DISCLAIMER: The following is an original work of fan fiction based on the television series "The Magnificent Seven". No infringement upon the copyrights held by CBS, MGM, Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp. or any others involved with that production is intended. No profit is being made - enjoy!!

CAVEAT LECTOR: Before you ask, this is it for this AU, this is all there is, this is all there ever will be, and no, it will not be "taken further" or "built upon". I may occasionally write fluff bunnies in this universe for fun, but please don't take them seriously. Please do not ask me to write "serious" stories, or to extrapolate on the back-story, and please do not ask if you can write stories in this AU, or take it upon yourself to "add", "fix" or "explain" anything in this story/AU, and please leave the fanon I have created for this AU where you found it. This AU is CLOSED, just like the Third Kind OW AU that I am using as the basis for these "updated" characters. Please remember that all characters and situations that are unique and do not belong to MGM, Trilogy and/or Mirisch, or are otherwise credited to someone else, are copyrighted to the author.

"X" Marks The Spot

Eleanor Tremayne, Ezquire

"Pay the man, J.D.," Buck Wilmington instructed, unfolding himself out of the back seat of a yellow cab without losing his two-fisted grip on a case of Henry's Dark, the best substitute for real beer that could be found at a run-down Seven-Eleven in bum-fuck nowhere at 1:59 AM on a Saturday morning that had begun its life as a Friday evening beer with the boys at the Cantina.

"Sure," the kid agreed, swiping Wilmington's wallet from the back pocket of the older man's jeans. Secure in the knowledge that Buck would drop his pants during the National Anthem before he would drop the beer, J.D. ignored the accusations of bestial perversions Wilmington and his mustache were snarling at him.

Grinning, the cab driver opened the trunk where four extra large pizzas and a Styrofoam plate with two wilted California rolls strapped to it with plastic wrap lay more or less in good repair.

"Thanks, Tom," J.D. told the driver, handing him the sizeable fare and a thirty percent tip.

"What?" he demanded of Buck as he hauled the leaning tower of pizza boxes out of the back of the cab, balancing the Sushi with its red and black "marked down for quick sale" tape on top of the stack of soggy cardboard boxes. "I paid for the food, remember?"

"I bought the damn beer!" Wilmington countered.

"Tell it to Vin," J.D. suggested, staggering past Buck to join Tanner where he was taking the back way into the executive housing complex that Ezra was living in that week.

"We coulda walked in through the front gate," Buck reminded Vin.

"Need t'keep in practice," Tanner grinned, opening the back security gate wide enough to let the pizza boxes through. "This place ain't up t' Ez's usual standards," he observed.

"You sure about that?" J.D. demanded, looking around him at the neatly groomed miniature yards and two-story townhouses discreetly isolated by ruthlessly manicured trees and shrubs. Tanner looked affronted, and J.D. shrugged.

"You're drunk," the kid pointed out.

"I ain't that drunk."

"You sure about that?" Wilmington repeated, grinning.

"Easy way t'find out, Bucklin," Vin offered cheerfully, falling into a defensive pose.

Chuckling, Buck shook his head, refusing to take Tanner up on his amiable challenge: Neither one of them was tight enough for him to do something that stupid.

"Which one is Ezra's?" J.D. whispered.

"Far yonder," Vin replied, lifting his chin to indicate a blandly tasteful gray townhouse with the obligatory faux dormer and porthole window. "The one with the living room lights on at 2:30 in the mornin'."

"Doesn't look like Ezra would be living here," the kid said, shaking his head at the pedestrian pricey-ness of Standish's latest digs.

"Just thank God it don't look like where Ira would be living," Buck huffed, his mustache shuddering.

"Amen," J.D. and Vin solemnly chorused, their minds momentarily boggled by the memory of FBI agent Ira LoPorti, the first incarnation of Ezra Standish that they had met. Why they hadn't killed the sleazy sumbitch out of sheer self-preservation within a week of meeting him was just one of those mysteries of life that was destined to remain unsolved ~ and quite possibly frequently regretted.

"Might do fer Richie Rich,"[i] Vin mused, thinking back on the Second Coming of Ezra with a much fonder smile. Taking his Polaroid sunglasses out of his left hip pocket and putting them on as they walked toward the immaculate front lawn bisected by a cobblestone walk, he amended, "If'n he felt like slummin'."

"Lee Carter MacKenzie wouldn't be caught dead in the suburbs," J.D. disagreed. "The polo club is more like his idea of rubbing elbows with the common herd." He followed Vin's lead, juggling the pizza boxes to put on his own shades, though he wasn't quite sure why. Buck, having spent entirely TOO much time in Florida, had never taken his off.

"Common?" Wilmington echoed, raising an eyebrow.

"Ain't nothin' more common than new money," Vin said. "Trash get it into their heads that a few million spent on rickety ponies and a shiny pair of boots 'll give 'em class. Richie'd eat 'em alive, just fer the fun of watchin' 'em flop and squirt. Reckon Ezra's got that bone, too."

"Ezra likes McDonald's ice cream cones," J.D. announced, smothering a yawn behind his hand. "Says they make him wax nostalgic."

"For what?" Buck dared to wonder.

"I ain't askin'," Vin said with a grin, taking the heavy ring of the lion-headed doorknocker in hand and putting it to more than decorative use. It was a decent security door and they'd hung it properly, so Ezra could look beneath surface dreadful to value solid workmanship, unlike his other known alter ego of the finicky Lord MacKenzie. Ira LoPorti wouldn't have cared about the carpentry; he'd have just rigged the door with Punji sticks and left any intruder to his fate.

Which, come to think of it, was one of the few similarities the real Ezra Standish HAD with the personality of his sleeper cover ~ they both loved to make things go ker-splat, and usually with one hell of a BOOM! to announce the occasion.

"Try the doorbell," J.D. urged, crossing one leg over the other. "I gotta use the head."

"There's bushes," Buck told him.

"They got stickers."

"You piss on 'em, kid, not in 'em," Buck sighed.

"I'm drunk," J.D. reminded him. "It's dark. They're Ezra's bushes."

"Probably electrified," Vin agreed, leaning on the doorbell. A steady electronic buzz greeted him, and he amused himself by using the bell and the knocker to beat out a flat, tinny, and loudly insistent rendition of 'The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You'.

Five minutes later, he was still waiting for the door to be answered and was trying through experiment to remember just how the Anvil Chorus went, anyway.

Ten minutes later, he was into the good bits of the 1812 Overture, with Buck and J.D. missing all their cues as the cannons.

Fifteen minutes later, the Bolshevik battle was over and Vin let the knocker fall back against the door. "My arms are gettin' tired," he announced. "Take over, kid."

Juggling pizza and sushi, J.D. traded places with Vin, leaning his shoulder against the doorbell to set up a constant electronic keening. Reaching into his back pocket, Vin pulled out a slender tool kit that would have passed for a wallet. Pulling out a wand flashlight and a slim lock pick probe, Tanner dropped to his haunches to bring himself face to face with the doorknob and the deadbolt.

"Good thing you're drunk," Buck opined, shaking his head in admiration at the temerity.

"Protocol's on my side," Vin said around the flashlight he was holding between his teeth. "Lights are on, car's in the garage, and he ain't answered to a racket fit t'wake the dead."

"Might satisfy Chris, but I have a feeling Ezra will argue the point."

Grinning, Vin clicked open the first lock. "Reckon that's Chris's problem."

"Funny thing about problems, Pard," Buck reminded him. "They tend to get passed down the chain of command."

"Reckon that's J.D.'s problem."

"Hey!" J.D. protested in a whisper as the second lock opened. Hand on the grip of the pistol tucked in his shoulder holster just in case, Vin carefully pushed the door open ~ and then the spotlights hit them in their faces.

Even with the protection of sunglasses, the powerful lights dazzled their eyes into seeing nothing more than black, block forms surrounded by patches of dim and bright.

"Ezra!" J.D. called through the door, standing up straight and silencing the buzzer at long last. "C'mon, Ez, I gotta go pee!"

The answer to his plea was a "snickt-click" from behind them, the sound of oiled metal against oiled metal as the slide of a Model 1911 Colt Peacemaker was drawn back to jack a round into its chamber.

"Gentlemen," Standish greeted them pleasantly, an ominous edge sharpening his Tidewater drawl. "The sanctified dead had best be risin' from their graves, unless you are lookin' to join their patient ranks."[ii]

Slowly, very slowly, beer cases, hands, and pizza boxes held high and in plain sight, Buck, J.D., and Vin turned around to face Ezra. He stood outside the pinpoint brightness of the spotlights, wearing nothing but a pair of boxer shorts and the Colt semi-automatic he held trained on their little group. The landscape lighting threw the tensed muscles of his body into high relief, and Buck found it a sobering sight. He'd forgotten the night he'd seen Standish incognito as Lee MacKenzie break a solid oak bookcase to kindling with his bare hands after a cell phone conversation with his mother, but Ezra's biceps flexing in rhythm with his breathing brought the memory back to Wilmington's mind rather forcefully.

"I gotta go pee," J.D. said again.

Ezra smirked, gesturing toward the thorny hedges with a quick jerk of the Peacemaker.

"C'mon, Ez, we saw the wire," Vin protested, and the Virginian's smirk became a full-fledged grin.

Moved by the desperation that only four pitchers of beer and a long, jolting taxi ride can produce, J.D. shoved the pizza into Vin's arms and headed through the open door into Ezra's townhouse, deciding that if he was going to pee his pants he was at least going to have the manly excuse of having his head blown off by a bullet or a lurking tripwire.

"Get back here, young man!" Ezra bellowed, leaping from the shadows for the doorway like a tiger to its meat, only to collide with an off-balance Vin, the pizza and the sushi. Pushing Tanner off him into the thorny shrubs beneath the front windows, Standish careened off Buck, who went down on one knee with a cry of distress for the endangered beer. Ducking under the spotlights, Ezra disappeared into the darkness beyond their brightness.

"John, no!"

Ezra's frantic and uncharacteristic cry made Buck abandon the beer on the porch and Vin forget about the fire-ant pain dancing through his body, quite drowning out the secondary agony of the thorny branches entwining themselves through his legs.

They went through the door low and fast, dividing the room between them, drawing their weapons with one hand and shoving their dark glasses on top of their heads with the other. They heard more than saw the bathroom door close behind J.D. and looked to Ezra for their lead. He was frozen in mid-stride, his shoulders hunched up around his ears.

"Wooooaaaahhhhh!" they heard J.D. cry, followed swiftly by an awed "wow!", the tone of which sent interesting prickles through Buck's mustache.

"Good Lord," Ezra growled between clenched teeth, the tip of his thumb dancing along his lower lip in agitation.

J.D. cleared his throat. "I've been drinking beer," he said, his voice only slightly muffled by the closed bathroom door.

"I guess you won't want any champagne then," a woman's amused voice answered.

"No, ma'am," J.D. said, and Ezra dropped his forehead into his free hand. After a long and awkward silence, the kid spoke again, his voice touching on its upper register.

"I gotta go pee...."

"Carry on, Sweetie," the woman said, with an affectionate sympathy that vibrated Buck's mustache up his nose.

"Thank you, ma'am," J.D. replied, his gratitude as palpable as the sounds of relief that followed seconds later.

"GOOD LORD!" Ezra strangled out, torn between wanting to stride into the bathroom and choke the life out of John Daniel Dunne, and dying of mortification.

"He's drunk," Buck explained, his voice shaking with laughter as he stood up. The seething look of speechless outrage that Ezra shot him made him laugh harder, and it took him three tries to get his SIG Sauer holstered properly.

"Good Lord," Ezra repeated, finally finding his voice as the unbelievable stretched into the interminable. "How much beer could he possibly drink?!"

"No more'n a couple of pitchers," Vin grinned, pulling a thorn from a place where no thorn had any business being. "Damn, Ezra, what d'you do when the paperboy misses the porch?"

"What?!" Ezra asked him, momentarily distracted from his horrified imaginings by Mr. Tanner's sudden personification of Non Sequitur. The loud roar of the toilet flushing quickly riveted his attention once more on just what was happening behind the closed bathroom door, attention that did not bode well for Mr. Dunne seeing his 25th birthday.

"Hands," the woman said, with just a touch of reproof in that voice that vibrated Buck's pelvic bones every time he heard it. At the sound of water running in the sink, Ezra made a noise that in anyone else would have been a whimper.

A moment later, a wide-eyed J.D. walked out of the bathroom. "Ezra," he said, stopping in front of his twitching host. "Ezra, there's a girl in your bathtub!"

Teeth grinding so loudly that it made Vin wince, Ezra started to shift his weight back and forth like a prizefighter.

"No, Mr. Dunne, I do not have a 'girl' in my tub," Ezra snarled, his voice low and dangerous. "I have a woman in my bath, a gracious, elegant lady who kindly spends the twelve hours a week she is in the continental United States with me. You and your fellow inconsiderate idiots have wasted at least twenty precious minutes of those twelve hours! I had plans for those twenty minutes...."

"Oh," J.D. said, blinking as he absorbed the reason why there was a naked woman sipping champagne in Ezra's Olympic sized Jacuzzi tub.

"Explain yourself!" Standish exploded. "So help me God, if civilization itself isn't endin' ~!!!"

"We brought you sushi," J.D. told him.

Ezra spluttered, his face looking very much as if it was trying to turn itself inside out.

"In case you don't like pizza," the kid elaborated helpfully.

"It was J.D.'s idea," Vin added, unable to resist stirring up a good bed of coals.

"What the hell are you wearing, Ezra?" Buck demanded, distracting Standish nicely if only momentarily from his homicidal intentions and drawing the others' attention to the fact that the red silk boxers Ezra wore slung slightly lower than decency would allow were emblazoned across their front with the battle flag of Northern Virginia.

"The token of a lady's affections," Ezra replied, his nostrils flaring, his shoulders squaring, and his abs flexing into iron. "And before you ask, Mr. Wilmington, yes, the South does ~ again, and again, and again, and rest assured that it shall and will whenever appropriate circumstance calls upon it so to do."

"That flag always was at its best when it was headin' North," Vin observed.

A low, throaty laugh came from the bathroom ~ followed shortly by the trilling whistle of "Dixie".

"Hoo rah," Vin said softly, raising his right hand palm up to the edge of his temple and saluting the bathroom door.[iii]

"One," Ezra grated.

"C'mon kid," Buck said, grabbing J.D. by the waistband of his jeans and tugging him along after Vin who was already waiting for them on the street. "We're leaving."

"But ~"


"Now, kid!"

"And lock the Goddamned door behind you!"


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[i] (c) copyright: Harvey Entertainment Company
[ii] This line is borrowed with some modifications from the episode The Collector, written by Michael Norell.
[iii] This is how the CSA saluted. I know I have the manual with the exact regulation somewhere, but I can't find the book at the present moment. I will post it here as soon as I do, but trust me, that's the way the Boys in Grey did it.