The 24-Hour Challenge #4

Offered by SueBethJimBob:

How would our guys (well, one of them) react if they came back from a conference or something (modern AU, probably ATF, would work best, but idea could be adapted to most anything) to discover they'd been "Surprise by Design"ed or "While You Were Out"ed?

Your moderator, stepping in to add a bit more to this challenge:  If you don't want to use the TV shows, just have one of the guys return to find that one (or more) of the other guys has 'improved' his living space in one way or another.

By NotTasha
TITLE: PQL: Keep On 

By Sunhawk
Title:  Cat Burglars?

 J.D. and Buck entered their house after a long weekend spent in a futile stake-out of an elderly man.  They still couldn't figure out why Larabee had insisted that they do it but hey he was the boss.  Upon entering they stopped dead.  Something was dreadfully wrong with the living room.

"Umů Buck we are in the right house aren't we?" Asked J.D.

"I think so let me check the door."  Buck opened the door to check the number on it.  "Yup.  Don't remember having so much floor though."

"Yeah and it wasn't so clean last time we were in here." replied J.D.

"Maybe we got hit by burglars." Suggested Buck as he scanned the room once more. "Tasteful burglars at that."

"Nah, can't be.  They usually make a mess, not clean it up."

"Hope that's still our couch under that blue cover thing.  I just got it broke in right."  Buck looked pale as if he were going into shock. 

"My computer!" Yelped J.D.  He ran into the room and stopped dead with a look of mingled awe and avarice[1] when he saw the new computer desk.  He was lost to the world and down for the count.

Seconds later Vin stuck his head out of the kitchen. "Do y'guys like it?"

"Well hell.  You trying to tell us something?" Buck looked sheepish.

"Yeah, ya live like pigs 'n' got no taste, so me 'n' tha boys 'cided ta help ya out.  Ezra picked ev'thing out an' tha rest o' us cleaned up an' did tha 'menial labor'." Vin drawled with a wink.

"And if you don't keep the living room clean, well, let's just say things will get real messy." Chris glared pointedly.

"Indeed. I, myself, personally, would rather that partaking in a simple game of chance not include gambling with my personal health.  Nor should it be more dangerous to my haberdashery than dealing with pugnacious punks with guns." Said Ezra with a charming smile. "Now, since Helios has descended I suggest that now is an excellent time for a hearty repast."

"Time to eat." Translated Josiah without prompting.

"Oh yeah.  Hey Kid, rub-a-dub-dub time for the grub." Buck reached out to snag J.D. as everyone left the house.  "And guys," he waited until everyone was looking at him, "We love it thanks."

The End

[1] avarice \Av"a*rice\ ([a^]v"[.a]*r[i^]s), n. [F. avaritia, fr. avarus avaricious, prob. fr. av[=e]re to covet, fr. a root av to satiate one's self: cf. Gr. 'a`menai, 'a^sai, to satiate, Skr. av to satiate one's self, rejoice, protect.] 1. An excessive or inordinate desire of gain; greediness after wealth; covetousness; cupidity.


By Enola
Title:  While You Were Out

AU -- a new one I created for this -- you'll see at the end.

The beautiful dark-haired woman closed the cell phone and smiled at the decorators and hosts. "It's a go. He's been picked up at the airport and they're on their way."

The other dark-haired woman smiled at her. "Nervous?"

The first one laughed. "Nah, not really. Worst he can do is unleash words on me. Words don't scare me none."

A half-hour later, the Ram pulled up outside the townhouse. From the driver's side a blond man in black emerged. From the passenger side, an auburn-haired man. The cameras rolled, and the auburn-haired accountant squinted up at the lights. "....what?"

His wife crossed the threshold and kissed him warmly. "Welcome home, Ez."

"Thank you... I think....what's going on?"

"Follow me....." She led him to the bedroom, where the others waited.

Emerald green eyes flew wide open and suitcases thudded to the ground. He gawked at the sight that met his gaze.

The bedroom was now wooden panelled and hardwood floored. Western images greeted him from every angle -- capped by a photograph of the Seven of them in Old Western garb.

"D'you like it?" she asked hesitantly.

He moved to the wall and ran his fingers lovingly over a Remington pistol mounted there. His eyes turned to the blond, and the camera picked up his eyes shifting to hazel green and then back.

The blond laughed and nodded -- at nothing.

He then turned to his wife -- and his eyes flashed her cerulean blue.

A smile was her reply.

"SCAMPS!" he laughed and hugged his wife fiercely. "I LOVE it! Thank you!"

A moment later, both of them were seated on the windowseat while the hostess said, "You have one more question to answer, Ezra. She's won all this for you -- and if you get this right, you get the lovely windowseat you're now seated on. If you miss it, we get to take the windowseat. Ready?"

He nodded.

"All right. WHY did your wife say she wanted to do this for you? Was it a) You complete her and she wanted to fulfill your deepest dream of living in the Old West? Was it b) You work so hard, you deserve a place to retreat that is peaceful but still you? or was it c) You both lived in the Old West before and it would be like coming home?"  Ezra smiled into his wife's eyes and answered without hesitation. "Because she wanted to fulfill my deepest dream."

The hostess sighed. "Ezra.....guess what?" She burst into a huge grin. "You're RIGHT!"

After another hour, the lights and cameras were all gone and so were the others who'd come to see and help. Ezra and his wife were alone. She chewed on her lip. "Do you really like it?"

"I love it. Thank you." He kissed her. "I love you, Vivian Tanner."

"And I love you, Ezra Tanner...always."


By Lady Catherine Dunbar (Kelly)
TITLE: The Portrait

UNIVERSE: Revolution
NOTES: The Revolution madness continues!  This is a continuation of my story "Broken".  I know, it just keeps going.  This section occurs about a week or two after my last section, "Swallowing a Gift".  This piece was also inspired by a picture frame I just bought.  Enjoy! 

"How is he?" Chris asked as Vin walked into what had once been the Whitman's parlor. 

The tracker grinned and shook his head.  "Can't wait to get up to his room and away from Nathan."

"Can you blame him?" Chris asked, looking up from the map he was studying.

"Not at all."

Not one person in the camp could blame the South Carolinian for wanting to leave the makeshift infirmary, which had once been the servant's quarters.

Shortly before Ezra had disappeared, the regiment, like every other in the army, had sought out winter quarters.  Larabee's regiment often traveled independently of the main army, given special orders by the commanding general.  Therefore they had a rather large Massachusetts farm house and its grounds all to themselves, kindly donated by the Whitman family who then fled.  While the men had begun to build themselves cabins outside the house, Larabee and his offices settled into main house.  Most of them were beyond thrilled to actually have a permanent home, at least for six months.  There would be no fighting at least until April so the men took the opportunity to make the house their home. 

Each of the seven had picked a room, Ezra choosing a room furnished in fine cherry wood and rich red fabrics.  He had only begun to unpack his belongings when Chris had asked to scout around and make sure the British were staying in one place.  Thus Ezra's room was still not put together the way the gambler liked.

When Ezra had been found a week earlier by Vin, stumbling along a deserted road, wrapped in blankets and leaning on a crutch.  The man had been half crazy from cold, exhaustion and pain and Vin had rushed him back to camp.  Nathan had seen to him immediately and after two days gotten his fever down.  By that time he was well enough to tell them what had happened.  At first he worried about telling them about Murphy, concerned that he would jeopardize the Captain's safety, but he decided that it would be better that his friends know about Murphy so he would not be harmed if they ever came upon his regiment in a fight.  He told them his story, surprising them all.  They had forgotten that even the British were human and all secretly thanked Captain Murphy for the risk he had taken by helping Ezra.      

Ezra had been confined to the infirmary ever since.  His musket wound healed quite quickly, but Nathan did not want him moved until his leg was given a chance to heal slightly. 

His leg had finally healed to Nathan's satisfaction and he was allowed to return to his room.  All of them were glad that Ezra would be returning to the house.  They had all feared the worst  when he had disappeared, and knowing they would all be under one roof again made them all happy beyond words, even Chris.

"Think he'll like JD's surprise?" Larabee asked his friend.

Vin shrugged.  "Dunno.  Might not be too happy somebody poked through his things."

Chris nodded his agreement.  He had warned JD against his plan but the kid had insisted.  He wanted to welcome Ezra home and had decided to unpack his belongings and fix up his room.  The others knew he had good intentions but were worried Ezra would not take well to someone going through his things.  They just hoped Ezra would keep any dissenting comments to himself.

"I am perfectly capable of entering a house unassisted, Mr. Jackson," came a drawl from the entry way.

"Guess we'll know pretty soon," Vin said.

Chris nodded as they walked into the entrance hall.  Ezra was leaning on his crutch, Nathan attempting to help him.

"Fine then, I'll just watch you fall down the stairs and break your neck," the healer scolded.

Ezra rolled his eyes.  "Exaggeration does not become you Mr. Jackson.  Now if you excuse me, I am anxious to get up to my room."

"You tell him Nate?" Vin asked.

Ezra looked from one friend to another, eyebrows raised.  "Tell me what?"

The three men exchange glances, none of them wanting to tell him about JD's surprise.
"Well, Ez," Vin began, "JD wanted to give you a welcome home present, so he unpacked your things and set up your room for you."

Ezra stared at the tracker as if he had sprouted wings.  "Did he really?" he said in a calm voice.

"Yeah, he wanted to make yeah feel at home.  He really missed yeah Ez," Vin said.  "Hell, we all did," he admitted.

Ezra was a bit taken aback by the honest statement.  They had missed?  Of course he knew that, but he never would have imagined that they would ever say it out loud.  He smiled genuinely at his friends.

"I missed you gentlemen as well.  I am sure Mr. Dunne did a fine job."

"Well, let's get you up there so you can see," Nathan said, starting again for the stairs. 

"Of course Mr. Jackson," Ezra said, hobbling up the stairs, Nathan behind him in case he stumbled.  Chris and Vin followed at a safe distance in case they were needed.  After a few choice words the Southerner reached the top of the stairs and made his way to his room.  Vin opened the door and they all held their breaths as Ezra entered his room. 

Everything was neat and in its place, just as Ezra would have done himself.  His leather satchels had been placed under the bed, which had been made.  JD had placed all of Ezra's clothes in the fine wardrobe, hanging his hat on a peg by the desk.  On the desk JD had arranged Ezra's writing accessories neatly, and his few books had been placed on a shelf. 

Everything was nearly perfect, but what caught Ezra's attention was a picture frame sitting on the nightstand, something he had never seen before.  The frame was about four inches high and of a unique design.  The glass over the portrait was round with a black border.  Around the portrait was a square border; four blue enamel corners surrounded by crystals.  It was truly a lovely piece.  Inside the frame was a portrait of a beautiful woman in her early twenties dressed as an aristocrat.  She had large brown eyes and chocolate hair flowing over her shoulders.

Ezra hobbled into a few feet into the room, his eyes locked on the portrait.

"Where did that come from?"

Vin exchange glances with Chris and Nathan as he moved up beside Ezra.  "JD said he bought it awhile back in Boston, had been saving it for a special occasion.  When he found her portrait in your bags he thought she deserved a place of importance."

Ezra continued to stare at the portrait he had kept in his saddle bag for years.  He simply nodded.  "Mr. Dunne was quite right, Mr. Tanner," he said softly, a smile coming to his lips.  "I should have put her in a frame long ago."

"She's real pretty Ez.  Who is she?" he asked, not expecting to get an answer.

"She was my aunt and yes, she was very pretty."  He turned to look at Vin, a soft look on his face.  "Please tell Mr. Dunne to come visit me as soon as he is free, I would like to thank him for his lovely present."

Everyone secretly let out the breath they had been holding.  They all been worried how Ezra would react to the portrait being displayed, a portrait they were all sure they were never supposed to see.

"Now if you would excuse me gentlemen, I would like to rest before dinner."

"Course Ez.  See you later," Vin said, giving his friend a pat on the shoulder before he and the others left Ezra alone. 

Standish hobbled over to the bed and sat beside the nightstand.  Staring at the portrait, he picked it up and held it gently in his hand.  "Mr. Dunne is right, Aunt Kitty.  I should have given you such a place of honor long ago."  He smiled at his aunt, who seemed to smile at him from across the years.  "It is good to be home.  I will have to tell you all about my adventure with the British Aunt Kitty.  It was quite an enlightening experience.  I met the most honorable gentleman, risked his life for me he did.  You would have liked Captain Murphy.  I do hope the man makes it back to his family."  He smiled again at the portrait until an idea struck him.

He reached into his pocket, pulling out the only piece of Murphy's letter that he had not swallowed.  For some reason he had spared it, most likely because he wanted some type of connection to the man who had saved his life.  He smiled as he read the scrap of paper. 

I do hope that this war ends quickly and that we may each return to out homes safe and relatively unharmed.

All the luck in the world.

"All the luck to you Captain Murphy," Ezra said as he folded the paper and loosened the backing of the frame.  He then tucked the piece of parchment in between the portrait and the backing.  He pushed the backing back into place so that no one would be the wiser. 

It was the only gift Ezra could give Murphy, the protection of an angel.


By TwylaJane
TITLE:  Reactions

Disclaimer: don't own 'em sadly others do, draat drat and double drat.

The image on the television set in the corner flickered although the volume was low you could hear the tense voice come out of the speaker.

"Uh Ez... the camera's rolling..." J.D. point ing out the obvious trying to difuse the situation.

"Shag carpet... on the ceiling..." The quiet drawled out words sounded slightly shocked and confused but just as quickly snapped  from nearly speachless into growing anger. "WHO?!!!What throw back from the seventies actually thought that Orange Naugahyde was appropriate wall covering.."

"Come on Ez... we wanted to surprise ya... 'sides America's watching"

"Mr. Tanner I should have known... this is retribution .."

"Ezra I think... Ole Vin was a might pissed when ya turned the Vinabago into a rolled Elvis style love shack...." The dark haired mustached man chuckled as he leaned against the far wall watching as the 

"Aw Hell.."



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