Main Characters: JD, Buck, Vin

Rating: Gen fic (humor), FRC (fan rated suitable for children)

Summary: JD is determined to find the perfect gift for Vin’s birthday.

Disclaimer: The ‘Magnificent Seven’ characters are the property of MGM, Trilogy and the Mirisch Company. The characters are used here without permission BUT no profit is being made and no copyright infringement is intended.

After a demanding day of report writing at the ATF offices in downtown Denver, JD Dunne was looking forward to a mindless evening crashed out in front of the TV. Unfortunately, he found his mind too preoccupied to settle and eventually hit the standby button and let out a huge sigh of frustration. Across the room, Buck Wilmington raised an interrogative eyebrow above his newspaper.

“What’s up with you kid? You look like your budgie died.”

JD looked up gloomily. “Just thinking what to get Vin for his birthday.”

Buck lowered his paper and grimaced. “Tell me about it. I really want to get him something special this year, y’know?”

JD nodded. He knew; this was his own dilemma exactly. The past few months had been particularly stressful for Team Seven, with two major operations coming one after the other with little respite. Then a raid had gone badly wrong and Vin Tanner had spent two weeks in the hospital recovering from a gunshot wound. He was now back in work but confined to desk duty for at least another two weeks. To say the sharpshooter was miserable and cranky would be an understatement. 

This coming Saturday was Vin’s birthday and the Team was determined to make it special for him – hence the need for something a little more imaginative than usual in the gift department.

Still, it wasn’t like Buck to be short of creative ideas in that department.

“Does this mean you won’t be getting him another subscription to the ‘Entwined Hearts’ online dating agency?”

Buck chuckled. “I’ll never forget the look on his face when he read his profile!”

“Well, you did exaggerate his ‘attributes’ just a little.” JD grinned, remembering some of Buck’s more colorful wording.

“Just trying to help him out, kid.”

JD snorted. “I really don’t think Vin needs your kind of help, Buck. And was it really necessary to send a copy of his profile to the whole typing pool? You know half of them already swoon every time he walks in the room!”

“Yeah, and I really don’t get it.” Buck sounded genuinely perplexed. “How can those delightful ladies be interested in a scruffy Texan with me around?”

JD rolled his eyes at that, but he couldn’t help smiling as he recalled the expression of abject horror on Vin’s face when he discovered what Buck had done.

“So, what are you thinking of buying him?” he asked. “How about something Vin might actually appreciate? Now that would be a novelty.”

“Very funny,” Buck sighed. “Guess you’re right, though, under the circumstances… you got any ideas?”

JD had already run through in his mind and rejected a long list of possible gifts. Hiking gear? Boring; anyway, Nathan had already said he was getting Vin a new compass. Something for his motorbike? Boring. Something edible? Even more boring, despite Vin’s love of food. Everything he could think of was just - boring.

“Maybe something for his Harley?” Buck suggested.


Buck frowned. “Too boring?”

Glancing in Buck’s direction, JD’s attention was suddenly caught by the latest sports scores on the back page of the newspaper. Sport! Why hadn’t he thought of it before? Vin loved sport, football in particular, and was an avid supporter of the Dallas Cowboys; this was definitely an area worth exploring. JD felt a small thrill of excitement as the idea began to take shape.

He wasn’t, however, ready to share this revelation; Buck would have to think of a suitable gift on his own.

“We’ll just have to keep working on it,” he said brightly. “We’re bound to come up with something.”

Buck grunted.

After a suitable pause, JD stood up, trying to look casual. “Well, there’s nothing on TV; think I’ll go and check my email.”

He strolled nonchalantly out of the living room, leaving Buck buried once more in his newspaper.

JD quickened his step as he reached his bedroom. He closed the door behind him and sat down eagerly at the small corner desk. He powered up his laptop, opened Internet Explorer and used a search engine to locate the Dallas Cowboys’ official site.

JD clicked on the official merchandise section and scanned quickly through the list, encountering all manner of caps and hats, T-shirts, watches, table lamps… table lamps? He continued browsing, amazed at the number of different items it was possible to purchase with the Cowboys logo emblazoned on the front. He spend a few moments wondering why anyone would want an antique fireplace screen stamped with a football team logo, and paused for a moment to grin at the Goofy Bobble Head dressed as a Cowboys wide receiver. Nothing really caught his eye. There was nothing really unusual – or, rather, he corrected himself, thinking back to the fireplace screen, nothing unusual that Vin might actually want.

What he needed was something unique, something you couldn’t buy just anywhere. Something – old. The idea came to him in a flash. He could get Vin a souvenir program from a past game. He clicked on the history page and discovered that the Cowboys had defeated the Denver Broncos 27-10 in the Super Bowl in 1978. Perfect! All he had to do now was locate a program.

EBay was the obvious place to start. He called up the site and searched for ‘Superbowl 1978 program’. To his amazement, the search immediately returned one item. Excitedly, he scanned the description:

Genuine 1978 Super Bowl XII souvenir program!

Personally signed by the entire Dallas Cowboys team. Genuine autographs guaranteed!

Excellent condition (one small tear in the bottom right corner of the back cover)

The perfect addition to your Dallas Cowboys collection!

The small print stated that the auction ended in four days time, at 6.30 pm, Friday 15th. He’d be cutting it fine - Vin’s birthday was the following day, but fortunately, the seller was located in Denver. If he was successful he could pick up his purchase during the day before heading out to Chris’s for the party in the evening.

JD felt his heart begin to pump a little faster. This was it, the perfect gift – Vin would love it; maybe not quite as much as the hand-crafted saddle Chris had bought him, but he’d love it nevertheless!

He signed in with his ID, ‘PuterwhizXP’, and punched in an opening bid of $5.

JD spent the next four days furtively checking the auction at every opportunity. Fortunately, the Team was office-bound for most of the week, busy tying up loose ends and writing up reports of the latest operation. It was relatively easy to check the site several times a day without letting anyone see what he was doing. He didn’t mention Vin’s gift to Buck again and Buck didn’t bring up the subject. That was fine with JD. He wanted this to be a real surprise.

Initially, there was a worrying flurry of bids for the item, but by Wednesday it seemed that there were only two serious contenders – himself and someone called ‘Babemagnet101’. By Thursday, JD had begun to view his ridiculously-named competitor as The Enemy; this was no longer simply about Vin’s birthday gift; this was war!

On Friday evening, as his fellow team members were packing up to leave the office, JD logged on once more. With only half an hour left until the auction closed, he expected the action to start to heat up. Sure enough, he saw that he had been outbid by The Enemy once more, with the highest bid now standing at $102. JD hesitated; he had already bid higher than he’d initially intended to. Then again, you couldn’t put a price on happiness, could you? he reasoned – and there was no way he was letting The Enemy win this auction. Fixing in his mind an image of Vin’s excited face as he opened the gift, JD resolutely typed in $104, hit ‘enter’, and sat back in satisfaction as the words, ‘you are the current high bidder’ filled the screen.

“You coming to Inez’s, JD?” Nathan asked as passed JD’s desk.

“I’ll be along in a while; just need to finish my report,” JD replied, trying to sound casual while quickly minimising the auction page.

Nathan gave him a slightly odd look; hardly surprising, as the page now showing was the home page of the Weather Channel that he’d called up as a cover.

“Just checking it’ll be fine for the barbecue tomorrow,” JD explained. That earned him another strange look. It was sweltering midsummer in Denver and there had been no sign of rain for six weeks.

But Nathan simply raised an eyebrow and moved on.

JD breathed a sigh of relief, and then jumped as he heard Vin’s voice behind him.

“You’ve been working mighty hard on that report every night this week, JD. You sickenin’ fer somethin’?”

“I just want to get it finished, that’s all.” JD tried not to twitch as he willed the sharpshooter to leave. There wasn’t much time left and he needed to concentrate on the bidding.

“Vin! You coming?!” Chris’s voice sounded from the corridor.

Vin shrugged. “Guess we’ll see ya later then.”

JD nodded vigorously. “Later.”

He glanced across at Buck, still seated opposite him. The big man was showing no signs of moving. “Aren’t you going with them, Buck?”

“Just need to check over my report one last time.”

JD frowned. Buck’s casual air seemed a little studied, and it certainly wasn’t like him to stay late to finish reports. Then he dismissed the big man’s slightly odd behaviour from his mind; he had more important things to think about than what Buck may be up to.

One by one the remaining members of Team Seven left the bull pen, until only JD and Buck remained. It was now 6.10pm – only twenty minutes until the close of the auction. For the next ten minutes the two men worked in silence. Fortunately, JD really did have to finish his report, so there was no need for pretence.

He checked the bidding every few minutes. He was still ahead – maybe his bid of $104 was too rich for The Enemy. Then, with seven minutes to go, Bugs Bunny’s strident cry of ’What’s up Doc?’ announced the arrival of an email – an outbid notice! His verbal exclamation of annoyance drew Buck’s attention, but at this stage JD didn’t care any more if Buck saw what he was doing. He quickly typed in a new bid, recklessly raising his maximum to $150. A few moments later he sighed in satisfaction as a message popped up to tell him he was now the highest bidder.

A moment later, Buck let out an exclamation of disgust.

”Something wrong, Buck?”

“I’ve been out...” Buck clammed up and began typing furiously. JD frowned. He could have sworn Buck was going to say, “outbid.”

He watched his colleague closely over the next few minutes as the big man typed away, muttering incomprehensively into his moustache. Buck finally leapt up with a triumphant shout of, “Yes!” and punched the air.

A moment later Bugs announced the arrival of another email. JD stared at it in trepidation, a horrible suspicion dawning. ‘Babemagnet101’. Surely, it couldn’t be…? A cold feeling of dread began to worm its way through his guts. He opened the email and his fear was realised.

“Hey, ‘Babemagnet!’ he said loudly. Buck’s head snapped up.

“What did you call me?”

“I don’t believe it. Buck, you’re ‘Babemagnet101’, aren’t you?”

Buck’s eyebrows shot up. “You… what… how… oh, don’t tell me… ‘PuterwhizXP’!

JD groaned and put his head in his hands. “We’ve been bidding against each other all along!”

The color drained from Buck’s face. “It’s all right for you – I just bid $155!”

“Well, you’d have bid it anyhow, wouldn’t you?”

“Not if I’d known I was bidding against you!” Buck roared. “Can I retract it?”

JD scooted around the desk and stared over Buck’s shoulder as the final minutes began to tick away. “You can’t retract it without good reason.”

”This is a good reason!” Buck wailed. “We could have got it for half the price!”

“Well, why didn’t you tell me what you were doing?” JD shot back.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“It was supposed to be a surprise!”

“And what kind of stupid name is ‘PuterwhizXP’ anyway?”

“Oh, look who’s talking, ‘Babemagnet’!”

“Maybe we could pay half each?” Buck suggested hopefully.

“Not in this lifetime… hey, look!” JD pointed as Buck refreshed the page. In the final ten seconds Buck had been outbid. As the two men stared at the screen in shock, an announcement popped up. The auction had closed; the precious program had sold for a grand total of $158.

“Who the heck is ‘Verbal_dexterity’?” Buck asked, after a moment of solemn silence.

JD shrugged, feeling deflated. “Who cares? Now neither of us has won – just what are we going to get Vin for his birthday?”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

The following evening JD sat beside Buck, glumly watching as Vin Tanner opened his birthday presents.

Admittedly, the team had achieved the goal of cheering Vin up. Earlier, Chris had presented Vin with the new saddle and rendered the sharpshooter speechless. Now, full to bursting after a barbecue to end all barbecues, they were all gathered around the table watching as Vin opened his remaining gifts. He had already opened Josiah’s tickets to a rock concert, Nathan’s all-singing, all-dancing compass and Buck’s book of photographs of the Rocky Mountain National Park.

JD handed over his own gift and Vin tore the paper off eagerly, pulling out a soft packet wrapped in cellophane.

Vin smiled warmly at JD. “This is great, JD, thanks. I didn’t think my pair would last another winter!”

JD tried to smile back as Vin carefully examined the luxury motorbike gloves. He could tell his friend was genuinely pleased – Vin would never have bought such an expensive pair of gloves for himself – but still… JD had so desperately wanted to get him something really original.

He sat back and watched idly as Ezra handed Vin a large, flattish envelope.

The sharpshooter carefully opened the envelope, pulling out a thin booklet. His face lit up immediately. “Wow, Ez, this is amazing!”

“I hope it is a worthy addition to your collection. I was a little concerned about the slight tear in the back cover…”

JD felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand to attention as he heard those words, and caught the eye of a startled-looking Buck as he craned his neck to get a better view of the gift.

Vin shook his head, as he opened the booklet with reverence. “It’s perfect, Ez, just perfect.”

“What you got there, Vin?” Josiah asked curiously.

“It’s a souvenir program from the 1978 Superbowl, signed by all the Dallas Cowboys!”

“Buck? JD? You guys all right? Nathan, get over here, I think JD’s gonna pass out…”

The End

Companion Story: The Mystery Seller