By: Carole

Buck Wilmington studied the pale face of the small boy nestled in his arms.  JD slept restlessly, waking every so often to snuggle closer to his father, but after several days and nights of cough-induced sleeplessness, Buck was relieved to see the boy finally getting even a small amount of the rest he so desperately needed.

"He okay?"

Looking up at the soft-spoken inquiry, Buck saw Chris Larabee standing in the doorway. 

Buck nodded.  "He's doin' a little better."  One hand came up to lightly caress JD's forehead.  "And his fever's 'bout gone."

Chris sighed in relief.  Crossing the room, he noted his friend's slumped posture and red-rimmed eyes.  "You look beat.  Want me to take him for a bit?"

Wilmington instantly tightened his arms around the small form he held, a frown forming on his handsome face.  "No."

"It's okay," Chris soothed.  "I understand."

"I can't let go of him just yet," Buck admitted, swallowing hard.  "Thought for a while I might lose him."

"I know."  Chris laid a supportive hand on Buck's shoulder.  "But he's gonna be fine."

"Yeah," Buck sighed out.  He took a moment to scrub a weary hand over his face.  "Guess I won't quite believe it until I see it, though."

Chris nodded in understanding.  "I'm gonna check on Vin, then head back to bed.  You need anything?"

Buck shook his head, looking down at his son.  "Nope, got everything I need right here."

Chris smiled.  "Yeah, you do." 

As Larabee turned and headed out of the room, Buck pulled his son a little closer.  Smiling faintly, he pressed a gentle kiss on the boy's hair before leaning back in the rocking chair, prepared to spend the rest of the night watching over the precious bundle in his arms.

March 2003