A Different Heyes
by Storm Richards
Kid and Laurie sat at Heyes' bedside. Neither of them had moved from it for more than a couple a minutes for the past two days and even then, the other stayed. They wanted to be there just in case Heyes woke up. Laurie sat holding his hand; it was late, Kid walked over to her.
"Why don't you try to get some sleep," he said quietly placing his hand gently on her shoulder.
She shook her head no.
"You're exhausted. It won't do Heyes any good if you get sick."
Laurie shook her head again not taking her eyes off of Heyes. He looked so peaceful from this side. The other side was a different story. It was bandaged where the horse kicked him, leaving a big gash and lump.
That day had started out to be a beautiful day. Heyes, Kid and Laurie were in Grand Falls picking up some equipment that had been special ordered. The three of them had been working on their house in Small Falls day and night. In need of a break, they decided to get away for a couple of days, pick up the equipment and enjoy the fall weather. Laurie was crossing the street to meet Heyes when a run away wagon came barreling around the corner. Luckily for her, Heyes reacted quickly, pushing her out of harms way, but in doing so, the horse clipped his head with its hoof and he went down in a heap.
The doctor examined him but couldn't tell how bad the injury was until Heyes woke up. It was now going on three days and he still hadn't opened his eyes. The doctor tried to comfort them saying it wasn't unusual with this type of injury to still be unconscious, but he also let them know, the longer it took him to regain consciousness, the less likely he would recover.
"Laurie," Kid said quietly again. "You're exhausted. I'll sit and talk to him. You should get some rest."
She glanced at blue eyes as tears welled in her eyes.
He pulled her up into a hug. "I know," he said trying to soothe her as he held her. "He'll be okay. I promise."
She held on to him as tight as she possibly could, he was her connection to Heyes. Kid was the part of Heyes that was still walking and talking. The guilt caused by the accident was eating her up. She knew she hadn't caused the horse to kick him, but if she hadn't been there at that time, he wouldn't have been hurt. Leaning into Kid, she sobbed.
"Hey Kid," a weak voice came from the bed.
Laurie lifted her head off of Kid's chest and smiled at Heyes. Letting go of Kid she sat down on the side of the bed gazing into Heyes' eyes as she tried to find the voice that had deserted her.
Kid stood next to Laurie with his hand on her shoulder and a big grin on his face.
"You're awake," she finally croaked out.
Heyes smiled hesitantly at her and then looked at his partner with questioning eyes. "Where am I?"
"You're in the hotel. You've been unconscious for almost three days."
Laurie lifted his hand to her lips, kissing it as tears rolled down her face.
Heyes glance at her and then looked back at Kid. "What happened?"
"Horse kicked you in the head when you saved Laurie," he responded.
Laurie, he thought, and then smiled at her. "Are you okay?"
She nodded her head wiping away the tears that were falling down her face. "I'll go get the doctor. Tell him you're awake." She leaned down, kissing Heyes' lips and then left for the doctor.
Heyes smiled and shot a look at Kid. "Got yourself a pretty one there."
Confused, Kid looked at him.
"The girl that just left," Heyes said slowly. "Just want to know how you got the damsel in distress when I'm the one that got hurt?" he chuckled lightly and then moaned with the movement.
"Heyes, that was Laurie," Kid stated.
"Yeah, I got her name," he replied looking at his partner like he was the one with the bump on the head.
"You're wife," Kid said slowly.
"Wife!" Heyes exclaimed just as Laurie and the Doctor arrived back at the room. "I'm not married!" His hands flew to his head as it throbbed from the yelling.
Laurie froze in the doorway.
The doctor, a middle age man with graying hair continued in. "Ah, the patient is awake," he said. "Let's have a look at you Mr. Smith." As he started to examine Heyes, he turned to the blond man, "Anything I should know about Mr. Jones?"
"No," Kid said still bewildered by Heyes' reaction. "He just woke up." He observed Laurie still standing in the doorway.
"Mrs. Smith," the doctor said. "Will you please close the door, I would like to give your husband a once over."
Confusion spread across Heyes' face as his eyes drifted from Kid, to Laurie and then the Doctor.
She closed the door but didn't move into the room.
"Well, it looks like the gash is healing," the doctor reported. "It's going to take awhile." The doctor looked at Heyes and smiled, "Had a mighty bad bump on your head son. Wasn't so sure you were going to make it." The doctor stood up, "Take it easy and rest. I want you to try to eat. Start with soup or broth. Once you can keep that down, you can move on to solids. Your head's going to hurt for a while and you're probably going to get dizzy. Take it slow and you should be alright." Picking up his bag and heading towards the door, he tipped his hat at Laurie.
Kid followed the doctor and quietly asked, "Doc, this lump on his head. Can that cause him to forget?"
"Oh sure," the doctor replied. "Head getting hit that hard; can't believe it didn't split open." He looked at the man, tilting his head slightly, "Mr. Smith having trouble remembering things?"
"He doesn't remember me," Laurie said meekly with tears in her eyes.
"He doesn't," the doctor started then stopped. He turned back to the patient, walking over to him. "Mr. Smith," Heyes looked up at him. "Do you know who this young lady is?"
He smiled remembering what Kid called her, "Laurie."
The doctor nodded and waited. "Her last name?"
He studied her, lightly huffing, then shrugging his shoulders. "Kid?"
Staring at him, the partner with the blond hair quickly replied, "Smith," hoping the doctor assumed "Kid" was a guess at her last name.
Turning to Laurie, the doctor asked, "How long have you two been married?"
"Joshua and I have been married for almost a year and a half," she smiled sadly.
"Hmm," the Doctor said. "Mr. Smith, do you know who this man is?"
Heyes' head hurt and all this thinking was making it worse. Smith, why was he calling him Smith? His brow creased, trying to figure out why Kid used different aliases. "He's my cousin," he said buying a little time as he tried to remember what the doctor had called him. "Jones," he stated, questioning his response.
"First name?" the Doctor asked.
Laurie jumped in as though she didn't hear the doctor's question. "Thaddeus, at least he remembers you."
Smiling, Heyes replied to the doctor, "Thaddeus."
"Do you know what town you're in?"
"Jackson?" he responded.
Concern was etched on Kid's face as he folded his arms across his chest.
The Doctor looked at him.
"We haven't been back to Jackson in three years."
"Ah," the he said. "That can explain why Mr. Smith doesn't remember Mrs. Smith. Seems his brain thinks the past three years haven't happened."
Laurie looked horrified.
The doctor patted her hand, "Don't worry dear, it can happen when the brain gets knocked around like his did."
"Will he ever remember?" she asked.
"Don't really know. Some people do, some don't," he answered. "You never know what the brain is going to do."
"Is there something we can do?" Kid inquired.
"Well it seems to help if you talk to the patient about what has happened with them over the time they forgot. If that doesn't help, when he is well enough to travel, take him to places he has been in the last three years," the Doctor explained. As he was leaving, he patted Laurie on the shoulder, "Don't give up hope. He just woke up; he could remember everything in a couple of hours. I'm sorry I can't tell you more, just that I don't know."
Laurie smiled tightly at the doctor as he left, closing the door behind him.
"Smith and Jones," Heyes said sounding sarcastic as he looked at Kid. "You couldn't come up with better names then that!"
Kid took a deep breath in and let it out sighing. He sat in the chair next to the bed figuring he had a lot to talk to his partner about.
"I'll go get Heyes some broth, and some food for you," Laurie stated and left the room.
As the door closed Heyes smacked Kid's arm. "Gotta hand it to you Kid. You find the prettiest women. Doesn't even look like a saloon girl. One, thing," he asked, "Do you think it's such a good idea letting her know who we are?"
Relieved that Laurie wasn't in the room to hear the comment, blue eyes looked directly in brown eyes. "Heyes, she's not a saloon girl. She's your wife."
Heyes rolled his eyes, "She's not my wife." Smiling, Heyes looked around the room. "Okay, who put you up to this, Wheat? Kyle? You guys in the closet. Come on out. I know I drank too much last night and I know I yelled at ya, but the jokes over."
With a tray in her hand, Laurie stood at the door and wondered if she should walk in or just walk away; quietly opened the door.
"Heyes," Kid said holding up Heyes' left hand so he could see his wedding ring. "You're married. Laurie is your wife."
Heyes looked at the ring and his eyes turned black. Yanking off the ring he yelled, "I'm not married." He threw the ring across the room just missing Laurie.
She stood there for a moment attempting to blink back the tears. Taking a deep breath she walked over to the bed and set the tray down on the nightstand. “There's some broth for Heyes and I got you a sandwich." She looked at Heyes and meekly asked, "Would you like some pillows to prop you up?"
He scowled and tried shaking his head at her but the slight movement sent waves of pain shooting through his head.
Laurie backed away, sinking into the wall.
Checking the tray, Kid noticed there wasn't any food for her. Standing up he walked over to her. Reaching out, he gently rubbed her arms. "There’s nothing for you?" he asked with concern in his voice.
"I'm not hungry," she whispered trying not to cry.
"You still need to eat."
She shook her head and wiped her eyes as she stared at his chest.
Kid lifted her chin with his fingers so he could see her eyes. "I'll talk to him," he said quietly. "I'm sure he'll remember when his head clears." Smiling at her, he gently pulled her into a hug. "You're exhausted. Go lie down in my room. I'll remind him how lucky he is to have you." He held Laurie tight for a few moments and then loosened his grip. Stepping back he gazed into her eyes, "Go lie down and rest. It will all be better when you wake up."
Laurie finally nodded and walked into the adjoining room. She lay down on the bed and cried.
The partners ate their food in silence. Kid was trying to figure out what to do to get Heyes to remember the last three years and Heyes was trying to figure out the angle of the joke. When he had finished his broth, Heyes swung his legs over the side of the bed.
"What are yadoin’?" Kid asked.
"Getting up," Heyes firmly stated.
"The doc said to take it easy," Kid scolded.
"I'm fine," Heyes growled.
"Heyes, you're not fine! You think it's three years ago!" The blond man ranted, throwing his hands in the air. "Why do you think we're in Jackson?"
"Cause that's where we're meeting the gang to divide the haul from the Merchant Bank," he said through gritted teeth.
"Heyes we haven't robbed a bank in almost three years!!" Kid yelled and then lowered his voice. "We've gone straight."
The brown haired man laughed, "Now I know you're trying to pull something over on me. The Devil's Hole Gang’s going straight!" He laughed harder and then moaned as he put his hands up to his head. "That must have been the good whiskey last night!" Chuckling again, he winced from the pain.
"Not the Devil's Hole Gang," Kid said getting extremely frustrated. Pointing first to his partner and then to himself he said, "You and me! We've gone straight."
"Okay," Heyes said trying not to laugh. "If we've gone straight, answer me this one question, why? Why? It's an easy question. Why! Why would we go straight if we have ten thousand dollars on our heads? Why?"
Kid closed his eyes for a moment. This wasn't going well. "Look Heyes, I know this is gonna sound crazy, but we're goin’ for amnesty." Heyes opened his mouth to say something when Kid put his hand up. "Let me finish. We're goin’ for amnesty. Lom Trevors is in touch with the Governor of the Wyoming Territories and is tryin’to get us amnesty."
"Lom Trevors. You mean Sheriff Lom Trevors of Porterville is talking to the Governor to get us amnesty," he could barely control his laughter. "Why would he do that?"
Kid put his hands on his hips and looked Heyes straight in the eyes, "Cause you asked!"
Brown eyes examined Kid's face and saw how serious he was. "You're pulling my leg Kid."
Kid shook his head.
He sat for a minute contemplating what his partner said. He remembered pulling the bank job. The Bryant pump, the nitro. The satisfaction of breaking into the Pierce and Hamilton '78! "Prove it's three years later," he stated defiantly.
Kid thought about it for a minute, "I'll be right back."
Five minutes later Kid walked back into the room.
Heyes was leaning against the wall looking out the window.
Kid handed him the paper.
He looked at the date and then threw the paper on the bed. "Means nothing," he stated as he continued to gaze out the window. "You could have had this printed up."
"Heyes," Kid pleaded.
Heyes wheeled around and glared at his partner. His eyes were black and his lips were thin. He looked Kid dead in the eyes with the cold stare that would cause anyone to back down. "I don't care what the date is, or what you said I've done for three years. I'm Hannibal Heyes and I'm the leader of the Devil's Hole Gang. If you want out, that's your decision not mine."
Kid swallowed hard, he had seen Heyes give this look before but he had never been on the receiving end of it. He knew Heyes meant business and he knew everyone on the receiving end of this look always backed down. He decided, for the time being he would back down too. "I ain'tleavin' ya Heyes," he stated. "I just want you to know what you'll be given up if you go back."
Laurie heard the talking. Getting up, she stood by the door between the rooms listening.
"I'm not giving up anything," he asserted through lips that barely moved, still glaring at his partner.
"Laurie?" Kid said not realizing she was at the door listening.
"You can have the whore if you want," Heyes declared. "Just remember women aren't allowed in the Hole no matter how pretty they are."
"She's your wife!" Kid bellowed.
"She's not my wife!" he shot back just as he saw Laurie standing in the doorway. He grabbed her wrist pulling her into the room; she winced. Lifting her hand up, he looked at the ring. "Nice touch, very convincing." Reaching over into his jacket pocket he pulled out a pile of bills. "How much does he owe yasweety?"
Laurie stood looking at him but didn't answer.
"How much?" His voice got louder.
"Nothing," she said softly.
Glaring at her, he threw her wrist away.
She walked over to where he had thrown his ring earlier and bent down to pick it up. Quietly she took off her heart necklace, carefully placing the ring on it and then put it around her neck again. She stood looking at the man she loved but not recognizing him. His posture, his demeanor, everything about him was different. She hoped and prayed with a little time and sleep, he would once again be the man she loved.
Kid watched Heyes begin to pace. He could see the stress on his face. "Heyes," he said calmly. "I really think you need to rest. I'm here. I'll take the watch."
Heyes snickered, "You said we're going for amnesty. Why do you need to take the watch?"
"Because we're still wanted," the blond man stated firmly. "We don't have the amnesty and right now I don't think you’re in any condition to ride if you have to. So I'll take the watch. You'll rest. When you wake up, we can discuss this more."
Heyes reluctantly gave in.
Heyes fell asleep almost as quick as his head hit the pillow. He slept for fourteen hours straight while Kid and Laurie sat watching him. Kid assured Laurie that once he woke up, he was sure Heyes would remember her. She wasn't so sure. While Kid sat with Heyes, Laurie lay on the bed in the next room watching through the open door.
Heyes woke up the next morning in the same mood he fell asleep; mean. He was getting angrier and angrier with his partner for insisting that things had changed, that they had changed. Kid was getting more and more frustrated with Heyes' inability to bend or even think about the things he was saying. Laurie sat quietly and watched. Heyes wouldn't even look at her. The only time he talked to her was when he wanted something. She brought him food, drinks and the paper. Each time, he dismissed her with little more than a wave of a hand.
Around dinnertime, Laurie walked into the room with a tray for Kid and Heyes. Once again Kid noticed there was nothing for her. "Laurie, you have to eat something," he said turning to look at her. She looked more frail and lost than he had ever seen her.
"I'm not hungry."
Walking over, Heyes stood inches away, looking down at her. "Maybe not hungry for food," he said in a menacing voice, placing his hand on her waist.
Looking into his eyes, she didn't recognize the man that was looking back at her.
Wrapping his arm around her, he pulled her close to him. His hand began to move up from her waist, groping her through her blouse. "Hungry for something else?" he whispered into her ear.
Laurie tried to relax into him, hoping the sensation would help him remember.
He smirked, "I knew you were nothing but a whore." He stepped back, "You certainly don't dress like a saloon girl although I can see the attraction to acting like a good girl. Probably make good money on the men that could never have one." He made a noise low in his throat, pulling her into a kiss, aggressively attacking her lips. Stepping back his eyes drifted over her body. "Maybe after I eat," he grunted, walking away.
Laurie's eyes went to the floor, trying not to cry as her lip began to tremble. Turning, she walked into the other room, closing the door behind her. She took two steps when the door flew open, crashing into the wall. Startled she turned to see Heyes standing in the door scowling at her.
"Leave the door open," he demanded. "I see everything that goes on in here understand."
Laurie nodded meekly and sat down on the bed.
"Heyes," Kid said in a low voice. "How can you treat Laurie like that? Even if you don't remember her, she has been here with you, taking care of you since the accident."
"Kid, don't get started again," Heyes said rolling his eyes.
"Again! I'm not gonna stop until you remember the best thing that ever happened to you," he shot back.
"Sounds to me like you're awfully interested in her," the brown-haired partner said in his leader voice.
"Heyes," the blond man said trying to control his growing anger and frustration. “I’m only interested in Laurie because she is your wife."
Heyes raised his eyebrow as an almost evil grin crept across his face. He walked into the adjacent room, grabbing Laurie roughly by the arm pulling her up. Dragging her behind him, he strode back into his room and threw her at his partner.
Kid caught her and gently placed a protective arm around her.
The dark haired man glowered at the two of them. "You're so concerned with her, you can have her first." His eyes grew darker. "She's already in your arms, go ahead, kiss her," he demanded.
Blue eyes turned icy, "Heyes, don't do this."
"She'll be well paid." he continued to glower at the pair, chuckling menacingly.
Kid dropped his arms from around Laurie, stepping away from her.
"Heyes, Laurie really is your wife."
"Han," she said sweetly.
Not missing a beat, Heyes backhanded her across the face and grabbed her hand as she reached up to touch her face. "Don't ever call me that," he seethed as he glared at her.
Kid stepped forward and Heyes drew on him, "You gonna come between a man and his wife?" he said in his leader voice, never taking his eyes off of Laurie's.
Kid put his hand up in front of him.
"Kid," Laurie said, returning Heyes' stare. "He’s right, I'm his wife."
"See Kid, she knows her place," his eyes pierced hers.
"You're right, Laurie is your wife, but you shouldn't treat her like this," Kid pleaded.
Heyes smiled sadistically, twisting her wrist making her fall to her knees in front of him. Looking at his partner he stated, "Why would I have a wife that wouldn't do what a saloon girl would do?" His eyes drifted down to hers as he smiled.
Blue eyes glared at his partner and shook his head, "This isn't right."
Brown eyes glared back at him, "You keep telling me she my wife. Well if she's my wife, I expect her to fulfill her wifely duties."
"Laurie," Kid said looking down at her not knowing what to do.
"It's okay," she said as she looked up at Heyes.
"You eyeing my wife Kid?"
"I don't know what's gotten into you," he shouted. "But, I'm not gonna stand by and watch!" He stomped out of the door and slammed it.
Heyes looked down at Laurie, releasing her wrist. Cupping her chin, he lifted her head so he could look in her eyes. "You sorry Kid left?"
She shook her head no.
"Well then let’s see why I married you," he said, placing his gun on the table next to him.
Reaching up, Laurie unbuckled the gun belt, letting it fall to the floor as Heyes watched her every move. As she began to unbuckle his belt he put his hand on hers. "Maybe later," he smirked, walking away.
Laurie's hands hung in mid air for a moment as she took in what just happened. Standing up, she looked at his back.
He turned around to face her.
"You just wanted to know if you possessed me," she stated staring at him in disbelief. "It was nothing else. You wanted to prove to Kid and to me that you were the leader. That I was your property."
His eyes twinkled and the corner of his mouth twitched as she spoke.
Laurie paused for a moment and then stepping closer to him, she looked him directly in the eye. With an authoritative voice she announced, "Rest assured, I am Hannibal Heyes' woman and I will be Hannibal Heyes' woman until the day I die whether you discard me or not." She let what she had said sink in and then turned to walk away.
Reaching out, Heyes grabbed her arm, pulling her into a forceful kiss. It was long, it was hard, it was passionate but it wasn't the loving man she was kissing. It was a harden outlaw named Hannibal Heyes. Someone she didn't know, someone Kid didn't want to know but she still loved him. She would be his wife and hope and pray he would return to the gentle ex-outlaw she knew.
Heyes moved her to the bed as he devoured her lips, his hands roaming her body. As he broke the kiss, he looked her in the eyes as she did his. He could see the love; she could barely see him. He could see that she was willing; she could see the want, the desire, the fire. Reaching up, Laurie began unbuttoning his shirt. Heyes smiled and began kissing her neck.
Storming out of the room, Kid went directly to the saloon. He needed time to think, time to figure out how to get Heyes back. Even when they were robbing trains and banks, Heyes didn't act this way, not to him, not to any woman. Walking into the saloon, he headed directly to the bar, ordering himself a whiskey.
The bartender poured it and started walking away when Kid downed his glass in one gulp, asking for another. He repeated this action one more time and then slammed the glass down on the bar. Turning, he checked out the inside of the saloon. It was still early and therefore, still empty. He ordered himself one more whiskey; this time took it to the back corner table to sip. Damn, he thought to himself, if Heyes didn't snap out of it, he didn't know what to do. Heyes just wasn't Heyes. He wasn't even the outlaw. The only time Kid saw those eyes, heard that voice was when his partner was backed into a corner and then everyone knew to watch out. He slowly drank his whiskey and sat, dreading going back to the room. Wondering what he would find, but really not wanting to know.
Kid returned to find Heyes asleep. He quietly closed the door and walked over to the open door to the adjoining room. He looked at Laurie; she was washing her face in the basin. He walked over to her, stopping behind her.
"Oh," she gasped as she turned to see him standing there. "I didn't hear you come in," she said as she quickly rolled her sleeves down.
Reaching out, Kid caught her hand. Looking at her wrists he frowned. "Did he do this to you?"
Laurie eyes drifted to the floor.
"Did he give you these bruises?" he asked again, checking the other wrist.
Laurie stood still as Kid rolled her sleeve up to see a large bruise beginning to form on her arm.
She closed her eyes.
Kid gently lifted her chin so he could see her face and then tenderly ran his finger down her cheek. He pulled her into a hug, kissing the top of her head. "I'm sorry," was all he could get out.
Laurie held on tight, and quietly crying. After a moment she lifted her head and loosened her grip, "It's not your fault. You didn't do anything."
"I didn't stay. I didn't make him stop."
"I told you I was alright. I am his wife, even if he doesn't remember."
"I know, but I still shouldn't have left you with him."
"It wouldn't have stopped him."
"I'm sorry. I just wish I knew how to get through to him."
"Is this the way he used to be?"
Stepping back, Kid wiped Laurie's tears away. "No. He was never like this. I don't know why he's actin' like this now."
"Cause a horse kicked him in the head."
Kid chuckled lightly, "Yeah I guess you're right. I'll get the doctor to check him out again tomorrow, see if he has any ideas." Kid kissed her head again. "He can check you out too." He smiled slightly at her, "Why don't you get some sleep?"
"No you're not," he scolded. "You haven't been sleepin’, you haven't been eatin’. Soon I'm not gonna recognize you."
Leading her over to the bed he said, "Lie down and get some sleep. I'll stay with him."
"You need sleep too," she said as she looked up at him.
"I'll sleep in the room with him," he stated. "I don't want you in there alone with him right now."
Laurie smiled sadly and nodded.
Kid kissed her forehead, "Get some rest. Hopefully everything will be better tomorrow."
Laurie woke to movement in the other room. She blinked to focus her eyes trying to remember where she was. She saw Heyes in the other room sleeping. She rolled on her back. Looking at the ceiling she sighed. She had hoped it was just a bad dream.
Kid appeared in the doorway, lightly knocking on the door.
Laurie turned her head to see him walking in with a tray.
"Breakfast," he said quietly.
She opened her mouth but he shook her off.
With a stern expression on his face he proclaimed, "This is your breakfast. You will eat all of it."
Laurie looked at him with pleading eyes.
"Don't give me any of that and don't even think about bitin' your lip. That works with Heyes, not me. You need to eat and I brought you breakfast."
Smiling, she sat up. "Thank you."
"Don't mention it." He said and then added, "I stopped by the doctor's office and he'll be here in a little while. He said sleeping, headaches, dizziness, and even the meanness are all sighs of a bad concussion. He thinks Heyes needs to sleep and take it easy to get better."
"Oh sure," Laurie said sarcastically. "You tell him to stay in bed and relax. Don't think it will go over so well if I tell him."
Kid walked over and sat down on the edge of the bed. Picking up her hands, he held them. Quietly he said, "Maybe you should head for home."
Laurie shook her head no as she pursed her lips, trying to blink back her tears. "No. I have to be here if I can help."
Kid picked up her arm and looked at the bruises that were fully developed on her wrists. "Even if he hurts you?"
"He doesn't know what he is doing," she said quietly avoiding Kid's eyes. "It's my fault he's like this. If he hadn't pushed me out of the way of the horse, he wouldn't have been hurt. I just can't abandon him now."
"I'll be with him."
She turned and looked at Kid.
He could see the tears in her eyes.
"It's not the same. I have to stay." Laurie paused and then added, "I don't have a home if he's not there."
The doctor came and examined Heyes. He told him to stay in bed and not to rush things, his brain needed to heal. He took notice of the bruise on Laurie's face.
"Oh," she giggled, acting embarrassed. "It's my fault." She shrugged. "I leaned over to move Joshua's pillows just as he was rolling over. His elbow caught me right in the jaw." She put he hand up to cover the bruise. "It looks much worse than it feels. I actually forgot all about it."
The Doctor looked at her very skeptically, the bruise looked more like a handprint than a knock from an elbow but he had to believe what she told him. "I've had that happen to me a few times in my career," he joked. "A cool compress will help it heal." He shook Kid's and Heyes' hand and then left.
"Why did you tell him that?" Heyes looked at her suspiciously.
"Because I don't think he would take too kindly if I said you hit me. Most men don't approve of hitting women."
"So why protect me?"
"Because I don't think you know what you're doing," she said. There was a knock on the door of the adjacent room. Laurie went to answer it.
"Kid," Heyes motioned.
"It's okay," Laurie said turning towards Heyes. "I'm sure it's just the bath I ordered.
He tilted his head at her and motioned Kid to follow. "Next time tell me so I don't think it's something else."
She nodded and walked to the door.
Kid came back into the room and sighed.
Heyes watched him. "You've been cooped up in this room for almost a week. Why don't you go to the saloon and have a drink. Maybe play some poker," he told his partner. "My head is pounding. Maybe I should rest like the Doc said."
"That's the first smart thing you've said in two days," Kid grinned. "I'll just have a seat and you can rest."
"I'm not gonna rest with you staring at me," Heyes stated. "She’s gonna take a bath. I'm gonna lie down. Why not relax, maybe get some lady company."
Kid studied Heyes' face. He looked okay, but he did promise Laurie he wouldn't leave them alone. "Actually, it sounds like a good idea. I am getting’ tired of bein’ in this room. I'll just check with Laurie to see if she needs anythin’." He turned and walked to the adjacent door, peeking in. "I was thinkin’ of goin’ to the saloon for a little while. Heyes is going to rest," he stated and looked at her. "Is that okay with you?"
Laurie smiled at him and nodded, "That's fine. Go enjoy yourself. We'll be fine here."
"You sure?" he questioned.
"Yes," Laurie replied. "Go, my water is getting cold."
Kid nodded. Walked over picked up his hat and headed for the door. As he was leaving he said over his shoulder, "If you need anythin’, send someone to get me." He closed the door behind him.
"We'll be fine," Heyes stated as he walked over and locked the door.
Laurie gathered the things she need for her the bath. She closed the door between the rooms and began to unbutton her blouse.
With a loud bang, the door was thrown open and Heyes stormed in, gun drawn. "I said this door stays open. I see what is going on in here at all times," he barked, his eyes dark and glaring at her.
"I was just going to take my bath," she responded.
"Hmm," his eyes lit up. "I like the sound of that." Noticing the top few buttons on her blouse were undone he said, "Continue with what you were doing." He sat down in the chair, resting the hand with the gun in his lap.
She looked at him. He had almost sounded like the old Heyes when he was talking to Kid a few minutes ago but looking at him now, she knew it had just been an act.
"I'm waiting," he said waving the gun in the air as he grinned. "Maybe you need some help?"
Laurie stared into his eyes as she began unbuttoning her blouse again.
He smiled and leered at her.
When she was done getting undressed she took a step towards the bath.
"Ah ah," he smiled. He motioned for her to turn around and she did. He made a low guttural sound, "Oh, I think maybe a bath will do me some good." Standing up, he holstered his gun and stepped close to her. Leaning in, he whispered in her ear, "I think you need company."
Kid felt much better after getting out of the room and having a couple of drinks. Heyes actually sounded a little more like Heyes when he left. Hopefully the rest would do him good and he would be more himself when he woke up.
Kid opened the door to the room just as Heyes was walking back from the adjoining room buttoning his shirt. Kid noticed his wet slicked back hair and frowned. "You said you were going to rest," he said through gritted teeth.
"I found something more relaxing," he said smugly as he plopped himself on the bed.
"You didn't hurt her," Kid growled as he walked towards the room.
Heyes glanced through the door. "She's not dress yet," he smiled. "The water's not that cold...."
Kid stopped him with an icy stare. "Don't," was all he said as he glared at his partner.
Heyes smiled to himself.
"Laurie," Kid called out. "Can I come in?"
"I'm getting dressed," she responded. "I'll be out in a minute, no reason to worry."
"You know Heyes; you NEVER treated any woman like you're treatin’ Laurie." He turned and started to pace. "I don't think I want to stay in this partnership if you keep it up."
Heyes ran his hand through his hair. "You want to end our partnership?" he growled.
"Maybe," he shot back.
Laurie walked to the doorway but neither saw her standing there.
"Over a saloon girl! You want to throw it away!" he yelled.
"Heyes!" Kid yelled back and then they both ducked as a vase slammed into the wall shattering as it crashed to the floor.
Laurie glared at Heyes with such hurt in eyes. She thought about saying something but didn't.
"Laurie," Kid said with such compassion.
"Don't," she huffed out as she put her hand up to stop him dead in his tracks. She turned and glared back at Heyes with such venom in her eyes it stopped him as well. Not taking her eyes off of his she said, "Kid, you'll stay with Heyes. He's your partner and he needs his back watched now more than ever." She turned, stalking out of the room slamming the door behind her.
Kid's blood was boiling when he turned to his partner, "You had better go after her and make it right!"
Heyes turned away and didn't answer.
"Heyes," Kid said through gritted teeth.
"Give her some time." He paused as his eyes turned dark looking at his cousin. "Do you really think she will listen to anything I have to say to her right now? The way she looked at me? Huh? Do you?"
Kid's icy eyes met Heyes' and didn't back down. "You will make this right or it's over!"
He threw his hands in the air, "If she's that important to you, why aren't you married to her?"
"Because she's your wife. Because before you got kicked in the head she was everythin’ to you. You got kicked in the head because you were tryin’ to save her. Do you think if she meant nothin’ to you, you would try to save her? You're the brains of the gang think about it?" Kid turned and walked away trying to calm down. With his back to Heyes he quietly said, "Whether you want to believe me or not, she is your wife and you love her. Even if that wasn't true, you have never in your life treated another person as bad as you have treated her."
Heyes relaxed his stance a little and sighed. "Okay, I'll apologize to her." He turned and looked out the window, he saw Laurie sitting across the street on a bench. "I'll let her cool down first. You can watch her from here," he motioned to the window. "She's sitting on the bench across the street."
"It's dark out there, I'm going to go get her," Kid stated.
"Do you really think she'll want to talk to you so soon?" Heyes said as he watched her just sit. "She's near the street light, she'll be fine." Heyes turned and walked away from the window as blue eyes watched her. "I'm only doing this for you Kid."
Kid turned towards him. "What?"
"I'll apologize to her for you."
"She has a name, Laurie! Maybe if you use it you would remember her!”
"You keep saying I should remember her. Well maybe there's a reason I don't. Maybe I don't love her and maybe I don't want to be with her. Did you ever think of that?"
"You were laughin’ and waitin’ for her before the wagon came around the corner. She was across the street buyin’ you cigars and now you say maybe you don't remember because you don't want to be with her! Heyes, I'm thinkin' the only thing that's gonna straighten out that head of yours is if you get clobbered again!"
"You wanna clobber me? Huh Kid, is that it?"
"I wanna knock some sense into ya! Problem is Doc says you have to be careful till your brain heals or you could die. But I'm tellin' ya Heyes if you don't wise up, I don't care what the Doctor says!" Kid turned back and looked out the window. "Damn!" he cursed. "She's gone!" He turned and headed towards the door. Just as he reached it the door flung open.
Laurie burst in closing the door behind her. "Jack Packer and the Apache are here. We have to leave!" she exclaimed quietly.
"What?" Kid asked.
"Jack Packer, how do you know Jack Packer?" Heyes questioned.
"Laurie saved you by diggin’ out the bullet he put in your shoulder the last time we saw him." Kid stated and then turned to Laurie. "Where did you see him and how do you know the Apache is with him?"
"They walked into the saloon a couple of minutes ago. Packer still has that ugly vest and the Apache was wearing the white hat with the feather in it."
"Did they see you?" Kid asked.
"No. They rode in from the far end of town and went right to the saloon," she replied. "I'll go get the horses and bring them to the back alley, you pack the bags. Some of my stuff is in the other room."
"You're not coming," Heyes stated.
"Yes I am," Laurie responded firmly.
"No..." Heyes started but was interrupted.
"If I don't go, they will wonder why my husband and his partner left at night without his wife. When Packer gets a look at me, it's a good chance he will put two and two together and come after you. It isn't certain he got a good look at me the last time, but it isn't certain he didn't. I'm not staying here so he can do what ever he wants to get information out of me. You want me to stay. Fine. Then you go and get your horses. Oh and by the way, if you've forgotten, the livery is directly across from the saloon!" She folded her arms and attempted to stare Heyes down.
Finally he gave her a small nod.
"Fine. Give me ten minutes and I'll meet you in the alley."
They met Laurie in the alley and headed out of town the back way. They rode in relative quiet as they put as much distance between them and the town.
Kid turned to look behind him, "Doesn't look like anyone is followin’ us."
"Thinking the same thing," Heyes replied.
"Couldn't they be back there and we just can't see them?" Laurie asked.
"No," Heyes stated. "They'll need torches so they can follow our trail. I think we're safe but we'll keep riding for a little while longer. We can stop for the night by the stream."
"You know where we're going?" Laurie asked.
Heyes chuckled, "I always know where we're going."
She waited a few minutes and when nothing else was offered she asked, "Mind if I know where we're going?"
"Well honey," he said, "I don't know where you're going but Kid and I are heading to Devil's Hole in the morning."
"Heyes, I don't know if that's such a good idea," Kid stated.
"It's the perfect idea," Heyes growled. "And don't worry; she can follow the stream into Salt River. If you're so worried, you can take her there yourself before going to Devil's Hole."
They rode the rest of the way to the stream in silence. When they set up their bedrolls, Laurie set hers up on the other side of the fire. Kid came over to talk to her.
"Hi," she said quietly as he walked over to her.
"Hi," Kid replied. "You don't have to sleep all the way over here. Come to the other side."
"No, I'm fine here," she stated. "Kid," she said quietly. "You need to stay with him. You have to take care of him."
"I can't just leave you," he said shaking his head.
"I'll be fine. Heyes is your partner and you have to watch his back," she looked at him as she pleaded. "He needs you, please."
Laurie sat watching the fire all night long. She could see Heyes sleeping through the flames. She smiled; the man who didn't sleep seemed to be sleeping a whole lot right now. She silently wished he would wake up and remember everything. She wished things could go back the way they were. She even wished that she could trade places with him; let her not remember. Unfortunately, when the sun came up and Heyes woke up, nothing had changed.
Heyes rolled his bedroll up and saddled his horse. Kid did the same and then walked over to Laurie, "I don't want to leave you here."
"You have to. You have to stay with Heyes and take care of him," she replied quietly.
"He can make it to Devil's Hole without me," Kid said standing close to Laurie so only she could hear what he was saying.
"And the way he's acting, do you really think he'll be welcome without you?"
"If we leave now, I can get you to Salt River and then try to catch up to him."
“Thank you for your concern. I've been on my own before, I'll be fine," she said reaching out and squeezing his arm.
"But..." was all he got out before being interrupted.
"He's your partner. He needs you to watch his back. I'll be fine," she smiled sadly. Reaching up, she kissed his cheek. "I promise. Now go."
Kid closed his eyes for a moment and shook his head. He didn't want to leave her by herself, but he knew she was right. He smiled sadly at her. "Just follow the stream. You should be in Salt River before it's dark."
Laurie nodded afraid to speak as tears welled in her eyes.
"You can take the train to Porterville and then catch the stage to Small Falls."
She smiled tightly and nodded.
Kid pulled her into a hug, "I'm sorry. I'll do everythin’ I can to help him remember," he said as tears started to fill his eyes. They hugged for another minute and then broke apart. "We'll wait until you're ready to go."
Laurie shook her head. "I'm going to stay here for a little while. You go ahead." She tried pasting a smile on her face. Turning towards Heyes, she walked g over to him and pulled something out of her pocket. "Here," she said quietly as she handed it to him. "This belongs to you." She placed the heart necklace with his wedding ring in his hand.
He looked down at it and tried to hand it back.
Laurie shook her head no. "It belongs to you."
"Well if I gave it to you then it's yours." He tried to hand it back to her again but she still wouldn't take it.
"It's silver. You can sell it and get some money."
He held it out for her again and she still refused.
"No, it's your heart," she forced a smile. "When you gave it to me you said you were giving me your heart. You said as long as I wore the necklace, I would be yours; that I have your heart. That's not true anymore so I'm giving it back to you. I can't sell it, it's your heart." Tears stared to flow down her face. "You better get going." She paused and looked into Heyes' eyes. "I love you Hannibal Heyes and always will. Please take care of yourself and listen to Kid." She turned and walked away before Heyes had a chance to reply.
Heyes looked at the necklace and ring before shoving them into his pocket. "Let's ride Kid," he said and mounted his horse.
Heyes and Kid made it to deadline point going into Devil's Hole just as the sun was setting. "Heyes," Kid said as they pulled their horses to a stop. "You may not remember it, but it's been almost three years since you've been the leader. You might not be welcome back."
"Well then," Heyes said with a smile on his face but a menacing tone in his voice, "we'll just have to show them how glad they are to have us back." He lifted his gun to the air and with three shots they started into the compound.
Rounding the bend they heard a click of a gun being cocked. "Howdy Heyes, Kid," the amicable voice behind them said.
Turning slightly they said, "Howdy Kyle."
"What brings you back here?" Kyle asked.
"Business," Heyes responded in a somewhat threatening voice.
"Well, you know the rules, I'll need your guns," Kyle started.
"Don't think that's happening, Kyle," Heyes stated as he stared at the man, his eyes turning dark.
Kyle swallowed hard. "But, Heyes," his voice trembled.
"Kyle, Heyes and I are gonna keep our guns tonight," Kid said as his icy stare completely unnerved the man.
Kyle nodded nervously.
Heyes and Kid continued towards the compound with Kyle following. They dismounted in the main compound just as everyone came out to see who had arrived.
Wheat walked out of the leader's cabin and over to greet them. Noticing their guns he stated, "Kyle, you're supposed to take their guns!"
"Kid and I decided we wanted to keep them tonight," Heyes said firmly.
"Rules are rules Heyes," Wheat started and found himself looking at the barrel of Heyes' gun. His eyes bulged as he swallowed hard.
"Anyone else want to tell Kid and me about rules," he asked in his leader voice. He glanced around not moving the barrel of his gun away from Wheat's face. "Didn't think so." He smiled and lowered his gun. "So guess you're all wondering why me and Kid are here," he said as he paced around glaring at the men, his gun still in his hand. "Well boys, we're here to tell ya, we're back." There was mumbling throughout the men.
"Back?" Wheat asked cautiously.
"That's right!" Heyes stated, "We're back. Decided we're gonna be the leaders of the Devil's Hole Gang again."
"But what ‘bout your amnesty and Laurie?" Kyle asked innocently.
"There is no amnesty," Heyes growled.
"But Laurie?" Kyle repeated.
Heyes raised his gun and looked at Kyle, "That name will not be brought up around here again."
Kyle took a step back and nodded.
"Good," he smiled. "Now that we got that cleared up, think I'll go check out home." Heyes walked towards the leader's cabin.
"Um Heyes," Wheat said. "I'm the leader of the gang now."
Heyes stopped and turned on his heels placing his gun an inch away from Wheat's face, this time with it already cocked. "Thought we had that cleared up already Wheat. I'm back; I'm the leader. If you have anything in the cabin, you have five minutes to clear it out. The cabin's for me and Kid!" He paused and added, "Got a problem with that?"
Wheat shook his head.
Heyes raised his voice and turned towards the other men, "Any of you got a problem with me and Kid being back?"
"No", "Nope", "Nah", was heard from the men.
Heyes nodded and smiled.
"Good to have you back Heyes, Kid," Kyle said cheerfully.
"Good to be back Kyle," he said and tipped his hat with the barrel of his gun. "See Kid," he said as they walked towards the cabin, "Nothing to worry about. It's good to have us back!" He patted Kid's back, "Let's go home."
The next day, Kid woke up early and went to the bunkhouse to see the gang. Walking in the door, all eyes turned to follow him. He walked over to the coffee and poured himself a cup. He turned and looked at gang. "Mornin' boys," he said lifting his mug in their direction.
"Mornin' Kid," they replied.
He looked around again and took a breath. "I'm sure you're wonderin’ why me and Heyes are back."
They all nodded. "Yeah", "Ah huh", "Yep", they responded.
"Well," Kid said drawing out the word. "See ‘bout a week ago, Heyes pushed Laurie out of the way of a runaway wagon. He saved Laurie but he got kicked in the head by the horse."
"That had t' hurt," Lobo said.
The men nodded in agreement.
"It did," Kid continued. "Heyes was out cold for three days. When he woke up, he thought it was three years ago."
"Three years ago?" Wheat said.
Kid nodded. "Doc said he has a bad concussion."
"That's not all he's got," Wheat said under his breath.
"Wheat," Kid warned.
"Just sayin'," Wheat started only to be interrupted by Kid.
"Just sayin' nothin'," the blond leader gruffly stated. "As long as we're here, Heyes is the leader and I'm gonna back him up." He turned his icy blue eyes on the boys. "Think it's best to warn ya, if ya didn't figure it out last night, Heyes is in a real foul mood."
"Kinda picked that up when he drew on Wheat," Lobo stated.
The others nodded.
"Yeah, well it's best to try to stay on his good side so it don't happen again," Kid said.
"Kid," Kyle asked hesitantly, "Where's Laurie?"
"I wanted to talk to you ‘bout that Kyle," Kid said and put his arm around Kyle's shoulder, walking him towards the door. Quietly he said, "Laurie's camped down around the fork in the path and the stream. I want you to go down, get her and bring her here."
Kyle looked at Kid.
"I want you to leave now and I don't want you to tell anyone."
"What should I say to her Kid?" he asked.
Kid thought for a minute. "Make it look like you were just passin' by. Don't tell her me and Heyes are here. Tell her we left. Ask her to come back with you, I don't know, tell her it would be real nice if she came back and said hey and you know, maybe cooked a meal or two." Kid paused, "Just get her to come back with you and don't tell her I sent you or that we're still here."
"Heyes don't know you're tellin' me to git her do he?"
"I'll take care of Heyes."
Kyle gathered some things and headed out to find Laurie. Just as he was leaving Heyes walked out onto the porch. "Where's Kyle going?" he asked.
"I sent him to get some supplies," Kid stated as he walked up on the porch and into the cabin.
Heyes turned to look at him, "Supplies?"
"Yeah," Kid stated. "I checked the supply shack this morning and noticed we needed some things."
He raised an eyebrow at him as he scrutinized his partner’s face.
Kid huffed, "If yagotta know, I'm almost out of my gun oil and they don't have the kind I like. I was gonna go but Kyle said he would do it for me."
Heyes relaxed his gaze and smiled.
"I also told him to pick ya up some books cause there weren't none in the shack. Seems they burned them when they didn't feel like choppin' wood."
Heyes chuckled, "No need to get hot under the collar Kid. Just wondering why you only sent Kyle."
Kid snorted, "The shack is pretty much stocked, didn't think I needed to send more."
The sun was beginning to set when Kyle spotted Laurie's camp. He slowed his horse and watched her through the binoculars for a moment. He sat and thought for a minute and then steered his horse around so it looked like he was coming from town.
Laurie heard the approaching horse and picked up her rifle as she sat poking the fire.
Kyle rode slowly towards the camp. "Squze me ma'am," he said tipping his hat towards her.
Laurie looked up at the sound of the voice.
Kyle looked at her and blinked, "Laurie?' he exclaimed. "Laurie is that you?"
"Howdy Kyle," she said standing up and smiling at him.
He jumped off his horse and started running to her to give her a hug but stopped himself. "Laurie," he smiled and tipped his hat.
"Hey Kyle," she said smiling and laughing as tears formed in her eyes. It was so nice to see a friendly face. The smile slid off Laurie's face. "Kyle what brings you here?" she asked cautiously.
"Me, here?" he replied. He had been rehearsing what to say in his head since he left to find her. How he was gonna get her back to Devil's Hole. Kyle looked at her and tried to sound relaxed, "I was jest comin' from town and smelled the coffee." He smiled. "It smells real good," he said looking longingly at the pot. Just relax, keep your cool, you can do this, you're Kyle Murtry, he said to himself.
"Would you like a cup, Kyle," she asked.
She began to turn to pick up the pot.
"Laurie?" he said quietly.
She turned to look at him.
"Could I give you a hug? I mean its jes so nice t' see ya!"
Laurie giggled, "Oh course."
Kyle's face lit up and he stepped forward wrapping his arms around her.
"You're a sight for sore eyes!"
Kyle beamed and took the coffee Laurie offered.
"Kyle," she said looking at him. "You don't seem surprised to see me alone." She continued to look at him.
He felt her eyes on him as he shifted uncomfortably under her gaze.
"Kyle?" she said in suspicious tone. "You weren't in town were you?"
He looked down at the ground and kicked the dirt. "Ma'am," he replied quietly.
"Kyle, what's going on?"
He kicked the dirt again and sighed. "Heyes and Kid came in last night," he started and kicked the ground again, still not looking at her. "Kid said you was home. I was goin' t' town t' send ya a telegram." Kyle finally looked up at Laurie. "I jes wanted t' make sure your okay."
She smiled at him, "That's really sweet Kyle. Thank you. I'm fine."
"But your not home," he stated. "You're out here all by yourself. That ain't right. A lady like you by herself." His eyes lit up. "I got me an idea! How ‘bout if ya come back with me."
"I can't," she said, her face suddenly become sad.
Kyle looked at her and smiled, "Yeah you can. Don't ya remember Wheat said ya can come back anytime?"
"Wheat's not in charge right now," shesaid softly.
"No, Hh..." Kyle started and stopped. He frowned. "Oh, that's why."
Kyle twisted his face thinking for a minute and his eyes lit up again. "Heyes and Kid left this mornin' to see Big Jim Santana. Heard he was up at Bear Lake. Take ‘em three days to get ‘t ‘im. Even if they come right back, they be gone for," Kyle paused and Laurie could see him counting his fingers. "Six days for they's back." He smiled and nodded his head. "We'll stay here tonight and leave in the mornin'. Ya stay for a couple of days and ya never see ‘em."
Laurie shook her head, "Thank you for the offer Kyle but I don't think it's such a good idea."
He twisted his face and frowned.
"You don't know if the others would give me such a good welcome," Laurie explained.
"They would," Kyle said once again looking at the ground and kicking the dirt. "If'nya cooked for us."
She giggled, "Is that what this is about Kyle? You want me to cook for you?"
"Well," he said trying to look bashful. "Yeah. I'm sorry, jes, I'm real tired of Hank's cookin' and if he ain't then I am and I'm not good neither." He looked at her, "When you cooked it was heaven!"
Laurie laughed and looked into his eyes. "You sure Heyes will be gone for six days."
"Yep," Kyle said enthusiastically as he vigorously nodded his head. "Or more!"
Laurie pondered for a moment. It was really nice having a friendly face to talk to and it was nice to be wanted. "Okay, I'll come back," she said. "But only for a day maybe two. We'll leave in the morning and I'll stay for a day or two, but that's it!"
Kyle couldn't contain his enthusiasm and reached over and hugged her.
Laurie and Kyle stayed the night by the stream. He kept waking up just to look over and check on her. She sat most of the night staring into the fire. He smiled to himself, just like Heyes.
In the morning, they got up and headed to Devil's Hole. Kyle kept repeating himself, saying over and over again that the gang would be glad to see her. Laurie decided it would be nice to feel wanted before leaving to be on her own. Contrary to what Kid thought was going to happen, she never intended to go back to Small Falls. She didn't think she could handle being in a place she used to call home with Heyes. She wasn't sure where she was going to go, she just knew that she was going to be by herself and never let anyone come close; she would never allow herself to hurt this much again.
As the sunset, Kyle shot three times in the air announcing their intentions of entering Devil's Hole. They rode slowly into the compound, Kyle in the lead and Laurie following. Arriving in the center of the compound, the gang was out to see who was there.
"Kyle," Wheat started and then noticed Laurie. "Have ya lost you're mind?" he exclaimed.
"What?" Kyle replied acting like he didn't know what Wheat was talking about.
"Laurie," Wheat said quietly.
"Wheat," Laurie said as she came up behind him starling him. "Is something wrong?"
"Oh nothin' ma'am," he replied as his eyes opened wide seeing Heyes and Kid walking their way. Stepping in front of her he whispered, "Stand behind me and look the other way."
Laurie opened her mouth to say something to Wheat but saw movement out of the corner of her eye. Turning she saw Heyes and Kid striding their way. "Kyle," she whined.
"Boys," Wheat said motioning to the gang around him. Lobo, Hank and Kyle stood behind Wheat and in front of Laurie.
"Boys," Heyes said as he walked up to the group with Kid a step behind and to the left of him. "Kyle," Heyes nodded in his direction. "Did you get what Kid sent you for?"
"Ah," Kyle stammered, "Yeah, Heyes."
"Kyle," Heyes said in his lead voice.
"Yeah Heyes," Kyle said meekly.
"There are two horses. Why?"
"Yes, Kyle. You left on one horse and came back with two," Heyes stated and then looked at the horse. He pursed his lips and his eyes grew dark. "Where is she?"
"Who?" Wheat said innocently.
Heyes turned and punched Wheat in the face sending him falling back into those standing behind him. "You know who!" Heyes growled.
He began to cock his arm again when Laurie stepped out from behind the group. She looked at him for a moment. "I'm sorry," she said to him. "I didn't realize you were here."
Heyes stormed towards Laurie, "Didn't realize!" he shouted getting very close to her.
Laurie stood her ground and prepared herself to take the hit she was sure was coming her way.
"Heyes it was my fault," Kyle stepped up before Heyes' hand came down. "I saw her and I asked her to come back with me."
Heyes titled his head towards him.
"Jes, she's such a good cook," Kyle said naively.
Heyes turned his glare on Kyle.
"Kyle, don't get yourself in trouble on my account," Laurie jumped in.
Heyes turned his glare on her.
"I kind of tricked Kyle into bringing me here. I'm sorry. I thought I saw you ride out and well; it was nice to see a friendly face. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to cause any problems. I'll leave," Laurie said turning to mount her horse.
Not wanting to get hit again, Wheat sighed and then coughed.
Heyes turned to look at him.
"It's getting dark. Maybe Laurie can stay here tonight?"
Heyes shot a look at Kid, "You're awfully quiet."
"You know how I feel," he stated calmly.
Heyes stared at his partner. Turning and walking back to the cabin he yelled over his shoulder, "She can stay until morning."
"Wheat you okay?" Kid asked in a stern voice but concern on his face.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Gonna take a lot more than a punch to hurt Wheat Carlson."
"I heard that Wheat," Heyes said from almost fifteen feet away. "I can arrange it."
The blood drained from Wheat's face as he looked at Kid.
"Don't go pushin' him. Not now," Kid quietly cautioned. "Kyle, you did good."
Kyle smiled ear to ear.
"Laurie I'm afraid you'll have to stay in the bunkhouse for now."
"No," Laurie interrupted.
Kid looked at her.
"I'm not staying in the bunkhouse."
"There isn't any place else for you..." he started before being interrupted.
"I'll stay out here," she stated defiantly.
"You're not gonna stay out here," he started to argue.
"Yes I am," she yelled at him. She quieted herself as she stepped closer to Kid, "It was very nice of you to send Kyle to get me. However, he still wants nothing to do with me. The rules of Devil's Hole say women aren't allowed. Therefore, I will stay out here. I am a grown woman and I can take care of myself." She turned and glared at the men standing around.
They all took a few steps away, trying to look like they weren't paying attention.
"Kid, if you give me any more trouble, I'm just going to get on my horse and ride out of here." She paused, "And I don't think you will be able to stand up to Heyes and all the other men here. They're gonna take his side. They have to worry about him and what he does much more than you. They know you're not going to kill them."
Kid groaned, "No they don't."
Laurie giggled, "Yes they do. You're not the one who got kicked in the head.” Reaching out her hand to touch his arm she continued, "I don't belong here. I appreciate you trying but it's over. He's made that perfectly clear. I'll stay out here and when the sun comes up, I'll leave."
"You're not goin’ home," Kid said studying her face.
Laurie glanced at the ground as she shook her head. "I don't have one anymore."
Kid pulled her into a hug and kissed the top of her head.
"Take care of him," was all Laurie said and then broke the hug.
Kid headed back to the leader's cabin. Walking in he saw Heyes sitting by the fire
with a bottle of whiskey in his hand. "See why women aren't allowed Kid," Heyes said as he threw back the shot of whiskey and poured himself another one. "Too much trouble." He downed the second glass of whiskey. "Don't go sending Kyle or anyone else to get her again." He turned his dark eyes on his partner, "I don't want to have to hurt you."
"Doc said not to be drinkin' till your headaches go away," he said ignoring Heyes' stare and what he said.
"What headaches?" Heyes growled corrosively.
"Ya might be able to fool the gang but I can see you wince and grab your head when you don't think anyone's lookin'," Kid stated sternly.
"I'm fine," he said through gritted teeth.
"If you're so fine, what the hell are we doin’ here and why the hell is Laurie sittin' outside by herself?" the blond man yelled. "Can you answer me? No you can't. You can't because you got your head cracked and you don't remember what's good for you!" Kid stalked to his bedroom and slammed the door behind him.
The noise rang through Heyes' head and he closed his eyes as he rested it in his hands. Damn, he thought to himself. The pounding has to stop! He sat for a few minutes and then walked over to the window and looked out.
Laurie had built a fire in the middle of the compound. She laid out her bedroll and was now propped up against the saddle she had taken off the horse, sitting there, by herself, poking the fire with a stick.
He looked at her and couldn't remember her but everyone else did. Everyone else said she was the best thing to happen to him. He watched her for a while, feeling more relaxed.
Kid walked back into the room, seeing Heyes sleeping in the chair he left the leader's cabin and headed to the bunkhouse. He stopped by Laurie and frowned. "You've made yourself comfortable," he said sounding upset.
She looked up at him. "Yes, I did."
"There's nothing I can do to get you to sleep in the bunkhouse tonight is there?"
"No," she stated. "Not you, or Wheat, or Hank or Lobo. Not Kyle who has come out and asked me at least ten times. No, I am staying here and as I told them, leave me alone. Heyes only decked Wheat; I saw the eyes he gave you. Your back was to him but," she paused, "Don't mess with him Kid. He's angry and he's hurt you had Kyle come and get me and yes he knows you sent him. Don't let him take it out on them, and don't let him feel any more betrayed by you. You're all he has. You're his family."
"You're his family…" Kid started but was cut off.
"No! He doesn't remember me and to be honest, I don't think he wants to," she fought to hold back the tears. "He won't call me by my name and he won't look in my eyes. He has stared at me, but he's looking through me. I'm not part of his family any more Kid. You're all he's got and you have to take care of him. That's your job. You take care of him and he takes care of you." She paused to let what she's said sink in.
He looked at her, he knew she was right.
"Now go, leave me alone. I don't want him to see you out here with me."
He nodded and started to turn away.
"I'll be gone at first light. Please take care of him."
He paused but didn't turn around. He didn't trust himself and his reaction. He could hear her voice tremble and wanted to reach out and soothe her but he knew he couldn't. He nodded his head and walked towards the bunkhouse.
Heyes was still sleeping in the chair when he began to have strange dreams. His head was pounding, who was making all the noise…Kid, stop pounding on the roof. What was that sound? Why did the room light up and then go dark? He just wanted to sleep in peace and quiet.
Heyes woke up to a loud crash of thunder. Startled he needed a minute to figure out where he was and then he jumped up from his chair, racing to the window; she wasn't there, she wasn't in the compound. He threw open the door and looked around as a bolt of lightening lit up the sky, another loud crash of thunder. His eyes frantically searched the compound; nothing. The skies had opened up and the rain was pouring down in buckets; where could she be? He continued to scan the compound and stopped on the bunkhouse. She probably went in there for cover. He grabbed his hat and ran out the door. Flinging the bunkhouse door open he stepped in, "Where is she?" he anxiously asked.
"What?" Wheat said turning away from the poker game.
"WE have to find HER!" Heyes yelled as he looked around the room.
The gang was concentrating on the poker game.
"Who?" Kyle asked.
"I only know of one woman that's here Kyle." Heyes stated as he rummaged through the room.
The room lit up and another crash of thunder echoed through the compound.
“Laurie!” Kid yelled. “She’s not in the compound?
"Would I have come in here looking for her if she was?" Heyes yelled. He grabbed Kid's arm, "She's terrified of storms! We have to find her!"
The blond man stood up, "Okay, everyone spread out and look for Laurie."
They all ran out of the bunkhouse into the pouring rain and spread out, searching. Her saddle, bedroll and belongs were still in the middle of the compound. Heyes ran over to them and stopped, turning to look around, seeing if he could figure out where she would have gone. The gang was searching all the buildings and places she could take cover. His eyes fell upon the supply shack and he had a feeling in his gut; he took off running. He opened the door; it was pitch black inside.
The rain was coming down hard, making it hard to hear anything over the pounding on the roofs. Heyes stood peering in, trying to let his eyes adjust to the lack of light when he heard a small whimper. The sky lit up with another bolt of lightning as the thunder crash right on top. In the flash, he saw her; sitting in the corner with her knees drawn up tight, and her arms wrapped around them. He was by her side in a second, "Sshh," he said calmly as he reached her and put his hand on her back; she just rocked back and forth. "It's okay, I'm here," he said trying to be reassuring.
Laurie didn't respond. She continued rocking as she whimpered and tears ran down her face.
Kid stepped into the doorway. "You found her," he said relieved. "Is she okay?"
"I don't know," Heyes replied. "I think she's in shock." Heyes bent over and scooped her up. "She's soaked, we need to get her dry," he said as he headed back into the rain and made his way to the leader's cabin with Kid in tow followed by Wheat and Kyle. Heyes walked into the cabin and brought her directly into his room, placing her on the bed. "Get me the whiskey," he called out.
Kid brought him the bottle and a glass.
Heyes poured a glass and held it to her lips, "Drink this. It will warm you up."
Her eyes drifted to his.
"You're shaking. This will warm you up."
She put her hand up to the glass and opened her mouth taking a sip, shuddering as the brown liquid burned her mouth and then her throat as she swallowed it.
"Good," Heyes said quietly. "Have some more."
She looked hesitantly at him.
"I'm here it's okay. Drinks some more."
Laurie did what she was told and Heyes refilled the glass. Finishing the second glass, he took it and handed it to his partner. "I have it from here," he said.
Kid looked at him.
"I won't hurt her," he assured and Kid left the room with Heyes closing the door behind him. He looked at Laurie, she looked so young and frightened as she sat on the side of the bed. "We need to get you out of the clothes," he told her.
She sat looking back at him, lost and distant, not knowing what to do.
He put a reassuring hand on her, "It's okay, I'm here," he said in a soothing voice. He wrapped a blanket around her and helped her remove her wet clothes. Still whimpering every time it thundered, Heyes sat next to her and had her rest her head on his lap as he stroked her hair. After only a few minutes she fell asleep. Heyes carefully stood up, placing her head on the pillow, covering her with another blanket. He sat down in the chair across from the bed.
As the storm raged on outside, Heyes sat, his head pounding from the excitement of running around and watched her breathe; once again, he found calmness. Breathing with her, he found the pounding in his head begin to stop. After a while, she opened her eyes and looked at him. He smiled at her.
It took a few minutes for Laurie to realize where she was.
She looked at Heyes and then at herself. She held the blanket close to her blushing as she realized her blouse and skirt had been removed along with her shoes.
"Your clothes were wet," Heyes explained. "You were shivering," he said and Laurie thought she saw him blush. "I put the blanket over you before I took them off."
Laurie smiled at him and sat up on the side of the bed with the blanket covering her. "Thank you." She said meekly as she watched him fidget uncomfortably in the chair. "It's not like you haven't seen me before." She smiled tightly as her eyes drifted to the floor.
They sat there for a moment of awkward silence.
"I'm sorry," she said as her eyes looked up, searching for his. "Thank you for coming for me. I really appreciate it."
Heyes got up and walked over to the bed sitting down next to her. "I know how scared you get," he said quietly as he studied the woman sitting next to him.
Tears filled Laurie's eyes as she nodded her head. She shrugged, "No matter what I do, it still makes me feel like I'm six years old and lightning hit the house. I know I'm not, but I just can't change it." She wiped a tear that way falling down her face and then placed her hands in her lap. She sat staring at them and began to gently wring them as she spoke quietly. "I'm sorry for all the trouble, if I would have known you and Kid were here I wouldn't have come with Kyle. He said you left and well he said everyone would be happy if I was the cook. I guess," she paused. "I don't know what I guess…maybe he was just a friendly face. I wasn't thinking. I'll leave tomorrow and it won't happen again." The room was once again filled with an awkward silence and then Laurie looked at him. "You said you remembered I didn't like storms," she said with a little hope in her voice. "Do you remember anything else?"
Heyes shook his head. He placed his hand on Laurie's and opened his mouth to speak when a huge crash a thunder echoed through the cabin.
She screamed, jumped and began to shake as she closed her eyes tight.
"Sshh," Heyes said calmly as he squeezed her hands. "It's okay, I'm here."
Laurie stood up abruptly and turned to face him as she shook her head. "No, I have to get through this by myself. I don't need anybody to help me. I have to do this myself."
"But I'm here…"
"But you won't be next time," she stated flatly. "I had gotten use to Sam being with me." She sat down in the chair once occupied by Heyes. "He knew when a storm came to stay with me. He would protect me. Now he's with Walter and Doris and I'm all alone again. I have to deal with this on my own." A flash of lightning lit up the room followed by another boom of thunder. Laurie held herself as she rocked herself back and forth.
Heyes stood up and walked over to her.
"Please don't," she whimpered. "It will only make it harder the next storm."
He sat back down on the bed and quietly watched her as the storm passed. She continued to hold herself and rock herself as Heyes sat and watched her. He tried so hard to remember anything about her but he couldn't.
As the storm got further and further away Laurie began to relax a little. She took a deep breath and let it out. "I think it's stopped raining, I'll get dressed and go back outside." She said as she slowly stood up letting the blanket hit the floor.
Heyes looked at her and then diverted his eyes.
"I'm sure your clothes are still wet," he said as his eyes fixed on the closed door. "You should sleep in here."
"No, this is your room and the leader's cabin. I have caused you enough trouble as it is." She picked up her skirt that was draped on the dresser, "It's only damp. It will teach me to stay out of the rain."
Heyes stood up, "Please stay in my room. I'll sleep in the outer room."
"No," she said defiantly. "Can't do that." She turned around and put her blouse on.
Heyes rested his hand on her back.
"Please don't," she forcefully stated and she closed her eyes willing herself not to care.
He removed his hand.
She turned, opened the door and stepped out into the outer room. Kid, Wheat and Kyle were sitting in the chairs by the fire. Laurie gave them a sad smile and a little nod as she walked out the cabin door closing it behind her.
Heyes followed her to the bedroom door and watch her close the cabin door behind her.
"What the hell did you do to her this time?" Wheat yelled at Heyes.
"What?" He turned to glare at Wheat.
"She just walked out the cabin, what the hell did you do?" he repeated himself.
"Nothing," Heyes scowled at him.
"Yamusta done sumthin' Heyes. She was in the cabin and now she's not," Kyle said standing up.
"I didn't do anything," Heyes replied gruffly. "Not that it's any of your business what I do."
"Did ya hurt her again," Kyle said raising his voice as he walked towards Heyes. "I saw the bruises on her wrists. Did you do that again? Maybe try'n t' have your way with her?" Kyle's voice cracked.
"I didn't try to have my way with her," he said tersely. He walked over to the kitchen area and picked up a pot and threw it across the cabin.
Kid, Wheat and Kyle just stared at him.
"If you want to know what I did, I tried to calm her down and get her to stay in the room. She said no."
"Do you blame her?" Wheat scolded. "You told her she wasn't your wife. Do you really think she'd want to spend the night with you after that?"
Heyes wheeled around and sent daggers with his eyes towards the man as he put his hands on his hips. "I told her I would sleep out here," he said through gritted teeth. He stared at the three men and then whirled around going back into his room, slamming the door.
Kyle looked out the window at Laurie. "She's just sittin' out there on a log. It's cold and wet. She's gonna freeze." He turned to Kid, "Why'd you have me go git her?"
"I thought it would help, Kyle," Kid said quietly. "I was wrong."
"I gottagit her some blankets and things," Kyle said as he shook his head.
Kid placed his hand on Kyle's shoulder, "You're a good friend Kyle, but let me take care of this."
Kyle looked at him, nodded and then left with Wheat heading back to the bunkhouse.
Kid gathered some blankets and walked out to where Laurie was sitting and sat down next to her. "It's kinda cold, and wet out here."
"The rain soaked everything. I can't get the fire started again," she said matter-of-factly looking straight ahead.
"I can't get you to sleep in the cabin or the bunkhouse can I?"
"You could sleep in my room and Heyes wouldn't even have to know."
"You're as pigheaded as he is," Kid cursed under his breath. "Well," he said standing up and taking her hand. "Come on."
Laurie didn't move. "Kid."
"I'm not taking no for an answer."
"I can take care of myself."
"I know that, but I'm here so I'm gonna help. It's what I do."
She looked up at him.
He looked down at her and saw a child, young, frightened and all alone. "Please," he pleaded.
"I'm not goin' in the cabin or the bunkhouse," she said defiantly.
"Okay, I have another place." He gave her a pleading look. "It's startin’ to rain again. Everythin’ you own is soaked. You can't stay out here."
The rain started to come down a little harder and Laurie nodded.
"Good," Kid said leaning down to help her up.
She stood up and gathered her things, leaving the saddle behind.
"I'll put the saddle on the porch after I get you settled."
Kid motioned and Laurie followed to the supply shack. "It's not the best, but it's shelter. It'll keep you dry," he said as he stepped inside. He placed the blankets down and lit a lantern so he could see, Laurie stood in the doorway holding the rest of her things. Kid leaned over and started making a bed on the floor with the blankets. When he was satisfied he stood up. "It will keep you dry. Oh," he said picking something up and handing it to her. "I brought these for you to wear tonight."
Laurie looked at what was in her hands and held it in front of her.
Kid chuckled, "They're a little big but they're dry." He laughed again looking at a set of his long johns. "Okay, they’re gonna be huge on you but," he said pulling her into a hug, "they'll keep you warm."
"Kid…" Laurie started to say before being interrupted.
"I won't take no for an answer. They're clean and they'll keep you dry," he stated firmly. "I'll open this side window a little bit; if you need me just yell out. I'll leave the window open in my room so I can hear you. Okay."
She looked athim, she wanted so much for him to hold her to make it all better but she knew that wasn't possible. In the morning, she would ride out before anyone woke up. Laurie smiled sadly, "Thank you," she said and paused, afraid she would cry. Regaining her composure she started again, "Jed, thank you, for everything for tonight and for the past year and a half. Please stay with him, take care of him."
Realizing she was saying goodbye Kid pulled her into a hug. Kissing the top of her head he said, "I wish it could be different. I'll take care of him, I promise." The two held each other for a few minutes and then he said, "You're starting to shiver. You need to change. I'll have the window open if you need me." He kissed her head and left.
Laurie changed into Kid's long johns. She looked down at herself and started to laugh. She continued to laugh until it turned into tears. She lied down on the bed he had made and cried herself to sleep.
Heyes was sitting at the table with a bottle of whiskey when Kid walked back into the cabin.
He looked at Heyes.
Heyes glared at his partner as he downed the contents in his glass.
Kid stalked across the floor towards his room.
"Is she in the bunkhouse?" he asked staring at the glass in his hand.
"No she wouldn't go," Kid answered as he continued across the room.
"Where is she?"
"I made her a bed in the supply shack. She'll be warm and dry."
Waiting a beat, "I didn't hurt her," Heyes growled.
"I didn't say you did," Kid said as he stopped and turned to look at the partner he no longer knew.
"Kyle did." he stated as he stared at the table, pouring himself another drink.
"Kyle was worried about her."
Heyes closed his eyes and downed the whiskey.
Kid looked at him.
"So were you," he said calmly. He continued to look at the table and play with the glass. He poured himself another drink and stared at it.
"You remembered," Kid said quietly walking back towards Heyes.
He lifted the glass and drained all the brown liquid in it. He closed his eyes as the warmth of it burned his throat.
Kid studied him for a minute. "You remembered she was terrified of storms. You were terrified for her." Kid paused, watching his partner. "Do you remember anything else?"
Heyes poured another drink and swirled it in his glass.
"Heyes, do you?"
Heyes closed his eyes and shook his head no. He downed the drink and pushed himself away from the table placing the glass down. Standing up, he said quietly as he headed towards his room, "We'll talk about our next job in the morning."
Kid looked at his partner in disbelief. Just as Heyes reached the door of his room Kid called out, "You don't want to remember do you?"
Heyes took another step.
"Do you?" Kid's voice got louder. "Here I am worried about you. Laurie's worried about you. And you don't want to remember her, why? Why don't you want to remember?" Kid said demanding an answer.
Heyes stopped but didn't turn around.
Kid looked at his partner's back and then it came to him. "You don't want to remember because the way you treated her." Kid could see Heyes' body tense and knew he hit a nerve. "That's it isn't it? You're afraid to remember because of what you said to her, did to her."
Heyes didn't move but his hands balled into fists.
"That's just because you don't remember how wonderful she is and how much she loves you."
Heyes shook his head. With his back still to Kid he quietly said, "How could she, I'm an outlaw." Heyes paused, as his fists got tighter. "Anyway, if what you say is true, how could she still love me?" Heyes stepped into the room, slamming the door behind him.
Kid woke up to the sun streaming in his window. He had left the window and curtains open last night in case Laurie called out for him. It had rained most of the night but the few rumbles of thunder were in the distance so he figured they either didn't wake her or she didn't need him. He took in a deep breath and blew it out. One of the last things Heyes said to him last night was they would discuss their next job this morning. Kid lay staring at the ceiling trying to figure out how he was going to get his partner to remember they had gone straight. He really didn't want to go back to this lifestyle and he certainly didn't want to with Heyes acting the way he had been. Kid groaned and got up.
Walking into the main room of the cabin, he noticed Heyes' door still closed. Good, he sighed. Maybe some extra sleep would clear his head. He thought about last night and was certain Heyes was beginning to remember things. How much, he didn't know or if he would remember any more. If he did, would it be too late. Would Laurie be gone, would their chance at amnesty be gone forever. Kid shook his head, he needed Heyes back to do this type of worrying. His job was worrying about their safety not the matters of the world. That was Heyes' job.
Needing fresh air, Kid walked towards the door to the cabin. Stepping out on the porch the first thing he noticed was his long johns neatly folded on the chair next to the door. He frowned; Laurie was gone. He had had hoped to figure a way for her to stay. Hearing the approach of horses and men yelling he looked up.
Lobo and Hank rode up. "There was a mud slide last night," Lobo said.
Kid looked on with interest.
"Closed the pass to dead line point."
"Anybody hurt?" Kid asked.
"Nope," Hank stated.
"What's going on?" Heyes asked as he emerged from the cabin.
"Mudslide closed off the pass to dead line point," Kid replied.
"Anybody working on clearing it?" Heyes asked.
"Laurie," Lobo responded and then wished he hadn't when he saw the look on Heyes' face.
"What she's doing here?" he glared.
"She was leavin' when she ran into it," Lobo said cautiously.
Heyes frowned, "Well come on Kid let's go see what's happening." Looking at Lobo and Hank, "Give us your horses. You can saddle ours and bring ‘em to us."
Hank and Lobo nodded and dismounted.
Heyes and Kid rode to the area of the mudslide. As they approached they saw a pile of mud and debris three to four feet deep and about ten feet wide. Wheat and Kyle were working to move the debris with some of the boys on one side of the path. Laurie was on the far side trying to move a very large rock by herself.
Heyes rode up and dismounted near her, "What are you doing here?"
She continued to push on the rock, "What does it look like I'm doing, trying to move this rock!"
"You were supposed to leave," he stated sternly.
"I tried, I couldn't," Laurie said still working on the rock, not looking at him.
"You can't get your horse through?" he asked sounding very annoyed.
She stopped working on the rock and turned to meet Heyes' eyes. "No I can't! I tried! Magic started to sink and began to panic. I thought he was going to hurt himself." She stared at him for a moment and then turned her attention back to the rock.
Wheat walked up behind Heyes. "Got everything under control," he stated confidently.
"Really," he said sounding perturbed. "Then can you explain to me why she's trying to move this rock?"
Wheat chuckled lightly. "Laurie is..." Wheat started and stopped when he saw Heyes' lips get thin as his eyes grew dark.
"She's what?" he said through gritted teeth.
Wheat looked at Kid for help and then back to the leader with the black hat. "Heyes, you know," he stammered.
Brown eyes bore down on Wheat's making him take a step back.
"Well, you know," he chuckled nervously. "She's kind of stubborn?"
Heyes continued staring.
"Come on Heyes, you know she can be stubborn as a mule. I tried to get her to stop but she just wouldn't listen."
His lips were pencil thin and his eyes were black.
Wheat waited for the wrath that was sure to come his way when Heyes slowly turned his head and attention towards Laurie. He glared at her.
She continued to work on moving the rock.
He stalked over, roughly grabbing her arm pulling her behind him to the horse. "Get up," he demanded.
Laurie looked at him.
"I said get up, now."
She nodded and mounted the horse. He got on behind her, kicking the horse into a gallop. They rode quickly back to the leader's cabin. Heyes dismounted and waited for Laurie to do the same. As her feet hit the ground, he manhandled her into the cabin, slamming the door behind him.
"You're filthy. Go get cleaned up," he barked at her pointing towards the basin.
She looked at him as he glowered at her. She nodded and headed over towards the basin, filling it with water. "I didn't mean to do anything wrong," she said quietly as she washed her hands. "I was trying to help. I know I said I would be gone and I tried, really I did."
"Wheat told you to stop and you didn't," he stated coldly. "I can't have you going around ignoring my men."
Laurie’s hand dropped to her side and she turned towards him. "I just wanted to help. I didn't mean..."
"Of course you didn't mean," he bellowed as he charged towards her. "You never mean anything do you but all you have been is trouble." His eyes pierced hers in an icy stare.
Laurie stood looking at him, not moving.
"You're still filthy, change your clothes," Heyes demanded.
"My clothes are in my saddlebags on Magic out by the mudslide," she said meekly.
He stalked into his bedroom and grabbed a few things. Coming out of the room he threw a pair of his pants and one of his shirts at her. "Get cleaned up and then put those on. You can help by cooking for the men. They'll be hungry when they're done working." He stared at her again and she nodded. He turned; stalking out of the cabin slamming the door.
As he emerged from the cabin, Kid pulled up in front. Heyes glanced up at him.
"Thought I would come check on you two," the blond stated.
Heyes walked over to his horse. "She's getting cleaned up and then she's going to cook for the boys."
Blue eyes studied his face.
"I didn't hurt her. I told her to get cleaned up."
Kid looked from Heyes to the door of the cabin.
"You can go check if you want," he stated angrily as he turned his horse around. "I'm going back to the mudslide. Try to organize the mess Wheat is creating."
Kid looked back at Heyes and turned his horse around. "Right behind ya partner."
The men worked all day trying to clear the debris but as soon as they started to make progress, more slid down the mountain. They were dirty, tired and hungry when they made their way back to the compound.
"Mmmmmmmmm," Kyle hollered. "Sometin' sure do smell good!"
Wheat smelled the air. "Think it's comin’ from the bunkhouse!" he exclaimed as he ran towards the bunkhouse with the others following.
Heyes and Kid chuckled as they all tried to get through the door at once. "Hold it up boys," Kid yelled from behind the pack.
They stopped pushing and shoving and looked at him.
"Let's have some order before you go piling in."
"But it smells so dang good!" Kyle whined. The others agreed.
"Yeah, but Laurie likes everyone washed up before they eat," Kid stated.
"Laurie? Laurie's cookin'?" Lobo whooped!
The gaggle of men turned and headed toward the water troughs to get cleaned up. The partners chuckled at the sight. "She sure causes a commotion when she cooks," Heyes laughed.
Kid looked at him, "You don't remember do you?"
"You're in for a treat! Let’s get some before the boys come and trample us."
Kid opened the door to the bunkhouse; the aroma of warm biscuits and stew hit their noses. "Oh Laurie," Kid said walking up to her and kissing her cheek. "Have I told you I loved you lately?"
Heyes glared at Kid.
"I've missed your cookin'," he stated adoringly. Kid sniffed the air again, "Mmm it smells good!" Finally seeing the way Laurie was dressed he blinked twice and shook his head. Very confused he asked, "Are you wearin’ Heyes' clothes?"
Laurie giggled, "Yes, I was filthy and my clothes were still in my saddlebag. Heyes let me borrow some of his. Of course I had to make my own belt," she held up the end of the rope that was holding up the pants. She then lifted her hands up and turned around. "What you don't like my new fashion statement?" she giggle.
"You would look wonderful in a bag. But no," Kid smiled at her. "I think those clothes look better on Heyes."
Laurie looked at Heyes, her eyes dancing with delight. "Oh dear," she sighed. "Your partner just doesn't have your fashion sense."
Heyes stood and stared at her.
Turning back to Kid she said, "I guess I'll just change back to my clothes after dinner. I'll have to find my saddlebag first."
"I left them in the leader's cabin. And speaking of dinner," Kid smiled. "How about givin' Heyes and me some before the rest of the boys get here."
"That really wouldn't be fair now would it Jed," Laurie pretended to scold.
Kid gave her puppy dog eyes and pleaded, "Please. Heyes don’t remember how good a cook you are. If we wait for the boys, he might not even get any."
Laurie burst out laughing. "Kid you are incorrigible! Get a plate and I'll serve you."
Just as she was finishing serving Kid and Heyes, the bunkhouse door flew open.
"I've died and gone to heaven! Oh I can't believe anything could smell this good." Kyle cried out.
Holding his plate for Laurie to fill, Wheat licked his lips; "I can die a happy man after I eat this Laurie. You are an angel." Looking closely at her he asked, "What the devil are you wearin’?"
"Another one who doesn't like my fashion taste," she feigned being hurt.
"I like it jes fine," Kyle said smiling at her.
Wheat smacked him lightly, "Just cause you complement Laurie on what she's wearin, she aint gonna be your girl."
Kyle smile turned into a pout.
"Speak for yourself Wheat," Laurie said and kissed Kyle on the cheek.
He smiled ear to ear as his eyes lit up the room.
Laurie turned and walked across the room.
Heyes walked over to her and asserted, "You shouldn't encourage him."
Laurie noticed the stern look Heyes was giving her, "Kyle has always been real sweet with me."
Heyes' eyes grew dark.
"Oh," she sighed. "I'm not encouraging him. He's a friend who has always been nice to me." She paused and then added, "I thought you would have liked me showing Wheat up a little."
The rest of the evening they ate, laughed and extolled on Laurie the honor of being the only female member of the Devil's Hole Gang figuring this way, she could return anytime she wanted. Kyle reasoned that if she was a member of the gang being female didn't count.
After they were all stuffed and things were calming down a little, Laurie decided it was time to turn in for the night. As they gathered for a poker game,she slipped out and headed back to the supply shack. Remembering her saddlebag was in the leader's cabin she made a detour.
Walking into the cabin, Laurie spotted her saddlebag. She picked it up and was about to leave when she thought better of it. No one was in here; they were all in the bunkhouse playing poker. Deciding there was a lot more room to change in the cabin then the supply shack, she set her saddlebag down and rifled through it. Finding something clean and dry, she pulled it out. She looked down at her self and smiled, rolling her eyes she thought, what a sight! She had occasionally ‘borrowed’ one of Heyes' shirts when she was cold and they were together but she had never worn it out in public. She certainly never wore his pants. Sticking her nose into the collar, she breathed. It smelled like him. She closed her eyes tight and clenched her jaw, fighting back the emotions. Pulling herself together she unbuttoned the front of the shirt. As she was sliding it off her shoulders, the cabin door opened.
Heyes stepped in and stopped.
Laurie quickly pulled the shirt up and turned away, crossing her arms in front of her closing the shirt. "I'm sorry," she blurted out. "I didn't think you would be coming back so quickly. I just wanted to give you your clothes back."
Heyes closed the door behind him and walked up behind her wrapping his arm around her waist. Pulling her closed to him he whispered, "Don't stop on my account." He began raining kisses down her neck as his hand moved up and under the shirt.
"Mmmm," he gave her a low guttural moan. "This is what I'm hungry for." He continued to kiss her as he turned her around to face him. He slanted his mouth and took hers.
Laurie tried desperately not to react.
He lifted his head, "Playing hard to get today?" he said with a devilish laugh. "Not in my cabin." He pressed his lips hard to hers moving her over to the wall. When he broke the kiss, she looked at him and saw no one she knew. His hands continued to roam her body as he pressed himself hard against her. Taking both of her hands in his; he held them above her head with one hand, as he opened the shirt with the other and smiled.
She let out a whimper.
He let go of her hands and they dropped to her side.
She just looked at him.
He glared back at her. "You're here in the Hole. You do as I say, what I want." He leaned in again and captured her lips for his own, when she did not respond he stepped back. "You had no problem with me at the hotel," he said angrily. "You wanted it as much as I did then."
"I wanted my husband," she said barely above a whisper. "You're not him."
Heyes' breathing became heavy as he simmered. With his hands pressed against the wall on both sides of her, he leaned in within inches of her face and stopped. He ran his thumb over her lips. "You don't want this," he huffed out between breaths.
She sucked her lips in and ever so slightly shook her head.
His hand balled into a fist as he slammed it into the wall. "Get out," he seethed through gritted teeth. Laurie didn't move quickly enough so he bellowed, "Get out!" And hit the wall again with such force it shook the cabin.
Laurie grabbed her clothes and saddlebag as she ran out the door directly to the supply shack. Closing the door behind her, she sunk down on the floor and cried.
As soon as Laurie left, Heyes picked up the whiskey bottle and poured himself a drink. Finishing it in one gulp, he poured himself another and then another. In a short time he had gone through half the bottle. Beginning to feel the effects, he stumbled into his room and passed out.
Having a fitful night, he tossed and turned as images raced through his mind. He kept seeing Laurie smiling and laughing. He saw her looking lovingly at him and he saw blood, lots of blood. And then he would see and feel her as he made love to her. He woke up in the middle of the night. His head was pounding and he was sweating. He sat up, cradling his head in his hand and moaned.
Kid heard him wake and moan. He had been sleeping very lightly since coming back to the cabin. Walking into the cabin, he had been surprised to see Heyes' door open and then he saw the almost finished bottle of whiskey. He looked at his partner as he moved restlessly on his bed. Kid walked into the room, removed his boots and covered him with a quilt as Heyes mumbled in his sleep.
Kid got up and walked into Heyes' room handing him a cup of water. "Here," he said. "Have some water."
Heyes nodded and took the glass. "Bad headache?" Heyes moaned.
"I told you the Doc said to lay off the whiskey until the headaches stop."
Heyes stood up quickly and lost his balance, almost falling.
Kid grabbed him and helped steady him.
"I'm fine," he hissed.
"You're fine," Kid repeat. "You're fine!" Kid's voice got louder sounding indignant. "Of course you’re fine, you're Hannibal Heyes!"
"You got a problem?" Heyes bellowed.
"Yeah, I got a problem. My partner got kicked in the head by a horse and has been acting like a horse's behind ever since!"
Heyes glowered and tried focusing his eyes on Kid.
"Awe Heyes," Kid said sounding worried as he ran his hand through his hair. "You're gonna kill yourself if you don't take it easy. The Doc said you needed rest. No movement and no alcohol until the headaches stopped." Heyes wobbled and Kid steadied him again. "Come on let's get you back to bed," he said, helping him over to the bed. "Let's take the gun belt off this time. I remove your gun before but it can’t be comfortable lyin’ on the bullets." Kid hung the gun belt on the bedpost. "Now you want to tell me why you're tossing, turning and mumblin' in bed?"
Heyes looked up at Kid. "No idea," he lied. "Guess it's the whiskey," he finally said.
"Well here," Kid said getting another cup of water. "Drink this, maybe it will help."
Heyes took the water.
"Alright," he said taking the cup from his partner. "Let's try to get some sleep."
Heyes nodded and closed his eyes but a restful night did not come.
The next morning, Laurie waited for Heyes to leave the compound before leaving the supply shack. When she hadn't seen him all morning, she crept out and asked Lobo if he was already out by the mudslide.
He told her no, Kid said Heyes was sick and was sleeping in.
She nodded and asked how the clean up was doing.
He said slowly but they were getting making progress.
After he left, Laurie figured she would go to the bunkhouse and cook dinner for them again. She made chicken and potatoes and a pot of soup in case Heyes needed it. When she was done, she put the pots on the stove to stay warm and went back to the supply shack. She didn't want to take the chance of running into Heyes.
Mid-day Kid rode back into the compound. He first went to the leader's cabin to check on his partner and then headed over to the bunkhouse. When he didn't see Laurie there, he went to the supply shack. He knocked on the door.
She cautiously opened the door.
He looked at her and noticed the swollen eyes. "There you are," he said and smiled. "I was wondering what happened to you."
"You cooked a feast again and you came back in here?" he asked suspiciously.
"I'm just tired," she explained. "I got everything ready for the boys when they come back." Laurie paused and added; "Lobo said Heyes was sick so I also made a pot of soup. Is he okay?"
"Yeah," Kid sighed. "He had a bad night last night. Drank too much and didn't sleep well at all. He's just sleepin' it off I guess."
Laurie nodded, "Well the Doc said he needed extra sleep."
"Yeah," Kid took a breath in and blew it out. "You okay?"
He pulled her into a hug and kissed her head. "Well, get some rest then and if you need me, you know where I am.
Laurie did not want to be alone with Heyes though she knew she couldn't avoid him forever. She just figured she would do as much as she could to keep distance or people between them.
In the morning, the men got up and started to leave the compound. Kyle came over and knocked on the supply shack door.
She opened the door.
"Hey," Kyle said bashfully.
"Hey," Laurie replied and waited for Kyle to continue.
"I jes was wonderin' if you was gonna come out to the work area today?"
"I don't think so Kyle. It's probably better for me to stay out of the way."
"Oh," he said disappointed, looking down at the ground. Looking back up he smiled, "Dinner was real good last night."
"We waskinda disappointed you weren’t there."
"I was tired. I just wanted to get some rest."
"Oh," Kyle replied. "Are you gonna cook again?"
"I figured it's the least I could do."
Kyle smiled ear to ear, "I can't wait. It's the best part of my day!" He laughed a little and then the smile slipped off his face, "You gonna stay for dinner tonight?"
"I don't know..." Laurie began.
"Ya have to," Kyle whined. "It jes don't taste as good if ‘n your not there."
She smiled, "I'll try, okay."
Kyle smiled and tipped his hat then left.
Laurie cooked dinner once again. As she was preparing to head back to the shack, the boys arrived back at the compound. "All done," Wheat announced as they entered the bunkhouse.
"You're still here," Kyle said happily.
"I was just..." Laurie started.
"You ain't just nothin'," Wheat stated. "You're stayin’ to eat with us."
Laurie frowned slightly.
"You're part of the Devil's Hole Gang, you eat with us."
"I'm really not that hungry, I ate before," Laurie lied.
"But you gotta stay," Kyle pleaded.
Kid walked into the bunkhouse followed by Heyes.
Laurie tensed when she saw him.
"Smells great," Kid said as he walked over to Laurie and kissed her cheek.
"Sure does," Heyes said as glared at Kyle standing next to Laurie.
Piling food on his plate he stated, "Passage way is clear. You can leave in the morning."
She looked at him and smiled sadly as she swallowed hard. "Thank you." She nodded her head and tried to force a smile on her face. "Well, it looks like I'll have a long journey tomorrow; I think I'll turn in." She quickly left the bunkhouse before anyone was able to object. Closing the door behind her, she wiped away the tear that escaped her eyes and then headed quickly to the supply shack.
Heyes watched her as she left. "Well boys," he said with his plate in his hand. "Think I'll eat this over in the cabin and turn in."
Kid watched his partner watch Laurie. Not wanting a repeat performance from the other night, he figured he better go with him. As Heyes started to leave he said, "Wait up, think I'll head over to the cabin with you."
"Good," Heyes stated. "We can talk about our next job."
As the door closed behind the leaders, Wheat turned to the boys, "Never thought Heyes was so stupid."
"Heyes' ain't stupid," Kyle stated.
"Tellin' Laurie to leave like that," Wheat said smugly. "That's stupid."
"That's cause he got hisself a concush..., consomething..., you know his brain ain't right," Kyle stammered.
"You got that right," Wheat snorted.
"No," Kyle argued. "That's not what I meant. I mean he don't remember. He got kicked in the head by a horse."
"Take more than a horse kicking me in the head to forget Laurie," Wheat retorted. "Best damn thing that ever happened to him and he's pushin’ her away."
"He don't want her to go," Lobo stated.
"What?" Wheat looked at him like he was crazy.
"He don't want her to go," Lobo repeated. "All yagotta do is look at the way he looks at her and the way he glares at anyone talkin' to her to know he don't want her to go."
"Talkin' to her?" Kyle gulped.
"Yeah Kyle," Lobo laughed. "If looks could kill you wouldn't be standin' here talkin' now."
Kyle looked horrified as his eyes widen, "I was jesbein' friendly."
"Kyle everyone knows you fancy Laurie," Wheat said rolling his eyes.
"Don’t mean I'd try anythin' with her. She's Heyes' woman," Kyle stammered.
"Don't git your britches in a knot Kyle. We know that and Heyes don't care right now," Wheat said trying to sound reassuring.
"Well like I said, he does care," Lobo interjected.
"Then why did he tell her to leave?" Wheat asked sarcastically.
"Cause he don't know what else to do. He got the concussion and his brain's all jumbled up."
"Yeah, just what I said," Kyle stated puffing out his chest.
"Still say he's a dang fool," Wheat shot back.
"But it ain't his fault," Kyle smiled.
"Don't make no difference neither since she's leaving in the morning," Hank stated.
"We could try to stop her," Lobo said.
"I ain't getting’ a loaded gun pointed in my face again," Wheat exclaimed.
"How can we stop her?" Hank asked.
"A posse!" Kyle yelled out.
"What?" Wheat turned to Kyle, looking at him like he had two heads. "A posse? There aint no posses!"
"She don't know it," Kyle's eyes lit up.
"Kyle," Wheat shook his head. "Can't believe I'm asking...what are you thinkin’?
"Well if we's told her there was a posse out there, she wouldn't be able to leave. Remember last time they was here, she and Heyes had a fight and she wanted to leave. Heyes wouldn't let her cause there was a posse. Might try to use her to get in here." Kyle stood proud and yanked his pants up with both hands.
"Who'd a thought you listened," Wheat shook his head and chuckled. "Only problem is she's leaving at first light."
"Then we needs to stop her first," Kyle said.
"How?" Wheat asked.
"Well," Lobo said. "Hank and me got the watch. We can come racin' in before the suns up sayin' we saw a posse."
"Could work," Wheat grumbled. "What happens when Heyes finds out there ain’t no posse?"
"We just tell him they must have been passin' through," Lobo replied. "It will give us another day. Laurie ain’t gonna leave late in the day and anyway Heyes will make her stay just to make sure."
"Will buy us a day, maybe two if he's spooked," Wheat agreed. "Then what?"
"We'll jes come up with sometin' else to keep her here," Kyle state.
Wheat stared at him.
"Ya said she's the best thing that happened to Heyes. He'd try to help you if ya needed it."
Wheat groaned and reluctantly nodded his head.
Heyes and Kid entered the leader's cabin. They sat in relative quiet as they ate. Kid stealing looks at Heyes. "Are ya done checking me out?" Heyes asked angrily.
"What?" Kid replied trying to sound like he had no idea what his partner was talking about.
Brown eyes shot him a dirty look. "Don't play stupid with me Kid. I see you watching my every move. And don't think I didn't notice you following me over here. Since when do you leave a pile of food before you've had your fill?"
"I didn't follow you!" he started before Heyes turned his glare on him. "Fine, I just wanted to make sure you were okay."
"I'm fine," he grumbled as he clenched his jaw.
"Heyes we're not going through this again. I just didn't want to come back to what I did the other night."
"You don't have to be my mother," Heyes spit out.
"No I just have to be your partner. And as your partner, I watch your back." The two sat in silence eating again. Finally Kid said, "Look Heyes, I'm just worried. That horse really kicked you hard. We weren't sure you were gonna make it and now you're not listening to the doctor. You're doin’ too much. Then the other night, you drank and were so sick you stayed in bed for a day and a half." Kid stopped and sighed.
"Getting awful wordy these days," Heyes tried to lighten the mood, smiling at his cousin. "And since when did you ever do what the doctor told you?"
"Oh, how?" Heyes asked with an amused look on his facing knowing he had his cousin cornered.
"It just is," Kid mumbled as he played with the food on his plate.
Heyes chuckled, "I'm sorry Kid. I know you're just looking out for me. I'll try to listen, okay?"
Kid sat up and smiled, "That's all I wanted."
Heyes rolled his eyes and laughed.
Things were good between the partners the rest of the night. Almost like old times teasing each other, the banter back and forth. Kid thought maybe Heyes was coming out of it but he still hadn't heard his partner talk about Laurie or even say her name. Maybe things were getting back to the way they were, three years ago.
They talked for a while, Heyes asking Kid what they should do first; rob a bank or a train.
Kid humored him, asking all the important questions and generally being Heyes' sounding board when all he could think was, wake up Heyes, remember! Finally tired of the conversation he looked over at his partner and noticed he was looking pale, "Heyes I think I'll call it a night."
"It's a little early isn't it?" he asked and then looking at Kid he realized what he was doing. "Yeah, maybe your right. I could use some extra sleep."
"See ya in the morning Kid."
"See ya in the mornin' Heyes," he replied and went to his room.
Heyes closed the door and almost fell on the bed he was so tired. Getting undressed and under the covers he hoped for quiet peaceful sleep. Unfortunately, for the third straight night Heyes had dreams and visions of Laurie and blood. Here in the Hole, in some town, of a house, of Laurie's smile; another night of anxiety for Heyes.
Laurie didn't sleep well that night either. She knew she had to leave in the morning. Heyes made it perfectly clear she was not wanted. She packed her saddlebag and picked up his clothes. She had run out of the cabin still dressed in them the other night and hadn't dare go near the cabin since then. She rubbed her cheek on his shirt and then sat for a moment collecting herself. She took a deep breath and let it out. It was time to go; time for her to be alone again in life. She stood tall, straightened herself and walked out the door. The sun was just rising above the mountain and the ground was covered by dew. It was beautiful she thought. She walked over to the cabin, laid Heyes' clothes on the chair and turned to walk away. As she stepped off the porch, the cabin door open. Startled she turned around to see Heyes standing in the doorway. "Oh," she gasped. "I didn't mean to disturb you." Motioning to the clothes on the chair. "I just wanted to return your clothes before I left."
Heyes opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by Lobo and Hank riding quickly into the compound. "Posse," Lobo yelled. Seeing Heyes he rode over to him. "Hank and me saw a posse out just past dead line point."
"You sure?" Heyes asked.
"Sure looked it," Lobo continued. "‘bout ten guys. They was riding east to west."
"Anyone out there?" Heyes asked.
"Nope," Lobo responded. "Everyone's accounted for."
"Who's watching the pass?" Heyes questioned.
"We was but Kyle and Walt took over," Hank stated. "We were just gettin' ready to leave when we saw ‘em."
Kid walked out on the porch pulling his shirt on, "What's all the commotion?"
"Lobo and Hank say they saw a posse riding out by the pass," Heyes explained. Then looking at Laurie he said, "Well guess you're going to have to stay until we make sure the posse's gone."
"I'm not wanted," Laurie stated.
"You may not be wanted but if they see you come out of here, they'll come after you," Heyes replied.
"I'll tell them I was lost," she said.
"You know we can't take the chance," Kid told her as he walked over to her. "Some of the posses are worse than outlaws. We can't let that happen."
Wheat walked across the compound and stood listening.
"Kid why don't you go up top and see what you can see," Heyes suggested.
"I'll go," Wheat chimed in. "I'm all dressed and ready to go. Kid looks like he just rolled out of bed."
"I did," Kid chuckled. "Thanks."
"Alright, Wheat, let us know what ya see," Heyes instructed.
"Sure thing," Wheat nodded and turned around. Halfway across the compound he let out the breath he didn't know he was holding.
"I'm sorry," Heyes said looking at Laurie. "I know how much you wanted to leave."
Laurie nodded unconvincingly.
"As soon as we know it's safe, you can go."
Wheat reported seeing a group of riders off to the east. By the time Kid finally rode up to take a look for himself, they were no longer visible.
"Could be hidin’out there, just waitin’," Wheat said as he sat on his horse next to Kid's.
"Could be," Kid said gazing through the binoculars. "Can't see why though." Turning to Wheat he asked, "You and the boys do any jobs lately?"
"Nothin' in the last month."
"Then it don't seem like they're lookin’ for you."
"Ya never know," Wheat said sounding a little nervous.
Kid studied his face.
"Well I guess to be safe, no one should leave till tomorrow." Kid raised his eyebrow.
"At least," Wheat said confidently.
Kid continued to study Wheat, "Maybe I should tell Heyes we should be safe and keep everyone in through tomorrow."
"Think it's the smart thing to do."
Kid smiled at him and shook his head. They both turned their horses back to the compound.
Heyes kept everyone in Devil's Hole for the next day, sending men up numerous times to check on the posse. He even went up twice to see for himself. Laurie continued to cook for the boys but pretty much kept to herself and away from Heyes. When Heyes was satisfied that the posse was gone he told her she could leave in the morning.
Waking up the next morning, she dressed and left to saddle her horse. As she backed Magic out of his stall she noticed he was limping. She led him out into the sunlight just beginning to enter the compound. "Hey Laurie," Kyle said from the bunkhouse porch.
"Hey, Kyle," Laurie replied. "Why are you up so early?"
"Jes, couldn't sleep. Wheat's snoring like a train," Kyle replied. Then looking at her horse he said, "What's wrong with Magic?"
"Don't know," she responded. "Seems to be favoring his left leg."
"Well let me take a look," Kyle stated, walking towards her.
"I can do it," Laurie started before he cut her off.
"Nah, you don't want to go gettin' yourself all dirty, now do ya?" Kyle smiled. "Let me take a look." Kyle lifted the leg, "Well, that explains it."
He pointed, "Loose shoe." He poked the hoof. "Hmmm, got some gunk in it. Gonna have ‘t be cleaned out."
"How'd that happen?"
"Beats me. Maybe when ya tried to ride through the mudslide."
"I don't know how to fix the shoe. Kyle do you think you could help?"
"Sure. I got watch soon, I'll do it when I come down."
"I was going to leave this morning."
"Oh. Well that ain't happening. Even if I fix the shoe, I gotta clean it up, might be a little tender to walk on."
"Heyes is gonna be real mad at me Kyle, you sure you can't take care of it now?"
"Heyes can't be mad at you. It can't be helped," he shrugged. "Well, gotta get t' the watch. See ya later."
Kid walked out of the cabin, seeing Laurie sitting on a tree stump smiled. "I thought you would be gone by now."
"That why you smiling?"
"No," he said walking over to her and kissing her head. "Just glad you're still here."
"Thanks," she said looking up, smiling at him. "I don't think Heyes is going to be thrilled."
"Hmm," he said looking at her. "So then why are you still here?"
"Horse pulled up lame when I went to saddle him."
Kid looked confused, "When did that happen?"
"No," Kid said shaking his head. "When did it happen?"
Laurie looked at him confused and then replied, "Oh, I don't know. I haven't had him out since the mudslide. Kyle thinks maybe it happened when I tried to cross it."
"Yeah, he was out earlier when I was saddling Magic. He checked the shoe. It's loose. It also has all gunk under it. He said its gonna have to be cleaned out."
"Yes, Kyle," Laurie laughed. "Why do you keep saying his name?
"Cause he's Kyle and cause I don't remember him ever gettin' up early."
"He said Wheat was snoring like a train and he had early watch," she replied. "He said he would take care of Magic when he got done." She sighed. "He said that I probably wouldn't be able to leave today. I don't want Heyes to get mad at me again. He seems to calm down a little when I'm not around."
"Don't worry about Heyes, I'll take care of him when he wakes up."
"He's still sleeping?" Laurie said shocked.
"Yep," Kid replied. "I think it might be helping. He does seem a little more calm."
"Yeah," Laurie said sadly. "Except when I'm near him."
Kid rubbed her shoulder lightly. He didn't know what to say. He noticed it too but didn't want to admit it. "I'll check Magic for you. If it's gettin’ late, I don't want you leavin’ today." Kid kissed her head and headed over to the horse. He found Wheat looking at the horse. He stood up as Kid approached. Kid squatted down and examined the hoof. "Sure got a lot of gunk in there. Looks like a couple of pebbles are really jammed in." He stood up, "Gonna be at least a day before Laurie will be able to ride him out of here."
"Ya think?" Wheat asked trying to be nonchalant.
"Yeah," Kid chuckled. "I think." Kid patted Wheat's shoulder as he walked passed, "You’replayin' with fire Wheat."
Heyes walked out of the cabin into the mid day sun. He looked over and saw Kyle working on Magic. "Kyle, What's going on?"
"Laurie's horse had a loose shoe and some gunk all jammed in. I was jes, cleanin' and fixin' it for her."
"She still her?" Heyes asked.
"She's in the bunkhouse cookin' dinner." Kyle replied and then added, "It twernt her fault Heyes, ya can't git mad at her."
Heyes looked at Kyle and scowled, "I ain't gonna get mad at her. Just time for it to get back to normal ‘round here."
"Couldn't agree with ya more Heyes," Kyle smiled.
Heyes heard six quick shots and smiled. He turned, following the sound. “Practicing?” her asked Kid as he approached.
"Gotta stay sharp, you know that."
Heyes patted Kid's shoulder as he passed by finding a large rock to sit on. Kid loaded his gun again. "Heard Magic pulled up lame," Heyes said.
"Yep, Kyle's supposed to be takin' care of him when he's off watch," Kid replied and then took his stance, firing off six more shots.
Heyes waited and then asked, "Why Kyle?"
Kid chuckled while reloading his gun again. "Seems he volunteered himself for the job."
Heyes frowned, then walked over to the cans, standing them up for Kid. "They gotta stop keeping her here to cook. Women aren't allowed in Devil's Hole." Heyes turned and stomped away.
Kid's head whipped around and stared at Heyes as he stomped off.
The next couple of days the gang didn't have to do anything to keep Laurie in the compound. The skies were gray and the threat of heavy storms kept her in Devil's Hole. She didn't want to be out on the trail by herself if a strong thunderstorm rolled through. Not even Heyes mentioned anything about her leaving. It didn't hurt that as the rain came, so did more mudslides. The area already weakened by the initial mudslide, continued to dump mud into the pass, though not as much as the first time. Each night it would pour and every morning the gang was back clearing the path.
Heyes spent the nights being very restless. He tossed and turned as the visions constantly interrupted his sleep. With peaceful sleep eluding him, he lay awake listening to the rain trying to figure them out. Staring at the ceiling as the pitter-patter of rain echoed in the dark room he saw her face, her smile and desperately tried to put the pictures in his mind together, to make it make sense, but he couldn't.
With little sleep, Heyes woke in a foul mood. He stalked out into the main room of the cabin. "Mornin' Heyes," Kid said cheerfully.
Heyes glared at him.
Kid took a breath and counted to himself to ten. "I'm makin' breakfast would you like some?"
Heyes glared at him again and then sighed. "Sorry Kid," he mumbled and flopped himself in the chair.
Kid brought him over a cup of coffee.
"Headache?" Kid asked.
"No, they've been getting better."
Heyes creased his brow at him.
"You sure you're getting better?"
Heyes really looked at him strange.
"It's just you admitted you were havin’ headaches. The Heyes I know wouldn't. everythin’salways fine. Yeah, I'm fine, got this big bullet hole in my shoulder but I'm fine. I chopped off my foot, but I'm fine."
Heyes rolled his eyes at him.
"Glad the headaches are better." Kid walked over and put a plate of food in front of Heyes. "Not as good as Laurie's but its hot."
Heyes glared at him when he said hername.
"Now what?" Kid asked.
"Nothing," Heyes seethed through gritted teeth.
"Heyes, you're makin' me crazy!" Kid yelled. "One minute we're talkin' and the next you bite my head off."
His eyes grew dark as he glared at his partner.
"All I said was..." Kid stopped when he realized what he said. He said her name. Heyes was getting better except when Laurie was around or someone said her name. Yesterday he got crazy when he was talking about her. "She's not somethin’ to possess," Kid stated.
"I don't want to possess her." Heyes answered angrily.
"Well you certainly don't want anyone else to be with her," Kid said.
Heyes' eyes turned black and he pressed his lips together.
Kid's eyes turned icy blue. The two stared at each other for what seemed an eternity but was only a few minutes.
Heyes blinked and looked down at his plate. "I don't know Kid," he shook his head. "I don't remember her but every time she's just talking to one of the boys, my blood boils and if they touched her...I don't know what I would do," he said feeling himself getting angry all over again.
"I've hugged her and nothin’ happened," Kid said trying to figure out what was going on in Heyes' brain.
Heyes waved his hand in the air, "You're different."
Heyes looked up at him. "I know you aren't gonna try to steal her..." Heyes stopped after hearing what he just said and frowned.
"Heyes," Kid said quietly. "Maybe you do remember, you just don't remember."
Heyes looked at Kid completely confused.
"Maybe deep down inside you remember her."
Heyes sat playing with the food on his plate.
"Heyes you have to figure out if you love her, or even want to. Or you have to let her go. You can't own her."
Heyes nodded, "Must really be rubbing off on ya Kid. All this thinking you been doing!" Heyes smiled meekly. "Maybe some fresh air would clear my head."
Heyes walked out on the porch. Seeing the boys over by the bunkhouse, he went to his right, towards the pond. He walked down the path and found a big rock to sit on. The sun was beginning to come out and it felt good. It felt like maybe it was lifting some of the heaviness he was feeling. He looked at the pond. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He saw her, by a big lake laughing and running. His breathing quieted as he relaxed. He could see her smiling at him. He couldn't have been more than a foot away from her. She leaned into him and he swore he could feel her, touch her. Startled, Heyes opened his eyes and saw Laurie walking down the path to the pond. He swallowed hard as he watched her.
Finally, the skies were clearing. Late in the afternoon, the sun finally broke through. Enjoying the sun and the warmth, Laurie took a walk to the pond. She squatted down at the edge of the pond, dipping her hands in. The water felt so good. It had been well over a week since her last bath. She would like nothing more than to strip down and jump in the water, hoping to remove some of the dirt covering her body. She chuckled to herself, now wouldn't that just be a sight. Being naked in Devil's Hole with all these outlaws walking around; she shook her head and smiled, not one of her brighter ideas. Reaching up, she pulled the comb holding her hair up out, allowing it to cascade down her shoulders and back. She closed her eyes, lifting her face to the sun.
Heyes sat quietly on a rock on the side of the pond about six feet from her, partially hidden by a bush. She didn't notice him when she walked down the embankment and put her hands in the water. He studied her graceful movements and something seemed so familiar. Then she smiled. He hadn't seen that smile since he first opened his eyes at the hotel. Kid was hugging her but when he spoke she turned and smiled. Wow, what a smile he thought. She reached up and pulled the comb out of her hair. A soft breeze caught it as it fell from the top of her head down her back and she lifted her face to the sun. The breeze swept the hair lightly in front of her face; she reached up and brushed it away. Heyes closed his eyes and he saw her. She was wearing something different; it didn't fit and she was walking towards him. He gasped lightly as he opened his eyes.
Startled, Laurie turned to see him. Jumping up, she lost her balance.
Heyes quickly stood up and grabbed her arm, steadying her.
"I'm sorry, I didn't know you were here," she said as she looked at him.
"I didn't mean to startle you," he said as his hand lingered on her arm.
"No it's my fault, I should have seen you when I came down the path," Laurie said meekly. "I guess I just wanted to put my hands in the water, I was oblivious to everything else."
Laurie smiled tightly and looked at the ground.
"Hey," Heyes said dipping his head to try to see her face. "I didn't mean to upset you." His eyes searched for hers. "It's just you being oblivious to anything is funny. I mean," Heyes started and stopped not really sure where that came from but knowing it was the truth.
Laurie lifted her head and he could see tears had begun to form. She looked at him for a moment, "I'm sorry I bothered you, I'll leave you alone."
He reached his hand up grabbing her arm, she flinched and he released it. "I didn't mean to hurt you," he apologized. "It's just," he started but his silver tongue had deserted him. Finally, he looked into her eyes and quietly requested, "Please stay."
She smiled at him as he motioned to the rock he had been sitting on. She nodded and followed him over.
They sat for a few minutes in quiet; she stared at the pond not knowing what to do, he sat staring at her reflection in the pond, it was so familiar.
"I'm sorry it's taking so long to clear the path," Laurie said quietly as she played with her hands nervously. "With all the rain, I know the gang just can't keep up with the mud running off the mountain. No matter how much they get done the day before, it pours again at night and a new pile of mud is left behind."
"It's not your fault," Heyes started.
Laurie turned to look at him, "Thank you."
Heyes tilted his head at her and looked confused.
"I thought you thought I had something to do with it."
"Nooo," he said quietly gazing into her eyes. "Wheat and Kyle having something to do with it not being cleared. I'd bet money on it," he chuckled and then turned serious. "You having anything to do with it, no," Heyes shook his head. "Not unless you can summon the rain and not after I saw how determined you were to move that rock on the first day."
Laurie looked at the water again, not wanting to relax too much with him. "Well I can't summon rain," she shrugged.
They both became quiet again as they looked at everything but each other.
"Are you comfortable in the supply shack?" he asked and then groaned. "That really sounded stupid." He rolled his eyes; she looked at his reflection in the lake. "Of course you're not comfortable in the supply shack."
"Heyes, I'm fine in the supply shack."
"I'll sleep in the bunkhouse if you'll just stay in the cabin," he started as he turned to look at her.
"No, the cabin is the leader's cabin. It's where you belong."
Heyes looked long and hard into her eyes, trying to understand her. "A couple of weeks ago you were telling me I wasn't the leader anymore. Now you won't let me leave the cabin so you can sleep in it."
"Women aren't allowed in Devil's Hole. I could be sleeping out on the ground. Kid set up a very nice area in the supply shack. I will be fine until I can leave." Laurie paused and then added, "Besides, that was over a week ago when we weren't here," she smiled sadly. "You're here so you're the leader. Nobody can question that. I look at the gang and how they look to you; respect you." Laurie giggled lightly and caught herself.
Heyes tilted his head to see her face and raised a questioning eyebrow.
"Oh," she said and rolled her eyes.
Heyes continued the gaze.
Laurie closed her eyes, "I'm sorry I was thinking about Wheat."
"Wheat?" Heyes questioned jealously.
"Yeah, I'm not so sure he's to thrilled you're back."
Heyes chuckled deep in his throat, "No I don't suppose he is. Wasn't too thrilled I was here the first time."
"You shouldn't have hit him," Laurie stated, frowning at Heyes. "He didn't have anything to do with me coming here."
Heyes diverted his eyes to the pond.
"I also heard you pulled your gun on him, twice!" Laurie said, almost scolding Heyes. She looked at him sitting next to her. She wanted to reach out and touch him but even looking at him; she could tell he was no longer the Heyes she knew.
"I had to show him who the leader was," Heyes said looking out at the pond.
"You're Hannibal Heyes. You will always be the leader. One look from you is all it takes; you don't need to stick your gun in anyone's face."
Heyes dropped his head slightly as he watched her reflection in the water. "I'm sorry," Heyes said as he watched her play absently with her wedding ring. He had taken his off not believing he was married.
Laurie tilted her head at him.
"I'm sorry I don't remember."
Laurie sat for a moment trying to compose herself. She wasn't prepared for that. She had been so good at building the wall around her these past few days but for some reason she wasn't prepared for those words. She took a breath and smiled, "It's okay. You don't have to be sorry. I don't think you planned on forgetting me, it just happened." Laurie turned and looked back at the pond.
"You still wear the ring?" he asked curiously.
"I'll wear it till the day I die. I'm Mrs. Joshua Smith."
"Joshua Smith doesn't exist," he stated and looked for her reaction.
She swallowed hard. "No, he doesn't. He died saving me from a runaway wagon. He pushed me out of the way just in time but when he did, the horse kicked him in the head." Tears welled in her eyes.
He could see her sad reflection in the pond.
"I wish he didn't always have to be the hero." She almost whispered as her voice was deserting her. "Of course he never thought he was but everyone else knew differently. He always tried to come off as uncaring and cold. Too calculating to be concerned about anyone but himself and Kid." She stared at the pond watching as the ripples in the water made it look like Heyes was disappearing. "It would have been much better if the wagon hit me. Then he would still be here, being a hero for someone."
"Don't say that. It wouldn't have been better," he said quietly.
"Yes it would. Then I wouldn't have to remember," she closed her eyes and a tear ran down her face. She quickly wiped it off. "You and Kid would still be going for amnesty." She took a deep breath and stood up. "I'm sorry to have bothered you."
Heyes reached up, lightly touching her.
With her back to him she said, "Please don't," and walked away. Laurie walked to the supply shack and closed the door. She curled up on the bed Kid made for her and cried.
With the sun high in the sky, Laurie emerged from the shack. She had her saddlebag packed and she headed to her horse. Each day the boys seemed to make progress on the mudslide and each morning there was a new batch of debris in the way. Laurie decided she would try to leave now, in the afternoon. She could make it through the pass and past dead line point before it got dark. She would find a spot to stop for the night and then in the morning she could figure out which way she would go. First stop would probably be town for some supplies. From there, she didn't know.
She saddled Magic and mounted him. She paused and looked around the compound. It was empty. The men were either on guard duty or clearing the mudslide. She really didn't want to have to ride through there; have to say good-bye to anyone but it was the only way out. She turned Magic and headed down the path.
Approaching the area, she saw the gang working hard moving a boulder. By the looks of it, it would clear the path enough to allow her to get through. She pulled her horse to a stop. The gang looked up at her. "What cha doin' Laurie?" Kyle asked.
"I'm leaving," she croaked out as her voice got stuck in her throat.
"Leavin?" Kyle repeated, deserting the boulder and the others. "Ya can't just leave," Kyle walked towards her. "Do Heyes and Kid know?"
Laurie smiled sadly at him.
"Ya can't leave without sayin' goodbye."
"I was supposed to leave days ago."
"But ya have t' say goodbye," Kyle said sounding heartbroken.
"I said my goodbyes before. They don't need to here it again," she said sounding hoarse.
"Well, if ya really gotta go," Kyle said sadly.
"I do," Laurie smiled at him as tears filled her eyes.
"Ride careful.Ya always welcome here."
"Thanks, Kyle." Laurie said and lightly nudged her horse guiding him forward through the mudslide area. As she reached the area the bolder was in an enormous cracking sound echoed through the air as a huge tree came crashing down knocking Laurie off her horse and pinning a couple of the boys.
Wheat almost ran into Kid on the path he was riding so hard.
"Whoa!" Kid exclaimed. "Somethin' on fire?"
Wheat pulled his horse up abruptly. "There's been another mudslide!"
Kid could see the angst in his face as he spoke. "Who?" he asked anxiously.
"I need to find Heyes," Wheat blurted out.
"He's in the cabin," Kid responded and then held his breath. "Laurie?"
"She's hurt bad," Wheat began as Kid kicked his horse to go. "Kyle's with her," he yelled after him and then continued racing towards the cabin.
Kid urged his horse to go as fast as it could. Rounding the bend to the area he saw it, the whole side of the mountain collapsed. Scanning the men quickly, they all looked okay, though a few were covered head to toe in mud. Then he saw her, Kyle was kneeling next to Laurie; she was pinned under a huge tree.
Kid was off his horse in a flash.
"Hey Kid," she said quietly.
Kyle turned and gave a worried look.
Kid scanned her looking for any injury and then he saw it. He knelt down next to her and held her hand. "Hey," he said trying to be calm.
Kyle looked longingly at him for direction.
"Everyone else okay, Kyle?" Kid asked.
"Yep, we pulled the boys that we could out but we didn't know what t' do ‘bout Laurie," he said with concern.
Kid nodded. "Check to see if anyone needs anythin’."
Kyle tried not to look worried as he looked at Laurie and smiled, "Kid's here. He'll take care of you."
She smiled back, "Thanks for staying with me Kyle."
Kid looked at Laurie and saw tears in her eyes. "He's gone, you don't have to be so brave."
Laurie tried blinking back the tears as one rolled down her face.
"It's okay," Kid said, wiping the tear off. "We'll figure out how to get you out of here." He looked at Laurie and followed the big tree branch she was impaled on. It went through her side and was stuck into the ground.
She smiled and shook her head as the tears started to stream down her face. "Where's Heyes?"
"Wheat went to get him," he replied quietly as he stroked her hair.
"Magic. Is Magic okay?" Laurie began to panic.
Kid looked around and saw the horse standing off to the side. "He's fine."
"Are you sure?" she sounded worried.
"Yeah," he said. "I'm sure."
Laurie nodded and then coughed. She winced as pain shot through her body.
Kyle walked over and stood behind Kid, "Everyone's okay, Kid. We're ready t' git the tree off Laurie."
"No," Kid exclaimed. "Don't touch the tree!"
"We was..." Kyle said.
"I know Kyle, you were tryin' to help," Kid stated trying to sound calm. "Thing is, if we don't do it right, we could hurt her more."
Kyle's eyes widen, "We don't want t' do that."
"I know," Kid assured. "I just need a minute to think. Why don't you go and make sure no one touches the tree."
Kyle turned and started walking away.
Kid jumped up, "Kyle wait." He walked over to him and quietly said, "I need you to get together as much gunpowder as you can."
Kyle looked at Kid and his jaw dropped.
"Can you do that for me Kyle?"
Kyle looked over at Laurie, then back at Kid and nodded.
Kid went back and crouched down by Laurie. He picked up her hand and kissed it holding it securely in his hand.
"Kid," she said weakly.
"I'm here," he said, stroking her face.
"You have to promise me you'll take care of him," she said as tears started to flow again.
"We'll take care of him, together," Kid replied quietly.
Laurie shook her head. "Please," she pleaded, "Promise".
Kid reluctantly nodded.
Laurie coughed lightly and winced again as her body was rocked with pain. "I need to talk to him," she said in little more than a whisper.
"Wheat went to get him, he should be here soon," he said squeezing her hand. Hearing thundering hooves; he turned to see his partner flying towards them with Wheat on his tail.
Heyes was off his horse and by Laurie's side before his horse stopped. "What happened?" he asked as he crouched down next to her.
"I was leaving. I was guiding Magic though the opening and the tree fell on me," Laurie stated matter of factly.
"We gotta get the tree off her!" Wheat exclaimed. The men that had been standing around gathered around the tree trunk.
"No!" Heyes yelled. "Don't touch it!"
"Heyes?" Wheat asked.
"We have to come up with a plan first," Heyes stated as he surveyed the area quickly.
"Kid," Laurie spoke. "I need to talk to Heyes for a minute."
Kid nodded. Leaning over, he wiped the tears off her face and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Standing up he said, "Wheat, let's talk to the boys and try to figure things out."
Heyes looked at Laurie; she looked lovingly back at him. "Han," she said quietly and giggled lightly. Moaning from the pain she stated, "I'm allowed to call you that, I'm emotional." She tried desperately to blink back the tears.
"Sshh," Heyes said picking up her hand, gently holding it as he stroked her hair. "Save your strength Sweetheart."
Laurie closed her eyes as the tears formed streams down her face.
"We'll get the tree off of you soon, I promise."
Laurie opened her eyes and looked into Heyes'. She almost saw her Heyes in them. She smiled.
"That's my girl," he said in a soothing voice.
Laurie shook her head at him. "Han...Heyes," she corrected herself. "We both know that this isn't going to end good for me."
Heyes' eyes started to turn dark.
"I'm being realistic. Even I can see that I'm not bleeding that much."
"That's good," he lied.
"Please don't," she said sadly.
Heyes gave her a nod.
"It means the tree branch is stopping the bleeding. When you try to pull it out, I will probably bleed to death before you have a chance to do anything."
"You don't know that," Heyes croaked out, as voice got stuck in his throat.
"Yes I do and so do you," Laurie said squeezing his hand. "So while I have the time, I need to tell you something."
He looked deep into her eyes.
"First I need to tell you that you were the best thing to ever happen to me. Being with you was the happiest time in my life. You are the most wonderful man I have ever met," Laurie took a breath as her body started to shake. Her lip began to tremble as her breathing became labored. "Listen to Kid, okay."
He nodded and tried unsuccessfully to wipe her tears away.
"I know you don't remember me, but can you stay with me, hold my hand?" she closed her eyes and clenched her jaw trying not to cry.
"I'm here Sweetheart, I won't leave your side," he said and leaned over kissing her lips. "I love you," he whispered.
Kid walked over and squatted next to Heyes. "We got a fire going," he pointed, "And enough gun powder. Wheat's gettin’ the knife blade hot, a bottle of whiskey and water. I figured the boys lift the tree up and off Laurie in one quick motion. You pull her out. As soon as you clear the tree, I'll pour the whiskey and water on the wound to clean it. Then the gunpowder in the hole the branch leaves and use the hot knife to stop the bleedin’."
"When did you get so smart," Heyes asked.
"Well you think ridin’ with you for so long, some of it would rub off," he replied and smiled acknowledging the compliment.
"Since you have it all figured out, I think we better do it. Laurie's getting weaker."
Kid smiled, "Laurie?"
"Yeah, my wife, Laurie," Heyes nodded towards her and it all came flooding back to him as anguish raced across his face.
"That's right Heyes," Kid said realizing what was happening. "Now let's get this tree off Laurie and take care of her.
Heyes nodded as tears formed in his eyes. He leaned over to Laurie, kissing her again.
She opened her eyes.
"Laurie, I love you."
He could hear Kid yell "three" in the background.
"I love you tooooooo," she screamed out in agony as the tree was lifted and the branch was ripped from her side. Heyes quickly pulled her clear of the tree and Kid was by his side yelling instructions he didn't hear. Heyes watched as blood gushed from her. Kid poured whiskey, then water into the wound and then the gunpowder in the hole the branch left. Kid placed the blazing hot knife on top and Heyes could hear and see it sizzle. Everything was spinning out of control with flashes of memory flooding his brain. Then it became quiet.
Laurie had passed out when the tree was ripped from her.
Kid had stopped barking orders and the rest of the gang watched in silence.
"Let's get her in the wagon and back to the compound," Kid stated.
Wheat, Kyle, Lobo and Hank came and carefully picked her up carrying her to the wagon.
As soon as they picked her up, Heyes turned and wretched. He heaved until there was nothing left and still continued.
Kid waited until he was done and leaned over putting his hand on his back. "She needs you Heyes. Let's get her back to the cabin."
Heyes nodded and stood up in a daze following Kid over to the wagon. He climbed up in the back with Laurie and held her hand.
The group carefully carried Laurie into the leader's cabin and laid her on Heyes' bed and then left quietly. Kid and Heyes were the only two left. Heyes stood just outside his room looking at her. The pain and anguish on his face clear.
"She'll be okay Heyes," Kid tried to reassure.
"I know," he replied quietly. "You did a good job out there Kid." He stood not moving.
Kid looked at his partner. He didn't know what to say, he knew it was more than just the injury that caused the expression. He knew Heyes remembered; he called her Laurie and his wife for the first time since the accident. "She needs you Heyes."
Heyes shook his head no.
"Yes she does. She needs you to be strong."
"Why?" he said turning to Kid. "So I can hurt her again? So I can treat her like, like..." he shook his head and turned around his hands clenched in fists. He went to the bottle of whiskey sitting on the table.
"She was there for you when you needed her. She sat by your side and talked to you for three days!" Kid called out angrily.
"And what good did that do her? Huh? I hurt her!" he yelled back. "She has bruises because of ME!" He picked the whiskey bottle up and threw it across the room. "I hurt her!" He picked up a pot and slammed it into a wall. "I called her..." he clenched his jaw and slammed his fist on the table. "I did this to her!" He picked up another pot and heaved it across the room. He stood jaw, fist and eyes clenched tight breathing heavily through his nose about to explode.
Kid watched and waited for Heyes to calm down.
"I didn't remember her," he finally said quietly.
"It wasn't your fault. The doctor said you had a really bad concussion. He said that your brain got really jumbled and it would take time to heal. He said forgetting things was normal."
Heyes continued to stand there, not moving, but Kid could see that he was beginning to relax a little bit.
Kid walked over to him. "She doesn't blame you and neither do I for the way you’ve been actin’. It wasn't you," he said trying to talk to his partner but he wouldn't even look at him. "Heyes," Kid said a little more forcefully. "I knew it wasn't you when you wanted to come back here. You've been the one that's been keepin' us on the straight and narrow. You wantin’ to come back here... not you."
"I forgot her," Heyes said.
"You didn't forget her," Kid stated. "You thought it was three years ago. You didn't know her back then. Laurie understood."
"How could she?"
"Because Laurie knows you. She knows you love her."
Heyes turned towards Kid. He saw how pale he was. "She gave me back my heart," he swallowed hard.
"She didn't mean it. She didn't know what else to do," Kid said trying to comfort. "Here I go, calling her she. She has a name, Laurie," he said very seriously. "You never called Laurie by her name. Not after the accident. Not until you remembered. Maybe if you had, you would have remembered. I didn't realize it until now."
Heyes still didn't move.
"Look Heyes, I know you're busy beatin' yourself up but Laurie needs you. She needs you to be there for her just like she was there for you."
He nodded his head. Heyes sat next to her, picking her hand up he began to talk to her.
Kid sighed. He looked around the cabin and shook his head. Still standing, not too much damage, could have been worse he thought. Scratching his head, he decided to go get some water. Opening the door, he was surprised to see the gang hanging around just outside.
"Everythin’ okay," Wheat asked.
Kid nodded his head.
"Heyes remembered didn't he?"
"It's gonna rip him up somethin' bad," Wheat stated.
"Yep," Kid replied.
"Guess that's what all the smashin’ and noise was about," Wheat stated.
"Yep," Kid answered.
Wheat looked at Kid and snickered, "Sure got a lot to say about it."
"Not much to say Wheat. It's just gonna take time and maybe some understandin'. First thing though," Kid said moving off the porch, "Is to get some water for when Laurie wakes and then go clean up the mess Heyes made. Oh, can you send one of the boys over with a bottle of whiskey."
"Whiskey? Heyes threw the whiskey!" Wheat exclaimed.
Kid shrugged his shoulders slightly.
"Dang, he's upset!"
Kid walked back in with the water and went about picking up the mess Heyes made. He looked through the open door and saw Heyes sitting hunched over, holding Laurie's hand quietly talking to her. He had no idea what he was saying but by Heyes' body language; his lightly brushing the side of her face and kissing her hand, he figured he was apologizing and asking for forgiveness. He knew even if Laurie opened her eyes and said okay, Heyes would continue beating himself up over the way he acted. Truth be told, if Laurie wasn't hurt and Heyes remembered, Kid figured he'd deck him. Let him know he really didn't blame him for what happened but it was still no excuse. Kid finished sweeping up the glass when there was a light knock on the door.
Heyes didn't move.
Kid opened the door.
Kyle was standing there with a bottle of whiskey. "Wheat told me to bring this to ya," Kyle said quietly as he tried to look around Kid to see if he could get a glimpse of Laurie.
Kid took the bottle, "Anythin’ else?"
"Oh, Wheat said to put it in a cabinet if Heyes weren't done throwin' things." Kyle continued standing at the door trying to look around Kid.
"Everything okay, Kyle?"
Kyle hesitated and then looked up at Kid. "Jes was hopin'," he stammered. "To see Laurie."
"She hasn't woken up yet."
"I know," Kyle said shyly. "I jes wanted to tell her to git better." He paused, "I didn't git a chance before."
Kid nodded. "Come on in Kyle. I'm sure she would appreciate it."
Kyle nodded appreciatively and took a step into the cabin then stopped. He took of his hat and slowly walked towards the bedroom door. He stopped outside with Kid right behind him.
Heyes sat up and turned to see who was standing in the doorway. "Kyle came to tell Laurie to get better," Kid said to Heyes.
Heyes looked at Kyle and nodded.
Kyle smiled meekly and took a step inside still holding his hat in front of him. "Is Laurie gonna be alright?" he asked with a pained expression covering his face.
"She should be fine," Kid said walking in behind him. "She got real lucky. The branch missed all the important stuff inside. Went clean through. Lots of blood but we stopped that. As long as she doesn't get any infection, she should be fine."
Kyle visibly relaxed. Looking at Heyes he said, "Glad you got your memory back Heyes."
Heyes nodded but didn't look at him.
Kyle hesitated then swallowed hard to get the courage, "Heyes, would it be alright if I kissed Laurie's cheek and told her to git better soon?"
Heyes nodded. He stood up while still holding Laurie's hand so that Kyle could get by.
Kyle leaned over and kissed her cheek gently. "Git better soon Laurie. Heyes is waitin' for ya." He smiled at Heyes and started out of the room.
"Kyle," Heyes said without turning. "That was nice, thank you."
Kyle perked up, "Anytime Heyes." He made his was to the cabin door. "Hank's makin' some soup; I'll bring some over when it's done."
"‘Preciate that Kyle," Kid said as he closed the door. He turned back to look at Heyes and saw him once again hunched over talking to Laurie.
The night dragged on as Heyes continued to talk to Laurie, never leaving her side. Kid offered to take over so he could stretch his legs, but Heyes refused. After midnight Kid walked into the room, "Heyes maybe you should try to get some sleep."
Heyes shook him off.
"You want to stretch your legs?"
Heyes shook him off again.
"Alright, I'm gonna try to get some sleep. I'll take over in a little bit. Yell if you need anything."
Kid walked over and put his hand on Heyes' shoulder, "She's strong." Heyes nodded and Kid left the room.
Heyes sat quietly holding Laurie's hand and whispering in her ear. He reminded her about all the wonderful times they had had together and with each story his heart ached. How could he have been so mean? He brushed the side of her face where the bruise now only looked like a dirt smudge and her wrists. He clenched his jaw and shook his head. The anger at himself was bursting to come out but as long as Laurie needed him, he would sit there and beat himself up internally.
As the night drew on Heyes' eyelids became heavy. He sat up and rubbed his face with his one hand. As his hand ran over his face, he thought he saw Laurie's eyes open. Wide-awake at the prospect, he concentrated on her face. Her eyes were closed. Did he imagine them opened? "Sweetheart," Heyes said quietly. "Sweetheart, can you hear me? Open your eyes."
Laurie's eyelids fluttered as he talked.
"That's it Sweetheart. Come on Laurie, open your eyes, you can do it."
Laurie's eyes opened, blinking a few times before they started to slowly close again.
"No, no," Heyes said a little louder. "Laurie, stay with me. Sweetheart, open your eyes."
Her eyes opened again and she turned her head to look at him.
He gave her a million dollar smile. "That's my girl," he said, kissing her hand.
Laurie licked her lips and tried opening her mouth.
"You want some water?" he asked.
She nodded slightly still making exaggerated blinks as she tried to focus and figure out where she was.
Heyes let go of her hand and poured a glass of water. Coming back to the side of the bed, "I'll help lift your head up. Just take a sip." She nodded and with Heyes' help took a few sips of water. "More?" she shook her head and Heyes lowered her to the pillow.
She watched him place the glass down and then looked up at his face. "What happened?" she said slowly and so quiet he could barely hear her.
Heyes picked up her hand again and held it again. "You were pinned under a tree," he replied. "Do you remember?"
Laurie thought a minute and then nodded. Laurie could feel the bandage around her waist and moved her hand to touch it. Pain shot through her body and she moaned.
"Sshh," Heyes whispered as he stroked the side of her face.
Her pain riddled eyes looked up at him.
"Kid did a real good job. Stopped the bleed real quick." He stroked her face again, "You're gonna be just fine."
Tears began to form in her eyes.
"It's okay, Sweetheart," he said. "I know it hurts. Let me get you some whiskey."
She shook her head.
"It might help a little, please."
Laurie looked at him and nodded.
Heyes got her a little whiskey and she drank it. As he went to put the glass down, Laurie's eyes grew heavy, finally closing as she fell back asleep.
As Kid approached the door, he could see Heyes shifting uncomfortably in his chair in an effort to stay awake as he continued to talk to Laurie. He walked into the room unnoticed and placed his hand on his partner’s shoulder.
Startled Heyes jumped and made a motion to go for his gun but he would have to drop Laurie's hand so he didn't.
"Relax Heyes," Kid said. "It's just me."
Heyes blew out a breath.
"Why don't you go to my room and rest, I'll take over."
"No, I have to stay with her," he said groggily.
"Heyes, it's almost six a.m. You've been awake all night. You need to get some sleep."
"Even you told me I had to be here, like she was with me."
"I gave Laurie breaks too," Kid assured. "What good are you gonna be if you end up in a bed next to her?"
"Kid I..." he said with pain in his voice.
"I know Heyes," Kid stated patting his shoulder. "You'll have plenty of time when she gets better to tell her you're sorry. Right now, you need rest. If she wakes up, I come and get you."
"She already did."
"A couple of hours ago," Heyes replied quietly. "I gave her some water and a little whiskey."
"That's good, real good. Now I really think you should go rest. You aren't completely healed and no sense risking a relapse."
Heyes sighed as he weighed his options. He knew Kid was right. His head was pounding and the room was beginning to spin but he didn't want to leave Laurie's side. However, the thought that lack of sleep could bring on a relapse made up his mind. "I just need an hour," he said solemnly as he stood up. He leaned down kissing Laurie's temple. "Sweet dreams Sweetheart. I'll be back soon." He handed her hand to Kid and left to lie down.
Kid sat down and began talking to her.
Mid morning Laurie moved and moaned. She began to breathe heavy through her mouth and moaned again. "Sshh," Kid said quietly. "I'm here. Can you wake up Laurie?"
She became slightly agitated, pulling her hand away from Kid's. She whimpered. "Please don't," she cried out.
"Don't what?" Kid asked.
She didn't respond.
"Laurie," he said a little louder. "Wake up."
Her eyes popped open, staring at the ceiling.
"Laurie," Kid said. "Laurie, look at me."
Continuing to stare at the ceiling, she blinked her eyes heavily. Her lids began to slowly close again.
"Laurie," Kid called out.
Startled, Laurie jumped and winced at the pain.
"I'm sorry," Kid said placing his hand on her shoulder trying to relax her.
Laurie looked up at him, giving a small smile. "Hey," she squeaked out.
Kid smiled back, "Hey." He lightly brushed the back of his hand down her cheek and lifted her hand to kiss it. "It's good to see you."
"Good to be seen," Laurie croaked. "Can I get some water," she said as her eye lids were once again trying to close.
"Sure," Kid said, standing up to get the glass. Having woken up to Laurie's moans and Kid calling her name, Heyes stood in the doorway. "She's just waking up," Kid said smiling at Heyes.
Heyes gave a quick nod and walked into the room. Sitting down in the chair next to the bed, he lightly brushed the hair off her face with his fingers. Smiling at her he asked, "How are you feeling?"
Laurie blinked at him, struggling to focus her eyes. "Like a tree fell on me," she grunted.
Heyes smiled and traced the outline of her cheek with the back of his fingers.
Kid walked over with a glass of water in his hand. "Heyes, can you lift her up?"
Heyes did and she took a few sips before nodding she was done. He laid her back down.
"I want to take a look at the bandage if you're up to it," Kid said looking at Laurie.
She looked at him with questioning eyes.
"Kid did a real good job fixing you up," Heyes answered the unasked question.
"I guess I owe you a thank you," she moaned. "Right now I'm not up to giving you a hug."
Kid chuckled, "That's okay. You can owe me one."
Laurie tried moving and gasped as pain shot through her body.
"Take it easy," Heyes said. Turning towards Kid, "Maybe we should wait on the bandages."
"It's okay," she said as she blew air out her mouth trying to get the pain to subside. "I don't think it's going to get much better anytime soon. I mean last time I looked I had a branch sticking through me. Doesn't seem to be something that's going to stop hurting anytime soon."
"You sure," Kid asked.
"I'd rather get it over with now then have to think about it later," Laurie stated.
"If you're sure Sweetheart, I'll take a look," Heyes said as ran his hand across her forehead brushing her hair back.
"It's okay Heyes, Kid can check the bandage," Laurie said. Looking at Heyes' shocked face she added, "He's the one that put it on, he might as well be the one to check it."
"But," Heyes started before Laurie interrupted.
"You were so kind to hold my hand. I really appreciate it." Laurie closed her eyes and a tear ran down her face. "It was really nice for stay when I asked you. Thank you."
Heyes' eyes became glassy, "Of course I stayed. You're my wife."
Laurie opening her eyes and tried to smile at him as tears ran down her face, "No, you're Hannibal Heyes. You don't have a wife. At best, I was your mistress but that's all. It was wonderful while it lasted." She smiled, pursing her lips trying not to cry.
"Sweetheart," he said as he held her hand and got down on his knees by the side of the bed so his face was right next to hers. "I remember," he said. "I remember everything. You're my wife. Saying sorry doesn't even begin to tell you how awful I feel for the way I treated you. I don't know what I can do to make it up besides to beg your forgiveness."
"You don't have to do anything Heyes," she said. "You had a bad concussion; nothing you did was your fault."
"I love you," Heyes smiled, looking deep into her eyes. He sat back on his heals. Standing up, he let go of Laurie's hand. "If you need my help Kid," he said quietly. "I'll be in the outer room." He turned and numbly walked out of the room.
Totally confused, Kid looked at Laurie and then at the back of his partner as he left. "Heyes," he called after his partner. "HEYES!" he yelled when he received no response. Kid turned and walked out to where Heyes was standing in the middle of the room. "What the hell is going on?"
"She doesn't want me in there," he said without emotion.
"WHAT?" Kid exclaimed.
"She doesn't want me in there," he repeated, walking over to the kitchen area in search of some whiskey. "Ask her, she'll tell you."
Kid shook his head and walked back into the room to Laurie, "What did I miss?"
"I don't know?"
"Do you ask him to leave?"
"Do you want him in here?"
Laurie shook her head as she closed her eyes.
"What?" Kid asked shocked and plopped down in the chair next to the bed. "Why?"
"I can't," was all she said.
Heyes walked into the room with a full glass of whiskey. He placed it on the dresser and looked at Laurie. "Make sure you drink this before Kid looks at the bandages. It might help with the pain. In fact, you should drink it a little before he starts." He turned and left the room.
Laurie drank some of the whiskey and gritted her teeth as Kid checked the bandage. The wound was still very raw and oozing slightly. He put some more salve on the area and re-bandaged it. The pain combined with the movement and the whiskey made it difficult for Laurie to stay awake. As Kid cleaned up his things, her eyelids closed and she drifted off to sleep. He leaned over and kissed her forehead. "Rest," he whispered.
Kid walked out into the main room to see Heyes sitting at the table staring at a glass of whiskey in his hand. He titled the glass and swirled the brown liquid. Kid looked at the bottle. It didn't appear Heyes had actually had any of it. Pulling up a chair, he poured himself a glass and took a healthy sip. "It's still oozin’ some but that's good. Using the gunpowder and knife to stop all the internal bleedin’, it should ooze for a day or two. Hopefully it will keep out any infection. We'll have to wash it later," Kid stated as he took another gulp of whiskey. "That might just kill her."
Heyes' eyes shot up at Kid's.
He put his hands up, "Just an expression Heyes you know that. It's just gonna hurt like the dickens. We gotta pour water and maybe even some whiskey on both sides."
"I know," Heyes replied quietly and went back to staring at the brown liquid.
Kid sat waiting for his partner to talk, to explain what had happened. After waiting for a while he realized he was going to have to ask if he expected any kind of answer. "Heyes, what happened?"
"Nothing," he replied solemnly, his eyes never looking away from the glass.
"Somethin' happened Heyes. I know it and you know it. You came out here while I changed the bandages. Laurie didn't even ask you to stay. So I think somethin’ happened.
"She didn't want me in there."
"How do you know?"
"I saw it in her eyes."
"You what, saw it in her eyes?"
"When I was telling her I was sorry, I looked into her eyes. She doesn't love me anymore."
"Kid, don't. I lost her because of the way I treated her. She doesn't love me anymore."
"You know just by lookin' in her eyes?" Kid demanded.
Heyes finally looked up at him, "Yeah." He said, lifting the glass of whiskey, he downed it in one gulp. Setting the glass on the table he pushed himself away from the table, standing up. "I need some fresh air. Can you stay with her?"
"Yeah," Kid responded, flabbergasted at what was going on.
Heyes gave a quick nod and headed out the cabin door.
Heyes walked around the compound making sure not to run into any of the other inhabitants. He wanted to be alone. He didn't want to talk to anyone and certainly didn't want to answer any questions. He found himself down at the pond and sat on the same rock he had sat the day before with Laurie. He had begun to remember her when they were talking. He closed his eyes and could see her face in the reflection of the pond. He remembered her smiling. He snickered; he didn't know how he didn't see it yesterday. Laurie smiled and then bit her bottom lip. He saw it in the reflection but didn't realize it until now. Then she was sad, talking about the accident and losing him.
Heyes opened his eyes and blinked back the tears. He reached into his shirt pocket, pulling out the heart necklace and his wedding ring. No matter what shirt he wore, he had kept them in his pocket since she gave them back. He didn't know why at first, but he did it anyway. Now he held them in his hands, staring at them. He messed everything up. Kicked in the head or not, how could he have treated her that way?
Heyes sat for hours staring at the necklace and playing with the ring. As the sun was setting he took a deep breath as he placed the necklace and ring back into his pocket. He thought of wearing the ring but he didn't want to saddle Laurie with the idea that he was going to push the issue. If she didn't want him, he would stay away. Leaving the ring off would give her, her freedom. He sighed, and stood up. The water was dark as the sun was getting lower and the reflections were disappearing. Heyes turned and walked back to the cabin.
Heyes paused at the door to the cabin, then opened it and walked in. The main room was empty but Heyes could hear talking coming from his room. He took off his hat and walked over to the fireplace. Standing watching the flames, he was not sure what to do with himself.
"There you are," Kid said coming out of Heyes' room with a bowl in his hand. "Kyle just brought over some food." Lifting the bowl for Heyes to see he added, "I just got Laurie to eat some soup. She finished the whole bowl."
"That's good," he stated. "She needs to keep her strength up."
Walking towards the table Kid said, "He brought us plates too. Might as well eat while it's hot."
"Not real hungry Kid," he said glumly.
"Heyes, sit. I don't think you've eaten anything since yesterday."
He walked over to the table and sat down. "How is she?"
"Tired, in pain, but doin’ okay. Maybe you should go sit with her after dinner," Kid suggested as he placed Heyes' plate in front of him. "Eat."
"I don't want to bother her," Heyes said as looked at the plate.
"Heyes..." Kid started.
"Don't," Heyes said lifting his eyes to look at his partner.
Kid looked back and had a hard time recognizing the man across from him. The confidence, the arrogance, the presence this man exuded were gone. Kid sighed to himself, and decided he'd let Heyes brood a little longer before he tried to talk some sense into him.
They ate in relative silence, Kid eating and Heyes mostly playing with his food. As they finished Kid stood up and took Heyes' plate. "I'll wash these, why don't you check on Laurie?"
Heyes' eyes narrowed slightly at him.
Kid stood his ground, staring back.
With a small "hrmpf" sound, Heyes nodded and walked over to the bedroom door. Laurie was propped up slightly with a pillow and blanket behind her head. Just enough so she could get a drink of water without having to move. Heyes stood in the doorway, looking at her for a moment and then knocked lightly.
She looked over to see him standing there, waiting for a response.
"You don't have to knock, it's your room," she said.
"No, it's your room," Heyes corrected, still not entering. "I gave this up almost three years ago."
"So you did," she smiled slightly. "Don't tell Kyle though. To him it will always be your room."
"Kyle?" Heyes asked sounding a little too jealous for his liking.
"Last time, when you were hurt, he told me it was your room and always would be," she responded.
"Oh," Heyes said sounding relieved.
"You're still standing there," Laurie giggled and then moaned as the movement pulled at her side. She panted, tightly closing her eyes until the pain subsided some.
He wanted to run to her side, try to make it better, but he didn't move from the doorway.
"Please come in," Laurie said when she opened her eyes.
"I don't want to disturb you. Kid asked me to check on you. See if you needed anything," Heyes said as he took a couple of steps into the room and stopped.
"You're not disturbing me," she said in a monotone voice. "It does get rather boring when all I can do is turn my head and look around."
"Would you like a book to read?" Heyes asked as he took another step inside.
"That's very thoughtful of you, thank you. That might help the boredom."
Heyes walked over to a chest in the room and opened the bottom drawer. He looked through a few books and picking one, handing it to Laurie, he closed the drawer.
"The Moonstone," Laurie read the title.
"It's about an English police Sergeant who searches for a stolen diamond."
Laurie raised her eyebrow at him.
"It's the only thing they had at the General Store when I bought it. Someone special ordered it and never picked it up."
"Oh, I was just thinking you probably read it and figured out the ending half way through the book," Laurie said.
"A little more than half," Heyes smiled with a little smug look.
"Well I'm sure I can't figure out where the diamond is as quick as Hannibal Heyes but it will help pass the time until I can move around," she said in a cordial but detached tone.
"Glad I could help," Heyes said. "Can I get you anything else?"
"No," Laurie started and then stopped herself. "Maybe some water and more whiskey."
"I figured it might help me sleep."
"Let me see what else I can find for you," Heyes said as he left the room.
A few minutes later he returned with a pitcher of water, which he used to fill her glass and then he set it down on the table. He handed her a glass of whiskey.
She looked at it, scrunching up her nose.
"What?" he laughed at her expression.
"It looks like there is dirt or something in it," she replied.
"Oh," he said apologetically. "It's ground white willow bark. It should help with the pain. It's bitter so it's best to drink it all at once."
She looked at it again, took a breath and then drank it all at once. "Yuck!" she said, shuddering and then moaning because of the pain it caused.
Heyes walked over and took the glass. "Try to get some rest. I'll leave the door open. I'll be out here if you need anything just call," he said turning and leaving.
Kid was sitting by the fireplace when Heyes walked out of the bedroom. He looked at Heyes and frowned. "You're not stayin’ with her?
"She didn't want me to," Heyes replied as he sat down by the fire.
"Did she tell you to leave?"
Kid tilted his head and creased his brow at Heyes.
"She opened a book to read it. That's as good as saying leave."
"Where did she get the book?"
"I asked her if she wanted something to read."
"Heyes," Kid sat up in his chair, shaking his head. "Sometimes I wonder where that genius you're supposed to be goes!"
"What?" he exclaimed with a completely confused look on his face.
"What happened to your silver tongue?" Kid asked. "Why didn't you sit down and talk to her for a little while before you gave her a book. Maybe she was just being polite opening the book."
"Kid, she doesn't want me, I'm not going to push myself on her," Heyes said looking at the floor.
Kid stared at Heyes, studying him and then he realized what was going on. "Laurie didn't say no or tell you to stop when I was there Heyes, I'm sure she didn't when I left."
Heyes sat hunched forward forearms resting on his knees twiddling his thumbs as he continued to stare at the floor.
"You can't push yourself on someone if they're willin'."
Heyes sat in silence not moving and not answering his partner.
Kid sighed to himself, he knew Heyes would beat himself up over how he acted; he didn't know what he would do if he forced himself on her. "Heyes," Kid finally asked quietly, "Is there somethin’ I don't know?"
He sat quietly. Finally he said, "I may not have forced her but I thought about it. She was in here changing before going to the supply shack and I came back.” Heyes stopped and swallowed hard.
Kid waited patiently and finally asked, "Heyes?"
He took a minute to compose himself before continuing. "I didn't ask beforehand. I just went and kissed her. I wanted her so much but she said no. I was so angry. I told her to get out. That's why she's never alone with me. Haven't you noticed how she goes out of her way to avoid me? Well now she can't do anything about it and I'm certainly not going to make her uncomfortable. She doesn't want me near her."
"Heyes, you stopped," Kid stated. "And besides that, Laurie knows it wasn't you. She doesn't blame you."
"She may not blame me but she still doesn't want me."
"No. It's enough. Kid has she asked you where I was? When I'm going to visit? Why I'm not with her?" He asked as he turned to look at Kid. "You don't have to answer; I know the answers - NO!" Heyes stated as he became very agitated. "No, she doesn't want me near her and can you blame her? I hurt her. She has bruises because of ME." He growled. He closed his eyes in shame. "She doesn't have to tell me to leave, I see the look in her eyes and I can't bare the hurt I have caused her."
Kid stood up and put his hand on his partner's shoulder, "I still think you should talk to her."
Heyes didn't respond.
"I'm going to head over to the bunkhouse to see what the boys are up to." Kid hoped leaving the two alone in the cabin would force the issue.
Returning later that night, Kid found Laurie in the bedroom with Heyes asleep on his bedroll right outside her door. As he peeked in to check on her, she opened her eyes, smiling at him. "So did you win?" she asked groggily.
"How'd you know I was playin'?" he smiled back at her, walking into the room.
"You've been in the bunkhouse for hours, what else are you gonna do when you're over there?"
"Well I guess the tree didn't hit you in the head. Still as smart as ever," he chuckled, sitting in the chair next to the bed. "Did you get some sleep?"
"Yeah, I just woke up," she stated. "I must have tried to move because I remember a shooting pain and then I saw your face."
"It made me forget the pain."
"Keep that up and you'll be competing with Heyes' silver tongue." Kid noticed the smile slip off Laurie's face. "How long's he been sleepin'?"
"I don't know. He must have gone to sleep after I was already asleep. I just noticed him there when I woke up."
"You know why he's out there don't you?"
Laurie shrugged her shoulders ever so slightly.
"Cause he doesn't think he's welcome in here."
Laurie looked down at her hands as she nervously played with them.
"He says he can tell by lookin' in your eyes." Kid sat waiting for Laurie to talk.
She closed her eyes and a tear slipped out, sliding down her face. She bit her bottom lip. "I'm sorry."
Kid waited for more, but Laurie just lay there. "He didn't mean what he said, what he did. He had a bad concussion."
Laurie nodded, "I know. But I can't." She lay with her lips pursed and her eyes closed tightly. After a few minutes she said, "I think I'm tired, I'd like to go back to sleep."
Kid nodded and stood up. As he was leaving the room he turned to her and said, "Nothing you or me could do would be worse than what he is doin’ to himself. He loves you very much and I think you still love him. I think you should give him a chance." He turned, walking away.
As Kid walked into his bedroom; Heyes rolled over and stared at the ceiling again.
The next couple of days went basically the same. Both Laurie and Heyes were pleasant with each other but they both stayed at arm's length.
Heyes was out checking on things in the compound when he ran across Wheat. He was saddling his horse. "Wheat," he said.
"Heyes," Wheat replied. "Where yagoin'?" he asked.
"To check on the boys up top," Heyes stated.
"I just got back, everythin's fine," Wheat stated.
"Well I'll just take a ride and check for myself," Heyes said as he continued to saddle his horse.
Wheat turned and put his hands on his hips, "What, you don't think I know my job?"
"I didn't say that Wheat," he said trying to sound conciliatory.
"Well it sounded that way to me," Wheat smugly stated. "I mean if I was you, I would be in the cabin tendin' to my wife instead of havin' my partner do it."
Heyes whirled around; his eyes grew dark and narrow as he stared at the man. "Best be minding your own business Wheat."
He put his hands up in front of him. "All I'm sayin' Heyes is I got my job down. Maybe you should be in the cabin with Laurie ‘stead of doin' everythin' else you been doin' to avoid her."
"Wheat," Heyes growled.
He took a breath and stared at Heyes. "Look Heyes, someone's gotta tell ya and since you ain'tlistenin' to Kid, it falls back on me." He looked at Heyes trying to read the man. With no further movement, Wheat took a step towards him and calmly said, "Heyes, for some unknown reason Laurie loves you. I saw how much it hurt her when you didn't remember her and now you're just throwin' it all away? I don't get it. You're supposed to be the great Hannibal Heyes, the genius and here you are actin' like a dang fool."
Heyes turned back around and went back to tightening the saddle.
"Can't see why'd she want you back actin' like this."
Heyes stopped tightening the saddle. With one hand resting on the horn and the other on the back of the seat he quietly said, "She doesn't."
"What?" Wheat asked.
"She doesn't" Heyes said a little louder. "The reason I'm not in there with Laurie is cause she doesn't want me back."
"She told you this?"
Heyes nodded. "I heard her tell Kid."
"You heard her tell Kid. She didn't say nuthin' to you and you just gave up? You didn't try to make it up to her? You didn't fight for her? Nuthin'!"
"You don't understand..." Heyes began but Wheat interrupted.
"I understand. Don't think I didn't see the bruises on her! Her arms, her face, I saw them. I saw her run out of the cabin after you walked in the other night. How she gets all quiet as soon as you walk in the room. I've seen all that and I also see the way she still looks at you. Even after all that! When she was trapped by the tree," Wheat stammered, as he got emotional. "You know what she did before she would let me go get you. She made me promise that if she didn't make it until you got back that I would tell you," Wheat stopped to collect himself as he got choked up. "She made me promise that I would tell you that she loves you and if you ever remembered who she was, she didn't blame you for what happened. She never stopped loving you." Wheat pursed his lips shaking his head at Heyes. "She's your woman and you overheard her saying she don't want you back. So what do you do? You tuck your tail between your legs and run off." Wheat shook his head at Heyes and let the words hang. "Just as well I guess. A sweet thing like Laurie, ain't gonna take long for her to replace your sorry ass," Wheat groused.
Heyes turned and glared at him.
"Hey," Wheat said putting his hands up in front of him. "You ain't got no right lookin' at me that way. You walked away from her remember."
Heyes continued to glare but Wheat stood his ground and glared back.
Wheat took a breath and then continued, "Think you lost more than your memory when the horse kicked ya."
Heyes tilted his head at him.
"Ya lost Hannibal Heyes."
Heyes was starting to get very agitated.
"The Heyes I knew would go and get what ever he wanted."
"It's different," he growled.
"For one, Laurie's a person."
"Yeah, so what. Hannibal Heyes don't get turned down by nobody. He would walk in the room and the woman would fall at his feet."
"She's not a saloon girl!" he barked.
"Pfft, so," Wheat smirked.
"I'm not forcing myself on her.
"Hannibal Heyes wouldn't have to force himself on nobody. He'd use his silver tongue and win them over in minutes."
Heyes diverted his eyes from Wheat.
"Dang," Wheat said waving his hand dismissively at Heyes. "If that's the best you can do she's better off without you." Wheat looked at him and shook his head, "Glad you remembered you're going for amnesty, it sure ain't worth callin' you no leader." Wheat turned and walked away.
Heyes mounted his horse and rode out of the compound.
Wheat exhaled and wiped his forehead at the sound of the hooves; grateful Heyes wasn't himself.
Heyes finished riding around and headed back to the leader's cabin. He pulled up just as Kid walked out on the porch with a bowl full of pink water and dumped it.
"Is Laurie okay?" he asked concerned.
"She's fine. I just changed her bandages. She's resting now," Kid replied as he put things away.
"Any signs of infection?" Heyes asked as he dismounted.
"No, she's healin’ real nice."
"Good," Heyes said pressing his lips together; he put his hands on his hips pushing his jacket behind him.
Kid turned to his partner; he'd seen the look before. "Somethin' on your mind Heyes?" he asked cautiously.
Heyes stood for a moment and then his eyes drifted up to meet Kid's. "Yeah," he started. "I've been thinking that Laurie's been doing so well, I'm going to move out of the cabin and over to the bunkhouse for a couple of night."
Kid shifted nervously not liking the sound of Heyes' voice. "A couple of nights?"
"Uh-huh," he said and swallowed. He started to pace a little. "I figured I should give her some more space, privacy. Me being out there with the door open and all don't give her much."
"And..." Kid said waiting for more.
"Well I figure in a couple of days, if she's still doing good, I'll leave."
"Heyes," Kid said seriously.
"Kid, I gotta go. I've worn out my welcome here. It's time for me to move on," Heyes said solemnly. Kid opened his mouth to say something but Heyes put his hand up to stop him. "Look Kid, Laurie doesn't want me around. I shouldn't make her uncomfortable. I'm not going back to Small Falls when you take her. It will be easier if I leave first."
"Easier on who?"
"I've thought this through. And I don't expect you to but if you want to join up with me, send word to Lom and he'll tell you where I'm at. Now I won't hold it against you if you stay with Laurie in Small Falls. I mean you have a nice life there."
"WE have a nice life there," Kid said getting angry. "WE, Heyes. That's you, me and Laurie have a nice life. What is she supposed to tell people where you are?"
"She'll tell them Joshua Smith died saving her from a runaway horse."
"I'm not gonna listen to this anymore and I'm not gonna tell her. You ARE!" Kid began to simmer. "I outta flatten ya right here and now and knock some sense back into you. If you weren't still recoverin’, you'd be pickin' your ass off this porch." He stormed away.
Heyes stood for a moment and sighed, he really messed things up good. Taking a breath in he blew it out threw his mouth and entered the cabin. He looked around the room and then peeked in on Laurie. She looked so peaceful; he watched her for a few minutes and then decided he needed to get his things together. He bent down and began rolling up his bedroll.
"Whatchadoin?" a quiet voice asked.
Heyes leaned back on his heals and looked into the bedroom. "Just rolling up my bedroll. I'm sorry I woke you."
"You didn't wake me. I was just resting my eyes," she replied as she carefully sat up in bed. "Why are you rolling up your bedroll?"
"I'm moving to the bunkhouse."
"So you have more privacy. You've been sleeping through the night." He said as he stood up and leaned on the door jam. Looking at her he smiled, "You're getting more color back in your face. You're looking good. You don't need me hanging around out here."
"I guess you would rather sleep on a bed."
Heyes shrugged, "No, I just thought...." He paused, "Anyway, you might want to try to get up and move around a little bit. No reason for me to be in the way."
"Heyes," Laurie said quietly. "This is the leader's cabin, you're the leader - you stay. I can go to the bunkhouse."
Heyes raised an eyebrow.
"Oh," Laurie giggled lightly and covered her mouth with her hand. She winced at the movement and then said, "Guess that wouldn't be so proper, me in the bunkhouse."
"Noooo," Heyes chuckled. "I don't think it would be proper at all. Anyway, the idea is to get you some privacy."
"Then I can go back to the supply shack," Laurie stated.
"No, you're still not out of the woods. I want someone to be near you in case you need something."
"How proper is it for me to be in the cabin alone with Kid."
Heyes creased his brow. "I'll kill anyone who says anything," he huffed. "You're safe, Kid wouldn't try anything."
"I know he wouldn't. Heyes," Laurie pleaded, "Please stay and let me go to the supply shack."
"When you can move without wincing," he stated crossing his arms.
Laurie pursed her lips.
"Didn't think so." They looked at each other for a minute and then Heyes added, "I better leave you to rest. If you need anything, let me know."
Laurie nodded and Heyes went back to gathering his things.
Kid stormed across the compound. He really wanted to hit something, no he really wanted to hit Heyes but he was afraid he would forget everything again. Damn, why was he acting this way? Kid threw open the door to the bunkhouse with a bang.
The gang jumped and looked at him.
"What's eatin' you?" Wheat snarled.
"Heyes," Kid seethed. "I want to flatten him and I can't!"
"Why not?" Hank asked.
"Cause if he do, he could git Heyes all concussed again, right?" Kyle said smiling, proud he knew the answer.
Kid turned his stare on Kyle and then softened it, "Yeah, you're right Kyle."
"Well ya don't got to worry ‘bout nothin' Kid. Wheat fixed it!" Kyle replied.
"Fixed what?" Kid groaned.
"Heyes," Kyle answered not understanding why Kid wasn't getting it. "Wheat stood up t' Heyes. Told him he was a dang fool and t' apologize t' Laurie."
"Wheat?" Kid asked confused.
"Yeah, well ya see," Wheat hemmed and hawed. "I got to talkin' to Heyes. I told him that Laurie still loved him and he should get his," Wheat paused for a second trying to think of a different word when Kyle chimed in.
"Sorry ass!" Kyle exclaimed. "Wheat told Heyes t' get his sorry ass back t' Laurie an' apologize!"
Kid turned to Wheat and lifted his eyebrow, "You're still alive?"
"Heyes just told me he's movin' to the bunkhouse for the next couple of days and then he's leavin'."
"Laurie ain't gonna be ready to travel that soon," Kyle said confused.
"He's not takin' Laurie. He said it's for her best!" Kid stated angrily.
"Did ya flatten ‘im?" Lobo asked.
Kid shook his head.
"He can't leave Laurie!" Kyle exclaimed. "Kid yagotta make him stay."
"Kyle I wish I knew how," Kid said sounding defeated. "Maybe you can make him feel at home in the bunkhouse until we can work things out."
The gang agreed to try and then Kid left, heading back to the cabin.
Kid walked back into the leader's cabin and saw Heyes' saddlebag and bedroll by the door and sighed. He was sitting by the fire quietly. He didn't move when Kid came in. Kid walked over and sat down in the chair next to him. They sat staring at the flickering flames, neither one of them moving. Finally Heyes broke the silence, "Laurie's resting."
Kid gave a nod of acknowledgement but continued to look forward. "Did you talk to her?"
"Yep," Heyes said quietly not changing his position. "Told her I would be moving to the bunkhouse but if she needed anything, to let me know."
Heyes shook his head. "No. I'll tell her when I'm leaving. No need to bring it up now."
"I still say you're wrong Heyes. I still think you need to talk to her."
Heyes' eyes drifted down to the floor as they sat in silence once more. They sat not saying a word to each other, not looking at each other for some time. Kid sat and wondered how to get through to Heyes and Heyes sat feeling the world of disappoint on his shoulders. Two lives he felt responsible for, two lives he felt he messed up. Finally, Heyes stood up. "Well I guess I'll head to the bunkhouse. I'm sure Wheat wasn't thrilled I'd be bunking with them."
Surprised, Kid looked up at his partner.
"I know you warned them I was coming."
Heyes chuckled lightly and then got serious. "It's for the best Kid."
"I don't think so Heyes."
Trying to ease the tension in the room Heyes smiled, "I thought we had an agreement about that." He patted Kid's shoulder. He picked up his belongings and then stopped at the door. "I'm just across the compound if you or Laurie needs anything," he said quietly over his shoulder before he left.
Heyes stepped out of the cabin and stopped. He couldn't stay in the cabin. He couldn't stay in the bunkhouse, well not without dealing with Wheat and he wasn't in the mood for that right now. He sighed, looking around the compound trying to figure out what to do. Spotting the supply shack he headed for it.
The blankets Kid had used to make Laurie a bed were all folded neatly in the corner. He put his things down and began making a bed for himself. He plopped himself down and wondered how he had gotten to this point. Everything had been going so well for him and Kid. He just told Kid he was breaking the partnership over a woman. He felt lost, confused and his head hurt. Damn this concussion. The gash the hoof left was healing but if he ran his hand over the area, he could still feel the lump where he was kicked. Right now the lump was throbbing. Too much too soon for him, he decided and lied down for a rest to clear his head.
Next thing Heyes knew, the sun was beginning to shine through the supply shack window. Blinking his eyes as he tried to remember where he was, he took out his pocket watch. Six o'clock. Disoriented and confused he ran his hand over his face and through his hair as he sat up. He glanced at the window, and then at his watch again. I must have slept longer than fifteen minutes he told himself. He continued looking at the window and it finally registered with him, it was six in the morning. The sun was coming up, not setting. He had slept twelve hours!
Pushing himself up, he stretched. In need of some water to splash on his face, he walked outside. The air was cool and dew covered the ground. Heyes looked around the compound he had once called home; it was quiet. A strange sense came over him as he remembered the previous day. The words Wheat said to him echoed through his brain. He would be leaving in a day or two, and wouldn't be welcomed back if he didn't put Wheat in his place. Then there was Kid. He told him to take Laurie home. He didn't expect Kid to join back up with him once she was settled, but what was he going to do without his partner. He had been his only family for so long and then it was Kid and Laurie. And now because he messed up, he wouldn’t have a family. Maybe he should come back here after they were gone. His head was swimming with confusion as he ran his hands through his hair. There was too much to think about, and way too much to sort out without first some water to the face and a cup of coffee.
Heyes headed to the pump for the water. Glancing at both the cabin and the bunkhouse, he tried to figure out where he could get a cup of coffee and go unnoticed. As he pumped the water, splashing his face, two horses entered the compound. Kyle and Hank rode up to Heyes.
"Mornin' Heyes," they said.
"Morning boys," Heyes replied. "Anything going on?"
"All's quiet," Kyle replied. "We'sputtin' the horses away and gettin' a cup of coffee if ya like to join us."
"Mighty nice offer Kyle," Heyes replied. "Who's making the coffee?"
"Jackson put it on before he relieved us," Hank replied.
"Sounds good to me," Heyes replied. "I'll help you with the horses." One problem solved, Heyes thought and then frowned. "Were's Wheat?"
"Sleepin' in the bunkhouse I suppose," Kyle replied.
Heyes sighed; maybe he didn't need a cup of coffee. As he took a step after Kyle he decided he might as well take care of that issue now too.
The rest of the occupants were still asleep when the three entered the bunkhouse and headed to the stove to get coffee. Sitting at the table with his cup Heyes gazed around the bunkhouse. Tools and supplies were strewn all over the place, no wonder they couldn't find anything. He shook his head.
"What's the matter Heyes," Kyle asked.
"Hmm?" he responded, as he was lost in thought.
"Yershakin' yer head like somethin's wrong?" Kyle stated.
"Oh, Heyes said. "Just noticing how standards have dropped since I've been here."
"Standards?" Kyle asked.
"Yeah," Heyes said taking a sip of his coffee then standing up and motioning the room with the other hand. "Things are all over the place. You got shovels mixed in with the pots, ropes here and there. Why are shovels in the bunkhouse?" he asked feeling frustrated.
"Wheat don't care," Kyle said sounding disheartened.
Heyes rolled his eyes, "Well maybe things would run smoother if Wheat cared."
The outlaw rolled over in his bed. "I hear my name?" he asked groggily.
Hank and Kyle sat quietly looking in the other direction, hoping he didn't talk to them.
"Yeah," Heyes said firmly. "I was telling Kyle and Hank that standards had dropped since I left."
Wheat rolled over and sat up. "Standards," he said angrily.
"Yeah," Heyes replied and took another sip of his coffee. "Nothings organized. You got shovels in the bunkhouse, wouldn't be surprised if I found dynamite in here too! You have half the supplies in here, half in the supply shack. How do you know where anything is? And look, the men are still in bed!"
Wheat stood up glaring at Heyes, nostrils flaring with each breath.
"They've gone soft under you Wheat."
Wheat glared at the back of Heyes.
"You want to step outside Wheat?" Heyes asked in his leader’s voice without turning around.
"So Kid can fight your battle," Wheat stated.
Heyes slowly turned around to face the man. His eyes were dark and his lips were thin. He gave Wheat his best Hannibal Heyes stare, drilling holes into his eyes. "This doesn't concern Kid. This is between you and me. You want to challenge me; we step outside, just you and me. Otherwise, when I'm here I'm the leader."
Wheat stared at Heyes and then took a breath giving a slight nod.
"Now that that's settled, let's get this place organized." Heyes turned his back to the gang, appearing to be looking around, but in fact, he took a deep breath, glad Wheat had backed down. “Kyle, Hank,” Heyes called out. "The two of you make breakfast. Wheat, you and me will sit down and I'll tell ya what needs to get done. Your job is to make sure the boys carry it out."
"Isn't that Kid's job?" Kyle asked innocently.
"Kid's busy taking care of Laurie," Heyes replied firmly. "You'll listen to Wheat and if you don't, you'll have to answer to me," Heyes stated in his leaders voice. "Now get up!"
"But Heyes, the sun ain't even all the way up!" Lobo whined.
"See Wheat," Heyes said. "They've gone soft!"
Wheat mumbled under his breath. "Everyone get up! Let's go," he yelled.
Mid morning Kid walked out of the leader's cabin. Seeing Wheat getting water in a bucket, he walked over to him. "How'd it go last night?"
"Heyes wasn't in the bunkhouse last night," Wheat stated with an edge to his voice as he pumped the water.
"He wasn't?" Kid asked, wondering where Heyes went last night and if he left Devil's Hole.
Wheat turned, glaring at Kid. His eyes were wide and his nostrils flared. “No, but he was there bright and early this mornin'," he said through gritted teeth.
Kid's gave a sigh of relief and then looked at Wheat's expression. He knew when Heyes was in a mood, everyone was gonna pay for it. He ran his hand over his face and rolled his eyes. "What did he do?" he asked even though he didn't really want to hear the answer.
"Woke us up at the crack of dawn. Sun wasn't even up!" Wheat exclaimed trying to control himself. "We've been bustin' our butts, rearrangin' the bunkhouse and organize things! Said we'd be more ee-fficient." Wheat snorted a few times.
Kid actually thought he saw steam coming from his head.
"If you don't do somethin' with your partner, I'm gonna kill him."
"Okay Wheat," Kid patted his shoulder.
Heyes stepped out on the porch and yelled across the compound, "Wheat, we need the water!" Noticing his partner he yelled, "Afternoon Kid. Good to see ya finally got up!" He turned, walking back into the bunkhouse.
"I'll figure something out!" Kid said apologetically to Wheat.
The outlaw glared at him, "You better! Or I'm gonna shoot him!" He picked up the water and headed to the bunkhouse.
Kid groaned. Waiting a beat, he followed Wheat over to the bunkhouse. Walking in, he saw the men working on re-arranging its contents. Heyes' back was to him as he explained to Wheat his vision. Kid took a breath in and blew it out his mouth. "Heyes," he called out.
He turned to see his partner standing in the doorway. "Hey, Kid," he said cheerfully.
"Can I talk to ya for a moment?" Kid asked waving his hand in his direction.
"Sure, let me just finish with Wheat," he said and went back to talking.
Kid looked around, and shook his head; Heyes must have had them up at the crack of dawn for such a transformation already. The whole left side of the bunkhouse had been organized with the bunks. Some of the men were putting up shelves and hooks for the pots, pans and Heyes was working on the far side trying to figure out what was in a big pile of odds and ends.
The brown-haired man finished talking to Wheat and walked over to his parnter. "What can I do for you Kid?" he asked as gave a pat to Kid's back.
"Why don't we talk outside," Kid said motioning out the door.
Heyes looked around, "Oh, right, away from the boys." Turning to Wheat he called out, "I'll be right back."
Wheat waved his hand and gave a halfhearted smile.
As soon as the pair walked out the door, the gang collapsed where they were.
"So Kid, what's on your mind?" Heyes asked with the innocence of a child.
Kid couldn't conceal the smile on his face. What a difference from yesterday when the weight of the world seemed to be on Heyes' shoulders. Give him a task to figure out or organize and he was a kid in the candy shop. "Havin' fun," he chuckled.
"Fun," Heyes scowled. "I'm not having fun. I'm organizing."
Kid raised his eyebrow.
"What? It was a disaster in there. Everything was mixed together. I don't know how they could find anything."
Kid continued to look at him waiting for Heyes to finish.
"They've become soft!" he flailed his arms in the air.
"Done?" Kid asked.
Heyes begrudgingly nodded.
"Isn't it the leader’s job to decide if they've become soft?"
Heyes' eyes narrowed slightly.
"Somethin’ you want to tell me Heyes? You plannin' on stayin' and bein’ the leader again?"
Heyes' eyes narrowed a little more. Twisting his face and pouting he shook his head ever so slightly.
"Then maybe you should let the real leader of the gang take care of things?" Kid said in a fatherly way.
"Kid," Heyes tried to explain. "What kind of friend would I be if I saw something wrong and didn't try to do anything to fix it?" Kid opened his mouth to speak but Heyes cut him off. "Think about it," he said gaining confidence. "Let's say the gang went out to rob a bank or a train. Because everything is all over the place, they don't bring a pick, or ax, maybe a shovel cause they couldn't find it. Or they didn't have enough rope to hoist the dynamite up to the roof. The bunkhouse has everything in it. Food, shovels, picks; for all I know they keep dynamite or nitroglycerin in there! They could get captured or worse killed because they didn't have the right supplies or the right planning." Sighing, Heyes gave his best pitiful look. "What kind of friend would I be when I knew there was a problem and did nothing to fix it."
Kid chuckled, "Found your silver tongue did you?"
Heyes smiled and raised his eyebrows.
The blond man rolled his eyes, "Maybe you could go a little easier on the gang?"
Heyes frowned, "Wheat talk to you?"
"Alright. I'll give them a break but if something happens to them on their next job, just remember, I tried to do something about it and you stopped me."
"Okay," Kid laughed and patted Heyes on the back. Getting serious Kid asked, "Where'd you sleep last night?"
"I heard about Wheat talkin' to you."
"Yeah well that's been settled."
Kid gave Heyes his undivided attention waiting for an explanation.
"You saw him listening to me."
"What'd ya do?"
Heyes shifted uncomfortably as his eyes wandered around the compound, looking anywhere but at Kid’s piercing glare.
"Heyes," Kid demanded.
"I called him out," Heyes mumbled.
"You what?" Kid roared.
"Kid, I had to let him know who the leader was. I had to," Heyes stammered.
"I wasn't there to back you up!"
"No you weren't. This was between him and me." Heyes pointed at himself as he got angry. "This didn't concern you!"
"What if he took you up on it? Huh? You gonna shoot Wheat?"
"I knew he wouldn't."
Kid's glare intensified.
"It was a calculated risk that I had to take. I had to show him I was Hannibal Heyes! I had to get my life, my self back!" Heyes stood next to Kid simmering finally he said quietly, "If he hadn't backed down I would have. I just needed to do it."
Kid nodded. He understood. Everything for Heyes had been spinning out of control since the accident. This was a way of getting some of himself back. Now Kid just hoped he would decide to fight for Laurie.
As soon as the door closed behind Heyes and Kid the gang collapsed. "Wheat if you don't do somethin' about Heyes, I'm leavin'," Hank said, collapsing on his bunk.
Wheat turned to Hank, "Just cause you've gone soft, I ain’t gonna go up against Heyes. Not when he's actin' like this."
"Yeah, he already pulled his gun twice on Wheat and hit him too," Kyle replied. "I don't think he should get on Heyes' bad side anymore."
Wheat scowled at Kyle, "I just don't want to hurt the man. It wouldn't be fair in his condition."
"Oh yeah, his being concussed and all," Kyle agreed nodding.
"Look, I'll talk to him," Wheat stated begrudgingly. "Find a way to get him to back off some."
"Don't be too hard on him though, he is still concussed and we don't want him leavin' Laurie?" Kyle piped in.
"Why not?" Wheat said. "If he's too stupid to figure out what he's got, maybe he should loose her."
"But she loves him," Kyle said looking like a wounded puppy.
Wheat rolled his eyes. "Fine," he grumbled. "Just stop lookin' so pitiful Kyle." Wheat looked around the room, for what he wasn't sure. A smile spread across his face, "Kyle, you still got the floor plans for robbin' the Denver Mint?"
"Sure Wheat. But you said we ain't never gonna do it. It was way too grandeeeous cause we'd all get killed," Kyle said confused. "It was jes for fun."
"I know that and you know that," Wheat said putting his arm around Kyle's shoulder. "But Heyes don't know that."
Kyle looked at Wheat confused.
"What's your plan Wheat?" Lobo asked.
"Kyle, get the plans and put them in the pile," he started. "When we get back to work, I want to make sure you come across them when Heyes is watching. Then pretend that you don't want him to see them."
"Why?" Kyle asked and then a smile spread across his face and his eyes lit up. "You're gonna trick Heyes ain't you Wheat!"
"Pfft," Wheat rolled his eyes. "That won't be hard. You just make it look like he ain't supposed to see the plan. The rest of you avoid eye contact with him. Walk away like your doin' somethin' else."
"Ain't no way Heyes is gonna leave thinkin' we're gonna use that plan!" Lobo stated. "He'll stay here just to convince us it's a bad plan."
"But we already know that," Kyle stated.
"Yes Kyle," Wheat said placing his hand on his shoulder again. "But Heyes don't know we know."
The gang laughed.
Kyle quickly got the plans, placing them near the top of the pile.
Kid went back to the leader's cabin and Heyes turned to go back into the bunkhouse. He paused before opening the door. Kid was right, he wasn't the leader, he hadn't been for some time and he didn't plan on coming back to this life.
As the door of the bunkhouse opened, the men scattered back to where they were working when Heyes left with Kid.
"Alright boys, let's get this pile of stuff put away," Wheat stated as Heyes walked into the room.
Heyes walked over to Wheat, "How's it going?"
"Good," Wheat said tucking his thumbs in his belt. "Just gettin' this last bit done."
Heyes was about to say something when he noticed Kyle picking up a piece of paper, and quickly shoving it in his pocket. "What cha got there Kyle?" Heyes asked.
Kyle looked like he had just got caught swiping a candy stick from the General Store. "Where?"
Pointing towards Kyle's pocket Heyes took a step towards him.
The rest of the men scattered like ants.
"In your pocket," Heyes replied firmly.
Kyle's face became long as his eyes danced around looking anywhere but at Heyes.
"Kyle," the dark haired man repeated, sounding more like the leader of the gang. "You're pocket."
Kyle swallowed hard as he dug into his pocket. Taking a step back, he handed him a piece of crumbled up paper.
Heyes' eyes widen as he read the plans. Turning to face Wheat, his eyes grew dark and his lips thinned. "The Denver Mint!"heexclaimed.
Wheat took a step back as brown eyes glared at him.
"These are plans to rob the Denver Mint!
Wheat shrugged lightly. "Well, maybe," he said trying to sound unconcerned.
"Are you insane?!" Heyes bellowed.
"Now Heyes," Wheat said trying to sound convincing. "I'm the leader of the gang, not you."
"You're going to get them all KILLED!" Heyes growled.
"You don't know that," Wheat said shifting his weight under Heyes' stare.
"I don't know that!" Heyes started to rant and threw his hands in the air as he began pacing. "I don't know that! He repeated himself. "I was the most successful leader of the Devil's Hole Gang and you're trying to tell me I can't tell from these plans that you're all gonna get killed if you try this!"
"Now Heyes," Wheat tried to jumping in but he would have nothing to do with it.
"Do you know how many guards there are at the Denver Mint? How do you expect to get into the building let alone near it!! Your wanted posters are plastered all over the place and you think you can just waltz in there. How are you going to get into the safe? Huh? Just walk in with some dynamite. Say excuse me I'm gonna blow the safe? What are you thinking?" Heyes looked at the gang as they diverted their eyes and nervously fidgeted. "Kyle," Heyes said taking a step towards him. "When are you planning on doing this?"
"We hadn't figured that part out yet," Kyle stammered.
Figuring he could get more answers from Kyle, Heyes stepped closer to him making Kyle begin to breath heavy. "Relax Kyle," Heyes said in his leader's voice. "I'm not gonna do anything to you. I just want to know, who thought up these plans."
"All of us," Kyle answered meekly.
Heyes ran his hands through his hair and then turned to look at Wheat. Lost for words he rubbed his hand over his face. "Wheat," Heyes said trying to remain calm. "Did you really think this plan would work?"
"I thought there may have been some flaws," he replied.
"Flaws," Heyes said taking a step towards Wheat causing him to back up. "Flaws!" he repeated himself louder. "Yeah I'd say getting yourself and your men killed a flaw!" Heyes looked at the gang, something seemed slightly off. He glanced back at Kyle and then looked at Wheat. No one was arguing the plan was good. No one was telling him they could do it, not even Wheat. Heyes covered his mouth with his hand to conceal a slight grin he thought was about to form on his face. He was being set up. He looked back at Wheat, "Well I'm gonna hold on to these plans for now. Unless you can come up with a good reason I should give them back to you, I'm burning them." Heyes glowered at Wheat and stormed out of the bunkhouse slamming the door.
Heyes stormed over to the leader's cabin bursting burst in. Kid was standing in the kitchen area cooking. Stomping over to him, he held the plans up. "What's going on?" he demanded.
Kid turned, glanced at the paper in Heyes' hand. Confusion spread across his face as he asked, "What?"
Heyes put his one hand on his hip as the other one continued holding the paper in front of Kid's face. "Did you have anything to do with this?" he asked accusingly.
Frustrations taking hold of Kid, he yanked the paper out of Heyes' hand. Creasing his brow and a look of exasperation on his face he asked, "Are they crazy?"
Heyes studied his partner’s face. "You had nothing to do with this?"
Kid shook his head.
"Hmmm," Heyes said still studying Kid's face.
"It's suicide," Kid stated.
Heyes gave him a smirk.
"It looks like Wheat's chicken scratch. Where'd ya get it?"
Heyes relaxed, realizing Kid was telling the truth. "Kyle tried to hide it from me when they were organizing."
"Yeah, I know. He shoved the paper into his pocket when he found it. I asked him about it and he played dumb."
Grinning, Kid rolled his eyes.
"I know, I know," Heyes said beginning to pace and then ran his hand through his hair. "Something’s up. I could tell. Just not sure..." Heyes stated as he was walking back towards Kid.
The bedroom door opened causing Heyes to stop dead in his tracks as he saw Laurie standing there. Loosing all train of thought of anything else he smiled, taking a step forward and then stopped himself. "You're up," he said as he restrained himself from going to her.
Heyes gazed at her; she was wearing one of his old shirts and her skirt. "Nice outfit," he said motioning with his hand.
"Oh," she giggled lightly. "I hope you don't mind, I needed something big to go over the bandages."
Heyes looked longingly at her, lost for words. Finally he said quietly, "I don't mine." He searched her eyes and for a moment he thought things were going to be alright.
Then she said, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you."
The words brought Heyes back into reality. "No," he said solemnly. "I told you I wouldn't be in the cabin. I'm sorry. I'll leave." Heyes turned and walked out of the cabin before Laurie or Kid had a chance to tell him to stay. Heyes stopped on the porch, looking around. He wasn't in the mood to head back to the bunkhouse, not until he had some time to think. Nothing to do in the supply shack and it was rather dark in there. His eyes wandered to the stable. He shrugged, walking towards it, figuring he could take care of the horses. It was something to do and he could think while doing it.
Laurie stood looking at the door as Heyes closed it. "I didn't mean to scare him away."
Kid went back to cooking, "I know. He's just trying to give you some space." He looked over his shoulder and saw Laurie. He thought she looked lost, like the first time he and Heyes met her. "He can't forgive himself for the way he treated you." Kid put the spoon he was using to stir the pot down and walked over to her. "He still loves you. I can see it every time he looks at you. Every time he thinks of you," he said.
Laurie looked down at her hands as she fidgeted with them. "He's not going back to Small Falls is he?"
Laurie's eyes drifted up to meet Kid's, they were filled with tears.
"He doesn't want to hurt you anymore and I don't think he could take being that close to you."
Laurie tried to blink back the tears. "I'm sorry." She closed her eyes and the tears made streams down her face. Wiping them off, she tried plastering a plaster a smile on. "He'll forget me," she giggled at the irony of her statement.
Smoke started coming from the pan and Kid quickly turned to save dinner from burning. The two ate in silence as Laurie stared at her plate, pushing the food around more than eating it.
Finishing up, Kid stood up and made another plate.
"Is that for Heyes?" she quietly asked.
"Yeah," Kid replied as he fixed the plate. "You know he won't eat if I don't bring it to him."
"Won't he eat in the bunkhouse?"
Kid shook his head, picking up the plate and heading towards the door.
"Do you think he would eat it if I brought it to him?" Laurie asked quietly.
"I don't know where he went. I'm not sure if you should be walkin' all over the compound lookin’ for him quite yet."
She nodded sadly.
Kid took a step towards the door.
"He went into the stable when he left here," Laurie said, turning back into the bedroom.
"He did?" Kid stopped.
Turning back to him, she pointed at the front window. "I saw him walk there while you were cooking."
"I think he would eat it if you brought it to him," Kid said, holding the plate out in her direction.
She turned, trying to smile but couldn't hold it on her face.
"Are you sure you're up to this? I mean you just got out of bed."
Laurie nodded and Kid handed her the plate.
Laurie found Heyes in the back of the stable brushing his horse. She could hear him talking but couldn't hear what he was saying. She leaned against a post before calling out his name. She hadn't realized how long a walk it was from the cabin. She quietly sighed; I guess that's what happens when you loose a lot of blood, you get tired real easy.
"Well girl," she heard Heyes say. "She's out of bed. Guess that means we'll be leaving in a couple of days. It'll be just me and you then."
Laurie stood there shocked at what she had heard.
Heyes stepped out of the stall startling Laurie and she gasped. "I'm sorry, I didn't hear you come in," Heyes said as he stepped towards her.
Laurie tried to regain her senses and calm herself down. "It's okay; I don't know why I was so startled." She looked at the plate she was holding in front of her. "I brought you dinner."
"Thank you," Heyes said quietly, taking the plate from her. "You didn't have to go to the trouble."
"Kid made it, I just brought it to you," she said.
"Well thank you." Looking around for a place to sit, he spotted a couple of hay bails and sat down on one.
Laurie stood looking at him for a moment. "Well, I won't bother you anymore," she said apologetically and turned to leave.
"Would you keep me company," Heyes croaked out, as he stood up, motioning to the second bail of hay right next to the one he was sitting on.
"You wouldn't mind? I mean if you would rather be alone," Laurie stammered.
"No, I wouldn't mind," Heyes took a step towards her and stopped, thinking he should stay put so not to scare her away.
"Thank you," Laurie said meekly as she walked over and sat down on the hay.
As Laurie left with the plate for Heyes, Kid headed over to the bunkhouse. Walking in, he stopped and looked around. The gang was scattered about but looked up to see who came in. "Boys," Kid said nodding his head in their direction.
"Kid," they replied.
Spotting Wheat over at the table Kid walked over to him. He placed a piece of paper on the table in front of him. "Care to explain?"
Wheat looked at the plans and his eyes drifted up to an icy blue stare. "Ha," Wheat laughed weakly. "Where'd ya get that?"
Kid pushed his hat back, "Heyes," he simply stated.
"Well," Wheat chuckled nervously. "Ah, you see, there um, ah, plans to rob the Denver Mint."
"I see that," Kid stated and then looked around at the rest of the gang whom had gotten extremely quiet. "Just wonderin' if'n you're really fool hearted enough to attempt this or what you're tryin’ to pull over on Heyes."
"We ain'ttryin' to pull nothin' over on Heyes," Kyle chimed in.
"Kyle," Kid turned to meet his eyes.
Kyle swallowed hard as he received the Kid Curry stare. "Care to explain then?"
"We's um, we's was jestryin' to help," Kyle stammered.
"Help?" Kid asked raising his eyebrow.
"Yeah," Kyle squeaked out.
Kid turned back to Wheat. "Well?"
"Ya see Kid. We figured if Heyes thought we were gonna try this here plan. He would have to stay to try to talk us out of it."
"This plan," Kid picked up the paper. "You did this just to keep Heyes here."
"Well we planned it when we was dead drunk one night," Kyle laughed and then stopped himself when Kid's expression didn't change. "But we planned for Heyes to find it so he would stop us."
Kid smiled, shaking his head. "Has the gang gone into the match makin' business? First you try to get Laurie to stay and now Heyes. You know he's not gonna be happy."
"If'n he and Laurie git back together, we figured he won't mind us trickin' him none," Lobo said.
"Probably right on that one," Kid chuckled. "But I think he might be on to ya. Better come up with another plan."
As Heyes ate dinner, he and Laurie talked. Mostly about the book, but they talked. Finishing the plate his eyes fell upon her face, "I should get you back to the cabin, you're looking a little tired."
Laurie nodded slightly.
Heyes stood up, offering her his hand. "Thank you for keeping me company," he said, giving a dimpled smile.
"You're welcome," Laurie smiled bashfully back.
Walking out of the barn, a fine mist started. Laurie looked up and felt the rain hit her face. "It feels so good," she said.
Heyes gazed at her, longing to reach at and touch her. "We better get you back to the cabin before it rains any harder."
Walking up on to the porch Heyes stopped at the door. Hesitating for a moment, he opened the door for her and then stepped to the side. She turned and smiled at him. The wind picked up, blowing her hair and sticking it to her wet face. "I love sitting by the fire in the rain."
"I know," Heyes said as he reached up, gently brushing her face with his fingertips as he wiped the hair away. His hand followed the hair to her shoulder where it lingered. He nervously licked his lip as she gazed into his eyes.
"Heyes," they heard across the compound. "Heyes!" They both turned to see Kyle standing on the porch of the bunkhouse. "You comin' to play poker?" he shouted, not wanting to go out in the rain.
Heyes turned back to Laurie.
"Go," she smiled.
"I can stay," he said hopeful.
"No, go. You haven't played poker with the boys since you got here," she said looking into his eyes.
"Heyes, yacomin'?" Kyle yelled again.
Heyes looked into Laurie's eyes and she nodded.
"Is Kid over there?" Heyes shouted over his shoulder.
"Yeah, he's here," Kyle replied.
"Go, I'm a little tired. I'm almost done with the book," she smiled at Heyes. "I'm fine. I can get up and move around by myself."
He looked at her for assurance. "I'll be right there Kyle," Heyes called out. "If you need anything, just yell," he said softly.
"Thank you but I'll be fine. I'll finish the book and then go to sleep," she pledged.
"Okay," Heyes said, stepping closer to Laurie. He was going to kiss her on the lips but at the last second kissed her forehead. "Sweet dreams."
Laurie walked into the cabin closing the door.
Heyes placed his hand on his hat to hold it in place and ran for the bunkhouse.
Walking in, he hung up his hat, brushed off his shirt and sat down to play poker.
The gang played poker, drank whiskey and smoked cigars for a few hours. Kyle was up walking around after folding his hand. He opened the door to get some fresh air. "Wooeee!" he exclaimed as in began to pour. "It's rainin' cats and dogs!"
The gang leaned back in their chairs to see the sheets of rain hitting the compound.
Throwing in his bid, Kid looked out the door. "Hope you don't mind playin' till it slows down boys. A man could drown in that."
"I plan on playin' till I win back some of my money," Wheat replied as he called the hand.
Kyle was closing the door when a bolt of lightning lit up the sky and the room followed by a deafening crash of thunder. Kyle jumped back at the sound.
"Whoa!" a startled Lobo yelled out.
"Dang!" Wheat yelled as the sky lit up again and another thunderous boom echoed in the compound. "That had to hit somethin’."
Heyes looked up with the first flash of light. He was on his feet at the first clap of thunder and grabbing his hat he ran out the door into the torrential downpour by the thunderous boom.
"Heyes!" Wheat yelled after him.
He continued to run across the compound as the sky lit up a third time and the sound of thunder came simultaneously.
"What's he thinkin'? Dang fool's gonna get himself killed!"
Kid was on his feet, watching his partner run through the already deep puddles towards the leader's cabin. Seeing him reach the porch he let out the breath he didn't know he was holding. "Laurie," Kid stated. "He was thinkin' of Laurie."
The wind was picking up and rain started to come in through the door. "Close the door Kyle," Wheat yelled and then jumped slightly as another blast was heard. "Well he got there and unless anyone else wants to try to drown himself, might as well get back to the game."
The gang nodded and headed back to the table.
Heyes burst in the door as the sky lit up again. "Laurie," he called out, quickly scanning the front room. Running to the open bedroom door, he spotted her sitting on the floor with her knees pulled up to her chest. He stopped and then took a step forward, "Laurie, it's okay, I'm here." Reaching her, he bent down and began pulling her into his arms. As he did, the water from his hat and shirtsleeves poured off making a puddle. He stopped himself from grabbing her, instead just touching her hands as he squatted down in front of her, pushing his hat back. "I'm here," he said, rubbing her hands.
Her eyes drifted up to him and then to the puddle he was making on the floor. "You look like you took a swim in the pond but forgot to take your clothes off," she said trying to sound relaxed but not pulling it off. Another crash of thunder echoed through the compound. Laurie tensed, closing her eyes she began to tremble.
Heyes stood up, pulling her up with him. "It's okay sweetheart," he said trying to soothe her. He wrapped his arms around her in a loose hug trying to touch her as little as possible while the puddle on the floor got bigger.
Touching his chest her eyes widened, "You're soaked."
He chuckled, "I know."
Her eyes met his and she giggled. "I know you know but you are really soaked." Her eyes glanced over his body. "Every inch of you is soaked." She giggled again. "You look like a drowned rat."
He smirked at her, "Thanks."
"I'm sorry," Laurie said, jumping again at the sound of the storm. "You need to get out of those wet clothes."
Heyes tilted his head and lifted an eyebrow at her.
Laurie patted him playfully, "You need to get into dry clothes."
Heyes looked around the room, "Problem is my saddlebag is in the supply shack."
"Doesn't Kid have anything you can borrow? You'll catch the death of you if you don't change." Another crash of thunder rang through the cabin causing Laurie to shudder in fear.
Heyes pulled her close for a moment, kissing her temple. "I'm here, it's okay," he let go of her, stepping back. "I'll go see what I can borrow from Kid. I can't hold you if I stay in these." He kissed her temple again. "I'll be right back."
Heyes left to go to Kid's room while Laurie found a rag to mop up the floor; anything to keep her mind off of the raging storm. He reappeared in the door wearing a red Henley and had a blanket wrapped around his waist.
Looking up, Laurie tried to suppress a smile.
"What?" Heyes asked sounding indignant.
"Nothing," she desperately tried to hold back a giggle.
He tried to glare at her but wasn't successful.
"You kind of look like you have a skirt on," she finally giggled followed by yelp as more thunder crashed, echoing through the compound.
Heyes stepped over to her, pulling her into a hug, "It may look like a skirt, but at least I can hold you without getting you wet."
Laurie relaxed into him.
He held her securely against his chest as the height of the storm sent never ending waves of thunder and lightning. Heyes finally whispered, "Come on, let's sit on the bed." He maneuvered them both to the bed. He sat propped up against the wall and wrapped his arm around her as she rested her head on his chest. He rubbed her back lightly and stroked her hair. Soon he could feel Laurie relax completely as she drifted off to sleep in his arms.
The storm continued well into the night. Heyes sat propped up holding Laurie. After a while, he was able to find a comfortable position and listening to her soft breathing, he fell asleep. As the storm began to wane, Kid made his way across the compound, back to the leader's cabin. Walking in he saw Heyes' clothes draped over the chair by the fire and smiled. Then he noticed the open bedroom door. He walked over, looking in. He saw the outline of Heyes propped up in the bed holding Laurie. Kid chuckled to himself and headed off to bed.
Heyes awoke with a start when he felt Laurie move. "What?" he said disoriented as he looked around the room, trying to remember where he was.
"I'm sorry," she said laying her hand on his chest to try to calm him down.
Blinking, Heyes saw her sitting next to him and his breathing started to slow.
"I'm sorry I woke you," she said quietly. "I was just going to get up and make breakfast."
"No, you relax," he said still trying to orient himself.
"It's the least I can do," she replied.
Heyes looked at Laurie somewhat confused.
She shook her head and rolled her eyes. "Last night, remember. You almost drowned to be here for me," she smiled. "Just sleeping propped up like that so you could hold me deserves breakfast," she rubbed his arm lightly as she ran her hand up and down it. "I don't know what I would have done if it wasn't for you."
"You would have been fine," he said, reaching up to caress her cheek.
She closed her eyes, feeling the warmth of his hand. Pulling back into herself she stated, "I really didn't mean to wake you up. I thought I could slip away to make breakfast. Rest, I'll call you when it's done." She got up and started to walk away.
"I can help," Heyes said, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. Moaning lightly, he realized how stiff he had gotten from being in the same position all night. Holding up his hand, "I'll be with you in a minute or two."
Laurie giggled, "Take your time; I'll go get breakfast started."
"No, no. I'm coming," Heyes insisted, calling out to her, then groaning as he stood up.
"Heyes," Kid yelled from the back bedroom. "Will you just shut up and let Laurie cook for you."
"I don't think you were included in this conversation," he yelled back sounding rather displeased with the comment.
"Well if you wouldn't make so much noise gruntin' and groanin'," Kid answered not too pleasantly as he got out of bed, making his way to the main room. "I wouldn't have been woken up and I wouldn't have said anythin’!" He stopped talking when he caught sight of his partner. "You're wearin' my favorite Henley," he huffed.
"No need getting proddy Kid. My saddlebag is in the supply shack and I needed something dry to change into," Heyes glumly said.
"Why do you have the blanket wrapped around you?" Kid asked still sounding annoyed.
"I just said my saddlebag is in the supply shack. I was soaked and needed something to change into," Heyes stated sounding exasperated. "You're pants don't exactly fit me. I can't be parading around in front of Laurie with just your long johns on!"
"She's your wife, she's seen you nekkid!" Kid said rather confused.
Heyes' body stiffened. Under his breath so only Kid could hear him he firmly stated, "I'm not going to force myself on her or even have her think I am." Heyes snorted. "If you would go get my saddlebag, I will change." Kid opened his mouth to respond but Heyes cut him off. "Never mind, I'll go get it," he hissed then stormed out the door.
Kid looked over at Laurie shrugging his shoulders.
She frowned. "I'm sorry. He was soaked to the bones last night. I suggested he borrow something of yours. I'll wash them for you when he gets back."
Kid put his hand up. "I'll apologize when he gets back," he stated. "I'm just grouchy."
"Would breakfast make you un-grouchy?" Laurie asked sweetly.
Kid shrugged his shoulders trying to be coy, "Maybe."
She laughed, rolling her eyes. "Pull up a chair. I'll get breakfast going."
Kid walked over to her, "Heyes was right, you should take it easy. Let me help."
"I'm fine," she said.
Kid glared at her.
"Fine," she sighed. "Help."
Picking up the bacon, Kid began slicing it as Laurie mixed the biscuits.
"The two of you looked cozy last night."
She whipped around looking horrified. "He was a perfect gentleman. I fell asleep in his arms. That's all."
Kid chuckled, "Relax." He said as he put his hands on her shoulders. "I didn't mean anything. Just that the two of you were getting along." Kid pulled her into a hug, kissing the top of her head.
Walking back into the cabin, Heyes stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Kid hug Laurie. "Oh, I'm sorry," Heyes said sounding dejected as he turned to leave.
"Heyes," Kid called out letting go of Laurie. "I was just telling Laurie I was glad you were here for her."
"And," she said prodding Kid.
He scowled at her.
She tilted her head, glaring at him, delighted in his discomfort.
"And," he paused grimacing slightly. "And I'm sorry for gettin' on you for the long johns."
Heyes relaxed, smiling as he walked back into the cabin. "Nice to see you can still make him squirm," he said to Laurie, kissing her forehead. Clapping his hands together, he said, "Let's make breakfast!"
Breakfast was rather pleasant as the three sat together, talking and laughing. Heyes thought it almost seemed like before. He could still tell Laurie had her guard up, but he could see some of the old Laurie coming out. After breakfast, she decided to lie down. Lack of sleep the night before and making breakfast had tired her out.
Heyes and Kid walked out on the porch. Kid turned to his partner, "I'm heading up top, feel like a ride?"
Heyes looked around. Seeing a pile of wood in need of chopping he said, "I think I'll stay here, chop some wood, keep on eye on Laurie."
Kid smiled at Heyes and patted his back. Stepping off the porch he laughed, "Never thought I'd hear Hannibal Heyes volunteer for work that's tough on the back just for an excuse to stay near the girl!"
Heyes chuckled, retorting, "That's usually your job Kid!"
Kid continued to chuckle as he waved his hand over his shoulder. He told Wheat he would take a look at things up top. On his way out of the compound he stopped by the bunkhouse. "Mornin' boys," he said walking in.
"Mornin' Kid," they replied.
"Well, how's Heyes and Laurie," Wheat asked.
"They're talkin'," Kid replied.
"That's good," Kyle beamed.
"Yeah it is," Kid stated. "Have any more ideas to keep Heyes here?"
They shook their heads.
"Well you might think of tryin’ to make Heyes jealous," Kid said turning back towards the door. "Catch ya later boys."
"Later, Kid," they replied.
"So how's we gonna get Heyes jealous?" Hank asked.
"Someone could give her flowers," Lobo stated.
"Dang," Wheat exclaimed. "Kyle run out and tell Kid to stay off the south pass, it's blocked again."
Kyle got up and ran after Kid.
"So who's gonna give Laurie flowers?" Hank asked.
Wheat smiled at the door. The rest of the gang was smiling too when Kyle walked back into the bunkhouse.
"So who's gonna give Laurie flowers?" Kyle asked innocently.
The rest of the gang turned, smiling at him.
Oblivious for a moment as he looked around, his eyes became wide when he realized what was going on. "Ah-uh!" Kyle shook his head vehemently. "Heyes will KILL me!"
Wheat put a supportive arm around Kyle's shoulder, "Heyes won't kill you. He likes you."
"Nope, ain't gonna do it," Kyle kept insisting. "You do it Wheat."
"Heyes won't believe I'm givin' Laurie flowers," Wheat stated.
"Well I ain't gonna do it!" Kyle exclaimed.
"Even if it's for Laurie? You want her to be happy don't you?" Wheat dragged out.
Kyle frowned, "Ah, why'd you have to say that Wheat? Heyes is gonna kill me."
"We'll all be watchin' to make sure he don't. Right boys?" Wheat asked.
"That's right," "We'll watch," "Yep," were all heard at once from the gang.
Kyle sighed, looking at the rest of the gang. With puppy dog eyes he turned back to Wheat, "For Laurie, okay."
"That's the spirit," Wheat said clapping Kyle's back creating a puff of dust.
As the gang stood on the porch watching, Kyle all cleaned up, hair slicked down, walked towards the leader's cabin with a fist full of flowers. He kept turning around, looking at the gang as Wheat kept shooing him forward. Off to the side of the leader's cabin Heyes was chopping wood.
Heyes looked up from chopping, a Kyle approached. "Kyle," he said, frowning.
"Heyes," Kyle smiled nervously and kept walking.
"Kyle," Heyes said more sternly. "Where you going?"
"To see Laurie," he squeaked out.
Kyle did as he was told but didn't turn to look at the ex-leader.
Kid arrived on his horse, riding up to the bunkhouse porch he asked,"You tryin' to get Kyle killed?"
Wheat nodded at him. "Kyle's just bringin' Laurie flowers to help her feel better."
"Yeah," Kid said suspiciously. "He just has to walk past Heyes to do it."
Wheat smirked slightly, shrugging his shoulders.
Rolling his eyes, Kid dismounted, joining the others on the porch.
"Kyle, turn around," Heyes stated firmly.
Kyle turned very slowly with a worried look on his face. When he was looking at Heyes, Heyes put down the ax. "Why are you bringing flowers to Laurie?"
Relaxing a little, Kyle happily responded, "To cheer her up."
"She's my wife, Kyle. Do you think it's such a good idea to bring my wife flowers?"
Kyle swallowed hard and blinked his eyes. "Ah Heyes," he whined. "You got me all confused."
Heyes chuckled, "How did I confuse you Kyle?"
"Well," he hemmed and hawed. "First ya don't remember her so she ain't your wife. Then ya do and she don't want ya no more so ya leave. I figured yous didn't fight for her, she weren't your woman no more."
Heyes glared at Kyle.
"I jes wanted to make her happy that's all."
Heyes continued to glare at Kyle making him very uncomfortable.
"You're ain't gonna kill me are ya Heyes?"
"No Kyle, I'm not gonna kill ya," Heyes sighed, walking over to him. "Give me the flowers. I'll give them to her."
Kyle nodded meekly, handling him the flowers.
"Thank you Kyle, now get," Heyes said waving him away.
Kyle practically ran back across the compound.
Walking into the cabin, Heyes paused not sure what he should do. Taking a breath, he slowly blew it out as he made his way to the bedroom door, quietly knocking.
"Come in," Laurie said.
Heyes opened the door slowly, peeking in. Seeing Laurie sitting up in bed, he smiled. "How are you feeling?" he asked as he walked cautiously into the room.
"Better," she replied.
"I brought you some flowers," he began and then stopped himself. He handed them to her and she smelled them.
"Oh they smell so nice, thank you," she said.
The smile slid off his face.
Laurie tilted her head at him.
"You should thank Kyle not me."
"Yeah, Kyle. He was bringing them over. I stopped him. I'm sorry."
Laurie smiled sadly.
"He said he just wanted to make you happy," Heyes said sadly. He closed his eyes, "All I want is for you to be happy. I know you can never forgive me for the way I treated you," he snorted lightly. "I can't forgive myself." He turned to leave the room.
"Heyes," Laurie said quietly. "There's nothing to forgive."
Heyes nodded his head, continuing to walk towards the door.
"Heyes, I said there was nothing to forgive, you're not responsible for what you said and did."
He turned back around towards her.
"Han, Heyes," Laurie corrected herself. "You got kicked in the head by a horse saving me. It's not your fault."
"I still said those things, I hurt you," he said, shaking his head.
"That wasn't you," Laurie stated. "I looked in your eyes and it wasn't you."
Heyes contemplated what Laurie was saying and then said, "But you told me to go away. Then any time I think things may be getting better, you stiffen up and push me away again."
Laurie closed her eyes and pressed her lips together. She needed to be strong but the wound was still so fresh. Afraid her voice would fail her she nodded.
"Why?" Heyes choked out.
"Because I can't take the chance," Laurie whispered.
Heyes watched her and saw pain on her face.
She finally opened her eyes. "Of loosing you again." Closing her eyes again, a single teardrop ran down her face. Finding it hard to breath she admitted, "I can't take the chance of loving you again and loosing you. It hurts too much."
Heyes walked over and sat on the side of the bed. Picking up Laurie's hands, he held them. "I didn't want to hurt you."
"If I could do anything to take back the hurt back, I would." Heyes smiled slightly, "I promise I'll try not to get kicked by a horse again."
Laurie giggled, opening her eyes another tear escaped.
Reaching up, Heyes wiped the tear off with his thumb as he cupped her face.
She leaned into his hand, feeling the warmth.
"Kyle and Wheat told me I didn't fight for you. I didn't try hard enough to win you back." He brushed her cheek with his thumb as she turned into it. "All I want is for you to be happy. Every time you look at me you look so sad."
Laurie moved her face away from his hand and looked down at hers. "You, well all I knew of you died that day. Your body was still here but you weren't." She sniffed and then looked up into his eyes. "I would look in your eyes, and I didn't recognize the person looking back at me." Tears began streaming down her face. "I gave your heart away. I wasn't strong enough to keep it." She closed her eyes and covered her mouth with her hand as she began to sob.
Heyes reached out, touching her arms, he lightly rubbed them.
"I was eight again and all alone. The only way I knew how to survive was to shut out everything, everyone." She blinked trying to clear the tears from her eyes. "I can't open up again," she cried.
Heyes pulled her into a hug. "Sshh, I'm sorry I upset you," he said trying to soothe her. He rubbed her back as she leaned into him.
After a few minutes Laurie pulled herself together, sitting up sniffing.
Heyes handed her his bandana.
She smiled at him.
He rubbed her arms lightly again. "You okay?" he asked.
"Good," he said smiling. "You know I was thinking, if you wouldn't mind," he stammered. "That maybe I could try to court you again. Maybe get you to trust me again. I won't if it's going to upset you. But I was hoping you'd say okay. So is it okay?" He gazed into her eyes.
Smiling meekly, she nodded.
"Good," Heyes smiled.
"Now, you look tired. I think maybe you should rest some more."
Kissing her head, he got up to leave. "Oh, let me get some water for your flowers." He left the room, coming back with the coffee pot. "Only thing I could find that would hold them." He smiled and walked over to the side of the bed. "Sweet dreams," he said leaning over to ever so softly kiss her lips. Turning, he left.
Laurie put her fingers up to her lips, lightly touching them remembering the kiss.
Heyes sat in the outside room trying to decide what he should do next. What could he do for Laurie? After an hour or so and many ideas getting tossed aside, Heyes' smile reached his eyes. He went out in search of his partner."Kid," he called out seeing him talking to some of the boys in the compound.
The blond man turned to see Heyes walking towards him with a purposed.
When he got closer Heyes said, "Kid, need your help." Motioning with his hand he said, "Follow me".
He nodded and went with Heyes.
Heyes zealously walked over to the bunkhouse, flinging the door open. "Kyle," he said seeing him inside. "Need you to put on the water for a bath," he instructed before quickly turning and leaving the bunkhouse. He was walking so quickly, Kid was having a tough time keeping up.
"Heyes," Kid finally called out. "Can you slow down?"
"What?" he said turning to look at him.
"Can you slow down?"
"Sure Kid. Got a problem?"
"No, I don't have a problem. You're almost runnin' all over the place and I have no idea why."
"Oh," Heyes said giving a dimpled smile. "You're going to help me bring the bathtub to Laurie," he said and was off again.
"We're gonna bring the bathtub to Laurie."
"Do you know how much it weighs?"
"We won't put the water into it until it's in the cabin," Heyes said as he kept moving.
Kid shook his head. "Heyes, do you know how much an empty bathtub weighs?"
"No," he said innocently as he wasn't going to be swayed from his idea. He stopped at the shack that held the tub and walked in. "Okay Kid, I'll pick up this end and you get that end. On three," he said as he began to count. They both tried to lift it, but barely got it an inch off the floor before they dropped it.
"Heyes there is no way we are going to get the bathtub to Laurie. She can come here," Kid stated.
Heyes glared at Kid.
"You can stand outside to make sure no one comes in.”
"No," Heyes stated. "I want her to be able to take a bath in the cabin. I'll stand outside there!"
"Heyes…" he started.
"Kid we're getting the bathtub over to her. I can't think of anything else to do for her that would impress her," Heyes said adamantly.
Kid stopped, looking at his partner he smiled. "Impress her?"
"Kyle already brought her flowers so I can't do that. I can't take her out to dinner or to a dance. I need something to surprise her with, something that will make her smile. I bought the Lilac soap she likes in town before all this happened. I was going to save it. Give it to her for a special occasion. This is the special occasion Kid. It can't be in this smelly shack."
Kid studied his partner. "They got to ya, didn't they?"
Heyes frowned at him. "Don't know what you're talking about."
Kid tilted his head, giving Heyes a smug look.
"I'd like to think I was just thinking of Laurie's feelings," Heyes smirked.
Kid rolled his eyes. "So how do you think we are gonna get this to the leader's cabin?"
Heyes chuckled. "Since they are so determined to get me and Laurie back together, they can help." Heyes looked at Kid's surprised expression. "Yeah, I know all about it. First keeping Laurie here and now it's my turn."
Heyes turned, heading back to the bunkhouse. "Just follow my lead." Walking into the bunkhouse, Heyes' shoulder's drooped. "Kyle you can forget about the water."
"Why?" Kyle looked at Heyes. "Heyes what's the matter?"
"Nothing," he sighed, plopping down in a chair.
"You're sure actin' like somethin' wrong," Kyle insisted.
"It's just," he sighed loudly. "I thought that maybe if I brought the bathtub to Laurie, maybe just maybe she might decide I wasn't so bad."
"So why ain'tyabringin' her the tub?" Wheat asked.
"It's too heavy for me and Kid to move, we tried," Heyes said doing his ‘best dejected’ act.
"Well don't fill it with water," Lobo stated.
"Can't pick it up even without water," Kid replied.
Kyle looked around the room. "Well maybe if wes all tried, we could move it!"
Heyes looked up giving a half smile. "Kyle, that's a plan!" he said enthusiastically as he stood up, clapping Kyle on the back. "If we all lifted it, I'm sure we could get it to the cabin!"
Kyle smiled ear to ear. He was so pleased with himself. "Well come on, let's get the tub." No one else moved, "Come on," he repeated himself. "We got t' help Heyes!"
The rest of the gang looked around at each other. Slowly they all began to stand up.
As they gathered around the tub, Heyes instructed everyone where to stand. "Okay, on three. One, two three." With a tug and a groan the tub was lifted off the floor. They slowly shuffled towards the door. Half way to the cabin they set it down, taking a break.
Laurie heard a commotion and looked at the window. She giggled at the site.
Finally, the group got the tub into the leader's cabin, dropping it on the floor.
"Sshh," Heyes said. "Laurie might be sleeping," he said as he looked at the closed bedroom door.
"Heyes," Kid said amused. "I don't even think I could sleep through all this noise."
Heyes smiled and shrugged lightly.
"Okay boys, the water should be ready," Heyes stated. "Go get it."
"Heyes," they grumbled.
Heyes' shoulders drooped again, "I thought you wanted to help. If I have to carry all the water over here, it will be cold by the time I'm done."
Wheat rolled his eyes. "Boys, get the water for Heyes," he instructed.
The gang left to retrieve the water.
Walking over to Heyes, Kid clapped him on the back. "Your silver tongue has done it again Heyes." He chuckled.
Heyes smiled, very pleased with himself.
"You managed to have the boys do all the work with the tub and now the water with us just supervisin’." Kid smiled with pride at his partner. "I think you're the genius you think you are."
The men started to bring the water, filling the tube. Heyes went to his saddlebag, pulling out the lilac soap he bought for Laurie. When the tub was filled, he turned to the gang. "Thanks," he said.
"Alright, everyone out," Kid said ushering the gang out the door. "Let's let Heyes get Laurie before the water gets cold." He turned back, "You know there is no hole in the floor for the water to drain."
Heyes smiled, "One problem at a time."
Kid gave a slight nod and then closed the door behind him.
Heyes looked nervously at the bedroom door and then walked over, lightly knocking.
"Come in," Laurie said.
He opened the door; Laurie was sitting up in bed. He smiled. Looking down at the satchel he held in his hand he walked over to the side of the bed. All of a sudden he felt completely unsure of himself. He licked his lip nervously, handing the satchel to her. "I bought this in town for you before everything happened," he said quietly. "I was going to give it to you back there but didn't get the chance."
Laurie took the satchel, opening it. She smelled the aroma of lilacs. Tears filled her eyes.
"Sweetheart," Heyes said sitting on the side of the bed. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to upset you."
Laurie smiled, reaching up to touch the side of his face. "You didn't," she said softly. "It was so nice of you to get my favorite soap." She caressed his cheek lightly.
Taking her hands in his, he stood up, "Come with me," he said as his eyes sparkled.
Laurie followed him into the main room. Seeing the tub, she gasped. "So that was the noise."
Heyes turned, taking both of her hands in his. "I know it's been a while since you've had a chance to take a bath. I thought maybe it would help you feel better."
She smiled, looking deep into his eyes. "I'm sure it will, thank you."
Heyes stood gazing at her, not able to move. Finally he said, "I better go before the water gets cold. I'll be out on the porch to make sure no one bothers you."
He leaned in, kissing her forehead and then left. He went out to sit on the porch, making sure Laurie had her privacy.
Laurie soaked in the bath until the water got cool. She got out and got dressed. Once again wearing one of Heyes' old shirts she found in the chest and her skirt. She went to the cabin door, opening it. Pausing, she gazed at him. He was sitting in a chair with his feet propped up on the banister reading a book. Hearing the door open, he looked up catching her gaze and smiled.
Smiling back at him she said quietly, "I'm all done. You don't have to sit and protect me anymore."
Getting up, he walked over to the door to her. "I'll never stop protecting you."
Laurie's heart skipped a beat as he walked closer to her. A light breeze blew and the smell of lilacs wafted through the air.
Heyes was lost for a moment in a memory, only to be brought back to reality when he saw the way Laurie was dressed. "I should get Kid to re-bandage you."
"That won't be necessary. I already wrapped it."
"Are you sure?"
"Okay. Did you enjoy your bath?"
"It was wonderful," Laurie said dreamily, biting her bottom lip as she crossed her arms, gently rubbing them. "I feel human again."
Heyes sucked his breath in when she bite her lip, the desire to wrap his arms around her pulling her close was overwhelming. He closed his eyes for a moment and slowly blew out the breath.
"Thank you." Laurie's smile reached her eyes and they sparkled.
His breath still caught in his throat, he's pushed out a weak, "Your welcome." The scent of lilacs and the close proximity to her was making him lightheaded. He turned slightly in hopes of regaining all his senses. "So," he asked, "Is there anything else I can do for you?"
"I think moving the bathtub here for me was enough for today," she said, shifting so her arm was ever so slightly touching his. "Actually, I'm a little tired. I think I'll take a nap."
"Sounds good," Heyes said softly, once again finding it difficult to keep his distance.
Reaching up, Laurie kissed Heyes' cheek. "Thank you," she whispered.
Heyes spent a good portion of the afternoon bailing water out of the tub. He opened the cabin door and was just throwing it out to the side of the porch. When he was just about done Kid walked over.
"Heyes," he said, as he got closer.
Henodded an acknowledgement.
"Laurie like her bath?"
He nodded again as he continued walking back and forth into the cabin, bailing the water.
"Cat got your tongue?"
He didn't respond, didn't look at Kid, just threw the water out of the bucket and turned to go back into the cabin.
"Laurie got your tongue?" Kid said as he leaned up against one of the support post smiling.
"She did!" Kid exclaimed pushing himself off the post.
"Kid," he said quietly. "I don't know if this was such a good idea."
"A little physical work never hurt anyone Heyes," Kid chided.
He turned on his heels scowling at his partner.
"Okay," Kid snickered, putting his hands up in front of him. "I was just kidding." Thinking for a moment, "She didn't like the bath?"
"Oh she liked it, a lot," he stated somewhat intensely.
"Oh," Kid's eyes grew wide. "Well physical work is a good way to keep your mind off things," Kid stated in a conciliatory manor. "Well I let you get back to work," he added quickly turning to leave.
After Heyes finished bailing the water out of the tub, he tried reading a book but kept finding himself staring at the closed bedroom door. Glancing at the tub sitting in the middle of the floor, he thought a nice soak would help relax him. Of course, it was in the middle of the floor. Laurie could come out any time. And there was the fact that the tub would have to be bailed again. Thinking better of it, he grabbed some soap, clean clothes and headed to the pond.
"Things look like they're heatin' up over at the leader's cabin," Wheat chortled.
"Wheat," Kid warned.
"Just sayin' that things are lookin' good for Heyes and Laurie," Wheat clarified.
"Got a point," Kid stated.
"Just have to keep ‘em together," Wheat said. "I think nature will take its course."
"Wheat!" Kid warned again.
"Just sayin' they're meant for each other. Both being as pig headed as they are. If they have to stay together, they'll remember that."
"Wheat sometimes you surprise me by your thinkin'," Kid said.
"Hey, I can be just as romantic as the next guy," Wheat said trying to defend himself.
"Yeah, if the next guy ain't romantic!" Lobo threw in and the gang laughed.
"How we gonna keep ‘em together?" Kyle asked.
"I figured I'd tell Heyes I owe you a chance to win back your money from last night," Kid replied.
Feeling clean and somewhat relaxed, Heyes headed back to the leader's cabin to start dinner. As he was finishing fixing it, Kid walked in.
Heyes glanced back as he worked at the stove. "Perfect timing as always Kid."
"Dinner's ready?" Kid asked.
"Almost," he replied.
The bedroom door opened and Laurie walked out. "Something smells wonderful." She said sleepily.
"Did you have a nice rest?" Kid asked.
"Your color's coming back." Kid said walking over to her giving her a kiss on top of her head.
"The bath did wonders," she sighed.
"If you want another one, just let me know," Heyes crooned.
A low rumble interrupted the conversation. Heyes looked out the window. Dark clouds were approaching the area. "Kid, can you stay with Laurie tonight?"
"I promised Wheat and the boys I would give them a chance to win their money back tonight," Kid replied.
"It looks like a storm’s coming," Heyes replied.
"You always made sure we didn't win too much from the boys. With the rain and the drinkin', I didn't realize I just ‘bout cleaned them out."
"Oh," Heyes said softly.
"I can stay by myself," Laurie stated trying not to feel rejected as she felt they were both fighting over getting away from her.
"Nooooo," Heyes dragged out the word when he saw how crushed she looked. "I'll stay with you. We can sit by the fire, listen to the rain."
"I don't want to keep you," Laurie started but was stopped by Heyes.
"You're not," he said moving closer to her. "I don't mind," he ran his hand up Laurie's arm. "I don't mind if you don't."
"Good. Now that that's settled let's eat."
With dinner over and the dishes done, Kid left for the bunkhouse as a light rain began to fall. Laurie walked out on to the porch, taking a deep breath. "I love the smell when it first starts to rain."
"I know," Heyes said softly from behind her as he leaned up against the door jam watching her.
She turned smiling at him. "Thank you."
He raised a questioning eyebrow at her.
"For not pressing me."
"Ah," Heyes acknowledge. "I could never..." the words lingered as Heyes stopped himself remembering how he may not have forced her, but he certainly pushed her. His smile slipped from his face.
Laurie noticed the change in Heyes, his sullen expression. "It wasn't your fault," she started only to have Heyes cut her off.
"You keep saying that but the truth is whether it was my fault or not, I hurt you."
Another low rumble in the distance saved them from any more of the conversation. Laurie tensed and Heyes reached his hand out to her just as the rain began getting heavier. "Come on, I believe we have a date by the fire." Grabbing his hand, she linked her arm in his as they walked back into the cabin.
"Coffee, whiskey or," Heyes asked as he looked through the cabinets, "wine?" He looked at the bottle and stated, "At least I think it's wine."
"Hmm, not a rousing endorsement of the wine. Maybe a little whiskey."
Heyes looked surprised.
"I've had sips of yours," she defended herself.
"But I don't believe you've ever had your own."
"Ah, so you have," Heyes laughed. "Kyle was quite impressed with you drinking out of the bottle."
"He's easily impressed."
"No," Heyes said handing the glass to Laurie allowing his hand to linger and touch hers. "He had reason to be impressed." They both held onto the glass, neither one of the wanting to break the contact. Finally Heyes said, "Let's sit by the fire. You can tell me what you thought about the book."
With Kid in the bunkhouse playing cards, and the threat of another thunderstorm rolling through the mountains, Heyes reluctantly agreed to sleep in the cabin. Reluctant only because the pain it caused him being so close to her and not being able to touch her. Heyes sat down and kicked his boots off. He looked towards the closed bedroom door, longing to be with her, to touch her, smell her. Walking back into the cabin after Laurie had her bath he could smell the lilac soap she used. He loved the way it made her smell like spring. She said she didn't blame him but could he ever get her to trust him again? Trust that he wouldn't hurt her again? Sighing, he took off his gun belt, hanging it on the chair next to him. Next he removed his shirt and did the same.
As he was about to settle down a loud shriek came from the bedroom. He bolted to the door and without knocking pushed it open. "Laurie," Heyes cried out anxiously. Seeing her standing there he went to her, putting his hands on her arms. "What's the matter, are you okay?"
Tears poured down Laurie's face as she nodded her head, panting too hard to talk.
He scanned her; she was only wearing a camisole and her petticoat. His eyes fell on the hand barely touching her side. "Is it your side?" he asked with panic in his voice.
Laurie nodded. Finding her voice she cried, "I bumped it." She took a deep breath trying to relax. "I stood up. I was going to finish getting ready for bed but when I turned I caught the corner of the chest." She sobbed as she tried settling down.
"Oh Sweetheart," Heyes said reaching up, trying to wipe away her tears. "Sshh," he said soothingly, pulling her into a hug. "Sshh," he said as he gently stroked her hair and her back. When she settled down some he said, "I'll go get Kid so he can take a look at it."
"No, I'm fine, please don't," she replied, taking a small step back.
Wiping off one final tear with his thumb he searched her eyes, "I really think it should be checked to make sure it's not bleeding."
"Please," she shook her head.
"It's just I'm up moving around," trying to explain looking away as she became slightly uncomfortable.
He lifted her chin so she had to look at him.
"It's just not proper for Kid..." her voice trailing off.
"Oooh," he said and smiled.
"Heyes," she said sounding somewhat embarrassed.
"He's been taking care of you."
"I know, but that was when I couldn't move around. Now that I can, it just doesn't seem right."
"It needs to be checked. You can check the front but you can't see your back."
"You could," Laurie replied.
Heyes tilted his head.
"You can check it if you really think it should be."
"Are you sure?" he asked as he stared into her eyes, searching for her true feelings.
"Okay," he said, suddenly feeling sheepish as he tried to figure out the best way to proceed. "If you could lift up the side of your camisole, I could check." His eyes were glued to her side.
She smiled, holding in a giggle, seeing Heyes suddenly bashful.
He caught a glimpse and stood up, "You're enjoying this aren't you."
"What?" Laurie said desperately trying to keep the corners of her mouth from forming a grin.
Pursing his lips at her, he nodded, "Fine. Maybe I should go put my hands in cold water before I check."
"Heyes," she batted him playfully. "I'm sorry. I just thought it was cute." She giggled.
He tried glowering at her but it didn't work. "What?" he said putting his hands on his hips.
"Nothing," she giggled again.
He tried harder to give her a stern look but it was hopeless. He could smell lilacs, she was smiling and giggling, he wanted to reach out, wrapping his arms around her, making everything better. His smile slid off his face, as he knew he couldn't.
She noticed his face become sad. "I'm sorry," she said. "I didn't mean to cause trouble."
"I just thought it was funny that here we are in Devil's Hole and I called Hannibal Heyes cute." She feigned a pout asking, "Forgiven?"
Heyes smiled, "Always. Now, if you could lift the side of your camisole, I'll check the bandage." Laurie lifted it as Heyes knelt down. Moving the bandage, he inspected the wound. "It looks like there is a fresh scrape on the back and a little blood on the bandage but it stopped bleeding already. It probably happened when you bumped it." He checked both the entrance and exit wounds. It was the first time he had seen the area since the accident. There was no sign of infection and it look like she was healing well. He had to remember to thank Kid again. "Nothing new on the front side," he said, fixing the bandage, he let his fingers linger on her skin longer than he knew he should.
Suddenly finding it hard to breath, he closed his eyes to try to regain his composure. Standing up, he diverted his eyes from hers and began turning away before saying, "Everything looks fine. I should let you get ready for bed."
Laurie reached out, grabbing his hand. "Please don't go," she said quietly.
Heyes stopped but didn't respond.
Heyes swallowed hard but did not turn to look at her. His head was swimming with the smell of her, being so close to her. He could barely think straight let along speak. He licked his lips and in a raspy voice stated, "I think I better go."
"Because I don't think I could be a gentleman if I stayed."
"I was hoping you could be my husband."
As the words registered he slowly turned to face her. Reaching up, he cupped the side of her face.
She leaned into his hand.
Still unsure of her meaning he studied her face, looking deep into her eyes. Stepping within inches of her, he leaned in. With his lips barely touching hers, he kissed her. Lifting his head, he looked for the acceptance, the willingness he needed before he proceeded. "Are you sure?" he whispered.
"Yes," she gazed lovingly into his eyes. "I love you."
Finally, wrapping his arms around her, Heyes gently pulled her to him as he captured her lips for his own.
"Sure glad you convinced Heyes you promised a rematch tonight," Kyle said as he sat at the poker table with the rest of the gang.
"Well you know he don't like nobody winnin' too much from anyone else," Kid replied as he picked up the cards dealt to him.
"Yeah but you didn't win big last night," Lobo chuckled.
"I know that and you boys know that, Heyes don't," Kid replied.
"Yeah, but how did you know Heyes wasn't gonna want t' play too?" Hank asked.
"With the chance of another storm coming through," Wheat stated. "Ain't no way Heyes was gonna leave Laurie alone."
They all nodded in agreement.
Laurie lay cradled in Heyes' arms with her head resting on his shoulder, his arm gently draped around her stroking her hair. She began to drift off to sleep only to be startled awake as he tried to gently remove his arm.
She shot up, looking at him. "You're leaving," she said as though her world had just been taken away from her.
"Nooo," he said calmly. "I'm not leaving. I was just going to get something in the other room."
She swallowed hard as her heart still pounded in her throat. "You're coming back?" she anxiously asked.
"Yes. Yes, I'll be right back," he said, stroking the side of her face. "I'm sorry I woke you up." He caressed her face. "I left my gun in the outer room; I'm just going to get it. I'll be right back."
Laurie nodded, trying to calm herself.
Heyes shrugged into his Henley and picked his pants up off the floor. "I promise I'll be right back." Smiling, he leaned over giving her a very soft, gentle kiss. “Okay?”
She nodded, smiling back.
He stood up, put his pants on and started towards the door.
Laurie leaned over, picking up her glass: empty. She called out, "Could you please get me some water while you're out there?"
Heyes nodded, closing the door behind him.
Walking over to the pitcher on the table Heyes poured a glass of water just as Kid walked into the cabin.
The blond looked at his partner, the closed bedroom door and where Heyes' bedroll and gun were. He motioned with his head at the bedroom door, "Laurie resting?"
Heyes looked up, "Yeah."
He walked by Heyes, patting his shoulder, "Maybe tomorrow. She's coming around. I can tell." He sighed as he continued walking towards his room. Calling over his shoulder, "I'm beat. Catch ya in the mornin'."
Heyes let go with a dimpled smile that would light up the room if Kid had seen it. Chuckling to himself, he walked over to the chair his things were hanging on. He reached in his shirt pocket, pulling out the heart necklace along with his wedding ring. Holding them tight in his hand, he closed his eyes. Picking up the gun belt, he headed back to the bedroom.
"Did I hear Kid?" Laurie asked as Heyes walked in.
"Yep," he said handing her the glass of water as she sat up. He hung the gun on the bedpost and sat down on the side of the bed. "I lied to you a minute ago," he said quietly as he took the glass from her, putting it down on the table next to the bed. "I didn't have to go to get my gun."
She looked confused.
Heyes shifted uncomfortably.
"Heyes?" Laurie asked worried.
He licked his lip. He looked at his hands and then into her eyes. "I had to get something from my shirt pocket." He paused. "It's been in there since it was given to me." He licked his lip nervously again. "I was hoping," he paused, looking at his hand. Sighing, he tried to find the right words.
"Han," Laurie said placing her hand on his face, lifting it so she could see his eyes.
Trying to find his voice and his silver tongue, Heyes struggled to find the right words. Gazing deep into Laurie's eyes, he finally said, "I'll understand if you say no." Swallowing, he took a breath. Opening his hand, he held up the heart necklace. "I was hoping that until I could buy you a new one, you would wear this heart."
"No," Laurie gasped; he was crushed. "I don't want another one, I want this one." She said, tears welling in her eyes. "This is your heart." Placing her hand over his heart, tears streamed down her face. "But I gave it back," her lip trembled.
"I never took it back," Heyes wiped the tears off her face. "I was holding this one, but I never took it back. I will love you, only you forever." Leaning in, he ever so delicately kissed her and then leaned his forehead on her. "I'm sorry I hurt you. If you can find it in your heart to forgive me," Heyes paused, closing his eyes.
Placing her hand on his, Laurie whispered, "I love you. I will always love you. Please forgive me for doubting you." Taking the necklace from his hands, she slid the ring off, and placed it on Heyes' finger. She handed him the necklace, lifting her hair so he could put it on her. She smiled ear to ear, as she placed her hand on the heart gently rubbing it. Taking her hands she placed them gently on Heyes' cheeks, pulling him into a gentle kiss.
He wrapped his arms around her pulling her close as the kiss became deep and passionate.
Laurie wrapped her arms around his neck and the rest of the world disappeared.
Heyes woke up still wrapped around Laurie. He moved his arm to get out of bed.
"Hmm," she said as she squirmed close to him again.
"Sshh, Sweetheart," he whispered, kissing the nape of her neck then slowly moving up her ear. "Relax, go back to sleep. The suns not up yet."
"How do you expect me to sleep with you kissing me like that," she giggled.
"Hmm," he kissed her neck again. "Hadn't thought about that."
"Mmmm," she purred. "And I'm supposed to believe the silver tongued Hannibal Heyes."
"Uh huh," he said, nipping her shoulder as his hand ran up her arm.
Rolling onto her back, she looked deep in his eyes. "I've missed you." She said, biting her bottom lip as she reached up, pulling him into a kiss.
When Heyes woke up again, the sun was up and the birds were singing. He was still wrapped around Laurie but figured he should let her sleep since she didn't move this time when he did. Getting up, he quickly got dressed and headed out to the main room to put coffee on.
As he was pouring his coffee, Kid walked out of the back room.
Heyes offered him a cup.
"Thanks," Kid said taking the cup and a sip. "Sleep well?"
"Yeah," he said as he began pulling out pots and pans.
Kid took another sip of coffee and put the cup down sighing. "Told Wheat I would handle mornin' inspection up top. I'll be back." Kid took a couple of steps, "You'll be here right?"
"Yeah I'll be here," Heyes replied looking at Kid like he had two heads.
"Good," Kid nodded and left.
As the cabin door closed, Laurie came out wrapped in a blanket. "You left me," she pouted, shuffling over to Heyes.
Wrapping his arms around her, he kissed her nose. "Only to make you breakfast."
"Oh, okay," smiling she bit her bottom lip.
"You better stop that or you won't be getting any breakfast."
Laurie sucked her lips in, trying to act innocent.
Heyes moaned deep in his throat. "You certainly make it difficult to concentrate," he whispered, nuzzling her neck. "I'll remember that lip thing later."
Kid left the cabin, heading to the bunkhouse before going up top. Walking in, he was greeted with a cup of coffee.
"Well," Kyle asked handing the cup to Kid.
"Heyes and Laurie," Kyle clarified.
"Heyes slept in the outer room."
"You sure?" Kyle asked.
"Yeah Kyle. Heyes was in the outer room when I went to bed last night and he was there when I got up this mornin’," Kid took a sip of coffee and grimaced. Placing it down on the table, he was shocked anyone made coffee worse than Heyes.
"Maybe it was jes a coinci...concident....maybe he was just there when you were," Kyle said holding out hope.
"No. Heyes had his bedroll out and his gun hangin’ on the chair next to it," Kid stated as he was about to pick up the coffee and thought better of it. "He did say he would be here when I got back."
"That's good," Wheat said. "We just gotta figure out a way to make sure he stays for a couple a more days."
"What can we do now?" Lobo asked.
Wheat thought about it for a minute. Smiling he suggested, "We'll make it so the stirrup comes off when he tries to get on his horse. Can't ride like that. It could take a day or two to fix it."
Laurie stayed in the cabin most of the day. She ventured out onto the porch a few times for fresh air but nothing more, resting most of the day. Even she had to admit she wasn't a hundred percent and last nights activities really wore her out.
She was standing on the porch when Heyes came out and stood next to her. "What cha looking at?" he asked.
"The gang," she smiled.
"What are they up to now?" he frowned.
"Looks like they're working on that saddle."
"Hmmm." Heyes stood watching; trying to figure out what was going on. "Why are they working on it over there?"
"I don't think they want us to see what they're doing?"
Heyes' face sagged, "Is that my saddle?"
"Nope," she replied. "They took that one off the fence."
Heyes did a double take.
"Your saddle is where you left it the other day, in the back stall. That is unless you moved it."
"How do you know where my saddle is?"
"I may not have been ready to tell you, but I didn't want you to leave." She smiled sweetly at him. "You know they're trying so hard to get us together," Laurie said as she watched across the compound.
"I know," Heyes chuckled, standing to her right.
"We should tell them they don't have to anymore."
Turning to look at her, Heyes gave her his best dimpled smile, "What fun would that be?"
Shaking her head and giggling, "You are incorrigible!"
"It's why you love me so much," he said as he came up behind her, slipping his arms around her waist.
"Hmmm," she purred leaning into him. "If you don't stop they'll notice."
He sighed, "Maybe you're right. They've been trying so hard." He kissed her neck. "Maybe," he nibbled her ear. "We should let them know," he whispered. "Before anyone gets hurt." He nipped at her neck.
"Okay," Laurie said smiling, enjoying what Heyes was doing. "You can go over and tell them."
"No," he whispered in her ear. "I have a better plan."
"A better plan," she played along. "A Hannibal Heyes plan, please tell."
Turning her in his arms, his face was inches from hers. "I say we go for a public display of affection," he breathed.
Breathing him in, Laurie had trouble concentrating on what he was saying. She watched his lips as the moved. "And what type of display did you have in mind," she said biting her bottom lip.
Heyes let out a low guttural moan and said, "This." As he captured her lips with his, pulling her so tight against his body they were almost one.
Laurie gave into the kiss, wrapping her arms around his neck.
"Um, Wheat, ah Kyle," Kid said poking the boys.
"What?" Wheat yelled back. "We're busy. We gotta keep Heyes from leaving Laurie..." his eyes followed Kid's hand and what it was pointing to. "Guess our plan worked," he said puffing out his chest.
They all stood staring at the spectacle of Heyes and Laurie.
Breaking the kiss to come up for air, they both felt a little lightheaded. Reaching down, Heyes picked her up, cradling her in his arms.
"What are you doing?" she giggled.
"Finishing what we just started," he replied nuzzling her neck.
"But the boys are watching," Laurie said horrified.
"Good," he replied. "Means we'll have the cabin all to ourselves tonight."
"Oh," she breathed. "I like the sound of that," she said, biting her bottom lip again.
Pulling her into another kiss, Heyes carried her into the cabin closing the door with his foot.
"Well boys," Kid stated. "Best see what we can scrounge up for dinner tonight.” Kid took a couple more steps and said, "By the way, that's not Heyes' saddle."
Wheat glared at Kyle.
"But Wheat you told me to git the saddle on the fence, this were the only saddle on the fence," Kyle explained.
"Heyes took his saddle off the fence the other day," Lobo stated.
Wheat's eyes shot wide open and he turned to look at the saddle the men had been working on. Pushing them aside, he boomed, "Kyle, that's my saddle!"
Kyle's smiled slid off his face as Wheat glowered at him. "But Wheat, I only did what I was told."
Afew days later, it was decided Laurie was fit to travel. They thanked the gang for everything they did.
On the morning they were getting ready to leave Heyes found Wheat out in the compound. "Wheat," Heyes called out as he approached. "Got a minute?"
"Sure Heyes," Wheat snorted.
He walked up to him. "You know we're riding out right after breakfast."
"Well I just wanted to thank you for the use of your cabin," Heyes presented his hand to Wheat to shake.
Smiling, Wheat puffed out his chest, "Well as leader of the gang, it's the right thing to do for the ex-leader. Especially when a gun gets pointed at ya."
"About that Wheat," he began but was interrupted.
"I know I was just givin' you a hard time. Gotta lighten up a little Heyes."
"What'd Heyes want?" Kyle asked, walking up to Wheat.
"Just wanted to apologize and tell me I'm a better leader than him," he hoisted the front of his pants and headed back to the bunkhouse.
A few hours later, Kid, Heyes and Laurie were on their way back to Small Falls.