Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman

Abduction Aftermath

A Sacrifice of Love

Summary

Abduction Aftermath follows directly from the final cliff scene in "The Abduction", and delves into the consequences following the struggle between One Eye and Sully, with a very different ending; Michaela must deal with being recaptured by the dog soldiers, and fight for her survival until she is ultimately rescued. The struggle does not end there, as Dr Mike must overcome life-threatening trauma, only to live through the town's judgments and contempt, to begin the slow and painful path of self-discovery. Michaela is not alone on her journey, as the trauma of her abduction has long-lasting effects on others: from Brian's attachment insecurities, to Colleen's limited adult-thinking. Matthew struggles to determine his role, be it son or 'man of the house', and Sully endeavors to salvage not only his relationship with Michaela, but her very view of herself. Trauma does not affect one person, or even one family alone; each member of this community will battle with their own opinions, and perceptions, in the ultimate yearning for human growth and healing.

Disclaimer:

Whilst some of the characters and names portrayed in this fan fiction remain the property of the CBS network, the events depicted are of my own creation. Where, on several occasions, individuals both living and deceased have been used, no assumption regarding the accuracy of their personality is assumed, and their beliefs are ascertained solely from available research. This material is published solely for entertainment and non-commercial enjoyment.

Teaser:

X.O.X

Tuesday, 9th May, 1869

Day Four of Michaela's Abduction

X.O.X

Michaela ran towards the edge of the cliff, stumbling in an attempt to halt her speed as she noticed the sharp drop to the rocks below. Turning back towards Sully, he too, began looking desperately for an alternate path from the pack of dog soldiers, the pair quickly making their way up the rocks in front of them. They continued to dodge bullets and rocks, unable to find an escape, as the dog soldiers' war cries closed in on them, fast. Michaela turned, noticing One Eye behind them, tomahawk gripped securely in his right hand.

"Sully!" she screamed, and grasped his arm. As he turned around, he narrowly missed the sharp blade as it flew past, only several inches from his head. Michaela felt her breath catch in her throat, as she took several steps away from Sully, watching the renegade approach him, and drew a knife from his right side. Sully hesitated, trying to gauge the dog soldier's movements, his eyes darting frantically between the anticipated struggle and Michaela, who remained several feet to his left. One Eye lunged towards him, and managed to throw a punch to the right side of his face. The force of the blow threw Sully off-balance, and the men arrived on the rough cliff edge, locked in primitive struggle.

Michaela felt her jaw drop, and a silent gasp of horror escaped her lips, as she witnessed the vicious brawl which ensured. Sully and One Eye continued to roll, until they arrived dangerously close to the edge of the cliff, still wrestling with each other in unwavering determination; both knew what was at stake.

X.O.X

The several seconds that followed felt like an eternity, as Michaela continued to watch the deadly scuffle; occasional grunts of protest and effort were emitted, as Sully managed to flip One Eye over onto his back. For a moment, as he prepared to push him from the edge of the cliff, Sully felt the relief wash over him; it was nearly all over. Michaela took a step closer, sensing that the struggle was nearing an end, however felt her eyes widen in disbelief, as the renegade dog soldier secured his hands tightly against Sully's upper arms. Sully felt the force of the grip, and was momentarily distracted by shock, this giving his attacker the mere fragment of a moment, to shift him off-balance, and throw him forwards above him. Sully felt the man's fingers released from his arms, a strangled cry of welling from his chest, as he was sent hurtling over the edge of the cliff, to the mass of jagged rocks below.

"No!" Michaela screamed, as her hands covered her face. She could barely feel the movement of her feet underneath her, as she raced to the edge of the cliff. Michaela felt a lightening bolt of terror flash through her veins, as her eyes located Sully's motionless form, lying sprawled on the rocks below.

"Sully! Sully!" Her voice was hoarse, and tears fell uncontrollably from her cheeks, as she squinted, leaning forwards to desperately glimpse any sign of movement. As if in slow motion, Michaela's attention was pulled away, when she felt a hand on her arm, pulling her back from the edge of the cliff.

"Sully!" Automatically resisting against the grasp, Michaela turned back around to the cliff edge, her eyes flickering between Sully's lifeless form, and the tempting salvation of the jagged rocks below.

She felt her chest tighten with anxiety, at the consideration of allowing herself to drop forwards to a self-determined fate, suspecting that death may be a more desirable outcome than the one that faced her. Michaela didn't get a further opportunity to contemplate the decision, as One Eye secured his hand firmly around her upper arm, and dragged her away from the edge once again.

Feeling the uneven surface tear at her already lacerated and bleeding feet, Michaela continued her echoing calls; her voice high-pitched and raw with terror and pain. Her gaze slipped from his still body, as she prayed that as she felt her feet trip along the torturous surface, she would hear something; that somehow, he would appear.

He did not move.

Chapter 1

"No, no. Let me go to him, please," Michaela begged, however received no response. She struggled against One Eye's grasp, fighting the pain in her damaged feet as much as the mental battle to return to Sully's aid. She felt his large hands squeeze painfully around her delicate wrists, as One Eye pulled some rawhide from his belt and once again, bound her arms. As the group of dog soldiers headed back down the mountain, Michaela still fought to pull back and check on Sully, and each time was forced more violently in the opposite direction.

"Sully!" Michaela felt tears once again well in her eyes as she continued down the mountain. The pain of the rocks under her feet provided a numbing distraction from the realization that Sully's lack of movement indicated the very worst of outcomes.

X.O.X

Colleen and Brian ran to the Reverend's side, as Custer and his soldiers prepared the Indians on the gallows. "Reverend, can't you stop this?" Matthew pleaded, certain that Sully and Dr Mike would have arrived back in time.

"No," Timothy looked up and saw Grace and Robert E. leave, disgusted by the sight. "I want you children to leave right now," Timothy spoke, as he ushered Colleen and Brian away, now feeling certain that the unspeakable massacre was actually going to occur.

"Please, Cloud Dancing is my friend." Brian protested, gripping the Reverend's arm, a child-like expression of pleading coming to his face.

"You can't let him do this, please, you have to stop him," Colleen continued, her eyes betraying the horror she felt, as she looked between the gallows and the Reverend.

Timothy shook his head, and slowly scanned the meadow around him, confident Sully and Dr Mike would have arrived back by now. It was already two in the afternoon; he'd begged Custer for as much extra time as he could. It was then that he saw the movement; a small gray presence coming towards them at a fantastic speed.

"Wait! General!" Timothy called as he spotted the animal running toward the crowd. Yes, that is what it was. A wolf.

"What is it Reverend?" Custer replied angrily, the endless distractions and hold-ups fuelling his frustration. He merely wanted to get this over with, however, did not want to risk criminal liability for killing Indians should it be avoidable. Taking a dozen or so steps across the crowded meadow, the General approached the Reverend's side.

"I think that's Sully's wolf," Reverend Johnson pointed out the animal to the General and the children.

"It is. Here Wolf, here boy!" Matthew called, immediately fearing the worst. Bystanders turned, as the exhausted animal dutifully stopped by Matthew's side.

"He's got something in his mouth," Brian commented, as the wolf dropped Sully's beads at Matthew's feet with a whimper.

"They're Sully's. Something's wrong. He mustn't be able to get here. Please General; you've got to go look for him. There's no way Wolf would have these unless something was wrong." Matthew picked up the colored beads and patted Wolf in gratitude. Colleen clutched closer to his side, a small utterance of fear causing Matthew to wrap his right arm supportively around her back.

"Are you out of your mind? I've got a job to do son. Mr. Sully was specifically instructed that there would be no rescue attempt, should he get into trouble. And frankly, I wouldn't know where to start looking." The General dismissed quickly, and turned back to the gallows, however was distracted once again by the sound of the young boy's voice.

"Wolf could show you, sir," Brian whispered, and gripped the man's arm with the pleading look that only a young child has.

"He's right, General. Sully and Wolf are never separated, unless he's hurt. And if Sully's hurt, Dr Mike's still out there. We know she'll be killed in a matter of time, please, just search until the end of today, these Indians aren't going anywhere, and they'll be just as dead this time tomorrow." Matthew continued, his right hand gesturing to the caged villagers across the meadow.

"I'm not traipsing around the mountains following some dog. Sergeant," The General turned back to the gallows, signaling his approval.

"Please!" Brian pulled harder on the General's arm, the unchecked tears glistening against his pale cheeks. "Please, sir, don't do this. Killing all these people won't bring my Ma back. Can't you just look for her for awhile? Don't want nothin' to happen to her. Please?" Brian begged, his right arm shaking, as his older brother stepped forward to remove him.

Custer tried to shake the small boy off, however was not able to escape the truth in his words. Brian looked hopefully between Colleen and the General before continuing. "Please, sir, it's my birthday tomorrow, and I want my Ma back. I mean, I did want a horse; she's a real pretty horse and all, I asked Ma if I could," Brian rambled on, eventually being cut off by the General in exasperation.

"All right, enough!" Custer relented, and ordered the Indians returned to the confinement. He could finish the job tomorrow; however he'd look even better if he managed to rescue the Doctor as well.

"All right. Reinforcements have arrived from Denver; we'll start a search party. Half of the soldiers will stay here and guard the Indians, the other half will look for Dr Quinn." General Custer responded, not expecting Colleen to rush to his side in gratitude.

"Oh, thank-you, sir. General," she corrected herself, her hands clasped tightly together. "It's been four days now. You've got to get her back. Please." Colleen begged. Brian hugged her, as the three Cooper children watched the General return to the soldiers.

"What about Sully?" Matthew commented, noticing the whining wolf still at their feet, sniffing Sully's beads in a forlorn manner.

"I don't think they're interested in him, somehow," the Reverend replied, watching on as the soldiers mounted their horses and prepared to leave the town.

"Well then, we'll have to find him ourselves," Matthew replied, gathering the Reverend, Jake, Hank, Horace and Loren together into a small circle.

"We gotta head out there, can't leave it up to the army. Custer ain't interested, all he's interested in is killin'." Matthew folded his arms tightly across his chest, gesturing back towards Cloud Dancing and the other villagers.

"You're right about that. Ain't gonna stick with it any longer than he needs to. Reckon we'd have a better chance," Loren nodded, considering the proposition, Hank retorting with a cynical grunt.

"I ain't wasting my time on this; I've got a business to run. If Sully had a found her by now, they'd be back. He's probably tied up over some campfire bein' tortured, and Michaela's," Hank raised his right eyebrow, receiving a very disproving glare from the Reverend.

"Talk like that ain't gonna help, no-one, Hank." Horace stated curtly, Hank responding with a flick of his long hair, as he sidled back to the Saloon.

"Wolf here can lead us to Sully; Dr Mike's gotta be with him," Matthew reasoned, the others agreeing, and quickly dispersing to the livery to commence their search.

X.O.X

"You all gonna be right?" Robert E. secured a blanket and canteen to the back of his horse, turning to glance at his wife, who stood between Colleen and Brian.

"Now don't you men start worryin' 'bout us, you just get on out there. Find Sully and Dr Mike," Grace nodded seriously, glancing around as Robert E., Matthew, the Reverend, Horace, Jake, and Loren all finished preparing their horses.

"Might be a few days, depends how far we have to travel," Robert E. locked eyes with Matthew as the men began mounting their horses and departing from the coopering.

"Just don't come back 'til ya got, Ma, Matthew." Brian squeezed Colleen's right hand against his shoulder, seeing the convoy depart hastily.

"Don't you worry, little brother. Gonna be fine," Matthew reassured, quickly locating the Wolf by his side. "Go on, boy, find." Matthew watched as the wolf quickly broke out into an even pace, the six men having to push their horses to keep up.

"Let's, let's go check on that soup, Brian." Grace patted the young boy's shoulder, attempting to distract him from the inevitable wait; perhaps in truth, more to distract her own mind from troubled wanderings.

X.O.X

The Cheyenne dog soldier rested his hands loosely around the white woman's waist, ensuring she was secured on the horse as they neared their destination. From his position, sitting close behind her, One Eye could smell the faint floral scent of her hair, as it brushed against his face. She had remained quiet for their journey, barely moving as they rode along the uneven terrain. Moving closer against her back, aroused, he smiled to himself, knowing she would soon be his.

Ever since she had challenged him that day on the Reservation, he had wanted her. He saw the fire of determination in her eyes from the moment he first held the knife to her neck. It was that terror which had captivated his interest for the past four days. He was glad Walks on Cloud had dissuaded him from killing her earlier, for her contained fear and panic had provided him with many moments of enthrallment. There was no telling how long the necessary revolts between the renegade Cheyenne and the army were to continue, and he longed for pleasure.

As they arrived at the abandoned reservation, One Eye slipped a hand to her stomach, running it against the smooth material of her skirt, feeling her soft flesh underneath. He felt the warmth of her back against his broad chest, and once again, indulged in the sight of her creamy, smooth skin, exposed through her torn blouse. Surprised when she did not resist, the dog soldier smiled to himself; night would fall soon.

Michaela lifted her head when she noticed the horse come to a stop. She had been asleep, and had no recollection of the journey. Brushing her matted hair from her face, Michaela looked up to see the deserted camp surrounding her. It was the same place she'd been taken the first night when the dog soldiers had abducted her from the Caraway's homestead, however it was now empty, as unbeknownst to Michaela, the army had taken the women and children prisoner. From the position of the sun in the sky, she guessed it was late in the afternoon. As she felt herself being pulled from the horse, Michaela dismally comprehended that she was to spend another night here; another night, cold and hungry. She felt tears sting her eyes once again, as her scratched, blistered feet touched the rough ground. However, it was not cold nor hunger which she dreaded the most; it was the unshielded look of desire she could read in her abductor's face.

"Please," Michaela sobbed; the pain of trying to walk exacerbating her already fragile emotional state. One Eye continued pulling her across the camp, eventually pushing her down onto the ground as he lit a fire several feet in front of her. Michaela wiped the tears from her face awkwardly, as she took a deep breath, gazing around at her surroundings. She felt isolated, alone. Worst of all, she felt helplessly vulnerable; as if control had been taken from her, her fate now dictated by men she knew would kill her without conscience. The other dog soldiers chatted amongst themselves, occasionally laughing and gesturing to her. Michaela once again pictured Sully's body lying at the bottom of the cliff, the image immediately dashing any lingering hope she had that he would appear and take her home. After several minutes of solitude, Michaela startled when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Instinctively, she pulled away.

"Don't," she pleaded, trying to pull away from One Eye's touch, however this not deterring him, as he stroked her hair in an attempt at affection. Michaela felt herself gasp several times, as she fought the repulsion that consumed her. Barely able to muster the energy, she struck her abuser directly in the chest with her bound hands, however, instantly regretted her actions, when she felt a smarting pain as his hand collided with the side of her face. Not knowing whether it was his hand, or the collision with the ground, Michaela moaned at the burning pain which radiated from her right cheek, as she raised her head slowly, spitting the dirt from her mouth. Protectively rolling over into a defensive ball, Michaela buried her head in her chest and drew her knees to her stomach, her breathing heavy as she tried to block out the throbbing pain.

X.O.X

"You didn't have to stay out here, Miss Dorothy." Colleen smiled over at the red-haired woman as they finished cooking supper.

"Don't be silly, Colleen, I was happy to. What with Matthew and Loren away, I was glad of the company. Besides, we couldn't have the two of you staying out here on your own." Dorothy added some wood to the fire, and sat back down as Colleen placed the fried chicken on the table, and took her seat.

"Brian, supper's ready. I made your favorite." Colleen called to the young boy, who was moving gently in the rocking chair, his feet pulled up to his chest.

"Colleen, think they've found her yet?" Brian asked, not ceasing the soothing rocking backwards and forwards.

"I don't know, Brian. Come on, you love fried chicken. I made it special for ya!" She smiled, taking the plate of chicken from Dorothy, and moving some onto her plate.

"I'm not hungry. I want Ma back." He looked away from her with a frown, as he stared back into the fire.

"Starving yaself ain't gonna bring her back, silly," Colleen was just as worried as Brian, and his tantrums were not helping to ease the solemn mood.

"It ain't silly, I don't want any dumb old chicken!" Brian yelled back.

"Come on, children, please don't argue. We'll know more in the morning when the men get back. Brian, you don't have to have any supper, but you want to be strong tomorrow, don't you? It's your birthday, we're gonna have cake, and you'll get presents." Dorothy tried to lighten the ambiance in the room, returning her attention to the crisp chicken and vegetables on her plate. After several moments of silence, Brian eventually skulked to the table, nibbling on his favorite meal.

"I don't want a birthday party tomorrow, Miss Dorothy. Don't much feel like celebratin'," Brian whispered, turning his attention once again back to the blazing fire.

X.O.X

Michaela gazed from the starry night sky down into the fire burning only several feet away. Her eyes were sore from crying, as was her bruised cheek and bleeding feet. Moving her head slowly to look around her, she felt a strange sense of deja-vu creep over her. She remained perfectly still, holding her breath as One Eye approached her, handing her some cooked meat and water. Realizing she had no chance of escape, and feeling nauseous with hunger, Michaela accepted the offering, drinking until her throat no longer burnt from thirst, and eating the first food she'd had since the plate of berries and honeycomb. She remembered the taste of the honey on her lips, as Sully held her softly in his arms. Swallowing, she felt fresh tears trickle down her cheeks. He would be dead by now for certain; if the fall alone had not killed him.

Her thoughts of Sully were quickly interrupted when she was again pulled to her feet. Immediately resisting, Michaela gasped as she felt his hand once again stroke her cheek. She held her breath, every ounce of strength being used to resist the urge to pull away or defend herself. Her mind was in turmoil, intellect and instinct grappling against each other. Even if she got away, she had nowhere to run, and she knew he could still kill her if he did not think she was worth the trouble. Michaela was brought back into the present moment, when she felt his hand move down her throat to her chest, cupping her left breast firmly.

"No, please," she pleaded, looking desperately around the camp at the other dog soldiers watching on. There were no women left anymore, and the faces staring back at her were cold and unsympathetic.

Michaela felt his hold on her upper arm strengthen, and reluctantly was directed back towards a nearby tepee. Paralyzing reality struck her in a single moment. She didn't think she could move, however, knew physical resistance was a dangerous defense.

"Please, I don't," Michaela begged again, knowing she had no choice, but not being able to go willingly, fully aware of what the fate which awaited her. Feeling her fear rise as she took one step in the intended direction and then another, Michaela heard the choked sob catch in her throat, almost wishing herself dead rather than the alternative. It was in that instant of complete mental isolation, that Michaela found herself unintentionally picture the children; Matthew, Colleen, Brian. She felt a small pebble under her right foot, the intrusive pain enough to force Michaela to concentrate more firmly on the images inside her head.

With each step towards the tepee, Michaela forced herself to focus on being back home, being back with her children. Brian. It was his birthday tomorrow. She couldn't see him hurt again. He couldn't be put through the loss of another mother. Michaela knew in that moment, that whatever happened, she had to stay alive. That she wouldn't be killed unless she fought. Somehow, no matter what, if she could stay alive, she would be rescued. Michaela saw fragments of her life pass through her eyes, she thought of her father, of Sully, and again of the children. She was strong; determined.

She would survive this.

X.O.X

Hank paced up and down the porch of the Saloon, nodding as Grace crossed the street, having just called into the store.

"Well, Grace, haven't seen anyone come back yet, you heard anythin'?" He exhaled a puff of smoke from his mouth.

"Nothing. Sure is quiet around here." Grace shook her head, miserably.

"Yeah, hear Dorothy's lookin' after the kids, guess it's just you an' me" He winked with a twisted smile.

"Save your breath, Hank Lawson. Seeing as how you weren't bothered to go out after Dr Mike." Grace pulled her shawl tighter around her shoulders, turning to leave.

"I just didn't see the point is all. Even if they find her alive, she'll wish she was dead after what them injuns probably done to her." Hank sneered, taking another puff of his cigar.

"You can't say that," Grace trailed off, contemplating the suggestion.

"Sure can. You heard Jake and Loren talkin' about what they're like a few weeks back. Probably doin' her a favor if they kill her anyway." Hank rested an arm casually on the Saloon door. From the look on his face and slurring of his words he may as well have been chatting about the weather.

"Well, it don't matter what happens, as long as they find her alive," Grace replied defensively, her voice shaky.

"Easy for you to say that, all tucked up safe and sound here. How'd you feel having to lay down with one of those savages. Probably all of 'em. Suppose they do find her, no man'll ever touch her again." Hank scoffed, one eyebrow raised.

"You've got a very cruel streak, Hank Lawson. May God have mercy on your soul, and heaven forbid you ever need the help of your friends." Grace was just about to storm off, when they heard the sound of approaching horses.

"Well, well, maybe we'll get this over and done with sooner than we thought." Hank, Grace and the other townsfolk ran across to the cavalry as they stopped their horses in the main street.

"What happened, did you find them?" Grace asked, addressing General Custer.

"No, didn't find a thing, few abandoned campsites here and there but they could be anywhere," Custer replied gruffly, exhausted from the day's trek, wanting nothing more than a hot meal and warm cot.

"But they're still out there. You can't just leave 'em," Grace raised her voice slightly; it had been five days now.

"Well, if they're still alive, we couldn't find 'em. And since Dr Quinn's still missing, we've got some hangings to prepare for, come morning." Custer retorted, before ordering his men back to their tents for the night.

"Oh, that man," Grace trailed off, disgusted.

"Hey, least he tried. Up to me, I'd 'ave just got rid of the whole lot of 'em savages right off. Save ourselves the effort." Hank threw his cigarette butt into the nearby spittoon, with a smile.

"Let's just hope the men have more luck," Grace concluded, making her way back to the café briskly.

X.O.X

As she was pushed through the flap into the small tepee, Michaela looked back once again, trying to enlist someone's help; however by this stage, the other Indians had lost interest, and had resumed their conversations. Taking another forced breath, Michaela turned as One Eye closed the tepee flap behind them, and led her towards the pile of blankets in the far right corner. Feeling nausea threaten to push her into retaliation, Michaela dropped her eyes closed, reminding herself once again that her children needed her; alive. That she must survive. Aware of the soft blankets underneath her, she felt her center of gravity shift, keeping her eyes closed, as she felt his rough hands seize her shoulders.

Having overcome her natural instinct to escape the situation, Michaela felt the raw terror sweep over her; turning her blood cold, as she grappled with the comprehension that nightmare was about to become reality. She must force herself to submit to that which repulsed her beyond consideration. Michaela was distracted from her inner dialogue, as she felt the blankets against her back, realizing, with some disorientation, that she'd been guided downwards and into a level position, flat against the ground.

"Please, don't hurt me." She heard the now familiar plea pass her lips, knowing she'd uttered them more to reassure herself than to influence her would-be ravisher. Michaela swallowed and closed her eyes tighter as she felt his fingers on her blouse, undoing the few remaining buttons that were still left. She felt his other hand slip underneath her skirt and along her legs, involuntarily resisting the contact with her bound hands.

"Stop, stop!" Michaela struggled to pull away, unable to withstand his touch. One Eye reacted without delay, grabbing hers wrists and securing her arms painfully above her head with his left hand. His right hand moved quickly to his belt, as he drew his knife and leant back over Michaela's small body, to press it against her throat.

"Neve'nêheševe! Netanová!" he snarled, increasing the force with which the implement made contact with her skin, causing Michaela to whimper as the sharp edge of the blade cut into her neck. The language barrier was the least of her concerns. No-one needed a translation for something so primitive; if she resisted, he'd kill her. Once again closing her eyes and letting her arms go limp above her head, Michaela pictured the children. Tears formed behind her closed eyelids.

She felt One Eye's hands unbutton her skirt and pull it down from her waist. He moved his knife from her throat to the edge of her chemise, and cut through the thin material in one sharp motion to expose her chest. Michaela squirmed involuntarily in response to the invading gesture, however, saw the blade of the knife glimmer above her, and focused all her efforts on again remaining still. Realizing she understood the consequence if she were to struggle, One Eye returned the knife to his belt, and repositioned himself against her.

Eyes dropping closed again, Michaela felt her body freeze. Resistance was not an option, she'd angered him enough already. She knew the only way she would stay alive would be to allow the inevitable to occur.

Michaela was far away in her head before she felt his lips on hers and his hands on her chest. Managing to overpower physical and mental disgust, she struggled for breath, the night air feeling cold against her exposed flesh. Swallowing, and taking another shallow gasp of air, Michaela directed her attention to combating the nausea welling up from her stomach, as she was conscious of his hands groping her upper body.

"Please," she whispered, not knowing whether to be relieved or not when she felt his lips leave hers. Taking several revitalizing breaths, Michaela slowly opened her eyes, just as she felt his hands move downwards to reach the waistband of her bloomers. Feeling every muscle in her body tense, Michaela turned her head to the left side, letting her eyes once again drop closed.

Tears trickled silently down her cheeks as she felt the cool air hit her exposed flesh. She tried to remove herself from the physical sensations she was experiencing, knowing that thinking about what she was allowing to take place would make compliance impossible.

Michaela remembered why she had to get through this: the children. She forced every fiber within her to block out the feeling of the Indian's hands on her thighs. Disjointed images flooded her consciousness until they locked once again on Brian. She remembered the feeling of running her fingers through his fine, soft hair, remembered the look on Brian's face when she found the bruises on the back of his legs, just over a week ago, after Miss Chambers had struck him. Michaela knew she had to be there to protect him, and reflected upon her conversation that night. Feeling Brian pressed against her chest, as she hugged him tightly and sang him to sleep, Michaela couldn't hear anything at that point aside from her breathing, nor could she feel the dog soldier's fingers on her cold flesh. Taking the chance at opening her eyes, Michaela felt her mouth dry and her dread escalate as she saw and felt his naked form descend onto hers.

"Oh God," Michaela bit her lower lip as she felt his weight press down on top of her, praying silently that something would prevent the inevitable from occurring. Feeling his hand on her knee, Michaela struggled for breath, aware of the tears running down her face and neck. As he forced her legs apart, she felt her entire body shake in unmitigated terror. Trying to resist, Michaela pushed her hands against the blankets above her head, searching for something, anything to grasp, or use as a weapon. Feeling only the blanket between her clutched fingers, Michaela realized her arms weren't actually moving; having been immobilized by fear. She couldn't move at all by that stage, leaving her with no other sanctuary than her mind. As much as every inch of her spirit told her to fight, her body was frozen.

"No," Michaela heard her voice come from nowhere, nothing more than a dutiful sobbed plea, uttered simply to console her own conscience. She moved her gaze up to the top of the tepee, able to see several stars illuminating the night sky. She could feel his fingers touching her, preparing to enter her.

Michaela forced her eyes closed and held her breath, images flashing across her mind as she tried to accept her impending fate. Having previously being able to mentally distract herself from physical reality, Michaela sensed the air within her rush out in a pained moan, as she felt him invade her. Gasping, she tried to move her hands, anything to make the overwhelming pain stop. She realized he had her wrists pinned above her head, making it impossible for her to move. Michaela struggled for awareness beyond the physical torment being inflicted upon her, inescapably conscious of every movement. She was unable to control the drawn-out cry that continued to flow from her lips; the physical pain being worse than she could have anticipated. Michaela was left incapable of concentrating on anything else, no matter how hard she struggled.

"Stop," she whimpered, as tears streamed uncontrollably from her eyes. "Please." She felt the breath pass from her mouth, however unable to hear her own utterance. Michaela felt her teeth return to her lower lip, in a desperate attempt to endure the burning pain, physical torture having swiftly taken over from emotional violation.

Sully.

Michaela wept, her cries only strengthening when she reminded herself he could not save her. Michaela was soon distracted by the taste of blood in her mouth, as her teeth bit through her lower lip. She felt him forcing his way deeper inside of her, however, could only let out a low whimper of sustained protest. The hot tears streamed down her face and Michaela was able to taste their saltiness in her mouth, as it melded with her own blood.

Eventually, the darkness behind her eyelids faded away until she was back in Colorado Springs, in the meadow. It was the celebration of Washington's birthday, and Brian had been so excited about his upcoming performance as a young George Washington. He'd been practicing for days, wandering around the Clinic murmuring his 'line'. He looked adorable in his outfit and hat, chopping down the 'cherry tree' with Sully's tomahawk. Pushing her head back harder against the blankets underneath her, Michaela could hear Brian's innocent voice fluttering through fragments of words and conversation. She could see Colleen's face as she handed her the stethoscope with frostbitten hands; she knew she had to hold onto these memories.

Michaela felt her consciousness resurface to the present moment, the stinging from her lip providing welcome competition to the uncontrollable pain she was suffering. Still, she kept her eyes closed, begging for unconsciousness to sweep her away from torture; feeling the dog soldier's hot, panting breath against her cheek, as his hands roughly assaulted her upper body. Slowly, the comforting darkness found her.

Her next sensation was the roughness of a blanket as it was thrown against her bare skin. Moving her hands slowly, to push the corner of the object from her mouth and nose, Michaela waited several minutes before opening her eyes to confirm her isolation. Not daring to move, she felt the tears dry on her face, before she eventually attempted to pull herself into a sitting position.

Immediately, Michaela felt the blood as it trickled down her legs. Hesitantly removing the blanket that covered her, she gasped when she saw the bright red stain underneath her and the blood which covered her thighs. Without further thought, Michaela moved slightly, and tried to reach for her bloomers which lay several feet away, before being overcome by pain and disorientation. Unable to think beyond that moment, she dropped back against the blanket. As her thoughts slowly rationalized, she regretted that she'd left her petticoat on the rock when they'd departed that morning, thinking it would be too awkward to climb through the mountains wearing it.

Feeling the blankets underneath her, Michaela felt tears of hopelessness return. She would never be rescued, probably killed come morning. The prospect of spending more nights going through what she just had, seemed just as abhorrent. Michaela felt the piercing discomfort intensify as she struggled to endure her environment, feeling pain, fear, and coldness merge together into one emotional experience. Merely by taking one breath, after another, after another, Michaela knew she could stay alive. Drowsiness soon became a welcomed refuge, and, moving very guardedly, into a protective ball, she fell to a semi-conscious sleep.