No infringement of the following characters and situations is intended.
Warning: Rated [MA] Mature Adults only. Contains m/m themes and violence
Title: Tennessee Waltz
Series: Magnificent Seven
Status: WIP #4 Part 7/9 Sequel to Fall From Grace
Archive: Yes to EBoS
Pairing: Ezra/Buck (some other pairings, suggested pairings, unresolved longings and jealousies)
Date: May 2002 - November 2003
Disclaimers: Don't own these characters, MGM and the rest do. No copyright infringement is intended or inferred.
Warnings: slash, H/C, extreme violence, m/m hanky panky, drug use, nudity, coarse language, adult themes
Spoilers: Season 1 & 2
Summary: Chris tries to spare Ezra the blood on his hands.
Notes: Now I know I have to post this because I can hear the whisper of someone playing the theme from "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly" somewhere on the floor.
Buck knocked on the door loudly, then flung it open a second later, not waiting for the reply.
"Chris - I can't find Ezra anywhere -" He stopped. He'd found Ezra, lying asleep and spent and naked beside Chris in his bed.
Chris dragged himself awake, hung over and moving slowly.
"Buck, wait!" Chris tried to get up, reaching for his discarded trousers, stumbling over empty bottles in his haste and landing back in the bed again as the door slammed shut.
Buck didn't wait. He had slammed out of the room and by the time Chris had staggered out onto the landing while trying to pull on his pants Buck was nowhere to be seen.
Chris turned back to the room. Damn, he'd just wanted to keep Ezra out of trouble, keep the boy from doing anything more than he already had that he would come to regret.
Ezra had remained dead to the world throughout the entire scene. Chris reached over and smacked Ezra hard on the arm.
Ezra cracked open one bleary eye.
"Buck was here."
At least Ezra had the good graces to look mortified.
"He saw us?"
Chris nodded grimly.
Ezra hung his head for a moment, then resolutely grabbed a nearby bottle and drained the last half inch or do that was in it.
"Easy, tiger," Chris warned quietly, not wanting to deal with a drunken, amoral Ezra on top of everything else.
Too late. Ezra was on him, kissing him with wet sloppy whisky flavoured kisses and Chris, cursing himself violently inside his head, let himself be pushed back into the war torn bed. Chris was too damn drunk and Ezra's kisses too demanding, too desperate, too damn good to ignore.
Chris watched as Ezra kissed his way down his bare chest, over his stomach and across his thighs to snuffle around his groin like a truffle pig. Chris giggled and Ezra tickled. Ezra grinned up at him like a wolf, about to devour his feast.
One thing the seven all knew, yet it remained largely unspoken between them: Chris was hung like a horse. Tall, lean, wiry, hornery as hell and hung like a horse. Chris hissed and arched his hips as Ezra went down on him, rocking his hips, fighting and fucking Ezra's mouth. They were wild and crazy and Chris thrashed as Ezra finally managed to get a finger inside him and stroke his sweet spot and send him screaming as he came hot and hard in Ezra's mouth.
Chris lay back, all loose tanned limbs, arms outstretched, panting and sweating, eyes closed, smile sated, looking like some smug image of the crucifixion, like he'd seen his own personal slice of heaven. Ezra slithered up him like a snake and kissed him languidly, long and slow with lots of tongue. Chris was groaning beneath him, wanting it, wanting more. He let Ezra touch him again, testing at first, then teasing, slipping one finger in, then two, then three, driving Chris wild, then he had Chris' hard thighs wrapped around him and he was finally inside Chris, pushing down on him hard. Chris was grunting in time with every thrust. Ezra went deeper and faster and came hard and fell across Chris. They kissed fiercely and what was left of their souls touched and burned for a moment before they pulled apart, each knowing this could never happen again.
"You broke his heart," Chris whispered roughly against Ezra's grazed cheek. It was the aftermath and each had fallen back to earth with a heavy thump, each having to face the consequences of their actions.
"So did you," Ezra reminded.
"What will you do?"
Ezra pulled himself away from Chris' tangled limbs without a second glance.
Buck had been standing alone on the hotel’s ornately trimmed widow’s walk for a long time, watching the city spread out before him through bleary eyes. Chris had been right, after all, when he’d warned him to stay away from Ezra. Sure enough, he’d gone and got his heart broke.
Buck startled when he heard someone behind him. He turned, wiping his eyes, to find JD staring at him angrily.
"Go away, JD," he dismissed.
"What are you doing up here? Hiding?" JD accused.
"No, thinking," Buck bristled. "I've lost him, JD."
Buck turned at that, surprised.
JD was fuming. "I can’t stand what he’s done to you. You used to be my best friend, someone I respected, and I don't even recognise you any more. He's turned you into a crying sissy, made you wear silly, fancy clothes and run about after him - he treats you like a servant, Buck."
Buck drew himself up.
"Now listen here -"
"No, you listen. You used to have time for me, you said I was your best friend, but you just spend all your time running after Ezra and he's ruined you. I never thought you'd turn out to be like him. A sissy boy."
Buck stared at JD, hurt beyond measure.
"Sodomite," JD hissed, furious.
Buck sighed, shaking his head, and went back to his leaning on the railing.
"I'm sorry you feel that way, JD,” he answered philosophically. “You're still young. One day you'll learn how hard this life is, and you'll come to grab at any piece of comfort that comes your way."
"Yeah, comfort. Doesn't matter if it's with a whore or your best friend. It's just a way of getting through a long cold night together."
"You and Chris -" JD suddenly realised, horrified.
"We snuggled up some nights, sleeping out under the stars. Sometimes he'd come to me after he'd been with half a dozen whores. Sometimes he'd bring the whores with him. It didn't mean nothin'. Not really."
He breathed out slowly, remembering. That wasn't entirely true. It had meant something, in the moment, but those moments were long since gone.
"I've been a lover, JD, but I've only been in love a couple of times in my life. That day I walked into the saloon after the hanging and saw Ezra sitting up and playing cards just like old times, like nothing had ever happened, I felt my heart just kick like a mule and I knew. Ain't no fighting it." He bowed his head. "Don't mean it's returned in kind, either."
"Forget about him."
"I can't. He needs me, whether he knows it or not. He's mad with grief and he doesn't know what he's doing. I can't walk away, I won't walk away, not again. I'm not going to lose him. He can kick like a mule but I ain’t letting go."
JD was young, but he wasn't stupid. He knew who this was about.
"You've never really told me about Chris, what he did, why you were always frightened I'd end up like him."
"Weren't pretty, JD. After Adam and Sarah died, Chris - he lost his soul. He burnt it out of himself in bitterness and drink. He was wild and he was bad and he's got to live with what he did every day of his life. He's always got people gunnin' for him, on account of what he did. He can't ever turn his back on a man. Not unless he wants to end up dead."
"You never told me."
"I wanted to protect you. I know you think you want a reputation like Chris, JD, but believe me, you don't. I love you like a brother, and I'd do anything to save you from following Chris's path. I wasn't trying to hold you back, but you get a history like Chris has, well, you know what happened to Jimmy Hickok?" Buck's voice was still tight, still not reconciled to that news, or the fate of an old friend.
JD bowed his head, understanding. "You don't want Ezra to die like that."
"No, and if he goes after the men who killed his family, he'll end up exactly like that: dead."
It was all etched on Buck's face. There was more. Buck wasn’t just worried about Ezra getting his damn fool head shot off, he looked positively stricken.
“What’d Ezra do now?” JD asked, not really wanting to know, yet somehow needing to.
“Chris,” Buck answered simply, and JD’s mouth hung open.
“He- You-“ JD failed to articulate, the disgust written very clearly on his face.
“JD,” Buck reached for him as the younger man tried to go, furious at the clandestine depravity that had been largely hidden from him until now.
JD shrugged off Buck as though he were vermin.
"Go away." JD refused to turn so Buck could see him. "Go back to Ezra. Go back to your whore."
"Ezra don't need me right now."
"Well, neither do I."
"No, I guess not. You're a man now." Buck agreed softly, and JD turned to him at last.
"I don't get it, Buck. You let him treat you like dirt. You're all fluttering around Ezra and he did this, he brought this on himself, all of it. He knew what he was doing was wrong, he knew he was mixing with bad company."
"And you think he deserved to lose his wife and child like that?"
"No, of course not."
Buck leant against the wall, tired. "Yeah, Ezra got himself in over his head and he made business deals with the wrong people, but the men who did this, they're not like Ezra, they ain’t civilised, and Ezra's our friend, and he's hurting. A good friend doesn't judge a man, not when he's just lost his family."
"Ezra still shouldn't have done it, mixing with those people. He's supposed to be a lawman."
Buck shook his head slowly. "One day, Kid, you'll learn things aren't so black and white, and you'll end up doing the wrong thing for the right reasons."
"Ezra had his reasons."
"Yeah, to get filthy rich."
"That's not fair. Ezra's ambitious, but I've never seen that boy do real evil." Buck drew forward. "When did you grow so cold, JD? I thought I raised you better."
"Raised me? Raised me?" JD squawked. "You never raised me. You were after me until Ezra took your eye," he accused.
Buck reacted as though slapped. "Weren't like that, JD. You were like a brother to me. You still are."
JD gave him a dark look.
Buck sighed. "I know you don't approve of Ezra but I can tell you Chris has done a lot worse than Ezra has ever done, so you just think who deserves your sympathy more. Because Chris ain't the hero you think he is." Buck snarled the last and JD just broke and Buck suddenly realised how hard it had all been on the kid.
"Why'd Ezra do it, if he knew this could happen?"
"He didn't. Ezra would have never have gotten involved with such men, he'd never gamble with his family's life, never."
Slowly JD understood. It wasn't Ezra who'd crossed those men, it had been Charity. For once, Ezra hadn't been controlling the roll of the dice. The death of Ezra's family had swept down on him as suddenly as the rest of them.
"She was just a baby," JD wiped away the tears with the back of his hand, grieving for the innocent child.
"I know," Buck murmured.
JD still wished Buck had never set eyes on Ezra, but he kept it to himself this time. If he considered himself Buck's friend, and he still did, very much, he'd have to stand by him, no matter what he did. The way Buck stood by Chris and Ezra. Even after tonight.
Buck tried to push that vivid image of tangled bed sheets from his mind.
"Ezra's out of his mind, and he’s out for vengeance. I've got to stop him, JD."
"What if he gets you killed.
"It's my risk to take."
"No it ain't," JD insisted. "I ain't losing you, too. Buck, you're the closest thing I've got to family. Let him go. Can't you see - he's dragging you down with him."
"That's enough, JD!" Buck snapped. "This ain't got nothin' to do with you."
"The hell it don't."
"Leave it alone, JD. This ain't your fight. Go back downstairs with the others. Leave me be."
JD just shook his head. Fine, if that's the way Buck wanted it. He just backed up and left, leaving Buck to his lonely widow's walk.
Ezra had made good on his promise to get filthy drunk, hunched over the bar nursing his fifth drink when JD found him.
“How could you, you piece of shit,” was the first thing that JD blurted out, and when that didn’t get a reaction he grabbed at Ezra’s fancy black coat and swung him around.
“Buck’s got a big heart and you went and broke it. I told him you were a no good liar and a thief and a whore. I wish you’d never, ever crossed our paths. You ruined everything!” He spat the last part.
Ezra just regarded him coolly, not a single reaction to these accusation flickering in his face.
JD felt something press against his chest and glanced down. It was Ezra's Derringer. JD had forgotten all about it. He gazed back up into Ezra's cold reptilian eyes and he knew he was dead.
"Get out of here," Chris snarled at him through gritted teeth, pulling Ezra back, forcing Ezra's gun hand down.
Ezra just grinned at JD as he backed away, a grin that said any time, any where.
"Ezra, what the hell's gotten into you?" Vin was in his face. "A man don't draw on his friends."
"Mr Dunne has never been a particular friend of mine."
"That's not true."
Ezra laughed hollowly. "That boy never leaves his money on the table when I’m around."
"Can you blame him?" Chris demanded. He nodded to Vin. "Go find Buck, tell him what happened."
"What are you going to do?" Vin asked.
Chris glared down at Ezra. "Try and knock some sense into this fool."
Ezra watched Vin leave. Chris still had a tight hold of him from behind. He slammed his head back, caught Chris by surprise, and dropped him cold.
Chris came to with a bloody nose and Vin crouching over him. Buck was pacing, obviously beside himself.
"I'm sorry," Chris winced.
"You were trying to help," Buck conceded wearily, not quite sure how much more of Chris’s help he could actually bear.
Chris did his best to sit up.
"I'll find him - ow." He glared at Vin who'd poked at his wound.
"You're in no shape to be walking around. I'll find him." Vin decided.
"You might be able to track a man, but I know his heart - he wants his revenge."
"He'll kill himself trying," Buck murmured.
Chris met his old friend's eyes. He couldn't make promises he knew he couldn't keep, but he owed Buck to try.
Buck glanced away, still hurt and furious, but now wasn’t the time.
Vin, sensing something very unpleasant in the air between the two men, and having a good idea as to what, quietly edged his way out of the empty bar.
Buck leant against the bar for several long moments, then spoke at last, more to the whisky soaked wood than to the man who stood beside him.
"I trusted you, Chris."
Chris forced himself to look Buck in the eye.
"I said I'd find him for you and I did. He was wild: he was going to get himself killed if he wasn’t careful. I just wanted to keep him off the streets. We got drunk - it just happened. I saw...the look in his eyes, it made all the pain come back, all the pain I'd forgotten."
Buck looked away, angry.
"We needed someone to hold onto last night, that's all."
"And you couldn't give him to me?"
"Not the way he was, no. Ezra has a darkness inside him. I've seen it, I know it. I was trying to spare you."
Buck leant in real close, furious.
"Don't you dare tell me I don't know Ezra, that I need to be protected from his bad side. I've seen his bad side. I've seen him run out on us and cheat us, I've seen the sort of men who come after him and I saw him damn nearly kill himself at the end of a rope. I know what he's capable of and you've got no right - no right - to step in between us."
Chris gave him a look of cold fury. "This ain't between you and Ezra, this is between Ezra and whatever the hell he's about to bring down on us. He's a loose canon and he's going to start a war - a war, Buck. A war that's going to spread across county and state lines and will take hundreds of lives and probably most of us before it stops. I'm sorry I fucked him but I needed it as much as he did - I needed to feel something, anything. We're burnt out shells of men, me and Ezra, and neither of us deserves a man like you, Buck. You can hate us and you've got a right to, but right now I'm the only one who knows what he's feeling and I'm the only one who knows what he's going to do."
"And what's that?"
"Kill - and he'll keep on killing until someone puts a bullet through his brain. I was trying to stop him."
"You damned him," Buck whispered, turning away from Chris.
Chris bowed his head. He deserved that, and more.
“That’s your problem, Chris. You think you know Ezra, but you don’t. The Ezra you think you see, he doesn’t exist. It’s just an act, all of it.”
Buck could see that Chris didn’t comprehend his meaning, and he shook his head sadly.
"This is going to destroy him," Buck spoke quietly.
"He'll learn to live with it," Chris disagreed flatly.
Buck glanced at him, then shook his head. "No, you don't understand - this isn't just about losing his child, it's what they did to her. Ezra swore to himself that he'd protect his daughter. Of all the promises he's made, this was one that he intended to keep."
"He should have settled his family in town."
"He thought they were safer out there. He trusted Charity to look after their child. He trusted her to -" Buck broke off, about to betray a confidence he'd promised he'd never break.
"This is more than Ezra not being there for his family. This is about the way his daughter died."
Chris was watching him closely and it made Buck uncomfortable. Buck hunched forward, ploughing on.
"Ezra's mother never wanted him and she dumped that child with anyone she could pay to take him. She left him with distant relatives she barely knew. Ezra was just a child -"
"Oh, god." Chris stepped back, trying to walk away, suddenly finding the room too small.
"That why he likes to be held down hard - he thought that was the way it was meant to be."
"No." That was a strangled plea, Chris didn't want to hear any more.
Buck stood right up to Chris, trying to make Chris face what Buck had to live with.
"This will destroy Ezra, it will tear down everything I've built with that boy. He broke the most sacred trust - he couldn't protect his daughter. He has nothing left to live for."
“He's going to get himself killed," Chris realised, and not by accident, but by design.
"Help me save him, you owe me that much. You owe him."
"I know." Chris promised quietly. "I'll get him back for you." He slapped on his hat and pulled the brim down low. He knew what Ezra was going to do, and he knew he had to stop him, one way or another.
" How are you going to find him?"
Chris fitted the last bullet in its chamber and snapped his Colt closed.
"Just go looking for trouble."