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 the room.

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 him.

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 somewhere."

"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 the lawnmower."

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, 'quack quack.'"

"You gentlemen truly amaze me," Ezra said with a sigh. "A sheep goes 'baaaa.'"

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, Ezra?"

"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 kitchen. Understood?"

"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 food?"

"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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