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Mud Butte

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"Mud Butte? Really, Walt? You're taking me to some god forsaken town in the middle of nowhere called Mud Butte?" She shook her head, wanting to pout and stomp her feet. She hadn't seen her own bed in forever - eight hours, Vic - and she was tired of being cooped up in the truck for so long - six hours, Vic. The toddler in her head was already flung across the seat, dramatically sighing and begging "how much longer."

"It's pronounced Byoot, Vic. Not, butt." He was mildly amused at her displeasure, knowing she actually enjoyed getting out of Durant more than she would admit.

"Whatever. Why are we the ones who have to go do the notification? Can't the local sheriff do it?" Her voice pitched a little at the end of her question, causing Walt to look her way.

"No." Walt shook his head and that was the end of it.

Vic huffed, crossing her arms over her chest and watching the horizon. It wasn't the worst place to be driving through, even if she'd never admit to that. The colors in the sky were blending together as the afternoon pushed into evening, and there was something calming about that for her.

It wasn't until Walt turned into a parking lot that she pulled out of her quiet pout.

The Prairie Oasis Motel was about ten rooms, a questionable diner and a playground that appeared to have gone unused for…decades judging by the seats missing from the swing set and the slide that had broken several feet off the ground. But there was an old red and white merry-go-round that caught her eye, in seeming better shape than everything within a mile radius.

She walked over, forgetting her frustration for a moment as she was transported to a time when things were easy. Her brothers pushing harder and harder, spinning them faster and faster. Until Mike, her youngest brother, puked on his shoes. Vic came out victorious as the one who could stand the ride the longest.

Walt's voice pierced her memory, causing her to turn fully toward him.

"What's so funny, Vic?"

Was she laughing? She hadn't realized that she was doing that. "Nothing. Just remembering riding one of these back home with my brothers. We'd spin and spin and spin until someone ultimately puked and we had to go home."

"I bet you never lost, did you?" He stepped closer to her, inadvertently brushing her hand with his.

"Nope. I was the champ. Still am." She smirked, bumping her shoulder against his.

"Prove it. Hop on." He gripped the handle in front of him and tilted his head toward the merry-go-round.

Vic shook her head, wanting to protest, but also feeling a need to show off a bit. She climbed onto the contraption and grabbed two handles. "Give it your best shot."

Walt pushed hard, making the ride spin. He set it spinning, waiting for it to make a couple of rounds before hopping on himself.

Vic grinned as he got on across from her. She let out a full belly laugh as his boots lost traction for a second. She couldn't remember feeling so at peace in such a long time.

When the ride slowed, Vic turned, facing the horizon and feeling the breeze shift just a bit on her face as she closed her eyes and enjoyed the movement. She grumbled when the merry-go-round stopped but opened her eyes anyway…to find Walt standing directly in front of her.

A little too close since the ride adjusted for their height difference.


She felt her breath catch. His presence was imposing like this, making her heart race. "Maybe we should…"

Walt put his hands on Vic's hips, knowing full well that she could get down by herself, but there was something about having an excuse for such intimate contact. He couldn't help himself.

Vic stepped off the ride, now nearly pressed against Walt who hadn't moved from his position. "I…"

Walt tipped his head, a half smile as the blush bloomed across Vic's face. "We should get food then finish our drive. Yeah?"

Vic swallowed hard as Walt turned and walked toward the diner. She hung back, composing herself and kicking her own ass for letting things go too far.

When she finally made her way into the diner, Walt was nowhere to be found. A waitress smiled at her and pointed to the bathroom. Vic nodded and sat at the counter. "Coffee, please."

"You newlyweds, hun?" The waitress grinned as she set the coffee down.

"What? No!" Vic shook her head, taking a long sip of the entirely-too-hot coffee to avoid having to come up with more coherent words.

"Sorry. You just seemed so happy out there. No one's used that thing in so long. Here. Look." The waitress set her phone down and hit play.

Vic watched the screen and couldn't help but smile when she heard her own laughter at Walt nearly falling. "Can you, uh, send me that?"

"Sure, hun. Your husband'll like it. I'm sure."

Vic didn't correct the woman this time. She just told the waitress her number and waited for the notification that she'd received the video. Maybe one day she'd show Walt the video.