I knew I loved Alice the minute she pulled out her whip.

She had tied me to the bed, like any cowgirl on a mission should, and she was bringing the whip out-but I'm getting ahead of myself. I should go back to the beginning. Not the actual beginning, of course, this isn't David Copperfield. Where the interesting part starts.

It starts with me being bored. A rather common occurrence, really. Being a Wrangler has benefits and downsides. The main downside is that every time you aren't out catching someone, it's boring as fuck. The main upside is when you are out catching someone, it's pure bliss. An adrenaline rush you can't get rid of.

Until you're stuck in the office doing nothing again.

Thankfully, I had a partner for doing nothing with. Owen, his name was. So Owen and I were doing nothing together. We had to go indentify in a bit, but we were content not researching the suspects. Who cared, anyways? If they were real Rogues they wouldn't get caught. At least our office had some semblance of intrigue. There were always secret affairs or dramatic arguments happening, the only thing that kept us entertained.

So after ten minutes of flicking each other in the forehead, Owen and I went to the identification.

We sat in a small metal room at a desk, the five suspects standing behind a piece of glass. Basically, we asked them questions and determined which one we should keep.

"Which'un looks the most suspicious?" Owen asked me, our code for 'which one is the hottest piece of ass?'.

"I'd say..." I said, scanning the suspects. My eyes landed on a brunette cocking her head and sticking her hips out. "That one."

"You sure?" Owen asked. "I'd say that one." He pointed to a blond who was standing perfectly straight, smirking at us.

"I like 'em with swagger," I told him.

"I like 'em with attitude," he said.

An intercom cracked to life, and someone's fingers snapped twice.

"Alright, boys," our Sheriff's voice said, "back to work."

"Sorry, m'am," Owen said. "May be that you're right. It's the brown'n, m'am!" He pointed to the girl I spotted originally.

"Good call," I told him.

He smiled at me. So we brought her into our room for questioning.

"Where d'you live, doll?" I asked her.

"East side," she said, tossing her hair. I tried not to lick my lips, but...

She rolled her eyes at me.

"S'your name, sugar?" Owen asked.

"Jesse," she said.

"Well, Jesse, where were you last night?" I asked.

"At home in bed. Where were you?" she asked me.

"Does that matter?" I asked.

Our answers would be the same, but only one of us would be telling the truth. And that would be me.

She laughed, looking at me like I was pathetic. And I was.

But that was then.

The interesting part really started that night. I got the late shift for patrol. I volunteered because I had nothing else to do. We let Jesse go home, like we let all the hot girls do—but I'll get to the interesting part.

It was dark and cold, about eleven P.M. I was riding around on my horse without a name. Literally. We weren't allowed to name anything except humans. I was sick of the dark and sick of everything being brown and desert-y and just boring.

And then I saw a girl trying to steal a horse. There was actually something interesting to do.

So I dismounted HWNN, and went after her. She couldn't get the horse untied from its pole. Itackled her. She punched me in the gut, knocking my air out and making me realize just how out of shape I was. I tried to grab her arms, but she managed to kick me in the face, knocking a tooth out.

I was just mad by that point. The blood streaming down my chin was not helping matters.

I was gonna get that little bitch.

She started running, and I tried to follow her, skidding on the hard, dry ground and falling over again. I could hear her laughing and that pissed me off even more. I got to my feet and managed to start running after her.

It was pretty much pitch black by that point, and I could only vaguely see her outline. She wasn't very tall, maybe the height of a teenager.

She ducked into a saloon. I sighed and followed her. I hate those kinds of places, especially Unnamed 17. The people there glare at me like they're gonna eat my faceor throw something at me. Of course, I'm quite paranoid, so that may just be my mind.

I pushed the door open, and all eyes went to me. I became self-conscious of the blood on my clothes and face.

"Ho, Weaver," Owen offered after a bit.

Why was he there? I thought he didn't like it either...or maybe he was just trying to make me feel better. "Where is she?" I asked.

"Who?" Owen asked.

"The girl," I said.

A barmaid walked up behind me, putting her hands around my shoulder and leaning on them. I didn't want to stare down her terrifyingly revealing dress, so I kept looking at Owen.

"That's real descriptive, hun," the barmaid said. "'The girl'."

"She ran in here a minute before me," I said.

"Oh, you're talking 'bout Scarlett!" the maid laughed. "Upstairs. I wouldn't have taken you for that kinda guy, though."

I had no idea what she meant by that, so I decided to ignore it and climb the extremely creaky wooden stairs. On the last step I must have put my foot down too hard, because the wood collapsed under my weight, and I found myself holding onto the banister for dear life, listening to everybody below me laughing.

"Forgot to warn ye," the maid called up. "Sorry, hun."

"Fuck you," I called back down, pulling myself up to the landing. There were two doors, one at either end of the landing. I opted for the one on the right, and pushed it open.

"Scarlett?" I asked, coming blindly into the room.

"Heya, mister," she said.

Then I got a good look at the room. It was pink, a bit too pink for my liking, and God was it small. There was a double bed that barely fit in the room, and lying on it was who I assumed to be Scarlett. She was a teenager. A pretty one, too.

The thing that confused me, though, was that she was naked. Completely naked. Like, zilch in the way of clothes. That stunned me for a bit. I cleared my throat, trying to ignore the large unnamed animal in the room.

"So...Scarlett...you're under..."don't look at her "Arrest. Right, that's the word. Arrest. For attempted theft, y'know?"

"I don't know a thing about that, mister," she said, getting up and walking over to me.

I backed up a step. "Weaver," I said. "I'm Weaver."

She kept getting closer to me until I was against a wall, staring down at her.

" I can't keep it in any longer," I said. "Why are you not clothed?"

She was raising her arm to my face, but dropped it, looking confused. "...isn't the whole point that I'm not dressed?" she asked.

"The whole point of what?"

"I thought you came up here because you wanted to fuck me!" she said.

"Nope, not my intention. I just wanted to arrest you."

"Well...if I fucked you would you not arrest me?" she asked.


"Aww, mister. Please? I'm just sixteen. I don't wanna spend my youth and innocence and shit trapped in a cell."

Innocence, my ass. But there was something about her eyes, they were nice and big and convincing, and obviously her secret weapon. They seemed to be pleading with me. Of course she didn't want to spend her life being a prostitute! Who did?

"Fine," I said. "But I'm taking you away from here. Watching teens make harlots of themselves is completely against what I do."

"You're that Wrangler I kicked!" she said, looking at my face.

She only just figured that out? I thought, Maybe not the brightest child.

"Yup," I said.

"Sorry, mister. I just wanted to do something new, ye ken?"

"Yeah, I guess," I said. "You got a family?"

She shook her head.

She could stay with me and my sister, but I don't know how much my sister would like her. It was a risk I had to take.

"Alright," I said. "You're coming with me."

She smiled, and started to push past me, to the door.

"You're not even gonna put clothes on?" I asked.

She shrugged.

"Who cares about 'em, besides?" she asked.

And that was how I met Scarlett, the first step on my journey to Alice.

A/N: Please review!