AN: This is a series of short stories related to my fictional Cowboy!verse, which are not necessarily in a linear order. This project started out as a short drabble and has grown significantly. I'm having a lot of fun exploring the Wild West version of some of my favorite characters. Loving not only the written word, but also the visual medium, I have images to match many of the scenes. If you're interested in checking out some hot cowboys, send me a note, or check out the Shitennou AI group on livejournal.

Also, I sincerely appreciate comments and feedback - they do make me a better writer.

Who? Mina / Kunzite

That Night in the Spring

In the early spring twilight, Mina strolled back from the massive Tsukino house. The land, so dull from the cold winter months, burst forth in brilliant shades of green. Blooms sprouted, bees buzzed merrily, and everything seemed washed in color. With the sound of cicadas buzzing, she made her way along the dusty path. Dropping her bonnet, the young woman allowed the clean spring wind to caress her hair and thought over the last few hours, trying to memorize them.

More than a governess, Miss Setsuna arrived for weeks at a time to provide both she and Serena with finishing lessons. Noting the friendship between Serena and the socially acceptable daughter of the general store's owners, Mr. Tsukino allowed Mina to attend for no cost. For today's lesson, the stately Miss Setsuna had taught the girls a new dance step.

What good is it really…? There were very few chances to actually use or even practice their skills. County dances were sometimes held, but not often.

Determinedly chasing her melancholy thoughts away, Mina began humming the melody to the song from their lesson. With no one on the road, she closed her eyes and began going through the steps, trying to emulate the older woman's elegant and graceful form, stopping short when she heard the sound of a horse nearby.

"Don't stop on my account," an unfamiliar voice drawled.

"Pardon me?" Mina saw Helios, proud stallion of the Elysion Ranch, and an unknown rider draw up in front of her. With his wide brimmed hat blocking her view, she was unable to see the stranger's face.

"Of course, you looked a bit lonely."

"What would you know?"

Without asking permission, the unknown man dismounted beside her. While he gathered the reins, Mina gave the young man a quick once over. He easily stood a head taller than her and his broad frame generously filled out the cotton work shirt he wore. He was tanned from his work out of doors, and a faint shadow of stubble covered his strong chin.

Disregarding her manners, she asked, "Do you mind?"

"Not at all."

"Hmph."

"What do you call that fancy step, anyway?"

"For your information, it is called the waltz. It's something they do in Europe."

"Is it now?"

"Yes, and I wouldn't expect someone like you could pick it up."

"Try me."

He stopped and faced her. This near, she was almost overwhelmed by his smell and presence. Simultaneously hit with leather, sweat, and horse, all scents combined into a heady masculine mixture that made her senses reel. She dared a look and found herself staring into gunmetal gray eyes, tempered by a slight smile. Finding her voice again, she asked, "Whatever do you mean?"

"I can learn."

Narrowing her eyes, she found herself answering his challenge, "We'll see about that. You should know, the moment you step on my toes, I will walk away."

"Agreed."

"Fine, then, your hand goes here." Trying to control the unexpected and deliciously languid feeling coming over certain parts of her body, she took her gloved hand and clasped his, holding it up and to her right. Trying to ignore the intense heat she felt through the thin layer of cloth, and deny the tension of her soft gloves against his calloused hands, she continued, "And your other one, here."

As he stepped closer, placing his right hand firmly around her waist, her voice dropped away. Earlier, in the hazy late afternoon sun of the Tsukino's ballroom, this had been innocent fun. What had changed? They stood, breathing heavily, close enough to…

Trembling, she took a half step back and rushed through the rest, "And we step here and here, maybe it is not so complicated as I thought."

Forcing herself, she stepped another pace back.

"Not so fast."

"Y-yes?"

Taking off his hat, he bowed low, and asked, "May I have this dance?"

Against her better judgment, she acquiesced, "You may."

Donning his hat again, he drew her near, held her close, and walked through the steps. Naturally, she fell into the rhythm and his pacing, matching his steps and relishing the feeling being held in strong arms. Under his breath, she heard a pleasant tenor hum out the tune to a familiar song. He finished, but did not release her.

She held her breath, waiting, and dared a look into his face. The grey had changed from steel to quicksilver and there was a desperate need reflected back at her.

Bending his head, he tentatively touched his lips to hers. She was surprised at their warmth and quickly yielded to their pressure, opening her mouth, meeting his tongue, moving her arms around his neck. With both his arms free, he hungrily closed the space between them, bringing her flush up against his form. Mina savored the feeling of the hard planes of his body against hers. Friction from places she had never realized before assaulted her senses.

"I'll…they'll miss me." She tore herself away, breathing heavily.

"What's your name?"

"Mina."

And then she was gone.