“Two or three?
“How many cups are you making?”
“Three then. Heaping.
“I know, I know.”
“This is,” Sass said for the fifth time, “utterly ridiculous.”
Lilly glared at him. “You see here, just because Walter allowed you to even appear here doesn’t mean you can evaluate my teaching.” She turned back to Owen, who was (carefully) pouring the steaming kettle over the tea leaves in the largest teapot available in Haven. “Very good!”
“Smells lovely, Owen,” Kelly said from the beer taps. “Elek, tell Owen he’s doing well.” Elek grumbled. “Good enough,” she said with a shrug.
Elek sat in a rocking chair he’d requisitioned from the porch at the end of the bar. His shirt was loosely laced in front, to give room for the hefty dressings around his entire torso. A cane leaned against the bar itself. Kelly hovered near him, while trying to appear as though she were not. It seemed to Gio, who was occupying Owen’s usual seat at the bar, that she was afraid to stray too far from his friend.
Three months had passed since the dust had settled on the small battlefield. Walter has arrived at the scene to find Gio and Kelly barely conscious from blood loss, wavering over Elek. He and Sam managed to somewhat treat them on the ground, dust settling around them as a hot wind finally died and Walter tried to save the three of them. Eventually the three of them were housed in makeshift beds Walter had set up in his office. Gio and Kelly were bandaged and still weak, but only required monitoring and dressing changes. Kelly’s side had been restitched, and Gio’s arm was in a strap. Walter forced them to drink so much water that Gio accused him of trying to drown them. Elek was flitting between comatose and feverish dreams. When he was animated, they could get him to eat and drink, but only just.
All three of them had been put in the same room. Sam’s mother, acting nurse, had tried to move Kelly to her own room for the sake of propriety. The newly cleared outlaw had disagreed so violently Gio made her apologize for her language. Sam’s mother was shocked, but did relent. Kelly flatly refused to leave either Gio or Elek.
“Walter,” she said when the doctor tried to tell her she could go home, “I will be stayin until this here sheriff arrests me for loiterin, or until Sass himself ejects me from his bedside. I will do whatever I can to help, but I’m not leavin.”
Gio needed much longer to recover than Kelly did, and Elek even longer. Gio was dozing when Elek finally woke up after a week of treatment. Kelly was holding his hand that night, in a chair by his side. The only light in the room was a small lantern on a table between Elek and Gio’s beds. Elek’s eyes slowly flickered open, and Kelly’s gasp jerked Gio awake. He sat up halfway, adjusting his glasses and taking in his two best friends smiling at each other in the dimly glowing light. The flame in the lantern held steady.
Gio smiled now, watching Kelly waver around Elek. She was running the bar while he was out of commission, with Owen’s help. Kelly had enlisted Lilly, the widely acknowledged tea expert in Haven, to start procuring a lineup of leaves for early afternoon patrons who didn’t need a beer (yet). Elek had been uneasy about this venture, as tea could be expensive. In the last month, however, his profits had risen by at least 10%.
Gio was back in sheriff’s office. He still needed a new deputy; Jones had agreed to stay until his sling came off, and that was scheduled to be tomorrow. Luckily, he already had a new deputy in mind. And while Haven had never had a female deputy before, he was sure that wouldn’t be a problem.
He had asked Sass about for his opinion. His friend agreed with his choice wholeheartedly, on the condition that she still be allowed to work in the bar half days. Elek had also asked Gio a question of his own. Gio had told him he’d be a fool not to go through with it. He also knew that Elek had written to Kelly’s parents, to ask them what they thought.
Mary had greatly approved of Gio’s choice in deputy. She had been extraordinarily worried over her husband, and needed him safe. Her pregnancy had caused her to become anxious; Gio’s injury had exacerbated that. With a strong deputy, she would feel safer knowing he always had backup.
Kelly herself had been busy. She had written to her parents to tell them all that had happened. Their town had received an official report from Gio regarding the shootout, Thomas’s death and her vindication. News had spread quickly, and they were overjoyed. She told them about Haven, Gio, Mary, and especially Elek. They wrote back directly, saying they were preparing to come for a visit (her father snuck in a postscript, as to whether there were any properties available for an “extended stay”). She also wrote to Annie Stafford, with Elek’s approval, to offer her an empty room above the Goose. Annie was so overcome that she cried for days. She was moving into her new rooms next week.
Haven rebuilt itself after the shootout. Gio’s brother, a former Captain in the army turned glassmaker form the next town, came with new windows for several buildings. He and the Admiral were now chattering away in the bar, reliving old war stories and finding friends in common. Woodworkers from all over had helped rebuild houses and porches damaged by bullets, as well as selling tables and chairs to townspeople who had sacrificed their last set to building cover. The story of the Outlaw’s Justice, as the event came to be known, was a favorite in the bar.
The doors to the Goose opened to the sunset. A rush of cool autumn air rushed in, bearing a dusty traveller into the bar. Kelly turned turned from the tap, raised a beer to him and called out above the happy chatter of friends to be;
“Welcome to Haven!”
Note: To everyone who has read this all the way through, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’re amazing. And to all the real characters in Haven – this literally would not exist without you. I love you guys.