Disclaimer: I do not own Artie or James, and am not making a profit from the writting of this.
Warning: Minor language, character death. No episode spoilers.
A/N: Hugs for cattylizzie for beta'ing this, and for amusing me when she exclaimed "Jim without a hat? I just can't picture him without his hat!"
"You can't do this Jim," Artie said in frustration. He might have been talking to a brick wall for all the response he was getting. Jim ignored him, turned away to face the door, and pulled down the hidden gun rack.
"For once in your life won't you listen to me?" But Jim never listened, not once his mind was made up. If Artie could catch him at the right moment, before a plan was fully formed, he could make suggestions. Trying to stop Jim once a plan was made, though, was like deciding on the spur of the moment that the train should turn left into the river. It wouldn't happen.
"This is the most hair-brained scheme you have ever come up with." Helpless, Artie watched as Jim fitted a pistol into the mechanism inside his coat sleeve and another into the holster at his waist. Knives went into his boot, the back of his jacket, and up his other sleeve. He paused only slightly when it came to choosing a rifle, his hand squeezing the barrel of one and then another as if making sure they wouldn't collapse under the pressure. Not seeming content with either one he picked a third. Once he had it in hand he slammed the rack back into hiding with enough force to make the walls of the train vibrate.
"James, my boy, you are going to explode if you don't take a breath. Why don't you come into the parlor and sit down while I pour us a couple of drinks." Artie was relieved when Jim headed in the right direction, but dismayed to see that he avoided the couch or decanter. Instead he riffled through the drawers of the sideboard where Artie stored some of his more explosive inventions. An exploding watch went into his vest pocket, a canvas bag of doctored tobacco was slipped into the silk lining of his coat, and he held ball of crying gas in his hands.
"There have to be fifty men at the hacienda. You're the best fighter I've ever had the pleasure of watching in action, but not even you can take on fifty men at once. The cavalry's less than a day's ride from here; wait for them." More than the small arsenal that Jim was now wearing, Artie was bothered by what he didn't have. There was no lock pick under his lapel. He wore no disguise, not even a hat or mustache. There was nothing hidden away in the heels of his shoes to aid in an escape. It was almost as if he...
"No. God damn it James, you're not going to prove anything by going out there and getting yourself killed." Artie couldn't hide the desperation in his voice, but he didn't care. Jim was facing him now, and there was a look in his partner's eyes that Artie had never seen there before. It was a look he had seen on the faces of men on a battlefield resigned to the fact that they would never see their families again, men on their way to gallows, and once on the face of a woman just before the undertow of a river pulled her under.
"Please, Jim." Artie reached for the younger man whose hand was already on the door. He never used force against Jim, not unless they were training or the roles they played during missions necessitated it. He wanted to this time, though; wanted to do anything to stop Jim from leaving the train.
His hand covered Jim's, and then like smoke passed through it. Damn.
"I've got one more to take care of, Artie." James West turned back to look at the empty railroad car for the last time. "And then I'll be joining you."
There was nothing Artie could do but stand in the open doorway and watch as Jim rode his horse west into the sunset.