Men of Honor?

by SoDak7

Note: A possible missing scene from Love and Honor.

Raphael stepped around the post, putting himself not quite, but nearly in the path of the buckskin-jacketed man, a subtle hint that meant he had something to say. Rolling the lit cheroot between his left thumb and forefinger, the gunfighter from Mexico finally made eye contact with the man who'd halted before him.

"I just want you to know that tomorrow after the fight with the swords, the woman, Inez, will be coming back with us." He paused for a moment, letting that sink in. It was a brazen remark, he knew, assuming Don Paulo would come out the victor. When what he said was met with silence, he added, "Men of honor would not interfere."

Still the man in front of him made no comment, and the expression on his face, what Raphael could see anyway, never changed. He noted the slight shift in weight, telling him this peacekeeper, who had told Don Paulo earlier that day that he'd be dead before Inez Recillos ever went with him, was about to walk away.

"The people of this town call you men 'Los Magnificos.' One is said to be very good with the rifle. I think that might be you since," and Raphael pointed his cheroot at Vin Tanner's sawed-off, "that pistola you carry could never outdraw a man such as me."

The Cavalry hat dipped lower, shading the eyes from the Mexican gunman. Raphael wasn't going to let on that the silence and relaxed posture of the man before him slightly irritated him as well as put him on edge. He pressed on.

"They say you are men of honor. Are you a man of honor, Señor?" What he was implying was dangerous he knew, but he wanted these Magnificos to know that he, Raphael, wouldn't be forced to back down from what Don Paulo wished. Americanos were different. Honor didn't mean the same thing to them as it did those from his country. But, if the people of the town thought them honorable, then...

Raphael's thoughts were interrupted when the slouch hat came up and he caught a fleeting glimpse of... what? A grin? He wasn't sure, but after the words "Reckon you'd never know," were softly spoken, he caught himself offering a tight smile of his own at the arrogance this Magnifico showed towards him. The same kind of arrogance he had. The kind that dangerous men exude.

Raphael's implication that he and Don Paulo might have to watch their backs when leaving was met with the same implication that they'd "never know" of this man's honor or lack of it, because they'd be dead, told him of the certainty these seven men had in themselves. It was enough to give him pause to wonder as the lean man sidestepped him and continued on down the boardwalk to the saloon. Raphael glanced over his shoulder just in time to see the fancy-dressed man hold open one of the bat wing doors for his friend to enter. The gambler locked eyes with him for a second before following in behind.

Raphael sighed, took a drag on his cheroot and let his eyes roam the town's main street. Up on the balcony over the livery, the black healer was leaning on the railing, sipping from a coffee cup, watching him. Over on the church steps, a big man was wiping his hands on a cloth, also looking his direction. In front of the sheriff's office a young man repeatedly spun the chamber on what looked to be an old six-shooter. The gringo Don Paulo challenged sat relaxed in a chair not far away. Although the two were engaged in some sort of conversation, they still glanced in his direction from time to time.

But the man that really piqued his interest, the gunslinger, the leader of the Magnificos he was told, stood angled from him across the street, leaning against a post. When their eyes met, the man dressed in black gave him a quick dip of his hat, acknowledging him. Raphael could see the cocky grin even from where he stood. No wonder he'd felt watched. Or maybe it wasn't so much him that they were watching, but one of their own, the one he'd been talking to.

Men of honor? These Magnificos? Raphael had no doubt about it. Perhaps not so honorable to themselves, for who knew of a man's past, but definitely honorable to each other and the people they protected.

Tomorrow he'd find out if he and Don Paulo would be men of honor as well.