After waiting for what felt like hours till the sheriff left for the night, yawning and scratching his stomach, Kid Curry skulked into the jail cell. He was lucky the man was too lazy to stay overnight, and the town was too small to have a deputy.
Unless the sheriff wasn't worried because Heyes was no longer here? Worry constricted Kid's chest, made him feel both heavy and light-headed. Kid had ridden hard for days, trying to find his missing partner. Lucky he'd heard those rumors of a man fitting Heyes' description being picked up for trespassing. All a mistake, but someone thought he resembled Hannibal Heyes, and he had to be held until—
Well, Kid just hoped he wasn't too late, that was all. He'd ridden hard for two days to reach this little podunk town, hoping against home he'd make it before any posses could. He'd barely stopped to eat, and hadn't slept more than a few hours altogether, the thought that Heyes needed rescuing foremost in his mind, pushing him onward.
When he'd finally made it, he'd had to nose around calmly, asking questions in the saloon, buying people beers he couldn't afford till he learned about the security arrangements of the jail (almost none, and no deputy). Then he had to wait till dark, agonizing hours during which he didn't dare go near the jail or look suspicious.
Now, telling himself to stay calm, stay alert, Kid Curry glanced both ways, then hurried across the street, and bent down to pick the lock.
The door swung open.
He scrambled to his feet, and rushed in, pushing it shut behind him. He looked wildly around the room.
Heyes was stretched out on top of the cot in the jail cell, hands behind his head, elbows out, hat resting on his chest. He wore his boots, and one slim leg was crossed over the other near the ankle.
At the sight of Kid Curry, he picked up his hat and unfolded himself. He dusted the hat off on his arm, and smiled. "Howdy, Kid."
Kid blinked at him. "Heyes, you don't look—"
Innocent, mildly inquiring blink. "Don't look what?"
Kid took in the sight of the ex-outlaw before him, beleaguered and in jail. Except he didn't look beleaguered, or much as though he was in jail, either.
The cell held a homemade quilt instead of an old horse blanket, and a finely embroidered pillow. Heyes was looking well-fed, rested, shaved and clean. Kid took a suspicious sniff. Sure enough, instead of the ripe smell of too much sweat and not enough water, the jail smelled—clean.
Then he caught sight of a picnic basket with a red checked tablecloth, on the floor of the jail cell. Kid's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Heyes, what have you been up to?"
"Well, I figured you were comin' to rescue me, Kid, might as well take advantage of the offered hospitality, seein' as all I had to do was wait," said Heyes reasonably.
"Hospitality? In jail?"
Heyes shrugged, with elaborate casualness. "Turns out the sheriff has a daughter. Took a shine to me."
"And washed your clothes, fattened you up, cleaned up your cell and made her father let you take a bath?" guessed Kid, his mouth turning down sourly.
Heyes gave him a particularly innocent stare that wouldn't have looked amiss on a very young, very sweet-tempered and unworldly calf. "You can be remarkably perceptive sometimes, Kid."
"Uh-huh," said Kid. With a sour frown, he snatched the not-even-hidden keys off the sheriff's desk, and unlocked the jail cell. Heyes stepped out and gave him a smile.
"Thanks for the rescue."
"Rescue! I bust my butt tryin' to get you out of—of durance vile, and you've havin' a VACATION!"
Heyes smiled, charmingly and innocent. "Would you feel better if I'd been suffering?"
Heyes stepped back into the jail cell with quick steps.
"Heyes, what are you…? Don't take on, now. I didn't mean nothing," said Kid with some alarm.
Heyes bent, picked up the picnic basket, and brought it out, giving Kid a reassuring smile. "Don't worry, Kid, I wasn't going to lock myself up again in a fit of pique. Not even a gilded jail like this one. That daughter seemed to have… plans. Very firm plans. I don't like to disappoint a lady, but…" He shrugged, and handed the basket to Kid. "There's some fried chicken left. Take it, and let's get out of here."
Kid smiled. "Nice of you to save me some." He wrapped the pieces carefully in a handkerchief, and placed them lovingly in his jacket pocket.
"Oh, I didn't save them for you." Long steps took Heyes casually from the building, and he glanced back once, with a decided less-than-innocent twinkle in his eyes. "I was just too full to eat another bite."
Kid's jaw tightened. "Heyes…!"