Return to The Legend of Green Eyed Red Chapter Ten

The Legend of Green Eyed Red

Author: Tarawhipped
Rating: R (just to be safe)
Disclaimer: All characters are property of Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy.
Note: I'm jumping back and forth between the time of the story and the present (the present being 1918), present-day sections are indented.

"Hurrah! The Cavalry officers will surely arrive in time to save the day!" one bright-eyed young lady cheerfully assessed to a chorus of approval from her companions.

"Indeed," another replied dreamily. "And that Mister Finn sounds positively dashing. Perhaps he and Miss Maclay-"


The storyteller's outburst immediately silenced the murmurs and giggles, and all faces turned to the piercing green eyes blazing back at each of them in turn.

"Just what story are you girls listenin' to, because I'm fairly certain it ain't the one I been tellin'!"

"My apologies, Miss," the first girl said contritely, bowing her head under the intense gaze of the elderly woman, who barely paused in her tirade.

"Yes the Cavalry is on the way, but if you think they're just gonna ride in and make everything right well, you've been spending too much time at the pictures. And there will be NO Mister Finn and Miss Maclay - am I making myself perfectly clear?"

A dozen timid voices muttered their assent.

"Now then, where was I?"

"The Cavalry?" a lone voice squeaked out, but was quickly shushed by several others.

"Preacher Rayne?" another offered shyly.

"Oh! I know!" a third eagerly piped up. "Donnie and Will were on their way to the Summers'!"

"That's right, and it's nice to see someone payin' attention. Now, along their ride, Donnie and Will formulated a mighty fine plan to get Tara out of Dusty Hollow. We'll just call it 'Plan A' for the time bein' okay?"

As they passed out of the forest the road wound its way through cornfields until it reached a clearing. Donnie steered his wagon around the side of a modest wood frame house and toward the large barn, calling out a greeting as they approached. A moment later a gangly brunette came charging toward them.

"Donnie!" she exclaimed happily as she ran up to the cart, stopping just short when she spied Will hopping down from the seat. Donnie followed the girl's gaze with an amused smirk and cleared his throat.

"Dawnie, I'd like you to meet a friend of mine. This here's Will Smith. Will, this young lady is Miss Dawn Summers."

"Nice to meet you, Mister Smith," Dawn said shyly, attempting a curtsey and stumbling slightly. Will grinned before executing a sweeping bow.

"The pleasure is mine, Miss Summers," the redhead proclaimed formally. "You have a lovely home... I have not seen your fine estate's equal in these here parts."

Dawn giggled and hid her head behind Donnie's horse while Donnie himself rolled his eyes and shoved Will toward the barn.

"Now you've done it," he teased as soon as they were out of earshot of the girl. "That kid's already had crushes on every other boy in town, and you just hung a big ol' target on your back. She's a nice kid, but a word of advice? Do not under any circumstances eat her cookin'."

Several hours after they'd arrived, Will and Donnie sat down on the makeshift stage they'd constructed along with Hank, Larry and Clem. Willow wiped her brow with a handkerchief and looked around at the transformed barn in wonder.

"I hope you boys are thirsty!" a voice called out, and Will looked up to see a petite blonde entering the barn with a pitcher, closely followed by Dawn precariously balancing a tray of mugs.

"Don't drink it!" Donnie hissed in the redhead's ear, momentarily distracting her and causing them to miss witnessing the collision that brought both Summers girls to the barn floor amidst a heap of shattered glass. Once they had been helped up and away from the shards, Hank sent Dawn off to fetch a broom. Willow peered intently at the pile of glass, a smile spreading slowly across her face.

"Mr. Summers, I have an idea. Would you happen to have any thin twine?"

"An idea involving broken glass? My word, whatever could it be?"

"Perhaps it isn't the glass, it's the breaking," one of the younger girls suggested with a gleam in her eye. "Is Will going to break the Sheriff's legs?"

The storyteller blinked at the girl several time, bit back a grin and shook her loose mane of shoulder-length silver hair.

"Noo, no leg breaking... no matter how much he mighta deserved it. Now, if y'all don't stop interruptin' me, I'm never gonna get through this story."

Murmurs of "we're sorry" and "we'll be quiet" seemed to appease the woman, but before she could continue, the door to the Lincoln County Railroad Depot's Ladies' Lounge opened and a woman entered the room. The girls looked at the newcomer nervously, clearly expecting their entertainment to be halted. The woman, smartly dressed in traveling attire, her snow white hair curled into a loose bun, simply leaned against the wall just to the left of the door. Her blue eyes twinkled in amusement at the sight of the storyteller surrounded by her rapt audience, and she arched one eyebrow in silent question.

"I was just, er, telling these young ladies a story."

"Indeed? I happen to be rather fond of stories myself... when they are well told and... appropriate."

A dozen pairs of young eyes shifted back and forth between the two women, hanging on every word as they waited with baited breath to find out if the tale would be continued. At length one of the girls cleared her throat softly and spoke.

"She was telling us of Green Eyed Red. Perhaps you know the legend, Miss?"

"Intimately," the woman whispered too quietly for the girls to hear. Green eyes read the murmured phrase on her lips, then danced up to meet their blue counterparts. "I happen to be very well acquainted with that story," she told the assembled group as she happily accepted a chair from one of the girls. "In fact, it is one I never tire of. Please... do continue."

The storyteller shook herself out of reverie after a long moment and directed her gaze back to her younger listeners.

"Back in Dusty Hollow, other ideas were being formed, other plans being made..."

Tara and Anya sat at a small table in the uncharacteristically quiet general store, sipping tea and conversing amiably.

"It is my party Tara - anyone I say can attend - and I say you should invite him."

"Anya! I couldn't possibly! It simply isn't... proper."

"Oh, propriety!" Anya scoffed with a dismissive wave of her hand. "Did I care a whit for propriety when I took Xander into my bed before we were even formally engaged - NO!"

"Oh Good Lord!"

Anya and Tara both turned in time to see Mister Giles pivoting on his toe and rushing back into the storeroom. Tara ducked her head and blushed furiously, realizing their conversation had been overheard, but Anya merely shrugged and continued.

"It's only a dance, Tara. Half the town is going to be there. I could ask him myself if you wish, or have Xander do it. That is... assuming one of the Summers girls han't already extended an invitation to him..."

Anya trailed off meaningfully, smiling slightly and looking around the room, her face the picture of innocence. Tara's head had snapped up at her friend's too casual remark, her features darkening as shock quickly turned to indignation. Despite her pleas and her inner turmoil, she did want Will to go to the dance, and it had not occurred to her that someone else might take the opportunity to invite him first. She felt an acute and undeniable churning in the pit of her stomach at the thought of some other girl in the redhead's arms, and a look of fierce determination settled over her face as she caught Anya's knowing and clearly amused gaze.

"I'll do it."

"Excuse me Miss?" a hesitant voice queried. "Please forgive my interruption but well, you see, you've already told us that Willow is a female, yet..." As she trailed off, her face reddening, another girl spoke up in her place.

"It's just that... you speak of Willow and Tara in a... romantic fashion... but how can that be?"

The storyteller's laughter startled the girls, who looked to each other in nervous bewilderment. The white haired woman simply sat gazing at the storyteller, an enigmatic smile on her lips. When the latter had composed herself and spoke again, her voice was calm and clear, her eyes locked on one aged yet no less lovely face.

"True love comes in many forms, girls. The hardest part is to recognize it when you find it, and not to let your heart be unduly influenced by anyone else's preconceptions - not even your own."

A silence descended over the room as each present took in the words. After a long pause, one of the girls spoke, a hint of wonder evident in her voice.

"I do believe you are a radical, Miss."

"I will gladly accept that title, if by the term you mean revolutionary or possessing an alternate point of view from the majority," the woman repsonded with a wide smile. "Radical thought put into practice turns the wheels of progress. Not so very long ago, higher education for women was considered radical, yet you young ladies are all proof of its merits. Now that the Great War is over, Mr. Wilson is bound to extend the vote to women, which has long been fought for by a good many 'radical' women. Revolutionary ideas abound in the political world today. Is it really so shocking to think that radical thought should be applied to love as well?"

As her words echoed in the minds of the students, the storyteller took a sip of her coffee and continued her tale.

"Faith! What are you doing here, my sweet?"

"What's going on?" the brunette asked suspiciously, ignoring her husband's question and gracing him with only the briefest of sneering glances. Her father stood and enveloped her in a hug before returning to sit at his desk.

"Just a little business. Nothing you need worry your pretty little head about."

"Father...," she warned.

"Now Faithy, you know I don't like you exposed to talk of the criminal elements in this town. I was just asking Warren here to look after a potential troublemaker."

"Well that shouldn't be too hard, considering most of them are his friends," Faith snapped, glaring at her husband, who stood stiffly, his face turning red.

"So, Warren, I believe you were saying you saw the young man this morning?"

Warren looked from his father-in-law to his wife and back again, silently questioning whether or not he should continue with her in the room. At Wilkins raised eyebrow, the Sheriff cleared his throat.

"Yeah, I saw him alright. After he talked to Harris he was over at Donnie's, and the two of them rode off together toward the Summers farm."

"That is interesting," Wilkins mused. "My, my, he's becoming quite the social joiner for someone who was only supposed to be passing through," the Mayor emphasized, staring down his son-in-law, who blanched under the man's gaze.

"Do you want me and the boys to-"

"My my, Warren! Jumping the gun a little, aren't we? You know, as much as I appreciate your initiative, I think in this case I'd like to first find out what Mr. Smith's plans are while he's a guest in our town."

Wilkins sat back in his chair and steepled his hands together under his chin, a thoughtful expression on his face. Warren and Faith stood on opposite sides of the room, waiting silently for the Mayor to continue. After several moments, he swivelled his chair toward Faith, smiling broadly at his daughter.

"I think some lucky girl is going to a party tonight!"

Across town, Xander finished hoisting up the buckboard by a system of pulleys, locking the chain in place when the wheels dangled a foot off the ground. He crounched down and wedged a support block under the bottom of the wagon, but paused when he noticed a thin wire running along both underside rails and disappearing under matching brass plates, hinged on one side. Curiously lifting one plate, he heard a muffled click, and shuffled forward on his knees to repeat the procedure on the other plate. When he stood up, he could see that the bed of the wagon had shifted several inches toward the back, leaving a small gap between the front of the bed and the driver's perch. Xander gripped the overhanging edge of wood and pulled, walking backward a few feet and peering into the exposed compartment. His mouth gaped open and he walked slowly around the side of the cart to confirm the sight before his wide eyes. The sound of footsteps approaching his shop jerked him out of his stupor, and he quickly rushed to the back of the wagon and slid the board back in place before sliding himself down to the floor and running a hand through his tousled hair.

"Holy Moley, Will!"

Continue to The Legend of Green Eyed Red Chapter Twelve

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