Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters from the show, only those who aren't in the show, and the storyline is mine, but might have some similarities here and there to help me with some content, but I am not trying to copy anything. This is my first Justified story, so please bare with me... I hope you enjoy it!

Path of Endless Fire

Chapter 1

Wanted Dead or Alive

Raylan Givens parked his car next to his boss, Chief Deputy, Art Mullen's vehicle outside of Klink's Drug Store in Lexington, Kentucky. He cut the engine, put his tan Stetson hat on, and pushed open the car door while his gaze stayed on the scene in front of him.

"Put down your weapon and walk out with your hands over your head!" a police officer ordered over a megaphone.

"What happened?" Raylan asked Art, his right hand on his hip, next to his holstered gun, eyes still on the store.

"Some idiot decided to rob the store in broad day-light," Art replied, shaking his head.

"Some people have shitty ideas running through their heads," Raylan said as he watched a SWAT Team move in closer, getting in position. "When did they get here?"

"Fifteen minutes after we were called," Art answered.

Raylan stepped forward, walking to the SWAT Commanding Officer. "Do you mind if I try talking to him?"

The Officer looked at him. "What good would that do?"

"Maybe a lot more than shooting him," he replied

The Officer sighed. "You have five minutes."

Raylan nodded, making his way closer to the store entrance before stopping a couple hundred yards, standing next to Tim Gutterson and Rachel Brooks, two people he worked with, that were next to one of the SWAT cars. "What's his name?" he asked Tim.

"Bradley Hayes," Tim responded.

Raylan turned around to face another officer standing a few feet from him; he walked over and held out his hand. "May I?" referring to the man's megaphone in his hand. The officer shrugged, handing him the object. Raylan went back to where he stood previously and began speaking to the man inside the store. "Bradley Hayes, this is U.S. Marshal, Raylan Givens. I hear you are trying to rob this place," he said walking closer to the store. "If you do what you're told, nobody will get hurt," he continued, his eyes staring at one of the windows, waiting to see movements from inside. "If you can hear me, let me see your face through the window."

"You're crazy!" Bradley Hayes shouted, not showing himself to them.

"I get that a lot," Raylan said matter-of fact. "I just want to see who I'm speaking with."

"You can forget it!"

Raylan nodded. "Okay." He saw the man's silhouette move from one side of the window to the other. "If I can make a deal with you, will you come out?"

The man didn't respond for a minute. "No."

"What if I made it really good, would you consider it then?"

"Maybe…" Bradley replied.

"That's a start…" Raylan talked with Bradley for a couple of minutes, hoping he can keep the situation from going wrong. He stood there, megaphone at his side, waiting for Bradley's latest response to Raylan's deal.

The door to the store opened slowly before Bradley stepped out sideways, his right side showing first, then his left arm rose up with a shot-gun in his hand, finger on the trigger. Everyone raised their weapons, ready to fire when ordered. Raylan grabbed his pistol, cocked it, and pointed it at Bradley.

"Drop the weapon, now!"

The sound from the guns filled the air when the Officers fired their weapons at Bradley who pointed his firearm at them. Bradley fell backward with the shot-gun hitting the ground, blood poured out of him within seconds while choking on his own blood that was now covering his lips. They rushed over to the dying man, kicking the gun away from him as they pointed their weapons at him, taking precaution.

Raylan followed their lead; placing his 45 Caliber Glock back in his holster. Sighing, he watched as they started to take care of Bradley Hayes. "If he had just done what he was told," he spoke aloud to no one in particular.

"They wanted him dead or alive… I guess he chose death instead of jail time."

Raylan turned around, surprised; he came face to face with a woman who looked as if she had just walked out of a court house the way she dressed. "Excuse me?"

"From what I heard, they didn't care if they got him dead or alive. Such a shame, too, he seemed like he was a nice fella," she replied, her hazel eyes locking with his. "Kate Johnson," she lifted her arm up to shake his hand.

Raylan stood there, eyebrow raised, he shook her hand. "Raylan Givens."

"I know. The U.S. Marshal who shot the man in Florida," she said.

"How did you hear about that?" he asked, slightly taken aback she would know about it.

"It's a small town, Mr. Givens. People talk."

Raylan knocked on the door of Kate Johnson's home a couple of days later, and then he looked around, waiting for her to get to the door, hearing a fate sound of a dog barking from down the street. The wind blew slightly, sending a chill down his spine; Kentucky can be chilly sometimes at night. Facing the door again, he re-adjusted his hat.

"Well, what do I owe the pleasure, Mr. Givens?" Kate asked, opening the door further.

"Ms. Johnson, I will get right to it, your father contacted my boss about an assignment you're on and my boss told me that I should go with you," Raylan said, getting right to the point.

Kate nodded, leaning up against the door frame. "Correction: my father told your boss to tell you to join me. He always tries to have someone come along with me, even when it's not necessary."

"I can see why, in this line of work, it can be dangerous."

Kate smirked. "Well, I am a big girl and can handle myself in tough situations."

"I believe you can. I still have to go with you, my boss and probably your father too, will have my ass handed to me if I didn't."

Kate laughed. "I'm sure they would. Actually, my father probably would shoot you instead… he doesn't do things lightly when I'm concerned," she informed him, standing up straight. "Do you want to come inside and have a drink?"


"I got Bud light, that alright?" she asked, heading down the hallway and into the kitchen.

"Yeah," Raylan responded, closing the door behind him before following her.

"What do you think, being back in Kentucky?" she wondered, handing him the bottle.

Taking the cap off, he took a swig of the cold beverage, shrugging. "It looks the same, has the same people from what I can tell."

"You're right," she agreed. "It is the same in many ways… but one thing that is different," she started, taking a sip from her drink, "is that there are new and old criminals here."

"I'm sure there are," he agreed.

"Why did you come back?"

"I didn't. I was transferred when I killed that guy back in Miami."

"That sucks," she said now heading into living-room.

Following her, he answered, "You're tellin' me."

The two sat down on the seats, facing each other.

"How'd you become a cop?" he asked, taking another gulp of his drink.

"A couple of years ago my mother was killed, shot to death," she started, thinking back on that unforgettable day. "My father was out that night, and I was out of town for a couple of days, so my mother was home alone… someone came by and shot her right through the window of the car when she was either just getting home or about to leave, they probably didn't realize they were about to shoot the wrong person… I suppose they didn't care who they shot at that point. The bullet hit her in the head, killing her instantly," she explained, looking away from him as she took a sip from her beer.

"Were they ever found?"

She shook her head. "Nope, and we have been looking ever since. I suppose it's not worth it anymore in my father's eyes…"

"What about you?" he asked, tilting his head a little, trying to find out the answer by just looking at her.

"I haven't given up, and I don't think I will until I know that the killer, or killers, has been thrown in jail, or is dead," she replied with a sigh. "You probably think I'm nuts for continuing the search after a couple of years."

"I would do the same thing."

She was about to say something when all of a sudden, the windows shattered into a million of pieces, and bullets went flying in every which way.