Topic #81: If horses could talk
Find Him by: Cindy If Katy Could Talk by: Kathleen
A Different Perspective by: Dede The Older The Wiser by: Miss Raye
Campfire Ruminations by: Lori
Find Him
by: Cindy

Blue skies covered the Plains around Sweetwater, with only an occasional tuft of wispy white cloud to break the solid blue. The sun climbed higher in the sky, bringing the day’s temperature up with it.

Lou dumped a bucket of well water into the horse trough and groaned, sagging against the corral. “Ain’t it ever gonna rain?” Filling the basin for the animals was a daily routine now, with no precipitation to do the job.

“Not today,” Buck replied, adding his own bucket of water to the trough.

Ike added his load to the trough and dropped the bucket, hands flying.

Lou grinned, even as she rubbed a sore shoulder. “You’re right, Ike. Doesn’t seem so heavy when you’re drinkin’ a cup of water.”

“But we’d never get the trough filled if we used cups,” Buck pointed out. “The horses would drink it faster.” Just then a movement out on the plains caught his attention. “Is there a rider due in?”

Ike moved up by Buck’s shoulder, shaking his head. *Tomorrow.*

There was definitely a horse heading toward them, not running full out, but coming fairly fast.

“Rider comin’” Lou called out, taking care to drop her voice again.

The three riders stood close together, watching the horse approach. A moment later Teaspoon joined them. “No one scheduled,” he said.

“Kid ain’t due back ‘til tomorrow,” Lou agreed.

Buck was studying the approaching horse, and suddenly he turned back to the others. “No rider.”

“Well, now,” Teaspoon said softly, and the words simply hung between them as they waited.

The horse came straight toward the yard, and Buck and Ike moved out to meet it, working together to stop the obviously frightened animal.

“Damn, that’s the horse Sam borrowed the other day.”

“What?”

Teaspoon swore again, under his breath; he hadn’t heard Emma approach. “Now, Emma,” he started, turning to meet her.

But Emma pushed past him, hurrying to where Buck and Ike were trying to calm the bay stallion.

“Sam had this horse?” Emma asked.

“Stopped by two days ago, while you were helpin’ Miz Timmons,” Teaspoon replied. “His horse picked up a stone, asked to borrow one.”

“He was looking for anyone who might have seen that gang that held up the stage,” Emma said quietly. She walked around to one side of the horse and suddenly gasped. “Blood,” she whispered, raising a shaking hand to point.

The horse’s right flank was covered with blood, most of it matted and dried.

“Now, Emma, don’t mean it’s Sam’s,” Teaspoon tried, knowing even as he said the words that they sounded hollow.

The look in Emma’s eyes when she turned to look at him said clearly that she wasn’t believing that for a moment. “There’s no cut on the horse,” she said, her voice almost too calm for the circumstances. “Who else’s would it be?”

Teaspoon found he had no answer for that, so instead he took cover in moving them into action. “Lou, you ride into town, find Cody and Hickok, wherever they got to gettin’ supplies. Tell ‘em what happened. Tell Barnett too. Ike, Buck, you saddle up, we’re gonna go look for Sam.”

“You want us to come out when we get back?” Lou asked. She forgot to make her voice as low as she should have; fortunately Teaspoon was occupied with other things and didn’t appear to notice.

The stationmaster considered for a moment then shook his head. “Don’t know where we’ll be by then. ‘Sides, someone’s gotta be here when Kid gets in tomorrow, case we ain’t back yet.” He heard Emma gasp and turned to face her. “Now don’t you worry, darlin’. Sam knows how to look after hisself.” Turning back to the riders he waved his hands in an impatient gesture. “Well, let’s go!”

Emma watched as Teaspoon headed for the barn, and then she turned to the horse, stroking the animal’s nose. “Oh, if only you could talk,” she whispered. “Tell me where Sam is.”

“Maybe he can.”

Emma jumped at the sound of the voice by her shoulder. “Buck?”

Buck stepped past her, pointing at the blood on the horse’s flank. “See those nettles?” he asked. “I’ve only seen the plants with those small ones in a couple of places near here.”

“Oh…”

Buck knelt down by the horse’s front hooves and continued. “Red clay,” he said, lifting one foot. “And see the yellow?”

Emma gasped. “Sulphur!”

Buck nodded and stood up. “The horse is telling us where he’s been, Emma. Gotta be where Sam was too.”

Emma stepped forward, leaning against the young Kiowa’s chest. She felt his arms wrap gently around her, and she stood silently for a moment, accepting the offer of strength. “Find him, Buck,” she whispered. “Please find him.”

“We will,” he promised. “We’ll find him.”

Emma had become so important to all of them, and Buck knew everyone would feel the same way. They would find Sam, and bring him home.

One way or the other…

If Katy Could Talk
by: Kathleen

A/N: I took dialogue from a few Kid and Lou scenes where Katy was present and added Katy’s thoughts on the matter. The episode reference is listed before each section. Enjoy!

The Kid

Ah, nothing like a good ear scratch from Master.

“Kid?”

Who’s that? Oh, that’s the one with the handsome black stallion. I’d like to get to know him better.

“Yes Lou?”

Why did he stop scratching my ears? He seems distracted by that human female. I thought I was the only female in his life.

“Thank you for keeping my secret.”

Well, actually he didn’t really keep your secret. He told me right away.

“I didn't promise…”

Just like a male not to make any promises. Figures.

“No, but you could've said something and you didn't.”

I already told you he didn’t keep your secret. But I suppose you were only talking about telling another human.

“You got a right to make your own way. I won't tell, I give you my word.”

What is he doing? Biting her face?! I suppose that’s one way to get things started.

“It's gonna take some getting used to, now that you are a girl.”

Why did she pull away? Must not be the right time of the year. Still, Master shouldn’t give up so easily. With all that talking, he’s likely to say something dumb.

“Uh, I always been a girl, Kid.”

Hmm, the way she’s looking at him I think she is interested. So why didn’t they mate? I will never understand these humans.

A Good Day To Die

I’m so glad to be back. I’m sure my Master will take me straight to my home for some food and a good rubdown. Wait! Why are we stopping here?

“Kid! Lord, am I happy to see you!”

Her again! Now I have to watch them stare at each other but not do anything about it.

“Me, too.”

Master doesn’t talk to me as much now that she’s around. Hmph!

“What about me? I'll tell the others you're back. Scalp and all.”

There goes that one that never stops talking. Doesn’t he realize Master and the female aren’t interested in him?

“You all right? You look terrible.”

The female seems to be making a move, although I don’t know why she’s slapping at his coverings like that.

“I'm fine really.”

It looks like Master liked that.

“I was kind of worried. I thought I'd never see you again.”

They are sure moving closer. Maybe Master will bite her face again?

“Lou ...”

There he goes…wait a minute! He stopped! I suppose he doesn’t want those other humans to see. Don’t know why. Nothing to be ashamed of.

Requiem For A Hero

The female isn’t riding that handsome black stallion, but that brown one looks pretty good too. Maybe we can get Master and the female off our backs later.

“Going awful slow there, Kid.”

Nothing wrong with that. For once, Master isn’t making me run for miles and miles.

“Just enjoying the view.”

Master’s got that look again. And he kept muttering the word “dance” in the barn earlier when he was getting me ready. I wonder if dancing has anything to do with mating.

“Something on your hat!”

That female definitely wants to mate. Maybe today Master will finally get the hint. He’s certainly chasing her now. And she’s pushing that fine stallion to get away. I don’t mind chasing him either.

What?! Why did the female fall off? It certainly wasn’t the horse’s fault. I hope she doesn’t blame him. Now Master’s going to check on her. Other than making a weird noise, she must be okay. Master seems to like it and is grabbing at her middle section. I think the face biting is coming again. Yup.

Daisy

Oh no, Master. The female doesn’t look too happy to see that shiny thing.

“Not gonna work, is it?”

Whatever that thing is, it’s definitely not working.

“I'm not ready... I'm sorry.”

Not ready…ready…not ready. The female keeps changing her mind.

“I know. It's bad timing.”

Master should get a less complicated female. Or are all human females like that?

“What are we gonna do?”

Don’t ask me. I don’t understand human behavior.

“Go back to the way things were, I guess.”

He wants to go back to not mating with the female? Master is crazy.

“Do you think we can?”

The female is confused too.

“I don't know.”

Humans don’t seem to know much.

“I guess we just went too far too fast, huh?”

Now she’s throwing herself at him and Master is walking away! This makes no sense. I’m going back to my hay and staying out of it.

Good Night, Sweet Charlotte

“Whoa there, easy girl. Hey!”

You wouldn’t like it so much if I were messing with your feet.

“Hey!”

Oh, there’s the female.

“What are you up to?”

Master seems happy to see her.

“Who me?”

Of course he’s talking to you. He only talks to me when you two are fighting.

“Come on, what have you got there?”

I hope it’s a carrot for me!

“Nothin'.”

Why do human males and females play games with each other?

“It looks like somethin' to me.”

Even I know it’s something, Master.

“Here! It's a present.”

Oh goodie. I hope it’s for me.

“For me?”

Master is so selfish. He never thinks of getting me presents anymore.

“No, it's for Katy. Open it. D'you like it?”

Woo hoo! A present for me! Maybe it’s a carrot. Or perhaps a sugar cube or maybe…hey, why is Master opening my present? And what am I going to do with that tiny piece of cloth?

“Well, yeah.”

I don’t think this present is for me.

“Try it on.”

She’s getting that look in her eye again.

“Now?!”

Master is clueless again. Silly Master.

“Sure, it'll look real nice on you. Gotta make sure it fits. Tompkins said I could take it back if it don't.”

My, my, the female is aggressive today. Perhaps they’re back to mating again. Even Master can’t ignore those hints.

“Well, excuse us.”

Uh oh, the others. Master doesn’t like to be interrupted.

“Didn't know you was busy, Kid.”

There he goes again. He always seems to interrupt Master and his female.

“This ain't what it looks like.”

Come on, Master. Nobody’s gonna believe that.

“Don't look like nothin' to me. It look like somethin' to you, Cody?”

It won’t be something if you two keep talking.

“Nope, don't look like nothin' to me.”

I wonder if one of them brought me a carrot.

A Different Perspective
by: Dee

Finally, the barn doors were closed and the board put in place, closing out the night and keeping those inside secure. The voices faded in the distance.

“Are they gone?”

“Is it safe?”

“Oh my head!”

“Your head? What about my back?”

“You both just like to complain!”

“Do not!”

“Did you see what the yellow-haired one did?”

A chorus of whinnied laughter rang through the barn as did a cacophony of more comments and questions.

“Are they gone?”

“Well, if they aren’t don’t you think they’d be in here by now? Really, y’all make such a racket. If you don’t quiet down–”

“Oh Powder Keg, you’re such a ninny,” Soda said, rolling his eyes.

“Excuse me for being the one trying to maintain some semblance of dignity,” Powder Keg sniffed, holding his nose in the air.

“Dignity?” Soda scoffed. “Aren’t you the one that’s supposed to be such a wild animal?”

The others laughed at the idea while Powder Keg turned away, nose still in the air.

“I swear my back’s gonna ache for the next –”

“Your back, your back,” Ned moaned, “what about my head?”

“Give it a rest you two,” Dot snapped. Ed and Ned looked hurt by her reprimand.

“Did you see what the yellow-haired one –”

“His name is Cody,” Katy said.

“Fine,” Jose said, “Cody. Don’t know why we care. Seems none of them will last through all this.”

“I don’t know,” Dot murmured. “With the old man showing them his tricks, I think the boys’ll do okay.”

Lightning giggled and the other horses glanced over at her. She just looked at them and grinned.

“And exactly what were you going to say about Cody?” Soda asked defensively, ignoring the silly look on Lightning’s face.

“Oh good grief,” Jose said, shaking his head, “please tell me you aren’t getting attached.”

Soda’s expression was nonchalant but he didn’t answer and that was enough to cause Jose to smile in victory. Soda snorted.

“The way he knocked that Hickok boy out of the saddle,” Jose said, laughing at the memory.

Forgetting about his annoyance with Jose, Soda joined in. “I know. Maybe good with a gun but he can’t stay–”

“Um, I think you two should stop,” Katy warned.

“That’s probably a good idea,” Dot agreed. She and Katy were looking over at the dark stall in the corner. A grunt came from that direction.

“Why?” Jose challenged. “That boy probably shouldn’t be…” Jose noticed a pair of eyes staring at him from that same stall. “Oh.” He cleared his throat. “Did you see him and the farm boy shooting?”

“He’s not just a farm boy,” Katy quickly pointed out. “He did best that hothead. How about how he shot the cans out of the–”

“I’ll never understand man’s affinity towards violence against his fellow man,” Powder Keg said, hoping to stop the onslaught of praise Katy tended towards when speaking of Kid. “It truly is a mystery. Don’t you think Sundance?”

All he received was a grunt in response. The others seemingly shrugged and went on with their conversations.

“Talk about violence,” Katy said, “did I tell you how–”

“‘Kid got the money to buy me,’” the other horses finished in unison.

“Yeah, about a dozen times now,” Soda said as Katy flipped her mane at them.

“I do think that the boys have a good chance,” Katy said, changing the subject back.

Lightning giggled again, actually snorting this time. Once more, the other horses looked at her but she offered no answer.

“I knew the Kiowa would be the best,” Dot bragged. When the newly hired riders had first arrived, the horses had taken bets on who would be superior. She’d immediately fixed on the Indian, believing he’d show up all the others.

“Excuse me?” Jose neighed and shook his mane. “The hairless one…oh, what’s his name…” He looked at Katy, who seemed to know everything about the group, mainly because she actually listened to what was going on. And she was nosey.

Katy sighed. “Look, I’m going to tell you all one more time. Buck is the Indian, Ike–”

“I know that,” Dot said, indignantly.

Katy glared at her and continued, “Ike is the mute, you’ve got Hickok and Cody, then there’s my human, Kid and the scrawny boy is Lou.”

Lightning burst out laughing but this time added in a singsong voice, “I know a secret.”

“Right,” Jose said. Glancing around at his friends, he made a crazy face, sticking out his tongue, and they laughed. “Anyway, Ike’s the best. Really sits well in the saddle.”

“Yeah, not like Hickok who’ll probably be gone in a few days,” Soda said. “The old man seems to think he’ll be trouble and I’m inclined to…” He stopped talking when the Palomino from the corner walked out so they all could see him.

“I suggest you don’t make such hasty decisions about any of them,” Sundance said, quietly.

“Uh, sure, Sundance,” Soda stammered. “Like Dot said, with the old man helping them, they probably got a better chance than most.” Soda added a toothy grin, hoping that would appease Sundance.

“Besides, yellow-hair didn’t let go of the mochila when he was supposed to toss it to Hickok,” Sundance said, keeping a level tone. “Did he?” He smirked when Soda stuck out his bottom lip and sullenly showed his displeasure with a soft “humph.” Soda didn’t like to lose an argument.

“I still say that they’re going to kill us if they don’t get some more horses,” Ed complained.

“I agree,” Ned said, which was out of the norm for the two brothers. They never agreed on anything. “I swear my head is throbbing.”

“Come on,” Ed groaned, “you’re always talking about your problems. What about my–”

“BACK!” the horses yelled, startling him.

“We’ve heard enough about your back,” Powder Keg said. When he noticed Ned’s expression of superiority towards Ed, he added, “And your head.” Thus wiping the smug look off Ned’s face.

“I still say Buck’s the best,” Dot announced, blocking out the whining of Ed and Ned.

“Nope,” Jose said, “Ike’s the best.”

“I doubt that,” Soda challenged. “I’m pretty sure Cody’ll out run all of them.”

“I don’t care who is the best,” Ed moaned, “as long as I’m not the horse that has to carry them.”

“Oh fine,” Ned pouted, “you’re just going to make me carry them, aren’t you?”

“Will you two shut up,” Katy said, exasperated. “And Kid’s the best so you’re all wrong.”

“I think they all have talents,” Powder Keg said, “and I believe they will bond together, as male humans normally do.”

This finally put Lightning over the edge and she was laughing so hard she started crying. The others, except Sundance, exchanged bemused glances and then stared at their friend. They had to wait a few minutes for Lightning to get ahold of herself but soon she sniffed a few times, sighed deeply, softly chuckled some more and then cleared her throat. “You so have the dynamic of the group all wrong.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Soda asked. He imitated Jose’s earlier crazy look and received a few muffled laughs.

“This group of boys you all keep talking about,” Lightning said, her voice light and melodic, as it was before. This always irritated the others, especially Katy, when Lightning knew something they didn’t. She chuckled when she got the reaction she wanted from Katy.

“You are such a pain,” Katy grumbled. “Would you just come out and say it?”

Lightning sighed dramatically.

“You sound like Soda,” Jose smirked. Soda snorted at the comment.

“I resent that.”

“Just tell us!” Katy hated it when Lightning did this. She huffed out an annoyed breath.

Lightning laughed again. “It’s really just too good to blurt out.”

“Tell us!” Ed whined.

“Yeah, come on,” Ned joined in, “please.” He drew out the last word so much that it had almost four syllables.

They all began arguing and pleading with Lightning.

“Lou’s a girl.”

All heads whipped around to look at Sundance.

Lightning snorted loudly. “Tsk,” she clicked her tongue. “That’s just not fair! I said it was too good to blurt out and, anyway, I was the one telling the story.”

“When you tell something, tell it,” Sundance said, softly. “Dancing around a subject will get it kilt.”

The others looked wide-eyed at Sundance, then at Lightning, whose expression changed from annoyance to shock.

“I don’t mean you,” Sundance said, sighing heavily. Ever since he’d been chosen for the Hickok boy as the rider’s main mount, the other horses acted like Sundance could draw a gun too. He shook his head. “I mean the subject…never mind.” He walked back to his stall.

“So he’s a girl?” Ed asked.

“No, she’s a girl,” Ned corrected.

“That’s what I asked,” Ed said, testily.

“No, you said ‘he’s a girl’ and that doesn’t make sense,” Ned pointed out.

“I believe they knew what I was–”

“Does anyone have anything to stuff in my ears?” Dot asked.

“How do you know?” Katy asked, ignoring the brothers. Though she believed Sundance, since he wasn’t one to exaggerate, she didn’t trust Lightning.

“‘Cause,” Lightning responded, sullenly. Sundance had ruined her whole story. Lightning had planned for it to go on for at least a few more minutes, getting Katy riled and the others begging for the news. She sighed, another dramatic sigh, drawing the attention of Soda and Jose.

“Say it Jose and I’ll drop you where you stand,” Soda threatened.

Suddenly the barn door creaked open, catching the horses by surprise.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” a raspy voice said quietly. “Bedtime ain’t jus’ for the riders. I believe the horses need it just as much.” Teaspoon stuck his head in the building. He let his eyes adjust and, once they had, he walked inside. He strolled around, patting each of the horses on the nose or neck.

“I want to tell y’all how proud I am of what you’re doin’. I know these boys are rough but I see potential.” He stopped by Katy, the only one he didn’t really know. He looked into her eyes and saw the same love, duty, and conviction as he did from the others. He grinned and rubbed her nose.

Teaspoon walked over to the last horse, the one that had the most difficult task – to show a temperamental young man unwavering devotion. He rubbed Sundance on the neck and whispered something in his ear. The other horses were too far away to hear what the stationmaster said. Sundance snorted and nodded his head vigorously. Teaspoon gave the horse a quick pat on the neck and turned away.

As Teaspoon walked back down the aisle to the front of the barn, the horses nickered softly. He absentmindedly touched each horse again in passing. He stood at the door and turned to the animals. “I’m gonna need y’all’s help in gettin’ this group together. It’s gonna take some work.” He watched as each horse nodded its head. “And to help, ya’ need sleep so…lights out.” He chuckled and walked out the door, closing up the barn once more.

Quiet descended inside and each horse got comfortable in its assigned stall. Soon it was peaceful around the station, not a sound to be heard. But not for long.

“My back still hurts.”

“How did you know Lou’s a girl?”

“Your back? My head!”

“Oh would you two please be quiet.”

“It’s really quite obvious.”

“You are such a windbag.”

“Didn’t Teaspoon say go to bed?”

“You really are a ninny.”

A heavy sigh came from the back corner stall. “This is gonna take a lot of work.”

The Older The Wiser
by: Miss Raye

Cody shook his head as he closed the barn door and Ike signed when he caught the other rider’s eyes. Buck quickly translated. “What’s so funny?”

Looking back over his shoulder the blond rider shrugged. “Dunno really… just that I got a feelin’ while I was curryin’ Soda he was just a bit too eager to get in his stall back with the others.”

Buck laughed, “What’s so strange about that? There’s feed back there and-”

Ike nudged his friend and signed a quick message.

Giving Ike a playful cuff on his shoulder Ike staggered away as they continued toward the bunkhouse. “Ike says, ‘maybe she just wanted to talk with her friends.’”

Cody waved off the mute rider’s words. “You know Ike… ‘sides you bein’ way too quiet sometimes I think you might be touched in the head.”

Ike just gave him a secret smile and continued on to the bunkhouse.

*** ***

‘So did I miss anythin’?’ Soda sidled up to the stall wall and nudged Copper.

The horse pranced away and tossed her head. ‘He’s just about gettin’ started… so hush up.’

Soda leaned her chin on the door to her stall and settled in for story.

‘Go on, Jack…’ Powder Keg tossed his head to punctuate his words, ‘tell us the story.’

‘Well… I guess I could…’ From the corner of the barn a silvery colored horse held court with the younger mounts and seemed to bask in the light of their interest. While he had probably been a fine horse at one time he’d clearly seen better days. For a human man he might have incurred the slings and arrows of younger men, but like many of the Native people in the area, horses honored those that had survived and had knowledge to pass on to the young. This horse, well, he was ‘highly’ respected by the Express horses. “I know a few of ya have heard this one ‘afore, but for the new foals we just traded for, this story might be instructional.’ The older horse drew out the last words and flared his lips in a toothy grin as the Express horses clamored for the story, ‘And… since y’all asked so nice.’ Clearing his throat, the stationmaster’s old horse gathered his energy and his thoughts to begin his story. ‘Teaspoon, I say, Teaspoon… he likes to call me Jack… but my real name is San Jacinto-’

‘That’s a funny name,’ Rum Cake sniffed at the air.

Sundance scoffed at his words. ‘Big talk for a walkin’ dessert.’

‘Quiet down, all of you…’ Lightning fairly danced with anticipation.

‘Like I was sayin’… he called me San Jacinto… cuz that’s where we caught up with that butcher Santa Ana… and Teaspoon… well he told me all about it… and now boys… and *ahem* ladies,’ the Appaloosa gave a big wink at the mares, ‘I’ma gonna tell y’all about it…”

Campfire Ruminations
by: Lori

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

“Yeah, well you’re not me.”

“A fact I remain grateful for every day. I see your life. No, thank you. Although, my life isn’t always easy.”

With a scoff he replied, “How’s that? You stand around most of the day eating.”

“Except when I’m running flat out carrying you on my back.”

Jimmy paused for a moment to consider and then admitted, “Alright. I know I wouldn’t wanna carry you around on my back.”

“It wouldn’t be so bad if you cut back on all those extra helpings Miss Shannon offers you. At this rate you’re going to need a stepladder to climb into the saddle.”

Narrowing his eyes at the impertinent comment, Jimmy reached out, determined to continue on with his original plan. He stopped when the horse across from him made a sound that suspiciously seemed like fool.

“What?” he snapped in exasperation.

“You don’t want to do that,” came the repeated reply.

“And I say I do,” he answered.

“Alright,” the other partner in the conversation responded, with what looked like a shrug of his shoulders. “But you’re going to regret it.”

“No, I won’t.”

“There’s no need to be petulant.”

“I ain’t pet…pech-u-lant,” Jimmy insisted. “I just don’t need you of all…creatures tellin’ me what to do.”

“I’m not trying to tell you what to do.”

“Sure sounds that way.”

“And that, Jimmy, is petulance. You’re acting like a child.”

“I think I’m entitled since my horse is lecturin’ me.”

Sundance waved the comment away with a swish of her tail. “I’m merely trying to help you. I’m concerned about you. You know that if you reach for that extra helping of Mr. Cody’s famous chili that you’re going to regret it.”

“I’m hungry,” he said with a moan.

“No,” his horse wagged her head slightly. “That’s indigestion. From the chili.”

Jimmy moaned again, this time realizing that the cramp in his stomach wasn’t from being too empty.

“I know,” Sundance said sympathetically. “It’s going to haunt you all night, and probably a fair amount of tomorrow. I’ll try to pick the least bumpy trail and make sure my footing is sure so you don’t get jostled too much.”

“Thank you,” he replied. “Although you could have tried to stop me sooner from eating the chili.”

“I know,” his horse answered regretfully. “But unfortunately, I can only talk in your dreams.”

“Next time, try harder to stop me,” Jimmy said pitifully.

“Shall I nip at you with my teeth or step on you with my hoof?” she asked sarcastically.

“Hey,” he scowled at her. “There’s no need to take that tone with me.”

~*~*~*~

Buck looked up as Jimmy rolled over in his blanket and mumbled once again. The dark-haired rider had been exhausted and fallen asleep almost immediately after dinner. The Indian hadn’t thought it was the smartest move; not after Cody had fixed dinner for them and not after the amount Jimmy had eaten. It appeared now that it was affecting his friend.

A noise drifted across the camp from Cody’s bedroll and Buck sighed when he realized it wasn’t a snore. They never should have let the blond rider cook. Nothing good ever came from it.

While his insides ached from hunger, Buck was glad that he’d passed on Cody’s chili. At least he wasn’t fluttering the blankets like Cody and at least he wasn’t moaning in his sleep and mumbling incoherently like Jimmy. At the rate the somber rider was going tonight, they’d all be lucky if they weren’t awakened by the chili revisiting the other man. For as much as he hated having to be the one to cook over an open flame, Buck vowed that the next time they were all out on a run together, there was no way he was letting Cody cook again.

It simply just wasn’t worth it.

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