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Lou ran out of the doctor's office. She couldn't believe Ike was dead. He'd always been so full of life and now he was gone. She saddled Lightning without even realizing what she was doing, and rode off, tears pouring down her face. She had lost a friend, no a brother today. She just kept riding, not knowing or caring where she was going.

Her heart was breaking, and she couldn't make the pain go away. Ike looked so still and unlike himself laying there. She half expected him to sit up and tell them it was all a mistake. Well, she wanted him to do it anyway. She wanted him to be alive and making them laugh, right now.

Lou was crying so hard that when Lightning came to the gully and stopped suddenly, she almost fell off her horse. She dismounted and sat hard on the ground, curling up into a ball as her sobs grew stronger. She just wanted to shut herself off and stop the pain. Lying down, Lou continued to cry her heart out.

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Kid walked out of the doctor's office with Cody, Jimmy, and Noah. He looked around for Lou, but she was nowhere in sight. "Did any of you see where Lou went?" He asked the boys.

"No, we were inside with you." Jimmy said, also looking for their friend.

They started walking towards the express station when they saw Tompkins walking their way. "I was just on my way to see Teaspoon. Lou practically ran me over a while ago. Didn't even stop to see if I was okay."

"Where was this Mr. Tompkins?" Kid asked.

"Out near the Wilson place. Looked like Lou was in a hurry, too." He replied.

"Go find Lou, Kid. We'll tell Teaspoon what's going on." Noah told him.

He didn't have to be told twice. Kid ran off towards the stables. They watched him run, and then turned back to Tompkins. As the group walked to the marshal's office, they tried to figure how to explain Lou's actions. No one knew what to say.

"Lou's real upset Mr. Tompkins. You see, Ike was shot earlier, and he just passed on. Lou's not taking it well." Cody explained.

"Well, we're all not taking it well. Lou's just taking it harder than the rest of us, except for Buck." Noah explained.

They reached Teaspoon's office as the man walked out to see what was going on. "Boys, Tompkins." He greeted.

"Teaspoon, I'm sorry to hear about your rider. I was just telling the boys here that Lou just about run me over. Anyway, I am sorry." Tompkins told him.

Teaspoon looked concerned at the boys. "It's okay Teaspoon, Kid rode out after Lou." Jimmy let him know.

"Well, I have to go check on my store. I am sorry about Ike, Teaspoon." He said and walked off.

"Boys?" Teaspoon asked.

"Teaspoon, if anyone can find Lou, then Kid can. He rode out after Tompkins told us where he saw her." Noah said.

"Alright, you boys get back to the station. Has anyone seen Buck?" He asked.

"No, not since he left the doc's office." Cody replied.

"Teaspoon, how are we going to tell Rachel about Ike?" Noah asked.

"We have until tomorrow to figure it out. Right now, let's figure out where Buck is, and I need someone to take Emily home." Teaspoon said.

"I'll take her home Teaspoon." Noah offered when neither of his friends did.

"Good, you two see if Buck went back to the bunkhouse." He said then went back into his office to wait for Doc Barnes to check on his prisoner.

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Kid followed Lou's trail out pass the Wilson place and towards the gully. He hoped she stopped soon. He wasn't sure he could still track her in the dark, and he hadn't brought any food with him for a longer search. This had him really worried about her.

Kid came up to the gully and saw Lightning in the distance standing by some shrubs. He couldn't see anyone in the saddle, and prayed that she had not fallen, and been hurt. Normally he wouldn't worry about her falling, but she was upset, and her emotions could make her reckless.

He rode up to where Lightning was grazing and dismounted. He tied both horses to the bushes and looked around for Lou. She had to be somewhere around there, but where? Lightning wouldn't stray too far from her owner. He walked towards the gully and saw Lou curled up on the ground. He prayed that she wasn't hurt.

"Lou!" He called and ran over to her. She looked so tiny laying there. It was then he heard her sobs.

She heard her name called, but couldn't move. She felt lost and all alone. She tried to open her eyes, but they were all puffy from crying. She couldn't stop crying.

"Lou, I'm here." Kid said as he took her into his arms.

She felt familiar arms come around her and they felt wonderful and safe. "Kid?"

"I'm here Lou, I've got you." He comforted her in his arms.

She cried harder as he held her tighter. "Kid, I can't breathe. I ca..can't stop c...crying. It hurts so much."

"Sh...sh...shh. I've got you honey, we'll get through this together Lou." He tried to comfort her.

She clung to him like he was her lifeline. Maybe he was, and would always be. "Don't let go Kid. I need you to hold me until the hurt goes away. Will it ever go away?"

"I'll hold you as long as you want me to. Forever if you'll let me. I just don't know how to make the hurt go away right now. I know it will hurt less in time though." He told her as he sat down on the ground and pulled her onto his lap.

They sat there for a long time as her sobs began to soften. Finally he moved her from his lap and got up. He pulled her to her feet and drew her towards the horses. Pulling out the bedroll, he placed it on the ground in the shade as she silently watched him.

Kid took her hand and sat on the bedroll, making her sit next to him. He pulled her into his arms again, laying her head on his chest. They spent most of the first hour in silence, unsure what to say to comfort one another. His shirt had become soaked from her tears.

Finally, they started talking about Ike, remembering their time with him fondly. Lou told him about the ring she'd bought before they had become a couple. And how she had given it to Ike to propose to Annie with.

Kid asked her what happened to the ring after Annie left Sweetwater. He wondered if Ike had given it back to Lou. "Do you still have the ring?"

"No, when I gave it to Ike, I didn't think I'd ever see you again and there wasn't a future for us." She told him about how Ike had made her feel better with a hug. She then smiled for the first time since he'd found her there.

"So, he didn't give it back to you?" He asked.

"No, I don't even know if he kept it or gave it to Annie." She told him.

They continued sharing stories about Ike and as the sun was going down, they stood together to watch it. Kid picked up the bedroll and packed it back on Katy. After one last embrace, they got onto the horses. Kid and Lou rode side by side back to Rock Creek to be with the rest of their family.

The coming days would be hard on all of them. Ike needed to be laid to rest, and Buck would need all of them to help him get through this loss. Rachel and Jesse needed to be told when they got back from St. Jo. Kid and Lou would do whatever they could do to help to offer each of them comfort.

The End

Author's Note: Thanks to Wendy for beta reading this for me.

Email Trisha Steere

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