Polly roused Teaspoon as dawn began to stretch its light over the town of Rock Creek. The old Station Master sputtered awake as his wife gently shook his shoulder. "What's wrong? The baby?"
Leaning over her silver-haired love , Polly gave him a reassuring smile. "Everything is fine…" she nearly made a mockery of the words as she looked over at Rachel standing sentinel in the doorway. The shadows of wear and worry colored both of their faces, but at least now, the worst danger was over. "I think you need to spend some time in bed, especially if you want to be here when she's ready for visitors."
That took the air out of his most immediate argument. Standing with some help from his wife, Teaspoon gave her a smile. "You do take good care of me, Polly."
She slipped her arm through his and gave him a girlish grin. "That's because I want you for myself for a long time to come, Mr. Hunter."
He gave her hand a pat. "That's just fine by me, Mrs. Hunter."
As they moved toward the door, Polly gave Rachel a smile. The two women had been up for nearly two days together and a bond, deeper than they'd had before had grown between them. "I'll stop in later at the Cross' and check on Louis."
Rachel nodded and stifled a yawn. "Sure… he'll want to know if he's got a brother or a sister."
Teaspoon opened his mouth to answer, but Polly beat him to it. "We'll leave that to his parents."
Inside the bedroom, Doctor White was just about done with his ministrations. He clicked his bag closed and lifted the small wrist in his hand to check her pulse against the rhythmic tick-tock of his pocket watch. After nearly a minute he set her arm down and nodded.
"She's going to be just fine, Doc." The voice rumbled through the room and gave the doctor just a hint of a smile on his lips.
Turning on the bed he looked at the tall man leaning against the wall. "You buckin' for my job, Hickok?"
He was used to the easy grin of the marshal and waited for some smart return from the younger man, but as James Hickok moved into the wan morning light coming in through the window the doctor was just amazed that the man was still standing. "You should be sittin' down, Marshal." He stood, picking up his bag in his hand. "Won't do anyone any good if you take sick."
"You just make sure… that she's up and around in a few days, or… Louis is gonna worry over her."
The doctor looked up into Hickok's face and realized that all the words were bluster. Sure, their son would worry over his mother, but James himself, the hardened gunfighter was nearly at the breaking point.
Doctor White reached up with his free hand and gave the man a pat on the arm. "Sorry, son… best I can tell you is that when it's the right time… things'll work out. Her body's gotta heal… and she'll need a lot of rest." He looked around the small room. "You got folks to help with the children until then, right?"
Immediately his family came to mind. Polly and Rachel who'd been there since her labor had started. Rosa who'd managed to come and take charge of Louis and get everyone fed as the hours had stretched and the pain had lingered on. Teaspoon, who'd dragged him outside by the collar when his own pain and frustration had started to put fear into Lou… and Buck who'd sat beside him in the dark and waited until a baby's cry had split the midnight hour with its thin wail. "Sure… I got people."
The doctor nodded again. "Good. I gave Rachel some medicine for the missus when she wakes. It'll help dull the pain but she'll be in and out for awhile." He saw the muscle in the marshal's jaw twitch. "She's gonna hurt somethin' fierce, Hickok. I ain't gonna lie to you."
A soft murmur from the bed drew his attention and the Doctor suddenly felt like he was intruding.
"I'm gonna go and grab a few hours of sleep. I'll be back 'round mid-day for a check on your little women."
Jimmy barely noticed the congenial pat that the doctor gave him on his arm and he didn't notice the cold wood under his stocking feet. All that mattered was the woman before him lying in their bed. Kneeling down beside it he tilted his head to the side to see her face. "Louise? Lou, honey?" Her eyes fluttered open and he smiled for her, reaching out to push a strand of hair behind her ear.
Her eyes blinked once and then a few more times as she adjusted to the light. "What time… where is… the baby?" She tensed, her muscled contracting all through the length of her body as she searched the room."
Gently taking hold of her upper arms he settled her back against the pillows and fresh linens. "She's right here… sleeping." Reaching over, Jimmy tilted the bassinet an inch or two so that Lou could see the small bundle resting inside. "She's fine… she's just-"
Louise touched his lips with the tips of her fingers. "Perfect, just like I knew she would be. Just like I knew with Louis." A moment passed, a fleeting look of wonder gave way to pain. "Jimmy, I… I'm sorry-"
His rasping breath startled her. Grabbing her hand in his, Jimmy pressed a kiss to her fingers and then the palm of her hand, finally cupping it against his cheek. "Don't you dare… just don't."
The tears came easy for them both. "You heard him, didn't you?" Her eyes shone with pain and tears as she looked at her husband. "You heard that I can't-"
"I heard that I'm lucky to have you… to have you both with us." He looked at her, hoping that even with his few words he could reach her through the pain. "I know that I'm the luckiest man in the world right now that you're even alive to be thinking of apologizing for something that isn't your fault… "
"But the children we'd wanted-"
"We have children," he reminded her, "two healthy children that will grow up to drive us to our graves with white hair and worry… we have more than most and to have you here to share it with… is all I'd ever dreamed of."
Her lips parted to answer him, but no words could find their way into the light. She shut her eyes on the warmth of love naked in his eyes and sobbed, her cries shaking the length of her body.
"Oh, honey…" Jimmy pushed a hand through the tangled length of his hair and carefully circled the bed, climbing gently onto the thick mattress to lie carefully behind his wife.
As soon as she felt his arm reach around her, Louise relaxed against him, needing the warmth and comfort that he so easily gave her. Reaching out, she brushed her fingers against a feather soft cheek and felt the warm puff of breath from her daughter's lips. "It's enough, isn't it, Jimmy… just the four of us…"
She felt the brush of his lips against her hair and smiled as he whispered into her ear. "All I ever wanted was you, Lou… everything else…"
"I know," she whispered back. She felt his body relax against hers as sleep pulled at them both and she finished his thought. "Everything else… is just wonderful."
Breathtaking prompt - Even When You're Sick