Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sweet Reunion

Author's Note:  This is part 5 of the Sweetwater Romance Series.  It comes after Sweet Tea and falls at the end of the season 2 finale, The Exchange.

“You never should have come,” Kid said, a slight scolding tone entering his voice, putting her back up.  “I told you in that letter.”

“You told me what you wanted, Kid,” Lou answered, sighing, hoping this time she’d get through that stubborn, thick head of his to the brain he had inside and could use, if he tried.  “But what you and I got… well… what we all got, is stronger.  We’re a family.  And when one of us is in trouble, the rest of us got to help out.”

She waited uncertainly, tightening her hand around the fistful of his shirt she’d grabbed as she started to speak, waiting for him to respond, wondering if he’d really understand.  Would they be able to move forward, or was this just going to be more of the same.  Her gaze never wavered from Kid’s as she saw thoughts chasing themselves through his brain.  Then, she watched as his features softened, as if he’d finally gotten it.  He started to open his mouth to say something, but Jimmy walked up, breaking the moment.

Watching as Kid and Jimmy started talking, obviously making up over some fight they’d had earlier, Lou shifted position, feeling Kid’s letter to her crinkling as she moved.  She’d hidden it in her bindings again, so it would stay close to her heart.  The reminder of its presence sent her mind flying back to when she’d first gotten it, and her conversation with Rachel.

How can someone be so special and so enfuriatin’ at the same time?” she’d groaned after reading the letter for perhaps the hundredth time that afternoon and evening.

“Some people just got a knack for it,” Rachel said, trying to hide her smile in her coffee cup.

“I guess,” she’d sighed heavily.

“You know, the funny thing is,” Rachel continued, an almost sly look on her face, “it’s only the ones that you really care about that can get to you like that.”

Lou shook her head, not willing to admit the truth.  “But they’re all like that.  Cody, Hickok…”

At Rachel’s admonishing look, she’d laughed, finally admitting to herself and her friend what they both already knew, only Kid could get to her like this.

“Come on, let’s go for a walk.”

“Hunh?” Lou grunted, startled out of her reverie.  Looking up, she saw Kid standing there, his hand held out toward her.  Reaching out, she accepted his hand and stood up.  She almost jumped when he wrapped the same arm around her shoulders as they started walking away from the camp.  When he didn’t speak, she finally asked, “What’d you want to talk about?”

Kid just shook his head and kept walking.  “Not here.  Let’s wait until we’re really alone.  I’m tired of all them interferin’.”

Lou nodded, understanding the sentiment.  They’d managed to muck stuff up pretty well on their own without any help, suggestions and advice from their ‘family’ hadn’t helped out any.  Biding her silence, she walked at his side, enjoying the feel of having him close to her again.  She tried not to remember the odd combination of shame and exultation she’d felt while tied up there on the wall at the Pikes’ stronghold.  She’d been shamed that Kid had to see her in such a weak position, just reinforcing his belief that she needed protecting.  But, the look on his face had been so revealing, despite all his efforts he really did still care!  That had sent her heart soaring at the same time.

“Here,” Kid finally set, gently guiding her to a tree with a low hanging branch that made a great bench.  He leaned over and brushed off a few stray leaves for her before helping her sit down.  She smiled at his gentlemanly actions.  This was a part of Kid she loved, always concerned for her comfort and welfare.  If he could just learn not to go overboard with it.

Even as she sat, Kid started pacing back and forth in front of her.  Biding her silence, Lou just watched him, letting her eyes devour him.  She’d been so worried when she’d seen him down, shot.  But he was moving fine now.  It had just been a graze, like he’d said.  Sometimes it was hard being his lover, fighting alongside him, worrying about him, getting distracted from more immediate concerns by that worry.  She understood what he’d said about being glad she wasn’t there.  She just couldn’t accept it.

“I love you, Lou, that ain’t changed.  I’ve tried just bein’ friends with you these last several weeks, but it ain’t workin’,” Kid finally said.  “It might be hard bein’ with ya, but it’s harder just bein’ yer friend.”

"I know, Kid,” she murmured, reaching out a hand to capture his on his next pass.  “Come, sit with me.  I think it’s time to say a few things we ain’t been sayin’.”

Kid nodded as he slowly sank down onto the branch next to her.  “It ain’t too late, is it, Lou?” he asked almost plaintively.  “It ain’t too late to go back to where we thought we was before?”

Lou shook her head, a slight smile playing with the corners of her mouth.  “No, Kid, I don’t think it’s too late.  But I do think we need to get a few things straight between us.”

Kid nodded.  “You first.”

Lou gulped.  Alright, she’d take the gauntlet he’d just thrown down.  Someone had to go first.  Taking his hands in hers, she looked down at their fingers as they seemed to naturally entwine themselves around each other.  Finally, she spoke.  “I know I ain’t easy to love, Kid.”

She heard his breath draw in, as if he were about to say something and shook her head.  “No, let me finish.  This is hard enough.”  Looking up, she waited for him to nod in agreement before continuing.  “I know I ain’t easy to love.  And I’m sorry I can’t be the girl you want me to be.  But, if I ain’t me, you wouldn’t love me anyway.  And I couldn’t love myself.  I… I got things I gotta work on, things I gotta fix before I can move on to that next step you was wantin’.  I know that.  But,”  here she paused again, gulping down her fear of his reaction to rush through the rest of what she had to say, “I do love you and I’m hopin’ you’ll wait fer me ta be ready.  Can ya do that, Kid?  Can ya accept me as me?  Without tryin’ ta change me?  And can ya wait fer me ta catch up to ya?  Ta be ready fer that next step?”

When Kid didn’t say anything, Lou finally, slowly, lifted her eyes from their entwined hands to his crystal blue eyes.  Only then did he smile slightly and nod his head. 

“I can only promise to try, Lou,” he said softly, disengaging one hand to reach up and cup her cheek.  She leaned into the caress, closing her eyes to savor the feeling, only to open them again when he resumed talking.  “But I can’t change who I am, either.  And part of me loving you means I want to, need to protect you.  Can you accept that?”

Lou nodded.  “As long as that protectin’ goes both ways.  I can’t handle bein’ left behind when those I love are in danger.  You oughta know that ‘bout me by now, Kid.”

He half laughed.  “I know, Lou.  I know.  I guess we’ll just have to figure it out was we go, hunh?  But, no more askin’ others fer advice?”

Lou shook her head.  “And no more talkin’ ta others ‘bout our problems.  We talk only to each other, even when all we want ta do is punch the other’s lights out.”

Kid reached down and carefully formed her right hand into a fist which he then brought up to his heart.  “You can punch me out anytime you need to, Lou.  Just don’t walk away from me.  I don’t think I could handle that.”

She laughed, leaning her head against his chest as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders again.  It felt so good to be able to take comfort from him like this, to have that right again.  She could feel tears of happiness trying to break free.

“I know you got secrets, Lou.  So do I.  I think you were right, ‘bout not bein’ ready fer…. more.  I was just so afraid of losin’ you, I went and pushed too hard, too fast and lost ya anyway.  We’ll take it slow this time.  Wait ‘til we ain’t got no more secrets, leastwise none that matter.  Alright?”

Lou nodded her head against his chest, not wanting to move away from him right then.  He reached down and, placing a hand under her chin, tilted her face up so he could look in her eyes.

“Lou, I gotta ask, can you forgive me?  Fer the way I acted?  I was the one what walked away.  I was the one that went… lookin’ elsewhere.”

Now it was Lou’s turn to reach up and touch the side of Kid’s face, trace her fingers across his lips.  “You were hurtin’, Kid.  I get that.  And, if that’s what it took ta bring ya back to me, well I guess I can live with it.”

He smiled down at her, looking deep into her eyes for a long moment.  They still had a lot to talk about, a lot to work on, but this was a good start.  They were, finally, back on track.  He leaned down, agonizingly slowly, until his lips met hers in a sweet welcome home kiss.


“Where ya goin’, Teaspoon?” Jimmy asked curiously as Teaspoon suddenly stood from his place by the fire, grabbing a blanket from the back of the wagon.

“It’s gettin’ chilly and Kid and Lou ain’t back yet,” he heard Teaspoon mutter as he walked up next to the older man.

“Yep,” Jimmy nodded.  “Guess they’re still ‘talkin’, er… whatever.  Last I saw ‘em they was headed that away.”  He waved vaguely in the direction he’d seen the two walking off, arm in arm, just like old times.

He had to start half-jogging to keep up with Teaspoon.  A bit nervously he asked, “Shouldn’t we oughta leave ‘em alone, Teaspoon?”

“I need ta make sure they’re alright, son,” Teaspoon huffed.  “That’s all.  Almost lost one of my girls today.  Just makes a man feel the need ta make sure all his chicks are safe and sound.”

It didn’t take them long to discover Kid and Lou, leaning against a low hanging branch, asleep in each other’s arms, Lou’s head pillowed on Kid’s shoulder, his chin resting on her head.

Teaspoon nearly skidded to a halt, holding out one arm to stop Jimmy behind him.  His other hand came up to make a shushing motion before his lips.  Tiptoeing exaggeratedly across the clearing to the snoozing couple, he shook out the blanket and laid it gently over them.  Moving sneakily back to Jimmy he whispered, “Come on, let’s let them be.  Looks like they’re workin’ things out on their own.”

Sweet Sorrow
‘Til We Ain’t Strangers Anymore, Jon Bon Jovi and LeAnn Rimes
It might be hard to be lovers
But it's harder to be friends
Baby, pull down the covers
It's time you let me in
Maybe light a couple candles
I'll just go ahead and lock the door
If you just talk to me baby
Till we ain't strangers anymore

Lay your head on my pillow
I sit beside you on the bed
Don't you think its time we say
Some things we haven't said
It ain't too late to get back to that place
Back to where, we thought it was before
Why don't you look at me
Till we ain't strangers anymore

Sometimes it's hard to love me
Sometimes it's hard to love you too
I know it's hard believing
That love can pull us through
It would be so easy
To live your life

With one foot out the door
Just hold me baby
Till we ain't strangers anymore

It's hard to find forgiveness
When we just turn out the light
It's hard to say you're sorry
When you can't tell wrong from right
It would be so easy
To spend your whole damn life
Just keeping score
So let's get down to it baby
There ain't no need to lie

Tell me who you think you see
When you look into my eyes
Lets put our two hearts back together
And we'll leave the broken pieces on the floor
Make love with me baby
Till we ain't strangers anymore

We're not strangers anymore
We're not strangers
We're not strangers anymore

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