A PALE IMITATION

By: Lesera128

Rated: M

Disclaimer: I own nothing. HBO and David Milch do. Take anything official up with them.

Summary: Sol Star wasn't the only person who played a major role in Seth Bullock's life during his time in Montana and afterwards. This is a continuation of her story... Approximately one year after Allie Mitchell told Sol Star it was her intention to come to Deadwood, she arrives in camp to settle issues of both a professional and personal nature.

This story is a continuation of events as detailed in the story "The Fourth Type of Woman." It also represents a slight deviation from the canon of Deadwood at some point during the first episode of Season Two, but tries to stay as close as possible to canon before that point. AU.

A/N: By the very nature of the television show from which the story is derived, this story contains (some would say excessive) profanity, adult situations, adult themes, etc. Be warned.


Allie Mitchell wasn't exactly sure how she felt. Upon her arrival in camp a little less than twenty-four hours ago, things had been going just fine for her, just as she'd planned as a matter of fact.

Now, things were anything but.

She had been settled into her room at the Grand Central Hotel easily enough. The hotel was a bit dingy by Allie's standards, but its location made it the best choice given the nature of her business in the camp. Upon checking in, Allie had been assigned, somewhat coincidentally, to room #3. Although the room number (or more importantly the number of the room of her neighbor) held no significance for Allie at that particular point in time, it would later be of great import for Allie.

Prior to her realization of who occupied room #2, Allie had simply been waiting for the prearranged time she was supposed to travel to Chinese Alley to complete her final business transaction with Wu on behalf of her San Francisco employers. Only after her official business was settled did Allie plan of taking care of some personal matters which had contributed to her delaying for so long in accepting courrier jobs which would have necessitated an earlier arrival in Deadwood.

Allie's personal business, business which she had been waiting almost three years to settle, was distracting her more than she had anticipated. From the very first moment she had arrived in camp, Seth Bullock's presence was overwhelming. Every where she looked, she easily detected signs of his influence on the camp - from the large sign which hung above his hardware store on Main Street to the hushed whispers of various miners quietly settling their own disputes lest they attract the sheriff's intervention.

In and of itself, this particular discomfort made her unsettled and distracted. Given the delicate nature of her business in camp, Allie worried she would not be able to successfully complete the transaction with Wu unless she had her wits about her. She also knew that she could only focus all her attention on getting Wu's merchandise delivered promptly and securely if she stopped feeling so damn unnerved at merely being in the same camp as Seth Bullock.

Allie desperately worried that, somehow, things would go utterly and inexplicably wrong if she wasn't very careful, especially concerning the how and where of when Allie planned to finally confront Seth Bullock. Allie knew exactly what she wanted to say to Bullock when she finally saw him after three years, but she wasn't sure if her nervousness and anxiety wouldn't get in the way of her dedicated plans. Above all, Allie knew that no matter how it happened, until she put her past with Seth Bullock behind her, she knew she would never truly be able to move on in life until she learned to let go of some of the extreme hatred and disgust she felt whenever she merely thought of him. As such, on the few times she had left her room to get food and such, Allie had been careful to navigate around the camp, always being on the look out for Bullock. When she was ready for him to see her, he would, and not a goddamn second before.

In trying to figure out the best time and place to confront Bullock, Allie determined she was in need of more information. She also believed the best way to get that information was to pay a visit to an old friend.

As evening dawned, after a few discrete inquiries from anonymous, but well-paid sources, Allie learned that Bullock had up and left camp for the night. He was not expected back in camp until morning. The past couple of weeks he had spent on the western ridge where, Allie had been told, he spent most of his free time constructing a new house that was supposedly for his wife and son. However, as Allie felt physically ill every time she thought of Martha Bullock, she tried to keep those particular thoughts to a minimum.

Deciding that it was as good a time as any to pay her social call, Allie headed towards the hardware store. Her foot faltered only slightly as she crossed the threshold. Allowing her eyes a moment to adjust to the dim lamp light that illuminated the store, Allie heard Sol speak first before she saw him.

"Welcome to Star and Bullock Hardware. How can I be of service this evening?"

Sol spoke before he really got a good look at the young woman who had entered the store. He came out from behind the counter, and upon second glance, he thought there was something vaguely familiar about the woman who was hovering in the store's entrance. As she had not yet come forward into the light of the store, her face was somewhat silhouetted in the backlight provided by the evening's darkness as it descended upon the camp's thoroughfares. Sol could tell that the woman wasn't particularly tall but neither was she short. She was of average weight, although he also noticed that she was probably deceptively stronger than her small frame seemed to impart on first glance. Dressed in a cream colored shirt, dark brown leather jacket, dark brown trousers, and scuffed brown hip boots, her clothes had the dusty and worn look of one who was often on the trail. She had dark brown hair that was pulled into a messy braid over which she wore a standard tan hat. It was only as she took a further step into the store and removed her hat that Sol stopped in shock, looking almost as if he had seen a ghost. His stunned expression was concentrated on her light brown eyes.

Allie wasn't sure how pleasing it was to her when she saw Sol Star stare at her for a full moment, obviously at a complete loss for words. He paled somewhat, surprise evident upon his face, as he tried to find the proper words with which to greet her.

"Allie?" He managed to question at last in a voice which wavered with doubt and uncertainty.

Smiling her sweet smile, Allie nodded at the shopkeep. "Evening, Sol."

His eyebrows lifted in surprise as the shock at seeing her finally dissipated to be replaced with a more exuberant emotion. A further smile played at the corner of his mouth. He nodded once again as he said, "Allie, is it really you?"

"In the flesh."

As soon as she spoke, Sol moved forward, somewhat quickly, although not too quickly that Allie couldn't have stopped him if she hadn't felt comfortable. Sol swept toward her in only a couple of steps, gathering her up into his arms. Giving her a gigantic squeeze as he lifted her slightly off the floor, Sol held her so tight that Allie was afraid she wasn't going to be able breath before he suddenly put her down. He face was all light up with a genuine smile as he nodded at her.

"Well, well, look what the cat dragged in..."

Allie smiled. "It's good to see you too, Sol."

Sol nodded. "It's been a long time, Allie."

"Yeah, a long time," Allie nodded in agreement.

Sol pursed his lips he crossed his arms and contemplated her response. "I've missed you," he said at last with another smile.

Allie returned his grin with one of her own as she said, "I've missed you too, Sol."

"We don't get much news from home unless it's bad," Sol said. "But, from what...what we had last heard from John and Callie, you seemed to have disappeared... What? Almost a year ago?"

Allie was quiet for a moment before she shrugged in response. "More or less, I suppose." She then stopped and added in a softer tone, "I didn't feel comfortable staying there once I had figured things out and gotten my head on straight. It was just too awkward, you know? It didn't seem right, and for as good as John and Callie have always been to me, I just couldn't stay. It just didn't seem proper to me given how things turned out between... Well, given how things turned out."

Sol nodded slowly. He then smiled again to deflect the weariness that was threatening to encroach upon the pair. "So what have you been up to all this time?"

Allie shrugged, as she drew her hat back onto her head. "Oh, you know, a little bit of this, a little bit of that... just trying to do enough to earn my keep, really."

"Still sewing?" Sol asked as he reached into his pocket and withdrew a loose button. Holding it up he said, "Because if you are, I know at least one customer in Deadwood who would be more than happy to be able to pay a good seamstress for some help in replacing all his loose shirt buttons."

Allie smiled as she grabbed the button. "Got a needle and some thread?"

Sol nodded with a laugh. "Yeah, somewhere."

"Bring it on out, and I'll have it patched back on your shirt in no time," Allie said. "I admit that sewing isn't really how I get along these days, but for you, I'll make an exception."

Sol continued to smile as he turned around and walked back behind the counter before he began to rummage for a needle and some thread.

"So, what brings you to Deadwood?" He asked offhandedly. "Staying long?"

Allie crossed her arms as she shrugged. "Not too sure about the how long part. I've got some business in these parts to transact. I don't really know how long that will take."

Sol's head suddenly popped up from behind the counter as he held up a needle and a spool of thread in triumph. Allie smiled as she reached out her hand to take the proffered items.

"That business have anything to do with prospecting? Because if it does, I happen to know the owners of Star and Bullock Hardware on a very personal basis, and I'm sure I could get you an excellent rate on some mining gear," Sol continued.

It was then he noticed that Allie's face had fallen slightly at his words. However, Allie seemed to quickly recover, ignoring his look of concern, and saying with somewhat of a forced air of nonchalance, "No, I'm not much of a mind to do any prospecting. My business in Deadwood is more of a merchantile nature, you could say."

"I'm sorry, Allie," Sol said quietly. "I didn't mean to-"

"What?" Allie said waving him off. "You think just hearing his name is something I can't handle?"

Sol was quiet for a moment before he said. "No, I just didn't want to unnecessarily bring up bad memories."

Allie waved him off. "It's nothing, Sol. I'm fine. Really."

"He misses you, you know," Sol said softly. "I don't think he'd ever admit it to anyone, not even himself, but ever since the day he gave me that letter and asked me to bring it to you, I think he started to change."

"What do you mean?" Allie asked, more out of curiosity than anything else. "Change how?"

Sol was quiet for a moment before he said, "Let me put it to you this way. In the past year, Seth has seen a very good friend die in a very violent way, and as a consequence, he's been forced into a job he never wanted especially after he thought he had left that lifestyle behind in Montana."

"So you're saying that he's the camp's sheriff then?" Allie asked with interest.

Sol nodded. "Among other things." He paused before he said, "But him having to put on the badge again really isn't the issue."

"Then what is the issue, Sol?" Allie asked.

Sol sighed. "Ever since Hickok's death, Seth hasn't been the same. Deep down, he's still a good man, but he's become angrier, more... volatile than I've ever seen him."

"Volatile?" Allie asked incredulously. "You're telling me you'd use the word 'volatile' to describe the Seth Bullock?"

"The Seth Bullock that you and I used to know? Would I describe him as volatile?" Sol asked.

Allie nodded.

In response, Sol slowly shook his head. "No, not him," Sol said. He paused before he looked up at Allie and added, "But Sheriff Seth Bullock of Deadwood? Yeah, him I would describe as volatile. Very volatile." Sol looked at Allie as she began to thread the needle. "He seems to have lost his way, Allie... Now, that's not to say that Seth Bullock isn't still one of the finest and most honorable men I've ever known, and I'm still very proud to call him my friend and business partner, but he's changed."

"What? Married life not all he thought it would be?" Allie said, a trace of bitterness tingeing her comments.

"No, I reckon married life has turned out exactly how Seth's wanted it to be. He hasn't seen Martha more than once or twice since they married. She's been living in Michigan with her folks while we went about setting shop up out here. He has plans to send for her and William once the house he's building for them is finished, but suffice to say, living his own life as a married man has turned out to be more complicated for him than I think he ever anticipated - especially since he let you go," Sol finished.

Allie immediately stabbed her finger with the needle, whether intentionally or not she couldn't rightly say, but the curse that spewed out of her mouth made Sol grin.

"Learned some new vocabulary on the road?" Sol asked.

"A bit," Allie admitted. "I pricked my finger. It hurt. When I hurt nowadays, I let people know it."

Sol nodded and was quiet as he turned around so that Allie could finish sewing his shirt button back on. Within a minute, she was done as was signified when she handed the needle and spool of thread back to Sol.

"There you go."

Sol smiled again, and said, "Thank you."

Allie nodded. "I'm staying at the Grand Central for the next few days, room number 3 if you've a mind to drop in on me."

"Why don't you come by the store tomorrow, and we'll go for a ride?" Sol said. "I've missed talking to you, Allie."

Allie smiled. "I'd like that, but, all things considered, I've been keeping mostly to myself until I finish transacting my business." She paused and looked up at Sol as she said, "I'm sure you understand as to why I prefer to try and avoid any place Sheriff Bullock is going to be."

"You don't plan on seeing him?" Sol inquired.

"Not before I'm goddamn good and ready," Allie admitted honestly.

"Then the only place you probably won't see him is if you do stay barricaded in your hotel room-" Sol said absentmindedly as he reached up and scratched his chin before he carefully adding as a deliberate afterthought, "Than I think it only fair to let you know that Seth has, as of late, been spending a fair amount of time at the Grand Central."

Allie narrowed her eyes as she said, "Oh? Why's that?"

"I don't know how to put this delicately, so I'll just come straight out and say it, Allie. You have a right to know more than most people in camp who already are aware of that particular bit of information, one way or another," Sol said.

"What should I know?"

"The reason why Seth has been spending so much time at the Grand Central is because he's been socially... calling upon one of your neighbors... A widow who rents room number 2, as a matter a fact."

"A widow?"

Sol nodded. "Alma Garrett."

"Seeing her in her room?"

Sol nodded again.

Even though Allie already knew the answer, she asked, "Why?"

Sol shrugged. "Loneliness? Boredom? A desire to avoid fucking one of the brothel whores? Who knows? I sure as hell don't... Although," Sol paused for a moment before he said, "Although if you want my honest opinion, I think it might have something to do with the fact that the widow Garrett has dark hair and dark eyes, but you didn't hear that from me."

Allie felt her ire rise as she held up a hand in protest and ssaid, "Wait. Wait. You mean to tell me he's fucking someone who looks like me?"

Sol held up his own hand in supplication. "Now, did I say that?"

"No, no you didn't," Allie said, moving her hand to caress the ivory white pistol that rested in her gun belt. "But then again, you really didn't have to as you were never a man of many words, Sol."

Leaning forward, she gave him a quick peck on the cheek. "Thanks for the warning. I'll be in touch."

Sol nodded, and as he watched Allie go, he said somewhat jokingly. "What are you going to do if you see him, Allie? Shoot him?"

Allie stopped and carefully turned around as she said with the raise of her eyebrow, "I've heard of worse ideas."

The grin that was on Sol's face immediately turned into a frown as Allie tipped her hat to him. "Night, Sol."

As she returned to the hotel, Allie retrieved her key from the front desk, ignoring the inquiring looks that EB Farnum was giving her. Not saying a word, she quickly mounted the stairs, entered her room, and bedded down for the night with no disturbances emanating from the room next door.

Up until that point, things had been going just as Allie had planned at least until she was rudely awakened at daybreak by the sound of a creaking mattress and heavy breathing. The loud noises very quickly made their way through the paper-thin walls of her hotel room causing Allie to bolt straight up in bed, her eyes immediately snapping open.

It took Allie a moment to remember where she was. She had been dreaming again, and although she couldn't exactly remember what the dream had been about, she could vividly recall who had been in the dream with her. And, more importantly, she could recall just how wonderful the things he had been doing to her in the dream had felt. Instantly, Allie flushed warm with shame and self-disgust which quickly turned to anger as she silent berated herself in allowing her subconscious to have such dreams. A part of her foggy brain wondered if the dream had been triggered by the soundtrack which had been provided by the pair in action in the next room. She then muttered a string of explicatives as the haze of morning grogginess which was clinging to her brain quickly faded away, and she realized the significance of who was doing what in the room next door.

Allie's first instinct was to shout out some explicative conveying her displeasure at be awakened so early. Her second instinct was to bury her head under her pillow and force herself back to sleep. However, taking hold of her anger, it was her third inclination which Allie actually followed as common sense prevailed. Logic dictated to Allie that if Seth were busy fucking Alma Garrett in the next room, than he also wouldn't be out roaming Deadwood. It was the opportune time for Allie to make her final delivery to Wu, unfettered and unencumbered by her inconvenient distractions as prompted by her own unstable emotions. Within the span of a few moments, Allie quickly dressed and slipped out of her room.

She had made it downstairs and past EB Farnum's desk when she suddenly realized that she had forgotten a pouch of important credentials which Wu would be expecting later that morning. She wouldn't be able to transact her business without them. Allie cursed again as she realized she'd have to go back. Reluctantly, she turned around and walked back into the hotel foyer.

Cursing to herself again, Allie hurriedly rushed up the stairwell to her room, trying to move as fast as humanly possible. It was only then that she realized that her efforts at avoid Bullock had turned out to be in vain as she saw him exit Garrett's room. Allie glanced up in horror as she saw Seth put on his hat and start down the same stairs which Allie was trying to mount. Allie was so surprised at seeing Seth that she barely realized that she was going to lose her balance just as the world started to spin. She made one last grab for the railing, and her eyes widened in shock as she came to clutch nothing but air in her firm grip. Allie's eyes then locked with those of a shocked Seth Bullock for the briefest seconds before she lost her balance in surprise and went tumbling down the stairs.

Yes, that was definitely the point where things started to get out of control. As Allie fell into unconscious, she could have sworn that Seth had called her name. However, if someone had asked her if she were willing to bet money on that certitude, she wouldn't have put two nickels on betting in the affirmative. Frustration and pain gripping her body, as Allie laid sprawled out at the bottom of one of the Grand Central's main staircases, she cursed every fucking thing she could think of (Seth Bullock included) before she passed out from the pain.


Seth Bullock had to blink twice. At first, when he saw the woman in front of him, her presence on the stairs was somewhat insignificant to him given the thoughts which currently occupied his mind. Thus far, his morning was going well. He had delivered to Alma Garret certain papers regarding the handling of her gold claim. In addition, Bullock had had the added pleasure of some alone time with Alma following the conclusion of their business consultations as Sophia's tutor had already taken her downstairs for breakfast before their morning lessons. Even though it was early, he believed that the day might just turn out to be one of the better ones he had had as of late. Seth smiled as he thought that today might just be a good day after all.

Thus, as distracted as he was in his own thoughts, Bullock didn't think twice about the woman on the stairs as he began his descent aside. He merely registered the fact that he was going downstairs, and she was going upstairs at the same time, and that one of them was going to have to move as they both couldn't occupy the same stretch of space at the same time. Moving aside as an act of courtesy, Seth shifted his position just enough so that he noticed when he saw the woman begin to loose her balance. Everything seemed to slow down to a snail's crawl as he saw her hand move forward, try to grasp the railing, and in turn, come up with only empty air. As she fell backwards, Seth locked eyes with the woman. At the same second she began to fall, he realized who she was.

Logic dictated that Seth was seeing things. And, as painful as it was for him to admit, there really was no way that he could find a legitimate reason as to why Allie Mitchell would be in Deadwood when she was supposed to be somewhere in Montana, years married to a loving husband, and mother to his many children. All that aside, Seth couldn't figure out why, if Allie was in Deadwood for some legitimate reason, that she would be by herself, in a place like the Grand Central Hotel, dressed in leathers, boots, with a cowboy hat on her head and a six shooter in a gun holster clasped around her waist.

However, most importantly, the one thought that irked him more than anything was that everything else aside, if it really was Allie, than why hadn't he known about it before now?

By the time he raced down the stairs to kneel next to Allie's crumpled form as it lay in a heap a the bottom of the landing, EB Farnum came rushing out from behind the desk.

"Oh, my, the miss fell."

Bullock bit back a retort, and looked up at Farnum. "Yeah, she did."

"Do you think I should go and get the doctor?"

Seth narrowed his gaze so that Farnum squirmed before replying, "What do you think?"

"I think that would be an excellent idea," EB squeaked before grabbing his hat off the desk and running out the door.

While Farnum disappeared to find Doc Cochrane, Seth was careful not to move Allie. He didn't know much about medicine, but one thing he did know was that one didn't move a person who had fallen without the Doc giving the say-so lest more damage be done after the fact that had been actually done in the fall itself.

However, Seth couldn't help himself as he gently bent down next to Allie's head. He brushed away a tendril of hair which had fallen across her forehead during the fall, confirming what his eyes had registered on the stairs. "Allie," he whispered.

Within a few moments, Cochrane came rushing in with Farnum stumbling behind him. Cochrane looked at Bullock and nodded at Allie's inert form.

"How'd it happen?"

Bullock said, "She was rushing up the stairs; I was coming down at the same time. She lost her balance, grabbed for the railing, missed, and went tumbling down."

"Anyone move her?"

Bullock shook his head.

"Good," Cochrane muttered as he gentled probed the areas around Allie's neck and back. "She didn't break her neck and her breathing's normal. That's good."

"What next?" Bullock asked.

"I need to get her somewhere where I can take a look at that bump on her head... I need to see how bad the concussion is," Cochrane said.

Noticing that several of the early breakfast diners, including Sophia and her tutor were staring at Cochrane and Bullock as they leaned over Allie's still form, Farnum pushed his way closer to Cochrane. He quickly interjected, as he pointed upstairs, "Perhaps her room would be convenient? She is staying in #3, after all."

Slowly, Cochrane nodded. "All right, but someone's going to have to have to help me move her."

"I'll do it," Seth responded immediately.

Cochrane looked at the sheriff, saw the seriousness in his eyes, and nodded slowly. "Watch her head as you go up. Try to keep it as still as possible."

Bullock nodded again as he bent to pick Allie up in his arms. He grimaced as he brought her to his chest. She still didn't weigh more than a hundred pounds soaking wet, and as Bullock carefully moved up the stairs, he could smell the faint scent of roses as he breathed in her fragrance. His throat clenched slightly as he recalled that the smell of roses was a part of her scent, apparently even now, despite the fact that it had been three years or more since last he'd seen her. Allie had always washed using Callie's soap which Seth's sister had always scented with rose oil herself.

Farnum had rushed ahead of Bullock, but he was still fumbling with his key to Allie's room by the time Seth had reached the top of the landing. As Bullock intensified his gaze of annoyance at Farnum, the hotel owner began to fumble with the keys even more.

"Would you please open the fucking door?" Bullock at last ground out.

With a click, Farnum somehow managed to comply. He pushed the door open, gave Bullock another sheepish smile, and then quickly disappeared. Bullock walked forward slowly. Just before he entered the room, Bullock heard another door open causing his head to snap in the direction of the noise. He immediately saw that Alma Garrett had peaked out her door, took one glance at the image of Bullock holding an unconscious Allie in his arms, and then quickly pushed the door shut. Bullock frowned, but put the thought from his mind. The one thing he didn't need at the current moment was questions from the woman who everyone else in Deadwood now considered his de facto mistress. He would deal with her later.

Entering the bedroom, Bullock placed Allie gently on the bed, turning her so that she lay on her side. Bullock then moved away as Cochrane came forward and began to tend to her. Poking and prodding, the Doc made a thorough examination. He paid close attention to the giant knot that was swelling at the base of Allie's skull. At last, he stood up from the bed, reached into his bag, and withdrew a small bottle.

"It doesn't seem to be anything too serious... Just a bad bump on the head. She'll have a hell of a headache when she wakes up, but the skull isn't fractured, and she doesn't have any broken bones, so she should feel better in a few days," Cochrane said as he put the bottle he was holding down on the table next to the bed. "Someone will need to sit with her until she wakes up just in case... I've known on the rare occasion for seizures to happen after a bad fall like this. But as long as she wakes up, she should be fine."

"I'll do it," Seth volunteered immediately.

Cochrane nodded. "Good. You need to keep a cold compress on the back of her skull until she wakes up to keep the swelling down. If she wakes up and the pain is too much for her, dose her with a couple of sips of this." He pointed at the bottle. "It'll help."

Bullock narrowed his eyes. "What is that?"

"Laudanum, diluted. Should take the edge off the headache she's sure to have," Cochrane said. "I'll come back to check on her tomorrow."

Bullock nodded. Cochrane gathered his bag and then left the room.

At last alone with Allie, Bullock sat on the edge of the bed, merely looking at her inert form. Aside from holding the compress on the back of her skull, Bullock was unsure what to do, and so merely sat and watched her. After almost an hour had passed, Seth removed the compress and placed it on the bed's nightstand. It was only when he stood that Bullock at last saw the glint of something just inside Allie's shirt. Figuring that it must have been pull loose when the Doc had conducted his examination, Bullock reached forward out of mere instinctual curiosity.

Only a couple of buttons of Allie's shirt were loose, but it was more than enough to reveal that glint of gold that hung about her neck. Somewhat hesitantly, Bullock gently reached into Allie's shirt and deftly pulled out the gold chain. Bullock immediately felt his throat tighten as he recognized the necklace and the gold band which was threaded through it.

'Damn,' Bullock thought for a moment, fingering the chain.

Distracted as he was, Bullock didn't notice that Allie's breathing had changed. Her voice cracked the air before she opened her eyes.

In a very low voice, Allie growled, "Get your goddamn hands off of me."

Jumping back slightly, Bullock's first response was habitual as he said, "Allie, it's..."

Allie's eyes snapped open. Raising her hand, Bullock initially thought she was only going to pull the necklace from his grasp. Instead, Allie's hand connected with the soft flesh of Bullock's cheek in a stinging slap. Bullock's eyes widened in surprise as he realized what Allie had done.

In turn, Allie said at last, "I know who it is." She fashioned her gaze on Bullock. "And I believe I told you to get your goddamn hands off of me NOW."

Bullock, surprised by her gruff response, immediately dropped the necklace.

The pair stared at each other for a moment, intense hate and displeasure... and perhaps a small glint of something which Allie was desperately trying to keep hidden even from herself, burned in her eyes. Bullock did his best to keep the bewilderment, guilt, shame, and sadness from his.

After the pair had spent several moments staring at each other, Bullock at last stood up and broke the silence. "Doc's been by. You fell, but he said you'll be fine if you keep cold compresses on your head."

"That all?"

Bullock nodded at the bottle which was on the bed's nightstand. "He said take a mouthful of that if the headache gets to bad in the next day or so."

Allie turned her head slowly and looked at the bottle. She spat in disgust, "What is it? Laudanum?"

Bullock nodded in the affirmative.

"I don't want it."

"All the same, the Doc left it here in case you need it. He said he'd be by tomorrow to look in on you," Bullock finished.

"Fine," Allie said as she sat up and immediately wished she hadn't as the world began to swim in front of her. She suddenly felt nauseous and began to dry heave.

Bullock was faster than she was and as he grabbed the washing basin which stood on the dresser. He held it down in front of her as she began to wretch what little she had in her stomach.

After a few minutes, once Allie was done throwing up, Bullock moved to the dresser and rewet the cloth he had been using as a compress earlier. Handing it to her, Allie used it to wipe at her mouth. When she was done, Bullock handed her a glass of water. Allie reluctantly took it, refusing to look Bullock in the eye, as she said nothing.

At last, Bullock spoke. "If you're going to do that again, some warning would be nice."

"It's not like I fucking planned it," Allie said, looking up at him.

"You in pain?"

The dull ache which was emanating from the base of her skull was too much for Allie to lie about. Honestly, she said roughly, "My head hurts, and I still fell like I am going to throw up yesterday's breakfast if things don't stop spinning pretty soon."

"Keep the compress on your head," Bullock told her. "It'll help."

Allie looked at Bullock and said, "Who the fuck asked you?"

Immediately Seth felt his anger flare, and before he realized what he was saying, he asked, "I'm sorry, but what exactly have I done to deserve all this goddamn hostility of yours?"

Her eyes widened a bit at the audacity of his words, however, Allie remained quiet as she knew she was in no shape to fight with Bullock, even verbally. Instead, Allie merely turned her head away from Bullock as she asked in resignation, "Why are you still here?"

"The Doc asked someone to sit with you until you woke up. I told him I'd do it," Seth responded simply.

Despite the fact it made the world swim and subsequently made her sick to her stomach, Allie nodded in response. "Fine. You've done that. Why are you still here?"

"I don't know," Seth said.

"Will you please get the fuck out of my room now? I'd like to be by myself," Allie said with a sigh.

Bullock opened his mouth to say something, but stopped himself mid-sentence. Instead, he grabbed his hat from where he had earlier placed it on a chair, put it on his head, and walked out the door.

It was only when the door slammed shut that Allie at last fell back onto the bed and began to cry.


Al Swearengen was standing on the balcony of the Gem Saloon, sipping his morning cup of coffee. He began his morning as he often did, drinking coffee and watching the various goings on of Deadwood as it began to go about its daily affairs. Swearengen watched with interest as he saw Doc Cochrane exit the Grand Central Hotel. A few minutes later, he wasn't surprised when EB Farnum came knocking at his door. Swearengen invited the nervous hotel owner to join him on the balcony with a curt hand gesture and greeted him simultaneously with a nod of his head.

"Morning, EB."

"Good morning, Al."

"And what has you scurrying about so close to breakfast time?" Al said as he looked at Farnum, who was shifting his weight nervously from one foot to the other and obviously waiting for Al to further prompt him to continue his tale.

At once the flood gates opened as he said, "It's been fairly busy at the hotel this morning."

"And why's that?" Swearengen asked before he took a sip of coffee. "Not another case of fuckin' plague, is it?"

Farnum shook his head.

Al countered, "Then the widow take sick again? She back on the laudanum? I saw Doc Cochrane leave a little bit ago."

Farnum shook his head again.

Swearengen sighed. "Then, what the fuck is it, EB? I don't like all these fucking guessing games."

"There's this new guest in room #3," Farnum began. "Even though she's dressed up in leathers and boots like that sewer mouth that hangs around with Charlie Utter, she's really quite pretty. She checked in yesterday morning."

"All by herself?" Al asked with interest.

Farnum nodded. "So far as I can tell. When she checked in, she said she'd be in town a few days."

"And?"

"And what, Al?" Farnum asked with confusion.

Swearengen sighed in annoyance. "And what the fuck did she need to see the Doc for?"

"Oh, that," Farnum said. "She took a nasty tumble down the stairs this morning."

"She trip?"

"So Sheriff Bullock says," Farnum answered.

Al looked up at Farnum, lowering his cup of coffee. "Bullock? What the fuck does Bullock have to do with this?"

Farnum shrugged. "He was on his way down the stairs when the young miss was going up. He saw her fall."

"Making another social call on the Widow Garrett to do some more fuckin' 'consulting'?" Swearengen said with disgust.

Farnum shrugged.

"So, did he push this girl... What's her name again?"

"Mitchell," Farnum supplied. "Allie Mitchell."

"He push this cunt down the stairs or what?"

Farnum shook his head. "No, I don't think so. But he seemed mildly perturbed over her fall. Waited with her while I went to go get Doc Cochrane, helped carry her up stairs, and was still sitting with her once the Doc left."

Swearengen took his coffee to his lips once more and sipped before he said. "Keep an eye on her, will you, EB?"

"What for, Al?"

Swearengen shrugged. "Anyone who can 'perturb' Bullock is someone I want to keep my fucking eyes on."

"Okay, Al," Farnum said nodded. "Want me to search her room?"

"If the opportunity presents itself, EB, if the opportunity presents itself."

Farnum nodded.

Swearengen sipped his coffee again before he added, "Good. Now get the fuck out."


As Seth Bullock began to furiously stomp his way down the main staircase of the Grand Central Hotel for the second time that morning, his mind was in turmoil. Acting on autopilot, he immediately found himself at the hardware store just as Sol Star was getting ready for the day's business.

Sol immediately could see that Bullock was more upset than normal by the clench of his jaw. Nevertheless, he responded cordially enough, "Morning, Seth."

Bullock shot him a look of frustrated annoyance as he began to pace the store. After he had gone back and forth the length of the store five or six times, Bullock stopped at last and looked up at Star. Sol raised an eyebrow by way of query.

At last, Seth said, "Do you know who I just saw?"

Sol sighed as he figured only seeing Allie could have disconcerted the Deadwood sheriff so easily. "If I were a betting man, I'd wager it might have been Allie Mitchell."

Bullock stopped abruptly in the middle of his renewed pacing, raised his head to Sol, and said, "Now how in the hell did you know that?"

Sighing once more, Sol said, "I saw her last night. She came by the store right before closing."

"And you didn't say a goddamn word to me?" Seth said incredulously.

Star shrugged. "She didn't want you to know she was in town until she was ready for you to know it herself."

"How could you not tell me?" Bullock said. "First I see of the woman who I lov-" Bullock immediately stopped himself and bit his lip before amending, "-the woman who was as close to me as my own sister, for the first time in over three fucking years, Sol, and when I finally do, it was just as she decided to take a tumble off one of the Grand Central's staircases."

Concern immediately flooded Sol's face. "Allie? She fell?"

Bullock nodded.

"Is she all right?"

Bullock waved a hand off. "She's fine. Just meaner than a fuckin' rattlesnake."

Sol immediately relaxed and couldn't help but smile as he said, "Funny, she seemed awfully nice to me last night."

"Oh, so it's just me that she's still pissed off at then?" Bullock asked in frustration.

Sol shrugged. "Suppose so."

"Wonderful. Just fucking wonderful," Bullock said as he turned and walked towards the store's front door. Before he exited, he turned and said, "You should have warned me, Sol."

Star was quiet for a moment before he said, "I'm sorry, Seth. But at the time, Allie's not wanting you to know she was here was more important than you knowing she was here." He paused before he added. "Still is, if you ask me."

Bullock rolled his eyes at his business partner in disgust before stepping out the front door and into the street.


A day passed before Allie felt well enough to leave her room. As he had promised, Doc Cochrane stopped in to look on her the next day.

"Still feeling poorly?" Cochrane asked.

Allie shrugged. "A bit dizzy now and then."

"Anything else?"

"Not really," Allie said. "Maybe a bit nauseous from time to time."

Cochrane looked at her quizzically. "You aren't in the family way, are you?"

Allie laughed. "If I were, we'd have bigger problems on our hands than me simply getting knocked upside the head, Doc."

"Oh?"

Allie laughed again and waved her hand dismissively. "The answer to your question is no. I had my courses two weeks ago and haven't done anything since which would warrant my next set of courses not coming again, as expected, in another two weeks."

"Ah," Cochrane said as he reached down to close his bag. "Then it's the dizziness that's causing the nausea I would suppose."

"Among other things," Allie said, thinking of Bullock and the fact that every time she started to think about their most recent exchange even in the slightest, her desire to start retching anew was almost overwhelming.

"How's that?" Cochrane asked.

Allie waved him off again. "Nothing, Doc... Just me mouthing off as usual."

Cochrane raised his eyebrows but merely said, "The swelling has gone down a bit, but I would still take it easy. No ridding... Maybe stay in bed another day or two."

Allie shook her head. "Can't do that, Doc. I've got business to attend to that I've put off for long enough."

Cochrane sighed. "Then you best go about it carefully. You take another lick like the one you took yesterday, and a spot of dizziness and nausea is going to be the least of your problems."

Allie nodded. "No riding. Got it. Shouldn't be a problem as the majority of my most pressing business is in camp. Anything else?"

"Take it easy on the whiskey for a day or two," Cochrane said. "Just in case if you do go and get liquored up, if you fall down drunk, it won't hurt you none more than it would at any other time."

"I don't drink whiskey," Allie said.

Cochrane eyed her curiously. "Then that's a real fuckin' shame for you, I'd suppose. Either way, probably best for your head." He paused before he added, "You come and see me before you leave camp. My place is on the other side of town. Ask any one, and they'll point out the way. I'll take one final look at you before you go just to make sure everything's as it should be."

Allie extended her hand. "I will, Doc. And in case I didn't say it yesterday, thank you."

Cochrane somewhat uneasily took her hand in a firm shake before dropping it quickly and exiting the room.

On his way down the stairs, Cochrane stopped when he noticed Bullock was waiting for him in the hotel lobby.

"Sheriff," Cochrane said with a nod.

"How's she doing?" Seth asked as he nodded at Allie's room.

Cochrane eyed him curiously. "Who's that?"

"Your patient from yesterday," Bullock supplied.

Cochrane shrugged. "She's awake. Why don't you ask her yourself?"

"Because I'm asking you."

Cochrane shrugged. "Fine as far as I can tell."

"Thank you," Bullock said.

Cochrane nodded and then proceeded to exit the hotel. Bullock then disappeared back into the shadows of the foyer to watch and wait.


A short time later, Allie forced herself to dress and carefully walk down the stairs. She clutched the banister on the way down so tightly that her knuckles turned white. It took her three times as long as it normally should have, but once she was on the ground floor, she felt a bit better about things. Adjusting the brim of her hat to shield her eyes from the bright sunlight, Allie stepped out and was on her way... And Seth followed.


Allie's first stop was the small boarding house that was run by Amos Smith and his wife Nancy. Inquiring about a ground floor room, Allie was immensely relieved to find out that a room would be available later in the evening. The fact that Bullock was frequenting the Grand Central and fucking Alma Garrett in the room next door to her own, combined with the creepiness of EB Farnum coming and going in her room at will, and last, but not least, the height of the hotel's stairs, resulted in Allie deciding that a change in scenery was definitively needed.

After making her arrangements, Allie then made her way to Chinese Ally. She quickly located Wu given the description her employers had provided.

"Hello Wu."

Wu narrowed his eyes at her. It was still early in the day and not many people were even about in Chinese Alley. He crossed his arms at her. Allie pointed first to him and then to herself as she said, "Now, I know you don't speak much English, and seeing as how I don't speak much Celestial, that is going to make our exchange a bit challenging, but you and I need to talk."

She pointed at him again. "You-"

She then pointed at herself. "Me-"

She then said, "Talk."

He narrowed his eyes as he inquired, "Swe'gen?"

Allie shook her head as she pointed at herself. "No, Mitchell."

"Swe'gen?" Wu repeated.

Allie shook her head again. "No. Not Swe'gen." She then paused as she reached into the pack which she had thrown over her shoulder. Taking out a piece of paper which she knew contained vital information for Wu from her employers, she handed the scrap of paper to Wu. It was covered in Chinese characters. Wu's eyes immediately widened as he said. "San Francisco?"

Allie nodded in response. "Yeah, San Francisco."

Wu scanned the paper and immediately moved forward. He pointed to the meat locker. Allie eyed it suspiciously, but nodded at last as Wu moved inside.

Once the door was closed behind them, Wu scanned the paper again. Although Allie couldn't read it, the paper said.

USUAL COURRIER NOT AVAILABLE. NEW COURRIER ENGAGED AT LAST MINUTE. IF SHE ARRIVES WILL FULL AMOUNT OF NORMAL DOPE, SHE IS DUE 1/3 NORMAL PAYMENT IN CASH. IF SHE ARRIVES WITH ANYTHING BUT, MAY SHE PROVIDE GOOD HEALTH TO YOUR PIGS. PAYMENT TO BE ARRANGED VIA NORMAL RETURN COURRIER. -Qin Li Bu-tan

Wu stared at Allie, raising an eye as he said, "Dope?"

Allie nodded again as she reached into her bag and withdrew a silk purse. She offered it to Wu as she said. "Yeah, dope."

Wu cautiously took the bag and opened it. He eyed Allie once and then looked at the bag again. He then bounced it in his hands once or twice, almost as if registering the weight before he nodded again, seemingly satisfied. "Dope."

"Dope," Allie repeated.

Wu attached the silk bag to a loop on his belt. He then reached inside one of his pockets and withdrew a wad of cash. He carefully counted out the bills before he handed several to Allie.

Allie reached for the money but was stopped when Wu wouldn't let the money go. He looked at her cautiously as he said.

"You - Qin - San Francisco cocksucka."

Allie nodded. "That's right. Mr. Qin contracted my employment in San Francisco."

Wu shock his head. "You... Meshell... No cocksucka."

Allie narrowed her eyes as she said, "I'm not sure what you mean."

Wu then reached down and gestured to his genitals as he shook his head and pointed at Allie. "You... Meshell... No cocksucka."

Allie couldn't help but laugh as she said, "No, that's right. I'm not a cocksucker."

"Meshell," Wu nodded. "No cocksucka." He then released the money. "No cocksucka Meshell."

Allie took it, and quickly pocketed it, not even bothering to count it. Tipping her hat to Wu, she said, "We're done?"

Wu slowly nodded. He then moved to open the door. Allie moved forward and with a nod, slowly disappeared from Chinese Alley.


Later, Allie wasn't sure how she felt about Wu referring to her as 'No Cocksucka Meshell', but when she produced the credentials from Wu's opium suppliers in San Francisco along with a new shipment, he seemed pleased enough.

By the time evening had set in, Allie had made her way carefully back to the Grand Central. She had spent most of the later morning and afternoon wandering about camp and was somewhat tired. She was ready to simply collect her items from the hotel, move to Amos Smith's boarding house, and go to sleep.

However, before Allie entered the hotel, she quickly glanced about the thoroughfare, looking for Bullock. Not seeing him anywhere in the vicinity of the hardware store, Allie walked over and fund Sol once more at work behind the counter. This time, however, he was not alone. Trixie stood by his side, a ledger and fountain pen in front of her.

Trixie looked up, gave Allie a quick look of appraisal, and then made it as patently clear as she could without actually saying anything that Trixie considered Allie to be untrustworthy and unwelcome in the store. However, Sol immediately smiled as she entered.

"Evening, Allie," he said with a nod.

Allie looked left and right before asking quietly, "He's not here, is he?"

Sol shook his head. "No. Been gone all day so far as I know."

Allie immediately relaxed. Smiling she walked further towards the counter and gave Sol a hug.

"How are you feeling?" Sol asked with concern evident in his voice. "Se...someone mentioned you fell down some stairs?"

Allie frowned but nodded as she said, "Stupid accident really. Lost my balance on the way up to my room and just went tumbling back down."

"And you're sure you're okay?"

Allie shrugged. "Doc Cochrane gave me a clean bill of health."

Sol smiled. "That's a relief to hear. I was worried about you, you know."

At that point in the conversation, Trixie decided to interrupt as she stepped around from behind the counter and said, "Since it seems like Sol is just gonna ramble on without properly introducing me, I guess I'm just going to have to do the fuckin' deed myself. I'm Trixie."

She extended her hand in a friendly enough manner, but Allie could tell from the way she was looking at her that Trixie didn't much care for her. However, Allie returned the handshake as she said, "Allie Mitchell. I'm-" She paused before she said, "I'm an old friend of Sol's from Montana."

Trixie lifted an eyebrow as she said, "Oh, then you must know Sheriff Bullock as well."

Sol sighed but Allie merely nodded, "We're acquainted."

Trixie turned her head in askance, but Allie had decided she had had enough of the woman. She turned to Sol before she said, "Anyway, I just wanted to drop by and tell you that I'm vacating my room at the Grand Central."

"Are you leaving camp already?" Sol asked concerned.

Allie shook her head. "No, not quite yet. It's just that, given everything that's happened in the past day or so," She paused, but looked at Sol to make sure he knew that she meant more than her fall down the hotel stairs, before she continued, "it seems more convenient for me to take a room at Amos Smith's boarding house. I'll be there if you need me."

"I'll drop by later, maybe?" Sol said. "After I close up for the evening?"

Allie shrugged. "I'll be there either way."

She then nodded at Trixie. "Pleasure meeting you, Trixie."

"Same," Trixie said gruffly.

Allie nodded and turned around. Exiting the store, she couldn't help but smile as she heard Sol's voice, "...now why in the hell did you have to go and bring up Seth? I told you she doesn't want to hear about him..."


Returning to the Grand Central, Allie made short work of EB Farnum as she went to get her room key. Waving off the hotel owner's questions when she informed him that she would be vacating her room (aside from reassuring him that she would not be asking for any refunds of her prepaid deposit on the room's weekly rental), Allie bounded back up the stairs to her room a lot more quickly than she had exited that morning.

Turning the key, Allie pushed the door open. She was entered the dark room and tossed her hat on the bed. Closing the door behind her, Allie went to light the oil lamp which was standing on the table next to the bed. She was fumbling with the tinder flint when she heard a voice come from the other side of the room.

"How's Sol?"

Allie dropped the flint and had her pistol in her hand and aimed at the shadows on the other side of the room so quickly that it surprised even her. Although she was momentarily startled, she had recognized Seth's voice immediately. She wasn't quite sure why she had pulled her pistol, but it made her feel better somehow. Cocking the gun, she growled, "What the fuck are you doing in my room?"

"Waiting."

Allie snickered as she said, "What? Couldn't wait for the widow in her room? Or are you two only fucking on a morning schedule nowadays?"

Seth remained seated in his chair. He ignored her comments about Garrett as he said, "No, I was waiting for you." He looked at the pistol before nodding back at her. "You need to either fire that or holster it."

"Thanks for the fucking advice," Allie said, "But, in case I didn't make it clear yesterday, I meant it when I said that I wanted you out of my goddamn room and out of my goddamn life."

Seth couldn't help but smile as he said, "It's not like you'd shoot me, Allie. Not really."

Allie extended her gun slightly. "You really want to test how good a shot I am?"

"Oh, I don't doubt you're a good shot," Seth said. "I remember, seeing as how I'm the one who taught you how to shoot."

"A lifetime ago," Allie said.

"Maybe," Seth said. "But either way, if you'd really intended on shooting me, you would have done it as soon as you knew I was in the room."

Allie paused for a moment, knowing that Bullock had called her bluff. Uncocking the gun, she slowly lowered it and placed it back in her hip holster. She nodded at Bullock as she said, "Next time I point my gun at you, Seth, I won't be putting it back in the holster unless it's been fired."

"Duly noted," Bullock said.

Allie placed her hands on her hips, her heart racing a thousand miles a second. She had to use every ounce of self-control she had to keep the anger, nervousness, and... and anything else that might in the slightest be construed as anything but hate and intense loathing, from her voice.

The one thing that Allie had realized more than anything when she had seen Bullock the previous day was that despite her best efforts, now that she had finally seen him for the first time since he left her on what would have been their wedding day, Allie knew that for some crazy reason, she still cared for him... And she was angrier with herself because of that than anything else. Despite everything he had done to her, she still cared about him, and Allie considered that a personal flaw based upon inherent weakness - and, if there was one thing that Allie hated above all, it was sensing weakness in herself because Allie's mother had been weak. And, if there was one thing Allie never wanted to become, it was a woman like her mother had been.

Then again, if Allie had really been honest with herself from the beginning, she would have been able to figure out how she really felt about Seth, despite what he had done to her three years ago. There was a real reason why, after all, that she still wore his ring on the chain which Sol had given to her on Seth's behalf - it was the only part of him that she had allowed to openly remain close to her heart each and every day. It also served as a reminder of the hatred she felt towards him for what he had done. And, the one thing Allie had never been able to reconcile regarding Seth Bullock was that sometimes the intense emotions of love and hate were really two sides of the same coin.

In dealing with the current situation, Allie immediately realized that she wasn't ready to have the final confrontation with which had been one of her prime motives for coming to Deadwood. She had wanted to hurt him, make him feel as pained and miserable as she had felt for three years. And, now that the moment had finally come, Allie was fairly certain she wasn't up to the task - at least not yet. Thus, in trying to figure out how to get Bullock out of her room before he figured out any more about her feelings and general mindset than he already had, Allie decided the direct approach was the best.

"What do you want?"

Bullock shifted in his seat, leaning forward as he said, "You know, at first I was worried, when I saw you on the staircase. Because, at first, I thought you had come to Deadwood to see me, and, at the time, I wasn't really sure how I felt about that."

Allie snorted as she said, "My, my, aren't we a bit egotistical, Sheriff?"

Bullock shook his head. "Egotistical? No."

"Despite what you may think," Allie said, "not everything and everyone in this world revolves around you."

"I know that," Bullock said. "Which is why, after I thought about things a bit, especially after you kicked me out of your room yesterday, well, now I'm curious about just one thing."

"And what's that, Seth?"

"When did you become a dope dealer?" Bullock asked simply.

"What?" Allie stuttered, surprise evidence in her voice.

At this, Bullock stood, and said, "I asked when did you start socializing with the likes of that cocksucker Wu? And more importantly," Bullock added, "Why?"

Comprehension dawned in Allie's eyes as she said, "You had me followed today, didn't you?"

"In a manner of speaking, yes," Seth replied.

"You fucking bastard," Allie cried in indignation. "You had no right."

"I'm the sheriff here, Allie," Seth said with an uncharacteristic smile. "I make it my business to know who's supplying people like Al Swearengen with his goods, right or wrong aside."

"Get out," Allie said, as she moved towards the door.

Bullock quickly took several steps towards her. Grabbing her arm, he roughly pulled her from the door. Jerking backwards, Allie stopped. Her glance than immediately fell to where Seth's warm hand still tightly grasped her forearm. Bullock stared for a second too, a look of utter surprise evident on his face. Allie felt a shock of feeling flow through her body at their shared contact, something she had never thought she would ever feel again. The electricity crackled in the air between the two, perhaps more than it ever had before, and it instantly scared Allie. She paled somewhat, but was unable to move no badly how much she wanted nothing more than to run as hard and as fast as she could away from Bullock. However, she could tell that Seth had felt it too, and also had been somewhat unnerved by it. She took some type of gratification from that.

After another minute passed, Allie somehow found the strength to pull away and seized upon the opportunity created by Bullock's distraction. She yanked her own arm back with a hard tug which resulted in Bullock immediately releasing her hand.

Instinctively moving a step away from her, Bullock said, "Answer my question first."

Allie crossed her arms and raised her chin in defiance. "First, you answer one of my questions."

Bullock, somewhat warily, said, "Fine."

Allie seized her chance and said, "Tell me honestly, Seth, this widow, Alma Garrett... What attracted her to you more - the fact that she is as cold and emotionally unavailable as Martha or the fact that she looks like a pale imitation of me?"

Whatever question Seth had been expecting Allie to ask, it was not the one she put to him. Caught off guard, his mask slipped a bit as he said, "I don't know how to answer that."

"You have to admit, the fact that the woman you finally decide to take as your mistress... Don't you think it's just a bit coincidental that she looks like the first girl you ever told you loved?"

Allie laughed cynically as she corrected herself, "Or, I'm sorry. Perhaps it's more accurate to say that the woman you finally decided to take as your mistress looks a hell of a lot like the first girl whose life you deliberately ruined when you told spent months trying to get her to trust you by telling her that you loved and wanted to marry her, and then, once you had fucked her, you left her to marry someone else more suitable, more worthy."

Seth raised his eyebrows as he said, "I never lied to you when I told you I loved you, Allie." He then paused and looked up at her. He then was honest for a moment before he said stiffly, "And, maybe, just maybe it's more than a bit of coincidence that Alma Garrett has dark hair and dark eyes. I don't know. I never really thought about it before now. The only thing I've only really thought about when it came to her was that she was a woman who needed my help and was more than willing to let me protect her. How we got from that to me fucking her every other morning, I'm not really sure. But, excepting the very rare occasions when I have to do my duty by fucking my wife, she is the only woman who I've touched since you in the past three years. Take from that what you will."

"So your cock only gets stiff if you are fucking someone who looks like me?" Allie said with feigned nonchalance. "How flattering, Seth, really."

"It's not like that," Bullock said, waving her off. "It's just something that happened."

"Do you love her?" Allie asked in a suddenly quiet voice.

Bullock looked up at her. "Alma?"

Allie could only tilt her head in response.

Bullock let out a breath. "I don't know."

".?" Allie pressed again.

Bullock looked up and held Allie's gaze squarely as he at last conceded, "Not like I love you, if that's what your asking."

"Oh? You love me? You still love me?" Allie asked in disbelief. "Is that right, Seth? Is it?"

"Yeah, that's right," Bullock said defensively.

"And yet you just said not five minutes ago that you've never lied to me about loving me, Seth," Allie said with a bit of a crazy laugh.

"I've never lied to you, Allie," Seth maintained. "Not about loving you, anyhow. And I mean it when I say I've always loved you, and I always will. That's one of the few fucking things in my goddamn life that I've always been sure about, no matter what's happened."

"Is that so?" Allie repeated.

"Yes, that's so," Bullock confirmed.

Allie felt her anger flair as she reached into her shirt and pulled loose the necklace and the ring. Holding it in her hand, she gestured, "You once told me you planned on putting this on my finger the day you made me your bride. You remember that, Seth?"

Seth's eyes remained locked on the ring as he said, "Yes."

"And yet," Allie said as she pointedly nodded at his own hand, "I didn't put the wedding band that you're wearing on your finger now, did I?"

"No," Seth growled, "You didn't." He paused before he looked up at her with honest emotion ablaze in his face. "But there hasn't been a day since I gave Sol that envelope to give to you that I haven't wished a hundred times that you had been the woman to put this ring on my finger."

"So the question remains, if you fucking love me, Seth, if you always fucking loved me, and always fucking will," Allie mocked, "Why did you give someone else you heart and your name? Why wasn't I good enough?"

She paused in her tirade to catch a breath. Seth remained looking at her, but said nothing in response. Allie continued on in a more calm tone.

"You know, back then, I was so young- so naive. I didn't realize at the time how you tried to take everything away from me. You tried to take every single thing that was of any worth to me. And gullible person that I was, stupid fucking idealistic romantic, I almost gave everything away to you. And willingly at that. I let you take my heart, my body, even my hope for a fuckin' future, Seth." She paused, tears pricking her eyes as she held up on ring. "I almost gave up everything for the prize of a ring that, in the end, didn't mean anything at all."

She hastily reached up and wiped away the tears from her eyes as she said nodded and said, "You know why I've kept this ring with me for three years, Seth?"

He remained silent as Allie pressed. "Do you?"

At last, Bullock shook his head as he said.

Allie smiled a strange smile as she said finger the ring and said, "I've kept it and worn it every day so I would never forget what you did to me - and what you tried to do to me. You tried to destroy me, Seth. You almost took away everything that made me me so that I was turned into my mother."

Allie spat the final words at him. She then clutched the ring tighter as she said, "I keep this to remind myself how close I almost came to self-destruction at the hands of a man I was once foolish enough to trust so that it will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN."

She then paused and looked from the ring to Seth again. Suddenly, she grasp the ring in her fist and hurtled it at Seth. The movement caught him off guard as the ring landed against his cheek, scratching him. It was only by sheer reflex that he caught it.

Allie looked up at him as she ground out, "Goddamn you, Seth Bullock. Goddamn you to hell."

At last, Seth said, "Allie-"

"Don't!" Allie screeched at him. "Don't! You don't get to say my name, not like that, and not ever again after what you've done to me."

Seth remained quiet as Allie gasped for breath between her sobs. At last, she looked up and said, "Tell me something, Seth."

Bullock looked up as he waited for her to continue.

Allie bit her lip before she said, "I want you to be honest and tell me... did you think that in order to fuck me that all you had to do was tell me that you loved me? Because, if this was all about fucking, you could have saved us both a lot of grief and heartache and just told me that was all you wanted from me from the beginning."

Seth let out a deep breath as he at last said, "No, I didn't tell you I loved you just because I wanted 'to fuck you', Allie, as you so eloquently put it." He paused before he continued. "I told you I loved you because, despite whether you believe it to be the truth now or not, because I honest to God loved you. And-" He hesitated for a moment before he said, "-and I think I still do."

"Now you're just adding injury to insult," Allie said with a laugh of disbelief. "Especially if you think I'm stupid enough to fall for that same lie a second time."

"It's not a lie," Seth said quietly. "Me loving you was never the problem, Allie."

"If you really loved me," Allie challenged, "If you really loved me as you claimed to, than even if you weren't able to marry me after what happened with Martha and William in Texas, you should have had enough respect for me to come back and tell me the truth yourself instead of sending Sol to do you dirty work." Allie bit her lip as she shook her head and continued, "You're nothing but a coward, Seth Bullock. A coward who did nothing but lie to get what he wanted from me. You used me, and then when you were done, when you'd taken everything from me that you'd wanted, you disregarded me like I was trash. You never really wanted me as your wife. Admit it, how could a nameless bastard like me ever be good enough for a man like you?"

Something flashed in Seth's eyes as he looked up and said at last, "You want to know the reason why I had to ask Sol to bring you a letter explaining why I wasn't coming back home to marry you, Allie? Fine, here's your answer. I had to send Sol to break your heart because I didn't have the fortitude of character to hurt you like I knew you were going to be hurt. So, maybe you're right about me being a coward in that respect. But-" Seth let his voice nearly trail off before he added, "But despite everything that's happened or hasn't happened, it never had to do with me not loving you like I said I did."

Seth was quiet for a moment, allowing his words to sink in before Allie at last looked up and said, "Why did you chose Martha instead of me Seth? What it because of the respectability that taking a wife from a family like Martha's would bring to a man like who had aspirations to higher political office than that of sheriff one day?"

"God no," Seth said. "That never even entered into my head when it happened."

"Was it because she was better educated, more talented than me? Was it because she's more pretty, more pleasing to you?" Allie pressed.

"No," Seth said shaking his head. "I'm telling you, it all happened so fast, I didn't have time for any of that to be thought about before Martha's father had us in front of a preacher with William holding the rings."

Allie nodded for the briefest of seconds before she then said in a smaller voice, "Then that was it then."

"What?" Seth asked in confusion.

"It was because she knew who her daddy was and I didn't," Allie said with a choked sob. "You married Martha instead of me because I never knew who my daddy was and she did." Allie asked in desperation, an insecure fear she had long been holding inside of her at last seeing the light of day. "Was I just not good enough because I was a bastard child with no name, no family, and no money, Seth?"

"God, no," Bullock said quickly. "None of that ever mattered to me, Allie. You know that."

"And yet you married HER," Allie said.

"I may have given Martha my name, but she NEVER had my heart," Seth said vehemently. "That's been yours since I was seventeen years old, and you know it."

"But you married her!"

"Because it was the honorable thing to do, Allie."

"The honorable thing was to keep your promises to me, Seth!" Anger fueled Allie's tirade once more. "And you didn't, and you broke my fucking heart in the process, Seth, all because you didn't have the courage to do the honorable thing by me and keep your promises - despite everything that you knew it took me to be able to let you get close enough to me to make those promises, Seth...You killed me that day you did that, you understand? You killed me," Allie yelled.

"Don't you think I killed a part of myself that day, too?" Seth countered. "Don't you think I murdered the best part of myself the day I broke your heart?" Seth yelled. "Have you ever stopped to think, for one minute, how it felt for me to pledge my troth to a woman I barely knew, definitively didn't love, wasn't hardly attracted to, before God when I knew I could and would NEVER love her because I made vows to her that I could have only kept if she were you?"

"I don't know," Allie said.

"It killed me every time I looked at her and realized she wasn't you. It disgusted me each and every time I took her into my bed for duty's sake. And I came to hate myself more each day after we married when I realized I could only make love to her by imagining that she was YOU," Seth countered. "For fuck's sake, Allie, there hasn't been a time when I've touched Alma and not thought of you."

"And yet, again, you chose another woman over me, Seth," Allie said with another sigh. "I wasn't good enough to be your wife, and now I stand freshly insulted by you all over again in finding out that I wasn't good enough to be even your mistress."

"I would NEVER use you in that way," Bullock responded. "I care about you too goddamn much, Allie, don't you realize that? Don't you know that it would kill me if people looked at you and whispered by behind your back like they do to Alma? I couldn't do that to you. I love you too fucking much!"

Allie felt tears sting her eyes. She pointed at Seth angrily as she said, "No."

"No?" Seth questioned.

"No," Allie repeated. "You do not get to do this to me again, Seth Bullock. You do not get to tell me you love me. Not now. Not after everything you've done."

Nodding, Seth looked away from Allie for a moment before he said softly. "You want the truth as to why I sent Sol with that letter instead of telling you myself?"

Allie dumbly nodded.

Seth felt his throat choke as he said, "I knew if I tried to be the one to tell you, I never would have been able to go through with it. I knew if I saw you again, I'd have gotten the whole goddamn marriage annulled, and then for the first and only time in my whole pathetic life, I would have, for once, done the goddamn thing that I wanted to do. I would have been selfish; I would have married you instead of doing the right thing and taking care of Martha and William."

"Horse shit!" Allie yelled. "Complete and utter fucking horseshit." She paused and caught her breath, oblivious to the tears coming down her cheeks as she said, "You could have still done the right thing by your brother's widow and nephew without marrying a fucking bitch like Martha Bullock. Instead," Allie harangued, "Instead, you decided to take the easy way out. You decided that doing the righteously honorable thing, which seems to be a driving factor in how you make decisions that apply to everyone else, doesn't apply to me. No, instead, you decided the only way you could get out of doing the right thing by me, by us, was to stop living Seth Bullock's life. Instead, you started living Robert Bullock's life in place of having one of your own because you're nothing but a fucking coward."

"To this day, I've never gotten one fucking thing I've wanted out of life," Seth said. "I've never gotten what I wanted, Allie, so maybe you can take some solace in that."

"Why would I when that just makes two of us?" Allie said bitterly.

Bullock paused for a moment before he said softly, "Allie, look, I know you're angry with me," Seth said, taking a step toward her. "But..."

"No, 'buts' goddamn you," Allie said. She paused before she took a breath. "The reason I'm a 'dope dealer' as you so succinctly put it is because it makes me a hell of a lot more money than sewing ever did."

"But, why would you ever need money? John and Callie..."

"You honestly expected me to stay living on in the house of your sister and her husband after what you did to me?" Allie asked incredulously.

Bullock remained silent.

Allie continued. "No. No, I had to make my own way. I had to fix my heart as best I could after you nearly tore it to shreds, Seth Bullock. Acting as an opium courier at least gave me a chance at doing that. Staying in Montana would have only meant I never would have started living again."

She paused before she added, "I plan on leaving Deadwood in the morning. My business here is transacted. I promise you I won't be back. I'll make other arrangements to have another agent deal with Wu."

"Allie..."

"You have your answer now," Allie said as she raised her head to him. The moonlight shone through the open window. Seth in took a sharp breath as saw Allie's tearstained, red, swollen face clearly for the first time.

"Please go," Allie said.

"I..."

"Please go."

Nodding, Bullock grabbed his hat and walked toward the door. Allie stepped aside, a fresh wave of tears claiming her. She didn't notice when Bullock stopped and turned around. Quickly he pulled her into his arms. She fought him, pounding him as hard as she could, scratching at his face and any exposed part of his body she could get at. Bullock continued to hold her as she fought. She continued to pound her fists against his chest, tears once again turning into full blown sobs. She continued to rail and spit various epithets at him before she finally slowed. A few more minutes passed as she at last quite fighting. Bracing herself against Bullock's chest, she continued to sob. Seth felt tears prick his own eyes as she wept. After a time, her tears finally lessened to only an occasional sniffle. When all was quiet, Seth gave her one last hug, holding her so tight that Allie could barely breath. He then released her, opened the door, and stepped out of the room into the night air.


~The End~