Rating: PG-13 Bad language

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

AU: ATF - Thanks Mog! :)

Author's Notes: Thanks to Phyllis for the great beta. This is a dark fic. *sigh* I've really been thinking a lot about Ezra lately. Please let me know what you think.


The Other Way

By: Ruby

You know, it's the tone in their voices, the looks, the curled lips, like they smell bad milk. They look at me like I'm shit on their shoes. You know what it's like to get accused of something you didn't do? And no matter how many times you say you're not a dirty cop, they still give you that look.

Other agents don't want me for backup, afraid I'll run if the shit hits the fan. And can I blame them? 

Have I run in the past? Hell yeah. And I'll regret it to the day I die. 

Would I do it again? God, I hope not. 

*That's* my fear. That one day the team will need me and I'll be going the other way. That I won't back them up. That I'll let them die. I wake up in a cold sweat just thinking about it, seeing it in my head. The rest of them, dead. And I'm alive.

We've been together for three years now and they trust me. At least, I think they do. The rest of the agents, the ones who believe the 'Atlanta story,' they wouldn't trust me as far as they could throw me. But the Seven, damn it, they do. And it kills me. Some days I sit at my desk and I watch them, and envision them dying. Each death different from the last. And I'm to blame. Every time.

So much blood on my hands. It hasn't happened yet. But it could. And then how would I live with myself?

I just don't know. 

Some days I want to storm into Chris' office and ask him what the hell he's thinking, trusting me with the lives of the team. That it's a damn stupid thing to do. But Chris trusts me, damn it. It wasn't like that in the beginning. Oh, hell no. In the beginning I think Chris would have done anything to get me off his team. Especially after I ran out on them.

But now, after three years of watching their backs, being reliable, or semi-reliable, I don't think Chris even gives it another thought. Or maybe he does. Maybe *he* wakes up in a cold sweat at night just thinking about it. Thinking, 'When's Standish gonna fuck us over? Which day will be *the day* when the blood flows and Standish is running away?'

I wouldn't blame him for thinking that. Hell, how could I? Not when I think it every second of every day myself.

I'm scared. Always scared. I don't want to be a coward. Let the men down. I'd rather die than let that happen.

That's the reason I'm always on edge, sharp with my tongue and my actions. Stress will do that to you. And I'm stressed. My shoulders are tight, my stomach's in a knot. I want to get away from it, but there's not a time or place anymore that I don't think about it. Wonder. Worry. Hope to God today's not the day I get them killed.

I could talk to Josiah. Hell, that's what he's there for. Not the only reason, mind you, but one of them. He's there for us to talk to. But, I respect Josiah. I'd never let him know that, but I do. And I don't want him knowing what's going on in my mind, in my thoughts. I don't want him to think less of me. And he would.

I could talk to one of the others. Vin, maybe. Vin's always been a friend. We got off to a rocky start, but I'll always count him among the good guys in my book. He'd be there if I needed him. But, again, there's the whole 'you're a stinkin' coward' thing. Vin wouldn't understand. He always does what needs to be done. Even if it means running towards the bullets. If the team was in peril, he'd lay down his life, end of story, no doubt about it.

And Chris. There's no way on God's green earth that I'd talk to Chris Larabee about this. 'Ah, yeah, Mr. Larabee, I just wanted to sit down and chat with you about the fact that I'm a little nervous that one day I might just get every one of your friends killed. Oh, and, also, could you sign off on my expense account while we're at it? That would be great. Thanks.' Yeah, that would be one of those stellar conversations that go straight to hell in a handbag.

So what do I do? Keep going like I'm going? Hope I'm not going to stroke out one day? 

Try not to picture the bullets and the blood? 

I guess that's all I can do. Just get through one more day. Keep repeating my mantra: Don't run out on them today.

Please, Standish, don't run out on them today.


February 2005


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