"You folks look lost."The leader,a tall black haired man commented as he came up to the bar.
Vin didn't turn around,"Nope."
Ezra didn't miss the fact that the music had suddenly stopped and that the bartender was no where insight.
"We don't like strangers here."The younger of the three said as he rested his hand on his gunbelt.
Vin took a sip of his beer before replying,"We're just passing through, we don't want any trouble."
The leader stepped forward,"I don't thikn you heard my friend here, we don't like strangers."
Ezra turned around slowly,"Gentlemen,your appalling manners aside all we are here for is a meal,some peace and perhaps a game of chance or two."
The leader shook his head as he glanced at his friends,"Boys,they don't hear to well. Let's give 'em a little lesson in respect."
By that time Vin had turned around knowing a fight was inevitable.
The younger of the three made the first move throwing a punch at Ezra. Standish easily sidestepped the blow knocking the boy out with one punch.
From there the fight was on.
+ + + + + + +
This time the soliders didn't attempt to block Buck's path into the sherriff's office.
Once inside Buck stopped short suprised to see JD was the building's only occupant.
Wilmington had figured Travis himself would have been guarding his prize catch.
"Go away Buck."
The soft voice nearly made Buck jump out of his skin. It was the first thing the kid had said to any of them since he had got back into town.
Wilmington walked over to the jail cell leaning against the door,"What the hell happened at Coral Canyon,kid?"Buck asked softly.
JD didn't move from the cott where he was laying on his back,"You were at the trial."
"I don't know the circumstances but I bet my life that little girl's death was not your fault."Buck replied.
"You just lost the bet."JD said as he sat up,"We're you listening? My gun, my bullet,my responsiblity."
"JD for once in your life stop being so damn stubborn!"Buck shouted forgetting his promise to himself not to get mad at the boy,"Forget about being noble and just start at the begining. What happened when you dropped the army dispatch off?"
JD looked at the older man who in the last few months had become so much more than a friend.
Buck was his mentor,his brother,the only family he had left.
JD turned away not being able to deal with the disappointment he was sure was there,"Just leave it alone,Buck."
Buck cursed silently, the kid could be more stubborn than a pack mule,"JD I know you think you've let us down some how. But everyone knows that there's no way you could have done what you think you've done. So give us a chance to help you. Tell me what happened after you dropped the dispatch off?"
JD glared at his friend then rubbed a weary hand over his face before he started pacing,"Fine. You want to know all the gory details of how I became a murderer?!"
Buck shook his head sadly,"Kid,I wish you'd stop thinkin' like that."
JD stalked over to the cell door,"Why not,Buck?! Its the truth!"
"Just start at the begining."Buck said softly.
JD sighed he really didn't want to dreg up the painful memories of that awful day.But maybe if he told Buck he'd find some peace.
"I never dropped the dispatch off."
Buck's head came up in surprise but he didn't interupt.
JD retreated to the cott and sat down heavily as the memories came flooding back,"When I rode into Coral Canyon it was deja vu. It was like the first time I saw Four Corners,all hell was breaking loose."
Buck frowned,"Where was Sheriff Caine?"
JD shook his head,"Caine wasn't sheriff then. They shot and killed the sheriff and his deputy."
"Who did?"Buck asked wondering why Travis didn't mention this piece of information.
"Richard Murray and his gang."JD replied softly.
+ + + + + + + ********************************************************************
Ezra's warning gave Vin just enough time to avoid the chair that the leader had started to bring down at his head.
As the chair splintered against the bar the sharpshooter gave the older man a right hook.
The man teetered but didn't fall he came back at Vin ramming him against the bar.
Ezra was about to lend his friend a hand having taken care of his opponent when four men rose from their table at the left side of the saloon.
"You boys are out numbered six to two,"The leader commented with a smug smile as he pulled a knife out of his right boot,"I reckon it might be time to reconsider your stay here."
+ + + + + + +
Chris Larabee had to do some fancy moves to catch the cup of coffee that Mary had just barely set on the Clarion's desk.
"I'm sorry,"Mary apoligized as she retrieved a towel to wipe up some of the coffee,"Guess I'm a little distracted."
"We all are."Larabee replied as he took a sip.
Mary absently picked up a pencil as she leaned against the desk shaking her head,"I still can't believe Orin actually sentanced JD to hang."
Chris nodded,"I'm begining to think we might not be able to wait for Ezra and Vin to get back."
Mary met his gaze,"What are you planning?"
Chris handed her the coffee cup before heading toward the door,"The less you know the better."
+ + + + + + +
JD turned away from Buck moving to the cell wall that faced the door of the sherrif's office.
"I didn't know that untill later."JD continued softly as he stared at what used to be his desk,"As I made my way farther into town I noticed that most of the action seemed to be centered around the bank."
Wilmington blinked not quite believing what he had just heard,"You were alone with no backup and decided to stop a bank heist?! I thought I taught you better than that!"
Dunne whirled around his hazel eyes flashing with anger,"Was I supposed to just stand by and watch them drag the teller out into the street and shoot him?!"
+ + + + + + +
As more men continued to join the fight Ezra noted that their options were lessing by the minute.
"If you have a plan of action,Mr. Tanner,"Standish commented between throwing punches,"Now would be an opportune time to announce it."
Vin shoved the man who had started the fight backwards enough so the tracker could get away from the bar.
The man didn't know when to give up,Vin thought wearily as he ducked another punch sending back two of his own.
"As soon as I come up with one,Ezra,you'll be the first to know."
"That is not very reassuring."Standish muttered as four men started to move in his direction.
Ezra backed toward the wall a plan of his own starting to form.
+ + + + + + +
Nathan Jackson had seen a lot of injustices when he had been a slave.
He didn't think anything could match that.
Of all men Nathan had never considered Orin Travis a fool.
Travis knew JD.
Knew what kind of man JD was.
Travis knew there was no possible way JD could hurt a child let alone murder them.
Nathan glanced up the street and saw Orin Travis walking toward the newspaper.
Josiah Sanchez followed Nathan's gaze and shook his head warningly,"Your words will only fall on deaf ears."
Nathan glanced at his friend,"Maybe,maybe not but someone has to say something to the man if JD won't speak in his own defense. What happened today was wrong,very wrong and something has to be done to change it."
+ + + + + + +
Buck shook his head,"No,you shouldn't have stood by and watched a man die. All I'm sayin' is there should have been other options."
JD nodded,"Should have been,but wasn't."
"None of the other townsfolk were helping?"Buck asked knowing that in a town the size of Coral Canyon somebody had to be an informal deputy to help the Sheriff.
The youth shook his head as he sank back down onto the cott,"Not that I saw. Buck it all happened so fast."He shook his head slightly and continued,"For some reason none of the Murray gang noticed me, guess they were all too caught up with the bank heist. I dismounted and ducked behind a horse trough watching as they dragged the teller out into the middle of the street.
Murray was inside the bank conducting the robbery so his second in command Miles Tilson was left with the job of killing the teller. I stood and got a shot off at Tilson but it went wide. I heard a click behind me and whirled around in time to shoot one of the robbers."
Buck frowned,"How did the girl come into this?"