The Young Riders
By Cindy Brewer firstname.lastname@example.org
It had been two days since Lou had been shot and she had yet to awaken. Kid hadn't moved from her side except to allow Rachel to change Lou's bandages.
Jimmy had taken as many runs as possible not being able to stand the tension that vibrated through the Riders like a summer storm.
Everyone was waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Teaspoon exchanged a concerned glance with Rachel as the two sat on the porch watching the gathering dusk.
"Jimmy should've been back from Willow Springs by now."Rachel commented as she watched Jesse, Buck and Cody try to tame a new mustang.
Teaspoon nodded. "I wouldn't worry about Jimmy, Rachel. He's probably keeping his distance until we know about Lou."
Rachel sighed. "And if he doesn't make it back in time, Teaspoon? No matter what the Kid thinks this wasn't Jimmy's fault. Lou needs all of her friends here and outside of Kid, Jimmy is the closet friend she has."
Kid stood and moved toward the second floor bedroom window and looked down at the familiar bunkhouse and corral. The Doc had helped them move Lou to Rachel's house early that morning.
Kid glanced back at his finace' and swallowed hard. She looked so tiny and fragile under the blue quilt.
A gentle knock on the door broke Kid's attention away from Lou. He was about to answer it when Noah Dixon poked his head into the room.
"I just got back into town."Noah explained having spent the last four days running an army dispatch to Fort Collins in Wyoming. "How is she?"
Kid shook his head miserably. "It's been two days Noah and she hasn't stirred."
The young black man moved farther into the room and placed a supportive hand on Kid's shoulder. "She's one of the strongest people I've ever met, Kid."Noah stated softly as he looked over at Lou's still form. "If anybody can beat this it's Lou."
It was nearing nine when Rachel finally heard hoof beats coming into the station. She walked to the window of the living room and pulled back the curtains. Jimmy had dismounted and was pulling his tan palomino toward the barn his shoulders slumped.
Rachel quickly grabbed her shawl and left the house. She was worried about Jimmy he had purposefully isolated himself since the shooting. Maybe she could get him to talk.
Jimmy picked up a brush and began to brush down his horse. He did the movements so automatic that Jimmy didn't realize he had completed one task until it was done. He shook his head as if to clear it and began the next step.
Hickock glanced up at the sound of Rachel's voice. Cold dread slithered up his spine as he saw the grim expression on her face. He hadn't been up to the house yet....hadn't been able to face it or the answer that lay beyond.
Their gazes locked as Rachel moved closer to the horse. Jimmy swallowed hard and fought to control the tears. Rachel didn't say anything....she didn't have to.
"I'll be gone by morning, Rachel."Jimmy stated his voice thick with emotion.
Rachel's eyes widened as she realized what the young man must've thought by her entrance. She quickly placed a reassuring hand on Jimmy's shoulder.
"No, Jimmy. Lou's still with us."Rachel replied quietly. "She hasn't woken but she's hanging on."
Jimmy ducked his head so Rachel wouldn't see the tears. He had been so afraid that Lou had died while he was gone. Especially when he had entered the station grounds and had seen no one.
"I thought....."Jimmy whispered as he raised his head.
"Come on, it'll do you good to see her."Rachel urged as she took his elbow.
Jimmy shook his head pulling away from her. "Kid's there."
"You can't avoid him forever, Jimmy."Rachel replied as she turned to face him tears glistening in her eyes. "Lou is your friend, part of this family and she needs you."
"I have to finish this."Jimmy protested as he picked up a brush and returned his attention to the horse.
"I'll have Cody finish it."Rachel offered extending her right hand.
Jimmy met her gaze for a long moment before he nodded and wearily dropped the brush. He needed to see Lou if only to apologize.
"Okay."Jimmy replied softly as he ignored Rachel's hand and walked past her into the yard.
Rachel sighed and pulled the shawl tighter around her shoulders. She hoped there wouldn't be a fight between Kid and Jimmy it was the last thing either of them needed. They used to be friends, Rachel could only pray that they would be again. No matter what happened.