Mary Travis ran up the steps to Nathan's room sometimes taking them two at a time. Near the top she nearly fell after the corner of her nightgown snagged on a piece of broken railing. She paused barely long enough to rip the fabric free before continuing on her journey

Nathan was just finishing the last stich on Buck's shoulder when Mary Travis burst into the room, her blue eyes filled with worry.

Buck was the first to speak, rising to his feet, as he exchanged a concerned glance with Nathan,"Miz Travis?"He asked with concern as he placed his good hand on her right shoulder.

Mary looked past him to Nathan,"Mrs. Potter told me about the trouble at the jail so I went up to tell the Judge. Nathan, I couldn't wake him, no matter what I tried."

Nathan nodded as he stepped past Buck,"Was he feelin' ill?"He asked Mary as he gave Buck a warning look motioning the gunslinger back toward the bed.

Wilmington glared at the healer but took a few steps backward.

Mary shook her head,"No, at least he seemed fine to me. But you know Orin he wouldn't say anything even if he was sick."

Jackson looked back at Buck,"You, stay here and get some rest. I'm not through wrapping that arm yet."He placed a gentle hand on Mary's arm,"I have to gather a few things I'll be right behind you."

Mary nodded as she turned and exited the room.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra stood suddenly and walked over to the broken window. The gambler's suspicions were confirmed as he took in the left side of the street.

Without a word to Vin, Standish turned and quickly walked toward the door.

Vin grabbed his hat and gun before catching up with Ezra at the door,"What's goin' on?"

Ezra barely spared his friend a glance as he scurried down the hall and started down the staircase,"No time to explain, Mr. Tanner. Just trust me in the fact that someone is in dire need of our assistance."

Then Vin's nose caught whiff of the trouble the gambler had spotted.


+ + + + + + +

As soon as the door closed behind Nathan, Buck moved quickly to the bed grabbing his shirt. Pain shot through his shoulder as he buttoned his shirt.

As he grabbed his gunbelt Buck was sure he had ripped several of the stiches but he'd deal with Nathan's wrath later.

With the Judge out of commisson the odds of keeping JD out of Cooper's lynch mob had just dwindled.

Buck barely paused to close the door behind him as he started down the stairs. He didn't like those odds, not one bit.

+ + + + + + +

Colleen McAlister blinked groggily into the darkness trying to figure out what had awaken her. She wearily pushed herself into a sitting postion as she listened.

It had taken her longer than she had thought to clean up the mess Miller's drunkenness had caused. But the hard work had been worth it, she had the saloon all ready to reopen tonight.

Then she smelled it, smoke, coming from below.

The saloon was on fire.

The brown haired woman cursed silently as she sprang out of bed,/Miller, I swear if you have anything to do with this I'll hunt you down./

Colleen ran to the door and grabbed the handle, instantly regretting the move as heat seaped into the palm of her hand. She yanked her hand back just in time to see smoke billowing under the door.

+ + + + + + +

By the time Vin caught up with Ezra angry orange flames had captured the entire main floor of the saloon.

The tracker wondered how many people besides Colleen were trapped on the second floor.

Both men studied the fire for a moment before Tanner tapped Standish's shoulder,"Hasn't spread to the back yet."

Ezra nodded as he ran down the alley, Vin close at his heels.

+ + + + + + +

Even though it was two hours before dawn,Richard Murray leaned against the porch railing of his ranch house. The black haired man in his late thirties absently sipped his cup of coffee as he watched a curl of smoke rise and wrap itself around the town of Coral Canyon.

Murray's smile turned to a frown as he saw a lone rider coming up the main road toward his house.

As the rider came out of the darkness Murray saw it was his second in command, Jarod Miller.

Miller dismounted and climbed the steps onto the porch,"Just recieved a telegram. That idoit Cooper's causin' trouble in Four Corners."

Murray's gaze didn't move from the flames,"Elborate."He ordered quietly.

"He tried to get revenge on that kid sherriff but ended up gettin' into a standoff with Larabee."The brown haired man replied as he handed his boss the small slip of yellow paper.

Murray didn't even acknowledge the piece of paper as he replied,"Sounds like he's helpin' us more than hinderin' us,let it be."

+ + + + + + +

Ezra rounded the corner of the saloon and promptly collided with a solid form.

The gambler grabbed the short man with thining brown hair and slammed him against a stack of crates,"You have two seconds to explain your presence here!"

The man squirmed in Ezra's grasp but one look at Vin's warning glare caused him to reconsider an escape attempt,"There are people trapped in there! I was attempting to put out the fire!"

Ezra didn't release his grip,"Without so much as a bucket to aide you?"

The man glared at him,"Do I look like an arsonist to you?! We're wasting precious time here!"

Vin spotted two buckets next to the water trough at the front of the alley,"Let him go,Ezra."

The gambler released the older man before stepping back to stand next to Vin,"Do you have a ladder?"He asked the stranger as he kept an eye on the fire.

The man nodded and started to leave the alley when Vin's soft voice stopped him,"No time to get one, crates will do."

The trio quickly moved toward the stack of crates.

+ + + + + + +

Mary stood anxiously by the doorway as she watched Nathan examine Orin. It worried her to see her father-in-law so still. Orin Travis was the only family she had left she couldn't imagine loosing him

Nathan didn't say a word as he checked the older man's pulse and pupils. As he walked around to the right side of the bed the toe of his shoe kicked a piece of glass.

Curious the healer knelt down to pick up the broken glass.

"What is it?"Mary asked taking a step into the room.

Nathan stood holding up the broken glass,"Might be alcohol poisonin'."

Mary shook her head,"No, Orin doesn't drink. Or at least I've never seen him drink enough to pass out."

Nathan nodded placing the broken glass on the nightstand as he picked up his small satchel from the end of the bed,"Well he seems to be breathin' alright and his pulse is steady. I'll stay and keep an eye on him just to be sure. I'll mix a herb....."

Nathan's sentance trailed off as he glanced up realizing he was the only one in the room.

"Now where did she go?"Nathan asked his unconsicence patient.

+ + + + + + +

The cell door creeked loudly as Cooper roughly yanked JD out of the cell and into the center of the room.

JD stumbled for a moment but quickly regained his balance only to have three of Cooper's men grabbed him roughly by the shoulder. JD saw Chris raise his revolver and cock the hammer back. He glanced to Larabee's left and saw Josiah do the same.

"Chris don't!"JD shouted catching everyone's attention,"Just let me walk out of here. Its the best for everyone."

Chris shook his head,"You're not thinkin' straight,kid. Let us handle this."

Cooper motioned for his men to take JD outside.

"I don't know why Larabee but he's trying to save your worthless hide."Cooper said with a grin as he started to back out of the building,"I'd listen to him."

"Too bad we don't listen to well."Buck Wilmington commented as he entered through the back door his gun drawn.

Buck fired three shots aiming at the fringe of Cooper's men. He didn't want to risk hitting the kid.

Two went down under Buck's aim as he, Chris and Josiah dove for cover.

Chris took out two more before Cooper fired back.

Josiah winced as he felt the bullet graze his left side. Despite the pain he fired back, taking out one of Cooper's men.

That left only the three holding JD.

JD struggled against the men holding him. His fear wasn't for himself but for the men who had become his friends, his family.

Buck came to stand next Chris a grim smile on his face,"Four to three, I'd say those were even odds."He leveled his gun at Cooper's head,"Let the boy go,Cooper. You're not walkin' out of here."

"Oh I think I am."Cooper replied with a smug smile as he grabbed Mary Travis who had suddenly appeared by the front door.

"Is this how you honor your neice,Cooper?"Chris asked his blue eyes narrowing into slits,"By hiding behind a woman and an innocent man?"