The red haired man pushed himself away from the table a grim smile crossing his face,"There's only one kind of justice for that little girl. An eye for an eye,a life for a life."
The teen raised an eyebrow,"He's got an appoitment with the hangman,Boss. Why does it matter who puts him in the grave as long as he gets there?"
The red haired man crossed over to the younger man grasping him by the shirt collar and slamming him against the wall,"Because if we leave this to the so called law the execution won't happen! As sure as the sun rises tommorrow his friends will break him out and I'll be damned if I let that happen!"
+ + + + + + +
"I thought you were against a jail break?"Josiah asked softly as he picked up his hat from one of the pews.
"That was before this whole mess got out of control,"Chris replied as he walked to the church's doorway and looked out at the town,"When I thought we had time to wait for answers."
Josiah was about to reply when Buck walked into the church.
Wilmington walked over to Larabee a grim expression on his face,"Travis still in town?"
Chris nodded,"Yea, he's staying......"
"Tell him I quit."Buck interupted bitterly as he stalked over to the window,"No forget it I'll tell him,along with a few other things!"
"You got it."Chris stated softly as he walked toward the center of the room.
Buck turned to his old friend puzzlement momentarily wiping away the bitterness,"Got what?"
"Your jailbreak,"Chris replied as Josiah came to stand next to him,"We'll leave this town and never look back."
+ + + + + + +
"Still we feel we owe a debt to you,"Ezra replied as he stepped forward,"If not for your intervention........."
"Had nothing to do with you,"Colleen interupted as she started the task of cleaning up the broken glass,"Miller is a lousy drunk,he's busted this place up more times than I can count. I just didn't want to have to clean up blood."
Vin sensed that if they didn't leave now she'd never help them find out what happened with JD,"Thankyou all the same,Ma'am."He replied softly as he tipped his hat.
Ezra for once took the hint and started walking toward the door. The gambler paused in the doorway turning back toward the young woman. He nodded as a silent thankyou before turning and quietly exiting the saloon.
+ + + + + + +
"NO!"JD's strained voice echoed through the jail as he was jerked awake from yet another nightmare.
Only this nightmare he could never change the outcome of.
JD thought miserably as he slumped back against the wall,his body covered with sweat. Leaning forward he rested his elbows on his knees as he covered his face with his hands,waiting for his breathing to return to normal.
Once his body calmed down JD stood and walked over to the cell bar resting his arms on the cool bars.
He knew why Travis hadn't set the hanging for immeaditely after the trial.
That would have made the punishment too easy.
The three days would allow JD to be alone with his thoughts.
Alone with his nightmares.
The nightmare that was always the same.
A small blonde girl running out into the street,the sound of his gun going off.The girl crumpling to the gravel,never making it to her sixth birthday.
All because he tried to play hero.
Angerily JD punched the bars with his right hand. He winced as pain richocetted up his arm.
Why had he thought he could control that situation?
He had heard from Chris and the others how caculating and cold the Murray gang could be.
How many times had Buck drilled it into his head that you never go into an unknown situation without some kind of backup. If you didn't have backup you at least had a plan.
But JD had neither when he had rode up Coral Canyon's main street.
JD shook his head what was he supposed to do just let that man die? It had never been in his nature to stand by and watch another person suffer.
Nursing his injured knuckles JD turned slowly away from the cell wall. He never saw the torches approaching the sherriff's office or the many shadows that entered through the back door.
+ + + + + + +
Two hours before dawn Buck Wilmington checked his gun one more time as the four men entered the alley next to the sheriff's office. He glanced back at Chris who gave him a nod which ment for Buck to go ahead and enter the building.
Buck acknowledged his friend before taking a few steps forward and grasping the door handle.
Buck entered the small building first followed by Chris,than Nathan, and Josiah bringing up the rear.
Before the gunslinger could get two steps the front door of the sheriff's office slammed inward.
Martin Cooper strode angerily into the room a torch in one hand and a colt in the other,"Back off Wilmington! I will not allow my little neice to go without the justice she deserves!"
JD stood walking over to the cell door,"Buck,get out of here."
Buck straightened so his gun was more visible,"And leave you to this lynch mob,not a chance."
Chris moved so he was standing at Buck's right,"Cooper,I understand your grief,but this is not the way. Give us forty eight hours, we will find out who really killed your neice and bring them to justice. I promise you that."
Cooper laughed as he leaned against the corner of the sheriff's desk,"Let me think about that for a moment......."He glanced at his men as he cocked his gun,"The answer is no."
Before anyone could move Cooper raised his gun and fired.
"Scatter!"Chris shouted but the warning came too late.
The bullet caught Buck in the left shoulder.
Chris caught his friend as Wilmington stumbled.
"Easy,"Chris admonished softly as he moved Buck behind the wooden post near the door,"How bad you hit?"
Even though his shoulder felt like it was on fire Buck waved Nathan off who had started to move from his cover of the half open door.
"Just a scratch,"Buck replied through gritted teeth.
JD saw Buck fall and fury welled up inside him.
The young man stalked over to the cell wall that faced the front door.
"Leave them alone!"JD shouted as his hands gripped the cold bars,"They have nothing to do with this!"
Cooper stood as he tossed the cell key to one of his men,"They made themselves a part of this when they tried to obstruct justice."
JD swallowed hard in a futile effort to control the emotions that were threatening to overwhelm him. The young man glanced at the huddled form next to the pilar and fought back fear when he didn't see Buck move.
JD forced his attention on Cooper vowing that no matter what happened that night there would be no more bloodshed because of what he had done.
"Cooper,"JD called surprising himself with how calm his voice sounded,"You're here for me. I'm the one who killed your neice, let them go."
In a strained movement Buck caught Chris's attention with his good arm,"Chris,"He said in a soft pain filled voice,"Don't let him get his head shot off before we have a chance to save it."
Larabee nodded as he gently unhooked his friend's hand,"I'll take care of JD. I want you out of here."
Wilmington shook his head as he struggled into a sitting postion,"I'm not goin'......"
Chris glanced backward and motioned to Nathan before turning back to his friend,"I don't have time to argue with you on this."He replied in a firm quiet voice,"Cooper's crazy with grief,I know what that feels like."
"Chris....."Buck started to protest but deep down he knew his friend was right. He could feel the weariness seeping in. He just couldn't leave the kid.
Larabee placed a gentle hand on Wilmington's good shoulder,"Let Nathan patch you up. I will take care of JD. He's stubborn enough to have lasted this long with us I'm not going to let a fool like Cooper end it before we know the truth."
Wilmington nodded as Nathan helped him to his feet. Josiah and Chris kept a sharp eye on Cooper's men as Nathan and Buck exited through the back door.
Once they were gone Josiah came to Chris's side,"What's your plan,Chris?"
The man in black glanced at his friend briefly then at JD,"As soon as I come up with one I'll let you know."
Josiah kept Cooper under a watchful gaze,"How are we going to keep Cooper occupied untill we hear from Vin?"
Chris shook his head as he rose to his feet,"I don't know Josiah, but we better come up with something."