Disclaimer: If you recognize it, I don't own it. Larry McMurtry, Rysher entertainment, and probably a lot more people I've forgotten do. I'm just borrowing them for my own entertainment and will return them when through. Gray Fox and Jesse Calder, though, are MY creations and I'd like to be told if you plan to use them. I'll probably say yes anyway.

Author's note: This is an AU story, based on the Lonesome Dove Saga by Larry McMurtry. AU means that some of the faces, features, and facts might have been altered. If there are any questions, send them through my profile and I'll try to answer them quickly.

Author's note #2: I know I've been neglecting my other stuff, and I PROMISE to work on them when I can, but this took hold and wouldn't let go.

Author's note #3: Reviews are like food and water to me. If you read, won't you please review?

Part Eight

Jesse stepped out into the morning sun, adjusted her hat, and just looked around for a moment. She'd never been to Austin before this, and she wanted to fix it in her mind.

She'd been flattered and a little surprised by Gray Fox's visit and the words he'd spoken to her, before he left to return to his band. "If you tire of the white man's world, you are always welcome in ours." The words rang in her head, but she was still uncertain.

Major Ellington had been replaced. Governor Pease had decided he'd been in on the whole thing, and that he'd taken his men out to track Gray Fox just to make sure he couldn't tell his side of the story. He was on his way back to Washington for sentencing.

Lieutenant Simmons had been given Ellington's post and a field promotion to Captain. She had grown to like the young soldier, especially since he'd renewed her employment with the Army.

She shrugged a little and headed down the street toward the livery. Hopefully they had taken good care of Domino for her; she had missed the wiry little paint.

"Were you going to leave without saying goodbye?" Pearl Coleman tempered the sharp words with a smile. The woman had become a fast friend to Jesse, bringing her food, books, anything she could to make the jail cell a little more comfortable. And she had the added advantage of knowing exactly what Jesse had been through. The Comanches had damaged her, too, and it had cost Pearl her husband many years back. It helped to have someone to talk to.

"I would have come by, Pearl," Jesse replied with a little laugh. "And it's not like I won't be back sometimes." She gazed off into the middle distance for a moment. "I was actually thinking of getting a room here, for a few days. See if I liked it."

Pearl smiled again as she linked her arm through the other woman's. "I think that's a wonderful idea. And I know just the place." She took Jesse with her to the end of the street, to a small house that needed a little work but was at least warm and dry. "Woodrow mentioned you were good with a hammer. You could probably have this mighty nice by the time the snow flies."

Jesse laughed softly. "I'll think about it," she replied with some humor. "Right now, I've got to check on Domino and then head over to the fort, see if they have any work for me."

Pearl gave a small, odd smile. "The Rangers'll be back tonight," she remarked idly.

"Give my best to Call and Gus, okay? I really need to get moving." Jesse had something else she wanted to do before she left, now that she thought about it. Pearl had reminded her not so subtly about what she owed to Woodrow Call, and she was going to pay it back. She gave Pearl another smile, a touch on the hand, and went inside the livery.

A moment later, she led out her horse and gave a piece of paper to Pearl. "Make sure Call gets this, okay? He'll understand. You can read it if you want, it isn't secret." Then she mounted up, tipped her hat to the other woman, and headed for the fort. Simmons might have work for her.

Pearl was of course curious, but she waited until Jesse had gotten out of sight before opening it. Oh, Woodrow Call was going to be in a state.

Jesse had bought his favorite buckskin horse and made a gift of it to him.