I'm Fine

by Lyn

Credits: many thanks to the creators and actors of this wonderful show. They have given us much enjoyment.

"Outta bed Pard! You have work to do!" Chris Larabee shouted as he banged against the side of Vin’s wagon. He was rewarded with the sound of flesh hitting something hard, a curse, and finally a tousled head emerging from the end of the wagon followed by a slightly rumpled body.

"Yeah?" Vin asked as he rubbed at his eyes. Chris took in the slightly glazed and bloodshot look in the usually clear blue of the tracker’s eyes. Vin was normally the first one up. It was unusual for everyone, except Ezra, to rise before him as they had on this day. But then Ezra rarely awoke before noon.

"Got a job needs your attention."


"Seems that mountain lion’s back. Been getting into Mrs. Parker’s chicken coop again and she’s demanding we take care of it today."

"Alright. Give me a second. Then I’ll head out."

"You all right, Pard?"

"I’m fine."

"Okay," Chris replied, even though Vin still rubbing at his eyes told him differently. "I’ll get your horse ready."

"’kay…" the word was barely heard as the tracker disappeared inside the wagon once more.

Chris paused just a moment as though interpreting more than what had occurred in the brief exchange of words. Then he moved off towards the livery.

"Hey Chris, find Vin yet?" His oldest friend, Buck Wilmington, joined Chris.

"Yep. Thought I’d ride along with him. Think you boys can handle things here."

"What? Vin need an escort now ta track down a little ole kitty cat?"

"Seems like he’s getting a cold or something. Thought maybe I’d tag along."

"Vin’s sick huh? He say as much?"

"Of course he didn’t. You know he won’t admit to it." Chris said with a grin.

"Well, watch yer back then Pard." Buck’s attention was drawn across the street by a female form. "I hear Miss Melanie calling my name…later Chris." And the lanky man was off.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Chris looked up from tightening the cinch on his saddle as Vin entered the livery. Vin paused, his hand rubbing once more at his eyes before dragging tiredly across his face. When he finally looked at Chris, one eyebrow arched in question.

"Thought I’d ride along." Chris said in way of an answer.

"Suit yerself." Vin’s voice sounded a bit scratchier than normal.

"You all right?" Chris asked as he mounted his horse.

"I’m fine."

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Vin stopped and examined the remains of one of Mrs. Parker’s chickens. Not much left of it except feathers and a smear of dry blood on a rock. But it told Vin he was heading in the right direction. Vin couldn’t keep the sniffle away as he mounted his horse, then rubbed once more at his itchy eyes.

"You all right?"

"I’m fine."

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

The two men rode in relative silence, the quiet broken only by the sound of the occasional sniffle. When Vin sneezed for the first time Chris felt compelled to ask, "You okay?"

"I’m fine," came the raspy reply.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

One of Vin’s many kerchiefs made yet another appearance. Vin swiped at his reddened nose, then put the fabric away. Chris grinned to himself. Yep, Vin had a cold. He had to wonder how long it would be before the stubborn mule conceded to the fact and decide to turn back home.

"You all right?"

"I’m fine."

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

The hacking cough caught even Chris off guard. He looked over at Vin from under his hat brim. The man was looking worse, his skin paler, his eyes and nose runnier. His shoulders shook as he coughed. Any normal man would be crawling into his bed soon. But this was not a normal man. Stubborn mule.

"You all right?" Chris asked when he had stopped.

"I’m fine."

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Vin squatted beside the cougar spore. He had been taught many years ago what to look for, how to judge how long it had been since the tell tale sign had been left. But Vin couldn’t tell by the smell. He couldn’t smell anything. He coughed again, weaving slightly as he stood.

"How long?" Chris called from where he was watering the horses.

"Don’t know fer sure…" the words barely carried and were in a deeper key than normal.

"What?" Chris asked, pulling their horses along behind him. Vin stood waiting, his hands drawn up in the sleeves of his coat. For the past several hours Vin had pulled the coat tighter around him, slipping his hands in a pocket or under his arms whenever possible to keep them warm whenever he thought Chris wasn’t watching. But Chris had seen.

"Hour, maybe two." Vin changed his answer. Judging from the other clues they could be that close to the damned cat. He really didn’t care one way or the other right now.

"You all right?"

"I’m fine."

Chris handed Vin the reins to his horse, watching the sharpshooter struggle to get his boot in the stirrup. Once accomplished he saw Vin push upward, so Chris quickly mounted his own horse. But when he looked over Vin was not in the saddle. Glancing downward he found Vin sitting in a cloud of dust. Chris dismounted and moved around to his friend. He was obviously unharmed and Chris was certain the man had lost his balance while mounting causing him to sit abruptly and without any choice in the matter.

"You all right?"

"Chris? I think I’m sick…"

"Ya think huh? 'Bout time you admitted it. I was beginning to think we’d be out here for days before you came to your senses. Let’s get you back to town and into a warm bed." Chris hooked his hand under the tracker’s elbow and helped haul him to his feet. Then he pushed the complacent man into his saddle before mounting his own horse. Grabbing the reins to Vin’s horse he led the animal with his fast fading cargo towards home.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Vin coughed a good deal of the way home, pulling his hands out from under his arms only long enough to cover his mouth or blow his nose. Chris was amazed that he was allowed to lead his horse the whole way in to town, but Vin didn’t even seem to notice.

Buck was standing outside the saloon and moved over to walk beside Chris’ horse as they continued on to Nathan’s clinic.

"Finally admit it did he?" Buck asked as he took the reins to Vin’s horse from Chris.

"Took him long enough," Chris answered as they stopped at the base of the clinic steps. Chris dismounted and the two men looked up at Vin. It was as though the sharpshooter was asleep and yet his eyes were open.

"Vin?" Buck said gently.


"Want ta get off yer horse Pard?"

Silently Vin dismounted and would have fallen on his rear once more if Chris hadn’t caught him under the arms and held him upright. Once he could stand on his own, Chris let go. Vin just stood there, as if unable to function on his own. Chris pressed his hand against the younger man’s back and Vin shuffled forward. Slowly he was guided onto the boardwalk, up the stairs, and across the landing to Nathan’s door, where the dark healer stood watching their slow progress.

"Buck told me he was sick but he jest didn’t know it hisself yet. Looks like he figured it out." Nathan said as he stepped inside, closely followed by the others. "Let’s get you in bed Vin…Vin?"


"Take your coat off Vin," Chris said from beside him.

Vin shook his head. "Cold." The single word was deep and raspy and broken up by coughs.

"We’ll get ya warmed up real fast Vin. I promise. Got lots of blankets and a fire goin’ in the stove."

Vin reluctantly shrugged out of his coat. Buck turned the covers down on the big bed as Chris and Nathan cajoled the tracker into relinquishing first his gun, then his boots and finally his clothes, then got him under the covers. Nathan set about doing a quick evaluation of the sick man muttering under his breathe the whole time about how none of the men could come to him for help before they were so sick.

"Got himself a full blown cold. Fever, raw throat, congested. Mighta been able to keep it from getting this bad if he had stayed in bed and gotten some help sooner." Chris had the good graces to look at least a little guilty. After all, Vin had been in bed until he had awoke him to track that cat. Nathan didn’t seem to notice though and Chris was not about to point it out.

"He’ll be fine in a few days. Needs some rest mostly. Got a few things that should make him feel better too. Now why don’t you two get out and let a man work." Buck and Chris made a hasty retreat to the saloon.

Vin watched them go with wide, runny eyes. He was being left alone with Nathan. The man who used smelly potions. The man that made you drink awful tasting concoctions. The man that would never give Vin his clothes back once he got his hands on them.

Right now Vin didn’t care. He was too hot, too cold, too tired, too achy to sleep, too anything and everything to care. He just wanted all the aches and pains to go away. And if Nathan’s potions would do that then that was okay with him.

He opened his mouth and let Nathan spoon some sort of liquid in. He drank the tea he was given. He said nothing when Nathan wrapped a liniment soaked towel around his neck. He took the spoon of honey to sooth his throat. And he was greatly relieved when he finally drifted off to sleep.

A Week Later….

Seven men sat around a table, passing a bottle of whiskey and playing poker. Vin was recovered except for a persistent cough, which would leave in time. He had been out from under Nathan’s care for 3 days, had rested in his little used room at the boarding house like he was suppose to, had drank Nathan’s tea. Even now he nursed a mug of the tea instead of whiskey.

He looked up as he picked up a card, noticing a hand rubbing against glazed and bloodshot eyes across the table.

"You all right?" he asked

"I’m fine."

The men continued playing. A short time later a sniffle was heard.

"You all right?" Josiah’s deep baritone asked.

"I’m fine."

A little later a kerchief appeared and rubbed against an obviously tender nose.

"You all right?" Buck asked, his deep blue eyes sparkling.

"I’m fine."

A sneeze startled the players.

"You all right?" JD asked as he tossed two cards onto the table and picked up the two dealt him.

"I’m fine."

A half hour passed before the rattling cough came forth.

"That cough does not bode well." Ezra commented.

"I’m fine."

A shiver passed over the body and a hand crept up to find warm refuge under an arm.

"You all right?" Chris enquired.

"I’m fine."

And when a few minutes later the man stood, swaying slightly on his feet, then lost his balance and sat suddenly back into the chair Vin asked once more, "You all right?"

"I think I’m sick," Nathan Jackson said, his voice scratchy and deeper than normal. Vin was immediately on his feet.

"Well, I know jest what ta do ta cure that. Let me hep ya over ta the clinic." Vin looped one of Nathan’s arms over his shoulder, helping the tall man to stand, then began walking him out of the saloon. Their steps were followed by the laughter of the other peacekeepers.