Another Day, Another Dollar M7 OW

The seven peacekeepers were seated at their usual table in the saloon, sipping coffee. Ezra had just joined them and Inez put the gambler's breakfast down. The chestnut haired figure was carrying his second bite of eggs to his mouth when shouts from outside broke the morning quiet, followed by gunshots.

Chris sighed and set his cup down. The blond slid back his chair and rose gracefully to his feet, one hand pulling his hat up by the stampede string and settling it on his head. Cool green eyes flicked around the table.

"Alright boys. Looks like it's gonna be one of those days. Let's go."

Standish looked longingly at his plate. He was up at this God-forsaken hour to eat, not corral miscreants.

"Is my presence really necessary? How many are out there anyway?"

JD poked his head out, careful to stay behind the doorframe.

"Uh… only five Ez."

Purple jacketed shoulders shrugged. "Well, in that case, I believe you gentlemen can handle the situation quite handily without me. I shall be finishing my breakfast if you really have need of my services."

Dunne had started outside, but popped back in. Chris, Buck, Vin, Josiah, and Nathan were all checking their guns as they gathered at the front. JD took his bowler off and slapped his other hand with it.

"Sorry, Ezra. That's old man Claxton out there. He's got his four sons with him."

Buck made a face and lowered his pistol. "Well, there goes our advantage. We may have 'em outgunned, but they outweigh us by about a hundred pounds total."

Vin shook his head. "Yeah, and unless we pick 'em off from here, ya know when we go out there to run 'em outta town, they're gonna start swingin'."

Nathan began searching for his medical bag. "And last time they come in, I used up all my bandages and iodine and that oldest boy Jake made me spill half my carbolic when he punched me in the chin while I was tryin' to clean out that knife wound."

Josiah grinned as he slid his gun back into his holster.

"Well, to be fair brother Nate, you did give him the knife wound so he was a mite upset with you."

Standish sighed and laid down his fork.

"Why can't criminally minded cretins at least wait until a decent hour to descend upon us?" grumbled the smooth Southern tones. Standing, he brushed off his jacket sleeves and then tested his derringer to make sure the mechanism was working smoothly.

"Alright, gentlemen. Lead on. Perhaps we can get this over with before my food becomes inedible." His emerald ring flashed as he pulled his Remington from the holster at his hip. JD pulled both of his Lightnings. Taking deep breaths, the seven exited the saloon and advanced on the five large men who were firing wildly into the sky.

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Chris moved to the middle of the street, one hand on the bone handle of his Colt. The icy green gaze fixed on the oldest of the group before him. His weight was balanced lightly on the balls of his feet, so that he was ready to swivel whichever way necessary.

"Ike, you boys been up drinkin' all night again?"

The gray-headed figure turned bleary eyes on the tall form only six feet or so away from him. He'd never figured out how Larabee seemed to just materialize sometimes. With those spurs he always wore, it should have been easy to hear him coming. The expected black pants and boots covered the long legs, a light gray shirt straining across the broad chest. The early sunlight glinted on the silver trim of the gunman's gunbelt and spur harnesses, and the ebony hat shaded the piercing gaze. Ike blinked a couple of times to try to distinguish which of the hazy outlines he saw was the real Larabee.

"None 'a your business, Gunfighter!" he growled in annoyance. Why couldn't a feller just have a good time without these do-gooders tryin' to ruin everything?

"I'm paid to help keep the peace, so yeah… it is my business. You boys put the guns up, get on your horses and head on out of town."

Ike eyed the .45 on the lean figure's hip. He might be drunk, but he wasn't drunk enough to even think about taking Larabee on in a gunfight. Slowly he slid his pistol back into his holster. Motioning to his sons who were watching the other six lawmen with jaundiced gazes, he told them to put up their weapons as well.

Chris nodded. "Alright, get your horses and get out of town. Don't come back until you've sobered up."

The five men started toward the livery, but then with a shared look, they split up and each headed toward one of the seven.

Bellowing like an angry bull, Ike ducked his head and plowed toward Larabee, propelling both of them into one of the hitching posts, which shattered under the impact. Chris whirled to keep from getting flattened under the older man's massive body and sent a wicked right into his ribs. The blow added to the momentum Ike already had going, and the large form crashed to the sidewalk with a howl of rage. Climbing back up with surprising speed, he found himself face to face with the blond's Peacemaker.

Instead of giving up, he dove for the lean form's legs and sent the gunman sliding on his back through the batwing doors of the saloon. Chris came to rest against one of the tables. He shook his head, then jumped to his feet before Ike could pin him to the ground. The bigger man raised a meaty fist, ready to smash it into Larabee's face. Not relishing having his nose look like ground chuck, the tall figure fired his gun into the air above his head. Claxton stopped in surprise, then looked at the pistol which was now pointed directly at his heart.

"Enough, Ike. You don't really want to die here today do you?"

A flicker of sobriety entered the watery brown eyes. Shaking his shaggy head, he lowered his hand.

"No, don't reckon I do at that."

"Alright, you can sleep it off in the jail." Chris motioned with the Colt and the older form proceeded him out the door.

They barely made it onto the boardwalk, when Vin's body came staggering toward them, followed by Ike's eldest son. Chris put his free hand out and caught the tracker by the shoulder, bringing him to a halt. Tanner nodded his thanks, then sprinted forward to meet Jake Claxton, sweeping one booted foot into the bigger form's legs.

Jake went down like a rock, falling into the nearby water trough. Water splashed upwards like a geyser, soaking everything around it, including Vin, Chris, and Ike.

"God damn it, Jake! I was just gettin' sober, ya didn't have to drown me too!" complained the older man with a shake of his fist at his son. Jake was spitting and sputtering as he pushed up from the trough, water streaming from his hair and beard. Vin waded through the puddle now making mud of that part of the street and grabbed Jake by his collar.

"Come on. Reckon ya can bunk with your pa in a cell 'till ya dry out." rasped Tanner. One hand kept hold of Jake's jacket while the other rubbed his swelling jaw where the big fist had hit and sent him stumbling into Chris.

The four of them started toward the sheriff's office on the other side of the street, only to nearly be knocked off their feet by Buck and Joe Claxton. The pair were literally rolling in the dirt, each one trying to get the upper hand as they wrestled. Joe had at least twenty pounds on Wilmington, but the ladies' man was more agile, so the pair kept swapping positions as they struggled for dominance.

When the duo headed for him, Chris jumped over them to keep from being being entangled in the flying arms and legs. Ike looked like he was going to run, but the icy gaze and Larabee's .45 stopped him. Vin and Jake side-stepped the moving battle, the sharpshooter never losing his hold on the other man's coat. The two peacekeepers watched for a minute, but Buck was now on top and getting ready to slug Joe on the chin, so they decided the lanky brunet could take care of things. Prodding their prisoners, they moved on toward the jail.

Buck grabbed Joe by the front of his shirt and reared back. A powerful fist connected with the larger man's chin and he wilted in Wilmington's grasp. Shaking his hand, the lanky form rose and stood over the prone figure. Motioning to Jackson, who was standing nearby, Buck bent over.

"Nathan, help me get ol' Joe here to the jail before he comes to. He's like wrestlin' a steer. We already knocked over a barrel of ax handles at Watson's and broke a step goin' up onto the boardwalk."

Jackson nodded and grabbed one arm and leg of the limp form while Buck got the other. Following Chris and Vin, they trudged to the other side of the street.

About the time they got to the sidewalk, JD sprinted past hot on the heels of the youngest Claxton boy, Jimmy. Buck and Nathan had to juggle their burden as they tried to get out of the way, nearly dropping Joe on his ass before they got their handholds back.

Running down the street, JD put on a burst of speed to catch his quarry before the other got away. Reaching out one hand, he went to grab for the neck of Jimmy's vest. The heavier form jerked backward, then lurched to the side and pulled away. Dunne made a flying leap, landing on the taller figure's back. The two of them fell forward, hitting the window in the front of Mrs. Potter's store. Glass crashed as the pair toppled inside, eliciting a scream from the widow as she looked up in shock.

JD climbed off of his quarry and pulled one of his guns.

"Sorry, Miz Potter!"

Grabbing Jimmy by the arm, he tugged him up as well. Motioning with the pistol, he herded the now scratched and bleeding man outside and toward the jail. Jimmy could share a cell with his brother Joe until Chris decided whether to keep them or let them go once they sobered up.

Part way there, Ezra came flying into the dirt of the street almost at the two figures' feet. Letting out an annoyed grunt, the gambler pushed himself up with one arm, then paused to slap the dust off of his sleeves. Seeing Jerry Claxton weaving his way to the saloon, Standish sprinted after him. Grabbing the larger man by the arm, he swung him around and sent a wicked left into his stomach. Staggering back, Jerry got Ezra's lapels and pulled the smaller figure inside with him.

The duo traded punches for a few minutes, Standish grimacing when he heard his coat rip as Jerry sent him stumbling into the bar. When the heavy figure came plowing toward him like an enraged buffalo, he jumped over the barrier and ducked as the bigger man hit the wood and slid across, landing next to him with a thud. Jerry's head banged into the wall behind them, sending bottles crashing down around them both. Claxton went out like a light, broken glass covering his back and spilled whisky staining his clothes and Standish's.

The gambler muttered "Good Lord" as he stood up. Putting one hand on the wall, he took a moment to get his breath. When he went to push away, the stuffed duck that hung on the wall came tumbling down and struck him on the head. Blinking in surprise, he looked at the offending object in annoyance. Now wet, scratched, sore, and annoyed, he popped out his derringer and fired at the duck, sending it bouncing into the prone Jerry. Nodding in satisfaction, he straightened and began picking glass out of his hair.

Josiah came running in, stopping in amazement at the sight of a dripping and bedraggled Ezra. Just as the preacher moved forward, the smaller form rested one hand on the bar top and vaulted over, grimacing as his now sore back protested the action.

Drawing his dignity around him, Standish motioned behind the bar.
"Mr. Sanchez, since you managed to avoid getting embroiled in this altercation, perhaps you can carry this refuse to the jail to join the rest of his family?"

Without waiting for an answer, he moved over to sit in front of his now very cold breakfast.

Josiah looked on bemusedly for a moment, then he went around the bar and pulled Jerry to his feet. Heaving the now moaning man across one broad shoulder, he headed toward the door.

"Uh, Ez…?"

The gambler turned to look at him.

"I don't believe I'm needed to incarcerate this imbecile. Please inform our illustrious leader that I will give my statement shortly."

He pulled out his flask and poured a shot into his tepid coffee. Inez had gone out the back when the seven peacekeepers first headed out the door, and apparently she had no desire to come back until everything quieted down.

Sanchez stood there a minute, then carried his burden out the door and across to the jail.

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About thirty minutes later, the other six re-entered the saloon. Moving to their table, they resumed their previous seats. Standish carried over a fresh pot of coffee and filled everyone's cup. Offering his flask, he wasn't surprised when Larabee, Tanner, and Wilmington each took him up on the offer and poured a shot of the imported scotch into their beverage. JD went behind the bar to get himself a mug of milk, tripping over the stuffed fowl as he did so.

Picking it up, he carried it with him back to the table.

"What happened to this?" he asked in confusion.

Standish rubbed his head with his free hand as he took his seat. The pernicious bird had actually left a knot under his hair.

"That damned duck had to go. It was either it or me." he informed with a scowl at the offending object.

Vin picked it up and examined the hole in the middle of it.

"Good shot, Pard."

"Atrocious. I was tryin' to blow it's head off, but Jerry was in the way."

Tanner put the bird down and and looked up as a few splinters of wood rained down on the table in front of him.

"Somebody's gotta fix the roof, too." The sky blue eyes flicked to Larabee, who just shrugged.

"And Mrs. Potter's window." added JD a bit guiltily as he took a sip of his milk.

Nathan looked up. "Speakin' of Miz Potter, I've gotta remember to get some more carbolic. Used the last of it on Joe and Jerry."

Buck rubbed his sore knuckles reflexively at the mention of the two. "Think I nearly broke my fingers on Joe's chin. Man's got a jaw like an anvil!"

Chris turned to Sanchez. "Better wire the Judge, Josiah. Tell him we've got a full house. If we just let 'em go, those boys will keep doin' this every month."

A soft moan escaped the gambler.

"Oh, Lord. Please, no! My wardrobe can't take this recurrin' abuse."

Tanner rubbed his swollen cheek. "Ta hell with your wardrobe Ez, my face cain't take this recurrin' abuse." He tried for a smile, but it came out lopsided. Pushing back his chair, the slender form stood.

"Reckon I better get on patrol. Make sure there ain't anyone else plannin' on comin' in and raisin' hell."

"I'd prefer to go back to my feather bed." mumbled Standish with a grimace.

Chris shook his head as he too rose. "Sorry, Ezra. We've still got to get through the rest of the day."

Vin turned and winked at the chestnut-haired figure.

"And then tomorrow's another day."

Emerald eyes rolled at both men as the gambler got to his own feet.

"Oh, yay. Another day, another dollar!"

By DMA