Stacking The Deck
Note: This fic was in response to the Warnings Challenge on EBoS.
Warnings: M7 member death, bestiality, necrophilia, non-consensual sexual acts, partner betrayal, rape, violence and another kink bordering on BDSM.
"Mr Wilmington, I fear that if we tarry any longer, the good judge will send a search party out after us." Ezra leaned against the nearest stall post to watch Buck continue to ransack through his dozing horse's saddlebags. "The stable lad will be here momentarily to tend to the horses. What could possibly be so important as to make you want to incur Judge Travis' wrath?"
"He won't hang us, Ezra," Buck replied, still rummaging. "He needs our testimony." He winked before cursing, "Darn things! Where'd they get to?"
"While I agree that hanging is a tad extreme on this occasion, he could still hold us in contempt and I'm sure both of us have already spent longer on the wrong side of those jail bars than we ever intended."
"Oh, he wouldn't go that far."
"Oh, I beg to differ. That gentleman has the tolerance level of an irate wolverine when it comes to his courtroom and you know it."
"I'm not holding you here." Buck shooed with one hand. "Go. Run along if you're that worried but I'm not setting foot in that court without my peppermints."
Ezra could only stare in disbelief. "You'd risk the judge's well-known ire for peppermints?" he asked just as Buck gave a loud victory whoop.
Ezra never saw the small paper bag Buck hoisted aloft; he was too busy being alerted by the horse's snort of alarm, watching its eyes roll and its ears flick back. It was just as well too because that way he managed to avoid the flying hooves that kicked out viciously in his direction. Unfortunately, in his haste to avoid the kick, he stumbled, lost his balance on the uneven floor and crashed hard into the wood partition of the next empty stall.
"Ezra?" Buck's voice seemed to come from a long way away. "Ezra, you all right?" Gentle hands patted his cheeks. "Damn. See what you've done now!" Buck cursed in the other direction. "Next time you get lost in the mesquite, I ain't lookin' for you. You can just wander around gettin'--"
"I assure you that getting lost in mesquite is the least of that animal's worries." Ezra eased himself up into a more dignified position to glare at Buck's horse, which was standing looking at him over Buck's crouched form. The creature actually had the good manners to look abashed.
"You all right?" Buck frowned at him. "That was some knock on the head you took."
"Knock on the head?" Ezra frowned back before retrieving his somewhat bashed hat from the straw and gingerly feeling the back of his skull. It only hurt when he looked at the poor state of his hat. "I'm actually surprisingly well despite your equine's best efforts to the contrary." He got to his feet, pushing his hat back into shape as best he could.
"You sure?" Buck studied him.
"Yes, quite, Mr Wilmington. Now, can we go please?"
"Can't go yet. He wants to apologise, don't you, boy?" Buck turned to his horse, letting it snuffle at the peppermints before moving the bag away.
"Have you been drinking?" Ezra scowled.
"C'mon, just stand still against the stall post and--"
"See you in court, Mr Wilmington." Ezra turned to walk away but was immediately tackled by Buck who was trying to forcibly pin him against the post. "Have you lost your mind?" He pushed back only to be wrestled harder until they were almost brawling across the stable. "Buck!"
"C'mon, Ezra, it'll only take a minute," Buck panted then won their tussle with a breath-stealing kiss.
The heartbeat that had previously been hammering in Ezra's ears froze when Buck's warm lips settled coaxingly upon his own. Just as his brain was finally getting around to processing this revelation, something started rubbing at his crotch in a maddeningly good way. Which wasn't good.
"Buck," Ezra broke the kiss to say, "I don't know what just happened here but--"
"Ssht or you'll miss the best part." Buck grinned and Ezra was too busy trying to ease away from the stall post while avoiding the next kiss and trying to think up something to say, anything to say, when something hot and disconcertingly arousing pressed at his crotch.
"Oh lord." Ezra closed his eyes. "Tell me that's not--" Any hope he had left of keeping his sanity disappeared when Buck's horse snuffled an even hotter breath over his burgeoning arousal. This wasn't good. This wasn't good at all. "Eh, Mr Wilmington, your horse is..."
"He's apologising." Buck smiled up close.
"Nope, I wouldn't do that if I were you." Buck pushed Ezra's protesting hands down. "He might bite."
"Bite?" Ezra suddenly felt ill, but his erection continued to grow happily under the horse's disturbingly effective ministrations. Which wasn't fair at all. "Buck, I'm warning you, if you don't get that--"
"Ssht." Buck closed in for another kiss. "His apology will be over as soon as he realises there ain't no peppermints down there. Then I'll start to apologise. If you want me to."
"I don't. Thank you," Ezra breathed back but his voice was depressingly weak. Then Buck was kissing him and the horse had moved away so Buck's hand was massaging his eager length and it was good, too damn good to--
"What's keeping you two so..." Chris trailed off as Ezra startled and pushed Buck off to face him.
"We were just coming," Ezra blurted out, brushing bits of straw from his coat. "I mean we were just on our way," he stumbled miserably over the words while Chris' face settle into a stony mask.
"Judge is waiting," Chris bit the words and spat them out before turning on his heel and stalking out of the stable.
"Chris, it's not what it looks like!" Buck called out after him but Chris had gone.
Ezra had never enjoyed the atmosphere of a courtroom but today's trial was hell on earth: Judge Travis kept glaring at him; Buck kept apologising to him; Chris wouldn't even look at him and he stuttered through his testimony like some kind of woefully backward schoolboy. The whole experience was straight from the very bowels of hell but only got worse when Judge Travis 'invited' him back to his private room.
"I must apologise for my unforgivable tardiness and ill-prepared testimony, sir," Ezra began as soon as the judge closed the door, hoping that some immediate grovelling would stay his wrath.
The judge, however, just walked behind his changing curtain, presumably to change his robes, without uttering a word.
"I fear I may have caught a head cold being out in the rains last night at your behest," Ezra went on but the judge made no reply. With a longing glance at the door, he bit back his burning need to speak to Chris and tried again. "I'm sure you see the need to--" Ezra's words choked and died in his throat as Judge Travis re-emerged from behind the curtain, wearing nothing but a scowl. "...Put on some clothes?" he finished lamely.
The judge still didn't speak; he just moved over to his desk and picked up the riding crop that was lying on top of the legal papers there.
"Feeling a trifle warm are we?" Ezra asked lightly while backing up to the door.
"Step one foot outside of this room and I'll put you in jail for a month," the judge growled, flexing the riding crop.
"I... see," Ezra tried unsuccessfully to get his mind around the situation. Unfortunately, Judge Travis' next words made everything frightening clear.
"I know your type, Ezra. I've been dealing with them for years." The judge walked up in all his naked glory to take Ezra by the elbow and lead him over to the desk. "But you're not like the rest of that scum. With a little direction, you could be back on the straight and narrow."
"Is that so?" Ezra tried not to look down; he tried not to look anywhere because this wasn't really happening.
"Jail won't do you any good, I know." The judge stroked Ezra's cheek softly before fingering his lips. "You'll talk your way around it, blame the law for your own flaws." He sighed, shaking his head sadly. "I know the flaws in your character aren't all your own and that's why I'm prepared to give you this chance."
"And what chance is that?" Ezra asked nervously, not really wanting to hear the answer.
"Bend over the desk," the judge ordered in a business-like manner while flexing his riding crop again.
"Why?" Ezra tried to back away but the solid desk was right behind him. "Do you really think I'm going to..." He accidentally looked down and caught sight of a bobbing something he really wished he hadn't. "Why did you take your clothes off?"
"It's a warm day for a whipping." The judge shrugged. "I always overheat somewhat. Now, bend over, Mr Standish, it's time to receive what's coming to you."
"Frankly, I'd rather rot in jail." Ezra pushed past the judge and walked smartly for the door, only to find it locked.
"I can arrange that." Judge Travis swished the riding crop through the air. "If you call for Mr Perry, he will unlock the door and take you straight to jail for contempt of court and, since our own jail is full of the Parmason Gang, I'm sure they will enjoy your company." He walked up to take Ezra by the elbow again but Ezra shook him off.
"The others wouldn't let that happen. They--"
"Like you too much?" the judge asked low. "Do you really think they enjoy the way you always try to dodge the work, never pull your own weight?"
"That's not true," Ezra protested but somehow allowed himself to be led back over to the desk nonetheless. "I do as much as--"
"You think you can get away with. I know," the judge finished gently. "It's not your fault, Ezra. That's why I'm going to help you," he said soothingly while taking off Ezra's coat. "Lean over the desk now, son. It's for your own good. Your friends will finally be able to depend on you after I've shown you the errors of your ways. It's much easier this way, trust me," Judge Travis continued encouragingly and Ezra found himself bent over the cold desk with warm air breathing over his exposed rear. "Your friends need never know what happened here." A hot hand stroked the shivering skin of his lower back. "You'll warm up soon, my boy, never fear."
Ezra closed his eyes, expecting to feel the bite of the whip at any second, and almost jerked himself off the table when something hard, cold and slick pressed for entrance into his body instead.
"Ssht, ssht, lie still, son. It's all right," the judge whispered soothingly by Ezra's ear before kissing him lightly on the cheek. "This is the easy way. You don't want it the hard way, now, so just relax and take your lesson."
And then the cold hardness was back, an insane counterpoint to the gentle strokes on his back and the half-whispered promises that floated around him until it reached deep enough inside him to strike that honey-sweet spot again and again until he was groaning from the pleasure, entreating the judge to move faster and harder until--
That's when the gunfire started. Dull at first, Ezra hardly noticed it until the judge pulled away cursing, leaving him bereft of feeling and struggling for breath.
"Damn Parmasons must be trying to escape," the judge growled and Ezra stood up to blink around at him. "Don't just stand there, get going, man!" The judge pulled on his clothes.
The next retorts of gunfire were loud and close, startling Ezra into action so he barely gave himself time to secure his clothes before dashing out the room, not noticing that the door had been mysteriously unlocked.
It had all happened fast, too fast, and now everything was still. The whole town seemed to be holding its breath until Nathan finally kneeled away defeated from Chris' body, leaving him lying motionless in the middle of the street.
The gunfight had been a mess, a pitched battle in such close confines that it was inevitable that one of them would be out manoeuvred eventually. But it hadn't happened like that. The fight had gone their way right from the beginning. The problem was that someone had missed his count. When the gunfire had ebbed and died, there was no reason to think that all the Parmason Gang had not been accounted for. Judging by his friends' ease of manner, Ezra would have staked his life on it. Except it wasn't his life up for forfeit but Chris'. The last member of the gang had met his maker as soon as he'd shown face. But that didn't matter. Chris had already paid the ultimate price.
As Josiah moved up to ease Nathan away from the body, Ezra saw Buck slump down to sit on the boardwalk, steadied by Vin while JD just stood frozen to the spot behind them.
This was wrong. It was all so wrong. Ezra turned numbly away, unable to look any longer. If he didn't let it register, didn't accept it to be true, then maybe it would just cease to exist. He pushed his way through the gathering crowd, caught a glimpse of Mary Travis running up crying, saw the undertaker following close behind, and pushed even harder. He couldn't breathe and he couldn't stop moving until he collapsed against the back of the grain exchange, struggling for sobbing breaths.
They had all gone. He could only have been away a few minutes, but when Ezra stepped hesitantly back onto Main Street the crowds had all disappeared. Everyone had gone. The street was like a ghost town. Buck, Vin, Nathan, Josiah -- even Chris' body had--
"Chris?" Ezra almost ran into the middle of the street but there was nothing there. There wasn't even a spot of blood where Chris' body had lay. He looked down the street to the undertaker's office, where the coffins for the Parmason Gang were piled up outside, and was suddenly overcome with an overwhelming need to see Chris again. The fear that Chris' body had already been consigned to its coffin clawed at him with a desperate grief until he was standing in front of the undertaker's door.
Heart hammering in his ears, he turned the door handle. It was locked. With a raw growl, he attacked the door: pushing, pulling and rattling the old lock until it finally gave way and the door creaked open with a weary sigh.
Inside it was dark, cold and still. It shouldn't be cold, Ezra knew, but he still shivered as he lit the lamp and moved through the office into the back rooms.
There was only one body in the main room, lying on the table in its centre. Ezra walked in keeping close to the wall, not looking properly at the body until he was level with the head. Then, when he finally looked, he moved forwards, hypnotised by the silent peace he found there. Chris just looked asleep. There was no evidence of the bullet that had neatly entered the back of his head. The hole was probably small and the matted blood was thankfully out of sight.
Placing the light just up and to the left of Chris' face, Ezra paused before reaching out and stroking carefully down one pale cheek. The skin was still a little warm to the touch. He fingered Chris' lips, watching for any movement of the eyes or eyelashes. There wasn't any.
"Chris?" He moved a few strands of errant hair back into place -- something he had never done in life. "Chris, I'm sorry," he breathed, suddenly aware of his own life, his own heat, his own breath. If only he could...
Closing his eyes, he leaned down to place a soft kiss on those slowly cooling lips. But it wasn't enough. When he felt Chris' lips give so willingly beneath his own, he had to have more. For the last time, he had to have more.
Moving blindly up onto the table, Ezra lay down half on top of Chris, kissing and stroking and rubbing, desperate to get some heat and life back into the pliant body beneath him. But no matter how hard he rubbed, how passionately he kissed, Chris remained still beneath him, unmoving, uncaring.
"You sick little fucker!" someone bellowed from the doorway and Ezra was yanked off Chris by the scruff of the neck and propelled head first into the planks of wood set up against one corner of the room. "Fuck a dead man, would you?" the big undertaker's son snarled on and Ezra tried but failed to dodge the vicious kick to his stomach and was utterly defenceless against the fist slamming into the side of his face.
The next thing he was aware of, apart from the blood filling his mouth and the obligatory agony, was being hauled back to his feet and dragged over to where Chris lay. Chris didn't care when the undertaker's son ripped at Ezra's clothes, promising to fuck him raw if that's what he wanted. Chris didn't care when Ezra was punched in the stomach and made to bend over, giving himself to the undertaker's son. And, because Chris didn't care when that hard cock ripped into his unprotected body, Ezra didn't care either. Yes, the pain was unbelievable, the bastard thrusting into him punched him in the ribs whenever he cried out and he fancied he was bleeding something terrible from it all, but nothing mattered. Everything was secondary. Nothing was real anymore.
"Ezra?" It was Chris' voice. It made Ezra laugh. Even while the undertaker's son raped him with gusto, he laughed. It was just too ridiculous that he would finally hear Chris now, that Chris would finally care enough to-- "Ezra?" Chris' voice came again but it wasn't that of a dead man, it was warm, close and full of promise.
Confused, Ezra pushed the undertaker's son away and, in that moment, the scene melted away and he opened his eyes to find Chris' concerned gaze just inches from his own. His heart froze in his mouth as Chris smiled a little and thumbed his right cheek.
"Chris?" Ezra blinked. "You're all right?"
Chris frowned a moment before replying, "I'm not the one who got up close and personal with a stable post and ended up flat out in Nathan's clinic for most of the day." He brushed his fingers lightly over the hair behind Ezra's right ear.
Before Chris could stop him, Ezra moved his hand up to feel the large, pulpy bump on his skull -- with immediate results. "Oh hell," he howled. "I should have just let that nag kick me."
"It's not that bad." Chris gave him one of his rare, warm smiles. "Just remember to--" the rest of his words were muffled in a fierce hug.
Moving so quickly may have set off his aching head something terrible and made the entire room pitch and yaw, but Ezra knew it was worth it to feel Chris' heat, feel that familiar strength hugging him back.
"Are you--" Chris began when Ezra loosened his hold but then his words were lost in a demanding kiss that almost dislodged him from his chair at the bedside.
When Chris began kissing him back, tightening the embrace while plundering Ezra's mouth, Ezra was sure at least one of them had died and gone to heaven. At least, that was, until Chris accidentally touched that monstrosity of a lump sticking out from behind his ear.
"Hell in a cheap suit!" Ezra pulled away, trying not to touch his throbbing head but wishing to soothe it nonetheless.
"Sorry." Chris watched Ezra settle back on the pillows with a look that wasn't wholly penitent. "Nathan did say you should rest up, spend the night up here in bed. Maybe most of tomorrow too until the dizziness clears."
"What about the trial?" Ezra tried not to shudder. "Doesn't Judge Travis want me to testify?"
Chris shook his head. "That's where Nathan is now." He pulled up the bedcovers but didn't go so far as attempting to tuck them in. "We thought that the judge might need his medical testimony to back up Buck's evidence since you aren't able to make it. I told Nathan I'd watch you."
"That was very magnanimous of you, Mr Larabee." Ezra grinned.
Chris smiled as he stood up to tuck his chair away. "I'd best be heading downstairs and you should get some rest before Buck comes up to pester you."
Ezra nodded as much as his tender skull would allow. "Can you ask Mr Wilmington to bring something readable along with him? Sleep isn't exactly an appealing prospect at the moment and Mr Jackson's medical volumes aren't quite to my taste," he added ruefully.
"I'll tell him." Chris nodded and headed for the door.
His hand had barely reached the handle when Ezra asked, "Eh, Chris, Buck's horse doesn't like peppermints, does he?"
"Don't know." Chris turned back with a frown. "Buck's got too much of a sweet tooth to pass them around but most horses are partial, I guess. Why?"
"Nothing." Ezra settled back onto the pillows with a shrug. "Just an errant thought."
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