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Fic: Rites of Passage [TYR]

Title: Rites of Passage
Author: Broedy
Prompt: Kid – How does the son of a dirt farmer learn how to shoot like a trained gunman?
Rating: M
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Kid
Warning: A little darker than I usually write, I guess. The story depicts a violent, unhappy home life.
Disclaimer: Not mine but I love TYR as if it were.
Summary: How Kid learns to shoot, and the day he has to put it into practice.

The first time he held a gun he was six-years-old. Awoken from a deep sleep, the cold metal had been shoved roughly into his hands. Kid could remember the smell of the alcohol on his father's breath as he taunted him about never being a better shot than his old man.

He'd been scared of the gun after that. It wasn't until a few years later that he plucked up the courage to fire it for the first time. His father had been sober that day, though still mean. He had been arguing with Jed, over what Kid never did find out. But his father insisted that it was time he learned to shoot properly, and set about teaching him how to hold the gun just right, train the sight, and squeeze the trigger.

He still remembered the sound it had made when it went off, and the tingling sensation that ran up his arm in response. To his father's surprise, and his own, Kid held his nerve and by the end of the lesson was able to hit the old stump in their field which had proven too difficult to uproot. His father had actually ruffled his hair, a rare gesture of affection. For a moment Kid felt like he received a prize. He vowed to practice day and night if shooting well drew him such attention.

Money had always been sparse but the following year, when Kid turned 12, it was particularly bad. His pants were lengthened with strips of old blanket until new ones could be bought or bartered. He watched his mother growing thinner, and hiding the fact that their circumstances were growing dire.

Kid devised ways to practice his shooting while preserving his father's supply of bullets. To miss would be a waste. He rarely missed after that. But he was never begrudged the ammunition. When neighbors stopped by Kid was regularly called upon to demonstrate his prowess. His father especially liked it when he did his double shot trick – firing at a can in quick succession so it was hit more than once before falling to the ground. Everyone liked that trick.

The only dampener to Kid's good mood was the dark glower his brother wore as he watched him from a distance. Jed would get so mad at the attention his father lavished on Kid at these times that he would disappear for hours afterwards. Once he stayed away for two days and worried his mother sick.

Kid knew Jed would not stay around forever. He had long wanted to strike out on his own but had only stayed for Kid and their mother. The last fight he had with their father erupted over an innocuous comment he'd made over dinner one night, but ended in a fistfight. Jed swore his father would never lay another hand on him after that, and left with only the clothes on his back.

Kid's mother had been heartsick for weeks, and his father's temper was worse than ever. He wasn't even cheered when Kid offered to show him his latest trick shot which he'd been perfecting. The whiskey bottle held more allure.

It was planting season but there were few crops to tend on his family's land. Kid would often escape to the creek where Doritha would be waiting for him. More often than not Garth would come along too. They laughed and played and Kid was able to forget about his worries. It was hard to go home some days. Doritha urged him to come home with her, which used to anger Garth, but Kid never accepted the offer.

He would take his time walking home, his bare feet scuffing the dirt. If he timed it right he would arrive just in time for dinner which meant he could avoid any lengthy interaction with his father. He missed Jed. He still hoped his brother would return, but there had been no word from him. Kid was beginning to wonder if he'd ever see him again.

The sun was dipping behind the hills when he approached the house one day soon after. The first thing he noticed was the lack of smoke coming from the chimney of their sod house. His father would be waiting to eat, which would send him off on a tirade if they weren't careful. Kid sidled up to the house, listening for any raised voices but he heard only a few grunts and then silence. Puzzled, he carefully swung open the door to see his father taking a long drink of whisky, his shirt tails hanging out of his pants and his face red and sweaty.

Kid started to speak when his mother bustled past his father who swayed slightly where he stood. She moved quickly, but not quick enough for Kid to miss the mark across her cheek or the fact her dress was torn at the sleeve.

"Wash up for dinner, Kid," she commanded in a quiet, clipped tone. She kept her back to both of them as she stirred the fire.

Kid watched her for a moment, not comprehending, then looked to his father who was chuckling to himself. Kid didn't understand the joke.

"Where you been, boy?" his father asked. His long, thick arm swooped down and he pulled Kid roughly towards him. "Your ma was wonderin' where you got to."

He started to explain that he had been down at the creek but his father wasn't listening. He watched his wife leaning over the fire, stirring the pot of stew she'd been making earlier.

"Always wonderin' where you are," he growled, still not looking at Kid. "Always thinkin' of you and not her own husband."

The grip on Kid's shoulder tightened and he winced in pain. But there was no use protesting. That would only earn him a reminder of what pain really felt like.

"But I tell you, she's still good fer one thing, your ma," his father said tauntingly. "You just missed out seein' what."

"Don't!" Kid's mother cried, slamming the pot lid down and turning her blazing eyes upon her husband. "Don't say that to him!"

"Don't you speak to me like that in my own house, woman!"

Kid was shoved aside as his father stepped menacingly towards her.

"Don't you raise your voice to me!" he yelled, taking hold of her arms and squeezing until she cried out. "Ever!"

Kid shouted in protest but neither parent heard him. His mother's face was twisted with pain as she stopped herself from antagonizing him further.

"You think I won't do it if he's here?"

She shook her head, her eyes welling with tears. Blood appeared on her lip where she had bitten it. Kid looked on helplessly as she turned her gaze upon him.

"Kid, go fetch me a bucket of water," she said through gritted teeth.

"Don't you move, boy," his father countermanded.

Kid took a step back towards the door but then stopped. There was a tense stand off for a few moments until his mother ventured another glance in his direction and nodded for him to go. His hand was on the door latch when his father pushed her into the corner and then followed it with a stinging slap to her face. Instinctively she huddled behind a chair but he was bigger and stronger than her and, despite his intoxication, his movements were swift. He wrenched her from the floor with a roar and pulled her across the room to their blanket-strewn pallet.

At the sound of his mother's screams Kid's first instinct was to run. But then he spied the gun holster hooked over the back of his father's chair.

He was pinning his wife down when Kid yelled in a firm but frightened voice to leave her alone. He had to repeat the words before his father heard them and he turned around, unsteady on his feet. He blinked and then a mean grin split his stubbled face.

"What's this, a hold up?" he said, then laughed at his own joke.

Kid's face remained expressionless as he raised the gun level with his father's chest. His mother whimpered on the bed.

"I said leave her alone," Kid said in his most grown up voice.

"You point that gun at me, boy?" his father said, all joking mood gone. His eyes grew dark with anger.

"You need to leave Ma alone now."

"I'll say what I'll do in this house. That's my gun. You point that at me?" his father shouted again, taking a step towards him.

Kid's gaze was unwavering. He cocked the hammer.

"You won't fire. I taught you to shoot and you're a fair shot at cans. But you think you can aim that gun at a man?" He took another step closer, his burning eyes fixed on Kid's. "You ain't got it in you, boy."

"You taught me to shoot," Kid agreed. "You didn't teach me to miss."

The gun went off with a mighty bang that reverberated throughout the small sod house. His mother yelped in surprise but his father did not move. He stood in shocked silence and then reached up and felt the drop of blood on his ear where the bullet had nicked him. The ear was ringing but he was more surprised at the shaking of his hand as he lowered it again.

"Touch her again and I won't," stated Kid.

There was no doubting the conviction in Kid's voice or in his face. His hand was steady, the gun like an extension of his arm. He was no 12-year-old boy.

"This is my house," his father said, but there was no strength in his words.

"Not anymore," Kid replied evenly.

His father looked back at his wife as if waiting for her to intervene but she rose from the pallet. There was still fear in her eyes as she stared at her son but with each passing second her shoulders straightened defiantly. Kid backed away so he was no longer standing in front of the door.

"Take the horse and go," Kid commanded. "There's nothin' else."

His father hesitated, unable to move.

"Go now."

Kid stood in front of the house as his father stumbled towards the lean to and pulled the saddle onto their old horse. The gun was by his side but he hadn't loosened his grip. He could hear his father swearing under his breath, and knew his mother was watching from behind the door that was ajar.

His father kicked the horse and it whinnied in protest. His movement was abrupt as he drew the horse to a stop in front of Kid.

"I'll be back, boy. Don't think I won't be," he snarled.

"I'll be ready when you are," Kid replied.

His father spat at his feet and then kicked the horse again. He rode away towards the small town. There were no friends there to take him in, no kin in these parts. Kid hoped he would keep on riding.

His father had taught him to shoot, and to shoot well. The gun would be his constant companion now. It would have to become part of him.

Kid was a boy no more.

* * *

Written for tyr_fest


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 1st, 2008 12:34 pm (UTC)
Love your story! Thank you.
Jul. 1st, 2008 12:42 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you. :-) *Pets Kid*
Jul. 2nd, 2008 07:29 pm (UTC)
Hello Broedy!
What a nice surprise this new TYR story of yours!
You have been able to describe prefectly how our gentle Kid can become as strong and cold as steel when he needs to be.
As Mercy said, I loved it! ^_^

Jul. 6th, 2008 08:20 am (UTC)
very powerful... great way to explain his prowess with the pistol...

love it :)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )