Waiting on a Friend
By: mog (maria.mogavero@optiva.com)

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Disclaimer: Characters belong to Mirisch/Watson/Trilogy Prod/CBS-just
borrowing, not making money
Rating: G

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"Don't need no whore, don't need no fool, don't need a virgin priest
 I need someone I can cry to, I need someone to protect...
...I'm not waitin' on a lady, I'm just waitin' on a friend"
        'Waiting On A Friend' (Rolling Stones)
----
 

"Well, well, well.  Mr. Dunne said you gentlemen were on your way over to
join us."

Ezra sat with his legs stretched out, the heels of his expensive boots
resting on an empty chair at the poker table, but he moved them as he noted
the two newcomers.

"Sorry we're late, boys," Josiah responded in his soft deep voice addressing
the four men taking a break from their poker game, "Nathan insisted on
patching up one more solider before I could finally drag him with me."

Ezra shook his head in mock disgust, "I would have hoped that after all the
time we passed in each other's company some of my self-serving instinct
would have rubbed off on you."

Jackson smiled as Chris approached the table and tossed the healer a box of
matches and a cigar, "Thank ya, kindly Chris.  And no, Ezra, none a' that
selfishness worked its way over ta me.  But it was pretty obvious a while
back that some a' my aidin' instincts rolled over your way."

The gambler shot Nathan a disgusted look, "Please, don't remind me. It is
those deplorable "aidin'" instincts that have placed me in the position
where it is now physically impossible for me to attempt any form of slight
of hand."

"That's a nice way of sayin' cheatin'," Vin drawled, tipping his slouch hat
away from his eyes and exchanging a grin with Chris, who now sat next to
him.

"Not that it helps the kid any," snorted Buck, playfully knocking JD's hat
from his head,"he's still losin' just as bad."

Dunne scooped up his frequently abused bowler and resituated it over his
dark hair, "I ain't a kid, Buck."

"He's gotcha on that one," stated Chris.  "How many kids have you known that
could take out eight gunmen and prevent any of those children from being
hurt."

Wilmington couldn't believe the gunslinger was taking JD's side. "By
igniting the dynamite that was in the barn?!  Yeah, great plan, kid."

"You didn't have a problem with it at the time!" Dunne shot back.

"You didn't ask me!"

"I looked at you!  You knew what I was gonna do.  Besides you always said
you wanted to go out with a bang."

"That wasn't the kinda bang I was talkin' about!"

Nathan cast a sideways glance to the big preacher sitting next to him, "Nice
to see we didn't miss nothin'."

Chris's sharp voice interrupted the argument between his two friends, "JD?
Where's your halo?"

Ezra sank slightly lower in his chair as Buck answered, "He lost it to
Ezra."

Chris noted that the slightly tarnished gold ring that kept its spot above
Standish's head had been replaced with an iridescent one that radiated a
slight warmth.  Larabee fixed a hard look in the gambler's direction.  "Give
it back."

Ezra's mouth dropped open. "It is not my fault that Mr. Dunne was not
learned a thing about bluffin' in all the time we have been sequestered here
to the great beyond.  My days of generosity ceased the moment I departed our
world preventing Mrs. Larabee from being shot."

Chris knew the angle the southerner was trying work but he maintained his
unblinking gaze.

Ezra huffed loudly, tossed JD's halo back to him and pulled his own angelic
ring from his inside coat pocket and slipped it back in it's familiar,
slightly off-kilter position.  Shooting a glance in Nathan's direction, "And
for your benefit, Mr. Jackson, I came about that halo in a clean game.  As I
have mentioned it is impossible to conduct one's self in a less than
honorable manner here in Heaven."

Vin chuckled, "Drove him crazier than a wet skunk when he found out he
wasn't able to deal from the bottom of the deck."

Josiah took a sip of the whiskey Chris had poured for him, "Speaking of
Mary, where is she?"

"Helping some newcomers get situated," replied Chris, "She'll be at dinner
tonight."

Nathan puffed at his cigar and watched the blue smoke dissipate amongst the
other white ones.  "So whatcha boys been up to?"

"Tryin' to keep ya'll outta trouble.  If'n it wasn't for me 'n Chris you two
woulda been joinin' us a lot sooner.  Don't know what the hell you were
thinkin' that time in Sweetwater."

Josiah smiled at the tracker's irritation.  "Much obliged, Brother Vin.  We
were able to do quite a bit of good in the time since you and Chris passed.
Nathan finally became a real doctor."

" 'Course he did," blurted JD, "Ezra was the one that made sure that rich
fella, that fillen, filland-"

"Philanthropist," drawled the southerner.

"Yeah, him. Made sure that he survived till he got to Four Corners so Nathan
could patch him up."

Jackson raised his eyebrows and smiled at the obviously uncomfortable
gambler.  "Yes sir, rolled right on over in your direction."

Ezra looked at JD through slit eyes, "Thank you, JD."

A familiar, comfortable silence settled over the table as Buck called the
game and dealt out the cards.  As the men looked at the hands they'd been
dealt, Josiah raised a toast.

"Here's to keeping the faith."

The gentle sound of seven glasses clinking together was sweeter to their
ears than all the angels' singing in Heaven.  And this time, they knew that
for a fact.