DEATH

DREAMS

Author: lovinandrew

Summary: Hoss fears for Adam when he starts to have nightmares about him. His fears prove to be valid when Adam is kidnapped by indians in retaliation for there Chief being kidnapped.

Disclaimer: I do not own Bonanza, Ben, Adam, Hoss or Little Joe :-(

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He felt his throat constrict and choke as he tossed and turned trying to release the pressure on his throat. As he struggled he suddenly saw a pair of hands holding a rope around the throat of a person he couldn't see. He squinted his eye's as if that would help him see but he couldn't , so started clawing at his throat. All of a sudden the person being strangled went limp and fell to the floor just as his throat cleared. As he started to relax the persons face became clearer and with a shock the face that was staring silently at him was none other than his oldest brother Adam. Hoss tried to scream out his name but when he opened his mouth nothing came out. Hoss couldn't believe that Adam was laying there strangled to death. All of a sudden he felt someone grab him so started to struggle and yell out but as he struggled harder against whoever was holding him he heard his fathers voice shout out which startled him. Which made him open his eye's and look straight in to his fathers concerned eye's.

"Hoss wake up son, Hoss wake up your having a nightmare," Ben said trying to hold his son down.

"Pa he's dead he's dead," Hoss cried out as he struggled to get out of his fathers grip.

"Hoss stop struggling," His father asked his distraught son as Adam and Joe rushed into the room.

"Pa what's wrong with Hoss," Adam asked coming to stand next to his father.

"He's had a nightmare and I can't wake him up," Ben said worriedly.

"Let me try Hoss wake up it's Adam," He said looking straight into his eye's.

"Adam it's you your alive Adam your alive," Hoss said grabbing Adam looking relieved at seeing him standing in front of him.

"Well of course I'm alive why wouldn't I?" Adam asked confused.

Looking around the room at his family Hoss looking confused himself. "I don't know."

"What do you mean you don't know. You were just yelling out something about Adam being alive and you sounded surprised about it." Joe said coming over to the bed.

"I can't remember it's all fuzzy. I'm sorry Pa if I disturbed everyone." Hoss said looking confused.

"It's alright son we all have nightmares you go back to sleep." Ben told his son as he ushered Adam and Joe out the room.

As Hoss said goodnight he looked at Adam and got an uneasy feeling and when he dozed off to sleep he couldn't get the uneasy feeling about Adam out of his mind. The next morning Hoss got up and went down for breakfast and found only Adam sitting at the table. Again for some reason he still had that uneasy feeling whenever he looked at Adam. He looked away and started to eat his breakfast but found he wasn't very hungry.

"What's wrong Hoss someone sow up your stomach during the night." Adam said grinning at his brother.

"No I'm fine why?" He asked not looking up.

"Well by now you would have been up to your third plate by now."

"I'm eating stop belly aching about it." Hoss said still not looking at his brother.

Adam raised his eyebrow at his brothers attitude. "What's got your goat I was only making an observation."

"Nothing's wrong with me I just get sick and tired of you and Joe teasing me about it that's all." He told him

"Ok Hoss I'm sorry I didn't mean anything by it." Adam said not realising how much his and Joe's teasing sometimes affected their brother.

"Aw that's alright Adam I'm just feeling tired didn't sleep to well last night", Hoss said rubbing his eye's.

"Yeah that dream you had last night do you remember anything about it?" He asked.

He thought about it for a second but nothing was coming through except that uneasy feeling whenever he looked at his brother. "No nothing,.

"Absolutely nothing?" Adam asked surprised.

"I said no now stop pestering me will ya.' Hoss said becoming agitated.

Seeing Hoss's agitation over the conversation Adam decided to change the subject. "Ok well how about coming into town with me to pick up the supplies and after that we'll stop in for a beer."

"Ah no I don't think so Adam, I've got to much work to do today." Hoss said the uneasy feeling coming back again as soon as he mentioned spending time with him.

"Look with all these nightmares you've been having lately it will do you good to relax in town, I'll even shout you a beer and a meal." Adam said trying to coax Hoss out of whatever mood he was in.

"I said no Adam just leave me alone and we'll both be fine", Hoss said angrily and got up from the table and walked out the front door just as Ben and Joe walked in.

"What's wrong with Hoss?" Ben asked his son.

"I'm not sure it's probably not enough sleep he'll be alright." Adam said staring off after Hoss in deep thought.

While the rest of them ate breakfast Adam mulled over what had happened that morning and thought it very weird. For one thing it was very unusual for Hoss to be snappy at any time even with as little sleep as he had been having lately. He would be the only person he knew that would take a mountain to move his temper, but the last few day's he had been snapping at everyone including Pa. At the every least he was a two plate eater and for Hoss to not even finish his first one that was cause for concern. And lastly it seemed that every chance he got Hoss seemed to avoid him. Whenever they had work to do around the Ponderosa he'd go off and work with Little Joe, or if he had to go into town Hoss would flat out refuse to go with Adam. Even around the house of a night where ever Adam was you can bet that Hoss was at the other end of the house and would hardly speak to him. I f he wasn't sure something was wrong he'd get a complex. And as Adam finished his breakfast he thought to himself that he'd have to think this one through.

Hoss walked into the barn and went over to the young colt he'd been helping. The colt had some kind of fever that Hoss couldn't break. He bent down to feel him and found him still very hot, got agitated and threw the bottle in his hand at the door. What was wrong with him lately he couldn't seem to help any animal at all lately. First their was the black stallion that Adam had found out on the range. Hoss knew he wasn't completely broke yet and Adam had warned him and said not to ride him until he had broken him but Hoss had argued and said he could handle him. Adam still told him to wait and being Adam's horse he would tell him when he was ready. But Hoss thought he was being over cautious, and he never minded when he took one of his horses out for a ride without consulting him before. So he grabbed the horse and took him along the Mason River Line, and the ride was easy at first Hoss wondered what Adam was fussing about when all of a sudden a rattler came out of the brush right in front of his horse. The horse seeing it went wild and took off wildly with Hoss hanging on for dear life. Hoss had tried to stop the animal but the horse had a natural wild streak in it to begin with. Hoss was beginning to panic when the horse suddenly stumbled and threw Hoss to the ground as he fell. Hoss not hurt to much had run over to the horse and found it had broken ti's leg so painfully took out his gun and put him out of his misery. Of course when he got home he told Adam what had happened and he wasn't surprised when Adam blew up at him. Adam had angrily said without thinking that Hoss had killed the horse. Of course Adam had apologised later for what he had said when he had calmed down. But Hoss knew Adam was right which devastated him. Then a week later he had found a calf with his leg caught in some wire so he had brought him home and tried to fix his leg but two days later he had died. His family tried to tell him the leg was too infected and there was nothing he could of done for him but Hoss still believed he had killed him just like Adam's horse. Now there was this colt he couldn't heal and he was beginning to believe that either Joe or Adam should look after it because if he continued to he would only end up killing it. Hoss climbed up to the loft to get some rope to secure the stall the colt was in. As he got there and picked up the rope he looked down to see Adam walk into the barn towards his horse. As he went to climb down Hoss off balanced and dropped the rope and when he looked down he saw Adam standing there looking up at him with the rope around his neck where it had fallen.

"What are you trying to do strangle me." Adam said jokingly not realising how it would affect his brother.

Hoss just stood there staring at the rope around Adam's neck. Adam waited for a smart comment like they always gave one another but when it didn't come he looked up at his brother and saw the look on his face which troubled him.

"Hoss did you hear me? What's wrong with you a bit of rope didn't hurt me if that's what's troubling you."

"Wrong no nothing's wrong look I've got to go now I'll see you later." Hoss said as he climbed down and walked out of the barn.

"Hey Hoss." Adam yelled at his after his brother to stunned to by his reaction to do anything else.

But Hoss just kept walking straight into the house. Adam just shook his head not understanding and jumped on his horse and took off into town. Hoss watched Adam ride off from his bedroom then went and sat down on his bed. As soon as he saw the rope around Adams neck the dream had come back and it terrified him, for even though it was just a dream the feeling it gave him was so real the feeling of doom. He also remembered another couple of dream's he had and all of them had Adam dying one way or another. The rope falling on his neck must of unlocked all the dreams he had so far. What upset him the most was that even though they were just dreams the feelings they gave him were too real. And why were they all about Adam dying? That must of been the reason he had those uneasy feelings about him, but as hard as he tried he couldn't figure out why he was having them or why they were making him feel the way he did. Hoss decided to follow Adam into town after all and stop these dreams from affecting him. When he got into town he got off his horse and looked around for his brother when he spotted him as a man walked up to him and started talking to him. As Hoss watched he saw the man pull out a gun and lifted it up towards Adam. At the same time this terrifying fear welled up inside Hoss that sent him flying over to the man grabbing the gun, then punching him in the mouth which sent him sprawling to the ground.

"What in the hell do you think your doing." Adam shouted at his brother as he looked on horrified.

"He pulled a gun on you Adam."

"He didn't pull a gun on me he was showing me the new gun he had bought this morning. What's got into you Hoss." He said staring at his brother as if he had gone mad.

"His new gun? Dad burnet Adam he looked like he was going to shoot you." He told his brother.

Adam was starting to get frustrated with his brothers recent actions and spoke angrily. "Why in tarnashin would Pete try to shoot me we've been friends for years. Hoss I don't understand why you thought it but you can help me pick him up and take him over to that chair."

Hoss helped Adams friend over to the chair and stood back wondering what was wrong with himself. When he saw that gun pointed at Adam all those dreams came rushing back to him and he acted instinctively when he thought his brother was in danger of being shot. Making sure his friend was alright Adam walked over to Hoss and dragged him off to the side.

"Hoss there's something wrong and I want to know what it is." Adam asked looking concerned aT his brother.

"Nothing's wrong Adam I just thought he was going to shoot you."

"Hoss you know you over reacted now there's got to be a reason for it. You have been acting strange for the past couple of weeks, c'mon Hoss talk to me." Adam asked his brother getting more concerned by the minute.

" I haven't been sleeping lately because of the dreams I have been having its just got me agitated that's all Adam honest."

"Alright we wont talk about it now but we will talk about it later at home, I mean it Hoss later. Now go home and I'll bring home what little supplies we've got." He said exasperated.

Hoss thought he'd better go cause the mood Adam was in he'd likely shoot him without thinking. On the ride home Hoss thought he'd better get these dreams under control or they were going to start controlling his life and eventually ruin it. When Hoss arrived home Ben was just getting on his horse and waited for him to ride up.

"I thought you were in town with Adam getting the supplies." Ben asked surprised.

"I was Pa but he didn't need my help."

"Oh okay well how about coming with me to bring supplies to the men?"

"Sure Pa let's get going now so we can get back in time for supper." Hoss said so as not to be here when Adam got back.

As they rode off Hoss thought how much of a coward he was but he couldn't face Adam at the moment. Half an hour later Adam rode up and walked into the house expecting to see Hoss but found only Joe.

"Hi Joe seen Hoss?"

"No I thought he was in town with you."

"He was but I sent him back so he wouldn't get into any more trouble."

Joe looked surprised at his comment. "What do you mean anymore trouble?"

"Oh he attacked Pete thought he was going to kill me." Adam told his brother.

"Going to kill you why would he think that?" He asked getting more confused by the minute.

"Pete had a new gun he was showing me and Hoss thought he was going to shoot me."

"He has been acting weird lately what do you think is wrong with him?"

"I don't know but I think it's about time we found out. That's why I told Hoss to wait here for me until I got back but I see he didn't want to face me." Adam said looking concerned.

"That's not like Hoss something must be really bothering him if he's acting like this." Joe said.

"Well it's no use worrying about it until he gets home." Adam said wandering into the kitchen.

Ben and Hoss didn't get back until after dark and when Hoss walked in the house he went straight upstairs. Adam asked if Hoss was coming down for supper but Ben said he wasn't feeling well and was going to bed early. Both Adam and Joe looked at one another then sat down and ate there supper in silence. After supper both boys went up to Hoss's room and knocked on the door, but there was no answer so walked in and found their brother asleep. Thinking that at last he was getting some sleep both boys crept out of the room closed the door and went back downstairs. They told their father that Hoss was asleep and Ben sighed and hoped that he would get a full nights sleep. He had noticed lately that Hoss hadn't been himself and that he had been getting steadily worse in the last two weeks. Ben had a feeling that it had something to do with those dreams he had been having but he couldn't help him until he came to him. And for some reason he had a feeling that somehow Adam was involved. But Ben knew one thing for sure he would have to go to Hoss if he didn't go to him.

Around two o-clock Adam couldn't get to sleep so sat up and read for awhile when he heard a noise in Hoss's room. He put down his book and listened but couldn't hear anything so continued reading. After about a minute he felt thirsty so got out of bed and went to go downstairs to get a drink. As he passed Hoss's room he could hear tossing and turning so stood there to see if he could hear anything more. All of a sudden Adam heard Hoss groan so opened his door and saw Hoss tossing and turning, so walked over to the bed and tried to listen to what Hoss was saying. He was mumbling and started to toss and turn more stressfully but Adam couldn't quite understand him so went to put his hand on him to wake him up, when all of a sudden Hoss yelled out Adam's name which startled Adam. So he didn't see the arm shoot out and clip him on the chin which sent him sprawling to the floor out cold.

The impact on Hoss's fist woke him up and when he sat up and opened his eye's to see what had woken him up he looked down and saw Adam's body sprawled out cold on the floor. For a minute Hoss just sat there staring at his brothers body. Then panic set in and he jumped out of bed yelling Adam's name out as he turned his body over. All his dreams came back in one great push, and all Hoss couldn't think of was that his dream had come true and that his brother was dead. Ben and Joe came rushing in his room to find Hoss bending over Adam's body yelling he was dead.

"Hoss what's wrong? Why is Adam laying on your floor", Ben asked rushing over to the both of them.

"He's dead Pa my dreams came true he's dead." Hoss said yelling now.

"What dream are you talking about? he's not dead just knocked out." He told his son as he tried to wake Adam up.

"Hoss come and sit on the bed and we'll try to figure out what exactly happened here." Joe said trying to get Hoss to calm down.

Hoss did what Joe said not taking his eyes off his older brother waiting for him to wake up. "Adam wake up come on son wake up." Ben said shaking him and putting a damp cloth on his forehead that Joe had handed him.

"Ooh what happened my jaw feels like it was kicked by a horse." Adam said sitting up groggily.

"No Adam you didn't get kicked by a horse you got punched by a Hoss." Ben said grinning.

"Very funny Pa." He said shaking his head to clear it.

Helping his son up Ben steered him over to the chair. "Well from what I can gather Hoss hit you while he was asleep."

"I was trying to wake him up he was having another nightmare. Is he alright?"

"Yeah I think so Hoss can you tell me what happened." Ben asked turning to him.

"It was just a dream Adam I'm so sorry I don't know what came over me." He told his brother.

"It's alright Hoss but since all of us are here and awake I suggest that we find out just what Your problem is." Adam said feeling his jaw.

"I suppose it has gotten a bit out of hand." He said looking sheepishly.

"A bit did you say? Just no sleep and delusions of brothers being murdered by there best friends and brothers knocking out other brothers in their sleep. But as you say just a bit out of hand." Joe said sarcastically.

"Dad Burnet Little Joe it's not you who's having those nightmares." Hoss said giving his brother an angry look.

"No and he's not the one who's been punched in the mouth and been dead so many times." Adam said still rubbing his jaw.

"Ok you three settle down and lets find out what's it all about. Now Hoss what have you been dreaming and what has this got to do with Adam?" Ben asked his son.

"Well it's just like I said every time I have one of these dreams Adam is always about to die. And it seems so real at the time I can't stop thinking about it." He told his father.

"But Hoss you know these are only dreams and that there not real? Besides I think your oldest brother can look after himself."

"Yes Hoss just think about it dreams are dreams and if you remember before this started you were working extra hard so you probably over tired yourself and that's what's been affecting your sleep. Hoss believe me when I say that I can look after myself. So now that I've assured you you can sleep easier and stop having nightmares." Adam said putting his arm around his brother.

"Yeah I suppose I have been acting a bit crazy but everything will be normal again I promise."

"A bit crazy eh, well no-one ever said you were sane." Joe said grinning.

Everybody laughed then retired and as Hoss lay down he still had a twinge of unease but shrugged it off and went to sleep. A couple of hours later Hoss woke up in a bath of seat for again he had seen Adam die but this time at the hands of his father. He could still see his father and Adam fighting at the top of the stairs when his father went to grab him but pushed instead and Adam toppled down the stairs and landed with a deadly thud. He remembered his father dashing down the stairs and picking Adam up in his arms and crying over his limp body. Hoss felt this terrible weight descend on his chest and it didn't go until he woke up crying. And in the other room Adam lay there listening and wondering what he could do to help. The next morning Adam watched Hoss come downstairs and wondered what mood he was in.

"Morning Hoss how do you feel this morning." Adam asked Hoss watching him closely.

"Fine just fine Adam, except I am sure mighty hungry this morning." He said sitting down and helping himself to half a dozen pancakes.

"No dreams last night after we left." Adam asked testing him out.

"No no dreams I dang well slept like a baby." Hoss said lying to his brother.

"Yeah sure well I've got to go and see to some branding I'll see you later." Adam said getting up.

Hoss said goodbye and headed out to the barn himself to see how the little colt was doing. Walking into the barn whistling he went over to the stall but when he bent over to check him he knew something was wrong before he touched him. Trying to find a pulse he began to shake the colt trying to wake it up. At that moment Joe came into the barn and when he saw what Hoss was dong he ran over to him and dragged him away. Hoss struggled with him until Joe yelled at him to stop, then Hoss went still and turned around and just stared at the colt.

"Hoss it wasn't your fault. The colt was to weak and it didn't have it's mother to nurse him there was nothing you could of done."

"Your wrong Joe everything I seem to touch die's. I should of put you or Adam in charge of him it's no use." He said and ran out of the barn.

Joe ran after him but when he got outside he couldn't see his brother anywhere so went to find Adam to tell him what happened and found him breaking horses. He told Adam what had happened and they were about to go looking for him when they saw him ride up. After talking to him for awhile Hoss apologised to Joe then said he was going back to finish his chores. Adam turned to Joe and told him to keep an eye on him so he took off after Hoss and Adam decided to stay and finish the rest of the horses. He worked steadily through the afternoon and when the hands went off for a break Adam said he would put the last of the horses back in the corral. Adam looked over at the last horse and noticed he still had the saddle on, and assuming one of the hands had broken him walked over to it and was just about to grab the reins when he heard Hoss call out his name and turned around to look at him. Not looking at what he was doing his hand came up by accident and clipped the horses mouth which sent the horse rearing out of control. As the horse reared up his hoof connected with Adam's head which went him crashing to the ground with the horse rearing dangerously close to him. Hoss stared at the scene in horror and for the life of him could not move himself to help. Joe came running up and took in what was going on and grabbed at Hoss and yelled at him to help Adam. But Hoss just stood there frozen so Joe jumped over the railing and ran up to Adam carefully trying to shield him from the horses hoof's. By this time the hands had heard the commotion and came running up to help Joe, and managed to get the horse calmed down enough for Joe to drag Adam out of there. When Joe checked out Adam's head he found a big gash at the back near the ear so quickly got some men to help take him back to the house. As he passed Hoss he looked at his brother for the first time with disgust then proceeded to the house. Ben looked up as they carried Adam in and ran over to see what had happened. Joe explained what had happened, and found it very hard to explain Hoss's part, so Ben told Joe to ride into town and get the doctor. With some help from the hands they got Adam up to his room and when Ben had thanked the boys Ben sat down beside his son to check out his wound. Seeing how deep it was Ben got a damp cloth and tried to staunch the flow of blood until the doc had arrived.

"Well how is he Paul is he going to be alright?" Ben asked worriedly as the doc came down the stairs.

"Ben he's going to be fine the gash in his head looked worse than it did. Adam will have one hell of a headache though so I'd like him to stay around the ranch for a few days." Paul said smiling at him.

"Well thank goodness for that I'll see that he does though I have a hard enough time doing it now." He

said grinning.

"That's your problem I've got to go and just thank your lucky stars that he inherited that thick skull."

Ben laughed as he walked Paul to the door. "Oh I don't know between this whole family you don't need anybody to keep you in business."

"Yeah well just give me one days rest will you, oh and Ben just keep an eye on Adam and if he gets any bad headaches or dizzy spells you call me straight away. It might be a small wound but you don't want to take any chances."

"I will Paul and thanks for everything." Ben told him sincerely.

As he saw the doctor out Ben came back inside and found Joe just staring into the fire. He walked up to him and put his arm around him and just stood there in silence waiting for Joe to speak first.

"He just stood there Pa he just stood there and watched Adam get trampled by the horse. I don't understand Adam could of been killed and he did nothing just stood there staring." Joe said angrily not understanding Hoss's reaction.

"Joe people react differently in certain situations and the nightmares Hoss has been having I think it made him to scared to move." Ben said trying to help both Joe and himself understand Hoss's reaction.

"Oh c'mon Pa he saw the trouble Adam was in and stood there and did nothing. And I don't care about no stinking dream he should of done something." Joe said angrily shrugging his fathers arm off him.

"Joe now listen to me Hoss needs help more than Adam at the moment. Do you think in normal circumstances Hoss would of stood there and watched his brother being trampled by a horse no he wouldn't of and that's the problem He dreams about Adam dying and when he comes upon a situation where he actually might he actually gets scared. Now that is the problem we have to sort out because if we don't Hoss is never going to get better do you understand?" Ben said trying to get through to him.

Joe sat down sighing in frustration "Don't you think I know that Pa when I saw Hoss just standing there I got a big chill up my spine Not just for Adam but for Hoss because I know that when Hoss realises what he did he's not going to forgive himself easily."

At that point Hoss came through the front door and instead of opening his big mouth again Joe said he'd go and sit with Adam for awhile. As he passed his brother Joe patted his shoulder trying to let him know everything was going to be alright. Hoss couldn't look at him or his father and sat down with his head bent.

"You alright son?"

"I should be asking if Adam is alright."

"Oh he's going to be just fine a few days rest and he'll be back to normal." Ben said smiling.

"Well that's good cause I think I'll go away for a few days and get out of everybody's hair." He said staring into the fire.

Ben didn't like the sound of that. "Look Hoss if it's because of this afternoon I think your being silly. Adam doesn't blame you he knows what happened and understands."

"Oh and Adam is awake to tell you all this." Hoss asked looking at his father.

"Well no but I do know my son's and I know Adam wouldn't blame you for any of this."

"What you don't seem to know is if I hadn't called out to Adam in the first place he wouldn't of been distracted so the horse wouldn't of been able to hurt him." Hoss said a heavy ness falling all around him.

"Look son you've got to stop blaming these dreams and start thinking sensibly your dreams had nothing to do with this now will you listen to me." Ben said becoming exasperated.

"No Pa it' the only explanation and the only way to stop it is for me to leave until the dreams stop." He said stubbornly.

"Hoss this is utterly ridiculous and I'm not going to listen to another word. Where going to figure this out together." Ben said feeling as if he were losing him.

"Pa it's final now I'm going to bed and I'll be leaving in the morning. Don't worry I'll contact you and let you know where I am, goodnight Pa." Hoss said and went upstairs.

Ben watched his son go upstairs and stood there to stunned to say anymore. This was getting all out of hand and he had to figure out some way to convince Hoss to stay. What he couldn't understand was why Hoss was acting so erratically, usually he was a sensible person and wouldn't react at all like this. There must be something more than the dreams that's bothering him to make him react like this. Going upstairs to check on Adam Ben thought he'd better figure it out before it gets so out of control that he wont' be able to do anything.

Adam opened his eye's and found himself staring at his bedroom ceiling. At first he wondered what he was doing in his bed and went to sit up but found that his head felt like a chain was wrapped around it and was being tightened inch by inch. He groaned and put his hands to his head as he heard a familiar voice

"Whoa big brother just lie back and take it easy you've got a nasty crack on the head." Joe said gently pushing Adam back down on his pillow.

"Joe what's happened, why an I here?" Adam asked feeling groggy.

Joe looked at his brother grinning. "Well lets just say you had an argument with a horse and it turned into a fist fight, but what you seem to have forgotten is that horses have hooves not fists."

"Oh very funny c'mon Joe what happened?" Adam said not in the mood for jokes.

"Okay okay don't get on your high horse, oops sorry about that." Joe said smirking at his pun then sobered when he saw the look on his brothers face. "For some reason you got distracted when you went to grab the reins of a horse but you startled him and got kicked in the head."

"That's right Hoss called out to me so I turned to see what he wanted and that's when I felt the hoof in the back of my head." Adam explained.

"Hoss called out to you what for?"

"Well I don't know I was sort of out to it if you remember." Adam said wryly.

"That's what's bothering me. Hoss just stood there and didn't do a thing when you were knocked down."

Adam sighed and closed his eyes to the pain forming in his head. "I don't know maybe he didn't see me go down."

"No Adam he saw everything. And you want to know something he looked like he was in a trance or that he was remembering something he didn't want to, I swear Adam he's acting really weird. All I know is that if I hadn't seen you go down it could of been a lot worse." He told his brother.

"I have a feeling it's got a lot more to do with something else other than his dreams." Adam said wincing.

Joe noticed how pale Adam was and got up to go. "Maybe but I think you've had enough talk for one night the doc want's you to rest so go for now take care brother."

"See ya Joe." Adam said drifting off before his brother had left the room.

Adam's door creaked open and Hoss stepped in to see how his older brother was doing. He walked over to the bed and watched Adam sleep hoping he would get better soon. As he was about to leave Hoss heard a voice behind him.

"You don't have to go if you don't want to, I'm awake."

"Hi Adam how are you feeling?"

"Oh I'm fine Hoss don't worry but I want to know if your alright?" Adam asked.

"Oh after nearly killing you I feel just great." Hes said bitterly.

"Hoss it wasn't your fault. If I hadn't been so clumsy I wouldn't be laying here with a big gash in my head." Adam said looking directly into his brother.

"No Adam it was my fault and nothing you say is going to change that. But I didn't come to argue I came to say goodbye." Hoss said not looking at him.

Adam went to sit up suddenly but laid back down groaning. "What do you mean goodbye where are you going?"

"I'm going away so I won't end up killing you." Hoss said angrily seeing effect it had on his brother by trying to sit up because of his head injury.

"Oh don't be stupid your dreams had nothing to do with any of the incidents that have happened lately. Just think about it Hoss and you'll know I'm telling the truth." Adam said worrying about his brothers state of mind.

"Dad Burnet Adam maybe I am crazy but it doesn't change the fact that I have to sort this out my way and my way is to leave." He said stubbornly.

"Ok Hoss but instead of going far away and worrying Pa and the rest of us why don't you go on the cattle drive that's starting tomorrow. That way Pa knows where you are and won't worry." Adam put to his brother becoming weary.

"I don't know Adam I would still be close enough to hurt you." Hoss said weakening.

Adam was getting weary about this stupid idea that a his dreams were coming true but he had to have enough time with Hoss to convince him. "I tell you what mazuri mule if you don't agree then I'll just keep on arguing until I get sick and you wouldn't want to do that to me."

Hoss looked at his brother wondering if he would really do that and decided he would. When Adam told you he was going to do something nine times out of ten he did it. So sighing resignedly he looked warningly at his brother. "Alright Adam you win I'll go on the cattle drive, but I warn you don't come out to the drive or I'll leave straight away."

"I promise."

"Ok well I'll let you get some sleep night Adam." Hoss told his brother wondering if he had done the right thing in staying.

"You to hopefully." Adam said sighing.

It wasn't long after Hoss went to sleep that he had another nightmare. Hoss tried to ignore it but he still woke up in the morning in a cold sweat so got dressed and went downstairs to breakfast. As he was in the kitchen he could hear a commotion on the stairs in the lounge room so went to see what was going on. When he got out there he looked up to see his Pa and Adam on the top landing having a argument. All of a sudden he remembered the dream he had of Adam falling down the stairs and hurried over to see what the argument was about. As he got to the bottom of the stairs he heard his father tell Adam to go back to bed and not to take his head injury lightly, in which Adam returned that he was bored and he had to tell Hoss something before he left. His father then said he would send Hoss up to him but he heard the irritation in Adam's voice as he told his father that he was over reacting and went to walk past him. Ben went to grab him to slow him down but when he went to touch him he accidentally pushed instead, and being off balance Adam toppled down the stairs. It looked like it happened in slow motion Adam turning to his father as his father's hand connected with him and loosing his balance and toppled down the stairs. Hoss had never moved so fast in all his life, got to the bottom of the stairs just as Adam reached it and catching him just as he got there. Ben looked down the stairs in horror at what he had done then ran down the stairs to see if his son was alright.

"Adam my God are you alright." Ben shouted terrified of what he had done.

"Yeah sure." He said looking up at his father dazed.

"That dream that's what happened I told you this would happen Pa." Hoss said becoming agitated.

"Your telling me you actually had a dream where I fell down the stairs?" Adam asked incredulously.

"Dad Burnet Adam when will you and the rest of this family realise that these dreams are more than just dreams there a sight into the future." Hoss said stubbornly helping Adam to a chair.

"Hoss I can't believe that having a dream would make it come true." Ben said fussing over Adam guiltily.

"There's no argument Pa I'm leaving and that's final." He said moving towards the door.

Adam looked from one to the other and realised he had to do something or Hoss would walk away and that would just about kill his Pa. "Wait a minute! Now I'm not saying that his dreams are doing all this but if Hoss believes in them, then I think we should work with him on this."

"Adam did you hit your head again because that would be the only reason that I could think of why you would say a thing like that." Ben said frowning.

"No Pa Adam's right, I've got to go so don't argue." He said not sure what Adam was up to.

"But this is insane, the both of you are really starting to get on my nerves Okay Hoss you do what you think you have to do so we can get this all over and done with," Ben said feeling more exasperated than he had ever been with his middle boy.

"And I promise that I won't go anywhere near the cattle drive." Adam said feeling stiff as he got up.

"I promise I'll work this all out Pa and don't worry I'll be fine." Hoss said as he grabbed his stuff and walked out the door.

Ben turned around and looked at his other son sternly "And as for you I want you back in bed now and don't argue because I'll carry you there myself if I have to."

"Ok Pa I won't argue this time I don't really feel up to it."

When Ben finally got Adam back up to bed he stood there looking down at his son never feeling so glad and so bad at the same time before. He still couldn't believe that he was the cause of Adam falling down the stairs, how could he of done something like that to his own son. He could still see Adam falling after his hand connected with his shoulder. And what unsettled him even more is the fact that Hoss had dreamt exactly what had happened not that he believed in the dream but it was still unsettling.

"Look Pa if you think of blaming yourself for the accident don't cause that's just what it was an accident." Adam said looking at his father.

"Yeah I suppose so but do me just one favour will you, don't argue with me on the stairs again please." Ben pleaded.

"Ok Pa I promise." Adam said grinning.

Ben went back downstairs to bet some breakfast and met Joe at the table.

"What was all the commotion about this morning?"

"Oh I'll tell you about that later what I want you to do is keep an eye on Hoss while your on the cattle drive." Ben asked his son.

"You don't have to ask me that of course I will, see you later." He said heading out the door.

Joe went out to the herd and found Hoss and went up to him to see how he was doing . As they went about their work Joe noticed that Hoss was hesitant whenever he came close to a steer and tended to back off then go after it if it caused him to much trouble. Joe thought to himself that you couldn't run a cattle drive like that you'd never get the job done. He went up to Hoss and asked if anything was wrong but he just gave Joe an irritated look and rode away. Joe just hoped that he could help his brother if he needed it. At lunch time Hoss and Little Joe sat under a big elm tree, but Joe might as well of been sitting there by himself. As lunch was nearly over Hoss looked up to see Black Thunder coming towards them. Him and Hoss had been friends since they were young.

"Hey Black Thunder how you been haven't seen you in awhile." Hoss said smiling at his friend.

"Hello Hoss Cartwright you be fine?" Black Thunder asked.

"Fine just fine, here sit down you know my little brother Joe?" He asked his friend.

Joe smiled at Black thunder in acknowledgment.

"Yes we meet plenty of time hello." He said sitting down next to them.

"So how's your father Black Cloud and the rest of your tribe?" Hoss asked his friend.

"They fine Hoss I need to talk to you." His friend asked looking pointedly at Joe.

"Sure, Joe could you know." Hoss asked.

"I've got to get back to work anyway I'll see you later Black Thunder." Joe said and got up and left.

"Ok Black Thunder what's on your mind?"

"Ranchers been hitting my village and hurting my people."

"You mean some of our neighbours are coming into your village and injuring your people but why?" Hoss asked shocked.

"Don't know why Hoss I ask them why but they just laugh at us." He said becoming angry.

Hoss frowned at the news. "Did you recognise any of them?"

"Yes most of them live near Pauit Canyon. But no matter that I recognise them I come to say if they come into village one more time and Hurt my people we will hurt back." Black Thunder said seriously.

Hoss's eyes widened at that. "Now hold on Black Thunder let me talk to my Pa about this and see if he can do anything about it."

"It's good you talk to your father. Your father good man but no matter for if they come again we will fight. My father said he will go on warpath, many lives taken and I warn you as a friend that to keep your family away from Pauit Canyon and Pauit's for they do not care what white man they kill." He told Hoss sternly.

"Look I'll talk to Pa but you've got to give him time to see what he can do about it. Cause if you do this all hell is going to break loose." He said pleading with his friend.

"I will try friend Hoss but it is not up to me. I must go now I will not see you again." Black Thunder said and got up and went.

Hoss watched Black Thunder ride off with a sense of unease about the whole conversation. Joe came up at that point and asked Hoss what he had told him so Hoss spelled out what was going on then said he was going back to the ranch and tell Pa what was going on. Joe told him to hurry for he had forgotten that the cattle drive went near Pauit Canyon so they could be in for some trouble. Ben was eating lunch when he heard Hoss ride up and saw him burst through the door. Hoss proceeded to explain the circumstances to his father then waited for his father to speak.

" This is bad if Black Cloud attacks anybody the army will destroy them and any other Pauit village they can find. They've been waiting for an excuse just like this one." Ben said exasperated.

"Dad Burnet Pa can't you talk to the ranchers about this I still can't believe our neighbours would do something like this."

"I'm sorry to say most of our neighbours still think the Indian's are savages. But your right Hoss I'll go straight away and try to fix this problem." Ben said getting up from the table.

"I think it will take more than just talking to get rid of years of hatred." Adam said coming down the stairs.

"What are you doing out of bed I wish you would do what your told for once." Ben said Sighing

"I couldn't help over hear what Hoss said and I think we've got a real problem. You know most of the ranchers won't listen to a word you say remember your an Indian lover." Adam said coming to stand next to his father.

"I know that Adam but I've got at least to try. Hoss you go back to the herd and you Mr Joker go back to bed." Ben said sternly.

"All you had to do was ask." Adam said laughing as he quickly went upstairs.

As Ben grabbed his gun belt and hat and walked out Hoss looked upstairs and hoped Adam would behave himself and not come out to the herd. Because he still didn't quite feel comfortable having Adam around him even though this trouble with the Indians had taken his mind off his problems. Hoss went back out to the herd to tell Joe what was going on while Adam sat in his room and thought his brothers are going to need extra help if they come upon any Pauit war party. Sure when his Pa found out he was going to be mighty mad but he'll understand in the end, besides he just can't lay there while his brothers could be in trouble. So Adam got dressed then went downstairs to saddle his horses his. His head still ached and he had a slight headache but he was sure once he got into the fresh air it would go away. Once saddled he rode out to meet his brothers but when he got halfway he was starting to feel off colour and his headache was getting worse instead of better. By the time he got out to the herd Adam was feeling ill but hid it as he rode up to meet Joe.

"Adam what are you going here I thought Pa barricaded you in your room " Joe said jokingly.

"Well if he had his way he would have." He joked back. "No I thought you might need a little extra help if you had any Indian problems."

Joe looked closely at his brother and frowned. "I don't know Adam are you sure you feel up to it you don't look to well."

"Just an after effect of the medicine I took it will wear off soon. Don't worry little brother I can still out rope you and out ride you any day." He told his brother grinning trying to take his mind of his health.

Joe didn't look convinced. "What happens when Hoss sees you out here you promised you wouldn't come out here."

"I don't know what he's going to say but it's to late for him to say anything about it, so how about you and me getting on with the work." Adam said changing the subject.

Joe shrugged his shoulders and rode off with Adam to attend the herd. Of at a distance both brothers didn't notice Black Thunder hiding just watching everything that was going on and when he'd seen enough he jumped on his horse and rode back to his tribe. They worked steadily through out the afternoon and both boys and the ranch hands looked out for any sign of Indians. Adam hadn't seen Hoss but he knew it would be soon and he knew it was going to be tense. As they headed back to the campsite near the end of the day Adam felt glad to be back in camp because he didn't think he could of stayed on his horse another minute. His headache was approaching the point where he could easily rip hi own head off and the dizzy spells were frightening him. But he told himself he was just over tired and a good nights sleep will make a new man out of him. Just as he was rolling his bed out Hoss came riding up and by the look on his face Adam knew he was in for an argument, which he wasn't in the mood for.

"Adam what are you doing here/"

"I thought with the threat of Indians you'll need all the help you can get." Adam told him sitting down before he fell down.

"Doe's Pa know you're here."

"No but I don't know what that has to do with this situation."

"Well by the looks of things the only place you should be is back at the ranch in bed." Hoss said not liking the look of his brother.

"Your exaggerating Hoss I'm just feeling a bit tired that's all. If you remember I have had a trying two days anyway that doesn't change the fact that you need me if the Indians attack." He said trying to convince his brother.

"And what happened to the conversation we had this morning didn't that mean anything to you." Hoss said becoming angry.

Adam was getting irritated more through his headache than his brother but he wasn't in the mood for this conversation. "Look Hoss I'm not going to argue with you now I'm here to stay and that's it."

"Hey you two before you start a war I think we should settle down and get comfortable cause I think it's going to be a long night if where to look out for Indians." Joe said sensibly.

Both Adam and Hoss looked at one another and grinned though Hoss still felt uncomfortable about Adam being there. More to do with his ill health than his dreams but decided to just keep a close eye on his stubborn brother and hope nothing happens.

Ben came home tired and frustrated, the ranchers didn't want to listen to anything he said , what was the name they used Indian lover. He got so angry and frustrated that all he wanted to do was bash all their heads together to make them listen. As Ben hung up his gun and hat he looked into the lounge room and all around the house and found it quiet. Ben sighed to himself and thought at least Adam was finally listening to him and stayed in bed. Ben went out to the kitchen and got himself something to eat then headed up to bed because he wasn't going to solve anything until he got some sleep, but first he thought he would check on Adam first not because he didn't trust him, it was because he dang well worried him at times. Even though he was more sensible than the other two he had a stubborn streak that got him into more dangerous trouble than his brother's, thank goodness he had listened to him this time. Ben got to Adam's room and quietly opened the door and peaked in but couldn't see anything so moved further into the room. As he reached the bed and looked down the first feelings he got were surprise, frustration, anger and then finally resignation. Ben didn't know why he was surprised but he thought with a head injury Adam would take it more seriously. One thing he did know was that he was going out to the cattle drive and sort his son out once and for all. As Ben got into bed and settled down for the night he realised that he never did like the silence of the house when his boys were away then closed his eye's and went to sleep.

"So I gather Hoss didn't take to well finding you here ." Joe said looking at Adam.

"Oh he's a big boy he'll get over it." He said smiling at his brother.

"But will you get over it? Now don't look at me like that I have listened to you talk since you came out here and out of all that you've said there's one point you can't argue with and that is your looking and feeling a lot worse than what your letting on. It's no use giving me that look or trying to argue besides you know I always win the arguments we have so come on let's here the whole story," Joe said looking shrewdly at his brother.

"Ok so I'm not feeling as well as I tried to tell you earlier but if you get to sleep I promise that I'll be as right as rain tomorrow."

Joe looked at his brother worriedly. He had a fine sheen of perspiration running down his face and his colour had an unhealthy tinge to it. "I don't know Adam what I mean is that you could be really sick and it's like Pa said head injury's are nothing to muck around with."

"Look Joe for the last time will you stop worrying and trying to make me sicker than I am. I promise if I feel worse that what I do now I'll go home straight away okay. Don't worry about Hoss he'll get over it I promise." Adam said seriously.

"Alright Adam I believe you for now so will you stop annoying me I'm trying to get some sleep." He said smiling and rolled over to sleep.

"Yeah right little brother." Adam said and rolled over himself to get some sleep.

Adam looked over and saw Hoss starting to toss and turn and thought that if he was having anymore dreams he was going to kill him. But as he continued to watch, Hoss seemed to settle down and when he started to snore Adam knew he was sleeping comfortably. Falling to sleep himself was another matter his head was still killing him and he felt nauseous but forced himself to for he knew he needed it. By three that morning Adam knew he wasn't going to get any sleep what with Hoss snoring and Joe's talking and not to mention the way he felt Adam knew this was going to be a long morning. Adam sat up but immediately wished he hadn't for as his body sat up straight his head spun as if he was on a windmill and the pounding in his head was becoming unbearable. Maybe just maybe his family were right this time because the way he felt at the moment he could easily roll over and die. But instead he just put his head in his hands and tried to ignore the pain. It took awhile but eventually Adam slid into an uneasy sleep but as he dozed Hoss started to get restless and yelled out Adam's name. Again he was dreaming that Adam was being killed but this time it was worse because this time it was at the hands of his friend Black Thunder. There was Black Thunder standing over Adam with a rope around his neck strangling the life out of him, and Hoss could see himself this time just standing there watching the whole thing. He tried to move to help his brother but it was as if his feet were tied to the ground because he couldn't move them. And as he struggled to get to his brother he looked up and saw Adam slide to the ground with the rope still around his neck. Horrified Hoss looked up at Black Thunder and actually saw tears in his eye's before he looked sadly at Hoss then walked away slowly. All of a sudden Hoss could move his feet so ran over to Adam but as he got there and picked him up he knew it was to late, even when he shook Adam's body it was no good Adam was dead. Hoss looked up at the retreating back of his Indian friend then an anger started to build up in him not just for Black Thunder but for himself for he had a chance to save his brother but had failed both Adam and his family. He started to scream out Black Thunders name but when he turned around Hoss was shocked to see not Black Thunders face but his own. And Hoss knew that his face had materialised there because he was the one who had killed his brother not Black Thunder , he had failed to save him. To horrified to think of what he had done he started to scream then found himself being shaken awake and when he opened his eye's he found Little Joe staring down at him with a worried look on his face.

"Hoss dam it Hoss wake up your dreaming again."

"Joe what are you doing at the Indian camp and where's Adam's body?" Hoss asked frantically.

Joe looked at his brother as if he had gone mad. "What Indian camp? Look Hoss wake up it's morning and your camped out on the cattle drive."

Hoss looked around and found he had been dreaming again and got upset because he was sick of these dreams more so because they seem to come true. Not wanting his brother to think he was a real nut Hoss acted like nothing was wrong. "Oh yeah sure Joe look don't worry about me or what I said I'm just rambling."

"Well don't get insulted big brother but it's not you I'm worried about it's Adam. Look over at him he look's positively ill and he's sweating all over." Joe said looking worriedly at his brother.

Hoss got up quickly and walked over to check on his big brother and cursed to himself. "Your right Joe let's go see if we can wake him up."

"Adam wake up, c'mon Adam wake up."

"Oh Joe leave me alone and I won't tell Pa about the girls shoe I found in your bedroom." Adam said turning over to go back to sleep.

Hoss raised his eyebrows at his little brother and grinned. "What girl's shoe Joe have you been playing up or something."

"Oh shut up Hoss not now." Joe grumbled at his brother swearing he was gonna get Adam back for that. " Adam c'mon get up where taking you into town to see the doctor."

"I think your right Joe my head feels like splitting in two and I feel like I'm going to throw up." Adam said not feeling well at all.

"Ok Hoss get the horses saddled and we'll get going."

When Hoss didn't move Joe looked up at him annoyingly to ask why he hadn't moved. Upon seeing the look on his face he turned around to see what had put it there and heard Hoss's voice behind him as he saw a bunch of Indians a little away. "Somehow I don't we will be going anywhere at the moment."

The Indians moved quickly and start attacking the heard.

"Quick Hoss grab your rifle and Adam you stay here. I know you'd like to help but your in no condition so will you please stay here."

"It's alright Joe I couldn't get up even if I wanted to now go before anybody gets killed." Adam said hoping it wasn't one of his brothers.

Adam lay back and watched his brother's ride away wishing he could go with them and hoped they were careful. He heard the Indians off at a distance and it sounded as if it was going to be a bad fight so Adam decided to get on his horse and try to help anyway. It took him a little time to get on his horse and when he did he almost decided to give up but the thought of his brothers fighting out there spurred him on. As he got near the fighting he spotted both white man and Indian going hard at it and knew he'd be no help so decided to go and get extra help and went to ride off when he saw Black Cloud off at a distance struggling with two of his ranch hands when he was over powered and knocked to the ground and dragged off. As Adam was about to ride over to see what the ranch hands were going to do to him he heard a noise behind him and turned around to see what it was, but he must of turned around to fast because he went dizzy and fell off his horse, and when he looked up he saw Black Thunder and two braves standing over him before he passed out.

Ben rode up to the camp intending to give Adam a piece of his mind when he saw up at a distance Hoss, Joe and some of the hands riding up to the camp site as well. When he got there Ben saw his boys worriedly searching.

"Hoss, Joe what in tarnashin is going on around here."

"The Pauit's attacked early this morning Pa." Hoss told him.

"Was anybody hurt." Ben asked worriedly.

"Bob and Hank were killed and Sam was injured," Joe said sadly.

"Poor Bob and Hank I am sorry." Ben said hating senseless death but needed to grieve later. All we can do for now is go and bring the herd closer to the camp and then we'll make an earlier start tomorrow and get to our destination a day earlier. Now where's Adam I want a word with that young man."

Both boys looked at one another then back at their father. Joe knew his father wasn't going to like what he was about to tell him. "Well Pa that's just it we left him here when the fighting started but when we got back he was gone."

"Well he couldn't of just up and disappeared." Ben said.

"To tell you the truth Pa he didn't look crash hot in fact he looked positively ill." Hoss said yelping as Joe kicked him to shut up.

"Well of all the stubborn bull headed cantankerous human beings there are your brother takes the cake. Well he's going to find out how stubborn his father can be that's if we can find him." Ben said angrily.

"Don't worry Pa he probably took himself off to the doc's and is in town right now Joe said trying to cool his fathers temper down for Adam's sake.

"I suppose so well lets go and move the herd."

"Hey Pa can I talk to you for a minute." Hoss said looking at his father.

"What's up."

"Well I think something's wrong Pa."

"What do you mean Hoss?" Ben asked frowning.

"I don't think Adam went into town that's what I mean."

"If he's not in town then where is he?"

"I don't know Pa but I think he's in trouble."

"Can you tell me what kind of trouble he's in?" Ben said impatiently.

Hoss sighed in frustration. "Dad Burnet Pa I don't know but I do know that he was to sick to leave the campsite by himself."

"To sick to leave the camp. Just how sick was he?" Ben asked his worry going up a notch.

"To tell you the truth he didn't look to good."

Ben ran his hand over his tired eyes. "Well he's got to be somewhere we'll just have to find him."

"Hey Pa look at this." Joe yelled out.

"What is it Joe?" Ben asked going over to him.

"An arrow was shot into a tree just a minute ago with a note attached to it and I think you had better read it."

Ben grabbed the note and when he read the note he went white. Black Thunder had kidnapped Adam because he thought they had his father.

"I'm sorry Pa I didn't realise they would come into the camp but don't you worry we'll get him back I promise."

"But I don't understand it where's Black Cloud? If we've got him where is he", Ben said looking dumb founded.

"Two hands are missing Pa and there the one's that we borrowed from on of our good neighbours that refer to you as an Indian lover. If those two have got Black Cloud it's going to be a bit difficult to swap him for Adam." Joe said feeling helpless.

"Hoss is there any way you could get in touch with Black Thunder and see if you can reason with him?" Ben said looking hopeful at his son.

"I don't know Pa he's probably taken Adam back to their camp site." Hoss said not wanting to think of what Black Thunder would do to his brother if he didn't get his father back.

"Well I'm not going to stand here and let my son be killed c'mon boys where going to find those ranch hands." He said angrily.

Ben and his boys got on there horses and rode out as Ben was thinking that when he got Adam back he was going to kill him.

Adam opened his eye's and looked around trying to get his bearings. As he looked around he found he was in a Tee Pee and alone. As he tried to sit up he found himself bound at the feet and hands so lay back down. The only thing that seemed to be good about the situation was his headache had disappeared a lot which was a relief. Looking around he saw water and food next to him which indicated that he was in no immediate danger though that could change at any minute so he had better start to think of a way out of this. Just then the flap to the tent opened and Black Thunder came in with two older Indians which Adam assumed were part of the council. From the look on Black Thunder's face it didn't look to good for him but he kept a confident look on his face as he addressed them.

"Black Thunder why have you brought me here?" Adam asked sounding more confident than he felt.

"Be quiet Adam Cartwright I will talk for council. My father has been captured by the white man if he is dead we do not know, but the council has met and they decide that we send a note to your father saying we want a trade my father for you." Black Thunder said not showing anything on his face.

"And if they don't swap or they can't because Black Cloud is dead what happens?"

"The Council say that if Black Cloud is dead or they do not swap, you Adam Cartwright will die in place of my father." He said with no expression on his face.

"Black Thunder you've got to give my father time to work it out and that's even if he's got your father." Adam said uneasily.

"It's not up to me the council decide what happens no more talk now we speak later." Black Thunder said as he and the elders walked out the tent leaving Adam to think that he couldn't be in a worse situation if he tried.

Adam thought as he lay there that he had to find a way to talk to Black Thunder into talking to the council and finding a better way to deal with this situation. If he didn't he doubted if he had much longer to live because he didn't think whoever had Black Cloud would keep him alive.

Ben had decided to ride straight over to Toby Wilson's place thinking that his hands would probably take Black Cloud there. He spurred both himself and his boys on as he didn't know how long Toby would keep the Indian Chief alive.

"Pa it's all my fault." Hoss said looking down as they rode.

"What do you mean Hoss." Ben asked looking over at him.

"I had a dream that Black Thunder had him I tell you Pa it's my fault."

Ben sighed as he looked at his son. "Hoss don't start this dreaming business again. This is too serious a situation for you to start this all over again."

"No Pa listen to me I dreamed that Black Thunder had Adam and that he well that he killed him. Don't you see it's a sign and it's all my fault." Hoss said stubbornly.

"Look Hoss you've got to start thinking straight you have to realise that dreams are dreams and that's all they are. Now you tell me have any of your dreams come true? I'll answer that no they haven't and if you stop to think that may be there could be another reason that your dreaming them. They really have nothing to do with Adam at all, now I want to see you think very carefully about this because I'm going to need you in this and I don't want you to go off on one of your guilt trips do you understand", Ben said sternly.

"Ok I'll think about it and I'll try to think sensibly ."

"Good I appreciate it Hoss now Joe how far are we from Toby's place?"

"Not far Pa just over them hills."

"Good let's hurry up the letter said that we've got only till tomorrow afternoon at five o-clock." Ben said as they pushed there horses further.

Adam was getting frustrated he couldn't see to get the ropes undone and his headache was getting wor4se again. Just then the flap lifted and a young Indian woman came in with a bowl and cloth and when she knelt down Adam recognised her. As she dipped the cloth into the bowl he suddenly remembered who she was her name was Little Feather, Black Thunders sister. She then put the cloth onto the place where the injury was and not quite trusting her he jerked his head away.

"Do not worry this is medicine to help you get better." Little Feather said kindly

"What is that stuff your putting on my head?" hE said warily.

"It has roots and herbs mixed together and the medicine man has blessed it do not worry it helps."

"Your name is Little Feather isn't it?"

"You remember me when we visit your great Ponderosa, it is beautiful place your Ponderosa."

"Yes it is but tell me is Black Thunder really going through with this?"

"What the council said to do they do." Little Feather said simply.

"Could you go and see Black Thunder and tell him I want to see him?" Adam asked.

"I will go and see him you rest medicine will fix head." She said as she walked out the tent.

A couple of minutes later Black Thunder walked in. "What do you want to speak of?"

"Is there any way I can talk you and the council out of the decision you've made." Adam asked appealing to him.

"It is the councils decision. You brother of friend Hoss Cartwright I do not like to treat you like this but they have my father and even though you friend of father if he does you die. White man kill time and time again and we do nothing until now. But no more I am sorry you are involved but I cannot help that," Black Thunder said pacing back and forth angrily.

"Will you at least untie me I'm not going anywhere."

"Sorry not trust white man." He said then left.

Adam hoped his father would be able to fix this because the look on Black Thunder's face nothing would save him.

"Hoss, Little Joe are you alright?" Ben yelled at his sons as bullets flew everywhere.

"Yeah Pa where both fine." Both boys yelled hiding behind some fences.

"Well stay put I'll see what's going on."

"Toby, Toby Wilson this is Ben Cartwright why are you shooting at us?" Ben yelled out.

"Stay where you are Ben you and your boys, your not getting the Indian." Toby yelled back.

"Toby why don't you put your gun's down and we can talk about this you don't really want to shoot anyone."

"No Ben you just want to give back that filthy savage. Well you might be an Indian lover but I'm not so go back to the Ponderosa where you belong." Toby said angrily.

"Listen to me Toby the Indians have my son Adam and I think for my son's life you could at least talk to me or is your hate so much that you'd risk the life of a white man that you'v known since he was a kid." Ben yelled back angrily.

"What will talking do it won't achieve anything except waste my time and yours instead of trying to save your son's life. Are you that much of an Indian lover that you'd risk your own son's life?" He said sarcastically.

Ben could see he wasn't going to get through to him but if there was a chance that he had Black Cloud and he could get him back he had to keep trying to talk to him. "That's just it Toby you can save Adam's life I need your help. Don't you remember when they were younger the way they use to play with one another all the time. My Adam and your Jenny what would your Jenny think of you now risking Adam's life over a old feud."

"You call my wife's and daughters slaughter by Indians an old feud? It seems to me the years have hardened you Ben Cartwright well you may have forgotten but I haven't so take your sanctimonious talk and go home He yelled emotionally.

"I can't do that Toby I need Black Cloud to swap for by son and I'm not leaving until we at least talk about it." Ben said stubbornly.

"Just try and get him Ben and you'll risk more than one of your son's life."

"Why are we listening to all this Pa let's just go in and get him time's running out." Hoss said looking up at the sky.

"No I want to see if I can talk Toby into giving me Black Cloud or this could get bloody. Let me try one more time boy's."

Both boys looked at one another and decided their father knew what was best so kept their vigilance."

"Toby you don't want anymore bloodshed than I do so please can we at least talk that wont do any harm, but it might save my son's life." Ben said trying to convince his old friend.

"Alright Cartwright but you and your boys drop your gun's and walk slowly up. And don't try anything." Toby said thinking it over.

Ben and his boys dropped their weapons and walked slowly up to the house not missing the fact that there were Toby's men all around the place their rifles pointing at them, and as Ben got to the front door he hoped that he could find some way out of this without hurting his friend but he doubted it.

Adam lay there thinking over his problem but couldn't see a way out of it without some help. Well at least his headache was almost non existent, if he could only get these ropes off he'd have a better chance of escaping. Just as he sat up to get a look outside the flap opened up and Little Feather came in then pulled out a knife.

"Little Feather try not to consider this a stupid question but what do you intend to do with that knife?" Adam asked carefully.

"Do not worry Adam I have come to set you free." Little Feather said bending down ready to cut his ropes.

"Why would you go against your brother and the council especially since it was my people who took your father?"

"Yes your people killed mine, and yes my father was captured but I still think it is wrong for them to hold you against your will. This is normally not our way so I let you go and the white man see that and let my father go." She explained as she was about to cut the rope.

Adam heard footsteps outside the TeePee coming towards them. "Wait I here someone coming, quick slide the knife in to my hand and pretend to tend to my wound." He said grabbing the knife.

"Little Feather what are you doing in here?" Black Thunder said suspiciously.

"I wanted to see if the wound was healing." She answered not looking at her brother.

"You must leave us now I wish to talk to him." Black Thunder ordered his sister.

She nodded to her brother gave a quick look towards Adam then left the tent. Adam looked at Black Thunder warily wishing he could read his mind. He decided the best option at the moment was too play along with him.

"So what do we have to discuss, unless you have decided to let me go." Adam said smiling.

"This is no time for jokes Adam it is as you white man say two o-clock and we must prepare." He replied.

"What do you mean prepare? Have they decided to swap?"

"You do not understand. To make the white people believe we are serious we must send part of you to them."

Adam looked up at Black Cloud in shock. He couldn't believe he would do something like that, but the look in his eyes made Adam shiver as he gripped the knife tighter. "Did you say that you were sending part of me as proof? That does seem a bit over the top don't you think?"

"I have to if they are to take me serious. I don't want to do this to you my friends brother but it was ordered so by the council. Do not struggle you only make it worse if you do."

"Black Thunder I do think and understand the Indian way but I don't think this is your way. I can't believe that you would harm anybody who didn't harm you. Your to much of a warrior, think about it."

He looked thoughtfully at Adam. "I do not know I would have to think about it. I will come back soon." Black Thunder said as he went out the tent.

Adam never before had to wait in a tense situation like this. And he knew that if he could not convince Black Thunder that there was another way then he would have to use the knife and that was not what he was looking forward too.

Ben and his boys were led around the back of the house and were shocked to see Black Cloud strung up by the hands and it looked as if he had been whipped.

"My God what have you done to him are you mad?" Ben asked looking shocked.

"That's none of your business now what do you want to say?" Toby said ignoring Ben's out burst.

"I want you to release Black Cloud into my custody so you don't get into anymore trouble than what you are."

"If this is all you came to tell me then I suggest you go now before I forget our friendship we've had all these years."

"Yeah great friend to have. I can't believe my father would be a friend to a person who treated other human beings like that." Joe said angrily pointing to Black Cloud.

"And what would you know about friendship your just a young pup. Ben advise your boy to shut up or I'll shut him up myself." Toby said angrily.

Ben gave Joe a warning look. Even though the condition of Black Cloud made him sick he didn't need his sons temper to make things worse. "Look this is getting us nowhere. Toby I'm pleading with you I need Black Cloud alive if I'm going to get Adam back alive. Will you give him to me?"

"I'm sorry Ben but these savages have to be taught a lesson. I'm also sorry about Adam my Mary and him were close and I hate to see him die by the hands of the Indians. But maybe that will be the only way you will understand what I'm trying to do." He told his friend sadly.

"I'm sorry to." Ben said and with that he flew at Toby slamming him to the ground while his boys ducked for cover. While there was confusion Joe snuck around the back of the barn and crept up on one of the hands and wrestled the gun off him then started to fire back. Meanwhile Hoss had managed to reach Black Cloud and untie him then told him to reach the safety of cover, then Hoss went to help his brother and Pa. By this time Joe had gotten two of the hands and his father had a gun trained on Toby. When Ben asked where Black Cloud was he came out of hiding and started to walk towards them when a shot rang out and Black Cloud slumped to the ground. A shocked Ben looked down to see Toby holding a small pistol and kicked it out of his hand. Hoss ran over to Black Cloud but when he got there he knew it was to late. Ben just stood there feeling hopelessness invade him for he didn't know how he was going to get Adam out of this now. Off at a distance one of Black Thunders people stood watching all that had gone down. When he saw Hoss pick up the lifeless body of their chief his eye's became hard as he jumped on his horse and rode away. He must get back to Black Thunder and tell him that the white man had killed his father and as he thought that a smile spread across his face. He knew the fate that was to happen to the white man they had captive he only wished that he could be the one that killed him. Back at the Ponderosa Ben sat by the fire trying to think of an idea that would save his son. With Black Cloud's body out in the barn it seemed hopeless but if he started to think that then Adam was as good as dead. Ben got up and started pacing hoping that would give him some idea.

"Pa I don't know why where back home when we should be out there looking for Adam. Don't you realise with Black Cloud dead the word is going to get back to Black Thunder which means Adam's life isn't going to be worth a damn think." Joe said frustrated.

"I know we haven't got much time don't you think I'm worried? But we have to think this through carefully Adam's life is on the line."

"Of course Adam's life is on the line. But all you do is pace up and down while my brother's out there probably dead for all we know." Joe shouted angrily.

"Now look Joe I can understand you being worried but where all worried and I won't have you losing control so settle down." He told his son firmly.

Joe immediately looked ashamed of himself. He was just so worried about his brother he wasn't thinking. "Sorry Pa, I just feel that time is running out."

"I know Joe so I." Ben began about to say when Hoss yelled from outside.

"Hey Pa come out here you've got to see this."

"What is it Hoss?" Ben asked his son as he and Joe went running outside.

"I found this stuck to the barn door." Hoss said handing it to his father.

"Oh my God." Ben yelled out as he dropped the object and jumped back.

"Is that what I think it is?" Joe said in a shocked voice.

"Pa I won't believe that Black Thunder would cut Adam's ear off and send it to us." Hoss said looking horrified at the ear lying on the ground.

"What in the hell do you think that is," Joe said angrily. If I get my hands on him he'll be sorry he ever touched him.

"Settle down Joe I'd better read the note." Ben said bending down and picking up the note with a sick feeling in his stomach when he thought of his son struggling while they held him down and cut if off.

"Well what does it say?"

"It say's if the swap is a go we are to meet them at their camp at five o-clock and where to be unarmed."

"Oh yeah and how do we know that Adam is still alive and where not walking into a trap?" Joe said angrily.

"They say that the ear is proof and that if we don't meet them they will kill Adam and string him up so all white man can see." Ben told his sons still shocked by the events.

"Ok what do you want us to do?" Joe asked.

Ben look at his sons with a worried but steely determination in his eyes. "Saddle up the horses Joe and saddle up one for Black Cloud where going in there and getting your brother one way or another."

As the boys saddled the horses Ben thought about getting Roy but decided against it cause this was personal. Ben then looked down at his son's ear and nearly threw up but forced it down long enough to pick it up and wrap it, then took it and put it into his desk drawer, not knowing what else to do with it. Hoss on the other hand was having guilt trips and was worried that if he went with them he'd be signing Adam's death warrant. But he couldn't bring it up to his Pa for it was the wrong time so kept silent and hoped it all worked out. When Ben was sure everything was ready he followed the directions the Indians gave him hoping they could get out of this without anyone of them being killed.

Adam woke up with his head throbbing and couldn't work out why his head hurt so much. He touched his head and found a cloth like bandage on the left side of his head and down across his ear, and then it came back to him. He'd been laying there when the flap had opened and Little Feather and two braves had walked in and he could see she was carrying a bowl with some bandages, but what made him nervous was the big hunting knife she carried with her. Adam had asked what they intended to do but all she would say was they had to do it and for him not to struggle to much or he would hurt himself more. Of course Adam tried to struggle but with both his hands and feet bound Adam had no choice. Then he felt a pain at the side of his head and must of passed out until he had woken up a couple of minutes ago. He then realised his hands were free and when he looked down at his feet they were free too, and not looking a gift horse in the mouth went to get up but found he couldn't. A wave of dizziness hit him which sent him lying back down as the pain hit his head and was getting steadily worse. Just then Black Thunder came into the tent and just stood there staring at him.

"What have you done to me? Why is my head bandaged?" Adam asked frowning.

"We put bandages on to stop the bleeding, if you die you die like a man." Black Thunder said proudly.

" What have you done to me? You promised you'd think it over." Adam said appalled bringing his hand to his head.

"We did not cut off much just enough." Black Thunder said smiling.

"How can you stand there and smile after what you've done to me?" Adam yelled trying to sit up.

"It had to be done you must understand that."

"All I understand is that you've mutilated me and I really doubt if you plan to give me back alive." Adam said angrily and with that he tried to get up but a wave of dizziness hit him which propelled him forward to the ground. Adam's head connected with a barrel which knocked him out. A little while later Adam felt wetness on his face and when he opened his eye's he found Black Thunder standing over him with a bowl of water.

"You fell hit head open wound. It started bleeding but it will get better."

Adam dragged himself into a sitting position. "So what do we do now, swap me or kill me?"

"You come with me now we not have much time." Black Thunder said becoming serious.

"Where are we going?" He asked becoming suspicious.

"Do not speak just come." He said and with that two braves came into the tent and grabbed Adam and took him outside.

They dragged him over to two upright poles with ropes hanging from the top and figuring out what they intended to do he started to struggle which made them grab him tighter and drag him over to it. Once they got him there they grabbed both hands and tied them to the ropes and hoisted him up until he had to stand on his toes.

"You will stay here until they bring Black Cloud then we will swap." Black Thunder said then walked off.

Already Adam could feel the strain on his arms but he wasn't going to let them see that. He could feel something trickling down the side of his face and when he looked down on his shirt he could see blood dripping on it. He couldn't understand it this mutilation was not like Black Thunder and what made him mad was that he was the one that was going to have to live with this wound for the rest of his life. As he hung out in the heat he knew that if his Pa didn't do something soon they wouldn't have to worry about the swap.

Meanwhile Ben and the boys had been riding for awhile all having separate thoughts on what they'll find when they got to there destination. Hoss thought to himself that if Adam had any chance at survival then he had to stay clear of him. That was going to be hard when his father expected him to be by his side all the way. He'd just have to deal with that when the situation arose he thought grimly. With the directions they were given they rode for awhile until they came to the point just before the meeting point.

"Is this the spot Pa?" Joe asked his father.

"Yeah just about. What time is it Joe?" Ben asked his son vaguely.

"Half past four we've still got half an hour you want me to go and scout?" He asked his father.

"Yeah but don't go to far in case their watching." He warned his son.

"I'll be careful."

He rode off and stopped about five hundred metres around the corner when he spotted the Pauit's camp. But what made him stare in horror was the sight of Adam strung up in the middle of the camp. By the looks of things he'd been there for awhile because he wasn't standing up straight he was slouched down and looked to be unconscious. Joe's blood started to boil and all he wanted to do was rush in and grab him but he couldn't of course so he rode back and told his father what he'd seen.

"Did he look.. well did he look alive?" Ben asked afraid to hear the answer.

"I think so Pa but he doesn't look in very good shape."

Ben turned and looked at the dead body of Black Cloud with trepidation. "Well if we don't think of something quick he won't be alive for long."

"Pa whatever you do leave me out of it Adam's life depends on it." Hoss said not looking at his father.

Ben looked at his son in exasperation. "Hoss this is no time for jokes."

"Oh I don't think he's joking I think this has to do with those dreams he's been having." Joe said rolling his eye's.

"Hoss I've just about had enough of those dreams of yours. This has got to stop now I need you don't you understand that?" He said trying to get through to his son.

"No Pa I'm not going anywhere near that camp so I'll cover you from here and don't look at me like that because it ain't going to work." He said stubbornly.

"Look I've got no time to discuss this at the moment we'll discuss this later. Hoss you stay here if it makes you feel better but watch our backs, Joe you come with me and if talking doesn't do it then you know what we have to do?" Ben said his feeling of foreboding getting stronger.

Joe nodded to his father before looking angrily at his brother.

As they rode off Hoss knew he was doing the right thing but it still didn't make him feel any better. But if it meant saving Adam's life then he knew he was right. After a couple of minutes of silence all Hoss could think of was that his Pa and brother had gone into a situation where it could be fateful and here he was sitting like a baby. Whatever he thought the dreams meant it didn't change the fact that his family needed him so got up and snuck around the other side of the camp and saw what Joe had seen before. Seeing Adam like that he didn't think he could ever forgive his friend Black Thunder ever again. Hoss wasn't quite close enough to sneak up and grab Adam so waited for a sign from his father but at the same time kept a close eye on his brother.

Adam licked his lips his throat was that dry he could of drunk all of lake Tahoe but instead lifted his head and looked over at what seemed to be a meeting of some sort. His wrists were killing him for he couldn't keep his weight of them anymore and just slumped. His head was killing him which meant he wasn't in good shape but as he looked closely at the group of people he became suddenly alert for there was his father standing there talking to Black Thunder, and a great sense of release swept over him that he couldn't describe. As he watched the discussion he noticed it had become tense and it looked like Black Thunder was getting angrier by the minute. All of a sudden all hell broke loose before his eye's and there were gun shots and fighting all over the place and when he looked over to where most of the gun fire was he saw his fathers neighbour Toby Wilson with some ranch hands firing. Through all the commotion he could hear a noise of f to his right and turned around to see Little Feather running towards him with a knife and waited for the fatal blow but it didn't come and when he opened his eye's he saw Little Feather cutting his rope instead. Once the ropes were cut he slumped to the ground to weak to stop himself. Little Feather started to help him up and when he turned to thank her he saw Black Thunder running up to them and by the look on his face he didn't look like he was coming to help. When Black Thunder caught up to them he had fire in his eye's that Adam didn't think could be extinguished unless he killed Adam himself. He grabbed his sister and flung her to the ground which made Adam fall then with a rope he stood over Adam slipped it around his neck and began to squeeze. Adam put his hands up to his throat and tried to loosen the rope but Black Thunder had to much strength and as Adam felt the fire in his throat he started to slip into unconsciousness, and his last thought was that the rest of his family would survive and that he would never see his family again.

Hoss could see Little Feather running towards his brother and was about to take a shot when he noticed that she was intending to cut the rope instead of him. Just as he was about to go and help he spotted Black Thunder run up grab his sister and throw her to the ground. All of a sudden his dream came back to him in full force and when he saw Black Thunder slip the rope around Adam's neck he didn't do a thing just stood there frozen to the spot. Visions of Adam being strangled and him frozen to the spot reeled through his mind and for a moment he stood there watching his dream come true. Then he heard his father's voice in his head saying to him once that your destiny is not set you can always change it if you have the mind to. And as he watched Adam slide to the ground his body took on a life of it's own and bolted up and started running to his brother firing his weapon. As Adam dropped to the ground so did Black Thunder and Hoss knew he was dead before he hit the ground but was Hoss's stupidity the cause of his brothers death. When Hoss reached his brother he ripped the rope from around Adam's throat and checked to see if he was still breathing just as Ben and Joe came running up. Hoss could see he wasn't breathing and panicked so grabbed him and started to shake him. At first he thought it was hopeless then all of a sudden Adam started to cough which was a great relief to the whole family. Joe helped Little Feather while Hoss picked up Adam and they went back to the camp and lay Adam in one of the Tee Pees. As Adam looked up he saw his family's face's looking down at him and had never seen such a welcoming sight in his life.

"Pa I never thought I'd see you again, oh my throat!" Adam groaned out loud.

"Don't talk Adam just rest your throat and we'll explain everything later." Ben said looking at the side of his son's head.

"Take the bandages off Pa I want to see how much damage there is."

"Not now Adam wait until we get you to a doctor."

Adam didn't want to wait. "No Pa do it now."

Ben looked over at Hoss and Joe then looked back at his eldest son who had a determined look on his face which told Ben that if he didn't take it off now he would. Ben took a deep breath then started to unwrap the bandages hoping that it wasn't to bad for Adam's sake. As the last of the bandages came off everyone held their breath and when Ben opened his eye's he saw what he didn't expect to see for there was Adam's ear still intact. For a moment no-one spoke and then smiles broke out on all the Cartwrights faces and when Adam looked at his father's face he brought his hand up to where his ear wasn't supposed to be. When he felt his ear there a smile spread across his face as he started to laugh slightly."

"Adam what are you laughing at?" Ben asked.

"What an idiot I am." Adam said still laughing.

Ben and sighed worriedly. "And why are you an idiot?"

"I was so wrong about Black Thunder he was only trying to help." He said looking at his father.

"Adam will you make sense."

"When he said he was going to send a part of me as proof. I didn't believe him but when his sister came in with a knife and cut behind my ear the pain was so bad I must of passed out. So when I came to and had the bandages on I assumed that he had my ear removed but it wasn't my ear." Adam told his father as if it should all make sense.

Ben was becoming frustrated. "Well what were they doing to you then?"

"Don't you see they were trying to fix the wound I had you know the one I got when the horse kicked me. It must of gotten badly infected so they cut the infection out of it before the gang green set in, Pa Black Thunder was trying to help me."

"But what about the ear that was sent to us. If it wasn't Adam's then whose was it? Joe asked.

" I don't know and I guess we will never know." Ben said just glad that Adam was going to be alright.

Ben and his boys helped Adam up and got him back to the Ponderosa then Ben sent Hoss into Virginia City to get the doc and the sheriff. The doc went to see Adam while Ben explained to Roy what had happened with the Indians and Toby Wilson, so as to take the blame off the Indians. The Indians had realised what was going on and helped Ben stop Toby and his men. Once the doc had finished with Adam and he and the sheriff left Ben thought it was time to have a talk with his eldest son.

"Well son how are you feeling?"

"I'm feeling a lot better now I'm home." Adam said leaning back on the pillow.

"By you leaving your sick bed do you realise what could of happened? Ben said sternly.

"Look I know I shouldn't of left the ranch but I was only worried about Hoss and Little Joe being out there with the threat of Indians."

"Adam your a grown man with his own mind but just consider next time what you are doing to your father with stunts like this." He told his son.

"I am sorry that I worried you all."

"Well now that's done I think you should have a serious conversation with your brother Hoss."

"You mean the dreams? Yeah I think I'd better solve this once and for all." Adam said thinking over what he was going to say to his brother.

Ben went downstairs to fetch Hoss hoping that Adam would be able to help his brother knowing it could only be sought out between the two of them. When Ben told Hoss that Adam wanted to see him he seemed hesitant to go upstairs but with Ben's urging Hoss reluctantly. When he got into Adam's room he walked over and sat down n the chair not saying a word. Looking up he noticed the rope mark still around Adam's neck and looed away quickly again.

"The rope marks will fade in time Hoss and you don't have to blame yourself. It was my fault if I had of listened to Pa I wouldn't of got into the trouble I was in."

"But Adam the dreams they had to mean something."

"Hoss have you stopped to think why you've been having them in the first place?" Adam asked his brother.

"No but every time I had one you got hurt."

"Look Hoss think about it. First there was my stallion now don't look like that I told you it was an accident. Then there was the calf you couldn't save and then there was the foal. You have been having some really bad luck lately and with it all praying on your mind its was no wonder you were having those dreams about dying, it was only natural Adam said to Hoss looking at him.

"Dad Burnet Adam it was you who died in those dreams time and time again, so you tell me why was that?"

"I don't know maybe you were feeling guilty about my stallion and transferred it into your dreams."

"Ok smart alec what about the dream with Black Cloud how do you explain that", Hoss asked.

I can't but if you remember in the dream I died while you stood there and watched. But when it came to reality you saved my life if it wasn't for you I would be dead by now. So don't you think that's the real truth?"

Hoss looked at his brother and realised his brother was right and smiled at him. "You know Adam I think those dreams will disappear."

"They'd better cause I'm just about getting sick and tired of dying it's a real drag you know." Adam said placing his hand on his brothers shoulder smiling back.

And that's how Ben found them when he and Joe walked into the room.

"Well can anyone join the party?" Ben said smiling.

"Sure Pa but I'd leave the other one out until he's of age." Adam said grinning at Joe.

"Is everything alright?"

"Everything's fine Pa." Hoss said smiling for the first time in days which gave Ben the answer he was looking for.

"And as for you big brother you don't know how mature I am." Joe said looking at Adam grinning.

"Oh I believe you little brother, remember I found that girls shoe in your room. Would that of been one of the nights when Pa was away?" Adam said looking innocent.

"Hey yeah Joe what is the story about, who was she?" Hoss asked his brother his interest raised.

Ben turned to his sone with a deep frown on his face. "Yes Joseph what about the girls shoe Adam found in your room while I was away?"

"Well you see Pa I haven't got time to explain at the moment but as soon as I do I surely will don't you worry." Joe said giving Adam a nasty look as he quickly went out the door.

"Joseph, Joseph you get back here and explain now." Ben yelled after his son as he rushed out the room after him.

Both boys laughed knowing Joe was in for it but also knowing that Joe would talk his way out of it.

"Adam it's good to have you back." Hoss said as he went out the door.

"Good to have you back too Hoss." Adam said to his brothers retreating back settling down for a nice quiet sleep knowing that he won't here anymore about death dreams again.

THE

END

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Thanks to everyone who has read my story and please feel free to send me feedback ... i appreciate it