Surf n Turf
by Kelly G

A Horatio Hornblower/Magnificent Seven Crossover

Part One

May 8, 1867

Chris Larabee threw down his saddlebag, his action a mix of
aggravation and fatigue. After his horrible day he would just be glad
to get some rest and escape everything.

They had spent the day chasing the Bardwell gang all over the damned
countryside, as Buck had put it, and had absolutely nothing to show
for it. The gang had failed miserably in their attempt to rob the
town bank, leaving three of their gang dead. That the men had not
actually gotten away with any of the money made no difference to
Chris--they had dared to try to rob his town and fire at his men.
Gotten away? No, not if Chris had anything to say about it. He knew
that if he let the gang escape, then every piece of filth in the
territory would consider Four Corners an easy mark. Chris and his
team had to take those men in-whether to the jail or the
undertaker's, Chris didn't care. Thus they had spent their day
hunting the leftover Bardwells, only stopping to make camp because
the oncoming night would make tracking dangerous if not impossible.

Ezra Standish dropped his saddlebag across the fire from Larabee,
watching the man
with little interest. He removed his jacket, looking with irritation
at the dust that had dared to settle on the fine red material. Part
of him had been hoping that Larabee would allow him to remain in
town, to protect the place while the others were off traipsing all
over God's green earth in search of the pathetic miscreants who had
tried to rob the bank. But to his other half's satisfaction, Larabee
had decided that this job would take all of them --the town would be
safe enough under the protection of a few lawmen borrowed from Eagle
Bend. Though he complained about leaving his soft bed and poker
table, Ezra was secretly glad he had not been left out. He would
never admit it, but he loved riding with these men, it made him feel
like he was a part of something, something special. He knew he was
being sentimental, but it was true nonetheless.

"Where do you think they'll head next Chris?" Josiah asked, as he
began to heat beans over the fire Vin had started. Larabee rubbed
his chin, re-living the day's journey in his mind.

"I honestly don't know Josiah-they've been traveling so erratically,
hard to tell where they'll head next.

"Wouldn't they head to Mexico?" JD suggested as he helped Buck see to
the horses.

"Maybe, JD, but right now they're probably just tryin' to lose us,"
Vin commented, dropping his bedroll next to Chris.

"Best we can do is just keep after 'em," Nathan said, looking over at
Josiah to see if the beans were nearly ready.

"I don't know about Nate, but I don't want to spend the rest of my
life chasin' over God's creation for those damn fools."

"Though Mr. Wilmington states his position quite crudely, I must
agree with him," Ezra said. He sat down next to his bedroll and
renewed his attempt to clean his prized jacket.

"Yeah," Buck continued, fueled by Ezra's comment, "and think of all
the ladies that would be disappointed if we didn't return." At this,
Josiah, Nathan, and Vin chuckled while Chris, JD, and Ezra rolled
their eyes.

"You agree with Buck there, Ez?" Nathan asked, chuckling at the idea"
he already knew the gambler's answer.

"Absolutely not. I should think the ladies of the world would give a
giant sigh relief upon learning that Mr. Wilmington would no longer
be bothering them with his boorish advances."

"Women happen to love boorish advances," Buck commented as he and JD
joined the group at the fire.

"Yeah, right, Buck," JD said, giving him a shove.

"Watch where yeah goin' Kid," Buck said as he knocked JD's bowler off
his head.

"Hey Buck, watch it! I've only got one hat!" JD went after the
bowler as Buck took his pan of beans from Josiah and sat down next to
Chris.

"That was the point JD," Vin added, a small grin appearing on his
face.

"Vin's right Kid. I'm hopin' one day you'll get tired of that thing
and get a real hat."

"Not goin' to happen, Buck," said the young man. He took a spot by
Nathan that was across the fire from Buck in an attempt to keep his
hat safe from future mischief. Josiah shook his graying head at
their antics as he passed around the rest of the beans. Taking up his
own pan, he sat beside Ezra, who was dissecting his beans with his
fork.

"They're beans Ez, ya eat 'em," Vin commented. The tracker watched
his friend poke at his food for a moment, until Ezra raised his head
and looked at him cynically.

"I am well aware of what they are, Mr. Tanner, but I am as yet
uncertain as to whether or not the debate on their fitness for human
consumption will decide in their favor." Vin just shook his head and
turned back to his pan.

"Guess I won't be cookin' anymore," Josiah grumbled, though he knew
Ezra was just being Ezra.

"Oh, it is nothing against your skills as a chef, Mr. Sanchez," Ezra
assured him, knowing that Josiah was only teasing. "I simply prefer
food that does not move."

"They're beans Ez," Buck pointed out. "They didn't move before they
went in the pot so it stands to reason that they would not be movin'
when they got took out."

Ezra continued staring at his plate, not trusting in Mr. Wilmington's
accuracy as to the description of these particular beans, which <did>
appear to be in motion.

May 8, 1797-England

Horatio Hornblower hurried through the darkening streets of
Portsmouth, well aware that he was late. When he came to a street
crossing he looked quickly both ways, hoping that Archie's directions
were correct. He turned left and hastily resumed his journey, long
strides carrying him swiftly towards his destination. He was annoyed
at himself for
keeping Cat and Archie waiting-he hated being late. Horatio quickly
rounded a corner, nearly stepping on a discarded bottle and falling
on his face. 'The Hornblower grace' as Archie would call it.
Catching himself, he hurried on to the tavern, smiling with relief as
The Lion came into view. He hurried to the door, stopped to catch his
breath and make himself presentable, and entered.

It was not a fancy sort of place, and certainly no princes would dine
there, but it was lean and well taken care off-- a place where
officers and travelers would visit, not drunken laborers. The tavern
was empty at the moment, save for a table in the corner from which
came laughter enough to fill the room. Smiling, the usually stoic
Hornblower headed to the table where his two dearest friends sat.

"There you are, Horatio," Archie Kennedy said with a grin, motioning
to the seat across the table next to Cat.

"We were beginning to worry," Catherine Dunbar commented, her
spirited brown eyes communicating the truth in her words.

Horatio flushed with embarrassment as he took the chair beside the
fiery Scott. "I'm sorry about that. I was studying my mathematics
and mistook the time."

"Happens to all of us, Horatio," Archie said with a wicked grin.
Horatio could not help but return the smile, knowing that Archie so
hated mathematics that he would rather have been thrown overboard
than study it if he wasn't required to do so.

"I hope that I did not make you wait too long."

"Oh not at all," Cat assured him. "We have only just ordered."

"I ordered mutton and potatoes for you, Horatio, I hope that is all
right."

Hornblower nodded. "Thank you, that will be fine," not really caring
what his supper would be. With ordering and formalities out of the
way, Cat launched into a story detailing the latest foibles involving
the Scottish nobility. Cat's vehement hatred of
the hypocrisy of her class and the frilly girls who were her supposed
peers made her stories entertaining, if slightly shocking, to friends
who shared her views. Soon, Horatio forgot about the worries that
usually plagued him as Cat transported them all to the Highlands.

1867

It had begun to rain shortly after the men had called it a night.
What had started off as a drizzle quickly developed into a downpour.
Worse, it was accompanied by thunder and lightning. Though Vin was
supposed to be the one on watch, the others were awake as well-
excepting Ezra, who could sleep through anything. Vin sat hunched
under his raincoat with his rifle across his knees, while the others
huddled miserably beneath their blankets in an attempt to stay dry.
It was impossible to block out the noise. Vin pulled his hat down
over his blue eyes, sparing a glance toward the sleeping Ezra,
insensible to the booming thunder. Though he was drenched and
freezing, Vin could not help but grin at the Southerner, who seemed
able to escape most miserable situations by sleeping-anytime,
anywhere.

1797

The three friends shared a wonderful dinner, exchanging stories and
forgetting about the world outside the tavern. For a few hours there
was no war, no incompetent commanders, no dons, no orders, no
nobility--no unpleasantness at all. They were no longer a pair of
officers in the British navy or a Scottish noblewoman-for a few short
hours they were just three young people enjoying each others'
company.

When the chimes sounded nine Horatio knew that he and Archie should
be returning to the Indy. Archie grudgingly agreed, reminding
Horatio that they needed to escort Cat back to her inn. Sighing, the
three friends left the tavern, only to find that what had been a
clear day had turned into a stormy evening. The three stood under
the eaves, eyeing the storm.

"Think it will let up?" Horatio asked with uncharacteristic
optimism. He eyed the rain with caution, not liking it. Archie
thought that Horatio's distaste for rain had something to do with how
he first arrived aboard the Justinian.

"Does not seem very likely," Archie commented.

"We had best just run for it," Cat said. She usually enjoyed the
rain, running in it always seemed so adventurous. Also, she and
Archie had danced in it a time or two. But there was no adventure in
this rain-it was hard, cold, and biting as well as dangerous due to
the lightning. "The inn is not too far from here, we can make it,"
she said, pulling the hood of her cloak over her head. Her
companions nodded, putting on their hats and pulling their cloaks
closer about them.

"On three then?" Horatio suggested. Cat and Archie nodded.

"One," Horatio started.

"Two," Archie continued.

"Three!" Cat finished. They rushed into the street, their hunched-
over forms
splashing through the empty streets of Portsmouth.

The three turned down an alley, taking a short cut to the inn.
Suddenly, Horatio heard a deafening crash, like a thousand cannons
firing at once. Instinctively, Horatio threw himself at Cat and
Archie, protecting them as a brilliant flash of light exploded around
them. Despite the chaos surrounding him, Horatio found it extremely
odd that the three of them kept falling, never impacting the hard
cobblestones.

1867

A blaze of lightning sliced through the dark western sky, followed
immediately by a massive roll of thunder that made the men jump--even
Ezra, who awakened with a start, sitting bolt upright. The
southerner woke fully alert, and looked at his shocked companions in
confusion. shocked companions. Almost immediately, voices raised in
surprise and fear cut through the night, causing the seven lawmen to
reach for their guns as the voices grew closer. Realizing that the
sound came from above them, Vin and Ezra looked up into the sky
nearly simultaneously. The others followed their gaze, searching in
the darkness for the source of the voices that came from the
heavens.

Abruptly, the source of the shouting appeared from nowhere-a meteor
of limbs and cloth that landed heavily in the center of the camp
where the fire had been.

As one man, the seven turned their weapons on the object in their
midst-not that it noticed.

For a moment the mass lay dormant, but several forms slowly began to
extricate themselves from each other.

"Cat? Archie?" came a distinctively English accent laced with
worry. "Are you all right?"

"I think so," answered a hesitant voice with a hint of a Scot's
brogue in it. The men lowered their guns at the sound of a woman,
but kept them at the ready, not knowing what to make of these people
who had fallen from above.

The female voice spoke again, seemingly oblivious to the circle of
men. "I am not quite certain about Archie." Cat held out her hand,
allowing Horatio to help her stand up and gain her footing, else she
would most likely have fallen back on top of Archie.

"I am fine," spoke a tired voice near the ground. Cat kneeled beside
the form, eyeing him as one would a child who had been caught lying.

"Then why are you clutching your right arm?"

"It is nothing," Archie insisted, gritting his teeth. Cat and Horatio
exchanged unconvinced glances.

Archie!" Horatio accused as he stooped over. His voice was quiet, but
full of authority in an attempt to cover his concern.

Archie could not help but chuckle. "Are you giving me an order,
Lieutenant Hornblower?"

Horatio allowed himself a small smile. "Yes, I am, Lieutenant
Kennedy, so please tell the truth." He scowled as Archie continued to
smirk.

The audience of seven watched the bizarre exchange, uncertain of what
action to take. Buck Wilmington glanced around at his friends' faces-
were they seeing what he was
seeing? Relief flooded through him as he recognized that even Ezra's
normally impassive features showed signs of puzzlement. Well, if he
was going insane then at least everyone else was going with him.

Not knowing a better way to do it, Larabee let the three young people
know that they were surrounded the best way he knew how-by cocking
his pistol.

Instantly, the three friends looked up, Horatio reaching
automatically for his pistol. His hand stopped in mid-motion as he
noticed his surroundings.

Seven men formed a circle surrounding Horatio and his friends. One
of them stood slightly closer than the others, it was the tall fellow
whose cocked pistol pointed at the ground a few meters from where
Archie sat. Although the darkness made it impossible to see details,
Horatio could tell that they were armed and dressed in a way that he
had never seen before. The three friends stared, not knowing what to
think about the strange men or the strange situation in which they
found themselves.

The groups stared at each other uncomfortably-something about this
situation was seriously wrong.

Finally, Larabee broke the horrible silence.

"Who are you and how did you get here?"

Cat thought that the low, steely voice sounded distinctly American.
Also, she recognized the ring of authority in it, as did Archie and
Horatio. The three friends exchanged lances, seemingly to decide
which of them should speak for their party-a moot point because they
all knew that, as the commanding officer, Horatio need shoulder this
responsibility. Even if he had not been, Archie was injured and
surely this man would expect to deal with another male voice of
authority.

Horatio squared his shoulders and stood with his hands clasped behind
his back-an imitation of the most influential person in his life,
Captain Sir Edward Pellew. Sensing that the man in front of him
would find bowing unnecessary, he dispensed with this formality.

"This is Lady Catherine Dunbar," he began. "My name is Lieutenant
Horatio Hornblower of his majesty's frigate Indefatigable and this is
Lieutenant Kennedy, also of the Indefatigable. And, sir,] I must
honestly say that I do not know how we got here, or
even where <here> is."

Fourteen eyes stared blankly, until. . .

"Whooeee, kid. Where are you from?" Buck asked, breaking the spell.

"Obviously he hails from England," Ezra said before Horatio could
answer.

Buck looked at the gambler indignantly. "How the Hell would I know?
I've never met a limey."

"That is because you are unlettered and uncouth."

"Shut up, both of you," came Chris's low growl. He turned his eyes
back to the gangly figure who stood stiffly before him, noting that
the young man had placed himself such that he stood between Chris and
his two friends.

The man dressed in black was evaluating him, Horatio could tell--it
was like standing in front of Captain Pellew. The difference was that
he respected Captain Pellew and was deeply concerned that he would do
something to cause the man to lose faith in him. This man, he did
not even know this man. Yet, for some reason, he wanted this man's
pproval,
to earn his respect. Horatio took a deep breath, kept his shoulders
squared, and his eyes straight head ahead, as though on review in
front of his own captain.

Larabee glared at the young man in front of him, who appeared ready
for anything Chris could throw at him. Unlike those men who averted
their gaze due to fear, Chris knew that this young man was doing it
out of habit and respect. In the army, you looked straight ahead
while you awaited orders, and in the British navy as well, it seemed.
This 'Lieutenant Hornblower' was waiting for him to make the next
move.

The others observed this exchange in tense silence, not even noticing
that the storm was letting up. Cat and Archie watched the dark-
dressed man, their thoughts turning to Captain Pellew's gaze which
could dismast all but the most secure of people. Her eyes still on
the man in black, Cat felt Archie shudder in pain. It was time to
end this.

*****