Disclaimer: not mine.. though I wish they were ;) Especially Comet the wonder horse.

Author's Note: This story is for IcyWaters, who introduced me to the wonderful world of Brisco County, Jr. and his colorful friends. Story is set after the events of the episode entitled Riverboat. It was both inspired by the song 'More Than I Should' by Hunter Hayes and the look in Dixie's eyes when Bones asked her what Brisco had to offer her. At the time it appeared she might still be part of Bly's gang, so what if Bly had gotten wind of her betrayal? Hope you enjoy.

It ain't love when you stuck on the wrong end of a gun.

You put your finger on that trigger and you shot me where I stood,

they'll write on my gravestone I loved you more than I should.

Hunter Hayes 'More Than I Should'

It was a dark and stormy night, a night neither fit for man nor beast.

The streets of the sleepy town of Gypsum Rose were all but deserted, its residents choosing to stay safely within the warmth of home and hearth rather than brave the elements. The most superstitious might have even admitted to a strong sense of foreboding, as if evil itself lurked in the shadows and the very wind wailed a warning to all those who dared to venture out.

…and so it was of little surprise that none but a chestnut gelding bore witness to a trio of riders as they rushed from the town like the devil himself was on their trail…though the ominous laughter that trailed in their wake suggested perhaps the devil rode with them.

The horse pricked his ears toward the dark alley from which the riders had come and let out a low whinny, but there was no answer. No sound other than the constant drum of the rain and the occasional moan of the wind. Comet gave his head a toss and pulled the tether free of the hitching post with a quick tug. He moved quickly alongside the boardwalk to the alley, pausing at its mouth as his quivering nostrils caught the scent of danger…

…the scent of fresh blood.

A door opened toward the rear of the alley and a pool of yellow light spilled out over the pool of muck and mud…and a familiar body nearly obscured by both. The light vanished for a brief moment as a large man with a large gun appeared in the doorway. A muffled oath sounded above the storm as Bowler quickly scaled the few stairs into the alley, scanning for lingering danger as he did. The gun lowered as he took in the gruesome scene before him with a concerned frown. It looked worse up close. What little of his partner was not coated in mud was rapidly turning crimson beneath the steady pool of red, issuing from the bullet hole in his chest.

The big man let out a heavy sigh as he reached out and nudged Brisco's leg with the tip of a muddy boot. The frown deepened as the man remained unresponsive.

"You had better be dead for real, because I ain't singin this time." The big man grumbled as he squatted back on his heels beside Brisco.

The frown morphed into a twisted grin as he loomed over his partner and tipped his head slightly forward. Brisco sputtered to life as the stream of water from Bowler's bowler hat struck him full in the face. He attempted to sit but failed, sinking back into the mud with a weak moan.

"I told you that this was a bad idea." Bowler grumbled. He turned as Comet edged closer and gestured at the horse. "Didn't I tell him that this was a bad idea?"

The horse tossed his head in an affirmative before lowering his muzzle to whuff his master, dragging his mud soaked reigns across the man's face. Brisco groaned as he shoved the wet muzzle aside and tried once more to sit up. This time succeeding as Bowler added his assistance.

"There was no other way." Brisco argued weakly as he raised a blood and mud streaked hand to his chest. He grimaced as he took in his ruined clothes.

"So who shot you?" Bowler inquired gruffly as he hauled his partner out of the mud and deposited him on the stairs.

Brisco took a moment to catch his breath before replying; his dark eyes rose to meet Bowler's.

"Dixie. It played out just like I feared it might. Bly was waiting for us in the alley. Brett Bones was with him." A smile tweaked at the edge of his mouth at Bowler's growl. "Dixie played her part flawlessly. Heck, she even had me believing that she had set me up." His voice trailed as he turned his head toward the mouth of the alley. "Even shot me with my own gun."

"Do you think Bly fell for it?" Bowler asked.

Brisco nodded slowly, "Yeah. I believe he did."

A heavy stillness fell over the two men as they each silently considered the fate of the woman who, for better or worse, had become a sort of honorary member of their team. It was her part in Brisco's plot to catch 'Gentleman' Brett Bones that had placed her in danger in the first place. At the time they had never suspected that Bones would manage to escape prison with the help of a crooked guard. Still stewing over at his humiliation at the hands of Brisco County, Jr., Bones had retaliated by revealing Dixie's betrayal to the gang's leader. Brisco had gotten wind of the threat against her life and had managed locate Dixie only moments before Bly. Now it was his hope that his 'death' at her hand would encourage Bly to over look her temporary 'slip of reason' and lift the threat he had placed against her life. So far it seemed to have worked…with a little help from the Professor.

Brisco let out a heavy sigh and turned his attention back to the task at hand. He pulled the ruined fabric of first his jacket and then his shirt back, revealing a leaking leather pouch strapped against a hard black surface. He pulled the pouch free, grimacing as it splattered what remained of its contents over his legs and Comet's nose. He let out a soft laugh, which ended with a wince as he pressed a hand against his ribs. Bowler pushed his hand aside, fingering the depression in the spongy black fabric. He frowned and pulled a small lump of mashed metal free.

"Sometimes I think that you trust the Professor a little too much." He stated as he rolled what was left of the bullet in his large palm.

Brisco gave him a wiry grin as he unfastened the straps hidden beneath his shirt and tugged the vest free, revealing a thin metal plate beneath the fabric. "Hey, this could be the coming thing in law enforcement protection. Course it still needs a little work." He added fingering the indentation the bullet had made…and the growing bruise on his chest.

"Mm-hm." Bowler remarked dubiously as he took a step back and let out a piercing whistle.

A whinny answered and his black mare appeared at the mouth of the alley. Comet whickered a greeting and moved to greet her.

"Kev-lar, I think he called it." Brisco continued, accepting Bowler's assistance as his partner hauled him to his feet. "Something about naming it after his grandfather…or maybe an uncle…"

His voice trailed off as his boot struck an object. He bent carefully and pulled his gun free of the mud.

"She'll be all right." Bowler stated firmly. "That Miss Dixie is one tough lady."

A slow grin slid across Brisco's face, and he nodded as he returned his gun to its holster.

"That she is." He agreed. "Come on, Bowler, I've got an outlaw to haunt."

..oh, they'll write on my gravestone I loved you more than I should.