Epilogue 3.Budd aka Sidewinder

Tires screeched to a sudden halt in front of the slightly familiar hacienda and out stepped the familiar form of Budd, dressed from hat to boot with jeans and a button shirt in between. Steps traveled across the pavement to the door and turned the knob; unlocked, and stepped in clearly not waiting for an invite. Why was he here on this bright sunny afternoon in the vicinity of Mexico? Well he had heard from a one eyed Viking bitch that his dear brother had had a baby. The mere fact that Bill had not called him personally and told him the news made his blood boil and it took a lot to get the cowboy really upset. It wasn't the sentimental fact that Bill hadn't called his own sibling to tell him the news but the horrible fact that Bill had had a fucking baby!

And what was this about Bill having a baby? Well, this wasn't old news. They all had heard it. Beatrix Kiddo had confessed she was carrying Bill's unborn child the day he 'tried' to kill her. Tried being the key word, as the blonde bitch miraculously survived and was now lying in a coma where she was still pregnant…well…not anymore. It seemed that those nine months were up and out popped….well….out cut the bundle of joy and Bill wanted first dibs on it.

What the fuck was his brother thinking? He couldn't raise a baby, no fucking way. It wasn't right. And now in an attempt to get the full details rather than a blurb from an unreliable source Budd was walking down the hallway and into the living room.

"Bill?" He called out in that gruff tone of voice. No answer. He turned down the hallway and opened the door to the bedroom. There, inside was Bill, back turned and in the corner of the room…something disturbing to be seen…a cradle. Budd felt his insides churn.

As upset as Budd was he tried to keep casual. He cleared his throat, "Hey Bill." A brief pause, "What's in the basket?"

Bill was silent for a few seconds, not turning to face his brother. He remained hunched over the cradle, and it made for a truly odd picture. There were just some things that didn't seem to fit in Bill's room, or sitting next to Bill himself for that matter; and a cradle was definitely one of them. His shoulders were slightly hunched; seemingly with both a good dose of wariness and tension.

"What's in the basket," he finally spoke up softly; but it was not in the friendliest tone, "...is your niece, Budd."

Finally, he turned towards his younger brother. He looked tired, and not exactly that old sort of tired, but more that 'I haven't slept very well in weeks' kind of tired. New parents would recognize this look in their spouse or partner. Bill had no spouse or partner to look at him and tell him just what that look was; but it was obvious enough. He had contended with many things in his life; many of them quite dangerous, but a newborn baby was something he'd been completely unprepared to handle.

Bill's dark eyes remained on Budd; seeming to gage the other man's reaction. And while he didn't appear happy to see his brother, there was some sort of newfound happiness hiding beneath his sleep deprived features. He pursed his lips; hands moving away from the cradle to momentarily clasp onto his knees. "Elle told you..." It wasn't a question.

"Yeah, she told me," Budd replied curtly. He didn't make any movement from the doorway. He didn't want to come anywhere near Bill, or his niece as Bill had so quaintly put it. He felt a foul taste form in the back of his throat and his eyebrows knit close together. He didn't care how fucking tired Bill looked, that was all irrelevant.

He tried to add onto his words, "She stopped by last night for somethin'." What that something was was just between him and Elle. "And she sorta threw it out." More like painfully hit him in the gut with it.

There was a long pause and then he cleared it very slowly, "What the fuck are you doing, Bill?"

Bill had been in the process of turning back to the cradle when Budd's last statement caused him to whip his head back around. The look on his face was now far from hard worn fatigue; it was brimming with anger.

"What the fuck am I doing?" He repeated; the end of the sentence rising to a threatening tone. Yet, he remained seated. "What I am doing, Budd," his voice lowered again, "...is doing what I should do." It didn't take a genius to figure out just what Budd meant with that question. "This child is mine," Bill gestured to the cradle, "...I'm doing my duty, as a man." There was a definite sharp tone of condemnation at that last; as if Budd had no idea of the concept himself.

His eyes narrowed, "I'm surprised with you Budd. I would have thought you would at least be happy for me."

Budd was clearly taken aback by that. "I..." He faltered but quickly picked it up with a shake of his head. "…ain't. I can't be happy about this." He gave his brother a ridiculing look from across the room. As much as Bill was throwing anger towards him, for the moment Budd was keeping his own at bay; a clear difference between the two.

"Your duty as a man?" He repeated, emphasizing on the word man. "Listen to yourself Bill. You're a man but you're not a man who should have a child." The weird placement of Bill in the room with the cradle was a clear example of this. "What your duty should be is givin' that kid to… parents…that can raise 'er right and I dunno," he threw his hands up. "…supplying child support."

"No," was Bill's flat out response to that. He turned away from Budd, back towards the cradle. For a few moments he simply gazed down at the small child inside; forearms on the edge of the cradle. His face was turned partially away from his brother, but there was no missing the look of warm adoration there. It was almost painful to see that look on Bill's face; it was so misplaced. It was impossible to tell if that look was completely new to him, or perhaps it had simply been buried underneath frowns and scowls for decades. It wasn't the same way he'd looked Beatrix; no...that had been very different. This look was only the kind a willing parent could give, and it seemed Bill was still trying it on for size. It was awkward, but the fit was slowly getting better.

Finally, standing up and turning towards Budd, Bill seemed...at least momentarily less angry; more typically resolved and sure of himself. "No," he said again, "...I could never do that. I...," he trailed off momentarily; hands now in his jean pockets, "...I can learn to be a man who should have a child." His look sharpened, "And even if not, I will raise this child no matter what the fuck you tell me Budd. I never listened before and I'm certainly not going to listen to you now. I've always made my own choices, and this one was the easiest one I've ever made." Easier than capping Beatrix in the head apparently.

Bill rounded the bed; coming within a few feet of his sibling. A familiar, cruel smirk was on his face in an instant, "Even our own mother...a good for nothing, easily bought, cold hearted, whore of a whore kept us around in one capacity or another. I'm better than that," he gestured back towards the cradle. "I can give this girl anything she wants." His brows rose, "Think about it. I can teach her all that I know." It seemed Bill had finally found the ultimate protégé. His look became wistful.

For a brief second seeing Bill with that look of resolve Budd was having some second thoughts, then he went right around and said that. That was what he was afraid of. His lips puckered out as he took on a classic moment of deep thought. Once completed he wagged a single digit at Bill. "No…no…no…See, you tried that with me….and," he gave a short bitter chuckle and wove it off turning more serious. "Then you had Beatrix Kiddo."

"The woman that you," he pointed a critical finger. "…knocked up and now you wanna raise…no teach…the child that you spawned? You couldn't even fucking touch me until I was three years old and even then a lotta good goddamn quality time you spent with me. What are you gonna do? Lock 'er up and bring 'er out three years later?" His own disapproval was beginning to sharpen and for once he wasn't about to bite back on his words. "This is different. You're not gonna have ma or Estiban to look after the kid when you don't wanna…" his voice lowered. "You're all alone on this one."

"Don't you fuckin' talk to me about responsibilities Budd!" Bill quickly snapped back; falling back into that slight western drawl for a moment. But he quickly lowered his voice when a small whimper emitted from the cradle.

He took a step towards his brother; chin raised. "I'll have you know," he hissed; almost in a whisper, "That I did care for you even before you could pick up a cap gun. I held you when you were only a few weeks old and hated every fucking second of it, but I did it for that goddamn whore. And when I was looking down into that fat wrinkled pink face of yours...you know what I thought? I thought...that perhaps, just perhaps...someday you would come to understand all of the shit that I knew. And when you were old enough, I put so much of my time and energy into doing for you what nobody had done for me."

He paused; voice still calm but there was a definite undertone of fury. "Neither of us was conceived in love Budd, but that child," he motioned, "...was. And if I can give you all that I did...only to have you waste it by turning into the worlds worst excuse for a shit kicking alkie...then by fucking god, I can certainly do it for my own daughter."

His voice became cold now, "Perhaps she will truly appreciate it." He raised his chin again, "Alone I may be Budd, but I'll take my chances and bet I come out ahead….just as I always do."

Budd tipped his own chin up with a hand tracing along the rim of his hat. He wasn't about to argue with that because it was all true. Bill put so much effort into making Budd his ultimate protégé but it back fired because Budd wasn't the right one. He was too different. And even though Bill had sway over all of Budd's decisions in life one of them he came short of by a few feet was becoming just like Bill. Not that he wasn't ashamed of this, but Bill sure as hell was. But now there was a glimmer of hope; Bill had created a child with the one person that came closest to being Bill and if he took the time to really think about that was one deadly combination. He took deeply into account his own life and that didn't sway his feelings on this either.

But what was also true was how egotistical Bill was being about it. Everything had to benefit him and there was no arguing with that either, so he couldn't argue with that. His features turned void; a look he usually did not take. His own hard brown eyes looked over Bill's shoulder and cleared his throat after the sudden silence, "What you name her?"

Bill blinked; perhaps a bit taken back by Budd's sudden change of subject. It was hard to tell if he looked relieved or disappointed at this. But he decided to let the hostility drop; for the moment.

"B.B.," he said with a little twist of the lip. Budd, of course, would know what those initials stood for, but Bill clarified anyways. "I would naturally name my son Bill but seeing as I have a daughter, I deiced to give her the namesake of both myself and Beatrix." Leave it to Bill to do something so oddly unorthodox with a girl's name.

He shifted a little; looking at the cradle. "I found it fitting," he mused; as if he'd thought it up years ago. That warm adoration returned to his face for a few seconds. It could not be said that Bill didn't instantly adore his daughter. Perhaps she was 'just' a protégé to begin with, but it was already obvious that his feelings were quickly going beyond something so superficial.

He eventually turned back to Budd. "She deserves to know more than just her father. I would hope you would stick around Budd...for her sake." They both knew the DiVA's were rapidly disintegrating, and even Bill couldn't hide the anxiety that it caused.

This was perhaps the first request that Bill had ever asked his brother, and deep down Budd wanted too except it. This was his niece. He'd never have another one in his life time and he certainly would never be an Uncle in any other life time. But as much as he believed Bill wasn't a man to have a child, Budd wasn't a man to be an Uncle. It was a tough decision to make but eventually something would sway him over to the right side.

If Budd was in a better mood he would have made some wise crack joke about B.B. really standing for Bill and Budd but he was far from blurting that out. The weight of Bill's last statement turned any sarcasm aside. Budd's demeanor changed, his hands moving to loop into his belt, and his chin tilted down, his hat casting a shadow against his features. "I dunno, Bill. She deserves to know her mother too," and that went immediately back too Budd's first disapproval of what happened at Two Pines.

For a brief moment, it looked as if Bill was going to actually physically strike his own brother, and not some fanciful kung fu sort of maneuver either, but a full out bar-brawl style right hook. Budd might have more body mass, but they both knew Bill was quite capable of laying him flat out.

But instead, Bill changed one clenched fist into a sharp finger, and jabbed it into Budd's sternum. His dark eyes were burning with an unfathomable amount of anger, but his breathing was an eerie calm. "That...is an irrelevant point now," he nearly whispered; voice likewise carrying that sociopath's eerie calm. "And you know it." Bill was not the sort to outwardly show much in the way of painful emotions, but there was a definite flash of pain there. Was Budd's statement really so cruel? Or was Bill already having second thoughts about Beatrix? Or perhaps something more.

"I will take care of Beatrix when the time comes," he continued; letting his hand fall away from Budd; but the anger remained. "For now...as she will be soon...she's dead." It didn't seem as if Bill was fully prepared to contend with his daughter, and her mother not being around and the whole conflict that arose out of it.

Bill tilted his head back; a look of typical haughtiness lighting his face, "We don't all get what we deserve."

"And that's a damn shame now ain't it?" Budd lifted his head back up and tilted his hat up. There was an atypical look of pain in his eyes and a straight glower of anger on his face. Such as when Bill and Beatrix were first acknowledged as a couple he didn't approve but he went along with it for Bill's sake, but now he certainly didn't approve of anything Bill was doing and he wasn't going to go along with it. Did Budd feel a tinge of guilt for what had happened? Of course, and that drove his anger towards this whole thing.

Softer brown eyes coated with haze stared past Bill's shoulder in a moment of silence. Apparently Bill's daughter didn't deserve to know her mother and Bill was certain she'd be dead soon enough. She had 'died' twice already, what's a third time? He cleared his throat finally and began in that gruff tone of voice that was always leveled; he was never one to raise his voice, "Right, well I really got nothing against the kid but I have a lot against you." His demeanor darkened; something that like Bill with the cradle didn't fit well. "I'm gonna have to say no. I'm not gonna stick around because all a this is going to hell and as much as you don't wanna admit it, it's your goddamn fault."

Budd lifted his chin keeping an eye lock with his brother whom he hardly ever stood up against, it wasn't an easy task. "I'm not gonna stand here and watch you do something that ain't right. But," he raised his hands up dramatically. "You don't give a shit about what I think and I wish ya gave a fucking damn because you know I'm right and if you weren't such a fucking bastard you'd realize that."

His hands slapped back against his waist giving Bill a sharp look. "For once in your life think about someone besides yerself! That kid's a prize to you. Some fucking reward you can cherish and pretend to love so one day she'll be just like you and then one day she'll leave you because she'll find out that you never really loved her…" he trailed off to suck in a sharp breathe through his nostrils.

"Well now Budd," Bill drawled into the following silence; anger flashing even brighter in his eyes, "You just made the first real move in our little Mexican standoff now didn't you?" It was bit a bitter sarcasm; typically Bill, but it was quite obvious that what Budd had just said hurt his normally thick skinned brother down to the core.

Bill looked hurt, oh yes, and not just that but somewhat surprised. Budd was actually standing up to him and not just that, but throwing a little taste of his own cruel medicine back at him. He didn't seemed pleased about it...no, not at all. There was a brief pause, where Bill seemed to be rearing up for a massive outburst, one he had been holding back for decades. There was a few seconds pause, and then he lashed out.

"You fucking asshole," he spat; not moving an inch away from Budd. The two remained face to face. "Of all the people to throw that shit at me, it's you...you fucking good for nothing piece of shit!"

He didn't seem to care about lowering his voice anymore. "Do you forget everything I've done for you...you fucking moron? Think about somebody but myself? What the FUCK have I been doing for the last fucking twenty years!"

That pointing finger now; in Budd's face. "You, Budd...have been nothing but a burden on me; I would have been better off without you. I've known that for years, and still...still I kept you around, because you were decent with a sidearm, and because I felt some stupid fucking obligation to give you a chance in life." He gave a bitter snort, "But, fuck I'm done giving you a chance, you fuck up. You've denied your last chance to be part of anything I do; and it's going to be a real bitch of a world without me to save your sorry ass."

His eyes narrowed, "Ya know, I told that fucking whore of a mother of ours she should have gotten rid of you before you ever saw the light of this world. She unfortunately didn't listen to me, but god dammit...I wish she'd taken my advice. Because, you're a burden Budd, a fucking lazy, unintelligent, crass, uncultured, alcoholic, untalented, piece of honky tonk shit. And you know you're biggest weakness...?" Bill's finger dropped to Budd's chest; turning into a fist and thudding the man right where his heart was; and not without some hostility. "...that..."

Bill smirked sardonically, "You're soft Budd, and you know it. You can't change it...you fucking bleeding heart. You've always been playing second fiddle, and maybe you hate me for it. But I've always been harder, smarter, and colder. You don't belong in a killer's world. You're weak. I think it's time you leave it and stop blaming me for you being such two-bit hack. I've done nothing but try to make you more than you are; congratulations you failed."

Bill took a step back. His brows shot up, "Oh, and I swear to fucking god, if you ever...EVER...say anything so degrading about myself and my daughter again," his eyes darted to the pearl handled Colt sitting on top of the nearby dresser,"...I will fuck you up."

Back to whispering; he crossed his arms over his chest, "I want you out of my house...out of my sight. Consider your employment terminated. I don't need you; I never did. Go away from me. Go die slowly of liver cancer somewhere else Budd."

Budd just bobbed his head up and down slowly. "Right…" He muttered licking his lips apprehensively. Even being a man trained to hide emotion it was easy to see the cast of hurt in the cowboy's eyes. He wasn't about to break down in tears to a weak, feeble man, he'd cure his pain in various other ways, but for now he continued to nod in a method to calm himself. "Well," he began again in a quiet tone.

"I'd say it's been nice knowing ya but," he let out an unsteady chuckle turning his head back to Bill and canting it to the side. "It ain't." He took a step backward as a hand came up to the brim of his hat and tipped it in a farewell gesture before turning around and walking out the door and out of sight.

The second Budd arrived back home, he packed up. Being taught to pack at a record breaking time and getting an unbelievable amount of crap properly into a bag in record breaking time, he was able to pull it off even now with his insides twisting. Basic necessities; toiletries, underwear, shirts, jeans, another pair of boots, and various pieces of jewelry were stuffed into the duffle bag. Once accomplished in a matter of five minutes he was back out the door; stuffing a caliber pistol in the back hem of his jeans, throwing the duffle in the back of his truck, and screeching out onto the road….leaving a cloud of dust behind.

Now, needless to say Budd was a pretty well put together guy. Not considering his taste for alcohol or coming off as a…moron, he pretty much had it. Well, after what just happened, after what had happened just a few months ago, he wasn't starting to feel all that put together. To say Budd wasn't a man with morals was one thing but to say he didn't have a conscience was another. That was his major downfall. He had a conscience and as Bill so nicely put it; he was a bleeding heart. That was what got him into this mess and what would lead in a sense to his end. The thought was almost sad but Budd wasn't sad. No, he knew what his brother did was wrong and he didn't do a damn thing to stop it. Now having voiced his opinions on a matter that followed up with exactly what his brother did only seemed to worsen things.

He felt a little guilty about it and in time his guilt would only grow with the events that would happen in a few years time. But that was getting a little ahead of the present time and at the present time Budd was feeling pretty shitty. The only way to cure this feeling was his good friend, alcohol. Along with that alcohol came the need to spite Bill in any way possible, without anyone but himself knowing. That's why he was currently turning down the interstate to good old Las Vegas. The one place he could get shit faced to his heart's content.

And no one….no bastard, no bitches, were going to tell him how much of a moron he was, that he was a piece of shit, and not worthy of anything.

It didn't take him long to arrive at his destination, only having stopped a few times along the road and spending a night in some cheap motel, Budd was in the bright city of lights within less than two days time. His first stop was the bank.

If there was anyone to blame for this it'd probably be Bill because Budd's reasons for doing what he was about to do were all because of Bill. In a way it was a manner of spiting him, but in the end all it seemed to do was spite Budd….not that he cared at the moment.

After working for more than ten years at Bill's side, Budd had put away and spent a shit load of money. Most of that money he acquired over the years was wasted on material things, booze, and women….but a good portion of it was stowed away. He wasn't a complete idiot. But right now one would think he was. It took some smooth talking but Budd was able to take out everything, and by everything that meant everything….every last stinking goddamn cent. And what was he planning to do with all of this money? Why, gamble of course.

"Goddamn it all to fucking hell," Budd exasperated slapping down a fist on the counter. Once he had arrived at one of the high pricey casinos he'd cashed in his bucks, got himself some booze, and ventured off into the casino. During his escapade of drowning himself in liquor and helplessly trying to spite his brother, he had attracted a few women. Money did that. Now by the end of the second day of straight through gambling, drinking, fucking and sleeping off hangovers Budd was down to one woman and not all that much money.

"Tough break sweets," cooed the sparkly bikini clad woman hanging on Budd's shoulder. Her pudgy red lips turned down. "Maybe you should save enough for a cab to go home."

"I ain't going home," Budd snapped; looking for another chip to keep him in the game.

"You gonna live here all your life?" The woman asked, keeping her drawling voice close to Budd's ear.

"Fuck," was Budd's only reply as he apparently lost another hand.

"After ya punched that guy last night at that other place…they wasn't too thrilled…"

The cowboy's face snapped around to her his voice hoarse, "Damn it Jane I told you that wasn't my fault."

Jane's down turn in her lips seemed to worsen. "I know," she rubbed a hand against his chest; her bright green eyes coming half lidded. "I just don't want ya getting into trouble." Budd apparently didn't seem to care for this game and got up abruptly; completely ignoring what the 'hooker' said.

She came after him anyway. "How bout we head back to the room." She cut in front of him, her long brown hair swaying. "I got some new tricks I wanna show ya."

Budd gave her a long look. Under the thick coating of booze and slowly vanishing train of thought he was glad Jane stuck around. She was a friend in a way; looking out for him as he drowned himself in a type of self pity. Either that or she was on him for what money he had left, and maybe the fucking too. He rubbed his forehead in hopes to perhaps rub his brain sober. "I don't wanna see any tricks Jane. I just…"

Jane moved closer and hooked her arms around the cowboy's neck, the hooker pulled off a pretty serious expression…for a hooker. "You're a good guy. I can tell. How 'bout I get you a cab and you go get your shit together? You're no good here."

"I don't need your money," he muttered bobbing his head up and down.

Jane smiled knowingly, "Yes, you do." She rather skillfully flipped an arm under Budd's arm and over his shoulder and began to lead the drunken fool out of the casino. "I'm gunna get you a cab. Were should I send ya, Buddy Boy?"

"Don't call me that," Budd muttered again, but his mind was beginning to focus as they came out into the fresher city air.

"Well, you don't got a home right?"

Budd nodded; his eyes flashing momentarily, "Right. No home, no family. Nothin'."

"That's kinda sad."

"No…it's the way things should be."

"Should be or not you gotta go somewhere's." Budd furrowed his brows and started to think real hard. He knew Jane had a point and as much as he wanted to stay in Vegas he had completed what he needed…he spent every fucking cent of the money he earned working for his brother.

"I know where ya can send me," Budd started, but his voice started to soften, "…far from my brother." By the end Budd, the one man Bill ever loved, was going to try his damndest to never acknowledge Bill's existence again.

"You read the local pa'eps?" Ernie slapped down the local El Paso, Texas Newspaper. There in black and white, on page ten towards the bottom right corner with a smaller blurb was the print; El Paso Wedding Chapel Massacre, What Next? The smaller print below the headline went into the massacre that happened nearly four months ago, a few sentence explanation of the wedding party that was ruthlessly gunned down by a death squad which still remains unknown, and the main concern of how safe El Paso really was.

"I dunno Budd. This place is really goin' down the shit hole. Ya used ta have this real quant little town with some great bars an' decent people. Now everyone's crazy as all 'ell about the security, how good the sheriff's office really is. You'd think this place turned inta fuckin' New York City with all a this shit."

Budd was hunched over the newspaper his good friend Ernie had just slapped down in front of the cowboy's face. He wore a gruff expression as he tipped his head down to read the headline. His lips pursed and he quietly pushed the paper to the edge of the counter; dismissing the article.

Ernie continued, "I'm fucking sick of it, man. This has been goin' on for months and they can't get over the goddamn thing. I gotta get outta here, move somewhere were the air is cleaner."

This caught Budd's attention. To show his spark of interest he lifted his head up and tilted his hat back. "Where's the air cleaner?"

"Carol, ya remember her? That hot assed African American that used to take care of my ma? We keep in touch and all. Well her pa just hit the can and left her a shit ass load of cash and his place in Barstow, California. She don't want it and offered it to me."

"Shit," Budd mused. "That's some good timing."

"Hell it is!" Ernie slapped an enthusiastic hand on the counter. "She just gotta work out some legal shit and then its all mine if I want it. So, I think I'm gonna take it while I can."

Budd let out a low chuckle. "Hell, if you didn't want it I'd take it." And that was the damn truth. He'd been hanging out here for almost a month, seeing as he couldn't go back home to Mexico. There was nothing there for him to go back too, that and he was unwanted there.

"Hey!" Ernie perked up. "Why don't ya come with me? Trailers there are shitassed cheap and you'd have no trouble findin' a job. I can ask Carol for a list of some of the bars that are hiring over there."

Budd's spirits seemed to rise but he didn't show it in any psychical manner. "I appreciate that Ernie but I'm gonna haf-ta think about it."

Ernie gave him an earnest look, "Like fucking hell you gotta think. What harm is it gunna do?" He let out a snorted laugh. "Ya'll be livin' in a trailer working as a bouncer in one a those titty bars! That's what ya always wanted, ain't it?"

A hand came up and Budd rubbed at the back of his neck; his features suddenly turned sullen and forlorn. "Yeah…" Maybe Ernie was right. It was what he always wanted. To live his own life, to choose what he wanted to do with it, and as low as it was….he wanted to be a bouncer. But as the idea was beginning to become more of a reality that Budd was willing to accept a new reality hit him. His hand moved to rub at his forehead and settle there. "Ah fuck, I don' have a fucking cent to my name. I can't afford to pay for even a shit assed trailer."

Ernie's lips down turned but he wasn't about to give up and offered another idea, "What about askin' your brother for some dough?"

"No," Budd flat out declined, but seeing how taken aback Ernie was he added more quietly, "We aren't speakin'." There was the slightest spark of regret in his eyes at these words.

"Well," Ernie began more tentatively obviously thinking hard on what he wanted to say next, "I could give ya some of mine…"

"No," Budd held up a protesting hand. "I couldn't ask ya to do that."

Ernie just began to laugh, a loud squeal of a laugh that ended in a snort, "Man, I owe ya so much shit for things ya done for me this wouldn't even pay off half a it. So what ya say?"

Budd gave his old friend a long hard look. Over the past few weeks, when Budd first arrived in El Paso from Las Vegas, Ernie had been kind enough to take in the drunken shit faced cowboy. There Budd had slept off five solid days of self pity; spending a good portion of the time hanging over the toilet, distantly watching television, and sleeping on the pull out couch. It was pathetic, but Ernie was equally so or even more lowly than Budd and he didn't give a rat's ass about Budd hanging there. And what made it even easier was Ernie asked no questions.

This had to be the first day out of many that Budd felt his mind was on both tracks and running smoothly. Here was a chance for something normal, something he chose, and even though it wouldn't heal his guilt at least it was a way to bury it for the time being. With that he gave a tight nod. "Okay, let's do it."

"Ha ha!" Ernie laughed gleefully. "Man, oh man, Budd you aren't gunna fucking regret this!" And with a hearty pat to Budd's back Ernie went off to make the moving arrangements to Barstow, California.

A small camper trailer stood all by its lonesome in the middle of the barren California wasteland. Standing outside on the metal steps under the hot sun was Bill's brother Budd. He was hardly the 'Slick Willie' Budd with the black suit and a semi automatic in his hands; shooting down a wedding party. No, this Budd is the Budd who was verbally shot down and climbed into a bottle a year ago, got himself comfortable, and decided to live there. He wasn't wearing a shirt, revealing his numerous tattoos he had assorted himself with in his younger years, the 'added weight' was easy to see. He at least had on a pair of faded jeans. Top this all off there was that shit kicking cowboy hat. And there was Budd at his finest.

It wasn't the prettiest sight, but this was what Budd had decided on and what made it work for him was it was his own decision. The past year had been goddamn hard and right now, where he stood in life, he was pretty fucking content. Well….he was content but something was missing; bugging the shit out of him.

So, he made a phone call last night and was now quietly awaiting his guest over a bottle of Jack.

"What a shit hole...," Elle Driver muttered under breath as she sat in the seat of her parked '79 Thunderbird; the loud engine now idly cooling under the hot desert sun.

She lit up a cigarette; squinting with her one eye at the trailer in the close distance, and the man standing in the doorway...waiting for her. The man, who much to her dismay was Budd...once known as Sidewinder. He obviously had changed a bit since they'd last seen one another. Then again, a lot of things were different now.

After a moment, she slid out of the car and slammed the door shut. She gave Budd a half hearted wave with her cigarette bearing hand and began a slow purposeful strut towards the trailer; hips swinging in full typical fashion. She was dressed in a sharp matching pants suit outfit of light cream; the neckline dangerously low and the heels dangerously high; just how she liked it.

"Budd," she muttered when she was close enough to him, "...how wonderful to see you." As usual her tone was somewhere between snidely sarcastic and amusingly bitter. "I just love what you've done with the place..." She gave the camper trailer a sarcastic nod of approval. "Very...charming..."

Budd chuckled, "Yeah, well I'd show you what I did with the inside of it, if it didn't smell like a horse's ass in there." He cleared his throat in a nonchalant manner and set his beer bottle down to the side. This was who he made his call to; Elle Driver. The last woman in the world Budd found himself wanting to call, but he had to. He peered up at the one-eyed blonde, taking in all of the hate, and then settling.

He didn't want to beat around the bush, but Budd was never very good at that. He didn't want Elle here, interfering with his new life, but he had called her here and it had a purpose…he just wasn't going to give that reason away just yet. He pursed his lips and then questioned, "So, how ya been Elle? Haven't seen your boney ass in a year. It's uh…" he canted his head as if to try and get a side angle of Elle's backside. "…still bony ain't it?" He flashed that classic dopey smile and sat up straight. "Ya look good." He gave a reassuring nod to that with the tip of his cowboy hat.

"Thank you," Elle cooed; red glossy lips curving into an amused smile; always a girl to take a compliment. "I'd say the same for you Budd...but I think I'd be making myself a lair if I did." She smiled at that, and it wasn't an entirely kind smile either.

She then took a long pull on her cigarette, looking around with some annoyance for some place to sit. There was a bent up rusty lawn chair to her right, and it seemed she had to settle for that, seeing as there was nothing else but a dirty barbeque and an even dirtier looking tarp nearby.

"I've been good," she remarked; settling herself into the chair with obvious disgust. She knocked some ashes from her cigarette onto the dusty ground and continued on, "...I can't say I've missed having your drunk ass around, but I suppose it's not so bad seein' ya after a year."

Her eye narrowed a bit as she looked at him again; perhaps this time with a little suspicion as to exactly why she was here. Instead, she pursed her lips and crossed one long leg over the other. "I suppose you want me to fill you in all of the dirt...eh?" She tilted her head to the side. "Or...perhaps not?"

Budd nodded his head, "Na, I wanna know all the dirt you got for me." He fixed his hard, mid-afternoon glossy stare in the willowy blonde's direction. Before he'd departed Mexico, the last thing he recalled was the squad was running on thin ice. Tensions were high for months while Bill disgustingly waited for his kid to incubate, but Budd hadn't stayed around to see what happened after that.

He leaned back a little, stretching his leg out into the sandy patch of ground below. He attempted a laugh, "Shit, I've been in the dark for a year. Ain't no nothing on no one. I'm just glad you still had the same fucking cell phone number."

"Hrm, yes...well...maybe I'll change it now," Elle muttered darkly; flicking more cigarette ashes onto the ground. Turning her attention back to Budd; she leaned back in the rusty creaking lawn chair. "The dirt eh...yeah I should have known that's what you wanted."

She took another long puff. "Well...," she started with relish; blowing an impressive smoke ring, "...let's see here...Vern was the first to leave. Apparently, she'd been seeing some fucking doctor type of asshole for months...didn't tell anyone of course. Then, the stupid bitch gets knocked up," she snorted bitterly, "...and she decides she wants out...wants to get married and all of that shit. So," she shrugged, "...Bill let her leave. She's somewhere in this godforsaken state, although...I'd take a guess and say she ain't livin' in no trailer," she drawled mockingly.

She paused for a few seconds; smoking in silence. "O-Ren of course you could have guessed. Bill backed her in her little yakuza plan. She took off to Tokyo a few months ago. Last we heard she'd secured herself on the top of that food chain...not without some good old bloody violence of course," she smirked. "Bill's lawyer Sofie...you remember that French-Jap bitch, went with her...I didn't cry over that one..."

This time Elle's pause between Viper's was longer, but eventually she spoke up again. "Bill's well..." Her voice took on a different tone now. "He has that awful baby now you know...he spends a lot of time with her." There was no missing the twinge of jealousy now. "He's still pretty much the same though...a real fucking bastard." She smiled fondly at that. "He moved...further south. It's a nice place." Her gaze fixed on Budd. "He talks about you sometimes...I think at least he'd like to know where you are..."

But that apparently was about as far Elle's compassion went, and she switched gears again. "Then of course there's good old me." She laughed; snubbing out her butt of a cigarette on the plastic arm of the chair. "I'm still the same fun loving, kind hearted, bitch you know and love. It seems I'm also the only one who has the loyalty to stick with Bill." She sneered. "Oh...and Beatrix...," her expression darkened again. "She's still alive...I was this close to killing her," she put her pointer finger and thumb together, "...right there Budd..needle in hand. And then...Bill called it off...she's still out there...alive...lying in a fucking hospital bed…..." She trailed off; staring blankly across the desert for a few long moments.

Finally, she brought her attention back to the man in front of her. "And that just leaves you Budd..." She smirked again; back to her usual self.

Budd took in everything he heard while finishing off his beer. He wasn't surprised by much. Vernita getting hitched was nice to hear and he did hope good things for her future. O-Ren, he wanted to laugh. He always knew she'd rule the world, or in this case the Tokyo Underground.

And then there was Bill. It was good to know his brother was doing…well and he was still a fucking bastard. That just wouldn't be Bill. But it was good to hear he was spending time with B.B., whether it was right or wrong.

The fact that Beatrix was still alive made Budd wonder if he got through to Bill, if not a little…or if Bill did feel that tinge of guilt that Budd felt. Whatever it was she was still out there, not that she was ever gunna wake up, but the idea was…daunting.

He tossed the empty beer bottle to the side, it rolled through the dirt and stopped a few feet from the tin garbage can. "Looks like everyone's doing pretty goddamn good," he concluded a little dully. He shifted, clearing his throat up, "I hung out gambling in Las Vegas after I left Mexico. Then I hung up at a pal of mine's place in El Paso. Got pretty shitty there, so I moved out here."

He looked over to Elle, squinting past the sun rays. "I'm a working at a titty bar a few miles down the road as a bouncer." He laughed lightly with a wide grin on his face. "Pay is shitty and I can't say I like the company. Got this roof over my head though," he motioned to the shit assed trailer he was planted on. "Food, couple a women, yup," he pursed his lips. "It's all good here."

"Well...isn't that good to hear," Elle replied dryly; eying Budd with a small amount of disdain. "A titty bar eh? Sounds like your kinda place Budd...maybe you have finally found your true calling." She sneered at her little veiled insult; digging out a pack of cigarettes from her blazer pocket.

Lighting up, she squinted at him through the smoke, "Why don't you come back? I mean...shit, you've gotta miss the money, heh..no...I know you miss the money. And the company has gotta be better than some slutty big titted bitches...and whoever else lives out in this hell hole. Even I'm better than that. Besides," she paused; looking away from him, "...I know your brother would like to see you again..."

Budd flat out laughed at that. "I dunno if you heard the news darlin'," his laughter started to die away. "But Bill and I aren't talking and I highly doubt he wants to see me again, since he's the one that told me to get the hell away from him." He then turned silent a moment. He did miss the money, he missed the money a lot but he could live without the money. He couldn't live to go back home and watch Bill do what he was doing.

He finally shook his head. "Even if you aren't lyin' outta your ass and Bill would really like to see me again I ain't going. I'm good here…and I do like what I'm doing."

Elle didn't seem all that surprised at Budd's reaction. She just pursed her lips tightly. "Well...just so ya know, I didn't say all of that because Bill wanted me to. He doesn't need me to be his little messenger and solve his stupid fucking feud with you, and it is stupid." She frowned. "Yeah, and I know what he said to you...but that doesn't mean he meant it..."

She suddenly waved a hand; standing up, "Bah..forget it...you are a stubborn fuck if I ever knew one. I don't like you enough to try and convince you any more...but shit, I thought I'd give it a shot since I came all the way out to this fucking shit hole." She didn't answer to his accusation of lying out of her ass one way or another. Honesty and Elle often did not go together.

Shaking out her long mane of blonde hair; she fixed Budd with her one eyed icy glare. "Ya know Budd, I think your biggest problem has always been that you never really had any balls. Well...that and you can be a real piece of shit...but I'd make a bet that if you came back, Bill would be willing to put some of that shit aside. But," she laughed bitterly, "...you won't, so I'll stop wasting my time trying to talk any sense into you."

Budd wasn't all that hurt or angered by what Elle said. He had heard enough from Bill a year ago to pretty much level it out. He nonchalantly rubbed an itch on his nose and then planted the same hand on the tip of his cowboy hat. He tilted his head up and to the side, his demeanor considerably placid. "Well, I didn't ask you to come here to try and convince me to come back." As much as he knew Elle didn't give much of a damn about him he was somehow…touched…that she had been willing to try and get him to come home. Either that or Bill made her.

He let silence linger between them. The soft whoosh of the desert air the only sound until Budd blinked and fixed his hard gaze on the woman in front of him. He started, "I ain't talking to Bill for as long as I can help it. And I wasn't gunna even think about him but that turned out to be a bit harder than I thought. So," his hand fell back to his thigh. "I asked ya here not just because I missed your fucking ass." He gave her a well meaningfully smirk.

"But I need a favor. You're close to Bill. Hell, you two are probably fucking every night. Shit, that's fucked up," he chuckled darkly. "But, anywho, I was thinkin' we could talk. I'm not saying you gotta drag yourself down here every few months but if ya don't change that cell number we could talk. You can give me the dirt, I'll give you some dirt which I'm pretty fucking sure you'll give back to Bill and then that's it." He paused, flashing her one of those wide dopey smiles. "Whataya say?"

Elle's lips curved up into that trademark sneer, "Awwww...I'm real touched Budd." That familiar mixed tone of syrup and venom in full swing. She laughed a little, but it quickly died down. Instead, she took a few long drags off her cigarette; turning to look away from him out towards the desert.

She was silent for a good minute; which generally meant that she was mulling over the daunting prospect of actually being reasonable or instead being a complete bitch. When Elle was reasoning over things, it usually meant that whatever it was had passed her first knee jerk reaction to tell it to go fuck itself. So, at least Budd had made it that far.

"Yeah...alright," she finally muttered; sounding a little defeated. She turned back to him, raising a finger in a gesture that was so Bill-like it was a little creepy, "But don't ask me to be all fuckin' nice to you...or feel bad for you because you've decided to make a loser out of yourself. I'll tell you what I can...I guess." She shrugged; crossing her arms. "And I suppose Bill will be happy to know that he can get a hold of you...in some way..."

Budd laughed in satisfaction. In the back of his mind he was worried that Elle was just going to tell him to go fuck himself, but then she came around. He didn't want to guess why because it probably had nothing to do with him personally. She was still a hateful bitch and he was still the shit faced cowboy.

The laughter cut off into a classic smile. "I really appreciate this, Elle. But I'm not gunna go showin' my gratitude because I know you don't want it. Now you can head on home back to Bill and give 'em the good news. Don't go giving him my fucking regards but say 'hi' to the kid for me," he trailed off a moment his look turning curious. "How's that goin' by the way?"

"Fine," Elle replied shortly; her semi-warm mood dropping to something closer to that found in Antarctica. "Just fucking fine...shit I don't know Budd, because I don't give a flying fuck about that brat," she spat; obviously losing control on her brain to mouth filter for the moment. "How about I tell Bill to tell her 'hi' for you...since all he seems to do is talk and talk and talk and fucking talk to that kid." She snorted, "Even though she doesn't know what the hell he's talking about, he just keeps on talkin' to her, and lookin' at her like she's the best goddamn thing he's ever seen."

Elle had never hid jealousy all that well.

She took a quick and hasty drag off her cigarette and flicked it into the dirt. "Yeah...whatever..." She sniffed; raising her chin. "Anyways, I've gotta split; things to do, people to kill...you know the old routine." She managed a tight smile. "Yeah so...call me whenever, but not too late at night alright?" She didn't give her reasons for that. "And I don't want to hear any fucking bitching and moaning out of you...I'm done trying to get you to come back; just the dirt, like we agreed."

Pivoting a little, she threw him a glance over her shoulder. "Well...you take care now Budd. Maybe you can try playing the Lotto or something...poor people are always trying that shit to get rich." She flashed a sharp smile. "Adios."

With that, she sauntered off in full style; heading for her parked car. Within seconds she was peeling out of the large desert area; kicking up dust in her wake.

The lone cowboy fanned a hand across his face to dissipate the gathering desert dust. Brown eyes squinted out at the sun over the vast mountain tops as the rickety wheels in his head started to turn. He never wanted it to come to this. He spent a good year trying to rid his thoughts, money, feelings, and entire life style of his brother and now that had all gone to hell. As much as Budd…disliked…his brother he could never forget blood. That was it, Bill was like blood; pulsing, dark, and it was always there, moving through your veins and no matter how hard you tried you couldn't rid yourself of blood…unless you wanted to die….and Budd sure as hell didn't want to die.

But then again there were so many things that got under his skin! It all started at the beginning; he should have voiced his opinion when Bill and Beatrix first started fucking around. He was never against it. If Bill was happy let him be happy. But he was always a little cautious about it. Beatrix was a bitch and a smart one and let him be a womanizer but those two together was never a good thing. He just felt some strange obligation to protect his older brother, not that that ever worked. Bill didn't need any protection.

So, Budd stayed out of it. Not that his thoughts were ever heard…but if anyone had ever listened to him…they'd all probably be a lot better off.

But, alas, that was not the case and Budd had to deal with the present. His present life in a shit assed trailer with a shit assed job, not that he didn't like his new life style because he chose it. This was his life now, he bought this upon himself, and as much as he had enjoyed the life that Bill gave him it was something different to be able to look at his life and know that everything he did had lead to what was before him.

Well, there was a lot of shit he could keep on thinking about but work was calling and he was late. Larry'd have his ass about it but such was life and at the moment, give or take the bad Budd was pretty content.