(Little Ezra - Old West)
Disclaimer: I don't own them, or the show they rode in on. I wrote this for fun, and no profit is made from it.
Archive: Twyla's Very Simple Magnificent Seven Page, Starwinder's, You Want Fries With That?, and The All-Ezra FanFic Archive --- all others, please ask. Some of these stories were posted originally on the Ezra's Littleverse list, and hence also on its archive.
Summary: A temporary apprentice to a healer's magic.
Warnings: Ezra is a little boy, all the rest of the Seven are their adult selves.
Author's Note: Dear Reader, there stories are listed as they were written rather than in a timeline of the series itself. I am writing as the mood strikes and fitting in my small pieces helter-skelter. If the series is ever completed, I shall attempt a timeline for the stories. For now, as I publish, I shall try to note if the story doesn't follow sequentially with the preceding ones.
Completed: 22 January 2003
Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org welcomes comments
Back to: One True Path
Ezra remembered the time he woke up in Nathan's clinic. He'd had his shoulder pulled too hard by Mrs. Travis. She'd thought that he was hurting Billy when he'd only been trying to act like Mr. Nathan and help. Ezra wanted to be like Mr. Nathan but knew he'd never be as good. More than anything, Ezra wanted to be needed. For anything.
Ezra figured Nathan Jackson was probably one of the smartest, most humble men he'd ever met. He liked Mr. Nathan's gentle hands and quiet knowledge. His courage to help people, even those who might harm him. Billy had told him about the almost-lynching that had happened long before Ezra arrived.
When Chris decided Ezra needed school lessons, it had been Josiah and Nathan who'd stepped forward to offer their skills. Only, he had surprised them. Ezra smiled fondly as he thought of how Mr. Sanchez's chin had dropped when he'd read an entire two pages of Ecclesiastics. But, it had been the look of approval in Nathan's eyes, when he'd shown what he could do with numbers and his respect of the man's herbal cures, that had been most satisfying to Ezra. So now, whenever he had a chance, he tried to stop by the clinic and help Nathan. And learn.
"Now you just drop a pinch of that aloe in here." Nathan waited and watched as the little boy did as he was told with great precision. He'd never before had a helper. It was actually thrilling him and he didn't want to scare Ezra off by getting too excited or anything.
Ezra glanced up, noting that Mr. Nathan seemed very happy. Not that he was smiling, just seemed to have a lightness about him. It made Ezra feel good too. He was really enjoying his visits with the healer. He'd known other people who cured folks, some with words, some with medicine, some with hands. He figured that Mr. Nathan did it with all of those things. He'd seen how the tall, dark man's gentle hands and soothing voice had eased the fear in Mrs. DeWar's face when she came riding in on the back of Mr. DeWar's wagon, all sweaty and grunting, her whole body racking with her panting heaves, near ready to birth her first child.
Ezra had been sitting on the front steps of the church with Vin Tanner who was tracing lines in the dirt street with a willow wand. Mr. Vin had been showing him the trails in and out of Four Corners and how the land forced the directions of the trails. It had been a fascinating discussion of geography and settlement, though he'd not used those words with Mr. Vin. He had realized very soon after first listening to the man that he was not educated as Maude would count it, but that he knew a great deal. Large words would only slow down a conversation and Ezra liked Mr. Vin. So he didn't use the word geography but he paid close attention.
Now Mr. Nathan, he knew those big words but seemed offended if Ezra used them with him, so Ezra tried to listen, not speak. There was plenty that the healer had to say, too.
Sometimes he got upset and then he was like an old time preacher that Ezra had listened to in a revival tent one time when mamon was pulling a con with a traveling 'man of god.' That Hiram Gooseberry had been real hellfire and brimstone all over folks. At least, he was when those folks he was hornswoggling were around. When it was just him and Maude, because they never seemed to notice Ezra, except when telling him what he had to do at the next 'meeting' to show he was full of bad spirits and was going to be 'cured' by Hiram's hands, well, when it was just the two, they'd laugh and joke about the gullibility of people - and count the money they'd taken in that night.
Mr. Nathan seldom seemed to get paid for his work, and when he did, it was often food or donation of work or things. Mr. Nathan seldom had much money at all. Ezra figured that was why he also was a lawman and one of the Six.
Ezra lightly wiped his hands to the side, so no extra of that particular moist substance would go in the mortar. Mr. Nathan might sound like Hiram, but Mr. Nathan believed what he said and meant it. Ezra watched as Nathan Jackson slowly ground in this newest ingredient with his pestle. The resulting paste was going into a small glass jar that had already been neatly labeled in Ezra's script. A salve for soreness in the joints. It was for Mrs. Petry. The elderly lady complained that her hands hurt sometimes and this seemed to ease the pain for her.
Mr. Nathan and he were on their last batch of mix. Ezra didn't get sick from the smells anymore. Maybe you just had to get used to them. He looked with satisfaction at the row of bottles and jars. Mostly reused containers from donations that town folk saved for the healer. He knew and would remember what each held, how it had been made. When the healer told him what symptoms could be helped and when you had to look for a deeper cause, it had made Ezra realize that Nathan did more than just mend bones or sew up wounds, even if the ex-slave claimed to do only that. He looked up to Mr. Nathan with respect.
He always waited to see when the healer would be working in his clinic now. He'd come here once when he knew that Nathan had gone, had ridden out with the rest of the Six. They'd gone after a very bad man. Ezra had been worried and decided to try to make some magic to protect them. He'd made his totems here in the clinic because he could also keep lookout for their return from Nathan's windows. Only. Only Mrs. Travis had seen him and been very upset that he'd been in the clinic alone. Chris and the others protected him when they got home, and Nathan told him that he didn't mind that Ezra had been in his clinic or made the totems, but that it would be better if he didn't do that again.
Since then, Ezra and Mr. Nathan had got along very well and Ezra was learning all sorts of things. He was very comfortable with the big, calm man with the big, kind heart. And, Mr. Nathan made magic. He made medicines that helped people and his touch alone could make folks feel better. That was magic in Ezra's book. Very good magic. He felt like he was a sorcerer's apprentice.
Seeing that they were finished, Ezra climbed down from the chair he'd been kneeling on and walked over to Nathan's work table, where he'd watched Nathan pull a bullet from Buck Wilmington four days ago. His whole body clenched in memory. He'd run hard to follow Chris and Vin as they half-carried, half-dragged the big man up the stairs to the clinic. No one had time to notice one small boy who ran like a shadow after them, nor see him as he slipped in and hung back in a corner of the tiny clinic when the others frantically tried to stem the flow of blood from Buck's shoulder where an outlaw's bullet was lodged.
Chris had nearly growled out, "It's still in there, Nate," and then gone to the head of the table to hold down Buck's surging shoulders as the big man tried to roll away in pain. Chris had laid a hand on Buck's forehead and bent low, but Ezra had heard his mutter. "Ease up, old dog, just hold on now, you'll be fine."
Vin had climbed up on top of Buck's legs and straddled them like he might ride a pony. Good thing too, because Mr. Wilmington had fought them all when Mr. Nathan ripped open the shirt and started in with a knife. Ezra squinted his eyes shut in the memory of all that blood, of Buck's shallow breathing and the grunts of the other two men, Chris' continued low growly speech, and the cough that was half scream that came from Buck when Nathan finally yanked out a dark, dripping thing that had been a bullet once.
Ezra swallowed hard, sick on only the memories of that moment. Remembering with embarrassment that he'd not been much help, though he'd tried. Seeing that his friends were all so occupied, he'd gone to heat the water on Nathan's small stove, found the bandages and a basin for the hot water. Even climbed up a chair to reach some of the powder that Nathan had once told him was good for fighting infection in wounds. He'd quietly brought an old straw-bottomed chair over to the struggling men and placed the basin of steaming water on it, draping clean rags and bandages over the back rung of the chair and holding the jar of power at the ready.
"What's the kid doing in here?" Vin had managed to husk out then, noticing Ezra for the first time.
Chris had barely glanced his way, attention all on Buck. "Ezra, get out. I'll speak to you afterwards."
But Nathan had looked over and smiled. "No, let him stay, Chris. He's helpin'." And those big hands, bloody now, had reached out and pulled off a rag to wipe with, then dunked a clean one in the hot water and started cleaning the gaping wound. "Ezra, find me my silk thread and heat up one of my needles, make sure it's clean."
The calm words and simple directions had reassured Ezra. He saw the look of incredulity that Chris sent his way and shrugged. Then followed Nathan's directions. The others all turned back to Buck, but Ezra stayed, just out of the way, replacing used bandages, removing discarded rags, and heating more water. He'd moved carefully so as not to distract anyone. Afterwards, when Buck was sleeping and as Vin and Chris backed out of the clinic to breathe in fresh air, while Nathan cleaned himself up with more of the fresh hot water that somehow one little boy had kept coming, afterwards, Chris had laid a hand on Ezra's shoulder and guided him out on to the balcony with Vin.
"That was good work you did, Ezra." Chris had patted the shoulder and then knelt down on one knee to stare into Ezra's eyes. "Are you all right?"
"Yes, Chris. I just wanted to help."
Chris had smiled that small smile of his, the one that always made Ezra's heart thump extra loud and filled him with utter happiness. "You did help. Made it easier on all of us, and, Buck is going to be better. He'll thank you too when he's able."
Nathan had come out on to the balcony. He had come over then. He dropped a hand on Ezra's shoulder and when Ezra looked up, Mr. Nathan had smiled. "You done real good, Ezra. Couldn't have asked for a better helper. Maybe some day you'll be a doctor."
No, someday he'd be a conman and gambler. Maude had decreed that as far back as he could remember. But, for now, it was nice to dream and nice to make magic with Mr. Nathan. It was nice to help people. So Ezra had put out his hand and Mr. Nathan had shaken it.
A touch at his shoulder reminded Ezra that he was in the clinic in the here and now, and that Mr. Nathan was done for the day. Looking up at the dark man, Ezra smiled. "Thank you, Mr. Nathan."
Nathan Jackson smiled back, you didn't see the sun come out on little Ezra's face very often, but when it did, oh my. The kid was like a magic elixir for him and for the rest of the Six, he brought back love into their midst. One little boy with a very big heart. Nate's smile widened. "No, Ezra, thank you."
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