Thursday, September 6, 2012

Nothing Sweet: Kid

Summary: A man can only take so much hanging in the breeze, no matter how much he loves a woman.  After Lou runs off yet again, when Kid needs her the most, he must decide if he should stay or go?

Author's Note:  This is the 11th installment of my Sweetwater Romance series, following Nothing Sweet: Lou (#10).  It comes toward the end of the third season episode, Presence of Mine Enemies.

Kid watched as Lou fled across the prairie, racing the wind as if desperate to escape its ever blowing presence.  He could feel his own tears of grief rolling down his cheeks.  He wanted so much to hug her close right now, assure himself that she was still there, that he hadn’t lost her, too.  But once again she was running away from her problems, their problems.
A sudden fury welled up from someplace deep inside him that he hadn’t even known existed.  He wanted to scream as this previously untapped well of pain and anger overflowed.  Inside he raged at her, wanting to shake her until she came to her senses, came back to him.  Unable to hold the anger inside anymore, he turned and punched his fist into the barn door.
“Ow,” he gasped, cradling his bruised and bleeding fist against his chest.  One good thing had come from his unexpected loss of control.  It had brought him back to his senses.  Not that that was a pleasant thing, but better than the uncontrollable rage that had controlled him for a moment.
Sucking at the throbbing, broken skin of his knuckles, he started walking wearily toward the bunkhouse.
“Where’s Lou goin’?” Jimmy asked as Kid stepped up onto the bunkhouse porch.  He didn’t look at Kid, his eyes clapped on the disappearing figure of the woman they both loved.
“Dunno,” Kid growled.  “What am I?  Her keeper?”
Jimmy turned at this to look at Kid, only slightly surprised at the barely suppressed hostility in his brother’s tight voice.  He thought they’d gotten past Kid’s jealous rages.   But then he realized this was much more than that.  He held up both hands in a gesture of peace.
“Whatever she’s done ta piss ya off ain’t my fault,” he said.  Although he tried to keep his temper and started off peaceable enough, his voice hardened as he spoke.  “So don’t be takin’ it out on me!  Tell her ‘bout it!”
“Don’t ya think I would?” Kid asked angrily, flapping his uninjured hand toward the horizon Lou was doing her best to disappear into.  “If I could?  But she’s runnin’ away.  Again!”
Jimmy deflated, sighing as his own temper let go of him.  He understood Lou’s tendency to react by running as well as Kid did.  And it frustrated him, too.  He reached out a hand and laid it comfortingly on Kid’s shoulder.  “You know she don’t cotton ta change real well, Kid.  Or loss.  Remember how she was after Emma and Ssam took off?”
Kid looked away, not answering.  Jimmy stepped closer and wrapped his arm completely around his friend’s shoulders. 
“Come on, let’s head inside,” he said quietly.  “Teaspoon’s waitin’.  She’ll be back in her own time.”
Nodding, Kid let Jimmy steer him toward the door.
“Hey,” Jimmy said.  “What happened to your hand?”
Once again, Kid found himself standing in the barn door, eyes on the horizon.  Except this time he was waiting for her return, not watching her departure.
It had been a long night, one of the longest of his life.  Everyone was grieving.  And there had been that horrible moment when Buck had finally returned from wherever he’d disappeared to and they’d had to confirm what he’d already known in his gut.
They’d had to scramble to get that big hunting knife of his away from him before he’d started carving into himself in some bizarre Indian mourning ritual. 
After some quick talking on Cody’s part, they’d convinced Buck that that wasn’t what Ike would’ve wanted.  Buck had retreated to Ike’s bunk, where he’d taken out a picture Ike had drawn of himself and spent the rest of the night starting at it in dry eyed silence.
It had been a vigil no one had been willing to violate, so they’d all retreated to their own bunks without another word.
Kid had had a lot of time to think about things.  About who he was, who Lou was.  About what he wanted, what he needed.
At the sound of slowly plodding hooves, he straightened and took a couple steps forward.
Lou was half-asleep on Lightning’s back, leaning forward, her face buried in the animal’s mane, her fingers tangled in it.
Kid reached out and grabbed the dangling reins in one hand.  Without a word, he turned and led the exhausted horse and rider into the barn.  Inside Lightning’s stall, Kid pulled Lou off the horse’s back.  At first she melted into his embrace and he gloried in the feel of her in his arms.  But, as her feet touched the ground, her eyes fluttered open enough to realize what was going on and she pulled away.  Moving slowly, wearily, she dropped onto a nearby hay bale.
Kid smiled bitterly at the implicit rejection.  He took a deep breath to center himself and turned to take care of her horse.
Long moments later, the animal munched contentedly at the mixture of hot mash and oats Kid had put in his trough.  His coat shone in the morning sunlight after the good brushing he’d been given.  Kid took his time putting everything away, trying to find the calm to say what he had to say.  Finally, he walked out of the stall, passing Lou who still sat on her hay bale in a daze.
“You awake?” he asked without looking directly at her.  He couldn’t do this if he looked into her grieving, wounded eyes.  And he needed to do this.
“Sorta,” she mumbled.
“Well listen close,” he cautioned.  “Cause I ain’t gonna say this twice.  I walked away from you…. from us… once because I thought it was what you wanted, what was best.”
“I….” she started to say, but he held up a hand to forestall her.
“No, Lou.  You’ve had your say,” he said in a quiet, firm voice.  “You had it yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that.  You’ve made yourself crystal clear.  Now it’s my turn.”
He took a deep, bracing breath and turned to face her.
“I love you, Louise McCloud.  I… Love… You.  And that means a lot of things.  But right now it means I need you.  I need you by my side to remind me there’s still good in this world, happiness despite the pain.  That not all is…. lost.”
Anger began to creep into his voice.
“When I needed you most, you were gone!  Runnin’ away again!”
Realizing he was about to lose control, he spun about on his heel and paced toward the door, where he paused, looking out at the Express compound.  He sighed.
“I’ve decided what I want.  Now.  Today.  Tomorrow.  For the rest of my life.  And that’s you, Louise.  Now you’ve got to decide what you want.  And if you can be there for me when I need you the most, like I’ll do my damnedest to be there for you.”
He turned to look back at her, over his shoulder.  “I’ll give you your space to think, to grieve.  But while you’re doin’ that, think about us, too.  You’ve got to decide if you’re ready ta stay, or if yer goin’ fer good.  I’m willin’ ta take things slow, but I can’t take this not knowin’ anymore.”
Tearing his eyes away from her, he added one last thing.  “But don’t take two long.  I’ll be waitin’.  But I can’t wait forever, Lou.  No matter how much I love you.”
Without another word, he walked out the barn door, toward the bunkhouse.  Lou watched him go, her eyes wide with shock at his unexpected ultimatum.  As he disappeared into the bunkhouse, she collapsed onto the hay bale in the fetal position, sobbing hoarsely.

Nothing Sweet: The Goodbye
Our Farewell, Within Temptation
In my hands
A legacy of memories
I can hear you say my name
I can almost see your smile
Feel the warmth of your embrace
But there is nothing but silence now
Around the one I loved
Is this our farewell?

Sweet darling you worry too much, my child
See the sadness in your eyes
You are not alone in life
Although you might think that you are

Never thought
This day would come so soon
We had no time to say goodbye
How can the world just carry on?
I feel so lost when you are not at my side
But there's nothing but silence now
Around the one I loved
Is this our farewell?


  1. Always loved Lou, but sometimes she just made me want to shake her til her teeth rattled.

    1. Well, she *was* a teenaged girl! LOL! And that's before you start talking about the trauma she survived. Of course she was messed up. Doesn't mean she didn't need a little shaking up occasionally, though. =)