Pool, Camping and Murder
(or, none of the above)
By: Stephanie Watson (SLWatson)
Beta'd by: Karen (Serris) and Nick (CaptainBuzzLightyear)

Disclaimer: All characters herein belong to Disney/Pixar. I'm not making any money, and don't intend to.

Notes: It's fairly light, unassuming and maybe even amusing. Mostly it's just a brief story.

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One large box, that looked more like a toolbox than anything else. One thin, long case, like the kind that professional pool players stick their cues in. A bucket. A chisel with a T-head on it. A pair of heavy boots. A ladle. Something that looked like a giant drill bit with a wide handle at the top, about three and a half to four feet tall. A parka. A strange contraption with a flag on it. A heavy-strapped duffle bag.

The items alone were enough to pique anyone's curiosity. The fact that it was Buzz who had dragged them all in was just icing on the cake.

No one commented right away after all of these things, that certainly didn't look law enforcement related, were piled in the breakroom. They were too busy trying to figure out what they were for to speak up. But, when it finally became apparent that it was a mystery, it was Booster who asked, a little tentatively, "Buzz? What's that?"

Buzz didn't reply right away; he was busy arranging everything. And when he did, it was with the aire of distraction. "Um, equipment."

"What kind of equipment?" Mira chimed in, picking up the pool cue case and going to open it.

Buzz took it off of her before she had the chance, gave her a briefly irritated look, and set it with the big toolbox. "Just equipment. Regular, old, mostly manual equipment."

"Something job related?" XR asked, looking at the pile suspiciously.

"Nope." Without waiting for further questioning, the captain picked up the assignment folder for the day. "Okay, traffic patrol on Interplanetary 680. Let's go."

"So, you play pool?" Mira asked, glancing at her scanner to make sure no one was breaking any traffic laws, before turning her attention back to Buzz.

"Nope," Buzz replied, frowning at his own panel. Considering that it was dead out, and there wasn't much to do, he was getting a little stir-crazy.

Mira frowned herself. "So, why the pool cue?"

"What pool cue?"

"The one in the pool cue case."

"Who said it was a pool cue case?" he asked, looking over at her with one eyebrow up.

She looked baffled for a moment. "If it's not a pool cue case, then what is it?"

Buzz sighed to himself and went back to running radar.

"Planning on doing some home improvement?" XR asked no less than an hour and one speeding ticket later. "I'll have you know I'm handy with a hammer, and I can give you a good rate on--"

"Nope," Buzz answered, a slight edge on his voice.

"Why the toolbox?"

"What toolbox?"

"That toolbox you have sitting with the pool cue case."

"It's not a toolbox. And that's not a pool cue case."

XR wheeled up to the center of the bridge, eyeing the captain. "What is it, then?"

Buzz shook his head, rolled his eyes, and hit the engines, thereby sending the little 'bot back (rather forcefully) to his own station.

Not satisfied to leave it at that, Mira tried again an hour and a reckless op ticket later. "Camping?"

Buzz looked over, eyebrows drawing together in confusion. "What?"

"Camping. Is that what all that junk's for?"

He took a long, deep, world-weary breath and sighed, "No, it's not camping gear, and it's not junk either."

She nodded, almost to herself, and went back to the panel. Then thirty seconds later, she looked back up again. "So what is it for?"

Buzz counted to ten under his breath, prayed for something distracting to happen, and ignored her.

"I've got it. I bet you're doing yard work." XR seemed fairly sure of himself, an hour and a rescued cat later.

"It's the middle of winter!" Buzz said, sharply, turning and skewering the robot with a look. "I'm not playing pool. I'm not working on my house. I'm not going camping. And I'm sure as heck not working in the yard!"

"Oooh, touchy." XR shook his head, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he was poking at an already teed-off bear who was stir-crazy and not too happy about being interrogated. "There's nothing crazy about yard work in the winter."

Buzz counted to a hundred this time, turning back around and glaring out the viewport.

"Building a new weapon guaranteed to defeat Zurg?" Mira asked, two seatbelt tickets and one speeding ticket later.

She was probably a little offended when all she received as an answer was a growl.

It was the end of the shift when Booster finally jumped into that particular conversation. Knotting his hands in worry, he looked like a kid who was standing in front of the principal's office, waiting for a chewing session guaranteed to make ears bleed. But that didn't stop him from bursting out with, "Buzz, don't do it!"

Considering that he was sitting in the pilot's chair, the ship was on autopilot and there was nothing in the galaxy going on, Buzz was a little taken aback by this. He blinked a few times, before turning around and asking, "Er... do what?"

"Kill someone!" Booster fidgeted, anxiously.

What the...? It took Buzz a few moments to comprehend that, during which time Mira spoke up, "Booster, what gave you that idea?"

Booster launched into it without a hesitation, "He has the toolbox so he can break any locks in the way, and some kind of super secret weapon in the pool cue case, and the bucket is for him to stand on to look through windows 'cause he's not that tall, and the chisel is in case the super secret weapon in the pool cue case doesn't work, and the boots are heavy so he doesn't get blood on his socks, and the ladle's something really terrible that I don't wanna say, and the big drill's to start a hole so he can bury whoever it is, and the parka's to wrap the body in, and the duffle bag is so he can put all his clothes in there and throw them in a dumpster, and the thingy with the flag's to mark the grave!!" He started sniffling, eyes tearing up.

Buzz just sat there, mouth hanging open, trying to absorb a few different things, not the least of which was how morbid Booster's imagination was. But eventually, still just a little shocked, he ventured to say, "No..."

"S-so what it it f-f-for?" Booster asked, about to start bawling.

Rrgh. All right. Buzz sighed, looking quite put upon, and finally said, "Ice fishing. I'm going ice fishing. The toolbox is my tackle box, the case is where I keep my fishing rod, the bucket's for the fish, the chisel's to chip ice, the boots... well, that's obvious. The ladle's to scoop the ice out of the hole, and that drill thing's actually an auger so I don't have to sit down and chisel for hours to get to water. The thingy with the flag's called a 'tip-up', in case I want to leave the hole and walk, and all of my fishing clothes are in the duffle bag." He narrowed his eyes, though more at XR and Mira, finishing with, "And don't even bother asking about the parka."

Silence fell for a solid minute and a half while they absorbed this, but that was it.

"Ice fishing?!" XR sounded disgusted. "That's crazy!"

"Uh, I hate to agree with him, but..." Mira had one eyebrow up in pure skepticism. "...that is kinda crazy, Buzz."

"What's so crazy about it?" Buzz asked, genuinely confused as to why ice fishing would be considered crazy, but winter yard work wouldn't be.

"Well," she explained, gently, like she was talking to a child, "you go out and drill holes in the ice, then you just sit there alone in the cold and freeze while these sluggish fish look at your fake lure and don't bite. That's why."

Buzz didn't reply, mulling this over for a few moments while he keyed the course for Star Command into the navigation computer. But eventually, he came to a silent conclusion and said, "When you put it like that..."

"It does sound crazy, doesn't it?" she asked.

He looked over and gave her a smirk. "Nope."

He held the heated coffee thermos in both gloved hands, keeping an eye on the tip-up. It was cold out, and in the heavy colors of dusk the ice cracked and groaned, but Buzz was fairly sure that eight solid inches would be more than enough to hold him up.

He sat on the bucket with his gear all within reach. No bites yet, but then, he wasn't out there to really catch a fish. Last year, he'd thrown them all back, all two of them, and he knew he wasn't even close to a career ice fisherman, but he still ended up out there twice a month or so in the winter.

The ice settled briefly into silence.

Maybe it was a little crazy. Maybe sitting out in the cold, bundled up in five layers of clothes and a parka did seem odd. Especially considering that he didn't keep anything he caught; just took the hook out and slid the fish back into the water.

He grinned to himself, sipping on the coffee.

Yeah. Maybe it was crazy to sit out there, breathing crisp air underneath a billion stars, alone, with nothing but the sounds of lake ice to keep him company and his own meandering thoughts.

But he'd take that over pool any day.