by Estee

"I'm out," Chris said, leaning back in his chair and pulling his black robe a little tighter. Damn, what he wouldn't give for a cheroot, right about now.

Vin made a sound of disgust and tossed his cards onto the table. "I'm done, too."

Taking a sip of his lemonade, Ezra turned to gaze calmly at Josiah. "Mr. Sanchez?"

Josiah flicked his eyes at Ezra then at Vin who moved closer so he could get a look at the hand. "He'll take two," Vin said, impatiently plucking two cards out of the older man's hand.

"Geeze, Vin," JD scolded. "He can do it himself, ya know?"

Vin scowled at 'the kid'. "In case ya haven't noticed, JD, ain't none of us gettin' any younger, here."

"Well, howdy, boys."

"Buck!" JD called out happily.

"Mr. Wilmington, how nice of you to join us."

Buck grinned at his old friends, then turned to the pretty blonde on his arm and gave her a wink. "I'll see ya later, darlin'."

"I'll be back in an hour, Buck," she told him in a sultry voice, then patted him on the behind and left.

"You old dog," Chris said, unable to stop himself from grinning. Buck never ceased to amaze him.

"Ya know that gal’s young enough to be your granddaughter?" Nathan unnecessarily pointed out, as Buck sat down beside him.

Buck just grinned, waggling his eyebrows like the scoundrel he still considered himself to be. Then he sighed happily, and smoothed his white mustache. "You’re just jealous ‘cause I still got it."

JD snorted. "Maybe you still got it, but there’s probably not much you can do with it."

"Now, JD,” Buck flipped the bowler off his head, “there's no need to get ugly."

JD stared forlornly at his hat now lying on the floor. The last time Buck had knocked it off his head he’d bent down to pick it up and been stuck that way for almost an hour.

Chris cleared his throat then nudged Vin. "I think Josiah's trying to tell you something."

Vin leaned towards Josiah, glancing down at the cards in his hand. "What?" he said, grumpily.

Josiah merely blinked at him.

"What are you talkin' about? That is too a full house."

Josiah’s eyes flicked from the cards to Vin and he raised an eyebrow.

With a huff Vin snatched the cards out of Josiah’s hand. He paused to glare around the table at each man before inspecting the cards. Holding the hand out in front of his face, he squinted his eyes, then moved the hand further, then further away. "Oh," he finally said with a somewhat sheepish look. "Guess you’re right. Sorry."

"Ya know, Vin, it might help if ya wore your glasses once in a while," Nathan scolded.

"Ain’t nothin' wrong with m'eyes, Nate!" Vin snapped, glaring at the so-called healer. His eyes were as good as ever. It was the cards that were different, nowadays.

Chris patted Vin’s arm reassuringly, then looked around at all of his friends. "So, anyone feel like riding out today?" It was the same question they pondered everyday, since they’d first arrived at the Four Corners Rest Home.

"I don't know, Chris," Nathan answered first, then he yawned and blinked his eyes tiredly. "I'm feelin' a mite wore out, today."

Chris nodded and turned his head toward Vin. “How ‘bout you, pard?”

"Well, uh . . . they’rehavingchocolatepuddingforlunchtoday,” he mumbled, not making eye contact with anyone. “Um, maybe tomorrow?"

"Did you say they're having chocolate pudding for lunch today?" JD asked gleefully.

Vin glared at JD, then looked away with a shrug and nodded, his weathered cheeks turning bright pink.

“Mmmmm. . ..” JD licked his lips in anticipation. “Count me in – for the chocolate pudding, that is.” He smiled at their leader, his face looking as boyish as ever, at least in the eyes of the other six. “Sorry, Chris . . .but tomorrow’s good for me.”

Chris nodded, returning the youngest’s smile.

"I would, Chris,” Buck spoke up next, “but Miss Daisy's gonna be back in less than an hour to give me my bath.” He grinned, giving the others a knowing look. “Tomorrow should be good, though."

Vin glanced at Josiah and nodded. "'Siah says he's busy today, too. The ladies are gonna be performin’ Getting Gertie's Garter again at 3:00 and he don't want to miss it."

The rest of them couldn't help but chuckle at the wolfish grin on Josiah's face.

”Well, I guess we’ll wait ‘til tomorrow, then,” Chris said, pushing his chair back and getting slowly to his feet.

“Tomorrow,” the others confirmed in unison.

Chris paused after pushing his chair in. “Coming Vin?”

“Yep.” Vin stood up, with a little more agility, touched the brim of his hat in farewell, and followed Chris.

“Hey, where are you guys going?” JD called after them as they shuffled across the porch.

Buck whapped the side of his head. ”Where do they always go, JD?”

“Oh.” JD nodded, mildly abashed.

“The cafeteria.”

~ the end ~