Sequel to Father and Son

After continually placing mustard and horseradish paste on the child's tiny chest throughout the night, the little one was no longer gasping for breath. Rubbing her aching back, Dorrie leaned over the three-year-old girl who was now resting peacefully after a long night struggling to breathe. The young healer knew that she shouldn't be running about so close to her time, but it had been an emergency. If she hadn't shown up when she did, there was no doubt little Abigail would have died. The truth was she still could but the treatment had definitely worked on her fluid filled lungs.

Brushing the baby fine blond hair back from the toddler's forehead, Dorrie whispered, "Sleep now may lamb…let the fairies lead ya ta pleasant and happy dreams!" As Susan prepared to rise, the auburn haired woman placed a hand on her shoulder. "Nay...stay with the wee lamb. She should bay fine boot if there tis a problem, dinna wait…come and get may." Then with pat on the woman's back Dorrie slipped out the door.

Looking up at the near full moon that was fading due to the coming light of a new day, a smile came over her face. She placed her healer's bag safely inside the carriage and untied Buttercup's reigns before pulling herself up onto the black leather covered bench. As she reached the top, a sharp pain pierced her side and the Irish lass gripped the side of the buggy while groaning out in pain.

"Ya've doon too mooch tanight Doreen Cross," she admonished herself. "I best get back, Buck tis ta arrive back from his ride soon and I really want ta bay there ta see him. "With a clicking sound and a slap of the reins against the buggy, the horse began to move down the road toward the Station House.

*~*

Teaspoon must have been crazy to send him out on a "special run" when he needed to be with Dorrie. He'd been driving Midnight hard the whole ride and both were dead tired. At seeing the silhouette of the station in the moonlight, both horse and rider gave a little extra so that they could be home just a little sooner.

Setting Midnight up in the stable, Buck raced up the stairs while dropping articles of clothing in a trail behind him. Snuggling down in the bed, Buck reached out for Dorrie's form, but it wasn't there. Immediately Buck was fully awake.

"Where's Dorrie?" Buck screamed as he rushed into Emma's room after knocking once.

Emma sat up in her bed with a jerk. "Buck! What in God's name..." she started but as she came awake she realized that Buck was wondering where his wife was. With a small chuckle, the station mistress replied, "She went over to the Raferty's to help out with little Abigail. Her father said that she was barely breathin when Dorrie left here. She's fine...probably be home any minute. Now go on back ta bed and get some shuteye. You must have ridden like the devil was after ya to get home so quickly," she said with a chuckle before snuggling back under her covers. "Sleep!" she mumbled and was soon sleeping again.

*~*

As the sun rose up into the sky, the darkness broke to the beauty of varying shades of red and orange. "I'll definitely need ta get cleaned up afore I see Buck. May goodness, I look near may worse I thin," the young woman murmured to her horse as the steady rhythm of its hooves could be heard in the early morning air. Humming a bit as she moved along, Dorrie grinned at the thought of having Buck's arms around her once more.

Just as she flicked the reigns once more, she felt a squeezing pain in her stomach followed by wetness on the bench seat beneath her.

"Ahh nay...Sweet...Bridgette...nay now," she moaned pulling the horse to a stop as she panted to get through the pain.

Buck rode into the night, searching for Dorrie. Dang woman should be in bed resting, not outside helping people. Buck wished that he could be mad at her, but he loved her too much. Seeing a wagon up in the distance, Buck rushed towards it.

"Dorrie, what's happening? Is the baby alright?" He could see that she was in pain and that there was definitively something wrong. Dorrie was breathing heavily and sweating.

She'd moved down the road slowly, stopping whenever the pain kept her from being able to continue driving the carriage. Dorrie was frightened for the pains were coming closer and she knew that she wouldn't make it home in time if she had to stop with each cramp that came. As she was breathing through one of the contractions, she heard a horse ride up and saw that it was Buck.

Gasping out in relief, she looked up into his brown eyes. "Buck...tis the baby...tis time... Ayeeee!" she screamed out in pain and pulled her legs upward as she rocked while taking panting breaths.

"Now, like right now?" For a moment Buck didn't know what to do. "Are you going to make it till we get home? It's only ten minutes." Buck touched her shoulder in worry. He hated seeing her in pain like this and he couldn't help but to feel that a bit of it was his fault.

"Aye...NOW! I dinna know if I can..." she stopped to let out a deep breath. "...make it home...can't drive..."

"I'll drive," Buck said with determination as he tied the horse that he had been riding to the back of the wagon. Then he took the reins and urged the horses into a gallop towards home.

"Emma, guys!" he called at the top of his lungs as he lifted Dorrie down from the wagon. Holding his wife in his arms, he opened the door to the main house and rushed up the stairs.

Emma had been gathering eggs when she heard Buck's voice scream her name. Leaving her egg basket lying in the straw, the older woman came through the door to see Buck carrying Dorrie into the old white clapboard house and she ran after them.

Hearing the commotion, Lou, Ike, and Kid looked out the barn door to see Buck hop out of the buggy. Cody was looking down from the hay loft and watched his friend carrying Dorrie into the house.

"Something's wrong with Dorrie!" he hollered out to the others but they were already running across the yard: Lou leading the way.

*~*

Dorrie's clothes were soaked through as she leaned into Buck's body. She was having a small reprieve from the pain and she said softly, "I'm surry Buck...I dinna think this would happen..." Her voice was weak and just barely audible as her body relaxed for a moment against his. "Love ya, Agra."

"It's going to be alright," he whispered. He couldn't believe that this was actually happening, that it was happening right now. "Don't worry. I'm going to get one of the guys to get your mother and Doc. I'm going to be here the whole time, don't you worry."

Laying her down on the bed, Buck wasn't sure what to do, he had never been near a birthing before. Well, he had helped mares foal, but that was different...this was his wife. Taking her hand into his, he turned his head as everybody tried to get in the room at once.

"Ike, go get Moria. There's a horse saddled outside. Hurry!"

Swallowing hard, Ike gave Buck a nod before turning about. His footsteps could be heard thumping down the stairs and out the door.

Emma moved over and gently touched Buck's shoulder. "It'll be alright Buck. This takes a bit the first time round just so you know," Seeing the others all hovering by the door she turned around and with a sweeping motion said, "All right, ya' all go on down stairs. Cody you go get some water and boil it. Lou, I'll need some sheets and towels from the dresser."

"Buck, most men don't...aren't around during birthing, I'm not sure how the Kiowa do things..." Emma said while she began to unbutton Dorrie's top.

Even during her small resting period, she held onto Buck's hand like a lifeline.

"I'm not leaving Dorrie, not now...not ever," Buck said with determination. Holding on to his wife's hand he reached out with the other one to touch her cheek. "I love you Dorrie." Then he leaned in to give her a small kiss when a new contraction hit her.

"Emma, isn't there something you can give her for the pain?" Buck asked just as Moria rushed through the door.

"Buck, maybe you shouldn't be in here," tried Emma. There was a reason why men shouldn't be in the same room as a woman having a baby - they simply couldn't handle it.

While she and Emma worked on removing the soon to be mother's cloths, a small tap came from the door. "I have the sheets and towels Emma," Lou called nervously.

"Bring 'em in Lou!" Emma called. The young woman walked in to hear Dorrie scream out and start panting.

Laying the sheets on the maple hope chest at the bottom of the bed, Lou noticed that Dorrie was nearly undressed and still Buck held her hand while he brushed the hair out of her friend's eyes.

"Emma, is Dorrie gonna be alright?" she asked a bit timidly her eyes raking in the wonder of childbirth.

"Sure she will. Why don't ya go on down and keep those boys from gettin into trouble. See if ya can't work on making something for breakfast between the bunch of ya. There are eggs out in the side barn." With that she turned to find Moira pulling the last of Dorrie's cloths off and covering her with one of the sheets.

"Looks like he's comin soon love. Ya must have been in labor longer than ya thought. Buck this is yer last chance ta leave bayfore the lad comes ta gaze at the new day." Moira said, her eyes meeting his.

"I can't...Buck. Can't do...it anymore...AHHHHHH!" Dorrie ended on a scream her whole body tensing.

"You're doing just fine," Buck said in a calm voice. Well, at least he thought it was calm but it sure didn't sound that way. Placing a light kiss on her forehead, Buck whispered in her ear that he loved her. "It won't be long now. Just think of the little one and his coming to greet us."

Buck wasn't sure what else to say. It wasn't like he had ever had a baby. In fact, he was quite happy that men weren't the one to have babies. He didn't think he could manage what Dorrie was going through right now. "You're doing great Dorrie. I love you."

"Oh Buck..." All of a sudden Dorrie looked a little green and she called out to her mother. "Mum! I'm gonna bay sick."

Her mother had been ready just in case for she knew that a birth that moved this quickly made the women nauseous. She had just placed the water bowl under her daughter's chin when Dorrie threw up.

A few moments afterward, Dorrie screamed out while gripping Buck's hand so tightly that her nails dug into his skin. "Mum I have ta push..."

"No quite yet sweetheart...soon," Moira said quietly as she moved in to maneuver the baby from the canal.

"Mum! Take him now he's.. in.. trouble." Dorrie began to cry "Mum no...Buck..." Moira's eyes lit as she touched her child and reached for the blade within her bag.

Dorrie's grip on his hand hurt like hell, but it was probably nothing compared to the pain that Dorrie was in. "Dorrie, it's going to be alright," he said it to her as much as himself. "Just take deep breaths like you have been doing so well." Stroking her hair back from her face, Buck tried to think brave thoughts, but the scalpele that Moria was holding looked scary and he didn't want to know what the woman was going to do with it. Looking away, he smiled down at his wife. "Just a little while now and you'll hold our little one. Just a little while."

Moira could see the baby's head and she could feel with her gift, like her daughter, that the child was having problems.

"Buck we have a wee problem..." reaching into the womb with her hands, The older woman tried ta pull on the child. "All right lass push now."

"Ya need ta cut him from may...he's dyin Mum."

"Nay Dorrie, I'll nay take one life for the other. Now push!!"

Gripping Buck's hand she pushed hard and long her face turning a bright red. "Canna...do it Mum...save our son..."

Tears were slipping down Moira's face as she touched Dorrie's face and set the blade to her only daughter's stomach.

"Love ya Agra." Moira cried meeting her daughters closing eyes.

Dorrie gave Buck a weak smile as her hand no longer gripped his as she struggled to remain awake.

"I love ya Buck. More than anythin...our son...take care o him...love him.."

'One life for an other...' That was the words that flew through his mind, over and over again.

"Love you...always..." Buck's voice was barely above a whisper as the tears began to fall down his cheek. He was going to lose her, wasn't he? As he started to sob he buried his head in Dorrie's shoulder and let the world around her disappear. If he didn't have her in his life there was no point in anything, not anymore. Buck knew that there was no way that he could live without her. The two had shared a bed, shared everything, now she was being taken away from him. "Dorrie, don't die," he mumbled.

As the word 'die' exited his mouth it was as if all else disappeared, it made it real and he sobbed even louder, burying his face in Dorrie's hair. Blindly reaching for her hand, it was limp in his.

"NO!!" Lou screamed as she moved across the room! "NO! Don't !" Her hand grabbing Moira's before the blade could cut the skin.

"Lou...Sweetheart..." Emma began as she moved from bathing Dorrie's forehead to try and drag the young girl out of the way before they lost both mother and child.

"Buck! Tell her! She can do this...You CAN do this Dorrie! You have to!" Lou went over and slapped her friend in the face. "Wake up! Push damn you! You need to push and do it now!"

Dorrie's eyes opened a bit when Lou's hand hit her. She heard her screaming for her to push. Her green eyes were dazed as she looked to see Buck's tear streaked face.

Lou looked into Moira's eyes. "Please...try again...PLEASE!"

With a nod, Moira placed the blade down and moved her hands once more along the edge of the womb and grabbed at the baby.

"Push Dorrie may love...PUSH HARD!!" Moira demanded.

"You heard your mother Dorrie...you have to save your son. You know, you and Buck's little boy. Ya never did tell us what you were gonna call him. TRY...Push!!" Lou screamed as she gave her friend's face another sharp smack.

Buck looked up from a short moment. "I know you can do it. You just have to find the strength. I know it's inside you because I've seen it." His voice was foreign, even to him, but that was the last of his concern. "C'mon Dorrie you have to push. Do it for me! Do it for our child!"

Hearing everyone screaming for her to push, Dorrie reached out to grab Buck's hand and with a huge scream she pushed. Meanwhile her mother pulled until finally, the baby's head came free and with another tug from Moira, the shoulder's. With gentle but quick hands, Moira cut the tight chord from around the child's neck before smacking his little butt, The newborn's cry was very weak at first but soon the small mewling sound turned into loud wails.

Not an eye in the room was dry as the small group looked at the tiny newborn with bronze skin and a head full of black hair. There was no doubt that he was indeed Buck's child.

Buck wept, but this time happy tears. "Let me see," he demanded as the child was placed in the new mother's arms. "Oh, Dorrie, he's perfect." There was a bright smile on his lips and his eyes were glazed. Seeing two green eyes staring into his, Buck reached down to touch his son's cheek.

"My son," he whispered. "I'm a dad."

Dorrie's eyes were drifting close in exhaustion but she reached out to touch her small babe's face and smiled at Buck's words. "Aye...a Da and I a Mum. He's beautiful...our son," she whispered her eyes meeting the young Kiowa's while tears of joy slipped down her cheeks.

Emma gave Lou a hug as they watched the young couple gaze at their baby. Moira looked over at Lou with a grateful look in her eyes for she would have lost her daughter if she'd had to cut the babe from her womb.

"Buck why dinna ya go oer there ta that chair and hold may grandson while we finish working on Dorrie. Twon't take but a few minutes and then ya can take him ta introduce him ta.." she paused with a knowing look at Emma, "..the rest o yer famly. Course twood bay lovely ta know what ya've chosen ta name the boy. I think may daughter said you also chosen a Kiowa name for him."

"Are you sure he'll be all right?" Buck asked in a low shaky voice. When Moria shook her head and chuckled, the new father gently took the little child in his arms and carried him to the old maple rocking chair that sat in the corner of the room. Carefully, as if he were handling glass, Buck pulled the blanket back, revealing a small scrunched up face, and a smile lurked at the corners of his mouth. It was amazing that Dorrie and him had created something from nothing other than love.

The fact that his son now lay in his arms seemed so distant, it was hard to explain. He had never thought that he'd be a father. Before he met Dorrie, he had some times played with the thought, shaking it off as wishful thinking and deciding that he would never bring a child into the world simply because he wasn't fit to be a father. He would never let any child of his, watch it's father being ridiculed by people everywhere he went. But now that he actually was a father, Buck's whole view of life had changed. He was now responsible for another human being, a human life, and it didn't matter what people thought about him, as long as his son was growing up healthy and happy, Buck would be happy.

"Hello there, little one," he said in a whisper. "I'm your father."

The little babe reached up in the air for something that was visible only to him. Buck held out a hand and the little one grasped it.

Right at that moment the sun shone through the white lace curtains, lighting the room and everyone in it. The little one let out a strong-lunged cry in the discomfort at suddenly having the sun directly in his eyes. Buck turned so that his son would no longer be bothered and stared with loving eyes at the tiny infant that was only a few minutes old.

His son's scream reminded Buck of when he was on his first buffalo hunt with the men of the tribe and the screams they made to scare the buffalo's over the cliff. Red Bear had ridden a white horse on which he chased the buffalo's over the sharp mountain ridge to their deaths. To Buck, the horse had seemed almost divine. "Welcome to Mother Earth, Tsen T'ainte, White Horse." Buck said in a low yet clear voice.

Trying her best to keep her eyes open, Dorrie felt her stomach tighten one more as the afterbirth expelled from her body. Moira gave Buck a smile before going over to her daughter and pushing on her stomach and with a groan of pain, the birth was complete.

Emma slipped out the door to go and tell the others about the newest addition to their family while Lou sat smiling by Dorrie's bedside and held her hand, almost afraid to let go after what they'd just gone through.

Dorrie smiled at her friend and her mother, "Thank ya Lou..I ..twas so afraid." She turned her head to gaze at her husband who sat with their child in the rocker. Tears slipped down her face as she watched the two of them.

As the light came streaming through the lace curtain, she heard her child cry out and her husband's naming of their son. Never in her whole life would she forget this moment. The day their son, their gift from God, was born.

"Buck..." the young mother called out in a husky voice. Lou gave Moira a knowing glance.

"Wheel now I thin Lou needs a bit o a break after helpin out with bringin the bairn inta the world." Then with a small kiss to her daughter's forehead she whispered, "May lamb I almost lost ya..." the older woman said with a tearful voice. "A Croi."

Then with a pat on the arm, Lou and Moira left the new family alone together to get acquainted.

Buck smiled broadly as he carried Tsen T'ainte to the bed where his mother laid resting. "Oh, Dorrie," he said in a choked voice. "He's so perfect. Thank you so much." He planted a light kiss on her lips before his attention was once again turned to his newborn son. "I never thought that this day would come, but now that it is here it's still hard to believe."

Looking down on his son's face, Buck saw his wife's eyes and his features on the little one just as White Horse was a mix of the two. The child let out a loud ear piercing wail that brought a great smile to his lips, "Dorrie, I think our son is ready for his first meal."

Cheeks turning red at Buck's words, Dorrie pulled down the blanket and sheet and let the babe latch onto her breast. "Oh," she cried at the strange new sensation. After a few moments, the mother and child adjusted to their new connection.

"He's here...after all the waiting...oh Buck look at his wee face. He looks a lot like ya ." " She paused to take her forefinger and touch his soft reddish skin on Tsen T'ainte's cheek. Instinctively the babe turned and began to move his lips before his face scrunched up in frustration. "Oh Buck I love ya so...our babe...our son," she whispered while the newborn made slurping noises as he ate.

"He should have a name o may people too Buck. Tis that alright?" she asked her voice hushed as she raised her green eyes to his brown.

"Yes," Buck said in a quiet whisper. The sight of his wife and child was simply too amazing for words. Softly resting his head on his wife's shoulders, Buck touched his son's cheek as he was done eating. "I think our son should have a name that would fit in both worlds so he can learn to be proud of both his cultures and not feel as if he has to belong in either one."

White Horse let out a small yawn as if declaring that he wanted nothing to do with this conversation and that his parents could figure it out on their own.

"Aye…not a choice o one o the other boot both," she said softly as their son slipped off to slumber. Touching his dark skin, Dorrie mumbled sleepily, "I thin Keir should bay yer given name since it means "dark o skin" which ya are may lov…" she paused for a bit to yawn once more and then added "...and Morgan fer may Da's family. It means "From the edge o the sea" which twas where the Macalister's lived in Scotland." Feeling the soft baby in her arms and her husband's warm body next to hers, Dorrie whispered "Keir Morgan Tsen T'ainte Cross…our son..." before her eyes closed.

Buck nodded, it was a great name and it fitted the little one. It was strange thinking of his son as anything other than the little one inside Dorrie's stomach, but he wouldn't change knowing Tsen T'ainte for anything in the world.

Embracing his family Buck let out a great big happy sigh and began to feel the effect of riding all night and the stress of being there for his wife when giving birth. Snuggling in next to Dorrie, the last member of the new family fell asleep.

The remaining part of the family downstairs were getting impatient to meet the baby and when Emma slowly opened the door and found three people snuggled together, fast asleep, she decided that they simply had to wait a little bit longer.

*~*

As they ate breakfast, everyone cast occasional glances towards the room where the newest addition to their family rested. The birth had taken hours and everyone wanted to see the new-born.

"Why can't we see the baby Emma? We've been down here forever." Cody stressed forever "They can't be gettin all mushy like for that long !" Cody muttered as he peeked up the stairs for the umpteenth time.

Rory shook his head and smiled as he looked over at his mother's weary face. "She's alright tisn't she Mum?" he asked with a look of concern on his face.

"Aye lad, thanks ta Lou's help she tis. Near lost her, A Stor," she whispered while Rory pulled her close and gave her a hug. "She'll need ta be a bed a bit longer boot she should bay fine."

"Mum ..canna I joost see her ta bay sure?" he said with the well known Macalister smile upon his face. It was what caught her heart when she'd seen James grin up at her the first time from the Pier. "Alright, boot let may go in first. Married folk do need a bit a privacy ya know," she ordered brushing her apron back into place.

Giving Emma a small smile, "I'll go and check on them and I'll call down if ya can come up." Before she knew it Rory was following her to the stairs. "I said ya have ta wait, son!"

Rory grinned up at her, "I'll wait!! I'll joost bay first up the stairs when ya do."

Shaking her head, Moira stepped lightly up the stairs, opened the door and peeked in. She saw that Buck was sitting there staring down at his son who lay resting at Dorrie's breast. Pushing the door open a bit further she asked, "Tis it alright if the others come ta take a quick peek. I'm afraid Rory and Cody are wearing the floor clear out with their impatience!"

Buck smiled at Dorrie and then at Moria. "I think it's alright to let the uncles come up for a little bit." Not long after Moria had gone downstairs to tell the rest of the family that it was all right to come up, Buck heard what sounded like a herd of wild horses coming towards them. Everybody was pushing to get into the room first and it seemed that at the moment Rory was in the lead.

"Everybody," Buck said in a serious voice, but there was a large smile playing on his lips. "I would like to introduce Keir Morgan Tsen T'ainte Cross." And with great pride he held up his son for all to see. Giving Dorrie a light kiss he added in a lower voice, "Our son."

"Can I hold him?" prompted Cody and held out his arms all ready for his nephew.

"Ya'll wait yer turn!" Rory said glaring at Cody while everyone was shoving past the two of them and into the room that seemed to be growing smaller by the second.

Dorrie giggled at the two men who looked like children fighting over a piece of peppermint candy.

"Ya can all have a turn holdin him. I thin the first ta hold Kier should bay those that brought him into the world. Watching the two fighting 'boys' pout, Dorrie nodded for Buck to hand their son to her mother.

"Thank ya love. Tis may first grandchild and naer there was one so handsome as this one ta bay sure," the older woman murmured while holding the tiny child and touching his little foot. "Ya look mooch like yer Da boot…ya have yer Mum's green eyes. Oh the lasses wheel fall hard and fast fer ya, tis sure."

With a smile at her daughter and son in law, Moira then handed the child to Emma. "Tis yer turn I'd bay thinkin."

It seemed that everyone had had their turned in holding Keir, and Cody knew that he had showed enough patience for now. It was his turn to hold his nephew and that was final. "My turn," he demanded with a pout and when the baby was placed in his arms, he stuck his tongue out at Rory as if to say that he got to hold the baby before Rory did.

Rory did what any hot-blooded male would do he called out, "Mum!! That tisn't fair!! He pushed himself in there when I was next!"

Doreen couldn't help but laugh at the two of them. "Dinna frash so ya two….soon enough ya'll have had yer fill o the wee one."

Rory's eyes met his sister's and he shook his head. "Naer, may A Ghra. I have all sorts o thins ta teach the bairn."

"Well, I do too!" Cody chimed in as he rocked the little boy back and forth in his arms.

"Why dinna the two o ya start bay teachin yer nephew ta share," the new mother said with a giggle and catching the mirth in her husband's eyes.

Buck grinned and shook his head at the two, it was almost cute the way the two held on.

"Cody, give Tsen T'ainte to Rory. You live here and can play with him anytime you want, Rory doesn't." Buck stared at Cody with a killing stare as if saying that he'd better get the point.

"Yeah, yeah..." Cody muttered under his breath and gave the baby to Rory.

With a nod of thanks to his brother-in-law, Rory gently took the small boy from Cody's hands. Course Cody had to touch Keir's hair softly before poutingly passing the child.

"He's so small, Mauvareen. I dinna thin he tis mooch bigger than Fluffy," he whispered letting the small boy grab hold of his finger. "Boot he has a strong grip ta him...dinna ya lad?" the large Scot spoke in a childish voice.

There were small tears in Dorrie's eyes as she saw those that mattered most in their lives sharing in the joy of Keir's birth. Leaning her head on Buck's shoulder, the young mother watched them tease and talk about the newest addition to the clan. "Oh, wait til may Da and Liam find out." She shook her head and gave a small yawn. "May Da wheel bay so proud...and Liam... Him we'll need ta watch around Tsen T'ainte. May younger brother tends ta jump inta thins without thinkin them through." Dorrie then let out a sigh of contentment as her eyes met Lou's and they shared a smile.

As if Fluffy could hear her name, the white cat jumped up on the bed and settled in her favorite spot right in between the two adults, prodding at them for attention. Buck gave a small chuckle. During everything that had happened, the little cat seemed to have been forgotten. Scratching Fluffy's head, Buck knew that Dorrie was right in that Liam should be watched when he was around the baby but he also knew that Liam would never let anything happen to hurt Tsen T'ainte.

"Love you Dorrie," Buck whispered in her ear as he snuggled down next to her.

"Now Rory, if you don't mind, I would like my son back. I've been missing him." Buck only said it because Rory had held the baby as long as Cody. Cody would release hell if he found out that Rory had held the even the littlest bit longer.

"Hmmm love ya so Anan Cara," Doreen whispered back as Rory brought the small boy back and placed him in the strong hands of his father. "Go rahan maith agat, Dier Fur (Thank you, sister)," the dark haired Scot said softly and then gently touched his sleepy sister's hair. Turning around, Rory grabbed Cody's arm. "Tis time ta let may sister rest. Having a bairn tis hard work ya know."

Buck smiled down at his son who was looking up at him with big curious eyes. "Thank you Dorrie," Buck said in a low voice as the members of his family began to leave the room. Placing a kiss on his sleeping wife's forehead, Buck got out of bed and laid Keir in the cradle that he then placed right next to the bed. Pulling Dorrie close to him, the small family was once again asleep.

*~*

'They have a son...and I'm a grandfather!' The thought flashed through Shane's mind over and over again. He wondered what the baby looked like and whether the little one took after Dorrie or Running Buck.

Shane knew that he should have left Sweetwater like his son had more or less demanded, but he had found a home here. Shane wanted so see his grandson grow up even though he could never be a part of the little one's life. Working as a piano player in the saloon was something that Shane enjoyed. He wasn't forced to play hard pieces by people who's name he couldn't pronounce. And the best thing was that the piano was so out of tune that everything he played just sounded funny.

Somehow he had managed to stay away from Buck but he wasn't sure how he'd done it. He'd seen his son with his wife together in town, but had never approached them. He'd made a promise to stay away from Buck and his family, not that he had had much choice in the matter.

Standing on the steps outside the saloon, Shane looked out over town. It was a fresh February morning and the frost stood out of his nose. Looking out over town he watched everybody bustle about trying to do whatever they had to do as quickly as possible so that they could get out of the cold. Outside the mercantile stood Mrs. Cross holding her son wrapped up in a thick blanket and Buck was nowhere to be seen.

Pulling her shawl around herself and little Keir, Dorrie made her way toward the mercantile. She needed to pick up some fabric to work on making her growing son a new shirt. 'He's growing so fast!' she thought as the little boy pushed the shawl once more away from his face with a small squeal.

"Stop that Tsen T'ainte or you'll bay cold!" she chuckled as the little one proceeded to pretend to play 'peek a boo'.

Taking a deep breath, Shane gathered all the courage that he possessed and crossed the street. "Ma'am," he asked in a low voice, taking his hat of and holding it in both hands, giving a humble appearance. "I just wanted to congratulate you on your son." Then he looked down to the ground, not sure what to say next, not knowing if it was such a good idea to say anything at all.

While the healer played with her child, she hadn't noticed Buck's father approach her. At his words, she swallowed hard and her eyes softened. Dorrie understood Buck's pain caused the lies of this man and Buck's brother, but Shane looked so sorry and repentant. There was no need for a closer contact, just looking into his eyes made her feel that he so wanted to touch the young boy in her arms...his grandson.

Giving him a soft smile she said, "Thank ya. We're very happy with our son. He looks a great deal like his Da boot he does have may eyes." Dorrie moved the dark headed child to her side so that Shane could get a better look at the boy.

Shane pulled a little on the shawl to see his grandson. Doreen was right, the little one did look like Running Buck but had his mother's eyes. Tsen T'ainte grabbed a hold of his grandfather's finger and held on attempting to put the finger in his mouth.

"Let not convert to cannibalism just yet," said Shane with a small laugh.

Buck had been over at Sam's delivering some biscuits from Emma. It was so obvious that there was something going on between the two and it was just a matter of time before they found out. Standing outside the marshal's office Buck searched for Dorrie and when he saw her he began to run.

"Didn't I tell you to stay away from my family?!?" Buck was furious. He had clearly told the man on several occasions that he wanted nothing to do with him and that Shane should stay away from his family. Taking his son, who was now wailing loudly, from Dorrie, he gave Shane an evil stare that distinctly told the man that he'd better find something else to do.

Shane knew, this was bound to happen, but at least he was able to take a look at his grandson and in a way that was all he wanted. Shane never expected that he would be a perfect grandfather, heck, he had hardly been a father.

"Yes sir," said Shane in a defeated voice before he turned on his heel and walked back to the saloon.

"There, there," Buck cooed to his son in an attempt to calm him. "The mean man is not going to hurt you any more, I'll make sure of that."

Dorrie's eyes opened frightfully when she heard her husband hollering at the older man as he pulled Keir into his arms. The tiny boy was now screaming at the startling sound of his father's angry voice. Her brows furrowed as the older man complied with Buck and slipped back into the saloon.

With a sad look on her face, Dorrie looked at her husband and their weeping son.

"He twasn't harmin a thin. All he wanted ta do was ta see his only grandson and Tsen T'ainte seemed ta like him til ya came up yellin. Buck...what could it harm fer him ta congratulate us on our son and joost have a peek?" she asked a trace of disappointment in her voice.

Buck rocked his small son while looking at Dorrie. "Dorrie, he made that choice when he left my mother and me, now he has to live with the consequences. I don't want our son to get to know him and then have him leave without a trace. He already did that once and I won't have it happen again."

Shaking her head in frustration, Dorrie reached out to touch her crying son. "Ya know we were given a blessin. Yer holdin him in yer arms. I could o died, Keir o both o us, boot here we stand."

She paused with tears glistening in her eyes. "We all make mistakes in our lives may love...he thought it best ta keep yer mayther and ya safe...ta survive. I dinna thin if yer mayther were alive that she would like what tis happenin. I hope that one day when ya want forgiveness...it wheel bay given ta ya as wheel Buck" She whispered taking her shawl off and placing it around the adorable infant, kissing his forehead before wrapping her arms around him to protect him from the cold and made her way into the store. Brushing the tear that had slipped down her cheek, Dorrie prayed that as her husband looked at their son, her words would somehow reach his heart.

Somehow, Buck knew that Dorrie was right, he just couldn't admit it. The pain of growing up without a father he could turn to when he needed help and to teach him how to be a man still stung. Biting his lip Buck followed Dorrie into the store to see about the fabrics for Keir's clothes.

"This one is nice," Buck said in a low voice as he picked up the green fabric to show her. He wasn't really sure what he was supposed to say, because he had never seen her really angry before and all he could think of at the moment was to help her pick out the fabrics. "Dorrie, I'm sorry..."

Looking up from the table filled with a wide assortment of fabrics, the auburn haired woman touched his hand with hers. "Now love...how would ya feel if I were ta tell ya ta go away? That I could nay forgive ya? " She paused to touch their son's midnight hair. "Joost thin on that a bit...and that color tis perfect for our green eyed lad."

Buck frowned as he thought about what Dorrie just said. Had he done anything to hurt her or offend her? He didn't understand. Feeling his breath quicken, Buck knew that he had to say something.

"But the situation is different. He left when he should have stayed. He should have stayed to protect his family. Dorrie, you don't know what it's like to grow up with your mother's husband wanting you dead and always having to sleep with one eye open. Because he left I wasn't even safe in my own home. Maybe I should have a bigger heart but I'm not ready to forgive him for leaving...not yet. Maybe someday I will. I don't want him to be near our son because I'm afraid that he will leave again...that Tsen T'ainte will get to know him and he'll disappear, leaving him with nothing."

Placing one hand on her cheek Buck put a lopsided grin on his face. "Dorrie, I love you and I love our son and nothing is ever going to change that." Placing a light kiss on her lips, he smiled a real smile this time. Hearing Mr. Tompkins cough discreetly in the background, Buck felt the urge to laugh.

She could feel the pain he held within as he touched her cheek and felt ashamed. She should not have tried to make Buck accept his father when he wasn't ready. Her husband's heart still bled from the truth that had been recently revealed to him and he needed time to come to terms with what he'd learned.

With tear filled eyes, she whispered, "I'm surry. I love ya so it hurts ta see the pain in yer heart. I love ya so Buck Cross. Joost promise ya'll naer leave may for I know I couldn't bear it." Then she leaned forward to lean into the kiss and the storekeeper coughed aloud to make them realize their impropriety.

"Sweet Bridgette, ya make may forget everythin when ya kiss me." Dorrie breathed out in a sigh while taking the pretty leaf green material in her hand. "I thin tis time fer our son's nap so way should bay quickly on our way."

*~*

Buck had just gotten back from a run. After he had washed up, he saddled a fresh horse and rode towards the Macalister farm where Dorrie was with her family. Both Liam and James were back for a visit and he was looking forward to meeting the two again because he hadn't seen them since the wedding.

Missing his family made Buck ride even harder and after placing the horse in the barn, he practically ran in the front door.

*~*

"Liam James Macalister! I'll nay tell ya again! Stop tossin Keir like he's a bushel o cotton inta the air like that!" Dorrie called out as she tried to grab her son from her brother's arms when he caught the infant.

"Why Doreen Moira Cross...quit baying sooch a cloud ta a sunny day!" Liam returned with a wink before turning and throwing the three month old upward toward the ceiling. "Look at little Keir! He loves it!" The Scot continued as the small babe drooled while sailing upward.

When Buck came in the front door and saw what was going on, he was furious. Just as Liam caught Keir, Buck sprinted forward and grasped the child out of his brother-in-law's arms. "What on earth were you thinking? You could have killed him the way you were throwing him around!" Buck admonished as he softly rocked Keir.

"Buck I...tried ta tell him ta stop boot..." Dorrie started.

"Why ya frashin so Buck? I twas joost lettin wee Keir have a bit o fun. Look at the lad...he was a grinnin with every toss!" Liam jumped in.

"Buck tis the boy's Da, Liam and ya need ta do as he says!" Moira said coming in from the kitchen. "When yer a Da you can say what happens. Till then...ya mind what Buck and Dorrie say."

Liam pouted and gave his sister a cross look. "Ya'll make him a boring boyo, Ree."

"I love him so Liam...I dinna want anythin ta happen ta him and ya throwin him like that poot the fear o God in may," she whispered touching her infant's head.

"Right," Buck threw in for good measure as he sat down on a chair and started to bounce little Keir on his knee. "See, this is much more safer. Don't you think so, Tsen T'ainte?" The little boy answered by grinning widely as he was trying to stuff his hand into his mouth.

"Alright, alright! I'll try may best ta only play bounce the horsey til he gets a bit bigger. Course I've been out lookin fer joost the right horse and I think I've found 'im. He's a new foal of a sire called Spit Fire. It's gonna bay his birthday present from his Uncle Liam," the Scott said cockily.

"Spit Fire!!??" Dorrie squeaked out. "Oh...I dinna know bout that Liam," she said watching her son's drool slip over his tiny fist and drip onto Buck's pants.

"Wheel twas that o an Umbrella," Liam chuckled as his sister's eyes widened fearfully and she shook her head. "A joke Ree...tis a joke."

"Best bay Liam fer I twon't have may son jumpin from the hayloft holdin an umbrella like ya did!" she said giving him a disgusted look.

"Supper's ready ...come on an eat! Doreen go get yer Da and Rory. I thin they're in the barn workin on somethin fer Tsen T'ainte. Dinna ask may what fer tis a secret." Moira said wiping her hands on her pretty blue apron.

"Buck..tis grand ta see ya lad. Why dinna ya have a seat with my grandson and have a bit ta eat before the boy cries out fer his own supper."

"I can hold he lad while ya eat Buck." Liam offered.

"NO!" Buck and Dorrie said at the same time. "Give his Da a chance ta bay with him. Both o us are used ta eating with one hand busy and nay to mooch sleep." Dorrie leaned down and gave Buck a kiss before moving quickly to the door.

Keir made a few mewing sound because they were no longer playing bouncing the horsey but quickly settled down when he could turn to his other favorite game, interrupting daddy's dinner.

Buck let out a small chuckle as he moved Keir to a more comfortable position and gave the boy his stuffed horse that Emma had made. "There we go," Buck said as his son's attention was fully on the small horse.

Moira smiled as Buck sat down at the table with her grandson. There was no doubt, the look in the Indian's eyes said it clearly: he loved his son. She saw his gentle touch and soft voice and thanked the good Lord that her daughter had married such a loving man. "I'm thinkin ya moost bay hungry may lads," she chuckled as Liam near ran to the table to sit down. "That stew sure smell good Mum!" her youngest son said with a mischievous smile.

"Aww, go on with yer silver tongue Liam. Yer so well named fer yer ways are so like yer Da's." She shook her head just as the door opened and Dorrie walked back in. "I brought them back Mum. Oh Buck, ya should see what they made fer Keir." She skipped across the room and cupped her son's cheek to give him a kiss.

The men came through the door with what looked like a small horse made of wood. As they put the carved horse down, it rocked back and forth.

Dorrie grinned down at her husband. "Tis a rockin horse fer him ta play with when he tis older. Da thought since ya are so good with horses and our son's Indian name refers to him as horse that twood bay a grand gift. I thin tis a wonderful o them ta think on sooch a thin."

Buck smiled as he placed one arm around Dorrie and Keir tried to turn his head to see what was going on. Kneeling down next to the rocking horse he reached out with one hand and touched the carved wood, which was smooth under his fingers. "It's beautiful," he said and turned his son to see. "Thank you."

Rising, he turned to Dorrie and leaned in to kiss her. "Love you," he whispered into the kiss.

*~*

Buck looked at himself in the mirror in the hallway and smiled at his appearance. This was Dorrie and his first night out since Keir had been born, and even though he loved his son more than anything, it would be great to have an evening alone with Dorrie.

"Dorrie, are you ready?" he asked through the door knowing that women sometimes liked to take their time getting ready and such.

Picking up her dark green kinsale cape her mother had made for her fourteenth birthday, Dorrie moved over to slowly open the door. Her hair was pinned up atop her head and curls fell about her face and longer ones down her back. She wore an emerald green velvet skirt and small matching jacket over a cream blouse that was trimmed in lace. She was excited at actually having a chance to dress up and spend some time with Buck. Between both his daily duties as a rider and hers as a healer along with caring for Keir, they barely had time to be with one another alone. Except for in bed...of course.

Licking her lips, she took in how handsome her husband looked in his black Sunday jacket. She wanted to reach out and pull the ribbon that held his hair bound but knew for the evening it was considered more acceptable. Her shining green eyes met his chocolate brown. "May Mr. Cross...ya sure are a fine lookin man." There was a teasing in her tone as she reached up to straiten is tie.

"You look beautiful," Buck said as he leaned in for a kiss. Slowly he deepened it and wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her close. He was so looking forward to this evening where it would just be the two of them.

"Eeeewww," Came two voices behind them and Buck turned around to see Cody and Liam standing there with silly grins on their faces. Buck smirked at them and again he turned to kiss Dorrie, just for show.

Giving a small giggle at Buck's playfulness, Dorrie soon forgot that it was a jest as his lips once again touched hers and she pressed herself further in his arms.

"Are you two lovebirds ready to leave us menfolk in charge of the fort?" asked Cody.

The healer turned a pretty pink as she turned to look into her brother's smirking face. Looking at the two men, the doubt she had about these two caring for their son came back. "Buck...are ya sure tis a good idea ta leave him with these two? I'm nay so sure," she whispered up at him while her eyes looked into the mischievous smiles of the two men before her.

"Now hurry up with ya Ree! Cody and I have all sorts o thins planned fer our handsome nephew," Liam gave Cody a wink.

"That's what worries may so," the young mother murmured and looked at her four-month-old son fast asleep in the cradle.

"He'll be fine," Buck assured. "Emma's gonna be here and keep an eye out for these two hooligans." He gave a slight laugh before he moved to draw her into a hug. Kissing the top of her head, he said, "Tsen's going to be just fine, don't you worry. When we come back, he'll be as healthy as his is now."

A sigh of relief came from Dorrie as she felt Buck's arms wrap around her. "Emma...oh thank Bridgette! I forgot that she'll bay around." Pulling back, she smiled at her husband. "Yer right Anan Cara," and then moved over to kiss her small son's head.

Returning to her husband's side, she looked at Cody and Liam. "He's been fed and should sleep till we come home boot if ya have any trouble bay sure ta talk ta Emma. She'll know what ta do. He likes his horsie that she made so if he cries ya might want ta give him that."

"We know Ree! Now go on with ya. Enjoy a wee bit o fun with yer husband and quit yer frashing." Liam said opening the door and smiling at the handsome couple.

"I guess we'd better go then," said Buck as he placed one arm around Dorrie's shoulder and pulled her out the door where the buggy was waiting for them. After helping her up, Buck climbed up behind her.

Driving towards town Buck had a smile one his face, he had planned this for two weeks, and he had really been looking forward to it. Stopping the buggy outside the restaurant Buck jumped down and moved to give Dorrie a hand.

Closing the door after he saw the buggy FINALLY heading toward town, Liam rubbed his hands together and wiggled his eyebrows.

"Finally got that sister o mine ta leave the bairn. I thought that Buck twood have ta drag her out o here. The poor man's been planning for weeks ta have an evening alone with her and she near spoiled it!" Liam chuckled as he went to the cradle and looked down at the dark haired and skinned child.

"He tis a scrapper dinna ya thin?" The Scot reached down to gently touch the near midnight hair that sparked a red flame when the sun hit it.

"Yeah," Cody nodded in agreement. "And since the lovebirds are gone for the evening we can teach him all the important things in life." There was a wicked grin on his face and he looked from Liam to little Keir. "Kiddo, by the time the two of us are done with ya, you'll be the smartest baby in the territory.

Little Keir seemed not to notice his uncles' plotting and planning about his future and unknowingly he continued to sleep. Well that was until those danged underclothes his mother and father insisted he'd wear, began to itch something awful and get that wet feeling to them and had him fussing.

"What do we do?" Cody looked at Liam while picking up the little one and studying him, trying to decide what was wrong.

All of the sudden the little boys face scrunched up and he began to scream at the top of his lungs. "Sweet Bridgette! He's a banshee in disguise!" Liam looked at the wetness that was dripping down the boy's leg and onto the oak floor. "I thin he's sprung a leak!" The red-haired man shook his head. " I thin he needs dry cloths on' im. Now where did Ree poot those nappies?" Cutting a look at Cody's stunned face, Liam growled, "Dinna joost set there...go find somethin dry ta change him inta!"

"Here, take him then," Cody said as he handed the baby over and ran for the dresser standing in the corner of the room. Frantically searching for the nappies, Cody finally found them in the last drawer as well as a clean gown for the little one. "Now, how do we do this?" Cody looked from the items in his hand to Liam and the baby. "Guess we'd start with getting the wet things off."

Liam swallowed hard at the thought and gazed at the bawling child as he laid him down on the cold floor. When Keir touched the ground, it seemed to agitate the baby even more and his screams rose in volume.

"I dinna thin he could scream any louder for the saints!" The Scot began fighting angry legs as they kicked out. "Now, now Tsen T'ainte that's enough o that. Ya need ta bay tough..."

Liam struggled with the boys legs but eventually got the pins out without sticking the child and raised the soaking nappy into the air. "Got it!!" he said with pride. "Now ya go on and get the wet gown off!"

"Here, take this," Cody said to Liam as he moved to lift Keir off the floor. With one hand he held the child by the waist and with the other he pulled at the gown. Little Tsen T'ainte didn't like this too much and wailed even louder..

"What the heck!" exclaimed Cody as he felt a wetness drip down his shirt. "Liam you take the baby, I'll go get changed."

"WAIT!! St Padrick, Keir! Ya dinna ...umm wiz on yer Uncles lad." As he yelled, Liam held the infant and aimed his...in another direction to be sure what happened to Cody did not happen to him as well.

Slowly he laid the child back down and quickly covered the lower part of his body with a nappy. "Now how did Ree do this?" Liam muttered to himself while the poor baby screamed his head of. Picking up the pin he looked at it for a bit and then at the nappy with a puzzled expression on his face. Then wrapping another nappy around the lad, he pinned them together and gave a grin at his accomplishment...until he lifted the boy up, and pins and all slipped to the floor. A very angry red faced infant screamed in his uncle's face.

"CODY! Where the heck are ya hindin now? Hurry up and get back here ta help!" He screamed along with the child. "Shhh lad shhh Uncle Liam tis tryin..."

Cody came rushing into the room. "Don't yell like that," he said in a lowered voice. "You'll only agitate him more. Grabbing the clean nappy off the floor, he looked at Liam. "Do you know how to do these?" The pin looked really sharp right now and Cody wasn't sure that it was such a good idea to use it as a way to fasten the diaper.

"Liam, I don't think this was such a good idea...I mean, when Buck or Dorrie are here we can just pass him off to one of them once he starts crying. Neither of them are here right now and I don't know what to do to make him stop with that infernal noise."

Then, like lightning out of clear sky, Cody remembered something. "Here we go," said Cody as he held the small horse in front of Keir. "You get to play with the horse if you promise to stop crying."

The adorable little baby boy took the horsie and dropped it to the floor as he continued to cry.

"Hold on...I'll poot the lad down on the nappy and ya hold his legs from squiggling and I pin it closed."

The two men worked together pin the diaper and after a few unsuccessful tries where the cloth fell onto the ground, they eventually succeeded. "Did ya see that? We did it!" Liam shouted while lifting Kier up into his arms and making soothing sounds. "There, there wee one ya'll bay joost fine."

Soon the baby's cries turned into little sniffles and gulping sounds till he was quietly laying his head against Liam's shoulder.

"See Cody...we did fine. Tis joost a matter o gettin the hang o thins, tis all."

"We sure did it," said Cody as he picked the stuffed animal off the floor and placed it securely in the arms of the child. Little fingers closed around it and Cody smiled.

"I think I want to have a son of my own one day..." he mused. "I'm getting a little jealous of Buck and Dorrie."

Liam's eyebrows rose and he shook his head. "Wheel now ...maybay a ways doon the road boot there aer far ta many lovely flowers fer may ta gaze at afore I settle down ta only one," the Scot smirked at Cody. "Besides it's may duty ta wait til may brother Rory tis snatched up afor tis may turn...thank the good Lord."

The little boy was playing with his horsie and peeking over at Cody with his green eyes. "Here," Liam said while holding Keir out to the other man, "Why dinna ya hold him while I go get us a piece o Ree's apple pie."

Cody took the baby and started to rock him back and forth. "You're a good lad, you know that. And when you're a little older you get to enjoy your mother's apple pie with your uncles."

Keir grinned in agreement and his head bobbed forward a little as his full concentration was on trying to eat the horsie.

*~*

Emma had to fight from gathering the screaming infant up into her arms when she'd heard the screaming babe but knew that Liam and Cody's evening with Keir would be a learning experience for the three of them. So she continued to knit the blanket she was working on for the small baby while she forced herself NOT to intercede.

About two hours after the baby had finally fallen silent, the strawberry blond rose to her feet and tip toed to the living room door and peeked in. A large smile came over her face as she saw the lad lying in Cody's arms while they moved slowly back and forth in the rocker. The infant was busy gnawing on the leather tassels from his caretaker's shirt. Liam was at the foot of the rocker with a book in his hands reading one of Cody's dime novels aloud.

She stared at the little threesome with a soft look on her face. It had been a tough start for the men but they had eventually been able to figure out how to keep the small infant far too busy to cry.

Earlier when she'd peeked in on them, she saw Liam holding the infant on Cody's back as they went on a 'horsie' ride. Emma couldn't wait to tell Dorrie and Buck of their son's wonderful adventure as his two uncles took care of him. With a quiet sigh, she moved back to her chair in the kitchen where she was mending by the fire.

*~*

Buck had the biggest smile on his face as he led Dorrie up the stairs to the restaurant. He had planned this for so long, he had even made reservations for a table. As they entered the door, a waiter greeted them and led the couple to their table. He gave them both a menu and withdrew leaving the two to decide what they were going to order.

Dorrie ran her finger over the pretty bone white china and sparkling glassware atop the table before opening the menu. She very slowly read the delicious food choices and her mouth began to water in anticipation.

"Hmm, everything sounds so delicious," Buck said and his eyes looked over the menu. "I think I might have to be like Cody here and order everything just to be sure that I don't miss a thing." With a laugh at his own joke he reached out and took Dorrie's hand in his. "I am so glad that we have a whole evening just to ourselves."

Giving a giggle at his jest at wanting to mimic the ever-hungry Cody, she peeked up over her menu at him. As Buck took her hand, Dorrie's sparkling green eyes met his chocolate

"Oh Buck tis so wonderful! I'd forgotten twas like before our Tsen T'ainte was born. Now our days are filled with rushin bout with our work and carin fer our wee bairn. I canna believe it's been four months since we had a night bay ourselves." Dorrie paused for a moment and stared lovingly at Buck. "Ya sure aer a fine lookin man, Mr. Cross. Tis certain there were angels about and they sent ya steppin inta may life," she said softly with a smile while giving his hand a gentle squeeze. A few minutes passed while the Irish Scottish woman stared at her husband and time seemed to stop. Unfortunately, the moment was soon broken by the sound of a man clearing his throat. Dorrie's chin lowered quickly in embarrassment as the waiter grinned down at the couple.

"Would you care for some wine this evening or another beverage perhaps?" he asked them as he held a small paper and a pencil in his hand.

Buck could do nothing but smile and nod as he looked at Dorrie. She was even more beautiful than last time he saw her. There sure was something in the air tonight as him and Dorrie sat there by the window in the small restaurant. "It's so nice to have a moment where there's just the two of us. I'm glad I ran into you at the store that day."

Looking up at the waiter Buck bit his lip for a short moment before he replied, "I'll just have a lemonade and the steak with potatoes and gravy. Dorrie?"

With slightly pink cheeks, the young Irish Scot kept her face looking down at the menu while peeking up at Buck as he ordered. "Umm.. the lemonade sounds grand and I'll have the chicken with green beans please," she answered in her soft lilting voice.

The waiter gave the young couple a small bow before leaving them in peace. Glancing around the room that was softly lit with candles and kerosene lamps, Dorrie gave her husband a knowing grin. "Tis true about being alone with each other. Nay that I dinna love our wee son and the rest o our family, boot I do like it havin ya ta mayself fer a wee bit." A shy smile came to her face as she recalled their chance meeting in the local mercantile. "Aye tis fer certain strange that we met in Mr. Tompkins's store that day," she gave a small giggle at how the man had been speechless when she thanked him for helping bring her and Buck together. She swore that it was the first time that she'd ever seen the man at a loss for words.

"I want ta enjoy every moment o our time tagether fer we get so little o it when yer away on a ride," she murmured while gently patting his leg beneath the table as her green eyes sparkled.

"Ya know that the Fourth o July Celebration wheel have a dance ...o so the women from town have been tellin may."

The waiter came back and placed their lemonade on the table and quickly retreated.

Buck felt his body stiffen a little as his wife touched his leg. "A dance," he stuttered. It was amazing the feelings that Dorrie could stir in him even after being together for almost two years. "I would love to go to the dance. Are you asking me?" Buck put on a look as if he were a shy school-girl with a silly grin.

Placing his hand over the one Dorrie had on his leg, Buck gave it a light squeeze.

When Buck took her hand beneath the table and gave it a squeeze, she let out a soft laugh. "Mr. Cross would ya care ta go with may ta the Fourth o July dance?" she said in a formal voice before taking a small sip of her lemonade. "I twood hate ta have ta go alone..." she said with a teasing smile.

"I would very much like to go with you to the dance on Fourth of July," said Buck with a big smile.

As the waiter came with their food, Buck nodded thanks to the man. He didn't want to start eating just yet because he wanted to hold on to Dorrie's hand for a little while longer.

Giving a small giggle, she looked up at the waiter as he placed their food on the table before grinning back at her husband. "Oh Buck it looks so good! Tis a nigh I'll nay soon forget," she whispered slipping her hand free from his to place her napkin on her lap.

She cut the chicken breast and took a small bite and moaned softly. "Mmm...tis wonderful! Here have a wee bit," she offered, holding a forkful of the white meat out before Buck's mouth. "Tis far better than I can make ..fer certain."

Buck leaned forward and took a bite out of the chicken. Looking thoughtful while chewing it, Buck concluded, "This is almost as good as you make." Grabbing his own knife and fork, Buck cut a piece of the steak he had ordered. "Here, try this one," he said and held the rest of the piece out to her.

Shifting in her seat so that she could reach the piece of beef. She closed her eyes as the juicy steak nearly melted in her mouth. "Hmmm...tis very good!" she grinned at him just as the waiter carried a tray of desserts past them and she gave Buck a smile like a child that saw something very tempting.

"Buck..I twas thinkin..." she started and took a sip of her lemonade to give herself time to work up her courage. "Maybe ..if we get a chance....maybe we could go away with Tsen T'ainte and visit the place we went to after our wedding."

Just as Dorrie had finished speaking an older man and woman went past and gave the couple a disgusted look. "Seems they'll let animals eat in this place." The fancily dressed matron said waspishly to the man by her side.

"Indians...only good one is a dead one in my opinion, Agatha," the gentleman taunted as he met Buck's gaze. "And the whores they hang around with," he finished with a nod in the Scotch Irish woman's direction.

Dorrie's green eyes widened in shock and she paled at the man's words before an angry light came to her eyes. "What?" she gasped out as the fork and knife shook in her hands.

"Just pretend that you didn't hear it," Buck said in a low voice. "What they want is a reaction, a reason to kick us out and prove them right."

Looking down at the steak, Buck found that he had lost his appetite. Sighing as he cut a piece and took it too his mouth, he said, "I think it would be a great idea to take Tsen T'ainte to the place we went after our wedding. It would show him a part of where he's from. I just have to make sure that I can get the time off to do so." A small smile came to his face. "Wish we could go and see Ireland once. From what you've told me it seems so beautiful."

Clenching the metal eating instruments in her hands, Dorrie lowered her face and began to pick at the once appetizing meal while nodding in agreement at her husband. Was this what he had to live with all his life? She had a few of the locals call her names but most of her time was spent at the Station where she was surrounded by those who accepted Buck and her marriage to him. She'd forgotten what it was like to be humiliated in public or snubbed due to her using the old ways of her people. Unlike Buck, she did not wear that on her skin so only those who knew of her would cause problems due to her profession.

When Buck spoke of their son and going away to show him where his father had grown up, Dorrie smiled once more. Then her husband brought up one of her greatest desires...to return to the land of her birth. Lifting her shining green eyes to seek Buck's chocolate, an excited look came to her eyes. "Oh Buck...if fer once I could take ya back and show ya the isles of my life. Booth the Emerald and Scotland," she gushed out nearly rising from her chair. "Tipperary and the Lakes o Kerry on a warm Summer's eve."

Buck smiles, albeit weakly as Dorrie spoke of Ireland. "Maybe all three of us can go see it some time. We said that we would teach Tsen about your culture as well as mine, and I think it is important that we go there." Buck looked down then. Teaching Tsen about both cultures - it reminded Buck that he wasn't allowed to return to the village. He had broken Red Bear's law once and he didn't dare disrespect his brother again.

"I mean," Buck said. "I can't go back to the village because of my brother's law so I can't show Tsen how the Kiowa really live, I can only tell him, but we can go to Ireland."

"Did you hear that," whispered Agatha, just loud enough for Buck and Dorrie to overhear. "The half-breed isn't even allowed in his own village. His own brother doesn't want him."

Buck swallowed hard and fought the urge to strangle the woman. Biting his lip, Buck did his best not to look at the woman. "Dorrie, I'm not feeling up for desert. Why don't we just pay for the food and get out of here?"

Her appetite totally lost, Dorrie had been taking small bites of the chicken and tried her best to ignore the other couple's comments. The last rude comment turned the healer's stomach and she pushed the plate away from her. "Aye...I want ta go!" she said her voice shaking angrily.

She waited for Buck to come up behind her as he helped her from the beautifully carved cherry chair like any gentleman would. With her head held high, Dorrie leaned close to her husband as he led her from the dining room.

"Good riddance I say ta white trash and heathens!" the older woman spat out as the two made their departure.

Buck bit his lip and fought hard not to say anything to the other couple. Taking Dorrie's hand he helped her up into the buggy before he came up after her. Slapping the horse's reins, Buck led them out of town and the looks from the citizens there.

"We don't have to be home yet. We could go by the pond for a while, get some peace."

As he got into the buggy next to her and laid the blanket across their laps, Dorrie gave a sigh and nodded. "Aye...the pond sounds like a good idea."

Sadness could be felt between the two at their ruined supper plans and Dorrie struggled to find the words to express how angry and hurt she felt over those peoples nasty comments. As Buck slapped the reigns to speed up Ginger's pace, the healer leaned her head on her husband's shoulder. "Tisn't true ya know...those thins they say bout ya. Yer nay a heathen any more than I'm a whore." She could feel the pain and anger in his touch as she tried to deal with similar emotions within herself. "They spake without knowing and in fear I thin boot...oh Buck it still hurts. Worse o all...I dinna want our son ta hear sooch thins. Why canna they practice what they preach from the book they claim ta believe in?" she whispered while wiping a small tear as it slipped slowly down her cheek.

Buck drew her into a hug and held her close. "I don't know," he whispered. "I don't understand the white man's God. I've read the book and it doesn't make sense the way people interpret it. I believe that there is a God and that he is good, but nowhere in that book does it say that I can't believe in him because of the color of my skin."

Buck led her to the big tree and sat down. Wiping a tear away from her cheek, he smiled weakly. "Sometimes I wish there would be a place we could go where we would be seen as equal with everybody else. I don't want Tsen to experience what we have tonight either..." Pulling her closer he let out a sigh. "How are things in Scotland?" he thought out loud.

As his hand swept the crystal tear from her face, the love she felt swept away the anger and pain even if only for the moment. She touched his long dark hair and then she closed her eyes to picture the land that once raised Maclaister sons and daughters.

"The Clan Macalister tis old...but have dwindled I fear to boot a handful. May Da says he could nay stomach how his lineage had chosen ta back the Anglaish and become what they call 'Lowlanders' or those linked ta the thieves o Scottish land. May Da twas nay only in a war against the Anglaish boot his own brothers oer where their allegiance should lay so...he moved ta live in Ireland fer a bit til the far reaching and greedy hands of our tormentors began takin the food from our very mouths...our land."

Dorrie paused and opened her eyes. "Tis beautiful in Scotland with her high ragged mountains and so many lakes ...the ocean poundin along her ancient cliffs. Boot tis beautiful here Buck...so beautiful with the land as far as one could see...oaks, willows and beeches all about. Free land that tis enough ta feed and care fer the young. Most important...this land brought the two o us tagether and now we have a wee one ta see all it's wonders." As she looked about as the orange-red sun sank low upon the horizon, Dorrie gave the Kiowa a knowing smile. "Ya know husband...I do believe twas near here that...we...hmm...spent aer first time...tagether, which brought about our wee Tsen," she whispered while snuggling into his side.

Buck sighed once again and pulled her closer. Kissing the top of her head, Buck remembered back to that day when they had fallen in the water and what happened afterwards. "I think this is the place, but it's different at night. Like you can see everything so much clearer because you really can't see anything at all. It's been so long since it was just the two of us, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I think Tsen has brought new life to the station. Everyone seems so happy around him and even the simplest grin can brighten up a cloudy day. We're lucky to have him."

Then a mischievous grin came to his face and he arched a brow. "Since this is the place where we started our family, I think this a good place to maybe expand it..."

Dorrie looked up at the handsome Indian's face and saw a sparkle in his eye. "Yer touch alone takes may very breath away," she breathed while pressing her hand against his chest. Lifting her lips til they brushed against his teasingly. "Mmmm mayhap this time wheel have a bonnie lass...but if no we can keep tryin..." Dorrie ended with a small giggle while the sound of crickets and an owl sang through the evening air.

"I like that idea," Buck said as he wrapped his arms around Dorrie and pulled her down for a real kiss.

The moon soon shown it's soft white light on the couple as they lay resting in each other's arms. The young couple talked of stars and dreams as they lay on the soft spring grass. Eventually they redressed and headed once more toward home.,.where their family waited and their greatest gift. Born of two worlds...Tsen...Keir...their son.

Once they put the horse and buggy away, the two walked silently up the porch stairs and took great care to open the door in order to be as silent as possible so as not to awake the small baby within. A grin appeared on Dorrie's face when she saw the three lying on the rug sleeping. Little Tsen was lying on Cody's chest drooling but asleep while Liam snorted in his sleep every few breaths.

"Looks like all the children are fast asleep, may love," Dorrie chuckled softly.


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