Big Rocks Keep Falling on My Head

by Hombre

Notes: With apologies for the story's title to the song Raindrops keep falling on my head by B.J. Thomas.

"What's the matter, horse?" Ezra asked in exasperation as his mount started limping. He dismounted quickly and eventually persuaded the animal to lift the affected leg so he could look at it. Ezra studied the underside of the hoof but couldn't see a stone caught there so he let go and pulled the horse onward by its reins. It limped along with head bobbing and the gambler sighed in resignation.

"Ez? What's up?" Vin called from his horse in front.

"He's lame."

The tracker dismounted and walked back toward Ezra with his own horse trailing behind like a well-behaved hound dog.

"I really do not want to have to walk all the way home, Mr. Tanner," Ezra said wearily. He should have learned by now that what you want and what you get are two totally different things.

The two men were traveling back to Four Corners after visiting Bitter Creek to deliver a prisoner. They had been riding through a rocky canyon for the past hour and Ezra was heartily sick of the monotonous scenery. He'd been lagging behind and grumbling continuously. Vin had as usual been ignoring the constant babble from behind and had been lost in his own thoughts until he realized Ezra was having trouble with his horse.

Ezra looked up at the sky as he waited for Vin to finish checking his mount and he saw the two circling buzzards that had been following them constantly. "Go away you feathered devils! If you ever get to feed off my body I hope you choke on my gizzards," the gambler shouted as he waved a threatening fist in the air.

Another couple of minutes passed in silence and then the tracker sighed and straightened up after examining the horse's leg in detail. He heard an unwelcome sound and looked up as he felt something strike his arm and he saw a wall of rocks heading toward them. Ezra was right in their path and Vin moved to help the oblivious grumbling con man.

"Look out, Ez." The tracker pushed the gambler out of the way and took the full force of the rock fall himself.

Ezra didn't get away without injury though despite Vin's best efforts to push him out of danger. The gambler was struck on the head by a large boulder and fell to the ground to lay motionless. The horses scattered with terrified snorts and finally silence fell as the dust settled and the rocks came to a sliding halt.

When Ezra woke a few hours later he looked around dazedly and tried to remember what had happened. He picked up his squashed hat from nearby and knocked it back into shape after first getting rid of the dirt. He then jammed it back on his head gingerly and winced in pain. He put a hand to the tender spot and explored the injured area with gentle fingers and looked at the resulting blood in horror.

"Vin?" he yelled as he suddenly remembered the cause of his injury. He looked round frantically and saw a dirty hand poking out from under the pile of rocks nearby.

Ezra stood up and immediately fell over again onto his backside when the ground seemed to wobble beneath his feet. He put a hand back to his head and waited for the dizziness to pass before finally struggling as far as his hands and knees. He crawled on all fours toward Vin and finally managed to stand up with the aid of a large rock. He then set about removing the boulders from his friend's body as gently as he could. It took him a long time because he had to stop and rest frequently when dizziness or nausea overcame him. His hands were covered in blisters by the time he'd finished and his body ached after the all the unwanted activity. Finally though Vin was released from his tomb and Ezra knelt beside him anxiously.

"Mr. Tanner? Are you still in the land of the living?" The con man reached out and felt for a pulse with a raw and bleeding hand just as the tracker stirred and groaned loudly. Ezra sat back on his heels and sighed in relief as he rubbed his brow with the back of his hand so as not to get sweat in the wounds on his palm.

"Ez?" Vin whispered as he tested out his limbs one by one. His vision was very blurred and he blinked slowly in an attempt to clear it.

"Yes, I'm here, Vin."

"What happened? Feels like I've been in a stampede."

"No, rock fall," Ezra replied simply as he closed his eyes momentarily.

"Shit. Yeah, now I remember," Vin said before crying out when he found out that his left leg wouldn't work.

"I suggest you just lay still until I've checked you for injuries, Mr. Tanner." Ezra took a deep breath and began a slow examination of his friend now he'd recovered a bit of his own strength. The gambler's hands hurt and stung as he used them but he bit his lip against the pain and continued doggedly with his task. "Well you've got a broken leg, broken ribs and a head injury," the gambler informed the man. "How do you feel?"

"Just dandy after that news, Ez. How we gonna get home? Are the horses still about?" Vin asked with a loud groan and a cough.

"I haven't looked yet. You were my primary concern." Ezra got up slowly and stood with his arms held away from his body as his balance returned gradually. He then began to search for their mounts and he sincerely hoped they hadn't set off for town on their own. While he searched for them he also looked for anything he could use as a splint for Vin's broken leg. He was relieved to find the horses not too far away and he took them back to Vin and secured them as best he could nearby. He then disappeared again to pick up some branches he'd seen and he came back laden down and dropped his hoard of wood near the tracker. He sat down and put his head in his hands and waited for some strength to return as he tried not to pass out.

"Ez? You okay?" Vin asked as he watched the gambler closely. The tracker tried to shift slightly on the hard ground to get a better look at his friend. He didn't move much though because his leg began throbbing constantly and he groaned once more in pain.

"I'll be alright." Ezra sat up straight and tried to ignore how he was feeling when he heard his friend's distress. He sighed as he looked up at the sky and smiled when he saw the buzzards had gone. "One good piece of news, Mr. Tanner. We obviously weren't dead enough for our feathered friends to bother with because they've gone. I half expected to wake up and find them feasting on my body."

"Perhaps they had a nibble but found you tasted sour, Ez."

"Well, I don't feel nibbled but maybe you're right because I've got a hole in my pant leg that looks beak-shaped," Ezra said as he poked a finger in the tear wonderingly. "I think I feel rather insulted that I wasn't good enough for them if what you say is true."

"Make yer mind up, Ez! First you don't want them to eat you and then you do."

"Well, it's hard enough to get along with humans in this life without the animal world shunning me too," the gambler complained.

Vin laughed and then put a hand to his side as he took a deep breath against the pain in his body.

Ezra looked back at Vin when he saw his discomfort and said, "I didn't thank you earlier Mr. Tanner for your good deed and I'm only sorry you had to suffer for it. You should have left me to be squashed as God intended. Now, let me get your leg splinted and then I'll turn my thoughts to how we get home."

Ezra stood up and walked unsteadily over to Vin after selecting a couple of suitable branches to use for his splints. He felt Vin squirm in his grasp as he examined his broken leg in more detail. "I'm going to have to straighten it first, Vin."

"It's alright, Ez. If I scream you'll be the only one to hear me and if you tell the others that I did, I'll just shoot ya," Vin drawled as he steeled himself for what lay ahead. He then began counting up to one hundred in a vain attempt to keep his mind occupied as he waited for Ezra to begin his treatment.

Ezra first collected an old shirt he had in his saddlebag and tore it into strips so he could use the material for bandages. Even that simple task had him fighting back tears because of the pain it caused in his hands. The gambler got his composure back and then knelt beside Vin and placed his hands gently above and below the break in Vin's leg. He tightened his grip and swiftly moved the bones back into line and smiled sympathetically at Vin who had indeed screamed loudly. The gambler then worked his way through Vin's other injuries gently and it took him quite some time until he tied the last bandage on his friend's body. He'd used up most of his water to clean the man's wounds and although Ezra was thirsty he gave Vin a drink and let him keep the canteen for the journey home.

The pale tracker looked up at the equally pale con man and asked again worriedly, "Are you really okay, Ez?" He knew he was being selfish in wanting the gambler to be alright but who else was going to get him home if Ezra passed out? Vin didn't fancy having to stay out in the middle of nowhere until they were either found alive or had died from lack of water.

"I'll survive and I need to concentrate my efforts on getting you back to Nathan. I can't afford to wallow in my own trifling injuries. I sincerely hope I didn't cause you too much distress with my ministrations, Mr. Tanner. I know I haven't got the same magic hands as Nathan especially given the current circumstances."

"You did just fine, Ez," Vin said as he wiped his brow and sighed. His body kept switching from hot to cold and he either shivered every so often or had to wipe the sweat from his face. "I'm grateful to ya," he said wearily.

"Well, I haven't got you home yet so I may still fail you, my friend," Ezra said with a faint smile as he got to his feet once more. He rubbed both knees gingerly to ease the pain in them from where he'd been kneeling on the stony ground but that just set up renewed pain in his hands. He sucked in a deep, halting breath and looked at the palms of each appendage distractedly as he flexed his legs to get the feeling back.


"Yes, Mr. Tanner?"

"I couldn't help but notice yer hands. Can't I bandage 'em for ya?"

"No thank you. Bandages would only get in the way at the moment but don't worry about me. A few blisters never killed anyone." He turned and walked to the horses and collected the blankets from behind both saddles. He carried them over to his pile of branches and set to work. Vin silently watched the man working. It, at least, gave him something to concentrate on and kept his mind from dwelling on how he was feeling.

When Ezra had finished an hour later, and after much profanity, he had a vague approximation of a travois on the ground before him. He moved the contraption behind Vin's horse and tied it to the creature as best he could. He tested it to make sure it was sturdy enough and that it wouldn't come loose on the remainder of the journey home. He then moved to stand beside Vin and considered how to get the tracker onto his device. He walked back to the horse again and moved it so it was right next to the tracker and he then bent down and lifted the injured man gently into his arms. Vin looped his arms either side of Ezra's neck and linked his hands as he tried to take some of his own weight. The tracker groaned quietly when Ezra walked toward the horse and the gambler tried not to jostle him too much in the process. He carefully laid Vin on the travois and stood up straight with a sigh after securing him to it.

"All set, Mr. Tanner?" he asked when he'd finished perusing his handiwork.

"Yeah, wagons roll, Ez. You amaze me you know that? Never figured you to be practical," Vin said as he smiled weakly.

"Nor did I but it's surprising what you can do when you put your mind to it. I just hope it doesn't fall apart the first time we move. That would be extremely embarrassing to say the least."

While Ezra was speaking Vin closed his eyes so the gambler reached out a hand and patted his cheek gently. "Don't go to sleep Vin or Mr. Jackson will skin me alive." I've already started that task for him anyway with the state of my hands, he thought wryly.

"I'm awake, dammit. You don't have to start abusing me," Vin drawled as he swatted Ezra's hand away without thinking.

Ezra hissed at the pain created by the slight touch but when he saw Vin watching him apologetically he smiled and said, "No harm done, I'm alright. Now, just hold on tight and I hope the journey won't be too arduous for you, Vin."

Ezra moved to the horses' heads and took one set of reins in each hand and started the reluctant animals moving with a click of his tongue. He looked back to see that Vin was alright and then continued on his way slowly. The travois rattled along the ground and Vin clenched his teeth in agony. The continued scraping of the wood on the ground reverberated from his feet to his head and he groaned loudly after a while, unable to stifle the sound any longer.

"Mr. Tanner? Are you well?" Ezra called anxiously as he looked back over his shoulder quickly.

"Being shaken to pieces," Vin said through gritted teeth. He grabbed hold of the sides of the travois and increased his grip until his knuckles showed white.

"I'm sorry Vin. I know it's not very comfortable but I had to work with the available materials and my very limited talents."

"I ain't complainin'. I'm just sorry I turned into such a burden for ya, Ez." Vin sighed and looked up at the sky and watched the clouds moving swiftly from left to right. Bet they're soft. I could just do with sitting on a nice fluffy white cloud. Hell, even a gray cloud would do. I ain't fussy. He lay as still as possible and listened to the sound of the travois and his heart skipped a beat as an unwelcome thought entered his head. "This thing won't catch fire, will it? Only with the wood scraping on the rocks I wouldn't want to suddenly go up in flames. Be just like striking a match I should imagine," Vin suddenly said loudly.

"Good God, I hope not! I do wish you wouldn't think about things so much, Mr. Tanner. Now I'm going to worry all the way home and be sniffing like a hound in an attempt to detect wood smoke coming from your direction," Ezra said in alarm.

"I'll yell if my bed starts smokin' Ez, don't you worry about that."

"Glad to hear it but I'll try and find something a bit softer for you to run on when we get out of this infernal canyon. Do you feel alright otherwise?"

"No but there ain't nothing you or I can do about it." Vin wiped a hand over his face and took a deep breath against the continuous stabbing pain in his leg.

"I'll try to get us home as soon as I can," Ezra promised as he concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. He didn't feel so good himself but he wasn't going to let Vin down when he needed him most. The landscape moved continuously up and down in his vision and he felt hot and tired. There was not a breath of wind and he felt stifled in the clouds of dust that the horse's hooves created. He took off his hat and rubbed his brow on his sleeve as he tried to keep a tight hold on the horses at the same time. "Need another two pairs of hands," he muttered to himself.

Vin, meanwhile, opened the canteen Ezra had given him and took a swig of the cool liquid. He held it up and waved it in the air when he'd finished and asked, "Do you want some, Ez?"

"No, you keep it. I'm quite alright," Ezra lied as his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. He licked his parched lips and sighed. Ezra always found it odd that when your body was desperate for water on the inside it was busy getting rid of much-needed fluids on the outside.

He started daydreaming as he tried to pretend he was not thirsty, hot and tired. He imagined himself jumping into a cool, sparkling pond and swimming about on a hot summer's day. It made him feel better for a while but he was brought back to reality abruptly when he walked through a particularly hot patch of air. He sighed and stared longingly into the distance as he wished the town would suddenly come into view to put him out of his misery. Needless to say his wish didn't get answered.

Half an hour passed by in relative silence although Ezra did periodically check to make sure that Vin was still conscious. They had exited the canyon an hour before and when the opportunity presented itself the gambler pulled the horses to a halt under some trees and walked round to the travois.

He sat down wearily on some soft grass with a heartfelt groan. It was good to get the weight off his feet and he flexed his toes inside his boots in ecstasy. He just hoped he'd have the energy and the inclination to get back to his feet again. "Are you still with me, Mr. Tanner?" he asked as he flicked a quick look at his friend. The tracker looked very pale and drawn and there was a fine sheen of sweat on his face.

"Yes Ez, I'm still here. Where else do you expect me to be? Mebbe yer wonderin' if you ain't tied me on this contraption proper and I'm lying five miles back up the track!" Vin retorted sarcastically but in a very quiet voice.

"Bit late if you were," Ezra commented dryly. "I'm afraid if you'd come adrift I'd have left you there and continued on to town alone. I dare say Mr. Larabee would have ridden to your rescue after he'd shot me for leaving you behind in the first place."

"Yeah, s'pect he would," Vin muttered as he reached out a hand and patted Ezra's knee. The tracker was glad they had stopped, if only for a short time, because the constant movement of the travois was becoming hard to bear. He looked across at the gambler and said gratefully, "Anyway thanks, Ez."

Ezra raised his head and stared at the tracker with unfocussed eyes. "Mr. Tanner? What was the praise for?"

"For seeing to my hurts and getting me home. You coulda just left me behind like you said."

"I could not and I was only joking. I'm not that heartless and I hope you don't think I am," Ezra replied, sounding quite hurt.

"Na, course I don't. I just know you don't feel so good neither and I've just added to yer problems. You didn't need to be saddled with looking after me too. Musta been hard for ya is all I'm saying."

"My needs are of no consequence. Don't give me a second thought."

The tracker couldn't help smiling. "That's easy under normal circumstances, Ez. These ain't normal though and I'm allowed to worry about ya, ain't I?" he asked quietly as he fixed his friend with a serious look.

"I'd save your concern for someone more worthy, Mr. Tanner," Ezra said as he bowed his head.

Vin looked around and said, "Well, there ain't no one that I can see at the moment, Ez."

"In that case I think you should transfer your good thoughts to my horse instead. He's injured too and in need of encouragement because without him I'm liable to fall over. I don't think your horse could cope with pulling you along and keeping me upright at the same time."

"Okay, if it makes you happy, Ez. I'll send a prayer up to Heaven for yer horse too." Vin closed his eyes and Ezra could hear him talking quietly. He smiled and thought that God would be the last person he would call on in a crisis.

While Vin was engaged in Biblical matters Ezra got to his feet slowly and patted his horse as he said, "Ain't that nice of him horse? Reckon you're feeling better already with the knowledge that the good Lord is gonna help you on your way."

Vin reopened his eyes and wished they could stay in the shade for a bit longer. He looked up at the now clear blue sky above him and pulled his hat down firmly on his head to cut out the glare. At least his face was now shaded but the intense heat of the sun was making him feel worse with each passing minute.

The gambler started the two horses moving again when he saw Vin was ready but after traveling for a few more miles Ezra stumbled and nearly fell and he cursed heartily. He sighed and said, "I don't think God was listening to your prayer, Mr. Tanner."

"Na nor do I. Ain't that typical? One time in my life I ask somethin' of him and he ain't at home," Vin complained sourly as he scratched his neck and tried to cool himself down by waving a hand in front of his face. That movement though set up renewed pain in his chest and he reluctantly stopped the welcome draft.

Ezra nodded in reply to Vin's answer. "Yes, I know the feeling well, Mr. Tanner. I never put much faith in God and that's why I only ever trust myself. I know I'm the only person I can really rely on in this life," he said resignedly.

"That ain't true, Ez. You can trust in me. You know I'll do anything I can to help," Vin said as he shifted slightly on the travois in a vain attempt to ease his aching body. He was beginning to feel increasingly numb.

"Well, in that case, perhaps you'd like to walk for a while so I can lie down then," Ezra suggested quietly.

"Ez!" Vin protested. "Why you gotta pick somethin' that's impossible?"

"Sorry, Mr. Tanner. I think I'm becoming delusional and delirious. How far do you think we've got to go?" Ezra asked wearily as he wiped an aching hand over his face.

"'Nother coupla miles, I reckon," the tracker guessed as he studied the scenery around him and realized it looked very familiar.

"Oh dear. Well, you try and enjoy the rest of the ride and I'll attempt to get us there in one piece. I think I'll put a call in to Saint Jude," Ezra said with a smile. "See if we have any more luck with him."

"Who the hell's that?"

"He's the Patron Saint of lost causes. I think we qualify as that, don't you?" Ezra grinned.

"Gee yeah. You could be right at that, Ez."

Ezra plodded onwards slowly and he started limping when he developed a blister on his heel. The limping man and lame horse looked faintly comical as they hobbled along together. It was Ezra's left foot and the horse's near fore that was affected. They managed to limp at exactly the same time and Ezra actually laughed as he realized that fact for himself. He patted the creature's neck lovingly and looked back over his shoulder to see if Vin was still alright.

The gambler finally saw the town in the distance although to start with he wasn't sure if it was a mirage or not. Despite the pain in his foot he managed to increase his pace slightly when he realized what he was seeing was real.

"Jeez, what's the hurry, Ez?" Vin called as he was jolted forward suddenly by the change of pace and the scenery in his vision appeared to rush by.

"The end is nigh. Oh God, I've never been so pleased to see that dusty, dirty town in all my sorry existence. It almost looks like Paradise after that terrible excursion, Mr. Tanner. I could get down on my hands and knees and kiss the earth in appreciation of our salvation if I didn't fear that I'd never get upright again."

"Na, rather have beer on my lips than dirt." Vin then said dreamily as he licked his lips in anticipation, "Yeah, I think I'll have a nice cold beer in the saloon to celebrate instead."

"You'll be lucky, Vin. Mr. Jackson won't allow you anywhere near the saloon for a while."

"Damn. Can't you sneak into town and go there first before he sees us?" the tracker pleaded.

Ezra snorted and said, "We can hardly sneak, Mr. Tanner. I think we'd be noticed immediately with the noise the travois is creating. I bet we don't even get past Mrs. Potter's store before JD sees us."

"You're on. Five dollars says we get further."

"Fine." Ezra didn't let on that he could already see JD in the street looking in their direction. He saw the youngster shield his eyes as he looked toward them and then disappear inside the saloon to reappear quickly with the other men in his wake. "You'd better reach into your pocket for that money, Mr. Tanner. There's already a welcoming committee gathered on the edge of town," Ezra stated with a broad smile.

"Shit," Vin said quietly. The word was both in answer to the news he'd been given and an expression of the way he suddenly felt physically. The world began spinning faster and faster in his head making him feel faint and sick.

Ezra drew up thankfully outside the clinic and secured the horses as the waiting men gathered around Vin worriedly.

"What happened, Vin?" Chris asked as he squatted down beside his friend and he felt his brow anxiously while Nathan fussed around the tracker like a mother hen.

"Got caught in a rock fall," Vin whispered before passing out.

"Let's get him upstairs. JD go on ahead and open the door while we bring him up," Nathan instructed.

The men carried out the healer's bidding and left Ezra standing alone by the horses. Not one word had been spoken to him. All his friends' concern had been directed solely toward the tracker. The gambler leant his head against his horse's neck and closed his eyes as he stood still and tried to regain his nonexistent strength.

"Not even a thank you. How do you like that?" he muttered angrily as he entwined his fingers in the horse's mane to help him remain upright.

Meanwhile up in the clinic, Nathan watched as Vin was placed carefully on the bed. He waited until the men backed away before moving toward his patient. He began checking the tracker gently but he could see from Ezra's handiwork exactly what was wrong.

"Jeez, Vin. One broken bone would have been enough," he said sympathetically. He began cleaning the man's many cuts and also checked under the bandages that covered Vin's body.

"Better a few broken bones than losing his life Nate, which he could well have done by the look of him," Chris said as he patted the man's back.

The healer smiled and said, "Well, he's gonna be off his feet for a while. Better prepare yerselves for taking care of one very unhappy tracker. You know what he's like as a patient."

"Yeah, we sure do," Chris laughed.

Back outside, Ezra removed his hat and wiped a hand through his hair. He winced and groaned as he accidentally touched the lump on his head and he swayed gently when a wave of dizziness and nausea swept over him. He staggered toward the clinic stairs and put out a hand to cling to the railing as he looked up the stairs and sighed.

"Good God. Why have a clinic up there? Sick and injured people need treating at ground level. How in Heaven's name am I going to negotiate those stairs? One at a time, that's how, Ezra. Don't be so weak," he chastised himself. Ezra put his foot on the bottom step and began climbing laboriously. He thought he must be getting near the top but when he looked up he saw he'd only reached halfway. He sat down and lay his head on his knees as he closed his eyes and sighed. After a minute had gone by he pulled himself upright with a heartfelt groan and started off again. He finally made it to the top but suddenly swayed like a tree in a hurricane.

In the clinic Buck heard a thud and he stood still and listened intently. When he heard no more he frowned, moved to the door curiously and opened it cautiously and looked out. The ladies' man saw Ezra's body spread-eagled at the top of the stairs.

Buck turned round and crooked a finger at the preacher. "Jeez Josiah? Give me a hand will ya, pard?"

"What's the matter, Brother Buck?" The big man walked toward Buck and then saw exactly what the matter was. He quickened his pace and followed the ladies' man outside.

Buck hurried to the prone man on the balcony and knelt beside him worriedly. "Ez? Can you hear me pard?" He put out a hand and got hold of Ezra's chin and turned the man's head gently toward him. The gambler's head wound then came into view. "Shit. That musta hurt. How the heck did he make it back?" the man asked as he examined the deep wound.

"Sheer willpower, Bucklin," Josiah said in awe. "Think they both struggled to stay conscious so they could urge each other on until they got home. Now they're here and safe they've both given in."

Buck nodded in agreement and then checked the man carefully for other injuries and noticed the state of his hands. "Damn, look at that Josiah. Jesus, Ez," Buck said quietly as he probed the palms of his friend's hands gently. "God, they're real dirty and festering by the look of 'em too."

Buck helped Josiah pick the gambler up and they headed back to the clinic. Buck pushed the door open with his foot and the two men staggered inside with their burden.

"Nate? Ezra passed out," Buck said.

"Bring him in." The medic moved to the gambler and looked at him quickly and winced. "Real nasty head wound. Surprised he stayed conscious as long as he did. Why didn't he say he was hurt when he got back?"

"You didn't ask," Ezra mumbled as he came to for a second before passing out again.

"He's right," Buck said softly as he patted the gambler's shoulder gently.

"Get me some water, will ya? Looks like he used all their own water to take care of Vin's needs but didn't bother doing anything for himself." Nathan cleaned and stitched the head wound and then turned his attention to the gambler's hands. He shook his head and sighed at the sight that confronted him. He slowly and carefully cleaned those wounds too and smeared an herbal paste over them before bandaging both hands tightly. "They're gonna hurt somethin' awful while they're healing. He's got a slight infection but that should clear up soon hopefully."

"How's Vin doin'?" Buck asked as he turned to look at the sleeping tracker.

"He's pretty sick. Ezra did a good job to get him back at all."

"Make sure you tell him that, brother. We ignored him and he didn't deserve that after what he did," Josiah said quietly in shame.

"I know. I'll talk to him when he wakes," the healer said as he nodded in agreement.

"I'll stay with them now if you like, Nate," Buck offered when he saw that Nathan was slightly upset.

Nathan nodded again gratefully as he washed his hands and put away his equipment. "Thanks, Buck. They should be alright but you know where I'll be if you need me."

All the men except Buck left and the ladies' man took a seat by the window to watch over his friends. After a while he stood and checked Vin and sponged his face carefully after placing a hand on the man's brow. He checked the tracker's bandages and then pulled the sheet back up over him gently before turning his attention to Ezra.

"No poker for you for a while I shouldn't wonder, Ez," he said quietly before getting comfortable in his seat again and closing his eyes for a few minutes. He dozed quietly as both patients continued sleeping peacefully as well.

Vin finally woke after a few hours and saw Ezra nearby still asleep. His attention was then drawn toward the window where he saw the outline of the tall, mustached peacekeeper sitting quietly in a chair. "Bucklin? Is that you?"

"Hey pard. You feel okay? You had us worried, " the tall man said as he stood and stretched before giving the tracker some medicine.

Vin groaned loudly and stayed silent for quite some time as he tried to recover his breath after Buck had settled him back on the bed. Eventually he said, "Feel battered and bruised, Bucklin. What's up with Ez? Is he okay?"

Buck nodded "He passed out after he'd got you back. His hands were a mess and he had quite a bad head wound but he'll be just fine. Always said he had a thick head."

The two men heard rustling from the other bed. Ezra's face appeared for a brief second as he said, "I heard that Bucklin."


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