I promised a couple weeks back that I'd post a fic by request for folks who sponsored me on my upcoming MS Walk.
HBB stepped up, once again this year, and requested something about Heyes' smile. This is what she gets. Well, this and my deep gratitude for her support in my various endeavors.
The Kid was used to this.
Heyes was chatting and flirting with Miss Darla, while Kid concentrated on putting away the supper that the lady had so graciously prepared for them out of gratitude for their help mending the fences on her property. As a young widow, Miss Darla found it difficult to keep up with some of the repairs to the homestead, after the recent tornadoes had swept through the county.
Heyes and Kid hadn’t minded helping the lady out, in exchange for a warm place to stay out in her bunkhouse. Her son, Peter had taken a shine to Heyes during the past couple weeks they’d spent on the property repairing the roof, fences and outbuildings. Most days, following him from sun up until his momma sent him to bed.
Kid admired Heyes’ ability to charm practically every individual they came in contact with. He admitted that his partner was better at winning folks over than he could ever be himself. Still, in all, Heyes assured Kid that his skills were just as important to their successful partnership.
And then he’d smile. And any doubts The Kid might have had about his own worth vanished.
Kid decided that Heyes’ smile could open as many doors as their lock picking skills ever could. More even.
He’d seen women and men alike literally stopped in their tracks when his partner turned his smile on them. Arguments were forgotten. Suspicions completely averted.
Kid, himself, was not immune to the power of that particular smile. He’d often watch surreptitiously, even as Heyes flirted with Saloon girls, just to be able to admire the man without appearing too obvious about it. Sometimes Heyes would catch him doing this and give him a quick conspiratorial wink, assuming that Kid was admiring whatever busty beauty currently held his attention.
Never knowing that it was the dark haired man himself that held Kid in thrall.
But the best smiles were the ones Kid was certain Heyes reserved just for him. Sometimes when they were alone, sharing a comfortable silence, after finishing a successful job. Or while telling Kid a tall tale, that they both knew was exaggerated to make it more interesting. They were the kind of smiles that changed Heyes entire face. Beginning with the upturned corners of his mouth and continuing up to where his eyes danced brightly.
Sometimes, even when they were in a whole crowd of people, and the Kid started feeling like all he wanted to do was get the hell outta there, he’d look up and Heyes would catch his eye and give him that smile. And Kid would calm right down.
He didn’t mind all the smiles that his partner shared with other people, because he recognized that special smile that was shared only between the two of them.
Except…Now, for the first time, it seems Heyes had seen fit to bestow that particular expression on someone else.
Heyes continued to help Miss Darla wash and dry the dishes in the kitchen, and as they spoke quietly, Kid heard Miss Darla say something - though he couldn’t quite hear what it was - and after a moment of silent moment of response, Kid saw the smile. The one he’d always thought was his own.
Well of course that was never right. He was wrong ever to think he had any sort of claim on his partner.
Kid may not know much, but he knew he needed to get out of there, right now. Before he said or did something really foolish.
Mumbling an awkward thanks for the meal, Kid dropped his napkin on the table and walked as quickly as he could crossing the room to head out the front door and to the bunkhouse. He didn’t bother looking behind for fear of embarrassment.
Kid was a little surprised to hear the door of the bunkhouse creak open, just a few minutes after he had settled into his bunk, with his back to the door. He had thought his partner might not return until much later – if at all – that night. Of course there was Peter to think about. Miss Darla was proper and wouldn’t set such a bad example for the boy. Kid wondered if his partner would ask him to take the boy into town, or out hunting for a day or so to give him a chance to be alone with Miss Darla, so he could court her proper. Maybe-
Heyes’ gentle speaking of his name snapped Kid’s thoughts back to where he was. Sitting up as he turned toward to voice, Kid was a little surprised to find Heyes sitting near his legs, facing him, on his bunk. Heyes hadn’t bothered with the lantern, but the moonlight streaming through small windows allowed for them to see each other well enough.
Kid didn’t offer a verbal response.
“You feelin okay, Kid? Had us both worried the way you lit outta there like that. Miss Darla was a little concerned her cooking might not have agreed with you.”
Just when he thought he couldn’t possibly feel worse. Now he had to add guilt on account of worrying their hostess.
“Nah. M’fine. Just tired I guess. Sorry. I’ll apologize to her in the morning,” Kid said.
Concern crossed Heyes’ features and he knit his eyebrows as he raised his hand to place it gently on Kid’s forehead, checking for signs of fever.
Kid rolled his eyes and Heyes removed his hand, still not looking satisfied.
“See, Doc. Told ya. I’m Fine,” Kid said mulishly, “Might as well go on back and tell the lady as much.”
Heyes crossed his arms in front of his chest at this and seemed to study Kid thoughtfully.
“Wanna tell me what’s botherin you, then,” Heyes asked.
Kid let his head drop forward as though it weighed a ton.
“Not really,” he admitted.
“Too bad. Nether of us is gonna get any sleep until you get this off your chest,” Heyes responded.
“S’nothin’, really. I’ll be fine,” Kid said. Though his tone did not match the words.
“Nope. Not letting you off that easy. Talk to me, Kid,” Heyes gently encouraged moving up closer.
Kid decided to change the subject.
“So, you and Miss Darla seemed to be getting on really well. The way you seemed to be hangin on her every word.”
And that had come out sounding more harsh than Kid had intended. So, perhaps he hadn’t succeeded in changing the subject after all.
Heyes looked surprised and confused by Kid’s words.
“Didn’t mean to leave you out of the conversation, Kid. You just didn’t seem to feel much like talkin, is all.”
And, of course, Heyes hadn’t meant to exclude him. Kid felt bad for implying as much.
“I know. Forget I said anything. Told you. Tired.”
“Not gonna forget it Kid. Something’s botherin you. If it wasn’t Miss Darla and me talking, then what?”
“It wasn’t the talkin that bothered me Heyes. You were right, I didn’t feel much like it anyway,”
“Then what. What was it bothered you so much, Kid?”
And maybe he was just as tired as he claimed, because suddenly Kid felt the need to unburden his heart.
“You smiled at her. You smiled the way you usually smile at me. And I guess I was jealous. Told you it was nothing. Stupid. Can we just forget it?”
Kid finally risked raising his eyes and, looking at his partner, he saw the beginnings of a smile. That same one, from earlier in the evening that had been the source of all his misery. It wasn’t fair. Kid started to look away, and Heyes moved forward and caught him around the shoulders, forcing him to meet his eyes.
“Uh-uh. Not going to forget it,” Heyes said earnestly, “Wanna know what we were talking about that made me smile like that?”
And Kid was pretty sure he didn’t, but he owed his partner that much. He resigned himself to hearing Heyes wax all poetic about Miss Darla. Even if it meant dying a little inside.
Kid bravely nodded is head.
“Miss Darla asked me if I’d told you how I felt about you. Said it was pretty obvious to her that I was in love with you,” Heyes chuckled, “All these years bein able to fool the best poker players in the country, and a widow from Butte can see through me like I was a piece of dime store glass.”
It took Kid a minute to reconcile what he’d just heard. Heyes was watching him carefully as he continued.
“Probably the part you’re talking about…well, when I smiled…was probably when she added that she could also tell that you felt that way about me. Her exact words were, ‘It’s plain he thinks you hung the moon, Mister Smith’. So what do you think about that Kid? She right?”
They sat for a good minute or so with Heyes' question hanging in the air, as if sensing they were on the brink of something important; Heyes’ expectant smile lighting his entire countenance. Hell, Kid could swear the room was even brighter for it.
“Yeah. Yeah, she’s right,” Kid confirmed, as he leaned forward into Heyes’ embrace.
And he could feel Heyes smiling against his own mouth as they shared their first kiss.