Rock Creek, 1861

“Time to fess up, Kid,” Teaspoon said in a singsong manner.

Kid sighed audibly and whispered his most kept secret in the older man’s ear. “James Hickok.”

Virginia, 1843

Sarah Elizabeth Hickok awoke in the middle of the night, a sharp pain cutting through her. She took a deep breath, steadying herself. When another sharp pain came, she couldn't control herself from crying out. Her hand reached out on the bed, looking for her husband, but came out empty.

"James!" she called, but received no answer. "James!"

The door 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 father's there."

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 knew it was her time, he knew she was close and that it could be at any moment. How could he leave her?

She cried again as another sharp pain assaulted her. Jed's face crumbled with worry.

"It's ok, son," Sarah tried to calm her son as well as herself. "We will have to do it by ourselves, Jed. Can you help me?"

Jed nodded and came closer.

"Go to the kitchen and boil some water. Then come back here and bring with you some 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 the room, carrying a pot full of boiling water and a couple of fresh towels. He neared the bed warily. His mother's eyes were closed, and her forehead was creased with effort. Beads of sweat dotted her skin, and her hair was matted to her face.

She opened her eyes slowly when she sensed her son next to her. "I need you to be a brave boy, now, Jed. I need you to 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 farm. Not bothering to use a saddle, he mounted the horse and rode as fast as he could towards town.

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 the room and went to check on the mother and baby.

"Where is your husband, Mrs. Hickok?"

"He's away on business," she answered weakly, not even considering not covering up for her husband. It was nobody's business where he was. She knew how gossip ran in town, and she was determined to keep face.

"How do you feel?" the doctor asked kindly.

"Tired, but other than that I'm fine. How's the baby?" Sarah worried. "I tried to nurse him, but he wouldn't suck."

"Sometimes 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 just fine. Have you thought of a name for him?"

"James. James David Hickok." She smiled at her baby as the doctor put him back in her arms. "After both his grandfathers."

Kansas, 1843

"Well, how's my boy?" William Alonzo Hickok asked, picking up his one year old son.

The child reached his small hands into his father's mouth, which made the older man 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?"

"They are at school. How long?" she asked again.

"Polly, 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 month, and I miss you."

"I know 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 when he grows up."

As if knowing he was being talked about, the baby started to fuss. "I'd better 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 slept through most of the night, almost from the start and didn't demand so much attention as his son did. He knew Polly was exhausted; he saw it in the way she held their son. Despite everything, he loved her, and he loved his kids. When she was done nursing, he approached her and offered to take the baby from her so she could have some rest before the 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.

"James Butler Hickok, you're giving your mother a hard time…"

Virginia, 1848

James ran down the stairs of the main house as he saw his father riding up.

"Papa, papa, you're home," the young boy exclaimed. At five years old, James already understood his father was absent frequently. Most of the time it was just him and his mother. Jed, his older brother was also absent quite often. At the age of 13, Jed had a knack of 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 stared after his father, tears pricking his eyes. He missed his father so much and was behaving real good, helping his mother with the small farm, and taking care of her as she got sicker.

He started after his father when he heard the sound of shattering glass, followed by a scream he recognized to be his mother’s. He ran towards the house, ready to defend his mother against her attacker, not considering for a second it would be his father.

He barely made it through the front door, when a slap to his face threw him off balance and into the coat-rack. The wind knocked out of him, all he could do was lay sprawled on the floor, and watch as his father beat his mother into a pulp. He tried to stand up, but with his body shaking terribly, he failed. He crawled on the floor towards his parent.

"James, 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 brother was pacing restlessly.

"Oh, baby, thank god you're awake." His mother smiled at him, kissing his knuckles, caressing his face.

"Good," Jed called. "Now, can I go after him?"

"What for?" Sarah asked, gazing at her older son. "What good will that do?"

"I would kill him so he could never hurt you again."

"No!" Sarah cried and came to stand in front of her son, holding him by the shoulders. "You will do no such thing! It was all my fault anyway, for not readying lunch for him. He works so hard, and all I had to do was make lunch. He was right to be angry with me, Jed."

"What are you talking about, Ma? You had no idea he was coming. And it was too early for lunch anyhow. How long are you going to keep up with this? When he finishes you off, or maybe one of us?"

"Don't speak like that, Jed. Your father loves us."

Jed rolled his eyes and exited the room.

"Mama." James tried to sit up.

Sarah came rushing to his side. "Don't try to sit, sweetheart. You're hurt pretty bed."

"Why did Papa hurt us?" James asked, tears running down his face.

"Don't worry about this now, honey. You did nothing wrong. It was all my fault. Your 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 cried.

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 that he accepted what she said.

Kansas, 1848

"Ma, James is bothering us again," Celinda called from the yard, where she and Lydia were playing.

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, while their six years old brother tried to grab one of the dolls from them. "Jimmy, why don't you come with me," Polly suggested.

"I want to play with the dolls too." Jimmy stomped his foot down.

"I need your help with feeding the horses, Jimmy. Please come and help me."

As soon as Jimmy heard his mother, all thoughts of the dolls escaped him. Polly smiled as she watched Jimmy run towards the stables. Her son sure loved the horses. There was one Palomino, which was his favorite, but all the horses gained special attention from him.

When they finished Polly ruffled Jimmy's hair affectionately. She smiled sadly, as thoughts of her absent husband assaulted her. She was already used to his long trips with the abolitionists. His job was important. She knew that, and was proud of him. Slavery is wrong! She believed in freedom for all, but she also believed that a man should be with his family. She missed him so much, and she knew her kids missed him too.

"Ma, why are you sad?" Jimmy asked her suddenly, pulling on her hand.

The concern in her six year old sons voice brought tears to her eyes. "Nothing, sweetheart. Everything will be alright."

"Are you missing pa?" Jimmy asked cleverly.

Polly smiled through her tears. She nodded, unable to voice her answer.

"Don't 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 intently at her. "Someday you are going to make some lady feel very special. Remember my words. You just treat her right, like you do your ma."

Jimmy nodded, not fully understanding what his mother was telling him.

Virginia, 1855

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.

"I thought I might find you here." Doritha smiled at him.

"I just needed to think in quiet for a while." He looked back down, nipping at the grass.

"Do you want me to leave, then?" Doritha whispered disappointedly.

"No!" James cried, suddenly panicked she might actually leave. "I'm glad you're here."

Doritha sat 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 time she saw him so gloomy.

"What's going on?" she asked quietly.

"Mama 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 down. After a couple of hours I called for the doctor. He came and sedated her, but this morning, when she woke up(,) she started crying again. I just couldn't stay inside the house any longer." James looked at his hands, ashamed for not being able to better help his mother.

"It's 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 letter from Pa. Basically he tells her he will not be coming back." He wiped the tears with the back of his hand. "I honestly don't understand why she's so upset 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 him anyhow."

They both sat in silence for a few minutes, before James rose to his feet. "I should better check on her."

He helped Doritha to her feet. Suddenly he grabbed her arms and pulled her towards him. He held her close for a second before he lowered his lips to hers. The kiss was soft and light. It ended as abruptly as it started. James pulled away and locked his eyes with hers. "Thank you for being here with me," he whispered.

Kansas, 1855

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 never be able to.

He spent an hour washing his hands time and again, trying to clean off the blood that was no longer there. Images of his father, taking his last breath in his arms, assaulted him.

He hated his father for dying so pointlessly. Leaving him totally alone in the world, after his mother passed away a year before. If only it was in a heroic act of freeing slaves, at least he would have something to take comfort in, but this, this had no reason.

After all his father did to help others, usually at the expense of his own family, only to be stabbed at the hand of a drunken slaver, seemed so unremarkable.

Jimmy knew his father was disappointed in him. William Alonzo Hickok always wished he had a son who would follow his footsteps. He never thought his 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.

Celinda 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 wished was to make something of himself, free of his father's shadow.

In Kansas, everyone knew who William Alonzo Hickok was. There was no chance for anyone related to escape 'the Cause'. Jimmy wanted nothing to do with it. He didn't believe in slavery, but then again, he believed, like his mother, that a man should take care of his own family before he went off to rescue strangers.

Virginia, 1857

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 idea 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 couple of 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 than when he beat him.

Ever since that day his father's letter came, his mother never returned to the way she had been before. Her health deteriorated rapidly, until a month ago she couldn’t even sit in bed. James cared for her, bringing her soup and washing her up. With Doritha's help, he managed to changes her soiled sheets.

He was angry with Jed as well. About a year after the letter came, Jed came for a short visit. His mother's eyes lit as she, in her disoriented state of mind, confused 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 the door and wept.

When James awoke the next morning, his whole body ached from sleeping on the hard floor. He went to the kitchen in an attempt to make some breakfast, but the pantry was empty. There was nothing to eat.

He changed his clothes, packed a couple of shirts and a few other items, and headed out, not looking back even once.


"This is all my father had in the safe," Doritha apologized as she handed him the money.

"That will do until I find a job," James pocketed the bills.

"You 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.

"Why do I have the feeling I'm not going to see you again?" she asked as her tears subsided.

He pushed her a little, just so he could look into her eyes. His arms still circled her waist. He kissed her lips softly. "I'll send for you," James promised. "You just wait for me and I'll send for you." He kissed her again and mounted the horse she brought for 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.


Once he arrived in Independence He asked the marshal, asked at the mercantile, he even asked at church, though he knew his father was not a religious man. No one there knew his father, but someone advised he searched in Kansas.

Doing as suggested he arrived in Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas tired and hungry. He dismounted at the local mercantile, wishing to buy some food for his journey, when he heard his father's name. Apparently he arrived on the year's anniversary of his father's death. A memorial service was planned to be held later that day at the town's church. James decided to attend at the service. From what he heard, he understood that his father was the leader of the abolitionist group that operated in the town. He was shocked when he overheard a couple of old ladies talk about his father's orphaned children. Now all the disappearances made sense. His father had another family, a thousand miles away

Suddenly he felt it hard to breathe. The fact that his father was dead meant nothing to him. He was indifferent to that fact. Also, the fact that his mother was not his father's only wife, seemed less significant. What really knocked the wind out of him was the realization that he had other siblings.

He pondered if he should introduce himself to his father's family, but decided to stay low 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 dead. He felt guilty, but the knowledge made him happy. He also learned that he had 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 some reason was absent from the service. He gasped when he heard his newfound brother's name, James Butler Hickok.

Sweetwater, 1860

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 brown-haired one with a cocky smile, a bald one, one that seemed to be asleep, and a smaller one that stood right next to him. They were all waiting for the man in the water trough to emerge.

It’d been three years since he left home. At first he had the money he borrowed from Doritha, and that old horse as well, but after a year of traveling, the money ran out. He found some odd jobs along his way westward. He felt bad when he finally had to sell the horse, but hunger got the best of him.

After he first learned about his half siblings, he considered introducing himself, but thought better of it. They were strangers to him. The blood connection meant nothing at that point. He decided to leave 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 of 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 second one. James's eyes almost popped out of their sockets as he heard the man's name. He breathed heavily, trying to gain his composure.

The older 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 in front of him.

"I guess you're a dead-shot too, ha? Hard as nails…" the man asked.

"I need the work," James answered.

He sighed with relief when the man finished his interrogation. Now he had some more time to figure out a name for himself.

Thinking hard on the subject, there was only one nickname that kept popping up in his mind, no matter how hard he tried to avoid it. 'Kid' – his father's nickname for him. Now he understood the probable reason for it – his father already had a son named 'James'. He gave his younger son the less than flattering nickname so he wouldn't get confused. To James’s dismay, Jed also used this nickname quite often.

When the Indian asked for his name, James already knew this was his fate. "People call me Kid." He managed a small smile.

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.

An hour later James tried to relax against the bunkhouse wall. He heard shooting, and knew his half-brother was showing off. It didn't take long for Jimmy to 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 let that on. The joyous feeling didn't last long. Before James could holster his gun, Jimmy pulled 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 followed him.

"Why are you afraid of me?" Jimmy demanded.

"You can get me into trouble," James answered. "I don't want no trouble, and I don't want to hurt nobody."

"I was just fooling." Jimmy slapped James's back.

"No you weren't!" James snapped, turning to face his brother.

"No, I wasn't," Jimmy agreed.

"Why do you act like that?" James suddenly asked, wishing to understand.

Jimmy shrugged arrogantly. "I don't know."

James glared angrily for another second, then broke the gaze and walked away.

He really didn't mean to get into trouble. Especially not with his brother. He wasn't sure how much he knew of their father. He was afraid to say or do anything that might uncover the truth. He wasn't ready for that, yet.

Looking closely at Jimmy, James could see the resemblance to their father. Now, for the first time, he was glad he took after his mother. Along the years, his 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 was surprised at how at ease he felt among his fellow riders. Even his relationship with his half-brother was becoming more profound. For the first time in many years, he felt belonged. He loved Teaspoon like a father, and Emma was like an older sister he always wished he had.

Then there was Louise. When he first found out the truth about her, he was horrified. His southern upbringing didn't allow a woman to behave like that, but he couldn't help falling in love with her. She was intelligent, kind, sweet, brave, and beautiful. He'd never met a woman like her. And he never felt that way towards any other woman. Not even Doritha.

Doritha. He hadn't even thought about her in the last couple of years. He felt guilty for 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 family secret he uncovered changed him more than he ever thought possible.

About a month after he started his new life at the Sweetwater Pony Express station, while in town with Buck and Jimmy, James saw someone he never thought he'd see again. Jed wore army uniform. James was so proud, seeing his brother so respectable. While introducing Jed to Buck and Jimmy, James couldn't help the weirdness he felt at the situation.

The reunion 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 surprised him the most was the ease in which Jed and Jimmy seemed to connect.

The tranquility didn't last long, though. James soon found out that his brother was not, in fact, a soldier, as he claimed, but an outlaw, attempting to steal gold. James never felt so helpless. He was torn between his desire to help his brother and keeping his values. After much inner debate, he tried to warn Jed and asked him to leave, but Jed wouldn't listen.

When Jed's attempt to steal the gold failed, James tried to stop him from running away, but Jed shot and wounded him. Jimmy 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 his hat back.

"I'm 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 him, shot by their half-brother. James cried over Jed's body as his friends came into the livery. He wanted to be comforted; he wanted to be hugged. He wanted badly to scream the truth, but nothing came out.

Eventually 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 on the watch, Louise caressed his hair and kissed his cheek softly.

James turned his eyes to meet hers. She smiled sadly and reached for his hand. James smiled his gratitude to her. She glanced around, checking that the coast was clear, before she lowered her lips to his. The kiss they shared was short, like the ones they shared before, but James felt that now he would survive this blow.


A strong bond grew between James and Jimmy as they both learned to respect each other. James was often tempted to tell his brother the truth, but each time something kept him quiet. Their friendship was not without trouble. James owed Jimmy his life and vice versa. They seldom agreed on anything, but held each other's backs no matter their own convictions.

He thought of telling Louise, as their relationship grew more and more intimate, but never had the guts to do it. He felt blessed to have found her. He felt she was the kind of woman he would like to grow old with. When he felt their relationship rushing faster than he knew how to handle, he asked Jimmy for guidance. Jimmy smiled knowingly and advised him to 'dance'.

He would never forget his 'dance' with Louise. She never looked more beautiful to him, and he never loved her as much. For the first time in his life, he felt complete. As long as he loved Louise and she loved him back, he knew it didn't matter who his father was, how much he suffered in childhood, or even who his brother was. All that mattered was him and her.

Shortly after James's seventeenth birthday, he 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 uneasy.

As they entered Kansas territory, James was surprised at the wariness on Jimmy's face.

"Something wrong, Jimmy?" James asked as he rode beside his brother.

"It's Kansas," Jimmy answered.

"I thought you grew up here," James commented.

"I 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.

As they entered the small town, they were welcomed by a protesting crowd.

"Only one thing makes a courthouse draw a crowd like this – a runaway slave trial," Jimmy remarked.

"Well, at least they're getting a trial," James observed.

"My father belonged to The Vigilance Committee. Got himself killed for the trouble. You see all the good that it did," Jimmy said bitterly.

"He must have believed in what he was doing.” The words were out of his mouth before James realized it. What was he doing – defending his father? What did his father ever do to deserve it from him?

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 needed more help. They agreed that James would stay in town, while Jimmy rode to Ft. Leavenworth, to try and recruit his brother-in-law and the committee.

Jimmy rode into Ft. Leavenworth. He couldn't help the anxiety he felt at the prospect of the reunion with his sister and her husband. After six years, he had no idea how they'd react to seeing him again. For six years they hadn't heard from him. He never even showed up to his own father's funeral. He never explained, never apologized. He wasn't sure he understood the reasons himself, but something held him away.

To his surprise, Nathan and the committee weren't too happy to help him out. He confronted them, telling them they didn't measure up to his father. He stalked off, hurrying to return to Kid's aide in rescuing Noah.

On his way back, he was caught up with Nathan and a bunch of others he recognized from the committee. Nathan smiled at him, telling him it was Celinda, who made them change their mind about 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 asked that they pass through Ft. Leavenworth once again. Once there, Jimmy went straight to the cemetery. James stood at a distance, giving his brother the time he needed in front of their father's grave.

"I never did say a proper goodbye. Never understood what was so important that you had to die for. I guess I do now. I just wanted you to know I'm sorry I held 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 at least his brother seemed to find some peace at last. Though he still didn't fully 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 only had 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 preceded.

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 southern schoolteacher.

Now, from a perspective, he couldn't understand what he was thinking. He berated himself for giving up on his relationship with Louise without a fight. And now it seemed that his chances with her were close to none.

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 his sister when he stared at Lou. And Jimmy had practically admitted he wanted her to come with them. He chuckled sadly, as he realized he and his brother were probably 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 with him. He never stopped loving her. He told her that in the letter he left for her at the station before they all went on their latest 'adventure'. He could only wish she will agree to give their relationship another chance.

He shifted uncomfortably as he saw her coming to sit beside him.

"You're gonna be alright, Kid," Louise promised as she sat on the fallen tree.

"It's you I'm worried about, Lou."

"Kid…" Louise sighed.

"You 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 in 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 her, but Jimmy popped up behind them, interrupting. He could almost swear he saw disappointment in Louise's eyes at Jimmy's appearance.


Things were better between James and Louise. They reconciled and James was determined this time he was going to do things right. He wasn't going to rush her into anything.

She even told him her biggest secret. He swore to himself that he would tell her his soon. He was scared at what her reaction would be. Would she feel betrayed? 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.

Celinda, their sister, was about to give birth. They all teased Jimmy about becoming an uncle. Jimmy tried to act tough, but James knew how he really felt. These were his feelings as well. He was excited at the prospect, 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 excited. He joshed Jimmy with the rest of them, but secretly felt jealous for not receiving the same treatment.

After having some minor problems along the way, they parted in Leavenworth, not before promising to always stay friends, even if things got worse. James continued to Kansas City, while Jimmy headed to Celinda's place.

James returned to Leavenworth a couple of days later, only to find that Jimmy teamed with Isaiah Burke. James had heard of him. The man was an outlaw who killed a marshal in the back, but Jimmy already knew that, and he didn't seem to mind.

Though James wished Jimmy wouldn't go with the Vigilance Committee, he was thankful for the opportunity to spend some time with his sister. Celinda was a beautiful woman, scared that her husband might 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 be able 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 with him.

They freed Isaiah and brought him back to his awaiting troops.

James watched as Jimmy said goodbye to Rosemary. He saw that look before in his brother's eyes. He knew this look too well. Jimmy was falling for that woman, if not already in love. James also realized that this time around it might end just like the other times his brother fell for a 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. And 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. And it was his brother that walked with her, about to give her away.

A lot had happened since they asked Jimmy to walk Louise down the aisle, and up until a few seconds ago, James wasn't sure he'd do it.

James tried hard to concentrate on the beautiful woman about to become his wife, but the proof of his latest fight with Jimmy was still evident on their faces. As much as he wanted to block the images of their 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 mind. He also tried to block the anger that built inside at Jimmy for bringing that Rosemary woman with him.

He shook his head mentally, wishing nothing at the moment than to concentrate on his bride and their wedding.

"I hope you didn't think I was gonna miss this." James smiled.

"Thanks for coming, Jimmy." James smiled back; all was forgiven.

The ceremony had begun, "Dearly beloved." James was so nervous he almost didn't hear anything from then on.

"Now the moment we've all been waiting for." Teaspoon grinned.

"Louise, do you promise to take…" Teaspoon cleared his throat. "Time to fess up, Kid," he said in a singsong manner.

James sighed audibly. He felt his friends shift in their chairs behind him hoping to hear his name. He whispered his most kept secret in the older man’s ear. “James Hickok.”

Teaspoon looked flabbergasted. He was sure he heard right, and still… The look on Kid's face told him the young man was not ready to share it with the rest of his wedding guests. He cleared his throat again, giving James a questioning look. James shrugged and shook his head.

"Louise, 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. His mind was so lost in his plans on how to tell her, that he couldn't even find the ring at first, what caused some more laughing from his friends. Anyway, it 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 sleep, her pupils moving under her lids, obviously in the middle of a dream. The smile that played on her lips told him it was a good dream.

He kissed her bare shoulder and smiled as she stirred. He kissed her shoulder again, then continued to kiss her exposed neck and nibble on her ear. She grunted and opened her eyes.

"Why did you wake me up?" she asked, obviously annoyed.

James chuckled. He knew how she was when she was awakened from sleep, but he had to tell her, before he lost his confidence.

"I have to talk to you about something, Lou," he said seriously.

She turned in his arms and looked in his eyes. The seriousness in his voice startled her. "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 is James."

"James!?" Louise 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?"

"It's not my first name that was the problem," James confessed.

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?"

"Who I share it with." Kid looked away, unable to meet her gaze.

"Beside me? You shouldn't share it with anyone else, James," she joked, emphasizing the use of his name.

"It's Hickok," James 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.

"Hickok?" she asked again. "Your name is James Hickok."

James nodded. "James David Hickok, to be exact."

"Are you… are you related?"

James breathed heavily before answering. "Jimmy's my brother, Lou. He doesn't know."

"What 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."

"How do 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 apologize. "I'm sorry, Lou. I'm not laughing at you. It's not funny at all, actually." He pulled her into his embrace and rested her head beneath his chin. He kissed her hair softly. "Just hear me out, I'll tell you everything."

She listened quietly as James told her all about his family. His abusive father, his sick mother. He left nothing out as he poured his soul, his most hidden secrets to his wife. She asked no questions and waited for him to finish. When he did she looked at his eyes. She was surprised to see them dry, after she felt like she cried a river at his story.

He smiled 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 like 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 his eyes.

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.

"What is it?" he asked baffled, a tinge of hurt in his voice.

"I can't believe I'm gonna make love to a Hickok…" she teased.

James smiled wickedly and started to tickle her. "Who said anything about making love?" he teased back.

"Kid!" she scolded.

"Alright, alright, since you ask so nicely, I will make love to you, Mrs. Hickok."


"So, are you going to tell him?" Louise asked as they made their way from the hotel to the way station for breakfast.

"I don't know, Lou. I have no idea how to even begin."

"You can't delay it for too long, Kid," Lou said, still uncomfortable to call him by his given name.

"I know," he sighed.

Teaspoon met them outside the bunkhouse. He kissed Lou's cheek.

"Can we talk, Kid?" he asked.

James and Lou exchanged glances, then James nodded.

Teaspoon started walking towards the corral and James followed. Louise watched them from the porch for a minute before she entered the bunkhouse.

"We didn't get a chance to talk about what you told me yesterday," Teaspoon started.

James shrugged. "Nothing to talk about. That's my name, that's all."

"You know it's not that simple, Kid. Otherwise you wouldn't have hide it all this time."

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."

"Have you told Louise yet?" Teaspoon asked.

"Last night. I told her everything. She thinks I should let Jimmy know as soon as possible."

"I think she's probably right, Kid. The longer you wait with it the harder it will be for you to tell and the harder it will be for Jimmy to accept."

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 something out. "It's not that simple, Teaspoon. It's not just my name, but…"

"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."

"We're brothers," James blurted out immediately. It was strange, but he suddenly felt relieved. Even his confession to Lou the night before, didn't make him feel that way. "Our father lived a double life. He had a wife and kids in Kansas as well as in Virginia. When my mother passed away, I followed his trail and found out everything. Jimmy was long gone when I reached Kansas. Jimmy's 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 mistake, Teaspoon."

"Well, 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, and will probably take it out on you, but he will come around eventually. Anyway, I'll always be here for you, 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.


The last couple of days passed in a haze to James. He meant to talk to his brother as soon as breakfast was finished, but then all hell broke loose.

Now, after they buried Noah, he decided he couldn’t wait with the truth any longer. Louise squeezed his hand in encouragement and he smiled sadly at her.

He wasn't sure how he should approach Jimmy with what he had to say. A lot of bad words have been said between them over the 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 of Jimmy.

To his displeasure, Jimmy was not alone. To his greater discomfort, the person he was with was Rosemary. Oh, how much he hated that woman. He didn't remember hating a person that much since his father and Wicks. That woman have already caused so much sorrow for them, and so much malice between him and his best friend, his brother.

"Can we talk, Jimmy?" James asked as he reached them.

"Talk," Jimmy offered, indifferent.

"Alone," James insisted.

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.

"What do you want, Kid?" Jimmy asked, annoyed.

"To talk."

"Yeah, 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 downright hostile.

"Not here," James requested.

"You 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 mind."

"Please, Jimmy," James pleaded. He almost 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.

"Get on with it, Kid." Jimmy was becoming nervous, just by watching Kid's restlessness.

"Ok," James started, "but you have to let me finish and you have to know that although you might think that, everything I'm gonna tell you is the truth."

Jimmy nodded.

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, right?"

James shook his head. "That's not all, Jimmy. My father's name was William Alonzo Hickok."

"That's 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 my mother died, I followed my father's tracks. It led me to that cemetery in Leavenworth. 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 yours in Kansas."

"I'm sorry, Jimmy. I know it's a lot to take in. It took the whole two years since I found out and until I met you for it to dawn on me. When we first came to Sweetwater and you said your name, I thought I was going to be sick. I knew about you. When I was in Leavenworth I heard about you, but I never thought I'd meet you like that. You are the reason I couldn't 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 towards their father.

"Are 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."

"Who else knows about this?" Jimmy asked.

"I told 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 anything to anyone else before I spoke with you."

Jimmy nodded. "So, what does this mean?" he asked.

James shrugged. "Blood or no blood, Jimmy, you're my best friend. We all said we're like family long ago. In our case it's more than just a saying. The question now is do we tell the others, and do we tell your sisters?"

"Don't you mean your sisters?" Jimmy managed a small smile.

James chuckled. "I guess you're right. It will take some getting used to."

"Do you want to tell Cody, Buck, and Rachel?" Jimmy asked.

"I don't see why not, Jimmy. They are our friends, and they are like brothers to us. It will be easier for us, I guess, to have their support."

"How 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."


Later that day they told the rest of their family. They all gathered at the bunkhouse – Teaspoon and Rachel, Cody and Buck, and Rosemary. Lou sat by her husband, not letting go of his hand. On his other side sat his brother.

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 ears.

The two brothers decided to leave for Kansas first thing in the morning to tell their sisters. There was no point in waiting.

When morning came, they were both mounting their horses. Louise and Rosemary stood on the house porch and waved goodbye as they rode off.

The whole way to Kansas they shared stories of their childhoods. Each was amazed to learn of their father's two personalities.

They reached Leavenworth and 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 as she opened the door and found them standing at her doorstep, the baby in her arms.

Jimmy kissed his sister's cheek and entered. James tipped his hat at her as he stepped after Jimmy.

"What are you doing here?" Celinda asked again as she took in their unexpected appearance.

"Is Nathan here?" Jimmy asked, looking around.

"No," Celinda answered. "What is it, Jimmy? You're starting to scare me."

The baby begun to fuss and Celinda excused herself. "He needs to be fed. Will you wait here?"

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 us."

Celinda looked bewildered from Jimmy to James and back to Jimmy. "What is it, Jimmy? Now I'm really worried."

"Celinda," James started, "How much do you know of your father's activities?"

Celinda looked astounded. "What are you talking about, Kid? You know what he did. Jimmy, what is he talking about?"

"Celinda, my name is James. James David Hickok."

A surprised gasp escaped Celinda's mouth. She stared, wide eyed, at James, then at Jimmy, who just nodded, in confirmation to her unasked question.

"James is our brother, Celinda. I couldn't believe that myself at first, but it's the truth. Our father had another family in Virginia. He had a wife and two children. Jed was killed a year ago. James is our little brother."

Celinda shook her head, tears forming in her eyes. "You mean to tell me that our 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 truth."

"Look," James started, his uneasiness growing 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 could be, regardless of our blood relation. I would like to consider you my family as well, but it's up to you. I wouldn't impose. I know how hard this must be for you."

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."

Celinda 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.

"As you know, I grew up in Virginia," he started. 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 and his family. James finished with the recent 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.

They stayed with Celinda and Nathan that night, answering any question that came their way. James was happy to finally be able to not pretend and just be a part of the family. He felt welcomed and belonged.


"It's good to be back home," James commented as they rode into Rock Creek.

"Sure 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 and friends. After all that happened, with Noah dying and with his newfound family, he could finally put Virginia in the past.

Before he 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.

She reached 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 before."

"We were never married before." She smiled shyly. "I missed you."

"I missed you too." James hugged her waist.

"How did it go?" Lou asked, taking his hand in hers and walking with him to the stable.

"As well as can be expected," James assured. "Celinda was shocked at first, of course, but when she got over her initial shock, it was fine. It's nice to have a sister, and a nephew."

"When will I have another one?" Jimmy asked, hearing the last words as James and Lou entered the stable.

"Well…" 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."

"You 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.

"If 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.

"What if it's a boy?" Louise asked.

"As 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."

The End

Author note:

I had a lot of fun writing this 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 the greatest.
Thanks Lisa, also for the amazing graphics, they were all beautiful.
I'm blesses to have you as friends.

Email Hanny