He'd give anything to go back in time and change it, but he couldn't.

Nobody could.

Not even the men Judge Travis had hired to protect Four Corners all those months ago.

JD swallowed hard, wincing as the coarse rope cut into his skin. Looking down from the roof JD silently counted Cooper's men.

Vin and Ezra were outnumbered at least ten to one....he had to stop this before there was any more innocent blood spilled.

JD's gaze focused on the former bounty hunter,"Vin, please just go. A little girl died because of me, I have to pay for that."

"Nobility has its place,"Ezra replied,"But not here,Mr. Dunne. You're right someone has to pay for that little girl's death but not you. There was a man on the roof of the building next door.It was his weapon that fired and hit the girl,not yours."

+ + + + + + +

The three men tethered their horses near the back of an alley Josiah had spotted.

As they crept along the small passage Chris noticed the rubble of the Saloon next to them. The fresh embers brought back painful memories of his own but Chris shoved them away.

JD needed them to have a clear head.

"Stop right there!"A female voice ordered as Chris suddenly found himself staring down the barrel of a pistol,"Or I'll fill you so full of holes no one will recognize you!"

Buck held up his hands as he came to stand next to Chris,"Easy Miss, we ain't your enemy."

Colleen's finger tightened on the trigger as she sized up the three men,"Why should I believe you?"

Josiah stepped forward as he extended a hand toward the young woman,"We're friends,Ma'am. We're not going to hurt you."

Anderson nervously tapped Colleen's shoulder as he looked at Chris,"Miss Colleen....."

"Not right now Michael."Colleen replied,"If you're *friends* why did you come into town the back way?"

Anderson placed a hand on her shoulder grabbing her attention,"I recognize them,Colleen. They're part of the group that protects Four Corners."

Colleen looked warily at Chris,"You're sure?"

Anderson nodded,"Yes."

Larabee was about to reply when Buck gestured toward the front of the alley,"Chris....."

"I see it."Chris replied softly as he followed his friend's gaze to where JD was precariously perched on the bank's roof....a noose around the youth's neck.

Buck was about to step out of the alley when Ezra's voice drifted back to them.

"Nobility has its place,"Ezra was saying,"But not here,Mr. Dunne. You're right someone has to pay for that little girl's death but not you. There was a man on the roof of the building next door.It was his weapon that fired and hit the girl,not yours."

Buck ducked his head briefly as relief washed over him.

/Thank God this nightmare was finally over./Buck thought as he glanced over at Chris,/Now if they could just get the kid to believe it./

+ + + + + + +

Vin cursed silently as Cooper suddenly stepped in front of JD blocking Vin's shot at the rope.

"I don't know what you have against my family,Mister,"Cooper replied as he glared at Ezra,"But I don't take kindly to liars."

At Cooper's nod five of his men moved forward slowly surrounding Vin and Ezra.

Ezra's green eyes narrowed but he held his ground,"I assure you Mr. Cooper what my colleague and I are saying is the truth."

+ + + + + + +

Buck had just pulled out his gun when a strong hand clamped down on his left shoulder.

"Shooting oneself in the foot is not the best way to handle this situation."Josiah's quiet baritone said from the shadows as he released his grip on Wilmington.

Chris nodded at Josiah's statement,"He's right Buck. If we go out there with gun's blazin' JD will likely get killed."

+ + + + + + +

Squinting against the morning sun recognization flashed across Martin Cooper's face,"Well lookee what we have here,boys. Part of Larabee's mighty peacekeeper's. Make sure they have a front row seat, they're just in time to watch justice be served."

JD closed his eyes as he fought against the wave of fear that threatened to overwhelm him.

He didn't know why he was afraid.

He had been preparing for this moment since the trial.

He should be ready to face death......but he wasn't.

Cooper roughly grasped JD's left shoulder as he shoved the boy forward,"Open your eyes! I want the last thing you see to be the place where you took my little niece's life!"

JD's foot slipped as he stopped at the roof's edge nearly toppling over in the process.

The youth had just regained his balance when he heard a gun hammer click.

"You lay another hand on that boy and I'll make sure you and your niece are reunited."Buck stated quietly as he leveled his gun at Cooper's head.

Cooper laughed as he lazily twirled the rope that was JD's life line. He was clearly unfazed by Buck's threat.

"My father ran out on us shortly after Martha was born."Martin replied softly as he absently tugged on the coarse rope causing JD to teeter dangerously on the roof's edge.

Buck took a step forward then stopped. He had a clear shot at Cooper and could easily take him out. But with Cooper's unstable state of mind Buck didn't dare risk a shoot out.

He glanced to his right and saw Chris moving slowly across the roof of the next building, gun drawn.

With Vin and Ezra below and Josiah on the roof across the street they had Cooper pretty well surrounded.

They just had to wait for the right opportunity to get JD to safety.

Lost in his memories of the past Cooper continued his story pushing JD closer to the edge with every step Cooper took,"When Martha was five my mother left dumping us off at her father's. Guess she couldn't take the stress any longer. Only her father seemed more interested in the bottle than rasin' us so it was left to me."

+ + + + + + +

Ezra saw Buck creep up behind Cooper and decided to take advantage of his colleague's timely arrival.

Standish raised his derringer higher as he came to stand even with Vin,"You gentlemen look fairly intelligent so I suggest you drop your firearms and move away from the establishment."

When the group of men looked at Ezra with blank stares Vin chuckled as he gestured with his rifle,"He said drop your guns and move."

The men exchanged glances before reluctantly removing their gunbelts and dropping them to the ground.

+ + + + + + +

Buck saw Chris start to cross over to the bank's roof and held up his hand to stop him.

With Cooper opening up about his past Buck thought he had a chance to talk the man down.

Or at the very least distract Cooper long enough so Chris could get JD out of harm's way.

Larabee nodded in acknowledgment and crouched near the edge of the roof.

+ + + + + + +

As the sun began to rise over Four Corners, Nathan Jackson was beginning to rethink his decision to help people medically.

His original diagnosis about Orin's poison seemed to be way off.

The older man seemed to be getting worse with each passing moment and Nathan was quickly running out of ideas.

The Judge's skin was pale as moonlight and his breathing had become extremely shallow. On top of that he had spiked a high fever.

He had sent Mary to his room to get some herbs that he had recently gotten from one of the Semoile medicine men.

But Nathan knew that at this point the only thing that would save the Judge's life now was the antidote.

And the only one who knew if an antidote existed was Martin Cooper.

Nathan sighed wearily.....he could only hope his friends pulled off a miracle in Coral Canyon.

As far as he could see Martin Cooper wasn't interested in helping anyone who were friends of the man he thought had killed his niece.

+ + + + + + +

As Cooper continued to babble what Vin had said earlier slowly began to sink in for JD.

A witness.

As long as JD had known the tracker, Vin had never lied to them.

So could it be possible that what his friends said was the truth?

Could he be innocent?

He just wished he could see what was going on but Cooper's grip on the rope left him no choice but to face the way Cooper wanted him too.