"Robert," Sully said, startled.
Sully stood and shook Robert's hand, never releasing Michaela's hand from his own.
"Mr. Sully," Robert replied.
"I'd like you to finally meet my fiancé, Michaela Quinn." Sully introduced.
Robert tipped his hat. "Ms. Quinn."
"Dr. Quinn," Sully corrected.
Michaela smiled as Sully corrected him. It seemed always that she was correcting people when they didn't believe that she was a real doctor and it felt empowering to have someone else stand up for her.
"It's nice to meet you," Michaela said quietly. "Thank you for helping to save my life."
"As I said, no thanks necessary, ma'am," he responded.
"I thought you went back to Kansas City," Sully remarked.
"Wanted to make sure that your fiancé here pulled through."
"Thank you for your concern," Michaela replied.
"Fact is, I didn't just come here ta make sure she was alright," Robert admitted. "Came here ta take her back where she belongs." Sully looked at him strangely, having no idea what he meant. "A woman's gotta be held ta her promise."
"What promise?" Sully questioned.
"The promise she makes when she marries a man," Robert answered.
"What are you talking about?" Sully asked.
"I'm sayin' that she belongs to Samuel."
"Sully…" Michaela said, unsure of what to do or say. Sully turned to her quickly and gave her a reassuring look but he wasn't quite sure what was going on, either. "Ya don't get it, do you, Mr. Sully?"
"Ya'll asked me how I knew Samuel so well…"
"Because of your sister…"
"Ain't no sister, Mr. Sully. Just my brother and me."
"Your brother? Samuel's your brother?"
"Twin brother…only one I got."
Sully suddenly reached for his tomahawk. Robert pulled a gun from the holster attached to his hip.
"I don't understand," Sully stuttered. Nothing seemed to make sense to him. He wished that he was just in a bad dream and that he would wake up in his lean-to in the woods at any moment but he knew that it was no dream.
"All part of the game, Mr. Sully. Ya see, our momma was a real nice lady. Always helped the townsfolk, raised us good. Delivered all the babies in town, my mama did. Half the town wouldn't be here if it weren't for her. On the night of our eighteenth birthday, my momma got word that one of the ladies in town was goin' in to labor. My mama left to deliver that baby but she didn't ever come back. That woman who had that baby killed my momma 'cause that baby died. Wasn't my momma's fault but she done killed her anyway. Ain't never felt pain like that day I lost our momma."
"What does that have to do with us?" Sully asked.
"It wasn't fair what happened to our momma. Wouldn't have happened if my momma didn't try to deliver that baby. My momma'd still be here if she weren't a midwife. Wasn't fair, the pain we felt. Others should hafta feel that pain we felt and we had ta make sure that no one else would die on account of babies bein' born."
"So ya married women and killed 'em so that they would feel the same pain you did?"
"Didn't kell 'em, Mr. Sully. Just treated 'em like they should be treated. They just wasn't strong 'nough to survive."
"Why us? Why leave a trail for me ta follow ya?"
"Everyone's gotta feel pain some time, Mr. Sully, and women gotta pay for what they did, havin' babies and killin' our mam. We watched y'all for a while."
"Watched us?" Sully asked.
"Yes, sir. Watched ya for quite a while. Knew that the day y'all were takin' that picnic would be our best shot. Watched ya that entire day 'til ya stumbled upon Samuel."
"Those noises I heard in the woods," Michaela said. "It wasn't an animal, it was you."
"She really is a smart lady, ain't she?"
"But why us?" Sully asked again.
"We knew that your fiancé here delivered babies and helped women. We figured, why cause just one person pain when we can cause pain in lots of folk at once. We saw the family y'all had and figured that it would be perfect."
"You're sick," Michaela whispered, tears streaming down her face at the thought of Robert and Samuel watching her and her children.
"No ma'am, just doin' the world a favor," he replied.
"Why help us, then? Why help get her back?" Sully asked.
"Was all part of the game, Mr. Sully. We both knew that ya wouldn't just let her go without puttin' up a fight. From watchin' ya all that time, we knew 'xactly what we was doin' and how to separate y'all. Samuel and me brought ya to Kansas City and then I just waited for Mr. Sully here to come inta town, lookin' for her. Samuel knew the plan, Mr. Sully, knew every step of it. Why do ya think he didn't kill that son of yours? He coulda killed him in that field while they were off lookin' for them cows but he didn't 'cause he knew that he would feel more pain knowin' that he coulda saved his ma but he didn't."
"But the gunshot. There was a gunshot," Sully remembered.
"Just ta scare ya, Mr. Sully. Just ta scare ya. But we ain't killers, Mr. Sully."
"Not killers? He shot her!" Sully exclaimed.
"Wasn't supposed to happen like that. He was just playin' with ya. He knew that ya'll had no plan for escape, that you'd do whatever you could if you thought it would help her. He was gonna tie ya up, too while she continued bein' his wife. Let ya see how that felt."
Sully shuddered at the thought of seeing Michaela in the arms of any other man, regardless of whether or not she loved him.
"We woulda figured out someway to get out," Sully insisted, although he wasn't sure if it was necessarily true.
"That's part of the game, Mr. Sully. Didn't 'xpect Michaela to throw that tomahawk. Guess she was stronger than we all realized. Nice throw, Michaela."
"Don't you call her that!" Sully barked. Just as Michaela hated the sound of her name coming from Samuel's lips, Sully could not stand the sound of her name coming from Robert's. Her first name was sacred, something that was only used by her loved ones and friends and Sully intended to keep it that way.
"I knew I had to stay with ya'll and watch over ya," Robert continued, ignoring Sully's outburst.
"Why not take her back when she was dyin', then?"
"Got no need for a dyin' woman, Mr. Sully. I want 'em alive and ready ta work. Besides, it's much more fun watchin' ya squirm this way."
Michaela tried to concentrate on all that was being said but she was still so tired. She had read about cases in medical school where people went crazy after traumatic events. She had seen so many cases of it after the war but she had never known anyone to go as far as Samuel and Robert had. She knew that in their own minds, they thought they were doing something good. Thinking about it from a medical perspective, she couldn't help but feel sorry for them. From a personal perspective, she couldn't help but wish that Sully had killed Samuel when he had the chance.
"You ain't goin' anywhere with her," Sully stated.
"Ya didn't have the guts to kill my brother. A real man's gotta have guts, Mr. Sully. Like the guts it took me ta kill that crazy old doctor."
"Doc Hall? Ya killed Doc Hall?" Sully asked, suddenly feeling sorry that he had gotten the elderly gentlemen involved in the first place.
"When a man gets in your way, Mr. Sully, ya just gotta get rid of 'em. 'Course, ya wouldn't know 'bout that. Somethin' tells me that ya don't even have the guts to kill me."
"I ain't afraid to kill ya," Sully replied.
"You'll be hanged, Mr. Sully…for murder. Everyone in town will say that I was just tryin' to get back my brother's kidnapped wife."
"I don't care," Sully said calmly, his tomahawk in hand.
"Well, then ya kill me and my brother'll come and take Dr. Quinn here back with him as his wife and you'll be hanged and everythin' will be back ta normal."
"She ain't ever goin' back with ya!" Sully yelled, lunging towards the man.
Sully heard Michaela scream his name as he jumped at the man. The scream startled Robert and Sully managed to knock the gun from his hands. Michaela felt helpless as she watched them fight.
"Please!" Michaela cried but her cries did no good. The two men continued to fight, rolling around on the floor, throwing each other into the walls and on the floor. Michaela saw more punches thrown then she ever wished to.
As she tried to lift herself out of the bed, she heard the sound of footsteps on the stairs.
"Dr. Mike!" Matthew yelled, as he burst in the door. Jake and Hank followed him, guns in hand. Before Michaela knew what was going on, she heard a gun go off.
"Sully!" She cried, as the two men stopped fighting. Sully was below Robert, pinned to the floor. Neither Sully nor Robert moved. Michaela suddenly feared the worst.
Matthew ran over to Michaela, checking on her.
"Michaela," Sully whispered.
Jake and Hank lifted Robert off of Sully. Sully's shirt was soaked with blood.
"Sully!" Michaela screamed.
"I'm alright," he assured her. "I'm alright. Didn't get shot." Both Hank and Jake bent to help Sully to his feet. Michaela watched him drop the gun from his hand as he stood.
"Hafta say, Sully," Hank began, "mighty proud of ya for usin' a gun."
Sully ignored him and instead walked to Michaela bedside. He sat on the bed beside her and cradled her body as best he could without causing her pain.
"It's over," he said quietly, trying to sooth her sobs, even though tears ran down his own cheeks.
"What about Samuel?" She sobbed, barely getting the words out.
"Don't worry 'bout him," Matthew answered. "We got word to a marshal about him."
"What about the town? Won't they stick up for him?" Sully asked.
"Truth is, the town's been 'fraid of 'em both since their ma died. They were all afraid ta tell anyone about 'em for fear that Samuel and Robert would kill 'em. Marshal should be stoppin' by Samuel's house right 'bout now," Matthew explained.
"What if he runs?" Michaela asked.
"He won't," Sully answered. "He thinks he's smarter than everyone. He'll stay to play his game."
"It's over?" Michaela questioned.
"It's over," Sully replied.
"We'll ride inta Kansas City and tell the marshal to stop by here to pick up the body," Jake announced.
Sully nodded. "We gotta bury Doc Hall."
"We'll take care of it, Sully," Matthew decided.
Hank grabbed Robert's feet and Jake grabbed his torso. Together, they brought the body outside and then grabbed nearby shovels to begin digging the grave for Doc Hall.
"Glad ta see you're doin' better, Dr. Mike," Matthew said.
"Thank you, Matthew," Michaela responded.
"Brian and Colleen were real worried about 'em. I'll send 'em a telegram from Kansas City. Let 'em know that everythin's alright."
"I'd like to go home," Michaela announced.
"You ain't well 'nough, yet. Besides, there ain't no doctor in town ta take care of ya," Sully reminded her.
She smiled. "In case you forgot, I am a doctor."
"Ya need ta get better 'fore we go off traipsing back ta Colorado Springs. We'll take ya to the hospital in Kansas City, see what the doctors say there," Sully argued.
"Sully…" she resisted.
"I think ya should listen to him, Dr. Mike. Won't do no one no good if we get ya back to Colorado Springs and ya start doin' worse."
Michaela nodded. "I can't argue with both of ya."
"Ya have in the past," Sully remarked.
"Matter of fact," Matthew said, "I seem to remember times when you argued with the whole town."
"Would ya like me ta start arguin' with ya?" She joked.
"No!" Matthew and Sully exclaimed together.
They all laughed.
"I'll get the wagon ready ta take ya to Kansas City, Dr. Mike," Matthew offered.
"Thank you, Matthew."
He began to walk out of the room but turned before he left.
"I just wanted…I just wanted to tell ya that I love ya."
"Oh, Matthew, I love you, too."
"And, I wanted to tell ya that…I 'preciate everythin' ya did for me and Brian and Colleen and that…that I'm sorry for the way that I treated ya when we first came to live with ya. I didn't wanna love ya but…but I do, Dr. Mike. You're the best ma we all coulda had."
Her eyes began to brim with happy tears. "Thank you, Matthew."
Sully nodded to him, giving him an approving look. Matthew nodded back and left the room. Michaela buried her head in Sully's chest.
"It's really over, isn't it, Sully?" She questioned.
"Yes," he replied. She sighed and fell asleep.
Michaela opened the door of the homestead and walked outside. She spotted Brian sitting under a nearby tree, working on his carving. She had been back for a week and no one really talked about what had happened. The children had asked her some questions when she returned but they were questions more geared towards how she was feeling and if she was going to be okay. The only people in town who knew what happened were Robert E, Grace, the reverend, Hank, and Jake. Everyone else just accepted the fact that Michaela was gone for so long helping a sick family. Michaela hadn't opened the clinic yet, wanting to wait until the bruising on her body went down so that people wouldn't ask too many questions. She figured that she could explain her broken shoulder by telling them she got into an accident with the wagon. Everyone in town just seemed to think that she was recovering from a long week with a sick family.
Colleen walked out of the chicken coop with a basket of eggs in hand. She waved to Michaela as she headed to the barn to begin milking the cows. Michaela waved back and couldn't help but smile. She noticed that she looked at her children more than she ever had before. Of course she always looked at them but she found herself staring at them more, taking in every feature so that she would never forget them. A few times they had caught her staring at them and asked if she was alright. She knew that she was more than alright.
"Sully!" Brian exclaimed as Sully walked over to the boy. Michaela couldn't help but smile when she saw him, too.
"Hey Brian," Sully replied.
Brian lifted his small wooden carving to Sully. "Don't look much like a wolf, does it, Sully?"
"It will," Sully said, "with practice. Ya just gotta keep tryin'."
"How'd you get so good at carvin'? Brian questioned.
"I worked hard practicin'."
"Think I'll get as good at carvin' as you?"
"I think you'll be better than me," Sully answered, which made Brian smile.
Sully tousled Brian's hair as Matthew walked out of the barn and over to Sully and Brian.
"Sully," Matthew said.
The men shook hands. Sully had never realized how much he had relied on and needed Matthew. Even though Matthew was still young, he was one of Sully's best friends. Sully felt a certain connection to him. Matthew understood him and Sully understood Matthew, as well. Their connection could only be explained as being father and son.
"Sully says I can get real good at carvin'," Brian announced to his brother.
"Sure ya can if ya work hard," Matthew replied.
"Sully's been helpin' me."
"You're getting' better already," Matthew responded.
"I'm gonna go say hi to your ma," Sully said, walking away.
Brian watched as Sully walked. He saw Michaela's face light up as Sully approached and he couldn't help but smile seeing how happy Michaela was when Sully was around.
"You were right, Matthew," Brian said.
"Oh yeah, 'bout what?"
"'Bout ma not changin'. I was afraid that after she got better, she'd be different but she didn't change at all even though she got hurt, just like ya said."
Matthew smiled at the innocence of his brother.
"I told you ya had nothin' to worry 'bout." He pat Brian on the back and walked back to the barn.
Sully walked over to where Michaela stood, her smile growing bigger with every step she took. As he approached, she took the few steps down off the front porch and she placed her free hands in his. Her broken shoulder was wrapped up in a sling, not allowing her to use her arm. She was lucky that the bullet had hit the same shoulder that was broken so she at least had the use of one arm.
"Ya wanna go for a walk?" Sully asked her.
She nodded and they began walking off together.
"Feels so good to be home," she said as they walked slowly, Sully's arm wrapped protectively around her back.
"Yes, it does," Sully agreed.
They walked a little further in silence.
"He didn't hurt me," she said quickly. Sully stopped walking and he turned to face her.
She had been thinking of telling him that for the week since she had been home but she never found the right time. She knew that he said he didn't care either way but she had to tell him. As she told him, she thought back to when he asked her that same question after she was abducted by the dog soldiers and she suddenly knew why he needed to know. Most importantly, she knew that it didn't mean that he didn't love her any less.
"He didn't?" She shook her head. "You didn't have to tell me."
"Yes I did," she replied. "Even if he had hurt me…I would have to tell you because I love you too much not to tell you. And I know now that it doesn't mean that you love me any less."
He leaned over and kissed her passionately. When their kiss ended, they stayed close to one another, leaving their foreheads touching.
"Right before you woke up, I asked myself…I asked myself what I would do if I never met you…"
"You can't think about the past," Michaela interrupted, repeating the same exact words he had said to her the day of their picnic. "You can't go through life wondering what if or it'll just ruin what's right in front of you."
"I love you," he said.
"I love you, too."
They kissed, knowing that whatever happened to them, they could only love each other more.
I just want to say that this was my first attempt at a Dr. Quinn fanfiction and I have never been more in love with writing a story in my entire life. This is probably the fastest story I've ever written. It took me about 10 days (which I know, seems like a lot but it was over Christmas) and I just had so much fun doing it. A big thanks to Dr. Quinn in general for getting me back into writing because it was a favorite pastime that I had sense forgotten. Dr. Quinn has been my saving grace recently and I just hope that I did it justice. Please, feel free to leave me a comment and let me know what you thought of it. Hopefully this will be the first of many!