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In the Moment

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Heyes lay still and relaxed, suspended somewhere between slumber and wakefulness. It was a peaceful place, free from care. The dissipated remnants of dreams filled his mind, a haze of blurry-bright fog, obscuring all thought.

With his eyes closed he stretched experimentally, arching his spine and flexing the muscles of his back and enjoying the feel of clean linen against his skin, a fluffy pillow beneath his head. He was warm, dry, and comfortable. It felt nice.

It wasn't going to last, though. Such moments never did.

Heyes sighed. The drowsy contentment he'd been enjoying was slipping away, but he didn't want to get up, not yet. He cracked open one eye slightly.

The room was mostly in shadow. The little glow that did filter in from beyond the curtained window was weak and watery. Still early, then. It was quiet, save for the muted clatter of a horse and wagon some distance away, and the soft sound of breathing behind him. Heyes turned.

Kid was lying next to him, sound asleep. A faint wheeze was all that was left of a nasty cold that had laid Kid low for several days. Even in repose, his face showed the strain of days and nights spent in repeated bouts of coughing and restlessness. But at last, he was getting better.

Heyes smiled. This was a sight worth getting up for. He sat up, careful not to disturb the covers too much as he moved.

Heyes had hated to see Kid sick. There was that time they'd been holed up in the mountains near Wilksburg one winter: pneumonia, the doc had said. Not that Heyes had put all that much stock in the opinion of the lying, conniving Chauncey Beauregard, but watching Kid collapse, seeing him so still, so deathly pale... the hours until his fever broke were among the longest and bleakest Heyes could remember.

He leaned over and touched his lips lightly to Kid's forehead to reassure himself. Warm, but no fever, not this time.

Not ever again.

The thought sprang to mind unbidden, and Heyes felt a pang as he pushed it aside. It was stupid and useless to hope such a thing, of course, no matter how much he wanted to.

When he drew back, Heyes was startled to see blue eyes staring at him intently. "Sorry," he said, regretting the impulsive gesture that had awoken his partner.

Kid frowned and shook his head. He began to sit up, but Heyes put a hand on his chest.

"Where do you think you're going?" His voice came out sharper than he meant it to be, so he stopped and swallowed. Kid had gotten his arms behind him and propped himself up on his elbows, but as Heyes spoke, he held still.

Heyes could feel Kid's body heat through his henley—like his forehead, warm, but not too warm. His chest rose and fell in an easy rhythm. And under Heyes' fingertips Kid's heartbeat thudded, steady and sure. Even without a stethoscope, those beats told him all he needed to know: alive. alive. alive. He closed his eyes, savoring the moment, memorizing it.

Because it wasn't going to last. Such moments never did.

"Not going anywhere." Kid's voice was gravelly from all the coughing. It lent weight to his words somehow. "Leastwise, not anywhere without you." He laid his hand on top of Heyes', grounding him.

Heyes felt something inside him tighten and relax, all at once. He opened his eyes to see Kid's soft, knowing gaze.

Enjoy the moments while you're able. Love the best you can.

Heyes nodded. Wordlessly, he bent to kiss Kid's forehead once more then settled down to lay beside him, Kid's arm around his shoulders, his head pressed close to Kid's heart.

Heyes was still and relaxed, suspended somewhere between slumber and wakefulness. It was a peaceful place, free from care. The dissipated remnants of memories filled his mind, a haze of blurry-bright fog, obscuring all thought.