Buck shook his head as he pulled the blanket up around the youth's shoulders,"Nothing for you to worry about."
JD frowned, if Cooper was no longer a threat that left...."You're going after Murray aren't you?"
"You've been through a lot,JD."Buck replied avoiding the question,"You get some rest and I'll be....."
JD grabbed the older man's arm,"I need to see this through,Buck. If you are going after Murray I'm coming with."
Buck shook his head as he gently pried the youth's hand from his arm,"No, son, you're not."He said softly as he leaned back,"You need to rest. Let Chris and I handle this."
JD sat up slowly starting to throw the blanket away from him,"I've rested plenty,Buck. I'm goin'."
Buck frowned,"Didn't you hear Vin and Ezra? The girl's death wasn't your fault. There's no reason for you to go after Murray."
JD glared at his friend,"Just because it wasn't my bullet doesn't mean I don't feel responsible! Don't fight me on this Buck, I'm goin' with wether you like it or not."
Buck studied JD for a moment then sighed,"Fine. At least let me get some food in you I don't want you fallin' off the horse when you're watchin' my back."
+ + + + + + +
Outside the livery Chris had just mounted his horse when Vin caught his attention.
Turning the black clad gunslinger followed the tracker's gaze. He frowned seeing JD riding along side Buck.
"You gonna say somethin'?"Vin asked quietly as he moved his horse along side Chris's.
Larabee shook his head,"Nope. Its JD's business. He has a right to see it through to the end."
"Even if he can barely sit straight in the saddle?"Vin replied as he tipped his hat back.
Chris glanced back at JD. The youth was pale and thiner than Chris had ever seen him. But his eyes were clear and his hands were steady. That was good enough for him.
"He'll be fine."Larabee replied softly before he moved his horse out into the street to meet Buck.
"You ready?"Chris asked his old friend as Ezra stopped his horse next to Vin's.
Buck glanced back at JD as if to give the kid a last chance to back out but JD only nodded,"Let's get this over with."Wilmington replied with a sigh as he kicked his horse into a gallop.
+ + + + + + +
Mary Travis had long since lost count of how many times she had dipped the piece of cloth into the wash basin and then placed it on the Judge's forehead.
The method didn't seem to be having any affect on his fever but Mary continued to do it anyway.
Hoping against hope that they would get a miracle.
Hoping that Chris had received her telegram and that somehow he would find the antidote.
The blonde woman jumped slightly as a hand was gently placed on her shoulder. She glanced back to see Nathan's concerned face.
"Its nearly supper time,Mary."The healer replied softly,"Why don't you get something to eat and I'll take over here."
Mary shook her head as she placed her hand over his,"I'm not hungry, but if you want to......"
Nathan shook his head as he moved away from her to check on Travis's vital's.
"Nathan,you've done everything you could,"Mary replied softly,"Billy and I are grateful for that."
Nathan's right fist balled in frusteration,"I just wished I had somethin' more to work with,Mary."He said quietly,"Maybe then I would have had a chance."
They both jumped at the knock at the door.
Mary frowned as she stood,"Was that a knock? It sounded more like a thud."
Nathan held up his hand to silence her as he moved to his dresser. He pulled his revolver from the gunbelt and walked toward the door.
He cocked the hammer as he cautiously opened the door.
Mary gasped as Josiah fell into the room.
+ + + + + + +
"We have a plan?"Buck asked as they stopped a half mile from Murray's ranch.
"Have we ever had one before?"Chris asked with a grim smile as he glanced at Vin.
"I counted fifteen ranch hands tendin to the horses."Tanner stated,"No tellin' how many others there are."
"I suggest that we use the cover of nightfall to aide our quest."Ezra interjected as he glanced at the gathering dusk.
"With that many cowhands Murray's goin' know we're comin' ethier way."JD replied,"I vote we go now."
Buck glared at the younger man,"You just barely got your head out of a hangman's noose,son! Do you want a bullet in the chest?!"
JD"s hazel eyes flared with anger,"I can take care of myself,Buck!"
"You've done a great job so far!"Wilmington replied the fear in his eyes showed his anger wasn't solely directed at the youth.
"Enough!"Chris shouted gaining everyone's attention,"We're all tired. I agree with Ezra we'll wait for nightfall untill then let's make camp."
+ + + + + + +
Nathan caught the big man before he hit the floor. Mary quickly crossed the room to help Nathan ease Josiah into a chair.
"You should've told me you were hurt."Nathan admonished his friend gently as he examined the bullet wound on Josiah's left side which was now bleeding steadily.
Sanchez shook his head,"Its nothin'."
Nathan glared at him,"If it was nothin' you wouldn't have fallen into the room just now. Just sit back and let me stich this up."
Josiah grasped his friend's hand and pulled it back. Silently he reached over and pulled the small brown pouch he had attached to his gunbelt.
Gingerly he handed it to Nathan,"The antidote's inside."
+ + + + + + +
With only an hour till nightfall Chris,Buck and Ezra hammered out the details of the plan over a quick meal of biscuits and jerky. Vin had left camp a few minutes earlier to get a closer look at Murray's ranch.
With the final detail settled Buck glanced over at the kid who was seated at his right. JD had been uncharasticly quiet while Chris talked the plan over. Buck was more concerned with the fact that the kid had barely touched his food.
"JD,"Wilmington said softly as he turned to face the youth,"You can leave and go back to town and no one here would think the less of you."
JD rose to his feet,a little too quickly for some of his injuries but he ignored the pain,"I would."He replied quietly as he met the older gunslinger's concerned gaze,"Only cowards turn tail and let others do what they should be doing."
Then before Buck could convince him otherwise JD turned and walked slowly over to the opposite side of camp where the horses were tethered.
Chris knelt down beside his old friend as they watched the youth pack things away in the saddlebag.
"He'll be okay,Buck."Larabee stated softly,"I wouldn't have let him come along if I thought otherwise."
Buck took his hat off in frusteration,"I just wish he would talk to me. I've seen things like this eat a man alive. He knows the girl's death isn't his fault but he still feels responsible. I just don't want him to cross a line tonight that he won't be able to cross back from."
+ + + + + + +
Nathan stood and quickly moved over to the dresser. He took the small vile of purple liquid out of the small bag.
Taking a cup from the corner of the dresser he poured a small amount of water in it.
Nathan picked up the vile and studied the liquid for a moment. The purple color and lack of smell bothered him.
For all they knew this could just be colored water.
But from what Josiah had told him this had to be the antidote.
Sending off a silent prayer Nathan poured the purple liquid into the water and swirled them together to mix it.
Turning Nathan caught Mary's attention,"Miz Travis, I need you to prop the Judge up so he can drink this."
Josiah started to get up to help Mary but a sharp glare from Nathan sent him back down.
"You sit."Nathan ordered as he walked past Josiah,"Your wound isn't serious but you've lost a lot of blood."
"How was JD?"Mary asked to keep Josiah occupied. She knew he was worried about what was going on in Coral Canyon.
Josiah sighed as he rubbed a weary hand along the back of his neck as he leaned back in the chair,"Physically he's alright, he was asleep when I left."
"Orin,"Mary said to her father-in-law,"We need you to drink this. It'll make you feel better."
The Judge's eyes were barely open but Nathan knew the older man could hear them.
It took a few moments but finally Nathan was able to coax the Judge to drink the purple liquid.
"Now all we can do is wait."Nathan said softly as he stepped back from the bed.