(Little Ezra - Old West)

by MAC

Disclaimer: I don't own them, or the show they rode in on. I wrote this for fun, and no profit is made from it.
Archive: Twyla's Very Simple Magnificent Seven Page, Starwinder's, You Want Fries With That?, and The All-Ezra FanFic Archive --- all others, please ask. Some of these stories were posted originally on the Ezra's Littleverse list, and hence also on its archive.
Summary: Pondering nature. This should be considered to be fairly early in my series.
Warnings: Ezra is a little boy, all the rest of the Seven are their adult selves.
Author's Note: Dear Reader, there stories are listed as they were written rather than in a timeline of the series itself. I am writing as the mood strikes and fitting in my small pieces helter-skelter. If the series is ever completed, I shall attempt a timeline for the stories. For now, as I publish, I shall try to note if the story doesn't follow sequentially with the preceding ones.
Completed: 25 May 2003
Feedback: welcomes comments

Back to: A Boy Needs

"Keep yore head down, Ezra." Vin Tanner paused to view the result of this advice. One smooth light reddish brown hair covered noggin dipped. "Keep yore butt down, too." One tweed-trousered rump sunk.

The small boy, slithering through the tall dry grasses, strove to cling even closer to the earth at his companion's commands. Bright, excited green eyes squinted into slits with an effort to protect his sight from the brittle, nearly-dust straw that had been tender grasses only weeks ago. He squirmed in a twisty fashion up to the crest of the low hill. He greatly desired to see the bear and cubs that Mr. Tanner promised were at play in the meadow dip beyond.

Tanner, similarly earthbound, rolled onto one buckskin-clad hip to watch the boy finally arrive at his side. He gave a brief nod of approval, his sky blue eyes smiling. "Done good."

Breathless, Ezra blinked up at the long-haired tracker, Mr. Chris' best friend. He liked Mr. Tanner a great deal, but wished that he, Ezra P. Standish, were Mr. Chris' best friend. He swallowed down what he knew was a selfish, unworthy thought.

It wasn't as if he had any rights to his feelings. He should be used to his position in life. After all, he'd been second best all his life. Though, sometimes not even that. Too many times he'd been the after thought in the lives of second cousins, grand aunts, or 'near' relations. Even his own mother. Well, he never had been sure exactly how Mamon viewed him, aside from her comments about him bein' a nuisance sometimes or incompetent. She did like that word.

He realized he'd been staring, nearly mesmerized, into Mr. Tanner's gentle blue eyes, eyes that had turned from warmth to puzzlement. "Thank you, Mr. Tanner." He essayed a small smile and thrust his small shoulders ahead as he turned to face forward and survey the country laid out before them. Bears. There were bears out there, Mr. Tanner had said so.

Tanner cocked his head and waited. The child had clearly been somewhere else, thinking hard thoughts, as he'd stared at Vin. Kid has a lot of history for one so young. Kojay'd warned him but he still had to remind himself sometimes. Shaking his head mildly, he too turned to face outward. Looked like the she-bear and her young'uns had moved on. He sighed, the kid would be disappointed. That's when he spotted the snake.

Ever since the day he'd been teaching Ezra to creep up on someone, and they'd spotted that old rattler, Vin had been cautious about critters with Ezra. Vin had been shocked as Chris had nearly turned on him. The gunslinger had been white with anger that Vin'd allowed the boy to get so close to such a danger. Vin absently scratched at his bristly chin. Now they were out here alone, Peso back about two hundred paces, grazing on the clumps of weed that passed for grazing feed at this time of year. The snake was slowly writhing forward, leaving behind a dry husk, its old skin. Take this slow and keep Ezra safe.

"Lookee there, Ez." Vin's splayed fingers, gripping the top of the chestnut hair, turned the head to the side to face the shedding reptile.

"Oh!" Ezra stilled and stared. He'd heard that snakes did this, shed their skin, but had never actually seen it, not even an old skin. The glistening body of the serpent as it emerged from the peeling remains of its old skin was moist looking. He spared a short glance to his side to see Mr. Tanner was watching the snake closely. Ezra realized that the man was tense. Were they in danger? "Mr. Tanner? Should we move back to give it more room?" Unconsciously, his small fingers dug into the loose sandy soil, as if bracing himself for flight.

"No, no need, Ez. It's just gonna go off now and give its body some time to rest." Blue eyes lit Tanner's suntanned face as he turned to squint in the sunshine at the boy.

Ezra turned back in time to see the snake disappear among some like colored rocks, the nearly white dry skin like a stiff thin lace curling up toward the sky. What would it feel like to shed one's skin? To discard the old, brittle shell of oneself and emerge new and beautiful. "I wish I could do that."

Vin looked over at the quiet murmur. "Do what? Shed yore skin?"

"Yes, and be new again."

Tanner reached out and placed one hand across the small of Ezra's back, patting gently. "You ain't old enough ta be needin' ta be new again, Ezra."

Old green eyes blinked solemnly up at the tracker, making him a liar in silence.

Ezra, In Between Index On to: The Dog Days Of Summer

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


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