Disclaimer: I do not own the characters from Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. The rights to those characters and to the show belong to the creators of the show, to CBS, The Sullivan Company and to A&E. This is the sequel to "Rock-a-Bye."
Life Goes On
Chapter 1: Home Sweet Home
Holly's eyes couldn't move from the child standing only a few feet away from her. The little girl looked frightened, but once she realized who the woman in front of her was, she looked around at everyone else. Her eyes came back to Holly's. She noticed that the woman was crying.
Ten long years. It had been ten painfully long years since Holly had seen this little girl, and here she was.
"Did ya say somethin'?" Horace asked after Holly uttered her daughter's name. Holly couldn't speak. She was at a loss for words, and she thought that if she made a move or batted an eye, she would wake from this dream. "Holly?" Nobody else had witnessed this private reunion, but everyone looked when Mary jumped off of the wagon and ran to Holly. She clung to the young woman's skirt and began to sob. Holly gasped and her hands immediately went to stroke the sobbing child's back.
"Well, Miss Tucker," Reverend Johnson said softly, "this young lady seems to have taken a liking to you. Come along dear." He went to pull the child away from Holly.
"No!" Holly exclaimed. The townsfolk were taken aback. "Let me take her."
"If you want her, you are more than welcome to have her, but are you sure you want to take on this responsibility?" Holly knelt down and the little girl cried and looked into Holly's eyes.
"Mary?" Holly whispered, leaning her forehead against the small child's. The little girl nodded.
"What's she sayin'?" came a whisper from the crowd. Holly smiled and stood up, picking the child up into her arms.
"Reverend Johnson, you don't have to look for a home for this child. She already has one." Horace looked at Holly with a dumbfounded expression upon his face. Holly walked off with the little girl while the rest of the townsfolk stared after her, including Horace.
"Mary, I can't believe it's you," Holly whispered as she walked with the child in her arms.
"Is it really you, mama? You're the lady from my locket?"
"Yes sweetheart," Holly whispered. "It's me. I gave that to you on the night you were born." The little girl wrapped her arms around Holly's neck and held her tightly. Holly was crying now, and she couldn't believe the miracle that God had given her. She had a little girl, and even though she had been separated from that child, God had brought her back to her. It only went to prove that Holly's father never should have separated them.
Horace rushed after Holly.
"Holly! Are ya sure ya wanna be doin' this?" Horace asked slowly as he looked at the colored child she was carrying.
"You don't understand, Horace," Holly sobbed.
"Help me understand, then." Holly swallowed hard and looked into his eyes.
"I'll explain it all to you later." She gently let the little girl down but kept a gentle hold on her hand. The little girl was drying her tears on the sleeves of her dress.
"Please explain it to me now," Horace replied. "I know you're a good person and all, wantin' to take in a child, but are ya sure this is the . . ."
"Don't go there, Horace!" Holly exclaimed. She walked into the telegraph office with the little girl. Horace walked in behind her and closed the door.
"Holly, what's goin' on?"
"She's my daughter."
"What?" Horace asked, furrowing his brows. Holly took a deep breath and swallowed hard.
"Her name is Mary. She's my daughter, and I haven't seen her since the night she was born."
"What?" Horace asked quickly. He glanced down at little Mary. Mary ran to hide in the other room.
"Mary! Wait!" Holly exclaimed. She rushed to find her daughter, and Horace rushed after her. "Mary, sweetheart, please . . ." Mary was trying desperately to open the back door. Holly scooped her up into her arms and held her close.
"Don't give me away," Mary cried.
"Shh," Holly soothed, her heart breaking at her little girl's words. "You're not goin' anywhere."
"She's your daughter? How's that possible?" Holly sat down and Horace slowly sat down across from her.
"Her father was a slave on my father's plantation. He and I fell in love and nine months later, she was born. My father sold her against my wishes." The little girl tightened her hold on Holly, and Horace watched the way Holly cared for her. She was very maternal, and he began to wonder if perhaps this really was her little girl. The little girl seemed very attached to Holly, and they had only met a few minutes ago.
"You're tellin' the truth, aren't ya?" Horace asked, removing his hat and scratching his head. Holly nodded with tears in her eyes, and she seemed to pull the little girl closer, not wanting to lose her again.
"I'll leave you alone now, Horace. I'll understand if you want to stop courting me." Holly stood with Mary in her arms. The little girl was still shaking and crying. She knew that she loved Horace, but she couldn't lose her daughter again because the man she loved didn't think it was right for her to raise a child that was half-colored. Perhaps she was jumping to conclusions. Maybe he was just confused and bewildered by this new information. She couldn't handle standing in front of him, watching him stare at her and her child. She shook her head and cleared her throat, gently patting her daughter's back. "It's all right, my love. You're safe now." She started for the door, and Horace wasn't sure what to think. He did know that he didn't want to lose another woman whom he cared for. He loved Holly, and he couldn't lose her over this.
The sun shone down on the new family as they rode along the countryside in the wagon. Sully was holding onto the reins while his wife sat in the front of the wagon with newborns Daniel and Connor in her arms.
Both of the new parents were in complete and utter astonishment because of the day's events. They were completely beside themselves and in love with their new bundles of joy. Sully couldn't believe that he had been blessed with such a wonderful wife, and that the delivery of their sons had gone smoothly and nobody had been sick or worse. Things were just as wonderful for Michaela, who couldn't she had actually experienced the miracle of birth. She had delivered so many babies in her career as a doctor, but she never knew until now what it was like to hold a life in your arms for the first time after carrying it around inside for nine months. She felt as if she were on cloud nine, because she had gotten to experience that twice, and it was wonderful despite all of the pain.
Sully had stopped the horses at one point to allow Michaela to properly feed the twins their first meals. He held Daniel while she fed Connor, and they traded babies once Connor seemed to be happy and full. Once Michaela and the boys adjusted to the new task of breastfeeding, the meal was finished in record time so the family could carry on back toward home.
"Should we stop in town first, or go to the homestead?" Sully asked after awhile of silence. He looked at his perfect little sons who were both bundled up inside of his coat. He looked up at Michaela who sucked in a deep breath.
"It's getting late. We should go to the homestead. I'm getting rather tired, and I'm sure the boys are too. We can go into town in the morning." Michaela yawned and pulled her children closer. Connor and Daniel were good sleepers, but Michaela was sure that they were sleeping so they could be awake all night.
Sully turned down the road toward the homestead, and they were both relieved when they saw the roof of the barn.
"We're almost home, boys," Sully said proudly to his sleeping sons. Sully pulled the wagon around the bend and parked it in front of the house. They were surprised when nobody came rushing out to greet them. Sully took the bundled up boys into his arms. He put them down into the back of the wagon before he helped Michaela out. Michaela picked up Connor and Daniel, smiling with contentment. She was glad to finally be home!
"Welcome home boys," Michaela said softly. Sully opened the front door and let Michaela walk in first. She stepped into the house, and was surprised when the only sound was that of Wolf and Pup's whining to be let out. The two wolves rushed outside. Michaela looked at Sully and smiled.
"I guess we're home alone. Apparently our surprise will have to wait until later. Why don't we go put these boys into some clothes and let them get some sleep in their cradles?"
"Sounds like a plan. I want you to get to bed though," Sully suggested. "You've had a big day."
"I'd like to start taking my dresses in."
"Well, as long as you're relaxin', I don't see no harm in it. Sully and Michaela walked upstairs with the boys. Michaela took it extra slow due to the fact that she had just given birth to two children. They placed the children down on their bed.
"Alright, how are we going to tell them apart?" Sully asked.
"Well, they're identical, so it's going to be difficult, but Daniel has the tiny birthmark on the bottom of his foot." Sully smiled and looked at Daniel's little foot. He compared it to Connor's and laughed.
"You're right." Michaela walked over to a drawer and pulled out two diapers and two sleepers. She handed one diaper to Sully, along with the pins, and she started to put Connor's on. Sully felt a bit embarrassed because he'd never changed a diaper before.
"Just watch me." Sully followed Michaela's lead, and soon, he had the diaper on his son like an old pro. The boys were dressed, Daniel wearing a white sleeping gown while Connor's was pale blue. Michaela put pairs of booties on both of them, blue on Connor and white on Daniel.
"Just remember than Connor is in blue," Michaela said with a smile. Sully kissed Michaela softly. "Thank you for giving me our boys, Sully."
"You're a good ma, Michaela."
"And you're a good pa." They embraced one another until Connor began to fuss. Michaela picked him up and Sully watched her rock him back and forth. He loved how she doted on the children already and they were only hours old. She had this natural talent at motherhood, and Sully could see it as plain as day.
"I'll be right back," Sully said softly. He picked up the two cradles and took them downstairs. He put the cradles in front of the fireplace, between the two wing-backed chairs. He started a fire in the fireplace, because now that it was September, the evenings grew cold early.
When Sully re-joined Michaela in their bedroom, he found that she had changed her clothes and then wrapped both boys in two beautiful white baby blankets which she herself had knitted during the pregnancy.
"Will you take Connor?" she asked. "Let's take our boys downstairs."
"Alright," Sully replied with a smile. "I put the cradles downstairs so we can watch them sleep." Michaela was holding onto her sewing bag, which she had stuffed with some of her dresses to take in. They started down the stairs with their new children in town, and placed them down in their cradles.
"Look at them, Sully. They're perfect."
"Just like I expected," Sully whispered, pulling his wife into his arms. Michaela wrapped her arms around Sully's neck.
"We had better enjoy this quiet," Michaela whispered. "Because this house is never going to be quiet again." Sully pulled Michaela close and was careful with her, knowing she had to be incredibly sore.
"How do you feel?
"Wonderful," she whispered with a heavy sigh and a smile. Sully noticed something on the mantle. He pulled a note off of it. "What is it?"
"It's from your ma. She and the kids went into town to have dinner with your pa since we weren't back before lunch like you promised. She also said that if we aren't home by the time they get here, she's going to send out a search part." Michaela chuckled.
"Oh mother." She shook her head and Sully crumpled the note up and threw it into the fire.
"Boy is she in for a surprise when she gets here, huh?"
"I think everyone will be." Michaela let out a yawn, and Sully kissed her forehead.
"Why don't ya go upstairs to bed?"
"I don't want to leave the boys."
"I'll bring the boys up," Sully promised. He gave Michaela a loving kiss and rubbed her back a little.
"Alright," she finally decided. "I'll go lie down." Michaela slowly started up the stairs, and Sully carried the boys up in their cradles one by one. As soon as he had them safely upstairs, he stared a fire in the fireplace and helped Michaela get under the covers. "I'm not helpless, Sully."
"I know, but you just gave birth to my children. The least I can do is make sure you're comfortable. He gave Michaela a kiss and pulled the covers over her. Then, he brought Connor and Daniel over and placed them in her arms one at a time. He kissed the both of them and Michaela again before he left them to nap in privacy.
Sully started downstairs to fix something for the two of them to eat for dinner when he heard a wagon approaching. He smiled and walked over to the door. He opened it up to find Josef, Elizabeth, Matthew, Colleen, and Brian piling out.
"Sully!" Elizabeth exclaimed. "We were dreadfully worried!"
"Don't worry. Everything's fine," Sully promised. Elizabeth handed him a basket.
"Here are some leftovers from Grace's."
"Thanks," Sully replied, putting the basket aside on the dinner table. Josef and the children walked into the house.
"Where is Michaela?" Elizabeth wondered.
"They're upstairs napping."
"They?" Colleen asked slowly. Sully smiled with pride and cleared his throat.
"She went into labor while we were out in the woods. She's napping now."
"Oh my gosh!" Colleen exclaimed.
"The baby's here?!" Matthew asked.
"Was it a boy or a girl?" Brian asked hopefully. Sully laughed.
"Why don't ya come upstairs and find out?" Sully led the children upstairs and Elizabeth and Josef stared at each other with wide-open mouths before they picked up the rear and followed the family upstairs.
Michaela hadn't fallen asleep yet, and she heard footsteps coming up the stairs. She pulled the twins close and they continued to sleep in her arms. Sully opened the door and poked his head in.
"You ready for visitors?"
"Did you tell them?"
"We've still got that surprise," he said with a wink. Michaela grinned and sat up in bed. She leaned against the headboard and situated the newborn boys in her arms. Sully came in to sit on the edge of the bed beside his wife. A moment later, the children, Elizabeth, and Josef made their way into the room.
"Oh my gosh!" Colleen exclaimed, seeing that her mother was holding not one but two babies. "Twins!"
"Two?!" Brian asked.
"Didn't ya know?" Matthew asked.
"Michaela!" Elizabeth exclaimed, sitting down at her daughter's side. "They're beautiful!"
"Thank you mother," Michaela replied softly.
"Mike, you're a doctor! You didn't know you were having twins?" Michael and Sully snuck each other knowing glances.
"Actually," Sully began, "we've known for months now. We heard two heartbeats, but we wanted to keep it a secret."
"Why on earth would you want to do that?" Elizabeth asked, standing up.
"We thought it would be a wonderful surprise for everyone," Michaela replied.
"Surprise is right," Matthew laughed.
"I hope nobody's terribly upset that we didn't tell anyone," Michaela said with a smile. "We wanted it to be a little secret."
"They're beautiful, ma," Colleen said with a grin. "I'm not mad."
"Me either," Brian replied.
"Neither am I," Matthew said with a laugh. "Just surprised is all."
"So are they boys or girls?" Colleen asked. Michaela grinned and looked at Sully. Sully pointed out the children.
"Kids, your ma and I'd like ya to meet Daniel Josef Sully and Connor Michael Cooper Sully."
"Two boys?!" Brian asked. "I have two little brothers?"
"That's right," Sully replied with a proud smile.
"You're still gonna have more, right? I'm glad I have two more brothers, but I want a sister too!" Colleen explained. Michaela laughed. "Can I hold on?"
"Of course," Michaela replied. Colleen took little Daniel into her arms. Matthew picked up little Connor."
"Why'd ya give him Cooper as a middle name?" Matthew asked
"In honor of your real mother," Michaela replied with a smile. The children all grinned and looked at their new little brothers.
"I wanna hold one," Brian said. "Ma? Why didn't ya have three?" Everyone began to laugh.
"Come along. I want to give your mother a proper examination," Josef said quickly. "I want to make sure that she and your little brothers are in tip-top condition."
"Father, that isn't necessary," Michaela began.
"Of course it is," Josef replied. "Come along, children." The children handed the twins back to Sully, and he put them down in their cradles. Everyone left the room so Josef could give the new mother and babies a proper examination. The children were full of questions, and Sully promised that they would all be answered in the morning after he and Michaela had some time to rest.
As they were starting to walk down the stairs, Elizabeth touched Sully's arm. Sully turned to her as they stood at the top of the stairs.
"What is it?"
"Why did you lie?"
"We wanted it to be a surprise."
"I'm very happy and very surprised that I have two new grandsons, but what worries me is the fact that the two of you went out into the middle of the woods, knowing Michaela was carrying twins, and you ended up delivering them out there."
"Elizabeth, everything went fine. We really didn't think it was going to happen today."
"But it did! My daughter could have died out there!"
"Elizabeth, I'm sorry we worried ya, but we didn't think it was gonna happen. I was never so scared in my whole life, but when I saw my boys for the first time, I knew that everything was okay. They're fine and so is Michaela."
"I don't know what I would have done if I had lost her."
"I ain't gonna let that happen. I love your daughter. I'd never hurt her. I'm gonna take care of her as long as she needs me to, and I ain't ever gonna risk losin' her. I can't take that risk." Elizabeth knew Sully was sincere. She gave her son-in-law a hug.
"Thank you for delivering my grandsons safely. Thank you for taking care of my little girl."
"I'll always take care of 'em," Sully replied, "even though Michaela can take care of herself."
"That's very true," Elizabeth said with a laugh. Josef walked out of the bedroom with a smile on his face.
"Mike and the boys are fine," he said. "They're very healthy and just need a little rest. Elizabeth, she's asking for you." Elizabeth nodded and went to join her daughter and grandsons.
"Son, I'm proud of ya," Josef said with a smile. "You did an excellent job today."
"I just did what Michaela told me to do."
"Well, she's very lucky that you were there." Josef and Sully started down the stairs.
Elizabeth shut the door to her daughter's room and smiled when she saw her daughter resting comfortably. She looked over to see the boys sleeping in their cradles.
"I'm proud of you, Michaela." Elizabeth sat down in a chair next to her daughter's bed.
"That was the most terrifying experience of my entire life," Michaela admitted. "But it was also the most wonderful."
"I'm so happy for you and Sully. You have two beautiful sons, and they're healthy and happy."
"Thank you for helping out around the house," Michaela said softly. "I really appreciate all that you've done for me."
"It was the least I could do. You were the one bringing my grandchildren into the world. I know I was always hounding you to get married and have children. I'm so glad you found the right man and have given me the most wonderful grandchildren. Not only do I have four new grandsons and a granddaughter." Michaela smiled when her mother acknowledged Matthew, Colleen, and Brian.
"Thank you," Michaela whispered.
"You get some rest, my dear," Elizabeth urged. "You've had a busy day."
"Will you send Sully and the children in?"
"Of course," Elizabeth replied. She left the room, and a few minutes later, the children and Sully walked in.
"We have gifts for the babies," Brian said with a smile.
"That's very nice," Michaela said with tears in her eyes. Sully picked up Connor and handed him to Michaela. He then picked up Daniel and joined Michaela on the bed. Brian handed one dream catcher to Sully and one to Michaela.
"You already knew I was makin' these, but I thought the babies might like 'em. Now they'll be safe when they sleep."
"Thank you Brian. That was very thoughtful," Michaela said softly. Brian gave his brother's a kiss on top of their heads and gave Michaela a kiss on the cheek.
"I ordered lots of diapers and blankets," Colleen said, handing Sully a large package.
"I figured they'd come in handy."
"Yes, thank you," Michaela laughed.
"I also made a few small blankets." She handed the beautifully knitted blankets to Michaela.
"They're beautiful!" Michaela exclaimed softly. She rubbed a corner of the blanket on Connor's cheek and he cooed in his sleep.
"And I didn't know what to get," Matthew confessed, "but I finally decided that you'd need somethin' to keep the baby in when ya go back to work at the clinic. I ordered a cradle for the clinic, but I think it's big enough to fit both of 'em."
"Oh, Matthew, thank you so much," Michaela said softly. Matthew leaned down to kiss his mother's cheek.
"Congratulations." Little Daniel decided that it was too quiet on the room, she he decided to add some noise. He began to fuss, and a moment later he was screaming at the top of his lungs.
"What's wrong with him?!" Brian asked, covering his ears.
"He's just hungry," Michaela replied with a grin. She put Connor down between her and Sully and took Daniel into her arms.
"We'll give ya some privacy!" Matthew shouted over the seemingly unstoppable cries. Soon, Michaela and Sully were left with their sons. Michaela began to nurse her crying son, and both parents sighed with relief when the crying stopped. Michaela swallowed hard.
"Are we going to be able to handle this?" she asked with tears in her eyes.
"What? 'Course we can handle it," Sully replied.
"Sully, what's going to happen once it's time for me to go back to work? What if one or both of the babies need me while I'm with a patient?"
"We'll get somethin' worked out. Don't you go frettin'. Ya don't gotta go back to work for a while, and your pa is takin' real good care of the clinic. Right now, all we gotta worry about it getting the family adjusted to havin' two new babies in the house." He brushed a tear from Michaela's cheek. He hoped she would feel a little better once she got adjusted, but he could tell that she was going to be battling this worry of juggling parenthood and her career at the same time. He vowed to himself to make the transition as easy as possible for her, because the easier it was on her, the easier it would be for everyone.
Once Connor was fed, Daniel was hungry, and as soon as the twins were sleeping, Sully took them to their cradles. By the time he turned back to the bed, Michaela was curled up under the covers, snoring lightly. Sully chuckled to himself and slowly crawled under the covers, trying not to wake her. He leaned over to kiss her on the cheek before he reached over and turned down the lamp, hoping for a few hours of good sleep before the twins woke, beginning the cycle of sleepless nights and busy days.