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 sat in a corner of the guardhouse and pretended to read the latest set of procedural updates. It was a dull experience at the best of times and right now he was preoccupied with other matters. Like exactly why Captain Singer had given orders that Dean and Fergus MacLeod be brought to the guardhouse directly after dinner.
Singer was behind his desk, pen scratching across a sheet of paper as he wrote in a small, tight script. Another guard was leaning in the doorway, looking into the yard and smoking a cigar and the mood in the room was peaceful. The yard was similarly quiet, all the prisoners currently at their evening meal as the sun began its slow decline, lengthening the shadows in the packed dirt outside. It was still hot and Sam felt a bead of sweat run down his back, and soak into the fabric of his guard’s uniform. What wouldn’t he give to take a swim in the cool waters of the Colorado River right now?
He was itching to ask Singer some questions but caution made him bite his tongue. He’d find out soon enough and he’d already shown too much interest in Dean. His actions in the exercise yard on that first day had not been forgotten, particularly by Walt and Roy who took every opportunity to ridicule his compassion. In their eyes, at least, it grossly undermined his suitability to act as a guard. The only way he could think of to keep them at arm’s length was to show he could be just as vicious them.
With Dean a gleeful collaborator, they’d staged a series of clashes in which prisoner would sneeringly insult guard and Sam would lash out with his fists. He never hit Dean with any force but both of them could pretend well enough to pull it off. Their daily skirmishes rapidly became something of a sport for Walt, Roy and their cohorts who took every opportunity to get them alone together. Sam had the feeling they enjoyed hearing Dean’s creative abuse as much as seeing him get hurt, but the deception was effective and it kept everybody looking the wrong way. Everyone, that was, except Fergus MacLeod.
MacLeod had been asking for all kinds of items to be smuggled into the high security cell and Sam was happy to accommodate him. He wanted the usual stuff; whisky, candles and laudanum, but took most pleasure from the receipt of writing materials. Sam had so far been unsuccessful in facilitating Dean’s request for pornography, but he was working on that.
Captain Singer was talking and Sam realised, with a jolt, that he was being addressed.
“I’m sorry, Sir, would you repeat that?”
Singer gazed at him, the faded blue eyes as astute as ever.
“You perplex me, Sam. Two weeks ago I was struck by your humanity, now I’m hearing chatter which suggests you’re on the same path as Walt and Roy.”
Sam opened his mouth to speak but the captain motioned him to keep quiet.
“I can’t prove anything, it’s all hearsay and half-truths but I’d be disappointed if even a fraction of what I’m hearing is true.”
Sam frowned as Singer continued his lecture. “Dean Winchester is a cunning criminal with a smart mouth but he’s not half as clever as he thinks. As a guard it’s your duty to rise above his kind of horse shit and prove yourself the better man. Do I make myself clear?”
Sam nodded mutely. Time had effectively been called on their violently diverting sideshow. Part of him was relieved about that; he didn’t like hitting Dean unless he’d done something to properly deserve it, and he preferred it when his brother could hit back. The captain was still gazing at him and Sam squirmed under the scrutiny. He liked Singer and in a different life he would have been honoured to serve with a man of such stout principle, but he couldn’t forget his real purpose in Yuma.
The sound of feet scuffing in the yard finally drew the captain’s attention away and Sam let out a quiet breath. Two guards prodded Dean and MacLeod into the office and ordered them to stand against the wall beside Singer’s desk. Dean was wearing an expression of disdain, as though the prison and everybody in it was way beneath his contempt and he stared at the guards insolently. MacLeod’s expression was inscrutable but he held his head high and his attitude was one of profound disrespect. Singer perched on the edge of his desk and looked them both over.
“You got something to say, Winchester?”
Dean smirked and one of the guards stepped forward threateningly. Singer waved him back.
“I’ve got news which’ll wipe that look off your face. You’ve just been given a clean bill of health and in light of that, Governor Zachariah has instructed you be withdrawn from the kitchen, effective immediately. Tomorrow morning you’ll join one of the rock breaking teams.”
Dean’s smirk widened. “It’s got to beat peeling yams.”
The Captain watched him impassively. “It’s back breaking work, Winchester. You won’t feel like smart remarks after a few days of it.”
Dean only shrugged but Sam’s stomach twisted. The change of occupation wasn’t exactly unexpected, since Zachariah was intent on making Dean’s life difficult, but he didn’t want to contemplate what else the governor had lined up for his least favourite prisoner.
Singer had his eye on MacLeod now.
“I also have news for you, MacLeod. Earlier today we got a telegram from the Supreme Court. The circuit judge arrives in Yuma one month from now and your trial starts then. Defence counsel has been appointed.”
Sam watched MacLeod closely. His mask didn’t drop for a second though his left eye twitched a couple of times. He snorted scornfully.
“Why bother with an attorney? Everyone’s convinced I’m already guilty.”
Singer shrugged. “It’s standard procedure but you have the right to decline. Represent yourself if you think you can do better.”
Dean looked over and grinned.
“Time’s up, MacLeod.”
MacLeod glared at him. “Yours is coming soon, Winchester. Make no mistake.”
Singer stood up and motioned to the guards. “Take them outside and keep them separate.”
The prisoners were hustled outside and Sam crossed to the door to watch. The yard was filling up with inmates, making the most of the recreational period before eight o’clock lockdown. Dean shoved his hands in his pockets and ambled towards a group of Mexicans, sitting in the dirt and dealing cards. He squatted down to join them. MacLeod walked stiffly towards his cell and vanished inside. He didn’t come out again. Singer’s voice drifted across the room.
“Keep an eye on MacLeod. News like that’s liable to make a man reckless.”
Sam nodded. “I’ll do that.”
Grateful for a chance to excuse himself from the guardhouse, he hefted his rifle and walked to the high security cell. MacLeod was propped on his bunk and scribbling in a notebook.
“What are you writing, MacLeod?”
MacLeod didn’t look up. “None of your bloody business.”
Sam leaned against the door frame and watched him, unsure what to say next.
He knew from late night conversations with Dean, conducted in whispers through the cell window, that he was making little progress in his mission. MacLeod was tight lipped about his last robbery and Dean could hardly ask him outright for the names of the men who’d shot and betrayed him. Subtler methods hadn’t worked either. Dean had lain awake for hours at night, listening to MacLeod sleep in the hope he’d mutter something vital in his dreams. Sam had provided him with the best quality whisky in the hope it might loosen his tongue but even drunk, MacLeod was a canny and calculating adversary. Two weeks in and they were no closer to getting the information they’d come for.
Garth had been true to his word and telegraphed Chicago, informing them of Zachariah’s vendetta. He’d gotten an answer almost immediately with instructions to stick to the original plan as far as possible. If things were to really go sideways however, they’d be pulled out of Yuma immediately. There was an official letter on its way to Sam , corroborating their real identities and Dean’s eyes flashed dangerously at that piece of news. He didn’t take defeat lightly.
MacLeod threw a furtive look across the top of his book and Sam took the initiative.
“Need to get something off your chest?”
MacLeod lay the book aside. “How long have you and Winchester been pals?”
Sam kept his expression carefully neutral. “We’re not pals, just ask Walt and Roy.”
MacLeod eyed him shrewdly. “I heard about your little game but I also hear you whispering like schoolgirls outside this cell every damned night.”
He cocked an eyebrow. “What are you planning?”
“Nothing that concerns you, MacLeod.”
”Really? Seventeen hundred dollars is a small fortune. A prisoner could never spend it all, even if he was in here for life. What’s it really for?”
Sam shook his head. “You ask too many questions.”
MacLeod shifted on the bunk and winced. Whatever the doctors might say, his kidney was still giving him trouble. He dropped his voice and Sam took a step forward into the cell.
“Your buddy doesn’t like talking to me much, but I wasn’t born yesterday. I know you’re planning to break him out of here and if you don’t deal me in I’ll have words with Zachariah. If you’re lucky you’ll lose your job; if not you’ll experience Yuma from a whole new perspective.”
Sam shrugged. “I never figured you for a stool pigeon.”
“Desperate times call for desperate measures.”
Sam pretended to consider but his heart rate was picking up. This was the opportunity he and Dean had been waiting for, the moment MacLeod initiated meaningful contact and gave them a bargaining chip.
“If we deal you in we’ll want something in return.”
“Of course you will. Unfortunately there’s not much I can offer you boys right now.”
Sam laughed. “Have you forgotten a train load of bullion? You can offer us a share in that.”
MacLeod sighed wearily. “Have you forgotten how my so-called colleagues shot me in the back and left me for dead? I have no sodding clue where that bullion went.”
“All we need are names, MacLeod. Tell us who did it and we’ll find them. That amount of gold won’t be easy to offload and they’ll be sitting on most of it.”
MacLeod was silent, apparently chewing it over but Sam was aware this whole scene was just another hand in a life size poker game. It was a while before he spoke again.
“You boys might fancy getting rich quick, but I’ve got affairs to settle. If you go after those treacherous bastards then I’m coming too.”
Sam stared, wrong footed by the statement. Actually breaking out of Yuma wasn’t something he’d ever considered and he had no authority or jurisdiction to do it. On top of that, the very idea of releasing a man as dangerous as Fergus MacLeod back into the wild made his skin crawl.
MacLeod sniggered. “What? You thought I’d be gullible enough to offer up those names then watch you both ride off into the sunset?”
Sam was flustered now and tried, unsuccessfully, to cover it up.
“Once we’ve got the names we’ll all bust out and you can be on your way.”
MacLeod shook his head, an aggravating smirk on his face.
“Don’t play me for a fool, sonny. You don’t get jack shit until we’re outside these walls and on the trail. You’ve got two days to think about it and in the meantime, get out of my sodding house.”
- ACES WILD (6/?)