DISCLAIMER: The M7 characters do not belong to me. They belong to John Watson and all of his crew. All other characters are original figments of my imagination and therefore are mine.

RATING: NC - 17. Violence, and there will be smut I promise, just have to wait for it.


SUMMARY: Buck's past brings a whirlwind to Four corners.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: There are several flashback scenes set off by italics.

by Renee

Chapter 1

JD sat by Josiah in the saloon and sighed loudly. Josiah looked over at him and raised an eyebrow, "Something botherin' you?"

"Buck's being awfully moody today."

"Well son, we all have our days when our memories get the best of us."

"I guess. He was going for a ride and I asked if I could go along and he said no. Buck's never told me no before."

"There are some things a man has to do alone."

"Yeah, that's what I thought. I've never seen him so angry Josiah. I was just teasing him."

Josiah put a hand on JD's shoulders, "We all have our own ghosts to fight JD, even Buck."

"I want to help."

"Then just sit tight son. Sit tight until he need you."

"But how."

"You'll know son, you'll know."

JD sighed and took a swig of beer from the mug in front of him as he watched the window, waiting for Buck to get back to town.

"Buck! Don't you dare! Buck Wilmington!"

Buck laughed as he caught a hold of the tiny waist and rolled, bringing her down with him. As they came to a stop at the bottom of the hill he was above her. He gazed down into laughing chestnut brown eyes as he stroked the softness of her rosy cheeks. He could smell the lilacs in the air as bluebirds sang around him. He leaned down gently to kiss her tender, sweet lips as her delicate hands wrapped gently around his neck.

Buck opened his eyes and looked down at the flowering valley below him. "I miss you Caroline. Wherever you might be, you're always in my heart." With that Buck turned his gray around and headed slowly back to town.

Caitlin sat on a log by the river, an open chest sitting next to her. She was so engulfed in the letter that she held in her hands, she didn't hear the tall figure approaching behind her.

Stephen rested a hand on his sister's shoulder. Caitlin gasped and jumped, turning around. "Steve, you scared me."

Stephen sat down next to her on the log. "You know sis, those letters are gonna fall apart if you keep readin' them like you do."

Caitlin sighed, "I know. I can't help it though. It's all I have left of her, and all I'll ever know about him. They're so beautiful. I wish I could find someone who could love me this much."

Stephen wrapped an arm around his sister's shoulder and hugged her tight, "You will. One day."

Caitlin turned her bright blue eyes to her brother's brown ones. "Do you think I could ever find him Stephen?"

Stephen smiled, "Anything's possible bluebird, anything at all."

Caitlin rested her head on her brother's shoulder, sighing as the night slowly started to settle in the sky. She closed her eyes and sighed as she heard the dark, foreboding voice calling them. "Do you really think this is the last time Stephen?"

Stephen sighed, "I hope so. It's getting dangerous; people are catching on."

"I don't like what we're doing."

"We've got no choice bluebird. Just play by his rules, and we'll all be fine. You'll see. Everything's going to be just fine. Now, come on before he gets angry."

Caitlin nodded and stood up, moving with Stephen back to their little camp.

Chris walked into the saloon with Judge Travis and headed to a back table where Nathan, Josiah and JD sat. He glanced over catching Ezra and Vin's attention and motioning over to where the others were. He looked at JD as he stopped, "Where's Buck?"

JD shook his head, "I don't know."

Chris sighed, "Damn it. I need everyone here."

Vin's soft voice came from over Chris's shoulder, "He rode out of town earlier this afternoon. Imagine he'll be back soon, he didn't bring any supplies."

Chris grumbled, "Last thing I need to worry about is sending a party out after a missing man."

"Who's missing Pard?" Buck's deep voice came from behind Chris. The others turned and nodded.

"Where you been?" Chris looked at Buck's eyes, recognizing a pain in them he rarely saw.

"Taking care of business. Visiting an old friend. What's going on?"

Chris looked around at the men sitting around him. His eyes darkened as he leaned forward resting his hands on the table, "Trouble's heading this way."

Chapter 2

Chris watched Buck drowning himself in a bottle of whiskey in a dark corner of the saloon. His eyes scanned the bar nonchalantly. JD looked like a lost puppy as he kept turning to glance at Buck to check on him. Ezra was becoming annoyed with JD's lack of concentration in the present card game. He watched Molly come down the stairs and walk over to Buck, gently sliding her arms around Buck's neck and kissing him gently on his cheek.

Buck kissed Molly's hands and then pushed her hands away. "Not tonight Darlin'"

"You feeling all right Buck?" Molly brushed the back of her hand against his forehead.

"Not in the mood for company tonight Molly."

"Now Buck, I know something's wrong. You're always in the mood for my company."

Buck stood up and squeezed her hand gently. "Not tonight Darlin'. Excuse me."

Molly watched as Buck headed for the saloon doors. She made her way over to Chris and nodded in Buck's direction. "What's eating him?"

Chris didn't look up at her. He just watched as the batwing doors swung back and forth from Buck's exit. "Memories Molly. They haunt us all sometimes."

Buck walked slowly to his room, looking up at the clear night sky. Laughter and music from a distant time rang in his ears.

"Howdy Buck, having a good time."

"Yeah Pard. Who's that little filly over there"

"The one in blue?"

"Yeah that one."

"Unfortunately, she's off limits. Boss's daughter, Caroline."

"Caroline." Buck watched the bright eyed girl from across the room. Her laughter seemed to fill the room, pulling him to her. Her dark chestnut curls bounced as her partner swung her in a circle during their dance. Her tiny waist was accentuated by the blue dress she wore. As the music ended she laughed again and curtsied to her partner. Her cheeks were rosy from the dance and her smile warmed Buck's heart.

Caroline loved dances. She always did, the music, the laughter and the fun. She smiled at her partner as the dance was over. Caroline turned around the room to look for her friends. As she turned she caught sight of the new ranch hand and her breath caught. She watched him from across the crowded room. She felt something pulling her to him and she slowly started to cross the room. She didn't know his name. Her father had hired him the night before and she very rarely met the ranch hands, except for Old Hank, none of them looked in her direction more than once. Her father was too protective. She studied him as she slowly approached him. Even though he was young, he was broad and tall. He wasn't lean, but he wasn't stocky either. His dark hair was thick on his head. The thing that caught her attention though were his eyes. They were bright blue and the sparkled with his laugh, a laugh that seemed to fill her with warmth and put her at ease. His smile added to his eyes brightness and before she knew it Caroline stood before him. "You're my father's new ranch hand."

Buck looked at the petite figure before him. Her alabaster skin was so smooth, that it was almost perfect. He wondered if it would feel as smooth and soft as it looked. He imagined it would be like silk against his rough fingers, the finest silk in the world. Buck could almost swear that his hands would completely encircle her waist she was so tiny. Her smile was so gentle and warm. Buck smiled, "Yes ma'am Buck Wilmington at your service."

Caroline held out her hand to him. "Nice to meet you Mr. Wilmington."

Buck took her delicate fingers in his. "My pleasure." He leaned down and brought her hand to his lips, kissing her hand gently.

Caitlin stared at the fire, watching the embers float into the sky. Stephen rested a hand on her shoulder. "Bluebird, you gonna be able to do this?"

"I've done it before Stephen."

"Not like this. We've never started out like this."

"I'll be okay Stephen. We have to do this one differently. They have to think that you all went another way. This is the only way."

"I don't know if I can do this Bluebird. I don't think I can."

Caroline looked at her brother. She brushed a dark brown lock of hair out of his eyes, and looked into his eyes. "I trust you. You above all of them. If you don't do it, he will. I don't trust him Stephen. Please."

Stephen nodded, sitting by her, his broad shoulders slumped in defeat. "You're right. I wish there was another way."

"There isn't." Caitlin sighed and looked into the fire. "Not for us."

Chapter 3

Josiah looked down the street of Four Corners and then glanced at his watch. He stood up, stretched and then headed for the saloon. He walked to a back table and sat down. He reached for a glass and poured himself a shot of whiskey. Chris looked up at Josiah, "'Siah."



"Stage is an hour late."

"Damn. Round up the others, I'll telegraph the Judge."

Josiah nodded, standing back up and quietly heading out the door of the saloon.

Caitlin looked around at the few bodies and possessions that littered the ground. She watched Roger and Junior mix some of her possessions in with the others scattered about. Stephen carried over her mother's chest and laid it inside the coach that now lay on its side. "You gonna be okay bluebird?"

"I'm doing pretty good so far, the only survivor of a tragic stage robbery. I guess it's about that time huh?"

"Yeah. The stage was due in town an hour ago. They most likely have a posse headed this way now."

Caitlin nodded. She lay a hand on her brother's shoulder seeing his hesitation "You're the best shot out of all of us."

"I still don't like it."

"I trust you."

Stephen hugged his little sister to him. "Be careful you hear."

Caitlin nodded. She gasped as someone grabbed her arm roughly and spun her around. "It's time."

Caitlin looked into the cold dark eyes of her so called father. He had never bothered himself with Caitlin when she was a child. She nodded to him, "I'm ready."

"Then get over by that stage girl."

Caitlin's other brothers came over to wish her luck. Her brothers had always looked after her, although there was one person whom they would never stand up to, their father. Caitlin told them all to be careful and then went over by the front of the stage. She turned and looked up at Stephen. She could see the fear in his eye as he raised his gun. She nodded to him and shut her eyes so she could sty completely still. Stephen took a deep breath and pulled back the trigger. Caitlin heard the shot and then felt a sharp burning sensation. She opened her eyes, but blackness had set in. She never felt her body hit the ground.

Stephen watched his sister fall to the ground. He lowered the gun, his arm limp by his side. He felt someone hit him hard on his back and he shifted forward, catching himself. "Nice shot son. Now, let's go."

"Did I."

"Kill her? Who knows, we'll find out. If you did, one less person we have to worry about taking care of. Now come one son."

Stephen watched his sister closely looking for some sign, but she was completely still. He closed his eyes and prayed he hadn't harmed her more than he'd been forced to.

"Buck, you still mad at me?"

Buck looked over at JD, "What son?"

"Are you still mad at me? I didn't mean anything the other day."

Buck signed and shifted his horse closer to JD's, "JD son. I was mad for about five seconds. I know you didn't mean anything by it. Just something weighing heavily on my mind that day."

JD was about to say more when a shot rang out. Immediately the seven men took off in a gallop in the direction the shot came from.

Caitlin could hear strange voices around her. She slowly became aware of her surroundings, her eyes fluttering opened. The last thing she remembered was Stephen and then a gunshot. She shifted, and realized that was a mistake. Her head was pounding, the world spinning around her as she opened her eyes.

Buck heard a groan and looked over and saw a young woman trying to sit up. "Nathan!" Buck ran over to help the woman.

When Caitlin heard him, she screamed, and scrambled to get up, only falling down in a dizzy spell. She scooted back as she heard people approaching. "No! Please. Don't hurt me."

Nathan stepped forward and gently leaned down closer. "Easy there. We're friends. We just want to help."

Caitlin watched the man with the gentle brown eyes, still hesitant to trust him.

"I'm Nathan. Can I take a look at your head? You have a nasty cut there."

Caitlin nodded hesitantly, her eyes darting back and forth nervously. She studied the men around her. Her eyes drifted from a man who resembled a bear to a young man who couldn't be much older than her. Her eyes fell across a man who was dressed like a buffalo hunter. He stood next to an extraordinarily well dressed man who seemed slightly out of place with the others. She recognized his type though. She'd seen enough of them on the riverboats near her home. Finally she let her eyes drift to the last two men. One was dressed all in black, he had a dark hard expression to his face. The other she couldn't see, his back was to her. He was broad shouldered with thick dark hair. Something in her longed to see his face, but the man in front of her was trying to get her attention. Caitlin looked at him.

"What's your name?"


"Well Caitlin. We're gonna bring you to town and get you fixed up. We'll need you to tell us what happened when you're ready."

Buck stood next to Chris, looking at the 3 men ready for burial. Josiah and Ezra were gathering the scattered luggage and piling it up to bring it back to town. Vin and JD had headed back for a wagon. Buck signed, "Well, we've got a witness."

"Maybe. We'll see what she tells us."

"Poor thing. She's scared out of her wits."

"Understandably. Best we can do is to find these men and deal with them before they hurt anyone else."

Buck turned to look at the girl. He got a good look at her face, as she listened intently to Nathan's instructions. Buck narrowed his eyes, his breath catching in his throat. He whispered, not realizing he was even speaking, "Caroline?"

Chris looked at Buck. His friend had visibly paled, and his eyes looked almost devastated. "You okay Buck?"

"She looks like someone I know."

Chris looked at the young woman. There was something familiar in her eyes, but Chris couldn't place it. He looked up and Buck was gone.

Buck slowly walked over to Caitlin. Caitlin noticed the man approaching and looked up at him. Her eyes widened as she looked at him slightly confused. Her fingers moved to a locket at her neck.

Nathan stood up as he saw Buck. "Buck Wilmington, this is Caitlin Del." Nathan's voice drifted off as he noticed the dazed expressions between Buck and Caitlin.

Caitlin finally found her voice as she looked up into a pair of familiar blue eyes, her own eyes. "Daddy?"

Chapter 4

Buck sat at the side of the bed and stroked the soft dark curls. Father. the word still echoed in Buck's mind. Chris had stared at him in disbelief when he couldn't refute it. All Buck could do was stare back at his own eyes framed in the face of his beloved Caroline.

"Are you sure about this Caroline?"

"I love you." Caroline stared into the depths of her lover's passionate blue eyes. The eyes that always twinkled with laughter now held the raw intensity of desire. She ran her hands over the rippling muscles of his chest, over his broad shoulders. She wrapped a hand around the back of his neck and gently pulled him to her. A sigh escaped her lips as she felt the warmth of his lips against hers.

Buck let his tongue slide into her mouth seeking to taste the sweetness of her kiss. His tongue engaged hers, entangling as their bodies soon would. Buck ran his hands over her bare shoulders and down her arms. His fingers entangled with hers as he raised her hands over her head. His kiss left her mouth and he started to slowly trace soft kisses over her neck.

Caroline sighed, arching her neck into his kisses. A warm tingling flowed through her as his lips traced a past down her neck and across her shoulder blades. Her fingers tightened around his squeezing them as his tongue flickered over one of her bared nipples. She felt it tighten, her eyes widening.

Buck watched her squirm under him. He leaned down and flickered his tongue over the now taut nipple again. He watched as she squirmed against his teasing ministrations once again. He looked at her and could see the pleading, the desire for more in her deep brown eyes. Buck leaned down and covered her nipple with his lips, sucking gently. He nipped it gently with his teeth, not to hurt but to please.

Caroline gasped as he finally yielded and stopped teasing her. She could feel the heat of passion growing inside of her. She felt a warm wetness spreading through her as he moved from one breast to the other. She groaned as he slid away from the pleasure he was showing to her. She felt his kisses tracing across the flat valley of her stomach. She shivered with anticipation as his hands slid over her thighs, his fingers lightly caressing the sensitive skin.

Buck slid up Caroline's body slowly, watching her eyes. He nipped at her ears and her neck. "You're sure?"

Caroline slid her hand down his back and gripped his firm buttocks, pulling his hips to hers. "I'm sure love. Please."

Buck kissed her nervously. He'd never been with a woman before. He'd been raised in a brothel and had learned from the women there the proper way to pleasure a woman, yet he'd never actually done it. Caroline could see the hesitation in his eyes. "Buck, love, we'll learn together."

Buck slid his hand between her thighs and felt the warm wetness that came from within her. He eased himself between her thighs and positioned the head of his shaft at her entrance. Slowly he started to push his way in to her.

Caroline gasped gripping his shoulders and digging her nails into him as she felt her self stretch to accommodate her. With short gentle thrusts she felt him enter her gradually. She looked up at him as he stopped. He caressed her cheek and she knew what was coming. Her nanny had told her of the difficult road to pleasure and she knew it had to be done.

Buck looked down in to her eyes waiting until she was ready for the pain that would come with his complete entrance. Buck was already in bliss. Her warm tunnel was tight against the rigidty of his flesh. He felt as if he'd been wrapped in heaven's arms. As she nodded to him, Buck gently withdrew until just the head of his shaft remained in her. He leaned down to kiss her as he quickly and powerfully thrust into her. He felt the barrier inside of her break and he caught her cries in his mouth.

Caroline felt Buck kiss the tears from her cheeks. The pain had come quickly, but it had already begun to dissipate as her muscles adjusted to the fullness that she felt. Caroline groaned and ran her nails lightly down Buck's back. As she squeezed his butt she rocked her hips towards him wanting to feel more. She felt Buck's kisses at her neck as he recognized her permissive motions and started to slowly thrust in and out of her. Slowly a coil started to wind tight low in her stomach.

Buck slowly increased his thrusts as he felt his balls filling and threatening to overflow. He pulled Caroline closer to him, taking her legs in her hands and wrapping them around his waist. Her hips rocked upward and Buck sighed as he felt himself reaching even further inside of her. He felt the head of his shaft hit the bottom of her womb and that cause even more excitement in him. Caroline's hips thrust up to meet his, matching his speed and tempo. Her muscles gripped at him pulling him deeper into her. Buck had never imagined that so much pleasure was even imaginable.

Caroline felt Buck's shaft hit something inside of her and the coil that was wound so tightly exploded. Caroline dug her nails into him as she cried out his name. The most intense pleasure exploded inside of her working its way up and down her spine. Her inner muscles clenched tightly around Buck so that she could feel every detail of his shaft deep inside of her. Her body shivered uncontrollably as wave after wave coursed through her body. Her desire filled, dazed expression met Buck's as he started to thrust even faster. He pistoned in and out of her at a rapid pace and Caroline could feel herself approaching the brink of pleasure again.

Buck groaned as he felt her muscles clenching around him. He held her to him as she reached her climax. He took her legs and pushed her knees into her chest so that he controlled it all. He thrust faster and deeper feeling his own need at the edge of the cliff. He wanted to go over, but he wanted to go over with her. Buck's body stiffened and he felt himself explode inside of her. As he shot his sperm deep inside of her, he felt her tighten around him once again.

Caroline could feel Buck's seed shoot deep into her womb and she shivered in his arms. The waves of pleasure seemed that they would never end. She felt Buck's hardness growing soft as he rested his flushed forehead on her shoulder. Caroline ran a hand up his back, stroking her fingers gently through his hair as they held onto each other in the aftermath of pleasure. "I love you Buck Wilmington."

Buck leaned up and looked down at her, stroking her cheek. "I love you and always will Caroline."

Buck looked up as he heard the bed shift. He'd been so lost in his memories he hadn't noticed that Caitlin had woken up. He smiled at the eyes that watched him with curiosity. He reached to brush her hair from her cheek, "Hey there. How ya feeling?"

Caitlin shifted up in the bed and looked at the man that she'd never imagined she'd be meeting. "Okay. Bit of a headache, but nothing more."

Buck nodded and reached for a cup that sat on the nightstand. "Here, Nathan said this would help with that."

Caitlin drank as she looked at her father. "Where's my chest?"

"Chest?" Buck asked unsure as to what she was talking about.

"It's made of rosewood and has some carvings in it. It should have been inside the stage."

"I'll see if the others have it. All the luggage and items from the stage are at the sheriff's office right now. We can sort through and get what's your later. Right now you need rest young lady."

"Yes." Caitlin hesitated, her hand covering his as she looked up at him, "Papa."

Buck looked at her hand and then in her eyes. He leaned forward, gently easing her back down on the pillows. "I'll see what I can find." With that, he smoothed her hair and kissed her forehead. "Now rest little one."

Caitlin sighed watching him and then smiled as he leaned back waiting for her to drift off again. She wanted to talk to him, to find out more about him to tell him more about her, yet she was so tired. Her eyes fluttered and she fell asleep thinking of everything she wanted to ask him and everything she wanted to tell him about her. She was happy for once; she'd found her father.

Stephen hated waiting. He hated not knowing what was happening to Caitlin. He hated not knowing how badly he'd hurt her. Stephen watched the fire before him listlessly as he waited for word. He turned round and stood as he heard Roger's horse approaching camp. He walked over, watching his father discuss something with his eldest brother. As his father turned, the campfire lit up his face, evilly distorting his features. "Well boys, we're in."

Chapter 5

Chris crossed the street from the general store to the saloon. He'd just telegraphed the judge, whom he hoped would get to town with in the next 48 hours. He glanced over at Nathan's clinic, stopped and changed direction. For the past 2 days he'd seen neither head nor hide of Buck Wilmington. He'd been at Nathan's clinic sitting with a young woman who'd been witness to the last stage robbery. She was claiming to be Buck's daughter and Chris was surprised that his old friend was so willing to believe her. Chris took the steps leading to Nathan's clinic two at a time until he reached the top. "Buck."

Buck looked up from the letter he was absorbed in and nodded to Chris. "Chris."

"You still believe her."

"She's not lying."

"Buck, how can you."

"I just know Chris. I can't explain it, but I know. Call it father's instinct."

Chris sighed as he sat down on the steps next to Buck and looked at a small chest that was sitting next to him. "What's that?"

"My past. A part of it I wish I could have changed."

Chris raised a brow as he looked at Buck. Buck sighed knowing he wouldn't get out of this easily. "It's a long story Chris."

"I got time."

Buck looked at the letters and smiled, "She was my first love."

"Buck, I've heard this story from you." Chris stopped as Buck shot him a look.

"No Chris. This is real, not just a story. Through each other we learned what true love was supposed to feel like, not just what we wanted to believe it was."

"She must have been something else then, to hold you down to one woman."

Buck sighed, a slight smile on his lips. "I could never look at another woman while she was in my life. I didn't want to. There was no need."

Chris nodded, "So what happened?"

"I wasn't up to par according to her daddy. I wasn't good enough, so he had me beat and run out of town."

Chris watched as Buck's eyes took on a hazy look of remembrance.

"You come near my daughter again, and I'll hang you."

"Daddy!" Caroline tried to run to Buck. Tears feel down her cheeks as she watched Buck struggling to his feet. His left eye was already swollen shut and blood ran down the side of his face from a cut on his forehead. He gingerly wrapped an arm around his waist as he tried to take a step to her.

"Please sir, we love each other."

"You can't possibly understand the meaning of love." The older man snarled at Buck as two ranch hands stepped forward blocking Buck's past. "You could never be good enough for my little girl."

"Daddy, please! We do love each other, that's enough."

"The so called love you talk about is never enough Caroline. Not for you, my little girl. You'll need a man who can take care of you properly." With that the older man shoved his daughter into the waiting arms of one of her older brothers. "Get her inside. I'll deal with her later."

Buck screamed to her as he watched them dragging her away. "I love you Caroline! Always know that. We'll be together somehow, one day!"

Caroline's father walked up to Buck and struck him hard across the face. "You step foot in this territory again and I will hang you. Understood?"

Caroline struggled and finally broke free form her brother's grasp. She broke past her father and ran into Buck's arms. "I love you Buck. I always will. I'll never love another." Caroline leaned up and kissed him before they could drag her away again.

Buck watched, helpless. He held onto her hand, stretching their fingers so that they were touching until she was too far away and they could not longer feel each other. Tears were in his eyes, but he kept them from falling as he looked back at her father. "You can send me to the far corners of the world, but no matter how far it'll never be enough. You can't make us stop loving each other."

Caroline's father stared hard at Buck and nodded to his two ranch hands. "Ride him out of town and make sure he rides on and doesn't circle back." Buck fought the two men as they threw him on his horse, tying his hands to the saddle. He would be back. He would come back and take Caroline away with him. Buck set his jaw in defiance, waiting for the right time.

Chris watched Buck. He was startled as tears ran down Buck's cheeks. In all his time knowing Buck he couldn't' remember ever seeing Buck cry. He started to remember the first time he'd run into Buck. The filthy kid who came onto the ranch swearing he could pull his own weight. He was nothing but skin and bones, covered in bruises that looked to be a week old or more. They'd given him a chance and he'd proven himself. In all the time Chris had known Buck, he'd never heard how Buck had really gotten those bruises. Chris had just assumed they were form the typical trouble a young man gets into, maybe a bar fight. Chris now had his answer. "And you never saw her again?"

Buck shook his head, wiping the tears from his cheeks. "We tried, but we could never find a way." Buck reached around him and pulled the chest closer. "Some of these letters were written after that night her father sent me away. Her father eventually found out about them and put a stop to that too."

Chris put a hand on Buck's shoulder and looked into the deep blue eyes of his friend. "She's really your little girl?

"Caroline had brown eyes. The man she was forced to marry, Victor, he had brown eyes too."

Chris shook his head, "Buck that ain't enough proof."

Buck handed him a letter. "Caroline wrote this to me before she was married. She knew she was pregnant. She told Caitlin everything and she gave her this letter in case Caitlin ever found me."

Chris looked at the piece of paper with a delicate handwriting covering it. "The letter tells you everything?"

Buck nodded, "Caitlin's father knows that she's not his child. She was born to early and her eyes give her away. Also Caroline tended to dote on Caitlin more than the others which didn't help any."

Chris nodded, "Well she gonna be staying?"

"I reckon'."

Chris grinned, "Hell Buck, one Wilmington in this town was enough."

For the first time in the last few days Chris heard Buck chuckle and that in itself was enough for Chris. If Buck believed this was his daughter, then that was enough fro him and it would be enough for anyone else who asked.

Chapter 6

Caitlin stood up and looked at the window. The night sky had turned pitch black, but Caitlin couldn't sleep. She looked over at the slumbering form of her father. She had waited until she could hear the soft snoring that accompanied his deep sleep before starting to move about. She searched for her shoes and pulled them on, then grabbed Buck's jacket before sneaking out the door. She knew that she only had a couple of hours before Nathan would be back in to check on them, so she hurried out and snuck down the stairs.

Stephen waited in the alley for his sister pacing. The family had agreed on this to be their meeting place. At night, the stores surrounding the alley were closed, and it was far enough away from the saloon, that no one would pass by unexpectedly. He heard a bird call and looked over and answered it back. A figure stepped into the alley and moved towards him. Stephen smiled, "Bluebird."

Caitlin hugged her brother tight, relieved and happy to see that their father had sent him and not one of the others. "Stephen, I'm so glad to see you. Are you okay?"

Stephen pushed her hair back, looking at the small cut that was almost healed. "I should ask you that. I could have killed you."

"You didn't."

"I might have."

"Let's not talk about that now. Stephen, he's here."

"Who's here Bluebird?"

"My father."

"Yeah, I know. He's fuming right now. Wants information and fast."

"No Stephen, my real father. He's here. He's just like momma described him to me, just like in the picture in her locket."

"What are you going to do Bluebird?"

"I don't know Stephen. He's a lawman in this town."

"Bluebird, this could get messy."

"I know, but I'm not ready to leave him yet. I've just met him and I want to know more about him. I want to know more about him and mama."

Stephen sighed and stroked her cheek. "Is there anything you can give us now? I'll cover until you're done with your father, but you know he won't wait long."

"I know, just please Stephen, stall him as much as you can."

Stephen sighed, "I will Bluebird. What do you know so far?"

"They're expecting something. Here's a layout of the town." Caitlin handed him a map. "There are seven lawmen protecting the town. The territorial judge's daughter in law is also here. She runs the local newspaper. Other than that I haven't been able to learn anything else. Hopefully in the next couple of days I can get a job at the bank and see what else there is to learn."

Stephen nodded and kissed her cheek. "This'll pacify him for now. Be careful Bluebird."

Caitlin nodded, "You too." She watched as Stephen crept out the back of the alley and relaxed as she heard his horse gallop away. Caitlin slowly headed out of the alley and crept in the shadows down the street. She was almost back to the clinic when she heard a voice. "Who are you and what are you doing out here?"

Caitlin turned slowly recognizing the voice as belonging to the sheriff. The young man that always seemed to be worrying about her father. "Mr. Dunne?"

JD slowly lowered his gun. "Ma'am. I'm sorry, I thought you might have been someone looking to cause trouble."

"No. Just me."

"Umm, what are you doing out of the clinic alone ma'am?"

"I just needed some fresh air."

JD looked at her suspiciously, "At 10 at night?"

"I couldn't sleep. I thought the fresh air would help."

"But couldn't you have stayed on the porch at the clinic?"

"Mr. Dunne please, not so many questions, you're making my head spin."

"Just JD ma'am, and I'm sorry. Here, sit down and I'll help you back to the clinic when you're feeling a bit better."

"I think I'll just go back now."

JD nodded, "I'll walk you there ma'am."

"You can call me Caitlin you know."

"You sure?"


JD nodded, "Yes ma'am. umm.. I mean Caitlin."

Caitlin smiled, "JD, you're close to my father aren't you."

JD looked at her and nodded, "Yeah, you could say that."

Caitlin nodded, "Tell me about him."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean tell me what you know about him. What you like and dislike."

"Well, I mean, he's overprotective and overbearing sometimes. At the same time, he's my best friend."

Caitlin smiled, watching him as he talked about her father. She hadn't noticed him so much before when he'd come to sit with Buck and talk. Now however as she watched him in the flickering light of the street lamp she had to smile. His dark brown hair gently offset his still childish features, yet there was an adult masculinity to him set in his broad rounded shoulders and his gentle brown eyes. She couldn't place it, but it was a cross between innocence and the devil and neither side had control anymore.

JD looked over at her and smiled. "Why'd you ask?"

Caitlin looked, "Pardon?"

"Why'd you ask my opinion of your father?"

"I want to know everything about him. Mama used to tell me stories about him all the time and I miss that. I want to hear more about him from his friends. Friends are a true tell of a person."

"Well, don't believe all the rumors you may hear about him. If I had to pick just one person to fight all of hell with, I'd pick him."

JD smiled as she smiled at him. She had the light of Buck's eyes, but there was something mysteriously beautiful about her pale skin and the dark coloring of her hair that offset it. JD couldn't remember having seen anyone as intoxicatingly beautiful as her. He wondered for a brief moment what Buck would have to say if JD asked her on an outing. He smiled at her and then jumped as someone approached.

"What are you doing out of bed ma'am?

Caitlin jumped, as did JD. "Mr. Jackson. I couldn't sleep. I was on the balcony and saw Mr. Dunne so I came down to talk to him."

Nathan shook his head, "Well, you can talk later, you need rest. Now come along before Buck wakes up and starts a panicked search for you."

Caitlin nodded reluctantly and stood up, taking JD's hand and shaking it, holding it longer than she needed to. "Thank you Mr. Dunne for your company."

JD just nodded dumbfounded and then watched her walk away, his heart still fluttering about in his chest as he remembered the smiling light eye and the soft gentle touch of her skin on his.

Chapter 7

Chris strolled into the jailhouse and nodded to Vin. Vin looked up at Chris, his feet on the desk in front of him, slouched down in the chair behind the desk. "Judge sent word that he'd be in town the day after tomorrow."

Chris sat on the edge of the desk removing his hat. "Any clues as to this gang?"

"No. They've vanished. They're tracks just end with no sign of picking up anywhere. Whoever they are, they're good."

"Anyone talk to Caitlin yet?"

"And risk encountering Buck? He's worse with her than he is with JD. I think JD's even a bit jealous."

Chris chuckled knowing how stubborn Buck could get about caring for someone. "I'll talk to her tomorrow. Nathan let her leave the clinic today and I think Buck is helping her get settled in and find a job."

Vin nodded, "Good luck to you. Just remember, Buck has a mean right hook."

Chris put his hat back on his head as he stood up. "Will remember that one. Be back in a bit."

Caitlin adjusted the pin curls in her hair as she looked in the mirror. She stood back and studied herself in the new blue dress. Her others had been torn and muddied from the stage adventure. She turned and studied her profile and smiled in approval. Her cheeks had their color again, and she'd arranged her hair to hide the small cut on her temple. She stepped out and smiled, turning in a small circle, just like a little girl. "Well daddy? Do you like it?"

Buck's big blue eyes smiled. She reminded him so much of his Caroline. He could still hear Caroline's whispers and feel the soft caresses of her touch. He started humming a soft tune that an old man had taught him the first time he'd gotten drunk on whiskey. He never understood why a man would sing a song so seemingly sad, until now.

Buck held onto Caroline for dear life. He looked out the window at the slowly lightening sky. He kissed her temple softly as she lay gently in his arms. He hummed the tune softly and Caroline softly whispered the words, her grandmother had taught them to her when she was a girl. "O fare you well I must be gone and leave you for a while."

Buck looked at her and ran a finger down her cheek, lifting her chin so he could look at her, "But wherever I go, I will return, if I go ten thousand mile my dear."

Caroline gently caressed his lips with hers as she sang the last bit, ". if I go ten thousand mile."

Buck pulled her close as he gently rolled her to her back, his tongue gently entwining with hers, savoring the sweet taste of her mouth.

Caitlin looked at her father and walked over, gently laying a hand on his cheek. "Daddy?"

Buck jumped a bit almost as if startled. He looked up into Caitlin's blue eyes and smiled. "You're beautiful. The spittin' image of your mother."

Caitlin blushed. "Daddy, I got everything I need. Are you ready to go? I wanted to go to the bank and inquire about a position."

Buck looked at her, "At the bank?"

"Yes, I've worked at banks before. Mama taught me all my schooling, and I always excelled at numbers."

"Well, I don't know if they'll take you, but we can sure find out. Come on darling." Buck wrapped his arm around her waist and led her out the door towards the end of the street where the bank was situated.

"You sure you wouldn't rather work for the general store, or the hotel?"

"No Daddy. I want to do this. It's what I know, and well, I'm sure it'll work out okay."

"I know. I'm just worried. We've been worried in town because of word that some bank robbers might be headed this way. I don't want to risk losing you again."

"Everything will be fine daddy. Besides, I could be anywhere and something could happen. All that's important is I'm here now, with you."

Buck nodded. "If you're sure." Buck held the door open for her and watched as she walked in and headed over for the head clerk's desk.

The head clerk nodded to Buck and then regarded the new woman with curiosity. "May I be of some assistance madam?"

"Yes, I'm here to apply for a position."

"A position madam?"

"Yes, I'd like a position as a clerk in your bank."

"I'm afraid that's impossible."


"Well, I have no positions available. Besides you're a woman."

"A woman who has held positions in banks numerous other times and who probably excels in numbers beyond that of even your best clerk."

"Now madam. I didn't mean to insult you. I truly do not have any openings and besides with the difficulties all of the other banks in the surrounding towns have been having, we are not taking anyone new on in risk of them being a spy."

"I understand. Well, you're loss, not mine." Caitlin's eyes flashed a dark blue as she turned away in anger and insult. She didn't let the slight fear she had from her failure show. She'd find another way to get the information that her brothers needed to pull this off.

Buck frowned at the head clerk as he walked his daughter out of the bank. "Well darlin', I don't know what to tell you. They're pretty set."

"I know. Is there any place else that I might be able to work?"

"The general store, or maybe the hotel."

"No, that's not what I want to do."

"Well you might have to right now."

"No. I won't." As they walked past the boardwalk, Caitlin looked in the window and up at the sign. "The Clarion? What's that?"

Buck smiled, "Oh that. That's the town newspaper. Mary runs it."

Caitlin saw her opportunity and smiled, "Do you think? I mean, do you think she'd give me a job?"

"Well, we can find out. Come on." Buck held the door open for her and let her go in. He stepped in behind her, calling towards the back room, "Mary?"

Mary came out, a smudge of ink on her cheek. "Hello Mr. Wilmington." Mary wiped her hands and smiled at Caitlin. "You must be the young woman I heard about from the stage robbery."

"Yes, I am."

"Well, welcome to Four Corners. I'd love to tell your story. I mean, such a wonderful thing to have come from such a tragedy."

"What about if I write it for you?"


"I'm looking for a job."

Mary smiled and thought on it for a minute. "Well, I could use the extra help. You don't mind getting dirty here or there."

"No, I don't mind."

"Very well then. You can start tomorrow morning."

"Thank you. I appreciate it."

"My pleasure. I open the office at 8. I will see you then?"

"Yes, I'll be here in the morning."

Buck smiled, "Thank you Mary." He walked over and rested a hand on Caitlin's shoulder. "What do you say we go rest a bit and then celebrate?"

Caitlin nodded as Buck guided her to the door. "Thank you Mrs. Travis."

Mary nodded and watched as Buck walked her out.

Caitlin nearly breathed a sigh of relief. With a job on the paper, she could find out all she needed to about the town with no suspicion. Hopefully Victor would see it as the opportunity that she did. Otherwise. Caitlin shivered at the thought.

Buck looked over and frowned. "I knew we did too much today." He wrapped his jacket around her shoulders and led her home for a rest.

Caitlin tugged the jacket tight around her shoulders, even though she wasn't cold, savoring the security that it gave her.

Chapter 8

Caitlin sat down before the Judge. She had expected this for some time. Buck had been overprotective, preventing Chris, the Judge or anyone to ask her about what had happened because of her injuries, but they couldn't hold off any longer. She looked up at the Judge, fiddling with the drawstring of her handbag. The judge looked at her, "I know this is difficult for you ma'am, but we need to get any information that you might have.

"I didn't really see anything."

Chris looked at the Judge and then at the girl. He had been over the crime scene several times, and it still didn't sit right with him. Chris hadn't told Buck about his feelings on the crime scene because he knew it was too personal for Buck right now. Vin was still searching for anything to support the feeling that he and Chris both had, but wish they didn't. The Judge sighed, "Ma'am, I know this isn't easy, but anything you might remember, even what they're horses looked like."

"Caitlin darlin', tell them what happened. Explain why you didn't see anything." Buck squeezed his daughter's shoulder as he knelt down by her.

Caitlin looked at her father and nodded. She had rehearsed the story a hundred times in her mind. She knew that the slightest detail off and she would fall apart. She looked up and sighed, "We seemed to be making good time and the ride had been fairly quiet. The passenger opposite me was sleeping, snoring lightly and I was reading from a book. The felt the stage jolt forward and start going faster. I glanced up to see if the man opposite me had woken from it, but he still slept on. All of a sudden I heard some muffled shouts, for us to stop, but the stage just sped up it seemed. I gripped the hand holds on the seat tightly because we were being jolted so."

"Didn't you look out the window to see what was happening? Weren't you the least bit curious?" Chris crossed his arms over his chest as he asked her. He ignored the cold look Buck gave him.

"No. I. I was too scared. I didn't want to know what was happening. I guess I thought that if I didn't know, it would just go away."

The judge nodded, "Go on."

"Well. I heard something hit the ground and we rolled past it. I thought it was a piece of luggage. The stage was moving so quickly and I could hear multiple horses outside, and a lot of shouting. The next thing I knew, the stage was tilting, and it landed hard on its side. The man in the stage with me climbed out and helped me out. I was concentrating so much on not falling; there were 3 men around us. I looked down and saw the one stage driver shooting at them while the other passenger and I climbed out. I think that's when I first realized what that thump was. As my feet hit the ground, the other passenger gripped my hand tightly for only a moment, and his eyes went wide. He slid to the ground and I started screaming. I looked over and the stage driver was slumped forward. As I went to turn away again, I felt a sharp burning pain and then I blacked out. I woke again when your men found us."

Chris sighed and leaned against the wall. "You didn't see any of them. Not even the horses." He was taking on a bit of an annoyed tone.

"She told you what happened and what she knew Chris. You got a problem with that." Buck stood up looking at Chris.

"Yeah. She's our only witness, yet supposedly she saw nothing. She wasn't shot even though it would have taken her at least five minutes to climb out of the stage in the position it was and in the dress she was wearing, even with help. And besides, we didn't find her near the stage door. We found her by the wheels, away from the door."

"What are you saying Chris?"

The Judge and Caitlin watched as the two men approached each other, their voices rising. "Hell Buck ain't it obvious. I don't' think she's telling us the truth."

"That's my daughter Chris. She's not lying. I'd know if she were."

"I don't' think you would Buck. I think she's blinding you. She knows more than she's telling."

Caitlin watched as her father swung his fist around striking Chris on the jaw. Chris stumbled back, looking at Buck, before charging him, tackling him around the waist. Caitlin screamed, "Daddy! Stop! Please!"

Buck and Chris wrestled with each other, exchanging blows. The Judge moved to the door to get help. Caitlin ran out the door, pushing past the Judge, running down the street, tears streaming down her face. She wanted out, but she knew the only way would be her death. She was so tired of hurting the ones she cared about, and now she'd hurt her father. She ran blindly down the street, turning into a dark alley her heart breaking.

Caitlin tried to scream as a large hand covered her mouth and another arm wrapped tightly around her waist. "You scream girl and I'll slit your throat."

Caitlin recognized Victor's voice and nodded, pulling away from him as he let her go. "Victor."

"Why aren't you at the bank?"

"They wouldn't hire me."

Victor hissed, "Damn girl. What are you doing then?"

"I'm working at the newspaper. The woman there pretty much runs the town. Her father in law is the judge. She can get me anywhere. I'll get the information you need."

"I know he's here. You screw up and I'll kill him. You hear me. I'll kill your dear daddy."

"They're suspicious."

"Just do what you need to do to fool them. It'll be over soon enough. Remember, screw up and he dies."

Caitlin slid to the ground, sobbing as Victor turned his back and left the alley.

Chapter 9

JD stared in amazement as Vin and Josiah struggled to pull Buck and Chris away from each other. He looked at the judge, "What happened?"

The Judge watched as Josiah dragged Buck to the far corner of the room and Vin pulled Chris away. "Chris seems to believe that Buck's daughter was hiding something about what happened with the stage."

"Do you think he's right?"

The Judge looked, "I don't know JD. I haven't looked at the evidence."

"Well, where is she?"

"I don't know, she ran out of here and headed down the street. She seemed pretty upset."

JD nodded, "I'll go see if I can find her. Buck'll be worrying about her." JD turned and headed down the street looking for her.

Buck pushed Josiah away from him and looked at Chris. "You ever say anything like that about her again and. and. "

"You'll what Buck, kill me?" Chris rubbed his jaw and looked at him shaking his head.

Buck looked, "She's scared Chris. She's been alone until now, and she's all I got of a lost love. Don't take her from me."

"3 people are dead Buck and she's the only one who may know why."

"Leave her alone Chris. She told you what she knows."

"No Buck. She told us what she wants us to think. I wish I could keep you from fooling yourself, but you're too stubborn of a fool to listen."

"One name Chris, Ella Gaines."

Chris scowled at Buck. "Would have thought you'd have learned from my mistakes."

"This ain't a mistake."

Chris shook his head, putting his hat on and walking to the door, "Let me know when you can see clearly again Buck."

Buck mumbled something as Chris walked out. He reached for his hat putting it back on his head and then looked around. "Where's Caitlin?"

"She ran out of here when you two were acting like two year olds." The Judge stepped forward to pick up his papers. "JD went to find her and see if she was okay."

Buck nodded and straightened his jacket as he nodded to the Judge and walked out the office.

Caitlin rested her head on her knees, sobbing quietly. She'd never felt so afraid and so alone in her life. She jumped, startled as she heard steps in front of her. She blinked her eyes and looked up, "JD?"

JD nodded, bending down to kneel by her. "Yeah, I came to see if you were okay."

Caitlin looked, "I should have never had stayed. I should have left the day I could have."

"Don't say that."

"But JD. I don't want him fighting with his oldest friend because of me."

"They'll get over it. They've done it before and they'll probably do it again at some point. Besides, I don't' want you to leave."

"You don't?" Caitlin looked up surprised, tears staining her cheeks, her eyes red.

JD pushed a loose strand of hair back from her face and nodded. "I was, well, I was gonna ask you something today, but I guess I shouldn't now. Not with what happened."

Caitlin bit her lip as she shivered from the light brush of his fingers on her cheek. "You can ask me."

"Well, I. I just. I was wondering if you'd have dinner with me."

"You want to have dinner with me?"

"Yeah. I know Buck'll probably have my hide, but I don't' know. We don't get many pretty girls in town."

Caitlin blushed and found herself really smiling for the first time. "I'm not that pretty, but I'd like to have dinner with you."

JD smiled, "Really?"

"Really." Caitlin realized then that she was holding hands with JD, his thumb gently rubbing the back of her hand. She realized how calming it was, how relaxed she felt. She looked up as another figure appeared in the alleyway. "Caitlin. Are you okay darlin'?"

JD stepped back, reluctantly letting go of her hand as Buck approached them. He stood up helping Caitlin up. Buck came over and hugged her tight. "I'm sorry darlin'. I didn't mean to scare you."

Caitlin looked, "You didn't' scare me daddy. I don't' want you fighting with your friends though. Especially not over me."

"Caitlin, I couldn't let him say."

"Please daddy."

"We'll see." Buck kissed her forehead then looked at JD. "Thanks JD. Why don't' you come to dinner tonight. Eat with me and my little one here."

"Daddy, JD and I already have plans."

Buck raised a brow and looked at JD. "We'll talk later son." He pulled Caitlin tighter to him and smiled, "Come on. Let's get you home so you can get ready for your date tonight."

Caitlin nodded, looking over and smiling at JD as Buck walked her out of the alley.

Chapter 10

Caitlin laughed for the first time in a long time. "That was a good one JD. You certainly do know a lot of jokes."

"You really think its funny? The guys always just groan."

"I like your jokes JD, and I like your company."

JD smiled, holding her hand. "And I like yours. You are going to stay here in town aren't you?"

Caitlin bit her lip and looked away. JD squeezed her hand, "Caitlin, are you okay?"

"Just tired is all."

JD stopped at the end of the walk and looked up at the stars. "It is late. I should walk you home before Buck has my head for bringing you home so late."

Caitlin laughed, "He is overprotective sometimes."

"He's your father, he's supposed to be."

"I suppose." Caitlin looked at him. "This has been one of the nicest evenings I've had in a long time JD. I almost wish it didn't have to end."

JD blushed, "I'm glad you enjoyed it. I did too. I was kind of hoping maybe we could do it again one night."

"I'd like that, a lot. When?"

"Well, I have patrol tomorrow night, but I have the next day off. Maybe we could go on a picnic, do some fishing."

"Really? I've never been fishing."

"Well then, I'll teach you how." JD smiled at her and smiled, his dark brown eyes finding her blue ones. He bit his lip, their laughter yielding to a nervous, yet anxious silence.

JD leaned forward and quickly, but gently kissed her lips. Then pulled back and looked at her. "I shouldn't have. "

Caitlin smiled and shook her head, putting her hand to his lips silencing him. "It's okay." Looking down, "I." looking back at him, "I liked it."

JD smiled, "Do I have your permission to do it again?"

Caitlin blushed but nodded shyly.

JD pulled her closer to him one arm wrapping around her waist. He reached up and brushed her cheek, gently cupping her face and drawing her to him. He leaned into her and gently brushed his lips against hers.

Caitlin leaned into him slowly drawing her arms around his neck. She sighed softly, parting her lips slightly. She felt his tongue trace her lower lip gently pushing its way into her mouth exploring. She felt her own tongue reach out to his, entangling as their bodies were beginning to.

JD felt her eyelashes fluttering against his cheek as he explored the sweetness of her mouth. He shifted his hand to cup the back of her neck, deepening his kiss, his body molding to hers as their tongues danced. JD was lost in the moment until he heard someone coming down the street, whistling. He gently pulled back, his hand moving to stroke her cheek. He looked into her light blue eyes. They had an almost dreamy look.

Caitlin looked up at him as she felt him pull away. She heard the whistling and looked up at him blushing. "No one's ever done that before."

"I'm sorry."

"I'm glad you were the first. I liked the feeling."

JD smiled, then turned as he heard a clock chime 11 at night. "I best walk you home or Buck'll have my head for real."

Caitlin chuckled and nodded. "You're right." Resting her head on his chest as he hugged her. "Thank you JD."

"For what?"

"For everything. For more than I could ever explain to you." Caitlin leaned up and kissed him softly. "Let's go."

JD nodded and slowly walked back with her to the hotel.

Buck paced on the porch of the hotel as he waited for Caitlin and JD. Josiah looked up from his chair. "Hell pard, you gonna wear out those new boots of yours before you break them in."

"It's 11 Josiah. I told JD to have her home early."

"Buck, they're kids. Let them be kids."

"She's my daughter Josiah, its different."

Josiah chuckled. "I guess so. Relax, JD will take care of her."

"That's what I'm worried about."

"Buck, JD may idolize you, but he's not that way."

"I know, I know. Just I mean, I'm her father. Is this normal Josiah? To be so worried about her all the time, whenever she's not in my sight."

Josiah laughed, "Yeah Buck, and no matter how old they get, or how far away they are from you, it'll never change." Josiah's eyes got a distant look.

"It's funny Josiah. For once I can kind of understand Caroline's father."

Josiah looked at him and nodded. "He may have been wrong Buck, but as you see now, it was his little girl."

Buck sighed, "Yeah, I know. Still, I don't think I'll ever forgive him."

"Well, you can forgive JD. Here they come now." Josiah smiled at the couple. JD had his arm around her waist, and Caitlin was leaning against him as they walked. He smiled as he saw JD looking down at her and he remembered the feeling of young love.

Buck looked at them and shook his head. "Did we look like that when we were that young and supposedly in love?"

"I don't know Buck. It's a nice sight isn't it, young love."

Buck looked as JD walked over, holding Caitlin's hand, the two of them standing a bit apart now that they were in front of the two men. "Buck. Josiah. Well Caitlin," JD turned to look at her smiling. "I'll see you the day after tomorrow for our picnic."

"Picnic?" Buck asked stepping forward.

Caitlin nodded to JD and then turned to her father, "Daddy, JD asked me on a picnic and he's going to teach me to fish."

"Oh really."

Josiah stood up and hit Buck on the back, "Come on Buck. Let them say goodnight. You can ask her all about it when their night is over."

Buck mumbled and nodded, looking at JD. "Five minutes should be enough for you two to say goodnight. And JD, we'll talk more tomorrow son."

Caitlin looked at her father and shook her head as he went inside with Josiah. "I guess he'll lay down the rules for you tomorrow."

JD laughed, "It's okay. I think I can handle his lecture if it means I can call on you whenever I want."

"I think I could too."

"I hate saying goodnight."

"I do took, but I'll see you tomorrow around town and well, I'll see you the day after."

"And a lot more after that."

Caitlin laughed and smiled. She leaned forward and kissed JD gently. "Good night JD."

JD smiled kissing her again and gently stroking her cheeks. "Good night."

Caitlin slowly walked back to the door and went in, watching him over her shoulder as the door closed behind her.

JD smiled watching as the door shut before turning and jumping off the porch. He headed to the boarding house whistling a tune, already dreaming of her eyes, smile and the sweetness of her kiss.

Chapter 11

"God damn it!" Victor kicked at the fire.

The men sitting around the fire visibly flinched as they watched him. Victor turned at them. "This should be a lesson to all of you. Never trust a woman to do anything right."

Stephen sighed, "Dad, she'll get it done. She always does."

Victor threw a cup at him, "Don't you even try. That little slut has had enough time to get the information we need."

He looked around and found his namesake, "Junior ride out and see what she's up to. I want to know everything. Report back tomorrow afternoon."

Junior nodded and mounted up and rode out of camp. Stephen sighed and picked up the cup that Victor had thrown at him. He looked up at the sky and shook his head hoping that Caitlin had found something out that they needed to know.

Caitlin walked down the street with a bundle of newspapers. She had to deliver this batch to the hotel and then they needed to start working on the following week's paper. She stopped as a bunch of daises suddenly appeared in front of her. "JD."

JD smiled. "Just got back from patrol. Thought you might like these."

"Was everything quiet?" Caitlin thought briefly about her brothers hoping that nothing had happened.

JD nodded, "Yeah, we found some day old fires, but those could just be from hunters or people passing through."

"Do you really think the men who robbed the stage will be back?"

JD shrugged, "Never can tell. Just got to be extra careful."

"I saw Chris leave town. Where was he going?"

"Don't know. He could have been going to Purgatory."


"Don't worry about it Caitlin." It's not any place you would ever want to go.

Caitlin nodded.

"Have dinner with me tonight?"

"Of course. I think Daddy's getting jealous though."

JD laughed. "Heck I'm making Buck jealous. That's a change."

Caitlin smiled, realizing that they were holding hands without even thinking about it. JD kissed her cheek. "Here, let me take those."

Caitlin let him have the newspapers and she took the flowers.

Casey glanced out the window of the general store and smiled. She had been out of town with her aunt and she ran outside, then stopped when she saw JD with Caitlin. She stepped back and bumped Vin. "Hey there Casey. How was your trip?"

"Huh. Vin. who is that?"

Vin looked over, "Caitlin Wilmington. She's Buck's daughter."

Casey nodded. "I didn't know Buck had a daughter."

"Neither did he. She was on a stage that got robbed. We found her."

"Oh." Casey turned around and went to go back into the store. "Excuse me."

Vin shook his head, knowing what she was going through. Before she'd left town, JD had been trying to court her. Everyone was almost expecting something to come out of it.

Caitlin saw Vin and Casey. She didn't like the look on Casey's face as Casey stared at her and JD. "JD, who's that?"

JD looked over and smiled, "Come on, it's Casey. I wanted you to meet her."

"JD, wait." Caitlin stopped JD from pulling her along. "I don't think that's a good idea."

"Why not?"

"I don't know. She looked upset about seeing something."

JD looked, "I'll go talk to her and then bring these to the hotel for you. Okay?"

"I'll see you tonight JD."

JD kissed her cheek and smiled, "Tonight."

Caitlin watched him go down the street. She wasn't aware of the two pairs of eyes watching her.

Buck smiled from the saloon window. He remembered the feeling of young love himself. How could he forget?

Buck stroked Carolyn's hair, her head resting on his chest. He couldn't imagine a more perfect moment than this. He rested his other hand on her lower back, stroking her soft skin.

Carolyn shifted and looked up at him. "I love you Buckley."

"I love you darlin'."

"No matter what happens, I'll never love anyone else."

"Shhh. We're going to be together for eternity. Don't worry about it love. Things will work out."

"I'm scared Buckley."

"I know darlin'. We'll make it. I know we will."

"What if we don't?"

"Young love always wins."

"What about Romeo and Juliet?"

Buck leaned up and kissed her forehead, "Silly, don't worry. I'm gonna take care of everything."

"I know."

"And if I don't, and we somehow get parted, I will never love another."

Buck sighed, "I never could after you Carolyn." Buck looked back out the window and smiled at his daughter standing on the boardwalk watching JD walk away. Buck decided to go out and walk with her.

The other pair of eyes watching her was not as sentimental. He watched Caitlin and frowned. He couldn't see any work getting done. He decided to wait and leaned back into the shadows as voices neared.

Chapter 12

JD walked Caitlin up to her room. It had been a quiet evening and dinner had gone well. "JD. Your friend, Casey, was everything okay?"

JD sighed, "Yeah, she just well, I courted her once."


"But I love you."

"Well, I guess she and I won't ever be friends."

JD sighed, "Hopefully one day you might."

Caitlin smiled and looked at their hands, stroking his hands. "JD, I've been thinking about something."

JD looked, "What?"

Caitlin leaned forward and kissed him gently. She whispered in his ear, "Make love to me."

"Caitlin?" JD looked at her a bit surprised.

Caitlin bit her lip. "I love you JD. I want to share the night with you."

JD stroked her cheek, "Are you sure about this?"

Caitlin nodded, "Very." Opening her door and stepping into her room, turning and holding out her hand. "Say yes?"

JD knew he'd have to face Buck eventually, but he loved Caitlin more than anything. He took her hand and stepped into the room, closing the door behind them.

Chris rode into Bridge Town at a late hour. He rode over to the sheriff's office and nodded, "Who's the law around here?"

"Who wants to know?" A tall man stepped out on the porch and looked imposingly at Chris his hands on his gun belt.

"Chris Larabee. I'm from Four Corners, one of the lawmen there."

"Heard of you. You head of the men that protect the town."

Chris nodded, "Came to ask you about the robbery you had a month ago."

"Hell, that was a mess. One girl got taken from the bank, and we still haven't found her. Figure she's dead by now."

Chris looked, "Funny, they seem to take a girl out of every bank robbery they pull. Describe her for me."

"She was a good kid. She was a kid, not real old. She had a job at the bank, did a good job surprisingly. She was a pretty thing, quiet, but sweet. Black hair and ice blue eyes."

Chris sighed and nodded. "Thanks. Which way is the boarding house?"

The sheriff pointed the way. Chris nodded and headed off that way to get a room. He didn't want to go back to Four Corners in a way. This was the second town he'd been to and he knew there was no way around it. Caitlin was involved. Every town had described the kidnapped girl the same way and the girl fit Caitlin's description. Still, Chris had to prove it or get her to admit it. He knew that either way Buck was going to get hurt.

Caitlin sat on the bed and looked up at JD who locked the door. He walked over to her slowly and stroked her cheek, watching her. Caitlin looked up at him. JD bent down and kissed her gently. He ran his tongue along her lower lip, slipping it between her lips as they parted. His tongue sought hers and entwined with it when he found it. His hands ran over her shoulders and gently eased her back so that she was lying down on the bed.

Caitlin ran her hands over his back, and played with his hair. Her heart pounded in her chest as their tongues dance. She opened her eyes as JD started to trace kisses along her jaw and then over her neck. JD's fingers moved and she felt him tugging at the buttons on the blouse she was wearing. As he kissed her neck, she arched her throat to his lips, her breathing changing.

JD kissed the soft skin of her shoulders as he gently pushed her shirt away. He nipped gently at her skin, smiling as he felt her fingers close around his arms, holding onto him. JD gently eased her up so he could completely remove her shirt and pull her camisole off over her head.

Caitlin shivered slightly as JD ran his hands over her bare torso. She looked at him, her eyes locking with his. JD leaned forward and nipped at her lips again, his fingers caressing her bare flesh. He gently cupped her breasts in his hands, his fingers lightly teasing her nipples. He started to trace his kisses lower, easing her back onto the bed. As his lips closed over one of her nipples, his tongue flickering over it teasingly, his other hand rolled her other nipple between his fingers.

Caitlin gasped as she felt JD's mouth close over her nipple. Her hands knotted into his hair, holding him as her back arched up to him. JD split his attention between her two breasts, his hands starting to drift over her stomach. Caitlin's hands ran over his shoulders and back. JD felt her fingers starting to fumble over the buttons of his shirt as she tugged at them. JD kissed his way back up to her lips, as she pushed his open shirt over his shoulders, running her fingers lightly over his chest.

JD nibbled her earlobe and kissed her lips.

Caitlin stroked his cheek watching him. Caitlin leaned up and kissed his neck, her hands running over his back to his stomach, her fingers running just under the waistband of his pants. JD groaned and started to kiss his way down her body. He kissed across her stomach, his hands gently grasping the sides of her skirt. He undid the strings tying her skirt on the side and then grasping her undergarments with it, slid down her body, pulling her clothing with him.

Caitlin blushed as she felt herself completely naked. As JD sat on the floor, he removed his boots and belt. He took her feet in his hands and gently started to kiss a path up her legs as he moved back up towards her. Caitlin gasped as he ran his hands up over her inner thighs and then over her hips, avoiding her center. JD looked up at her and then slid his hand, and parted her lower lips. His tongue slid and lightly flicked over her clit.

Caitlin gasped and clutched at his head. Her hips bucked against him as she squirmed. JD's hands held her thighs gently apart as he slid his tongue over her clit before settling his lips around it and sucking gently. Caitlin whimpered with intense pleasure. Her body was aching as she felt something building at the base of her spine begging for release. JD replaced his lips with his thumb. Slipping his tongue into her, exploring her.

Caitlin grasped at him. "JD, please."

JD could feel she was ready for him, and he needed her as much. He slid over her, his hands undoing his pants and pushing them down. He felt Caitlin's hands helping him as her fingers brushed against his erection. Caitlin looked up at him. "JD."

JD kissed her gently, "Are you okay?"

Caitlin nodded, "I'm just scared."

"I know. If you want to stop."

"No. I need you." Caitlin's hands ran over his back and around his hips. Her fingers brushed his erection and circled around it. She looked down at it and then up at JD.

JD kissed her gently. He eased between her legs, running his hands along her thighs, pushing them slightly further apart. The head of his erection rested at her opening and JD gently eased in. He stroked Caitlin's cheek watching her as she arched, her lips parted slightly as her breath came in short gasps. He knew that this pained women at first, and he wanted to cause as little pain as possible to her. He moved slowly, gently easing a little further into her gradually, letting her adjust to his girth.

Caitlin's nails dug into his shoulders. She felt an immense pressure as he pushed into her slowly. She felt like she was being split into two, as if she couldn't take his size, but she bit her lip and held onto him. She couldn't help but move her hips, not sure if she wanted more or if she was trying to get away. She felt JD stop and she looked at him. She knew what was coming and she just nodded.

JD felt her maidenhead and stopped. When he looked at her she nodded and he knew that this was right for them both. He pulled back, until just the head of his erection remained just inside of her. Stroking her cheek, he leaned forward to kiss her and thrust hard forward. He felt Caitlin's whole body tense as he hit her maidenhead, feeling it partially give way. He held Caitlin tight as he pulled back again and then thrust forward once more breaking through completely.

Caitlin cried out feeling an immense pain, JD's mouth covered hers, her scream swallowed by his tender lips and his soft, teasing tongue. Caitlin felt tears in her eyes as he pushed forward again. She felt a complete pop and then gasped as she felt him slide completely into her. She felt JD kiss the tears from her cheeks, he stroked her cheeks, "I'm sorry."

Caitlin leaned up and kissed him and then felt herself suddenly relax around him. She needed more, to feel more. She felt her hips move against his, pressing closer to him. "Don't be JD."

JD smiled and kissed her deeply. He slowly started to rock his hips against hers, rolling them slightly and as he felt her responding he started to slowly thrust in and out of her. He ran a hand down to her leg and guided it up over his back, cupping the back of her thigh with his other as he started to thrust a bit faster, reaching deeper into her.

Caitlin gasped with the pleasure that was gradually replacing the immense pain she'd felt. She felt her hips moving with his, and then suddenly he started to pull out of her and Caitlin whimpered. The emptiness she felt as he pulled out was replaced with fullness as he thrust into her slowly almost teasingly painful. She gasped, as he seemed to reach even deeper into her. Her hips started to move up to meet his, wanting more of him.

JD bent his head down as he continued to thrust deeper into her. He gently kissed her breasts, alternating between soft tender kisses and teasingly painful love bites. Caitlin uttered soft moans as her body was invaded with intense pleasure. A pleasure like none she'd ever experienced. She held onto JD's arms as he thrust in and out of her.

JD hooked his hands behind her knees and eased them up towards her chest, rolling her hips even further upward. His thrusts started to reach even deeper inside of her. JD could feel the head of his erection hitting the bottom of her womb. JD reached down and brushed her clit with his fingers. He needed a release, but wanted Caitlin to feel a complete release with him.

Caitlin gasped at the combinations of feelings. She'd never felt such overwhelming tension in her body at once. When JD brushed her clit with his fingers Caitlin felt that something that had been building in her lower back explode. Caitlin cried out JD's name as her body spasmed with the intense pleasure that flowed through it, starting at her spine and spreading to ever cell of her body.

JD felt her inner muscles clenching around him as her orgasm washed over her. It set JD off and as he thrust deep into her, he exploded, spilling his seed deep into her. JD groaned in pleasure and rested his head on her shoulder as held her shuddering body close to him. He could hear her breathing starting to slowly settle, as he tried to catch his own breath.

Caitlin brushed her fingers through his hair, her other hand holding his. She looked over at him and smiled at him as he looked at her. He leaned over and kissed her, then gently eased out of her and lay next to her on his side. He wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her close, kissing her neck and shoulders. "I love you Caitlin."

"Caitlin sighed, settling against him, exhausted. "I love you JD."

JD smiled and held her hand as he pulled her close into her, spooning with her. He watched her, kissing her softly from time to time as he watched her drift to sleep. He was amazed that she was lying in his arms and that he could love someone so much. He was starting to understand what so many people had tried so many times to explain to him. JD lay down stroking her hair and cheek as he drifted to sleep, wondering what he'd ever do if he lost her and praying that that day never came.

Chapter 13

Roger stood up and tossed his cup of coffee into the fire. He lowered his gun as he recognized the approaching rider. He looked over his shoulder, "Junior's back."

Victor walked over a smile on his face, "Well."

Junior shook his heads, "Got problems."

"God damn it. I knew better than to trust that girl. Stephen, get Junior a plate and bring it to my tent. Come on Junior, I want to know everything."

JD paced outside of the church, trying to decide whether or not he really wanted to go in. He needed to talk to someone, and for once it couldn't be Buck. Josiah stepped out onto the porch unnoticed and watched JD pace for a while. "You know son, you can do that inside as well."

JD jumped and turned. "Umm. 'Siah."

Josiah stepped forward and leaned on the church's railing, "You got something you need to spill son?"

JD stopped pacing and sighed, "Yeah."

Josiah motioned to the church's doors, "Then come on in."

JD climbed the steps and walked into the small church. Josiah rested a hand on his shoulder as he walked in behind him.

Stephen listened as his father described the new plan. He stood up, "But we can't do that. It's too risky."

Victor looked up his eyes narrow, "I didn't ask you boy. Besides, if things work out, only one person won't be coming back."

Stephen nodded and sat back down. If only he could find a way to get to town first.

Josiah looked at JD. "Are you sure this is what you want son? It's a big step."

"It feels right Josiah. I ain't never felt anything like it before." JD looked up at him.

"You've got a few people to talk to."

"I know, I know. Casey being the first. I don't even know how to start explaining it to her."

Josiah looked, "You tell her the truth. It ain't gonna be easy. She's gonna be hurt, but you have to tell her."

"I know, and then I have to talk to Buck. I hope he doesn't get too mad."

Josiah grinned, "I wouldn't worry about that part too much JD."

JD grinned, "Well, I guess I better get to work. Got a lot to do."

Josiah nodded and shook JD's hand as they stood up. "I'll be here if you need to talk again."

"I think I've got it all worked out now Josiah. Thanks."

Josiah watched JD head out of the church and smiled as he realized that their youngest member had really grown into an admirable young man.

Chapter 14

JD looked out the window and then turned back and smiled. He walked over to the bed and gently kissed Caitlin on the cheek. He smiled as her eyes slowly drifted open. "Morning."

Caitlin groaned and stretched. "Is it morning already?"

"Afraid so. I gotta get going. I have to go on patrol with Josiah."

"Do you have to go?" Caitlin sat up partway in the bed. The sheets draped over her body as she leaned closer to him.

"Yeah. I wish I didn't have to, but I do. I'll be back after lunch." JD leaned forward and kissed her gently on the lips.

"Be careful."

"I will." JD grabbed his hat and left, heading for the sheriff's office.

Caitlin watched him leave and then lay back with a sigh. She had promised Mary that she'd be there early. Caitlin got out of bed and stretched and then proceeded to get dressed.

Chris rode hard when he saw the outskirts of town. He still didn't know how he was going to tell Buck what he knew. How could he tell his oldest friend that his newly found daughter was involved in several robberies and murders? Chris just had to get back to town to protect them before she could do any more harm and then he'd figure out what to do.

Josiah grinned at JD as they rode out of town, and started to circle through the nearby woods. "So, did you make a decision?"

"JD nodded and pulled a box out of his pocket. Picked it up yesterday."

"And you still have it in your possession? Would have thought you'd have done it by now."

JD grinned and put it back in his pocket, "Hell Josiah, I gotta wait for the right time to ask her."

Before Josiah and JD knew what was happening, two shots rang out. JD watched as Josiah's head jerked to the side and his horse reared. JD felt the thud and a sharp pain in his shoulder, but it didn't faze him as he watched Josiah fall to the ground, blood on the side of his head, unconscious or dead, JD didn't know. JD saw several men come out of the woods, guns drawn. The oldest looked at JD and nodded. "Get off the horse and throw down your gun. We ain't ready to kill you just yet."

JD looked around him and remembered what Buck always told him. He knew he didn't have an out yet, and he'd have to wait for it. He did as he was told. One of the men tied his hands and then shoved him back on his horse. As they led them away, JD turned to look at Josiah one last time. Through the throbbing pain in his shoulder, he closed his eyes and prayed Josiah was still alive.

Chris rode hard into town and pulled to a stop, dismounting. He looked at Vin who was sitting on the porch, "Where's Caitlin, and where's Buck?"

Vin raised an eye at Chris, "Caitlin's right there 'pard, and Buck's in the saloon."

Chris nodded, "Keep him busy."

"What are you gonna do Chris?"

"I talked to witnesses of the robbery. Each one of them described Caitlin to a tee. She's involved in the robberies and unfortunately the murders Vin. She's setting the town up for something. I want to know what."

"You're sure about this?"


"I'll do what I can, but Buck's not gonna be happy."

"That's an understatement."

Vin nodded and watched as Chris walked towards Caitlin.

Caitlin wasn't paying attention as she walked to the Clarion. She was trying to figure out what she was going to do when her stepfather came to town wanting to know what was going on. Chris Larabee was the last wall she'd expected to run into. Caitlin looked up and stepped back. "Mr. Larabee. Excuse me. I didn't see you. Didn't know you'd gotten back into town."

"Want to know where I was?"

"Not particularly, but I guess you want to tell me."

Chris nodded, "Well, the last place I was at was Bridge Town."

Caitlin looked at him, "Bridge Town?"

Chris nodded, "They told me some interesting things about you."

"I've never been there, so I don't know how they could have." Caitlin tried to step around him, but Chris grabbed her arm.

"You're going to jail for now Caitlin. Until you tell me what's going on, or I catch the rest of this gang, you're going to sit in jail. I don't know what you're hiding and I don't know how you're involved, but I know you are."

"Let go of me. You're hurting my arm."

Chris nodded, pulling her towards the sheriff's office. "I'll let you go when you're in a cell."

Caitlin pulled against him, "Let me go!"

Chris ignored her, picking her up and tossing her over his shoulder. He was almost to the sheriff's office, when Buck stormed out of the saloon. Vin was trying to stop him, but nothing would work. "What the hell do you think you're doing Chris?"

Chris ignored him and kept walking, "My job."

"That's my daughter. Put her down."

"She's a part of that gang that's been robbing towns. She was part of the murders of those stage coach drivers, as well as a couple of others."

"I knew you were crazy Chris, but this is insane."

"Several people described her to me Chris. There was no doubt. She's fooled you and this whole town."

Buck reared back to hit her, but stopped, with the shot of a gun. Buck, Vin and Chris turned to see Josiah, barely holding onto his horse riding into town. Vin ran to him to help him off his horse calling for Nathan as he did. Chris looked at Buck and shook his head. He put Caitlin on her feet and shoved her forward towards Josiah.

Vin wiped the blood from the gash on Josiah's head. "What happened 'Siah?"

"Group of men. Took JD. He's hurt."

Caitlin paled, "JD. no. they can't."

Buck pulled her away from Chris's hold and tilted her head up and looked at her. "Caitlin. What's going on?"

"I can't."

Chris looked down, almost ashamed that Buck had to realize the truth this way. Buck held Caitlin's arms tight, and looked at her sternly, "Caitlin you have to. You don't have a choice anymore."

"He'll kill me."

"He'll kill JD. Caitlin please. We can get through this, but you have to tell me everything."

Caitlin shut her eyes, tears rolling down her cheeks. Buck wiped them away, "Caitlin, will you?"

Caitlin nodded, "Yes."

Chris looked at Buck and nodded, "Let's bring her inside. She can tell us there. Then we'll head out to get JD back."

Buck nodded, the fear and pain mingling as he watched his angel fall.

Chapter 15

Buck shook his head, "No. No way in hell you're going to use her as bait Chris."

Chris looked at Buck, "Buck, it's the only way."

Buck shook his head, "I'm not willing to take the risk. You heard how scared she is of that man. You heard how he killed those other people. He wouldn't hesitate to kill his own."

Chris looked at him, "Buck, why don't we ask her."

"No. It's not an option Larabee. I'm not putting my little girl in danger."

Chris shook his head and slammed a fist on a table, "Damn it Buck. Would you listen to me?"

The Judge just watched the two men arguing and shook his head.

Vin knocked on the door, "Chris, Buck. I didn't see any harm in letting her come over her to talk to you."

Chris frowned. He still didn't trust her. She'd lied to them already, put two of his men in danger, and she was too scared. He didn't trust that she wanted to help.

Buck went over, "Caitlin."

Caitlin looked at him, "Daddy, I want to help."

Chris watched her with cold eyes. Caitlin walked over to him, "Tell me what you want me to do, and I'll do it."

"Honey, you don't have to do this." Buck came over and put her hands on her shoulders.

"No, I have to do this. No matter what happens. I have to do it."

Chris nodded, "Good. Let's go over the plan."

JD groaned as he tried to get comfortable. The fire in his shoulder had slowed mostly to a dull ache, but every once in a while fire would shoot through his arm and up his shoulder. He watched the men around the fire, still looking for a way to escape. He had to get back to town and warn his friends. He had to get back to town and help. He looked up startled as one of the men bent down next to him and offered him water.

Stephen watched his brothers by the fireside. They were drinking and having fun. They wouldn't catch what he was going to do. He watched the boy with the dark hair and eyes. Junior had said that his little bluebird had taken a fancy to him. Stephen smiled, he could see why. He went over to the boy and knelt down by him. "Here, drink some. Its just water."

JD looked up at him hesitantly and then drank. When he had quenched his thirst, he looked at the man who knelt beside him. "You won't get away with this. They'll stop you."

Stephen nodded, "Shh. That's right. And you're gonna help them."

JD gave him a funny look, his eyes widening as he saw the man pull out a knife, holding his fingers to his lips. JD nearly jumped as the man cut his hands loose and nodded. "Get out of her boy, and take care of bluebird."

"I don't understand. Bluebird?"

"Caitlin, my baby sister. Take care of her. They'll be passed out in another hour or so. Take any horse but the grey. He's stubborn and he'll through you in under five seconds."

JD nodded, listening intently. "Thanks."

Stephen nodded and stood up, moving back by the campfire to drink into oblivion with his brothers. He left an old pocketknife lying by JD's ropes. It wasn't his, but something he'd found on the trail.

JD watched in complete amazement as he leaned back and waited for the party to end and all to be asleep.

Chris walked into the saloon and sat down by Buck. "Pard."

Buck didn't look at him, but merely shot back a drink of whiskey. He looked at Chris with nervous eyes. "I don't know what I'll do if I lose either of them."

Chris nodded, "We won't. We'll have JD back, safe and sound tomorrow, and Caitlin will have Vin watching her every move."

Buck looked, "What's the judge going to do with her?"

Chris shrugged, "I don't think much. He said it didn't sound like she'd done anything voluntary and since she's helping us tomorrow, I think he'll let her off easy."

Buck nodded, "Hell Chris. I don't think I could have handled this worry if I'd have had to raise her all her life."

Chris smiled, "You'd have done well Buck. You're doing a great job right now. She'd be proud."

"I hope so. I miss her. Didn't realize how much until now."

Chris nodded, "It's never easy Buck. Tell you what, one more round, and then lets get some rest. Have a long day tomorrow."

Buck nodded looking at Chris. The unsaid words between the two men speaking more than a thousand words ever could.

Caitlin sat by the window in her room. She sighed, missing JD and saying a silent prayer that he was all right and that tomorrow wouldn't be too late.

Chapter 16

JD woke up as he felt himself drifting off the side of the horse. His shoulder no longer burned, but was just a dull ache, but he was so tired. He looked up as the sky started to brighten with the light of the sun. JD was still confused as to what exactly was going on. How could his Caitlin know these crooks? He shook his head, realizing that the most important thing at that moment was to get to town and warn the others. He forced his eyes wide open and urged the horse to move a little faster.

Chris leaned on the post and watched as Buck helped Caitlin into the saddle of the large bay. Buck looked over his shoulder at Chris and then back at Caitlin. "You don't have to do this."

Caitlin looked at Chris and smiled, leaning down to kiss her father's cheek. "I do. I'll be okay."

Buck squeezed her hand. "Be careful."

Caitlin nodded and then started the horse moving and headed out of town.

Buck watched her go and turned to look at Chris. "What's your plan now?"

"We wait." Chris turned and headed into the sheriff's office.

Buck sighed, dropping his head as he leaned heavily on the rail. He felt like everything was falling apart and he couldn't control a thing. He slowly sank down to sit on the steps and found himself praying quietly.

Caitlin rode through the woody area into the camp. She looked around her, "Hello?"

"Bluebird." Stephen stepped out, "What are you doing here?"

"Hi Stephen. I came to give more details of the layout."

Stephen helped her down and shook his head, "They've already got a plan."

"They do?"

Caitlin nearly screamed as someone grabbed her roughly from behind. "That's right you little whore. We do."

Caitlin turned slowly. "Father. I came to tell you what was happening in town."

"I already know what's been happening. You're going to tell us everything you've told them."

"Told who?"

Victor shoved her towards her brothers and the campfire. "Told those damn lawmen of that town. The lawmen you've been so cozy with."

Caitlin went to protest, but Victor shoved her forward hard enough that she stumbled. Patrick caught her and helped her up then stepped back as Victor grabbed Caitlin's arm and pulled her towards the fire.

Vin watched from a hill, his mare's leg at the ready. He scouted the camp and frowned when he couldn't find JD. He couldn't over hear the conversation, but he hoped that they hadn't killed JD. He had promised Buck that he'd keep an eye on his daughter, and for now that's what he'd have to do. Vin hoped that JD was okay, wherever he was.

Ezra stepped out of the saloon and onto the porch and looked down the street. "Nathan!" Ezra stepped off the porch and jogged down the main street towards a horse that was wandering into town carrying a person on its back that was slumped over.

Nathan came running down the steps from his clinic. Chris and Buck ran out from the sheriff's office. Buck muttered a curse and ran down to meet Ezra who was already trying to ease JD off the horse. Buck helped him. "JD! What happened?"

JD groaned and looked up, "They're going to attack the town."

Nathan looked at the wound on JD's shoulder and nodded to Buck who was holding him. "Let's get him to the clinic."

JD struggled a bit, "They know Caitlin."

Chris looked at Buck, and the looked at JD. "We know JD. It's okay."

JD shook his head, "No. Buck. Caitlin. they want to kill her."

Buck looked at Chris. He took a deep breath to try and quell the feel that was inside of him. "It's okay JD she's safe."

Nathan nodded as he watched JD black out. "Let's get him upstairs."

Buck carried him up to the clinic, Nathan following.

Chris took a deep breath as he watched and he looked over at Ezra. "What?"

Ezra shrugged, "It appears we have needlessly risked a life."

"She'll be fine and we'll have this gang in jail."

"And what should happen to her then? She is considered a part of this gang is she not?"

Chris looked, "One thing at a time." Chris walked off towards Nathan's to check on JD.

Stephen winced as Victor struck Caitlin across the face. "Stop your filthy lying. I know you been whoring around that town. Sleeping with that child sheriff. Now what did you tell them."

Caitlin shook her head, holding his wrists as he held her up, "Nothing. I swear Father. I didn't tell them anything."

Victor shoved her to the ground. "We'll see. He looked at Roger and Lawrence. Tie her and keep a close eye on her. She's coming to town with us tomorrow."

Stephen watched his sister curl up in a ball. He wanted to go to her, but he couldn't right at this moment. There was too much suspicion upon him from their escaped prisoner. He took a deep breath and went to sit by the river so that he could figure out exactly what it was he needed to do tomorrow to keep her safe.

Chapter 17

Chris walked down the boardwalk checking the positions of his men. He was expecting the gang to ride into town sometime early in the morning according to JD and what he'd overheard during his time there. Chris sighed as he nodded to Vin who was atop one of the buildings and then looked over at Josiah at the church. He had come back earlier that day and let Chris and Buck know what was going on at the camp and that they were getting ready to move. Josiah nodded to him as he walked over, "Chris."

Chris nodded, "'Siah."

"How are you faring this morning brother?"

"Be better if my conscience were clear."

Josiah raised an eyebrow, "We all know the consequences of our actions."

"We get paid to do this Josiah, its different. Buck's daughter, she's doing it because I laid a guilt trip on her."

Josiah looked, "I don't know Chris, I think she'd be doing it whether you asked her to or not. She's a brave young woman."

"A woman that I may get killed, if she's not already. I don't think Buck will ever forgive me."

"Time heals all wounds."

"I wish I could believe that Josiah." Chris nodded and headed back for the sheriff's office. He looked over at Nathan's where JD had stayed the night and saw him waiting in the window, ready to participate even though Nathan was going to kick his butt. He glanced over at the Clarion and saw Buck with Mary. Buck hadn't said much to him since JD had gotten back. He'd glared at him, but not spoken. Chris sighed running a hand through his hair as he sat down on the porch hoping this went down smoothly.

Caitlin winced as Roger tightened the bonds that tied her hands. He shoved her over to Junior who put her on his horse and got up behind her. He flicked his knife out so she could see it and placed it near her stomach. "Remember, Daddy said I could gut you if you tried anything stupid."

Caitlin didn't answer him just sat there as still as she could. She glanced over at Stephen who looked over at her. She knew he was upset, but he couldn't do anything, it had gone too far this time. She looked down at her bruised wrists and winced as she swallowed feeling the bruises on her throat, knowing they covered her cheeks too. She had a bad feeling about what was to come.

Patrick had made his decision of what he needed to do. He knew that it wouldn't be the most ingenious plan he'd ever come with, but it would keep Caitlin safe. He knew she'd be furious with him. He had to smile as he thought of her temper, which couldn't scare a fly and then sobered up quickly. He had made his choice and he'd do what he had to so that Caitlin could be happy.

Buck rubbed his face with his hands. He'd gotten hardly any sleep between worrying about JD and Caitlin. He didn't know whether he wanted to throttle Chris or break down and just talk to him about his fears. Buck didn't know what to do. He looked up, "Caroline, we need you're protection darlin'. I know I've not been the best father lately, but don't take her to be with you just yet. I need her a bit longer with me and well, there's a young man here that needs her too. You'd like him. He's a bit like me when I first found you. I think you'd approve. He'd be good to her and they're good for each other. Keep her safe my love."

JD watched Buck from up above. His shoulder ached and he could barely get enough energy to keep his eyes open and lift his gun, but he was determined to help. He hoped that Caitlin was okay. He still couldn't believe that Chris and the others had let her go that way. At the same time, he knew that she had one trick in the bag with the brother that had helped him. He still didn't understand it completely, but right now the only thing that really concerned him was Caitlin. He reached in his pocket and finger the small ring that he still had. He wanted to see it on her finger, and he wanted to see the smile on her face when he put it there.

Chris perked up as he saw a group of horses with riders approaching. "Heads up boys, Hell is about to come to Four Corners."

Chapter 18

Caitlin didn't move her head, her eyes glancing from side to side. This wasn't the same town she knew -- it was too quiet. She could feel the heaviness of anticipation in the air. She knew the results were not going to be good. She shut her eyes, wishing she could go back to the beginning and change everything that she'd done wrong, but she knew that was impossible.

Buck watched from the doorway as the men rode into town. Chris was leaning against a post outside the sheriff's office. He dropped the cheroot he had been smoking and stepped on it then walked out into the middle of the street. His keen ears picked up the cock of guns, ready for a fight, which surrounded him. He looked up at the man whose horse stopped in front of him.

"Get out of my way." Victor sneered

Chris looked up at him and smirked, "I don't think so. If you know what's best, you'll turn around and leave, without the girl."

Victor motioned Junior and Caitlin forward. Junior slid his knife up to Caitlin's throat, grabbing her hair and yanking her head back. Victor looked, "She will die if anyone tries to stop us."

Chris could see some of the brother's were getting antsy. He knew that it was only a matter of time before it started. He knew his men were in position and he knew that Vin had a good shot. Victor raised his gun and aimed it at Chris, "Get out of the way."

Chris nodded, and raised his hands stepping out of the way, "What can I say? Looks like you got me."

Victor started forward and then stopped. He looked over at Roger, "Kill him."

Roger raised his gun, but before he could squeeze the trigger Chris had his gun out and had fired. Roger looked at his father in shocked surprise as he grabbed his gut and tumbled out of his horse. All of the brothers had been caught off guard. Stephen gathered his wits the quickest and rode over to Junior. He pulled out his shotgun and rammed it against the base of Junior's neck, the young boy slumping in his horse. Stephen eased Caitlin off the horse and nodded, "Go."

Caitlin looked at him confused and looking around her. Stephen shoved her towards Chris, "Go!"

Caitlin stumbled back and then felt an arm wrap around her waist, as shots sounded from all directions. Caitlin looked back at Chris who quickly pulled her down behind some barrels. "Stay here."

Caitlin nodded numbly, and then looked out towards the street. Her brothers had split up and gone in all directions, each one trying to seek cover. She looked across the street and saw her father aiming his gun carefully before firing. She looked up and saw a tired looking JD doing the same.

Buck aimed carefully, his goal was clear. Once and for all he was going to take out the man who had caused his daughter so much heartache. It was all he could do now. He fired, but no matter what he did, he couldn't get a clear shot. Every so often he would check on his daughter to make sure that she was clear and safe. He still trusted Chris, but knew that she was still in danger.

Stephen headed for a safe place, but stopped. Junior stood before him, a furious look on his face. "Traitor!"

Stephen raised his gun at his brother, but before he could do anything, he felt the piercing pain as a bullet struck him in the chest. Everything seemed to slow down as he tumbled from his horse. As he hit the ground he could hear Caitlin scream his name and he shook his head mumbling, "No."

Caitlin had been searching for her brother the entire fight and she'd finally found him. She watched in horror as he tumbled from his horse, one hand already covered in blood over his chest. She saw Junior fall next, a clean shot to the head, from a shooter she couldn't see. Tears clouded her eyes as she called to Stephen, running to him.

Buck watched in horror as Caitlin ran out into the open towards one of her brothers. He watched as Chris lay down cover, trying to protect her and caught Buck's eye, nodding. Buck didn't need any more, he ran after Caitlin.

Victor had heard the scream and turned. Somehow he'd found himself at the far edge of town, near the church, but when he saw Caitlin in the open, he charged forward. She had to pay for destroying his plans and his family. She was evil to him and there was only one way to get rid of her and undo what had been done. He rode forward, drawing his gun.

Chris could see Victor charging for Caitlin, unfortunately, one of the other brothers had him pinned down. Chris could see Buck out in the open as well, "Vin!"

Vin turned his attentions from the brother pinning down Chris and took aim at Victor.

Caitlin had almost reached Stephen when she felt something slam into her, knocking her forward to the ground. She felt a sharp pain near her neck, her right arm going numb. She reached up with her left and felt the damp stickiness of blood. She took a deep breath and ignored it, moving towards Stephen on hands and knees.

Buck saw Caitlin stumble forward, and watched in horror as red blossomed on her back, between her neck and shoulder. He turned and fired his gun. He could see Vin firing, as well as the other seven men he called his family. He watched as Victor's body jerked as bullet after bullet hit the man. He shook his head, as a sickening grin covered Victor's face before the man slid off the horse to the ground, dead. Chris looked up at Buck -- it was over.

Stephen looked to the side and watched as Caitlin crawled next to him. Everything seemed to be moving through water. He smiled as she took his hand, worry in her eyes. Stephen wanted to ease her pain. He noticed the bleeding and that she wasn't using her right arm, and wondered where the others were. He looked to the side, and then looked up at her. He had to tell her and soon. He was so tired, and everything was getting hard to do, even breathing hurt.

Caitlin shook her head, tears running down her cheeks as her brother looked up at her and groaned. "Shh. Don't try and talk Stephen, please. You'll be fine."

Stephen looked at her, "Caitlin."

Caitlin shook her head, "Please.."

"Caitlin. listen. to me."

Caitlin bit her lip and nodded, tears flooding her cheeks.

"I. did. what I . had to."

"No. "

"Shh. listen. you. deserve so much. more. bluebird."

Caitlin bit back the sob that threatened to fill her throat. "Don't leave me."

"You're. not. alone. you're daddy. he. loves you. bluebird."

Caitlin looked into Stephen's eyes as he reached up and wiped a tear from her cheek his hand lingering on her cheek for a moment. "I. love. you. bluebird."

Caitlin's eyes got wide as Stephen's hand fell limply from her cheek and his eyes closed, his head lolling to the side. "Stephen." Caitlin shook her brother and shook her head, "No. Stephen. please." Caitlin rested her head on his chest, lying against him as she had when they were children. Hugging him gently.

Buck moved forward, gently, easing Caitlin into his arms. He motioned for Nathan to wait before he came over. Caitlin fought Buck, wanting to hold onto her brother, believing that if she didn't let go, neither would he. Buck finally eased her into his arms, hugging her tight, "Caitlin. you have to let go. mama's going to take care of him now and they're both going to take care of us."

"I don't want him to go."

"I know. He's always with you, and he loved you. I love you."

Caitlin nodded, looking up at her father. "I love you daddy." Caitlin watched as blackness started to edge around her father's face. "I'm tired." Caitlin murmured before, her head lolled against Buck's chest, her eyes sliding shut.

Buck looked up, "Nathan?"

Nathan came over and knelt down by Caitlin and Buck. "Looks like the bullet went clean through Buck. Might have hit the collarbone and she's lost a lot of blood. Let's get her upstairs."

Buck nodded, gently standing up, with Caitlin in his arms. He paused for a moment. "Chris, keep this one away from the others. We'll give him a proper burial like he deserves."

Chris nodded and motioned to Vin as they gently picked up Stephen and carried him to the coffin maker's.

Chapter 19

Caitlin opened her eyes and looked about, a bit disoriented as to where she was. She smiled at the two figures sleeping in chairs on either side of her bed. She looked over at Buck and moved to touch his hand. Caitlin winced at the movement cause pain to shoot through her arm.

Buck sensed the movement and woke up. He shifted closer to the bed, and touched his daughter's cheek. "Easy now."

Caitlin looked up at her father with sad eyes. "Stephen?"

"I'm sorry darlin'. Nathan couldn't do anything for him."

Caitlin nodded looking down, tears coming to her eyes. Buck watched her, "How are you feeling?"

"My shoulder hurts."

"Your collarbone's broken. You'll have to be still for a while `til it starts healing."

Caitlin nodded and looked over at JD. "Has he been here the whole time?"

"Yeah, stubborn thing. Couldn't get him to leave ya."

"Is he okay?"

"Yeah, he's healing up. Between the two of ya."

Caitlin looked over at her father. "I'm sorry daddy."

"I know baby. You don't have to apologize to anyone."

"I guess I'm gonna have to leave?"

Buck held her hand and stroked her hair from her face. "Nah. Judge Travis put you under Chris's and my custody for the next 5 years. You have to stay in town. Mary said she'd let you keep your job at the Clarion."

"So I don't have to go to jail?"

"No. Judge Travis gave you a lenient sentence based on your assistance."

Caitlin nodded and looked over at JD who stirred from his sleep. Buck smiled kissing his forehead. "I'll leave you two alone. JD needs to talk to you."

Caitlin nodded and watched her father leave. She had this sudden fear that JD was angry with her. She looked away as he woke up.

JD stretched and rubbed his sore neck. He looked over and smiled when he saw Caitlin was awake. He moved to kneel by the bed and took her hand. "Caitlin."

Caitlin bit her lip as she looked over at him.

JD smiled and reached up to touch her cheek. "How are you feeling?"

"Sore and tired. Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm much better now."

"I'm sorry JD."

"For what?" JD stroked her cheek, watching her. Fumbling in his other pocket to get ready.

"For everything. It was all my fault. If I'd only said something at the start."

"You were scared. Besides, you helped us catch him. It was never your fault, you were forced into it."

Caitlin sighed and looked away.

JD gently turned her face so he could look at her. "I love you Caitlin."

Caitlin looked at him, "Even after."

"Even with everything that happened. I love you. I want you to marry me." JD opened the ring box, showing her the ring.

"You want me to." Caitlin looked in disbelief, tears starting to make their way down her cheeks.

JD sat on the bed next to her taking her hand and sliding the ring on her finger. "Yes, I want the honor of being your husband for eternity."

Caitlin looked up at him and nodded. "Yes."

JD leaned down and kissed her gently. "I love you bluebird."

Caitlin closed her eyes as he kissed her gently. She smiled as he pulled back and she looked up at him. "I love you JD."

JD laughed as he heard a loud whoop from outside. He looked up and shook his head. Caitlin smiled and looked up at him and then at the door. She smiled at the two men who had saved her from the misery of an out of control life and shown her the true meaning of love. She had a lot to learn still, but finally she felt she was where she belonged.

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