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The following is a work of fan fiction based on the CBS television series, The Magnificent Seven. It is in no way intended to infringe on the copyrights of CBS, MGM, The Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp., or anyone else who may have legal rights to the characters and settings. This story is strictly for entertainment.

My thanks to Antoinette and MAC for your help and support.

 

 

The Larabee Pack: The three faces of the wolf

AU OPEN

C/V   C/E (Implied)

In M7 fiction there are many stories of Werewolves, Two Bloods, and Shape shifters this is my take on the werewolf legend.

Even a man who is pure in heart

and says his prayers by night

may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms

and the autumn moon is bright.

Anon

 

The war had brought about the changes to society that could never be changed back. Now people knew that the creatures of their nightmares were flesh and blood. The Union had openly used werewolves in their night attacks, and the Confederates had retaliated with the Southern Vampire Clans, using the natural hatred between the two species to help their cause.

When the war ended, the Union could not turn back the clock’ Some werewolves had been taken into the Army,  others had gone back to their packs, but some had no home to return to, , and they began to drift into New Mexico, and South along the border, bringing with them death and destruction.

 

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Purgatory 1875

Buck Wilmington rode into Purgatory, the place was hell on earth and it attracted the dregs of the border to it like a magnet. The only reason that he was there was because of his old friend Chris Larabee, the man riding by his side, the people they passed looked at Chris as if he was the devil in human form.  Not that he could blame them, dressed in his habitual all black clothing still in deepest mourning for his dead family, Chris looked like an angel of death, who instead of a sword, carried a gun. Chris had a reputation as one of the fastest guns in the territories, a cold blooded killer, a mean drunk with a volatile temper, that would put a pissed off rattler to shame. Not all of the people in the street were human, those with Were blood in their veins, knew what Chris was, an Alpha Omega werewolf, the most feared of the Alpha Males.

 

Buck entered the saloon first and all the rigors of the trail were forgotten the moment he saw the saloon girls, he threw an arm round the nearest giggling girl and headed for the bar. “What you drinking gorgeous?” he said as he nuzzled at her throat his hand dropping to squeeze her ass affectionately. Buck didn’t even lift his head when the talk in the saloon died out, as all the men turned towards the door, the man they saw   was in his early thirties, dressed in black from head to foot, the long duster flapping round his ankles, the black flat brimmed hat was pulled down to shade his eyes.

Chris Larabee ignored their stares he expected it, he , walking up to the bar and slapping his money down on the  counter and gave an  order for whiskey, he picked up the bottle and a couple of glasses and went toward an occupied corner table. The men seated there were favored with a cold shark like smile that was nothing more than a like twist of the lips that was the nearest Chris Larabee got to smiling; the men also fell over in their hurry to get out of his way. Chris sank down into one of the chairs sitting with his back to the wall, pulling the cork from the bottle he took a long pull of the raw liquor and then settled back in his chair.

Buck dropped to a chair next to him, pulling the girl onto his lap and splashed some of the whiskey into one of the shot glasses, and took a deep sip , smacking his lips appreciatively, “Just what I needed, a good whiskey and a fine woman” he waved the empty glass a clear request for more liquor. 

The saloon girl reached for the bottle, only for her hand to drop away as the man in black, looked up and she caught a glimpse of his eyes under the brim of his hat, they were as cold and hard as ice, and she tried to suppress a shudder.  The man in black pushed the bottle towards her, then went back to his drink and she felt that he was dismissing her, and that suited her fine, there was no way she wanted to fuck him, no matter how good looking the man was.  “Hey darling don’t be stingy with the whiskey” Buck protested, she plastered a professional smile on her face, as the  big man waved his glass at her again, this time she poured out a generous shot he took another drink  and then offered it to her.  She drained it, and went back to business, slipping a hand down his broad chest to feel his cock, squeezing it gently and stroking it into life. It didn’t take much to get him hot and horny, and a few drinks later, she was on her feet leading her customer up stairs to her room, leaving the man in black to his drinking.

The noise in the saloon, had slowly returned to its normal level, but the other customers and girls kept away from the man in black, the humans saw a dangerous gunman. The werewolves present, and there was quite a few riding with the bandit gangs,  saw an Alpha Omega, the most powerful of their kind, a lethal killer, and kept away from him knowing that he was a law to himself.

Buck came down from upstairs an hour later to see a young man sat with Chris Larabee, and he swore under his breath, Vin Tanner, a wanted man with a $500 dollar bounty on his head, a long haired scrawny assed Texan, who since Chris had laid eyes on the man, had formed some sort of bond with him. Buck didn’t understand it and that was what worried him. There was only one reason a wanted man would want to hook up with the foul tempered Chris Larabee was because he needed his gun to protect him. Tanner didn’t ride with them, but was always around, disappearing for days on end, only to  turn up at the same town, where Buck would find him  next to Chris, like a shadow. The Texan was a dangerous man in his own right, and he had heard stories about Tanner, along the border that had chilled his blood.

Chris drained his glass and got to his feet, Vin Tanner followed him out into the night, Buck went to the bar and took a shot of whiskey, but this time he gently pushed the girl away from him. He took another and another shot, and his anger was slowly building, he was going to have it out with Chris Larabee for once and for all, about Vin Tanner.

As he stepped out onto the boardwalk, the jagged fork of lightening lit up the street, he looked up and down searching for Chris Larabee, but there was no sight of him. The streets were deserted at this time of night, the only light coming from the saloons and whore houses.

Why he headed for the livery he would never know, the door was partly open and he stepped inside, it was then he heard harsh panting, and a flesh slapping against flesh. In the moon light he saw Tanner, bracing himself against the wall of one of the stalls, his pants round his knees, as Chris pounded into him from behind, his hands gripping the younger man’s hips, as he took his pleasure, with a cry he came, his body dropping forward onto Vin’s back. Chris took a long shaking breath and reached round and began to work  Vin’s cock, a few seconds later Buck heard the muffled cry as Vin Tanner climaxed. For a long moment the two men just remained still as they caught their breath, then Chris pulled his pants up and reached down and tugged Vin’s up, whatever he said to him Buck didn’t hear, but Chris patted Vin’s arm. Buck pulled back into shadows and let his oldest friend walk away. The anger was building up in Buck Wilmington, and it was aimed at Vin Tanner, Chris had kept himself distant and shut off since the murder of his young wife and son, in the three years since it happened he didn’t even visit the whores, and had claimed no one as his own. Now this Texan had ……, words failed Buck, and a black anger descended on him.

 

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Buck Wilmington had been Chris Larabee’s friend for ten years since they first met in the Union Army during the War, among the blood and death, a friendship had been born, the two men were as different as light and day.  Buck was a formable man when he thought he was protecting a friend and that was what he was doing now, with no warning his fist lashed out catching Vin in the gut and then followed it up with a hard punch to the face that sent the younger man crashing into the wall of the livery stable. Vin hit hard, his head thudding into the unyielding surface, with a loud bang and his body slide to the ground and he toppled onto his side. Breathing hard, Buck leaned over the man, “You get the fuck out of here Tanner, or the next time I see you, I am putting a bullet in you.”

“Chris.” The one word was said in no more than a strangled whisper.

Buck caught him by the scruff of his buckskin jacket and pulled him up so their faces were only inches apart, “You keep away from him Tanner, or I’ll cash in that bounty myself.” Lips pulled back over his wolf fangs, Buck snarled “Folks in Tascosa, gonna have fun with you Tanner, when they hang you, they say it takes a werewolf twice as long to die. You’re going to be twisting and kicking like the mangy dog you are, as you piss and shit your pants in front of all those fine men and women, as your face goes red, as you struggle to breath and then.” Gloating he slammed Vin’s head back against the wall hard, as he added “your prick gets that hard, there all  see it, those fine ladies pointing and laughing, then just before you die your cum.” Buck was breathing hard, “so either you get the fuck out of here now, or I’ll see to it your hang Tanner.”  Then he lashed out the power of the blow rocked Vin Tanner’s head back and into the wooden wall, as Buck released his hold on him, the unconscious man slide down into the filthy straw, leaving a bloody smear.  Buck saddled the mean ornery horse that Tanner rode, and then he returned to the fallen man. A hard kick to his ribs brought Vin Tanner back to the present, and immediately wished it hadn’t, he opened his eyes and the light, from a lightning bolt scotched through them, with a groan he rolled onto his side as the pain exploded through his head and ribs,  he threw up. Buck dragged Vin to his horse and heaved him up onto its back the younger man had barely managed to get a hold of the saddle horn when Buck slapped the horse’s flank and sent it running off into the night. 

Buck stood there his chest heaving, as he tried to control his temper, his mind unbidden went back to when Chris  had first met the petite feisty blond that was to become his wife. A misunderstanding, she had taken Chris for Joe Miller’s new gun hand, and had unloaded two barrels of rock salt into his ass, but out of that love had blossomed.   Sarah Connor had been the perfect match for his volatile friend. A compassionate, loving woman, a human female that had not only accepted Chris’s dark side, but had embraced it.  He remembered another first, when she had first  greeted him after learning his truth nature, she had put both hands out, and he had taken them so carefully in his own big hands, and she had welcomed him to her family then she had smile and pressed a kiss to his cheek and added herself to his pack.  Then with the addition of Adam his Alpha’s much loved son, his world had been complete, he had looked forward to helping to raise the pup, to become the Gamma of the Pack, and as such teach Adam how to hunt and to spoil him rotten. The dark memories of returning home to find the house gutted by fire and their twisted burned bodies in the ruins, had never faded no matter the distance of time, their murder had nearly destroyed Chris, the man that had rode away after their funeral had worn the deepest black of mourning, and over the three years that followed had become embraced the life of a Alpha Omega, the most dangerous of their kind. It was with surprise that Buck found himself back at the saloon; he had been so lost in his memories that he had no knowledge of making his way back there. Taking a deep breath, he pushed the door open and stepped into the yellowing lamp light.

Buck slipped into the chair opposite his Alpha; he reached for the glass of whiskey that was pushed across to him. Chris cocked his head to one side, and the tolerant look on his face, was replaced by one of cold hard fury, as the man in black sat upright in his chair. Buck knew why, he could smell Vin Tanner on him, and looked down at this hands he saw the splash of blood on his sleeve, Tanners blood.   Chris pushed up from the chair, he leaned onto the table his hands pressed to the scarred surface, his long claws sliding out to dig into the wood, as his fangs slide down. “What did you do Buck, where’s Vin?”

“Chris I,” Then the table was thrown across the room, and as Buck tried to get to his feet, a clawed hand caught the front of his shirt and jacket, and even though he was taller and heaver he was lifted up, one handed and thrown across the saloon, to land heavily onto one of the other tables, which smashed under his weight. The men and women ran to safety no one wanting to get between Larabee and his prey.

“Where is Vin?”

“He was using you Chris,” Buck managed to say as he pushed himself up off the floor. “He’s nothing, you don’t need him, he’s.”

“He’s mine Buck, what did you do to him,” Chris was snarling as he stalked towards him, throwing tables and chairs out of the way.

Buck knew there was only one way this was going to end and it wasn’t going to be pretty, if he was lucky he might live through it.

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Three months later

New Plymouth

Sheriff Ken Bolt, sat on the porch in front of his jail, and watched as the people of the town went about their business; the town had been created after the war by the Reverent John Carter, who had taken his flock to the promised land of New Mexico. The men were all veterans of the Union Army, and the town lived by the Ten Commandments, John Carter refused to allow the corruption of the world to contaminate his town. Anyone that failed to do so was ordered to leave town, and if that failed his Avenging Angels, would make sure they were driven out.

Mr. Rutherford’s young lad, Jamie came running up to him, and began pointing excitedly down the street, drawing Bolt’s attention to a newcomer to the town, the man was riding a black horse he was wearing a filthy buckskin jacket, a slouched confederate cavalry hat the brim pulled down to shade his eyes, his hair was long, his skin was grubby, his clothes looks old and worn, instead of a colt he was wearing a mare’s leg, and there was the butt of a Winchester near his left leg. “I see him Jamie.”

Ken nodded to his Deputy Jim North, and hefted his scatter gun, and stepped out onto the street, the boy still with him, “You going to arrest him, sheriff, you want me to get the” the boy said excitedly, Ken shook his head, cutting the young boy off in mid sentence, “No need for that, you did well, now go back to your Pa.”  Ken crossed the street, as the newcomer dismounted and tied his horse to the hitching rail before disappearing in the saloon 

The sheriff paused at the door  of the  saloon, getting the lie of the land, the man he was looking for was leant against the bar, beating his hat against his jacket to get rid of some of the trail dust, before he reached for the mug of beer that the bartender slide along the bar towards him. The man caught it, and took a deep drink, savoring it.

He put the half empty glass down and turned towards Ken his hands moving down to rest on the butt of the mare’s leg.

Bolt made sure that the younger man could see his badge, “Name’s Sheriff Bolt, have got to ask you boy, what are you doing in town?”

The newcomer took another sip of his drink, and examined him over the rim of the glass voice had a soft rasping Texan accent. “Just passing through sheriff, getting myself a drink, and some food, and a bed I.”

Ken cut him off in mid-sentence “You have until dusk to get out of New Plymouth, if you’re still here after dark, your ass will be warming a cell, and The Town Council doesn’t want your sort here.”

“My sort?”

“Drifters, especially Rebs.”

“War’s been over a while Sheriff, free country last I heard,” the man drawled.

“Don’t argue that, but New Plymouth is my town, and you’re not wanted.”

The Texan nodded, “Like I said Sheriff, I am just passing through.” If he took offense the younger man didn’t show it, just lifted his beer and took another drink.

“You have until dusk to leave.”  Ken turned, nodding to his deputy who was backing him up as he left the Saloon, he hoped that the drifter would take his warning to heart; if the man didn’t leave he would have to arrest him, because if he didn’t then he was going to be in serious trouble if the Avenging Angels got their hands on him.

As he stepped out onto the boardwalk, he saw a small crowd of local men gathering round the front of the Rutherford General store, and Jamie was stood pointing  excitedly at the saloon, talking a mile a minute. Shaking his head Ken crossed to them, just as the ring leader Marty Johnson, took a step off the boardwalk. “Well what are you doing about him, we don’t want that kind of trash here, you better.”

Ken cut across him, “He got the message and he’ll be on his way.”

But Marty wasn’t going to let it drop “Maybe we should go talk to him” he tried to brush past Ken as he headed towards the saloon.

The sheriff’s hand lashed out and caught Marty’s arm, “You boys just leave him be and he’ll be gone all the quicker, I mean that, and I’ll bust the balls of anyone that goes against me on this,” Marty shook Ken’s hand off and stalked back down the street, with his cronies following him. Ken mused as he took his chair in front of his office that it was going to be a long day. He settled back so that he could watch the street, and sure enough half an hour later the drifter came out of the saloon. He looked round and then headed toward the General Store, and disappeared inside it. But he wasn’t in there very long; he reappeared with Mr. Rutherford, yelling at him. “Get the hell” out of my store; I don’t serve your kind.”

“Look mister all I want is some flour and coffee, I got the money,” the young man, dipped a hand in his pocket and pulled out some coins.

Rutherford sneered, and then greed won out, “dollar will get you both.”

“A dollar, that’s.”

“Take it or leave it, no other store in town would serve you.” Rutherford’s hands rested on his hips, “well.”

“Okay,” the coin was passed over, and Rutherford went back into his store, he returned with two small dime packs of coffee and flour, and thrust them into the man’s hands, then turned on his heels slamming the door shut on him

The drifter went to his horse and stowed the food away in his saddle bags, and then pulled himself up in the saddle and turned his horse down the street. As he drew level he touched the brim of his hat to Ken, and then kicked his horse into a trot. He hadn’t gone far when he pulled the horse to a halt and swung down, bending he lifted the right front hoof, and then lead the horse back to the jail.

 “You got a blacksmith here Sheriff, my horse threw a shoe.”

Ken pointed down the street to the far end, “His name’s Tiny Mitchell you’ll find him at the livery stable.”.”

The drifter gave a nod of thanks and then began to lead his horse down the street.  Ken got to his feet, as Marty and his gang reappeared on the boardwalk. Taking a steadying breath Ken called out to the drifter, “Look mister, I’ll be by later to check up on you, if Tiny can’t get your horse done today, then I’ll give you until dusk tomorrow to get out of town.”

The newcomer turned back, touched the brim of his hat acknowledging the sheriff giving him extra time before he was run out of town and led his horse down the street.

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Tiny Mitchell was a big man, six foot three of bone and muscle he looked up from where he was working on a repairing a plough, “Can I help you mister.”

“Need a new shoe.”

Tiny came over, running  hand over the horse’s flanks and then his chest to soothe him, as he picked up the hoof and checked the shoe, “I can rework the shoe, cost 50 cents.” He put the hoof down and straightened up, watching as the owner dug in his pocket and pulled out what remained of his money. Seeing the exhaustion on his face, and knowing that Mrs. Philips at the boarding house, or Mr. King at the hotel would never let the man stay there, he added “Look mister if you want to, you can sleep in the livery, no charge, and my wife can do you a bowl of stew, and some biscuits for a dime, if you’re interested. Name’s Tiny Mitchell” he put out a hand the size of a prize ham.

For a moment the younger man stood still, as if trying to make his mind up, and then finally he said “name’s Vin” and shook hands. 

Tiny reached for the horses reins and then paused, “Vin, I would watch your back, Reverent Carter, pretty much runs this town, and his inner council, don’t like,” he paused gauging the younger man before he said “breeds.”

“Ain’t a breed, lived with them, and won’t lie about that, but my Ma and Pa were white.”

“It won’t make any difference to them, just watch yourself” Then he raised his voice and yelled “John, get out here.”

A young boy came running round the corner, “This is Mister Vin, tell your Ma to give him some stew and biscuits.” 

Vin Tanner collected his rifle and then followed the boy, he never saw the red coated gambler come into town, or the man slowed his horse as he saw him and the smile that lit up his face.

 

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Master Vampire Ezra Standish was a professional gambler, and a good one, he kept on the move, it was the safest way to ply his trade and hide his identity, in his pocket he had a wanted poster on Vin Tanner, it looked like he just got lucky.

The hotel room was expensive, but Ezra was glad to get out of the gaze of the locals, there was something about the way they were looking at him that was putting the usually confident southern gambler on edge. He dumped his saddle bags on the bed and then fished out his flask and walked to the window, he had picked the front room so that he could see down the length of the street. Unscrewing the flask he took a long pull at the blood infused whiskey, and savored it. He had felt the magical wards set round the town the minute he had entered; it was not strong enough to repel him, because he was master vampire. The wards had been aimed at werewolves, but it was strong enough to stop any supernatural creature from changing their form, but more dangerously it would slowly drain them off their life force, already Ezra could feel his powers waning, he couldn’t afford to stay here too long.  

Ezra sank down on the bed and stretched out, getting comfortable. Trust Tanner he mused to pick this place to visit. He had to get the werewolf to follow him out of town; the simplest way was to let him get a whiff of his scent. Any werewolf and certainly an Alpha like Tanner would immediately identify what he was, and instinct would do the rest, like a dog chasing a carriage he would draw him out of this blighted town.

It was then he heard a knock at the door, screwing the lid back on the flask, Ezra was just starting to get up with the door crashed open and men poured in.

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Ken Bolt was just about to have his dinner in the jail when he heard gunfire; he came rushing out in time to see all hell get let loose. A chair came crashing through one of the upstairs windows of the hotel, a man in a red jacket followed it, and he landed on the top of the porch, and then rolled off, just managing to grab the edge as he came off the roof. His body swung back and forward, before he dropped to the ground, he gave a cry of pain, as his ankle gave and he rolled over in the dust. Somehow he managed to get to his feet and began to hobble towards his horse.  Ken pulled his gun and fired one bullet in the air. “Stop right there” but even as he yelled his warning the man kept  going, so Ken fired again, this time the bullet ploughed into the post near the man’s shoulder forcing the man to stop.  Slowly the man raised his hands away from his side and carefully turned round to face him

Ken walked cautiously towards the fugitive, “Keep those hands up and clear of your guns boy, don’t want to have to shoot you.”  He paused, “You mind telling me why you came out of the window up there, when there’s a perfectly good stair case in the hotel.”

Looking at the man’s clothes he recognized him as the professional gambler that had arrived in town earlier. The man’s southern accent made Ken frown, that was just what he needed a southern gambler on top of a Texan drifter, in a town of Union veterans.

“It seemed prudent at the time, Sheriff; the other gentlemen seemed to take exception to my profession” the gambler put in, slightly breathlessly.

 A smile touched the sheriff’s face, as the gambler, slowly lowered his hands and brushed down his coat and pants, and then tugged his cuff straight, and added in that southern accent of his added, “a simple misunderstand Sheriff, as can happen so easily.”

“Gambling is illegal in New Plymouth.” Ken put in levelly.

“Sheriff, I was not gambling, I was merely taking my ease in my bedroom when, these gentlemen came into my room” the gambler nodded towards the men that had spilled out of the hotel, “I was just protecting myself.”

The four men were lined up on the boardwalk, “Josh, Marty, Pete, what did I tell you about this, if the gambler isn’t gambling, you got no right to run him out of town.” Ken said.

“He had these,” Pete Muller threw the cards on the ground, the wind scattering them across the street.”

“Tools of my trade, nothing more.” The gambler answered.

Ken sounded almost tired as he shook his head, “it’s Illegal to own cards in New Plymouth.”

“Tools of Satan,” Marty snapped, his face showing his indignation. 

“Okay, gambler, you got a name.” Ken asked.

“Ezra Standish.”

“Well Ezra Standish you’re under arrest for breaking town ordinance 78,” Ken jerked the gun towards the jail house, he didn’t think he would have any problem with the man, but seeing the way he wore his gun, the gambler was also a gunman, and since none of the Avenging Angels had bullet holes in them he also showed he had shown some restraint so far.  

Ken gestured with his gun towards the jail and with a sigh Standish started across the street. Although they had no problem with him, Ken still kept his gun on the gambler until Jim had removed his weapons, a Colt, a Remington and a Derringer. He watched his deputy hold open the door of the cell, and the gambler entered it, and then personally locked it before explaining. “You’ll be  brought up in front of the Reverent Carter tomorrow morning, you’ll be found guilty of breaking ordinance 78, your cards will be destroyed and your belongings searched, any other cards will be confiscated and you’ll be fined for every pack found in your possession. I suggest you take your weight off your feet Standish, you’re not going anywhere until tomorrow.”

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At the same time in Little Butte.

Buck Wilmington was sitting in the saloon, a girl on his knee, his arm wrapped round her waist, and a beer in the other hand. He was enjoying himself, Sally was warming and willing, and before long he was going to take her upstairs, and. Suddenly he sat upright, spilling Sally off his lap, ignoring her indigent squawk, he felt it, a dark oppressive force, that made the air heavy, he put the beer down and got to his feet, muttering a word of apologies to the girl, the hairs on the back of his neck were standing upright. His hand dropped to the gun at his hip, his eyes fixed on the door of the saloon. Buck lifted his head slightly and inhaled, and although he was still tense, a smile tugged his lips, that could only be one man, and it was then the door was pushed open.

It was Chris Larabee he walked to the bar, threw some coins on the counter, and took a bottle and two shot glasses and went to the corner table, and sat down his back to the wall. Slowly the noise began to return to the saloon, but it was subdued.

Buck drained his beer and then  where angles and the occupants of the Saloon feared to tread, he went to Chris Larabee’s table.

“Long time stud,” Buck drawled. The last time he had talked to Chris it had been in Purgatory, and he had been lucky not to have got a bullet in his head for attacking Chris’s young lover. As it was after the beating he had taken at the hands of his old friend it had taken him a week before he was fit to ride out of that hell hole, by then the Alpha had taken off after Vin Tanner.

The chair opposite Chris was pushed out, and a full glass of whiskey was slid across the table top. Taking the invite, as an indication that Chris was ready to bury the hatchet and not in the back of his head, Buck settled down in the chair. For a long moment no one talked, Finally Buck said as he saw the look in the green eyes, that shone with an unholy light, “Who are you hunting?”

“Vin,” the gunman said, his tone was ice cold, “as if you didn’t know.”

“Chris, didn’t you go after him,” Buck was puzzled, he could remember that one of the saloon girls had said that Chris had left town as if his ass was on fire, surely he must have caught up with Vin.  If Chris was still hunting him either Tanner didn’t want to be found or something had happened to him.

“Not yet, but I will find him, that scrawny son of a bitch Texan is my bond mate.”

Buck nearly choked on the drink, “You’re what?”

“My bond mate, something wrong with your hearing, Buck,” the words were snarled at Buck.

Making a play at clearing his ears out, Buck, looked his oldest friend up and down “mind repeating that again Chris.”

“My bond mate, you going to help me or what?” Chris’s hand dropped to rest on his Colt.

“No need to get antsy,” Buck put in quickly as he drained his whiskey and then got up, and stared to the door, he didn’t have to turn round to know that Chris had fallen into step behind him; he just had to see the saloon crowd part in front of him. This was something he hadn’t expected, Sarah had been Chris’s last bond mate, and wolves mated for life that was why he had turned on Vin Tanner, thinking that the younger man was just using Chris, instead he had stepped between an Alpha and his new bond mate, and he now knew how lucky he was to still be alive. He slowed until Chris came up level with him, and then he inhaled Chris’s scent and swore under his breath, when a werewolf mated each of them carried each other’s scent as a unique marker, he could smell Vin on Chris and then another scent that was harsher, with a sharp edge to it, which puzzled him, he pushed that to one side, they had a bond mate to find, and ruefully  Buck realized he had a hell of a lot of apologizing to do if he was going to make this right with Vin Tanner.

 

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Chris pulled himself up on his horse and sat easily in his saddle, waiting for Buck to join him, then he lead his old friend out of the town.

When they got to the outskirts of town, Buck was surprised to see two other riders join them, one was a big man, with salt and pepper hair, a large cross hanging from his neck, the other was black and wore a knife harness across this back. The two men immediately  followed them.

Chris nodded to them, “Buck this is Josiah Sanchez, Nathan Jackson, they’re pack,” a simple statement but spoke volumes. The Chris Larabee of old had been a loner, hell just three months ago he would never have formed at pack, and would have put a bullet in you for suggesting it. But with the loss of his bond mate it had triggered a deeper need. “You ready to call beta, Buck,” the question hung in the air, as Buck looked from Chris to the newcomers.

As beta Buck was next in command of the pack, after what he had done, for Chris to trust him enough to call him beta touched Buck, he thought he had lost his friend.

“No Chris” Buck said, he met his Alpha’s eyes levelly, “That is your bond mates place, but I am ready to call Gamma if your have me.”

Buck was relieved to see a shadow of a smile on Chris’s face as he said, “I’ll be pleased to have you back Gamma,” Chris said. Buck concentrated on the big man called Josiah, in his mind eye he saw the animal within the man, a bear, but the aura of the man showed he was a shaman, the spiritual heart of the pack. Looking towards Nathan Jackson, he saw a mountain lion, the scent of herbs coming from the man and the warm aura of peace showed him to be a healer, he smiled ruefully to himself, when Old Chris put together a pack he didn’t do it by half, with the addition of a were bear and were mountain lion, he had shattered the rules governing a pack, but then he would expect no more from Chris Larabee.  

Josiah explained to Buck, “We got a telegram it said that Vin’s heading towards a place called New Plymouth,” it was then he frowned allowing his concern to show. “It’s not a good place for southern boys, the town is Union to the core, went through it myself last year. Reverent Carter rules the place with a rod of iron, and his god fearing men and women wouldn’t take kindly to their arrival in town.”

Chris’s expression was as dark as thunder, “when I get my hands on that vampire, I am going to personally stake Ezra’s ass to the wall.”

Buck nodded his head as he heard that  the sound of it they were hunting down a vampire as well as Tanner,  he took great pride in staking them, and this was looking good, he got to ride with his old friend, and kill vampires. It was then he suddenly realized what he was hearing, there was something in Chris’s voice, he took a deeper breath and this time he identified the other scent, and his eyes widened. “This vampire a friend of yours?”

“You could say, he’s my bond mate, a sneaky southern blood sucker by the name of Ezra Standish,” but there was rough affection in Chris’s voice, then the man in black, kicked his horse into a gallop, and his pack followed him.

“What the hell Chris, you’re fucking a vampire?, Chris wait up,” Buck yelled as took off after them; this was a story he had to hear.

0-0-0-0-0

Vin settled himself in the livery stable, Tiny Mitchell had been as  good as his word, and allowed him to sleep in a empty stall, the straw was fresh and clean, and using his blanket and gathering the straw round him, he had made a warm nest.  He had a full belly, Mrs. Mitchell had given him a full bowl of stew and plenty of biscuits, a large piece of pie and he had to wash it down with a mug of coffee. Good people. He slipped a hand in his pocket and pulled out the few coins he had left, enough for him to eat tomorrow before he left, and then he would be glad to put his town behind him. His body was aching and he felt bone tired, with a yawn he settled down to sleep.

0-0-0-0-0-0

 

In the cell Ezra sat on the cot his back to the wall, one leg tucked under him, as he closed his eyes, he had felt the sun set, and welcomed the first darkness, as a master vampire he was a day walker, but the night was his realm. Ezra knew that his telegram would have gotten to Chris by now, and the pack would be on their way to the town, he just had to make sure that they found Vin Tanner, and Chris could reclaim his bond mate, and then he would vanish get out of Larabee’s life. Ezra was no fool; he knew that Chris had taken him as his Mate, only until he could reclaim Vin Tanner. Once the Alpha Omega had his young lover, he would not be wanted; no werewolf would want to be tainted by having a vampire lover.  He didn’t really want to see the disgust on Chris’s face as the Alpha chased him away from his pack, or perhaps Chris would just kill him, seeing his weakness in bedding a vampire as a slur on his honor. Honor for a erewolf was everything. It would not be the first time he had been chased off. The last time the werewolf had left him bruised, bleeding and pegged out in the desert, maybe Larabee would just let him go fade away. Subconsciously he ran a hand over his arm, and the scars hidden under the jacket sleeve and shuddered at the memory of the pain.

A noise outside the jail brought Ezra to his feet as the door was thrown open, and the deputy came in followed by two men, dragging the limp body of Vin Tanner between them. The deputy waved Ezra back from the door to his cell, and then opened it quickly the two men threw Vin in and then slammed the door shut. Stalking out of the jail, the deputy left him alone with Vin; Ezra took a step towards the fallen man, quickly bending and picking Vin up and laid him on the cot. Sitting on the edge of the  bed, Ezra looked down at this own hands and the blood that stained them, the metallic scent of it made his fangs slide down, his hunger came back but with supreme effort, he managed to pull himself back to the present.

Taking out a silk hank chief from his pocket, he wet it in the small jug of water the deputy had reluctantly given him earlier, and began to wipe away the that was seeping blood down Vin’s face. The wound looked more messy than serious, but someone had given Tanner a hard crack across the head, as long as he came round in the next half hour there wasn’t a problem but any longer and there could have been real damage done to him. Quickly Ezra completed his check of the injured man remembering what Nathan had told him. Broken ribs, bad bruising to his stomach, and back, and kidneys, Tanner would be pissing blood for a while, but his stomach was soft, none of the hardening that would tell him that Tanner had internal injuries.  

Now he was satisfied that Vin would be okay, Ezra sat on the edge of the cot, and really looked at Vin Tanner. Reaching out a hand he brushed the long matted hair back from the closed eyes, and then stroked along the strong jaw, the stubble coarse against his fingers. Tanner was younger than him, by a couple of years, he could see why his Alpha lover had claimed the man. Vin Tanner was good looking but there must have been more than that, for Chris to call him bond mate, the inner man had had to shine out and call to their Alpha Omega. Ezra jerked his hand away, their Alpha, who he was kidding; Larabee would leave him in a heartbeat for his scruffy bounty hunter. But did it have to happen that way, all he had to do was tell the sheriff  who Tanner was, and the Texan would be facing a hangman’s noose, and Larabee would turn to him, he could have what he always wanted. Someone that would love him for who he was accepting his true nature. The short time he had been bond mate with Larabee he had felt a level of love and acceptance that he had never know.  But in his heart of hearts, Ezra knew that he couldn’t do it, he had to put the needs of his Alpha above his own. A smile touched his lips, “mother would be appalled” he drawled softly. 

His mind drifting he didn’t see Vin’s eyes open as slits, the first thing he knew he was caught by the front of his white ruffled shirt and pulled down so that he was nose to nose with Vin, the tracker’s lips where pulled back showing his long canine teeth in a snarl.

“It’s alright Mr. Tanner; I mean you no harm, just a fellow traveler who made the mistake of choosing New Plymouth as his resting place.”

“What” Vin snarled, he could see the mouth opening and closing the words, but didn’t know what the hell the man said.

“Merely that I am a prisoner like you.” Ezra answered as laid a hand on Vin’s shoulder. “You can release me; I am not going to run.”

“You smell funny.” Vin rasped openly scenting the gambler, a look of disgust appearing on his face.

“Huh,” Ezra said with all the indignation he could muster, that was rich coming from a man that smelt of blood, horse shit and god known’s what else.

“Smell like,” Tanner suddenly pushed Ezra away from him, “blood sucker, you’re a fucking vampire” he growled as he tried to get up only to fall back onto the cot, as the word tipped violently around him.

Ezra had stumbled backwards and landed on his backside, “There was no call for that Mr. Tanner; I was just trying to help you.” He paused as he eased himself up, ready to protect himself if needs be, even an injured werewolf was dangerous, hell especially a hurt one was. “So I am a vampire you’re a werewolf, so what, we’re both cooling our heels in here for the same reason, the decent” Ezra made the word seem almost an insult “people don’t like our kind in their fair town. By which I mean Southerners and because I am a gambler and you sir are an” Ezra paused “Err what you are” he finished a little lamely.

“Been a lot of thing, hunted buffalo, and hunted men, take your pick” Vin said then swore under his breath, as he rolled onto his side and threw up over the floor. Ezra kicked the sawdust on the floor over the vomit and then picked up the jug of water and poured some into a chipped cup “Drink this Mr. Tanner.”  Vin lifted his head enough to look at him; Ezra met the steady blue eyes, and knew that he was being judged. Vin reached for the cup and took a drink wiping the back of his mouth, then tried to push himself up, only to give an groan of pain, as the water made a reappearance, and he flopped face first down on the bed.  

“I could hazard a guess Mr. Tanner that you have a concussion. If you will allow me?” The question hung in the air. There was a lot of difference between accepting a cup of water from a vampire to actually letting one touch you so Ezra just waited.

Vin swore under his breath, and then reached out a hand; Ezra took it and then pulled the tracker up so that he could rest against him, as he fed him the water to him carefully. Before gently lowering him back down onto the cot.

“Thanks,” Vin muttered as he tugged the brim of his hat down, even the weak light from the lamps was burning his eyes, pain was spiking through his head, and he wasn’t sure if he was going to keep the second lot of water he had taken down. There was a long silence, and finally Vin said, “I don’t know you vampire, you got a name.”

“Ezra Standish.”

“Well Ezra, can’t say I’ve ever met you,” Vin pushed the hat brim up a little so that he could look at the Vampire, “So how you know my name.”

Ezra’s expression didn’t falter “I merely have seen your wanted poster.”

“You looking to claim the reward”

Ezra laughed, “I think that Mr. Larabee would have words to say on that matter, and he is not particularly known for his even temperament. The kindest thing I can say of him is that I have had the pleasure of encountering pissed off rattlesnakes with a kinder disposition.”

“What’s Larabee want; don’t think I ever cross his trail.” Vin sounded puzzled, frowning slightly.

Leaning forward, Ezra face showed his concern, “You don’t remember Chris Larabee.”

“I don’t know the man.” Vin sounded a little annoyed at the question, then with a groan he   eased his head back and tugged his hat down even further to shield his eyes. “Gunslingers’ rabid bunch of killers and Larabee’s the worse of them, got enough trouble of my own without looking for it.”

Ezra took a deep breath, this was much worse than he thought, Chris Larabee was riding to claim what was his, and Tanner had no memories of him, and given what the Texan had just told him, it could end very badly for one of them. His plan was now crashing down around his head.

 

0-0-0-0-0

Buck had ridden in silence, finally he swore and kicked his horse forward to ride next to Chris; he had seen the look Josiah and Nathan had given him, and the shake off the head of the older man. “Things are puzzling me Chris.” Buck paused, waiting for Chris to ask him what. Finally he said, “Aren’t you going to ask me what it is.”

“Didn’t have to ask, knew you tell me,” Chris glanced across at him.

“Okay,” Buck took a breath, “You took off after Vin, like all hell was on fire, how come you didn’t catch up with him.”

“That scraggly assed Texan went high mountain on me, when he wants to Vin, hell to find.”

“Yeah about that Chris.”

“Vin’s my bond mate, you hurt him again, and friend or not Buck you’re a dead man.” 

Buck held the glare of the green eyes levelly, knowing this was a moment of truth, the anger in them was cold and calculated, unlike at Purgatory when it had been hot and uncontrolled. Warning given and understood. 

The two men lapsed into silence, finally Buck had to asked “You and a vampire,” the words had barely gotten out of his mouth when he was pinned again by the glare, “Ezra, is bond mate, don’t forget it.”

“So how did you meet up with him?” Buck asked.

“He has a name Ezra Standish,” Chris corrected him...

“Brother Ezra was staked out in the desert when we found him.” Josiah put in as he kneed his horse to flank Buck. “It seemed he made the mistake of playing cards with a pack of werewolves and they didn’t take kindly to him winning. He had a Were protector.” Josiah broke off at the low deep throated growl that came from Larabee. Josiah shook his head, “Two months and Brother Chris is still rather upset about him, even if he did tear Brad Rolando’s throat out.”

Nathan came up to flank Josiah’s. “The Were protector, hell the man ran after Ezra’s horse was shot out from under him and he left him to the pack. Ez was lucky we got to him when we did.” 

“I am surprised Chris didn’t kill him, given vampires killed his family.” Buck said.

Josiah shook his head, “Something happened as soon as he saw Ezra,” 

Two months ago

Josiah looked up and saw birds spiraling down, he squinted his eyes against the sun, and then saw a splash of red, he raised himself up in the saddle, then swore as he kicked his horse into a run. 

“Over here.” Josiah yelled for Nathan, as he knelt by a man staked out in the desert, the man’s eyes were closed, and his skin was red and burned, his lips cracked and bleeding. When he had yelled the man had tried to weakly pull at the wooden stakes that held him to the ground, “Lay still, no one is going to hurt you.” Josiah ordered, his large hands trying to keep the smaller, younger man pinned down. 

The noise coming from this mouth were not words but hissing and snarling, his lips pulled back and Josiah saw the long fangs, as Chris arrived he said “He’s a vampire.”

Chris Larabee stood looking down at the man, and slowly pulled his gun and cocked it, his hand lowering, at that moment the vampire had opened his eyes, the ice cold glare of the gunman had fixed on the cloudy pain filled green eyes of the vampire. For a long minute nothing happened, it was as if time had stopped, Chris lowered the hammer, the gun whirled on his finger and returned to its holster as he said “cut him free,” the gun man turned on his heels and went back to his horse.

Puzzled Josiah pulled his bowie knife and cut through the leather strips that had constricted in the heat and were imbedded into the vampires wrists.  Nathan was opening his bag as he began to check over the injured man. “Looks like a professional gambler.”

Josiah nodded, “someone cleaned him out, wonder why they didn’t stake him,” the ex preacher broke off as with a cry of pain the vampire tried to pull away from Nathan’s touch, “No son, Nathan’s just trying to help you, I know it hurts, but just hang on a little longer,” the deep voice seemed to soothe the vampire and he laid still, making only soft whimpering noises as he tried to hold back his cries of pain.

Nathan looked up from his patient and said, “He’s sun blind Chris.” The healer rested back on his heels, he had treated only a few vampires in his time, and he knew the condition. If he was allowed to rest and feed, then his sight would return, but most sun blind vampires where killed because it was easy to do it while they were weak and helpless.

Chris, looked back at the Vampire, he could feel it, a pull, the moment the vamp had opened its eyes, he put a foot in his stirrup and hauled himself into the saddle. “He’s coming with us.” Then Chris pulled his horse round and started back the way they had come.

Josiah and Nathan exchanged a look between each other, they knew that Chris had lost his beloved wife and child to a vampire attack, yet he hadn’t killed this one. Puzzled Nathan finished up his first aid; he could do more when they set camp later. Josiah scooped the Vampire into his arms as if he weighted no more than a child, and carried him to the horses and lifted him up so that he could ride in front of Nathan, then the two men followed their pack leader.

Ezra Standish heard their voices, and then smelt the werewolf scent on them, and that was when he began to struggle, as he felt hands on him, when he opened his eyes all he could see was milky blurs and a figure stood over him. It was then he felt a pain cleave through his head, and it was as if the breath was dragged from his lungs. Then he had heard the deep voice and he knew that he was safe, and Ezra had stilled his struggle, as he was lifted and placed in front of a rider, exhaustion and pain had sent him spiraling downward into sleep.

0-0-0-0-0

Chris sat across from the vampire as Nathan and Josiah stripped the gambler and began to treat his injuries, the vampire laid still, the only indication he was conscious was when a cry of pain was forced past his lips. Josiah looked across the flickering flames at their pack leader, Chris was cradling a cup of coffee in his hands, his eyes never leaving the burned face of the vampire. Suddenly he threw the dregs of the coffee into the fire, and walked round, kneeling down, he pulled the vampire up so that he was resting against his knee, ignoring Nathan’s protests, at the way he was handling his patient. Chris pressed his wrist to the vampire forcing it against the man’s mouth, the vampire tried to turn his mouth away, but the iron grip of his head stopped him. “Bite you son of a bitch” Chris snarled at him.

Ezra bit down, his long fangs biting onto the Chris’s left wrist, as he began to feed, Chris gave a grunt of pain, at the razor sharp fangs went into his skin. How long he fed Ezra didn’t know, but then the source of the blood was being pulled away from him. Ezra snarled and tried to grab it back needing more, but a sharp clip cross his head brought him back to the present. He heard the man he had fed from say to the healer “hold his head still,” then blood was dripped into his eyes, and then a rag was bound across them and hand pressed him down onto the nest of blankets. As he dropped asleep he heard the voices say.  

“That was a fool thing to do Brother Chris” Josiah said, but Nathan didn’t mince his words.

“What the hell do you think you were doing, your blood bound to him, you.”

“He’s bond he’s pack,” four words that stopped Nathan in mid sentence.

“Chris, he’s a vampire and you’re bonded to Tanner.” Nathan added.

“Don’t understand it myself, don’t make sense but can’t deny it, just like I can’t deny Vin is mine, this vampire is mine.” Chris said meeting Nathan and Josiah’s eyes levelly, he was pack leader and this was how it was going to be.

0-0-0-0-0-0

Ezra woke up, his body was aching and he felt sick, holding up a shaking hand he pushed off the bandage across his eyes, and blinked against the early morning light.  It was then he saw the man sat opposite him, dressed all in black. This was the man he was blood linked too, he could feel the connection between them, Ezra had fed off many people, but he had always known that one day he would find his blood mate. Slowly the vampire eased himself up into a sitting position, one hand going to his head, as the pain spiked through it.

“So you feel it,” Chris said, his eyes never leaving the vampire.

“I would seem so, if you will get me to a town, I will leave I will not inflict myself on you further.” Ezra added quickly as the man in black powered to his feet, and loomed over him.

“You running out on me vampire.”

“I was merely giving you a way to extradite yourself from this situation.” Ezra put in levelly.

“You go when I tell you, and not before.” Was the snarled response.

“Easy Brother Chris, I think you are frightening our nocturnal friend.” Josiah said, as he got to his feet stretching deciding now was a time to make himself known. “Since I am sure that he hasn’t done it, your new blood mate is Chris Larabee, Alpha Omega of the Larabee pack, and you are.”

“Ezra Standish,” Ezra said vaguely, as he took on board what the big man had just said, an Alpha Omega, shit he was in real trouble. “Mr. Larabee, I am flattered, but surely another werewolf would be more fitting in the role of bond mate, I.”

“I already have one, Vin Tanner, we’re going to track the long haired son of a bitch down, and make sure he knows his place in this pack, and you’re going to help me Standish.”

0-0-0-0

Sitting in the cell Ezra could remember Chris holding a hand out to him and pulling him up behind him, and suddenly he could smell again the scent of the black duster, as he had buried his face into the man in black’s back as they rode together. Feel against the hard hand that had dropped down to rest on his thigh linking the two of them. He could see again the anger on Larabee’s face as he had stalked towards Brad Rolando, the man had tried to talk his way out, but he had died, not at the end of Larabee’s gun but by his hand. It was the first time he had ever seen a Grande Loupe. He should have expected it when Josiah had called Chris a Alpha Omega, but it was still a shock, most werewolves only had two faces the human one and the wolf, but a Grande Loupe or Great Wolf, had three, the third was an upright man wolf, with razor-sharp talons the vision of nightmares. It was that nightmare that Rolando had seen just before his throat had been ripped out. Ezra had been shocked no one had ever stood up and protected him before, and that night Chris Larabee had claimed him as his lover. Ezra had expected pain and fury but what he had got was a loving touch and gentle hands, that had caressed, stroked and brought him pleasure, until his body had open willingly to Chris,  and they had physically joined.

But he had soon known that Chris would never give up looking for Vin Tanner, and in the end he had left him, to find the other bond mate, this way he could leave Chris on his own terms.

Ezra was jerked out of his thoughts as the door to the cell was pulled open, and the men from the hotel, the Avenging Angels stood there, holding knotted ropes, instantly Ezra moved to put himself between them and the injured man. Vin tried to get to his feet, but Ezra threw himself at him pinning him to the bed covering him as best he could as the Avenging Angels laid into them with knotted ropes. How long the beating went on for, he never knew, but finally the men left them, bruised, and battered in the cell

The deputy opened the cell door at dawn and they were dragged out, Ezra was back handed across the face and would have fallen if Vin hadn’t caught him, when he protested as they were pushed at gun point out into the street, and into a prison wagon. Vin looked out  of the wagon, the town looked deserted, the only person he saw was the owner of the livery stable, Mr. Mitchell, The big man shook his head sadly, and turned away from Vin, but not before he saw the  shame written on the man’s face. It was then Ezra nudged him in the side, he gave a hiss of pain and turned on the gambler, and he saw what the other man was looking at. It was wolf bane and garlic intertwined through the bars of the cage, whatever advantage he and Tanner had when they left the ward protected town, had just been mitigated, they knew what they were. Vin sank down onto the floor of the wagon, for a long time they sat there in silence.  Finally he asked. “Why’d you do it”?

“Do what Mr. Tanner.”

“Back at the cell when you covered me, took those hits for me.” Vin frowned, he wasn’t use to complete strangers helping him out, and he wanted to know if there was a price attached to it. “So why’d you do it.”

“You were not in any condition to take a beating Mr. Tanner. It was a simple as that.  I am pleased to see that you’re feeling better, as I think we will both need our wits about us if we are going to survive what they planned.”

Seeing the look Vin gave him, Ezra continued “removing us this early so that no one could see us, the wolfbain and the garlic, I cannot think they have taken us from the cells for the good of our health.”

Just then the prison wagon came to a bone jarring halt and the back door was thrown open. 

Men circled the door, shotguns held at the ready, both men knew that their supernatural blood made them heal quickly, but even they couldn’t survive three shotgun blasts, so they climbed out slowly.  A blow to the back sent Ezra stumbling forward, Vin tried to catch hold of him; a kick to the back of his legs brought him crashing down, dragging Ezra with him.

Pulled into a kneeling position, Reverent Carter, stood in front of them, “A penitent man should be on his knees.” He reached out and handed one of the Avenging Angels a small bottle, and pointed at Vin. “If you resist your friend here will be killed” Carter warned as with a nod, a shotgun pressed to the side of Ezra’s head, and there was the sound of the hammers being pulled back. The moment he uncorked, the bottle Vin could smell it, he saw the way that Ezra flinched and knew the vampire had smelt it as well, it was  wolf bane and garlic infused in the water. A smile twitched Vin’s lips as he met Carters eyes, as he drank from the bottle, Wolf bane wouldn’t kill him, but it would stop him turning, the garlic he guessed would do the same to Ezra, he frowned as the bottle was pulled from his hand and given to the gambler. But Carter was trying to prove they were not human, it didn’t make sense, and surely he should be trying to make them turn to show their true nature. It was then Vin knew when he saw the smirk on Carter’s face, that was the whole point of it, Carter didn’t want them to turn, he couldn’t care less if they where Were or Vamp, he was going to make them pay in pain, and then they were going to die because they where southerners, Rebels nothing more nothing less.

0-0-0-0-0

Late Morning

Tiny Mitchell saw the men riding into town, these the Avenging Angels would leave alone, they only picked on the drifters, the loners, the ones that no one cared about. These four looked like trouble, and he couldn’t suppress a shudder as the eyes of the man in black swept over him.  Then to his horror instead of riding past the four men turned towards the livery stable, and pulled to a halt in front of him.

“C c can I help you.”

“Those two horses,” the man in black pointed to the horses in the corral, one a chestnut the other a black horse with a white blaze.

“Not for sale they belong to.”

“I know who they belong to, now where are they.”  The man in black cut across him and to Tiny the man looked pissed off, and that scared the hell out of him. Tiny could see the anger in those green eyes, and pointed toward the jail, “the drifter was picked up last night, he was sleeping in my stable, the gambler, and I saw him being arrested yesterday.

“Ezra cheating?” Nathan put in, adding “why aren’t I surprised,” the healer shook his head.

Josiah smiled “Brother Nathan, Ezra is a creature of habit, but he doesn’t cheat, he doesn’t have to, and I doubt if that is what has happened since gambling is illegal here.” The big ex preacher cocked his head towards Mitchell.

Tiny said quickly, “He had a pack of cards it’s illegal here, they’re tools of the devil.”

Buck laughed, but his eyes were cold if Chris wanted Vin and this Ezra then he would make sure that he got them and he would run interference on any one that tried to stop him.

“The sheriff’s office is down there,” Tiny pointed down the street, only breathing a sigh of relief as the four men started towards it.

0-0-0-0-0

Sheriff Bolt was stood in his jail his hands on his hips, staring at an empty jail cell, “what the hell,” he was furious, as his deputy came through the door he demanded “where’s Standish.”

The deputy just grinned at him in that cocky way that made Bolt want to plant a fist in his face. “You heard me, the gambler Standish where is he.”

“Judgment, higher than yours Sheriff.” He gloated.

Ken Bolt was right in his face when he demanded, “Where the hell did they take him.”

“A justice test, if they survive their inhuman creatures and we will kill them, if they die then they’re human, and we will give them a Christian burial even if they are Rebs.”

“They” Bolt leaned forward “who else,” Bolt was getting a nasty feeling that he already knew who.

“The drifter Tanner.” The Deputy pushed past the sheriff to take a seat at the table. Knowing that the sheriff couldn’t do anything to him, he couldn’t even take his job away from him because he was one of Reverent Carter’s men; he just wished that he could have taken part in the Justice test this morning.

Bolt swore and turned on his heels and headed for the door, there were two possible places where the Avenging Angels could have taken the two men; he just hoped that he was in time.

Sheriff Bolt came storming out of the Jail, and then ground to a halt, he had been a lawman for several years and exchanged information with other lawmen, and he knew who he was facing, Chris Larabee. Ken made sure that his hands were clear of his gun, he had heard enough about the blond gunman to know what the man was a cold blooded killer.

“What do you want Larabee?,” Ken raised his head and looked the man in black straight in the eyes even as he tried to swallow down the lump in his throat.

“Standish and Tanner.” Straight to the point, Larabee didn’t mince his words.

For a moment Ken hesitated, his deputy had refused to tell him, where they had taken the two prisoners, he wasn’t an Avenging Angel, therefore he didn’t have to know. The sheriff jerked a thumb over his shoulder “Deputy Wright knows ask him the bastard won’t tell me.”

Larabee touch the brim of his hat to him, and walked into the jail with his men a big older man and the cowboy with a moustache stood guard at the door as Larabee was backed by a tall black man, with an impressive spread of knives held in a harness across his back.

As he stepped out on the street he saw Tiny Mitchell coming towards him leading two saddled horse, he recognized the black horse with the blaze on his face as belonging to Tanner, the other must have been Standish’s horse. A scream from the jail brought him swing round, the two men at the door shook their head, and Bolt turned back, and walked away by noon he would have left the town taking his wife and family with him.

0-0-0-0-0

Burns marked Vin’s back and Ezra’s chest from the hot irons, their skin was heavily mottled with bruising from the beating they had taken when they had tried to escape the demon tests. Each test was one more brutal than the last, Ezra was breathing hard, as holy water was forced down his throat, he began to choke and bring the water back up, this time it was colored with blood from his blistered and bleeding throat.  The two men were tied together, back to back now, as Carter gloatingly told them, “If you float it is proof that you are not human, if you sink you are human, and your souls are pure, and we will give you a Christian burial.” But  both men knew that Carter had tired of his games, and this was now their death sentence.  Weights were tired to their feet, and the Avenger threw them into the river. The water was so cold it took what little breath they had away, their heads broke the surface, but the weights were pulling them down and even as they kicked there was nothing they could do as they were dragged down into its depths. The last things they heard was muffled gun shots, screams and the pounding of horses hooves.

Josiah came off his horse at run, and threw himself into the river, he dived down, he was aware of Nathan at this side one of his knifes held in his hand, Josiah caught hold of the bound men, their bodies hanging limply in the water, as Nathan cut the weights off them, together the two men caught hold of Vin and  Ezra and dragged them to the surface and  out of the water.

Nathan  tugged Vin Tanner onto his stomach, and he yelled instructions to Buck to do the same with Ezra, and began to push down, forcing the water from the limp body, for what seemed eternity nothing happened and then Vin began to cough up the water, before sinking down onto the ground again. Nathan looked relieved as he heard Ezra coughing, the two men were going to be okay it was when he turned to check on the gambler that he felt someone grab one of his knives and turned to find Vin Tanner on his knees.

“Put the knife down, you don’t need it Vin,” Chris said, not liking the look on his mate’s face.

“Don’t know you Larabee, your pack saved me, for that I thank you, now back off. I’ll get me clothes and take me horse now.” Vin pushed himself up, swaying, he knew that Larabee could shoot him dead, but something told him that man would just let him go. He edged towards his horse, all the time keeping Chris and then others in sight. “You coming Ezra.”

A hand clamped down on Ezra’s shoulder, and he looked up into the face of his Alpha, his pissed off Alpha. “No I think I’ll stay here.” Chris nodded and then started to close on Vin Tanner.

“Vin what the fuck are you playing at,” Chris snarled.

Buck shook his head, Chris had been scared he was going to lose his bond mates, and seeing them drowning had been seven types of hell for him, and Chris didn’t do scared well. “Chris back off, Vin look” Buck moved forward, “I was wrong okay, in Purgatory, I didn’t know you were bonded to Chris,” he looked down at this hands, then back up again, “If I had, I wouldn’t have attacked you, Chris needs you Vin.” He paused “Look I’ll go if you don’t want me around I.”

“Don’t know you mister, and don’t know no fast gun cowboy either.” Vin reached his clothes, and tugged his boots and hat on; the rest could wait until he was clear of these people. Being near a werewolf pack and unable to change was too much of a disadvantage. He had to get the hell out of there. The vamp he looked towards Ezra didn’t seen in any distress, hell the way they were fussing around him, made him think he belonged. For a moment sadness swept through Vin, to belong must be nice, but that was something he would never have, no one wanted him, to hunt and track a man, yeah, but to be part of pack no.

“Tanner, you try and get on that horse and I’ll put a bullet in that scrawny ass of yours.”  Chris Larabee said as he closed the distance between them.

“If you were going to draw you would have,” Vin said levelly calling his bluff.

It was then Larabee attacked, he lunged at Vin, he impacted hard enough to send Vin flying backwards, the Texan had the air forced from his lungs, and pain exploded through his back and head as he landed on the ground. The knife was forced from his hand, and he was pinned down, nose to nose with Larabee, he tried to head butt him in the face, but the man in black dodged the blow. All the time Larabee was smiling at him, even when he managed to get a hand free and caught the blond gunman across the face with his fist. Larabee accepted the blow, he  could have hit him back, but all he did was pin him, the scent of the gunman flooded him, he knew the scent, but he couldn’t he couldn’t the scent brought with it memories, memories of this man. Of being pinned down him, and welcoming the weight of his body, his hands, his mouth on his throat. Then he did the only thing he could, that felt right, Vin turned his head, and presented his throat to the blond. For a long moment nothing happened and then he felt the bite of teeth and he screamed as pain ripped through his head, his body trying to arch up under Larabee's weight as his memories crashed down on him. Then he slumped down, his head rolling back and he tried to breath, his eyes clenched against the pain, he felt Chris nuzzling at his throat, nip at this chin. Only then did Vin open his eyes, and look up into the face of his bond mate and lover. His hands where free and he wrapped them round the gunman’s neck and pulled him down into a long kiss, reveling in the warmth of the body that moved on top of him. When his lover’s hands encircled him and pulled him close and into a sitting position he buried his head against Chris’s shoulder, he was back where he belonged.

A blanket was pulled round him, and he flinched as he saw Buck, remembering the beating the bigger man had given him. “Easy Vin,” he spoke soothingly, “I was wrong, Vin, what I said about leaving I meant it.”

Vin took a breath, “No need Buck,” and then he buried his face back against Chris.

Ezra had watched all this, and the heaviness in his heart increased, for a moment then when they had been rescued he had felt the joy and security of the pack, but then seeing Vin and Chris he had known it was all a lie. He had dressed quickly, brushing off Nathan and Josiah’s help, and while they had gone to help Chris with his bond mate. Ezra had pulled himself on his horse and then kicked it into a run, even as he heard the pack yelling his name.

Chris wouldn’t come after him, he had what he had wanted, Vin Tanner, better to flee now rather than wait until Larabee and the others turned on him and forced him from the pack. For the first time in a long time, tears came to his eyes, as he turned his back on his pack; each stride of the horse taking him further away, the tears ran unashamedly down his face.

0-0-0-0-0

Early the next day

Buck knelt by the fire, pouring himself his first cup of coffee of the day, and looked towards where Chris was bedded down, with his young bond mate.  The gunman was awake, Chris had his head resting against Vin, he was clinging tightly to him as if afraid that if he let go of him Vin would vanish. This need shocked Buck, Chris never showed his weakness, and the only time he had ever seen him overcome was after they found the massacred bodies of his family. Chris drank to hide the emotions he refused to deal with. But here he was holding Vin as if he was the most precious thing in his life; it was that more than anything that told Buck how lucky he was to be alive. He had tried to deprive Chris of his mate, and could have paid the ultimate penalty for that. Now he had to mend the bridges his misguided attack had caused. It was then Buck realized  that Vin was also awake, as he approached them the younger man pushed himself up, on all fours, and Buck saw the way Vin’s lips pulled back showing his teeth in a snarl.

Taking a deep breath, Buck brought the coffee over, kneeling down he offered the bitter brew to his Alpha. With one hand Chris dragged his mate down and with the other he reached for the coffee and took a deep satisfied drink.

Buck was careful not to show his teeth to Vin when he smiled, not wanting the younger man to take it as a hostile action, only now really understanding that Vin was as wild as the timber wolves that inhabited the high mountains. With that  one thought  a lot of things made sense, before Purgatory, Vin had never ridden with them all the time, he had come and gone, and Chris seemed to  tolerate it, understanding what he hadn’t that the younger man needed his freedom. But now he was bond mate, Chris would be keeping Vin close as if answering the question Chris tugged Vin closer and then fed him the coffee, the Alpha helping him guide the cup to his mouth as with his other hand he stroked Vin’s back encouraging him to drink it down.

Buck took a deep steadying breath, “I would never have attacked you if I had know that you were a bond mate, it’s just that I never thought that Chris would, that he would pick you, ...... a man,” Buck swore as he stammered over the words, unable to meet the blue eyes that seemed to look down into his very soul.

Vin took another sip of the coffee but didn’t answer.

Buck shook his head “Your not going to make this easy for me are you?” he paused as he saw the twitch of the younger man’s mouth, and exploded “You’re laughing at me you bastard.” Faster that he could have imaged Vin powered up from where he had been with Chris, his body cannoning into Buck sending the two men crashing to the ground. The Bowie knife was pressed between Buck’s legs, up against his boys as an arm was pressed against his throat. Buck was looking straight into the cold blue eyes of Vin Tanner, Tanner was a bounty hunter, wanted man and killer, just as dangerous as Chris Larabee, and he could see no mercy in those blue eyes, “Easy Vin, I am kinda attached to them,” he tried to laugh but it  came out as a strangled choke.

Buck very carefully rolled his head and looked at Chris who got up, threw the dregs of coffee away and began to roll up the blankets, completely ignoring what was happened, clearly saying with actions not words that it was up to the two of them to sort it out. .

“Err Chris; I can do with some help here.” Buck pleaded.

But Chris ignored him, and walked towards the fire and poured himself another cup of coffee then savored the bitter drink, before finally saying “this between you and Vin, Buck, settle it.”

Buck let his head drop against the ground, and looked up into Vin’s eyes, suddenly he saw them crinkle as the younger man smiled, “Scared the shit out of you Bucklin” Vin said. He got up and followed his Alpha, leaving Buck on his back in the dirty, spitting curses at him, but with a broad grin on his face.

One hour later the Larabee pack was on their horses, Vin was out front tracking, it didn’t take him long to get on Ezra’s trail. The southern conman could run but he couldn’t hide.

0-0-0-0-0

Purgatory five days later.

Ezra was playing solitaire and waited for his first mark of the evening, so far the pickings had been very poor, but it was giving him time to recover, the garlic had damaged his lungs and throat, and badly weakened him, he paused to take a deep drink of the blood infused whiskey.

The saloon went silent, Ezra looked up, and saw the way that the customers began to drift towards the door, the bartender, a surly man. Banged a couple of bottles of his rot gut whiskey on the counter and moved away. The ten men that entered smelt of death and decay, a werewolf pack, boarder scum, Ezra knew the minute he saw them he was in serious trouble. The leader of the pack was Calico Jack Robertson, and he preyed on any one weaker, enjoying seeing them suffer before he killed them, slowly. Now it looked like Robertson was coming in his direction. While giving his cuff a tug into place, Ezra was checking his derringer rig. It would be like spitting in the wind, but it might just give him an edge and that was all he could ask.

Robertson came over to his table, “What are you doing here blood sucker?”

Ezra looked up from his cards, “I would have thought that it was plain to even you Mister Robertson, I am playing cards,” as if making the point he slapped another pasteboard card down onto the table.

Robertson’s hands came down on the table with a bang that sent the card jumping, as he leaned into Ezra, “You watch your tongue blood sucker, and you might just see the night out.” Then Robertson leaned in close to Ezra and took a deep sniff of the vampire, even as Ezra pulled back his face showing his disgust at the rancid breath of the werewolf leader.

The man grinned and turned back to his men “Seems this blood sucker, gives his ass up to werewolves,” then turning back to Ezra he showed his teeth in a leering grin, “You as good as you look boy, we might just fuck your ass, you fight us and we’ll tear your ass ragged.”

Ezra suddenly shuddered, he saw the gloating look on Robertson’s face, the man started to reach out to him. But his reaction hadn’t been caused by Robertson it was.

“KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF HIM.”

Robertson spun round at the voice, and snarled, stood facing him was a man dressed in black, he was flanked by four other men, not men werewolves. 

Chris Larabee glared at Robinson, “The vampire is mine, he’s pack, get the hell out of here now and you walk, stay and they’ll be carrying you out.”

“Fuck off cowboy.”

Buck shook his head, to Vin he asked, “Did he just call him a cowboy Vin.”

“Yeah he did, poor bastard.” Vin answered him.

Reaching out Ezra scooped his cards up and pushed them into his waist coat pocket. He had seen the look on Chris’s face, then the room was filled with cracking light, Chris didn’t go for his gun he changed.

Robertson and his men changed into large timber wolves, but Chris, Vin and Buck changed to their third face that of a man wolf. In that heart beat Chris went for Robertson the last thing the pack leader saw before he died was the black furred man wolf’s large white fangs tearing into him.

 

Even as Chris, Vin and Buck changed as did Josiah into a grizzly bear, and Nathan into a Mountain Lion. Without hesitation they followed their pack leader into the attack, there might be more have been more men in Robertson’s pack, but that didn’t matter, they died all the same. With a loud roar Josiah smashed through the rival pack his job was simply to protect Ezra. One of the timber wolves had lunged at Ezra, the derringer bullet not powerfully enough to stop it; the wolf cannoned into the vampire sending him crashing down. The gambler struggling to hold the wolf from his throat, when a large clawed paw lashed down, and took the wolf off him with one powerful blow. Ezra scrambled backward, colliding with the wall, as the bear loomed over him, and then it turned with a snarl making a barrier between him and the fight. Blocking his view all he could hear was the noise of the fight, the screaming and roaring, he brought his hands up to block it ignoring the pain from his torn and bleeding arm, and hand as it raged around him.

Just as suddenly as it had started it went quiet, a hand touching his shoulder made Ezra jerk back his head hitting the wall of the saloon with a thud, snarling his fangs flashed, he was looking into the face of Chris Larabee or rather his third face.

This, as Ezra knew, was every vampire nightmare, the third face the man wolf, he took in a shuddering breath, he had run out on the man, not once but twice, and Chris Larabee had told him that the next time he did it he would die. He held his head up and met the level gaze of his Alpha. He flinched but didn’t try and pull away as Chris reached out with his bloody five inch talon fingers and stroked the side of his face, with the back of his hand, then across his throat, the fingers pushing his head up, and to one side laying his throat open. Ezra forced himself not to close his eyes as he felt Chris’s hot breath against his skin, and the man wolf snuffling against his throat, taking in his scent, Ezra gasped sharply as the felt the large fangs scrap across his skin.  Slowly Ezra reached out a shaking hand and buried it into the man wolf’s scruff his fingers tangling into the long coarse fur. The roar was deafening, as Chris threw back his head and howled, the Vin and Buck took up the cry and it echoed through the saloon, a cry of triumph of the kill, something that had been lost had been found.

Ezra felt the change, as the air seemed to fold in on itself; the hand that touched him was now human. This time he looked into the human face of his Alpha.

“Why did you run Ezra”?

“I was surplus to your need Mr. Larabee, I understand that you needed me while Mr. Tanner was missing, I was merely removing myself before you asked me to leave. I do so dislike confrontation, it is so uncivilized, I.”

“Shut up Standish,” Chris snarled, his hand lashed out and caught hold of Ezra’s shirt, and gave him a hard shake. “You are bond mate.”

Whatever Ezra was about to say was lost, as he was pulled to his feet and propelled into Nathan’s arms, “Nathan patch him up and get him ready to ride, we’re leaving here.”

Chris looked towards Buck who tossed him one of the bottles of  whiskey, which he caught one handed tugging the cork out with his teeth, and then taking a pull of it, spat out the taste of blood from his mouth, before he took a longer drink, this time savoring the harsh raw bite of the whiskey.

Ezra was trying to struggle free from the healers grip, but a big hand clamping down on his good shoulder stopped him, he looked at Josiah and swore under his breath, “It seemed Mr. Jackson that I am at your mercy.”

“Good to hear Ezra, now sit down.”

Nathan pushed him into a chair, and began with Josiah’s help to ease off his jacket from the wounded arm, it was deep but the blood was flowing sluggishly. But Nathan used the whiskey to flush the wound, dog bites and werewolf bites were a hot bed of infection, Josiah’s hands trapped Ezra in place, as the vampire tried to struggle free of the pain. Using bandages from his bag that he had boiled and wrapped in brown paper Nathan bound the wound up. “I am not going to stitch it yet, I need to make sure that any infection drains, once we get to our camp, I’ll put a poultice on it, and make up some of my tea for you, help with the pain.”

“Horse piss,” Ezra mumbled his southern accent thicken by the pain.

Nathan smiled, and then said “I like to think there’s room in the world for horse piss, and I am sure that horses think so too.”

Ezra smiled through the pain, and accepted the bottle of whiskey, and took a drink, and spat it out onto the dirty floor, “attempting to poison me Mr. Larabee.”

Chris took a drink, “nothing wrong with it,” he frowned.

“It seems Mr. Larabee that I am going to have to take your education in hand, as it seems to be sorely lacking.” Ezra pulled a battered flask from his pocket and took a pull of it, “this on the other hand is 12 year old scotch and nectar of the gods.”

Chris took a drink of it, “Smooth real smooth, knew there was a good reason so have you a round,” he took another drink and returned the flask to its owner and then took a deeper pull from the bottle washing the taste of blood from his mouth.

Ezra gave a theatrical shudder “heathens the lot of you.” Then he peered at Vin, “Err Mr. Larabee what would my bond brother be doing.” He waved a hand in Vin’s direction.

It was Buck who answered, “The Indians cut the heart out of a werewolf, it’s to stop them returning as demon spirits, Vin well he’s got some Indian teachings in him, don’t mean anything by it.”

The gambler just nodded, and turned away, as Nathan finished bandaging his arm, and then used his own bandana to make a sling for him.

0-0-0-0-0

Dawn was breaking over the mountains, when Ezra woke; he gave a groan and tried to bury his head under the blankets, to block it out. He had been up most of the night, a fever had come on him, and he had been unable to sleep, Nathan had been by his side all that time, wiping him down with damp rags, to lower his temperature. Chris had fed him his own blood, the strong rich werewolf blood had been like the finest wine, and Ezra remembered nuzzling against Chris’s neck, as he had sealed the fang marks, before finally dropping asleep in the arms of his Alpha.

Now with his head clear again he found his head was on Chris’s chest, even though he had made love to his Alpha in the past the intimacy of the situation made him uncomfortable. He panicked, this was too much for him to handle, the emotions he had gotten off his Alpha scared him, there was total acceptance of him, and he had to get away from him, from all of them. He was a gambler, a conman, and a vampire; he didn’t need anyone this was a mistake all a mistake. Ezra tried to push himself up and scrabble backwards only for his arms to give out, as a burst of pain shot through his injured arm, and he landed face first onto Chris’s chest. “Going somewhere Ezra.”

Slowly he looked up at a distance of only inches into Chris Larabee’s face, and swallowed at the fire he saw in his eyes, barely suppressed passion, he shook his head, and allowed himself to be tugged firmly back into place, so that his head was tucked under Chris’s chin, and strong arms wrapped themselves round him.  “I am not letting you go Ezra.” The words were said with utter conviction, “and I’ll keep saying it until you believe me.” It was then he felt Chris press a kiss to his forehead, and then the Alpha was pulling the blankets up round them.

Ezra yawned, he could argue his place with Chris later, for the moment he needed to rest, gather his strength, he would stay with them until his arm was healed, they would give him the protection he needed, and then he would go, no strings attached. Yes that was a good plan. He yawned again, a great plan, but in his heart of hearts he knew that he would stay.

It was late in the morning when Ezra finally woke enough to face the world, a warm body was plastered along the length of his, an arm was wrapped round his waist, and warm breath was against his neck. It was then he smelt it, his nose wrinkling up at it. “Mr. Tanner, why do you persist in keeping that coat, it smells as if the long dead animal is still wearing its skin.” He clawed the stray long hairs from his mouth with his good hand.  As he heard the rasping soft Texan accent against his ear. “Just jealous of this fine coat of mine.” The nip to the side of his neck was an attention getter, as Vin began to nuzzle against him.

Looking towards the fire, Ezra saw Chris Larabee sat there, whittling on a bit of wood, “Mr. Larabee as our Alpha would you tell your mate.”

“Our mate Ez” Chris drawled, and took a pull on one of his habitual cheroots.

Whatever Ezra was about to say was lost in a yelp, which made Buck burst out laughing; then Ezra was spluttering in indignation as he found himself pinned down by his fellow southern.   Vin was mindful of Ezra’s injuries, but it seemed that the urban southern Vampire was just starting to find out that the wild Texan werewolf had other things on mind. A ear splitting howl cut through the air, “well if you put it near my mouth I am going to bite, I am a vampire Mr. Tanner,” more growling low and deep throated “Mr. Tanner that is my last good shirt,  unhand me Sir, this moment,” there was the sound of cloth being torn Buck felt a chill up his spine as he head a particular sound of a sharp hiss on the in breath, that only a vampire could make, then all went quiet, except for the sound of low breathless groans .

Josiah put his hand out to collect the money from his wager, as he saw the Texan in his lupine form begin stalking his Alpha, flanked by the vampire in his wolf form, it had taken them less than 24 hours to band together. Any fears the pack might have had, that Vin and Ezra might have been at odds with each other was quickly put to rest as Buck, Josiah and Nathan,  saw their two independent, free spirited pack bond mates joining together to give their Alpha a run for his money.

 

 

Four weeks later

JD Dunne, Sheriff of Four Corners, watched as six riders entered the town, they looked like trouble; they rode past the Bank to the more rundown of the two saloons in town. The men dismounted and entered the saloon. 

“You know who that was son.” Old man Rimmer said as he leaned on his broom.

“No.”

“Boy, you best keep away from him, Larabee’s a cold blooded killer, I saw him in Clarkston last year, he’s as fast as a rattler and just as mean, he’s up to no good, his kind never is.” The old man crackled as he watched JD start towards the saloon. Only for the young man to stop as the stagecoach came in and Judge Travis got out. Judge Travis looked round him.

“Sheriff Dunne, have you seen Larabee.”

“Just arrived Sir,” JD lifted one of his guns and spun the cylinders; “Do you want me to arrest him.”

Travis shook his head, JD meant well, but he trying to arrest Larabee was like a kitten taking on a mountain lion, all that was going to be left was a bloody smear on the ground.

“No need for that,” he paused, “Come on son, I want you to meet the town’s new Regulators.”

“Regulators.” JD felt as if the air had been forced from his lungs. “I” he struggled to say what he felt, he had taken on the job of sheriff when no one else wanted it because it was the right thing to do.

“You’re still sheriff, JD, your be working with them and taking your orders from Larabee, I think it’s time you met the Larabee Gang.” But as  JD Dunne followed the Judge towards the saloon, he knew that life was never going to be the same again and the bitter resentment spread through him, this was his town and he was going to prove to those Regulators that he had every right to wear the badge in his town.

The end.