"Where is everyone?" JD asked quietly, his eyes searching the room.

"Nathan talked Buck into getting some breakfast, the one Nate brought up got cold," Vin smiled, moving to sit on the floor next to JD, it made it easier for JD to see him and not make him have to turn his head so much.

"Sorry," JD apologized, knowing that if he hadn't had another 'attack'= , the others would have been able to eat.

"No need of ya' apologizin' for somethin' ya' can't help JD," Vin stated.

"What about Chris?" he asked, ignoring the fact Vin had tried to point out to JD the fact that he didn't have any control over his body...something he already knew.

"Went to the jail, had to let Sweetser and the others go," Vin shared.

"Let them go! They'll just come after ya' again!" JD said forcefully, as he tried to push himself up, all it did was remind him of why he was in bed to begin with, "Dammit," he said quietly.

"Nathan told ya' not to try an' move," Vin reminded, "'Sides, Ezra took care of that," Vin smiled.

"Ahh, Mr. Dunne, it's good to see you awake and alert!" Ezra greeted as he, Josiah and Chris entered the clinic.

"Whatever. Chris, Vin said you let them bounty hunters go!" JD added, his tone letting Chris and the others know that he wasn't happy with this .

"Only two of them, Sweetser's still there, came to tell Buck to let him out," Chris said, looking to the tracker, wondering where Buck was.

"The hotel, gettin breakfast,"Vin answered the unasked question.

"Sweetser's gonna come after Vin soon's he's out Chris," JD interrupted, wanting a reason for what he'd done.

"No, no, no, my dear boy, you have nothing to fear, you see...the rumors of Mr. Tanner's guilt, and subsequent bounty, have been grossly over estimated," Ezra stated with a smile, knowing it would bring a smile to JD, he was wrong.

"Jesus Ezra..for once in your life could ya' just talk plain English!" JD let out sharply, not in the mood to try and figure out what the gambler had said.

Ezra's smile quickly left as he seemed to step back a bit, this had been a game for him and JD, usually JD would get a few clues to what Ezra would say then eventually figure it out; JD obviously wasn't in the mood, Ezra waited for the apology that he and the others knew would follow, they didn't get it.

"Sorry Mr. Du...JD," Ezra found himself apologizing, "I created a pardon for Vin, then aged the docu...paper, and let Sweetser exa...look at it, he believed the paper to be," Ezra reworded and edited his statement.

" ain't all that hard now is it," JD pointed out with a sarcastic tongue, not reacting at all to 'what' Ezra was saying, just how he'd said it.

"On the contrary, you have no idea how hard," Ezra sighed, then stepped to go to the door, "I do hope you feel better," Ezra said turning his head over his shoulder, then left the clinic.

Chris was just about to give JD a small piece of his 'fatherly' mind, but the restraining hand from Josiah and the look he got from Vin told him not too.

"JD, I need to...well..I gotta go out for a few mind?" Vin said, making it appear he needed to 'relieve' himself.

"Not like I'm goin nowhere," JD sighed, turning his head to the wall.

"I'll talk to Ezra," Vin whispered as he passed the two men.

+ + + + + + +

Vin figured he would head to the saloon to talk to Ezra, he was surprised that the gambler hadn't left the clinic, but was leaning against the balcony railing, his hands folded, watching as the two former 'guests' left town.

"Didn't mean nothing by what he said Ezra," Vin said as he joined and then aped the gambler.

"I know," Ezra smiled, "The lad has had to deal with pain that most have only had to experience slightly, I honestly can't imagine what he is having to deal with," Ezra continued, they had all suffered cramping in their legs from a long ride, in their backs from straining them, but never a whole body full of them.

"He was doing okay till this morning, he was having them in his legs on and off..but this mornin.." Vin sighed.

"I heard," Ezra said hanging his head, remembering the painful cry he'd heard that ruined his breakfast.

"He's just real sore from all the crampin' he can barely move and even that ain't much cause it hurts..he don't say it does..but I can tell," Vin continued to explain, feeling he needed to.

"Mr. Tanner, there is no reason for you to defend your brother to me, I honestly understand," Ezra said, knowing that the tracker was usually quiet about things like this, basically figuring that if someone had a problem with what someone said when they were was pretty much that persons problem, not the one who was hurt or sick.

"I guess, but I know how much it hurts when he says stuff like that, he's snapped at all of us. Told Buck he was too old and oughtta settle down when he tried to get JD to smile by tellin him a story bout them twins..or triplets..or however many there was; he told Nathan where to put that tea of his," Vin smiled.

"Did our surrogate doctor follow that wonderful suggestion?" Ezra smiled.

"Nope," Vin shook his head, "Even told Chris to shut up last night," Vin said seriously. That had been the only thing that JD had said that night that concerned him, he knew JD would never speak to Chris in the tone he had..or say what he said under any circumstance.

"Dear Lord, I thought his fever was gone?" Ezra said, knowing exactly what Vin did.

"It was, it started coming back early this morning, Nathan seems to think that's why he started cramping back up like he did," Vin said, the worry present.

"Well, I would say Mr. Dunne has nothing to worry about, you two are definitely brothers," Ezra sighed out.

"What makes ya' say that?" Vin questioned.

"Neither of you can seem to do anything the easy way," Ezra smiled.

Vin smiled slapping Ezra on the back, they both shook their heads as they both shared fond memories of fevers and gunshots and how the brothers seemed to act alike even before they found out they were bonded with blood.

"Ezra, get Nathan," Josiah said, his tone shaky and serious, something that neither one had ever heard the calm preacher sound like.

"Josiah.." Vin said, worry and dread filling him instantly, something was seriously wrong.

"NATHAN!!" Ezra yelled from the top step, he was heading to go to the hotel, but he saw Buck and Nathan approaching so instead yelled.

Nathan and Buck never stopped, they went from a walk to a dead run.

Ezra stepped into the clinic to let the others know Nathan and Buck would be there momentarily but stopped at the scene that played out before him. Vin was frozen to the ground, Josiah behind him and Chris was attempting to keep JD from falling off the bed.

"What happ..." Nathan started, then stopped instantly. He went to the bedside and touched JD's forehead when it was still enough to do so.

"Nathan..what's wrong with him!" Vin found his voice finally, Josiah now held him back and Ezra moved to stand somewhat in front of him, just in case Vin broke his grip.

"Fever's real bad," Nathan said, looking at the young man who had spent most of the night wanting to move something, anything, now sitting in bed fighting Chris with everything he had to get out of the bed.

"You need to help him!" JD screamed, looking Chris in the eye..his own were wide and full of terror, his hands clenched tight around Chris's upper arms.

"Who, JD?" Nathan asked.

"Please mister!" JD cried out again.

" it Patrick?" Chris asked, he had a feeling JD wasn't aware of where or 'when' he was, being called 'mister' verified it.

"I know we weren't suppose to go out..Please! He's just layin' out there..It's all my fault..please ya' gotta help him.." JD pleaded, his voice growing soft and almost inaudible.

"Who's Patrick?" Nathan asked, looking to Vin.

Vin shrugged his shoulders, "Chris?" he asked.

"Don't worry about Patrick, JD," Chris said, not really knowing what else to say, "You need to lay back down..get some're sick son," Chris soothed, he felt him relax as he grew heavy in Chris's grip, JD's eyes rolled and his eyes closed, and Chris lay him back down into the bed.

Nathan took a cloth from the table where the wash basin was, he began to wipe JD's brow with cold water, wiping away the sweat from the too hot, flush face. Chris stood and walked to where the rest of the men were standing.

"Patrick?" Vin asked, reminding Chris he hadn't given him an answer.

"A friend of his, Patrick, was killed by lightning," Chris said in a morbid tone.

"Certainly a memory as that would have faded by now," Ezra stated, a feeling that there was more to the story than just a friend being killed.

"Not when you're 13 and you're right next to him," Chris sighed.

"Dear God," Ezra gasped quietly.

"That's why he didn't want to come outta that cave," Buck nodded with understanding.

Vin made his way to the opposite side of the bed where Nathan was diligently trying to cool JD off. Vin grabbed another of the cloths and began following Nathan's motion on JD's chest. JD's head tossed mumbling words that weren't understood except for one..Patrick, his eyes closed.

"Josiah, go let that piece of dirt out," Chris said quietly, knowing that it was going to be a long day, possibly night and he simply wouldn't want to deal with the man later.

"Perhaps I could assist, then bring back perhaps," Ezra asked, also knowing what lay ahead; there would be the usual game of trying to convince each other the other needed to get some sleep and the other would say they weren't tired.

Chris was about to nod his answer, but JD found renewed strength when he heard Ezra, faster then anyone thought possible, JD bounded from the bed and ran to Ezra; he grabbed at the gamblers lapels, tears running down his face. Ezra was shocked, he had never been approached in such a manner, nor had he ever seen JD so...distraught.

"I'm sorry Mr. Reiley, I didn't mean for Patrick to die!! I'm real sorry..please..please..I don't know why it left me alone.." JD trailed off, his head hanging.

Ezra being Ezra, although shaken at first, recovered quickly, he was just about to reply to JD that he, 'Mr. Reiley', didn't blame JD in anyway, shape or form, but JD simply went limp with his last words.

"This is not going to help that muscle problem, Mr. Dunne," the southerner grunted out as he caught JD and lay him gently to the floor. Chris helped Ezra lift JD back into the bed, easing him down gently, as he mumbled incoherently.

Vin and Nathan began applying the cool clothes as soon as JD was on the bed, Chris pulled up a chair and sat next to the bed, just in case JD attempted to get off the bed again.

Ezra stepped back, his eyes a bit wider than usual, trying to shake off the uneasy feeling that was trying to over take him. He had collected himself when JD had approached him, but he didn't need to be strong at the moment, no front was needed to calm JD, no character needed to be acted out. Ezra continued to step back, jumping when he'd hit Bucks shoulder.

"You okay Ezra?" Buck asked, noticing the way the gambler looked.

"Mr. am not," Ezra said simply, then turned and left the clinic.

Chris had heard the exchange between the two, Ezra was shaken by what was said, why he didn't know, but Ezra had confirmed that he was taken aback and that had never happened; not willingly anyway.

"Buck," Chris said evenly.

"I'm on it," Buck replied, knowing what his friend was asking, he then turned and followed the gambler out the door.


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