On Opposite Sides of the Law

By KelticDream

The stage coach rattled on, the passengers trying not to fall on the others present . The road was full of potholes and the driver wasn't slowing down. No one could nap on the hard upholstered seat. Two men sat on the seat facing the back on the coach. One was sitting with his hat covering his face, his arms folded over his chest. He appeared asleep, but he wasn't, as his cousin next to him knew. His cousin sat looking out the window at the dry earth, the few poor excuses for trees and the rocks. Not even a bird flew over head, and the dust coated everything in the coach with a white film. Every now and then someone would cough.

He was a handsome man with dark hair and eyes; he seemed lost in thought as he looked out the window. Until he turned and looked at the pretty girl in front of him. The one with hair the color of golden buttercups, eyes the color of a stormy sea; he smiled at her, his dimples showing in his cheeks. The girl smiled back; she thought he was a handsome man.

"We should be stopping soon, miss. Then you can get something cool to drink."

"I sure hope so, I am parched. I think the driver is trying to kill us all, Mister ...”

He held out his hand to her, and took her soft hand in his. "It's Joshua Smith. I think he is in a hurry to get a drink himself. May I ask the pretty lady with the eyes of a stormy sea her name?" He let go of her hand and sat back, smiling still.

"My name is Savannah Ross. I am meeting my brother Justin in Laramie. Have you ever been there?"

"Once, several years ago. My partner and I know some friends there."

At that moment his partner pushed his hat up off his eyes. His blue eyes looking at the girl. His lips curving into an easy smile. He touched his hat.

"My name is Thaddeus Jones, ma'am. Savannah looked into his handsome face and saw the baby face, like a kid. But he certainly wasn't, somewhere in his twenties. Two handsome men to travel with, her brother probably wouldn't like this at all.

The coach rolled on for another hour. The sound of the driver cursing just as the coach hit something and went airborne and then began to roll, passengers tumbling around like popcorn popping in a closed pan. It was slow motion for them, seemed to go on forever, but it lasted barely two minutes.

The coach came to rest on its side in a ravine. Dust slowly settled, the horses were quiet, except for one that screamed in agony, as it tried to get up, but couldn't', the driver was gone. An hour past and the horse was at peace, silence finally.

The coach’s door opened as a hand reached out, the door fell back with a thud, against the side of the coach. Curry knelt down by his cousin and gently shook him. Heyes lay there motionless, he barely seemed to breathe. He had a cut on his head, which he could see. He put his hand on his face and gentled patted it, the skin was cool, kind of clammy.

"Heyes . . . Heyes! Wake up. Come on, you can't die on me. His heart was about to stop when he felt his cousin stir, then the brown eyes look up at him. The kid smiled. "Oh God, Heyes, I thought you were going to die on me."

"Kid?" He couldn't see very well, still blurry. He felt sick to his stomach, and his head was pounding. "My right shoulder, I think it's busted." Curry touched it, feeling it, as Heyes sucked in his breath, he could feel the break.

"Don't move, Heyes." He moved to look over the girl. But her open staring eyes told him her fate, he closed them and turned back to his cousin. "Well, shall we get out of here now?"

"I think I'm done with riding stages for a while. Lets stick with horses," he said to Curry, who leaned and lifted his cousin up into a sitting position. Heyes' head swam. Moaning softly, he put his hand out and grabbed Curry’s coat. Curry pulled him up, and once they were standing. He cupped his hands, his cousin putting his foot in them, and was lifted up and out of the coach.

He lay against the side of it, he felt his stomach roll as he lay there. He rolled over and hung his head over the side and emptied his stomach. He felt a hand on his back, rubbing it, when he had finished, the same hand pulled his head back. "Are you sure you're all right?" He slowly began to move his cousin toward the other side, then he dropped to the ground and pulled Heyes with him. Once he was on the ground, the blond man began to look around. Seeing there were no horses to be ridden, he picked up a canteen lying on the ground. His sore ribs were complaining about all the movement, luckily they weren't broken. He went through the suitcase that lay near by. He picked out some cloth to make a sling, and found some sticks.

Making the dark-haired man sit, he removed his jacket and began to again feel the arm. He pulled and moved the bones around, until they were back where they had to be. He took a breath. He splinted the arm, and began to put the sling on when he looked, the other man had passed out. Well, he would let him rest awhile, it would be dark soon, and he had things to do.

Heyes woke to a warm fire, and the darkness. He was laying on a blanket, and his partner was sitting nearby watching the flames. He sat up, pain shooting up his shoulder, as he tried to use it. He looked around, just as two blue eyes turn their gaze on him.

"Kid, where is everyone? "

"Dead, Heyes . We're on our own. Tomorrow we'll start walking. Bound to run into someone who'll be looking for the overdue stage."

"I hope you're right, Kid." It was then Heyes noticed something. He smelled something, that made his mouth water. He grinned." Do I smell dinner?"

"Yeah, Heyes, you do. Its rabbit; I saved you some." He took one of the sticks with the roasted meat on it and brought it over.

The other man, brought it to his mouth. He bit into it, its juices filling his mouth with memories. It was so good, that he quickly ate it and asked for more. "I think your cooking has improved," he said to his blond friend, as he bit into the second piece.

The saloon was full of men that night, and it was noisy. Several cowboys who were at the bar shot off their guns. Two others were fighting in one corner. Over the last steak. The bartender just kept cleaning the glass in his hand with the dirty rag. He motioned to the piano player to play louder.

At one of the tables sat two cowboys who were talking quietly, a bottle between them, no glasses. Having seen the bartenders habit. They ignored their surroundings. One was tall, handsome about 26, blond with beautiful blue-grey eyes. He was of a slender build. He smiled easily, and often. His companion was shorter, more muscular. Dark hair and blue eyes, full kissable lips. They smiled at the man across from him, but the handsome man was fully aware of the room and everything that happened in it.

"Well, little brother, we got the contract signed and now we can relax."

"Yeah, but there’s not much to do in this town."

"Well, there are two more towns before we get home. We'll find something to occupy our free time." He took a swig of the bottle and handed it to his brother. Johnny drank and put it back on the table.

"The bath and dinner was a good start. But now what?"

"Well, I just happen to have a deck of cards in my pocket. Feel lucky, big brother?"

Scott smiled and grabbed the bottle, for another taste, as he watched his brother open the deck.

Several hours had passed pleasantly for the brothers; one bottle was empty. But they hadn't ordered another, as they played for matchsticks. Some of the noise had died down, since they had come in. One of the men who had been over in the corner earlier, fighting over a steak, was moving past their table, he was in a foul mood. He bumped into Johnny, splashing him with beer. Johnny got to his feet. His eyes flashing, Scott stood, too. The man looked into Johnny’s eyes.

"Damn you, man. You spilt my beer. I think you should buy me another one." Scott looked at his brother, and knew what was coming.

"I didn't spill your beer. You bumped into me. I think you owe me an apology. I don't care to have beer spilled on me. Unless I do the spilling." His voice, though soft, yet it said loudly; danger, get before you get hurt. Which the man didn't seem to realize or ignored it.

The man raised his glass by the handled attempting to break it on the other mans head. But as he brought it down, his arm was caught, and a fist rammed into his stomach that drove all his air out. He gasps, as another punch caught his chin, he felt the room spin, and the floor coming up and hit him in the face, breaking his nose. Then darkness. The brothers looked down at the man on the floor, the blood pooling by his nose. They picked up their hats and walked through the swinging doors. Headed to the hotel and sleep.

Next morning as they sat in the small café eating breakfast. Scott was reading a paper. He certainly loved to read, didn't see many papers. When he did, he would grab it. His brother on the other hand, sat there waiting for more coffee. He was fiddling with the salt shaker, and his fingers were moving it around several checkered squares of the table cloth. Knocking it over, he glanced up and then righted it again. He started drumming his fingers of his left hand on the tables' edge. Until his brother looked from around the paper at him, he stopped.

"Would you like to read some of the paper?"

"No thanks, Scott. Are you about ready to go?" Scott put down the paper and smiled. "All right Johnny, lets get on our way." Scott put some coins on the table as he stood, his brother was already out the door. He was looking down the street, toward the end of town. "Patience brother. "" What do you mean, I have plenty of patience." The fair-haired man smiled, and put his hand on the dark-haired mans' shoulder. Gave it a squeeze.

"Why, of course you do. Two days before the next town. Can you think of anything else we need before we leave?"

"Some peppermints."

Scott looked at him in surprise. "Well okay, we ride right by it, and we can stop. Peppermints?"

"Yeah, I like them."

They rode out of town after they stopped at the mercantile store. Johnny was riding along a peppermint stick sticking out of his mouth. Scott shook his head at his brother, a new one on him. The day was a hot one, the air dry, and the sun was already beating down. The brothers carried two canteens each.

Buzzards flew overhead, circling. Both Scott and Johnny saw them, and moved closer to where maybe someone needed help. Barranca snorted as they came Toward some rocks. Johnny just kept moving, his sharp eyes searching. He spotted something, two men a dozen feet away near one of the trees. Both were sitting in the minimal shade of the almost bare tree, the two rode up and dismounted. Johnny watching both men, as he came nearer. He saw they were in bad shape, without water for a while.

One was hurt, and Scott grabbed a canteen, bringing it over to the two men. Handing it to the fair‑haired man, who nodded and turned to his friend, and helped him drink first. Only then did he take some of the water for himself.

"Thank you for stopping. I'm Thaddeus Jones, my partner Joshua Smith. We were on a stage coach that wrecked, headed to Laramie." Johnny took in the gun, on the man's hip and how it lay. A fellow gunslinger.

"Glad to help. I'm Scott Lancer, and this is my brother Johnny." The man's sharp eyes began to take in the brothers. H e wasn't worried. Except he knew that the dark‑haired man wasn't a cowboy. He could be wonted to, and most gunslingers were, somewhere. His eyes met Johnny’s, a look passed between them, both understood the message.

It was a long ride to the nearest town, which was Thomasville. Seems the women from the stage coach had been going in the wrong direction, headed toward the desert. The four rode in silence, Heyes rode with Johnny, and Kid rode with Scott.

Curry watched his cousin as they rode, that and the man on whose horse he rode. Johnny felt the eyes on him, preferring to ignore it for the time being.

They arrived in town three hours later. The town was quiet, at least compared to the other one. Luckily they spotted the doctors office as they rode in. The brothers pulled up in front of the little house.

The Kid jumped off and quickly went to his partner. He helped him off the tall horse, and they headed into the office. He looked over his shoulder to the two men still mounted.

"I thank you for your help. If we can ever do anything for you . . . "

"Well, when your friend is patched up, if he feels like it, maybe you and he might want to join my brother and me for a drink at the saloon." Scott smiled, as he spoke. Kid just looked at him or a moment then nodded. Scott and Johnny headed for the stable, well another night in a town it seemed.

Scott had watched his brother in silence for a moment. He knew something was wrong. It had something to do with those two men they had found. Maybe his brother knew them, or of them. "Johnny, something wrong? "His brother turned to him, chewing on his hat strings.

"Just thinking is all. Why did you invite those two to join us later?"

"It seemed the thing to do. Find out how Smith is too. They seem all right."

"Brother, you are too trusting sometimes. I know something is up with those two. I would bet you, they are wonted men. The one who calls himself Jones . . . well he is a gunhawk, too. Very fast, but not his partner."

Scott stopped in the street, and put his hand on his brother's arm stopping him also. He had learned that his brother was more often right about such things. "Are they killers, bank robbers?"

"Not killers, though Jones has killed before, but I don't think he's a killer. He has to have a good reason. Smith I don't know, but they are wanted men, I feel it."

"What do we do? Go to the sheriff?"

"No, I think they are okay. No danger to us, if they were . . . We just play it by ear, not everyone wanted is bad. I think they would make good friends, we will see. Now come on big brother, lets go get something cold to wash away the dust." Scott smiled and put his arm around his brothers' shoulder. They headed to the quiet saloon.

Heyes and Curry left the doctors and headed toward the saloon. Heyes had a new sling, and a white bandage on his head. Curry kept an eye on him, he was worried about him. His cousin looked over at him, and smiled that smile of his, the one that charmed the birds out of the trees. That melted the ladies hearts like ice on a hot day. "Well, Kid, we have to find a new job in a few days, we'll be out of money by the end of the week."

"Should be some work around here, a ranch or something. Maybe you could get a job at the bank, Heyes."

His cousin smiled at him. His blue eyes dancing. "Yeah, maybe I will just check into that. If they get their safe locked accidentally, I can open it for them." Heyes was smiling but seemed seriously considering just that.

"I was just kidding! What about our new pals, Heyes?"

"Well they seem nice enough, helped us. The blond Lancer, he seems to be a city boy, new to the west, and our ways, likable type. His brother, is something else, makes a good friend or bad enemy, much like you kid. Fact he can equal you with the gun, I'm thinking. Which doesn't happen often. Just try not to bump heads with him. For me.”

"You gathered all that since we met them? I thought you were pretty out of it."

He looked surprisingly at his cousin. "I was, but my mind was working, too. We can trust them."

"I hope so Heyes, cause otherwise . . . " He turned and walked toward the saloon The two cousins walked into the saloon, and immediately saw the two men they were looking for. The Lancers were sitting at a table on the far end of the room. The dark‑haired man saw them first, walking over. They checked out the rest of the room.

"Well, have a seat. How you feeling, Joshua?" asked Johnny.

"I'm fine now, thanks to the two of you." He sat down next to Scott, as Johnny motioned to the bartender who came over with four beers. Kid sipped his, and watched Johnny. He had never heard of a Johnny Lancer, gunfighter, he must have used another name. Maybe Heyes would know, he’d ask him later.

The men started talking, getting to be comfortable with each other. Small talk, talking about family, where they had traveled, girls, and which town had the best poker. But no secrets revealed.

The Lancers didn't leave the next morning. They wanted to get to know the other two men a little. Mostly Johnny was curious about the other gunhawk. Heyes had applied for and gotten a job at the local bank. The Kid had taken a job at the mercantile store.

The Lancers had been walking around the town looking over the local girls, but they didn't get any dates. Though they certainly were watched by young ladies, their mommas put a stop to it going any further.

"I can't understand it, Johnny, and here we are two handsome young men in town. Yet we can't get any dates?"

"I don't know, brother, maybe it's just that they are going to be nuns are something?" A woman passed by them, and she had two young women with her. They stopped, and stared at the brothers. Both pretty. Johnny and Scott smiled at touched their hats. The older woman, grabbed each by the arm and pulled them along.

"But ma, they are handsome . . . , can't we take them to the dance tonight? I like the blond one." I bet he could kiss me and make me swoon, and a walk in the moonlight....She thought. "Yeah ma, I won't to ask that dark haired one to the dance, he's so cute, and his eyes . . " His lips are so kissable, I can almost feel them on mine. Why if I could get him alone. She thought. "You will both be staying at home tonight, you bad girls." Their mother sniffed and led them on down the street.

The boys turned around. Shrugged. Oh well, can't win in this town, they thought.

"You know Scott, but we could use some more money. Might want to play some cards tonight."

Scott smiled. "Yeah, sounds good to me."

They walked toward the bank, Johnny stopped and looked around. He felt something but it was vague, he moved on, keeping his eyes open. Entering the bank, both men were surprised to see Heyes behind one of the cages. He smiled at them, and shrugged. Scott walked over to his window, and handed him the bank draft he held.

"Morning Scott, How do you want this? Tens, twenties?"

"Yes. Some coins, too."

Heyes busied himself with counting money. Johnny sat in a chair by the window, sat tapping his fingers on the chair arm. As Scott turned with the money, six men burst into the room. They had the entire room covered, Johnny froze as he looked into the gun pointed at his head, from outside the bank window. When he put his hands up, the man came inside.

The leader was about six three, broad shouldered, and carried a shotgun. An ugly scar ran down his right cheek, and he looked at everyone. Pointing the shotgun at each person in the room. "Now if you do as I say I might let you all live. Then maybe not."

Two men went behind the counter, and began to grab money from under the counter, filling their bags. All the people behind the counters were pushed over near the safe. Scott and Johnny and the other customers pushed over to join the rest, Johnny kept looking for a way out. Without a gun, well he had to get one from the outlaws.

The bank manager started turning red. "You can't do this, I can't let you have it. It's not mine!"

"Shut up you old man. It's mine now. I’m just removing it from this place to put it in mine. He smacked the man across the face, the old man fell to his knees and clutched his chest.

"My . . . pills," he gasped. He reached into his pocket, and grabbed the bottle. As he tried to open it, one of the men, a short skinny Mexican grabbed the bottle away and kicked the old man down.

"Let the man have his medicine." Johnny’s voice was soft but with steel running through it.

The leader turned to him, he sized up the smaller man. He knew what was in front of him, and he couldn't afford to leave him to follow. "I don't care for any of you." He turned to his men. "Get the money out of the safe. Don't leave a dime for them." He turned to the customers. "Now ladies and gentlemen, time to donate t o my favorite cause, me. Scott reluctantly turned over the two hundred dollars he had just gotten.

Just as the old man collapsed, his face turning blue, and he was gasping for air. His eyes met the leaders one last time, before he took his last breath.

Heyes watched the men, looking for a way out of this. He knew that Johnny would probably make his move soon, he had to be ready to help. It came when one of the men reached over and struck Scott on the side of the head with his rifle. Scott went to his knees. As Johnny moved, he grabbed one of the men from behind, One arm striking the man in the back of the head, and the other grabbing a gun. He fired at the man who had hit Scott, not waiting to see him fall from the bullet wound between his eyes. Before turning and firing again. He hit another of the men, Stomach wound, just then he felt a blow to the back of his head. Heyes had been watching, knowing they wouldn't win against six. Now if the Kid had been there, he and Johnny could have done it. But there were innocent people in here too. After all he knew it was a good idea to give the money up, and live to go after them. He should know.

The leader looked at Johnny, he motioned for two of his men to put Johnny in the safe. As they stuffed him into it, he didn't move. Time he woke up, well he wouldn't, now would he, thought the leader.

Scott came to his feet , only moments later, still dizzy, and noticing his brothers' absence. Heyes, motioned toward the safe, Scott froze, his breathing stopped. He eyes going to, and not leaving the safe. The outlaws ran out of the bank, to their horses. Gunfire from outside, Heyes felt sure, his cousin would be there The women ran out of the bank, terrified, and not wonting to be anywhere but home. BOOM! The sound of explosions on the end of town, sent the few men inside, out the bank and running towards the end of town. Only Heyes and Scott, and the dead manager remained. Scott moved to the safe, he knelt down in front of it. His brother would die, what could he do? He felt the pain in his heart, it tore at him, as he stared at the safe. He couldn't lose his brother. He looked up as a hand came down on his shoulder, and it was Heyes. He gripped his shoulder a moment, for he knew what the other man was feeling. His mind was racing for an answer, and he knew deep down what that answer would be.

At that moment Curry ran into the bank, glancing around quickly, calming only when he saw Heyes, alive and well. He holstered his gun, moving over to him.

Heyes smiled at him for a moment before dropping it. "You all right Joshua? Where's Johnny?"

"Yes I'm fine, Thaddeus, but Johnny is in the safe."

"The safe?" He looked to Scott. He was thinking what Heyes was . Was it worth the risk? He would leave it up to Heyes, he had the brains after all.

Scott eyes locked on the safe, as he touched it, willing it to open, but it didn't, he felt helpless. He felt rage beginning to build inside, those outlaws had done this. They would pay, he swore it. "Johnny!" he yelled. "I'll get you out don't worry brother." He knew the words were empty, but there had to be a way. Curry looked at Heyes, he knew that time was running out. That every second that passed, meant Johnny might not survive. Heyes was looking at his arm in the sling, and he was trying to move his fingers. They were stiff, and hurt.

Scott turned his eyes in anguish toward Heyes. "Joshua, where is the man with the combination?"

Heyes turned toward Scott, shaking his head. "The only one with that, . . . " he motioned toward the dead man.

"No! There must be someone else! My brother will die in there."

Heyes looked at Curry, who was watching him. He pointedly looked down at his hand, shook his head. He couldn't do it. The delicate touch needed to feel the tumblers, he didn't have at the moment. His fingers were slightly swollen. His cousin nodded, but the look in his blue eyes, asked, can't you find a way?

"How long? ... I guess you wouldn't know," said Scott in a soft voice.

"Adding the size of the safe with the size of your brother. The available space left over to contain air . . . about four minutes."

Scott was repeating those words. four minutes over and over to himself. Heyes walked over to Curry. So they could speak softly. "Heyes, you can get him out, I know it. You're smart. You are the best with safes, I know how I'd feel if that were you in there."

Blue eyes met dark brown ones. "I know, Kid, but I don't think I can use that hand, I can try. Maybe I can use my left, but you know the risk. Call it, Kid?"

"Get him out, Heyes."

Heyes turned back and settled himself beside the safe. He looked at Scott. Then turned his attention back to what he had to do. He set his slender fingers to work. He sat listening to, and feeling the tumblers as he worked. He was fighting a time table. Could he do it? First one click, moments later another click. Heyes glanced at his cousin, who smiled at him. He had the first two numbers, not for the final one. Five minutes had passed. He concentrated. He heard the final click and smiled. He turned the bar and the safe swung open, Scott’s mouth as well. Then he moved to the man in the safe. Heyes sat back as Curry helped Scott remove the gunfighter from the safe.

Scott pulled him into his arms, but his brothers' eyes hadn't opened. He didn't appear to be breathing. He shook him. "Johnny! , Open your eyes! I'm your big brother, you have do what I say. Now breath, open your eyes!" But his brother didn't respond. Scott shook him again. His face turning white with shock and the pain that started deep in his chest and began to spread through his body and mind. His brother lay limp in his arms, Heyes moved over to them.

"Lay him down flat." He said. When the man was flat, he moved over him. He began to press on Johnny’s chest, and he was counting. "Scott, on the count of five, breath into Johnny s' mouth." Scott and Heyes worked for a few minutes. Scott wondering what this was going to do. When his brother moved slightly, and started to breathe on his own.

He looked at Heyes, who smiled back at him. "Just something I read in a book."

Scott pulled his brother back to him. He touched his brothers' cheek, and was rewarded with blue eyes focusing on him. He smiled so hard it hurt his face. "Welcome back brother."

Johnny just looked at him, as he breathed in all the air he could. Scott turned to Heyes. "Thank you, and you saved him. Not once, but twice. We owe you a lot. ""Well, it's not every day I get to practice what I read. Now I know it works. Besides I owed you and your brother."

“I guess I wont complain about all that reading you do for awhile. Not bad, cousin.”

"Scott, we got to go get those men." Johnny sat up. Weak in flesh, but strong in will. We can catch them if we hurry. I owe them something."

His brother smiled at him. "Take it easy. You almost died. You aren't in any shape to chase anybody."

Heyes shut the safe and looked at Curry. Pride was there in his cousins eyes. Heyes smiled that smile of his. Today hadn't been all bad. The manager's brother and two men came into the bank. They looked at the four men, and then the manager, they gathered around his body. The man told them he was closing the bank, the four left the bank. Johnny already walking with his easy stride. Scott by his side.

Johnny headed toward his horse. "I'll go alone. You can stay here, Scott."

Scott grabbed him by the arm." Oh, no you don't, little brother. We go together. I owe them, too."

"Okay, let’s get riding."

Heyes and Curry looked at each other. Curry whispered to his cousin. “Here’s one for the books, we are chasing bank robbers.” the dark haired man smiled and nodded. Then joined the other two men. Curry smiled at Johnny. "We are with you, after all they did do Joshua out of his favorite job, and that old man didn't deserve that."

The two gunfighters looked at other. One fair and one dark, so different, yet so alike .A crackling of energy surrounded them. Their eyes were cold and deadly, both were after the same thing. The other two men, watched, feeling it, glad they weren't the ones to face these two.

The four men rode out of town. The kid had seen which way they were headed. Also he and Heyes knew where most of the hiding spots around there were.

They would have better luck than the posse. A couple hours later Johnny picked up some fresh tracks, he followed them. Curry knew where they were headed. He and Heyes had used the place before .There were cliffs and a deep gully. Also, a hidden cave. Plenty of room to hide horses and men.

Near the cliffs, Johnny motioned for them to stop and dismount. He could feel the men near. Curry pointed toward the cave, covered over by brush, his voice soft " There's a cave over there to the left of that rock that has the bush growing out of it.

Johnny nodded. "Is there another way in?"

"Yeah, it's this way."

Tying their horses out of sight, they walked to where Curry led, the way t o a second hidden opening. Slowly, and quietly the four men entered the cave from the back. The kid hoped the men in there, didn't know about this exit. They walked quietly down the narrow tunnel. Few minutes later it opened into a big opening. Bats hung from the top of the cave and on the floor. Knowing the slightest sound echoes loudly, and would reveal their unwelcome visit. Into the big chamber they went. Spreading out, as they did so. There were several smaller areas off to the sides, smaller caves. Voices came from two of them. Two men sat by a fire in the middle of the large chamber. Cooking something. Horses sounded off from the back. Shadows danced on the walls, from the light of the fire, and the little light from outside.

The cracking sound of the stick Heyes stepped on was loud. The two men moved, as did the men from elsewhere. A dozen men were there. Moving and firing. The four began a gun battle, that only two seemed pleased by. Both were driven by the fire of their anger.

One, a heavy set, slightly balding man, he went to his left, firing. His bullets bounced off the walls, sending small pieces of rock flying. Heyes shot at him and missed. He felt a sting in his right shoulder. Damn, he thought, that arm sure is getting it lately, he fired again, and hit the man through the thigh. Well at least he had him. Using his left hand.

Curry faced two head on. His eyes light blue fire. He looked them right in the eye. No fear, nothing but the knowledge that he would destroy those he faced. The men looked at him, feeling fear of the young man in front of them. Both split up, suddenly, firing at the same time. Curry didn't bat an eye. He rapidly fired in the blink of an eye. Took the one on the left, and before he fell, he twirled around on his heel, catching the one on the right. Both held the same bullet wounds. Straight through the left eye.

The constant booming sound of the guns ringing off the wall, had made it so no one could hear anything else. Flashes of light from the firing they could see, but barely hear any more. Johnny caught three of them going out the entrance. He followed. Outside the light blinded him and them for a moment, all three turned to face him.

One around twenty turned to him and smiled, holding up his hand. "Hold it a second. I know you. I've seen you before. You're Johnny Madrid. I think you are getting slow. I think I could take you." He smiled, and put his gun back in his holster.

"Why is it you kids always looking for a pine box, and an unmarked grave on boot hill?" His voice soft, yet icy.

"Why, I have killed three men already, in gunfights. But you, well I will be well known, all will talk about Billy Kincade."

"Only your parents, boy. As they look at your grave."

The boy thought Johnny wasn't ready, and he would get the drop on him. He drew, and already Johnny had drawn and fired. He struck the boy through the heart. His blood pumping through the hole with the few beats of his heart left, till it stopped, he fell. The other two drew, Johnny calm, smiled. He feathered the hammer with his hand. He struck the taller man in the stomach, and the other through the neck. Johnny Madrid the gunfighter, was back briefly. With the blood lust of old. He reentered the cave.

Curry looked over at him, from where he stood. The man of few words who spoke volumes with a gun, glanced at Johnny who had reloaded. Both men turned as one. Walking together, shoulder to shoulder. They advanced on the rest of the outlaws, bullets whizzed by them. Men firing in a rush, afraid of the two apparently crazy men coming at them, straight on. Both guns fired. One outlaw fell, two bullets straight through the kneecaps. The outlaw screamed, falling. Crippled for life. Another fell to a bullet through his ear. He fell on another man, who as he fell, started shooting at the two gunfighters. He struck Curry on the upper arm. Curry didn't even glance at it. Didn’t seem to know; test it. One young outlaw no more than fourteen, he had two guns. He started firing. His eyes wild with fear. Until a bullet ended that fear. A neat little hole in his forehead. Two more went down under the blazing gunfire. Soon the echoes died down. Strong smell of gunpowder in the air, Stinging the nose. Only four men left standing. The good guys. They moved to the middle of the cave.

"None of them would give up," said Scott.

"For once I'm glad they didn't," said his brother, who still was fired up. Ready. This wasn't his brother, but Johnny Madrid.

Heyes and Curry looked at each other, then the two brothers. "Well, I guess we can now gather up the money and return to town," replied Heyes.

"Yeah, Joshua, looks like you need to see the doctor again."

Heyes looked down at his arm. Then at his cousin. "So do you, Thaddeus.”

Johnny was quiet for a moment, Heyes knew the look, aimed at him. His grinned never faded, yet his eyes narrowed. He thought he knew something about them. Curry, knew it, too. Heyes waited. "I want to thank you for getting me out of that safe. To also say, your secret is safe with me."

Heyes smiled brighter. "Now, what secret is that?"

He looked at Curry. He looked pointedly at his gun. "That you’re Kid Curry. That Joshua is really Hannibal Heyes. Doesn't matter to me, but if you ever need me, you just call." The two former outlaws exchanged looks for a moment. The kid fingered his gun handle Johnny saw it. "I gave you my word that I wouldn't turn you in. If that's not good enough. We can do it our way." Johnny touched his gun. "Johnny Madrid’s word is good."

Curry seemed surprised. Now he knew who he faced. Heyes looked worried. He looked to Curry, shook his head, no. He saw that look on his cousins face, and knew he was thinking about how much a risk this was, and if he should get rid of that said risk.

Curry turned back to Johnny. They stared at each other for two minutes. Then Curry moved his hand away, and relaxed. "It's good with me. Friends should be able to trust each other. Shouldn't they?"

"Yeah they should, friend." Said Johnny as he took Curry’s hand. Shaking with his fellow gunslinger. The other two men took a deep breath, and looked at each other relief in their eyes. The last thing they wanted to see was a showdown between those two.

The next morning found the four men riding together. The two former outlaws were on their way to the Lancer ranch. A little work. A chance to build a friendship.

 

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