A Hunting We Will Go

By: Niteowl

Notes This started as a set of drabbles, but it lost a lot trying to keep each one 100 words So I'm joining the ranks of the Insta-fic Thanks to Meredith for starting them out for us.

"Just go!" the gunfighter exclaimed, rolling his eyes in exasperation at the man practically hopping from one foot to the other in front of him.

"Are you sure?" his oldest friend asked.

"Positive," Chris insisted. "I'll get Ezra to watch the jail. You wouldn't be much help anyway. Go on, they can't be that far ahead of you."

"Thanks, Chris." The other man smiled as he mounted his gray horse, reining around and heading out of town in a gallop.

Chris shook his head, wondering if he was doing any of them a favor by letting Buck go after Vin and JD.


The handsome ladies man followed the trail traveled by his two friends, whistling as he cantered along. He and Vin had been planning JD's first deer hunt for weeks. The day finally came and he almost missed it when he had to stay and watch the jail until Chris and Josiah got back from looking for an escaped prisoner from Eagle Bend believed to be in their area.

Buck slowed as he neared the wooded area he knew Vin was taking JD to, and he went the rest of the way quietly. Without warning, a shot rang out. Buck found himself tumbling out of the saddle. As he lay unmoving and face down on the ground, blood began pooling under his head.


"Keep it steady," the tracker said softly. "Now, when you see him come back out between those trees, squeeze the trigger slowly."

Vin saw JD nod, never taking his eyes off the stand of trees where the deer had disappeared into. Then there it was a flash of tan and JD pulled the trigger. Vin saw the rifle recoil into JD's shoulder and heard the loud report in his ears. He looked over at JD in surprise as it sounded like the shot echoed back at them. Then he watched the object of his friend's shot disappear from view as it seemed to drop to the ground.

"Good shot, kid," Vin said with a grin. "Let's go get him."

"I got him!" the younger man crowed.

They scrambled down the side of the rocky mound, making their way to the grove of trees. JD was practically walking on air. Vin stopped so suddenly that JD almost ran into the back of him. His friend was staring at the ground in front of him, not moving, not even breathing as far as JD could see.

When he looked past Vin, JD's blood turned to ice. "Buck!" he called, falling to his knees at his `big brother's' side. `Please, God,' JD prayed silently, `Please tell me I didn't just kill my best friend.' He didn't notice Vin looking around in concern.


The preacher heard the sound of running horses almost the same time he heard the panicked voice of his young friend.

"Nathan!" he heard JD cry, "Buck's hurt!"

Josiah stepped out of the saloon. "Nathan's not here," he called out. "He's out at the Morgan's, the baby's on its way."

He moved quickly to them, getting close just as JD let Buck slip off his horse into Vin's waiting arms. Josiah took the unconscious man's shoulders and helped Vin carry him into the healer's clinic. Settling Buck on the bed, Josiah looked around for bandages and antiseptic. He would do what he could until Nathan's return.

"Please don't die," he heard JD whisper.


The healer made his way slowly from the livery. After a long night, Elizabeth's baby was born just before dawn.  His eyes narrowed at the sight of horses tied to the hitching rail in front of his clinic. He knew the horses and the men that rode them.

He bounded up the stairs and into the room. His heart sank at the sight before him. Buck was pale and motionless in the bed, a bandage around his head; JD was at his side.

"I am so glad you're back, brother," Josiah said, holding out the bottle of carbolic he had been using to clean the wound.

"What happened?" Nathan asked.

"I shot Buck," JD replied broken-heartedly.

When the younger man didn't offer any further explanation, Nathan went to work on their friend.


The gambler met Vin just as he was just coming out of the jail. Ezra noticed Vin had both their horses tied to the hitching post.

"Come on, Ezra," he called out. "I need a little help."

With no more objection than a shrug, Ezra mounted and followed Vin out of town. They made their way back to the stand of trees where Vin and JD found Buck. Vin had dismounted and was searching the ground intently.

"What exactly are we looking for, Mister Tanner?" he asked.

"One, no way JD made that kind o' mistake," Vin replied without looking up. "And two, where's Buck's horse?"

Vin suddenly pointed to a dark object on the ground, almost hidden behind a tree. "There's the deer he shot!"


Chris came out of the jail as Vin and Ezra rode back into town, Vin leading Buck's big gray. They came to a stop in front of the undertaker's, dismounted together and the tracker went inside. It took only a moment before the undertaker came out and retrieved the body slung across Buck's saddle. By that time, Josiah was walking toward them from the church. They moved as one toward Nathan's clinic. Chris opened the door and stood back while the others went inside first. He'd been up to see Buck a little while ago and knew he was in good hands.

"How is he?" Vin asked.

Nathan looked up, smiling. "He'll be okay."

"Mister Dunne," Ezra explained, coming to stand in front of the forlorn figure. "You did not shoot our resident scoundrel. The miscreant we just delivered into the hands of the undertaker is the same escaped prisoner from Eagle Bend that we were searching for earlier. He alone is responsible for Mister Wilmington's injury."

JD just looked at him in confusion.

"We found the deer you shot, then we found Buck's tracks. When we followed the trail, we found him," Vin continued. "He just didn't want to give up. Best I can figure, he just showed up same time as Buck did and wanted his horse. It was just dumb luck that he shot the same time you did."

Josiah smiled at JD's heart-felt sigh.

"Thanks, guys," JD said gratefully.

Everyone's attention turned to their injured friend as his blue eyes fluttered open.

"Welcome back, pard," Chris said with a small smile.

THE END short and sweet!

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