.

.

Mr. Labouef hadn't left.

But he knew just by the look in the little girl's eyes he could tell Mattie was tired, and needed her much needed rest.

-and so did he, even if he didn't notice.

He hadn't gotten this drunk for so long, he could barely remember the last time. But Ranger Laboeuf's reasoning for drinking so wild, were for the feelings that always overcame him most of the time...even after being around Ms. Ross so much.

XXX

XXX

The night grew more into night and soon the bats would be out and about screeching loud, and flapping so terribly low scaring those who slept in their warm beds, bringing on the cold wind through the open window.

Mattie had gotten herself into her nightgown; after Laboeuf's acceptance that he wouldn't turn around or even take a peek at her, while she dressed. But he had no choice. He did anyway. Any man would and it was just in their nature to do things they weren't told to do.

-and Mattie Ross was a small little thing.

"Mr. Laboeuf, I think this is where we say goodnight."the little girl added, getting the attention she needed from Laboeuf, extending her hand, awaiting his single hand shake. So he spung around on his heels and looked down at that hand of hers.

His brows furrowed in slight confusion:

"I reckon it is, Ms. Ross."he answered that with a silly smile beneath that fuzzy mustache, and the strong smell of the much drank alcohol lingering toward Mattie herself, causing her to cringe, finally in close contact with the massive hand of his, that felt warm and snugged wrapped around her own.

So with out anymore thought, Mattie smiled and they shook.

He showed himself to the door, a bit uncoordinated on his feet, but managed otherwise to depart the cold room.

And at that time, Mattie thought that she wasn't going to see him anymore tonight, but he turned back around and met her eyes. It stunned her completely! and it always seemed to give her a silly, tickly feeling in her gut after finding his stare on her.

He looked down, his head hung low, his hat held tight in both hands, almost the expression of guilt and sorrow spread over his face that usually seemed too "big-shot" and strong with a side of silliness. It always brought a smile to her lips no matter the predicament.

"What is wrong, Mr. Laboeuf?" Mattie was too big-hearted like her father and couldn't help it, especially someone she really cared for.

Before he could talk, a small hand reached out to him, and dropped limp to his thick forearm, with one small index finger tapping lightly on to the rough fabric of his fringe coat.

He noticed the finger, and came back up to find her eyes shining, while awaiting his final response.

He thought he could say it, say what was bothering him so much and it was on the tip of his tongue, but it just didn't happen. "I tip my hat to you, Ms. Ross-and he did, and finally left the room, her ears wanting and waiting, listening to the eerie clangs of his spurs as he moved with a slight drunken tremble.

XX

Mattie held herself against the door, with her palm and her forehead faced down the same, trying to keep her quivering of the cold wind and the sadness that swept over her in such a instantaneous motion, under control.

She just had to get some sleep and that's what she did.

X

A crazed nightmare hit, but young Mattie was strong enough to realize that it wasn't real, keeping her sleep in regular motion.

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Hours after the croaking of toads in the far distance, after the soft cricketing of the crickets, and after all the sounds of the night died down, in the back of the Chinese Market was where the one-eyed grey bearded Marshal slept. Probably not the best, but it was all he had and made every last bit of time spent sleeping away in the market the best even surrounded by curry powders and ducks.

.

.

In the new morning, Marshall turned over, only to find that one person standing over him.

"Marshall Cogburn? Your awake?"Mattie smiled down at the old man, who squinted only to see passed the sleep and funny dots that filled his sight, while fixing his lopped eyepatch.

The gruffy man growled deep in his throat. Not in anger, but frustration and exhaustion. Marshall was never an early morning riser, like Ms. Ross. "What do you want?"he asked, as Mattie leaned forward and put her arm around him, helping him stand up out of that so-called bed he slept in.

She didn't reply that instant.

-and Rooster stared down at her, prying her arm off. "What you want from me girlie? Why ain't you buggn' Laboeuf?"he swung a hand behind and scratched that bugging itch that lay right in the middle of his back, pulling out an already made cigarette from his trousers that slumped over his waist with the suspenders.

Mattie still hadn't replied. She stared up at the cigarette between his lips, feeling terrible that she could no longer make them for him like she was so used to doing, and it was no bother out of her day.

"Mr. Laboeuf had left for Fort Smith, Marshall, and he had informed me that you were still in town."she gave him a soft smile, with those large brown eyes of hers shining brightly in his own, that found a box of a few powders, kept his eye on that until he knew she was looking away.

Mattie was too cute, and he knew if she saw his face flush, she would definately think different of such a True Gritted fellow much like himself.

So he nodded, and turned back to her, dodging as best a big man such as himself could under all the hanging ducks and sausage links, that somehow gotten caught either way, no matter how greatly he moved from them.

"Goin' to play a card game with some boys down at the bar-he mumbled with that cigarette still hanging loose from his lips, as he grabbed his best looking jacket and put it over right after he slipped on his suspenders.

Mattie watched him practically dress up without a word.

"Can I come, Marshall? I promise not to be a bother?"Mattie moved forward one step in her boots, right behind him, and her hand lay limp over her dress that she had worn before on the trail to Tom Chaney.

.

.

The old man had to think a bit on that one, thinking back to the day she and him gotten into a silly argument at the same time the Recker Brothers were in town, brawling in the near saloon.

"I do not think so, sister."he became a bit angry after spilling those few words, removing the cigarette from his mouth with an index finger and thumb, in a fearful pinching manner, looking down as he brushed his jacket off, and sat down harshly into his bed, but managed to hit his head against a spice box from behind.

Mattie knew it was wrong to laugh about other people's pain, but it was sort of funny, and Rooster somehow always seemed to bring a snicker or giggle out of the little girl.

Rubbing the back of his head with his rough calloused palm, Rooster eyed back at the girl standing before him, and attempted to get his feet back on the floor, and slipped into his boots right below.

"Damnit! Where's my hat?"he let out a curse, with a croak visible in his voice, when he lent over and put his head between his legs, staring underneath the bed, into a pitch black hole that looked that led nowhere but here.

What the old man didn't know is what Mattie held tight in her hand, waiting silent for him to realize.

XX

XX

"Where i-sister?"he raised his head back up high, and found it held in those little fingers of the girl before him.

She smiled at him, while extending it out to him, and he took it.

It was quite silent after he took it and put it over his grey top head. "Please Marshall. I sware I won't be a bother."she asked yet again, with the same tone of voice, grabbing Rooster's attention with her cute smile, and shining ways.

He remained very still on the bed, his hands rested over his lap, and that same exact cigarette hanging from his lips, barely held on to as their eyes met.

.

.

.

Quietness swept over them as before, and rambling horse hooves trampling in the dirt road, and buggies could be heard strolling by from the outside in the sweltering heat.

"Sorry sister, It's an m'portant poker game."he finally answered her, after removing the cigarette and released all the inhaled smoke, from his dry, dirty mouth, already heading outside.

Mattie breathed hard and heavy, while following the older man outside.

Rooster knew she was right behind him. He could hear her boots crunch in the dry dirt.

"I really want to come with you Marshall."she begged him again, in that same whimpering tone and it finally took it's toll, shivering up the man's spine.

He didn't look too happy about it either after spinning around to meet the girl once again.

"I told you already sister. No!"he growled out deeply, his breath coming out in her face smelling of bad cigarettes and day-old booze. Mattie blinked a few times before looking down at the tips of her dirty boots.

She gave up. She just couldn't loose a friend because of something so stupid and silly.

-and anyway, it probably was a poker game Rooster couldn't afford to loose, with money involved, and with Marshall Cogburn, money was always involved.

XX
XX

She continued with her head down and hand over her belly.

Rooster felt bad about leaving the sport behind, but it was what needed to be done. He let out a dusty sigh through his nose, and put a large hand over her shoulder.

The brown eyes pointed upward at him in that instant his hand had touched her, and she awaited his welcomed words. But they didn't come that instantly.

"Stay outta' trouble sister."he tipped his hat to her, and removed that hand from her shoulder, turning his back on her and left down the dirt path, that seemed to glow golden as ever with the bright sunny rays casted down upon it, barely busy with any folk.

Mattie smiled small, and went her own way.

XX

E/N: I know how I said in my last note that there will be some fluff, but I didn't get to it, and I didn't want a too terribly long chapter. And honestly I felt good about ending Part One like this:D Just hope it didn't disappoint anyone Lol:D But at least there was a bit of short-lasting connection between Rooster and Mattie:D

Part Two will be coming very shortly! Thanks alot you readers! Love you all!