What Doesn't Kill You

I don't own these characters (Except for the bad guys); I just like to spend time with them. No other profit to be had than that.

They say what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. Matt and Kitty must have been two of the strongest people on earth.

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Micah Thomas leaned back in his chair and looked through slitted eyes at the other four men sitting at the dirty barroom table with him. A sorrier lot he had never seen. Shaking his head, he wondered how he ever got mixed up with the likes of these. He used to be a respectable man. Lowering his head, he mentally shrugged, well at least more respectable than these degenerates.

"I don't care what you say," Zed Popley said gruffly, as he swallowed another shot of the rot gut that passed for whiskey. "I don't like this whole thing. Why we gotta steal off with that woman? Why, all we'd have to do is to hide out and spike that law dog when he comes by. That'd take care of the whole mess, ya ask me."

"Well, we ain't asking you." Marvin Chiwanga hissed. "Clay says we're to take that woman and we do what Clay says. Clay don't want Dillon dead, sides his woman's a pretty little thing. I figure ol' Clay might let us have a piece of her maybe, once he's done with her."

Wally Creekmore snorted and almost spit out his whiskey. "You should know by now, that there won't be no piece left, when Clay gets done with her."

Micah closed his eyes and kept his mouth shut but his ears open. Although not generally a friend of the righteous, there was one lawman he was friendly with. The same one they were discussing this night. Micah owed Matt Dillon a big favor, one he swore he would repay, and he had a feeling this just might be his last chance to do that.

"Well, maybe so," Marvin acknowledged, "but it don't make no never mind what any a us think. We answer to Clay Warren, and he says we're to take that red head and bring her to him. I gotta feeling he wants more out a her than a hostage. He gets a look in his eyes ever time he mentions her."

"Yeah I seen that a time or two," Wally agreed. "Clay's awful tight lipped about things, but I got me an idée he knows this woman or something. Least ways he wants more than just to use her to get Dillon to heel."

Web Weigant looked over at Micah. "You ain't said much on this Micah." He pointed out. "What ya think? We take the woman, or just do the job right and get rid of Dillon from the get go. He wouldn't be able to testify against Clay's brother, and it'd all be over with."

Micah opened one tired brown eye and peered at the man across from him. Tall, thin and grungy, Web certainly didn't look like much of a threat, but Micah knew better. He had seen the man in action and knew just how dangerous he truly was. He knew how dangerous all of them were, the four sitting around the table here, as well as the army of other men working for Clay Warren. Micah decided to tread lightly.

"Well, Web," he answered sitting up in his chair and pushing his hat back from his forehead, "I see how your plan might work but I have to agree with Wally here. I think Clay wants that woman for more than one reason. But since I've been earning my keep from Clay for a while now, I guess I gotta do what he says. And he says we take the woman."

"Darn right," Wally snickered.

Marvin looked at Micah through narrowed eyes. He had nothing to go on but there was something about Micah Thomas he didn't trust. He'd known Micah for a couple of years now, and Micah had more than once pulled his bacon out of the fire, but still…..

Micah rose, hoisted his pants and buttoned his coat, throwing a coin on the table for his drink. "Well gents," he told his table mates, "tomorrow's gonna be a long day. I'm gonna get me some shut eye."

None of the men replied as he walked out, but he could feel at least one set of eyes burning a hole in his back. Marvin Chiwanga didn't trust Micah and Micah knew it.

Walking out of the Lady Gay, he nonchalantly walked down the board walk, pulling his coat tight against the early November wind, ears attentive to any noise behind him. Once he reached the stable, he paused, still nothing. He walked on into the barn and to the stall where his horse was tethered. He still didn't hear anything but the hair on the back of his neck was sticking up. Someone was there, he could feel it.

Micah patted his horse's neck and settled down in the hay beside it, his hand on his gun. Footsteps were coming closer. When they reached the stall he was in, he silently pulled his gun and aimed as the shadow became flesh. "Stop right there." He said.

Moss Grimmick, poked his head around the side and into view. "I'm sorry Mr. Thomas." He said. "It's only me. I didn't mean to startle you."

Micah took a shuddering breath and put his gun up. "Its okay, Moss. Guess I'm a little jumpy for some reason. You need something?"

"No, sir," Moss answered. "Just saw someone come in, is all, and I wanted to check on it."

Micah nodded. "Oh, I see. Well thank you, Moss. I'm just gonna settle down here by my horse and get a little sleep. It's too noisy in that room above the saloon."

Moss gave him a half smile and turned. "Alright," he said as went towards the back of the barn. "Good night."

Micah nodded again and shook his head at his own trembling. "You'd a thought the idea of dying wouldn't bother me." He mumbled.

Lowering his head, he settled back in the hay and stretched out. Some way he needed to get to Matt Dillon. He had a little tale to tell him and he needed to do it tonight. But how to do it.

Micah was so absorbed in the problem, he never saw the second shadow that appeared or heard the gun cock, till it was too late.

TBC