A Troop Meeting
Disclaimer: I don't own them, or the show they rode in on. I wrote this for fun, and no profit is made from it.
Archive: Starwinder's, You Want Fries With That?, and The All-Ezra FanFic Archive --- all others, please ask.
Summary: Chris and Ezra get roped into acting as 'den mothers'
Warnings: Same sex lovin' - nothin' too flagrant
Author's Note: another attempt at humor :-)
Completed: August 2001
Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org welcomes comments
It all started when Vin and Josiah got together over a beer in the back of Inez's Saloon. They'd beat the rest of the team there on Friday night, getting their work done early. While waiting for the others to arrive, they'd started comparing stories about the young people they worked with on weekends. Vin's teens were now organized into several basketball teams which he helped coach when he could.
He had a core group of preteens who had begun to show interest in the great outdoors that had thrilled him. Now he was working on getting a scout troop together, though the local Boy Scouts had looked doubtfully upon his application to be a scoutmaster. When he got that far in his story, Josiah had interrupted to exclaim that he'd run into similar problems when one of the missions he worked with wanted to get a Cub Scout Den organized. Since many of the mothers were unwed and working, and the few fathers were mostly on welfare and struggling to find work, Josiah's efforts to locate someone to run the den had so far failed.
By the time Buck and JD and Nathan arrived, Vin had suggested Mrs. Travis as a den mother, and Josiah had suggested using Chris as the name on the scoutmaster application. The three newcomers instantly supported these plans and began making suggestions to implement them. All was going very well when Chris and Ezra arrived.
Neither Chris nor Ezra evinced any interest in the burgeoning plans that Friday. Chris casually forbid Vin from using his name on the aforementioned application and thought he'd heard the last of it. It was nearly a month later that they'd found out that the plans had not only gone ahead without them, but that they would be taking charge of two troops on their next (formerly) free weekend.
"Chris, be reasonable, it's just for the day." Nathan was their last resort, neither JD's enthusiasm, Buck's challenges, Josiah's teasing, nor Vin's attempt at emotional blackmail had worked. Chris and Ezra had both looked horrified in their own ways; Chris had frozen and his glare had nearly disappeared beneath his lowering brows, his frown terrible to behold. Ezra's blank face and shuddered eyes were among his most classic renditions of "nobody's home."
"Mr. Jackson, really, this is too much. We have been working without let up for nearly a fortnight and I for one want to see some free time that is actually free from encumbrances." Ezra edged a bit closer to Chris as he finished, clearly signaling that he did not number Chris among those encumbrances.
Chris casually dropped an arm over Ezra's shoulders, hugging his lover closer against the backbench in the saloon. " 'Like some time alone." He remarked.
That silenced the others for a moment since everyone knew that Ezra's undercover assignment had kept the lovers separated for the entire two weeks in question, but indomitable spirits rose to the occasion. "It ain't like they'll be there overnight, old dog!" Buck hunched forward over the table and waggled his eyebrows at the two men facing him across the bottles and glasses crowding the tabletop.
Vin chimed back in, "I'll take my kids out on the trail, you won't even know they're there."
"Mrs. Travis and I have planned a nature walk. The wee ones will be collecting bugs for a science project that Father Martini will do with them next week." Josiah reached out a hand and covered one of Ezra's. "You know how much you love having kids around, anyway, son."
Chris felt his companion stiffen and begin to withdrawn from their big profiler. He serreptiously squeezed Ezra's shoulders and leaned toward the big man. "Josiah, Ezra may like children, but he LOVES me. And we haven't had any down time together in much too long."
Green eyes glanced up with gratitude into warm hazel ones. They wouldn't actually kiss in here out of respect for Inez's mixed clientele, but the hidden 'thought' kiss was clear to their five friends who all relaxed back in their seats and grinned knowingly. Nathan cleared his throat and tried again. "Look, we'll all come." Damn! He thought, poor wording there, as everyone else burst into guffaws. Blushing a rosy burnish to his mellow brown cheeks, he frowned at the others, then sighed and chuckled, they were all tired and any release through humor was gonna help. Trying again, he rephrased his thoughts, "I mean…" here he paused and frowned his seriousness at the others who had the grace to look a bit more sober, "I mean we'd all be there, too, to help out."
"Yeah, and I really want to go with Vin and his guys! It sounds like fun learning to track game on foot." JD elbowed Buck in the side as his roommate shoved his head forward and his nose nearly ended up in his still foamy beer. "Hey, Buck! Cut that out!"
"Oh, you track game! JD, you're a city slicker from Boston, fer crimey's sake, you'd be lucky not to get lost and have them all learning how to track computer dweebs inna woods!" Buck chortled at his own liquor-enhanced joke.
"Well, I'll never STOP bein' a city slicker if I don't try!" JD humphed himself upright and brushed back his disheveled hair with two hands. Buck grinned knowingly and shook his head.
Josiah took that moment to add, "Nathan's right, we'll all be along and all you two really have to do is provide the backwoods and the driveway. You'll never even know we're there."
"Never even know they're here…" Ezra said in a clipped tone over his shoulder to Nathan as they stood shoulder to shoulder making sandwiches in the kitchen. Ezra had pulled out anything that might be construed as edible from the refrigerator and the cupboards. Not really prepared for seven young 12 year olds and five even younger 8 year olds, making an impromptu early supper for the two troops was turning into a stunning nightmare as far as the team's conman was concerned.
Nathan had the grace and common sense to keep his mouth shut. Who could have predicted the freak hail and thunderstorm? Too dangerous to be outside, too dangerous to drive even, the kids, who had duly arrived in Josiah's suburban and a minivan on it's last legs from a neighbor of Vin's... the kids and the Team 7 members were all temporarily marooned at Chris' and Ezra's ranch house. And the kids, being kids, were hungry.
Vin had found an all-sports channel on TV for his guys, but Mrs. Travis had been unable to come at the last minute and Josiah was desperately trying to keep his much younger charges entertained. At that moment, Buck peered around the corner of the kitchen entry. "Ez? Josiah said to say 'help.'"
"Oh... oh, BOTHER!" Ezra tore off the chef's apron he'd donned to protect his shirt and slacks and stood back from the assembly line of sandwich making. "Very well, but you shall have to help Nathan finish up in here."
Buck raised both eyebrows and twitched his mustache good-naturedly. "Sure thing, pard."
Nathan backed up slightly as the tall rangy weapons and surveillance expert strolled in. Ezra was already passed him and was out of sight. Both could hear his, "Now children, what are we doing?" followed by, "Bless you, son," in Josiah's deeper timbre.
"Buck, don't you go messing up these sandwiches now, you hear me?"
"Nate, I'm hurt. I can fix food with the best of them."
"It's the 'them' that I'm worried about."
Ezra found Josiah like a giant among Lilliputians out in the center of the great room. With his arrival, Sanchez gratefully retreated to the porch where Chris sat smoking a cigar and watching the weather just beyond the overhang. With all the kids in the house, no liquor was out and that did not improve Chris' mood. Josiah sank into a neighboring redwood easy chair. "Ezra rescued me."
Chris squinted out at the sheeting rain that had been hail only moments before, then looked down at the cigar he'd pulled from his mouth. Studying it he spoke in a low, scratchy voice, "This ain't gonna let up for a while."
"I know, Brother Chris, and I am very sorry. None of us expected this."
Chris sighed and nodded. There was nothing to be said.
Ezra kept the little ones entertained with stories and card tricks and some strange game that one of the boys informed Buck was called "Twister." It involved the children and Ezra in a kind of tumble of lithe bodies, Ezra so wiry and thin that he fit in rather well. JD even joined in the fun at one point and suddenly seemed huge in comparison to the small boys and Ezra, at least to Buck's concerned gaze.
Buck wandered back into the kitchen to help Nathan clean up, something he'd never do back at his own digs. "Nate? You seen how Ez looks?"
"Um?" Nathan was trying to dry glasses and shelve them at the same time. "What do you mean?"
"Looks awful skinny ta me, go take a look out there."
Shooting a surprised glance at the taller man, Jackson stepped to the doorway and stood watching their undercover agent rolling around on the floor with a bunch of tiny kids and JD. Had JD grown? No, Ezra did look almost frail at that moment. Nathan looked up in time to see Chris and Josiah come in off the porch, the rain reduced to a light sprinkle behind them. Nathan saw Chris eye his partner critically and sigh.
Edging around the wrestling crowd, Nathan reached Chris' side. "He looks a trifle peaked there, Chris. Has he been off his feed again?"
Shooting an impatient glare at the team medic, Chris moved his shoulders restlessly. "He always loses weight when he's undercover." He shoved his hands into his back pockets and frowned. "I usually get a chance to fatten him back up once we're between cases." He nudged a scatter rug on the shining wood floor. "Planned on starting this weekend."
Nathan nodded. "We'll all be outta your hair shortly. You get him to eat and rest. If you need me, call."
Chris nodded. "Thanks." He shrugged. "Usually, just some time alone, him and me, is enough."
Buck, who had joined the other men at the door to the porch, touched Larabee's arm. "Hey Chris, no worries, we'll git this rabble outta here su-bi-to."
A rumbling laugh from Josiah was stifled and the big man looked apologetic. "Sorry, Buck just caught me by surprise with his Italian."
Wilmington looked offended for a moment, then his mobile face melted into a warm grin. "Met me a darlin' little donna from It-lee, some stuff jest naturally rubs off."
"Naturally!" chorused the men standing with him.
Vin and his kids clumped through the muddy drive to the minivan three hours later as the sun was setting. They were all in surprisingly good spirits considering the weather. In the end, he'd gotten them out to the barn and they'd spent time learning how to tend a horse. Since all of Team 7 stabled their animals at the ranch, there were enough horses to go around and the boys had been enchanted.
Josiah herded the tinier troopers out to his SUV as Ezra stood on the front porch waving off his 'den'. One little tyke broke free from Josiah's large supervising arm to run back up the drive and imprint muddy footsteps on the porch as he rushed up to hug the small man standing there.
"Why, my dear Master Thomas! What is the meaning of this act of impetuosity?" Ezra's warm arms encircled the boy as he squatted down to the youngster's level.
"Just wanted to tell you, Ezra, that you're the bestest den mom any Cub Scout troop could ever have!"
Blinking away sudden tears, the green-eyed man grinned broadly, his gold tooth wickedly bright in the light of the setting sun. "A den mother, hum?"
"Yeah! And wait 'til I tell Chuckie and the other guys at school! They just have Mrs. Williams and all she does is take them on picnics and stuff. She never plays with them!" Tommy hugged his new hero fiercely. "You'll be our den mother again, won't you, Ezra?"
The little boy didn't sense the tired sigh, he only felt his hug gently returned and then a light kiss on his forehead. "Ah would be honored, sirah." The southern accent so warmly thick with emotion it was like molasses.
"Great! Good bye, Ezra!" Tommy had a gap-toothed grin as he stood back and wiped his nose on his rumpled sleeve, then spun and dashed down the drive and under Josiah's arm into the waiting vehicle. Josiah smiled back up at the still crouching Ezra Standish, then waved and carefully closed the door to the truck. Within a few moments, the suburban followed the drive down away from the ranch as Vin's borrowed minivan had done only minutes before.
"Ezra?" Two large warm hands on his shoulders were welcome support. Then the hands shifted to under his arms and helped him up to his feet. "Time to come in and rest."
Ezra looked up into the understanding gaze of his lover. Chris gently brushed an escaped tear from under one bleary green eye. "You heard?" Ez choked out.
"Yeah. 'Den mother Ezra,' kinda has a ring to it."
Nathan grabbed his car keys and walked back into the great room to say his own goodbyes. There was a fire going now in the large fireplace, warming and lighting the room as evening settled in beyond the sliding glass doors to the back porch.
Buck stood in front of the fire, leaning against the mantle with one long arm strung out along it. JD was sleeping, sprawled out on the large fuffy white flokati spread out in front of the fire, worn out from his scampering activities, shuttling between the two troops helping everyone.
Chris sat on the large leather couch that faced the fire, his long black clad legs crossed at the ankles, straight out in front of him. He was nursing another cigar, fingers twisting it as he gripped it with his teeth, puffing smoke rings toward the ceiling. His other arm was filled with his full-time partner, Ezra Standish, who was sitting slumped beside him, legs curled beneath his small form, head resting on Chris' shoulder. Both hands were lax in his lap.
Speaking quietly, Nathan said, "Chris? I'm gonna head out now."
Larabee nodded, granting him a half smile as he lifted the cigar from his mouth. "Drive careful. See you Monday."
Buck straightened. "Think I'll wake the kid here and we'll head on out, too."
Chris didn't move nor did Ezra as Nathan left and Buck squatted down to wake his roommate. Chris spared a glance downward to see that Ezra had nodded off and was quietly napping now against him. With great care, he shifted his friend's body, tugging legs out and turning the body so that Ezra lay on the sofa beside him, head in his lap. He laid one hand on Ezra's stomach and rubbed slow circles as he watched his oldest friend rouse JD.
The kid came to with a startled yelp and all the energy of a youth, jumping to his feet, head knocking into Buck's on the way up. Both started to swear when Chris leaned forward, and growled around his cigar, "Shut up! You'll wake Ez!"
Chastised, the duo hastily rubbed their heads and backed out of the room to get their jackets. Popping heads back in for a moment to say goodbye, JD took in a breath to holler a farewell when Buck gripped his head in a wrestling hold, hand over his mouth. "Junior! Don't even think it!" he hissed into his roomie's ear. With a smiling look at the contentment on the face of his dearest, oldest friend, Buck Wilmington waved a goodbye and silently dragged off his younger 'brother.'
A good ten minutes after the door clicked shut and the sound of Buck's truck engine dimmed in the distance, Ezra spoke without opening his eyes. "They're all gone?"
The fire crackled and a pinecone popped.
"Ya know, it's quite a secret I got."
"That you can speak in words of less than three syllables."
Green eyes flashed open and a dimpled smile shone up at Chris. "You'll never tell."
"No. Because YOU'd never talk that much."
"You're probably right, 'den mother.'"
The chuckles dissolved into laughter and even giggles as the two rolled onto the recently vacated sheepskin rug and the fire burned low.
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