Reaching the back table Chris picked up a chair and spun it around so he could lean his arms against the back.
Cooper didn't acknowledge Larabee's presence outwardly, but Chris knew the man knew he was there.
So Chris just waited and watched. He knew that sometimes silence was more of a weapon than a gun.
One,two, three times the shot glass emptied and was refilled.
Only on the fourth refill did Cooper meet Chris's gaze,"What do you people want with me?"He asked in a voice coarse and worn with emotion.
"You tried to bring justice for your family and I can appreciate that,"Chris began softly,"But you went about it the wrong way. A good friend of mine nearly lost his life and another is fightin' for his because of you."
Chris's last statement seemed to filter through the alcohol induced fog that had settled over Cooper's brain,"The boy take a turn for the worse?"He asked trying to figure out what Chris ment.
Josiah placed a warning hand on Buck's left shoulder and Wilmington nodded. Now was not the time to beat Cooper to a pulp, no matter how much Buck wanted to.
Larabee shook his head,"No, JD's goin' to be just fine. You or one of your men poisoned Judge Travis before you left Four Corners. We'd like the antidote."
Cooper turned his attention back to the bottle in front of him,"No antidote."
At that statement Chris stood and grabbed the younger man by the shirt collar literally lifting him off the floor.
"That was the wrong answer."Larabee replied as he pulled his revolver out of his gunbelt and leveled it against Cooper's head.
Cooper struggled futily in Chris's grasp,"No poison, no antidote."He finally managed to say.
Buck stepped up to the pair his gun drawn,"Now why don't I believe you."
Despite the stranglehold Chris had Cooper glared at Buck,"Why...would I lie? Got nothin' against the Judge."
Wilmington cocked the hammer on his gun as he took a step closer,"He didn't hang JD right away you might have thought he went easy on the kid. So you decided to teach him a lesson."
Cooper shook his head,"As long as Dunne hung didn't matter none to me what day it was. I swear me nor none of my men had anything to do with a poison."
"Least not that you knew of."Chris replied as he let go of Cooper allowing the man to slump into the chair.
Larabee turned back to face Tanner,"Vin, see what you can find out about the men we got in the jail."
Vin nodded and started to head for the door of the hotel when Cooper's hoarse voice halted him.
"There is one who might have been fool enough."Cooper stated as he stood on shaky legs.
"Kadison."Cooper replied,"Greg Kadison."
+ + + + + + +
"Which one?"Chris demanded as the group entered the Sheriff office.
Cooper squinted at the men in the jail before gesturing to the red haired young man asleep on the bunk.
"He's the one sleepin'."Martin Cooper replied quietly.
Larabee nodded as he, Buck and Vin moved forward. The tracker grabbed the keys from a hook on the wall as he went by.
As soon as the cell was open Chris marched forward and grabbed the younger man by the shirt collar yanking him roughly off the bunk.
Kadison fell to the floor with a loud thud.
Kadison started to rise to his feet, fists clenched but backed off as soon as he saw the three guns pointed at him.
"Who the hell are you?"Kadison demanded as he scooted into a sitting position.
Chris yanked the ranchhand off the floor and held him against the wall above the bunk,"Someone who's not in a good mood."
Kadison smirked,"Hangover will do that to a man."
Larabee glared at him as he tightened his grip on Kadison's throat,"Now we can do this the easy way or the hard way. Easy way, you give us what we want and I let you live. Hard way, I let Josiah over there beat you to death."
Kadison's blue eyes flickered over to the big man leaning against the wall.
Josiah for his part put on his best menacing glare and held up his left fist.
Kadison paled visibly as he turned his attention back to Larabee,"What....do you want?"
"You poisoned a friend of ours back in Four Corners."Chris replied,"Now we want the antidote."
The red haired man shook his head,"I didn't poison nobody!"
Larabee glanced back at Josiah who took a menacing step toward the cell.
Kadison swallowed hard and nodded meekly.
Chris let go of the cowboy and he slid onto the bunk.
"Where is it?"Buck demanded as he cocked back the hammer of his revolver.
Kadison reached down and pulled off his left boot. Turning the boot upside down Kadison tapped the heel once.
A small compartment sprung open revealing a tiny glass vile no more than an inch long.
Kadison removed the vile of purple liquid and reluctantly handed it to Larabee.
With a nod at Kadison, Chris motioned for the others to exit the cell.
Once outside the cell, Chris carefully handed the small vile to Josiah.
"Josiah....."Larabee began but the former preacher already saw where he was headed.
"Already gone, Brother Chris."Josiah replied as he carefully wrapped the vile in a red bandanna and walked out of the sheriff's office.
+ + + + + + +
Colleen McAlister stepped aside to allow Buck re-entry to the hotel room.
"How's he doin'?"Buck asked tiredly as he came to stand in front of the bed.
Colleen picked up her light blue shawl from the spare bed,"He's asleep. I had some food brought up in case he woke and was hungry but he didn't wake."
Buck turned to face her,"Thankyou for sittin' with him."
Colleen smiled,"It was the least I could do."She frowned seeing the weariness etched on his features,"If you want to catch a few hours sleep I can stay awhile longer."
Buck shook his head,"I'll sleep when this whole mess is over."
Colleen nodded and quietly left the room.
After she left Buck didn't know how long he stood at the foot of the bed. Content to watch the kid sleep knowing that he was finally safe.
The lack of food and sleep finally started to get to Buck and he retreated to the chair next to the bed.
As he took off his hat Buck rubbed a weary hand over his face.
Had it really only been a month since this whole nightmare started?Buck wondered as he glanced down at the kid's sleeping form.
Had it only been a month since his family was turned upside down.
Family, Buck started at the word but it was true. Somehow in the last few months the makeshift group of gunslingers Chris had thrown together had become a family.
A family that never would have been the same without the youngest member.
Buck's gaze jerked forward as he saw the blanket shift. He glanced at JD and saw that the young man's pale face was twisted in agony as his fists clawed at the top of the blanket. Shoving it up and shoving it down as his feet moved restlessly.
Buck stood gently placing a hand on the kid's shoulder,"JD? Its Buck, you're safe now. Its alright."
Wilmington's voice didn't seem to penetrate as JD's body continued to thrash about. His mind caught in a nightmare that was all too real.
A nightmare about a day he couldn't forget or forgive himself for.
"No!"JD's hoarse voice shouted his eyes still tightly closed,"No! I didn't see her....couldn't stop....too late!"
Buck winced as he tried again to wake JD,"Kid, listen to me. It wasn't your bullet that killed the girl. This wasn't your fault, you saved a man's life you should be proud of that."
Slowly JD's body stilled and his breathing returned to normal.
Just when Buck was about to return to his vigil JD's hazel eyes opened.
"Kid?"Buck asked softly as he saw JD glance around the unfamiliar room.
"Where....."JD asked weakly as his gaze finally focused on the older man.
"You're in the hotel in Coral Canyon."Buck replied carefully watching the kid's reaction.
At the town's name JD's eyes widened as memories came rushing back,"Cooper?"
Buck placed a gentle hand on his shoulder,"Its over,JD. You just rest."
JD glanced at Buck but an object leaning against the wall caught the youth's attention,"We leavin'?"
Buck looked back at the saddlebag and bedroll he had dropped there earlier,"No, not till you're back on your feet,kid."
JD's eyes narrowed,"You're still full of crap,Buck. What's going on?"