The Ranch
III. Land of the Living

by Karin

DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of the characters except for Travis Roy and Esau Wells..they're mine<g>. No money is being made so don't sue me...I have nothing that you me on this<eg>.


WARNINGS: a few 'bad' words.

NOTES/COMMENTS: Again..Leslie and Lynne what can I say...Wow! Ladies...thanks for making me write the parts you did (you guys know which ones I'm talking about<g>). You were right makes the story make more sense. I did promise my beta's boo boo's...but they're not here...but they are on the way!! Again this was a team effort...I tell you, you have no idea how much easier it is to write when you present an idea and your betas aren't afraid to tell you something's missing or doesn't sound right...even when it makes perfect sense to you. If only every writer could be soooo lucky! thanks again Leslie and Lynne...the next story is all for you!!<BEG>

Darlin's...sorry it took so long for this part, I had another story running through my head the whole time writing this, and had some revisions to make. But it's here at last..hope you like it..enjoy! Karin~


JD began to stir from a peaceful slumber as the sun crept into the window; casting rays of bright, warm light on his face. His eyes lazily pried themselves open, only to have them close sharply, turning his head as the brightness assaulted his sleepy eyes.

He groaned and rolled over, bringing the blankets up to cover his head. It was Saturday, he was not getting up at...he snuck his head out from the covers to view the clock on the nightstand... 6:30 in the morning. way.

Then, he ‘felt' a twinge.

Come on! JD's mind whined. He smiled as the urge left him.

But it came back, a little more stronger this time.

No, no, no!! It's Saturday for Pete's sake! He waited, to see if ‘it' would listen to common sense.

It didn't.

Damn it all to hell! His mind cried out as he pushed back the covers, planted his bare feet on the floor and sluggishly made his way out of his room and to the bathroom.

All the way to the bathroom his mind mumbled, But it's Saturday.

+ + + + + + +

Mrs. Potter looked up from the sink, her head tilted back so her gaze was on the ceiling as she heard the shuffled footsteps from above.

She brought her head back down and cast a look over her shoulder. "Up a bit early isn't he?"

"Yup," Chris nodded then took a sip of his coffee. "I figured he'd sleep in, didn't get back until close to midnight," he added while he straightened out the page of the morning paper he was reading.

"Midnight? I thought the movie got over at 10?" Mrs. Potter questioned, sounding very much like a mother.

"It did. He called and said he and the boys were gonna ‘hang out' for a while...told him to be back by midnight," Chris smiled as he said it.

JD had been in school nearly 3 months, not once had he mentioned any friends or plans to go anywhere but home. Esau Wells had been the first person JD had mentioned. They had a few classes together and after being partnered in Chemistry class, became friends. Travis Roy had met JD through Esau, Travis was the son of one of the local cattle ranchers. Travis was a nice enough kid, he had money but didn't flaunt it or brag about it.

Chris met Travis when JD had brought him home. When Chris said he ‘knew' who he was, Travis seemed to be almost embarrassed at the fact. The Roy family had a reputation of sorts. The older Roy brothers had a way of dodging the law, getting into trouble and because of who they were, they usually got off Scott-free. There weren't many profitable ranchers in the community and because of the Roy's donations and charitable acts...the Roy's were considered ‘upstanding citizens'; meaning they bought their way out of trouble.

Chris was glad to see that Travis didn't appear to be anything like the rest of his family.

Esau was the oldest in his family, his mother and father owned a dairy farm about three miles from Four Corners. He had a sister who had just turned 12. Chris remembered the way JD looked after a visit to the Wells farm. He said Esau's sister was worse than a shadow...and if Chris had any plans on adopting a sister for him, he would appreciate it if she was more in Domonique's age range, so he wouldn't have to deal with a girl like little Casey Wells who had just discovered that boys weren't so ‘icky' after all.

Chris also remembered the comment that Buck made ‘It's a start'. Referring of course to Buck's favorite past-time... ‘trolling' JD called it. Buck said he was ‘just sampling the buffet God had to offer'; JD had been dumbfounded... reminding Buck that the girl was only 12.

‘Yeah, but in 4 years she'll be 16..and could be a looker,' Buck had said through a wide grin, his eyebrows jumping up and down.

‘And I'll be 20..' JD had shot back.

Chris was brought out of his thoughts of the verbal bantering that the two had gone through for nearly an hour, as JD came down the stairs into the kitchen.

"Morning," he said grumpily, his voice scratchy and hoarse.

"Didn't expect to see you this early," Chris said from behind the paper, hiding the laugh at how JD mussed with bed-head, face gaunt and his eyes that just wanted to close.

"Didn't plan on it neither..I had to pee," JD enlightened..not knowing that they weren't ‘alone'. In his tired state, he hadn't noticed Mrs. Potter standing at the stove.

"Morning JD," Mrs. Potter said, her voice sunny and bright.

JD looked up from where his head had flopped onto his arms on the table. Mrs. Potter turned her back to JD as she saw the blush creep up the young man's face. JD's hands went to his face as he groaned, for the second time that day.

"So..." Chris tried to regain not only his voice, but steady the newspaper that had started jiggling up and down. "How...ahem..was the movie?"

"Fine," JD said quietly.

"Why don't you go and get a shower, I'll have breakfast ready for you when you come down," Mrs. Potter offered. Saturday was a day of baking for Mrs. Potter. She rarely cooked any meals on baking day, but felt that she could apologize for embarrassing JD by cooking him a hearty breakfast.

"I'm up...I might as well be awake," JD sighed. With great effort he pushed himself up from the table, staggered to the stairs and climbed the steps, each foot landing with a slow thud as bare foot met wood stair.

Chris sighed as he folded his newspaper. Gonna be a loooong day, he thought. The weekends had become Chris' favorite time. The other men were gone, opting to leave on Friday night to do other things. Josiah and Nathan were at the shelter and clinic, respectively. Vin was volunteering at his old stomping grounds in Purgatorio, and Ezra at either a weekend antique auction or a high-stakes poker game. Buck...well Buck was on the prowl no doubt.

With the others busy, it was just Chris and JD occupying the house. It gave them time to talk about the week, or make plans to do something together; go for a day long ride on the horses, spend the night up in the cabin in the woods or just laze around doing nothing.

Chris really didn't know what to expect today though, JD was tired and cranky. It was going to be a long day, Chris only hoped it didn't become too long. He'd found out early on that if JD was either troubled by something or tired that he became rather snappy.

+ + + + + + +

JD stepped from the bathroom, towel around his waist, and headed for his room. The hot shower hadn't done anything to make him feel any better. He still felt like he was a slug running a million miles an hour and getting nowhere, he glanced at the red numbers of the digital clock, 6:37a.m. His mind and body were on automatic pilot, going through the motions of showering and getting dressed without thinking about it.

He opened his dresser drawer for the third time... the first time to get out a pair of boxers, the second time a t-shirt. This time for a pair of socks, something he usually got when he grabbed his boxers seeing that they were in the same drawer.

The socks slipped out of his hand, dropping to the floor.

"Ughh," JD sighed, then bent over to pick up the socks. He grabbed at the socks with aggravation like ‘they' had done something wrong and it was all ‘their' fault for falling in the first place. He stood up, bumping his head on the opened drawer.

"OW!" JD growled, rubbing his wet hair at the spot the drawer had caught; slamming the drawer with the other hand. The force then sent the glass he had brought up with him last night to fall to the floor and smash.

"Aw Hell," JD sighed out the phrase he'd heard Buck say when exasperated.

JD tossed his socks to his bed, which fell short, then walked over to his desk and grabbed the trash can; as he turned he stubbed his toe on the leg of the desk.

"Dammit," he cried out, dropping the trash can. The contents falling out of the trash can.

"Errrr," JD snarled at the paper and pencil shavings that covered the floor. He picked the can up and walked to where the glass was now scattered and began picking up pieces of shattered crystal from the floor.

After clearing the small pieces of glass from one section of the floor, JD stood, taking a small step to the left to begin gathering the larger pieces. His cautiousness was unrewarded as he stepped on two large pieces.

"SHIT!" he hissed out sharply. He walked as quickly as he could, considering that he had one good foot to use properly and the other only able to use the tip of his toes. He managed awkwardly to find his bed. Turning quickly he sat, bringing his foot up to examine it quickly.

"Uhhhhgggg," JD said with disgust as he caught a glimpse of the blood, quickly letting his foot go.

JD didn't know what else to do but to flop across his bed. He glanced at the clock, why he didn't know, maybe a slight hope that it had taken hours for all this to occur. He was disappointed as he discovered the time, 6:40. It had only taken 3 minutes. He looked again, maybe it was p.m.? Nope...JD brought his hands to his face, then heard the knock at his door.

"JD? You okay?" Not getting any answer, and hearing the calamity from where he'd been enjoying his coffee, Chris swung the door open. In the middle of the usually neat and tidy room was JD, lying on his unmade bed.

"You want to tell me the name of the tornado?" Chris asked as he kicked aside the shirt JD had worn last night.

JD just shook his head, his hands and arms folded neatly on his chest, as he stared at the ceiling.

Chris took stock of the room, the dresser drawer half-open, the purged contents of the trash can next to the desk, the desk itself pulled away from the wall a bit, the trash can laying on its side next to the dresser, and the glass surrounding the trash can. Chris didn't miss the small red dots that became larger and a little smeared that went from where the glass was to where JD now sat.

"Cut your foot?" Chris asked. The answer was way too obvious as the blood dripped steadily from JD's hanging right foot.

"No..nicked myself shaving," JD bit out quietly.

Noooo...we're not tired, Chris' mind shot out sarcastically.

"Since when you start shaving the bottom of your feet?" Chris tried to be light, as he grabbed the foot in question to examine it.

JD just rolled his eyes. Any other time Chris might have been a little ‘upset' with the eye-rolling, but it was better than JD saying anything at this point; it was all too clear JD was going to have..‘one of those' days.

"They look pretty deep. Well, I needed to talk to Nathan anyway," Chris said as he stood.

"Can't you just dig them out or something?" JD asked, nearly pleading. All he wanted to do today was stay in his room and be miserable.

"I think you're gonna need stitches for that cut on your heel JD," Chris said firmly, his hands on his hips. Chris almost wanted to laugh at JD's misery, but knew better.

"Aw geez," JD sighed, whined and rolled his eyes..all at the same time.

JD stood to walk out the door when Chris stopped him.

"Let me get a towel to wrap that up in, Mrs. Potter'll have my head if you drip all over the place."

"I think we should just wait. Way my luck's going we'll get into some stupid car accident or something," JD said as he fell back onto his bed.

Chris returned from the bedroom with a hand towel, wrapped up the foot as best he could, fought to help JD to walk/hop under the protest that he wasn't ‘crippled', caught the back of his shirt when he nearly fell trying to go down the first step, gave a quick explanation to Gloria as they passed through the kitchen, out the front door, into the passenger side of the truck (which JD hit his head on as he tried to get into the truck) and off to the clinic.

The usual routine of JD trying to find a radio station that he liked, not the ‘twangy-cry-in-your-beer-dog-died-woman-done-me-wrong' music that Chris liked to listen to, didn't happen. Chris didn't have to remind JD once that this was his truck and he was driving, therefore the radio was to stay either off or on the station he wanted, not any of that ‘alternative crap that some schmuck decided would pass as music'. Uh-uh...not while HE was in the truck. The silence made it into a very, very long drive.

"Can't get any worse can it?" Chris finally asked.

JD shrugged his shoulders, not wanting to be optimistic in any way.

Chris'd gotten used to silent days, liked them in fact. But, that was before JD'd come along; even after meeting him that first day, he knew as long as JD was around the kid's voice would be heard. Granted he hadn't planned on JD still being here, but was both grateful and thankful that his weekends would no longer be quiet... until now.

JD and Chris had worked too long and hard; JD getting over his loss, learning to trust another, building a father-son relationship that rivaled none, to have one day take JD back down to the pits of depression and self-doubt.

Chris figured he just started seeing the ‘real' JD a week or so after Domonique had left Four Corners. Her mother's funeral providing something that JD needed. He relaxed a bit and became more confident in himself. He had finally allowed classmates to become friends. So he didn't have 20 people calling him every night, Esau and Travis are the only friends Chris I know about, but it's a start Chris thought.

+ + + + + + +

JD looked down at his watch, well the watch that was supposed to be there, as the truck stopped in front of the clinic where Nathan volunteered. He then glanced to the dashboard of the truck looking at that clock. 8:15 a.m.

If things had gone the way I planned I'd just be crawling out of bed, not crawling out of this stupid truck just to have Nathan take out two pieces of glass that I'm sure Dad could've taken out at home. But I am, Dad hardly able to contain the laugh that I know wants to come out. God this is pathetic. JD thought as he hobbled into the clinic behind his father.

Geez...don't even have any shoes on! JD thought as his good foot touched the linoleum of the clinic.

Chris looked around the empty clinic, then to the desk where he saw Nathan standing, his back facing him.

"Slow day Nate?" Chris asked.

"Chris," Nathan said as he spun around, then noticed Chris wasn't alone.

"What happened?" he asked, more to Chris than to JD.

"Hellooo," JD sung out, waving his hand back and forth. "I," JD stressed the ‘I', "cut my foot on some glass."

Nathan's look went back to Chris, his eyebrows raised in surprise.

"Celia, you wanna take Mr. Sunshine in back, get what I'll need, I'll be in in a minute," Nathan called out, the assistant coming from the back room as she heard the request. She smiled at JD and motioned for him to follow her, which he did.

"Well?" Nathan asked as soon as JD was out of earshot.

"Having a bad day," Chris smiled.

"He been feeling all right?" Nathan asked.

"Yeah... why?" Chris asked, standing a bit straighter.

"Just a tad snappy don't ya' think?" Nathan explained.

"He went to the movies with Travis and Esau...didn't get back till midnight or so. He got up about 6 and the day's gone straight to hell," Chris said.

"Should be fun," Nathan sighed as he walked back to where JD was.

"Good luck," Chris offered his encouragement as Nathan left the lobby.

+ + + + + + +

"There, that one's out. This one in your heel's gonna be bit harder to get out. I can freeze it for you if you want, won't hurt so much," Nathan said.

"Just get it over with," JD mumbled.

As promised, the glass was stubborn to come out. JD's knuckles were white as his hands gripped the examining table, hissing in pain every time Nathan began to pull. The giant tweezers would slip from the embedded glass, and Nathan would have to start the process again. Finally after twenty or so pulls and tugs, the glass was removed.

"Got it!" Nathan smiled....

Thank freakin' God! JD's mind said as he sighed.

Nathan held up the 1 inch jagged piece of glass in the tong-like instrument...

Look away! Look away!! his mind screamed at him..but it was too late...

Nathan smiled as JD stared wide-eyed at the piece of glass. His smile was erased as he saw JD's eyes roll up into the back of his head...and he passed out.

Nathan dropped the glass into the dish that held the other piece, he helped Celia as she moved JD's legs so they lay evenly with the rest of the boy's body on the examining table. He went to JD's neck, then his wrist.

"Just passed out," Nathan sighed.

Celia walked to a cabinet.

"Don't worry about that Celia, from what I understand he needs the sleep anyway," Nathan smiled. "Stay here in case he comes around, I'll go talk to his father." Celia nodded at the request and couldn't help but smile. She grabbed a few gauze bandages, figuring she might as well get the foot bandaged up while JD ‘slept'.

"He need stitches?" Chris asked as Nathan entered the lobby.

"Nope, just a pillow," Nathan grinned.


"I guess he ain't a big fan of blood...showed him that big piece of glass, he fell over like a tree that just got cut down," Nathan laughed out.

"He passed out? Is he all right?" Chris asked as he began to walk quickly to where he'd seen Nathan come from.

"He's fine. I can get him up if you want me to...ain't gonna hurt nothin' to let him be though," Nathan said as he followed behind.

"Can I..." Chris asked as he stopped by the closed door where his son was.

"Of course..come on," Nathan said, opening the door.

"Thanks Celia," Nathan nodded, noticing the bandage on the young man's foot.

"Cute kid, never seen anyone fall over so fast," Celia giggled out. She thought it a bit ironic, the kid was having things taken out of his foot and not once did he scream to show his discomfort, but when the blood came..he keeled right over.

"He's unpredictable," Chris said defensively.

"I'm sorry Mr.???"


"Mr. Larabee. I didn't mean for it to sound... Never mind, I'll just shut my mouth before I get the other foot stuck in it," She smiled warmly to Chris.

"Don't worry about it. I'm a little out of practice when it comes to being a father," Chris said, letting the woman off the hook.

"You do okay," a quiet voice stated from the examining table.

"Hey..decided to wake up?" Nathan asked, helping JD to sit up.

"Feel okay son?" Chris asked seeing his son teeter a bit.

"Just a little dizzy..sorry Doc, should've warned you about that," JD said trying to steady what he thought for sure was his head moving back and forth and around in circles.

"This has happened before?" Nathan asked, a bit concerned.

"Just with blood and needles," JD said with a sideways smile.

Chris and Nathan exchanged a look, Chris's facial expression let Nathan know that now probably wasn't the time to discuss JD's aversion to needles and blood.

"Can I take him home?" Chris asked.

"Sure, why don't you get the papers signed and I'll bring him out to ya'?" Nathan suggested.

"You okay with that JD?" Chris asked, remembering that he didn't like the fact that he seemed to be ignored when he walked into the clinic.

"Yeah..I just wanna get home before anything else happens," JD sighed out.

"Okay," Chris responded, then headed out the door.

"You allergic to any medication?" Nathan asked as he opened the medicine cabinet.

"Don't think so," JD said as he shrugged his shoulders and shook his head no.

"You ever taken any kind of medicine before?" Nathan questioned as he emptied two pills into his hand.

"No," JD replied.

"Okay. This is just aspirin, it should help with the pain," Nathan stated as he handed JD two small paper cups; one filled with water, the other the aspirin.

JD emptied the aspirin into his mouth then chased it with the water.

"You start feeling off in any way, you tell Chris and have him call me, okay?" Nathan instructed.

"Sure Doc," JD nodded, a tired smile gracing his face.

"You feel okay to walk? Feeling weak or anything?" Nathan asked his patient.

"Just a little light-headed still...usually goes way in about half an hour," JD answered. "I'm okay to go home," JD assured, he had no desire to stay here any longer than necessary.

"Here," Nathan said, handing JD a pair of crutches as JD stood from the examining table.

"Aw way, come on Nathan. You can't be serious," JD pleaded, his head tilted sideways.

"I'm serious. Off the foot till Monday, you need to give it a chance to heal..if you don't stay on the crutches, you'll be back in here with an infected wound and a week on those things," Nathan stated firmly.

"Fine..but I ain't gonna like it," JD stated firmly, placing the crutches firmly under his arms as he began to swing towards the door.

Chris looked away from JD as he came into the lobby, he didn't miss the disgusted face as his son ‘walked' down the hall way.

"Take it easy on your way out," Nathan instructed. "I'll be out later to check on him," he said to Chris.

"Hey Doc, I'm right here...not like you can't talk to me too," JD pointed out.

"Sorry JD, policy," Nathan smiled.

"Is that like, written somewhere? All stethoscopes must be at least 32 degrees and don't ask the patient how he feels unless you ask how are ‘we' feeling?" JD asked.

"'s not written, but us doctors have a reputation to uphold."

"Let's see if we can get you home in one piece," Chris sighed. His hand on the back of JD's shoulder, steering him in the direction of the door.

"Good luck Chris," Nathan offered sympathetically.

"Thanks...I'm going to need it," Chris sighed.

+ + + + + + +

"You wanna stop and grab something for breakfast?" Chris asked as he started to pull away from the curb of the clinic.

"No, Nathan gave me something that's making me feel like shi...sick," JD said harshly.

Chris kept his eyes forward, JD's bad day was about to get worse if the teen slipped out a curse.

"I can take you back to the clinic?" Chris offered.

JD glanced over at his father, then sighed.

"I haven't eaten and I'm tired...lets just go home okay?" JD pleaded, he really didn't feel the best; but he wasn't that bad off to cause another visit to Nathan.

"Sorry. Nothing's going right today," JD apologized for his mood.

"Doesn't mean you have to take it out on everyone around you," Chris said evenly. JD's bad day was wearing on Chris's nerves...and it wasn't even noon yet.

"I didn't mean to, sorry," JD answered sincerely. He was feeling a bit guilty dragging Chris down with him... just because he was miserable didn't mean everyone else had to be.

"When we get home why don't you call Esau and Travis, invite them over for a cook out. I'll see if the others are interested," Chris asked. Chris thought if he distracted JD with planning a Bar-B-Que it might turn his day around; and if it didn't, at least there'd be others around to take the blame for who knows what.

"Sure," JD replied quietly.

"Tired, huh?"

"Yeah. Suppose maybe I'll feel better if I go to bed?" JD wondered.

"Just make sure you go to the bathroom first," Chris smiled as they pulled into the driveway.

"I'll do that," JD nodded. Chris thought he almost saw a small smile slip out.

Chris stopped the truck in front of the stairs that ran up the porch. He quickly opened the door and exited the truck to get to the passenger side, only to find JD already making his way to the stairs.

"Guess you're all set," Chris said lightly.

"Well ain't you a sight."

JD and Chris both looked up to see Buck standing with his hands on his hips and the biggest smile JD had ever seen.

"Didn't expect to see you today Buck," Chris said curtly, trying to convey that right now was not the time to tease the kid.

"Nathan called and said you'd stopped by," Buck explained, his tone more serious.

"I'm going to bed," JD said to no one in particular. He swung himself into the house, not stopping to say hello to Buck.

"You okay with the stairs?" Chris yelled after JD.

"Fine," JD yelled back as the screen door shut none too quietly.

"Well I guess that answers that," Buck stated.

"Didn't know there was a question," Chris chuckled.

"Course there is. The boy obviously can't handle late nights if he wakes up in that kind of a mood," Buck observed, giving his opinion on the matter.

"Leave the mothering to his father Buck; poor boy got woken up this morning," Mrs. Potter scolded at the screen door. She'd heard the truck pull up, voices, the screen door slam shut and someone hopping up the stairs.

"What woke him? He having them nightmares again?" Buck asked with concern. Soon after Chris adopted him JD had several nightmares of Chris dying.

"The call of nature," Mrs. Potter enlightened.

"Call of nature?" Buck repeated, looking from Chris to Gloria then back to Chris. "You mean, he had to..."

"Pee," Chris and Gloria both stated at the same time.

"Damn, I hate that," Buck sighed sympathetically.


Comments to: