The Ponderosa

Title: Think of Me

Rating: PG-13

Author: Numb3rsfan

Disclaimer: Pax owns and operates The Ponderosa. No copywrite violation was intended and no profit has been made in the making of this story.

Feedback: Very much appreciated in all the fandoms I write in!

Summary: A sick Joseph Cartwright is not a good thing. After being gored by a bull just weeks before Christmas, Joe lies in his bed with his fever beginning to climb while his family is powerless to stop it.

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"But Pa!" Little Joe whined as he followed his father towards the fireplace.

Ben sighed as he stoked the fire and added more wood. He could understand why Joe was whining like this, heck he remembered when he had been Joe's age and his father had kept him cooped up when he had been sick.

"Joseph, we've been over this. You are to stay in bed until you're fever goes down." Ben said calmly.

"You're not makin' Adam or Hoss stay in!" Joe shot back.

"Neither of them are sick, now stop complaining and park your bottom in that bed!" Ben said as he pointed a finger towards the boy's bedroom.

With a dissipointed look on his face, Joe silently walked back to the room and flopped down on his bed.

Joseph knew his father meant well and was only worried about him, heck only yesterday had Adam or Hoss dared to let him out of their sights!

Course, it wasn't Joe's fault that he was in this situation!

Last week Joe had been riding back from school, when he accidentialy rode to close to the bull's pen.

The bull charged and got Joe's horse, Paint, so freaked out that he bucked Joe off and sent the boy into the bull's pen.

The bull, already angered, charged at Joe and ended up goring him in the arm and stomach before Adam managed to get to his brother.

After dragging Joe out of the pen, Adam had looked at the injuries while he yelled for Hoss, Ben and Hop Sing.

All three had come running out to Adam. Hoss came from the barn while Ben and Hop Sing came running from the house.

"Oh my, what happened son?" Ben asked as he had knelt down by Adam's side and took a good look at his youngest son who was barely concious in Adam's arms.

Adam, with tears running down his face relayed what he had seen to his father.

Hop Sing nearly ripped Joe's limp form out of Adam's grasp in his attempt to care for the injuried boy.

Adam however, would not let Joe go, instead he just rose to his feet and carried Joseph in to his father's bed, since he knew that was were Ben would want Joe to be.

Hop Sing ran and got a small pale of water and a few rags which he soaked in the water.

It took several heart wrenching moments to clean Joe's wounds but when it was over, Hoss couldn't tell who was hurt the most.

Joe, who had to endure all of that pain, Adam who had watched as Joe had gotten attacked, or Ben Cartwright.

Whenever either of his son's recieved an injury, he would always beat himself up, thinking that it was his fault that they were in the situation.

The week passed slowly for the Cartwright family. Joseph, who had shown signs of improvement, had developed a high fever, which Adam estimated to be at least 104 to 105 degrees!

Ben had stayed by Joe's side every minute, barely taking the time to eat, sleep or do his fair share to keep the Ponderosa going.

Adam and Hoss had understood and had done their father, and Joe's work without complaint.

Finally, on the fifth day, Joe's fever had gone down to 101, but wouldn't drop any farther.

Hop Sing had made the remark that Joe's fever was a lot like him..stubborn till' the last!

Ben Cartwright was brought out of his musings when the front door opened to reveal Hoss and Adam, both shaking from the cold, enter the house and go straight to the fireplace.

"Did you two get all of your chores done?" Ben asked.

"Yes Pa." Adam and Hoss chorused as they rubbed their hands together near the burning flame.

"That wind is mighty fierce out there, Pa. I wouldn't rec...rec.."Hoss paused as he tried to think of the word.

"Recommend?" Adam asked through chattering teeth.

Hoss nodded at his brother and said, "Recommend goin' into town tomorr'a."

"We need the supplies Hoss." Ben said as he handed his two boy's a cup of coffee.

The boy's took the cups and drank their fill of the liquid.

"How's Little Joe?" Adam asked.

"His fever's still up." Ben said to his sons.

Adam nodded his head at the news as he glanced to the closed bedroom door.

"We need to make sure he has that extra quilt tonight Pa, because it's supposed to get pretty cold tonight." Adam said.

"Alright, thanks for the warning son." Ben said with a smile on his face.

Behind them, Hop Sing had just finished placing the last of the evening's meal on the table.

"Dinner ready!" He announced.

"Alright, I'll go get Little Joe." Adam said as he made the short distance to the bunkroom and opened the door.

The first thing Adam saw was Little Joe, on his bed, apparently asleep.

But, when Adam walked closer to his little brother, he could see that Joe was very much awake and shivering vehemently.

Placing his cool hand to Joe's head, he could feel the heat radiating off of his younger brother.

"PA! JOE'S FEVER'S RISING!" Adam yelled to the rest of his family.

Within minutes, the rest of the Cartwright clan was in the room.

Ben sat down next to his son and placed his own hand to Joe's head.

Joe moaned in obvious pain as he weakly looked at his pa.

"Joseph, are you alright son?" Ben asked.

"It hurt's." Joe mumbled as waves of pain swept through him.

"What hurts? Your stomach, arm?" Ben asked.

Joe didn't answer. He couldn't.

Everyone watched as the tears trickled down Joe's face and landed on Ben's hand.

Ben was the first to see Joe's eyes start to roll back.

"Stay with me son!" Ben pleaded, but Joe didn't hear him and within seconds he passed out.

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A/N: This is my first attempt at a Ponderosa fic, so please be kind.

I have only watched the show once since it was cancelled, so I'm a little rusty with the charactors.