So it began, Chris and Josiah took hold of Buck's inert body and gently swung his torso off the bed, rolling him as they did; so that he finished up on his back with his hips and legs on the bed and the rest of his long frame supported by his friends over the edge of the bed. Josiah knelt on his left side supporting his back, Chris at his head supporting his shoulders, his head resting on Chris' shoulder. With this accomplished Nathan placed a bucket under the wound, then he took a deep breath and with one final glance at the others an a quiet apology to his unconscious patient, he took hold of the end of the piece of wood in one hand and placing the other on Buck's stomach pulled. The only thing that happened was that Buck tried to pull away, causing Chris and Josiah to take a firmer hold of him, the wood didn't move. Nathan took a firmer grip and tried again, this time it did move a little, Buck arched his back, his arms, previously hanging limply at his sides, thrashed wildly. Ezra crossed the room as fast as his sprained ankle would let him. He gathered up his friend's hands in his.
"Come now Mr. Wilmington we are only trying to help," he soothed.
Nathan pulled again, Buck groaned in agony, writhing and squirming as he did, it was all the others could do to hold him until his body finally gave up it's captive, and he calmed a little. There was no time to let him rest, Nathan put his hand out and as instructed Vin handed him a funnel and a jug, which contained some of the boiled water and a measure of carbolic. He placed the funnel in the now gapping entry wound and poured in the water and carbolic. Just as Nathan had hoped, prayed, along with the blood and water that flowed out of the exit wound came slivers of wood, dirt and other debris, despite Buck's writhing, Nathan continued to pour the jugs of water Vin handed him, into the wound until he was satisfied he had washed out as much of the contamination as he could. Finally he picked up the whisky bottle.
"Vin you better help them, this is gonna really hurt 'im," he instructed.
Once Vin had a good hold on Buck who's chest heaved as he tossed in their arms, Nathan poured in the spirit. The reaction was instantaneous, Buck cried out, arching and squirming against his captives so hard he actually managed to turn on to his side in Josiah's arms. It was breaking Chris' heart to see his oldest friend in such distress.
"Please tell me you're done Nate," he pleaded, as he held his panting, perspiration drenched friend close.
"Almost, but you can put 'im back on the bed now, Ezra you best sit down again and check on JD for me," he instructed.
Once on the bed again, Buck calmed some. Chris moved to his side as Vin handed him a damp cloth, and he began to wipe down Buck's sweat drenched face.
"Hey pal, you just hang in there a little longer, it's nearly all over." Chris hoped Buck could hear him as he watched Nathan prepare for the next stage of his treatment.
This time Vin joined Chris to help if necessary, and Josiah stood by to hand Nathan what he needed. First Nathan used carbolic to clean the outer wounds. Vin and Chris held on to Buck as he tried to pull away, even though his strength was waning he still tried to escape the pain, but by the time Nathan was stitching and dressing the wounds he was still and silent. Finally Nathan stood back, he pulled up the sheet and covered his patient with a light but warm quilt, and held a practised hand to Buck's brow, which was warmer than when he had checked him before. Buck lay unnaturally still, his breathing a little too fast and shallow.
"Well Nathan?" Chris asked anxiously.
Nathan sighed. "I think he was done in when he got here, I think we I just put him through one hell of an ordeal, he's weak, an' he's got a fever, I don't know Chris I just don't know."
"Come now Mr. Jackson," Ezra spoke up hobbling over to stand beside Chris at Buck's side. "We need not be so pessimistic, we know Mr. Wilmington is a fighter who never ever surrenders, we know he possesses legendary reserves of strength and we know he has six 'brothers' who will fight with him."
The others were amazed at Ezra's expression of fraternal belonging but nevertheless agreed with him. Nathan looked at the gambler realising he was right, he needed to be more optimistic.
"You're right," he conceded. Then he looked around the room at the others, all of whom looked about ready to drop. "You three need to get some food and a good nights sleep," he observed.
"I'm staying with Buck," Chris stated vehemently.
"Chris he's dead t' the world, totally exhausted, he 's no idea you're here, I doubt he will 'till the morning; at the earliest," Nathan said quietly but firmly.
"He's right Chris, Buck 'ill need you later you'll be no good to him if you're passing out just as he's coming around," Josiah said gently to the blond gunman, as he continued to watch his oldest friend. "Nathan and Ezra will take care of the two of them tonight," he continued. Finally Chris nodded and rose to follow Vin and Josiah out of the clinic.
+ + + + + + +
Once they were gone Nathan checked on JD who had not stirred once amongst all the commotion. He was relived to find his pules strong and his breathing even and deep. Ezra handed him a mug of coffee and settled into his seat beside the young sheriff. Nathan got himself set up for a night of chasing Buck's fever down. Around four in the morning JD began to stir, Ezra was sleeping, his feet propped up on the bed, and didn't notice. Nathan came over to JD, but he didn't wake he was clearly dreaming and this Nathan took to be a good sign. Ezra never stirred.
"Some doctor you'd make," Nathan commented wryly, returning to Buck who had never moved or made a sound all night, though his fever continued to rise.
As dawn came up the clinic door opened to admit Chris. Nathan looked up and greeted him with a tired smile. The sudden blast of cold air caused JD to stir and mutter as he began to struggle back to consciousness.
"Send Ezra to bed Chris, he might as well sleep in his bed as in that chair," Nathan requested.
Chris pulled the curtains open to flood the room with the ethereal light that only comes at dawn over fresh snow. Then he shook the slumbering gambler awake.
"Oh Lord!" Ezra swore as he shielded his eyes from the sunlight.
"Go home Ezra, sleep in a proper bed," Chris commanded.
"I appreciate the offer Mr. Larabee, but I feel I should remain and help Mr. Jackson," Ezra said sleepily.
"Go Ezra," Nathan said, "get some proper sleep."
Ezra rose to his feet and began to pull on his winter coat before he headed for the door.
"Er Ezra," Chris called to the gambler as he headed to the door. "You can go like that if you wish but I tell ya that snow is real cold without boots!"
Ezra looked down at his feet and then at his boots still standing beside JD's bed.
"Man was not meant to rise with the beasts, it is both unnatural and unhealthy!" he commented bitterly, wincing as he forced his sprained ankle into a boot, and finally headed for his own bed.
Chris looked down at Buck. "Any change?" he asked.
Nathan shook his head. "Not really his fevers up some but other than that he's the same."
Chris squatted down by Buck. "Hey pal don't you give up on me now, just you remember we need you."
Just them JD started to mutter something of which the only discernible word was 'Buck'. Chris crossed to him.
"JD? Come on son time to wake up open them eyes for me," he encouraged. He was rewarded as JD's eyes opened and he frowned at Chris.
"What?" he asked clearly totally mystified to find himself in the clinic. He began to try and sit up, but Chris pushed him back, seeing his distress.
"Easy JD you were at the mine and it exploded, you got hurt," he explained gently.
JD looked confused, then his hand went to his head, and he grimaced. "You've got a nasty gash back there kid some cracked ribs and you broke your ankle," Chris explained. He lifted up the corner of the blanket to show JD his ankle splinted and cocooned in pillows.
"Is Buck alright?" he asked suddenly, still looking at his ankle.
"He got you down off the mountain and rode with you all the way in, but " Chris took a half breath, "he was hurt too Nathan's taking good care of him."
JD's eyes shot across the room to the deathly still form in the bed. Instantly he tried to get up again.
"Oh no you don't, there is nothing you can do right now, so you stay right where you are, I'm gonna get you some of Nathan's tea and than you're gonna go right back to sleep." JD thought about arguing, but his head was splitting, his ankle throbbed and he felt he was being stabbed every time he breathed.
Chris stood up and poured a mug of the willow bark tea Nathan had simmering on the stove. He turned back the young man, he was sitting up and staring in anguish at his friend in the other bed, Chris turned back to the stove and loaded the bitter medicine with sugar.
"Here kid drink up." Chris deliberately stood so he was blocking JD's view of Buck. He watched as the young men reluctantly took the mug and sipped at the warm liquid. A small smile spread across his face.
"Thanks Chris," he said quietly. He drained the liquid and handed the empty mug back to Chris. Chris didn't move from the bedside, still blocking his view until he had fallen asleep again. Finally Chris put a hand on the young man's forehead and was relived to detect no fever.
"Well?" asked Nathan, as Chris crossed the room.
"He's asleep, no fever that I can find, what about Buck?"
"No change, you up to helping me change his dressings."
"Yes of course, what ever you need," he replied a little apprehensively.
+ + + + + + +
It was going to be a painful procedure, normally Nathan hated that he had to cause his patients pain but he was also hoping he might finally get some reaction from Buck. It turned out to be a vain hope, he neither moved nor made a sound as Nathan removed the dressings, cleaned and then redressed the wounds. Chris pulled back the covers as Nathan washed his hands.
"I was hoping he'd feel that, it's not that I want to hurt him it's just ."
"I know Nathan, I know." Chris changed the subject. "Say, where did you learn to clean a wound like that?" he asked.
"Last night, right here, just I hope I did right," he said, standing and stretching his aching back.
"You're a healer Nathan, you can't help it, I trust your instincts, so do the others, so does Buck."
Nathan hoped he was right, all night he had been trying to think if there was anything he had missed, and wondering what a real doctor would have done. For the rest of the morning Chris watched over Buck, while JD slept, Nathan reluctantly agreed to use Chris' room and get some sleep, Vin looked in on his way to patrol, Josiah brought breakfast he stayed for a while and then left to stand a watch at the jail. Although the sounds of the town penetrated the little clinic it seemed to Chris that it was almost silent in the room, only JD's occasional mutterings broke his perception of quiet. After he'd finished the food the preacher had brought he stood, stretched and crossed the room to check JD, who was still sound asleep and mercifully fever free. That done he looked out of the window at the town below, life continuing as normal while his was held in suspension. Finally he returned to his friends bedside.
"You know I don't deserve a friend, as good as you, don't you," he spoke softly more to himself than Buck. "Why did you stick by me after all the things I did, why did you take from me what you would have killed other men for? I insulted you, accused you unjustly of terrible things, probably embarrasst you even though I don't remember it, hit you, rejected you, hell I even threatened to kill you!" he sat back in his seat and glanced across at JD, still talking. "But even though I don't deserve your friendship I still need it, so does the kid."
As he turned back he was suddenly aware that he was being watched by cobalt eyes. Dropping to his knees he came face to face with Buck, but before he could say anything Buck whispered.
"For Sarah .promised." Chris reached out anxiously to his friend.
"What did you promise her?" he asked gently, but Buck's eyes were already closed again.
Chris remained on his knees hoping Buck would come around again, but he had slipped back into the deep still unconsciousness that had held him for so many hours now.
"To look after you." Chris jumped at the sound of JD's voice.
"What do you mean JD," he asked.
JD forced himself to continue even though he was scared, talking to Chris about Sarah and Adam was dangerous enough, but talking to him about his relationship with Buck was like goading the lion in his den, finally he said.
"Sarah made Buck promise to look after you if anything ever happened to her, 'cause she knew you, what you might do if " he trailed off for a second, before continuing. "But he would have done it anyway even if she hadn't asked."
"How do you know all this kid?" Chris was sure that no matter how close Buck and JD were, Buck would never have told him this, it was too personal, too painful.
"You remember in the spring when half the town got sick including Buck, and Nathan was run of his feet?" Chris did indeed remember, not only Buck but Ezra and Josiah had also succumbed, it was no more than a cold with fever but it had laid it's victims low for a week or more.
"Well his fever spiked one night and I sat with him, he talked in his sleep a lot."
Chris sat back up on the chair and returned his gaze to Buck. "Thanks for telling me kid I appreciate it."
"Chris," JD said nervously.
"I don't think Buck remembers that night at all."
"He won't find out about it from me JD, I promise you."
+ + + + + + +
Just then the door opened and both healer and preacher came in. Nathan immediately looked at JD sitting up in bed and looking reasonably good.
"You're looking good JD, you hungry, think you could manage some food?" he asked.
JD hadn't thought about it but now that he did he realised he was famished. "As it happens I am," he replied with some surprise.
"Josiah do you think you could round up some food for these two, and maybe some clothes for young JD?" Nathan enquired.
JD suddenly looked down and for the first time registered that he was naked under the blankets, he looked up a little too quickly, and clutching the blankets closer.
"Er .where are my clothes?" he asked looking around the clinic.
"Sorry son but thats how you arrived, according to what Buck told us on the way in, all you had on when he found you was ya guns and ya boots." Josiah explained.
JD blushed and tried no to think about it too hard. "I surly would appreciate some clothes Josiah," he said meekly.
Nathan crossed to stand at the end of the bed, "he about the same?" Chris nodded.
"No Chris he ain't the same. Nathan he woke up, not for long, but he did and he spoke not off his head he knew what Chris had been saying and everything!" JD gushed enthusiastically.
Nathan moved quickly to Buck's side not worrying about pushing Chris out of the way, he checked his pulse and breathing, then gauged his fever. All were the same as when he had left some six hours before, on a half chance he pushed the bed clothes down and placed a big gentle hand on the large entry wound and applied a little pressure. There was no reaction from the patient.
Chris looked on. "He wasn't awake for more than a minute Nathan," he explained.
"Any reaction is better than nothin' Chris." Now it was Nathan's turn to be optimistic.
+ + + + + + +
Josiah ordered the food from Inez and went to wake Ezra. He finally got a reply to his persistent knocking and let himself in. The gambler had clearly only just woken up and was still sitting up in bed in his nightshirt.
"Morning brother," Josiah said overly loud as he pulled open the curtains, flooding the room with winter sunlight.
Ezra shielded his eyes from the sudden assault. "Mr. Sanchez is there a reason for this rude awakening," suddenly he looked at the bigger man. "Buck's not, he is still ?"
"Oh yes, yes he is still with us, I'm sorry I should have said immediately. Actually he woke up a little while ago and spoke to Chris, only a word or two but Nathan seems to think it a good sign; and young JD is awake and talking up a storm as usual. I'm gonna get them some food; need you to stand a duty at the jail, if you're up to it?"
"I am quite capable of doing my duty I assure you, I will dine and call in on the patients first, so if you will excuse me I will dress." Josiah gave a mock bow and left the room.
It was actually nearer mid afternoon when Ezra finally entered the clinic quietly, and then limping heavily he crossed the room to Buck, at the time Chris was out 'stretching his legs' and Nathan was brewing a new batch of tea, so the seat beside him was vacant.
"Mr. Wilmington I am informed that today you favoured Mr. Larabee with some of your excellent oration, I would be most grateful if you could share this gift with the rest of us in the near future." JD watched with some surprise that again Ezra was being so open with his feelings, that was assuming that was what he was doing, since JD had no idea what Ezra was talking about.
+ + + + + + +
By late afternoon Vin had returned from patrol and after calling in at the clinic had gone to the jail where he found Josiah and Ezra deep in conversation, after sitting and listening for a bit he joined in. The three of them came to an interesting conclusion, which they intended to share with the others when they saw them. Realising it was nearly suppertime Ezra suggested they call in and take their order. Ezra entered the clinic and made his way over to sit by JD propping his throbbing ankle on the bed, the other two followed leaning up against the wall by the door.
"There is something that has been puzzling me," Josiah started, "and it seemed it has also been taxing my two brothers here," he continued.
Chris turned to face him, Nathan catching the serious tone in his friends voice stopped what he was doing to listen attentively.
"I take it you have filled young JD in on the events that lead to him waking up here?" he asked as an opening. JD confirmed that Chris had indeed told him every thing he knew, so Josiah continued. "What worried us was just how Buck managed to carry JD all that way with such a serious injury? We all know he is stoical about his own injuries, we all know he always puts others before himself, but think about it Chris, when in all the time we were with him did he show one sign he was in pain. He never once held his side, gasped, grimaced, he never favoured one side. On the way in he rode on Vin's left, he kept reaching over to check on JD, that meant he was stretching his right side but Vin says he never saw one sign he was hurt."
Chris looked over at Vin for confirmation, the quiet tracker assured him this was true.
"An' when we got here he carried JD up them steps, like he was no weight at all," Vin reminded them.
"What are you saying?" Nathan asked.
"It is our summation," Ezra took up the explanation. "That rather than being stoical, Mr. Wilmington was able to do the things he did, because he was unaware he was injured."
"The bible says 'Greater love has no man than that he would lay down his life for his friends', we think Buck's need to keep JD safe is so strong, his brain just blocked out anything that would get in the way of him doing that." Josiah finished.
Chris looked over to Nathan. "Is that possible?" he asked.
Nathan thought for a while. "In the war I saw men carry their friends to the surgeons, even though they was hurt them selves, but nothing like as far as Buck or for so long. But I guess it's possible, from what I've read seems doctors know almost nothing about the mind, I don't know how else he did it."
JD looked across at Buck's still form, and he knew instantly they were right, Buck really could not help himself, he was acting on instinct, he really couldn't let it drop, and since JD couldn't conceive of life without his self appointed 'big brother' around, he would have to learn to live with it.
Chris was quite prepared to believe it too. The same self sacrificing loyalty he had shown him over the years, ignoring his own grief to make sure he got through in one piece, was now directed at JD, only now it was intensified. There followed a long moment of silence, no one could find the words to express how they were feeling, and if they did, not sure they wanted to express them out loud. Finally Josiah and Vin offered to go and get Nathan and JD some food and to take Chris and Ezra away for a meal on their return, Chris protested but eventually gave in. While they were away Nathan asked Chris to help him once again help him change Buck's dressings.
+ + + + + + +
Buck's fatigue and fever fogged brain hadn't been reregistering much of anything for hours, once he had registered that JD no longer needed him to keep him safe, his body had stated shutting down to conserve energy. To begin with the pain had got through, it had been so intense, so sudden it had cut through the fog like a knife. Instinct, the need to flee from danger made him fight to escape but he couldn't, he was held captive. This terrifying, agony filled captivity came with voices, he couldn't identify the voices, or understand them but they came with the pain and the captivity. Once the fog had suddenly cleared and there had been a moment of clarity, but it had passed and the blackness had returned. Now he was aware of the voices, the voices that brought pain. He had to make them understand they were going to hurt him, make them understand he wanted them to leave him alone.
Chris pulled down the quilt and sheet to Buck's hip, exposing the great swathe of white bandage, he helped lift his friend slightly as Nathan unwound the bandage. They almost didn't hear the low moan that issued from Buck as they moved him.
"Easy Buck," Chris soothed, happy that once again Buck was showing some kind of reaction.
Nathan began to peal back the folded pad that covered the exit wound, it was sticky with blood but he was happy to note not much pus; he had to ease off the cloth pad with water. Buck continued to groan as Nathan worked, he couldnt work out why they didn't understand, he was telling them to stop wasn't he? Nathan began to clean the loosely stitched wound with carbolic. The liquid burned the wound and a sudden intensification of pain that gave Buck a strength born of desperation. Suddenly the small clinic echoed to Buck's familiar voice as he cried out.
"Noooo!" he bellowed and tried to roll away from Nathan. Instantly Chris grabbed him. "Stop, please stop," he pleaded. But the only reaction to his pleading was that he was held more firmly, he had to get away, if they weren't listening to him they weren't his friends.
Suddenly Buck's right leg shot out from under the bedclothes his heel impacting with surprising force in Nathan's groin. Nathan let out a strangled cry that was half grunt half scream. He dropped down clutching the damaged area as he rolled on the floor. On instinct Chris let go of Buck and ran to Nathan, Ezra was struggling to his feet as well. Suddenly free from restraint Buck rolled away from the pain his hands clutching at his side as he did. Now that he was free, now they had stopped hurting him, his brain began to close down again.
Vin and Josiah heard Buck's cries as they mounted the steps with a box full of food, dumping it down on the deck they both ran in, just in time to see Nathan rolling on the floor, tears in his eyes. Both men ran to him as Chris turned back to Buck. Ezra was standing by Nathan balancing on one foot.
"I'll say this for our Mr. Wilmington when he regains his senses he does it in some style," he commented, relieved it hadn't been him in the firing line.
Chris ran around to the other side of the bed, kneeling on the floor so he could look Buck in the face. The still almost peaceful expression he had had before was gone, now the pain was all too evident in his features, he was breathing hard, and perspiring profusely. Chris looked down at his wound sight, moving so fast had pulled off the dressing from the much larger ragged entry wound, and even though his hands were covering it, blood was spilling out through his fingers.
"Buck can you hear me?" he asked quietly. "Come on Buck open your eyes for me pal." He reached out and placed a hand on Buck's arm. The reaction was instantaneous; Buck recoiled.
They were back, they were going to hurt him again, get away he had to get away, tell them to leave him alone.
"Come on pal it's me Chris, we only want to help, we're not going to hurt you," he lied.
"No," he moaned softly, they were going to hurt, they always hurt him.
Nathan had been helped to his feet and with Vin's help and using the bed for support also came to Buck's side. Chris pointed to the blood now spilling freely through Buck's fingers, Nathan nodded, they were going to either get Buck awake and co-operating, or forcibly hold him down, something Nathan hated to do if he could avoid it.
"Buck it's Nathan, you have to let us help you." Buck's only reaction was to curl more tightly around his injury.
"Let me try." Both men looked up to see JD standing behind them, he was wearing only his trousers and perched precariously on one crutch. "Please, on my own."
Once the others had withdrawn to the far side of the room and JD had been eased down on to the floor by the bed, he began to talk softy.
"Hey brother I've missed you, kinder hoping you would come back and talk to me again, the truth is I don't want to go on patrol with anyone else, who else is gonna stop me making an ass of myself, listen to my jokes, answer my questions and keep me safe." He reached out tentatively and placed his hand gently on the side of Back's jaw, stroking his cheek with his thumb.
"'a dee?" Buck slurred.
"Yeah it's me come on open your eyes," he encouraged.
"Hurts .stop them hurting," he pleaded.
"I can't help you if you don't open you eyes," JD explained as if it were the most logical thing in the world.
He was rewarded with a fluttering of eyelids and finally Buck's eyes opened and looked at him.
"Hello," JD said.
Both Nathan and Chris made a move forward but Josiah grabbed the back of both their collars and held them back.
"Not yet," he counselled.
Buck had begun to remember what had happened, he stretched out one blooded hand to touch JD to assure himself he was real, griping his hand.
"You?" he asked.
"I'm gonna be fine, got my head stitched up, got my ribs bound up, got my ankle splinted, even got crutches look," he lifted the crutch so Buck could see it. "I don't even have a fever, you did it Buck, you got me out of the storm, you saved me, now you have to let us help you."
Buck frowned. JD took Buck's big callused hand in his. "Look, look at your hand." Buck obeyed. "Thats your blood, you were hurt too. Now you have to let Nathan help you, please."
"'S gonna hurt ain't it?" he asked weakly.
"Yes it is, sorry can't do nothin' about that," JD replied honestly.
"I gotta drink cat's piss tea?"
"Well I did so I guess you do too."
"Shit!" he swore, "What I gotta do?"
JD looked up at Nathan, who Josiah had now released. Nathan made a rolling motion with his hands.
"You have to let the others roll you back, then I think Nathan's gonna clean the wound and put back the stitches you've pulled out." Nathan nodded to confirm this.
+ + + + + + +
Buck co-operated totally, he made no complaint, he didn't try to escape, and while Nathan worked Chris explained what they thought had happened to him. Before Buck had time to question him about it, Nathan announced he was finished. As he stood to get a mug of tea for his patient Buck noticed for the first time how stiff and awkwardly Nathan was moving.
"You alright Nate, what happened to you?" Nathan's only reply was to shoot Buck a withering look, which he instantly regretted, he couldn't hold Buck responsible for trying to protect himself while only semi conscious.
None of the others wanted to explain what had happened, but JD couldn't bear the look of puzzled hurt on his friends face, so leant in close to whisper an explanation. Instantly puzzled hurt changed to mortified shame.
"Oh Jesus Nathan I'm so sorry, how could I. I don't know what to say I ." he stammered.
"Stop Buck," Nathan commanded, "it's not your fault you were unconscious just trying to protect your self, next time I'll have Josiah hold your feet down."
"If you think I'm going anywhere near his legs when he's off his head you got another think coming," Josiah commented deadly serious. Nathan looked around the room to find all the others felt the same.
"I believe that should the situation ever arise again Mr. Jackson, you will have to deal with the danger on your own," Ezra commented.
Nathan turned back to his patient who had passed out again. "Damn I knew he'd find a way to get out of drinking this," he said setting down the mug of tea.
Buck drifted in and out of consciousness for two more days before the fever was spent, but a low grade fever hung on for nearly a week which; with the wounds in his side and a collection of very stiff muscles made him weak, not to mention irritable and a generally miserable patient. JD did his best to keep him occupied and entertained. On the fourth day, considerably more comfortable, propped up on pillows and now able to lie on his back, he interrupted JD, who was reading the latest issue of the Clarion to him.
"JD I wan'a say I'm sorry for doggin' you last week, I was wrong, just don't seem to be able to help my self is all."
JD looked up and smiled. "You can't, I know that now." His eyes went past Buck the windowsill where the offending piece of wood lay, still caked in dried blood. Buck had looked at it with mixed emotions when Nathan had shown it to him, and still didn't know if he wanted to keep it or not. JD continued, "So I guess we'll just have to work around that. But I don't ever want to lose your friendship, so if you promise to lay off sometimes I'll try not to screw up so often. Deal?"
"You got yourself a deal kid."
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