A Different Trust
by Mary Ann

In the Year AU

Thanks to beta Melissa

** Head talk**

“What is going on?” Buck Wilmington asked as he caught up with Chris Larabee, when Chris rushed out of the jail.

“Vin’s got a problem." The blond stated as his long stride carried him rapidly towards the huge livery stables.

“Need me to gather the guys?”

“Yes. Head for Timber Creek. We’ll be around there somewhere.” Chris answered abruptly as he swiftly entered the stables and hurried to the large box stall where his horned horse stood nibbling on his hay. Within two minutes he had the big black tacked up. He led him out of the stall, mounted and they raced out the stables door.

Buck ran to the saloon Ezra Standish owned, and caught Ezra’s eye. He motioned to the door, turned and ran down the road towards the medical clinic where he knew Nathan Jackson and Josiah Sanchez were having lunch with Nathan's wife, Rain.

“Hey Buck what’s going on?” JD Dunne came from the store and jogged after his friend.

“Got to get the guys and ride. Something’s happened to Vin. You stay and keep an eye on the town. We'll let you know as soon as we find out what's going on with him. Watch for wolves, they’ve been spotted south of here."

"Josiah, Nathan, we have to ride come on!” Buck yelled as he reached the clinic's doors. Moments later the two men hurried out the door. Nathan’s hand held a large medical bag, a filled saddlebag was slung over Josiah’s big shoulder. With the two trotting behind him, Buck headed for the stables once more. He noticed Ezra disappearing into the big livery stable.

Fifteen minutes after Chris raced out of town, the other four men were mounted and riding. JD watched them leave then with a sigh entered the quiet jail. Checking the radio he saw there was a message coming in and seated himself at the radio station. He wished he could have gone with his friends, but he knew with the threat of the wolves, he was needed in town.

Several miles from town, Chris and his black horned stallion were racing the wind towards Timber Creek to the west of 4C. From the silent call he’d gotten from Vin Tanner in his head, he knew something was not right with the young man.  Vin was gone before he could get more information, the connection between them totally stopped. He tried the radio on his saddle and received nothing but static.

**Where are you Vin? Are you alright?** Chris sent out. Silence was the only answer he received.

M7 M7 M7 M7 M7 M7 M7

Miles away, the big black horned horse Vin had named Peso, stood guard over his fallen rider. His lethal hooves and horns already bloody, having killed the first two men who tried to reach his companion. He could smell blood on his human, and his roar of anger at the remaining horsemen was full of challenge and hate. 

Four men sat their horned horses arguing as they tried to figure a way to get the angry animal away from the man he protected. They were being paid a nice sum of money to capture the young man and take him to the man looking for him. They hadn't planned on the crazy horse. The big black kept the unconscious man between his legs, under his belly and short of killing the magnificent animal there was no way to get at the long haired man.

Finally, one man grabbed a leather rope and with a look at his companions he started forward, making a large loop.

Peso looked at the man and his pitiful rope with distain. Dropping his nose he nuzzled his man lying between his legs, then side stepped a few feet and shook his head threateningly. His deep throated growl sounded in the quiet that had fallen over the small meadow. The three waiting men edged their mounts closer, the largest one prepared to ride forward and snatch the man from the ground.

The roper moved his horse ahead. When Peso rose with a roar onto his hind legs, he tossed the rope over Pesos' head. The loop barely slipped past the two lethal horns before dropping around the strong neck. Turning the man spurred his horse away, the rope tightly tied to his saddle horn. Peso leaped after the man and in several short jumps had overtaken the rider, slashing with his horns. The riders horse roared in pain and changed directions so fast, that the rider flew off. He disappeared under Pesos deadly iron clad hooves. 

Peso whirled around seeing movement near his master and charged the closest man and horse, forgetting the rope around his neck. It stretched out to the other horses saddle, still tied tightly to the saddle horn. The leather tightened around his neck. With a loud roar he swung around, turned his head and severed the rope. With a leap he smashed into the grey horse in front of him, who had tried to block his from getting to the third rider. His horns slashed the rider as he fell from his mount. Barely wasting a look at the falling horse and his dead rider, Peso bound after the big rider who'd managed to grab his human and was holding him tightly against his horse, his arm under one arm and over the unconscious man's other arm. Peso stopped and with his head moving slowly side to side, watched the man. His ears were flat against his neck, his teeth barred. The man knew the horse would kill him, but he figured he would be safe as long as he held the black demon’s rider. His partner, the fourth man, backed away before turning his horse and spurring it into the brush behind them; he'd had enough of this, the money wasn't worth getting liked by a crazed horse.

Peso pawed the ground and roared his fury at the other mount. The bay gelding fought to get free of the rigid hold on him. Shaking his horned head, he shuffled his hooves and grumbled in fear. The man took another grip on Vin, pulling him up higher against his chest and then spurred his horse into a run. The bay took off like a shot, running along the trail that went through the trees. Peso paced him, running easily behind them. Waiting.

Vin groaned and wondered what was happening. His head hurt with the rough movement, and he seemed to be bouncing all over the place. Something tight was clamped around his upper right arm across his chest and ended under his left arm making it a little hard to take deep breaths. He realized he was pressed against a body, but didn't know whose. The fast passing trees and brush made him dizzy and nauseous. He thought he heard hoof beats following them and tried to look back, but the way he was held he couldn’t see behind him, only to the side and down a little ways. His eyes opened wider as he realized his legs were dangling free.

“What the hell? Chris?” 

The arm shifted and tightened around him and he realized it wasn’t Chris who held him off the ground. Whoever it was, the man was huge, he thought even larger than Buck or Josiah. Then the smell hit him. It was coming off the man, the stink of stale sweat and fear gagged him. Vin tried to move and the man gripped him tighter. With an effort Vin tried to move his right arm to get to his weapon before he passed out from no oxygen. The man shifted and he couldn't move anything as the arm tightened more around him, the hand tightly gripped is ribs on his left side. He began to pant, trying to breathe, his chest felt as if it was compressed into a small ball.

            **Chris? Where are ya?** Vin thought.

Almost instantly he heard his soul brother. **Coming. Where are you? Are you alright?**


Vin tried to glance around and dizziness hit him as the horse under them swerved another way. Swallowing hard, he kept his eyes closed and answered, **Think we’re getting near the stream. Its high he’ll have to slow. On some trail.**


            **Almost to the trees. We’ll find you, hang in there.**


            **Tryin’,**  Vin replied just before they hit an opening alongside the stream. The horse took a mighty jump into the cold water. The rider clung to Vin as they landed in the deep water.

As they hit the water, Vin cried out when he collided with a submerged boulder when the rider's horse fell. The rider’s grip loosened as he was thrown from his mount. With a heave Vin freed himself and pushed away from the kidnapper. The man’s horse, on its side, thrashed in the water before it managed to get its feet under him and rose in the water. Snorting the gelding surged to the other side of the deep, wide stream. The rider started towards Vin his hand pulling his blaster free. A furious, roaring, black monster crashed into the water and lunged for the man.

In shock Vin realized it was Peso and immediately called to his mount. For a long moment the angry horse ignored him as he struck the other man. When a loud whistle cut thru the air the enraged stallion stopped. His head turned to his injured master who stood waist deep in the cold water ten feet away.

“Come on Peso, let’s get out of here. I need your help, come here boy.”

The black grumbled, his head turned to the man he had attacked then back to his master before he moved to Vin’s side. His velvet nose nuzzled his master and moved through Vin's wet hair. Vin scratched his horses head and grabbed a loose rein. “Get over here. I’m cold, wet and hurting.”  

Peso stepped to Vin’s side, blocking and slowing the rush of water like a horse dam. It allowed Vin  time to scramble into the saddle. Peso turned towards the shore, where loud crashing in the brush heralded the arrival of Chris, who appeared a moment later.

With a tired smile Vin patted Peso. “You did good my friend.” He nudged the horse to move to Chris's side and let Chris lead them back through the woods. Chris tossed a dry blanket over Vin once he and Peso were out of the water.

Vin shivered as they worked their way through the trees. When they reached the edge of the brush and entered a small green area. Vin smiled hearing the thunder from more hooves as their friends came racing towards. Peso growled then ignored the arriving riders. Before Vin could say a word, Nathan was beside him, helping him off Peso and beginning to check him over. Vin grinned as Nathan muttered something about hard headed and scaring them all out of their wits. 

“I’m fine Nathan. Just cold and wet. I’ll change as soon as we get home. I’m fine.” Vin shot a glance to Chris when he heard a chuckle.   

**I AM FINE!** He sent as a shiver shook him once more.

**I know you are Pard, though I think you scared Nathan. Let him fuss another minute then we’ll head for home.**   

Vin nodded his head and allowed Nathan to finish checking him.

A couple of minutes later Nathan looked at his wet friend. “You have a slight concussion and bruising over your ribs. I didn’t find any breaks. You’ll be fine in a few days, just sore for awhile. You will have a headache though, for a few days. You should take it easy until it is gone.”

“Thanks Nathan, let’s go home.” Vin said as he saw Josiah, Ezra and Buck coming through the trees from the stream, leading a bay horse with a man tied over his saddle.

“Hey Vin, looks like you have a good guardian in Peso. This man’s dead.” Buck said as they halted near Chris, Vin and Nathan.

“There’s a few others somewhere around here too. Peso didn’t take kindly ta them for attacking me.” He patted the black’s arched neck as the horse nuzzled him again before giving him a sharp nip.

“Hey! I thanked you mule, and this is the way you repay me?” Vin rubbed his shoulder as the horse looked down at him.

Blowing through his nose Peso lowered his head over Vin’s shoulder. Careful of his deadly horns, he pulled the slight young man against his chest in a horse hug.  

Vin smiled at his horse, rubbed his ears and around his horns as he thanked him again for saving his life. “You are my trusted friend. You'll be with me for a long time. Thanks Peso for helping me out. I'll give you extra grain when we get home.”

With wide grins the men watched Vin talking to the big stallion who seemed to take in all of his words, and then nodded his head. Chris finally reached to help Vin mount and within minutes they were heading through the brush to see if they could find the other men before going back to town.  

It didn't take long to find the bodies, along with a wounded horse and a dead one. The men looked at Peso, the horse had saved Vin. The black seemed to smile at them, he knew what he'd done. He saved his human.

After checking the wounded horse over they figured he could carry weight. They tied the dead men on the two horses, then headed for home.  

Peso pranced beside Chris’s black, happy once more that his man was on his back, where he belonged.


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