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Title: On a Night Like This
Author: Miss Raye
Fandom: The Young Riders
Pairing/Characters: Jimmy/Lou
Rating/Category: PG13/Het
Prompt: On a Night Like This
Spoilers: none
Summary: Teaspoon and Polly set a plan into motion, with a little help from a starry night.
Notes/Warnings: Set post Xpress. - Thanks to Liz M for beta reading this for me...



Suppers at the Hunter house always had a predictable ending. Teaspoon would swipe his napkin across his lips and smile from ear to ear. “Polly,” he’d say, “I do believe that is the best meal I’ve ever had.”

Polly would blush, soft color sprinkled amongst her wrinkles, and smile prettily across the table at him. “What pretty things you say, Mr. Hunter.”

“Nothin’ compared to how pretty you are, Mrs. Hunter.”

That’s when their guests would realize that the room had shrunk down to a room built for two and they were intruding.

Tonight, Lou was the first to stand, gently pushing back her chair before Jimmy could reach for the back of it. She slipped a smile in his direction as she reached for his plate. “I’ll take the dishes into the kitchen.”

“Oh no, Louise,” Polly would rouse from her sweet rapport with her husband and stand up with her young friend, “you don’t need to, you’re our guest.”

“It’s the least I can do, Polly.” Lou busied herself collecting dishes from Teaspoon as well. “It really was a wonderful meal.”

Polly moved toward to the kitchen door and pointedly looked back at Teaspoon. “Why don’t you and Jimmy take a walk outside.”

Teaspoon gave his bride a wink. “You’re just worried that I’ll pack on the pounds if I don’t walk some of this supper off.”

Rolling her eyes she smiled indulgently at her husband. “That is not what I meant, but if you plan on having an extra piece of pie before bed…”

The warning was clear and Teaspoon dutifully stood and clapped his hand on Jimmy’s shoulder. “Come outside with me, son… and maybe the women will let you have an extra piece of pie later.”

Lou started to pass by Jimmy as he stood and the unexpected backward movement of his chair nearly had her trapped between him and the sideboard. Her sudden stop had one of the plates shuddering and she struggled to keep them piled in her hands. Jimmy set his hand on her hip, holding her steady until she could regain her balance and settle the plates.

He looked down at her with a slow smile spreading over his lips. “Sorry.”

Her lips parted slowly and she returned his smile. “At least nothing fell.”

He wasn’t sure, but her breath seemed to slow along with his and he felt the warmth of her body through the layers of clothing she wore.

It was Teaspoon’s cough that brought Jimmy back around to the moment and he stepped to the side to let her pass. Polly waited for Louise at the door to the kitchen and Teaspoon waited for Jimmy at the front door with his hands on his hips. Sure enough, the women went first, the door swinging closed behind them before Jimmy turned to leave the room.

The older man just shook his head with a sentimental smile playing on his lips. “We’re a couple of lucky men, aren’t we, Hickok?”

“Lucky? Sure…” Jimmy stepped out into the cool fall air, leaving his jacket behind. The weather was crisp but it wasn’t cool enough to need it yet. “You’re lucky you found Polly again and Lou’s a good friend.”

Teaspoon paused at the top of the porch steps and waited for Jimmy to realize he’d gone outdistanced his old stationmaster. When Jimmy turned back around to look at him,Teaspoon continued. “Son, I’m truly beginnin’ to worry about you.” He started down the steps, walking past Jimmy on his way toward the barn. “Might as well come with me while I check on the stock. They keep the barn nice ‘n warm.”

*** ***

Louise picked up the drying cloth and gladly helped with the dishes as Polly kept up a steady stream of questions. Louise tried to remember to answer. “Hmm? What? Oh yes… Teresa is just fine. She’s really enjoying herself here in Rock Creek.”

Another dish was wiped dry in her hands and set aside with a little more energy than necessary.

“What? Oh, sorry, yes… she’s got a young man courting her. He’s from a large family so his mother has been their chaperone.”

A tea cup was next and Louise turned it around and around as she dried it in her cloth. It was a long moment before she realized that Polly was waiting for an answer to a question she hadn’t heard.

Dropping her shoulders in a sigh Louise surrendered the cup to her friend’s waiting hands. “I’m sorry, Polly… I guess I’m not being a good guest tonight.”

“A guest?” Polly’s soft laughter was contagious. “Guests don’t line up to help me dry the dishes, you’re family, Louise, but I’m still glad to have the help.” She set another dish in the basin and let it soak. “What I’m wondering is… how you are, Louise.”

“Me?” Louise leaned against the counter and shook her head. “I dunno, Polly… everything’s great, I guess.”

Polly’s raised her eyebrows at the way Louise’s all too cheerful voice faltered at the end.

“No, really.” Louise stretched a smile over her lips. “I love my shop. I have a few customers that keep coming back and word is spreading quickly. Teresa gives me a lot of help and it’s such a comfort to have her near me.”

“Why do I hear a ‘but’ in there somewhere?”

Louise pressed her hand to her face, laughing a little at the damp cloth against her cheek. “I guess I’m just bein’ silly.”

*** ***

Teaspoon stepped into the barn and gave his livestock a hearty greeting. “Hello there!”

Jimmy stopped in the door and smiled. No matter how long he knew Teaspoon, he never quite got used to the man’s eccentric ways. He watched as Teaspoon moved amongst the animals in the barn, checking in on each of them in turn. In a way it reminded him of the Express days when Teaspoon would come into the bunkhouse late at night and make sure they were all where they were supposed to be.

“You said you were worryin’ about me.”

“I did.” Teaspoon scooped out some feed for the animals, pouring it in their feed bins as he moved about the room.

“Why?”

Turning around, Teaspoon looked at him in the lantern light. “Why? I guess ‘cause I think you’re a damn sight too dense for your own good, Hickok.”

Jimmy folded his arms across his chest. “That’s a hell of a thing to say to me, Teaspoon.”

“Ah hell, Jimmy,” the older man chuckled beneath this breath, “we’re family and sometimes family has to say things straight forward-like or they risk gettin’ lost in the niceties of conversation.”

“Well,” Jimmy retorted, “no one’s gonna mistake this conversation for niceties.”

“Look here,” Teaspoon emptied the feed from the scoop into the last bin. “I’ve been thinkin’ it’s about time you figured on settlin’ down.”

Jimmy shrugged. “I’ve got a job… a good one.”

Teaspoon set down the scoop and turned on his young friend. “Sure, no one’s arguin’ that point.”

“Got a roof over my head and folks worryin’ over me.” He gave Teaspoon a pointed look that had the older man sighing.

Narrowing his eyes at Jimmy, Teaspoon chewed on the inside of his cheek. “Right…”

“I figure I’m about as settled as I’m likely to get.”

With a huff, Teaspoon dropped the grain scoop back into its bucket.

*** ***

Polly concentrated on the dish she was scrubbing. “It means the world to the both of us that you and Jimmy can come and have supper with us.”

“We really enjoy it.” Louise smiled but she sounded miserable. She tried to lift the tone of her voice back up from the floorboards. “With the long hours he works at the Marshal’s office and what I put in at the store, we rarely saw each other anymore.” She sighed a little and fought back a lump in her throat. “When you and Teaspoon started inviting the two of us over for dinner these last few weeks… I was so happy to see… all of you.”

A smile tickled Polly’s lips, the poor girl was in knots over this whole thing. “I know that Teaspoon was missing you both. Having you living at opposite ends of the town from us and each other was wearing on him.”

Louise used the arm of her sleeve to wipe away a sudden tear. “He’s like a father to me, you know. Teaspoon was probably the first man in my life that actually looked out for me in that way.”

“And Jimmy?” Polly caught the startled look on Louise’s face at the mention of his name. “He looks after you, too?”

“We look after each other, well…” Louise’s immediate answer faded a bit, “we did during the Express. Bein’ in the same house it was natural. We were always around each other. But now,” Louise stared down at the empty towel in her hands, “we see each other in passing, or if Jimmy’s making rounds about town he’ll stop in to say hello.”

“But now you see him here, at dinner,” Polly offered. “Does he walk you home… afterwards?” She looked over her shoulder at the younger woman.

“Oh, yes… he walks me home.”

Polly straightened, setting a saucer into Lou’s hands. “That sounds like the gentlemanly thing to do.”

“Gentleman, yes,” Lou set to drying the saucer as she thought over Polly’s words. “He walks me home and we stand outside talking.”

“That’s-“

“And talking,” Louise wiped the saucer a bit more vigorously, “and talking… I swear, Polly, he’s talked to me more in the last few weeks than he has in the nearly three years we’ve known each other.”

Polly reached out and removed the saucer from Lou’s over-enthusiastic hands. “It sounds like he certainly has a lot to say to you.”

“Say,” Lou parroted the word but her expression said all Polly needed to know, “but that’s about it. I wonder if that’s all he wants to do and I’m making a big somethin’ out of nothing.”

Setting the saucer aside, Polly took the drying cloth as well and draped it over the back of a chair before taking hold of Lou’s hands. “It sounds like you know what you want.”

“But if I’m the only one wanting it…” Lou pressed her lips together in a tight line, “then what difference does it make?”

Polly leaned in closer until she was eye to eye with the younger woman standing before her. “I’m beginning to wonder if those glasses you used to wear were more than just a costume. Please tell me that you’re just being stubborn.”

Louise gave her friend a sheepish grin. “Well, he hasn’t ‘said’ anything about it, so-”

“Louise,” Polly tried not to laugh but it was so very hard not to. “I’d hoped that by now you’d have figured out that if we waited around for men to say what it was that they were wantin’ to say… well,” Polly sighed and drew Louise into a warm embrace, “we’d always be waitin’.”

*** ***

“From what I hear ‘bout town you’ve been walkin’ Louise home from here after supper.”

Jimmy nodded slowly. “Not that it matters what folks ‘bout town are sayin’, but I ”

Teaspoon smiled. “Not that you’ll ever convince them of that, but I was just curious… you know how old men get.”

“No,” Jimmy smiled, “I don’t know how old men get, you’re my first one.”

“Goin’ back to what I was sayin’ earlier, Hickok,” Teaspoon took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped at the back of his neck, “I think you ought to be thinkin’ about the future and a family and-”

“Between you, Polly and the boys, Teaspoon, I’ve got just about as much family as I can handle and that’s not even countin’ Celinda and-”

“Aw hell,” Teaspoon threw the handkerchief into a bucket of water nearby, “ain’t no talkin’ to you when you’re bein’ obtuse.”

“Obtuse?” Jimmy’s grin pulled wider as he needled Teaspoon further. “That’s a pretty fancy word there, Teaspoon.”

“Fancy enough that it’s kept my foot outta your backside, so count your blessings, Jimmy.”

The front door swung open and closed again and Teaspoon lifted his gaze to see who had come out onto the porch.

“Well, looks like I’m done pesterin’ you for the night,” he gave the younger man a beleaguered sigh. “Do me a favor and spread out a good mess o’ hay in the corral. The horses’ll make a snack of it come morning.”

“Sure, Teaspoon,” Jimmy touched the man affectionately on the shoulder as he passed by, “don’t you worry about it. I’ll get it done.” He picked up the pitchfork and set to work as his old friend walked back toward the house.

“Good,” Teaspoon called back over his shoulder, “I’m ‘bout to have me some pie.”



He passed Louise in the middle of the yard and saw the coat she’d draped over her arm. He took hold of her upper arms and drew her close. Pressing a warm kiss to her cheek he leaned back to take a look at the pretty young woman that had hidden for almost two years under glasses and dirt. With a rueful smile he gave her arms a soft squeeze. “My condolences, Lou-honey.”

She turned to watch the older man walk back up the stairs and into the house. His words had her pondering his meaning. Sure, it fed into her melancholy mood, but with Teaspoon there could always be a plethora of reasoning behind what he’d said.

But alas, the front door offered no explanations and so she turned around. Jimmy was hard at work forking hay into a pile just inside the corral fence. They may have all moved on from the Express, but they’d always be fair game for chores apparently.

She paused for a moment, watching him work with the hay it struck her that it had been quite some time since they’d been in a similar situation.

He paused after awhile, looking up at her with a smile. “If you weren’t wearin’ that pretty dress, I might have asked you to pitch in and help me get this done.”

Louise smiled and walked closer, shifting his coat on her arm. She peered over at the pile of hay he was making on the ground. “Getting a head start on Teaspoon’s morning?”

He leaned on the pitchfork handle and smiled. “That’s the idea.” He noticed his coat on her arm. “Are you ready to head out? I can be done in a few minutes.”

“No rush.” Louise looked back at the house and caught sight of Teaspoon and Polly sitting at their table together. She considered the things that Polly had told her earlier and turned back to Jimmy. “I think I’d like to stay here for a few minutes. It’s a beautiful night.”

Looking up over their heads he looked at the generous sprinkling of stars in the sky. “It is kind of nice out.”

Laying his coat over the top rail of the corral Louise wondered, “Do you remember how we used to sit up on the corral and talk durin’ the Express?”

He smiled, nodding his head. “Yeah, I remember, those were good times… you and me.” He looked at her skirts and then back up at her face. “You think you can make it up there?”

“I can if you’ll…” she motioned for him to look away and he did, only to turn back a moment later to see a tempting bit of ankle below the ruffled hem of her petticoat. Even in the autumn air he was warm without his coat.

It was only when her skirts pooled back around her ankles that he realized she was seated, and watching him.

He looked up into her face with a sheepish grin. “Sorry, as Cody likes to say, ‘I’m just a man’.”

She pressed her lips together and shook her head as she failed to fight off a rueful smile. “I don’t think bringing up Cody right at this moment is the best thing to do.”

“Maybe Noah?” He shrugged a little, trying to recover his composure a bit. “He always had somethin’ to say about men bein’ fools for the women-folk.”

Her smile quieted as she looked at him, her expression just a little more serious than the moment before. “I’d be happy if it was just you thinkin’ it, Jimmy.”

“Then I would probably tell you that if it had been any other woman, I…” He looked over at her.

“Hmm?” She looked down at her hem and the boots that dangled below it.

“What I meant was, I wouldn’t have wanted to look if…” he huffed out a sigh and dug his fingers into the wooden rail of the corral, “I’m makin’ a mess out of what I wanted to say.”

The frustration in his voice was plain to hear and Louise knew that Jimmy was a man of few words to begin with, so that the last few weeks must have been tiring for him. He finally gave up trying to find the right words and climbed up beside her on the corral.

She braced her hands on either side of her, looking up at the stars overhead. “So, I was wondering…”

Jimmy looked over at her, trying to ignore the knots she put in his middle just by breathing. “About?”

“Here we are on a beautiful night like this,” she looked at him for just a moment before looking back up at the stars, “like the last few nights when you’ve walked me home…”

“Yeah?”

He was dense… really really dense sometimes and maybe Polly was right; if you want something you really have to take matters into your own hands.

Shifting slightly on the rail she looked over at him, waiting until he turned to look at her. “Are you gonna kiss me or not?”


He heard the words and wondered if his ears were working right. His lungs certainly weren’t. There was precious little air to breathe outdoors.

He’d been working up the courage for the last week or so, wondering if the words she’d used and the looks she’d been giving him amounted to anything or if he was just dreaming. “Well, uh-“

“I didn’t… I mean it’s all right,” she looked down, her eyes lost to him in the shadows, “I didn’t really think that-”

“Lou.” He smiled when she stopped in mid-thought. It gave him hope that she was as addled by the moment as he was. “Look at me.”

She took a breath and finally lifted her head enough so that he could see her. “Why?”

“Because,” he leaned in closer, careful to keep his balance up on the top rail of the corral, “I don’t want to miss.”



She felt the gentle touch of his lips against hers and wondered if it was possible to freeze and melt all at the same time. Shivers traveled up and down her spine even as her cheeks and her middle warmed with his kiss. When he leaned back she steadied herself with her arms, gripping the top rail with her fingers to keep herself balanced.

Louise opened her eyes and saw the slow smile curving his lips. “I’d say your aim is just fine.”

“You know what they say about the first time…” He moved a little closer on the rail.

“That it’s a charm.” She moved a little closer herself. “Are you saying it wouldn’t work a second time?”

He shrugged a little, shifting his balance a little too much, teetering on the rail.

“Looks like you’ve having a bit of trouble there.” She moved her hand closer to him to brace herself. She looked up into his face with a soft expectant gaze. “What if I tried it this time?”



He was more than happy to let her do whatever she wanted, but as her lips touched his he didn’t think so much as he felt. He felt like he was about to drown and he didn’t care if he went under. Her hand bumped his on the rail and he lifted his hand up to help her get closer, but from there he was lost. He didn’t know what to do with it and leaned into the kiss, hoping the solution would present itself.

It did.

The awkward angles of their bodies brushed the back of her hair against his arm and his fingers itched to touch her. Sliding through the mass of pinned waves at the nape of her neck he felt something slide loose, but the little encouraging whimper of sound caught between their lips drove him onward.



She felt the curls slip free and brush the back of her neck over the top of her collar and she lifted her hand to reach for him. She caught him along his ribs, her fingers splaying against the side of his chest as she tried to move ever closer. It was only a moment before her hand move up toward his shoulder as the heels of her shoes caught on a lower rail to give her purchase.

Louise rose up a little, trying to find a way to make the odd relationship of their bodies easier on both of them. The added height and the press of her hand against his shoulder did do one thing. It sent them right over the edge.



All he could do was wrap his arms around her and hold on tight. The fall was quick and ended with a soft jolt as he groaned. “What happened?”

Louise looked down at him from her superior vantage point and picked a piece of hay from his hair. “I think we landed in your pile of hay.” She flushed, suddenly self-conscious as she looked slightly away from him. “I didn’t mean to knock us down… you’re not ‘hurt’ are you?”

He smiled and lifted a hand to gently turn her head. “Maybe my pride a bit. I’ve always known I’d fall for the right girl-”

“And you ended up having me knock you to the ground.”

Jimmy lifted his hand, slowly sliding it around behind her neck. “I’m just glad you fell for me, too.”

Her laughter was muffled against his lips.


*** ***

Polly entered the dining room with two cups of coffee. Seeing her husband standing pensively by the window she set them down on the table and moved to his side. “Somethin’ wrong, darlin’?”

He let the curtain drop back into place as he turned, taking his wife into his arms. “I’d say things are about as right as they could be.”

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
severina2001
Nov. 30th, 2010 01:17 pm (UTC)
Awww, very sweet!
dianaryan
Jan. 22nd, 2011 07:23 pm (UTC)
all about the cheeze :D
not_from_stars
Dec. 3rd, 2010 02:01 pm (UTC)
See! I knew it would be awesome! :) *snugs*
dianaryan
Jan. 22nd, 2011 07:23 pm (UTC)
did you post your story??
I've been looking for it :D
not_from_stars
Jan. 22nd, 2011 07:25 pm (UTC)
Re: did you post your story??
Yes I did! A couple of days ago.

Here's a link to it on my writing journal:

Give It A Chance
taibhrigh
Dec. 9th, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
On a Night Like This
Nice seeing a piece of YR fic!
dianaryan
Jan. 22nd, 2011 07:22 pm (UTC)
Re: On a Night Like This
Thanks a ton!!
(Anonymous)
Jul. 18th, 2011 12:15 am (UTC)
Nice Post
Nice Post. This post helped me in my college assignment. Thanks Alot
dianaryan
Aug. 1st, 2011 03:16 am (UTC)
Re: Nice Post
i wonder what kind of college assignment that was!!!! glad to help :D
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )