Just A Touch Of (Traumatic) Romance And A Dash Of (Crazed) Adventure
(Old West)

by Twig

Disclaimer: "The Magnificent Seven" and its characters do not belong to me, they belong to Trilogy Entertainment, Mirisch Group, CBS and other people. No copyright infringement is intended, suing would be futile since I have no money. However, the story does belong to me.
Author's Note: Without going back to my tapes, I have no idea what Four Corner's general store looks like from the in to out. I apologize for all mistakes. If I do make some huge, ghastly mistake, please do tell me and I will correct it.
Warning: Reckless silliness and nonsense ahead...

Part 1

It was a quiet day at Four Corners... wait, scratch that. It was a slow--, not that wasn't right either. It was a boring day at Four Corners. JD sat tiredly outside the jail, trying his best to look sheriff-like. Instead, he ended up yawning the morning away.

"What's the matter, JD? Didn't get much sleep last night?" Buck's constantly amused voice floated to the slightly comatose JD.

"Nah, just bored. I wish something would happen," JD replied, yawning again.

"C'mon, JD, you know that ol' saying: be careful what you wish for, it might come true," Buck warned good naturedly.

"Yeah, well, I'll be glad if a tumbleweed tumbles through by the end of the day." As if on cue, a tumbleweed did tumble through. JD glanced at Buck and they burst into laughter.

Ezra silently observed the conversation a couple of feet off from JD and Buck's location. He leaned against a wooden post, also trying hard not to feel bored. None of the drunks who were willing to abandon their money were up this early and no one else felt much like playing poker with the cardsharp.

Ezra stepped upon the dirt road and made his way to the general store. Not that he required any essentials from there, but he just felt like looking around. Maybe the store just might have something new. He walked into the store, green eyes going over every material within it. They quickly told him that there wasn't anything new.

"Looking for anything specific?" A young sounding voice attracted Ezra's attention. He turned to the cash counter and found a young man standing there. Ezra furrowed his eyebrows, trying to remember if he had seen this young man here before.

The young man saw the question and supplied helpfully, "I'm new here. I got this job only three days ago. My name's Joel Torias." Joel stuck out an eager hand. Ezra took it and gave it a firm shake.

"Ezra Standish." Ezra took a closer examination of Joel. Short, messy, dark hair with bangs hanging down to disrupt the vision of a pair of cheerful, pale blues. He looked not one day older than seventeen.

As soon as Joel heard the name, he became excited. "Standish?! You're one of the seven lawmen of this town! Oh, this is such a major honour to meet you, sir!"

Ezra smiled at the young man. Joel's enthusiasm could almost rival JD's. "I see my reputation precedes me. But please, don't call me sir, makes me feel older than my years."

"Yes, si--, I mean Mr. Standish. Do you need any help?"

"No, I'm just lookin' around. Our little residence has been fairly quiet. I just hope to find some distractions here." Ezra smiled again, and went back to browsing the store. Little trinkets, bracelets, necklaces. Ezra didn't have any ladies to impress, so he passed by them. He stopped near the back of the store. Stacked up against the back wall were back issues of the Clarion that didn't manage to be distributed.

Ezra crouched down and browsed through several of them. The top ones were pretty recent. He cut the stack, moving it aside. He started going through the older ones, back before he ever stepped foot in Four Corners. There were some fairly interesting news and some of the articles revealed an extremely well hidden sense of humour within Mary Travis. Ezra smiled as he read through a more amusing article.

A sudden sneeze disrupted Ezra's reading. The dust was starting to get to him. He stood up again after restacking the pile of issues. Ezra straightened his jacket and he noticed another thing which caught his interest. A dime novel. He never dared touch one of these. They were usually ridiculous, and Ezra would be laughed red if he was ever caught with one in his hand. But boredom made this cautious hustler bold and he picked one up.

Ezra briefly read the front which exaggerated details of the contents within. However, Ezra was intrigued enough to pull back the cover and read on. He remembered how Buck teased JD over reading the "wild west adventure" tales in these dime novels.

The dime novel set aside for a moment, Ezra considered the chances of his discovery. Buck and JD were doing to the boring duty of guarding the empty jail, Nathan and Josiah were working at rebuilding the church, Chris and Vin... hmm. Ezra wondered where they were. He thought that they must be out scouting again. Ezra's gaze fell back upon the dime novel. What the hell!


Ezra sat a fair bit of distance from the entrance of the saloon without being completely off its property. He casually set down a small bottle of whiskey at the leg of one chair and propped his legs up upon a small wooden box. Ezra opened the dime novel, and began to read...

It was a fair summer morning and the birds sang their brightest and most cheerful songs. Lilia picked a blue violet from her little potted plant and placed it in her dark hair. Her brilliant blue eyes reviewed the city with one turn of the head. Lilia retreated from her open window only to be drawn to it again by the sound of beating hooves outside. She glanced out and saw three men ventured into her little town.

The apparent leader was riding a bold stallion, black from head to tail except for a grand white star upon its forehead. One of the other two rode a reddish-brown quarter horse while the other rode a grey walking horse. The leader and the one riding the quarter horse dismounted and walked casually into the saloon. However, the one riding the walking horse seemed puzzled as to his destination. He looked up and his calm green eyes met Lilia's.

Lilia could not explain the strange shock she received from gazing into those green eyes. It was a pleasant shock and it placed a shy smile on her lips. The strange returned the smile. Lilia quickly found her common sense and turned away, her face burning red. When she looked back, the stranger was gone, leaving behind his grey horse tied to the post...

"What're you doing?" A deep, husky voice questioned.

"Nothin', nothing at all," the other man shook his head and seemed a bit embarrassed, but at the same time he looked a little awe-struck. "It's just, ah, nothing...."

"Well, it's all right, Ezra. Here," Vin tossed Ezra a bottle of whiskey which he caught expertly.

"Thank you. Hey, Buck, aren't you going to have some?"

"Nah, too early. My stomach doesn't agree with it much," Buck answered, his eyes wandering the saloon. His eyes caught onto a voluptuous female. "How 'bout we have a little free time, Vin? Go do a little... explorin'."

Vin followed Buck's line of sight and laughed. "Sure, Buck, whatever."

"Great!" Buck walked off towards the object of his lust. Ezra laughed as Buck tried to pick the girl up, and laughed even harder when she turned him down.

"Two dollars on Buck," Vin started to say.

Ezra interrupted, "On his success or failure?"

Vin glanced at Ezra, slightly annoyed. "Let me finish first, Ez. Success. You on?"

Ezra looked at Buck's renewed efforts. "You're on." Vin leaned back against the bar while Ezra sat back in his chair, both enjoyed the show.

A few moments later, Vin started chuckling softly. "Pay up, Ez."

"All right, all right. I guess I underestimated our amorous friend," Ezra reached into his pocket and pulled out two one-dollar bills. He placed it in the eager hand of Vin.

Without a single warning, a loud "yee-haw" echoed into the saloon accompanied by loud shots. Ezra and Vin stepped out of the saloon and saw an unruly stranger riding into sight, hollering and shooting his gun off into the air. Vin turned his head to Ezra and they exchanged a silent communication.

Ezra waited until the stranger ran out of bullets before approaching. He cleared his throat loudly to get the man's attention. "May I please ask your purpose in setting off your firearm aimlessly into thin air?"

The man stared incredulously at Ezra, as if unbelieving the words that came out of his mouth. "What'd you say?"

Ezra sighed. "I'm asking why the hell are you firing at the sky?" Before the man could answer, Vin had already sneaked up behind the man and pulled the stranger off the horse.

"What the hell was that fer?" The stranger yelled out after disentangling himself from Vin. Vin looked at the stranger, and a puzzled look of wonder crossed Vin's face. He looked as if he didn't understand his own behaviour either.

Instead of answering, Vin asked, "Why were you shootin' and hollerin'?"

"Well, I damn well do whatever I feel like, sonny. I felt like shootin' and hollerin', so I did it. You got a problem with that?"

Vin looked vaguely annoyed at being called "sonny". "You could've hurt somebody."


"So?!" Ezra asked, amazed. "You could have zinged a passerby with those bullets."

Before the stranger could defend himself, Vin said, "You're comin' with me to the jail. You deserve a day or two for that stunt you pulled."

"Hey! You can't do that!" The stranger protested and struggled with the authoritative arm locked to his own.

"Well, I damn well do whatever I feel like," Vin replied, mocking the stranger's words down to the last accent. "Hey, Ez, you can take him there. Say hi to JD for me."

"Sure," Ezra grabbed onto the stranger and led him away.


"Yo, JD," Ezra called out. Yo? Did ah just say yo? Ezra shook his head, not even bothering to question where that came from.

JD didn't notice the strange greeting. "Hey, Ez! New arrival?" Ezra nodded and handed the stranger to JD. Ezra then explained to JD's the situation surrounding the stranger. "What's your name?" JD asked after Ezra finished speaking.

"David Torias," Torias answered, trying to look as dignified as possible. Ezra thought that he might have heard that name before somewhere. He just couldn't remember.

"Well, have a nice two days, Mr. Torias. Make yourself at home," JD locked the cell behind him and walked outside to where Ezra was. "Anything else?"

"No, but Vin says hi."

"Oh, all right. Say hi back."

Ezra shook his head slightly, trying to figure out the strange behaviours he had observed for the past hour. From the strange tendency to shorten his name to "Ez" to the unruly disturbance made by this David Torias. Ezra didn't really mind the shortening. In a way, it gave him a feeling of familiarity, which, in itself, was an unfamiliar thing to Ezra. However, if anyone continued to shorten his name like that, he was going to be annoyed.


Part 2

As Ezra walked away from the jail to convey the simple message of "hi" to Vin from JD, a blurred vision of a person slammed into him. The blurred vision took a step back and mumbled an apology. Ezra looked down just as the blurred vision looked up. Impossibly blue blues met with soft, curious greens.

"Hi," Ezra mumbled, almost in shock. In shock from what, who knew?

"Hi," the blurred vision stood still, no longer blurred. The vision was a woman, a beautiful woman who beamed at Ezra.

"Where're you going, Miss...?" Ezra wondered.

"Lily Torias, and I'm going to the jail," Lily replied, flashing another brilliant smile at the cardsharp. Ezra pondered at the strange familiarity of the last name.

"A jail is no place for a charming young woman like yourself," Ezra smiled back.

"No point being chivalrous, uh, Mr--"

"Standish, Ezra Standish."

"--Mr. Standish. I'm perfectly able of handling myself."

Ezra admired the pure courage and strength that emanated from those impossible blues. "Well, I suppose you should go right ahead then, ma'am."

"Thank you." Ezra extended a hand, purely intending for Lily to take for walking up the few stairs. Lily glanced at it and laughed softly. "Don't worry, Mr. Standish, I do believe I can walk... despite these ridiculous heels that you men prefer me in." Lily walked on, leaving behind Ezra, who had the most amazing expression on his face which consisted of pleasant surprise, delight and amusement. "And please, call me Lily," she said as the door to the jail slammed shut.

"Nice to meet you, Lily."


"Father!" Lily walked gracefully to the jail holding David Torias. "How have they been treating you?"

"All right, I guess. What are you doing here, Lily?"

"To take vengeance upon those who have humiliated you in such a fashion. Tell me, Father, who are they? Let me dispose of them!" Lily spoke grandly and with passion.

David shook his head. "No, you mustn't! You will only endanger your younger brother. It will only hurt him to know that I've disgraced myself like this. Let him live knowing that I am a hero somewhere out there."

Lily, however, defied David's will. "Father, Joel is a part of the great family of Torias. For him to live in ignorance only produces more shame. Let him know, and let him be a part of our plan."

David paused, and could only nod in the end. He was proud to have raised such a bold and courageous daughter. "Tell me your plan, Lily, so I can prepare." Lily beamed, that smile of victory and scheme spread across her lips.


"Oh hello again, Ezra, it's good to see you again," Lily gazed once again into Ezra's eyes, emanating only pure innocence.

"Lily!" Ezra smiled, pleased to see Lily again. "How are you?"

"I'm still fine, it has only been an hour since we last encountered one another."

"Yes, of course, I haven't forgotten. Where are you going?"

"To the general store, do you wish to escort me there?" Lily asked boldly, only to blush with embarrassment when she realized what she had spoken out loud. Ezra found it endearing in the extreme.

Ezra held out an arm. "I would be honoured to accompany a beautiful lady such as yourself." Lily took his arm and they walked on.


When Ezra and Lily entered the general store, a eager young man came rushing up to them. "Good afternoon! Oh, it's you, Mr. Standish! So good to see you again!"

Ezra immediately remembered the young man in front of him. "Joel, very good to see you too. Let me introduce Lily Torias." Suddenly, there was an unfathomable discomfort between Lily and Joel. Then it vanished as suddenly as it appeared.

"Very good to meet you ma'am. My name is Joel."

With the greetings done, Ezra stood near the cashier while Lily looked around. "Um, Joel, do you mind helping me with this?" Joel hopped on over immediately. Once he was there, Joel dropped his voice discreetly and asked,

"What are you doing here, Lily? You are suppose to be at Shannon Valley!"

"Calm down, Joel, or else Ezra will suspect something," Lily gestured at the cardsharp, who was completely oblivious to the conversation.

"All right then, tell me why you are here?"

"Father has been arrested for a most absurd charge. Ezra Standish is one of the people responsible."

"Why are you all touchy-feely with him then?" Joel asked, stunned that his almost hero was such a person.

Lily looked a little impatient. "Are you not a Torias? Are you not skilled in manipulation?"

"Sorry, sis, but left the Valley before Dad passed out the family trait to me. I do not care to manipulate people."

"Then you are a fool for leaving, Joel! You were a disappointment to the family. But you can buy yourself back into grace. Help me take revenge upon those who disgraced our Father. Those men who are nothing more than pigs. Ezra Standish is nothing more than your garden variety drooling male. A pretty woman shows up and his common sense goes kaput. I am sure the others shall be that way. Join me." During her little, heated speech, Lily managed to turn her head back to Ezra and placed a perfect, charming smile on. Joel had to admit that Lily was a great learner.

"Fine, I will join you. What does it involve?"

Lily turned back to Joel and the smile changed to one of diabolical malice. "Him, you, me and a large wooden board near your feet." Lily winked at Joel, and family could just understand one another. Joel bent down and picked up the board while Lily walked back to Ezra.

"There is nothing that I like. Wait, look here!" Lily appeared fascinated by the pocket watches on the display beneath the glass display of the cashier. Ezra followed Lily's gaze and turned from the rest of the store.

A hard something slammed painfully against the back of Ezra's head. His head exploded with pain and blackness threaten to overwhelm him. The last sight he saw before he lost the battle with the darkness was the true face of Lily, one of spite, malice and glee at his pain.


Part 3

When all of Ezra woke up again, pounding headache included, he was in a dark room. He was seated on an uncomfortable wooden chair and his hands were bound tightly to the armrest. His legs were similarity bound to the legs of the chair.

"Hello?" Ezra cried out.

"I'm sorry, no one can hear you here, Ezra." Lily's familiar voice echoed into the dark room. However, she no longer required to cover her voice with a fake sweetness. But her voice was still pretty and light. "Do you know why you are here?"

"No," Ezra drawled. His head throbbed with a dull ache.

"Remember yesterday? You hauled in a David Torias?" Lily was in view now, but her good looks were warped by the strange lighting within the room. Ezra thought it was appropriate.


"Tall, dark-haired man with blue eyes."

Ezra frowned and furrowed his eyebrows as he tried to remember. "Yeah, I remember now."

"He is my father, you bastard!" Lily's eyes widened in hate. She slapped Ezra across the face viciously. "You've disgraced our family by accusing that innocent man!" Lily slapped him again, harder this time. There wasn't much damaged done though. His cheeks were red, and they did hurt, but nothing more.

"He was raving like a maniac through the streets! He was shooting his gun at innocent people!" Ezra protested. Wrong move. SLAP! "But--"

"No more! You are wrong! And you shall pay!"

"Stop this!" A new voice interrupted. Ezra squinted in the darkness, trying to see the new arrival. "Stop this, Lily! You will gain nothing from this. He only did what he thought was right."

Lily argued, "His ignorance does not justify his actions. He deserves to pay."

"No!" The new person, woman, attempted to stop Lily. Ezra could hear the scuffle of feet and muffled shrieks. They were struggling, fighting. Then, a limp body was tossed casually beside Ezra. Her wild dark hair sheltered her face from view.

"She is weak," Lily said simply and disappeared from view.

Ezra turned his sights on the new arrival. "Are you conscious?" he questioned. Some sign of consciousness seemed to appear. The hair was brushed back and she sat up. Ezra could see the overall resemblance between her and Lily, but the pure essence was different. This one was nice, he thought uncertainly. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah, Lily tends to be the stronger one," the young woman mumbled.

"Who are you?"

"Jana Torias, Lily's sister, unfortunately. I hate this," Jana stood up and started to untie Ezra.

"You sound as if this is a daily event for you," Ezra questioned the tired tone of Jana.

"It is, I'm sick of rescuing men like you."

"Men like me?" Ezra asked incredulously.

Jana glanced at Ezra briefly. "Yeah, morons who turn off their common sense as soon as a pretty lady walks by."

"I'm insulted! I am no such moron. I was only assisting your sister when she and her accomplice knocked me over the head with some blunt instrument," Ezra replied indignantly.

Jana stared at Ezra, seeing if there was truth in his statement. Then she stopped, seemingly satisfied with Ezra's integrity. "Let get out of here before Lily returns."

Ezra followed Jana's lead and walked out the dark room which fortunately was not locked. He realized that he had been kept in the back storage room of the general store. When Jana opened the door, Ezra shielded his eyes from the painfully bright light of the outside world. Jana waited for him to adjust to the light level before continuing.

"Jana! Ezra!" Joel cried out, surprised. He came forward. "What are you going here, Jana!? And with him too?"

"Have you been listening to Lily's lies again?" Jana asked, sounding exasperated. Joel nodded. "How many times have I told you that it wasn't a good idea to listen to her? Didn't I warn you to leave the Valley and stay away from her?"

"So it was you who drove the stake into the heart of our family!" Lily's accusing voice added into the conversation. Jana turned around to see Lily come out of the storage room.

"Stop being so melodramatic, sister. It's getting annoying."

"Whoa! What in blazes is going on here?" Ezra interrupted, confusion taking over his state of mind.

"Family business," all three Torias replied together. Lily was annoyed that she did so.

"Then maybe I should take my leave and let you all resolve this dilemma by yourselves," Ezra started towards the door. The familiar click of a gun being cocked stopped his retreat.

"You're not going anywhere, Standish, you're staying right here," Lily said. Ezra turned around and tried to assess his situation. The charming blues eyes were no longer charming, but hateful and cold. He knew that there was no way out. However, if Ezra was going to die, he was going to die knowing why.

"What is the purpose of holding me captive? I thought this was a family affair."

"You just got yourself ensnared by my sister's web of self-deception. Be glad that you're still in one piece, literally." Jana explained. Lily glared at her.

"I believe I was the one whom he directed his question to. Anyhow, you are a part of our affair now since you took hold of my Father and humiliated him."

"Humiliated? I was only doing my duty to this town," Ezra protested.

Lily replied angrily, "Duty? It was your duty to arrest my Father on some frivolous charge? You were taking advantage of the most kindest and endearing man I've ever known. How dare you say that you were doing your duty?! You are a disgrace to all law enforcers and abiders everywhere!"

Ezra was opening his mouth to defend his honour when the door opened into the store. "What's happening?" Vin's surprised voice echoed in. Ezra was also surprised, surprised that Vin was surprised. Ezra thought that nothing took the cautious and alert bounty hunter by surprise.

"Vin! Thank god you are here, rescue me from these crazed irrational people!"

"Crazed? Irrational?" Jana repeated incredulously. She stepped up to Ezra and delivered an uppercut that was amazing powerful for a woman of her size. Ezra was knocked backwards and fell unceremoniously on his back. He laid dazed on the hard wooden floor while Vin tried to attack the gun toting Jana. The actions were blurred and strange until everything snapped into crystal clarity by the loud bang of a gunshot. All was still and silent.

Ezra got up and looked at the scene. Vin was leaning against the cashier counter, his countenance pale but he seemed otherwise unhurt. Jana was on the floor, thick red liquid flowing freely from her body onto the floor. Joel had disappeared and Lily was back against the wall while the gun laid on the ground near Jana.

"Jana!" Vin cried out when he finally snapped out of whatever strange reverie he was caught in. "What-- how, why are you here?" Ezra stared in shock as Vin rushed to Jana's side. He held her limp body in his arms and whispered desperately in her ear. "You can't leave me, Jana! We just reunited! How could you do this to me!? Please, come back!" Vin pleaded, his voice filled with pain and grief. He appeared to be near tears.

"Oh Vin...." Jana started to say, her voice sounded weak and sad. Curiously enough, that changed. "Why are you saying that? I'm perfectly fine!" She sat up and then stood. She even did a quick turnabout to show her perfect health. Vin stared at her in amazement.

"But, how?" Jana glanced down at herself and saw the no-longer-spreading red stain on her dress.

"Oh that's nothing! Lily's famous in the Valley for being unable to hit the broad side of a barn." Lily shot Jana a death glance. Jana shrugged it off nonchalantly and continued, "Her bullet ricocheted off that pan," Jana pointed at the metal cooking utensil, "and back to the metal stand over there and knocked over this bottle of red ink. It shattered and spilt the ink all over the ground. Then I tripped while I was trying to wrestle the gun out of Lily's hands. I just happened to fall next to the puddle of red ink and it seeped into my dress. Which is FOREVER RUINED!!! Thank you very much, Lily Torias! Do you have any idea how much this costed me?" Apparently the death glance was genetic since Jana tossed Lily the same death glance Lily used previously.

"So you are all right?" Vin asked, his voice shaky.

"Oh yeah," Jana flashed Vin a brilliant smile and he smiled in return. "It's been a long time, Tanner." She embraced the bounty hunter and took him by surprise by pressing her lips to his. Ezra rethought his theory that Vin was incapable of being astonished.

All of a sudden, an unbelievably loud explosion startled everyone. "What was that?" Jana cried out.

Lily looked vaguely horrified. "Oh no! I forgot to dismantle the dynamite at the jail! Father!" Ezra looked at Vin and they both shouted in terror,



Part 4

The jail was decimated. History. Gone. Ashes. Kaput.

No sign of either JD nor David Torias. Chris, Josiah, Nathan and Buck came to see the jail. Buck stared at the wreckage with almost tears in his eyes. He sank to his knees in front of what used to be the jail. "Oh JD...." he began, "I told you it was a stupid idea bein' sheriff. Now you got yourself killed... you didn't even die with a decent hat on. JD...." A tear meandered down Buck's face.

"Hey guys! Oh Ez, I've been looking for you, where've you been?" The friendly voice asked. Buck got up and turned around. An expression of extreme relieve and joy took over for sadness. Buck ran to the young man and pulled him into a suffocating bear hug. When Buck finally let go of JD, JD stared at him as if Buck just landed from another time, or another planet.

"Are you out of your mind, Buck?"

Annoyance suddenly took over. "Look at the damn jail, kid, this is what you coulda been. Fried bones. You could've died!" JD seemed to be noticing the state of the jail the first time.

"Wow," he whispered.

"Wow? That's all you could say, boy?" Buck rolled his eyes in exasperation.

"Wait a minute, that's why you hugged me. I didn't know you cared."

Buck's attitude changed in a second and he became Buck the mother hen. "Aw, JD, you know I care. Why do you think I keep picking on ya? I don't want you to get hurt. You mean a lot to me, kid, don't get yourself killed, okay?"

JD smiled, touched by Buck's show of affection. "Thanks, Buck, and, yeah. I won't." It was then that he noticed something. "Were you crying Buck?" JD teased.

It took every last ounce of control from Buck not to blush. "Of course not, JD, it was the dust."

"Sure it was Buck," Chris grinned at Buck. Buck fired a nasty look at the blonde gunslinger.

"Well JD," Ezra started, "at least you got the excitement you wished for."

"It certainly ain't what I expected. But, hey, it was fun while it lasted," JD grinned, looking incredibly young and cheerful. All laughed at the expression on JD's face.

Hey, what'd you suppose he's reading?

Ezra stopped laughing abruptly, looking around. He dismissed it quickly. "By the way, Lily, you are under arrest for kidnapping, discharging explosives without permission, and destruction of public property," Vin said and took a hold of Lily's arm. She harrumped and glared at the world in general.

Ah don't know, but I'm sure it's something we can tease him about.

Chris took over for Vin when he noticed the dark-haired young lady who was looking at Vin expectedly. Chris only smiled at Vin.

Let's see what it is.

Ezra watched as Vin trotted to Jana. They embraced again and kissed. Ezra wondered if there was any romance in store for him as well. He only sighed.

Oh my god! Look at some of the things written in here!

Ezra shook his head, trying to clear the strange things running rampant. "Hey Ezra, join us at the saloon?" Buck called to the hustler.

Let's wait.

"Sure," Ezra replied and smiled. A strange sensation was starting to grow in his feet, and it was spreading up.

What'd you think we should say?

Ezra's head felt woozy and he wobbled.

I don't know. Wait! He's waking up--

"--quick! Put that back." Ezra's eyelids fluttered open and he stared curiously at the six men surrounding him. Wasn't he suppose to be going to the saloon with Buck and JD?

"What's the matter?" he asked groggily. JD was the first to break control and burst into laughter. Everyone else soon followed JD's example. "What is going on here?" Ezra demanded, questions piling up in his mind. All were laughing too hard to answer. Buck managed to point towards an object in Ezra's lap. Ezra glanced down and realized in horror what had happened: he had fallen asleep while reading that damned romance dime novel. Now he was discovered.

"This isn't as humorous as you all are making it out to be," Ezra said harshly. That only set Josiah off into another round of laughter. JD was beginning to subside, but one look at the guffawing Josiah make him crack up again. Vin wiped a tear from his eye and said,

"I haven't had a laugh like this in ages."

"Yeah," Buck agreed.

Ezra shook his head, details of his bizarre dreams were beginning to fade. "You are all beyond help!" He finally proclaimed.

"Aw, Ez, have a sense of humour won't you? Anyway, you can't nap your whole afternoon away. I've got someone I have to introduce you to," Vin said. Ezra shot a puzzled glance at him, getting slight deja vu. Vin was acting strangely friendly. "Let me introduce you to Jana Torias...."


If you enjoyed this story, we're sure that Twig would love to hear from you.

Author's Note: Honestly, and seriously, how many of you guessed that Ezra was dreaming all along? I just want to know. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed writing it. As usual, all comments are welcome.


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