DISCLAIMER: Not mine. No profit.

Ratings: PG

Gratitude Series: #7

by Maggie

Damn busibodies. You'd think they would have better things to do then come rubbernecking, trying to find out all the gross and gorry details. But no. They gotta come around bothering us when we've got more important things to worry about, like whether Vin's gonna live or not.


Damn, that kid. You'd think all his living he's done, he'd be more careful and try to protect his sorry hide, but NO! He's gotta have this self sacrificing nature. Don't matter if its Ezra, JD, Nathan, Josiah, me, and most definitely Chris, he's step in front of a damn herd of stampeding cattle if it meant we would be saved.

I hate this. I'd managed to get over this feeling three years ago and now what happens, five men and my oldest friend waltz back into my life and make me feel it again. Fear. The fear of losing something more important to you than your own life. I love JD like a little brother who needs someone to guide and protect him, and Lord knows thats JD. Then there's Josiah, who's the older, wiser brother, bent on keeping our souls intact. Nathan, well, he's like the middle brother, always trying to keep us in one piece, whether its physical or not.

Then there's Ezra, the black sheep of the brotherhood. He could make anyone of us, including JD wanna shoot him rather than look at him, but in the next second he would pull some stunt that would make us feel guilty for ever doubting his loyalty, his love. Oh Chris, well, he's the stubborn older brother, who feels its his responsibility to make sure we're alright no matter what it costs him. And cost him it does. Everytime JD gets a bruise, I see the flash of pain in his eyes mixed with the guilt for thinking he let it happen. Especially when it comes to a certain lanky, tracker who's the glue that holds this sordid bunch together.

He's the brother who knows, without knowing, sees without seeing. He feels everything we do, and just with a slow grin or nod of his head, takes whatever is bothering us or is making us worry, into himself, to make it vanish. Just like he did today, by taking that bullet meant for Ezra. Just like he would take another one in a heartbeat if it was meant for any of us, even me.

The one brother who is always trying to avoid the responsibility of this family. The one who was jealous beyond belief when I first laid eyes on Vin. The one who is scared to death of losing the one thing that makes him feel alive. Sure, I love women, all kinds, but they never compare to the comfortable silence of six men sharing a bottle on a cold night in a quiet saloon. They don't even amount to a hill of beans when put beside the laughter of me and JD torturing one of the others mercilessly about one thing or the other. They could never replace the fear I feel now as I sit here watching a piece of wood, praying it opens up and allows my life to go on once more.

And if I just had one more day, I would tell all of them just how much I hate this fear and beg them to make it go away, to stay away. I would tell them all that, if that door would just open, and let me in again.

The End

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