Author's Note: Slightly AU, Lou was never raped and has no siblings. Set towards the beginning of the second season.

Chapter 1 - Lou's POV

"Lou! Ike! I've got a special run I want you two to do." Teaspoon said coming out of the bunkhouse.

"What is it Teaspoon?" I asked.

"I need you two to take a package to Fort Laramie." Teaspoon told me.

I noticed Buck standing behind Teaspoon looked concern. Ever since he had rescued Ike from the Kiowa, they hadn't attacked anymore Express riders, but Buck still worried when any of us had to travel close to their land.

"Teaspoon why don't you let me go with Ike instead of Lou?" Kid spoke up, I glared at him. I hated it when he tried to protect me, why can't he get it through his head that I don't want or need him to protect me.

"Nope, need Lou special for this one." Teaspoon said with a wink to me. I looked at him in question. Teaspoon pulled us aside. "Lou I understand ya got a pretty dress." Teaspoon said more of a statement than a question really. I blushed and nodded, it still felt weird that Teaspoon knew my secret now. I remember the day he found out, that was so embarrassing.

"Good, I need you to pack it. Ike you're going to deliver that package to a Major Callen. Louise after Ike delivers that package I want you to check in the hotel as Rebecca Howell. Major Callen will meet up with you for dinner and give you something that he will tell you to take to someone. Remember that name and bring whatever he gives you straight back here, got it?" Teaspoon explained to us.

"Yes. What's this about Teaspoon?" I asked wondering what was going on.

"Major Callen is suspected to be a traitor. The army asked me to see if we can confirm that. Whatever he gives you will confirm he's either a traitor or a loyal officer." Teaspoon told us.

"Alright Teaspoon." I said as I headed for the bunkhouse to gather my gear and my dress. Ike went to saddle our horses.

Kid was not happy when he saw me pack my dress. But I figured he would get over it. Buck was holding Lightning's reins for me when I went back outside. He gave me a soft smile, his hand clutching his medicine bag, something he only does when he has a bad feeling about something. As I tied my bedroll onto the back of my horse I looked over at Buck, "Are you ok Buck?" I asked noticing the strange expression on his face.

"I'm fine Lou, just be careful ok. I've got a strange feeling about this ride." Buck said looking at me intently. I didn't have time to ask what he meant because the rest of the guys spilled out of the bunkhouse to say goodbye.

I just smiled over at Buck and over at my boys. I mounted up and gave them all a nod. Buck put his hand on my leg; I looked down and met his eyes. There was something in them that I couldn't identify. "Ride safe Lou." He said with a slight smile and a squeeze of my leg. There was something about his expression that had my stomach full of butterflies.

"Thanks Buck." I said before riding out with Ike.

Fort Laramie was a two day ride and we were getting a late start. I knew we wouldn't get very far tonight before we had to make camp.

Shortly before sunset we stopped to make camp. Ike took care of the horses while I got a fire started. I put a can of beans on to warm for our dinner, wishing I was back in Sweetwater and eating Rachel's good cooking. Ike came and sat beside me, he bumped my shoulder with his and I looked over at him and smiled.

"What was bothering Buck?" Ike signed to me.

"I don't know. He said he had a strange feeling about this run, he told me to be careful. He didn't say anything to you?" I told Ike.

"No. It must have to do with you and not me." Ike responded with a worried expression.

I smiled to reassure him, "hmmm... I'm sure it's nothing Ike."

Ike didn't look convinced, "I don't know Lou; Buck's feelings are usually dead on. You better be extra careful." I nodded knowing I couldn't argue with that. Buck was usually right about things.

We sat in silence while we ate our beans. Afterwards I took the dishes to the nearby stream and washed them off. I returned to the fire and stretched out on my bedroll. "Goodnight Ike." I said to my silent friend. Ike raised his hand and smiled.

I drifted to sleep thinking on my conversation with Ike and Buck's words of warning. I also thought about Kid and his 'protectiveness'; he was driving me crazy with it. He was trying to turn me into on of those 'southern belle' types he was used to dealing with. It was driving me crazy. I really liked Kid but I wasn't about to change who I am. If Kid couldn't learn to accept me for who I am, then we don't have a chance in hell to have a lasting relationship. Why couldn't he just let me be me? I had fitful dreams that night. So when I woke the next morning I felt worse than I had the night before.

Chapter 2 - Buck's POV

After tossing and turning for half the night I decided to go ahead and get up. I still could not shake the feeling I had. Lou was in trouble. Slipping out of the bunkhouse I head to the barn and saddle Spirit. I knew I would probably be in trouble when I got back, but I just couldn't fight the feeling that Lou needed me. Lou's family, I couldn't let her down. I'd never be able to forgive myself if something happened to her.

Ever since the day I found out she was a girl, I had feelings start to grow in my heart for her. I knew she was with Kid though so I tried to crush them before they grew too big. I thought I had until Emma had introduced us to 'Louise'. I lost my battle that day; the minute I saw her in that dress I fell head over heels in love with Lou. I think we all fell in love with Lou a little that day. But out of respect for my friend I've tried to push those feelings down.

I've tried to think of Lou as nothing more than a sister. Most days I do pretty well, but today I can't deny my feelings. I knew the woman I loved more than anything else in this world was in danger. I just hoped I could catch up with her and Ike before it was too late.

Lou's POV

"Come on Lou, we best get going. We should be at Fort Laramie by lunch tomorrow." Ike signed to me. I give him a smile and start gathering my things. My sleepless night and Buck's words of warning are weighing me down. Something doesn't feel right. It's almost as if we are being watched.

I casually scan the surrounding area, I don't see anything out of the ordinary so I just shrug off the feeling and continue packing. A few minutes later we were mounted up and headed towards Laramie. We had been riding for about twenty minutes when we saw them.

Ike had a look of sheer terror on his face. I don't blame him, not after what he had been through just a few months ago. If it hadn't been for Buck they would have killed Ike. God Buck was right I was in danger. "Ike ride Now!" I shouted as we sped as fast as we could away from the Indians.

I couldn't be sure but I thought they were Kiowa. Why were they after us now? They hadn't touched us since Buck saved Ike.

We were riding as fast as we could back towards Sweetwater, it was closer. We were pulling away from them but then Lightning got spooked by something and threw me. The Indians were gaining on us. I knew we wouldn't get away if we rode double.

My only hope was for Ike to get back to Sweetwater and get help. "Ike go! Get Buck!" I shouted at him. Ike looked torn. "Ike get away! Go Now!" I scream. Ike looked like he was going to cry as he raced away.

I staggered to my feet, holding my left arm. My shoulder felt dislocated from my fall. The Indians surrounded me. I glared at them, refusing to let them see my fear. But afraid I was; I was terrified. It was going to be bad with them thinking I was a boy. But if they figure out I'm a girl it's going to be terrible. I've heard what can happen to white women that are captured by Indians. I prayed that Ike could get help before it is too late.

One of the braves brought Lightning back to me, he didn't appear injured. The brave forced me to remount. Then he tied my hands to the pummel and one of the warriors kept hold of the reins as they led my horse away. I looked back in the direction of Sweetwater, thankful Ike got away. I knew help would be coming. I just hoped it wouldn't be too late in coming.

Chapter 3 - Buck's POV

About an hour after day break I found myself riding into the remains of Lou's and Ike's camp, after scouting around I figured I was only about thirty minutes behind them. And it didn't appear as though they had any trouble yet. I prayed to the spirits that it would stay that way. I quickly remounted Spirit and headed out after them.

After riding for about ten minutes I spotted a rider headed my way fast. It only took me a minute to know it was Ike and Lou wasn't with him. I was already too late, something has happened to her. Steeling myself I race towards Ike. We stopped when we were abreast each other. Ike was signing so fast I couldn't understand him.

"Whoa slow down Ike. Where's Lou? What happened?" I asked frantic.

"Chased by Indians, horse threw her; she made me leave her behind." Ike signed quickly tears streaming down his face.

"Which tribe?" I asked not sure I really wanted an answer.

"Red Bear's" Ike signed with a visible shudder.

"Damn." I muttered and started to move away but Ike's hand stopped me.

"What are you going to do Buck?" He asked.

"Save her." I answered simply.

"They'll kill you Buck." Ike signed the tears flowing harder.

I swallowed hard, "Maybe, but I won't let them hurt Lou."

"I'm coming with you." Ike signed with resolve.

"No Ike. You got to go back to Sweetwater. If we aren't back in a couple of days then you can come look for us. Give me time to try to keep a fight from happening." I quickly said.

Ike nodded, "Be careful Buck."

"I'll try." I said and quickly sped away.

I had to reach them before they killed Lou or before they found out Lou is a girl. I know what would happen if they found out she's a girl. She would be given to one of the warriors or sold as a slave to another tribe. Both ways she would be 'hurt'; and I didn't want her to go through what my mother had gone through.

I just didn't have any idea what I was going to do to get her and myself out of this mess. Even if I couldn't get out, I'd make sure Lou got away. If it is the last thing I do, I will save the woman I love.

Lou's POV

As we rode into the village Indian women and children came out to see the 'captive'. Other warriors appeared to look at the 'prize'. A skinny white boy wasn't much of a prize but a 'woman' was I thought. The warriors who had captured me stopped in front of an older Indian, who I guessed had to be in his late thirty's early forty's. From his head dress I figured he was the chief. Was this Red Bear Buck's brother? Or was I with a different tribe altogether?

One of the warriors pulled me from my horse and shoved me before the chief. I fell to my knees, with a cry of pain. It was that cry of pain that made the chief look at me closer. Pulling me to my feet he knocked my hat off and took my glasses from my face. I tried to stare at him in defiance but I was trembling with fear. I saw his eyes widen with realization as to what I am.

He said something to his warriors, but I couldn't understand it. But I knew he was telling them I was a woman, because they all began to circle me looking me up and down like I was some piece of livestock. One warrior grabbed my face and forced me to look at him. Another ripped my shirt exposing my small breast. I tried to hold my shirt together but he hit me. I hit him back. This brought a round of laughter from those gathered around.

They all started shouting over one another. Again I couldn't understand the language but the tone said it all. They were fighting over who got to have me. I tried to keep the tears at bay as the visions of what they could do to me filled my head. Why had I not listened to Buck? "Buck where are you?" I whispered to myself.

The chief however heard me. He put his hand on my shoulder and made me face him. "Who is this Buck you speak of?" he asked in halting English. The others continued arguing with each other ignoring our conversation.

"Buck is Running Buck half-brother of the war chief Red Bear." I said hoping the chief would at least know Red Bear's name. I saw the man's mouth twitch.

"You are his woman?" He asked.

I thought about telling the truth and saying no, but some little voice inside my head screamed at me to lie. "Yes. We are promised to each other." I replied my voice cracking with emotion, I wasn't sure I could explain.

The Indian cocked his head to the side, "Why do you dress as a man?"

I had to smirk at his question, "I'm a rider for the Express. I work with Buck, that's how we met. I pretended to be a boy to get the job. They would not hire me if they knew I was a girl."

The older Indian actually laughed before he turned serious again. "How long have you been promised to my brother?" he asked me, I gasped in shock.

"Red Bear?" I asked, he nodded. I had to think quickly, he would know that Buck hadn't been promised to anyone a few months ago. "We've been promised for one month." I replied casually, my heart racing with the lie.

"Running Buck did not mention you when last I saw him." Red Bear stated, clearly not sure he believed me.

I swallowed hard, "No, he wouldn't have. At the time he still thought I was a boy." Red Bear seemed to be considering my words when he was distracted by a horse galloping into the village.

I turned just in time to see Buck vault from his horse before it even came to a stop. I breathed a quick sigh of relief as he pushed through the warriors and wrapped me in his embrace, his arms around me felt both safe and comforting. Placing me behind his back he turned to his brother. "Release her brother. You promised not to attack any of the riders why now?" Buck said to his brother. Red Bear glared at him, not liking being question in front of his warriors.

"I did not attack. She has not been harmed nor was the other rider. My warriors could easily have killed either of them. They did not." Red Bear stated clearly putting Buck in his place.

Buck's shoulders sagged for a brief moment before he straighten again and said, "Please brother release her."

Red Bear stared at Buck, "Why have you come here Running Buck. I told you not to look back when you chose your white family over your tribe."

Buck looked at me over his shoulder; I know he could see the fear in my eyes, his eyes locked on mine as he answered Red Bear. "For her." He said simply.

Red Bear smiled a teasing smile, "Why? Is she special to you?" he asked. I tensed knowing Red Bear was trying to see if I had lied to him. There was no way I could tell Buck what I had told him. I prayed Buck would say the right things.

"Yes. She is very special to me. I love her." Buck said with conviction. I knew Buck was lying but the way he said it made me believe it was true. I felt those butterflies in my stomach at his words. I almost found myself wishing it was true.

Red Bear looked at us for a moment, "The woman claims she is your woman. That you are promised to each other. Is this true?"

Behind Buck's back I ran one finger down his back hoping he would figure out I had said for one month. "Yes, it's true. We have been promised to each other for one moon." Buck said. I released the breath I hadn't realized I had been holding.

Red Bear said something in Kiowa and I felt Buck stiffen. Then two women came forward and started dragging me away. I called out to Buck. He placed a hand on one of the women's shoulders and leaned in to whisper in my ear. "Go with them. I'll be with you soon and I'll explain." I nodded. Buck kissed me lightly on the lips, my mouth parting in surprise and my heart racing at the sensation. Before I could even think I was being pulled away again, but my eyes never left Buck's face until I was pushed inside one of the tepees.

Chapter 4 - Buck's POV

I watched Lou, my eyes never leaving her face until she disappeared inside a tepee with Red Bear's wife and daughter. I turned to my brother, "Red Bear she doesn't understand, please just let me take her home."

Red Bear looked at me narrowing his eyes, I knew I was pushing the limits of his patience with me, "I cannot little brother; she has impressed my warriors. They want her, so you will either marry her tonight or you will take your chances and fight for her tomorrow against those of my warriors who want her." Red Bear stated plainly.

How the hell am I going to explain this to Lou? This certainly is not what I had in mind to get her out of here. "Or is it you are not being truthful with me brother, are you saying you love her just to free her?" Red Bear asked interrupting my thoughts.

I looked him in the eye and answered truthfully, "No. I love her more than anything else in the world."

Red Bear smiled, "I believe you, now you must go prepare to wed your woman. Tonight you two shall become one… or have you already?" Red Bear said adding the last part in a teasing voice.

I couldn't help the blush that stole across my face, "No…that's not how… Lou isn't that kind of girl." I stammered out flustered. How do you tell your brother that you're still a virgin?

"Go get ready." Red Bear said suddenly.

I looked back up at him, "Red Bear at least let me explain to Lou, so she understands what's going on."

Red Bear pursed his lips and then said, "Very well." I thanked my brother and then headed to the tepee that Lou had disappeared into.

How was I going to tell her she had to marry me in order for me to rescue her? I know Lou doesn't love me and to her the ceremony will just be words, but to me it's real. I know I'll never love anybody like Lou so it's no big deal to me that after tonight I will be married in the Kiowa world to Lou, I'll always be married to Lou. She won't think that way I know it's not a legally binding ceremony in the white world. She will be free to continue her relationship with Kid. But I'll have tonight if I can just convince her it's the only way to save her.

I swallow hard and lift the flap to the tepee. Stepping inside the lodge, I speak in Kiowa to my sister in law and niece and ask them to give me a few minutes. After they leave I turn back to Lou, she's sitting on the ground crying holding her left arm. I notice for the first time it didn't look right. "Lou, sweetheart are you hurt?" I ask kneeling down next to her.

"I think I dislocated my shoulder when Lightning threw me." She answered not looking at me.

I probed it with my fingers. "You did, I need to pop it back in place, and it's going to hurt."

Lou gritted her teeth and said, "Just do it Buck, it will feel better once it's done."

I clench my jaw as I got ready to pop the shoulder back in, I knew it was going to hurt, knew that from experience, I hated the thought of hurting Lou. I noticed Lou gritting her teeth harder as I worked her shoulder, when it went back in with a pop; she gingerly rolled her shoulder testing it.

"Thanks Buck, that feels better." She said smiling over at me.

I couldn't help but grin, "You are an amazing woman Lou, I've had to do that for several of the boys and they always cry out, you didn't." Lou blushed and just shrugged.

"Are they going to let me go Buck?" Lou asked softly.

I let out a long breath, "That's what I've come to talk to you about. They'll let us leave in the morning on one condition."

Lou looked at me, "What's that?"

I swallowed nervously, "You have to marry me."

"What?!" Lou exclaimed.

"I don't think Red Bear completely believed us, but the major problem is you've impressed a fair number of his warriors and they want you for themselves. Because we claimed to be promised to each other Red Bear is giving us the opportunity to marry before the fights." I explained quickly, and very uncomfortably.

"What fights?" Lou asked confused.

"The fights over you, I either marry you today and make you mine," I blushed before continuing, "or I try to win you tomorrow, which I have no doubt I would lose. I'm not much of a fighter."

Lou didn't comment on the blush, "So I either marry you tonight or take my chances for you to win me tomorrow. I'm guessing if you lose I would be given to the winner, which would mean I wouldn't be leaving this village. Well guess that means I'm going to marry you." Lou stated matter of factly.

I bit my lower lip, "There's just one thing you should know Lou, Red Bear will expect us to um … join … together … I'm sure someone will be listening to makes sure it's done." I stammered blushing hard.

Lou blushed when she realized what I was talking about, "You mean we would have to 'dance'."

"Yeah … in the Kiowa world that is what makes you bound to someone." I said flustered.

"Buck I don't know if I can do that, I've never 'danced' with anyone before." Lou admitted blushing prettily.

"Neither have I, but Lou I promise I won't hurt you. I can't guarantee I could best my brother's warriors tomorrow and if one of them won you, they wouldn't be gentle with you. I just don't see any other way out of this." I admitted hanging my head in defeat.

Lou looked like she was about to agree when she looked at me sharply, "Buck you've never 'danced' before?"

"No, I told you that would make me bound to that person." I said not looking at her.

"Wait Buck that means if you 'danced' with me you would be bound to me. You wouldn't ever marry anybody else would you?" Lou asked the concern for me evident in her voice; she thinks I would be giving up a lot to do this.

"No … but it's not likely anybody would have me anyway. If it saves you I'll gladly live my life alone." I said softly looking into her eyes for the first time since starting this conversation.

Lou promptly burst into tears and threw herself into my arms. I wish I could tell her, that when I told Red Bear that I loved her I wasn't lying, but this was going to be hard enough without her knowing the truth. As long as she thinks I'm just doing this to save her, she has a chance of finding love with someone. If she knew the truth she might feel obligated to stay with me, I couldn't allow that.

After she dried her tears she looked at me, "Alright Buck, I guess you better send those women back in here. I've got to get ready for my wedding."

I nodded and headed towards the exit, I turn back to look at Lou, "I am sorry Lou, if there was another way I'd take it."

She walked up to me, her hand holding her ripped shirt closed and kissed my cheek. "I know Buck, I'm just glad you got here when you did. How did you get here so fast anyway?" Lou asked cocking her head to the side.

I grinned, "The spirits wouldn't let me sleep last night; I left in the middle of the night knowing you would need me."

She kissed my cheek again. "Thank you Buck, I don't know what I would have done without you." She whispered her mouth just inches from mine, all I had to do was lean in and I could kiss her. Instead I just smiled and exited the lodge.

I didn't want to think about what could have happened if I had not shown up when I did. I motioned for the two women to go back in and get Lou ready and then I went to join Red Bear in his lodge to get ready myself. I wasn't sure how we were going to explain this one to the guys, maybe we will just keep quiet about it.

Chapter 5 - Lou's POV

After Buck left the two women came back in. They stripped me down and washed me with water that smelled like wild roses. After I was clean they dressed me in a soft white doeskin dress that had the most amazing bead work on it. I fingered the delicate design and murmured 'beautiful'. I didn't know if they spoke English but they smiled at me so they probably at least understood what I had said. After the dress they put some moccasins on me that matched the dress.

There wasn't much they could do about my hair, but the younger of the two women wove a wreath of wild flowers and put that on my head. I thought I was ready when I head a man's voice outside the tepee. I stiffened as I watched the flap move and Red Bear walked in. He moved to kneel in front of me holding a piece of animal skin in his hand.

He looked up and smiled, "My brother has done well in his choice for wife. He has chosen a woman of great beauty, strength, and courage. You will have a blessed union full of love." I hated lying but I kept quiet as Red Bear continued. "This was made by our mother, it would have been given to you by her if she was still alive, but since she is not I will present it."

I watched as Red Bear unwrapped the object that had been hidden in the animal skin. Inside was a necklace, a chocker really, that looked almost like the earring that Buck wore. I reached out an unsteady hand to touch it. Red Bear smiled, "you recognize this don't you? This was made the same time as Running Buck's earring. It was meant for his woman, that's you." I felt the tears in my eyes, this wasn't right. By marrying Buck I was denying him any chance at finding love. I knew after tonight he would feel bound to me, he would never take another woman as wife.

I was just about to spill the beans to Red Bear when he spoke again. "I know you were not truthful with me. I know you were not promised to Running Buck." I swallowed hard and met his eyes. "However, I know my brother was telling the truth when he said he loves you. Keep that in mind little one." Red Bear said then he handed the necklace over to the older woman and left.

She moved forward and placed it around my neck. I shouldn't be wearing this, this was meant for the woman Buck was meant to love not me. But Red Bear truly believes Buck loves me. He saw through the other lies why would he believe that unless it was really true? Did Buck truly love me? No, Red Bear has to be mistaken or he just sees that Buck does love me but doesn't see that it is only the love one would have for a sister. Yes that has to be it; he sees the love Buck has for me as a sister. Red Bear doesn't understand we are like family. Course that is probably a good thing as it's saving my neck right now.

A few minutes later the two women escorted me out of the tepee and led me to where Buck was standing. My breath caught in my throat as I looked at him. I had never realized how handsome Buck was. I mean I always knew he was a good looking boy but now I saw him as the handsome, strong, masculine 'warrior' he truly was. My God he was gorgeous, how had I not seen it before?

He looked up at that moment his eyes locking with mine. I couldn't seem to remember how to breathe. Those darn butterflies returned to my stomach when his hand reached out and took my own. His eyes roved over my body taken in my appearance settling on my throat and the chocker I was wearing. He arched one eyebrow as he traced the chocker with one finger before looking to his brother for an answer.

Red Bear said something to Buck in Kiowa and I saw a soft smile grace Buck's lips before he turned back to me. Red Bear spoke a few words in Kiowa before he moved aside and a much older man took his place. I'd wager a guess he was the village shaman. After he gave what I assume was a blessing for our union, Buck leaned in and brushed his lips gently over mine. My breath caught again at the sensation, the butterflies doing double time in my stomach.

The rest of the day was spent in celebration with dancing and a feast. I found out that the two women that had helped me earlier were Red Bear's wife and daughter. I was sitting next to 'my' sister in law and was watching Buck dance around the fire with some of the other warriors. I couldn't keep my eyes off of him. I had never seen Buck like this and I was fascinated.

I was gnawing on my lower lip, feeling something I could not explain. The woman beside me laughed suddenly and I broke my gaze from Buck and turned to her to see her looking at me, the laughter sparkling in her eyes. "What?" I asked thinking she wouldn't be able to tell me even if she understood.

"Shall I tell your husband that you are ready to be joined to him?" she asked with a mischievous smile. I blushed hotly, realizing that was exactly what I wanted at that moment.

I had never known the touch of a man, had never wanted to until this moment. I wanted Buck as a woman wants a man. Funny I had never looked at Buck twice really, my eyes had always been on Kid, but I had never wanted Kid to touch me. Now I can't keep my eyes off of Buck and I can't hide the fact that I want him. At least not to the woman sitting beside me.

I nodded once, not trusting my voice, and she stood up offering me her hand. She led me back to the tepee I was in earlier. Once inside she looked at me, placing her hands on either side of my face, similar to how Emma often would. "Running Buck is a good man. He will not harm you. I know you think he did this to save you from a fate his mother suffered but that was not the only reason. I can see it in his eyes, he loves you and if you look deep enough you will find you love him too." She said then she leaned forward and kissed my forehead before exiting.

That was the second person to tell me Buck really loved me. I know it's not true but it's a nice thought. But was I in love with Buck? I love him as a member of my family I know, but is there more there? I don't know. All I know is he will be here in a few minutes and then well I was actually starting to look forward to that part.

Chapter 6 - Buck's POV

I had been dancing around the fire stealing occasional glances in Lou's direction, she was openly watching me. The look on her face said she liked what she saw. I had to smirk at that. The next time I looked in her direction she was gone, scanning the crowd I saw Red Bear's wife Morning Star leading Lou back to the tepee she was in earlier. I knew it wouldn't be long before she came to get me.

I got nervous just thinking about it. I knew Red Bear would have someone near the tepee to make sure we 'danced' and I wanted to 'dance' with Lou more than anything. I wanted to give Lou my love but I also wanted Lou to love me too. I knew she did not and was only doing this to save herself. After tonight I didn't know what was going to happen. I know I would never have Lou again but I prayed to the spirits that I wouldn't lose her as a friend too.

The dance I was doing ended and I moved to stand by my brother to wait for Morning Star to come get me. Red Bear looked over at me, "You are shaking brother… I'm sure she will not harm you." He teased me. I flushed and looked down. Red Bear put his arm around my shoulder and spoke. "I've been watching your woman tonight as you danced. I can see in her eyes that she wants you and if you look deep enough you will see the love she has for you."

I looked over at my brother and realized he knew we had lied to him. "I'm sorry Red Bear for lying about being promised to each other. I did not lie about loving her though."

Red Bear smiled at me, "I know which is why I did not say anything to you about your lie. Your woman loves you too, she just does not know it yet." I just smiled at my brother and didn't argue. I hoped he was right though.

Morning Star approaches me now, "Your woman is ready to be joined with you Running Buck." She says to me, the laughter evident in her eyes. I flush hotly as I move away and head towards the tepee Lou is in.

Outside the lodge I take a deep breath to calm my nerves before I push aside the flap and step inside. I spot Lou on the opposite side of the lodge with her back to me. I see her shoulders shaking as if she's crying. I move silently to her side and gently put a hand to her shoulder. She stiffens under my touch, "Lou honey are you ok?" I ask softly ignoring the pain her reaction caused me. She turns to face me, the tears streaming down her face break my heart. I knew Red Bear was wrong Lou doesn't love me nor did she want me.

"I'm scared Buck." She says in a shaky breath. I swallow hard and put my arms around her in a 'brotherly' hug.

"I know Lou. I know, so am I." I whisper.

Lou cries softly against my chest as I sit holding her, rocking her in a soothing way. I don't know how long I held her like that, but eventually she quit crying, raising her head her eyes met mine. I wasn't sure what I saw in her eyes, but somewhere I thought I saw love, but that could just be my hopeful imagination.

I swallowed hard and lowered my head to claim her mouth with mine. Unlike the kisses I had given her in front of my brother, the ones that were no more than a quick brush of our lips, this one was a real kiss. My heart started racing, my body already responding with my desire for this small woman. I tried to slow down so I would not scare her. I pull back and look down at her again. Her eyes were closed, her cheeks flushed, and her lips were still slightly parted from my kiss.

She slowly opened her eyes, blinking a couple of times to clear her head I guess, she gives me a bashful smile before she reaches up with one hand placing it behind my head and pulling me down to kiss her again. This time I let my love for her to be evident in my kiss. Her hand behind my head started playing in my hair as our kiss deepens. I ran my tongue against her lower lip and she automatically opened her mouth to receive it. I tasted every inch of her mouth, teasing her tongue with my own.

She moaned against my mouth and I pulled back gasping for breath, my eyes searching hers. I read conflicting emotions in her eyes. I didn't know if she was ready to go forward yet. Lou moved to kneel in front of me, she reached towards me to remove my shirt and then she reached up and untied the ties holding her dress up. Standing up she let it fall down to her feet. She reached down and pulled me to my feet, and then she reached towards my waist and undid the ties that held my pants up. She pushed my pants down over my hips letting them drop down to my ankles like her dress.

We stood before each other completely bare. My eyes roved over her body, she was beautiful. Lou looked me up and down, her cheeks flushed. I didn't know if she liked what she saw or not. I hoped she did. I stepped out of my pants and towards Lou, putting one arm behind her back and another behind her knees I lifted her up and carried her bridal style towards our pallet. Laying her down on the soft furs I stretched out next to her and kissed her again. I wanted to tell her I loved her but I couldn't. As long as she didn't know I loved her, she could go on with her life without the guilt. I would just enjoy my night with her, my one night as her husband.

Chapter 7 - Lou's POV

I find myself lying in Buck's warm embrace. He is fast asleep now. I can't sleep; my mind keeps drifting back to just a few hours ago. I had never known sensations like those Buck had given me. He had been so gentle, loving almost. When I had cried out in pain from knowing a man for the first time he had said he was sorry over and over and didn't move again until I encouraged him. Together we moved in a dance that had been choreographed since the beginning of time.

Afterwards we both lay spent clinging to one another, breathing hard. I felt Buck kiss the top of my head just before sleep claimed him. I wished sleep would claim me; I have never been more confused in my life. The way Buck treated me made me think he loves me. The way he kissed me was that of a lover not a brother. Yet he hasn't said he loves me. He told me I could move on with my life find love with someone. Buck is bound to me now in the Kiowa world; if he loved me wouldn't he tell me? Wouldn't he want me to stay with him?

I'm his wife in the Kiowa world; wouldn't he want to be married to me in the white world if he loved me? I guess he doesn't love me that way. I suppose that's a good thing because I don't love him that way either. Right? I don't know I'm so confused. If I didn't love Buck would I have enjoyed our 'dancing' as much as I did? Or am I just a wanton woman? I don't know.

I don't know what's going to happen to us now. Where do we go from here? Do we go back to being just friends? Do we pretend like this never happen? Do we tell the guys what we had to do to save me? What do we do? I don't know. Now that I've known Buck's touch can I just go on like before? Do I want to go on like before? Do I want to just forget what Buck's touch feels like? I don't know. I really don't.

I finally drift off to sleep in Buck's arms, my head on his shoulder and my hand over his heart. Before sleep finally claimed me I placed a soft kiss to his chest over his heart. When I woke the next morning it took me a minute to remember where I was. I became aware of the fact that I was naked being held by a naked man. Then I remembered what happened, Buck rescued me by marrying me in the Kiowa world.

I was nestled against Buck's side. I became aware of Buck nuzzling the top of my head. I shifted so I could look at him; he had a sleepy grin on his face. "Morning sleepyhead." He whispered. I smirked before I leaned down and placed a soft kiss to his lips. "What was that for?" Buck asked his voice sounding strange.

"To say thank you for saving me." I said before I sat up to look for my clothes, I needed to get dressed quickly, the feelings that kissed stirred in me had me scared. I only saw the dress I had worn yesterday, I moved to get it and quickly pulled it on. I tossed Buck's clothes over to him while I stepped outside to see about getting us some breakfast.

Morning Star was waiting for me. She handed me a platter with food on it and gave me a wink before she pushed me back towards the tepee I just left. Stepping inside just in time to see Buck pulling up his pants. I blushed when I saw him, 'all' of him; he looked over at me, a blush on his face as well. I sat down with the platter of food while he finished dressing and joined me.

After we finished eating we stepped outside the tepee. Red Bear walked over to us leading our horses to us already packed. "Your things already are packed in your saddlebags brother." Red Bear said to Buck. The two brothers embraced and then Red Bear stepped in front of me and wrapped me in a brotherly embrace. "Remember what I told you little one, look inside you will see the truth." He said to me before he released me.

Lightning had been loaded down with our supplies so Buck helped me mount Spirit then mounted behind me. With a last goodbye to his family we rode out of the Kiowa village and towards Sweetwater. "We should be there by supper if we hurry." Buck said in my ear, his breath disturbing my hair. All I had to do was turn my head and I could kiss him; I just nodded, sort of dreading our return.

Meanwhile back in Sweetwater Teaspoon had to deal with the rest of the riders. When Ike had ridden in late yesterday afternoon and told them what happened they all had wanted to ride out to rescue Lou. Only Teaspoon had been able to stop them. He told them Buck would take care of Lou, they just had to trust him and pray. Buck would bring Lou back safely. So the boys had stayed.

But when they still had not shown up by lunch time they were getting frantic again. "Teaspoon maybe one of us should go see if we can see what's going on." Kid said.

"Now Kid, I know you're worried about Lou, we all are but if we go riding in we could start a war and Buck and Lou could be killed. You've got to give Buck more time. Remember he said two days, it's barely been one." Teaspoon said putting his arm around Kid's shoulders in a comforting way.

Kid hung his head in defeat, knowing Teaspoon was right. Ike still felt guilty for leaving Lou and he was worried for Buck. What if Red Bear had him punished for coming back? What if he hadn't been able to save Lou? What if he had been too late? What would he have to go through to save Lou? Ike remembered what Buck went through to save him. He didn't want him to have to go through it again.

The day slowly dragged on as the boys did their chores and went on rides. When supper time rolled around it found the whole family together minus Buck and Lou. They all were exhausted from working hard to keep their minds off of their friends. As they were heading to the bunkhouse they heard Rachel's voice call out the familiar call of 'rider coming'. As one they turned and watched the two horses approach. At first glance all they could see was only one horse had a rider but when they looked closer they realized that there were two people on the horse and those two people were Buck and Lou.

Buck's POV

I watched as our family ran towards us. I stopped Spirit right in front of the bunkhouse and slid from her back. Then I reached up and helped Lou from the saddle. Rachel immediately wrapped her arms around Lou before Teaspoon took over. Rachel then turned to me and hugged me tight. All the guys took turns welcoming us home.

"Well you two don't look any worse for wear so let's eat." Cody said moving back towards the bunkhouse, we all laughed.

"That sure is a pretty dress Lou." Kid said his eyes roving over the beautiful picture she made. I felt like a knife had been twisted in my gut when Lou looked back at him and blushed bashfully.

I caught Teaspoon's eye. He had been looking at what we both were wearing. We had been forced to wear the outfits we had married in home. Teaspoon arched an eyebrow at me; I just shook my head to tell him not to say anything. I knew I would tell him more later. I knew he knew what I had done. I knew he knew we had been married in an Indian ceremony to save Lou. What I didn't know was if he knew that I really loved Lou. I did know he wouldn't say anything in front of the guys.

We had decided on the way back not to say anything to the guys. They didn't need to know that part. We decided we would just tell them that we had lied to Red Bear and said we were promised to each other and that Red Bear had believed us so he let Lou leave with me this morning after we spent the night celebrating our 'engagement' with a feast and dancing.

They didn't need to know the rest. They needed to believe Lou was free to love someone else if she was going to find happiness and love. They didn't need to know I was bound to her and always would be. They didn't need to know I love Lou. I wished I could tell Lou though. I wish I could tell her that I didn't want her to find someone else. I wished she would love me. I wish she would choose me. I know that will never happen though. Lou deserves better than a breed. She deserves someone like Kid. Someone who was loyal, honest, hardworking, and socially acceptable.

Shaking my head to clear my thoughts I followed my family into the bunkhouse for supper. Ike and Noah taking the horses to the barn to take care of them. When they joined us a few minutes later, we were forced to tell the story we had decided on. They seemed to believe us; well the guys did at least. I knew Teaspoon knew the truth and if I'd wager a guess I would bet Rachel suspected we weren't telling the whole story. It didn't matter, the guys bought it and that's all that mattered.

Chapter 8 - Lou's POV

"Teaspoon do me and Ike need to leave out in the morning for Laramie?" I asked after we told our story to the boys.

"Naw Lou, by the time you get there the opportunity will have passed. I've done told the army so they know the plan failed." Teaspoon said leaning back in his chair eyeing me.

"I'm sorry." I mumbled thinking it was all my fault.

"It ain't your fault girl. These things happen, I'm just glad Buck was able to bring you home safe." Teaspoon said looking at the two of us. His statement was followed by a bunch of 'me too' from the rest of the guys.

After supper Ike pulled me aside. "I'm sorry I left you Lou." He signed hanging his head.

I put my hand on his shoulder to make him look at me. "Don't be Ike; we both would have been captured if you hadn't. You did what you had to do, you got Buck." I told him truly meaning it.

"They didn't hurt you did they?" Ike signed in concern.

I smiled at him, "No they didn't hurt me. But if Buck hadn't shown up when he did things could have gone a lot worse." I shuddered to think what would have happened. Ike pulled me into his arms and gave me a brotherly hug after which he went over to his bunk.

I got a change of clothes and went outside to the water closet to get cleaned up and out of this dress. Although I really liked how it looked on me and how it felt to wear it. I think I will keep it for a special occasion or something. When I came back inside most of the guys were already in their bunks. Buck had just started getting ready for bed.

I climbed up in my bunk and snuck peeks at him while he was changing. At one point he caught my eye and winked. I flushed bright red and rolled over on my side facing away from him. What is wrong with me? I can't be looking at Buck like that. We have to pretend like nothing happened. It's just Buck, remember its just Buck Lou. Then why do I still want him? God what is wrong with me? Buck only did it to save me; he doesn't love me like that. I have to just forget about it. I don't love Buck like that either.

I rolled back over on my other side and looked around the bunkhouse. The boys were all asleep, all except one and he was looking right at me. The look in his eyes brought back those butterflies and the desire I had felt for him last night. I really need to talk to Rachel about what happened maybe she can give me some advice. I give Buck a soft smile before I rolled onto my back and closed my eyes.

When I woke the next morning it was with a smile on my face. I opened my eyes to see Kid standing by my bunk looking at me. I jumped back in surprise. "Jesus Kid! You trying to give me a heart attack." I exclaimed my heart beating frantically.

"Sorry Lou, you're just so pretty when you sleep. You looked like you were having a good dream." Kid said smiling at me.

"Yeah I was." I said looking over Kid's shoulder to see Buck watching me.

"What were you dreaming about?" Kid asked.

"Well that's kind of personal Kid." I said blushing, wishing he would just drop it.

"Maybe I should ask who you were dreaming about then." Kid teased.

I blushed hotly before making eye contact with Buck. He looked confused for a minute before a smirk spread across his face. He knew I was dreaming about him.

"So are you going to tell me Lou?" Kid asked dragging my attention back to him.

"Nope." I said hopping down from my bunk to get dressed. I could hear Buck snicker at Kid. Kid just looked perplexed before shrugging his shoulders and going outside.

I looked back over at Buck who was sitting at the table with Ike. Yes I really needed to talk to Rachel. I planned to do it after breakfast but I didn't get a chance since I had a ride. While I was saddling Lightning Buck was in the barn mucking stalls. "You don't got any bad feelings about this ride do you Buck?" I asked over my shoulder.

Buck chuckled, "No, I think you'll be fine on this run." He replied with a grin.

"Good, cause I don't think I could handle another run like the last one." I said with a grin. Buck didn't respond.

When I looked back over at him he looked troubled. "Buck are you alright?" I asked in concern.

He looked up at me and gave me a smile that didn't reach his eyes. "Yes I'm fine really." Buck said.

I knew he wasn't telling me the truth but I had learned that Buck would talk when he was ready too not before. I led Lightning from the barn and mounted up when I heard the call of 'rider coming'. As I was racing away I heard Buck shout 'ride safe Lou'. Maybe when I get back things will be back to normal.

Buck's POV

After Lou left for her run, I rode into town to talk to Teaspoon. As soon as I walked into the marshal's office Teaspoon looked up at me and smiled. "I was wondering if you were going to come tell me what really happened." Just like Teaspoon straight to the point. I gave a half laugh as I poured myself some coffee and sat down.

"Well what do you think happened Teaspoon?" I asked wondering if I was right in thinking he knew.

"I think that your brother made you marry Lou." Teaspoon said with a grin.

"Well you would be right. He didn't buy that we were promised but the major problem was Lou had impressed a lot of his warriors and they wanted her for themselves." I told Teaspoon.

"If he didn't believe that you two were promised why did he make ya'll marry? Did you have to fight for her?" Teaspoon asked trying to get to the bottom of it.

"No. I would have had to if she hadn't agreed to marry me." I said hoping he would just leave it at that.

"So why did Red Bear let you marry her without winning her?" Teaspoon asked. I should have known Teaspoon wouldn't let it go.

I let out a long sigh, "Because he knew I told him the truth when I said I loved her."

Teaspoon laughed. "That's what I thought. So why then did ya'll not tell the boys the truth?" I shook my head; I should have known Teaspoon knew that I love Lou.

"Because Lou doesn't know that I was telling the truth when I said I loved her and because she doesn't love me. As long as the guys don't know, Lou can find someone else to love." I explained in a rush.

"But you will always be married to Lou in the Kiowa world won't you Buck?" Teaspoon asked. I blushed knowing what he was getting at.

"Yes." Was the only answer I could give him.

"And you're ok with that?" He asked looking at me thoughtfully.

"Yes… No not really." I answered getting up and starting to pace. "I love her Teaspoon and I want her to stay with me. But I want it be her choice not because she feels obligated to me. Besides Lou deserves better than a breed."

"Now I don't want to hear talk like that Buck. Out of all my boys I think you would make Lou the best husband." Teaspoon said getting up and putting a hand on my shoulder to stop my pacing.

"You wouldn't over protect her and try to change her like Kid. You also wouldn't let her do whatever gets into her head like Jimmy. You would keep just a tight enough hold to keep her safe." Teaspoon told me while looking me in the eye.

"But what about Cody or Ike?" I asked, thinking they would be better choices than me.

Teaspoon laughed. "Cody is a womanizer Buck. He has a new lady love every week. How long do you think he could stay faithful to Lou? And Ike, Ike's a good man, same as you but I have a feeling he knows how you feel about Lou and he would never go after her because of that."

"What should I do Teaspoon?" I asked sitting back down and putting my head in my hands.

"Be there for her when she needs you. Keep doing what you have always done, show her you love her through your actions if not your words. My guess is she feels the same for you, she just is confused right now." Teaspoon said sitting back down in his chair.

I looked back up at him and laughed, "Funny Red Bear said almost the exact same thing."

"Well then you should believe him. And you better get back to the station; you've got chores to do." Teaspoon said with a wink at me.

I got up and moved towards the door but turn back before leaving to say, "Thanks Teaspoon." With that I left and headed back to the station.

Chapter 9 - Lou's POV

When I rode into the yard returning from my run Buck was there waiting on me to take Lightning's reins. "I'll take care of him for you Lou." Buck said with a smile.

"Thanks Buck." I answered with a grin.

I watched him lead my horse away before I turned to go in the bunkhouse. Rachel was just finishing lunch so I had time to get cleaned up first. Grabbing my towel and a change of clothes I went to get cleaned up.

When I came back in the bunkhouse the guys were already at the table, leaving the only empty spot next to Buck. I slid into my seat and started filling my plate. While I was eating I felt something bump my leg. I looked down to see Buck handing me a daisy under the table. I took it from him with a bashful smile. I knew I was blushing but fortunately the guys were too busy eating to notice.

When nobody was looking I brought it to my noise to smell it. I don't know how Buck knew daisies were my favorite flowers. I laid the flower next to my plate, a smile permanently etched on my face. I caught Rachel watching me with a sly smile. After everybody finished eating I helped Rachel carry the dishes back to the main house and offered to help wash them so I could talk to her.

She seemed to know that's what I wanted because when Buck offered to help too she told him us girls could handle it. I giggled at the expression on his face when Rachel told him that. He looked so disappointed. Maybe Red Bear and Morning Star were right.

While we washed the dishes I told Rachel the whole story, not leaving out any of the details. "So what do you think Rachel? Do you think Red Bear and Morning Star were right when they said Buck really loves me?" I asked after I finished my tale.

"I don't know Lou. But what about how you feel about Buck, do you love him or is he just a friend and brother?" Rachel responded her forehead wrinkling in concentration.

I sighed and shook my head, "I don't know Rachel. I'm so confused by my reaction to 'dancing' with him. Maybe I love him or maybe I just enjoy 'dancing' doesn't matter who with. I don't know."

Rachel gave me a sympathetic look. "Well until you know for sure you shouldn't 'dance' with anybody again. Give it time. If you really love him you'll know in time and if he truly loves you it will come out eventually. He can't guard his heart forever." Rachel told me as we sat on the porch drinking lemonade.

"So I just need to go on like before, being friends and if we really do have feelings for each other they will come out in time." I said to make sure I understood what she was telling me to do.

"That's my opinion. Just give it time besides aren't you and Kid kind of together." Rachel said taking a sip of her drink.

"Yeah and I do like Kid, so maybe it's just that the past couple of days have been rather emotional and stressful. Things will probably be back to normal in a few days." I replied.

"Maybe" was all Rachel said.

I felt better after talking to Rachel. I was still confused about my feelings for Buck but I think Rachel is right. If he truly loves me it will come out eventually. And if I love him, I will be sure of that when the time is right. I just have to go on like nothing has happened between us. Just like we said, we go back to being just friends.

Things pretty much went back to normal after a few days. Well almost, I noticed Buck more and more. I noticed all the little things he would do for me. Things he had always done for me, like always taking care of my horse when I got back from a run, taking the reins and tying them to the hitching post when we went into town, shoeing Lightning for me, helping me do my chores after he finished his own, things like that. But that's not all he was doing, every day I would find a single flower either on my pillow, beside my plate, or someplace where I would be sure to be the first to find it. I knew they were from Buck but he never said anything.

I knew he was telling me he loved me without actually coming out and saying it. I however was still unsure of my feelings for Buck. Plus I was still seeing Kid. I felt slightly guilty about that but Buck had told me I would be free to find love with someone else. He had never said he didn't love me but he had to know I would think he had been lying to Red Bear. Why would he not have told me he really loves me? Why is he ok with me going on like nothing happened between us? Maybe I'm misreading the signs. I don't know but this has been going on for two months now and I'm not any closer to understanding my feelings. Not only that but Kid has been pushing me to progress our relationship, maybe I should. Maybe then I can figure out my feelings.

Buck's POV

Things had been going on like before, I kept doing what I had always done. The flowers were just an added touch to get my message across. I know Lou has figured out that I'm in love with her, but I also know she is still confused by her own feelings and over the fact I haven't said anything about her continued relationship with Kid. Seeing her with Kid is driving me crazy but I want Lou to choose to be with me. I don't want her to feel obligated to be with me.

But now Rachel just walked out of the main house and told Kid and Lou that there is a special package that needs to be delivered that will require an overnight stay. I saw Rachel slip a bundle to Lou that I know has nothing to do with the delivery. I watch Jimmy walk up to Rachel and tell her that the overnighter was supposed to be his and Ike's. But Rachel tells him that Kid asked for this run specially and for Lou to go with him.

I know what Kid is planning and I'm furious about it. But it's my own damn fault. I should have come right out and told Lou from the beginning that I love her. I should have told the guys we were married in the Kiowa world. I bolted off of the porch and stormed into the barn to saddle Spirit. I needed to go pray to the spirits to clear my head.

I caught Lou looking over at me when I entered the barn but she never said a word. I rode out before they did and did not return to the bunkhouse until much later that night after the others had gone to bed. Even after my prayers my heart was still not at peace. I knew it wouldn't be until Lou came back and I found out if Kid got what he wanted from her.

It was going to be a long night and a long day tomorrow waiting for their return. Fortunately I don't have a run scheduled for tomorrow so I should be here whenever they get back in. And whatever happens I just have to live with it. I have to be here for Lou no matter what. Even if it's tearing my heart apart. Even if she marries Kid, I have to be here for her in case she ever needs me. No matter what, no matter if it's killing me. I just want Lou to be happy.

Chapter 10 - Lou's POV

The day had been going so well. I had been sitting on the bunkhouse porch with the guys just watching Ike and Buck playing checkers, well watching Buck really and daydreaming about things that I had no business daydreaming about while I was still with Kid. Then everything changed when Rachel came out and told me and Kid she had a special package that needed to be delivered. A delivery that would require an overnight stay, she was sending us on it.

I knew Jimmy and Ike were on the schedule for the next overnighter so I knew Kid had set this up. When Rachel slipped me a bundle and told me it was for later. I knew she meant for when I was alone with Kid at night. I wasn't sure I liked this but it was my job so I went to the barn to saddle Lightning and tried to ignore Kid.

Buck stormed in a few minutes later and saddled Spirit. I caught his eye once but he never said a word. I could see in his face he knew what Kid had planned and he didn't like it. The look in his eyes about broke my heart but he never said anything. He rode out before I finished saddling Lightning. I felt a single tear roll down my cheek but I quickly brushed it away.

I led Lightning from the barn and tied him outside the bunkhouse before I went in to get my things. On the way out I saw Rachel wearing a sly smile; I wondered what was going through her head. We mounted up and rode out. Kid kept up a one sided conversation the entire trip with just an occasional one word response from me. I couldn't concentrate on Kid, my mind kept drifting back to Buck.

I knew Buck was in love with me but I was still unsure of my feelings for him. I hated the look of hurt that was in his eyes before he rode out on Spirit. I prayed that I could figure out my feelings soon. We arrived at our destination shortly before supper. I delivered the package and took the horses to the livery, while Kid went to get our rooms. I should have known he would only get one but I had hoped he would get two, I wasn't sure I was ready for our relationship to go there.

After getting cleaned up we went to have dinner. Kid was upset that I hadn't brought my dress with me so it just looked like two male friends having dinner instead of a couple on a date. I don't know why I didn't pack it. It had become my habit to pack my dress whenever I was going to be gone overnight. It was my one chance to feel like a girl, but for some reason I hadn't even thought about it.

After supper we returned to our room to get ready for bed. We would be leaving early in the morning. I debated whether or not to open the bundle Rachel sent but I finally decided I might as well. What I found was a rather flimsy nightshift. After a few minutes hesitation I slipped it on and came out from behind the changing screen. Kid was sitting on the edge of the bed in just his pants. He had already removed his shoes and shirt.

I swallowed nervously as I moved towards him. He stood up and pulled me into his arms. He kissed me roughly and then started trailing kisses down my jaw and neck. I just stood perfectly still waiting for those feelings I had felt when Buck had done the same thing. They never came. Kid used his body to push me against the bed, the back of my legs came into contact and then I fell backwards on to it. Kid moved on top of me still kissing me. One of his hands moved up my leg pulling the hem of my nightshift up.

I still felt none of the desire I knew I should be feeling. When I felt Kid's hand on my bare hip, I started to panic. I pushed against his chest forcing him away. Tears running down my cheeks. "Lou what's wrong?" Kid asked breathing hard.

"I'm sorry Kid. I can't do this." I cried.

"What do you mean you can't do this? You dress in that nightgown and tease me then you stop." Kid said getting angry.

"Kid I'm sorry, I thought I could but this just doesn't feel right I can't do it." I said the tears flowing harder.

Kid sat up and began pulling his boots back on and then grabbing his shirt he stuffed his arms in the sleeves before he started buttoning it. "Where are you going Kid?" I asked.

"The saloon, I need a drink before I do something stupid." Kid muttered standing up.

"I am sorry Kid." I said again.

Kid looked at me helplessly, "it's me that should apologize Lou. I've been trying to push you into doing something you aren't ready for. I knew you were having doubts but I thought you would get over them. But that's not the whole truth is it Lou?" Kid asked sitting back down.

I hung my head and cried. "No. I've had my doubts about how I feel for you and for Buck." I answered honestly.

Kid looked up at me sharply, "Buck? What the hell does he have to do with us." He demanded.

I swallowed hard. "Kid I think it's time you heard the whole story. When Buck rescued me from the Kiowa, Red Bear didn't just let me go because we told him we were promised to each other. He made us marry first and we had to consummate it. We decided not to tell anybody because Buck wanted me to be able to find love with someone else. It wasn't a legally binding ceremony in the white world but it is to Buck. He's bound to me Kid." I explained.

"So you just feel guilty then, like you're cheating on him or something. You shouldn't, he just did it to save you, and he told you you're free to find love with someone else." Kid said putting his hand on my knee.

"That's not entirely true Kid. I've learned since then that the reason Red Bear allowed us to marry instead of Buck having to fight for me is because Buck told the truth when he said he loved me. And Kid I think I'm in love with him too." I whispered.

Kid looked over at me, "you don't know for sure?"

"No, I've been so confused by the whole situation but just now when we were you know, I kept waiting for those same feelings and desires that I had felt in Buck's arms, they never came Kid. I don't know what that means, but I think it means that I'm in love with him." I said wiping the tears from my face.

Kid hung his head for a minute before he got up and moved to the door. Before he left he said, "I'll leave you to think. I'll be in the saloon if you need me."

"I am sorry Kid." I said one last time.

"It's ok Lou." Kid said before he left the room.

I crawled underneath the covers and cried myself to sleep. I never heard Kid come back into the room but when I woke the next morning I saw him asleep on his bedroll on the other side of the room. I quickly dressed and then woke him up. After we had breakfast we headed back home. I still had a lot of thinking to do.

Chapter 11 - Buck's POV

I was helping Ike muck out stalls when the cry of 'rider coming' sounded. I dropped what I was doing to race out of the barn to watch the approaching riders. I noticed the distance between the two riders and the look on Kid's face right away. I felt a grin split my face when I realized Kid's trip didn't go as he hoped. I tried to catch Lou's eyes but she avoided looking at me. That caused the grin to fade; maybe I was wrong in my assumption.

I walked over and took Lightning's reins from her. "I'll take care of him for you Lou." I said softly keeping my eyes on the ground.

I felt Lou kiss my cheek, "Thanks Buck." I looked back up but she was already walking away. I led Lightning to the barn not even realizing Kid and Jimmy were following me until we were in the barn.

"So how did it go Kid?" Jimmy asked in a teasing voice. I tried to block out the conversation but I couldn't.

"I don't want to talk about it Jimmy." Kid said angrily.

"Oh come on Kid, I'd tell you." Jimmy pouted.

"There ain't anything to tell Jimmy!" Kid yelled.

"You mean you two didn't 'dance'?" Jimmy asked.

I couldn't help but look up at Kid waiting his response. Kid was looking right back at me. His answer was to Jimmy's question but I knew it was meant for me. "No Jimmy we did not 'dance'. I tried but Lou pushed me away. She said it didn't feel right because she thinks she's in love with someone else."

I felt a smile on my lips that I tried to hide; I gave a nod to Kid and went back to my work. "Gees I'm sorry Kid. But at least you found out before you moved too far with your relationship." Jimmy said before he left me and Kid in the barn. I don't know when but Ike had slipped out at some point too.

Kid came up to me, "She told me the whole story Buck. I just have one question. Do you really love her?"

I looked over at Kid and smiled, "Yes, more than anything. That's why I told her she was free to find someone else. She deserves better than a breed. I just want her to be happy Kid."

Kid smiled and put a hand on my shoulder, "I think you are what she needs to be happy Buck. Just give her some more time. I think she's still confused by her feelings for you. You might want to come out and tell her you love her though."

I smiled as I watched Kid leave me alone in the barn with my thoughts. That night as we all were lying in our bunks to go to sleep. I caught Lou watching me, after looking quickly around to see if anybody was watching I signed, "I love you Lou." Her eyes got huge, a smile on her lips, even in the dark I could see her blush. She buried her face in her pillow and I heard a muffled giggle. I grinned at her reaction.

"What's so funny over there Lou?" Cody asked.

"None of your business Cody." She said shooting me a wink. I rolled onto my back with a smile and went to sleep.

Lou's POV

It has been a month since the first time Buck told me he loved me by signing it to me before he went to sleep. It's become his nightly ritual. I've finally figured out my own feelings for him. I am deeply in love with Buck and can't wait to tell him. But he's gone on a two day run with Ike and I'm leaving for Blue Creek this afternoon. I won't be back until the day after Buck is due back. Normally a Blue Creek run wouldn't take that long but I have personal business to take care of.

I pack my dress in my saddle bags, when I saw the white doeskin dress I thought of packing it instead but I decided against it. Then my eye caught on the chocker Red Bear had given me and without a second thought I put it on. Then I went out to get Lightning. Noah had him already saddled for me. His eyes caught on the chocker, his lips twitching when he saw it. I ignored him and mounted up.

After Kid passed me the pouch I raced away towards Blue Creek. Once I passed on the pouch I went to check into the hotel and got a nice warm bath. After my bath I dressed in my dress and went to have supper. While I was eating a strange man came over and sat at my table. I glanced up at him to ask what he thought he was doing.

"I'm sorry to disturb you ma'am, I just couldn't help but notice the necklace you are wearing. I was wondering where you came to get it. It's Kiowa if I'm not mistaken." The man said indicating my chocker.

I swallowed the bite of food I was chewing and wiped my mouth with my napkin before answering. "Yes it is Kiowa. It was given to me as a wedding present when I married my husband." I answered truthfully.

The man looked at my finger and saw no ring. "Am I to assume that your husband is an Indian and it was an Indian ceremony?" He asked.

I cut a glare at him thinking he was judging me, "Not that's any of your business but yes. My husband is half Kiowa. He rides for the pony express."

The man paused for a minute a genuine smile spreading over his face. "You're Little White Doe." The man said in awe.

"Excuse me?" I asked confused.

"Oh I am sorry; I don't know what your white name is. You're Running Buck's wife, his brother Red Bear told me about his marriage to Little White Doe. That is you is it not?" the man asked.

I stared in shock for a minute then grinned. "I guess it is. I didn't know I had been given an Indian name. My name is Louise Cross and you are?"

"Forgive my poor manners. The name is Samuel Matthews. My wife is Singing Bird, she is Running Buck's cousin." He told me.

"Oh, I see, well it's very nice to meet you." I said shaking his hand. We spent the remainder of the evening talking until I excused myself and went to my room. I told Mr. Matthews to tell Red Bear he had been right and I had looked deep enough. I told him Red Bear would know what I had meant. I smiled thinking about it.

The next morning I dressed in my dress again and went to take care of the business that had required my overnight stay. As I sat there on the table, I watched the doctor come up to me and ask, "So now Mrs. Cross what brings you by today?"

I smiled tentatively and said, "I need you to confirm my pregnancy."

After the doctor finished the exam he said, "Well congratulations Mrs. Cross you are about three months along. I'm sure your husband will be thrilled."

I smiled and sat there dumbstruck. I wasn't exactly sure what Buck's reaction was going to be. I still couldn't believe I had gotten pregnant the one and only time I had 'danced' with someone. I thanked the doctor and paid him. After I left his office I went back to the hotel and change back into my boy clothes. Then I went and got Lightning to return home.

When I rode into the yard Buck was there waiting on me to take care of my horse like usual. I gave him a kiss on the cheek which had become a habit of mine. His eyes caught on the chocker, he arched an eyebrow at me but I just smirked and didn't say anything. I went into the bunkhouse and got out the doeskin dress and moccasins. Then I raced into the main house before anybody saw me with them.

Rachel looked up when I came in. "Rachel I need your help. I need to talk to Buck alone without anyone interrupting." I said breathing hard from my sprint.

Rachel just smiled. "So you finally figured it out huh?" she teased and I blushed and just nodded. She caught sight of the dress in my hand and the chocker I was wearing, her smile got bigger. "Well let me get you a bath and then when you are ready I will go and get Buck."

Chapter 12 - Lou's POV

About an hour later I was clean and dressed in the doeskin dress and matching moccasins. I was waiting upstairs for Buck when I heard him come in the front door and call out to me. I took a deep breath and walked down the stairs. My eyes met Buck's when he looked up at me, His mouth parting in surprise at my appearance. When I reached the bottom of the stairs and stood before him Buck said, "You look beautiful," In a husky sounding voice. I smiled as I slipped into his arms and stood on my tiptoes to kiss him. Buck pulled back to look at me sharply.

I smiled and said what I should have told him weeks ago. "I love you Buck."

Buck grinned before he tightened his hold on me and kissed me with a passion I wasn't expecting but equally returned. Those butterflies were back with a vengeance, the desire I felt tenfold. This was right.

Buck pulled away breathless, "I love you too Lou. I have since the first time I saw you in a dress coming down those very stairs. I should have told you before we married but I wanted you to choose me, not to stay because you felt obligated too."

I kissed him again. "I choose you Buck; I wanted to tell you a few days ago. But there is something else I have to tell you. I don't know how you feel about kids but I hope you want them because I'm three months pregnant." I said in a near whisper, looking down at the floor.

Buck took one of his fingers and tilted my chin up to meet his eyes. "We made a baby that one time?" he asked. All I could do was nod yes. Buck let out a little whoop of joy before he crushed me in his embrace and kissed me deeply. When we broke apart we were both gasping for breath.

"I take it you're happy then." I teased. Buck's smile was all the answer I needed.

The next thing I knew I was being carried up the stairs and into the spare bedroom where we 'danced'. Knowing we loved each other made it even better than our first time. Afterwards as I lay in Buck's embrace I felt perfectly happy. I was no longer confused. I knew I was madly in love with Buck and he with me.

"Lou?" Buck whispered.

"Hmmm?" I mumbled.

"Will you be my wife in the white world too?" Buck asked.

I had just about fallen asleep but with that question my eyes shoot open. I rolled over so I could look in Buck's face. "Did you just ask me to marry you?" I asked in shock.

Buck grinned sheepishly, "Yeah I guess I didn't do a very good job of it."

"I would love too." I whispered before I pressed my mouth to his. I could feel Buck's answering smile before he rolled me onto my back and we made love once more.

Afterwards we dressed quickly and slipped out of the house and headed towards the bunkhouse holding hands. When we entered we saw the rest of our family just sitting down to supper. They looked up at us noting our clasped hands and the dress I was wearing. Rachel and Teaspoon shared a grin. Kid smiled softly and Ike had a huge grin on his face. Jimmy, Cody, and Noah looked slightly confused. We blushed and slipped onto the bench next to Ike.

"You two have something you want to share with us?" Teaspoon asked with an arching of his eyebrow. I blushed but it was Buck who answered. He quickly told them the whole story about what had happened with the Kiowa, then to what happened in the main house without giving any details.

When he had finished speaking all the guys had huge eyes, their mouths hanging slightly open in shock. Noah recovered first and offered congratulations on the marriage, baby, and the upcoming wedding. The others followed suit. The next day we sent a message to Sam and Emma to tell them our news and invite them to the wedding.

A month later found our whole family together, including Sam and Emma to celebrate our wedding. Teaspoon performed the ceremony and I had Sam walk me down the aisle. Emma and Rachel stood with me and Ike and Noah with Buck. After the ceremony Emma surprised me and Buck with the deed to her house and land as a wedding present. With the end of the express just around the corner we all decided to pool our money and turn the station into a horse ranch. Since the land was ours the guys thought our name should be in the ranch's name. We decided to call it the Cross PX Ranch.

The boys worked hard getting the ranch started; they wouldn't let me do much with the baby on the way. But after just a few short months it was already doing well and had a reputation for having the best horse flesh in the territory. Then the day came for me to deliver. I screamed bloody murder and called Buck every name under the sun. I even threaten to castrate him if he ever came near me again. And then it was over and I was holding the most beautiful baby girl in the world.

When Buck came in the room he looked terrified. I gave him a brilliant smile, "We have a beautiful daughter Buck." I said. He moved closer and sat next to me on the bed. He didn't dare touch me. I looked over at him and kissed his lips, "I love you Buck." He smiled relieved I hadn't meant any of the things I had said while I was in labor. I passed our baby over to him and saw the tears in his eyes. Buck held her while Rachel helped me change into a clean gown and changed the sheets. When everything was cleaned up she let the rest of our family in to see the newest member. Her 'uncles' fell head over heels for her at first sight and her grandpa looked as proud as he could be.

"What's her name?" Teaspoon asked.

I looked over at Buck and our baby and nodded. Buck smiled as he held her up and named her 'Emma Wild Daisy Cross'. As I watched my family I thought back to Red Bear's words and realized how right he had been.

The End

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