He'd broken his promise to her by coming there. She'd then made it seem like he'd kept it by following him there. She'd signed up before he knew what was happening. By then it was too late, her name was added to the thousands of other young men who'd pledged their support and their lives, if necessary, to a cause. So all he could do was try to keep her safe.
Kid had told his captain that they were brothers. It was actually believable since they had similar hair colors so no one thought to doubt that these two 'boys' were closer than most men would be. He got to share a tent … as well as bedroll … with her. That gave him comfort when there was none to be had.
It was actually easy at first. Where he went, she was sent along. She had his back and he had hers, just like when they'd rode for the Express. Teaspoon's bag of tricks sure came in handy as they attempted to survive to the next day, the next week, the next month, and then the next year. In fact they survived two and a half years that way. That is until that day when the explosion came out of nowhere.
They'd been separated that day, for the first time, and Kid had had a bad feeling about it from the first. He'd, of course, argued but with bullets flying around them his words didn't mean squat. So he had no choice but to watch his love run away from him without so much as a hug or touch of hands to wish her luck. The fighting didn't last long but just before it ended a cannon shell landed in a building on the property they were on and Kid knew before he'd been told that he was a widower.
She was buried in a grave that had lies written all over it. The only truth being the date she was born and the date he'd stopped protecting her. They would be together again soon, he promised her. The irony of it all was that she wouldn't have been there come the next week.
The two of them hadn't been able to stop themselves one stormy night and as a result she'd announced to him the next month that she was with child. At first he'd been thrilled then scared to death. They were literally living in hell and she was trying to present him with a piece of normalcy, a piece of the way their life should have been if he'd only listened to her and stayed in Rock Creek.
Desertion wasn't an option so she'd decided she would come clean and face whatever consequences they threw her way. At least their child would be safe and she would be away from the battle field when her time came. She was away from it now but it was before her time, before their time. Their baby was buried along with her, not marked on the grave stone though because no one but its father knew of its existence.
There had been another pair of brothers in the unit. They were close too, always looking out for each other, so they understood the loss Kid was feeling. No one could truly understand but he still appreciated the gesture … and the bottle of whiskey they'd given him to drown his sorrows. It had taken staring at that bottle for several days before Kid had finally gotten the courage to pick it up, twist off the cap, and bring it up to his lips. When he let that liquid touch the part of his body that used to kiss his wife to sleep each night, he felt a connection to her. So Kid would end each day with a drink. Then he would begin each day with a drink. Pretty soon all the other parts of the day included a drink. Nothing mattered to him but keeping that connection.
He was definitely his father's son because Kid could drown an entire bottle, take up his gun and go into battle and come out without a scratch on him. Why was he so damn lucky and his child had had to suffer before being able to live? Kid waited for the answer to that question every day but it never came to him. Not until nine months from that day when he'd lost everything. When they'd been talking about the joyous news of becoming parents, she'd estimated the date when she thought the baby would be born. No one could know for sure with babies but Kid knew his wife and if she said it would be on that date, he had no reason to doubt her.
So that day was now here. It was today. Kid raised the bottle in a toast to the son or daughter he would never know, to the wife who had made his life complete by saying yes to him after the third time he'd asked her to marry him, to his partner in life who hadn't let him ride on alone, and mostly to the two people that he needed to be with more than he needed that next drink.
Kid put down the bottle and in its place gripped in his palm their wedding rings. He'd been keeping them safe until they met again and today was that day. They would have been a family of three on this very day in life so he was going to make them that family in the afterlife. It was the least he could do for them … for him, as he wanted to be part of the future he'd lost.
He'd made all the preparations, making the two brothers, who'd befriended him and helped him by giving him access to that first drink, promise that if anything happened to him, they would bury him alongside his 'brother'. What they didn't know was that they would be reuniting a family, a family that Kid had caused to be separated for too long.
Coming up to the two men as they crouched down in the thicket, Kid reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. "Remember what you promised me that day I lost my reason for living. I need to ask one more favor of the two of you - that you make these changes to the marker at my brother's grave."
Before they could say anything, Kid drew his gun and ran toward the line of horses in front of the soldiers. He kept running past them, shooting bullets at nothing in particular but giving any one close enough an opportunity to return the favor. As a Yankee took the honor, bringing him to his knees as one then two bullets pierced his skin, Kid looked to heaven and whispered his last words, "Lou, you came after me when I rode on without you, now I'm coming after you. No more broken promises. "