The Nesting Instinct

by MMW

Part of The Friendship Collection

Notes: Many thanks to Phyllis for her help with this.

Ezra stopped and stood in the doorway to his room. As he looked over the contents it struck him that he had been in the same room for two years. That was eighteen months longer than he had ever been anywhere else in his life.

Releasing the knob of the door, he continued to stand and stare at the room as flashes of the past two years played in his mind. The Indian village, the battle with Maude, the day he let duty win out over his greed. Slowly he realized that this place, this town, had become his home.

At this realization, his throat clenched shut forcing him to close his eyes and concentrate on relaxing so he could take another breath. When he once more had control of himself, he reached for the door to his room, closed it and then turned toward the stairs, needing nothing more than to get a good, stiff drink.


Stepping into the saloon, Josiah headed straight for the bar and asked for a glass of beer. It had been a long, hot day of repairs to the church and patrolling the area. Something wet was just what he needed.

Drinking down about half the glass, he closed his eyes and sighed as the parched feeling faded slightly. As he rested his elbow on the bar, he looked around the saloon, taking in the occupants.

His gaze stopped on a solitary figure in a dark, back corner. A frown marred his face at the sight. For in that far, dark corner, sat not Chris Larabee, as he would have expected, but instead, Ezra Standish.

Rising up to a standing position, Josiah made his way through the chairs and patrons to the small back table where his friend sat alone, save for a bottle and a glass.

Without asking, the former preacher settled into one of the chairs at the table, relieved to see the bottle was mostly full. “Ezra,” he greeted, his deep voice as soft as a down pillow.

Green eyes blinked and then focused on the new arrival. “Mr. Sanchez,” Ezra greeted, trying hastily to collect himself, silently cursing the lapse that had allowed Josiah to arrive unnoticed. “How may I be of assistance?”

Josiah settled back in his chair and smiled. “I have a friend,” Josiah began, “and he seems rather distracted tonight. I would love to help him, but don’t want to intrude where I’m not wanted.”

Ezra smiled at his friend’s not-so-subtle question. The truth was, he was at a point where he could use another perspective. “I believe your friend would appreciate the assistance,” he replied, and watched Josiah relax into his chair. “We have been riding together for two years now,” Standish stated.

“That we have,” Josiah agreed, his voice filled with warmth and affection as he thought of his friends. Studying the gambler’s face, he asked, “Does that bother you?”

Looking into the former preacher’s eyes, he honestly replied, “Not as much as I thought it would.” Seeing the other man’s slight surprise, he continued. “I too thought that would be the problem, but I find myself almost content to know I have found a place to stay. What has been puzzling me is why.”

“Why?” Josiah repeated, not entirely sure he understood what was bothering Ezra.

Seeing he would need to clarify himself, Ezra allowed his eyes to roam around the room and finally toward the window where he spotted JD and Buck talking to each other in their normal, animated way. “Yes, why,” he reiterated.

Josiah watched as the Southerner’s eyes wandered around the room and finally came to rest on their two friends outside. He was beginning to understand.

“I have come to terms with the fact that I am not bothered by remaining in this… pathetic excuse for civilization, but I find myself wondering why it doesn’t bother me.”

Understanding his friend’s question, Josiah tilted his head to the side as he considered his answer. In truth, he was relieved to hear Ezra say he had accepted this as his home and was content to stay. But he understood the younger man’s need for an answer as to why he was content to stay in one place when his whole life had been nothing but constant movement. A smile graced Sanchez’ face as the answer came to him. Turning his attention to his friend, his smile remained as he took in the bent head staring into the glass of whiskey. Without preamble he revealed his insight, “William Blake once said, ‘The bird a nest; the spider a web; man friendship.’”

Ezra’s startled eyes rose to meet the blue ones now looking at him with understanding. Slowly, the meaning of the words began to seep through his mind and into his heart. A smile appeared on his face as he took the words deeply within himself. Yes, Josiah had found the reason.

Raising his half-filled glass, Josiah proposed a toast, “To home.”

As he lifted his own glass, Ezra added, “And the friendships that make it so.”