Vin and Chris looked up from their table where they had been keeping the hot day at bay with a cool beer and a lazy game of cards.
Josiah was taking some time to discuss spiritual wisdom with Kojay in the Indian village. Buck and Miss Violet were off on a picnic and JD had just left for a patrol, he had left early so he could see Casey first, and Ezra was due back from his any moment
All in all, it a nice quiet, relaxing day.
"Where's Nathan?" Mark, the teenaged son of the Harrison's asked as he barreled into the saloon where he was not allowed by his strict Methodist parents.
"Collecting herb," Chris replied.
"Reckon I saw him about an hour ago head up to his rooms with a full pouch," Vin corrected.
"Ailing, son?" Chris asked.
"No, but, but Ezra just came back into town and he looks real bad. Thompsons got hold of him."
Vin was already out the door and could be heard yelling for Nathan as he took the stairs two at a time.
Chris was out the door and half way to the stables with Mark doing his best to keep up. Like most of the town kids, he was found of the gambler.
"Madre de Dios," Inez explained, crossing herself. The group of men would not be the same if they lost the con man who was so much more than he allowed anyone to see.
+ + + + + + +
Chris winced when he saw his friend, and as irritating as he sometimes found him, the irrepressible and unpredictable man was his friend. Tiny had helped him off his horse and laid him down as comfortably as possible in an empty stall. The gentle giant was now tending Chaucer and looking worriedly at the injured man.
Turning at the sound of someone entering the barn, he moved aside when the newly arrived Nathan passed Vin and knelt by his patient.
"Reckon ya looked better when that clan ya played tried ta tar and feather ya," Vin commented. Grimacing at the going over that Ezra had been given, his accent becoming thicker with worry.
Ezra made a weak attempt at smiling at his friend's reference to one of his misadventures that the group had had to save him from. They still teased him about; you can always count on family to never forget anything.
"Quit talking, now. Ya gonna be fine;" Nathan scolded, his tone assuring Ezra that he would be fine.
"We ride in five," Chris informed Vin while helping Nathan with Ezra. Right now they had only one lead, so they'd visit the clan and see what they had to say.
Vin nodded to Ezra, and received an attempt at a two fingered salute.
"What happened?" Chris asked as he took one side and Nathan the other and they half carried Ezra up to Nathan's clinic.
"Thompsons," Ezra hissed almost in coherently. "Bu.." he began but was unable to finish
"Was this 'cause they thought you were cheating them at cards?" Nathan asked, opening his door.
Ezra shook his head.
"Nathan, take care of Ezra, and let the others know we headed to the Thompson place," Chris instructed, then turned and headed out the door.
In the middle of the street, he met up with Vin, who had collected his rifle from his room. It was one of the few items he did not keep in his wagon where anyone could get to it.
No one messed with their brother.
In the stable they found that Pony was already tacked up and waiting, Tiny was attempting to get Peso done as well.
Vin nodded his thanks, and got the mischievous horse to settle down and be tacked.
Nathan came running minutes later and began tacking up Buster.
Chris raised an eyebrow.
"Mrs. Potter and Mary are with Ezra, I've done what I can. Seems this wasn't about them thinking he cheated them at cards the other night. It's about Miss Violet."
"They wanted Buck," Chris stated. Edward Thompson and Violet had had an understanding of sort. She had told Buck that it was done and he had begun paying her attention.
"Figured Ezra'd know where he was," Nathan explained, swinging up in the saddle. "Easy enough to find him, cowards just aren't willing to come in town and go after him."
"Have to face us all that way," Chris growled.
"Hell, we already knew they didn't have must grit to 'em," Vin snorted.
"Ezra didn't tell them," Chris' eye narrowed as he thought of the gambler getting a vicious beating for not being willing to tell them where to find his unsuspecting friend.
"Nope, they finally figured that he didn't know and let him go, and left him figuring he wouldn't make it back to town."
Vin snorted, Chris glared and Nathan rolled his eyes. They had obviously never run into Ezra's stubborn streak. If he had had to crawl back to town on his hands and knees to get word to the other regulators he would have.
The trio galloped out of town. Buck had mentioned Silver Creek and needed a heads up.
And then, it would be to visit the Thompson boys.
+ + + + + + +
Finding the ladies man was easy, all they to do as listen for the deafening screams of Violet. The young lady was standing over Buck who was laid out on the ground out cold.
Nathan was examining the large man almost before his horse had stopped.
Vin and Chris ran to the other side of the clearing. It looked like the Thompson visit would be easier than expected. All three of them were there, and looking almost as bad as Ezra.
"JD!" Chris barked.
"Ezra must have gotten to town alright," JD snarled, still glaring at the three men cringing from him. "He was almost home so I went after Buck."
"Easy JD, we'll take them into town and they'll face the judge," Vin soothed him.
"They killed Buck! Their mine," JD hissed.
"I'm not dead yet," Buck came over, slowly, leaning heavily again Nathan.
Violet, still in hysterics was on his other side.
JD took a deep breath. "You just saved their lives, Buck."
Turning the youngest of the group went to join his adopted big brother.
"I can believe that, kid," Buck smiled.
Chris and Vin moved in and took control the three men who wanted nothing more than to keep as far away form JD as humanly possibly.
Buck saw Chris looking at him and JD and nodded. He and the kid would talk about his later. He would see to it that his best friend did not become as rage filled by this near tragedy as his oldest friend had by his tragedy.