fess up, Kid,” Teaspoon said in a singsong manner.
audibly and whispered his most kept secret in the older man’s ear. “James Hickok.”
Hickok awoke in the middle of
the night, a
sharp pain cutting through her. She took a deep breath, steadying
another sharp pain came, she couldn't control herself from crying out.
reached out on the bed, looking for her husband, but came out empty.
she called, but received no answer.
opened hesitantly. "Mama?" Eight year old Jed
came to stand by her.
"Oh, Jed," Sarah
whispered. "The baby's coming. Please go to the barn, maybe your
Jed came back a couple of
seconds later, his breath heavy from
his run. "He's not there, mama. Neither is his horse."
Sarah closed her eyes. She was
accustomed to her husband's
disappearances, but now was not a good time, not that it ever was. He
was her time, he knew she was close and that it could be at any moment.
could he leave her?
again as another sharp pain assaulted her. Jed's
face crumbled with worry.
ok, son," Sarah tried to calm
son as well as herself. "We will have to do it by ourselves, Jed. Can you help me?"
Jed nodded and came closer.
the kitchen and boil some water. Then come back here and bring with you
clean towels from the wardrobe."
Jed, though more frightened
than he'd ever been, ran down the
stairs, anxious to help his mother. A short time later he came back to
room, carrying a pot full of boiling water and a couple of fresh
neared the bed warily. His mother's eyes were closed, and her forehead
creased with effort. Beads of sweat dotted her skin, and her hair was
her eyes slowly when she sensed her son next to her. "I need you to be
brave boy, now, Jed. I need
ride to town and get the doctor here. Can you do it?"
Jed nodded solemnly. He went
back to the small barn, which also
served as stables to the small Virginia
bothering to use a saddle, he mounted the horse and rode as fast as he
By the time Jed came back with the doctor, about an hour
later, Sarah was already
holding the small baby in her arms.
The doctor ushered Jed out of
and went to check on the mother and baby.
is your husband, Mrs.
away on business," she answered weakly, not even considering not
up for her husband. It was nobody's business where he was. She knew how
ran in town, and she was determined to keep face.
you feel?" the doctor asked kindly.
but other than that I'm fine. How's the baby?" Sarah
worried. "I tried to nurse him, but he wouldn't suck."
babies don't suck immediately. It doesn't mean anything's wrong," the
doctor explained as he examined the baby. "Your baby boy seems to be
fine. Have you thought of a name for him?"
David Hickok." She smiled at her
baby as the doctor put him back in her arms. "After both his
how's my boy?" William
asked, picking up his one year old son.
reached his small hands into his father's mouth, which made the older
laugh, pretending to nibble on the small fingers.
Polly came out of the kitchen,
wiping her hands in a towel.
"I wasn't expecting you back until tomorrow." She kissed him softly.
"How long are you going to stay this time?"
William sighed and put the baby
back in the cradle. "I don't
know, Polly." He followed her
back into the kitchen and sat by the table. Polly
brought him a steaming cup of coffee. "Where are the girls?"
are at school. How long?" she asked again.
I don't know!" William
answered impatiently. "I'm here now, and I'll leave when I have to. You
know how it is."
Polly sat next to her husband
and started massaging his arm.
"I'm sorry, William, I didn't
mean to upset you, it's just that you haven't been around this past
I miss you."
you do," he said, pulling her to his lap, "and I miss you too. But
what I'm doing is important, it's something my son will be proud of
knowing he was being talked about, the baby started to fuss. "I'd
see to him. It's his feeding time."
William stood in the door of his
bedroom, watching as his wife
nursed their son. After two girls, the boy was a challenge to Polly. Both girls were easy babies. They
through most of the night, almost from the start and didn't demand so
attention as his son did. He knew Polly
was exhausted; he saw it in the way she held their son. Despite
loved her, and he loved his kids. When she was done nursing, he
and offered to take the baby from her so she could have some rest
girls came back.
Polly lay on the bed, her eyes
closing. Before she fell asleep, a
smile crept to her lips at hearing her husband scolding their son.
Butler Hickok, you're giving your mother a hard time…"
James ran down the stairs of
the main house as he saw his father
papa, you're home," the young boy exclaimed. At five years old, James already understood his father was
frequently. Most of the time it was just him and his mother. Jed, his older brother was also absent quite
At the age of 13, Jed had a
finding himself in trouble. James
looked up to his brother, even though he knew his mother didn't approve
of Jed's antics.
William dismounted his horse and
went inside the house, not
acknowledging his son. James
after his father, tears pricking his eyes. He missed his father so much
behaving real good, helping his mother with the small farm, and taking
her as she got sicker.
after his father when he heard the sound of shattering glass, followed
scream he recognized to be his mother’s. He ran towards the house,
defend his mother against her attacker, not considering for a second it
be his father.
made it through the front door, when a slap to his face threw him off
and into the coat-rack. The wind knocked out of him, all he could do
sprawled on the floor, and watch as his father beat his mother into a
tried to stand up, but with his body shaking terribly, he failed. He
the floor towards his parent.
no!" his mother panted, drawing his
father's attention, once again, to him.
This was the
last thing he remembered of that day.
He awoke the
next morning, his mother hovering over him, sobbing silently. His
baby, thank god you're awake." His mother smiled at him, kissing his
knuckles, caressing his face.
Jed called. "Now, can I
for?" Sarah asked, gazing at
older son. "What good will that do?"
would kill him so he could never hurt you again."
Sarah cried and came to
stand in front
of her son, holding him by the shoulders. "You will do no such thing!
was all my fault anyway, for not readying lunch for him. He works so
all I had to do was make lunch. He was right to be angry with me, Jed."
are you talking about, Ma? You had no idea he was coming. And it was
for lunch anyhow. How long are you going to keep up with this? When he
you off, or maybe one of us?"
speak like that, Jed. Your
Jed rolled his eyes and
exited the room.
James tried to sit up.
Sarah came rushing to his side.
"Don't try to sit,
sweetheart. You're hurt pretty bed."
did Papa hurt us?" James
tears running down his face.
worry about this now, honey. You did nothing wrong. It was all my
father loves you, he was angry at me, and was too upset to notice it
was you he
was hurting. I'm sorry, baby. Can you forgive me?" Sarah
James nodded. He wasn't sure he
accepted his mother's explanation,
but he wanted to please her. He had a feeling it was important to her
accepted what she said.
"Ma, James is bothering us again," Celinda called
from the yard, where she and Lydia
Polly came out from the house,
a small smile on her face. She
looked at her two daughters, who were trying to play with their dolls,
their six years old brother tried to grab one of the dolls from them. "Jimmy, why don't you come with me," Polly suggested.
to play with the dolls too." Jimmy
stomped his foot down.
your help with feeding the horses, Jimmy.
Please come and help me."
As soon as Jimmy heard his mother, all thoughts of the
escaped him. Polly smiled as
watched Jimmy run towards the
Her son sure loved the horses. There was one Palomino, which was his
but all the horses gained special attention from him.
finished Polly ruffled Jimmy's hair affectionately. She smiled
thoughts of her absent husband assaulted her. She was already used to
trips with the abolitionists. His job was important. She knew that, and
proud of him. Slavery is wrong! She believed in freedom for all, but
believed that a man should be with his family. She missed him so much,
knew her kids missed him too.
why are you sad?" Jimmy asked
suddenly, pulling on her hand.
in her six year old sons voice brought tears to her eyes. "Nothing,
sweetheart. Everything will be alright."
you missing pa?" Jimmy asked
Polly smiled through her tears.
She nodded, unable to voice her
worry, ma. He will come back soon. I'll take care of you until he does."
Polly pulled Jimmy close
to her chest. "I love you so much, Jimmy.
You're so special. Do you know that?"
Jimmy nodded proudly.
Polly held Jimmy's face
in her hands. "You listen to me, Jimmy Hickok,"
she started. Jimmy looked
her. "Someday you are going to make some lady feel very special.
my words. You just treat her right, like you do your ma."
Jimmy nodded, not fully
understanding what his mother was telling
James sat under the old tree,
at the end of their farm, his back
resting against the trunk. He smiled at the figure coming towards him.
thought I might find you here." Doritha smiled at him.
needed to think in quiet for a while." He looked back down, nipping at
want me to leave, then?" Doritha whispered disappointedly.
James cried, suddenly
might actually leave. "I'm glad you're here."
on the grass next to him and rested her head on his shoulder. She’d
known James since forever.
She knew about his father, about
his mischievous brother, but she couldn't remember when was the last
saw him so gloomy.
going on?" she asked quietly.
got a letter yesterday," he started, avoiding her eyes. "As she read
it she started crying, and wouldn't stop for hours. I couldn't calm her
After a couple of hours I called for the doctor. He came and sedated
this morning, when she woke up(,) she started crying again. I just
stay inside the house any longer." James
looked at his hands, ashamed for not being able to better help his
ok," Doritha comforted him softly. "There's probably nothing you can
do about it anyway." She caressed his curls. "Have you read it?"
she asked curiously.
James nodded and a tear escaped
his eye. He wasn't ashamed of
crying in front of Doritha, and it wasn't the first time. "It's a
Pa. Basically he tells her he will not be coming back." He wiped the
with the back of his hand. "I honestly don't understand why she's so
about it. It's not like he's been here much in the past couple of
years," James remarked
bitterly. "And anytime he was
here he would beat her and me almost to death. We're better off without
sat in silence for a few minutes, before James
rose to his feet. "I should better check on her."
Doritha to her feet. Suddenly he grabbed her arms and pulled her
He held her close for a second before he lowered his lips to hers. The
soft and light. It ended as abruptly as it started. James
pulled away and locked his eyes with hers. "Thank you for being here
me," he whispered.
Jimmy glanced one final time at
his home, before he rode off.
He wished he
could wipe the events of the previous day away, but he knew he would
He spent an
hour washing his hands time and again, trying to clean off the blood
no longer there. Images of his father, taking his last breath in his
He hated his
father for dying so pointlessly. Leaving him totally alone in the
his mother passed away a year before. If only it was in a heroic act of
slaves, at least he would have something to take comfort in, but this,
his father did to help others, usually at the expense of his own
to be stabbed at the hand of a drunken slaver, seemed so unremarkable.
Jimmy knew his father was
disappointed in him. William
always wished he had a son who would follow his footsteps. He never
own son would take after his mother. In Nathan,
Celinda's husband, he finally found what he desired in a son. Jimmy couldn't blame Nathan,
but still hated him for that.
caught him saddling his horse and tried to persuade him to stay, but he
wouldn't comply. Too many painful memories haunted him there. All he
to make something of himself, free of his father's shadow.
In Kansas, everyone knew
was. There was no chance for anyone related to escape 'the Cause'. Jimmy wanted nothing to do with it. He
in slavery, but then again, he believed, like his mother, that a man
take care of his own family before he went off to rescue strangers.
James looked at the fresh
grave, which held his dead mother. There
were only him, Doritha and the priest at the small cemetery. He had no
where Jed was and was not
able to send
him a letter. Doritha held his hand firmly in hers, encouraging him. James did not cry that day, or the previous
days since his mother’s death. He was not consumed by grief. It was
anger and hatred
that filled him. He hated his father now more than he ever did. More
he beat him.
that day his father's letter came, his mother never returned to the way
been before. Her health deteriorated rapidly, until a month ago she
even sit in bed. James cared
bringing her soup and washing her up. With Doritha's help, he managed
changes her soiled sheets.
He was angry
with Jed as well. About a
the letter came, Jed came for
visit. His mother's eyes lit as she, in her disoriented state of mind,
him for his father. Neither James
nor Jed had the heart to
correct her. Jed stayed for a
couple of days before he left again.
Though he promised he'd be back shortly, that was the last time James had heard from him.
James returned to his home
alone. He closed the front door behind
him and leaned his back against it. He sat on the floor, still against
When James awoke the next morning, his whole body
from sleeping on the hard floor. He went to the kitchen in an attempt
some breakfast, but the pantry was empty. There was nothing to eat.
his clothes, packed a couple of shirts and a few other items, and
not looking back even once.
all my father had in the safe," Doritha apologized as she handed him
will do until I find a job," James
pocketed the bills.
don't have to leave, you know." Doritha tried to persuade. "You can
stay here with my family."
James shook his head. "You know
I can't, Doritha. We've
talked about it before." He pulled her into his embrace. He kissed her
head as she sobbed against his chest.
I have the feeling I'm not going to see you again?" she asked as her
He pushed her
a little, just so he could look into her eyes. His arms still circled
waist. He kissed her lips softly. "I'll send for you," James promised. "You just wait for me and
send for you." He kissed her again and mounted the horse she brought
him. Without another word, he rode off.
James followed the only lead he
had on his father – the address on
the letter from two years before – Independence, Missouri.
arrived in Independence He asked the marshal, asked at the mercantile,
asked at church, though he knew his father was not a religious man. No
there knew his father, but someone advised he searched in Kansas.
suggested he arrived in Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas
tired and hungry. He dismounted at the local mercantile, wishing to buy
food for his journey, when he heard his father's name. Apparently he
the year's anniversary of his father's death. A memorial service was
be held later that day at the town's church. James
decided to attend at the service. From what he heard, he understood
father was the leader of the abolitionist group that operated in the
was shocked when he overheard a couple of old ladies talk about his
orphaned children. Now all the disappearances made sense. His father
another family, a thousand miles away
felt it hard to breathe. The fact that his father was dead meant
him. He was indifferent to that fact. Also, the fact that his mother
his father's only wife, seemed less significant. What really knocked
out of him was the realization that he had other siblings.
if he should introduce himself to his father's family, but decided to
for the time, see what he was up against. The service was an educating
experience for him. He learned that his father's other wife was already
He felt guilty, but the knowledge made him happy. He also learned that
two older sisters – Celinda and Lydia.
A conversation between Celinda's husband and one of his friends that he
happened to overheard informed him of another brother he had, who for
reason was absent from the service. He gasped when he heard his
brother's name, James Butler Hickok.
James stood at the end of the
row. There were other five young men
like himself there. He glanced sideways at them. An Indian, a
with a cocky smile, a bald one, one that seemed to be asleep, and a
that stood right next to him. They were all waiting for the man in the
trough to emerge.
three years since he left home. At first he had the money he borrowed
Doritha, and that old horse as well, but after a year of traveling, the
ran out. He found some odd jobs along his way westward. He felt bad
finally had to sell the horse, but hunger got the best of him.
After he first learned about his half
considered introducing himself, but thought better of it. They were
to him. The blood connection meant nothing at that point. He decided to
things as they were and not complicate them anymore.
He was lucky
to find this new job as a Pony Express rider after almost three years
traveling aimlessly and, basically just trying to survive.
The man in the trough emerged finally and
started on with
the line of men. First, he addressed the Indian. Then he reached the
one. James's eyes almost
popped out of
their sockets as he heard the man's name. He breathed heavily, trying
man reached the small one next to him, and James
still tried to figure out a name to use. Before he knew it, the man was
front of him.
guess you're a dead-shot too, ha? Hard as nails…" the man asked.
the work," James answered.
with relief when the man finished his interrogation. Now he had some
to figure out a name for himself.
hard on the subject, there was only one nickname that kept popping up
mind, no matter how hard he tried to avoid it. 'Kid' – his father's
for him. Now he understood the probable reason for it – his father
a son named 'James'. He gave
younger son the less than flattering nickname so he wouldn't get
confused. To James’s dismay, Jed
also used this nickname quite often.
Indian asked for his name, James
already knew this was his fate. "People call me Kid." He managed a
The Indian squinted his eyes,
contemplating whether he was
being made fun of. Seeing the seriousness in James's
face, he decided the man was telling the truth.
later James tried to relax
bunkhouse wall. He heard shooting, and knew his half-brother was
It didn't take long for Jimmy
approach him, daring him to do better. James
tried to avoid the contest, but eventually complied.
When James was done shooting, and re-holstered
his gun, he
couldn't help but feel glad for outdoing his brother, though he didn't
on. The joyous feeling didn't last long. Before James
could holster his gun, Jimmy
his coat from over his own gun, as if readying himself for a gunfight.
James stared at his brother for
a few seconds, then walked away. Jimmy
are you afraid of me?" Jimmy
can get me into trouble," James
answered. "I don't want no trouble, and I don't want to hurt nobody."
just fooling." Jimmy slapped James's back.
weren't!" James snapped,
to face his brother.
"No, I wasn't," Jimmy
you act like that?" James
suddenly asked, wishing to understand.
Jimmy shrugged arrogantly. "I
James glared angrily for
another second, then broke the gaze and
didn't mean to get into trouble. Especially not with his brother. He
sure how much he knew of their father. He was afraid to say or do
might uncover the truth. He wasn't ready for that, yet.
closely at Jimmy, James could see the resemblance to their
for the first time, he was glad he took after his mother. Along the
father used to taunt him on his 'feminine' look. While he inherited his
mother's blue eyes and curly hair, it appeared that Jimmy
inherited his father's darker, straight hair and brown eyes.
The next few
weeks passed quickly. James
surprised at how at ease he felt among his fellow riders. Even his
with his half-brother was becoming more profound. For the first time in
he felt belonged. He loved Teaspoon like a father, and Emma
was like an older sister he always wished he had.
was Louise. When he first
the truth about her, he was horrified. His southern upbringing didn't
woman to behave like that, but he couldn't help falling in love with
was intelligent, kind, sweet, brave, and beautiful. He'd never met a
her. And he never felt that way towards any other woman. Not even
hadn't even thought about her in the last couple of years. He felt
not sending for her, but he was not the same man he was when he left Virginia
three years before. He felt like he had matured ten years. The hidden
secret he uncovered changed him more than he ever thought possible.
month after he started his new life at the Sweetwater Pony Express
while in town with Buck and Jimmy, James
saw someone he never thought he'd see again. Jed
wore army uniform. James was
seeing his brother so respectable. While introducing Jed
to Buck and Jimmy,
James couldn't help the
felt at the situation.
with Jed brought back painful
memories, but James decided
it was not
the time to share them with his fellow riders. He tried to make the
best out of
Jed's stay in town. What
the most was the ease in which Jed
Jimmy seemed to connect.
tranquility didn't last long, though. James
soon found out that his brother was not, in fact, a soldier, as he
an outlaw, attempting to steal gold. James
never felt so helpless. He was torn between his desire to help his
keeping his values. After much inner debate, he tried to warn Jed and asked him to leave, but Jed
When Jed's attempt to steal the gold failed, James tried to stop him from running away,
but Jed shot and wounded him.
walked into the livery, while Jed
still held the gun pointed at the wounded James.
James looked horrified
as Jimmy shot their brother. James
knelt by his dying brother, sobbing. Jimmy
came closer and offered James
sorry," Jimmy apologized.
James stared at him, but
offered no forgiveness. The whole event
felt surreal to him. There was his dead brother on the ground before
by their half-brother. James
over Jed's body as his
into the livery. He wanted to be comforted; he wanted to be hugged. He
badly to scream the truth, but nothing came out.
only Louise and Jimmy
remained in the livery with him. Jimmy
stood and walked to stand by the door, while Louise
moved closer to him. With Jimmy
watch, Louise caressed his
kissed his cheek softly.
James turned his eyes to meet
hers. She smiled sadly and reached
for his hand. James smiled
gratitude to her. She glanced around, checking that the coast was
she lowered her lips to his. The kiss they shared was short, like the
shared before, but James felt
he would survive this blow.
A strong bond grew between James
and Jimmy as they both
respect each other. James was
tempted to tell his brother the truth, but each time something kept him
Their friendship was not without trouble. James
owed Jimmy his life and vice
They seldom agreed on anything, but held each other's backs no matter
of telling Louise, as their
relationship grew more and more intimate, but never had the guts to do
felt blessed to have found her. He felt she was the kind of woman he
to grow old with. When he felt their relationship rushing faster than
how to handle, he asked Jimmy
guidance. Jimmy smiled
advised him to 'dance'.
never forget his 'dance' with Louise.
She never looked more beautiful to him, and he never loved her as much.
first time in his life, he felt complete. As long as he loved Louise and she loved him back, he knew it
matter who his father was, how much he suffered in childhood, or even
brother was. All that mattered was him and her.
after James's seventeenth
and Jimmy rode together to Kansas. Though James volunteered for the ride along with Jimmy, to go and look for their black
friend, Noah, the thought of
coming back to Kansas
with his brother made him feel a bit
territory, James was
surprised at the
wariness on Jimmy's face.
wrong, Jimmy?" James asked as he rode beside his brother.
"It's Kansas," Jimmy
thought you grew up here," James
did," Jimmy sighed.
James realized he never did
find out what made his brother leave Kansas, and not even
attending their father's funeral. There wasn't really an opportunity
for him to
ask, without divulging how he knew that.
entered the small town, they were welcomed by a protesting crowd.
one thing makes a courthouse draw a crowd like this – a runaway slave
trial," Jimmy remarked.
at least they're getting a trial," James
father belonged to The Vigilance Committee. Got himself killed for the
You see all the good that it did," Jimmy
must have believed in what he was doing.” The words were out of his
before James realized it.
What was he
doing – defending his father? What did his father ever do to deserve it
Jimmy shook his head. "Seems
like people ought to take care
of their own before they try to go about saving the world."
They found Noah in a slave compound, and decided they
more help. They agreed that James
would stay in town, while Jimmy
to Ft. Leavenworth, to try and recruit
brother-in-law and the committee.
rode into Ft.
He couldn't help the anxiety he felt at the prospect of the reunion
sister and her husband. After six years, he had no idea how they'd
seeing him again. For six years they hadn't heard from him. He never
showed up to his own father's funeral. He never explained, never
wasn't sure he understood the reasons himself, but something held him
surprise, Nathan and the
weren't too happy to help him out. He confronted them, telling them
measure up to his father. He stalked off, hurrying to return to Kid's
On his way
back, he was caught up with Nathan
a bunch of others he recognized from the committee. Nathan
smiled at him, telling him it was Celinda, who made them change their
coming to help. They managed to free Noah
and the other slaves, killing the slave owner in the process.
On their way
back to Sweetwater, Jimmy
they pass through Ft.
Once there, Jimmy went
straight to the
cemetery. James stood at a
giving his brother the time he needed in front of their father's grave.
never did say a proper goodbye. Never understood what was so important
had to die for. I guess I do now. I just wanted you to know I'm sorry I
that against you."
As Jimmy put the flowers on their father's
grave, James neared him. He
was surprised to feel nothing as
he stood at the place where his father was buried. He was glad to see
his brother seemed to find some peace at last. Though he still didn't
understand, he understood enough to know there was some hard ground
between Jimmy and their
father, on the account of his
abolitionist activities. He wondered, and not for the first time, how Jimmy would react if he knew his father, not
a second, secret life, but in a pro-slave state.
James sat on the ground against
the trunk of a fallen tree, as the
others rested their horses by the creek, on their way back from
rescuing Amanda, Teaspoon's
adopted daughter, from Frank Pike.
He thought back on the events of the previous days, and the weeks that
Only a few
weeks have passed since he and Jimmy
returned from Kansas,
but so many have changed in this short time.
James recalled the despair he
felt when Louise
rejected his proposal, then the madness in which he fell for that
Now, from a perspective,
he couldn't understand what he was thinking. He berated himself for
on his relationship with Louise
without a fight. And now it seemed that his chances with her were close
He saw the
way in which his brother looked at her, as Jimmy
once said about himself – that was not the look of a brother watching
when he stared at Lou. And Jimmy had practically admitted he wanted her
with them. He chuckled sadly, as he realized he and his brother were
more alike than he cared to admit. What scared him the most was that Louise might also find them resembling
enough to fall
in love with Jimmy as she did
him. He never stopped loving her. He told her that in the letter he
her at the station before they all went on their latest 'adventure'. He
only wish she will agree to give their relationship another chance.
uncomfortably as he saw her coming to sit beside him.
gonna be alright, Kid," Louise
promised as she sat on the fallen tree.
you I'm worried about, Lou."
never should have come here. I told you in that letter.”
"You told me what you wanted, Kid. But
what you and I
got, well… we all got, is stronger. We're family. And if one of us is
trouble, the rest of us got to help out."
James smiled at her,
understanding her meaning. He wanted to tell
her then and there how he felt about her, take her in his arms and kiss
but Jimmy popped up behind
interrupting. He could almost swear he saw disappointment in Louise's eyes at Jimmy's
better between James and Louise. They reconciled and James
was determined this time he was going to do things right. He wasn't
rush her into anything.
told him her biggest secret. He swore to himself that he would tell her
soon. He was scared at what her reaction would be. Would she feel
Would she be angry at him? Would she laugh at him? Nevertheless, he
knew he had
to tell her.
But for now,
he was riding alongside his brother back to Kansas. It amazed James
how they seemed to be drawn there, though this time it was intended.
their sister, was about to give birth. They all teased Jimmy
about becoming an uncle. Jimmy
to act tough, but James knew
really felt. These were his feelings as well. He was excited at the
although he knew he had no right to feel that way. No one knew about
him. Not Jimmy, not Celinda,
and that baby probably never would either. And still, he was
He joshed Jimmy with the rest
but secretly felt jealous for not receiving the same treatment.
some minor problems along the way, they parted in Leavenworth, not before promising to
stay friends, even if things got worse. James
continued to Kansas City,
while Jimmy headed to
James returned to Leavenworth
a couple of days later, only to find that Jimmy
teamed with Isaiah Burke. James
of him. The man was an outlaw who killed a marshal in the back, but Jimmy already knew that, and he didn't seem
wished Jimmy wouldn't go with
Vigilance Committee, he was thankful for the opportunity to spend some
with his sister. Celinda was a beautiful woman, scared that her husband
not return, but still strong enough to keep faith in The Cause. He
heard Jimmy talk about the
subject with the same
enthusiasm. He was proud to have her for a sister. He wished he would
to truly introduce himself to her.
When Jimmy, Nathan,
Isaiah and the rest of the committee didn't come back after a few
hours, James and Rosemary
rode out to look for them. They found them in Missouri,
an hour ride from their target – the slave compound in Crown Point. Jimmy
told them about Isaiah being captured and his plans to go and get him
back. James volunteered to go
Isaiah and brought him back to his awaiting troops.
James watched as Jimmy
said goodbye to Rosemary. He
look before in his brother's eyes. He knew this look too well. Jimmy was falling for that woman, if not
love. James also realized
time around it might end just like the other times his brother fell for
woman. There were Sarah and Alice. And Lou.
He couldn't help the guilty smile that appeared on his face at the
thought of Louise. It was his
fault that Jimmy
had his heart broken by Louise.
yet, he would not have it any other way.
James never thought this day
would come. The woman he had been in
love with for a year and a half was walking down the aisle towards him.
was his brother that walked with her, about to give her away.
A lot had
happened since they asked Jimmy
walk Louise down the aisle,
until a few seconds ago, James
sure he'd do it.
to concentrate on the beautiful woman about to become his wife, but the
his latest fight with Jimmy
evident on their faces. As much as he wanted to block the images of
fighting a day before from his mind, there was his brother, walking
with Louise on his arm, the
cuts around his eyes
imprinting themselves in James's
He also tried to block the anger that built inside at Jimmy
for bringing that Rosemary
He shook his
head mentally, wishing nothing at the moment than to concentrate on his
and their wedding.
you didn't think I was gonna miss this." James
for coming, Jimmy." James smiled back; all was forgiven.
had begun, "Dearly beloved." James
was so nervous he
almost didn't hear anything from then on.
the moment we've all been waiting for." Teaspoon grinned.
do you promise to take…" Teaspoon
cleared his throat. "Time to fess up, Kid," he said in a singsong
James sighed audibly. He felt
his friends shift in their chairs
behind him hoping to hear his name. He whispered his most kept secret
older man’s ear. “James
looked flabbergasted. He was sure he heard right, and still… The look
face told him the young man was not ready to share it with the rest of
wedding guests. He cleared his throat again, giving James
a questioning look. James
shook his head.
do you promise to take… Kid…"
James heard the grunt of
disappointment from behind him, but was
relieved Teaspoon gave him the opportunity to tell Lou
himself. He vowed to himself that he would tell her later that night.
was so lost in his plans on how to tell her, that he couldn't even find
ring at first, what caused some more laughing from his friends. Anyway,
didn't matter to him. They could laugh all they wanted. Finally, he had
his Louise for a wife.
Nothing mattered anymore, as long
as she was with him.
James looked at his sleeping
wife. Her head was rested on his
right arm while his left encircled her waist. She breathed evenly in
her pupils moving under her lids, obviously in the middle of a dream.
that played on her lips told him it was a good dream.
her bare shoulder and smiled as she stirred. He kissed her shoulder
continued to kiss her exposed neck and nibble on her ear. She grunted
opened her eyes.
did you wake me up?" she asked, obviously annoyed.
He knew how she was when she was awakened from sleep, but he had to
before he lost his confidence.
to talk to you about something, Lou,"
he said seriously.
in his arms and looked in his eyes. The seriousness in his voice
"What is it, Kid?" she asked, fully awake.
James swallowed the lump in his
throat. "My name…" he
started. He had to chuckle at the expectant look on her face. "My name
called. "That was the big secret? James?
I was certain it was something weird, but… James?
Why the secrecy? Why couldn't you tell me?"
not my first name that was the problem," James
Lou raised her eyebrow.
"After all the fuss you made about
your name… it's only a last name. What can be so terrible about it?"
share it with." Kid looked away, unable to meet her gaze.
me? You shouldn't share it with anyone else, James,"
she joked, emphasizing the use of his name.
blurted out, unable to contain it any longer.
The smile on Louise
face vanished almost instantly. "Hickok?"
she cried and sat up abruptly.
James nodded, taken aback by
her reaction. He didn't know what to
expect from her, but it sure wasn't this.
she asked again. "Your name is James Hickok."
James nodded. "James David Hickok,
to be exact."
you… are you related?"
James breathed heavily before
answering. "Jimmy's my
He doesn't know."
do you mean he doesn't know? How do you know? Can't you be another Hickok?" Louise
asked, almost hysterical.
James shook his head. "We are
both the sons of the same William Hickok
from both Kansas and Virginia."
you know? What about the rest of your family?"
James couldn't suppress the
chuckle that came out of his mouth at
her flood of questions. Seeing her offended expression, he rushed to
"I'm sorry, Lou. I'm not
at you. It's not funny at all, actually." He pulled her into his
and rested her head beneath his chin. He kissed her hair softly. "Just
hear me out, I'll tell you everything."
quietly as James told her all
his family. His abusive father, his sick mother. He left nothing out as
poured his soul, his most hidden secrets to his wife. She asked no
and waited for him to finish. When he did she looked at his eyes. She
surprised to see them dry, after she felt like she cried a river at his
sadly at her. "I've done my share of crying years ago," he said as if
reading her thoughts.
She sat on
her knees in front of him and stared into his face. "You look nothing
Jimmy," she commented.
James laughed and pulled her
closer. "We had different
mothers, you know. I took after mine. Actually Jimmy
looks a lot like our father."
Lou touched his face with her
hand, tracing his features with
her fingers. She kissed his mouth softly and pulled back in search for
James smiled and kissed her,
more demandingly this time. He laid her
on the bed and kissed her neck. He stopped when he heard her giggle.
is it?" he asked baffled, a tinge of hurt in his voice.
can't believe I'm gonna make love to a Hickok…"
James smiled wickedly and
started to tickle her. "Who said
anything about making love?" he teased back.
alright, since you ask so nicely, I will make love to you, Mrs. Hickok."
are you going to tell him?" Louise
asked as they made their way from the hotel to the way station for
don't know, Lou. I have no
idea how to
can't delay it for too long, Kid," Lou
said, still uncomfortable to call him by his given name.
know," he sighed.
them outside the bunkhouse. He kissed Lou's
talk, Kid?" he asked.
James and Lou exchanged
glances, then James nodded.
started walking towards the corral and James
followed. Louise watched them
porch for a minute before she entered the bunkhouse.
didn't get a chance to talk about what you told me yesterday," Teaspoon
James shrugged. "Nothing to
talk about. That's my name,
know it's not that simple, Kid. Otherwise you wouldn't have hide it all
James stared ahead, not meeting
Teaspoon's stare. "I need to
figure out a way to tell Jimmy,"
he said finally. "Before I tell anyone else."
you told Louise yet?"
night. I told her everything. She thinks I should let Jimmy
know as soon as possible."
think she's probably right, Kid. The longer you wait with it the harder
be for you to tell and the harder it will be for Jimmy
James glanced at Teaspoon,
wondering just how much the man knew. James
only told him his name, but he knew Teaspoon
was a smart man, the smartest he'd ever met, and he must have figured
out. "It's not that simple, Teaspoon. It's not just my name, but…"
the reason you kept it a secret," Teaspoon cut him off. "I figured that
much out. I'm willing to listen if you wish to share it with me."
brothers," James blurted out
immediately. It was strange, but he suddenly felt relieved. Even his
to Lou the night before,
him feel that way. "Our father lived a double life. He had a
wife and kids in Kansas as well as in
When my mother passed away, I followed his trail and found out
everything. Jimmy was long
gone when I reached Kansas.
family doesn't know anything. Jed
didn't know either."
James heard Teaspoon draw a
deep breath. "Can it be a
different Hickok, Kid?"
James shook his head. "Lou
asked me the same thing last night. He had the same name. Both Jimmy
and I are named after our grandfather – our father's father. And Jimmy looks just like him. It's not a
Kid. It is a hard one," Teaspoon said after a few minutes of silence.
"I have no idea what advice to give you. All I know is that you have to
come clean with it as soon as possible. Your bond with Jimmy
is stronger than any bond between brothers. He will be upset at first,
probably take it out on
you, but he will come around eventually. Anyway, I'll always be here
as well as the others, and of course, your beautiful bride," Teaspoon
finished with an encouraging smile and a pat on the back.
James nodded and they both went
back to the bunkhouse.
couple of days passed in a haze to James.
He meant to talk to his brother as soon as breakfast was finished, but
hell broke loose.
they buried Noah, he decided
wait with the truth any longer. Louise
squeezed his hand in encouragement and he smiled sadly at her.
sure how he should approach Jimmy
what he had to say. A lot of bad words have been said between them over
past couple of days. The coming war affected them as well. James knew he had to tell Jimmy
the truth about him, about their family before it was too late.
He walked hand in hand with Louise
back to the way station and kissed her softly before leaving in search
displeasure, Jimmy was not
his greater discomfort, the person he was with was Rosemary.
Oh, how much he hated that woman. He didn't remember hating a person
since his father and Wicks. That woman have already caused so much
them, and so much malice between him and his best friend, his brother.
talk, Jimmy?" James asked as he reached them.
Jimmy's stoic stance broke a
little at the seriousness in his
friend, and he nodded. "Rosemary,
please excuse us."
Rosemary stared for a second
before nodding and walking away. They
both watched her in silence until she disappeared.
do you want, Kid?" Jimmy
you said that already. What is it?"
James took a deep breath; it
was going to be harder than he ever
expected it to be. Jimmy was
here," James requested.
sure have a nerve, Kid," Jimmy
blurted angrily. "First you want Rosemary
to go and now you want us to go someplace else. Just say what's on your
Jimmy," James pleaded. He
hated Jimmy for making him
beg, but he
had to get them away from the way station.
Jimmy glared silently and then
obliged. They walked to the stables
in silence and kept that way until they rode off. They reached James's thinking spot and dismounted. Jimmy glared, but James
just motioned for him to sit down.
Jimmy looked at James as
the latter paced back and forth, fidgeting with his hands.
with it, Kid." Jimmy was
nervous, just by watching Kid's restlessness.
James started, "but you
let me finish and you have to know that although you might think that,
everything I'm gonna tell you is the truth."
James cleared his throat. There
was no turning back now. "My
name…. My name, Jimmy, is James David Hickok."
Jimmy snorted in disbelief.
"You are joking, Kid,
James shook his head. "That's
not all, Jimmy.
My father's name was William
a weird coincidence, don't you think?" Jimmy
tried, not sure he wanted to hear any more of what Kid had to say.
James looked desperately at Jimmy.
"Jimmy, we're brothers. When
mother died, I followed my father's tracks. It led me to that cemetery
It was hard
for me to believe it too, but that's the truth, Jimmy.
All those times your father was gone, he was in Virginia
with my family. All those times he was away from my family he was with
sorry, Jimmy. I know it's a
take in. It took the whole two years since I found out and until I met
it to dawn on me. When we first came to Sweetwater and you said your
thought I was going to be sick. I knew about you. When I was in Leavenworth I
you, but I never thought I'd meet you like that. You are the reason I
give out my real name, Jimmy."
James took a break from his
speech, letting Jimmy
to take it in. The look on Jimmy's
face scared him, before he realized the anger was not towards him, but
you sure about this, Kid? Are you absolutely sure?" Jimmy
asked, not able to look at Kid.
James nodded. "I'm sure, Jimmy.
I wouldn't have said it if I wasn't."
else knows about this?" Jimmy
Teaspoon at the wedding when he asked for my name. I told Lou
that night. They are the only ones. I didn't think I should say
anyone else before I spoke with you."
Jimmy nodded. "So, what does
this mean?" he asked.
James shrugged. "Blood or no
you're my best friend. We all said we're like family long ago. In our
more than just a saying. The question now is do we tell the others, and
tell your sisters?"
you mean your sisters?" Jimmy
a small smile.
James chuckled. "I guess you're
right. It will take some
getting used to."
want to tell Cody, Buck, and Rachel?"
don't see why not, Jimmy.
They are our
friends, and they are like brothers to us. It will be easier for us, I
to have their support."
did Lou take the news?" Jimmy smiled.
James smiled back. "She was
shocked at first, obviously, but
I'm not sure she'll go by Mrs. Hickok."
Jimmy chuckled. "No, I guess it
will be too weird."
day they told the rest of their family. They all gathered at the
Teaspoon and Rachel, Cody and Buck,
and Rosemary. Lou
sat by her husband, not letting go of his hand. On his other side sat
James told the story for the
fourth time in just a few days. Every
time he told the story, it became more and more unreal, even to his own
brothers decided to leave for Kansas
first thing in the morning to tell their sisters. There was no point in
came, they were both mounting their horses. Louise
and Rosemary stood on the
and waved goodbye as they rode off.
way to Kansas
they shared stories of their childhoods. Each was amazed to learn of
father's two personalities.
went straight to Celinda's house.
"Oh, my god, Jimmy,
Kid, it's so good to see you! What are you doing here?" Celinda called
she opened the door and found them standing at her doorstep, the baby
Jimmy kissed his sister's cheek
and entered. James
tipped his hat at her as he stepped after Jimmy.
are you doing here?" Celinda asked again as she took in their
"Is Nathan here?" Jimmy
asked, looking around.
Celinda answered. "What is it, Jimmy?
You're starting to scare me."
begun to fuss and Celinda excused herself. "He needs to be fed. Will
Both Jimmy and James
nodded. After a few minutes, Celinda returned. "The baby's asleep. Now
tell me what's going on."
Jimmy leaned forward and stared
in her eyes. "Celinda, Kid
told me something that I think you should know. It's involving all of
looked bewildered from Jimmy
to James and back to Jimmy.
"What is it, Jimmy? Now I'm
James started, "How much
know of your father's activities?"
looked astounded. "What are you talking about, Kid? You know what he
did. Jimmy, what is he
my name is James. James David Hickok."
gasp escaped Celinda's mouth. She stared, wide eyed, at James,
then at Jimmy, who just
confirmation to her unasked question.
is our brother, Celinda. I couldn't believe
that myself at first, but it's the truth. Our father had another family
He had a wife and two children. Jed
was killed a year ago. James
shook her head, tears forming in her eyes. "You mean to tell me that
father, the abolitionist, not only had another family, but in Virginia
of all places? Can't you see how absurd this is, Jimmy?"
Jimmy moved to sit on the sofa
next to his sister. He took her
hands in his. "Celinda, honey, I know it's hard, but this is the
James started, his
by the minute. He felt so out of place, so unwelcomed, "he's dead. Only
thing left is what we want to do with that knowledge. Celinda, Jimmy and I are as close as any brothers
regardless of our blood relation. I would like to consider you my
well, but it's up to you. I wouldn't impose. I know how hard this must
James stood to leave, but
Celinda stopped him. "I want to
know more, Kid… I mean, James."
James smiled at her. "Kid is
find, Celinda. Anyway, I'm used
to it. James sounds foreign."
nodded. "Kid, then. I want to know all about you."
James sat back on the chair
across from her. He looked at Jimmy,
who nodded for him to continue.
know, I grew up in Virginia," he
He continued with this story, not leaving out any detail. He saw
Celinda had a
hard time comprehend the news that their father was abusive towards him
family. James finished with
events. He smiled proudly as he told her about Louise
and their wedding. Suddenly he missed his wife terribly. He couldn't
wait to be
back in Sweetwater.
with Celinda and Nathan that
answering any question that came their way. James
was happy to finally be able to not pretend and just be a part of the
He felt welcomed and belonged.
good to be back home," James
commented as they rode into Rock Creek.
is," Jimmy agreed. "So,
little brother, when do we start on building a house for you?"
James pondered on the question
for a couple of seconds. True, he
once thought he would go back to Virginia
to fight for his
home, but he realized his home was there, in Rock Creek, with his wife
friends. After all that happened, with Noah
dying and with his newfound family, he could finally put Virginia
in the past.
could answer Jimmy they
reached the station.
James dismounted before
his horse even
fully stopped as he spotted Lou
running down the stairs of the main house.
him and kissed him hungrily.
James broke the kiss, chuckling
at her enthusiasm. "What's
that for?" he laughed. "It's not like we haven't been apart this long
were never married before." She smiled shyly. "I missed you."
missed you too." James hugged
"How did it go?" Lou
asked, taking his hand in hers and walking with him to the stable.
well as can be expected," James
assured. "Celinda was shocked at first, of course, but when she got
her initial shock, it was fine. It's nice to have a sister, and a
will I have another one?" Jimmy
asked, hearing the last words as James
and Lou entered the stable.
Lou started to giggle.
James turned to face her, his
eyes wide open. The look he gave her
only made her laugh harder. "Lou,"
he scolded with a smile, "spit it out already."
only have about seven months to wait, Uncle Jimmy."
James's eyes grew even bigger.
"Are you sure?"
Louise nodded. "I went to the
doctor's yesterday and he
confirmed. You're going to be a father in a few months."
James lifted Louise in
his arms and twirled with her.
it's a girl I want to name her after you," James
promised, looking at his wife's eyes and putting a hand on her abdomen.
if it's a boy?" Louise asked.
long as it's not after his father we'll be fine," Jimmy
called from where he rubbed his horse down. "We have enough James Hickoks
as it is."
I had a lot of fun
story. I was high the whole time, with a goofy smile on my face.
I received a
lot of encouragement, and the whole writing process has been amazing.
I would like to
thank Lisa and Kathleen
for the hard work and long hours they both put in beta this story.
You guys are
also for the amazing graphics, they were all beautiful.
I'm blesses to have you as friends.