Same But Different

by Ace

Companion Stories

Evening has fallen upon the small town of Four Corners once again and three of its peacekeepers sit in the saloon, watching as one of their own slowly drinks the time away.

"How long has he been at it?" Vin questions, as he, Buck, and JD watch the gambler sitting in the corner.

"Oh, about thirty minutes now," Buck replies.

The three look on as Ezra downs another shot of whiskey.

"You think we should stop him?" JD asks, looking to Buck.

"No, he wouldn’t listen. Besides, he’s had a loosing streak lately. Maybe he thinks somehow this will change his luck," Buck responds.

JD looks again to Ezra, who has downed yet another shot, then back to Buck and with surprise in his voice asks, "Say, I haven't seen Sam all afternoon. Where do you think she is?"

"Don’t know," Buck replies, with a shrug of his shoulders.

"Oh, she’s helping Mary on the paper. They’ve been busy most of the day," Vin informs them.

"When do you think he’ll pass out?" Buck asks his friends, looking over at Ezra.

"About thirty more minutes, I'd say," Vin replies. "I figure he might make it to his room, but more than likely I’m guessin’ he’ll wake up either right where he's sittin' or somewhere between here and his room."

"And he’ll have a headache as well," JD says with a smile.

+ + + + + + +

About forty-five minutes later, Samantha is still standing in the Clarion along with Mary.

"Are you sure there is nothing more that I can do?" Samantha asks Mary.

"No, no, you’ve helped me so much already. There’s nothing more to do. Thanks for all you've done," Mary tells her with a smile.

"You’re very welcome. I’ll see you in the morning then," Samantha says, heading for the door.

"Good night," Mary replies.

"Good night," Samantha responds with a smile.

Samantha then makes her way over to the saloon. Everyone has already left for the evening and Inez is waiting on the girl so she can close up.

"Sorry for being so late," Samantha says, walking in.

"No problem Senorita," Inez responds, shutting up and locking the doors.

"Good night," Samantha tells her, walking up the stairs.

"Good night," Inez says.

Samantha makes her way to the top of the stairs, only to find a form, passed out, lying on the floor. She recognizes the deep red jacket and places her hands on her hips.

"A day of losing and you turn to the bottle," she whispers out loud.

She looks from the gambler to his door and then back to the prone body. She walks over to his head and leans down close to him.

"Well, come on," she tells him, pulling him up and lifting an arm to put it over her shoulder. "I know you wouldn’t want people seeing you like this."

Dragging him over to his door, she slowly opens it and pulls the limp body inside. They make their way over to the bed and after throwing back the blanket, Samantha heaves the gambler onto the bed and straightens back up.

"You are heavier than you look," she states, catching her breath. Then she begins removing his boots.

She lifts the cover and pulls it over him.

What were you thinking? she wonders to herself.

Then she leans forward and kisses him lightly on the forehead.

"Good night Ezra," she says and walks out the door.

She looks to the floor on the landing and seeing his hat, picks it up. Re-opening his door she tosses it onto the bedpost.

+ + + + + + +

The next morning Ezra awakes in his room and sits up quickly looking around in surprise. Then clutching his head in pain, he gives out a groan and leans back against his pillow.

+ + + + + + +

Samantha walks out of her room, just as Ezra makes his way out of his.

"Sleep well last night?" she questions him.

He tilts his head in confusion and then it hits him.

"You...I..." he stammers out.

"No need to thank me, you would have done the same," she states, then starts down the stairs.

"Thank you," he finally manages to say as she walks down the steps.

+ + + + + + +

"Hey Sam?" Chris calls to her, as she walks out the saloon doors.

She turns with a surprised look at the leader who is sitting outside the building.

"Yes, what is it?" she asks.

"Somethin’ botherin’ you?" he questions her.

"No," she replies quickly, "What makes you assume that?"

"Nothin’," Chris responds. "You just seem a little upset."

"I’ve got a lot of things on my mind," she tells him.

"Okay," Chris says, with a nod.

Samantha turns and walks on, heading toward the Clarion.

+ + + + + + +

"Hey Josiah, is it just me or has..." JD begins to ask but cuts himself off as he watches Samantha disappear into the Clarion office.

"What is it son?" Josiah asks him, noticing the questions in his eyes.

"Well, I’ve noticed something lately, and I was wondering if anyone else had noticed," he answers, trying to figure out a way to say it.

"Noticed what?" Josiah questions, looking at the youngest peacekeeper.

"Well, Sam. She seems different now somehow. She doesn’t seem like the same person who punched me in the nose that first day," he replies.

"JD, I think she is the same person. She's just changed a little. I’ve noticed it too. She’s calmed down some. Doesn't seem as wild and independent as she used to be when we first met her," Josiah tells him.

"But why? It just seems like that would change her completely," JD says, looking to the preacher for an answer.

"Well son, that’s not exactly true. She hasn’t changed completely. She’s still the independent, free spirit that came to us, it’s just that now, she doesn’t have to be quite so independent. Now she has people she can depend on. She has us. A...a second family I'd say," Josiah tells the young man, hoping he'll understand.

"You’re right Josiah. She’s still Sam, different, but yet, still the same," JD responds, standing up.

"And she’ll always be," Josiah replies, with a nod of his head.

+ + + + + + +

A few hours later, Samantha hikes up her skirt and bustles across the street to the saloon. She rushes into the place and heads over to the bar.

"Boys," she greets to Buck and Ezra sitting at a table, as she stands at the bar waiting for Inez.

"Afternoon Sam," Buck replies.

Inez makes her way up behind the bar with a tray of food.

"Here you are," she tells Samantha.

"Thanks Inez, Mary and I appreciate it. We’ve almost got it finished, just a few more hours and it’ll be done," Samantha says, taking up the tray.

"No problem at all," Inez replies, with a wave of her hand.

"Well, I might actually be able to join in on a game tonight boys," Samantha says with a smile.

The two peacekeepers watch as she walks out the door, then turn back to their card game.

"Somethin’ botherin’ you Ez?" Buck questions, looking at the gambler.

"No. What makes you assume that?" Ezra asks, looking at his cards.

"You just seem like you’re deep in thought on somethin’," Buck replies.

Ezra keeps his eyes down, and Buck tilts his head to one side.

"Is there somethin’ on your mind Ez?" Buck asks.

Ezra looks up from his cards and lays them face down on the table.

"Actually Buck there is," he acknowledges.

"Well, what is it? Maybe I can help," Buck tells his friend.

"Well, it’s Samantha...she seems different...I mean...well...she’s a..." Ezra stammers.

"Girl?" Buck puts in.

Ezra gives him a confused look and shakes his head.

"Let me explain what I think is different. Up until now, she’s been just...well...Sam. But lately she’s seems, oh, I don't know... a bit more settled down...more ladylike perhaps," Buck tells him, leaning across the table a little.

"I guess you’re right. Maybe that's what it is," Ezra says, picking his cards back up and looking at them.

"You’ll get used to it. I have. She’s still Sam, the stubborn, hard-headed girl who can handle herself in a fight, the girl we’ve all come to love as family, but she’s more settled now, knowing that she has people she can trust," Buck states with a smile.

"I understand that completely, but what if, say, you haven’t come to love her as family per chance, but as something more?" Ezra questions, looking back over at Buck.

"Well then, I'd say you'd best figure out just how you feel about her and then you confront her with it. No matter what the outcome, she’ll still be there for you and for all of us," he tells him.

Ezra nods his head, then gathers up the cards and begins to shuffle them again, pondering upon what his friend has just told him.


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