Christmas 1893

By rachel74

As this is set in my 'After Amnesty' storyline, towards the end of chapter seventeen, a brief intro to that plot-line might be helpful. Eighteen months after the guys finally receive their amnesty, the Kid weds Lily Matlock. A year later, they have a little girl, who they name Elizabeth (Lizzie.) Lily dies from influenza when their daughter is only four months old. The Kid then faces a fight with his rich father-in-law, who'd been opposed to the marriage, over custody of the baby. With help from Heyes and his late wife's aunt, Emily, he wins the battle. Thanks to Penski for the Beta.

Christmas Eve

Jed walked in to into his welcoming living area and watched as Heyes carefully hung four beautifully made red and white Christmas stockings over the fireplace. They were all neatly embroidered with a name in red thread at the top: Kid, Lizzie, Emily, Heyes.

Heyes finished his task and turned to smile at the Kid. “There! Told you something was missing. It's perfect now though.”

Jed looking at the welcome additions to his already festive hearth agreed wholeheartedly. He was sure that they couldn't be either Heyes' or Victoria's handiwork, so grinning said, “That sure ain't your sewin’, Heyes.” The grin turned into a full-blown laugh as Heyes threw him an insulted look.

“You know well enough that I'm quite talented with a needle. Just ask Harry Wagener!”

“Don't forget, Heyes, I still got that hat you ruined in Santa Marta.”

Heyes sighed. “Victoria felt the same. She pretty much insisted that I have Mrs Watson make them; she said her sewing would be much better than mine.” He sounded so very offended at the idea that Jed's amusement peaked, before fading as his mind shifted to rest on the recently widowed young woman. Her husband's death had left her having to raise twin boys little older than Lizzie all by herself, with no other family nearby to help.

Heyes and the Kid had paid for an all the trimmings dinner to be sent to the family, and also made sure, with the help of Pastor Albright, that presents for both the children and Mrs Watson would also be delivered in time for Christmas. Generous donations of cash and other essentials from most everyone in town and many of the surrounding farms meant the young family were in better shape than they could have been. But Jed knew from bitter experience that Laura Watson would still be hurting, despite all the generosity.

He sighed quietly and his eyes drifted to rest on the photograph of his wedding day that sat on the fireplace. After a moment, he turned back to his friend and asked soberly, “She given any more thought to headin’ back east to be nearer her folks?”

Heyes gave him a quick sympathetic look before adding with a slight smile. “When I went to pick up the stockings, she told me that she's got more than enough money to leave as soon as the snow melts. She were real grateful for everyone's help. Thought she was gonna cry on me.” Heyes sounded so uncomfortable at the thought, that Jed was about to make a teasing comment, when they were interrupted by the sound of giggling and a door slamming shut.

Lizzie dashed in with a breathless Emily on her heels. Lizzie demanded a hug from both her father and her Uncle Heyes, before she scrambled away as her eyes fell with some excitement on the neatly hung stockings. She ran over to look at them, tracing the names with her finger as she mouthed the words. Once she was done, she was silent for a few moments before she gazed back at the three adults. “Kid?”

Heyes chuckled and exchanged an amused glance with his partner. “That's who your pa used to be before he became your pa. Santa Claus probably ain't quite used to his new name yet.”

“Aunt Emily calls him Jed! Santa's going to be real confused! You gonna miss out on presents, Pa!” Lizzie's face started to crumple, and Jed pulled her into a hug with a slight glare in Heyes' direction, causing him to shrug a little in apology.

“Your Uncle Heyes has called me Kid for years, sweetie. Santa Claus won't have no problem findin’ me, I promise.”

That was enough for Lizzie, who pulled out of the hug and bounced off towards the kitchen. “I'm hungry!” Emily exchanged a resigned glance with Jed and followed her quickly.

Heyes shook his head and chuckled. “Well, even if she weren't your double, Kid, there's never going to be much doubt who she belongs to.”

As they also walked toward the kitchen, the Kid said, with slightly resigned amusement, “I'd say I don't know where it goes but, seein’ as she ain't never still for more than five minutes, I'm guessin’ the food don't get time to settle.”

Very Early Christmas Day

The Kid woke when thirty pounds of excited child bounced on his stomach. “Papa, you has to get up!”

Kid groaned. It was still dark outside, and he wasn't ready to be awake, but his bladder started screaming at him the minute his daughter landed on it. He rubbed his eyes and gently deposited her on the floor as he swung his legs out the side of the bed. “You wake your aunt yet?”

“No, Papa, just Uncle Heyes. He ain't up, though; he just told me that I oughta come wake you because you'd be excited too.”

“Well darlin', I coulda maybe stood a little more sleep, but you go roust your Uncle Heyes while I get some coffee on.” Although, with the ungodly hour, he thought that for once some of Heyes' bitter brew might actually be a better way for them to start the day.

With a gleeful nod, Lizzie ran out of the room. Even in bare feet, she still managed to thunder through the house and Jed doubted it'd be too long before Emily was awake, too.

He sat on the edge of the bed and relieved himself, before replacing the pot under the bed and rubbing his eyes. A sigh escaped him when a look at the pocket watch by his bed confirmed that it was indeed ridiculously early to be awake. But he knew there'd be no more sleeping for any of them, so with great reluctance he stood to gather his clothes and slowly dressed.

As he reached his bedroom door, he laughed when he heard the loud creaking of another door being flung open, quickly followed by the sound of a thump and Heyes' grumbling.


The Kid couldn't help grinning as he entered the living area after setting the coffee going on the stove and he was greeted by the sight of a sleepy and slightly dazed looking Heyes listening distractedly to Lizzie's non-stop chatter.

Jed was sure that Lizzie's boundless energy and endless ability to talk were about the only things she hadn't inherited from him, but his friend was equally adamant that as a young child, he'd been every bit as bad. Jed was unable to clearly remember those days and therefore had no way of knowing if that was the truth, but he certainly got much gleeful satisfaction from observing that Heyes had definitely met his match in a four-year-old girl.

Though after just a few minutes of watching in amusement, he took pity on his partner and drew his daughter's attention, receiving a grateful smile from his friend “Hey sweetie, let’s see what Santa's left us, while your Uncle Heyes checks on the coffee.”

Heyes walked slowly out of the door towards the kitchen, as Lizzie bounced over to the fire and grabbed the stocking with her name on it and started to excitedly search through it. She found candies and ribbons, before pulling out a beautiful and realistically carved wooden horse. Seeing a folded piece of paper tied with red ribbon round its neck, she handed it to her father so he could read what it said. She waited more patiently than Kid might have expected as he unfolded the paper and started to read.

“Dearest Elizabeth, follow these clues to find what your heart most desires.” Underneath the writing was a carefully drawn map with little pictures, the final one looked like a stable. The drawings were simple enough that Lizzie could manage to follow the map with only minimal adult help.

As Jed finished reading, a flash of anger at his cousin hit, as he realised just what that little map meant. His partner had bought a damn horse, after he thought they'd agreed to wait to purchase one until Lizzie was older. His suspicion was confirmed when he met his partner's mischievous gaze as he re-entered the room and walked over. “Whatcha got there, Lizzie?”

Lizzie, her face lit up in a huge smile, gave Heyes the map while still clutching the wooden horse. “I think Santa brought me a horse. Papa said no, but he musta ignored him.”

Jed shook his head as he glanced over his daughter's head to meet his friend's gaze. His voice was sharp as he said, “If I didn't know better, I'd swear that Santa is related to your Uncle Heyes. You know I ain't real happy about this. You're too little.” This last was said as much for Heyes' benefit as his daughter's.

Lizzie tugged at his sleeve and, as he looked down, she met his gaze. Her lip was trembling slightly, but she was obviously determined not to cry whatever he decided. “You gonna write Santa and tell him he gotta take it back 'till I'm older?”

Jed looked between his partner and his daughter and, despite his misgivings and real irritation at Heyes, he gave in, for the time being at least. “I ain't quite sure yet, Lizzie, but we'll go on the hunt when the sun's up and I'll decide after we seen the animal.”

“Oh Papa! Thank-you! I'm gonna go wake Aunt Emily and tell her.” She ran out of the room, the model horse clasped tightly in her right hand.

The Kid glared at his friend, genuinely annoyed. “That weren't fair, Heyes. I thought we'd discussed this. She's my daughter, so you don't get to make decisions on stuff like this without my say so.”

Heyes had the grace to look ashamed and his face dropped as he accepted that he'd been wrong. “I'm sorry, Kid, I know you're right. She just ain't easy to say no to.” He paused and said firmly, “Gimme a day or two and I'll find a way to convince her she's too young without too many tears, if that's what you think is best.”

The Kid sighed, knowing his friend had meant no harm and, suddenly unwilling to disappoint either his daughter or his partner at Christmas, shrugged in surrender. “Well, so long as you make sure she don't hurt herself and you help her take care of it. I guess it won't do no harm. But this better be the last time you do something for Lizzie that I don't sign off on.”

“This will be the only time.” Kid knew his expression likely mirrored his doubts as to Heyes being able to keep his word, when he added earnestly. “I promise, Kid, honest.” But then as irrepressible as ever, Heyes grinned at him and winked. “Lizzie will adore him, and you'll like him, too, Kid. He ain't too big and is as placid as they come, real handsome as well.” He paused and added more seriously. “She'll be good and safe; you know I'll make sure of that.” Kid felt himself nodding, in no real doubt of that. Heyes' grin returned in full swing as he patted his hand. “Now Kid, open your stocking, you're gonna love what 'Santa' bought for you. I outdid myself this year!”

The Kid wondered just when he'd become the sensible one and his lips quirked up at that realisation. He turned to begin opening his stocking, but a thought struck him, and he twisted his head back to meet Heyes' gaze. “When you gonna ask her, Heyes?”

The Kid held up his hand, his lips twitching upwards at the slight smile followed by feigned puzzlement on his partner's face as he replied. “Whatcha mean, Kid?”

Kid shook his head and his own grin widened. “You ain't foolin’ me Heyes! You know exactly what I'm talkin’ about. When you gonna ask Victoria to marry ya?”

Heyes laughed then shrugged. “I figured that church social on New Year's Eve is as good a time as any.” He paused then added, “Of everything I imagined when we were going straight, being welcome or even interested in attending one of those things never even figured in my thoughts.”

With a straight face, damping down his urge to smile, Jed said calmly, “Nor mine, Heyes, but now we're respectable business folk, we got an image to maintain.” Jed lost his fight not to laugh when his partner threw him a look, before he, too, broke into a loud husky chuckle, his eyes bright.

As they laughed, Jed swore to himself that he wouldn't ever take this hard won, amazing, wonderful life they had for granted. He only wished Lily was here to share it but losing her just meant he was even more determined to hold on to what was left even tighter. From the expression on his friend's face underneath the wide grin, he could tell that his thoughts were on a similar track.

As their laughter settled into broad grins of sheer happiness, Kid turned away from his partner to dig enthusiastically in his bulging stocking and said cheerfully, “Looks like 1894 is going to be a great year for us all.”