Skill and Application by Sue M

"Brothers Larabee" Universe

Disclaimer: Just playing. I know I can't keep 'em…damnit!

Thanks to Phyllis for BL/AU2

Main Characters: Nathan, JD

Summary: Tension mounts as Doctor Jackson works against the clock.

(Stick with it!)

In the dining area of the Double L ranch house, Doctor Nathan Jackson approached what awaited him on top of the dining table and took a deep, cleansing breath to enable him to focus. Time was against him, and conditions less than ideal, but this was not the time for dwelling on the negatives. This had to be done, and quickly.

Leaning in, the instrument in his hand hovered over the operation site as he studied his impending, and delicate task. He moved a step closer in preparation to go in, when a movement broke his concentration. He cussed, straightened, and spoke a little harsher than he meant to.

"Damnit, JD. Keep still. I was just about to…" Nathan raised a halting hand. "Sorry, don't mind me, just running a little edgy."

JD released the sneeze he was suppressing. "S…sorry," he said, hoarsely. "Didn't mean to move."

Nathan relaxed. The kid was suffering, and didn't deserve that. By way of an apology, he reached out a hand to squeeze the boy's shoulder, and smiled. In moments his focus was back on the job in hand. He looked up at his brothers. "Steady hands, boys."

Chris, Vin, Buck, Josiah, and Ezra nodded and gripped the dining table to hold it still. JD sneezed again, causing Nathan to once more pull back.

"JD, you gonna keep sneezing? Should I wait?"

The flushed youth shook his head. "No, I think I got control now. Just do it."


Implement in hand, Nathan readied his skilled fingers once more. Lord it's warm, he thought as he blinked sweat from his eyes. Absently, his free arm came up for him to use his rolled up shirtsleeve to swipe at the beading moisture on his brow and upper lip. He again straightened, and rolled his neck and shoulders before he moved back into position.

"Nathan, we're running out of time." Chris hissed a reminder.

"I know!" Nathan snapped back. "Quit rushing me."

JD turned concerned, misty eyes to his brothers. "Please, guys just let him do this," he rasped.

"You're right, JD. Sorry, Kid. Sorry, Nathan," Chris apologized.

"Me too," the doctor returned. "I don't know what's gotten into me."

Resuming their positions, everyone watched in silence as Nathan finally went in.


With the tip of his tongue between his closed lips, Nathan maneuvered in order to achieve the best and safest position for the extraction. Steady, steady, Nathan, the doctor rooted, inwardly. This is tricky, but you can do it. Easy…easy now...easy…yes!

As he grasped the object of his exploration with the delicate instrument, Nathan's hand trembled slightly from the effort of concentrating; but he had it in his grasp now, and nothing would stop him succeeding.


The calm was shattered when JD let rip another sneeze, causing Nathan's hand to slip. The five brothers grimaced.

"Godamnit, sonofabitch! I almost had it."

"Nathan Jackson. What sort of language is that from a distinguished medical professional?"

All attention turned to housekeeper Nettie Wells when, armed with cutlery and crockery, she approached the group of men. "And didn't I tell you to clear up? Dinner's ready."

With rumbled apologies, and light-hearted banter about who won, the seven brothers shared the tasks of taking the items from Nettie, packing up the game of Operation and clearing the dining table to set it for dinner. Nathan caught JD's apologetic, liquid gaze and grinned as the youth sneezed again.

"Sorry, Superdoc," JD mumbled as he dabbed at his runny eyes and nose.

The man of medicine chuckled at the nickname JD devised when Nathan once treated himself to a T-shirt with the 'Superman' logo; the very Tee he was wearing today. "Hey, no sweat. You got a cold; you can hardly control sneezing, can you?"

Grasping a fresh Kleenex, JD again wiped his sore nose. "I wish I could. It makes my whole body ache."

"Well, eat something, and you won't feel so washed out," Nathan admonished.

"Aww, jeeze, Nathan, I would, but everything tastes like snot…"

"John Daniel, we do not wish to know that just before eating," Nettie scolded as she brought in the first of the serving dishes.

JD blushed and bowed his head. "Sorry, ma'am."


They all sat down and with hungry approval inhaled the tempting aromas. Each man bar one reached out to his side as they prepared to clasps hands to say Grace. JD wiped his nose and huffed to himself.

"Food smells like snot, too. Oww!"

He glowered at Buck as the brunet's hand left the back of JD's head to return to the table while his other hand clasped Chris's. JD noisily swiped at his nose and with a grin, grabbed Buck's free hand with the one he had just 'used'.


All but Chris laughed.

Buck swiped his 'contaminated' hand on JD's shirt.

"Grace!" Chris insisted before the boy could make an attempt at revenge. The blond then grinned at the stunned looks and shrugged. "What? I'm hungry."

The brothers finally linked hands, and Josiah said Grace before they dug in.


Appreciative mutterings about dinner circled the table as the group ate. Nathan signaled for attention, and spoke. "I want another turn at Operation. I was distracted."

Tanner used his napkin to wipe his mouth. "No way, Nathan," he argued. "You dropped the funny bone. You lose."

Nathan pointed, first at JD, then Ezra. "But, JD sneezed," he reminded. "And just before that, Ezra jostled the table so y'all had to steady it." He sent an accusing glance toward the southerner, who offered a look to suggest butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.

"I merely caught my hip once, yet JD sneezed throughout the whole game," Ezra recapped.

JD nodded his agreement as he poked at his meal.

"And I was being rushed," Nathan added, ignoring the arguments.

"Well, it's all packed away, now. We'll have to start a fresh game," Josiah suggested.

"You would say that, you were winning," Nathan sulked.

There was a pause before they looked at each other, and laughed.


During the lull, JD smiled at his brothers and took the opportunity to offer his gratitude to them all. "Thanks for cheering me up, guys. I really needed it." He barely managed to stuff his well- used tissue in his face before he sneezed.

"Aww, hell. 'Scuse me." The youth left the table and hurried off upstairs in search of more fresh Kleenex.

In no doubt JD was also attempting to skip his meal; Nathan's gaze followed him out. "Maybe I'll brew him some of my special tea."

Buck looked up from his food, grinned, and bobbed his eyebrows. "Good luck with that."

"You think I can't make him drink it, Buck?" Nathan challenged.

Ezra perked up. "Do I sense a wager, gentlemen?"

Vin maneuvered to reach into his back jeans pocket. He extracted his wallet, and slapped a bill on the table. "I'll have me a piece of that."

"Any time constrictions?" Nathan checked.

Chris glanced around the table. "Ten minutes?" he suggested. The others nodded.

Ezra gathered up the wagers, took a notebook and pencil from his top shirt pocket, licked the pencil's lead tip more from habit than necessity, and began jotting.

Nathan grinned and stood. "Piece of cake. To make it worth my while, besides my winnings, what else do I get if I succeed?"

There was a pause. "We crown you as the Double L 'Operation' champion?" Josiah suggested.

Nathan considered the offer, then nodded. "Yeah, I like it. Deal." He headed for the kitchen. Several minutes later, and with a cup of steaming brew in hand, he was resting an elbow on the banister and yelling up the stairs.

"Hey, JD, come down, I've got something for you."

"If it's one of your horse-piss teas Superdoc, forget it," came a raspy reply from above.

The five brothers laughed. Buck rubbed the thumb and fingertips of his right hand together and uttered the word 'ka-ching'.

Nathan glowered at them, and resumed talking to JD. "Now, Kid, what have I told you 'bout jumping to conclusions?"

There was a pause. "Aww…c'mon, Nathan…I feel like crap, and I just got comfortable on my bed."

Steadying the cup of tea in his hand, the doctor started up the stairs. "It's okay, I'll come to you, then."


With dinner apparently over, and while he helped clear the table, Chris smiled at the carry-on as sounds of protests from upstairs floated down, followed by affected gagging noises from JD and then eventually silence.

Chris outright chuckled. He had no doubt that the spoils of the bet was Nathan's because, if anyone could get his brothers to eat or drink something they hated…

…Doctor Nathan Jackson-Larabee could.

The End

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