Teaspoon stood just outside the door of the bunkhouse arms crossed over his chest.
Cody gave him a happy grin and tipped his hat. "If you'll excuse us, Teaspoon. We're gonna be late for the dance."
Teaspoon stepped closer, nearly filling up the doorway as he gave them a pointed look. "That's what I came to talk to you boys about."
He stepped through the group and sat on the edge of the table. "Emma's been called into town to help with Mrs. Stafford's baby so it's up to me to teach you boys a thing or two before the dance."
Lou leaned against the wall. "I ain't plannin' on no dancin' Teaspoon. So you can leave me out of the lessons."
The older man gave the boy a stern glance. "Don't be puttin' words in my mouth, son. I didn't say these lessons were only 'bout dancin'." He straightened up and gave each of the riders a look. "Seems that a few towns've been complain' about the 'conduct' of Express Riders and while our little dot on the map has been quite happy with our boys, it only takes on incident… one wrong 'step' if you will for things to get mighty testy here in town.
"So, it falls to me to help you boys figure out what end is up and what end is down."
Cody shook his head with a wide grin on his lips. "Boy, Teaspoon… these sure are easy questions… can we get goin-"
"SIT!" The Station Master pointed at the floor and Cody flopped down onto a bench. "Now, I'm gonna pair you boys up and we're gonna practice the proper way of doing things."
"You're gonna pair us up with women?" Cody elbowed Hickok. "This is better than I thou-"
"Buck." Teaspoon cut off Cody's latest interjection with one of his own. "Come up here." He pointed to a spot on the floor and after a moment of hesitation the young Kiowa took his place. "Jimmy." "Cody." And on it went until they were six riders marked across the floor.
"Now what?" Lou didn't look at all happy with the situation.
"Now," started Teaspoon, "when you want to dance with a pretty girl you bow." He tucked one arm behind him and crossed the other over his middle and bent at the waist. A moment later he turned to the room and nodded. "Now you try."
Cody and Ike both gave it a try and wound up bouncing their foreheads off of the other. "Ow!" Cody hollered as he stepped back.
"You can't all do it at once," pondered Teaspoon, "We'll have to take turns." Just like the old childhood game of duck, duck, goose, Teaspoon counted off on the riders starting with Kid. "Girl, boy, girl, boy-" until they were all labeled.
"I ain't no girl, Teaspoon."
"Never said you were, Hickok. But if we're gonna get this over with a minimal amount of bruises and bloodshed, half of you boys need to be the girl for now."
Jimmy turned back and looked into Buck's face; the Kiowa was barely able to conceal the laughter that shook his shoulders. Crossing his hands over his chest, Jimmy murmured to the other rider. "I ain't bein' the girl."
On the other end of the room, something similar was happening. Shoving his hands into his pockets, Kid leaned toward Lou. "You go ahead and be the girl."
Lou looked up at him over the edge of her glasses. "I don't need no practice bein' a girl, Kid."
"I know that." He looked over to make sure no one else was listening. "I never said you did, but it would be silly for me to practice bein' a girl when you already are one, right?"
"It would be silly," she answered back, "for me to 'act' like a girl since I'm tryin' to hid the fact that I am one!"
Teaspoon cleared hi throat to get their attention. "First thing's first. Boys you bow and the girls will curtsy."
Cody bowed and watched as Ike halfheartedly dipped into a curtsy, distaste written on his face.
"Aww hell, Ike," Cody started in. "You ain't doin' it right." Taking the other rider by the shoulders, Cody swung him around so the two switched places. "Let me do it, or we'll be here all night."
Batting his eyelashes at Ike he put one foot behind the other and bent his knees into a graceful curtsy worthy of any ballroom. "See?" He demanded as he stood up. "It's easy."
Ike held up his hands in surrender.
Lou arched a brow at Kid and bowed to him. He in turn gave a half hearted bobble of a curtsy, his displeasure easy to read.
Buck bowed to Jimmy and was rewarded with a bow in return. When Jimmy stood up he swept back the edge of his jacket to display the Colt he wore at his hip, his look challenged Teaspoon to argue.
"Son, I told you… aw never you mind…" he grumbled under his breath before replacing the mask he had worn a few minutes ago, smiling. "I guess that's better'n nothin'… Next, after the girl says she'll dance with you, you have to take her in your arms. Like this." He held his right arm out to the side, his hand just below his shoulder. Jimmy, Buck, Ike and Lou copied him. "Then," he continued, "you respectfully set your left hand on her waist."
Jimmy shook his head. "Can't we just wrap our arms around them? This is just too fancy for me."
"We don't treat fine womenfolk like you're a bear and she's a tree, Hickok. You treat them like the gift from God that they are. Respectful and thankful."
Kid looked away as Lou per her hand on his waist and he fairly plopped his left hand on top of her right.
Ike rolled his eyes as Cody giggled when he set his hand on Ike's, his head bobbing around like he expected his blond hair to bounce along with the movement. "You're so sweet," Cody whispered to Ike and the mute rider took a step back, putting a few more inches between them.
"Right," Teaspoon said as if he sensed the tension in part of the room, "When the music starts, most of the dances will be in four."
"Four?" Cody blinked back the older man. "Four parts?"
"No," Teaspoon sighed, "four beats. One. Two. Three. Four. One. Two. Three. Four." Teaspoon held up his arms as if he was a holding a woman and stepped forward, "One." Together. "Two." Back. "Three." Together. "Four. See?" He dropped his hands and nodded. "Men step forward first."
Cody happily let Ike step forward and Cody smiled up into his face as the mute rider easily moved Cody around in a half circle. Teaspoon looked over at Buck and Jimmy and let out a heavy sigh. "Don't you boys wanna learn to dance?"
Jimmy gave Buck a slanted grin. "I got no problems gettin' a girl to dance, but Buck's sour expression will scare 'em all away."
Buck narrowed his eyes at the gunfighter. "Better that than you shootin' off their toes by accident."
"Boys?" The warning tone didn't do much to faze either rider. "There won't be any guns allowed at the dance, so that won't happen." He quickly turned away, eager for something good. "Kid? Lou? How are you-"
"Ow! Watch it!"
"Come on, Lou.. just switch with me."
"I'm the boy, Kid… get used to it."
"You ain't the b-"
Lou brought his foot down on Kid's instep and the young man had to hop a few paces away to lean against the wall. "What'dyu do that for?"
Tilting his head to the side, Lou gave Kid a wide open stare and nodded toward Teaspoon, eyes filled with meaning.
Teaspoon gave them both a look of his own. One of complete confusion. "Well, neither of you are gonna have many dances if you intend on injuring all your partners."
Lou put his fists on his hips and Teaspoon found the gesture a bit disconcerting but he waved off the thought.
"I ain't gonna be doin' much dancin' tonight anyway."
Teaspoon shook his head. "Hardheads, all of you."
"What's next, Teaspoon?" Cody swept by in Ike's arms.
He stared after them for a moment before he came back to his senses. "Now, if a woman needs a little fresh air, you can walk them outside."
Teaspoon paused for a moment looking at the door in the middle of the wall. "Say this doorway didn't have a door in it."
Kid looked at the door and then back at Teaspoon. "But, it does."
"That's true… but what if we say this doorway didn't have one-" he held up his hand to keep the boys quiet, "You walk up to the door and sweep your hand out to tell the miss to step on through." Teaspoon scanned the room and his eyes rested on Buck. "Son? Go ahead. Take your partner to the door and show her out."
Jimmy clumped along behind Buck and just as Buck stopped at the door, Jimmy stopped as well.
"Go ahead, Jimmy."
"No, you go, Buck." Jimmy extended his arm toward the door.
"Teaspoon said I show 'you' to the door," he extended his arm, "so go."
Jimmy leaned closer. "Buck, just get goin'!"
"I'm not the girl, Jimmy. You go!"
"Buck if we don't get this over with, we'll never get to the dance."
Buck leaned closer until their foreheads were nearly touching. "Fine."
The lurched forward and suddenly they were both in the same place struggling to shove both of their bodies through the same opening. It was a tight fit and for a moment Teaspoon thought they'd get stuck, but Ike gave them a hand… or rather a boot to Jimmy's behind. The two sailed through before doubling back into the bunkhouse.
Ike found a place to stand, right behind Teaspoon.
Teaspoon shook his head. "You boys sure do try a man's patience."
"What now, Teaspoon?"
He looked over at Lou. "Ah… a willing student. Good, why don't you pull out a chair for the lady of your choice."
Kid leaned over and whispered into Lou's ear. "Come on … this is silly, just let me- hey!"
Lou looked up and smiled. "I'm sorry, Kid. Is that your foot under the chair?" He cleared his throat and lifted the chair. "Would you like to sit down?"
He gave her a look and walked around to flop into the chair. "What's next, Teaspoon?"
"Well, Kid… looks like that's all I had planned. Just the basics y'all understand."
Cody sidled up to Teaspoon and draped an arm over the other man's shoulder. "If you're tapped out Teaspoon, I've got a subject that you could school us on."
"Oh?" Teaspoon lifted the brim of his hat so he could see Cody. "What is it, son?"
Tilting his head and giving Teaspoon an innocent wide-eyed look. "I think you aughta teach us how'ta kiss a girl."
Everyone started talking at once. Everyone except Teaspoon, who sank into the chair that Kid vacated and covered his face with his hands. "Just go… please… just go."
They rushed out of the bunkhouse, their laughter falling on Teaspoon's abused ears as they ran for their horses.
Hearing the sound of silence he lifted his head and sighed, a huge heaving sigh that left him leaning back against the chair, defeat written across his features. "What was I thinkin'?"
Prompt from Cindy: The spring social in Sweetwater is fast approaching -- the first big town event since the Pony Express formed. Teaspoon decides this is a good opportunity to explain the "birds 'n the bees" to the "boys" -- as only Teaspoon could do it. - I started writing this and had to deviate a bit from the original prompt :)