This story takes place after the series finale in which Daniel and his band had a chance to audition for Trevalow, a record producer. He failed to get signed as he and the band could not practice because of an unexpected roundup. Now he gets another chance.

Saving Daniel

Chapter one

Daniel sprinted down the front steps and, in his hurry, jumped over the last two. He landed off balance and fell to his knees in the wet grass. Not giving it another thought, he jumped up and continued his run through the yard to the barn. He bounded through the barn door and almost ran right into Evan, carrying a bucket of feed.

"Watch out!"

"Oh, sorry, Evan! Didn't see you. Hey, where are Adam and the rest of the guys?" Daniel was practically bouncing on his heels and his eyes were bright with excitement.

"Out back, why?" Evan's brow wrinkled up suspiciously. Something was up. Daniel wasn't usually this excited unless his band got a gig.

"Come on, I want to tell you all at the same time!" Daniel tore through the back door of the barn, not waiting for Evan. Outside he found his brothers and Hannah all busy with chores around the barn.

"Hey guys!" Daniel called out. "I've got something to tell you 'all." The grin on his face spread from ear to ear.

Adam pushed back his hat and eyed Daniel carefully. What was up? The kid looked like he was about to bust. Brian and Ford dropped what they were doing and worked their way over. Hannah leaned on the horse she'd been brushing, her focus on Daniel. Crane leaned on the slatted walls separating the stalls and cast a curious eye toward his brother.

Guthrie sauntered up to him and broke the silence, "What's up Daniel? You finally get that date with Ellie McCormick?" A teasing grin stretched across his face. That remark made Crane crack up and Hannah grin. Ford called out, "Yeah, what's up?" and Daniel took a playful swing at Guthrie.

"Okay you all. No it's not Ellie McCormick. You remember when the music producer, Trevalow, came to town a while ago?" Nods from the brothers came from all around. That had been an important gig for Daniel's band, one that hadn't gone so well. An unexpected roundup had caused Daniel to miss vital rehearsals and he had vented his anger at Adam, blaming him. At the audition, the record producer didn't like what he'd seen and headed back to L.A. without signing them.

"Well, he just called me again." Daniel paused for dramatic effect. He looked around. All his families' eyes were on him. "He wants me to come to L.A. for another go at it!"

Daniel's face was beaming and suddenly the silence was broken by a whoop and holler from Evan and Crane. "All right, Daniel!" Guthrie cheered for him. They all crowded around him, slapping his back and congratulating him. Adam smiled, but hung back a little. He remembered last time with trepidation. Daniel had gotten his hopes up and had planned on major practice time with the band, only to have ranch duties interfere. That had caused major tension between Adam, Evan and Daniel. Evan and Daniel had even gotten into a brawl over it. Adam wondered what this time would bring but he didn't want to bring him down from his high.

"When do you and the band leave?" Crane, always the practical one, asked.

Daniel hesitated before he answered. He wasn't sure how his family would take this part. "Well, Trevalow said he only wanted me. Not the band. He's working on something and liked the way I sang. Said he may be able to use me for a gig he's got in mind."

Alarms went off in Adam's head. Not with the band? How would his band members take to that? Being left behind? And Daniel alone in whatever Trevalow had planned for him? He was only eighteen after all. Adam wasn't sure he was comfortable with that. What if Trevalow wanted Daniel to travel? Adam would have felt better if the boys in the band where with him, watching each other's backs.

Brian voiced the same thoughts. "What will the boys say about that?" He looked skeptical.

"Ah, they won't care. They'll be glad I got the chance. "He went on to explain that Trevalow wanted him at his studio, in L.A., in four days to audition. He would sing with Trevalow's studio band and they'd see how he did. Trevalow's secretary would set him up with a hotel room nearby and the bus station wasn't far from there either. "It's all worked out. I can't believe it! He must have liked something to call me back."

"Sure he did, Daniel. He'd be crazy not to." Evan encouraged. Guthrie and Ford nodded in agreement, Hannah patted his arm and Crane beamed at him. Brian and Adam still hung back, trying to look happy but both had their doubts.

"I've got to go practice. That okay with you guys?"

"Yeah, you go on. We'll do your chores…this once." Brian grinned at him. Daniel raced back inside eagerly. The rest of the family drifted off to their various jobs, chattering about the news.

Adam and Brian hung back until the barn was cleared out. "What do you think?" Brian asked. "This sound legit?"

"I guess so, but it makes me nervous. One of us will have to go with him dontcha think? I don't like the idea of him being in the city alone."

"Me neither." After a moment's hesitation, Brian continued, "I'll go. I remember that feeling of wanting something different than ranch work. Remember when Shep was around? I almost left with him ya know. I think I can understand where he's coming from."

"I remember. And I'm sure glad you didn't." He clapped Brian on the shoulder. "I just don't want to see him go. I wish he'd be content to stay on here."

"I know, me too, but we always knew they'd grow up and some would leave us." He was referring to all their little brothers now. Adam always hoped they'd all take up ranching, but Brian knew Daniel, and maybe some of the others had different goals in mind. "He has to go. "

"Better not let him get his hopes up too high, remember last time?" Brian nodded in agreement. They'd have to caution him on that. The music business was hard to break into and fickle at best. Just because he got this call, didn't mean a record deal. If only they could manage to convince Daniel of that.

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Later that night, the family gathered in the living room after dinner. Although it was clear in Adam and Brian's minds that Daniel needed to proceed with caution, it wasn't clear to Daniel. They tried to warn him not to get his hopes up, but he saw it as them not believing in him.

"You don't think I can do it, do you, Adam?" His voice rose in anger and his body language was defensive. "You don't think I'm good enough!"

"That's not true! I never said that. Stop twisting my words around." Adam felt the anger rising in him as well. Hannah moved to put a restraining hand on Adam's shoulder but he shrugged her off, as he moved closer to Daniel. Crane tried to step in and reassure Daniel, attempting to defuse the situation, but his hotheaded brothers weren't giving it up that quickly. The rest of the family just watched, not sure what would happen next.

"You just can't stand it that I don't want to be on this ranch the rest of my life. That I have something more in mind for my life! You aren't going to be able to control me forever, Adam."

"I'm not trying to! I just want you to be careful, can't you see that?"

"Adam doesn't mean that." Crane tried to intervene. Brian hovered close, in case it came to blows. He remembered all too clearly how quickly Daniel's fists flew, and how hard. He'd felt the force of them first hand. The younger brothers watched in fascination, the way one watches a car wreck.

"Stay out of this Crane! I don't need you butting your head in." Daniel snapped. He was red-faced and angry, all reason gone.

"I'm not!" Crane shouted, as Adam said, "Leave him alone!" to Daniel. The rest of the room exploded in comments and chatter, joining the argument on either side. Some defended Daniel and others Adam. Brian argued with both sides, not sure which way to think. He understood Daniel's drive to get away on his own, he'd felt that way before, too. But he also echoed Adam's opinions on being reasonable and cautious. The brothers were loud and boisterous, the heated discussion going on and on, around and around.

Finally Adam saw a need to put a stop to all of it before it got too out of control. Someone was sure to start throwing punches soon with all these hot tempers in the McFadden household. He stepped up on the coffee table and whistled loudly. Conversation stopped all around him and they all turned their eyes on him. Now what to say to defuse this situation?

"Guys, okay, come on, cool it." He used his best 'dad' voice. "Calm down everyone." He stepped down off the table, "Daniel, we aren't saying you can't go, but we just want you to be careful not to get your hopes up too high. You and Brian will go on Friday and-"

"Brian? No way, Adam." Daniel cut in. "Why would you need to go, Brian?" He turned to his second oldest brother.

Brian started to explain, "We just thought you shouldn't be alone in the city, Dan'l-"

"I'm not a little kid! I don't need a babysitter! I want to do this on my own."

"You've never even been there, Dan'l. It's a big city, not like around here. I just want to go to be there for support. That's all." Brian defended himself.

"You. Are. Not. Coming. With. Me." Daniel punctuated each word with fervor, jabbing his finger into Brian's shirt. That didn't sit lightly with Brian and they were off again, this time Brian and Daniel were arguing about why he should or shouldn't come along. Adam joined in on Brian's side, Crane interjecting at times and the others throwing a comment in here or there. The argument went on for a long time.

Finally Daniel stormed off out to the barn to cool off and Adam up to his room. Brian flopped on the chair and the others drifted off. That ended the discussion for the night. But only for the night.

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Unfortunately, there was still several days left until it would be time for Daniel to leave, several days for the fight to flare up again and again. The stubborn McFadden pride was strong in all the brothers. Adam insisted that Daniel proceed with caution and that Brian go with him. Daniel felt as though his brother didn't trust him on his own and didn't believe he could do it. Ugly things were said in the heat of the arguments, leaving both brothers feeling disjointed and ill at ease around each other. It affected the rest of the family, too, as they tried to stay out of the way, or help the warring parties see each other's point of view. Brian, especially, felt caught in the middle. He could always be counted on to back Adam, but on this issue he could clearly see both points of view.

By Thursday, they were all waiting to hear the final arrangements for tomorrow's bus trip, so they could send Daniel and Brian on their way and have some peace around the house. Trevalow's secretary was supposed to call with the hotel arrangements and bus departure time. Daniel hung around the house so he wouldn't miss the call. He had his own plan in mind.

When the phone finally rang, it couldn't have come at a better time for Daniel. No one was in the house at the moment except him. The secretary gave him the information on the hotel and bus.

"What if I want to come down there tonight instead of tomorrow? Can the ticket be exchanged?" Daniel asked.

The secretary didn't expect that request, but answered she was sure he could switch it if he called the bus station. She didn't really care either way. Daniel would have to call the hotel, too and see if he could book it for tonight and he'd have to pay for the extra night himself.

"That's fine, ma'am. Thank you for your help." They hung up. He made the next two calls to the bus station and hotel, all the while checking out the front window, watching for anyone to make an appearance, and coming up to the house and spoiling his plans. He tried to hurry both calls along. When the arrangements were made, he slammed the receiver back into the cradle and bolted up the stairs to his room.

A half hour later, if anyone would have been watching, they would have seen Daniel, guitar strapped on his back and duffle bag in hand, stealthy creeping down the driveway to where a buddy from school was waiting for him in his truck. They took off, heading for town and the bus station and none of the McFaddens' were the wiser.