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 AE.
A Light in the Window
In her twenty-five years of life, Michaela Quinn had never had an experience quite so adventurous as this, and as she stepped out of the shaky stagecoach and planted her feet on Western soil for the first time in her entire life, she felt an abundance of different feelings running through her heart and mind. Never had she seen such a quaint little town with so many beautiful features surrounding it, including the very beautiful Pike's Peak that seemed to be watching over Colorado Springs. But this was nothing like Boston, and the unpaved streets seemed to shed very little light on the prospect of progress.
She had been very surprised to find that the Reverend Timothy Johnson had agreed to have her come to Colorado Springs to be the physician that the town so desperately required. He had made it very clear that people wouldn't take to a lady doctor, but with time, they would realize that she was their only hope. He had even let her know that he wasn't sure if it was a good idea, but it was better than absolutely nothing. So, in other words, he was willing to accept any offers, seeing as nobody else was willing to come practice medicine in a place where vaccinations were practically unheard of.
"Dr. Quinn?" Michaela's gloved hands moved to pull her skirt up off of the ground as to not get anymore dust and dirt on it, and she turned toward the voice to face a kind-looking man wearing a black hat and suit. Judging by his white collar, she could correctly assume that he was the Reverend she'd been communicating back and forth with for about the last three weeks. She simply smiled and nodded.
"Reverend Johnson, I presume?"
"Yes," he replied with a look of surprise upon his face. In all honesty, he was not expecting to see the beautiful woman that she was. He didn't expect that a lady who was fully intent on being a professional doctor would really care or have time to look nice. But, Michaela Quinn from Beacon Hill wasn't the average woman by any means. She had different goals than most women, and she would do just about anything to accomplish them. He could tell straight off that she was going to be quite a handful.
After the initial shock wore off, he reached out to shake her hand. "Welcome to our town. You must be tired after your trip. I'll show you where you can set up your office."
"My office?" Michaela hadn't expected such hospitality! The Reverend nodded his head, realizing that he hadn't explained to her the rest of the situation in their correspondence.
"Oh yes! After our midwife Widow Cooper died, the bank took proprietorship of the boarding house she ran and owned. But, I convinced my associates, some clergymen in Denver, to help our town by donatin' the money to buy it back. I told 'em that we needed a doctor in our town. I convinced some of the folks here to do the same, but most of 'em who donated were the ladies. They're quite eager to meet ya, Dr. Quinn. Anyway, the boardin' house is all yours if ya wanna sign the lease." Michaela was completely shocked!
"I'm surprised that your associates agreed so easily. I understand from your telegrams that most people around here don't have much confidence in women physicians." She sighed. "Well, they don't really have confidence in women physicians anywhere for that matter."
"They don't know you're a lady doctor," Reverend Johnson explained. Michaela obviously looked surprised.
"You didn't tell them?"
"They didn't ask." Michaela smiled a little as the Reverend picked up her luggage.
"Can you explain something to me?"
"Why did you ask me to come here? Even you said yourself in the telegrams that you're wary of the situation, though I can assure you that I'm fully capable and qualified of doing what needs to be done."
"Honestly, Dr. Quinn, I have to say that I've never had experience with lady doctors, and the folks here insisted that I send for information from the Women's Medical School of Pennsylvania. We found out ya graduated at the top of your class, so we figured that ya had to know somethin' about medicine." Michaela laughed on the inside. It was amazing how narrow-minded people could be. "Most folks still don't like it, but they ain't got a choice." They began to walk away from the stagecoach as curious eyes watched on. "Anyway, there's plenty of room at the boardin' house. You can stay there 'til ya find a place of your own. Do what ya want. It's your buildin' after all."
"I'm definitely going to use it for a clinic," Michaela replied, knowing that this would probably be the only place she'd have a chance to practice in. "But, I do intend on paying you back, Reverend."
"Please, I couldn't take the money. Colorado Springs needs a doctor, and you were the only one willin' to come. Once everybody gets used to it, they'll come around. They ain't goin' to Jake much anymore."
"Hmm." The Reverend nodded. "Jake Slicker. He's the barber, and we've been goin' to him for barberin' and doctorin' for years. But, last month, we lost four people after they went in to see him for cuts that needed sewin'." Michaela shook her head a little. "Nobody figured out what happened, but it seemed like they got real sick soon after he sewed 'em up."
"Septicemia," Michaela said quietly. A blank look shadowed the Reverend's face.
"Oh," she said as she shook her head. She knew she wasn't with her colleagues anymore and would have to remember to use words people would understand. "Blood poisoning. It probably came from a dirty needle or instrument in his shop." She decided that it was almost time to change the subject when she realized the Reverend was becoming a little nervous. Obviously he was beginning to think twice about going to Jake for even a shave. "Don't worry. I'll speak with him about sterilizing his instruments." The Reverend cast her an unsure glance.
"What?" He figured it was best not to venture onto the topic of the very stubborn Jake Slicker just yet.
"Ah, here we are," he announced as they stepped upon the porch of the two-story boarding house. Michaela smiled warmly after the Reverend opened the door. They stepped inside.
"It's lovely! Of course it'll be difficult to keep the dust from the street out, but I'll figure something out." She ran her finger along a tabletop and swept off a line of thick dust. Yes, she had a lot of work to do! "I do intend to pay you and your associates back, Reverend. If you'd rather not accept the money, please donate it to the church on my behalf." The Reverend nodded appreciatively. "Thank you, Reverend. I'll take it."
"I'll take your things upstairs," Reverend Johnson offered. He dug a key out of his pocket and a piece of paper. "I just need your signature on this." Michaela pulled a pen out of her medical bag and signed her name to the boarding house's lease. Her first clinic! It would be different, because her father wouldn't be there to work with every day, but she knew she could get used to having her own medical facility. The Reverend took the document from Michaela and placed the key in her hands. "It's all yours." He started through a door and up a staircase to the second floor.
Michaela stared around, and she sucked in a deep breath. Wow, this place was hers, and it had actually been a gift to her from the citizens of a town she'd just arrived in. While most of them really weren't thrilled to have her around, they knew that a doctor was needed in case of emergencies.
A knock came to the open door. Michaela turned around to see a thin, dark-skinned woman standing there with a baby on her hip and two little boys wrestling around in front of her.
"Hello," Michaela said with a smile.
"Hi," the woman replied with a kind, bright smile. "My name's Grace Smith, and I run the café here in town. I hear you're the doctor that the Reverend sent for?" Michaela walked over to extend her hand to the woman.
"That's right," she said with a smile. "I'm Dr. Michaela Quinn."
"Michaela? That's like Michael," Grace pointed out.
"My father expected a boy," she admitted.
"Do ya mind if I call ya Dr. Mike?" Michaela shook her head.
"I don't mind at all. Whatever you're more comfortable with calling me will work just fine." The little boys continued to play fight.
"Boys! Stand up straight," Grace ordered with exasperation in her voice. She shook her head and looked at the young doctor. "They never listen." Michaela grinned and knelt down to look at the boys. "This is my oldest. His name's Robert Jr." She patted her oldest son on the head. "He's five. This is Thomas. He's four." She adjusted her youngest on her hip. "And this is my little one. His name is Anthony."
"You have three very beautiful little boys, Grace," Michaela noted. The oldest looked up at his mother and made a face.
"Mama, men ain't supposed to be beautiful." Grace chuckled and shook her head.
"Well, ya ain't a man yet, so why don't ya run and play with Tommy? Keep him out of trouble."
"Yes ma'am," Robert Jr. replied. "C'mon, Tommy." He took his little brother's hand, and they rushed out of the building.
"My husband is Robert E., and he's the blacksmith. He's real busy, but he was glad to know a doctor was comin'. He's got a bad case of lumbago he needs lookin' at."
"I'd be happy to make an appointment to see him."
"I'll tell him you said so," Grace said with an appreciative smile. "Don't worry. He won't put up a fuss. He ain't one to say who's got the right to do be a doctor or to be free to do what they want. He believes everybody oughta be equal. So do I." Michaela could tell by the tone in Grace's voice, and the sad look of recollection in the woman's eyes that she and her husband had suffered during their lives. Grace seemed to be older that Michaela, probably in her later twenties. But her soul seemed to be even older, and Michaela expected that she and Robert E. hadn't always been free to run their own lives. No other words were needed to know that they'd had to deal with many hardships. "Well, I best be runnin' along. I just wanted to say 'hello' and welcome ya to town."
"I appreciate that. It's nice to meet you Mrs. Smith."
"Oh please! That makes me sound so old! Please call me Grace."
"Alright, Grace," Michaela replied, shaking the woman's hand again. After Grace left with her youngest son on her hip, Michaela felt such a warmth in her heart. Being alone and a new stranger in this town made her feel a little uneasy, but with Grace's kindness, she only hoped that the two would become fast friends.
"Ready to go?" Reverend Johnson asked, coming back into the room. Michaela looked over at him curiously.
"Ready to go where?" The Reverend glanced at her, noticing that she was a little too dressed up to be venturing out of town.
"Well, maybe you'll wanna change into somethin' else first." Michaela looked at her fancy attire and decided it would probably be best to dress down a little. She didn't really want to stand out in the crowd, especially on her first day in town.
"Alright," she agreed. "But after I change, where are you taking me?"
"To meet your first patient."
Michaela was on her own at the moment. The Reverend had forgotten that he had a meeting with a couple who desperately needed pre-marital advice, so he had offered to have someone take her out to the homestead she would be visiting. But, she'd refused and explained that she wanted to figure out how to get along by herself out there. So, the Reverend gave her directions to the homestead and sent her on her way.
She didn't know how to ride a horse, and since that was one skill she knew she would have to learn eventually, she decided that she'd take it easy and walk so she could put off learning to ride for another afternoon. The Reverend explained that it was a couple of miles out of town, but she insisted that she would be fine and that she was used to walking long distances. It was true. She walked everywhere she could in Boston if she had the chance, though her mother usually always insisted that she not ruin her beautiful feet, because someday she'd have to pick a husband, and they'd dance in a large ballroom after their wedding. She couldn't believe that her mother had used that excuse on her. Walking was most certainly not going to ruin her feet, and she always felt that if she didn't want to ride home in the carriage after a long day at the hospital working side-by-side with her father, a nice long walk would help her relax before she went to sleep for the evening.
Michaela chuckled to herself at the memory as she neared the homestead. She could see smoke coming from a chimney, and she could already see the humble dwelling. It was a small home, and all that the Reverend told her about the people who lived there was that one of the children was sick. She had no idea about the family considering the fact that Reverend Johnson had been terribly late to his meeting and had to rush off before he got the chance to tell her much of anything else.
Getting closer to the small home, she saw that it looked pretty new and well kept. Whoever lived there surely spent a lot of time keeping it stable for their family.
As she finally reached the homestead, she was surprised to see a Wolf lying lazily on the porch. She was half afraid that he might attack her, but when he looked up, sniffed the air, let his tongue loll out, and rested his head back down on his paws, she realized he wasn't dangerous. But, she was alarmed again when the shrill cry of a baby came from inside of the house. She cautiously moved to the porch, and the wolf didn't move. He was either a very bad watchdog, or he trusted her.
Just as she was about to knock on the door, it opened and a small boy of about eight years old opened the door. He had a sweet face and beautiful dark eyes that looked at her questioningly. He had blonde hair, by the looks of it, and had recently gotten his it cut short. Whoever this boy's parents were obviously cared enough about him to keep him in clean clothes and well groomed. There were so many children in Boston from wealthy families who rarely saw their parents and ran about looking however they pleased. She couldn't help but smile at him.
"Hello, I'm Dr. Michaela Quinn. Is your mother home?" He blinked at her a couple of times before opening his mouth.
"No. She's dead." Michaela automatically felt guilty.
"Oh. I'm sorry. Um, is your father home?"
"He's dead too. Least he probably is anyway." Michaela wasn't quite sure what to say. The boy smiled a little. "Don't worry. I get that look a lot."
"Who is it?" came a strong, masculine voice from inside.
"Some lady name Dr. Mike."
"Dr. Mike?" Michaela smiled.
"That's Dr. Michaela Quinn," she replied with a smile.
"Can I call ya Dr. Mike?" he asked. "That's easier."
"Whatever works for you," Michaela replied with a grin. At that point, a man appeared with a squalling infant in his arms. Michaela was surprised to see such a handsome man come out of the dimness of the small cabin. He couldn't have been much older than her, and he stood tall. His eyes were like deep, dark penetrating oceans, and his hair was long and slightly curly as it hung an inch or two past his shoulders.
He was clean-shaven and had skin that had obviously been tanned by the hot Western sun. He wore a pair of leather buckskin pants along with moccasins to match, and his shirt was cream colored, though it was a bit stained and faded from age. He was handsome and not in just a rugged way. Something about his eyes just made her heart beat a little faster. She'd never seen anyone like him, and he was very pleasing to the eye.
He studied her for a moment, taking in the sight of her pale skin that seemed to glow under the sunlight. Her hair was long and slightly curly as the sun gave it an angelic glow. The dress she wore clung to her body, and he had the initial wondering of what she'd look like if she wasn't so covered up. She was beautiful, and he had to swallow hard before he could get a word to come out of his mouth.
"You're the new doctor that the Reverend was bringin' in from Boston?"
"Yes," she said, wondering if he could tell that she was blushing. For a moment she wondered if he was going to turn her away for the simple fact that she was a woman doctor, but something in his eyes told her differently. "He told me you have a sick child."
"Yeah," Sully replied. He looked down at the baby in his arms.
"He can't be more than a year old," Michaela assumed.
"Just turned one," the older boy pointed out.
"Matthew, will ya go help your little sister out in the chicken coop?"
"You're tryin' to get rid of me, ain't ya?" Matthew asked. Sully chuckled.
"I can't get nothin' past him these days," he said with a laugh. "Go on, Matthew."
"Yes sir." Matthew hurried outside. Sully stepped out of the way as he continued to rock a screaming little boy in his arms.
"Come on in." Michaela walked into the quaint little homestead and smiled warmly when she saw a cozy fire in the hearth. As she took a quick glance around, she noticed a large bed against the center of the wall near the door, and at the other side of the homestead, beside the little kitchen, were two small beds and a baby's crib. She could tell that this man obviously cared a lot about his family just by the way he looked as he held the little boy. He had worry and fear in his eyes as he held him with great care and gentleness. Seeing a man like him holding an infant and being so careful and cautious seemed different and unexpected, but it was a sweet, breathtaking sight.
"What seems to be the problem?" Michaela asked as she watched Sully rock the baby back and forth.
"He ain't been feelin' right since last night. He didn't sleep at all, and he's been cryin' most of the time. I woulda taken him to Cloud Dancin', but I couldn't leave the kids here alone."
"Yeah," Sully replied, pacing a little with the boy. "He's my friend . . . the Cheyenne Medicine Man." So that was why he had a beautiful beaded necklace around his neck. It did look like something he may have gotten from the Indians.
"I'd like to meet him," Michaela said without thinking. She wasn't frightened of the Indians. Her father had told her how people didn't understand the differences simply because most of them didn't really care to understand. But, she couldn't help but feel a little anxious.
"He'd like to meet you," Sully replied quietly. "I bet you could learn a lot from each other. He extended a hand to her. "Name's Sully."
"And you know my name." Sully chuckled.
"Yeah." She watched as Sully looked at her for a moment. She raised an eyebrow.
"May I?" She reached out to take the child.
"Oh, right," Sully replied. She wondered if he was usually like this, or if her presence was making him a little nervous. He didn't seem to mind having her there at all, though. He placed the baby in her arms, and the little one seemed to relax a bit. Michaela grinned, smiling down at the little boy who looked so much like his older brother. "What's his name?"
"Brian," Sully replied with a smile. Michaela moved over to Sully's bed and placed the boy down on it. She removed him from his clothes, stripping him down to nothing but a diaper and his little socks. Brian stopped crying when he noticed Michaela's long locks of hair. Yes, that was something to play with! His little hands balled into fists, and he tugged her hair. She was used to babies doing this, but she silently scolded herself for not thinking to pull her hair back before working with him.
"Sorry 'bout that. He does that to me a lot, though my hair ain't nearly as long as yours." Michaela chuckled a little.
"It happens all the time." She managed to pry his fingers out of her hair, and Sully watched as she brought her hands up to gather her hair behind her back. He noticed how her face seemed to be almost heart-like in shape, and one eye was a slightly different color than the other.
Michaela listened to the baby's heartbeat, and he thoroughly enjoyed tugging at the stethoscope as she tried to listen.
"Their ma died durin' childbirth," Sully explained. "I knew Charlotte for years. I moved out here when I was real young, and she helped me buy this land and gave me odd jobs so I could make money to buy the supplies to build the house. Ethan ran out on her before she even knew she was expectin' Brian."
"That's terrible," Michaela said, shaking her head.
"But, she left the kids to me, so I been raisin' 'em on my own for the past year."
"It must be difficult."
"It ain't easy," Sully replied, shaking his head. "The kids don't have a ma, and I ain't never been married, so they've been spendin' lots of time with Miss Grace. She's got her own kids and they all like playin' together. Brian 'specially likes her son Anthony. They're 'round the same age."
"I met Grace. She's a very kind woman." Sully nodded. She checked for a fever on Brian, and when she was finished, she started putting the clothes back on him. "Well, it isn't anything serious. Have you been feeding him cow's milk?"
"Yeah," Sully replied.
"I think perhaps the milk set out a little too long. He'll be fine."
"Positive," Michaela replied as she walked over to find a cup. She mixed something in water and slowly spooned it into Brian's mouth.
"It'll ease any discomfort Brian may be feeling," Michaela explained. "I'm sure he'll be sleeping soundly in no time."
"Thanks Dr. Mike," Sully said with a smile. "Mind if I call ya that?"
"That's what everybody else is calling me," she replied. The front door swung open and hit the inside wall with a bang. Sully groaned as Brian began to cry again. He scooped the boy up into his arms.
"Matthew, how many times have I told ya to be careful when you're openin' the door?"
"Sorry pa," Matthew said sheepishly. A sweet little girl with hair as blonde as her brothers' came running in after him.
"Pa! Matthew said there's a real lady doctor!" She stopped when she saw Michaela. Her eyes went wide. "You're a real doctor?"
"That's right," Michaela said with a smile. She looked at Sully.
"This is Colleen. She's five. Matthew's the oldest. He's eight."
"It's nice to meet you, Colleen," Michaela said, bending down and extending a hand. Colleen shook it and looked over at Sully with wide eyes.
"Could I be a doctor when I grow up, Pa?"
"If that's what ya wanna be," Sully replied with a hesitant smile. He put Brian down in his crib and picked up Colleen. "You can be whatever you wanna be." He wanted to give the children a good future, but with the money he made selling furs and doing odd jobs for Robert E., he wasn't sure he'd ever save enough to send them to college.
"Well, I think everyone looks healthy here. I think I'll start back to town."
"Did ya walk here?" Sully wondered.
"Yes. I'm afraid I haven't even tried to master the art of horseback riding yet," Michaela admitted.
"Well, why don't ya take our wagon into town with ya? It ain't that hard to steer, and the horses will obey your words."
"Oh, I don't know," Michaela replied quietly. "I'm not so sure that's a good idea."
"Well, first of all, you won't have a wagon if I take this one back into town."
"That's why you can bring it back tonight when ya join us for supper." Michaela looked at Colleen who was smiling happily at the thought of having a real lady doctor over for dinner.
"Oh, I couldn't impose."
"Ya wouldn't be imposin'. I asked ya to supper to thank ya for lookin' in on Brian." Michaela swallowed hard.
"Well, I suppose it's proper to accept."
"I don't want ya comin' if ya don't want to."
"No, I want to. Thank you," Michaela said with a smile, feeling her pulse quicken as Sully's eyes stared into hers.
"What do I owe ya for this?"
"Dinner will do just fine," Michaela replied. "Thank you."
"Thank you, Dr. Mike." Sully put Colleen down and started outside with Michaela. She followed him to the barn, and Wolf got up to follow as well. Michaela looked at the animal apprehensively, and Sully noticed the look in her eyes.
"Don't worry. He ain't gonna hurt ya. He won't bite unless I tell 'im to. He'd never hurt a lady."
"Good. I'll keep that in mind," Michaela said with a relieved smile.
She watched in silence as Sully hitched the wagon, and she wondered if she was actually going to have to know how to do that. It didn't look like the easiest thing in the world to do, but perhaps she'd get used to it anyway.
"I don't mean to speak out of line, but I think it looks like you're doing a great job with those children. Considering what they've been through, it looks like they're dealing with it well," Michaela commented as Sully made sure everything on the wagon was secure. He led the horses outside and helped Michaela up into the seat and handed her the reins.
"I'm doin' the best I can, and it ain't always easy, but I love 'em like they were my own."
"I think the feeling is mutual for them," she commented.
"Don't be scared." Michaela was caught off guard.
"Of the horses." Michaela felt foolish when she realized that Sully was actually talking about her first experience with a wagon and horses. For some strange reason, she'd thought that perhaps he was referring to the attraction she had felt from the moment she saw him. But how could he possibly know that? He couldn't! She assumed he never would, and for now, that's all she could assume.
"Oh. Well, thank you, Mr. Sully." Michaela was able to get the horses moving, and as she looked back, she saw Colleen and Matthew running out to grill their father for information about this new lady doctor. Colleen looked up and waved at Michaela, and the young doctor waved back. Yes, living out West, she decided, could possibly turn out better than she'd originally thought.