It had been almost a month since Noah's death, and Jesse's departure and still things had not yet returned to some semblance of order around the way station. There were still runs to be made, mail to be delivered and chores to be done, but their once close knit little family was falling apart.
Tears welled yet again in Lou's eyes as she knelt and replaced the flowers on Noah's grave. Visiting Noah's graveside and talking to him about things that were happening seemed to be her only source of comfort these days. She stood and began the short walk back to the way station. Things ran smoothly enough on two conditions, firstly that Kid and Jimmy were never in the way station at the same time and secondly if Lou was never left alone with Jimmy. She smiled to herself, it wasn't as if Kid didn't trust her it was the fact that he didn't want Jimmy to think he had won.
Their once happy family was disintegrating before her eyes, she thought wryly when people said that this war would set brother against brother they had been correct. When she had married Kid she realised that she would have to give up riding but she hadn't expected to be so bored of a day time. On top of all that, Rachel was always unhappy, Teaspoon was spending more and more time in town at the Marshal's office and Cody only visited periodically when his army unit was within reasonable range. It seemed that the only person she could sit happily with a just relax with was Buck but he had not yet recovered from the loss of Ike when Noah's young life had been taken from him. Buck was now disillusioned and distrustful of almost everyone.
She knew that it was nobodies fault that this was happening, beliefs of a lifetime were hard to break, just like she knew that underneath it all they were all still the same friends that they were before the tragedy occurred, but no-one was willing to give in and perhaps bend their convictions.
As Lou walked into the way station she wondered where everyone was, and then realised with a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach that the unthinkable had happened Jimmy had taken Rachel into town to pick up some stores and Kid was already at the store collecting some supplies that had been delivered to town the previous day.
Kid had walked out of the store and was standing on the corner of the boardwalk trying to decide what he was going to do next, looking across the street he saw Jimmy helping Rachel by loading some supplies on the back of the buckboard. He so badly wanted to go and banter with his friend the way he once would have, but remembering the fight that had erupted the last time they had spoken he hesitated. Hearing a commotion coming down the street he turned to see a large conestoga wagon, fully laden with furniture and goods barrelling down the street riderless.
The noise it seemed, had disturbed the station horses because they were rearing up and Jimmy was having trouble controlling them, the buckboard being partially down the side lane made Jimmy completely unaware of the impending danger. Kid took one look at his closest friend and forgetting the fact that they were currently feuding he made a decision that would affect the rest of his life.
Dropping his purchases, he ran from the storefront and across the path of the team of six frightened horses and the wagon that was spewing out pieces of furniture as it teetered precariously down the street. Knowing that he wasn't going to reach Jimmy in time and calling out would be useless over the noise of both the way station horses and the wagon, he made one final lunge and knocked Jimmy from the path of the wagon team and heavily onto the ground behind the way station buckboard. All in front of a terrified Rachel who, seeing Kid's flight across the street had watched the scene unfold with terrifying consequences in front of her.
It took several minutes for Jimmy to get his breath back, and whilst he realised that Kid had been the one to force him out of the way of the approaching wagon, he wasn't yet ready to face the implications of Kid's heroics on their current difference of beliefs, so he tried to make a joke of Kid's act.
'You can get off me anytime you are ready you big oaf.' Jimmy chuckled.
'Jimmy,' Rachel's tears flowed freely as she watched over her boys whilst all the while a crowd gathered.
'I don't think he can.' she murmured, Jimmy wriggled out from beneath Kid's inert form.
'Oh God,' Jimmy murmured as he saw the thick red blood flowing from the deep gash across Kid's back. Jimmy embraced his pale unconscious friend, tears in his eyes. 'Somebody get Doc Barnes,' he cried to the crowd of onlookers, 'Please,' he continued to hug his best friend as Rachel sat crying on her knees beside them, he had endured the deaths of both Ike and Noah and whilst they had always been good friends they could not begin to fill the place in his heart and soul that Kid filled and would continue to fill even if they never spoke again.
Jimmy rocked back and forth, cradling Kid in his arms. "Don't die Kid, please don't die,' he murmured over and over as he waited for the doctor to arrive.
On to Chapter One