The sound of horses brought Josiah from his light slumber, he jerked a bit then looked to the cell, the three prisoners were still there sleeping. He stood slowly from his chair, scraping the chair loudly across the floor, he glanced to the jail again, smiling sarcastically as the prisoners jumped awake.
"Oh, sorry, were you sleeping?" Josiah asked, mocking concern.
His response were groans and the occupants sarcastically saying 'ha ha'.
The door to the jail opened, Ezra and Buck entering quickly.
"Welcome home brothers," Josiah greeted, looking past the two for the others.
"Nathan's taken Vin to the clinic, seems someone shot the horse they was ridin," Buck enlightened, looking to the cell that the bounty hunters occupied.
"Hope he ain't damaged too badly, be easier traveling if he's not hurt," Alexander said, his confidence that he would get Vin was unmistakable.
"Gentlemen, gentlemen, gentlemen. Mr. Tanner will not be traveling with you anytime soon, or in the future for that matter. You see, Mr. Tanner isn't guilty of that of which he was accused," Ezra said easily.
"Poster says different," Stan argued, bringing out the poster from his jacket.
"Have you forgotten the context of our previous discussion already?" Ezra asked, walking to stand next to Josiah.
"No, I haven't.You got proof of that pardon?" Alexander asked, skeptical.
"Of course, Mr. Sanchez, where is it that Mr. Dunne keeps the telegrams from the judge?" Ezra asked, going through the drawers, pawing through each drawers contents. "Ahh..here it is..oh, my mistake.this is MY pardon from the judge," Ezra said, smiling as he lifted his head to the jail cell.
"Well, Mr. Dunne's filing baffles me, I guess we'll have to wait until he arrives and ask him, until then, I'm sure you will be comfortable with your accommodations," Ezra smiled.
"You're good Standish, but there ain't no pardon..and you know that," Stan said confidently.
In three strides Ezra was face to face with Stan, causing the man to jump back slightly. He grabbed the collar of the man through the bars.
"Are you accusing me of lying?" Ezra asked, his eyes on fire and his jaw clenched.
"I..I ..Was...It's just...I," Stan stammered, holding onto the bars so his face didn't smash completely into them.
"He ain't saying you're lyin' Ez, are ya?" Buck tried to ease, slapping Ezra on the shoulder as he said it, looking to Stan with concern on his face, "He hates it when someone calls him a liar," Buck pointed out.
"No..no..I was..I mean..we never seen no paper...about a pardon for Tanner that is," Stan defended, upon hearing this, Ezra released his grip on Stan.
"Come to think of it Ezra, I believe Brother Tanner keeps that pardon in his wagon, been there since he got it, way back in November," Josiah said, trying to give Ezra a way out and perhaps 'find' the telegram.
"That's right..JD gave it to Vin after he got it, remember?" Buck went along with the rouse.
"Well then, Mr. Wilmington, would you be so kind as to aid in finding that piece of parchment, as you know, no one should go to that deathtrap alone in the event that something should happen," Ezra asked Buck, then turning to the jailed men, "One could go missing and not be found for years in that excuse for storage," Ezra said, lifting an eyebrow.
The three peacemakers left the jail, Josiah closing the door behind them.
"So?" Josiah asked.
"Long story," Buck sighed.
"Shorten it," Josiah said, he was uneasy with the fact that Ezra had said something about 'when JD got back'.
"Well, it would appear that Mr. Dunne indeed played hero, rescued his brother, their steed collapsed, Mr. Tanner was injured, there was a rather large lighting storm, our shelter began to collapse, we left Mr. Larabee coercing Mr. Dunne out of the cave. One can assume that they should arrive with in the hour," Ezra digested the events for Josiah.
"That short enough for ya'?" Buck asked with a smile.
"Well, how we gonna convince them of Vin's pardon?" Josiah asked.
"After I stop by the telegram office I intend on a nice warm bath and a change of clothes, then I will relieve you of your duty and wait for the arrival of out delayed members," Ezra smiled, tipping his hat he went to the telegram office.
"I'm sure Chris didn't leave JD behind," Josiah said, noticing that Buck was looking to the end of town where they had just came from.
"Dunno Josiah, them rocks were fallen behind him and JD was fighting Chris every inch 'bout steppin' out into that storm," Buck said his head shaking.
"Go get warmed up Buck, they'll come back faster if you don't watch," Josiah smiled.
"Yup," Buck said, heading towards the bathhouse.
+ + + + + + +
Vin lay in the clinic, trying to convince Nathan that he didn't need to be there. Nathan knew the tracker was fine, but he also knew the first thing he would do once he left the clinic would be find his horse and go look for Chris and JD, something the healer knew he wasn't ready for.
"Nate, I'm fine..my head don't hurt no more, and I didn't need no stitches, I need to see if JD an' Chris are back," Vin said.
"Look, I don't need ya' ridin' out there lookin for them just cause ya' think they been gone to long," Nathan said.
"Well, they have," Vin stated quietly.
Buck knocked on the door and entered.
"How's he doin Nate?" Buck questioned.
"I'm doin fine, any sign of JD?" Vin asked.
"Not yet, Ezra went to the telegram office," Buck said.
"What for?" Nathan asked, wondering if Sweetser and his boys were wanted and Ezra had gone to wire wherever they might be wanted.
"I do believe he's trying to find you're pardon," Buck smiled, both Vin and Nathan shook their heads knowing what Buck meant.
"After he gets cleaned up, we're gonna head out an look for JD and Chris," Buck said after clearing his throat and fumbling with his hat.
"What ain't ya tellin' us Buck?" the tracker wondered, noticing that the suave man seemed agitated.
"Just hopin' Chris didn't do to much last resortin', that and the wind is pickin' up," Buck stated his concern.
"I'm sure Chris didn't hurt him, no worse than I already did," Vin assured.
"He don't need that wind comin' up though, guess I'd better get brewing some of that tea..you might wanna get some more blankets up here too..take him with ya'," Nathan nodded his head to Vin, who couldn't help but to smile.
+ + + + + + +
Chris was nearly in town, he had slowed the canter into a easy walk when he felt JD begin to stir, hoping he wouldn't have a repeat of what happened last time he'd woken up.
"How ya doing JD?" Chris asked, JD's breathing had slowed, but he was able to feel the heat on his own chest escaping JD's back.
"Fine," JD said, his voice tired and quiet.
I was afraid of that Chris thought.
"We just hit town, we'll get you up to Nathan's.." Chris said, not expecting any response.
"No..he'll make me drink that tea," JD said, he still leaned against Chris's shoulder.
"JD..it helps you sleep," Chris said, a smile crossing his face.
"It taste awful..makes me wanna throw up," JD said, he could see that they were nearing the clinic and pushed himself to sit under his own power.
"Can't be that bad," Chris tried to reason
"You ever tasted it?" JD asked sarcastically.
"No..but I'm sure.." Chris answered.
"I'd rather eat Buck's trail cookin'," JD stated.
"That bad huh?" Chris said with a slight chuckle, pulling to a stop in front of the clinic.
"NATHAN!" Buck yelled as he came down the stairs, spotting the two missing riders and JD's appearance, Vin right behind him.
"Ya' don't have to yell Buck, geesh," JD said from where he was attempting to steady himself against the horse he just climbed off from.
"Get him up here, I got some tea ready," Nathan said from the landing.
"In a minute Nate!" JD yelled up his response, "Vin..you okay to be out?" JD asked, taking a step towards him.
"Nate said I'm as good as ever," Vin said.
"Good," JD said. He looked at his brother, his face serious, he took another step forward then stopped as again things began to spin.
"JD?" Vin asked, taking another step to him.
"Oh sh..." JD didn't finish as Vin caught him, as he went limp.
"JD!" Vin , Buck and Chris said as he collapsed.
"Nice catch," JD smiled weakly.
"JD?" Nathan said, kneeling at the young man's side, slightly taken aback that he was wide awake.
"Nothin wants to work Nate," JD laughed quietly, but his puppy dog look couldn't mask the panic that shown in his eyes.
"Don't worry none, you just done worn yourself out is all," Nathan said with a smile
"Nathan?" JD asked, his eyes filling with tears.
"What is it?" Nathan asked.
"Stand me up, I don't wanna be carried up like a baby," JD said, his voice so small he sounded more like he was 5.
"Okay," Nathan smiled. Vin lifted JD's upper body, Buck grabbed one arm, Vin motioned around for the other, they both put the arms around their shoulders.
"Nathan?" JD asked again.
"What JD?" Nathan answered, through a half a sigh and a smile.
"I know, we'll get ya' warmed up," Nathan said, standing in front of JD. He turned to leave, taking a step, but the voice had just one more question to ask.
"What now JD?" Nathan replied, aggravation hinted in his tone.
"You ain't gonna make me drink that stuff, are ya?"
"It'll help," Nathan said, then turned and headed up the stairs.
"The only thing it helps is makin' me sick," JD mumbled as Buck and Vin literally dragged him to and then up the stairs.
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