Old Friends and New Information

by Katherine

Alternate Universe "Immortal 7"

In response to the "Vegas" Challenge


JD Dunne sighed quietly, resigned to losing yet another game of pool to Ezra Standish. If they’d played darts, he might still have lost, but certainly not this badly. The older immortal always played to win no matter what the game. That competitive nature combined with centuries of practice made him hard to beat.

JD sipped his beer, grateful that Joe Dawson knew he wasn’t as young as he appeared and let him drink in his bar. He liked being able to get a drink without getting hassled. Not that he ever really drank much, but it was the principle of the thing. He was nearly two hundred years old and that should be good enough to get him a beer when he wanted one, never mind that he still looked eighteen.

"You wanna play again? Best of seven?"

Ezra smiled, dimples appearing. It wasn’t a smug look although after winning three straight games it easily could have been. "If you wish."

JD nodded and moved to rack up the balls again. He was just glad they weren’t playing for money. Not really. They were playing for the bar tab. JD was pretty sure he’d end up paying it when Ezra suggested the game. He didn’t mind. The younger immortal figured he’d drank enough on Ezra’s dime over the years they’d known each other that this was the least he could do. Besides, he liked watching Ezra play pool.

The green-eyed immortal always reminded him of watching a cat. The man would focus so intently, eyes fixed, muscles taut but not overly tense, the cue moving in a smooth execution, sinking ball after ball with an effortless grace. If the man had a tail JD was pretty sure the tip would be twitching and he always looked very satisfied when the ball went where he directed it.

JD knew without a doubt he’d never be able to duplicate the way Ezra played. Oh he could understand the physics of the game, know how to site in on his target, even figure out the angles, but he would never be as ‘in’ the moment as Ezra was. What he had to work for seemed to come naturally to Ezra. That didn’t bother JD. To him it was just a game, not a life and death thing. He got the feeling Ezra saw every game as vitally important. It was just the way he was.

"Hey, Ez….can I ask you a question?"

Ezra arched an eyebrow, sipping on his scotch. "I believe you just did, Mr. Dunne." He saluted JD with his glass. "But feel free to ask another one."

JD rolled his eyes, muttering wiseass to himself as he prepared to break. "How come you never settled in some place like Las Vegas?"

Ezra cocked his head to one side. "What makes you think I would want to?"

JD straightened up from the table. He’d just assumed it was something Ezra had thought of. The man bet on nearly everything, regularly gambled in the world’s best known hot spots and had expressed a desire to own his own gaming house at one time. JD frowned trying to think of how to answer Ezra’s question when it seemed so obvious. "Well…I mean--"

"Ah yes, Las Vegas." Ezra chuckled. "Bright lights, excitement, gambling all hours of the day and night, scantily clad showgirls." Green eyes sparkled with mischief. "Yes, I can certainly see the attraction."

Ezra shrugged one shoulder. "But like anything there are the downsides."

"Downside?" JD raised both eyebrows. "To Vegas?"

"Quite." Ezra sipped his drink again, and leaned back against the wall, one elegant hand still lightly holding his cue. "They frown rather heavily on anyone but the house winning. Rather restrictive in their interpretations of what constitutes legal and illegal. Such a black and white interpretation."

Ezra made a small tsk noise, making JD laugh. He had no trouble seeing Ezra trying to find a way to buck the odds or work the system. It just seemed to be in the other man’s nature. Not that he cheated. Oh no, the man was decidedly good at games of chance. But that didn’t mean he didn’t make every effort to sway the odds in his favor.

The older immortal shuddered dramatically for affect. "And let us not forget all those Elvis Presley impersonators. God."

JD snorted, amused in spite of himself. "Oh, C’mon Ez. Those guys wouldn’t bother you if you could make money there."

Ezra tipped his head slightly and pointed his cue at JD. "True. A sufficiently large enough jackpot and I might be swayed to tolerate such nonsense. But to live there…I think not. No. Definitely not."

JD had just bent over the table again to line up his shot when Ezra spoke again. "But I do own a share in several casinos there."

JD nearly scratched the felt as his head swiveled to stare at Ezra in surprise. Ezra had talked about owning his own saloon when they first met, but as the years passed, JD figured it was something the older immortal had decided against. Somehow it had never occurred to him that Ezra might have actually bought one during the times the seven separated.

JD shook his head. "Come again?"

"I said," Ezra sipped his drink, "I own a share in several casinos there."

JD frowned. "But you just said you wouldn’t want to live there." .

"And I meant it." Ezra regarded him with a mild expression. "That does not mean it isn’t a good investment. In the end, the house always wins, JD. It is better then to own the house than to owe it."

Ezra winked at him. "And while I may not choose to live there that doesn’t mean I haven’t been there many times. It is always good to know you are welcome. Owning a piece of the place fairly guarantees a warm greeting."

JD laughed lightly. He was constantly amazed that over the years he was still learning things about his friends. Maybe that was why their friendship had weathered the passage of time so well. It was hard to get bored or take them for granted when they kept surprising you.

"You are something else. Ya know that, Ez?"

"Naturally, Mr. Dunne." Ezra waved an elegant hand toward the table. "Were you planning to break or did you want me to?"

"Keep your pants on." JD huffed. "I let you break and I won’t get to play at all."

Ezra grinned wolfishly. "I know."

JD shot him a dirty look. "Takes all the fun out of the game when you do that."

"Not for me." Ezra returned mildly, eyes twinkling.

"Shaddup." JD returned with good humor, leaning down to line up his shot and take it. The sharp crack of the cue ball hitting the others resounded in the quiet bar. JD nodded to himself pleased with the spread. Not that it really mattered since he was sure Ezra would make short work of it no matter what.

He glanced toward the clock as he backed away and settled in to watch Ezra clear the table. JD figured they’d finish this game before the others showed up. This would be good since the only tab JD would have to pay for would be what he and Ezra drank this afternoon while they waited for the others.

The rest of their group was not prone to over indulging, but that didn’t mean that between them they didn’t run up quite a bill. Ezra and Chris liked the good stuff and the others didn’t object to drinking it when someone else was paying for it. By midnight they could easily have spent more than JD wanted to cover.

He downed the last of his beer as Ezra called his last shot. JD shook his head. "Next time we’ll play darts."

Ezra raised an eyebrow. "You think that will make a difference?"

"No." JD snorted. "But at least I might stand a snowball’s chance of winning."

"You just keep telling yourself that, young one." Ezra chuckled and winked at him. "It certainly cuts down on my bar bill."

JD grimaced and raised a single finger in salute. Ezra grinned, dimples appearing. He made a sweeping bow and then gestured toward the bar. "If you would be so kind as to pick up another libation for me before the others arrive." Green eyes slanted toward the door. "They should be here in approximately two minutes."

Ezra’s ability to sense the others long before they could sense each other was well known and he was rarely ever off on his estimated arrival times. JD took his suggestion and beat feet for the bar. Buying Ezra another drink guaranteed that the older immortal would not say anything to the others about their games, the fact that he beat JD so easily, or that JD paid the bill. It was worth another shot of scotch just to not have to listen to Buck give advice, see Vin smirk, or have Josiah, Chris and Nathan shake their heads in bemusement.

All those things aside, if the others knew about what they did while they waited for them to show, JD suspected his ‘quality time’ with Ezra would cease. And he honestly liked spending time with Ezra. JD learned far more about Ezra, as well as from him, than he did at any other time. Losing a few games and having to pay for the drinks were small prices to pay to continue learning new things about his long time friend.

Ezra and JD were seated at the seven’s usual table when the others arrived. When Josiah apologized for their tardiness explaining that things at the mission where he and the others had been spending the day took a bit long than they’d planned, Ezra stopped him with a smile. "Please, Mr. Sanchez, that is not necessary. Such things often take longer than expected."

"You guys been waitin’ long?" Vin asked, as the others took their seats.

"No." Ezra answered smoothly. He traded a small look with JD that went unnoticed by the rest. "Not long at all."

JD sat back and sipped his beer, hiding his smile. He would never be able to lie with the same degree of ease Ezra did, which was why he let the older immortal do the talking. It had taken him awhile to understand and appreciate it, but he’d come to realize that sometimes the only way to keep the peace was to keep a few secrets. He caught Ezra’s eye and raised his glass slightly in a small acknowledgement. Ezra responded with the same.

Buck, in his usual boisterous fashion rubbed both hands together and called out, "Who’s buying?"

JD gave Ezra a sly look, fighting not to laugh, thinking he knew what was coming.

Ezra arched an eyebrow and smirked. "Why, Mr. Wilmington, thank you so much for volunteering. I’ll have another scotch. As will Mr. Larabee, I imagine, since he favors it as well." Ezra waved a hand, dimples appearing suddenly. "Oh really, you might as well make it a clean sweep."

Ezra turned his head to call out to Joe before Buck could respond. "Mr. Dawson, scotch all around. Put it on Mr. Wilmington’s tab, if you please."

At Buck’s sputtering response, JD burst out laughing, as did the others. He was damn glad not to have to cover that tab. The tab he’d paid earlier wasn’t even a third of what Buck would be covering. And JD had gotten the bonus of getting to know Ezra a little better. That was more than worth it.


Facts of Life

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