Characters: JD, Vin, Buck
Summary: A series of 'missing scenes' for the original OW series from the author's and JD's POV
A JD POV for a missing scene for each episode was brought to the table and I couldn't resist! So here is the eleventh of, I hope, one for each episode.
All comments welcome.
My thanks to Nancy and Blackraptor for the transcript archive.
And to the Muse7 girls for their encouragement and friendship.
JD Dunne exited the jail and inhaled the mix of smoke and night air. Stepping off the boardwalk, he ambled down the center of the street. He had no plans to go anywhere in particular, JD just couldn't face sitting in the jail any longer. Each time he looked at the empty cells, he could see Vin inside, and pacing like a caged wolf. He had only been allowed inside once while Vin was waiting to be escorted to Tascosa by Federal Marshall Yates or whoever he truly was but once was enough. The look in Vin's eyes haunted him. A mix of fury, frustration and determination had burned deep within those flashing blue orbs, Vin was gonna make a run for it, he just needed a lucky break.
Not that Tanner was a coward. He wasn't afraid to die, just not like that without so much as a chance to argue his case. JD shook his head. There was no way on God's green earth would he believe Vin would kill someone in cold blood, and JD was mighty relieved when whispers between his friends and fellow peacekeepers suggested a plan was in motion. But time passed, and JD realized no ideas had been put forward; and when Vin was about to be led out of town, apart from Chris, the others had just stood there and watched. What sort of a plan was that?
JD had been settling a small disagreement in the saloon when word reached him Vin was on the move. He had hurried along the boardwalk, expecting, any second, to be involved in gunplay. Instead, he was greeted by all his friends bar Chris, standing or sitting around and watching the so-called Federal Marshal and his deputies lead Vin away. JD had waited looked for a sign, but as realization set in that nothing was about to happen, panic rose in his gut, and a surge of anger against the Marshal and his men took control.
In that moment, all he could think about was stopping the group from leaving and taking Vin away from them away to certain death. Snatching up a rifle, JD recalled yelling out something about the others just standing there, to then find himself in the middle of the street and blocking the riders' exit. Mary had yelled to him, he vaguely remembered Buck and Josiah stepping forward, but it was too late, JD Dunne was way past the point of backing down. It was do, or die.
From atop his horse, Vin had called softly to him given a shake of his head, but JD was on a roll, he just hoped the look in Vin's eyes right then was what he thought it was, one of well, maybe not gratitude, or even admiration, but it sure didn't look like anger. Shoot maybe it had been pity.
That thought had JD scuff at the ground with his boot as he walked, sending a rock careening along the dusty street. He stopped and looked up. He had reached the end of town. Sighing heavily, he stared out into the inky, shadowy blackness. Things had come to a head real fast after Vin left. No one had time to reflect, they were soon too busy trying to find Eli Joe.
And now the snake was dead. Vin was beside himself, losing the only person that could clear his name; and by the bullet of a man who cared deeply enough for Vin to save him from losing his own life in order to safeguard his innocence. JD's friends were acting strange. Buck seemed mad at him, Josiah too JD chewed the inside of his lip at least, that's how it seemed. They sure weren't talking much this evening mind you, come to think of it, no one was, and Chris and Vin hadn't been seen since just after Eli Joe's body had been carted off to the undertaker's. That particular thought had JD strike out at another rock, just seconds before a sound from the shadows caused him to start for his guns.
"Be obliged if you didn't shoot me."
Squinting into the gloom, JD could see the intermittent red glow of a lit smoke. "Chris?"
Before JD could move toward the voice, a gentle hand settled on his shoulder, causing him to jerk.
"Just lettin' you know afore you draw again, I'm here, too."
`Vin'. Jeeze, these two moved like ghosts, while he kicked rocks around announcing to anyone within a mile radius he was in the area. JD suddenly went a little bashful. "Uh, sorry fellas, didn't know you anyone was out here sorry." Embarrassed he had likely interrupted a private talk, JD went to move back into town, but Vin held firm.
"Was hopin' to run into you, sometime soon."
Turning, JD frowned at the shadowy figure next to him. "Me? Why?"
"'Bout what you did."
The young sheriff's heart sank. He guessed he had it coming, he just figured Buck would rip into him first. "Look, before you start in on me, I just need to say well aw hell, I don't know what I need to say. I shoulda known the others had a plan that Chris had figured out what to do, but I didn't know about any of those things for sure, and when I saw `em all standing around and you tied up and heading out " He sighed and bowed his head. "Sorry." The crunch of gravel behind him alerted JD to Chris's immediate presence.
"You're sorry you wanted to save my life?" Vin asked unexpectedly.
It couldn't be seen, but JD paled. "What? NO! No, not at all, just well, everyone's real torn up about what happened to you, and mad at me and I don't know how to put it right." JD massaged the sore spot close to his neck on his right shoulder where, during JD's confrontation in the street with the Marshal, Josiah had dug his fingers in, before tossing him toward Buck.
"Nothing to put right," Chris drawled. "What's done is done. No one's mad with you, just sore it ended badly."
"Coulda ended worse," JD stated as a matter of fact. "Vin's still here, ain't that what counts?" A flash of white in the dim light suggested to JD that Vin might have actually just grinned. He felt a soft thump to his back and heard the chink of Chris's spurs as he walked away.
"Did I make him mad too, now?" JD asked as he watched Chris saunter back along the street.
"What is it with you and thinkin' you done got people mad at you?" Vin asked, urging JD to walk with him.
"What is it that makes me have to work twice as hard to figure out what the hell you fellas already know or plan to do?" JD sighed. "I got so angry, Vin. I ain't never felt that way before not like that, anyway. Those jumped up nobodies had you Vin Tanner, trussed up and tied to a saddle horn like you was some kinda outlaw. It made me so mad." Passing the first street bonfire, JD could now see Vin clearly. He stopped walking and looked the tracker in the eye.
"Scared?" Vin asked.
"Uh huh. You " he shuffled his feet, awkwardly. "You're always so in control. I know you don't think it, but a lot of people in this town respect you, but those men had you tied up and on show for all the town to see. It wasn't right you don't deserve that " The words he had yelled at Mary just seconds before confronting Yates, echoed in his brain >>'That's Vin Tanner Missus Travis! You're not taking him, Marshal!'<<
JD's voice softened. "I didn't want you to die at the hands of people who would treat you that way." There was an awkward pause. "And yeah I know the others didn't, either. I mean shoot, Vin, I ain't ever met anyone braver than you and the fellas, but I dunno "
"Somethin' inside of ya just 'snapped'."
JD nodded. "Yeah." He shrugged. "And now everyone thinks I'm a hothead."
Vin's eyes flashed with rarely shown emotion. "No, they don't. Did you scare `em? Yeah, I reckon so. Those men you were callin' out woulda cut you down in a heartbeat, and I was all tied up, unarmed, and in the middle of `em no way for the fellas to be shootin' at Yates and his gang to stop `em takin' me, or hurtin' you, without me bein' slap bang in the thick of it."
JD closed his eyes as he grasped what Vin was referring to. "Aw hell "
"That said " Vin waited for JD to look at him. " I thought what you did was one of the pluckiest things I ever saw. I've known you and th' others watch out for me before, but in that one moment, I've never been more afraid for you, more proud of you, or more honored to call you my friend." With a tight, dimpled smile, a nod of his head, and a soft punch to JD's arm, Tanner walked toward the saloon. He turned back before entering. "And don't be too hard on Bucklin. He said you'd go along with whatever took place on the day. When he saw you walk out into the street, he about had a conniption." He grinned. "Maybe you won't always get it right, Kid but we know what drives you, `cause it drives us too. Just know we got your back."
It took a moment or two for JD to register Vin's words, his jaw hanging open as he watched Vin disappear into the saloon, and their meaning sink in.
"Likely to swaller a firefly you stay like that much longer." Buck stepped out of the shadows, down off the boardwalk, and approached the younger man. "You done beatin' yourself up, now?"
JD snapped his jaw shut. "Oh, you talking to me, now?"
Buck dropped an arm around JD's shoulders. "I've always been talking to you, Kid just ain't the best night for conversation."
JD scowled, pointed after Vin, then, narrowing his eyes, he stared at Buck. "Why, Buck? Didn't you think I could handle what you were planning? Don't you trust me?" He failed to hold back the flash of hurt in his eyes. "When I saw Vin out there in the street like that and you all were "
The man nodded. "I know, I know, and it ain't about trust, Kid. You weren't there with us when Yates decided to move out. It was earlier than we expected, and we hadn't come up with even a half decent plan. Chris decided right then that he'd go alone figured if we all just lit out as soon as Yates left, it would've put Vin in a tight spot. Hell, if I'd 'a thought for one minute you'd 'a marched on out into the street like that " Straightening to stand in front of JD, Buck rubbed a hand over his weary features. He really didn't want to think about it anymore, and how, in that few seconds, he went from heart-stopping fear, to mad as a hornet. He was still thanking the good Lord that, for a big man, Josiah was fast on his feet. And now? Now he felt a mix of pride, and exasperation. This kid his kid, was turning his hair gray. But he also knew, he wouldn't change a thing.
Resting his other hand on JD's shoulder, Buck hunkered down to look him in the eyes. "Look, it's been a rough coupla days, let's just drop it and go get a drink, huh?"
Glancing toward the saloon, JD nodded. He knew Ezra and Buck had been battling their own demons while Vin was struggling with his. There was a lot of mending to do. JD hoped he could still help Buck; he hadn't been there much for him up to now. "So, you don't wanna talk more, now?"
Buck squeezed the shoulder under his hand. "What I want now is for all us boys to have a drink together, and put what's done behind us." He smiled at JD and guided him toward the saloon. "Was thinkin' on taking a ride out tomorrow, shake off the dust from the last few days then maybe talk some more. You interested?" He chuckled at the slow, wide grin that greeted his words.
"Try and keep me away!"