SUMMARY: This story is a response to the March 2002 challenge: Give any one of the seven a hobby the other six do not know about, until events conspire to bring it to their attention. Hobby must not be anything previously mentioned in other stories...ie. no working at a shelter for Josiah, no piano playing for Ezra, no working with neighborhood kids for Vin. You get the idea. In essense I want to know what one of the boys does with his down time, and the reaction of the others when they find out. They aren't always working.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story was influenced by an OT thread on the MagnificentAUs yahoogroup ;) As with my other stories, this has been beta read by my sister...but all mistakes are mine. Enjoy
Vin was in front of his apartment waiting for Ezra to come pick him up since his jeep was in the shop. On the ground next to him he had several grocery bags filled with chips, cookies, nuts and other snacks he felt they needed at their monthly poker game at Chris' place.
Seeing Ezra's car, Vin grabbed the first two bags and headed over. "Pop the trunk, Ez, so I can put the snacks in."
Ezra released the trunk mechanism, then exited the car to help Vin with the other bags. "Good Lord, Mr. Tanner, did you buy all the junk food in the city?" He asked as he perused the contents in the remaining bags, as they finished packing the trunk.
Vin shook his head, "Naw jist enough for us...I bought other stuff too. Got them funny crackers Nathan likes. Oh...and when I was at the store I saw those bean things you always get at the Japanese restaurant so I got you a couple of bags..."
"Edamame?" Ezra asked as he entered his car.
"Yup..." Vin replied as he got in the passenger side.
As they drove up in Ezra's jag, they saw Buck and JD getting out of Buck's truck carrying several cases of beer.
Seeing Vin and Ezra getting out of the car, Buck called out,"Hey Ez...before you grab too many of Vin's bags...can you open the door? We kinda have our hands full here."
Grabbing one of Vin's bags, Ezra replied, "Absolutely Mr. Wilmington. However, you can hasten your entrance into Mr. Larabee's residence by setting one of those cases of beer down. With your hand unencumbered you will be able to open the door."
"Sure Ez, but since you only have one bag at the moment you can do it." Buck responded.
As Ezra opened the door to the house, they heard Chris exclaim, "STOP THAT! Put it down! I said, PUT IT DOWN!"
Thinking there was trouble, the foursome quickly placed their bags by the door and hurried into the house heading towards the back where they heard Chris.
Just as they arrived at the door to the den, they heard Chris yelling "DAMMIT BUCK! If you don't get your ass in gear...I swear you're gonna lose your job...DAMN!" Sighing, he muttered under his breath, "Well...you might as well get the paper...Why is it I can get the others off to work on time...even Ez...but you keep missing your ride?"
Hearing his name, Buck tentatively asked, "Uh...Chris?"
Startled because he heard a voice he wasn't expecting, Chris jumped out of his chair. Slowly turning around he stood in front of the computer monitor making sure the others could not see it and said, "Hey fellas! What are you doing here?"
Buck replied, "We told you a couple of days ago that we were gonna get here around 4 o'clock so that we could go for a short ride before the poker game."
Checking his watch, Chris said, "You're early."
Vin replied, "Ten minutes ain't that early."
Remembering the words Chris was yelling as they entered the house, Buck asked, "Uh...Chris...what did I do? Why am I losing my job?
Embarrassed at being caught, but refusing to confirm what they heard, Chris asked as if confused, "Buck...what are you talking about?"
"Mr. Larabee, as we were entering your residence, we clearly heard you exclaiming quite loudly that Mr. Wilmington was in jeopardy of being terminated from his current position." Ezra answered.
Standing straighter Chris replied, "There's nothing going on. I'm just working on a project. Why don't you guys go out to the barn and saddle the horses. I'll be done in a minute and join you."
Noticing Chris' evasiveness, Vin walked towards him saying "Yeah? What project? Maybe we can help..."
Hoping to stop Vin before he saw the monitor, Chris quickly said, "No! I don't need your help with this. I have everything under control."
Vin replied, "C'mon Cowboy...ya wouldn't have been yellin' at Buck if'n everything's ok. Now move outta the way so we can see what you're doin'."
"Yeah Chris," Buck agreed, "JD could probably fix the problem you're having with the computer in two seconds."
Admitting defeat, Chris said, "You're not going to leave until you see what's on the screen are you?"
Hearing his friends reply "nope", "no", "naw", "of course not", he slowly sat down and the others saw the screen.
Instead of seeing the computer disaster they were expecting, they saw what looked like the interior of a house with a figure of a man wearing jeans and a sweatshirt wandering around with a plate of food. Moments later, another man, a skinny looking one wearing a t-shirt and jeans entered the room.
When he saw the screen, JD stated , "Hey...that's Sims. I didn't know you played that game."
Before the others could make a comment, Chris said, "Yes, it's Sims. A few months ago I was at the store and was walking by a couple of people talking about the game. One of them said something interesting and so I bought it. Since it was a few hours before you were scheduled to arrive, I started playing. Just didn't realize what time it was."
JD said, "Yeah...I know what you mean. It's addicting. You can get so caught up into it that you don't realize how much time you spent playing."
Thinking back to what Chris was yelling earlier, Buck asked, "But that doesn't explain why you were yelling at me about losing my job."
Before Chris could respond, JD took over the mouse and rolled it over one of the six faces at the bottom of the screen. Seeing the names of the characters Chris was playing with, JD looked up and said, "Hey Chris, if you want, I'll send over the skins I made of the seven of us...they're better than these generic ones you're using. Hey...Cool..." he grinned, "I'm a game designer!" knowing that it meant Chris had him in the hacker career ladder.
Distracted for the moment, Buck clipped the top of JD's head with a swat. "Now why would Chris want a character that's supposed to be you wearing that stupid hat?!"
"It's not a stupid hat! And I was talking about the other set I made of us...not the western one." JD turned to Chris, "Hey, how come you didn't make one of yourself?"
Not wanting the others to know the reason why he got the game, Chris didn't answer.
Vin, getting the gist of what JD was saying, squinted at the little images of faces on the screen. Shaking his head, he asked, "Ya mean those fellas are supposed ta be us?"
Ezra took the mouse away from JD and clicked the picture of the character with the name 'Ezra' attached. "Surely, you do not expect me to believe that character is supposed to be me?" he asked Chris. "Except for the suit, he does not resemble me in the slightest...and you expect me to be a 'junior' executive?" Ezra continued while looking at Chris in disbelief.
"Hey Ez, what about me?" Vin asked, curious of what kind of career Chris picked out for him.
Clicking on the appropriate image, Ezra informed him, "It appears that you are a mountain climber."
Taking the mouse away from Ezra, JD clicked on the other images and said, "Josiah's in the vice squad and Nathan's a resident."
When JD didn't mention him, Buck ask curiously, "What about me?"
Realizing that there was no way he could not answer Buck's question, Chris shook his head and said, "You just lost your job...again...I think that's the third one you've lost." He shrugged at Buck's look of disbelief. "I was using you to make friends. In the mornings you would be so tired or depressed that you wouldn't listen to me and go to work."
"So what careers did you have me lose?" Buck wanted to know.
"Hmmm." Chris thought back, "Drill instructor, patrolman and most recently team mascot. You just got that job too." Chris signed, "I'm tempted to give you the next job that comes up in the newspaper...even if it's golf caddy or pickpocket."
JD looked at Chris in disbelief. "You'd give Buck a life of crime?"
He shrugged, "Had Ez up to con artist before he lost that job."
Ezra looked up in surprise at the revelation, hiding his hurt behind a blank facade. The others stared at Chris in shock.
Chris said defensively, "I based the characters on you guys. And since Ez's our the undercover agent, it was either life of crime or entertainment, you know being an actor...so the choices were a pickpocket or waiter. And I couldn't picture Ez waiting tables."
The others nodded...it did make a bit of sense. Ezra, on the other hand, shuddered at the thought of doing menial labor as a waiter.
Curious on why his old friend would suddenly decide to play a video game Buck asked, "So pard...why didja buy the game?"
Vin stared at Chris then smirked, he had a vague idea on what Chris had been thinking...considering what he figured out about the game. He glanced over at Ezra and saw a look of comprehension cross his face.
Chris looked down at the monitor and mumbled a response.
"What? Chris? I didn't hear you."
"I said … I wanted to have a team that actually did what I told them too." He sighed...then glared at the computer monitor as he continued, much to the amusement of the others, "But these damn characters have a mind of their own and don't listen to me either!"
*Additional disclaimer: The Sims game and its Living Large expansion pack (which is not mentioned by name) belong to Maxis and Electronic Arts