azombiewrites: (The Magnificent Seven)
[personal profile] azombiewrites
Title: Payback
Fourth story in 'The Continuing Ezra Standish Saga'
Rating: PG
Warnings: Bad writing ahead!
Fandom: The Magnificent Seven
Genre: Hurt/Comfort
Summary: Ezra is still recovering when Maude arrives in Four Corners and as she struggles to find out what happened to her son a group of men also arrive in town looking for a high stakes game of poker with Ezra Standish but they loose heavily and they want pay back.
Main Characters: Ezra, the rest of the seven, Maude Standish
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. *is ashamed*
Notes: Fourth story in the ‘Continuing Ezra Standish Saga’.
Spoilers: None.
Word Count: 20,471




Part One


It had been two weeks since Jean had left town and Ezra was still recovering from his ordeal. He was still having some symptoms remaining from the poison and Nathan couldn't understand why. Ezra had still not regained his full strength; he also suffered from headaches and occasionally became dizzy. Nathan had ordered him to get a lot of rest and not to do anything to strenuous but he didn’t have any trouble convincing Ezra to do this as he still spent a lot of time sleeping. He was also not eating well and had lost a bit of weight all of which continued to worry Nathan and the others. Nathan was hoping that it was because his body was still not completely rid of the poison and that it would still take a bit more time before he was fully recovered. That was what he hoped anyway.

During all this Ezra had begun to become frustrated at the attention that he was again receiving and to make things worse his mother was due to arrive in town today. He had gotten a telegram the week before telling him that she was coming to visit. He had sent one back to tell her that there was no need as he doing fine but he had gotten no answer, which meant that she had ignored what he had to say as she always did and was coming anyway. He knew that once his mother found out what had been happening to him that he would never hear the end of it. She would tell him that his was wasting his God given talents. He should not be spending his time protecting people that he should be conning money out of, that he should not have allowed himself to become friends with the townsfolk. It had made him soft. Why would his risk his own life for these people.

The coach was due to arrive in one hour and already he was pacing on the porch outside of the saloon. Chris, Vin and Nathan were also there watching him with smiles on their faces at the nervousness that they thought he was feeling and keeping inside the worry that they were feeling.

"Ezra, why don't you just sit down before you tire yourself out." Nathan had gotten up and stood in the way of Ezra's path to stop him from continuing his pacing.

Ezra just gave him a cold look and walked around him. He continued like this until he had begun to feel dizzy and he grabbed hold of the railing to stop himself from falling. Nathan quickly took hold of his arm to support him until the dizziness had passed but Ezra just shrugged him off, went, and sat down in one of the chairs next to Chris who glanced sideways at Ezra and noticed how pale he still looked.

"Did Maude say how long she was going to stay in town for?" he asked hoping to distract Ezra from whatever it was that was causing the bad mood, not realising that his mother's impending arrival was one of the reasons behind the change of mood.

"No, she didn't, hopefully it won't be too long," he answered as he began to massage his temples.

"You got one of those headaches again, Ezra?" Nathan was watching him carefully. He did a lot of this lately and he would continue to do so until he knew that Ezra had fully recovered.

Ezra didn’t answer him though. Instead, he started to get up. "I need a drink," was all he said.

"Why don't I get us all a drink?" said Vin as he too started to get up.

"I’m quite capable of getting my own drink thank you, Mr. Tanner," growled Ezra.

"Just trying to help," shrugged Vin.

Ezra wanted to tell them again that he didn’t need their help but he knew they would just ignore him as they always did. Everyone seemed to be ignoring what he had to say lately. He got up intending to go into the saloon but he had to sit down again as he still felt slightly dizzy.

"On second thoughts, Mr. Tanner, why don't you get the drinks?"

Vin put on a false smile and nodded to Ezra. "Sure."

When Vin returned with the drinks, he saw that Ezra was leaning back in the chair with his eyes closed. "Is Ezra asleep again?"

"No, I’m not!" He answered before anybody else could. "I was merely resting my eyes." He didn’t open them though nor did he make any sort of movement to get his drink from Vin.

He sat back and closed his eyes because the sunlight was making his headache worse. He was getting a lot of them lately. Nathan had told him that it was due to the poison that woman had given him. He had no idea why she had done it. Jean had told him that the woman enjoyed doing that sort of thing but that was not a real explanation to him. He wished that Jean were here now so he could talk to her, he had been able to tell her things that he would not tell anyone else. Maybe when his mother left and he felt better he would go and visit her.

Ezra continued to sit back with his eyes closed while the others silently watched him.

"Do you gentlemen have nothing better to do than to sit there and watch me?"

"Nope," smiled Chris. "Just waiting for the stagecoach to come in."

"Just great," muttered Ezra.

"Good morning," said Josiah as he walked up the steps to join the men already gathered there. He had a huge smile on his face at the thought of seeing Maude Standish again but the smile turned to concern as everyone but Ezra looked at him. He thought that he was sleeping again.

"What are you dressed up for, Josiah?" asked Vin knowing that he wanted to impress Maude when she arrived. Josiah had really liked Maude and would have courted her except for the fact that Ezra had told her that he was penniless.

"I’ve come to meet Ezra's mother," he smiled again.

"You don't have a chance, Mr. Sanchez, as she’s only interested in men who are rich and gullible," he scowled.

"Now is that anyway to talk about your mother, Ezra," he said.

Ezra finally opened his eyes then, he got up and took a moment to steady himself and then walked over to Josiah who flinched at the anger that his green eyes held. "You don’t know my mother, and you have no idea what she’s capable of doing to get what she wants."

Ezra turned then at the sound of the stagecoach coming into town. He opened his mouth to say good lord but stopped when he remembered what happened the last two times he said that.

Ezra held onto the railing while the others gathered around him. They watched the stagecoach come to a stop. He saw that the top of the coach was full of luggage again and groaned silently at the thought of having to carry those bags, which he hoped, were not full of bricks. He didn’t have the strength to carry them. He stepped forward making sure that he didn’t move to quickly as the dizziness was not completely gone yet. He opened the door to find his mother smiling down at him, he smiled back but the smile didn’t reach his eyes. Maude stepped down from the coach and looked at her son the smile leaving her face as she noticed his pale complexion, she stepped back and looked him over also noticing that he had lost weight since she last saw him. She frowned but didn’t say anything to him she would do that later when they were alone.

"Ezra, dear, it's so nice to see you again, I've missed you," she gave him a small hug which he didn’t return.

"Mother."

Maude kept the smile that she had put back on and looked towards the other men that were with her son.

"Gentlemen."

They tipped their hats in her direction. Josiah stepped forward, took her hand, and placed it against his lips.

"I’m glad that you have returned to our town dear lady," he smiled at her.

She smiled back at him; she liked this man even though he had no money. She looked back at Ezra who seemed to becoming paler with each moment. Nathan had also noticed and moved towards the luggage that the stagecoach driver was removing from the coach. Vin and Chris also began to pick up the luggage following Nathan's lead and headed towards the Hotel. Maude couldn’t help but notice this as she took her son's arm as they followed the others. Ezra was glad that they had picked up his mother's luggage. He knew he would not be able to do it as he was beginning to feel worse and he was becoming very tired. He would have to spend a short time with his mother and then make his excuses so he could go and rest. He had already arranged a room for Maude. It was only a matter of getting the key for her and making sure that she was comfortable in the room that he had chosen.

Once the others had put all of her luggage in her room, they left Ezra and his mother but they didn’t leave the Hotel. They waited for him downstairs. They also saw that he had begun to look worse and they wanted to make sure he got back to his own room to get the rest that he needed to continue his recovery.

Ezra sat down on the bed because he knew that if continued to stand that he may end up falling down. Maude looked down at him.

"Ezra, have you been ill? You look pale and you have lost weight haven't you?" She sat down next to him and took his hand in hers feeling how warm it was.

He matched her poker face with one of his own. "Yes, but it’s nothing to worry about. Nathan said that I’ll be fine, that I just need a little more time to get over it. Speaking of which I’m feeling a little tired and I’m sure that you would like to freshen up after your trip so I’ll leave you for now and perhaps we could meet for dinner later this evening."

Without another word, he got up and left his mother sitting on the bed watching his back as he left her room. When he closed the door behind him, he leant against it waiting for the dizziness that had returned to its full force to pass. When he had steadied himself, he began to descend the stairs only to find the others at the bottom waiting for him.

"Ezra, I think that you should go and get some rest." Nathan was concerned at how much paler Ezra had become.

"I have all intentions of doing so, Mr. Jackson," replied Ezra.

He only took two steps before he felt the dizziness take control of him again and he collapsed to the floor. Nathan rushed to his side with the others close behind him. He rolled Ezra over on to his back and checked him over quickly.

"Josiah?" Nathan glanced up at him seeing the worry on everyone's faces. Josiah nodded; he knew what he was asking. He bent down, lifted Ezra into his arms, and carried him to his own room at the saloon.

JD and Buck had joined the others in the saloon who were waiting for Nathan to come down and tell them how Ezra was. They had waited only fifteen minutes before Nathan joined them. He saw them all looking at him with an unanswered question on their faces.

"Ezra's okay, he's just sleeping."

"Why isn't he getting better, Nathan?" asked JD.

"He is, it's just going to take time, what that woman did to him took a lot out of him and we can't expect him to his old self in only a couple of weeks."

JD was not convinced and neither were the others.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0


Maude entered the saloon later that evening looking for her son who was going to take her to dinner. Josiah greeted her.

"Maude, would you allow me to escort you to dinner as Ezra is not feeling himself at the moment. He went to his room earlier today and he’s still sleeping." Josiah smiled trying to reassure her that Ezra was okay.

"Of course, Mr. Sanchez, I would be honoured and perhaps during the meal you could tell me what’s wrong with my son." She smiled back at him.

"Ezra, didn’t tell you?"

"Mr. Sanchez, surely you know what Ezra is like."

Josiah nodded, he should have realised that Ezra told his mother about as much as he told them. "I’m not sure that it would be in my best interests to tell you Maude as you also know what he’s like." Josiah knew that if he told Maude something that Ezra didn’t want her to know then it could mean his life as he would not be happy about it at all and with the mood, which he was in now he could be more dangerous than Chris could even if he was not himself physically yet. He also decided that it would be best if Ezra told her, himself about what he had been through lately.

They spent a pleasant evening together and when the meal had ended, they returned to the saloon for a quiet game of poker. While they were there Mary Travis entered the room carrying a tray, she saw Maude and went over to her to welcome her back to Four Corners.

"Mrs. Standish, it’s so nice to see you back in town, will you be staying long?"

Maude was surprised to see her in the saloon; she thought that she was the type of woman that thought she was too good to be in one. "Mrs. Travis, I'm glad to be back. What is it you have there?" she asked curious to find out what she was doing in here.

Josiah who was at the poker table with Maude, Vin and JD knew what Mary was doing as she did it quite often.

"I'm taking a tray of food up for, Mr. Standish. Chris told me that he had been sleeping all afternoon and I assumed that as usual he would not come down for a meal so I brought him one so when he wakes up later he can eat something if he was hungry. He hasn’t been eating enough these last two weeks." She began to turn away. "Perhaps we can meet for lunch before you leave town."

"Yes of course, we could talk about Ezra perhaps, maybe you could tell me what's been going on," frowning at the thought that he hadn’t been eating.

"Yes, perhaps we could." Mary smiled and headed towards the stairs.

Maude turned to Vin and JD who looked down at their cards knowing what the expression on her face was saying. It was the first time since they had met her that they saw any real emotion there. She wanted to know what was going on but they were not going to tell her as they knew what Ezra's reaction would be if they did.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0


Mary knocked gently on the door in case Ezra was awake but when she didn’t receive a reply, she entered his room. She saw that he was still sleeping; she went over to the other side of his bed and left the tray on the side table. Mary looked down at his face and could see the light sheen of sweat that had gathered there and she placed her hand on his forehead feeling the warmth that was there thinking at the same time that he had a slight temperature. She pulled his bed covers up back over him, as he must have tossed them off some time during the day. She then left his room taking one last glance at him before closing the door.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0


The next morning Maude went looking for Nathan, she wanted to know what was wrong with Ezra and if any would tell her then it would be him but she was wrong. She found him in his room, as he had just finished treating someone with a gunshot wound. Chris was with them as he wanted to know how the man had been shot but the person would not tell him and as it was, only a flesh wound he got up and left as soon as Nathan had cleaned and bandaged the wound.

Maude didn’t bother with good mornings, as she wanted to know what they knew about her son. "Mr. Jackson, I would like to know what’s wrong with Ezra. He told me that he had been sick and that you said he would be okay but that is all he told me."

"I'm sorry, Maude, but if Ezra wanted you to know he would have told you himself."

She looked at Chris to see if he was willing to answer the question but he just looked at her. "But he hasn't told me and I want to know. From what I can gather he’s sleeping a lot and not eating and he’s also very pale and no one will tell me why."

"You’ll have to ask him."

"Nathan, you know that he won't tell me."

"I'm sorry, Maude. I can't go behind his back and tell you what happened to him." Nathan was beginning to become nervous, he didn’t want to get on Ezra's bad side but he also didn’t like to keep Maude in the dark.

"What do you mean happened to him?" she questioned him. "I thought that he had been sick."

Nathan glanced at Chris. "Well in a way he was." Before Maude could ask him anything else that might get him into trouble, he made a suggestion. "Would you like me to talk to Ezra, get him to tell you what happened or maybe he might let me tell you."

"I would appreciate that Nathan, thank you." She smiled, grateful that she may finally find out what everybody but she knew. "And when will you do this as I would like to know as soon as possible?"

"Let's give him a couple of more hours as he does not get up this early in the morning then I’ll talk to him."

"Thank you," she nodded to Chris and left.

"Let me know when you’re ready to talk to him so I can give you the protection you’re going to need because you know how he’s going to react." Smiled Chris on his way out the door.

Nathan was beginning to regret the suggestion already.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0


Ezra woke with a groan; he grimaced at the light that was creeping through the curtain into the room. He tried to sit up but a wave of nausea overcame him and he fell back onto his bed, he also had a headache already. He realised that he must have slept since yesterday morning. He waited for a few minutes then tried again, this time managing to get himself out of bed, it took him a while to get dressed and once he had accomplished that task, he headed down to the saloon. He hadn’t bothered to shave as he felt that he would not be able to stand for such a long period of time, all he wanted to do was to sit down and have a drink. Once he got his bottle of whiskey and a glass, he went to his usual table in the corner of the saloon not even glancing at his colleagues who were sitting at one of the tables that he had passed. He sat down and drank two shots straight away. He needed the drink, as he had to be prepared for his mother's questions as to why he didn’t meet her for dinner last night.

Nathan, Chris and Vin had seen Ezra come down the stairs from his room get a bottle of whiskey and head to his table. He didn't seem to see them as he passed them. Nathan looked at Chris who smiled as if to say well you offered you go talk to him. Nathan grimaced and got up; he walked slowly over to the table that Ezra was sitting at.

"Mind if I sit down, Ezra?"

"Yes I do." Was the simple reply.

Nathan didn’t sit down but he continued to speak. "I saw Maude this morning, she wanted to know how you were doing, wanted to know what was wrong."

"Well I hope for your sake, Mr. Jackson, you didn’t tell her." Ezra brought his eyes up to meet Nathan's and they were cold and full of anger.

Nathan looked over his shoulder at Chris who was watching the scene intently ready for Ezra's reaction, as he was sure that there was going to be one. He knew that when Ezra was like this he was capable of doing anything, and this was when he was at his most dangerous. In the last week his mood had become very sour, they knew he was angry about something but not what it was but they did know that when he was in this mood that they were best to leave him alone. Sometimes they had no choice though and this was one of those moments as Maude wanted to know what was going on and Nathan had made the mistake of offering to talk to him for her.

"I told Maude that I would talk to you about it, see if you would tell her or I could tell her if you want me to."

"No I don't want you too and what gives you the right to discuss any of this with her?"

"She's worried about you, Ezra."

Ezra actually laughed at that. "Worried, my mother? She has never worried about me so why should she be worried now."

"Well she’s and she wants to know what happened to you." Nathan decided it was now or never. "And if you don't tell her then I will."

Ezra stood up slowly and moved around the table to stand in front of Nathan. Chris saw this and he moved towards Nathan. Ezra looked at him.

"Excuse me!" He growled through clenched teeth.

"You heard me, Ezra, she needs to know." Nathan stood his ground.

"My mother needs to know nothing." Nathan saw a change come over Ezra's face but it was gone as quick as it came. "She never wanted to know before just as she never worried about me before. Now if you will excuse me I have a bottle to finish."

"I mean it Ezra, if you don't tell her then I will," he repeated.

Chris was standing to the side watching and waiting but he didn’t expect Ezra to be so quick with the way that he had been feeling. Before he could stop him, Ezra gave Nathan a right hand uppercut that knocked the healer off his feet. Chris grabbed hold of Ezra as he went to hit Nathan again.

"Ezra, that's enough," said Chris as he struggled to hold him. Ezra stopped and Chris let go of him.

He looked at Nathan and then back at Chris.

"That's not enough; I have had it with the lot of you. None of you will leave me alone; you keep interfering with my life, why can't you just for once do what I ask of you. I don't want you to tell my mother what happened."

"Why don't you want her to know, she’s your mother Ezra?" asked Nathan as he rubbed his jaw.

Ezra suddenly felt tired again, he sat down and put his head in his hands. Chris and Nathan sat down with him. "I just don't want to tell her yet, why can't you just leave it at that, why do you have to keep pushing me on everything."

"We want to help," said Chris.

"This is not helping," said Ezra.

"Would you at least do one thing for us if we drop the subject?" Chris asked. Ezra looked up at him. "Put that bottle of whiskey back and have something to eat."

"I'm not hungry."

"Jeez Ezra, you don't make it easy for us do you," smiled Chris.

It was at this moment that Maude decided to enter the saloon. They all saw her arrive. Ezra looked at Nathan and Chris. "Please don’t tell her, I’ll do it in my own time."

Chris heard the pleading in his voice. In his own time, he had said, he didn’t know if Ezra would do this or not, he remembered that he and the others had agreed to tell Ezra how they felt in their own time, which was something they had still not done.

"For now, Ezra."

Ezra sighed with relief.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0


JD watched as the stagecoach rolled into town for the second time in two days. He had been on his way to the saloon to see how Ezra was doing when he saw it coming. He stopped to watch who had arrived. He watched the four men exit the stagecoach all of whom seemed to be dressed similar to Ezra but somehow they didn’t seem to carry the look off. He went to enter the saloon when he heard one of them ask a question of him and he stopped in his tracks.

"Excuse me could you tell us where we could find Ezra Standish?" One of them asked.

"Ezra Standish?" JD pretended that he didn’t know Ezra especially after what had happened to him. "No, I don't sorry," he then continued into the saloon to see Ezra sitting at his usual table talking to his mother, he went over to Chris.

When Maude Standish had walked into the saloon she went straight to the table that Ezra was sitting at, Nathan shook his head at her silently telling her that he had no success when he spoke to Ezra, she asked Nathan and Chris to leave them alone. They had done so but they were not going to be too far away.

"Chris, some men just arrived on the stagecoach and their asking for Ezra."

Chris looked at Nathan and Vin and together they walked out of the saloon looking for the men that JD had just told them about. They were still standing next to the stagecoach waiting for their luggage to be unloaded. They turned when they heard Chris's voice.

"I understand that you gentlemen are looking for Ezra," he said in a cold voice.

"Uh yeah, we heard of his reputation when it came to poker and we were hoping to play a game with him, if he would allow us to that is." one of them smiled and put out his hand. "My name is George Davis and these other men are," he pointed to each one after realising that the man was not going to shake his hand,

"Peter Tombs, Bill Newman and Roger Shelby."

"You want to play poker with him?" Chris asked but didn’t wait for an answer. "He's busy at the moment you will have to see him later but I'm sure he won't say no to a game, it's what he needs right now," he didn't answer the questioning look that appeared on their faces at that remark.

"Sure, we need to get a room anyway, so where can we find him later," he asked again.

"In here." Chris pointed behind him into the saloon.

The four men tipped their hats, picked up their luggage, and headed in the direction of the Hotel.

"Keep an eye on them," he said to JD.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0


Maude sat down and looked at her son. She thought that he looked terrible, he looked like he had just thrown his clothes on and he hadn’t shaved. She waited for him to acknowledge her but he continued to look down at his glass.

"Ezra, are you going to tell me what has been going on?" she asked him.

Ezra had finally managed to put his poker face on, this was something that his mother had taught him to do, and he looked up at her. "No!"

"And why not?" She demanded.

"Because there’s no need for you to know."

"Of course there’s a need for me to know, I’m your mother."

Ezra smiled at that. "Are you going to start telling me about how you raised me again?" His voice had a sarcastic tone that Maude didn’t like.

"Ezra, you look terrible, something has happened to you and I want to know what it was."

Ezra could feel his headache getting worse. He rubbed his eyes hoping that it would ease the pain that he felt behind them. "I don't want to talk about it Mother. Now would you please leave me alone?"

"There’s something wrong now isn't there, are you in some sort of pain, will you please tell me." She reached over and put her hand against his right cheek. She was shocked when he roughly brushed her hand aside.

"I simply have a headache, that's all."

"There’s more to it than that, Ezra, I’m your mother and I demand to know what’s going on!" She was becoming angry. She couldn’t understand why he would not talk to her.

"You can demand all you want, mother, but I’m not going to tell you, I'm not ready to tell you. Now will you please leave me alone?"

"No."

Ezra made a move to get up but Maude grabbed his arm, he looked down at her. She could see the anger in his eyes and she didn’t understand it, he had been angry with her before but never like this. He had changed since he had become a lawman here; he was not the same man that she knew as her son.

Ezra pulled his arm away, he needed to be alone, and he decided to go back to his room. Ezra walked away leaving Maude sitting at the table confused, hurt and becoming angry herself. She was going to find the underlying cause of this; she turned around in her chair and saw Chris and the others watching her. She got up and went over to them intending to find out what she can.







Part One | Part Two


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