foreverwarrior: (Miranda (eyebrow))
[personal profile] foreverwarrior
{For Mun/Immortal/Watcher Knowledge Only}

January, 1980
Studio 54, New York City

The music was loud, the drugs high quality, and the club was packed. If you could get in, you were pretty much guaranteed to bump into some of the better-known celebs of the day. I had barely walked through the door when my club friends descended on me en masse. There were, of course, the usual greetings of hugs and air-kisses before everyone climbed the stairs up to the balcony where we could see, be seen, and fly high.

I was just beginning to get a buzz from my first line of the evening when Danny plopped down on the couch next to me. He was already giddy from a cocktail of booze and probably a half-dozen or so different meds.

“Ever been to a rodeo, Nikki?” he laughed. “With actual by-god cowboys?”

Even in my present frame of mind, the word “cowboy” had me reminiscing about the years I’d spent West. Oh, I’d met Wyatt, Doc, Bat, the Kid, and a bunch of others. Hell, I’d even been an gunslinger in my own right; most simply called me The Lady. Suited me just fine. Made it tougher for folks to find me. I liked it that way.

“I’ve known actual by-god cowboys,” I replied, taking another line.

“No shit?” Danny laughed. “When?”

“A lifetime ago.” That was my standard answer for those questions.

“Well, look, there’s a rodeo in town tomorrow, at the Garden,” he explained. “Bunch of us thought it’d be fun going to see some dumb hicks try and hang on to a bull for god-knows-why.”

“Machismo, money and a belt buckle,” I replied simply.

“So, you in?”

I thought about it for maybe half a second. Why the hell not?

The next day, we were all down at the Garden. Danny had thought it’d be a riot if we all tried to dress the part, except I was the only one who actually got it right. The others dressed as they thought cowboys should dress: hundred-dollar jeans shoved into ostrich-hide boots, shirts that no cowboy would be caught dead in, and hats that would’ve made Roy Rogers proud. Not to mention they were all higher than damn kites, every last one of them.

I’d made it to the Garden before the rest of them. It didn’t surprise me at all when they all walked right by me, thinking I was just another dumb rodeo hick. Oh, I’d known for a long time my club friends were the shallowest bunch of hypocrites around, I just didn’t expect them to show that ignorance in public.

“About time you got here,” I growled, once again in my persona as an outlaw.

Danny, true to his nature, screamed like a girl as I surprised him from behind. The rest turned to look at me as though they’d never seen me before. I didn’t just wear the clothes of someone from the Wild West, I was someone from the Wild West.

My black wool-felt hat had definitely seen better days. My brown duster snapped in the cold January wind. Underneath it, I wore a cream-colored button-front shirt, cream brocade vest, dark brown leather pants, boots and even a pair of spurs. My friends, in all their city slicked finery, gawked.

“Where the hell’d you get all that, Nik?” Danny asked.

“Not here,” I answered simply.

Seeing as that was the only answer I was going to give, we all decided to head inside. As it was in my days as Kate Darcy, I didn’t say much. Didn’t have to. Danny, oblivious that his queer-as-hell behavior would’ve probably gotten him shot a hundred years ago, was the first one through the door.

“Oh my GOD!” he exclaimed as I entered. “What stinks?”

I sniffed. The Garden certainly didn’t live up to that name tonight. Smelled more like a barn, actually. I laughed. Cows, horses, feed and manure certainly gave the place a certain ambiance. I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed that life until that moment.

“I’ll catch up with you later.”

I didn’t wait for anyone to answer, but simply walked off, my spurs clinking in my wake. I followed a few signs, and my nose, down to the lower levels of the Garden. Before long, I started hearing the once-familiar sounds of horses and cattle. Dressed as I was, the security guard only nodded in my direction as I walked into the staging area for the rodeo.

It suddenly felt like I was back West. A commotion further back in the staging area caught my attention. From the looks of things, a saddle bronc wasn’t too happy with the current arrangements. He was spooked and needed to be calmed down before he hurt himself. I walked up to the nervous horse and reached up for his halter.

“Easy boy,” I soothed. “Just take it easy.”

Memories of some times I’d visited with the Cheyenne sprung to mind. Falling Water had been one of the best horse trainers I’d ever seen. I still remembered a few words in Cheyenne as well as some of the techniques Falling Water had used for calming horses. In no time, the frightened bronc settled down to quietly munch on some feed.

“Hey! Whattya think you’re doin’ with him?” an angry voice bellowed.

The horse’s head snapped up and he let out an ear-piercing whinny. I turned around to see a man rushing up towards me. He was fairly tall, and about as big around as a whiskey barrel. I glared at him as he stormed up to the corral. The bronc reared as though trying to get away from the man who banged on the rails to the corral with a short club.

“That’s enough outta you,” he barked at the spooked horse.

My eyes narrowed even further. Unless I missed my guess, the horse had been on the receiving end of that club more than once. If there was one thing I couldn’t abide, it was anyone or anything being mistreated.

“He’s no use to you if he comes up hurt,” I said.

“And just what the fuck do you think you know about horses?”

“More than you.”

“Look, lady, I’ve been in the stock contracting business for more years than you’ve been alive.”

“Oh, I doubt that.”

“You’re thirty if you’re a day, and I’ve been doin’ this for forty years.”

“I’m older than you think.”

“I don’t give a flying fuck. Point is, this is my show and no one’s gonna come in here and tell me what I can and can’t do.”

“How much do you want for him?”

I knew a fine horse when I saw one, and it was high time I left New York anyway. I could feel a new identity begin to form as Nickie the New York Socialite drifted away into a drug-induced haze. The man only stared at me.

“He’s not for sale. He’s the best bronc I got.”

“Name your price.”

“More than you can afford.”

I chuckled under my breath. Given the state of a certain Florentine bank account in my name, I could probably buy up half the City in one go. He shifted his feet under my glare.

“Fine, I’ll name mine.” I quoted him a figure that would make sure his grandkids would be financially secure. “And that includes a truck and trailer to go with.”

The man was dumbfounded. It was a few minutes before he finally nodded. I grinned a cold, calculating smile as I followed him up to the office where we could draw up the paperwork.

That night, with his bank account number memorized, the horse and I left New York City for good, after a quick stop by my apartment for some essentials: Brutæ and my broadsword among them. On the long drive out to Colorado, a plan began to form, as well as a new identity. Oh, I would get back every last dime I paid for Falling Water, with interest. One Mr. John Clark would, eventually, see his business go belly-up. That was ultimately my price for the saddle bronc.
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