A Fateful Day
 by: Maggie Smith
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Disclaimer: Ain't mine.
Warnings: DEATHFIC! I don't know why, but it just happened.

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JD Dunne could feel his world spinning out of control. Even as the townsfolk milled around him and the voices tried to soothe
him, he was falling. His heart had shattered and now his mind had left him. Left him standing in the street of Four Corners,
holding a smoking pistol and staring at the dead body of his best friend.

Buck Wilmington. JD hadn't seen him coming. He'd heard the gunshots from the jailhouse and ran into the fray with guns blazing, not once looking for the enemy, just shooting. Thats how it happened. He fanned his weapon and instead of catching the running bank robber, Buck stepped into his line of fire, and he dropped him where he stood.

The teen kept seeing the shocked expression cross Wilmington's face and the silently mouthed word, 'Why?'. JD didn't know why, didn't know how, and Oh God, he didn't even know what had caused such trajedy. He was trapped. Trapped in a living nightmare so horrible, not even years would ever erase the sorrow.

"JD, what happened, son?" The youth shook his head and gazed blankly at the black-clad man kneeling beside the prone form on the ground.

"I...I...don't know." The whisper was more a strangled cry of the hawk circling its prey.

"Take it easy, JD. Its okay." Josiah took the firearm from the boy and placed his hand upon his neck.

"No, its not. He's dead and I killed him." The kid began to take frantic steps backwards from the body. "Oh God, I killed my best friend." The choked words tore at the hearts of the people now gathered.

"It wasn't your fault, JD. It was an accident." Nathan stepped slowly toward the teen like he would a spooked horse.

"It wasn't an accident. I fanned my guns like he had told me not too. I shot him. It was me, nobody else." JD raised his eyes and saw the five sympathetic faces staring back at him. That was the last straw. He couldn't take their sympathy, their pity. He didn't deserve it. He was a murderer, plain and simple. He had killed the only person in the world he had loved as much as his mother. Buck had been his brother, his friend, and his protector.

JD couldn't hold the tears back anymore. As he glanced one last time at the lifeless body and the blank eyes that Chris was now closing, he knew his existance was no more. He would never forgive himself, even if the others did. He was a fool, a kid with stupid notions, and wild ideas. He didn't belong here and now he knew why.

"JD, listen to me, kid. Buck knew you didn't do it on purpose." Vin eased closer to the teen catching the skittishness of his movements.

"I guess that doesn't really matter, Vin." The boy raised defeated, vacant orbs to the tracker turning and then running as fast and as far as he could from the scene.

JD ran until his legs gave way and he fell to his knees, his whole body racked with sobs. "I'm sorry, Buck. I'm so sorry." He sank into a sitting position and propped his head in his hands. "God, please forgive me for what I done."

As the teen sat there, he heard the howl of the wolf, the cry of the hawk, and the moaning of the wind until they merged into one voice. The speech of a heartbroken youth with no reason for living. JD raised his head and stared at the sun now sliding behind the far mountain. As the darkness began to fall across the land, he made the only decision he could live with. "I'm on my way, Buck."

The wind picked up suddenly and carried the lone gunshot up and away.

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"As we gather on this mournful day, I'm reminded of another time. A time of happiness, of laughter, and of new beginning. The day the seven protectors of this town came together for one reason. To fight for those who couldn't fight for themselves." Josiah Sanchez paused as the images of that particular day assualted his system. "A leader who was known as the bad element." The preacher glanced at Chris, who stood near the head of the grave. "A sharpshooter, who was fighting for his own innocence; a
gambler, who had never been dealt a better hand; a healer, who uses his heart as much as his hands to cure the sick." Josiah stopped once more as his eyes fell on one unearthed grave. "A scoundrel, who was a lover of life and women." Sanchez sighed as his gaze locked on the open tomb at his feet. "And a kid, who's only goal in life was to be a hero. This is why we're here today. To bury two great men, who not only fought side by side, but now rest together for eternity."

The preacher shut the Bible he had read from and glanced at the solemn men around him. "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust."

"Amen." The silence began to grow as the townsfolk left the seven men alone together one last time.

"I don't believe I have ever been at such a loss for words as I am now." Ezra Standish couldn't hold his poker face any longer. His lips began to droop and the moisture he had associated with dust in his eyes, began a slow, quiet trail along the gambler's cheek.

Nathan Jackson stood passively beside Josiah and wondered what he could have done to save the two dead men now at his feet. "If I'd been a better doctor, I could have saved Buck and then JD wouldn't have done what he did." Sanchez laid a hand on the other's shoulder to staunch the flow of guilt.

"You did everything humanly possible, Brother Nate." The healer closed his eyes and turned from the sight.

"Buck always told me he wanted to go out in the blaze of glory. He died like he lived, right in the middle of everthing." Chris Larabee's words were their usual cold clipped tone, but one look into the aquamarine orbs and he was betrayed. The sunken, sad gaze would finally prove the gunslinger was anything but heartless and unfeeling.

"Ain't that the way we all want to go. I'm just sorry it ended for the kid this way." Vin Tanner blinked away the unshed tears and turned his glance to the mountains rising behind them.

"Mr. Tanner. May I ask of you a favor?" Ezra looked from his study of his hands and into the blue eyes of his friend.

"Sure, Ezra."

"Would you mind reciting a poem in our compatriots' honor?"

The tracker stood stunned for a moment, but the sullen faces of the others' gave him the strength he needed to fulfill the request.

"Alright." Tanner cleared his throat and closed his eyes drifting back to the fateful day in the Seminole Village.

"Your youthful smile spread far and wide,
Leaving nothing for you to hide.
I shook my head in disbelief,
Cursing fate that had sent you to me.

You always wore a bowler hat,
You had to, you said, its just like Bat's.
I never understood the way you thought,
But thanked the Lord for the life you brought.

You made my old eyes see,
What was missing right in front of me.
A family of strays' drawn together,
From now until forever.

Though we now lack a scoundrel and kid,
I think back to all we did.
And never once regret the pack,
That we will forever watch each others' back."

Vin swallowed against the lump that had formed in his throat and smiled softly as he felt the hand on his shoulder. Tanner turned slightly and found the features of his best friend staring back at him.

The look that passed between them mirrored that of the first day they met. A question given and a nod of agreement returned.

"Lets go home, boys." The five men gave one last gaze to the two they were leaving behind and then walked, incomplete to a future unknown.

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The End.
PS: I warned ya.