Originally written for the TYR Ficfest on LiveJournal. The Prompt was: Louise: A catalog falls out of the mochilla and Louise pours over the pages. What does she 'shop' for?
Louise turned the book at an angle to get the full benefit of the soft flame from the lantern. Pulling the bridge of her spectacles down she squinted at the page and struggled to read the fine print.
“Whalebone… duck… two dollars, hmm…”
She flipped the page and drew her finger up and down the page looking. “Dry goods… yardage… silver buttons, oh nice…”
The book turned over in her hands and she leaned back against the wall shaking her head. “Ohhh the price.”
Kid rolled over in his bunk and cracked open an eye. “Are you done with that light, Lou? It’s hard to get any rest with it on.”
She pulled the book into the shadows and gave him a look that arched over her glasses. “Then turn around and you won’t see it.”
“It makes shadows on the wall.”
Sighing, she tucked the catalog under her arm and grabbed a hold of the handle on the top of the lantern. “Fine, I’ll go outside.”
The lantern light was enough for him to see the outline of what she was wearing, or rather… what she wasn’t.
Cody groaned and grumbled in his sleep as he turned over.
Louise swung around to stare back at Kid. “What?”
He rubbed at his eyes with the backs of his hands as he swung his feet off the edge of the bunk and struggled to sit up. “You can’t go out like that.”
She stopped just a few inches from his face. “Why don’t you shout it at the top of your lungs and wake the others up, huh?”
He blinked back at her. “It’s cold.”
“I’ve felt worse.”
Even in the pale light of the lantern he could see the hard look in her eyes, the determined set of her jaw and way she gnawed on her lower lip. “Well, I just think you should take a coat if you’re gonna go outside, but-”
“Ain’t you two tired or yappin’?”
They ignored Cody, the tension between them enough to keep their notice. “Well if you know, then why don’t you-”
“That’s the problem, Kid.” Reaching for the book under her arm she nearly shoved it into his nose. “I’m lookin’ through this for a reason… “
Kid took the book from her hands and opened it to one of the well worn pages where the spine folded back. A moment after he held it up to the light his eyes went wide with shock and he slammed the book shut. “What did you show me that for?”
“Come on, you two,” groused Jimmy from the darkness, “cain’t you two argue tomorrow?”
“Never put off an argument you can have tonight.”
“Shut up, Cody.” Buck flipped over on his back and tried to block out the noise.
Lou pulled the book out of Kid’s hands and opened it to the same page. “That’s not it.”
Kid reacted to the definite sound of laughter in her voice. “Why’re you laughin’ at me?”
She turned the book around, chuckling when he flinched away from the page. It took a moment before he realized it wasn’t what he was looking at earlier. “But those are… coats!”
“That’s right,” she agreed, you flipped it open to the underpinnings page, but the coats were what I was really lookin’ for. It’s getting’ cold, Kid… too cold for the coat I got.”
“So you’re buyin’ a coat? Why do you need to look at that catalog so late at night?” Kid lay his head back down on his pillow and blinked up at her.
“It’s cause I’m also lookin’ at all the girl things you ‘peeked’ at on the other page… “
The sound of the lantern touching the table top was enough to cut off his words. “’Sides, Kid,” she wondered aloud, “ain’t a girl supposed to have a few secrets?”
Kid smiled in return and pulled his blankets up around him.
“Ah heck, Lou,” Cody tossed in his bunk, “you and Kid keep talkin’ about things like this and there won’t be no secrets between any of us.”
The two riders looked up at their friend. “Shut up, Cody.”