The Magnificent Seven - ATF Alternat Universe

Dark Secrets Unlocked

Part 11

Silence descended around the campfire as Vin's question hung heavy in the air. Tension crackled and emotions were running high.

Ezra scanned the faces of the men around the fire. The men he'd lied to for two years, the men who had become his family, his brothers. Evaluating each man, Ezra could feel the old fear begin to resurface, the fear of losing what he had, of losing himself. He tried to read each man's eyes.

Josiah was first to fall under his scrutiny. He saw much in those blue eyes and none of it was good. At the moment guilt was the prominent emotion being displayed. Guilt over his failure twenty years ago, guilt over his lies of the past two years, guilt over what he had failed to save Vin from, guilt over what this was doing to his family. Along with guilt was sadness tempered by loss, shame, uncertainty and fear.

Looking toward Nathan, Ezra saw a burning anger. Had he not known the medic as well as he did, he would have worried about that emotion. As it was, he understood it too well. Nathan was angry about the lies he?d been forced to tell, angry at what had happened to his friend, his brother, angry at the uncertainty they faced and angry at the lack of response. Watching Nathan shoot a glare at Chris, Ezra also realized that Nathan was angry at Chris.

This gave the Southerner a moment's pause. Nathan was angry at Chris. Quickly reviewing the Leader's behavior, Ezra discovered he was not only shocked, but appalled. Shooting his own disapproving glare at the blond, Ezra felt his anger rise. Chris had not been vocal, but what he had said had been hurtful.

Looking in the green eyes, he read disgust for the man the Team Leader had called brother and best friend. He saw anger directed at Vin instead of at the monsters who deserved it. Ezra read betrayal. Chris felt betrayed and that was going to put them all in danger.

Wondering if Buck felt the same, he looked into the rogue's eyes and was heartened. In those eyes he read the heart of the man - compassion, understanding, love and support. He also read fear that he would lose his family as he had lost so much before.

Glancing toward JD, he saw the fear of losing his new found family combine with understanding and compassion for the Sharpshooter.

Finally looking at the Sharpshooter, Ezra read more than he wished to. Fear fairly poured out of the blue eyes; not just fear of losing his family an not just fear that Ezra would kill him. No, in those eyes he read the very real fear of a child, the very real fear of a man afraid of himself, his abilities, his very being and most afraid of once more becoming what he had been before - a tool used with complete disregard to his own well-being.

As he absorbed this newly gathered information, he realized there had never been a choice to make. He realized there had never been any question. For Vin's sake, he wanted to come out and say "No!" For all their sakes, he would reveal the truth he had kept hidden from them all. Yes, it would prolong Vin's doubt, but he wanted to make sure everyone understood exactly what his decision was and why he would make it.

Looking at Chris, demanding the Leader's attention, Ezra waited for the green eyes to focus on him before beginning to reveal his own dark secrets.

"What I am about to tell you, I have never told another," he began. Taking a deep breath, he looked once more into the eyes of the people he'd allowed to become his family. "I would appreciate it if you never repeated this." He waited until he got nods of agreement from everyone


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