner. He's enough to try anyone's patience at the moment," Ezra said, looking slightly harassed.

Chris grinned, knowing the hell that Vin was putting the undercover agent through. "You know how independent he is, Ez. He don't like being waited on hand and foot and if he can't do the simplest thing he gets testy."

"You can talk," Buck retorted from where he'd been sitting with his eyes closed. He opened them and turned to Ezra and Vin with a broad smile. "Chris tried opening a can of beans the other night and made a godawful mess everywhere in the process. He somehow managed to use the can opener with his left hand but Lord knows how 'cause I have enough trouble using the damn thing with the right one. He put the can between his knees 'cause he couldn't hold it still properly with his other hand and then set to work. By the time he'd finished he had beans down both pant legs and in his sneakers and the can was squashed flat in the middle where his knees had forced the sides together. He tried to tidy up and cover up what he'd done but he'd trodden in the beans at some point without realizing it and then walked all through the condo. I nearly bawled JD out by mistake but I followed the orange footprints all the way upstairs to my bedroom and found Chris trying to change his bean-stained pants so I then knew who the real culprit was. He got real aggravated when I told him he shoulda asked for help. He just can't sit still for a minute. He's always gotta try and prove that he can deal with anything no matter the circumstances."

Ezra looked at Chris and saw the blond scowling. "You have never actually divulged how you came by your injuries, gentlemen," Ezra said quietly as he turned his gaze to Vin.

Chris looked at Vin as well and the sharpshooter returned the look in embarrassment. "Will you tell 'em or shall I, cowboy?" Vin asked.

"You can do the honors."

"Gee thanks." Vin paused and then took a deep breath and muttered, "We were thumb wrestling."

"What? Can you repeat that at a higher volume?" Ezra asked as he frowned.

"We were thumb wrestling," Vin yelled at the top of his voice.

"Oh good God. Well that beats all. What was wrong with arm wrestling, pray tell?"

"Chris said it was too tame. He really wanted to test his strength."

"And failed miserably it would seem," Ezra said wryly. "Come on Mr. Wilmington, let's show them what we are made of."

Buck and Ezra rose and walked to the table and sat down opposite one another and held out their right hands. They linked thumbs and applied pressure gradually. They received ribald encouragement from the two spectators who were watching eagerly from the sidelines. The match was very evenly contested until Buck finally began getting the upper hand. Ezra put in a renewed effort when he realized he was on the verge of being beaten and both men yelled. They let go of one another and shook their hands rapidly as they stood up and began pacing.

"Oh Lord. Where's Nathan? I need first aid this minute," Ezra said plaintively as he put his injured appendage between his thighs and bent double in pain.

"Jesus, so do I. I think I need a sling," Buck complained as he continued shaking his hand vigorously.

The medic heard his name being called as he walked in from the yard. "What's happened?"

"We need medical assistance," Ezra replied as he held up his thumb to show the man.

Buck moved to stand beside him holding the same digit in the air. Chris and Vin rose and stood beside him and in a show of solidarity held their injured thumbs in the air too.

"What the hell have you all been up to? Is it some bizarre ritual?" Nathan asked as he scratched his head in puzzlement.

"Na just thumb wrestling," Chris replied and the men laughed as they saw the baffled look on the medic's face.

The End

Comments to: hombre55@hotmail.com