RATING: PG... for some light swearing
STATUS: Complete
MAJOR CHARACTERS: Ezra, Chris, Buck and Nathan
DISCLAIMERS: This is fanfiction. No profit involved. This story is based on the television series "The Magnificent Seven". No infringement upon the copyrights held by CBS, MGM, Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp. or any others involved with that production is intended.
NOTE: This is a sequel to In the Silver Light. Read it First! What happened when Ezra returned to town?
FEEDBACK: Yes please!
comments are greatly appreciated. Drop a line and let me if you liked it.
SPOILERS: only my own story, In the Silver Light. READ IT FIRST!
DATE: September 22, 2001, housekeeping done on May 16, 2004

A Golden Glow
By NotTasha... who wrote this because there were so many demands…

Chris Larabee pushed open the batwing doors of the saloon and looked out into the late day. The sun was low on the horizon, its long rays coating everything in a golden glow. Narrow shadows filled the empty street, creating sharp distinctions between dark and light. It was a quiet end to a quiet day where nothing really had happened.

Nothing at all.

Still, something plagued him, not allowing him to relax with the people of his town. Something was amiss and he couldn’t be calm until all was right again. He gazed down the street, which had doubled its length in a trick of light. The western sky was turning colors as the sun fell lower.

It was a beautiful time of day, when everything seemed edged in gold and the harsh desert sun became gentle in its dotage.

A soft sound alerted him that someone was moving down the street from the opposite direction. He turned in time to see Standish disappear into the livery with his horse. The glance hadn't been long, but Larabee received an impression of weariness from the stance of the gambler, and the slow plodding of the horse.

Finally, Chris thought as he leaned against a roof support and pulled a cheroot from his pocket. He wouldn’t move from this spot until the southerner emerged. He chuckled, realizing that it might be a long wait. Standish always took an inordinate amount of time to put his horse away for the night.

It was late -- too damned late. Ezra should have been back for lunch, not sneaking in as the sun came down. Standish had promised yesterday in his telegram that he'd return today, and never sent word to explain the delay. Larabee had darkly considered that tomorrow they all might be heading out looking for the wily cardsharp. That was a task he never relished and the anticipation of it had put him in a foul mood for most of the afternoon.

Chris heard the door open behind him, and then felt the weight of a hand on his shoulder. "Hey, Chris," Buck said. "What ya doin' out here?"

"Ezra just got back," Chris explained.

"'Bout time! Hell, he must have slept in 'til long past noon if he's just gettin' back now."

Chris nodded. "Least he made it in. We'll find out what went on when he decides to come out."

Buck laughed. “Best get comfortable.”

Buck waited beside Chris as the minutes ticked past and the sun touched the horizon, balancing there like a coin on a table, growing thicker as it stood on the verge of the world. The two said nothing. They were comfortable with each other’s presence and their quiet wait was quickly passed.

Finally Standish exited the livery and headed toward them.  He moved in and out of the long shadows, between the dark and the light. He stopped in the middle of the street when he noticed them on the  boardwalk, pausing for a long moment before he seemed to come to a decision and continued in their direction.

"Ezra," Chris greeted as the gambler drew near.

"Mr. Larabee," Ezra drawled.  He kept his head tilted as he spoke, leaving his head in shadow.

"How'd it go?"

"You received my message I hope?"

"Yeah. Got it right on time.  You got us the information we needed."

"Very well then.  You know all there is to know."

"Any trouble?"

"With retrieving the information?  None whatsoever.  Now if you'll excuse me, I would like to go to my room."  He held up one hand and tried to push past the two men.

Buck stepped back and his new viewpoint allowed him a good glance at Standish. "What the hell happened to you?" he exclaimed.

Ezra tried to tilt his head even further, but Chris grabbed hold of his shoulder and spun him into the light that still found a path through the street.  "Damn it, Ezra.  What went on?"  Half of Ezra's face was a vivid bruise, fully closing his left eye.

"I ran into some difficulty," Ezra responded quietly.

"That's for sure!"  Buck added.  He whistled low, grabbing hold of Ezra's chin so that he could turn the gambler’s head to get a better view of the damage.

Ezra flinched and tried to step away, but neither of the men would release him, and he had become backed up against a roof support with no way to easily flee. "If you'll excuse me," he growled.

"Not 'til you explain what happened," Chris returned.

Nathan appeared at the doors to the saloon.   He came to a halt when he realized that some sort of a confrontation was going on. He didn't want to get in the way.

"Nate, get over here and have a look at this," Buck said with a gesture.

Nathan stepped forward, curious now and sighed when he saw why the two men had pinned Standish.  "Ezra," he muttered.  "What did you do?”

Ezra returned, “Fought.  Lost.”

“Looks that way,” Nathan responded.  “Let’s go to the clinic. I can get a poultice together that will help with that swelling.”  He rattled off, “Maybe slippery elm bark and milk, or carbonate of soda or tincture of opium in water.  One of those should do the trick.”

“A nice raw steak does a good job,” Buck supplied.

“Please,” Ezra moaned, “I will not be experimented upon.”

Nathan frowned as he drew closer.   Buck helped by forcibly turning Ezra’s head so that Jackson could get a good look.  "Can you see okay?”  The healer asked, concern in his voice, noting the extent of the injury.  “You get any double-vision? Blurry? Your eye hurt a lot? Headache or anything?"

Ezra responded, "Up until the time that I couldn't open my eye any longer, my vision was fine."

"What about the pain?  Headache?"  Nathan asked, tapping the side of his head for emphasis.

"Nothing extraordinary."  The set of Ezra’s jaw undermined the comment somewhat. Nathan could tell that the gambler wasn’t free of pain.

“You got any other pokes in you?”

“No,” Ezra responded, glaring at Buck, who still held him in place. “If you’re finished with your inquiries, perhaps I’d be allowed to reach my room?”

"Come on then," Buck said, releasing Ezra's chin and grabbing hold of his arm.  "Let's go to Nate's and get you fixed up."

"There's no need," Ezra replied wearily.

"Hang on, Buck," Chris responded, keeping a stilling hand on Ezra's chest. "He ain't goin' anywhere until he explains what happened."

"There's no reason to worry, Mr. Larabee."  Ezra gestured to his swollen face. "This has nothing to do with my mission in the town.  This will not lead back to you or to our fair village.  I doubt if anyone would have believed me if I had told them of my status in Four Corners."

"Wasn't what I was getting at, Ezra."  Larabee’s expression softened as he realized that his tactics weren't working.  "I just want to know what happened."

Ezra's one eye darted away and he sighed in resignation.  "After I had completed the task you had assigned to me, I went to the saloon and try their tables.  Unfortunately a gentleman who joined the game saw fit to play with a marked deck." He smiled ironically.  "I didn't want any trouble, so instead of voicing any accusations, I offered a deck of my own.  The man took umbrage and …accused me of cheating."  He paused a moment.  "I explained that I only meant to keep the game honest."

"Uh-huh," Nathan said.

Ezra sighed again.  "The others at the table doubted my ability to play with any integrity and sided with the man with the marked deck.  They sought to have me ousted.  I declared that I was offended by their accusations because I wasn't the one at fault. It was at this time that the difficulty arose. When the deputy arrived to break up the fight, I was accused of defrauding the local townsmen and disrupting the peace. I was summarily taken to spend the night in the town's jail."

Buck grimaced.  "Last time I seen that jail, it looked like it ain't ever been cleaned.  Is it still that bad?"

"Worse perhaps," Ezra conceded.  He looked from one man to the other, waiting for their questions and condemnations.

"You get him?"  Nathan asked.


"The guy with the marked deck…you get any licks in on him?"

Ezra waited a moment, studying Nathan with his one good eye. What was he getting at?  "I believe he may be having trouble eating for the next few days, what with the broken teeth."

"Good!" Buck exclaimed.

"Serves him right," Nathan added.

"Glad to hear it," Chris said with a grin, which only confused the gambler.  "The deputy kept you locked up all night?"  Chris asked.

Ezra nodded.

"You explain to him what went on?"

"I did.  His preconceived ideas made him somewhat deaf to my entreaties.  He let me know that he wished to hear no more."

Chris furrowed his brow at this comment, noting the slight flinch the gambler failed to hide.

"If what yer sayin' is, 'he's a son of a bitch,' then I agree," Buck stated, steering the con man toward the stairs.  "Next time we get to that town, maybe Chris and I'll take 'im down a peg or two."

"Weren't right," Nathan mumbled, starting up the stairs ahead of the others.

Ezra paused at the bottom of the stairs, his bafflement evident as he looked back to Chris.

"Wouldn’t have happened like that if I was there," Chris assured him. "I wouldn't have allowed it."

The southerner's lips twitched and his right eye switched between Wilmington and Larabee and then he turned to take in Jackson as well.

Nathan shrugged.  "We would'a backed you up," the healer stated.  "Let you have your say at least."

"Sure, Ezra," Buck said smoothly, seeing the look on the cardsharp's face. "We’d have done somethin’ about it. Hell, we might have ended up in the jail ‘long side you, but at least we would’a had some fun gettin’ there.”  He slapped Standish on the shoulder. “Come on, hoss. Let's get ya doctored up so yer eye don't hurt so much.  Maybe we’ll spare the steak and have Inez cook it up for us, huh? Bet you’re hungry."

Chris followed behind as Buck tugged Ezra up the stairs.  When the reached the top, Ezra turned to face him again, smiling broadly. Chris returned the expression.  "So, what have you got to be so pleased about?"  Larabee asked.

"A wish granted," Ezra returned.  He gestured for Nathan to continue and they headed into the clinic as the sun finally sunk from sight, leaving behind only a golden glow.

THE END - by NotTasha finished 9/22/01

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