TYPE OF FANFIC: gen humor
MAIN CHARACTERS: Vin and Seven
RATING OR WARNINGS: PG-13, some bad language
SYNOPSIS: Vin needs a cure, badly.
This story was previously hosted at another website and was moved to blackraptor in July 2011.
The voices of the gathered peacekeepers rose, the men arguing amongst themselves.
"I'm tellin' ya, it ain't gonna work," Nathan said for the third time.
"I beg to differ, Mr. Jackson. This cure is time tested, an old family remedy, passed down through the centuries."
"Centuries?" Nathan scoffed and rolled his eyes.
"Well, perhaps only a generation or two, but nonetheless it has been an efficacious remedy for Mr. Tanner's aliment on many occasions, I assure you."
"Ain't no ailment," the healer argued. "Man's jus' got a case of the hiccups." He turned to the tracker, who was slumped down low in his chair, wishing the shadows could swallow him whole. "Ya need to drink a big glass a water, real fast, and they'll be gone," he insisted.
Hic. "Tried that when y' told me the first time," Vin replied. Hic. Hic.
"Mr. Tanner, I assure you, I am completely sincere. Why, it was my sainted mother who taught me this therapy," Ezra said, sliding three full shot glasses over in front of the tracker.
"Oh, go on and give it a try, Vin," Josiah rumbled, his tone more than a little amused. "Even if it don't work, you'll still be feeling a little better about it."
Tanner stared at the three whiskeys. Hic. "What'd I got t' do again?" Hic. Hic.
"One simply holds their nose with one hand and drinks all three shots in quick succession – without drawing a breath."
Hic. "Without takin' a breath?"
Ezra nodded, trying to look as sincere as he possibly could.
Hic. Hic. "Ah, hell, what'd I got t' lose," the tracker sighed. Hic.
He reached for the first drink, but stopped when Ezra cautioned, "Ah-ah. The nose, Mr. Tanner. One mustn't forget the nose."
Hic. Vin glowered at the gambler, sure the man was making up the whole damned thing just to get him to do something that was going to look damn foolish. But he was desperate enough to give anything a try. After spending half the day with the damned hitch in his breath, he'd try just about anything to get rid of it.
Reaching up, Vin held his nose with one hand and with the other lifted the first glass to his lips. He took a deep breath – hic – and swallowed the first shot. He set the glass down and reached for the second, gulping it down as well – hic – then grabbed the last shot and downed that as well.
Buck, Josiah, JD, Nathan and Ezra all leaned forward, watching him. Vin squirmed under the men's gazes, feeling like he was being speared by huge sewing pins. Hic.
The five peacekeepers all leaned back, groaning.
"I simply do not understand it," Ezra said, his brow knotted with confusion. "The Standish Cure has never failed in the past."
Hic. Hic. Hic.
"Ya gotta hold your breath, Vin, for as long as you can," JD said sagely. "That'll do the trick, you'll see."
"Didn't work before," Buck reminded the young sheriff.
"He didn't hold his breath long enough," JD argued.
"He was turnin' blue 'round the lips!" Buck replied. "Any longer an' he would've passed out where he sat!"
JD looked at tracker, hazel eyes wide and innocent. "Try it again, Vin. My mother had me do that whenever I got the hiccups, and it always works. Honest."
Hic. With a sigh Tanner took a deep breath, blew it out and then sucked in as much air as his lungs could hold and clamped his lips tightly shut – hic . . . hic . . . hic, came the muffled sounds in the tracker's chest.
"It ain't workin', JD," Buck told the sheriff, his tone conveying clearly the unspoken "and I told you so."
"Wait," JD snapped, watching as Vin's face turned red from the effort.
The tracker's eyes rounded slightly – hic . . . hic . . . – and his cheeks puffed up like he'd poked two billiard balls into his mouth. Hic! He gasped for a fresh breath, then wheezed for a few times while he regained his breath. Hic.
"I told ya!" Buck crowed at JD. Then, without warning he lunged halfway across the table and slammed both fists down on the tabletop right in front of Vin, yelling "AHHHH!!!"
The other four men jumped and the tracker was instantly on his feet, his Mare's Leg in his hands and aimed at Buck. Hic.
"Damn!" the big ladies' man lamented, shaking his head. "Thought that would work for sure!"
Hic. Hic. "Yeah, worked so good it almost put y' in the grave, Bucklin!" Tanner snarled. Hic. Hic.
Buck slid back into his chair and looked over at Josiah. "Maybe y' could try prayin' over him again," he suggested.
Josiah shook his head sadly. "Layin' on hands was never my gift, Brother Buck."
"Maybe if ya preached hellfire and the like, you could scare the hiccups out of Vin," JD offered hopefully.
"If it's all the same t' . . . hic . . . y' . . . hic . . . think I'll jus' go . . . hic . . . shoot m' damned self . . . hic."
"I'm gonna get y' another big glass a water," Nathan said, staring to rise.
"And I shall procure additional whiskey," Ezra offered hastily. "Immediately."
"Try holdin' your breath again, Vin," JD worriedly instructed the tracker.
Josiah closed his eyes, praying fervently, "Oh Lord, please take pity on this wretched sinner. . ."
The bat-wing doors to the saloon burst open with a thunderous crash, the storm called Chris Larabee rolling in, green eyes flashing. "Vin Tanner, you goddamn son-of-a-bitch! I've come to collect the reward on your fuckin' worthless head!" he bellowed, his gaze locking on the tracker like he was sighting the man down the barrel of a long rifle.
Movement stopped, every muscle in the saloon locked in place, waiting for hell to break loose. And the only sound was the slow fade of the last piano notes, then silence. Silence so deep and so cold it felt like ice might begin to form in the room.
Larabee took three long strides to the table and, ignoring the shocked, disbelieving stares that greeted him, peered angrily at the standing tracker, whose blue eyes looked as big and as round as a pair of fancy China tea cup saucers.
Larabee's hand started for the Colt at his hip, stopped by the sudden cacophony of voices: "Chris!" "No!" "Now, brother–" "Mr. Larabee–" "Are y' crazy, stud?"
Then, the gunslinger drew himself up and . . . grinned.
The room filled with a collective sigh of relief from the regulators.
Tanner met Larabee's dancing gaze, and his eyes narrowed. "What t' hell was that 'bout, Larabee?" he demanded, his heart still pounding in his chest.
Chris's grin grew wider.
Buck and Ezra began to chuckle, Nathan and Josiah quickly joining them, then JD as well. And the chuckles escalated to laughs and from laughs to a roar.
The rest of the patrons quickly joined in. Everyone except Vin Tanner, who stood where he was, fingers curled around his Mare's Leg, his knuckles white, his eyes still wide and his shoulders hunched like he was half-cat and ready to spit.
"Answer me, damn ya!" he demanded of Larabee.
Chris wiped the tears from his eyes and smiled.
"It's called a cure, ya damn fool," Buck managed, wiping away his own tears. He shot JD a look and added, "I told ya I had it right! I just didn't have the Larabee glare ta back me up!"
Vin blinked, eyes going even wider when he realized the damned hitch that had been plaguing him was finally gone. Then . . . he grinned and started to laugh himself. "Shit, Cowboy, y' pr'bly scared ten years off'n my life!"
"Not to mention the rest of ours," Nathan added and JD nodded emphatically.
"Amen, Brother, amen," Josiah concurred, shaking his head sadly.
"Worked, didn't it? What're you gripin' about, ya ungrateful bastard," Chris teased.
Vin shook his head, holstered his weapon and sat down, reaching for one of the whiskeys Ezra had refilled. Chris did the same and the two men downed their drinks in single gulps, their glasses hitting the tabletop at the same time.
The six regulators turned hardened glares on . . . the gambler.
Ezra's eyes flew wide and he started violently in his seat, his hand coming up to cover his mouth.
And they all waited . . . for the sound that never came.
Laughter filled the air again.