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: Part 7/9 qv Fall From Grace
Pairing: Ezra/Buck (some other pairings, suggested pairings, unresolved longings and jealousies)
Date: May 2002 - May 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.
It was a slow, long and sombre trip
back into town. Everyone knew Ezra was grieving hard so they left him well
Ezra had doted on his baby daughter,
as proud as any pappa, spoiling her with lace dresses and silver hair brushes
and promenading her up and down the town when his family had come to visit.
Now all he had of his darling Amber was a photograph and a lock of hair,
and a terrible regret that he'd not moved his family here, to be with him.
But both he and Charity had enjoyed their freedoms and had thought nothing
of their visits between this town and Kansa City. They had been such a
match for each other, the gambler and the actress, much more like siblings
in looks and manner than lovers. For a sham marriage born of convenience,
they'd shared more love and respect than most other marriages people could
There was nothing Ezra could have
done, even if he had been there. He'd have probably died trying, as Chris
and Buck reminded him, but it didn't make the what ifs any less painful
or real in his mind, as he played over and over in his mind what he could
have done differently to save the life of his only child.
Ezra was sitting on the edge of his
quilted bed, turning the tiny silver hairbrush over and over in his hands.
There were still a few wisps of strawberry blonde hair caught in the brush.
Tenderly Buck caught the brush and
pulled it away from Ezra's hands, setting it down carefully on the dresser.
"Time to go," he offered quietly.
Ezra gazed up at him with eyes so
burnt full of sadness. There was nothing Buck could say or do to ease the
pain he saw there.
"Come on." He pulled Ezra gently
to his feet. "Everybody's waiting." He fussed with Ezra's best mourning
coat, brushing it down.
Ezra led the way out of the room
in a sombre procession, a procession that lasted all the way to the cemetery.
It was a cold sharp wind that ripped
across the plains, biting into raw, exposed skin. The grass was brown and
withered as far as the eye could see, the trees stripped bare early this
year, skinned and shivering.
Chris dipped the brim of his hat,
trying to deflect the wind that stung tears in his eyes. He was cold, ice
cold, and so empty, watching the tiny coffin lowered down into the ground
to rest with a clumsy clump on top of the larger one. He turned away as
the first shovel of hard baked dirt rattled down on the polished wooden
boxes, remembering two coffins, hand hewn from burnt timbers, being dropped
into holes he'd dug himself with blistered, bleeding hands.
He'd never forgotten how the tiny
box had weighed almost nothing. He gazed across at Ezra. Ezra knew that
now, how a child's coffin weighed nothing, how you had nothing left to
hold in your hands. They were burying Ezra's family on this cold
and bitter afternoon. There were no sounds, other than the soft thuds of
soil slowly filling the holes.
It had happened in a heartbeat. Ezra
had married for money but friendship then a child had followed. Ezra had
adored his wife and baby daughter, even though they lived in Kansas City,
where his wife's business interests lay. She ran her business under Ezra's
name, but it wasn't enough to protect her. Ezra's family had been
brutally murdered, just to let Ezra know a business rival had his eye on
the prize. Right now business was the last thing on Ezra's mind.
Right now Chris doubted there was
anything left functioning in Ezra’s mind. Dosed to the eyeballs by Nathan,
lest anyone be distressed by the sight of unseemly grieving, and gently
manoeuvred into position by Buck like an automaton, anyone could tell just
by looking at Ezra that he’d gone away. Ezra would remember this day for
the rest of his life, but for now, he wasn’t here, and there were no words
to speak, no tears to cry.
As the solemn party walked slowly
back to town Chris watched as Buck remained by Ezra’s side, protecting
him like a faithful dog and growling at anyone who got too close. Chris
envied the arm Buck kept around Ezra’s shoulders and he bitterly regretted
having pushed Buck away with words, fists and even bullets when he’d needed
him most. Buck could have offered him comfort like this, if only Chris
had been left with enough sense to let him.
Only he hadn’t and he’d nearly destroyed
their friendship in his grief. Chris watched Ezra and he envied him in
a terrible way. Ezra had a circle of friends all doing what they could
to ease him through this, and Chris wondered again if the dark demons that
burned in his nightmares might have been banked down to embers if he’d
just let Buck hold him the way he saw Buck holding Ezra now.
Buck left Ezra lying alone in the
middle of their bed, helpless to do anything, and quietly exited the room.
He found Chris and Vin waiting on the landing, sympathy etched in their
"How is he?" Vin had to ask,
knowing he was intruding, but fretting over Ezra's wellbeing too much not
Buck exhaled, leant back against
the door and shook his head.
"I don't know. He's barely
said a word to me."
"Man's grievin'," Chris surmised
Buck shot him a look and Vin could
see a lot of history, bad history, ripple between Chris and Buck without
a word being spoken. This whole business had stirred up dark memories
for both men. Chris was revisiting old hurts and Buck, Buck was just torn
apart. Bad enough he'd had to help Chris bury his family, now he'd helped
bury Ezra's family, too. Buck had lost his friendship with Chris over the
graves of his wife and child, and it had taken him a long time to earn
Buck was scared he'd lose Ezra just
the same way. He was afraid he was cursed. Both times he'd
kept the men from their families, both times he'd accepted more than his
share of the blame. Buck was grieving almost as hard as Ezra. He'd
not only been a part of the strange little family, there'd been some thought
that the child might have actually been his, until she'd popped out all
orange curls, bright green eyes and dimples. There had been no doubt as
to who her father was after that. It hadn’t stopped Buck doting on her
and spoiling her rotten.
As unlikely as it was, Ezra had fathered
a daughter. Now she had been taken from him, and Buck held himself to blame,
keeping Ezra in town, keeping Ezra with him when he should have been in
Kansas City with his family. That Ezra and Charity had been happy
to lead their independent lives made no nevermind any more. Ezra
had lost his family, and now Buck feared he was losing Ezra, piece by piece,
moment by moment. The closed door between them was only the start. He'd
been through this all before. Chris had fought hard against his grief,
getting bitter drunk and mean, rather than Ezra's eerily quiet acceptance,
but the sentiment had been the same. Chris was too often reminded of his
loss when he looked at Buck. Now Ezra would be the same.
Chris saw all this pass through Buck's
eyes and he reached out, placing a hand on Buck's shoulder.
"Weren't your fault. You couldn't
have known. You can't be responsible for what some crazy murdering bastard
Another long look passed between
the two men, and Vin could see Buck grab onto Chris' forgiveness with both
hands, lean and sparing though it was. He turned into Chris, and
Chris, never one to give much of himself these days, held him tight, knowing
he needed to do this, as much for his own sake as for Buck's.
"Weren't your fault," he soothed,
brushing his cheek against Buck's. Gently, he made Buck look at him
and pay him mind. "Weren't your fault. You couldn't have known. We
all pretend like we've got forever."
Buck buried his face into Chris'
shoulder's and let a dreadful sob loose, and Chris was about the only thing
holding him up.
Embarrassed by the breaking of the
dam of emotions between Buck and Chris, Vin slipped quietly into Ezra's
room. He sat quietly on the bed and ran a hand along Ezra's arm, just so
he'd know he was there in the dim gloom. Not that Ezra wasn't perfectly
aware of Vin, he just didn't have the strength to react.
Vin began rubbing his hand down Ezra's
back, as though calming a spooked horse, and Ezra rolled over at last,
though whether to stop him or to acknowledge him, Vin wasn't sure. He couldn't
see Ezra's face, not clearly in the darkness, only the white of his shirt,
now slightly rumpled.
Vin wanted to light a lamp but he
knew that was the last thing Ezra needed. He could feel Ezra watching
him with those eyes that saw more than they ever let on. That was one of
the few things they had in common.
Vin knew now it would have never
have worked out between Ezra and him. He loved the feel and smell of Ezra
but Ezra was so different, a breed apart from Vin Tanner. Ezra was a fancy
city boy through and through and at least in Buck Ezra had someone more
than capable of helping him run his enterprises. Vin was barely literate
and he knew he'd have never have been able to help out Ezra the way Buck
His feelings for Ezra had never gone
away, though. They'd banked down, but he still felt their warmth like an
old hearth. Ezra must have felt the same way because he reached out a hand
to Vin in a wordless gesture. Vin took it and held it and lay down beside
Ezra, holding him close. There was nothing overtly sexual in his embrace,
only comfort. Ezra needed to feel the living warmth of someone who loved
him. Only wrapped in Vin's arms did Ezra finally manage to fall asleep.
When Vin finally came back down the
stairs he found Chris and Buck still in the hotel, eating dinner. It seemed
odd to be dining at such a time, but Chris had insisted, stating with authority
that sadness was more bitter on an empty stomach.
Buck sat up properly and regarded
Vin coldly. He didn't ask if Vin had fucked Ezra. He didn't want to know,
but if he had it was just one more step that Ezra had taken away from him.
Chris knew Buck's thoughts and squeezed
his shoulder in a small gesture of sympathy.
A wall Vin had never even noticed
had broken down between Chris and Buck. They were close, sharing thoughts
with just a look, the way he and Chris had. Vin suddenly realised he'd
been usurped in his position by Chris's side, or rather, Buck had regained
his rightful place.
It wasn't just a sexual vibe between
the two men, it was love, and a friendship and history that was five times
deeper than anything he and Chris had managed so far.
Buck went back to eating, not saying
anything, but silently blessing Chris for his wisdom. The beer and potatoes
were cushioning the pain he felt inside.
Chris flicked a glance at Vin, inviting
him to sit at his left. He didn't much want to care about what had passed
between Vin and Ezra upstairs either.
"He's asleep," Vin offered.
Buck nodded and Chris gave Vin a
searching look, one Vin couldn't answer, not just yet.
Buck pushed his plate away suddenly,
unable to eat any more.
"Where you going?" Chris asked, concerned
at the sudden abrupt change in Buck's mood.
Buck wiped his mouth and threw his
napkin down on the table. "Just goin' ta check on him."
"But he's asleep," Vin protested.
"I'll be quiet," Buck informed him
primly, pushing back his seat.
"He's just gonna wake him up again,"
Vin sulked, watching Buck walk up the stairs.
"Don't you go getting yourself involved,"
Vin flicked him a reproachful look,
one meant to remind Chris to mind his own words, but it washed off Chris
like water. Chris was too busy nursing his shot glass, considering the
colour. An awkward silence fell between them, the first awkward silence,
Vin picked at the table cloth uneasily,
wishing to restore his former ease with Chris, but unsure how to, when
Buck broke the silence, thundering down the steps again, taking them two
and three at a time.
Chris was on his feet instantly.
"Buck?" he asked, fearing the worst.
"He's gone," Buck managed. "The little
bastard's up and gone - out the window - like a thief."
Chris bit back the usual retort that
rose by instinct, slipping instantly into his leadership role.
"He can't have gotten too far. Vin,
you ride with me. Buck -"
"I'm going." Buck insisted darkly.
"I need you here." Chris tried to
"I'm not going to lose him," Buck
ground out, and Chris knew nothing short of a knock on the head was going
to stop Buck coming after them, and probably not even then.
"Alright, but if Ezra don't want
to come back, you let him be." Chris warned.
Buck nodded curtly. "You reckon
you know what he's up to."
"I reckon I might have an idea,"
Chris countered, and Buck fell silent.
Ezra and Chris, they'd been burnt
by the same pain. Chris alone understood the demons that were now driving
Ezra across the desert this night.