Chapter Seven


"Chris! Vin!  JD!"  Buck's voice suddenly boomed through the pit area.  "Look who I just ran into!"

"Dale Junior!" JD gushed, "and Jeff Gordon!"  He rushed forward to meet the famous drivers. "Wow!"

"Vin..." Chris started, eying the sharpshooter.

"I'm okay."

"Yeah, you look okay," Larabee retorted.

"I ain't missin' this," Vin insisted, using a shaky hand to wipe the sweat from his brow.

"Tanner," Chris warned.

"I said I ain't missin' this," Vin repeated.  He took a tentative step, grimacing with pain and fervently hoping that this would not be the moment his churning stomach chose to empty itself.


Just as the racing legends reached them, Vin's ankle turned painfully, throwing him forward into Dale Junior's chest.  Before anyone could react, both Tanner and Earnhardt were sprawled on the pavement.

Cameras flashed all around as the duo tried to untangle themselves.

"Oh... my..." Buck snorted and slapped JD on the back.

Chris was determined that he wouldn't be as undignified as his friends, but one look at their faces sent him into a fit of laughter.

"Damn it, Larabee, how 'bout some help here!" Vin avoided looking at Dale Junior until he heard laughter coming from the NASCAR Driver.

Dreamer (Susan)

"I'm really sorry..." Vin said to Dale, accepting a hand up from Chris.

"No problem, you're the guy who took a spill earlier." Dale pointed to the large screen that was replaying his earlier fall over and over.

"Damn! That's how Larabee knew!" Vin said, staring at screen.

"I'd shake your hand but I still have to drive and I need my hand."  Dale avoided the jinxed sharpshooter and tipped his hat to the group.

Buck ignored the sharpshooter's cussing as he answered his phone. "Josiah did what?"

Turning to his friends, Buck exclaimed, "You're never going to believe this!"


"Josiah's hit the slots jackpot! So he's rented us a luxury condo from his winnings," Buck relayed to the listening agents.

"Yes! Bye-bye tent!" JD cried, punching the air triumphantly.

Chris poked Buck's arm with a finger.

"How much did he win?"

"$25,000, but Ezra lost-"

The screeching roar of an engine being over-revved interrupted Wilmington, and a thick, choking pall of exhaust fumes suddenly engulfed the four men.

Vin's eyes watered as he coughed and spluttered. His nose twitched, and Tanner
swallowed convulsively when the colour abruptly drained from his face. He wanted to sneeze - or maybe throw-up.


As Jeff and Dale Junior walked off, a slight breeze stirred the air; not enough to dispel the choking cloud, but Vin was pleased to think if he *did* find himself on his knees horking his guts up over someone's shoes, he would be hidden from the all-seeing eye of the giant screen's camera.

Turning away, he collided with a solid wall of seething womanhood. The cloying scent of 'Obsession' was too much for his tormented stomach.

He looked down just in time to see his breakfast make an encore appearance on the ample stage of Rita Simpleton's polyester-clad bosom.


Sanchez pulled the phone away from his ear and raised an inquisitive eyebrow.

"What's the matter, Josiah?" Nathan asked.

Taking his eyes from the receiver, the profiler frowned.  "I... well... honestly, I'm not sure... Buck was passing on my news, but then a loud roar… a car engine I guess, interrupted him."

"Nothing unusual about that.  It's a race track, ya know."

"Oh, I know," Josiah shrugged.  "That's not what I'm curious about though."

Sitting forward in his lounge chair, Nathan was getting curious himself. "Oh?"

"Nope. The... 'retching' sound was... interesting!  But the banshee scream that followed was... fascinating..."


Rita's sonorous bellow of outrage drowned out the roar of revving cars. As she staggered back, her hip caught the rim of a large tub of race-logo balloons. With a strangled scream she toppled backwards, disappearing into a mountain of yellow and red.

Scarlet with embarrassment, his head spinning, Vin sank to his knees.

"Give me a hand, Buck," Chris hissed.

The two men dragged the sharpshooter to his feet and hurried away from the spectacle.  Buck shuddered as Rita's enraged screams reverberated around the track.

Chris pushed a shivering, white-faced Vin into a seat.

"Emergency Room," he stated firmly.

Chapter Eight


"Ain't goin' t' the 'mergency room," Vin protested weakly, one hand on his aching head, one on his roiling stomach.

"Yes, you are."

"Wanna see the race."

"Not this time, pard. JD, go unlock the van."

Hurrying ahead of his two friends as they supported a staggering Vin toward the parking lot and their rented SUV, JD looked back at what could be seen of the
unfortunate Rita Simpleton. Buried in balloons from her head to her thighs, the woman's high-heeled feet were kicking furiously in the air, moving in synchrony
with the wails that emanated from her unseen mouth.


Nathan snapped his cell phone closed. Looking around he realized that as he tried to call Chris, his other friends had left him standing in the middle of the casino.

A cheer was heard somewhere off to his right. Turning in that direction, the back of Josiah's head was visible over the crowd.

Approaching the cluster of people, he was not surprised to see Ezra in the middle of the action.

"Aces over Jacks!" 

Ezra was reaching for the pile of money when his phone began to ring.

"Mr. Tanner did what?"  Ezra stood abruptly, sending his chair over backward.

Dreamer (Susan)

Vin was feeling better as he lay back on the hospital bed with three lovely nurses taking care of him.  He smiled as they brought in a television.

Vin watched in horror as his fall and his emptying his stomach contents on a enraged woman were broadcast over and over on CNN.

"Races have rodeo clowns?" asked the pretty blond nurse as they watched Rita fall backwards into a tub of balloons until only her spider veined legs kicking furiously were visible.

By the time Vin's friends returned to the room, the station had started playing it in slow motion.


"Aw, jeez!  I look like an idiot," Vin groaned, as he switched off the TV.

"That's the least of your worries, Vin," JD commented, crossing to the window.  "Yep, I thought CNN would do a follow-up."

"CNN?  JD, what's going on?" Chris demanded, glancing at the puzzled-looking Vin and Buck.

"An ambulance arrived, and I overheard the ER nurses talking.  Apparently Rita's allergic to latex.  She's been brought in for treatment."

The older agents stared blankly at JD.

"So?" Vin grunted.

"Well..."  JD chuckled. "Rita's... she's..."

"JD!" Chris prompted angrily.

"It's the rubber compound.  She's... blown up... like a balloon!"


"I'm fine."

"Whatever.  Humour me- lie down and shut up."  Chris put his hand on the Texan's chest.

"We shouldn't have helped him get out of the hospital."

"JD, I'm OK."

"You've got a concussion, a broken ankle and a cold. I don't think the doctor would've let you go if he knew you were spending the night in a tent."

"I'd rather take m'chances here than risk runnin' inta Rita.  Now git- I don't want ya'll t' miss the race."

"You're not coming?"

"M'head's spinnin', m'ears is roarin'- long as I kin hear the radio, I'll think I'm there."


Larabee was vaguely aware of JD and Buck sitting to his left. They seemed to be enjoying themselves despite the empty seat between them.

Trying to focus on something other than Tanner, he considered the news of Josiah's winnings, wondering how much Ezra had coerced from their friend. The thought made Chris smirk, mostly because he knew Sanchez would have more meaningful ways to spend the money.

When his thoughts happened on Nathan's smiling face, Larabee's thinking automatically reverted to an injured Vin.  "Damn!" he muttered as he stood.  Telling his friends to enjoy themselves, Chris quickly left the racetrack.


As Chris neared the campsite, his cell trilled.

"Larabee.  ...Hi, Josiah, how's it...  Ezra gambled away the WHAT?  What penthouse suite?  ...No, you didn't. I suggest you drag him out before he lays you and Nathan down as a bet!  ...Yes, you do that. ...Vin?  I'm heading for the campsite now. Yeah, see you later."

Chris parked beside the tent and poked his head through the flap, expecting to find Vin still fast asleep, cocooned in his sleeping bag. The tent was empty. Frowning, Chris felt the sleeping bag. Cold.

"Stubborn, ornery, reckless, darn-fool Texan," he growled. "Where are you?"

Chapter Nine


Larabee took another look around. The top layer of Vin's sleeping bag had been pushed to one side, the six backpacks and one Italian calf-kin leather Tote they had brought along were piled haphazardly against the side of the tent, and the battery-operated radio droned on, relaying up-to-date race information, despite the lack of an audience.

A quick check told him there was no sign of anyone at the rustic yet serviceable outhouse just a few yards down the hill.

Chris swallowed hard, suddenly picturing his feverish friend stumbling through the woods, lost and out of his head.

"Vin?  Vin?!"


From the doorway, Vin spotted Ezra. Wearing a guilty look on his face, Standish was clearly trying to avoid looking up at his friends.  As he watched, the large hand of the profiler landed on the gambler's shoulder and squeezed.

Ezra held open his hand, with one hundred dollars in chips exposed. "Mr. Sanchez, I am dreadfully sorry..."

Using the crutches the hospital had given him to move further into the casino, Vin heard a gasp escape the undercover agent.

Ignoring Ezra for the time being, the Texan headed toward the big screen television playing across the room.

"Mr. Tanner!"

Dreamer (Susan)

Ezra grabbed the sharpshooter in time to stop him from using the crutch to smash the television to pieces.

Ezra ripped the weapon from his grasp while Vin wobbled unsteadily, causing a domino effect as he pushed Ezra into a waitress who caused a whole line of slot players to topple over.

The slot players promptly resumed their posts and frantically fed their coins into the machine.

"Hey, it's the Nascar klutz," someone yelled, swarming Vin with autograph seekers.

Thankfully the manager of the casino gave them a complimentary suite on the condition that Tanner stay out of the casino.

"You fellas go get our freebie suite organised," Vin growled. "I's watching the racing 'til yer done."

Ezra, Josiah and Nathan followed the relieved-looking manager, whilst Vin found a comfortable armchair close to the television.

Ten minutes passed.  Suddenly, the strident whoop-whoop of the fire alarm sounded.

"It's a terrorist attack!" a panic-stricken man screamed.

Utter pandemonium ensued.  Hysterical customers surged towards the exits, ignoring the authoritative voice over the casino's PA appealing for calm.

Vin cursed, struggling upright.  As he hobbled from the lounge area, the power and lights went down, and the in-house water sprinklers erupted into life.


The room emptied and he was alone in his precarious trek toward the entrance.  Shivering as the frigid water pelted down upon him, Vin felt his crutches slip on the slick tiles. The picture of a deer on an icy pond flashed in his brain just as everything went black.

He couldn't have been unconscious long. The sprinklers were still spewing and the sirens still wailing as he slowly crawled across the floor and out into the sunlight. 

He blinked in confusion. Why was there a SWAT team at the casino? And why were their guns all pointed at him? 


Tanner swore the SWAT guy on his back must have weighed four hundred pounds.  He felt like a rag doll tossed around at someone else's will.

Somewhere in the distance though, Vin heard a familiar voice. Concentrating hard, he trying to make it out.

Who was it?

What were they saying?

If only he could shift this damn weigh on his back, then maybe he could get some answers.

"Vin... Vin... Come on, pard... Wake up!"

From underneath the pile of bags no longer stacked neatly in the tent, Larabee slowly coaxed a sweat soaked, concussion-wracked Tanner back to consciousness.


Chris cursed himself for leaving Vin alone. The sharpshooter was pale and trembling, and groaned as his eyes opened a slit.

"M'head hurts.  SWAT guy's a gorilla..."

"What SWAT guy?"

"In th'casino. I ain't a klutz, Chris... weren't my fault, was them crutches... an' them sprinklers..."

"It was just a dream," Chris soothed, worried at Vin's rambling and obvious confusion. 

"Chris!"  Vin grabbed his arm. "Ez lost 'siah's winnings!"

"You got that bit right," Chris said dryly.  "How'd you know?"

"Was there... in th'casino... watchin' TV.  Weren't I?"

To Chris's alarm, Vin's eyes drifted closed.

"Vin!  Stay with me. VIN!"

Chapter Ten


"That was Chris," Nathan announced, snapping his cell phone shut. "Vin's not lookin' too good."

"Is Chris taking him back to the hospital?" Josiah asked. 

Nathan shook his head. "You know Vin. He's refusing to go, so Chris wants me to take a look at him, make sure he's okay."

"I think we should all go check on our brother," Josiah said.  At Ezra's nod of agreement, he quickly headed for the exit. "I'll get us a cab."

Nathan looked at Ezra. "If Vin needs to be back in the hospital, I'll see to it he gets there," he vowed.


Buck looked at the two empty chairs and then caught JD's eye.  Both men nodded, a silent agreement that they would rather be with their friends.  The duo worked their way out of the stands and toward the exit.

Chris snapped his cell phone shut after speaking to Buck.  It seemed that in the next hour the team would regroup back at the campsite.

Looking down at his sick friend the blond wondered, not for the first time, if this 'team' vacation was such a good idea.

The ringing of his cell phone startled Larabee out of his thoughts.


Dreamer (Susan)

Orrin Travis paced his office, furious.  How could seven normally competent men mess up so badly on vacation.

Bridget was busy seeing if she could find the sender of the email. Vin wouldn't be pleased that the entire Federal building had received a copy.

Now Rita Simpleton was suing the ATF and The Nascar Klutz for her injuries and embarrassment at being featured on CNN.

"Damn, I'm just going to have to go bring them home myself!" Orrin called Bridget to get him a plane ticket to Vegas. He would drag them back kicking and screaming if he had to. 


As Travis' Bureau sedan turned onto Denver airport's slip-road, he punched a button on his cell phone.

"Hello?  Put me through to Senator Hawkinson, please... Yes, I know it's Sunday dinnertime, but this is extremely important... That's correct... This is Assistant Director Orrin Travis calling... No, I don't want to speak to the Senator's aide...! Yes, I'll hold."

"Hawkie!" Travis greeted, when his fraternity brother finally came onto the line.  "Hello, old friend...! Yes... it's been far too long.  Hawkie, I have a problem with one of your Californian Simpletons, and need to call in a favour. Let me explain..."


"Don't think I've met her. But I knew George." Hawkinson's voice darkened.  "National Chia Pet Convention 2001.  Should've won that show- my curved-beak Echidna- the Tachyglossus... If it wasn't for some young whippersnapper who must have memorized the rule book... name was Ezekiel Sanford... Stanwich... Love to get my hands on him..."

Travis felt an ominous chill run up his spine.  He had the nagging feeling that whippersnapper might turn out to be someone he knew well.

"So you'll take care of things?"

"No worries," Hawkinson soothed. "Rita Simpleton, lawsuits, CNN footage, NASCAR Klutz- I'll make it all go away."


Chris frowned, recognising the voice on the line. "Bridget?  Where...  At the office?  On a Sunday? ...Yeah, I know, total workaholic..."

"How's who? ...TARZAN!  How did you...  Well, yeah, we've had a few problems...  You know? How... You saw Vin on CNN? ...AD Travis is WHAT? Bridget, you have to stop him! We'll drive back in the morning. ...Yes. Tell him I can explain everything... Right. 'Bye."

Chris groaned and collapsed beside Vin, now resting more comfortably in the tent.  "Guess what, pard? AD Travis is on the warpath and I'm pretty sure he's not going to stop at scalps..."

"Chris? Vin?"  The tent flap was pushed aside and a clearly worried Nathan peered inside. 

"Come on in, Nathan," Chris invited.

"How's he doing?" the healer asked, entering the tent.

"I'm fine," Vin said, "but Larabee here don't believe me."

"I think I'll be the judge of that," Nathan retorted, checking out the sharpshooter.  "Fever's down," he reported a minute later, nodding in satisfaction. "I think you'll be fine if-"

"Told ya I's fine," Vin interrupted.

"Like I was saying... *if* you get plenty of rest and take your medicine like you're supposed to," Nathan finished.

"Ah, hell," Vin complained.

Chapter Eleven


'What a way to spend Sunday evening!' Bridget thought to herself as she watched the IT guy work on her computer. The man had been there for hours, tracking down false ISP's and triangulating signals. Whoever had sent that picture of Vin didn't want to be caught.

"Got it," the man finally announced, quickly making his way to a phone. Within minutes, he'd passed on his information and Bridget knew that somebody somewhere was about to get a knock on their door by some not-so-laid-back Federal Agents.

Bridget pouted, knowing the Texan's version of 'Tarzan' would never be seen again.


Chris Larabee surveyed the camp site, shaking his head and trying to fight the urge to shoot the entire damn bunch.

Josiah was just starting to get angry over Ezra's loss of 5000.00 dollars, and the luxury suite, all on a roll of the dice.

Standish was hunkered down beside Nathan at Vin's side, banking on safety in numbers to shield him from Sanchez.

JD and Buck had just arrived by taxi and were as excited as two teenagers on a first date.

On top of dealing with all of that, Orrin Travis was on his way to Las Vegas.

Dreamer (Susan)

“Guess who has just been arrested?” Buck with glee.

“Rita Simpleton!” JD burst in.

“And since messing with a federal agent is a serious offence, she’ll be gone a long time,” Buck stated.

“Plus I am sure the IT guys were able to delete the semi-nude pictures of Vin before anyone could copy them,” JD added.

“What!” Vin screamed. “You mean there are nude pictures of me on the Internet?”

“Thank god you didn’t go commando,” Nathan added.

Before anyone could respond, Travis showed up in a large van that could seat eight.

“Pack up! We’re leaving for the airport!”


Dismayed silence greeted Travis' statement.

Chris quickly recovered. "Sir, Vin's injured and needs to rest, so I'm hoping you mean we're leaving tomorrow?" he asked in a glacial tone.

Orrin sighed heavily. "Yes.  I'm sorry, Chris. This whole episode's been...  Never mind. I've booked an early flight for us, and..."  He paused, watching his men scrutinise the eight-seater van.

"Don't ask, boys!" Travis chuckled, his good humour suddenly restored. "That... monstrosity was the only rental available.  Now, you procured a luxury suite from your casino winnings, so why're you still here? Let's go to the hotel, gentlemen."

Ezra gulped audibly.


"JD- your elbow's in my back. It *is* your elbow, right?"

"Shut up Buck."

"Gentlemen, I insist that all talking cease immediately."

"Yes, AD Travis, Sir," seven voices chorused.

"Listen, JD. Wild ducks."

"Buck, it's the middle of the night. I don't hear anything.  There are no ducks."

A cacophonous trumpeting filled the air.

"Mr. Wilmington.  Was that absolutely necessary?!"

Seven coughing bodies spilled out of the tent and onto the dry Nevada soil.

"Someone has to save Vin!"

"I'm not going back in there!"

A dishevelled head finally emerged through the screened door. "And ya'll call yerselves m' friends!"


Forcing a knee out of his back, Travis turned over and tried to get comfortable.

He'd always known that Team Seven was... 'unique,' but... well... sharing a small, overcrowded tent was NOT high on his list of 'Ways to Get to Know Your Employees Better!'

Some of the world's most luxurious and extravagant hotels were a stone’s throw away.

"It was a simple question!" he groused.

Seven men answering at once was bad enough, but the combination of profusely diplomatic, innately long-winded, and lavishly theatrical was... well... unique!

Sighing, he pushed another wayward limb aside and closed his eyes.


Ezra opened one eye.  In the darkness, two yellow pinpricks stared back at him.  He yelped and lurched to his feet, tripping over Vin's cast.

Vin bellowed in pain.

"*Something* is peering into the tent!"

"You wuss, it's prob'ly jus'a cottontail."

"It is far larger than a rabbit!"

Hearing the ominous sounds of snarling and clicking, Vin sat up hastily, staring in horror at the black, striped bushy-furred form nosing its way into the tent.

"SKUNK!" he screamed.  "Take cover!"

Eight bodies flew in all directions as a spray of foul-smelling liquid arched directly into the centre of the tent.

Chapter Twelve


"I still don't understand why I was the only one to suffer this indignity," Ezra complained.  

"The Lord works in mysterious ways," Josiah murmured.

"You'll need hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and liquid soap to get rid of that smell," Nathan advised.

"And where might I procure these items?"

"Store's just down the road," Vin said.  "'Spect it's open all night." 

"I'll go with you," Nathan offered. 

Chris nodded.  "We'll take the van, you can sleep in the SUV when you get back."  

"I thought the campground had a rule about sleeping in the vans?" JD questioned.

"We're doing it anyway."


Ezra stood outside the store, waiting for Nathan to obtain the items needed to rid himself of the noxious odor. 

After what seemed like an interminable amount of time, Standish peeked inside.  He was puzzled for a moment by the medic's utter stillness in front of the checkout counter, until he saw the gun at Jackson's back.

Ezra entered the store.  The robber blinked, swallowing convulsively, then started to gag.  As soon as the gun wavered, Nathan's large hand came down on the man's wrist, knocking the weapon away.

Ezra was ushered outside again to wait for the police's arrival.

Dreamer (Susan)

Chris smiled as he pulled onto the interstate towards home. He would've loved to have seen the looks on the would-be robbers' faces as the cops threatened to make them sit in a squad car with the odoriferous undercover agent. The threat had made it the easiest arrest in history.

Ezra no longer had an unpleasant odour and was extremely pleased. Chris had stopped at a second-hand store so he could get some clothes that fit. Ezra was now wearing a brand new Armani suit in his size but it was sparkly purple. It was Armani so he didn't care.


Vin leaned his head against the SUV’s window, idly watching the progress of an eastbound aircraft in the sky. "D'ya reckon AD Travis managed t'git another flight?" he asked of no one in particular.

Chris glanced in the rear-view mirror at the sharpshooter. "I hope so, 'cause he was pretty pissed at ours being cancelled."

"D'ya think he meant what he said?" Vin wanted to know.

"The part about taking the cost of those non-refundable air tickets from our pay? Or the threat to put us all on janitorial duties for a month?" Larabee growled.

"Aw, hell!"

They were doomed!


"It’s for the best," Nathan opined. "What with Vin’s concussion."

"I called shotgun," Buck complained, squirming in his seat.

"Yes, brother, so you’ve reminded us at least twenty times. But you know the saying- you snooze, you lose."

"A truly noble individual would never ignore the sanctity of the ‘shotgun calling’ creed," Ezra mused. "You disappoint me, Josiah."

"Are we there yet?"

"JD, we’ve just left the parking lot!" Chris snapped.

"Mr. Tanner? I assume you took your Gravol?"

"Yeah, but…."

Vin turned glassy eyes to Ezra and swallowed convulsively.

Ezra’s eyes widened in horror.

"No! Please! Not the suit!"


Listening to Ezra clean up had proven amusing but when he tried to get back in the SUV, six insistent co-workers had other ideas.

Buck's 'roof rack' comment hadn't gone down well, especially after JD pointed out that they didn't have one.

Vin's off-the-cuff mutterings about 'deer tied to the hood' had Standish eyeing the sharpshooter with pure venom.

Chris, as always, took the straightforward approach, and it took Josiah to convince everyone that Ezra really couldn't walk that far- really!

The southerner looked silly, but Nathan figured being afflicted with mismatched clothes again was better than the alternatives presented.


After three hours on the road, the constant bickering and complaining was giving Chris a headache.  He pulled into an overcrowded rest area. 

"All out," he ordered tersely.  "Twenty minute stop."

Six bodies piled out of the SUV.

"Ezra?  You comin'?"

"And be seen in public, clad in this hideous attire? I think not."

Vin grinned. "Aw, come on, Ez.  It ain't like you're gonna meet anyone y' know."

Eventually, the reluctant undercover agent was persuaded out of the SUV.

As the seven men entered the services, they heard a horrified shriek.


Ezra blanched, and turned slowly.

"Hello, mother."

Chapter Thirteen


"He's probably spinnin' some yarn about bein' undercover," Vin said, watching the interaction between Ezra and his mother with interest.

"Undercover?"  Chris asked.  "As what?"

"A tourist?" JD offered, eying the floral shirt Buck had loaned Standish again.
Nathan nodded.  "All he needs is a camera around his neck."

Vin shook his head.  "I was thinkin' more of a bum." 

"Hey," Buck protested.  "Those are *my* clothes."

"And your point is?" Chris asked with a smirk.

"Hey!" Buck protested again. 

"What do you think, Josiah?" JD asked.

His eyes glued to Maude, the big man simply sighed, "One fine woman."


Maude cast a dubious look over the group of men that accompanied her son and then turned her eyes back to Ezra. 

Standish felt like a little boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

"Mother, I don't have time for this."

"Obviously," was her only comment as she walked away.

Chris took the wheel again, anxious to get back to the office and drop everyone off before spending a quiet evening at home.
"Oh my Lord!" Josiah exclaimed.

Three little words and his stomach dropped to his toes.

"Road construction ahead," JD chirped with entirely too much enthusiasm.

Dreamer (Susan)

Buck was in danger of being thrown from the moving vehicle.  He had started singing "Ninety-nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall" and was down to sixty-two, giving Chris Larabee a huge headache.
"All right, someone else drive."  Chris pulled over and Josiah took over the wheel.
"Where was I?  Sixty..."  Buck was cut off as Chris grabbed his throat.
"Finish that song and you're hitting the pavement."

Chris made his seat go back as far as it could and closed his eyes.  They narrowed into narrow slits as JD began to sing.
"This is the song that never ends..."


Sighing heavily, Chris flopped down on the bench next to Vin.  This was the third rest stop they'd had in an hour, and Larabee despaired of ever reaching Denver.

Nathan, Ezra and Buck had just dashed into the men's room.  They were all suffering from 'Montezuma's Revenge,' after last night's Chinese takeout of Singapore Prawns.

Tanner watched as Buck tentatively exited the building, only to do an about turn and disappear back inside.  "I'll bet his ass is sore!  Trust ole Bucklin t'find a dodgy diner called Ho Lee Fook!" Vin exclaimed.

"More like Hoo Flung Dung!" Chris snorted unsympathetically.


"This is the absolutely last stop!"  Chris climbed into the van.  "Ahhhh... coffee.  Josiah- here's your... Godzillagrape-alicious-thingy.  JD- Doritos are in there."

He tossed the plastic bag over his shoulder.  "Got Buckley's and more Gravol for Vin, and for the Poopy Pants gang- industrial strength Pepto Bismol.  Oh, and in case that doesn't work-"

A large plastic-wrapped package sailed past Vin's head to land on Ezra's lap.

"'Depends.'  Very funny, Mr. Larabee."

"Buck- shut that window!"

"Nate, it's boiling in here!"

"Vin- quit drooling on me."

"Josiah, don't put yer seat back... my ankle... argh!"

"Chris!  Heads up!  My Slushie...!"


Denver never EVER looked so good!

As Chris pulled into the Federal Building's underground parking garage, everyone seemed to sigh a silent 'Thank goodness we're home!'

One by one the seven men piled out of the bright orange SUV and gathered belongings.

Somewhere between exhaustion and confusion, the team stood... bewildered almost, not quite sure what they were supposed to do now.

JD finally broke the awkward silence.  "That was... some vacation, huh, guys?"

Shocked into realization, they quickly turned to leave, each longing for their own bed.

"See ya in the morning," someone said.

Six men groaned in response.


Stowing his crutches beneath his desk, Vin switched on his computer.

"Vin, you should be home resting!"

"I'm fine, Nate.  Ankle's itchin'- WHAT THE..."

As Vin's near-naked body filled the screen, his six colleagues crowded in, smirking at his horrified expression.

"You're a real stud, jungle-man!"  Buck chuckled.

Chris grinned.  "There's a note.  'Last copy!' Signed, 'Bridget.'"

“Trash it, JD!" Vin snarled.

JD quickly deleted the remaining evidence of their disastrous trip.

Seven men stared at the blank screen in stunned silence.

JD looked from one to another.  "So, where are we going for our next vacation?" he asked brightly.

The End