Author's Note: Was inspired by Peanut's story moving on. Decided to take the challenge of writing what happened next. I hope I did it justice.
It had been three years since Louise McCloud had left Rock Creek in an attempt to make a life for herself. The Express had ended and everybody had gone their separate ways.
Noah and Ike were gone; both had been killed protecting women. Ike the woman he loved a few months before the Express ended. Noah just shortly before the end protecting a woman hell bent on avenging her husband's death.
Cody had joined the army as a scout. Jesse had run off with his brother Frank after Noah was killed. Jimmy, well Louise wasn't exactly sure what Jimmy's plans had been when she had left. Buck had stayed on as Teaspoon's deputy. Teaspoon and Rachel had married.
And Kid, well Kid had left to go fight in the war just weeks before they were supposed to get married. All of Louise's plans and dreams had been shattered. Teaspoon and Rachel told Lou to go get her brother and sister and bring them back home with her. After arguing against it, she had gone only to find out they had been adopted by a nice family. Everything she had worked for, given up everything for was gone.
Then the letter came from Kid, and she knew it was time to move on. She had to make a place for herself and that meant leaving what family remained behind. Buck had offered to come with her and keep her company and if truth be told Lou had been tempted to take him up on that offer, but this was something she had to do on her own.
It's taken three years but she's finally made a place for herself. She's made it all the way to Oregon. She has a home, a place to call her own, but she has no one to share it with. She misses her family.
Louise would write 'home' whenever she was in one place for any length of time just to let them know she was ok, but she never gave them many details about her life. There wasn't anything to tell. Sometime she wonders if she made the right choice moving on, alone. Now that she has a place to call her own she has more to write about, but she's still alone. She doesn't want to be alone anymore.
"So you are really going to go?" Teaspoon asked his young deputy.
"Yeah, I think it's time for me to move on. Besides she needs to know she doesn't have to be alone no more." Buck replied to his friend, mentor, and father.
"I wondered how long you would wait to go after her." Jimmy said as he helped Buck tie a bundle to his horse.
Buck looked over at Jimmy and grinned. "I had to let her move on; she needed to prove something to herself."
"And you think she has done that?" Jimmy asked.
"Yes, I know she has. I know she's ready to really move on now." Buck said with a lopsided grin.
"You treat her right Buck or you'll answer to me." Jimmy said giving Buck an evil eye that he couldn't maintain.
"Stay out of trouble Hickok." Buck said giving his friend a brotherly hug before turning to Teaspoon. "I'll write when I get there and let you know I'm alright."
Teaspoon drew the boy that he had come to think of as his own son into a bone crushing hug. "You take care of yourself Buck and give Louise my love."
"I will Teaspoon." Buck said returned Teaspoon's hug. He looked to Rachel and smiled. "You keep him out of trouble Rachel."
"I'll try" Rachel replied with a teasing look at Teaspoon. "It won't be the same around here without ya Buck. Take care of yourself and Lou." Rachel said throwing her arms around Buck and crying against his shoulder.
Buck held onto the woman who had come to mean so much to him and all the riders. While Emma had been a mother to them, Rachel had been more like a big sister and best friend. He was going to miss her.
"Goodbye Rachel." Buck said softly before pushing her away and mounting his horse. With one last look at his family Buck rode off in the direction of Oregon and the woman who had held his heart for almost five years.
"Miss McCloud you don't seem to understand what I'm trying to tell you." Greg Miller was saying but Lou silenced him with a single look.
"Mr. Miller, I have told you a thousand times, I don't want or need your help running my homestead. I am perfectly capable to handle it on my own." Louise said with a glare at the arrogant man who dared tell her that she needed a man.
"Now, Now Miss McCloud I wasn't trying to insinuate that you weren't capable. I was just trying to say it's not safe for a woman to live out here all alone. You should have a man around for protection if nothing else." Greg said trying to soothe the angry little woman.
Louise turned on him, her eyes blazing. "Get off my property now! Or I will show how little I need a man to protect me." Lou said her tone icy.
Greg just stood there for a moment in shock. He had never heard her speak like that and the way she looked at him, it was downright spooky. "Very well, but I will be back after you cool down."
Louise watched him going still glowering at his retreating form. "The stupid, arrogant pig. Who the hell does he think he is?" Lou muttered to herself before turning her attention back to the laundry she had been hanging out before Mr. Miller had shown up unannounced and most assuredly uninvited.
She had just finished hanging out the last of her laundry when she heard the sound of a horse approaching. "That man have better not be coming back here if he knows what's good for him." She mumbled before going inside to get her shotgun. If Mr. Miller had a death wish she would be happy to oblige.
When she heard the rider come to a stop just outside her fence Louise walked out gun held ready and aimed at the visitor, "I thought I told you to go away." Lou said her voice deadly sounding.
The rider who had his back to Louise grinned as he turned, "Well now Lou is that anyway to treat an old friend?" Buck asked with an amused expression and an arching of his eyebrow.
Lou let the gun drop as she flew off the porch and into Buck's waiting arms. "Oh my God Buck! What are you doing here?" She cried hugging him tightly.
Buck laughed as he held her too him, "What do you think I'm doing here? I came to see you."
Lou pulled back so she could see his face. He hadn't changed at all in the three years since she last seen him. "You look great Buck. Rachel's kept you feed I see." Lou said with a teasing light to her eyes.
"Well without Cody around I actually got to have seconds." Buck said with a laugh. Lou snickered.
"Come on inside." Lou said pulling on his arm. She stopped at the porch and picked up her shotgun.
"I take it you've been having trouble?" Buck said with a nod to the weapon.
"Not really, just a very unwanted self-proclaimed suitor that won't take no for an answer." Lou said rolling her eyes.
Buck smirked. "Any wanted suitor's I need to know about." He asked with an emotion in his voice that had Lou blushing.
"I hope so." She said softly, so softly that Buck almost didn't hear her.
They still stood on the porch, Buck looking down in Lou's eyes trying to read her meaning in them. Bending his head slightly he claimed Lou's mouth with his own in their first kiss. A kiss he had wanted to give her since the day he had seen her coming down those stairs at Emma's. A kiss that was soft and gentle, almost shy, but also spoke off all the love he held for her.
Lou pulled back and looked up at him. "Does that answer your question?" Buck asked her wiping the tears rolling down her cheek away with his thumbs. Tears she didn't know she had shed.
With a small smile Louise put her arms around Buck's neck, "I just have one question Buck, what took you so long?" She asked as she kissed him back with such love that Buck felt his knees go weak.
"I had to make sure you were ready to really move on." Buck said a few minutes later after the kiss ended.
"So are you ready to move on with me Buck?" Lou asked grinning.
"You better believe it Lou." Buck said with a lopsided grin as he pulled a ring from his pocket.
Dropping to his knee Buck held onto Lou's hand and held the ring out to her. "Louise McCloud I have loved you since the day Emma introduced us to 'Louise', I've never stopped loving you and I never will. I will be here for you no matter what. Anywhere you go I will go with you. Anywhere I go I will take you with me. I love you Lou, will you marry me?" Buck said the love evident in his voice and shinning from his eyes.
Louise found herself crying again, but they weren't tears of sadness. They were tears of joy. She was finally ready to move on with her life. To move on with Buck, "Yes." She whispered before Buck slid the ring on her finger and stood up taking her into his arms and kissing her with all the love he had held in for almost five years.
Three months later Buck and Lou Cross sat on the porch swing outside Lou's house in Oregon. They were expecting company.
After Buck had proposed they had gone right into town and had gotten married. Buck had then written home to their family and told them the news. They of course sent word back that they were coming to visit and to expect them to stay awhile.
"They should be here soon." Buck said his arm around Lou's shoulders.
"I know it's just been so long since I last saw them. I can't wait for them to get here." Lou said her hand going to her stomach.
Buck did not miss the motion. He looked at Lou from the corner of his eye; she looked a little green around the gills. "Lou are you feeling alright honey?"
"Just fine Buck, I just got some news I wanted to wait to share with the whole family." Lou said blushing.
Buck looked at her closely a grin twitching at the corner of his mouth. "I take it this is going to be some good news." Buck said with a twinkle in his eye and a mischievous look on his face.
"The best." Lou replied with a grin.
Buck gathered Lou into his arms and gave her a kiss that made her toes curl. This was the position their family found them in just a few minutes later.
"Well now I think we maybe interrupting something Rachel." Teaspoon said winking over at his wife.
Rachel giggled when she saw her two young friends jump apart looking guilty. "How ya doing Louise, Buck?" She asked stepping closer to the two.
Louise was off the swing and in Rachel's embrace in a second hugging her tightly. "Rachel! Teaspoon! Are you two a sight for sore eyes!" she cried before letting go of Rachel and hugging Teaspoon.
Buck stood and gave Rachel a quick hug and kiss on the cheek. When Lou had let go of Teaspoon, Buck held his hand out for a shake. Teaspoon grabbed hold of Buck's hand and pulled him into a bear hug. "Marriage seems to agree with you boy." Teaspoon teased.
Buck blushed and looked over at Lou, who stepped up to him slipping her arm around his waist. "It sure agrees with me I know." She said looking up at Buck with a complete look of love.
"Ya sure about that Lou, ya look kind of green?" Jimmy asked who had gone unnoticed until that point.
"Jimmy!" Buck and Lou cried together pulling him into an embrace at the same time.
"Let go you two, ya trying to smother me?" Jimmy said laughing as he pulled away.
"You know Louise; I think Jimmy is right you do look a little green around the gills." Teaspoon said with a quizzical expression.
Lou looked up at Buck and grinned, "Yeah well there is good reason for that. I'm going to have a baby in about seven months."
Her statement was greeted with three jaw's dropping before everybody started laughing and hugging and talking over each other at the same time.
That evening as Lou sat with her husband on the couch and looked around at her family she couldn't imagine her life turning out any differently. Yes it had been a long hard road to get here, but she wouldn't have changed anything. She had moved on to bigger and better things. And anymore moving on was going to be done with the man at her side.