by Chris J. Ueberall
Disclaimer: I don't own 'The Magnificent Seven' characters, Mirisch and Trilogy do. But I love the guys, while the companies do not. My claim is better ;-) To make the seven guys ATF agents was Mog's idea and we all love her for that!
Warning: Violent aphorisms, etc ;-)
Summary: A boring job - an idea ...
Notes: Thanks to A.J. and AJ *g* who beta'd. (Any mistake still there is mine ;-)
"I think we're wasting our time," Buck said to no one in particular, but then he didn't need to address anyone, for he had expressed his feelings on this matter before, as had everyone else. And they were all of the same opinion. They were wasting their time.
It was the end of the sixth day of observation. Which meant that for six days the members of the Denver ATF division unofficially dubbed "The Magnificent Seven" had kept watch over a t-shirt shop. Oh, not the average t-shirt shop, no way. Here you could get any t-shirt in any size and color, with every picture, photo or drawing, slogan, verse or aphorism you could imagine. What wasn't in store could be ordered or made within three days.
At least that was what the owner of the shop told every customer.
Each of the seven members of Team 7 had heard that speech at least once, when they had taken a look around the shop, trying to get a feeling for the place.
Rumors had it that a gunrunner by the name of Robert April used this shop as a meeting place with his partners. But so far, neither April nor any other known miscreant - as Ezra had put it - had shown his face.
Instead the seven had seen all kinds of customers walk in and out of the shop. They had watched tourists read almost every imprint before leaving without buying anything, and had read most of the slogans and jokes themselves at least a dozen times.
To pass the time they had started a game of ascribing a fitting text to every person stopping by. Of course, from that game to 'the idea' it was only a little step.
Afterwards nobody would lay claim to the idea. And it probably hadn't been one of them alone anyway, but two men stuck together in a surveillance van who were bored silly. Or maybe it had just come up while they had all fooled around one night - who knows?
Basically the idea wasn't bad, it was even work related, sort of, and made perfect sense.
Vin was the first - so they say, although he claims it was Buck - to go into the shop again for a routine inspection (after all there were corners which they couldn't quite see from their car) and to actually buy something to look inconspicuous.
But he didn't just buy a random article. no, he had to buy a t-shirt with a slogan that would fit one of his colleagues. A trend was started.
No one knew exactly what the others had bought, but at the end of the sixth day Team 7 had left quite a bit of money at the shop.
"It's called off," Chris Larabee said by way of greeting, popping up next to the surveillance van. "April owns a t-shirt factory, obviously the snitch botched everything up."
"Obviously." Ezra rolled his eyes. "Let's leave this place of embarrassment, shall we?"
Buck nodded and started the car. "See you on Monday, Chris," Buck said, already planning his weekend.
"Take care." With that Chris walked back to his own car.
Monday came and brought a lot of work and problems along. Buried up to their necks in cases, the seven totally forgot about their purchases.
Weeks later, after the official ATF Christmas party, the members of Team 7 returned briefly to their own office to do a last check before joining the unofficial party at the Saloon, and found unmarked packages on their desks.
Suspiciously one after the other started to open those gifts. Then they remembered six days spent in front of a t-shirt shop.
Chris looked at one of the t-shirts given to him and glared at his best friend, but Vin just shrugged as if to say "Wasn't my idea, cowboy." The white imprint on the black shirt said: -*Don't mess with me, I'm running out of places to hide the bodies.*-
"What's on the other one, Mr. Larabee?" Ezra asked, and with another glare, this time sent towards Ezra and Buck, Chris lifted a white t-shirt. -*I don't bear a grudge. I have no surviving enemies.*-
"I like the first one better, " J.D. said, then looked at his own, not sure if he liked it or not. -*To err is human. To really foul things up requires a computer.*- He knew he got it because he was their resident hacker, but was it meant as an insult? J.D. shook his head, deciding that his friends would never really want to hurt his feelings.
He read the imprint on the second one. -*A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.*- Oh, he liked that, and would definitely wear it occasionally.
"What did you get, Josiah?" J.D. asked looking up.
The profiler grinned and held his shirt up for everyone to see. -*Age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill.*-
"Treachery?" Chris raised an eyebrow. "Are you trying to tell us something, Josiah?"
The big man just shrugged.
"You know, he seems so happy with that shirt, you got to wonder if he didn't buy it himself," Ezra stage-whispered to Vin, who nodded.
"What does yours say, son?" Josiah wanted to know, ignoring the undercover agent's suggestion.
Ezra frowned then read the inscription on his shirt: "*I'm not arrogant. I know I'm perfect.*"
Everyone but Ezra snickered.
For a moment the undercover agent looked irritated, then suddenly he smiled and managed to look very aloof. "It's about time that someone learned to acknowledge perfection when he sees it."
The others groaned. They should have known that Ezra would be able to turn any insult into a compliment.
"And the other?"
"*If you can't convince them. Confuse them.*" The undercover agent's smile widened. "Excellent advice, really."
"Hey, that's good!" Buck laughed and immediately shed his pullover to slip into his new t-shirt. -*Sex is not the answer. Sex is the question. Yes is the answer.*- could now be read on his chest. "The ladies will love it."
"They will slap you," Nathan contradicted, but Buck obviously didn't believe him.
"What does your other one say, Buck?" J.D. asked, seeing another shirt lying on his friend's chair.
The ladies' man grumbled something, then recited: "*I've learned that you cannot make people love you. You can only stalk them and hope they panic and give in.*"
"Why aren't you wearing that one? I'm sure the ladies would love it!" Vin chuckled.
"At least they would whole-heartedly agree," Josiah added, grinning broadly.
"You're just jealous." Buck tried to look angry, but was too high on life to succeed. "What about your second shirt?"
"Oh, you certainly know that one. *Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom ...*"
There everyone fell right in, "... *to hide the bodies of those I had to kill, because they pissed me off.*"
"So, brother, what did you get?" Josiah asked Nathan, after the general amusement had died down.
Not saying a word the medic lifted his shirt. -*When someone annoys you, it takes 42 muscles in your face to frown. But it only takes 4 muscles in your arm to slap them upside the head.*-
"I hope you don't take that as a hint, Mr. Jackson," Ezra said with a slightly frightened expression on his face.
"I don't know," Nathan seemed to contemplate the idea, "I wouldn't mind hurting you a little bit if it meant you'd do as I say."
"Whoever gave you that shirt should shoot himself right now," Buck declared.
"I second that," Ezra agreed.
"Me too." Vin nodded.
Suspiciously those three looked at Team 7's leader, who held up his hands in mock surrender.
"I didn't buy that," Chris said.
Now their glares turned to Josiah.
The profiler just shrugged. "I liked it."
"Did you get a second shirt, too?" J.D. asked curiously.
"Yes, it says: *My pattern is go, go, go ... collapse.* I don't quite get it." Nathan looked at Josiah, but it was Chris who spoke.
"It's supposed to be a reminder. Meaning that sometimes you should listen to your own advice and take a break."
Nathan grinned sheepishly. "I'll try to remember."
"Good." Chris looked around. "Did we miss anyone?"
"Yes." Buck nodded and turned to Vin. "Come on, Junior, what did Santa leave for you?"
The sharpshooter sighed and held up a t-shirt. -*The dumber people think you are, the more surprised they're going to be when you kill them.*-
"Is it me or is there a very violent streak running through our merry group?" Ezra asked rhetorically.
"And the blue one?" Chris wanted to know, stepping closer to Vin.
Vin grinned and read: "*For people who love peace and quiet - a phoneless cord.*" Questioningly he looked at his boss. "Could I get one, cowboy?"
Chris just groaned.
J.D. counted and then frowned. "There are two packages left," he said, pointing at them. "They have cards on them."
Vin was the first one there. "This one is for Inez and the other for Mary."
"I wonder what's on them?" Chris frowned. "Who bought those?"
"Okay, I'm not giving them anything that might annoy them. So I'll open them, if the buyer doesn't speak up."
When his ultimatum earned him only shrugs, Chris opened Mary's package. The t-shirt said:
-*Behind every successful man is a surprised woman.*-
"That is sexism, isn't it?" Buck asked.
"Could be." Nathan nodded.
"This one is definitely sexist," Chris said, holding up Inez' shirt. -*Man who says it can't be done shouldn't interrupt the woman who is doing it.* Chinese proverb-
"Bet that Inez will love it." J.D. grinned.
"No doubt." Ezra nodded.
"So we'll give it to her just like that?" Buck asked.
"Of course. It's hers after all." Chris looked at his friend.
"No, I mean shouldn't we wrap it again?"
"I think Buck has a point." Ezra nodded. "If you'll proceed ahead, I'll stay a moment longer and wrap the women's t-shirts up again. I'll meet you at the Saloon then."
"Sounds like a plan, Ez. All right, boys, take your shirts and jackets and let's head out," Chris all but ordered.
Happily enough Team 7 - well Team 7 minus Ezra - left the building.
Their spirits were high and their voices loud ... that's part of what Christmas is all about. J
© 14 June 2002