Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Morning After

Author's Note:  This story falls after Requiem for a Hero, but before Lou and Kid started having problems.  It's a sequel to Good Night, Sleep Tight.
A growing chill slowly pulled Kid from his contented slumber.  At first, he snuggled closer to the warm body tucked up against his under the covers, pulling her more closely into his tight embrace.  Finally, unable to ignore the creeping cold any longer, he opened his eyes and glanced around the bunkhouse cautiously, without actually moving much.  He realized his nose felt rather icyclish about the same time his gaze lit on the hearth, where not even the coals glowed any longer.
Careful not to let the frigid air seep under the blankets, he crept out in a shivering rush and hurried to put more wood on the fire, using the poker to stir up the coals.  Soon, warmth began to flood his extremities once more as flames began to consume the logs.  Turning around to toast his other side for a moment, he looked down at the still sleeping woman curled up in the pile of blankets.  A slow grin transformed his cold-tightened features.
A quick glance out the window confirmed his thoughts.  It was still early in the morning.  There was plenty of time to make up for last night’s lost opportunity.
Lou pushed closer to the large body that brought a returned heat to her not-quite-so-warm nest.  The cold had almost been enough to force her to wake up all the way.  But it had receded.
Now an almost blazing heat wrapped itself around her, the strong planes of his muscled chest against her back, his arms tugging her closer, his feet tangling with hers.  She nearly moaned in appreciation.
Then, his hands began to rove about beneath the blankets, finding all those perfectly sensitive places they both loved.  His nose nuzzled her cheek, his wiry whiskers leaving behind a pleasantly tingling red patch.  She pushed back into his warmth, stretching into his embrace.  This time she did moan aloud, in appreciation.  She could wake up like this everyday.
“I s’pose we oughta get up,” he finally said, regretfully, his chin resting atop her head, which was pillowed comfortably on his arm.
Lou snuggled down into the combined warmth of his arms and the blankets wrapped around them.  “It’s barely dawn,” she muttered.  “We got time.”
“Um, Lou….” he started tentatively.  “It’s a bit past dawn.  I’d say at least an hour or so.  Rachel should be out here with breakfast anytime now.”
Lou looked up at the windows along the bunkhouse wall that faced the big house and the barn.  A grey, hazy light filtered through the not quite perfect panes of glass.
“It ain’t light ‘nough ta be that late,” she complained.
Kid laughed.  It was always like this between them.  He was ready to sleep well before her, but she never wanted to get up when the time came.  Somehow, they made it work for them, though.  He hugged her tighter to him, then roughly threw the blankets off then and across the room, away from the fire.
“Hey!” she shouted, huddling into a tighter ball.  “What’d ya do that fer?”
“You’re the one always sayin’ ya don’t want others watchin’ us,” Kid said, slightly sardonically, as he disentangled himself from her while buttoning up this longjohns against the still chilled air of the room.  “Well, we gotta get movin’ then.”
She grumbled a bit more, even made a few threats that would truly frighten him, if he’d actually thought she’d meant them, but got to her feet, pulling on her longjohns as she went, and rushed over to hustle into the clothes Kid had laid out in front of the hearth to warm up.
Finally, fully clothed, she headed for the door.  “Might as well go check on the horses while we’re waitin’,” she grumbled.  “We kin get some water on the way back.”
Kid nodded agreeably and handed her coat to her as he shoved his hat tightly down over his hair.  She reached for the door and he pulled her back just as her hand touched the handle.  She stumbled fell into his arms.
“What now?”
He set her up on her feet, then pulled her coat closed more tightly around her throat, buttoning the top button and pulling the collar up to shield her neck from the wind.  Then, he pushed her hat further down on her head. 
“Can’t you hear that wind out there?” he asked.  “It ain’t gonna be pretty.”
Lou didn’t respond, just flattening her mouth in a sideways grimace and turned to fling the door open.  Cold white pellets of frozen snow flew through the opening, striking the skin on her cheeks with the force of a sledgehammer.  Hunkering further down in to her coat, she pushed her way through the door and out onto the bunkhouse porch.
“Good thing Teaspoon strung the guide lines yesterday,” she shouted over the howling wind, grabbing onto the porch post in an effort to stay upright despite the gale’s force.  “No way we’d make it ta the barn otherwise.  Or that Rachel’d make it over here.”
Kid just nodded, lending a supporting hand to help keep her on her feet as they pushed forward into the blizzard’s snow, headed for the corner of the porch where Teaspoon would tie ropes to the post and string them to the big house and the barn so no one could get lost in white out conditions like these.
Grabbing the last porch post, Kid reached up for the guideline and found…. nothing.  He reached again, thinking he’d just missed.
“Kid, it ain’t there,” Lou shouted.
“What?” he gasped back.
She held up the frayed ends of the ropes tied to the post.  They were maybe two feet long.  He shook his head and turned to look in the general direction of the barn, a worried expression on his face.
“Don’t worry,” she said, stepping closer to him so she didn’t have to shout so much.  “Teaspoon will take good care of her.  Come on, let’s go back inside.  There’s nothing we can do until this passes.”
It took them mere moments to struggle their way back to the door.  The wind was so strong it took both of them working together to close the door firmly on the storm outside.  Leaning back against it, Lou sighed.
“What?” Kid asked.
“Just thinkin’ ‘bout what supplies we’ve got on hand,” she said.  “Ain’t much.  There’s the cookies, a bit of leftover stew, some milk and coffee.”
Kid reached out and pulled her into his arms, rubbing his nose, once again frozen through and through, against her cheek.  She laughed and struggled to escape his icy attack.
“Who needs food?” he growled.  “Don’t you see?  We’re snowbound.  All by ourselves.  Ain’t no one comin’ ta interrupt us fer…. hours… maybe even days.  Imagine what we could do with all that…. time… alone.”
His voice slowed and grew huskier with each word as his head slowly lowered, until his lips touched hers as he whispered the last word.

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