He could hear the bullets whizzing by him, but it felt as if he wasn’t there. This wasn’t him standing in the middle of a raging gun battle, motionless. No, he would never do that. He knew people weren’t supposed to do that; you could easily get killed. But here he was.
And suddenly he remembered why he had run into the street. He saw the man no one else saw. The one who was about to shoot Nathan in the back. If there was one thing JD had learned since coming out West, it was that you didn’t shoot anybody in the back. His first words of wisdom from the great Chris Larabee. He would never forget them.
He knew he had to risk his own safety for Nathan. He had to step out into the open to do it, too.
But what he didn’t see, of course, was the man who was about to shoot *him* when he did.
He didn’t notice him, either, until after he had gunned down that villain who was about to shoot Nathan. Just as he was about to breathe a sigh of relief, he saw him.
JD became frozen. He couldn’t move; he couldn’t save himself. He could hear Buck yelling at him, but JD couldn’t do anything to save himself.
**I would do it again, Nathan. No regrets,** JD thought, as he stared into the other man’s eyes, knowing he was about to shoot.
Then, out of nowhere, the man started to crumble to the ground. Even from a distance JD could see the life draining out of him.
JD quickly glanced around, wondering who had saved his life.
“Vin,” JD whispered with relief, seeing the tracker tip his hat towards him from his position on the saloon roof.
Suddenly, a hand grabbed his arm, pulling him out of the street and back to reality.
“What the hell were you doing?” Buck demanded, his voice angry but the fear evident in his eyes.
JD started to answer to defend himself, but he was cut off as Buck began to yell in full force.
“God damn it, JD, what were you doing in the middle of the street like that? If it wasn’t for Vin you’d be dead right now!” After this, Buck paused for a breath.
JD opened his mouth to defend himself, but Buck had already started up again.
“Do you realize how close you just came to being killed?” Buck asked, beginning to pace, throwing his hands into the air.
“But I didn’t, Buck! I’m fine. Nathan would have gotten hurt if I hadn’t--”
“*You* would have been hurt if I hadn’t pulled you back when I did!” Buck shouted, cutting JD off.
“You didn’t do anything! Vin did! And I don’t need you yelling at me like this, Buck. I’m not a little kid anymore!” JD yelled, becoming angry.
Buck’s eyes widened as JD yelled at him. He realized that he should just tell JD how scared he was, and not just yell at him like this. But he couldn’t help it. Sometimes the kid scared him so much...
“Well, you sure do act like you are! How many times have I told you to be careful? How many?”
“I don’t know,” JD answered, his face reddening from embarrassment at Buck’s outburst.
“This has got to be the stupidest thing you’ve ever done, JD!” Buck said, pointing his finger in JD’s face. “What the hell were you thinking?” he finally shouted.
“I wasn’t thinking, okay?” JD shouted back, angry that Buck was embarrassing him in front of everyone. Besides, that’s what Buck wanted to hear anyway.
“Damn right you weren’t!”
Chris had come up beside Buck and placed a calming hand on his shoulder. “Buck, why don’t you lay off the kid,” he said softly.
Buck turned his flashing eyes toward Chris. “What? Didn’t you just see what he did, Chris? He damn near got his fool head blown off!”
“I saw what he did, Buck. But yelling at him isn’t going to help things.”
JD gave Chris a thankful look.
“That still doesn’t change the fact that what you did was careless, JD,” Chris reprimanded sternly. “Do you realize how scared all of us were?”
JD was about to answer when Josiah came up behind him.
“What happened?” he asked, his eyes flickering towards JD.
“Nothing happened,” JD angrily said, before turning and storming away.
Chris grabbed Buck’s arm as he began to walk after him. “Don’t. Let Josiah go talk to him.”
Josiah nodded and left in the direction JD had gone.
Buck sighed and ran his hand across his face. “I’m sorry I yelled at him, Chris, but sometimes when he pulls those stunts of his...”
Chris nodded, “I know, Buck. He had you scared, didn’t he?”
“Yeah,” Buck agreed, the fear still evident in his eyes.
“C’mon, let’s go get a drink.”
“JD? Mind if I come in and talk to you?” Josiah called through the door.
“I guess not,” came the muffled reply as the door opened. “Come on in.”
Josiah glanced around JD’s room. He almost smiled as he took in how messy it was, with clothes and dime store novels scattered all over. A typical teenager’s room. Because that’s what JD was, in age anyway, no matter how hard he wanted them, and himself, to believe otherwise. But JD was quickly becoming one of the finest men Josiah knew.
“What were you thinking out there, John Dunne? Don’t you realize you were almost killed?” Josiah asked seriously.
JD sighed. He wouldn’t have let Josiah in if he knew that this was the position he was going to take about the incident. “I don’t know what I was thinking, Josiah. That man was going to shoot Nathan! I had to do something, but then I just froze.”
“So you do realize how close you came to being killed yourself?”
“But I didn’t almost get killed!” JD said stubbornly, almost as if he were trying to convince even himself.
Josiah raised his eyebrows. “Then what do you call what just happened back there?”
JD shrugged his shoulders in defeat. “I still don’t see why Buck had to go and yell at me like that.”
“He was scared, son. We all were, to tell you the truth. Why I wouldn’t be surprised if you aged Buck ten years with that one,” Josiah half chuckled to himself.
“I still don’t know why he has to yell,” JD stated adamantly.
“That’s just his way, son. You should know that by now.”
JD sighed and nodded. He did know that. He knew that Buck only yelled at him because he cared and he was worried about him.
“I bet you were pretty skaken up yourself,” Josiah added knowingly.
“No, I wasn’t,” JD replied quickly, not wanting to show what he felt was unmanly: fear.
“You don’t have to lie, son. I would’ve been, too. JD, it’s okay to be scared sometimes. It doesn’t make you any less of a man.”
JD stared off into space for a few minutes. “It’s just, Nathan would’ve been killed if I hadn’t done anything, Josiah. I was scared for him; I wasn’t really thinking about myself.”
Josiah remained silent as he realized JD was telling the truth.
“Now that the both of you have calmed down don’t you think it’s time to go have that talk with Buck?” Josiah suggested.
JD nodded, “All right.”
When JD walked into the saloon he noticed several of the others playing cards, but no Buck.
Seeing JD standing in the doorway, Ezra looked up from his cards and nodded towards the farthest, darkest corner of the room, where Buck sat, half shrouded in shadows.
“Hey, Buck. Mind if I sit down?” JD asked tentatively as he approached him.
Buck looked up, and JD noticed with a pain that his eyes were bloodshot. He motioned for JD to sit down.
Both of them sat in a strained silence for a few minutes, wondering what to say to each other.
“JD, I’m sorry I yelled at you earlier. It’s just sometimes, the things you do, they scare me!”
“I’m sorry too, Buck. I should’ve been more careful, I know. But Nathan was needing help!”
“You know better than to try an’ be the hero, don’t you, JD?” Buck asked, worried again. How many times had he and JD had this talk, or something similar?
“That’s the thing, Buck. I wasn’t trying to be a *hero*, I was just trying to help a friend. I was worried more about Nathan than myself, and I guess I just wasn’t thinking straight.”
Both of them lapsed into silence again, but this time it was a more comfortable silence. Buck was thinking about how JD had become a man right before their eyes without any of them noticing. One of the best kinds of men: one who would sacrifice himself for one of his friends. Buck hoped it would never come down to that, though.
JD was thinking about how he could levitate some of Buck’s fears.
“Can you promise me something, JD?” Buck asked suddenly.
“Can you promise never to scare me like that again?”
JD smiled, “Sure, Buck. I promise never to scare you like that again.”
Buck shook his head and smiled, too. It was a lie and both of them knew it.
But both of them each knew that they would try their damnedest to try and make JD keep it.