From here to there - and back again
My thanks go to my beta - NotTasha.
Written in Response to the Jan Challenge 03 by Angela B (AceofSpades):-
Write a story in which one (or more) of the guy's horses goes missing. (If you are using an AU in which there are no horses go ahead and use the mode of transportation used)
Story moved to Blackraptor in October 2009
The hairs along the back of his
neck trembled and a churning sensation started to swell in his stomach.
A deep fury surged to the surface and a scowl pressed over his
unconventionally handsome face. His hand stayed on the stall, his
legs numbed to the spot. He stared resolutely at the very empty
stall. Where the hell was Saber? His intense eyes searched the
rows of stalls to the left and right, but failed to find the missing
gelding. Chris Larabee growled deeply in his throat. “No one
takes my horse!”
Stamping over the
straw-covered floor, his mood soured by the theft. He pushed
irritably through the opening, grinding to a halt at Yosemite’s quiet
Larabee spun on
his heels. “What did you say, Yosemite?”
The large man,
unprepared for the resounding fury, gritted his teeth, but remained
stationary under the steady glare of the gunslinger. “Jest asked,
if ya were goin’ ridin’ now.”
Chris flicked his
eyes back to the empty stall, and stepped toward the liveryman. What
did Yosemite find so amusing about all of this? “You know where
Saber is?” Chris all but sneered.
Yosemite answered calmly, leaning on the three-pronged fork with a casual
to mean somethin’?” Larabee asked, none too friendly.
up his lips, confused by the gunman’s irritation. “Had ‘im
saddled and waiting out front, just like ya asked.” Yosemite
paused, wondering if Larabee’s peek was aimed at something he’d
forgotten to do, but he couldn’t think what that could be.
“Even left a bucket of water for ‘im afta ya didn’t turn up straight
“So where is
he?” And when exactly had Chris conveyed this request to Yosemite
to saddle his horse?
front…” Yosemite waved beyond the doors, wondering why Chris hadn’t
seen Saber before he’d entered. The tall liveryman ambled outside
intent to cancel any further disquiet, but his gasp left his mouth before
he could call it back. “I swear he was right there only ten
minutes ago…saw ‘im when I came out ta talk with Mr. O’Grady.”
Yosemite studied the earth, kicking up the dust as though it would give
him some clue to the missing animal. “He’s gone,” the
liveryman announced unnecessarily.
Chris, as angry as
he was, knew instinctively that Yosemite had not harmed his horse.
But he would get to the bottom his this. “When did I tell you to
saddle Saber?” He’d had a few drinks the night before, but he
was damn sure he would have remembered offering such instructions.
chuckled, but seeing the gunslinger was deadly serious with the question,
decided it was in his best interest to answer them. “Well, it was
this mornin’. Said ya wanted ta go ridin’ after lunch.”
Now Larabee was
starting to get suspicious. He knew he wasn’t drunk this morning
and he distinctly had not spoken with Yosemite until a moment ago.
“I told you I was goin’ ridin’?” Chris asked sceptically.
“What do you
mean…kinda? Either I did or I didn’t?”
“It was in the
bellowed. “What Goddamned note?”
“The note you
gave to Billy to give to me… Saw ya hand it to him myself, so I
knew it came from you.”
Larabee opened his
mouth to argue some more, but closed it instead and a sneer closed over
his features. “Of all the assine…That Weasel…I’ll kill
him!” Larabee ignored the startled look from Yosemite and stalked
irately to the saloon. “I’m gonna wring his neck, then I’m
gonna gut shoot him,” he mumbled as he crossed down the street veering
to the saloon. “Standish, you’re a dead man!”
have guessed at the conman’s duplicity that morning, should have
followed his gut instincts and not acquiesced with Standish’s request.
How stupid did the gambler think he was? Surely Ezra would have
known Chris would figure it out.
Ezra Standish had
handed Chris the note not long after he’d left the restaurant.
Ezra had asked Larabee to pass on the missive to Billy Travis and when the
child had appeared in the middle of the street while they were talking,
the gambler had pushed him off the boardwalk toward the child, saying that
he hadn’t breakfasted yet and the child would unintentionally hold him
up and he would have to forgo his morning repast. At the time it
made little sense to the gunman, but what could it hurt by passing on a
simple note to a child? Chris fumed as his boots hit the wooden
walkway. When a man stoops to using a child to steal a man’s
horse, he was only fit to be hanged. His hands clenched as he stood
on the doorstep, scanning the innards of the saloon.
Ezra lifted his
gaze from his cards and met those of Larabee’s; he felt like he was
facing down the proverbial rampaging bull. He smiled involuntarily,
wondering at the gunman’s temperamental demeanour. Ezra settled
his cards on the table, his eyes never leaving Larabee as he thundered
inside the building. He heard the stifled chuckle from Buck and
instinctively kicked the ladies’ man in the shins under the table.
Ezra had a sneaking suspicion Wilmington knew more than he should.
But Standish wasn’t one to sit on the sidelines and watch; he wanted
part of the action, even if he was going to get more than he bargained
for. “Something Ah can help you with?”
over the table, hands flared on his hips, and fingers itching to use his
gun. “Where’s my horse, you snake infested, conniving, momma’s
Mr. Larabee? Tut tut…”
Swifter than a
rattler strike, Chris yanked the Southerner from his seat and propelled
him to the bar. With his hand knotted in the front of Ezra’s
shirt, Chris pressed hard against his throat, effectively cutting off the
gambler’s airway. “Where is he?” Chris hissed, his face mere
inches from his victim.
struggle, knowing it would be futile and would only cause more harm to
himself in the long run. He did want to escape this incident fully
intact, but such plans were going to be by the wayside soon if Larabee
didn’t release the pressure on his throat. He did need to draw
breath at some point, and it was beginning to become rather difficult. He
still had the hideout as a last resort; he was hoping it wouldn’t come
down to that.
Wilmington followed the attack, and slapped his hand hard on Larabee’s
shoulder, to capture the gunslinger’s attention. He wanted Larabee
to be the one to call off his assault on the gambler, but if need be, Buck
would intervene. “Chris,” he whispered close to his ear,
“Think about what yer doing, pard.” Buck glanced over his
shoulder, the whole room had gone quiet, so absorbed in the proceedings.
“Lots of witnesses…” he smiled sympathetically at the choking
unclenched his fingers, wincing slightly at the bruising on the
gambler’s neck. He didn’t step away from Ezra, but leaned closer
and hissed. “Where’s my horse!”
“What brings you
to the conclusion that Ah have absconded with your horse?” Standish
queried, rubbing his tender neck.
“That damn note
you gave me this morning…” Chris watched for the expected
understanding, but Standish faced him with a clearly confused expression.
Could be just an act…
“What has my
delivering a missive to do with your horse?”
“Billy gave it
arched higher. And that implicates me how he was tempted to ask?
“Ah yes…” Standish stalled. “I had spoken with Master
William earlier and asked him to pass on said message to Yosemite,
unfortunately I’d left it inside my room and needed to return to collect
“Ah Hah! I
knew it!” Larabee declared, triumphantly pointing his finger at the
Standish shook his
head, dismayed. “Such an act surely doesn’t implicate me in
clear ya either,” Chris growled.
say, pard?” Tanner asked.
ta saddle Saber for this afternoon and leave him out front of the livery,
but he’s gone now!” Chris finished with a roar, glaring frostily at
interrupted, “Why did you write that note?”
“And if you know
where Chris’ horse is, ya best return it,” Jackson added.
write that note,” Standish flushed, offended by the slight. “And
Ah don’t know the whereabouts of said steed!”
it come from?” Chris pressed, not willing to believe Standish as yet.
roughly and sighed. Why was it so difficult to do a good deed without the
consequent repercussions? “Mrs Travis requested Ah pass along the note
to Yosemite. Ah only requested your assistance, Mr Larabee
“Mary gave it to
you?” Chris shouted, bewildered by the change of circumstances.
Damn! He’d have to rethink things now.
“That is what Ah
said.” Ezra sighed deeply and sagged against the bar, a wry smile
touching the corners of his mouth as he watched Larabee bolt from the
“Hope you know
what you’re doing, son,” Josiah grinned, slapping the smaller man on
returned the preacher’s concerned look with one of defiance.
“Mary gave me the note,” he iterated, and followed on the heels of the
gunman to watch the drama continue to unfold. This was more
entertaining than playing two bit poker with the others.
As Ezra, the other
five peacekeepers exited to the boardwalk out front of the saloon.
It gave them a clear view of the Clarion, although they would not be privy
to the discussion going on behind closed doors. The six men took up
various positions, attempting to feign a casual pose, but to all those
residents who walked the street and to those in the know about what had
preceded their exit, they were obvious in their scrutiny.
later a very irate gunman stormed from the newspaper office. His
boots clipping distinctly on the wooden boards and his jacket flew wildly
behind. He glanced once at the waiting group, and headed their
direction. “Sons of bitches,” he muttered.
goose is cooked, Ezra,” Sanchez grinned sympathetically, and
strategically moved away from the condemned Southerner.
backwards; this is not what he expected. Larabee planted his frame
directly in front of Ezra and the gambler struggled to find the
appropriate words. Why hadn’t Mary backed his claim?
She had given the missive to Ezra to pass along to Yosemite, why
wouldn’t she admit the truth? “Ummm…Ah can assure you…”
Chris glanced at
the stunned expression worn by the gambler. If he weren’t in such
a piss ass mood he would have egged Standish on a bit. But Mary had
confirmed Ezra’s story. More’s the pity, he lamented.
aside the conman and now faced Nathan. “Mary says you gave her the
note,” he confronted. What has gotten into these people?
spun around, eyes wide. “You set me up?”
didn’t do any such thing,” Jackson denied, backing away from Larabee
growled…all he wanted to do was take a ride out to his cabin. The
anger was starting to abate, but he was beginning to become frustrated
with the run around. He was hoping once everything was sorted out,
that somewhere at the end he would find his missing horse.
“Nathan…did you write that note?”
incredulously wide eyes on the gunslinger. “Ah suppose you asked
Mrs Travis just as nicely as you please, like you just did now with Mr
Jackson here,” he remarked sarcastically, “Yet you practically ram
your fist down my throat, and didn’t even give me a chance to respond.
Ah also noticed you didn’t bother to request if Mr. Jackson absconded
with your horse,” Standish drawled.
“I was a
might…peeved at the time, Ezra,” Larabee answered, but not apologising.
He couldn’t rule out the gambler’s involvement in this scheme, and it
did reek with the conman’s flair. “And I know Nathan wouldn’t
take my horse.”
So much for, I’m sorry…. shouldn’t have happened…won’t happen
again,” Ezra grumbled. “Not even a kiss my ass…” he
continued to complain, missing the minute smile Chris couldn’t prevent
Chris. If I thought of it sooner I would have said something, but I
didn’t know that was the same note I gave Mary,” the healer professed.
his arms over his chest. Hadn’t he been expecting this?
“So who gave it to you?”
Potter…But that was two days ago…that’s why I’d forgotten about
covering his face in his hands. Larabee wanted to do the same.
“Got something to add, Josiah?”
and talk to Gloria…we’ll all be here when you get back.”
Chris stared at
the large preacher for a long moment, wondering about his remark.
“I’ll be back.” It wasn’t far to the general merchandise
store. Gloria would settle this matter quickly; and she did.
It took a few minutes of prompting, as it had been a couple of days ago
and she’d dismissed it promptly from her mind as a triviality, but Chris
soon got his answer and returned to the group of peacekeepers. He
noticed as he drew near that Buck, Vin and Ezra were all content upending
a beer; they must have gone back inside to garner the drink in his
absence. God, he could do with one! And why, under
closer inspection, was Josiah nervously toe-tapping on the upright, and
constantly searching the street for his return, not keeping eye contact
when their line of sight clashed for an instant.
“How’d it go,
pard?” Tanner asked, a smirk turning up the corners of his mouth.
“It’d save an
awful lot of time if you boys would just tell me where THE FUCKING HELL MY
HORSE IS!” Chris let his gaze search, in turn, each of the six men.
“Nope?” And six heads shook in unison. “Josiah?” he
prompted, smiling banally at the giant.
“You gave that
note to Gloria…I don’t suppose you wrote the damn thing?” At
Sanchez’s sharp shake of denial, Chris sighed, his shoulders sagging in
defeat. “So if you could just tell me who you got it from?”
wiping his face disconcertedly with his hand. Casey. Was the
girl in town at the moment? Or was he expected to traipse out of
town to talk with the girl? He didn’t even have his horse to ride
at the moment in any case. “JD,” his voice sing-songed,
“…did you give it to Casey?”
her a letter, but Buck gave it to me,” Dunne quickly accused.
turned to the ladies’ man.
shrugged… “Vin gave one to me a few days back…is that what this is
Larabee yelled. Tanner set him up?
“Hey don’t get
yer ass all out of shape, Larabee. You were the one who gave me that
note to pass along to Buck…Don’t cha remember?”
write that damn note!!!!” Chris shouted, not concerned by the stares
this outburst garnered him.
“We were sitting
inside, three nights ago, when that wire came in, you remember? You
asked me to see that Buck got it…”
remember. “That ain’t the same note that Yosemite got this
Wilmington goaded. “Did you read Yosemite’s note?”
“Then I reckon
you were the one who sent it to Yosemite after all,” Vin grinned.
“I DID NOT!”
Chris roared, swinging around to confront the Texan. “None of
which helps me any to find my horse!”
your steed standing beside that grey?” Ezra asked curiously.
be…” Chris didn’t finish. His mouth hung open as he stared at
his black gelding, saddled and waiting by the trough, both reins trailing
in the dirt. “He hasn’t been here all this time…” he
stammered lamely, hoping one of the others would agree with him.
“Can’t say for
sure,” Josiah pursed his lips and looked to the sky, “But we’d have
seen Yosemite bringing him over, and since we didn’t…”
Larabee glared at
the preacher. “You expect me to believe this?” he waved his arms
about emphatically. He couldn’t even say for certain if he’d
seen Saber standing there all this time…surely Chris would have noticed?
became bored waiting for you to arrive and found another way to pass the
time,” Ezra commented.
“This is a
fucking horse we’re talking about, Standish, it’s not capable of
thinking for itself.”
smiling deceptively. “Chaucer has no problems with manipulating a
mere slipknot.” This brought a collective chuckle from the other
peacekeepers. The gambler had taught his horse many such tricks.
glared at the gambler. “You keep that overgrown dog away from my
horse! And if I catch you teaching Saber any of that ornery cuss’s
tricks I’ll skin you alive.”
have you know, Chaucer is…”
were goin’ for a ride, cowboy?” Vin grinned, deliberately cutting
short Ezra’s defence of his horse.
Larabee glared at the younger man. “When I get back…” he warned, smiling smugly as he climbed into the saddle. Heads are gonna roll, he finished, without uttering a word. Let them stew on that, he mused as he put boot leather against Saber’s flanks. He stopped at the end of the street, turning at the sounds of his fellow peacekeeper’s laughter; “I wouldn’t laugh too loudly, boys.” Someone’s gonna pay for this! And pay dearly!
I do hope you enjoyed reading this. I would love to hear your comments.