Disclaimer I own very little, especially not CSI NY. But I wish I did.

Notes A new adventure! Just can't stop writing. The plan is… well, I don't entirely know yet, but the idea is each chapter from a different character's point of view, so everyone gets a turn, and anything could happen! I love Westerns, and I love CSI NY, so here's an AU set in the Wild West…

Thanks to: ImasupernaturalCSI for suggesting Danny's role; notesofwimsey for looking through the first chapter; Shining Zephyr and Blue Shadowdancer amongst others for discussions : ) Title comes from a song by Paula Cole, chapter title from Cowboy Dreams

Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?

Chapter 1: You're Looking at the Law


Never thought this'd be the place I'd spend my days. From the greatest city in the Midwest, to one of the smallest small towns in the far West. In a land of sunsets that can break your heart, and women that can do the same. Not exactly what I'd had planned as a young greenhorn fresh outta college, ending up as Sheriff of Hattanville. But life takes you unexpected journeys, so here I am, and here's where I mean to stay. In a town small enough for a man to know every other man's business, and where strangers ride in and usually ride right back out again. Even the railroad forgot about us until twenty years ago; after every other two cent town was connected. They joined us up in the end though, and if you ride those rails for long enough they'll take you all the way to the big city on the edge of the Atlantic.

So we got the railroad now, but it doesn't mean we're troubled by crowds of sagebrushers, and that suits us folks. I prefer to keep my town out of trouble, and too many people means too much trouble. Population sign says two hundred fifty at the last count, so overcrowding's never been a problem, 'cept maybe Friday nights in the Star Saloon, always a favourite of the gentlemen of the town. Gentlemen being a loose term for some of the cowpokes that hang around off of the dude ranches. Get's a little rough in there sometimes when they got bills in their pockets; someone looks at someone else the wrong way, pistols are drawn, tables knocked over, and you got a brawl on your hands. Don and I take a stroll down there most nights, just to keep an eye out for the worst troublemakers. Not that Stella ever needs anyone to keep an eye on her, or the bar when she's there.

Miss Stella Bonasera, proprietor of the finest, and only, bar in town. Never met a woman like her, before or since. This sure isn't a town for women, not much of a place for displaying silk and poplin fashions, but she's made it her own. And face her up against even our most Wanted Dead or Alive, and I swear she'd send him running for the hills cryin' for his ma. Handles a pistol like a man, and she'll shoot you down with a word if she chooses. Quite a woman. If Don Flack weren't the Deputy he is, and it weren't sorta frowned on, I'd offer her the position, no question about it. He's a damn fine man though, Don. Honest through and through. His pa was Sheriff before me, and it's my hope that Flack jr. takes over when it's time to hang up my star.

Women though; there certainly aren't a whole lot of 'em in Hattanville. It's a town for men. And there aren't many who can survive living here any length of time, so they'll tell you over three too many sour mashes. Something about this place, something about the soil and the sand along Main Street and the pollen storms in July. It can get into men's hearts, dry 'em cruel and hard as nails. Leastways, that's how Stella put it to me one Friday a coupla' years back after the sawdust on the bar floor had soaked up more blood than usual. As I recall it, it was a Friday not long after the first evening Daniel Messer showed his face in Hattanville. Caused quite a stir that did, folks still talk about it on quiet afternoons out on their porches.

The town'd heard talk of him even before he rode in on the mangiest Appaloosa I'd ever laid eyes on this side of Idaho. Flack and I had known him before he came here. His not so pretty face had been in danger of decorating state posters only a few years earlier with a nice little bounty on his hide. Almost wanted for cattle rustling out back in Jackson Hole, got himself mixed up in an outfit doing over the ranches. But, gotta give the young man his due, he got himself fixed up straight and came over to the right side of the law after we had some conversation. I'd known his father and brother years back which carried no small weight.

Not everyone of course was happy to see him that day, tying up outside the only hotel in town, his reputation preceding him as it did. And trouble started the moment he pushed his way through the doors of the saloon. Don and I were in there already and I swear you coulda' heard a pin fall as he swaggered up to the bar, dropping a wink to Stella. Never a wise move.

"What's a beautiful lady like you doin' in a two bit bar like this?" Was his opening line as he leaned up an elbow and removed his hat. Don and I held our breath.

Stella smiled the most dangerous smile I've ever seen, sorta' reminded me of a rattler about to strike, and leaned her own elbow on the bar, "Well, sir, it just so happens I own this two bit bar, so if you wanna make yourself popular, I suggest you head right back outta those doors, and come back in when you're ready to apologise. Got it?"

Before Messer even had time to think about it, his hat was jammed right back on his head, and his boots were taking him back the way he'd come in. Don was about ready to bust with laughter, and I was hiding a smile. Stella, on the other hand, was blazing. Her eyes kinda' shoot sparks when she's real pissed off. Somewhere in the depths of the saloon a voice called out somethin' about no good soft city boys, and next thing we knew, Messer had his gun in his hand and was about to start his own shoot out.

"Say what? You wanna say that to my face, huh, cowboy, do ya?"

It all went quiet. Don and I had our hands on our own weapons as a chair fell back and the cowboy in question got to his feet; Huck Cassidy, one of the meanest men in town, and exactly the wrong kind to pick a fight with. Little did Messer know that of course, but he was about to.

Nobody breathed for all of five seconds. You could smell the tension in the bar even over the bourbon. Messer's hand twitched, Huck's finger curled. And then there was the click of a barrel and Stella had both of 'em in her sights.

"You two boys had better get your sorry asses outta my bar before I throw you out those doors myself. Move it!" No one moved. She gave them a second, and then with a flicker of her eyelashes, she pulled the trigger and Cassidy found himself with a nice, neat hole in his nice, new hat.

"Now, move out sweet and fast," She told them in a voice that made even the bottles above the bar tremble, "Or I put the next hole through your forehead." All of us knew that she spoke nothin' less than the truth. Both men moved, fast, and we re-holstered our guns as the doors swung to behind them.

"Nice shootin', Stell." Don raised his eyebrows, and drained his glass, "Remind me never to stand in front of you and a Smith and Wesson."

She shrugged and put the pistol back into the folds of her skirt, "Had it comin', both of 'em. Gotta have some way of teaching these boys to mind their manners. That little bullet hole should go some way to cooling down his hot head. If I hadn't promised his wife I'd keep an eye on him, Cassidy'd never darken my doors again. Least in here I know what he's up to, and she gets a rest from his fists."

"Just be careful, Stella." I warned her, knowing even as I said it what her answer'd probably be, "He's not a man to have as your enemy."

"Mac, I appreciate your concern, however, I know enough to know that by the time morning comes, Huck Cassidy will have drunk enough to sink a ship, and he ain't gonna remember a thing about what just happened." She winked at me, and slid another tumbler along the bar in Flack's direction, "The other man, on the other hand, well, I got a feeling this won't be the last heap of trouble we see him in."

And that was before he'd even laid eyes on Lindsay Monroe. Daniel Messer and trouble. How right Stella's proved to be, something she never ceases to remind me of. However, as it's turned out, Danny's troubles are far from the only ones in this small town. Looks like today's gonna have its fair share of 'em too. It's only just noon and Hammerback's come into the office, tape measure in hand. Not that he needs one. I swear to God, the man measures you up with his eyes for one of his pine boxes every time you cross the street. Still, he's got a good heart inside that thin frame and it's nothin' less than our duty to hear him out.

"Taylor," He says, and I can see his eyes blink behind his spectacles, "I've come to you on a matter of some urgency. It seems we have a thief in town." Removing his spectacles, he stares limpidly at me, "Yes, a thief. And not your normal kind of theft either. Someone has stolen one of my customers from right out of his coffin."

The only sound is Don's jaw dropping open.

What do you think? I'd love to know, so please review! More up soon. Lily x