Accessory After The Fact
(Old West)

by Marns AKA Bumpkin

Author's Note: This is a ficathon offering off of livejournal written at the prompts given by Strangevisitor7. Prompt used was: Prefer humor or adventure - OW : "It seemed like a good idea at the time." with Character/Pairing being all Seven, but Ezra-centric. Rated PG with no Slash, Kink, Death, Angst, Smut. (I didn't quite make it, but know as astute readers you'll soon figure out in which part I didn't quite come up to snuff. *sigh*)
Summary: Ezra has pulled off another of his fantastic schemes... but now he needs some help dealing with the clean-up - will Vin be amiable to helping? Based in the OW. (A ficathon offering for strangevisitor7.)
Disclaimer: Not mine...
Rating: PG
Warnings (if any): Utterly and completely inane? Does that require a warning?

"Psst, Mr. Tanner, Vin, c'mere!"

Vin cocked his head as he placed the strident, but somehow still whispered, summons coming from the alley behind the Saloon. Vin hadn't recognized the voice at first, but he had recognized the mode of address - only one of the Seven ever called him 'Mr. Tanner' at first, and only then, after the formalities were observed, would use his given name - and that was Ezra Standish, their so-called Southern gentleman. Vin thought the gentleman part was debatable, even if the Southern part wasn't, but Ez was a good feller to ride with anyway, at least Vin didn't have any problems with him usually. And though he was not normally one to answer at anyone's beck and call, Vin still found himself wandering over to the mouth of the alley the call had come from, his curiosity as to what their resident conman and gambler was up to driving him.

He entered the shadowed lee between the Saloon and it's neighboring building cautiously, edging in slowly and with a hand resting on his mare's leg - he was curious, not foolhardy - couldn't afford to be foolhardy with a price on his head. 'Didn't mean he couldn't be a little reckless now and then though', thought Vin as he tried to spot Ezra in the dim confines between the overhanging buildings. But he couldn't see him from where he stood, so he moved a bit further in. Still couldn't see him. Jeez, where the hell was he? Then Vin heard a rustling sound ahead of him and around the corner.

'That's gotta be Ez,' he thought, and moved towards it while he idly wondered what the rustling sounds were all about. As he reached the little courtyard at the end of the alley Vin turned the corner and stopped dead in his tracks. He saw that it was indeed Ezra, just not the Ezra he was used to seeing. In fact, if Vin hadn't known already it was Ez he was looking for he might not have connected the person standing in front of him to the conman at all. 'Which was prob'ly the idea,' he thought wryly. Although, at seeing what was in front of him now, at least now Vin now knew why the Standishes were considered the best at what they did - that, and the mystery of the rustling sounds was more than explained.

Vin stood there blinking for a minute as he tried to figure out what was going on because what was in front of him right at that moment had him feeling more than a little shocked and amazed. Seriously, he'd had no idea that a feller could - well, he stood back and took a good long look at the other man. He raked his eyes first down, and then up, the entire length of the other man's body ending up at Ezra's furiously blushing face. Vin couldn't help it, he began to laugh. Ezra wasn't impressed.

"Mister Tanner, if you think you can get your heathen self back under some semblance of control at some point in the near future, I could use your assistance." He said sharply.

Vin just kept laughing, if anything he laughed harder. Ezra huffed exasperatedly, and Vin fell down. His legs just couldn't support him any longer. Thankfully, the wall was right there to catch him so he didn't hit the dirt. It was a near thing though and from the look in Ezra's eyes, something that could still happen.

Ezra's lips has tightened into a thin line, and his eyes had narrowed ominously. He said icily, "I am not amused, Mr. Tanner. I was hoping that since you had the inane idea for me to get into one of these wretched get-ups once before, albeit a poorly cobbled together version that was in no way comparable to a properly put together one designed specifically for me, that you might have a modicum of sense if you were ever confronted with seeing me in one again. Obviously I was sadly mistaken. I shan't bother you any longer in either case, I shall find someone else to aid me in my time of need. Good day, Mr. Tanner."

Vin managed to stop laughing and get himself back under control for the most part and reached out and to grab Ezra before he could leave, stopping him. He couldn't help some of the chuckles that were still escaping him here and there though as he said,

"Eh, Ez, don't be like that. I'm sorry. I just wasn't expecting - well hell, you gotta admit that seeing you all done up like a woman again is not exactly something a feller expects to see. Especially when this time around you did a much more convincing job of it." Vin paused for a moment his eyes again going over the figure in front of him and then continued with admiration, "A really convincing job. It's kinda scary actually. If I didn't know it was you under all that I'm pretty sure I woulda been fooled."

Ezra smiled smugly. "Ah am a Standish, Mr. Tanner, and we are the best - at least, when we have our own accoutrements anyway. I could hardly be expected to produce quality such as this when forced to make do with miscellaneous oddments provided the last time."

Vin nodded. "Alright, fair enough, but I gotta ask - why the hell are you all fancied up like a gal again anyway?"

"It seemed like a good idea at the time?" Ezra snarked at Vin. Vin didn't rise to the bait, he just kept a straight face and Ezra sighed. "Damnit, you, argh! Why do you think I did it? Not because I wanted to, this isn't exactly on my list of fun things to do, Mr. Tanner. I did it because it was the best way to get the job done. And no, before you even think of asking, it wasn't any kind of 'Woman's work' that needed to be done."

Vin cracked a grin and Ezra rolled his eyes. "Figures, that's what you found amusing - you are one of the most anomalistic men I have ever had the displeasure to meet and work alongside, Mr. Tanner."

Vin didn't answer the mostly rhetorical observation, instead he prodded again, "Still haven't told me why you got all gussied up, Ez, 'specially if it wasn't for 'women's work' as you say."

Ezra scowled at his friend and said primly, "Information. We needed it and I got it."

"Information? What?" Vin looked confused. "What are you talking about and how did you dressing up like a gal let you get it for us anyhow?"

Ezra rolled his eyes again. He said in a dry and droll tone, "Mr. Larabee, in his infinite wisdom, told me I was to get the information about what Misters James and Royal were up to in concern to the incoming Railroad. He told me to use whatever means I had at my disposal to do it, but I was to get it - no matter what." Now his voice shifted to slightly irritated as well, "Of course this left me in a bit of a quandary, as we seven are all rather too well known, as are most of the personages we associate with on a regular basis in and around our elective locality. Made it rather unfeasible to use any of us needless to say, so I had to think of something else, or rather - someone else to be our agent."

Vin nodded, he could understand that much. Well he'd got the gist anyway, he motioned for Ezra to get on with the explaining. Ezra smiled a wicked little grin and his green eyes danced. Seeing that, Vin knew what was coming was going to be good. Mainly because that particular expression was the one Ezra often wore as they conspired together to pull the various pranks they did on the others of the seven and certain townspeople. Some of which, that under the influence of Ezra, got rather elaborate, if no less fun or funny. And it looked like this little information gathering trip could also be considered one of them Vin realized belatedly as Ez began to explain, one of the more elaborate ones.

"Well you see, as I had ruled out all of us and all the trustworthy of our associates as being known, I knew I had to bring in someone who wasn't known. Someone who wouldn't be considered a threat if they showed up out of the blue requesting assistance, someone who wouldn't even be suspected if things happened while they were there and do you know who I came up with?"

"A gal?" Vin said, and indicated Ezra's current clothing, deflating the other man's dramatic oration. Ezra frowned at him and said,

"Yes, well, a woman at any rate. A respectable matron, or widow, traveling on her own, who running into difficulty, wouldn't have much trouble getting into the ranch while they rendered her aid. I surmised that they wouldn't think twice about leaving such a woman to her own devices in the house, unwatched, while they went about their business. Which would leave her ample opportunity to snoop around and gather whatever information she wanted."

"I gather yer plan worked?" Vin asked with a small smile flickering at the corners of his mouth. "You got the information that Chris wanted?"

"Yes, you know it did, and that I do, I already told you I had it, remember?" Ezra said irritated.

"Yeah, but," Vin shrugged. "Well, it seemed like the thing to say."


"So yer plan worked and you got the information that Chris wanted..." Vin said leadingly.

"Yes, as a matter of fact it did, and I did." Ezra said, again justifiably smug, and then continued mock haughtily. "Were there any doubts that any plan I devised could fail?"

Vin chuckled and simply said, "Nope, I guess not."

Ezra nodded regally, as if to indicate that thinking anything less was just not possible, but then he broke down and chuckled himself, joining Vin in his amusement. Their lighthearted mood didn't last. All too soon they had sobered and Vin said,

"Well, it's great that you got the information that Chris said we needed and all - but why did you call me over - what didja need my help with? From the sounds of things you have everything all in hand."

Ezra was quick to reply, "Make no mistake, Vin, the plan is done, the game is played out - hell, the fat lady has sung. But nevertheless, I still find myself in need of assistance now, in the final hour of play - so to speak."

Vin raised a brow and Ezra made a pained face as he clarified, "In other words, sirrah, I need help getting out of this godforsaken get-up that I have trussed myself into for the duration of the con!"

Vin snorted and asked incredulously, "Why me? Why not whoever helped you get into that mess?"

"Miss Recillos, Inez, was who helped me initially and she is rather occupied at the moment with her paying duties - superintending the Saloon. I can't ask her away from that, I have too much respect for the woman. So as I said before, I had hoped as you had suggested I dress like this once yourself, that you might not be shocked to see it again, or adverse to helping me out of it - and, Vin, I don't think I have to mention discretion to you about this, do I?"

Vin grinned. He had to admit, this situation appealed to his sense of the ridiculous. That, and he knew the others would be dying to know how Ez got the information he'd be handing over shortly - and the fact that only he, Ez and Inez would know how - was something else that appealed to him, a lot. More than enough to lend a helping hand to a friend in need and then to keep his mouth shut about it.

"Ez, you've got yerself a mute ladies maid. Lead the way."

"Oh thank God, I thought I was going to be stuck in this god awful get-up until Inez closed the Saloon for the night! Here, let's go up the back stairs, there is no way I want anyone in the Saloon to see me - someone might get the wrong idea..."

"Hell, Ez, anyone seeing the two of us going up the back stairs here with the way you look now would get a really wrong idea." Vin said with a chuckle.

Ezra shot Vin a dirty look and said acidly, "Mister Tanner, you are not helping!"

Vin started to laugh again - quietly.

- END -

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