I absolutely loved Cowboys & Aliens, yet I was also intrigued by how Alice, Jake's wife, and him met and how he left his band of men for her. This wasn't covered in the movie, so I thought I'd just make up my own littler version of how they met. I wrote this right after I saw the movie, so I'm hoping that Jake seemed in character enough. I hope you all enjoy. :)
The Start of Something New:
"Come on, boys."
There were a few chuckles that emanated from the scraggly group of men behind their leader as they rose to mount their horses. Their leader, a slim-figured man, wore a dark brimmed hat, shielding his eyes from the blaring sun above. Already mounted on his brown speckled horse, he turned his head slightly to the side, looking at his band of men from the corner of his eye. He waited for a few seconds, then kicked the flanks of his horse, sending the mare galloping and kicking up dust behind him.
His men followed. His gang consisted of nothing more than loners and drifters, those who would turn to banditry and even murder to make their living. Yet even with their corrupted morals, they were loyal to their leader.
The band of men had earlier been planning in the day where to make their next attack. They usually took easy pickings on stray travelers or small groups of cowboys, but as of recently, it seemed that their local camp had either been found, or betrayed. People had been steering miles clear of their encampment. Their supplies had been dwindling, and the men were growing restless.
"Jake," a black haired bearded man galloped ahead of the trailing men behind to ride alongside his leader. "They're getting restless. Sayin' that a couple o' drifters ain't gonna be sufficient." His voice continued in a western drawl.
Jake Lonergan's eyes narrowed. His plan had been exactly that, to ride far enough from the camp that they would find easy pickings. Apparently that wasn't going to be good enough; yet, their contempt had reasoning behind it. He turned his head to the side to look at his most faithful follower, Hunt.
"Alright, we'll ride south. If they want a town, they'll have to ride a bit further."
Hunt nodded, his horse slowing slightly so that he fell behind again amongst the other men to relay this new information.
Jake wasn't exactly keen on riding in on a town to raid. There were far too many risks. It was easier for someone to get shot and there were the sheriffs and deputies who wouldn't mind a good chase after his men. If they followed them long enough, they could find their camp. Though, he thought wryly, seems that's already been found.
He reined in his men as they reached the crest of a hill an hour later. His calculating eyes scanned his men's eager faces and then remained focused on the small town below, if you would even call it that. All it consisted of was a small general store and a few small houses clustered together. A short ride north, there was a larger town that would accommodate any other needs.
"This shouldn't be too hard, but don't get carried away. Get in, take what you need, get out." His voice was low and firm. There were mumbled consents from the group.
"Hiya!" Jake smacked the backside of his horse and she neighed, rising up on her back legs in excitement, and then pounded forward down the hill towards the town, his men following close behind.
Alice could hear the storm of pounding hooves from where she was sitting at the kitchen table of her family's house. She dropped the book she had in her hands and ran to the window, looking out to see the cloud of dust surrounding the riders. "Bandits," she breathed in fear.
She ran to the door, locking it and pulling up the chair she had previously been sitting in up to the doorknob. She then ran to the back room and slammed the door shut behind her. She knew that the door would only delay the bandits, but she hoped that it would be enough time for her father and brother to return from the town up north.
All too soon, she could hear the jiggling of the doorknob, and then the slam of the door as it was knocked off its hinges from a powerful kick. She jumped at the noise and tried to calm her breathing. She couldn't let them take their money, the money they had been saving for the last year, ever since they moved out west. They needed it to go back to get her mother. She couldn't let them do this.
In a rush of adrenaline, she grabbed the closest thing to her, a walking stick that her younger brother had found, and ran out of the backroom.
The intruder paused and turned his head to look at her. Jake scanned her quickly. Her eyes were wide with fear and his eyes fixed on the stick she held in her hands. The corners of his lips turned up slightly, as if he found her amusing.
"Get out of my house! We have nothing for you!" She yelled at him, waving the walking stick threateningly.
"What do you think you're going to do with that stick?" His hand went to pistol at his side. He raised an eyebrow at her.
She glanced at the walking stick and then to the bandit's hand on his pistold. "I'll do what I have to." Her mouth was set in a determined line, yet he could easily see the fear in her eyes.
"All I want is your money." He said, his eyes darting around the small room of the house, looking for potential hiding spots.
"We have none." She said firmly, but as she spoke, she started took three small steps, placing her between a door and Jake.
"Is that right?" Jake strode quickly towards the door and easily pushed the girl to the side. He flung it open to reveal a small pantry with some cooking supplies and nonperishable foods. He knew people often stashed their savings into sacks of flour or sugar. He reached for such a sack instantly, quickly opening it and looking inside.
"Noo!" Alice yelled. She brought the stick as hard as she could onto Jake's back. He froze, and then in unimaginable speed, he turned, grabbing the stick and breaking it in half. He shoved the girl back with the two halves and she went crashing into the table and chairs. She moaned, but got to her feet quickly, brandishing one half of the stick.
"Like I said, what're you gonna do with that stick?" Jake repeated, pulling his pistol from its holster. Flipping it once in his hand just to be showy, he pointed it at her and cocked it.
"My name's Alice." She said quickly, staring at the pistol pointed at her. She lowered the stick to the table, realizing she stood no chance. Her brown eyes lowered after a moment as well.
Jake started. Why was she telling him her name? He now finally seemed to truly take in her appearance. She was a beautiful girl, probably only a year or two younger than him, with long dark brown hair that fell past her shoulders. He cleared his throat and slightly lowered his pistol.
"My murderer can't tell me his name?" She asked quietly.
Jake stared at her for a moment. He dropped his pistol to his side and shook his head once. "I'm not going to murder you."
"Alright. I don't deserve the name of the man who stole my family's life savings?" She inquired again. She conceded that the man was ruggedly handsome, with sharp features. In another life, perhaps…
"Jake. Jake Lonergan." He finally said.
"Well you've found the money." Her voice rose now, her arm shakily pointing to the opened pantry. "Take our savings and go!" The last word came out warped as she tried to choke down the tears that were rising. Alice was determined not to break down in front of Jake. To Jake, it showed strength, as did her running out of that back room trying to ward him off with a mere stick. She was growing on him.
"I…" Jake trailed off. He slung his pistol into its holster and looked around the shabby room once more. "I'm not going to take your money." He finally said.
She stared at him quizzically. "You're not going to take my money." She repeated in disbelief. He shook his head to confirm what she said. It was quiet for a moment. "Then why the hell did you come in here waving that thing around and scaring the living hell out of me!" She burst out suddenly, pointing her finger at his gun.
He was surprised at first, but then he gave a low chuckle. "I can't just come have a civilized discussion with a beautiful lady?" He asked, walking past her. He picked up one of the fallen chairs and pulled it out for her. "Have a seat, Alice." He gave a small grin.
She looked at the chair and then sat. He walked around the table and sat as well. "What're you saving that money for?" Jake asked.
"My mother. She's back home on the coast. We want to bring her back out here with us." She answered steadily.
He nodded. "I see."
Just then, the door barged open and, framed in the doorway, was Hunt.
"Jake! Boys are ready!" He shouted. He gave a start when he realized he was sitting with a girl.
Jake looked from Alice to Hunt and stood. "One moment," he said to Hunt. He nodded and left the house, slamming the door behind him.
Jake made his way to the door, put his hand on the knob, but then stopped, turning slightly to look back at the pretty girl sitting at the table. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a couple of gold coins, flipping them in his hand as he looked at them. "Take these." He said simply, tossing them towards Alice.
Alice quickly caught them, but her face turned to disbelief. "You're a bandit!" She cried. "You're supposed to take my money, not give me money!"
He raised an eyebrow at her.
She swallowed, her fingers closing around the coins. "I mean, thank you."
Jake tipped his hat to her and opened the door, stepping out into the sunlight.
He paused, turning once more to face Alice.
"If you're willing to give me money for no apparent reason, then I'm willing to get to know this strange bandit named Jake." She gave a small smile. "Will you come back? Tomorrow, around sunset?" She looked in his face hopefully.
Jake had one foot in the stirrup of his horse and he mounted easily. This time, when he faced her, he had a smile breaking across his face. "I'll see you tomorrow, Alice." With that, he galloped off towards his waiting men on the hill.
Alice smiled as she watched the handsome man go, clutching the coins to her chest. Was this the start of something new? A new life for her, perhaps?
Over the hill, riding off in the opposite direction, Jake was thinking the same thing.
I know that it's highly unlikely that they met this way, but I thought it kind of fun. I'd love for you to review and tell me what you thought about this. Great? Fantastic? Absolutely dreadful? One-shots are a bit of a new thing for me, and I'm only here to improve. Thanks for reading!