A few days ago, Jeanette on the mag7gamblersandgunfighers list made an innocent little comment about there not being enough new Ezra fics. I froze as a bunny looked up and stared at me, calmly munching a carrot as it did. I breathed a sigh of relief as it looked away and continued eating its carrots, thinking I had gotten away. But then, dammit, the little bugger invaded my dreams! Yes, I swear to God, this came to me in a dream. Let it be known that not even your dreams are safe from these little hellions! Jeanette, I blame you for this. I also dedicate it to you! Hope you like it!

Title: I would take a bullet for you

Category: Gen
Universe: OW
Main Characters: Ezra and Chris
Rating/Warning: Not beta'd, minor language
Summary: Ezra proves just how loyal he really is

I would take a bullet for you

Ezra Standish was having a bad day. Not only had he been forced out of bed at an ungodly hour by a bunch of morons who thought it would be fun to rob the bank, but he'd also had a very expensive jacket ruined in the process. The day had only gotten worse with dismal luck at the game tables, followed by a very unpleasant argument with one Chris Larabee. Ezra had stormed from the saloon following the argument and had taken refuge in the Livery, seeking comfort in the calming presence of his beloved steed.

Finally, when he'd calmed enough that he thought he could take Larabee on again, he left the Livery and headed back toward the saloon. Halfway there, thought, he spotted the black clad sonofabitchen bastard down the street, leaning against a support beam and talking to one of the town's citizens. Ezra clenched his hands into fists, feeling the blood in his veins heating up as he stared at the leader of the rag tag group of men that-for reasons he could comprehend-he insisted on saying with. And for what? Risking his life, not to mention his fine clothing, for a mere dollar a day. Why was he not in St Louis with Maude making his fortune? Why the *hell* was he in this backward *nothing* of a town running with men he didn't even like?

Well…that wasn't entirely true. He *did* like the men he worked with. Most of the time.

'God, I need a drink,' he thought. Maybe after a drink or two…or eight, he'd be able to have a civilized conversation with Larabee. Or maybe he'd just leave town for a while. Tanner did it all the time, why couldn't he?

Sighing, Ezra turned to head for the saloon, stopping mid turn as a flash of light caught his eye. He looked across the street from where Larabee stood and up to the roof as the light flashed again. His eyes widened as he saw the man with the gun on the roof, hidden from Larabee's notice as he aimed at the man in black. Unfortunately, while Ezra could see him, their positions prevented the gambler from being able to take a shot, so he settled for shouting out a warning to Chris. But, *goddamit,* it seemed that fate was conspiring against him. A cacophony of sound burst from the saloon, combining with the noise of the Stagecoach charging down the street, successfully drowned out his urgent call.

Instantly, he knew what he had to do and that he had only precious seconds with which to do it in. The citizen was moving off and the Stage would block Larabee for a mere second or two before the gunman could take his shot. Ezra would have to move fast.

"CHRIS!" he screamed, running as fast as he possibly could toward the gunslinger, who had looked up with a startled expression. Time slowed down. Ezra's eyes met Chris,' the other man's eyes moving from startled to alarmed. The Stage seemed to float by and all sound vanished. All that mattered was getting to Chris. Then he was colliding with the blonde and everything came rushing back. The coach was a few meters past and Ezra heard an explosion as he barreled into Chris. Felt a searing, white hot pain in his upper back before more pain erupted as he and Chris ht the boardwalk with bone jarring force, limbs tangling up with one another. More sounds assaulted his senses in the form of screams and gunshots, then all went dark and silent.

It had been three days since Ezra had been shot saving Chris' life. Three days that Chris had spent in the Clinic, sitting by Ezra's bedside, waiting for the man to wake up. And thinking back on what had happened.

He and Ezra had fought earlier that day. Hell, it was nothing new, they fought a lot. Chris couldn't even remember what they had fought over now. All he could remember was the scared, panicked expression in Ezra's eyes as he had raced toward Chris. Of hearing the gunshot as the smaller man had crashed into him, and then realizing, even as a battle erupted, that Ezra had taken a bullet meant for Chris. The fight had ended quickly as the other men joined in, taking out the assassin in a matter of minutes. Nathan had raced over then, worry and fear filling his dark eyes when he discovered that the bullet had gone into Ezra's upper back, seriously close to his spine.

Having a stretcher brought over, Nathan had Ezra very carefully moved onto it, keeping him on his stomach, and brought to the clinic where he spent several hours trying to safely remove the bullet. He finally succeeded, but had no idea if the bullet had done any serious damage and wouldn't until Ezra woke up. Ezra hadn't stirred once during the whole operation and still hadn't now three days later.

The assassin, it turned out, had belonged to the group of idiots who had tried to rob the bank that day, but had not been part of the attempt. Apparently, he was as stupid as the rest of his friends for, instead of leaving town, he had decided to join the majority of his comrades in death. But not before attempting to take Chris with him. If it hadn't been for Ezra…

Pulling himself out of his reverie, Chris leaned forward in his chair, reaching out and gently brushing Ezra's hair back so he could better see the younger man's face. "Ezra," he murmured softly, "I know you like sleeping and all, but don't you think this is carrying it too far? It's time to wake up, pard. I owe you one for saving my life. Nate says that cowboy's shot probably would have killed me, and judging from the way you looked when you were coming at me, I think you knew it, too."

He paused, studying Ezra's too pale, pain lined face. "I have to admit, Ezra, I've never been all the certain just how far your commitment to this team went. Never really sure if I was gonna wake up one morning and find that you had decided to move on. Especially since you and I spend so much of our time at odds with each other. But, I want you to know, Ezra, that I do care for you. Just as much as I care for the others. Families fight and whether or not you realize it, we *are* a family and what you did for me just proves that somewhere deep down, you know that. It's probably what's kept you here with us, and Ezra…whatever happens with this injury, I'll be here for you to help you through it. We all will."

He looked up as the door opened and Nathan slipped in. "He wake up?" the Healer asked softly, seeing the position Chris was in.

The gunslinger shook his head. "Not yet," he said, straightening up. "Just giving him a little pep talk is all."

"A…appreciated," came a weak, raspy whisper from the bed, immediately drawing both men's attention to where a pair of exhausted, pain filled eyes looked up at them.

"Don't try to move yet, Ezra!" Nathan quickly ordered, closing the short distance to the bed. "I need you to tell me what you feel."

"Pain," came the slightly sarcastic reply. "Lots…of pain."

"I'll give you something for that in a bit. Right now, I need you to tell me if there's any part of your body that you can't feel."

A frown met that request, but after a moment, Ezra breathed, "I feel…everything."

Pulling back the covers so that he could see Ezra's legs and arms, Nathan said, "All right. Very slowly, I want you to move each foot, then your legs, followed by your hands and arms. Just a little bit, okay?"

There was another confused, questioning frown, but Ezra didn't give voice to the questions. Instead, he simply concentrated on doing what Nathan requested, very slowly moving each of his limbs. A relieved smile lit up Nathan's face. "You are one lucky bastard, Ezra," he said, nodding to Chris who helped Ezra take a few sips of water.

"Don't…feel lucky," Ezra moaned. His exhausted eyes sought out Chris as the man returned to his side. "But…God help me…I'd do it again. Do it…for any of…you."

A smile touched Chris' lips and, as Ezra's eyes drifted shut, he leaned in and whispered, "And any one of us would do the same for you. That's what brothers so, and I'm proud to call you my brother." As he leaned back to let Nathan fuss over his patient, Chris saw a smile cross Ezra's own lips and knew that the bond of brotherhood had just been strengthened and would only strengthen more in the coming days.

He had nothing to worry about. Ezra would be with them for a long time to come.

End