Reed '04" You Know Buck

"You know, Buck, I've known you ten years, and every time you see a pretty woman, your brain drops right below your belt."

"Now, I thought we've known each other twelve years."

"Why you doing this Buck?"

"'Cause he asked for it, Chris."

"And, you're givin' him what he wants."

"Oh, I'm gonna take him. You see that fella? He's prettier than a heifer in a flower bed."

"That ain't no reason."

"Well, how about I got a reputation to defend? I'm just standing up for what is right. Now…"

"That's your pride talking!"

"No, that's me talking!"

"Someone's gonna get killed ' cause you're not man enough to walk away."

"Well, let me tell you somethin'. Why don't you take your own advice? Walk away."

"All right Buck."

"All right."

Chris turned away, but Buck wasn't done.

"Actually, not all right."

"What?" Chris turned back.

"Where the hell do you get the right to say all that? My pride talking? I'm not man enough to walk way? You listen to yourself?" Buck holstered his gun and turned to face Chris. "You've shot men for looking at you wrong, for spilling your drink, I've seen you shoot down teenage boys who couldn't have out drawn you in a month of Sundays, you could've winged them, but you didn't, you shot um dead and walked away."

Chris could almost hear Gage Lawless, he'd said the very same thing.

Buck wasn't done. "How dare you! You self-righteous son of a bitch? How dare you accuse me of doing this for pride or for my dick? Twelve years, twelve fucking years - I remember even if you don't - and you don't know that much about me!" He held his finger and thumb about an inch apart inches from Chris face. "Well you know what? I can walk away, I can walk away from you. I could 'a done it a lot of times, times when you were so drunk you couldn't find you own fly to piss. Passed out in some hotel room, not caring that the father, brother, cousin, friend or even wife of your last victim was out for revenge, I could have walked away, but I didn't, not then." With that Buck turned on his heal and strode away.

Chris stared in stunned silence as his oldest friend disappeared through the scrub, heading back to town. He'd screwed up royally and he knew it. He wasn't even sure why he did it, why he'd even tried to stop Buck. True Buck hadn't been in a genuine face to face gunfight, that he knew of, for some time, it wasn't Buck's style, sure he'd get in to fist fights over woman but not gunfights. Buck was fast, faster than most, he wasn't as he was, or JD, possibly not as fast as Ezra, of course it didn't help that Buck almost never bothered to practice. He was naturally fast and saw that as enough, more than likely fast enough to take Don Paulo. Even so he had to know they were never going to let the little weasel leave with Inez. So why was his friend doing this now? Inez gave no indication she was about to fall for Buck's charms, quite the reverse. Whatever he had said about Buck and his dick, it wasn't his style to win a woman with this kind of macho display. Shaking his head Chris followed Buck back to town.

He watched the meeting with Don Paulo with mounting horror. What the hell was Buck thinking? Swords? What the hell did Buck know about swords? Even Ezra tried to get him to back down - but no! Damn Buck and his pride, out there in the street with all the world watching, he was never going to back down. Then again, he wouldn't have either. After that Buck disappeared into the church with Ezra and then Nathan for the rest of the day. The sounds of steel on steel rung out and Chris had to hope Buck was getting some kind of instruction.

Don Paulo's goons were watching Inez and Chris and the others were watching them. So when Inez confronted Buck outside the church Chris was standing right beside it, able to hear every word.

**How stupid are you Larabee?** He chided himself. **Why didn't you realise what this was all about? He couldn't save his mother, so he tries to save all the others. He couldn't be her white knight, so he's going to be Inez's, and every other damsel in distress he comes across. He's right, I don't know him, I love him, but I don't know him. He knows me, knows me better than I know myself. All those years and I didn't bother to get to know him, didn't bother to break down those walls of his. Maybe if I'd got to know him, Sarah and I would never have married, maybe Buck and I would be more than friends now. I thought love was enough, and it's not. **