The Crucible: What Happened Instead
By Visage
Summary: What if they never found Adam in the desert? Would he have found his way home?
Rating: PG
Warnings: Semi-Spoliers for The Crucible.
Feedback: Yes, please!

Author's Note: This is one of those stories that started off as a suggestion on a message board thread and kind of found a life of its own. I know, I know, I haven't forgotten about our favorite little Cabin Boy. But Adam is so self-sufficient and rarely needy that when he demands attention you give it to him. Like operant conditioning… I think. Or is it classical?

...

Prologue

Numb.

That was all he had felt since that day in the desert. Complete nothingness.

"Pa, you can't go on like this." What was that? A Cartwright giving up?

"It's been two weeks since he left Eastgate." Two weeks? That couldn't be right. It passed by as a frantic blur.

"Alright," Ben sighed. He tried to mask the pain with slight indifference, acceptance of what he could not control. But no matter how hard he tried, his ears couldn't block out the sobbing cry of his heart as it left his chest. "Let's go on back home."

Ben slowly turned his horse around, unable to lift his eyes up from his pants leg where grains of sand began to collect in the material. His hand refused to reach up and brush it away.

He turned to take one last gaze over his shoulder before urging Buck forward. He didn't look to see if Hoss and Joe were following behind.

He almost didn't care.