In The Cards
(Old West)

by Trekkieb

Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven belong to MGM, CBS, TNN, and all those other guys. They do not belong to me. No infringements are intended.
Rating: PG for one swearword.
Summary: Just a bit of pointless fluff -- see author's notes below.
Author's Notes: This is just a little something I've had in my head for the past four months and only now had the time to write. It's inspired by a message posted by an m7fic list member, saying: "who will be the one to finally beat Ezra [at cards]?! I'm bettin' on JD." And I decided to run with that. :-) This is not beta read, but hopefully it's all right. :-)

The saloon was absolutely still. Not a soul breathed, not a glass clinked, not a fly buzzed.

All eyes were glued to the only occupied table and its two occupants. More specifically, all eyes were glued to the five cards spread on one side of the tabletop, jauntily beckoning for one and all to come and see what they held.

What they held was a royal flush.

"Hallelujah," someone whispered in awe, but nobody even looked his way. As one, every head turned to stare first at one player, then the other, both of whom looked pretty shocked themselves.

A slight murmuring suddenly arose from the crowd of onlookers.

The kid beat the gambler at his own game! they said quietly.

The kid?

Who'd 'a' thunk it?

What's happening now?


How could this happen? Ezra Standish wondered in dismay. He peered with unbelieving eyes at the royal flush, then at his own cards. Finally, he looked across the table at his opponent, JD Dunne, who wore a silly grin on his face as he, too, stared at the cards.

Someone sniffled noisily, and Ezra looked up. It was Buck, wiping a tear of pride from the corner of his eye. Finally, the mustached lawman broke into a wide smile and gave a wild whoop of joy, pounding JD happily on the back. "Damn, JD! I ain't never thought I'd see the day!"

JD, who had been in somewhat of a stupor until then, laughed delightedly and started to rake the pot over to his side of the table. "Ha! I did it!" he said excitedly.

The room was soon filled with hearty congratulations from the remainder of the seven and cheers from the rest of the crowd.

How could this happen? Ezra wondered again.

I'll tell you how it happened, said an obnoxious voice. You've spent too much time teaching that boy the secrets of the trade.

A sudden thought invaded Ezra's mind, and he almost gasped in horror. Dear Lord, had JD managed to read his tells?

Don't be absurd, you don't have any tells. Your mind just wasn't on the game, is all. Preoccupied.

Still unsure, Ezra reached out blindly with his right arm and plucked Vin Tanner's mug of beer from his grasp, bringing it to his own lips and taking a deep draught while he stared contemplatively at his ludicrous hand of cards. Surprised, Vin snatched it back with an indignant, "Hey!"

"You all right, Ezra?" Chris asked, amused, noting that Ezra's hand still maintained the position it had while holding Vin's beer.

That caused JD to look up from his chatting with Nathan and Buck, and the young man smiled again. "Hey, Ezra, no hard feelings, right? I mean, you win all the time."

Shaking his head to snap himself out of his ponderings, Ezra half rose from his chair and offered his hand to JD. As they shook, Ezra smiled wryly and said, "None at all, none at all..."

JD nodded happily, and then turned to Buck. "Hey, Buck, what should I do with all this money?"

Buck wrapped a friendly arm around JD's shoulders and said, "Well, it's obvious! You can buy us fellas another round!"

JD grinned in what seemed to be agreement to that suggestion. He and the others crowded around the bar, and Ezra sank back down into his chair and gathered the cards into his hands, shuffling them absently.

Am I slipping? he wondered. First Lester Banks and now JD...

But Lester Banks had been cheating. And Ezra sincerely doubted that JD had been.

Appearances are everything, son, said that obnoxious voice again, and he realized that it sounded like his mother.

Go away, he said.

You're not losing your touch, are you? You're not getting soft, are you?

You're not helping here, he said.

"Hey, Ezra! Hellooo?"

Ezra looked up and found JD waving an arm in his direction, motioning him over. JD said, "Are you gonna sit there all day or come have a drink?"

Ezra inclined his head in acceptance of the offer, then looked down at the cards in his hand. With practiced ease, without really thinking about it, he drew one card from the interior of the deck and nimbly flipped it over.

The ace of spades.

He grinned.

No, not losing my touch.

Setting the cards back on the table, he stood and joined his friends at the bar for a drink and a whole lot of good-natured teasing.


March 2001

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