They laid JD gently on the bed. Nathan made his way quickly to a table, grabbed a pair of shears, and began cutting the rest of JD's pants, handing the shears off to the person standing closest to him.
"Cut that off," he instructed, pointing at the torn pant leg, while he began to carefully remove JD's boot. Without a word Ezra took to his task, as the boot dropped from the healer's grasp, he looked up to check the progress of the man cutting the pant leg..
"Ezra, you don't.." Nathan stated, knowing the gambler wasn't used to playing nurse.
"I am more than capable," Ezra said, sending the healer a sly smile.
"Okay, go slow, if he wakes up.." the healer directed.
"Nathan, he's gettin' pretty warm," Buck stated.
"Josiah, give that to Buck," Nathan pointing with a nod of the head, again.
Buck took the wash basin full of water, set it on the table next to the bed, and began to put the cloth on the boys forehead. Vin sat next to his brother, holding on to the now limp hand, not able to do anything else.
In a matter of twenty minutes JD had broken his leg and was in the clinic, where Nathan began carefully closing the gash the bone had left in the boy's leg. After an hour and a half of the tedious work the healer finally stood and washed his hands with the extra water Josiah had brought up. He turned back to clean up the boys leg and found Ezra already doing it.
"Careful, not too hard, Ezra." Ezra nodded.
"At least it came out his side, not in the back," the healer said quietly as he made his way to check the boy's forehead, he smiled as he felt the warmth, but no fever.
"I don't suppose any of you are gonna leave?" he looked to the group, almost proud of them for sticking around, especially of Ezra, for what he'd done.
"I shall leave if only you yourself retreat for a well deserved rest," Ezra smiled.
"It ain't even noon yet, Ezra, no man goes to bed at noon."
"Perhaps not, Mr. Jackson, but most men do not deal with the rigors of your work, and not only that, Mr. Jackson, for lack of better words, you look like hell," the southern charm coming back.
Nathan looked at Josiah who nodded with a smile, and Nathan gave in to an extent, agreeing to go to the adjoining room and lay there, that way if he was needed he wouldn't be far away. Josiah and Ezra agreed and left the room, they themselves retreating to the chairs in the halls.
Nathan was talking to Chris when he heard Vin's alarming voice.
He went to the bed, JD was trying to get air. He saw JD's stomach constricting and grabbed him roughly by the arms.
"He's chokin'...he's tryin' to throw up, get him on his side!" Nathan said, alarm in his voice.
Buck,Vin, and Nathan began to roll JD to his side, Chris wisely grabbed the good leg to keep it from hitting the other. JD cleared himself and took in a much waited gasp of air. They rolled him back over and his head limply rolled with it, but his eyes were open and full of tears.
"Vin," he looked at Buck.
"It's Buck, kid," he said softly holding his hand, a feeling of self pity came over him; JD hadn't called for him, but wanted his brother. As it should be, Buck thought, pushing the unproductive feeling away.
"Oh," and he closed his eyes, only to fight them open again. Not having the strength or the coordination to move his head easily, due to the drug induced haze, he was still looking at Buck.
"Where..." a hard swallow, and intense concentration, "Vin"
"I'm right here, JD."
JD's head moved slowly to Vin's voice.
"How ya doin' little brother?" Vin asked as he reached his shaky free hand to his brother's pale face, trying hard to smile.
"Been...worse," he tiredly smiled back. Bringing a smile to the men.
"Right here," he said in the gentle tone reserved for JD.
"Did I break...my leg?" JD knew Chris always told him the truth, something Buck sometimes couldn't do, and really didn't know if Vin would.
"Yeah, you did," he answered only the question asked, not adding the severity.
"How...bad..did...it break.?" he asked in a slightly panicking voice, fighting back tears.
"Nathan says you're gonna be fine," Chris tried to sidestep the question, with failure.
"How bad?!" he was becoming agitated due to the fact that he basically didn't dare ask if his leg was gone, he remembered seeing Josiah holding a saw.
"JD, calm down. It was bad..okay? The bone came through your leg," Chris said in the softest tone possible, but wasn't relieved to when JD became more panicked.
"JD, calm down, everything's fine," Buck tried but failed against JD's agitation and adrenaline
JD found his strength and moved his head to Vin, the panic in his eyes showing itself clearly to Vin.
"It ain't fine! Did you hear what he said!! Why did you let them do that! Why??" Vin had no idea where JD was but he knew he needed to get him back.
"Do what JD? I didn't let them do nothin' but fix ya."
"My leg..Josiah had that saw...Ezra's hand..it had..blood on it..in..the church.. and he started to cut and it hurt Vin..and you let them!!" The men realized where the panic was now coming from.
"JD, no one cut your leg off. Your just remembering all mixed up," Chris said. Chris then nodded to Buck, the medication was effecting JD, badly. Not causing him to be sleepy and groggy, but irate and mad.
"Sit him up," Buck said quickly. They carefully sat JD up as Chris pulled back the blankets, showing JD that his leg, ugly as the sight was, was still attached.
"See, JD, it's still there, I know it ain't pretty; Nathan says it'll take a while, but you're gonna heal fine," Vin said calmly
JD looked at his leg under a stack of pillows and blankets, making a move to make sure it was his leg and not a trick, Vin's hand cutting him off from his target. He noticed all the blood under the tower of pillows and some directly under what they told him was his leg. And he reached for his leg again and managed to be quicker than Vin had anticipated.
"JD, don't, time to lay you back down, you're gonna wear yourself out," Vin said, he had been so focused on JD he hadn't even looked at the leg, he wasn't to sure he was ready to either.
"No, Vin, I wanna see it," he said, an unusual look of defiance crossing the usual pleasant face. Vin looked to Chris for an answer, knowing that if Chris said 'no' that would be the end of the discussion. Chris did what he thought was right to get the kid calm, and lifted the cloth that covered the leg.
JD saw the stitches and a six inch long gash the bone had created, his leg had begun to swell and bruise; he lifted his head, sending Chris a tearful, tired gaze letting him know he'd seen enough. Chris covered the leg back up, as Buck and Vin eased JD back down in the bed without protest.
"Ezra.. Did I hurt Ezra?" JD said in a defeated tone, still questioning his memory of the events in the church
"You know it is considered bad form to talk about individuals not present?" Ezra smiled warmly at JD, he had heard the raised voices coming from inside the room and took it upon himself to make sure things were under control, not that he doubted the three men's ability, but he wanted to be there as well. JD's head turned slowly hearing the gambler's voice
"I did that?" JD asked, his eyes filling seeing the swollen spot just under Ezra's right eye.
"Yes, Mr. Dunne, you indeed delivered this colorful blemish, which I will wear with pride," he said making his way to the boy's bedside, seeing the young man's dispair.
"Sorry, Ezra," JD said quietly with heavy eyes.
"I do not hold you accountable my boy," Ezra smiled, then added, "I do believe that our friends and your brother are in desperate need of a meal and a respite; if will allow me to, I would be more than happy to accompany you as you yourself retire for a time."
Ezra never got a reply from JD, he had fallen asleep.
"I'm gonna stay here with, JD"
"Mr. Tanner, I assure you.."
"I know 'you assure', Ezra, but he's my brother," Vin smiled crookedly at the gambler, who returned a smile as well.
"Tell Nathan we'll bring him somethin', you too Vin," Chris said as he stood to leave.
"Thanks." Chris and Buck smiled and nodded and left the room, leaving the kid they usually comforted, with his brother.
"Out with the old in with the new?" Buck smiled sadly.
"Not easy is it, letting go," Chris said knowingly.
"No one said having kids was easy, pard," Buck chuckled.
"Nope it sure isn't," Chris adding a slight snicker of his own.
+ + + + + + +
"Vin?" came the small voice from the bed.
"Hey, how ya feelin'?"
"Is she okay?" he asked somberly, eyes still closed.
"Who, JD?" Vin asked looking to Ezra, who shrugged his shoulders.
"Jake's mad at me," still with eyes closed.
"No, Jake ain't mad at ya," Vin soothed as he nodded at Ezra, who indicated he was getting Nathan.
"Why, Vin? Why she do this? Where's Buck?" JD's eyes were still closed, but he was growing more and more agitated with every word.
"Buck's downstairs..you want me to get him?" Vin figured that's what he wanted, and stood to do so.
"NO!! He ..he..he slept with her! I don't ..no..OH GOD!! VIN!!!" and JD bolted up straight in bed, eyes wide, breathing heavy and covered with sweat. The door opened just as Nathan came in with Ezra right behind him.
Vin sat back down on the chair, and tentatively took JD's hand.
"JD?" Vin said, knowing JD was somewhere else, trying to get his brother's mind back into the clinic
"Vin?" JD asked sadly.
"Right here," the elder brother reassured.
JD turned his head as he felt himself going backwards, he wanted to grab at something so he wouldn't fall, but he couldn't get his heavy arms up anywhere. As his eyes began to fill he looked through the blurry eyes for Vin.
"Help," it came out almost a whisper, "fall.."
"You are not falling, we are simply helping to lay back into bed," Ezra said calmly and softly, knowing his usual flamboyant words would never reach the panicked teen.
"Vin! help...me..please!" he cried out still in a soft tone, but the urgency present in his voice. His cloudy head hadn't let him understand what Ezra told him.
"They're just layin' ya down, JD," Nathan said evenly as Ezra and Vin were easing him into the bed slowly.
"No..Vin...sick......" and he began to choke like he had earlier. They rolled JD towards Ezra, Nathan taking the good leg, and JD threw up.
Ezra never faltered as JD threw up all over him, accepting a wet cloth Nathan had handed him and began to clean the young man face and forearm that had gotten in the way, as Vin kept to the younger sibling talking softly and reassuringly as JD began to calm.
"I won't hear a word of it, JD, you have nothing to be sorry for," Ezra smiled.
"Just a small bruise, I do believe your brother would like you to sleep, now."
JD turned his eyes to Vin as if asking what the gambler was saying was true. Through the blurry eyes he saw a nod, he made a weak smile and closed his eyes.
"He ever acted like that before?" Vin asked as soon as JD had fallen asleep.
"This ain't like the other times, he's had a lot on his plate," Nathan tried to ease Vin's concern, as he handed Ezra a shirt to change into.
"What's that suppose to mean?" Vin just wanted a simple yes or no, and he wasn't getting it.
"Vin. Look..what I'm tryin' to tell ya is he's been under a lot of stress. He ain't had but a week or two since findin' out you two were brothers..and he's still dealing with his momma, and Buck. Not to mention everything else that's happened," Nathan stated.
Vin let out a heavy sigh and nodded his head, he knew Nathan was right. JD had alot to deal with and before he could properly, something else would happen. Nathan told the others that JD's mind was in an extremely relaxed state, so he was unable to push things to the back of his mind like he had been.
Buck and Chris re-entered the room with a tray full of food, some broth and some coffee for the men. The concerned looks and Ezra's appearance and change of shirt brought worry for the two had entered.
"What happened? Is he okay? He got a fever?" Buck asked quickly as he put the food on the small table.
"He's okay, just havin' a rough time of it," Nathan assured, Buck shook his head.
Vin walked over to Chris and took a cup of coffee, and voiced his concern in a quiet tone.
"I don't think Buck should be here."
"You think I can get him to leave, I know he's tired but.." Chris tried to reason with his friend.
"That ain't it. JD said somethings, about Buck and his mother.. I know he ain't in his right mind.."
"But.." Chris asked.
"I think he might get him riled up," the tracker said with regret.
Chris was about to argue, but JD interrupted by calling for Vin.
"Vin!" the eyes were closed again.
"He's talking with Chris," Buck answered softly, then pushed the hair out of his eyes.
"Yeah kid it's me" Buck smiled, not knowing what had happened earlier, he was not prepared for what was about to happen.
"Get out! Don't ..Vin!! Go away..how ..VIN!!" Buck was stunned as JD sat up, as he had done before.
"JD, calm down." Buck tried, and grabbed him by the shoulders attempting to lay him down. Vin and Chris were at the bed as JD began to yell. Chris was trying to get JD down, and Vin was trying to get Buck away from JD.
"Buck, let go of him, come on..let me talk to ya." Vin said calmly.
"JD, let's get ya laid back down," Chris said with a bit of force.
"JD..I ain't gonna hurt ya, just calm down, son," Buck pleaded.
"SHUT UP!! I AIN'T YOUR SON REMEMBER!! YOU...You..you just slept with her.." JD had worn himself out, and he went limp in Chris's arms as he lay him back in bed.
The room was still and quiet, four men hung their heads in sympathy and hurt, while one lay on a bed asleep, and one sat in a chair, pale and shaken.
"Buck, he didn't mean it," Vin explained.
"Yeah he did, he'd just never said it before," Buck said sadly
"Mr. Wilmington, what one says while under the influence.."
"Ezra..don't," he said sadly, "He's just saying what he feels."
"You know he remembers what he does and says, he's gonna be feelin' pretty bad, in a couple of days," Chris told the mustached gunslinger. JD always remembered what he said or did.
"Well, at least I know where I stand with him." Buck said as he got up from the chair he had occupied when JD would be hurt.
"Mr. Wilmington, I hardly think this is where 'he' feels you stand."
"Did you not hear what he said?" Buck laughed out, causing JD to stir.
"All of ya..take it outside, now," Nathan instructed, the men did as they were told and left. Once they were outside of the clinic they picked up the conversation again.
"Mr. Wil, Buck. I heard what he said, but there is one thing you must understand," Ezra stated without the usual charm, but urgency. JD didn't mean to say what he had said, he was sure of it.
"I understand fine. He hates me, I ain't blamin' him, Ezra," Buck said with confidence, meaning what he was saying, and more importantly, with understanding.
"Buck, JD's head is talking, not his heart. Do you understand that? His mind is still a bit unsettled. In two days that good young man will be beside himself with grief for what he's said to you! He's already forgiven you in his heart, it is time you forgave yourself!" Ezra said, choking back the tears he had felt.
"He's right. It ain't just you he's messed up about. He asked about, 'her' too; and he think Jake's mad at him," Vin offered
"Maybe I should just stay away for a bit, till he comes out of it," Buck questioned.
"I think that would be a good idea," Chris nodded in agreement with Vin.
"I disagree," Ezra spoke up. All three looked at the gambler.
"I ain't gonna go up there and get him beside himself!"
"He needs to know that you are not abandoning him. If you stay away, I'm afraid he will be worse off. He needs to know that you are not upset with him."
"You don't think he's gonna get all worked up?" Chris wondered.
"I think Ezra's right, JD remembers everythin' he says and does, he'll remember Buck stickin' by him, even if he says more." Vin understood what Ezra was saying
"What did he ask about Joseline?" Chris changed the subject a bit.
Vin sighed heavy, "He don't think she's dead, he asked me how she was, I didn't get a chance to answer..I think he was just ramblin'."
"Lets head back up so Nathan doesn't have to deal with him alone. Lets hope that's as bad as he's gonna get."
+ + + + + + +
For several hours the men sat with the young man, trying to calm him in his drug-induced tirades. He had said a few more things about Buck, but they lessened and were replaced by other thoughts. Joseline being a constant. Always asking where she was or if she was all right, always getting the same answer which would send him into a guilt that would only let up when he fell asleep.
JD awoke to find Nathan, Buck, and Vin. The men smiled, seeing that his eyes seemed to be clear, the medicine had finally wore off.
"Buck," came the all to quiet voice.
"I.. I know...I said things, I didn't ..I wanna....I ..I'm sorry, I didn't mean them," he said pleadingly, full of so much regret it seemed to engulf him.
"Got nothin to be sorry about, kid. I knew it wasn't you doin' the talkin'," Buck said evenly, knowing that some of the things he had said had hurt him.
JD smiled and fell into a peaceful, self inflicted sleep.
+ + + + + + +
"JD, I gotta check this, your leg ain't splinted so you gotta be still," Nathan repeated as he had done earlier as well.
"Nathan? Why do you have to keep doin' that?"
"Just wanna make sure it's clean is all," Nathan smiled at the kid.
"JD, no more questions, Vin, get some of that water into him." Vin nodded and Ezra help the kid sit up by positioning himself behind the young sheriff as Vin brought the glass up to JD.
"My arms ain't broke ya know," JD pointed out.
"I'm not the one layin' in bed," Vin countered.
"I ain't layin', I'm sittin'," JD said sarcastically.
"How long do you think you would remain in that position if I opted to withdraw myself," Came the southern, almost stern, voice of Ezra in JD's ear.
"Well, I dunno..but I can hold a glass of water," feeling somewhat defeated, "Can't I?"
"You puttin' up a fuss already?" Buck said, entering the room with a tray of food.
"JD, drink it and stop talking so I can look at this," Nathan said a little harsher then he'd meant.
JD took the glass from Vin and guzzled the water. "Can I have more?"
"No, you know that's gonna make ya sick, drinkin' it that fast."
Nathan took the loose cloth off the leg, and as the dried blood ripped from the skin, JD let out a gasp. Nathan inspected the wound and touched JD's toes to see if they felt warm or cold, he was pleased they were warm, and under the bruising appeared to have good color.
"I think we can splint the leg now," Nathan announced.
"He fell asleep, Nathan," Vin said .
"Well, then let's get him fixed up."
"Ezra, I can help here if you'd like to get cleaned up," Buck offered, still a bit mystified by the gambler's generosity of the past few days.
"Mr. Jackson, will you be need.."
"Go on, Ezra, the three of us can handle this," the healer smiled.
Ezra nodded and headed for the door, as he began to close it a strong hand stopped it and the healer followed him out the door.
"Is there a problem, Mr. Jackson?"
"No, I just wanted to say thanks for what you did."
"Your thanks are not necessary, Mr..."
"Yeah, they are, you did a lot of good things, Ezra. You didn't complain about gettin' kicked, or doin' what ya had to do, knowin' you were hurtin' JD, ya didn't even say nothin' when the kid threw up all over ya. We ain't always seen eye to eye, Ezra, but I appreciate what you done. You done good."
Ezra took off his hat and held it down in front of him, trying to shake the feeling he had. He felt embarrassed at the praise, and a sense of pride. He didn't think if the words were coming from the others he wouldn't have such a strong feeling, but Nathan had said them to him. The praise and honest gratitude from Nathan meant more than anything he could put into words.
"Mr. Jackson, do you suppose my mother would be as pleased?" the gambler finally said, with a light touch.
"Maude? Ezra, no disrespect but I think Maude woulda been right down ashamed of ya," Nathan said with a huge smile, knowing the way Maude was.
"Very good then," Ezra said not hiding the smile of self indulgent pride.
Nathan returned to the room to find JD back on his side.
"He didn't keep the water down?" Nathan asked with concern.
"He ain't got a fever, Nathan, he drank the water pretty fast, just don't think it settled is all," Vin informed the healer as he checked the young man's forehead.
"Well, let's get this done while he's still sleepin'," Nathan said the day gone and the night taking over.
Nathan and Buck got the supplies they'd need to make sure the leg didn't move while the bone healed. He had read in a book, of things you could mix together to make the bandages more sturdy. It was written by a doctor in San Francisco, and although Nathan didn't have all the ingredients, he did some substituting and found it worked just as well.
He would try and keep JD in bed as long as he could, normally it would have been several weeks before he would allow anyone to use something that had been broken, but this wasn't anyone, this was JD Dunne. The young man with a streak of bad luck that just didn't want to stop. Buck and the others referred to JD's bad luck as 'black cats walking under a ladder'. The number of cats usually depended on how bad the luck was.
Nathan knew the minute the kid was feeling better he'd want to be out of the sick bed. Nathan wouldn't mind doing that if he'd stay in his room, but he knew the boy wouldn't be able to last maybe a day or two. The healer also knew that with one look, the two men helping him, and Chris, would give into the boy and help him 'escape'.
Somedays, he had a mind to lock the kid in the jail, and make him stay there till he was healed, but they'd find the key and sneak him out anyway. Nathan lifted his head and saw the sleeping kid and his older brother stroking the kid's hair. Maybe Vin wouldn't give into the kid this time, he thought, after all they are brothers and that meant he'd watch to make sure he'd do as he was told.
"Finished, thanks, Buck, just ease it back into the pillows. How's he doin', Vin?" the question falling on deaf ears, Vin had fallen asleep, his hand still on the kid's head and the other on his chest.
"Get to bed, Nathan, I'll stay here. You said he shouldn't try moving for a coupla hours?"
"Yeah, give it a chance to dry. Get me up in three, then you can get some sleep too. I mean it, Buck, three hours."
"Three hours." The men nodded a goodnight to each other and the healer retreated to his room again to sleep. Buck grabbed a chair and sat it next to the kid across from Vin.
"Hey kid, how ya feelin'?" Buck asked in a whisper.
"Okay, just tired. Where's Vin?"
"Right next to ya, he's sleepin'," the gunslinger said softly, looking into the hazel eyes that didn't ask for him anymore.
"Good, he needs it," JD smiled back.
"Buck? Don't leave, okay?" JD added as his eyes became heavy again and sleep overcame him.
"I won't, thanks," he said to his friend as he was overcome, he still needs me. Chris was right, there's enough room for all of us still, he smiled as he thought to himself.
Vin jerked awake suddenly.
"Easy, Vin, you're gonna wake him up," Buck smiled.
"He wake up at all?"
"Yeah, for few minutes."
"Why didn't ya' wake me up?"
"He weren't awake long, just asked where you were and fell asleep."
"Oh," Vin sighed. Somehow feeling he had failed.
"You're doin' fine, Vin," Buck smiled, sensing Vin's apprehension.
"I don't know, maybe I ain't cut out for this," Vin shrugged.
"For what? Bein' his brother? I don't see how ya have much of a choice there, Vin," Buck chuckled lightly.
"Guess not, I just don't wanna let him down, he's had to many people do that."
"Yeah, I know he has," Buck hung his head, knowing he was on that list.
"Buck, you never let him down. You've always been here for him."
"I caused a lot of hurt for him."
"Well, you can look at it that way, or you can look at what good come from it," Vin said, trying to ease Buck's guilt.
"I wasn't so sure anything good come from it at first," Buck said honestly.
"Yeah, had a hard time convincing him I weren't disappointed," Vin smiled.
"I never thought he be that down on himself, and still have that gleam in his eyes."
"Guess that's something they couldn't beat out of him." Vin said sadly as he hung his head, remembering what they had found out about his life at the estate.
"He's had a tough life, Vin, ain't no denyin' that, but he's tough and keeps bouncing back."
"I know, I just wonder if things woulda have been different, if I knew about him before, maybe I coulda saved him from gettin' hurt."
"Man can't live on 'I wonders' and 'what ifs'."
"You ever think of takin' your own advice, Buck?" Vin pointed out to the man who blamed himself for the turmoil surrounding JD's mother.
"It's alot easier to give it than it is to take it," the older man stated, as Vin nodded in agreement.
A long silence came upon the men, both taking in what the other had said. Buck had never talked to Vin like this. He never knew what Vin was really like, what JD had seen in him before finding out they were brothers. This was the first time Vin had asked Buck questions, or hold a conversation between the two of them. If this is the way he talked to JD, he could see why he had grown close to him.
Vin looked away from the sleeping JD and looked back to Buck. He noticed Buck staring at JD with a sad smile and a distant look in his eyes. Like he was wondering where his place was, where he stood with JD. From the moment the kid had gotten here it had pretty much been Buck and JD, where Buck was JD was soon to follow. If JD had been hurt, or was sick (even with a cold) it was Buck that was there. Vin began to wonder if Buck felt his place was gone, especially with what JD had said.
"He still needs ya, Buck," Vin looked to the scoundrel with honest knowing eyes, taking Buck a minute to realize Vin had read his face.
"Not as much," Buck said with a smile, but couldn't hide the sadness in his voice.
"Maybe more, I can't do what you do with him," the bounty hunter stated flatly.
"You're his brother, Vin, ya know how much family means to him"
"It means alot ..to all of us, he's made us see that. Buck, you were his 'brother' long before me." Buck smiled knowing that Vin wasn't trying to make him feel better, but meant what he was saying. That is a quality that the two brothers shared, they meant what they said.
"I don't care which brother is which, but ya got someone here trying to sleep, so shut up already," JD said, eyes still closed, shifting a bit, and breaking into a slow snore.
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