Hello everyone, I'm Paris. This is my second story for fanfic, but I've written lots of others for other sites. I had writers block, so i figured writin a little oneshot might help. And here's the result!

Disclaimer: I only own the plot, nuthin' more, nuthin' less.

O n e S h o t// T h e B e s t W a y

"Wake up, Darby. C'mon, keiki, we've got trouble."

I groaned and rolled over, trying to bury down in my sleeping bag.

"Keiki,we got ourselves a problem. So wake up and help Kit calm down that filly of yours 'fore she hurts herself, yeah?"

That snapped me awake. Normally a shadowy shape leaning over my bed would scare me, but the voice assured me it was just Jonah who was gently skaking my shoulder. Hadn't he woken me up just two weeks ago, when Stonerow was trying to steal Hoku? Oh well, it hardly mattered now.

"Hoku! Is she alright? What's happening?" I demanded, rubbing the sleep from my eyes.

"Yeah, she's fine, for now. I just needed to get you up. The horses are acting up. There's something out there."

So why is he waking me up? A happy shiver went through me as I realized Jonah thought me ready to be a part of all the action on the ranch.

"Kit's the one who got me up, and Kimo was campin' out there already, yeah? Well, we don't know where Cade is. Wadn't in 'is bed, and his boots are gone. Joker's gone too. Go find him. Take Navigator if you have to, yeah?" He waited until I nodded before he walked out the room.

I threw the covers off and fumbled around, trading my pajama shorts and t-shirt for jeans and a sweatshirt. I half ran down the stairs, still pulling the sweatshirt over my head, remembering an earlier conversation with Megan. She'd stormed toward the stall where I'd been grooming Navigator, dust flying up as she flounced over to me.

"What's up?" I asked, concerned.

"I was wrong! I don't like him, not like that, and I never will again!"

"Who?" I asked, bewildered. "Cade?"

"Yes, Cade!!! He doesn't understand me, and I sure as heck don't understand him! Why I thought that I liked him, I'll never know! No more than a friend! That's all he ever was, and all he'll ever be to me! Stupid, stupid crushes! Well, this one's over!" And with that, she turned and stormed up the stairs to her and Aunty Cathy's apartment. The slamming door echoed, and the horses in the field shied as I flinched.

Oh, well, it doesn't matter right now, I thought as I rushed out the door, shoving my foot into my boot.

I tripped as I was running down the porch steps, and the ground rushed toward my face. I braced myself. Then a strong hand caught my shoulder and pulled me up. I looked up gratefully into Kimo's face, barely visible in the almost nonexistant moonlight

"Thanks." I gasped, steadying myself against his arm.

"No problem, keiki. Hey, you seen Kit anywhere? He was-" Whatever Kimo was saying Kit was supposed to be doing was cut short as the ex-bronc rider became visible through the pitch black dark surrounding the ranch, lightened only by a cloudy moon, running toward the barn and Jonah.

"Speak 'a the devil," Kimo murmured before jogging over to Jonah, me right on his heels.

"Boars!" Kit gasped at us, putting his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath. His Shoeshone necklace dangling hypnotically in the slight breeze. "Three of 'em. At least. Horses goin' beserk." The message was clear, although breathless. Jonah snapped into action, as did Kimo. Oh Lord, Boars! I thought, fear running down my spine. Cade doesn't know! He's out there! My brain screamed.

Kimo ran back to the bunkhouse to get his rifle. Jonah, turned toward the apartment, yelling over his shoulder, "Be careful!" But I was already running.

I sprinted toward the pasture for Navigator.

"No!" Kit yelled at me. I skidded to a halt.

"But Cade-"

He cut me off, "Navigator's saddled up over there!" He pointed at the entrance to the barn, then turned and started off to where ever he was going.

I ran over and vaulted up onto Navigator's back.

"Ready boy?" I whispered in his ear. He shifted uneasily, ears pricked toward some distant sound, eyes staring into the darkness. A shiver of fear caught me again.

"Wait!" Jonah's voice pierced the night air just as I was about to urge Navigator forward.

I turned to Jonah's voice, panicking. Why do they keep stopping me?! Cade's out there!

"But Cade! I've got to get Cade!"

"I know. Be careful, Granddaughter," he said in a husky voice. Then he shocked me. He handed me a sheathed knife. I looked at him openmouthed. "I...I..."

"Protect yourself." And he jogged of towards Kimo.

I looked at the knife in disbelief for a second, then squeezed Navigator with my knees. We started off into the forest.

--ยค--

Every shadow became a wild animal as I looked warily around in the forest. Why didn't I bring a flashlight? I though as Navigator and I continued steadily through the plants.

Ten minutes passed, my fear hightening with each second. "I know where he is!" I exclaimed suddenly to Navigator. Navigator's ears twitched, as if telling me to hurry up and get there, then. Jonah would scoff at my interpretation of the gelding actions. "C'mon, boy. Just a bit farther."

I was headed toward a little clearing, with a great big fallen tree on the boarder. It was beautiful, surrounded by exotic Hawaiin plants and trees with drooping leaves. Cade had pointed it out to me once. He'd said that that was where he'd first met Jonah. I didn't know the full story, of course. Cade was gifted with horses, not words. But I knew Cade rode out here to think sometimes. I'd seen Joker's hoofprints.

Navigator steered us safely towards the clearing, once he knew where we were going. We found the edge of the clearing.

"Cade! Cade, are you here? Cade!"

My voice echoed eerily back to me, but nothing more. I'd been determined to find Cade safely, a determination that was stronger than anything I'd felt before. It and the overwhelming fear--fear for him-- confused me. This was more than the fact that I cared for him as a friend. Now that I wasn't sure he was there, panick consumed me.

"CADE!!!"I yelled frantically. Steady Navigator didn't even shy at the sound.

"Darby?" He stepped into veiw. His surprise was evident on his face. He walked toward us a little.

"Cade! You're alright!" relief flooded me as I got off of Navigator. Then self-ridicule. I felt the blood rush to my face. I was glad it was too dark to course he's okay, Darby, he can take care of himself, I scolded myself. But I couldn't help it.

"Of course I'm alright. What're you talkin about? What's wrong?" He started sounding concerned.

"Wild boars. It's caos. I thought...I wasn't sure...Jonah sent me...I was worried..."

"Boars? We gotta get back!" He hurried back to Joker, who looked as if he'd been dosing fitfull by the fallen tree, only to be awakened by my shouting, and was about to jump on when he paused.

"What's that?"

I stopped and listened. Snapping branches, and then pig-like snorting.

"Oh Lord," he swore under his breath, turning around, trying to pinpoint the sound. Navigator and Joker shifted and snorted in fear.

Then I saw it.

The snout and tusks pushed through the dense plants. The boar emerged, turning towards Cade. It pushed dirt back with its hoof, about to charge. Cade froze. That wild fear errupted in me again.

"No!" I screamed. I fumbled for the knife, yanking it out of the leather sheath. I don't know how to use a knife! I thought wildly.

Then the bull started towards Cade, and I stopped thinking. I lept on the boar with a jump that would've amazed anyone who'd ever seen me in gym. The wild thing was distracted and veared away from Cade, but there was just one problem: I was still holding on. It started bucking and turning in an attempt to throw me. Okay, just like Hoku, i tried to reassure myself. Just don't let go. And then I lost my grip and was slung onto the ground, the knife flying from my grasp, a sharp pain shooting up my ankle. Nope, nothing like Hoku. The boar stood over me. It's eyes glinted, and it breathed evily in my face. This is it, I'm about to be a shishkabob, I told myself.

"Darby!" I heard Cade, and Kimo, yell. Kimo? Where'd he come from? Then a startled noise came from the boar, followed by a squeal full of pain. It started trying to attack whatever was behind it, in the process landing a cloven foot on my chest. I cried out in pain and the smell of blood met my nostrils. Then the weight was gone as the boar was pulled off of me.

Cade stood, looking at the dying boar, my knife dripping blood in his hand. He dropped to his knees next to me.

"Darby, are you alright?" He sounded panicky, as I'd been earlier. I started to nod, but the motion hurt. "Uh...no." My voice was raspy.

"What's wrong?" Cade demanded, for once letting his emotions show on his face. He was worried as all give out, and something else...

"Cade!" Kimo interrupted urgently, appearing beside us with a rifle in hand. I painfully pulled myself into a sitting position. Kimo looked pointedly at the boar. I took the hint. So did Cade.

"C'mon, I'll get you back home." Cade said, and then startled me by picking me up and cradling me to his chest with a gentleness that I'd never thought the blond paniolo capable of.

"How hurt are you?" He asked, debating whether or not to ride double or let me ride Navigator. I was still held to his chest.

My raspy voice embaressed me as I answered, " He...er, it....stepped on my chest." Now I'll have a scar to match yours, I thought. He looked down at my shirt, and paled so much that I noticed it even it the pale light. "Good God..."

"What?" I looked down, and gasped as I saw the blood seeping through my shirt. That's when I actually realized how much pain I was in, now that the intitial shock had worn off.

"Anything else?"He asked shakily as he set me on Joker and climbed on in front of me, hitting my ankle in the process. I screeched in pain, and he whirled around in alarm to face me.

"That ankle you just hit."

"Oh, God, sorry!" His chocolate brown eyes held so much guilt just from hitting my ankle that I immediately regretted saying anything. Well, that's stupid! Your ankle is probably fractured,Darby, you have every right to say so, not to mention the fact that it was him who asked in the first place. I mentally scorned myself. But those beautiful, melted chocolate eyes still made me wish i hadn't said anything. I realized that Cade was uncharecteristicly showing his emotions much more clearly than usual. My stomach fluttered in pleasure, for some ungodly reason.

He carefully rode over and grabbed Navigator's reins. Then, with one last look at the boar, still slightly alive, and angry, we rode off. The sound of Kimo's echoing gunshot followed us home.

xoxoxoxox

After being fussed over for a few days by Aunty Cathy and, surprisingly, Jonah, I was really ready to go outside. Even my books failed to entertain me now. But seeing as I couldn't walk and I wasn't supposed to move much until the wound on my chest was healed, that was virtually impossible. I hadn't talked to Cade since the accident, but i guessed he was coming in when i was sleeping, because several times I'd awaked just in time to see a tell-tale vaquero hat dissapearing through the door. I was pleased about this, incredibly so, for some reason my logic brain couldn't fathom.

I laid back on my comfy little couch in the living room, where i'd been moved to for the day, reflecting on my new....feelings for Cade. Why was it that the sound of his name sent pleasent shivers down my spine, and when it was uttered by yours truly, rolled off my tongue like honey? And my panic that night, it had been beyond being worried for a human life. Heck, it had surpassed even worrying for a friend's life. I'd been absolutely frantic, and I'd felt as if it would cause me physical pain if he wasn't okay. Well, it'd caused me physical pain anyway, but that's not really the point. And that night, I remebered having thought of his eyes as beautiful, melted chocolate. What was up with all this? I thought and thought, fishing for an answer, when my brain came up with one on its own accord.

You love him.

I froze.

No I don't. I can't!

You can, and you do. You've fallen in love with him.

But how? I...I....No!

How should I know? I'm you. I just figured it out before the other part of your brain. You love him, and you're now talking to yourself. So shutup.

And now I was actually arguing with myself. Great. Love really does mess with a person's mind. Not that I'm admitting that I'm in love, cause I'm not. I sighed. Who was I kidding? I was in love with Cade. Strong, silent, gorgeus Cade. Great. I should be happy! I thought to myself. But I wasn't. Because Cade couldn't ever love me back. No, I was just the bookworm who made good grades and supposed horse charmer who could never be beautiful like her mom, while he was the real horse charmer who was goodlooking effortlessly.

"How's that ankle?"

I jumped a foot in the air, which is hard do do when you're laying down. The subject of my dismally confused thoughts was leaning in the doorway, watching me. He was always so silent, it seemed like he was purposefully trying to sneak up on you. Which, knowing Cade, he might of been. My heart started racing.

"God, do you have to do that?!" I gasped, trying not to let it show that anything was different between us. He smirked and moved closer to the couch, his boots thumping on the hardwood floor.

"Yep," he replied in his soft voice. "Don't avoid my question, Darby."

I sighed again. "Fine. Honestly? It hurts like hell and I'm ready to get out of this house!" His brown eyes widened as I spoke, surprised that I'd cussed. Honestly, I was surprised too, but I guess I was getting extremely fed up. He eased himself into the arm chair beside the couch. He clased his hands together, leaned his forearms on his knees, and studied me. I felt my cheeks flush under his gaze. After what seemed like an eternity, he broke the silence.

"Why?" he asked, his voice softer than usual.

The question startled me. "Why what?"

He sighed in seemingly exasperation, but I got the feeling it wasn't directed at me. "Why did you save me?" Did he really just ask that?

" Jonah sent me to get you. Besides, you're annoying, Cade, but not that annoying." I joked, trying to lighten the suddenly tense atmosphere. It didn't work. He just looked at me, making me shiver under his intense gaze, and ignored the last part of my statement.

"Yeah, I know that. But the boar. You put your life, or at least your well being, on the line for me. Darby,you jumped on that boar. You jumped on it to distract it from me, to stop it from hurting me. That thing was on the warpath and it was gonna spill blood. But it shoulda been my blood, not yours. I so scared, Darby." He looked pale. "I saw you fall and I thought...I thought you were a goner. And your blood, when I picked you up, it...it was all over. That was the hardest thing I've ever done, have you hurt, and bleeding, and not be able to do a thing about it. Darby, I know people, grown men, that wouldn't have done what you did, not even for their best friend. It just...you...why?"

I suddenly felt meek and tired. I tried to ignore the fact that my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest, and tried to keep my brain from looking too deeply into his words, finding some nonexistant hidden meaning. I couldn't tell him. "Can't you just thank me?"I asked in little more than a whisper.

"Dammit, Darby, tell me why!" He yelled, on his feet and not a foot from me, where I'd pulled myself up into a sitting position. I was startled, to say the least. I felt my eyes widen. Cade never yelled, or cussed, unless he was exteremely agitated or scared. I felt myself give up.

"Fine. You wanna know why, Cade? I just figured it out myself, actually, not five minutes before you walked in. You see, I couldn't figure it out. When I jumped on that overgrown pig, I hadn't been thinking. I saw the it going for you, and my brain stopped. I only knew that you were gonna get hurt, and I wasn't gonna let that happen. But that didnt make sense to me, afterwards. I knew I wouldn't have done that for many people. And then earlier, it just....hit me. I did, because for some unfathomable reason, I've fallen in love with you, Cade." My confession left me feeling embarressed. My eyes filled with tears of embaressment, and I looked away to avoid seeing his reaction. Silence.

Then a rough hand was on my chin, forcing me to look at him. I met his chocolate brown eyes, looking for some sign of his reaction. I was surprised at what I saw. No anger, no rejection. Just something I couldn't quite read.

"Do you mean that?" he questioned, his voice strangely husky, still musical to my ears. I just nodded hopelessly, still braced for rejection. I was not, however, braced for his lips crashing down on mine. I tensed at first, refusing to believe it, but his lips were demanding. I quickly surrendered, allowng my lips to move in confuing ways with his. My hands quickly knock off the ever present cowboy hat and undid his braid. My fingers twined in his blonde hair, deepening the kiss. He pulled back first, but leaned his forehead on mine. Both of us were breathless. I was dazed and confused.

"I...what?" I was trying to reason everything out.

"I know. I tried not to let it happen, because, for God's sake, you're Jonah's granddaughter, but I couldn't help it. I noticed it awhile back, but I brushed it off. But when you saved me, I just, well, I realized I couldn't help it. I'm in love with you, too, Darby." And with that, his lips were on mine again. But this was a kiss so soft, so sweet, that I was astonished. So cowboys have a softside after all.

An "Oops." followed by a thump, broke us apart. Cade jumped back, rubbing his neck. We both flushed an interesting red as we looked at Megan, who was standing in the doorway with Kimo, both of them carrying books for me, now scattered on the floor where they'd been dropped, both wearing identical expressions of shock. It looked so funny, that I snorted, trying to contain my laughter. Then Megan smiled, obviously realizing how ridiculous we all looked, then started giggling uncontrollably. Kimo's face broke into a wide grin. Even Cade's face broke into a smile, although he was still blushing, as was I.

Kimo picked up some of the books and walked over, still chuckling. He sat them down on the coffee table and slapped Cade's shoulder. He held up a book for me to see.

"Guess you don't need this." 101 Ways to Keep Yourself from Getting Bored as an Ivalid looked at me. This sent us all into rambuncous laughter.

"I guess not," I said sheepishly. I'd found the best way.

There. I hope y'all liked it. Lemme know. just hit that button and tell me! I'd love to here what you think!