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Mag7 Bingo Challenge 2017

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Ezra smiled as he looked down from the bluff, saluting the others. He still didn't know what had possessed him to turn back and save the others when he could have carried on riding towards his next destination and a new mark. He was a conman, a gambler, spinning lies in to a spider's web of deceit. These men were nothing to him and he'd never before had the urge to stop and look back at the shadows racing up behind him. He'd always had his focus on the horizon ahead, his eyes raised to the sky, looking for that moment when he would fly so high and have all he dreamed; riches beyond his wildest imaginings.

Except Ezra had a very vivid imagination.

The children had told him about the gold mine but it was a bust - played out decades before - and the tiny amount left would be expensive to mine and wouldn't cover the cost of the bullets he'd use protecting these people and defending the mine. Yet after only a moment's hesitation he had turned back upon hearing the gunshots and cannon fire, possibly towards his own death.

Later, once the bullets had stopped flying and the enemy was beaten, Ezra had looked at the ragtag group of men.

Each of them was so different from the others he could see no reason why they would want to stick together, but he imagined he could feel some cosmic force connecting them, like seven parts making up a whole. At least that was the lie he told himself as they rode back towards the small frontier town where they'd all come together. Later still, after he retired to a plain but comfortable room above the saloon, he lay down on his bed and let the lies drop away.

His thoughts turned to the mysterious, dark-clad Chris Larabee, recalling the way the light glinted off sun-kissed hair. He focused on the green eyes, running hot and cold, giving glimpses of a tragic past and intriguing future. Larabee wasn't a gambler at the tables but he played the odds daily, fingers as agile with a gun as Ezra's were with a pack of cards. Ezra had seen that spark of interest in his eyes though, one Ezra had read on other men's faces in the past, as if their kind could read each other and see beneath the masculine layers to a kind of want that most considered an abomination.

Ezra smiled up at the yellowing, cracked ceiling, letting the truth have its say. Chris Larabee intrigued him. Perhaps, at any other time or place, Ezra would have ridden away as fast as his horse could carry him as nothing but trouble had ever come from such desires, but here and now he knew he wanted to take a gamble.

The world was full of lies, and he loved weaving the webs almost as much as he enjoyed picking apart the lies to reveal the gold nuggets of truth, and Chris Larabee was a perfect challenge for both.

END
 

Chapter Text

The money called to him, like embers smoldering in his thoughts, slowly building heat and catching fire. Ten thousand dollars. Passion, greed, avarice, insanity. Call it by whatever name, he thought he had put that monster to sleep after he confronted his mother and basically told her he would rather be poor and with these six men than sitting high and rich on some gambling boat on the Mississippi, all alone. They'd given him the stability he'd never had growing up; a sense of belonging, of family. They used his talents for good rather than to con honest people out of their hard earned money.

Not that he was averse to taking money off a man stupid enough to gamble away his trail pay - as long as the only one losing was the man in question and not a wife and children living in fear and poverty. There was no victim here. No starving child or impoverished wife.

Ten thousand dollars could buy him an expensive suite on a paddle steamer and a seat at any game on-board. He could turn ten thousand dollars into twenty thousand, or into fifty thousand. He could become rich beyond his wildest imaginings, fulfilling every dream and ambition since his very first con.

They all had their daemons riding them, and Ezra could see his own daemon staring back at him in the mirror, pulling him closer to the edge, inflaming his mind with possibilities. His stared hard at himself, the heat coiling in his belly out of want and desire, daring him to reach for the fire and burn with new ambition. He let it whisper its poison into his brain until he could no longer see or think of anything but the money, until he lost his mind and stuffed every pack into his shirt, mind fixed on reaching his horse, of riding into a new life of wealth.

Halfway across the packed street a man brushed into him and Ezra caught a reflection off a glass eye. He thought of Chris and the others in danger, of losing the only people who had ever truly given a damn whether he lived or died, and the fire raging inside him died as if hit by iced water, sending the monster back to sleep as he turned back to help his friends.

END
 

Chapter Text

Five drabbles that complete the top line of my Mag7Bingo card:

Title: Lies and Half Truths
Characters: Josiah
Notes: Prompt: Josiah: Lies

There are lies and there are half-truths. As a preacher Josiah has heard them all but as he hears each confession he knows he must show compassion and give each sinner a chance to make amends and start their lives anew. He listens and tries not to judge, but he freely admits he is only human after all. He tries to direct, to lecture, or simply to offer a word of warning or advice. Josiah knows he cannot change anyone unless they are willing but he hopes his words reach them, if only to save their immortal souls from damnation.

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Title: Swords and Guns
Characters: Buck and Nathan
Notes: Prompt: Buck and Nathan: Guns

Nathan had been a slave, and no slave could carry a gun. When his master needed a fencing partner Nathan learned fast. Steel became his weapon of choice, and he practised daily with knives and swords until he was as fast and accurate as any gunslinger. Buck only knew guns. He wasn't as fast as Chris or as accurate as Vin but he could hold his own in a fight. Teaching a beginner to fence would be hard especially with only days to learn what Nathan had spent years learning. To save his friend, he knew he had to try.

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Title: Sibling Smiles
Characters: JD and Buck
Notes: Prompt: Secret siblings

Buck always wondered why he and JD had got on so well, right from the very beginning, looking upon the younger man like a little brother. It was a shock when they was sitting round a campfire one night and JD started to talk of his errant father. Buck had know of that man from his mother, before he found gold and took his riches back East. Buck knew he favored his mother in looks and on the following day he studied JD, seeing the similarities between them that might come from a shared father. They had the same smile.

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Title: Go West, Young Man
Characters: JD
Notes: Prompt: JD: Getting lost in a book

JD's love of books had come from his mother. He had spent many a glorious hour lost within the pages of a dime store novel, reading of heroic deeds out West, of gunslingers, Indians, and cowboys. When his mother died leaving him penniless and alone JD knew could either find work in a factory or follow his dream and head West. The stagecoach fare cost him what little money his mother had left for him but as he stepped off in a rough frontier town he knew he'd made the right choice, beginning a whole new chapter of his life.

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Title: Shame
Characters: Josiah
Notes: Prompt: Josiah: Confusion

The whiskey fogged his mind, numbing his thoughts and senses yet he could never escape the harshness of his youth and the pain of his sister, Hannah. The memories tore through him, dragging up the dirt of the past and leaving him raging and belligerent towards an uncaring father. When he awoke the following day the fog rarely cleared, leaving him confused yet ashamed of bad deeds and words hurled while in Pan's embrace. Each morning he swore he would not touch another drink, putting the past behind him so he could begin his life afresh. Every night he failed.

END
 

Chapter Text

Title: Belief
Characters: Rain
Rating/Category: GEN
Word Count: 100
Notes/Warnings: Prompt: Rain: Belief

Rain believed in the goodness of others but not to the point where she blindly accepted a stranger into the lives of her people without having a knife to hand, ready to protect them if that person turned out bad. She believed the Spirits of the Ancestors would provide for her people, just as they had given them all a safe haven in the village. Her belief was rewarded when seven good men rode in and saved them.

When she found Nathan hanging upside-down in one of her traps, she discovered she also believed in love at first sight.

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Title: Valuable Lesson
Characters: JD
Rating/Category: GEN
Word Count: 100
Notes/Warnings: Prompt: JD: Taught a lesson

He thought he was all grown up, often getting riled when Buck treated him like a kid. He was a man. Yet when Maddie dragged him into the livery, determined to show him a good time, JD felt so out of his depth, so young and afraid. He was almost grateful Casey walked in on them, apart from having her mad at him. He tried to explain it to Maddie later only to realize too late that he was nothing to her. It took getting shot to figure out why he hadn't wanted her. He was in love with Casey.

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Title: Rescue
Characters: Vin and Nathan
Rating/Category: GEN
Word Count: 200 (double drabble)
Notes/Warnings: Prompt: Vin and Nathan: Staying hidden

Nathan and Vin dropped down behind a boulder, breathing heavily from the exertion of running and dodging as they moved from cover to cover. So far the Greely Gang hadn't spotted them, focusing instead on Chris and the others who were trying to keep them pinned down and occupied. The Seven had the Greely Gang caught between them now, and Vin had a good shot of one of the men but knew he couldn't take it until they had freed the two women taken hostage by the gang. He and Nathan were both light on their feet, crossing the final piece of open ground swiftly while a volley of gunshots from Chris and the others kept the gang distracted. He watched as Nathan shushed the women, releasing their bonds, before quietly guiding them to safe place. Nathan ordered them to keep low, and to stay silent and well hidden.

Once Nathan was sure they would be safe from flying bullets he gave Vin a wide smile and nodded. It was time to join the fight, and with a whoop of delight, Vin took his first shot, bringing down one of the gang that had been creeping slowly up on Chris.

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Title: Silence
Characters: Nathan and Vin
Rating/Category: GEN
Word Count: 100
Notes/Warnings: Prompt: Nathan and Vin: Silence

Neither of them talked much about their past, preferring to share only when the whiskey had loosened their tongues and the words seemed necessary. They kept their secrets, hiding in the silence found in pockets around the crowded, noisy saloon. They listened to Ezra's tall tales as he distracted his opponents at the card table; to Josiah's sermons as he preached to those too drunk to care about the sin of debauchery, to JD's inane chatter, and Buck's reminiscing of the women he had loved. And when Chris grew broody, lost in his dark past, they kept his silence too.

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Title: Fire and Brimstone
Characters: Josiah and Vin
Rating/Category: GEN
Word Count: 100
Notes/Warnings: Prompt: Josiah and Vin: The Bible

Vin wasn't against religion. He recalled his Ma had a Bible, one of those large family heirlooms but it must have been sold off around the same time she died from putrid fever. Vin guessed he should be surprised he wasn't sold off too, though he did get handed around from stranger to stranger until he found a home with the The People. They had their beliefs and Josiah wasn't one to mock or cry damnation. Instead he'd sit with Vin, helping him learn to read by opening passages from the Bible. Fire and Brimstone. It was a good story.

END