by Nadine

Thanks to Mog for creating the ATF universe for us to play in.

Rated G; Mainly Ezra

I got this idea after I saw the March challenge. I have never seen a story where he has this hobby.

"Of course Chris ah'd be delighted to have young Mr. Travis stay here tonight. When will you and Mary be bringing Billy over? See you then," Ezra hung up the phone and turned to the other person in the kitchen and explained.

"Mary's sitter canceled at the last moment. Since his grandparents are also going to this charity gala tonight they couldn't sit with Billy either. Ah told them ah'd be happy to offer my assistance as a last minute sitter."

"And get back in good with Chris." remarked a Texas drawl.

"There is that, but ah truly enjoy Billy's company, he's a good child and well mannered."

"You're a big kid yourself, so tonight you'll have a playmate."

"Two playmates, a small boy and an Texan who still hasn't done his homework." referring to a paper for one of Vin's college classes.

"Aaah Ezra I still got a week before it's due." whined Vin.

"No excuses Vin, with our uncertain schedules we can never be sure of our free time. That paper is due in one week. It's Friday night, better to get it out of the way this weekend and not have to worry about it for the rest of the week. You did ask for ma help."

"Yeah, without ya kicking my butt I wouldn't have gotten as far as I have. I better get to work." Changing the subject Vin asked hopefully "Ya going to feed me tonight Ez? Can't write anything without fuel to keep the brain cells going."

"Yes, and if you get a rough draft done before dinner you'll get dessert too."




+ + + + + + +

Vin kept his part of the bargain. They were about to start dessert when Chris and Mary with Billy in tow rang the bell.

"Come in," Ezra told them, "Mary you are looking enchanting this evening." Speaking directly to Billy, "Mr. Travis, Ah'm told Ah have the pleasure of your company this evening. Think we can find something interesting to do tonight?"

Billy smiled, he liked Ezra. Didn't always understand him, but he sure did like him. Ezra was fun, he knew card tricks and could tell great stories. Ezra never talked down to him making him feel like a kid. Holding on to his backpack he turned in a circle to see as much of the room as he could.

"You've got a neat house."

"Thank you Billy, maybe later we can go exploring."

"Neat indeed," said Mary Travis as she viewed the living room. "I'm looking forward to when you have your open house. This house has a lot of history to it, Evie and I both want a chance to look it over."

An open house? Ezra looked over at Chris who just smiled back at him. An open house, this was the first Ezra had heard of it and it was his house. Mary was still speaking.

"I want to thank you for saving our evening, I've been looking forward to this charity dance all week. It isn't often I can get Chris to dress up."

Chris was resigned to his fate, dancing wasn't his idea of a perfect evening but as long as Mary was at his side he didn't care. Billy tugged at Ezra's arm.

"Ezra, Chris said Vin was here too and I could do my homework while you did yours."

Chris spoke up "I mentioned that the two of you had paperwork to go over this weekend and that you wouldn't mind helping Billy with his homework."

"There is no reason why both cannot be completed simultaneously. Vin is in the kitchen Billy, eating desert. Shall we go find if he has left any for us?"

"Chocolate cake?"

"I believe it is and Ah might have some ice cream to go with it."

"All right!"

Billy and Ezra started off toward the kitchen.

"Don't I get a good-bye kiss first?" asked his Mother.

"Sorry Mom," Billy gave Mary a quick kiss and Chris a hug, then ran back to Ezra. The pair made their way to the kitchen to find out if Vin had eaten all the cake.

"I think I've been replaced," said Mary, as she and Chris let themselves out leaving two big boys and one little boy discussing the merits of eating chocolate ice cream over vanilla ice cream with the cake.

Mary smiled "Billy's not forgotten that chocolate cake Ezra gave him the last time Ezra took care of him."

"That had to have been at the townhouse, he remembers that long ago?" asked Chris.

"Yes, and every chocolate cake since then has been held up to that standard. So far none have come up to it."

"Not even his grandmother's chocolate cake?" marveled Chris, "Evie makes a delicious chocolate cake."

"No, much to her annoyance. Good thing she likes Ezra or his name would be mud."

+ + + + + + +

Back in the kitchen Vin and Billy make quick work of the cake and ice cream. Their decision was some of each would be the perfect combination. After the dishes were done Ezra asked Billy about his homework.

"It's in my backpack," he said dragging his pack to the kitchen table. He started pulling out books and loose papers setting them out on the table, half of which fell to the floor. "Sorry." Billy and Ezra each picked up a handful. While Billy jammed his back into the backpack, Ezra took time to straighten his. One paper caught his eye, a form sheet headed *Attention Parents * made him pause. It was an outline of the school fair taking place tomorrow with an update asking each parent to bring a baked item to be sold at the bake sale to help raise money for school programs.

"Billy has your Mother seen this?" Ezra showed him the note.

"I gave her the one the teacher handed out last week, we got that one today. We're going with Granddad and Grandma Travis. Chris said he'd go to if nothing came up. You want to go?"

"Ah'd like to but Vin and Ah still have our own homework to get done. What Ah'm asking, did you show your mother this updated paper asking parents to bring a bake item to the fair?"


"Does your mother usually bake things for school functions?

"Yeah, or Grandma does." It was then that Billy realized by forgetting to give his mother the announcement, he wouldn't have anything to take and show off to his friends tomorrow. "Oh,....Grandma's at the party too isn't she?" Thinking it over he sighed, "Mom and Grandma were really looking forward to going to the party weren't they? Answering his own question, "It wouldn't be fair to make them come home because I forgot would it?" Billy looked as if his world was ending, torn between wanting his mother to come home so he wouldn't be the only one not to have something for the sale but not wanting to ruin her evening either.

Vin and Ezra exchanged looks, they didn't want Billy to be upset, nor did they want to be the ones to cause Mary to miss out on her night of dancing. An unhappy Mary equaled a very unhappy Chris, a condition they both wanted to avoid.

"Billy," said Ezra getting the boy's attention, "the announcement doesn't say your mother has to be the one to make the confectionery. There is no reason why we, you, Vin and mahself can't make cup cakes for you to take to the fair."

"Ez?" a puzzled Vin hissed over the boy's head. "Can we do that?"

Ezra stared at the pair, "Ah'm going to let you two in on a secret, whenever ah need to relax or if ah'm just in the mood.....ah..ah bake. He then stepped back to wait for their reaction to his less then masculine pass time.

"Cool" said Billy

Vin didn't comment. He was thinking and realized he now had the answers to a couple of unanswered questions. "That why ya wouldn't tell us were the bakery is that ya shopped at when ya brought stuff in. Or why there was always something here for me to snack on when I came over to study. And why between the townhouse being destroyed and moving in to the Victorian, ya didn't bring anything in to the office. But ya started up again after ya moved in here." Vin smiled, "Like Billy said, cool."

"Ah trust ah have your discretion in not telling the others members on the team."

Vin grinned "We can talk about that later. Ya got everything ya need for this operation?"

After a quick run to the store, the kitchen became a hive of activity. Measuring out the dry ingredients Ezra let Billy sift then together, using an old fashion sifter while he mixed the other ingredients. The first dozen were cooling on the counter as they mixed up the next batch. By the time the last pan came out of the oven, the first dozen were ready to be iced. Ezra let Billy ice them after showing him an easy way to do it. A spoon full of icing was dropped on top of each cup cake, then flattened with the same spoon. A lot of icing never made it to the tops of the cakes, a detour to Billy's mouth happened quite often. That was all right, Ezra had made plenty of icing. Vin was the scullery, he kept the dirty dishes out of the way. Of course he got to sample everything as well, as the scullery he got to (metaphorically speaking) lick the bowls. By the time they were done, they had three and a half dozen chocolate cup cakes and it was very late. Billy had fallen asleep in the old rocker Ezra kept in the kitchen. Ezra made him comfortable with a pillow and covered him with a blanket as Vin and Ezra cleaned up.

"Why don't you want the others to know?" Vin asked.

Ezra stopped cleaning and looked out the kitchen window into the night, as if making up his mind. Coming to a decision he answered.

"Ma great Aunt Hilly taught me the basics of cooking. She told me when I felt everything was out of control baking could help me get it back. For ah would control the measuring and how the ingredients were mixed together. If something good came out of it, then ah made it happen. For a while ah would be in control of everything round me, ah had very little control of ma childhood, especially at that time. Now after coming back from an undercover assignment ah need to feel like ah'm in control of ma life again to be able to relax. Being with Aunt Hilly gave me some of the best memories of ma childhood...... Heck, ah'm not explaining this well, ah don't want to be made fun of for something that makes me feel good." The last sentence sounded like a little boy embarrassed by confessing his feelings.

"Ya explain yourself just fine Ez, the guys wont find out about it from me, as long as I still get to be your test taster when ya do bake."


"Ez, ya going to send all the cup cakes with Billy?"

"Only two dozen go home with him, the other dozen goes to the taste tester if he finishes his paper this weekend."

The sounds of a car pulling around the house got their attention. Chris and Mary were back.

"Heck we haven't cleaned up Billy or ourselves," groaned Ezra trying to brush off a layer of flour.

The voices were getting closer. Chris opened the back door for Mary. She didn't sound too happy.

"I don't know were I'm going to get something for Billy to take to that bake sale tomorrow. That fool woman didn't tell me anything about it till the last minute. I'm only glad Evie and Orin had already left or you know she would have spent the rest of the night baking to make sure Billy didn't feel left out of anything." She stopped her rant when she saw what was on the table.


"The bake sale announcement was mixed in with Billy's homework. He didn't want to spoil your evening out, so we.....we made these, the three of us." Ezra pointed to the cup cakes.

Chris smiled. Both men were covered with a dusting of flour. Vin had chocolate icing on his face and shirt. While there were no dirty dishes in sight, he bet the dishwasher was full. Chris walked over to the oven, it was still warm. Mary was standing by a sleeping Billy; he too had a covering of flour. A ring of chocolate circled his mouth and the front of the man's green Tee shirt he was wearing was also covered in chocolate. Mary brushed his hair with her hand checking on her child, finding all was well.

"I don't know how to thank you two, you saved the day and my night." smiling at Ezra and Vin. "I'm sure there is a very interesting story here and I want to hear it. But right now I would like to taste one of those cup cakes. May I?"

"Of course, please do, ah'll go to get some boxes for you to convey them home." Ezra backed out of the room.

Chris and Mary each picked up a cake and took a bite. Mmmmm came from both, as the chocolate treat all but melted in their mouths, this was heavenly. Chris was already reaching for another one.

"Hey cowboy, "Vin stopped him, "Two dozen of those are for the kids. The other dozen are mine, Ez said so."

"That leaves four more." Chris snatched up two, he gave one to Mary and ate the other.

Ezra reentered the kitchen with the boxes. Seeing evidence of icing on both their faces he asked. "Ah take it that the cup cakes are acceptable."

"Ezra these are delicious, I want the recipes and I know Evie will too." said Mary as she licked the icing off her fingers.

Mary cleaned up a sleepy Billy for the ride home as Chris helped pack up the cup cakes in the boxes. Vin took the boxes out to the car while Mary embarrassed Ezra by thanking him again.

"Ezra Standish don't tell me you did nothing. How many people would go to the trouble of baking cup cakes for a little boy's school fair and saving his mother's night out?" Giving him a hug, she told him "You are a special person, don't you forget it."

He looked to Chris who was smiling "You did good Ez." Chris carried Billy out to the car and tucked him in the back seat. Mary and Chris made their good-byes and headed home.

Back in the kitchen Vin and Ezra finish cleaning up. Vin counted his cup cakes, there were only ten. He yelled. " Hey! That no good theivin' cowboy took two of my cup cakes!"


Constructive comments are always welcome.