DISCLAIMER: The following story is a work of fan fiction. It is not intended to infringe on the copyrights held by John Watson, Trilogy Entertainment, MGM, or any other powers that be. The characters, concept, and setting are not the property of the various authors involved in this story, but the authors do retain any rights to the story itself. Please don't reproduce in any way or sue without permission from the authors.

The Seven Meet . . .

by the Inkslingers

JD didn't like this guy. Not one bit. For one thing, he was just too cocky. For another thing, Casey got all tongue-tied whenever she was around him (and she was wearing those "skirts" again -- a bad sign). And finally . . . well, he was a kid. A kid! This town wasn't big enough for both of them.

He'd only been in town for twenty-four hours, and already, JD had had enough of Little Joe Cartwright, thank you very much.

Buck could not believe it. All of the ladies in town were no longer paying attention to him. They now lusted for another man. He could not figure it out. The man was no way as good looking as he was or as charming as he was. He knew how to treat a woman right and now this man was taking all of his glory.

He sat in the saloon and looked out the window at the passing townspeople. Then he saw him. The man who was causing all of his misery. A woman ran up to him and was literally swooning over him. Buck sighed. He could not believe that a man named Brisco County Jr. was giving him such competition. What kind of a name was that anyway?

He made his way over to the porch where Chris Larabee sat with Vin Tanner. Chris and Vin were clearly amused at Buck's reaction to this stranger.

Buck glared at them, his anger simmering until he finally blurted out, "WHAT?!"

Chris answered in his frustratingly casual way. "Well, it just seems like your animal magnetism ain't helping you, Buck."

"Helping me? Helping me?" Buck cackled. "Believe me, I don't need any help with the ladies. This . . . County Brisket feller must have some kind of special cologne or something--something that drugs the ladies until they don't know no better."

"A cologne?" Chris looked at Buck like he had grown another head.

"Yea," Buck said, defensively. "They had them back in the olden days, you know like a kind of a . . . "

"Love potion," Vin interrupted, an eyebrow raised.

Buck frowned and he started to tell him off when Chris pointed to the street.

"Looks like you're not the only one with lady problems."

"I ain't got. . ." Buck said, turning to see JD chasing Casey down the street. Finally, she spun around and yelled at him.

"You don't own me, JD, and if a nice boy asks me to go to dinner, there's nothing you can do about it." She squared off with him. "He treats me like a lady, JD. You wouldn't know a lady if she . . . bit you in the nose. He asks me to dinner ahead of time and dresses up for me. You can't take me for granted anymore. Maybe you'll think before you just assume that I'm available at your beck and call."

"But . . ."

This was embarrassing. The kid was stammering.

"But nothing." Casey pushed her finger into JD's chest. "You need to grow up."

"Casey, that's crazy . . ."

JD didn't notice the young man who had approached them. "Is there a problem here?" an easy voice asked.

JD turned to find himself face-to-face with that well-dressed young man wearing a hat pulled down over challenging blue eyes. JD tried to look challenging, putting on a face he'd seen Chris Larabee use to intimidate an adversary. Only . . . it didn't seem to be working on this Joe fellow.

"Yes, there is a problem." JD took Casey's arm. "This is my girl, and you've got no business . . . sniffing around here."

"JD!!!" Casey cried, and she balled up her fist and hit him in the shoulder. "I'm not your . . . puppy dog and I'm sure not 'your' girl. And you've got no cause to talk to Little Joe like that."

Little Joe gave Casey his most charming grin. "Why don't we go get that dinner now?" He took her arm and the two of them strolled off leaving JD standing there with his mouth open.

"That boy's got the romantic ability God gave a rock." Buck observed sadly to his friends.

"Well, why don't you help him out and give him some o' them secrets you brag on so much?" Vin laughed.

"Yeah, Buck. Help him out." Chris agreed smiling at the consternation on Buck's face.

"I already tried." Buck admitted defeatedly.

JD stalked off to the sheriff's office muttering under his breath.

"This has been a real interestin' morning, but I think I'm gonna take me a ride out to Nettie's." Vin told the two gunslingers happily. "She's been pestering me to fix that leak in the barn roof, and I'm in the mood for some of her chicken and dumplings for supper."

"Hey Vin, how bout if I give you a hand?" Buck offered, figuring Miss Nettie's chicken and dumplings would sure beat anything he could rustle up.

"You wanta come along Chris? Vin asked.

"Chris seriously considered going with them, but finally shook his head no. "I better hang around here, and keep an eye on things. JD's a mite distracted just now."

All three laughed and Buck and Vin waved as they mounted their horses and headed for Nettie's.

To be continued . . .

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