Jed 'Kid' Curry sat with his feet up in the comfortable kitchen area of his and Heyes' cabin, cleaning his gun and sipping good whiskey. A month after they'd moved in, the novelty of having a place of their own was still fresh and he kept glancing up from his task to look round in satisfied pleasure at the comfortable space around him.
Governor Hale, in what had turned out to be one of his last acts before dying, had awarded them amnesty. A round of tiresome high society parties had followed, but their annoyance at being paraded amongst the Wyoming elite as pet ex outlaws had been easily put aside when this had proved to be very lucrative. Playing against rich men with too much confidence and next to no card skill, had meant they'd found winning almost embarrassingly easy.
Losing the amounts of cash that their fellow players had ended up handing over to them during more than one long night, would have given both Jed and Heyes sleepless nights, especially in the last few years, but their wealthy opponents had no such issue. They'd all been unconcerned and amused at being beaten by such famously talented ex outlaws and had even paid up with a smile. As a result, even after buying the perfect piece of land, a decent size spread just outside the city, they'd had money left over to hire people to build their new home.
Heyes had got himself quickly hired as pit boss at one of the largest and most popular saloons in Cheyenne. It already looked like he'd be part owner by the middle of next year. Heyes could never be accused of lacking ambition thought Kid smiling to himself.
“You're early, Kid! Didn't expect you'd be back till well after six.”
Curry looked up as his partner flew through the door bringing in the cold air as he shook snow off his hat. Heyes was holding several packages under his left arm and looked slightly flustered and a little irritated at seeing him already home. The Kid shrugged a little, amused, as he snapped the chamber of his gun closed. “Half day, bank's management and most of the staff are going to some high society Christmas party this evening. Gave me an invite too, but I can't think of anything worse.” He paused as he tried to think of something he would like even less and added with a small grin.“'Cept maybe being chased by a posse in the snow,with only one nearly lame horse between us.”
“Ahh, well, I just gotta find a place to hide these. No peeking!”
Jed grinned.“They for me?
Heyes looked sheepish for a moment, before shrugging, “Well, who else would they be for?”
The Kid grinned, even after all these years, Heyes' enjoyment of Christmas never failed to both amuse and warm him. He knew in the next couple of days he'd be dragged out at dawn to pick the perfect tree.
After some rustling and thumping from his bedroom, Heyes returned minus the boxes, waving an envelope in his hand. “Clem's invited us to Denver for Christmas, you wanna go?”
The Kid shook his head. “I ain't travelling a hundred miles in December weather, not even to see Clem, less I have to. February will be better, maybe even March.”
Heyes nodded his agreement and dropped the envelope on the table. “So, Kid I was thinking we oughta be getting a tree soon or the best ones will all be gone.”
The Kid grinned, then laughed as Heyes threw him a dirty look. “What?”
“Heyes, seeing as there's a forest full of trees out there, that ain't real likely, but all right, first thing tomorrow we'll go get you your tree.”
“What about this one, Heyes?” Kid knew the answer even before his partner shook his head and said firmly.
“Nope, when we put that star on top, it'll be all lopsided and look ridiculous.”
The Kid sighed, more amused than annoyed. It'd been the same every Christmas they'd lived at Devil's Hole too. Heyes had always planned and executed the process of finding and cutting their trees with the same attention to detail that he'd employed in the gang's robberies.
It felt good to the Kid too that they actually had a place to put up a tree again, so he was more than happy to join in and honestly hoped that this game would be repeated annually for many years to come. Of course thinking that and admitting it to his friend, were two entirely different things. He knew only too well the smug expression he'd see on his partner's face. So instead he said with feigned exasperation. “Heyes! It's cold, I'm sure it's gonna snow, my hands, my face, not to mention my ass are numb. That's the tenth tree you've said no to.” The Kid was exaggerating, but that too was part of this hopefully once again annual game, but the effect was lost as Heyes wasn't even listening to him.
He'd turned away and his eyes were on a tree that he was studying carefully and after a few moments looked back at the Kid his eyes twinkling in triumph. “This one! Now come on, lets get it indoors before we get caught in the snow.”
The Kid looked at the tree and even he had to admit it was perfect. He knew it'd look just wonderful in their living area, decorated in the ornaments Heyes had insisted they buy when they were furnishing their newly built cabin just before Thanksgiving.
They made short work between them of cutting the tree down and were soon back in the comfort of their cabin, sitting in front of a blazing fire before the first wintry flakes had fallen.
“No, Kid, it needs to be a little to your left. It's too close to that candle otherwise and the tree will look all unbalanced. ” The Kid wondered why it was him doing this, when Heyes obviously had very firm ideas about what he wanted. In mild frustration he turned, intending to comment that if Heyes wasn't happy, then maybe he should come and decorate the tree himself. But on seeing his partner's face, his irritation was forgotten and he felt his expression instead soften into what he knew was likely an embarrassingly affectionate gaze.
Heyes' stocking feet were up on the heavy table and he was smiling, not the public smile that hid what he was really feeling, but the honest to goodness grin, that hid nothing at all. It'd been such a rare expression in the last few years, that the Kid had almost forgotten what it looked like. Its reappearance was a happy reminder of just how far they'd come since that first conversation with Lom Trevors.
With a whiskey by his right hand and a book to his left, he looked as content as the Kid could remember him being in far too many years. So instead of making his intended complaint, he simply turned back to the tree and did as he was told, his face breaking into a wide grin at Heyes's grunt of approval. “That's not bad Kid, not bad at all.”
“Well I sure am glad it meets with your approval Santa Heyes!”