For the Soul of an Outlaw 2018

By: T S Joyce

He wasn’t ready for what was coming. He wasn’t healed enough for what Red Dead Mayhem was going to do to this Clan.

Relief at seeing him again warred with her fear for him.

“Hey Genie,” he murmured in a gruff voice, casting her a quick glance before he began to make his way to Colt.

Genie couldn’t help herself. She lost her ever-lovin’ mind and went bounding over to him, attached herself much like a barnacle to his leg, and held onto his jeans for dear life with her muddy little paws.

Kurt, Kurt, Kurt, my Kurt, you are here! You came back for me!

“I’m back to help with the crows, and then I’ll be on my way again,” he called to Colt, frowning down at Genie and shaking his leg to dislodge her.

Whatever. He was back, and she was still going to pretend it was for her.

“Okaaay,” was Colt’s reply.

In her head, Genie laughed like a psycho because she’d never heard Colt sound so shocked before. That’s what he got for that grody steamy fart conversation earlier.

“I’m gonna move us back into the barn,” Kurt said, giving his frown to Colt now.

“Okaaay,” Colt repeated, his gold eyes gone round.

“Okay. We’ll talk later then.”

“Yeah,” Colt murmured. “Talking would…be…good.”

Kurt nodded and then scrunched up his face at Genie but, fuck it all, she wasn’t letting go. She wasn’t a hugger in general, but Kurt was back!

Kurt shook his leg again. “Later, man.”

“Layer. Later!” Colt corrected himself. “I meant later. We’ll talk later. Soon. We’ll talk…soon.”

“Jesus,” Kurt muttered as he made his way back to the truck, dragging a happy Genie along for the ride. “This is the weirdest reunion   I’ve ever had.”

Now Genie was squirrel-sobbing with happiness, which wasn’t really comparable to human sobbing since she didn’t make noise. Mostly, her shoulders shook as she rubbed her face all over his jeans like an affectionate cat.

She’d been prepared to just lay around until the crows came to get her and/or die of sadness, but now she didn’t have to! Kurt and Gunner were home!

When Kurt opened the door to tell Gunner, “Get on out, Boy Boy, and grab your suitcase,” Genie scrambled up Kurt’s leg and into his truck. Kurt was yelling obscenities behind her, but she liked to pretend that when people yelled the F-word at her, they really meant the L-word. She sailed through the air and landed on a startled Gunner, who looked so cute and just like his dad. He was six and all squeaky-voiced and I love you I love you I love you.

“Dad! Is she going to bite me?” Gunner yelled as she nestled into the unzipped top of his jacket.

Silly boy. He didn’t get squirrel bites! Only squirrel kisses. She went to plant one on his chest, but Kurt yanked her off by the scruff of her neck. Helloooo, sexy man! When he dangled her in front of his face, his frown grew deeper. So cute. She wanted to squirrel-kiss him, too.

“I think she has rabies,” Kurt muttered.

I love you, too.

He threw her out into a mud puddle, but that was okay because she landed on all fours. Cute, cute man. She wanted to have all his squirrel babies.

Kurt and Gunner took off toward the barn at a crisp pace.

I’m coming! She bounced after them, splishing and splashing through the mud as they tried to flee. Silly boys. They couldn’t escape her love.

She followed behind them right up until the point Kurt yanked open the red apartment door and ushered his son inside. Kurt turned around and gave her a concerned glance, but that was okay! Everyone found her concerning. She was probably smiling with her buck teeth hanging out. Invite me in!

But then Kurt stepped inside, his boots making thud sounds against the dirt floor of the barn, and shut the door behind him with a soft, but deafening, click.

Genie stood there, frozen.

What had changed? Kurt still didn’t know she was a shifter, and Gunner was still scared of her. And she still wasn’t allowed in the apartment. Suddenly, her chest felt empty again, except now it was so much worse, and so much more painful. Why? Because for a few minutes, she’d known relief. She’d known what it was like to live outside the cage of sadness. For a few minutes, she’d forgotten who, and more importantly what, she was, and now she had to go back to being her secret self.

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