DISCLAIMER: The Young Riders is the creation of Ed Spielman, and the property of Ogiens/Kane productions in association with MGM/UA television. This Story is created for entertainment purposes only, no infringement intended. Not to be copied without permission from the author.
Buck kept a close watch on Lou, knowing that when she was upset she was prone to doing things that under normal circumstances she would consider foolhardy even dangerous, but over the next two days they sifted through Kid’s office in town, searching desperately for something that would give them a clue, any clue to the identity of Kid’s killer. Neither of them were sleeping much, Lou’s loss still too hard for her to bear alone and Kid’s death had stirred up Buck’s own memories of Jenny, haunting his nights and his dreams. Both by unspoken agreement, spent the night in the others arms, the comfort of just being held enough to allow them a little sleep.
The posse returned empty handed and downhearted having lost the trail of the gunman that had senselessly slaughtered their beloved Marshall disappointed that they hadn’t been able to pick the trail up again. Buck blamed himself, he knew that if he had gone with the posse, he probably would not have lost the trail, but he was almost certain that he would have lost Lou.
The town surprised them all with their condolences, it seemed that the town had grown to accept them more than they had ever thought they would, Thompkins visiting them at home on the day of his return with the posse, with an announcement for Buck. He arrived while they were in the middle of a meal Lou, Rachel, Cody and Buck at one end of the bunkhouse table, their combined offspring at the other end of the table.
“Son, I know that we haven’t always seen eye to eye, and that sometimes the town hasn’t treated you fairly” he started his hat in his hand looking Buck squarely in the eye.
“Sometimes? What do you mean sometimes?” Rachel asked her voice raised in surprise, the times that the town had shunned the gentle Kiowa while the Express Station was still operating had hurt the other riders so it must have wounded Buck deeply.
“It’s alright Rachel. So, What are you saying Bill?” Buck, who even while Jenny had been alive had not been happy or comfortable with calling the man who had shown the strongest dislike of him, Father or Dad even to please the woman he loved. It had taken time but they had eventually compromised enough over time to call him by his Christian name.
“The town has held a meeting and they would be honoured if you would take over where Kid left off” he spoke watching the emotion when he mentioned Kid’s name glaze the eyes of the adults
“I can’t replace him” Buck spoke gazing almost blankly out the window knowing exactly what the town was asking, as Lou reached across and clasped his hand in hers in encouragement “But I will take the job if you want me to” he spoke looking into Lou’s velvet eyes knowing that he could count on her support if nobody elses.
Starr, almost a woman but still considered a child by her family, had been listening closely to the conversation, was dismayed by what she had heard “No” Starr cried and ran from the room tears clouding her beautiful eyes and slamming the door behind her so hard that the windows shook.
The adults all looked at one another in incredulation at the unexpected outburst from the usually quiet reserved girl.
“I’ll go talk to her” Lou spoke as she started to rise.
“No, I’ll go she needs to hear this from me” Buck rose and walked out the door leaving the others to entertain his father in law.
He knew exactly where to find his daughter. Whenever she was upset about anything, he knew he would find her exactly where they would have found Kid when he was hurting emotionally. Katy’s stall. Just as Kid had, Starr seemed to find comfort with the paint mare like she could with no other being.
Walking slowly into the stall he wasn’t surprised to see her huddled in the corner of the stall, sobbing noisily. He realised then just how deeply she was hurting, usually he would find her draped around the aging horses neck, rubbing her face against Katy’s neck, simply drawing comfort from the feel of the gentle beast as she stroked it.
Buck stroked Katy’s nose as he walked past the aging horse, listening to her softly whinny in response. Watching Starr, her arms drawn around her knees, sobbing against her clasped arms, his heart broke for the pain his daughter was feeling. Kneeling wordlessly in front of her he stroked her hair gently, wishing Jenny was here to help her through her emotional suffering.
“Do you want to talk about it?” he asked softly hoping that she would explain her actions to him. She shook her head wildly, her shiny black hair flicking against his hand like a mane..
“Starr I can’t help you if I don’t know why you are hurting?” he questioned her his heart breaking for the girl who so badly wanted to be thought of as an adult.
“I don’t want you to be Marshall.” She mumbled against her knees.
“Somebody has to do it sweetheart” he replied gently “The town needs someone to keep the peace”
“Let someone else do it” she spoke turning the eyes so much like her mothers to his
“I can’t Starr. I want to do this. I need to find the man that killed Kid” he explained his actions to his daughter, hoping that she would understand his actions.
She flung herself into his arms almost knocking him to the ground “Please daddy, I don’t want to lose you too”. Suddenly understanding why she was so upset, he loosened his embrace enough to be able to look into her face.
“Sometimes I forget that you are still so young,” he spoke, he truthfully forgot that his daughter was still only fourteen years old and basically still a child, he treated her as an adult in most things, including the running of the ranch, which she handled with the competency of a person twice her age but he often forgot that she was so young emotionally.
“You will not lose me my darling, even if the unthinkable should happen and I have to leave you, I will always be with you. I will never leave you Starr, always remember that.” He placed a hand over her heart “I will always be with you in here.” He spoke his voice quavering as he looked into eyes so like her mothers “Even in your darkest moments remember, your father will always be watching over you.”
“If you leave me I will be alone” she sobbed against his chest
“Lou is your family too Starr, and Rachel and Cody, but even when you think you are alone now, you will never truly be alone, mummy is always with you, just as she is always with me” the tears in his eyes overflowed as he looked into his daughters.
“You promise you will always be safe” she mumbled
“I can’t do that sweetie, but I can promise you that I will never put myself or anyone around me unnecessary danger.’ He replied
“You’ll catch the man that killed Uncle Kid?” she asked him
“I promise you that I will do anything within my power to catch him and bring him to justice” he answered her
Starr nodded her head and hugged her father tightly, almost reluctant to let him go as he helped her to her feet.
“C’mon we’ll go and see what else Grandpa has to say” He spoke as he looped an arm around her shoulders and walked with her from the stall.
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