Magnificent Seven Old West
Miscreant's Delight

by Mods

That little Olivia, what a darling child that had been. Ezra Standish hoped she was settling in well at Bitter Creek. He smiled fondly at the memory as he put the cards out in an even pattern on the table in front of him.

He liked children but hadn't contemplated actually having any until the safecracker's daughter had stolen his heart. Not only that, she had also at one point appropriated J.D's cufflinks and Buck's watch, the last item no less than two times. She had taken great joy in doing so too. You couldn't help but love a child with such potential.

He turned a card from the deck in front of him.

Queen of Hearts.

What a strange coincidence. Here he was thinking of little Olivia that he had such a fondness for and up came the Queen of Hearts.

He smiled as an amusing thought occurred to him. Vin had once described the seven of them as colors in a rainbow. That likeness had been beautiful, but not the way Ezra would have described them. His whole life was centered around a deck of cards - what if the people that surrounded him were playing-cards.... what would they be? For that matter, what would he be? He already had an idea about that, but was it correct?

He eliminated the lower cards from the deck and just gathered up the Jacks to Aces and placed the cards face down on the table to add a streak of surprise to his game.

He turned up the first card. King of Spades. That one wasn't very hard. That had to be Chris Larabee. Sinister, yet regal and not a man to trifle with. Ezra smiled briefly. He should have known that their illustrious leader would be the first to show.

Who would be next? He turned up the second card and was almost convinced there was something magical in the air. Queen of Diamonds - Mary Travis, had to be.
She was a sharp one but sometimes she seemed to have a rock hard surface that no one could dent even a little. Except maybe Mr Larabee. That woman could be too stubborn for her own good, but after what she had been through, who could blame her? She could fend for herself and was well suited for Chris Larabee, together they made quite a formidable pair.

Ezra frowned. Queen of Hearts, Queen of Diamonds - that would leave Queen of Spades and Queen of Clubs for Nettie Wells and young Casey. Which left nothing for his mother.

Nettie Wells had to be the Queen of Spades - dangerous old crone that she was- and since he couldn't very well leave the young sheriff's Casey out of the picture she had to be designated Queen of Clubs by the simple fact that there were no more Queen's in the deck.

Eight male cards and only four female. Hmmm, a real dilemma.

Then again his mother could only be considered a wild card, always unpredictable and with a new scheme in mind. A real ace at what she did. But what kind?

Money. Ezra smiled. Now that he thought about it the connection was obvious. Money. Clover. Maude couldn't be anyone but the Ace of Clubs.

King of Hearts, that was just as easy as King of Spades. Mr Wilmington of course. He always had an eye for the ladies. Ace of Hearts ... Nathan? Yes. Mr Jackson and him were sometimes at odds with each other because of their wildly different pasts. That didn't stop Ezra from having a deep respect for the other man who's enduring compassion was well matched by his skill as a healer. Ace of Hearts in more ways than one. Yes, indeed.

The young sheriff... Ezra gave up and spread out the remaining cards face up on the table. He had a hard time deciding if JD should be the Jack of Spades because the boy tried to emulate Chris Larabee or if he should be Jack of Hearts because of his association with Mr Wilmington. Only time could tell that one. Ezra put them both down in the same spot.

Josiah was more of a challenge. The spiritual side to him was sometimes hard to grasp but there was a tangible strength in the man's character that made him appear solid as a rock. Maybe he was the King of Diamonds?

That left Vin Tanner. Ezra frowned as he studied card after card and couldn't find a match. He just never could pin that man down and it was frightfully annoying. Ezra got the feeling that Vin acted upon the belief that people were basically the same. Some were better, some were worse while most of them were somewhere in between.

Ezra couldn't hold with that opinion. Most people were definitely worse. But a handful of people shone with the glow that only a true golden heart could bring. Vin was such a man with an inner light. A diamond in the rough. Could he be the Ace of Diamonds? Ezra put that card aside for Vin Tanner but wasn't quite happy with the choice.

That just left him now. Yes, this truly was the one - a card that confirmed the choice he'd made years ago. Selecting the other cards for his friends had made that clear to him. He flipped his last chosen card back and forth between the fingers of his right hand in a manner designed to keep his fingers quick and nimble.

Ezra studied the cards that lay before him. There they all were. All the people that mattered to him. A shadow fell over the table and he looked up to se JD Dunne standing by his side.

"Hey Ezra." JD grinned at him. "Playin' solitaire?"

"You are correct in your assumption, Mr Dunne," Ezra said as he gathered all the cards together again and placed the final card on top of the deck.

It was his calling card - the Ace of Spades.

"There," he said. "All as it should be."

And then Ezra Standish smiled wide enough that his gold tooth caught the light and sparkled like a falling star.

The End