If We Never Said I Love You

A "Romance"

By Jules

Summary: A Sully & Michaela love story starting a few days before the episode of "Another Woman." This story explores the problems and beauties of their early relationship.

Chapter 1—"Waiting for Winter"

January 1869

It was a cold night. Sully stirred the fire, waiting for Michaela to settle down and join him for a few stolen moments in the long winter sleep. She hardly had slowed down once that evening, between helping Colleen with dinner and working on Brian's science project due the next day. He pitched in as best he could. He helped Colleen clear the table and offered to help Matthew cover the horses before the young man climbed the rickety stairs to the loft where he retreated to dream of a young Swedish girl.

But after all of it, Sully was still waiting for her. Brian had cleared his project away and Michaela was reaching for one of her medical books. Sully stood up, cleared his throat and walked across the room to her, taking the heavy book out of her hand.

"What do you think you're doing?" Michaela snapped, shocked out of her busy routine.

Sully shut the book and took a hold of her hand. "It's gettin' late. Come sit with me by the fire."

"Charcot's done a fascinating study of neurology, and after Brian's accident last year, I need to study the affects of—"

Sully covered her lips with his fingers, forcing her to stop and focus on him. "Can't it wait a few more minutes? We ain't been alone all day."

Michaela blushed slightly at the thought, finally catching her breath, and conceded, "I-I suppose it can."

Colleen smiled from the table and picked up her Murray reader. Just as Brian was about to re-enter the house, she stood up abruptly and flashed conspiring, warning eyes at him.

"What!" He asked loudly, completely oblivious to the concept of romance.

"Good night, Ma, Sully!" Colleen said overly cheerfully and forcefully dragged Brian out of the room to their small bed cove. "We're gonna go to bed. We're both real tired."

"Night, kids!" Sully called after them, laughing quietly to himself as their loud sibling banter made its way to the main cabin room. Despite her lack of subtlety, someday he knew would have to thank Colleen.

When he looked at Michaela, she had a faint, shy grin on her face.

They both walked to the roaring fire and sat down opposite each other on the spun rug. Brian and Colleen had yet to quiet down, and Sully chuckled, "Those kids are somethin', ain't they?"

"They certainly are. I don't know whether to hug them or strangle them sometimes." Michaela leaned forward self-consciously, as if she were revealing a secret. "They didn't have to leave the room."

"No." Sully leaned forward, meeting her halfway, catching her vulnerable face in his palms, and whispered furtively, "But sometimes it's nice to have some privacy."

Michaela felt her mind freeze as her heart raced ahead. His lips fell to the side of hers, barely touching her in the simplest of kisses. She dropped her head, losing contact with his lips and closed her eyes. Michaela pressed her hand against his chest, inadvertently gripping his shirt as she tried to ease him away, which only kept him locked to her. "Sully…" She strained.

Sully pulled back on his own, placing his hand over her tense fingers. "What? What's wrong? I thought this was ok."

"It's…" Michaela took a deep breath and opened her eyes. He was so close. She could feel his heat. His breath. The intensity of his eyes. He was there waiting, and she had no idea how to let him inside.

"It's what?" He prodded, gently squeezing her hand at his chest. Slowly, he slid her fingers between his and covered his heart with her hand. He waited for her.

His heartbeat traveled up her nerves, through her arm, all the way to her own churning sound. She loved him. She didn't know why certain moments felt so strange. Barely audible, she admitted, "It makes me feel things. Frightening things."

Sully frowned, worry grabbing him fast. "You're scared of me?"

Michaela shook her head, anxiety overcoming her. "I don't know what it is. You overwhelm me sometimes."

"Hey, hey…" Sully almost touched the side of her face, but quickly took his hand back, second guessing himself. He shifted on the floor, moving closer to her, but still hesitated as their left and right hands held at his chest. "I don't expect nothin', ya know that right?"

Michaela shook her head again, uncertainty filling her, as she pressed down on his heart. "No. I-I can feel you."

"O' course!" Sully sighed, frustration running through his body as he stared into her apprehensive eyes. Restraint left him unawares as he pressed his forehead against hers and whispered ardently, "I love you, Michaela. That's what ya feel."

Michaela gasped, still not completely used to the words. She felt them; he felt them—but his vocabulary was one of necessity, and sometimes, he forgot to say it. She peered into his eyes, and her body and thoughts softened as he held her. He exhaled and whispered again, not knowing what else to say, "I love ya… I love ya—"

Sully had no more use for words. His feelings ran deeper than any poet could describe or orator could narrate. He loved her, and it was beyond the words itself. He could do nothing but wait. As silence spanned out in front of them, Michaela quickly felt his physical presence circling her and she trembled against him. "Oh God," she uttered once, as she lowered her chin, letting her lips hover slightly over his.

Sully didn't move as she came to him. Light as falling snow, Michaela pressed her lips against his. Sully kept a firm hold on her hand, while the other helplessly sought out the solid support of the bench.

Then slowly, so not to frighten her, he began to kiss her back. Michaela's head and heart twisted as she heard Sully moan deep in his throat. She swallowed, keeping the urge to echo him repressed, as she heard her mother's shocked voice in her ear, reproaching her for ignoring her upbringing and propriety. But it faded a bit when she felt Sully's heartbeat quicken under her fingers, and a small grin formed as she realized she was the reason for it. But then she nearly stopped breathing when Sully leaned closer, and her hand slipped into the opening of his white shirt. His skin was warm and taut against her fingers, and despite her best efforts, Michaela sighed, powerless to stop herself.

Sully stopped thinking as he felt her touch against his skin. He let go of the bench and fully circled his arms around her waist. Now he was shaking. He hadn't expected this tonight. They had kissed before—but it had always been with the safety of friends and family around. Never in such a way that they could be truly intimate with each other. Forgetting words and fears, he kissed her fully, passion driving him as he pulled her closer.

Michaela's hand splayed across his chest, and she didn't know whether to push him away or give into the confusion surfacing deep inside of her, but then she felt his kiss change, exploring her mouth tenderly, curiously, lovingly. Tentatively, she opened her mouth as he filled her with temptations and longings and desires she didn't know she possessed. She had no idea she had been waiting for this her entire life.

The fire crackled beside them, and the rest of cabin fell to silence, except for Brian, who was completely twisted in his blankets, eyeing his big sister, restlessly. "But I'm thirsty, Colleen!" He whispered to her cot.

Colleen reached over and covered his mouth. "Wait until Sully leaves, Brian!"

Brian crossed his arms and turned over on his side facing her. "I don't get why we can't be with 'em anyway."

Colleen rolled her eyes and stared out the window. "You wouldn't, ya dumb boy."

"Hey! Take that back!" Brian raised his voice a little.

"Shh! Ya gotta be quiet! We're supposed to be sleepin'!" Colleen gestured wildly. She frowned as she listened for her ma's reproach, but she didn't hear a peep. "They sure are awful quiet in there."

"I wonder what they're doin'," Brian mused, turning innocent eyes to Colleen.

Her first kiss flashed in her mind immediately. At that moment, Colleen had never been more thankful for the darkness. She rolled over in the bed, facing the wall. "Um… Ma's been workin' real hard, Brian. I-I bet they fell asleep by the fire."

"Maybe we should go wake 'em up. I wouldn't want Ma to get smelly like Pup. I bet Sully wouldn't mind though." Brian pushed his covers back, and Colleen quickly jumped on top of him.

"Ya move outta this bed, and I'm gonna stick pillows feathers in your mouth!" Brian froze. For some reason, he believed Colleen this time.

Michaela surely didn't hear a word of their conversation. She could barely hear herself think as they continued to kiss in such a way that sent her nerves spiraling out of control. She was waking up in winter, and she didn't know how to stop the spring. She had never been this close to a man before, and everything about this moment seemed right and wrong and beautiful and frightening; but the surprisingly realization came like a storm. What frightened her wasn't this man—it was herself.

But passion's fire blazed too fast as Sully pulled her into his lap. Michaela took a deep breath, pushing back on Sully's heart as her lips left his. They stared in each other's eyes, shocked back into reality by the space between them.

Michaela stood suddenly and leaned against the mantle of the fire, her chest heaving as her thoughts swirled about like sparks, unable to be squelched. Sully quickly stood up beside her and put his hand on the small of her back. She reacted to his touch immediately, closing her eyes again, trying to control herself. "Hey… ya alright?"

"I… I think you should go, Sully," Michaela said, emotion drained from her voice.

Sully faltered on his feet, feeling uneven on the ground. "Are ya upset?"

Michaela shook her head, looking straight forward, trying not to cry.

Sully felt like a brick wall had been laid between them. "Are ya mad at me?"

Michaela barely moved her lips. "We just shouldn't have… That's all."

Sully grabbed her shoulders and tried to turn her around. "We were just kissin'!"

Michaela stepped back, putting clear distance between them. "It's more than that. You don't understand."

"But—"

"Please. Just go." Sully stopped and stared at her, waiting for something to break. But she didn't move.

He turned around and walked out the door, confused and bothered, his lips were still warm from her kiss as he walked out into the cold night. He turned around as the door shut behind him. He had forgotten his jacket.

He kept walking towards his lean-to, too stubborn to go back. Too worried he might say or do something they both would regret. As he reached the patch of trees where his home rested, a gust of wind flew in from the east. It didn't matter. He didn't feel the cold. He reached for the end of his shirt and peeled it over his head, mocking the winter. He fell down on his blankets, and as he thought of her, it began to snow.

Michaela stood by the window, holding his leather jacket in her hands, waiting for him to come back. When he didn't, she went to the rocking chair and covered herself with it. She didn't have an explanation. She wondered if she ever would as she began to rock, knowing she would never be able to sleep again without dreaming of him.