Out of the Past
Disclaimer: I don't own the seven, I'm just borrowing them. Don't bother suing me, I'm not worth anything.
Authors Note: This one sat in the depths of my desktop for a long while and I started working on it again. There's more to come, I promise.
It was mid-November and the whistling wind was more than enough to chill every bone inside your body. It was the kind of wind that cuts through your clothes and seems to turn your flesh to ice.
These were the thoughts that swam through Ezra's mind as he was riding back from Yuma prison to Four Corners with Buck Wilmington, on a basically average and completely uneventful (not to mention boring and far, far too long) trip to drop off a prisoner. They were very close to reaching Four Corners and Ezra couldn't wait to get home. HOME, when did that dusty little town become so revered as for anyone to call it home? Oh, who are you kidding Standish, you love Four Corners and couldn't dream of living anywhere else.
Yes, Ezra Standish had finally found a place to call home and he honestly looked forward to going home and spending Thanksgiving with his adopted family. These thoughts that Ezra's seemingly split personality involuntarily argued back and forth were annoying but they brought a smile to the gambler's face as the wind kicked up again and Ezra unconsciously pulled his coat up a little bit tighter around his neck. Chaucer wasn't any happier with the weather conditions than Ezra and the normally calm and intensely easy-going horse was now getting somewhat skittish. This concerned Ezra because as the large chestnut stallion's ears began tilting back and forth Ezra suddenly realized that Chaucer's jittery behavior had absolutely nothing to do with the weather.
"Mr. Wilmington, Chaucer appears to be somewhat skittish and I do not believe it is an effect of the inclement weather. I am concerned there may be some danger coming, for Chaucer does scare easily."
"'Fraid I've got to agree with ya on this one Ez, Lady here seems to be feelin' a bit skittish herself," Buck unhappily agreed, " We'd best..."
But whatever he was about to say was cut off by the sudden blast of gunfire that erupted around the two men. Despite the unease of both Lady and Chaucer the two well-trained horses knew not to take of or buck at the startling sound of the gunfire that went off around them. As a reflex Ezra drew his gun and began firing in the assumed direction of his and Buck's pursuers while at the same time looking for a place to take cover. In Ezra's search for cover he saw Lady but didn't see Buck. Where could he be...Oh no, I hope Buck is not injured.
The distinct and utterly unmistakable click of a gun behind Ezra's head caused his musings of Buck's whereabouts to vanish while the gruff voice of the gun-handler spoke. "Hey, pretty boy, quit yer shootin', or I'm gonna start."
"Alright boys we got um both, ya can quit yer shootin'," the gruff man yelled out, "And you, pretty boy, git off yer horse and come with me."
Ezra paused a moment to consider his options when a pair of strong, rough hands ripped him from the saddle and down to the hard dirt floor that made up the dry, desert-like area that made up the landscape around Four Corners. As Ezra was about to attempt to stand and regain some composure, a swift set of punches assaulted his midsection. Then a kick struck him in the side of the head. The pain was excruciating. Then another kick, almost simultaneous, landed directly on Ezra's temple knocking him unconscious.
"You bastards!" Buck Wilmington yelled as he helplessly watched Ezra be torn from his horse kicked unconscious and now the beating continued despite Ezra's unconscious state. He was continuously kicked in the head the man pulled a knife and attempted to slash Ezra's chest. The injury would have been severe except that, luckily for Ezra, the knife wielder chose to make the cut along the exact line of his hidden gun belt that went across his chest. Though blood oozed out the damage was minimal thanks to the heavy leather that made up the straps.
"Whoa, there Wilmington," the gruff man replied, "you best watch yourself or your gettin' it next. Cordwell," he addressed one of the two new arrivals that had provided the gunfire on Wilmington and Standish, "You tie him up and gag him good," he gestured toward Buck.
"OK, Mac," Cordwell replied addressing the gruff leader of the posse.
"Stevens, git on over here and pick this sorry excuse up and tie 'im and gag 'im along with Wilmington. Then tie 'im to his horse good and make sure Wilmington gits tied to his horse to. We best git movin' and set up camp a safe place away," Mac finished by addressing the whole group.
They worked quickly and Buck was helpless to stop them from injuring Ezra further. Within minutes both Ezra and Buck were tied to their horses and the posse was ready to start moving in the opposite direction of Four Corners.
Chris Larabee, Nathan Jackson, Josiah Sanchez, Vin Tanner, and JD Dunne all sat at their normal table in the Standish Tavern, drinking the usual, Red Eye Whiskey and playing some possibly profitable poker since Ezra wasn't currently in town.
"I?m out," Vin stated as he through down his cards, "you deal out hands as bad as the ones Ezra deals Josiah."
"Just doin' what I can, brother," Josiah answered, in his typical soothing baritone voice.
"I'm out too," JD stated, obviously disappointed that he couldn't even win when Ezra wasn't there to beat him. "Hey, Chris, when are Buck and Ezra due back?" JD asked his mood lightening with the thought of Buck getting back. Things had been really dull since Buck and Ezra had left.
"Well JD, they telegraphed a week ago saying they'd made the drop-off safely, I reckoned they'd be back by today, but they probably stopped off somewhere."
"You don't think they're in trouble, do ya?" JD asked.
"Naw," Vin's quiet voice lulled in, "Ez and Buck probably stopped off somewhere, and, well you know them Buck's probably warm in some poor woman's bed and Ezra's prob'ly busy win'n everybody's money"
"Yeah JD, don't worry none," Nathan added, "'sides Buck and Ezra know how to take care of themselves."
"Well they better get themselves back here soon, they've got a job to do that don't include gambling and sleeping with pretty women." Chris' statement put an end to that line of conversation.
Buck Wilmington was worried. In fact he was more than worried he was downright scared. Ezra hadn't regained consciousness and Buck could see a decidedly gray pallor forming on Ezra's skin. And sweat beads forming on the gambler's forehead even though the day was cool and breezy. They'd been riding hard for about an hour with no end in sight, and the ride was obviously taking a toll on the gambler despite his unconscious state.
5 HOURS LATER
They had finally reached a stop and Buck and Ezra's captors had less than gently removed the two men from their horses.
"Look at the fancy one, Mac," the man called Steven's said, "DeCapri said he wanted um alive, an' he don't look so good."
"Yeah, yer right Stevens, I guess pretty boy is 'bout as tough as he looks," this garnered a good laugh from the group of ugly men, before Mac continued, "'Ey Wilmington, we'll untie ya so's ya can take care o' fancy pants over there but don't you go causin' no trouble or we'll doll out some more pain for the both of ya."
Buck eagerly waited as they roughly untied him, leaving him to untie the gag himself. They'd left him with a canteen of water and Buck took a quick sip and then went to tending Ezra's various wounds. Buck was no doctor but it was pretty easy for him to tell that at least five ribs on Ezra's left side were broken with one protruding from the skin. Buck quickly went to the saddle bag contents his captors had dumped out for him to use to care for the gambler. Buck quickly grabbed one of the extra shirts he always carried with him and ripped into strips to clean and bandage the wounds. Buck took Ezra's flask of whiskey and ignored his want to drink of the fine whiskey he knew the gambler's flask contained and went straight to pouring the whiskey over the broken skin that covered Ezra's bruised and battered body.
"Ez, buddy, can ya hear me," Buck whispered, "Come on Ez, wake up, ya gotta wake up, we have to talk." As Buck continued to try to verbally coax Ezra out of his unconcsious state the whiskey that he was pouring over Ezra's wounds was doing a much better job as Ezra began to moan.
"That's it, comeon Ez, wake up," Buck continued to gently coax the injured gambler who he greatly feared for after seeing his numerous injuries.
"Mr. Wilmington? What happened? Are you alright?" Ezra groggily asked Buck, still trapped in a haze of pain. Ezra's talking didn't make Buck feel better, in truth hearing the soft southern drawl made him feel more concern for his friend. He knew the gambler must be badly injured and in severe pain because Ezra wasn't able to hide his pain behind inpenitrable emerald eyes and his skilled and infamous poker face. Also the absence of Ezra's ever-present five-dollar words.
"Yeah Ez, it's me. We got taken prisoner by some guys who it looks like took us as a job to bring us to another guy called DiCapri."
"Buck, are you ok?" Oh man, Ez must be in really bad shape not only is he not talking in his fancy words, but he's not even calling me Mr. Wilmington anymore.
"Yeah, Ez, I'm just fine, you're the one who's hurt."
"But you're okay?"
"Good, Buck I'm tired, I'm going to go back to sleep, I can't stay awake any more."
"No, Ez, ya gotta stay awake, I think ya got a concussion and you know how Nathan always tells us not to sleep when ya got a head injury."
"But I'm so tired and my chest hurts so much, please Buck, lemme go to sleep," Ezra began to slur his words and the pleading was something Buck was not only unaccustomed to but in truth it frightened him, hearing it from the normally unflappable gambler. Ezra seemed so young and vulnerable. In truth that was what scared Buck the most.
"No, Ezra!" Buck was stern. Ezra could not go to sleep. If he did Buck was afraid that he may never wake up again.
"Now Ez, you got any idea who this DeCapri is, it seems this guy wants to get you. Seems these bastards who took us are gettin paid to take us to this guy. Ya got any idea who he is?"
"Good Lord, what's this man's name?"
"DeCapri, you know 'im."
"Unfortunately," was the answer that Ezra gave with a very pained expression on his face that Buck suspected wasn't a result of the beating Ezra had taken but the fact that he knew the man who had caused them this trouble.
"Well, Ez how do ya know 'im?" Buck gently questioned the injured and now somewhat upset gambler.
"He was one of my many stepfathers, one of the more nasty ones, I might add."
"Why would your stepfather want to do this to you?" Buck questioned wondering how anyone could hate their wife's child that much.
"Well, Buck, he never liked me, always told my mother I got in the way, that is during the rare times when I was actually with them. He used to beat me with his belt for no reason at all. But really he was also very cruel to my mother much more cruel then he ever was to me, I suspect. He used to beat her very badly. I mean, when I was with them I could hear her screaming for him to stop hurting her, finally some time later she left him and I hadn't heard anything of him since then."
Buck's anger fumed at the thought of anyone beating their wife and her helpless child. "Jeez, Ez, that's terrible but it doesn't explain why he'd want to come after you now, I mean how old were you then?"
"I was only nine. I haven't the slightest idea why but I'm willing to bet it has something to do with my mother. Even through he beat her so badly he was very possessive of her, obsessed you might say." all the talking had worn Ezra out, so he took a deep breath, which caused hem such severe pain that he was once again pulled into unconsciousness.
The next morning 5am
"C'mon Steven's git the hell up, we got ta git monvin' Decapri's expectin' us and you know how pissed the old man will be if we ain't there on time!" Mac yelled, angry because as good as Steven's was he never could get up on time.
"Cordwell git the prisoners, Stevens git yer useless self dressed and pack this stuff up," Mac commanded.
Bailey Cordwell headed over to the trees by the stream where they'd left Standish and Wilmington the night before. He made his way to where he saw the unconscious form he knew only as Standish. He looked around to try to find Wilmington. He was caught completely unawares when Buck Wilmington swung from a tree and kicked Bailey Cordwell in the head so hard that blood oozed from the gash that appeared on the man's forehead. Unconsciousness enveloped him with such speed that he didn't have time to make a sound before his limp body hit the ground with a thud.
Buck had devised this plan after Ezra had told him about his former stepfather. He decided that he in no way wished to meet this man and doubted that Ezra wanted to see him again, especially under their current circumstances. The plan was simple. Take all the bastards down one by one, beat 'em, tie 'em, gag 'em, and head back to Four Corners. Then find this bastard DeCapri and give him the punishment he deserves for beating women and children. In any event, Buck decided to take out that Steven's guy next.
Will Stevens squatted to pick up the utensils he, Mac, and Cordwell had used the night before to cook supper with. He grumbled that he always had to be the old maid and pick up the clothes and cook and pick up the cooking stuff. Why don't these two pains in the ass just offer me their hands in marriage? However these sarcastic and somewhat frightening thoughts were the last thoughts that swept through Stevens' mind. This was because Stevens, so lost in thought, never heard Buck pick up the frying pan or walk up behind him, however he did hear the clung of the frying pan as it smacked his head, that is before he lost consciousness.
Two down, one to go, Buck Wilmington thought to himself as he tied up and gagged Stevens the same way he had tied and gagged Cordwell.
Deacon Mackenzie, or Mac, as everybody called him quietly tended the horses thinking, no dreaming, hell drooling over all the money that stupid old bastard, Decapri, was paying to bring in one lousy gambler. Crack, Snap.
Mac heard the sound of twigs breaking beneath boots and assumed it was Stevens or Cordwell. The sound stopped and no one came up to him so Mac turned just in time to see the prisoner, Wilmington, walking up to him, armed with a frying pan. With much faster speed then Buck expected Mac drew his gun and pulled the trigger just as Buck brought the frying pan down so hard on Mac's head that he heard the gut wrenching crunch of bone.
The limp bodies of both Buck and Mac hit the ground.