Summary: Cloud Dancing takes Daniels offer and makes a home on the former reservation land where he has a surprise for Dorothy.
A HOME TO HAVE:
Night had fallen over the town of Colorado Springs. Cloud Dancing slipped through the shadows all the way to the Gazette where Dorothy often worked late. He had protected Status in the town, yet he felt the need move through the shadows like a specter, a ghost just to go to the one he loved. Slipping through the back door Cloud Dancing saw her curled up on a pile of blankets. As quietly as he could he shut the door and went to her. She was all he could see, all he wanted these days. Dorothy was more important to him than his freedom. Lying down behind her Cloud Dancing took Dorothy in his arms and watched her sleep.
Dorothy didn't know why she was still at the Gazette, she could have gone home to sleep, but she was too tired. As usual she had stayed late to finish up a few things and night had fallen before she knew it. Lately she had been keeping a pile of blankets in the back for if she didn't fell like heading home in the dark. That was what she had done. Her intention had been just to nap, then wake and do some more work. Only her weary body had other plans. It made her sleep. But at the feeling of warmth her mind drew out of the dark to feel arms she knew all to well. "Cloud Dancing?"
"I am here." He whispered placing a gentle kiss to her temple.
"Good," Dorothy pulled his arms tighter around her body, sighing. She was never truly comfortable these days without Cloud Dancing by her side. It made her feel strange when he wasn't around.
"I wanted to spend time with you before I leave for the North." Cloud Dancing whispered. He didn't wan to leave her, but there things he needed to see to before he could make a life here with her. His heart, his family lived in Colorado Springs. As much as his spirit yearned to be up North his heart would grow heavy at the thought of leaving Sully, Michaela, the children, but especially Dorothy.
Dorothy turned in his arms and looked at him, "You're leaving?" She had just gotten used to having him around, having him near her.
"For a few days and then I will be back." Cloud Dancing leaned in and kissed her forehead, "There are a few matters to take care of. It should only take me a few days."
"I don't want to you to go, but I know…." Dorothy feared that he would run afoul of soldiers, or others wanting to take out their anger on an Indian. She feared that would happen every time he rode out of Colorado Springs and up to the Northern Territories.
"I will be coming back to you." He assured pulling her closer. Cloud Dancing did not want to leave her, but he had to. "And when I come back I will have a surprise for you." When he didn't hear a reply Cloud Dancing angled his head to see that Dorothy had slipped back into sleep. He could not help but to smile. Settling down Cloud Dancing let his mind fall into slumber holding his woman.
Dorothy rolled over to find that Cloud Dancing had gone. Her heart sank as she rose from the blankets to see something resting on her desk. Going over she saw an intricate beaded necklace wrapped in buck skin. Dorothy couldn't help but smile, her mood lightened just a little, but she wouldn't be truly happy until Cloud Dancing was back with her.
She stepped out the front door of the Gazette to the usual stares from the towns folk, those she was used to. Dorothy was better able to ignore all the stares when she saw her best friend Michaela Quinn and her youngest daughter Katie heading into the clinic. Picking up her pace she crossed the short distance before Michaela could get into the clinic. "Michaela, good morning."
"Good morning Dorothy." Michaela turned and looked at Dorothy. The doctor could see a trace of sadness in her friends face, and she wasn't sure why it was there. "Is something wrong?"
"No, nothing a few days won't fix," Dorothy answered following Michaela into the clinic. "Cloud Dancing left for the Northern Territory early this morning."
"Oh Dorothy, did he say when he would be back?" Michaela set Katie in her crib and came to Dorothy. Cloud Dancing and Dorothy had found love during a trying time; as time would have it their love flourished.
"A couple of days." Dorothy smiled lightly. "I miss him terribly, but I can still feel his arms around me, holding my close." Looking to Michaela, Dorothy had a knowing gleam in her eyes. "I fell asleep at the Gazette last night with Cloud Dancing holding me. I was so warm and comforted."
"He slept with you?" Michaela asked.
"Yes Michaela, but not in that way." Dorothy informed trying not to blush. "Normally Cloud Dancing holds me while we sleep, though, since it's been warmer we have been staying outside under the stars. I've never thought sleeping outside would be so interesting." Dorothy babbled.
"I've done that with Sully a time or two." Michaela smiled and patted Dorothy's shoulder. She imagined that how Dorothy looked now was how she looked during her early days with Sully. "Asking as your friend, have you two done more than that?" Michaela asked moving over to Dorothy who now stood by the window.
"Oh, Michaela," Dorothy knew she was red. That didn't keep her from answering though. "Every time I think we're about to move farther, I freeze up. I want him, that much I know." She turned from the window to her best friend and smiled weakly. "Something is holding me back."
Michaela reached out, touched Dorothy lightly on the shoulder asking, "Could it be your scar?" A few years ago she, as Dorothy's doctor, had to take her right breast because of a cancerous growth. There was a brief period of adjustment; Michaela had thought Dorothy moved on.
"I think it is." Sighing Dorothy once again looked out the window. "I think that if he sees it…" she dropped off and looked down. In truth Dorothy didn't know what she thought. She loved Cloud Dancing with all of her heart.
"He's not going to leave you because of a scar." Michaela could see the light shine of tears beginning to form in Dorothy's eyes. "Cloud Dancing loves you."
"I know, I 'm just afraid." She shook her head and forced a laugh. "That's just plain foolishness isn't it?" She knew she felt ridiculous for feeling this way, but it was gut reaction to the way she looked now. Some days she would get up, bathe, and just feel someone shocked to feel the scar where he breast had been.
Michaela reached out, embracing Dorothy. "No, no it's not." She rubbed her hands up and down Dorothy's back comforting her best friend.
THREE DAYS LATER:
Dorothy woke that morning, opened the Gazette, setting about her daily business with the hopes that today would be the day she would see Cloud Dancing. Michaela had come by, invited her to lunch, and while they were eating she saw him riding across the meadow. In her haste she forgot to excuse herself. All that matter was meeting him half way. Dorothy made it over the bridge in time to greet him as he dismounted from his horse. She pulled him close reveling in the feel of him. Her body had been craving his touch for three days, three long days. "I'm so glad you're back."
"I could not be away from you another day." Cloud Dancing kissed the side of her neck feeling her shudder. Pulling back he smiled. Dorothy had tears in her eyes and a joyous smile dancing on her lips. "What is wrong?"
"Nothing," Dorothy wiped at the tears, "I'm just so happy you're back. I missed you, I worried, and I missed you some more." she laughed at how foolish she had been acting. Deep down Dorothy knew he was coming back.
"I am all right." Cloud Dancing reassured. There were times when he worried about her as much as she worried for him. He cupped her face wiping away another tear. "My horse could not carry me fast enough to your side."
Dorothy smiled, she couldn't help it; Cloud Dancing made her smile for no reason at all. "I just… uh… Michaela and I were having lunch. Would you want to join us?"
"I can not. There is something I have to finish first." Cloud Dancing wanted to spend time with her, but he had to finish what he had started out on the former Reservation as quickly as he could. "Would you meet me tonight?"
"Anywhere," She answered. Dorothy couldn't wait for the day to pass so she could see him again. The times she had spent with him had been the most rewarding, the most unexpected pleasure that she had ever had.
"Tonight I will come for you out front of the Gazette." He said, taking her hands in his. Cloud Dancing kissed the backs of her hands before getting back on his horse. "Tonight?"
Dorothy nodded, "Tonight." She watched him ride off feeling every inch of happiness she was capable of feeling. Dorothy was still smiling when she rejoined Michaela for the rest of their lunch, but her mind wandered.
Dorothy had just closed up the Gazette when she saw Cloud Dancing waiting on his horse for her. Next to him her horse was saddled and waiting. Again a smile worked its way over her lips while happiness bubbled in her body muddling her mind. Not for the first time she wondered how it was she had missed out on such a wonderful man. Locking the door Dorothy hurried over and mounted her horse. She was about to speak when he held his hand up signaling for quiet. Dorothy nodded following him out of town and towards Daniel's land. Half way to Daniel's land Cloud Dancing came to a stop and so did Dorothy. She was confused, but anxious to see what was going to happen.
Cloud Dancing nudged his horse closer to hers so he could lean over and cover her eyes with a blind fold, "Do not worry. You will not have to wear it long." He assured her as her hands came up to rest over his. They were shaking. Taking the reigns of her horse Cloud Dancing led them the rest of the way through the waning sun light.
Dorothy had hundreds of things on her mind after Cloud Dancing fixed the blind fold over her eyes. She had wanted to protest; only she didn't have the heart. Her heart was filled with excitement at where he was taking her. There were too many things running through her mind, so many that she barely noticed that they had stopped moving. Movement to her right caught her attention with the feeling of Cloud Dancing's hands about her waist helping her down. "Can I take the blind fold off now?"
"Not yet." He answered taking her hands and guiding her up the path. Every step they took was careful, measured. Coming to a stop just a few feet from the porch Cloud Dancing was apprehensive about taking the blind fold from her eyes. On this land he had been forced to live as a white man in a shack, but now he chose to build a house on some of the land Daniel had given back to him. For the last few months Daniel and Sully had been helping him to build, to make a home. It was a home that he wanted to have with Dorothy. "Are you ready to see again?"
"Yes," Dorothy answered fisting her hands in the fabric of her skirt when Cloud Dancing let go. She felt his fingers against her hair untying the threads of the blindfold keeping it secured. When the soft piece of buck skin fell away Dorothy blinked a few times. Then she focused on the structure in front of her. It was a modest one story house, a mixture of the white man and of the Cheyenne. There was a porch extending the full length of the front of the house. Where a door should be was a buck skin flap. Dorothy wondered what the inside looked like. She turned to see an odd expression on the face of the man she loved. He looked almost worried at what she was going to say. "This is what you've been up to for months now?"
"It is." Cloud Dancing answered looking at the house. It was more than anything he had ever thought to have. But with Dorothy by his side, he knew he wanted to go to sleep with her and wake in the morning with her in his arms. "On the reservation I was forced to live as the white man, now this," He motioned to the house, "Is my choice. I want to share it with you." Taking her hand he led her up the steps and inside to the massive space. In the center was a circular fire pit with the chimney up through the center of the roof.
Dorothy could scarcely believe what she was seeing. This was what she had imagined the inside of his teepee would have looked like. It might have Spartan furnishing, but she didn't care. It was Cloud Dancing's and she loved it with her whole heart. Looking around she saw intricate spider web wheels dotted about the walls. There were even a few woven blankets hanging on the wall. Scattered about the floor were numerous buffalo skins, pillows and assorted hand woven blankets. Words failed her for once in her life in regards to him. Turning to him she could not keep the joy from her face, "This is… amazing. I'm honored that you want to…" Words were failing her again.
"I want this to be your home. I want it to be our home." Cloud Dancing was nervous. He had never been this nervous before, not even when he met with her about getting the truth of the brave attacks out in the paper.
"You do?" Dorothy wanted that, but she didn't know she wanted that until he said it. There were so many things that she wanted with him that she thought she wouldn't be able to have. Having him was enough. Now she could have him and a home to call her own.
"I do, with all my heart." Taking her hands Cloud Dancing led her through the curtain to the other half of the house. There resting against the wall was a huge bed with an elaborately carved head board.
"Oh, Cloud Dancing, this is," she turned to him, "This is wonderful." Dorothy stepped close to him placing her hands on his chest. Leaning in she kissed him lightly. "I want this too. I want to be with you."
Cloud Dancing let out the breath he had been holding. "I was worried about what you would say." He confessed and felt foolish for it. He shouldn't have worried so much over what she would have said. Deep down in his heart he knew she would accept this, accept more of him. "On this day two years ago, you came to me asking to write your next book on me."
"A book I burned to save you." Dorothy remembered the day she burned it, relief and terror washed through her as all of her hard work went up in flames, but at the same time the life of the man she came to love was saved.
"A book that brought us together." Cloud Dancing kissed her forehead kissed the bridge of her nose, dropped gentle kisses to her cheeks, and finally kissed her lips. His hands slipped around her waist and up her back to the buttons holding her dress to her shoulders. He had the buttons undone and was close to pulling the fabric down her shoulders when Dorothy pulled away.
"I'm sorry." Dorothy turned her back and covered her face with her hands. Fine time for her stupid fears and insecurities to crop up.
"What is wrong?" He had meant to frighten her, if that was what he had done.
"Nothing, just…" Dorothy fisted her hands in the fabric of her dress and felt the absence of her right breast more acutely than ever before. "A few years ago I went through an operation that…" she drew in a shaky breath, "Left me scarred." Cloud Dancing's arms came around her waist then and she felt her tears gather. Taking his right hand she placed it over where her right breast should be. Dorothy expected him to back away with disgust on his face, but he didn't. Instead his left hand slid up and cupped her left breast.
"It is not the sum of our scars, but who we are inside." Cloud Dancing whispered. She had heard some of what had happened to her from Sully. Never would he have thought she would so conscious about it. Then again they didn't think alike. Cloud dancing loved the different ways thy thought about things. Some things he took for granted, she saw with such wonder. The things she thought were common place he saw as strange, often odd. One of those things was something she had called the Waltz. That dance had seemed strange to him and yet normal to her.
He kissed the side of her neck, letting her know what he was feeling. Cloud Dancing loved her; there was nothing that would change that. Pulling back from her he removed his shirt. "Dorothy, look at me." He said gently.
Dorothy turned to him and saw scars marring his dark flesh. One of them she knew about, that one had been because of her. She reached out and traced the thin scar on his right side. That night Dorothy had been there as Michaela had saved his life. Taking a breath Dorothy first freed her wild mane of red hair, letting it tumble down over her shoulders. She reached for the collar of her dress, slowly pulling it down her arms until it was loose at her waist. Dorothy couldn't help close her eyes; she didn't want to see the look in his eyes.
Cloud Dancing reached out and let his finger skim over the bear flesh of her sides. She was so soft, so silky to his worn, calloused fingers. Wherever he touched her skin would warm to him. He saw nothing that would make him turn and run from her. In his mind a scar was a scar and it was just as much apart of the person as anything. Running his hands up her sides Cloud dancing ran his index finger over the scar she had on her chest. Dorothy shook at the contact but did not back away. Cupping her face again he whispered to her in his language, "You are the most beautiful creature I have ever seen."
Dorothy didn't know what he had said, but listening to him speak in his tongue was soothing and it washed away her fears in regards to her scar. He didn't run from her, Cloud Dancing rubbed his thumbs under her eyes taking away the tears that had spilled. This was supposed to be a happy night, not a night for tears. Taking a deep steady breath Dorothy once again ran her hands up his chest, threading her fingers into his mass of raven black hair. "I'm not afraid anymore." Dorothy whispered kissing him gently. Leaning into him she felt his warm skin against her and it felt right, it felt where she was supposed to be.
Cloud Dancing dropped his hands from her face, resting them at her waist slowly fiddling with the fabric of her dress. He wanted to feel more of her against him, needed to have her. Taking on step he slowly guided her back against the edge of the bed. He wanted her comfortable their first time. Divesting her of the rest of her clothing Cloud Dancing covered her with one of the blankets he had. Cloud Dancing joined her, welcomed into the cradle of her body. He could not help but to smile down at her. There was nothing he wanted more than to have her here with him. Letting her know that he thought nothing over her scar he moved aside the top of the blanket placing a butterfly light kiss to the pale line.
Dorothy shuddered at the contact of his lips. They were barely on her skin, just a whisper, but that one touch spoke volumes to her heart. Being bold, she caught him off guard rolling them so she was on top. Without saying a word she moved down his chest to where the scar on his side was; the one that had been her fault. Mirroring his actions, she let her lips linger over the scar. She felt his hands roam over her back and trace up her spine to settle into her long hair. Grinning Dorothy sat up straddling his waist letting the blanket fall from her chest. They were alone here; free to be with each other. She fiddled with the tie at his hips trying to get him divested of the rest of his clothing. Her fingers were trembling like she was a young woman. Dorothy hadn't been paying attention to his hands when he rolled them again. She could only laugh.
Cloud Dancing removed the rest of his clothes settling under the blanket with Dorothy. He drew her close, kissed her lips, bringing her lower body into contact with his. She draped her leg over his thigh waiting for him to move next. Cloud Dancing wanted to take his time, they had all night. He moved over her, settling inside of her. Together they gasped, both afraid to move, neither wanting this moment to be over too quickly. Bracing most of his weight on his forearms Cloud Dancing pulled out overwhelmed with the sensation of pure pleasure.
Dorothy felt her head spinning, her heart racing, and her body coming to life with every touch of Cloud Dancing against her. She lifted her knees resting them at his hips feeling him slide in and out. Her mind was in shambles only able to process the pleasure her body was receiving. To think she had been scared of sharing this part of herself with him. It amazed her how perfectly his body fit to hers, fit into her. They were like missing pieces of a puzzle, they fit together. She never wanted this to end.
MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT:
Dorothy woke not knowing what had woken her up. Cloud Dancing was still behind her, asleep, with his arm draped over her waist. She couldn't figure it out. Why was she awake? Normally she woke to find Cloud Dancing watching her wearing a contented smile. Instead she was awake and wondering why. Slipping free of his arms Dorothy slid out of bed grabbing his buck skin shirt she could pull it on. Her dress would have been too cumbersome to put back on, then to have to take off again. Cloud dancing's shirt was perfect and it fell to her mid thigh, plus she could still smell his scent all around her. She was truly his woman now, just how she wanted to be. Dorothy moved through the curtains separating the bed from the rest of the house and moved out onto the porch. The wind was warm as it whispered through the trees and danced through grass. One night Cloud Dancing had told her there was a song that only played at night; it could be heard if one knew how to listen. She was listening now and she could hear it.
Dorothy didn't know how long she been standing there when she felt, more than heard, Cloud Dancing watching her. She could even picture a mysterious grin on his lips. Turning to him she greeted him with a contented smile holing her hand out to him.
Cloud Dancing had come awake feeling cold. Dorothy was gone from his side. For a moment he thought she had left him, but then he heard her walking out to the porch. Getting dressed half way he smiled at the absence of his shirt. She must have taken it to wear. Being as quiet as he could Cloud dancing stopped at the doorway watching her watching the night. Something in her knew he was there. Dorothy turned to him holding out her hand. Reaching out to her, he wrapped his arms around her waist bringing her back against his chest. "What are you looking at?" Cloud Dancing asked kissing the side of her neck.
"Oh, I was trying to see the world as you do. I was trying to here the song the night can play." She answered scanning the pitch black for some sign of what had brought her out of sleep. Leaning her head against his jaw Dorothy sighed in contentment.
"Is something bothering you?" Cloud Dancing asked looking out at the night in the same manner as she was.
"I don't know. Something woke me out of a sound sleep. Pulling me out here to stare into the night," She shook her head. "It's foolish, but I couldn't stop myself. I had to come out here and see what it was. So far I haven't found anything." Turning in his embrace Dorothy sighed again, "We should go inside."
Cloud Dancing smiled, took her hand, and ushered her through the door. Before he followed her he cast one more glance out into the night wondering if there had truly been something out there to wake her. Not seeing anything he joined her. Not finding her in the main room he walked back through the curtain to see her stretched out close to the head bored looking at it in all of its glory. Her delicate fingers were running over the small carved pictures of the buffalo, over the eagles and wolves, then down to trace a few horses. And then her fingers touched on the only object he had carved with great care; it was an open book. The book he had helped Dorothy with, the book she was going to publish and tell the story of his people. It was the book she had to burn in order to protect him. "That is how I imagined your book. Being read and understood." He spoke from his heart as he joined her resting behind her. Cloud Dancing pillowed his head on his closed fist while draping him other arm over her waist tracing odd patterns on her stomach with his fingers.
"Maybe I could write it again." Dorothy muttered tracing the carving over and over. Her book, she thought. That book had been more than just words on a page. It was the lament of a man displaced from his land, from his people, and forced to live some strange life. Now here she was, with this proud man living in a simple house that was more comfortable than anything she had ever know, lying on a bed staring at a head board that he had carved depicting one small book that could have changed so much if it hadn't been burned.
"I would be honored if you chose to write your book again." He nuzzled the back of her neck, placing light kisses to her skin. Cloud Dancing pulled her closer, tangling his legs with hers while she continued to trace the carved open book.
"But would it do more harm than good? The first time I wrote that book it nearly got you captured had I not burned it to keep the soldiers from finding it. How would my book impact the hearts and minds of people if I have so much doubt about it?" She dropped her hand and rolled over on her back to look up at him. Dorothy saw nothing but love in his eyes and she felt it in the way he touched her.
"It will impact others because you believe in it. You thought as others used to and now…." Cloud Dancing had said the same thing to her before when she was feeling doubt. He could only hope that she chose to write her book again. "I will be there with you, every step of the way should you chose to put your words, the truth, to paper." He hugged her close, kissing her temple.
"I love you," Dorothy whispered. "Have I told you that lately?"
"I believe I heard it once." Cloud Dancing smiled.
"Oh, well then I should be mindful to tell you more often." Grinning at him in return she settled down letting sleep claim her.
THE MORNING AFTER:
Dorothy and Cloud Dancing rode side by side into town, mindful of the stares they attracted. If it had been any other morning Dorothy would have been irritated with all the people staring at her, but this morning she couldn't care less. She had Cloud Dancing; her life was complete. Before she knew it they were passing by the clinic where Sully and Michaela were. Pulling the reigns on their horses they came to a stop. Cloud Dancing dismounted coming over to the left side of her horse offering her a hand. Dorothy smiled at him getting down and then joined Michaela at the door of the clinic. "Good morning Michaela."
Michaela smiled in return wondering what put her friend this cheery mood, "Good morning Dorothy. You seem happy?" she asked as she opened the door of her clinic.
"What's not to be happy about? I have a man that I love, its beautiful day, and I'm planning to write my book again. And when I dedicate it, I'm going to dedicate it to you and the scattered Cheyenne people." Dorothy wasn't looking at Michaela as she said it. Her eyes were on Cloud Dancing. Their talk last night about her book had sparked a need to write it again, to make the people see the Cheyenne as victims.
Cloud Dancing hadn't realized his feet were moving until he was standing in front of Dorothy with his arms around her waist pulling her close with her arms draping across his shoulders. She was laughing and he was smiling. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Sully and Michaela watching them with smiles on their faces. He was the happiest man today with Dorothy in his arms.