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.
By, Ashley J.
The dust and dirt had easily come out of Michaela's hair and clothes, and as she sat down on the edge of her bed in a clean dress, she thought about all that she had accomplished that afternoon. A proud feeling surged through her veins with every beat of her heart. None of it would have been possible if Snow Bird hadn't presented Flash to her.
Michaela picked up her hairbrush and began to run it through her long, damp hair. It felt nice to be able to look feminine again after pretending to be a man just to get to compete in a race. The best part of all, however, had been showing Dr. Cassidy that a woman could win a race, and of course, proving that Flash could win. Flash did most of the work, so Michaela knew she deserved the most credit. The horse had been given a garland of roses and had been paraded around town. Michaela grinned at the memory of being lifted up to ride on top of flash before they took her home to rest. Sully had led the horse, and he had looked at Michaela with more pride in his eyes than she'd ever seen before.
The rose. She sighed softly, reaching over to touch the soft petals of the rose that Sully had picked off of Flash's garland. The look in his eyes when he had handed it to her had said a thousand words. She didn't need to hear them yet. Whenever she looked into his eyes, she could see his feelings for her. Sometimes it was so overwhelming that she could get lost in his eyes, but she didn't mind. She loved spending time with him, and the more time she spent with him, the stronger her feelings for him became.
A knock came to the door, and Michaela's heart lit up with hope that Sully was there. She hurried over and was surprised to find Cloud Dancing and Snow Bird standing on the porch with Sully.
"Cloud Dancing, Snow Bird? What a surprise! What's the occasion?"
"Cloud Dancing told me your horse won the race." Michaela smiled proudly and welcomed the three into her home. As they all sat down around the table, Michaela's eyes moved to Sully's. A curious smile was curled on his lips as he watched her. She felt herself blushing, but quickly returned her attention back to Snow Bird. But, this had not gone unnoticed to Snow Bird. She looked at her husband.
"When we arrived, Brian was eager to show you both a trick his wolf has learned," she said quietly, looking at the men. Sully took that as their cue to leave.
"Let's go," Sully said, patting Cloud Dancing on the shoulder. Snow Bird smiled lovingly at her husband, and he decided that that had been a hint for he and Sully to leave the women to talk in private. Michaela nearly laughed out as the men left with apprehension in their steps.
Once the door closed behind Sully and Cloud Dancing, Snow Bird turned her attention back to Michaela and smiled. Michaela wondered what was on the woman's mind, but she figured that what she had to say would come in good time.
"You should have seen Flash after the race. I'm pretty sure I saw her hold her head a little bit higher."
"She is a good horse. I told you she would run for you."
"Thank you so much. She's a beautiful horse. We've become fast friends." Snow Bird smiled. "You didn't want to talk to me about Flash, did you?"
"That was what I was coming here for, but now I must say that something else has caught my attention."
"What's that?" Snow Bird smiled.
"I see the same look in Sully's eyes when he looks at you as I see in Cloud Dancing's when he looks at me." Michaela's cheeks blushed a faint hint of rose, and Snow Bird continued on. "You care for him, don't you?"
"Of course I do. He's been a wonderful friend, and . . ."
"You shouldn't lie to someone who knows the truth," Snow Bird scolded. "I see the truth when you look at him."
"He's not ready yet."
"To pursue a relationship," Michaela explained.
"Are you ready?" Snow Bird wondered.
"Well," Michaela pondered. "Sometimes I think so. Sometimes I don't know what I think."
"Your heart doesn't lie."
"No," Michaela admitted, "but unfortunately I'm prone to listening to what my head tells me to do. I'm not used to feeling this way."
"He feels the same way," Snow Bird added.
"I believe he does," Michaela replied. "I don't know."
"I wasn't asking a question. I was stating a fact," Snow Bird replied with a smile. Michaela found herself smiling brightly at Snow Bird's comment. It wasn't a moment later that Brian burst in with Pup at his heels.
"Brian!" Michaela exclaimed.
"Sorry ma," he replied sheepishly. "Can I go fishin'? Cloud Dancin' said he'd go with me."
"Well, I suppose it's alright," Michaela replied with a smile. "Don't be gone too long. Colleen and Matthew should be home from town in a few hours."
"Okay." Brian rushed back out to get his fishing supplies. Snow Bird chuckled.
"I should be going as well." She and Michaela walked over to the door.
"Snow Bird?" The Cheyenne woman turned to her. "Thank you."
"Don't thank me," Snow Bird replied. "Just follow your heart." Snow Bird left the homestead, and Michaela leaned against the door as she closed it behind her. A moment later she remember that Sully was still out there. She took a deep breath and opened the door. Sully was sitting on the porch watching Cloud Dancing and Snow Bird leave with Brian.
"Sully? Would you like to come in?" Sully didn't look back, but Michaela moved to sit next to him.
"Nah, it's nice out here." He noticed she was holding the rose in her hand. She smiled and looked down at it.
"Flash is amazing," she said softly, changing the subject. "I'm so happy Snow Bird gave her to me."
"Snow Bird's even happier. She wanted you to have her." Michaela smiled. She could sense that Sully was growing a little uneasy, so she decided to break the tension.
"I'll race you to Willow Creek." She got a devilish gleam in her eyes, and Sully had to chuckle.
"Of course I am! I'm sure Flash is willing as well." Sully stood, extended his hand to Michaela, and helped her up. They started over toward the horses, and Michaela safely tucked the rose into her saddlebags, the saddlebags Sully had presented her with on her birthday. Once they were both securely on their horses, they started their race, rushing off toward Willow Creek.
The race was rejuvenating to Michaela as the wind whipped through her long, beautiful hair. Sully could barely concentrate at the sight of Michaela riding that horse. She looked so free; so pure. She was amazing!
Michaela was laughing so hard that she was nearly in tears when they reached Willow Creek. Flash had beat Sully's horse by a landslide, and when Flash finally came to a halt, she lifted her head proudly and snorted.
Sully dismounted his horse, and he looked at Michaela as a smile kissed her lips. Michaela brought the rose back into her hands, and they walked over to sit on a grassy area near the creek. As they caught their breaths, Michaela stared down at the slightly ruffled petals.
"I thought ya might like it. Ya deserved to win more than anybody in that race."
"I wouldn't have kept the money," Michaela said softly. "I was going to give it to Matthew."
"Least ya proved your point," Sully replied. Michaela nodded. She thought back to the boys and Sully trying to teach her how to act like a man. She had pulled it of decently enough, but she hoped she'd never have to do that ever again!
"Remember the last time we were here?" Michaela asked, looking out over the water." Sully nodded and tossed a pebble toward the banks of the creek.
"That's an experience I ain't ever gonna forget."
"Me neither," Michaela replied with a smile, remembering how rough Sully had been at first, but how much he had softened when she broke her wrist. His nurturing side came out, and he relaxed a little bit more.
"'Course ya won't. Ya broke your wrist."
"That's true, but I won't ever forget how much you helped me, Sully."
"You held your own." He was being modest, and Michaela loved that about him. He had changed so much since that day, and it seemed as if their relationship had never been the same since.
"I can't believe how much has changed since we came to stop Mr. Harding."
"It's all cleared up now, and nothin' is getting sick 'cause of the mercury." That was true, but she had been referring to their relationship. Sully knew what she'd meant too, but she didn't have to know he knew, did she? He smiled a little. "Bet you're glad to get to wear your dresses again."
"I must admit I am," she replied. "Wearing a man's clothes isn't as easy as it looks." Sully chuckled.
"Neither is walkin' and spittin' like a man either, I guess." Michaela laughed, and her laugh sent warmth throughout Sully's heart. His hand moved to hers, and she looked into his eyes. "I'm glad to have ya back to normal anyway."
"Sure. Wasn't easy pretendin' like you were a man. Ya sure ain't got a manly bone in your body."
"Are you saying I'm weak?" Michaela joked.
"Nah. I'm just sayin' you're too beautiful to even pull off lookin' like a man." Michaela didn't know what to say. He'd called her beautiful! Or had she been hearing things? No. He had definitely called her beautiful.
"Beautiful?" she asked softly.
"Yeah. That's alright to say, ain't it? I mean, ya ain't handsome." He was tryin' to neutralize what he'd said so she wouldn't get the true meaning behind it, but she had picked up on it.
Michaela felt her heart lighten a bit, and Sully took the rose from her hands. He reached up to tuck it behind her ear, and his fingers briefly grazed the side of her face.
"It's alright," she whispered. Before either of them knew it, they were leaning into one another, kissing each other with the softest of kisses. When they pulled away, they were inches apart, and their eyes locked on one another's for a moment. Sully swallowed hard, and Michaela moved back a little to give him some space.
"Sully, there's no need," she explained. "You don't have to apologize." She leaned over to kiss him upon the cheek. Sully stood, extended his hand to her, and he pulled her to her feet. Silently deciding that the kiss they'd just shared was a mutually wanted kiss, they mounted their horses and started back toward the homestead. Perhaps they both thought romance wasn't too far into the future. Maybe it would catch them off guard just as that kiss had. After all, the kiss wasn't a bad thing. It was something both of them had looked forward to. Now it was time to look forward to better things. But the race was over now, after all, and it was time to slow down and enjoy their blossoming friendship for all that it was worth.