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.
Father and daughter crossed quickly to the bunkhouse, being met by worried eyes as they entered. Buck kissed his daughter gently on the top her head and let her resume her seat at the table. He met Lou’s worried eyes with a smile and a nod and then resumed his own seat.
“Have you changed your mind Buck?” Thompkins asked quietly, he had been against his daughters union with a ‘half breed’ but he had quickly found that Buck’s devotion to Jenny was immeasurable, his respect for the young man he had always maligned growing by leaps and bounds. It wasn’t long before he found him to be more honourable, loyal and trustworthy than any white man in his memory, and the love that he saw shining from Jenny’s eyes when she looked at him, was proof enough for him. He also knew that his granddaughters opinion would be the one thing that would stop Buck’s sense of honour from accepting the position he had been offered, his daughter’s wellbeing being the most important thing to him.
“No. I will take the job” Buck looked into his father in laws face and nodded grimly as Thompkins pulled the badge of office from his pocket and handed it to Buck.
“I’ll start tommorrow” Buck spoke as Thompkins walked toward the door. Buck followed him from the room and opened the door for him, following him onto the porch.
“Buck” Thompkins spoke seeming embarrassed “I know that we didn’t start out as friends, but I want you to know that I am proud to have you in my family. Starr is a credit to you and Jenny, she obviously loves you.” he paused “I just want you to know that you don’t have to do this.’
“Yes I do” Buck looked down at the cold metal star in his hand, his fingers rubbing absently across the embossed lettering “I owe it to Kid if nothing else” he spoke as he looked up at his father in law, his voice low he continued,
“If anything happens to me, I want Starr to stay with Lou” he spoke his voice catching as he spoke “They don’t have anyone else Bill, please leave her here”
“Nothing will happen, but I will respect your wishes” he nodded, having grown to respect and admire the woman the town had thought was a boy for so long. Taking one last look at his son-in-law, he turned and walked back into town.
“Kid wouldn’t expect you to do this you know” Lou spoke from behind him.
“I don’t want to talk about it Lou” he spoke flatly slipping the badge into his pocket
“Okay” she spoke holding her hands up in a gesture of obedience
Buck turned and walked away from her towards the small cemetery filled with so many of their friends. He knew that he was treating Lou badly, but the moment Bill had placed the badge in his hand a cold feeling of dread, a premonition almost, had passed over Buck and he didn’t want Lou to see the fear in his heart of what may happen. He knew that she still stood behind him and watched him, but if he stopped and tried to reassure her, he knew that she would realise what he was hiding from her.
Stopping only when he entered the cemetery, he knelt on the ground, not at any particular grave, knowing that he had too much churning in his mind to draw peace one of his friends in particular, needing instead just the solitude and tranquillity that came over him whenever he entered the tiny cemetery.
Lou spent more than an hour bathing and putting Mary to bed, then returned to the bunkhouse to help Rachel with the dishes while Starr read to Noah while he drifted off to sleep in her lap.
“Are you alright Lou?” Rachel asked quietly, sensing Lou’s distress
“I’m fine” Lou spoke softly, not wanting Starr to be alarmed by their conversation
“He’s going to be fine Lou.” Rachel stated flatly “He’s even more cautious than Kid”
“He’s only doing this to avenge Kid Rachel. I couldn’t bear it if he was hurt or God forbid worse because of some strange sense of duty or responsibility to Kid or me”
“Where is he?” Rachel asked softly
“He’s in the cemetery, he’s been there for nearly 2 hours now” Lou replied.
“why don’t you go and talk to him, he might listen to you” Rachel spoke
“He won’t change his mind now.” Lou spoke gently, almost wistfully “and I don’t have the right to ask him not to do it”
Rachel turned and handed Lou a shawl hanging on a hook, “Go, Lou” her eyes almost pleading with her younger friend “Talk to him, he respects your opinion...he always has”
Lou wrapped the shawl around her shoulders and walked across to the cemetery, the moon lighting her path. She stood uncertainly at the gate, then realising that he hadn’t even noticed she was there, she walked up behind him and touched his shoulder softly
“are you alright Buck?’ she asked quietly
“I’m fine Lou” he answered lithely rising to his feet and embracing her
“If you were fine you wouldn’t have been sitting out here for the last two hours”, she hugged him back “The kids are all in bed” she added for the first time in years, ill at ease around her best friend as they walked arm in arm back to the house.
“I’m sorry I’m doing this to you Lou” he turned her in his arms until he could look into her face.
“Doing what Buck?” she asked, putting her arms around his waist, wanting to show him in actions that she supported him.
“Upsetting you like this, you have enough to worry about without worrying about me too” his hands gently caressed her face, his thumbs stroking the dark shadowing under her eyes.
“I will always worry about you Buck” she looked deeply into his eyes trying to understand what was upsetting him so much
“I will find him Lou, whoever is doing this to you, the one that took Kid from you’ he vowed as he collected the fat tears that collected on Lou’s lashes
“I want that so badly Buck” she spoke choosing her words carefully “but its not as important as keeping yourself safe” she reached up, leaning into Buck for balance she placed a gentle lingering, affectionate kiss on his lips.
Taken by surprise, Buck pulled her closer against him, both of them deepening the kiss, their lips melding, their tongues duelling in a kiss that held all their fears, all their hopes and all their affections. Lou’s hand rising to tangle in his hair, Buck’s own hands travelling lower to lift Lou off her feet and press her tighter against him.
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