Disclaimer: I don't own the Magnificent Seven, not making any money, just cheap thrills.
Summary: Vin receives some devastating news.
Pulling into the parking garage of the federal building Chris Larabee wasn't surprised to see Vin's jeep already parked in its usual spot. He smirked, already imagining the moans coming from the other team members when they realized Vin had once more made the coffee for the day. He knew everybody thought he had just grown used to the sludge the Texan called coffee, only he and Ezra knew of the coffee machine residing in a corner of the team leader's office, hidden behind a filing cabinet it could be seen only from one spot in the room. It wasn't a spot the others ever saw. Ezra knew of course, he should since it had been him that had given the machine to Chris last year.
Chris stepped off the elevator on the appropriate floor, unconsciously humming a nameless tune as he thought of what awaited the rest of the team. One day they might actually learn to arrive at work on time, if not early. He doubted it but stranger things had happened. He didn't see Vin in the outer office but didn't give it any thought, the man was probably in the breakroom getting another cup of coffee. "Morning Vin," he called out as he made his way to his own office. He didn't notice the lack of response.
Chris turned on his computer and set about making his own coffee while waiting for it to boot up. He was hard at work, blissfully sipping his perfect cup of coffee, thirty minutes later when the remainder of the team sauntered into the office. He could hear them bickering and joking as each man settled in at his respective desk. Five minutes later he nearly dumped hot coffee in his lap as the door to his office slammed open, startling him badly.
"Buck I swear to..." he stopped as he got a good look at Buck's face. "What's wrong?"
"I don't know Chris. JD found him in the breakroom but we haven't been able to get anything out of him."
Chris didn't need to ask who. The only other person who had been in the office aside from him when the others arrived was Vin. He suddenly realized the younger man hadn't responded earlier to his greeting. Kicking himself for not noticing he pushed away from the desk, past Buck and all but ran to the breakroom. He wasn't sure what he had expected, blood, bruises, broken bones, anything but what he found. Sitting at the lone table in the room Vin stared into space, oblivious to the presence of the others in the room. A cooling cup of coffee sat in front of him, a snack cake next to it, the newspaper lay on the floor where Vin had apparently dropped it.
Nathan shook his head. "He's in some kind of shock Chris but I can't find any injuries."
"Maybe he's been poisoned?" JD suggested.
Buck smacked the boy on the back of the head. "JD the only thing in this room that might be considered poison is Vin's coffee and it's only a poison to the rest of us."
"Ow Buck," JD rubbed his head. "That doesn't mean somebody couldn't have slipped something in Vin's drink or something."
"Don't you think he'd be doing more than staring into space if he'd been poisoned?" Buck turned to their team medic, "Back me up here Nate."
"Buck's right, this ain't a poison...least I don't think it is."
"Maybe he got some bad news," Josiah wisely suggested.
Nathan nodded, "That seems more likely." He turned to the team leader, motioning him forward. "None of us have gotten a response from him maybe you'll have better luck."
Chris stepped closer to his best friend and squatted next to the chair. "Vin, cowboy can you tell me what's wrong?" he quietly asked as he laid a supportive hand on the younger man's shoulder. This brought no response but Chris wasn't one to give up easily. "Did somebody die?" he asked. Maybe one of Vin's old army buddies or somebody from the Marshall's service? To this question the Texan let forth with an eerie moan that was painful to hear. They could only imagine that whoever it was must have been important to the younger man to elicit such a response.
It was into this scene a befuddled Ezra strolled. Easing over to Josiah he whispered an inquiry to the profiler who quickly filled him in. Remembering that Nathan had said sugar was good for shock the southerner moved to the counter where sat the office coffee pot. Pouring a fresh cup he laced it heavily with sugar. It was when he reached for a honey bun to accompany the coffee that all hell broke loose.
With a snarl of pure rage Vin sprang from his chair and grabbed the honey bun from Ezra's hand. Placing himself between the others and the usual snacks laid out on the counter Vin glared at them. As one they took several involuntary steps away from the enraged man. "They're mine, y'all keep your hands off of 'em!"
The six men exchanged confused glances, none of them understanding Vin's strange behavior. They were, to a man, certain the Texan would reach for his gun if any of them even looked as if they intended to take one of the sweets. It was as this point Ezra's eyes landed on the discarded newspaper and as he read the headline the proverbial light bulb went off. "It's alright Mr. Tanner, nobody here is going to challenge you on this tragic day."
The others looked at each other, more confused than ever.
Ezra surreptitiously pointed to the newspaper as he took a step closer to Vin. "I quite understand the pain you must be feeling Mr. Tanner."
"Of course, it is a tragedy for all of America. That we should live to see the day when a beloved icon is forced to shutter its doors, depriving all of the wholesome goodness generations have enjoyed, why it doesn't bear thinking of."
Vin whimpered. "There won't never be anymore Ez...all of 'em are gonna be gone in just a few days and they'll never make anymore. How can I live without my honey buns and Twinkies Ez? They're more than just snack cakes you know...they're like a part of me."
"With all the preservatives I don't doubt it," Nathan whispered. Fortunately Vin didn't hear him.
"I know Vin and it is a tragedy," Ezra commiserated. "But there are others, you won't lose all of your sweets."
"I won't?" And for the first time that morning Vin felt a bit of hope blossoming.
"No, there will always be moonpies and Miss Little Debbie is doing quite well I understand." Silently Ezra thanked his broker's advice to invest in the snack company when he would have chosen Hostess.
Vin nodded, "Still won't be the same."
"No," Ezra admitted, "but you've survived hard times before. Surely you won't allow the demise of one snack company to be the end of you?"
Vin considered his friend's words, quickly realizing he was right. With a heavy sigh he grabbed two honey buns and his coffee before stepping out of the way, allowing the others to help themselves. "Still gonna be hard to get used to," Vin said as he moved towards the door, pausing beside Ezra for a moment. "Thanks Ez."
"You're quite welcome Mr. Tanner," Ezra smiled.
Vin nodded and took another step towards the door. At the threshold he paused, "Oh and Ez?"
"Yes Mr. Tanner?"
"Don't call me Shirley," and with this parting shot he made his exit.
Dedicated to my friend Elenhin who when hearing that Hostess was going out of business remarked it couldn't be all until the end of the world or what would Vin eat? And now that I've done my part I expect at least one more story on this topic...are you listening Elenhin?
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