Alternative Universe (Seven)
Notes: This story is in response to Setcheti’s January challenge. ‘Write (or rather, *re*write) a movie or TV show as starring our favorite Seven guys. You MAY NOT use an existing AU, you must create your own. (Yes, that does mean you can't just have ATF Team Seven join forces with Walker, Texas Ranger - a crossover is not what we're aiming for here.) This is my first challenge; so let me know what you think.
Special Thanks to Antoinette for getting this done on such short notice!
Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Little Billy Travis rushed to his room with his new package. The UPS man had come today and dropped it off. He couldn’t wait to get to open it up. It had to be done in privacy, that way his sisters wouldn’t know it had arrived. When his mother had picked him up from school and told him that the package had come she couldn’t drive home fast enough.
His collection was complete.
Billy entered his room and locked the door behind him. His incomplete set of action figures of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ were placed perfectly on his dresser across from his bed. The GI Joe like dolls were complete with all the additional accessories. Their guns, clothing, and holsters looked and felt real. They were so awesome. Billy opened the box as though it were a prized gift from the President of the United States. All of the young boy’s friends were going to be jealous. He was going to be the only one in school with the complete set. Ezra Standish was the hardest of the seven to find. For some reason he was considered gold for teenage girls and even some ‘old’ women as well. But he wasn’t the only popular one. One day, after school, Billy found his mother playing with Chris Larabee. And then there were his sisters. They always wanted the action figures for their Barbies. He’d even discovered his older sister, Carrie, trying to see if Buck was anatomically correct…whatever that means.
The figures all sat on the edge of his dresser. Vin Tanner sat next to Chris Larabee under the lamp that was often made to play the part of a tree. Buck Wilmington and JD Dunne leaned against the plastic fence that contained seven plastic model horses. Josiah Sanchez rested on the shelf with Nathan Jackson that looked over the rest of the room.
Billy Pulled Ezra Standish from the cardboard and plastic covered box. The sweet new smell of plastic filled the room and shivers went down the boy’s back. Ezra’s red coat, pin striped pants, and weapons were all perfectly in place.
The collection was complete.
Billy carefully placed the gambler on the shelf with the others and stood back. His friends were going to be so jealous. His father had ordered the figure and it had taken weeks to arrive, it had seemed like years for the young boy. Now, the Magnificent Seven could save the planet from all the evil toys that were trying to take over the world. Billy looked to the plastic dinosaurs, transformers, and the Storm Troopers. They would now be conquered.
“Billy!” came the distant call from downstairs. “Dinner!”
They young boy took one last look at his prized collection, before turning and rushing out the door. If he hurried through dinner he could get back to his room faster.
Steven Travis kissed his wife gently on the cheek and chuckled when his son rushed into the dining room. His daughter Carrie was already at the table, her long blonde hair matched her mother’s, and she looked more interested in her fashion catalog than dinner. Anna, Steven’s middle child, played with her new Barbie while sitting next to her sister, Billy, however, looked ready to jump out of his skin. He wanted to go play with his toys. Steven smiled. He’d made his son a special hutch to keep the toys in; something his own father had done for him. He intended to give it to him after dinner.
“Carrie,” Steven said, taking his seat at the end of the table. “Put your magazine away.”
Carrie rolled her eyes then casually tossed the article onto the shelf behind her seat.
Roast beef, cooked carrots, and potatoes filled the table. Mary had worked extra hard on this meal. She’d been promoted at the newspaper she worked for. She wanted to tell her husband after the children went up to their rooms to finish their homework.
“What’s with you, booger?” Carrie asked, looking at her brother as he tapped his fingers on the tabletop. His mouth was full of food and he was having a difficult time keeping it closed.
Billy just shrugged his shoulders, unable to answer.
Steven looked at his son and tried to stifle a chuckle. “Slow down,” he said seriously.
“You know…” Carrie smiled, “you look like a zit about to pop.” She snickered as her brother wiped the mashed potatoes away from his lips.
“I’ve got something to show you after dinner, but not until everyone is finished,” Steven butted in, not wanting his eldest daughter’s conversation to continue. “Billy,” he said a little louder, “did you hear me?” He chuckled when his son looked his way and nodded.
“Can I leave early?” Anna asked, sitting her Barbie next to her plate.
“No,” Mary replied, wiping her mouth with the soft white napkin.
“Can Emma sleep over tomorrow?” Carrie asked, and then she took the last bite of her roll.
Mary looked to her husband who agreed. “Yes, but no music videos.”
“Mom,” Carrie whined.
“Your mother said no and that’s the end of it.” Steven looked at his eldest daughter who was just now discovering her ‘teenage’ years.
Billy watched his family wishing he had a fast forward button like the one his father used for his videos. Nobody was eating fast enough. When his mother finally laid her napkin on the table, he sighed in disbelief. Finally. Thankfully, it was Carrie’s turn to clean up.
Steven touched his son on the shoulder. “Mary, that was delicious.” He scooted his chair away from the table. “Billy.” He looked toward his son and motioned for him to follow.
Steven flipped the lights on in the garage. His son followed close behind. The smell of grease, engine fuel, and rubber filled the air. Tools hung from the walls, and the old Mercedes that Steven’s father had owned now occupied the center of the room.
Billy followed his father to the back of the room, and paused when he pulled back a heavy blanket. The finely crafted wooden chest was…magnificent. Though it wasn’t nearly as large as the ones in the furniture stores, it was just the right size for a boy Billy’s size.
“My father made me one when I was your age, figured I do the same for you.” Steven knelt down in front of the chest and opened the lid. “I stored all my GI Joes in mine.”
Billy smiled when he looked inside. There were seven individual spaces for his collection. The inside of the chest had been stained a dark walnut and small boxes had been made for each of the dolls’ accessories. Steven had made a divider to be placed on the individual spaces so Billy could store something on top of them.
“It’s perfect,” Billy said. He looked up at his father with a smile that melted his heart. “Can I take it inside?”
“I’ll carry it,” Steven replied, enthusiastically.
Billy took one last look at his action figures as he closed the lid to his hutch; he left the divider out for now. He hated it when it was bedtime. Slowly, he stood up and crawled into bed. He pulled his blankets up to his chest and looked toward his bedroom door when his father peeked inside.
“Goodnight,” Steven said, with a smile.
“Night,” Billy replied, as the light went out.
The subtle sound of knocking woke Billy from his deep sleep. At first the sound scared him, not knowing what it was. When he located the soft noises that were coming from within the chest his father had made him he looked, in shock, at the latch, wondering if it would open. The seven! He panicked, not knowing if he’d locked a mouse inside the chest. A mouse…a mouse would eat through the precious items.
Quickly, Billy turned the light on next to his bed and jumped out, and then he rushed to the hutch and opened the lid. The boy jumped back when seven tiny guns were pointed directly at him. Billy’s eyes got wider as he realized the dolls were alive.
“What in the name of the Almighty is goin’ on here?” Buck yelled, never taking his gun off the enormous figure that stared back at him and the others.
“God?” Josiah asked, not sure of what it was he was seeing.
“What’n the hell was in the tea, Nathan?” Vin asked, slightly louder than he’d anticipated.
“Are you guys for real?” Billy asked, getting closer to the men, who were trying to force their way into the woodwork of the hutch.
“I think that’s a rhetorical question?” Ezra responded, shaking just as hard as the others.
“Wow, this is so cool!” Billy almost shouted, but kept himself quiet as to not wake his parents.
“The weather has nothing to do with this particular situation.”
“Ezra,” Chris snapped.
“Shut up!” Six voices echoed as one through the small chest.
“My name’s Billy,” the young boy said enthusiastically.
“Well, Billy?” Josiah spoke up. “Why are you so…big?” He was the only one who seemed to have any control at the moment.
“I’m not big, you guys are just small.”
“I am not small!” JD shouted, wanting everyone to hear.
“Billy…how ‘bout you tellin’ us where we’re at?” Nathan asked, finding his voice.
“You’re in my bedroom.” He looked around his room proudly.
Chris looked at the large face, and then decided his bullets weren’t going to save him and he put his gun away. Slowly, the others did the same. “Where’s your bedroom?” He asked, sitting down on the floor of the building he was in.
Billy thought a moment before answering. “My parents’ house.”
“There are giants bigger ‘an you?” Buck yelped. “HOLY SHI—”
“—Mr. Wilmington,” Ezra’s voice cut through the ladies man’s tirade, “we’re in the presence of a child.”
“Child my ass—fanny!”
“Perhaps, Brothers, this is the sign we’ve been lookin’ for,” Josiah said, scratching his chin. Six sets of eyes landed on him like a ton of bricks. “Or not…”
When Billy heard the sound of someone getting up from his parent’s room he slammed the lid to the chest closed. He didn’t want anyone to know. Realizing nobody was coming toward his room; he lifted the lid again and sighed in disappointment. The dolls were just that…dolls. Disappointed, Billy closed the lid and then returned to bed.
“Billy!” Mary’s voice cut through the air like the annoying sound of an alarm. “Time to get up,” she said, peeking in through the ajar door.
Billy rolled over and sighed. Was it a dream? He asked himself, and then suddenly, he jumped up and rushed for the chest and opened the lid. There they were. Billy smiled almost uncontrollably. Ezra was the only one lying in his place, resting his head on his jacket with his hat over his face. Chris looked up and blew smoke towards the boy; he never offered to move other than that. Vin sat across from his friend carving on a piece of wood he’d managed to pull off the chest wall. Buck was up, after spending most of the night pacing. JD looked at Billy in wonder, all the while trying to decipher where they were. Josiah and Nathan had been talking on the other side of the partition separating them from Chris and Vin.
Nobody looked happy.
“You’re all real?” Billy smiled.
“No shi—” Buck was about to reply, but was stopped by Chris and Josiah’s looks of warning. After all, the giant was still a child.
“You have an astounding capability of stating the obvious, Master Billy,” Ezra replied, not bothering to remove his hat from above his eyes. The early morning sun would cause his head to hurt.
Billy ignored the comment, not quite sure what it meant. “I have to go to school. If I don’t lock you back in here, will you be here when I get home?”
Ezra lifted his hat off his face and looked to the others. Only a child could ask such a question…because they’d believe the answer. “I don’t believe we have any other place to be.” He placed his hat back into position. He didn’t lie…exactly, but the others weren’t coming up with an answer and one was needed. Ezra wasn’t about to be locked in the dark anymore than he’d already been.
Billy smiled in response. He’d tell his mother he didn’t feel well if he thought he could get away with it, but he knew if he did she’d only stay home from work and keep him within reach at all times. So, school it was. Quickly, the boy dressed then raced down the stairs leaving the lid to the hutch open.
Ezra stood up, along with the others and then he tried to peek over the top of the wall. Not an easy feat…considering. When the sound of feet running back up the stairs filled the room everyone went back to their positions, unsure of what to expect.
Billy returned out of breath and carrying a napkin full of food, and a Dixie cup full of water. After all, these people were alive, and they needed to be fed. He carefully placed everything in the chest and stood back while the seven men examined the contents. The smell of the roast beef grabbed the attention of all their stomachs, and the water…the water was greatly appreciated.
“I won’t be long,” Billy replied, before leaving the room with his backpack. He closed the door behind him, wishing the day were over already.
“That ain’t natural,” Buck said, looking at the piece of meat. He took tentative steps around the brown block. The animal that it came from must have been enormous. No, bigger than that.
Vin took his knife and sliced off a piece of the meat and took a bite. “Ain’t bad,” he said, sitting back down with his back against the partition.
Ezra shook his head and then stood up on one of the dividers. He needed to get out.
“Thought you said you wouldn’t leave,” Nathan spoke up, watching as the Southerner tried to find a way out of their predicament.
“I merely told the boy that we didn’t have any place else to be.”
“I’m with Ezra,” JD said. “Let’s get out of here and get home.”
“We need to find out where ‘here’ is first,” Vin replied, wiping his hand on his pants.
Ezra ignored everyone and reached up and grabbed the top of the chest wall. All he had to do was pull himself up, easier said than done. When he finally managed to get to the top he sat on the edge and looked around the room. Everything was large.
“What’s out there, Ezra?” Chris asked, putting his cheroot out.
“I would assume, Mr. Larabee, that what I am seeing are items associated with a ‘giant’ child of Billy’s age.”
Chris rolled his eyes, not the answer he was looking for. “And…”
“Things,” Ezra responded, shrugging his shoulders. With his heart beating wildly in his chest he leapt from the hutch wall. He didn’t hear the screams of his friends calling his name.
“I’m gonna kill ‘im!” Chris raged, jumping to his feet and heading for the place that Ezra had climbed.
“Brother Ezra is not one for conformity,” Josiah said, moving closer to the wall the Southerner had climbed.
Chris threw the former priest a glare then motioned for the big man to help him up and over the wall. Vin was next, and then JD. Buck was ready to kill something by the time it was his turn to go over. This was not his idea of a good time. Prior to showing up in a box with a giant looking at him and the others in awe, he was spending the evening with a very fine young woman. When Nathan and Josiah leapt from the top of the chest wall they gathered with the others and looked around the room in disbelief.
Vin had his weapon out, pointed toward the collection of stuffed bears that looked…monstrous. He relaxed…a little, when Chris joined him at his side. Thankfully, it was just the seven of them that were moving. Everything else seemed…stationary, as Ezra had put it.
“I say we find a door and get the hell out’a Dodge,” Buck said, slightly annoyed.
“You mean that door?” Nathan asked, pointing to the huge wooden entry.
Buck looked at the healer with an irritated eye. Granted, it wasn’t the kind of door he was looking for, but if they were going to get home they had to get out of their current location. The ladies man took a few steps forward and looked cautiously around the leg of the bed. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so difficult after all.
“I still say we all came down with some strange illness and Nate gave us some of his ‘tea’,” Vin said, looking wildly around the room. He was in desperate need of an explanation.
“Maybe we’re all havin’ the same dream?” JD suggested. “Ouch!” He yelped, when Buck reached over and pinched him.
“We ain’t dreamin’!”
“Hell, Buck, you’re just pissed cuz you and Miz Irene were interrupted,” JD responded back.
Chris stepped forward, wanting to take control of the situation. His men were falling apart and he really couldn’t blame them. This wasn’t like facing an ambush or a bank robbery. No, this was something different. Something none of them had ever experienced before. Or ever will again…he was sure of it.
“Josiah, you and Nate take a walk and keep your eyes pealed for anything,” Chris ordered. “Buck,” the ladies man turned his attention to his long time friend, “you and JD look for any kind of an escape route, something we can get to quick, if need be.”
Vin walked over and stood next to Chris with his mare’s leg firmly in his grasp. He knew the black clad gunslinger’s tone, and it wasn’t to be challenged. “Where do you want me, Pard?”
Chris looked up toward the window and without having to say anything Vin knew what the man in black was asking. The tracker nodded and jogged toward the chest of drawers. He needed to find out what kind of situation they were up against.
“Ezra,” Chris called, realizing for the first time the Southerner wasn’t around. “EZRA!” He called again.
“Mr. Larabee,” Ezra answered, from the top of the nightstand. He’d used the drawer handles as climbing devices and had managed to get atop.
Chris just shook his head, and then stormed off, leaving the Southerner to his own devices.
When the door to Billy’s room opened, seven small men hid under the bed with their guns drawn. Large bare feet walked around the room looking for something. Chris and his men watched in stunned silence. This wasn’t Billy. They hadn’t discovered anything in the room that was ‘knowingly’ dangerous, and for the most part everything was just ‘strange’. They did discover several hiding places, all of which would come in useful if the need occurred.
Buck jumped back when the Barbie wearing no clothing was dropped to the ground next to the bed. The others just froze, not wanting to make a sound. When the little girl left the room running, after hearing her mother’s call, the boys relaxed.
Buck took a step closer to the body that had been dropped to the floor. He took his hat off and placed it against his chest. Though the woman didn’t look real, she was the same size as Buck and the rest of them.
“She don’t look real,” JD said, stepping up closer to the form.
“She ain’t,” Nathan replied, tentatively touching the plastic form.
“Is this what’s intended for us?” Buck asked, the concern in his voice was evident.
“Brother Buck…” Josiah started to say.
“Chris?” Buck’s voice dropped three octaves. “She ain’t…you know?” He pointed to her lack of…equipment. He looked down past his waist.
“Problem?” Ezra asked, with a devious smile.
“Oh hell…I’m afraid to look,” Buck replied softly, turning his eyes toward the ceiling.
Chris tried to stifle a laugh, but the look on Vin’s face prevented it. In the midst of their uncertainty came a sense of humor. Even JD was finding it difficult to maintain his serious composure.
“I’m serious here!” Buck yelped. “What if…you know…it’s gone?”
“Why don’t you take a look, Brother,” Josiah suggested, knowing the ladies man would sever his own arm rather than lose the family jewels.
“I can’t,” Buck’s voice shook from fear. “Chris you look,” he pleaded, pulling his pants away from his waist.
“No way in hell!” Chris quickly responded, stepping away from his long time friend.
Buck looked around to the others, but received the same responses. Chris shook his head. Only Buck would be worried about ‘that’ at a time like this. Nobody seemed to notice Nathan or JD ‘reposition’ themselves just to make sure. When the ladies man finally found enough courage to check he sighed in relief and like a weight that had been lifted off his shoulders he slumped back against the nightstand.
“There is a God,” Buck sighed in relief.
When the deep echoing sound of feet filled the room everyone moved back under the bed to stay hidden from view.
Billy rushed into his room and shut the door behind him. He didn’t notice it was already open. He threw his book bag onto his bed and looked wildly around the room. His action figures weren’t in the chest anymore and he panicked. He searched around the small wooden hutch and the surrounding items. It wasn’t until he fell onto his knees and looked under the bed that he sighed in relief.
“I’ve got an idea,” Billy said, looking toward his closet. “I’ll go get a box and you guys can make a house out of it…”
“No,” Chris suddenly objected. He stepped forward with his long black duster swirling around his legs. “We need to get back.”
Billy nodded. He didn’t want his new friends to leave. Suddenly, he stood up and grabbed his book bag. He’d gone to the library at the school and had gotten a couple of medical books. He placed the books on the floor and then looked to Nathan. “I got these for you,” he pushed the items closer.
“The Medical Encyclopedia and Emergency Victim Care,” Ezra said, reading the titles.
Nathan’s eyes got large as the looked at the books that could teach him more than he ever thought he could learn. “I could sure spend some time readin’,” he said, almost inaudibly, as he touched the books longingly.
“Read fast,” Chris ordered, not wanting to stay any longer than they had to.
Billy smiled and then rushed out of the room. He left the others looking at him in wonder, not sure what was going on. Nathan, Ezra, and Josiah pushed the books back so they could be opened. Nathan then opened the first book cover, struggling with the unfamiliar size. But the determination to learn drove him.
Vin watched as JD, Josiah, and Ezra helped the healer with the awkwardness of the pages. JD looked in amazement at the pictures, while Nathan became mesmerized by the information.
“You should see this, Buck,” JD called to the ladies man, while standing on the pages of the book. “It’s got pictures.”
“What I need to see ain’t goin’ to come from no book,” Buck complained, seating himself on one of the many toys that were spread across the floor.
“I’d be willing to place a wager on that,” Ezra said, after Nathan flipped another page of the medical book, successfully forcing JD to move.
Josiah covered JD’s eyes with his hand while Vin shook his head and then turned his attention toward the door after hearing footsteps in the distance. Billy reentered the room with a large box and a handful of towels. He grabbed a pair of scissors and cut a door in the box then set it on the floor away from the door so nobody could see it.
“You can stay in here,” Billy said, sitting next to the box.
Everyone but Nathan moved under the bed to the other side of the room and toward the carton.
“It’s not exactly the Ritz,” Ezra commented, looking at the brown building that didn’t have any windows.
Chris ignored Ezra and shook his head. He needed…wanted…to get back. Living in the dusty town of Four Corners didn’t exactly constitute an extravagant living, but it sure as hell was better than this. However, if Nathan could learn more about medicine he could save more lives…many more lives. Perhaps a short, very short, amount of time in this…awkward place wouldn’t be so bad.
“Two days,” Chris stated, and then stormed into the box that didn’t have any windows.
Billy smiled. Two days wasn’t very long and he knew, in his heart, that he couldn’t keep these people captives. He also couldn’t let them out into his world, a place that would put them on display and use them as science projects.
“You can use the towels as beds,” Billy said, enthusiastically.
“Sure as hell beats the floor,” Buck muttered, watching as the ‘giant boy’ started folding the large linens.
“BILLY!” His mother’s yell came from downstairs.
The young boy sighed and bowed his head. His mother had the world’s worst timing. Slowly, he got to his feet and headed out of his room…once again. “I’ll be right back,” he said, and then closed the door.
“I ain’t sleepin’ in that!” Buck yelled, pointing his finger at the makeshift house.
When the bedroom door burst open everyone rushed for the cardboard box and their hiding place under the bed.
“I know Billy hid them,” Carrie said to her best friend as they entered the room. She placed her hands on her hips and looked around. “I saw the Ezra Standish box in the garbage so I know that little brat’s got him hid.”
Emma jumped on Billy’s bed. “JD’s my favorite…I wanted to get the doll but my mom said no. She said ‘it would encourage my overactive imagination’.” She laughed and flopped back onto the pillows. “I think my Barbie and JD would make a good match.” She looked up and watched as her friend looked through Billy’s things. “Ken is just way too gay.”
“I know,” Carrie gasped. “He wears ruffles.”
Buck pushed Ezra in a joking manner, and then snickered after the ‘ruffles’ statement. Ezra in turn pushed Buck and the ladies man fell into JD who was feeling rather good about himself. Someone thought he’d make a good partner for Barbie, whoever she was. And, what’s wrong with being ‘gay’. Josiah came up behind the two troublemakers and grabbed them behind their necks, quickly and effectively putting an end to their antics.
“Boys,” Josiah said with a tone that wasn’t lost on Ezra or Buck.
JD snickered again, covering his mouth to hide any sounds. He watched Vin and Chris peer out of the makeshift door of the ‘house’ that Billy had made them. Even though the situation was serious there was a light atmosphere about it.
“I like, almost died when I saw the Ice Skating Ken…” she laughed, and then rolled onto her belly.
“That is so true!” Carrie laughed, and got an evil look in her eye. “We could steal Anna’s Barbies and hide them?”
“Okay,” Emma seemed intrigued. She needed something to do.
Anna and her Barbies were inseparable. At nine years of age she spent most of her free time making new clothes for them. Her biggest and best creative designing achievement was making Barbie, swimsuits…out of balloons. Her mother encouraged her to play, wanting her to use her creativeness, and it was better than having her eyes locked on the TV screen all day.
“Where do you want to hide ‘em?” Emma asked, looking around the room.
Carrie got an evil look in her eye. “How about that box.” She pointed to the wooden hutch. “She’ll never look in that…Billy won’t let her.”
Both girls rushed from the room, leaving seven men wondering about their state of minds. The whole situation seemed too unreal for them.
“I say we do whatever we have to; in order to get back…this is bullshit!” Buck yelled, stepping out into the open.
“And how do you intend to accomplish that, Mr. Wilmington?” Ezra asked, looking toward the door. He knew the girls would return.
“Josiah…” Buck turned towards the big man, “how do we get outta this?”
“If I knew that, Brother, we wouldn’t be here.”
“It says here,” Nathan spoke up, “that ‘shock’ is the failure of blood to circulate throughout the body…” He scratched his chin. “So that’s what it’s called.” He spoke more to himself than anyone standing around.
“Chris!” Buck yelled again.
Everyone jumped back into their hiding places when the two girls entered the room carrying handfuls of Barbies.
“How are you gonna keep her from playing with your dolls?” Emma asked, dumping the handful she was carrying into the wooden chest.
“Lock my door,” Carrie snickered, and then threw the few she was carrying into the box. Quickly, she shut the lid and then both girls dashed back out of the room, not wanting to get caught.
“What in the HELL was that?” Buck asked, stepping out into full view.
JD, Nathan, and Vin joined him. Chris stepped out of the box and looked around. Two days, that’s all he agreed to. Perhaps it was too long? He patted his duster, looking for his papers and tobacco pouch, because he needed another smoke. He and the others looked to the hutch when it started making sounds, pounding sounds, and then someone was screaming for help.
Seven men, thinking of one mind, jumped into action. People were locked in the hutch and they needed to get them out. Josiah grabbed a ladder that was attached to a very strange, very long, and very red, horse’s carriage. Nathan pounded on the outside of the hutch, trying to get those that were inside calmed down…he didn’t want them going into ‘shock’. JD and Ezra started pulling rope out of the very large rug that was on the floor, it seemed strong enough, while Vin and Chris started devising a plan to extricate these poor souls from their current location.
It didn’t take long before Josiah had secured the rope to the latch on the lid of the hutch and then with Buck, Nathan, and himself pulling it from the dresser behind the box, they started heaving. Ezra positioned himself on the ladder with a block he’d found next to a box that read ‘Tinker toys’ so he could place it under the lid once the others lifted it. Vin and JD held the ladder steady and Chris… Chris stood guard, and supervised.
Once the lid was lifted, Ezra slipped the block into place. Everyone that was trapped in that box cheered in relief, motivating the seven to further their rescue. They had done it.
Buck stood back in awe as he watched the delicate beauties exit the box. One by one they came, some dressed in their under garments, and others in extravagant gowns. JD walked up beside his friend and handed him a hanky.
“What’s this for?” Buck asked, never taking his eyes off the women.
“You’re drooling,” JD stated as a fact, rather than an observation.
“Oh, thank you!” One of the women gasped, grabbing Buck around his neck. “You’re ah…kinda cute,” she said behind a smile.
“So’re you,” Buck replied, losing all interest in everything around him. He grabbed her around her tiny waist, trying not to get his fingers caught in the long pink material that ballooned around her sides.
“I don’t know how to thank you boys,” another woman gasped, sitting on a block of wood. She pulled her leg up onto her lap and started massaging her feet. Her short white uniform was accented with a stethoscope and nameplate. “My feet feel like they’ve been in the same position for the last sixty years.” She sighed, and then went to change legs, but when she spotted the tall handsome man coming to her aid she stuck her foot out for him to rub. “I’m Doctor Barbie,” she smiled.
“Nathan, ma’am,” he introduced himself, unsure if he should take her leg.
“You gonna stand there and look at it all day…or rub it,” the words dripped softly off her tongue like honey on a warm day.
Nathan swallowed hard, and then gently took the woman’s leg. He was a healer, that’s all he was going to do…check for injuries.
Josiah looked at his friend and could hardly contain his laughter. Watching as the normally self confident, strong, and independent healer looked more lost than a newborn calf.
“I’m Ken,” the male Barbie doll stepped up to Chris and shook his hand. He took a deep breath and looked at his fingernails. “Good grief I need a manicure.” He patted his chest and headed over to where more of the women stood. “Ladies,” he gasped, “manners.” His eyes got wide as he looked at their ‘unlady’ like positions.
“Josiah,” he quickly corrected. He tried to brush the woman’s hands away from his chest as she insisted on fingering the buttons of his shirt. She hardly had anything on.
“I’m Red Rose Barbie,” she licked her lips, “but you can call me…Red.” She twirled some of her blonde hair in her fingers, and then leaned her body into Josiah’s.
“Red,” she corrected, with an evil grin.
JD snickered into his hands as he watched these very ‘loose’ women ‘attack’ his friends.
“How about you, Cowboy,” a woman, wearing a wedding dress said, “you lookin’ for any action?” She placed her right hand on her hip and looked hard at the man in black.
“Had enough for the day,” Chris responded flatly.
The woman smiled: “Black looks good on you.” She brushed her hair away from her face. “You can call me, Babs.” She cocked her head, and unbuttoned the bustle that was attached to the back of her dress. “It just gets in the way…” she didn’t let him object when she wrapped her long arms around his neck. “You’re not scared…are you?” Her eyes danced in the light.
“No,” Chris responded flatly, terrified really, he thought to himself.
JD looked around, and noticed everyone was having a difficult time with their new…paramours, as Ezra had once put it.
“How old are you?” A woman asked, stepping up behind the kid, wearing a white jumpsuit with fringe on her legs and arms.
“Twenty,” JD responded confidently.
The woman smiled: “Old enough,” the woman said, grabbing his shirt and pulling him away from the others.
“Wait!” JD pleaded, but was ignored.
“I’ll fight you for him,” one Barbie said to the other.
Vin stood between the two women, feeling as though he was on display.
“We could,” the one wearing purple got an evil look in her eye, “you know.” She smiled raising her left eyebrow, and then chuckled.
The one in the short blue dress looked at Vin, and smiled. “After all, it has been years since we’ve actually done anything,” she licked her lips, “I say lets do it.”
“Do what?” Vin asked, looking between the two women. There really wasn’t a place for him to hide, if there were he’d be there now.
Both women turned and looked at him at the same time. “You ever done a threesome?” They both asked in unison.
“A what?” Vin, not all that naive, was looking extremely innocent. He didn’t have time to protest as they pulled him into the box without a door.
“I like your coat,” the woman wearing a headdress of feathers said, walking up to the gambler.
Ezra smiled: “You have impeccable taste.”
“I know,” she replied confidently. “I’m Las Vegas Show Girl Barbie. My friends call me Lassy.” She smiled and her white teeth sparkled.
“Ezra Standish,” he replied, taking the hand that was thrust his way. Her grip was strong for someone so thin.
Lassy stepped forward and ran her hand over the fine fabric of Ezra’s jacket. “Your so strong,” she coed into his ear. “Do you visit the gym often?”
“Gym?” Ezra questioned.
The woman smiled and brought her lips together and gently blew into his ear. “You ever play poker?” Her voice was soft and inviting.
“Some,” Ezra responded, now intrigued.
“Wanna play?” She untied the black string around his neck, not giving him a chance to object.
Chris sat on the wooden block across from three of his other men. Buck and Vin were still missing; there wasn’t any guessing as to where they were. The man in black was running out of tobacco, and at this moment in time he was willing to kill for a drink. The Barbie ‘ladies’ seemed content sitting across the small room. They’d found a pile of handkerchiefs and were trying to fashion some clothing. Five of the seven men were thankful for that particular idea. JD was still trying to make a table out of the items he’d found. For some reason the kid was finding it difficult to sit still, nobody was willing to ask why. Josiah, normally the one with the calming words of wisdom hadn’t said a word. Several buttons from his shirt were missing, and he refused to say how it happened. Nathan had forgotten all about his medical books, and he seemed to be suffering from the very thing he was trying to explain to everyone hours earlier. Shock. Ezra looked at his deck of cards as though they had betrayed him in some way. Over and over again he’d shuffle, and manipulate the deck, but they always came back the way he’d intended for them. Why hadn’t that worked earlier?
Chris looked up when he noticed Vin exit the box house slightly hunched over. “You all right?” He asked his friend.
“I ain’t never gonna walk again,” his voice was harsh and slightly annoyed. He maneuvered his way to the makeshift table and took a seat. “I’d be safer in Tascosa.” The statement caused Chris to smile. Vin probably would be safer there.
“Anyone seen Buck?” JD asked.
“Won’t see ‘im for a while,” Chris responded knowingly.
JD nodded in understanding, and then went work on the table. Everyone, except the Barbies, jumped under the bed when the bedroom door opened.
“Oh no!” Billy gasped, seeing his sister’s Barbies going through the small pieces of material. The dolls didn’t seem to care that he was there, almost as though they were used to it.
It didn’t take long for the boy to have all the, now protesting, Barbies and Ken back in the hutch. With one small movement he closed the lid and reopened it. They were back to the way they should have been. Plastic. He removed them, and piled them up beside the hutch.
“Are you guys okay,” Billy asked, falling to his knees beside the bed. He could tell, just by looking at them, that they weren’t. “Sorry I was gone so long, I had to go shopping with my mom because my grandparents are coming over.”
“You done, shopping?” Chris asked bitterly.
“Where’s Buck?” Billy asked in a state of panic.
“With a Barbie!” Vin snapped, shocking not only himself but everyone else as well.
“Boy’s!” Buck yelled, stepping out into view. “How you doin’ Billy?” He asked casually, sashaying across the floor.
Chris just shook his head, sometimes Buck really knew how to settle a situation.
“Where’s your girl?” JD asked, not surprised at all by his best friend’s antics.
Buck’s smile grew in size, stretching his cheeks almost beyond their capacity. “She’ll be along in a moment,” he responded happily.
Everyone’s attention turned to the woman who came out of her hiding place. She tried desperately to regain her composure, but was failing miserable. She didn’t even mind when Billy picked her up and placed her in the hutch after removing the other dolls. His sister was in a lot of trouble.
“I happen to be enjoyin’ ‘er company,” Buck stated with his hands on his hips.
“You guys are gonna get me in trouble,” Billy protested.
“Listen,” Chris moved past his men in a protective fashion. He wasn’t about to let his men get hurt. “We need to get back and we can’t be sittin’ here like toys for you to play with!” There wasn’t any doubt that he was angry. What was next? Giant pink bunnies that liked to eat human flesh.
“I’m real sorry,” Billy said, wanting to cry. These ‘real’ men were his heroes; he’d always looked up to them, watched their show every week, and even looked forward to the reruns. He didn’t want them to hate him.
“Lets not lose our composure over one little incident.” Ezra stepped forward. He wasn’t blind to the boy’s distress, and on more than one level.
“Little, incident!” Chris raged. Overly energetic, and considerably ‘loose’ women, who all shared the same name, had just molested his men.
“Mr. Jackson has yet to finish his research, and surely, Master Billy will see fit to insure that nothing further will happen to us until our return…lets say…tomorrow morning?” Ezra looked to the boy who nodded his head enthusiastically.
“Tomorrow?” Chris looked up at Billy.
“I’ll return you tomorrow morning,” he swore, holding up his hand in the ‘scouts honor’ position.
“How ‘bout somethin’ to eat?” Buck stepped forward.
“I’ll be right back,” Billy said, and then quickly disappeared out of his room.
“WATCH YOUR SISTERS!” Nathan, Vin, and Josiah yelled after the boy.
“What’s the matter boys,” Buck grinned, “couldn’t keep up with the ladies.” He ducked when lint balls were quickly thrown at him from all angles.
“What are you doing, Billy?” Mary asked, watching as her son made up a small plate of food.
Billy paused and looked at the food he’d been preparing. “I was making a plate of snacks…so’s I could play with my new toys and not have to come back down.” He looked up, hoping his excuse worked.
Mary smiled and ran her hand over her son’s head. “Just don’t make a mess.” She stared to leave the kitchen, but stopped suddenly. “Bring down your new doll and show your grandpa, he wants to see it.” She quickly disappeared from the room.
Billy’s shoulders slumped. Now what was he going to do? Shaking his head he finished placing the food on the dish. Everything from slices of cheese, and roast beef, to crackers and two Oreo cookies. He grabbed a glass of water and slowly headed up the stairs.
When Billy entered his room he found all seven of his heroes staring at the box they were supposed to use as a house. Obviously that wasn’t going to happen. Josiah looked from the box they were supposed to live in overnight, and to the other box that read ‘Lincoln Logs’ on the outside.
“Here,” Billy said, setting the plate and glass on the floor.
“We ain’t sleepin’ in that,” Vin spoke up, after finding a new confidence. After the day he’d had, he wasn’t about to be forced into anything.
“Okay,” Billy responded quickly, he wanted to make them as comfortable as possible. He turned his attention to the Lincoln Logs and then dumped them out. “We could make a cabin outta these.” He replied happily. “Oh,” he sighed, remembering what his mother had said.
Everyone looked at him in trepidation.
“My grandpa wants to see what Ezra looks like.”
Ezra’s eyes got large as he looked at the giant. “What?” His big words were gone.
“He wants to see you…he’s already seen the others.” He watched as everyone but Ezra relaxed. “If you hold real still, he won’t know nothin’.”
“Yeah, Ezra,” Chris butted in, “it’s just a little ‘incident’.”
“How ‘bout you help us build a cabin,” Josiah spoke up, “and we’ll help, Ezra here,” he grabbed the man in question around the shoulders, “hold real still.”
“Okay,” Billy quickly agreed, before Ezra could object.
While the others moved forward to help Billy, Ezra looked for an escape route, while trying not to be noticeable.
The cabin came together splendidly, with windows and everything. Nathan helped Josiah fold the washcloths Billy had gotten for them to use as beds and put them inside. Buck and JD stood back looking at the house that they’d built in less that an hour. Ezra, instead of hiding, was trying to come up with a business plan to make these pre-cut logs for homes. Vin wasn’t overly thrilled about staying in the place, but he didn’t exactly have the wilderness to choose from. Chris was still grumpy, and moving around the cabin smoking his cheroot…it was his last one. Everyone knew that when that subtle glow went out, Larabee was going to be on the warpath.
“I don’t know ‘bout ya’ll, but I’ve got to piss like a racehorse,” Buck stated, looking wildly around the room. He always seemed to wait until the last minute, a Buck Wilmington tradition; after all it had landed him in jail…more than once.
“He’s got a point,” Nathan said, stepping forward. Though nobody had much to drink that day, the body still needed to relieve itself.
Billy jumped up and rushed out of the room, only to return with one of his mother’s plants. He sat the Bonsai tree on the floor not far from the cabin. “There you go!” He said proudly.
Josiah chuckled: “Have at it, Brother.”
Buck threw the preacher an evil look and sighed. “What in the hell kinda tree is that?”
“It’s a Bonsai tree,” Billy responded happily.
“I think I’d rather use a bedpan,” Buck whispered.
“That can be arranged,” Ezra joked, shoving the ladies man on the shoulder.
“Beggars can’t be choosers,” Buck muttered, and then stepped up to the bush. His sigh of relief caused everyone to chuckle, and those whose bladders were filled to the capacity, stepped forward to use it.
Billy turned away to be polite, and then pushed the tree out of the way when they were finished. His mom wouldn’t mind…he didn’t think she would anyway.
“Billy!” His mother’s voice echoed throughout the room like the stale smell of old socks.
Billy sighed and rolled his eyes all at once. He knew what she wanted. He looked in Ezra’s direction and then at the others.
“Time to go, Brother,” Josiah said, clasping a large hand on the gambler’s shoulder.
Ezra tensed, and slowly took a step forward. He didn’t know how he was going to get out of this.
“Hold real still, Ez,” Buck teased, crossing his arms over his chest.
Ezra ignored Buck’s comment and straightened up his jacket and tapped his hat down further onto his head. He didn’t want to lose it before this ordeal was over.
Chris chuckled when Ezra situated himself on Billy’s hand, and then gave the rest of them a two-fingered salute. Everyone watched as the giant boy slowly stood up and headed out of the room. They didn’t see the fear on Ezra’s face, or the uncertainty in his heart. His poker face protected not just himself, but those around him as well.
Josiah watched them go, feeling in his heart a bit of sympathy. There wasn’t any denying that he was worried. This wasn’t their world, and they didn’t belong here. “…do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Buck, JD, and Vin all looked at the big man and sighed. They hadn’t understood a word of what he’d just said. Vin shook his head and headed toward the plate of food and the water glass. Chris and Josiah followed. Nathan scratched his head and slowly went back to his medical books. JD looked at the empty doorway for a little longer and then moved towards the others.
“So let’s see this new doll of yours,” Orin Travis said, while sitting next to his wife Evie.
Billy slowly walked closer to his grandpa. The boy had told Ezra the position to hold while his grandparents looked at him. Never in his life had the former riverboat gambler felt as though he was on display. Ezra was used to being the center of attention; he had been since he was a young boy being made to perform by his mother. But this was different.
Orin chuckled watching his grandson carry the doll as though it were alive. Obviously, the toy was a very special one. Steven had acted the same way with many of his GI Joes.
“My goodness, look how real he looks,” Evie gasped, carefully fingering the scarlet jacket. “It’s just amazing how far they’ve come in the last few years…why, I remember when our neighbor’s daughter…what was her name…”
“Jessica,” Orin answered before his wife could.
“Yes, that was it. Anyway, I remember when she got her first Barbie, and my goodness…she was the hit of the town. Back then though, they weren’t quite as glamorous.”
Mary chuckled, remembering her first doll.
Ezra tried to remain as still as possible, but he was finding it difficult as these ‘giants’ continued to finger his clothing. He was feeling rather violated at the moment, and he only hoped that this ‘scene’ would pass quickly.
“You’re gonna have to take care of those dolls, Billy,” Orin said. “One day they might be worth something.”
“I ain’t never gonna sell ‘em, Granddad.” Billy smiled and then started for the stairs. Ezra visibly sighed.
Carrie bounded down the stairs and noticed her brother had the new doll, the very doll she’d been looking for earlier. “Let me see him!” she gasped, heading for her brother like a freight train.
Billy spun around and turned his pleading eyes to his mother. Carrie grabbed her brother’s arm making him lose his hold on Ezra. Like a car accident happening in slow motion everyone watched the figure fall to the ground.
“Carrie!” Mary snapped. “Don’t grab your brother that way, and you ask him nicely if you want to see his toy.” Her voice was stern and her daughter looked at her knowing she was in trouble.
“Yes, Mother,” she responded, stepping back.
“You’re doll didn’t break did it, Billy?” Orin asked, noticing the despair written on the child’s face.
Billy shook his head, and then picking up the doll carefully in his hands he rushed for his room.
Steven stood up and looked hard at his eldest daughter. “Billy doesn’t treat you in that manner, and I expect you to treat him in the same way.” He watched as she nodded her head in understanding. “Go to your room.”
Carrie spun on her heels and rushed for her bedroom. At least she wouldn’t be alone, unless her parents decided to take Emma home.
Ezra knew he’d dislocated his shoulder when he hit the ground, or rather the floor. At least he landed on his side and not his head. Every breath he took seemed to send spears of pain through his arm and chest. He knew Billy was worried as his tears hit Ezra’s jacket. He tried to keep a placid face, but every once in a while a movement or jarring would cause him to grimace.
“I’m so sorry, Ezra.” Billy cried, trying carefully to not make any sudden movements. He knew the man was in pain. He hadn’t moved and his left hand was turning white from holding onto his right arm so tightly.
Billy shut his bedroom door with his foot and then rushed towards the cabin. Only Josiah and Chris were outside, obviously talking, but the look on Billy’s face caused them to jump from their positions.
“What happened?” Chris demanded, watching as Billy lowered the seventh man to the floor.
Ezra maneuvered himself out of Billy’s hands and with Josiah’s help made his way towards one of the logs they’d been using to sit on.
“He fell,” was all Billy could say between chokes of tears. He didn’t mean for it to happen.
“NATHAN!” Chris yelled, never taking his eyes off the boy.
Everyone rushed from the cabin. Buck and JD had obviously been asleep, and Vin and Nathan had been talking, trying to sort things out. The healer rushed to where Josiah was trying to help Ezra out of his wet jacket.
A soft knock at the door caused everyone to jump and Ezra to gasp in pain. Billy turned and watched as his dad peaked in.
“Is everything all right?” Steven asked softly.
Billy reluctantly nodded. He was learning a very big lesson.
“Yes,” Billy said, wiping his tears from his face.
“Carrie didn’t mean it,” he defended his daughter.
“If he’s broke too bad I can order you another one, otherwise you can have one of my handkerchiefs for makeshift bandages and I can help you superglue anything that’s broke off.”
“It ain’t that bad,” Billy responded with a smile.
Steven pointed to all the Barbie dolls on the floor next to his son’s hutch. “You trying to match up the ‘boys’ with a Barbie?” There was some teasing in his voice.
Billy turned to look at the seven men who were hiding on the other side of his bed. They were all shaking their heads franticly. “No,” Billy replied.
Steven nodded: “Don’t stay up too late,” he ordered before closing the door.
Billy turned his attention to the seven men who sighed in relief when the door closed. Nathan went to work on Ezra’s shoulder, quickly and proficiently the arm was replaced back into its socket with little protest from the victim. The gambler hissed when he felt bone slide against bone, and then sighed when the tension was relived.
“I should wrap that for you,” Nathan said, tapping his patient’s arm. “That book I’ve been readin’ says it might separate again if’n I don’t.”
Ezra nodded, still unable to speak.
Chris patted his pockets, looking desperately for another smoke. He was not a happy man. One of his men was hurt, and the others were obviously disjointed. They needed to get home.
Ezra stood up slowly, holding his right arm. The pain was still there, and from experience, he knew it would be for some time. He didn’t say anything as he headed into the cabin, looking for a place to lie down. The day had been a tough one, and not just for him. Josiah followed him, slightly worried. Vin stood beside Chris, ready to support him if he needed it. JD and Buck watched; also ready to defend their leader. Nathan nodded in Chris’ direction, letting him know that their gambler was going to be fine.
“Tomorrow morning,” Chris said, looking up in Billy’s direction. “We leave, and you…don’t…bring us back.” His words were taken seriously, and everyone could tell by the child’s expression.
“Yes, sir,” Billy replied.
“Now, Billy,” Buck stepped forward, wanting to put a stop to the boy’s discomfort. “What’da got for some entertainment?”
Billy smiled: “I can go get my dad’s little TV?”
Buck sent him a questioning look, not understanding what TV meant. “Sounds like a plan,” he replied, “as long as we don’t have to leave the room.”
“Okay.” Billy rushed for his dad’s office.
“Don’t encourage ‘im, Buck,” Chris warned.
“He didn’t mean for none of this to happen, and I ain’t goin’ to be the one he ends up hatin’ cuz we weren’t understandin’ with ‘im.”
JD looked up as Billy came back into the room and shut the door behind him. He carried in his hands a small black box with a long cord attached to it. He set it up on the floor and attached the cord to the wall and flipped a switch. Little people, even ones smaller than the seven, danced around on the screen. Nathan walked behind the object trying to figure out where the people were, but he couldn’t find any. Buck touched the screen and found it cold and slick like glass. They all tried to listen to what Billy was telling them, but for some reason they couldn’t concentrate. The images looked like people trapped inside the box.
Morning had arrived too soon for Billy’s liking. As bad as the night had started it ended rather splendidly. After, of course he spent most of his time explaining how a TV worked, and more importantly, that the people they were seeing on the screen weren’t being held captive. They had spent the night watching the late night movie, To Kill a Mockingbird. Though the movie was very impacting, it was the conversation between Nathan, Josiah, and Vin afterwards that really captured his attention. Hearing their perspectives really opened his eyes to a few things.
Chris drank the coffee Billy had managed to procure while watching the sunrise. Vin sat next to him, drinking his own. Everyone was up, even Ezra who was complaining about the ‘ungodly hour’. Obviously he was feeling better.
“What are you going to do when you get back?” Billy asked, preparing his hutch.
“Have a drink,” Chris responded, rather flatly.
“Sleep,” Buck answered, “with a beautiful woman.”
Billy covered his mouth and laughed.
JD slapped the ladies man in the shoulder: “He’s just a kid, Buck.”
“Look who’s talkin’.”
“Well, Master Billy, while this has been an experience,” Ezra looked around the room, “I have a poker game to get back to.”
“And I’ve got patients to see to.” Nathan stepped forward.
Billy nodded: “Thanks…for…you know.” He shrugged his shoulders.
“Keep your head above water, son,” Josiah said, clasping his hand on Vin’s shoulder.
Billy carefully placed the seven men back into the hutch. Each one stood in their designated spot. It was hard for the boy to say goodbye, but he’d have them with him always. Just like his dad had his GI Joes. Maybe he’d let Billy store his Magnificent Seven with them in the glass hutch downstairs. The idea brought a smile to his face, and in a way it relieved him knowing his sisters wouldn’t be able to play with them. His dad kept the case locked.
“I’ll see you guys next week,” Billy said with a smile.
The seven men looked at the boy with disbelieving looks on their faces. And then the lid closed.