Main Characters: Vin with Buck and Chris
Summary: Vin's big heart lands him in an embaracing predictament.
Authors Notes: Thank you to TAE for beta and Blackraptor for the home.
Vin Tanner gave a smile and waved back at the folks in the wagon who waved their thanks as they continued on their way. He would have felt better if they had been part of a train, but they were only a week or two from their new land and determined to continue on. Why they had not waited and gone with a group in the first place, was beyond the tracker.
The Texan had been riding a patrol to see if the mud and soft ground resulting from three days of non-stop rain was causing trouble, when he had found the young family struggling to get the wagon unstuck. They had stopped for the night and come morning found the back wheels sunk fast in the soft earth. Vin gave the man a short lesson in how to tell if a spot was firm enough to support a wagon overnight. He had then lent a hand in first digging and then pushing, pulling, shoving, prying and finally praying the thing out. He had been thinking he might have to go and get Buck or Josiah, when creaking and moaning it had finally broken loose and moved.
The folks safe and back on the trail, Vin looked at himself and Peso. The black gelding was a mess, to put it mildly, and Vin wasn't looking much better. They were both covered in mud, soaked from the puddles, and sweat-covered from the physical effort of moving the wagon.
"Reckon we both need a good cleaning," he told the animal, as he patted the shoulder affectionately and mounted.
There was a large pond, almost a lake, not real far, where they could get cleaned up. He had planned to end his patrol with a bath there anyway, so he had packed soap and a change of clothes. He only used the town bathhouse if it was too cold to wash in a lake. As hot as it was, the lake was going to feel real good.
Half an hour later, they were at the lake. Dismounting, Vin stripped Peso of saddle and led him into the lake until it was just over the animal's back. He was going to have to wash his clothes anyway so getting them wet was not a problem. Thankfully, Peso didn't mind the water. This was by far the easiest way to clean him up. Vin had him stand still while he worked on the horse's neck and mane. When the gelding was as clean as he was going to get, Vin took him out and, removing his bridle, hobbled him so he could enjoy the nice green grass and dry off.
His horse seen to, Vin undressed and, grabbing soap, comb, and clean clothes, headed into the lake. Sighing with pleasure in the relaxing cool water, he began cleaning himself and getting the mud out of his hair. He would start on the clothes when he was done with himself. Looking over, he swore in Comanche and Kiowa. He had forgotten about Peso's sense of humor.
He had left the horse close enough to the water that he could get a drink if he wanted. Instead, the horse had lipped open his bag and was gleefully tossing the clean and dirty clothes all over the place.
"Aw hell, bet you thought that was cute," Vin growled at the animal that was giving his shirt a good shake.
The tracker's head whipped around as he heard decidedly feminine giggles, and a large, loud guffawing laugh that was all too familiar.
Buck had just pulled up in a wagon with about six of the town's sporting women.
"Well, howdy," Buck greeted him, smiling. "Blossom and some of the other girls decided they wanted to go for a swim to cool off, so I said I'd escort them."
Vin blushed and smiled at the giggling and waving ladies. There was no way on the face of the planet he was getting out, now.
Peso, Vin was certain he was laughing, got a pair of Vin's drawers and tossed them in the air.
The women were laughing outright, now, and Buck was almost in paroxysms, he was laughing so hard.
"Ah, if you ladies will just look the other way, I'll mosey on out and you can enjoy yourselves," Vin offered.
"I'm enjoying myself just fine," one of the bolder women informed him with a wink.
"Buck, I could really use a hand, here," Vin told him.
"Sounds ta me like you're doing really well," Buck laughed. This was just too funny.
"Problem there, cowboy?" Chris asked, riding up and grinning at the whole scene.
"Yes," Vin almost begged.
Shaking his head and chuckling, Chris dismounted and collected Peso's new toys. He handed Vin the clean clothes and tossed the dirty ones in the saddlebag.
A look and raised eyebrow from Chris and the women were turning the other way.
Vin bolted out of the water and into the nearby trees, clutching the clothes strategically as he went.
Chris was grinning as Vin reappeared fully clothed and began collecting his gear.
"Sure you boys don't want to join us for our little picnic?" A well endowed redhead asked, smiling at them.
"No, ma'am, thank you," Vin replied, saddling up Peso and mounting.
Nodding to Buck and the ladies, the two men rode off.
"Thanks," Vin smiled at his rescuer.
"Figured something had happened when you hadn't come back from patrol, yet. Didn't figure you were being held hostage by a bunch of women," Chris smirked.
Vin groaned, he was never going to live this down.