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m7rpg - Part 6

The Story Continues

Josiah tried to move, but found that the small space barely accommodated the two men. His leg was cramped underneath him, but when he tried to find a comfortable position, he crowded the smaller man, and he knew that Ezra was wounded.

"Ezra, my whole life has been a morass," he said. "If I'd 'a had any good sense at all, I'd 'a kept buildin' that wall." He sighed, sinking back against the side of their prison. Water was pouring down on them, and the level in the pit was rising at an alarming rate.

"Lord knows what trouble a man'll go to for his friends," he mumbled. Then he spoke louder. "Ezra, we have to find a way out of here."

Ezra noted Josiah's struggle to find a comfortable position, and blinked narrowly at him. "My dear friend. You must allow me to move so that you can place yourself in a more pleasant position." Nodding wisely, he wiggledto his left, leaving a gap for the larger man. "A good host must always make his guests comfortable, you know."

He paused, considering the other man. "However, unless I am much mistaken, I am your guest in this..." Ezra gestured with his right hand at the hole. "As for extricating oneself from this depression, why, that should be the simplest of endeavors..." he trailed off, struck by Josiah's earlier words. "Walls. Wiser to have continued to the restoration of your walls. Have I ever told you about my walls? Never mind that now." he said before Josiah could speak.

"Right now we must concern ourselves with our expeditious removal from this rapidly filling reservoir." He fought to concentrate, realizing that the water which now reached his waist was more than an inconvenience. "I realize that we can not wait until there is sufficient liquid to swim in to make our escape. There must be some way to extirpate ourselves previous to our unfortunate demise, however. Are you injured in such a way as to make standing and impossibility?"

His head was clearing rapidly, but he continued before he could lose track of the thought. "Even if you are, you could perhaps hoist yourself to my shoulders and pull yourself over the edge?"

He saw Josiah's objection before the other man could speak. "No, no. It must be you that returns to the surface first. I could never pull you up, even were I not wounded."

Josiah shook his head, not sure that he'd heard Ezra right. The man wanted him to climb on his shoulders? The idea was absurd, even if they were both healthy. He laughed loudly, clapping the smaller man on the back.

"Thank you, brother. I've needed to laugh. Now, I'll boost you up, and you can go for help. And I ain't takin' no for an answer."

Ezra leaned back in the mud, squelching loudly as he settled himself. "No." He smiled angelically at Josiah.

***** ***** ***** *****

Lee looked in every building that was still standing, be it all the way with a roof or falling down. You could never know when something useful would show-up. In his meticulous search he turned up nothing that could be used to hold water. He was about to give up when he saw one other building. He went inside. His eyes lit up when he saw the shovels up against the wall and pails jumbled on the other side of the single room. He quickly went over to the pails hoping to find one that did not have a hole in it and that the rust did not permeate through the metal. He found a couple that would suffuse and quickly left the somewhat dry interior of the shack to the downpour outside. In the rain he heard a faint curse. “That sounds like Josiah,” Lee mused to himself.

Against his better judgment he sloshed his way towards the voice.

***** ***** ***** *****

Josiah rose to his full height, towering over the wounded gambler. Gently, but with force, he pulled Ezra to his feet, pushing him back against the wall.

"Are you going to climb outta here, or are you going to force me to fling you out?" he asked, trying to sound menacing. "You know I can do it."

"See? You're perfectly well enought to climb out." Ezra set his chin, struggling a little against Josiah's hold, before continuing, "And I don't believe that you are capable of throwing me anywhere in your debilitated condition. Unless you climb up and help me out, I'm staying right here. We'll drown together."

Somehow the prospect seemed deliciously funny to him, and he started to laugh, ignoring the pain in his side.

Vin trudged through the pounding rain, searching for his two lost friends. The water poured off the edge of his hat in sheets, altering his field of vision.

So it was almost an unconcious act that lead him to notice the changes in the ground before him. He was on the top of a slope and something had definately tore up the ground here. Something sliding. Downward.

Vin peered down the embankment and could barely make out a dark hole at the bottom. But the water rushing into that hole was obvious. Someone or something had slide down the embankment and into the pit below.

He now felt confidant that he knew where at least one of his friends was. He turned and headed back to the deserted buildings of the mine. Searching through one or two, he located exactly what he needed, a length of rope.

Once back at the slope, Vin found a sturdy tree nearby and tied off what end of the rope. Tossing the remaining end down into the pit, Vin grabbed hold and began to lower himself down the slope. His feet immediately slipped out from under him and he landed face first in the cascading mud and water. Struggling to his feet once more he continued down the embankment.

Josiah sighed. The gambler was right. Had he been rested and healthy, flinging the man anywhere would not have been a challenge, and frankly, he hoped he'd have an opportunity in the future. Resigned, he leaned his forehead against Ezra's shoulder, blinking muddy water from his eyes.

"Have it your way, Ezra," he finally mumbled. "Just promise me that you won't get morose, and give me a hard time when I haul you out."

Before the gambler could reply, there was a commotion above them, and someone splashed into their wet pit. Instinctively, Josiah stepped in front of his companion, and shoved the intruder against the opposite wall. Using his superior weight, he pinned the man to the wall, reaching up to choke off his air.

"Josiah...." Vin managed to choke out, using some of the last air in his lungs. "It's me..."

Ezra stuggled to stand. Josiah's abrupt release had allowed him to sink to the ground. Peering around Josiah's legs, he said, "Why, salutations Mr. Tanner. Welcome to our--Josiah, perhaps you should allow him to breathe? Welcome to our predicament, Vin."

"ahhhhhhh....." Vin drug in a lungful of air as Josiah released the hold on his throat, then he coughed a time or two.

"Thanks......Ezra.....but I think I may have brought some help with me." Vin's hands reached out and gropped along teh wall of their very wet and muddy prison. Finding what he searched for he held it out for the others to see. The rope had followed him into the pit.

"What do you say? Ready to get out of here?"

"Brother Tanner, I'd say you were an angel sent from God, if I didn't know better. Sorry about..."

Vin smiled, and Josiah knew he was forgiven. "I'd say we are more than ready to get out of here, before the water gets any deeper," he rumbled. "I'll go first, then send Ezra up."

Josiah took hold of the rope, then hesitated, leaning close to the tracker's ear. "He ain't been acting quite right," he said quietly. "Keep a close eye on him."

With that, Josiah gathered his strength and climbed out of the pit.

"I heard that." Ezra managed to sound daffily cheerful in spite of the rain. He settled back into the mud.

"I always win, you know, Mr. Tanner. That's why he," Ezra gestured at Josiah, "has to go first." He nodded cheerfully at Vin, blinking away the rain. He squelched soggily a few times. "You know, I begin to understand childrens obsession with mud puddles. Once you've been filthy and cold for an extended period, it is hardly discomfitting at all to wallow about in the damned things."

***** ***** ***** *****

Lee saw some movement out of the corner of his eye. His eyes sought the movement and saw Vin heading towards the same sound. Deciding to let Vin take care of whatever was making the noise he turned back around and painstakingly made his way back to the mine shaft.

At the entrance he ducked his head slightly to make sure he would not give himself an unnecessary headache. He glanced down at the pail he had with him and saw it had collected water from the downpour. He set it by the fire to dry the outside of it waiting for the time to actually place it in the fire, he did not want to douse the fire at this critical stage.

***** ***** ***** *****

"You mean to say you never played in the mud as a kid?" Vin asked the gambler as he grabbed him under one arm and hauled him to his feet once more. Ezra leaned against the muddy wall.

"No Mr. Tanner. That would not have been.....proper behaviour." the gambler replied as Vin tied the rope around his chest and under his arms.

"Well Ezra, why don't we play in the mud again. Some other time. Right now, lets get you out of here and back with the others." Vin called up to Josiah to let him know Ezra was ready. Unsure that the big man could hear him above the rainstorm, he also gave the rope a tug. he was rewaarded by the rope gaining tension. Ezra began to rise upward.

Ezra was enjoying the ride. *Really, I should assist in the ascent, however." he thought. So he tried to dig the toe of his boot *Ruined.* into the mud, but only succeeded in jerking the rope and drawing a curse from above. Undeterred, he tried it again with better results and began to climb swiftly.

Once at the top, he turned and took hold of the rope with Josiah to help him pull Vin out of the pit.

When Vin reached the top, Ezra got his first good look at him and started to laugh, once again ignoring his side. All he could thinkwas that Vin looked remarkably like a mud dobbler. He wasn't going to commit suicide by mentioning the resemblance, though. Instead, once he got the coughing under control, he contented himself with a simple, "Now that we are all free of the depths of the earth, I hope that we are going to repair to the discomfort of the crude shelter available?"

He could no longer remember why he was out in the rain, what had happened to his coat, and very little of the last few days. He started to shiver uncontrollably, asking, "Does anyone else think the wind uncommonly chilly for this season?"

***** ***** ***** *****

JD shook Nathan's shoulder. No response. He tried again, harder. Trying to wake the healer without causing him more pain. "Uh. . . Chris?"

"Not right now, JD." Chris didn't look up. "Nathan, I need some help here."

"He's out. 's what I was trying to tell you."

That got Chris' attention. He looked at JD, then at Nathan's prone form. "Damn," he whispered.

"What do we do?" JD was scared. Nathan said that Buck was gonna bleed to death if they didn't do something, but Nathan was the one who could usually do it.

Chris chewed at his lip for a second. "We keep going. JD, I want you to scoot over here and hold this bandage."

His body protested violently to the short move. JD grit his teeth and ignored the way the dull thudding of his heart seemed to slam against his battered ribcage. After what seemed like hours, he sank back against the rockwall taking short gasping breaths that drove spikes between his ribs. Biting back the urge to pass out himself, he reached out placed his hand on the cloth Chris was pressing tightly to Buck's shoulder.

Chris checked JD's hand to make sure he was using enough pressure, then turned to Lee. "Get the pail set, then I need you to go get some tailhairs from one of the horses. And see if you can't find the others. Could use some help."

"What'll you use for a needle?" Lee asked.

Chris shrugged. "Haven't gotten that far." He didn't wait to see if Lee carried out his orders. He turned back to the task at hand. "Okay, JD. I'm gonna need you to wipe the blood away. Once I start, I *have* to be able to see what I'm doing."

JD nodded. Swallowing hard as he uncovered the bullet wound for Chris.

***** ***** ***** *****

Lee looked at Chris and JD for a minute then turned around and headed back outside into the monsoon, but not before setting the pail on the fire. Once outside he squinted in the direction he saw Vin head and saw with relief Vin and their two missing comrades. All three of them were covered in mud. Thankfully the rain was starting to wash away the excess but you could tell the dirt had sunk into the material.

He arrived in front of the trio and noticed Ezra being supported by the other two. He commented,

“Chris’s going to need all of our help with Buck.” He turned around and headed back to the relatively dry mine shaft.

Ezra struggled to stay upright between Vin and Josiah. "Why does Chris need our help with Buck?

There aren't any ladies--of the evening or otherwise--here...are there?" His befuddled brain toldhim that was wrong, but before he could catch hold of the thought it was replaced by another one.

"Does Mr. Wilmington know what use I made of his tack yet?" He laughed, coughed, and tried not to gag.

"You know, I really should retrieve my jacket from JD. Well, only the flask. He can keep the jacket. I'll just get my brandy. It's very good brandy, you know, Mr. Dunne wouldn't appreciate it anyway..." he trailed off at the speculative looks the other two were exchanging. "Surely you do not have designs upon my libations!"

A wave of relief washed over Josiah at the sight of Lee, and the invitingly dry interior of the mine. But any elation was vanished when he saw the pale form that Chris was huddled over. Buck looked awful, and JD really didn't look much better. He gave the kid a brief smile, before settling Ezra into the dirt.

"Mr. Sanchez," the gambler mumbled, "I believe Mr. Fitzgerald requested our assistance with our wounded comrade." He struggled to raise, but Josiah pushed him back.

"Sit still and let me look you over," the preacher ordered wearily. "You've got your own wounds to worry about."

Lee looked everyone over to see if they all made it to the relative safety of the shaft. Seeing Vin heading over to Chris he cut him off telling him quietly to keep watch over the pail while he would get the tail-hair.

“Ya got anything to cut it with?” he asked the older mercenary quietly.

Lee nodded and turned around to head back outside again.

Once outside he went over to what was left of Buck’s tack and found one of his saddlebags. He found Nathan’s knife exactly where Buck had placed it three days ago, *was it only three days ago? It seems like a lifetime ago,* Lee sighed. *I’m getting too old for this,* he thought. The kid that challenged him a couple of months ago haunted his thoughts. He sighed again while pushing the thoughts to the side and concentrated on the task at hand. They knew needed him and he would not let them down.

With Nathan’s knife now in hand he systematically went to Chris’s then his horse and took some of the dark tail-hairs. He chose them carefully because he knew they would need to boil them. After he finished with his horse he went up to the animal's neck and comforted it. The horse realizing that his master was near was eager for the attention and pushed his face into Lee’s chest.

“Not now my friend, I have something a little more important to attend to,” but he scratched the broad face for a minute. After one last pat he turned around and went back to the mine. Upon entering the opening he went over to the fire and put the tail-hair into the pail with the now boiling water.

Ezra pushed angrily at Josiah's hands. "Cease pesterin me. I am perfectly functional. Hardly a flesh wound. But you know, Mr. Sanchez, all wounds are flesh wounds." Before he could start to ramble on, he noticed JD, who looked paler than ever. Raising his voice, he told JD "Get the flask out of my pocket, Mr. Dunne."

When JD looked at him, astonished, Ezra strove to clarify his statement. "Brandy, Mr. Dunne. It has sterilizing properties. But before you give it to Mr. Larabee, I suggest you partake in a small libation yourself. You look as though you are about to expire."

All he garnered was another stunned look, and irritatedly, he re-phrased his statement. "Take a drink before you faint and give the damned flask to Mr. Larabee so he can clean out Mr. Wilmingtons' wound!!"

He pushed Josiah away again. "Go help them. I do not require any immediate medical care, and they need all the help they can get. I won't move." *Until you turn your back*, he continued to himself, as he smiled beguilingly at Josiah.

Ezra's words seemed distant, but JD managed to grasp their general meaning. With his free hand, he fumbled for the inner pocket. His fingers tangled on the fabric and he struggled for moment, trying to pull the smooth metal flask free.

Vin was suddenly crouched in front of him. JD frowned, he couldn't remember the tracker coming back. Vin gently pulled JD's hand away from the pocket and retrieved the flask for him.

JD accepted Vin's help gratefully, even allowing the tracker to help him take a sip. The thick liquid flooded his senses and burned when it hit the split in his lip. JD swallowed compulsively and fought back a cough. His eyes watered as the brandy blazed a path to his stomach.

"Thanks," he choked out.

Vin smiled at him, then took the rag JD was still clutching. JD sagged against the rock, relieved that someone capable was there at last. That he wouldn't let Chris down. . .or Buck.

Chris met Vin's eyes for a moment, conveying his gratitude silently. Then, with a deep breath he continued working. Vin did his best to keep the blood clear of the wound.

Lee looked up from the fire towards Chris and Vin hoovering over the wounded Buck. He rose from his crouched position and came over to Chris and asked quietly, “You need any more help?”

As gently as he could, Josiah peeled back Ezra's bloody shirt. The wound in the gambler's side was not lethal, in and of itself. But with all the mud crusted around it, infection was a distinct danger. Ezra didn't feel hot. Indeed, he actually felt too cool. But the rambling dialogue and loss of decorum had the preacher worried.

"We need to get that cleaned up," he told Ezra.

***** ***** ***** *****

A single candle lit the dingy room. Dirty curtains did nothing to abate the bright flashes of lightening, and the window did not shut tightly, allowing a cold draft into the room.

Elaina sighed. The ratty hotel room was the best she could do with the limited funds she had managed to escape with. That would soon be rectified, but for now, she would have to settle for the small bed with a thin mattress, and sheets of questionable heritage. Supper had been hot. That was all she could say about it. And the wine wasn't fit to serve as vinegar.

Then a vision flashed in front of her eyes. A vision of horror reflected in icy blue eyes as Larabee had realized that two of his friends were in the doomed house. A smile crossed her lips. It was too bad about the child, but that was the risk of running with outlaws. She had exacted some small bit of revenge, and for now could bide her time.

Elaina turned over in the small bed, punching the pillow to rearrange the lumps. As she succumbed to fatigue, she silently cursed the men who had forced her into such loathsome conditions.

***** ***** ***** *****

"You didn't tell Vin to get cleaned up!" Ezra accused. It didn't mean anything to him really, he wasn't even really aware that he was speaking. "I thought we were going to go swimming."

A moment of lucidity hit, and he looked over at JD. "Brandy must have," he paused, coughing, then continued, "helped. Are you going to enlighten us as to why Mr. Wilmington is chasing you all over town and threatening bodily harm?"

"Dammit JOSIAH!! That hurt!!" With that last bit of rebellion, Ezra lapsed into unconsiousness. Chris' head flicked up annoyed to hear Ezra's complaining voice, but when his ice blue eyes met the unseeing green of the southerner he realised that words were not necessary, Ezra would not have heard them anyway. He watched for a moment as Josiah struggled with the recalcitrant man, trying to restrain him and clean him up at the same time. His skin pale and chalky, his lips appearing almost blue in the dim light, the only colour in his face the glassy green of his eyes.

A light touch of a hand on his arm, brought him back to the task at hand. Turning back he looked into Vin's sympatethic eyes.

"It'll be alright Chris" he spoke somehow knowing how to touch on the very thing that concerned his best friend most. Chris could see his family falling to peices around him, he knew that time and luck would solve most of their problems.

Gritting his teeth against the unfamiliar nervousness he felt, he turned his complete attention back to the unconscious man in front of him. Checking the wound again he realised that he had done all he was capable of now all he could do was sew the wound up and hope his best was good enough to keep the jovial ladies man alive.

Alarm was quickly replaced by relief when Ezra feel silent. Josiah felt a twinge of guilt for feeling glad that the gambler was unconscious, but he rationalized it by using the unexpected opportunity to examine the other man's injuries without dealing with the protests.

Pale skin showed through the bruises on Ezra's face. He sported a host of other bruises and superficial cuts on his body, but then, Josiah knew others of their number were similarly injured. The wound in the gambler's side was through-and-through. If it hadn't killed him yet, it wasn't likely to, unless infection set in.

Slowly, Josiah fetched one of the buckets Lee had found, and after it had filled with rain water, he set about cleaning Ezra's wounds. He pulled the drenched clothing off the man and wrapped him in a dry blanket he'd managed to find in one of the bed rolls.

Satisfied that he'd done what he could, he settled back and closed his eyes. He needed to rest. Just for a minute. A small smile crossed his lips when he contemplated Ezra's reaction to awakening wearing only a blanket.

White blooms danced in the breeze, contrasting with the glossy green of the magnolia leaves. The scent of honeysuckle hung in the air, and the sound of laughter drifted to Nathan's ears. He looked up from the shade of the tree, annoyed that his reverie was being disturbed. The child ran over to him, dropping heavily across his stomach and giggling joyously.

"C'mon, Nathan," Levi coaxed. "You promised you'd take me fishin'."

Nathan struggled to push his brother aside. The kid was getting big. Pretty soon, he'd be grown up.

"Later, Levi," he answered, ignoring the hurt look that crossed the kid's face. He just wanted to rest for a while more in the shade of the tree.

Levi stalked away, shoulders sagging with the rejection. Nathan started to sleep, but the jangle of bits and spurs brought him awake. Levi's startled cry reached him as he jumped to his feet. But he was too late.

Levi was too far away. The gray-clad riders were already bearing down on the fleeing child. The lead rider pulled out a pistol and aimed it at the boy's head. Nathan saw fire spit from the muzzle, saw Levi fall, but everything was strangely silent...

Nathan awoke screaming.

JD chewed at his lip as he watched Chris work on Buck. He wished the normally vibrant man weren't so still. He'd give anything to hear Buck lecture him. "C'mon," he whispered to himself, trying to order Buck to be all right. If only he didn't feel so. . .

Lee seeing Chris totally absorbed in his current task looked around the dry area and saw JD up against the wall, his hazel eyes pleading for at least something to do.

"JD?" he said softly. "Can you help me over here?"

The boy nodded and began to push up from the ground. Lee saw the wince that he tried to conceal. "Let me help you."

JD gave him a half smile and half whispered, "Thanks."

Nathan's screams startled them both.

There was a sudden flurry of chaos in the cave. Without thinking, JD quickly pushed himself to where Nathan was struggling.

Chris hollered, "Lee." He didn't let the distraction pull him from his operation. He couldn't afford to. Buck couldn't afford it.

"I got it."

Lee knelt beside JD, helping to press Nathan back against the floor. "Come on, Nathan. Wake up," he ordered the healer in a firm voice.

"It's a dream, Nate. Just a dream." JD added his own assurances, trying to calm the frantic man.

Ezra jerked awake at the sound of screams, looking wildly around. He automatically reached for his gun, only to discover his lack of apparel.

*Aw hell I'm indecent!!* was his horrified thought even as he tried to locate the source of the sounds. Realizing thatJD and Lee had rushed to Nathan's side, he relaxed backwards for a moment, waiting for the black spots to disappear.

Then he slowly rose, moving slowly to Buck's side to help there, leaving JD free to be with Nathan. "Mr. Larabee. Allow me to assist you in any way possible. If you could just direct me?"

Vin silently handed Ezra the cloth he was using to mop up the blood on Buck's shoulder, and stood.

"You'll be needing a needle to stictch that up," he said to Chris. "I'm gonna search through Nathan's stuff."

Nathan struggled toward consciousness, but was being held back. Instinctively, he reached out and grabbed the person nearset him, twisting his fingers into the material of the coat. He pulled the boy forward, fighting the haze in his brain.


Ezra took the cloth and hurriedly wiped away the fresh blood that was welling up. "I am always surprised by the amount of blood." Ezra whispered to himself, but his motions did not hesitate. He sidled a little sideways so that he would obstruct the light less.

His movements were deft, automatic, because now his attention was caught by the by-play of Nathan and JD. He barely had to look at the wound to sponge away blood, keeping it free of gore but not obstructing Chris's view.

JD searched Nathan's eyes for any recognition. The feverish light was back and the healer was giving him a searching look of his own. "Levi?" He whispered again.

Nathan's hands were still knotted around the fabric of JD's coat. JD gently worked the cloth free, but didn't move away. He glanced up at Lee who was still trying to get the healer to lay back. "Let him be. You're scaring him," he said keeping his voice low.

Lee gave him a questioning look, then released his hold. He moved back to give them some space, but stayed close in case he was needed.

JD shifted, trying to find a position that took the pressure off his throbbing side and still keep eye contact with Nathan. He wasn't sure what to say. The last time he denied being Levi. . . well, it hadn't gone over well. But he needed to bring the healer around. He finally decided to just avoid the topic for the time being. "Nathan, you need to let us help you."

"Levi?" Nathan was getting agitated again.

With a sigh, JD replied, "I'm here, Nate."

Vin moved silently next to JD, kneeling down beside him and Nathan.

"Just keep talking to him JD," Vin whispered. "I gotta find his needles so Chris can sew Buck up. They've got to be on him somewhere." With that Vin began a quick search of nathan's pockets, pulling out small narrow leather 'book' with several sharp needles inserted between two layers of fabric inside.

As JD and Lee continued to deal with Nathan and josiah searched through bedrolls and saddlebags for extra shirts to be used as extra bandages, Vin returned to teh fire and dropped the needles into teh pail of boiling water along with the already boiling horsehair that would be used for sutures. Allowing them to boil for several minutes, he used his knife to extract them and the hairs and returned to Chris' side.

Handing the gunslinger the items Vin placed a knee on Buck's thigh and a hand against his uninjured shoulder, knowing that Buck would have to continue to remain still while Chris worked.

Chris accepted the small items from Vin, he took a deep breath and prepared to sew Buck's shoulder and finish this nightmare he had entered. Looking into the eyes of the two men whose hands held his patient down, he knew they had faith in him to do his best for Buck.

Working quickly and nervously he pushed the needle through the fragile skin closing the wound. He rocked back on his heels as he finished suturing the wound, his face coated in a cold sweat. Knowing he still had work to do, he accepted a bundle of relatively clean cloth strips from Josiah and moved to complete his surgical duties by carefully bandaging the wound.

He looked at his other friends as he laid Buck back against the ground. Ezra had succumbed to his pain and exhaustion and was wrapped in his blanket his eyes closed, his skin bruised and pale. Josiah standing a weary guard over him. Looking further he realised that Nathan would be their next problem, JD still struggled to keep his friend calm, speaking to him in soothing tones but not getting through to the healer.

Chris looked into the weary but alert eyes of his best friend and they moved together to their next objective.

"JD? Let us take over here for ya." Vin said quietly once more, not wanting to disturb Nathan or frighten the obviously agitated man.

"Not sure he'll let me leave him Vin. He keeps grabbing hold of me and calling me Levi. Who's Levi?"

"Dunno kid." Chris replied as Lee brought over a pail of cold rainwater and some cloth. Josiah had moved back ovr to Ezra and was forcing the obstinant gambler to lie back down so he could dress the wound in his side. He had taken the flask from Chris and was about to use it on Ezra in a way that would bring the southerner to tears.

Chris soaked some of teh cloth and placed it on Nathan's forehead. The man had spiked a fever and felt as though he were on fire. Vin began to unbutton Nathan's shirt and used another peice of cloth to cool off the skin on his neck and chest. Nathan still tossed and fought, crying out the name Levi over and over.

When he Nathan finally calmed down for a few minutes, Vin turned to JD again.

"Why don't we get you settled somewhere a bit more comfortable? That cain't fell good leaning gainst that rock." The tracker knelt an placed one arm around JD's back and helped the boy to stand.

"I want to be near Buck."

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