The Magnificent Seven belong to Mirisch, CBS, MGM and Trilogy and were used without prior permission. Disclaimer is and always has been I don't own `em wish I did. Haven't made a plug nickel off `em either. My answer to Enolas July CZ Challenge: would like to see stories where a physical change of some kind happens to one or more of the Seven, how he and the others react to it. Any change you want, as long as it's physical -- some kind of disability, sense removal, becoming another gender or another age -- anything! All I ask is, please, no death stories. If it's temporary or permanent, that's up to you. Any universe. Dang you En heres a companion piece to my fic Rabbit. 8/4/02
The warmth enveloped him as another bucket of hot water was added to the cooling bath. He didnt bother opening his eyes to watch the bathhouse proprietor pour a second steaming pail into his tub before leaving. Every fiber of his being ached and burned, the long soak helped relieve some of the discomfort but Ezra was tired, but a physically draining exhaustion had settled in his bones, a small price to pay for Vins survival.
The stubborn tracker still lay within the confines of Nathan Jacksons humble clinic, wrapped in a dull haze provided by the healers medicinal teas. Ezra could only wonder how much the injured man remembered causing an old fear to resurface. He had always been so careful not to reveal this odd defect to anyone its exposure would be disastrous. The resulting worry gnawed away at his normally stoic composure thankfully he was alone in the bathhouse there was no need to hold up a façade as a frown settled over his handsome features.
The sound of quiet footsteps started him from his thoughts. Even though his heart was hammering he never let on as he slowly cracked open his eyes to see Chris Larabee leaning inside the doorframe before drawling out. Mr. Larabee is anything amiss? The water splattered over the edges as Ezra sat up in the tub using a wet pruned hand for balance as he gripped the edge. The black clad mans presence despite all out ward appearances sent the gamblers heart racing since three of the regulators were no longer within the town instead they were traipsing after the reprobates that gunned down Mr. Tanner.
Nope. Chris pushed himself off the doorframe taking a step forward to study the wily con man closely, frowning at what he saw.
Then may I ask the reason for disrupting my bath? Ezra sighed out closing his eyes as he slipped back into the rapidly cooling water until it lapped at his chin.
Just putting Nates mind at ease he figured youve been holding back Standish could hear the spurs jingle with every step Larabee took until the man was hovering over the tub he occupied.
Beg your pardon? Green eyes snapped open again, not at all pleased with the other mans close proximity.
You hurt or ailing?
The question hung in the air as Larabees steady gaze bore through him until Ezra realized the gunslinger wasnt going to leave until he was got a response.
My dear sir I simply am not meant for menial labor my body aches from the abuse now if you would please
Then let Nate look ya over A blind man could see that Chris wasnt going to take no for an answer.
I hardly see
The southerner sank deeper into the bath water as he tried to argue his own case.
You either dress yourself now or Ill drag you to the clinic without a stitch on
Less than ten minutes later a grumbling Ezra was suffering under the discerning gaze of their resident healer as sat astride a chair with his shirt untucked and open. Concerned brown eyes stared into his.
You got a headache?
Hows Mr. Tanner fairing? The gambler diverted his gaze towards the blanketed form that occupied the clinics bed. Only to have the healer grasp his chin and carefully inspect his eyes.
Ezra could you jist answer the question? Nathans patience was wearing thin after spending most of the night over at the Kelly farm tending to the familys youngest boy.
When you respond in kind Valiantly trying to hold his eyes open Ezra continued argue with the healer refusing to concede to the bone weary exhaustion that had settled over him.
Hes on the mend been sleeping a lot Nathan sighed out as he ran nimble sensitive hands over the southerners ribs. Even attempting to listen to the mans lungs a task made more difficult as the gambler continued to mumble under his breath.
No doubt with the assistance of one of your vile concoctions Un-swayed by Jacksons intrusive hands he prattled on as the dark man lightly grasped onto his chin and gazed intently into his eyes.
Ez Nathan made a half-hearted attempt to interrupt Ezras monologue. He needed to know if Standish had a concussion, the mans features were drawn and fine lines had etched themselves into the delicate skin around the eyes.
I dont have a headache Standish drawled out the answer before it was asked. The denial sparked interest from across the room where Larabee stood watching the proceedings. Well I dont
Eyes bothering ya? Nathan managed to swivel the gamblers head from side to side before the man swiped his hands away.
Doing his best to bite back his growing irritation as the dark man poked and prodded him while enduring a seemingly endless the barrage of questions Ezra kept his responses simple.
They look different ah mebbe its the light I want you to get some rest Ill look in on you later Jackson sighed finally relenting to Ezras wishes.
Then I am free to go?
Yes if you promise that youll go to your room and sleep
Larabee frowned briefly before asking. Nate youre sure hes alright?
I am in the room
He just needs some sleep Chris, the man plum wore himself out tangling with the outlaws.
An exasperated Standish groaned. Thats what Ive been trying to tell you
Larabee wasnt the only one in the room that smiled more than a little amused and relieved that Nathan came up with the same conclusion the gambler had, that the smooth talking conman had simply run himself ragged.
Ezra behave and do as Nate tells you to The gambler was left speechless as Chris turned his attention to Nathan. Im going take a walk around town be back in a bit. With those words the dark gunslinger slipped out the door and Jackson could barely suppress a hearty chuckle as Standish glared at Larabees departing figure.
Muscles ached and burned as Ezra set his hat in place before he slowly made his way down the steep staircase that led to the dusty street below Nathans clinic refusing to acknowledge that the man was watching him go. Another long soak in a hot bath was in order but this behavior had already wrought concern from the others, he have to settle and use the portable bath he had stowed in his own room, a cautious measure that would have to suffice to soothe his muscles that were already beginning to cramp up again.
The southerner had almost made it within sight of the saloon when he passed an oddly familiar ruffian standing just outside the mercantile. It wasnt until another joined that scruffy looking man on the boardwalk heading towards the livery that Standish made the connection. They were part of the trio of miscreants that were after the five hundred dollar bounty on Vin Tanner.
Aw hell. Cursing under his breath he pushed his aching body into a steady jog towards Mrs. Potters store quickly ducking through the door where he saw the proprietress Mrs. Potter arranging her stock of goods on the shelves quickly to a halt to any questions by putting up an open hand and deftly set his hat on top of the counter as he snatched one of the woven Indian blankets off the a table disappearing out the door without uttering a word.
The weary gambler ducked into the alley, quickly shucking out of his coat and vest before wrapping the blanket around his shoulders. Standing in the shadows of the afternoon sun he forced himself to relax ignoring the pain that had begun to settle into his body. A tiny smile graced his handsome features despite the discomfort. After years of schooling on the fine art of the con, as a child he had learned to take on complicated personas that belied his short years. Quite the mimic the young southerner had mastered a plethora of accents and several languages before he hit adolescence in an instant becoming whatever character his mother had wanted him to play. Only one day shortly after he turned eleven he learned he could take it a step farther and physically become that individual. Now wasnt the time for such memories, he took a deep steady breath. With a bit a concentration and focused effort his face began to distort and his eye color changed. The metamorphosis complete even though he was not a true replica of the original, it was just too much of a strain on him to be taller and he didnt have the luxury of time on his side. With that in mind Ezra set forth the second part of his plan.
Ambling through the dusty streets Chris had almost completed a circuit through the town and was passing the undertakers when the first shots rang out they had come from the direction of the livery and Nathans clinic. Drawing his weapon Larabee started to jog towards the continuing gunfire, he did a double take when he saw a blanketed form running precariously over the rooftop of Virginias hotel dodging bullets. Vin? A second later the figure vanished from his line of sight. Larabee could do little but concentrate on the task at hand; one man was already lying motionless in the street as he began to fire upon the two remaining gunmen.
The firefight was almost over before it began giving the undertaker a few more penniless customers to bury. Larabee let them lay where they were he was more concerned about he had seen streaking across the rooftops, it didnt seem possible for Tanner to move so fast after being shot up the way he was. Nathan met him half way to the clinic.
Sleepin why you ask?
I thought never mind could you go back and make sure he stays put
Nathan grimly nodded knowing his services werent required by the fools laying in the dusty street stood there for a moment watching as Chris jogged down the street towards the mercantile before heading back to watch over his patient.
Not sure want compelled him into the alley Chris slowly strode through the shadows. Towards the end sitting atop a crate and leaning up against the side of Mrs. Potters store bigger than life was that damn fool Texan haphazardly wrapped in a colorfully woven blanket blinking with his scruffy hair hanging in his face back at him.
What the hell were you doing? Larabee didnt get the response he expected, he watched Tanner abruptly teeter off the wooden box and hit the ground before he could stop him. Rushing to his side he slowly rolled the man over and was shocked to see a longhaired, blue-eyed Ezra Standish stared back at him. Ez?
The southerner sagged back as consciousness deserted his over taxed body leaving a bewildered Chris staring down at him as the conmans features reverted back to a more familiar face.
He awake? Tanners drawl filtered into his mind. Ezra grimaced and wrinkled his brow trying to figure out just what was going on.
Hes trying Larabee spoke up close by as Standish threw an arm over his face trying to block the morning light and the noise of the quiet conversation. The memories flooded back and he tried to bolt from the bed only to be met with a bout of muscles spasms before he was pushed into the bedding buy a firm hand.
Oh lord The words slipped out through clenched teeth.
Drink this. Ezra groaned as he was carefully pulled up enough to drink the bitter brew and again as he was gently lowered back. How you feel?
Larabees insistent voice got through the gamblers foggy brain. Panic surged through his addled mind desperately fought to figure out just what was going on and came out with. Fine.
Uh huh go back to sleep Ez. Chris
No longer able to the effects of herbal tea, an exhausted Standish drifted off trying to listen to the conversation that was going on next to him. Only managing to catch a few snatches as his brain slid towards oblivion.
Chris, why didnt ya say anything to Nate?
Because everyone is entitled to their secrets