(Old West)

by Cyc

When his morning's work trembled slightly with the rhythmic footfalls of someone entering the sheriff's office, Ezra looked up from his efforts to find Chris squinting at him.

"Busy?" he asked in such a way that Ezra had to raise an eyebrow at the sarcasm.

"Think of it as testimony to my exaltation," Ezra replied ruefully while carefully steadying the top tier of his rather impressive playing card tower. "A monument to the rewarding career in law enforcement in which I find myself."

"Don't look like you're enforcing much." Chris cast a critical eye over the empty, dusty room.

"Oh contraire, Mr Larabee, for, with the aid of a few well-aimed missiles, I have not only once but twice thwarted that mangy grey canine's attempts to relieve itself in our doorway. And, between you and I, I would go so far as to suspect that reprobate of a kitchen boy employed across the street of encouraging the creature into doing its dirty work."

"Is that a fact?" Chris looked singularly unimpressed. "How about going so far as getting yourself a mop and bucket and doing some of the dirty work around here instead of leaving it for the next shift?" He scowled pointedly at the bloody tracks left on the floor by one of last night's drunks. "It won't hurt you to break a sweat, Ezra."

"Do I detect a note of peevishness? Of ill-feeling, perhaps, because Mr Sanchez's attempts to make me work were as fruitless as Mr Jackson's?" Ezra asked lightly. "Or do you merely desire to see me perspire? If that's the case, Chris, I'll be more than happy to accommodate you. But, of course, you'll have to effect my emancipation first." He grinned brightly.

Chris studied Ezra for a long moment, raising Ezra's hopes -- among other things. "I suppose I could find someone to take the rest of your shift," Chris began ponderously then gestured towards Ezra's cards with a shrug. "But I wouldn't want to cut you off in your prime." He smirked. "Looks like you've got a ways to go yet." He turned and walked out the door.

Ezra blinked, flustered for a heartbeat before calling out after him, "That was not kind, Mr Larabee. That was not kind at all!"


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