The calm of the water in front of him, the peacefulness of his surroundings, none of it matched the whirlwind of emotions running through his body at that moment. He watched the water's surface, hoping it would relax him but it had no effect on him; that was until a ruffle suddenly appeared upon the pond's surface, coming out of nowhere.
Suddenly Kid was squirming around in all directions, trying to see the middle of the pond and what was behind him at the same time. He shook his head and gave a small chuckle as he watched Jimmy toss another stone into the body of water.
"Now that's more like it," he muttered as the rippled motion away from where the rock landed matched the churning inside his stomach.
"Had a feelin' I'd find you here," Jimmy said as he stepped around the fallen log Kid was sitting on to join his friend.
Kid glanced around the small copse of trees he was sitting in the middle of. He knew from the entrance to the pond that this area wasn't visible; you couldn't even see that it was anything more than a path from looking at it from the water. It had taken him going for a walk around the pond as the way he found it. And only one other person knew about it … at least he thought it was only one other person. "I gotta find myself a new secret spot."
"I wouldn't go changin' it all that quickly if I were you. I'd have never found you if I wasn't told where to look."
"Lou? Of course it was Lou," he answered himself before Jimmy could.
Jimmy nodded and grinned. "She got all embarrassed when she described how to find it, mentioning how the branches form a kind of roof to shade ya from the heat of the sun when you're lyin' down, and beginnin' to say somethin' else until she realized I didn't need all that information to find you. Now what about this place would make her blush to the roots of her hair, I wonder." He over-exaggerated bringing his hand up under his chin and rubbing it as he thought.
"I don't recall," Kid lied as it was now his turn to be embarrassed. This wasn't only his secret spot; it was his favorite spot on account of the intimacy he'd shared with Lou in his arms.
"Well, I'm guessin' this place could come in mighty handy for a lot of reasons," Jimmy half teased as he looked around it admiringly. He almost wished he'd been the one to have found it as it seemed the perfect place to come to for escaping ones problems.
"And I'm figurin' bein' alone today ain't one of 'em," Kid mumbled as it was now his turn to pick up a rock and toss it with all his might into the pond. He leaned over his knees as he watched it disappear from his sight, as if it was swallowed up by the liquid in front of him.
"I think you came here 'cause you don't wanna be alone."
Kid chuckled again. "You could be right. I don't know what I want right now so your guess is as good as mine."
Jimmy studied the subdued man beside him before attempting to lighten the mood. "So I hear I'm gonna have a nephew."
So that was why Lou had sent Jimmy out there, he thought with a sigh. Jimmy hadn't been around the way station when Lou had sprung her little surprise on him or when the two of them had made the announcement to the rest of the family. Kid hadn't been sure if Lou would tell him herself or leave it to him to tell their good friend. At least now he knew the answer to that question.
"There's no way of knowin' what it'll be until it gets born so you could just as likely wind up with a niece."
"Yeah, but think about it, Kid. A boy …" Jimmy paused until he noted that Kid was now sitting up straight and staring at him before continuing, "with all us men around. I mean, what could we possibly do with a girl? Huh? Teach her how to ride, how to shoot?" He shook his head as he stared at Kid with an over exaggerated dumbfounded look upon his face.
"Absolutely not!" Kid slammed his hands down on his thighs to emphasize his words. Then sharing a look with his best friend, both riders leaned into each other as they answered simultaneously, "Her ma will teach her that."
They both shared a laugh that ended with Kid spreading his legs out in front of him and leaning back on the log.
"Thanks, Jimmy, I needed that."
Seeing Kid relax a little gave Jimmy the opening he was waiting for to broach the real reason he was there. "What's the matter, Kid? You scared?"
Kid looked at him incredulously. "Uh, yeah, wouldn't you be?"
"No …" Another look of shock was directed Jimmy's way as he continued, "I'd be terrified! You surprise me a little Kid; I always pictured you as the perfect family man. Buck, too, and maybe Ike, if he'd lived, but I could definitely see you with a little one in your arms. At least you got six months to get used to the idea."
Kid pulled his legs up again and hunched over his knees as he stared at the water once more. "I didn't think I'd have nine months to get used to news like that, much less six! I know it was always a possibility when we were first dancin' … and my worry about it was the cause of me makin' us break up … but we been real careful since gettin' back together. When Lou told me, I had to actually think about when it coulda happened. We only been together twice since then - just after gettin' engaged, but that's only been a couple weeks and not enough time for her to know somethin' like that yet, and the other time … it was the night Ike died," Kid told Jimmy quietly.
"A little over three months ago."
As he felt his friend's eyes on him, Kid explained, "Remember how Lou ran out of the doc's office just after Ike passed on?"
Jimmy hadn't been aware of it at all but one of the boys had mentioned it later that evening when Lou hadn't shown up for the dinner that none of them were in the mood to eat or wasn't the first one in the bunkhouse getting ready for bed like usual. He nodded his head, both in agreement to knowing about Lou and wanting Kid to continue.
"After she didn't show up at bedtime, I began to get worried. I recalled how many times she kept lookin' my way when we were sittin' on the porch outside doc's and how she brushed against me on her way out the door afterward. I didn't think anythin' of it at first; I was hurtin', we all were, but with that kind of pain you get kinda selfish, like you're goin' through it alone 'cause the pain feels better than thinkin' about the loss you've just suffered. But thinkin' of those actions of hers I knew she was, too, and in the worse way. I was mad at myself for not realizin' it sooner, so I told some fib about needin' to use the outhouse, or somethin', and went in search of her."
Kid stood up and walked slowly over to the water's edge. He touched the surface of the pond with the toe of his boot before turning back in Jimmy's direction but not looking at his friend, instead looking all around him as if he was seeing what he was describing. He thrust his hands into his jacket pocket. "Actually I knew just where to find her. I found her here, sittin' under the light of a full moon. She didn't even act startled when I rode up and lit into her for bein' out here in the dark, alone and unarmed. It was as if she had expected me to come after her 'cause all she said was 'been waitin' on ya' before breaking down in tears. I ran to comfort her then she wound up comfortin' me and one thing led to another and now we have a baby on the way." He gave a heavy sign as he sat back down in his same spot on the log.
"It's understandable how that could happen and as long as neither of you blames the other …"
"No! Never!" Kid interrupted, turning to stare at his friend. "We never even mentioned it after that night. It was just somethin' we both needed at that time. It ain't even so much the news that we're gonna be parents, it's that it's one more thing to worry about."
"What do you mean?"
"Despite what you might think, I ain't that calm about gettin' married as I come across bein'."
"I don't know any man who would be." Jimmy nodded in agreement and understanding.
"It's just a lot of changes to take in all at once - a weddin', buyin' a place of our own, knowin' that any day now I'll be out of a job, gettin' her brother and sister out of the orphanage, another mouth to feed …"
"Now I know for a fact that you won't be doin' that last part," Jimmy teased.
Kid blushed furiously. He crossed his arms over his chest as he looked away in embarrassment. "You know what I mean," he said as he calmed down, "babies don't eat that way forever."
"Kid, what you're goin' through right now, well, it's like hail; it comes fast and hard but passes before you know it. Then you just gotta pick up the pieces from the damage. Now you're damage is makin' a baby before the weddin' night but in the long run, does timin' like that really matter? I'd say you're worryin' Lou more by runnin' away than by givin' her somethin' she wasn't expectin' to have yet."
"I don't wanna upset her in her condition. See that?!" Kid jumped up and threw his arms up in the air. "I don't wanna keep relating everything to that."
Jimmy stood up as well. "Kid, she does have a condition but it's the best one I know of." He crossed his arms over his chest as he grinned at his friend.
Kid glanced to the ground and when he looked back up again, a sheepish smile was on his face. "I know; it is good, isn't it?"
Jimmy playfully reached out and punched the Southerner in the arm. "Then what are you still doin' here? Why don't you go share that feelin' … and all the other ones you're havin' … with the woman you made that baby with? Kid, she's scared too but together, maybe, you can find the good in all of this. Just remember, you ain't alone. She sent me to find you …"
"And now you're sendin' me where I rightly belong," Kid finished for him. "Thanks for comin' after me, Jimmy, and knockin' some sense into me with somethin' better than your fist." Kid grinned, truly happy for the first time since finding out the news. "I'd thank you another way by givin' you a nephew to spoil but that decision's out of my hands and to tell you the truth, I'd kinda like a little version of Lou around to keep all her uncles in line." Kid laughed then turned and stepping up on the log, jumped over it on his way to his horse.
Holding Katy's reins, Kid turned back to his bunkmate. "Did anyone ever tell you that you sound more like Teaspoon every day?" He swung himself up into the saddle and without waiting for an answer, took off out of sight.
Jimmy stared after him as the realization of Kid's last words dawned on him. "Damn, I do sound like him. Well, as long as I helped someone out I guess it ain't that bad." He shrugged then muttered, "I just better stay clear of eatin' onions or washin' with horses and at least I won't smell like him." He climbed up in his saddle and rode off after the father-to-be.
Author's note: I had originally planned to write this story for the word prompt quick fic, #103, but I spelled 'hale' wrong when I was writing it so gave up on that idea and wrote it anyway!