Author's note: This chapter contains a scene in which a sexual encounter is described in quite a specific way, so if you don't like this kind of scenes, just skip it. The scene is marked in bold so that you know when you have to stop.

Chapter 14

His eyes fluttered for a few seconds, and when he finally opened them, he felt disoriented for an instant. His senses gradually came back to Kid, and he then noticed an alien pressure around his chest. His gaze lowered, and his mouth stretched into a wide smile when the events from the night before unfolded in his mind as his eyes fell on Lou. She was sound asleep; her arms were tightly wrapped around his torso and her face buried on his chest, so from his position Kid could just see the nape of her head and her tousled short hair. The Southerner could not help himself, and placed a soft kiss on the top of her head almost at the same time as a series of knocks resounded in the silence.

It was then that he realized that he had not woken up on his own, but it was the insistent knocking that had interrupted his rest. The light timidly filtering through the window told Kid that it was still quite early, so he wondered who might be calling at his door at this time of the morning. Moving softly, Kid tried to disengage himself from Lou's hold without disturbing her sleep. Yet, the grip she had around his middle was too strong, and Kid eventually had to wake her.

"Lou, honey, there's somebody at the door, and I need to answer it."

Louise moaned, mumbled a few unintelligible words, and rolled over to the other side of the bed, burying her face in the pillow. Kid smiled, his heart warming at the sensation of familiarity this moment stirred in him. He still remembered their first months as a married couple. When for some reason they had a late night and went to bed later than usual, Lou always responded in the same way as she was doing now, muttering in her sleep, when he tried to wake her.

Kid almost laughed at the sweet memory. Some things never changed, and he felt like reaching for her and kissing her awake as he used to do in the old times. Yet, he paused. The thrill came not alone, and he also felt assaulted by a great dose of fear. Now Lou was sleeping peacefully in his bed, but what if tomorrow his bed was empty again? Life could change so fast, and the idea that he might lose her once again filled him with dread and anguish. It had taken so many tears, so much suffering, and too long to come to terms with the fact that Lou was not part of his life, and Kid believed he could not go through that ordeal another time. He had to think Lou was here to stay, and he was ready to do and sacrifice anything to make sure that their marriage would not sink now.

Some more insistent knocks snapped him out of his brooding. "Coming!" he called annoyed as he slid from under the bedding. For a few seconds, he remained seated on the edge of the bed, rubbing his eyes out of the deep tiredness he felt.

He then heard his name being called by a feminine voice, which came muffled by the protection of the wooden door, so Kid could not tell who it was. Rising to his feet, he finally dragged his body across the room as he repeated, "I'm coming!"

With a strong yank, he pulled the door open a crack, and his eyes opened in surprise when they spotted the person at the other side. "Rachel…" he exclaimed, and then he also noticed the woman was not alone. "And Jimmy. What are you doing here? Anything wrong?"

"Maybe… I hope not," Rachel replied. "It's Lou."

"Uh… Lou?" Kid echoed slowly.

"Nobody's seen her since last night," Jimmy explained.

Kid lowered his eyes, and focused them on his bare feet. His hand kept a strong grip on the doorknob, and his body blocked the view of the inside of the room. "I see. Well, you know her, and what a free spirit she is. She might be anywhere. I don't think there's reason to worry." He could simply come out and say that Lou was sleeping safely inside, but something pushed him to protect that new sweet secret of theirs. It was clearly foolish, but even though they were husband and wife, he did not feel comfortable revealing Lou had spent the night in his bed and with him.

"Kid, her bed hasn't been slept in," Rachel added. "Allan and Teaspoon have gone to find Buck and the others."

"We're gonna ride out and try to find her. We've checked around town, and there's no trace of her. You're coming with us, ain't you, Kid?"

The Southerner passed a hand over his face. "I think you're overreacting. I'm sure Lou's fine. She can take care of herself, and…"

"You've changed your speech all of a sudden," Jimmy retorted sarcastically, not a pinch of amusement in his tone. "You almost suffocated Lou with your almost insane worrying, and now you don't care two bits what happens to her!"

Kid was starting to feel annoyed. "You know that's not true!" he said between clenched teeth.

"Can you just put aside your problems with Lou just for once? Kid, we don't know where she is! This ain't like her at all, and we're so worried because she wasn't feeling too well yesterday."

Even though the Southerner knew that Louise was safe a few feet from where he stood, he could not help feeling concerned by Jimmy's words. "What? Lou wasn't feeling well?"

Jimmy did not seem to hear his friend's questions and continued, "Maybe she felt sick and might have fainted somewhere, or maybe she's been assaulted by some despicable drunkard, or maybe…"

"Or maybe nothing!" Lou's voice resounded from inside. Kid felt her small hand on his right flank gently pushing him aside, and Louise appeared by his side. She had thrown Kid's white shirt over herself to cover her scantily-dressed body. "Jimmy, stop badgering my husband. You know what he's like… always protecting a lady's honor. He seems to forget we're already married."

Kid gave her a strange, embarrassed smile. "I can never forget that, Lou."

Louise shook her head, and tapped him on the shoulder while she turned her eyes to Rachel and Jimmy, who were staring at her and Kid in stunned silence. "Rachel, please forgive me for this scare. I know I should've told you something last night, but it just slipped my mind. I just did what you advised me to. Kid and I started to talk. Then it got late. We came here, and I fell asleep. Sorry for worrying you."

Rachel could hardly believe her eyes, and it took her a few seconds to react to Louise's words. "It's… it's fine. I imagine we woke you up now, so please forgive us."

Lou and Kid shared a too obvious, goofy look, and Jimmy cleared his throat uncomfortable. "Shall we go, Rachel? There's nothing else to do here."

"Uh… yes, let's go find Teaspoon and Allan."

A few awkward goodbyes were exchanged, and Jimmy and Rachel made their way down the corridor while Lou said, "And again… I'm sorry."

Kid silently grabbed her by the elbow and steered her inside. When the door closed behind them, they locked eyes, and suddenly burst out cackling. Lou even had to rest her back against the door as she got out of breath from guffawing so hard. "Poor Rachel," she managed to let out among gasps.

Kid sobered when he remembered something. Taking a closer step, he reached out and removed an unruly tendril of hair from her face. "Jimmy said you weren't feeling well yesterday."

Louise rolled her eyes. "Don't start, please. I'm fine. My stomach just hurt a bit, that's all," she said, not intending to go into details about the reasons why she had suffered those pains.

"You sure you're okay?" Kid asked, taking another step. His body hovered over hers, and his hand pressed against the door close to her head.

"Do you think I could do this if I didn't feel fine?" she asked, and hooking her arms around his neck, she joined her lips to his in a hot kiss. Kid wrapped his own arms around her petite frame, feeling her warmth and vibrant body against him. He soon invited her to deepen the kiss, and she instantly followed his lead, avidly tasting and exploring what she had missed for so long.

As they stopped breathlessly after a few minutes, their eyes kept locked into each other. Lou smiled as she broke the silence, "I don't think Rachel and Jimmy believed we'd just been talking all night long."

"I suppose not," Kid softly whispered.

"We shouldn't disappoint their imaginations, don't you think?" she added, grinning flirtingly. Her cheeky expression suddenly turned into seriousness as she repeated what he had already confessed to him a few hours ago. "I want you, Kid. I want you now."

The hunger shining in his eyes responded to her own desires. His hand slowly reached to touch her face, and he kept staring at her as if she were some kind of ethereal apparition that might vanish into thin air at any moment. "Kid, I'm here," Lou said, getting increasingly anxious.

He smiled bashfully. "It's been so long, Lou, and I'm feeling nervous. I really want our first time after all these years to be good and pleasant."

"It's gonna be perfect," Lou assured him, and taking hold of his hand, she led the way to the already slept-in bed. Louise stopped, and turned around towards her husband. Her eyes lifted to his, and as the couple stared at each other cravingly, her hands worked on the buttons of Kid's too big shirt she was wearing, which slipped from her shoulders onto the floor.

Kid leaned forward, and his lips nuzzled and kissed the sensitive area of her neck. Lou let out a moan of pleasure as his touch woke sensations within her that had been dormant for too long. His mouth softly travelled over her skin, almost reverently adoring every inch his lips caressed. Kid's fingers undid the small buttons at the front of her chemise, and Lou eagerly helped him shed the garment. As Louise appeared naked from the waist up, Kid stopped, and pulled back to admire her. "You're so beautiful," he whispered in a husky voice.

Lou smiled, and eased down across the width of the bed, spreading her arms in an open invitation. Kid discarded his long johns top, and pressing his hands on the mattress, he sank down to join her. His lips found hers once again. Lou's hands craved for him and zestfully brushed up and down his muscular back while they kept kissing with desperate ardor. Her bare breasts pressed against his chest, and through the flimsy material of her drawers, she could feel his desire for her.

"I love you," she panted among kisses, and his passion-stirring caresses. "I love you."

Longing to feel him completely, Lou placed a hand against his chest, pulled away, and made them roll over the bed so that Kid lay on this back and she was on top. Kid let out a groan of protest, missing her lips and her touch, as she shifted away from him and knelt on the bed next to him. Trembling with anticipation, Lou fumbled with the ribbon in her drawers until she managed to untie it and peel the unwanted garment from her body. Kid's eyes almost popped, seeing her in all her glory and his hand reached for her, eager to touch her beautiful body. Yet, she scurried away again, and stooping between his dangling legs, she gave his long johns bottoms a powerful yank, tearing the buttons holding them together in her eagerness to get rid of any barriers that could get in the way to be completely with her husband. She stood up, and her smoldering eyes hungrily all over his body to finally meet his gaze. The intensity in his blue orbs sent a shiver down her spine, and triggered her into action.

Without breaking eye contact, she straddled his waist. He was smiling and Lou responded with a girly giggle of her own. Lowering her face to him, she found his mouth again, and after a few minutes of relishing in his sweet lips, Lou's kisses made their way downwards. Kid grunted in pleasure as his wife took an active part in her loving ministrations, and made love to every inch of his skin. Her lips travelled from his shoulders to his chest, and at the same time her body moved, brushing momentarily against his manhood to finally sit on his thighs.

"Oh Lou, you're killing me."

Lou smiled and ignored his protest as she continued getting reacquainted with his body. Her mouth probed and explored every muscle, every crevice, every imperfection at the same time as her hands fondled the familiar terrain. She knew every scar marring his beautiful, strong body from all those times Kid had been wounded while running for the Express, but as her probing mouth reached his abdomen, she stopped as she noticed a new ugly scar in his lower stomach she had not seen before.

"Kid…" she breathed, lifting her eyes to him as her finger gently caressed the length of the mark.

He met her gaze, and without saying a word, he shifted and softly pulled Louise up towards him. They kissed again as they rolled across the bed, their arms and legs straining to touch each other and stay as close as possible. Lou finally came to rest her head on the pillow, and Kid hovered over her. Her legs wrapped around his waist, their eyes stared longingly at each other, and their faces merely an inch apart. "I love you, Louise McCloud."

"I want you now," Lou whispered breathlessly. "Please."

Kid nodded, placed a soft kiss on her check, and his intense gaze asked her a silent question. Lou closed her eyes, granting the permission he was requesting. He then unwrapped her legs from his waist and accommodated them in a better position flanking his sides. Louise let out a deep moan, and her body trembled as he entered her, and the realization of how lonely and empty she had felt all these years brought tears to her eyes. Kid noticed her tearful eyelids straightaway, and hesitated. When Louise felt his movements still, she opened her eyes and saw his concerned expression looking at her. "I'm fine," she whispered. "Please don't stop. I… it's just… I missed you so much… so much."

Fresh tears appeared on her eyes, and Kid tenderly kissed them away. His lips caressed her beautiful face until joining her mouth again while they confirmed the love they had sworn to each other so long ago in a very intimate, passionate oath. Their passion escalated and broke out among words of love, moans and sighs. Sweating and panting, they remained locked into each other's arms, their legs hugging, and their tired eyes chanting a happy, romantic tune. The room remained in silence, only broken by the sound of their ragged breaths and their husky voices, uttering promises of love and passion that would hopefully fill the emptiness and misery that had reigned in their lives for too long. Today marked a new fresh beginning and their hearts hoped that the road they had ahead now would be smooth, and a long one to get back all they had lost and missed on the way here.