The horse stumbled, then fell with a great force, the riders were thrown roughly to the ground, neither being prepared for it.
JD stood from the ground after catching his breath that had been knocked out of him. He could hear the labored breaths of the horse, and the struggle to get back on his feet..it stopped as suddenly as he heard the sound. He walked over to where the horse lay, and saw his neck in an awkward position, he put his hand to it's head and apologized.
He suddenly realized he didn't see Vin.
"Vin?" JD said, not too loud, not too sure how far from the camp they were.
"Vin!" JD whispered out harshly, he could feel the panic begin to creep as he again didn't get an answer.
He went to the other side of the horse and looked around, straining to see with the bright moon that made everything look as if it had a hint of blue to it.
Then he saw him, lying on his back.
"Vin?" he said softly, as he kneeled next to him, his hands still bound together, and blood on his forehead. JD ripped a piece of his shirt tale and dabbed at the blood, waiting to see what kind of wound it was, after a few minutes the gash on his forehead revealed itself. From the way it looked, JD figured the horse had caught him with one of his hooves as the horse went down.
Now what! JD's head screamed. Find a place to hide, they'll find their horses before too long and come looking for you, JD reasoned, trying to remain as calm as possible, which was extremely difficult given the circumstances.
Okay, first things first..shelter JD scanned the area and saw a dark form, a cave, not but 10 feet away . One down JD sighed, as he attempted to lift his brother..the attempt failed, he wasn't strong enough. JD sat down heavily next to Vin.
What were you thinking.. JD thought..but the thought was forced away. Save it for later JD, Vin comes first..you messed up again, but that don't matter right now..get to the cave first
With a new resolve JD lifted Vin under his arms, lifting his upper body from the ground and dragging him up the slight slope to the cave, he gently lay him down on the cold rock floor and stood. He then removed his jacket laying it next to Vin, he carefully eased Vin onto the jacket inch by inch, then took off his suit jacket and covered Vin with it.
Now what? Tracks..cover up the tracks
JD exited the cave, grabbing and breaking off a shrub's branch, he walked back to the fallen horse.
Damn, can't leave him here they'll just look around and find us
He walked past the horse, he noticed a small indent in the ground and went for a closer inspection. There was a small dip in the ground, JD stood on the banking and looked back to the horse. They wouldn't notice it in the dark he thought, and began the task of dragging and pushing the horse to the dip.
By the time JD was done, not only was he happy it hadn't been his horse, but somewhat thankful it had been a young horse so it didn't weigh as much as a horse could. His muscles hurt and burned as he retrieved the two branches and swept away his tracks back to the cave. He brought the branches into the cave to start a fire with, but decided against it, the bounty hunters would be able to see a fire.
He removed his hat and swept away the sweat that had formed on his forehead from the effort of concealing the horse, then he sat next to Vin, he looked to hi brother and sighed, he hadn't moved, said anything at all and JD was worried. Nathan said that when a person hit their head, the best thing is to do was to keep that person awake..he never heard mention of what you do when the person wasn't awake to begin with.
"Come on Vin, ya gotta wake up..I don't know what to do here..please Vin..just wake up and tell me how bad I screwed up," JD requested.
The request went unanswered.
JD brought his knees up to his chest, resting his elbows on them, he covered his face with his hands, slowly bringing his head down so his fingers combed through his dark hair.
+ + + + + + +
The three bounty hunters finally located and calmed their horses, they quickly saddled them and headed off in the direction they had fired in. They were looking for the two men, the escapee and his accomplice, but knew they were headed back to Four Corners so they didn't keep their eyes on any particular direction.
The bounty hunters stopped in a particular desolate area, the only thing that offered any shelter was a small cave opening.
"You think they're up there?" Morris asked, pointing to where the 'fugitives' were hiding, JD able to hear them clearly.
"Doubt it, they're heading right to Four Corners..told ya that boy could ride," Stan said.
JD listened silently, his mouth gaping open at what the man had said, only then did he realize that it had been the men who'd brought him into town.
"Stan's right Morris..he's heading to Four Corners..running back home. Guess you were right Morris..still can't believe it..thought for sure Larabee was the brother, they seemed so connected..that boy sheriff..he looks like the total opposite of Tanner," Sweetser stated.
Great JD said silently, They know that were brothers..wonder who else knows JD sighed at the thought. The two lawman had been very careful not to let too many people know the connection; JD wondered if they knew before he'd met them if Vin had a brother..or knew he was sheriff..or was it all just an act on their part.
"So know what Alex? We head out or back to town and grab Tanner again?" Morris questioned.
"Better than that..we grab the kid..use him as a lure, get Tanner. We can bring him with us, to keep Tanner under control until we get to Tascosa..we turn Tanner in and we let the kid go," the leader decided.
"You know they'll try somethin on the way," Stan smiled out.
"Lets hope not..won't be much left of that kid if they do," Sweetser smiled.
The three urged their horses on and when JD couldn't hear the hoof beats he let the breath out that he'd been holding. JD waited another 15 minutes after the bounty hunters had left to start a fire..or attempt one at least.
He stepped out of the cave and gathered twigs, dry prairie grass, sticks and then bigger pieces of wood. He carefully lay them down, sorting them out like he'd seen Vin do. Vin said it just made it easier..so you knew not to put too big a piece of wood on the fire and accidentally kill it. He stepped out of the cave again, looking for decent sized rocks in order to build a circle to entrap the fire. He found only a few , hardly enough, so he opted for plan B.
He went back to the cave, as he walked around the cave it came to his attention that plan B, which was to dig a hole, wasn't going to work either..there simply wasn't any dirt to dig.
"Well, if there ain't no dirt here..I'll just have to get some," JD sighed.
He left the cave again, taking off his bowler, he filled it with the loose gravel then brought it into the cave and dumped it out carefully on the rock floor. He repeated the action four times until he felt confident enough that he could do what he had intended.
He pushed the gravel into a small tight circle, leaving only the middle of the circle bare. Then he added the twigs to it, then the dry grass, then a few more twigs. He patted himself down for matches, unfortunately not finding any..he then reached into his suit jacket pocket, that covered Vin, where he'd put the two flint stones in after Vin had 'tried' to show him how to start a fire.
JD began to hit the stones together, just like Vin had shown him while camping out; he did it in the same manner, holding the stones at just the right angle..within minutes, JD was blowing on the glowing embers on the grass and soon a fire was started.
"Don't go out, don't go out.." JD chanted as he watched the fire ignite the grass, then the twigs. JD added bigger and bigger pieces of wood and soon could feel the warmth of the fire hitting his very cold body.
He didn't realize he'd even been cold until that moment. He shrugged off his own discomfort to check on Vin again, he noticed the cut had stopped bleeding, but he was still so pale, and so still. JD reached under the jacket he'd placed over Vin and smiled that he felt warm..not the fever kind of warm, but the good kind of warm.
"Guess I got us in a fine mess, you was right..I don't listen to what I'm told..Chris said to wait..but I didn't..now instead of trying to rescue you..Chris's gotta find us and rescue both of us," JD laughed sardonically, "Guess I was only half right about there bein' a jinx, you was fine until I came along."
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