Rebels & Rogues Magnificent Seven Alternate Universe

The Collar

By: Ruby

 

Rating: PG-13 Language and Violence

Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven is owned by Trilogy, Mirish and MGM. No money is being made. This fanfic is purely for entertainment purposes

Warning: DARK story. Please, if you don't want to read a dark, violence-filled story, delete now.

AU: OPEN - November 27, 01

Author's Notes: Sequel to Genesis. You'd really have to read that one for this one to make sense. Thanks to Judy for betaing this story for me. (I made a few changes after the beta, so any goofy mistakes are mine.) Penny was there in the beginning and really helped a lot. Thanks, Penny!

The order of the stories: Genesis, The Collar, Consequences, What You Have To Do.

Feedback is greatly appreciated. Please let me know what you think. :)

 

The Collar

By: Ruby

 

Ezra Standish lay silently on his bed nursing his aching head. His head had already been hurting when Larabee introduced the butt of his pistol to his temple. Then, after Wilmington had learned the identity of the person responsible for the loss of Dunne's collar and the remarkably colorful bruise around the kid's neck, he'd tackled Standish to the ground presenting him with a few more bruises, one hell of a concussion and a very sore and bruised body. Then, as if that wasn't fun enough, he'd been looked over by a very pissed off healer who didn't hesitate in letting Ezra know exactly how he felt about the whole damn mess.

Finally Ezra was allowed back to his own room after some long hours of complaining and yelling. Right now he was wishing to hell that Jackson had left the painkillers instead of telling him that he'd bring them when he checked on him later.

So here he was, lying on his bed thinking about how he got into this situation to begin with.

*****

You'd think he'd be used to the sight of the Rogues by now, but seeing one up close still made his heart hammer in his chest.

"Yoz." Ezra's voice was icy as he stepped out of shadows, nodding at the tall being who was waiting for him. His burden was getting extremely heavy and he was starting to breathe hard.

"Friend Ezra." The Rogue walked forward, what could be labeled as a smile covering his grotesque mouth. "It's been a while," Yoz said, tugging at the translator that hung from his neck.

Swallowing, Ezra took in a deep breath, hating every second of this. "Thanks for coming."

Yoz nodded once. 

Standish pulled the unconscious teenager's body from his shoulder, laying him down on the gravel-covered ground. He had to stretch and massage his sore shoulder, Dunne was heavier than he looked. Taking a few looks around he assured himself that it was just he and Yoz and the boy in this quiet alley.

Yoz squatted across from him with only the kid's body separating them.

Ezra glanced up at the Rogue, seeing a fleeting look of concern cross Yoz's face as the Rogue fingered the blinking collar around the pale neck.

"Can you remove the collar?" Ezra asked Yoz, hoping that the Rogue would be able to. He knew that if Larabee or the rest of the hard-eyed man's group knew that he was out here conspiring with the enemy it would be a quick beheading and an eternity in Hell for him. But it was a chance he was willing to take to save this young man who was lying before him.

'Conspiring with the enemy,' Ezra ran that phrase through his head one more time while he watched Yoz turn the boy over to get a better look at the collar. Conspiring with the enemy, that's what he was doing, there was no two ways around it. And where his punishment, if found out, would be a quick, relatively painless beheading, he knew that for Yoz, or any Rogue caught doing this, it would be much, much worse. Just the thought of the torture the being before him would have to endure if caught gave Ezra chills. He should know, he'd spent more than just a few days receiving that punishment. Shaking his head, ridding himself of the brutal thoughts, he brought his mind back to the moment.

Yoz looked up at him then, nodding his head once. "That I can, friend Ezra. But I can not guarantee that the human will live through it. Is that a priority?"

Raising his eyebrows, Ezra licked his lips before he spoke, "Yes, Yoz, that *is* a priority. The human must live. I did not just haul his heavy ass this far for you to kill him."

Yoz's mouth turned up in a smirk. "Still the same Ezra, I see," he said before he was silent for a few moments, obviously thinking the coming process through. "I *can* get the collar off," he said looking up at him. "I *can* override the drug, but I can't stop the collar from tightening, that is an inevitability, so I'll need to work fast to get it off of the human once I get it unlocked."

Ezra blew a long breath out, glad that they'd be able to save the boy. Save at least *one* Collar. He couldn't stop his mind from conjuring up memories of other young kids, other Collars, lying dead, executed. Swallowing hard, he nodded to the Rogue who was patiently waiting for his 'go ahead.' Ezra nodded as he replied, "Lets do it."

"One second, friend Ezra." Yoz reached out a hand and placed it over Ezra's heart tapping him there two times. "You know what the consequences will be for you if we do this, don't you?"

Swallowing hard, Ezra steeled himself to the idea of the repercussions he would have to face for his actions today. "Yes, Yoz," he replied. "I know what will happen."

Yoz tapped him on his chest one more time and said, "All right. As long as you understand."

Ezra was not allowed to watch the removal. Sitting quietly with his eyes closed under the blindfold, he listened to the soft sounds.

A few tense minutes passed before Ezra heard a moan and then a harsh gasp. The boy had woken up. This was not good. Dunne was choking. Ezra could hear the gasping getting louder.

Ezra needed to get his hands out of the bonds that Yoz had placed them in before he'd started the removal. Yoz knew him well enough to know that he'd never be able to sit patiently in darkness while the Rogue did what had to be done. So for added security, Yoz had tied his hands behind his back. Ezra had allowed it knowing that if he had to he'd be able to remove the bonds and then the blindfold. And that's exactly what he did.

The second the blindfold was gone he was met with the sight of large, terror and pain-filled brown eyes staring at him. Yoz was working frantically trying to get the murdering piece of metal from around the boy's pale, sweaty neck.

Ezra could actually see the collar squeezing inwards. Dunne's eyes were huge now, his face red, his breathing reduced to spasmodic panting, and panicked gasping. The teen's hands were near the collar, trying in vain to get the thing off. Ezra grabbed the boy's arms, careful of the cast-enclosed wrist, and pulled them away from where Yoz was trying to work. Dunne's legs kicked once, twice and then lay still. Brown eyes rolled back before they closed; the gasping, wheezing sounds ended to leave silence in their wake.

"NO!" Ezra screamed, trying to get his hands in there and help Yoz with what he was doing.

"Back!" Yoz yelled at him, pushing him forcefully away. "This is why you're not allowed to watch," he told him.

Suddenly, Yoz let out a triumphant grunt as he pulled the collar away from the body.

Ezra was there in a second, checking the boy's pale wrist for a pulse. He found one, faint, but there. Letting out the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding, he sat back on his heels and sighed. The color was slowly returning to the teen's face and Ezra realized that the ordeal was really over and a success.

Yoz slowly stood above him, holding the collar in his hand.

Ezra glanced up smiling. "Thanks, Yoz. Thank you." He was met with hard, unflinching eyes. Ezra hung his head. "I know," he answered the look. "I know."

When Ezra looked back up, Yoz was gone. He sighed, resolving himself for the long trip back to the Rebel's barracks. He picked up the once-again-unconscious teenager and tossed him over his shoulder.

*****

Chris Larabee quietly slipped into Ezra's small room to find the gambler lying on his bed staring off into space. Chris waited a few moments for the yonger man to notice him, and when he didn't, he cleared his throat to get his attention.

Ezra jumped slightly, his eyes darting over to him, the alarm quickly vanishing under his 'poker face.' "Mr. Larabee," his voice was ragged, and he coughed once into his hand. "Is there something... I can... do for you?" He asked as he slowly pushed himself up in the bed while keeping an eye on him the whole time.

Chris's mouth turned up slightly at the corners when he saw the wary look. Hell, he couldn't really blame Standish for being uneasy around him, he *did* threaten to kill him. But Chris's grin quickly disappeared when he heard the soft gasp the younger man let out when he moved. He knew Ezra was hurting, whether he'd admit it or not.

While Chris waited for Ezra to get himself comfortable, he wondered what had been on the gambler's mind when he'd first entered the room. Whatever it was it didn't look like it had been pleasant. "Here," Chris said as he handed Ezra two small pills and a glass of water.

Reaching out slowly, Ezra grasped the glass and then grabbed the pills from Chris's palm. "I was... under the assumption... that our magnanimous healer would be... delivering my pain medication this evening."

Chris knew that the Southerner was definitely hurting when he swallowed the painkillers without any bitching at all. "Nathan had planned to come, but the kid... the Collar... looks like he might be waking up and he wanted to be there."

"Oh," Ezra replied, picking a piece of lint off his blanket and then absently smoothing the material down.

A few awkward, silent moments passed while Ezra looked everywhere but at Chris until, finally, he put his hand over his mouth to cover a yawn.

"Get some rest, Ezra." Chris told him.

Ezra didn't say anything in response, only glancing his way for a moment. But soon he slipped down further in the bed. And it wasn't too long before his eyelids were drifting shut and he yawned again, this time without covering his mouth.

Larabee watched the gambler as he fought to keep his eyes open. Obviously the pain meds had hit him hard. Crossing his arms over his chest, Chris leaned a shoulder on the wall. "Rest up. I'll have Vin take your scouting trip tonight." Chris watched as Ezra raised his index finger in response. His eyes didn't open again, and soon Chris heard even breathing come from the young man. He shook his head, wishing that the Southerner was as innocent as he looked when he was sleeping.

"Hey, Cowboy."

Larabee heard Vin call out to him and met the sharpshooter in the hallway.

"He okay?" Vin asked, nodding his head towards Standish's room.

Chris rolled his eyes. "Shit. Nothin' could keep that man down for long."

Laughing, Vin clapped Chris on the shoulder, smiling as two small boys ran by, chasing each other through the hall. "Heard some sounds comin' from the med room. I'm guessin' the kid's wakin' up and ain't real happy with his surroundin's."

Smirking, Chris raised an eyebrow. "Ya think?" he asked sarcastically. "Well, let's get down there. I can't wait to see how Buck's gonna react to this."

"Ole Mother-Bear-Bucklin," Vin grinned, shaking his head.

Both men walked side by side down the hall towards the med room.

the end  (October '01)

 

Sequel: Consequences.

 

   Comments  Please let me know what you think. I'd love to know.

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