Summary: A series of 'missing scenes' for the original OW series from the author's and JD's POV
Disclaimer: Just playing. I know I can't keep 'em...damnit!
A JD POV for a missing scene for each episode was brought to the table and I couldn't resist! So here is a little interlude that takes place around and a little after Inmate 78 and just before The New Law.
Thanks to Phyllis for betaing this. Comments welcome.
Thanks to Robijean and Jan for their thoughts on an idea they had for JD.
My thanks also to Nancy and Blackraptor for the transcript archive, and for giving my stories a home.
JD Dunne stretched and yawned, checking the clock on the jail wall. 2.30am...was that all? He glanced at the snoring drunk in the cell; at least he was getting some sleep.
Leaning over, JD opened a drawer and pulled out a dime novel from way at the back. As he opened it, a creased wanted poster dropped out. Unfolding the crumpled paper, he read it.
He stared, anger surging inside him as he read the words, just as it had the day he found it.
'Wanted...dead or alive'.
How could something so official...be so wrong? He hadn't known Vin too long, but there was no doubt in his mind the man was as honorable as they came. Chris Larabee trusted him and Larabee was not a man who trusted easily.
JD smiled as Chris Larabee came to mind. A few weeks had passed since his return from Jericho and he was finally looking like the Chris Larabee they had come to know and respect...and care about. He'd gained a little weight and taken up control again, things were finally getting back to normal.
JD looked at the poster once more before returning it to the bottom of the drawer inside his precious dime novel. JD had placed it there to conceal it, always planning to ask the question, but never finding the right time...or the words...to do it. He always knew Vin was a guarded, cautious individual, the poster finally helping him understand why. Hell, JD couldn't begin to imagine how it must feel to have to look over your shoulder every minute of every day of your life.
But recently, Vin had shared his secret with them...trusted them with his deepest confidence...and now they could help him keep watch too.
THREE WEEKS PRIOR
Six men had ridden hard for a day and were now making camp for the night. While JD secured a tether line for the horses, he watched his five friends setting up the camp, the ease and familiarity flowing from each experienced individual. Vin disappeared for a while and by the time JD had put all the saddles and blankets around the perimeter of the newly built fire, the tracker was back and four rabbits were roasting over the fire, sticks skewered through them for a spit.
Eating done with, the six sat quietly, drinking coffee. They were still worried about Chris, but just being out there looking for him, had eased the tension between them somewhat and the banter was slowly returning. JD shuddered as he sipped his coffee. He didn't care for it much, preferred milk, but it was hot and comforting and he was grateful Josiah had made it. During a lull in the conversation, Vin made a little noise, causing them to look at him as he stood.
"I need to share somethin' with ya'll. It ain't gonna be easy for me, so I'd be obliged if you'd just let me get to the end 'fore askin' questions." The silence he received was oddly comforting, accompanied by five faces filled with trust and curiosity. Vin continued.
"Ya'll know I was a bounty hunter. Well, I went after a guy named Eli Joe, found him...dead...took him in to claim the reward, back in Tascosa." Vin poured himself more coffee and sat back down. He looked around at the faces of the men that had become as close as brothers to him, gave a small smile, and continued, his eyes fixed firmly on the mug.
"'cept he wasn't Eli Jo, just some poor fella he'd killed to fool me into thinkin' it was him. Before I knew what was happenin' I was bein' accused of murderin' the fella and with the notion of clearin' my name before they could throw a noose around my neck, I high-tailed it outta there. So now I got a bounty on my own head...for $500, alive or dead." As his words trailed off, Vin looked up to meet the gaze of each of his friends, smiling a little wider at the utter acceptance of what he had confided to them. His eyes locked with JD's. There was more there...he would ask him later.
"The reason I'm tellin' ya'll this is two-fold. I've wanted to share this with you for some time, but could never seem to find the words. It's hard, knowin' someone could ride into town any time, shoot me dead and have the law on their side. The longer time passed without incident, the more I welcomed feelin' like my old self again and wasn't sure if rakin' it all up would help any. Until now." He paused to throw the dregs of his coffee into the fire.
"Wherever we travel while we search for Chris, could lead me to the man who decides to take me for the bounty. If you continue to ride alongside me, it's only right you know who you're ridin' with. Bullets don't always hit the man they're meant for."
Silence reigned for all of ten seconds, then, one by one, five men stood and all but one approached the Texan to confirm their friendship. There were no questions in their eyes, just absolute loyalty. Vin looked toward JD as the young easterner hung back. Their eyes met and JD nodded, turning to walk off toward the horses. The others frowned at his actions, glancing at Vin, half in confusion and half in apology. Buck called after him.
"JD? JD what's wrong with you, boy?" He looked at Tanner. "Vin...he don't mean nothin' by it...he..."
Vin gave a tight smile and squeezed Buck's arm. "It's alright, Bucklin...don't be worryin' none." He touched his hat and walked after his young friend. "Pardon me..."
JD checked each horse, not in the least surprised to find Vin at his side moments later and speaking.
"How long have you known?"
JD turned to face him. "A while."
"D'ya still have it?"
"Did you believe it?"
JD's eyes flashed as he stared into Vin's. "Not for a moment. I mean... I know we haven't known each other long, an' all, but..." he sighed. "... my mama always told me my heart would sometimes play tricks on me, but it was a good way to live...following it." He looked down at his boots. "So I am."
Vin grinned. "And...did it tell you I was no murderer?"
JD smiled shyly, refusing to look up. "Yeah," he said, softly.
"Just as well, I'd hate to have to shoot you for thinkin' otherwise."
JD's head shot up and he stared at Vin for a moment...then grinned. Both men laughed quietly, Vin placing a hand on JD's shoulder.
"Reckon we should get some sleep, we got a hard ride tomorrow."
JD nodded, hesitating as Vin started guiding them back to camp. "Oh shoot, the others are all gonna think I don't approve, now." JD looked back at four concerned faces, focusing on Buck's. He owed his mentor an explanation...not that Buck would give him the opportunity to wriggle out of it, once his friends learned that he had known about Vin and not mentioned it.
Tanner nudged him on. "Well, how about we set 'em straight? Seems like a good night for clearin' the air."
Nodding again, JD kept in step with the tracker. "Hey, if that's what we're doing, maybe we can persuade Ezra to tell us how much money he's really got hidden in his boot."
Vin laughed. "Hell, kid...I said 'clearin' the air'...miracles are a whole other matter."
JD startled from his sleep as the jail door opened, his hands going straight for his guns.
"Hold it there, hot shot...it's just us."
JD stood, his hand now covering his racing heart. "Who's us, Buck?" His eyes widened as all six peacekeepers walked in, the unmistakable figure of Chris Larabee closing the door to face his men. JD checked the clock...5.30am. Chris spoke.
"Okay, listen up. Just got word we got trouble heading this way... probably by noon tomorrow. Vin, Buck...I want you up high. Nathan, you're on the ground with me...Josiah, Ezra, JD...I want you on horseback, bringing up the rear as soon as the Marsden gang hits the center of town." He watched as each man nodded at the instruction.
"Okay...this is what's coming...and what we're gonna do about it..."