AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story assumes a prior knowledge of Will and Diana's world, and it also contains more bad language than most of my other stories. Uneducated teenagers who kill for a living don't have very refined vocabularies.
The little blonde struggled with the iron pot as she dragged it toward the creek.
She swiped a curl out of her eyes and looked up. It was the new boy, the one who said he was seventeen but who she suspected was closer to her age, fifteen. Everyone said he was a demolition genius, but it was hard to believe that this coltish boy with the mischievous smile was the half-crazy derailment expert so widely feared in the rail towns.
He caught up to her, panting. “Want me to carry that? It looks heavy.”
“I can manage.”
Coyote followed her to the muddy bank. “Can I help you scrub it out?”
Macy sat down to take off her shoes. “You’re not fooling me. I saw you talking to Boeing and them. You’re not here to wash anything, so why don’t you just admit it?”
Coyote’s ears flushed red and he fumbled in his pocket. “Well, Boeing said. . .”
“I can imagine.” She rolled up the cuffs of her pants and dragged the pot into the water. “The answer is no.”
“But I’ve got a dollar. Silver, not that stupid paper.”
“I don’t do that any more. I’ll do it on a spy mission or to distract a guard, because that’s my job. You guys are on your own.” She bent over the pot and began scrubbing the inside with a rag. “Town’s not far away. You want to buy a girl, go there.”
Coyote waded into the water, boots and all. “Why are you being this way? I’m not like Boeing.”
Macy could think of a hundred ways this skinny kid wasn’t like Boeing, but before she could toss out a few cutting comparisons, the sound of voices caught her attention. She wiped her hands on her pants as three young men came around a bend in the creek.
Even now, her heart still skipped a beat at the sight of Boeing's handsome, even features. She had known she shouldn’t expect much from such a good-looking charmer, but he had come around often enough that she had allowed herself to hope. She had also quit charging him, which was too bad, since the money would’ve come in handy. Maybe she could’ve afforded to have the baby, or at least pay for a proper abortion. Now she wouldn’t ever be able to have children, and Boeing insisted it wasn’t his fault.
Boeing’s lips twisted into an ugly smirk, but he didn’t say anything to her and called to Coyote instead. “What’s the matter? Don’t tell me she said no. You’re a pathetic piece of shit if this slut won’t take your money."
Will pulled his hat lower and looked away in annoyance.
Aguilero laughed. “Even whores got sense," he told Boeing. "Maybe his imaginary friends made a eunuch of him.”
Boeing turned to Macy. “That shouldn’t stop you. Everyone knows whores will do it with anything for the right price.”
“Enough,” Will said. "Leave the girl alone. I thought we wanted to catch some fish.”
“And I got one. Cut the chivalrous crap, okay? I’m not the one who wants to fuck his own sister.”
With startling swiftness, Will dropped his fishing pole and slammed a fist into Boeing's belly. Boeing bent double, gasping, then reached for Will’s legs and threw his weight against him, sending them both into the creek with a splash.
As they cursed and pummeled each other, Aguilero walked over to Macy and gazed at her down the bridge of his much-broken beak of a nose. “It’s just as well,” he said. “They needed a bath. It was getting hard to hunt with them because they scared the game.”
Before Macy could figure out if she should laugh, he added, “So since you’re free tonight, how about it?”
Men were all alike. Not a nice one in the bunch. “I’m not free.” She waved a hand at Coyote, who was watching the proceedings with cat-like curiosity. “You can say whatever nasty things you want about him, but at least he doesn’t call me names. If I spend the night with anyone, it’ll be with him.”
Boeing had forced Will’s head under water, but now he let go and turned around. “Hey, Coyote! When she takes you to her tent tonight, be sure you ask her to—”
His words were choked off by Will’s hand around his throat and the boys fell back into the water and began struggling again.
Macy fled into the woods and didn’t stop running until she came to a low wall. Far from the boys and their taunts, she curled up on the concrete and cried. When her tears were spent, she lay sniffling and listening to the chirping of birds overhead and the scratching of squirrels’ feet on the bark of nearby trees. After a long time she heard another sound: footsteps. She sat up, cursing herself for being so far from camp without a weapon.
“Oh,” she said, as Coyote emerged from the forest. “I thought you’d at least want to wait until tonight.”
“Actually, I came to bring you your shoes.” He set them on the wall. “You didn’t step on anything, did you?” He reached for one of her feet, but she jerked away. “Okay.” He sighed. “I just wanted to make sure you hadn’t cut yourself.” He shoved his hands in his pockets. “I also wanted to tell you thanks for taking up for me back there, but I don’t want it if you’re doing it just to spite them. Even if I’m paying you should want it a little, so forget about it. No hard feelings.”
As he turned back to the trail, he added, “Don’t worry about the stew pot. Will broke Boeing’s nose, then me and him made him take the pot back to camp.”
Macy hugged her knees and watched Coyote disappear into the woods. She stared so long at the shadows that she lost track of time and was startled to realize it was late in the day and she still had chores to do. She tugged on her socks and laced up her shoes, pausing to run a finger across the battered leather, marveling that Coyote had brought them to her so she wouldn’t hurt her feet. Maybe he was crazy, but at least he was nice.
She walked the trail, enjoying the afternoon sunlight filtering through the aspens. At the sight of one of Coyote’s boot prints, she impulsively scooped up some of the soft earth. A curandera had once told her that the dust of a person’s footprints held magic. Macy wasn’t so sure about that, but she dropped a bit into her pocket, just in case.