M7 "Falsehoods" pt.2
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JD Dunne stood in the alley between the general store and the black smith shop.
Even after his mother died he hadn’t felt this lost.
This unsure.
The young man sighed as he watched the stage coach pull into town for its mid-day stop.
Maybe he should just leave.
Go back east or go to Texas.
Anywhere was better than Four Corners.

But he couldn’t leave Casey.
Not untill he knew she was going to be alright.
Which left him right back where he was.
Lost.

JD ran a weary hand through his dark hair. More than anything he wanted to be at Casey’s side.
To hold her and reassure her that she was safe and that he’d never let anyone hurt her again.
But he felt responsible for her being hurt.
He couldn’t sit by and watch her die.
He needed to do something,anything to avenge what had happened to her.
But there were no clues.
No enemy to fight.
JD leaned against the wall his gaze once again drifting to the stage coach.
*********************************************************

Nathan Jackson quickly moved into Casey’s field of vison as he gently placed a hand on her shoulder easing her back against the pew.
“We’re friends.”The healer said soothingly not liking the dazed look in the young girl’s eyes,”Do you know your name?”
The teen nodded,”Casey Wells.”
“Do you know what town you’re in?”Nathan asked as he pulled the blanket across her lap.
Casey frowned as she thought for a moment then shook her head tearfully,”No,I don’t recognize this place.....or you.”
Nathan smiled reassuringly,”That’s normal after the ordeal you went through. It’ll come back in time.”
Casey glanced at the concerned faces,”What happened to me?”She asked fearfully.

Chris stepped forward kneeling next to her,”I was hoping you could tell us that. Do you recall anything about the men who hurt you?”
The teen bit her lip and shook her head as she withdrew from the group the tears starting to fall once again.
Nathan sent Chris a warning look and the gunslinger relunctantly backed away.
Even with Josiah’s identification of the button Mary found they needed more.
But with Casey’s current state they would have to find that another way.

Larabee glanced at Mary and the two stood to leave. As Chris moved to walk past the pew Casey reached out and grabbed his sleeve. The blond man turned seeing the fear and uncertainty in the young woman’s eyes.
“Please.....”Casey whispered in a barely audible voice,”Stay.”
***********************************

“Plannin’ on robbin’ the stage or runnin’ away?”
JD jumped and whirled around to face Buck Wilmington,”Buck! You should know better than to sneak up on somebody like that!”
Despite the situation the older man grinned as he leaned against the wall,”I wouldn’t have to if you’d stay in one place,kid. I’ve been lookin’ for you for more than an hour.”

Casey’s face floated past his mind’s eye causing fear to race up the young man’s spine,”Is Casey....?”His voice weakened and broke forcing JD to swallow hard and try again,”Is she.....worse?”
Buck moved forward and quickly placed a reassuring hand on the youth’s shoulder,”No,JD she’s not any worse.”
JD shook off Buck’s hand and slumped against the oppisite wall his hazel eyes filled with sadness,”But she’s not gettin’ any better.”
“JD,you listen to me.”Buck said as he moved away from the wall,”Casey’s young,she’s strong and most importantly she has your love to lean on.”
***********************************

Vin Tanner squinted against the noon day sun as he crossed the perimiter of Nettie’s ranch.
The tracker mentally kicked himself as he realized nethier he nor Chris had checked the outlying buildings.
If the attack happened here that’s had to be where it occured.
Vin dismounted and tethered the horse’s reigns around the railing of the front porch. He turned left and started walking toward the farthest storage building all the while his blue eyes scanning the ground for any clue.

About twenty meters from the small building Tanner started to notice signs of a struggle. The few patches of grass that had managed to survive in the dry ground were torn and scattered.
The dirt itself was smudged and ten meters from the building Vin was lucky enough to discover a boot print.
Unfortunately it was only a partial,the toe of the shoe,not the heel which would give Vin an idea of how tall the man was.
Cursing silently the tracker let his gaze travel to the wooden door which was open a crack.

Vin’s imagination was running over time. Conjuring up different scenarios of what Casey could have walked in on.....
Robbery.
Arson.
Vandelism.
They all ended the same way. With Casey trying to do what she could to protect what was her Aunt’s. Then the men turning and seeing they had a witness.
A witness they had to get rid of.

Vin shook his head as he opened the door of the small storage building as if that movement alone would chase away the images.
Three steps inside his left foot froze in mid air. Barely visible in the small shaft of sunlight were five or six small brown circles.
Blood.
Casey’s blood.


Josiah Sanchez stepped out of the telegraph office. Per Chris’s request he had sent a telegram to most of the sheriff’s between here and Colorado.
As the ex-preacher headed back to the church his thoughts couldn’t help but spiral back to the past.
What bothered him the most was the severity of Casey’s attack.
He knew Ezra’s statement was true....people changed. Josiah had seen that occur many times over the years.
But this time it just didn’t make sense.

The Cole brothers he recalled hearing about were the Robin Hood’s of the Rockies. Stealing from the rich to feed the poor.
He had never heard of them physically hurting anyone.
But then Josiah had been away from Colorado for many years.
Hopefully the telegrams would tell them more.

As he came within a few feet of the church Josiah spotted Ezra sitting on the lower half of the steps. The con man was absently shuffling a deck of cards but his eyes showed the gambler’s thoughts were not on the cards.
“Ezra.”The big man said as a greeting as he sat down next to him resting his folded hands on his knees.
“Josiah.”Standish replied absently his gaze not leaving the street.
“Any change in our young friend?”Josiah asked softly.
Ezra carefully replaced the deck of cards in its box and the box back in his jacket pocket before replying,”She has awaken but that is where the good news dimishes.”
“What happened?”Sanchez asked turning to face his friend.
Ezra shook his head sadly,”The only thing the poor girl recalls is her own name. She didn’t recognize the town let alone her friends.”
Josiah let his gaze wander of the buzy street,”Does JD know?”
Ezra shook his head,”Not yet,Mr. Wilmington’s gone in search of him.”
“Hopefully her Aunt arriving on the late stage will be just what she needs to heal.”Sanchez replied quietly.
Ezra glanced back through the doorway,”I’m not quite sure about that. Right now the only one who appears to make any head way with the girl is Mr. Larabee.”
***********************************

At Nathan’s encouraging nod, Chris took off his hat and knelt in front of the teen.
“I’ll stay awhile longer under one condition.”Larabee replied as he took Casey’s hand in his.
Casey looked at him warily. She didn’t know anything about this man except that somehow she knew she could trust him,”What?”She asked quietly.
Chris smiled,”You have to promise that you’ll get some rest.”
The teen returned his smile causing everyone in the room to relax a little.
It was the first time the girl had smiled since Josiah had found her. Nathan took that as a very good sign.
“Okay.”The teen replied softly as she gingerly layed down on the pew. As the girl’s eyes quickly drifted closed Chris pulled the blanket up around her shoulders.
***********************************

JD shook his head as he took a few steps from the older gunslinger,”I can’t....”The youth stated in a choked whisper,”I can’t watch her suffer. Not when I know I could have stopped it.”
Buck moved to stand next to his friend,”Did you suddenly get the power to see the future,kid?”
The youth met his friend’s gaze,”No,but.....”
Wilmington gently placed a hand on the kid’s shoulder,”No but’s JD. The only one to blame here are the bastards who did this. There was no way you could have known what was going to happen.”
As the sadness left JD it was quickly replaced by rage. The youth’s hands balled into fists as he started to walk away from Buck heading toward the back of the alley.
But halfway toward the end of the alley JD turned and headed back to the main street.
“I just wish I knew who hurt her,Buck.”JD said angerily as he began to pace.
Wilmington watched the youth warily,”We will find out who did this,I promise.”He walked up to his friend,”Son,I know the kind of rage your feeling. I know you want to strike back at somethin’,anything....but that won’t help Casey right now. What she needs more than anything is your support.”

JD stopped pacing and slumped against the wall oppisite Buck,”I know but I can’t help but feel like I let her down.”The youth stated in a voice barely above a whisper,”She needed me and I couldn’t help....”
Buck placed a supportive hand on the kid’s right shoulder as he gently ushered JD away from the wall,”I know,son,I know. But there is a way to help her now.”
JD nodded weakly and pulled away from his friend and stepped out onto the main street heading back toward the church.
***********************************

Casey had quickly fallen asleep allowing Chris,Mary and Josiah to convince Nathan to do the same. The healer had protested at first but had relunctantly agreed to catch a few hours sleep.
A few minutes after Nathan left Vin returned with the news he had found the scene of Casey’s attack.
Larabee pulled the younger man aside and filled him in on the girl’s mental state.
Chris saw that the tracker was saddened by the latest development but Larabee sensed there was something else going on with his friend.

“You alright,cowboy?”Chris asked with concern as the pair stood by the window.
Vin’s blue gaze never left Casey’s sleeping form,”Fine.”He replied quietly as he glanced around the church for the first time,”Where’s JD?”
“JD’s getting some air.”Larabee replied simply noting Vin’s dodge but decided not to press the topic,”Josiah may have given us a lead on who did this.”
Vin’s head snapped up in surprise,”How?”
“Mary found a button in Casey’s clothes that she must have ripped off during the attack.”Chris replied his attention drifting back to the teen’s still form,”Josiah recognized it and identified it with the Cole brothers.”
“Cole brothers.”Tanner repeated memorizing the name.
Chris glanced at his friend,”Heard of them?”He asked hoping against hope that during Vin’s bounty hunter days he might have run across them.
The younger man shook his head,”Can’t say that I have.”

Any further conversation between the two friends was interupted by the return of JD and Buck.
Wilmington shot Chris a questioning gaze. As a reply Larabee stepped away from Vin and gestured for his old friend to join him outside.

Lost in his whirlpool of emotions JD didn’t notice their exit. He quickly took a seat across from Casey. The young man took his hat off sitting it next to him on the pew as he watched Casey sleep.
Leaving Josiah the burden of having to tell JD of what had transpired earlier.


As the stagecoach pulled into Four Corners Nettie Wells pulled out the telegram that she had recieved from Mary Travis. She had read and reread the short message a thousand times. Now as she looked at it,it still offered no clues as to what had happened to her neice.
/Casey needs you.Stop.
Please return as soon as possible.Stop./

“Four Corners!”The driver called jerking the older woman’s attention away from the telegram.
The stagecoach rolled to a stop and Nettie gathered her belongings. As the driver opened the door she spotted a familiar face waiting for her.
Vin Tanner.
/Bless the boy’s heart./Nettie thought with a bittersweet smile as she accepted the young man’s assistance with departing the stagecoach.
“Thankyou,Mr. Tanner.”Nettie stated as she stepped away from the horse drawn vechicle.
Vin tipped his hat back on his head,”Ma’am.”He replied simply as he moved to take nettie’s single suitcase from the top of the stagecoach.
Vin waited to tell her about Casey untill they were well onto the sidewalk.
“Take me to her.”Nettie ordered softly her voice thick with unshed tears.
The tracker nodded as he placed a gentle arm around the older woman’s shoulder’s leading her toward the church.
***********************************

With Nettie’s arrival at the church JD reluctantly vacated his seat at Casey’s side and quietly left the building.
As much as he wanted to believe Buck’s words of reassurance JD just couldn’t face Casey’s aunt right now.

JD walked aimlessly through town struggling to get a grip on his emotions. The newest info on Casey’s health had thrown the young man for another loop.
What had Nathan called it?
Amnesia?
When she had first woken and not recognized him JD had passed that off on the high fever.

The last few precious months he and Casey had finally started to trust each other.
Not only with their inner most thoughts but with their feelings.
Their plans and hopes for the future.
What if she never remembered?
JD couldn’t bear the thought of Casey having the same vacant haunted look that Chris had.

Lost in his thoughts JD didn’t see the person coming toward him untill he literally collided with them.
Jerking himself back to the present JD’s hand shot out to steady the person,”I’m sorry I wasn’t watching where I .....Juliana? I thought you caught the first stage this morning?”
Juliana smiled ruefully,”I was but I overslept and missed it. Then I heard about what happened to your friend and I couldn’t leave untill I made sure you were alright.”
“I’m okay.”JD replied as he absently let the baby grasp his forefinger of his right hand.
Juliana studied her old friend and was worried about the dark circles under his eyes,”When was the last time you ate anything?”
JD shrugged as he half turned his gaze absently drifting back to the church.

Juliana gently tugged on his left sleeve regaining his attention,”JD?”
“Sorry,what?”JD replied turning to face her.
Juliana laced her arm through his left arm as she turned them in the direction of the restuarnt,”Come on,a good meal and an old friend will do you some good.”
***********************************

Ezra Standish didn’t like being idle.
One of the main thing his mother had drilled into him was that a wasted minute was a wasted dollar.
There was always opportunity.
There was always some poor sap to pull a new con on.
But as the conman sat in the saloon Ezra didn’t have a direction to go.
The familiar deck of cards absently slipped through his fingers as Ezra’s green gaze studied the group of people starting to gather with the growing dusk.

Ezra’s face remained expressionless but he couldn’t help but wonder if one of these gentlemen and he used the term loosely could have been the one.
The one who caused young Miss Wells so much pain.
Whoever these Cole brothers were Ezra doubted that they had gotten their own hands dirty.
Someone had to know something and Ezra was determined to uncover some new information.
No matter how many card games it took.
***********************************

Chris stood by the window of the church watching Casey and Nettie.
He felt a familiar rage begin to boil....they were a family torn apart by senseless violence.
Chris unfortunately knew first hand what that kind of pain was like.
Larabee shook his head sadly....Casey hadn’t recognized her aunt.
Nathan had said that was understandable if Vin was correct about where the attack took place.
Suppressing eveything painful would be a way for her mind to heal.
But Chris couldn’t understand how her mind could heal without any familiar faces.

Larabee glanced over as Buck leaned against the window sill,”How’s the kid?”
Wilmington took off his hat and ran a weary hand through his hair,”I don’t know,Chris. I just don’t know. One minute I think he’s handlin’ it fine and the next he slips away....”
“He’ll find a way to handle it,we all do.”Chris replied softly.
Buck sighed wearily,”I just wish he didn’t have to,not yet.”
“Did you tell JD about the Cole brothers?”Chris asked his gaze drifting back to Casey who had fallen back asleep under her aunt’s watchful gaze.
Buck shook his head,”Was goin’ too then he took off again.”
Chris nodded,”Might be best not to,at least not till we get more solid information. I don’t want him going off half cocked at ever stranger that steps off the stage.”
***********************************

In Willow Springs the closest town to Four Corners, three men sat in the back corner of the saloon.
“I had a bad feelin’ about this job from the get go.”A young black haired man grumbled as he took an angry swig of whisky,”Hurtin’ that little girl was bad luck.”
A burly man in his forties with shoulder length sandy blond hair snapped to his feet grabbing the younger man by the shirt collar hoisting him into the air,”How many times have I got to drill it into your feeble skull not to say a damn word about what happened!”
“Noah,”The other member of the trio warned as he tugged at his older brother’s arm,”Ears....”He said as he gestured to the growing crowd of saloon patrons behind them.
Noah Cole grudgingly let go of the younger man letting him slump into the chair.
“Now both of you listen up.”Noah ordered once the trio had retaken their seats,”I feel bad about what happened to the girl,I do. But we were paid very well to do this job. It ain’t our fault she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“If she dies they’ll be comin’ after us.”The black haired man in his mid twenties stated in a worried drunken slur as he raised his glass.
Noah glared at him,”Kelson,I thought you were dumb when you were sober. How will they come after us if she dies? She’s the only one who saw us.”

Sam Cole shook his head as he took a sip of his own drink,”The men who guard that town got a reputation,Noah. Especially their leader,Larabee. Its said those who cross him don’t come back alive.”
Noah shook his head,”You worry too much,Sam. Always have. We’ll get the job done,get paid and head home. Just like always.”

JD pushed the chili around with his spoon. He had taken a few bites to humor Julianna but they had settled like rocks in his stomach.
He had lost count how many times he and Casey had come here after a long ride or swim.
Would she ever remember those times or had those bastards that from her as well?

“JD?”Julianna prompted as she placed her sandwhich back on the plate.
The youth started nearly spilling the bowl of chili in the process,”Sorry,what?”
Julianna shook her head,”Was nothing important. You haven’t eaten very much. Was the chili not very good? We can order you something else.”
JD shook his head as he set the spoon down,”No its fine. I’m just not very hungry.”
The baby started to cry and Julianna quickly reached over to pick her up,”Sssh. Its alright.”

JD watched them for a long moment.
Would Casey survive this ordeal to have a normal life?
Would she ever marry?
Have babies of her own?
JD fumbled and grabbed a few coins from his pocket and tossed them on the table.
“I’m sorry Juliana.”JD said as he stood and stepped away from the table,”I can’t do this right now. I just can’t.”
Before she could open her mouth to reply JD was gone.
***********************************

Close to dusk Vin gently nudged Nettie out of her seat,”I’ll keep an eye on her. Go get some rest.”
The older woman shook her head as she only moved further down the pew alowing Vin a chance to sit down,”I’m fine.”She studied the young man for a moment,”You look like hell though.”
Vin supressed a laugh as he shook his head in amazement. No matter what Nettie could always read him like a book,”Its been a rough few days.”
“That it has,Mr. Tanner.”Nettie replied noting his sidestep of the subject. She knew something besides’s her neice’s attack was bothering him. But she also knew Vin well enough to know he’d only talk when he was ready.

After several moments Nettie broke the silence,”Do you boys have any idea of who hurt my girl?”
The tracker nodded as he watched Casey sleep,”Josiah gave us a lead. But what we really need is for Casey to remember what happened.”
Nettie’s eyes darkened with sadness,”She may never remember.”
Vin turned to face her,”We will find the bastards that did this. You have my word.”
***********************************

After turning over his patrol duties to Josiah, Ezra headed toward the resturant to grab a quick dinner.
The gambler had just opened the door when JD came barreling out.
Ezra had to do some fancy footwork to avoid a collison with the youth.
JD failed to notice his friend and continued on his way.

Juliana started to follow JD when she saw the man he had nearly collided with.
Praying he hadn’t spotted her yet Juliana scooped up her daughter and moved toward the kitchen.
Ignoring the protests from the resturant staff Juliana quickly moved through the kitchen and exited the building through the back door.
Once safely in the alley Juliana headed toward her hotel room. That had been way too close.
Somehow, some way she had to tell JD the truth.
Before her past literally caught up with her.
***********************************

Despite the early hour the saloon was crowded when JD entered. He walked up to the bar and the bartender started to pour him a beer when JD shook his head.
The bartender raised an eyebrow in surprise but didn’t say anything when the youth requested a whiskey bottle.

JD tossed a few coins on the bar and retreated to a table against the wall. He felt the eyes on him but ignored them as he sat down and poured the dark liquid into the glass.
Ironicly JD now was begining to understand how Chris found solitude this way.
The youth had wondered how his hero could find comfort and solance in a room full of strangers.

But JD realized now that was the appeal. The alchol dulled the pain while the crowd allowed you to hide in plain sight.
JD shook his head as he downed the first glass. Forcing himself not to react as the liquid burned a path to his stomach.
Part of him questioned his motive for being there. JD knew he should be with Casey.
But in order to help her he had to get control of his emotions and the whiskey seemed to be the only thing that helped.

Casey Wells was somewhere dark.
And she was falling.....fast.
Hard as she tried she couldn’t grab a hold of anything to stop herself.
The teen awoke with a scream sitting bolt upright in the small pew.
She regretted that move instantly as a searing pain shot up the right side of her rib cage.

Chris moved quickly to the teen’s side,”Easy,Casey. Its alright.”He turned to Josiah who had emerged from the back room at the girl’s scream,”Josiah,get Nathan.”
Sanchez nodded and started toward the front door when Casey’s soft voice stopped him.
“No,don’t.”The teen pleaded,”I’m alright.”
Larabee knelt next to her being careful not to make any sudden movements that would startle her,”You might have pulled out some of your stiches. Might be wise to let Nathan look you over.”

Casey pulled away from him accidently banging her left shoulder on the back of the pew in the process. It exploded in a fireball of pain. She shut her eyes against the pain.
Chris saw the pain that flickered across the girl’s face and nodded to Josiah to continue.
Sanchez nodded and quickly left the church.

Larabee sat next to the teen and noticed she was clutching the shoulder where she had been shot. Chris sighed inwardly he remembered all too well the first time he’d been shot.
Hurt like hell.
He remembered thinking that his arm was going to fall off just from the pain alone.
And he had all his senses about him when that incident happened. He could only imagine what Casey was feeling.
“Let me have a look at that.”Chris said gently as he cautiously reached forward,”It might have started bleedin’ again.”

Casey shrank away from him her eyes still tightly closed. All she could feel was pain and it seemed to take all her strength just to concentrate on breathing.
From far away she heard a man’s voice but she couldn’t make out the words.
Chris saw the teen withdraw farther into herself. Damn, he had been afraid this would happen.
He didn’t know what he could do to help. More than that he didn’t know why she had latched on to him of all people.
She needed friendly and familiar faces.
Family....JD.

Some how he had to get JD to stop beating himself up. She needed him and he couldn’t stop blaming himself long enough to help.
Not that Chris blamed the kid. He knew all too well what JD was going through.
He’d been there himself and with Buck’s help he’d gotten out.
Larabee could only pray that they got to JD before it was too late.
For the kid’s sake as well as for Casey’s.
***********************************

JD’s elbow hit the empty shot glass and knocked it over. He watched it roll around the table before it finally came to a stop next to the nearly empty whiskey bottle.
JD righted the glass and emptied the remains of the whiskey into it. As he downed the brown liquid images of Annie unbiddingly sprang before his mind’s eye.

He replaced the glass on the table and signaled the bartender for another bottle. Casey being hurt had brought back the memories of the bank robbery full force. He had been successful shoving them aside, trying to concentrate on Casey.
But now he only had time to think.
To think and remember.

The bartender set down the second bottle of whiskey and returned to his duties.
JD opened the bottle and poured another glass.
He thought he had put the incident with Annie behind him. Thought he had delt with the pain and the guilt.
But as Annie’s pain filled face danced in front of him JD realized he was wrong.
One thought that kept turning over and over in his mind was what if Casey had been coming to see him when she was attacked?
If he had left town after Annie’s shooting like he had intended maybe Casey wouldn’t be hurt.....

JD swallowed the whiskey and reached for the bottle to pour another glass.
Just as he lifted the bottle he caught snippets of a conversation from a group of three men at the table to his left.
“That Wells kid,dead?”
“Haven’t heard....don’t think they’d keep a dead body in the church this long if she was.”
“Bet whoever did it had a little fun......”

The table JD had been sitting at overturned with a loud crash as the youth jumped to his feet. His brown eyes were wide with rage as he stalked over to the three men.
Even through his drunken haze JD noted that the three men were ranch hands....twice as big as he was.
The odds didn’t matter to JD as his hands balled into fists.
Casey had been hurt and these men might have had a part in it.
They would pay and pay dearly.

The men stood as JD threw the table out of the way. The other two never had a chance to defend their friend as JD launched himself at the tall man standing in the middle.
The two tumbled to the floor taking two chairs with them.




Vin Tanner had just entered the saloon he was looking for Ezra. He hadn’t expected to find a full fledged bar fight.
Especially a bar fight with JD right in the middle.
Vin sighed and entered the fray absently counting the number of men involved.
Tweleve.
The jail was going to be full tonight.
***********************************

Colin Seimers had turned in his seat at the bar at the first sound of a table overturning.
He had noticed the young man nursing the whiskey at the back table only because one of the townsfolk at told him he was one of the peacekeepers.
Now that drunk peacekeeper had created a wonderful oppurtunity for Seimers to get a foot in,so to speak.
The dark haired man stood just in time to duck one of the chairs that went sailing over the bar.

Colin punched one man and shoved him out of the way and stepped closer to the center of the fight.
Finally he was able to grab the intoxicated youth by the left shoulder and pull him off of the cowboy.
The youth struggled in his grasp with such force that it nearly toppled both of them in the process.
“I’m not your enemy,son.”Colin said as he moved JD away from the others.
JD finally broke free and spun around. He ethier didn’t hear Colin’s statement or chose to ignore it. He hit the stranger with a sharp upper cut to the jaw.

Vin stepped in then grabbing his friend by the shoulders and pulling him back,”JD!”
Dunne struggled in Vin’s grasp,”Get off me!”
Tanner shook his head,”Not untill you cool off! How much you had to drink?”
JD ignored him as he continued to struggle.
“You think Casey would be proud of this if she saw? You think this is gonna help her?!”
JD finally broke free of Vin’s grasp and stormed out of the saloon.

Vin shook his head as he reached down to pick up one of the chairs. It was then that he noticed the dark haired stranger standing a few feet away rubbing his sore jaw.
“I saw you tryin’ to break up the fight.”Vin commented as he righted his chair,”Appreciate the help.”
“No problem.”The man replied as he turned and walked out of the saloon.
Vin watched the man go. He wasn’t sure what it was but he had a nagging feeling he had seen him somewhere before.
***********************************

“You should’ve told me about this when it happened.”Chris Larabee commented as he entered the sheriff office early the next morning.
Vin glanced up from the desk,”It was handled.”
“How’d it start?”Chris asked though he already knew the answer. Damn this had been something he had hoped to prevent.
Vin swung his feet off the desk,”Usual. Everybody drunk,somebody got mad.”
“That somebody JD?”Larabee asked turning to look at the younger man.
“There was a lot of people involved.”Vin replied,”Hard to tell who started it.”
Vin hated lying but he knew that the last thing JD needed right now was a lecture from Chris.
After a beat Larabee nodded and turned toward the door,”Let ‘em sleep it off then let them go.”
Vin’s question halted his friend in the doorway,”How’s Casey?”
“Same.”Larabee replied quietly as he opened the door and exited the building.
***********************************

Pain was the first thing that wound its way into JD’s conscienceness.
Intense,mind numbing pain.
A groan escaped JD as he tried to shift postion.
Every bone,every muscle radiated pain.
As thought slowly returned JD struggled to remember what happened.
Then like a flash of lightning the memories returned full force.
Casey hurt......
Saloon.....
Getting drunk.....
Ranchhands.....
Starting the barfight.....
Vin.....

JD’s eyes shot open causing him to lift his head which turned out to be a really bad move. The combination of the sunlight and sudden movement caused a wave of nausea to wash over the youth.
JD squeezed his eyes shut and swallowed the bile that rose in his throat.
After what seemed like an eterinty the nausea passed allowing JD to push himself into a sitting postion.
It was only then that he realized he was sitting in dirt.
An alley near Josiah’s church to be exact.

JD rested his head in his hands.
What was he going to do?
He had failed Casey in the worst way he could only imagine what she thought of him. If she thought of him at all.
He had failed his friends.
Hell he had probably failed the town to somewhere down the line.

The familiar sound of a wagon rolling down the main street caused JD’s head to pound.
But it also turned his thoughts back to leaving.
Maybe it would just be best for everyone if he went back east.