Disclaimer: Yeah, not owning it...
Author's Note: Okay, first of I have to say that this is totally (duh) AU. I completely made Tori James up, with a little help from my best bud Adrienne, because well, Tori's kinda based on her. Also, I was thinking and thinking about who I could match Tori up with and the person I came up with is kinda surprising, because they are cousins, which now days is sick and inappropriate, but it was okay for cousins to get together during Civil War times. I know this because I put a little bit of research in on it. Also, I asked my uncle, who is a total history buff. He said that people didn't think it was wrong then and I guess they didn't. Didn't you guys ever see 'Gone with the Wind'? That one guy married his cousin, remember? Anyway, I'm only putting this in so I don't any flames saying 'Ew! They're cousins! That's gross!' So if you don't like my story, just leave. Okay? Okay. Is anyone even still reading this?
I'm so scared that the way that I feel is written all over my face
When you walk into the room I wanna find a hiding place.
We used to laugh, we used to hug, the way that old friends do.
But now a smile and the touch of your hand just makes me come unglued.
It's such a contradiction
Do I lie or tell the truth?
Is it fact or fiction?
The way I feel for you.
It's so complicated
I'm so frustrated,
I wanna hold you close; I wanna push you away,
I wanna make you go, I wanna make you stay.
Should I say it?
Should I tell you how I feel?
I want you to know, but then again I don't,
It's so complicated.
-Carolyn Dawn Johnson
"Tori, would you please stop lollygagging?" Jim Younger looked at his cousin and best friend. "You know how mad Ma gets when we're late comin' home."
Tori shrugged. She did know how mad her Aunt Ruth got, but that didn't make her walk any faster. Jim rolled his eyes.
"Day dreamin' again, aren't ya?" he teased.
Tori swatted his shoulder. "No, stupid. I wasn't."
"Yes, you were!" Jim chuckled. "I recognize that look on your face! What were ya thinkin' about, huh?"
Tori took a deep breath. She was starting to get mad. She loved Jim to death, but he was always teasing her! "That's none of your business, James Younger!" She finally said, stalking ahead of him.
"Aw, I was only kiddin', Tori! Don't get all bent out of shape!" Jim called after her. Tori kept walking. "Tori! Victoria James!" Jim sighed and jogged to keep up with her. "I was only teasing you, Tor."
"I'm not speaking to you!" She said, tossing her dark blonde hair in his face. Tori was the spitting image of her eldest brother, Frank. From the dirty blonde hair to the dark blue eyes.
"You just did." Jim told her dryly.
Tori glanced at him, then they both started to laugh.
"You know I could never stay mad at you." She said, slinging her arm over his shoulder.
"I know." Jim answered. "But I'm sorry I teased you."
"Ji-im! I said it was okay."
Jim shook his head and placed his arm around Tori's shoulders. "Come on, Tor, let's go."
The two of them walked over the rise behind the Younger's house. Even in the distance, they could see three strange horses tied up in the front yard.
"Who's that?" Tori asked.
Jim shrugged. "I dunno. Let's go find out."
They hurried down the rise and across the barnyard. Jim flung the front door open. "Hey Ma! Whose horses are them out-." The words died on his lips when he saw his two older brothers sitting at the kitchen table, both of whom had been gone for four years during the war. They were surrounded by their mother and their two sisters, thirteen-year-old Hannah and eleven-year-old Kristen, and an Indian man that Tori didn't recognize.
"Bob? Cole?" Jim asked uncertainly. "Is it really you?"
"If it ain't we're having the same hallucination." Tori whispered.
"Dang Jim, you sure have growed." Bob said, shaking his head and hugging his little brother. "And look at you, Tori!" He hugged her too. "We left you two kids and came back to a couple of adults. Can you believe it, Cole?"
"Nope." Cole gave them one of his rare smiles. "I sure cain't. How old are you now?"
"Coleman Younger, you know we're both sixteen!" Tori said, giving him a hug. "Um, are my brothers…?"
"Frank and Jesse are both fine." Bob answered. "Well, as fine as Jesse's gonna get. Anyway, they're both at Doc Mimms."
"Webb?" Jim asked quietly.
Cole nodded sadly. "Yeah."
"Oh." Tori said quietly. She'd always been a little sweet on Webb Mimms; it was hard to believe that she'd never see him again.
"Well," Bob cast his eyes around looking to change the subject. They landed on his Indian friend. "Oh, Jim, Tori, this is our friend, Comanche Tom. Tom this is our little brother Jim and Jesse and Frank's sister Victoria."
"It's Tori." She corrected immediately. "Bob, you know I hate my name."
Cole draped his arm around her waist. "We thought you might've changed your mind in the past four years."
"I'll never change my mind. I could kill Frank for giving me that ridiculous name."
"He just wanted you to have a pretty name." Bob said. "Besides, your Ma was the one who let him and Jesse name you."
"At least Jesse gave me a normal middle name" It was true, for her middle name was simply 'Faith'. She sighed. "Well, I better get home. I wanna be there when Jesse and Frank arrive."
"We'll go with you." Cole said.
"But you just got here!" Hannah said.
"We'll be back soon." Bob assured her.
"I'm comin' too." Jim said.
"You can ride with me, Tor." Cole said. He started to help her up on his horse.
"I can get up on my own!" She snapped.
Cole held his hands up in surrender. "Hey, just trying to help."
Tori rolled her eyes. "Fine." She allowed him to help her the rest of the way up.
Cole sighed and climbed up in front of her. He'd been surprised when Tori waltzed into the kitchen behind Little Jim. He hadn't expected her to look so grown up…or so pretty.
Behind him, Tori laid her head against Cole's back. She was so glad that they had all returned safely and she wondered when Cole had gotten so handsome. Not that it mattered. It didn't matter. No, he wasn't even that handsome. Just a little bit handsome. Yep, just a little.
A Few Hours Later-
"Here they come!" Jim said.
Tori and her Ma hurried outside as Frank and Jesse tethered their horses.
"My boys!" Ma James was saying, nearly hysterical. "My boys are alive!" She pulled them into a neck breaking hug.
"Not if you don't ease up a bit, Ma." Frank said, pulling free to hug Tori.
"Good Lord, Tori, look at you!" He held her out at arms length. "You've just gotten prettier and prettier."
Tori giggled, feeling her cheeks grow warm. "You're only saying that because you're my brother."
"He is." Jesse told her jokingly, wrapping her in a hug. "You're not that pretty."
Jesse opened his mouth to reply, but his Ma cut him off.
"Tori, why don't you go put something nice on for your brothers?"
"Ma-aa." Tori glanced down at her brown canvas pants and blue shirt, cast offs of her brothers'. "What's wrong with this, huh?"
"You look like a rag muffin. Go put on one of those pretty dresses that Zee gave you."
Tori sighed, rolled her eyes, and stomped inside their small house.
"And comb your hair!" Her mother called after her. She shook her head. "That girl. Oh well. Now did you boys kill plenty of Yankee's?"
"A fair number, Ma." Jesse told her.
"And say your prayers?"
"Every night, Ma." Frank replied.
"Good. Now go wash up for supper."
In her small bedroom, Tori was digging through her trunk, trying to find one of her dresses. She finally pulled out a white one, with tiny pink flowers. It was slightly wrinkled, but she didn't figure her brothers would mind. She pulled it over her head, and then ran a hairbrush through her hair, tying it back with a pink ribbon.
Tori searched all over the room, trying to find her nice shoes. "Ma!" She finally called. "Do you know where my good shoes are?"
"I didn't wear 'em last, Victoria, you did. Where did you take 'em off?"
"I don't know!"
"Well, don't worry 'bout it. Just come on so the boys can eat."
Tori rolled her eyes and glanced down at her feet. She'd let Zee paint her toenails a faint rose color a few days before. She knew that the boys would tease her if they saw it.
"Victoria James!" Her mother called. "We're waitin'!"
"Jeez Louise! I'm comin'"
Tori took a deep breath and walked out into the main room.
"There now." Her Ma said. "You look so pretty. Doesn't she look pretty, boys?"
They all hastened to answer.
Tori rolled her eyes. "I look like a curtain."
No one disagreed. So she just rolled her eyes again and listened to her brothers and cousins as they told stories about the war. She didn't notice Cole sneaking peaks at her.
He didn't think she looked like a curtain, you can count on that.