Sea Legs

by Hombre

Notes: Read a few bits and pieces about this. Suffered from motion sickness myself too in the past. Symptoms do not usually need the treatment I have written about but I did read that in severe cases they were though, so this is my interpretation. Call it artists' license if you will, yeah I know, I know. I'm no artist by any stretch of the imagination, you don't need to tell me. I used the following sources for reference - Diseases of the Human Body 3rd ed. by Tamparo, C. and the following web site: The pelican quote is from a poem by Ogden Nash.

Ezra wandered into the office looking very pleased with himself. He sat at his desk and waved a piece of paper in the air noisily.

"Quit making a draught, will ya?" Buck complained as he looked up irritably at the interruption.

"You don't want to come then?" Ezra asked as he continued waving the sheet enthusiastically above his head.

"What the hell ya talking about now?" the ladies' man asked in exasperation.

"I've won some tickets for a three-day cruise, all-expenses-paid for this weekend. It's on a nice-sized ship, not too big but not too small either. I've got room for six companions. As you're not interested I'll see if I can find someone else to take your place, Bucklin."

"Now hold on a minute, pard. If you'd explained yerself properly to start with, I'd have known what you were on about."

"You want to come then?" Ezra asked with a cheeky grin.

"You bet," the mustached agent replied eagerly.

"Anyone else interested?" Ezra asked with a smile. He received enthusiastic positive answers from the four other men. "I'd better check with Mr. Larabee. We'd need some extra time off to get there and back. We've got hotel accommodation en route included so we can really pamper ourselves."

Ezra stood and walked to the blond's office and knocked on the door. He waited until Chris beckoned him in before entering and sitting in front of the man's desk.

"What's up, Ez?"

"I've won some tickets for a cruise this weekend. I wondered if you'd be interested in coming. Everyone else has agreed to come and it wouldn't be right if you weren't there too. I should have asked you first but please don't take offense that I didn't. It wasn't meant as a slight," the undercover agent said with a twinkle in his eye.

"No offense taken, Ez. I don't mind being tail-end Charlie as long as I get to come. Just 'cause I'm yer boss don't mean you have to ask me first about non-work activities. Hell, you don't have to include me at all if you don't want to," Chris smiled.

"Of course I want you with us but there's just one possible complication. The trip all depends on whether we can have a day or two off to allow us to get there and back."

Chris narrowed his eyes and then grinned. "Why not? We ain't got anything urgent on and we could do with some time together away from work. I'll check with Travis but I'm sure there won't be a problem."

Chris rose and walked along to see Travis and came back with good news. "Okay guys. Get yer bags packed. We're goin' on a cruise!"

+ + + + + + +

"Ah, smell the ozone," Ezra said contentedly as he took a deep breath and let it out accompanied by a long sigh. He stood looking out over the harbor at the cruise ship they would be sailing on.

"Now I know why there's a hole in the ozone layer. Ezra just sucked in another great lump of it," Buck said with a grin as he looked at the other men.

"Oh, ha, ha. Mr. Wilmington made a joke. Very witty Bucklin but don't give up your day job, will you?"

"Well, I thought it was funny," the ladies' man said as he looked around to see who else was going to board the ship. "Maybe there'll be some nubile ladies in skimpy bikinis," he said quietly, almost to himself.

"Oh, good God! Is that all you ever think about? You're sex-crazed and a menace to the fairer sex, do you know that?" Ezra retorted disgustedly.

"So far all I can see are elderly maidens, Ez," Buck said in disappointment as he ignored the undercover agent's comment completely.

"Shame. There are pleasures other than those of the flesh you know. You're too narrow-minded," Ezra said.

"Na. I know what I like and that's unattached female company," Buck disagreed heartily.

"Well, that elderly lady looks unaccompanied. How about her?" Ezra grinned, knowing what the answer would be.

"Give over, Ez. She looks like she's got one foot in the grave already. I like young, athletic women."

"Looks like you're out of luck then. You'll just have to keep me company instead. I know I come a poor second but you can't have everything in life," Ezra said with a broad grin.

Chris looked back and saw the two agents still talking, totally unaware that they were now on their own. "You coming or shall we go without you?" he called.

Ezra looked up and saw that they were getting left behind and he hurried toward the other men eagerly. They all boarded and then dumped their luggage in their cabins and disappeared to explore their floating home. There were lots of activities to keep them occupied and the men looked forward to a nice relaxing break.

The ship finally left the harbor and set off out to sea. The men took up position on deck at the railing to watch the departure as they chatted amongst themselves. When the land grew too small to distinguish anything they split up to go and indulge in their chosen activity. JD headed to the slot machines, while Ezra went to play poker with Buck. Vin was happy to just sit and watch the world go by up on deck. He liked the feel of the wind in his hair and the smell of the salt water. It made a pleasant change to be on the open sea after being stuck in the city all week. Chris, Josiah and Nathan, meanwhile, made use of the swimming pool.

The wind began to pick up now the ship was away from the shelter of the land and the waves grew bigger. As the day wore on the ship began to roll in the heavy swell. One agent was beginning to feel the effects already and he left his poker game prematurely to get some air. He joined Vin on deck for a quiet afternoon of people-watching but didn't feel any better for the inactivity. After eating a very small late afternoon meal and waiting for the other men to leave him alone he retired for the night feeling very sick.

+ + + + + + +

Six out of the seven men met up the next morning for breakfast, Buck still being in bed after enjoying a very late night at the poker table. Ezra had been one of the first ones up so his companions should have guessed that trouble was brewing. The other men filled their plates with food from the buffet and left the undercover agent staring at the food on offer. Ezra finally picked a few simple things before returning to the table with a very sparse plate.

"You didn't eat much last night either, Ez. Ain't ya hungry?" Nathan asked as he saw the small amount of food his friend had.

"Not really," the undercover agent replied as he put a small piece of bread in his mouth and chewed laboriously. The lump of food went round and round in his mouth but he just couldn't seem to swallow it because he felt he would choke. It was like trying to eat a rubber ball. He eventually persuaded his throat to accept the bread and he looked at the rest of his food with distaste.

"Do you feel okay?" the medic asked as he watched the man anxiously and thought he looked very pale.

Ezra felt five pairs of eyes looking at him and he became increasingly hot under their scrutiny. He wiped a hand across his brow and then put a finger round the inside of the collar of his shirt to pull it away from his throat. He stood up shakily and said quietly, "I had a rather disturbed night if truth be told. I think I'll meet up with you all later if you don't mind. The smell of all this food is turning my stomach."

Nathan watched him leave and then rose to follow and make sure he was alright.

Just as Ezra was hurriedly passing Buck's cabin, the ladies' man emerged and bumped into him. Neither man was concentrating on what they were doing and they collided hard.

"Ezra? Are you okay there, pard? Yer looking rather green," Buck observed as he looked up and put a steadying hand on his friend's elbow. The undercover agent shrugged it off quickly and continued on his way at pace. Buck frowned and hurried along behind his hastily departing friend to see what was wrong.

Ezra took a deep breath and said over his shoulder, "Green doesn't even come close, Mr. Wilmington. I feel decidedly queasy. Would you excuse me?" The green-eyed man found his cabin key and put it in the lock with a shaky hand. He eventually managed to open the door after a slight battle and lot of choice swearwords. The dapper agent then disappeared inside quickly with a hand clamped over his mouth. Buck followed him inside worriedly and couldn't help hearing the man noisily lose his stomach's contents.

The tall agent waited for Ezra to reappear and he studied the pale man sympathetically. "Why don't you go and lie down for a bit if you don't feel well?" he suggested as he patted his friend's shoulder.

"I don't know if that would help, Bucklin. I'm not sure if being horizontal would be any better than being vertical unless, of course, I'm in my coffin. I feel as if I might need one soon. I've never been seasick in my life. Why now when I'm trying to enjoy myself?"

"Well, I s'pose it's pretty rough at the moment. Not that I can feel anything but I looked out the porthole and saw the big waves earlier." Buck patted Ezra's back and then said with a smile, "If God intended us to be at home on the sea he'd have given us webbed feet, eh pard?"

The ship rolled again and Ezra turned quickly and nearly fell as he hurried back to the john with a loud groan.

"How is he?" Nathan asked as he finally caught up and wandered into the cabin behind Buck.

"Throwing up like there's no tomorrow. He looks pretty rough, Nate. Being seasick is the pits, although I can't say I've ever suffered from it. If what he's goin' through is any guide though I'm glad I haven't."

"I could have given him something before we left if only he'd said."

"He says he's never been affected before."

Ezra emerged once more and Nathan led him to the bed and sat him down. The undercover agent was pale and looked very sorry for himself. He wiped his hands down his pant leg before rubbing his face on his sleeve and shivering.

"Perhaps you'd be better outside. If you can feel the air on yer face it sometimes helps," Nathan said as he pulled the man to his feet gently.

The three men staggered outside and Ezra grabbed hold of the rail tightly until his knuckles showed white. The wind blew through his hair and he felt chilled to the bone. The world continued to swing back and forth and round and round inside his head. Nathan could hear him breathing deeply and he reached out and rubbed his friend's back.

"Why do people find seasickness so amusing, Mr. Jackson? The French name for it, mal de mer, makes it sound positively delightful but it's the most horrible sensation I've ever come across. I've come out in a cold sweat to complement my slavering and nausea. I feel like Pavlov's dog, except it's not the thought of food that's making me salivate."

"Jeez, you make it sound like you've got rabies, Ez. Don't start foaming at the mouth or I'll have to shoot you to put you out of yer misery," Buck said with a smile.

"There you are, even Buck finds it funny."

"No, I don't, Ez. I'm sorry. I was just trying to cheer you up."

"Well, I've never felt less like laughing in my life, Bucklin. I could quite easily go and find a quiet corner to curl up and die in." Ezra looked at the ladies' man and regretted the movement of his head immediately. He sighed and tightened his grip on the railing and swallowed the bile that had risen into his throat.

Nathan saw him get even paler and said, "I know you feel bad Ez but try and focus on the horizon. If you keep looking around it'll just make you feel even worse. Don't look at the waves or anything else that's moving, just look at a spot in the distance."

Ezra raised his head carefully and stared at the sky where it met the sea and then groaned loudly as the ship took a dip to the port side. He closed his eyes and held his breath and hoped the nausea would pass.

"How long have you been sick for?" the medic asked as he tried to determine the extent of Ezra's problem.

"From precisely 4pm yesterday afternoon although I hadn't felt well since about lunchtime," Ezra replied. "I retired early after I'd eaten but I didn't get any sleep because I spent the whole night in the john vomiting. In consequence I'm nearly asleep on my feet and feeling like a zombie. Please don't comment on that by saying I look like one, Bucklin."

"Wouldn't be so rude, pard."

"Well, I suppose there's a first time for everything," Ezra said with a pained smile as he put a hand up to his mouth and swallowed quickly. He then opened his mouth and took a deep breath as he closed his eyes wearily.

"Have you had anything to drink?" Nathan inquired. He knew Ezra must be feeling pretty awful if he'd been sick all night.

"No. Oh shit. Can't keep anything down," Ezra gasped before vomiting overboard.

"So I see. Good job the wind is in the other direction. We could have been covered in that lot, Nate," Buck said as he gave Ezra a hug.

The undercover agent couldn't help but laugh. "You're a bastard you know that, don't you Bucklin?"

"So everyone keeps telling me, pard."

"What's so horrible about being sick on a boat is that you can't get off. At least if I was in a car I could pull over. I think the fact that you know you're trapped on here for several hours is what makes it worse." Ezra stopped talking as he puked again, even though he was standing as still as a statue and staring into the distance as if his life depended on it. "I'm sorry. I don't think this is working, Mr. Jackson," he apologized forlornly.

"Give it time. You've only been out here a few minutes. Try to relax and calm down. The fact that you're worrying because you know you've got ages to go until you get back to dry land again is just adding to your problems. You should really try to keep occupied. If your mind has got something to concentrate on you ain't got time for feeling sick."

"I don't feel settled enough to try anything. I had to give up poker yesterday because this horrible sensation kept interrupting my concentration. Today I just feel dizzy, tired and sick instead of just dizzy as I did yesterday," the undercover agent said and then yawned loudly. Ezra shivered and bowed his head as he wrapped his arms around his torso and moved from foot to foot while shivering.

"Are you really that cold, pard?" Buck asked as he rubbed his hand across the man's shoulder in an attempt to warm him up.

"Yes, freezing actually."

"I'll go and get you a thicker coat. Just wait there. I won't be long." The tall man was as good as his word and came back within minutes with another thick coat and a sweater. He helped Ezra put them on and the sick man took up position at the railing again.

Vin wandered round from the stern of the ship and saw the three men huddled together. "Hey guys. How's it going, Ez?"

"Downhill rapidly, Mr. Tanner."

"Jeez Ez, you look dreadful. What's the matter?" Vin asked worriedly.

"He's seasick," Buck informed the sharpshooter when Ezra didn't answer.

"Damn, I'm sorry. I thought you'd just eaten something that didn't agree with you when I saw you earlier. Can I do anything to help?"

"Perhaps we could swap stomachs?" Ezra suggested as he threw up again. "Mine seems to be rather misbehaving."

"Yeah, so I see. Is that why you sat with me yesterday 'cause you felt sick? You were awful quiet then but I didn't think anything of it. You shoulda said somethin' then, Ez," Vin reprimanded softly.

"Well, I thought a nice quiet afternoon in the fresh air might have helped but it had about as much success yesterday as it's having today by the results so far," Ezra replied quietly.

"Can't you give him something, Nate?" the sharpshooter asked.

"All over-the-counter medications need taking before you start yer journey and I didn't think of bringing anything with me. No one said they might be sick so I left everything back home. Not that it would be any good to him now anyway."

"Go and lie down," Vin said as he turned back to Ezra worriedly.

"Suggested that already and he said no," Buck told the sharpshooter.

"I think I might now, Bucklin. See if it has more of an effect than freezing my balls off out here. I'll see you later, gentlemen," Ezra said as he staggered sideways like a drunk even though the ship itself hadn't rolled very much.

"I'll come too, pard. Don't think you should be on yer own when yer feeling so bad."

Nathan placed a hand on Buck's arm and said, "Try to get him to drink something. He's gonna get dehydrated if he don't take care. Probably is already if he ain't had much food or drink since yesterday."

"Sure, Nate. I'll try but you saw what he's like even when he ain't had anything."

The two men disappeared and Ezra lay down slowly on his bunk and groaned. Buck made him drink a glass of water and then sat down in a chair nearby to watch over him. The liquid stayed where it should have done for all of five minutes before making its unwanted reappearance.

"No more, Bucklin," Ezra pleaded as he came out of the john looking even worse. "I haven't got the energy to keep getting up and down to expectorate. Perhaps I should just stay in the bathroom then I won't have to move at all."

"No. Lay down. Nate says it's better for you."

"Well, I'm not convinced."

Back on deck, Nathan realized there was actually an onboard doctor. Seeing as they were on a three-day cruise the ship's owners had appointed a doctor specifically for the trip in case of any health problems. Nathan wandered along to see if he could get any help from the man.

"You ain't got anything for motion sickness, have ya? A friend of mine's pretty sick and we ain't got nothing to give him."

"I'll come and look at him if you like. Had he taken any pills before the trip?"

"No. He says he's never been seasick before. Sure making up for it now though."

"Well, I'll see how bad he is and decide on some action then. Has he eaten anything or has he been sick since he boarded?" the doctor asked.

"He had a small meal last night but he threw that up and what he had for breakfast today. He said he'd been up all night vomiting too. Ain't had anything to drink either since yesterday."

Nathan led the way and knocked on Ezra's cabin door. "Hey Buck. I found the ship's doctor who said he may be able to give Ez something."

The man walked over to the undercover agent and asked him a few questions. "Can you make it along to my office? I'll keep an eye on you myself for a couple of hours but if you haven't had anything to drink you must be pretty dehydrated. Are you sure you can't manage anything?"

"No. Tried some water again but it came straight back up," Ezra replied quietly as he wiped a hand wearily over his face. He felt very weak and didn't think he'd have the energy to even get up from the bed of his own accord.

Buck and Nathan realized this when their friend remained seated and they escorted the undercover agent along to the doctor's room and settled him on the bed there.

"Don't worry. If he gets any worse I'll give him something," the doctor assured the two men.

"Thanks," Nathan said gratefully. "You okay on yer own or do you want us to stay, Ez?"

"You both go and enjoy yourselves. No point in having won the tickets if nobody gets to enjoy them. I'll suffer here on my own. I know I'm not much company and why should you all miss out just because I've been born with an inferior stomach? Maude has a lot to answer for."

Nathan nodded and went out with Buck. The two men found the rest of their friends and updated them about Ezra's condition. Buck though decided he couldn't leave the man on his own so after a couple of hours of trying to have fun he headed back to the doctor's room.

He knocked on the door and the medic backed up and let him in. Buck looked over at the bed and saw Ezra was fast asleep and attached to an IV.

"He okay?" the ladies' man asked worriedly as he looked back at the medic with a raised eyebrow.

"Should be. I decided to give him a mild sedative so he'll be out of it until this trip is over I should think. He was very tired and weak and was getting quite upset 'cause he felt so rough. He was also very dehydrated and whatever I gave him came straight back up. He was feeling real bad and his anxiety was just making things worse. Once people with motion sickness start vomiting they can't concentrate on anything else other than how they feel. Sedating him was the only option left to me with the way he was. I've also given him something by injection which should settle his stomach so if he does wake up he should at least feel better." "Can I stay?"


Buck found a chair and moved it next to Ezra and then sat and studied his friend's face. The man certainly looked a bit less green and much more rested. Buck reached out a hand and straightened the blanket covering his friend like a fussy mother and then patted his hand comfortingly. He stayed for an hour and then Chris knocked on the door to see how they were getting on. The blond moved to stand beside him and he looked down at Ezra critically.

"How's he been?"

"Asleep. The doctor gave him a sedative and an injection of something to settle his stomach."

"Why the IV? Is he alright?" Chris asked anxiously.

"Yeah. Just needs to replace the fluids he's lost and putting him on the IV was the only way to re-hydrate him seeing as he couldn't keep anything down that he was given by mouth," the ladies' man explained.

"Why sedate him? That ain't usual, is it?"

"He was getting upset and it was making matters ten-times worse. He hasn't had much sleep over the past week anyway with all the problems he encountered on his last case and this certainly hasn't helped. He coulda really done with a good break. He looked like the living dead earlier in the day what with the sickness and lack of sleep. Poor Ez. Shame he couldn't enjoy the trip."

"Yeah, makes yer feel guilty for enjoying yerself, don't it? Do you want me to take over for a bit? Where's the doc anyway?" Chris asked as he looked round the room.

"Ducked out to get something to eat. Said he wouldn't be long though. I'll go and get something too and come back in an hour."

"Okay but take as long as you need. I'll be here." Chris took the seat that Buck vacated.

Half an hour after Buck left, Ezra stirred. Chris put down the medical magazine he'd been looking at in increasing horror. The pictures in it were enough to make anyone sick and he was glad of the interruption. He felt he could quite easily join Ezra on the sick-list but then he'd only got himself to blame because he had the choice of not looking. It was like the fascination of the horrible though and he hadn't been able to stop reading it.

"Hey Ez," the blond said quietly when his friend's eyes opened owlishly.

"Mr. Larabee? Where am I?"

"In the doctor's room on the ship. Do you remember?"

"Oh yes. I'm sorry for spoiling things for you all," the undercover agent said quietly as he rubbed his brow, still half asleep.

"You didn't. I'm only sorry that you weren't well. How do you feel now? Any better?"

"Tired. How long 'til we get back?"

Chris looked at his watch and did a quick calculation. "Another eight hours. It's five in the morning."

"Oh dear."

"You go back to sleep. We'll be nearly home next time you wake."

"I'm sorry," Ezra mumbled again as he closed his eyes.

"No need for sorry, Ez," Chris said as he wiped the hair off Ezra's brow gently. He transferred his hand onto his friend's arm and watched as he fell asleep.

Buck came back quietly after satisfying his hunger and he had the doctor in tow. "Chris? Everything alright?" the ladies' man inquired.

"He woke up but he was real tired. Didn't say he felt sick though which I s'pose is good news. Kept saying sorry, poor guy."

The doctor unhooked the drip after seeing it was empty. "Should be re-hydrated now so he should be feeling better anyway. Just need to get him to eat something as well."

Buck looked down at Ezra and stroked his hair. "I'll stay with him, Chris. Vin was looking for you earlier anyway. The lucky fella won a heap of money at the poker table and he wants to tell you about it. The others have all gone to bed but they sent their best wishes to Ez."

"Okay. I'll come back when it's time to leave. Is that alright?"

"Sure. I don't like to leave Ezra on his own even if he is asleep. It's not nice being sick away from home at the best of times and to be left on yer own only makes it worse. At least I managed to persuade Nathan to stay away but it took all my powers. It's about time he had a proper break from taking care of us. He's always on call and it's not fair on him and we can cope with Ezra ourselves."

"Yeah, I know we can," the blond said as he patted Buck's shoulder and left him with the sick undercover agent.

+ + + + + + +

Chris returned late morning to find Ezra still asleep. "Have to start getting ready soon, Bucklin. JD's packing your stuff and Vin is in Ezra's cabin packing up."

"Thanks Chris," the ladies' man said as he stood and stretched. He'd caught up on some sleep and the doctor had brought him something to eat. Ezra though had not eaten properly for two days. He had refused earlier when Buck had tried to encourage him to share his meal.

"Doc? Can we wake him? I don't wanna have to carry him out of here," Chris asked.

"Yeah, go ahead. He obviously needed the rest by the amount of time he's spent asleep."

Chris shook Ezra's shoulder gently and called his name. The undercover agent opened his eyes slowly and sighed deeply. He was still drowsy so Buck helped him sit up and then get to his feet. The two men led him back down to disembark and took him to Chris's Ram in the parking lot. Buck put him in the back and slid in beside him after fastening the man's seatbelt.

"Okay Ez?" the ladies' man asked.

"I feel like we're still moving. My legs are shaking."

"It'll wear off. You always feel like yer still at sea when you get back on dry land. It's yer sea legs."

"Well, I want my land legs back. Sea legs and me don't get on. I'm sorry, Bucklin. You really were stuck with my company instead of a luscious lady, weren't you?" Ezra said and then yawned.

"No problem, Ez. I wouldn't have enjoyed myself much anyway knowing you were sick."

"Well, I am sorry things didn't turn out as they should have." Ezra yawned again and couldn't help his eyes closing as he fell asleep against Buck's shoulder. He'd never felt so tired in all his life and it wasn't the effect of the sedative anymore. That had worn off hours ago but his body still felt the need of sleep after his lack of rest the previous week.

"What do ya think, Chris? Do you reckon he'll be okay by the time we get to the hotel?"

"Well, let's hope so but motion sickness happens in cars too. If he's already feeling bad it might continue seeing as he's still moving. We'll see how it goes."

Chris needn't have worried. He drove on and Ezra woke a few hours into the road trip and reported that he felt much better. Chris had bought a few provisions to eat on the journey and he offered them to the undercover agent.

"I don't know. What if it makes me sick again?" Ezra asked dubiously. He had to admit that he did feel very hungry but he was wary of eating.

"There's some ginger cookies, I think. Nate said they were good for motion sickness so you should be able to eat those anyway," Chris said persuasively. "You don't know until you try and you'd better have something to drink too. Don't want you getting dehydrated again."

Ezra took a cookie and chewed a small piece and found the food made his mouth tingle and almost ache. It was such a long time since he'd consumed anything his taste buds were really affected. The more he ate though the less the impact was. He ate several cookies ravenously and smiled in relief as he washed them down with some water.

"Better?" Buck asked as he saw the contented look on his friend's face.

"Yes, thank you. Now you've started me off on food I think I could eat a horse."

Chris smiled and said, "We'll stop soon and get a proper meal. Don't think that horse will be on the menu though."

"Oh, I'm not picky. Rhinoceros, elephant, anything will do as long as it's big."

Buck laughed, pleased that his friend had regained his appetite. The blond drew in somewhere suitable and he saw the other vehicles stop too. The men managed to find a table where they could all sit together and they ordered their meals.

When Ezra's plate arrived it was piled high and he licked his lips in anticipation. His friends watched in fascination as he quickly ate the food. One minute the plate was full and the next it was almost licked clean.

"My God, Ezra. I know you said you could eat a horse but if I hadn't seen that with my own eyes I would never have believed it. Where did you manage to fit it all?" Buck asked with a grin.

"I've got hollow legs. I think I'm just about filled up to my knees now after that little lot."

"You ain't having any more, are ya?" JD asked incredulously.

"Just a small ice cream to finish off with. I need something sweet."

"You remind me of that poem. You know the one I mean, don't ya? A wonderful bird is the pelican, his beak can hold more than his belly can. Think yer the other way round though with yer stomach holding more than yer beak," Buck laughed.

"I can't say I like being compared to a pelican, Mr. Wilmington."

"Don't know why, pard. You both got big mouths, where's the problem with that?" Buck said as he ducked the fist that Ezra sent toward him playfully.

Meanwhile, Ezra's dessert had arrived and Chris drew in a sharp breath at the sight. "Small ice cream?" he gasped questioningly.

The glass was as tall as the Empire State Building and was packed with ice cream and all sorts of other things. Not for long though.

"Lovely," Ezra exclaimed as he put the last spoonful in his mouth. He had a coating of cream round his lips and he poked out his tongue to lick the remnants off. He sat back and patted his stomach in contentment with a loud sigh.

"Do you think you can stand up after eating all that?" Nathan asked in amusement.

"No. I think I'm rooted to the spot. You'll have to carry me on my seat out to the Ram. It would be rather like traveling by sedan chair, wouldn't it? I can wave at the peasants as we pass," Ezra said as he practiced a royal wave. He sighed and said, "I feel fat and immobile."

"You look it too, pard. Hope the suspension on your Ram can take the weight, Chris," Buck said as he laughed.

"No. Don't think it can, Bucklin. We'll have to leave him behind." Chris stood and began walking to the door with the other men.

"No. Leave some luggage behind instead. JD doesn't need all his bags. They're only filled with rubbish anyway. Get rid of those and take me home, please," Ezra begged as he struggled to his feet and hurried after his friends as fast as his stomach would allow.

"God, is that an earthquake?" Vin asked as he looked round curiously.

"Na, just Ezra running after eating all that food. Sure makes the ground shake, don't he? Look at him. He's lumbering along like a bull elephant." The ladies man smiled as he lounged against the Ram and then shouted to the puffing undercover agent, "Don't overexert yerself, pard. I don't wanna be covered in what you've just eaten," Buck said.

"I've been sick enough to last me a lifetime. I shan't be expectorating anytime soon."

"You'd better not be lying or you can ride home in the luggage rack," Chris warned.

"No. I've had enough fresh air too. I don't want to be outside. I promise I won't ruin your upholstery by being sick," Ezra said and then belched loudly.

"Jesus, Ezra. Every outlet from your body is a curse, ain't it? Always making some noise or other, ain't ya?" Buck laughed. "Have one of these." The ladies' man held out a packet of peppermint-flavored candy and Ezra took one gratefully.

"Think I ate too much, Mr. Wilmington. I've got stomach ache and I'm full of gas."

"Well, we'd better let him sit inside the Ram or he could float off like a balloon, Chris," Buck advised the blond with a wink.

"If yer inside with us, just keep yer gas inside yer body, will ya? That's all I ask," Chris said with a grin.

"I'll try but you wouldn't want me to explode because of lack of relief, would you? That could be very messy."

"God, I can see this is gonna be an enjoyable trip. Just keep the window open," Chris ordered with a sigh.

"I think I'll travel with JD, Chris," Buck said as he moved toward the other truck.

"Oh no, you don't. You're not leaving me with him. Get in, Bucklin," Chris ordered as he held open the door and fixed the man with a stern look.

Buck sighed loudly and looked round in disgust when the other men giggled at him. He ambled toward the blond reluctantly and climbed in with Ezra. Chris slammed the door shut in satisfaction and waved to the others.

"Good luck, cowboy. Yer gonna need it," Vin said just loud enough for Chris to hear.

Chris smiled in acknowledgement of the man's words and opened the driver's door. His friends heard him gasp and then say in disgust as he climbed in, "God Ezra. This is yer final warning. Just control yer bodily functions or yer walking home."

The End

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