azombiewrites: (The Magnificent Seven)
[personal profile] azombiewrites
Title: Obsessions - Missing Scene
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 is a missing scene from the episode Obsessions. My imagination ran wild as to what happened to Ezra after he got . . . well those of you who have seen it should know what I'm talking about.
Spoilers: None
Status: Complete




Obsessions - Missing Scene



Ezra could hear the gunfire going on around him, he felt the breath of a bullet as it passed close to his face, he then felt a force as it struck his left side, it pushed him sideways against the wagon that was supposed to be protecting him. His first thought was that he was going to die, he was too young to die, he had cheated death all his trouble life and just when he'd come into enough money to retire, fate had given him a lethal blow.

Josiah heard Ezra's grunt of pain, he glanced around the side of the wagon and saw him fall into a sitting position with a shocked expression on his face.

"Ezra you hit?" Josiah glanced back over his shoulder when he realised that the Southerner had been shot.

"I've . . . " Ezra muttered.

"Nathan! Cover us." Josiah ordered him.

"I've been cheated . . . cut down in my prime . . . " Ezra expected to see his life flash before his eyes, whoever told him that it happened to a dying person was obviously lying to him, he remembered that it had been one of his cousins that he had spent a summer with as a child, this particular child had always tried to get the better of him by lying to him, Ezra had offered to test the theory by killing him, the boy had ran to his mother, the tears and fear showing on the young face, at least he had never bothered him again.

Josiah ignored Ezra's ramblings, he was concentrating on finding the bullet wound, he used the fingers of his right hand to probe the hole in the grey waist coat, he removed them and rubbed them together.

"No blood." He reached back into the hole that had been created by a bullet.

". . . the best . . . years of my life . . . "

Josiah dug deep when he felt something, he pulled out a broach, it had an indentation, the bullet had struck it, stopping it from causing a serious injury to the gambler and possibly saving Ezra's life. "It hit the diamond." Josiah held it in his open palm for Ezra's inspection.

Ezra removed the empty broach from Josiah's hand, he looked down at it and saw the broach that was now worth nothing to him, it no longer held the diamond.

"My diamond." Ezra croaked. "My diamond!"

Ezra crouched low and crawled out into the open, and frantically searched for his diamond, it was his retirement, the money he would get for it would buy him the saloon he always wanted and this time his mother wasn't going to ruin it for him, if only he could find it.

Josiah was shocked when Ezra practically threw himself out into the open, the gunfire that had erupted earlier was yet to cease, the gambler was going to get himself killed.

"What the hell are you doing? Have you lost your senses?" Josiah yelled at him.

"Worse, I lost my diamond!" Ezra retorted as he continued to search.

Josiah fired another shot towards the men who were still firing on them to give him a moment of cover, he put his gun away and reached out for Ezra's legs. "It ain't gonna do you no good in the hereafter." he grabbed the moving legs and began to pull him back out of reach of the bullets.

Ezra felt the hands grab his ankles and begin to pull him away from his lost treasure. "Hey! Hey!" His protests fell on deaf ears, he decided to wait a moment and as soon as Josiah let him go he would go back and search for his diamond.
*************************************
Missing Scenes
*************************************


Josiah couldn't believe what he was seeing, as soon as he had let go of Ezra's legs, he had begun to crawl back out into the open where he would once again be exposed to the bullets that were trying to inflict an injury on one of the three men that were using the wagon as cover, but if Ezra was struck again by a bullet it would enter his flesh, and Ezra wouldn't be so lucky a second time.

He grabbed Ezra's leg and pulled him roughly back to safety, this time he didn't let go, he held Ezra against the wagon with his right hand and continued to fire his gun at the men who were still trying to kill them. Josiah looked to his left to see Chris moving out into the open, his rifle continued to fire at the men. He looked down at Ezra who was now free of his grip, this man risks his life to save others and yet would also face death just to find a diamond, Josiah couldn't understand the gambler's way of thinking, he shook his head at Ezra but the movement was lost on the Southerner.

He watched as Chris seemed to hesitate for a moment and then he was down, he'd been shot, he wanted to do something but saw Vin move to Chris' side and give him to protection that he needed. But it was no longer required, the outlaws chose this moment to leave, he wasn't sure why but then he saw Handsome Jack, he lay dead in the dirt, struck down by a bullet. Josiah put his gun away and moved towards Chris, he ignored Ezra who was trying to get up.

Ezra had also seen Chris go down, he saw him withering in pain. Ezra picked up his gun and holstered it. He wanted to look for his diamond but thought that now was not the right time, the men thought that he was greedy enough as it was and he would loose any respect that he had gained if he looked for his retirement while Chris was possibly dying. He tried to push himself up but felt a stab of pain in his left side, he looked down expecting to see the blood finally flow from the wound but there wasn't any, he pressed against his side and felt it again, he grimaced in pain. Ezra realised that the adrenaline he had, had left his body making him aware of the pain that he hadn't felt before. He lifted his left arm to grip the wheel on the wagon for support, his intention was to use it to help him to stand, but it caused the pain to tear through his side, he fell back to the ground.

Ezra looked around to make sure no one had noticed, they had other things to worry about, there were other people with more serious injuries. He managed to stand by using his right arm to pull himself to an upright position. He took a deep breath but regretted it. 'Must be a rib.' he thought to himself, that was okay, he could deal with that, when he was able to get some privacy he would wrap a makeshift bandage around it. Nathan would be busy, he didn't want to take him away from his duty for a small injury that he could take care of himself. Once he had gained control of the pain he began to follow the others into the house.

He walked passed Buck who was sitting on the ground beside Hilda, the woman with the beautiful voice, he could see that she was dead, he felt his heart go out to Buck, even though he at first had tried to hide from the woman Ezra knew that he had a deep respect for all females and was actually beginning to like her. He wanted to say something to his friend but couldn't think of the right words, on one of the rare occassions in his life his words weren't able to be used to his advantage, he couldn't help his friend. Ezra looked away and walked up the stairs, he hid the pain that he felt when the movement aggrevated his ribs.

Ezra stepped into the parlor and saw Josiah and JD, he felt Buck come in behind him, the ladies man pushed past him and sat down in one of the many chairs in the room.

"Chris?" Ezra asked, his voice was kept low.

"Nathan and Vin are with him, Nathan wouldn't let us in, said he'll let us know." Josiah told him in a calm tone, he couldn't understand the gambler, he thought he wouldn't see him until he found his diamond, the ex-preacher had been surprised by the Southerner's entrance, but Ezra always seemed to be full of surprises, everytime you thought you had him figured out he would do something like this that made you realise there was still more to learn about him.

Ezra nodded and leaned his back against the wall, he didn't want to sit down, he wasn't sure he could hide the pain, and he wouldn't be able to keep it a secret when he had to raise himself from the sitting position. His thoughts were wondering when Josiah's voice broke through, the tone grabbed his attention.

"Why would you do something so stupid Ezra?" The larger man asked him from his position on the small sofa. He didn't have to look at Ezra to know the question confused him so he explained it for him. "Put your life in danger by going after a piece of rock."

Ezra saw Buck's head lift from the floor to look at him, his face was full of confusion and there was also a hint of anger.

"That piece of rock as you call it Josiah was, is worth a lot of money." Ezra answered him.

"No money is worth your life Ezra, it wouldn't have done you any good if you got yourself killed!" Josiah growled at him.

"My life isn't worth alot Josiah, that money would have given me what I needed to fill an empty void." Ezra muttered but Josiah had clearly heard him but Buck and JD didn't.

"What the hell are you two talking about?" Buck asked them.

Josiah looked over his shoulder at the gambler but his face was hidden from him, he had never heard Ezra speak like that about himself before, the man could talk but never about himself or his past, it was a dark contrast to the cheerful personality that had been in possession of his mind over the last few days.

"Ezra was shot . . . " Josiah started.

"What!?" JD jumped up from his seat. "Then what are you doing standing there, where's all the blood?"

"He's alright JD, the bullet hit the diamond in the broach that he won in that poker game last night, didn't do Ezra any damage but it did dislodge the stone. Ezra here," he nodded to the smaller man who was leaning against the wall with his head down, "crawled out into the open to look for it, I pulled him back but the stubborn mule wanted to go back out, I had to hold him down so he wouldn't get himself killed."

"You were busy looking for a piece of rock instead of defending these fine people!" Buck growled at Ezra as he stood up and advanced on him. "A good woman died, Chris got shot and you were looking for a rock." Buck grabbed two handfuls of Ezra's waist coast and slammed him against the wall.

"Buck, leave him be, you know it's his way of life, money always comes first." Josiah told him but didn't make any movement to stop him physically, the gambler needed to be taught a lesson, lives come before money, especially his own.

"I didn't know Buck, I didn't see her or Chris until it was to late." Ezra looked up into Buck's eyes, they were full of anger, his own feelings were hidden, he should have let Buck see what he was feeling.

"You don't look to upset about it Ezra!" Buck was angry, he used his fist to show how angry he was, his first blow was to Ezra's left side, he heard the gambler grunt in pain and allowed him to double over, he then slammed his fist against his exposed face and knocked him to the floor where he stayed. He walked away from him.

Ezra gritted his teeth so hard that his jaw began to ache, what he thought may have been a cracked rib had just been changed to a broken rib by Buck's fist. He waited a few moments and when he realised that no one was going to come to his aid he pushed himself up into a sitting position. Ezra looked towards Buck and saw Josiah staring at him.

"You okay Ezra?" Josiah was concerned, he could see the pain on the gambler's face but his own anger prevented him from going to him.

"I'm fine, the only thing that has been hurt is my pride." Ezra lied.

"Maybe next time you won't let your pride or your greed get in the way. Your life is worth more than that diamond and it would be a waste if you got yourself killed over something as stupid as your greed." Josiah turned away from the Southerner, he would give him some time to allow the words to sink in then he'd talk to him later.

Ezra watched the back of Josiah's head, the older man was obviously the only one that thought that way, he didn't think that any of the others would think of his death as a waste, they didn't think of him the same way they thought of each other, he was their amusement, a way of breaking the tension when things got bad, a smart mouth that could talk their way out of a dangerous situation without using physical force. They would miss those qualities of Ezra Standish but think that his death would be a waste of a good life, he didn't think so. For start it wasn't really a good life, he'd found friends here but that's the only thing that they were, friends, it wasn't like he was actually close to any of them. He was the outsider, he always would be, from the beginning the group of six men had teamed off into pairs giving him the impression from the start that he would only be tolerated, that his conning ways would be of use to them but his real friendship wouldn't be. But as the months passed the friendship grew but not into anything serious.

He looked towards the stairs when he heard footsteps, he saw Vin coming towards them, the sharp shooter looked at him but didn't show any concern towards him, he didn't ask him why he was on the floor or why there was a thin trail of blood running from his split lip. Ezra used his sleeve to wipe the blood from his face, he grimaced at the shirt he damaged.

"How's Chris?" JD stood up and took up a position in front of Vin.

"Nathan said he'd be fine, the bullet went straight through his right shoulder, he's sleeping now." Vin explained.

"But there's something else?" Josiah could see the expression that Vin's face held.

"Yeah, there's a room upstairs full of stuff, some of it belong to Sarah Larabee."

"Sarah?" Buck wanted more details, why would Ella Gains have items that belonged to Sarah.

"Chris told me he found it, Ella showed up, it seems that she had Sarah and Adam killed, she was obsessed with him, she rode off after I killed Jack. That man was working for her, this was planned all along."

"Shit!" Buck stood up and made his way to the stairs, Vin stopped him by placing the palm of his hand against his chest. "He's sleeping Buck."

"I don't care, he needs me, don't get in my way Vin, I've already hit one person today," he scowled towards Ezra, "I'll do it again if I have to!"

Vin nodded and stepped out of his way. He waited until he disappeared then turned to Ezra, the man was still sitting on the floor but the blood was no longer coming from the injury to his lip.

"Why'd he hit you?" Vin asked him.

"None of your business!" Ezra growled at the uncaring man, he was no longer in the mood to be their source of amusement.

Vin shrugged, he didn't really care, a split lip was nothing compared to what Chris had been through and was going to go through. "We need to clean up the mess outside." He moved to the door and noticed that Ezra hadn't budged from his position on the floor. "That means you too Ezra."

"So that's why the rest of them left, because you killed Jack." Josiah stated with understanding, he hadn't seen any of that during the shooting.

"Yeah." Vin saw that Ezra still hadn't moved. "Ezra! Get off your lazy butt and come and help us!"

"I'm coming." Ezra informed him, he was just waiting for them to leave so he could get up without them seeing his pain, if they knew he was injured they would get Nathan to look at him and at the moment Chris needed him more.

When JD passed through the open doorway, he pushed himself up into a standing position and clenched his teeth to stop the pain from being voiced, he didn't want them to hear him either. Good lord, how was he going to do anything physical, he was going to have to talk his way out of it.

Ezra walked out onto the porch of the house and saw that JD and Vin had already started to check the bodies that lay on the ground for any survivors, he glanced sideways when he saw Josiah watching him.

"You up to this Ezra?"

"I am quite capable Mr Sanchez, even with a sore side." Ezra moved forward but felt Josiah's hand grip his shoulder, he inwardly smiled.

"So you did get hurt." Josiah turned the gambler so he could look into his face.

"A bullet to the side then the physical abuse laid upon me by Mr Wilmington would cause anyone to be sore, but it's nothing serious I can manage the manual labour." Ezra shrugged him off and walked down the steps into the yard, he moved to the wagons where more bodies lay, he could at least use them for cover when he did have to do something physical. He would do his share and then let Josiah see him falter, then the usually quite man would insist that he sit down.

Josiah watched him go, the man was a stubborn mule, but at least he was willing to help, usually he just supervised any work that had to be done. He moved in the opposite direction but intended to keep a close eye on the Southerner.

Ezra could feel the heat beating down on him, he was beginning to sweat and all he had done was walk to the wagon then bend down, he may have to give Josiah a sign earlier than he wanted to, if he didn't he would collapse and then he would remove Nathan from Chris' side. He didn't want that. He wiped his face with the clean part of his shirt, he still couldn't believe that he had used it to wipe the blood off his face, another shirt would be ruined, he wasn't going to able to get it clean, it was going to stain.

"You going to stand there all day Ezra!" Vin called to him, he knew he was trying to get out of the work, the man was lazy.

Ezra turned back and saw everyone looking at him, he knew what they were thinking, they always thought it, it wasn't laziness, it was common sense, if someone else was quite capable of doing the job then why not let them. They were brought up to do this sort of thing, he wasn't, his mother had never allowed him to do anything that may damage his hands. The numerous relatives he had stayed with made him work but his training managed to get him out of it most of the time. Ezra was as willing to work as hard as the next man, but he had to keep up the appearance that his mother had drilled into him since his birth.

He turned back to the task at hand, the body needed to be lifted and placed into the wagon that he was standing next to, at least he didn't have to carry the burden very far, he pulled the corpse into a sitting position and grunted at the pain he felt, if the others had heard him they would think that he was complaining. He shifted the body until it lay over his shoulder, he stood up using the muscles in his legs but his stomach muscles moved also, the broken bones rubbed against each other, the pain was agonising, he quickly moved to the back of the wagon and threw the body into it, this caused even more pain. He bent over, his left arm supporting his ribs, his right hand gripped the wagon, the knuckles on his hand turned white.

"You okay Ezra?" Josiah sounded the concern he felt, he could see the man was in pain, maybe he had been hurt more than he was letting on.

"I seem to have pulled a muscle." Ezra lied as he placed his right hand against his back. "Not use to this sort of menial labour, never could understand why a gentlemen of my stature has to do this."

"Ah huh." Josiah nodded, he wasn't sure if he was in pain or just trying to get out of the work, he decided not to take the chance, he'd check on him with the job was done. "Why don't you go and sit down Ezra, we'll do this."

Ezra gave the ex-preacher his two finger salute then left to find a comfortable position in the shade, the heat really was becoming too much, and it was still only early, he could imagine what it was going to like when the sun was directly overhead.

"Ezra what the . . . " Vin began but a stern look from Josiah stopped him from finishing his angry statement, the man really was too much to deal with sometimes.

"Leave him be Vin, he's been shot, Buck hit him a couple of times, just give him some time and he'll start helping." Josiah explained to him.

"Shot? Where?" Vin could hear the doubt in his own voice. "Did his fancy shirt get a scratch?"

Josiah laughed. "Something like that."

Ezra slowly sat down, his arm never left his side, the pain was beginning to become to much, it was beginning to make him feel nauseas, all he needed was to rest for a few minutes, the heat seemed to be draining him of his energy, he leaned his head back against the tree and closed his eyes but opened them again when he heard Vin's words. He had given the group the same impression of himself that he had given everybody else during his life, that he only cared about himself, the truth was that he never had anyone to care about, his mother had never let him care about her, he stopped anyone else from getting close to him and even though these men weren't close it seemed to bother him the way the impression made them think about him, it made him hurt in a way he rarely did. They had known him for nearly six months now and none of them had tried to get through the outer layer, they didn't know there was another side to him that only showed itself when his mother was around. He wanted to show he cared and he wanted these men to care about him but it was too late to change his ways, to change the impression, they would only think he wanted something, they wouldn't believe the real man that Ezra Standish was.

He saw the glances that Vin and JD kept throwing at him, they thought he was being lazy, he almost had the urge to tell them the truth, that the bullet had caused damage and Buck had caused even more damage by acutally breaking a bone. He saw the disgust on Vin's face and turned away from him and looked towards the house, he could see Buck standing in the doorway watching him. Great, that was all he needed. He pushed himself up to his feet and made his way to the bunk house, he remembered the courage he needed to help him deal with what he was about to indure, the place was filthy even after Buck and JD had cleaned it up.

Ezra entered the building and felt the cool air as it hit his body and remove the suffocating heat from his lungs, he made his way to the bunk that he had reluctantly chosen and laid down on his right side facing the door. The relief from the cooler air didn't last very long though and his body grew warm again. The pain didn't ease either and the nausea seemed to grow within his stomach.

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



Josiah noticed that Ezra had disappeared, he looked towards Vin who nodded in the direction of the bunkhouse. He frowned and made a mental note to go and see him when they were finished, another thirty minutes should do it. He moved to the water bucket and drank some of the cool water, the heat was bad today, the weather had been cooler over the last few days, but the cool breeze that had been evident earlier was gone and had been replaced with the heat of the sun, he didn't know why the sun had to grow so strong on a day like to day, maybe it had something to do with the smell of death.

The three men continued to work removing the physical evidence of the gun fight that had taken place, the bodies had been placed in the wagon and JD had volunteered to take them into town but Josiah wouldn't allow him to go on his own. He knew Vin and Buck didn't want to go but would if they had to, that only left himself and Ezra, he didn't want to force Ezra to do it so he told JD that he would go with him. He gave Vin instructions to check on Ezra, to make sure that he was okay. Vin agreed but he didn't tell Josiah that he wasn't going to go out of his way to watch out for a man who was just thinking of himself when he had a friend who had suffered a bullet wound and more emotional stress to help look after.

After Josiah and JD left Vin went to the bunk house, he opened the door and looked for Ezra, he was sleeping on one of the bunks that was on the left side of the building, he shook his head and closed the door, he didn't do it quietly. It was the first and only time that he checked on Ezra that day.

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



Ezra heard the door open, he didn't look to see who it was but continued to keep his eyes closed, he'd hoped that whoever it was would think that he was asleep and then go away, he wasn't up to company. He heard the door slam shut and the unexpected sound in the silence of the room caused him to jump, his side flared up again. He groaned and rolled further into the dirty pillow, the smell assaulted his nostrils but he didn't care, it wasn't as bad as the pain he felt in his side.

He wondered how Chris was doing, Vin had said that he was going to be okay and that he was sleeping but he felt a need to see him, to make sure that Vin had told them the truth, he knew he wouldn't lie but he had to see it for himself. He thought about getting up and going into the house but at that moment he didn't want to cause himself anymore pain, he would wait for it to ease and would then leave.

The heat of the bunkhouse made Ezra feel tired, he drifted off to sleep and spent the rest of the day in the suffocating heat that caused him to become dehydrated without his or anyone else's knowledge.

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



Ezra woke to find himself surrounded by darkness, he felt the confusion fill his mind and it took him a few minutes to clear his head and remember where he was. He gingerly sat up and felt the pain in his side as well as the ache in his muscles, he was feeling a lot worse than he did that morning. He swallowed and found he had difficulty in doing so, his tongue felt thick and he was also thirsty. He forced himself off the bunk, his need for water was stronger than the need to no longer feel the pain in his side. He left the building and stopped to look towards the house, there was a light in one of the upstairs rooms, no doubt they were spending all their time with Chris. That was okay, he needed them.

He made his way to the well, he could make it out the darkness that had settled over the land, he knew he was going to have trouble pulling the bucket up out of the well, but he needed to drink. He felt weak and even though the air was cool he still felt hot and all of this contributed to his body's physical state. He managed to make it to the source of water before he fell to his knees. It then took him another fifteen minutes before he could actually remove the bucket that was filled with water from the well, once he had it on the ground he didn't hesitate. Ezra placed his head in the water and allowed it to cool his face while he drank.

He gulped the water down but had to stop because he was already running out of air. He was about to plunge his head back in when he felt his nausea return, it had been his body that told him to drink the water but it then changed it's mind, it violenty disagreed with what he was doing. He felt his stomach muscles contract and knew he was going to be in for a lot of pain. Ezra vomited the water that he had drank, he held onto his side hoping it would ease the pain but it didn't, once all the water had been removed he continued to dry heave.

Ezra collapsed to the ground when his body refused to take anymore of the torture that was being inflicted upon it.


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



Josiah held the reins and drove the wagon on the way back, JD was asleep in the back, his exuberance had tired him out, he had told him how he faced one of the men in the gunfight and won, he had repeated the story over and over and each time he told it he seemed to exaggerate just that little bit more. The ex-preacher could see the house in the distance and the light that burned in one of the windows, he looked towards the bunkhouse and saw that it was in darkness, Ezra must be in the house with the others. As he drew closer to the house he thought he could make out a form near the well, they must have forgotten someone, he frowned when he saw the white sleeves and made the connection.

"JD!" Josiah yelled behind him, he pulled the horses to a stop. "JD!"

Josiah ran to the inert form on the ground, he fell to his knees beside the body and hesitated before he rolled him over, his hands grabbed a pair of shoulders and he could feel the heat enimating from the man. He pulled him over onto his back. He was right, it was Ezra.

"JD!" Josiah yelled for a third time.

"What!" JD yelled back at him while he dragged himself from the back of the wagon, he looked towards the sound of Josiah's voice and saw him cradling someone, as he got closer he realised it was Ezra.

"Get Nathan!" Josiah saw JD still standing in his position of shock, he hadn't moved. "Now!"

Josiah turned his eyes back to the unconscious Southerner. He held him in his arms, he knew he had a fever, he could feel the heat. He gently slapped his face to try and wake him up.

"Ezra." A gentle slap against the warm cheek. "Ezra, come on Ezra. Wake up." He continued to slap his large hand against the slack features but there was still no response.

He picked Ezra up in his arms and began to walk to the house, he heard the door open and looked up to see JD, Nathan and Vin running towards him.

"What happened?" Nathan asked him as he placed his palm against Ezra's forehead.

"That's what I should be asking him!" Josiah growled at Vin, he saw the guilt overcome him but ignored him. "I found Ezra next to the well, who knows how long he's been there!"

"Get him in the house, his burning up with a fever." Nathan told Josiah.

"Is he sick?" Josiah asked as he continued the short journey to the house.

"I don't know yet." The healer admitted.

Nathan led the way up to one of the rooms and had Josiah lay Ezra down on the bed, he placed his hand against the flushed skin a second time.

"Vin go and get me some water." Nathan ordered him. "Josiah help me get his coat and shirt off."

Nathan noticed the hole in the waist coat when he undid the buttons but he didn't say anything, if it was a bullet wound there would have been blood and lots of it. They pulled the coat off then instead of spending the time doing more buttons Nathan ripped the shirt open, the first thing he saw was the bruising on Ezra's left side. He pressed against it and Ezra groaned and shifted under his hands when he tried to move away from the pain.

"He's got a broken rib. Where did he get that from and why wasn't I told about it?" Nathan turned on Josiah.

"He was shot remember or have you been to busy to notice." Josiah retorted then sighed, he knew it wasn't Nathan's fault, he had left Vin to look after Ezra and he had failed. "The bullet hit a broach that was in his pocket. I'm not sure Nathan, he said he was okay."

"Don't forget that Buck punched him in the side afterwards." JD told them.

Nathan did remember, Josiah had asked for cover while he checked on the Southerner but he had heard Ezra's voice and thought he was fine.

"What did Buck hit him for?" Nathan asked him but turned back to Ezra, he checked his pupils, then opened his mouth, he noticed the split lip. He then tested his skin.

"Buck thought Ezra was being selfish, thinking of himself instead of everyone else." Josiah spoke with disgust. It had obviously been the other way round. The Southerner had been injured but instead of taking Nathan away from Chris he had indured the pain and was waiting for the right time to inform them of what had happened.

"He's also dehydrated." Nathan heard Vin come back into the room. "JD, could you go and get me my bag, I'm going to need some bandages to wrap his ribs."

"How did he get dehydrated?" Josiah wanted to know.

"Vin, was Ezra in that bunkhouse all day?" Nathan took the bowl of water from him and the cloth that he had also brought back.

"I don't know, I checked him when Josiah left and he was asleep so I left him." Vin told him.

"You left him!" Josiah stood up and stood over Vin. "He's got a broken rib and now he's dehydrated because he spent all day in that bunkhouse, the heat would have been worse in there."

"And his fever would have caused him to loose fluids." Nathan added.

"I asked you to make sure he was alright, and you said that he was the one that was being lazy." Josiah's voiced had risen, it was evidence of the anger he was feeling towards the ex-bounty hunter. They had complained about what Ezra was doing and yet they had left him to get ill.

"Would you keep the noise down! Chris is trying to sleep." Buck growled into the room when he entered it.

"Really." Josiah changed the direction of his anger. "And what about Ezra?"

"What about him?" Buck asked, he hadn't looked at the form on the bed.

Josiah roughly grabbed his arms and turned him to face the bed so he could see the condition Ezra was in. Nathan had soaked the cloth in the water and was washing Ezra's face, he allowed the water clogged material to stay against Ezra's lips and when his mouth opened to take in more of the fluid he squeezed the material and allowed a few drops to fall into his mouth. Ezra's body instinctively raised his head to seek out the damp cloth when it was removed from his mouth. Nathan gently pushed his head back down.

"What's wrong with him?" Buck was concerned.

"He has a broken rib, it was probably in that state when you hit him this moring when you said he was being selfish, then Vin left him in the hot bunkhouse all day and that caused him to become dehydrated, he also has a fever!" Josiah growled into his ear.

"I didn't know." Buck whispered. He moved aside when JD came back in with Nathan's bag.

Nathan removed a cup from his saddle bag and filled it with water, he used his left hand to support Ezra's head and lifted it towards the cup, the Southerner must have smelt the water because his mouth opened before the fluid touched his lips. Again Nathan only allowed a few drops and when he was satisfied that he wasn't going to cause him to be sick he let Ezra take a few mouthfuls then removed the cup. Ezra tried to follow it but Nathan lowered his head back onto the pillow.

"I'll have to give him water in only small amounts until his body adjusts then he can drink normally again." Nathan told the group. "Josiah, do you want to sit him up so I can bandaged his ribs."

Once Nathan had completed wrapping Ezra's ribs and laid him back down, he made him more comfortable, when Josiah removed the gambler's boots he pulled the blanket up to Ezra's chin, Ezra immeadiately pushed it off, Nathan pulled it back up and held it down until Ezra's struggles weakened and the Southerner finally gave up.

Nathan grabbed the only chair in the room and sat next to the bed. "Buck, Vin why don't you go back to Chris, you know where I am if he needs me."

"Your going to stay here?" Buck didn't realise what his words meant until he voiced them, the angry glares also confirmed what his words had done. "Sorry."

"Ezra's in a worse condition than Chris at the moment and until I know that he's no longer in any more danger I'll come back!" Nathan told him then he dismissed him by turning his back on him.

"Get out!" Josiah growled at Buck and Vin.

They reluctantly left the room, leaving the others to watch over the ailing gambler.

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


Ezra had felt the water run down his parched throat, it helped to remove some of the dryness but the moisture that flowed into his mouth stopped, he tried to go after it so he could get some more but he felt hands push him back down. He then began to hear the voices that surrounded him, some of them were friendly but others were voicing their anger and doubt. He wanted to say something but his throat was too dry so he continued to listen. Someone then lifted him up and he could feel a tightness that grew around his stomach, the pain in his side also became worse but he couldn't voice his protests, he was then laid back down and someone put a blanket over him, he was too hot as it was so he pushed it away but it was back seconds later, he tried again but couldn't find the strength to get rid of it, he gave up and went back into unconsciousness.

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


Ezra could hear a voice calling to him, he didn't recognise it at first then the familiarity brought the owner's voice to his mind. Nathan. He turned his head towards the voice, he felt a hand lift his head, he felt the cool water against his lips and he opened his mouth, he welcomed the fluid but it wasn't enough, he wanted more. He lifted his hand to try and stop Nathan from removing the cup but a hand gripped his own and pulled it down to his side and kept it there. He heard a second voice that told him to stay still, that he couldn't drink too much water, he would only get sick. It was Josiah's voice. He did as he was told, he didn't have the strength to argue with them.

He felt a damp cloth against his skin as someone began to rub him down, he felt embarrassed and tried to stop them but the hand still held his. The cloth then moved to his face, he grimaced when it rubbed against his split lip. He heard Nathan's apology and the touch became more gentle but he didn't feel it anymore, he returned to the darkness.

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


Ezra woke to the sensation of water running down his throat, his breath caught in his throat and it caused him to choke, he began to cough and the pain tore through his side. He was turned onto his uninjured side and someone rubbed his back until the coughing eased, he felt the hands roll him back over and he was given more water. When he was laid back down he forced his eyelids to open but they closed quickly, the heaviness of sleep prevented them from staying open to long. He ignored the feeling and pried them open a second time, he managed to keep them open but he had to blink to bring the faces in front of him into focus.

"How are you feeling Ezra?" Nathan leaned over him and felt the Southerner's forehead, his fever had broken a few hours before and he wanted to make sure that it wasn't returning.

"Tired and sore." Ezra told him.

"You will be for a little while Ezra, you were dehydrated and one of your ribs is broken." Nathan explained.

Ezra nodded and closed his eyes.

"Want to tell us about your broken rib Ezra." Josiah's voice was firm, he didn't want an argument from the gambler.

"Rib?" Ezra frowned in confusion.

"Yeah, the bullet hit the broach remember." Josiah rolled his eyes, he thought Ezra was trying to get out of an explanation.

"Bullet?" Ezra's eyes widen when the memory came back. "Chris! Is he alright?"

"He's fine Ezra, he's been up and about, came to see you earlier." Nathan told him.

"The broken rib Ezra." Josiah was becoming impatient.

"I didn't realise until after you left me and I tried to get up and felt the pain in my side, but Buck must have broken it when he hit me."

"Why didn't you tell me Ezra?" Josiah wanted to know.

"Nathan was busy, Chris needed him more, I could wait. Chris is more important besides, it wasn't like I was dying or anything." Ezra muttered, his eyes closed but he heard Josiah's spoken words.

"Like hell he is!" Josiah growled down at him.

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


Josiah watched from the porch of the house, the Southerner had continued to be stubborn, he had refused to stay in bed any longer and be administered to by Nathan when Chris needed him more, Josiah wasn't able to convince Ezra that he also needed Nathan, he had been seriously ill for the first twenty four hours after he found him. Ezra had given him and Nathan quite a scare. And now after only giving himself two days to recover Ezra had found his way to the outside world where he was once again looking for his diamond, he was only doing it because he had made sure that Chris was alright, he had gone to see him to make sure.

The ex-preacher stepped off the porch and headed towards the smaller man. Ezra still looked weak and had stopped occasionally to place his hands on his knees for a few minutes at a time to get his strength back then he'd continue in his search. Josiah didn't say anything when he reached him but started to help him look for the missing diamond.

"Something I can help you with Josiah." Ezra asked him.

"Nope, thought I'd help you with something for a change." Josiah smiled at him. "After we find this diamond of yours you want to come and supervise my golfing skills?"

"I have enough injuries thankyou Josiah." Ezra smiled back. "You've mastered the humility but I don't believe that you'll ever master the game, you just don't have the right swinging technique."

"And how would you know?" Josiah asked him.

"Mr Sanchez, you continually hit the trees with the ball, if you had the ability to play the game you wouldn't be causing mother nature to cringe everytime you pick up the club." Ezra moved towards a spot where the sun glittered off something. "Found it!"

Ezra bent and grimaced in pain but he saw Josiah's large hand reach down in front of him and pick it up. Josiah handed him the piece of rock he had risked his life for.

"You still think that this is worth more than your life?" Josiah looked down into Ezra's green eyes. "Because I don't."

"You were right Josiah, it's my way of life, money always comes first, I'm trying to change but when you wave something like this in front of me . . . " Ezra lifted the diamond up and smiled at it's value in money.

"Ezra, would you have risked one of our lives for that diamond?" Josiah became serious but he smiled when there was no hesitation at all in the Southerner's answer.

"Of course not." Ezra told him.

"Then why risk yours?"

"I've always been told that my life isn't worthwhile, that I'm not worthwhile, guess it sort of stuck, something like that is hard to get rid of." Ezra hid the bitterness that he felt at the memories those words brought back.

"Well, I for one think that your life is worth something, even if it's only for target practice." Josiah grabbed his arm and pulled him towards the clearing so he could continue to practice his golf.

"Target practice?" Ezra was shocked, but it was more at the thought that Josiah thought his life did have some meaning, this man actually thought he was worth something, it was a new feeling for him.

"I think the trees need a rest Ezra, I mean you said it yourself that mother nature is cringing." Josiah continued to pull the struggling gambler behind him.

"What about Buck and Vin, they deserve the pain more than I do." Ezra protested.

Josiah stopped in his tracks and smiled at Ezra. "You know, I think your right, you make yourself comfortable in a safe place so you can watch, I'll go and get them."

Ezra found himself a shady spot and sat down more behind the tree than in front of it, he only had to wait a few minutes before Josiah returned with two of their friends, the guilt was still evident on Buck and Vin's faces.

"You want to explain the rules of the game Ezra." Josiah smiled down at him.

"I would be honoured Mr Sanchez." Ezra looked up at Buck and Vin. "You two gentlemen have to stand over there near the trees," Ezra pointed to a direction behind the three men, "Josiah hits the ball with a club and you have to try and stop it from hitting the trees."

"What?" Buck muttered.

"You have to use your body to stop the ball from hitting the tree." Ezra explained more quickly then used his hands to motion to them to move away. "Move along, times wasting away."

"I'm not sure about that Ezra." Vin argued.

"You would prefer that a sick man with a broken rib do it?" Ezra looked up at him.

"We're going!" Buck growled.

"I think I'm going to enjoy this Josiah." Ezra smiled, the mishevious grin caused his dimples to appear.

"You and me both Ezra." Josiah agreed before he moved to his position to start the game.


The End

 


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