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Huh... huh huhesssh," Hawks sneezed and sleepily rubbed his nose with the palm of his hand as he rolled over barely awake, thinking - "No, damn-it, not catching cold. Not today, Kara won't wait long and she is not going up there alone. I'll rest a few more minutes and this tickle will be gone." Having convinced himself of this new impossibility, Bodhi Tuhawks Whitecloud reached down and pulled an extra blanket over his incredible physique, smoothed his long jet black hair out of his face and went back to sleep.


Kara moved aisle by aisle through Jim's Supply-n-Feed Store, the aged boards creaking slightly as she meticulously checked off the remainder of the items she knew she would need for the winter up in the mountains. The cabin and its root cellar were well stocked for any and every need already; these were the last few she possibly would want. Hefting a sack of flour over one shoulder and grabbing a gunny of apples with her free hand, she headed to the counter. Kara's frame was small, yet shapely and strong. Her biceps flexed under her smooth honey skin as she smiled at the old man behind the counter.

"Don't you dare lift a finger to help me Jim, I've got it," she teased, flashing him a beautiful warm smile.

"I'm not gonna hep ya neither," the old bastard grinned back at her. Then, a serious expression crossed his features and he added, "Ya know, Kara, if Tuhawks ain't here, you should not head up there alone."

Kara frowned, where in hell was Hawks? But to Jim, she smiled again, a determined tone catching in her voice, "Oh I am going up there with or without Bodhi Tuhawks Whitecloud." Kara was quite probably the only one in the world outside of the Lakota Sioux tribe who pronounced his first name correctly - 'Bo ho they'. "He knows this as fact, and if it was important to him, he'd get his ass out of whatever predicament he's in and he'd be here. Besides, last winter went just fine without him; this winter will be no different."

Inside though, Kara's heart sank just a notch. The project was a fantastic success last year, her solar powered dream came true, but the winter was long without any company aside from her horse and the wolf who had adopted them... and she had grown much too fond of her Native American boyfriend to be away from him all winter.

Jim scratched his head; the stupid ass had to know how stubborn this woman was! "Yeah, but what if something happened? Ya got a helluva lot of publicity and someone might want to hurt a lady all alone in the wilderness."

Kara laughed out loud and cocked her head to the side, her thick dark locks cascading over her shoulder. "Um, yeah. Right, like they'd even make it up there in the dead of winter. C'mon, you're starting to sound like an old woman. I've got the two-way anyhow"

Jim grinned broadly as if he had discovered an amazing possibility, "Okay, well what if something happened to him then, aren't ya at least little a worried? That damn Native has an internal timer I tell ya. He's never late fer nothin."

The thought of something being wrong that Hawks could not handle was so completely ridiculous, Kara snorted in utter disbelief. "Jim are you being serious or is that just a stall tactic to keep me standing round here so that I miss my best daylight? I spoke to him yesterday, so I know he's back from his sister's. She and the kids were sick last week and good old Uncle Hawks was there to help. He told me he'd be here, so unless he drank too much at the bar last night I guess he will. Really it doesn't matter."

In her heart, though, it did matter. More than she wanted it to.


Hawks sat up with a start and glared outside at the sun. "Eeeeeshoooo, eeeeesh, eeesssssh, huhesssh!" he sneezed doubled over from their force, trying to ignore the fact that his nose was becoming more congested by the minute and his throat was slightly more than a little sore. He was late and she'd be gone.

"Maybe that might be better," Hawks spoke aloud to the sky, "I don't want to risk getting Kara sick." Just as he said it, he wished he could take it back - he was not sick, of course, just a tickle, but she was a woman and that was a different matter.

Hawks slid out of bed, ignoring the tickle in the back of his nose, and strode completely naked to the bathroom where he took a steamy shower. He sneezed countless, heavy wet "huessshoooo's" that resounded off the ceramic tile walls and nearly knocked him over with their force. He turned off the water, dried himself and blew his nose completely clear. The morning air was chilled this late in the fall and gooseflesh spread across his beautiful Native skin as he pulled his thermal undershirt and long johns on. Dressing in jeans and a plaid flannel button-down, Hawks did not bother to dry his wet hair, simply brushing and braiding it. He needed to move his ass if he wanted to catch Kara before she rode up the mountain alone. There would be no talking to her if he was not there as promised. No matter what she said or how she acted, he would be on the outs. Lacing up his moccasin boots, he stood, pleased to note the annoying tickle that had plagued him was gone for the moment. Donning his various medicines (native adornments) he grabbed his gear and headed out the back of the small two-roomed house, not bothering to lock the door since as far as was concerned he owned nothing of value anyway.

His Paint, simply called Tashunka (horse) was grazing in the back and trotted happily up when Hawks stepped out the back door. He spoke to the horse in his Native Lakota tongue and ran his hand lovingly over the animal's neck, down her back and over her hindquarters. Gently tossing his pack, bed roll and various food items over his back, he launched himself with the grace of a large cat atop sister horse, lightly grasped a handful of her mane and clicked for her to move forward out of the yard at a brisk lope.


Kara remained outwardly cheerful regardless of 'no show' Hawks and agreed to have a cup of coffee with Jim on the store's porch. Listening to the old man bitch about everyone and everything, especially the reporters who came to ask all kinds of questions about her solar project without buying enough stuff from the feed store, made Kara giggle despite the sinking feeling inside. Finally, she patted the old timer's hand and stood.

"You have been wonderful company, but I really have to get going if I want to be up there by nightfall and not rushing to break my neck in the dark of the woods on the side of the mountain," she added the last bit for emphasis.

"I know sweetie," Jim smiled, the corners of his leathered skin crinkly near his eyes. "I was kinda hopin the bastard would show."

Kara sighed, "Me too, but honestly it is okay. I'll be fine."

Kara hugged Jim and stepped off the porch. Her horse, Manuka ("little fucker"), was munching wild grass on the side of the store, and whinnied when she spied Kara strolling up to her.

"Hey there girl, let's head on up. Looks like it's just you and me."

The horse seemed to nod in reply and Kara laughed aloud. Waving to Jim who was looking just past her, she ran her hands quickly down her mount's legs, kind of like kicking the tires, and stood.

Hawks smiled the minute he saw Kara stand back up. Her long wavy hair caught in the morning breeze as the sun shined on Kara's sleek form. For a moment, Hawks fancied he saw the rosy color of her areolas through the thin cotton of her blouse. How she could wear a simple garment so seductively would always amaze him. Kara followed Jim's gaze and smiled from her heart. Hawks was here!

"I was just about to leave without you, Injun," she teased.

Hawks laughed and leapt from Tashunka to land lightly near Kara. The proximity of this man to her was almost overwhelming. Like magnets, their bodies pulled toward one another. His six-foot frame towered over her 5'3". Kara expectantly tipped her head back to receive the warmth of his lips, ready for his tongue to duel with her own, but he pulled her close and gave her a soft kiss on her forehead instead. Slightly confused, Kara smiled up at him. The look on his face had changed to one she did not readily recognize as he turned his head away from her. He breathed in sharply and sneezed a powerful, "Huheeshhhah!"

"Excuse me," he offered smiling down at her again.

"Bless you," Kara responded feeling an incredible surge of heat rise inside her and a tingle deep in her sex. She had never seen or heard Hawks sneeze in the year she had known him and it was something to behold. "Are... Are you okay?" she asked, stammering a bit, wondering if he knew what he had just done to her.

"Mmmhmm," Hawks responded, grinning down at her, "You all set?"

"Yep, I purchased the last few items on my wish list and a few goodies for you as well," Kara replied as she leaned against Hawk's chest and snaked her hands up his muscled forearms over his fabulous biceps to his broad shoulders.

"I see," Hawks replied as he ran his hands over her shoulders and down her back to her round behind, where he let his hands rest for a moment until the tickle in his nose returned. Turning suddenly he gave her ass a slap, saying, "Let me run in for a few things I may need and we'll head up. And, um, you can put your jacket on anytime, Kara. It isn't going to get any warmer."

Hawks kissed Kara's forehead, again allowing his lips to linger for a moment on her skin. Mother Earth but she smelled so good, like sandalwood and sweet grass. How he desperately wanted to taste her, to kiss her deeply but there was no way he would risk getting her sick, in the remote chance he was coming down with a cold - which he wasn't. Hawks allowed the back of his hand to trail on her skin for a moment before heading into the store.

Kara smiled to herself as she pulled her jacket out of her pack, obediently donning it. Tightening the flaps of the saddlebags and checking the girth of her light English Hunt Seat, she mounted and happily waited.


Inside, Hawks briefly roamed a few aisles, selecting and sniffing profusely. He looked up at the dim lights overhead, stifled a sneeze and moved toward the counter. Jim watched him curiously; the big Native seemed a little stiff and was clearly coming down with a doozey of a cold, but was also obviously loathe to admit it. "You almost missed her, ya know?"

Hawks pulled out a white linen handkerchief and blew his nose into it. "Mmm, I know."

"You, uh, you okay to head up there with her?" Jim asked as casually as possible lest he prick Tuhawks ire.

Hawks raised one eyebrow, growing testy - there was no way he'd let anything happen to Kara. "Inska," (which in the most respectful manner meant elder) he began patiently his deep voice sounding deeper due to the congestion and soreness of his throat, "I'm not gonna let anything happen to Kara. I love her as deeply as mother earth loves her children, like the nighttime sky loves its moon. As a matter of fact, and you are the first to know this, I plan on making her my bride as soon as this winter is over, and if she agrees we will celebrate our union in the spring."

Jim smiled; Hawks had ignored the question completely and made it about the honor of the girl. "That sure is good to know, but I was talkin' 'bout you. Hawks, you feelin' okay?"

Hawks coughed lightly and cleared his throat, "I feel just fine, elder, thank you."

He proceeded to deposit lemons, honey, a dozen white linen handkerchiefs and a box of chamomile tea on the counter. Jim humpfed aloud, but said nothing else about Tuhawks obvious state of health.

"So you two should still be able clear the ridge by nightfall."

Hawks nodded, trying to say as little as possible, for he could feel another tremendous sneeze building as he paid for and stuffed the items into the back of his pack.

Jim was unrelenting, "And you'll have to lead the horses up at about what point, d'ya think?" Hawks was already at the door when Jim looked up.

Kara smiled and was about to speak when Hawks pulled his handkerchief out of his back pocket... and tilted his head back, completely helpless in the grip of an impending sneeze. Completely mesmerized Kara watched him do it, "Ahh Huuuuheessshhhh!" and then half turn to Jim, but more for Kara, he replied,

"Excuse me. I'd say about fifty to one-hundred feet below the ridge we'll have to dismount, unless the trail has been completely eroded, in which case we'll do it sooner. We don't want anyone rolling off the side of the hill."

"Hill!" Jim bellowed, but Hawks had already mounted and was laughing heartily.

"Elder, you worry as much as an old mother hen about her chicks - Kara will be just fine, I shall make sure of it. Just be sure you make a party for us in the spring."

"Party?" Kara began to question. She had finally recovered from his sneeze, but Hawks raised his hand and let it fall on Manuka's rear with a crack so that the horse bolted out of the drive and toward the base of the mountain.

Hawks dug his heels into Tashunka's sides and bolted after Kara who had just slowed Manuka to an easy canter by the time he caught her.

"Jackass Hawks, why did you do that?" she asked, irritated, as she glanced at Hawks who was wearing an amused grin on his self-satisfied face.

"Elder began to ask too many questions, ones I did not wish to answer," Came Hawk's simple reply. He sniffed.

Oddly the sniff made Kara anticipate another sneeze and she could feel the heat in her abdomen begin to uncoil again. She tried to shift slightly, but the hard seam on her jeans only amplified the blooming sensation in her filling clitoris.

"So, how are your sister and her little ones?" She asked, changing the subject.

"Oh, sis was more tired than anything, but the little guys were sick as all get out. They needed constant caring and sis had done everything she could think of and was in need of sleep. So I gave the boys sage tea and honey, and used some Native powders and herbs Grandfather Whitecloud used to give me as a child. They were pretty much better by the time I left. It is a shame when a little one gets a bad cold."

"What a good uncle you are," Kara replied, smiling over at him, trying not to think about Tuhawks with a bad cold.

"Yeah, I am a damn good uncle... and maybe I am just damn good. Want to race?"

Kara raised an eyebrow at his humor. "Yes, Mr. Damn Good, I do."

And with that said, she squeezed Manuka tightly and her white Arabian burst forth with an amazing quickness. They raced flat out to the base of the mountain through the tall grass, almost a tie, Kara just a bit ahead. Hawks signaled for her to stop and she deftly circled Manuka in a wide arc, slowing her mount and making each subsequent circle smaller until it seemed the animal was nose to flank. Opening up the circle in the opposite direction, Kara walked her horse to cool her, with Hawks and his mount right beside her.

"You know what happens when you try to trick an Indian?" he began, and then it seemed as if the whole world ceased moving. Kara glanced over at him as he took his handkerchief out and tipped his head back. "Ha, Huh, Hutchoooo, Huheeeessssh," he sneezed forcefully.

Kara moaned, "Mmm, bless you, baby." She could not help it, nor was she able to hide her arousal.

Hawks looked at her curiously. This was a woman clearly ready to be loved. "Thank you," he breathed smiling at her.

"You're welcome... Um, Bodhi?"

"Yes, beauty?"

"Seriously, are you okay? I mean, I don't think you ever sneeze quite like that or this often. I mean, your nephews were sick and..."

Hawks leaned over and grabbed her hand with his free hand. "I'm just fine, Kara, I've a little tickle in my nose, is all."

The heat from his hand on her skin warmed her to the core and made her wish she were riding on him rather than next to him.

Smiling up at him, she confessed, "I am glad to hear that, because as soon as we reach the cabin, I'm going to give you something in the form of pleasure you'll never forget."

"Mmm, now that is worth picking up the pace for," Hawks replied, smiling back at her.


The two rode up the trail to the Eastern-most slope and then continued off it to the last small ledge. They decided to stop briefly for lunch. The sun was high overhead and Hawks assessed his condition; his sinuses were more congested, but itched less and so the urge to sneeze had dissipated for the most part. To him, this was a good sign.

Dismounting, Hawks held Manuka's reigns for Kara to hop down. Kara let the reigns dangle so that Manuka could graze along with Tashunka on the sparse grass of the slope. She pulled a new blanket out of the saddlebag, placed it on the ground and sat, patting a spot next to her. Hawks stretched tall and shivered slightly before laying down with his head on Kara's lap and his arms folded across his chest. She handed him a sandwich.

"So, tell me more of this amazing cabin," he queried munching on the roast turkey, lettuce and tomato delight she had prepared.

Kara absently began to stroke his forehead as she regaled him with the details of last year's project,

"Well, the cabin has a solar powered hot water system, with a wood and propane stove, gas fridge, cooking and solar powered lighting panels. Hawks, these panes are amazing - they come in thin-film (amorphous) and crystalline (single and multi). Of course, there are advantages and tradeoffs with the various types. The crystalline are more efficient, so they take up less area for the same watts, but the unisolar thin film have no glass, and are almost unbreakable. Thin film panels also lose less power in high temperature areas, such as the desert Southwest. The thing is, up here they're just not good enough to be used alone, and so what we have is a very energy efficient home which is shaped like a large golf ball."

Hawks smiled, "So then, the white man has finally realized that there is worth to the sun beyond getting a tan, and there may actually be hope for mother earth after all?"

Kara tapped his forehead, "Don't be a jerk-off. These photovoltaic panels generate electricity directly from the sun's light, with no moving parts. They may be mounted on a fixed structure, or on a solar tracker that follows the sun to extend daily operation. So yes, the white man has found a way to harness the sun's amazing energy."

Hawks rolled over and pushed Kara to a prone position, "Jerk-off? I should- mmm-" Hawks turned his head abruptly "I, I... Huuuuheessshhhh! Hit chooo! Eeeeessshhhh! Excuse me. I should show you jerk-off, but that can wait."

"Bless you baby. Mmm, must it wait?" Kara asked hopefully, catching his long braid and pulling Hawks close to her to steal a kiss.

Hawks tried to pull back, but Kara held him close. "Hawks, kiss me."

Hawks complied, but rather than the passionate lip-lock Kara was seeking, he kissed each cheek gently, though lovingly, and her forehead as well. Kara began to fume inside - he kissed her like he would his damned sister. What the hell was this?

Rather than say anything she would regret later, she stood up quickly, nearly pushing Tuhawks off the blanket as she whisked it up and tucked it back in the saddlebag. "Okay Let's go," she flatly stated as she mounted and began moving up the trail.

Hawks was confused. What had just happened? What's more, he was gaining a fever and he knew it. He desperately did not want to have Kara exposed to this. He should not have come, but here he was. Mounting more weakly, Hawks urged Tashunka up beside Kara.

The girl, who a moment prior had been open and loving, was now an icy figure staring intently ahead at the trail. Hawks said nothing and sat very still, miserably riding next to her, shivering now and then. After a good two hours in silence of a slow steady ascent, Manuka's hindquarter slipped and sent a small pile of wet earth and rock crumbling down the mountain.

Kara immediately stopped and gently dismounted. Looking at Hawks, she saw that he looked a little pale, but she said nothing of it to him.

"Okay," he cleared his throat and sniffed, stiffly dismounting, "We'll lead from here."

"Sounds good to me," Kara replied unenthusiastically. She took the lead, slowly moving up the hillside.

Hawks knew he should be warm, but he was freezing. He took his woolen poncho out of his pack and pulled it on over his head. 'That should do it,' he thought as he shivered uncontrollably and trekked up the hillside.

The sun's rays threw long shadows as the pair finally reached the crest.

Kara led Manuka just over the ridge and then let the reigns go; from here, her horse knew exactly where home was just down into the valley. Kara stood on the crest line and watched Hawks trudge up to her. Something was not right about the way he moved - he seemed to be walking gingerly, but she said nothing and continued to silently observe his progress. The sun was going down fast now, painting the sky in an incredible canvas of color as it began it's descent of the day, appearing as if it was climbing back down as they reached the top.

From their position on the crest, the distance they had traveled in a day was impressive. The silence amazing, the view unparalleled, placed everything into incredible simplistic perspective and washed away all the irritation Kara had been feeling. Reaching out her hand to Hawks, she nearly pulled back from the hot grasp that met her touch and instantly put the back of her hand to his cheek.

"Bodhi," she said his name with such a tender scolding that he smiled at her sheepishly and did not pull away. "You ARE sick."

Hawks wanted nothing more than to collapse and hug her around her knees. He looked at her for a moment, contemplating a reply when his nose gave him the only answer necessary. Cupping his hands, he barely covered his mouth in time. "HuuuuhEeeeessshhh! Eeeessshhhh! Huh, huh essshh."

"Bless you," Kara said, the back of her hand resting upon his fevered brow.

Hawks looked down, feeling like a child caught stealing a cookie as Kara took up Tashunka's reigns and sent her after Manuka with a soft chirping sound. As for Hawks, she grabbed hold of his arm and said,

"Why didn't you tell me you were getting sick? Here I am wondering why the hell you're kissing me like I'm your sister, and you're fibbing to me telling me it's only a tickle. Hawks, you're sick and should be in bed, in a proper warm bed. Lame, Hawks - really lame." It was all she could say to him, but finally his actions made sense.

Hawks felt awful: his sinuses ached and his throat was sore. Talking was the last thing he wanted to do, but he felt he had to explain, "I didn't want you to be up here alone," he began, and then realized that was a complete lie. "No, that's not it, Kara. I... I didn't want to be without you all winter. I knew that you had deadlines to begin taking measurements before the first snowfall. I knew that you needed to get up here this week at the very latest. I just didn't want you to go alone. I guess I thought I could talk myself out of getting sick."

Kara looked at him with mock disbelief. "Oh, you did, did you? Tell me how that works, Native? This talking yourself out of coming down with a cold?"

Hawks sniffed and titled his head back. "Atttchewwww, eeesssssh," he sneezed into the crook of his arm. "Um, it doesn't."

Kara patted his shoulder and then hugged him close. "Oh Bodhi, I love you."

Her words hit him like thunder and he bent to kiss her forehead, the tip of her nose and her cheek, but Kara turned her head and kissed his mouth full on his broad lips. At first he resisted and began to protest until Kara held his fevered face between her hands saying,

"Hawks, I don't care - now kiss me damn it, lest I decide to pitch you off the crest line."

Taking his arm gently, Kara led Hawks into the valley and toward the cabin she hoped to one day call their own, where she could properly care for her stubborn yet wonderful Native American boyfriend.