Fallen But Not Alone

By Mary Ann

Main Characters: Chris, Vin, JD & the rest
Universe: New AU - In the Year
Not my guys, I just borrowed them for this story. This loosely follows 'In the Beginning.' **Like this - Head talking**

'What's going on?' Chris thought as he paused outside the door, glancing around the ranch. Nothing seemed out of place. Everything he could see from the rock porch was quiet and peaceful. The horned horses he could see in the pastures were grazing quietly. He turned away, something was wrong; he could feel it, his gaze turned to the trail leading up out of his valley. Nothing stirred.

Chris suddenly turned, grabbed his hat and raced to the barn, whistling shrilly for his horse. The black horse heard the whistle and was at the pasture gate when Chris came from the barn carrying his tack. Within minutes the stallion was saddled and Chris swung into the saddle urging the big horse towards the trail at a run.

Pony raced up the hill and thundered over the top, his long feathered legs covering the distance in great strides. Recklessly they raced down the hill trail and out onto the plain, heedless of the scrub brush that tore at them. Chris urged the black to greater speed; he could hear Vin in his head calling out for him.

Dust rose like a wave behind them, off to his right he spotted three more dust trails heading towards the line of trees and ravines over a mile away.

As the riders got closer, Chris slid his blaster into its holster, he could see it was Buck, Josiah and Nathan coming. He turned his face back to the trees that they were closing in on, then ducked as Pony entered them in a rush. Chris pulled the black into a slower gait as they ran through the trees, trying not to get knocked out of the saddle as he dodged limbs and tree trunks. He heard the other three horses and riders crashing through the trees behind him.

All of a sudden the big black was in the open, they had run out of the trees, and the ground was now falling away at a steep angle below them. Pony plunged down, almost like a cat, his forelegs reaching for the ground as they fell. A roar echoed around them as the black finally hit the sandy soil at the bottom, all four legs stiffly balanced as they landed safely. Chris breathed a sigh of relief as Pony stopped for a moment; they'd made it they hadn't fallen.

Above them the three other horses came to a sliding stop, forewarned by the roar from Pony. Buck looked down the 30 foot drop off, and as he scanned for a way down he smiled in relief that Chris and Pony were still upright and now moving along the bottom of the ravine, uninjured he decided. Making a quick decision he and the others followed along the top above Chris.

Chris guided Pony along the bottom of the ravine knowing the others were above him, and he knew Vin was down here somewhere.

Pony suddenly threw up his head and roared, breaking into a gallop he dodged rocks and jumped downed logs as he ran. He swerved around a huge boulder and a sharp corner roaring as he went. Ahead there were several answering roars and he put on more speed. Chris barely managed to hang on when the black leaped over an almost eight foot high pile of logs that blocked the ravine. The horse cleared them but fell to his knees when he landed, throwing his head back hard. Chris barely dodged the lethal horns that passed a hands breath away from the side of his head as the black fought to right himself. Before Chris could do anything Pony was on his feet again and racing once more along the ravine. Chris reeled for a moment in his saddle, he didn't hear Vin anymore, but with all the noise Pony was making he was sure they were close. He shot a glance above and saw a flash of grey as Buck's horse paced them, and was glad they were there.

With another loud roar, Pony raced around another sharp corner and slid to a stop almost on top of another big black horned horse.


"It's alright JD. You're not alone. Chris's comin', so's the others. They'll be here soon," Vin reassured JD who was lying on the ground under a straggly tree.

"Vin you should've gone, you could have been to town by now."

"JD shut up! You know I wouldn't leave you alone out here like this."

JD smiled tightly through the pain that flared through his back. "Yeah, thanks Vin," and closed his eyes trying not to let Vin know just how much he hurt. A few minutes later he dozed off and Vin got up and stretched then walked over to where the horses were standing and closely looked JD's pinto over.

They had been riding patrol when they'd seen what looked like a wolf trotting towards a stand of trees. Knowing if it was part of a pack and it was in the area, they'd have to warn everyone in the vicinity. If it was a loner, it would have to be taken care of before it attacked someone. They followed it and when the wolf saw them coming after it, it raced into the trees and they gave chase, trusting their horses to warn them if there were more wolves around.

The two young men had split apart when they entered the trees, keeping between 150 and 250 feet between them, in order to watch for the wolf better.

Vin heard a loud roar, then JD's yell and turned in their direction. Breaking out of the trees Peso slid to a halt on the edge of a steep ravine. Looking down Vin saw JD crumbled on the ground and Ms Patches struggling to rise. It took him almost 15 minutes before he found a place to get safely down into the ravine. Minutes later they were beside JD and Ms Patches.

JD was unconscious and the way he was laying scared Vin. He carefully ran his hands over the younger man and was relieved that he didn't find any breaks. He gently straightened JD and winced at the moan that came from him. Grabbing the bedroll off Peso he cleaned an area under the tree and laid the blankets down, he couldn't lift JD, not sure what was wrong with him, so he carefully pulled him over to the bed and lowered him onto it. Using a clean neckerchief he poured water on it and bathed JD's face then leaned back on his heels and bowed his head.

**Chris we need you, come quick. We're in the ravine to the east of the valley.** He sent, and felt the answer seconds later, Chris was coming. Vin sighed in relief, then looked for the radio that JD had carried on his saddle. Patches was standing with her head down and Vin found the radio on the ground near her and knocked dirt off it. Clicking the on the call button he called for help, a scratchy, something, came back over the radio before it quit. He didn't know if his message had been received or not, but hoped someone had heard.

He turned to Ms Patches and checked the horse over, talking quietly to her as he ran his hands over the flashy pinto. He found some soft spots on the horse's hip and shoulder and figured they were bruises. As he checked the horse's legs he was nudged hard when he picked up Patches left foreleg. Gently he ran his hands over the limb, not finding any breaks he carefully lowered it back to the ground. When he stepped back Vin could see the horse wasn't putting much weight on it. He hoped it was only a pulled muscle and nothing worse; JD loved the big dark red pinto and babied her constantly.

He send another thought to Chris, **Hurry Chris, we need you** and smiled when he heard the reply **Almost there.** Patting Patches on her shoulder Vin walked back to JD and sat down beside him, wishing Chris and Nathan was there.

Several minutes later Patches and Peso's heads rose and they both looked towards the eastern part of the ravine and suddenly Vin heard the faint roaring call of an oncoming horse. He smiled, help was almost there. The two horses standing nearby roared in answer, and then more roars echoed through the ravine at the approaching horse.

A sound of thundering hooves was heard and a loud roar as a black streak flew around the corner and slid to a stop, dirt flying as the horse sat on its haunches to keep from crashing into Peso. A moment later Chris was on the ground and hurrying over to where Vin was standing beside JD.

With a quick look at Vin Chris dropped to JD's side and then looked at Vin for an answer. Before Vin could say anything the three horses roared and were answered by several other horses and moments later three more riders arrived from the opposite direction, having found a way down just beyond where Vin and JD were.

Nathan was off his horse, his saddlebags in hand before the horse came to a complete stop. Minutes later hazel eyes blinked open and looked around at the men, "Hey, what'cha all doing here?"

Buck laughed in relief, "We're here to take you home, feel like going?"

"Yeah, now, this ground is hard and I'm hungry."

"Just lay there a few minutes longer JD, I want to make sure you are alright," Nathan said as he continued to check JD over. A couple minutes later Nathan smiled and sat back. "Looks like you'll be fine, going to have some beautiful bruises and a headache for awhile, but your fine. We can head home any time."

Vin looked at Chris for a moment, both smiling at the thoughts racing through their minds. Finally Vin looked at the rest of the men, "Lets go home. It's after lunch time and I'm hungry too. JD needs to ride with someone, Patches has a strained muscle."

Within minutes the men rode out. They followed the ravine to where they could safely get up its bank and to the level land above. JD rode in front of Buck, so the older man could keep an eye on him, he said, relieved that the youngster he'd taking a liking to would be fine.