Buck searched Ezra's normal ‘haunts', coming up empty at every turn, he then decided he needed to search the town itself, he did so..starting with the Church and then everywhere in between. After the buildings were searched, Buck started asking the people that he ran into, finally someone pointed him to the livery.

Damn, shoulda thought of that right off, just hope his horse is still there and he ain't run off Buck thought as he quickly made his way to the livery.

"Ezra!" Buck yelled as he opened the door enough to get in.

"JD's fever still rising?" the gambler asked, Buck narrowed his eyes trying to see him; he finally caught him feeding Pup something.

"I dunno, been lookin for you since ya left, wanted to make sure ya' was alright," Buck said, making his way to where Ezra was feeding Pup an apple.

"Perfectly fine I assure you," Ezra said unconvincingly, slicing another chunk from the apple, then sticking his open palm at the horse.

"Ya' didn't look it, if ya don't mind my sayin'," Buck laughed out.

"Yes, well, the lad caught me ‘off guard'," Ezra smiled back.

Buck patted Pup on the neck, then chuckled, "You keep feeding her those apples, JD'll have your hide," the ladies man smiled.

"It's only been this one, I am well aware of Mr. Dunne's restrictions concerning his steeds ..culinary needs," the con man smiled.

"He don't pay no mind to what he eats, but Damn, you mess with her feed..he's liable to kill ya'," Buck smiled again, laughing out his statement.

Ezra nodded, then sighed heavily, a weight seemed to cover him suddenly.

"He shake ya up that bad?" Buck questioned, sitting on a bale of hay, leaning forward and putting his elbows on his knees.

"Yes..yes, I suppose he did," Ezra sighed, "I have never experienced anything like that, all I wanted to do.." Ezra faded.

"Ya just wanted to grab him and make it all go away," Buck nodded.

"That would describe my feelings perfectly," the gambler chuckled out.

"Nothin wrong with that, just means ya' got a heart," Buck smiled, standing and slapping the con man's shoulder.

"Good Lord..I was afraid of that," Ezra smiled.

"Come on, lets see how he's doin after we stop by and let Sweetser out of jail," Buck said.

+ + + + + + +

The two tired and disheveled men entered the jail, neither saying a word to Sweetser, as he began his rant on the injustice that had been done to him. His voice was raspy and gravelly, but still loud and Ezra found it more annoying than it had been earlier.

"You didn't kill him Ez? I'm proud of ya'..Hell I woulda shot him just to shut him up!" Buck said loudly, causing the large man to stop talking.

"What do you want now?" Alexander asked, his tone full of aggravation.

" would appear that Chris-ish has come early for you," Ezra stated seriously as he took the keys from the post, and unlocked the door.

"It'a bout time!" Alexander yelled into Ezra's face.

Ezra's face wrinkling as he was breathed on by the man, until he was pulled off suddenly and pushed up against the bars. Buck was nose to nose.

"Mister..I have been up for two nights thanks to you, I ain't eaten but once or twice..and I ain't had no lady company! I ain't in the no mood to hear you shoot your mouth off.. Now..I suggest you find that tired poor animal that carries your carcass around and get on it and ride the hell outta here.." Buck said, his jaw clenched tight.

"I suggest you take Mr. Wilmington's advice," Ezra offered, whispering loudly in the man's ear, "He gets..a little ‘testy' when he's been....‘deprived' of ‘companionship'," he smiled.

The large man nodded fast, Buck stepped back and let the man go, as he and Ezra followed the man out the jail house Buck was compelled to offer Ezra an observation.

"That man's breath could kill a cow," he sighed.

"I was thinking along the lines of half the cattle in Texas myself," Ezra smiled, stepping off the porch, heading for the clinic.

Buck followed, "Hey Ezra? Did you say Chris-ish?"

"Certainly speech isn't at all impeded..I said ChrisTmas," Ezra said, kicking himself mentally for even thinking of that foolish game.

+ + + + + + +

The two men walked into the clinic, both a bit leary at what they might find; JD's fever could have worsen, he could be in the throws of another nightmare, or he could be back to where he started with the painful muscle spasms. They each sighed when they saw him laying still on the bed, Chris and Josiah standing off to the side, Nathan and Vin standing there as well.

"How's he doin'," Buck asked quietly.

"Fever broke, he's been sleepin' for a while," Nathan smiled.

"What took ya' so long?" Chris asked.

"Ezra played hard to find, then we let Sweetser out," Buck offered his explanation.

"Good...Nate says JD'll be sleeping for a while..I think it'd be a good idea to get some sleep," the leader suggested.

"I got quite a bit of rest..why don't you all go and I'll stay with him," Josiah offered.

"Josi.." Vin began to turn the man down.

"Vin, you need to sleep. Josiah'll keep an eye on him," Nathan reprimanded.

"You sure he'll be asleep for a while?" Vin asked, not wanting JD to wake up without him there.

"Yeah, I'm sure," Nathan assured, still not 100% sure of that himself. He knew the fever was down, and most likely would be gone soon, but the cramping he wasn't sure of, and as for the nightmares..he knew that only time would heal that wound.

+ + + + + + +

Josiah stayed in the clinic, Nathan managed to crawl into his bed, shutting the rest of the world out as he slept. The others had tried to find a bed, or a place to sleep, but ‘duty' called as small disputes and wrong doings worked their way through the town, and as the only peace keepers present, Chris, Buck, Vin and Ezra we sought out for assistance.

Vin and Ezra were headed to the saloon after calming down Widow Frye, who was hysterically claiming a man had stolen her glasses, not knowing that they were on her head. Ezra, knowing the women was senile, carefully removed the glasses from her head, as Vin distracted her by asking for a description of the man who'd taken her glasses; he listened intensely as she described her dead husband to a tee, then Ezra suddenly exclaimed he'd found them under a table, the late Mr. Frye must have been playing a game with his living wife.

On there way to the saloon, they happened to notice the Wilson brothers, Samuel and Matthew, once again wrestling in the street. Ezra and Vin sighed, making there way over to where the two boys rolled on the street.

"Alright alright ALRIGHT!!!" Vin yelled, pulling Matthew off his brother by the back of his shirt.

"Not a wise thing to do," Ezra said, grabbing at Samuel who immediately lunged after his brother.

"Lemme go!!" Matthew screamed.

"Yeah..let him I can kick his a.." Samuel began to yell back, but Ezra quickly covered his mouth, hoping the curse hadn't been fully said.

"My dear boy..does your mother allow you to eat with that mouth?" Ezra asked.

"Leave our mother outta this..He's just mad cause he tripped and I told him I didn't give a shi.." Vin quickly covered the boys mouth as well.

"Matty..what did JD and I tell ya was gonna happen next time we caught ya' two fightin?" Vin asked, the boys eyes grew wide, and Vin removed his hand so Matthew could answer.

"You ain't gonna put us in jail are ya'?" Matthew asked.

"Ya'll shouldn't be fightin like this, I know it's been hard on ya since you lost your Pa..but you're family..and family's gotta stick together," Vin said, kneeling in front of the 10 year old.

"And what about your Mother?" Ezra asked, removing his hand from Samuel's mouth.

"She don't care..all she does is cry all the time," Samuel said harshly.

Vin looked around, he spotted Mrs. Wilson just outside of the door, her head hanging and shaking, with a handkerchief to her face.

"Ya' s'posse all that cryin's cause of your Pa? Or you think maybe its' cause ya'll're fighting all the time?" the tracker asked, turning Matthew to where his Mother stood.

Ezra motioned for one of the bystanders to approach; Frank White stood next to Ezra, the gambler leaned to the teen, whispered in his ear, the boy turned and ran to Mrs. Wilson. After Frank was done relaying the message, she nodded sternly to the two law men.

Vin tipped his hat to the woman and smiled. Then he turned to the young boy and knelt in front of him.

" and Sammy are gonna have to stay in town tonight," Vin said.

"What!" both boys exclaimed at once.

"Ezra," Vin said evenly, Ezra understood and began to guide Samuel towards the jail, Vin doing the same.

The boys were stunned, Frank kept a steady arm on the Widow Wilson as her boys sent her a pleading look that would rival any of JD's, she nearly broke and was about to say something, but Ezra lifted his hand to the women and smiled, letting her know that no harm would come to her boys, she nodded and and wept on Frank's shoulders.

The condemned youngsters were led up the stairs, looking back they saw the towns eyes upon them, Vin opened the door and the boys and Ezra were inside the jail house. Ezra, still escorting Samuel, grabbed the keys from there spot and opened the cell. Vin brought his prisoner to stand next to his accomplice.

"In ya' go," Vin said quietly, the boys complied taking two steps. Ezra closed the door, inserted the key and turned, causing the remaining keys to jingle. The boys turned at the same time, Matthew hung his head as tears fell hitting the floor, Samuel grabbed onto the bars looking pleadingly at the two men.

Ezra returned the keys to the peg, then walked to the desk, sat, pulled out a piece of paper and a pencil.

"Mr. Tanner," Ezra said expectantly.

"Matthew Wilson, age 10, ‘bout...4 foot 5, disturbin' the peace. Samuel Wilson, age 11, 4 foot 9, charge is the same," Vin said, walking in front of the two boys.

"Mister Vin, sir...we ..'rested?" Samuel asked.

"Yeah, are," Vin nodded regretfully.

"And the punishment?" Ezra asked from the desk.

"The maximum," Vin sighed, shaking his head as he walked away from the cell, not because he had anywhere to go, the looks the two boys had on there faces were getting to him.

The two boys looked at each other, all looked like it was going to go well, until Samuel ruined it.

"It was his fault!" he pointed a finger to Matthew.

"Was not!!" Matthew cried.

A soft knock at the door alerted Vin, he went to the door and stepped out, he saw Frank with a bucket of water.

"Mr. Standish asked for it," Frank explained.

"Thanks," Vin smiled, giving Frank a sliver coin.

Vin went back into the jail with the bucket and the two scrub brushes, he set them down at the desk, waiting for Ezra.

"I see we are ready," Ezra sighed, Vin acknowledge then both headed for the cell that held the two ‘criminals'.

Vin unlocked the door, put the bucket next to the cot, then walked out.

"This is your sentence, you will clean this cell, floors walls, bars. The linen and blankets on the cot need to be changed, when you have accomplished this, you will do the same to the other," Ezra revealed, putting two sets of sheets and blankets on a small table in between the two cells.

"Is that understood?" the gambler asked.

"Which one of us is supposed to wash what and change the cots?" Matthew asked.

"That's up for ya' both to figure out," Vin said, crossing his arms.

"We get out tomorrow?" Samuel asked hopefully.

"You get out when your task is done," Ezra said, "You will be fed for as long as you stay," the gambler added with a smile.

"See what you done Matty!" Samuel started.

"I suggest you stop the arguing and get on with the work at hand, Mr. Tanner and the others will be checking in on you periodically. Now, if you don't mind, we have a friend to check on," the con man said; he and Vin turned, and left the two stunned brothers alone in the cell.


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