A Shoulder To Lean On


Companion Stories

Note: Got a few good responses for my little series I got going on here, so many thanks to you who sent out responses, and more are welcomed in deed. So, enough of my chit chatting, on with the show.

The scene opens in the saloon, three of the seven peacekeepers are sitting around, two at the bar and one at a table wrapped up in an immense game of poker.

"When are Buck and Chris suppose to get back?" Samantha asks, as she, Nathan, and JD stand at the bar.

"Oh, tomorrow sometime," JD responds, lifting his glass of milk to his lips.

"Yeah, hope that prisoner ain’t given ‘em any trouble," Nathan remarks, as JD turns to watch Ezra’s poker game.

"No, between Buck and Chris, I believe they can handle him," Samantha states, moving to take Ezra a drink.

"You cheated mister!" Ezra’s opponent yells, standing up quickly sending his chair screeching backwards out from under him.

"I’m sorry to break it to you, but there was no need to use slight of hand. You just don’t excel in this game," the peacekeeper responds easily.

The man begins to draw his gun on Ezra, but JD, who has been watching the whole scene unfold, immediately stands up grabbing his pistol. The card player swings his gun around and shoots JD in the upper thigh knocking the young peacekeeper to the floor. As Nathan bends down to tend JD, Inez brings out the shotgun from behind the bar and Samantha grabs Ezra’s pistol, both training their guns on the shooter. Ezra's hidden derringer snaps out from his arm rig, but seeing that things are being taken care of, he heads over to check on JD.

"Sir, we can do this the hard way or the easy way, you choose," Samantha states, pointing the pistol at the man.

The man slowly lays his gun on the table and Inez walks from behind the bar.

"Now, if you’ll follow Senorita Recillos, I believe we can find you accommodations for the rest of your visit," Samantha remarks with a grin.

Inez walks backwards out of the saloon, shotgun pointed at the man with Samantha following behind also with her gun on him.

"Let's get him to my office," Nathan says, as he and Ezra lift JD off the floor and carry him out of the saloon.

+ + + + + + +

Samantha and Inez walk out of the jail as Josiah and Vin ride up.

"What’s going on?" Vin asks, getting off his horse.

"Trouble. A man was going to shoot Ezra, but JD stood up and the man shot him instead. They are in Nathan’s clinic now," Samantha tells them.

"I would suggest you two go over there," Inez remarks, as Josiah swings down from his horse.

"The shootist is in jail, so there is no need for the two of you to stay here," Samantha states, sticking Ezra’s pistol in the back of her skirt.

The two peacekeepers begin walking to Nathan’s clinic, and Inez turns around to Samantha.

"I’m gonna go back to the saloon, you think you can handle this?" she questions.

"No problem," Samantha replies.

+ + + + + + +

"Is he going to be okay Mr. Jackson?" Ezra questions, as he helps lay the young man on the bed.

"I don’t know. Get me some rags and warm water," the healer orders.

Ezra hurries off and does exactly as the healer tells him, bringing the items over to Nathan as Josiah and Vin walk in.

"What happened?" Josiah questions, moving near the bed.

"It’s my fault, it’s all my fault," Ezra mutters, staring at the injured young peacekeeper.

"Ezra, it’s not your fault," Nathan consoles him, working on removing the bullet from JD’s leg.

"Yes, yes it is. If I hadn’t made that remark about the card game, then that man wouldn’t have pulled his gun," Ezra states, still staring at JD.

"Ezra, if Nathan says it’s not your fault then I believe him," Josiah replies, placing a hand on the conman's shoulder.

"Is he gonna be alright Nate?" Vin questions, moving over near the bed.

"It’s still too soon to tell. He’s unconscious and he lost a lot of blood," Nathan responds, turning to face the tracker.

"It’s my fault," Ezra states, in a barely audible voice, "JD’s gonna die because of me."

"We don’t know that. JD’s strong, he’ll pull though this," Vin reassures him.

Ezra shakes his head and heads for the door, tears threatening to fall.

+ + + + + + +

Samantha stands against the wall, next to the door of Nathan’s clinic, waiting for one of them to come out and let her know how things are going.

Suddenly the door bursts open and Ezra comes out. He closes the door behind him and begins going down the stairs, not noticing Samantha.

Samantha can tell he’s upset about the situation and had overheard Josiah telling him it wasn’t his fault.

"Hey Ez," she greets, pushing herself off the wall with her back.

Ezra turns around facing her after walking down a few steps but doesn't respond to her greeting.

Giving him a small smile, she tells him, "Hey, don’t beat yourself up over this, Buck will do that for you when he gets back," she says, trying to urge a smile from the gambler’s lips.

"This isn’t a joke," the peacekeeper responds, raising up his hands.

"I wasn’t making light of it, but you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself over this," Samantha states seriously.

"Why not? It’s my fault. JD is in there fighting for his life because of me," he tells her, as she is walking towards him.

"Oh really? Well, JD was just covering your back, the same thing you would have done if the roles were reversed," she remarks.

"I...well...he shouldn’t have done it..." he begins to say, then shakes his head.

"Really? Why not? That young man in there adores you, believe it or not, and he obviously didn’t want you to get hurt. Yeah, he’s young and still learning some things, just like me, but he’s your little brother in all but blood," she tells him. "You’re not the one to blame, the one to blame is the man who shot him."

Ezra looks down as tears fill his eyes, and Samantha tilts her head, looking at him in concern.

"It’s just, if he dies, then I don’t know what I’ll do. It seems everyone I've ever cared for leaves at one point and he could do the same. He really is like my little brother," the gambler chokes out, tears beginning to roll down his cheeks.

"Now, don't you worry. JD will pull through this," she assures him. "And there are five other men that are your brothers in all but blood too, just like JD, and not one of them are gonna leave you. You’re a family."

Ezra slowly looks up at that statement and takes a step up closer to her. She looks down at the gambler and gives him another small smile.

"It’s gonna be okay," she says softly.

Ezra wraps his arms around her and places his head on her shoulder. She welcomes the hug and places her arms around him, giving him a shoulder to cry on.

"It’s gonna be alright darlin’," she whispers, placing one hand on the back of his head.

+ + + + + + +

"How’s he doin’ doc?" Samantha questions, as Nathan walks out of his office a few hours later.

"Amazingly well. He’s awake and feeling better. He’s gonna pull through this after all," the healer tells her.

Samantha places a hand on his shoulder, a broad smile covering her face.

"Did you doubt that he would? I’ll go and tell Ezra," she states, then turns and walks down the stairs.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra looks up at the knock on his door and immediately walks over to open it.

He looks out to a somber faced Samantha and automatically thinks the worst.

"Oh Lord," he whispers.

"JD...he...well, he's going to pull through. He’s awake now," she tells him, looking up with a smile.

"Really?" the gambler asks enthusiastically. "That’s great."

He pulls Samantha into a hug.

"I know, but you should really go and speak with him," she states.

"I will, I will," he responds, letting her go.

She watches as he turns and heads for the stairs.

"You’re welcome," she whispers to herself, realizing that Ezra would probably not thank her for being there for him.

+ + + + + + +

"Hey son," Ezra greets, walking over to JD’s bed and sitting down next to him.

"Hey," he responds.

"So, how are you feeling?" the gambler asks.

"Better," the young man replies.

"JD, I want you to know that I appreciate what you did for me," Ezra tells him sincerely.

"Don’t worry about it Ez, you would have done the same for me," he whispers.

"That’s right I would have," the gambler replies with a grin, "Now, you get some rest, while I think of a way to tell Buck about all this."

"Ha, don’t worry about Buck. I’ll handle him," the kid replies.

Ezra places a hand on his shoulder and gives it a squeeze, then gets up and walks out.

+ + + + + + +

Samantha looks up as Ezra walks back into the saloon. Inez quietly makes her way out the back as he walks over to the bar.

"I want to thank you for...well...," he stutters.

"I know, and, you’re welcome. I’m sure you would have down the same thing for me," she states as she wipes down the bar.

"Yes well, I’m not sure what I would do without you," he tells her, sitting down.

"What’s this? The con man needing someone to rely on besides his six brothers?" she asks with a grin.

"Ha, ha, ha, what a sense of humor. You’ve been around Mr. Wilmington too much," the gambler replies, with a grin of his own.

"Nah," she responds, smiling. "Well okay, maybe just a little."

"But I do want to thank you," he says, looking into her eyes.

When she begins to shake her head, Ezra grabs her hand.

"No, really, thank you," he states.

She looks into his eyes and smiles a little.

"You’re welcome, and I’ll be here anytime you need to talk. I’m not going anywhere," she tells him.

Ezra returns the smile and gently kisses her hand. Getting up he then turns and heads up the stairs.

Samantha watches him leave, and admits to herself that once again the gambler has surprised her. Giving her head a shake, she begins to wonder just what other surprises he may have in store for her.

The End

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