I've been really trying to write a Western lately and it's my first one, so...I hope this goes okay!

For the Cowboy

By: Emma Greening

"I ain't so sure about this, but I think that Trey Hasbrouck may have it. That lyin', cheatin' conniver's been out tryin' to do stuff of that kind since afore your family came to this valley." Doc Wofford drawled, as he sat down at the creek bank.

Stetson Hasbrouck listened closely from where he was hidden behind a juniper bush one the edge of the creek, scrubbing at his dirt caked arm thoughtfully. What was the it the men were talking about? It couldn't be old Rancher Davis's steer, his father had made sure that no one would find it. Ever.

He heard a voice harrumph, and a loud sound of hacking. "The way he treats his boy is just shameful! Ever since the lad's ma died, they've been sayin' that the kid's a bit touched in the head. It's a shame, but I'll be goin' out there ta check for that missin' steer."

Stetson's eyes widened when he recognized Rancher Davis's wheezing voice, and catapulted towards the bed of the creek for his clothes.

xxx

"Hey, get over here!" He called, clicking his tongue against the roof of his mouth, grinning when he saw the stolen steer trotting over from the bushes. He grabbed a lead rope, and slipped the noose over the beast's neck. "Time we got you home, huh? I'm sorry we had to keep you so long, but my pa wouldn't let you or me outta his sight." He rubbed the animal's neck thoughtfully.

"An' just what you might be doin', sonny?"

Stetson blanched, turning to find his father leering at him. "P-pa! What're you doin' back from Reno? I-I thought you was on a winning streak?!" He clutched tightly at the rope in his hand, dragging the steer along with him in his retreat.

"You was takin' that steer back to Rancher Davis, wasn't you? And then what? Was you gonna take everythin' else back too? You addle-headed acorn calf!" He grabbed his son by the shirt, dragging him forwards until their nose's practically touched. Stetson grimaced at the smell of whiskey on his father's breath.

"B-but pa, it don't belong here! Besides, Rancher Davis an' Doctor Wofford know 'bout who stole it, anyways! They's gonna come up here quick as lightin', if we don't do somet'in!" Stetson explained, leaning back as far as he could from his father's breath in his face.

"What? That's just another reason to hide her somewhere's else. But you're not gonna help me this time, boy, I'm gonna teach you a lesson." Trey Hasbrouck threatened, grabbing a branding iron from where it lay in the fire, forcing his son to spread out his fingers with the palm up. "Everyone will know it's you who stole that steer now, Stetson. 'Specially when I describe the mark on your hand here." He pressed the molten hot metal against his son's hand.

Stetson screamed and tried to jerk away, his face contorting in pain. He gasped in relief, clutching at his hand when his father finally released him, hurrying to the water bucket to dowse his wound in rather gritty creek water.

His father smirked. "Better get outta here while ya still has a chance, runt, or I'se fixin on layin' ya out for what ya did. It's enough that I'm puttin' the law on your tracks."

Stetson nodded weakly, tying his bandana around his aching hand and dove through the doors of the barn to saddle his horse, Nevadan Born.

He didn't think for a second that his father wouldn't do exactly as he'd said. A Hasbrouck always keeps their promises.

He shook his bandaged fist in the air, gritting his teeth at the pain but shaking it defiantly anyway.

"I ain't ever gonna forget what you done ta me, pa, and I'll come back to haunt you someday, Lord willin'!" He shouted above the sudden wind that was picking up. "Yee-haa, go on, Nevadan! Git!" He dug his heels into the horse's glossy, grey sides and they bolted forwards across the dry, dusty desert towards Reno.

Trey dusted his hands off and grinned. "That takes care of the varmint. Now for Sherriff Macy."

*3 Days Later*

Stetson peered up at the glowering sun wearily, then dropped his head onto Nevadan's neck, not minding the uncomfortable feeling of the pommel of the saddle digging into his stomach. He licked his chapped lips with a dry, swollen tongue, blaming himself for not bringing any supplies.

"Well Carolina, what have we here?" The sound of a human voice made Stetson jerk his head up a moment, but it wasn't long before he was prostrate again. He groaned when he felt strong hands tugging him off of Nevadan's back, to slump into a strange saddle, someone's arms holding him to keep him upright.

"Ahhh, Monsieur McGinty, what brings you here?" Stetson's eyes opened to slits when he heard a Frenchman's voice right by his ear. "But you bring a young man! Is he alright?" Stet flinched a little when he felt the man's hands prodding him all over.

McGinty laughed. "Has a bit of a dry gullet, M. Babineaux. Caught him out in the desert just wastin' away. Was wonderin' if ya'd take the boy in an' take care of him, since I'm right busy with all the marshallin' I've got to do."

Babineaux nodded and bowed before the Marshall's horse. "Of course, Monsieur. I will be most happy to do so. Give him to me, and I shall moisten his lips with some of the clear water in our stream."

"Knew I could trust you Babineaux." McGinty forced Stetson off of his horse, putting him in the care of the kindly Frenchman, who carried him into his little room off of the main bar room of the saloon.

"Now, mon garcon, open your eyes and let's see to your thirst, eh?" Babineaux unscrewed the lid of his canteen and poured a few drops of water down Stetson's parched throat, waiting a moment before the young man woke up fully, spluttering, and shoving his ministering hands away.

"That's enough!" Stetson choked out, shying away from Babineaux distrustfully, but feeling sick as he did so.

Babineaux's eyes twinkled. "You awaken, as I said. You are in Carter Springs, Monsieur, the best place in all of Nevada, and the sleepiest town to ever survive in the west. And who are you?"

Stetson opened his mouth to reply, but was stopped short when Babineaux hushed him.

"Never mind, you shouldn't be talking when you are dying of thirst, mon ami. Come, let me clean you up, wine you and dine you, eh?" He chuckled, giving Stetson a kiss on both cheeks, making the young man blush.

Don't know how well I succeeded in the beginning but I hope it's ok! So...reviews?