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    • "We'll have to get on over to the dinning room them. Afraid it's liable to be a bit more like Kalispell than Frisco." He said. "But it'll be good food, just not what we've been used too. Will be up on the hill, for sure.  I was told this is the best hotel because it was a ways out across the river from town, and it was solid built."   "The wealth on the hill is such that all most everything around it is growing at a fast pace. You'll really see that when we visit the Capitol, Carson City. Supposedly discovered by Kit Carson and General John Freemont on their way to Sacramento in. At least Freemont named the river after him back in '43 or '44. Nothin' was there then."   "All that made me hungry too, let's go eat an then take us a walk across the river, or along it, which ever you want." @Bongo
    • That did not take long. Cookie rang the triangle and shouted his best but in the end he sent the kid to roust all but the closest to him. Rance joined young Wheeler in the line, a bit out of the wind, but mostly in it for the moment. It seemed calmer up by the wagon.   "That had ta be bad back there. The wind drivin' the dust an' the smell, but should this wind let up you'll be on flank, left flank, then right, then back to the drag. It'll be me, Dallas, an' Dixie. eatin' dust tomorrow. But at least we got hot grub, won't always be that'a way out here though, every trip is different."   And they moved up steadily. @Bongo
    • "Nothing to discuss? I am surprised, Jonah. Why, if we have time for breakfast, there will be much to discuss regarding the hospital as well as the start of the orphanage. Hopefully that the railroad will be completed, or close to it by then." She smiled brightly. "Things will be different by then."   "My hope is that we get through all of this without my fathers interference causing delays, or real problems with the builders. You know we could get well into October before the snow flies, but I'm not counting on that. The winter will stop construction until the thaw." She stated, but the smile was still there, "But it will be well underway!" @Bongo
    • "Pleased ta meet ya, Rance."  Justus gave the man a nod, then lined up with the others for grub.  Maybe he could get some sleep despite the wind.  He surely was tired enough, and until there was something that concerned him, he didn't need to be concerned.   First, though, a full belly!  As the line progressed, he he nodded to the kid who was the cook's help.  "Times like this, I bet yer glad ya don't have ta be on th' downwind end of a herd'a cows!"   @Flip
    • "It's good to know you'll have the best working on the project, you've come this far, you don't need to risk the quality with less than the best working on it."  Even though he had no doubt that the crew would be excellent, it was reassuring to know that the man hand picked for the job would actually be on site overseeing it.  That way, too, he'd be there if Leah needed to discuss anything with him, and Jonah had a good feeling that was going to happen!   He grinned and took a sip of coffee.  "Just think, this time next year it will all be over!  We'll have a fine hospital with the best equipment...and nothing to discuss over breakfast!"   @Flip  

In Times of Trouble

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Mature Content: Possibly gore and/or language

Author: Put your OOC username here ONLY if posting with a Shared NPC. 

With: Brendan and Caroline (perhaps Arabella, Matilda, or Ralph?)
Location: Mostly Caroline's room at the Stardust Saloon
When: Early July, 1875 (same day as Confrontation)
Time of Day: Mid-afternoon




Brendan stood in front of the Stardust Saloon and watched Quentin drive the wagon away, then slowly looped his horse's reins around the hitching post closest to the saloon. He hesitated for a minute before going around to the back of the saloon and opening the door there. He stood in the dim light of the back hallway, shut the door quietly, and thought about his next move. He could hear someone talking - loudly - in a room nearby. That could only be Arabella. Lordy, if that girl showed up now, he...he didn't know what would happen, but he knew he couldn't bear talking to or listening to her right now.


He stood in the hallway, clutching his wounded arm far below the bullet wound. He didn't even know if the bullet was still there or not, but his arm hurt. He'd been able to forget about it for a while, in the thick of the battle, but on the way back to Kalispell the pain had come roaring back with a vengeance. He felt slightly dizzy from it, or maybe from being out in the sun and losing blood.


Finally he moved forward just a little bit and caught sight of Caroline's blonde hair and brightly-colored clothing through the doorway to the actual saloon itself. "Miss Mundee!" he hissed quietly, but not loud enough. "Caroline!" He tried a little louder this time and edged forward some more, not wanting to risk being seen through the washroom doorway.


Rodrigo Guirao Díaz triunfa en Italia




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Brendan needn’t have worried about being ‘Arabella’d’ because at that point someone could be distinctly heard bursting into the bar next door to the place where Brendan was lurking, and blurting out some big news, undoubtedly about Cantrell’s latest slayings, and at one of the names mentioned Arabella gave a chilling scream and even above the hubbub of noise that the news created, the sound of her heavy boots could be heard clomping at top speed across the wooden floor and out of the swing doors, presumably headed toward the funeral parlour, where the bodies had been deposited.

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It was a hot summer day and all Caroline had to look forward to was a sweaty long night at work in the smoke filled saloon. Mingling with a lot of sweating menfolk, well not like she was smelling like a rose either. Nature of the business. Ralph had a good line  'saloon work ain't for the weak'. He had that damn right. Still, if pressed that very moment to give the career up and do something totally different, she knew she'd pick the saloon work.


She was about to make another pass thru the tables, pausing of course to chat and flirt or be flirted with some of the customers, and of course, convincing them to buy more drinks. She was good at all those things, it was like second nature to her by now. That's when she heard a voice, a familiar one. Behind her....she turned to see who was calling her. No one she could see. Odd?


The saloon gal then headed in that direction.





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Brendan heard an unearthly shriek and winced. But then he saw Caroline coming toward him and took another few steps away from the door toward her.



He stopped and gulped. Just thinking about what had happened made his throat close up and his eyes burn. He had no inkling of how he was going to tell her what had happened or ask her for help. She wouldn't make him ask, would she? She had eyes, but if she couldn't see the blood staining his shirtsleeve, they weren't very good ones.


He also became aware for the first time of his unbuttoned shirt, and realized that he must look like hell. He felt like it, anyway. He drew in an unsteady breath and started over, locking eyes with her.


"You hear about the...the shooting?" His voice came out sounding strained and he felt like his eyes looked like a baby deer's - wide and scared.


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Somebody had come rushing into the saloon yelling about something and causing quite a stir. Since Caroline had been in the kitchen when that all started she certainly didn't catch most of it. However the secondary shriek was familiar enough, Arabella of course no doubt overreacting to some latest mostly imaginary drama of hers. She had learned to take the girl with a grain of salt......maybe a whole salt shaker on occasion.


But first before she investigated the commotion at the bar, her attention was distracted by a seemingly familiar voice calling her name but the speaker was not in a place where customers could be.


As she drew closer, suddenly there he was. It was the cowpoke Brendan..somethin' or other. And he looked like death warmed over, a second of further study revealed details. His eyes had fear in them and was that? He was bleeding! What the hell?


He said her name as he unsteadily took a few steps in her direction as she tried to take all this in.


"Brendan? What in the blazes?" she blurted, taking some comfort in that at least he did not appear armed. She knew him alright but it did not mean she trusted him. Had he a gun in hand, she would have instantly bolted for the safety of the saloon itself with it's crowd of patrons and of course, Ralph.


"You hear about the...the shooting?" His voice came out sounding strained and he looked scared.


"No....I mean somethin' is goin' on," she answered, but good lord, she had so many questions of her own.


Course by the look of him he might fall down before she got any out. First things first. Caroline was not a woman who frightened easily and she was also capable of decisive action when she felt it was called for. And this was one of those times.


"Here! Lemme get you upstairs. Inta my room," she declared then moved to place herself at his side and manuver his healthy arm around her neck.


"Lean on me if ya hafta, I won't let ya drop. But I'd really appreciate it if you can keep upright til we can negotiate those stairs and get ya onta my bed," she informed him even as she started out with him toward the back stairs steps. Mercifully it was only one floor up.  One step by one step they went.


"That's good, keep it up," she encouraged the man with each bit of progress.


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Something was going on, all right. Brendan tried not to imagine what was taking place in the saloon and out wherever Quentin had taken the bodies. Hadn't Quentin said something about taking the dead men's money? He hadn't had a chance to do that yet. Maybe whoever looked at the bodies would put whatever belongings they'd had on them aside. He shook his head and focused on the problem at hand.


Caroline took charge of the situation immediately, and before he knew it, he had one arm around her neck and was being helped up the stairs.


"I'm not gonna fall." Brendan tried to sound affronted as he strove to convince both Caroline and himself. The thought crossed his mind that he should make some smug or flirtatious comment about her inviting him to his bed. But when he tried to think about how to say it, the words wouldn't come. He had to use all of his mental energy to lug himself up the stairs, even with Caroline's help.


"I'm fine," he mumbled each time she tried to encourage him, "I'm fine." But Caroline stayed beside him, helping him up each step. Finally he got fed up and yanked his arm away. "Look, I'm not dyin', I...." His throat closed up again as he thought about his friend who had been dying. And he'd shot him.


The sudden movement had sent a jolt of pain through his bad arm and a wave of nausea from his stomach to his throat. He squeezed his eyes shut until his head stopped spinning. When it did, he realized that he had just gotten up the last of the stairs.


"See? I'm fine." He propped himself against the wall and let his spine curl up slightly as he slouched. He looked at Caroline with a smile that should have been challenging and triumphant but instead mad him look slightly inebriated and foolish. What was he doing? He had come here for her help, and now he was brushing her aside? It didn't make sense in his head, but nothing was making sense right now.

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He claimed he wasn't going to fall. Well hopefully not but Caroline was trying not to take any chances. Bleeding like that he could suddenly faint and tumble back down those steps, breaking something or even worse. She recalled a drunk once thudding down a stairway in Helena, he broke his neck.  Small loss though, he had been one of those mean drunks.


"I'm fine," he mumbled each time she tried to encourage him, "I'm fine." But Caroline stayed beside him, helping him up each step. Finally he got fed up and yanked his arm away. "Look, I'm not dyin', I...."


The saloon girl took a step back, "Whoa there! I'm only tryin' ta help ya."


"See? I'm fine." He propped himself against the wall and let his spine curl up slightly as he slouched.


Caroline put her hands on her hips, "Oh yeah yer just dandy. Is that why you need to lean against the wall to keep upright?"


"Well, I guess you don't need no help then. My mistake, tryin' ta be nice. You can go back down now," she snapped.





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"I don't need to lean against no wall..." Well, damn. He was leaning against the wall. He pushed himself up again quickly. Too quickly. Suddenly everything was blurry. Was he falling? No, he wasn't falling, but he was definitely not fully upright.


His eyes fluttered closed briefly as he tried to make the black spots dancing in front of his eyes go away so he could see where Caroline was. He needed to lean on her, and this time he knew it. He found her shoulder blindly and draped his good arm over her before leaning on her again, resting more of his weight on her this time.


"You mentioned a bed?" he mumbled. "'Cause...that...that sounds real good right about now."


He looked at her from beneath half-closed eyelids, hoping that she wouldn't pull away. If she did, he thought he might actually collapse.

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Look at the jasper, now he claimed he didn't need a wall to lean against. Caroline rolled her eyes, "Then why are you doin' just that then?"


No sooner had he tried to stand up straight then but the effort was too much for his balance yet again. He found her shoulder blindly and draped his good arm over her before leaning on her again, resting more of his weight on her this time.


"You mentioned a bed?" he mumbled. "'Cause...that...that sounds real good right about now."


"Sonofabitch! Men, and you say wimmen can't make up their minds," Caroline snapped but did her part again to support him once more.


"Come on then and so help me god, if you shove me away again, I will belt you a good one," she assured him then assisted him into her room, carefully manuvered him to face the bed with his back to it then helped ease him down onto the mattress lying on his back.


"Damn it!" she realized she had blood now on her dress and yeah it was gonna be on the bed spread too. Part of the problem was his bloody shirt.


"Sit up and lemme git that shirt off ya," she ordered in a no nonsense tone, "and don't act all shy. I've seen half dressed menfolk before."


"And it ain't too much trouble, you mind tellin' me who the hell shot ya and why?"

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A punch in the face might actually be a blessing in disguise at this moment. It might actually be good if he lost consciousness for a while, just so he didn't have to think. But of course Brendan wasn't going to tell Caroline that. He only grunted in acknowledgement of her threat as she helped him into her room.


Once Caroline helped him onto the bed he flung his good arm across his face and pressed the crook of his elbow against his eyes. If only everything would stop spinning. At her exclamation, he pricked his ears curiously but kept his eyes covered. Then she ordered him to sit up so she could take off his shirt and followed that up with a statement that made him blink.


"...and don't act all shy. I've seen half dressed menfolk before."


"I bet you have," he mumbled, moving his arm just a tad so he could see her. Oh, wait. She didn't whore, she had said. So how had she seen half-dressed men before? He was having a tough time making everything make sense. He propped himself up on his good elbow and then eased himself into a sitting position as he tried to form an answer to her question.


"Huh? Oh...uh...Cantrell did." He didn't think to explain who Cantrell was, but she was sharp enough that she'd ask if she wanted to know. "As for why...well..."


He paused to think. "...'Cause I was tryin' to shoot him? Sorta'?"

Edited by Bailey (see edit history)
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"...and don't act all shy. I've seen half dressed menfolk before," Caroline pointed out.


"I bet you have," he mumbled.


She glared at him for an instant but let it go, she was trying to help him here. She also wanted to know what the hell had happened and how did it involve him bein' shot.


"Huh? Oh...uh...Cantrell did."


Caroline had no idea who Cantrell was but that wasn't surprising.


"As for why...well..."


"Well ..... what?" Caroline pressed him as she tossed the bloddied shirt onto the floor a few feet away from the bedside.


He paused to think. "...'Cause I was tryin' to shoot him? Sorta'?"


"You were? Sorta? And why were you tryin' ta shoot him?" she continued her interrogation even as she now told hold of his shot arm to give it a closer look.


"Went thru, arm ain't busted. That's good. Otherwise they'd maybe have to cut it off. I knew a man who got shot in the leg in a saloon once. Busted the leg below the knee but they had ta cut if off him. Within a week he got gangrene so they had to cut it off above the knee...up by the hip almost. It was too much for the poor devil though and he died while the doc sawed him," Caroline recalled.


"I'm gonna wash that up, retie it up with some cloth bandages, " she decided on a course of action, "you might not need a doctor."


She guessed he did not want to deal with doctors otherwise why come to her?





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Brendan shuddered instinctively and made a face at the thought of having any of his limbs cut off...and dying while enduring that. Caroline told it so matter-of-factly that it almost made it worse.

But thankfully, he probably wouldn’t have to worry about losing his arm, according to Caroline. He supposed he should feel relieved, but he was just tired. He tried to answer Caroline’s questions about why he’d been trying to shoot Cantrell, though. He sat with one leg dangling over the bed and the other drawn up onto the bed and stared at the wall. 

“Well...we thought he tried to bushwhack Greer...and then turns out Blackjack and him had beef from way back. Me an’ Billy, we...”


There went his throat again. He couldn’t talk about Billy. He clenched his fist, swallowed, and went on. “...we tried to flank him. He got me when I was comin’ over a rise.”

He had thought that first shot would have done him in, and that a second one would have followed if it hadn’t. But Billy had come and given Cantrell a new target.


But he didn’t want to think about that right now. He lifted his eyes to Caroline and focused them on her face. “You got any whiskey? I don’t have money right now but Cantrell promised me the horses an’ guns an’ I’ll pay for it as soon’s I sell everythin’.”

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Caroline wanted to go get some water in a basin and a few towels but since she had asked what the hell happened and he was now telling her, it seemed rude to rush out again. In her medical opinion, it wasn't like he was gonna bleed out or anything (such opinion pretty much totally uninformed of course).


"So you got involved in this fight even though he had no stake in the game?" she asked using 'poker' terms.


Frankly his explanation wasn't all that clarifying but he seemed to be trying at least. She had one more crucial question but that could wait for a moment as he was asking for whiskey.


"Oh fer god's sake, I ain't gonna charge you for a drink now. Thought we was friends," she frowned and walked over to a drawer, opened it, then pulled out a whiskey bottle. If he actually could read and knew something about whiskey quality, this was a fairly expensive bottle from overseas originally. She also produced a glass and poured it about half full then handed it over to the man.


"Drink that then and I'm gonna go get some clean water and towels, be right back. And don't try and wander off cuz you'll topple down the stairs and break yer neck and I ain't paying for the burial," she announced then went out the bedroom door.

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"So you got involved in this fight even though you had no stake in the game?"


Brendan frowned, his brows wrinkling, and was quiet for a minute. "Well...yeah."


When he thought about it now, it seemed stupid. Why had he gotten involved? It must have just been the heat of the moment - Greer flying down the hill yelling, and them thinking they needed to help him. But what else was he supposed to do? Cantrell was with Lost Lake and he was with Evergreen. It was what was expected of him.


Caroline's next words startled him. Were they friends? It depended on what "friends" meant, really. They hardly knew anything about each other, but there was a sort of connection that they had that went beyond acquaintanceship. 


"Well, we're sure friends now," he said with a faint grin as he accepted the whiskey and held it carefully in one hand. "This here," he raised the glass in a sort of toast, "this seals the deal."


He had recovered some of his sense of humor and actually felt like the muscles in his face would do what he wanted them to. But everything still felt off, like he was seeing himself sitting on Caroline's bed and there was a delay between his thoughts and his actions.


Caroline then left, but with an admonition not to get up. Brendan snorted. "You don't gotta worry about that. I'm not goin' anywhere."


He tilted the glass up to his lips and was surprised by the way the whiskey tasted. It was...different than most stuff he'd drunk before, smoother in a way, more subtle. He hoped it was potent. He sipped again, peered at the label on the bottle, but it was too far away to see and he wouldn't have been able to read it anyway, so he shrugged with one arm and poured the rest of the glass down his throat and was rewarded with a coveted rush of numbness. It only lasted a few seconds, but it was what he wanted.


He settled back on the bed and noticed where his shirt had gotten blood on Caroline's bedspread. It couldn't be helped, but he felt a twinge of remorse for coming to her for help instead of a real doctor or someone else. But what if no one would have helped him because he was with Evergreen? Had been with Evergreen, he corrected himself.

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Caroline returned shortly with a wash basin of fresh pump water, a couple towels thrown over one shoulder and a scissors too. She glanced at the empty glass and smirked, "See you appreciate the good stuff too."


She sympathized with him guzzling it though because he had to be in obvious pain and that strong liquor would help alright. It took her a few minutes to get everything ready for her little good samaritan deed. She cleared her night stand next to the bed so she could place the water basin there, tossed the towels on the mattress next to him then reached into one of drawers to pull out a slip and promptly used the scissors to cut some of it into strips for bandaging. Next she reached behind her back and undid her nice saloon dress, already blood stained but she was determined she wouldn't add to it while she worked on him. Slipping out of it, she was down to her corset and undergarments, but it didn't seem to phase her any. While she did all this she talked to him.


"Now I ain't gonna ask but one more thing about this mess you got yerself in and I want an honest answer. I'm helpin' ya out here and it would be awful low of you to go lyin' ta me, now wouldn't it?"


She then eyed him and asked, "Are they gonna come lookin' fer you for attempted murder or even worse? The law I mean. Cuz I think I have the right to know."

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Brendan raised his head when Caroline came back, taking in all the supplies she had brought. He said nothing in response to her comment about the whiskey, but grinned faintly.


His eyes opened wide when she started to undress, but he said nothing and definitely did not look away. Who would want to look away from someone as pretty as Caroline Mundee? He sat up a little straighter and swung his legs over the edge of the bed, but made no move to get up.


Caroline's question was a good one. She did deserve to know if the law would come after him, but he couldn't answer her since he didn't know himself. He shrugged with one shoulder.


"I dunno. I didn't set out to kill nobody. Guess Cantrell would've brought me in and had me locked up if he thought I deserved it."


He stretched and pretended nonchalance, but Caroline's question had made him worried. What if Cantrell tried to frame him or twisted the truth? What if the marshal and deputy did come looking for him? Things wouldn't go well for him. He had shot at Cantrell (or where he thought Cantrell was going to be) and he gone over the hill with the intention, or at least thought, of killing him. And he was an Evergreen hand. The cards would be stacked against him.



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"I dunno. I didn't set out to kill nobody. Guess Cantrell would've brought me in and had me locked up if he thought I deserved it." 


Well as answers went, it didn't exactly make it clear he was not in legal trouble but Caroline felt he was telling the truth and not trying to hide anything from her. She would accept it, leastwise for now.  Besides, at this point, what else could she do? Throw him out? That was not her. And besides, she was no real friend of the law when it came right down to it.


"Alright then, yer probably right. But if someone comes knockin' on my door and sez it's the law, just shut up and get under my bed. I'll do the talking. Chase 'em off or send 'em on a wild goose chase. Then we'll just figure out someplace else to hide ya. Worry about the rest later, got that?" Caroline explained.


"But fer now, let's look at that wound of yers. I gotta see if the bullet is still in there cuz if it is then you are gonna have to see a doctor, I can't operate on anybody. But if it went in and out, that's a good thing. I can clean it up and bandage it tight. Yer young and healthy, you'll live. I ain't never lost a patient yet."


She then smiled, "Course yer my first."


With that she reached for his arm and began to take a close look at what they were dealing with.

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"Yeah, I got it. I doubt anyone'll come lookin' for me though, unless it's Cantrell." Or the Marshal or Deputy if Cantrell had decided to blame him for everything.


He stretched out his arm for her to look at and held his breath. He'd be able to tell if the bullet was still there, wouldn't he? Sure, it hurt like hell, but having the bullet in there would hurt more, wouldn't it? As he sat on the edge of the bed, he watched Caroline's face to see her reaction. His eyes flicked down to her corset and then back up to her face.


"I ain't never lost a patient yet...Course yer my first."


He couldn't help grinning at that, even though it was a slightly strained grin. "Hopefully I won't be your first lost patient, neither."


He took a deep breath and looked down at his arm. It had pretty much stopped bleeding, but it was hard to tell because there was drying blood all over his arm. The place where the bullet had gone in was obvious, but it was harder to see where the bullet had come out because it was on the back side of his bicep. It was really almost a graze, but it had gone slightly too far into his arm to be a graze. But it had gone through, like Caroline said it had.

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"Hopefully I won't be your first lost patient, neither."


"Bad things happen but don't worry, I'll put flowers on yer grave," Caroline quipped as he then took hold of his arm to check out the extent of the damage. Blood loss was definitely not a problem that had to be a good sign.


"Well, that's the entry wound," she turned his arm some, peering thru the dried blood stains, sure enough there it was on closer examination.


"Yep, it went out alright. So no lead in ya to fester. Means we won't need no doctor. Well, except for Doctor Mundee," she grinned as she then reached for a rag to serve as a washcloth and dunked it in the basin.


"That'd be somethin', huh. A woman doctor, probably never happen though. You menfolk wouldn't trust us I'm guessin," she started cleaning away the blood and grime.


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Brendan chuckled and shook his head. "Gee, thanks. I'm real partial to daffodils if there's a choice." There was nothing better than a gal with a sense of humor, and Caroline sure had one.


As she started to look at his arm, he remembered that some girls didn't like the sight of blood.  Caroline hadn't fainted when she saw his bloody shirt or when she got the blood on her dress, but actually looking at the wound was different. It didn't seem to affect her too much, though.


"Didn't think to ask if you had a strong stomach," he said half-apologetically, half-reflectively. He was relieved when she gave the verdict that the bullet had indeed gone through and he wouldn't need a real doctor.


"That'd be somethin', huh. A woman doctor, probably never happen though. You menfolk wouldn't trust us I'm guessin'."


He stiffened a bit as she wiped the wet rag around the wound. To take his mind off the pain, he considered her statement, not sure how to answer. She was doing a fine enough job with his arm right now, but being a real doctor was different. All doctors were men, as far as he knew.


"I'd trust you," he said after a minute, meeting her eyes with a slightly puppy-dog expression. Now was not the time to be flirting, and this wasn't really flirting, but he couldn't help it.

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"Daffodils it is then. That is if I can find some growing in folk's flower beds," Caroline nodded.


As she did what needed to be done he asked, "Didn't think to ask if you had a strong stomach." 


"Don't worry I've seen my share of blood and vomit and filth in my life. I work in a saloon don't I," she assured him it would not be a problem.


Briefly women doctors came up or rather was brought up by a skeptical Caroline.  In her view, it would probably never happen. She opined men wouldn't trust women in such a thing.


"I'd trust you," Brendan declared with obvious conviction.


She paused to look up from the wound cleaning to him and grinned, "Then yer an idiot cuz when it comes to doctoring I don't know shit about it."


Then she got back to the task at hand.  She was gentle but thorough, by the time she was done cleaning the wound and indeed arm the water bowl was blood red in color. Now it would be bandaging the injury.


"You know, Brendan, and I'm bein' serious now. You should look fer a different job.  That sonofabitch Steelgrave and his Evergreen ranch ain't worth dyin' for."







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Brendan grinned at being called an idiot, which was not something he'd ever aspired to be called, but when Caroline said it it didn't sound so bad.


When she expressed her opinion about his current situation, he ducked his head and scowled. The message was getting through to him. Caroline was the third person today who'd said he needed to leave Evergreen. Bad things were supposed to come in threes, so maybe omens could, too. He looked at the bloody water in the wash basin and then back up at her.


"I know. I ain't goin' back. I done told you Cantrell promised me whatever was on the bodies and the horses and guns. I'm gonna sell 'em and..."


He stopped because he didn't know what to do next.


"I'm gonna do somethin'," he finished lamely.


He was suddenly very tired. Up until now, he had not been able to relax. But now, here in the relative safety of Caroline's bedroom, he started to feel the physical and mental effects that the day's events had had on him. He stifled a yawn and focused on Caroline again. He needed to find something to talk about.


"Think I heard Arabella scream earlier," he said after a minute. "She just excited about the ruckus?"

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"I know. I ain't goin' back. I done told you Cantrell promised me whatever was on the bodies and the horses and guns. I'm gonna sell 'em and..."


Caroline waited to hear him finish but he had lost his train of thought it seemed.


"And what?" she pressed him.


"I'm gonna do somethin'," he finished lamely.


Caroline chuckled, "Seems like you got it all planned out then. Sell a few saddles and such and live the life of riches and retirement."    Why that practically dripped sarcasm.


She was wrapping his arm now in the home made bandage as they continued to talk though that yawn of his no doubt signaled he was tired.


"Think I heard Arabella scream earlier," he said after a minute. "She just excited about the ruckus?" 


"Arabella is always bein' dramatic. But I think the girl was sort of fond of that young friend of yers, Billy. Maybe she found out Billy was one of those dead folks?"


"I'm tightening the bandage now, gonna feel it I reckon."





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"I'm gonna get a job somewhere," Brendan said defensively, prickling at Caroline's sarcastic comment. "I just don't know where yet."


It wasn't as though there would be a place at any of the other ranches for a former Evergreen hand. There was no one to vouch for him unless Quentin would, and there was no reason why the gunman should.


Brendan's face paled, and not just because the bandage tightening around his arm hurt. Arabella had been sweet on Billy? "Shit..." he murmured. "She's gonna hate me when she finds out."


It didn't occur to him that he hadn't told Caroline everything that had happened during the shootout. She didn't know he had been the one to administer the coup de grace for  Billy. All she knew was that there were dead Evergreen hands and that Billy might have been one of them.

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"Fine, that's more like it. Look for a job then. Somebody was saying there is a ranch run by some woman who is lookin' for help. As in cow hands I mean," she smiled, "Don't know her name or where it is. But you could ask around when you are up and about again."


The young Evergreen hand who was one of those killed in that stupid gun fight was now the next subject. Arabella had liked the boy, Caroline knew that much. She also knew another secret about Arabella but it was going to stay a secret too out of respect for the younger girl.


"Shit..." he murmured. "She's gonna hate me when she finds out."


"Why you? Cantrell was the one who killed him. Besides she ain't about to get a gun and go after this Cantrell jasper, even Arabella isn't that crazy," Caroline shrugged as she now stood up.


"There, that should hold ya for awhile. I'll change it tomorrow sometime. If it looks worse, you then go straight to a real doctor."

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