A Second Chance

by Luckystars

Casey Wells was standing in the doorway. Her lip was bleeding profusely Nathan jumped out of his seat in a second. The other men were close on his heels. The only one who staggered was Chris. The whiskey catching up to him.

“Casey what happened? Is your grandmother alright?” Vin asked,

“Kat…men!” She gasped between breaths.

“Hold on honey, get your breath then tell us what happened.” Joshia told her gently pushing her to a chair. Nathan held a piece of cloth to her bleeding lip, but she turned away.

“I was walking to the livery, past the ally, when somebody grabbed me from behind. I guess he knocked me out, because the next thing I remember I was in front of about ten other men. I was still a little drowsy. But one said they had gotten the wrong girl, they were looking for Katie Darby, not me. One of them put a gun to my head, but the leader stopped me. Said he didn’t want to draw anymore attention to them selves. They were here to get his niece and that was it. They left me in the street and I got up and ran here ” Casey was shaking by the end of her story. Nathan put a comforting hand on the girl’s shoulder.

“The bastard Silas is here!” Vin growled. “It has to be him. I see where one of men would mistake Casey for Kat, they both are the same height, age almost the same hair color.’

“That means Kat’s out in the street. She has no idea!” Buck yelled. The men got up and were about to run out. They almost ran into a white faced JD. Vin ran right past him.

“Guys wait…” The sheriff started

“JD we don’t have time. Kat’s uncle is here!” Ezra told him all dignity forgotten.

“Not anymore, he rode out of town with Kat hog-tied behind him.” JD whispered clearly shaken up”

“What?” came the unison reply.

“I was riding back to town, when I heard a scream and a gunshot. I ran as fast as I could, but I couldn’t get there in time. The posse was already riding away. I shot and I managed to hit one of them. He’s tied up in the street right now.” JD was out of breath. “I should have rode out after them.

“Don’t be stupid kid, you wouldn’t do Kat any good dead.” Buck put a comforting arm around his young friend’s shoulder.

“Let’s get after them, they couldn’t of got that far ahead.” Nathan stated.

At that moment thunder shook the building and the rain started to pour down.

“God Dammit, there goes the trail!” Vin yelled slamming his hand onto the table. He ran out the door, “I’m going to go talk to JD’s prisoner.” He walked out of the doors. Nobody heard Chris’s sharp intake of breath.

The rain was coming down so hard, it was almost impossible to see anything. Vin more or less stumbled across the outlaw. He grabbed the man roughly, untied the bonds, and pushed him into the jail.

“Where is Silas taking her?” Vin yelled.

“I don’t have to tell you anything/” Vin pulled out his gun and pointed it at him.

“Don’t think I won’t use this.” He unlatched the safety. Vin felt a strong hand on his shoulder. He turned around and stared into Joshia’s eyes.

“Calm down Vin, if we have any hope of getting Katie back we have to keep level heads.”

Vin sighed. He knew the older man was right. He lowered his gun, but the fire in eyes didn’t leave. The outlaw breathed a sigh of relief.

“He didn’t calm our friend down for you Mister,” Ezra told the outlaw, venom in his voice and hate in his eyes. “If you refuse to answer our questions, I’ll shoot you before Mr. Tanner has the chance to loose his temper again.

The outlaw saw he was outnumbered and shrugged his shoulders in defeat.

“That’s more like it,” Buck told him. “Now where is your god dam boss taking Kat?”

“They’re heading towards Denver. Silas is going to get s number to the Darby bank account and find out where the girl’s brother is. Then he’ll shoot them both,”

“She doesn’t know where Matt is, she was starting to look for him herself” JD answered, he forgot about his promise.

“Then he’ll probably kill her after he gets the bank number.” The outlaw laughed. “Who really cares about the brother anyway. You know how much money is in that account. I’m surprised you guys didn’t know about it.”

“We don’t care about the fucking acount!” Vin’s temper was gone again. “How did you figure out where she was?” He asked.

The outlaw laughed again. “That’s the funny part. One of your own signed her death certificate. He pulled out a sheet of paper. It was a newspaper article. Ezra grabbed it from his hand and read aloud:

“A sixteen-year-old girl by the name of Katie Darby has wondered into the Town of Four Corners. Ms. Darby is about 5’6 with a slight build and reddish-brown hair, Katie is looking for anyone who has information to her family’s whereabouts. Any information should be brought to Four Corners personally.”

Ezra paused before he read the last part. Not quite believing what he read “Submitted by Chris Larabee, Four Corners.:

There was a silent disbelief in the air. The only sound was the chuckles of the prisoner. Vin faced hardened the hatred in his eyes was so scary JD took a step backwards.

“Anyone who wants to help me rescue Katie, be ready as soon as the rain lets up. Right now, I have some business to attend too” He stalked out of the jail.

“Did Chris really do that?” JD asked in disbelief. He had a hard time imagining his hero doing something that terrible.

“It appears the way,” Buck answered gruffly as he pushed the prisoner into a jail cell.

“Ain’t someone going to fix my wound? He held up his arm where JD’s bullet had grazed him.

“Fix it yourself!” Buck shot back.

“I just hope Vin doesn’t kill Chris.” Nathan answered quietly.

“Personally I have no sympathy for Mr. Larabee and this present time,” Ezra stated. “I’ve made many mistakes in my life, but sending an innocent child to certain death is not one of them.”

“I agree whole heartily with Ezra” Buck answered. JD nodded his head in agreement

“I tend to agree with you to Brother,” Joshia answered, “But I have a feeling The whiskey wrote that article not Chris Larabee.”

“It’s still not an excuse, if Katie ends up dying because of him, I swear I will shoot that bastard myself.”

Vin walked into to the saloon. He saw Inez and Casey talking behind the bar.

“Do any of you ladies know where Chris went?” He asked.

“I think he went to the livery senior” Inez called back.

“Gracias. How you are doing Casey?” Vin asked.

“Just fine, Mr. Tanner.” Vin tipped his hat and walked towards the livery. He saw Chris saddling up Pony.

“So you back stab Katie and decide to run away,” Chris didn’t answer. He kept his head turned away from him. “Since when did you stoop as low a rattler?” Chris didn’t answer him.

“Answer me you son-of-a-bitch!” Chris was so furious, his face was bright red. Chris still didn’t turn his head. That was it. Vin threw himself at Chris, knocking him down to the ground. He nailed Chris in the jaw. He raised his hand. He didn’t realize that Chris wasn’t even trying to fight back Vin had his fist raised to hit him again when he stopped.

Chris’s eyes were red-brimmed. The dry tears were mixing with the blood coming from her mouth.

“Go ahead and hit me again. I deserve everything.” Vin stood up and helped Chris up.

“I know you found out about that article. I knew what happened the moment JD came running into saloon.” Vin tried to say something, but Chris stopped him.

“Just let me talk, You were right, I love that girl. I care about her the same way I cared about Adam. She terrified me after the bank robbery. I realized that I couldn’t bare to loose Adam again. I decided to cut her off. Maybe if I ignored her, I would stop caring for her. It didn’t work. It hurt me to see the pain in her eyes, but I was willing to sacrifice her happiness for my peace of mind. One night I got sick and tired of seeing her, she was a content reminder of what I might lose again. In a drunken rage, I sent out that article. In the morning, I forgot about it. When I heard what happened tonight, I remembered. That is why I have to get her back. It will break me if he tries to…” Chris couldn’t finish. His eyes had welled up with tears again.

The anger in Vin melted like an ice cube in the summertime. He put a comforting arm around his friend’s shaking shoulders,

“He would nave found her eventually. We would have to face that bastard sometime.”

Chris smiled weakly at his friend. “Let’s go get that son-of-a-bitch and bring our Kat home okay?”

“Amen to that brother,” a voice said in the back of the livery. Chris and Vin turned around. Joshia, Vin, JD, Nathan, Ezra and Buck were standing in the doorway. There was a long pause. JD broke the silence

“Come on guys, Let’s go get her!” The seven men sprang into action almost at once.”

The men were all saddled up and just about ready to ride out of the stable, when a shrill whinny pierced the air.

They turned around to the source. Bullet was pacing anxiously in his stall. He was throwing his head around and was literally trying to break the door down, Vin jumped off his horse and went to the stable.

“You want to come too?” he asked the animal. Bullet tossed his head up and down, Vin laughed. He grabbed the bridle off the top of the stall door and saddled up the horse.

Vin led the horse out of the stall and tied the reigns to Peso’s saddle.

“Can we go now?” Chris asked impatiently.

“All set!” Vin answered.

Seven horses left Four Corners. Their seven riders all planning different ways to kill the man who had taken away part of their family.

The rain had stopped, except the downpour had made it impossible to see any sort of a trail. The mud made it difficult for the horses to travel.

“What do we do now Vin?” Nathan asked.

“I don’t know, Joshia we could use a little prayer right now.” Vin answered

JD dismounted his horse, He looked on the ground.

“Wow Joshia, you’re getting good. Look at this.” Vin dismounted and ran over to where his young friend was kneeling.

A stick was lying next to an arrow pointing north drawn in the sand pointing towards the hills. “Good Eyes JD,” Vin complimented. “I taught Kati these signals. They must have stopped here before the rain started. It’s a miracle this lasted. They must be headed towards Dover, they can catch a train to Denver there.

“Not if we can do anything about it!” Chris yelled spurring his horse in the direction of the arrow. His six comrades close behind him.

Nightfall had come, the seven peacekeepers were starting to show the signs of their hard ride. They had found no other signs. Each man was starting to have his doubts, but refused to give in.

“Maybe we should have a prayer,” Nathan suggested.

“Wouldn’t hurt,” Buck added.

“God, I know we haven’t been the most religious and self-righteous people in the world….”

“You’ve got that right” JD commented.

“Bur this isn’t for us, there’s a young women out there who has a good heart, a heart that has had to deal with to much pain/ Please Lord don’t make her have to go through more pain, please grant us this one request let us bring her home. Giver her to start a new life.. Amen,” Chris ended.

“Amen,” the rest chorused.

“I promise I won’t look at another women ever again/” Buck added..

He was greeted with six pairs of raised eyebrows.

“Well, I won’t look at another women on Sundays ever again”

“Buck you’re a lost cause>” Vin shook his head/

The prayer seemed to give the magnificent seven strength. Whether it was the grace of God, inner strength, or both, the men rode through the night.

The sun was just starting to rise when Ezra yelled out. “Rider coming on hard.”

The men pulled out their guns. When the rider became visible, they gasped. Bullet let out a familiar whinny.

“Kat, you’re okay!” JD yelled.

Katie didn’t respond. “You have to get out of here guys. I managed to slip away while they were all sleeping. Dumb idiot of a guard took my Dad’s gun, but he fell asleep on the tree, I managed to squirm enough to grab his knife. Made a mess out of my hands though.”

Nathan glanced at her bloody hands and winced. He marveled at her skill to hold onto the reigns.

“Katie what are you talking about? There’s no way we’re going to leave you behind!” Vin almost yelled flabbergasted that she would suggest such a thing. “You’re coming home with us, and we’re going to get your uncle once and for all.

“That would be suicide!” the girl answered

“Silas has got at least twenty men.” She didn’t get a chance to finish. Bullets started flying through the air. The peacekeepers of Four Corners dived to the ground, their horses went running into the woods. The seven took refuge behind different objects. Ezra and JD laid behind a log. Vin sought coverage behind a huge oak tree twice his size. The others found spots behind various rocks. Katie was the closest to the source of the enemy fire.

“Kat, Over here!” JD yelled.

“I can’t there’s to many bullets!” She yelled back. One of the roughest battles the magnificent seven had ever faced. The battle lasted at least three hours. Soon corpses of Silas’s men were covering the ground, but there were still at least ten left.

“You can end this right now!” a voice called. “All I want is the girl.”

“That’s asking to much!” Buck yelled back.

“I’ll put that on your tombstone” came the reply.

“We’ll make sure to put Son-of-a-bitch on yours!” Vin answered. The shooting continued with neither side gaining any ground,

Katie was alert, Her hands were itching to get on a gun. She was aware of what was happening around her.

“Shit, I’m out of bullets!” Buck yelled.

“I only got two bullets left” JD said.

Katie saw it was the time to make her move. The seven had done their best to protect her, but she wasn’t going to be responsible for their deaths. She whistled. A split second later, Bullet came galloping down to her. She jumped on his back.

“We started this together boy, Let’s finish it that way.” The horse didn’t need to be told what to do. Before the seven knew what happened, the horse was galloping towards Silas.

“Kat come back!” Vin yelled desperately. The other six were shouting similar responses. Katie was oblivious to them. She did here her Uncle yell

“Hold your fire!” She galloped right up to him and dismounted. She just stared at him for a second.

“What are you going to do?” The Stocky strong man answered. “You know I am not going to kill you, and you have no weapon to kill me.” Katie moved in an instant. She flew towards Silas, the knife she had used to free herself at her Uncles thought. The hired guns just stood around dumbfounded.

“Tell your man to drop their weapons” she hissed. “And to tell them to let my friends ride free, and not shoot at them. Then I want them to ride away.” She backed up with the man so she could have a clear few of everything.

“You heard her, Do as she says” He told her men through clenched teeth. They dropped their weapons and mounted their horses and rode away, not looking over their shoulder at their leader once.

Katie waited till they were all gone.

“So much for loyalty, ” she laughed “You knows what’s so funny.” An unexplainable anger had built up in the girl. “I don’t know the fucking bank account number. I never have. You would have never found Matt. Believe me I looked. Your whole search was for nothing.”

“So what are you going to do now? Kill me?” The man asked scared. Katie was about to dig the knife into the devil’s throat and be done with him forever. “You killed my family and will rot in hell for it.” Katie held the knife up, but a voice from her past stopped her.

YOU NEVER EVER KILL A FAMILY MEMBER. It doesn’t matter what they do. Promise me you will never kill Silas.”

“I promise Dad.” The girl answered reluctantly.

“Alright Dad,. I’ll see you in a little while.” Katie dropped the knife. Silas was on her in a second. His hands were around her throat.

“Say Good Bye to the world, dear niece. Your see your mom and Dad soon.”

Katie felt her breath leaving her. The world was turning black. She heard “No!” before she slid into darkness.

Chris slammed his body into Silas. A rage took over Chiis. The same rage that had built up inside him the night he learned about the fate of his family. The girl landed on the ground. Both men landing on her. Chris grabbed the man’s collar and shoved him away. Both men punching at each other. Silas was big and strong, but Chris was lean and agile. “What the hell Larabee, you’re the one who sent the article. Why are you risking your life for a dead girl.”

“I’m attempting to make up a sin that I’ll pay for the rest of my life!” He growled. The fight continued. Neither one getting enough time to grab a gun.

Katie opened her eyes. The world was spinning. She heard yells and forced herself to sit up. Chris was the first one to notice her.

“Katie!” he yelled. Forgetting about everything other then the girl. He ran to her. Putting an arm around her shoulder to hold her up. “I thought you were gone for good”

Silas was amazed. His adversary had just given up the one advantage he had. He picked up a gun.

Katie’s eyes were focused by now. She gasped. Chris turned around.

“Now I see why I never got caught up in these family things. To much trouble. Which one to kill first? He smirked.

He lowered the gun and pulled the trigger. Chris tried to cover Katie, but it wasn’t needed. A form ran if front and shielded them as the shot rang out. Katie yelled as Bullet landed right in front of them.

Chris acted in a split second, picking up one of the extra guns on the ground. He shot once. Silas fell to the ground. He didn’t get up. Chris sighed and turned around. Katie had her horse’s head on her knee. Tears were starting to fill her eyes. The horse was bleeding from the chest.

She didn’t even notice the other men come up.

“It took us about ten minutes to realize that Silas and Katie weren’t with those guys,” Vin said. He noticed the corpse. “What happened?” Chris filled them in on what happened.

“Holy shit.” JD answered. “I have been around horses my entire life, and have never heard of one jumping in front to protect his master.”

“That is not a normal horse my young friend,” Ezra sighed. “That animal is a guardian angel.”

“Was a guardian angel. Someone has to put that poor beast out of his misery.” Buck said sadly.

Chris walked over and kneeled next to Katie.

“Honey, I am so sorry. If I hadn’t been so selfish and cold-hearted this never would have happened. I was just stupid. I should be the one lying there. That horse cares more about you then I ever let show.” He paused, “but I love you just as much. It took me this long to realize that. Katie can you ever forgive me?”

Katie looked up. There were tears in his eyes. She smiled and nodded her head.

Her eyes turned towards Silas. “I can’t believe he’s gone.

Chris wrapped his arms around the shaking girl.“ And he’s never going to hurt you again. Your safe now/”

Katie felt as if one hundred pounds of weight were lifted off her shoulders. Other then the fact that her lungs hurt and her body hurt all over. Bullet’s angst whinny brought her back to reality. Her eyes welled up with tears as she stroked her horse. She didn’t jump when Vin put his arm on her shoulder.

“I’m sorry Katie, but you know what has to be done.” He said sadly. Katie nodded her head.

“One of us will do it for you. You don’t have to watch.”

“Thanks Vin, but this is something that I have to do.”

“Here Kat, this was laying on the ground. Thought you might like this back.” Joshia placed her father’s gun in her hand. An encouraging smile on his face.

“Bullet, you’ve been the best friend any one could have asked for. Better then most humans I’ve met. You made the ultimate sacrifice for me, now I guess I have to sacrifice living without you..”

“You swear that horse was a real person,” Buck whispered to Nathan.

“He was more then that to her,” Nathan responded.

“I love you Bullet, have fun in whatever horse heaven is like.” This last comment brought a smile to the seven men’s faces. Katie sighed and raised the gun, pulling the trigger with a steady hand. The horse lay still.

“Vin?” She asked quietly.”

“Yeah honey?”

“Can you make sure I don’t hit my head on anything hard?” With that the girl passed out.

Chris lifted up the girl gently. Nathan ran over and checked her pulse.

“She’s okay, she’s just exhausted.”

“It’s probably a good thing too, The poor thing. Sheer will was the only thing keeping her awake.” Joshia answered.

“Come on men. Let’s get our girl home. She’s going to need a lot of time to heal, but hopefully her new life will start soon.”

It was to bad Ezra hadn’t bet against Chris on Katie’s recovery rate, but then again. Ezra wasn’t that low. Life went on as usual at Four Corners. Chris finally allowed the girl to ride out with them to catch a horse thief. The girl proved herself to be a valuable asset. Vin probably would have been six feet under if her sharp eye hadn’t picked up the man behind the tracker. Life was almost perfect till one day:

“JD, if you throw one more bubble at me I swear this plate will give you such a large bump, that stupid hat won’t be able to it over it.”

The two teenagers were doing dished inside of the saloon. Inez had the flu and the kids were trying to do the women a favor. The kitchen was full of soapsuds.

“Ah guys, the point was to help Inez not make a bigger mess for her to clean up.” Vin had entered the kitchen.

“Tell that to General Lee over here. I swear he thought I was the union army and the soap water was his entire ammunition source.”

“Well we can have sign a treaty at Appomatix later, the coach just pulled in”

“The judge is here?”

“Let’s go!” Katie and JD ran out the door.

“Kids” Vin said shaking his head. Conveniently forgetting the pancake fight he had gotten into with Buck a few moments before.

Katie and JD joined the rest of the town. The judge got out of the coach, but Katie’s eyes went right past the older man to the next passenger to get off. A teenager not much younger than herself was getting off. Vin recognized the boy, but before he could say anything, the girl was running to the boy who was limping as fast as he could toward her.

They flung arms around each other.

The judge had walked over by Chris and Vin.

“How did you manage to find Matt?” Vin asked.

“It was hard. Turns around the grandparents died three years ago. Matt was attending an art school and a family of one of his friends took him in.” He watched the reunion a few minutes. Brother and sister were now deep in conversation now. Happiness radiating from both of their faces.

“I must say it does an old heart good to see that.”

“Believe me judge it does a young heart good too,” Chris answered smiling.

Matt stayed for two weeks. The siblings were never apart. The seven gunslingers liked Matt as much as Katie. He had the same personality. Too soon for Katie, the two weeks were over. The night before the coach left for Denver, the Darbys were talking inside Katie’s room.

Another serious conversation was happening in the saloon.

“If she decides to go back with him, we have to let her go.” Joshia said .

“Why can’t Matt stay here?” JD asked.

“You heard him kid, he’s becoming famous there, Kat would never expect him to stay in a hell-hole like this.” Buck answered,

“A talented young women like that shouldn’t stay in a town like this. I believe it’s time we tell Katie to leave. No matter how hard it is for us.” Ezra said.

Chris nodded his head in agreement. “There’s nothing for her here.”

“Bryan and Mattie would want them to stay together, now that they found each other. They’re a family.” Vin chorused.

None of the men said is out loud, but every single one of the men had come to think of the girl as part of their family. Chris knew it would hurt as bad as if his own child had moved away. Not as much as Adam, but pretty dam close.

“Who’s going to tell her?” Nathan asked.

“Tell me what?”

The seven men whirled around.

“Lord Girl, give an old man a heart-attack why don’t you?”

“Sorry” She answered. “You’re not that old Joshia. Vin was the first one to notice that the brims of her eyes were red.

“You okay?” he asked concerned.

“Matt and I were just talking and….”

“Katie we’ve talked and we all believe that if you want to, you should go back with Matt.

“Thanks Buck but..”

“There’s nothing for you to stay for my dear, your future awaits you in a place like Denver.”

“Ezra hold on….”

“You belong with your family.” Chris’s voice was barely more then a whisper, but Katie could here that shake in it. She looked around into the six other pair of sad eyes.

“Whoa cowboy, Matt may be my brother, but you guys mean just as much to me. You took me in when I had nothing and showed me that their was still good left in this world. Matt and I just got done talking and…” She paused. “We decided that it’s best that he goes home tomorrow…and I stay here in my home:

Vin jumped up and grabbed her shoulders. “Kat. Don’t stay here cause your worried about us.”

“I’m not Vin, I’ve been thinking about this along time. I need air and wide open spaces. Matt needs a big city, but I need a place like this.”

“Are you sure this is what you want?” Chris asked.

“I’ve never been more sure then anything in my life. I’m staying here.” She said firmly.

Buck let out a whoop. “This calls for a celebration.! Inez whip us up something good to eat. Ms. Darby is going to be staying with us for quite some time.”

“Aww man” JD whined. “I guess that means I still have to have that shooting contest with you doesn’t it?’

“You betcha” Katie smiled.

“Ah Kat, I was just thinking about what you said.” Chris said rubbing his head and smiling evilly. “Did you call me cowboy before?”

“I’d start running now girl, get a head start.” Joshia offered

“Go easy on her Chris. I’m tired and I don’t want to mend any more bones tonight.”

JD got in front of Kat, trying to talk as deep as he possibly could. “As sheriff of this town, I must fight for this young lady.”

“Alright Sheriff, you’ve got yourself a deal. Tomorrow morning at sunrise down main street.” Chris got up and walked away.

JD’s face fell. “What the hell?” He asked

Vin smiled at Buck. Both of them knew Chris was planning something. The other men had a pretty good idea something was up. The only ones who seemed out of the loop were Kat and JD.

“I don’t know Sheriff, but he sounded pretty serious. I’d go and make sure your guns are working” Nathan said trying to keep up a straight face.

“You gotta be kidding me.” JD said terrified

“Nope kid, I don’t think so.” Buck hid a smile behind his face.

JD didn’t answer. He just simply walked out of the saloon and into the street.

` “Alright guys what are you trying to pull?” You’ve got him scared out of his wits.” Kat asked.

“Ms. Darby, may I ask you a question?”

“You’re going to any way Ezra’

“How much do you care about our young Mr. Dunne?”

“That’s none of your business!”

“That is a good enough answer for me.” Vin laughed ash he grabbed the girl’s arms and as quick as lightning, wrapped a rope around them.

“Vin what is going on?” Katie asked dumbfounded She was to confused to fight back as Buck tied a rope around her legs.

. “I’m sorry about this dear” Joshia answered as he took out a bandana and tied it around her mouth. Katie tried to yell, but her voice was muffled. Vin carried his squirming prisoner outside calling over his shoulder.

“Make sure the guns are set.”

“Bang, Bang, Bang!” JD awoke with a start. He had fallen asleep in the jail. Somebody was banging on the door. JD ran over to open it. Matt was standing there out of breath.

“What happened Matt?” The sheriff asked.

“Larabee…He’s got my sister!”


“He’s got her tied up outside the saloon. He says he waiting for you.”

“Chris would never do something like that. This whole showdown thing was just a joke.”

“Hey my sister is being held captive in the middle of the street. And you need to get down there and do something like this. I trusted Larabee, but you get over there and get my sister back!”

JD grabbed his gun and ran out of the jail, Matt trying as hard as he could to catch up with him. The street was full of the townspeople.

“So Dunne, I see you showed up. Good this will be easy.” JD started to shake. He couldn’t believe the change in his voice. It was the voice he used when he was dragging in outlaws. He looked around desperately, But Buck and the others were no where in sight.

Matt was right. There was Katie bound to the horse post. The desperate look in her eyes told him this wasn’t a joke.

JD sighed. All of a sudden he felt an adrenaline rush.

“Chris what the hell is going on?”

“I dunno JD. I thought maybe I would kill this pretty little lady here.” Chris pulled out his gun, and pointed it at Katie. JD saw his finger start to pull back the trigger.

The young man pulled out his gun and fired. Chris fell down backwards. JD just stood there. He couldn’t believe it. He had killed his friend, the man who had been his idol for the past two years.” Matt limped over to his sister and started to untie her. Katie was so stunned she couldn’t move.

JD walked over slowly to the girl. Not even looking at the body in the street. The three kids turned to look at Chris.

“I can’t believe you shot him JD!”

JD wrapped his arms around the girl. “He was going to kill you Kat, I couldn’t let that happen, no matter how much I idolized him.”

All three kids turned around the sound of clapping.

“Well done Mr. Dunne, well done” Ezra was the first one to leave the saloon.

He followed by the other five men. All who had smiles on their faces. Chris jumped up.

“Well that was interesting,” He stated/

JD and Katie just stared.

“What…He shot you I saw the bullet leave the gun!”

“It was a blank, Nathan filled JD’s gun with them last night.” Chris answered.

“What the hell did you do this for?” JD asked. He was getting angry now. If this was a joke it was a sick one.

“I’m sorry Kid, I know it was mean, but we all were sick and tired of seeing both of you mope around like love-sick puppies, Both of you were to stubborn to admit that you like each other. This is the only way that we could think of to show both of you. You know what a sucker I am for true love.”

“God guys you just about gave me a heart-attack.” JD sighed.

“Were you a part of this too?” Katie asked Matt. Matt nodded his head.

“If you’re going to be staying here, I want you to be happy.” Katie hugged her brother.

“So did it work?” Vin asked.

JD looked at Katie who smiled. “Hell yeah!” He answered. With one swoop of his arm, he bent Katie backwards and planted a huge kiss on her lips. The girl didn’t protest at all.

The townspeople let out various cat calls and cheers.

“Yeah JD, I knew you had it in you!” Joshia smiled.

“Kid’s taking after me more and more everyday.”

“That’s not saying that’s a good thing Buck” Ezra laughed.

The whinny of horses ruined the moment. The stage pulled in. The judge stepped out from his place next to Mary and joined the gunslingers.

“Well once again I can say my trip to Four Corners has been very interesting. But I do believe that is time I head back to the predictable life in the city. Are you ready to go Matt?”

Matt nodded his head. “I just have to go get my stuff.”

“I’ll get it,” Vin offered. : You stay here with your sister.”

Matt turned to Katie. “You sure you don’t want to come with me?” He asked.

“Matt you know I belong here.”

“I know, but I thought I’d ask one more time. I’m going to miss you.” Katie hugged her brother like she would never let him go.

“All aboard!” The stage coach driver yelled. Katie let go.

“Promise me you’ll right at least once a week.” She said.

“Oh, I’ll right more than that, and as soon as the judge can arrange it, you’ll come see me in Denver,”

“I promise.” They exchanged another quick hug, before Matt got into the coach.

“May I have a word Ms. Darby?” The judge asked.

Katie turned towards the older man. He held out a sheet of paper to her. She took it and gasped.

“During my stay, I have talked to many people in this fine town. All of who would sleep more soundly at night, if you were hear to help protect the town.”

Katie held a contract in her hand.

“Now the pay is a dollar a day and..”

“Excuse my judge, but I don’t care about all that stuff. Who’s got a pen?”

He handed her one.

Vin had walked up. “I’m not saying you won’t make a fine gunslinger, but are you sure this is what you want to do?”

“My dad wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”

“You’ve got that right” Matt said out the window.

“Turn around Tanner” Katie demanded. The tracker turned around and Katie used his back as a hard surface to write on. She handed the sheet back to the judge.

A cheer went through the street.

“Well I better be going,” The judge said smiling. I’ll write soon with your travel arrangements.” He jumped onto the stagecoach with surprising agility for an old man.

“Giddy-up” The stage coach driver cracked his whip and the horses left town at a fast cantor.

Katie didn’t move till the coach was out of sight. Chris came up and put an arm around her shoulder.

“Did you ever picture yourself a hired gun?” He asked.

“Only in my wildest dreams.” Katie smiled up. Chris just shook is head, but he couldn’t prevent his own smile.

“Then a girl with wild dreams such as that deserves a steed that matches his mistress’s ambitions.” Ezra said. Katie turned around.

Nathan and Vin were leading out the most gorgeous horse Katie had ever seen. He was a dark brown with a black mane and tail. A perfect back star was between his eyes.

Nathan placed the reigns in the girl’s hands. Katie stroked the horses nose. He was small, but Katie could tell what he lacked in size he made up for in spirit. Tears filled her eyes.

“Thank you,” She manages to say.

“Don’t thank us. After everything that you did for us, providing you with a mount os the least we can do.” Joshia smiled.

“This colt still doesn’t have a name,” JD stated. Katie thought a moment and asked?

“What do you think about Apache?”

“This girl is physic. How does she know this animal is as mean and stubborn as any one of those Indian braves?” Buck asked.

“I’ll bet Katie will have him behaving like a gentlemen in couple of weeks,” JD said confidently.

“Would you like to place a bet on that Mr. Dunne?” Ezra smiled. His golden tooth shining in the sun.

“Wow, does it feel good to be home!” Katie said.

“Come on, Dinner’s on me tonight.” Chris said.

“Once again Kat, I would like to point out that you are an angel.” Ezra smiled as they filed into the saloon.