Author’s Note: This is a gapfiller for the Episode “Daisy”

“I’d like to talk to you.”

Lou turned around, a wan smile on her lips. “Here I am.” The barn was the picture of quiet finally, the horses happily eating their suppers. “What do you want to talk about?”

Kid looked back over his shoulder at the open yard. “I was hoping we could go somewhere… private.”

“The horses won’t talk, Kid, what’s-”

“I just don’t want to talk about this… here.” He gestured to the pile of hay in one corner. “This isn’t what-”

“Is this about the fight?”

Her words stopped him as surely as if he’d walked right into the door. “Fight?”

“The one with Jimmy… when he went to get the saw.” She saw his hesitation and continued on. “I wish the two of you would get along and-”

“The fight was… a misunderstanding… Jimmy knows that. You don’t have to-”

“What misunderstanding?” She tilted her head to the side. Waiting.

Kid shifted his weight from one foot to the other, shaking his head slightly. This wasn’t where he’d wanted this to go. He felt his pocket reflexively to make sure the ring was still in place. “All he had to do was tell me that he didn’t have the-” he stopped short, his throat closing over the lump that had formed there. This wasn’t how he wanted to tell her. “I would have believed him… It would have been easier if he hadn’t…,” Kid took a breath and let it out, slowly, “if he hadn’t… how is your ankle?”

“My… ankle?” She blinked at him, confused for a moment. “What does my ankle have to do with anything-” her eyes narrowed at him. “Jimmy didn’t have anything to do with me getting hurt, Kid. He pulled me out from under those horses!”

“I didn’t know that then.”

“What ‘did’ you know?” She settled a hand on her hip and looked back at him. “Did you ask him? Did you even try to find out… you can’t just blame Jimmy for something like this and-”

“That’s not what it was!” He clamped his lips together to stop his words, giving him a moment to focus. “I saw him… with his arm around you… and you had yours-” the lump was still there, bigger than ever and swallowing around it was nearly impossible, “I told him to… you hugged him and all I could think of was tellin’ him to stay away.” He shook his head. “This is comin’ out all wrong, Lou… this isn’t what I wanted to say.”

“Comin’ out wrong? How about just bein’ wrong!” She took a few steps away from him, watching her boots kick up little puffs of dirt from the floor. “You saw me hug him? That was the other morning, right?” She didn’t wait for a response. “So you told him to stay away from me?”

Kid turned away and dug his fingers into his thigh, fighting for calm. “It was just because I was tryin’ to protect you, you don’t see what I see.”

“I don’t see… you’re right!” She threw up her hands. “I don’t see what’s going on here, Kid… please tell me.”

“We all see it, the way he looks at you, the way he’s always there tellin’ you what to do… tellin’ us-”

“Is that what you think he’s doing? You think he’s tryin’ to tell me what to do? I was askin’ ‘him’ for advice and he didn’t ‘tell’ me to do anything.”

“Fine… fine,” he was desperately fighting to get everything back on track, “so I was wrong about that… and your ankle, but when I went into the bunkhouse and went to… and it wasn’t there… and then when he acted like… I got mad.”

She turned back toward the bunkhouse her shoulders rising and falling for a moment as she gathered her thoughts. “What was so important that you’d start a fight over? What was so-” He lifted his hand and the sight of a gold wedding band stopped her cold, “Oh Kid.”

He reached for her hand as he gave her a tentative smile. “I thought he’d taken this… to give me a hard time… I couldn’t let him ruin this for us.” He looked down at the ring. “I wanted this to be special… a surprise.”

Her look told him that it was just that. A surprise. “Kid, I-”

His blue eyes were full of hope. “I love you, Lou… I want to make things right between us.”

“Kid-” she reached out to him, her fingers poised to take the ring from his fingers. There was a moment when she felt a smile tug at the corners of her mouth and in the next moment it was gone. “Why did you tell him to stay away from me?”

“Don’t do this, Lou… not right now.”

“Then when, Kid? When are you gonna tell me why you warned Jimmy off me?”

“It’s not like that, Lou. When he talks to you… I’m left out… you go to him with your problems and I don’t have a clue what’s goin’ on… and then I see you and you’ve got your arms around him and it just,” he looked up at her and she saw the hurt in his eyes.

“You saw my arms around him and you thought… so it’s not just Jimmy you don’t trust… it’s me, too.” Her voice was hoarse, rough with emotion.

“Don’t, Lou… don’t.”

“Don’t what? Say what I should have seen awhile ago? You couldn’t trust Jimmy to keep his hands off me, but the other side of that is me… you can’t trust me not to let him.”

He opened his mouth, but his thoughts rearranged themselves. “Look, Lou, neither one of us is thinking clearly and that’s the problem. When we’re around the others all the time, they all put in their own thoughts about what we should do and it complicates things… when we’re married, it’ll be different, Lou. You’ll see.”

She shook her head, confused. “What difference will a ring make?”

“You’d be my wife.”

The thought was sobering. “I’d still be the same person on the inside, Kid. If you can’t trust me now… what difference will a ring make?”

She waited for an answer, wanted to see some light of understanding in his eyes, but even after a few long moments it wasn’t there. She turned, putting her back to him so he wouldn’t see her heart breaking.

“Not gonna work is it?”

She heard the pain his voice, but she couldn’t bring herself to argue. Couldn’t say a thing with her heart lodged in her throat.

She tried to shake her head no, but she couldn’t seem to ‘feel’ the motion. “I’m not ready… I’m sorry-”

“I know.”

The words cut into Lou and she couldn’t draw enough breath to talk.

“It’s bad timing.”

‘No!’ She wanted to scream the words at him. ‘That’s not what it is!’ But at that moment it didn’t make any sense… not unless they were both ready to hear it. She just nodded instead.

“What are we gonna do?” The question fell into the waiting silence of the barn when Lou found it impossible to put more words together.

An almost imperceptible shrug dealt her another blow. “Go back to the way things were, I guess.”

She wanted to ask for more… what did he mean? The constant fighting and worries. The questioning looks and temper fueled misunderstandings?

“Do you think we can?” She said it, but it wasn’t what she wanted. Still, at that point it was better than trying to ignore each other.

“I don’t know.” He said the words, but it was true for them both.

“I guess… we just went too far, too fast.” Her heart was lodged in her throat. She’d wanted him… she’d loved him… but where there wasn’t trust… there couldn’t be a relationship built to last.

He nodded to agree and Lou felt the world dropping out from under her feet. She wrapped her arms around him, tears blurring her vision as she leaned in to kiss him. Kid turned his face away and stepped back from her embrace. As he walked out of the barn Louise could do nothing but watch him.

She could have run after him. She could have begged him to stay… but then they’d be right back in the middle of their same old dance. Maybe this was what they needed… maybe this is what happens if you can’t trust the one you love.

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