The Deed at Hand
January 13, 2012
Character Focus: Vin, Ezra
Language warning: a four letter word or two
Summary - 1 hour fic – January 2012 celebration VinF&D group – theme word ‘safe’
Length: 990 words
Ezra paced outside the saloon until he saw Vin enter town on Peso. He waited until Vin dismounted to approach. Catching the bounty hunter’s arm he leaned in close. “Well?” he asked urgently.
Vin rolled his eyes. “It’s safe, Ezra, nobody’ll find it.”
Ezra straightened and nodded. “Good, good.” He tugged at the cuffs of his jacket to straighten the sleeves.
Vin lead Peso toward the stables and the gambler watched him go, satisfied. Then he frowned and jogged after them. When Ezra came even with Vin he matched his pace. Vin glanced at him, but continued on. It had been a long morning.
They reached the stables before Ezra asked, “Are you certain no one saw…”
“Ezra,” Vin interrupted. “No one saw. Just me’n Peso and he ain’t tellin’ no one. Give it a rest.”
“All right, all right, it’s just…”
“If you thought I wouldn’t do it right, why didn’t you just put ‘em in the bank?” Vin asked exasperated. Ezra had fussed for days then asked for Vin’s help and now he was second guessing Vin’s choice?
“No, no, I’m sorry, Vin. I trust you put them someplace safe. Where no one can find them,” Ezra said running a hand uncharacteristically through his hair, leaving it a bit mussed. “It’s just, well, you know how persistent Mother can be.”
Vin snorted, lead Peso into his stall and began removing his saddle.
“Yes,” Ezra said slowly. “I’m certain they are safe where ever you put them. Much safer than the bank or any location I might have come up with. Mother knows me too well. And I have no doubt she would have been able to finagle her way into the safe at the bank or managed to find all of my… hidey holes,” he finished with a weak grin, repeating Vin’s phrasing from the day before.
“Well,” Vin said, giving Peso a final swipe with the curry brush, “you don’t have to worry about Maude getting anything out of me. Your stuff is as safe as a babe in its mother’s arms… um,” he bit his lip realizing that wasn’t the best comparison when Maude was involved.
Ezra chuckled and patted Vin on the back. “Thank you for your help, Mr. Tanner. I appreciate it more than you can know.”
Vin nodded, but his brow furrowed as he debated briefly with himself. Giving a mental shrug he plowed on ahead. “You never did say what was in that package, Ez.”
Ezra met his gaze with raised eyebrows. He paused for a moment, then looked around to see if anyone was in ear shot. The stable was quiet except for the sounds of the horses, a hoof stamped, the grind of teeth on hay, and the occasional whicker. Ezra nodded to himself then looked back at Vin.
“I suppose I owe you that much explanation,” he said softly. “I have acquired the deed to the saloon again, and this time I intend to keep it.”
Vin’s eyebrows rose. “Why didn’t you say something? That’s great.”
Ezra shook his head. “If Mother had an inkling that I was the owner of that property, she’d have been back in town before the ink dried on my signature. As it stands, only you and Inez know. For now,” Ezra took a breath and sighed, “it’s the better part of valor. Once I know the business can stand against such fierce competition as Mother would provide, then, and only then will I reveal the truth.”
Vin nodded thoughtfully. “But if no one else knows, why are you hiding the deed?”
“Mother will be in town on the evening stage,” Ezra said.
“Yeah, I know that, but if you own the saloon, and no one knows, what good does it do to hide the deed?”
Ezra frowned. “It seemed the most prudent action. You never know what to expect with Mother.”
Vin’s eyebrows rose and he nodded. “Yep, that’s for sure. Well, pard, don’t worry. Your secret and your deed are safe with me,” he reassured.
“I know,” Ezra said with a smile. “Come, let’s go enjoy a drink before Mother whirls into town. I’m buying.”
Vin grinned. “Sounds good to me.” He started to follow Ezra, then stopped. “You go on ahead, I’m just going to grab my saddle bags and stash ‘em in my wagon.”
Ezra nodded and headed for the saloon, his step light and carefree.
Vin lifted his saddlebags from the floor where he’d dumped them while grooming Peso. He opened one of the pouches and pulled out a small packet of papers. He looked toward the door and sighed. “Damn, Ez, why didn’t you just tell me to start with?” Vin let his eyes travel around the barn, but just shook his head and stuffed the packet into his coat pocket. He’d have to find a place to hide them later. For now it would be enough that Ezra didn’t have possession of the papers. Maude would never suspect Vin of having such important documents and Ezra, thinking they were well hidden, wouldn’t give anything away with nervous tells.
Ezra was right, Maude could read her son like a book.
Vin stepped out of the stable and looked around, his gaze finally landing on the bank. He grinned. What safer place than the safe at the bank? Under Vin Tanner’s name. Maude would have no reason to look for anything of Ezra’s there. Vin’s grin broadened and he crossed the street to join Ezra.
Yep, it will be fun to watch Maude trying to figure out why Ezra is so relaxed around her. And I bet I can wheedle a few more free drinks out of Ezra while she’s here, him being so grateful and all.
He pushed open the swinging doors to the saloon, found Ezra at their regular table and sauntered over. A bottle was already waiting. Vin smiled as he sat down. Life was good.
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