Band of Brothers: It's always difficult to get over that initial shk of having Damian hove into view and hearing that American accent fall from his lips. My discomfort is no doubt entirely due to spending Sunday night relishing the delishly uptight Soames, quintiessential Victorian gentleman that he was. Still can't get used to that Yank accent. My favourite scenes, it will come of little surprise, was the Paris leave segment which involved no dialogue at all. Dear Damian conveyed his character's disquiet with Paris with just his eyes and subtle movements, until he at last sank into steaming water and found that happiness was really just a nice hot bath. Oh yeah, so I got to see DL skin, it was the quality of his performance that had me rivetted, truly. Meanwhile, Press Gang meets Party of Five. It's so wrong. They actually featured Brits this week, though they had to be rescued by the Yanks, natch. How tragic for the Americans, that most of the great battles/victories in WWII were fought/won by Brits or Aussies (and Kiwis and Canucks), so they must either ignore them or rewrite them. Fuckers. Great acting from my Brit boys though. Keeps me coming back. That that whole bit of portraying Parisians as not knowing there was a war on, hey, they're not from Iowa, I think they knew. French Resistance, anyone? You know even the electricians sabotaged the Eiffel Tower so Hitler could not go up it, making it look like a malfunction, because they would not have it. The French, while invaded, were not clueless sheep, so please, don't.
The final part of this M7 fic is rated PG, because it's extraordinarily tame.
It was a poor man's Alladin's cave, the safe in Ezra's best hotel. Nevertheless
he couldn't help feel a thrill as he stood in from of the safe and felt the bundles
of notes and soft velvet lined jewel boxes that lay within. He was responsible
for all this loot, where once upon a time the only reason he'd have opened this
safe was to empty of its contents, not take an inventory. Talk about letting the
fox guard the hen house. Yet as much as Chris had grown into his role from ruffian
to regulator, so too had Ezra metamorphosed from thief to respectable businessman.
Not that there was a great variance of difference, as far as Ezra was concerned,
though legitimate business offered him less scope to be creative, and he did feel
the strong lure of temptation coaxing him into backsliding, but he resisted. He
was trying so hard to stay above board, to be above reproach, so as to not disgrace
his friends as much as anything else. Especially Buck. Dear Buck held him in such
good regard, it was quite touching, really. Ezra would move heaven and earth not
to harm that regard.
Which was why he was fretting now. He could feel the weight of the jewels in
his hands and he could feel himself break into a sweat, all the way down his
back, like an addict. The thrill of just the thought of slipping the gems into
his pocket and casually strolling out and catching the next stage, it made his
hands tremble, but he couldn't. He had people here, people who didn't trust
him, and he wasn't about to prove them right, not again.
The torment of his own weakness was one thing. The torment of another's was
quite something else. Amanda was in town and the only things worth stealing,
if not from the bank, were under Ezra's rooves and they both knew it. Amanda
had been his teacher and he knew he was no match for her. The best he could
hope to be was vigilante, and pray that his friends were as good as their reputation
Feeling the cool heavy jewels slip through his fingers, Ezra suddenly realised
exactly what Amanda’s game was. Stealing his boyfriend, that was just
a diversion, a way of passing time until the real game was played.
Reluctantly Ezra slid the jewels back into the safe and shut the door firmly.
He’d barely felt the satisfying tumble of the locks as he removed the
key before shouts from outside sprang up, crying fire! So, it had begun.
By the time he’d safeguarded his property to the best of his ability
the rest of his associates and townsfolk were splashing buckets of water onto
the heavily smoking barn and stamping out smouldering spot fires, the cold night
air driving spectators indoors again almost as quickly as they’d appeared
on the street.
That’s when the first cry rang out, as people returned to their homes
to find they had been robbed. Mary returned, as white as a sheet in spite of
her smudges, appealing to a soot stained Chris that her mother’s cameo
was missing. Several other reports of similar thefts crowded around the seven.
Chris downed tools and followed the gazes of JD and Josiah and even Vin towards
the only one of them who wasn’t covered in burnt straw and smelling strongly
“Where you been, Ezra?” JD accused, not hiding his suspicions.
“Why, I was at my hotel, ensuing the safety of my guest’s property
– you don’t expect me to run into the street and leave it unattended
, surely not.”
“You’re the only one who didn’t,” Chris observed sourly.
“I don’t think I like your implications,” Ezra slipped into
an icy anger.
Chris just shook his head, as if catching Ezra with his hand in the biscuit
“Now, Chris,” Buck tried to protest.
“I have to ask, Buck. He was the only one of us who showed up late.”
“Surely you can’t be thinking -” Ezra protested, but that
was exactly what they were thinking. Humiliated beyond words Ezra was escorted
by his so called friends to the gaol where he was made to sit as Chris and Vin
compiled a growing list of all the missing items.
Chris glanced over at Ezra and shook his head again, more bemused than annoyed,
because he already had his thief in custody. Of all the brazen stunts Ezra had
pulled, this one took the cake.
Chris caught Buck’s eyes for a moment, and the betrayal he saw there
changed his mood as quickly as the squalls that swept down over the plains.
He shook his head softly, it didn’t look good. The last report was from
Ezra’s finer hotel. His safe, too, had been emptied, and he’d been
the last person seen near it.
Buck bowed his head, unable to even look at Ezra.
Ezra caught that, the subtle avoidance of eye contact, the way Buck had moved
across the room, away from him, and took the body blow. Et tu, Buck. Even buck
believed, because Ezra’s hands were clean, when all of theirs were dirty.
Of all the ironies…
Ezra laughed suddenly.
"What?" Chris wasn't in the mood for Ezra's dramatics.
"She did this - we did this, before. It's an old one, but a good one.
You make a play on the local bank and everyone decides it's safer to keep their
valuables under their beds. Then you just go around and steal whatever you find
hidden under their beds. No steel bars, no safes to crack. Easy money."
Chris shook his head. This was just too much.
"He's in on it," he remarked to Vin.
"I protest your slur on my good character -" Ezra tried to stand
but Josiah held him in his seat. He looked to Vin but Vin just shook his head
and Buck, Buck looked away again.
Ezra's shoulders sank. So that was it. Once a thief...
"You malign me. On my honour -"
Ezra appealed to Buck again.
"You bailed her out, Ezra, knowing she was a thief," Buck reminded,
"She's my friend -"
"Exactly." Chris leant in close. "And this friend of yours has
just robbed this town blind."
"She robbed me too. I asked her not to do anything here."
"You knew what she was planning?"
"I asked her not to." Ezra repeated quietly.
Buck pulled Chris back.
"Maybe he's telling the truth. Maybe she betrayed his trust in her. I
don't think Ezra would do this."
"What, lie, steal? Like he'd never cheat his friends at cards?"
Buck fell silent again. There was nothing he could say. Ezra's past was against
"She left me to take the fall," Ezra realised.
"Maybe you should have left town with her," Chris snarled. He threw
the keys to JD. "Lock him up."
"You can't put me in gaol!" Ezra spluttered, trying to struggle to
his feet but Josiah still had him pinned in the chair. "You have no proof."
"Not yet," Chris flashed him an evil smile as he slammed the cell
door shut on Ezra.
They all trooped off to ransack Ezra's room, leaving alone in the dark gaol
cell. Choosing not to dwell upon his associates' complete lack of faith in him,
he felt inside his waistcoat and gently removed the lockpick he'd secreted in
the lining for just such emergencies. He reached his hand through the bars and
deftly began his work. They'd yet to build a cell that could hold Ezra P. Standish
if he wanted out badly enough.
Minutes later he was outside in the deserted street. He could see the lights
in his room and the shadows moving against the walls He glanced away for a moment,
then noticed a flicker of light in the church. Not Josiah, surely. He was with
them, busy proving Ezra's guilt by association. No, in an instant he knew.
"Satisfied?" Buck asked, standing against the papered wall with his
arms folded as Chris stood back to survey the wreckage, their search having
failed to turn up any trace of stolen loot in Ezra's room.
"Don't mean he didn't hide it somewhere else."
Buck shook his head. "I don't believe this."
"I didn't hear you standing up for Ezra back at the gaol. Be honest, Buck.
You knew there was a possibility he was in on it. I know you're hoping he's
not, but even now, you know there's every chance. Ezra is just as crooked as
he's ever been."
"That don't make it right. Since when did we stop taking a man at his
"Since it was Ezra," JD reminded.
"The man has cried wolf more often than not," Josiah agreed.
"Ezra just hasn't proved himself trustworthy," Nathan added his voice.
Nobody really knew Ezra, least of all himself. He was unsure as to who his
father really was, and he'd spent his life up until now pretending to be one
thing or another, never himself. Even now he was pretending, trying to make
everyone believe he'd reformed. Not even Ezra really believed it.
Chris surveyed the room with narrowed eyes.
"Two attempted bank robberies and Ezra's old friend shows up."
"You think it's not coincidence."
"I'm thinking Ezra's been in on this from the start. That this whole thing's
Buck shook his head. "No. He can't - he wouldn't -"
"What? Lie, cheat, steal? Run out on us? He has before."
"He didn't know us then."
"You think that makes a difference to the likes of Ezra?"
"I can't believe this could all be a con," Buck persisted, heart
"That's the beauty of it," Chris reminded. "Ezra's a professional
liar. He always has been and he always will be. Never forget that."
Buck fell silent, distraught, doubt eating away at him.
Vin said nothing, quietly putting away Ezra's things. He righted the chair
and that's when he saw it, the light flickering in the church.
Amanda heard the soft click behind her.
"You were going to leave, without saying goodbye?"
His words startled her, making her nearly drop the wrapped bundle of pilfered
goods she'd been cradling.
"Ezra," she turned with a smile.
Ezra smiled back but there was a cold light in his eyes.
"Has it come to this, robbing the poor plate?"
“You know me better than that,” she purred, not at all fazed by
the gun he held on her.
"You hid them here," he realised.
"I knew you'd remember, eventually. I thought you were in on it - I can't
believe you actually fell for it."
"Neither can I," he admitted. “I’ve lost my edge.”
“Come with me, get it back.”
For a long moment he actually considered her offer. Then he shook his head.
“You used me, you set me up, you left me to take the fall, as always.”
“They don’t trust you. How much convincing did they need, to think
you were a part of this?”
"They don’t know me, but I know you. You blew it at the bank, deliberately,
so you thought you could rob me. You can't con a con, you taught me that."
“I’ve done alight so far.” She hefted her heavy stuffed purse.
"Where did you get this little stash?"
"Here and there, card games mostly. Portable cash. My emergency funds.
So put it down and turn around slowly," He waved at her with his gun.
Buck followed Vin’s gaze down along the street and saw the light flickering
through the church windows.
"Josiah, did you leave a light on?"
Josiah's, head bobbed up roused from his thoughts by the sound of his name.
"Damn. Chris!" Buck nodded towards the church.
Chris sprang up.
"What in the hell?"
Ezra was facing Amanda, and the small gun she'd drawn on him. A stand off.
Ezra looked straight down the barrel of her revolver.
"Going to kill me?" he inquired calmly.
"No, not here."
Ezra glanced about the inside of the church. "Why, Amanda, I never knew
you to be so religious."
She smiled. "Let's just say I'm superstitious."
Ezra stepped up close until her derringer was brushing the silk of his waistcoat.
"I can't just let you go, Amanda. I have my reputation in this town to
"I know, darling." She smiled, bittersweet.
She drew him close and kissed him, soft and slow, while she carefully brought
up her hand behind him to smack him hard across the back of his head with the
butt of her revolver.
Ezra crumpled at her feet, out cold. She checked his pulse, then caressed his
cheek, softly, pale in the moonlight. She dropped a light kiss upon his lips,
"You always were my favourite," she whispered, placing another kiss
upon his forehead. She slipped a heavy diamond necklace into his pocket. Then
she stood, stepped over him and left, with only the slightest backwards glance
as she passed through the door.
Ezra was curled unmoving on the floor of the church when they ran in, guns ready.
Buck raced over to him, heart racing, but Ezra was only stunned, complaining
as Buck shook him to make sure he was alive.
"She hid it here, she always stashes it in a safe place, to go back for
later, should have known," Ezra grumbled as Buck pulled him into a sitting
You let her get away," Chris accused.
"Let her?" Ezra prodded the back of his head gingerly and pulled
away blood smeared fingers. "Does it look like I let her?"
"A falling out amongst thieves," Chris insisted, snidely.
Ezra gave him a filthy look.
"Chris," Buck drew his old friend aside. "You can't make Ezra
responsible for the actions of his former associates. Ezra has enough trouble
keeping himself on the straight and narrow."
"I was trying to stop her." Ezra complained still rubbing the back
of his head, ignoring Buck's backhanded moral support.
Chris gave Ezra another sceptical look.
"She blindsided you," he surmised.
"She kissed me," Ezra murmured, still pouting.
Chris couldn't help his grin. "She blindsided you," he agreed, laughing
as Ezra sulked, chaffing under Chris' mocking.
"Hey now," Buck interjected. "Nathan, go get Ezra cleaned up.
Chris," he dragged Chris aside. "She can't have got far."
Chris shook his head. "Forget it, we'll never find her. She's gone."
Ezra sat alone on the edge of his bed, still poking at the bruise on the back
of his head, wincing. Damn her. She'd left him holding the bag again. Some things
never change. He patted down his pockets, searching for matches, and stopped
when he felt a curious lump in his breast pocket.
Carefully, he reached into his pocket and pulled out one of the most exquisite
diamond necklaces he'd ever seen. He turned it over in his hand, holding it
up to the light, squinting at the quality and colour. Grinning widely, he slipped
it back in his pocket and patted it fondly.
Dear Amanda. She did care, after all.