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m7rpg - Part 8

The Story Continues

Ezra watched Chris Vin and Lee depart, but couldn't bring himself to leave JD alone. Besides which, he wanted to be around to placate Buck should it be necessary. The last thing JD needed was Buck going off without thinking.

Vin eased himself along the mine wall, staying out of Nathan's line of vision. Whatever it was Chris had in mind, he hoped it would work, because they were leaving JD alone in there.

Chris watched as his friends crept from the mine, and Ezra sat motionless and silently beside Buck, waiting for some reaction from Nathan. Chris however refused to leave the mine, standing just outside of Nathan's line of sight, ready to protect JD if he had to.

Ezra caught his eye and nodded, almost reading his mind, knowing that he too was ready for the slightest misdeed from the healer, refusing to let the youngest of their number be hurt anymore - by anyone.

His head hurt and his shoulder ached. His arm was starting to go numb. Nathan leaned heavily on the young man supporting him. Some of the words were getting through, but it was so hard to believe. He knew their tricks, and knew the punishment for challenging them. He couldn't even remember how he'd gotten into this situation, and saw no rational way out. But he had determined that the young man was not a threat. Which made him an ally.

Most of the men had moved away, probably duped into believing that he was too weak to pose a real threat. The one remaining man was crouched low and several feet away, leaving an opening. He could use that to his advantage.

"Run !" he urged, lurching toward the back of the mine, dragging the boy with him. Lee turned around just outside the mine entrance. He saw Vin following him out. He came up to the young tracker and commented, “We need to make Nathan feel safe. I have a feeling Ezra’s seen this situation before.”

Ezra watched for a split second as Nathan pulled JD towards the entrance. He knew that he couldn't allow the healer to leave, however. He was too unstable. Right now he regarded JD as an ally, but it was only a matter of time before he sank again into the dreamland where JD was an enemy, and then JD would certainly be hurt. Nor could he allow the other men to stop him--they would be needed to act as the friends the southerner could never be.

He moved faster than he would have believed possible earlier that morning, remembering the strength that Nathan was capable of when he was disoriented and not willing to allow it to be turned against JD.

"Run." the word was hoarse and terrified, but oddly young, and Ezra quailed at the pain that Nathan must be feeling.

"It's time to stop running, Nathan." Ezra spoke softly as he pulled JD out of Nathan's grip, ignoring the gasp of pain he elicited.

Mentally he reminded himself to be careful, Nathan was sick. As Nathan turned and started to attack, Ezra wrapped his arms around the larger man, locking him tightly into a sort of embrace. Powered by desperation as strong as the other mans, and better health, he held him tightly, then gently swept Nathan's feet out from under him, lowering him back to the makeshift bed.

Still holding Nathan's arms pinned to his sides as he thrashed, Ezra began to rock back and forth with the effort to hold him still and keep him from getting up.

*Dammit! Dammit! Dammit!* he railed silently against everything as he fought. Unconsciously he continued aloud, "Mr. Jackson, you are a damned stubborn man."

Josiah finished rubbing down the horses. The chore had been cathartic, and his head was starting to feel better. He liked working with animals. Their responses were pure and they didn't demand anything of you.

As he returned to the mine he nodded to the men milling around the entrance. Something wasn't right, and immediate concern pulled at him. *Has Buck taken a turn for the worse?* he thought.

But as his eyes adjusted to the light, he saw Ezra, an the ground, fighting with Nathan.

"What in the name of all that's Holy!" he roared. With an angry bellow, he grabbed Ezra away from the healer and flung him across the mine.

Before Vin could reply to Lee's statement, Josiah joined them at the mine entrance. Seeing what was going on inside the mine, the big man pushed his way inside.

"Josiah! Wait!" Vin called after him.

Josiah turned on Vin as the younger man called to him.

"Wait? What do ya mean, wait?" he yelled. "You knew about this?? You were just gonna let him..." He gestured angrily toward Ezra, not looking at the gambler.

Josiah turned back, fighting to hold his wrath in check before he did real damage. He knelt beside Nathan, pulling the man against him. Nathan struggled weakly.

"Easy, Nate, its just me," he said softly.


"Yeah, that's right. Everything is okay." Nathan relaxed in the big man's embrace, tears staining his cheeks. Josiah glared up at Vin.

"How long's he been like this? Why didn't someone call me?"

Lee came back into the mine cautiously. He would back Vin up if necessary from Josiah, but he hoped that it would not come to that. He was quite surprised when he saw the big man turn on Ezra and literally throw him across the room. He did not know what had happened in the intervening moments but hopefully it would all be worked out. What was surprising was when Nathan recognized the big preacher.

"'s my fault, 'Siah." JD said as he picked him up from where he'd landed after his rescue. "I thought I could help him." He scrubbed a hand nervously through his hair. "Sorry." The last word was barely a whisper.

He wrapped one arm around his ribs and slowly made his way to Ezra's side. "Thanks," he murmured softly to the gambler.

Chris moved to the side of the crumpled southerner who laid on the floor of the mine, watching Josiah with a mixture of wariness and disappointment. "I wouldn't hurt Nathan" he murmured as Chris knelt by his side checking that he was okay.

Shrugging in confusion at the sudden turn of events he watched as JD moved towards Ezra, greeting his weak smile of greeting with a gentle hand on his arm. He turned his attention to Vin as he listened to JD thanking the gambler. Meeting the trackers eyes, he shook his head in mock disgust. He couldnt help but wonder how much luck they were going to need to get themselves home intact.

Buck had listened and worried through out the last several minutes. Much as he had wanted to help, he could barely move. Not to say he hadn't tried, but the one time he did, it liked to have killed him.

He felt bad for not being much of a help when the kid needed it. When any of his friends needed it. But what could he do? He'd had no choice but to listen and pray.

And now that it was over, he could only give a sigh of relief.

"We still got everyone?" Buck asked quietly.

Its not your fault, JD," Josiah grumbled. "Why didn't someone tell me this was happening again?" He continued to cradle the wounded healer, his anger abating. "He been talking about Levi again?"

JD nodded silently.

Josiah sighed, leaning back against the mine wall. He closed his eyes as the last of his rage waned. He'd dealt with Nathan's ghosts before, before the seven. He knew the torment that they caused the man. The last thing he needed was to be attacked.

Wearily, Josiah opened his eyes, looking across the room at Ezra. He knew in his soul that the southerner would never hurt any of their number, His action had been merely instinct, to protect a friend...No, that wasn't right. He just needed to think before he acted. His temper had gotten him into trouble before. Now he'd have to win Ezra's trust back, and he knew that it was trust not easily given.

*Well*, he thought wryly, *I did fling him.*

"Nonsense, Mr. Dunne, I accept full responsibility for this little altercation. I did request your help." He bit back the pain and ignored the feeling of fresh blood sliding down his back.

At least Josiah had managed to calm Nathan. "JD--did Nathan put those bruises on you neck?" At JD's unhappy nod, he continued, "Well, rest assured that it was unintentional. Nothing you did or said would have changed anything that has happened here. It was not your fault."

He struggled to sit up, aided by JD. When he heard Buck's voice, he motioned JD over to him, assuring him that he was fine.Careful to conceal his re-opened injury, he hobbled to the front of the mine. "I will wait outside until such time as we are ready to abandon this location."

Carefully he walked towards the wagon, seating himself against one of the wheels and turning his face up towards the sun.

Lee’s eyes followed the con-man outside. He swung them around and settled on Chris for a minute. He made a small gesture towards the mine entrance and saw Chris answer with a small nod.

Lee turned on his heal and followed Ezra out to the wagon. When he reached his destination he stood there for a minute. When he did speak it came quietly, “If it’s worth anything, I know what you’re going through.”

Chris walked slowly up behind the two men, he didn't want to interupt them but he couldnt help but notice the fragile way the southerner held himself as he walked out of the mine. Putting a gentle hand on Ezra's back, he heard the sharply indrawn breath that confirmed his suspicions. "When were you planning on telling us Ezra?"

Ezra stilled as the shadow crossed between him and the sun, listening silently as Lee spoke. Before he could say anything, he heard another step and a light hand landed--unnecessarily hard in his opinion--on the wound.

"I assure, Mr. Fitzgerald, I am not "going through" anything." He shifted to remove the hand from his back before he continued acerbically, "And there is nothing I need to tell you about either. I have suffered no injury, I am simply waiting until such time as we depart."

Chris had felt the way that Ezra had flinched away from his touch, he knew that he was hurting.

"Dammit Ezra" he spat suddenly taking out his anger on the smaller man "Stop being so stubborn" he put a hand almost harshly on his shoulder and spun the southerner around to face him.

"Let us help you" his anger subsided as he saw a brief glimpse of pain on Ezra's face, before he shut himself behind the wall that he always retreated behind.

Ezra would have congratulated himself if he had been in the mood. Aside from the first grimace of pain at being pulled around, he had kept his face bland and voice even.

"Mr. Larabee." He removed Chris's hand cooly, "I do not recall asking for anything, let alone help. If you would be so kind as to allow me to make my own decisions about anything I might need, I would be most grateful."

With that, Ezra once again turned his back to the other men, this time sliding into the back of the wagon and stretching out as though he were sleeping. What he really wanted was a return to that comfortable feeling he'd experienced this morning. Barring that, however, he only wanted some time to regain his equilibrum -- and his distance -- so that he could once again don his mask.

"Stop being a damn fool Ezra" Chris spoke angrily "Havent we got enough to worry about without you acting like a spoiled child"

Chris followed the smaller man around to the back of the wagon, noticing that his pale features and the wince on his face when he slid into the wagon. He knew that Ezra was less than well, he also knew he was trying to deflect his concerns back to the men he thought needed it, but that didnt ease the anger that he now felt. "Damn it Ezra if I have to worry about keeping you alive later I'll have to kill you myself!!" he exclaimed as he stalked back to Lee.

"How ya doin', Nate?" Josiah asked his friend. Nathan looked at him, his eyes glazed.


"He's not here. That was JD."


"Yeah. He's a friend. A good friend." Although Josiah wasn't sure he could trust his words. Not with the way the kid looked when he stole glances at the preacher when he thought he wasn't watching. JD was afraid of him. And he really didn't blame the young man. Thank God Buck had slept through the whole thing. Vin was ignoring him, but he'd seen the flash of anger in the tracker's eyes before he turned away. Chris was probably livid. He had wisely chosen to follow Ezra outside.

And Ezra...Josiah cursed himself. He'd finally started making headway with the man's self-imposed isolation, and now this...

He though briefly of apologizing, but shrugged the idea off. What purpose would it serve? Ezra would smile tolerantly, say it was nothing (using a litany of fancy words that would put Webster to shame), then pretend like nothing had happened. But it would all be a facade. He wouldn't trust any of the seven now, all because Josiah still hadn't learned, after all these years, to think before he acted. Ezra didn't want to trust anyone. He didn't want friends. What was the point?

Josiah held Nathan, whispering platitudes in his ear. *That woman may very well have succeeding in destroying us,* he thought fleetingly.

Ezra resisted the urge to tell Chris that he had survived quite well before he met them...better than he was doing right now, as a matter of fact. Instead he settled back and turned his face towards the comforting heat of the morning sun. Slowly his breathing deepened as he sank into sleep, his body relaxing into the rest he needed. Josiah helped Nathan to his feet, wrapping a blanket around the man's shoulders. Silently, he led the healer from the mine. He stayed as far away from the others as he could, keeping his gaze on the floor. He couldn't bear to meet JD's eyes and see the confusion there. And he sure didn't want to scare the kid any more than he had already.

Ignoring Chris and Lee, Josiah gently helped his friend into the wagon. He took Nathan's face in his hands, forcing the man to concentrate on him. He was distressed that Nathan's fever had returned.

"You listening, Nate?" he asked. The other man nodded, eyes unseeing. "That man behind you. His name's Ezra." He indicated the gambler without actually looking at him. "He's a friend." *To you, anyway,* he thought bitterly. "You understand?"

Nathan nodded blankly.

"You listed to him. Do what he says." Nathan nodded again, and moved closer to Ezra. Josiah managed a small smile when the healer settled quietly next to the gambler and pulled the blanket over them both.

Sighing, Josiah climbed into the seat of the wagon. When Chris looked like he was going to protest, he glared at the gunman.

"We need the three of you as outriders," he explained curtly, nodding toward Vin and Lee. *And,* he thought, *this way I don't have to face the others.*

He gathered the reins and waited.

Lee looked at the sleeping con-man and shook his head sadly. He had no idea what Ezra was like when he first joined this group but he instinctively knew that there had been a major step backwards in the way the group interacted. He went over to his horse again and spoke softly, “I’m back.” He patted the beast’s neck as he checked over how it had fared over the night. Seeing that he was okay Lee brought his horse over to the wagon. He tied the lead rein to the wagon and headed back into the mine entrance.

Lee hesitated when he penetrated the the shadowy room. JD was still beside Buck.

“Lee?” JD asked hesitatingly.

“What is it?” he answered as he knelt beside the wounded man.

“Is Nathan going to be alright?”

Lee looked at JD then to Buck, “I don’t know.”

Vin followed Lee into the mine. He stood as Lee talked to JD, then headed over to Buck. Kneeling beside the man, he gently placed his hand on his uninjured shoulder and shook him just slightly.

"Buck? Buck, you gotta wake up. We need to head back to town."

"Hmmm...." The ladies man woke reluctantly.

"If I help you, can you walk? Just as far as the wagon?"

"Yeah, sure. No problem." Buck groaned as he tried to sit up. Lee and Vin both helped him sit first, then helped him stand a few moments later. JD hovered nearby, concerned for the man that acted like a big brother.

Slowly the group headed out of the mine.

Chris watched his four friends approach and turned back to the man seated on the wagon. "You can't hide from them forever you know" he spoke knowingly his gaze pinning the older man before he moved to the back of the wagon and helped Vin and Lee get Buck settled as comfortably as they could.

"Lee, Vin" he spoke quietly, knowing that if he woke Ezra the stubborn fool would insist on riding "Looks like we're riding" he looked at JD, seeing the exhaustion, pain and sorrow on the younger man's face "JD, are you up to looking after these guys for me"

"Sure" he spoke flatly and climbed into the back of the wagon, sitting against the side, his elbows on his knees, Buck's legs comfortably under his.

Chris knew how much this was affecting the young man simply by his acquiescence, and shook his head in disgust at the situation they were in. Just as they had forged the ties that made them a family, they were being forced to hold tight to the fraying ends before their family was unravelled beyond repair.

He turned back to the the two men who flanked him and spoke almost silently. "C'mon lets go home"

Vin nodded at Chris then turned to grab the reins of his horse. taking one last glance at the others to make sure they were settled, he swung up on the horses back and prepared to leave.

Lee seeing that nothing else could be done nodded to Chris also then took the lead rein to his horse then mounted his horse.

Josiah clucked lightly to the horses tied to the wagon, urging them to an easy walk. They were saddle animals, not used to pulling, and certainly not acting as a team...He chuckled as the irony of the thought hit him.

Chris had said he'd have to face the others one day. That wasn't necessarily so. If he were a betting man, he'd wager that he could give the gambler a run for his money when it came to self-pity and sulking. He chuckled again, at the apropos analogy.

Josiah huddled into his coat. A cold front was moving in and the smell of snow hung in the air. *That's the last thing we need,* he thought to himself.

Ezra was jolted awake when the wagon started moving, and for a moment he was transported back to this morning, when the comfort and camraderie extended to include him.

Then he realized that he was covered by a blanket which hadn't been there when he fell asleep, and there was someone sharing it with him...right now they were adjusting to cover him more securely.

Cautiously he opened his and found himself looking straight into the vacant and somehow caring face of Nathan. Hardly trusting the vision, he spoke hesitantly. "Mr. Jackson?" Ezra struggled to sit up, and barely managed to conceal his surprise as Nathan gently helped him.

The first thing he saw once he was in an upright position was JD, who looked uncharacteristically glum.

"Mr Dunne." Ezra tried to keep his tone light. "Did the man who taught you that apalling joke about the dog just die?" He smiled soothingly at Nathan, who seemed to be wiggling closer and closer all the time.

*Why did he feel the need to comfort them?* Ezra thought in exasperation. *They aren't my problem...* he didn't finish the thought. The truth was the JD and Nathan were both startlingly fragile and seemed much like children to him now, and he couldn't bear watching children suffer.

"It was a good joke, Ez." JD made a half-hearted effort. "Last I saw him, old Sam was still making the stage run." He shrugged. "I just want to go home."

The heavy lurching motion of the wagon settled into a rhythmic rocking pattern as Josiah began to carefully pick their path home. JD leaned back against the side of the wagon, trying to ignore the aches and pains that the jostling awoke.

He wanted nothing more at the moment than to drift off, just let go and not wake up until he was home and safe. But Chris had asked him to watch over the others. JD was determined to do just that. Besides, there simply wasn't room for another person to stretch out in the bed of the wagon. He'd have to be content to just sit and watch. It was all he really could do, anyway.

Sit and watch. He wasn't sure what he was watching for. Make sure the wounded were still hanging on. Maybe for more of Her men. Deadened green eyes leapt to mind and JD shivered despite the warm sun that was heating his skin and soothing his bruises. He wished he still had his Colts, but they were gone. Burned up in the fire he supposed. Or claimed by some hired gun as a prize. The thought of his pistols in some outlaw's hands bothered JD. Who knew what sort of crimes they would be used to commit. . . Maybe they had even been used to fire on his friends. . .

He frowned to himself. It wasn't right for something like that to happen. But at the moment, nothing seemed right.

Everyone was still alive. Chris and the others had shown up at the right time and saved the day. They'd won. Well, at least they were the ones riding home. Not that he was actually riding, but some of them were. They were still together, and that's what mattered.

But he wasn't so sure they really were together. Normally there would be light banter tossed between them. Even at the worst of times, someone was trying to make it better with a wry observation, or a humor touched comment.

Ezra was still playing the game, but no one else was even talking. The three riders were on edge, and the air around the wagon was charged with the heavy feel of an August lightning storm waiting to be born.

That, he decided, was what confused him the most. He could understand if it was anticipation of an attack, but the feeling was focused inward at the group.

He wanted to talk to Buck about it. Ask the older man's opinion, and be reassured that everything was all right, but Buck was asleep.

JD looked up and noticed Ezra was still watching him. He pursed his lips thoughtfully. "Ez?" he asked hesitantly.

Nathan settled into the wagon, watching with quiet curiosity as the others were loaded in. He recognized the dark haired kid. So he was a friend. And Nathan had failed to help him get away. The man next to him stirred. Someone had told him that he was a friend as well. He must be a sympathizer. He pulled the blanket up tighter around the man.

"What did you do to get into this mess?" he asked. "We got to escape before we get there, or they'll hang you."

Ezra watched JD carefully, realizing that a few well chosen words weren't enough to cheer him right now. Before he could reply to him, however, his attention was caught by Nathan's softly voiced question.

Pondering best how to answer him, Ezra finally came up with a possible reply. "Oh, no, Mr. Jackson. We have already escaped from our captors. These men came to rescue us, to take us to a safe town. They were merely trying to make sure you had not been harmed when they frightened you." He watched for a moment as Nathan seemed to think about that.

That done, he turned back to JD. Trying to make everything as normal as possible, he continued to speak in his usually formal style. "Mr. Dunne? You had a question?"

Nathan looked at the man beside him. His face was drawn and pale, covered in bruises. He wondered how the handsome man had come about his injuries. His soft accent marked him as a southerner, but his easy manner marked him as a friend. He was speaking quietly with the young man in the back of the wagon. Nathan couldn't understand what they were saying, but it didn't matter. The southerner had assured him that they were safe.

Nathan's gaze wandered to the man driving the wagon. He recognized Josiah, and couldn't help but wonder why the man looked so glum. Maybe something bad had happened. But they were safe now. He felt sure of that. He'd seen the three men riding alongside the wagon, and knew that they were not soldiers.

Nathan wanted desperately to remember what had happened, but he could barely recall his own name. His shoulder throbbed relentlessly, and his head felt like it was wrapped in cotton. Unable to resist anymore, he sucummbed to the fatigue that was pulling at him.

Lee turned when he heard the soft murmur of conversation from the wagon. *At least they’re attempting to hold a conversation,* he thought. He knew that was a small step, but at least it was a step towards the communication they held before all this mess started. He slowed down his horse to join Vin who was currently behind the wagon.

Chris rode as close as he dared to the side of the wagon, he had heard snippets of conversation as he rode and was eager to hear if the the emotions of occupants of the wagon were beginning to heal. He could see Lee and Vin on the other side of the wagon but still hung back listening to the occaisional conversation, not really paying attention to their forward movement, concentrating only on his injured friends.

Contented that they were trying to maintain some normal conversation he moved forward to watch the large man driving the wagon. Josiah face was impassive, apparently concentrating on finding the smoothest path to lead his precious cargo over but Chris knew that only meant that Josiah was fighting his own demons inside his mind.

"They talkin' ?" Vin asked Lee as the older man joined him.


"Good." Vin rode on in silence for a moment. "They talkin' nice?"

Lee just grinned at the younger man.

JD wasn't talking--whatever question he had entertained had evidently been replaced by concern for Buck, who seemed to be restless and uncomfortable. Ezra shook his head slightly--he'd been very curious to know what JD had meant to ask, but like so many things lately, information was in smaller supply than the problems.

Carefully he pulled the blanket up over Nathan, who though sleeping, seemed to still be wrestling with whatever demons had claimed him. Once done, there seemed no further point to his presence in the wagon, and he slid a little further towards the rear, contemplating getting out to ride. Right now he was only taking up space that was needed by the more severely injured members of the party.

Buck was fairly awake. Who could sleep with such pain like he had in his arm? It burned like hell, and he felt like he was going to freeze to death. When they got home, he was going to take a nice long bath. Maybe grab a big bottle of whiskey on the way to the bath house.

He had listened here and there to JD and Ezra. Then there had been a long silence and he didn't know whether he'd dozed off, or if he'd just been distracted by the sound of the squeaking wheels on the wagon. Either way, the conversation was over when he opened his eyes.

He looked at JD who looked like death had just paid him a visit and given him some bad news.

"Son, would you stop lookin' like the sun ain't ever comin' up again?" He breathed. "You'd think someone had died." He reached up and swatted the kid on the arm. "What's goin' on?"

Chris noticed movement in the back of the wagon and let his horse slip back until he could see into the bed of the wagon. He could see Nathan and Buck both sleeping if not comfortably, at least getting a little rest.

JD, however, concerned him, it wasnt anything in his actions but the younger man now had a haunted expression in his eyes that didn't belong there. He watched momentarily as he tried to sooth Buck's agitated movements. Chris heard Buck's question of his 'little brother'only hoped that Buck would be able to draw the younger man back from whatever demons were now torturring him.

Moving his attention to the only other movement in the wagon, he shook his head to see the stubborn southerner sliding to the back of the wagon bed.

"Ezra" he muttered "What the hell do you think you are doing?"

Josiah glared at Chris until the man finally backed down and retreated to the back of the wagon. He sighed in relief. The expression aggravated his headache, which had returned with a vengeance. He gently fingered the lump on the back of his head. He'd have to get Nathan to check it out.

Then he remembered. Nathan was sick and delirious. Buck was unconscious more than not, and JD was sullen and withdrawn. And Ezra...

The black mood settled back over the preacher and he resumed his glare. With the slow pace of the ungainly wagon, they would not make Four Corners tonight. That meant another night on the trail, in close proximity to the other men. They would try to get him to talk, or look at him sympathetically. Except maybe JD. The kid would probably steer clear of him.

Josiah sighed. He just wanted to get home, where he could retreat to the sanctuary of the church...

Lee looked at the wagon again and thought, maybe it’ll be a while before we can heal, as he watched JD inside the wagon.

His eyes wandered up towards the horses that were pulling the wagon. They plodded slowly along the trail. You could tell they were not use to team work. He commented almost to himself, “It’s probably going to take longer to get back to town than we expected.”

He looked to Vin and commented, “I hope nothing has happened to Four Corners while we’ve been absent.”

"I'm sure the town will still be there when we get back. But I'm not sure what condition it will be in." Vin answered the older man. But his attention was at the wagon where Ezra was moving back to the end. He moved his horse up closer even as Chris dropped back and spoke to Ezra.

"Mister Larabee, I intend to get out of this wagon and ride for a change."

"Well, Mister Standish," Chris tossed back at him, "You might notice that we are fresh out of saddled horses."

"He can ride with me." Vin said as he joined the group.

"He should ride in the wagon. He's been hurt."

"I'd do the same thing and so would you." Vin added.

"Would you gentlemen kindly pretend, at least, that I am right here with you and can talk for myself. Now I will gladly take you up on that offer, Mister Tanner. I am very tired of lying here."

Vin moved his horse up along side the wagon, freeing up the stirrup so that Ezra could use it. The gambler painfully shifted around in the wagon and carefully, with Vin's help and a steadying arm, managed to get his foot in the stirrup and swing up behind Vin.

"Thank you, Mister Tanner."

"You're welcome, Mister Standish." Vin replied as he let his horse drop back next to Lee's once more. Chris just shook his head and resumed riding along side the wagon, keeping an eye on those inside.

JD wasn't actually sure what he'd started to ask Ezra. He wanted to know it was going to be okay. That he was imagining the funeral pallor that clung to the little convoy. But the words refused to form, so he lapsed into silence.

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