Rebels & Rogues Magnificent Seven Alternate Universe
What You Have To Do
Vin was in his room when Chris got there. Larabee shut the door behind him.
The younger man stood in the middle of the room, his back to the door, his shoulders hunched, his head bowed. "It's done," he said softly.
Chris nodded, not having to say anything. "You do what you have to do sometimes."
Vin turned to face him and Chris saw how pale the ex-marine was.
"I killed him in cold blood. He didn't even know what hit him when the bullet tore through his head." He sighed, sitting down hard in the plastic industrial chair against the wall.
Walking over, Chris squatted down in front of him, face to face. "He was one of them," he told his best friend.
Nodding, Vin avoided eye contact and didn't speak. He rubbed his hand continuously over his jean-covered thigh.
"Vin?" Chris asked.
"He saved the kid." Vin sighed.
Chris nodded once. "He did. He saved a Collar on Ezra's behalf so he could take Ezra back to the Rogue. Don't make him out to be a hero." Vin wouldn't look at him. After a moment, Chris asked softly, "Who was more important? That Rogue or Ezra?"
Vin looked up at him, his eyes narrowed. "Do you even have to ask that?"
Chris smiled. "No, I don't."
Blinking, Vin looked away and sighed in defeat, his shoulders slumping. Letting out a long breath, he cocked his head and looked sideways at Larabee. "I guess you do what 'cha gotta do." He smiled sadly as he spoke Chris' words.
"Yep," Chris agreed. "And Ezra's free now." He smirked. "A little pissed off, but free."
"Should I be watching my back?" Vin asked, the corner of his mouth turning up.
"That's what you have me for." Chris grinned.
Vin bobbed his eyebrows. "Yep."
"Come on." Chris stood, faltered for a moment, caught his balance and then smiled like nothing had happened. He looked tired as he stretched out kinks in his back. He slapped Vin on the knee. "Let's get to the Med room. Better to talk to Ezra now than later. And you might want to make nice to Nathan after biting his head off."
"Damn. What do the others think?" Vin asked as he stood.
Chris cocked up an eyebrow. "Don't think they knew what to think at first. Thought Buck's eyes were gonna pop out of his head when you were barking orders at Nathan." He laughed, patting Vin on the back. "They get it now, though. They know what you did, what it means to Ezra, to all of us."
"They know I murdered-."
"No!" Chris barked, interrupting his friend, grabbing him around his arm, and making him jump. "Not 'murdered', Vin."
"'Kay, pard," Vin soothed.
"Sorry." Chris sighed as he shook his head. Letting Vin go, he stepped back, running his hand down his face tiredly. "It's just... that kid," he swallowed hard, "told us about... getting caught. About the Rogue *murdering* his ma, his friends. Torturing him." He let out a breath. "And all I could think about, all I could see was..." Chris swayed, his eyes closing tight.
Vin reached out, grasping him around the back of his neck, supporting him with another hand on his shoulder. "Easy, easy."
Chris opened his eyes, blinked, confused.
Vin took a close look at his friend. "Dammit, Chris. You're still hurt. How much sleep have you got?" He squeezed Larabee's neck, leaning towards him, looking him in the eye.
Coming back to himself, Chris shook his head. "I'm okay." He was getting some color back.
Vin gave him a hard look and then let him go. "Okay, let's get to the Med room." He started for the door.
Chris stopped in front of him, standing in his way, Vin almost walking into him. Chris' face was pale, but serious. "Don't for a second think we don't know what you did, Vin. You saved Ezra's ass. It was a good idea, the best idea in a crappy situation. I'm grateful to you."
Glancing down, Vin swallowed hard. "Thanks."
Chris sighed. "Yeah." He turned. "Come on, let's go face the fire."
Vin smiled. "Right behind you pard."
When they walked into the Med room, JD was still asleep, curled up in the middle of the bed like a puppy, his breathing even.
Chris and Vin stood side by side facing the rest of the men in the room.
Josiah looked up from where he was sitting between the two beds, a worn book in his hands. He gave both men a small smile as he lay the book down by his feet and stood.
Buck glanced over at them. He was still sitting in the chair next to JD's bed, but farther back, so he could rest his feet up on the end of the bed. He looked relaxed, his hands clasped over his stomach.
Nathan turned from where he'd been standing at the counter, looking over his medical supplies. He made eye contact with Vin, held it.
Vin shifted, the hard eyes looking into his soul. He stepped forward, sparing a glance at Ezra, who sat propped up in his bed, staring at the far wall, the restraints gone, his hands resting in his lap on top of the covers.
Nathan met him halfway across the room, his hand outstretched.
The two shook hands warmly.
"No hard feelings, Vin," Nathan told him, a smile crossing his lips. "Might have wanted to clock you there for a moment, but I figured it out."
Vin nodded. "Thought you would." He sighed. Nathan stepped away when Josiah walked up next to him, also offering his hand. They shook.
"You're a good man, Vin Tanner." Josiah told him, giving him a knowing look, sort of sad, but determined. He nodded. "We know what you did. And why."
Vin swallowed hard. "Thanks, Josiah."
Josiah and Nathan both walked over to lean against the counter, side by side.
Vin glanced over at Buck. The big man just gave him a wink. Vin smiled. It was all good there.
Chris gave him a push from behind. "You can always count on Buck," he told Vin, his voice soft, only for the ex-marine to hear.
Vin smiled back at him. "Yep." He stepped away from Chris then, walking over to Ezra's bed.
The rest of the men averted their eyes, talking to each other. Chris walked over to stand next to Buck, both seemingly interested in the kid sleeping.
No one in the room could miss the words spoken next.
"You can think I'm a bastard, Ezra," Vin said, standing next to the southerner's bed, staring down at him. "Hell, I do."
Ezra wouldn't look at him.
Vin continued, "You did everything you could to stop me, Ezra. You know you did. You'll always know that you kept your end of the bargain, that you didn't go back on your word. You were gonna do it, I know that. However stupid it might have been, I know what you would have sacrificed to keep your word and to keep us safe. Your life."
Ezra turned his head to look at him, his eyes bright.
Vin leaned over him, closer, his voice soft, sure. "I met your contact, Ezra. Don't know if he was a friend of yours. Hell, you talked like he might be. Don't know how he could be, though," he spat out, "and do to you what he did." He shook his head. "Whether he was a friend or just someone from your past, I want you to know that he died fast, didn't know what was happening, never felt a thing. I don't enjoy killing, but I'm good at my job. It's important that you know that. Important to me. Do you understand me, Ezra?"
Ezra swallowed hard. After a moment, he nodded.
"Whatever he was to you, I want you to know that he's gone. He won't be coming for you. Your deal was made with him and only him, and that deal is done, now. You didn't kill him. I did. It's that simple. You can hate me for it," he looked down, shaking his head. "Wouldn't want that, but you do what you gotta."
Ezra reached out, grabbing Vin's arm in a death grip. "He wasn't a friend, Vin. We'd worked together in the past." He shook his head. "Things I can't talk about."
Vin nodded his head in understanding.
"Doesn't mean that I wasn't pissed at you," Ezra said, his eyes hard, "at what you did. Leaving me no choice like that."
Vin gave a cocky grin. "It was better than your idea."
Ezra smiled then. "Well, yes, that is for certain." He sighed, glancing down. "His name was Yoz. Maybe he'd been a friend once. We were both in the same precarious situation. The Rogue are not any better to their own than they are to us. He, he helped me escape when I..." his voice drifted off, his eyes glazing over, remembering the past. He shook his head. "He didn't do it out of the goodness of his heart. He knew that having me owe him a favor would be in his best interests. Friends don't do that. I paid that favor back, and then some. He..." He swallowed hard. Looking up at Vin, he sighed sadly. "Thanks for making it clean, Vin."
Vin nodded once. He reached out, clasping Ezra around the forearm.
Chris and Buck shared a relieved smile.
"No, he wasn't a friend, Vin. I know who my friends are." Ezra smiled, returning the shake that Vin usually reserved for his best friend.
JD woke slowly, uncurled, stretched and looked around him.
Buck was sitting next to him, watching him closely.
Ezra was sitting up in his bed, pillows propped behind his back. He was playing poker with Josiah, Vin and Chris.
Nathan walked over, a caring smile on his face. He raised the head of JD's bed and put a pillow behind his back, making him comfortable.
"Thanks," JD's voice squeaked. The men all looked at him.
Smiling down at him, Nathan asked, "You want some water, son?"
JD nodded. "Thank you."
The others smiled.
"Well, JD, nice to see you." Buck beamed.
JD looked over at him.
Buck's smile widened. "Buck Wilmington," he introduced himself, grinning as he held out his hand.
JD reached his right hand out, shaking Buck's. He brought his left hand up, staring at the cast in confusion. He shook his head. "What happened? Where am I?" he asked.
The men glanced at each other, uncomfortable.
"What do you remember, son?" Nathan asked, standing next to him.
JD cocked his head in thought. His face blanched and he groaned. "Oh, God," he cried.
Buck rubbed his shoulder. "Easy, kid. Easy."
"I remember," JD said piteously, tears running down his cheeks. "I remember everything." He sunk into the bed. "Oh, God."
"It's okay, kid."
JD wiped his face. He looked up at Buck, his eyes hopeful, pleading. But then he shook his head.
"Son, everything that happened, none of it was your fault. You were just as much a victim as the rest of them," Buck said, his voice soft, throaty.
Sobbing, JD looked at Buck incredulously. "No," he yelled, balling his fist in the sheets. "I killed mama and the others. How can you say it wasn't my fault? I didn't want to tell them where they were, but I did." He choked on a sob, coughing. He looked forlornly around the room and then stared off into space. "I'm a traitor." His face paled. "I... told them. I *told* them." He shook his head.
Buck leaned forward, started to speak.
"No!" JD jerked his fist out, catching Buck in the chin. He scrambled off the bed then and started for the door.
"Dammit," Nathan yelled. "Stop him."
Vin, Josiah and Chris all knocked their chairs back, running to catch him.
JD got around Chris and then slipped on the slick floor, banging down on his knee. A scream died on his lips. He curled up, crying, holding his leg to his chest.
"Easy, now." Nathan calmed, squatting over him, trying to straighten him out.
"Leave me alone," JD cried soft sobs. "Don't you get it?" He looked up at them. "I killed them. The kids," his voice cracked. "They were..." his throat closed up and he groaned, writhing on the floor.
Nathan picked the boy up and then walked him over to the bed. Buck dogged his heels, watching every move Nathan made.
Laying him gently on the bed. Nathan examined the knee, which was already starting to swell. "Watch him," he told Chris and Vin and then walked over to the med cabinet.
Buck sat down in the chair by the bed, his hand on JD's shoulder, consoling him.
Nathan came back, a needle in his hand.
JD saw it and panicked. "No!" he screamed. "No. No more." He curled away from Nathan, right into Chris and Vin, who held him down.
"No shots. No!" JD screamed in rage. "You're not going to hurt me again," he said, his mind back with the Rogue.
He whimpered as the needle bit into his skin. He cried softly and then lay still.
"For the pain," Nathan told the others as he looked at JD's leg.
JD didn't fall asleep, but he relaxed, his eyes hooded. He hiccuped, and then groaned in pain when Nathan manipulated his knee.
The doctor shook his head. "That's a hell of a bad bruise. Let's let the medicine take effect and I'll see what I can do." He patted JD on the shoulder.
JD closed his eyes, tears leaking out.
"JD, I don't know how to get through to you." Buck sighed, laying his hand on top of the boy's head. "It wasn't your fault. There was no way you could withstand the Rogue's torture. If they wanted information out of you, they were going to get it."
"Mr. Wilmington speaks the truth, Mr. Dunne," Ezra said, his face dark.
Josiah nodded. "You can't keep blaming yourself.
Vin sighed, a long, sad sound. He didn't say anything, just bit his bottom lip and watched the boy in silence.
"JD." Chris said.
JD looked up at him.
"That was then," Chris told him. "The important thing is, what are you going to do now?"
JD looked up at Chris, over to Buck and then around at the others. He sighed, running his hand over his face. He was quiet for a long time, deep in thought, his face dark.
"Here you go, JD," Nathan brought him out of his thoughts. The doctor stood next to the bed, holding a glass of water.
JD sat up straighter in the bed. Taking the glass of water that Nathan offered him, he drank half of it before handing the glass back to the doctor. "Thanks," he said, his voice so soft and raspy the men barely heard it. He wiped his face on the sleeve of his hospital gown and cleared his throat. "Well, it's my fault mama and the others died." He held his hand up. "No matter what you say," he glared up at Chris, "I know the truth. And I have to pay for what I did. But there's something I can do about it." He looked down, sighing hard. "What am I gonna do now?" He looked up at Chris, his eyes harsh, determined. "I'm gonna kill 'em, sir. I'm gonna help you kill every last one of the Rogues."
Chris smiled grimly, glancing around at the others, nodding his head and then looking back. "Well, we could sure use you, son." He reached out his hand to shake JD's. "Chris Larabee," he introduced himself, just like Buck had done.
JD didn't smile, but the frown on his face lessened. He squeezed Chris' hand and then released it.
Buck tapped him on the stomach with the back of his hand.
JD looked over at him.
Buck stood. "We've met, kid. Not sure if you were 'all there', though." He grinned. "Name's Buck Wilmington."
"Buck. You were there with me when I first got here. I remember." He ducked his head. "Thanks." JD smiled sweetly, shaking his hand.
"Yeah, kid," Buck smiled. "Now you're with us."
The others came over.
"Nathan Jackson," the gentle doctor introduced himself.
"Josiah Sanchez," the big man said, grinning down at JD, his eyes kind.
JD smiled at both men.
The wiry, longhaired man came over then. His blue eyes were friendly, though a little reserved. "Vin Tanner." They shook hands.
Then all heads turned to the man still sitting in the hospital bed. He smiled over at the boy, his gold tooth glinting behind a dimpled smile. "Ezra Standish, at your service."
JD stared at him, the smile leaving his face. "You," he said, reaching up and rubbing his throat.
The room went deathly quiet and the smile left Ezra's face.
"You saved my life." JD's mouth opened in wonder. "You got that collar off me. You were there, I remember. I woke up when the collar tightened. You helped me. You were with a..." all of a sudden he snapped his mouth shut, staring hard at Ezra.
Standish looked down.
The room was uncomfortably silent.
Finally, JD cleared his throat. "I know what you did," he said, awestruck. "I know what you did for me, what you were willing to give up. I know."
Ezra looked over at him.
JD shook his head in wonder. "Thank you."
Shifting uncomfortably, Ezra looked away. "Well, you d-"
"Do what you have to do," the other's chorused in with him, finishing the sentence and making JD laugh.
"Yeah," Ezra grinned, dimples showing as he looked over at JD. "Something like that."
"So..." JD smiled woozily, his eyes glazed with the drug. He cleared his throat, a loopy, dazed look on his face. "You're going after the Rogue?" He asked, looking around the room hopefully, his smile blinding. "I want to come with you. I can..." he shrugged. "Well, I can tell you everything I know about their computer system." He bobbed his eyebrows cockily. "Which is a lot."
"Don't think his knee hurts him anymore." Josiah winked at Nathan.
Buck shook his head, reaching out and tousling the kid's dark unruly hair. "How old are you, kid?" He smiled.
JD puffed up. "I'm older than I look."
"Kid," Chris scoffed. "You're sixteen. Seventeen, maybe."
"Oh," JD deflated. "You know?" He furrowed his brow trying to remember how he'd let that out.
"Well, hell, kid. There's no age limit to join us. You just got to be crazy, is all." Vin grinned.
"Is that why you fit in so well, Mr. Tanner?" Ezra smirked.
Vin turned, made a face at Ezra. "Takes one to know one."
Chris raised his eyebrow, grinning wryly. "Like Vin said, kid, there's no age limit to join this here group."
"Welcome aboard, John Dunne," Josiah said.
Nathan added, "Glad to have you, JD."
Chris glanced around the room. "Hmm. Seven."
"Lucky number," Vin bobbed his eyebrows.
"You really know all you said you did about their computers?" Buck asked the kid.
JD smiled proudly. "Oh, just get me near one." He rubbed his hands together, wincing when he knocked against his cast. Quickly forgetting the pain, he grinned. "And if you can get me up in the mother ship..." he yawned, "I'm sure I can get a virus on board," he prattled on, "and it'll go all through the other ships and..." he blinked his eyes, his head lolling.
The men smiled as they listened to his chirping.
Chris glanced around the room one more time. Seven. He smiled. Maybe they'd finally do some damage against the Rogue now. He needed to start making plans. He had six good men with him, and more men and women who were willing to fight. They'd take their planet back. His look turned grim. Or die trying. But it was his job to prevent that. He was the leader.
Vin smiled over at him. Vin was with him. Wherever he went, whatever he did.
Buck laughed, patting the babbling kid on the head affectionately. He looked over then, made eye contact with Chris. His smile seemed to say, 'old times.'
Chris smiled then too, for the first time remembering the past without it kicking him in the gut. He nodded his head at his friend.
Vin. Buck. Ezra. He smiled. Josiah, Nathan. Good men, all of them. He was lucky to have them. And now the kid, who knew how to get at the Rogue, take down their computers, cripple them. Chris rubbed his hands together, an evilly gleeful look on his face. It was time to take the fight to the Rogue.
"Boys," he said, grinning at his friends. "We've got work to do."
Buck smiled. "We're with you, Chris."
Tanner nodded at him.
Josiah and Nathan stood side by side, ready to weather the coming storm.
Ezra flashed a smile.
The kid jerked up in his bed, had been almost asleep but still rambling on in his happy, high little voice. He grinned at him, his eyes tired, his face pale. "I'm ready, Mr. Larabee."
Can't ask for more than that. Chris nodded at them as he grinned cockily. "Okay, boys. Let's ride."
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