tagCelebritiesThe Welcome

The Welcome

byJayLaw928©

The Young Riders is owned by MGM.

This story is for entertainment purposes only, not for personal profit. The Young Riders and all the characters therein belong to MGM.

The Young Riders is a T.V. show that ran from 1989-1991 about the 18 month span of the pony express.

This story is set about seven years after the end of the pony express. If you don't know the characters, you might want to get to know them on Hulu. It's three seasons of old western fun, drama, social issues, and goodness.


*

She knocked on the door of the little house with more than a bit of trepidation. Myrtle, the nice elderly lady that she had met at the general store earlier in the week was not expecting her, but the diminutive figure on the porch had wanted to be welcoming and neighborly.

She fidgeted with the welcome basket in her hands while looking about her. Knocking once again, she stepped down off the little porch and turned to survey the leaning fence that haphazardly enclosed the hard dirt that tried to be a front yard. Outcroppings of rocks and scattered tufts of weeds completed the ramshackle look of the property.

A deep gravelly voice behind her startled her out of her perusal.

"Yeah," it growled belligerently.

She turned to the open door, then blushed mightily, eye level to a pair of long john clad legs, a gun belt and a sizable bulge beneath it. An ivory-handled, silver plated gun rested in the holster, and in the split second it took her to register that fact, her eyes shot up to the face of the man at the door.

'It can't be,' she prayed to herself.

His face was scruffy with a couple of days' hair growth on it, and long brown hair framed it, but it was the eyes that made her breath catch. Despite their bloodshot appearance, she would have known those eyes anywhere. Those eyes that had watched her from across a bunkhouse lifetimes ago.

Eyes that had squinted in the sun on long rides next to her. Those eyes that had both teased and tormented her with their endless threats and promises. Eyes that had harbored so much pain, and yet crinkled up in laughter with such ease. Those light brown eyes that seemed steely and hard when gunning down blood-thirsty outlaws yet chocolaty brown and deep when he laughed or looked at her with desire in the moonlight by a fire.

"Jimmy," she whispered, her heart pounding, eyes wide.

She willed her hands to stop shaking on the handle of the basket.

He glared around at the scenery.

She wasn't even sure he saw her. Would he recognize her? Would he remember? She steeled her nerves and squared her shoulders. Stepping back onto the porch, she held out her hand in greeting.

He was scratching his backside and yawning. Out of habit, he perused her body first. His sleepy eyes raked up and down her form appreciatively. Dark brown skirt, white puffy blouse, classy but not flashy or frilly. Wavy brown hair looked like it went halfway down her back.

Her heart fell. He didn't know her. Of course he wouldn't remember. This was Wild Bill Hickok, she chided herself. Not Jimmy. Not ... her Jimmy.

She hadn't written anyone. She hadn't kept in touch by any means. She knew she couldn't expect much of a welcome. From anybody. She left and spent all her energy trying to keep Kid happy. He had known their departure would be heartbreaking for the people they both considered family. His insistence that it was the right thing to do filled her with guilt for not wanting to follow her husband. So she played the dutiful wife and went along with him. For seven years, she did.

She lowered her eyes to the ground, embarrassed by her automatic expectations. Embarrassed that even after all these years, there was still some tiny seed of hope, eager to plant itself in the heart she thought had been hardened by so many years of neglect and disappointment. She didn't know whether to lower her hand, or to leave it there in case he decided to shake it.

He raised an eyebrow in appreciation. This just might be his lucky day, he thought, as one side of his mouth curled up in a humorless smile. Or hers, he smirked to himself. He decided to let this little piece of cake have a big piece of Wild Bill.

He finally raised his eyes to her face and she met his gaze, stifling her chagrin. His smirk widened into a grin, taking in the beauty before him.

The big brown eyes, the pert little nose, the soft pouty lips. Oh, he was going to have a—wait a minute.

Why did those eyes snag at something inside him? Why did he suddenly expect those lips to softly put him in his place when he was acting out or share her deepest secrets when things were quiet? What was this feeling of guilt and shame welling up inside him suddenly? Who the hell--?

For a moment, so quick she thought she imagined it, she saw him as he was over seven years ago. She saw a flash of life, of interest. That flash flooded her whole being with images of his boyish blush and wry smile from her kiss on his cheek at dinner. Her blue dress and his warm, firm hand around her waist as they clumsily and joyfully waltzed together, heedless of the world around them. For just a moment.

Something moved inside him. Deep inside him. Something that he'd hidden away seven years ago. A sound. One he had held on to as if his life depended on it. For seven long years. It started fighting, clawing, and kicking to escape. It wanted out of the special place he had kept it. The place he had buried it under years of drinking and women. It wanted to be reunited with its owner. It bubbled inside, boiling over until he couldn't keep its lid on anymore.

It scratched its way out.

"Lou," he rasped her name, his eyes wide in disbelief.

She gasped. Her heart skipped, again trying to allow hope in. He remembered!

Then he was gone.

It wasn't Jimmy anymore.

This was pure Wild Bill.

He glared at her.

His hands fisted into balls until she lowered her outstretched hand. He didn't want to know if it was as soft as he remembered.

She's Kid's. His brother's. Or the man he once thought of as a brother.

She was only supposed to be in his dreams. The dreams he tried to drink away every day and night. That was where he had left her deep brown eyes that could see right through him. That was where he had abandoned her dark hair that glowed copper in the firelight. That was where her delicately light touches that inflamed his skin and blood had been banished to.

Where the hell had she been all these years? Why had she never written or contacted anyone? His eyes narrowed. What the hell was she doing here? To laugh? To gloat on what the mighty "Wild Bill" Hickok had become? Oh, he'd show her how 'Wild' he could get.

But even in his angry haze, the little voice inside him that he had been drinking away for years told him that was not true. He had no cause to be angry at her. For anything. Damned little voice.

He cleared his throat and looked past her, over her shoulder.

"Lou," he growled.

She closed her eyes as his voice washed over her. They flew open as she realized what she was doing.

She raised her chin slightly, and responded soft and low, "Jimmy."

He raised a sardonic eyebrow.

"You're...back."

She nodded.

"What are you doin' here"

She shrugged, "I live," she nodded her head in the general direction of her house, "not too far. I was bring a welcome basket for-"

"Where's Kid? Last I heard, you and him were down South-"

"Kid... Kid and me..." she closed her eyes in sudden weariness and sighed. "Kid ain't here."

She swallowed hard. There. It was out. Now let him make what he wanted of it. She was damaged goods. A used woman. Not like it changed anything in her life whether he knew or not. She opened her eyes and met his stare.

"I couldn't stay. I ... I needed..." she gestured at the vast expanse of rolling hills and undulating landscape, "this." She thought for a few moments as he gazed intently at her.

"I left. He didn't." She shrugged. She didn't want to share anymore of the past seven years, and she was sure he didn't want to hear it. Did he even care?

He wanted to berate his heart for leaping for joy at her words. The embodiment of everything that he once loved stood in front of him in a tiny, big-eyed package. In a skirt. Without her husband.

His body reacted strongly to these truths. He hated himself for it. He growled and glared at her again.

His little voice whispered, "Not her fault." He took a deep breath and let it out impatiently.

He smirked, "And now you're on my porch." He glanced down at her arms and raised an eyebrow, "With a basket."

He turned abruptly and stalked into the house, leaving the door open. She followed behind him, bumping into his chest when he abruptly stopped and turned to her.

"Didn't think I'd ever see you again," he rumbled.

She gaped at him in shock. She never thought she'd ever hear words like that fall from his lips.

He cursed himself. He didn't mean to say that. He didn't mean to say anything. Where the hell did that come from? What the hell was wrong with him? He never would have said anything like that to anyone in his life, least of all her. What the hell was she doing to him? He turned on his heel and stalked back into the house with a snarl.

She heard him rummaging around, glass bottles being knocked over in his search. She hesitantly stepped inside, looking around. He loomed over her suddenly, his bare chest, chiseled and well-formed, directly in front of her, almost on top of her, his hand on the open door.

She gasped, flinched and took a step back. His arm snaked around her tiny waist and lifted her up, pulling her up against his bare chest. She closed her eyes and turned her head, breathing in his scent, whiskey, leather and fresh chopped wood.

She opened her eyes and met his scowling gaze with her wide eyes. He stepped back, turned and closed the door behind him as he slowly released her from his grip.

He just wanted to close the door. Lou almost laughed out loud at her own imagination and foolishness. Of course he wanted to close the door. It was getting into the chilly part of the day.

She slid down his body, flushed with embarrassment. She felt every inch of his hardness through her skirt as she went. Before she could stop herself, she breathed him in deep, her eyelids fluttering closed over her rolling eyes.

His heat penetrated every layer she wore. God, he felt good. Her eyes shot open, realizing she had moaned that thought under her breath. She quickly glanced at his eyes and knew he had heard. She let out a shuddering breath.

His anger was almost palpable. She stepped back, unsure of what to expect. She heard a click behind his back. Realizing he had just locked the door, her trepidation turned to panic as he towered over her.

His eyes raked over her again with a careless, sinister glint, causing her skin to burn with helpless mortification. She was still a married woman, no matter what society's opinion was. She closed her eyes, begging her body to cool down, to not respond so acutely to his nearness and his shameful treatment of her.

He was gone as quickly as he appeared, and she almost lost her balance, not having him to lean on.

She sighed and shook her head. She was flustered and confused and needed to get a grip on herself.

She looked around and saw the main room of the house, with what looked like a small bedroom off of the main room. She was next to a little kitchen area with a counter, a cast iron stove and a sink with a pump built-in.

The rest of the room had a table with chairs, and a long sofa against the wall. Her eyes found Jimmy sitting on one side of the sofa with a bottle of an amber liquid in one hand and two short glasses in the other. He tilted his head at her raising an eyebrow and the glasses.

Lou put the welcome basket on the table. She noted and admired the crisp condition of the floral patterned sofa, and sat on the cushion furthest from Jimmy. She took the proffered glass with a trembling hand. She didn't want to be rude after all, she counseled herself.

Jimmy sloshed some of the whiskey into her glass, and filled his own up. Before she could raise her glass in response to his, he had downed his drink and refilled his vessel. The comforting burn of the whiskey trail down his throat soothed his raw nerves and muffled his tiny, logical voice that was trying to break down his hard shell he had worked so hard to build up around his heart.

He looked at Lou.

She hadn't touched her drink and was looking around like she was lost. Jimmy scoffed inwardly as he tossed back his second drink.

'She found her way to Kid's safe arms once,' he thought jealously, 'she'll do it again.' The thought of Kid made the ever-present, slow burning fire inside him flare up once again in his gullet.

He filled up his glass, threw the drink back again, then glared at Lou as it burned its way towards the conflagration inside him. The magical amber liquid, usually so potent, wasn't numbing that hollow ache as it had in the past. The insatiable need he had been trying to drown for seven years just wouldn't go away this time.

He leaned across the couch and tapped Lou's glass with his own. She looked at his stubble covered face, and glaring eyes, and felt his challenge.

She shouldn't, she knew, but she did. She swallowed the whiskey in one gulp, her mind quickly flashing to the saloon that Kid's brother, Jed, had taken all the 'boys', with the easy women and flowing drinks.

Then she choked. Her eyes watered, and she coughed. She wondered if she would be able to breathe again. Jimmy let out a humorless chuckle, and reached over, pounding her on the back with an open hand. Eyes watering, she returned Jimmy's glare. His mouth had a smile, but no emotion was in the expression.

She shook her head, gasping for breath as he leaned over and refilled her glass. Lou held on to it while her coughing finally subsided. She felt the fire coursing its way down to her stomach.

Breathing deeply, thankful she had survived the experience, she put her glass down on the floor beside the sofa. She wasn't going to do this with him. She wasn't going to play this game.

With a wheezing breath out, she glanced around the room again, keeping Jimmy in her sights at the corner of her eye.

She didn't know this person. She didn't know this man who had shed or maybe just buried the caring, thoughtful and considerate friend of her past. This man was ... darker. There was more pain there, or maybe it was just closer to the surface.

She glanced at him again, slightly turning her head. He was staring at her, shamelessly. Everywhere he looked burned as though he was touching her with his warm fingers. She looked down quickly, increasingly alarmed at her body's reaction, a response she thought had long been purged from her existence. She had never felt like that when Kid looked at her.

The emotional distance between her and Kid had grown imperceptibly at first. It had grown with every task he took over 'That a woman shouldn't do,' with every meal he expected on the table, with every dress, shawl or other beautiful accessory he showered her with, to, "Help her feel more pretty." It wasn't that she didn't like the gifts. It was that they didn't seem focused on her and her interests and goals in life.

The biggest betrayal of all came from the decisions he made without consulting her like the partner she knew she should have been. Where they would live, how they would make ends meet. Whether he should join and fight for the South in the war. He treated her like an accessory for his life.

She started to feel like a fraction of who she was while riding with the Pony Express, while working, sleeping, and fighting alongside her Express brothers. Sitting on this couch in Jimmy's humble home, she realized she hated Kid for this feeling of inadequacy.

At first, her disguise had been for protection and survival. It grew to mean independence and freedom for the petite girl who knew life couldn't or wouldn't offer much to a woman, any woman without a man by her side.

Kid struggled constantly, in those days, to comprehend her need, want, and desire to be 'one of the boys'. His inability to see her true spirit was a constant challenge, a battle that sapped her patience and seemed to always have the two of them butting heads.

Jimmy never seemed to have that problem. She was always 'one of the boys' to him. Even after he found out she wasn't. He had always included her in whatever was happening and stuck up for her abilities when certain others would and did leave her behind. Kid had always hated him for that, she found out later. And he made sure she knew it.

Yes, Jimmy always treated her like one of them, but, he knew how to make her feel like woman, too. A desired woman. "You're the best lookin' boy I ever seen," "When it comes to women, my hands just got a mind of their own," dancing in the street to a lone trumpeter in the blue dress he bought for her, an earth-shattering yet brief kiss by the fire under the moonlight. Yes, Jimmy knew exactly how to make her feel like a woman.

The insistent warmth that had taken up residence in her core since he had opened the door started blooming hotter, pushing throughout her body, into all her limbs. She knew, if she didn't get herself under control, she'd be lost.

*

A/N:

This is my first published piece. I will get the 2nd half out as soon as possible! Thank you for your time!

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