Buck poked at the dying embers of the fire with a stick,a few sparks drifted upward, and the fire blazed up once again. Crouched before him, in front of the fire, sat the two youngest of the seven. As different as night and day. One dark haired and dark eyed, the other light haired and blue eyed. One overly talkative, unsure of his place, hardly stopped to take a breath. The other way too quiet, confident of his abilities, rarely said a complete sentence. One was impulsive, reacted first and then thought. The other was reserved, and always acted after thoughtful consideration. Separated in age by only a few years, life experiences had made their ages seem much more distant. But one thing was common, both were motherless,and both boys had been shaped by those lost women to become the men before him now.
"Buck, what was your mother's name?"
J.D. cleared his throat.
"I said, 'What was your mother's name?', mine was named Josephine....."
Buck was tired and sometimes the kid could be so annoying.
"MaryLou, her name was Mary Lou.....Say, Vin... tell J.D. here what your ma's name was, he's keeping track."
One word came from the shadows.
J.D. chortled, thinking that Vin was teasing. But one look at Vin's eyes, and Buck knew this was no joke. Buck remembered hearing that Vin's mother had died when he was very young. Of course, that's all Vin knew her as. J.D. caught Buck's glare, and instantly quieted, he didn't want to laugh at Vin, Vin was always fair with him.
"So Buck, what was your mother like?"
"J.D. WHY?? What difference does it make??"
Didn't this kid ever know when to shut up?
Looking into the stricken eyes, Buck regretted the harshness of his tone. Rubbing a tired hand across the back of his neck, he began.
"Well, kid, I'll tell ya....she was a lively one. She'd set our town right on it's ear if she was here. That little vein in the middle of Mrs. Travis' forehead, it'd prob'ly throb as much as it did when Lydia was in town. Real dark haired beauty, could swear and hold her liquor as well as any man. And I might add, she had a right nice figure too......"
"BUCK! She was your mother!"
J.D. was appalled.
How could Buck talk that way about his own mother?
"J.D. she was a working girl. I done told you that. I don't try to hide it. And I certainly do respect her memory. I wouldn't be who I am now, if she wasn't my ma..."
"Vin, what about you? What was your mother like?"
"J.D.," Buck sighed.
Oh lord, the kid really didn't know when to keep his damn mouth shut.
Looking up from under the brim of his hat, Vin's sad blue eyes met Buck's.
"I was just a kid when she died J.D. But she was real pretty, I do remember that. And when she laughed, her whole face lit up. Sometimes, when I close my eyes, I think I can still hear her laughin'. She did that a lot. Said you sometimes have to laugh to forget your reasons to cry," Vin sighed and continued, "I know everyone figures I don't have no pa, but I did. He died 'fore I was born. She never stopped lovin' him. Talked about him all the time, so much, I used ta think he was just away.Said he was a lawman. Don't know if he was a sheriff, a marshall, or a ranger. She never did say, just that he was shot in the back."
"Vin you just gotta go back to the town you're from. Someone there can tell you what he did, what your ma's name was too...."J.D. interuppted.
"J.D.," Vin sighed, "I can't go back to the town I'm from, I don't know where that is, I don't know my ma's name, and I don't know my father's name. Ain't got no place to call home. All I know is she told me to remember I was a Tanner."
"What's that mean, 'Remember you're a Tanner'?".
Vin bit his lip, and gave a small of his head before responding.
"I guess she wanted me to make her proud. Live up to being my father's son. Stand up for what's right and own up when I'm wrong, no matter what."
J.D. stared dejectedly into the fire, poking at the embers.
"I know. I ask too many questions. It's just that sometimes I miss my ma so much... sometimes makes me feel better to talk about other people's ma's. My ma was always working, always tired, always sick. Don't remember her ever laughing. All I remember her telling me was that it was better someplace else, that's why I came west."
Hearing J.D.'s words, Buck felt sad. He'd never realized the kid had such a sad childhood. In a few short years, Vin's mother had molded the boy to become one of the men that he, for one, was proud to ride beside. J.D. was just now learning from those very men.
"Being a Tanner, is that why you stood up to all those cowhands with Chris to save Nathan? You were so outnumbered."
Vin stopped from where he was spreading his bedroll and hesitated.
"I guess so, I know it was kinda foolhardy. Just seemed right at the time...."
Slapping Vin on the back, Buck added, "Well pard, I know for a fact, Nathan's sure glad ya did!"
A melancholy mood had descended on the little campsite. J.D. and Vin were both lost in memories.
"Well boys, we got a long day's ride ahead if we want to get back to town tomorrow night. Best we be calling it a night."
J.D. burst out laughing. Buck looked over to where the quiet tracker had already stretched out. Leave it to Vin to lighten the mood with just two words and make the kid laugh.
"What was that???"
"Just a cougar, J.D.," Vin sighed and turned over, "now go to sleep."
"JUST a cougar???? He sounds awful close...."
"He is close, he's hungry, but the fire will keep him away for tonight." Vin yawned. "Now go on back to sleep 'fore you wake ol' Buck up. Man his age, you know how cranky he can get if'n he don't get enough sleep."
J.D. clamped a hand over his mouth and choked back a laugh. Lifting his head and opening one eye,Buck looked over at Vin.
"You will pay for that boy."
"Oh, I'm sure I will Bucklin, I'm sure I will."
The sun was breaking over the horizon as the three men started to stir. Buck stretched, sat up and yawned while scratching his head. He glanced over and saw that Vin was already up and moving about. Vin nudged J.D. with the toe of his boot.
"Hey, J.D., come on, time to get movin'."
Buck shook his head and chuckled.
"Vin, the way you're hopping around over there, a man would think you had too much water to drink last night. Now if you're heading out for what I think you are, bring those canteens with you. And make sure you fill mine with water this time. Be careful, don't forget that cougar's still out there and still hungry."
Turning around, Vin raised his eyebrows, grinned at Buck, and saluted him sarcastically as he walked off.
As Vin finished buttoning his pants, he sensed that he was being watched. Without moving a muscle, he looked up and saw the cougar on a rock, staring down at him.
Shit, had so much water last night, I jumped up to take care of this business without thinking. Don't have my gun, damn, don't even have my knife.....just three friggin' canteens .... stupid....stupid...stupid ......I know better.........
Without taking his eyes off the animal, Vin took a deep breath and swallowed slowly. Before he could exhale, the cougar swiped at his face and knocked him to the ground. Trapped under the weight of the animal, he struggled to escape. Seeing the beast's open jaw aimed towards his neck, he instinctively threw his left arm up to block it and howled in pain when the animal clamped down and started tearing at his flesh. Making a fist with his right hand, he started pummeling the animal's head with all his strength, crying out when he felt the bones in his arm snap. Pounding, kicking, rolling, he fought with all he had. The few moments that had passed felt like hours and Vin was already tiring.
At the campsite, Buck's head snapped up when he heard Vin's anguished cry. His mouth went dry and his heart raced and felt as if it would burst from his chest. J.D. froze and looked at Buck. Utter fear was etched on his face.
"Vin...." died on his lips as he started to hyperventilate.
"J.D.! Come on! Vin's in trouble!"
Buck took off running towards the sounds of the struggle. J.D. grabbed his rifle and followed him. Coming upon the clearing, both men stopped and stared at the horror before them.
"Oh, God, Buck...."
"I know, J.D., we gotta help him."
Before them, Vin was engaged in a desperate struggle for survival.
"J.D. you stand there and you shoot that cougar. You shoot to kill him. You don't fire 'til you have a clear shot. You hear me? DO YOU HEAR ME KID??" Buck demanded.
J.D. nodded, swallowed, and nodded again absently.
"I don't know if I can, Buck," he said quietly.
"This is Vin, J.D. We gotta help him. You do what you can!"
Buck looked at the scene before him. That son of a bitch is gonna kill Vin. Taking a deep breath, he wiped the sweat from his eyes, took aim and fired. Two shots fired simultaneously. When the dust settled two still figures lay on the ground.
"Oh my God, Vin!"
Buck raced to Vin's side. J.D. stood, frozen where he was, in shock.
I shot Vin! I thought I had a clear shot, but he moved and I shot him! Remembering the bullet as it ripped into Vin's right shoulder, J.D. retched. He turned and lost the contents of his stomach.Oh God, I killed Vin.....
"Vin, I'm sorry, please don't you die on me boy," Buck muttered as he anxiously felt for a pulse. He held his breath as he felt one, a weak one, but thank God, he's alive.
"J.D.! Get over here! I've shot Vin!, Buck bellowed.
Buck shot him? I thought I did..... Vin's shot...gotta go help him...
"J.D.! MOVE IT! NOW!"
J.D. stumbled over to Buck. Gesturing towards the cougar, Buck ordered,
"You make sure that bastard's dead. Then you go break up camp and bring the horses back here. Make sure those canteens are filled. Go! Now!"
J.D. gulped as he nodded. He stepped over to the still animal, raised his rifle, and put a bullet between the dead, staring eyes. Buck pulled off his shirt and pressed it against Vin's back, trying to slow the bleeding. With a gasp, Vin opened his eyes and moved, trying to get out of Buck's hold.
"Hey, hey, take it easy pard...." Buck murmured. "I'm sorry, I shot ya Vin. But J.D. he got that damn cougar. You're gonna be okay. Just gotta stop this here bleeding and get ya back ta Nathan. He'll have ya fixed up in no time."
Vin looked up at Buck with sad, pain filled eyes.
"Buck, it hurts so bad....."
Buck could barely hear the pain racked whisper. He'd never seen Vin hurt before,hell, he'd never even seen Vin looking scared. As Vin squeezed his eyes shut,one single tear rolled down his sweat stained face, the salt stinging the claw marks on his cheek.
"I know, I know..." Buck soothed, "just take it easy, gonna get ya cleaned up a little and back home."
"Oh, Buck, he sure looks awful."
"J.D. I KNOW what he looks like."
Vin winced. Buck was sorry he was losing his patience. This isn't the kid's fault. I'm to blame.
"Get me some clean shirts out of my saddle bags."
Buck quickly tore up a shirt and cleaned and splinted Vin's left arm, wincing as he touched the mangled flesh. Buck put his ear closer to Vin's mouth, trying to hear the mumbled whispering.
"Sorry, I'm sorry.... so stupid....... know better......"
"Shh, Vin.... Shh.... it's okay..... you did nothing to be sorry for.... ol' Buck here's gonna take care of you...."
Buck gently cleaned the wound on Vin's back and wrapped it tightly, trying to stop the bleeding. Taking a bandana, he made a sling and carefully placed Vin's left arm into it. Taking another strip of cloth, he wet it, and gently tried to wash the dirt from the claw marks on Vin's cheek. He stopped when Vin gasped and tried to move his head away.
J.D. stood, staring, his mouth open in shock. Staring at two men he thought of as brothers. Buck shot Vin?
"J.D., J.D. come on over here and hold on to Vin."
Buck was standing, holding a swaying Vin close to him.
"I'm gonna get on my horse and pull him up in front of me. There ain't no way he can sit on a horse by himself."
Buck swung up, on to his saddle, and moved over to where J.D. was struggling to support Vin. Leaning down, Buck reached under Vin's arms and hoisted him up from behind.
"J.D., push his leg up over the saddle," Buck grunted.
Vin moaned, drew in a pained breath, and collapsed against Buck, unconscious. Buck tasted blood as Vin's head fell back and hit his mouth. Moving Vin's head so that it rested against his shoulder, Buck reached around Vin and took the reins.
"Okay J.D., now you get Vin's horse. We'd best get going if we hope to make it back to town tonight."
"Buck, we can't go that fast with Vin now... he can't...."
"J.D. We ain't stopping for nothin'. We're riding straight through, We WILL make it back to town tonight. Vin needs more help than I can give him. He can't stay out here any longer than necessary."
Nodding grimly at J.D., he quietly ordered, "Let's ride."
The heat of the noon sun bore down on the three riders. Buck stopped his horse, removed his hat and wiped his face with his bandana. J.D. hadn't said a word since they'd started riding. Buck looked over at J.D. Is this what it takes to get him to shut up??
Vin had awakened only a few times, mumbling incoherently.
"J.D. pass me over one of them canteens. I gotta get some water into Vin. Vin,.... Vin, come on son, open your eyes."
Buck gently stroked Vin's head, pushing back the damp hair curling on his forehead.
"Here ya go..... take a little sip....... that's it....... good boy.... just a little more...."
"Buck? Help me please..... I'm sorry...... I'm hurt..... my fault..."
Vin coughed as he felt the bile rising in his throat.
"Oh, no, Buck....." he groaned, "I think I'm gonna be sick....."
Vin lurched forward in the saddle. Buck slid down, pulling Vin with him. As Vin knelt, leaning forward, Buck held a hand to his forehead. Spasms racked his stomach until he was left with only dry heaves. Breathing heavily, he gasped, "I'm sorry...."
Buck put his head to Vin's and rubbed his back.
"Vin, shh.... it's okay.... you did nothing.... nothing to be sorry 'bout," Buck's voice caught as he said the words. Looking up, he saw J.D. standing, staring. Clearing his throat, he gestured to J.D.
"Come on, help me get Vin back up on the horse."
As the sun was starting to set, they were still hours away from town. Buck pulled his horse to a halt. Buck leaned Vin forward, and gently pulled his shirt back off his shoulder.
"Jesus, Buck....you're covered in blood!" J.D. exclaimed.
Buck looked down and sadly noted that J.D. was right. Vin had not stopped bleeding. Not only was the back of his shirt covered in blood, but the front of Buck's shirt and pants were also.
"Pass me another shirt."
Buck folded the clean shirt and replaced the bloody one from Vin's dressing. Pressing as hard as he dared, he heard Vin's strangled moan.
"ughh..... no more....... please....... I'm sorry......."
His eyes brimming with tears, Buck bit his lip as he looked up to the sky. Please Lord, don't let him die, not out here, not like this...... Pulling Vin back, he adjusted him until his head was once again resting on his shoulder.
Seeing the street fires in the distance, Buck turned to J.D.
"J.D. you ride on up ahead."
"Buck, I..I don't wanta leave you....." J.D. stammered.
"Now you listen to me J.D., I've been holding on to Vin like this all day. I'm gonna need help getting him down. He's done hurt enough.... I don't want him fallin' off. Now you GO!"
J.D. saw the look on Buck's face and knew enough to say no more.
Nudging the sides of his horse, he headed for the town at a full gallop.
Ezra Standish was pleased with himself. He'd just won another poker game. Soon, he'd have enough to buy the saloon. Taking his watch out, he noted the time. Wilmington and the others should be back any time, they were overdue. They'd have money in their pockets. After spending the last few days with nothing but the faces of Vin and J.D. to look at,Buck would be distracted looking around and easy to beat. And J.D.? Gullible J.D., it almost seemed wrong to take his money. But if someone was going to, it may as well be him. Vin was the only one he was unsure about. He'd look at Ezra with those piercing blue eyes and grin. He'd wink, throw in a few coins and slowly drawl out, "Your call Ezra..." He couldn't read Vin, he didn't dare try to pull a con on him. Mister Tanner kept him honest. Maude would be mortified. Ezra was startled from his reverie when J.D. rode up, yelling.
"Ezra! Ezra! Where's Nathan???"
J.D. jumped down from his horse, breathless.
"Mr. Dunne, Mr. Dunne, calm down. Surely you haven't forgotten where Mister Jackson lives?"
Looking around, he noticed that J.D. had ridden in alone.
"Where are Mister Wilmington and Mister Tanner? You didn't talk them to death, now did you?"
"Buck..... Vin......" J.D. was gasping, "hurt.... gotta get Nathan...."
"Ezra? What the hell's the commotion out here?"
The quiet voice of Chris Larabee stepped out of the saloon into the shadows.
"Mr. Larabee, near as I can ascertain, the boy here's trying to tell us some injury has befallen our compatriots."
Chris' jaw set as his head snapped to attention and he glared at Ezra.
"WHAT? Ezra, go get Nathan, he's up in his room. Josiah! Get out here!" Chris yelled behind him into the saloon.
Chris grabbed J.D.'s elbows and locked him in his gaze.
"J.D.? J.D.! Look at me! WHERE are Buck and Vin?"
"Coming.... coming behind me...... he's hurt real bad Chris....."
J.D. gulped for air. Chris looked up from J.D. and saw Buck's horse as it came into town. When he stopped in front of them, Chris saw that Vin was on Buck's horse. Josiah reached up and Vin tumbled into his arms with a gasp.
"It's okay Vin. You're home now... I've got you," Josiah murmured as he deftly carried Vin up the stairs to Nathan's clinic. Ezra ran ahead and took the stairs two at a time to go open the door. Chris looked up at Nathan's clinic and back at Buck , he reached up.
"You're hurt too. Let me help you down."
Buck looked down at his blood stained clothes.
"No I'm not. This is Vin's blood."
He slowly moved his stiff joints out of the saddle. Chris put his hands on his hips, looked up at the lights in Nathan's window and frowned. He turned back to Buck and glared.
"What the hell happened?" he demanded.
"I shot him Chris."
Chris' nostrils flared and his voice took on a deadly tone as he grabbed the front of Buck's shirt.
"Cougar had him Chris. Thought I had a clear shot, but I hit him.... I'm sorry..."
Buck looked down and back up into Chris' eyes. Chris let go of Buck's shirt and started towards Nathan's clinic. Without warning, he turned around and grabbed Buck again. He drew back his arm and punched Buck in the jaw with enough force to send him to the ground, unconscious. Standing in the shadows, holding the horses, J.D. just stared, speechless and stunned. Buck shot Vin?
Chris stormed into Nathan's room. Josiah and Ezra stood on either side of Vin, removing his clothes and cleaning him as best they could. Nathan stood at his basin, washing his hands.
"Nathan? How bad?"
Nathan slowly dried his hands as he turned to meet the glare of Chris Larabee. This man did not scare him. No white man did anymore. He owed his life to that boy on the bed. Chris Larabee did not intimidate him.
"Boy's in a bad way, Chris." Nathan shook his head as he continued drying his hands. Can tell he's lost a lot of blood. Bullet looks like it's in deep, in the bone. Gotta set that arm...it's broken. Those bite marks are already starting to look infected. Been mumbling since we brought him in, not in his right mind.... keeps saying he's sorry, .... something about being stupid and knowing better.... thinks he's still on that damn horse with Buck...."
Chris looked at Vin and back at Nathan. He turned around and went back out the door, slamming it behind him. Stopping on the porch, he grabbed the railing and leaned forward looking out at the town.
How the hell did Buck manage to shoot Vin?
Inside, the clinic, Ezra, rolled up his sleeves while looking at Nathan and Josiah.
"Well, gentlemen, it looks like we have a long night ahead......"
Nathan looked at Vin lying on the table. So much hurt, where do I begin? Josiah and Ezra looked at him expectantly, waiting for direction. Nathan licked his lips.
"That bullet looks like it's gonna be hard comin' out, better take care of the arm first."
"As you say, Mr. Jackson."
"Josiah, sit Vin up. Need to give him a little laudanum. He's had enough pain already, don't need to make suffer any more.... Easy now... watch that shoulder...."
Josiah sat on the table by Vin and gently pulled him into his arms, cradling his head. He'd had many quiet conversations with Vin. He probably knew and understood Vin better than Vin himself. How does a person with a soul as old as yours, look so young and innocent? Please Lord, spare this child. If You take him now, more lives will be ruined. Only You know what really happened today
"As Thy will be done...." Josiah whispered.
"Mr. Sanchez, did you say something?"
"No, Brother Standish, just offering a prayer for our young brother."
Ezra raised an eyebrow and looked at Josiah. He needs more than prayers now, preacher, the odds are not in his favor.
Nathan came over with a glass and a bottle of laudanum. He poured a small amount into the glass. Tapping the side of Vin's face gently, he tried to arouse him.
"Vin, .... come on Vin.... wake up now..... you need to take some of this medicine....."
Vin moved his head and struggled in Josiah's arms. He hid his head in Josiah's chest and awkwardly raised his splintered arm to his face.
"No!" he sobbed," No, please, leave me be...... I'm sorry... my fault...... don't make me..... sick....."
Josiah held on to Vin, raised his eyes and met Ezra's grim expression.
"Mr. Jackson, it does not appear that he is going to willingly take the pain medication you offer."
Nathan took hold of Vin's jaw and attempted to pour some of the liquid into Vin's mouth.
"Come on Vin, it's for your own good."
Vin coughed and sputtered. He still had enough fight left to resist.
"No...." he pleaded.
No one noticed the door open. No one saw the quiet figure framed by the lamplight.
"What is going on???"
Nathan was frustrated. He walked away from Vin, shaking his head. He ran a hand over his hair.
"Mr. Larabee, we were trying to cajole Mr. Tanner into taking some medication for the pain."
Nathan looked at Chris.
"He's not thinking clear, Chris."
"But clear enough to know that when he says, 'no', he means, 'no'," Josiah added quietly.
Chris walked over to Vin. He took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. shit He took Vin's face in his hands.
"Vin, look at me, ..... come on now, no one's gonna hurt ya.... look at me."
Vin raised dull, pain glazed eyes to Chris. His brow creased in momentary confusion and he sighed.
"Vin, you need to take this medicine," Chris stated slowly and evenly. Vin started to shake his head.
"Oh, no..... I'm sorry..... no please...."
Chris placed one hand on top of Vin's head and started calmly stroking Vin's damp hair.
"I know, you're feeling like shit right about now. Don't think we got anything to make you feel better. Want us all to just go ta hell and leave ya alone. But can't do it cowboy. You need help. Don't be sorry. You're hurt, you need us. You need to take this. You're hurtin' bad now, only gonna get worse....."
Vin closed his eyes and gulped. He sighed and started to shake his head.
"I know... I know...." Chris continued to soothe. "You're afraid this stuff is gonna make ya sick. You get sick, we'll clean it up. Simple as that. But I need you to take this now. If you won't do it for yourself, do it for me......"
Vin opened his eyes and looked at Chris again. He trusted Chris, he'd do anything for him. He quietly mumbled, "I'm sorry....."
A small smile came to Chris' lips. His hand rested on the back of Vin's neck.
"I know ya are pard.... now come on take some of this.... that's it.... nice and slow....."
Vin drained the contents of the glass followed by a little water.
Josiah gently placed him back on the table. Nathan brought some water, bandages and splints over to Vin's side.
"Just need to give that laudanum a chance to start working. Then I'll need help from y'all getting this arm set."
Vin groaned, and attempted to sit up. The room was spinning and his stomach was churning.
"Josiah, quick, help me get him turned on his side...."
Nathan held a basin by Vin's head until the painful retching subsided. Josiah stood at his back, gently rubbing it. Vin coughed and gasped for air. Chris Larabee stood with his hands on his hips, seething.
Sure Vin, trust me.... do like I ask..... take some of this damn medicine.... puke your insides out.... feel worse than you do already.
J.D. slowly climbed the clinic stairs. Was it just last night that Vin was teasing about Buck's age? Seemed like such a long time ago. Buck sat alone in the dim light cast by the lamps in the windows. He looked up as J.D. approached. Damn it J.D., do you have to look at me with those puppy dog eyes? I damn near killed Vin, not you...
"Get the horses settled?"
J.D. nodded nervously, not knowing what to say.
"I ..uh... gave some extra feed to yours." J.D. cleared his throat, "seemed like... seemed like he earned it today."
J.D. swallowed and looked out at the town. He felt Buck's gaze and was afraid to meet it.
"Chris sure was angry..... looked like he coulda killed you..."
"He was angry, but he won't kill me, you got no need to worry 'bout that."
How do you know that Buck? You just told him you shot Vin. Sure looked like he could kill you to me...
Buck leaned forward tiredly, every bone and joint was tight with worry. He rested his elbows on his knees and began examining his fingers. The air was heavy with tension.
"Chris was just upset about Vin being hurt, is all. He don't like seeing people he cares about that way. Guess he sees something in Vin that needs watching over....."
"Like you do with me?" J.D. interrupted.
J.D. chuckled, looked sideways over at the kid and raised his eyebrows.
"Not quite J.D. I'd say Chris has it a might easier. Vin knows better than to wear a damn, silly hat like that."
Silence hung over the two, time seemed to stall.
"Buck? Is Vin gonna die?"
Buck could barely hear the whisper, but there was no missing the fear behind those five words.
"I don't know, J.D. , I just don't know. Not if Nathan can help it. He's hurt pretty bad, you saw that, but he's strong. Sitting out here, it sounds like he's still got some fight in him."
J.D. removed his hat and nervously turned it in his hands, playing with the brim.
"Well, uh, what do we do now? Shouldn't we..... shouldn't we be in there, helping?"
Buck put his hand on J.D.'s shoulder.
"Enough bodies in there now. We just sit here and wait. They need any help, they'll know where to find us."
The two sat silently, reliving the day's events. Nathan's door slowly opened, Ezra's head poked out and scanned the shadows.
Buck was briefly startled, he stood up and slowly walked into the light.
"We could use your assistance."
Buck looked down where J.D. sat, unmoving, not blinking.
"You stay here, kid. I'll be back."
J.D. slowly nodded that he had heard. Buck was unsure if he understood. J.D.'s heart had begun beating so rapidly, he thought it would burst from his chest. As the clinic door closed, a tear fell down J.D.'s cheek.
Please God, don't let Vin die. Please let him be okay.
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