Epilogue

Two weeks had passed and everything on the Circle Bar 7 ranch was settling back into a state of normalcy. Normal for the McFadden clan wasn't everyone's normal. They could never be accused of letting things get boring, but still, all was relatively quiet. Drama free, so to speak.

Daniel was sitting on the front porch, crutches laid next to him, picking out a new tune on his guitar, when Adam walked over from the barn and decided to join him.

"I guess I'm the only one that hasn't signed that thing yet." Adam said, motioning towards the new cast on Daniel's leg.

"Yep. You're the only one left. Our brother's think they're funny, but you'll be nice, right?" Daniel said rather sarcastically.

Adam studied all the cute artwork and writing on the cast. Crane had written: Daniel stands here (with an arrow pointed down)...so you won't find Crane standing anywhere near here!

Evan's offering was: Way to go little brother, you really stepped in it this time!

Adam had to laugh out loud when he read Brian's offering: Hello ladies, my name is Dan'l and I'm pitiful. How about a sympathy date?

He then admired some pretty nice artwork, he knew immediately it was Ford's. It was an incredibly impressive likeness of Charlie Brown, complete with the dark cloud over his head with a caption underneath that said "Why is everybody always picking on me?"

Adam smiled warmly as he read Hannah's handwriting: I may be jinxed but my sister still loves me with a happy face drawn underneath it.

Even Guthrie had drawn a picture of a cowboy holding an umbrella, standing in the rain, with a bolt of lightning drawn coming out of the sky and pointed straight at the umbrella, complete with: Love, Guthrie written beneath it, which also made Adam smile.

"Ok, hand it over." Adam requested as he held his hand out for the marker Daniel had in his pocket.

"What about that promise?" Daniel asked, shooting Adam a grumpy look.

Adam laughed and agreed. He thought for a minute, shook his head then wrote: Daniel, your big brother loves you, no matter how bad you screw up! He signed it Love, Adam.

As Daniel studied what Adam wrote, Adam put a hand on his shoulder and stared at his little brother for a minute. Then he finally spoke. "Daniel, I do love you, more than you'll ever know. Please don't hate me for worrying about you."

"I could never hate you Adam. I love you too much." Daniel replied sincerely.

There he was again. That eight year old boy looking up at big brother for approval, Adam thought, but shook his head, trying his best to stay in the present.

"Well, good. You're stuck with me anyhow." Adam continued. "I appreciate all you've been doing around here, in spite of being hurt, Daniel. It must've been hard working on that tractor yesterday with your handicap."

"Nah, it was a piece of cake." Daniel replied, sarcastically rolling his eyes as he remembered all the difficulty he had maneuvering around the tractor with that cast on his leg. Then, he drew in a deep breath and blew it out as he decided to really talk to his brother.

"Adam, I've been wanting to talk to you about something." Daniel continued.

"Sure. I'm all ears, what's up?" Adam replied.

"I'm just sorry about all the fights we've had lately. I know I've apologized before...but...I just wanna say that I think I understand where you're coming from." Daniel said, looking straight into Adam's eyes.

Adam did his best to swallow the lump that was forming in his throat. "Well, I appreciate that Daniel. You know I'm sorry too, right?" Adam finally said.

"Yeah, I know." Daniel replied, never breaking eye contact with his big brother, then he continued. "I'm scared too...about the music thing. I didn't realize that about myself when we were arguing, but I had a talk with Hannah a while back and...well, she told me that she felt like maybe you were a little scared about what could happen to me if I try to make a career in music. Then, I got to thinkin' about it and I guess...that's been my problem too. I mean, I have to try it and I'm gonna go for it...I want it so bad, Adam. But...it is scary to me too. Leavin' the security of home, the rejection I'll have to face...it's terrifying but it's still what I want. I want it really, really bad...can you understand that?

As Daniel spoke, Adam had a multitude of emotions run through him. He was proud of Daniel for speaking to him man to man. He was also scared to death to hear the resolve in his voice. He wasn't going to back down. Adam could hear the determination as it flowed from the young man and he knew in that moment, that Daniel had really made up his mind.

Adam realized too in that moment that Daniel had found both courage and confidence in himself, likely as a result of overcoming all the obstacles that had been put in front of him in the last year. He had survived a lot more in his nineteen years than most people would ever have to survive in one lifetime. Adam also realized something else. He can do it. He has the talent, the grit, the tenacity. He'll be alright.

"Yes, I do understand. You're right too. You do have to go for it. You've been preparing for it your whole life. I just hope I've given you a strong sense of right and wrong...cause you're gonna need that, Daniel. It's a hard business and there's a lot of ways to go wrong in it." Adam replied as he saw tears welling up in Daniel's eyes, then realized his own eyes were welling too.

"You've given me everything I need and more, Adam. You've been the best father I could've ever had and I won't let you down." Daniel replied as he wiped his tears from his face with his sleeve.

"No. Our dad was the best...but I tried to raise you the same way he raised me and...I think maybe I did ok and, I know you're gonna be fine and I know you won't let me down. Still, it's not an easy path you're choosing to take, but, I can't think of one person in this world more equipped to handle it than you. You've come through a lot and I know in my heart that you'll make it in the music business too." Adam said thoughtfully.

"You do? You really think so?" Daniel asked, wide eyed and suddenly grinning.

Damn. There's that eight year old again. Adam shook his head and reached over to muss Daniel's hair and replied. "I do. I really do."

Daniel sat his guitar aside and reached over and hugged Adam, burying his head on his big brothers' shoulder. When he finally pulled back he looked at Adam and simply said "Thanks Dad."

Adam swallowed hard again and said "You're welcome Danny."

They sat there next to each other for a long time, saying nothing more. There was really nothing left to say. They were finally for once...seeing things eye to eye.

the end...