by Seremela

Main Character(s) : Chris, Vin, Buck, Ella Gaines

Disclaimer: not mine, no money was made

This story was written for Halloween.

She stands like a statue, watching the hotel in front of her. Soft light glows from the many windows. A watch fire burns in front of its neat porch, not far from the thick oak door, the flames leaping up whenever the wind stirs them. Her gaze is drawn from those bright flames to one of the windows, the window she instinctively knows is his. Staring up at it, she wonders what he's doing and if he will step outside later this evening, his hair lighting up golden from the lamps behind him when he stands framed in the doorway.

She wants him.

She has killed for him.

And tonight she will finally have him back.

Tonight is special, powerful. She feels that power drum through her very being. It will make him see her, finally see her and give her his love in return. He will stop refusing her and be with her again. The two of them against the world, just as it once was.

She will even forgive him for leaving her.

For too many years she had waited after his departure, while he never came back. So she had set out on a search and found him. Shackled, imprisoned, no longer the free spirit she had known. She had liberated him, oh, how gloriously she had liberated him with fire and blood – only to have him disappear again before she could claim him back. It had been so unfair.

After that second time he had reappeared by himself and all she had had to do was set up the perfect means to get him where he belongs, at her side. It had worked, as she had known it would. They had been together again at last.

But not for long. She still doesn't understand why it all fell apart so quickly, so thoroughly.

A stray dog, as mangy as the small town he lives in these days, a place so far beneath him it makes her cringe, sniffs at her, then slinks away between the garbage and filth in the alley beside her, tail coiled tightly against its belly. She decides she has waited long enough and she rises upwards, above it all, ignoring the passing people, the figures flickering by, none of them seeing her, or ignoring her in turn. She's going to him now, confront him, this night she can do it.

She ghosts forward, to the hotel door, to the light, careful not to draw attention when she enters, too well aware that one of his so called friends might pass by at any moment. She doesn't want them to see her. They don't understand; they will hurt her if they get the chance. They've tried before.

He has hurt her as well, pushing her away, not understanding either. It doesn't matter, she will explain it better this time, better than she had that fateful night he turned on her after finding her shrine to their love, better than in the letter she sent him afterwards, better than the last time they met. She has ways to make him listen, she will make him see reason whatever it takes. It will end as it should, with his arms around her, warming her.

She has been cold for such a long, long time now and she craves that warmth. It's hers by right and she wants it back.

She drifts through the hall and the lounge, in and out of shadows. Around her people settle in comfortable chairs, eat late dinners, share looks of love. She knows she will have love again as well, soon now. She slips up the stairs until she reaches the door behind which she feels his presence. A small gun appears in her hand. No, she will not, can not kill him, but she will make him see reason.

Before she's able to take a hold of the door handle, footsteps thunder up the stairs and into the hall. She whirls around, her gun trained on the men who walk toward her. Hastily she steps back into the shadows beside the door, angry at the delay in her plans. There they are again, two of the men who keep interfering with her and Chris. She debates killing them then and there, but it will make Chris barrel out of the door beside her, ready for battle. Even against her. It happened that way on the farm she had acquired just for him; she won't let it happen here. She will not repeat that mistake.

He's always so protective of his friends. They are his new shackles, shackles she has to remove. She smiles. She has freed him once before, she can do it again. Only this time she will make sure he'll never find out. Another mistake she won't repeat.

"Chris, hey Chris," one of them, the loud mustached one, yells as he bangs on the door. The other one stands in a comfortable slouch, the picture of calm and ease. So different from the last time she saw him. Then it had been him holding the weapon, tense and ready. She aims, just to be on the safe side, wondering why they haven't seen her yet. She is so near them, it's… eerie the way they ignore her.

Beside her the door slams open and a voice snaps, "No need to holler, Buck. I ain't deaf. What's got you all fired up anyway?"

He's here, in the hall, where she can finally see him. Oh, he's as lithe and handsome as ever. But what truly makes her heart stop in her throat is the well known intensity surrounding him, an intensity that almost makes him glow from the inside out.

"You don't have a heart," a voice whispers from the air. Insubstantial, unreal. She easily ignores it, like she has the other voices during the past months as she fought her way back to this man against all odds.

"Chris," she whispers, sharp contrast to the bellow of the man who had called out.

Chris looks in her direction, a frown on his beautiful face. She catches her breath when she falls into his green eyes.

"Somethin' wrong?" the quiet man asks, the one with the long hair, taking Chris' attention away from her. She feels the old rage soar up at that and the well-known urge to kill. To end this unfairness once and for all. This one has taken a shot at her, held her at gunpoint and here he is, still at Chris' side. The place where she belongs.

Why hasn't Chris pushed him away for what he has done, for the insult, for endangering her very life? She aims again and cocks her gun.

"Thought I heard someone call my name," Chris says.

The loud one chuckles. "Must be ghosts. After all, it's Halloween tonight. And that means you're expected at a party by a very eager young boy, remember?"

"Hell," Chris says, rubbing one hand over his suddenly tired and sad looking face.

"Can't get out of it, pard," the longhaired one says. "You promised Billy."

"I know."

His voice is heavy with pain, but that isn't what tears at her heart, makes her forget her deadly intentions. She turns completely to the man she loves above all else. "Chris?" she asks, aghast, ignoring the other two men and the danger they embody. "My love, what is this for game? Why do you ignore me so?" She glides closer and reaches for him.

He rubs his arms. "Getting chilly, I better grab my coat."

"No," she calls out. "No, you can't go with them. This is supposed to be our night!" She moves closer, her lips upward…. But he steps away from her, back inside his room.

"Just hurry, it's about to start," the mustached one calls after him with what sounds like false cheer.

She quickly follows Chris inside and finds him donning his long, black duster, the one she wholly approves of.

"Chris, no! You can't go now, not when I've finally reached you." She runs up to him, throws her arms around him and kisses him soundly. Oh, finally she can kiss him again.

Her arms don't seem able to truly get a grip and his lips… why can't she properly taste his lips?

At least he's shivering, she notices with delight. Her touch still does something to him.

His breath explodes in her face as a white, frosty plume. Then he shoulders past her, working his second arm in his duster.

"Chris, don't be that way," she cries out. Her words stop him in his tracks, she sees him falter, his head slightly sideways in the listening pose she remembers so well. And then he's out of the door, slamming it shut behind him, ignoring her as he has from the moment he stepped in the hallway.

"He can't see you," voices taunt. "They never can."

Around her eyes shimmer, feathery hands reach for her, transparent light moves in intricate shapes. It frightens her and she quickly turns her back on them.

"Chris!" She runs to the door, through the door, down the stairs, follows him to the muddy street filled with horse manure. As she jumps off the porch, she spooks a horse tethered to the nearby post. Its hooves flail through the air, missing her by mere inches. Not important, what's important is to get Chris to acknowledge her.

"Christopher Larabee, stop ignoring me!" she screams.

He stands still and looks behind him in her direction, frowning. She smiles. Now, now….

"You're right, Chris, it is getting cold," the big oaf beside him says. To her annoyance he and the other one have stopped as well. "Let's hurry, it'll be warm inside the granary. And we don't wanna miss the food. I've seen some of what Mary and Mrs. Potter have made."

"Shut up, Buck. I'm sure now, someone was callin' out to me. Vin? What's wrong?"

When she looks at the third man, he's staring straight at her. Then he shrugs and pulls his hat low. "Nah, nothin' wrong, jist thought I saw somethin', but there's nothin' there."

She gapes at them. What is this, some elaborate ploy to make her go away? Give up? "I'll never go away," she yells. "Chris loves me and soon he'll stop denying it."

"He's not denying anything, you are."

The fragile shapes are back and the voices. She's getting fed up with those soft voices. Especially since they're not real.

"You heard her as well, didn't you?" Chris accuses the longhaired man.

"Hear what?" the loud one asks. He looks frustrated now.

She sees Chris hesitate before he answers. "Sounded like Ella."

"Don't go there, Chris," the quiet one says softly. "She ain't worth it. There's nothin' there." But he's staring straight at her all the same. She crosses her arms and glowers right back. Chris is hers, he has no right to keep trying to get between them.

"I'm with Vin," the other one says. "Don't go there, Stud. You did the right thing sending that bullet in her and you know it. No judge or jury would've hung her on the little evidence we had."

"Yeah, I know." To her horror Chris turns away from her as he has been doing this whole evening. "Let's just go."

The one with long hair stops looking at her and smiles at Chris. "Hell, even if you did hear somethin', it probably was a ghost, like Bucklin said. And they'll all be gone by mornin' anyways. When Halloween's done."

"You two and your ghosts," Chris says, sounding exasperated. The three men walk away from her, laughing, joking. Chris doesn't look back even once.

"Noooo!" she screams. But her voice gets lost in the noises of a festive group crossing the street from the saloon.

"Lost, you're nothing but a lost soul."

"I'm not! I have Chris," she shrieks at the voices. Soon, Chris will realize it too. Until then, she only needs to stay with him. She smiles. She will do just that.

Above the small town a fat, white moon shines faintly from behind the clouds. Soft spatters of rain begin to fall, hitting wooden porch roofs, spattering in the mud. She doesn't feel them as she drifts after the three men like mist, like a breeze. All she feels is the familiar deep, deep cold. At the hotel she had been wrapped in Chris' warmth for a fleeting moment and she wants that back, as a blanket against the awful cold, which is all she has known since the burning pain of the bullet from their last encounter.

He has reacted to her voice. She is sure she will manage even more next time.