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by Lanna Hanson
Author's notes: I wasn't gonna jump on the ATF bandwagon,
but here I am and here I go. I've responded to my own challenge and here
is the result. Let me know what ya think.
Ezra Standish smiled slightly as Chris Larabee's ranch came into view
and he spied the vehicles of his teammates scattered about what passed
for the driveway. It never ceased to amaze him. Every time one of them
was hurt, the rest of them would converge on him and not leave him alone
until he was fully recovered. This time, the agent on the receiving end
of the nursemaid treatment was Vin Tanner.
Three weeks earlier, the ATF team's resident sharpshooter and weapons
expert, had been badly injured in a bust gone wrong. They had nearly
lost him three times, two of those times just on the way to the hospital
according to Chris, who had ridden in the ambulance. But Vin had proven
to be too stubborn to die and relieved them all by pulling through.
He had been released three days ago and Chris had insisted, if not
ordered, that Vin stay with him at his ranch until fully recovered. Today
was Friday and the rest of the team had decided to spend a relaxing weekend
at Chris', 'helping' Vin get better. Ezra shook his head. Helping make
Vin take his pain medication was more like it. That was one of the many
things Ezra didn't understand about the quiet, ex-bounty hunter. The
man could be in a world of pain and yet, still refuse to take anything
to relieve it. He glanced over at the box resting on the passenger seat
and smiled. Well, today Vin Tanner's pain was going to vanish. For a
little while anyway.
He pulled up behind J.D.'s motorcycle, grabbed the box and went inside,
knocking as he did. J.D. poked his head around the corner from the living
room, smiled and called out, "Ezra's here!" then disappeared again.
"'Bout time you got here," Buck said as the southerner entered the
large living room, "Where ya been?"
"Forgive my tardiness gentlemen," Ezra replied, his gaze scanning
Vin Tanner was stretched out on the couch, a blanket covering his
lanky frame and doing an excellent job of hiding the pain he was in.
Ezra's trained eye, however, saw right through him and, judging from
the look the younger man gave him, he knew it too.
"What's in the box, Ezra?" J.D. asked, curiosity written all over
Ezra smiled. "Just thought we would all enjoy the home baked goodness
of some cupcakes," he replied, opening the box and revealing two dozen
of the well-liked treats. "By the way, where is Mr. Larabee."
"Got called back to the office. Won't be long," Nathan replied.
Buck raised a brow. "You like to bake too?"
"No, my dear friend. These are the products of a friend of mine. Come
now everyone, eat up."
He passed out one to each and then placed the box down in an easy-to-reach
spot for seconds. Twenty minutes and three cupcakes later, Vin had an
expression of pure bliss on his face, smiling as he stared at the blanket.
Every few minutes, a chuckle would escape his lips.
"You know," Josiah said from his perch on the floor, picking at the
carpet," Chris really should replace this grass with real carpet. I know
he's fond of the countryside, but even Jesus didn't bring it inside."
"How else is he supposed to perfect those domestic sheep?" Buck replied,
his hand moving in a petting motion. "Wow," he added, "These domestics
have the softest wool I've ever felt!"
Nathan was slowly walking around the room, his eyes searching the
floor intently. "Come on out, now," he muttered, "I know you're here
"Who are you....ooooooooooooo," Ezra giggled, then finished his question,
"Looking for misssterrrrrr Jackssssoonnn?"
"That damned leprechaun. I know he's around hear somewhere....there
he is! Come back here you!" he exclaimed, running from the room.
There was a thud and a moment later, he returned, his hands cupped
together and a satisfied, conspiratorial look on his face.
"Oh my God!" J.D. suddenly exclaimed, running to the window, "When
did Chris get a purple elephant and why didn't anyone tell me?"
He spun around, glaring accusingly at the others. Buck burst out laughing
while Josiah looked around the room, frowning. "I wonder where he keeps
J.D.'s accusing glare turned to one of fascination. "Wow. Does anyone
else see all the tiny flying people?"
"Flying people?" Nathan looked up sharply, scanned the area, then
looked down at his cupped hands suspiciously. "What are you up to in
there?" he demanded, "You got a cell phone on you?"
"Cell phone," Vin muttered. He raised his hand and stared at it, slowly
moving it from side to side and smiling.
They all looked up as they heard the door open and shut and a moment
later, Chris entered the room.
"Hey Cowboy," Vin greeted with a grin. "I been thinkin' you and me
need to take a trip. Never been to the moon. Heard it's a real purty
spot. Wanna go?"
Chris looked at him with a raised brow, then looked at the others.
"What's he talking about?"
"Trip to the moon last I heard," Nathan replied, taking another peek
inside his cupped hands.
"Chris," Josiah said, waving to him. "You really gotta replace this
grass with normal carpet and to tell ya the truth, I don't think domestic
sheep are gonna catch on. They tend to smell bad."
"Yeah," Buck replied, "Sheep. You know, 'moooo'?" He paused and frowned.
"No wait, that's not right."
J.D. rolled his eyes. "Buck you moron, that's a cow. A sheep goes,
"You gentlemen truly amaze me," Ezra said with a sigh. "A sheep goes
J.D. grinned. "That's it! Man Ez, you really are smart!"
"What have you got in your hands, Nate?" Chris asked, noticing the
black man's seeming obsession.
"Leprechaun," Nathan replied. His eyes darted around the room, as
he added, "Careful. Sneaky little elf has a cell phone. This whole place
is crawling with his fairy buddies."
Chris finally spied the box that contained the cupcakes, or rather
what was left and, picking the box up, asked, "You boys been chowing
down on these?"
"Better believe it," J.D. replied. "Ezra brought ''em."
Chris turned his attention to Ezra. "Just what did you put in these,
"I asshure you shir, I put nothing in them." He held up his hand and
pointed to the wall, "I received them from a friend of mine."
"All right, what did your friend put in them?"
"Ohhh a little of this, a little of that," Ezra replied, then burst
into a hysterical fit of laughter.
"Chris, just wanted ya to know I haven't felt this great since before
I was born," Vin said, then added as something got his attention, "Man,
I never knew the air had so many colors!"
Chris shook his head. "All right boys. Two things are gonna happen
here. One, I'm throwing these out," he indicated the box of leftover
cupcakes. "And secondly, you're all gonna stay in here. No one is leaving
this room unless it's to the bathroom or, as I'm sure it will be, the
"But Chris!" J.D. protested, "I wanted to ride the purple elephant
you got stashed out there!"
"I'll let ya ride it tomorrow J.D. For now, you all stay here. Okay?"
Receiving nods, Chris turned and left the room, hiding his smile of
amusement. This was gonna be one interesting night to say the least.
He'd have a little chat with Ezra in the morning.
When Chris left, J.D. looked around, then said, "Man! Does anyone
else have a huge craving for like ten pizzas and a huge bucket of Chinese
"Throw in some Thai and Italian and I'll be set for life!" Buck replied.
J.D. grinned and reached for the phone.
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