RATING: PG for some swearing
CATEGORY: Challenge - OW -
MAJOR CHARACTERS: Ezra and Buck
DISCLAIMERS: This is fanfiction. No profit involved. This story is based on the television series "The Magnificent Seven". No infringement upon the copyrights held by CBS, MGM, Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp., Showtime Extreme, or any others involved with that production is intended.
NOTE: September 2005 Magnificent 7 Challenge, given by Katy - Take the title of one of the original episodes and write a fic that fits the title but isn't a reworking of the original plot, any AU.
SUMMARY: There's a new law that might cause some issues with practices in the Four Corners jailhouse
FEEDBACK: Yes please! comments are greatly appreciated.
DATE: September 26, 2005
The New Law
By NotTasha... something old... something new
"Give it up," Wilmington demanded, keeping his gun leveled at the man in the cell. "Where? Where is he?"
The prisoner sat, ramrod straight on the cell's cot. "I ain't sayin'," he muttered.
"Oh, you will," Wilmington growled as he clutched the weapon, his aim unwavering. "You will."
Craig Barlow swallowed dryly, noting the man wasn't necessarily aiming for his heart -- rather the aim seemed to be centered closer to his elbow. "You won't do it," he said, trying to sound strong as he tucked his extended elbows closer to his body.
"Wanna bet," Buck returned, his voice little more than a whisper. "You tell me now, or I'll start taking you apart -- piece by piece."
Barlow's eyes widened, but he didn't budge. "You won't. You can't..."
"I ain't sayin' nothin'!"
"Oh you will," Buck uttered, his voice low as he pressed up to the bars. "There's no one here to stop me, is there?"
The jailhouse door, slamming open, broken the tense scene. “Now, now, Mr. Wilmington!” Ezra called as he noisily trod into the jailhouse. The violence of the door brought down a little rain of dust, filtering through the afternoon light. Watching the stance of his companion, Standish declared, “Buck, you can’t do that!”
“Not now, Ezra,” Wilmington ground out, turning toward the newcomer. He allowed his aim to drop away from his target.
With a sigh and a glum expression, Ezra responded, “I regret I must inform you of some terrible news.” Ezra lifted a hand, indicating an envelope. “There’s been a new law enforced on us. Rather painfully, I fear.”
“Yeah, what’s that?” Buck shifted his weight from one foot to another. Barlow drew a breath and tried to look hopeful.
“I received a missive from Judge Travis,” the gambler explained reluctantly. “The honorable sir has expressed some discontent in our practices. He has put his foot down.” He paused a moment, catching Buck’s eye, meeting his piercing gaze. “I’m dreadful sorry, Buck. We won’t be allowed to use our prisoners for target practice any longer.”
“What?!” Buck’s incredulous shout shook the room and he took a threatening step towards the gambler. Ezra back-stepped, his hands up as he maneuvered away from Buck’s menace.
“That’s what I’ve been sayin’!” Craig spouted, standing quickly. “I knew it! You can’t shoot at prisoners!” He crossed his arms, trying to look defiant. “You won’t be fooling me!”
“A new law?” Buck repeated thickly, closing the distance between himself and Ezra. “I haven’t heard anything about this… law.”
Ezra stopped his back-treading and stood his ground. Looking annoyed as hell, he held out the letter. “From the judge’s own hand.”
Wilmington made a face at the envelope, as if it might be filled with excrement instead of a letter from the Judge’s fair hand. “We ain’t ever ratified statehood here. We’re outside of most of the laws of the United States. We do what we please.”
“That ain’t true.” Craig turned toward the gambler. “I mean, we all still got laws. We all got to follow them, don’t we?”
Ezra shrugged. “I don’t know much about law,” he conceded. “Still,” he added, turning to the prisoner. “Rather funny of you to point out this fact, considerin’ what you've done.”
“Dang it, Ezra,” Buck bit back. “I was just gonna clip his arm or somethin’.”
“You can’t do that!” Craig insisted, holding his elbow. “You won’t!”
“Well, you weren’t supposed to go around kidnappin’ good citizens,” Buck snapped at him. “And it wasn’t like I was plannin’ on killin’ you. Just bleed you a bit.”
"Pity. Your plans are thwarted. Still, too bad Nathan’s tied up.” Ezra added, “Literally. He would’ve come in handy.”
“You weren’t too smart – you and your friends -- taking the town’s only healer,” Buck told the prisoner, snidely.
“And asking for money in exchange for his return.” Ezra shook his head at the shameful thought.
Leaning against the desk, Buck commented, “Seems reason enough to put a hole or two in ‘im.” He looked toward Ezra as he nodded at Barlow. “Come on! Let him see how things will be with no doctor in the town.”
“You wouldn’t!” Barlow insisted. “This is ridiculous! I know you are just tryin’ to make me talk.”
Ezra pursed his lips. “Buck has done it before,” he explained. “Delivered a confession from a prisoner by usin’ a bullet as persuasion. He’s quite adept using his guns to loosen an otherwise stuck tongue.”
“Seem to remember you doin’ the same,” Buck commented to the conman.
"The situation was entirely different," Ezra laughed. “I was provoked. The man had splashed mud on my newly cleaned trousers,” he stated, gesturing to his pant leg.
“Yeah, seems reason enough,” Buck responded with a nod.
“But I wasn’t tryin’ to make the man talk. I only returned the favor,” Ezra amended pleasantly. “A shot or two at the legs and the rebuke was returned. I let him go after that. He hobbled a bit, but…”
“Luckily Nathan was able to see to him,” Buck put in.
"Saved his life," Ezra added pressing a hand over his heart.
“Oh, you fellas are funnin’!” Craig shouted. “Ain’t a lick of this true!”
“Now, why would Judge Travis go to all the trouble of informing us of his decree if there wasn’t a need for its enforcement?” Ezra asked, holding out the letter. He came close enough to the cell for the prisoner to see the official looking envelope and the return address – in care of the Judge.
Craig curled his lip.
Ezra gave him an arch look. “See that rather unpleasant stain in that far corner?” He pointed toward a discoloration on the floor. “That was left by a thief who had made off with Mr. Wilmington’s saddle. We caught him, of course, but -- at first -- he wouldn’t tell where he’d hidden the goods.”
“Stealin’ a man’s horse is a hangin’ offence,” Buck reminded.
“But he didn’t take your horse. It was just a saddle,” Craig blurted out.
“That’s why I just shot him in the arm,” Buck responded. “Weren’t my fault that he nearly bled to death.”
“Luckily our Mr. Jackson was near at hand,” Ezra responded loftily. “Kept that man from bleeding out.”
“And where is Nathan now?” Buck asked.
Craig stood, stiff lipped, arms tightly crossed at his chest.
With a twitch of the lips, Buck raised his weapon again and declared, “Gonna find out.”
“Wait! Wait! The judge said you can’t!” Barlow yelled, his cool façade falling, pointing toward the letter in Ezra’s hand. “He said that there’s a law you gotta follow!”
“True, he did.” Ezra said as he pulled page from the envelope. “He states right here that he wishes us to cease and desist from our practices. Very unfortunate. I found the methods quite effective. He’s most displeased. He says that he doesn’t appreciate presiding over a trial where defendants are losing consciousness due to blood loss. He finds it distasteful.”
“Dang it!” Buck cursed. “How the hell are we supposed to get information out of our prisoners if we can’t shoot ‘em?”
Ezra shrugged. “I have no idea,” he said resignedly.
“Hell, I don't care what he says, the judge ain't gonna make me change my ways,” Buck decided.
With a tsk, Ezra said, “He goes further to state that if we continue to run against his wishes he will dock our pay – severely.”
“My sentiments exactly. Might take away as much as a quarter a day.”
"Hell, that's my sweetie money!"
"Sweetie? I thought they'd cost at least... a little more than that."
"I buy sweets for my ladies," Buck corrected hotly. "And I can't lose that money."
Buck chewed his lip in thought, coming to a decision. “He ain’t told us where to find Nathan. We gotta do somethin'.”
“We have no choice. The law has been set.”
“Can’t I just shoot him, Ezra? What harm would it do?”
“I like bein’ paid on a regular basis, Mr. Willington, and I rather liked receivin' that quarter.”
“Yeah… me too. Can't disappoint the ladies.”
“I too am concerned about your income. Without a paycheck, how will you repay your debts to me?
Buck sneered. “Yeah, that’d be a shame.” He tried to sway his companion. “But, what about Nathan?”
“I will, of course, hold his pay for him,” Ezra returned with a grin.
“Dang it, Ezra. How are we gonna get Nathan back?”
“Outside of payin’ the ransom?” Ezra asked with a shudder.
“Don’t see how we can get our hands on that type of money, ‘less you aim to pay it, .”
It was Ezra’s time to deliver a nasty look. “That, my friend, won’t happen.”
“Hell and damn! Ezra, can’t I shoot him up?” Buck begged shamelessly. “Just one more time? Come on, I really want to shoot him. For old time’s sake…?”
Pointing to the page, Ezra illuminated, “But Judge Travis has forbidden using this method. And, this letter was just delivered on the stage.” The gambler paused. “Did I mention that the stage arrived a bit early today?”
“Early?” Buck responded. “By how much?”
“By about thirty minutes.” Ezra pulled the watch from his pocket and gazed at the time. “In fact, it’s not due for another fifteen minutes,” he informed.
“Fifteen minutes?” Buck responded. “So – I really shouldn’t know about this new law yet, should I?”
“All things considered… no.”
“Fifteen minutes? That should give me plenty of time.” Buck's voice was low, ominous, and he pointed the weapon again at the prisoner. Barlow scuttled to the back of the cell.
“Fair enough,” Ezra replied, and pressed a hand to the door. “I will deliver the letter at the proper time.”
“Wait! Wait!” Craig called from within his cell. “Don’t go! Please!”
Raising an eyebrow, Ezra asked, “Why?”
“Please,” Craig begged. “He’s gonna shoot me!”
“I thought you said you didn’t believe he’d do it?” Ezra said, looking astounded.
“Don’t let him do it!” Craig went on. “Don’t go!”
Buck had become deadly quiet, following Craig about with the gun.
“I have places to be, Mr. Barlow. And, if you’d simply supply him with the answer to his question, he’d let you alone,” Ezra said condescendingly. “Now if you excuse me…” And he slipped through the doorway.
Ezra let the door slap shut and moved down the boardwalk far enough so that he was clear of the windows. He found an open spot along the boardwalk and leaned.
“Well?” JD asked. Beside him, Josiah looked on anxiously and Chris fixed him with a glare. Vin, leaning against a roof support just grinned.
“A moment, please,” Ezra responded.
A few seconds passed and an excited voice could be heard within the jailhouse. A moment later, Buck burst through the door, pausing long enough to holster his gun. “We gotta ride out toward Hosteller's ranch. There’s just two fellas there with Nate. I know the place.”
The six moved as a group toward the livery – eager to get to their seventh and bring him home. Buck nodded to the gambler as they hustled. “That’s really a letter from the judge?” Wilmington asked.
Ezra grinned. “Indeed it is,” he said.
“Just arrived on the stage?”
“It has that new law written down in it?”
“Not as such, no,” Ezra responded. “It’s just his usual refusal of my expense report.” He grinned as he shoved the letter in his pocket.
Buck chuckled, eager to find Nathan and get him back -- glad that they had their own set of laws to follow.
THE END - By NotTasha
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