Dakota Four: The Circle of Life

by Ri

Disclaimer; This is the fourth part in my Dakota series to understand the characters you really should read the first three. There is a loving committed same sex relationship, and a very heavy hurt/ comfort section in this story. If this is not your cup of tea please don't read further but if you like it please read on.

        It was a beautiful day and the gambler couldn't wait to get home. She had a very successful trip to San Francisco. Jackie had stayed home after Dakota had finally convinced her that they would hardly ever see each other during the trip. The poker championship in San Francisco was a non-stop forty eight-hour ordeal with no sleep and hardly any food just straight poker for two days.

        The best players in the world played at this tournament every year. Dakota had gone every year and she always ended up in second place. It was annoying for someone who usually won to always come up second. She did win a lot of money mostly in side bets but to not win the game grated on her last nerve. It just was against everything she stood for and she was determined each time to win the whole pot this time around.

        Dakota had a very happy smile as she thought of her beloved and Dad's expressions when they saw the medal that she now possessed. She finally won the damn thing. It was a first time a woman ever won. Not even Belle Star had won that one and she had. Dakota could have flown home on the power of that high.

        Meditation suddenly stopped. Dakota could feel it in the air too. Trouble.

        "Come on girl, Let's see if we can help."

        They approached the small settlement she had gone through on the way to San Francisco. It was only 20 miles from her home. A small village of new settlers called Albacore. It was a nice friendly place she liked very much. They were all excited for her and offered her coffee and bread for her journey.

        As she came to the outskirts she felt the sting of tears come to her eyes. It was all rubble. The few building they had built were now burnt to the ground. The people looked to have been dead for approximately 24 hours. It smelled horrible. Dakota started to bring Meditation around it, she would tell Bill about this horror when she got home.

        Suddenly she heard a cry. Then there was only the spooky silence. She stopped Meditation and waited listening carefully. There it was again that faint cry she got off her horse and headed toward the sound. She was beside an overturned wagon when she heard a baby's cry.

        "Oh shit!" Cried Dakota as she quickly crawled under the wagon to get the poor child. "Oh you poor little thing," she said nuzzling the babies soft skin. She pulled the blanket that wrapped the child to reveal startling blue eyes and blonde hair. She opened the blanket and saw that the diaper was a horror. The baby boy was about 6 months old and appeared to be healthy but dirty from his ordeal. She gently put the baby back into the blanket and put him on the ground then she dived back under the wagon so she could pull free a bag full of baby things.

        "Well lets see if we can get you all cleaned up, young fellow." Dakota said sweetly as she picked up the infant and carried him to a lake not far from the destroyed village. She carefully washed the baby cleaning every inch of dirt on his body and checking to see if he had been injured at all during the attack. She put on a new diaper and his little clothes.

        "That should feel much better, huh?" She said as she tickled his cute little belly. Sparkling blue eyes looked trustingly into her own. "You look so much like us that you could be our son. I wonder?" Said Dakota quietly as she wrapped him in a fresh clean blanket.

        A strange feeling came over the gambler and she looked deeply into the eyes that were so much like her own gently running her fingers through the soft blonde hair that was so much like her Jackie's. "How would you like to be our son? I'm afraid your Mommy and Daddy are gone and...I...you touch my heart kid. I...really want...Come on, Why don't you come home with me. We'll let Jackie decide about this, ok?"

        The baby gurgled and smiled as if he understood and agreed with what the gambler had said. Dakota smiled and then whistled for Meditation to take them home. She snuggled the boy closer as she waited for her trusted horse to come to them.

        ***                ***                ***                ***

        Jackie was busily working on the formal dining room at their new homestead She wanted an elegant but inviting and comfortable room. She was working with the art that Dakota had bought to try and make that affect. Suddenly she heard a rider approaching and she gently put the painting she was holding down and rushed to the window. She squealed with delight when she recognized the dark figure on the horse approaching the homestead.

        She ran outside with a huge happy smile on her face and stopped dead in her tracks her expression changing to shock. In Dakota's arms was cradled a baby. Dakota gaged her loves face as carefully as she would her adversaries around a poker table. She could see that she was shocked but not displeased. Relieved she said with a smile, "I got a surprise on the way home."

        Jackie's eyebrows shot into her bangs, "H..H...How?" she stuttered.

        "Sweetheart, Could you please take him? My arms are going to break from holding him for the whole ride home." She knew as soon as her wife held the little tike looking into that angelic little face she would fall in love with him just as quickly as she had.

        Jackie put her hands out to accept the sweet faced boy. Her face simply melted when she looked into those sky blue eyes and saw hair the same color as her own. "You didn't win him in the poker game did you?"

        Dakota was now off Meditation and by her side. She put her arm around Jackie's shoulder bringing her close kissing her cheek. "No, I found the poor little thing among the dead in the village of Albacore."

        "My God, How many people were dead?" She asked quietly her eyes aghast.

        "All of them," replied Dakota her voice breaking as she said it. "He was under an overturned wagon with a bag full of his things to soften his fall. Um love, umm..." Dakota was trying to approach the subject she wanted to but was very nervous.

        "Yes Sweetheart?"

        "Um...I...can we keep him? I mean the poor baby is all alone in the world and I... I fell in love with him at first sight. He looks like he's ours."

        Jackie's eyes looked into Dakota's pleading blue eyes and she smiled, "Softy."

        "Only around you...and now him." The gambler admitted quietly.

        "Yes, we can but we have to tell Bill."

        "I know, take him inside and show him his new home while I settle Meditation. Then we'll walk over to the village to show Dad his new Grandson. We'll send one of the braves to get Bill."

        "Sounds good...Oh Darling did you win?"

        "Win what, Sweetheart?" She asked as she gently rubbed her finger against the little boy's soft cheek she was totally consumed with the little one at the moment.

        "The tournament."

        Dakota looked up at Jackie surprised and then she laughed shaking her head. "Oh yeah, I did. I'm the first woman ever and I won a nice big pot. Perfect for starting a family," She said with a big smile leaning over their new son to give her wife a tender kiss.

        ***                ***                ***                ***

        Wise Owl and Bill were talking in Wise Owl's tent about the marauders hitting villages and towns all around the outskirts of San Diego. Bill was worried and he was consulting the older man to get his advice about what would be the best defense. His worry was that their families would be next.

        There was a knock on the flap of the tent and a familiar voice in English said, "Dad are you free?"

        Wise Owl's face lit up and he popped up to greet his beloved child, "Blackbird, Come in Sweetheart!"

        Jackie followed by Dakota entered the tent. The older man was about embrace both of his daughters when he saw what was in Dakota's arms.

        "What's this?" Asked the older man who went to the baby tickling him under the chin. The baby gurgled and looked up at the older man with happy sky blue eyes.

        "Isn't he beautiful?" Asked a glowing Dakota.

        "Who is he?" Asked Bill quietly looking at the boy over Wise Owl's shoulder.

        Dakota smiled at her friend and replied, "He's a foundling. There was a raid on the Village of Albacore. From the looks of things I found the aftermath of raid 24 hours after it happened. This sweet little one was lucky that a wolf didn't find him before I did. He was in an overturned wagon he landed safely on his satchel it was full of diapers, blankets and babies clothes. His mother wasn't so lucky her neck was broken and his father was shot and died a few feet away. This poor child was the only survivor." She finished sadly nuzzling his head against her cheek.

        "God Dakota! That is the 5th place these murders hit. That's why I was here I'm worried about us." Said Bill very angry.

        Wise Owl looked into his daughter's eyes and saw immediately what she was really asking, "So have you come up with an appropriate name for our tribe yet?"

        Jackie smiled and shook her head; "You are really good Dad."

        Wise owl smiled back at Jackie and said, "I've known your wife a long time Swallow."

        "Dad," said Dakota rolling her own sky blue eyes at her beloved and very smart father. She cuddled the baby even closer kissing him on the crown of his head.

        "What are you three chattering on about?" Asked Bill totally at sea with the discussion.

        "Swallow and I are going to adopt him, he's going to be our son." Said Dakota proudly looking at Bill with sparkling eyes.

        ***                ***                ***                ***

        "Bill looked like he was about to have an attack," said Jackie as she gently settled their new son into his cradle, which was happily donated to the couple by Wise Owl.

        "I noticed that," said Dakota with chuckle. She was bending down to caress the little boy's cheek. His little fingers reached up and curled around the long strong fingers. Dakota face broke out into a lopsided grin and she kissed his forehead. "You've got quite a grip little man."

        "Just like you, huh?"

        "He does seem to be a lot like both of us."

        "Yes he does," Jackie smiled affectionately at her mate.

        "I can't seem to stop touching him, he's so wonderful."

        Jackie was gently running her fingers through his hair, "I know I can't either."

        They smiled at each other. Jackie then reached out and tickled his stomach watching him wiggle and smile up at her. Dakota smiled at Jackie, "Sweetheart what would you like to call him?"

        "What name would you like? I think we should find names that suits him in each culture, For the English name do you have a favorite?" Jackie asked smiling at how the little fellow was tugging at Dakota's hand.

        Dakota nodded, "True we should, Um how about after Bill?"

        Jackie looked at their son tilting her head and then shook it, "No, I don't think that fits him, Sweetheart."

        Dakota looked down and said quietly, "When I was old enough Dad got me a lot of information about my family. My father's name was James, Do you think we could name him that, James Nozama?"

        Jackie gently lifted up Dakota's chin and saw tear filled eyes looking into hers, "I think that sounds perfect. I love you Dakota." She pulled the face gently to her and kissed her passionately.

        When they pulled back Dakota smiled sweetly and said, "I love you too." Then she looked down at their son in wonder; "I loved him at first sight. Just like Dad did with me. Strange isn't it?" asked Dakota nuzzling her cheek against Jackie's.

        "No I don't think so. You have a huge heart and he's so beautiful. He does look a lot like us I felt the same way, love at first sight."

        "Isn't it amazing? Beautiful blonde hair like yours and his eyes are the same blue as mine. It's like God just sent him as a gift to us."

        Jackie turned slowly and rubbed noses with the taller woman. "What a lovely way to put it."         


        Dakota scooped her wife up and looked down at the baby, "Excuse us James your Mommy Jackie and I are going to celebrate your arrival in a very special way."

        ***         ***                ***                ***

        Jackie's arms were around Dakota's neck the skin on skin contact made her need increase. They were kissing deeply and Dakota's hands were gently caressing Jackie's soft back.

        Dakota flipped them over then started to move down the beautiful body beneath her kissing and tasting her way till she had captured every bit of flesh with her tongue. Jackie was now reaching the pinnacle and Dakota was determined that she bring her wife to it with all the love and passion stirring in her own body.

        When she reached the golden mound she saw it was so wet that she could easily enter it with two fingers. She started a driving rhythm with her fingers and captured the erect breast with her mouth. As her tongue and fingers drove Jackie up the spiral she released the breast and climbed Jackie's leg riding it in the same rhythm till they both fell over the edge together.

        She then crawled up the blonde's body till she was kissing the sweaty brow and nuzzling her tired body with her wife's. "I've missed you so much. I'm so glad to be home." Dakota whispered lovingly.

        "I've missed you too," replied Jackie her breathing finally coming back to normal. "I was so lonely without you I am so glad your safe and in my arms."

        "Mmm, especially the in your arms part."

        "You do know that our new son might break into our sex life, He will need constant care." Asked Jackie nuzzling her cheek against a strong shoulder.

        "Yep, I know that. I don't mind, do you?"

        "No, I love him."

        "I knew you would. Isn't he wonderful?"

        "Yes, he's just like you."

        "He's both of us." Said Dakota kissing her wife tenderly on the lips.

        ***                ***                ***                ***

        Dakota and Jackie were busy at home converting one of the bedrooms into a nursery. Jackie had put the curtains from Dakota's den into the nursery because they were bright and cheery. With a crib and other things donated by a doting grandfather it was shaping up into a lovely room.

        The baby was in a playpen in the large living room with his busy parents who were both working happily on something for him. Jackie was working on some toys that Bill had brought to make them more suitable for her child. Dakota was working on a bassinet like the one she had seen in San Francisco in a store window.

        Wise owl came in with a bemused smile as he took in the happy family scene. "My Grandson seems to have taken over your lives."

        "Happily yes," replied Dakota grinning at her Dad.

        Jackie laughed and looked at her father in law in amusement, "Just like Blackbird Dad, full of surprises."

        "Why thank you love."

        "Oh anytime my darling."

        Wise owl laughed and shook his head. Then he walked over to the playpen and picked up the little boy. He cradled him in his arms and kissed his cheek, "Well James your parents are very doting."

        "Yep and enjoying every minute of it. Um Dad, did Bill get any information on him?"

        "His parents had no family. We are now all this little one has in the world."

Wise owl nuzzled his cheek to the boys and looked sadly at the girls.

        "Oh," Said Jackie, "I'm...I'm glad but it so sad at the same time."

        Dakota nodded meeting sad green eyes, "I know it's a tragedy. He has us though and we'll love him forever."

        Wise Owl kissed the top of the boy's head and said sweetly, "And he knows it. Don't you James."

        ***                ***                ***                ***                ***

        Dakota, Wise Owl, Bill, Lone Wolf and the tribal elders as well as the Mayor and town counsel were seated around a table in the Mayor's office. This was a summit meeting to try and figure out how to build a defense against the marauders who had hit another village just 15 miles south of them.

        "They don't care who they hit and the are getting closer," said the Mayor near panic.

        "Calm down Tom, Panicking is not going to help us," said Dakota reasonably putting her hand gently on the Mayor's arm.

        Wise Owl nodded, "Blackbird is quite correct we need to build a defense but we also need to gather some intelligence on the marauders."

        "How?" asked Bill quietly.

        "It is Blackbird's believe they must be located somewhere that would be a central location to where they are striking. Somewhere they can maintain the appearance of a normal life while launching these attacks easily," replied the older man looking toward his daughter.

        Dakota smiled at him and then glanced around the table, "That would be San Diego.

        "So what are you proposing?" Asked the Mayor who was now calm.

        "I'll go to San Diego and do a little digging. Meanwhile Dad and Lone Wolf will start working on few plans I have for our defense.

        Bill looked at his friend with a knowing look, "Dakota what are you going to do to get this information?"

        "I have a few ideas," Said Dakota smiling wickedly.

        ***                ****                ***                ***                ***


        "But Sweetheart..."

        "Absolutely not!"

        "How else will be able to put a stop to this..."

        "I don't know. I don't care! I won't let you do this!!"

        "Sweetheart you know as well as I that I won't let those ass holes touch me." Dakota's voice was a calming purr she was hoping to convince her angry wife.

        "What if they hurt you? What if they rape you? I.I..." Tears stung Jackie's eyes at just the thought.

"I know how to take care of myself. You know they couldn't lay a finger on me. If I can fool them and get vital information to safe lives its worth it. I want to stop them before more innocents get killed like our babies parents."

        "But why as a whore?"

        "Because that's who they will talk to."

        "But what if..."

        "Shh, not a lip, not a finger I promise my love. I promise," Dakota said as she gathered Jackie in her arms her love had burst into tears. Jackie knew she couldn't fight it but she was terrified. She buried her face in Dakota's chest sobbing her fear out. Dakota held her close and ran her fingers through the soft hair that she loved so much. "I promise love, and I never break a promise," she whispered into an ear of the upset woman in her arms.

        ***                ***                ***                ***

        Dakota had set up with her Dad to stay with her family while she was away from the homestead. She knew her father would protect them if they came while she was out of town. The chief had set some traps around his daughter's home to set up a base of operations for the defense of the homestead, the village and town. The homestead was perfect location because it was central.

        Jackie was sitting in a rocker in the nursery rocking with her son in her arms. She was singing an old lullaby and looking out the window her eyes not focused.

        Wise Owl quietly came in leaning against the door and listen to his daughter in law's sweet voice as she sang to his Grandson.

        "Blackbird will be ok, Swallow."

        Jackie looked at her father in law and smiled, "I know Dad. I just can't help worrying.

        The chiefs face broke out in a huge smile much like his daughters, "That's called love."

        Jackie nodded, "Yes, She is my whole life. I don't think I could live without her."

        "Nor could she live without you. I know my child. She is very bright and strong. No man could take advantage of her. Ask Bill, she will definitely get the better of anyone who tries to lay a finger on her."

        "I know, I've seen her in action. She is remarkable."


        Jackie shrugged and looked sheepish; "I worry."

        "Little James has the most remarkable parents. They love and worry not just about each other but about everyone."

        "Can't help it. That's the way we are."

        "Believe me Swallow, I know that."        

        ***                ***                ***                ***

        Dakota was dressed in beautiful rose red silk robe and nothing else. Her hair was down making her look softer then she normally would. She looked stunning and highly desirable she had already turned down at least six johns. She was really beginning to wonder if she'd find one of the men she was after.

        A couple of the men were more then a bit miffed by her turning them down. One pulled a gun on her and she quietly disarmed him and threw him out the window into the town marshal's wagon. The other tried to slug her she caught his hand in a vice like grip and sent him hurling out the window to the same fate as the man with the gun.

        "Well I did promise my little one that no one would lay a finger on me. I never said a thing about laying a finger on them," She said to herself in the mirror as she brushed her long black hair with wicked smirk on her face.

        Another group of men entered the brothel so she went down stairs standing in the back of the reception area to scope out the new comers. Two of the men seemed promising. One in particular seemed to like to brag a lot and mentioned a recent run of luck and how he fell into a way of making a lot of easy money.

        She sauntered toward him and put a gentle hand on his upper arm. He turned to look at her and almost fell off of his stool. She smiled seductively flicking her hair so it flew over her shoulder.

        "Your beautiful." He said his voice full of awe.

        "Mm, Are you rich?" She purred into his ear still standing slightly back so she wasn't in his touching range.

        "I'm well on my way to becoming the richest man in California."

        "Oh, how are you doing that? Is it better then mining or stealing from old people?"

        "Oh yes, much better then that."

        The bartender gave the man his scotch. Dakota took the drink and caressed his cheek then started to walk across the room saying, "How would you like to take this up stairs and tell me all about how your building your fortune." She turned and simply left with his drink knowing damn well that the creep would follow her.

        He did and once she was in her room she handed him his drink and walked to the other side of the room. She stretched putting her hands under her hair running her fingers through it. She knew that this move would show off all her assets to perfection and she watched through her lowered eyelids to see the man almost hyperventilating on the other side of the room. He sat down on the bed and downed the scotch in one big gulp.

        She looked at him seductively and began to brush her hair again as she asked, " So how are you making all that lovely money?"

        "Um, I really shouldn't say..."

        Dakota put down the brush and her hands went her belt slowly seeming to be untie it. "I find such talk very stimulating. I may even give you a go for free if you tell me something really interesting." She said as she undid the bow and kicked off her high-heeled slippers.

        "Well... we are taking out some of the peasants in the surrounding towns and villages."

        "Why them?" She asked as she played with the slit in her robe showing a long stretch of skin of her lovely leg.

        He swallowed and said, "Easy pickings."

        The other leg came out of hiding as she asked with her head lowered, "Who's next?"

        "A little village 15 minutes away all Injun bastards that probably steal everything they have anyway."

        Anger suddenly boiled up in Dakota she tried to keep herself together till she could find out if it was her tribe. "15 minutes which way?"

        "North east, why?"

        Dakota sauntered toward him and said, "Just curious, Ok time for you to get what's coming to you," She held out her arms and tilted her head to the side with a sexy smile on her face.

        He smiled wickedly and walked toward her, when he was close enough she suddenly sneered and sucker punched him in the jaw, "I'll give you easy pickings you piece of shit!" She growled. She looked at the unconscience man and threw a towel over his head and quickly changed. She threw the creep out the window into the wagon and climbed down the trellis by the window.

        She smiled at the marshal and said, "Well here is one of your murderers, Marshal, free and clear."

        "So you caught one of fish, Great!"

        "Yeah but I got to go home Roger, my village is next!" She replied as she jumped right into the saddle on Meditation and galloped out of there at top speed.

        ****                ***                ****                ****

        Lone Wolf and Wise Owl were out setting up the defense for both the village and the town. Bill was staying with Jackie at the homestead to protect her and the baby in case the marauders try to attack them. Jackie was feeding James from a bottle she had gotten from town along with other baby supplies that now filled their home. She cooed down to her child and kissed him as he drank his milk happily.

        Bill watched with a sweet paternal expression on his face.

        "You're a good mother, Jackie."

        Jackie looked up at her friend and smiled, "Thanks Bill."

        "Your welcome. Can I ask you a strange question?"

        "Sure, What do you want to know?" Jackie carefully took the empty bottle from her son and put it down on an end table. She gently put the baby over her shoulder to burp him. She rubbed his back with soft strokes waiting for her son to burp.

        Bill's smile broadened at the sight as he asked quietly, " How is Dakota with the baby? I mean I wouldn't think of her as the maternal type."

        Jackie looked at him with the sweetest smile as she said proudly; "She is incredibly loving and doting. She worships our son."

        "I sure do," Said a quiet voice from behind them. Jackie's head turned and she jumped up baby and all. Dakota hugged them both gently kissing her son on the forehead. Then she reached over her son to give her wife a tender kiss on the lips. "I love you both so much you are both my heart."

        Jackie looked into the worried blue eyes and asked, "What's wrong, Sweetheart?"

        Dakota took a deep breath and said, "Those bastards are coming here next, and I'm terrified for us all. Little one, where's Dad?"

        "He and Lone Wolf went to set some more traps for the maunders around the village. They should be back soon." Said Jackie as she detached herself to put their son in the playpen.

        "I'll go check outside and see if their back yet," Said Bill.

        Dakota nodded and walked beside Jackie hugging her and kissing her passionately. She pulled back and pushing some hair out of her pretty green eyes and said quietly, "Stay here, Sweetheart. I'm going to leave Bill here to protect you...I'm so worried about Dad and Lone Wolf they have should have been back by now." She kissed her again and then released her and headed for the door.

        ***                ***                ***                ***

        Two horses approached the homestead at top speed. One rider was yelling at the top of his lungs as soon as he thought he was in hearing range. "Blackbird! Blackbird!!!"

        Dakota ran off the front porch toward the approaching horses followed by Bill and Jackie who ran out of the house. Dakota took one look at Lone Wolf's face and knew something was very wrong.

        "Where's Dad?"

        "He's on his horse, he's been shot!"

        "No!!!!!" Dakota screamed running to the horse. She and Bill with Lone Wolf's help gently took the wounded man off his horse and carried him into the house.

        Jackie had run upstairs ahead of them to get Dakota's medical bag. She met them in their guest bedroom where Dakota was gently checking her father's wound. He was unconscious and his vital were all very low. Dakota had tears pouring from her eyes but she appeared calm to the casual observer.

        Jackie knew better then that it was purely appearance. She knew her love was falling apart inside. She quietly handed the bag to Dakota as tears fell from her own eyes. She met the grieving blue, Dakota spoke to her in a quiet voice, "The bullet went right through him. He is very bad my little one...I...don't know if I can do anything at all." She finally said crying and leaning against a bedpost.

        Jackie put her arms around Dakota's waist hugging her tightly and said, "Stay with him, hold him, talk to him. Even if you can't do anything medically that will be a God send to him."

        "Jackie..." Dakota turned and sobbed uncontrollably in her wife's loving arms.

        "Shh, I'm here. I love you and I always will. Shh." Cooed the small blonde to the grieving woman. Both women walked to the bed and looked at the injured man. Dakota lovingly took her Dad's hand and brought it close to her heart.

        "Dad." She squeaked.

        Wise Owl's eyes flickered open and in a very distant choked voice he said, "Sweetheart...I can't see you..."

        "Shh, Dad everything is going to be all right."


        "No Dad, No don't say that. Please your going to be ok."

        "I love you so my darling girl...I am...proud....of you..."said the older man struggling to breath. Then he shuddered and stopped breathing.

        "No!!!!!!!" Screamed Dakota. She started giving her father mouth to mouth desperately trying everything she knew to get him to respond. Finally when she saw it was useless she fell hysterically across him crying, "No...Dad...please...NO!!! Don't leave me! NO!!!!!!!!!"

        ****                ***                ***                ***

        A very angry Dakota stormed out of her house and looked at the shook up brave with narrowed blue eyes. "What the hell happened out there?"

        "I'm not sure I wasn't with him. We were setting traps around the village we had done the traps for town the day before with no problems. We were separate by only a few feet. I heard a shot and a scream. I ran as fast as I could and I found him out cold on the ground with no one around to be seen for miles. Then I gently picked him up put him on his horse and got him here as fast as I safely could."

        Dakota paced as she listened to her friend. She nodded and said quietly, "I'm not blaming you...I...Damn it Lone Wolf, I just lost my father. I'm so..." Dakota punched a hole through a chair on the porch.

        Jackie had come out of the house and having just seen what her wife did she called, "Dakota?" Jackie walked over to the angry woman and embraced her, hugging her tightly against her. Dakota hugged her back her head lowered onto a warm shoulder. She nuzzled close as she cried her eyes out again. Bill and Lone Wolf looked at each other and felt very uncomfortable watching their best friend fall apart like this.

        Dakota slowly got a grip on herself and said, "We have a village to protect, boys. Let's get a move on. Jackie I want you and James to come with us to village you'll be safer with us then alone here. I am going to leave several warriors to protect all the women and children."

        "Dakota, please I want to help..."

        "Love, you will help by staying alive and protecting our son."

        ***                ***                ***                ***

        The maunders slowly approached the Indian village they were surprised not to run into any scouts as they had on previous raids. Several of their men were caught unexpectedly in some traps. They were left to rot where they lay and continued on toward their target, the village. The two leaders of the group thought that was all the preparation these dumb injuns did and were approaching the first tent as a piercing war cry came from the trees. Suddenly warriors and men from town surrounded them. They were all very mad about what happened to Wise Owl and were ready to tear these men into little pieces.

        The leader was all in black and came right down on the back of a stocky man as she shot at the others with unfailing accuracy. The man she was on fell down and she punched him in the jaw knocking him out cold then followed up by kicking him in the groin. Within 20 minutes the whole gang was overpowered. The wounded were treated and transported to the town jail. Dakota already had braves go out and collect the men who were in the traps to bring to Bill's deputies waiting hands.

        Dakota had the two leaders tied up and brought to her father's tent. She looked at them with icy narrowed eyes and spoke only to her fellow braves in the language of the people.

        After letting them sweat a bit when she saw Bill enter the tent and nod his head she turned to them and said, "Who killed the Chief of this tribe yesterday?"

        Both men were surprised at both the question and that it was asked in unaccented english.

        "Gentlemen, I am being patient but if you don't cooperate right now it will get very rough for you I promise. And I never break a promise." She growled as she paced in front of them.

        "We weren't near here yesterday."

        Dakota punched the man in the groin and watched coldly as the man fell over onto his side in pure agony. "That man was my beloved father. Either you will tell me who killed him or you will all suffer the fate of someone who kills a chief of our tribe."

        The two men looked at her blankly scared and baffled by what she said.

        Lone Wolf stopped Dakota from striking out at the other man and said reasonably, "Blackbird, Maybe they're telling the truth? Maybe whoever killed Wise Owl used them as cover for their own agenda?"         

        The angry blue eyes narrowed as she looked over to Bill and said, "Take this scum to jail. Even if they didn't kill Dad they did kill James's parents and deserve whatever they get." Bill nodded and with the help of one his deputies took the two hurting scared men away from his angry friend.

        Dakota then looked at her best friend and asked, "Who could have betrayed Dad like that? Everyone loved him."

        Lone Wolf looked just as angry as Dakota as he said, "I don't know but we will get them. I promise that. This will not go unavenged."

        "You damn well know that it won't. Dad deserved so much better then to be betrayed like that. He was good and loving leader and father. He deserved to see his grandson grow up. If I knew who killed him I would..." She left the sentence unfinished but she didn't have to because Lone Wolf felt the same exact way.

        ***                ***                ***                ***

        Dakota quietly entered her own tent. Her wife and child were rocking in a large rocking chair another gift from a doting grandfather. She approached them and bent down to her knees.

        "I'm so scared, love."

        "Why?" Asked Jackie holding her other arm out to embrace her upset wife. Dakota went into the embrace returning it gently kissing her son on the forehead and her wife on the cheek. "I'm the Chief of this tribe now...my Dad's gone...I've never been with out his loving guidance I don't know if..."She said quietly tears falling onto Jackie's neck.

"He's not really gone his spirit is with you. I feel it. You have all of us who love you and the support of the whole tribe. Everyone adores you. You are not alone as long as I'm around either, you know that right?"

        Dakota nodded and kissed Jackie tenderly.

        "Could you put James down for a nap I need your undivided attention right now?" She asked quietly.

        Jackie smiled and nodded, "Sure he's a sleepy a little boy anyway."

        Jackie put the baby in his cradle and then took Dakota's hand and led her to the bed. She brought the tall women into her arms and they just held each other for a while. Dakota felt better both from this loving attention and the words that her wife had spoken. I'll get through this Dad, With my little one's help I will get through it. She thought as she pulled the smaller woman even closer.

        ***                ***                ***                ***

        The baby was now fast asleep and the women were still just holding each other. They were now cuddled under a blanket and Jackie was gently running fingers through the soft black hair. Dakota was still crying she couldn't seem to stop. All she knew was that someone had taken her father from her before she could tell him how much she appreciated all that he had given her. She knew he knew it and she knew that she had shown it but it was agonizing that she would never again be able to sit down and just talk to her Dad.

        "Sweetheart, It wasn't the marauders who killed Dad. It's someone amongst the people. I feel it. But I can't understand why anyone would kill him. He was such a kind benevolent man."

        Jackie was silent for a few minutes as she continued to soothe her beloved with loving caresses and strokes. "Who gains by his death?"


        "Besides you Sweetheart, I mean who would gain power other then you?"

        "Hmm, The tribal elders, Dad was oldest elder as well as chief it made his word final."

        "So you being so young wouldn't have that sort of power?"

        "No I..." Dakota pulled back and shook her head as if to clear it. "Wow, I never even thought about that. Your incredible. I do have final say but a tribal elder who is older can override me by tribal law."

        "Ok so who would fall into that category? And who would be so ambitious as to kill a well loved and respected leader both here and in town to gain that kind of power? I mean all the town counsel consulted your Dad and everyone here nearly worshipped him. They would have be very ambitious and cold hearted."

        Dakota looked into the clear green eyes as she silently thought of who would fall into this category. She stroked the soft skin of Jackie's neck and cheek as she went over the 10 elders that made up the ruling group. Of all of them only two came to mind as a possible suspect.

        "Two elders Eagle Has Wings or Busy Hawk."

        "Find out if either of them was out of camp when Lone Wolf and Dad were..." She never finished the sentence Dakota kissed her passionately, "Thank you." Was whispered into her ear as Dakota gently pulled out of the embrace and ran out of the tent.

        ***                ***                ***                ***

        Dakota was alone in her Dad's tent dressed as the Chief of the tribe. Lone Wolf came to the open flap bowed formally and said, " May we come in, Blackbird?"

        "Of course, come in," Said the tall dark woman gesturing toward the pillows by the fire.

        Two braves entered. Lone Wolf escorted the older brave to the pillows then stood back and leaned against a tall oak cabinet that tribal papers were kept in as well as some books that Wise Owl had collected over the years.

        The elder Busy Hawk was amazed that the beautiful young woman was already dressed as Chief the grieving period hadn't ended yet and it seemed to go against her character.

        "Why are you dressed in ceremonial clothes, Blackbird?" He asked in the language of the people.

        "I am here to conduct business as chief so it is best to dress appropriately," said Dakota in the language of the people as well.

        "Business? What business? The elders were not informed there was to be any business."

        "As your Chief I do not have to explain myself. My father taught me our laws very well. I know what I can and cannot do. Do not question me. Now Busy Hawk I did ask you here for a specific reason." She was interrupted when one of her warriors entered her tent and bowed.

        "My Chief I have brought you all the things you have requested."

        Lone Wolf swallowed a smile by biting his cheeks. Dakota was not really a very formal person but to do what they had to do she was pretending. She did look awfully regal in the chief's robes and her elegance in speech was a bit surprising to her old friend since she was not one to mince words usually.

        "I'll take the satchel, my thanks, Little Dove." Said Lone Wolf as formerly as his friend taking the satchel from the young brave. He took it to the woman in the chair handed it to her bowed then backed away.

        Dakota had to bite her cheeks this time. No one had ever even thought of doing that for her Dad. She telegraphed to her friend through mirth filled eyes that he was over playing his part. "Thank you Lone Wolf."

        The mirth left her as she looked inside remembering what the things in it meant. She saw all that was in there and nodded to the young warrior that he could go.

        The old man was beginning to feel worried about why he was there and what business the Chief felt she had to discuss with him.

        "May I ask what the inquiry is?"

        "You really won't have to, I will be happy to enlighten you." She reached in the satchel and pulled out a piece of leather lace from a brave's shoe. "Is this one of yours?" Dakota asked quietly handing the lace to Lone Wolf who brought over to the old man so he could examine it.

        The man looked at it and nodded, "It appears to be, why...?"

        Dakota held out her hand and then pulled out a hawk's feather that was from a hair ornament. It was a distinctive color and shape only one person in the tribe wore it. "Is this yours as well?"

        Again she handed it to her friend who brought it to the older man. He examined it and nodded.

        She then pulled out the last thing from the bag in her hand with a poker face of a true gambler, which of course she was. It was a long piece of rope. "Does this look familiar to you?"

        The old man was now scared but he quietly lied and said "No."

        Dakota's lips became a grim smile. She stood up and started to pace angrily. She was so mad she switched to english with out realizing it but she didn't care anyway. "It is funny Busy Hawk, the first two items you claimed with out any hesitation. And yet they are linked with this rope as surely as your sitting in the Chief's tent."


        "The lace and the piece of hair ornament were found in the same tree as the rope. The lace was entwined in the bark. The feather was caught in branch. The rope was made into a ladder to climb that tree. Busy Hawk do you know where that tree was?"

        The frightened man said nothing, Dakota moved like a cat till she was nose to nose with him. She was so angry could have killed him but she was holding it back and still was speaking in reasonable voice to the vile man.

        "That tree overlooked the area where my father was setting a trap. The person who stood in that tree shot my father. He saw a perfect opportunity thinking we would all blame the marauders since they were known killers. Since you claimed them without a moment of doubt, not being forced or cajoled and because you are the only person to benefit because I have a witness that you bought this rope. I have only one question left. Why? Did you think that you'd get away with this? Did you?" She was about to take the rope and put around the horrid man's throat when a familiar hand touched her shoulder and soft voice said, "No Blackbird. Please don't."

        Dakota turned to look into the gentle understanding green eyes that she loved most in the world. "Swallow I..."

        "Shh, Its ok...Lone Wolf could you please bring this man into town for Bill to jail and have him put on trial for Wise Owls' murder."

        "Swallow we have our own laws..." Said Lone Wolf Quietly.

        She turned toward their friend. "Please Lone Wolf. I don't want Blackbird to be put through all that. She just lost her Dad and she's is way to close to this. I think it would be best if we had a jury trial so my beloved won't be judge, jury and executioner."


        Lone Wolf had the vile man pulled away from his friend and Dakota embraced her wife with love and devotion. She whispered into her ear, "I'm afraid Lone Wolf is right Sweetheart." She kissed her tenderly and then pulled back and looked at Lone Wolf and then the devastated prisoner. "I do have an idea, Lone Wolf bring him somewhere here in the village to be imprisoned and then assemble the tribal elders. I will remove myself from this council but I will be the prosecutor at his trial."


        "Perfect," Said Lone Wolf with a proud smile. "I will put this scum in the animal stockade. Then I will inform the council. Come on you I hope you enjoy the smell," he said as he shoved the man out of his chief's tent.

        Dakota looked deeply into the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen; "I love you my Swallow."

        "I love you too, My Chief."

        Dakota face suddenly burst out into a real smile for the first time since her Dad died "Chief?"

        "Well you are my Chief in every way, aren't you?"

        "Mmm, You're my Queen." Said Dakota as she rubbed noses with the small woman then scooped her into her arms and kissed her deeply carrying her to their own tent a few yards away.

        ***                ***                ***                        ***

        The trial of Elders found Busy Hawk guilty as charged. He was to be given poison to take in water. It was an old way for any elder accused of treason to take the honorable way out of this life. He was brought to his tent and allowed to wash and dress in his formal Elders robes and then die in his own bed. It was the most dignified form of execution known to the people.

        After he was convicted and sent to his tent to die Dakota left the village. She went to the homestead and straight up to the nursery picked up her son and held him close.

        "James, I'm going to give you Dad's name when I adopt you into the tribe when your old enough. I think that way he will look after you...not that he isn't already, huh? I hope I will be as good a parent to you as he was to me. I miss him so much baby. I always knew I could talk to him about anything. He was my rock." Tears fell from her eyes and down her cheeks as she looked into her son's sweet eyes. He reached up and squeezed her nose and tried to put his little hand in her mouth.

        "He loved you and understood you. He worshipped his new grandson. He was sweet and kind to me. He knew we loved him and he loved us all very much. You can't ask for more in life." Said Jackie quietly from the doorway to her son's room.

        Sad blue eyes met compassionate green and Dakota nodded. She gently kissed James and put him back in his crib. Then she covered him with his blanket a present from his beloved Grandfather. She lovingly felt soft wool with her finger as she remember his sheepish look as he gave yet another present for the baby.

        Then she extended her hand toward her bride and led her to the their room

        "Do you think Dad would like us naming James for him?"

        "Of course."

        "He did love you too you know. Not just because he felt an obligation to but because he thought you were a wonderful person. He thought you were the best thing that had ever happened to me. So do I..."

        "Funny I always thought you were the best thing that ever happened to me." They now were cuddled on the top of the bed together deeply nestled in each other's arms. Dakota looked off into the distance over her shoulder for a minute, "I guess this is the circle of life that Dad always talked about. I just wanted our son to really know his grandfather. He was such a remarkable person."

        "He will Love, Don't you feel his presence with us? I do."

        "Yes, especially when I'm down like I've been ever since that bastard took him away from me. He seems to guide me when I need him. Like that trial of elder's idea, that just came to me out of nowhere. I think that was him. It has his stamp all over it."

        Jackie nodded and then kissed Dakota deeply. They enjoyed exploring each other for a while till exhaustion finally took over and they fell asleep.

        The spirit of Wise Owl kissed each daughter gently caressing each soft cheek in a loving fatherly way. Then he walked to the nursery and kissed his grandson. Then he walked into the light that was calling him with the knowledge that his baby and her family were now stronger for the ordeal his death caused them all. He smiled because he knew that love would lead the way.

The End

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