Dedication: To my darlin' gal pal who I've missed so very much... I hope you can forgive me for crawling under a rock and hiding from everything...
Lorilei McKay took in a long indrawn breath, her nose gently buried in the lush lilac petals. "Jimmy..." she smiled, a second before she flung the flowers at his head.
He put up his hands to deflect the flowers and watched as the blossoms fell on the rug, as rejected as he felt.
"Lorilei," he gave her an attempt at a smile, "sweetheart, I-"
"Sweetheart?" She let loose with another agonized scream, "you have some nerve, Jimmy Hickok."
He tried to move closer, but had to change his mind as Emma swept past him with an armful of linens, "'Scuse me, Jimmy."
Jimmy tried again and nearly tripped over Lou as she rinsed out a washcloth in a steaming basin. "Sorry, Lou.. "
"Sorry? You tell HER that you're sorry? What about me?"
Lou gave him a sympathetic look before leaning over and placing the washcloth back on Lorilei's forehead.
"That's what I'm trying to explain, Lorilei." He fixed a determined look on his face, "I wanted to say that I'm sorry this happened, and-"
She burst into tears and Jimmy wanted to scratch out his own eyes.
"Maybe this isn't the time, Jimmy." Rachel's honeyed tones didn't do anything to soothe his anxiety.
Emma passed by on the other side and gave his back a gentle pat, "Maybe you should talk to her later."
"It has to be now, Emma. This can't wait 'til later."
"Oh yes," Lorilei gripped the sheet in her hand, "Let him talk whenever he wants to, after all he's always had lousy timing."
Ouch. That barb was a pointed one.
"I know, you have every right to be furious with me, Lorilei, but in my defense, I want to say that I didn't know-"
"Defense," she screamed, "when did you become a lawyer, Jimmy? This isn't a trial!"
"The hell it isn't," he grumbled under his breath.
He tried to cover it over with a smile as he moved ever closer. "Seriously, darlin' I didn't know he wasn't a priest."
She reached up and grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled him down beside the bed, down to his knees. "Really? What was your first hint, Mr. Hickok?"
Rachel's lips pursed together as she tried not to laugh out loud.
"Can't I just say I'm sorry and we'll forge-"
"And we'll what, Jimmy? We'll forget it?"
"Oh yes, we'll just kiss and make up... well, NO! Not this time, Jimmy." She picked up a small porcelain box from the bedside table and sent it crashing against the wall. She watched with satisfaction as the white shards rained down on the rug. "It seems that 'kissing' is what got us in this predicament in the first place."
He covered her hand with his and she seemed to soften a bit, until pain flew through her body again and she pushed him away. "Get... Out... Get... Him... Out .. of ... here, before... I KILL HIM."
A hand grabbed the back of his arm and hauled him to his feet. Teaspoon's familiar voice echoed in his ear, "Come on, Hickok... this is where you remember what I taught you and vamoose."
Emma held the door open, "Jimmy, give us a few minutes, alright? Gather your thoughts and think about what you really want to say."
As much as he hated to admit it, the relative silence afforded by the hustle and bustle on the street was a welcome.
"How're you holdin' up, Jimmy?"
He managed a halfhearted nod in Buck's direction. "I barely escaped with my life."
Noah laughed, "It serves you right, Jimmy... you should know better'n to venture in the world of women on a day like this."
Cody could barely contain his laughter, "So, while you're out here with the rest of us, go ahead and fill us in on what you did. I'm dyin' to know."
The look in Jimmy's eyes was enough to make Cody take a step behind Ike, who in turn shoved him away and said **I'm not going to protect you.**
Teaspoon draped a sympathetic arm over Jimmy's shoulders. "Go ahead, Hickok. I think getting' it off your chest will help you talk to Lorilei."
He shook his head, the long ends of his hair trapped under Teaspoon's arm. "I don't know where to start."
Noah nodded. "We know that Lorilei's awful mad at you, why?"
Jimmy blew out a long breath and went around the circle, looking at everyone from under the brim of his hat. "Well," he swallowed hard around the knot in his throat, "you remember that night, right? We were all in Clear Springs, enjoying the fair when I saw that priest coming out of the theater, and how I asked him to marry us? It seems that the priest that married us was... well, he was an actor."
"What?" Teaspoon could barely contain his surprise. "How did you find out, Jimmy?"
"He was an actor?" quizzed Cody, "Wait, he said he was a preacher, not a priest."
"Lorilei sent him a thank you card and she got a letter back from a theater company."
"Seriously, Jimmy, I think he was a preacher.."
"Cody-" Noah gave him a warning glance.
"I think I remember him saying Preach-"
Cody's golden head popped up, "yeah, Hickok?"
"It doesn't matter-'
"Well, I think it does, you see-"
**How would you know he wasn't a preacher?** Ike wondered, **He certainly looked like one.**
"And you even paid the man, right, Jimmy?" Teaspoon sighed. "It would have been a lot easier if you'd just've waited until you got back here, I could have done the ceremony here."
Noah agreed, "Yeah, Teaspoon would've done it for free."
Teaspoon waved his hands in mock concern. "Whoa now, son. I didn't say nothin' about doin' it for free."
Lou was standing on the porch, her hands twisted in her apron. "You can come in now."
Jimmy stepped away from Teaspoon and climbed the stairs.
"Good Luck, Jimmy." Noah called and Buck echoed after him.
"It's been nice knowin' ya, Hick-OW!"
Jimmy turned back on Cody's yowl and saw Ike raise a hand in salute while Cody glared at the silent rider.
Jimmy took off his hat as he entered the room and dropped it on one of the curved arms of the hat rack just inside the door.
Rachel walked past him, her head bowed and her voice soft. "It won't be long now."
He felt all the blood drain from his face as he leaned over the bed. He brushed a kiss over her temple. "Lorilei?"
Her soft hiccups twisted his belly into a bowtie. "Jimmy..."
Lorilei reached out for his hand and clung to him. "I'm sorry I yelled, Jimmy."
"You don't have to say-"
"I wasn't done, Jimmy."
"'K. I'm sorry I yelled, I'm just so... sooo..." She barely met his eyes, her lashes jeweled with tears, "scared, Jimmy. I'm scared that I'll have to do this all on my own."
He gave into the urge to smile a little bit. "Alone? Honey, you got me."
She sniffled and swiped at tears on her cheeks, "Do I, Jimmy? Do I really?" Her voice was climbing in pitch, "We're not even...married."
Jimmy touched his hand to her cheek and felt the strain in her body as another contraction nearly lifted her off the bed. "I don't know about you, but I meant it when I said it."
"Said what?" She gasped out the question.
"That I'd love you until the day I died."
"Oh," she blinked up at him through the pain.
"Truth is, Lorilei?"
She seemed to brace herself, "Yes, Jimmy?"
"I'll love you longer than that.. if you'll have me."
"Anytime... anywhere, Jimmy."
He couldn't stop the smile that was spreading across his lips. "You mean that, honey?"
"Yes, Jimmy, you know I do."
He put a finger to her lips and winked at her questioning look. "Hold that thought for a moment." He dashed off as another contraction took over.
It seemed like an eternity to Lorilei until Jimmy returned with a huffing Teaspoon following behind him. Jimmy bent down for a moment and pulled the discarded lilac stems into a haphazard bouquet before handing them to Lorilei. "Let's do it right this time," he whispered as he knelt down at her side.
"What do you mean?"
"What he means, darlin'," interjected Teaspoon, "is that we're gonna hitch the two of you up. Right here. Right now. All proper like."
Jimmy gave her a reassuring smile. "We've got Marshal Teaspoon ready to make it legal this time, that alright by you, Lorilei?"
"Just one thing, Jimmy."
He tried not to look worried as she gripped his hand. "Yeah?"
"Tell - Teaspoon - to ... **ah** hurry!"
"Oh, Lord!" Teaspoon almost shouted out the beginning, "Oh Lord, we are gathered here today in your presence...."
"Faster, Teaspoon." Lorilei urged as Emma, Rachel and Lou crept nearer to the bed.
"Oh.. aaaaall righty, uh.. where was I, yes, gathered together,... unite this man this woman..."
Jimmy winced as Lorilei dug her nails into his palm. "Faster, Teaspoon."
"... in Holy Matri... you are not helping!"
"Get to the good part," Emma urged.
Rachel leaned over Teaspoon's shoulder and pointed out the appropriate line, "Man and wife, Teaspoon."
"Do you Jimmy take Lorilei as your real and legal wife?"
Lorilei ground her teeth together and Jimmy stared intently at her face. "I love you, Lorilei. More than anything."
"And you Lorilei, do you-"
"Yes! Yes.. hurry!"
The women descended on the bed and Teaspoon had to turn away. Sure, he'd been married six times, but there are some things that were still a mystery.
"Okie... all the powers, etc. etc. I now pronounce you Man and Wife..." A lusty cry split the air and Teaspoon turned back and smiled, "and baby."
Hours later, all the visitors had come and gone, leaving the new family in an exhausted state, but still smiling from ear to ear.
"Jimmy?" Lorilei watched with love as her husband struggle to life his head off the pillow.
"I want to thank you... "
"For putting up with me that first day on the Stage Coach. For making me so crazy mad at you when Father and I moved to town.." She smiled down at the baby sleeping on her shoulder, his warm soft breath tickling the hairs at her nape, "and for marrying me... both times."
"Yes... although I think this one was my favorite."
He leaned over and brushed a kiss against her lips. "Me too." He shifted and cradled his wife and son against his side. "Love you, Mrs. Hickok."
"Love you, Mr. Hickok."
Thanks to my beta, Liz, who helped me with this :)