Disclaimer: the author does not claim ownership to the characters or plot development mentioned from "Deadwood". This property expressly belongs to its creators and HBO.

Historical note: Set after the events of Episode 9: "No Other Sons or Daughters".

Author's Notes: I dig this show. The actors are grand. I felt compelled to write this one. e.c. 18 May 04

By Evan Como

Speaking with The Widow Garret had become a style of prospecting, Seth Bullock decided. He mined her opinion and she his as they carried on their indirect discussions. Always civil were they and more than a bit too cultured for this mucky locale. Her chipped words were too few and too precious, causing him to recollect them again and again, sifting through what she'd said and the way she used her small-mouthed inflection to utter what he wanted to believe she was actually saying.

Damn his honor. Damn his brother for dying.

Propriety demanded that he not become too altogether familiar with... Alma. She was elegant and pretty, the epitome of what Deadwood was not. She possessed a wealthy complexion and a pedigree in eyes so clear and blue that he oft times wondered why her late husband had sought fortune in so desolate a place as the West when, with Alma by his side, he already possessed the mother lode.

But, as Bullock had come to know by oral history and sight-seen experience, men were always being maimed and killed by desires they ought not be desiring. Whores. Drink. Supposed fortune. All of those special words, giving a man reason to act on stupid impulse.

Sol's voice carried above his brisk sweeping, "You're a might more reticent tonight than usual, Seth." He drew the broom back and forth a few more times before stabbing the accumulated dust pile in its center. With one palm over the other teetering on the handle's tip, he dropped his chin and studied his business partner's demeanor.

"That big one still hurt any?" he asked, tipping his head.

"Sometimes," Bullock replied.

Without much thought attached to his reaction, Seth traced the mostly- healed gash that snaked diagonally down his forehead. He rarely looked at his reflection; inwardly he cursed a vanity that wouldn't allow him to grow his front hair long enough for concealment. He never considered the scar a decorative memento. The souvenir of an inopportune encounter that left him no choice but to kill a man – even an Indian – wasn't something to be worn with pride.

Withdrawing his hand slowly, Bullock swiped his index finger across his eye. "But it doesn't hurt tonight," he clarified.

The two men locked eyes. Nodding, Sol's lips crooked up in his slight way of smiling. He held Bullock's gaze for a moment more before returning to his chore. "We'll need more pans, maybe some axe heads before month's end. Send an order for 'em and maybe have Charlie Utter ship 'em."

Bullock pinched his hat between two bent fingers and placed it on his head. "Morning will be soon enough to make arrangements."

His purposeful stride resounded on the raised wooden floor of the General Supply. He stopped at the doorway and waited for Sol's confirmation without turning -- he didn't want to entertain his friend's understanding.

"Sounds good." The broom bristled at a chair leg.

Or approval.

"And let her know the child's shoes are due in tomorrow or the day after," drifted out to the street in Bullock's wake.

Crescent-shaped divots were left where heavy heels dug into the moist dirt street. A gathered crease moseyed from between his brows as he neared the Grand Central Hotel. The distance between doorsill, across threshold and up staircase was a short one for a man of intensity. The two-story climb, however, did serve to brake his pace.

As he softly rapped at her door, he considered how many times he'd done so in the past month and if he'd begun wearing on the door's ragged exterior.

Wearing on her patience?

The door unsealed, uncertainly before opening fully. "Mr. Bullock," the Widow enunciated. A gemmed hand smoothed the waist of her black silk frock before inviting him forward. "This is an..."

Her frown was imperceptible. "Unexpected."

"I hope I'm not..." Seth inhaled as invisibly.

She allowed him her dainty, very proper smile. "Not at all. Please."

He lifted the hat from his head and her eyes, as always, wandered the length of the uncovered scar before meeting his regard.

"Mrs. Garret," he stated, securing the door. "Sol's given me word on the child's shoes..."