Disclaimer: Not mine. No profit.

Ratings: PG

Gratitude Series: #2

You're Welcome
by Mog

Aw, hell, when did openin' eyes get to be so tough? Aw, hell....Nathan's. If I had me a dime for everytime I woke up and saw that ceilin'. Gotta cut this out.

'Course, I guess I'll stop if I ever think it ain't worth it. And lookin' at you tryin' to sleep in that big ol' yella chair of Nathan's makes for a good laugh - so I figgur' that makes it worth it.

Not that any of the other boys wouldn't a' done the 'xact same thing if they was in my shoes. No way we gonna let anybody take the only piece of, what was it you said...tact and diplomacy, we got away from this mangy group.

Dang, boy, can't recall last time I seen you lookin' so mussed. How long you been here? I don't need no lookin' after. Can't believe you'd be missin' whatever games are goin' on in the saloon lessin' you was bein' forced to.

Well, that's what you'd say anyways. You ain't foolin' nobody, 'ceptin' yourself maybe. Ain't never seen nobody act so damned and determined 'bout keepin' people out. But we figgur' an act is 'bout all it is. You're too stubborn to let yourself be talked into somethin' you don't wanna do. 'Sides, it takes one helluva a man to let himself be dressed up like a woman. Ain't none of us coulda pulled that off. Ain't sure how we woulda gotten Mary outta there safe if we hadn't a' had you on our side.

Shoot, with as much book learnin' and natural talent for readin' people as you got you could be doin' a helluva lot better than stickin' around the likes of us. 'A small talent for deduction'...that's what you once said you got. Ya do pretty good 'bout keepin' a secret as well. Knowin' since the second week that we met that I wasn't no good with readin' or writin', but you never said nothin'.

But you did say you liked my poem. And I figgur' if someone like you thinks it was good, well...that just means somethin'.

Makes me think that people don't look down on me so much when we head into a place together. Like maybe they're thinkin' 'Well, if that fancy fella is willin' to be seen with him, he can't be all bad.'

And the way young 'uns take to ya, if there's one thing you can't get nothin' past in this world it's animals and children. And Nettie. Mighty funny how she sees through you. Not that she'd ever say somethin' to ya, she knows you'd just go and brush it off. But we've talked. "If ever there was a person that needed a little good attention paid to 'em." That's what she said.

Hell, people talk 'bout me havin' survival skills, can't imagine what it woulda took to survive Maude. But we're damn glad ya did. Not that we need somebody tellin' us what bad odds we're up against most of the time. Shoot, we ain't that stupid. But we have gotten used to it. And there ain't a one of us that would ever want that to change.

Maybe if you ever wake up from that sorry lookin' state your in, slumped in that chair, keepin' watch like some in-trainin' guardian angel and open your eyes, I'll tell ya that to your face.

Feedback to: maria.mogavero@optiva.com