Rating: Gen fic, FRT (fan rated suitable for teenagers)
Summary: Team Seven take a vacation.
Acknowledgements: The members of the Vin Tanner Fanfic and Discussion Group, whose encouragement kept us going during the writing of this epic!
Comments: This story was written as a round robin of 100-word drabbles for the Vin Tanner Fanfic and Discussion Group. The writers, comprising the Drabbling Vinburys, are: Carole, Dreamer (Susan), Jean, Susie, Rhiannon, 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.
"Ready to go, Cowboy?"
Chris Larabee looked up from his perusal of the papers in his hand. "In a hurry, Tanner?"
Vin laughed. "Yep."
"I suppose the rest of the boys are chomping at the bit, too?"
"They're waitin' by the elevator."
Larabee sighed, getting up from his chair. He took a step toward the door, then paused, giving Vin a Larabee glare. "This had better not turn out like the last vacation we took," he warned.
"That one weren't so bad," Vin argued.
The glare increased in intensity.
Vin sighed. "Ain't nothin' like that gonna happen. I promise ya."
Vin regretted that promise immediately. The other members of the team were arguing as they approached.
"I tell you, our destination is to Las Vegas!" Ezra crossed his arms over his tailored suit, ready to stand his ground.
"Just who the heck put you in charge?" Buck tugged at the waistband of his swimming trunks, donned in anticipation of their trip to sunny Phoenix.
"Now, ladies, settle down." Chris stepped into what was fast becoming a heated
debate, throwing a 'I told you so look' at Tanner. "Just who was in charge of this vacation?"
All fingers pointed at Vin.
"Hey! Decisions are made by those who show up!" Vin threw his hands up in the air.
"Vin, just where are we going?" Chris asked in a deadly calm voice.
Vin smiled brightly and answered, "You're going to love it! I got us the redline VIP package for Nascar with a three-day pit pass." Vin laughed as everyone but Ezra roared with excitement.
"Mr. Tanner, how did you manage that since it is sold out and costs over a thousand dollars?" Ezra inquired.
"Yeah, Vin. Tell us how you did it," JD said with admiration clear in his voice.
"Well, a friend from m'ranger days drives f'Team Pontiac," Vin explained. "He didn't need his race-priv tickets, so he gave 'em t'me."
"For free?" Chris asked suspiciously.
"Yep. He owed me big-time."
The other five agents looked openly sceptical.
"Vin, no one gives away something like that. You sure you've got it right?" Jackson demanded.
"Hell, I ain't that green, Nate! Look fer yourself," Vin retorted, proffering an envelope.
Nathan studied the Vegas hotel and NASCAR vouchers. "These.appear genuine, although... Dammit! It says four VIP passes, and two suites."
Vin frowned. "Yeah, superior suites, fer eight occupants, ain't it?"
"Mr. Tanner, I hate to burst your bubble, but I believe you have only procured accommodation for four."
"I'll sleep on the floor."
"I can't believe I've gone from `The Sport of Kings' to the `Sport of Cretins' in one short week."
"Shut up, Ez. Lots'a folks like stock car racing."
"Maybe I can get Jeff Gordon's autograph?" JD mused.
"Let's make it interesting, Kid. Hundred bucks says I'll get Dale Junior's before you get Jeff's."
Ezra brightened. "You've reminded me that we are bound for the gambling capital of the universe. This might be a glorious vacation after all."
"Sleeping on the floor doesn't quite fit that definition," Larabee groused, glaring in Tanner's direction.
Recognizing 'that' look, Wilmington spoke. "Now, Chris. Weren't Vin's fault he misunderstood."
"I agree," Nathan added. "Real easy ta get that double occupancy thing mixed up."
"Perhaps we should focus on all the things Vin got right," Josiah offered.
Outnumbered, Larabee did the only thing he could. Raising one eyebrow, he made sure everyone understood his displeasure, then reached for the elevator down
button. "Have it your way. But I'm pulling rank and claiming a bed. The six of you can fight over what's left!"
In the parking garage Vin stopped at a fluorescent-orange SUV.
Buck's jaw dropped. "What's that?"
"That's our wheels." Vin smiled smugly.
Six pairs of eyes widened, reflecting varying degrees of alarm.
"It's 800 miles!"
"Why can't we fly?"
"I refuse to set one foot inside that putrid-colored vehicle!"
Vin was unperturbed. "Couldn't git any flights. It's all freeway, we kin drive through the night... and there's nothin' wrong with the color!"
Josiah grimaced and began loading up six backpacks and an Italian calf-skin leather Tote.
"Let's look on the bright side," JD said. "Surely disaster can't strike twice?"
"We kin drive through the night," Ezra parroted four hours later, imitating Vin's drawl with an uncanny accuracy. "At this rate-"
"Ain't my fault the road's bein' repaired," Vin retorted.
"Hey, Vin," Buck called, "any chance we're coming up on a rest area? I could use a pit stop."
"I wouldn't mind stretching my legs."
"I could use a drink."
"So could I," Ezra muttered, "a stiff one."
"I think there's one just ahead," Vin reported.
Chris sighed. At the rate they were going, they'd arrive in Las Vegas just in time to turn around and come back
Four hours behind their estimated arrival, the bright SUV entered the outskirts of Las Vegas.
"Who has the map to the hotel?" Chris glanced in the rear-view mirror.
Vin felt all eyes on him as he sorted through a large envelope that held the tickets.
"Well," Ezra started impatiently and was interrupted by Buck.
"Give us a break, Ezra."
"Settle down!" Chris felt like he was driving a school bus full of kids.
"No map in here." Vin looked up and then back down.
"Just how were we supposed to find the hotel?" the blond bit out between clenched teeth.
Finally they checked in. Chris and Vin heard a sound that theyd hoped never to hear again.
"Yoo-hoo! Remember me? We met last July in Texas." A woman about fifty, wearing way too much make up and clothes two sizes too small, came rushing up.
"Damn, not her!" Chris hissed as Vin paled.
"She's obsessed with you," Ezra warned. "And Vin."
"Chris! Vin!" She hugged the resisting men.
"Buck, this is Rita Simpleton." Chris used Buck as a shield from the woman.
The woman's eyes lit up suggestively as she looked at Buck. "How are you doing, Sugar?"
"I'm f...f... fine, ma'am," Buck stammered, backing away.
"You're a handsome devil," Rita cooed, "but that moustache will have t'go."
"She ain't fussed 'bout the one on her lip, though," Vin breathed sotto voce to Chris.
"Let's find our rooms," Chris muttered tersely.
The men headed towards the elevator, groaning when Rita followed them.
"C'mon!" Vin growled, impatiently punching the call button.
The doors opened, revealing a large sign. 'SIX OCCUPANTS: MAXIMUM.'
Utter relief tinged the chorus of five voices.
Rita entered the elevator, dragging Vin and Chris with her.
"Yer dead meat," Vin mouthed to his fleeing colleagues.
Ezra halted his precipitous flight.
"Ms. Simpleton? Of the California Simpletons?"
"Why, yes," Rita tittered coyly, baring lipstick-stained teeth.
"Im thrilled to make your acquaintance. I met your late husband at the National Chia Pet Convention in 2001. I assisted him in some troubles with the judges and his exquisitely sculpted 'vombatus ursinus hirsutus' - or southern hairy-nosed wombat -
went on to win best in show. To demonstrate his appreciation, he vowed that if he could ever do anything for me, he would gladly return the favour. As his widow, I know you would want to honour that promise."
In the hotel bar, Buck, Chris, and Vin sat drinking.
"How long ya reckon he's gonna keep talkin' to 'er?" Tanner's eyes were glued on Ezra and Rita.
Buck fidgeted as he, too, watched the couple across in the dining room. "Just so long as he does," he answered curtly. "That's all I'm interested in."
"Yep," Chris nodded.
At one end of the bar, Josiah, Nathan, and JD were observing the others.
"You reckon maybe Ezra's doin' this out 'a the goodness of his heart?" Nathan asked casually.
JD frowned. "Our Ezra?"
"Was an awfully long car ride," Josiah smirked
As Rita swept in, the three agents stood hastily, backing up against the bar.
"You'll do just fine," Rita cooed. "Chris, you're perfect. Vin - a tiny hair cut needed, but oh, those beautiful eyes!" She pantomimed a swoon, then appraised Buck. "That moustache really has to go, Sugar."
She bustled away, blowing kisses. "Until later, darlings!"
Chris spoke menacingly into stunned silence. "Ezra, what have you done?"
"Gentlemen, I have succeeded in procuring three additional rooms at this excellent establishment."
"In exchange for what?" Vin growled.
"Your services for an evening." Ezra smiled innocently. "You'll be fine, I promise.
"Our services," Chris echoed with a scowl. "What the hell do you mean?"
"Putting it simply," Ezra began.
"I'm not shaving off my mustache," Buck broke in.
"I ain't cuttin' my hair," Vin retorted.
"At least she said your hair needed a trim. She wants me to shave off the whole thing!" Buck smoothed down his mustache in a protective, reassuring manner. "I'm not doing it!"
"I ain't cuttin' my hair."
"I don't care about your hair!" Chris snapped, glaring at the two men.
Vin glared right back. "That's 'cause she said you was perfect."
"Gentlemen, gentlemen, I assure you..."
The room grew quiet as all eyes turned toward the Southerner. Standish swallowed, not at all sure that his next words were going to be well received. Nonetheless, he'd made a commitment.
"To procure those extra room, all we need do is entertain," clearing his throat, he continued, "a room full of ladies for one evening."
"In just what manner were you aiming we do that?" Vin frowned, folding his arms across his chest, preparing to be stubborn to match the mood he was in.
"It is just a small matter of a stage, music and..."
"What the hell!"
"An auction?" Vin choked out as Chris silently fumed beside him.
"Yeah, a bachelor auction fashion show. The money all goes to the Cleft Palate Foundation to help the children," Claire the coordinator repeated, handing out brochures to everyone. "For performing, you get to keep your outfit, a goodie bag of gifts from our sponsors, and a five-course gourmet meal."
"I'll be at the tables." Ezra made to leave.
"Isn't there seven volunteers?"
"There will be," Chris said, with a threatening hand squeezing the back of Ezra's neck.
"It's for children," Nathan reluctantly agreed, looking at the brochure with Josiah.
Vin sat hunched miserably in his dressing-room, hugging a voluminous towelling robe protectively around him. Claire hadn't mentioned the fashion show was 'themed, and Vin had somehow ended up with the skimpiest costume. Standish was a dead man!
Vin's mouth dropped open in amazement, as Chris suddenly appeared wearing black, silver-studded, biker leathers. They clung to Larabee's well-muscled body like a second skin, defining his sculpted physique perfectly, whilst his male-model looks gave additional impact.
"Least y'look normal, Larabee," Tanner groused. "If anyone laughs at me, I'll shoot 'em! An' if I hear 'YMCA' being played... even once... I'm gone!"
Suddenly, Vin's powers of speech deserted him.
All he could do was point.
Something was standing just outside the door. Luxuriant chestnut curls cascaded past wide brocade clad shoulders. The full cut burgundy jacket was trimmed with gold piping, and hung almost to the knees. A pair of hunter green tights encased the slender calves, and upon the feet were a pair of medium heeled shoes with massive brass buckles.
The figure sniffed imperiously and produced a silk handkerchief from the sleeves of a lace-trimmed shirt.
"A word of advice, Mr. Tanner. The 'slack-jawed yokel' look does not become you."
"Ooooooh, honey, just call me Jane!"
Vin forced a painful smile as he was introduced to his 'high bidder.'
As his fifty-plus, facelift aplenty, plump, socialite 'date' giggled over her 'joke,' the sharpshooter rolled his eyes and looked around to see 'what' his team-mates had been 'gifted' with as 'escorts.'
This was all a bad dream!
Sleeping in the bathtub would've been better than... this!
And the... costumes!
Whoever the hell dreamt this up was surely going to die a long, slow, very painful death.
Right alongside Standish!
Dressed in nothing but a loincloth, Vin refocused when summoned. "Come, Tarzan!"
Nathan, swirling his sinister Dracula coat, was happily entertaining a grey-haired granny while Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid enjoyed the company of two attractive young ladies.
A dashing pirate complete with cutlass and eye-patch, Josiah swept past with a blonde on his arm. Chris cast Vin a despairing glance as Rita Simpleton simpered and cooed in his ear.
Ezra caught his eye, smirking as he charmed the most beautiful woman in the room.
Shivering, self-conscious and flushed with embarrassment, Vin began to plan Ezra's agonizing death. He yelped as a hand stroked his bare thigh.
"Time to play, jungle-man!"
"I just have to thank you!" gushed Claire, pushing through the crowd and somehow inserting herself between Vin and his 'date.' "We've reached our goal, and more, for this year's fundraiser! In fact, we'd like the seven of you to participate again next year."
Vin's eyes widened in horror at the idea, as well as the pinch his 'date' was aiming for his backside.
"Is there anything you need, before I go?" Claire asked.
The near-naked man grinned as his gaze shifted from Claire to a certain undercover man. "Thanks, but I'm plannin' on takin' care 'a everything else m'self."
Ezra felt stalked. Scanning the large banquet room, he looked for a hidden enemy. His gaze skipped past Vin Tanner then returned sharply, seeing the look of satisfaction upon the younger man's face.
Vin nodded to Buck, winked at JD and then smiled broadly at Chris. Josiah crossed his arms and grinned, as he nudged Nathan who stood beside him.
Just as Ezra decided to leave, a bellhop arrived with a large box. Curiosity overcame caution and soon the undercover agent was opening the lid.
Laughter exploded from his six companions as Ezra held up a purple dress.
Vin knew he should feel guilty about Ezmeralda's return to show business, but the con man deserved it for getting them into this mess. The last time Ezra had to dress up in drag was when they needed a distraction while rescuing Mary.
"Well done," Chris stated with admiration clear in his voice.
Vin was laughing so hard he failed to see the photographer taking his picture.
Orrin Travis's secretary was staring at her computer with drool running down her face.
"Are you OK?" Travis asked.
She mumbled something unintelligible and pointed to the screen.
"Damn, here we go again."
"Again?" the secretary queried.
"Well... Yes. During another case, Standish had... Never mind. Send me that email, and then delete it."
"No buts, Bridget. I won't have those images falling into the wrong hands."
"Yes, sir," Bridget muttered, her face rebellious as Travis disappeared.
Ezra stared at Vin, before his horrified gaze was drawn inexorably to the dress. This wasn't happening. Not again.
"What's th'matter, Ez. Ain't it yer style?" Vin asked innocently, suppressing a grin as Standish glared daggers at him.
"The style's decorously understated, unlike this obscenity's attributes!" Ezra snapped, extracting a wig from the dress box.
"Would it have killed you to put on that damn dress?"
"I assure you, Mr. Larabee, had I known Rita was proprietress of that fair establishment, and it was within the purview of her considerable power to eject us for failing to accede to her wishes, I would indeed have done as she asked."
"We mighta lost our rooms, but at least she gave us a tent. Throw me that tarp, JD."
Buck seemed unfazed by the change of circumstances.
"I wish she'd 'a gave us our clothes instead...I think...ah...ah...achoo!"
Six pairs of unsympathetic eyes turned to the shivering Texan.
Frustration giving way to concern, Nathan handed Vin his Dracula cloak. "Wrap up in this."
"Tent's up," Buck announced.
JD eyed it critically. "It's a four-man tent!"
"So sleep in the van!" Chris snapped.
"What's happening tomorrow, Chris?" Josiah interrupted hastily.
"We buy some cheap clothes from a discount store and sneak back for the luggage after the racing."
"I will not be seen dead in low-quality attire procured from an inferior establishment!"
"Could be arranged," Vin muttered, huddling under the cloak. "There's just one li'l problem," he added.
Chris glared. "What?"
"Tickets're in my jeans back at the hotel."
"Why us?" Wilmington complained.
"Buck's right, Chris. I'm Sundance, not Spiderman."
"Gotta be you two," Larabee reaffirmed. "This rest of us will stick out walking down 'the strip' dressed in these outfits."
"You haven't spent much time in Vegas, have you, Chris?" Josiah flashed a smile and his sword.
Snickering at his friend's antics, Nathan tried to back up Larabee's logic. "Look, Butch and Sundance did some pretty amazin' things. I'm sure you two can pull it off."
"Robbin' a bank would be easier than gettin' past Rita and her henchmen."
"Is there no legend sacred to you, Mr. Wilmington?"
"I know one," JD offered with a laugh. "Zorro!"
Grabbing the sword from Josiah's hands, JD tossed it to the ladies' man, who deftly caught it, assumed the familiar stance of the masked avenger, and began a mock battle.
Lunging and parrying furiously, Buck fought an unseen opponent, then, with a quick jab, he dispatched his adversary and sketched a "Z" in the air.
"If you're quite finished," Ezra drawled, rolling his eyes.
"What?" Buck retorted reproachfully. "I thought I was pretty good."
"Oh, please," Nathan scoffed. "I've seen better swordsmanship on a TV western."
"Gentleman... the tickets?"
One look from the furious blond sent 'Butch and Sundance' off down the boardwalk.
Twenty minutes later the duo were back, panting and out of breath. Buck shook his head. "We are gonna have to have a distraction."
"What?" Vin felt all eyes on him, an uneasy feeling crept up his spine.
"It would seem, Mr. Tanner, that dressed as you are, you would be the most likely distraction." Ezra crossed his arms over his chest and grinned.
Vin clutched the cloak tight around his neck as he tried to dart around the wall of flesh in front of him.
Vin threw the bags in the truck furiously. No one had ever seen Vin so angry. Not caring he was still wearing the Tarzan outfit while his clothes were beside him, he turned towards them.
"I will... kill her!"
His friends' eyes widened with horror as Vin spoke with rage, making him seem deadly calm.
"Not only was she following us around with a camera, she had one in the changing room."
As they realized what she had done, they matched Vin's anger.
"Because I wouldn't sleep with her," Chris stated. "OK. Operation destroy Rita Simpleton is now in motion."
"I have an idea for visiting a pertinent and most satisfactory retribution on Ms Simpleton," Ezra interjected smoothly.
"Does it involve C4?" Vin growled, face suddenly hopeful.
"For shame, Mr Tanner! My scheme's subtle, and will hit the 'lady' in a most... delicate place."
"Could'a done that iffen I'd'a had m'boots," Vin muttered, visualising Rita's ample posterior.
"That remark is unworthy of a gentleman," Standish chided.
The sharpshooter's eyes rolled heavenward. "I ain't no gentleman! Okay, how do we get her?"
"We dispatch the greatest humiliation..." Ezra paused for effect - "...by committing her to..."
"An asylum?" Chris enquired acerbically.
"I can see it now. We roll up to the Shady Rest Home for the Mentally Infirm - clad like this - and try to convince the staff that Mrs. Simpleton is the crazy one."
Josiah hefted the Tote.
"I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but..."
Opening the bag, he turned it upside down. It was empty.
"Gentlemen?" Ezra snapped his fingers. "I believe 'revenge' was the topic du jour? Perhaps young Mr.Dunne, via the Internet, could fabricate a release stating that the lovely Rita will be making a substantial donation to a charity of our choice?"
"Feels good to be back in my own clothes again," Nathan smiled.
Five men agreed, but the indignant huff from their sixth was loud and clear.
Vin smirked. "What's the matter, Ez?"
Looking down at the mismatched clothes his team-mates had 'lent' him, Standish raised an eyebrow, exceedingly displeased that his bag was the only empty one.
"Least it wasn't Vin's backpack." JD tried to look on the bright side. "We'd have lost the tickets and missed the race today."
"And speaking of which..." Chris gained everyone's attention. "The sun's coming up... breakfast, anyone? We can work on 'payback' later."
Team Seven piled out of the SUV in the Speedway parking lot and headed for the VIP entrance.
Vin frowned as Ezra glanced around nervously.
"Bee in yer butt, Ez?"
"I am merely ensuring that no one of my acquaintance is anywhere in the vicinity to witness my current attire.
"What's wrong with my shirt?" Buck demanded indignantly.
"Nothing, if floral curtains are to your taste," Ezra retorted caustically.
Buck bristled. "You know what you can..."
"We're here!" Nathan announced hastily.
Vin handed over the passes.
The official frowned. "You have only four passes. Three of you can't come in."
"How unfortunate," Ezra drawled in mock disappointment. Turning to the rest of Team Seven, who were not-so-quietly grumbling behind him, he said, "Gentlemen, I believe the time has come to bid you adieu."
"Just where do you think you're going?" Buck questioned.
Ezra smiled, his gold tooth glinting in the sunlight. "This *is* the gambling capital of the universe. I believe I hear the Bellagio calling my name."
The undercover agent rubbed his hands together in anticipation of impending wealth. "More than two thousand slots and over one hundred table games."
"But what about the race?" JD protested.
"That, my good man, I leave you to decide among yourselves." Ezra stepped to the curbside and hailed a passing cab.
Nathan followed the Southerner; he was not as interested in racing as the other men and decided that a day dogging Ezra's footsteps might prove to be more fun.
"Nate! You guys hold up!"
The Medic turned to find Josiah behind him.
"I believe I'll join you." For the sacrifice of missing the race, Sanchez would take a large corner of the tent come nightfall.
Vin, Chris, JD and Buck watched the unlikely trio pull away from the curb.
As Nathan and Josiah watched Ezra's high stakes poker game, Nathan wondered if you could actually be bored to death.
"I found a quarter!" Josiah exclaimed as he held the object up proudly.
"Wow. You should put it in one of those slots over there," Nathan suggested indubitably, desperate for something better to do.
"Why not?" Josiah put it in the slot and jumped when sirens rang out above him and balloons fell to his feet.
"That was weird."
"Congratulations, you won twenty-five thousand dollars," a casino employee told them.
"That will do the mission some real good," Josiah said.
At the Speedway track, the four agents toured the pits before the race.
"Finally, some action! This's the real deal, huh?" Vin enthused to his friends.
"Cool!" agreed JD.
The men strolled around, watching as the mechanics readied the high-performance cars.
Before entering the pits, Vin had helped himself to two hot-dogs, plus fries, from the hospitality suite. A bottle of coke was also tucked under his arm.
JD suddenly pointed. "Look at that one, Vin!"
Distracted by his food and the striking turbo-charged car JD indicated, Vin didn't notice the pipe trailing on the ground in front of him.
JD turned to see Vin lying face down amid the detritus of his mid-morning snack. He watched the sputtering Texan struggle to his feet, white T-shirt bedecked in ketchup-covered fries and smears of bright yellow mustard. Bits of bun hung in doughy beads from his hair, and a rivulet of cola snaked down the side of his face.
Vin took a faltering step, almost went down again, and JD slid his shoulder under his friend's arm.
"Don't even think it, JD," Vin said breathlessly, hobbling along and favouring his right foot. "We worked hard t'git here and I ain't leavin'.
"Please tell me you didn't give him the whole $5,000," Nathan inquired hopefully.
Being the generous soul that he was, Sanchez had divided his winnings five ways. $5,000 each had already been wired to the two shelters he volunteered at regularly. $5,000 had also been wired to the care facility Hannah lived in.
Of the remaining ten, five had been blown renting the most luxurious penthouse in Las Vegas; all possible amenities included.
Looking at the $20's left in his hands, Josiah sighed. "If Ezra loses any more... Well, I might be inclined not to tell him about tonight's accommodations."
"So you think Chris won't notice?" JD asked sarcastically, eyeing Vin's once-white T-shirt, now graced with a muddy-brown design.
Vin washed the remaining ketchup out of his hair. "Sure, if ya keep yer mouth shut!"
He swayed as a wave of dizziness hit and JD spotted an ugly bruise on his temple.
"You didn't tell me you hit your head!"
"...sit down before you fall down," finished a stern voice.
"Got eyes in the back'a yer head, Larabee?" Vin grumbled.
"Fortunately." Chris examined the rapidly swelling ankle and frowned. "Looks bad, Vin. We'll have to..."