Disclaimer: Ain't mine.
Author's notes: Okay, I know my morbidity has caused some unrest and for that I am truly sorry.
I never meant for any of my creativity to cause harm emotionally or physically to anyone but the
characters in the story. Although I thank God everyday I haven't experienced the death of
my best friend and I pray I never do, I have lost loved ones. So its not with any twisted intent I
write these fics, but with true heartfelt words. ;-)
Friendship is a rainbow between two hearts- Anonymus
Chris Larabee jerked straight up in bed covered with sweat and shaking
uncontrollably. He had
been having these kinds of dreams for about a week now. Ever since the gun battle the seven
endured days before. They had each experienced something they'd never thought they would have
to face. Or rather something they were too blind to see.
The gunslinger swung his legs over the side of the bed and rested his
elbows on his knees as he
ran trembling fingers through his sweat soaked hair. *Dear God would it ever end.* He stood up
slowly thinking how he was beginning to feel his age and the tragedy of his past in his bones.
Moving with no real purpose, he quickly got dressed and checked his pocketwatch. 9:00 am.
*They're probably all gathered at the saloon.* Larabee sighed as he
put the watch back in his
jacket pocket and went out his room door. Another day in the town of Four Corners for the
protectors, almost all of them anyway.
Ezra Standish had claimed his usual table at a very early hour, shocking
the patrons. The gambler
rarely arose before noon unless trouble was brewing. Whatever the reasoning, no one dared to
approach Standish on the matter. Not since what happened last week anyway.
Buck Wilmington was sitting quietly in the corner table with JD Dunne.
The two men didn't say
anything, just sat silently staring at nothing. The two exuberant men had become somewhat
solemn in the past few days. Buck hadn't visited with a lady and JD hadn't even went to see
Casey once. They had either lost heart or faith. At this point they didn't know.
Josiah Sanchez and Nathan Jackson had decided to let the others alone
until the time they
deemed right for confronting them. The two saviors of the group were glad for the support from
the other in more ways than one. They were each others anchors in this storm of confusion
surrounding the lost men.
Chris entered the tavern the same way he did most anything, with deadly
caution. He had noticed
the mens' positions as he had walked up the sidewalk, but once inside the room did he truly feel
the tension hanging around them.
"Mornin' boys." Larabee sauntered to the bar and poured himself a whisky
from the bottle sitting
on the counter.
The six men had been meeting here every morning after the attack of
the bandits at Ezra's
birthday party. They were all hoping that Vin Tanner would miraculously walk through the
batwing doors with his usual slow grin on his face. They had searched the streets and alleys' until
dawn for some sign of the tracker.
Once the gunfire had ceased, Chris had ordered them to find Vin. But
there was nothing. Only his
horse which had a bloody saddle. Larabee had known the voice that had yelled the warning
belonged to his best friend, but was now facing something worse than death. The unknowning.
The gunslinger's dream had been the same since that day. He found the
bounty hunter slumped
behind a barrel, bleeding profusely and half dead. Then as he tries to fight the feeling of dread
that is etched on the healer's face as he examines Tanner's wounds, he hears the death rattle
of his best friend then nothing. He wakes up in cold sweats, shivering from head to foot. It was
only a couple of days ago that the dream grew to include the burial.
Larabee squeezed his eyes shut against the memories that were threatening
to take him to his
dream, wide awake.
"Chris?" Buck had stepped up beside the gunslinger watching the emotions
playing across his
features. None of the others had wanted to find Vin alive and well more than Wilmington. Not
only for his own peace of mind, but for the peace of heart it would bring Larabee.
Chris rubbed at his tired eyes before turning to his friend. "Yeah, Buck?"
"We got a telegraph this morning from Ridge City. The outlaws fittin'
the description of the
bunch that jumped us was spotted near Cryer Canyon yesterday by a stagecoach driver."
Wilmington paused as he saw the other man's face go from emptiness to cold, hard rage.
"The driver said he saw at least a dozen."
"Alright. Get the supplies and tell the others to prepare to ride. I'll
go tell the judge whats going
on." Chris turned not even waiting for a response. Right now the only thing on his mind was
getting the men that had caused them such agony.
The six men rode in complete silence on the trail to Cryers Canyon.
It was a good day and half
ride, but none of them had wanted to make camp. Anger fueled their desire to see justice done,
and until that happened, they wouldn't stop.
The canyon was about 300 yards wide with a 100 foot drop on either side.
Although the cliffs
were sheer, plenty of caves were housed inside them. Especially ones big enough to hide wanted
"We'll make camp here until we know exactly where their positioned."
Larabee dismounted and
walked over to the edge gazing at the drop.
"What're gonna do once we find out where they are?" Josiah sidled up beside the gunslinger.
Chris turned an empty glance on the preacher and stated softly. "Kill
every one of the bastards."
He swiveled back toward the campsite never noticing the frown from the older man.
"A miracle is in need more now than ever." Sanchez looked out over the
expanse of the canyon
admiring the beauty it held and the mystery plus death it was housing.
"Damn Rupert. We need to be in Mexico. Not hanging around here. You
know if they find out
where we are they'll come for us." Hank paced nervously around the fire which was burning in
the middle of the cave.
"Calm down, Hank. Everything is gonna be fine. I've planned this perfectly.
We want those
gunslingers' to find us. Trust me." The leader laughed harshly as he saw the doubt cloud the
younger man's features.
"I sure hope your right." The gunman slumped on his bedroll and stared
at something near the
back of the cave. "Your playing with fire."
"No my dear Hank. I'm holding all the cards." Rupert snickered heartily
as he threw a piece of
meat to the figure watching them. "Don't want you to starve to death."
The form grunted softly and tossed the food back at the gunman hitting
square in the head. Hank
started chuckling but a glare from his boss shut him up quick.
"You better watch it boy, or I'll let you die for sure." Rupert wiped
the grease now running down
his face and returned to his meal.
"Mr. Larabee, I do believe I have spotted our quarry." Ezra stood atop
a boulder and was staring
at a couple of bandits trotting into a cave near the entrance.
Chris hurried over and also peered at the pair. "Good. I'm damn tired
of waiting." Larabee never
let his eyes stray from the outlaws wanting to know everything about where they were going. As
he watched, he saw a guard step out from behind a boulder that if you looked at close, you
could see an opening behind it.
"Theres where we want to be." The gunslinger turned swiftly and felt
the gambler right on his
heels. The other four men were lounging around the campfire, but one look at the thunder in their
leader's eyes had them on their feet and ready for action.
"We goin'?" Buck caught up to his friend and fell in step with him.
"We know how many?" Nathan had also risen and was now on the other side of Ezra.
"Do we care?" JD was hot on Buck's feet.
"Then may God have mercy on their souls and the Devil have room in Hell."
Josiah fell into line
beside the healer as the six walked shoulder to shoulder to their waiting mounts and certain
Rupert realized at the first shout from his men, he had greatly underestimated
the six protectors'
of Four Corners. But at this moment, there was no time for reprimand, only action.
Hank had run ahead to join in the gunfight with the others near the
entrance, but the leader stayed
where he was with the one thing he knew that was gonna keep him alive.
"Looks like you came in handy afterall, Tanner." Rupert kicked at the
tracker's outstrecthed legs
and was rewarded with a low moan.
"Go to hell, Rupert." Vin raised his tired blue eyes and tried to give the other man his best glare.
"Only if you go first." The leader grabbed the bounty hunter by his
hair and pulled him to his
feet. "You'll provide the needed distraction to get the surprise drop on your friends'. I wonder
how it feels not knowing the fate of someone you love. Maybe I'll ask them before I kill'em." The
madman laughed in Vin's face as he threw him against the rock wall behind him.
Vin knew he had to stay conscious, it was the only way to warn the others.
Tanner fought the
sickening pain the shove had started in his abdomen from his gunshot wounds, but that was
minor compared to the agony his heart was inflicting upon his chest. "Give up now and you
might still live." The tracker's hoarse voice was strong despite his tattered appearance.
"You'd like that wouldn't you. But no can do. I was out here for one
reason and one reason only,
to see the seven fall. And thats what I aim to do." Rupert grabbed the man's leather jacket and
pushed the tracker in front of him. "Lets get you reaquainted with your friends."
Getting inside the cave had been easier than they had anticipated. Twelve
men had come out
fighting but was no match for the six fury filled men attacking. Chris recognized everyone of
them from that wretched day. They were all gonna pay and pay they did, with their lives.
The six watched all but one of the twelve fall. The last ran back inside
as fast as he could, and
they could hear him yelling at someone.
"He must be carrying the fated message of our arrival to his leader.
Shall we not disappoint the
dear fellow." Ezra finished reloading his pistol and glanced to the five men to his left.
Buck slid his gun back in its holster and gave the gambler a nod of
agreement. JD put the last
bullet in his right colt before also giving the go ahead nod. Nathan and Josiah neither said
anything, but let their hard stares and slight nods speak volumes. They each stared intently at
Chris as he absently loaded his .45 and gazed inside the cave opening.
"No matter what happens in there," Larabee turned to look each one of
the men in the eye. "Its
been a pleasure riding with you boys." The gunslinger holstered his weapon and gladly accepted
the friendship the men were offering in their eyes. In single file, they began entering what may
become their tombs.
"Rupert! Their coming." Hank slid to a halt beside his boss and looked
back the way he had
"Calm down, Hank. I've got everything under control." The leader yanked
on the tracker's hair
but Tanner refused to let him see him suffer.
"I tried to warn you. Your gonna die now." Vin smiled ruthlessly as
he saw the panic and then the
color drain from the younger man's face.
"Shut the hell up Tanner. The only one dying today is you." Rupert cocked
his revolver and put
under the bounty hunter's chin.
Vin heard the footsteps and knew who was headed their way. Once again
he was in need of
warning his friends. *I gotta do something.* Tanner quickly looked around the campsite and
finally his eyes fell on what he needed. The fire.
The bounty hunter began the slow movement toward the flames and was
happy when he wasn't
met with resistance from the gunman.
The footsteps grew closer as did Tanner. *Another couple of feet.* Vin
raised his eyes and
caught the slightest glimpse of black rounding the corner. *Oh God, Chris.* The tracker fought
the sudden fear that clutched at his insides and turned his attention back to his task. *Almost
Chris didn't know how many men awaited them but was prepared for anything.
anything. The pale features of his best friend being held at gunpoint definately caught him
"What the hell?" Larabee pulled up short almost causing the other five to hit him head on.
"Chris, why'd you s-?" Buck glanced around the gunslinger and felt the
breath catch in his throat.
JD peeked around his friend's shoulder and thought his heart would stop
beating. The sudden
gasps from the three men behind him told the youth they were experiencing the same thing.
"Hello, Larabee. Looks like we meet again." Rupert pushed the gun into the tracker's jaw harder.
"Let him go you son of a bitch." Chris started to go forward but Buck's
restraining hand stopped
"Now, now. Is that anyway to treat someone who has a gun to your friend's
head." The leader
chuckled harshly at the glare he was receiving.
"What do you want?" Larabee was amazed at how calm he sounded when ever
fiber of his being
was in turmoil from the ragged sight of Vin.
"You all dead of course. Throw down your weapons or I blow his brains
out." The older man
emphasized his words with another shove of his gun.
Vin could feel the tears welling up in his eyes but fought against them
as his task was almost
For once Chris had no idea what to do. He knew the instant they dropped
their guns, they were
dead. But if they didn't, Vin was dead. Larabee glanced into the tracker's eyes for the first time in
days and saw a glimpse of something. Chris stared harder and finally understood. Vin had a plan.
"Do I look as stupid as you apparently are, Rupert?" The gunslinger
forced himself into a
laidback stance praying this would work.
"Insulting me is definitely not a good thing to do now." The leader
tightened his grip on Tanner's
hair and the bounty hunter couldn't surpress the slight gasp.
"So help me, you hurt him..." Wilmington stepped forward but it was
Chris that stopped the
advancement this time.
"Do what you have to, I ain't got all day to waste on the likes of you."
Larabee's voice held the
deadly tone everyone knew well.
Rupert looked to Hank and then back at Chris before he began to ease
down on the trigger. Vin
saw the motion in his peripheral vision and knew he didn't have a second to lose. So with all the
strength he could muster, he pulled down with his entire body and felt the success of Rupert
falling with him. He only hoped he had enough energy left to roll out of the way before hitting
The madman's scream reverberated off the walls in the cavern causing
the men to wince in
pain.The leader had fallen dead center into the flames and was now trying to put out his clothing
but with no success. Hank had tried to come to his aid, but his boss was so out of it, he shot the
younger man right between the eyes before turning the gun on himself.
The six men stood stunned for a moment at the scene, but Chris's sudden
movement to the still
tracker shook them back to reality.
"Vin!" Larabee fell beside his friend and started remembering his reoccuring
dream from the last
week. He hesitated for a split second but had to know for sure. The gunslinger rolled Tanner over
slowly and was more than relieved when his eyes met those of his best friend.
"What the hell took you so long, cowboy?" The bounty hunter felt the
weight of not knowing
what had happened to his friends' during the ambush lift from his shoulders's and peace once
again enter his heart.
Nathan quickly examined the grinning tracker and was amazed to find
two bullet holes in his
stomach area, but both seemed to be healing fine. They had gone through and apparently not
damaged anything vital.
"So whats the word, doc?" Chris broke his gaze long enough to look at
the healer but this time he
wasn't met with the despair of his dreams, but a genuine smile of relief.