Part Twenty-Five

Buck had the boy propped up, leaning against his chest, to make his breathing easier. JD was drenched with sweat, his black hair hanging in his eyes. His fever was raging out of control, the worst it had been. The kid was burning up,yet shaking so bad from chills that his teeth were chattering.

"Buck... Buck..." the youth could barely talk.

"Yeah, kid?"

"How far?"

"Maybe an hour, kid."

"Can't make it, gonna be sick."

OK. Come on, kid. Tom, stop the wagon." Buck said.

Buck again held JD's head over the side of the wagon. He had done it so many times that he had lost count. The boy threw up several times.

"Damn." Chris thought. He was hoping to make it to town without stopping again. He fought the urge to not check on the boy this time, afraid of what he'd look like. But, he also knew it would mean a lot to the kid if he rode back and checked on him.

He had no idea what was awaiting him this time.

Buck was coming unglued.

"JD, let me help you, boy."

"NO!!!" JD screamed. "Leave me alone!!!"

JD was lying flat on his back on the floor of the wagon, sobbing. He couldn't breathe in that position and was gasping for air.

"JD.. JD..." Buck tried to reason with the boy.

"No, Buck. NO!!!"

What the hell's goin' on here?" Chris demanded.

"He got real dizzy," Buck explained, "and fell over. Now he won't let me get him back up so he can breathe."

"Well, Christ, Buck, you're twice his size. Just do it, pick him up." Chris said, trying to hold his temper.

"Easier said than done, pard." Buck said.

"Oh, hell, Buck." Chris snapped, as he climbed into the wagon. "Get on my horse. I'll ride with JD. We gotta make some time."

"But" Buck started.

"No buts" Chris cut him off. "We're wasting way too much time. I want JD home before dark and we're not far from that now.

Buck thought it best not to press the matter with Chris at the moment.

Chris crawled up by JD.

"JD, you gotta let me help you."

"No, Buck, leave"

"JD. It's Chris."


"No, JD. It's Chris. Now you wouldn't listen to Buck, so I'm here now."


"Yeah, kid. I'm here."

"Where's Buck?"

"He's riding my horse, JD. I'll be with you the rest of the way home."

"Where's Buck, Chris?"

"Come on, JD. Let me get you up so you can breathe."

"No, what's wrong with Buck? He's hurt?"

"JD" Chris was getting no where with the kid.

"NO!!! Leave me ALONE!!!"

JD was wild, completely out of his head. If he hadn't known it was the fever talking, Chris would smack the kid to calm him down. was the fever talking, and the kid was so sick.

"JD, come on, son, calm down."

"Buck's gone, my fault. Oh , God my fault."

Chris finally grabbed the boy by his shoulders to get his attention. "JD. Buck's fine. Hear me? He's fine. Now, let me help you. You gotta calm down, son."

"Chris I... I... "

Finally, what everyone had been praying for, the kid simply passed out.

Buck rode up to the side of the wagon.

"Not easy, is it?" he asked Chris.

"Just ride, Buck." Chris was pretty well drained, and didn't have the strength to argue with Buck. "Don't stop till we get home."

"No break?" Buck asked.

"No. Just ride." Chris said firmly.

Chris had maneuvered JD into his arms, holding him in the position that made breathing easiest for him. The boy was so hot that he was making Chris warm just by lying against him.

Chris was exhausted from the little episode with JD. How does Buck do it, he thought.

Another hour and they would be home. How much more can happen in an hour?

Part Twenty-Six

Buck was riding next to the wagon. "Let me take care of him, Chris. Kid needs me."

"No, Buck. Keep ridin'"

"Buck???" JD reached out to Buck, but Chris grabbed his arms.

Chris hated keeping the two friends apart, but the remainder of the ride was going to be unbelievably hard on JD and Chris didn't think Buck would be able to handle it.

They had to get the boy home and couldn't risk any more delays.

"JD, Buck can't be with you right now."

"Why???" the kid couldnt understand.

"I'm here, son, and I'll take care of you, real good care."

"Chris, is Buck OK?"

"Yeah, kid. Buck's fine. He just can't be here now."

"Why not??? Is he mad at me? Chris, what'd Ido??? Oh, Buck, I'm sorry." JD sobbed.

The poor kid. Finally, Chris couldn't take it any more. "Buck!! Get back here!!" he yelled.

Buck came in a flash. He looked at the kid who was fighting to keep his eyes open. "How is he?"

"Same." came Chris' reply.


"Oh, yeah." Chris said, stroking the boy's hair.

"Damn." Buck cursed. "It's got to break sometime. Damn this."

"We'll be home soon." Chris tried to encourage his oldest friend. "Maybe Nathan will have some ideas when we get there."


"I'm here, kid."


"Yeah, JD?"

"Are you OK?"

"Yeah, kid. I'm fine. How you doin'?"

"Been better, Buck."

"Now soundin' like our 'ole smart-ass JD, ain't he Chris?"

"Yeah." Chris replied, but without sounding very convincing. He could feel the kid's fever was white-hot.

"Chris, 'ya want me to spell 'ya?"

Chris chuckled. "Missin' the kid already, Buck?" Finally, Chris gave in. "Alright, we'll switch."

Chris was waiting for Buck and JD to get comfortably situated before he got the group moving again.

"Are are we almost home?" JD asked.

"Not much farther, JD." Chris assured the kid. "Bed sound pretty good to 'ya, son?"

"Yeah, real good Chr..." and the kid was asleep.

"Me, too, kid. Me, too." And Chris rode up front to get everyone going.

Part Twenty-Seven

It was about a half-hour past sunset when the group pulled into Four Corners.

Vin and Josiah had spotted them coming and met them at the edge of town.

"Lord, almighty." Josiah sighed when he saw JD.

"What happened to the kid?" Vin asked. He shot an evil glance towards Tom. "You have somethin' to do with this?"

Tom didn't answer and just continued to sit on the wagon seat.

"Mr. Tanner," Ezra said. "Would you be so kind as to escort Mr. Wilmington over to the jail. He shall be incarcerated there until we are able to clear up a few matters."

"That OK with you, Buck?" Vin queried.

"Yeah. Go ahead." Buck whispered, never taking his eyes off the sick youth in the wagon.

JD was sleeping so peacefully the men thought it was a shame to move him.

"Fit to be tied for two days and now that we have to move himhe's sleepin' like a baby." Nathan lamented. "Let's get him up to my place. I gotta do somethin' 'bout this fever and vomiting."

Buck lifted the boy out of the wagon easily. "NathanI bet he's lost ten pounds these last couple days."

"I know, and he sure don't need to be losin' no weight, scrawny kid." Nathan affectionately pushed the black hair from the boy's eyes.

"Buck," Josiah said, "let me carry the boy. You look exhausted."

"Thanks, Josiah." Buck gave the preacher a grateful look. "But, I... I'd rather... I'd..." and it finally happened. After two days of pent-up frustration and fear, Buck finally broke down completely.

Josiah grabbed the boy from his arms and carried him up to Nathan's clinic, while Chris helped Buck to the bench on the boardwalk.

"Chris, I'm sorry. I.. I just" Buck cried.

"Buck. It's OK. Don't fret about it. Ain't nothin' a one of us don't feel like doin' right about now. I know it's been a hell of a couple days for 'ya. I don't know how you lasted this long."

"I gotta be strongChrisfor the kid, 'ya knowbutGodit's hard."

"Well, Nathan's takin' care of him now. Let's you and me go get us a drink. I think we've earned it, don't you?"

"I think I better get up to Nathan's. You... you go ahead, though." Buck said as he stood to go up the stairs.

Chris watched Buck get to the bottom step, and stop.

"Something wrong, Buck?"

"Chris, what if... what if I get up there, and he's gone?"

"Buck, that kid ain't goin' no where. He gets too much pleasure out of getting' you all riled up."

"Yeah, that he does." Buck smiled. "Thanks, Chris. You have a drink for me, too, OK?"

Part Twenty-Eight

Buck Wilmington sat in the corner of the smoke-filled saloon trying to make sense of what had transpired in the last 48 hours.

How had things gotten so out of hand? he wondered to himself. It was not supposed to end up like this.

It was his long-awaited reunion with his brother. A brother that Buck had not seen in close to 10 years. A brother that Buck had always looked up to, admired, and yes, even worshiped when he was much younger. But nownowBuck had to stop himself from wanting to kill him.

What had gone wrong? What had come between them?

A little thing called JD Dunne.

Chris walked into the saloon and came over and sat with Buck.

"Mornin, Buck."


Chris was afraid to ask how JD was doing, in case his condition had worsened since he'd checked on him late last night.

Buck, as if reading his mind, said "He's no better, Chris. I was with him all night longand he ain't a bit better. If anything, he's probably slipped a little."

"Damn." Chris huffed. "Well, Nathan said twenty-four to thirty-six hours for it to pass, Buck."

"Yeah, I know. He was just so sick all night, poor kid. Heavin' his guts up. Don't know how he can keep throwin' up. He ain't eaten nothin' in better'n two days."

Chris knew that Buck was worried sick about the kid. He also knew that Buck had a tendency not to take care of himself when the kid was hurtin'.

"You need to get some rest, Buck."

"I wish people would quit worryin' 'bout me and worry about the kid instead."

"Buck" Chris tried to comfort Buck, "we're all worried about JD, you know that. But you need to take care of yourself, too. JD wouldn't want you makin' yourself sick, Buck."

"JD's too sick to worry about anything, Chris."

"Wellthe rest of us aren't, and we're all worried about you and the kid."

"Well, somebody better start worryin' about Tom, 'cause he's gonna need it." Buck said.

"Meaning?" Chris asked.

"Meaning I've been sittin' here for two hours figuring what I'm gonna do about him."

"And that is?"

"It's up to JD."

"How's that?" Chris wasn't sure where Buck was going with this.

"If JD don't make... never mind. Don't want to talk about it."

"Buck, don't go flying off half-cocked, now." Chris warned.

"Chris, you think he don't need to pay for this?"

"Didn't say that, Buck."

"Then don't defend the son-of-a-bitch to me."

"Buck, I'm not defending Tom. I'd like to rip him apart myself, but I don't see that helpin' JD any."

"Well, it'd sure help me." Buck said.

"Come on, Buck. Let's go check on the kid."

"I'm scared to, Chris. I'm scared he's gonna be worse than when I left."

"Well, if he is, then we definitely need to be there, right?"

"I guess. It's just so hard, Chris. That boy's never hurt no one in his life and all he gets is hurt and pain. Ain't right, Chris." Buck shook his head.

"I know." Chris agreed. "A lot of things ain't right in life, Buck, life is very rarely fair. But, you know what, Buck? I've never heard JD complain about it. He just goes through every day lovin' whatever comes. Loves every day and everything. I've never heard him say life ain't fair when something bad happens or goes wrong."

"Guess not." Buck said.

"Maybe we can learn a little something from the kid, huh?"

"Like turn the other cheek?" Buck asked.

"Right. Look, Buck, JD's always been sort of a peaceable kinda kid. Partly, because of his size, I guess and partly, I think, because of the way he was raised. I don't think any of the rest of us were raised that way, or maybe it's just been so damn long ago that we don't remember it, and maybe we should. Maybe we don't have to intimidate everyone we meet."

"We didn't do too good with intimidating JD, did we?" Buck smiled.

"No, we sure didn't." Chris said, remembering the first encounter with the kid. "Kid's got spunk, that's for damn sure. Now, let's go see him."

"Sure." Buck decided.

Part Twenty-Nine

Chris and Buck walked in to find Nathan fighting with JD, trying to put a cold, wet cloth on his forehead.

"No... no..." the youth argued, grabbing the cloth and tossing it to the floor. "Leave me alone."

"JD, you quit bein' so ornery, boy. You ain't so big you can't be took out back to the wood shed." Nathan stated.


Buck stood looking at the boy. As he had feared, he seemed worse. Buck turned and walked out on to the porch.

Chris walked over and sat down in the chair next to the bed.

"JD. Calm down now and let Nathan help you."

JD opened his eyes and seemed to be trying to focus on the voice talking to him.


"Yeah, kid." Chris smiled. At least the kid recognized him.

Chris picked the cloth up from the floor and dipped it in the cool water, wrung it out and placed it gently on the kid's head and held in there.

The kid tried to wrestle it away, but Chris managed to keep it there.

"JD. Stop it. Just relax."


"Just relax, kid." Chris persisted.


"Yeah, kid."

"Where's Buck?"

"He's" Chris turned around to see that Buck had not returned yet. "He'll be here later, kid."

"Is he OK?"

"Yeah, JD. He's fine."

"He needs to get some rest, Chris." The kid observed, appearing completely lucid for the moment.

"So do you, JD."

"I'm fine, Chris."

Chris wet the cloth again and applied it to JD's head.

"Thanks, Chris." Nathan said. "He's been fightin' me all mornin'."

"I'll sit with him for a while, Nathan. Why don't you go get something to eat and get away for a while."

"I think I'll do just that, Chris. Thanks."

"JDI'll be back real soon. Chris'll be here with 'ya."

"I don't need no babysitter." JD snapped.

"Yes you do. So get used to it."

Nathan turned to leave and then suddenly felt a cold, wet washcloth slap him on the back of the head.

Nathan felt anger rising in him, but when he turned back to see a big grin on the boy's face the anger faded to relief.

"I'd say you're startin' to feel better, huh? Gettin' cocky now."

"I tried to stop him, Nathan, but I was too slow." Chris said, smiling with the realization that the kid was going to be OK.

Nathan tossed the cloth back to Chris.

"Hereuse it on his head, or shove it in his mouth. Whatever's needed.

Nathan stepped out onto the porch to find Buck sitting in a chair at the far end, his head in his hands.

Nathan approached him slowly and placed his hand gently on the man's shoulder.

Buck jumped.

"Sorry, Buck."

"Oh, OK, Nathan. I was just..."

"Buck, he's better today, a lot better, I'd say. He's gettin' kinda playful, you'd be a good match for him. Go on in."

Buck's face looked like he'd had the weight of the world lifted from his shoulders.

"He's better? I thought he was fightin' the fever real bad in there?"

"No" Nathan explained. "he's fightin' me is what he's fightin'. Feelin' good enough to want to argue about takin' care of him."

"WHOOPEE!!!!!!!" Buck screamed, standing up and throwing his arms in the air. "Thank the Lord. And you, Nathan. I can't thank you enough for all you done for the boy."

"Never you mind that, Buck. Boy gave me a smile in there a minute ago that paid me in full, that's for damn sure."

Buck opened the door as quietly as possible, in case the kid was asleep, which he was.

Chris was sitting, staring at the kid, looking as if he was a hundred miles away.

"Chris?" Buck whispered.

"Huh??? Oh, Buck, you talk to Nathan out there?"

"Yeah, how 'bout that. Kid's gonna be OK, ain't he? 'Course, I wasn't worried, kid's scrappy, I knew he'd be OK. I wasn't worried"

"Buck, you're so full of crap." Chris smiled to his oldest friend.

"Yeah, I am, ain't I?" Buck smiled back.

"Buck??.Buck??" the kid called.

"Hey, kid, I'm right here. Whatcha need?"

"Buck, you need to get some rest. God, Buck, you look terrible," the kid said.

"Now, kid,how many times I gotta tell you, that's damn near impossible."

"Yeah, I forgot." JD smiled as he drifted off.

"I can sit with him if you want, Chris."

"I got nothin' pressin', Buck, but I can leave if you want me to."

"No... no, I didn't mean that Chris. I just... I just thought maybe... maybe I'd go see Tom, if you could stay with the kid for a little bit." Buck stammered.

"You do that, Buck." Chris said. "I'll stay here and keep an eye on the boy."

Buck walked to the bed, leaned over and pushed the hair out of the boy's eyes and was relieved by the coolness he felt on his face.

"I'll see 'ya later, kid."

Part Thirty

Buck walked into the jail.

Tom watched as Buck made his way towards the cell.

"Buck." Tom acknowledged.


"What 'ya doin' here?"

"Don't worry, Tom," Buck assured him, "I'm not gonna hurt 'ya. I'm feelin real good so I figured it'd be a good time to come see 'ya."

"So, why are you bein' so nice, Buck?"

"The kid's doin' a lot better."

"Really?" Tom seemed almost surprised. He had feared the worst about the boy's chances of recovering.

"Yeah. He's gonna be OK. Gettin' back to his old sassy self." Buck smiled.

"That's great, Buck. I was worried about him. I'm really glad he's gonna be OK, Buck, really."

"Yeah. Me, too. Makes me feel more charitable towards 'ya. I gotta tell, 'ya, Tom, if the kid hadn't made it, I don't think... no, I'm damn sure that you would not be leavin' this town in once piece. Tom, I hope you fully realize what you've done here. That kid nearly" Buck shuddered, unable to actually say how close he had come to losing the boy.

"I'm sorry about everything, Buck. You gotta believe that."

"I'm not the one you need to be apologizing to, Tom. I think you need to apologize to the kid before you leave."

"That's the second time you've mentioned me leaving, Buck. Am I to assume that I'm bein' run out of town?" Tom asked.

"WellI figured you'd be movin' on, like you always do." Buck said. "Move in, do whatever you've got planned and move out. That's usually the way you work."

"Yeah, usually the way, you're right."

"So, when 'ya leavin'?" Buck asked.

"When do you want me to leave?" Tom asked his brother.

"Up to you, I guess."

"Jeez, listen to you guys. You both sound pretty wishy-washy to me," a young voice said.

Buck turned to see JD standing in the doorway, with Chris nearby.

"Kid??? Whatcha doin' outta bed?" Buck exclaimed.

"Buck, I'm so tired of layin' down, I can't stand it no more." JD said.

"It's alright, Buck. Nathan said it was OK for him to get up for a little bit, take a short walk, if I was with him. JD was worried about you and wanted to come over here to check on you guys."

"You guys OK?" JD asked Buck.

"Yeah, kid, I guess we're OK."

"Why's he in jail?" JD asked.

"Whatcha mean, kid?" Buck was confused by JD's question.

"Like I said, Buck, why's he in jail?" JD repeated.

"Well, JD" Chris began, "he was behind the plan that got you hurt, was planning a bank robbery and he assaulted you."

"Rudy beat me up, Chris, not Tom, and planning to rob a bank ain't against the law," JD said.

"It was all his doin', JD." Buck told the boy.

"He hurt me the other day, and no one put him in jail then." JD was confused by the recent turn of events.

"Well, things have changed since then, kid." Buck said firmly.

"Like what?" JD wanted to know.

"Lots, JD." Buck was getting aggravated with the kid's questions, but tried to keep his temper under control. Just got the boy back, he thought don't want to be yellin' at the him.

"Nothin's changed, Buck," JD said softly, "except you got mad at him, that's all."

"JD" Buck said walking over to the boy, and taking his face in his hands, "what's changed, JDwasyou nearly died, boy, don't you realize that?"

"Because Rudy beat me up, not Tom." JD argued.

Chris interceded. "JD, you nearly died from a combination of injuries you received from Rudy and Tom."

"He's gotta pay for what he done to 'ya, JD," Buck said.

"So, how 'ya gonna run him out of town in he's in jail, Buck?" JD asked.

"Why don't you get back to bed, JD?" Buck told the boy, who was asking too many damned questions. Questions that Buck had no answers for.

"Why, so you don't have to answer me?" JD wouldn't give in, not this time.

"Just get outta here, kid. Don't concern you." Buck knew he'd regret that line.

"Make up your mind, Buck." JD said. "Either he's here because of me, or it don't concern me, which is it?"

Buck was trapped. Looking to Chris, he said, "Don't you think he needs to rest?"

"Leave me outta this." Chris smiled, pulling out a chair. This may take a while, he thought.

"Well???" JD stood his ground, tapping his foot, waiting for Buck's answer.

Buck, knowing when he'd been beaten, said, "What do you want from me, kid?"

"I want you guys to straighten things out between 'ya. That's all," the kid said firmly.

"That's not gonna be easy," Buck said.

"I know an easy way," JD answered.

"Sure, kid you got an idea on everything."

JD walked over and got the keys to the cell, started towards the door and then placed the key in the lock, looking to Buck, daring him to try to stop him.


The kid turned the key


The kid opened the door and stepped into the cell

"Kid, you're not lettin' him outta there" Buck said, running into the cell.

JD turned quickly and darted out, slamming and locking the door, leaving Tom and Buck locked inside.

"JD!!!" Buck screamed. "You little shit!!!! You unlock this door, NOW!!!!"

"No." JD said quietly. "Maybe later, if you guys play nice."

"JD, I'm gonna pound you when I get outta here." Buck yelled.

"Yeah yeah yeah" the kid smiled, knowing full well that Buck would never lift a finger against him. He walked over and hung up the keys.

"Ready to go, Chris?"

"Sure, kid."

"JD!!! Chris!!! Kid!!!!" Buck pleaded, to no avail.

The two walked out and closed the door behind them.

Buck gave Tom a shocked look.

"Hey" Tom noted, "they're your friends, not mine. Gotta love that kid, though. You shoulda seen the look on your face. That kid's got a lot of what??? Spunk?"

Buck, smiling, said "Yeah, I guess so."

"Sounds like he wants us to 'kiss and make up'" Tom said.

"Yeah. Fool kid gets some of the craziest notions is that head of his." Buck revealed.

"Buck, I'd really like to try to work things out between us like the kid said."

"Me, too, Tom. But I'm not real sure how to go about it. I mean, we got a lot to work through, 'ya know."

"Well, I guess it's mostly up to me." Tom confessed. "I don't see that you've got a whole lot to be sorry about over the years. Mostly all my doin'. I'm the one needs to be makin' changes, not you, Buck."

"I ain't no angel, Tom. I coulda been a better brother to you over the years."

"WellI sure as hell haven't been a very good big brother to you, Buck, and I am sorry about that. I've seen you with the kid, that's what a 'big brother' oughta be."

Buck, smiling, "I wish you'd tell the kid that. I think I get on his nerves now and then."

"But, Buck," Tom said gently, "who does he turn to when he's in trouble? Or when he's scared? Or when he's sick? You. I'm sure if you were in trouble, I would not be your first choice. It's kind of hard to count on someone who's never around."

"Well, Tom, I've been lucky to have friends I could count on, but I've worried many a night about who's watchin' out for you."

"Oh, I get by." Tom said.

"You could do a lot better than get by, Tom. If you'd stay in one place long enough to make some good friends, honest friends."

"Buck, you know I've never been one to say in one place for very long."

"You could try it, Tom, see if you like it like here, in this town, maybe."

"Buck, you don't want me in the way around here."

"Who says I don't?" Buck asked.

"You got your friends here, and the kid, he's your brother, Buck, not me."

"Man can have more than one brother, Tom."

"I don't know, Buck, I'm not so sure the kid would really want me around."

"Why would you say that?" Buck asked.

"I just ain't so sure the boy would appreciate me being around, that's all. I mean, he's been through a lot because of me, caused him a lot of pain for no good reason."

"Tom, JD's got a soft heart, not a mean bone in his body. Boy don't hold no grudges."

"I'll probably be movin' on, anyway, Buck."

"Suit yourself, Tom. But you don't need to be feelin' like you have to, OK?

"I'll see. but I'm just not sure about settlin' down in one spot."

The two brothers continued talking for a couple of hours, when the door to the jail opened and in walked one JD Dunne.

"Get your pint-sized ass over here, NOW." Buck said.

The boy walked slowly towards the cell.

"What the hell you think you were doin'?" Buck seethed. "Leavin' me in here with this bastard. You're damn lucky I didn't kill him, and if I had, and if I had to swing for it, I'd be takin' you right along with me, boy."

"Give me the goddamn keys," Buck snapped.

JD held the keys out at arms length. Buck snatched them from him angrily, unlocked the doorand the two men stepped out of the cell.

"Get over here." Buck said.

"Hell, no" JD was not stupid. Buck was mad.

"Get over here." Buck repeated.

The youth nervously walked over to the two men.

"You're lucky I don't knock you up side the head again, leavin' me with this idiot for over two hours." Tom said.

"Shut up, Tom." Buck replied. "You might be older, but I can still whoop your ass."

"You want to try it do 'ya, Buck?"

"You want to stop me?" Buck challenged.

The two brothers grabbed one another and drew back to begin swinging.

"Guys, come on, not again." JD said as he slipped between the two.

The two older men suddenly froze in mid-swing, looked at the boy, and broke out in huge smiles.

"You guys." JD laughed.

"Just funnin' with 'ya, kid." Buck said, grabbing he boy and mussing his hair.

"So everything's OK with you guys now?" JD asked.

"Yeah, I think so, JD. Thanks to you." Buck smiled at the boy.Mmaybe he wasn't such a fool kid after all.

"JD..." Tom started. "I'm real sorry about what all happened to you. I never meant for you to get hurt or sick, really. I'm sorry."

"It's OK, Tom."

Buck grabbed they boy in a big hug. "See, Tom, I told you he had a good heart."

"Come on Buck," JD squirmed, "let me go."

"Sure, kid."

"So, Tom, you stayin'?" JD was anxious to hear.

"Not sure, JD."

"You should, Tom. Buck needs a big brother chasin' after him all the time." JD smiled.

"Very funny, kid. Hey, how long you been up now?" Buck changed the subject.


"When Nathan said you could get up for a while, I doubt he meant all day. You need to get some rest."

"Christ, Buck, you're doin' it again."

"I don't know, JD" Tom joined in"you look pretty pale."

"I'm always pale," JD said suspiciously, eyeing Tom.

"I don't know" Tom continued"maybe you better lay down for a while."

"Not you, too????"

"Just think, JD," Buck said. "if Tom stays, you'll have two big brothers."

Tom laid it on thick. "Are you sure you're eatin' enough JD? And maybe you should be wearin' a heavier coat, getting' pretty cool these days, 'ya know. And what about..."

JD turned quickly and stomped out of the jail.

And the two older brothers left behind had a good laugh at the youngest brother's expense.


Comments and creative criticism greatly appreciated