A/N: This story takes place nine months after Patience is a Vitrue.
"Buck" Jane called out the back door of their home. "BUCK" Jane called again louder, then almost doubled over as another wave of pain hit her. "BUCK, please God let him hear me, BUCK" Jane cried with all the strength she could muster.
"He's in the back pasture Miss….OH! Are you alright?" Ryan, the boy Buck had hired to work for them part time came out of the barn and stopped dead in his tracks. Jane was clinging to the door jamb and clutching her swollen abdomen; the front of her skirt was damp and slightly bloody. Ryan ran toward the frightened young woman. "You need to lie down before you fall down." He said almost carrying her back into the house and guiding her into the sewing room off the kitchen where there was a small bed. Little Ike was napping on it and Ryan gently moved the toddler over to make room for his adopted mother.
"I need Buck" Jane almost cried fighting tears.
"I know Miss Jane but you can't be walkin' around right now. Do you need anything before I go get Buck?" Ryan asked helping Jane onto the bed.
"I need my husband…..Oh God this hurts, something must be wrong…Please find Buck" Jane cried clenching the bed clothes with white knuckles. Please God I don't want to die like Emily. Jane prayed as another wave of pain hit her.
"Promise me you'll stay in this bed." Ryan said not moving.
"Please just get Buck." Jane begged then when Ryan didn't move she added "I promise." Please let the baby be alright…Jane thought as Ryan turned to leave.
Ryan left the room and ran from the house. He was in the barn and on a horse as fast as any Pony Express rider would have been only a year ago. He hoped that Buck was where he'd said he'd be. Ryan was only fifteen and had wanted to become a Pony Express Rider but the telegraph had replaced them before he was old enough to sign on. Buck and Kid had needed help on the ranch they had bought together and hired Ryan to do odd jobs. He spotted Buck in the distance riding along the fence line with Kid.
Buck and Kid heard the horse's hoof beats and stopped. "He's comin' awful fast" Kid said turning his horse, Katy.
"Somethin's wrong…" Buck said turning his horse and starting toward the incoming rider. Kid followed quickly.
"Buck come quick, I think Miss Jane is havin' her baby…." Ryan said as Buck approached.
"I'll get the Doc and Rachel." Kid yelled to Buck's back. "Ryan go with him and take care of Little Ike, when I get back I'll take him back to my house."
Buck arrived at his home and leapt from his horse, his feet never touched the stairs as he ran into the house. "Jane, Honey?" He called not knowing where she was.
"Buck? I'm in the sewing room…." Jane called. "I think the baby is coming…"
"I'm right here, baby, I'm right here…." Buck said kneeling down beside the bed and gathering his wife in his arms. It was then he noticed Little Ike. "He's still asleep?"
"Buck it really hurts…I'm scared…I know Lou and Rachel told me it would hurt but I don't think they meant like this….something's wrong, I know it." Jane cried into Buck shoulder.
Please let everything be alright, I can't loose Jane, Ike needs his mother. Buck thought and offered a silent prayer to the Spirits for the safety of his wife and unborn child. "Kid's gone to get help. I wish Lou could come too but it's too soon for her. Mathew's only four days old." Buck said attempting to sooth Jane's frayed nerves.
They heard the back door open and close, seconds later Ryan knocked lightly and poked his head in the door. "Kid asked me to take Ike over to his place while the baby's bein' borned."
"That's a good idea but do you think Lou is up for watchin' him?" Buck asked knitting his brows together.
"OOOHHHHH" Jane moaned. "He can't stay here"
"Miss Jane, my Mama has thirteen children, I been carin' for little ones half my life. I'll take good care of him I promise. Buck my Pa says a shot of whiskey helps while the baby's comin'…"Ryan paused and reached down to pick up Little Ike; both Buck and Jane kissed the sleepy little boy goodbye. "Let's go for a ride over to see Auntie Lou and Uncle Kid, How's that sound?" Ryan asked the confused little boy. Ike nodded his head and waved bye-bye to Jane and Buck.
"I don't think we have any whiskey, once the Doc gets here I'll be able to brew up some herbs to help Jane with the pain." Buck said wincing as Jane squeezed his hand tightly.
"Oh the whiskey was for my Pa, not my Ma." Ryan said patting the groggy toddler's back and left the room.
"Buck I'm scared. I can't do this…Why did Lou have to have her baby first? I need her….and if you even think about drinkin' I'll…..OHHHHHH!" Jane wailed as another contraction hit her. They heard the front door open.
"Jane, Buck?" Rachel called.
"In here." Buck called back. Rachel appeared in the door way and Buck breathed a sigh of relief. "I'm glad to see you, I didn't want to do this by myself…."
"You ain't doin' nothin' I'm the one that has to birth this baby…." Jane said through gritted teeth.
"Buck kiss your wife and go brew up some of those herbs, they really seemed to help Lou. I'll take over here." Rachel said smiling.
Buck kissed Jane and stood up. "How'd you get here so fast?"
"I was over at Kid and Lou's, now git and do as you're told…" Rachel said turning Buck in the direction of the door when he didn't move she swatted him in the seat of his pants. "Go!" Buck left.
The Doc arrived almost an hour later just as the herbs were ready. "I'll take the tea Buck. You stay out here with Kid. How long has she been laboring?"
"I guess it's been about two hours since she says her water broke." Buck said nervously handing the tea pot over.
"Good it shouldn't be too much longer, just another few hours, the first one always takes a several hours, Buck, don't worry she's been healthy and strong all along I don't expect any problems." The Doc said patting the expectant father on the shoulder. Then he disappeared into the sewing room.
"So was Emily…" Buck whispered as the door to the sewing room closed.
Lou had insisted that Kid stay with Buck just as Buck had done for him only a few days earlier. The normally calm, I-can-face-anything-Buck, disappeared and a nervous one emerged. Buck was grateful Kid was there and asked him over and over if he'd been this nervous waiting for Lou to deliver Mathew. The afternoon became evening and the night followed as it always does but the two friends didn't notice. Eight painfully loud agonizing hours later Jane's cries of pain changed and then went silent. Buck started shaking and almost passed out from fear that she had died. Just when he thought he couldn't take it anymore a different cry was heard. Moments later the door opened and Rachel came out carrying a tiny bundle.
"Buck, someone here wants to meet you." Rachel walked over to Buck who stood as if he was rooted to the spot. "Buck, meet your son…" Rachel smiled and held out the tiny bundle to him. Buck held out two shaking arms.
Kid moved closer to Buck and peered at the little body wrapped inside a soft blue and white blanket. "He's adorable Buck…" Kid said waiting for Buck to look at the infant.
"Jane?" He asked with a quiver in his voice.
"She's a little tired, but she's fine. The Doc is just finishing up with her now; you'll be able to see her in a few minutes." Rachel placed the baby in Buck's arms.
Kid put his arm around Rachel and they both stood back and watched Buck as he looked into his son's face for the first time. They smiled as they watched the play of emotions cross Buck's handsome face and tears well up in his eyes. Kid knew how Buck felt and he smiled remembering how he'd cried too looking at Mathew for the first time. Rachel smiled hoping that she would be able to make Teaspoon that happy too and soon if her suspicions were correct.
Buck looked down at the tiny face peeking out at him from the blanket. The baby's eyes were open and seemed to search Buck's face. "Hi there, I'm your Daddy…" Buck couldn't believe the feeling that swept over him. Kid had told him he'd feel a love like he'd never felt before when the baby was placed in his arms the first time. He drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. The baby wrinkled up his nose and pushed a hand up out of the blanket. Buck used his finger and thumb and took the infant's hand in his. Four tiny fingers wrapped around one of Buck's. It was then that Buck noticed that there were spots on the blanket and suddenly realized he was crying.
"Congratulations Buck, he's perfect, are you ready to see your wife?" The Doc asked coming out of the room. "What's his name?"
"I'm not sure, maybe Noah. Thanks…" Buck said and brought his son into the room. Rachel thanked the Doc and followed Buck.
Jane was sitting up in the bed with several pillows propped behind her. Her hair was plastered to her sweat soaked face and her smile lit up the room. "Well, did I do a good job?" Jane asked reaching her arms out for her son.
"He's perfect, he's got hold of my finger…Do you think he knows I'm his Daddy?" Buck asked walking carefully to the bed. He sat down beside Jane and reluctantly passed the infant to his wife. Carefully, with Rachel's help, Jane eased the baby into a position so he could nurse. Buck watched in total fascination; neither noticed as Rachel left the room.
"I must look like quite a sight. How long did it take? It seemed like forever…..This is a very strange sensation." Jane said adjusting herself and the baby slightly.
"You are beautiful, you are the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, especially right now. I can't believe he's ours, our son. Jane we made him." Buck said wiping a tear from his cheek. Jane smiled up at him. Buck leaned in and kissed her tenderly. "That was the longest ten hours of my life."
Buck and Jane sat just enjoying their new son long after the infant fell asleep in his mother's arms. "What should we name him?" Jane finally broke the silence as a ray of sunshine found it way into the sewing room.
"Well, I thought we had it narrowed down to Noah Thomas or Eric Hunter." Buck said peering at the baby again. "He looks like a Noah to me."
"Me too, Noah it is." Jane said kissing the infant's head. Just then the door burst open and a small person rushed in.
"Mama! Daddy!" Ike cried happily than skidded to a halt and pointed. "What's that?" He asked in words only his parents could have understood.
Both parents laughed. "This is your new brother…his name is Noah." Jane said.
"No" Ike said simply. "Maf-ew"
"Mathew is your cousin, this is your brother." Buck said reaching for his adopted son but the child wiggled away.
"No." Ike said and stomped out of the room.
Buck hurried off the bed and after his son. He was surprised to find that his living room was full of people. Kid had taken Rachel back to his house where Lou was waiting up, anxious for news. When Kid and Rachel arrived it was all Kid could do to keep her from running the half mile to Buck's home. Rachel insisted that they all get a couple of hours sleep. Lou hadn't realized how tired she was until Kid snuggled her into him on their bed. They all woke with Mathew just before dawn, he was hungry. Lou fed her son quickly then bundled him up for the trip to Buck and Jane's. She insisted that Kid bring them all right back to the Cross home even if it was only going to be for a few minutes' visit. Teaspoon was just coming up the road when he saw Kid helping Lou into their wagon.
"What's this, you just had a baby shouldn't you be restin' or somethin'?" Teaspoon asked looking the family over.
"I'm rested enough, thanks to your wife staying here, that I can go and see Buck and Jane's new son!" Lou fired back.
"SON! Jane's had her baby too? Where's Rachel, Is she over there now?" Teaspoon asked brightening. "Someone should have let me know this was happening. How's Buck?"
"I'm glad you're here lets all go over for a quick visit." Rachel said exiting the house carrying Ike and climbing up beside Teaspoon in their wagon for the short trip to the Cross home.
Twenty minutes later Buck followed Little Ike out of the sewing room and into a living room full of people. Ike stopped suddenly looked up at Lou who was holding her son. The little boy pointed to the baby in Lou's arms and said "Maf-ew, Daddy"
"Yes Ike, that is Mathew, your brother Noah is with Mama in there…" Buck pointed toward the sewing room.
"NO!" Ike said again and started to head toward the stairs and his own bedroom.
Buck was able to scoop his son up before he reached the stairs. "No upstairs right now. Let's go see Mama again." Buck struggled to hold the toddler who violently shook his head no. Buck turned toward his family. "I can't believe you're all here. I need to let Jane know we've got company."
Rachel and Lou both expected Buck to walk back to the room that held his wife and son and announce them but instead he turned, took about three steps in that direction and bellowed. "Honey, the family is here!" Lou rolled her eyes and Rachel groaned.
"Buck what are you thinking? Go back there and see if she needs help with the baby before we all go marching in there." Lou stated fixing her gaze on the new father's stunned face.
"Ah, um, yeah, I'll be right back." Buck left still carrying Ike who he'd slung over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. The child's laughter filled the room. Buck returned a moment later without Ike and invited everyone to come in and see his new son.
Buck stood off to the side and watched as Lou with baby Mathew approached the bed that held Jane, baby Noah and little Ike. Lou sat down and the two mothers looked at each other's babies. Mathew had a bit of light hair, blue eyes and fair skin while Noah had lots of dark hair, dark eyes and a darker complexion. Little Ike looked back and forth between the two babies so much Buck wondered if he'd make himself dizzy.
"See Ike there are two babies, this is your cousin Mathew and this is your brother Noah." Jane said patiently pointing to each baby as she said its name. "Alright, got that?" Then she kissed Ike on the nose causing the child to giggle.
"Maf-ew!" Ike said pointing at Lou and Kid's son. Then he turned and looked at his brother. "No" he announced as he pointed at Noah. Then he did something that touched the hearts of everyone present. Ike bent down and kissed Noah's head. "No" he said again and leaned back beaming from ear to ear.
Buck stood in the door way watching, feeling the tears roll down his face. He thought of all the events that had happened to bring him to this point in time and smiled. The deaths of his fellow riders, the hardships he and Big Ike had faced before the Pony Express, the mistrust of the town's folk, even the beatings he'd endured in the Village growing up were all meant to bring him here. He watched his family fawning over his new son and looked at the smile on his wife's face. If he'd given up he would never have known this much love. Buck said a quick prayer of thanks to the Spirits for bringing Jane into his life. He knew looking at his wife's smile that as long as she was by his side he could face whatever the world threw at him. Just then Jane looked up and their eyes locked. She made a motion with her head and beckoned him to her. Then she made a kissing motion with her lips, Buck returned the gesture and Jane smiled, Buck smiled again. He'd do anything to see her smile.