Magnificent Seven Old West
Red, White and Blue

by Deirdre

Disclaimer: The following is a work of fanfiction based on the CBS television series, The Magnificent Seven. It is in no way intended to infringe on the copyrights of CBS, MGM, The Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp., or anyone else who may have legal rights to the characters, settings or song references. I don't own the characters. This story is strictly for entertainment. No monetary gain will be made from anything contained in this story.

This story was formerly hosted at another website, and was moved to blackraptor in May 2016.

The sun rose over a new day, but not just any day. It was the fourth of July, a time to celebrate the birth of the new country. It was also payback time for Vin Tanner. He eased his handsome face into a smile, as the plan played itself in his mind. He watched the golden rays of sun illuminate the town below. It was still and quiet, his favorite time of the day. Sighing, he slipped over the edge of the roof and eased along the catwalk. Once he gained the entry he sought, he pulled the window open and crept inside.

New Orleans is a city like none other. The flavor, scents and sounds of the Crescent city colored the sleeper's dreams. He heards the distinctive sounds of the city, smelled the aroma of the rich, spicy food and saw the exotic beauty of the French Quarter from the window of his hotel. He never got tired of seeing New Orleans. The riverboats were full of gamblers, good whiskey and endless riches. A hand stroked the side of his face and he recalled the creole beauty who shared his night. A long parade of silky dark hair, creamy skin the color of cafe au lait and jade eyes...the long legs...supple flesh...

"Vous bewitching mon amour..."

"s'that mean yer glad t'see me?"

"What?" Ezra blinked and rolled, throwing the buckskinned arm from his shoulder. "Good Lord, your image is enough to rouse the dead from their eternal rest."

"She musta been somethin'...ya were droolin'..."

"I most certainly was not," the southerner denied, unconsiously wiping his mouth.

"The hell ya weren't...ya left a nice puddle on the pilla..." Vin grinned, watching Ezra blush. "So ya ready?"

"You don't actually think I have any notion to go through with your ridiculous plan."

"Payback time..." Vin crowed, hooking his thumbs in his belt and rocking on his heels.

Ezra groaned at the arrogant stance and the satisfied smile. "You look like a sated cat who had consumed a canary. The day is not over yet and you've won nothing."

"No, but I will..." Vin noted of the bet they made.

Ezra and Vin were riding to Julestown a week before and the gambler was telling him of some of the many disguises he used to escape the poor sports he played cards with and the law. That night, Ezra lost to Vin playing cards. The sharpshooter denied the money, rather he got Ezra to agree to a 'double or nuthin'. If Ezra could stay in disguise one day, the fourth of July, until midnight, without being discovered, he could keep his cash. But if as much as one person recognized him, Vin got twice as much.

"Very well," Ezra nodded, pouring water from the pitcher into a basin. "Hand me the soap, please..."

Vin followed the direction of Ezra's hand and walked over to a small wooden box on the chest of drawers. He opened the lid and peered inside at the pastel colored roses.

"They ain't no soap in here, jus' a bunch o'flowers..."

"Just hand me one," Ezra droned, "Just because you have chosen to reek of the saddle..."

"Which color ya want?" Vin lifted a tiny yellow one and sniffed, "Hey these smell real purty. 's'that what keeps yer skin soft like a ladies?"

"A gentlemen keeps his person well groomed at all times," Ezra scowled, crossing the room and plucking a blue one from the box. "Isn't there a manure pile somewhere you can roll in?"

"Alright, I'm goin'..." Vin headed back to the window. "Ya remember the rules?"

"I must encounter each of our comrades, Mrs. Travis and the judge at least once, obtaining a mememto as a kind of justification, before you discover me," Ezra noted, then watching Vin's smug face, he got an idea.

"Care to raise the stakes?"

"I'm listenin'..." Vin frowned, not liking Ezra getting the upper hand.

"I retain my cash and you take my patrols for two weeks."

"What's in it fer me?"

"An addtional third of the you'd be nearly tripling your money."

"...go on..."

"That you'll be unable to discover me at all."

"Yer good, Ez, but ya ain't that good. I'll pick ya right out..." Vin straddled the window.

"God gave us carpenters to make doors for a reason..." Ezra said through the lather on his face. Vin just grinned and hoisted his butt on the window.

"Don't go losin' yer money...our money..." Vin warned, "They's a lotta folks in town with fat purses...eager fer a game."

"Rest assured, your dividends will remain intact," Ezra sent back watching the nimble man resume his journey.

+ + + + + + +

The street had been blocked off at either end, creating a homey, festive atmosphere. Several of the proprietors had their wares displayed on the sidewalk. Large tables graced either end of the street, preparing for the many contests. Each of the town's people were contributing food to the party, dropping off their home made creations at hotel lobby. The children were racing up and down the street, exicited about the fireworks planned that evening.

The town was more crowded that normal, with friends and relatives over for the holiday. Buck made his way down the boardwalk, slightly annoyed at the thick throng of people. They lingered over the booths displaying jewlery, dry goods, baked good, candy, leather and other products. He stopped to eye the razors in front of Potter's store. He needed a new one anyhow.

"Hey Buck," J.D. enthused, squeezing past two woman to get to his friend. "Man is it crowded. I've never seen so many folks in town before."

"Makes me look forward to tomorrow when things get back to normal." the mustached man advised. "I'll take this one, Gloria," he handed a nickel to the owner.

"Thanks Buck," she nodded, "Don't forget, you're judging the baking contest.

"Oh, no Ma'am...I've been looking forward to that." Buck noted, tipping his hat.

"Wow, would you look at her!" J.D.'s eyes were riveted to a tall woman in a form fitting blue dress with tiny red flowers on it and white lace.

"Now that's what I call Lady Liberty," Buck chuckled, eyeing the flame colored hair. "Damn that's a real woman.""

"So I guess this means you're gonna make a fool of yourself?"

"Step aside son and watch a genius at work," Buck professed, striding over to the full-figured female. But before he'd gotten close, the throng of people spilled from the hotel, and he lost sight of her. "Damn..." he shrugged, heading back to J.D.

+ + + + + + +

Josiah was putting the finishing touches on the fishing booth. It was Vin's idea and he'd helped the preacher with the setup. There was a large container of water unseen on the other side. Each child lowered a fishing net and scooped a little wooden fish from the pond. Each little fish had a number, which corresponded with the appropriate prize. He thwacked his thumb and cursed, dropping the hammer.

"Are you injured?"

"No, just my pride," Josiah squinted up at the strange woman. He couldn't help notice her full figure in the dress. He always did appreciate a full-figured woman. She handed him the hammer and he nodded. "Thanks, Miss..."

"My given name is Elizabeth, but you may call me Betsy."

"Betsy, then. I'm Josiah Sanchez, you here for the fourth?"

"Yes, I happened to be on the stage yesterday and the party was being discussed, so I decided to stay."

"Maybe I'll see you later then."

"I'll look forward to it, Josiah," the pretender demurred, slipping the kerchief Sanchez tossed aside into her purse. "One down, seven to go." Ezra said under his breath, heading for the Clarion.

+ + + + + + +

"Good Morning," Mary looked up as a women in a dark blue dress with tiny red flowers appeared in the doorway. She had bright red hair tucked under a bonnet.

"Good Morning, I was wondering if I could purchase a copy of yesterday's paper. The list of the events of this day are in there."

"Certainly, Miss..." Mary handed her a paper.

"Ross...Thank you. Surely you're not the owner?"

"Yes, I'm Mary Travis."

"Would you mind sighing this and dating it? I've never met a woman in such an endeavor."

"Sure," Mary signed the paper, endorsing it to "Miss Ross".

"Thank you, perhaps I'll see you later in town."

"Perhaps," Mary said, getting back to printing up the tickets for the basket of goods. Gloria got the idea and donated some surplus wares. Mary did the basket and the money raised would go towards the school fund.

"Like taking candy from a baby," Ezra chortled, admiring his figure in the window pane of the bath. There was a side of him his friends didn't know about. A master of disguise, with the gift of slim hips. He'd used this disguise before, always to his advantage. Besides the wig, dress, and enhancers tucked into the form-fitting bodice, he used putty to reshape his nose and the makeup, on face and eyes, as well as lip paint, creating a new persona. Even the small birthmark on his cheek was dazzling. He'd covered over his gold tooth and smiled as he strode along.

+ + + + + + +

It was just after one p.m. and he was getting hungry. He spotted Judge Travis sitting with Nathan and decided to kill two birds with one stone. He sauntering over to the boardwalk and swayed a bit.

"You alright, Ma'am?"

"I think so, it must be too much sun...I'm afraid I skipped breakfast."

"That ain't good," Nathan replied, taking the her elbow and helping he sit down.

"I'll get you some lemonade," The Judge offered, quickly going into the saloon.

"I'll get ya a plate, just set there and rest," Nathan advised.

"Thank you," Ezra lowered his voice as the judge sat down. He sipped the lemonade carefully, hoping he wouldn't sweat. The judge always made him nervous.

"Is something wrong," Orin Travis inquired, "You're trembling."

"Oh, I don't want to be a bother," Ezra scrambled, "I have a lot on my mind. Legal issues..."

"Really," Orin nodded, "I'm Judge Travis, maybe I can help?"

"I'm Miss Ross, and I don't want to intrude." Ezra moved again so as not to be so close. "I'm only passing through town."

"I'm not a resident here, I'm visiting my daughter-in-law and grandson. I'm a circuit judge and I travel a lot."

"'s a rather sticky situation involving land my dear, departed uncle left me. There is a claim against the estate. I'm traveling there now, but have no legal representative."

"I'll tell you what," Orin took out a small piece of paper and wrote his name and a schedule. "This is my schedule for this month. Maybe I could look over your paperwork."

"Thank you, Judge Travis, that's very kind." Ezra took the paper as Nathan returned.

"Well, if you'll excuse me, my grandson has entered us in the three- legged race." Judge Travis rose. "It was nice to meet you Miss Ross."

"Likewise," Ezra replied, sighing in relief. "You're much too kind, Mister..."

"Ain't no Mister, I'm Nathan Jackon, I'm the healer here in town."

"A doctor? I've never met a physician of color before."

"I ain't no doctor, just picked up a few things during the war workin' with one."

Ezra nodded and stared at the plate without touching the food.

"Something wrong?" Nate asked.

"Perhaps not...I have a rather delicate constitution. My stomach is a little queasy."

"I have some herbal tea at the clinic..."

"I don't want to bother you, after all you're here to enjoy the holiday activities."

"It won't take but a minute. Come on..."

Fifteen minutes later, Ezra left Nathan's with a written set of instructions, dated of course, to combat further effects of stomach malady. J.D., Chris, Vin and Buck were the remaining pawns on the list. J.D. and Buck would be easy, Vin wouldn't be too hard. Chris...he frowned and pushed that image away. So lost in thought, he walked right into Vin Tanner, who was rushing up the street.

Vin had been hunting for Ezra all day. He'd been in every building, combed the crowded streets and even climbed on the roof for a good look over town. But the conman had disappeared. If his horse wasn't still in the livery, the tracker would have thought he'd deserted town. Twice he thought he had him, but both turned up to be legitimate visitors. He was in the saloon when a well dressed man speaking with a heavy southern accent passed by. Vin's head jerked up in time to see the red coat and walking cane.

"Shit..." he flew from the table.

"Vin? What's the matter?" J.D. rose from his own chair and ran after the sharpshooter.

He didn't get far. He ran into a body passing by and landed on his butt on the sidewalk.

Ezra froze, his face stunned when he Vin looked up at him. Then the total lack of reconigition settled in and he moved back a few inches.

"I'm so very sorry, I didn't see you coming." Ezra used a northern accent, which bespoke a New England background.

"'s'okay Ma'am...I wasn't lookin' where's I goin'...y'alright?" Vin asked, picking himself up.

"Never better, Mister?"

"Vin Tanner," he offered his hand to the colorful woman and she shook it. "Ya sure yer okay? Yer shakin' a little and yer sweatin'..."

"Yes," Ezra rummaged through his purse, "It seems I've lost my handkerchief..."

"Here ya go, Ma'am..." Vin took off his red kerchief and handed it to her.

"I couldn't..."

"Go on...I got a passel of 'em..."

"Thank you," Ezra nodded, as J.D. approached. "Good Afternoon,"

J.D. remained mute and Vin rolled his eyes and elbowed the youth. "J.D. yer starin'...and leavin' a drool puddle."

"Huh...oh, I'm sorry...Do I know you?"

"I don't think so," Ezra paused, worried, J.D., he'd expected to be the easiest to fool.

"Well, I gotta go, Ma'am." Vin tipped his hat.

"It's Miss Ross and thank you." Ezra offered, watching Vin scoot after an unsuspecting visitor.

"You look familiar," J.D. shook his head, "Maybe it's your accent...I'm from Boston."

"I'm from Marblehead," Ezra noted of the town north of Boston. "Small world..."

"Really?" J.D. enthused, "I don't get to see many folks from back home. I'd love to hear any news...but I got a prisoner to check on."

"Perhaps I could accompany you." Ezra said, tucking Vin's kerchief in her large purse.

"I don't know, a jail isn't a place a lady like you should be going to."

"Ever the gentlemen, you're mother would be proud."

"She died last year, she worked for the mayor in his house..." J.D.'s voice faded away as Ezra followed him to the saloon. Twenty minutes later, he exited, with an autograph from Sheriff J.D. Dunne on a wanted poster of a crimal J.D. and Buck captured a few days before.

+ + + + + + +

Buck was exiting the saloon when he saw Lady Liberty leaving the sheriff's office. He moved through the crowd and quickly caught up to her. Grabbing her elbow, he leaned in close, inhaling the delicate scent of lavender.

"I must have died and went to heaven," Buck oozed. "Buck Wilmington, at your service."

Ezra nearly jumped out of his skin when Buck's voice entered his ear. The hot breath was close to his neck...too close. He turned and smacked Buck.

"Really, I don't know what kind of town this is, but where I come from, a gentlemen doesn't manhandle a lady in public."

"You're right, I'm awful sorry, it's just that I was overcome when I saw you."

Ezra almost choked and decided to string Buck out. He waited and walked, letting the rogue utter his best used lines. How often had Ezra seen him work his magic in the saloon. He nodded and commented at the right times.

"Look, Miss..."

"Ross," Ezra noted.

"Yeah, well, let me make it up to you later tonight?" Buck paused, "You inspired me to write a poem."

"A poem?" Ezra sputtered, watching Buck's hand disappear into his pocket.

"Earlier, I saw you across the street."

"May I?" Ezra grabbed the note, scanned it nearly choking on the sickening refrain and then eyed the signature.

"You didn't like it?" Buck perplexed.

Ezra was about to respond, when he saw Vin a few feet away. An idea was born and he smiled.

"Perhaps you can read it to me in private? I'm at the hotel in room three," Ezra replied of the room he'd obtained. "Eight o'clock?"

"I'll be counting the minutes," Buck replied, kissing the soft hand.

Ezra almost choked and watched Buck move back toward the saloon. Vin's back was too him, the tracker was staring hard up and down the street. Ezra moved in and hidden from view, pinched the buckskinned tracker's backside.

"Hey," Vin yelped turning to see the red-head who winked at him and licked her lips. "Aw, hell..."

"Mister Tanner, may I have a word with you in private?" Ezra said in a low voice, enjoying every minute of Vin's discomfort. He managed to corner the squirming man against the hitching post and rubbed a hand on the tense right arm.

"You're so strong...and lean..." Ezra rested the other hand on Vin's left hip and pressed against it. "I bet you know how to make a lady feel safe in these strong arms." Ezra pressed closer and Vin scooted.

"Look Lady, iffen ya don't quit pawin' me I'm likely t'do somethin' yer gonna regret."

Ezra bit back a smile at the flush-face tracker, who was trying desperately to get away.

While Vin was tangling with Lady Liberty, his actions weren't going unnoticed.

"Hey Buck, look at that. Miss Ross has her eye on Vin."

"Looks like she's got more than her eye on him," Buck grinned, watching Vin jump.

Finally Vin was able to free himself and made a beeline for the saloon. Chris Larabee was also a witness. He was sipping a whiskey when his best friend blew in, red-faced and spitting nails.

"Can't breathe...too many Goddamn outsiders wanderin' loose..."

"Problem Vin?" Chris kept his face somber.

"Hey Vin, that gal's got her eye on you." Buck elbowed him. "She must like little scrappy fellas..."

"She gots three hands...pinchin' and pawnin' me like I was a piece o'meat..."

His friends continued to razz him about his encounter. Buck left to judge the pie eating contest at five p.m., and talked Vin into going with him. It wasn't hard, Vin loved to eat and pies were his favorite.

Meanwhile, Ezra was trying to figure out how to snare Chris Larabee. He was strolling on the sidewalk, when he saw the familiar cheroot. Chris was standing with Vin and Buck near the devoured pie area. Ezra moved closer, just near enough to get Vin's attention. He winked seductively and ran a tongue across his lips. Vin's face lost all color and he scrambled.

"Shit...ya ain't seen me..."

"Vin, you might as well just accept your fate. She's gonna get her claws in you." Buck chortled, watching Vin disappear.

"Evenin' Miss Ross." Buck nodded, "Don't go wearin' yourself out runnin' after him. You shouldn't hire a boy to do a man's work."

"I'll keep that in mind, if I should ever encounter one."

Buck laughed and left to find J.D. Chris kept his frame leaning against a hitching post.

"May I?" Ezra asked, nodding to the cheroot.

"Vin got your bloomers in a bunch, Ezra?" Chris tossed back, watching the astonishment on the other's face.

"How...that is...were you able to discern my identity."

"Never mind that," Chris squinted into the setting sun, "The question is, How much will you give me to keep your secret?"

"You'd resort to blackmail?"

"You bet your sweet ass," Chris nodded, raking his eyes over the costume.

"Must you undress me in public? Ezra seethed.

"I think half is fair." Chris decided, pushing himself forward. "Vin?" He guessed, adding up the mental clues. Vin had been distracted all day, running around town. Ezra left word that he was ill and staying in his room.

"A wager..." Ezra admitted, "I'll need a cheroot." He asked, knowing that Larabee was the only one in town that smoked them.

Chris handed over the cheroot and strode away.

+ + + + + + +

By the time the fireworks were about to start, Vin wasn't feeling so good. He couldn't find Nathan so he decided to head to the hotel. He'd seen the healer headed that way with Rain to get some supper. He was just approaching the lobby, when an arm snagged his, propelling up the stairs.

"Look Lady, I warned ya once. Ya don't let go o'me and ye'll be sorry."

Ezra remained silent, eyeing the approaching hour of eight p.m. "I'm in need of a favor..."

"In yer room?" Vin blanched, as the strong woman forced him inside.

"Buck, who you all slickered up for?" Josiah asked, watching Buck preen in the mirror in the lobby of the hotel.

"Me and Miss Liberty got important things to discuss."

"Miss Liberty?" Josiah frowned.

"Ross..." J.D. corrected. "She's dressed in red, white and blue."

"Oh her...fine figure of a woman," Josiah agreed. They watched Buck disappear up the stairs that with an evil exchange, they followed him.

Ezra propelled Vin into the room and turned the lamp on. He'd seen Buck moving from the corner of her eye downstairs and decided to give him a show. Turning the lamp up, Ezra noticed the raspy breathing wasn't normal. Looking closer, he spotted bright red blotches covering Vin's face and the part of Vin's chest showing above his shirt.

"Are you ill?"

"Huh...oh, it's from strawberries...happens everytime I eat 'em. Tried t'stay clear. Ate somethin' called Firecracker pie...they was hidin' inside...damn this itches..." he shucked his coat off and began scratching.

"You give a whole new meaning to the term red, white and blue." Ezra noted the pale skin, scored with bright red marks and the bright blue shirt.

"Look iffen it's all the same t'ya...I'd like t'leave... I ain't feelin' s'good..."

Buck paused outside the door and was about to knock, when he heard the object of his desire speaking.

"Take off your clothes and get in that bed." Ezra demanded.

"Get yer hands offa me!" Vin sqeaked.

"Damn!" Buck whispered, waving to J.D. and Josiah. The three leaned closer, listening intently.

"I have means to relieve that kind of discomfort." Ezra insisted, "Now strip and roll over."

"She ain't the shy flower you thought she was, Buck," Josiah chuckled, envisioning Vin squirming.

Vin watched her cross the room and pull a large ceramic jar from her bag. "What's that stuff?"

"It's an old family remedy." Ezra moved closer, "It's guarenteed to work. Here let me demonstrate." Ezra rubbed some of the herbal cream onto Vin's discolored neck.

"Damn yer hands is cold..." Vin shivered and hesitated, the spot where the cream was absorbed wasn't itching anymore. His whole body was itching something fierce and he desperately needed relief. "Jus' gimme a minute...I ain't used t'bein' rubbed like that."

"Shit!" J.D. whispered, giggled and elbowing the chuckling Buck.

"It's working..." Ezra noted. "Now remove your clothes and let's get this over with."

"Jesus, that's romantic." Buck winced.

Vin took his shirt off and sat back further on the bed. The ointment was soothing to his burning, itching skin. He couldn't stop the moans of pleasure that slipped from his mouth as the soft hands massaged him.

"Damn that feels good..." Vin moaned, as the cooling cream extinguished the flames. "Ya got great hands."

The trio in the hall exchanged an amused look and chuckled.

Vin stood up so she could rub the cream on the lower part of his back. The hand dipped below the waistline, causing him to yelp.

"Get yer hands outta m'ass..."

"Hey, she's a tiger..." Buck smiled. "That boy don't know a good thing when it hits him square in the chest."

"Don't issue idle threats." Ezra tugged on the tracker's pants.

"Get away from there..." Vin yelped, grabbing his sagging drawers. "I can take care o'that...I can rub m'self real good."

"Goddammit Vin!" Buck hissed, "I gotta talk to that boy..."

"Would you be more comfortable, Mr. Tanner, if I got Nathan?" Ezra whispered, for Vin's ears only.

Vin's mouth dropped at the sound of the familiar Standish drawl. He was about to launch a verbal assualt on the sly southerner, but Ezra put his fingers to his lips and pointed to the door. He whispered Buck's name and where Buck was J.D. usually followed. Vin moved his head and saw the shadows outside. He smiled and nodded, agreeing to play along.

"I'm sure you're quite handy," Ezra nodded, "but I can provide comfort and pleasure in ways you've never imagined."

Vin grinned and slid his pants down, rubbing the cream over the blotches, while Ezra took his costume off.

"What are ya aimin' t'do with that thing?" Vin asked breathlessly. "I ain't never seen the likes of it."

"Just lie back and relax." Ezra charmed, Vin bit his lip and held his laughter in check.

"That damn scruffy tracker must sleep in shit," Buck said of his friends good fortune.

Ezra washed his face and removed all the outward signs of Miss Elizabeth Ross. Vin was now covered in the cream and lying on the bed. His breathing was labored and Ezra decided to end the charade and get Nathan to help his friend.

"Would you listen to how heavy he's breathing?" J.D. amazed.

"God ya got magic teeth..." Vin moaned..."I'm gonna be marked good...go lower...ahhhh...."

"That's quite a firecracker you have Vin," Ezra coughed, trying hard not to laugh. "I don't believe I've ever seen one so large."

"Vin?" Buck face screwed up, "That can't be possible."

"Ya talk t'much, Lady," Vin gasped, truly needing Nathan's herbal remedy. "Now roll over and shut up afore it explodes..."

"Somebody's coming!" J.D. whispered, eyeing the approaching visitors.

"Damn, just when it was getting good," Buck complained, "We'll have to stop back later."

Now rid of his garb and fully clothed as Ezra, the southerner deposited his souvenirs on the bed.

"I'll expect you to hold up your end of the bargain. Therefore, I shall leave post haste and retrieve Mr. Jackson. My shift was to start early tomorrow morning."

"Yer all heart," Vin wheezed, "Open the winda...Ez..."

Ezra saw Vin was truly struggling now and moved quickly, thowing both windows open. Vin was right behind him, sitting near the window and gulping air.

"I'm alright..." Vin dismissed the concerned face. "Jus' get Nate...he's got tea...helps..."

Ezra departed and found Nathan in the dining room, sitting with Rain, Chris and Mary. He didn't waste anytime getting to Nate's side.

"Ezra, where you been?" Nate startled.

"I was indisposed all day, however, it's Mr. Tanner who needs your skilled hand."

"What's wrong with Vin?" Nate asked.

"He's covered in red splotches and wheezing..."

"Strawberries!" Chris groaned, "When the hell is he gonna learn?"

"He said they snuck up on him." Ezra defended ."I don't believe anyone would do such a thing to themselves on purpose."

"It's okay, Ezra, I got some tea that usually helps him."

Vin made his way back to the bed and used the remaining cream to cover the rest of the spots. He was dozing on the bed, when a hand touched his shoulder.

"You sound like a steam engine..." Nate handed Vin a large mug of tea. "You drink it all down, now. How bad's the blotches?"

"...took care of 'em...Ez had some cream...took the itch right off..."

Ezra waited in the doorway, watching Nate at Vin's bedside. It didn't take long until the consumed tea worked it's magic. Nate took the empty mug and pulled a sheet up to Vin's waist. The two left their comrade to his rest and went to watch the fireworks outside town.

+ + + + + + +

A few hours later the trio appeared in the hallway.

"It's awful quiet, Buck, I don't think this is a good idea." J.D. pulled up at the door.

"Sure it is..." Buck held a bucket of water and Josiah opened the door. The three froze as the light from the hall illuminated Vin's pale torso. His arms were splayed at each side and his mouth hung open slightly.

"God Buck, I think she killed him..." J.D. pronounced, wide-eyed.

"Damn..." Buck whistled, eyeing the body. He moved closer and tapped Vin's face. "Vin...Vin..."

"I think we best be moving on brothers..." Josiah decided, pulling the two back into the hallway.

"What did she do to him?" J.D. wondered. "Where'd she go anyhow?"

"I guess we'll never know," Josiah declared, shutting the door.


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