Buck hoped he’d make it home. He had to. He’d wasted so much of his life already that he didn’t deserve the love that was waiting for him. He tried to stoke some life into the fire he’d built as he thought about the telegram he’d received. How they’d found him was a mystery but Teaspoon knew a lot of people, as did Sam. It had been opened, folded, reopened and refolded so many times on his journey that he knew it by heart. Sighing, he pushed the small pieces of wood around, hoping for some heat, but feeling none.

He’d gotten lucky to find a spot by *hot springs* and had soaked his weary feet in the healing waters earlier that night. The warmth had spread through his body and had actually put a small smile on his face. With no horse, he’d had to walk the entire way, developing the heel *spurs* to prove it. The soles of his boots were lined inside with *newspaper* since he couldn’t afford new ones. He couldn’t afford anything.

At that moment, in his pockets were lint and a *brothel token*, and that he couldn’t use anymore. They didn’t want his kind there. He cringed at the thought of the last incident, how he’d pleaded with Sarah. He’d begged. It made him sick inside just thinking about it. His heart was empty and he’d tried sex and alcohol to fill it but nothing had worked. Even so, he still didn’t want the one warm body that would have him to be taken away. Yes he had to pay but he didn’t care, she was warm. And there.

Pulling his *blanket* over his shoulders, he thought of all that he’d left when he refused to stay. Teaspoon had pleaded with him as did Lou, Kid and Jimmy but it didn’t matter. He didn’t believe them so whatever they said, fell on deaf ears. Well, he wasn’t deaf anymore.

Curling into a ball, he tried to get the warmth from the small fire to chase away the cold. It wasn’t working. He was more than cold, he was hollow. Suddenly a searing pain stabbed at his heart. He pulled his knees into his chest, hoping to stop the pain. The ache was more than he could bear and, not being able to help it, he started crying. Small tears, silently rolling down his face at first but then, with the despair of so many years, deep, soul-wracking sobs shook his body. He was lost and he knew it. Finally, with one last gasping sob, he felt a great release. .

He’d start the next day refreshed, with a renewed sense of urgency. If he was reading the landmarks right (and after so many rides he'd done in days past, he knew he was), he’d be home by dinner time. Sighing softly, he leaned over, poked at the fire a little more, and laid back to finally find the solace of sleep. He was warm for the first time in years.

A/N: A word list Raye gave me as a prompt for a possible blogathon story.

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