|Family Ways Part Four - Vows
Rating: PG13 for themes.
Note: I was enabled. This however,
is not for everyone. Heed Warnings, please.
The characters and situations portrayed here are not mine, they belong to the WB. This is a fan authored work and no profit is being made. Please do not link to this story without appropriate warnings. Please do not archive this story without my permission.
"Is he still breathing?" Jarrod wouldn't let her get too close. Not even as close as Pa had.
He was still slumped on the bottom his cage. Looked like he hadn't moved at all…well, except maybe a little bit. Maybe rolled back some. His cheek wasn't on the bottom of the cage no more, now it was resting on his hand, the one she'd held.
"I think so," Jarrod said. He passed his rifle to Missy and picked up the two pronged baling fork, using it to poke at the other one to get him to move back. "Let me finish with this one and I'll check."
Missy held the gun steady, muzzle just barely through the gaps in the cage. That one stared at her, like trying to judge if she'd actually shoot. They always did, looked at her like she couldn't. She smiled at him and he looked a little more respectful. Good.
Jarrod pushed the key in and hit the right button, already returning as the lock slid back. He never took his eyes off the man as he opened the door and set the plate and cup just inside, shoved the door shut and reset the lock
That one glared at them both, then at the food, but he waited until Missy lowered the gun before reaching for it. He drank the water first then started on the biscuit and sausage.
Missy rolled her eyes watching him eat. Was like one of the pigs, that one. And she'd took extra care with the biscuits this morning.
Jarrod wasn't paying him no mind. He just squatted next to the other cage, reached in and pressed his fingers to young one's neck, cocking his head like Pa did when he was thinking.
"He still alive?" she asked him.
He sucked on his teeth for a second before grunting as he turned his hand, feeling under the boy's head. "He's breathing okay. Pulse is strong. Got a hell of a knot here, though. We can just leave his food."
"No." Missy said, coming closer. "Wake him up."
"What you mean wake him up?"
She gave him a sour look. "I want to know his name."
Jarrod shook his head and pulled his hands back. "What you want to know that for? Ain't no matter what his name is."
"I still want to know. Come on, Jarrod. At least throw some water on him."
"I ain't," he said.
Missy swore softly and ran back to the switches, punching the button. She glared at Jarrod and shoved the rifle into his hands as the lock snapped open. Jarrod took it but he was none to happy. "Bad enough I brought you out here. Now, you said you just wanted to see him. You seen him. Put his food down and let's go," he said.
"Wait," she said, sharp and Jarrod did, looking put out and a little wary, glancing toward the doors.
"Missy, Pa catches us -- catches you--"
"He won't care, none," she said and pulled the cage door open, grabbing the plate and crawling in.
"What the hell are you-- Missy," then Jarrod was right back there, eyes wide enough that he'd look funny if she was in the mood to laugh, but he brought the gun up. "Missy! You stop right now. You know better!" he said and shoved the gun through the bars, muzzle pressing into the boy's chest.
She stopped. Jarrod might shoot him if he so much as twitched and she didn't want that. She sighed. "I just want to talk to him. Please?" she asked. "I'll trade you," she offered.
"Pa knows I let you do this, he'll kill me. You got something worth that?" he asked, but he did ask.
She chewed on her lip. Had to be a big something. Something Jarrod really hated. "I'll lime the waste pit," she said, saw his gaze flicker. "For a whole month," she said almost holding her breath. Missy didn't much like that job either -- nasty, dirty work and the lime made her itch for days, made her skin all red.
"A month? Just for talking to him?" he made it sound like she'd lost her mind. Maybe she had.
"Whole month," she promised, then glanced at the boy. He hadn't moved, even with the muzzle of the gun pressing into his chest. "But only if he can talk. If you and Lee done messed him up so good, he cain't…"
"We just hit him hard…" Jarrod said. "All right. A month. You come here, hold the gun while I make sure he cain't do nothing if he wakes. He gets hold of you and Pa will toss me in the waste pit," he grumbled but he waited until Missy backed out and took the gun. Sure she had him covered, he looked around and found rope.
Took some doing, because Jarrod wouldn't go into the cage. But he grabbed the boy's arms, pulled them through the bars and tied them together then tied the ends again to the bars themselves. "You watch his feet," he warned and took up the gun, standing at the opening.
The cage was tall enough that Missy could stand in it, but she had to stoop to get in, and she hitched her dress up.
"What are you looking at?" Jarrod snarled and Missy turned around to see the other one watching her, mouth half full of food. Jarrod whacked the cage with the gun and the man scrambled back, but he was still watching her, watching Jarrod.
She ignored him and got down on her hands and knees, and touched the boy's face, stroked over his cheek. He had a little bit of beard coming in, but it wasn't much and even with the stubble his cheek felt soft. He hitched a deeper breath and Missy took the hem of her dress and dipped it in the cup, getting it wet, using it to wipe at his face.
Took him a minute but he twitched, made a sound like a groan but real quiet. She used her fingers next, getting them wet and splashing the water on him.
That did it. He jerked a little, eyes fluttering open, body tensing and Missy backed up some, knew Jarrod had leveled the gun at him. She didn't want to get in the way of his aim.
Took him a second to come full awake but when he did it was like a snap she could almost hear; something in his eyes changed -- they got wide for a moment when he jerked on the ropes, then narrowed. His eyes were a pretty brown-green color. He looked at her then at Jarrod with the gun for a long moment. Then at his hands, testing the knots but Jarrod tied good knots. He pulled himself up anyway, much as he could, hunched over.
Daddy was right. He was a big feller, looked bigger sitting up, but he wasn't kicking at her, only testing his tied hands, then relaxing a little when he realized he couldn't get free. His eyes moved over the cage, over the open door and he tensed up again, but he looked at her, then down at the plate by her knees. "That for me?" he asked, kind of soft and quiet. His voice sounded rough and hoarse.
She nodded and got down on her hands and knees, heard Jarrod shift behind her. "Uh huh. I brought it. Breakfast for you. You want it?" she asked him.
He stared at the plate of food and she thought he got a little paler but the corners of his mouth turned up a little and he tugged at the ropes, licked his lips. "A little hard to eat with my hands tied, but thank you."
Well, at least he was polite. That was good thing. "You been sleeping since the boys brought you here. I wanted to make sure you were okay. You got a name?" she asked him. "I'm Missy."
He blinked at her then nodded. "Yeah. My name's Sam." His voice was kind of low.
"Sam…like Samuel in the bible?"
"Like that, yeah. Missy, what…am I--why am I here?" he asked, then started coughing.
Missy picked up the cup. "It's water," she said and he tensed, trying to stop the coughing and Missy came up on her knees.
"Missy!" Jarrod hissed at her, but she reached out, grabbed Sam's shoulder and held the cup to his mouth so he could drink. Just a swallow, and he coughed again, clearing his throat, but it helped. She offered it again and he sipped deeper, careful and slow, and she smiled at him.
"Thank you." he said, not taking any more. "Would you tell me why I'm here?" he asked her, eyes on her.
"The boys brung you," she said.
His eyes flickered over to Jarrod. "Boys…that guy there--"
Missy glanced back. Jarrod was shifting, foot to foot, he was getting nervous. "That's Jarrod. He's the oldest."
"Missy, that's enough!" Jarrod said, snapped at her. "Come on out of there. Right now."
She thought about it, but she was pushing her luck, pushing Jarrod'd patience. She set the cup down carefully and backed up. "I gots to go now, Samuel," she said and cleared the door. Pushed it shut. He never took his eyes off her and she smiled at him. It startled him, when the lock set.
She stayed there, and took the gun when Jarrod went over to untie the ropes from the bars. Jarrod loosened the knots enough for Samuel to get his hands free, then pulled the rope through. He took the gun back.
"Time to go, Missy."
She lingered though, watching Samuel rub at his wrists. "You should eat. I made those biscuits special. There's honey in the middle," she said.
"Missy. Now," Jarrod said again and she backed away. "Git back to the house," he snapped at her and started up the path.
He was still mad. Jarrod didn't get mad at her often but when he did… he'd tell Pa what she'd done and that would make Pa mad. Stupid. She was the one that was stupid. She started to follow, but then she heard him, talking quiet-like to the other one.
Samuel had a nice voice and nice eyes. Hadn't cussed or nothing. Hadn't even tried to grab Jarrod when he untied his hands. She might have gotten to see him smile more if Jarrod hadn't been so grouchy.
"…I was looking for you. My brother is out there too…"
She chewed on her lip. Someone was gonna be looking for him. A brother. That wasn't good. She stared at her own brother's back, following him slowly.
Samuel had family. Family that would hunt for him. She should tell Pa, but she knew what would happen. He might have promised her, but family came first. If he thought someone would be looking for Samuel, he'd kill him quick, wouldn't wait. He'd take the body someplace where it'd be found, away from them. Had happened before, when the boys weren't careful.
She should tell him.
She would. She would tell him…just…wasn't her fault that Jarrod and Lee hadn't been careful. Figured they find something she wanted then mess it up so she couldn't have it.
She would tell Pa…just, just…not yet. It had been a day. Only a day. Wasn't nobody gonna find them this quick. Too far out.
She liked his eyes, and his voice. Liked his quiet ways, that little smile he'd almost given her. All nice manners and quiet voice.
She ran to catch up with Jarrod, caught his hand. "Thank you," she said and he stopped, looked down at her. "For letting me."
"You got some strange ideas in your head, girl," he said but he squeezed her hand back. "Why you want to talk to him for?"
She shrugged. "Just to see if he was nice. And he was…didn't you think so, Jarrod?"
Jarrod started laughing and she felt the annoyance bubble up inside, wanted to hit him. Laughing at her. But no, no.
"I guess. But you cain't do that again, Missy. You know what they're like. They's dogs in a cage. Turn mean, just like that. You know that," he said seriously.
He wasn’t wrong.
"I know. But…" she hesitated. "It'll be all right, Jarrod. You wait and see."
She'd need to talk to Pa, quick like. Needed to make sure he kept his word. If there was someone looking for Samuel she wouldn't be able to keep him after all.
But she could still have him. She'd make sure Pa let her have him. Just for a little bit. Then she'd tell them. Pa would be mad. But if she was already in the carrying way, he'd only hit her a little bit. He never had hit momma when she was carrying. Not that she could remember.
She'd tell him, just…later.