RATING: PG... for some light swearing
STATUS: Complete
CATEGORY: OW - Challenge Story
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 in response to Jean Genie's March 2001 Magnifiction Challange.  "It's Ezra's birthday and for some reason he is on his own. The aim is to write a short reflective/introspective piece on his feelings and his looking back over the previous year. It can be OW or any AU you choose."
FEEDBACK: Yes please! comments are greatly appreciated.
DATE: Finished March 17, 2001

In the Silver Light
By NotTasha... filled with silver stuff

A lantern burned in the office, but the rays did not reach the cell.  Rather, the confined place was bathed in a silvery light.  It was filthy place, greasy and dusty and not meant for decent folk.  The full moon hung outside the window, tempting and serene, bleaching the color from the world, turning it all black and white.  Through that strange light, a man relentlessly moved back and forth.  He’d reach one end of the narrow cell and turn to cross it again, endless etching a pointless path.

Ezra Standish paced in the dusty, dirty, greasy, filthy, colorless, silvery cell. Wonderful, he thought, simply wonderful. He touched his swollen and blackened eye tenderly, then examined a tear at the elbow of his jacket. He sighed to see the fine cloth treated so poorly. Absolutely marvelous.

The atrociously thin mattress did not call for him as he continued his movements past the cot.  It was an obvious nest for vermin, and he dared not rest upon it, so instead he paced. Perfect. Yes, this is perfect.

He had been sent on this inane mission that morning. He'd had plans in Four Corners, but Larabee had told him to forget them. Something far more important needed to be attended to. So, instead of spending this day at his leisure, Ezra had spent it on the trail, blowing into town in the heat of the afternoon. He had taken care of the required business immediately upon his arrival. It could just as easily have been done with a well-worded telegram, but Larabee had insisted that Ezra talk to the banker in person about that business with the cattle ranch.

That superfluous deed behind him, Ezra had repaired to the saloon for a relaxing evening of gaming.  The morning might have been a total waste, but at least the evening might prove fruitful, might give him some enjoyment.  That was, at least until the idiot with the marked deck tried to put one past him.

Well, no one cheats Ezra P. Standish. The row that followed was considerable. When the dust settled and the deputy arrived with guns drawn, one man was believed and the other was thrown summarily in the hoosegow.

Fine, wonderful, marvelous, perfect.  Ezra paced back and forth in the low light, drawing a groan from the deputy who told him for the umpteenth time to sit down because he was getting dizzy and the reminded him to keep his mouth shut...or face the consequences.

Ezra grimaced, thinking that the deputy must already be dizzy if he believed the story that the cheater had told. And he needed no further reminder to remain silent. He touched his eye dolefully, reminded that the deputy had struck him where the cheater had already laid a claim. He turned his back to the lawman, from whom he’d find no justice, and gazed out the window of his cell. The moon hung high in the sky like a marvelous ornament. His eyes fastened on white Luna for a moment.

Why did it always have to turn out like this? He had such a perfect day planned. It was supposed to be special this time. He had planned rise late and lunch perhaps with the others, to spend part of the day reading quietly, part riding for the pure joy of it, a hot bath, a good meal, an excellent cognac, a night of gaming with friends, laughing, talking, winning.  What happened? How did it all get thrown to hell? Well, what did he expect? He should have realized exactly what would happen -- for it always ended this way…on this particular day of the year.

Today marked the anniversary of his birth, another year on the planet, his birthday. Typical.

It wasn't an important day. Not red-lettered on any calendar. He had long lived with the knowledge that it wasn't a holiday to be celebrated. But even so, he always tried to make the date enjoyable for himself, to plan a little 'something special'. But it always went awry, like now.

Funny, because he had thought it would be different this time. This recent career with the peacekeepers of Four Corners had awakened some dim hope in him. The close associations, the (dare he think) friendships had come to mean something to the cardsharp. Perhaps not all of his dreams would be quashed. Perhaps the wind would be at his back and the sun would shine favorably. Perhaps, for once, he'd have a pleasurable birthday. Things can go well, can't they? Well, not today.

One day in the year is pretty much like all the rest, isn't it? Why should this one be special? He continued pacing about in the small confines, releasing the nervous energy that the short-lived fight had engendered. The deputy had promised him that he'd be freed by tomorrow afternoon -- if he behaved.

Ezra snorted at that thought.  Well, we’ll see about that. He could stay on his feet all night with a little effort.  Lord, he wasn't going near that cot -- that was certain. He’d simply have to send word in the morning to Larabee, explaining the delay.

He sighed at the thought. Lord, the others didn’t have to know about his short incarceration, did they? Perhaps he could just smooth it past them. Well, doubtlessly they’d realize something had happened when they noticed the rather impressive black eye. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad by then. Ezra tried to open the offended eye further and realized that it was slowly swelling shut.  Well, there was little chance of this going unnoticed – it was only going to get worse, considering the dual assault.  The others would pounce on him the moment he entered Four Corners.

Hell, they'll think the worst, he thought. They'll probably decide the whole story before my mouth is even open.  I’ll be tried and found guilty before I cross the threshold. They’ll believe me to be the perpetrator of the fight, and won’t even be able to comprehend the fact that I tried to avoid it as best I could. I won’t even try to explain myself because there’ll be no point to it.  It will be a waste of breath because they wouldn't believe the truth if a signed affidavit was brought for proof. Couldn't get one of those in any case.

Ezra shook his head at the absurdity of his thoughts. Why should he worry about what those six men thought? Those men should mean nothing to him. Why should he wonder what a gang of unwashed, scraggly-haired gunslingers thought of him?

He leaned against the bars of the cell, careful of the inches of dust that seemed to have accumulated on the braces. The opinion of those men didn't matter in the least, he thought without believing it. They are not in my league… no one shares my league.

Hell, I’ve done nothing to deserve any good consideration. I’ll get exactly what I deserve.

He pulled the cards from his pocket and shuffled them absently.  He wondered what the others were doing. Probably sitting about their usual table in the saloon, playing a game of poker, crowing over their good luck. They would be enjoying a few beers, joking and laughing, having a good time.

He chuckled at the image and turned to the cell's window again, gazing out at the silvery moon, which seemed to be caught in the bars of the window.  He'd always loved the moon. He felt almost akin to the lonely satellite. It waxed and waned, rose and fell, but it always returned. It filled him with a certain satisfaction to see the moon so full and rich, so perfectly round. If the moon could become so grand, couldn’t other things as well?

He returned his attention to the cards that flew through his hands as if they had a life of their own. The red pips were bleached to gray in the pale light, to contrast with the black. His jacket was as silver as the moon.

Hell, he knew he was fooling himself. The opinions of the others mattered a great deal to him, a great deal more than he thought possible. Perhaps if he explained the events to them, they would believe it.  Maybe they’d listen. It was possible that they wouldn't fault him, wouldn’t mock him for his injury, wouldn’t scorn him absolutely.  They might actually believe him. Couldn't they?

The cards paused in his hands and he stared at them in the light of the moon. Maybe...just maybe... they would believe him.  He smiled, thinking that would be a wonderful birthday present.

THE END - by NotTasha finished 3/17/01
Read the Sequel?  A Golden Glow
Hope you enjoyed the story...comments

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