Sweets in Every Fold
by Farad
From September: Choice 1: take one of your least favorite fannish cliches and write it into a story, debunking it; AND from August: Choice 2: Length challenge: 500 words (or thereabouts) on one of the following themes: friendship

"We've got fresh berries and cream over biscuits for dessert," Abigail, the evening waitress said, clearing their plates.

"A treat!" Buck laughed, wiping at his mouth with his napkin. "You sure I can't take you for a stroll, make up for some of the work you do for us?"

"Oh, you," Abigail giggled, pushing Buck's shoulder playfully. "I'm a married woman."

Across the table, Vin shook his head, but he grinned.

"Never hurts to try," Buck answered.

Abigail giggled again, but turned her attention to Vin.

"Any point in me wasting berries and cream on you?" she asked.

He shook his head. "No, ma'am, just bring me a plain biscuit and some more butter - or some more of that hard cheese, if you can."

"You don't eat dessert, do you?" Buck mused, as Abigail walked away to the next table.

Vin shrugged. "Ain't never much been into sweet-tasting things. When I was a kid, they'd make me sick, so I guess I just never developed the taste. Rather have fresh bread and butter or cheese."

"Ha!" Buck laughed, sitting back in his chair. "I told Chris it was something like that! He swears that you're just afraid of anything you ain't had before."

"Well, I can put the lie to that," Abigail laughed as she walked back put a dessert plate in front of Buck and a saucer with several biscuits and cheese in front of Vin. "Vin never says no to food, not even desserts if there's nothing else. He just prefers other things when given the choice." She squeezed Vin's shoulder as she moved away.

Buck was still chuckling as he cut into his food.

"Why's that so funny?" Vin asked, picking up a chunk of orange cheese.

Buck stopped, shaking his head. "Chris thinks the two of you know each other so well that you don't need words. Sometimes, the way you two act, it does seem that way. It's nice to see that he ain't as on top of things as he likes to think."

Vin snorted, but he grinned. "Yeah, he stares at me sometimes like he's drilling something into my head. I just let it go, seems easier - hell, most of the time, what he's thinking is plain old common sense, ain't like it's a miracle or nothing."

"I been trying to tell him that, but he feels like he's closer to you 'cause of it, and I gotta tell you, Vin, it's been a relief to have someone else around to take some of the weight of it." Buck hadn't meant to get serious, but he hadn't had the chance to say it to Vin - hadn't had Vin admit to humoring Chris.

Vin's grin faded, but his eyes softened. "You're a good man, Buck, to have stuck by him this long. I'd have had to shoot him by now. I know he's in pain, and he's got reason to be, but all that grief and anger has got to wear on a soul." He looked down to his plate, but Buck saw the compassion in his friend's eyes, and the worry.

"Good to have some help," he said. "Reckon we both got a good friend when you came along."

"But friendship is the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold." --Oliver Wendell Holmes

The End

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