by Lyn

Vin Tanner was as comfortable as he was ever going to get in Chris Larabee’s spare room. The senior agent had picked him up at the hospital just a few hours ago and had refused to take him back to his own apartment, ensconcing Vin instead at his ranch. It was tradition, it seemed, that whenever one of the agents was injured or sick they ended up spending at least part of their recovery at the ranch with mother hen Larabee watching over them, and usually at least a few, if not all, of the balance of Team Seven nearby.

And so that is where Vin now found himself. He had no doubts that had he not pushed for an early release, there would be a minimum of two additional agents hovering over him at this very moment. But instead he found himself alone at Chris’ house, while Chris picked up the prescriptions issued to him. Antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and painkillers. Vin knew the routine.

Chris had threatened Vin to within an inch of his life if he even attempted to get up, and had hidden the crutches for extra safety, before leaving him alone. Vin couldn’t admit to his superior, and best friend, that there would be no chance he’d even consider moving from where he had been settled. He was beginning to think that it might have been a good idea to have stayed at the hospital another day.

He studied the leg that lay propped on numerous pillows. Even he couldn’t believe what had happened. A routine case and everything had gone like it was supposed to. Money exchanged hands, weapons were delivered, and the arrests were made with no shots fired. It was a clean bust, and for once no one had been injured. That is until Vin tripped, pulling and ripping the tendons in his knee. Tripped! Of all things.

And now he found himself stuck in bed and off active duty until he could recover. He’d probably be allowed back on desk duty in a week or two, but who wanted to be stuck behind a desk!

At least Chris had left the remote to the TV handy. Vin was tired but didn’t really want to sleep, even though the last dose of drugs they had given him in the hospital was pushing him toward it. Fighting to keep his eyes open, he began to channel surf. He laughingly stopped on an old Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen movie, The Magnificent Seven. Vin felt it ironic the movie was on. His team in the ATF, Team Seven, had been dubbed the very same title by the other ATF teams. Vin had yet to see the movie and had always wondered about the comparisons. He settled himself back to watch, thinking it would pass the time until Chris returned.

Within moments Vin was asleep.

When he awoke he was inside a wagon, the canvas cover billowing softly in the early morning breeze. He shifted carefully, not wanting to bump the sensitive injured leg, but found that there was nothing wrong with it. Even as that realization sunk in, his mind was telling him that of course there wasn’t anything wrong with the leg. He stretched and climbed out of the wagon, dragging a buckskin jacket after him. Putting the garment on, he automatically strapped on a gun belt and slipped the mare’s leg into the waiting holster. Then he took a slow, careful walk around the awakening town.

He ended his patrol at the jailhouse. Chris Larabee, dressed in black shirt and pants, black boots and hat, and a black duster coat, sat in a chair in front of the jail, his eyes watching the people beginning to move about.

"See anything?" Chris asked, knowing that Vin had taken at least one patrol around the town before joining him.

"Nope," Vin replied. "Quiet as a whorehouse on Sunday."

Nathan emerged from his clinic, nodding at the two as he headed toward the stairs. Buck and JD were walking towards them from the boarding house, Buck once more giving JD a hard time about his choice in hats, and JD commenting on Buck's mustache and his latest conquest the night before. Josiah was not far behind them, eager to get a start on some repairs he was doing at the church.

Without a word, the small group moved towards the local restaurant for breakfast. As they passed the saloon, Ezra stepped out, dressed in a bright red coat and coordinating vest. The man squinted against the bright morning sun.

"This is what morning looks like Ezra," Nathan chided him.

"Mister Jackson, I am well aware of what mornin’ is. However in my line of work, mornin’ is usually the time for retirin’ to a nice comfortable featha bed, rather than awakening to the glaring sun."

Buck snorted at the comment and even Josiah smiled. The southerner’s nocturnal ways were well known and accepted amongst the seven men that acted as peacekeepers for the town of Four Corners.

For some reason, Vin didn’t feel any of this was odd. He just accepted that this was the way it was, as one often does in a dream.

The group entered the restaurant and took up seats at a large table. It wasn’t long before their breakfast was brought out to them. The meal was spent in what felt like a normal fashion, with JD and Buck exchanging insults and passing a few to the unflappable gambler. Nathan added his opinion when he felt necessary and Josiah would quote a pertinent verse from the bible or some other piece of literature. Vin and Chris ate in silence and no one thought the different of it.

The meal was interrupted however by the sounds of gunshots in the street. All seven men were on their feet and cautiously out the door in a matter of seconds. Vin took off in one direction, Chris in another after giving silent directions to the others. The seven peacekeepers circled around the saloon, where the gunshots had come from.

It was over quickly and without additional gunfire. The two men inside the saloon stopped their mayhem as soon as they saw seven guns trained on them.

Vin and Buck stepped forward, relieving the pair of their guns and took each by the arm to escort them to the jail to sleep off the alcohol that had caused them to argue. JD followed close behind and the other four began to go their own ways.

As he was stepping up onto the boardwalk in front of the jail, Vin tripped. He immediately felt a sharp pain in his knee as he went down, clutching it as he rolled over onto his side in the dusty street. Buck grabbed hold of the second prisoner and took them inside as JD knelt in the dust. They could hear the other four running toward them, having witnessed Vin’s clumsiness.

"You okay Vin?" JD asked as Vin did his best to turn the air blue.

"Don’t try to stand Vin," Nathan cautioned as he dropped at Vin’s side.

"Don’t worry Nathan," Vin said between clenched teeth. "Ain’t no chance of that."


Buck emerged from the jail and he and Josiah carefully picked Vin up to carry him to Nathan’s clinic.


"Stupid! Just plain stupid!" Vin muttered in between colorful curse words.

"Vin…come on Vin, wake up."

Vin’s eyes popped open, moving over his surroundings. Bed, TV, Chris, chair, pain. He was at Chris’ ranch. The buckskin jacket he had been wearing was gone. Chris’ black duster and clothes were gone, replaced instead by a black T-shirt and well worn jeans.

"Hey Pard, seemed like you were dreaming a bit there."

Vin looked at the TV. The closing credits of the movie were rolling. He had missed watching it again.

"Yeah, reckon I was," Vin answered as he pushed himself up into a sitting position. Chris was quick to push some pillows behind his back to help him sit up.

"Looks like we missed the movie Team Seven was named after," Chris commented as he handed Vin a glass of water and his medication.

"Yeah. Need ta watch it some day. But seems ta me that we’re livin’ that movie, only in modern times." Vin replied. "Might pale in comparison."

Chris looked at the man curiously, then decided it must be the drugs that elicited even that little bit of introspection out of the normally silent man.

"Maybe you should get some more sleep Cowboy." Chris finally said.

"Yeah, reckon I should…" Vin was already drifting off once more. "Tell Nathan I ain’t drinkin’ none of that skunk juice…"

Chris studied his friend, curious about that last comment. Then he shook his head and turned off the light, leaving Vin to get some sleep.

In his dreams Vin Tanner was once more taking a tour of the town of Four Corners, his mare’s leg strapped to his thigh, and Chris Larabee was already seated in front of the jail. Things were as they should be, with Buck and JD walking down the street, Ezra emerging from the saloon wearing a bright red coat……..