Collect and Capture

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"Ev'ryone can use some kindness from a stranger, I reckon. I ain't gonna let a woman suffer when no one else will help her," he told Lexi, hoping that little explanation answered her question. It would have caused him too much grief and remorse if he let her lay there. In fact, if he didn't help her, she probably would still be broken down on the floor. Besides, it earned him a place to stay while he was in town. A lot of good came from committing to useful deeds.

Leon watched as she began to move herself out of the tub. He didn't move a muscle as she did so, in case she'd need to use him as support. Plus, should his movements cause her to trip or lose balance, that would burden heavily on his shoulders. It was admirable to see her fight against such excruciating pain without much help.

When he stood up in the tub, he tensed in order to resist shaking himself like a wet dog. All of his clothes felt heavy because of the water; he hoped not much got in his nice boots. He stepped out and took the towel from her, his feet moving about to remove the boots, leaving them laying on their side to drain. "Don't worry about it," he assured.

Leon turned his back to her, letting her know that he won't stare if she wanted to strip off the rest of her clothing; if you call that clothing. He undid his shirt without any complaints, and then laid it out on the floor next to the boots. The same was done with his pants, underwear and socks. Once he was nude, he wrapped the towel around his waist in order to spare her a view of his private areas. There were various scars all over his muscular build, and a tattoo on the back of his left shoulder, which symbolized the group of gunslingers he was involved with.

A thumb and index finger grabbed at his nose for a moment as he sniffled, trying to empty water that managed to get up there. He then reached down for his hat, the other hand dusting off the top of it. This didn't get soaked, which he was glad for. This had sentimental value, after all. Getting it ruined would have been upsetting.
Lexi had left the room long before he'd had a chance to undress himself so that she didn't embarrass herself any further. She stared at her bed and sighed as she needed to tend to Azure. He was going to have a tantrum if she didn't take care of him soon. She took her wet clothes off and breathed a little easier. Parts of her back, side, and stomach were badly scared. Some of it was knots of scar tissue and some of them were spread out. The most nasty one was on her stomach, it was about 6 inches long and about half a centimeter wide, even healed it still looked angry and violent.

She put on a loose button up shirt and pulled up her trousers. She didn't bother tucking in her shirt so she left the suspenders, that were attached to her pants, dangling along her thighs. Slipping on her boots, she slipped out of the house quietly. She smiled as she approached the horses, they were pretty cozy together. She had started by picking the awful lumps from both of their coats and talking sweetly to Daisy and Azure. Horses were the only company that she had really kept consistently.

They seemed to really enjoy each other, so she kept them in the same stall despite the fact there was only one. "Now don't you do anything inappropriate, because I'm being nice." She had told the two of them sternly as she removed their reins and hung them up. As she was busy doting over the horses her mind had wondered as she started asking questions about Leon to Daisy. "How did he become the way that he is? I've never come across someone so... so... like him." She shook her head as she started unbuckling their saddles. She couldn't lift them and she didn't really know what to do. Maybe she could try to slide them off.

She bit her lip and walked over to Daisy, she had clearly been wearing her saddle longer and could use some breathing room. She held her breath as she gripped the saddle and went for it. A strangled noise tore through her as the weight of it slung her to the ground blossoming the pain in her ribs. She was curled over the saddle heaving and hyperventilating. Perhaps she had gotten more hurt then she had initially thought. Lexi forced herself to stand and make her way to Azure. She reached for his saddle her body was shaking but she ignored it. She would take care of her horse. She took a deep breath and slid it off and like before the weight and momentum of it dropped her to the ground pulling her ribs. This time she didn't get back up, she stayed curled up on the ground, whimpering softly.
Dixie was thankful to Lexi for working on removing this saddle. It almost never came off because she was always traveling! There seemed to be some sympathy in her dark eyes as Lexi struggled to perform this task, and she then snorted when the woman asked about Leon. If the horse could speak English, she'd gladly explain what she could about Leon. There wasn't a person in this world that could fully understand that cowboy, though.

Leon got himself dry and felt he should get on some clean, dry clothes. His bag of clothes and other items was left with his horse, so after securing the towel around his waist, he left the washroom to grab his pack. It wasn't too pleasant to walk outside in nothing but this towel, but at least he felt a little cleaner now.

When he got to the stables, he looked to the two horses, noting that they didn't have their saddles anymore. He then heard whimpering... Leon's gaze went to the crumpled girl on the ground who was curled up, crying out quietly because of her body aches. A sad sigh passed through his lips when he saw this. After slinging his bag over his shoulder, he knelt next to Lexi, hoping that this towel would not unwrap.

"Lexi, c'mon," he said softly, hooking one of his hands under her armpit and wrapping his fingers around one of her hands. Carefully as he could, he helped her back to her feet and let all her weight fall against his bare chest. The hand under her arm slid down to wrap that arm around her waist. With his other hand, he picked up the saddles to hang them from a pair of hooks screwed into the wall. After that, he began to bring her inside, hoping she wouldn't protest.

"I'll do whatever work ya got left. Yer hurtin' too much right now."
Damn, that man had to find her in the worst of occasions. She was trembling in his arms, maybe it was just time to give up. She wrapped her arms around him, he was the only real person she had to trust, which was sad as he was a stranger. She was truly grateful to have him here though. "I'm not really this pathetic... but for what it's worth thank you." She lightly kissed his cheek and laid her head on his shoulder as she braced herself for getting back in. It was getting late. It was kind of nice to have someone to hold onto. She never knew that she even missed it.

She was hungry and was willing to bet that he was too. She had some stew and bread left from yesterday she could heat that up and add some more vegetables to help thicken it back up. "They should be brushed. I bet Dixie would like." As she spoke into his neck her breath was gently blowing over it. She felt as though she were falling asleep, her eyes were closed, she was just going to rest them. "She's a very sweet thing, seems to really you. I think it says about a person." Her words were becoming sluggish and she thought she may have been skipping words, nah she was just thinking crazy. "I hope that don't I'm some kind helpless."

While they were talking they were walking inside she had actually managed to lead him into her room. She must have been real tired. "I don't know why we made it in here. I was going to heat some food." She felt like she was acting like a drunk lunatic. Her hand ran down his bare ripped chest and abs, with the lightest of touches. "I think I need some space, for your sanity." She pushed away from him, making her way to the door.
Leon made a noise of agreement when Lexi said that his horse should be brushed. He couldn't remember the last time his companion had been pampered; she was always carrying his weight. Hopefully now, Dixie could relax and perhaps make friends with Azure. For now, this woman he was helping take care of took priority. Dixie had food and water and a safe place to sleep, so he kept that calm in his thoughts.

After a while, he was taken to her bedroom. His gaze softened as she caressed his chest, her fingers running along the ridges of his muscles and scars. It meant a lot to him to know that she trusted him so much. He had no intention of inappropriately touching her... Leon felt that by now, she realized that.

The bag on his back was taken off and set on the floor when she left him to go walk out of the room, probably to get food like she mentioned a moment ago. Now that he was left alone, he felt it was a good time to get clothed. The towel around his waist was dropped to the floor while his hands shuffled about in the bag. A plain, white t-shirt was pulled out, along with a pair of jeans and some clean underwear. Once it was all put on, he walked out of her room to see if she needed any assistance.

"Thank ya, again, for letting me stay here," he told her earnestly.
Lexi was tending to the stew after she had got the fire where she needed it. She was so confused as to when she started being a cuddly person with men. He was the first man that did not revolt her, in a long long time. Even after today there she was getting all worked up over a guy. Her lips were pursed as she concentrated on her breathing. It was becoming harder to breathe through the pain in her ribs. She sat down at her table and jumped a little when he spoke, " 'Bout scared me to death. I told ya it ain't no problem."

This man could be the death of her. With his tight shirt and tight pants, he seemed so delectable. She groaned and meant to lay her head on the table but instead she wound up slamming it on the table. "Ow.." Lexi decided to keep her head on the table. "The stew will be ready soon" Her face hurt and now her head hurt worse. This was a really bad day for her. Maybe she should just go to bed and try again later, but despite her better judgment she had company and she could not be rude and leave him.
Leon made a face when she clumsily banged her head on the table. This girl seemed so... Accident prone. Yet, she still maintained a high level of beauty. He wondered how he could be in the presence of somebody so gorgeous! While aware that he wasn't too bad looking himself, he didn't feel that he was worthy of her. The man, or men, who mistreated her certainly weren't, though. If he ever caught someone causing this woman any harm, he would not hesitate to launch his rock-hard fist into their face.

Quietly, he walked over to the table to stand behind her, and set a gentle hand on the back of her neck. His fingers began to gingerly massage it, hoping that he could help relieve her of the headache she must have now. "Been a rough day, yeah?" he said, his stomach growling as the aroma of stew filled the air. "If there's anything I can do, it ain't a problem."

With one last stroke to her neck, his rough, strong hand left it so he could go to her kitchen and get food for them. Leon felt famished, and figured she must feel the same. He also insisted... It made him feel bad to have her doing the work. Lexi was in a tremendous amount of pain, after all. In no time, he returned to the table with a bowl for each of them. It didn't take him long to learn where her dishes were.
Lexi practically moaned as her body melted and her temperature rose when his hands touched her neck. She bit her lip as her toes curled with the sheer ecstasy that his hands had brought to her. And then, just like that, they were gone. The smell of the food was most delicious so she assumed that he went to get some. She smiled at him when he returned.

The corner of her bottom lip was slightly swollen. Around her eye was black that went into lovely shades of blue and purple. Lexi had no idea what she looked like and she hadn't looked in the mirror to even see the damage she just knew it was there. The only pain she really noticed was her ribs. "I'm not usually this unfortunate, but I gotta' say it's been one hell of a day."

She shrugged a little and started eating her soup. It was really delicious, there were a few spiced that one didn't find in this part of the world. She got up and grabbed some bread that she had momentarily forgotten about. She sat down at the table splitting it between the two of them. She gave Leon the bigger piece as he were probably more hungry. She decided not to have small talk until after the soup, unless he said something.

Lexi looked out the window, momentarily distracted by the storm that was creeping in. "Looks like it will be a cold and nasty one tonight. At least everyone has shelter." She mused out loud. "For some reason people think it don't rain none here just cuz it's the hot West but don't let them idiots tell ya differently. Sometimes the weather is like Gods wrath 'ere so keep a keen eye out."
The stew was devoured in a matter of minutes, but he was polite about it. Making any rude noises and letting food drip from his mouth was not acceptable at a table with a lady. Leon preferred to eat in a more civilized fashion, anyway. He was a man, not an animal.

"Delicious. Thank you," he said gratefully as he pushed his dishes away from him, licking quickly at his lips to catch any excess. The flavour of the stew was amazing, he thought. It felt wonderful to be able to eat an actual meal, instead of some uncooked beans with stale bread, or whatever else he had to carry. Beef jerky got boring to eat at a certain point, too. That really said a lot about how often he traveled.

When she mentioned the weather, he turned his head to look out the nearest window. A storm was approaching, unexpectedly at that. Leon never put doubt into Mother Nature's decisions when it came to the desert. Unpredictable things happened... The only obvious aspect of the weather was that it would be scorching hot during the daytime.

"I'll keep that in mind," he promised, grateful for her warning and wisdom. Now that they were fed and under a roof, he wondered if she needed another bath, or just to go to sleep. Leon wanted to offer his help, or ask, but didn't want to sound awkward about it. Really, he just wanted to be helpful. He was genuinely concerned for her!

"Do ya need help with anything?" he decided to ask.
She smiled at his sweetness and the concern that he had chosen to show her. "The horses still need to be brushed before the storm." She stood up and grabbed two apples from her counter. The pain was still there but she always did what she had to first. She had stopped in front of a mirror on her way to the door and touched her face wincing a little. Her eye was not swollen but the colors blossoming around it were pretty bad. Her hair was crazy and going in many directions but she hardly noticed it. She bit her lip and moved to put on her jacket. The motion of putting on her jacket caused her to hiss a little but she pressed through it.

"I would like to get that nasty crap off of 'em an I bet the do too. I don't think it'll take that long." She shrugged and her face was calm but her eyes were screaming with the pain that the motion hat caused. Sighing she went outside making her way over to the horses.

She dropped the apples as a blush came over her face and shock held her voice frozen as the sight of Azure mounting Dixie. She didn't know if she should apologize and leave of scream at him. She was too shocked to move or do anything.
Leon followed close behind Lexi so he could help with cleaning up the horses. Letting her do that by herself seemed like a terrible idea, plus he didn't want to be left all alone in her house. His eyes were on the floor as he walked, until he heard a thud twice. The apples were dropped... But why?

Looking up, he too saw the unexpected. "Oh... God!" He put a hand over his blushing face and turned his back to the pair of horses, his eyes blinking repeatedly as if that was supposed to get the image out of his mind. Dixie was going to give birth to a pony in the future... That didn't sit too well with him, since he relied a lot on his companion. Nature took its course, though. Who was he to question or insult it?

"Ah... Should we try back?" he asked, his voice still calm and cool as always, but the look on his face had broken that stoic mask. It was clear that Leon was in a state of shock.
Her blush was still vivid when she remembered to turn around and that is was wrong to stare at something like that. She grabbed his wrist and led him back to the house. Lexi turned to him and started talking a mile a minute, "I am so terribly sorry. Is there anything that I can do to make it up to you? Do you think that she will actually have a baby now? You truly can stay here as long as you need to. Oh my goodness I am so sorry." She had started rambling her cheeks were still flushed as she was talking to him. "How can I make this up to you? I know that you travel a lot any you need Dixie but now she wont be able to travel in such a manner. I truly feel awf.."

Her voice trailed off as her head started spinning and her vision blurred. She didn't think that she could really push herself too much more. Lexi grabbed onto Leons strong well toned arms to stead herself and rested her head in the middle of his chest. She closed her eyes and tried to concentrate on breathing. With the state of her ribs it was a fairly difficult task, one she had been trying to ignore all night. Her concentration was on her breathing so she could not stop the wheezing noise of it, that she had been so successful at hiding from him all evening.

She spoke into his chest, her voice was soft and small. "I don't think that I can carry on any longer tonight. I don't want you to worry anymore then you have.. Will you do me a favor and sleep beside me?" She blushed as she asked him. "To make sure that I keep breathing, ok?"
Leon blinked at her as she rambled on with apologies and asking how this could be made up for. In truth, he didn't feel that she was in any sort of depth. His eyes turned somber when she grabbed onto him for support, hacking up a storm because of the pain she was in. Leon put a comforting hand on the back of her head, letting his fingers get tangled with her hair. This poor girl needed to get her rest... It ached his heart to see her push herself when in a bad condition.

"Of course," he said non-hesitantly, when she finished asking him if he'd lay beside her. The only thing on his mind was watching over her, keeping her safe. It would be unforgivable if he let her suffer during the night due to lack of oxygen...

"I will holdja close, I will wake to help ya if yer breathing turns abnormal," Leon promised, not realizing how romantic that sounded. He didn't get involved with women anymore, since he couldn't commit to any relationships with all the traveling. Plus, he just hadn't found the right girl yet. Most of the ones from his past just didn't create the right chemistry, or they only cared about his looks.

For now, he would be Lexi's knight in shining armour.

"Are ya ready for sleep, then?"
Lexi had blushed when he had said that he would hold her close. Her heart started beating abnormally as she found herself getting mildly excited about having his arms around her. Taking a breath Lexi calmed her heart but her damned blush would not go down. Luckily her eyes hadn't reacted he was doing this because she requested. Lexi had to keep that thought in mind so that she would not embarrass herself or him.

Lexi suddenly remembered that she did not have any sleeping gowns. This day just got better and better.. She would find something. She had to..

"Yea, it's 'bout time for that and thank ya. I 'priciate it." She almost took his hand to lead him inside but she stopped herself at the last moment. It was rude without permission on either side. She started walking back inside going to her room. "Imma get ready." She said as she closed the door behind her.

She couldn't find much so she settled for a button up shirt that came halfway down her thighs. It would have to do it was the best that she had. She bit her lip as she opened her door and came back out.
Patiently, Leon waited for her to get dressed for bed. He stared at the closed door, a hand rubbing on the side of his neck. There were many thoughts racing in his mind. He wasn't the type for reflections, but now that he finally settled after some traveling, there was time to actually use his memories and acknowledge new ones.

When the door opened back up, he was brought back to reality, blinking at Lexi in nothing but a button up shirt. That was an odd choice of sleepwear... Who was he to comment, though? It looked comfortable.

So that she wouldn't have to wait too long, all he did was peel off his jeans and laid them out on the floor next to his pack. Sleeping in his t-shirt and underwear would suit him just fine tonight. Deciding to be helpful, Leon pulled the blankets of her bed over, also testing the pillows for acceptable comfortableness. This was what she slept on every night, yet he felt it necessary to assure her everything would be decent for slumber, as well as safe.

"Ready?" he asked, waiting for her to choose the side she'd sleep.
Lexi smiled a little and nodded to Leon, "Yeah" She moved to the left side of the bed as she helped him move the covers back. Lexi didn't really have a side of the bed so she just went to the closest one, so she crawled in the bed. She looked up at him as she realized that it had been a few hund.. a very long time since there was a man in her bed. Lexi was not sure if she even knew how to sleep with a man any more. Pleasure of the flesh, one could never forget something like that, but to lie with someone..

Lexi looked up at him as he fluffed the pillows. She blushed a little bit, this was going to be more intimate then anything that she had experienced in quite a while. He was a truly sweet person, she was a stranger yet he was to only one that lent a hand. He smelled like a mixture of the wild with a touch of her scent. She bit her lip as her heart started pounding in an almost unfamiliar way when he drew near.

Her eye was not swollen anymore but it was still blossoming with black, blue and purple bruise. Her ribs were bruising with a dark red and black. She felt awful and broken. She had been through worse and she would survive. She felt like she actually might have a few broken or cracked ribs. Breathing was going to be horrible for the next few days and she would not look any better.

Yet here Leon was, smelling like the tempting wild and freedom. And that was what made her heart pound and her cheeks blush.
Leon got himself comfortable in her bed, pulling the blankets over them securely at the same time. He kept himself aware of the damage her body took. There were many bruises and her eye was healing properly, however there were a lot of colours there. It amazed him just how strong she was, though. Most women he's seen take so many beatings could barely stand on their own two feet! Plus, they required professional medical attention. Leon wondered if this town had a doctor... He worried about her.

Tucking those worries away, he turned himself, looking down at her with his cold gaze. His firm stare betrayed his true feelings, though. Leon felt relaxed and at peace now. Above all, he was comfortable; grateful to her for letting him use her home. It was so much better than using a motel that probably had no quality. It looked like while he investigated this place's horrors, he would be watching over Lexi as well. How hard could that be?

That was, if she wanted his consolation.

Laying beside such a beautiful woman was not expected at this point. The last time he was in another lady's bed was a few years ago, he recalled. Since then, he didn't have any time for satisfaction or he just didn't care to socialize with anyone. He stayed close beside her, absorbing the warmth of her body. A strong arm draped across her, being mindful of the injuries. He did say he'd hold her, after all.

"Will ya fall asleep alright?" he asked, willing to help her in any way he could.
Lexi found herself unable to stop blushing. What was it about him? When he wrapped his arm around her, she could have sworn that she felt her heart skip a beat. He was so warm and solid. Before Lexi had realized what she was doing, she was cuddled up to Leon. Pressed solidly against him with her head nuzzled into his neck, with one arm under his back and the other was laying on his chest. She was mortified.

Lexi had no idea what had caused her to lay with him as though she had laid with him many times. She probably shouldn't have don't that, it could have made him uncomfortable but even then she could not bring herself to move. If he showed discomfort, she would move then!

Even though she couldn't get any closer her body still tried to. Her eyes fluttered shut. She felt so warm and her heart sang with joy at being close to him. She was starting to drift asleep, she almost didn't hear him talking. Lexi nodded her warm breaths blowing across his neck. "Will you?"
The embrace of a woman, he now remembered, was a magical thing. Having her thin fingers on his chest sent a warmth through him. This moment seemed like they knew each other for years already; they were so comfortable side by side. Leon kept her as close as possible, relishing the warmth they were sharing.

Her warm breath sent a shiver up his spine. It was a challenge to stop himself from making any kind of shiver. Judging by her tone, she was ready to fall into a deep sleep. This relieved him, especially when she confirmed this with a nod. Leon smirked to himself and nodded back, his whiskery chin moving along her scalp when he did so.

"I will. Don't worry," he said quietly.
When the contrast of his whiskers and her head med, Lexi shivered. She couldn't help herself as her leg slid between his and wrapping her ankle around his. Something about him took all of her senses and made her all mushy. It was the most peculiar behavior and reactions but Lexi was too tired to worry about it. She couldn't die but Leon made her feel safe.

Her hands flexed as her arms tightened around him for a moment. Her heart had started pounding when he made her shiver, she didn't know if he could feel it, but her best guess was that he could. She nuzzled his neck causing her lips to brush across them in an intimate manner. A blush rose to her cheeks as she hadn't meant to do that, or had she?