Back from the Black.

By Lady Cleo

All disclaimers apply.

The much mulled over sequel to 'Beyond the Black.' Feel free to point out any out of out of character slips or oddities. Thanks to Twitchy Louie as always. This one's short, but it's just an introduction to the story.


The four cowhands stood lazily by the fence, watching the horses move anxiously around the pen as lightening flashed in the distance. "He's been antsy, moody and all sorts of temperamental." The eldest spoke up. "It's all the usual signs." He pulled on the brim of his hat and shifted against the fence. "I reckon it's gotta be."

"Hell everybody knows he can't keep his hands off… wouldn't surprise me none. What would that make it, three now?"

"Reckon so." The eldest answered back with a grin.

"Who'd ya send in Joshua?" The man to his right inquired quietly, scuffing his boot in the dirt he glanced over towards the foreman's office with shifty eyes, as though expecting the building to explode.

"One of the rookies… Conner, I think was the kid's name. He's been in there now for more then a couple minutes, bound to come flyin' out any second now."

The man to Joshua's left snickered, "Guessin' you don't like the kid too much to do that ta him, doubt he'll survive."

" 'Bout time we broke in some of these rookies. Bein' out on the range is gonna be deadly enough, if they can't stand up to 'him' then ain't no use expectin' em to watch our backs when Larabee's men come shootin'."

"Still Joshua, that's like sendin' the kid on a suicide mission, ain't no way he'd know how to handle the boss, specially when consider the delicate subject at hand."

A sadistic grin cracked across the elder's face, "Reckon we'll find out any second now."

Across the yard the foreman's office door slammed open and the four men jumped, spinning around to watch as a young man sailed through the air and landed with a thud in the dirt, a gruff, angry voice following after him, "And mind your own ruttin' business."

Joshua grimaced as he nodded, "Right, there's the sign, she's expectin again. Pass the word on ta be tenderfoots round the boss." The group nodded in agreement and Joshua frowned, "He's the best damn foreman this ranch has ever seen, hate to have to save his hide from lynching when he kills some fool stupid idiot who couldn't hold his tongue." A quick nod scattered the group in different directions.

Joshua leaned back against the fence snickering as he watched the young man wearily pick himself up from the dirt. "Damn I love my job."


Jayne slammed the door back into place with a scowl. Still growling over the younger man's remarks about River looking very maternal and bright lately, he turned around and faced his quiet office. "Gorram idiot, what's he doin' lookin' at my wife anyway."

Still cursing under his breath the former mercenary faced off with the other occupant of his office, "Where were we, fore the ruttin' fool interrupted."

The small three year old fixed her large bright eyes on her father, waves of brown hair tumbling around her face as she pointed at the pistol that lay in parts on the desk.

Jayne grinned, walking over he swept her back into his arms and settled down into the chair. He took a second to position the small girl on his lap before he resumed his cleaning. "Right, now this weapon is best known for its easy trigger…ain't as smooth as Vera, but she' handles fine when properly cared for."