Disclaimer: All owed to the originality of others.
Characters: Ezra and Vin.
Notes: Answer to the LC's May Challenge: "write a story in which the boys discover the magic in a word or words- for better or for worse." This is a short vignette (no pun intended).
Description: Just another day in
"I ask you Mr. Tanner, what's in a word?"
"Huh?" Vin cocked an eyebrow at Ezra across the saloon table, lowering the cards in his hands slightly. The gambler was staring at his own cards though, frankly, it didn't appear as if he was actually seeing them.
"What's in a word? Mere letters thrown together in a seemingly random assortment," Ezra sighed, pulling out one card and staring at it as if inspecting a chunk of rock for flecks of gold, "brought together to form a sound that will reverberate intelligently against the eardrums of another," he put the card down on the discard pile, and finally looked up at Vin, his green eyes bright, "and, when that intelligence hits the brain of the listener, that listener has an immediate reaction, whether it be anger, despair, laughter, madness—"
"Ezra," Vin leaned over, "what in the name of all that's sacred are you yammering on about."
"Oh, just wondering—"
"Are you taking another card?"
Vin stared at the guileless eyes of the man opposite him for a moment, the suspicion in them clear. Carefully, not taking his eyes off of the professional conman, he picked up a new card from the deck, considered it, slid it into his hand, pursed his lips for a moment, glanced again at Ezra, then, slowly, and a little reluctantly, he pulled a card and, after a moment's further hesitation, placed it on the discard pile.
Ezra looked at it, then up at Vin.
"So I ask you, Mr. Tanner, what's in a word?"
"You trying to tell me something, pard?" The words were not delivered pleasantly.
"Well, as I said, I was just wondering…," Ezra picked up the card Vin had discarded.
"Aw hell," Vin replied, sounding tired all of a sudden, "Just get on with it."
Ezra nodded, "I'm only considering that, since I've won, I think, every single game we've had in the last…oh….how long is it?"
"Ten days," Vin ground out.
"Right. Just, what might be your reaction when and if I were, to, say, utter a certain word…again…in the near future…so to speak…if you get my meaning…."
"Just say the damn word, Ezra."
Green eyes blinked, then, with a put upon sigh, the gambler laid down his three of a kind and straight.
"Shit!" Vin tossed his cards at the table and stood up. "Damn it! That's it!" Ezra leaned back a little, eyes wide as Vin slapped his palms on the table and leaned across to stare hard at the weakly smiling gambler. "I'm not going to…I'm not going to play…." Vin gritted his teeth.
Ezra blinked, his smile still in place, doing his damnedest to appear faultless. Vin's shoulders slumped.
"Aw hell. Deal 'em again," he growled..
Ezra's smile broadened. Nope, not anger, apathy, despair or laughter….
"I do love your tenacity, Mr. Tanner! Happy to oblige, my friend," Ezra grinned, gathering the cards together again, "Happy to oblige! And what would you like to wager this time? Two more weeks of mucking Chaucer's stall, perhaps?"
"Just deal the damn cards."
Ezra grinned, gold tooth flashing, and shuffled, preparing them for the next deal. Vin sat back down, eyeing him with irritation.
"And, for God's sake, stop smiling!"
Ezra tried...he really did. It just wasn't in his nature.
Which explained why, when Vin was grumbling as he mucked out Chaucer's stall later in the day, Ezra was still smiling despite sporting a black eye.