azombiewrites: (The Magnificent Seven)
[personal profile] azombiewrites
Title: A Dark Past
Second story in 'The Continuing Ezra Standish Saga'
Rating: PG
Warnings: Bad writing ahead!
Fandom: The Magnificent Seven
Genre: Hurt/Comfort
Summary: The seven hired lawmen are asked to escort a stagecoach and witness to Rock Falls. Amongst the passengers is Ezra's Uncle who has a dark past.
Main Characters: Ezra Standish and the rest of the seven
Disclaimers: The guys are owned by CBS, MGM, Trilogy Entertainment Group, and The Mirisch Corp.
Beta: Not betaed – written in the early days when I didn’t know what the words grammar and edit meant. *shamed*
Notes: Second story in the ‘Continuing Ezra Standish Saga’.
Spoilers: None.
Word Count: 19,173



Part One


JD walked into the saloon. He looked around the room for Buck and Ezra. He knew where Ezra would be. It had been nearly six weeks since he had that run in with Marshall Hanley and he was just beginning to be his old self again making his usual sarcastic comments at everyone and playing poker. The haunted look in his eyes was finally gone, replaced by his usual mischievous glint. JD was glad because he had been worried about him along with everyone else. Things had also improved between Ezra and the others. He had forgiven them but he also told them that it was something that he would not forget. They had all nodded their heads in agreement to this, as they couldn’t blame him.

Now finding Buck was another thing. He heard loud laughter from above. He looked up and saw Buck and one of the bar girls wrapped around each other. JD ran up the stairs looking forward to the look that was going to replace the smile on Buck's face.

"Hey, Buck. Chris wants us all in the Sheriff's office in ten minutes," yep JD thought, that's the look.

Buck had been smiling and laughing with Sarah and now the smile dropped off his face, replaced by a scowl.

"JD, can't you see that I'm busy."

"Sorry, Buck but Chris said it was an order. He's got a job for us."

"If you’ll excuse me Sarah, duty calls again." Buck turned towards JD who was still watching Ezra playing poker. "Well come on then, let’s get it over with so I can get back to what I was doing."

"In a minute, I just have to get Ezra away from that poker game." JD smiled.

Buck looked down towards Ezra. Saw him laughing with one of the other players. "Good to have him back isn't it, JD."

"Sure is."

JD followed Buck down the stairs and then headed towards the poker table. Ezra looked up when he arrived.

"Mr. Dunne, have you come to partake in this excellent game of chance?"

"No. I've come to let you know that Chris wants you in the Sheriff’s office. He wants a meeting with everyone. We've got a job that he wants us all for. Something about the stagecoach that just arrived."

"I’ll be there shortly once I’ll win all of the money from these gentlemen," Ezra smiled as he looked at the other three men at the table.

JD saw the looks of confusion on their faces. They had no hope against Ezra.

"Ten minutes then, Ezra."

Ezra laid his cards on the table and without waiting to see what the other men had he picked up the money that was in the center of the table and left. It wasn't because he had cheated, his card playing skills were just better than theirs were. Their shocked gazes followed him out of the saloon. When Ezra left the saloon, he saw Vin and Josiah entering the jail. He walked across the street to join them inside and as he walked up the steps, he glanced down towards the stagecoach that had just arrived in town. The one that JD had been talking about. He saw three men on the sidewalk talking amongst themselves. One of them turned slightly towards him. He only saw part of the man's face but he recognised him instantly. Ezra felt his knees go weak beneath him. If he hadn’t grabbed hold of the wooden railing, he would have fallen to the ground. He stood there in shock hoping that the man that he could see talking to the other two men was not his Uncle.

Ezra closed his eyes for a moment hoping that when he opened them again the man would not be there. But he was still there. Ezra was in shock. He was shaking with fear. The same fear that he had felt when he was twelve years old, waiting for his Uncle to come home. He didn’t feel this fear every day, only when he did something wrong in the eyes of his Aunt Helda who would tell her husband when he arrived home. He would then go to Ezra's room and punish him for what he had done. The beatings that this man had inflicted on him had scared him for life. Now seeing him here had brought it all rushing back to him. As he stood there watching him other emotions began to rise in him as well. He also began to feel the anger and hatred that always followed the fear. Ezra struggled to control all of these emotions.

"Just great, first Hanley now Uncle Jack. Has someone got something against me," he wondered.

JD had said the job had something to do with the stagecoach. Ezra hoped that didn’t also mean his Uncle. He didn’t know if he could cope with this not after, what he had just been through with Hanley and the others. Ezra took out his flask and after a long swallow placed it back into his coat pocket. He then took a couple of deep breaths to try to pull himself together and walked into the jail.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o


Ezra hadn’t noticed but his Uncle had also seen him. He had turned around fully when Ezra was no longer looking towards him. He knew that it was Ezra Standish; he was the spitting image of his father. He saw him go into the jail and knew that this meant that he was one of the hired gunmen that were going to escort the coach to Rock Falls. He had seen the fancy red coat, the gun slung to his hip and then watched as he drank from a silver flask that he had taken from his coat pocket and he instantly disapproved of the man that Ezra had grown into. He had never approved with Maude's way of life either and knew that her son would grow up to be just like her. He was obviously right. He had tried to change Ezra while he stayed with them for six months but he had been very stubborn. He turned back to the other men knowing that shortly he would re-enter Ezra's life.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o


Ezra headed straight for the unoccupied chair in the corner of the room. He looked down at the floor afraid that they would see the fear and anger in his eyes. If they knew, something was wrong they would be all over him as they were those first few weeks after the Hanley incident. He knew he had to look at them eventually but he had to control his emotions first so they would not see them. He needed to put on his best poker face but now the emotions that he was feeling were so strong he couldn’t control them. He sat down in the chair and took another drink from his flask. He thought that if they did realise that there was something wrong they would assume that it had something to do with what had previously happened and not because of the man that had just arrived in town.

They had all noticed the way he walked in. The slump in his walk, the hanging of his head, the way he didn’t look them in the eye. They had watched him be like this for four weeks. They knew that something was wrong. Knew that whatever it was his poker face was not able to hide it. They had learned a lot about Ezra's emotional states over the past six weeks and were able to read him a lot easier than when they had first met him a few months ago.

Chris shook his head at the group telling them to leave it for now. They had learnt not to push him. Ezra would tell them what was wrong when he was ready. JD felt the worry return, Ezra had been laughing and playing poker ten minutes ago. He was about to say something when he saw Chris shake his head.

"So what's up, Chris?" asked Vin trying to break the tension that had instantly filled the room when Ezra walked in.

"Judge Travis wants us to escort the stagecoach that just arrived in town to Rock Falls. Including the three men that came with it," he answered.

"Good Lord," Ezra muttered for the second time in six weeks. He was really starting to believe that someone hated him.

Everyone turned to look at him. He didn’t return their stare. He kept his head down, as he was still unable to control his emotions particularly after that last remark from Chris.

"Something wrong, Ezra?" asked Chris.

"No," was the simple answer.

Chris frowned but he continued with what he was saying. "Apparently there’s a witness to a crime on the coach but he wouldn't say which man it was. Said it was best that none of us knew. Supposed to be giving evidence at a trial in Rock Falls. So we'll escort them to Rock Falls and then hand them over to the Sheriff when we get there."

"Did he at least tell you who the bad guy is that this witness is supposed to be giving evidence against?" enquired Buck.

"Martin DeAblo." Chris saw the expressions that the other men gave him, all except Ezra that was, who still hadn’t lifted his gaze from the floor. "The guy that rob the bank in harmony and killed the bank teller. They managed to get him but his gang is still on the loose and that is why the Judge wants us to protect who ever the witness is."

"How can we protect him if we don't know which one he’s?" JD asked this as he watched Ezra. He couldn't understand what could have changed his mood on his way to the jail.

"The Judge seems to think that it's best this way," answered Chris.

"And when do we leave?" Vin asked.

"Half an hour. First, we’ll make our introductions and then Vin, Josiah, JD I want you to get the horses ready and then grab anything that you need for the trip and meet us back here. Okay."

Ezra was the first one to rise and leave the room. When the others followed, they noticed that he had stayed on the porch staring at the three men standing next to the coach. He didn’t look at any of them as they passed. Chris was the last to leave but before he stepped down onto the street, he heard Ezra's voice.

"Mr. Larabee, do you really need the seven of us to escort the coach and its passengers?" he asked.

"Yes I do, Ezra, why?" Chris frowned. Ezra didn’t look at him when he spoke; he was still staring at the three men.

Usually he would have also thought that Ezra was running out on another job to leave the other six to risk their lives while he sat somewhere safe. These days he knew better than that. Knew that Ezra would risk his own life to protect all of them. He thought that there had to be another reason.

"Is there no way that I could get out of this assignment? I’m still feeling the after effects of my physical condition and feel that a long journey like this would not help." He hoped that Chris still felt guilty enough to allow him to stay behind even though he was not sure if he would be able to even if Chris said that he didn't have to go.

"I already checked with Nathan on that one, Ezra, and he said that you’d be fine. Even said that the fresh air would probably do you good."

"And how would, Mr. Jackson know what was good for me?"

"Something is wrong," thought Chris. He also thought that he might need to be a bit more firm on this point. "I need everyone on this job Ezra and that includes you. You're coming with us and that is the end of the subject."

Ezra finally turned and looked at Chris. "And if I refuse to go."

Chris saw the emotion on his face and it told him that something was wrong. It also told him that he was not going to leave Ezra here on his own where no one could keep an eye on him.

"I know you better now, Ezra, and I know that you won't do that because you’d not be able to stay here while we were out there risking our lives to protect someone."

"I must say, Mr. Larabee, that the answer you just gave makes a change from your usual comment of 'Figure yourself dead if you do.'” smiled Ezra. However, it was a forced smile and Chris noticed this. "Shall we go then?" He knew that Chris was right; he would not be able to sit here while they were out protecting someone that they didn’t even know. He would never forgive himself if something happened to one of them all because he was afraid to deal with his Uncle.

As they walked down the street towards the two men and Ezra's Uncle, he couldn’t help but think about the beatings and the smile that was on his face while he delivered them. He had no idea how he was going to get through this.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o


When the introductions were made Jack had used his real name and was glad he did. He enjoyed the confused expressions on their faces when he introduced himself as Jack Standish. Saw them look at each other. None of them made any comments though about the fact that he had the same last name as one of their group. Three of them had then excused themselves, something about having to get the horses ready. This left two of them, one of who was a coloured man. He didn’t like the idea of this man being part of the group. He decided that he would have to speak to Ezra about that before they left. Jack turned to see the remaining two lawmen walking towards them. He could see Ezra's red coat behind the man in black and was amused to see that he might have been hiding from him hoping that he would not notice him.

When Chris and Ezra reached the group, Ezra pulled all his courage together and stood beside Chris all the time looking at his Uncle. After the second lot of introductions were made they stood there looking at Ezra. Seeing the poker face that he was finally able to put on. He had gained control of his emotions and had put up his usual defences.

"Do you two know each other?" Chris asked wondering if this man was the reason for the change in Ezra's emotional state.

"Yes we do," replied Jack. "It's been a long time, Ezra. I haven't seen you since you were twelve years old."

When Ezra didn’t say anything, he continued. "I’m Ezra's Uncle," he smiled. "And we have a lot of catching up to do, don't we, Ezra."

"Uncle?" Chris raised his eyebrows at Ezra. "Ezra, can I talk to you for a minute please?"

Ezra stood there for a moment and then followed Chris to the side.

"Is he the reason that you wanted to stay in town and not come with us?"

"I told you the reason; I didn’t know my Uncle was here until just now." Ezra had begun to notice that the longer he knew these men the harder it became to lie to them.

Chris looked at him not being able to see through the wall that he had put up around himself. "Are you sure, seems more than a coincidence that your mood changes after he arrives."

"I assure you, Mr. Larabee, that my Uncle has nothing to do with my mood, which is my business anyway so if, you’ll excuse me," scowled Ezra who then turned around and headed back towards his Uncle, he wanted to get this finished. He needed to face him and now was a better time than any.

Chris nodded to Buck and Nathan to join him.

"You think there’s something going on there, Chris?" asked Nathan as he watched Ezra walk back to his Uncle.

"I don't know but I think we should keep an eye on them just in case."

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o


"Uncle."

"Nice to see you after all these years, Ezra."

"I wish that I could say the same thing," Ezra grimaced at some of the memories that were flowing through his mind at that moment.

The smile dropped off his Uncle's face. "Now don't get smart with me boy!"

Ezra though was determined not to let his fear show. "I’m not your boy."

Jack clenched his fists in front of him making sure that Ezra saw them, knowing that this used to shut him up as a child when he was being stubborn and using his wisecrack remarks to hide any fear that he was feeling. Ezra looked at them and said nothing; he knew what it meant even though he also knew that his Uncle would not do anything in front of his friends. They were used as a warning to show that if he kept going that they would be used on him.

"Right then now that we have sorted that out I want to talk to you about that black man over there, I don't want him coming along."

Ezra looked over at Nathan and noticed that the three of them were standing there watching them.

"It's not my decision to make. Nathan is his own man and he decides what he wants to do as the rest of us do. He’s part of the group and if he wants to ride along with us I cannot stop him." Ezra was glad they were being watched because if they were alone his Uncle would have reacted by now and it would have been a violent reaction. Ezra stood his ground and looked his Uncle in the eye. "And he’s also a friend."

"You’re being very brave in front of your friends, Ezra, I think we’ll discuss this more at a later time when we’re alone and then we can make you see how wrong you’re when it comes to choosing your friends," growled Jack.

He saw Ezra flinch and smiled. He turned and tipped his hat to Chris, Buck and Nathan and left to join the other passengers. The four gunmen then split up to gather things for the trip. Ezra headed towards his room in the saloon to collect some things for the trip. He also decided that he was going to have to take an extra few bottles of whiskey - as he was going to need them.




Part One | Part Two


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