"No!!!!"

Charlie froze at the sound of his boss's voice. Too late. Right before his eyes he saw the body of the rancher hit the ground, weak and hurt, spilling blood out of a small, round hole right between his shoulders. Charlie knew he was in trouble.

Everything seemed to go in slow-motion, as he saw his boss jump from the train and kneel next to the rancher, seemingly concerned. Confusion hit Charlie, since this was the first time he ever saw his boss react like this. Ben Wade never showed emotions, never; Charlie even doubted if Wade was capable of really having any. A pat on the shoulder and a twitch of his eye when he looked at Charlie after the latter had saved him from an angry Pinkerton, that was the only hint of emotion Charlie had ever seen from his boss. A pat on the shoulder and the twitch of an eye…..but Charlie knew his boss well enough to know gratitude lay behind those gestures. Now, anger was a different thing. Wade had no problems with expressing his anger, and never seemed to let an opportunity pass to do so. Hell, he was good at it! And that's what worried Charlie. His thoughts were racing…..what to do? There was no way he was going to draw his gun on Ben, no way, and he knew walking away was not an option either; but just standing there frightened him a bit as well. He knew better than anyone the extent of his boss's temper, and the punishment for disobeying one of his orders. But thinking about it –for a brief second-, if he had to chose a way to die, this would be it, by the hand of the man he admired so much; it would be an honour to die by the Hand of God. And so he waited.


"No!!!!"

Ben Wade's heart almost stopped as he saw Dan's body collapse to the ground. This was not supposed to happen. He expected anything…..he expected him being on the train, to Yuma; to escape by the time they hit the valley, where he thought Charlie would be waiting; he expected Dan collecting his money and taking his boy William home, to save the farm; and he even expected them to see each other again, maybe, after a couple of years. But not this. And as he jumped from the train and kneeled next to the man it occurred to him that, next to Charlie, this man came as close to having Ben's respect as someone ever had. He knew it was weakness, but he felt a lump in his throat as he tried to speak, and frankly, he couldn't bring himself to care. This wasn't about him, this wasn't about being tough. "Hold on Dan, come on. We'll get you to the doc and he'll patch you up real fine. Don't you worry." He hardly dared to look down at Dan, who lay motionless on the ground, just staring up at him. Those sorrow-filled eyes seemed to speak, and Wade wasn't sure if he wanted to know what they had to say, for he knew that look all too well….he had seen it before, at the camp, where he had been hanging from ropes, tortured by those vindictive jerks from the railroad. A look filled with care, concern, compassion, maybe even –the good kind of- respect….words Wade not often put into context to himself. It confused him. He knew his men respected and followed him, but he also knew that was merely out of fear; except for Charlie, who he regarded to be his only friend. Up till now. He grinned, finally looking down to face Dan. "Listen Dan, you're gonna be fine. Ben Wade never loses a friend, God knows better than to piss me of. We're square like that." Dan groaned, unable to speak. "That's okay, you just owe me a favour in return." Ben got up, making room for William, who came running up to his father. "Can you carry him alone, boy?" William just nodded. "Hurry up then." Ben turned around. "Charlie Prince."


"Charlie Prince." Charlie felt his body tense up as he watched Ben walk towards him. This was it. He held his breath as Ben brought his face close to his. "That wasn't too smart, Charlie Prince." "I….I know boss." Ben looked him in he eye. "No pleading, no explanation?" Charlie thought about that for a second. "No boss, I did what I did, no excuse." Ben grinned. "Tell me Charlie, how long have we known each other now?" The question caught Charlie of guard. What was he up to? "Come on, Charlie Prince, you must know." "Five years boss, since Aberdeen." "Have you ever doubted me in those 5 years, Charlie?" "No boss." "Have you ever disobeyed me?" "No, boss." "Are you loyal to me?" The question actually offended Charlie, Ben knew damn well how he felt. "Yes! You know I am, boss." Ben turned around, took a few steps away and turned back around. The Hand of God was in his hand; Charlie shivered. "You know Charlie, I don't think you meant to disobey me, but the problem is, I've got 6 other men here who want to see you punished for exactly that crime. [Points his gun at Charlie's head] Now, what should I do about that?" Charlie hesitated. "I don't know boss, but I'm sure you'll think of something." Ben started laughing out loud. "I sure will." And with that said, he took his gun off Charlie and shot the other 6 members of his gang, one by one. Charlie could hardly breath. Ben came up to him. "You'll get the chance to prove your loyalty Charlie, just one chance. Bring Dan and his boy home, take care of them. Make sure they get their money, help them with the farm. I'll meet you in Brisbee in about two months. Are we clear?" Charlie nodded. "Sure thing boss." He looked at Ben. "I, uhm…." "Go, Charlie Prince. Don't disappoint me. And take care. Ben Wade never loses a friend. It's a thing between me and God." Before Charlie could say another word, Ben turned around and jumped on the train. As the train started moving, Ben looked at Charlie one last time. "You and them Charlie. Take care of them." Charlie nodded. And then his boss was gone. Charlie just stood there for a minute, trying to grasp what had just happened. "This must be what they call faith." He shrugged his shoulders to lose the thought and watched with a grin on his face how Ben's horse suddenly broke out of the group and started running after the train. Other people might have reacted differently, but not Charlie…he now knew how things were between the two of them, and that was all he needed to know. He'd do as his boss asked of him. Thinking about that made him laugh out loud. "Dan's gonna be real happy to see me!"