His boots made little sound as he moved across the red dirt, the sun baking the land and burning into his back. One foot in front of the other in small, dragging steps as his eyes covered the ground. There weren't really any tracks to follow - except for the occasional snake track; a furrow in the ground in a wavy or straight line, depending on the species and its moving pattern - but he was a good tracker and he wanted so badly for them to be there. He needed confirmation and he needed to be heading in the right direction because, as proven earlier, he didn't afford any detours. The air was still, no breeze, which was a perfect condition for tracking but it didn't help when there were no tracks to follow. Well, at least not from the one he needed to be tracking. It was hot also. Way too hot. And all his water was gone, the leather pouch hanging from his horse's saddle, dry and empty. He needed water so desperately but tried not to think about it too much. He'd gone without water before, and for longer periods of time. But he couldn't help feeling a little sorry for himself AND his horse as the animal neighed weakly, its throat surely as dry as his. They'd been through a lot together - that horse and him – and he loved the son of a bitch. They'd crossed the lands of the desert a hundred times together; they had travelled in rain and draught; through freezing cold nights and scorching hot days.
He'd been in pursuit for over a week now on the back of his trusty mustang, following in the path of chaos and destruction, and he was tired. The last couple of days had been hard. The trail got colder and colder the further out into the desert he came and now standing in the middle of nowhere in scorching heat the trail was colder than ever.
He took his eyes off the ground for a second to squint at the sun.
"C'mon boy," he said softly to the horse and pulled the rein slightly as he urged the horse forward. "We need to get out from under the sun."
There really was nowhere for them to go though. There were a couple of dried out bushes about four or five foot tall nearby but with the sun high in the sky they couldn't offer any shade whatsoever. He sighed. Shitty luck - it was enough to give a guy a headache.
One could move almost soundlessly across the red dirt and so when the order was suddenly barked from behind him, he was actually caught quite off guard. He spun around to find a gun trained on him. Damn shitty luck!
"Remove your gun from your holster," the other man ordered and cocked his gun.
Then…"Now drop it! And don't try anything stupid, Winchester."
The other man was a complete stranger to him. He was good with faces and he was pretty sure they had never met before. But the other guy knew his name and it could only mean one thing. Maybe it was the heat or the fact that he'd been without water and sleep for so long, but as he dropped his gun to the ground he could've sworn the other man was smiling.
- o -
She was seventeen when her mom died and life as she knew it was over. Her father was the town sheriff and constantly put in the line of danger and she'd grown up used to the fact that they could lose him. While her dad spent most of his waking hours in town working, she and her mom had lead a quiet life at the family house, far away from anything that could pose a threat to them. Peace and safety became her way of life and so when suddenly her mom fell ill with an unknown ailment and died she was nowhere near prepared. And after her mom's death everything changed.
Her father was a man of the law and a dedicated one at that but he was also a family man who loved his daughter. When his wife died it became clear to him that in order to keep his daughter alive and safe he would have to keep her close. This meant moving into town, close to the sheriff's office, so he could keep an eye on her. And whenever he had to leave town for work, she would have to go with him.
This was the reason she was now in the middle of the desert in the company of several law men. This was also the reason why she witnessed the capture of one of the most dangerous outlaws of the west.
Riddick, their tracker, returned to their camp with this outlaw, this prisoner, at gunpoint.
"Somebody get a rope and help me tie him up," Riddick said, his eyes trained on his captive the entire time he spoke. He seemed nervous and kind of skittish and the way he shifted his weight between his legs indicated the level of threat posed on them even before her father's deputy cried "You caught a Winchester!".
She noticed then the similarities between the guy before her and the Winchester whose face had been illustrated on every Most Wanted poster in the state. Dean Winchester was wanted dead or alive for robbery and murder and several other offences and the reward for his capture was 3000 dollars. 'The Winchester Gang' was infamous and they'd just caught one of them.
"Get a rope from my saddle bag, Annie," her father instructed, "and then throw it to me."
She did as she was told and then watched in silence as her father and Riddick tied Dean Winchester's arms behind his back. He didn't fight them, didn't even make a sound and it all seemed so easy. Afterward he was pushed to the ground, three guns trained on him, while Riddick bragged about his easy capture and the 3000 that would soon be theirs.
- o -
There was nothing about this hunt that had been easy and Dean cursed inwardly as soon as he realized his mistake. He'd been too busy tracking to cover his own tracks. With his mind occupied on the impending apocalypse, he'd forgotten he was wanted by the law for a second and let his guard down. It was unprofessional and stupid and his dad would've scolded him for it. It didn't really matter what people thought or what happened to him anymore but now was not the time for this. He couldn't afford any detours. Not now.
The guy that pointed the gun at him didn't wear a badge and he didn't have to. He advanced on Dean, screaming at him to keep his hands where he could see them, and all Dean could think about was how that fool trampled all over the ground, diminishing every trace of the thing Dean was pursuing. He was about to tell the man that, after he'd decked him but stopped dead in his tracks when the guy pointed the gun at his horse and pulled the trigger.
"Don't you fucking move!" the man yelled and, shocked, Dean took a step back, hands raised in the air. His horse collapsed on the ground with a god awful sound, bleeding from a hole in the neck and Dean closed his eyes, willing himself to slow down.
"Okay! Okay," he said softly, because his goddamn horse was still alive and he loved the son of a bitch too much to lose him. "Listen…" he said, trying to explain, but he was cut off by a round of gunshots.
The man that captured Dean Winchester the Great Outlaw didn't need a badge; he only needed a gun, five shots and a dead horse.
TO BE CONTINUED