TITLE: Over the Hills and Far Away
CHALLENGE: Anniversary 2002
MAJOR CHARACTERS: Seven
ARCHIVE: Yes, Please
SPOILERS : None that I know of
NOTES: Richard Sharpe is a character in the novels of Bernard Cornwell. Recently a series on PBS.
Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven belongs to Mirisch Entertainment Inc., with all rights and privileges thereof. This work is a work of fanfiction, for the amusement of the author and fandom who have nothing else to do since they aren’t making any more episodes of the show. No money or other renumeration has exchanged hands, this is just for fun, guys!
Over the Hills and Far Away
<Sunday Night, Early November 2002, CDC, Denver>
"Well?" The southerner demanded of his co-conspirator. He received a lopsided grin in response.
"Easier than I thought, He never heard a thing."
"This is a just retribution for his gathering of "Blackmail" material after the Laurence case." Ezra said and Vin agreed with a wide smile.
"It’s totally Just" he said. "Ez, think we oughta git outa here? I ain’t looking to be here when he wakes up." With a slight nod of agreement the two men slid out of the Apartment, knowing that JD was nowhere near and that Buck would probably be up as soon as he got the telephone call. Neither one felt any degree of sympathy for the team’s Romeo. It was time for Bucklin T. Wilmington to receive some payback and they were certain that the rest of the team wouldn’t mind either.
"Yes, Mr. Larabee will most likely notice our absence if we don’t leave now." With a grin Ezra led the way to the waiting rental car.
Within moments they were back at the Black tie gala, no one the wiser. The other members of Team Seven stood uncomfortably in the corner of the event trying to find something to amuse their "dates" with. They had not noticed the duo’s disappearance having been distracted finally by Mary Travis’s dislike of Chris’s date, Irene Taylor from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Chris was uncomfortable with the situation, but he shouldn’t have been. He’d asked Mary but she’d turned him down after the last date ‘Team Seven’ had made fiasco of. Irene was an old friend of both Buck and Chris’s and her husband was willing to have Larabee escort her since he had Watch Command that night. Trying to find a way out of the conversation, Chris turned to work and began asking his men strange things about cases they’d finished. Apparently he was hoping that Mary would go away. Vin gave Chris a lopsided grin when he asked about the Laurence case. Larabee immediately looked at him as though he were up to something fishy.
"Are you going after Buck? He did pull those stunts on the case." Chris said.
"Mr. Wilmington will receive his comeuppance in due time." Ezra said.
"He’ll be in trouble soon enough, Cowboy." Vin gave him a serious look.
"Buck is already in trouble with the female population of the Rout." JD said. "He says that he’s never been so lonesome. Didn’t come tonight, cause he couldn’t get a date."
"It ain’t undeserved." Vin responded. He’d taken the brunt of Buck’s bright idea and he wasn’t so willing to forgive the Rouge. What they’d done to Buck was only the first step.
"There’s Eldridge." Josiah warned as the ‘dapper’ FBI agent sauntered their way. He’d been the reason behind the Laurence Case and none of RMETF Seven were going to forget that soon.
"What a loathsome man." Rain Walters, soon to be Jackson, said.
"My lady, you don’t know the half of it." Ezra said trying to keep an even tone to his voice.
"Hist" Eldridge said. He was under the impression that giving Larabee a warning was a good thing. Larabee, who was tired of Mills, Mullhuland, and just about everyone else giving him ‘advise’ gritted his teeth. Chris nearly lost it however when JD asked the man, with a perfectly straight face no less, if he had a slow leak. Storming off, Eldridge’s departure caused every eye to turn and look at them. The team gave in and began to chuckle. Neighboring Federal agents asked each other what had set Team Seven off. Quickly spreading, the story seemed to increase in each telling. Soon they were hearing that JD had done all manner of things, innocently, to the pest from Washington.
Chris laughed hard and long, scaring somewhat the other Federal agents. Larabee was known to be a man with little humor. Here he was at a black tie gala, celebrating the Local Children’s charity’s fifth anniversary with his men and laughing like there was no tomorrow. Many agents wondered if the end of the world was near.
"I’m going to get some food." JD said to Casey. "Would you like something?" He asked politely, hoping she wouldn’t think he was a manner less pig. Buck might be in trouble for the ‘prank’ he played on the others, but he’d drummed it into JD’s head that you always thought of your date first.
"Yes, Please" Casey said. "Could you bring me some of those grapes? I’d like some more but I don’t want to get in the way of the conversation over there." She pointed to the refreshment table nearest to them where two of the society matrons held sway.
JD grimaced. He knew those two women. They’d been a major problem during an incident he’d rather forget. Ezra caught his eye.
"Nothing to worry about JD." he said kindly. "I’ll go and discomfit those two harridans and you acquire the things for the lovely Miss Wells."
"Thanks Ez." JD said, knowing that the southerner had more reason than anyone to be angry with those two. They’d almost broken up the team, with his help. At least Ezra seemed to have forgiven him, and he got the feeling that the incident was dead and buried in the undercover agent’s mind.
Ezra gave a slight shift to his ‘persona’, adopting his cultured, mannered, and sarcastic mask. JD felt a bit sorry for those two ladies. Only a bit, though, his heart told him that they deserved everything the team’s chameleon was going to put them through.
Both women started when Ezra walked up to the table all smiles. The smile should have given it away that they were in trouble. Both women acted as if they hadn’t done anything wrong in the past, preferring to act as if they were just now making Ezra’s acquaintance. They wanted the money they knew Standish represented. Ezra’s smile and southern charm distracted them while JD got a couple of plates of the food and dashed carefully back to Team Seven’s corner. Standish winked at him as the team’s youngest member slipped behind Josiah’s large body. The Profiler arched an eyebrow but said nothing.
Larabee on the other hand was having difficulty keeping a straight face. Since the ‘man in black’s’ gifts had manifested themselves after they got back from Indiana in June, he was often hard pressed to keep the information they gave him, especially things that amused him to himself. JD looked at him and then saw that Vin was wearing an Identically smug expression.
"Vin?" He ventured. "You can’t hear Ezra too? I mean he’s all the way over there."
"Don’t need to be hearin’ him, JD. I know what Ez’ll do. He’s already got them ladies twisted inta knots. If the ol’ man here ain’t panicking then Ez don’t need anyone spoilin’ his ‘winning ways’." The team’s sharpshooter laughed. Privately he had a bet with himself and he mentally pictured the clock ticking down to both the ladies’s discomfit and Buck’s first taste of Retaliation.
"Thanks JD." Casey said at his elbow startling him. "Oh good. You got some of those cheese things. I don’t know what’s in them but they sure are good." She took one of the plates and handed it off to Rain who was trying to keep a straight face. Nathan stood beside his fiancee and didn’t bother trying to hide his laughter. All of the thorny issues of the past had been set aside between himself and Ezra. He’d learned to enjoy the convoluted way the southerner operated.
"Leak" Josiah said thoughtfully.
"Where?" JD asked aghast, the Ballroom had just been renovated. He knew because Judge Travis had patiently taken the team aside and ‘suggested’ that he’d like it to remain neat and tidy. Travis didn’t want to pay for a remodeling. The old man had been so fierce about it that JD was terrified that they’d be blamed for the smallest thing.
"Leak, JD. An Onion." Chris said explaining it. He sniffed the air. "Garlic and something else." One of Chris’s eyes closed as he tried to identify the smell.
"Don’t stain yerself too hard, Cowboy. Don’t want Ez to have to stop his little war with them two." Vin said giving Larabee a slight tap on the arm. Chris glared at him, but it was half-hearted at best.
"Ya got Duty and Obligations, Pard. This ain’t the time to get lost fer a while." Tanner gave him a serious look.
"I thought Ezra was supposed to be the mother hen." Larabee challenged.
"Yer worse than he is an we all know how bad he can git." Vin chuckled reminding everyone of the incident last week. "Besides. He said we should be lookin’ out fer ya too, Cowboy. Ain’t right ta disrupt his life any more than we all have ta."
"I don’t believe Ezra minds." Nathan said. He’d learned a lot about how the undercover agent thought and more importantly how the man felt about his teammates.
"That he don’t but he still don’t think he’s gota right to a life o’ his own." Vin said. "We gotta convince him o’ that." Chris nodded, suddenly aware of how much the man had been doing and how much he’d been risking for their sakes.
"Think we could get him to go on vacation? Maybe camping this coming weekend?" Chris asked. The others chortled.
"Right Chris, Ez and a tent. Real relaxing." JD snorted. The southerner seemed to dislike camping, but there were reasons for that. Chris had a fixation with the outdoors that only Vin could best. It was worse now that they knew that both men needed to be out and away. "You ought to book Ez a week in some spa or a fancy hotel. He’s into room service, Remember?"
"Maybe we should go up to Estes. He could go to the Stanley and you could go hiking. Best of both worlds." Nathan offered.
"That might work, Brother." Josiah mused. "All the comfort of a five star hotel plus the wonders of Rocky Mountain National Park. Could do it. Heaven knows we could use the break."
‘Week after next." Chris said. "I’ll make reservations."
"What about Buck?" JD asked. "Will you still be mad at him?" He asked Vin.
"Nah." Vin said. "Be finished gettin’ back at him so’s I ain’t goin’ ta spoil a nice trip with it. Haveta think o’ somethin’ though. He deserves it." Tanner pretended to consider his options.
Ezra rejoined them a few moments later, smiling. He was definitely ‘cat who ate canary’
"Everything okay, Ez?" JD asked hesitantly. He knew he was starting to babble but the situation put him on edge. Dunne would rather be chasing gunrunners or moonshiners or something.
"Nothing’s wrong Mr. Dunne. Just a little banter. It’s getting late, perhaps we should be seeing the ladies home?"
"Alright but I want to get some chocolate on the way home. I have to appease a moody roommate." Rain said with a laugh.
As Team Seven filed out of the ballroom, Vin looked at Ezra and they both smiled. Anytime now.
<Across Denver, CDC>
"I’m Coming, Damn it." Buck Bellowed blearily. Someone was ringing the phone and there was a pounding on his door. He grabbed the cell phone and went to the door. As he threw it open he answered the phone at the same time.
"Hello" He growled. The person at the door was a woman, nicely shaped. It took him a minute to recognize Olivia, from the financial office. He’d wanted to date her for months. She was staring at him as though he’d lost his mind. Buck didn’t pay any attention to the phone, the way she was looking at him made him feel a fool. Looking down at himself, he found he was dressed in a woman’s pink satin nightgown.
Oh he was going to get them, all of them.
<Monday Morning, Rout Building, Team Seven Offices>
Buck came in wearing Camouflage makeup and military gear. Josiah raised an eyebrow but continued typing on his report. Nathan burst out laughing, a mistake as Buck focused his anger on him. Everyone knew that the straightlaced medic was a total hash at practical jokes. He could plan them but he couldn’t stop laughing as they were carried out.
Ezra and Vin both chuckled as they would have if someone else had pulled the joke. The sharpshooter looked at Ezra and his expression said that Buck would go after Nathan. Taking a cue, Ezra surreptitiously dialed Rain on his phone. Neither of them wanted Buck’s revenge to upset the lovebirds, especially since they’d had such a hard road to get to this point.
Rain agreed to play along.
By afternoon, Nathan was sure Buck would go after him but the ‘how’ remained in question. Leaving that night, he checked his desk, his car, and even worried about his home. Buck wouldn’t go that far would he? No he wouldn’t, besides Nathan had an ADT alarm.
Several hours later he tried to explain to an ‘angry’ Rain why there was a Pink satin nightgown under the pillows of their bed.
Morning came early for the team’s Profiler. His half finished house made many strange sounds but Josiah hadn’t hear this one. After the third or fourth time he got up to investigate the noise. Josiah drew his weapon and searched the house, expertly avoiding the tools and raw lumber. He tracked the sound toward the attic. At the open attic door he pause, confused for a moment, then he laughed. A great belly laugh.
A woman’s pink satin nightgown flapped in the wind, hanging from the open attic window. His neighbors would find it food for gossip for weeks, until the next prank, but Josiah found it a welcome ‘trial to bear’. However, he’d have to think hard to figure out what to do to the other members of the team.
JD brought Casey home after her class. He’d been warned by his teammates that Buck was plotting mayhem. Figuring that he’d be the last one hit with the prank, he’d only warned Casey that it was coming.
He was preparing lunch when he heard Casey scream from the shower. Rushing in with his drawn weapon was an instinctive response. Trying to keep his eyes averted from his girlfriend’s naked body was harder. Casey was being attacked by something pink.
Eventually they were both wet, covered in suds, and embarrassed. They were holding a Large woman’s pink satin, now soaked, woman’s nightgown.
Thursday was a little tense in Team Seven’s office. It was sort of like the first day of April, tense and waiting for the pranks to break out. Three to go.
Ezra was out of the office, mostly because they were meeting with the local senior agents of the FBI and Standish and those men were a bad mix. Chris was tense, but not because of the prank war. These men had a low opinion of his men, especially Standish. Ezra’s past was hard to deal with, and Chris still only knew pieces...those that the southerner was too tired or not quick enough to hide from their ‘connection’. What Chris knew from the files chilled him and he wasn’t willing to let Ezra have to deal with idiots anymore than he was forced to. Standish was in his charge, they all were and he’d be damned if he let anyone hurt his men. Glaring at them kept them at bay for a while but the meeting would be covering the lunch hour as well.
He sent Vin out to pick up some Tai food. Chris knew that both the sharpshooter and the southerner would eat that. Buck picked up lunch for the rest, deliberately picking up food from the local ‘Greasy spoon’ for the FBI agents. Hopefully they’d all have indigestion. Chris accepted his French Dip sandwich with an air of detachment. His gift told him that Ezra had retreated to the roof. It bothered him that the man had such an affinity for heights...Ezra was known to sit on the ledge of the Rout building.
Larabee’s protective nature hated it when his ‘charge’ tempted fate.
Up on the roof, Vin and Ezra had a Tai food picnic. The food was good, Vin had made sure to call ahead. The Houng family were some very good friends of Team Seven and had loaded the Sharpshooter down with a feast that would have fed Buck and JD for a week. Tanner had snuck some of it into the fridge downstairs reserving the bits that Ezra liked best.
Ezra hadn’t been terribly unhappy to have been ordered off before the men came. A meeting with them would have had negative repercussions for Team Seven, so he was glad of the break. Besides, he needed to have a conference with Vin about what Buck was up to.... At least the ‘permanent’ eyeshadow had worn off somewhat. Buck looked almost normal, but then he’d been dipping, liberally, into Ezra’s disguise kits.
Sitting on the ledge beside Ezra, Vin looked down at the streets of Denver. They seemed so small so even and clean from this height. For a moment he had the irreverent thought that Angels looking down from heaven to record the deeds of men must find it pretty boring. It was only on street level that one could actually see what they were up to and occasionally why.
Ezra suddenly had a funny expression on his face, and Vin was pretty sure they must be giving Chris a heart attack looking down at Denver like this. With a chuckle for ‘mother hen from hell’ Larabee, Vin Climbed back to the roof. It was a mild November, strangely warm. If Chris took them up to Long’s Peak they’d probably see some snow. Vin liked his seasons the way they should be.
"Mr. Larabee asks as a belated birthday present that we not do that again."
"I reckon we could. Fer a while. Cowboy’s too old to be a worryin’ every moment." Vin could tell from Ezra’s grin that he’d transferred the comment down the connection to Larabee. He gave him a lopsided Tanner grin. A day just wasn’t good until he’d twisted Chris’s tail a little.
"Now about Bucklin..."
Neither of them was surprised when later that day they found a blonde wearing the Pink satin Nightgown, barely, in Vin’s battered jeep outside the Saloon. The Sharpshooter turned a little red but said nothing as Ezra escorted the woman into the ladies room where Inez had some clothes for her.
The raucous crowed of Federal agents had given Vin a hard time about the blonde. Buck, however saw Tanner’s grin and found himself worrying all over again.
Ezra knew it was his turn. Waiting patiently for Buck to get on with it, he spent the day in an unruffled calm. He knew that the team’s Romeo wouldn’t agitate Chris today, not with the FBI and the ATF brass on his case, so logically it was his turn.
Buck looked a little troubled. Standish read his ‘tells’ appraisingly. Apparently, he’d presented more of a challenge than Buck had planned on in the beginning. He’d be looking forward to what Mr. Wilmington had come up with.
Most of the day passed in the comfortable doze of paperwork. Ezra finished his own, helped Vin check his, though these days it was purely reflex. The Dictaphone had been a real blessing to the struggling sharpshooter. Eventually Ezra was sent upstairs to deliver the reports to Judge Travis. Not his favorite chore as Travis was not fond of him, but he’d been asked to do it by Christopher Larabee himself, and he wouldn’t fail that man. The southerner grinned as he felt Chris’s reaction to that thought. The connection that they had was strengthening daily. Soon he’d have trouble keeping Larabee out of his mind. That would prove an interesting Challenge as he went upstairs to the Judge’s office.
Barely there he heard "Standish!!!!" Bellowed by the man himself. Uncertain what he’d been accused of this time Ezra stiffened only to stifle his laughter as he found himself confronted by the Judge whose Desk was dressed in the pink satin nightgown....
They all had ended up at the Larabee Ranch. Chris’s expanded homestead was large enough for them all to fit. Buck had taken some ragging for the various appearances of the nightgown, but as ususal, they were all having fun.
For the evening each man had brought a dish or drink. JD had dragged in whole cases of Soda pop.
Nathan was in a fuss about the sugar and rotting teeth, but the others ignored him.
Eventually they had wound down into the large ‘Media’ room. The women were there, Rain, Nettie, Casey, and Ruth. Olivia had turned Buck down and the coconspirators felt a little bad about that, but not much. Vin’s friend Chanu was with them, relaxing and enjoying the Richard Sharpe movie marathon.
By the time they were finished with the fourth movie they were singing along with the old folk song that was the theme.
" Here’s forty shillings on the drum
for those who volunteer to come,
Enlist and fight the foes today
Over the hills and Far away,
O’er the hills and o’er the plain,
through Flanders, Portugal, and Spain
King George Commands
and we obey
Over the hills and Far away."
The Choruses got increasingly rowdy. Nettie finally called a temporary halt so that they could eat the pies. Ezra had brought one for the refrigerator and they all grabbed pieces with enthusiasm. Oddly the southerner was a great cook.
"I wish I had your skill at cooking." Buck said. "This pie would impress the ladies." He laughed, willing as always to let bygones be bygones.
"It’s not hard." Ezra said and waved the chorus of naysayers quiet. "My Aunt Florence couldn’t cook anything except fried chicken and potato stew. She was afraid of making anything else. Her father didn’t like anything else and had terrorized the poor woman into making the same thing every night. Now Florence wasn’t my mother’s sister. I’m not certain of the actual connection, but she must have been 70 or 80 when I was sent to stay with her that summer. I couldn’t convince her that I knew how to cook and she was terrified to let me near the oven. Apparently her youngest brother had been badly burned at some point... Aunt Florence was quite religious and one evening we needed to take a dessert to one of her meetings. Well the poor woman was beside herself. She didn’t know what to do. We wandered the local supermarket for hours, until I found that recipe. It’s quite easy, Mr. Wilmington. Even a child could make it. I did."
"How’d you make pie if’n she wouldn’t let ya near the stove?"
"It’s easy. This pie doesn’t go into the oven. One container of Cool whip, a can of a Frozen juice concentrate, like lemonade, I prefer the pink, a can of sweetened condensed milk. Mix togther for about 5 minutes, do not thaw the lemonade, pour into a premade graham cracker crust , cover and stick in the refrigerate for several hours. Serve chilled."
"Dang Ez, that sounds easy."
"It is. I’ve enjoyed making it from time to time. It should impress your girlfriends favorably, Mr. Wilmington." Ezra smiled.
The night wound down and the team members each went to their rooms to sleep. It had been an exhausting but fun week. The prank war was over, they’d all been gotten. All but Chris, however, Buck wouldn’t be crazy enough to go after Chris? Would he? Each of them wondered as they fell asleep what would have happened if Buck had pranked their fearless leader... Oh well, at least they’d never know for sure, but it was fun to consider.
At two A.M. Buck was awakened by Chris standing beside his bed with a Flashlight.
"You just had to do it, didn’t you?"
"Couldn’t let you feel left out, Pard. D’you mind? I’ve got beauty sleep to get back to."
Buck went back to sleep without waiting for an answer.
Chris laughed. Out in his cornfield was a Scarecrow...wearing a woman’s pink satin Nightgown....
The April 2002 Challenge (The On the Edge Challenge): offered by Meg Tipper
Some, one or all of the boys are on the edge -- not figuratively, literally. It can be the edge of a cliff, the roof of a building, the scaffolding on a skyscraper, a ledge on the side of a rock face -- you name it, so long as it is a long way down. They can be standing, dangling, falling, climbing, whatever works. How you get them there, and get them out of it, is entirely up to you. I only have one other little caveat. You must use one, some or all of the following words in the story: birthday, chocolate, shower and fool. It is April after all. Any universe, any style. Good Luck!
The August 2002 Challenge (the Food Challenge): offered by Flavia
Is there anything that brings back memories like a smell or taste? The real, strong memories of our past, not tied to any one day or event. Baking, cooking, stealing the neighbour's apples....The challenge I offer you, honoured gentlemen and women, is this; Write to me about memories. Memories and cooking. Let the smells of food waft through your fics (Challenger makes elaborate flourish;) and bring back memories for the Seven. Any AU allowed, and any food, as long as the recipe is included. -grin- Lets have some mouthwatering fics!