Disclaimer: Sadly, I don’t own them. And that doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon. And nobody even pays me. And that doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon either. Man, this sucks.
Author’s Note: I don’t know where this came from it just popped into my head. I know that it probably sucks but I had to write it. Easy on the flames, okay?
Inez Roscillos wiped the bar slowly. It was late or early, depending on how you looked at it, about 3 in the morning. She was about to close up but had two patrons remaining. Not all that surprisingly they were two of the seven peacekeepers in town. They were the two that usually remained in the wee hours of the morning, if anyone remained at all. The night usually began with all seven but slowly they would filter out until just these two remained. First, Buck Wilmington would leave with his newest love, then Nathan Jackson would leave citing that he’d lost enough money to Ezra and that the following day would be an early one. After Jackson, JD Dunne would make his exit. The young man wasn’t much of a drinker and with Buck off in some poor woman’ s bed and all of the young sheriff’s money in their resident gambler’s pocket the young man made his way to his own bed. Finally Josiah Sanchez and Vin Tanner would usually leave about the same time, both concerned about the latter two members of their number. Ezra because most always he had pissed off at least one person and Chris because if he was still in the saloon by the time they left it meant he was drowning his sorrows and that never boded well for anyone, particularly the gunslinger himself.
However both Sanchez and Tanner would leave and it would be up to Inez to get the two men to their respective rooms. Ezra was usually the easier of the two because usually he was not drunk, simply basking in the glow of his winnings over a drink that he hadn’t had all night so he could get said winnings. However, if Larabee remained in the Saloon at this hour he would be drunk as a dog and as mean as a wolf and generally Inez didn’t like to deal with the somber man when he was like that. However, she had little choice on this particular day, it was closing time and she refused to deprive herself of sleep just because she felt some fear at refusing to serve Chris Larabee anymore liquor. Sometimes she would let him close up but tonight he was too drunk. He was so drunk that she didn’t like the idea of not making sure he got safely to bed. She was a little surprised that Vin Tanner wasn’t around to make sure the man got safely home or Buck Wilmington. She suspected that they didn’t expect him to do this tonight. Ever since the seven had come back to town after going to help Ella Gaines, Chris Larabee’s behavior had been unpredictable to say the least.
“Senor,” Inez spoke in Chris Larabee’s direction, “I believe it is time for you to go home.”
“But, Inez,” He spoke, voice slurred, drunk, and mean, “I ain’t done.”
“Yes, Senor, you are,” The Mexican barmaid spoke with her typical feistiness.
“No, I’m not!” He said, starting to move to his feet. At this point in the confrontation neither Inez nor Chris noticed Ezra Standish’s presence, watching them closely.
“Senor, go to you room.”
“Don’t you tell me what to do! Nobody tells me what to do!” Normally Chris Larabee was a man that Inez respected and trusted however given a certain amount of alcohol the man changed, significantly. And it wasn’t pretty. She had to admit the man was beginning to intimidate her. She was leery of the fact that he had stood up and was beginning to come towards her. She didn’t like that, not one bit.
“Senor, calm down--” Inez began but he cut her off.
“No!” Chris began to approach her menacingly. He actually pulled his gun, and suddenly Inez wished she had stayed open until either he passed out or just left. Her sleep really wasn’t worth this.
“Mr. Larabee, refrain from pointing the gun at Senorita Roscillos,” A very sober Ezra Standish stood up to face a very drunk Chris Larabee.
“This ain’t any of your business, Standish,” Larabee slurred the name distastefully as he swayed slightly back and forth in an effort to gain some amount of balance.
“Care to explain to me how you accosting this fair lady is not any of my business?”
“Shut up, Standish!”
“Mr. Larabee,” But he didn’t get the chance to finish when Chris turned from Inez to Ezra. Chris firmly trained his gun on the gambler. Ezra studied his leader’s eyes closely. He’d never seen Larabee like this. He had expected to be looking into the eyes of the man he respected and counted a friend but instead he saw only a stranger. He saw a stranger who was more than willing to pull the trigger. Ezra had no choice. He pulled his own gun on the man. In his drunken state Larabee’s reflexes and hand-eye coordination were off and that opened the window for Standish.
Both men stood with there guns drawn, neither moving. Both in a state of standstill. Ezra spoke first, “Do you really wish to shoot myself and Inez, Chris?” The uncharacteristic use of first name was employed in the hopes that it might get through to the stoic man.
Something flashed in Larabee’s eyes. He wordlessly reholstered his weapon and moved out of the saloon toward his room. Ezra waited a moment before following a distance behind the gunslinger, just watching his back to make sure he got back safely.
About ten minutes later, Ezra Standish returned to the saloon. When he arrived he saw Inez finishing cleaning up.
“Senorita?” He addressed softly.
“Senor Standish,” She acknowledged.
“Are you alright, my dear?” Ezra asked.
“I am sorry for that, Senor. I should have just left him,” Inez spoke quietly.
“It is quite alright. Indeed, you showed more bravery than most men in the territory possess,” He smiled in an attempt to make her feel better. In truth he was extremely surprised at her apology. Inez was a proud woman and her saying that to him made him see very quickly that the feisty barmaid he’d come to befriend was very upset. At seeing little reaction at his words from her, Ezra spoke again, this time, uncharacteristically, dropping some of the formality, “Inez, please, what’s wrong?”
“You men,” She said…Ezra was going to reply but she finished, “You men…you’ll fight and kill and die over anything. You could have died tonight. And you don’t seem to care, and come tomorrow that fool probably won’t care either. But I care…” Inez spoke in anger.
“Inez, Mr. Larabee has been through a great deal as of late. He was not thinking straight. He did not intend to cause any harm, especially to you. Of that I am quite sure.” He wasn’t expecting such an outpouring of emotion from Inez. That wasn’t like her, not at all. “Let me help you,” he said for lack of anything more to say. He began collecting empty bottles and dirty glasses.
“You mean to tell me you were never in any danger?”
“Well,” He started but stopped as quickly. He had been in danger. But he knew that Chris would back off as soon as he made the gunslinger realize what he was doing. Sure, there had been the possibility that Chris may have pulled the trigger but Chris was a friend and he was in pain and needed help. Ezra was willing to risk it. Good friends were hard to find. But he couldn’t explain that to Inez.
So instead Ezra worked silently. And he thought about Inez’ words. Suddenly, he thought of something. It seemed extremely odd to him. At first he had thought her little outburst had been from all the violence she saw everyday however he thought of her words specifically. Her words didn’t really convey worry for Chris or even herself, only him. Why? It could…no. “Inez, why did you say that?” He said hardly realizing he’d said it out loud.
Inez turned and looked at him for a moment. “Because, Senor, I care.”
“About who?” Ezra said trying to get to the heart of the matter.
Inez stood silent for a moment and for the first time Ezra noticed tears spilling on her cheeks as she wiped them away quickly. As if it was of great shame to her that she was crying. “You,” She said simply, then turned and wordlessly went back to her work.
Ezra wanted to say something but for one of the few times in his life, he had no words. He really didn’t know what to feel. The fiery barmaid who was his friend had turned into this soft creature and he didn’t know what to make of it. He was used to Inez being tough and nails with a hard exterior a lot like his own. Indeed, he decided, he and Inez were much more alike than it would seem. However at any rate, her actions were unprecedented and he didn’t quite know how to handle them.
He stopped doing his own work to study her momentarily. She was lovely. Long, wild, beautiful black hair stretching down to mid-back. Dark skin glowing in its extraordinary radiance. Honey brown eyes glittering with unshed tears but still full of beauty and fire. She was a paradox. Beautiful and delicate while at the same time strong and tough and feisty. Inez was nothing short of brilliant. Just brilliant.
He stopped that line of thought abruptly. What had he just been thinking? More importantly, why had he never seen it before?
“Inez, what are you saying?” He asked.
“I’m saying, you dunce, that I care about you!” She spoke quickly, frustrated that she’d said anything at all. Men could be so thick. Sometimes she wondered why she even bothered. Honestly. Why had she even said anything? Why had she fallen in love? Briskly, in nothing but a huff, she walked to her room, leaving Ezra to finish the cleaning and closing.
Ezra was stunned. Yes, she had already said that, sort of. But now she had said it outright. And that was a little much for him. Ezra finished cleaning and closed the saloon while continuing to ponder what to do now.
He walked to Inez’ room and knocked gently on the door. After a moment she opened the door. Without another word Ezra looked into her beautiful eyes and seeing into her soul, he kissed her. The kiss was long and deep. They stood there for quite sometime just enjoying the closeness that a simple kiss brought the two lonely people.
Indeed in that moment together they realized how much they really were alike--both lonely, both tough and strong on the outside but vulnerable and deep on the inside. Both carrying old wounds and scars. Many of which they longed to have healed but could only do so with help--both dreamers at heart but broken from one too many hurts.
And so they just stood there, flying.