TITLE:  Too Much to Ask
CHALLENGE:  February 2005
RATING:  Suitable for all
NOTES:  May be more fanon than canon
EMAIL:  DoggyJ0525@yahoo.com

Too Much to Ask

Chris was leaning his chair back against the wall, a pool of darkness in the shadow of the overhang.  The townspeople were engaged in their usual midmorning business, but he didn't seem to see them as they passed by.  His eyes were focused far beyond the town, looking back into the past.  Images of Sarah played in his memory, drawing his heart along with them.

Mary leaned against the doorframe of the newspaper office, looking out at the town she had struggled so hard to save.  Her eyes rested on the dark figure leaning back in the chair.  There were so many nights she longed for someone to lie beside her, to hold her in the dark, to keep away the awful loneliness that sometimes threatened to overwhelm her.  But Chris was still consumed by grief over the loss of his family, in no shape to take on another wife and child.  Sighing, Mary turned to go back inside.  Alone.

Ezra stepped out of the batwing doors of the saloon, carrying his first cup of coffee with him.  He looked up and down the street, searching for anything out of the ordinary.  He noticed Mary leaning against her door, staring down the street.  She was a fine woman, smart as a whip and strong of character.  She was, in fact, just the kind of woman he would like to get to know better, but who would not stoop to spend time with a man like him.  She wanted a hero, and god knew he was not the type.  He threw the last of his coffee into the street and turned to go back in the saloon, back to the life he knew best.

Inez paused as she wiped down the table, studying the man who stood still for a moment in the doorway.  The bright midmorning sun behind him threw him in shadow, making him a dark outline against the day beyond.  He was unfailingly polite to her, even given the circumstances of their first meeting.  If she could, she would give him anything he desired.  But the saloon was not hers to give, and he gave no indication that he wanted any deeper relationship with her.  Lowering her gaze as he stepped fully into the interior, she arranged the chairs equally around the table and moved on to the next.

Buck sat in the corner, nursing another cup of coffee.  He watched Inez as she moved gracefully around the room, wiping down the tables and arranging chairs that would be moved all over by the end of the night.  He still flirted with her at every opportunity, but even he realized the futility of his actions.  She was beautiful, full of fire and life.  And love, but not for him.

Molly leaned over the railing, staring at the man sitting at the table below her.  She watched as his eyes followed Inez around the room.  She might have Buck's body, but she knew she would never have  his heart.  It would be enough, though, if it would get her out of this business.  A home of her own, and maybe a child.  Molly sighed as she put her hand on her belly.  No, no children for her.  She had done things, had things done to her, that would prevent her from ever having her own child.  But there were always orphans that needed homes.  That was a sad fact of the world she lived in.  Buck's body, a home, and a child to raise.  Was that too much to ask?