Chapter 1: Web of Lies - Chris/Ezra
Ezra loves the world of lies and the challenges it brings.
Mag7bingo: Ezra: Telling the Truth
Game of Cards Challenge 08: You Can't Stop Me by Guano Apes
Ezra smiled as he looked down from the bluff, saluting the others. He still didn't know what had possessed him to turn back and save the others when he could have carried on riding towards his next destination and a new mark. He was a conman, a gambler, spinning lies in to a spider's web of deceit. These men were nothing to him and he'd never before had the urge to stop and look back at the shadows racing up behind him. He'd always had his focus on the horizon ahead, his eyes raised to the sky, looking for that moment when he would fly so high and have all he dreamed; riches beyond his wildest imaginings.
Except Ezra had a very vivid imagination.
The children had told him about the gold mine but it was a bust - played out decades before - and the tiny amount left would be expensive to mine and wouldn't cover the cost of the bullets he'd use protecting these people and defending the mine. Yet after only a moment's hesitation he had turned back upon hearing the gunshots and cannon fire, possibly towards his own death.
Later, once the bullets had stopped flying and the enemy was beaten, Ezra had looked at the ragtag group of men.
Each of them was so different from the others he could see no reason why they would want to stick together, but he imagined he could feel some cosmic force connecting them, like seven parts making up a whole. At least that was the lie he told himself as they rode back towards the small frontier town where they'd all come together. Later still, after he retired to a plain but comfortable room above the saloon, he lay down on his bed and let the lies drop away.
His thoughts turned to the mysterious, dark-clad Chris Larabee, recalling the way the light glinted off sun-kissed hair. He focused on the green eyes, running hot and cold, giving glimpses of a tragic past and intriguing future. Larabee wasn't a gambler at the tables but he played the odds daily, fingers as agile with a gun as Ezra's were with a pack of cards. Ezra had seen that spark of interest in his eyes though, one Ezra had read on other men's faces in the past, as if their kind could read each other and see beneath the masculine layers to a kind of want that most considered an abomination.
Ezra smiled up at the yellowing, cracked ceiling, letting the truth have its say. Chris Larabee intrigued him. Perhaps, at any other time or place, Ezra would have ridden away as fast as his horse could carry him as nothing but trouble had ever come from such desires, but here and now he knew he wanted to take a gamble.
The world was full of lies, and he loved weaving the webs almost as much as he enjoyed picking apart the lies to reveal the gold nuggets of truth, and Chris Larabee was a perfect challenge for both.
Chapter 2: Burning Ambition - Ezra
Ezra fights his own monster. Missing Scene from Serpents.
Mag7bingo prompt: Missing scene
gameofcards challenge 08: Face The Fire by Michelle Chamuel
The money called to him, like embers smoldering in his thoughts, slowly building heat and catching fire. Ten thousand dollars. Passion, greed, avarice, insanity. Call it by whatever name, he thought he had put that monster to sleep after he confronted his mother and basically told her he would rather be poor and with these six men than sitting high and rich on some gambling boat on the Mississippi, all alone. They'd given him the stability he'd never had growing up; a sense of belonging, of family. They used his talents for good rather than to con honest people out of their hard earned money.
Not that he was averse to taking money off a man stupid enough to gamble away his trail pay - as long as the only one losing was the man in question and not a wife and children living in fear and poverty. There was no victim here. No starving child or impoverished wife.
Ten thousand dollars could buy him an expensive suite on a paddle steamer and a seat at any game on-board. He could turn ten thousand dollars into twenty thousand, or into fifty thousand. He could become rich beyond his wildest imaginings, fulfilling every dream and ambition since his very first con.
They all had their daemons riding them, and Ezra could see his own daemon staring back at him in the mirror, pulling him closer to the edge, inflaming his mind with possibilities. His stared hard at himself, the heat coiling in his belly out of want and desire, daring him to reach for the fire and burn with new ambition. He let it whisper its poison into his brain until he could no longer see or think of anything but the money, until he lost his mind and stuffed every pack into his shirt, mind fixed on reaching his horse, of riding into a new life of wealth.
Halfway across the packed street a man brushed into him and Ezra caught a reflection off a glass eye. He thought of Chris and the others in danger, of losing the only people who had ever truly given a damn whether he lived or died, and the fire raging inside him died as if hit by iced water, sending the monster back to sleep as he turned back to help his friends.