Main Characters: Chris and Vin
Notes: This is one of the first things I wrote in the fandom. This has one purpose: Humor. The gist of the story is, things have been crazy, so Chris and Vin ride out for some drinkin' and fishin'... oh, and swimming. Did I mention drinking? Many thanks to the amazing Muse for the awesome picture accompanying this unworthy story.
Webmaster Note: This story was previously archived at another website and was moved to blackraptor in September 2012.
It had been quiet for a week in the little frontier town. A nice change from the previous month, when things had been even more chaotic than usual. After a variety of problems, not the least had been the men from three trail herds coming through in as many weeks, seven different brawls, an attempted lynching and a fire that had threatened to destroy the town, Chris Larabee knew that ‘his’ men needed a break. Knowing that they couldn’t all be away at once, he had set up a rotation to let the men take a three day break from their duties as peace officers. First, Josiah and Nathan had ridden out, choosing to visit the Seminole village. Upon their return, Buck and J.D. had opted to start out in a new tent settlement that had developed after Wick’s Town had died with it’s namesake. This operation had a much better reputation, and they had monitored it a little more closely. While they had gone their way, Ezra – as usual keeping his own company – had left to pursue a working holiday of gambling in Eagle Bend. The men had all returned refreshed and filled with stories of their travels. Finally it had come time for the last two men to leave for their own trip.
Chris and Vin Tanner had spent many of the past six evenings discussing and discarding ideas as to what to do. Finally deciding that neither man wanted much to do with society in general, they planned a fishing trip. The morning after the others returned from their holiday, Chris and Vin, their provisions consisting of bedrolls, fishing poles, and as many bottles of whiskey as Chris could pack in the saddle bags, they turned Peso and Pony toward the horizon and galloped out of town.
By mid-morning they had arrived at the creek that Vin had suggested. According to the young hunter, the creek held the ‘best trout yer ever likely t’ eat’, so Chris had bowed to his knowledge. Setting up the camp and picketing the horses, the men were sitting on the creek bank before the dust had settled from their ride. Carefully settling the saddle bags between them, Larabee opened one of the bottles and took a healthy swallow. With a grin, he handed Tanner a second bottle.
Eying the older man suspiciously, Vin said, “you tryin’ t’ get me drunk, cowboy?”
“Yep,” Chris said, his smile taking on a wicked aspect.
“Larabee, whattaya got rat’lin’ round in that head a yours?”
“Just been thinking...ain’t never seen you drunk Vin Tanner. Figure you don’t feel you can afford to in town with strangers in and out and that bounty on your head. Well, we ain’t in town now...and I aim to see you fallin’ down drunk before we’re done.”
“Aw hell,” Vin sighed. “Ain’t been true drunk in years, Chris. Don’t imagine it’s gonna take much t’ put me there, neither.”
“Good, leaves more for me, “ Chris crowed, tilting the bottle back and draining nearly a third of it’s contents before setting it down. “This is a holiday, Tanner...we’re gonna relax. We’re gonna spit, scratch, cuss, belch...whatever the hell we feel like doing, and ain’t no one stopping us. We got two days now...figure we’ll probably ride back into town stinking and hung-over, but we’re gonna relax. And if I’ve got to make that an order, I will...” He winked, knowing the tracker took no one’s orders.
Slowly a grin spread across the finely chiseled face. The young man uncorked the bottle and tilted it back, draining the liquid until he had to stop long enough to gasp a breath. Then he leveled a gaze at the other man. “Better catch up...old man...” he drawled as he tilted the bottle and drank again.
With a whoop, Chris Larabee tilted his own bottle back. The two men sat like mirror images for over a minute, each watching the other out of the corner of their eye, determined to be the last one to stop drinking. Finally both men lowered their bottles at the same time, gasping and coughing as the liquid burned their throats. Blue eyes met hazel, and both men began laughing. Catching their breath and locking eyes once more, they tilted the bottles back again. This time, both bottles were empty when they lowered them. Using his boot to carve out a hole in the loose soil along the bank, the gunman planted the empty bottle mouth down. With a slow grin, the hunter followed suit.
By the time the sun was touching the horizon, there were seven bottles in a haphazard line along the bank. The fish caught during the day had been cleaned and were hanging suspended over the fire they had built earlier...while they could still stand. Vin was laying along the bank, his bare feet dangling in the water. An occasional “ow, quit it” announced to the other man that another fish had nibbled at the hunter’s feet. On his part, Chris was sitting next to the fire, tending their dinner. He was well enough acquainted with the signs to know that if Vin didn’t get anything solid in his stomach soon, his liquid lunch was going to do some pretty nasty things to the young man.
“Hey Vin,” he called.
“Yep...” came the lazy drawl.
“ ‘Kay...” He made no effort to move.
“You gonna come eat?”
“Yep...” Still he lay there.
“Yep...” his tone had not changed.
“Get your ass up!”
“Things... spinnin’ too fast...” he slurred.
“Shit,” Chris grumbled as he walked with a deceptively steady gait to where the younger man lay. Grabbing him under the arms, Larabee reversed course and dragged the other man across to the fire. Dropping Tanner unceremoniously on the ground, eliciting a grunt from the man, he handed him a stick containing a well roasted fish.
“Ow...” Vin said softly.
“What’s wrong, too hot?”
“Yep...” He continued to pull tentatively at the meat, fanning his fingers and pulling the flesh off with his teeth.
“You could wait a few minutes and let it cool down, you know,” Larabee said with a grin.
“Mmmmm, reckon...but ‘m hungry...”
“Hell, don’t know that I’ve seen you too many times when you weren’t hungry,” Chris quipped. Vin Tanner’s voracious appetite had become somewhat legendary in the little town they called home.
“Reckon...’m a growin’ boy...” He said with that slow, impish grin of his.
“Shit,” Chris shook his head. “Since when?”
“Mzzzzzz Nettie...she said so...”
“That’s just cause she’s sweet on you...she’d adopt you for her grandbaby if she could...feed you sugar tits and gingerbread cookies...”
“HEY!” Tanner jumped up, a movement he regretted as the world tilted dangerously. “Don’t y’ talk bad ‘ginst Mzzzzz Nettie...she’ssssssss a fine woman....” He balled both hands into fists, and then promptly fell hard onto his tailbone. “Owwww...shiiiiit...” he grumbled.
“Settle down cowboy...I was only teasing,” Chris said between howls of laughter.
“Welllll...y’ best takit baaaaaack...” He slurred, trying to get back to his feet. Finally, realizing the chances of managing this had gone from slim to none, he satisfied himself with glaring menacingly across the fire. “Thiiiiis ain’ o’er....Lar’beeee.”
Not even trying to hide his amusement with his friend, Chris said, “Want another bottle?”
“Ga-ninny...” Vin stopped and frowned, trying to recall what he had planned to say. “Gott Anny,” he precisely slurred his words now, “mmmorre bottttles?”
“Yep,” the gunfighter walked on his knees around the fire and handed the tracker two bottles. “There, I ain’t making this trip again... better parcel them out.”
“Ssssssshhhhoooooooot...take a time t’ drinnnnk... one... two... four bottles a... HEY!” He complained as he tipped one of the bottles back, then lowered it and looked at the bottle suspiciously. “Dis’n’s em’ty...caaaaiiinnnt git no’in outta it...”
“Vin..” Chris sighed, then spoke slowly, “Pard, you’ve got to take the cork out.”
“Oh...yeah...” Vin smiled as he managed to pull the cork lose from the bottle neck, “than’s, pard!” He finished cheerfully.
“No problem,” Chris said as he took a drink from his own bottle.
“There annnny more fish?” Vin asked a short time later.
“Nope, ate them all,” Chris replied.
“Got some jerky.”
“Naaaaaaaaawww...wan’ s’more fish...”
“We’ll get some more in the morning.”
“Ah’m hun’ry now...”
“Quit your damn whining,” Chris grumbled.
“Ain’t got no whinnnnnnneeeee...jus’ whiiiiskeeeeyyyy...” Vin began laughing at his joke and was soon rocking and holding his sides. “J-j-jus...whiiiissskkkeeeeeeyyyy!!”
Chris stared at him, shaking his head sadly. “Damn, never took you for a stupid drunk.”
Either not hearing or not comprehending the comment, Vin made no reply. Instead he announced, “Go’n fish’n.”
“You’ll fall in and drown.”
Vin repeated, “Fallll in... don’ wanna falllll innn. Git m’ clo’s wet.”
Deciding that this would be a way to keep the hunter in camp, the gunman said, “yep... reckon you better just stay put.”
“Mmmmmm... wanna go fish’n...” he attempted to snap his fingers and looked confused when he heard no noise. He stared at the non-compliant digits until he remembered that he had been speaking. “Got ‘n eye-deeee...”
Chris watched in confusion and then amazement as the younger man began to remove his clothing. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Ta...kin off m’...clo’s...” He hiccuped. “Sooooo’s dey don’ git...weeeet.”
“Tanner, you’re drunk. Lay down and pass out.”
Chris realized that the young man had finished removing the several layers of clothing and was weaving on his feet, next to the fire, stark naked. “Boy, you’re naked. Put your clothes back on.”
“W-where’s...th’ fish’n pollllles?”
“Ain’t telling you. You’ll end up with the hook somewhere that I ain’t about to touch.”
Vin studied Chris’ words and then looked down at himself. Finally Chris’ meaning struggled through the alcohol fog and he began to laugh.
Larabee sighed, thinking that he had gotten through to his friend. Then he suddenly realized that Vin was no longer standing there. He hated it when his binges got to the point when he found that he was not always present for parts of his life. The gunman looked around to see where Tanner had fallen, but found nothing. “Vin?” There was no answer, so he tried again, louder. “VIN!”
“Where you at boy?”
“Where?” Chris realized that the man’s voice was coming from behind him.
“In the creek?! IN the CREEK???!!!”
“What are you doing?”
Chris chuckled. “In the creek?”
“What if you piss on the fish?”
Still nothing. “Aw hell,” he grumbled as he pushed himself to his feet. Staggering, he managed to find the creek. “Vin?”
When he still received no answer, Chris Larabee began to worry. Quickly pulling off his own clothes...that realistic corner of his mind telling him that he had nothing to change into out here, while the alcohol numbed corner of his mind confused the importance of dry apparel and a friend’s life, he tossed his clothing on the bank and scrambled into the water, trying to find his friend in the darkness. “VIN!” He was yelling now, panic taking over.
“Where the hell are you?”
“Righ’chere, I tol’ y’.”
A soft splash drew Chris’ attention for what he had mistaken for a boulder in the middle of the water. No, it was a boulder. He scratched his head. “Where right here?”
Suddenly a figure stood up next to the boulder. “Righ’chere...whazza madder with youuuuu?”
“Thought you wanted to go fishing.”
“Changed m’ min’. ‘Cided t’ go swimm’n ‘nstead.” Tanner explained as he staggered through the thigh-deep water. “Reckon you ‘cided th’ same thin’.”
Shaking his head, Chris chuckled. He turned and began to slosh toward the bank. Surprised as a wave of water splashed against him, the gunman turned back, expecting to find that his inebriated companion had fallen in the water. Instead, Vin stood, weaving dangerously.
“What the hell was that for?”
“Saiid we’s do’n wha’e’er we wanted,” Vin replied matter-of-factly.
“I’ve created a monster,” Larabee whispered. Then, with a running leap, he launched himself at the other man and both of them found themselves underwater.
Wrestling himself out from under the gunslinger, Tanner shot toward the surface, sputtering and cursing. “Damn you, Chris, wha’d y’ do that fer?”
“‘Cause I felt like it,” came Larabee’s voice from next to him and below.
Vin looked to see the other man sitting in the water, his chin just above the surface. Deciding that this looked comfortable, he simply buckled his legs and flopped into the water. “Owww,” he grumbled. “Damn rock.”
Chris grinned, then pushed up and let himself float on the surface of the water. Upstream from the other man, he glided past him.
“Whur...where y’ go’n Chris?” Tanner asked as the other man floated past him.
“That way,” Larabee explained simply.
“Oh...okay...” Vin shrugged. He watched as Chris floated on top of the water for several yards, then rolled over on his stomach and disappeared under the water. “Hey! Where’d y’ go?”
The answer was forthcoming a short time later when he felt something collide with his side. “HEY!” He yelped just as the gunman broke the surface next to him.
“You’re in my way cowboy,” Larabee said quietly.
“I’s herrrre firs’...” Tanner argued.
“Yeah, well now I’m moving you,” Chris announced as he once more tackled the slender man. Rolling in the water, the men tussled for several minutes. Finally Larabee stood up and started for the bank.
“Where y’ go’n now?”
“Gonna go drink some more. Coming?” Chris asked without turning.
“Reck’n...” Vin agreed. Unable to manage getting to his feet, he crawled and stumbled to the bank on his knees. Once there he lurched to his feet and staggered hurriedly toward the fire before gravity could take its toll once more.
Chris, already there, was staring around him. Still nude, he looked extremely confused. “Where the hell did they go?”
“Whut pard?” Vin was sorting through his scattered pile of clothes, trying to remember what went where.
“My clothes... where the hell did my clothes go?”
“Youuuuu mus’ b’ drunk...cain’t fin’ yer cloooothesss...”
“Oh, shut up. Ah, hell... I remember,” he stumbled into the darkness.
“Chriiiis.... whure y’ go’n?”
“Getting my clothes.”
Nodding in reply, Vin dropped to the ground and began pulling his own clothes on. By the time Chris returned, the inebriated hunter had managed to pull on his pants and decided that was enough for the moment.
Mumbling to himself, Larabee came to sit next to the fire. He was still naked.
“Fin’ yer clo’s?” Vin asked, staring sideways at the other man.
“Look like I found my clothes?”
“Nope... wan’ me t’ go look?”
“Hell no! You’d get lost, then I’d have to come looking for you. That’s what started this in the first place.”
“Wha’cha gonna do?”
“Drink some more,” he said as he retrieved another bottle from his saddle bag.
“Okay,” Vin said simply. He looked around until he found one of the bottles he had left behind earlier. He smiled as he managed to remember to open the bottle this time.
Chris Larabee groaned. He tried to open his eyes, but the effort was too great. Trying one at a time, he managed to get them open. It took another minute or two before he could get both eyes focused in the same direction. He finally realized that he was lying face down, the grass matted flat around his head. He smelled something foul and vaguely remembered that he had thrown up at some point. Practice had trained to sleep on his stomach when he was drinking. As a breeze blew across the clearing it brought to Larabee’s attention that he had nothing on. Added to that was the fact that the sun was getting high in the sky and he was feeling the heat on parts of his body that had rarely ever seen the light of day. Moving slowly, the gunman gingerly got to his hands and knees head down and eyes closed, he concentrated on breathing until his stomach returned to where it belonged.
Spotting a half-filled bottle, he picked it up and took a long swallow of the rotgut that had put him in his current state. “Hair of the dog...” he mumbled.
A soft moan drew the gunman’s attention to the other side of the now-dead fire. Still only in his pants, the young tracker was sprawled out in a tangle of bedroll and discarded clothing. “Vin?”
“What?” His voice was even grittier than nomal.
“Just checking. Want some more whiskey?”
“Hell no... ain’t never touch’n th’ stuff agin...”
Laughing, Chris said, “It’ll make you feel better.”
“Ain’t nothin’ can do that. Figger I just quit breathin’... that’s the only way I’ll feel better,” he drawled.
Deciding the younger man needed his attention, Chris managed to heave himself to his feet and stagger across to the other man. Dropping to his knees, he handed the bottle to Vin. “Here, give it a try.”
Winking one bloodshot eye open, Tanner got his first sight of his friend. “Chris? Why’re you naked?”
“We went swimming last night... I think,” he sifted through the fragmented memories of the night before.
“Hell, I don’t know...think it was your idea.”
“Okay... but why are you still naked?”
“Don’t know for sure... and I ain’t real certain where my clothes are.” Sitting down, he yelped, “SHIT!”
“Chris? What’s the matter pard?”
“I think I got a sunburn...”
“My ass...” Chris sighed.
Despite the pain that sliced through his head and the violent churning in his gut, Vin Tanner exploded with laughter.
“Laugh it up, Tanner,” Chris growled menacingly. He knew it wouldn’t do any good. Vin was the only one he could never scare off with his bad moods. With a sigh that turned into a moan and developed into a groan, he shifted slowly to his hip and then managed to climb to his feet.
“I... I’m s-s-sorry... Chris...” Vin howled. “I... d-d-d-don’t mean t’ laugh....” He was rolling now, holding his throbbing head.
“Shut up...” Chris mumbled as he stalked off to find his lost clothing.
By the time Larabee had returned, Tanner had managed to sit up, sprawled in the meager shade of a tree. He had jerky in one hand and a bottle in the other. He stared wearily at his friend. “See y’ found your clothes.”
“Yeah,” was Chris’ only reply. He looked distinctly uncomfortable, and was walking rather gingerly. Pulling yet another bottle from what seemed to be an endless supply, he started consuming his liquid breakfast. He came over to share the shade with his friend, and dropped next to him on his knees.
“Chris? I think I’ve got some salve in my saddle bags. Nathan gave it to me a couple a weeks ago when I burned my hand. Want me to get it for y’?”
Larabee favored him with a glare that told the other man that he had just asked the dumbest question he had ever heard.
“I’ll go get it,” Tanner mumbled. Shifting slowly to his feet, he padded across the thick grass to his saddle bags. Returning with a little jar, he handed it to the blond without a word.
With another sigh, the gunman pushed to his feet and stalked off toward a small stand of trees.
“Don’t know why you’re gettin’ modest for all of a sudden,” Vin grumbled as he took a draw off the bottle he was holding. “Done seen ever’thing y’got.” He grinned wickedly. If Buck ever found out...
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