Title: Foretold Dreams
Buck was having a wonderful dream about the Ebelson sisters when he heard JD yell from the room next door.
“What the hell?” he cursed as he fell out of the bed.
**Geez, not again! This is the third night in a row!**
Buck stormed out of his room and pounded o JD’s door. “Come on, kid! Wake up! You just ruined a perfectly good dream!” There was no answer, except for a few more yells coming from inside, so Buck pushed open the door.
JD was thrashing wildly on his bed, his blankets lay strewn on the floor.
“No! No! No!” JD was shouting in his sleep, almost like a chant.
“JD, come on now, wake up,” Buck said softly, moving next to the bed and trying in vain to control the struggling JD.
JD’s face was clenched tightly in pain and sweat was beginning to form on his brow.
“No! This can’t be right! Please, no!” he shouted.
Buck grabbed his shoulders and shook him. “Stop it, JD! It’s only a dream, wake up!” he shouted angrily.
All of a sudden JD stopped moving. “Buck?” he asked weakly, opening his eyes.
Buck sighed. “Yeah, it’s me,” he answered, sitting on the bed. “You gotta stop doing this, kid, you just woke me from a dream about them Ebelson sisters!”
“It’s not like I’m doing it on purpose!” JD angrily retorted.
Buck raised his hands in defeat. “Okay, okay, I’m sorry. What was it this time?” he asked, turning serious. JD had told him that he dreams he kept having took place at a funeral.
JD got up and paced the room. “It was the same dream! Except everything was clearer. Josiah was saying something, but I can’t figure out what. I could see Mary this time, she was crying,” JD looked down. He didn’t really want to tell Buck what he himself had done, but he figured he should at least say something about the matter. “You were pretty upset, too, Buck.”
Buck looked at him questioningly, but JD refused to meet his eyes.
After a pause JD looked up, his eyes filled with terror, “I saw the headstone, Buck! I read it! It was my funeral, Buck! Mine!”
The next day JD was sitting in front of the jail, reading a dime store novel. When JD had told Buck about it being his funeral, Buck had just laughed and told him to go back to sleep. He said it was nothing to worry about, people had those kind of dreams al the time. But JD didn’t think so. It was just so real.
JD looked up from the novel to see Buck standing before him.
“Chris wants us to go to the saloon. Says it’s urgent.”
JD nodded, “Okay. What is it this time?”
Buck shrugged his shoulders, “Your guess is as good as mine.”
By the time JD and Buck got to the saloon everyone else was already there.
“Hey, Chris. What is it this time?” JD asked anxiously.
Chris peered closely at the boy, “You look like hell, JD. You been sleeping okay?”
Buck opened his mouth to tell Chris about the dreams, but JD silenced him with a glare.
“I’ve been sleeping fine,” he snapped.
Chris raised his eyebrows. “Okay.” It wasn’t his nature to get involved with other people’s problems anyway. “There’s a man coming our way,” Chris began, “A dangerous man who......”
JD was dreaming again. It was the same dream, like always, only everything was getting clearer. He could partly hear what Josiah was saying, only bits and pieces, really, though. And was that Judge Travis standing by Mary? He could see Ezra’s and Vin’s faces more clearly. JD frowned If he didn’t know better JD would swear he saw tears in Ezra’s eyes. Vin had a look of guilt on his face. And there was Nathan, to the left of Josiah. He had a look of absolute sorrow on his face. Chris had pulled Buck to his feet and was saying angrily, “We don’t have time for this, understand? We have to go.”
And with that they all turned to leave, with Buck casting one anguish filled look behind him.
**Go? Go where?** JD wanted to know. He tried to ask, but the words wouldn’t form. Wait!, he wanted to call. But they were already gone.
JD turned and looked at the headstone again. JD Dunne. He blinked. Yep, it was still there. There was a light fog surrounding it, not letting him see it clearly. JD frowned. What was that written below his name? A date? He leaned forward to get a better look, not noticing the hole until it was too late. He felt himself falling into an abyss. He tried to grab onto something, but he couldn’t, there wasn’t anything to grab onto. The only thing he could do was scream.
JD lay on the floor of the saloon, stunned. Six pairs of eyes looked at him questionably.
“You all right down there, JD?” Buck asked, a smirk playing on his lips.
“I’d appreciate it if you tried to stay awake when I’m telling you something important, JD,” Chris reprimanded him, though his eyes were twinkling a bit.
“Oh, go ahead and laugh!” JD shouted angrily, getting up and dusting himself off.
“Did you hit your head in that fall, JD?” Nathan asked, concerned.
JD turned grateful eyes to Nathan. At least everyone didn’t think it was funny. “No.”
“Was it another nightmare, JD?” Buck asked, enjoying that fact that JD was not liking this one bit.
“Just shut up, Buck. Just shut up,” JD made his way to the door but before he could leave, Chris grabbed his arm.
“Whoa. What’s this about you having nightmares?”
“I’m not. It’s just Buck shooting off at the mouth, right?” JD turned pleading eyes to his best friend, silently begging him not to tell his secret.
Buck frowned, “Sure, JD, that’s what it is.”
“See? Now if you don’t mind...” Chris let go of JD’s arm. “Thanks.” And with that he turned and walked out of the saloon.
Chris and Vin both glanced expectantly at Buck.
“Well?” asked Chris.
Buck shifted under the scrutiny of Chris’ glance. “Well what?”
“I believe Mr. Larabee is inquiring what that little occurrence was just about,” offered Ezra.
Buck glared at him. If JD didn’t want him to tell, then he wouldn’t. “It wasn’t abut anything. Obviously Chris just bored him with stories of One-Eyed Jack.” Buck regretted the words as soon as they were out of his mouth. He would regret saying that.
“One-Eyed Jack ain’t nothing to joke about, Buck,” Vin said softly.
Buck sighed, “I know.” **Here it comes.**
“You better know, Buck,” Chris said sternly, “Since I obviously bore JD, you are going to be the one who goes and explains this all over again to him.”
Buck threw his hands into the air. When would he ever learn?
“Hello, young brother. What brings you here?” Josiah asked as JD walked into the church.
“I....” JD began, confused, “I don’t know, really.”
Josiah nodded knowingly, “Just in the mood for the company of God, eh?”
JD looked up at the ceiling, “Do you even think he’s here, Josiah?”
“I believe he’s everywhere, son.”
JD nodded. Of course Josiah did, he was a preacher.
“Is there something bothering you, JD? Something you want to talk about?”
“Yeah, actually, there is.” He wanted to tell Josiah about the dreams. He wanted Josiah’s opinion on them, surely he would understand more than Buck did.
“You know if anything is ever bothering you, son, you can come to me,” Josiah was saying.
JD began to slowly back out of the church. What if Josiah just laughed at him like Buck? He didn’t want to take the risk. “You know what, Josiah, just forget it. It was nothing, really.”
Josiah turned around from the candle he was lighting, “Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it? Because I-” he began.
But JD was already gone.
“JD!” Buck yelled when he saw JD leaving the church. “Wait up! I’ve got to talk to you!”
JD wondered if he should just keep going. To not even acknowledge the fact that Buck was calling him. But before he could decide Buck was at his side.
“Didn’t you hear me calling?” Buck wanted to know.
“Umm...No,” JD lied, still looking for a way out. “Were you?”
“Yeah,” Buck said slowly, looking at him suspiciously. He was about to press the matter further, but JD had started to say something.
“What?” Buck asked.
JD sighed, “I asked what it was that you wanted. ”
Buck shook his head to clear his thoughts. “Oh, right. Chris wanted me to tell you about One-Eyed Jack. ”
JD frowned. “One-Eyed Jack? How’d he get one eye?”
“Oh, that name doesn’t have anything to do with his appearance,” Buck hastily corrected JD, not wanting to let JD get the wrong idea and then be unprepared when he actually saw One-Eyed Jack.
JD looked at Buck in confusion. “Then whose appearance does the name have to do with?”
“His victims,” Buck answered solemnly.
JD stared at Buck in shock. “You mean he-”
Buck raised his hand to cut JD off. “Let me tell you everything first and then you can ask questions, okay?”
JD nodded, “You aren’t going to tell me in the middle of the street, are you?”
Buck smiled at that. Of course not. “No. Let’s head over to the saloon.”
“No interruptions until I’m done, understand?”
“Buck, I already told you I wouldn’t! Can you just get on with it?” JD asked impatiently.
Buck glared at him. He didn’t have to tell him. He didn’t have to open the old wound. Oh, wait, yes, he did. He’d have Chris to answer to if he didn’t.
“Chris and I knew One-Eyed Jack back when he was just plain ‘ole Jack. Me and him were pretty good buddies, but Chris never liked him. Said there was always something dangerous lurking beneath the surface,” Buck paused here, his voice becoming ironic. “Guess he was right.”
“During the time when I was friends with Jack I had fallen in love with a girl named Annie. In love, JD! Me! Pretty hard to believe, isn’t it?” Buck’s voice began to turn wistful. “She had the prettiest green eyes you had ever seen. Everyone thought so, everyone fell in love with her because of her eyes.” Buck’s voice became hard. “Even Jack. He was in love with her, too. If you can call it that. Some people, myself included, might use the word “obsessed.”
JD listened intently to what Buck was saying. He had a pretty good idea where Buck was headed with this, and he didn’t like it one bit. He felt awful for Buck, that he would have to experience this kind of pain.
“When he found out about me and Annie he became a man possessed. I was at the saloon when he heard. We had an argument, push came to shove, and I knocked him unconscious.”
With each passing word Buck’s eyes became more and more filled with pain. His speech was becoming slower, he didn’t want the pain to come rushing all at once.
“The sheriff was his friend so he locked me up. Everyone knew he had started it and why, but the sheriff was a friend of his, not mine. Chris had left town and wouldn’t be back for at least an hour, so there was no way out of it.”
JD noticed that Buck’s eyes began to fill with tears. **Here it comes.**
“I knew something was wrong while I was in that damn cell. I could feel it. Jack had snapped, he had become crazy. There was no way he was going to let Annie get away with this. He felt betrayed, although she was never his,” Buck paused here, this time the tears began to fall.
“By the time Chris came back it was already to late,” he began again, his voice barely audible. “We went over to Annie’s house and saw Annie’s dead body with Jack standing over it.” Buck began to sob here, the words barely able to get out. The pain had become to much for him to hold in anymore. He looked at JD with a look of despair on his face. “Her eyes! JD, her eyes! The window to her soul, forever shattered. That’s how he killed her, by shooting a perfect shot right through her left eye. Before ha could shoot her other eye, which I’m sure was his intent, I lunged at him, the gun falling out of his hand. I would have killed him, too, if Chris hadn’t stopped me. God, I wish he hadn’t,” Buck whispered.
Buck laid his head on the table and cried. JD was unsure of what to do. It was always Buck who comforted him, never the other way around. JD did the only thing he knew how, he reached across the table and took hold of Buck’s hand.
“It’s all right, Buck. You go ahead and cry, ain’t nobody gonna think less of you,” he repeated the familiar words.
Buck raised his head and gave JD a grateful look. A good kid. No, he would never think less of Buck.
“He was sentenced to hang but escaped the day before. He left a note, addressed to me. It said that he would be watching me for the rest of my life. And when I’m at my happiest moment, when I have found a person I care about more than life itself, he’ll take that person away from me. He went on a killing spree after that, after murdering his victims he would shoot one eye, always the left. And that’s how he got his name.” Buck looked at JD seriously. “I never told Chris about how I had loved Annie, I never told him about the letter. I never gave it a second thought, but now he’s coming to follow through on that threat.”
JD was confused, “Who have you found that you love more than life itself, Buck? Sorry to point this out, Buck, but you’re with a different woman every night.
Buck shot JD an incredulous look. Was JD really that oblivious? “You, JD. I’d die for you, kid. I thought you knew that. Jesus Christ, I love you like you were my own brother, JD, maybe even more.”
JD’s eyes began to fill also. no one, except for his mother, had ever cared about him this much. No, he didn’t know that Buck cared that much. He didn’t know that all of the men would die for him. He didn’t realize just how important he was to Buck, to all of them. He didn’t know that he was the groups best part. He didn’t how much all of them would grieve if something was to ever happen to him.
“I would die for you, too, Buck.”
A single tear rolled down Buck’s cheek. “I know you would, kid. I just hope it doesn’t come to that.”
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.....”
JD heard Josiah’s voice before he saw him.
It was like a fog had been lifted in his dream. Everything was vivid, not like it was before when he couldn’t really see anything.
“A fine young man,” Judge Travis was saying, “One of the bravest I have ever known.”
“You got that right,” Vin answered softly, in a grief stricken voice.
“He leadeth me beside the still waters.....”
“I will surely miss his exuberant nature,” Ezra said, tears glistening in his eyes.
“Buck, I’m sorry I couldn’t save him. It was just too late,” Nathan was saying to Buck, who was on the verge of a breakdown.
JD noticed that Chris hadn’t said one word. He was standing off to himself with a look on his face JD couldn’t read.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil...”
Buck finally couldn’t hold it in any longer. He dropped to his knees as he had done in previous dreams, repeating the same words. “Why? Why? Oh, God! I’m so sorry, kid! I never meant for this to happen.”
What happened? JD wanted to yell. Why was he dead? How did he die? Was it One-Eyed Jack? Did he make good on his threat?
“Thou annoinest my head with oil; my cup runneth over....”
Chris was pulling a sobbing Buck to his feet. “We don’t have time for this, understand? We have to go.”
Nathan stepped forward, “Chris, do you really think-”
“We have to leave now.”
“He’s right, Nathan. If we’re gonna catch the bastard that did this...” Vin trailed off.
Buck wiped the tears out of his eyes, his rage taking over, “Let’s go then. I want to kill that son-of-a-bitch now.”
“Josiah?” Nathan called out as everyone began to leave the cemetery, “You coming?”
Josiah nodded. “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever,” Josiah turned and slowly walked away with the rest of them.
JD was alone again. Everything was silent, not even a bird’s song filled the air.
JD began to slowly turn in circles, uncertain of what to do next.
H came to a stop when his eyes came to a stop on the tombstone.
JD Dunne it said, like before. Only this time he could read the dates written below it.
July 19, 1856 - May 21, 1873
The day after tomorrow.
JD awoke with a gasp. The day after tomorrow? That couldn’t be right.
JD quickly rose and got dressed. He had to talk to Josiah. Now.
JD loudly pounded on Josiah’s door. **Come on! Open up!**
Just as he was about to give up, a very angry looking Josiah Sanchez opened the door.
“What?” he snapped, his vision a little blurry from just having been woke up. “Oh, it’s you,” he said, his voice softening when he saw it was a very distraught looking JD.
“I need to talk to you,” JD pleaded, his eyes wide and scared.
“Come in, young brother.” Josiah said, backing up to let JD through. “Now what is it that is so urgent you have to wake me up at three in the morning?” Josiah asked, although he really wasn’t angry, he knew JD needed someone to talk to.
JD nervously paced the room. Would Josiah laugh at him? He didn’t think so. But would he take the dream seriously?
“I’ve been having these dreams,” he finally confessed.
“So Buck was telling the truth.”
JD frowned, “Yeah, I guess so.”
“What are these dreams about, JD?” Josiah asked seriously.
Josiah raised his eyebrows, shocked. “Your funeral? Are you sure?”
JD shot Josiah an incredulous look. “Of course I’m sure! It’s my name on the tombstone! Unless of course there’s another JD Dunne in the world,” he added sarcastically.
Josiah raised his hands. “OK, just making sure. You wanna tell me the rest? I’m guessing something must have happened to make you come over in the middle of the night,” Josiah said reasonably.
“You guessed right,” JD stopped his pacing and looked Josiah squarely in the eye. “The tombstone read May 21! Josiah, I’m going to die this very week!”
“Now, hold on, son. You don’t for sure that’s what it means. It could just be a random dream, not meaning anything.”
“How can you say that, Josiah? I’m dreaming about my funeral here!”
“JD, listen to a voice of reason. I know you’re shook up about this, but you have no reason to be! People have these kind of dreams all the time!”
“Now you sound like Buck,” JD muttered.
“Maybe because he’s right,” Josiah suggested. “Why don’t you go back to sleep, son? Tomorrow’s going to be a big day with One-Eyed Jack coming.”
JD was hurt that Josiah was acting like this. Making out his dream to mean nothing. Couldn’t anyone take him seriously?
“I thought you would help. But I guess I was wrong,” JD said softly, turning and walking out of the church.
Josiah watched him go, his heart heavy. He knew the boy was upset about the dreams, but Josiah was certain they meant nothing. But what if he was wrong?
JD was sitting in front of the jail, staring dejectedly at the ground. After talking to Josiah he had tried to get some sleep, but he couldn’t. He was afraid the dreams would come.
“JD!” he heard Buck call, shaking him out of his reverie.
He looked up to see Buck come towards him, a smile on is face, waving something in the air. “Looks like we won’t have to worry about One-Eyed Jack anymore. Just got a telegram saying he’s been killed!” Buck shoved the telegram in JD’s general direction.
“You sure this is real?” JD asked skeptically after reading it. It didn’t say who it was from.
“What is wrong with you, son? Of course it’s real! Why wouldn’t it be?” Buck cried, snatching the telegram from JD’s hand.
“Doesn’t it seem a bit suspicious, Buck? It gives no details, isn’t even signed, and it comes right when he was headed here!”
“JD, if it says he’s dead, then he’s dead! Besides, don’t you think that if he was coming he would’ve been here already?”
JD still wasn’t convinced. It was just too much of a coincidence. He was about to tell Buck so, when he caught the glint off the roof across the street.
“Buck! Look out!” JD yelled, pointing at the gunman.
“Shit!” Buck said, grabbing JD’s arm and pulling him into the jail behind him as the first shot rang out.
“Damn it!” Buck used his gun to break a glass window, shooting through it into the now ensuing gunfight going on outside. “Guess you were right, kid.”
There was no answer. Come to think of it, he hadn’t heard JD fire yet.
“JD?” Buck asked, turning around slowly, afraid of what he would see.
JD was standing in the middle of the room with a dazed look on his face and a gunshot wound in his chest, the blood seeping through his white shirt.
JD raised his left hand , which was now covered in blood, and stared at it.
“Buck?” he asked weakly, looking up, the realization of what had just happened setting in.
“You just hold on there, JD. You’re gonna be all right,” Buck said frantically.
Buck rushed forward to catch him as JD’s knees gave out and he began to sink to the ground.
“Just hang on, kid,” Buck whispered, tears forming in his eyes as he gently laid JD on the ground. God, there was so much blood. And JD was so pale...
JD’s eyelids drifted down. “What was that date again?” he mumbled just before he went completely under.
Buck tore off his bandanna and pressed it to JD’s chest. He had to try to subdue the bleeding, there was just so much blood. Where was Nathan when you needed him? Buck vaguely noticed that the gunfire had ceased.
**God, please help me.**
As if to answer his prayer, Nathan came rushing in.
“Is everyone all right-” Nathan began, but stopped when he saw Buck holding JD’s unconscious body, with blood all over them both. “Oh my God,” he whispered.
Buck turned pleading eyes toward Nathan, “Help him, please.”
Nathan dropped to the ground by JD’s prone form. “I can’t do anything for him here, Buck. You’re going to have to get a hold of yourself and help me carry him to the clinic,” Nathan said softly.
Buck nodded. He straightened up and gently lifted JD off the ground.
Nathan stepped forward to help him but Buck gently shook his head. He had to do this himself.
JD felt disoriented. God, he hurt. Why were people moving him? Didn’t they realize it just hurt him more? He felt a pain in his chest and gasped. Why did he hurt so much? Then he remembered the sharp pain of the bullet striking him. Oh. He recalled the initial shock of actually being shot. That’s right.
Someone was gently laying him on a bed. Stop! He wanted to shout, That hurts! He heard voices, but he couldn’t make out what they are saying.
JD began to panic. Oh, God, was he going to die? Was this his dream becoming a reality?
He felt someone place a cloth over his face and then remembered nothing.
“Do you have to use chloroform?” Buck angrily asked.
“Buck, just because he’s unconscious doesn’t mean he can’t feel anything. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t question my every move.”
Buck backed away a little from the bed. “I’m sorry, Nathan. It’s just....It’s just that I’m worried about him.”
Nathan sighed. This was definitely going to be a long night. “I know, Buck.”
Buck glanced worriedly at JD. “You can get the bullet out, right?”
Nathan didn’t answer. It was in pretty deep....
“Nathan! He’s going to be all right, isn’t he?” Buck asked, placing his hand on JD’s forehead and gently brushing the kid’s hair back. God, he felt so hot. It was just so unnatural.
“I don’t know, Buck. I just don’t know,” Nathan whispered.
But Buck wasn’t listening, he was deep in his own thoughts. “I should’ve listened to him about those dreams,” he muttered.
JD was dreaming again. He was at the cemetery, alone, staring at his own tombstone. May 21. Jesus, was he going to die because of this gunshot wound? He wasn’t sure, the date wasn’t until tomorrow.
JD heard the snap of a twig behind him and he quickly turned around.
What he saw made him gasp. There was a woman in a long, flowing white dress coming towards him.
A woman with glittering green eyes.
“Hello, JD,” she said, smiling.
“I know who I am, Darling,” Annie said still smiling, her eyes glowing brightly. “Just as I know who you are.”
“Yes, but what are you doing here?”
“I’m here to help you, JD,” Annie said as she seemingly glided up to JD and placed her hand on his shoulder. “I’m here to change your fate.”
“Change my fate? But why-” JD began, confused. What was going on?
“This-” Annie spread her arms out wide, “is your fate. Take a good look, JD. Is this how you want to end up?”
“No, of course not,” JD shivered, no he definitely didn’t want to end up dead by tomorrow.
Annie smiled again. Did she ever stop? “I didn’t think so. You’re a lover of life, aren’t you, JD?”
“I don’t understand this!”
“Of course you don’t, son. You aren’t supposed to.”
“But why can I change my fate? What makes me so special?”
Annie smiled once more. The light of her eyes almost blinding. “Because you are loved, JD. What more of a reason do you need? And because Buck doesn’t deserve to lose two people in one life time. No one could save me, JD, but you can save yourself.”
“Save myself, how?”
Annie raised her hand to quiet JD. “There’s time for that later, JD. I’ll be back, don’t worry. Right now you have to rest, you will be alone soon. There will be time for questions and answers later.”
“Alone? Where will everyone else be?”
“Later. Remember, JD, I’m here to help you. Don’t forget that.”
“I won’t forget. You’ll be back?”
Annie nodded, to JD she seemed to be fading away. “Say hello to Buck for me.” She said, smiling that smile of hers again. Buck was right about those eyes...Then she was gone.
Buck sat in a chair in front of the clinic with his head in his hands. Nathan ha kicked him out long ago, saying he couldn’t think straight with all of Buck’s pacing.
Buck couldn’t blame Nathan. He just couldn’t help it. The kid looked awful lying there so still. It made Buck’s heart ache just thinking of him.
As soon as he had stepped out of the clinic, four pairs of eyes had looked at him questioningly.
He could only shrug his shoulders.
So here he sat, while Nathan worked to save the kid’s life.
Buck couldn’t help but think this was his fault. After all, he was the one who had refused to consider the possibility that the telegram was a fake. He had just wanted to believe so bad that Jack was dead. He didn’t want to believe that JD’s life was in danger.
“Damn it!” Buck yelled, getting up to resume his characteristic pacing.
This was all his fault. It was his fault that his best friend, a mere boy who didn’t deserve this, was fighting for his young life.
“Buck, he’s going to be all right. He always is,” Chris reassured him.
“Was there any sign of him?” Buck asked wearily, sitting back down.
Vin shook his head, “I reckon he got out of here as soon as him or on of his men shot the kid.”
Buck ran his hand over his eyes. It figures that he would get away. “You realize we’re going after him as soon as Nathan says JD is going to be all right?” Buck asked Chris pointedly.
Just then Nathan came out of the clinic, a bullet in his hand.
“Well, I got the bullet out,” he said, stating the obvious.
“How is he?” Buck asked frantically.
“Well, he lost a lot of blood, which can be expected. And of course he has that fever. But I’m pretty confident that if he stays bed-ridden for a few weeks he’ll be fine. If he stays out of trouble for the next few weeks, he’ll be fine.”
Buck sighed in relief. He knew it was premature, though. Trouble always seemed to find JD.
“Can I go see him?”
“He’s still unconscious, but I’m pretty sure he’ll be waking up soon, so go ahead.”
“Thanks,” Buck said, knowing that Nathan knew he was thanking him for much more.
“Annie! You’re back!” JD said in his dream.
“I said I would be, JD,” she replied, smiling at him.
JD nodded.,“Of course. So, are you here to tell me how to change my fate?”
“Yes, JD. You must do exactly as I say, understand?”
“Yes, what is it I have to do?”
“You have to leave here. Now.”
“Because some of your friends will be leaving soon. Jack will come, and you will be killed.”
“Why can’t I just tell them he’s coming?”
Annie shook her head, “You will still die.”
“I just got shot, Annie! I have a fever, I’m sure. How will I leave without killing myself?”
Annie took JD’s hands in her own. “You must leave, right away. It doesn’t matter where you go, just leave Four Corners. When the times comes we will think about the rest.”
JD sighed. “So you want me to leave? How? I’m sure Buck, and everyone else, will be monitoring my every move.”
Annie smiled, “You’ll find a way.”
Buck watched JD as he slept. He looked so young while he slept, younger than usual. He was almost angelic, sleeping with a serene look on his face.
Suddenly JD’s eyes opened.
“Kid! You’re awake!”
JD’s head swam. He felt much worse than he had expected. And why did Buck have to shout like that?
“Ow,” JD gasped as he felt a sheering pain in his chest.
“You just hold still, son. You shouldn’t try to move at all,” Buck said, feeling JD’s forehead. He frowned when he felt the heat there. “You need anything, JD?” Buck asked worriedly. He wanted to make sure JD was as comfortable as possible.
Suddenly an idea came to JD’s head. He knew how he could get out of here, if only he could get up.
“Buck...” he began weakly, he was in excruciating pain. How did Annie expect for him to make it out of here? “..can you get me a glass of water?”
Buck frowned, “Sure, kid, if that’s what you want.”
Buck got out of his chair and was at the door when he heard JD call.
“Oh, and Buck, Annie says hello.”
About five minutes later Buck stepped into the clinic, JD’s water in hand.
What he saw made him drop the glass, making it shatter onto the wooden floor in a thousand pieces.
JD was gone.
“What do you mean he’s gone?” Chris demanded of a frantic Buck.
“Just what I said! I left for a moment, and when I came back he was gone!”
“What do you think happened?” Vin asked quietly.
“I think he left himself,” Buck confessed. “The window was left open.”
“Now to what purpose in the world would the young man render that?” Ezra asked.
Josiah and Buck shared a knowing glance. “It’s because of his dreams,” Josiah told them.
Chris frowned. “His dreams? Buck, I thought you said you were only kidding about him having nightmares.”
“JD wanted it kept a secret!” Buck defended himself.
Chris glared at Buck. “You still should’ve told me. What were these dreams about?” he asked, turning to Josiah.
“From what I gather, they took place at his funeral. They had him scared pretty good, Chris. That might be why he took off,” Josiah offered.
“If this isn’t the stupidest thing the kid has done...” Buck was muttering, but everyone could see the worry in his eyes.
“He shouldn’t be out there,” Nathan finally spoke up, “He just got shot, he’s too weak to be out there. I don’t even know how he made it out of here without passing out.”
“Well, it’s settled then. We’re going to go look for him,” Buck said, getting up to head to the livery.
“Hold on, Buck. What about Jack? We can’t have him out there. We have to go after him,” Vin said reasonably.
“We’ll split up. Buck, Nathan, you go find JD. Vin and I will go after Jack. Ezra and Josiah, you both stay here in case there’s trouble,” Chris said, rising also.
Buck nodded, “Sounds good to me.”
For a moment JD vaguely wondered if he was crazy. What was he doing, riding his horse out in the middle of nowhere? And with a gunshot and fever, no less.
JD gave a short, bitter laugh. He remembered what he was doing. He was changing his “fate.” He was following the advice of some dream he had.
JD sighed and wearily ran his hand over his tired eyes. He knew he wouldn’t be able to stay awake much longer, not with this pounding in his head.
And what of the burning in his chest? At least he had waited to leave until after Nathan had bandaged him. He was pretty sure it wasn’t infected, but it still hurt like hell.
Call him crazy, but he was actually starting to believe this would work.
About ten minutes later JD started to slip out of his saddle, the exhaustion and fever finally taking over.
Just as he was about to slip completely, he stopped.
Was that a pond up ahead?
God, he was so thirsty.....
JD urged his horse forward, his exhaustion momentarily forgotten.
When JD got to the little pond he dropped off his horse and stumbled over to the nearest edge.
He cupped his hands, savoring the taste of the cool liquid.
When JD looked into the water again he saw the reflection of someone he had the sinking suspicion was the infamous One-Eyed Jack.
And as JD felt the sharp blow to the back of his neck, the only thing he could think was, **Where’s Buck when you need him?**
Buck was looking for JD. He wasn’t as good a tracker as Vin, but he could get by.
He and Nathan had been following what they assumed was JD’s trail for an hour now, but they still had no sign of the kid himself.
“I’m surprised he’s gotten this far,” Nathan commented, breaking the silence. “His fever was pretty bad.”
“Look!” Buck pointed when he saw a small pond straight ahead. “JD would’ve stopped there, wouldn’t he?”
Before Nathan could answer, Buck urged his horse into a full gallop.
When Buck reached the pond, he immediately jumped off his horse, looking for any signs of JD.
“Hey, Buck,” Nathan called, “There’s some more horse tracks over here.”
But Buck wasn’t paying attention. He had spied what looked to be an envelope under a rock, and was now walking towards it with an impending sense of doom.
His fear was well founded. When Buck read the letter, his face lost all color and he dropped to his knees. “Oh, God, no,” he whispered, his heart breaking.
“Buck, what is it?” Nathan asked, coming up behind him.
“It’s....it’s....” Buck tried to tell him, but his voice was too filled with emotion for him to continue. Instead he silently handed Nathan the letter.
“You’ve come to care too much about someone, Buck. You were warned. Now you’re young friend will pay the price,” Nathan read aloud.
It wasn’t signed. It didn’t have to be.
“JD, I have some bad news,” Annie was telling JD, “You went the wrong way, JD. I’m so sorry, but there’s nothing you can do to save yourself now.”
“What do you mean?” JD demanded, a faint chill running through him as he listened to her.
“You went the wrong way, JD. He found you! There is no way to save yourself, JD.”
“I never knew I was had to go a certain way!”
Annie smiled sadly. “I know, JD. You were supposed to know which way to go. But obviously your fate has already been set in stone. You are meant to die today. There is no way out of it. Just like there was no way out for me.”
She turned an began to walk away, but a call from JD made her pause.
“There has to be another way! I won’t ever give up! I’ll find a way out!” he yelled, the defiance evident in his tone.
Annie turned around and gave JD another sad smile, “If there is a way, JD, I’m sure you will find it.”
And then with a flash of light, she was gone.
“I see my young friend has decided to return to the world.”
That was the first thing JD heard as he slowly began to open his eyes. It was a low, menacing voice. A voice he wished he wasn’t hearing.
JD grimaced as a pain shot through his head. He began to try to reach up to steady his throbbing head, but realized his hands were bound.
“You didn’t think I would leave you untied, did you?” Came the voice again. “Can’t have my means of revenge escaping, now can we?”
JD squinted against the bright glare of light. He couldn’t see the person, but he had a pretty good idea who it was.
“What do you want from me?” JD asked, struggling to sit up. The pain in his chest and his hands being tied made it extremely difficult.
“What do I want?” Jack shouted, coming over to JD and pulling him to his feet. “What I want is that son of a bitch Wilmington to be miserable. I want him to feel the pain of losing someone you love. And you’re going to help me do it.”
As this was going on Jack had been holding JD up, but then he let go. JD felt a wave of dizziness wash over him and he fell back to the floor.
“But....he...already... has,” JD struggled to get out as another sharp pain went through his chest, making it difficult to breathe, let alone talk. “You took Annie away from him.”
This seemed to enrage Jack even more. He walked over to where JD was struggling to sit up and gave a swift, hard kick to JD’s midsection. “Don’t you ever say that again! He took Annie away from me! That bastard is going to pay for it, damn it!”
“Oh...God...” JD gasped as he again felt the impact of Jack’s boot. He curled into as small a ball as he could, hoping to lessen the pain.
God, his chest hurt. He clenched his teeth, trying hard not to give Jack the satisfaction of hearing him cry out. Why couldn’t this man just leave him alone? Couldn’t he see just how much pain JD was in?
Jack bent down by JD, an evil smile on his face. He reached out to touch JD’s shoulder, but JD jerked away from him until he was against the wall.
“He’s going to pay with you,” Jack said, his voice taking on a crazy edge. “It’s a shame, you know. The only thing you’ve done wrong is befriend that bastard.” Jack rose and began to walk out of the room.
JD watched him go, his eyes narrowing. He hated this man. Hated that he took Annie away from Buck. Hated what he was doing now. This man will pay, JD vowed, not Buck.
JD would find a way out of here. He had come this far, he wasn’t going to give up now.
JD would destroy this man.
“I should’ve never left him,” Buck was saying to no one in particular as he and Nathan tracked JD’s tracks. “I should have realized he would follow the advice of some dream.”
“Well, I hardly think you could’ve know he would leave as injured as he is,” Nathan answered, trying to lessen his friend's guilt.
“This is all my fault, Nathan. Don’t you realize that? I should’ve taken care of Jack years ago. Now JD is paying for my mistake,” Buck said, tears welling in his eyes. He couldn’t lose JD now, not ever. He meant to much to Buck.
This was his fault, no matter what anyone said. He should’ve been more careful.
“Buck, you have to stop feeling so guilty. It isn’t going to help anyone, least of all JD.”
Buck sighed and looked down at the letter he was holding in his hand. JD in the clutches of this madman? It just didn’t seem possible.
“Nathan, we have to find him, and quick,” Buck said, his voice catching. “He’s out for revenge, Nathan. And he’ll do anything to get it.”
JD lay on the floor, staring up at the ceiling. He was trying to come up with a plan, a plan to get out of here.
It was hard for him to think with all the pounding in his head. His eyes had drifted down a few times, but he tried to shake off the sleep that threatened to overcome him.
He knew the longer he stayed here, the less chance he had of surviving.
JD frowned. What was Jack planning? Why hadn’t he killed JD yet? What was he waiting for?
Of course, JD couldn’t complain. He was glad Jack was taking his time. An extra minute just might save JD’s life.
One-Eyed Jack, as was he know, stood by the window of his small cabin and smiled in satisfaction.
He had waited years for this. He had been determined to end Wilmington the day Annie had died.
Now he could. Now he had the person whose death would hurt Wilmington the most.
He had the kid.
He also had an added bonus. Because it was Jack who would end the young man’s life, Buck would feel the guilt of it for the rest of his life, knowing that it was because of him the boy would die.
Jack glared as a mental picture of Buck flashed through his mind. Buck had every right to feel guilty. He took Annie away from Jack. And now Jack would take away the kid from Buck.
JD struggled to sit up, he knew he couldn’t lay there all day.
The ropes cut into his wrists and JD grimaced in pain. He vaguely wondered if they were cutting of his circulation.
JD went ahead and gasped as he felt a sharp pain in his chest. JD’s eyes narrowed as he remembered the feel of Jack’s boot connecting with his ribs. Yes, this man will pay.
With a renewed effort JD finally managed to sit up and lean against the wall.
JD sat there for a few minutes, trying to figure out what he should do next, when a flash of light caught his eye.
It couldn’t be......
Could it? JD wasn’t sure if it had been there a few minutes ago.
Was Annie helping him?
JD shook his head. That was impossible. To help in his dream was one thing, but to do this, no.
JD began to crawl toward the object. He wasn’t feeling the pain this time. He was too concentrated on what he was doing.
As JD’s hand closed round the small piece of glass, he couldn’t help but laugh.
He was going to get out of here.
Five minutes later JD’s hands were completely free of the ropes.
He his wrists, his eyes narrowing at the rope burns he saw there.
He bent over to untie the ropes that bound his feet and grimaced at the sharp pain in his chest.
He didn’t think his ribs were broken, but they could still be bruised. He’d have to remember to be careful.
JD struggled to his feet as soon as the ropes were off. He was unprepared for the sudden wave of dizziness that suddenly washed over him.
JD put his hand to his head, trying in vain to steady himself. The world seemed to spin about him.
JD crashed down to the floor, momentarily defeated.
JD struggled to rise again. He wasn’t going to give up, Jack would be coming soon. And when he did.......
Buck and Nathan had been riding in silence for about fifteen minutes when Buck finally spoke up.
“Hey, Nathan, what do you think brought on those dreams JD has been having?”
Nathan frowned, “I don’t rightly know, Buck. I think it’s something no one can explain. But maybe they will end saving JD’s life.”
Buck nodded, thinking. He sure as hell hoped they would they would save the kid’s life. He didn’t know what he would do if he was ever to lose him.
Buck frowned as he remembered something JD had said to him right before he ran off. “Hey, Nate,” he began, but he stopped. Maybe it didn’t mean anything.
“What is it, Buck?” Nathan asked, concerned. He had been worried about Buck and now wondered if his concerns were well founded.
“I was thinking of something the kid said....” he trailed off, not wanting to voice his thoughts.
“Buck? You can say it.”
A flash of pain went through Buck’s eyes. “Well, right before JD ran off he said something to me. I didn’t really give it a thought then, but now....”
“Buck?” Nathan asked, worried about the look in Buck’s eyes.
“He said that Annie says hello,” Buck said in confusion. “What did he mean about that, Nathan? Is Annie the one in his dreams?”
“Whoa, Buck, back up a bit. Who’s Annie?”
Buck looked at Nathan and again Nathan saw the flash of pain. “That’s right, you don’t know about her,” Buck said softly, more to himself.
“Care to tell me?”
Buck nodded and began to tell about what happened to Annie once again.
JD smiled triumphantly as he finally managed to stand without feeling too dizzy.
JD tried to open the door, but quickly found out it was locked.
He figured that was all right, because he didn’t know what he would do once he got out anyway.
He would just have to wait for Jack to come to him. After all, JD had the element of surprise.
**Looks like I won’t have to wait long.** he thought as he heard Jack coming towards the door.
JD held his breath in anticipation as he slowly watched the knob turn.
Buck and Nathan came to a stop as they came to a fork in the road.
“Damn! Which way do we go?” Buck asked Nathan, frustrated.
Nathan frowned, “I have no idea, Buck.”
“Damn, damn, damn! ” Buck yelled.
They had come all this way, and for what? To come to a fork in the road.
The tracks had ended few miles back, there was no way they could tell which way to go.
But there was no way they could turn back, either. They had come so far.... Buck wouldn’t give up now. He had a feeling JD was close. Real close.
Buck sighed, “Nathan, why don’t you go left and I’ll go-”
Buck stopped mid-sentence as he noticed something that hadn’t been there a few moments ago.
“Buck?” Nathan asked, looking at him and trying to figure out what Buck was staring so intently at.
Buck raised his hand, urging Nathan to be quiet.
Buck was staring at the left path. It seemed to shine with a bright light that wasn’t there before. The light was also lacking from the right side.
“Well I’ll be damned.”
“What?” Nathan asked, confused. He didn’t see anything.
Buck pulled his horse toward the left path. “Nathan, we’re both going this way.”
Nathan frowned, “Wouldn’t it be better if-”
“Trust me on this, Nathan.”
Nathan shrugged his shoulders and followed, hoping Buck knew what he was doing.
JD found the strength to stand tall and confident as Jack opened the door. Boy was he in for a surprise.
“What the hell?” Jack said in shock as he saw JD standing free of his restraints.
“Shouldn’t leave sharp objects laying around, Jack,” JD said wryly, holding up the piece of glass.
“That- that wasn’t there earlier!” Jack stammered, staring dumbly at JD.
JD realized that Jack was drunk.
**Well, this won’t be so hard then.** He thought, relieved. Right now he didn’t have the strength to fight Jack.
In a second JD would realize he was wrong.
“You little shit,” Jack breathed, coming to his senses and lunging at JD.
JD quickly moved out of Jack’s path, causing Jack to stumble.
The movement left JD winded so he wasn’t ready for Jack’s fist connecting with his gut.
JD gasped for breath and fell to his knees.
“Damn you, boy! You aren’t going to ruin my plans for revenge,” Jack said, pulling JD to his feet.
JD remembered why he was here in the first place. Because of Jack’s twisted vendetta against Buck. He felt an anger and hate rise in him that he had never experienced before.
“No, damn you!” JD yelled, pulling back and punching Jack in the chin.
“That’s for Buck,” JD said as Jack stumbled back in shock.
“And this is for me,” JD said, giving Jack a vicious blow to the stomach in response to the kicks JD himself had received earlier.
JD paused and placed his hand on his head to steady himself as his head began to swim again.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw Jack going for one of his pistols. Having no gun of his own, JD made a grab for Jack’s other one. As JD’s hand closed around the handle, Jack pushed him to the ground on his back.
Jack stood over JD, an evil smile on his face. “This ends now, boy,” he said, aiming his gun. “I had wanted to make it slow, but you leave me no choice, now do you?”
JD raised his own gun, his hands shaking.
There was a look of hatred that looked out of place on someone with such a boyish face.
“You go to hell,” he said, pulling the trigger.
Jack stumbled back in surprise as the bullet struck him. He seemed to be about to say something, but didn’t get the chance as he fell down, dead.
JD struggled to his feet and stood over Jack’s body.
As he saw where the bullet had hit, JD smiled faintly.
“That, that was for Annie,” he whispered, before finally giving into the darkness that had been trying to claim him.
“Did you hear that?” Buck asked Nathan frantically.
Nathan nodded, “Sounded like a gunshot to me.”
Buck was off, racing to the little shack as it came into view.
**Please, God, don’t let me be too late.**
Buck was off his horse before it came to a stop. He quickly ran into the shack.
Seeing a side door, Buck went over to it.
“Oh no,” Buck whispered, hurrying over to JD’s prone form and dropping to his knees.
He quickly attempted to find a pulse, thanking God when he found one.
Buck leaned forward and whispered softly into JD’s ear, “I’m sorry, kid.” He knew he couldn’t hear him, but it made him feel better.
“Hey, Buck, you might wanna come see this,” Nathan called, standing over Jack’s body.
Buck stood and walked over to see what Nathan was talking about.
Buck stared wordlessly at Jack, stunned.
Jack had been shot in his left eye. He had been killed by the same way all his unfortunate victims had, including Annie.
**Now that’s justice.**
Buck looked over towards JD, tears welling in his eyes, “Thanks, kid.”
Nathan placed a hand on Buck’s shoulder. “C’mon, Buck, let’s get him home.”
“You did good, JD. I knew you would,” Annie was saying.
“Annie! I thought you had left!” JD exclaimed, happy to see Annie.
Annie smiled. “I was there the whole time, JD.”
“So it was you with the glass?”
Annie shook her head. “It, too, was there the whole time. I just helped you see it.”
JD was silent for a moment. For once he didn’t know what to say.
“Thank you, JD, for finally ending it.”
“And thank you, Annie, for saving my life.”
Annie smiled and began to fade away. “I have to go now, JD. I believe there is someone waiting for you.”
JD began to wake and felt confused. He was lying in a bed, but how did he get there? Last he remembered he was still in the shack.
“JD?” he heard Buck ask.
“Buck?” he answered, squinting against the light.
“Where am I?”
“Nathan’s clinic, kid. Me and Nathan found you.”
A shadow fell across JD’s eyes. “Did you see Jack?”
Buck sobered up, “Yeah, JD. Thank you for that, kid.”
JD nodded. “I didn’t aim there, Buck. It just happened.”
“A lot of things seem to just be happening,” Buck reflected, thinking of the lighted path.
“I’m sorry about this, JD. I never meant for you to get involved.”
“It’s OK, Buck, I know.”
“Whoa! What do you think you’re doing?” Buck demanded as JD began to get up.
JD looked at Buck like he was crazy. “What does it look like I’m doing? I’m getting out of here.”
“Oh, no, you’re not,” Buck said, pushing JD back down on the bed. “Nathan said you need rest, and I aim to see you get it.”
“No buts! And by the way, what the hell were you thinking, running off like that! You could’ve gotten yourself killed!”
JD grinned as he listened to Buck get into his usual mother hen routine. It was good to be home.