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Deadman’s Gun
by Simarillion

Fandom: RPS (J²)
Rating: R/NC-17 (universe)
Beta: t.b.a.
Pairing: Jensen Ackles/Jared Padalecki
Warning: language, violence, political incorrectness, historical inaccuracy
Wordcount: 5,004
Summary: Jensen is given an ultimatum; he can hunt down his former gang members or he won't get to see the person that means the most to him again.
Disclaimer: None of the herein portrayed people are my own. They are real persons and any similarities between the story and their real life is coincidental. No money was, is, or will be made by writing this story and even the plot is 98% property of Rockstar Games.
The lyrics, the title and occasional music quotes were taken from the Read Dead Redemption Soundtrack.

Author's Note: This story just popped into my head and since I’m very much a slave to the epic awesomeness that is Red Dead Redemption, I couldn’t help myself. So, here I am again writing a story that is far too long for a person like me who is not a disciplined writer like all this authors who post dutifully the chapter per week, like clockwork.


Exodus in America

The glass is dirty, grey-brown with dust. It doesn’t matter though. The countryside is rushing past in a blur that looks like stripes and spots of green, grey and brown. He watches evergreens make way for leaved trees and shrubbery, only to be replaced by tall grass, rocks and cacti. It feels and looks like a journey back to the past.

“But Father, do you mean unless an innocent receives communion, they're destined to go to hell? That hardly seems fair.” He tears his eyes away from the monotone blur and looks two rows ahead. The young woman makes him feel old. Thirty is not old age, but seeing a frail young girl like the blond drives home that he might not be old, but he isn’t young either. Not anymore.

A priest is sitting with her. A look down at her lap and he sees her clutching a black leather bound book, the faded golden cross printed on the spine telling him that she’s holding a bible. A missionary then. Just what a place like the frontiers needs. Some naïve girl that will either be disillusioned, or find her death.

“What I mean to say, Adrienne, is that there is a great deal of difference between an innocent and a savage.” The cleric is reaching out and taking her hand. He looks rough compared to the girl.

“I never thought of it that way.” And with that he tunes them out again and goes back to watching the land fly by outside. There are no real mountains anymore, only hills and the occasional rock formation. Everything’s kind of read. So different from home.

He closes his eyes and leans his head against the window. The glass is warm from the sunshine and does nothing to reprieve the pressure in his head. Blocking out his surroundings, his mind immediately goes back to yesterday afternoon.

When he returns home from selling the furs and doing the purchases, he hitches the horse outside and goes inside to look for Jared. A present, something that had been cheap but was everything Jared has wanted for some time now. The inside of the house had been strangely quiet and when he had called his name Jared had not come.

Instead three men in fancy suits and bowler hats had appeared. In his house. His reaction had been to pull his gun, but the next three words had put him down faster than any gunslinger would have been able to. “We have Jared.”

Bowler hat tucked low; the speaker had looked like a snake. He knows people. In his past he has seen and done things that other people never heard of, and one thing he’s learned back then is to recognise people for what they really are. A man may look like some poor sod, but that doesn’t mean that he is one. More often than not it’s such prejudices and self-made assumptions that are the reason for the biggest failures.

This one, he had been dressed all official with his suit and his hat, but there’d been something about him. He knows that look; it’s been looking back at him from a mirror from time to time. Not so much in the recent past, but back then. During that time he’s trying to forget about. So he knew to be careful. The guy is dangerous.

“What have you done to him?” His heart had been beating real fast and he’d been able to hear the blood rushing in his ears. This had to be the worst nightmare scenario ever. The mere thought that Jared might be hurt or even dead had him feeling queasy.

“Let’s just say that we are taking care of him until you are back to resume that task.” Bowlerhat had been smiling at him with such sadistic pleasure that a cold shiver had run down his spine. He’d not been afraid that something might happen to him. He can take care of himself. But he did worry about Jared.

“Who are you and what do you want?” At that the other two suits, who so far had only been standing there and saying nothing, had stepped closer to what he assumed to be their boss. It made them look like a group of thugs.

“Well, Mr. Ackles, my name’s Mitchell Pileggi and I work for the Bureau of Investigation. As you can very well imagine, the file we have on you and your friends is quite extensive. Both, you and Mr. Padalecki are mentioned time and again in it.” The moment he had heard Bureau of Investigation he knows that it’s over. All the running, hiding and keeping low had been for nothing. It had been nothing but foolishness to believe they would be able to leave their old life behind. Too many things they had done had caused so much grief, anything but punishment would have been unfair.

“You see, I find myself in a bit of a predicament Mr. Ackles. Justice is important to me and a thug like yourself has to pay for what he’s done. The same goes for Mr. Padalecki.” Pileggi sneers at him as he continues talking: “Still, I have come to offer you a deal. I take that you are familiar with Fred Lehne. He has proved himself to be quite a nuisance.”

“So.” The word gets almost stuck in his throat as he tries to portray a calmness that he is severely lacking right now. Jensen would like nothing more than to get this whole thing over with, but it looks like the suits enjoy their dramatics.

“So, I would appreciate your visiting Fred Lehne and convince him to come and meet with me.” The sneer, which is ugly enough on its own, gets even uglier when it morphs into a smile. “Should you be not convincing enough, you can always make sure that he won’t be causing any trouble anymore.”

“What if I don’t want to visit Lehne?” But he doesn’t need to hear the answer, because they’ve made it very clear what to expect if he refuses to cooperate. Pileggi just smiles harder and Jensen forces himself to keep from planting his fist in the smug face. “Okay.”

“We should get going then.”

The suits step outside waiting for him to get the things he needs. They don’t even pretend that they have to be weary of Jensen shooting them in the back because they know that Jared is a bargaining chip that is much too valuable to him. Quickly he stuffs his second hunting knife and the bag with coins into the saddlebag, packs a little bit of provisions and his duster and locks the house up.

Outside the snow is slowly melting, muddy brown and green patches in the white blanket that covers everything. The agents of the BOI are already sitting on their horses and Jensen hurries to tie the saddle bag down and unhitch his horse. The dark brown bay stud is throwing back his head and neighing with displeasure. The ride to Broken Tree had been long and so soon after coming home, the horse does not want to head out again.

A pat on the tense neck and some kind words, and the reluctance is gone. He follows Pileggi and his thugs. The ride through the forest up North to Beecher’s Creek is long and silent. Not like he actually wants to talk with any of them, but still it is a silence that is hard to endure. More than once he has to keep from humming to himself to hear at least some kind of noise.

They arrive in Beecher’s Creek in the evening and he’s left at the saloon, money to for the room in his hands and informed that he has to be up and ready in the morning. After making sure that his horse is taken care of, Jensen heads inside and rents a room. The saloon is dimly lit, there are a couple of tables in the back with men seated around them. There’s poker and liar’s dice and some other gambling going on.

At the counter he orders a whiskey.

“Hey there handsome. How about I take good care of you?” A small hand runs up his arm and comes to rest on his shoulder. “A man like you needs to let go of some steam. I can help with that.”

Jensen sets down the empty glass and looks at the scantily clad girl – for she’s much too young to be called a woman. Her bustier and her ruffled skirt are a little torn from the constant washing and the rough handling. She has a sickly look to her face and he wonders of she’s ill. Doing what she’s doing it would not be much of a surprise.

“Sorry, I’m not one to screw around on my partner.” There’s a short stabbing feeling in his chest as the thought flits through his head that Jared will laugh about this incident when Jensen tells him. But Jared is somewhere unknown, held captive by the government, and it’s uncertain they will meet again. Of course he ‘s going to do all he can to get Jared back, but the odds are that either Jensen is going to die, trying to fulfil the BOI’s terms, or that Pileggi isn’t going to keep his word.

“Your loss.” She lets go of him and saunters over to the next guy standing at the counter, drinking a glass whiskey.

Nodding his thanks to the bar keeper, he heads upstairs and to the room he’s rented. The corridor is dark, the only light shining through the dirty at the other end. His room is just as dark and the bed is less than comfortable but Jensen just makes sure that the door is locked and then he settles down for the night. He needs to be rested for what comes next and the last thing he wants to do is show any sign of weakness in front of Pileggi and his bowler hat thugs.

Sleep is not easy to come by but after some time of tossing and turning the day’s events catch up to him and exhaustion proves to be too much.

It’s the next morning that he awakes, his back sore from the uncomfortable position he fell asleep in, and he quickly finishes his morning absolutions before heading out. The saloon is almost empty, one man sleeping at a table, his head on the top and drooling onto it, and only the barkeeper is still up, wiping down the counter and nodding at Jensen as he heads out. His stomach is growling but he ignores that. There are more important things to do right now.

His horse snuffles content as he unhitches the reins and leads it away from the post. The streets are very quiet, only few people around at that time of the day. Jensen meets Pileggi, who only has one thug with him today, at the dock. Reluctantly he has to leave his horse behind. There is no space and money for the stud to be shipped down south to Blackwater and then carted in a train to Armadillo.

“Your punctuality makes me oh so happy, Mr. Ackles.” The taunting comment has Jensen bite his tongue to keep from reacting to the remark. Only a couple of more hours in their company and he’ll be on his own again.

The tickets are already bought and he follows the two agents onto the Steamboat. The name ‘Morningstar’ is painted on the hull. Cautious and more than a little wary he makes certain to keep an eye on everything around him. Pileggi and the other bowler hat are already seated on a bench, seemingly not paying attention to what Jensen is doing.

Only when the boat’s anchor is hoisted and the steam engines are happily huffing and puffing, he sits down as well, careful not to sit next to his companions. Most people are families and couples on their way to visit family. An elderly woman sits down next to him, holding a basket with wool and knitting needles.

“It’s such a nice day, isn’t it?” She smiles kindly at him and Jensen doesn’t have the heart to disagree with her.

“Sure is, Ma’am.” This seems to make her happy and she unpacks her needles and continues on making what looks to be a pullover.

Jensen watches her for a couple of minutes but then he goes back to staring out at the water and thinking about all that has happened in the last two days. It all seems like some much too realistic nightmare. Coming home and finding Jared gone. The BOI agents and the ridiculous assignment about Fred Lehne. Things would only get worse from now on. Jensen knows that.

They arrive in Blackwater around noon. Fortunately the Pillegi keeps his mouth shut while he brings Jensen to the train station. Even though he hasn’t been to Blackwater all that often, Jensen doesn’t pay attention to the town. His thoughts are occupied by his mission and the dangers are waiting for him. And never to forget the danger Jared is in right now.

At the train station Pileggi hands him a ticket. “At Armadillo you’ll find help at the saloon. Nothing much, just a guide and horses.”

He nods and takes the ticket. The train is already at the platform and steam’s rising from the rails under the locomotive. The part of the journey into his past starts but this time without unwanted company.

“Keep in mind that your success is linked to the well-being of Mr. Padalecki.” As if Jensen ever would be able to forget that Jared is counting on him to succeed.

Another nod and he gets on the train. There are a couple of people already sitting in the compartment and Jensen walks down the aisle to an unoccupied row. Plopping down onto the wooden bench he looks out of the window, relieved to see that Pileggi and his lap dog are already gone. The last thing he needs is to see the bastard’s face one last time before the train leaves.

He slumps down some more and tries to make himself as comfortable as possible. He’s got a couple of hours of a train ride ahead.

“Not only do people now have motorcars, father, but I heard pretty soon we will be able to fly.” The girl’s voice has Jensen switch back to the present and he watches the continued interaction between the priest and the young missionary. Apparently he’s missed out on the rest of the prior conversation.

“No, angels can fly, Adrienne.” The older man leans forward and since he’s got his back to him, Jensen can only assume that he’s smiling kindly at his young charge. The tone of voice at least suggests it.

“No, no, apparently people can fly. Didn't you hear? Out in Kansas a man even got a car to fly.” This has Jensen snort softly. What will be next? People growing wings like chicken? The world is getting stranger and stranger with every day. Sometimes Jensen feels really old. There is so much change happening everywhere that at times he feels like he can’t keep up.

“I hardly think so, Adrienne.” With a small smile he looks away from the two in front of him and goes back to watching the countryside fly by. They are almost at their destination, Jensen starting to feel anxious to get going. If there’s one thing he absolutely hates, it’s having to wait.

As it is they arrive about half an hour later. It’s late afternoon as the train stops at Armadillo Station and together with most of the other passengers, Jensen gets off. He finds himself standing on the platform, looking around. The station house is right in front of him and he walks through, past the telegraph and the announcement posters, out into the town.

He’s never been to Armadillo, but it looks just like the places he used to visit and stay in back in the days. The dusty main road and the wooden buildings lining the sides. To the left there is the saloon and the music from the piano player inside can be heard from where he’s standing.

He crosses the street and heads into the saloon. The interior is rather dark, almost no light streaming inside trough the windows.

“Mr. Ackles!” A voice from the back has him navigate this way through the tables and chairs, past poker players and scantily clad girls. A shaggy haired man with an unkempt beard is waving at him while running his other hand all over the corset of the girl that is with him. “Mr Ackles, over here!”

The girl is shoved aside when Jensen reaches the man, a hand shoved at him that Jensen shakes out of reflex. “You must be Jensen Ackles.”

A takes a glimpse at their female company. “Sometimes.”

“I’m Rick. Your friend from Blackwater hired me to guide you.” The clothes are as unkempt as the rest of the guy. Jensen isn’t one to judge, having spent days at a time without washing once, but this fellow was a whole different kind. He looked like some bum.

“They ain’t my friends but pleased to meet you Rick.” There’s no repeat of the hand shake but they nod at each other, agreeing on the rather dubious pleasure this is for both of them. But, they accepted their jobs and now they got to go with what they’ve got.

“I’ve got the horses saddled and ready out front. You ain't gonna find sturdier horses than all of these in all of New Austin.” Jensen’s going to believe that once he’s seen it. It’s hard to think of his horse that is in someone’s care in Beecher’s Creek, not knowing how they’re going to treat it. If there ever was a time when he could have needed a trusty steed, then it would be now.

They exit the saloon and to the left he finds two horses hitched to a post. At a closer look, he wouldn’t really described them as the finest horses to be found, but they look healthy and not malnourished as is sometimes the case. Rick climbs up and leaves him with the red appaloosa.

“Easy on the spurs now. We don't need to draw undue attention.” And off they go. They head out south of the Armadillo, the road following along the rail tracks. “So, it's Fort Mercer you wanna visit?”

“That's right.” The tracks veer off a little to the left as the road continues on straight ahead.

“Ain't taken nobody up to the Fort in a long time. Strange place for a decent fella to visit, if you don't mind me sayin'.” Rick gives his horse the spurs and they speed their pace up a little.

At the question Jensen has to fight a grin: “Who said I was a decent fella?”

Maybe Rick didn’t hear him or maybe he just decided to ignore the comment Jensen made. As it is the old guy just rambles on: “It's been abandoned for years now. Folks say it was built during the Mexican War. All kinds of soldiers around back then.”

“Why'd they leave?” It interests him how Fred was able to get hold of a Fort. Even though his former fellow gang member had always been one of the guys who had been the first to take something on, no matter how dangerous, taking over a Fort from the military is no small feat.

“I ain't entirely sure. I heard they had to go up North to fight Indians. Or maybe they got tired of being soldiers and went looking for gold, you know how things is. So what are you doing up at the Fort?” Well, the Fort being abandoned makes a lot of sense.

“I'm looking for an old friend.” And he just leaves it at that.

“Well, like I says, you ain't gonna find many folk round those parts these days. And those you do find are 'bout as sociable as an ulcerated back tooth. I mean, I ain't one to judge a man by the company he keeps, but...” Jensen feels the need to stop this particular bout of babbling.

“Well, he ain't been friends for a long time...”

“Are you planning on spending any time in Armadillo, Mr. Ackles?” Apparently his guide had gotten the drift and was changing the topic. If there are two things that Jensen definitely doesn’t want to talk to strangers about, it’s his past with Fred Lehne and the circumstances of his coming here.

“I doubt it. I ain't planning on staying very long.” He wants nothing more than to return home to Jared.

“Well, if you're fixin' for some female company, you can do a lot worse than Armadillo. Fine as cream gravy, they are. Not like Thieves' Landing. Dang, those girls ain't even fit for a drinkin' man to hole up with.” Their road veers closer to the rail road tracks again. They pass a strange rock formation and a rabbit zig zags over the road and disappears to the left over the tracks.

“I'm a married man, I'm afraid.” Or at least as close as he’ll ever get. It’s one thing that is bothering him. He knows that even though people know that Jared and him are spoken for and who they are spoken for, it will never be okay to say it out loud. More than one man has been hanged for doing and being what Jensen and Jared are.

“Ain't we all? Yeah, so it was the Marshal who hired me. Jeffrey D. Morgan, do you know him?”

“I think I heard his name.” Morgan has been mentioned in the papers once or twice. Even though news from down here rarely reaches them up in the North in Tall Trees, the stories of Jeffrey D. Morgan have made up there.

“Says he got a telegram from some Blackwater big bugs askin' for a guide. I guess it's none of my business.” One thing Rick isn’t, is subtle. He’s more like a hammer. Bam, and there is what I want to know.

“ That's right.” The less people know, the better for Jensen.

“You ain't very talkative, are you?” The question is asked in an amused tone of voice. Apparently his guide is someone who finds things amusing, no matter what or who they are. Jensen has to admit that he envies Rick this particular trait. More often than not Jensen is taking things too serious or contemplates the meaning of a comment for so long that Jared has to whack over the head. That ends his brooding every time.

“No.” They are crossing the railroad tracks and follow a small match up a hill. The bushes and and rocks are almost enclosing them, and there’s rustling here and there from animals.

“I'm just chewin' the dog, mister. It's how I am. I don't mean nothin' by it.” And most likely his guide doesn’t mean anything by it, but Jensen’s learned the hard what to say and when or where or even who to say it to.

“Trust me. There's things you're better off not knowin'.” And he means it like that. The less Rick knows, the better. It might happen that word gets out of his involvement and as long as he knows nothing about anything, the saver he’s going to be.

There’s some more rustling in the bushes, followed by some yipping. A pack of coyotes chases off, hunting a rabbit. Looking out, Jensen sees the sun sinking and dying the sky in orange and yellow. It’s evening and the night will be coming soon. Hopefully his business will be finished before the sun is fully set. Finding his way back in the dark is not something he’s looking forward to doing.

“I tell you, Mr. Ackles, those coyotes eat better than I do.” Jensen sees them fight over the dead rabbit. Not a lot for the three coyotes. “Almost there, Mr. Ackles. Just over this hill.”

The climb continues for a little longer and then the reach the top. From up here they are able to see the white construction of Fort Mercer. The path leads down to a road that passes right by the Fort. The building is mocking him from the distance, showing him that things are going to be a lot harder than he had hoped they would be.

“Listen, mister. This here is what's left of Fort Mercer. Some gang rode in and took the place over.” There are signs of neglect, like the crumbling wall to the left, but all in all the Fort looks pretty much impenetrable. The big question is, how is Jensen going to get in there and get Fred out.

“So I understand.” Crickets are chirping in the background and somehow the whole scene, sunset, crickets and the peaceful picture of the white Fort in front of him, make him wonder if he’s awake or dreaming. The whole situation is just plain crazy.

“This is where we part ways, friend. You have yourself a good time.” And just like that his chatty guide turns his horse around and heads back to Armadillo. Jensen stays a little longer up the hill, but then he makes his move, knowing that waiting isn’t going to achieve anything. The path lets him out right opposite the Fort’s main gate.

Climbing down from the horse, he takes a deep breath and walks up to the tall gate. Besides the wild animals nothing can be heard. It’s almost as if the Fort had been abandoned.

“Fred! Fred, I've come for you! Fred Lehne. Come out here right now.” His voice echoes slightly off the white walls. At first there’s no reaction but then he gets his reply.

“Go away now, Jensen. Don't make me kill you.” At least now he knows that Lehne is in the Fort. The voice immediately reminds him of the past. Of times and places where he had heard it before. It’s those days that are the reason why he finds himself now here, outside this Fort and trying to persuade or bully Fred into surrender.

“Nobody needs to kill anyone, Fred.” And hopefully nobody would kill Jensen. Not only doesn’t he want to die, but who knows what will happen to Jared of Jensen doesn’t succeed.

There’s shadow right over the gate and then Fred steps out and points his gun at Jensen. Nothing’s changed there. Fred is still as hot and foul tempered as he was back then. The only difference is that Jensen finds now himself at the end of the barrel.

“You must think I was born yesterday. You always did think I was an idiot.” At that Jensen has to stop himself from rolling his eyes. As if Fred had ever been smart. A bully? Yes. Dangerous? Yes. But smart? No. Never.

“That ain't fair, Fred. You were as my brother. I've come to try to save you.” He decides to try and smooth-talk his former friend. It’s better than starting out with intimidation. From down here is rather hard to intimidate someone who’s looking down on you anyway.

There’s movement up there and two other guys are stepping out, totting their rifles at Jensen and watching his every move. Things have just gotten a lot more complicated. Of course he had known that Fred wouldn’t be alone in the Fort, but it’s much harder to outdraw three shooters than one.

“Do I look like I need saving?” At the moment it looks quite the opposite. Out here without any cover and three guns drawn on him, Jensen wonders if he should have tried a less direct approach. Not a lot of thinking had gone into this. Maybe this is exactly the scenario Pileggi had had in mind when he had sent Jensen off in Blackwater.

“Fred please. They want to kill us all. I can help you.” It’s time to think of alternatives. True, trying to win Lehen over to his side is not really the brightest idea one can have but Jensen is desperate. He doesn’t really know what to do. It seems like lately whatever thing he does goes horribly wrong.

“Well, you never tried to save me before. You only seemed to save yourself.” Fred is lowering his gun somewhat but he doesn’t take it down. There’s no way Jensen is going to survive this.

“Fred, I implore you, think about this.” And the moment the words are out of his mouth he gets angry. Like full on enraged. What is it with people that they think they can come to people’s homes and enter people’s lives, forcing them to do their dirty work? First the BOI agents and now Lehne has him beg like he has no self-worth.

“You implore me? You implore me? You always were one for fancy words. Well, things are different now, Jensen. Now, I'm in charge! No more Sterling, and no more you.” There is an ugly bite to Lehne’s words as he almost spits them out. It’s quite clear that he hates Jensen and he wants nothing else but get rid of the nuisance that is standing in front of his gates. There’s never been any lost love between them. Not back then. And definitely not now. “Implores. I, I implores you to go back and tell them to send someone just a little bit more impressive next time.”

“Well...” So no talking or negotiating it is going to be then. Jensen slowly and discreetly reaches to his side where the revolver is in it’s holster. But before he can draw the weapon, a loud shot sounds and he can feel the stinging pain of a bullet into his side.

“Poor Jensen.” The mocking words are the last he hears before everything goes dark.

Continued: New Friends, Old Problems


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