Category: Gen, AU, Western
Characters: Dean, Sam, Crowley
Summary: The year is 1882, the place is Yuma prison. Fergus MacLeod is awaiting trial and less than impressed with his new cellmate, the notorious outlaw Dean Winchester. Can they resolve their differences and form an escape plan, or is there a bigger agenda in play? What follows is deception, double dealing and deadly peril as the stakes increase along with the six shooters.
NOTE: I will be updating this story with a new chapter every Sunday evening, Brit time. If you like it, you know when and where to find it.
Sam Winchester leaned on the stock of his rifle and watched the prison doctor finish his examination. Dean was sitting on a bench, shoulders slumped, clad only in his drawers but with colour at least returning to his face. Sam struggled to keep his own expression neutral though because inside he was seething; shocked and angered by his brother’s condition. Dean had not only lost an alarming amount of weight, his entire body was covered in bruises, contusions and cuts, some of them infected looking. They’d parted company over six weeks ago and Sam could only wonder what had happened in the interim. By necessity, they’d been allowed no contact and so far there had been little opportunity to talk inside the prison.
He clearly remembered the event which had triggered this whole sorry mess. He, Dean and their half-brother Adam were in their adopted homestead of Purgatory, AZ; population 935 and counting. Purgatory was a rough, greedy town that badly needed taming, which is exactly why Dean had chosen it. They’d all been on the porch outside their jailhouse, drinking beer and going over the day’s events when the letter from Chicago arrived.
Dean had read it twice but other than hinting it involved the outlaw Fergus MacLeod, he refused to speak about its contents. He was moody and irritable for days afterwards and it was a full week before he let Sam read it for himself. Sam’s immediate reaction was to bluntly state how only a madman would get involved in the half assed scheme laid out there. He also called bullshit on the veiled threats of retribution should Dean fail to get on board. He could tell from the look in his brother’s eyes, however that Dean hadn’t only saddled up, he was already half way to Yuma.
Even on paper the plan had seemed ridiculously optimistic. Dean would pose at the outlaw he’d once been, be publically arrested then sent to Yuma prison. Once there he’d gain the confidence of Fergus MacLeod and obtain the identities of men who’d helped him relieve a train of its cargo. The gold bullion in question belonged to The Department of the Treasury and several operatives had been killed in the robbery. The Treasury was keen to locate its property and bring the guilty parties to justice but MacLeod was their only lead. He was proving tight lipped and with his trial and probable hanging imminent, time was of the essence.
Of course Sam wouldn’t hear of letting his brother go in alone. Getting a guard’s job in the prison had been a breeze, since nobody wanted to work for the wages on offer and he’d been here four weeks already. He figured some advance cosying up to MacLeod wouldn’t go amiss and reported for duty the same day MacLeod was discharged from the hospital. He’d been in there for two months, recuperating from a serious injury but once in the swing of prison life, he’d regained strength and mobility rapidly. Some of the guards said it was downright unnatural how quickly he’d recovered…
Dean coughed pointedly and Sam realised the doctor was talking to him.
“What did you say?”
The man clucked his tongue impatiently. “I said watch the prisoner while I fetch my assistant. He’ll dress the wounds.”
He glanced at Dean impatiently. “You sure you don’t want to tell me how you received those injuries, Winchester?”
Dean shook his head and the doctor clucked again.
“He has a mild case of heatstroke so make sure he wears his cap outside. He can rest in his cell for today and I’ll prescribe light work and extra rations until he’s back to a normal weight. Captain Singer will be advised of this in writing. Good day.”
Dean waited for him to leave before offering Sam a wry smile.
“Guess I owe you for some shirt buttons.”
Sam crossed the room in two strides and embraced him fiercely. Only when Dean grunted with pain did he release his grip and stand back. Dean massaged his ribs and grimaced.
“I missed you too, Sammy.”
Sam watched him, frowning. ”What the hell happened to you? How’d you get all those bruises and why are you so damned skinny?”
Dean shrugged. “On account of some godawful food in Bisbee and…”
He hesitated and Sam threw him a knowing look. “And?”
“And maybe I said a few things.”
Sam blew out a long, frustrated breath. “Why can’t you ever keep your mouth shut, Dean? Walt and Roy hate you and even Zachariah’s found some axe to grind. What the hell did you say to him?”
Dean shifted on the bench and gazed at the floor. “You remember that job we pulled in Nogales?”
“How could I forget?”
“Zachariah was commanding those soldiers and I shot his best buddy dead. He didn’t forget either and apparently he don’t forgive. You need to get word to those assholes in Chicago before he finds a way to have me killed.”
Sam’s stomach twisted. Little wonder the guards had been given special instructions regarding his brother. Some were decent men who wouldn’t purposely mistreat prisoners but there were plenty of rotten eggs, Walt and Roy for example, who’d enjoy following those orders to the letter.
“I’ll send a telegram tonight. Any word on MacLeod?”
“He doesn’t trust me, he sure as hell doesn’t like me but he’s eaten up with curiosity about that money and your involvement. At least that part’s going to plan.”
Sam shook his head, baffled by Dean’s attitude. “You don’t give a shit about the Treasury, the bullion or those suits in Chicago. Why the fuck are you risking your life for them?”
Dean’s expression was inscrutable. “I don’t recall having much choice in the matter.”
“Bullshit. You could have said no. They were bluffing about going public with your record and you knew it. Whatever beef you’ve got with MacLeod, that bastard’s gonna hang so take it as a gift and get out while you’re in one piece.”
Dean opened his mouth to retort then closed it as footsteps sounded outside the room. Sam stood back and grabbed his rifle as the door was shoved open with force enough to hit the wall. It slammed itself shut as a figure barrelled into the room and hurled itself at Dean, almost knocking him off the bench. Sam watched, stunned as he hugged Dean so hard his face turned white and he gasped for breath. Eventually he found the wherewithal to grasp the invader’s shoulders, haul him off and spin him round. He found himself staring into the face of Garth Fitzgerald IV and shook him like a rag doll.
“What the fuck are you trying to do? Kill him?”
“I’m just happy to see him.” Garth was flushed, grinning and now it was Sam’s turn to get accosted. “I missed both of you so much.”
Sam extricated himself from the embrace with difficulty. For such a stringy guy, Garth had the strength of a goddamned bear. Dean was frowning at the overt display of affection.
“What the fuck are you doing here, Garth? You’re supposed to be acting deputy marshal of Purgatory.”
Garth’s expression turned sour. He jutted his chin out and glared at Dean.
“It’s Fitz, goddamit. How many times do I have to tell you? Call me Fitz.”
“Fine. What the fuck are you doing here, Fitz?”
Garth shrugged. “Adam’s running things just fine. He didn’t want my help, wouldn’t listen to my advice so I bailed. I’m a doctor not a peace keeper.”
That made sense to Sam; Adam was one uptight bastard when it came to enforcing the law. Having never spent any time on the wrong side of it, unlike both his older brothers, things were still mostly black and white in his eyes. While he was clearly relishing the autonomy of his new position, the actual marshal of Purgatory, the one sitting on the bench in his drawers, didn’t seem impressed with the news.
“You gave yourself a promotion? Last I checked you were running a quack dentist shop out of Rosita’s Bordello.”
Garth scowled. “Didn’t stop me digging a bullet out of your guts, did it?”
Dean sighed. “I don’t care what you’re doing, just do it in Purgatory and quit fucking around inside a prison. How the hell did you get in here anyway?”
His tone was harsh and though Sam could detect the concern which lay below it, his words took some of the wind out of Garth’s sails.
“The same way Sam did. Asked for a job in the hospital, said I had experience and they nearly bit my hand off. “
“How long you been here?”
“And what do you plan on doing, other than getting us all exposed?”
“I’ll look out for you.” Fitz crossed his arms and stared defiantly at Dean’s battered body. ”You need all the help you can get.”
He turned away, began pulling bandages from a drawer and Dean shook his head in frustration. Sam admired Garth’s audacity, his devout sense of loyalty but he had a big mouth, was way too trusting and was the sloppiest drunk in the territory. Dean was right to think his presence would hinder their operation as much as advance it, but eyes and ears inside the hospital might prove useful. As a civilian, Garth had more freedom than the guards who got one day off a week and were expected to live inside the prison walls. Garth, for example, could send a telegram without questions being asked. Garth could check the telegraph office every day for a reply…
Nobody was speaking and the atmosphere in the room was tense and awkward. Garth approached Dean cautiously and began applying salve to his infected cuts. Sam felt a twang of pity for him.
“Where are you staying, Fitz?”
“In town. I found a boarding house that ain’t full of bugs.”
“We need to get an urgent telegram to Chicago.”
“Write it down and I’ll send it from the station. I should be able to do that much without exposing us all.”
Dean raised an eyebrow at the blunt sarcasm. “Fergus MacLeod was here earlier. Did you see him?”
Garth began winding bandages around the deeper wounds. “Sure I did.”
“Why was he was here?”
“Getting checked over, but I did some fucking around while the Doctor was at breakfast and I got a look at his file. Guess I’ll be deliberating those facts on my way back to Purgatory.”
Dean stood up, scowling. “Dammit, Garth, don’t try and hold me to ransom. If you want an apology you can go fuck yourself. If you want to stay and help then spill the fucking beans.”
Garth pouted but the gleam in his eyes was victorious. “MacLeod took a bullet in the back three months ago. It missed his left kidney but it swelled up and caused all sorts of complications.”
Sam whistled softly as another puzzle piece slid into place. “That’s why he hasn’t been tried. They can’t pass a death sentence on an injured man.”
Garth nodded. “And now the waiting’s done. He got a clean bill of health an hour ago.”
Dean reached for his pants and pulled them on. “And I don’t have much time to get him to talk.”
He buttoned up, chewing on his lip the whole time. When he spoke again it was mostly to himself.
“I know how to play him this time round.”
- ACES WILD (5/?)