BETRAYAL





He wondered if insanity was hereditary. Austin shook his head. Of course it was. He wasn't a fool...he knew better. After all, his parents had seen he had received a suitable education.

He swayed slightly in the saddle as his horse followed Hellbitch back to Curtis Wells. Both he and Call were shot up. He saw Call wince slightly as guided Hellbitch around a hole in the road. It improved Austin's disposition to see that Call wasn't invincible....so he could feel pain.

There were times Austin doubted it. Nothing seemed to touch Call anymore.

Yet, Call hadn't gunned him down when he'd revealed the plan to ambush him...and revealed his own complicity in the plot as well. Austin winced as his horse jostled him stepping around the same hole in the road. Call must have been too surprised at his confession, Austin decided. Must have been it.

Yet, as much as he hated Call (and he was positive he did hate him), he had spoken the truth when he'd told Call he just couldn't let him be ambushed and killed. He'd seen the uncertainty in Call's eyes when he'd come up behind him. He knew at that point Call didn't know if Austin was there to save him...or finish him off.

Austin coughed when he chuckled. He bent over his saddle to catch his breath. At least he knew Call wasn't in control that time.....

Call glanced over his shoulder as Austin coughed. He saw him start to straighten up and turned back around. Austin was a damn fool, he decided. A fool to put himself in the positions he found himself in and then a fool to try...

...try and what a voice inside his head told him....save your life?

Call scowled catching his breath as he moved too quickly in the saddle. Didn't need his help, he told himself. Austin's gettin' just as power hungry as Mosby, he silently accused. Austin woulda dragged his dead body back and given it to Mosby just to prove....

Call glanced over his shoulder at Austin. No, Austin had made a mistake...but he'd confessed to Call and even put his own life at risk to save him. He grudgingly admitted Austin had courage.

When had it gone wrong between them he wondered. His mind automatically shrank from the night Hannah was killed. He and Austin had been like brothers, he remembered. An only child, he'd never realized the lack he'd felt growing up. But that friendship had died along with Hannah. ..or had it?

He'd felt no worry or concern in riding out with Austin. True, when the attack came, he had yelled lashing out at Austin. And, when Austin suddenly appeared behind him, he momentarily wondered who's side Austin was on. In a sudden flash of insight, he remembered Austin standing, fully exposed, firing his gun in Call's defense...almost daring bullets to strike him.

They rode silently into Curtis Wells. Neither saw Josiah frowning and worried as he stood watching them slowly dismount.

Call turned as he heard Austin gasp as he fell to his knees. Call started back then saw Austin grit his teeth and pull himself to his feet. No matter what, he thought, Austin had saved his life today...perhaps twice.

He took a step back and reached out a hand to steady Austin who took a few stumbling steps forward.

Maybe it was the pain of the bullets lodged deep in their bodies...maybe it was the sun slowly setting telling them it was time to call it a day...maybe it was just two people who deep down wanted to be friends...but just couldn't figure out how.

Call held onto Austin's arm as they walked towards Cleese's office. Austin glanced at Call and didn't see the usual smirk he had when looking at Austin.

For this time...for this day...it was enough.



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