Summary: “I’d never thought much about my own death, but on the rare occasions that I did, I’d always imagined I’d be surrounded by my family when my time came. Now, as I watched Hoss ride away, I knew I wouldn’t even be afforded that luxury.” An extended/AU scene from the episode “Second Chance” Joe’s POV.
Rated: T (for mild language)
Word Count: 920
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
Please Don’t Go
“How you feelin’, punkin?” Hoss asked me.
If I wasn’t so gull durned tired I would have snorted at the ridiculous question. Pain gnawed at my shoulder with dull teeth. Never in my life had I felt such pain, not even when Adam had accidentally shot me and that wolf we were after decided that my arm would make a delicious afternoon snack. I felt weaker than a newborn kitten. Every beat of my heart seemed to sap what little strength I had left from my injured body. All in all I felt like death warmed over, but I wasn’t about to tell him that. He would only worry even more than he already was and that wouldn’t do either of us any good.
“I’m…I’m fine…Hoss, just fine.”
I could tell by the look in his eyes that he didn’t buy it, but he wasn’t going to call my bluff. There wasn’t really any point. We were stuck out in the middle of the desert with wild Indians on our trail. We had little food, even less water, and I had an arrow in me. If things didn’t start looking up soon, we’d more than likely die out here. Or, at least, I would. If Hoss left me…but no. There was no way in hell that he would leave me, not even after I took my last breath. He would stay and stand guard over my dead body until help came or the Indians killed him; he was that loyal, my big brother.
“Sure you are,” he said, patting my hand. He took his ten gallon hat off and wiped the sweat from his brow. I noted that his shirt was nearly soaked through with the stuff. It was hot, hotter than I ever believed a day could get.
If only there was a little shade or even a breeze…I shook the thought aside. ‘If onlys’ never did anybody much good.
The sound of sloshing water caught my attention and I realized that I’d been close to passing out. “You want somethin’ to drink?” he asked, holding the canteen up for me to see, and I nodded. He uncorked it and slid a hand under my uninjured shoulder to help prop me up as I drank. The liquid was brackish and tasted like something that might have been found in a horse trough, but it was wet and my throat was bone dry. I only managed to take a couple of sips before my stomach rolled and I had to turn my head away.
“You sure you don’t want anymore? There’s plenty left,” he said.
Who’s the liar now? I wanted to tease him, but the nausea prevented me from doing so. I knew if I took one more swallow, I would lose the little I had in my stomach, and the thought of vomiting with an arrowhead tearing at my insides held no appeal for me.
“That’s all right. I’ll just leave it here beside you iff’n you get thirsty.”
Silence fell between us, and I couldn’t help but recall the reason we were out here in no-man’s land. Our trip to alert the people of Sweetwater about the Indian uprising had been a colossal failure. By the time we had reached the third burned-out homestead, it was clear to us that we were too late. There was no one left alive to heed our warning. The only thing we could do was ride out before we became Red Pony’s latest victims. We’d turned for home just as fast as we could, knowing that it would be only a matter of time before the Indians found us.
And find us they did.
“Hey, Joe,” Hoss said, accidentally jostling me. Pain racketed up from my wound, effectively pulling me out of my thoughts, and I bit back a moan. “I think I see some smoke. Someone’s buildin’ a campfire.”
“It’s probably just more…Indians,” I hissed through gritted teeth.
He shook his head. “Naw, Indians wouldn’t give away their position like that. It’s gotta be some settlers or somethin’,” he muttered the last part under his breath. Placing his hat back on his head, he stood up and reached for Chubbs’ reins. “I’m gonna go check it out.”
The words drew the fog from my brain and suddenly a deep, gut-wrenching fear filled my belly. I tried to sit up, but only succeeded in causing myself more agony by putting weight on my injured arm. “No, no, Hoss, it could be a trap, please don’t go.”
He swung up into the saddle and glanced down at me. “Joe, that arrow’s in there real deep and I can’t get it out, not without some help, and there just might be someone over there that can lend us a hand. I know it’s a long shot, but I gotta try.”
Ignoring me, he set his spurs to the big sorrel’s sides and galloped away, leaving a trail of dust in his wake.
I held out a hand, wishing I could stop him, but knowing that I couldn’t. I didn’t even have the strength to hurt a fly, and that scared me.
I’d never thought much about my own death, but on the rare occasions that I did, I’d always imagined I’d be surrounded by my family when my time came. Now, as I watched Hoss ride away, I knew I wouldn’t even be afforded that luxury. I was going to die here alone.
“Please come back.”
This was written for a Bonanza Ballad challenge on Bonanza Boomers. I was given the artist KC and the Sunshine Band and the song Please Don’t Go and had to come up with a story using only the title. This is what I came up with.
Some dialogue is similar to that of the episode, but no exact lines are taken from it.
Tags: Little Joe, Hoss, brothers, Indians,, SJS
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