Emma silently slipped from the bunkhouse leaving the trenchers and platters on the table a soft excuse in her voice. She walked back to the house and let herself in through the mudroom where she quickly washed her hands and removed her apron, setting it on a hook beside the door. The clock set against the wall on a small wooden shelf beside her tick… tick… ticked away the time.

She drew her coat on, working on the buttons before venturing outside.

They stood at the window. She felt it, knew it… needed not to see it with her own eyes. Lou had offered to go with. So had Jimmy. They'd all offered even when she could see the confusion in their eyes. Seen the grimace of pain when Jimmy reached for something on the table.

Longley had caused all of this. He'd injured them all with his need for revenge… for power. He'd done the same to her years ago. Flayed apart her hopes and dreams and returned them with the bittersweet taste of her innocence.

She'd lost her father and the man that she'd loved to Longley's need for dominance and revenge and yet there was something inside of the gunman that had claimed her heart so long ago and was still playing havoc with her conscience.

When he'd come back into her life she should have stayed far far away from him. Should have stayed at the station and kept him from finding out that she lived in Sweetwater, but even knowing what it could mean she'd gone to ask him… to barter with him… for a boy's life.

She could tell herself that it was only to save Jimmy's life… that it was only the last ditch effort to keep the boy alive that had taken her to the Sweetwater Hotel. Led her across the street in broad daylight and climb the stairs in full view of anyone that might see. She could try to say that… but it would be a lie… at least in part.

A lie, because somewhere in the depths of her heart she wanted to find out if there was anything left of the young man that had called her beautiful and promised her a life full of love… it was hard to believe that 'he' was gone… but he'd proved her wrong. He'd been mean and hurtful and nearly made her cry, but the way that he'd touched her… the rough grab of his hands had still managed to bring her base needs to the surface.

She'd reacted to his touch and it left her feeling… dirty… unclean… and now, even knowing how much she'd come to hate him… she was still willing to go to the cemetery and say goodbye… goodbye to the boy that she had loved and the man that she'd come to hate.

So, head held high she walked out of the door and down to the waiting buggy. Climbed up into the seat and snapped the reins to send the horse into motion. Every step took her farther back into the past, letting her remember him the way she wanted to. Remember him the way her school girl wishes and adolescent dreams had clung to him even when he was being cruel.

She was ready to put him away… shut him away like a long forgotten memento and go on with the rest of her life. And today was the day that she'd take that final walk.

TYR Fic Fest 2 on LiveJournal: Prompt - Emma: her thoughts on Longley's death

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