Author: LynnEGib PM
What if Sully had left Colorado Springs before Michaela returned from BostonRated: Fiction K - English - Words: 5,607 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 3 - Published: 02-24-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5772250
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
What if Sully had left Colorado Springs before Michaela and the kids returned in Where The Heart Is?
Sully sat back down on the bench seat in the train's compartment with a thud as he stared at the spot where Michaela had just run away from him before the train took off. He wondered why she hadn't come with him. He had finally told her how he felt, but she hadn't said it back. It was true that he hadn't really worked up the courage to tell her he loved her; he had said it while they were arguing. It wasn't the most romantic way, but he did finally tell her. A tear rolled down Sully's cheek as he realized he would never see her again. He had been too late in telling her of his love. More tears fell as he thought he had lost Michaela, his heartsong, for good. As his long train ride continued across the plains to reach his western home Sully realized he had no reason to stay in Colorado Springs anymore. Without Michaela there he might as well move on.
The longer his trip took the more depressed Sully became. By the time he arrived in Colorado Springs and stepped out of the stagecoach his heart was in pieces, and his mind was set to leave this place. As he headed down to the livery to talk to Robert E. he saw the clinic and wondered if Michaela would send for her things there and sell the building to another doctor. To himself Sully thought, "That's Michaela's responsibity to deal with her things and building and to tell the town she wasn't returning; not mine."
As soon as Robert E. spotted Sully, a big smile crossed his face, and when Sully arrived Robert E gave him a big hug and said, "Welcome home! I missed you." As Robert E pulled back and saw Sully's face he asked, "What's wrong, Sully?"
Sully looked at his friend and whispered, "She is not coming back."
Stunned, Robert E questioned him, "Are you sure?"
Sully nodded yes. "She has found a doctor that supports her being a doctor in the Boston society, and he has even proposed to her. She is happy and has everything she could ever want there."
Robert E swallowed the lump in his throat and asked his friend, "What are you going to do now?"
With a sad look on his face Sully responded, "I don't really know, but I can't stay here! Robert E, you have been a good friend to me; I couldn't ask for better. You take all the animals you have been taking care of for her. I will keep my horse and I will take Flash back to the Cheyenne."
After speaking to Robert E. Sully hopped on his horse and rode off, to say good bye to his family, the Cheyenne, leading Flash. Sully and the little Indian pony, Flash, were quite a pair. They both walked away from town with their heads hanging down, they both knew they would never see their soul mate again. They both felt that their spirit was connected to the woman from Boston who arrived in town a couple of years ago and fell in the mud.
As Sully left Colorado Springs he didn't stop at the homestead that he had built for Abigail. He left it before with all its contents, and he did it again. As he rode slowly into the Cheyenne camp Cloud Dancing came out of his teepee and knew immediately something was wrong as he saw Sully arrive leading Flash. When he got to them Sully handed Flash's rope to Snowbird and clasped his brother's forearm.
Cloud Dancing said, "Eat with us and then we talk."
Sully followed his brother's lead and sat by their fire with Cloud Dancing while Snowbird served them their evening meal. Cloud Dancing took the lead by saying, "You don't have to leave; you could live here with us again."
"Cloud Dancing, I can't. I see her everywhere I look around here."
Cloud Dancing shook his head in understanding.
Snowbird, who really cared for Dr. Mike asked, "Are you sure she will never comeback? The spirits haven't told Cloud Dancing that yet."
"I'm sure, Snowbird. She is fully back in Boston society. When she came here she couldn't be a doctor back there. She had no one to support her after her father died. Now she has everything she has always dreamed of. She is able to practice medicine and has a man who wants to marry her and will support her in her career and in the lifestyle she was born to. She has all the money she will ever need and her family is near bye. She will never return."
Cloud Dancing wasn't so sure, but knew he would never convince his brother at this time. "Do you know where you will go? I do not want you to just wander, give up on life and not take care of yourself as before. It took Wolf and my people to save your life that time. If you leave here we won't be there to help next time, and I don't think Wolf can do it by himself. May I suggest you head for the Black Hills? I know it is a long way from here, but it is a sacred place to the Cheyenne for vision quests. The spirits always help the one who goes there to meet them since it shows how serious the need is. The spirits will show you what direction your life should take next. I am sure your life is not over as you feel now. You are young and strong, and there is something very special left for you to do with the life the spirits have given you."
Sully shrugged his shoulders at his Cheyenne brother. "Fine, I will head for the Black Hills; I don't care where I go. I don't see anything left for me in this life, but if you want me to go there, I will."
Cloud Dancing smiled and said, "I will feel better when you have a goal, a direction where to travel rather than you just wandering around. I will ask the spirits to speak to you when you set up your sweat lodge in the Black Hills and put you on the right path for the rest of your life journey, my brother. Stay here tonight with us and start fresh in the morning."
Sully agreed and went into Cloud Dancing and Snowbird's teepee to rest up for his trip.
Back in Boston, after getting off Sully's train, Michaela went straight to the ticket office and bought four tickets for Colorado Springs. In her mind she continued hearing Sully say he loved her, which kept a smile on her face as she prepared for their trip. William was sad, but understood she was in love with Sully. The children were happy that they were going home, and her mother took the news better than Michaela thought she would. The next train to Denver after Sully's was in three days and Michaela and the children would be ready by then. As the long trip rolled on Michaela often stayed up worrying when the children fell asleep. Was she going to be too late? Would Sully have left Colorado Springs before they get home? Why hadn't she said 'I love you' back on the train when Sully did? Why hadn't she told him that she would return home to him as soon as she fetched the children and said good-bye to her Mother and Rebecca?
When Michaela and her children arrived in Denver their stagecoach was waiting since the train was a little late. They were all tired of traveling, but were really looking forward to going home so they just moved their luggage and climbed in the stagecoach.
The citizens of Colorado Springs were happy to see their doctor return with her family. Michaela searched the town with her eyes, looking for Sully but didn't see him. She hoped he just wasn't in town, not gone. She turned around to identify their luggage so it could be brought down. As the children greeted their friends Michaela went over to her clinic and peeked inside. It needed a good cleaning, but otherwise looked just the same which brought a smile to her lips. The family retrieved their wagon from Robert E. who had stored it for them to take their luggage and the new supplies they just bought from Loren back to the homestead. After all of this traveling and greeting practically everyone in town the little family was very tired and went to bed right after dinner.
The next morning after breakfast Matthew was anxious to get to Ingrid so he was willing to take the children into town to be with their friends, too. Michaela decided to go to the reservation before the clinic so as to see what the Cheyenne might need before she ordered supplies for her clinic. This was her good excuse, but in reality she wanted to see if Sully was there. She so wanted to tell Sully that she loved him too, but her hope of seeing him again was fading fast. Flash wasn't in the barn which broke Michaela's heart. She loved that little Indian pony. The saddle with her name on it was still there, but no horse. She wondered what might have happened to Flash.
Seeing her mother's dilemma, the children offered to walk into town so she could take Bear to get the Reservation. Sighing silently, Michaela realized they were going to have to get another horse. Both she and Matthew needed one.
As Michaela rode onto the reservation Cloud Dancing and Snowbird were the first to see her. They greeted her with a big smile, happy that she had returned. As she approached them the couple noticed that her eyes were searching the camp. They assumed it was for Sully, but of course she would be disappointed.
The first thing Michaela asked though was what they might need from her so she could bring it during her next visit. Of course Cloud Dancing knew what she was doing but still told her how pleased they were that she was back and that they missed her. Michaela smiled at the warm welcome.
Yet then the Indian came to the point, "Dr. Mike, we thought you weren't returning here."
Surprised, but wondering if Sully had told them that, Michaela assured them, "I was thrilled that I was able to help my mother get well with your liver detoxifying tea, and I enjoyed visiting my family, but my heart is here - and home is where the heart is."
"We are pleased you feel that way so I want to give Flash back to you." With that, Snowbird led the horse to Michaela.
As soon as the doctor and Flash saw each other one could observe them reconnect. Cloud Dancing and Snowbird were pleased witnessing this.
Michaela wanted to ask them if they had seen Sully, but was very nervous about it. Cloud Dancing put her out of her misery by telling her that Sully had visited them just a few days ago. Michaela's change in facial expression indicated her desire to see Sully. Cloud Dancing and Snowbird knew they would have to deliver the hard news about Sully's location. Snowbird invited Dr. Mike to sit with them so they could explain. "Sully had come to us saying that you were never going to return," the medicine man said. The Cheyenne couple could see the tears form in Michaela's eyes. "He told us that he finally told you that he loved you and you just ran away," Cloud Dancing added.
"But he told me this at the only place that I couldn't do anything: when his train pulled out of the Boston Station," Michaela defended. "I had to get my children. I had to say good-bye to my family. I left on the very next train to return here to Sully. There wasn't anything more I could do."
Snowbird took Dr. Mike into her arms as Michaela's tears started to fall. "I've lost him forever," moaned Michaela.
Cloud Dancing tried to reassure her by saying, "I don't think so, and I believe he will return to you."
Michael looked up straight into Cloud Dancing's eyes. "You really think so? You said he believed I would stay in Boston."
Dr. Mike left the reservation with a heavy heart. She felt that she had lost Sully for good just as she had learned that they loved each other, and that thought caused tears to flow down her cheeks. As she traveled back to the homestead and her children there was a flicker of hope in the back of her heart. Cloud Dancing, the man who knew Sully the best in this world, thought he would return to her.
It was November and it hadn't rained for a long time. Everything was dead, crops and grasses alike. Most wells, including the one right outside the homestead were dry. They were hauling water up from the creek that was still flowing. It was hard work but they were all right. Some residents of Colorado Springs began to give up and leave this area due to the drought. Those that were still there, praying for rain, decided to gather at Grace's Café to celebrate Thanksgiving. They didn't have much food, but they made the best of it. Half way through Thanksgiving evening it actually started to rain. Everyone was so excited; they danced around, in relief, getting soaking wet. As Michaela and the children arrived back at the homestead they were wet and tired, but happy. They immediately said good night to each other and fell asleep quickly, all the children, but not Michaela. As usual for her since their return from Boston, she sat up listening, thinking, and praying. She could hear the regular breathing of Brian and Colleen mixed with the sound of the needed rain hitting the homestead's roof. She thought about Sully and how much she missed him. She thought of him every time she did anything. She thought how he would have helped her and supported her or how he would have done what needed to be done to make her life easier. However, he was gone now. She had lived without the love of a man her entire life and she could again.
The children noticed how sad their mother was. She put on a brave face with a big smile, but they knew how she was hurting without Sully. It didn't help that Grandma kept writing her about Boston and the fact that she could be a doctor there and that William was still there. Grandma said Michaela could have everything in Boston.
After the last letter their mother had read aloud Colleen finally asked what had been worrying all the children. "Are you going to move back to Boston since Sully is gone?"
The children held their breath, waiting for Dr. Mike to answer.
Looking at her children Michaela could see their worry. She smiled at them reassuring, "Colorado Springs is my home now and the three of you are my family. I will never move our family back to Boston, I promise!"
The children rushed to hug and kiss their Ma. They knew that just like Sully, Dr. Mike always kept her word. Colleen explained, "We were worried because you were so happy in Boston being a doctor with William, but when Sully left we felt that you came back here for him. We thought you might return to Boston because he has left Colorado Springs."
"I understand why you thought I would leave Colorado Springs," Michaela replied. "But let me assure you I will not. I love this town. It eventually took me as their doctor when nowhere else would. This is where I made my first real friend, your mother, and where we became a family. I had hoped that Sully would join our family, but I took too long to let him know how I felt and he has moved on. It is completely my fault that I lost the chance to be with Sully. Please don't think there was something you did or didn't do that caused Sully to leave because there wasn't. He has always cared for you three children even when your Ma was alive. I do believe he knows that I will take good care of you so he doesn't have to worry about you." Seeing the understanding in her children's eyes she continued, "Please keep in mind that I have been taking care of myself for most of my life. It was hard for me to let Sully become part of our family because I am so independent and that is why I lost a chance at happiness with him. When your Ma asked me to take care of her children I was alone and she knew I could be a good Ma for you even if I didn't realize it. Trust me; we will be all right and I will try to make us the best family for you that I can."
The children hugged her and reassured her that they knew they were lucky because they had the two best Ma's possible.
The next big event for the town was the Sweethearts Dance. Michaela definitely didn't have any intention to go, but she wanted her children to have a good time. She allowed Colleen to make a new dress and taught Brian how to dance in case he wanted to dance with a girl, although she thought he shouldn't already look after girls. Matthew, of course, was quite interested in Ingrid. She was very nice, but in Michaela's opinion they were far too young for them to worry about a serious relationship.
However, she decided to attend the dance so her children could go and have a good time and not be worried about her. She just moved about in the shadows on the outskirts of the dance area so no one would notice her and ask her to dance. She volunteered to work in Grace's booth selling food and drink so Grace and Robert E could enjoy some dances. As the evening wound down, Michaela and the children headed home in their wagon. The children had had a good time and were very excited to tell their Ma everything that happened. By the time they arrived back at the homestead the children were settling down, acknowledging they were tired. They didn't give their Ma any trouble about going to bed and fell right to sleep. Michaela went out on the porch to think. She realized that she was as lonely here in Colorado Springs as she had been in Boston. What she did tonight, hanging around the dance, was just what she did at the dances and balls in Boston. She was again the Quinn old maid and pitied that she could never attract a man. People still thought she was too smart and full of herself to be someone's wife.
As she at last moved inside from the homestead's porch to go to sleep, Michaela thought that this was just going to be her life, except she had the children now who brought so much joy into her life, and she could practice medicine as she had always dreamed. She had the whole town as her patient as well as the Cheyenne Reservation. She had earned their respect as a doctor. And not to forget there were also some good women friends who cared for her. These parts of her life sure made up for her loneliness at the dance. She really had found happiness here in the West, more than she had ever had in Boston where she not only had to fight to be a doctor but also with her mother to be allowed to be herself.
Meanwhile Sully had arrived at the Black Hills. He found the sacred place of the Cheyenne and made camp. After building a fire he cooked the small rabbit he had caught earlier. As he sat there, his head hung down while he stared into the flames. During this long trip the spirits didn't talk to him. However, he still hoped that Cloud Dancing was right and that this place would show him where he should go, what he should do with the rest of his life.
His first night there he had a dream about a train. When he awoke he tried to understand what the dream was trying to tell him. Was it the train from Boston he had just ridden for so many days? Or was he dreaming about the train where he told Michaela that he loved her and she said nothing and just ran away or was he dreaming of a new train being built? There were always rumors of the train coming to this area of Colorado, and he feared it would have a bad affect on his Cheyenne family. Was he supposed to go back to Colorado Springs to fight the railroad and help the Indians? The only thing he knew for sure was he wasn't dreaming of Michaela coming back by train because he was certain she never would. Why would a rich and elegant woman like her return to a poor man who dresses in buckskins?
Sully's depression was growing. He was slipping down into a deep dark hole.
The next day, Sully built a lean-to big enough for himself and Wolf. They hunted for their food and for skins to keep them warm at night. One night, as Sully stared into his fire with Wolf's head on his lap he started to think about why his brother, Cloud Dancing sent him here, to the Black Hills. He remembered his brother wanted him to have a goal, a destination, and that the Black Hills were sacred to the Cheyenne. Yet Sully began wondering why he just dreamed of trains at this place. What meaning did this hold for the rest of his life?
As Sully pondered he also recalled that Cloud Dancing had said that the spirits would talk to him in a sweat lodge. This memory eventually brought a smile to Sully's face. Maybe tomorrow he would see his future.
After a good night's sleep Sully awoke and started building a sweat lodge. He heated rocks and fetched the water he would need. When all was ready he settled in his lodge. While steam started to fill it he sprinkled the sacred herbs from his medicine pouch onto the rocks. As he felt the vision near, Sully lay down and let himself go where the spirits wanted to lead him. He saw Michaela sitting on the porch of his homestead with a tear running down her cheek. Had she come back to Colorado Springs? He also saw a train like the one in his former dreams, but now he knew it was a train that had brought his heartsong home.
When Sully at last left his vision and stumbled out of the sweat lodge he grabbed Wolf and forcefully petted his head saying, "Let's go home, boy!"
It took many days for Sully and Wolf to travel back to Colorado Springs. On his way his dreams changed again. Now they were nightmares. He couldn't read the symbols. He saw metal bars, but didn't know what or where they were. He saw a thick rope, but didn't see either end so he did not know where that was or what it was for. He saw his family, the Cheyenne, being very sad almost every morning. He saw them during different ceremonies on the reservation. All the ceremonies shown in his dreams were very serious ones. The tribe seemed to be praying very hard to the spirits for protection for someone. Who could it be that his entire tribe was trying to help so diligently? This person must be very important to them all and seemed to be in great danger. Sully had no idea who they were so concerned about. These nightmares he was having hurried him along to get home.
Back in Colorado Springs a troop of buffalo soldiers had arrived with orders to kill dog soldiers wherever they found them. When Michaela learned of these orders she rode out in the dark of the night to warn Cloud Dancing who asked her to keep spying on this troop and sending messages to the Cheyenne. Michaela was very uncomfortable in this role, but she worried about her friends and was therefore willing to do it.
When she learned the soldiers were planning to attack the village on the reservation at dawn she rode out to warn the Indians. She knew that many women and children would be killed if she didn't.
Still before the first daylight, he men rode out to intercept the soldiers while the women, including Dr. Mike, stayed in camp for safety. When the men started to return to camp Cloud Dancing handled their injuries there while Michaela went to the battleground to help wounded soldiers. When she was treating Sergeant Carver he asked her how she knew where to come to help their wounded.
She hesitated a moment but then admitted, "I didn't come to help you; I warned the Indians."
Carver was taken aback. "What?" he exclaimed.
Yet Michaela didn't waver. "I came because I overheard your plans and knew that the village was full with women and small children. I didn't want them to get killed."
Sergeant Carver stared at her for a long beat until he said, "Then you're under arrest."
He took her back to town, and when they arrived there the Sergeant locked her in the town's jail.
Michaela knew that, in the eyes of the army, she had committed treason, so she believed it was inevitable for her to be executed. She first needed to take care of her children; that was why she asked them to have Olive come to speak to her at the jail. Olive agreed to raise them if something happened to Michaela.
Next, Michaela wrote a letter to her oldest sister explaining what had happened. She figured here sister should tell their mother so as to soften the blow if Michaela was executed. She left her letter with Horace to be mailed if necessary.
A few Indians had stayed behind to keep an eye on the soldiers, and so they saw Dr. Mike being arrested and taken back to town. Cloud Dancing feared for her life and prayed to his spirits to help her as she had helped the tribe.
When Sully arrived at the tribe's village he was dirty and exhausted. He expected his brother would be interested in hearing about his vision quest. Instead Cloud Dancing just wanted to tell Sully what had happened to Michaela after she had risked everything to help the Cheyenne. Now Sully understood his visions and nightmares. Michaela had returned to Colorado Springs from Boston and taken his place as the champion of his family's rights. On the one hand Sully was very proud of Michaela, but on the other hand he was also very afraid for her having been arrested for treason.
Sully stayed at the village just long enough for him to get cleaned up and to eat something. He also had to feed his horse and let it rest. As soon as he could he headed for town trying to figure out how to free his heartsong.
First Sully slipped in to see Robert E and Grace. He learned that Michaela had not had a trial yet, but everyone thought that was just a formality and that she would be executed sooner rather than later. Robert E told Sully that the Reverend had been collecting money from everyone in town to hire a lawyer for Dr. Mike. Sully was surprised that the town was rallying around Michaela in spite of her helping the Indians. Next Sully snuck into the church to talk to the Reverend. Much to Sully's amazement he was told that the town had raised $1000 for Dr. Quinn's defense fund.
When Sully finally arrived at the jail he had to leave his tomahawk outside with the guard before he was allowed to go inside and visit Michaela. When Michaela and Sully saw each other for the first time since Sully's confession their hearts started to pound in their chests.
"You came back from Boston," he eventually stated.
"Of course I did, I love you, but you left me," she instantly replied.
"I am sorry; I didn't believe you would come back to a man like me," he admitted, yet then it was as if her last words only now reached him. "You love me?" he wanted to know.
A smile grew on Michaela's face as she reassured him, "Yes, I love you, but I am sorry you find me like this. It seems we are destined to ever be apart."
"I don't believe that, Michaela, we are soul mates," he contradicted. "If they execute you they will be executing me; I can't live without you."
"No Sully, please help Olive with my children if I am not here. Please," she looked at him pleadingly.
"Well I guess the only way to solve this is to get you released so we can be together forever. Do you know that the town has raised $1000 to hire a lawyer for you?" he asked.
"They have even though they don't have that kind of money and hate the Indians?" Michaela frowned in disbelief.
"I guess they love their doctor more," Sully simply stated.
A smile appeared on Michaela's face when she realized he was right.
At that point the guard told them that they had only 5 more minutes left from the visiting time. Sully went over to the bars and tenderly reached through them. He brought Michaela's face up to him and they shared their first kiss through the jail cell's bars. His parting words to Michaela as the guard forced him to leave were, "I'll figure something out; I promise."
Michaela felt hope for the first time since her arrest because she knew Sully always kept his word. As she lay down on the jail's cot she fell asleep with a smile on her face.
Sully sought out the soldier in charge in Colorado Springs. He tricked him to coming out with him to the reservation to meet Black Kettle. Sully hoped that if he met the Cheyenne, the soldier would realize that his orders to kill them were wrong and Michaela's warning them was right.
However, before the town could hire that lawyer a new higher-ranking officer arrived in Colorado Springs who asked the original officer in charge to bring the prisoner, Michaela, before him. When the sergeant was asked why he had charged her with treason he shocked the whole town by saying a mistake had been made, and without further ado Michaela was released. The Cooper children, her children, ran up to her and the reunited family hugged. Michaela looked up and saw Sully with a big grin spreading across his entire face. She smiled back at him realizing he had done something to save her just like he had promised.
Later that evening, after the children were tucked in bed, Michaela and Sully sat on the front porch of the homestead. He apologized to her for not trusting her love for him and leaving her alone for so long. He thanked her for saving his Cheyenne family while he was gone and she thanked him for saving her life. Sully then slipped down from the porch and onto one knee. He took her hand as tears started to run down her face. He said that he did not deserve her, but he loved her and would spend the rest of his life loving her and doing everything he could to make her happy. He would always support her as a doctor and anything else she wanted to do. He would love to be a father to her children and maybe to any future children they might have.
"Will you marry me?" he eventually asked, searching her eyes.
Her response was immediate and positive. Their engagement was sealed with a passion filled kiss. They didn't know her children were peeking out the window with big grins for seeing them so happy together. They realized a new very happy family was forming and they were very pleased.
Back on the Indian reservation Cloud Dancing told Snowbird that the spirits had saved Dr. Mike and reunited her with Sully. They had told him it was their will for them to be as happy as he and Snowbird were which made Snowbird's face glow with joy.