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.
Where I Want to Be
By, Ashley J.
It had been two months since her birth, and Katherine Sully was thriving. Her beautiful, sparkling eyes brightened every time her mother took her into her arms. She giggled the most when Sully would tickle her belly and the bottoms of her feet. He could spend forever just listening to the wonderful baby noises she made. He often found himself staying up late at night, sitting by her crib and listening to her breathe. Michaela had woken on several occasions to see him dozing off at Katie's crib side.
Tonight was no different. Katie hadn't started sleeping through the night yet, and Michaela was sure that her daughter wouldn't do so until well after her maternity leave was up. She had taken quite an extended leave to be with her newborn daughter, and in another month, she would rejoin the daily life of Colorado Springs.
Thoughts of going back to work were weighing heavily on Michaela's mind on this night, and when she woke, she wasn't at all surprised to find Sully sitting at Katie's crib. She smiled, watching as his eyelids fluttered open and shut from exhaustion. He was an amazing father, and Michaela couldn't get enough of watching her husband with their daughter.
It was still hard to believe that they had created this beautiful little creature. They had merged together in love and created a child that melted hearts with one precious little coo or grin. Katie was the child Michaela had never known she'd been dreaming about her entire life. Here she was, sleeping soundly in her crib with her father sitting at her bedside.
Michaela slipped out of bed and crossed the room slowly. She didn't want to startle Sully as he was leaning on the crib. One jolt would wake Katie up, and she would most likely be up for the rest of the night. Sleep was something Michaela and Sully valued even more these days with a little one in the room. Katie was a good baby, but when she got upset about something, she wouldn't give up her crying without a fight! It took a lot to calm her when she was upset, but Michaela was confident that her daughter would grow out of it. She usually always had a pleasant disposition.
"Sully," Michaela whispered, wrapping her arms around Sully as she leaned down to rest her chin upon his shoulder. She peered down into her daughter's crib, and Katie's little mouth made a sucking motion as if she were eating. She couldn't possibly be hungry, because Michaela had fed her not even an hour ago. Sully sucked in a deep breath as Michaela's long tresses draped over his shoulder. He could smell the special soap she used for her hair; it was the smell that tended to drive him wild. But, he couldn't let it get to him. He didn't want to hurt her. It wasn't too soon yet, but neither Michaela nor Sully had had enough energy to do much of anything besides sleep once the children were all in their beds. "You should come to bed. It's getting late."
"I'll be there in a few minutes."
"You have a long day tomorrow," Michaela reminded him. Sully sighed, remembering that he had to go to Denver to meet with a few army officials. There was no word on whether or not Cloud Dancing was going to be returned to Palmer Creek, but Sully hoped that the letters he had been regularly writing to Washington would do some good for the Cheyenne medicine man. Sully nodded, and Michaela pressed her lips against his cheek, letting them linger there for a few moments. She yawned, and her breath hit his skin hotly. Sully swallowed hard and stood, taking his wife by the hand.
They crawled into bed together, and Sully moved his arm so Michaela could lie against him. Her head rested upon his bare chest, and her fingers began to stroke his soft skin. It wasn't long before Michaela had fallen asleep. Sully knew she hadn't lost her enthusiasm for making love with him, but she was so worn out from the duties she'd gained after giving birth. She was constantly having to dote on Katie, and he knew that with time, she'd be used to the demands of her little girl and be able to balance her schedule with more ease. However, he was worried about how things were going to turn out when she went back to work, but he knew that his wife was strong and could handle whatever hardships would come her way. He'd help her in any way he could.
"Sully?" Michaela asked after several minutes of silence. She'd woken with a sudden feeling of worry.
"Hmm?" Sully asked tiredly. She looked up at him through the dim light of the room and smiled lovingly.
"You know I love you."
"I know that," he replied. "I love you."
"You aren't upset with me?"
"What are ya talkin' about?"
"I'm afraid I haven't been a very good wife," she replied, sitting up in bed with worry playing at her beautiful features. Sully knew what she was talking about, and now he felt guilty for her even having to think that. He sat up and took her hands in his.
"You're a great wife, Michaela. You're amazing."
"I haven't been there for you . . ."
"'Course ya have."
"You know what I mean," she replied. "It's not that I don't want to. It's just that I'm so tired and busy with Katie . . ." Sully cut her off with a soft kiss. As he pulled away, he gave her a reassuring smile.
"Things have been busy 'round here lately. You ain't no less of a wife to me, Michaela. You're a miracle, ya know? You carried our daughter around inside of ya for nine months, and now she's here, 'cause you kept her safe." He put his hand on her flattened tummy. "Ya kept her safe and brought her into this world right in front of my eyes. Now if you're feelin' like ya owe me somethin', don't. Ya did somethin' amazin' when ya had our baby, and I'd say you'll never owe me a single thing." Tears welled in Michaela's eyes at her husband's thoughtful words. She knew he wasn't like most men and didn't expect his wife to obey his commands. He never forced Michaela to wake so they could be together. He was always kind and patient, and she just couldn't believe how incredible it was to have such an understanding person in her life.
"I feel like I'm neglecting you," she explained.
"You ain't neglectin' me. You're restin' up," he said with a grin. "When we're both ready and not tired, it's gonna be somethin' special." Michaela blushed and wrapped her arms around her husband to thank him. When she pulled away, the both of them settled down into the bed again.
"You should get some sleep," she whispered, tracing her fingers along the contours of his chest.
"It's gonna be hard leavin' ya."
"It's only for a couple of days, right?"
"Right," Sully replied. "But what if ya need me?"
"I'll be fine," Michaela replied with a grin. "I'm sure that once Washington starts listening, you'll be taking many more trips to Denver." Sully sighed, knowing his wife was right. He gave her a gentle kiss before they both fell into a deep sleep, wrapped in each other's warm embrace.
Michaela woke before Sully, knowing he had to be on the train in two hours. She got Katie out of bed, and took her downstairs for a feeding. The children had already gone off to school and had said goodbye to their father after dinner the night before. Michaela, however, was beginning to feel like she wasn't ready for him to go to Denver. She felt that she needed him there.
Of course she was perfectly capable of taking care of their infant daughter alone, but she felt that it was important that they spend these first few months together. Yes, Sully's trip to Denver was for a good cause, but what frightened her was thinking about how many trips Sully might have to make to Denver; how many nights he might have to spend away from home.
About an hour later, Sully came down the stairs, ready to go to the train station. Michaela put on a smile that Sully could see right through, but he didn't want to see her cry. He wanted to leave knowing that his wife was happy. He hated leaving her while she was still very emotional and adjusting.
Katie was fussing after her feeding, so as Michaela paced around the kitchen with her, she watched Sully walk over toward her.
"I better get goin' to the train station."
"I'll come along," Michaela offered as Katie continued to fuss. Sully kissed her on the cheek.
"It'll be easier on ya if ya stay here." Michaela knew Sully was right. Their trip into town would be much more difficult with a fussy Katie. "I'll be home in a couple days, I promise," Sully whispered. Michaela nodded, trying not to let him see how worried she was. He kissed her forehead and then her lips. "I love you."
"I love you," she whispered. Sully hated to walk out. He didn't want to leave his wife or his daughter, but he had to go. He had to try to get his friend back home from the East Fork reservation. He turned to the door, and when his hand reached the knob, he felt the urge to turn back as Katie cried out again. He couldn't turn back, because he didn't want Michaela to see how worried he was about leaving. He opened the door and let himself out.
Michaela walked to the window and watched as Sully mounted his horse and rode off toward town. She sighed heavily and looked at little Katie.
"Shh," she whispered through the baby's cries. "It's alright, Katie." She started back toward the stairs, wiping a tear from her cheek. She felt foolish for getting so emotional. Sully would be home in a couple of days. It wasn't like he was leaving for a year or something. He would be home very soon. She just felt better having him home.
As she put Katie down in her crib, she covered the girl with the beautiful white blanket that Elizabeth had created as a special gift for her granddaughter. Michaela smiled and put Katie's toy bunny down next to her. The baby slept better when it was at her side, much like Michaela slept better when Sully was at her side.
"Sweet dreams, little one," she crooned. She changed out of her nightgown and left the room, keeping the door open in case Katie woke and needed her.
She began to busy herself with housework, trying not to think about Sully going to Denver for two whole days. As she was sweeping off the porch outside, she paused for a moment, thinking back over how much things had changed in just the past couple of years. She and Sully had married, started a new life in a new house, and they had created little Katie together.
Life had never been boring since Michaela arrived in this little town, and she wouldn't give up her life there for anything. Her choice to move westward had given her more blessings than she could count. She'd come to take for granted having Sully around all of the time. Ever since they'd been married, they'd been nearly inseparable, except for the time when Sully went to help his friend Daniel in Nevada. Other than that, they'd spent nearly every night together, and with Sully working more than ever to bring Cloud Dancing home, he was going to be spending more and more time away. Michaela couldn't wait until some good news finally came. Perhaps that good news would come home with Sully. Perhaps Cloud Dancing would be coming home sooner than everyone expected. She only hoped that the worst news wouldn't come. She hoped Cloud Dancing wouldn't be kept at East Fork permanently. Someone in Washington had to have a heart.
Michaela knew that it would slowly kill Sully to know that his best friend was somewhere against his will; somewhere that he wasn't respected or shown humanity to. She couldn't bear to see her husband suffer like that. Having Cloud Dancing back would be the best solution for everyone.
She put the broom away and went upstairs to check on Katie. As she was just peeking in on her, she heard footsteps coming up the stairs. Who could it be? Perhaps Sully had forgotten something at the last minute.
"Michaela?" came his voice a moment later. Michaela smiled and silently thanked God for letting her see him one more moment before he got on the train.
"I'm up here," she called down, trying not to wake Katie. Sully entered the room and smiled when he saw his wife.
"Did you forget something?"
"Yeah," he replied, walking over to pull her into his arms. "This." He kissed her again, and Michaela wrapped her arms around her husband, feeling those wonderful sparks that she always felt when they kissed. When they pulled apart, Sully smiled and ran his thumb across her cheek, brushing away a tear that Michaela hadn't even known had fallen. "Actually, Horace got word that the meetin' got cancelled."
"You're not going to Denver?" Michaela asked hopefully, although she was disappointed that there would be no news on Cloud Dancing.
"Not today anyway. The men I was gonna meet with got called back to Washington. Looks like I'll be stayin' here tonight after all."
"You're alright with that? I mean, you're alright with not going to Denver for word about the situation at the East Fork reservation?"
"Cloud Dancin' is strong. I'm gonna get him out of there one way or the other. In the mean time," he whispered, caressing her cheek with his fingertips, "this is where I want to be." Michaela's eyes lit up, and she smiled at the man she loved. Katie woke a moment later, sensing her father in the room. She cooed, and Sully picked her up. "Here with my two favorite girls."