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A Dance and a Smile

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A Dance and A Smile by Katiekat

Fandom: The Young Riders

Summary: a little Jimmy & Lou romance

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author.  The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise.  No copyright infringement is intended.  The short version is - not mine, never was, no offence meant.

 

 1.

 

Noah looked up from the corral fence he and Cody were mending.

"Rider coming in, pretty fast too." He said, shading his eyes from the afternoon sun.

"What? Nobody's supposed to be comin in 'til tomorrow." Cody said wiping his face with the back of his hand.

"Looks like Jimmy," Noah said eyeing the golden palomino racing towards them. "must be something pretty important to have him moving like that." The two young men abandoned their task and moved towards the bunkhouse porch, and their guns, just in case trouble was following Jimmy, the way it often seemed to.

Jimmy drew his mount to a halt outside the bunkhouse and dismounted with a natural grace.

"You're back early." Noah said, stating the obvious.

I got an early start." Jimmy replied offhandedly, as he led his horse towards the barn.

"Now why do you think he got back so early?" Cody asked Noah, pretending Jimmy wasn't there. Noah responded in kind.

"Well I don't know, but maybe its got something to do with the dance that's on tonight." he said, grinning at Jimmy.

"Oh, that's right, the dance is tonight, and here I thought he was back because he missed us." Cody said with a matching grin.

"Believe me, if I was aiming I wouldn't miss." Jimmy said trying to change the subject.

"She's not going." Cody said, ignoring both the subject change and the veiled threat.

"Who?" Noah asked, feigning innocence. This was a fun game.

"Louise, you know that's why he got back here so fast."

"I don't know what you're talking about." Jimmy finished seeing to his horse and now tried to escape the barn before anyone else turned up to join in Cody's latest game of 'Tease Jimmy'. It had started a few months ago when Kid had made it clear that Samantha was the love of his life, and Jimmy and Lou had started spending time together. Jimmy didn't want to admit to them, especially Cody, that it was because of the dance and Louise, that he had returned early.

"Yeah, she said she doesn't feel like going, so we'll just have to talk her into it. Or else poor Jimmy here would have come back early for nothing."

"Well Billy, if there's one thing you're good at, it talk." Jimmy said joining in the spirit of the game.

"And just what is that supposed to mean." Cody demanded indignantly.

"I think he's saying you have the fastest mouth in the west." Noah supplied, switching sides lest Jimmy turn on him too. The game was more fun if you were on the winning team. And Cody never looked like he was about to shoot you when you teased him.

 

A temporary cease fire was called when they reached the bunkhouse and Cody spied his new shirt, freshly washed and ironed, by Rachel, laying on his bunk. He held it up against himself.

"Now tell me, have you ever seen a shirt as fine as this one?"

Noah and Jimmy grinned at Cody's ongoing romance with his clothing. The shirt in question was pure white, perfectly smooth and starched, almost to the point of being able to stand up on it's own, just the way he wanted it.

"Cody, that shirt is so nice, it could go to the dance on it's own and impress more girls than the three of you put together." Lou said from her bunk, where she had sat, unnoticed until now, mending a pair of trousers.

"And what would you know, Miss I'm-not-going." Noah asked

"Yeah, and Jimmy got back early specially too." Cody chimed in, the cease fire forgotten.

"Don't you have a fence to fix?" Jimmy growled, he could feel the heat rising on his face. She was the only person in the world that could make him blush, and realising that only made him feel worse. Noah and Cody, realising that they would be lucky to get away with any more, beat a hasty retreat back out to the corral fence.

"Did you?" Louise asked him.

"Did I what?" he questioned back, wishing the ground would swallow him up.

"Did you come back early especially for the dance?"

"No. Maybe." He conceded "So you're really not going?" she nodded. "Is it because of Kid and Samantha?"

"No. Maybe, yeah, it is because of them." she admitted finally.

"It's just that she's so perfect, she walks around in her perfect clothes, with her perfect hair. She's everything he wants, everything Kid and me fought about, and she's so damn pretty."

"She can't be everything he wants, she's not you and I think you're prettier than she is."

Jimmy turned away, why did he say that out loud. His face felt like it was on fire, but perhaps that was a good thing, he might just burst into flames and then he wouldn't have to face her. He knew she still had feelings for Kid and no matter how close they became, if Kid ever came to his senses and begged for forgiveness, he would always be her first choice. But still Jimmy couldn't help loving her, but he'd only just been able to admit it to himself, he wasn't ready for an audience yet. Especially if that audience wanted only to be his friend.

"Thank you Jimmy." she said softly, sounding genuinely surprised. He made no move to turn around, instead he went to the door, carefully keeping his back to her.

"I gotta go, I'll see you later, Lou."

 

Lou sat on her bunk, her mending forgotten on her lap. Jimmy sure was acting strangely, there were times recently when she thought she'd caught him watching her, and more than a few times when she had caught herself looking at him. At first she had put it down to trying to make Kid jealous, but as time had gone by, she had started to think about Jimmy in a way she had never let herself before, well almost never. There had been times when she had thought of Jimmy as a brother and times when she'd had to force herself to think of him that way. Louise had never fully examined her feelings for Jimmy, but she had a hunch that if there was another man she could love, it might just be James Butler Hickok. The only problem would be convincing him. The other problem was Kid and Samantha. Lou had thought that she was beginning to get over Kid, but the thought of seeing him dancing with Samantha brought back the pain she had felt when she first found out about them. Louise realised that everyone knew why she didn't want to go to the dance, and so far no one had questioned her about it. But the thing was, she did want to go, she had so few opportunities to dress up like a woman that it seemed a shame to squander one, if only Kid and Samantha weren't going to be there. But that was unfair, she thought to herself, they have a right to go out in public and enjoy themselves together. It didn't mean she had to watch them do it though.

 

Jimmy wandered over to Rachel's house, where he could see her hanging out clean laundry, she looked up as he approached.

"Hey Jimmy, you're back early." His scowl told her that had been the wrong thing to say.

"Why does everyone keep saying that?" he asked kicking the ground with the toe of his boot.

"If you stop kicking dust on my clean sheets, I'll tell you." Rachel said feigning anger.

"Sorry Rachel."

"This wouldn't have any thing to do with Louise, would it?" she asked carefully.

"So?" Jimmy said defensively. "What if it does?"

"So, nothing. Cody's been giving you a hard time again hasn't he." It was a statement more than a question. "You know he doesn't mean it, don't you? He's just trying to get you mad and with your temper it always works." She smiled at him to make sure he didn't take her words to hard. "You have to start ignoring him, if you and Louise want to spend time together it's none of his business, or anyone else's."

"Yeah, its just that I'm not sure if she wants to spend time with me, or if I'm only filling in until someone better comes along."

"Jimmy how can you say that?" Rachel asked him, sounding truly shocked, "Louise cares for you a great deal. And I'd say she would have to go a very long way to find a man who cares about her even half as much as you do. You need to talk to her." She said firmly when he tried to protest. "You should tell her how you feel, you might just be surprised. Now I have to go get supper ready so we can eat early, so that everyone has time to get cleaned up before the dance." she picked up the empty washing basket and went back into the house.

 

Talk to her, Jimmy said to himself, TELL her? He couldn't do that, what if she said she only wanted to be his friend, what if she laughed, of worst of all, what if she looked at him with pity and said that she did never and would never feel 'that way' about him. But Rachel did say he might be surprised. Did she know something he didn't? Lou and Rachel were friends, Lou may have said something to her. If he could just be alone with her, with a guarantee of no interruptions, he could maybe work up the nerve to say something. However, the only way to do that was to avoid the dance as well, and Cody would be unbearable if he said he was staying behind as well. However easy ignoring Cody was to say, it was about a hundred times harder to actually do. Jimmy suddenly realised he had been staring at the drying sheets, lost in thought, for at least ten minutes. He turned and walked away, hoping he looked like he was going somewhere.

 

Buck and Ike returned to the bunkhouse just as Rachel was serving supper, she looked up at them.

"Where's Kid?" she asked, although she already knew the answer

"He's eating with Samantha, but he said that he'd be back to get changed." Buck said casting a quick look at Lou, who kept her eyes glued to her plate.

"So, how did the decorating go?" Rachel asked, to change the subject. The three boys had spent the day taking orders from the Reverend's wife and her minions, for the decorating of the church hall.

"Those ladies sure know how to make you work, everything has to be perfect. We carried the refreshment table back and forth I don't know how many times," Ike held up six fingers. "they couldn't make up their minds."

"So long as there's food on it, I don't care if they made you put it on the roof." Cody said, reaching for a second helping of meat.

"You help them out next time!" Ike signed. Teaspoon leaned back in his chair,

"You know Rachel, maybe we should get those ladies to come over the next time the bunkhouse gets cleaned." he suggested, laughing at the horrified looks from Buck and Ike.

"Well I'm just sorry I won't get to see all you're hard work," Rachel said sadly, Lou could guess what was about to happen, but Rachel shushed her when she tried to protest. "but I have decided to stay home tonight. Well, I can't leave you here all alone Louise."

"Well, seeing as Rachel's the only woman in town who will put up with me stomping all over her feet on the dance floor, I don't believe I'll bother either." Teaspoon said gruffly, winking at Rachel. Jimmy hated to give Cody more ammunition but,

"I'm not going either."

"Since the two best looking women in town won't be there," Noah said teasingly, "there's not much point in us going, now is there?" Buck and Ike agreed first, then finally Cody, thinking of his new shirt, nodded in agreement.

"C'mon Lou," he said in a wheedling voice, "you don't want to be the one responsible for all of us staying here tonight, and missing out on all the fun, do you." Lou pushed here plate away and lay her head on the table.

"That's blackmail." she said wearily, even though she knew she wouldn't need very much convincing.

"And what about all the girls we'll be disappointing, if we don't go who will dance with them? Are you going to ruin the dance for the whole town?" Cody said seriously. Louise looked at him as though he had lost his mind.

"Well, how can I argue with that, it the happiness of everyone in town is at stake, then I suppose I have to go." She said trying to suppress a smile at Cody's amateur dramatics.

The supper dishes were cleared away and washed, a job that usually caused much grumbling and arguing about whose turn it was, with surprising speed, as everyone joined in, so that the preparations for the night could begin.

 

Louise and Rachel returned to Rachel's house, Teaspoon went to take care of some business at his office in town, which left the bunkhouse to the boys. Within half an hour they were all, with the exception of Cody, washed, shaved, dressed and combed. And raring to go.

"Come on Cody, we'll leave you behind." Noah threatened.

"You would too," Cody replied, adjusting his tie for the tenth time, "cause the only way any of you will get a girl to dance with you is if I'm not there." he said flicking and invisible speck of dust off his sleeve. Teaspoon arrived a moment later, saving Cody from an untimely death.

"Come on boys, let's go," he said leading them out onto the porch, just as Kid ran up. "Evening Kid. Running late?" He couldn't help but notice that Kid's blush was the same one he used to get whenever he and Lou had arrived back late from somewhere. "We'll walk boys and leave the wagon for the ladies."

"We're not waiting for them, Teaspoon?" Jimmy asked, looking back at Rachel's house.

"I was just there and they aren't ready yet, Rachel said to go on with out them.

 

Rachel stood in front of the mirror, caught a last lock of hair up with a hairpin and turned back to face Louise. "What do you think?"

Louise leaned against the window frame staring out at the bunkhouse, Rachel crossed the floor and joined her at the window in time to see Kid emerge in his best Sunday suit.

"I don't think this is a good idea Rachel."

"Honey, you can't just shut yourself away because of this. If it wasn't meant to be, it wasn't meant to be, and I know it sounds impossible, but you will get over him." Rachel said gently.

"I thought I was starting to, but now I'm not so sure."

"Well I know you can. You look beautiful and there won't be a man alive who won't want to dance with you, you'll be to busy to even notice the two of them."

"Thank you Rachel, you always seem to know what to say." She turned away from the window. "Oh Rachel you look lovely." she cried admiring her friend, her blond curls were piled on top of her head with a few escaping to frame her face. The light blue gown matched her eyes and the simple design was made fashionable by the intricate lace at the neckline and cuffs.

"Oh Louise," she laughed, blushing with pleasure, "you always know what to say."

She led her over to the mirror, where she began to fuss with the shoulder seams of Lou's dress, making sure they were sitting straight. The pale pink fabric of the dress accentuated her colouring perfectly and the fitted waist and flaring skirt showed off her figure. Her dark hair was pinned back softly from the sides of her face and her eyes shone with happiness and she looked at the reflection of the two of them.

"We're both going to have a wonderful time tonight." She said decidedly, she turned to pickup her shawl and handed Rachel her own. "Shall we go?"

 

An hour later Louise collapsed into one of the chairs lining the walls of the church, she could see Rachel across the room laughing at some story Teaspoon was telling.

"Would you mind if I sat this one out?" she asked a little breathlessly, Rachel had been right, she had danced every dance so far, and this was the first chance she had had to sit down.

"Of course not," Jimmy said, "would you like a glass of punch or something?"

"Actually," she said rising to her feet, "I think I'd like to go outside, where it's cooler, would you come with me?"

"Certainly Ma'am." He replied offering her his arm. As they made their way through the crowded church, Lou couldn't help but think that there weren't as many people there on Sundays as there were tonight. They finally reached the doors and stepped out into the cool night air, they walked away from the light and noise of the party, into the darkness. The soft breeze filled the air with the scent of wildflowers, and Jimmy realised it was her perfume. He turned to look at her and thought, not for the first time, what a fool Kid was. Louise looked up and caught him staring.

"What?" She asked looking away, relieved that the darkness would hide her blush.

"Nothing, it's just nice to see you smiling again, you haven't been doing to much of it lately." He looked up at the sky wondering why his mouth ran away with him sometimes and then others he couldn't say a word to save himself. "Sure are a lot of stars out tonight." Louise gazed up at the black satin sky decorated by millions of pin points of light, when she looked back at Jimmy she found him staring again.

"What!?" She demanded. Jimmy just shook his head and smiled. Lou sighed gustily, "Jimmy if you don't tell what you're looking at..." She was cut off by a kiss. His lips brushed hers for a moment, once, twice.

"I have a present for you." He said pulling away, he held out a small box, "I saw it and I just thought it might cheer you up." She took the box and opened it carefully, there was just enough light to see that inside it lay a beautiful silver locket.

"Oh Jimmy, it's beautiful, thank you." Louise whispered. Jimmy took it out of the box and fastened it around her neck.

"Now it's beautiful." He said simply. They both blushed at this, and both were thankful for the concealing darkness. Jimmy leaned down his lips met hers again, his arms went around her, drawing her closer. Louise wrapped her arms around his neck as he lifted her off the ground. After a while he lowered her back to the ground.

"Maybe we should go back inside." He suggested, although he didn't let her go.

"I don't know," Louise said smiling up at him, her resting on his shoulders, "I quite like it out here, why don't we stay right where we are."

 

The End