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A Baby Changes Everything

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Rafe, Joe, and Anne watched amused as Rock and JT continued their drinking game. Each one determined to beat the other to see who would be the one to clean the stables in the morning with a hangover.

Rafe watched as JT rocked in his chair almost falling off the piece of wood. He would never forget the feeling of almost losing that child. They had barely been able to save him that day months ago when Bruce Barkow had hired Bo Dorn to take out the older man for interfering with Barkow's plans. By some higher power the bullet hadn't been a fetal shot that it was meant to be. Since then Rafe and the others had shown how much the boy meant to them.

As such, it meant spoiling him booze and letting him flirt with the saloon girls. And of course letting Rock tell bad Irish jokes and letting the younger two drink themselves stupid.

The game tonight was simple. A deck of card in the middle of the table and bottle of whiskey for each man. Whoever drew the lower card had to drink from his bottle for however number of seconds as their card, going all the way to 12 full seconds for a Queen.(A King means ya win right away.) Each one of the them had already emptied a bottle of the gut rotting liquor and were on the edge of polishing off another one each.

"What's a'matter, kid? Can't keep up?" slurred Rock, eyes not quite focusing on the younger of the two.

JT swede as he glared at the Irish man across the table. "Ain't got no problem keepin' up ta ya since yer such a slow drinker fer an Irish men." JT smirked as Rock took a second to realize that the kid had made fun of him.

After Rock swore til he was blue in the face, he challenged the kid to a race. Who could finish off their bottle, which both were right about half full, would win.

Rock yelled, "Go!" Then both males threw their heads back trying to drink as much whiskey as they could in one go. Both leaning back to let gravity help get the booze to the bellies faster, but neither realize that the chairs they were sitting in were rocking back til they tipped back and dumped the drunk men on the floor in a heap.

Laughing at the pair on the floor, Rafe turned to the new barkeep. "Looks like the boy are gonna be needin' a room. Ain't in no condition to be riding without falling off their horses." Turning to Joe, "Come on I got the boy, you get the Irish one."

The older cowboy got up to collect his burden from the floor. "Come on kid time to sleep it off." Helping the young brunette off the floor and started up the stairs not waiting for the gray haired man, who was trying to get the Irishmen to stand on his own.

Rafe shook his head. 'Gonna be one hell of a morning tomorrow.' he thought.


After Rafe and Joe left the two on the one bed in the room, Rock scooted closer to the warm body next. Humming the older male let his hands wonder over the kids back sliding around the front to pull the kid closer. Pressing his front the brunette's back. JT pushed back into the hold feeling something hard pushing against his backside. Rolling over to straddle Rock's hips, JT leaned down catching the older man in deep kiss.

Maybe if they had been less drunk things would have gone very differently but as it was nothing after that would ever be the same again...

Next morning...

Rock shrived as a draft blew across his naked flesh. Moaning as the pain from his hangover made its self known. Forcing the bile back down as he sat up to take in his surroundings. After breathing in a lung full of air did Rock realize that he wasn't alone in the bed. Smiling thinking one of the saloon girls had paid a night visit. Without opening his eyes yet the Irishmen ran his hand down the naked back.

'Huh?' he thought. She had a lot of muscles. Running his hand around to her front he quickly drew his hand back as if he'd been burned. Wiping his head around he stared wide eye at the bare sleeping form next to him. 'She's JT!?'

Trying to get out of the bed as fast as he could, Rock fall hard on the hardwood floor by the bed. The loud thud woke JT from his peacefully slumber.

"What?! What's going on?! Ohh... damn. Why does everything hurt?" Rock poked his head up to see JT holding his head in his hands trying to block out the pain from his skull.

"J-JT?" Rock's voice broke as he spoke. Confusion and dread clear in his voice. JT turned to look at the Irishmen, eyes wide. "R-Ro-Rock? What.." JT finally realized that he wasn't wearing any clothes and from what he could see neither was Rock. Shifting the younger cowboy felt pain flare up from the bottom of his spine.

The awkward silence that filled the room was deafening. Rock finally looked away from the kid, looking for his pants. JT looked down at his lap feeling shame well up in his chest. Picking at the blanket he asked in a meek voice, "So what happens now?"

Rock pulled up his pants, grabbing his shirt he glanced at the brunette out of the corner of eye. "Well, lad, I don't know. We could just forget this happened." He didn't even look at JT as he said that.

JT was happy that Rock wasn't looking at him. He tried to quietly shallow the sob that threatened to escape. Rock sounded like he'd really rather be anywhere that wasn't near him at all.

"Y-Yeah we could do th-that. Uh, leave so I can get dr-dressed." JT said never lifted his head in case Rock happened to turn and see the tears filling the younger mans eyes.

"Sure, lad." Rock didn't even glance back as he left. "I'll be downstairs when yer ready." With that the door shut with a soft click.

When JT was finally alone he let the tears fall with restraint. His first time with anyone and he didn't even it at all! 'Hell I could live with that if the person hadn't been Rock.'he thought bitterlly to himself.

'No,' he thought, 'it'd be perfect if it was Rock. I just wish he'd wouldn't 've just left.'

He'd known since he met the Irishmen back on that ship that the man was the one for him. It wasn't love at first sight or anything, but it was damn near close. Those couple months when Rock went off to find his wealth was the hardest on the young cowboy. He wanted to show Rock his love, but he was afraid that his feeling wouldn't be returned.

'Looks like I was right. He hates me now.'he thought. Forcing himself to get up and get dress so Rock wouldn't just leave him behind. JT used his shirt to clean his face off so it didn't look like he'd just cried his heart out.

Walking hurt more then getting dressed and riding would be hell, but JT wanted nothing more then to get back to the ranch where he could just try to forget.

Three months later...

JT wiped the bile off his mouth with the back of his hand. 'God, two weeks of nonstop throwing up can't be good.'

The first month back after that night had been hard on both men. Trying to not let anything show that something had happened, but Rafe could see. It's a gift. He tried asking both about what happened but neither said anything. But then it was like it was before. JT working hard on the horses and home work and cooking. Rock telling bad Irish jokes and tending to the garden and helping cleaning up the place.

The two weeks ago JT started wanting strange things to eat. No body knew why, he just said it's what he wanted and still trying to show how much he means to them so they let him eat his steak with peanut butter on it.

What no one knew was that JT was getting sick almost every morning some smells that used to calm him down were now making him sick.

The young cowboy walked out from behind the the stabbles only to walk right into Rock and the town doctor.

"What's going on?" JT asked, looking behind the almost sad look on Rock's face and the doctor, "Is someone hurt?" JT now was worring that something happened to Joe or heaven forbid Rafe.

"No, lad. Everyone's fine." Rock smiled at JT, calming the kid. "Well eveyone, but you." JT stared at Rock like he lost his mind. "I've seen ye back back here fer the last week puking yer guts out and everyone is worried 'bout ye."

JT didn't know what to say to that. Rock noticed that he was sick? He had thought no one had noticed. A spark of hope filled his heart. Maybe Rock really did have feelings for him? Maybe there was still a chance for the young cowboy to have a happy ending with the Irishman he loved. JT smiled and nodded.


The doctor left the younger man in the room to take everything he told him in and get redressed.

"Brendan Mullaney?" The doctor called.

"Aye?" the doctor walked over to the table where everyone was sitting. "Well, how is he?" Rock asked.

"Well, he'll be just fine. Just no liquor or heavy lifting for the next couple months." he explained. Ann looked confused. "Months? What's worng with him?"

The doctor smiled. "Well I believe a congratulation is in order for the couple. JT's pregnant. Your gonna be a father, Mr. Mullaney."

Everyone at the table turned and looked at Rock. The Irish cowboy had turned a sickly shade of white. "Wha?"

Rafe glared at the sick looking cowboy. "Rock. What the hell did ya do to that boy?" he all but growled out. Ann and Joe were in shock at the news.

Rock turned to Rafe, eyes wide with fear. "I-I-I...I mean...we d-didn't.. I need some air." Rock all but ran outta the cottage.

Ann got up and thanked the doctor then went to check on JT when they heard the sound of a horse in full gallop racing across the trail towards the town.

Four months later...

JT stared out the window next to the bed he was sitting on. Placing a hand on his expanded belly. There wasn't a single doubt now that was a tiny life inside him.

The young brunette sigh for what felt like the hundredth time that day. Four months. It'd been four months and still no one had heard anything from Rock. JT hated the doc for telling Rock and everyone without him there or letting him do it!

The cowboy had been upset about finding out he was gonna have and baby then he heard someone leaving only to have Ann come in a minute later that it was Rock leaving and no one knowing if he was coming back. After that JT barely ate or slept. He just wanted Rock back. Ann was the one to end his plan of not eating. She was surprisingly strong when she needed to be and force feed him some soup after a failed a temp by Rafe. Afterwards JT broke down and told Ann everything. What happened that night - the parts he remembered- how he felt about the Irish cowboy.

Ann had been understanding. Rafe on the other hand didn't try to figure out what how it happened. In his mind Rock had gotten his little boy knocked up and then took off. He really tried not to show JT how pissed he'd been at the Irishman. But JT was the closest thing to a son he had and Rock had hurt him and no one, not even someone Rafe had thought to be a friend, could get away with hurt his boy.

What upset JT even more was after the doctor left and Ann had gotten him eating again, Rafe had banned the youngest cowboy from helping out around the ranch. Even though it was very difficult for the two oldest men neither wanted the boy to hurt himself or the baby.

It was nice to just sit back with Ann and not have to work his butt off every day from dawn to dusk. But the downside was making Rafe, the man who pretty much help rise him, do all his work. And without anything for him to consecrate on, all he thought about was Rock.

JT missed the Irish bastard so much it hurt. Ann told him that's what it feels like when your other half is gone. But that didn't make it hurt any less. He just wanted Rock there with him even if it was just as his friend. He wanted him there for the baby even if it was just as "Uncle Rock" and not Daddy or whatever. He just wanted Rock back.

"Ya know if ya keep sighing like that yer gonna make people think yer a woman." Joe tried to joke as he came into the room.

JT glared and stuck his tongue out at the older man. He knew he was being childish, but he couldn't help it! His mood swings were all over the place and scaring everyone. One second he'd be okay, almost happy and the next he was crying for no reason. It scared Rafe and Joe more then once, but Ann told them it was fine and stop being children. Even with that, it didn't help when at one point JT asked Rafe if he thought he was fat and not pretty anymore. The older man nearly bit off his tongue, before he could even try to answer JT had started crying and yelling that he was ugly, fat, and no one cared about him anymore. Luckily Ann had come in and got JT to calm down enough to stop crying. But Ann still scolded Rafe for making the poor kid cry like that. The older man still didn't know what he did nor how to avoid doing it again.

Before JT could say anything to Joe, Rafe and Ann come into the house arguing.

"I just think its not a good idea, Ann. What if something happens? I couldn't live with that if something happen'd to ya." Rafe pleaded.

"Nothing will happen Rafe. I'll be with a group of men from town and with a gun of my own. Nothing will happen to me. And you know that this needs to be done and your needed here more then I am." Ann replied.

"What'd goin' on?" JT asked coming into the front room with Joe coming in behind him. Ann turned to the pair before pulling out a chair for JT to sit down.

"There's someone up at Fort Laramie that wants to make a deal with us fer the oil here and Ann thinks its a greatidea fer her to go up there to make the deal herself." Rafe explained, his voice clearly showing how much he liked the idea.

"Rafe," Ann glared at Rafe as she crossing her arms. "This is still my land. Therefore, it mychoice to make deals for whatever is here. And you need to be here. Not just to take care of the ranch, but JT as well. He's close to the end of his pregnancy and he needs you here more then me now." the blond-haired women finished with a tone that almost daring the older man to say anything right then.

JT watched as Rafe tried to think of something, anything, to say to get Ann to stay. After a minute of silence though, Rafe dropped his head with a sigh of defeat, nodding to the only woman of the house.

Ann smiled to herself. "Good. Now JT," she turned to face the now slightly nervous cowboy. "The baby should be here in two weeks or so. The doctor is gonna come out here tomorrow to make sure everything is okay then his leaving town for the next week and should be back a day or two after I get back, okay?"

JT nodded, "Yes, ma'am." Looking down at his stomach, he placed a hand on it feeling the baby kicking again.

"He's kicking again." JT said quietly. He didn't even realized he said anything til Rafe was right there next him with his hand on the boy's stomach next to his.

"He's a fighter, that's fer sure. Takes after his mama." Rafe joked.

JT laughed, playfully smacking Rafe's hand. He remembered the first time the baby had kicked. It startled the young brunette so much that he thought he was having the baby right then and there. Ann had laughed at all three males, saying she wished that they could have seen their faces. After that she told them that it was just the baby kicking in the womb.

It still felt weird to have something moving inside of him.

Ann came over and put her hand on JT's belly. "Its gonna be a girl." her voice sounded so sure.

JT looked up at the woman. "How'd ya figure that? He's kicking so much its gotta be a boy."

Ann shook her head. "No, Taralee kicked up a storm for me. Girl's gonna be like you though. Trust me." she finished smiling at JT.

The younger man didn't know what to say to that. Ann just kept smiling then asked if he'd help her pack for her trip.

JT nodded, standing up from his spot on his bed, he followed the blonde to her's and Rafe's bedroom where it looked like someone had packed almost everything in it in one medium size bag.

JT looked at the already packed bag in confusion. "Um, Ann? Why'd ya ask me ta help if'n yer already packed?"

Ann closed the door before making her way to sit on the bed. "Because JT, I wanted to talk with you without Joe or Rafe just walking in at any moment. I want to ask you something that's a very sore subject." she explained.

The young cowboy paled slightly. Worrying what she was going to ask. "Okay."

"Did you love him, JT?" Ann asked in a very calm voice.

"Wha- NO! I don't love Rock, Ann! How could ya even ask that?!" JT hissed out at the woman, who sat calmly on her bed with kind warm eyes that never left the young man's face.

"I never said Rock, JT. And I asked because I'm not blind or stupid. I've seen you looking out that window everyday, eating only enough to feed yourself and the baby, and never being really happy. You slap on a fake smile for everyone but we all see that your hurting JT. And I want to know if you love him." Ann said.

JT's knees started to buckle and his eyes start to fill with tears. JT fell into the bed next to Ann and starting sobbing into the woman''s lap. "I-I really lo-love him, Ann...*sniff*... He was n-nice to me and ma-made me feel like on-one of a kind... A-And after that night at the sal- saloon I thought h-he hated me. Why, Ann? Why does God hate me that no one loves me?!" JT sobbed out.

Ann just petted his head through-out it all, humming softly to calm JT down. "Hun, now you listen to me. We all love you and I don't want you to ever think differently, got it? And God gave you that child so even if Rock doesn't come back and beg forgiveness from you then you still have a piece of him to love. Do you understand JT?"

The young man nodded, rubbing his wet nose on Ann's skirt. The blonde smiled. "Good. Now I really have to finish getting ready to go to Fort Laramiein the morning so, up."

JT smiled at Ann. Cheeks wet with tears he leaned in and kiss the woman on the cheek. "Thanks, ma." he whispered.

Three days later at Fort Laramie...

Ann smiled as she went inside the saloon. The deal would be great for the ranch. They would get enough money to take care of JT and the baby comfortably with this. Maybe even Rafe could relax a little finally. No one thought about how much JT and Rock did around the ranch and house until either of them weren't there to do the work.

Looking around the room she gasped as she spotted a face she thought she'd never see again.

Rock really hadn't changed much in the last four months. His eyes were bloodshot like he'd been drinking too much and sleeping to little. He slouched over his drink looking like he'd lost the will to live with himself.

Ann clenched her fists tightly. JT was heartbroken over this manand here he was drowning his self in whiskey. Walking angrily over to the Irishman she punch him right in the jaw.

Rock hit the ground with a solid thud. "What the hell?!" he roared as he stumbled to his feet ready to fight whoever had punch him for no reason. What he wasn't ready for was to see Ann standing there looking like she was about to skin him alive.

"Ann? What in the hell are ye doin' here? Is everything okay?" He wanted to ask about JT, but something told him that it was not a wise subject to bring up just yet.

Pushing the pain in her hand from her mind, Ann glared hotly at the older man. "Brendan Mullaney! How dare you! You left that poor boy to go though something he was afraid of by himself! How could you do that to JT! He loves you and you ran away when he needed you the most! If anything you should have stay with him as his friend!" Ann didn't screaming things at the flustered man as she reach up and grabbed him by the ear, as a mother would to a misbehaving child, and dragged him out of the saloon and back to the room where she was staying. Once they were in the room Ann let go of Rock only to pull him into a tight hug.

Rock was lost. He thought Ann was madder then a rattle snake that got it's tail step on for leaving. To be truthful, he was pretty mad at himself for leaving. But shame made him stay away. "A-Ann? I thought ye were mad at me?"

The blonde pushed the Irishman away. "Oh, I'm furious with you! But I'm just glad to see you. Now your going to tell me why the hell you left."

Rock sighed, sitting on the edge of the bed. " I really don't know why I left, Ann. I just needed a minute to think and then I was half way here. I was afraid if I went back JT wouldn't even want me near him. And I don't wanna think 'bout Rafe." He finished lamely, letting he head hang.

Ann felt bad for Rock. He was worrying about JT even though he had left. "Rock, you know that JT will forgive you if you really mean it. His got a big heart and cares about you a lot. Heavens know why." Ann smiled at the man.

"Why would he, Ann? I can't even forgive meself for leaving him and the baby. I want to be there for them. I just didn't know how much I needed to be near the lad before now," Rock looked up at Ann. "I thought when I left after we got off that damned boat that I came back just for Charlie, but it didn't feel right. I missed him too much to stay away. I-I... I love him, Ann." Rock felt a weight lift finally telling someone.

Ann smiled softly at the Irishman. "Rock, your going to have to tell him that. And if you love him your going to have to come back with me to Crazy Woman and face whatever may come," she paused, "and Rafe.

Rock wanted to argue, but stopped himself. 'This maybe me only chance to make it up to JT' he thought. "Okay Ann. I'll go back." Rock tried to smile, but it came out looking pained.


Four Days Later at Crazy Woman Ranch...

Rafe stood in the kitchen holding a coffee cup. JT had been sleeping most of the day now, so it was up the older cowboy to make breakfast. Which was coffee and that was it so far. Joe may fun of JT's cooking, but at least it was something. Rafe sighed. 'It's almost over.'he thought. Then out at least the baby will keep JT from thinking about Rock.

Rafe always liked the Irishmen even though he told bad jokes. He made JT smile so it made it bearable. But now, if he saw the other man he was gonna shoot him. No one makes the young cowboy cry and gets away with it.

Rafe was jolted from his thoughts by a chocked off yell. "JT!" he yelled, pulling his gun from his holster. Running to the room he stopped at the threshold with Joe coming up behind him.

JT was standing by the window clucking his over grown belly. Beneath him was a large puddle of what looked like water.

"JT?" Rafe was afraid to what happening. He wasn't do til a week or two and Ann and the doctor weren't here.

JT looked up at the two older men. He looked terrified. "Rafe? Joe? Wha.." he didn't know what to ask.

Surprisingly, it was Joe who was the first to snap outta the trance that they'd fallen into. "Rafe, move," the gray haired man moved around the shell shocked cowboy. "Okay pup, yer gonna wanna lay back on that bed. It's time, no matter how much we all wish it wasn't." JT just nodded and with the oldest man's help he made his way back to the bed and laid down.

Rafe finally stepped over the threshold. He sat on the bed next to the young cowboy. Grabbing JT's hand and squeezes a bit. "It's gonna be okay JT. Ann's gonna be on her way here. She's only a couple hours away and you can do this. And me and Joe are gonna help as much as we can." he smiled at the kid hoping to calm him down a bit.

JT nodded, smiling a little back the who raised him squeezing his hand back. "Thanks Rafe. Just kinda nervous, ya know? I mean, I'm gonna be having a baby. And the only one here who's had'a kid ain't here." He turned and looked out the window at the bright cloudless sky. 'And the daddy ain't even here fer the birth'he thought sadly.

A couple of hours later...

"ARG! OW! GODDAMMIT!" JT dropped back on the bed panting. The contraction were only a couple minutes apart now. They all knew that meant the baby was almost here and Ann still wasn't back yet. Rafe was really starting to get worried. Not only for JT, but for Ann. She was supposed to be back by now.

"Yer doin' good kid. 'Member ta breathe through the pain." Joe said as he wiped the kid's forehead with a cloth. "Yer almost done with this and then yer gonna have a kid to spoil rotten." JT huffed out a small laugh. The brunette shut his eyes and just tried to catch his breath.

Rafe was holding the kid's left hand with both of his. Praying to God that everything was gonna be alright.

Rafe jerked his head up for a minute before he heard the sound he'd been waiting for. Hoof beats.

"Okay JT, just wait here for a minute. Ann's back, gonna go get her, okay?" JT just nodded feeling another contraction about to start.

Rafe nodded to Joe before running out of the room and out to the pouch. God, Ann was like an angel at that moment. Rafe finally relaxed a little, until he spotted a second rider.

For the last few miles of their journey Rock had been fight the between turning around and getting very far from Crazy Woman and speeding up to get to JT to hold him and never let him or the baby go.

But the second he spotted Rafe on the pouch Rock really wanted to run, but one look from Ann he knew that he would never be able to so much be in the same town as his family again if he ran again.

Rock swallowed hard. 'God, I hope I make it past the front door.'he prayed as Rafe was already reaching for his gun on his hip holster.

"Rafe!" Ann called out. She was smiling, glad to see the older man again, but the look on his face she knew there was going to be trouble.

Once the riders were at the pouch Ann jumped off her horse and ran up to Rafe to hug the cowboy.

"Ann, why is he back? Rafe asked, never taking his eyes off the Irishman who wouldn't look him in the eye.

Ann looked up at Rafe. "Rafe, his here because he's sorry for what he did and because this is where his family is."

Before Rafe could say anything they heard JT cry out in pain from inside the house. Ann looked sharply at Rafe. He told her that JT went into labor a couple of hours ago. She just nodded before heading into the house with one backward glance at Rock who looked both horrified that JT was in pain and happy because the baby was coming.

Once Ann was in the house Rock get off his horse and was set on following her, but the sound of a colt cocking stopped him right quick.

"Don't even think that yer stepping into this house without either a bullet or an explanation." Rafe's voice was cold as ice and hard as stone.

Rock finally looked the older man in the eye. With a glare he said, "Rafe, ye can shoot at me later. Right now I need JT and that baby inside that house and if ye are set on me not goin' in then I'll just have to go right through ye or ye'll have ta shoot me dead." He was sick and tried of people telling him he couldn't see the two people he couldn't live without , including himself.

Rafe looked thoughtful for a second for a moment before he lowered his gun. Rock nodded, face still hard. He started to go into the cabin, but before he could get by Rafe a solid punch to the left side of his face, the same side Ann that had already clocked him one, Rock landed on the hard dirt with a loud cruse and hard thump.

The Irishman glared up at Rafe, who glared right back with an almost satisfied look in his eyes. "There. I can't say if JT will want ya ta stay and if he says get, you better get gone." Rafe finished holding out the same hand he'd just planted into Rock's jaw.

Rock looked distrusting at the hand for a moment before grabbing the offer and pulling himself up. Then Rafe's words stunk in. 'What if... what if JT don't want me here? What if he hates me now fer leaving?'Rock looked like he was gonna be sick.

"Rock?" Rafe asked, stepping back to avoid getting thrown up on. Rock shook himself outta his stupor.

"I'm okay. Let's go." Rock nodded to himself. 'I can do this. I'm gonna be there fer JT, even if he don't want me to.'

In the bedroom...

JT nearly broke a tooth grinding his teeth together in pain.

Finally the contraction faded. 'God, what's taking so long?'he thought, the baby should be out by now. He sure as hell wanted fer this to be over.

Breathing through the pain, JT looked to the door only to see the person he'd be waiting to see. "Ann, thank God yer here. Please get this baby outta me."

He stopped caring if it sounded like he was whining because, dammit, he was in to much pain to care.

Ann smiled sympathetically. JT looked like he was ready to either pull that baby out himself or pass out.

"Its okay, JT. Just breathe." she said, walking over to the end of the bed. Lifting the sheet off of the young man's legs. Ann looked where the baby was pushing it's way out of it's mother. "Okay, yer almost ready to really start pushing."

JT slumped down into the pillows. "Dammit. I just want this to be over already." he whined.

"Come on now, boy. It can't be all bad." Rafe said, walking into the room. JT was about to tell him just how badly it did hurt having a baby force it's way outta something so small, but it all died on his tongue when he saw the person behind Rafe.

"Rock..Y-Yer bac- Argh! Dammit!" Another contraction started before he could ask what was going on.

Rock didn't even think about moving. As soon as he heard the boy giving birth to his child cry out he was across the room grabbing one of JT's hands end started petting his head. "It's okay, love. Just breathe." Rock said gently.

JT cracked open an eye and stared at the other man. He was still pretty mad at him for leaving, but he did made it back for the birth of their child and it looks like someone already clocked him pretty good.

Rock looked down to where Ann sat on the small stool at the foot of the bed. "Is he ready to start pushing yet?"

The blonde woman looked up at the two. "Looks like we can start. Rafe, Joe. Go to the other room now. You don't really want to be in here." Ann smiled.

Rafe patted Rock on the shoulder. "Take care of 'em, ya hear?" He waited until the Irishman nodded before leaving. The older cowboy followed after wishing everyone in the room luck and blessed JT in Indian.

"Okay JT. Now, I know this is gonna hurt a lot, but that's what Rock's here for. Just grab his hand and remember to breathe through the pain. Got it?" The brunette nodded, taking a deep breath before baring down.

Rock cringed when JT started to clench his hand. But he knew better then to say anything, he just told JT to keep going and breathing.

The youngest couldn't believe how much it hurt. It was like being cut in half.

Rock was trying to comfort JT. It was hard because at the same time he was trying very hard not to tell the birthing mother that he was crushing the Irishman's hand. "Yer doin' great, love."

Rock stopped for a moment realizing that he kept calling JT 'love'. While it was true he love the young cowboy very much he still hadn't told him yet. Resting his forehead against JT's he started to tell him. "Listen JT.I love ye. I-I feel so stupid fer not tellin' ye when it mattered and running like a coward I-I love ye so much and-" The Irishmen stopped when JT opened his pained blue eyes and glared at him. Rock leaned back widened eyed as JT started yelling.

"Dammit, Rock! I get it, yer sorry and ya love me. Great! I love ya too and right now I'm havein' yer baby! So shut yer goddamn month and just tell me it's gonna be okay! And after this kid is outta me, then - and only then!- we'll talk about yer running! Got it?!" The Texan squeezed his hand to show his was serious.

Rock swallowed hard, wide light blue eyes filled with fright that the young man might just break his hand, nodded. "G-Got it, lad."

Ann smiled up at the two of them. "Well, now that your made up. JT, honey, I need a big push, they're almost here."

JT nodded. Pushing as hard as he could, he gripped the father's hand and started screaming.

Out on the pouch...

Rafe hated being so far from the kid when he was obliviously in a lot of pain and needed his father, but he wasn't about to argue with Ann over it. Though every time he heard JT cry out in pain he wished that he'd punched Rock harder. It was his fault that the kid was in that much pain.

Joe looked at the house when he heard the pup start yelling something at the Irishman. The older man chuckled. "Looks like the kid still got his backbone and putting the idiji in his place." he smiled towards the younger man.

Rafe nodded, not really listening to Joe, but to JT yelling.

Joe sighed. Rafe was very worried for the kid but he had Ann and Rock to help. Rafe just needed to calm down.

Rafe was so lost in his worry for his child that he didn't hear Joe walk up behind him until pain blossomed on the back of his head.

"Dammit Joe. What was that fer?" The brown haired man asked angrily, rubbing the sore spot on his head.

"Dammit Rafe, he maybe the youngest here and yer kid, but he's strong Rafe. Use those odd gifts of yers and pull yer head outta yer ass! He'll be more then fine once he's got that baby in his arms, okay?" Joe glared down the younger man.

Rafe stared in shock at the grey haired man. It had been a very long time since someone treated him like a child. Rafe stepped back and looked at the ground just as he was about to tell Joe that he understood two screams came from inside the house.

Joe and Rafe stared at each other before running into the house.

Back in the room minutes before...

"A-Ann I.. can't.." JT panted as he dropped back on the bed.

Rock looked worriedly at Ann before resting his forehead against JT's sweat covered one. "Come on, love. It's almost over. Just breathe a moment then one more big push and ye'll be a mother to a beautiful child," Rock smiled at JT as he felt him calm with his words. "And I'll be right there next to ye to rise our child into a good person just like their mama."

JT smiled weakly at the thought. He wanted to live with Rafe and Ann like they were his parents, with Joe as the uncle he never had, with Rock as his husband and father to his child, and he wanted to hold his child in his arms and shield them from the cruel truths of the world. He wanted that, he wanted a family like the one he never fully had til he met Rafe.

JT raised up in the bed slightly. "Okay, one more time." Ready himself for the last, and most likely the most painful, push.

The Irishman kissed JT on the forehead then the hand that still gripped him tightly. Looking at the only woman in the room he ready himself for the birth of his child.

"Okay JT. Now. Push!" Ann instructed.

JT drew a deep breath before bearing down. He gripped both the headboard and Rock's hand in a death grip. Rock nearly screamed when JT tighten his grip again. He could feel the bones in his hand grind together.

The moment the new baby freed itself into the world a loud snap was covered by the screams of the men in the room, nearly breaking the window with the combined volume followed by a thud of the body of the man who's hand was now broken.

It took almost 10 minutes before Rock was able to move off the floor and back to the edge of the bed where Ann set and wrapped his hand.

JT could barely move. The pain from giving birth flared every time he even thought of moving but mainly the new life in his arms was already sleeping against his chest and he didn't want to wake her.

'She's perfect.'he thought, looking loving down at the baby girl.

Ann said she was about 5 ½ lbs. She had a small tuff of strawberry blonde hair on her small head and large light blue eyes like her ma's.

"We still need to name her." Rock said gently. He was tired from riding here, getting punched, having to talk with every single person about his feelings, and from having his hand broken. But for this he'd wait til JT told him what he wanted.

The new mother looked up tiredly at the other two in the room. "If its okay with Ann, I really would love to call 'er Taralee... Taralee Charlie Langtson Mullaney." he said with a small smile.

Ann had tears in her eyes as she nodded before she took the small bundle and left the two men to talk out what was gonna happen now.

Two Hours Later...

Rafe hadn't been able to stop cooing over how perfect and beautiful Taralee was. She looked like her ma for sure, but he could see the Irish blood in her as well.

After Ann finally took the new baby away from Rafe to put her in her new crib that Joe and Rafe had made while she had been gone, the older man went to check on the new parents.

Poking his head in he stopped short and smiled. On the bed Rock was sitting up against the headboard with JT laying on his chest both sleeping with small smiles on their faces.