Summary: Someone call for the doctor!
Word Count: 1800
“Quick, Pa,” Hoss shouted throwing open the door to the Ponderosa ranch house. Ben woke from a nap with a start. He glared at Hoss, who went on, obliviously, “Joe’s bin hurt!”
This was indeed a tragedy and Ben jumped to his feet, visions of a nice Joe/Pa moment popping into his head. They didn’t seem to have had one of those for quite some time, and the fans demanded a regular dose of them.
The Giggly Sisters, who had been drinking coffee at the dining table, rushed over. Maimed Joe! Possibly their favorite thing in the world! They were just in time to see a couple of hands, with Adam nominally holding Joe’s head, dump the poor, unconscious lad on the hideously uncomfortable settee.
“Hoss, get the doctor,” Ben ordered, in tones of utmost anguish. Hoss nodded. He liked this part; this was his mission in life. He was glad that Pa had remembered this time not to tell him to ‘get the car’ first. Mind you, that was when Joe had almost been squished in Marie My Love and Pa was understandably rather upset.
Water was procured from the kitchen and the girls fought for the right to bathe Joe’s head. Of course, they had to let Ben do some bathing first, but they soon were perched beside him, soothing his fevered brow.
Joe soon came round, and moved his legs in that heart-breaking way he had. The blonde had to bite back a sob. The redhead reached for a handkerchief, but finding that she didn’t have one, used one of Hop Sing’s handy little cloths instead.
“You really shouldn’t have moved him,” the blonde said, as she gently removed his boots. He could still wiggle his toes, so there wasn’t a major problem with his back. “Especially when he’s been bucked off a bronco.”
“Has he?” Ben asked. He’d been too preoccupied with Joe’s small sounds of pain to find out what had happened.
The door crashed open once more and Hoss charged in. “Pa!” he exclaimed. This statement was almost as useful as Ben’s cry of ‘Joe!’ “The doc ain’t there, Pa!”
The sister’s pet bear, Paw, who had been hugging Joe, looked distraught at this and let out a little whimper.
“Where is he?” Ben demanded, bristling with righteous indignation. How dare the doctor not be there when, he Ben Cartwright, commanded his presence.
“He’s at the Williams’ ranch,” Hoss panted. “Mizz Williams is havin’ twins.”
“Oh not again,” said the redhead, spoiling a dramatic moment. “Why is it that it’s always a gynecological disaster that prevents the doctor from getting here? Why can’t it be a mine explosion? Or a landslip? Or a fire in town?”
“Well, having a baby is a risky business,” Ben said, at a loss for the answer.
“So is living with Joe!” Adam observed sardonically. He’d torn a fingernail while helping to lift Joe and wondered if this would impair his ability to play the guitar.
Ben shot his eldest son a hard look, and continued, “I remember how poor Marie…”
“My Love!” everyone chorused obediently. Even Paw put his paw pads together and assumed a saintly expression.
“… suffered giving birth to Joe. Of course, he was a breech birth, you know.”
“Are you sure that’s canon?” the blonde asked skeptically. “I know I’ve read that many times in fanfic, but I can’t recall it ever being said in the series.”
Ben looked in disgust at the scriptgirl, who shuffled through her notes and looked confused.
“Did you put a knife under the bed?” the redhead asked curiously. “People used to think that cut the pain in half.”
Ben looked rather supercilious. “We may live in the back of beyond, but we don’t have to resort to old wives tales like that. Paul Martin was in attendance throughout Marie’s confinement.”
The sisters thought back to when Adam had mistaken Joe for a wolf and shot him in My Brother’s Keeper. Doctor Hickman had only taken the most cursory glance at the wounded darling, before hurrying off to a heavily pregnant woman. Those childbirth emergencies seemed just a little too convenient somehow. How had the doctor known the woman was actually in labor? He could have been cooling his heels for days out there
“I’m a dab hand at deliverin’ younguns! I even done delivered that Injun girl’s baby in the Last Hunt out in the middle of nowhere!” Hoss said. He’d found the experience rather flustering the first time around, but was now rather good at it.
Joe had been markedly less enthusiastic about the whole affair and had been stunned to see that babies born on the Ponderosa did not look at all squashed and were beautifully clean.
“Aren’t there any midwives around here, then?” the redhead enquired. “Kindly neighbors who help out another woman? It would be a lot more in keeping with the period after all.”
A far-away look flitted over Ben’s face. “I never liked to take the slightest chance after the tragic demise of Elizabeth.”
A poignant silence greeted this remark. After a moment, when she wiped Joe’s brow once more, the blonde said, “I thought there was something of a shortage of women? So how come there are so many of them giving birth? And the doctor usually was only called in when the woman looked fit to die, because it wasn’t deemed fitting for a man to see a woman in labor.”
“Uh,” Ben responded, for he didn’t quite know what to say. “Really?”
“Oh yes,” the redhead nodded. “That’s one of the reasons women so often died in childbirth. The doctors frequently didn’t know what they were doing, either.” She made a face, for she seemed to know a lot of doctors like that.
“Well, things are different out here,” Adam said, importantly. “Doc Martin is really up-to-date with all the latest developments, you know. He’s bound to be good at delivering babies. Besides, it’s not that hard. If it was the human race would have died out already.”
“You speak from experience then?” the redhead asked. She had two children and still remembered their births and all the stitches she’d had afterwards. “When did you last give birth?”
“Well,” Adam hedged, “I don’t know, but that’s what all my married friends say.” There were many raised eyebrows at this. Did Adam have many married friends? They must not have visited the Ponderosa, which seemed like quite a sensible decision, given how many friends vanished, never to be seen again.
“Well, if men had babies, the human race would have died out by now,” the blonde agreed. “You couldn’t stand the pace.”
“Rubbish,” Adam scoffed. “It doesn’t take long to give birth.”
“Not on this show,” the blonde agreed. “Unless it’s an integral plot device. It can everywhere else.”
“Babies ain’t big,” Hoss put in.
“They are when you’re giving birth to them,” commented the redhead, who’d been fortunate enough to have quick labors, but unfortunate enough to have big babies.
“So the doctor might not get here for hours yet?” Joe said, in a thin voice. “I could be dead by then.”
“It could be a false labor,” the blonde said hopefully. “Then Paul could be out here in next to no time at all. Mind you, if we had some of Doc Hickman’s Marvelous, Mysterious Medicine TM you’d probably feel a lot better in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.”
A series of sour looks greeted this pronouncement. The Cartwrights really didn’t like sheep, as witnessed by their frantic efforts in Blood on the Land.
“Were you at the boys’ births?” the redhead asked.
“Well, Adam was born in Boston, and it just wasn’t thought seemly. Then, of course, Hoss was born on the trail, so there really wasn’t a lot of privacy. And, of course, he was a very big baby indeed.”
Hoss looked very proud. “Fourteen pounds!” he announced and the redhead went very pale indeed.
Joe perked up a bit. “What about me?” he asked plaintively.
“You were born right here on the Ponderosa,” Ben said lovingly, stroking one of Joe’s curls back from his unfeasibly handsome face. Even a maim did not detract from Joe’s utter gorgeousness in the slightest. In fact, the slight sheen of sweat just highlighted his magnificent bone structure.
“You were small, annoying and cried a lot. In fact, you’ve hardly changed at all!” Adam remarked in an off-hand manner. Ben rushed in to ameliorate matters.
“You had lovely green eyes, son. Just like your dear Mama.”
The Giggly Sisters exchanged highly skeptical looks. The redhead cleared her throat, while the blonde snuggled closer to Joe and held onto his big toe for solace.
“But all babies are born with blue eyes! Even baby animals, like Paw here! They change color after a few weeks.”
Adam, Hoss and Joe all turned to look at Ben. He’d had three sons and never noticed this small point? Hoss was especially affronted.
“Typical – you two hafta go and have them changin’ eyes and mine just stay plain ol’ blue. You’d never think we all got equal billing now, would ya?”
“That was why we were a bit perplexed about Last Hunt,” the redhead said. “You knew the baby had a white father because it had blue eyes. But since you didn’t know, I guess we’ll let you off.”
There was a brisk knock on the front door and the Cartwrights all looked at Joe. He groaned slightly and moved his legs and the girls sighed in unison. He did suffer so well. Adam reluctantly rose and opened the door to admit Paul Martin.
“Well, where’s the patient?” he demanded, as though he didn’t know Joe would be lying on the settee.
“That was quick,” commented the blonde. “Was it a false labor after all?”
“False labor?” he repeated, doubtfully. “Was what false labor?” He glanced at the script girl. “Don’t tell me it was another gynaecological disaster!” he cried. “Have the script writers run out of ideas?”
They all studied him as though he were an exhibition in a museum.
“I’ve never delivered a baby in my life!” he yelled. “I spend all my time out here fixing you ones up! When have I got time to deliver babies?” He threw the inept script girl a hard look. He had clearly never been told he delivered babies as well!
“Well,” said the blonde, calmly, “since there aren’t twins about to be born, would you mind fixing Joe up for us?”
As Doc Martin bent over the settee, Joe said, “And hurry up, my back is killing me lying here.”
He examined Joe thoroughly and straightened up with a grim look on his face.
“What is it?” Ben asked anxiously.
“Triplets at the least,” he replied.