AN: Instead of taking Jimmy somewhere to die out in the middle of nowhere, in this scenarioCole jumps on his brother'shorse behind him and splits off from the rest of the gang, heading toward help. Let's face it, these guys grew up in the area around Liberty and they know the landscape a lot better than Pinkerton's men. This is probably what they would've done in real life to give Jim at least a chance to survive.

That's right folks, he's got a chance!


"Hold on, Jimmy. Just a little longer. We're almost there," Cole panted as he sprinted up the small incline that lead to Doc Mimms' front porch, his little brother dead weight in his fast tiring arms.

In another couple of seconds his boots were pounding loudly on the wooden porch stairs, and then on the front door as he kicked it as hard as he could.

"Doc! Doc!" he yelled, sounding more desperate than he ever remembered sounding in his life, and that included during the war.

Zee opened the door and just managed to move out of his way as he barreled past her, taking an unconscious Jim straight back to the room where the Doc liked to examine his patients. The Doc came in via the swinging door that attached to the kitchen, looking bewildered and then saddened as he realized that the first of the James-Younger gang had come to his house to die.

Cole quickly laid Jim down on the wooden table in the center of the room, but still gripped the upper portion of his brother's arm with one hand, finding himself reluctant to let go. "You've got to help him, you've got to save him, Doc! I'll do anything, just tell me what you need and I'll kill anyone to get it!"

The Doc hadn't ever been a very forward man, but as a doctor he knew his craft. And that knowledge and assuredness in his ability was what allowed him to harden his features and, for the briefest moment, become the disciplinarian of a father that Cole had been sorely lacking since he was fourteen.

He grabbed the stress-haggard young outlaw standing before him and with more strength than he'd possessed for many years he tore the oldest Younger boy away from the smallest one, forcing him out the door.

Once outside, Mimms gave him a firm shake to make sure he had Cole's attention. "Now you listen to me, Coleman Younger. That boy in there was born in this house, and unless you want him to die here you must stay away from this room until I tell you different. I cannot have you distracting me. Understand, son?"

The stocky young man nodded, his eyes on the floor because he didn't want the Doc to see the tears that were overwhelming him. He was too choked to speak.

"Zee, take care of him," the Doc ordered. His daughter had been standing with pause in the background of the front parlor, watching and feeling helpless all the while. As soon as she had a job to do she took to it immediately, stepping forward to wrap one arm around Cole's so she could gently guide him over to the couch to sit down while her father marched purposely back to the sick room to try to salvage whatever could be saved.

He went with her willingly, seeming to be stunned by shock. Once she got him settled, Zee sat next to him on the soft cushions, one hand on his thick shoulder while the other made soothing circles across the stress-taunt muscles of his back. He was slumped forward, his face covered by two trembling hands as sobs racked him at irregular intervals.

As she picked her brain for something comforting to say she realized that she didn't know him as well as the others. She'd been sweet on Jesse and Bob when they were children because they'd been her age, the three of them had grown up together, sitting next to each other in school everyday. Frank and Cole had always just been Jess and Bob's older brothers, and while she'd always had fond memories of quiet Frank sitting off in a corner reading some book, the only memories she had of Coleman were of his tall tales, his attempts at singeing her braids with a branding iron, and the time she caught him groping her best friend Jenny out behind the church after Christmas services just a few short months before the Liberty Boys left for war.

He'd always been a mean but attractive boy, beating on his brothers and anyone else stupid enough to get in his way. Girls of all types, both bad and good, had flocked to him for as long as Zee could remember, and she'd never stopped to wonder if all the violence and bloodshed had changed him over the years.

Apparently something had worked a miracle on him. He'd had just about everyone in and around Liberty Missouri convinced that he didn't care a fig if either of his brothers dropped dead. He'd threatened to do the deed himself on a number of occasions. Now that Jimmy was dying, though, he was a mess.

"Shh, it's gonna be all right, Cole. I promise," she said, trying to soothe a man who was obviously inconsolable.

He shook his head, roughly trying to wipe the dampness from his eyes. "No, it's not. It should be me in there on that table dying, not Jimmy. He's just a boy. He ain't never even killed a man or been with a woman and he's dying cause of my Goddamn pride! I'll kill every soul the railroad depends on for this. I'll kill Rains, I'll kill Parker, I'll fucking kill Pinkerton and every deputy he has! I won't stop until they're all dead for what they done to my family!" he seethed, his fist banging down on the coffee table in front of him as his anger slowly burned away his tears.

Zee finally realized that the rust color on his hands wasn't dirt from the trail, it was Jimmy's blood. Cole was covered with it.

His sharp blues eyes followed her stare to the unnatural coloring that was just beginning to dry, clinging tightly under his nails and to his skin in some places and flaking off in others. He jerked his arm from her light touch, his silent death-glare turning back onto her and Zee wondered if she was wrong about him. Perhaps the rumors were true that Cole Younger had run so wild that he was nothing more than the man sketched on all the wanted posters.

Maybe he really was nothing but a thief and a murderer.

"You still goin' with Jesse, Zerelda?" he asked coldly. "Cause if ya are, you should know that he told me not to do this job. Jim's life is completely on my hands. The merciful thing would've been to stand him up against a wall and shoot him myself. At least then he would've died quick. I'm sure if my cousin had been the leader, he would've pulled off the robbery and nobody would've gotten hurt.

"So thank God every morning and every night, Zee. Thank the Almighty that you fell in love with Jesse James instead of a dog like me," he growled before standing, stomping out of the room and out of the house, his anger and hurt following close in his wake and darkening everything it touched.