When the Dealing's Done

by Laura H.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own the characters from “Magnificent Seven,” nor am I making any money from this. I also do not own Kenny Rogers' “The Gambler.” The Las Vegas AU was created by Sarah, Lisa & Rhonda, and I thank them for letting me play in it.


To say Ezra was having a bad night at the table would have been to say that the sky was blue. He wasn't losing consistently, but he wasn't winning any of the big pots, either. In fact, he hadn't taken in a pot over twenty dollars all evening while JD, of all people, had literally been raking in the cash. The casino's pit boss had examined every angle he could possibly think of. As far as he could tell, JD was not cheating nor were any of the others helping him. Not that he would ever really expect the younger man to cheat – it wasn't in JD's nature. But hell, he thought, something must be going on.

"Damnit, JD," growled Buck as the youth pulled in another pot. "You got some little computer gadget helping you count cards or something?"

"Counting cards doesn't really work in 5 card stud, Buck," answered JD with a grin.

"Perhaps it is just JD's night," said Josiah, settling back. "Karmic rewards for all his hard work this week."

"In that case," said Vin quietly, "I should win a weekend with Shania Twain and Ezra should win every lottery in the country." The week had been hard. A semi-national poker championship had taken up the majority of the Montecito's time, energy and staff. Ezra had barely slept as he was needed for on-floor security for the tournament and JD and Vin had taken turns focusing specifically on monitors for the poker tables. A grand prize of 1.2 million dollars called for a lot of security.

"I concur, Mr. Tanner," said Ezra, tossing in his ante as Nathan shuffled and dealt out the cards. "Perhaps young Mr. Dunne could use his karmic sensitivity and valuable computer skills to arrange -"

"Don't even think about it," Chris cut in. Ezra shrugged. They continued to play and while everyone else seemed to at least break even, Ezra's luck just went further downhill. Finally, around midnight, he realized he was down to the last few hundred dollars that he had allotted himself to gamble with. Soon, JD, Ezra and Nathan were the only ones still involved in the hand.

"Raise you twenty," said JD, throwing out the bills. Nathan sighed.

"You just keep right on raising, JD," Nathan said as he pushed his cards into one pile in his hand. "But I ain't biting." He threw his cards down and pushed back. "I fold."

"Too much for you, Ezra?" JD asked, grinning. It was seldom, if ever, that he had this kind of luck with the cards and he was obviously enjoying it.

"Hardly, Mr. Dunne," replied the southerner, winking. "I will see your raise and raise it another hundred of my own." The other five men whistled in appreciation. Chris met Vin's eye. The ex-Texas Ranger made the slightest motion of his head and Chris nodded.

"Wow, Ez... You must have a heck of a hand." The youngster counted out the money. "But, so do I. I'll see your hundred and raise you... What've you got left?" Standish straightened.

"JD, JD... you watched Kenny Rogers' "Gambler" far too many times. That is such a rudimentary bluff it is hardly worth mentioning."

"You didn't answer him," said Buck, taking a swig of his beer.

"Careful, son," said Josiah to Ezra. "Don't get ahead of yourself." Ezra raised an eyebrow and counted out his remaining cash.

"Forty-two dollars," he said, laying it down on the considerable pile at the center of the table. JD counted off the same amount and added it to the pot, still leaving a great deal of money in front of him. Chris couldn't help himself - he leaned forward, as did the other men, to watch the men reveal their cards.

"Go on, JD, show them winning cards," said Buck with a smile.

"Yes, Mr. Dunne. Please, feel free to reveal your hand," added Ezra. The younger man smiled and began to lay his cards down, one by one. Nathan let out a slow whistle as JD laid down the last card that completed his hand: the 10, Jack and Queen of hearts with the King and Ace of spades. Ezra stared at the cards and then slumped back into his chair, his head thumping on the table.

"Sorry, Ezra," said JD, the sentiment highly countered by the light tone of his voice. "But sometimes you just have to know when to when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em." JD reached out to rake in the pot as Chris passed a ten-spot to Vin in agreement to the silent bet they'd made earlier. Just then, Ezra's hand sprang out and settled on JD's.

"Exactly," he said. With is free hand, Ezra turned over his own cards - 10 through Ace, all diamonds. Buck cursed and Josiah just laughed while Nathan shook his head. Chris smiled and beckoned the ten-spot back into his pocket from Vin. Ezra smiled, the stress of the week leaving him as he raked in the pot and stood.

"Where you going?" JD asked. "We could play another hand."

"No, Mr. Dunne. You should always know when to walk away and know when to run." Ezra tipped an imaginary hat to them and walked into Chris' kitchen for another beer. Chris just smiled as he head Ezra continuing to sing while he stuffed his money into a pocket. "You never count your money when you're sitting at the table, they'll be time enough for counting when the dealing's done."



The Las Vegas Chronicles