Title: The Truth Is Immortal (5/6)

Summary: During a gunfight Chris is hurt trying to protect Ezra not realizing that he is Immortal. Ezra is torn between telling the others about his Immortality and leaving town to prevent anyone else from getting hurt.

A/N: This is the sequel to Child of My Heart.

A/N: Just a reminder: The Mag7 boys know Ezra's cousin Charlotte by her current alias: Pearl Black

The Truth Is Immortal: Chapter 6

JD was at the end of his patience; though according to Buck that wasn't a very long trip. He'd been anxious about this confusing situation since they'd found Ezra searching for his saddle in the livery.

First Chris's temper had almost ruined the whole thing, then Ezra and Mrs. Black had started fighting over a stupid knife, and now Ez had called her Charlotte. Nothing made any sense to him.

"Who's Charlotte?" It had seemed like an innocent question, but the look that Mrs. Black had sent Ezra told him that it was part of the mystery.

"That is an interesting question, JD," Ezra said. "Charlotte is – well you see –"

"Oh for goodness sake," Pearl said and grabbed the knife from Ezra. Before anyone could stop her, she plunged the knife into her chest.

JD stood transfixed as Ezra caught his cousin and lowered her to the ground. "That was completely unfair," he snapped at her.

"Now you explain it," she gasped. "I'll be back in a bit." Her head rolled to the side

Nathan was at the fallen woman's side immediately as the others moved closer as well. Chris struggled to his feet.


The healer looked up at Chris and shook his head.

The gunslinger's fury erupted. "Why the hell would she do that, Ezra?" he yelled. He tried to reach for the gambler but lost his balance. Vin was at his side immediately to settled him back onto the pew as Chris grimaced in pain.

Buck took over when he saw that Chris was incapacitated. He grabbed Ezra by his jacket, yanking the smaller man to his feet. "What the hell just happened here?"

Ezra shrugged out of Buck's hold and straightened his jacket. "What happened is that my cousin took advantage of my distraction to perform the demonstration leaving me to the explanation."

"So start explaining," Chris growled.

Ezra took a deep breath. "You have chastised me for taking too many risks during our recent encounters--" he began.

"What does that have to do with this?" Nathan demanded. "Your cousin just killed herself and you're angry with her! Don't you care?" Nathan was furious.

"I am attempting to lay the foundation for the explanation, if you don't mind."

"How can you be so heartless, Ezra?" Josiah asked. Kneeling next to Pearl's body, he hesitated before removing his knife and tossing it aside as if unable to bear the touch of it.

"I'm trying to tell you," Ezra snapped

Mrs. Black had killed herself right in front of them; JD was stunned. His first thought was for Jemma and the other Black children: who was going to tell them their mother was dead? It confused him that Ezra didn't seem to care.

JD couldn't stop himself from thinking about his own mother and that feeling of loss. He continued to struggle with his emotions but lost the battle as he felt a few tears slip down his cheek as his anger built. "Just tell us!" he shouted over the din of the other's interrogation of Ezra. "Don't need no long winded story."

The arguing stopped as the others all faced him. JD tired to hide the fact that he'd lost control of his emotions; he hugged his arms around his body and glared at Ezra.

"JD, do not be upset," Ezra said sympathetically as the gambler approached him. "Pearl will be back within the hour. She can not die permanently because she is Immortal."

He stared at the southerner. "That ain't funny, Ezra."

"It is not meant to be."

"What do you mean Immortal?" Chris demanded.

"My cousin and I can die, but we do not stay dead," Ezra said, turning to look at the others. "We can heal from any wound almost instantaneously."

"You were shot this morning, weren't you?" Vin asked.

"You don't believe this?" Chris asked the tracker

"Actually I do," Vin confirmed. "Ez here had a fresh bullet hole in his new jacket this morning. No way he gets a hole in his jacket in that location without taking a bullet to the back."

"You are correct, Vin. In attempting to get Chris to safety, I was shot in the back."

"I wouldn't have guessed you was an Immortal, but I knew som'ing was off about that bullet hole," Vin said as he smiled at Ezra, confirming his acceptance of the situation.

The others stood silently absorbing this information. Pearl wasn't dead. JD wasn't sure he could begin to believe that until he saw her breathing again.

"So when you saved JD last month and Chris thought you were gut shot, you really were?" Nathan asked

"That hole in your coat that ya showed me; that bullet hit you," Buck added.

"Yes, I was shot and it took quite a bit of stalling to prevent y'all from discovering what had happened until I had healed." Ezra grinned, obviously proud of his deception.

"That's a helluva nifty trick." Buck said, gratitude for the ability which had saved his friend in his voice.

"You took a bullet for me?" JD couldn't believe he'd done that.

Ezra nodded. "I was happy to do it, JD. I couldn't be killed and you might have been. How could I allow that to happen when I knew I could prevent it?"

"Thanks." JD knew it would never be enough but it was all he could offer. If Ezra hadn't jumped in front of that bullet, he might be dead. JD was overwhelmed by that thought.

When Charlotte woke up, Ezra was going to kill her! They'd been ready to throttle him until he'd finally been able to share the truth.

He was grateful for Vin's powers of observation. The tracker's belief had calmed the others. It had actually been enjoyable watching the realization dawn on them that he was serious.

Except that now, JD was looking at him like he was his new hero and Buck was a little bit as well. He hadn't saved JD for that kind of admiration; in fact he wished the kid would stop staring at him that way.

"I know you have many other questions," Ezra said.

"That is an understatement," Josiah said. The preacher looked shaken as he plopped into one of the pews. "How is this possible?"

"I really don't know," Ezra admitted.

"Why tell us now?" Chris asked.

"I think you know the answer to that question." Ezra gestured to the gunslinger's leg. "You were hurt trying to save me. A gesture, while much appreciated, was completely unnecessary."

"My god, Ezra, you care about us don'cha." Buck was still grinning at him. "I said you were one lucky son of a bitch and that made us lucky. Guess I was right."

"I think you are overstating the significance of my actions," Ezra insisted, trying to deflect the depth of emotion Buck was accusing him of feeling.

"Buck's right. You've been protecting us. Taking crazy risks so we didn't have to," Nathan said with awe in his voice. Ezra was sure he'd had never heard that respectful tone of the healer's directed at him.

He was becoming unnerved by the responses from his compatriots. He had hoped for acceptance but had not allowed himself to believe it possible. He'd lived so long under a cloud of mistrust; he wasn't sure what this new found admiration really meant.

"But why didn't Pearl want us to know?" Josiah asked.

"I will let her explain her exact feelings about that. Just know that Immortality isn't always viewed in a positive light."

"She thought we'd reject ya. Think ya were freaks."

Ezra had ceased to be amazed by Vin's ability to read between the lines. "You have inferred her motivations correctly," he admitted. "She feared your reactions."

"Hell Ez. That's jest wrong thinkin'," the tracker said. "Ain't gonna change the way we see you or her."

"It has happened to many Immortals in the past. They've been accused of using witchcraft; of being abominations against God." He directed this last statement toward Josiah wondering how the former preacher was handling his revelations.

"Abomination? No, don't think that." Josiah shook his head as a small smile broke across his face. "Figure He's got a wicked sense of humor though."

"I would appreciate if you would share those sentiments with my cousin when she awakes," Ezra said. He allowed himself to enjoy the knowledge that Charlotte's fears were unfounded.

Nathan gestured toward Charlotte. "Did it hurt?" he asked.

Ezra nodded. "We feel the pain just as you do, which is why I did not want my cousin to perform this demonstration."

The questions continued to come in rapid succession. Ezra explained all that he knew to the best of his ability, all the while silently cursing Charlotte for abandoning him to this task for which he felt completely unprepared to handle alone.

The inquiries about Charlotte he put off, suggesting that they needed to ask his cousin about her history. He did explain the basic concept of the Game, the need for a violent first death to trigger Immortality, the ability to sense other Immortals and the finality of decapitation.

Then JD asked the question Ezra had been dreading. "How old are you? I mean how long have you been Immortal?"

"Well, I've been Immortal for about three months," he admitted and waited for the shock to wear off.

"You died this past Spring?" Nathan asked. "How?"

"I would rather not say; it was something of a traumatic experience."

"Does Maude know?" Again JD seemed to be asking all the questions he didn't want to answer.

Ezra really did not want to talk about his mother. This was one aspect of his confession he'd neglected to account for. He was saved from answering when he felt Charlotte's buzz return. It was about time.

He smiled at his friends and moved to kneel beside his cousin. "She's reviving," he told them.

Chris had sat silently on the pew listening to all that Ezra had to share. His mind was still reeling from the idea that they were Immortals. He'd barely taken his eyes off of Pearl's lifeless body as he absorbed every word of the conversation going on around him.

He had questions, lots of questions, but couldn't bring himself to voice any of them. He wondered who decided that some could cheat death and others could not. Why Pearl and not Sarah? The dark thoughts swirled in his mind and he shook himself trying to force them away.

It didn't seem possible that she would return to life, to be able to breath and laugh and make pie once again. He found himself smiling at that thought, which chased away the brooding he'd felt himself falling toward. This beautiful, maddening woman would never die and he was both fascinated and conflicted by that thought.

Then Ezra announced that Pearl was waking up. Chris stared at her and could see the signs that life had returned. She sat up with a gasping breath and looked around; the fear he had suspected earlier plain on her face. Then just as quickly it disappeared as she composed herself.

She took several deep breaths before she settled her gaze on Ezra. "Well, dearest, how did they take it?" she asked as he helped her to her feet.

She was a bit unsteady and Ezra helped her settle onto the pew next to Chris.

"You don't have to worry, Miz Black," Vin was the first to speak. "Ez explained everything."

The others quickly chimed in their understanding and acceptance of the situation. JD had moved to sit on Pearl's other side; his eyes filled with wonder. As if sensing his need for proof, Pearl leaned to give him a quick hug.

"It's really me," she assured him. The kid lit up like a Roman candle.

Chris watched Pearl take in their acceptance. She really had expected them to what? Burn them at the stake, send them on their way? He didn't know whether to be angry or disappointed by her lack of faith in them.

Sensing his scrutiny, Pearl turned her unspoken question to Chris.

Instead Chris looked up at Ezra. "You figure on staying around now?"

Ezra frowned as he studied the two before him on the pew. "She was only trying to protect me. There is no reason to be angry with her."

Chris narrowed his gaze. "I know that. This ain't about her. It's about you leaving in the middle of the night thinking we wouldn't understand this Immortality stuff."

Ezra remained silent as if he still didn't understand the question.

Buck chuckled. "Chris is mad you didn't trust us the way we trust you."

"Trust me?" Ezra squeaked out.

"Wouldn't ride with you, if we didn't trust ya," Vin said simply.

"So you staying or going?" Chris was enjoying the gambler's discomfort. He knew that Ezra had trust issues. Hell, they all did, but he wouldn't have fought so hard for the man to stay if he didn't trust Ezra to watch his back.

Ezra had been right to tell them. His crazy stunts had been escalating and sooner or later one was gonna backfire. Chris had put it all together and knew exactly why Ezra wanted to go. He would have some choice words for Pearl later, out of Ezra's earshot. After everything that had happened today, she'd been proven wrong and needed to better understand the dynamics of their group.

"I thought it was obvious," Ezra said, that smug smile that Chris hated back in place.

Chris just glared at him, unwilling to let the southerner get out of saying the words.

"I am staying," he finally admitted under the unrelenting glare.

"Good." Chris said and then turned toward Pearl. He saw the hesitancy in her eyes, wondering what he had to say about her Immortality. Instead he smiled and asked, "You got any of that pie left?"