"Hey, is that a wagon train?" JD asked looking up the road.
"Looks like it to me," Buck smiled. It was the first substantial life they had come across. They had seen a few riders here and there and more than a few stagecoaches on their journey, but had managed to avoid any contact by staying off the road.
Three days had passed since the revelation of the abuse JD had suffered as a young boy, at the hands of a man by the name of Chamberlain. Vin decided it would be safe to follow the roads, making the others happy due to the rougher terrain.
"Howdy," came the voice from the first wagon.
Chris never answered but nodded his hello.
"How's the traveling?" the middle aged man asked.
"Not too bad, where ya headin'?" Buck asked.
"Some are heading to California, where you heading? Most everyone's heading the way you're comin'."
"Yeah, we know," Chris said, thinking of some of the 'eastern' trouble that had made it's way to Four Corners.
"So where you heading again? I don't think I caught it."
"I don't think we threw it out," JD stated, and he urged his horse ahead.
Chris tipped his hat to the man, the rest following the motion and catching up to JD.
"You okay?" Buck asked, not hiding his concern at JD's callous attitude.
"We're gettin closer," JD said unemotionally.
Buck looked back and gave Chris a worried look.
"Let's take a break," Chris said, the wagon train still passing by.
"Hey, JD. Chris wants to take a break," Buck said, the kid still riding.
"Huh?" JD said turning to Buck.
"He wants to take a break," Buck repeated, pulling his horse to a stop.
JD looked back, "Oh," he said, turning himself around and heading back to the small group of men.
The men took canteens and jerky and found places to sit, JD slowly made his way up a small incline and sat on a protruding boulder, he winced as he sat down. He wasn't sure what was making his leg ache more.....the riding or the walking.
Buck looked up as he saw JD wince as he sat and began to stand.
"Let him be, Buck," Chris said.
"He said we're gettin closer," Buck sighed.
"Yeah, I figure we got maybe two days before we hit town."
"Gotta tell ya, Chris, I'm gettin a little scared myself."
"Having second thoughts about filing for custody?" Chris asked, knowing too well that someone would be more than happy to step up, himself included.
"That, no. That's about the only thing I ain't second guessing, the trip, winnin'..those I'm second guessing."
+ + + + + + +
"Josiah," Vin greeted as he sat down next to the preacher. Josiah nodded and smiled.
"JD told us what he asked ya to do, I think it's real nice," Vin said, taking a sip of water from his canteen.
"I'm honored that he asked. I hope I do his mother's memory justice."
"JD's talked about her so much I feel like I knew her, she sounds like someone I really woulda liked," Vin smiled.
"She sounds like she was a fine woman."
"If she ever knew Chamberlain was beating him, sick or not, she woulda..."
"Taken care of the situation?" Josiah answered.
"Yeah, that she would have," Vin smiled at the thought.
"How's Ezra doin? He feeling any better about what happened?" Vin asked, breaking the silence at the thought of JD's mother.
"His only regret are towards the way JD reacted. He's glad he was able to help ease the burden on his soul."
"Never would have guessed Ezra ever care about no one else but himself," Vin let out.
"I think you can thank the Angel that walks among us for that," referring to JD.
"Yeah," Vin said, looking back to the young man perched on the boulder. "He's done alot of good, preacher, I don't even thinks he knows it."
"That's what makes him special."
"I don't know if I can stand to loose that, Josiah," Vin confessed.
"I'm not sure any of us can," Josiah said, both looking over to where Buck sat.
"He deserves to be happy, I know what we do is dangerous, but I really think he's happy. He deserves the family he wants."
"From your mouth to God's ears."
"We can't loose him, not like this," Vin said.
"Amen brother, Amen."
+ + + + + + +
The horses pace seem to diminish as each member of the seven realized they were getting closer to their intended destination and for one, maybe a final ride as part of a group of men that had been deemed 'The Magnificent Seven' by outlaws near and around Four Corners and in a dimestore novel.
They had passed the wagon train without incident the previous day, and as the men talked and laughed all the men noticed that one had become silent once again. JD would talk when spoken to, never initiating a conversation. When asked a question he would give a short answer, and the men noticed he seemed to fade as they got closer and closer.
Nathan had checked JD's leg again that morning, seeing that even JD seemed to be cautious about how he did certain things. With a great deal of effort the two men removed the boot, only to find they couldn't get it back on due to the increase of swelling.
The young man rode, until noon time when Chris ordered they stop to rest and eat, with only a sock covering the foot that hung loose, dangling.
"Try soakin' it in the river for a bit, JD, might bring it down," Nathan suggested. "Let me give ya a hand down there," he added.
"I can manage,Nathan," he said sternly, leaving no room for argument.
JD made his way to the riverbank half limping, half hopping. He sat down easily, careful not to make his leg hurt anymore than it already did. He removed the sock, and rolled his pant leg up as far as he could.
He looked at the river and spotted a rock that he could get to easily and sat on it, sticking his leg in the river. The extremely ice cold water was almost painful at first and it took all his concentration and self control to keep the leg in there, the coldness finally disappearing he relaxed and began to look around and enjoy the scenery.
"How's the... thing goin?" Vin asked, pointing to the eulogy the preacher was trying to write.
"Eulogy. I'm afraid everything I write down just doesn't seem to be good enough," he said simply.
"You'll find the words, Josiah, you always do," Vin smiled his support.
"I'm afraid God hasn't been kind to let me know what to say."
"I been thinkin about that..wanna hear what I've come up with?" Vin asked, hoping to inspire the mournful preacher.
"By all means, I will warn you I may use it." Vin nodded his smile.
"Fill not your heart with pain and sorrow, but remember me in every tomorrow. Remember the joy, the laughter, the smiles, I've only gone to rest a little while.
Although my leaving causes pain and grief, my going has eased my hurt and given me relief. So dry your eyes and remember me, not as I am now, but as I used to be. Because, I will remember you and look on with a smile. Understand, in your heart, I've only gone to rest a little while. As long as I have the love of you, I can live my life in the heart of you," Vin ended with a shy smile, and hung his head.
Josiah was speechless, he put his hand on the tracker's shoulder, trying his best to think of words that described what the tracker had just said.
"That's was beautiful, brother Tanner, I never knew you dabbled in verse."
"Just been thinking about what JD's mother would have said to him if'n she'd had the chance," Vin said shyly, he had a lot of poetry in his head, this had been the first time he shared any of it with anyone.
"Would you mind if I used it?" Josiah asked.
"I'd be honored, Josiah, thanks," Vin accepted, pride and embarrassment filling him.
"HEY!! Hey, Guys..Come here!" JD yelled from the rock he was sitting at.
"What's the matter, JD??" Buck asked the first one there.
"I think a wagon's stuck up there in the river," he said, pointing up river.
"Looks like it," Buck said, stepping to the rock.
"Well, let's go."
"Go where, JD?"
"To get them unstuck, Buck. They might belong to that wagon train we passed, they might not know they got left behind," he said grabbing his boot, happy that it went on easily. The limp diminished as he made his way to the horses.
"Let's go" Chris said almost coming out a sigh.
They cautiously and slowly approached the stranded wagon, two mules were tied to a near by tree, and there was a small stream of blue smoke coming from a circle of rocks. As the men got closer they were stopped in their tracks as they heard the unmistakable sound of a gun being cocked.
"Don't come any closer," came a stern youthful voice.
"We don't want any trouble, just wanted to help," Chris said. At Chris' signal, JD moved closer to him and urged his horse a step ahead.
"I said don't come any closer! Just be on your way or I'll shoot!"
"We passed the wagon train yesterday, you can still catch up to them if ya let us help ya," JD yelled calmly into the wagon.
The men could hear muffled talk, a young boy protesting not to trust, but finally the rifle came out ready and pointing held by a young boy who was pale and obviously scared.
"Your folks in there, son?" Josiah's calming voice asked, there was no answer.
"We can help ya if ya put the gun down," JD reasoned. The youth looked at JD and realized he wasn't much older than he was, and wore the same style clothes as himself. With a nod he uncocked the gun and lowered it.
The seven dismounted and made there way to the wagon. The youths expression changed as the men got closer as he admired one man in particular.
"Hey, that's just like Bat Masterson's hat! Ma, this man's has a hat just like Bat's!"
"I heard you the first time, Justin," the middle aged women said quietly, coming out of the wagon.
"Ma'am," Chris tipped his hat in greeting.
"I'm sorry, about the gun. It's just.."
"Can't be too careful ma'am," Chris said calmly.
"You ain't from around here are ya? Well, at least none of ya but him maybe," the youth spat out pointing to JD.
"No, we're traveling from back West," Vin said.
"Wow, Ma..would you look at that gun!" the kid's eyes looked to what was strapped to Vin's leg.
"So it's just Justin here and you Miss.." Buck asked.
"Mrs.. Mrs. Ellen Murphy, you've met Justin and that's Jessica in the wagon still." Each man tipping there hat or waving. "May I ask your names?"
"Sorry, Mrs. Murphy. Names Buck, Buck Wilmington. The man in black there is Chris, the big mountain of a man here is Josiah, the man next to him is Nathan, the fancy dressed fella is Ezra, the guy with the gun you liked so much is Vin, and this kid here is JD," Buck introduced, each men tipping there hats. They heard a gasp from the wagon as the little girl disappeared, emerging with a book in her hand.
As Jessica made her way down from the wagon, Justin seemed to see what his sister was pointing out, these were the men he read about in the dimestore novel Jessica now held in her hand.
"MA! Do you know who these men are? I'm so sorry for pulling the gun on you! Ma..these men..they're..they're.." He couldn't finish, and all the men shifted uncomfortably, looking to the ground.
Jessica tugged on her mother's dress skirt and held up the novel. Jessica then took a step behind, and peeked around the back of her mother, looking at JD, who couldn't help but smile.
The women looked to the group as she looked from the cover of the story. "You?" is all she could say.
"Yeah, Ma..they're The Magnificent Seven!!" Justin finally yelled out.
"Is this true? You're the Seven?" Ellen asked.
"Thats what we've been told, ma'am," Buck said smiling.
"We've been called worse," JD added.
"That we have," Chris agreed.
"Well, what do you say we get this wagon out of here, and get you on your way," Josiah said.
"JD, you think between the mules and our horses we can get this thing out of here?" Chris asked.
He didn't want to use the two mules pulling Nathan's wagon and wear them out, the trip had been longer than they were used to, but Chris knew that JD's horse and his, of all the others would do anything that they'd ask them to, Chris smiled at the thought that the kid's horse would do handstands if he asked her to.
"Yeah, I got some rope in one of my bags," JD responded.
JD limped his way over to where the mules were tied, and found that he had a shadow.
"You get shot? That why you're limping?" Justin asked with enthusiasm.
"This?" JD asked lifting his leg, "Naw, just stepped where I shouldn't have," JD smiled back.
"What happened?" The boy's eyes wide, he was actually talking to someone famous!
"Stepped in an old bear trap," JD said flatly, still limping his way, getting closer to the mules.
"Wow, did it bust your leg?"
"Yup," he answered. God was he this bad when he first got to Four Corners? How did Buck put up with me?
"Little more than a month," JD said, getting the rigging for the mules.
"My cousin David busted his leg last year, doc told him he couldn't get outta bed for six weeks!"
"Pretty much what Nathan said, too," JD smiled, putting the rigging on one of the mules. There was a short silence as Justin helped JD with the mules.
"JD, Justin, just JD."
"Okay, sure, Mr. Dunne!" Justin smiled, causing JD to smile too, shaking his head.
"You wanted to ask me somethin?" JD asked becoming amused, probably the same way Chris had felt when he first met him.
"Oh..yeah. You ever been shot?" the eagerness in his voice evident.
"Yeah, few times," he said, rigging up the second mule.
"How many times?" he asked a little more enthusiastically than JD thought good.
"Does it matter?" he said, a little ashamed at his tone. "Justin it ain't fun gettin shot at, it's even less fun gettin shot. I've been real lucky."
"How's it feel?" he asked honestly, with a tone it deserved.
"I don't know," JD answered honestly as well.
"Does it hurt?"
"I guess." He always knew when he had been hit, he just blocked out the pain or was able to ignore it, something he had learned before he came to Four Corners.
"Guess you been shot so many times you forgot what it feels like, huh?" Justin questioned.
"Just been hurt a lot," JD thought out loud.
"Almost ready kid?" Chris asked, JD was relieved he wouldn't have to explain himself to Justin.
"Yeah," JD and Justin answered at the same time.
"Josiah found a good size piece of wood to help," Chris said.
JD hitched up the mules as Buck and Chris tied the ropes from the mules to the two horses. JD finished and walked back to where the two 'families' stood.
"We're going to be pushing in the back, Nathan and Josiah are going to use the wood as leverage. Mrs. Murphy, I'd like you to drive the team and Justin, I need you to help here in the front," Chris instructed.
"Sure, Mr. Larabee, what is it you need me to do?"
"I need you to take this rope, and when I tell you to, tell her to pull. This is JD's horse, and when you tell her to pull she'll start pullin' and mine will start. You understand? No clicking, just pull. When the wagons free tell her to stop, you're gonna have to hold mine up. Okay? Can you do that?"
"Sure, pull then stop," Justin understood shaking his head.
Chris handed the ropes to Justin, Josiah helped Ellen into the wagon then Jessica who crawled into the back. Josiah and Nathan were at the piece of wood they had found, ready to put all their weight on it to help lift the wheel overrock. The five remaining men, Ezra included, waded into the frigid waist deep water and took up positions around the back of the wagon.
"We ready?" Chris asked.
"Ready." Ellen said
"All set here." Josiah stated.
"Let's do this."
"Okay, Justin!" Chris yelled from the back of the wagon.
"PULL!" Justin yelled.
The horse heard the words and did as she was told, Chris' horse followed the lead, Ellen was commanding the mules and snapping the reins. The men pushed, and Josiah and Nathan leaned on the wood. The wagon wheel began making it's assent off the rock and there was a sudden release. The wagon groaned and it's contents crashed inside as the wheel fell heavy on the other side of the rock.
Jessica, who had seemed to take a shine to JD, had gone to the back of the wagon to watch what was going on. As the wagon wheel had gone to the other side of the rock, it had bounced Jessica out of the wagon, JD happened to look up just as she was coming out. All he saw were two big blue scared eyes as she fell into him, sending both into the frigid water and swept away by the current.
"Stop," Justin yelled, dropping the ropes and quickly making it to Chris' horse, stopping it like he said he have to.
Ellen was about to smile when she heard the men behind her.
She wasn't sure who was saying what but she quickly got off the wagon. She was passed by Vin and Buck, the others following.
"What? What happened?"
"Jessica fell out, JD caught her," Josiah said calmly, the only way he could.
"Where is she? Mr. Sanchez, where's my daughter!??" Ellen cried out, not hiding the panic.
"Mrs. Murphy, your daughter fell into the river with Mr. Dunne," Ezra tried.
"Oh my God!! Oh...OH God!!" Ellen had become hysterical.
"Mrs. Murphy, rest assured my dear woman, the young man in that river will not let anything happen to your daughter, he will lay his life down for her if need be," Ezra stated the truth, it was true of all of them.
"Ma?" Justin stepped from the wagon. "Ma? What 's wrong?" Justin eyes filled with tears, not knowing what had happened but his mother was upset so he was too.
"Your sister and JD fell in the river, son," Josiah explained, with a huge gentle hand on the youths shoulder.
"What!? Jess..JESS!!" Justin yelled as he tried to get to the river.
"I don't believe throwing yourself in the river is going to help with this predicament."
"Son, Vin and the others will find them, I think we need to help in other ways," Josiah said, still gentle.
"How? I can't help from here!"
"Your mother needs you, son, Ezra and I will gather some wood. There going to be needing a good fire when they get back."
Justin nodded at the preacher, he looked to his mother and saw the desperation in her eyes. When his father had been killed she was the strong one, now he saw that it was his turn to be strong, for his mother and his sister.
"Ma, it'll be okay, JD will make sure she's okay. They're gonna find them."
+ + + + + + +
"Noo, Jjjess, aain'tt enough rromm fforr bbothh offf usss."
She looked around and seeing no one she began to weep.
"Hhhey...ddddon't dddo thattt, Iii pppprooommmiissse tttheyy'll findd uussss." JD tried to hold the smile, he brought his shaking hands and wiped away the tears that had escaped her eyes. Her head laying into his quivering hand and she closed her eyes, totally relaxing.
"Jjjjessss, yyou gggotta kkkkeepp yyyourrr eeyess oopennn, Iiiii cccann'tttt ssseee yyyourrrr, ppprreetttyyy bbbluueesss." She did as she was asked and her eyes opened. JD gave her a shaky smile, which she tried to return.
Vin looked the river bank up and down, they had gone maybe five minutes when he saw a little girl sitting on a rock, wrapped up in a familiar brown jacket. His elation died when he didn't see JD, then he saw a movement in the water beside her.
"They're over here!" he yelled to the others.
"They okay?" Buck asked quickly.
"She's up on a rock."
"Next to her." Buck smiled. "He's still in the water," Vin finished as he dismounted. He took the rope from his saddle horn and the four men headed for the riverbank.
"JD!" Buck yelled.
"Buck!" he managed without the chattering teeth.
"Sssseeee.. Wwwhat'dd I ttttell yyyyya?" he smiled faintly at the little girl. Who returned her smile to him.
"We're gonna throw the rope out, can you get back in that way?" Vin yelled.
"Yup!" he managed again without chattering, he was happy because he knew that one of them would jump in after them if they knew how cold he was.
Vin tossed the rope, and JD surprised himself by catching it, nothing wanted to work, he some how worked the rope around his waist and Jessica made her way if front of him.
"Yyyou'rree gggonna hhhhave tttto hholddd rrrreal ttttightt, kkkkaay?"
She nodded her understanding and faced him wrapping the big jacket arms that covered her arms around JD's neck. JD did the best he could to walk over to the riverbank. His legs felt like they weighed a ton and didn't move very well, but he made it to the river bank and handed the little girl off to his waiting friends.
Vin took Jessica and laid her down, Nathan began to examine the little girl as Vin put a warm dry blanket around her.
"How is she, Nathan?" Chris asked from where he was untying the knot JD had made in the rope.
"She's a little wet, but she's warm," Nathan smiled.
"Jjjjjess iisss okkkkayyy?" JD's chattering came back.
"She's just fine," Buck said, trying to help Chris get the soaked shirt off.
"Gggggooodd, Iiii'mmmmm ccccccoolldddd," JD said, his whole body giving into the shaking that had been contained in his chattering teeth.
"I know you are, we're gonna get you warmed up real soon, okay," Buck said, not hiding his concern when he saw JD's lips had a hint of blue. "Let's get him back to camp."
The men mounted their horses, Nathan cradled Jessica and Vin led the horse he was riding. JD was riding with Buck, shaking furiously with Chris right next to them.
The small group ran to the first two horses where Jessica was.
"Jessica! Oh baby..baby..are you okay sweetheart?" Ellen cried out, Nathan handed the little girl to the waiting arms of her mother.
"She's a bit wet and little scared, but she's fine," Nathan relayed, the two men dismounted and made their way to the fire, putting more wood on it.
"Thank God, thank you."
"Where's JD?" Justin asked.
"He's coming, we're gonna need more blankets," Nathan said, no one missed the tone in his voice.
"Mr. Jackson? Is he hurt?" Ellen asked, still holding her daughter tightly.
"He's real cold, ma'am," Nathan said flatly.
Ellen glanced at the gambler, he was right. The young man, a complete stranger, was willing to risk his own safety to save her little girl. She looked at the concerned faces and felt guilty for getting them involved in the first place.
"I'm so sorry," Ellen cried out.
"This isn't your fault, he is an honorable young man who would have jumped into the river to insure her safety," Ezra smiled.
"I have a feeling that any of you would have done the same," Ellen said, returning a smile.
Chris dismounted quickly, he turned and took JD from Buck's horse, he quickly carried the shivering boy to the fire. Chris carefully laid him on the blanket as Nathan and Buck began to strip off the wet clothes. As the clothes hit the ground a man would pick it up and hang it near the fire.
As Ellen watched the scene before her she realized JD had given Jessica his coat, he had been in the water without any protection.
"Keep him awake, guys," Nathan urged.
"Come on, kid, you heard Nathan, keep them eyes open," Buck instructed.
"Ttttirreedddd, Bbbuckkkkk." The sound of the shivering boy broke Ellen's heart.
"I know, but ya gotta try, least until you warm up a little."
"She's fine, son. She's with her momma, you did real good son, real good," Chris said, not hiding the smile.
The men began to rub JD's arms and hands, trying to keep the circulation going and warm the kid up. Nathan pulled back the blanket covering JD's legs to start doing the same.
"Careful of that leg, Ezra," Nathan reminded. Ezra nodded and gently rubbed the leg, watching for a reaction on JD's face to let him know he was hurting him.
Justin had been watching and when Nathan had pulled the blanket away, he saw the ugly scars on JD's leg caused by the bear trap that had broken his leg. Justin took a few steps back, bumping into Josiah.
"I'm s..sorry..Mr.. San..." Justin stammered.
"No need, son, you okay?"
"Yeah, just..I was just thinking..something I said to JD.."
"About being one of the seven and how exciting it must be?" Josiah surmised.
"Something like that. I was thinking when we got out West.. Maybe I could be just like you guys...like him," Justin said.
"Cause I want... I wanted to be.." Justin tried.
"You wanna be a hero?"
"Yeah, like JD," Justin hung his head, as if ashamed.
"JD will tell you he ain't a hero."
"According to those books, killing the bad guys, making right, good always wins out over the bad, that's what it's like out there."
"According to the books, that's not always the case. Those books also never say when the hero gets hurt or shot."
"That's cause they're the hero."
"JD a hero?"
"Yeah..he's a hero," Justin smiled.
"Hero's, Justin, real ones get hurt. JD tell you how many times he's been shot?"
"He said a few times."
"So , according to your books, JD's not a hero."
"Guess you can't believe everything you read then. JD is he gonna, will he be all right?"
"JD's a fighter, he's lived through more than any man three times his age," Josiah smiled sadly.
"Guess I shouldn't want to grow up as fast as JD wanted to, huh?"
"You have that choice, JD didn't."
Justin was going to ask Josiah exactly what he meant by that, but Buck and Chris's yelling interrupted them.
"JD!! You can't fall asleep..open your eyes, JD!" Buck yelled.
"Come on, JD. Open your eyes..." Chris yelled at the same time.
Jessica was jumped by the constant shouting of the men, she fought her mother's grip and crawled to the head of the shaking and shivering man that had saved her earlier. She laid her hand on his cold face and whispered in his ear, and sat back. A smile forced its way to JD's face and his eyes struggled open.
The two older men smiled a thank you to Jessica, who still held her hand on his face, never looking at them.
"Don't do that again, kid..you understand! You just took ten years of my life," Buck smiled at the hazel eyes.
"Sssoorrrrryyy, tttrryyyyinnnnnnn'," he cried out.
"You hurtin', JD?" Nathan asked
"Nnnnnnnnnnooo," he cried again. He was scared, the men understood the look in his eyes and on his face.
"Hero's even get scared, Justin," Josiah said, putting a comforting hand around the boy.
"Bbbuckkkk?" came the chattering whisper.
"What ya need, kid?"
"Ssshhhe ssssstill hhhhere?" he whispered again, the steady flow of scared tears running from the corners of his eyes.
" Jessica? Yeah."
"Mmmmakkkke hhheer ggo aaawayyyy, pppleasse," the words caused the five men to stop what they were doing.
"Why do you want her to go, son?" Chris asked, trying to understand.
"Hurttsss," he managed weakly.
"Okay." Chris looked to Ezra, who had surrendered his post earlier to Vin. Ezra nodded and made his way to the six year old girl who sat next to Buck at JD's head, wiping away the tears that found their way out.
"Jessica? I need some assistance, can you help me?" Ezra asked warmly. Jessica looked at the gambler then back to JD.
"Go with Ezra, darlin," Buck smiled.
She looked back to JD then nodded, taking Ezra's hand. He led her back to her mother.
"Is there a problem, Mr. Standish? Is she in the way?"
"No, Mrs. Murphy, she's a very sweet child, so much so Mr. Dunne wishes not to subject her to the uncomfortable process of which he is beginning to experience," Ezra explained.
"Is there anything I can do?"
"Cover the child's ears," Ezra said plainly.
"Josiah..why they stop doing what they were doin?" Justin asked, not hiding his concern.
"He's probably gettin' feeling back, perhaps it would be wise to leave, there's nothing we can do to help."
"But.." he began to protest, but was reminded of what Josiah had said earlier.. Hero's hurt.
"Aahhhhhhhh," JD cried out, the men trying everything to show that they were there.
"Where ya hurtin, JD?" Nathan trying to figure where the thawing process was going to start.
"Hhhurtssss evvvveryyyywherrrre.." JD sobbed out, he never had so much pain at once, not even in the bear trap.
"Okay.. Can ya squeeze your hand," Nathan asked, still remaining the calm in the storm.
JD did as he was told, but as he made the attempt of a fist he cried out in pain and stopped.
"Oh Goddd..Nnnathannn.. Itt hurtsss," he managed through a strangled cry, his shivering beginning to diminish.
"I know, I'm sorry."
"You're doin fine, kid," Vin said.
JD curled into himself as he sat up, screaming in agony as warmth coursed through every part of his body. As the 'spasm ' of pain ceased he fell towards Chris, who cradled the boy, moving his legs behind JD. Buck never left the boy's side either as Nathan and Vin continued the gentle words of support along with the two older men.
The screams and kind words continued as the sun began to fall behind the mountains and brought the night on, bringing with it a cold air, causing more blankets to be sacrificed for JD.
It seemed hours, although it had only been minutes, when JD fell silent, not sure if it was because he'd finally wore himself out or if the pain had become inbearable, letting JD fall into the darkness. Chris still cradled the young man, afraid to move in fear he would send the young man back to where he'd been.
"Brought you something to eat," Ellen said quietly.
"Thank you, ma'am, right nice of ya," Vin said, taking two plates from the four she balanced.
"How's Jessica doin?" Buck asked.
"Mr. Standish is keeping her occupied with card tricks, he's very good with children," she said, a bit surprised.
"Ezra's full of surprises, ma'am," Nathan smiled.
"She talked to him."
"Ma'am?" Chris asked, JD's head on the leader's chest; a protective arm around the shoulders.
"She said something to him, when you were trying to wake him up," the emotion evident in her voice.
"She whispered something to him," Chris said.
"She saw her father die, four months ago. She hasn't spoken since the accident. She.. She talked," she sobbed through the smile, "to him," she finished.
"I don't know what she said, but she brought him back to us," Buck smiled.
"He brought her back to me, I'm so sorry for all the trouble. I don't know where you are going or why. Thank you for helping us. You are truly magnificent," she said through tears and turned.