Comments: Apologies for the swearing. This is a really short story but hope it is a beginning to many. Big thank you for Rachel for the BETA job done.
The Larabee Ranch House was lit from early morning. Buck had dragged himself into to the kitchen after a hard knock to find the youngest of the bunch fully dressed, hair combed and starting the coffee already.
Buck had looked at him as if he had seen a ghost for a few moments and then walked over to the fridge to get water. "Who are you and what have you done with the kid?"
"Funny Buck." JD jumped up onto the kitchen tabletop, pushing his neatly cut black locks behind his ears.
"Kid it's just a saddle being dropped off, what's got you so excited?"
JD sat on the kitchen tabletop his legs swinging back and forth. His smile was infectious, not that he was paying much attention to Buck anyway.
"I swear the chicken's ain't even up yet."
"None of the damn chickens can sleep through ya'll chatterin'," An answer from behind them had them turn around straight into a naked bum sticking out of the fridge.
"Jesus, Vin, at least put on some shorts when you come out of that jungle of a room."
"Why?" Vin grabbed the orange juice bottle and wandered back to the stairs.
"That man is an animal."
"Bet he has more animal magnetism than you Buck."
"Shut up, JD."
The sound of tires treading on the gravel had JD's face light up like a Christmas tree. "She's here!" He bounced off the table and rushed out the kitchen backdoor.
Chris appeared from the hallway, wet hair neatly combed, black pants and shirt in place. "You feed him Fruit Loops again Bucklin'?"
"Hey, don't look at me. Damn kid woke me this morning with all his scuffling in the house." Buck pulled his boots on and tipped his hat into place. "Wonder who this she is?"
Chris gave him his best deadpan look. "It's Harker's niece."
"Niece?" Buck's face lit up. "Cheyenne? How'd you know she is back in town?"
"I make a habit a knowing who's around."
"Of course you do."
The Jeep door was hardly open as JD flung his arms around the driver. "You're back."
"Hey JD." Arms enveloped around him and gave a hard squeeze. Her chocolate brown hair was tied back in two ponytails and she couldn't help smiling back.
Cheyenne Munro was the youngest niece of Old Paul Harker the cow ranch next to the Double L Ranch. They had met each other the same year that JD moved to the Larabee Ranch, and the friendship was set in stone. Being a loner by birth right (which was very far away from her high classed family standards) she would be there to work for the holidays. It was almost as obvious as jam that JD and Cheyenne would make friends. It was one friendship that JD held very much to himself even from Buck, but when she was in the area Buck would constantly complain of having to watch over the 'kids'. Though if you would look for the 'kids' you'd find Buck right by them.
It has been nearly 2 years since they have all seen each other. No wonder the kid was vibrating like a bunny on steroids this morning.
A tall shadow loomed over them, one hand in the pocket other tipping the hat. "Ma'am"
"Hi Buck." The tall moustache man stepped up for a "Buck Hug." Her perfume filled his senses as he pressed his face against her shoulder. He still had to ask her what the name was, cause no lady he has met ever has the that scent of perfume. "Didn't know you are back."
"It's spring break from College, I got in two . . . days ago."
"HEY CHEY!" A voice shouted from the patio.
Cheyenne held her hand over her eyes to see into the early morning sun. "Hi Vin."
JD paled and Buck gasped. "Go put some goddamn pants on!"
"I am so sorry."
"Why, nothing I haven't seen before." She snorted a laugh at their expressions. "Medical student here, hello . . . "
As Buck looked back to glare at Vin, JD nudged Cheyenne and spoked into her ear. "You study Psychology."
"Biology 101 mate." She smiled with a wink.
She took out the large handmade black leather saddle Chris had ordered and proudly put it in his arms. "One of a kind Mr. Larabee."
Tanner lifted his eyebrow and mouthed "Mr" to Buck. Buck shrugged back and turned back to them as Cheyenne turned to her Jeep. "Ok, have to get going." She stopped looked up at the sky and took a deep breath. Feeling a shudder ripple down her spine, she shook her head and opened the door.
"They still bringing in that new Stud horse today?" JD chirped giving her arm a quick squeeze.
"You bet." She kissed him on the cheek and waved to the others. "I hear he is a bit of a doozie."
They waited until the Jeep had pulled away until Tanner leaned forward resting his arms on the patio fence. "Mr. Larabee?"
Chris stood still, examining the saddle in his hands. That was the one thing he could never get her to stop saying. Personally, he just thought it was her way to be politically 'irritating' correct. Though seeing that it was the only grief he ever got from her, he let it slide.
"She ain't call me Mr." Buck snorted.
Chris rested the saddle against his hip and walked to the stables. "You want her to call you uncle?"
"No." the word alone gave Vin the jeebies.
"Might I enquire if you have attained yourself a new girlfriend, JD?" The Southerner's voice beamed from the patio, a cup of Espresso held gently in his hand.
Buck stood next to his little brother and nudged him with the shoulder. "Son, you're blushing like a virgin on her wedding night."
Laughter rung up from the brothers.
"Ha ha, very funny. I have to go get ready."
"Hold on Buckaroo. Breakfast first and second Milargo is still lame from the mole-hole incident."
"I'll take Jax."
"Come on Vin, I have ridden him before."
"He's still too green JD."
Buck scratched the back of his neck and pointed to the stables. "Well you're not going anywhere until chores are done."
"As Josiah's Chili Stew."
LATER THAT DAY
"Can I see it?"
"Freak," she laughed and pulled down her T-shirt slightly down. A small scar was visible just where her breast began.
"Does it hurt?"
"No, just itches."
"Seriously is it that small?"
She pushed softly on the scar and pulled her shirt back into place. "It's about the same size as a USB stick, just a little thinner."
JD took a sip of the coffee and pointed at her chest. "So what the doctor say, they going to do anything?"
Huffing a small breathe Cheyenne shook her head and booted up the computer. "No. They'll probably wait until I have must next big AF episode and then go look at the stats."
"But they get the readings from the implant daily."
"According to them because my 'episodes' don't make my heart beat faster than 180 beats a second, it's not a worry."
"How high does yours go?"
"In the 150's."
"And that's not enough?
"Guess not." She glanced out the window and walked to the back of the tack room for a rope. "Anyhow . . . . that is the way the cookie crumbles. We still on for the cross country?"
"We do it every time, why you keep on asking?"
"Just being polite."
"You? That level of sophistication is far above the abilities of a miscreant such as yourself."
"Hides to tough."
"Come on, they are here."
Buck bumped around the clutter on his desk in an attempt to find his cologne bottle. He knew for a fact that he left it there, but for the life of him couldn't find it. In his jarring, he accidently bumped a book from the desk and gave a loud curse as the book fell on his sock covered foot. "Of all the damn devils . . . "
He menacingly grabbed the book from the floor and tossed it on his bed.
Something fluttered to the floor and he growled as he plucked it from the floor. "If one more thing falls out I am tossing you in the trash." He growled at the book. Flipping the paper over he felt his heart miss a beat.
The old photo fell like a coal in his hand and his fingers slacked, letting it fall to the ground. The photo landed front on top and he couldn't bring himself to look away. It was a photo of a younger him sleeping on the couch and sprawled out on his chest a small black haired boy.
He hadn't seen this photo in 7 years. It was him and JD 20 years ago. The one secret he swore he would never tell; the secret he forgot about when JD walked back into their lives after being missing for 14 years.
Footsteps outside of his room barely reached him until a hand on his shoulder shook him out of his memories. Chris had to duck as a fist came out and his quick hands grabbed the lanky rancher by the wrist. "Hey, you ok man?"
"Chris? Sorry didn't see you."
No shit, Chris thought as he spotted the red eyes and quivering lip. "You ok?"
Dark blue eyes looked up and Chris spotted the paper on the floor. He took it and sat down hard on the bed. "Thought you destroyed it."
Buck shook his head, eyes staring blankly at the bed. "Thought I did."
Vin stopped at the doorway looking at the two older brothers funny. "You guys okay?"
Chris carefully moved the photo under his thigh and nodded innocently. "What's up?"
"There is a big storm moving in. Ezra just pulled up outside, Nathan phoned to say he is going to Raine after his shift ends and Josiah has been delayed in town with the AA meeting. He said that if he doesn't finish in time he'll stay and come home tomorrow."
"Thanks for the update cowboy."
"I can't get hold of JD."
Buck felt bile rise in his throat.
"Hey, he said he was going over to Harker's Ranch. You phone him?"
Vin felt like throwing Chris with a pitch fork. "His phone goes directly to voicemail."
"Maybe he is out of range?"
"Possible but doubt it."
Buck pushed himself up from the floor and picked up his phone to call the Harker Ranch. Fortunately, the office there was manned and Pete Bobs picked up. A few words on the phone with the Stable Manager and Buck tossed his phone on the bed. "Pete said he left about 30mins ago."
"If he rides that horse like he should be, he should be here in about 1 hour."
"Better not be taking his time," Vin mumbled and nodded his head to the window. The dark clouds moved towards the Double L Ranch at a steady pace.
The wind had started to pick up and JD pulled the lapels of his jacket closer together. What a day to be caught outside. The weather report spoke of a cold front moving over later this week; nobody was expecting the front to come in today already.
A short gust of wind brought the leaves up in flares spooking the young horse onto his back legs. The movement of the horse going front to back was so quick that the next thing JD knew his back was hitting the hard ground barely missing the hooves flailing above his head.
"You bastard!" JD growled and quickly lifting himself from the ground and grabbing the reins in an attempt to stop the horse from bolting. Bringing the horse to some calm his shoulders slumped and the pain from hitting the ground finally registered. It hurt to breath and he gently pushed his hand to his flank. Bruised ribs most likely but his hand touched his jacket pocket as well. Before he took out the phone he eyes closed and his growled. Now he knows why his flank hurts, the phone was busted, must have fallen on it when he hit the dirt. JD looked at Jax and shook his head.
He looked up at the darkened sky and felt a ripple down his spine. He has to get home quickly. Putting his foot in the stirrup, he swung himself up patting the horse on the neck as the frightened horse neighed in objection. "Hey I don't like this any more than you but I want to get home before those clouds breaks above my head. Chris is going to be pissed and Buck is going to skin my alive" He nudged the horse again and tightened his grip on the reins. "Josiah will probably have something nice to say about it."
The first sound of a thunder could be heard in the distance and Jax skidded to the side, barely giving JD time to grab his mane to stay on top of him. "Hey, hey, easy boy."
Clinching his legs tight to the horse JD pushed him to move. "Come on." He turned the horse and encouraged it up. He knew the area and there was a small building not far from here. He would face the wrath of his brothers but he could feel on the shivers from under him this horse wasn't going to get him home even if he promised him sugar and carrots.
The wind was picking up terribly and he gently nudged the horse up a small incline, grinning like a loon when he spotted the small alcove where the building was. "Come on almost there."
The horse neighed loudly and reared. JD barely held on as the horse landed of shaky legs. "Calm down."
The wind suddenly died down and a deadly silence settled around them. JD could feel his skin go cold as a rumble started and lighting broke above their heads. Jax bucked, his whole body turning to the side in his fright. JD hit the unforgiving hard ground shoulder first and sighed before darkness overtook him.
Cheyenne jerked awake on the couch she had fallen asleep on. She looked around disorientated and rubbed her shoulder for no reason. "Something is wrong," she mumbled and got stiffly up. The couch in the den had never been comfortable, but beat sleeping in a cold room.
She walked over to the big bay window and looked over to corrals.
Smell was the first thing to come back to JD as he lay on the cold earth. The scent of rain in the air and the slap of wooden shutters gave that extra push for him to wake up. His body was sore and stiff and he pushed his hand against his jaw, his fingers came away bloody. "Jax?!"
He stumbled up the steps of the small building and huddled into a corner, desperately trying to get some warmth into his limbs.
The wind whistled through the cracks in the roof and shutters. JD was freezing. His clothes were still wet.
Going down on one knee the young man looked up skywards. "Father forgive me for the sin I am about to do."
He made space in the middle of the building and dragged any wooden items he could carry to there. "Remind me to thank Vin," he mumbled to himself he pulled out the knife from belt. It was a present from Vin, and in the pouch as a flint stone.
"He's not here yet." Vin came in from outside and dumped his boots in the mudroom.
Ezra looked up from the newspaper he was reading and his eyes flicked between the brothers. "Did he maybe turn around and go back. Not to sound obvious but I do believe the young man would know better than to be caught in this weather."
Buck picked up the phone with shaky hands and dialed the Harker Ranch, his stomach doing flips. "Hey Ed, how you guys holding up over there? Good, listen is Chey there, please?"
There was a shout and a shuffle over the line. "Cheyanne, hello?"
"Hey Chey, it's Buck. Have you heard from JD yet?"
"He was here when the Stud horse came in, but left a while ago. Why what's wrong?"
"He's missing sweetheart."
"You telling me he is out in this weather?"
"Looks like it."
"Oh I am going to rip him apart," her voice growled and Buck moved the phone away from his ear.
"We're guessing he got stuck."
"Must I come out and help you guy watch... look for him?"
"No, we know what happens when you get stuck in the cold. Better you stay inside and keep warm."
He could hear her mumbling on the other side followed by a deep intake of breath. "Listen, I am just guessing but there is a small abandoned church between our ranches. We have been there once or twice. If I was him I would have gone there."
"We are going to have a talk where you two disappear to. 2) Will he able to wait out the storm there?"
"Yeah, the place is pretty much still solid."
"You're a star sweetheart."
"Buck, just find him."
Buck hung up and looked at the other. "Chey says there is an abandoned church between the ranches."
Vin knotted his brows for a few seconds then slapped his thigh. "I know where it is."
"What, now everybody knows of this place?"
"Hey, I just rode past not my liking to go to such a place."
"Shut up you two!"
Lighting struck and it lit the whole sky so bright like it seemed they could see Denver from their kitchen window. An eerie silence settled followed by the sound of thunder which was so hard that the walls of the Double L Ranch physically shook.
"Good Lord!" Ezra shrieked clutching his red silk gown around his body and dove for the floor behind the couch.
"The horses!" Vin shouted and ran for the kitchen door.
"Watch out for the lighting," Chris barked. He stalked to the couch and pulled Ezra from the floor by the scruff of his neck "Go help with the damn horses!" Chris turned his attention to the kitchen. "What are you doing Buck?"
Buck had grabbed his truck's keys and was busy pulling his boots on. "I'm going to go get JD."
"Buck, that is a suicide and you know it."
"You heard me right, Chris? JD is out there and I can't just sit here and wait for all this to clear up."
Chris grabbed Buck by the arm and spun him around back into the house. "I'm sorry Buck. I won't allow you to go."
"Get out of my way."
Chris squared his shoulders and stood his ground. "No."
More thunder rumbled through the sky and with it Buck's tenacity broke. "I can't lose him again, Chris." He stumbled back 'til his back hit the wall and sank down to the floor. "I can't lose him again."
Chris sank to his one knee in front of the distraught man and rested a hand on his shoulder. "Buck, I promise as soon as it lights up I'll be first on my horse looking for him. But I can't afford losing two brothers in one night. Vin said he knows where the Church is. Before you know it we'll have him back."
Puffy red eyes looked up; tear tracks over his red cheeks. "I should have stopped him this morning. I could have stopped this."
"You know the kid; he is as headstrong as any of us."
JD threw another piece of wood on the small fire before he curled up against the nearest wall. His flank hurt every time he breathed deep and he had stopped trying to clean the blood of his face after the bleeding started again for the third time.
He was in so much trouble he had thought about not going home at all. Was pretty sure he would find his way to the Harker Ranch on foot from here. But chance was his brothers would break the place apart in order to find his scrawny arse. Buck had told him to stay home or take the Jeep. No, he insisted he wanted to take the horse. Vin had told him the horse was too newly broke to take the horse in this weather. No he persisted he was an excellent horseman. Now he was sitting in a broken church, freezing, starving and pretty damn sore. "Nice going JD," he huffed and pulled his damp jacket tighter around him. Whichever way you look at it, he messed up. A cramp down his back startled him from his uncomfortable position. He groaned out loud as he wrapped an arm around his chest.
"Man a cup of coffee would taste good right about now." The rain started pelting the roof and ground outside. "Josiah's meatloaf would taste good," JD said softer as thunder rumbled over the roof of the church.
JD's eyes stung as the lighting lit up the sky and the inside of the church. "Even Nathan's cat-piss tea would work." He sobbed.
Knowing that Vin would have everything under control in the Barn even the nerves of Ezra, Chris settled down on the floor next to Buck patting his pockets for his packet of Cheroot cigars. "You remember where that photo was taken?"
Buck looked at his hands and smiled gently. "Won't ever forget, not that I know when you took it."
"I didn't, you know me and cameras never worked from the start. It was Josiah."
"JD was about 2 years old back then. His Mamma got really sick that night and the little squirt he was, he tried to help. I woke up to his screaming from downstairs. God alone knows how I woke up as I had a 'late' night if you know what I mean." He chuckled softly. "I ran down the stairs almost running over Josiah, take it from me running into that man's chest can be a painful experience."
"I can I remember some of it," Chris mumbled through his teeth as he lit the cigar. "We were busy checking fences and I was in bed early. Had this badass horse back then, not even falling off would stop the thing from moving. Uhm . . . . Vasti or something, he bit anyone who walked past him." All the while when Chris was talking, a sparkle came back into his eyes, a slight smile curling his lips up. "I didn't hear him or you that night. Guess I wasn't tuned into hearing a child's voice back then."
"If I close my eyes I can see everything like it happened yesterday." Buck shifted his legs straight as the strain on his knees became too much. "I was sleeping the sleep of the dead. It felt like I had just closed my eyes when I heard it. Don't ask me what it was it was so soft but I heard it. Which is a miracle on its own because you know I don't wake for anything."
Both brothers laughed at that.
"Anyway next thing I know I was up and running down the stairs in a time which would have made my drill sergeant praise the lord. Nearly got a concussion from running into Josiah, first time I heard him so openly swearing at the devil. And there the little bloke was screaming for his Mamma who wouldn't wake up."
"Did you even think what you were going to do with him? I mean what did you know about looking after a kid?"
"Nothing, but after having him around for 2 years you learn a few things here and there."
"You were hardly at home, any of us for that matter."
"Service did keep us away a lot back then." Another lightning bolt struck the sky above then and Buck swallowed down the queasiness threatening to overtake him again. "God, I hope he is safe."
"Hey, tell me the rest of the story."
"Nothing much to tell. I grabbed him and Josiah tried to help his Mamma. Didn't even see you I was running over the show too much."
"I got there when the doctor showed up."
"Things change when you have your own kid hey?"
Chris smirked, absentmindedly turning his wedding ring around his finger. "Like morning sunrise brother."
"I can't remember why he was wet and to tell you the truth I really don't want to. Grabbed clothes from his dresser he and his mama shared ran up to the large bathroom to try and get him cleaned. The kid is 23 now and he still makes a mess when he bathes. Took a while but he calmed down later on, stubborn little cuss fought me to the end. I would say 'you have to go sleep' and he would snapback 'JD weady swept'". Buck's impression of a 2-year-old made Chris snort a hard laugh.
"And the rest as you know is history."
Chris put his hand on Buck's shoulder and pushed himself up. "I'm going to the barn to go check on those two. Buck, if you take any of the cars to leave, I'll shoot your tires out. You understand?"
Buck stared out the window and gave a soft nod.
"Buck, I am serious. "
"I know Chris." He watched as Chris walked out the kitchen door toward the barn and pulled his knees up to his chest again.
The memories were flooding his mind like a flash storm. And right now he didn't have the energy to try and block them.
The moment he had held that frail little body in his arms his world had melted. An instant bond set in blood. Media makes you think that babies come out looking like a hallmark card the truth is far from it. Puffy and covered in white goop that can be unsettling to a queasy stomach, but at that moment, he hadn't cared. JD's momma had been so weak that night he was born they didn't know if she would make it. Their Pa had just walked off, only years later they would find out if was guilt that made him walk away and not irrelevance like their first thought off.
One of the older more experienced maids had cleaned little JD and by some luck of the draw Buck had ended up with the little guy back in his arms.
He was away on deployment and came back to an empty house and a Pa who finally told him he was JD's father. Having the boy live under their roof for virtually 3 years without ever knowing he was their brother. Buck can remember grabbing his Pa by the throat seeing red as the old man stuttered his penance. He had called Chris who was away somewhere in the North Atlantic with the NAVY. Even gotten hold of Josiah while he was serving as Pastor at an Army Base. But he could never remember what they had actually told him. All he could remember is standing up from the cold timber floor with a carved wooden horse clutched in his hand vowing that he would find him.
All hats off to Rachel Dunne, if she wanted to disappear she got the job done. And one of his big regrets was that he never had the chance to ask her why she ran with JD.
In the years that followed their family grew with the addition of Nathan, Ezra and Vin. And he kept on searching. The time that Josiah lost his faith in a battle with the wrong kinds of spirits. Through Chris meeting Sarah and then loosing Sarah and Adam in the fire. He kept on searching. Through the years of pain and suffering, he had battling other's demons, searching for their baby brother was the one thing that had kept him sane. Until that fateful day he got a call from one of his detective buddies saying that he had found him.
Buck smiled as the thought came to mind that the room JD was born in was now Ezra's room. If Ezra only knew the history of what had happened between those 4 walls.
The early lights of the sunrise spilled over the horizon as 3 riders crested the hill towards the alcove.
The sun starts starting to settle in the early morning as they reached the small building.
"The kid has done some stupid things," Buck jumped off his horse and headed for the Church steps. "You stupid son of a . . . " the words died on his lips as he looked up into his little brother. The bruise on JD's cheek stood out vividly against his pale white skin. "JD?" His legs brought him right up to the lonely figure.
"I'm sorry," Tears spilled from the hazel brown eyes and Buck threw his arms around the shaking body.
"Hey, it's ok."
"I tried to make it home," JD sobbed snaking his arms under Buck's warm jacket.
"Why didn't you call, we would have come for you?"
"Phone broke." JD's voice muffled against his brother's chest.
Chris walked up to them and rested a hand on JD's back. "Where it Jax?"
JD started crying again. "He got spooked. I didn't mean for it to happen," he gasped.
Buck sat down on the steps and lowered JD with him. Slipping off his jacket, he wrapped it around the shaking body. "What happened?"
JD pointed to the side of the Church he guessed Jax ran off in, and with a nod, Vin went to investigate. "I was on my way home from Harker's ranch. The wind starting picking up something awful. I remembered this place and I thought that I could stay here until it stopped and then make my way home."
"Higher ground, hey kid?"
"When I got here is when the Thunder started. Jax wouldn't calm down he spooked and took off." A chill ran down JD's body and he looked up with glazed eyes. "I tried to stop him, Chris, I promise. He just kept on."
"Hey things happen. You're ok right?"
They laughed and Buck's patted JD on the shoulder. "Soon as we get home we'll get you warmed up and fed." He put the back of his hand against JD's left temple and felt the tell-tale signs on a fever.
They turned to find Vin and Chris nodded. "Glad you're ok." Chris jogged over to the tracker, missing the water puddles with ease. "What you find?"
"You'd better see this."
Buck watched the other brothers disappear and looked back to their youngest. Inside he felt like he was going to explode but from the looks of this JD wasn't too far behind him. "How did your phone break?"
JD looked at the ground. "That big thunder rumble really shook Jax to the core. He reared and bucked, and then just took off. I tried to stop him but he was too strong. He lost his footing and we both went down. I fell on the phone though."
"I swear boy, the sky ripped apart at that moment."
"How'd you know where to find me?"
"Good thing she remembered this place as well."
"Yeah well I think she is going to rip you a new one when she gets hold of you, she was just as worked up."
"Can you hide me?"
"Kid, remember that time when we met her?"
"It was the cross country gymkhana."
"Yep, the rider for Harker got tossed and refused to get back on. So this total unknown person jumped up and rode that monster of a horse. Got thrown off 3 times but still finished."
"I heard she hit the horse with a fist through the face."
"Knowing her I would not say that is impossible. So sorry bub, but doubt even God can hide you from someone so determined like that."
JD looked down to the ground. "Well doubt God is too pleased with me either." He looked back up at Buck's questioning face and lifted his one soot-covered hand. "I made a fire in the church."
Vin pointed to the ravine a little away from the church and Chris's heart sank. Jax's lifeless body laid tail over head in the ravine. "You can see there," Vin pointed to marks on the ground closer to the church. "JD tried getting the horse to either stop or turned around. And here is where they both took ground."
"Explains that bruise on his face and the horse?"
"Neck snapped it would have been quick."
"Let's get the kid home and then come deal with this. Don't think he needs to see this right now."
Chris stopped when Vin's hand landed on his shoulder. "What was Buck going on about losing JD before?"
"Not the time for that."
"What's going on Chris?"
"Somethings you don't have to know Vin. Best leave Buck with his demons."
A car door slamming from outside startled Buck to his feet from the chair he had been sitting in.
A familiar deep voice bellowed from below.
"Holy Mother of God, is this house still standing!"
Josiah, the voice that could evoke God and scare the dead out of their slumber at the same time. The only brother still missing was Nathan, but guessing from the time, he would be at work by now.
JD had doubled up with Buck on Beavis and rode mostly in silence back to the Ranch House. The air was nippy for the early hours, but quarrel as much as the kid did Buck had insisted JD take his jacket. Kid's lips were already a shade of blue.
After a hot shower and a hearty breakfast, the kid look more like a human instead of the pale wraith. The brothers had stood in silence as Cheyenne had called and yelled at JD over the phone. Her voice could clearly be heard by all in the room, even though she was not on speaker phone. Ezra had gotten a poke in the ribs from Chris after his "Devil Woman" comment.
Buck had done his best to keep JD occupied after that, as Chris and Vin had slipped out the house to go bury Jax.
That was 6 hours ago.
The door slowly opened and a hand with a mug appeared. "I bring a peace offering."
Buck eyed the tracker as the wiry man came in and softly walked over to them.
"No need to whisper, he's far away in la-la land," Buck took the mug and nodded to a chair giving the younger man permission to sit.
"How is he?"
Buck rested his knuckles against JD's forehead and neck. "Slight fever, but this is JD we're talking about. Be sick as a dog by tomorrow."
Silence settled in the room before Buck pointed to a scrape on Vin's hand. "You buried him?"
"Thought it would be fitting that we bury him on 'holy ground' so to say."
"The kid is totally broken up about it."
"I warned him that horse was not ready."
"Vin, the kid . . ."
"No Buck, listen. That horse was green but I know JD was more than capable to handle him. What happened was out of anybody's control. I can't even remember when last I saw a thunderstorm which actually shook the walls of a house. Ezra screamed like a girl every time. Don't ask him he'll deny it."
"You saying things could have gone worse?"
"As strange as it sounds I think JD falling off was what saved his life. The way we found Jax, I can only guess that if JD was sitting on top of him, he would either be dead now or paralyzed."
Vin was about to get up when he looked Buck straight in the eyes. "Buck, are you ok?"
"Fine, thank you."
"No you're not."
Buck leaned forward and put his large hand on Vin's forearm. "Somethings are better off being forgotten. You can't help with this either way, Junior. Just leave it there."
Watching Vin close the door behind him Buck let go of the chill he was holding back and breathed out of his mouth as the feeling ran down his spine. Must he tell JD? Will it change anything if he does? From what JD has said, it sounded like Rachel didn't tell him the 'whole truth'. Would it change the blessed memories the kid had of his mother if he knew that she lied about his life?
His mind was made up. Buck leaned forward and softly kissed his brother on the head before he got up and walked to the trashcan. He unfolded the photo he has kept in his pocket and smiled at the image which would be forever embedded in his mind. Taking a lighter from his back pocket Buck lit up the photo and watched the only evidence of JD's past burn away slowly in his hand.
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