Cursing softly under his breath, Chris Larabee glared at the body lying on the ground in front of him. 'Damn it, Tanner.' He thought. 'You did this on purpose. No way in hell is this chance.'
Vin Tanner's dead body lay exactly on the spot where four territories met. He had a leg each in Arizona and New Mexico, and his arms were in Utah and Colorado. A statistical impossibility, this placement--he must have suicided here on purpose, just to get Chris' goat. Or maybe...one of the others killed Vin and left him here. Chris scrutinized his comradeís faces for any hint of culpability. Buck's eyes were dancing, but Buck's eyes were always dancing. J.D. looked nervous, but that too was the norm. Now Nathan...
"Shall we begin?" The local coroner posed the question. Due to the massive jurisdictional problem arising from Vin's multi-territorial demise, four coroners were milling about in apparent confusion. The Arizonan was, of course, a local resident, and would have had sole custody of the Tanner corpse had not there been a coroner convention at the hotel that weekend. Too many coincidences.
The four men had decided to all sign the death certificate, so the only remaining question became the cause of death. This was a matter of some dispute.
"Damn obvious, ain't it? Look at them holes in him! Somebody shot this here boy clear into the hereafter!" the gentleman from Colorado contributed.
Utah's representative smirked. "Except for the fact that those wounds are half-healed already. Me, I'd say he died from that rather nasty knife wound in his chest. Bet it hurt."
The coroner hailing from New Mexico had actually been kneeling to examine the body at a closer range than his colleagues. "Nope." He rose to his feet. "Bee sting."
Every man, woman, and child within earshot felt their jaw drop at this pronouncement. The man was either brilliant or drunk. Mary Travis ran to interview the bartender of the saloon, in her best investigative journalist fashion.
Smiling tolerantly, the local coroner shook his head. "No. Mr. Tanner wasn't killed by bullet, knife, or bee. He just plumb wore out. I've been reading this journal of his... Mr. Tanner was much in demand by the ladies. The man never slept a minute while in a bed. Night after weary night he was seduced by scores of women. It's truly amazing he survived as long as he did."
Vin had returned to life just in time to hear this last theory, and to realize his journal was in the hands of someone who ought not have it, and definitely wasn't to keep it.
"'Scuse me boys. Can I have that back?" Vin gingerly picked himself up from the ground and reclaimed his property. Dying always made him irritable.
"But you...you are...were.." The four coroners began in unison.
"Nah. Just restin' a bit. Been through a rough spell here lately." Vin glared significantly at Buck. Then at Nathan.
Chris smiled. Buck and Nathan. Payback should be fun.
A few hours later, after Vin's lengthy bath, the seven defenders of Four Corners met in the saloon. Recent events, namely Vin's repeated near fatalities (and J.D.ís as well...), demanded some rules be instituted.
"OK boys...you know the deal. Yes, we're immortal. Yes, not a hell of a lot of swords hereabout. That does not mean you can go around gettin' killed just to show how brave you are. Granted, the townfolk aren't too sharp, but they'll figure out something's going on if this keeps up. No more glorious death, alright?" Chris thought he'd made his point.
"Chris. What about the women? I mean, aren't folks gonna wonder why none of us have fathered a kid yet? Heck, Buck alone should have furnished a school's worth!" Josiah had a point here. Only J.D. was above suspicion.
"And what if, God forbid, Mr. Jackson is required to perform his medical wizardry on a citizen less disposed to recovery than we seven? No offense, Mr. Jackson, but your illustrious career is a sham." Ezra smiled winsomely, his gold tooth gleaming in the lamplight. Nathan considered extracting it.
"Heck, I still haven't beheaded anybody yet. What am I? The token virgin?" J.D. groused and sipped his milk.
"Y'all're forgettin' one thing. How'd Vin end up where he did? I sure didn't put him there." Nathan was always the practical one
"Last I recall, I was starin' at a knife stickin' out of my chest. Looked kinda familiar, sort of like a...Buck knife!" Vin brought his Mare's Leg to bear on his friend, Mr. Wilmington.
"Whoa there, pard! I'll admit, I did kill you and leave you where we found you, but I just wanted to see what would happen--the coroners being in town and all. Sort of like legal research." Buck smiled disarmingly. Vin lowered the Vinchester.
Chris bowed his head to hide a smile. Buck was incorrigible. Resuming his normal dour expression, Larabee surveyed his companions. "Ground rules. No gratuitous violence. None. Got it?" Six nods, although J.D.ís was a trifle hesitant. "The womanizing either ceases, or we look into getting birth control stuff. Sooner or later the lack of kids is gonna give us away. I can use Adam as a cover, cause no one except you boys knows he wasn't mine. The rest of you all..." He stared hard and long at Buck.
"What about the Watchers?" Vin had been preoccupied with them lately.
"You mean the Viewers?" Chris pursed his lips. "So far they seem to be on our side."
"I keep wonderin' how many of 'em are out there." Buck wistfully chimed in, a dreamy look in his eyes.
"Enough to keep us busy, I'd guess. Leastways, keep me busy." Nathan scowled.
Chris and Vin exchanged a look, and once more Chris considering filing a patent on it.
"Here's to long life!" Vin raised his coffee in a toast.
"Amen." Josiah softly intoned. Years in the future he would surrender the sword and his life in pursuit of spiritual peace, but for now he was with friends.
Chris hoisted his shot glass and looked around the table. He'd known Buck for literal ages, but the others were newfound friends. Good friends. Friendships that would last for years to come. His gaze settled on J.D. Dunne. Years to come? Chris poured another drink...