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.

A Father's Worry

By, Ashley J

The fall breeze rustled the crinkled brown, orange, and yellow leaves, causing them to flutter to the ground like hundreds of tiny ballet dancers. The way the autumn took its toll on the Colorado Territory was quite magical, especially for Michaela, who could never get enough of the scenery. As she looked out over all of the trees that surrounded the beautiful homestead Sully had built, she saw all of the different colors mixed in with the green of the pine trees.

She smiled, knowing that a year later, she would get to sit out on the porch with a little one in her lap. It wasn't too long ago that she hadn't been sure she'd ever have a child of her own, but now that the little one was on its way, she could breathe a breath of fresh air and think about the future.

Winter was nearly here, and with Thanksgiving over, Christmas was already on everyone's minds. Michaela didn't mind, because she simply adored Christmas. Her first Christmas in Colorado Springs had been spent with those she loved most, and every Christmas since had always brought something new into Michaela's life. This year, she would have her unborn child moving within her womb as they sang Christmas carols around the tall tree in the center of town. It would be decorated with candles and shining ornaments, and all Michaela could wish was that her baby would enjoy Christmas just as much. After all, what child didn't like Christmas?

It had been a week since Michaela had found out she would be having a baby; a week since Sully found out he was going to have another chance at fatherhood. Yes, he was a father to Colleen, Brian, and even Matthew, but his fears after losing his first daughter and wife worried Michaela, because she knew how much he wanted to enjoy this pregnancy and waiting for the baby to be born.

He spent his nights with his arms wrapped protectively around his wife, and she would wake in the morning to him softly caressing her belly. She loved how caring and doting he was, but she knew he was still scared and thought about Abagail even more these days.

She looked up at the cloudless sky, and realized that it was about time for the children to come home from school. She had felt rather ill that morning and had decided not to go into work. The townsfolk understood, for the most part, and they were willing to come out to the homestead if there was an absolute emergency.

Michaela felt grateful to the town. They'd been wonderful and helpful ever since the doctor had announced her own pregnancy, but Grace had seemed to draw away from the crowd once the excitement passed. When Dorothy or Myra would come to touch Michaela's belly, excited for the mother-to-be, because they knew how worried she'd been about conceiving, Grace would seem to tense up and go about her own business. Michaela knew Grace hadn't had any luck yet, and she felt a little guilty, because she had confided her own fears in Grace, knowing the woman would understand.

Michaela and Grace had talked since Thanksgiving, and it wasn't as if something was gone from their friendship. Grace seemed to be adjusting slowly to the fact that she would probably never conceive, and with Christmas just around the corner, it would be hard for her seeing everyone so happy when her own personal daemons were haunting her, grieving for her inability to have a child. Michaela hoped that good news would come for Grace and Robert E. As far as she could tell, Grace was healthy and should have no problem conceiving. That didn't necessarily mean she could conceive, however.

Sully came riding up after a long day at the reservation. He dismounted his horse and tethered him to the post outside of the house. Michaela smiled as Sully joined her on the porch.

"How are ya feelin'?"

"Why do you ask me that every time you come home?" Michaela asked with an appreciative grin on her face. Sully knew she was kidding.

"I just worry when I'm away from home."

"Don't worry about me. Everything is just fine," Michaela promised. Her hand rubbed the small swelling of her belly, and she smiled happily.

"Is it kickin'?" Sully wondered. Michaela shook her head.

"It's a little too early for me to feel that," she replied. She saw the look of concern on Sully's face. She knew that when he felt the baby kick for the first time, he'd know that everything was alright. "Don't worry. Our baby's safe inside of me, and I'm not going to let anything happen to it."

"You're sure you're feelin' alright?" Michaela nodded. She brought Sully's hand to rest upon her belly.

"I know you're worried," she whispered. "I know you're thinking about Abagail." Sully sighed and nodded slightly. "You have every right to be worried considering what happened, but I want you to know that I'm going to take every precaution to make sure that this pregnancy progresses smoothly and problem-free."

"But ya can't stop everything," Sully pointed out.

"That's true. I suppose that what happens is ultimately in a higher power's hands, but I know that our baby is going to be fine. I can feel it, Sully. This was meant to be." Sully brought his arm around his wife, and she snuggled close to him.

"When Abagail first told me we were havin' a baby, I didn't know what to think. I was happy, but I was scared too. I never thought it could end the way it did."

"I know," Michaela replied, rubbing his back supportively. They had discussed Sully's worries a bit before they found out about the baby, but Sully had never really opened up about how he felt about Abagail's pregnancy.

"I remember the day it happened," he explained. "I was sittin' outside the homestead, carvin' a toy wolf for the baby. I didn't know if it was gonna be a boy or a girl, but I made myself carve toys that either would like." He smiled a little. Michaela's mind drifted back to many years ago when Brian noticed the wolf carving in Mr. Bray's store. Tears welled in her eyes at the thought of what love and dedication was put into the creation, much like the creation of their own child. "Abagail cried out to me, tellin' me it was time, and I went to get Widow Cooper right away. It was too late when she got there, and Abagail had lost so much blood. I blamed myself for so long, and to this day, I can still see the baby when she was born. She was so still and quiet." Michaela wiped a tear from her cheek.

"Sully," she whispered. "I have my own fears about this pregnancy, but my fears seem to be focused more on the pain I'll have to endure and the ability to care for an infant. I've never had to do those things. The children were already capable of doing many things for themselves when I came along. I haven't let myself think of the risks. I'm trying to be positive, and I know you want to be positive too."

"I'm sorry, Michaela. I didn't mean to scare ya."

"No. You didn't frighten me anymore than I already am," she replied softly. "It's natural to be afraid. Do you know how many expectant fathers I've seen pass out at the news that they're wives are going to have a baby? I'm sure many of them have the same fears as you have, Sully. You're a wonderful husband, and you're going to be an amazing father to our child. The children we have now love you as if you were their real father." Hearing Michaela say those words seemed to have a calming effect on Sully. In his heart, he knew Michaela was right. He had every right to be afraid, but he had finally decided that he wasn't going to let his fears get in the way of being happy.

"What do you think it is? A boy or a girl?" he wondered.

"I'm not telling you," Michaela replied with a laugh.

"Why not?"

"Because . . ."

"'Cause you're afraid you'll be wrong, and you think I'll say 'I told ya so?'" Michaela shook her head. How had he read her mind? Sometimes it seemed as if he had that ability! Well, maybe he was right, but she didn't have to let him know that.

"That's not true!" Michaela argued with a grin. Sully gave her a skeptical glance, and she crossed her arms.

"You want a girl, don't ya?"

"You said you wanted a girl before we were married, remember?" Sully nodded. "Sully I don't mind what we have as long as . . ."

"It's healthy," Sully finished. Michaela smiled and placed her hand upon his cheek.

"And it will be." Sully took her hand in his and softly kissed it. They stood to go inside, and Michaela thoughtfully glanced at Sully.

"What?"

"Do you think it's too soon to talk about names?" Sully shrugged.

"I don't think there'd be any harm in it." He suddenly remembered a certain discussion they'd had on a stagecoach before they were married. "One thing though."

"What's that?"

"Ezra is out of the question." Michaela shook her head and laughed as the two happily retired into the homestead to discuss the future of their family and the upcoming arrival of their unborn child.

The End