Stress Relief

by MMW

Disclaimer: Mirsch et al own the rights to the Magnificent Seven. MOG owns the ATF universe.

Author's note: Just a short scene that popped into my head

Tension snapped and sizzled in the air of the offices of Team Seven as the men focused on their reports. They had been going non-stop for over too long and the strain was beginning to wear on their normally easy camaraderie. In fact, the standard mode of communication the past few days had been growls and glares. This needed to stop.

Stifling a sigh, Nathan turned to his computer and the report that awaited him. Why were there always so many reports? He had entered law enforcement to make a difference; instead he seemed to always be writing reports. No, he decided. That wasn’t fair. The seven of them did make a difference, and that meant he made a difference. Allowing his mind to wander, he thought of all the guns they had prevented from arriving on the street, all the lives saved by their action.

Yes, he made a difference.

Filling in several of the slots on the report form, Nathan was startled by Larabee’s bellow.

“Tanner!” he shouted.

All heads snapped upward, all eyes focused first on the office door and then on the sharpshooter.

“Aw hell,” he muttered, standing and heading toward the office door, a look of disgruntled annoyance on his face. “What’s it this time, Larabee?” he demanded.

The five men watched as Vin stopped in the doorway, propping a shoulder against the frame. Dead silence reigned for a moment before Vin’s shoulders started shaking. Soon, the sharpshooter stood and rested his hands on his knees his laughter stealing his breath.

“You are a dead man, Tanner,” came the low hiss from Chris Larabee.

Trying to catch enough breath to protest, he gasped, “Honest ta God, Cowboy, I din’t do it!” before his laughter once more took him.

Their curiosity piqued, the other five men exchanged glances and slowly stood making their way to their leader’s office. Peeking in, they were presented with the sight of their leader dressed in his normal black attire. The only difference was that somehow his mouth and lips had turned black as well. If he’d been a kid, he would have had Kool-aid mouth.

Trying valiantly not to laugh in the face of their leader, the men slowly fell victim to their own mirth. As the six men all gasped for breath and continued laughing, Chris’ anger faded and he joined in with a slight chuckle. The tense blanket that had been smothering the team lifted.

When they finally caught their breath, the seven men looked at each other, annoyance and frustrations forgotten. Things were lighter, the sun seemed to shine brighter and it felt as if a cool summer breeze had blown through the office.

Finally a smiling Chris looked at the sharpshooter and said, “Now, Vin. Tell me how to get this off.”

Vin looked up at his friend. “Honest ta God, Chris. I don’t know nothin’ about it. I don’t know what ta do for you.”

Narrowing his eyes at his friend and notorious prankster, Chris seemed startled by the truth he read in the blue eyes. This wasn’t one of his jokes. Turning his piercing gaze upon the other five men on his team, he scanned each face looking for any sign. No one gave anything away. “One of you knows what happened,” he accused. Silence. With a sigh he said, “Alright. I don’t care who did it, I just want to know how to get rid of it.”

Ezra and Buck both spoke up. Neither of them had pulled off the prank. Neither of them was insane enough to try to pull something like this on Chris. Hell, the only one any of the seven could think of that would even attempt it was Vin since Larabee wouldn’t kill him. But both had been on the receiving end and offered suggestions and help. The others quietly made their way out of the office and back to their desks, still smiling.

Nathan settled back down at his desk, chuckling softly to himself. It had been exactly what they needed. What was even better is that no one had the faintest idea it had been him who had pulled the prank. Yep, he’d done a good job of it and gotten away with it. Glancing up at his co-workers, he noticed Vin’s blue eyes locked on him, a knowing smile on the Texan’s face.

A small pang of doubt sounded within Nathan. How could Vin know? And if he did know would he tell?

Nathan’s worries were eased a moment later when the Texan smiled at him and gave a little salute. Feeling a smile spread across his face, Nathan settled back to finish his report.


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