Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: The Magnificent Seven
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words Say What Friday: "Until you make peace with who you are, you'll never be content with what you have." -- Doris Mortman
Word Count: 1,352
Date Written: 5 August 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
They ride along in silence except for a light, joyful humming. The noise doesn’t bother Ezra -- he’s strangely at peace after all the events they’ve recently survived -- until the Kid glances curiously at him. It’s only then that the humming stops . . . and Ezra realizes that he was the one humming all along.
He coughs, looks away, missing JD’s smile, and straightens the collars of his shirt and jacket. Most of his clothes are spoiled from this last journey, but at least his favorite, red jacket should be mendable. That’s not what bothers him. What bothers him is the fact that he was humming, and happily so, when he’s just spent a week narrowly escaping every day with his life in tact!
What, he wonders, is wrong with him? But as he glances around at the others and hears the angry voice of his mother in his head, Ezra slowly begins to realize that he was humming because he was happy. It’s an amazing fact, but it was truth nonetheless.
He can’t remember humming as a boy; he can scarcely remember being happy at all. It was his own mother who, just two weeks prior on her last trip to bother him and try her best to draw every last dollar out of his friends, told him, “You’ll nevah be happy, Ezra, not with these men or anybody else. Everybody knows that until you make peace with who you are, you'll never be content with what you have, and you, mah dear boy, will nevah like the man you are.”
Ezra had counted within his head to calm himself, leveled his chin, and shot back an equally ice glower at his mother. “An’ you, Mothah?” he had drawled. “What does that say for you? Will you evah be happy?”
For just a moment, his mother’s carefully constructed mask had fallen. For just one, emotional second, he had seen the woman she truly was, the woman she fought daily to keep the world from seeing. He had witnessed an old, bitter, and ultimately alone woman close to the brink of tears. But then her reservoir had snapped back into place. The emotions were gone and, with them, any chance he had had of actually connecting with the woman who was his mother but yet had never acted as such to him.
She’d feigned a bright, self-assured smile, and although he’d known she’d been faking it, he had not called her on it. “That’s where we differ, mah boy. Ah’m perfectly happy with the woman Ah am, an’ proud o’ what Ah’ve become. You let yoah sense of honor interfere too much with yoah emotions, Ezra, an’ as long as you do not, you can neither become a happy or wealthy man nor can you become th’ gentleman you should have been as mah son.”
Her words had cut him so deeply that Ezra had not appeared the following morning to escort her onto the stagecoach and out of town. He had watched from his room above the saloon as she had left and shut out the light, the day, and his mother’s retreating carriage all at once. If the town had not needed them shortly thereafter, he probably would have stayed right there in that room until Vin had needed them all this week.
But this week, he had saved his friends. He had saved them all, and not for the first time. He remembers, with a prideful smile curving his lips, the day he had first made the conscious decision to turn away from the man his mother had always wanted him to be. They could have all very easily died that day except for him. He had escaped. He had been far away from the battle to be save, and yet he had turned back any way and galloped back as fast as Chaucer could run to save six men he barely knew, a village of strangers, and the children who had been tugging at his heartstrings all week.
Maude thinks he regrets that day. She believed that he will come to regret everything he does for and with these men, but his mother is wrong. She’s barely ever known him, at least for the true man he is, and she doesn’t want to know the man he has become. She can not be proud of this man, a man who puts others’ lives ahead of his own and, worse still by her way of thinking, ahead of the “all mighty” dollar. She can not be proud of him, but he is proud of himself.
He may not be rich -- he may never be rich again, surely not by the way his finances and financial opportunities have recently been going --, but he has something better than wealth. He has something he’s wanted for as long as he can remember and never had. He’d had a few grand opportunities as a boy to procure this special kind of wealth, but his mother had completely ruined them every time. She is a bitter, old woman -- she has been for as long as he can remember -- and as she can not be happy, Ezra knows she does not want him to be happy.
But he is! He is for he has the grandest wealth in all the world and the one thing he’s always wanted!
Up ahead, Buck suddenly lets out a whoop. Their tired steeds start to surge forward faster with renewed energy and no needed encouragement from their riders. Even Chaucer’s strides become longer and faster. “HOME!” JD shouts with glee. “WE’RE ALMOST HOME!”
The word echoes behind him, and Ezra’s ears nearly prick forward like his horse’s. They’re almost home? That, Ezra knows, for the others, is Four Corners, but as he watches the other six men gallop faster ahead of him, he realizes he’s already home. His home isn’t a fine mansion, which his mother wishes it was so she could take it from him and a place he no longer wants. Nor is it a simple cabin in the woods or by the lake. It’s not a house at all.
A huge smile breaks out over Ezra’s handsome face, and his gold tooth gleams in the setting sun. He is home! Right here with these six men is where he belongs! He is home, and he is proud and content with himself and with what he possesses for although he may have few material objects left to his name, he possesses the grandest riches of life for which he’s always sought!
For as long as he can remember, he’s wanted a family and a home, a true home where he can be the man he chooses to be without fear of being forced out onto the streets or otherwise made to regret his charitable decisions. He’s wanted a family who chooses him not because they need him but because they genuinely want him. Chris took a bullet for him in this past week, knowing full well what he was stepping into and doing so not simply to be a hero or to make Ezra owe him but because he did not want to lose him. Josiah and Vin also saved him at different times, and he’s saved just as many of their team, their family.
Emotions ride thick and high in Ezra’s throat, but with a teary smile, he forces them down. Instead of crying, he yells out, sounding as eager as the Kid to get to their destination, but in the truth, the destination no longer matters. “You were wrong, Mothah,” he whispers as he chases happily after the others, “but then you were always wrong about me.”
Let her come again, he thinks. Let her to try to drive a wedge between himself and these men just as she’s always done every single time he’s come close to finding a family and forging a true future for himself. Let her try; this time, she will not succeed. He’s home! Right here, with these six brave, compassionate men, he’s home, and he’s home to stay!