by Kili Craftybow

ATF Universe

As Ezra stepped into the break room to refill his coffee cup, he casually glanced at the table. There was a paper plate brimming with cookies, covered in a pristine sheet of clear cellophane. He wondered if anyone was going to eat them.

He tried to put the thought out of his mind. He filled his cup, splashed in some cream, and then headed back toward his desk. But, as he crossed in front of the doorway, he overheard two familiar voices.

"Who do you suppose brought them?" It was Nathan.

"Probably one of the ladies in the secretarial pool. They just can't get enough of me." Buck!

Ezra paused, trying to look as if he was reading the bulletins posted on the corkboard next to the door as he strained to hear the rest of the conversation.

"Did you try one?"

"No. Oh, no. I don't like oatmeal-raisin."

"But one of those women must have gone to a lot of trouble to bake them cookies. What are you going to say when she asks you about them?"

"Oh, I'll probably just smile real pretty as I tell her how nice she looks ... or something."

Ezra couldn't believe it. Buck wasn't even going to try the cookies. Even if he didn't generally like the flavor, he might like these. How would Buck know unless he tried them? Some cooks could do wonders with the most basic of ingredients. With a shake of his head, Ezra headed back to his desk.

The remainder of the day was uneventful. Ezra was called out before lunch, to meet with a snitch, but the man had no real information and Ezra returned to the office a little disappointed. He slipped into the break room before heading to his desk and noticed that the plate of cookies was gone. No crumbs, no rumpled cellophane, nothing.

When he returned to the bullpen, only two of his colleagues were present: Chris and JD. "What happened to all the cookies in the break room?"

Before Chris could answer, JD blurted, "Those? Ugh, they were terrible! I can't imagine anyone would eat them!"

Ezra just nodded as he sat down at his desk. He typed his password into his computer and immediate went to work on finishing up one of his reports.

But after a very short while, Ezra found it difficult to concentrate. Terrible? Those cookies weren't terrible! He knew they weren't. He'd tried them himself. They were delicious. Why would JD say such a thing yet give no reasons for his opinion? Maybe he didn't like oatmeal-raisin? Maybe they were too chewy, not crispy enough for the young man? But, at the very least, JD was being honest, even if he wasn't being helpful. And it was more than Ezra'd received from his other friends. Perhaps they were of the opinion, if you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all.

But now the cookies were gone. Undoubtedly tossed into the trash, based on JD's opinion of them. Ezra had half a mind to go look, just to confirm his suspicions, but he truly wasn't that desperate to know. Not that it mattered. If no one liked his cookies, well, he just wouldn't waste his time bringing any more in; it was as simple as that. Surely there were other people who might appreciate his culinary talents -- who might, at the very least, be polite enough to say thank you. It was too bad that none of his so-called friends fell into this category.

At five o'clock, Ezra quickly packed up his briefcase and headed for the door, but Josiah waylaid him for a moment. "What's the rush, Ezra?"

"I have things to do. Places to be."

"Cookies to bake?"

Ezra raised his eyebrows in surprise. He didn't think anyone knew he was the one responsible. "Yes, well, a weak moment of generosity, I suppose. Not that I've anything to show for it."

"You expected something?"

"Well, yes, of course. A kind word. A thank you. Is that too much to ask? I did spend my free time baking those cookies. And it's not like I didn't have other things I could have be doing."

"Do you bake to please other people, Ezra? To win their praise and acceptance?" Josiah asked.

"No. I enjoy the process. I find it very relaxing, therapeutic, even."

"Then why are you so upset that no one complimented you on the cookies?"

"I bake to please myself, true, but I brought the cookies in to please others. I didn't have to bring them here, you know. I could have eaten them all myself. Or given them to someone who would have appreciated them. I could probably sell them, if I had a mind to! I just thought it would be nice to share them with my friends."

Josiah didn't have a response to this.

"And I don't think a 'thank you' is too much to ask," Ezra said as his parting remark. He was done with this conversation. And he was done bringing cookies to share with his ungrateful co-workers.

He stepped onto the elevator and punched the button for the lobby. But, as the doors were closing, a hand slipped between, reopening them. It was Vin.

"Hey, Ez. Headin' out for the day?"

"Yes," he sighed, wearily.

Vin stepped in and then leaned up against the rear wall next to Ezra. He smiled and Ezra smiled back, though not as brightly.

"Vin, would you ... would you care to have dinner with me this evening?" he asked, slipping his hand into Vin's. The team's sharpshooter squeezed his fingers gently, but then suddenly turned his head away and burped.

"'Scuse me. Um, actually, I ain't very hungry. I was eatin' them oatmeal-raisin cookies this afternoon. 'Fraid I polished off the whole plate."

"All of them?"

Vin nodded, smiling wide. He didn't seem to realize how gluttonous he appeared. "Your the one that made 'em, right?"

"Yes. I did." Finally, Ezra thought! To know that someone had enjoyed his cookies -- enough to eat more than one -- made his heart swell. He loved cooking, but this ... this was Heaven! And Vin of all people. To hear the words 'thank you' from Vin -- from the man who had become so important to him over the past few months -- would make up for everything else.

"So, um, Ez? When you gonna bake some more?"


Please send notes of thank-you to:

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
11th Floor
U.S. Federal Building
Denver, CO 80202
ATTN: Agent Ezra P. Standish

Sent oatmeal-raisin cookies to:

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
11th Floor
U.S. Federal Building
Denver, CO 80202
ATTN: Agent Vin Tanner

And, finally, PLEASE thank authors for the work they've taken the time and effort to share with you!

- Kili Bloom

Comments to: kilicraftybow@yahoo.com