One Helluva Day!

by Holly

It had been one hell of a Thursday, from beginning to end, and he was almost beyond exhaustion. Mind, body, and spirit had been battered beyond his threshold of tolerance and more than anything he just wanted to lay down and go to sleep for a week. Maybe by then when he woke up things would look better to his tired eyes.


It had started all too early. Vin Tanner had been awakened at two in the morning to the frantic pounding on his door. The cries for help from one of the building’s children had echoed through his apartment and his aching head. He hadn’t even made it to bed until nearly midnight, after spending a late evening going over the next day’s operation.

Chris, Buck, and Nathan were in Los Angeles for a conference and weren’t due back until Saturday. Ezra and JD were testifying in a crucial case that was beginning to drag itself out. And Josiah had taken a few days off to help the sisters at the tiny convent in Vista City with a few minor repairs. Vin was currently on loan to Team Two as their sniper while theirs was out with the flu. Vin had spent the last day going over the plans for that day’s bust and the last minute preparations he needed to make, having come in late to the whole operation. Most of the guys on Team Two were cool with it, but there were always the two pinheads that were put off by Vin’s reputation and affiliation with Denver’s premiere ATF team. Still, it was his job to protect those men and do it he would while turning a blind eye and ear to their less than friendly ribbing and cutting remarks. It was just one more day and he was done.

“Mr. Vin! Mr. Vin! Help, help! It’s Mr. Carter, I think he’s having a heart attack.”

Once the rapid beating of his heart and his labored breathing had slowed down enough that he could hear, Vin had been out of the bed in an instant. Pulling on a t-shirt and a pair of shorts over his briefs he didn’t even stop to consider how sweaty he was before running out the door and bounding down the stairs.

The Carters were a very nice elderly couple that lived on the first floor. Mrs. Carter was often baking her ‘blue-eyed angel’ one sweet treat or another in repayment for Vin’s help with minor repairs and errands for the two neighbors. Vin loved doing it and didn’t really think about it much. It was just what he did and to help out those in need just came naturally to the conscientious young man.

By the time Vin got downstairs, Mr. Carter was in cardiac arrest and after performing CPR until help had arrived, Vin had driven Mrs. Carter to the hospital. In dirty sweat soaked clothing he had sat with her until her two sons had arrived and they received word that the old gentleman had suffered a major heart attack. Even though he would likely survive, the rest of his days would be spent in a rest home. After promising Mrs. Carter that he would check up on them and giving her a quick hug, he had left her to the care of her family.

By then it was after 5:30am and Vin had just enough time to run home, grab a quick shower, and get to work. He needed to recheck his equipment for the bust. His post was high on the top of a building overlooking the warehouse where the bust was taking place. With no way to get inside ahead of time it was his job to watch the doors.

The bust went down about 11:00am but not without a hitch or two or three. No one was killed though two of the suspects had been wounded, both by Vin, who had been forced to take them down when one of the two hecklers he had been suffering through had pretty near gotten his fool head shot off. The idiot had been out of position and Vin then spent most of the rest of the afternoon having to go over what he saw and write up the report. Not to mention the fact that he had sprained his ankle when he had to jump up and change positions himself to cover the idiot’s ass. Though he had been able to keep the ankle injury mostly hidden it had begun to swell and throb as the day wore on and he hadn’t really given it time to rest. Darren Sykes, the leader of Team Two, had finally ordered Vin to go by the ER to have it checked, not only because of regulations, but because “the last thing I need is a pissed off Larabee up my ass because his sharpshooter was injured while under my supervision”.

So, it had been back to the ER for another three hour wait for them to tell him that he had sprained his ankle and should try and stay off of it for a few days. Duh! Well, he had at least been able to check on the Carters while he was there. Nothing had changed but the sweet woman had seemed touched that he had stopped by, then she had chastised him for looking like he had been in a bar fight and lost, then sent him on his way to get some rest and let his ankle heal up. A glance at his reflection in the mirror as he stopped by the bathroom on his way out explained her reaction. His eyes were darkened with lack of sleep and fatigue. He hadn’t eaten all day, unless you counted Toastchees and an oatmeal cake as a meal. He really did look like hell.

And as if his day hadn’t already been a total disaster, that #@&%!#%&@! Jeep of his had broken down. Vin had to have it towed to a local garage and call a taxi to get home.

Running on empty and limping worse than ever Vin wearily made his way up to his lonely apartment. He had already called The Saloon and left a message with Inez to tell Ezra and JD that he wouldn’t be able to make it. He had promised to have a drink with them after work, but was too tired to care. It had been the day from hell and his only thought was to climb into his bed from whence this whole thing had begun, go to sleep, and pray he would awaken to a renewed sense that life wasn’t meant merely as a form of slow torture.

Damn, he was tired. Sick and tired. He missed the guys. Having spent nearly the entire week in the office on his own, he had not relished in the silence like he had thought. He had missed JD and Buck’s tireless heckling of each other. Josiah’s strange tales, Ezra’s flowery speech, Nathan’s concerned glances, and most of all Chris’s quiet and sometimes not so quiet presence.

Dropping his butt onto his worn sofa and pulling off his hiking boots, both the one he could tie and the one he couldn’t, he realized he wasn’t going to make it to the bedroom. It was after 8 o’clock and within seconds of laying his head back on the couch, he was out.


“Mr. Tanner!”



Oh God, it was all starting again. Vin awoke with a start, his head pounding to the same rhythm as the horrible banging noise. Quick natural reflexes had his brain refocusing and gathering all of the clues to put together what all had happened that day. He also recognized the voices outside his door. Damn it. Ez should have gotten his message. Maybe they had just come by to check up on him. But really, he just needed to be left alone to sulk and rest and heal, both emotionally and physically, from what had been a grueling day.

Pulling himself up on his feet he shuffled toward the door. Throwing open all of the locks he swung the door wide, ready to rip both men a new hole.


Not two, but six voices assaulted his ears and he staggered back a little in shock as all six of his friends pushed and shoved their way into his tiny apartment.

“Hey, Vin.” JD’s smile was big enough to light the room as he eased past the stunned sharpshooter, four pizzas in hand. “We thought we’d just bring the party on over here.”

“Certainly you didn’t think you could slip out on us, Mr. Tanner.” Ezra was carrying a six-pack of his favorite domestic beer of choice.

“Hope you don’t mind, brother.” The big profiler quickly followed, carrying a twelve pack of coke, some more beer, and some chips.

Vin stared after Josiah. Wasn’t he supposed to be in Vista City?

Buck and Nathan followed, with the tall medic handing Vin an ice pack and a bottle of ibuprofen and Buck quickly slipping his arm under Vin’s to help steady the wobbly man trying to nonchalantly stand on one foot.

“Shoulda’ known we were going to find out about that ankle, old son.” Buck’s stern look was softened by the big smile that followed. “Didn’t think we’s gonna forget ya, did ya?”

“But…” Vin’s mind couldn’t quite figure out what was going on. Maybe it had been a harder day than he thought. What were they all doing here? Weren’t Buck and Nathan supposed to be in Los Angeles until Saturday? And so was…

A hand on his shoulder had Vin looking up to stare into the face of his best friend. A mixture of relief and confusion warred for control. Chris was the man who understood Vin like no other. “Let’s get you sat down before you fall down, cowboy. You look like about fifty miles of bad road.”

Buck and Chris both shuffled Vin over to sit on the couch, while Nathan propped up the ankle and took the ice pack back to place it on the swollen appendage. Then the others slowly settled here and there around the room.

Chris put a crudely wrapped and very heavy package on Vin’s lap, only adding to Vin’s confusion.

Buck cleared his throat, his voice serious. “We know you’ve had a rough day, Vin. One of your neighbors told us about Mr. Carter on our way up. We’re really sorry to hear about that, know you’re really fond of that nice old couple.”

“And Sykes spent a good fifteen minutes trying to ‘explain’ the actions of his two hotheads and your subsequent injury.” Ezra added what he had learned from Team Two’s leader when he had stopped by the office to escort Vin to The Saloon only to find Vin already gone for the day.

“Those two unfortunate souls are definitely going to be thinking three or four times before bothering you again.” Josiah’s prophetic voice held a steely tone that did not bode well for the two errant agents.

“I stopped by the ER to check on you after Ez called me, but you’d already left.” JD had searched for over thirty minutes before he finally discovered that Vin had already been checked out and had left the hospital.

“Sounds like a pretty rough day.” Nathan sympathized. “Course now you’re in for a long weekend.” A sharp look from Vin was met with a firm shake of the medic’s dark head. “No way. You’re on leave until Monday with that ankle. No arguments.”

Vin just rolled his eyes. “You forgot one.”

“Huh?” Buck grunted beside him.

“The jeep. It broke down on me on the way home. Had to call for a tow and a cab.”

Chris was watching Vin with concern. His best friend did look rough, with the swollen ankle, the dark smudges under his eyes and the slumped shoulders, but he also noticed the underlying confusion.

“We took an early flight home and Josiah drove back this afternoon.” Chris patted the package in Vin’s lap. “Open it.”

Vin began to fumble with the paper, quirking a grin as he recognized the funny papers from the last Sunday’s newspaper. He stared with wonder at the beautiful slab of granite he found inside. It was a carefully crafted desk plate and turning it over he read the inscription. “Vin Tanner – Team Seven” and in smaller letters below “Sharpshooter Extraordinaire”.

“Ez insisted on the bottom part.”

Vin swallowed hard, not knowing what to say and still totally confused. Finally he managed a quiet croak.

“Thanks, fellas. It’s… It’s… amazing. Just… well… thanks.”

Vin didn’t look up but continued to stare at his present, his mind whirling. What had he done to deserve this? It wasn’t his birthday or anything?

Chris’s voice quietly sounded in his ear. “It’s been two years since you joined the team.”

Vin looked up at Chris with the wonder of a child echoing in his deep blue eyes.

“Happy Anniversary, Vin.”

As the quiet rumblings of his friends’ chatter grew around him and the food and drink was prepared, Vin sat back in wonder at the day he had had. Glancing about at the friends, the family that he had to rely on whenever the chips were down he smiled for the first time all day.

Yep, it sure had been one helluva day.

Sunshine on a cloudy day
Strength for the weary body
And balm for an ailing soul

Dedicated to the Black and Buckskin Family!
July 2, 2003

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