TITLE: The Truth of Things
AUTHOR: Mnemosyne

Disclaimer: Not mine!
SUMMARY: Lou tried to remember the last time she'd been this content... Lou/Kid.
RATING: PG
CHARACTERS: Lou/Kid, Cody, Jimmy
SPOILERS: Set sometime during Season Two, after "Requiem for a Hero."
NOTES:
A truly pathetic little offering, but I desperately needed to write some Kid/Lou. So I offer it to y'all, and hope you don't choke on it. :)


"You ever wish sometimes we didn't know the truth about Lou, Jimmy? You know, that she's a girl and all?"

Jimmy snorted at Cody's question, running a cloth over the barrel of his Colt revolver. "Yeah," he said. "Whenever it gets too damn hot to sleep in longjohns."

"I don't mean like that," Cody rebutted.

"How you mean then?"

"I mean you ever wish we didn't know Lou was a girl so we wouldn't have to see her and the Kid fawning over each other like a couple of lovesick puppies?"

Jimmy smirked at the blonde man who sat beside him on the porch. "Jealous, Cody?"

"Nauseous more like," Cody corrected him, then made a face. "Aw, for cryin' out loud. Can't they go find themselves a room or somethin'?"

Jimmy followed the other man's gaze and saw Lou and the Kid sitting in the shade beside the station's barn. Kid had his back propped up against the wall, legs stretched out across the ground. Lou was straddling his lap, sitting on his knees with his arms looped around her waist. They were laughing and chatting, and a good half of Kid's face was covered in shaving foam that Lou was dutifully stripping away with a straight razor.

"What's she doing?" Jimmy asked, squinting at the pair through the early morning light.

"Shavin' him, genius," Cody complained. "Or ain't you got the eyes the Lord gave you?"

"Why's she doin' that?"

"Cause they're sparkin', and that's the kind of thing couples do."

Jimmy snickered, casting a glance in Cody's direction. It wasn't hard to see the other man was sulking, no doubt from the lack of attention. "Maybe if you asked nice, she'd shave you, too," he suggested, smirking at Cody's answering glare.

"I told you already, I ain't jealous!" Cody argued. Then, as an afterthought, "Besides, the Kid'd kill me, and I don't fancy dyin' just yet."

"Okay, fine," Jimmy relented. "You ain't jealous."

"Thank you."

"And I ain't got a hair trigger and a bad attitude," the gunslinger added under his breath.

Cody glared at him again. "Shut up, Jimmy."

"Only if you promise to do the same," Jimmy chuckled, turning back to his guns.

----------------

"Lou, I can do this myself," Kid said, giving her one of those knee-melting smiles that always lit up his face like a chandelier. "You don't gotta help me."

"I know I don't gotta," Lou teased, tapping him on the nose. "I want to. 'Sides, I let you do it and you're liable to put a nick in that pretty face of yours." She gave him an affectionate smile, running her knuckles down the smooth cheek she'd already shaved. "Wouldn't want that, now would we?"

Kid blushed under her hand, making her grin wider. "I've been shaving myself for years, Lou," he reminded her.

"I know. But you didn't have me then. Now shush up." Dipping the razor in a small basin of warm water resting by her knee, she went back to grazing the blade over his skin.

It was still relatively early in the morning, and the shadow they were sitting in was dark and deep as the sun made its slow progression up through the sky on the other side of the building. The shade just served to highlight the blue of Kid's eyes and the white of his teeth every time he smiled at her, which was often. Lou couldn't help but smile back. It was silly, really; she'd been through a lot of tough times in her life, things that ought to make a girl hard as stone; but all it took was one little smile, or a twinkle in the Kid's blue eyes, and she turned to putty.

Letting her mind wander, Lou tried to remember the last time she'd been this content. It took a stretch, but she decided it was probably back before Mama died. Thinking back to those halcyon days of yore conjured up a warm glow in her belly and brought a smile to her face, just like when she spent time with Kid. Sure, the shadow of Boggs had always hung like a black cloud over the little family, but they'd also had Christmases and birthdays and warm summer nights spent sleeping on the porch swing, listening to the crickets. It wasn't much different now, come to think of it, except sleeping on the porch swing had been replaced by sleeping cuddled up in Kid's arms, listening to his heartbeat drown out the crickets.

She wondered if Mama would have liked Kid, and quickly decided it was a dumb question. Mama would have loved Kid. She would have adopted him into the family immediately and made him feel right at home. Mama'd been around enough bad men to recognize a good one, and Kid was about as good as they came. Hard-headed to a fault and stubborn as a mule, with an idealistic streak that was always putting him in harm's way; but good. There was no guile in that bright smile; it was one hundred percent genuine. Sometimes that scared Lou, truth be told. How did a body survive in this day and age, being so honest all the live-long day? It seemed she'd spent most of her own life lying to everybody about some thing or another; there were times she wondered if she even remembered how to tell the honest truth without having to give it conscious effort.

Kid didn't believe in lying, and the few times Lou'd seen him do it, he'd ended up in the worst kinds of trouble. She knew he had secrets – all of them did – but having secrets wasn't the same as lying. Someday she'd ask him about those secrets, and come the day he was comfortable with the notion, she knew he'd tell her. That was the kind of man he was. It took a lot to earn his trust, but once he gave it, he gave it without question. And he kept giving it, too, which was most miraculous of all. Even after people had used his trust and stomped it into the ground – she had a brief, painful memory of Jed – he still somehow managed to pick himself up and go right back to trusting like a blindhearted fool; only he wasn't blind, and he most assuredly wasn't a fool.

Loud didn't think she could ever be that open around people; not even Kid himself. There was always going to be a piece of her that was convinced he would betray her, now matter how ridiculous the idea was. Kid wouldn't betray her anymore than he'd sell Katy to a glue factory. He loved her, for better or worse, and she was just going to have to stop focusing on the "or worse" for part.

One thing was for certain: if she'd been in Kid's place, she wouldn't have liked the idea of anyone's hand holding a straight razor to her throat. Not even someone she loved.

Kid didn't seem to mind. He had his eyes closed and a small smile on his face as she finished scraping the last of the shaving foam from his neck, rinsing the razor in the basin. "You got good hands for this, Lou," he said with a contented sigh.

Lou chuckled, picking up the towel that was tucked between their stomachs and using it to clean away the remnants of shaving cream on his face. "Just this?"

He opened his eyes and grinned at her; she felt her cheeks flush. "And other things," he amended, playfully squeezing her waist.

"And don't you forget it," she teased, trying to get rid of her blush by taking the offensive.

"You're going to have to keep reminding me."

"That shouldn't be a problem."

Kid smiled and waited for her to lay the towel aside before he pulled her down against his chest. She tucked her head under his chin, closing her eyes and listening to his steady breathing. Neither one of them was scheduled to ride, and they'd decided to spend the day doing absolutely nothing worthwhile: no chores, no errands, no thrilling heroics. They were going to forget about being Express riders for a day and just focus on being with each other. Lou knew that should bother her – should make her feel crowded and claustrophobic – but he was warm and strong beneath her, and she found she just couldn't muster the energy. It was hard to feel crowded by a man with eyes as blue as the wide open sky.

"Lou? You asleep?"

His voice was a soft murmur by her ear. "Mmm, nope," she said, snuggling closer. "Just comfortable." She pressed her face into the collar of his favorite blue shirt, breathing deeply. "You smell nice."

He laughed quietly. "I'm supposed to say that to you," he reminded her, combing his fingers through her hair.

Lou shrugged, squeezing her knees around his hips. "Don't see why we can't say it to each other." She raised her head and gave him a lazy smile, watching his face through hooded eyes. "Specially seeing as it's the truth and all."

Kid nodded in silent agreement, cupping her face in his calloused palm and rubbing his thumb across her cheekbone. Lou smiled at him, leaning into the touch.

"I love you, Lou," he murmured, for no other reason than he wanted her to know.

If he'd been any other man at any other time, she would have panicked. It didn't matter that he'd said it to her dozens of times since Redford station; she still would have panicked. Because when a body'd seen the things Lou'd seen, and lived through the things she'd lived through, it made proclamations of love hard to swallow. But everything about the Kid was so genuine, she couldn't even tell herself he was lying. I was futile to even try.

"I love you, too," she murmured, and meant it.

His answering smile was even brighter than his eyes. It would never cease to amaze her how much he smiled every time she told him she loved him; almost like he was afraid she'd change her mind someday. He was a damn fool if he believed any such thing. Saying she loved him was the one truth she didn't mind telling over and over again.

-----------------------------

"Jimmy, go make 'em stop."

Jimmy rolled his eyes in frustration. Cody hadn't stopped whining the whole time he'd been on the porch, and it was taxing on Hickok's last nerve. "Cody, you want them to knock it off, you go tell 'em. I ain't your dogsbody."

"They keep kissin' on each other!"

"So? Ain't you the one who keeps trying to catch 'em dancin' by peeking through that old knothole in the barn, back by Katy's stall?"

"I don't do any such thing, and I'm offended you'd suggest it."

"Cody, we all seen you doin' it."

"Have not! How?"

"'Cause nobody ever taught you stealth apparently."

"I'll have you know I move like a cat. And anyway, that's all completely unrelated."

"Cody, do you ever listen to yourself?"

"Sure I do. I need to depend on somebody for some decent conversation."

"All right then. Repeat after me. I, William F. Cody, am an idiot."

"You wound me, Jimmy."

"Not yet, but you keep whining and I'll think about it. Honest truth."

THE END