"IKE..... COME BACK.....IKE, WAIT UP...... IKE, NO!" Buck ran after his friend as he ran through town on his way to the saloon. Buck saw Ike's drawn gun as Ike mounted the stairs and burst through the batwing doors to stop Emily from killing Neville. Buck leapt up the stairs two at a time and dove through the still swinging doors after his best friend. His only thought was that he needed to help Ike. Buck heard guns firing as he collided with Ike just inside the door. He felt a white hot pain shoot through his chest just before he hit the floor. Buck remembered seeing Ike's face and a look of horror on Emily's as Kid arrived and fell to his knees beside Buck.

"Buck, God no, Buck hang on...." Kid continued to speak but Buck gave in to the pain and closed his eyes. He was so cold he felt himself start to shiver and then there was nothing.


"I've done all I can for him Teaspoon" Doc Barnes shook his head. "It don't look good, he's lost a lot of blood."

Ike grabbed the Doc's sleeve and made a few gestures. He had been standing beside Emily holding her hand and caressing her hair as she cried. "God, what have I done? This is all my fault...." She sobbed again as Ike left her side.

Teaspoon glanced at the other riders, they were all worried about Buck, but Ike was pale and his eyes were wide with terror. "Can we see him Doc? Is he awake?" Teaspoon finally asked, almost afraid of the answer.

"He's awake but in a lot of pain; he asked for Ike." The doc turned to Ike. "Go ahead in."

Ike entered the office and headed into the back room where Buck lay covered with a sheet. Ike approached the bed cautiously, Buck looked terrible. His skin had a grayish pallor and his body glistened from the thin sheen of sweat coving him; his hair was plastered to his face and head. A large blood soaked bandage covered the upper left hand side of Buck's chest. Buck's eyes had been closed as Ike neared his side but as soon as Ike touched Buck's face they fluttered open. *Hi, how do you feel?* Ike didn't know what to say.

"It hurts Ike, I'm so cold." Buck weakly managed to say. He saw Ike start to move his hands and Buck grasped one, silencing his friend. "I'm not gonna make it through this...." Ike vigorously shook his head. "I...Ike... promise me you'll burn my body like I told you before" Again Ike shook his head. "Ike... Please..." Buck voice was barely above a whisper and Ike had to lean close to hear him. "Please"

Finally Ike nodded and tried to free his hand so he could talk. He looked at Buck but his eyes were closed; one last time Buck's lips moved and Ike heard his friend's voice.

"Don't let me die alone......bro...th...er...." Buck's hand slowly released Ike's as the life left his body. Ike's tears blurred his vision as he bowed his head touching Buck's forehead with his lips and mouthed the words 'I love you' then he kissed Buck's head and sobbed.

Teaspoon found Ike a few minutes later and put his arm around his mute rider. "I'm sorry son; at least he's not in pain anymore, are you OK?" Teaspoon looked at Ike as he wiped away a tear of his own. Ike nodded. "The others need to say goodbye too, can they come in?" Again Ike nodded.

As the others gathered around Buck's body Ike queitly slipped out of the office and headed for the marshal's office. Neville, the cause of so much pain, was being tended to by the doctor while Barnett looked on.

"Oh it looks like I have a visitor, the Dummy, how wonderful." Neville taunted Ike.

"Ike, how's Buck doing?" Barnett asked. As Neville stood and adjusted his shirt over the bandage the doctor had just put in place. The jail cell door was open and Ike looked at the three men in turn.

Neville pushed past the Doctor and was just picking up his gun off the desk when he looked at Ike.

Ike was fighting back his own tears of sorrow and anger but held his gun steadily pointed at the man who had just killed his best friend.

"Ike?" Barnett looked confused, more so than usual. "Is Buck OK?"

This time Ike shook his head and a tear slipped over his lashes.

"Awe, look at that, the Dummy's crying." Neville taunted. "How touching, get out of my way." Neville shoved Ike sideways and slammed the door behind him as he left. Ike ran to the door and opened it only to find Neville's gun pointed at his face. "It ain't my fault your smart mouthed half breed friend died." Neville laughed but never took another breath.

Ike heard two triggers cock, one still pointed at his face. He began to squeeze the trigger of his own gun but before Neville finished the word died, the man fell violently sideways. Ike's bullet hit the dead man's arm, Neville's gun had jammed. Ike looked into the street and found Jimmy standing there with his smoking gun hanging at his side.

"He was our brother too Ike....." Jimmy's voice was thick with emotion as he too blinked back tears.

They set Buck's funeral pyre to light that evening at sunset.

Email Jo