my first 'Magnificent seven' fanfic posting in any universe.




It don’t make sense




It don’t make any sense. Vin looked at the three cards lying on the arm of the lounger, according to Chris two words were the same and one was different. They were all different.


Sighing deeply he looked again at them. Chris sat on the seat watching patiently. Vin shuffled his feet and looked across the arm at his guardian searching vainly for a clue. Any clue. There had to be a clue but his expression was only expectant.


“Go on, Vin,” he encouraged.


Hesitantly, Vin extended a finger and touched the middle card. Was it right? 


Chris’ brow furrowed, his eyes clouding. “Do you know why it’s different?”


Vin sagged. He’d guessed the right one, but he didn’t know why it was right. He couldn’t answer.

Mutely, he shook his head.


Chris tapped the middle card. “The ‘a’ and the ‘i’ are the wrong way round. Let’s try again.” He scrutinised the cards and laid three cards on top of the first set.


Vin withheld a sigh by gritting his teeth. The words on the cards were longer this time. Carefully, he ran his fingertip over the black text. There were five letters. Diligently, he counted each individual letter on the other two cards. There were five on both. Focussing intently he held a finger under the first letter of each word. Eyes tracking side to side he checked that they were the same. Yup. Moving on he checked the next one. Yup. And the third. And the fourth and fifth. He breathed a relieved sigh. He turned the card on the left over and concentrated on the two cards. Carefully, he ran his index finger under the letters. They looked the same.


He glanced up at Chris; Chris wouldn’t trick him would he? Give him the same words? Chris was focused on him, staring at him so hard that a furrow was forming between his eyes.


“Go on.”


Going more slowly, Vin checked each individual letter. “Yes!” he exulted. “They’re different.”


“Yup,” Chris said evenly. He tapped the first card. “This is ‘quiet’ and this is ‘quite’.”


“They sound different but they don’t look different unless you look at them real close like,” Vin observed.


“Hmm.” Chris scooped up the cards and shuffled them.


“I didn’t know you could do that. Like Uncle Ezra.”


“Ezra can do tricks.”


“Can you?”


“Only the fifty two card pick up.”


“What’s that?”


“You’ll have to help me.”


“Uh huh.” Vin nodded fervently; he could help.


“You sure?”




Chuckling, Chris fired the cards into the air. Astounded, Vin watched them scatter across the coffee table, skid across the hard wood flood, some disappeared under the sofa and others fell in the potted plant beside the television.


Chris was still chuckling, Vin couldn’t see the joke. “Fifty two pick up,” Chris said slowly.


Vin laughed. “We gotta pick them up!”


Chris slid off the armchair and began to scoop up cards. Vin scurried to help. They had gone everywhere. Lying on his tummy he pulled out the ones under the sofa.




“Yup, Chris?” Vin rolled onto his bottom and sat up.


“Hold your left hand out.”


Vin paused checking where he was and where his hands were. Slowly, he extended what he was pretty darn sure was his left hand.


“You want to count them for me, cowboy?”




“To make sure we’ve found them all. Lay them on the coffee table. Put them in stacks of ten.” 

Painstakingly, he began to count.





“Hey, Buck.”


Buck started. He squinted checking the dark room. It was filled with moonlight and sharp shadows. A dark figure lounged on the leather lounger that dominated the sitting room. Legs outstretched and crossed at the ankles he was a figure in repose. Buck knew better. “What the Hell are you doing sitting there in the dark?”




“Oh, yeah?” The ATF agent picked his way through the darkness to sit on the sofa opposite the armchair. “What about?”




“What about Vin?”


“I think he’s dyslexic.”


“Dyslexic?” Buck said incredulously. “He can’t be dyslexic; he’s smart as a whip.”


Chris sighed deeply. He rotated the glass in his hands watching the whisky coat the insides of the glass.


“It’s not about how bright he is, it’s about how he processes information or doesn’t process information.”


“But…” Buck began, it made no sense, Vin was bright, the kid played Tetris on his old gameboy like a pro. He had kept JD safe on the streets of Denver under conditions that Buck could appreciate intellectually but knew that he didn’t understand. “He just needs to go to school, to catch up. He didn’t have a chance before.”


“No, Buck, he can’t tell b’s from d’s.”


“Well, they sort of look alike.”


“Yeah, Buck, but you can tell them apart, can’t you?”


Buck scratched the back of his neck before answering. “Yeah, unless I’m drunk, but then I can’t see straight anyway.”


Chris laughed but there was no humour in it.


“So what we gonna do about it?” Buck asked.


“I have no idea.” Chris sagged back into the plush grip of his chair.


Buck started; that wasn’t like Chris – Chris Larabee was a man of solutions, a man of action.


“You gotta have some idea. I mean the’re treatments and stuff, isn’t there? Brain surgery?”


“What! No, Buck, nothing like that.” Chris downed his whisky and then with great deliberation set the empty glass on the coffee table. “I think that there’ll be stuff at school. We… I … need to talk to his teachers. There’ll be tests. More tests for the poor kid. Maybe there’ll be different teaching protocols, extra lessons. I don’t know.”


“Kid’s gonna get a complex,” Buck mused, since Day One Vin had been subjected to tests and examinations almost daily at both the doctors and school, if he didn’t become permanently phobic about hospitals and learning Buck would be very surprised. “So what do we do? Do we tell Vin that we think that he’s got this dyslexia thing or do we get him tested and find out?”


“We tell him. Vin will know that something’s up. The tests are going to show that he’s dyslexic. I don’t know if there are grades of dyslexia or different types but there’s definitely a problem and the sooner we get it diagnosed the sooner we can help him.”





Chris pulled on clean pair of shorts, then turned back the covers on his bed, ready to fall into slumber. But he made an abrupt about turn and went to the boys’ room. JD’s blankets were in a puddled heap and the bed was empty. He must have woke and crept into Buck’s bedroom for a cuddle, since Buck had checked on him a bare hour ago and reported that both boys were fast asleep. On the upper bunk, Vin was curled up in a tight ball, folded up against wall. Practiced, Chris reached out uncurling him and drew the small figure onto the centre of the mattress, settling his head on the pillow. He pulled the layer of blankets up over a thin shoulder. Vin snuffled and turned onto his side, drawing his knees up under the covers. Settling into the warmth, he tucked his fist up against his mouth. Chris leaned up against the top bunk and folded his bare arms on the wooden frame.


“Poor kid.” Chris resisted the temptation to ruffle the soft curls. Was Vin ever going to get an even break?


“Hey, Stud,” Buck whispered. He held a fat little butterball drooling against this shoulder.


“Nightmare?” Chris whispered nodding at JD.  


“Just wandered in for a hug.”


Chris moved over allowing Buck to deposit JD in his bed.


“Did Vin wake up?” Buck asked.


“Nah, I just… you know.”


“Yeah.” Buck stroked JD’s hair. “It’s gonna be all right, you know.”


“How can you say that?”


“’Cause I just did. Look you’re beating yourself up over how you’re gonna help him. You got how many ideas and you’ve just started thinking about it? Who else has ever even given the kid a moment to sort out his problems? You’re streets ahead of them. You know what you’re doing: you’re just borrowing trouble.”


Chris fired a dark glare at the man.


Buck chortled under his breath. “Come on. Nathan will know what diet will help this dyslexia thing – fruit and veg, probably. Josiah will help him figure it out, confusing him to Hell and back.  Ez will be able to tutor him and I’ll get to cheer him up.”


“What’s my role in this grand plan?”


“Exactly what you’re doing now.”


“Which is?”


“Don’t you know?”


Chris huffed an annoyed sigh, Buck could be aggravating sometimes, but the man had good instincts. “No… what?”


“Being his dad.”