Based on the Marty Robbins song "Big Iron"
Author's Note: I had to change the Texas Ranger part of the song to make it fit Chris. The song was the inspiration for the fic, but is not actually used as such in the story.
Disclaimer: Neither the song nor the Mag 7 characters are mine, no profit made.
The small desert town of Agua Fria sat sweltering under the morning sun. It was already hot even that early. If not for the cold spring and intermittent creek that gave the village its name, it might as well have been called Hades.
Citizens were going rather desultorily about their business when a stranger came riding in from the south. Hazel eyes that appeared a hard, light green looked around slowly, taking in everything from under a flat-crowned ebony hat, yet revealing nothing in return. Black pants, boots, and a silver-trimmed gunbelt with a bone-handled Colt matched the dark hue of the headgear. A pale gray shirt worn in deference to the heat provided the only light spot in the rider's garb. Even his horse was a midnight shade with a white star the only relief in the dusky coat.
People paused on the sagging boardwalk or in their doorways to watch the stranger move past. A few nodded or spoke as the icy gaze caught theirs, but the man in black just dipped his head in acknowledgment, not saying much in reply.
"Gotta be an outlaw. Look at that .45 on his hip." "Bet he's on the run. Man looks downright scary." "Wonder how many men he's killed?" "I wouldn't cross 'im. Looks like he means business way he wears that Peacemaker," came from everyone's mouth as they took in the lean, dangerous form. Everybody wondered why he was there, but no one was brave enough to ask - or even to say much of anything, in case they slipped and offended the lethal-looking figure.
Coming to the saloon, the rider halted and dismounted. At least six feet tall, dark blond hair was revealed as he slid his hat off to hang down his back by the stampede string. Spurs jingled from silver-trimmed harness as he stepped up onto the boardwalk. Pulling out a cheroot, he paused to strike a match on the sole of his boot and light the slender cigar. A wisp of blue-tinted smoke circled his head as he took a puff, then pushed open the bat-wing doors and entered the drinking establishment. Everyone noted the lithe, cat-like grace and a few felt shivers run up their spines at the almost prowling movements the powerful figure displayed.
Agua Fria was also home to an outlaw that the residents called Texas Red. Though only twenty-four, the vicious bandit and had killed twenty men, some for no real reason at all except that they annoyed him. Red thought he was the toughest, fastest pistoleer around and the town's residents couldn't help but wonder how the outlaw would take his territory being invaded by this new gunman. Especially when they heard the man in black finally start talking in the saloon.
"Name's Chris Larabee. I'm one of the peacekeepers in Four Corners. Lookin' for a man named Texas Red. Heard he holes up in these parts." The blond turned and leaned against the bar, addressing the room at large. "Anybody seen him lately?"
"Why you wantin' to know?" asked one brave fellow, taking a fortifying sip of his whiskey as the hard gaze swung to him.
"He killed the son of a farmer just for brushin' up against him. Boy was only 15. Not sure what y'all call it, but in our town, we call it murder. I'm here to take him back and the warrant from the judge says - alive or dead'. Don't rightly care which way he goes - sittin' in his saddle or slung over it."
No one answered, but Chris' sharp eyes caught the movement as a man slipped from the rear of the saloon and headed out the back door. He didn't figure it would take long for him to find out what he wanted to know, one way or the other.
When the news was reported to Texas Red, the outlaw just shrugged. "Ain't worried. Twenty men already tried to take me. This peacekeeper fellow will just be number twenty-one. Tell him he don't have to come lookin'. I'll meet him a little after eleven."
The guy warning the outlaw tried to give him a head's up. "Better be careful, Red. I've heard 'a this Larabee. Faster'n a strikin' rattler. They say he's one of the deadliest pistoleers since Wild Bill Hickok. Reminds a lot of folks of Johnny Ringo . . . ."
"Then he can die just like Hickok and Ringo," smirked Red, waving the other man back where he came from.
The smaller man rather reluctantly returned to the saloon and told the dangerous-looking blond what the outlaw had said. For a moment he was afraid the gunman was going to shoot the messenger, but all Larabee did was nod in understanding and turn back to his drink.
It was already almost ten, so the rest of the morning passed quickly. It was a little past eleven when Texas Red rode into town and swung off of his horse. Folks moved inside and posted themselves at their windows to watch the shootout. Many held their breath, a bit sad to see the handsome peacekeeper meet his death, as they were sure he would.
Red called into the saloon. "Larabee! You wanted me - well I'm here!"
Chris took a last swallow of his whiskey and sat the glass down with a small thump. The cheroot was thrown in the spittoon and then the dark form turned toward the entrance. Spurs jingled softly as the lean figure strode gracefully across the plank floor, one hand reaching to pull his hat up by the string and then settling it securely on his head. If he was worried, it certainly didn't show. His movements were unconcerned and sure as he stepped through the batwing doors onto the boardwalk.
Green eyes looked down on the shorter outlaw where the man stood in the dust of the street. For the first time Red felt a tingle of doubt run down his spine at the cold jade gaze. The russet-haired man shrugged the feeling off, however.
"I heard you're fast," he sneered.
A smirk like a big cat eyeing its prey curved up the sculpted lips above him. "Yeah? I heard that too."
Another frisson of uncertainty skittered over the younger form. That soft voice sounded calm and sure of itself, making him a little nervous. Then he shook his head to get rid of the premonition. No one had been able to take him, and he'd faced some quick draws. This law dog wouldn't be any different.
"Let's do this," he said defiantly. Larabee simply nodded and strode off of the walkway into the street.
There was forty feet between them when they stopped to face each other. The bartender waited a minute and then waved a white rag. Those watching didn't even have time to release their bated breath before it was over. The men drew at the same time, but the speed of the tall blond was blinding. Texas Red's gun didn't even clear his holster before Larabee's bullet ripped into him, and the peacekeeper's aim was lethal. The outlaw's eyes grew large with disbelief as he looked down at the red staining his shirt over his heart. His Remington swung around and dangled from suddenly numb fingers as he watched his life's blood drain away in morbid fascination. Then he was crashing into the dirt of the street, unaware of anything ever again.
It was over in just seconds. Awed, the townsfolk started gathering around to congratulate Larabee and to gawk and gloat over the dead body of the outlaw. He might have gone on living, but he made one fatal error. And that was thinking he could beat the dark-garbed man with the Colt on his hip.
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Here's the lyrics to "Big Iron" by Marty Robbins if you're interested in my inspiration.
Big Iron - Marty Robbins
To the town of Agua Fria rode a stranger one fine day
Hardly spoke to folks around him, didn't have too much to say,
No one dared to ask his business, no one dared to make a slip
For the stranger there among them had a big iron on his hip,
big iron on his hip
It was early in the morning when he rode into town
He came riding from the south side, slowly lookin' all around
"He's an outlaw loose and runnin'", came a whisper from each lip
"And he's here to do some business with the big iron on his hip,
big iron on his hip"
In the town there lived an outlaw by the name of Texas Red
Many men had tried to take him and that many men were dead
He was vicious and a killer, though a youth of twenty four
And the notches on his pistol numbered one and nineteen more,
one and nineteen more
Now the stranger started talkin' made it plain to folks around
Was an Arizona ranger, wouldn't be too long in town
He came there to take an outlaw back alive or maybe dead
And he said it didn't matter that he was after Texas Red,
after Texas Red
Wasn't long before this story was relayed to Texas Red
But the outlaw didn't worry, men that tried before were dead
Twenty men had tried to take him, twenty men had made a slip,
wenty one would be the ranger with the big iron on his hip,
big iron on his hip
The morning past so quickly and it was time for them to meet
It was twenty past eleven when they walked out on the street
Folks were watchin' from their windows, everybody held their breath,
For they knew that handsome ranger was about to meet his death,
about to meet his death
There was forty feet between them
when they stopped to make their play
And the swiftness of the Ranger still talked about today
Texas Red had not cleared leather when a bullet fairly ripped
And the ranger's aim was deadly, with the big iron on his hip,
big iron on his hip
It was over in a moment and the folks had gathered 'round
There before them lay the body of the outlaw on the ground
Well, he might have gone on livin' but he made one final slip
When he tried to match the ranger with the big iron on his hip,
big iron on his hip
Big iron, big iron,
He tried to match the ranger with the big iron on his hip,
Big iron on his hip