azombiewrites: (The Magnificent Seven)
[personal profile] azombiewrites
Title: A Loss Of Confidence
Rating: PG
Fandom: The Magnificent Seven
Category: OW
Main Characters: Ezra and the rest of the seven.
Disclaimers: The guys are owned by CBS, MGM, Trilogy Entertainment Group, and The Mirisch Corp.
Summary: This story is based on a dream.
Spoilers: None
Status: Complete



A Loss Of Confidence


Galloping hooves pounded the Earth in a frantic effort to escape their pursuers. The animal's bodies were soaked with sweat, foam was beginning to appear on their necks and in their mouths; the horses were close to collapsing from exhaustion.

The men were as exhausted as their. They wanted to stop, but they didn’t have a choice in the matter. The men following them were relentless in their pursuit; believing they were chasing a child killer.

Chris Larabee led the small group of four that were trying to out run the hunters. He knew they were going to have to stop soon, if they didn’t, the horses would drop from under them. If that happened they were all dead men. How can one of his own be accused of killing a child, it was stupid, but so were the men that had made the accusation.

The landscape was becoming hauntingly familiar to him, and if he remembered the area correctly there should be a group of rocks up ahead that would give them enough cover for both men and horses. They were prepared to fight to the death to protect their own, but it wasn’t going to be easy. The member of the group that had been accused of murder would give himself up before he'd allowed the others to die for him.

Chris had already decided that he would tie the man down by the leg if he had to so he couldn’t escape, the arms though, would stay free so they could help fight against the group that were screaming for blood. Like Vin Tanner he was an expert shot; not that it would matter, they would run out of bullets before they were able to stop the eleven men that were after them. Eleven against four wasn’t good odds. Then again, as Ezra would be one to say, four against eleven sounded like good odds to him but Chris didn’t expect the gambler to say it today, not when it was his life that was in danger.

Chris chanced a look over his shoulder; their pursuers were getting closer, too close. He wasn’t sure if they would make it to their only chance of protection before they fell within firing range.

Their followers wanted blood and nothing was going to stop them. But they didn’t know who they were chasing. Chris Larabee was not a man to give in easily, or a man that would allow one of his friends to be hung for a crime that was committed in self defense.

He could see the group of large rocks in the distance; they were going to make it after all, unless they had even more bad luck. A shot rang out and Chris instinctively ducked, even though he knew the shooter wasn’t close enough to hit any of them. Chris looked over his shoulder again and examined his friends making sure they were okay.


Buck’s face held a look of determination, his eyes shown with the strength of anger and determination. JD’s expression held a hint of fear, he was too young to accept death, especially after what had happened in the town they had left that morning. They were informed that a posse of sorts were after them when a bullet had taken Buck’s hat.

At the time, Chris decided the best thing to do was run, there had been no cover, and a fight out in the open would only cause the deaths of himself and his three friends. Ezra’s face told him nothing, the poker face that was so familiar to them all was in place. Damn it Ezra, this isn’t the time to be hiding from us!

Chris pushed his horse just a bit harder and rode through the large gap between the first two boulders. He jumped from his horse after pulling his rifle from its scabbard and ran for cover. Three men followed his actions until they were all in a position to defend their position.

The only sound was the panting of exhausted animals. It was eerily quiet after the pounding noise that had been pummeling their ears for the last two hours.

"Chris . . . ,"

The soft voice broke the silence. Chris turned to look at the speaker. Ezra was sitting on the ground, his back against a rock that barely gave him enough cover, his knees were bent and each hand held a Remington, he was staring down at his guns.

He could tell the Southerner was trying to fight the war that was raging within him and he was loosing the battle. "What?"

"I can’t do this . . . "

Shit! They didn’t have time for this now, nit with their pursuers so close. He had to be blunt; there was no other way to do this. "Not now Ezra, we can’t deal with this now, you don’t have a choice!"

"I can’t . . . I’m sorry . . . but I can’t."

"You’re going to sit there and let us die." he had to say it, what else could he say.

"No," Ezra’s voice was full of guilt, "I’ll give myself up, they’ll let you go . . . "

"No they won’t Ezra."

"I can’t . . . I won’t let you die because of me!"

"Then fight . . ." Chris dropped to the grass covered floor when a bullet struck the rock that he was hiding behind. Splinters of stone scattered around him in an attempt to draw blood. "Damn it Ezra, help us!"

Chris couldn’t argue anymore, he didn’t have the time or the patience. He returned fire, knowing that Buck and JD were already fighting for their lives.
.
Ezra could feel his body jerk at every single sound of gunfire. He allowed his own guns to fall to the Earth, he couldn’t use them, he couldn’t take another life. He had killed a child, murdered an innocent fifteen year old. He wouldn’t fire another gun in his life. His green eyes searched the area looking for his friends, their backs were to him, they were fighting for their lives, and his worthless hide. He wasn’t worth saving and he couldn’t allow them to die for him, he had to give his life to save theirs. It was the only way they would survive.

"Chris . . . I’m giving myself up, you can’t help me now!" Ezra raised his voice so he could be heard over the gunfire.

"NO!" Chris, Buck and JD yelled in unison.

"It’s too late," Ezra stood up and faced his Judge, Jury and Executioners, "you’re not going to die to save me. I’m not worth it!"

Chris turned to find Ezra Standish standing proud, the fear of death and the unknown filled his eyes.

"Ezra get down before . . . EZRA!" Chris watched as Ezra spun around and fell to the floor with a heavy thud, dust circled then settled around the fallen gambler.

The Southerner had been struck down by one or more of the dozen bullets that had been fired in the direction of their target when Ezra had showed himself. He couldn’t tell how many times Ezra had been hit.

Chris frowned at the sudden silence that filled the air around them. They must have known they hit their target. His green eyes didn’t move from Ezra’s still form. He sensed movement beside him and reached out to grab JD’s arm.

"Wait," he turned to the young man, "they might shoot you too."

"Why?" JD tore his arm from Chris’ strong grip, "it wasn’t us they wanted dead, it was Ezra, and for what, protecting himself against some stupid kid that was trying to make a name for himself."

"Jesus JD! Don’t you think I know that?"

"Then why are we sitting here when Ezra could be dead?" Buck growled without taking his eyes off their attackers.

"Because we need to make them think that Ezra’s dead."

"And if he dies while we’re doing that?" JD asked him.

"I don’t know JD." Chris holstered his gun. "Give me some cover if they start shooting at me, and follow my lead."

Buck nodded and continued to watch the men that wanted to kill his friend. He’d had every intention of stopping them from completing their task, but he hadn’t expected Ezra to stand up in the open to be shot. Now his priorities were changing, he just wanted these men to give him enough of a target so he could shoot them, kill them for what they had done to his friend.

Chris wanted to run the short distance to Ezra but he couldn’t take the chance. He had to crawl, and he knew that Ezra could be a little closer to dying as each agonizing second passed; that’s if he wasn’t dead already. As he got closer, he could see the blood that was beginning to pool around Ezra’s head and right shoulder. He stopped and took a deep breath; he was expecting a bullet to enter his back at any moment. His hands and feet began to move again. Chris could feel his heart pounding against his chest, the fear he felt for his friend constricted his breathing.

When he was within reach, his arm stretched out to the custom made boots that Ezra always wore. The leg didn’t jerk away from his touch. Instead of moving forward, Chris took the boot within a strong grip and pulled the body towards him. His hands moved up Ezra’s leg as he continued to pull. When Ezra was level with him he rolled him over and laid his head against the gambler’s chest. The heartbeat that was strong and steady. Chris let out the breath he was holding.

He faced the others and smiled at them, letting them know that their friend was still with them. Now he just needed to convince the bad guys that Ezra was dead.

Chris took a slow breath to steady himself then stood up. His gun was aimed in the direction of the men who had shot Ezra. He fired his gun twice, making sure that he didn’t hit anyone. He wanted this fight ended, and shooting someone wasn’t going to do it.

“You son-of-a-bitch!” Chris screamed at them. “You killed him!

Another shot was fired from his gun.

“You killed him!”

Chris ducked when one of them returned fire. The bullet missed him easily. It had been a warning shot. He stood upright again and watched as they mounted their horses and rode away. The immediate danger to them was gone. All that remained was three shocked men and an injured friend.

****************************************************


The dirty face of a child, not much younger than JD stared back at him but Ezra knew the child was seeing nothing. What were once bright blue eyes were now dead orbs that saw only death. He allowed his gun to fall from his hand and fell to his knees next to the body. The gambler could hear the continuing gunfire that told him the fight wasn’t over, but he couldn’t pull himself away from the child that lay in front of him.

A child. He had gun downed a child. His friends would tell him that it was self defense and while they were right, it just didn’t make him feel any better. God, it was a young girl. How could have known?

The young girl’s hat had been pulled down low over her face, her hair was short, her clothes baggy. No, he couldn’t tell from a distance that this had been a young female. All he saw was the gun that was aimed at him. The gun had been fired but missed his skull by a hairs breath. He then fired his own in self defense.

Damn! He’d taken the life of a child and he would never forgive himself for that; no matter what the circumstances were.

****************************************************



“Ezra?”

Chris had turned to the gambler to find him awake and staring at something in the distance. No doubt a memory that he didn’t want. He moved closer so that he would be in the gambler’s line of vision.

“Ezra?”

Green eyes shifted to take in the gunslinger’s presence. “They’re gone?”

“Yeah, they thought they killed you so they left.” Chris shrugged.

Ezra nodded. “Buck and JD?”

“They’re fine, me too, and you will be.” Chris watched him. “A bullet grazed your thick skull and another went straight through your left shoulder. You were lucky Ezra and it was a stupid thing to do.”

“I know but I wasn’t prepared to allow you and the others to die protecting me for something I did.”

“It was self defence Ezra and you know it!” Chris growled at him.

“I know, Chris, but, she . . . she was only fifteen. How am I ever going to accept killing someone so young?”

“You accept because if you hadn't shot back, you would have been the one lying dead in the street.”

“If I knew, I could have injured her instead of killing her like I did.”

“When you’re fighting to survive Ezra, you don’t have time to introduce yourself and decide where you’re going to shoot them. You shoot to kill; it’s the only way to survive.”

“Yeah, but I don’t know if I ever aim a gun again.”

“What would you have done if they wanted all of us dead?” Chris sat down to make himself more comfortable.

“I honestly don’t know.”

“Like hell you don’t! What would you have done if one of them had JD in his sights? Would you have allowed him to kill JD?”

Ezra didn’t answer.

“How would you be able to live with yourself if you allowed something like that to happen to any of us?”

“I wouldn’t.”

“No, you wouldn’t Ezra. This thing is different. You were protecting yourself which is something you’ll always do and better do because if you don’t, I’ll shoot you myself.” Chris saw the determination on Ezra’s face. “Ezra, don’t you realise how guilty we would feel if you died while we were trying to protect you. We wouldn’t be able to live with ourselves because we allowed you to give up your life so easily. You risked your life here to protect us and you’ll do that again because you’re stupid, loyal and a good friend. You can live with this Ezra because you didn’t have a choice, you had to shoot. But if one of us dies because you won't pick up a gun then that you wouldn’t be able to live with because of the man you now are.”

“You’re right of course.” Ezra smiled. “Although how a man with your upbringing and limited intelligence could be right I don’t know.”

“Are you calling me stupid?”

“Would you like me to?”

“We’re leaving in ten minutes and I don’t give a damn if you’re hurting.” Chris stood up and walked away.

“Of course you do Chris; you’re too good a friend not to.”

Chris couldn’t help the smile that broke his normally angry features. Ezra would be okay. The man wasn’t stupid, he'd accepted it was self defence, but it was just going to take him a bit longer to accept who it was he had killed. And he would; there wasn’t any other choice in the matter.



The End




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