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The Duel

Chapter Text

A heart was not supposed to be this loud, Kelsey was sure of that. This was all different. More terrifying with seemingly more at stake. Her boots kicking up sand as she made her way to the corral. This was a mistake.

“What? Are you worried?” whispered Aleena who kept pace next to her, a smirk on her lips.

“Yes I’m worried, we haven’t had time to prepare.” Kelsey hissed back, pulling her hair into a low ponytail as they walked, a crowd of people behind them. “These are real bullets.”

“Kels, you’re being dramatic. Just do it like normal and if I actually get shot, so what?” Aleena shrugged, a wild smile now displayed on her face. Kelsey almost stopped in her tracks.

“This is so fucking stupid.” Kelsey replied before swinging open the wooden gate and waltzing in, Aleena right behind her. She would kill Cody for getting them into this.

“Alright, now! These two are the best shooters out west. They will each shoot an apple placed behind each other. Please place your bets! Time for a duel!” Cody announced before nodding at Noel who sighed going to stand at the side of them, unholstering his gun.

“At the sound of my gun.” Noel shouted, pointing his gun into the air. Aleena winked at Kelsey, flashing her a big smile. Her fingers dancing at the side of her hip, floating around her gun. Kelsey sighed, falling into position taking her eyes away from Aleena, attempting to focus on the apple to the right of her head. When the gun went off, the first thing Kelsey heard was the apple behind her explode then a maniacal laugh come from where Aleena was now on the floor.

“You shot me, idiot!” Aleena shouted, cradling her right hand. Noel laughed too as Cody and Kelsey ran two her side. The crowd was whispering to each other, some people suggesting to get the sheriff.

“No need to get the Sheriff, obviously Aleena won so hand over your money.” Noel took control, taking off his hat and holding it out as people begrudgingly tossed coins into it.

“Are you ok?” Kelsey asked, tears clouding her eyes.

“You shot my shooting hand!” Aleena exclaimed, looking up at Kelsey, still grinning.

“I’m so sorry.”

“Let’s get y’all into the inn, before the sheriff gets called.” Cody suggested, helping Aleena to her feet.

They walked back into town Cody and Noel headed for the general store to get supplies, as Kelsey and Aleena found their way back to their room. Aleena collapsed onto the bed, laying her hand on her already blood soaked shirt, her eyes following Kelsey as she rummaged around the room. Finally finding a cloth, she walked over to Aleena, sitting next to her on the bed.

“We gave them quite a show, huh?” Aleena asked, her voice soft. Kelsey scoffed, carefully taking Aleena’s hand in her own and wrapping it with a cloth.

“I’m really sorry.” Kelsey said through tears, setting Aleena’s hand back onto her stomach.

“Hey, hey. I’m gonna be ok. It’s straight through. We just will have to make the boys duel it out for awhile until I heal.” Aleena attempted to comfort Kelsey, using her left hand to wipe away the tears that fell down her cheeks. Kelsey’s eyes fluttered, looking down at Aleena. She thought about Aleena a lot. She thought about her laugh. About her bravery. About how beautiful she was but this she did without thinking, she leaned down, their soft lips grazing at first. She pulled back, Aleena smiled again, sliding that left hand around Kelsey’s neck and pulling her back in. Kelsey never knew a kiss could be so sweet and so good. She melted into it, their lips electric against each other. This was meant to be. They were meant to be doing this. The door opening suddenly, practically threw them apart. Cody and Noel stopped at the door.

“Uh, sorry. Do you want us to come back?” Cody softly asked, holding up the gauze in defense.

“No, lets get her cleaned up.” Kelsey answered, wiping away the remainder of her tears. A blush overtaking her face.

Chapter Text

*a little over a year ago*

Girls had always been on Aleena’s mind. It first started with her childhood best friend, Clara. They would run down to the creek together, holding hands. She never wanted to be without her and she could swear that she was the most beautiful thing Aleena had ever seen. Once they came into their teens, Clara met a boy. He was a ranch hand on a farm just outside of town and soon Aleena and her were spending more time apart than together. It had hurt. It was an emotional pain as well as a physical one. One that Aleena couldn’t place. Once Clara got married to that same ranch hand It burned. A fiery pain that ignited as she walked down the isle just to the left of that same creek they used to play at. They used to have picnics at. That same creek that they got drunk at. That same creek where Clara kissed her before telling her not to tell anyone. Later when asked about it, Clara would say it was a joke. That hurt, but nothing hurt as badly as when she first saw her. Eyes wide, the color of the ocean, hiding the pain that was obvious to a girl like Aleena. It was familiar. She was watching a girl, around her age get pushed around by some guys as Aleena sat at a table nearby. Admittedly, Aleena was lucky. She had met Cody and Noel as they ran away from robbing a bank Noel had supposedly worked at. She didn’t turn them in and in return they struck up a deal. The boys weren’t the best gunslingers but they could put up a tough front and that was enough to keep men off her back. She learned early on that Cody and Noel were inseparable, but it was far easier to get Cody on board with something. They pretended to play poker, while Aleena cased the joint. She wasn’t much for saloon robbery but they needed the money. She tried to forget about the girl, with hair like a lions, but her eyes always found that girl again. The pain returning, an ache. She needed to know her, talk to her, just something. Something more than following her with her eyes. She assumed the girl was a prostitute, a fine profession, but she was getting mistreated. That was abundantly clear.

“Go ask that girl to spend a night with you.” Aleena ordered Cody, tossing him a bag of coins. Cody looked at the bag, then at Noel who raised his eyebrow followed by a smirk. Cody coughed, uncomfortably.

“Ya know what, I’m good, man,” Cody replied, a fake smile appearing on his face.

“You’re not gonna fuck her, just go ask so you can bring her over here.I want to talk to her. “ Aleena all but rolled her eyes. Noel shrugged and with that Cody got up from the table and walked over to her, taking off his hat as he approached.

“Excuse me miss, would you be available to accompany me tonight?” Cody asked softly, she smiled slightly at him, the first sign of joy Aleena had seen from her.

“She’s already spoken for.” A burly man grumbled from next to the blue eyed girl. He reeked of whiskey. Not like Cody didn’t, but he at least smelled nicer. Cody looked back at Aleena for reassurance, who nodded. Her hand going down to float around her gun just in case.

“I can pay double whatever he’s paying you.” Cody said directly to the girl, ignoring the man completely.

“Hey! Blondie! She’s taken.” The man shouted, standing up. A hush falling over the saloon. It wasn’t super packed, but there was enough people for this to cause a scene for sure. Possibly even getting the sheriff called, something the gang tried to avoid at all costs.

“I believe that’s up to her.” Cody answered softly. She smiled bigger.

“You need to learn how to listen, boy!” The man then pushed Cody backwards, not hard and he didn’t even stumble. A sigh escaped his lips, which formed into a smile.

“That was a mistake.” Cody mumbled, as the sound of a chair being slid back came from behind him, seemingly out of nowhere Noel appeared next to Cody, his gun drawn and pointed at the offending mans face.

“You plan on roughing up my man again?” Noel snapped, his voice low and gravelly. The burly man shook his head quickly, backing away from Cody, who’s face was lit up as he looked away from Noel and back to the girl.

“Alright, what’s your name?” Cody asked the girl.

“Me?” She questioned quietly, the whole saloon’s eyes on her. Cody nodded. “Kelsey.”

“Well, Kelsey. We got places to be and we could use another team member, if you wanna join us. It’ll be equal pay and all that.” Cody offered. Noel stood slightly behind him, chest puffed. Kelsey’s eyes roamed the room, at the two boys who had shown her kindness, the men who had treated her poorly and at the people who just sat back and watched. She smiled, standing up and went over with the boys. Aleena slipped out the door, ahead of them.

“It’s been a pleasure! See y’all soon! Take care!” Cody boasted, as Noel dragged him out the swinging doors. Three horses stood outside, Aleena already on hers, tossed the boys their reigns. Tipping her hat towards Kelsey. “I’m Cody, that’s Noel, and that’s Aleena, you can ride with her.” Cody introduced her, before mounting his horse.

“Do we need to stop by somewhere and get you anything?” Aleena asked, leaning down towards her.

“I don’t really have anything to go get.” Kelsey answered, stepping towards Aleena and her horse.

“Alright, well let’s get moving.” Aleena extended a hand as Kelsey’s foot found its way to the stirrup. They clasped hands, Kelsey swinging herself onto Aleena’s saddle. Kelsey didn’t think Aleena was abnormally warm compared to the air, but she could’ve sworn she felt warmth radiating from her as she hesitantly wrapped her arms around Aleena’s stomach. She felt her chuckle, and then Aleena’s hands tightened Kelsey’s grip on her, as they started to trot out of town, the boys following behind.

“Thank you for taking me with you.” Kelsey said quietly into the ear of a practical stranger.

“To be honest. I don’t think I would’ve been able to leave there without knowing you were ok. “ Aleena replied at the same volume, then sighed as Kelsey hugged her a little tighter, her head coming to rest at the top of Aleena’s back. The pain in Aleena’s chest began to lessen.