Summary: The Seven celebrate Vins birthday.
Comments: This story was written as a round robin of double-drabbles (200 words for each part) for the Anniversary Week of the Vin Tanner Fanfic and Discussion Group. The writers, comprising the Drabbling Vinburys, are: Carole, Dreamer (Susan), Rhiannon, Susie, TJ and Xiola.
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.
The back room of Inez' Bar was lavishly decorated with balloons and streamers, the table loaded with a feast of Mexican food. Beer flowed freely. Team Seven was celebrating noisily, each taking a turn at relating a story about the guest of honor, seated self-consciously at the head of the table.
Chris Larabee felt it fitting that Vin Tanner's birthday coincided with the first anniversary of his appointment to the team - for Chris, both were a cause
for rejoicing. He had invited Vin for a quiet drink to celebrate, and was unsurprised by the sharpshooter's genuine shock when his remaining five colleagues appeared, shouting, 'surprise.' Recovering quickly from the initial embarrassment that all this
was for him, Vin had thrown himself into the party with enthusiasm.
Vin sat back with a contented smile as Inez cleared away the remains of the meal.
"Thanks, guys. Ain't never had a party tmatch it."
"It isn't over yet, pard," Chris said. "You still have to open your presents."
"Presents?" Vin's jaw dropped as six arms reached under the table and produced six parcels of varying sizes.
"Of course you've got presents!" Buck grinned. "So, which one do you want to open first?">
After a moment's thought, and more than a little trepidation at seeing the anticipatory grin on Buck's face, Vin decided to take pity on JD, as the kid was practically bouncing in his chair.
"I think I'll open JD's first, if that's okay." He reached across the table, an eager JD aiding him by pushing the small present in his direction.
Unwrapping the gift, he withdrew what appeared to be a vacation brochure. The cover showed two figures, soaring above the earth in tandem. With a smile on
his face, he read, "'Soar like an eagle in this purest form of flight! Fly tandem with a certified instructor pilot by your side. Just imagine a bird's eye view from 2,000 feet, soaring effortlessly with the hawks and eagles. You will be amazed by the grace
of this aerial dance. Tandem hang gliding is a once in a lifetime experience.'"
"It's a gift certificate to go hang gliding," JD explained. "There's a campground up there and everything."
"This is great, JD." Vin shook his head in disbelief. "Always did want to try this. I reckon it'll be like hanging from the clouds." He looked at the younger man. "Thanks."
"Well." Sanchez smiled at Vin. "I'm thinking that's my cue to go next. if none of you gentlemen mind." Glancing at his friends, the profiler could see that no one had any objections and offered a nod in thanks.
Meeting the big man's blue eyes with his own, the sharpshooter looked curious. "How so, Josiah?"
"Because, my friend. I have something here that I hope will bring you back to earth once you're done flying with those majestic birds of prey." Sliding his package towards the birthday boy, Sanchez watched as it was passed from one set of hands to the next. When the Texan's fingers grasped at the plain brown paper, Josiah spoke, urging his friend to unwrap the gift. "We've all had the privilege of getting to know you over the past year, Vin, and in doing so, I believe we've all gained a better understanding of the things that really mean the most to you."
Holding the picture frame up, the sharpshooter's eyes were riveted to the word in large bold print. Below it there was pertinent historical data and the Coat of Arms that represented it.
"It's TANNER," Vin beamed.
"It is indeed," Josiah said contentedly.
Vin opened Nathan's gift next, tearing off orange paper to reveal a blue pouch with "Backcountry Medical Kit" printed boldly on the front.
Folded out, it revealed bandages, scissors, thermometer, duct tape, Tylenol, Motrin,
antihistamine, antibiotic ointment... a dizzying array of items. He didn't want to even guess what some of them were for. He chuckled at the packet of kids'
'Spiderman' Bandaids and the book called 'Idiot's Guide to Wilderness Medicine.'
"Tryin' ta tell me somethin', Nate?"
"Yup. You know you always come back from the mountains with some kind of injury."
"Do not!" Vin was indignant.
"On the contrary," Ezra countered. "On the last occasion you sprained your ankle."
"Time before you caught a cold falling in that stream," Josiah continued.
"How about when he slipped on a cowpat and concussed himself on a fence post?" Buck chuckled.
"That was at Chris's ranch, it doesn't count," JD put in helpfully.
"Well, there was that time a snake bit you on the-"
"CHRIS!" Vin glared Chris into silence, then put his hands up in defeat. "Okay, I give!"
"Just don't want to lose you, Vin," Nathan said seriously.
Vin flushed. "Thanks, Nate, it's a great gift," he said sincerely.
JD fidgeted, casting an amused glance at Buck. Vin recognised that look, so decided to open the moustached agent's gift next.
Tanner picked up the cerise, foil-wrapped box and shook it suspiciously. "Have you rigged this, Bucklin?"
Vin's half-smile at Buck's indignant denial spoke volumes. Tearing open the carton, he frowned in puzzlement when a red washcloth, plus an innocuous-looking card dropped out.
Vin's eyes widened, and twin spots of red dusted his cheeks as he digested the card's contents. "It's... it's a... heck... it's a..."
"A month's trial membership at BB's massage parlour," Buck supplied helpfully.
"More like a brothel," Nathan whispered sotto voce to Josiah.
"Ulrika runs a clean, legit business, Nate! She's got talented fingers and... Well, I had to vet her, didn't I?" Wilmington stated defensively, when six pairs of eyes bored into him.
"I dunno what t'say, Buck! A massage ain't somethin' I'd normally... Umm... What's wit' the cloth?" Vin enquired.
"That's a modesty towel."
Chris chuckled at Vin's alarmed squeal. "He means 'thank you,' Buck. But Texan's only do large in everything, so isn't that the wrong size?"
"Not for his cute ass," Buck asserted.
Vin groaned, hanging his head in embarrassment.
"Moving right along... Mr. Tanner, please accept my ardent felicitations on this 'l'anniversaire de ta naissance.'"
"I guess I should be thankin' ya, Ez, but I ain't sure whether ya jist said Happy Birthday or asked me t'marry ya."
"I was indeed wishing you many happy returns. To mark the occasion I have procured two items which I hope will bring you pleasure."
"One present's more'n plenty."
"I was unable to choose, so I purchased both." Ezra set two elegant packages in front of Vin, who took the slimmer one and unwrapped it. "It's a print taken from Ansel Adams' original negative."
"'El Capitan, Winter.'"
Ezra could see the sharpshooter was awestruck, and it brought a lump to his throat.
When Vin made no move to open the second, a small mahogany box, Ezra nudged it closer.
"Seven chocolates! One each!"
Ezra looked on in horror as Buck helped himself and chewed noisily.
"Mr. Wilmington! These are no ordinary confections! The Toscane, like a fine wine, is to be savoured..."
He fell silent as the others followed suit.
"Nobody touch the Piaboisine. That's Ez's favourite."
The gratitude shining in Vin's blue eyes was worth more than any chocolate.
"I have to admit that is good chocolate," Chris said before tossing Vin an envelope.
"You did take my advice!" Buck yelled, making Vin grimace.
"Please tell me you didn't enroll me in the stripper of the month club," Vin groaned.
"Open it and find out," Chris said.
Vin gave Chris a sideways glance before opening the envelope. Inside was a black and white glossy picture. Vin tilted his head, trying to make out the image.
"This one of those pictures where if you stare at it long enough an image appears?"
"Looks like an ultrasound photo to me," Nathan said.
"You're pregnant?" Vin was looking at Chris like he had lost his mind.
"No, my horse is," Chris informed him.
"You knocked up your horse?"
Buck and JD fell out of their chairs laughing uncontrollably.
Chris ignored them and turned to Vin. "Feisty should be giving birth any day now. The foal is yours."
"Wow, Chris, I don't know what to say." Vin was stunned at the enormous gift Chris was giving him. "Thank you, but I don't think a horse would fit in my
"Thought you might be interested in helping me make the ranch operational again."
Realizing he'd rendered Vin speechless, Chris smiled. "You don't have to decide now. Take some time; think about it."
Vin nodded gratefully, gazing down at his pile of gifts with something approaching awe. He glanced around the table, a lump forming in his throat.
"Guys, I don't know what t'say. I ain't never had so many presents; guess I ain't had so many friends b'fore! I can't tell you what it means t'me, being part'a the team."
He raised his glass. "To Team Seven!"
Seven glasses clinked.
One by one the revellers departed, until only Chris and Vin remained. Vin fingered the ultrasound photo pensively.
"Chris, this is too much."
Chris shrugged nonchalantly, reaching out a hand. "If you'd rather join the stripper of the month club..."
Vin chuckled, snatching the photo away. "Already got one gift I'll never live down!"
"Good. Because if you're gonna work the ranch with me, you'll need a horse."
Vin raised an eyebrow. "I ain't said yes yet."
"No; but you will."
"Pretty sure of yerself, ain't ya, Larabee?"
"Yup," Chris replied smugly. "Ready to go, Birthday Boy?"
Vin held Chris's eyes for a long moment, then grinned. "Reckon so - partner."