Twin Fates
By: Maggie
eagleimaggs_7@yahoo.com

***********************

Rating: PG13
Disclaimer: Ain't mine.
Author's Notes: Okay, this is for Cassie who begged me to give her some hurt/comfort from the
guys. Since she has supplied such great stories with Vin and Chris the past two days, I said okay.
I'm not the only one conditioned here. Hope you enjoy!
Warnings: No Beta, and if it seems I start rambling at the end, sorry. ;-D

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One person with one heart
Someday finds another
They can't fathom ever being apart
So they elect each other a brother

Though the blood that flows inside
May be from a different line
Makes neither want to hide
That this day, their Twin Fates have combined
-Maggie

************************

The day dawned on Four Corners just like any other, but as the sun's rays touched the dirt streets
the hated sound of gunfire erupted into the light. The seven protectors' were unfortunately caught
off guard but never unprepared.

Vin Tanner had risen early as usual, taking his morning stroll before people could congest the
silence he craved everyday. He had just reached the jailhouse when a bullet entered the window
to his left, shattering glass inside and out. Self-preservation pushed the tracker into action.
He quickly extracted his mare's leg and returned fire to the enemy without a face.

Vin literally fell onto the floor of the room, immediately kicking out with his foot to shut the
door. As he began to rise and fire once more, he heard the familiar barrage of his friends' guns
enter the fray. Tanner crawled to the broken window and surveyed the land around him.

The flashes of light from gunbarrels' alerted him to the others' positions. Ezra was stationed
inside the saloon, roused from his slumber no doubt. Josiah was attacking from the church with
Nathan posted on the walkway above the boardinghouse. The bounty hunter had found all but
three. He started sweeping his gaze from different directions and let out a sigh of relief as he
caught sight of Buck in the alley beside the saloon. Then as he continued his search, his eyes fell
on the location of the youngest, JD. He evidently had been in the livery feeding his horse, for
thats the spot he was firing from.

Vin ended his glance with a ripple of apprehension engulfing him and was about to step onto the
boardwalk to get a better vantage when the cause of his intended sacrafice emerged across from
the Clarion in front of Ms. Potter's store. Tanner leaned his forehead against the wall as the
fear subsided. As he realized all his friends' were accounted for and healthy, he began his fight.

********************

"Where the hell did they come from?" Buck chanced a look around the corner where he was
hiding, directing his question to Ezra's silouhette in the saloon window.

"If I knew Mr. Wilmington, I would be glad to offer you an explanation. But seeing as how I was
risen from my beauty rest at this ungodly hour, I'm afraid I too am at a loss." Standish put all the
biting sarcasm he could behind his words, not caring if the gunslinger took it to heart or not. He
was pissed and didn't care who he was taking his anger out on.

"Easy, now Ezra. No amount of rest could improve that sorry face of yourn', so don't go fussing
at these fellows for something ain't nobody can help." Wilmington knew now was not the time to
be funnin' with the gambler, but he just couldn't resist.

"I would appreciate it if you would keep your sordid opinions to yourself, Buck." Ezra squeezed
off another round and was happy when he heard the yelp of pain.

"I'll remember that for next time." The gunslinger chuckled lightly as he fired at an outlaw trying
to sneak around the side of the jailhouse.

Buck had sought out the position of JD as soon as he had entered the battle and part of his
giddiness was due to finding the kid safe. But that suddenly changed, as Wilmington swiveled his
eyes to the livery like he had been doing ever chance he got. Dunne's form was sprawled face
down in front of the stable doors'. His bowler hat had come off and his hair was covering all parts
of the boy's face.

Buck felt his heart constrict and his breath stop before reaching his lips. "KID!!" Wilmington
forgot everybody and everything as he emerged from his hiding spot and ran full out toward his
fallen friend. He felt the bullet pierce the upper part of his left arm, but still he ran. He was about
10 feet from the prone form when the next bullet sliced through his right thigh, dropping the
gunslinger to the ground.

Buck gasped in pain, both from the fall and the wound, but started dragging himself with one
hand to the teen's side. He could feel the blackness trying to encompass him, but staved it off as
he focused on the rise and fall of JD's back. "Thats it kid, just keep breathing." Wilmington
couldn't hold off the agony much longer but still pulled himself forward. After what seemed an
eternity, his hand brushed the body of his best friend.

Buck dropped his head onto the back of JD and sighed in relief. The teen was breathing steadily
and the gunslinger could feel his heartbeat against his cheek. "Don't leave me, kid." The
gunslinger reached up and tried to turn the boy over, but his wounds plus the blood loss was
making it almost impossible. "Damnit!" Wilmington attempted to move the youth again but a
yelp of pain poured across his lips leaving him gasping for air.

*I have to do this.* He tried to get his breathing under control, but felt himself drifting. *NO!*
Buck blinked quickly, but the darkness threatened once more. *I'm sorry, kid. I'm sorry.* The
gunfire penetrated the man's weakening mind, but suddenly something else assualted his senses.
Someone was next to him trying to pull Dunne from his grasp.

"NO!" Wilmington tightened his fist around JD's jacket, struggling to keep him from the intruder.

"Easy, Buck. Its me. Chris." Larabee had been watching the gunslinger wrestle with the boy's
limp figure as long as he could stand it. So, defying the odds, he too took off to help the pair.
"Listen to me, Buck. Let go of JD so I can get him back inside the livery." The leader hoped
his words would enter his friend's pain filled thoughts long enough to register their urgency.

"Chris?" Wilmington swallowed the lump that had been forming in his throat as Larabee's voice
finally hit the other man.

"Yeah." The gunslinger felt Buck's grasp loosen and quickly drug the unconscious teen back
through the doors of the stable. He laid Dunne near the first stall and made sure he was breathing.
After he was satisfied with the positive response, he turned and went to retrieve Wilmington.

The volley of bullets were still continuing but that didn't matter at that moment. Chris's only
concern was Buck. The gunslinger had apparently passed out finally, so the struggle to get him to
safety was an easy one.

Larabee let his breath escape in a satisfied whoosh as he laid Buck beside JD. "Can't you two
learn to stay outta trouble?" The leader knew they couldn't hear him, but the admonishment made
his nerves feel a little better.

"Nottt....myyyy...faulllltttt..." The kid's voice was unsteady but strong.

"Well, I don't think you can blame this one on Buck, JD." Chris smiled as he saw the familiar
hazel gaze meet his.

"Where'sss....Bucckk???" The youth attempted to sit up, but a flash of pain caused him to rethink
his idea.

"Easy, kid. Buck's right beside you and your both gonna be fine." Larabee tried to paste on a
reassuring smile but from the frown on the boy's face, it apparently didn't work.

"Whatt.." The gunslinger raised his hand to interrupt the question he knew was coming.

"Don't worry, JD. Buck was hit twice, but both aren't too serious. Nothing a little rest won't cure.
How are you feeling?" Chris hoped he could divert the other's attention so he could check them
over and get back to the fight. He had tied off Wilmington's wounds and wasn't lying to the youth
about their severity, but JD was another story.

From the leader's examination, it seemed Dunne had taken a shot to the upper left of his chest.
The bleeding had dwindled to a slow leak, but the bullet hadn't exited the boy's body. Larabee
checked closer and felt his muscles ease as he noticed the object hadn't penetrated anything
vital.

"You just rest here with Buck, JD. As soon as I can, I'll send Nathan in here after ya." Chris
patted the teen's arm and was grateful to see the weak smile directed at him.

"Don't..worry, Chris.. I'll take care of him." Dunne grimaced as a pain shot up his injured side,
but didn't miss the pride that flashed swiftly in the other man's eyes.

"I know you will, kid. I know you will." Larabee made sure both were comfortable as he pulled
his gun from its holster and moved back to the door.

*********************

"Buck?" JD shifted slowly until he was facing the man next to him. "Come on, Buck. Wake up."
The boy reached out gently and touched Wilmington's arm. He could feel the tremble in the
muscle beneath his fingers but tightened their grip anyway. "Look at me." Dunne hadn't realized
the sharpness of his tone until the gunslinger's eyes popped open and began to glance around
frantically.

"Kid?!" Buck raised up but was pushed back down both from pain and JD's gentle touch.

"I'm...righhtt...here." The teen could feel himself drifting off but staved it off as much as possible.

"You alright?" Wilmington's voice was getting softer but still had an underlying strength.

"I am...nowww.." JD smiled as he met the eyes of his best friend. "I am now, Buck." The two
men exchanged grins before letting the comfort of unconsciousness engulf them.

*********************

Chris had listened to the word exchange behind him before he once more broke cover and ran for
the saloon. He had managed to dodge the bullets flying over head long enough to fall through the
tavern's doors.

"Glad you could join the party, Mr. Larabee. Might I suggest next time we send out invitations
informing our guests to be a little more considerate about their arrival." Ezra hoped his voice
didn't convey any of the fear he was still having over watching Buck and JD fall. To care for
someone other than himself was still new to him, but the feeling of loss that assualted him was
something he didn't want to lay claim too.

"I'll make sure Mary prints a piece in the paper specifically for your complaints, Ezra." Larabee
shook his head lightly at the man of chance's uncanny knack for over emphasizing a simple
statement.

"How are our compadres'?" Standish continued to fire, pausing just briefly to gauge the other
man's facial expression. He was estatic when he noticed the confidant look being returned to him.

"They'll live." The two passed quick smiles to each other and then went back to the fight.

***********************

Vin had watched patiently as the three men disappeared inside the stable and only then did he
allow himself to breath again. It was only when Chris joined Ezra inside the tavern did he
completely release his pent-up tension. It seemed the enemy was decreasing but still in the
game.

Josiah and Nathan both were hidden well and wreaking havoc on the outlaws. They had also
witnessed the near miss and both sent up a prayer of relief at the outcome. Sanchez was swapping
bullets with what he thought was the leader of the bandits'. The preacher didn't recognize
the man, but was sure they had crossed paths with the seven once before.

Apparently, the head outlaw was getting tired of the battle and decided to bring it to a quick end.
He searched out his horse and as soon as he was mounted he began rummaging through his
saddle bag until his palm curled around the object of his investigation.

The bandit smiled slightly as he lit a cigar placing it between his lips and began trotting his horse
through the center of town. The bullets seemed to bounce off of him or just veer away on their
own. His approach never waivered as he swung his horse toward the two main establishments
housing the resistance.

Tanner had run out of bullets in both his guns and was attempting to reload when he caught sight
of the lone gunman. "What the hell?" The tracker paused momentarily as he followed the man's
intended destination with his eyes. He was heading straight for the saloon. *What is that in
his hand?* Vin raised up slightly to get a better view and almost swallowed his tongue as he
recognized the outline of dynamite glinting in the morning sunlight. *Oh, God!*

The bounty hunter reached for his mare's leg and tried to load the chamber but the gun jammed.
Throwing it aside roughly, he grabbed for his pistol, but it was empty. He had put his last bullets'
in the sawed-off. Tanner lifted his gaze once more and felt the bile rise in his stomach as the man
inched closer, avoiding miraculously ever projectile in his path.

The tracker searched frantically for another weapon, but found none. Vin finally stopped his
floundering and made his decision. He was gonna hit the guy head on.

*******************

"Chris, either we have been stricken with bad aim, or this miscreant is not human." Standish
stared shocked at the approaching figure and the missed shots.

"We better do something quick or we're both gonna be blown to hell." Larabee searched the
tavern frantically for a way out. The back door had been boarded up earlier in the week due to an
unruly barfight resulting in the opening being widened. As the gunslinger's eyes ended their
sweep the enormity of the situation hit his stomach.

"I take it from your crest-fallen gaze that we are doomed." Ezra looked at the man he trusted
more than anyone in his life and knew if he was to die, it was truly an honor to die at his side.

"Yeah. If we make a run for it, we'll be cut down by the gunfire. If we stay here, then..." Chris let
his words hang as understanding entered the gamblers eyes.

"Then we'd go out in a big bang." The man of chance closed his eyes briefly trying to ignore the
images of his limbs laying around his body, unattached.

"I don't know about you, Ezra. But if I'm gonna go out, I'm gonna at least take some with me." A
rare grin creased the leader's lips and began to grow as it was matched by Standish.

"You do have a way with words, Mr. Larabee." The gambler grabbed his pistols' in both hands
and crouched beside the black clad man ready to exit the saloon, but their plan was halted as a
war whoop echoed around them.

"What the..." Chris jumped upright and gazed over top of the batwing doors feeling his heart stop
as he caught sight of Vin hurtling himself at the gunman and sending them both crashing to the
ground on the other side of the horse.

**********************

Tanner knew he had succeeded in preventing the dynamite of entering the tavern but as he and
the leader came to a stop on the ground, the lit stick rolled from the man's grasp and came to rest
about 20 feet behind them.

The tracker jerked to his feet, ignoring the protest of his battered body and turned to run from the
impending eruption. Unfortunately, his retreat was in time as the hot breath of the explosion blew
threw his back and lifted him off his feet, slamming his already injured form into the hard earth
and straight into oblivion.

***********************

"VIN!!!!!" Larabee hadn't even recognized his own voice as the words passed his lips, but as his
vision was assualted by the bright light, his last thoughts had been of his best friend.

The gunslinger blinked slowly, picking himself up off the hardwood floor. The gunfire had
ceased and he could hear the pounding of hoofbeats heading out of town.

"Ezra, get Nathan." Chris saw the buckskin figure crumpled near the water trough and had to
fight himself from screaming out in pain.

Standish had followed the gunslinger's line of sight, flinching at Tanner's limp form lying
motionless on the ground. "I'm on my way." The gambler tore his gaze from his friend's injured
body and rushed to retrieve the healer.

Larabee ran to the man's side and dropped to his knees in anguish. "Vin?" Chris was afraid to
turn the tracker over in fear of seeing a charred being that used to be his best friend, but the need
to know if he was alive outweighed the terror.

The gunslinger wrapped both hands around the buckskin leather and began easing his friend's
form onto his lap. He almost whooped in glee as he saw the still intacted body and the fluttering
of eyelids. "Take it easy, cowboy. Nate's on his way."

Tanner blinked gingerly, bringing the concerned features of Larabee into view. "You alright?"
The usually hoarse voice was laced with pain.

"I'm fine, thanks to you. Now just relax and let Nathan look you over." The gunslinger knew as
soon as he saw the defiant glint in the other's eyes what was about to transpire.

"I'm fine, help me..." Larabee immediately placed his hand over Vin's mouth and gave him a
stern look.

"Listen up, cowboy. I'm already having a bad day, so I suggest you do as your told and don't piss
me off even more." Chris put his best icy glare on for the bounty hunter and was relieved when
he saw the surrender enter the other's face. "Good." The black clad man removed his hand from
Tanner's mouth and placed it on the other's chest patting softly.

*********************

"Damnit, JD. Be still." Nathan had moved his patients' to the jailhouse for his examinations and
treatment, but one young client was proving to be a problem.

"Hurts." Dunne tried once more to get out of the healer's grasp but was met with another strong
set of hands.

"Easy, son. Nate's just trying to save your life. Just take it easy, alright?" Josiah pushed the youth
back against the cot, trying not to cause him more harm.

"Can't you give him something, Nate?" Buck was pulling himself to an upright position on his
bed, trying to see what was happening inside the cell.

"No I can't Buck, and you best stay put or I'll give you something." Jackson never raised his eyes
from his task, but knew on instinct what Wilmington was attempting to do.

"Come on, doc. The kid needs me." The gunslinger eased closer to the edge and was about to
drop his legs over the side when a gruff voice stopped him.

"I wouldn't if I was you, pard." Chris Larabee stepped inside the jail and knew the problem
instantly. "Nathan needs to concentrate on the kid, not worry about you falling flat on your face."

Wilmington met the other man's eyes and saw the truth behind his words. "Alright. I'll wait."
Buck eased himself back and watched the procedure with concern.

The leader patted the other man's arm lightly. "Don't worry. That boy's a fighter and so's Nate."

The gunslinger turned his gaze to meet his old friend's once again. "I know. I know." The two
men smiled and then returned their vigil to the youngest of the group. "How's Vin?" Buck needed
something to take his mind from his pain both emotionally and physically.

"I put him to bed in my room, making Ezra stand guard." Chris chuckled remembering the choice
words the tracker had thrown at him as he left.

Wilmington also began laughing knowing what misery Standish was probably inflicting on
Tanner. "Ouch. Don't you think that was a little harsh, pard."

Larabee let a full blown smile cross his features. "Naw. Not after the stupid stunt he pulled.
Knocking that guy off his horse and then getting his fool self blown up. He done shaved off ten
years from me and Ezra both. I figured Ezra should get the first shot at him and then I'd finish
him off." The two men laughed quietly.

Jackson had pronounced the bounty hunter with just bruised ribs and slight concussion, ordering
him to bed for at least three days. Vin had tried to slip past them about fifteen minutes later in
attempt to check on JD. Chris and Ezra both decide they would appoint themselves Tanner's
worse nightmare for the intended prescription.

"I got it." Nathan stood up, wiping his hands on a cloth Josiah had just handed him.

"Well?" Buck raised up slightly.

"He's gonna be fine, Buck. With some rest, and if we keep the infection out, he'll be up and
around in about a week." The healer could feel his own smile grow as he watched the gunslinger
stare at the prone form behind him.

"Good. Cause as soon as he's better, I'm gonna whomp him good for pulling that on me. How
dare he get hurt. Can't tell that boy nothing. His head's as hard as a brick." Wilmington's tirade
was diminishing as the comfort of darkness began to engulf him once more.

Larabee squeezed his friend's shoulder before rising. "If you boys need anything, I'll be in my
room." But before he left he stepped to the bedside of JD. "Looks like he beat them again."

Sanchez glanced questioningly at the leader. "What do you mean brother?"

Chris raised his head and looked the preacher in the eye. "The Fates, Josiah. They lost again."

Josiah nodded thoughtfully. "Well you know what they say. A person with a twin feels what he
feels, sees what he sees, so I assume its the same with the Fates. A man's twin, shares the other's
fate." The preacher glanced briefly at the youth and then to the gunslinger. "In a better
phrase, you can't take one without the other."

*********************

The End.
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