azombiewrites: (The Magnificent Seven)
[personal profile] azombiewrites
Title: Look to your right, Mr. Standish
Sequel to Look to your left, Mr. Larabee
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.
Notes: My third story for the [livejournal.com profile] 10_hurt_comfort challenge. The original table can be found here.
Table: Injuries
Prompt: No. 8 – Unconscious
Summary: Ezra’s quiet, distracted and the rest of the seven are afraid that he’s losing his mind
Spoilers: None
Status:  Complete



Part One


Outside a storm boiled with rage.

Thunder echoed through the dark sky causing the window to rattle in its frame. Lightning flashed, peeking through the gaps between curtain and window, illuminating the man lying face down on top of the bed. With each explosion of thunder, the man’s body jerked, the fingers of his right hand gripping the bed covers just a little bit tighter.

Ezra Standish rolled onto his back, his right hand moving with him until it rested on his chest and pressed the left side of his face deeper into the pillow. Another flash of lightning revealed the pale features covered in sweat. A grimace forced a bead of sweat to travel down his right cheek, over his jaw and down his neck until it disappeared beneath the collar of his white shirt. Ezra’s eyes moved quickly beneath the closed lids and a whimper of fear escaped through his partially opened lips. His right knee lifted a few inches off the bed, the heel of his boot tugging at the bed’s covers, and then dropped back down.

“Look to your right, Mr. Standish. Look to your right, Mr. Standish. Look to your right, Mr. Standish. Look to your right, Mr. Standish. Look to your right, Mr. Standish. Look to your right, Mr. Standish. Look to your right, Mr. Standish.”

Ezra bolted upright, drawing his left leg upward until the heel of his boot rested beneath his right knee, turned his head to the right and stared at the wall as though he were looking for something. He blinked slowly, narrowed his eyes and tilted his head to the right. He listened, waiting for the voice to repeat itself but it didn’t. His body shuddered once before he became fully awake.

A strong feeling of déjà vu overwhelmed him.

It had to be a dream. Either that or he was going crazy. Ezra lay back down on the bed and lifted his left arm, laying it over his eyes. His breath quickened and his chest became tight with a fear he couldn’t understand. He lowered his arm and let if fall beside him. He didn’t know why, and he didn’t understand why, but like many times over the last few days, he turned his head to the right and waited. He expected something to appear in front of him, a person to explain the persistent voice that had been speaking to him in the recess of his mind for more than three days. There was only darkness, broken by the occasional flash of lightning. His eyes drifted shut and he forced them back open; they fought him, eventually closing as sleep claimed him, the nightmares continuing to haunt him as the night wore on.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Outside the storm continued to threaten, the air tainted with moister and yet no rain fell from the dark clouds.

Ezra walked down the stairs, his body slow, his limbs heavy and his movements awkward. He felt empty and yet numb at the same time, all other emotions having left him sometime during the night. Something had happened, a nightmare that he couldn’t remember. A voice that came and went, whispering to him, warning him; was it a warning, he wasn’t sure. Maybe, he was losing his mind. But deep down, hidden where he couldn’t quite reach was a feeling that told him this might have happened before. It would explain the strong sensation of déjà vu.

He almost tripped over his sluggish feet, grabbing the handrail at the last minute to keep himself upright. The strong urge to look to his right took control and his head turned, his eyes seeing only the wall and nothing else. Ezra felt himself cringe at the sound of thunder. The lack of control over his own body made him feel nauseous.

When he reached the bottom of the stairs, he made his way to a table, and he had to use every ounce of his remaining energy to keep his eyes looking forward and not toward the right. It felt as though someone had wrapped their hands around his skull and was trying to force him to turn his head to the right to see something that wasn’t there. Whatever was happening scared him and it was an unwelcome emotion.

The Gambler was unaware of the patrons who stepped around him, giving him the room to manoeuvre between the tables that littered the saloon floor. They stared at him as he passed, some of them pointing at him then whispering to others that Standish had gone crazy, and after days of staring at nothing, the man had finally snapped.

Ezra saw his friends without really seeing them, they acknowledge his presence but he was unable to greet them, he was concentrating so hard. Pain was quickly growing behind his eyes, not quite a headache, but something else, and it was much more painful, much more unbearable than any headache he had ever felt before.

“Ezra?”

Someone took him by the left elbow and led him to a chair he didn’t see. They forced him into it and then there was a grip, gently forceful, moving his head away from the right and his gaze toward Nathan Jackson.

“What’s wrong?” Nathan asked, looking into Ezra’s bloodshot eyes before taking in the pale sweaty features of the Southerner.

Ezra frowned in confusion, not sure what to say, or if he could even talk. “I...” Ezra blinked a number of times, the pain withdrew and his eyes focused. He looked around, finally seeing Nathan who sat beside him on his left, Josiah who sat on his right, and Buck who was sitting opposite him. All three were staring at him, and none of the three men could keep the fear from their faces.

“You look like all kinds of crap, Ezra,” said Buck. “Death warmed up, but worse.”

Ezra frowned and looked down at his clothing. The red jacket and white shirt, not only covered with smudges of dirt but also wrinkled and untidy, his cravat was lose, and the top two buttons of the shirt he had yet to tuck into his trousers, were undone.

“Ezra?”

“Hmm?”

“What’s wrong?” Nathan repeated, even though he wasn’t sure Ezra would hear his words, or even understand them. The Southerner had been distracted of late, quiet and confused but physically he had been fine, until now.

“For a moment there, I had the strangest feeling.” He realized that Nathan still held his chin in a firm grip and he pulled away, touching the area on his jaw before letting his hand drop to the table. “It’s gone now, but I could almost hear...”

“Hear what, Ezra?” Nathan had allowed Ezra to pull away from him, but he leaned in close, watching Ezra carefully, afraid that the gambler was about to collapse. He was ready, waiting for the inevitable – for Ezra to finally, after three days, fall.

“I had the strongest feeling of déjà vu.” He looked from Nathan to Josiah. “I know that it sounds crazy but it’s--”

“It’s what?”

Nathan’s words no longer registered. The voice was back, stronger than before.

“Look to your right, Mr. Standish. Look to your right, Mr. Standish. Look to your right, Mr. Standish. Look to your right, Mr. Standish. Look to your right, Mr. Standish. Look to your right, Mr. Standish. Look to your right, Mr. Standish.”

Ezra did his best to ignore it, the struggle causing the pain to grow. He grimaced, raised his left hand and used the fingers to rub his forehead, hoping it would ease the pain. It continued to grow as the voice grew in volume. A gasp of pain escaped his lips and he leaned forward, both of his hands now pressed against his forehead. Hands gripped his upper arms forcing him back against the chair while others tried to pull his hands away from his head. The pain continued to grow. It felt as though something had pierced his skull, crawling through it and out the other side. He tried to pull his knees up, banging them against the underside of the table. The glass of beer sitting in front of Buck fell over, its contents spilling onto the table and then running off the edge, dripping onto the sawdust covered floor. All four men ignored it.

“Ezra!”

A sudden rumble of thunder and the pain was gone.

Ezra didn’t have the strength to fight the person holding his arms and he allowed them to pull his hands down into his lap. He couldn’t see very well, there was light, but no images. A sudden fear gripped his heart, and then he realized he had closed his eyes. Before opening them, he slowed his breathing, and tried to force the fear and tension from his limbs. There was something seriously wrong.

“Ezra?”

The person who spoke to him was close enough for Ezra to feel their breath on his face. Maybe the voice belonged to the person who had been speaking to him over the past few days, repeating the same words. Ezra turned his head to the right, and stared at the blurred image in front of him. He narrowed his eyes in an attempt to bring the image into focus and for a moment, he thought he saw a crow. He could even hear its wings beating, and see its black eyes staring back at him.

“Chris?”

Josiah looked past Ezra at Nathan who could only stare back at him with the same fear mirrored in his eyes.

Buck spoke, breaking through the shock and fear that surrounded the table. “If he starts talking about how there’s death amongst us and how Chris should look to his left ... we are in a heap of trouble.”

Ezra felt the tremor start low in his feet before working its way up through his body. He gripped the edge of the table, his knuckles turning white. He clenched his jaw shut and forced his eyes closed. A few moments later, his body stopped shaking. Ezra felt his fear grow, and suddenly he needed to get away from these men and the way they were staring at him. He needed to feel the fresh air on his warm skin. He pushed his chair back and stood up.

Nathan and Josiah stood with him.

“I need to...” Ezra forced his way past Josiah only to find his way blocked by Buck. “I need to...” He looked over Buck’s shoulder toward the doors that led to the outside world. The voice nagged at the back of his mind, eating away at his sanity. Ezra lowered his head, tilted it toward the right and listened.

“Ezra,” said Buck, “what you need to do, is sit down and let Nathan take a look at you.”

Ezra didn’t hear him. The only voice he heard was the one that was telling him to look to his right. He gritted his teeth and tried to force the voice to stop. Pain shot through his skull and he gasped.

“Ezra.” Buck grabbed Ezra’s shoulder and tried to lead him back to a chair.

Ezra pushed Buck away and moved as quickly as could, stumbling through the batwing doors and stopping just outside the doors. Ezra turned to his left, his intention to sit at the table on the boardwalk.

Lightning flashed and the thunder exploded above him but it couldn’t drown out the sound of the voice inside his head; it yelled at him, telling him to look to his right.

“Look to your right, Mr. Standish. Look to your right, Mr. Standish. Look to your right, Mr. Standish. Look to your right, Mr. Standish. Look to your right, Mr. Standish. Look to your right, Mr. Standish. Look to your right, Mr. Standish.”

Ezra’s head snapped to the right, the feeling of danger so strong he pulled his Remington from its holster and held it down against his thigh. His feet moved slowly as he stepped off the sidewalk and walked forward, stopping only when he reached the middle of the street and the voice in his head became silent. The thunder continued to sound like a drum, beating an awkward rhythm in the sky and the lightning flashed an accompaniment to the music of thunder.

For a moment, he thought everything was okay and then the pain tore through his skull. Sweat erupted from his pores, his breathing became erratic and his heart began to pound against his ribs. The Remington fell from his fingers, his eyes rolled toward the back of his head, his knees buckled and he fell, collapsing onto the ground in the middle of the main street.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Outside the clinic, thunder exploded and lightning flashed but there was still no rain.

The walls of the clinic shook with the sound of the unrelenting thunder and the moisture continued to sit heavily in the air like a thick blanket. Each flash of lightning filled the clinic through the window behind the large bed, exposing the fear and worry on the six faces who watched as Ezra, once again, went into a seizure.

Ezra’s shoulders, back and hips arched off the bed, forcing the back of his head deeper into the pillow. He gripped the sheet that covered his body with his fingers, pulling it and twisting it, rubbing the material against his skin and his bare heels began to scrape against the mattress. His movements gave the impression that he was trying to escape from something that he feared would hurt him, possibly kill him. His jaw clenched so tight, the veins in his neck stood out under his pale skin. A sound, so full of pain, began deep in his throat, working its way through clenched teeth out into the open, growing until his mouth finally opened, letting out a scream, the sound duelling with the thunder. Tears fell from behind his closed eyes. The scream ended suddenly, but the whimpers of fear that followed were just as shocking.

The six men surrounding the bed could do nothing to help Ezra, and the helplessness they felt angered each one of them. They watched in sympathy, hoping that like last time, after it was all over, Ezra would have no memory of what he had gone through.

Nathan shifted his own position on the bed, giving Ezra room to move. The convulsions had become a familiar but still frightful sight. The Gambler had suffered from them continually since they had brought him to the clinic three hours earlier. Nathan sighed, the sound reflecting his anger, and began to wipe the sweat and tears away from Ezra’s face with a damp cloth, his hands gentle in their touch.

The Healer relaxed slightly when Ezra’s body dropped back onto the mattress, his limbs becoming still once more. But Nathan couldn’t fully relax because he knew that another seizure would arrive soon, resulting in the same performance from Ezra, the same scream reverberating within the clinic, the same whimpers of fear that scared the crap out of all of them.

Nathan shook his head, “I don’t know if this is like the last time.” He looked sideways past Ezra’s motionless form toward Chris who was sitting in a chair on the other side of the bed. There was a fear in the gunslinger’s eyes and restlessness in his body that kept him from being still. His hands were shaking and his feet constantly moving, even more so when a seizure overtook Ezra’s body. “There weren’t any seizures before. It could be that he’s sick.”

Chris wasn’t so sure. “You’ve seen how he’s been acting over the last few days. It’s the same thing, but this time it’s different and it’s a lot worse.”

Nathan nodded even though he didn’t really agree with what Chris was saying and looked back down at Ezra. He wiped Ezra’s face and chest before throwing the cloth into a bucket of water sitting on the floor, its contents spilling over the edge of the bucket onto Nathan’s boots. “Maybe, but either way I still can’t do anything to help him and I don’t know how to stop the seizures.”

Josiah, who was standing next to Chris, moved closer to the bed, wiped a hand across Ezra’s forehead, feeling the heat, and grimaced when Ezra turned his head away from him. “He’s too hot. Do you think his fever is responsible for the seizures?”

“Could be but I’m not so sure. His fever is high but it’s not dangerous. If I could bring the fever down, which I haven’t been able to do and the seizures stopped... I don’t know,” said Nathan. “He was okay last time and if this is the same thing, which I’m not sure that it is,” he shrugged his shoulders, “maybe he’ll be okay this time.”

“But for how long?” Josiah asked him.

Nathan could only shake his head.

“Last time someone kicked him in the head,” Buck lifted his eyes and stared at Ezra before tightening his grip on the brass bedpost and continuing, “I don’t remember anyone kicking him in the head before all this started up again. I remember the other day he was talking about Maude...” Buck waved his hand in the air. “Anyway, he just stopped talking, got this glazed look in his eyes and turned his head away. Stayed like that for a couple of minutes and then he was fine. Been like that ever since, getting worse with each day. Fine one minute, acting strange the next. But this morning he was really bad and when I saw him collapse like that, I thought that he...” He refused to admit what he was thinking, what he had feared when he saw Ezra fall.

“It’s that lack of injury that makes me think he’s sick,” said Nathan.

“He’s not sick, Nathan.” Chris stood up and began to pace the crowded room.

JD quickly moved forward and sat down in the now vacant chair.

“He’s fucked then,” said Vin.

Everyone but Ezra looked at Vin who stood beside the bed near Nathan.

Vin shrugged but didn’t apologise, “If this started on its own like Buck said and no injury caused the way he’s been acting, means this thing can happen whenever it wants to ... again ... and again.”

“Shit,” Chris muttered before looking back at Ezra.

Thunder exploded and Ezra convulsed on the bed, his body bending almost toward breaking point. Nathan placed his hands on Ezra’s shoulders and tried to push him back down but like every other time, Ezra’s body was rigid, unmovable. Ezra screamed but his voice was now hoarse, weak.

A couple of minutes later when it was over, JD said, “Has anyone noticed that he does that every time there’s thunder.”

“Yeah,” Vin nodded. “I didn’t say anything because it sounded...”

“Crazy?” Buck tried to smile. “That’s because it is crazy. This isn’t natural, there’s something strange going on here. Something that seems to want to protect one of us and it’s using Ezra to do it.”

“Why?” Josiah sat down on the edge of the bed close to Ezra’s left shoulder. JD shifted his chair to give Josiah the room he silently requested. “There are seven of us and we can protect each other. We always have. Whatever’s happening here, there is no reason to put Ezra through this.” Josiah wanted to touch and comfort his friend. His large hand drifted past Ezra’s face but there was too much fear in Josiah to touch Ezra’s fevered body.

“What if he is sick? What if there is something wrong with his brain. He could be going crazy,” said Nathan. “And we’re all just sitting here watching him get worse instead of getting him the help he needs.”

Josiah glared at Nathan. “Don’t say that! He’s not sick. This is just like last time. The way he's been acting tells us that and just like last time, he’ll come out of it and he’ll be fine.”

“We have to consider it, Josiah.” Nathan stood up and stepped back, bumping into Vin who refused to move out of his way.

“You still want to put him away, Nathan?” Vin asked him. “Like last time?”

Nathan stepped around Vin when he realised the man wasn’t going to move. “I didn’t want to put him away, not last time. If you remember, I was the one who said we could take care of him. It’s just that this time...”

“This time, what?” Vin stepped into Nathan’s personal space.

“This time he’s a lot worse. I mean look at him. He wasn’t knocked out, he collapsed, he’s seizing, Vin. I stopped counting the seizures when it happened for the tenth time. Do you know what that could be doing to his brain? He’s screaming, the pain must be so bad and you all just want to sit here and wait to see if he comes out of it,” said Nathan as he looked at each man seeing the mirrored expressions of anger and fear. Even JD was looking at him with fury written on his young face. It made him angry that they wouldn’t listen to him. He raised his hands up and said, “We need to admit to ourselves that maybe, just maybe he is sick. If this isn’t like last time and he gets sicker while we sit here and wait ... he needs a real Doctor, someone who knows about a man’s brain--”

“He’s not brain sick, Nathan. He doesn’t need a real Doctor. He needs you and he needs his friends,” said Chris. “He’ll wake up like he did last time, and when it’s over, he’ll be okay.”

“How can you be so sure, Chris?”

Josiah looked down at Ezra and noticed the frown on the younger man’s face. “Nathan.”

Nathan glanced at Josiah, saw the hope in his eyes and looked down at Ezra.

The hope turned to fear when Ezra started to speak.





Part One | Part Two


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