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.

Warning: This story contains consensual lovemaking between two married adults.

Better with Time

By, Ashley J.

Written January 4, 2006

With more force than she had expected, Michaela threw the dirty washcloth into the basin, causing water to spill over the sides. She shook her head, irritated with herself. For the past two weeks, she had been alone. Matthew was in Denver, Brian was in Philadelphia visiting Colleen and Andrew, and he was looking at potential colleges. Katie had been ill, for the most part, and she had been in bed for the past two days. Michaela had spent her time helping Katie get through her illness, and she was over the worst of it. She still felt ill, but she was keeping her food and liquids down, finally.

The nights were what got to her the most. She wasn't used to sleeping alone. After having been married nearly four years, an empty bed was so cold at night. Sure, Sully was away a lot, and she had been so used to having him home when he was there. This job was so demanding, but she couldn't very well tell him that he couldn't do his surveying for Welland Smith.

What bothered her even more was that she had expected Sully home two weeks ago. Two weeks. He hadn't sent word, but she couldn't blame him. The town had received word that a terrible snowstorm had pretty much halted any traveling for a week, and it would take even longer for him to get home. She was expecting him any day, and the wait was torturous. She hadn't seen him in over three weeks. She missed him more than she ever had before. She was worried, impatient and growing more and more so each night.

She felt silly for missing his arms around her; for missing the way it felt for him to love her. Sometimes, it felt like she was still in the honeymoon stage. Being with him was something she wouldn't pass up for anything. Every minute with him was a blessing, because she didn't know when he'd be called away for work again. It was painful to watch him go, but each time he came back, it was well worth the wait.

It wasn't as bad as it sounded, honestly. Sometimes he was home for a month, sometimes longer. Other times, he would come back, and the next day, he'd receive an urgent telegram. It wore on Michaela, but she knew he was doing it for their family. Besides, it wasn't as if they had to spend every moment together, though she found nothing wrong with that either. They had a family to support, and with more people coming to town each day and the town's growth, it was becoming more and more expensive to put food on the table and have enough left over to buy feed for the livestock. He was doing the best he could, and sometimes he came home with more money than expected.

The wind was picking up outside, biting wind that seemed to cut through the walls and make her shiver. The clock ticked incessantly over the mantle, and the fire she'd started hours ago was starting to dwindle. So much for a romantic surprise for her husband. He probably wouldn't be home for a day or two anyway. She couldn't say she wasn't disappointed, though she missed the times when he would surprise her by coming home early. Early on in their marriage, Sully would do whatever it took to get back home to her on time. Sometimes he'd surprise her with a beautiful bunch of flowers or something of the sort, and he would scoop her up into his arms, carry her off to bed and make up for lost time. He still did those things, but not as often as he used to. He usually got home when he could, and he was usually so tired that he'd fall right to sleep.

Sometimes she felt a little guilty for wishing all of his attention would be on her when he arrived. They had the children…little Katie to consider. He had to spend time with them too, and she understood and appreciated that. Things had changed. They were busier, they were tired more often, having to run around after Katie, and things weren't about to slow down…not anymore.

She shook her head and doused the fire. She went around making sure the house was secure, and she finally climbed the stairs, after glancing out the window five more times, hoping to see him riding up. It was late. It was cold. He was probably finding shelter for the night and settling down at that very moment. She couldn't expect him to risk his own health to get home to her tonight.

After checking in on Katie, she closed the little girl's door, leaving it open enough that it wouldn't latch, so she could get out if need be. She often had nightmares and would rush to join her parents in bed. Michaela wouldn't mind the company on this night. She hated listening to the sound of her own breathing, trying to count the seconds before she drifted off to sleep.

Michaela disappeared into her room and quickly changed into her sleeveless gown. She started a fire, and the room immediately began to glow and become warm. She smiled a little, warming her hands over the flames for a moment, before she went to the bed to turn down the covers.

The sound of a horse startled her, and she quickly rushed to the window, peering out. She saw nothing but the snow covered land before her. She shook her head. It had probably been Flash. She hated the cold.

She turned down the lamps and crawled between the covers. She was immediately enveloped in the warmth of the quilt, though she still felt so alone. She reached over, stroking Sully's pillow. She could smell him in the fabric; smell the cologne he would wear on special occasions. She grinned, remembering him wearing it one night after Katie was born, and their romantic interlude had been interrupted by the baby's cries. It had been a long time since then, but it wasn't to be the last time a cry in the night would stop them.

She placed her hand on her forehead. The crackling flames were as loud as dynamite. The ticking of their clock sounded like giant raindrops pelting on the roof. The house creaked from the wind, and it sounded as if it could topple over at any moment.

A creak in the hallway had her sitting up as quickly as lightening. She could hear footsteps, and she figured it was young Katie coming in for the night. So, she pulled herself out of bed, her bare feet hitting the cold floor. She swallowed hard and moved toward the door to open it just a little. She peered out, but she couldn't see Katie.

"Mama's here," Michaela said softly, slipping out into the hallway, turning toward Katie's bedroom door. When she felt two strong arms capture her from behind, she fought the urge to scream out. She felt his lips on her neck, and she shuddered with relief.

"So is Papa." Michaela felt his hands move to her shoulders, and she turned in his arms.

"Sully!" she whispered, feigning fright. She couldn't deny the way her heart pounded, but it hadn't really started to pound until she'd felt his lips on her skin and heard his voice whisper in her ear.

"Surprise."

"I can't believe you're home!" Her arms snaked around his neck, greeting him in a kiss that left him longing for breath. His arms wrapped around her, however, bringing her closer, kissing her deeper. She moaned into his mouth. Three weeks of longing had come to this. She couldn't believe he was home. She couldn't believe her wish had come true. He was in her arms tonight, and that was all she wanted.

"Michaela," he whispered, pulling back a little.

"I've missed you so much," she breathed, closing the gap again, kissing him with more fervor than before.

"I missed ya too," he replied, running his fingers through her hair. "Ya smell so good." She giggled, remembering that she'd washed her hair with the soaps he liked the best.

"You're freezing," she realized. "Come on. You can warm yourself by the fire."

"I'm feelin' pretty warm right here," he replied, his eyes twinkling in the darkness of the hallway.

"Sully!" she laughed, trying to keep it down as to not wake Katie.

"I need ya." Michaela's cheeks flushed, and she thanked God for the fact that it was dark.

"It's cold out here," she breathed. "Let's go in…" Before she could finish her sentence, his lips captured hers again, and her back pressed against the wall beside their bedroom door. Her hands moved to his chest, gently tugging at his coat, pulling him closer. She sighed against his lips, taking his kisses in fully, opening herself up to him. "Sully…" When he began to press into her, her stomach did flip flops, and she pushed him back a little. He broke their kiss and stared into her eyes.

"Did I hurt ya?"

"No. I'm sorry, I'm just…I'm cold." She smiled a little, feeling a little dizzy.

"You sure you're okay?"

"I am. I just…I'm…" She took a deep breath. It wasn't supposed to be so difficult! "Let's go get warmed up." Sully nodded, taking her hand and squeezing it. He led her into the bedroom, closing the door behind him.

"Oh! No, you should leave it cracked a little. She's been having nightmares lately…Katie has. She'll be upset if she can't open the door." Sully nodded and turned the knob, opening it just enough so it wouldn't latch into place.

"She okay?"

"She's fine. She just misses her papa, I think," Michaela replied quietly. She smiled, seeing the look in his eyes. She loved it when he looked so proud. Katie was her papa's girl, through and through, and she could almost see his heart swell with pride. "How was your trip back?"

"Cold," he replied, hanging his coat over the bedpost. "Stayed in Manitou last night. Had a hot bath this mornin'. It was real nice." Michaela smiled at the thought. "Things been okay here?"

"Yes. Everyone is snowed in, so I haven't been to town in a while. I've been…I've been keeping busy running after Katie. She's come down with something…"

"Is she all right?" Michaela put her hand on his arm reassuringly.

"She's fine. She's over the worst of it. She's just very tired."

"Ya sure it's passin'?"

"Yes, Sully. It wasn't anything serious. She's feeling much better. She was even feeling up to hiding from me today so that I couldn't give her any of her medicine." Sully chuckled.

"That's my girl." Michaela rolled her eyes playfully.

"She certainly is." Sully swallowed hard and slipped out of his moccasins.

"Don't tell me you wore those the entire time! What about the boots I bought you for Christmas, so your feet wouldn't freeze?" Michaela asked. Sully laughed.

"I wore those too. I'm just more comfortable in these," he said with a grin. Michaela smiled at him, and she bit her lower lip. "You sure everything's okay?"

"Why wouldn't it be?"

"Ya just sound different." Michaela nodded.

"I'm fine. I'm just…I've missed you." Sully smiled, leaning in to kiss his wife.

"I missed ya too. Couldn't stop thinkin' about ya. The days are easier than the nights." She nodded.

"I agree." She tilted her head back, letting him kiss her neck. She trembled under his touch, and her body warmed, as his hands trailed up her arms and framed her face. He leaned into her, leaning her back against the headboard of the bed. She moaned against him, running her hands hungrily along his chest, feeling his muscles through his shirt. He let out a moan against her lips, and that drove her wild. She had dreamed of this for weeks, and he was finally here.

"Sully…" His mouth moved from her lips to her neck, and she could feel his hands on the buttons of her gown. She smiled, loving the way he was so eager to be with her. His arms surrounded her again, pulling her into his lap. Her legs straddled him, and he dangled them over the bed. She leaned into him, pushing him down onto the bed, as his hands lifted her gown off of her. She raised her arms, letting it slide off with ease, and she felt the cold air in the room rush over her, immediately darkening her already aroused nipples. She hissed at the feeling, and she closed her eyes, feeling his hands roam over her. She couldn't control the feeling tightening inside of her, and she felt as if her world was spinning.

Sully's mouth found her breast and then the other, and he felt her writhing against him, but when he pulled back, he saw that her face was pale and she looked miserable.

"Michaela?"

"I…" He sat up with her quickly, and she rested her forehead against his shoulder.

"What's wrong? What is it?"

"I…I need to tell you something," she said sheepishly. He nodded, concern flickering in his eyes. "Sully, I'm…"

"Mama! Mama! Mama! Papa! I want Papa! Papa!" Katie's howls interrupted them, and Michaela jumped off of Sully, pulling the quilt around her naked body. "Mama! Where Papa! Where Papa!" Michaela smiled a little, slightly disappointed.

"I think you should go." He nodded, kissing her softly.

"Don't move." Michaela grinned, watching him pull himself together and hurry to check on Katie. Michaela settled back against her pillows, staring up at the ceiling, trying to calm her racing heart. She couldn't stop the smile from spreading over her face. He was home. She didn't know for how long, but that didn't matter right now. He was home, and they were going to make the most of that.

She placed her hand on her stomach, calming her nerves. She swallowed hard a few times and could hear Katie's giggles from the other room. It saddened her that Sully was the only one who could make her laugh like that after she had a bad dream. But at the same time, it was sweet that he had such a bond with their little girl. Perhaps…perhaps the next one would be like that with her instead.

When he finally returned, Michaela had her eyes closed, resting. She heard him groan.

"Michaela? Ya ain't asleep, are ya?" She chuckled under her breath.

"Just resting," she replied. "Did you get her back to sleep?" Sully nodded, removing his shirt and buckskins with great ease. She bit her bottom lip nervously, and she lifted back the quilt, so he could crawl underneath. When he was settled in beside her, he immediately reached for her. She grinned and sat up.

"Michaela? What's goin' on? Ya been…"

"I have to tell you something." Sully nodded slowly and sat up.

"Everything okay?"

"Yes. Yes, it's fine."

"Then…what's wrong? What…" She smiled and caressed his cheek with her trembling hand. He noticed the tears in her eyes. "If everything's all right, why are ya about to cry?" She shook her head.

"I…well, I hope you're not too upset by Katie's interruption," she said softly. He furrowed his brows.

"Why's that?"

"Well, do you remember when Katie was little, and…and we…well, when we would…and she would…and it was difficult for everyone?" Sully's jaw dropped a little.

"What are ya talkin' about? Ya ain't makin' sense, Michaela." Michaela sighed with frustration.

"Sully, a baby is a lot of work, and…and very tiring."

"A baby? But Katie's not really a baby anymore…and…" He stopped in sudden realization. "Wait…WHAT?" Michaela grinned, blinking away her tears. But, she couldn't help it. She sniffled, and she reached for his hand.

"Sully…we're having a baby." His eyes blinked, trying to register those words.

"A…a…a…a baby?" Michaela nodded.

"I found out shortly after you left. I was going to surprise you when you came back. I just…and I heard about the storm, and I knew we wouldn't be able to reach you."

"A baby."

"Yes!" she laughed. "You're alright with that, aren't you?" He nodded slowly, his lips curling into a smile.

"Course I am! I just…I just didn't think…"

"I know we haven't had luck since…since Katie, but…I have a good feeling about this, Sully. I do." Sully nodded.

"You're okay? You're feelin' all right?"

"I'm feeling better than I was with Katie," she said with a grin. "I'm fine, Sully. The baby's fine. I'm so glad you're here now." Sully smiled proudly.

"We're havin' another baby, Michaela! Can ya believe it?"

"I can," she giggled. "I've had a couple of weeks to think about it. I can't wait, Sully…a baby…"

"It's all right if I hold ya, right?"

"Of course it is! I won't break," she promised. "Remember?"

"It's just been a while since ya been…ya been pregnant."

"You don't have to worry. Our baby's safe. I love you so much…" Sully answered her with a kiss. It was soft at first, but passion quickly ignited, and he pulled her close, her warm body against his. His hand touched her belly, and he looked into her eyes.

"I love you, Michaela. Ya don't know how happy ya made me." Michaela nodded slowly, and her eyes glittered with anticipation. Her lips found his, and she kissed him lovingly, while her hand roamed down his chest. He groaned as her fingers tickled the sensitive flesh on his stomach. She grinned against his lips, as he pulled her close. When his hand found her breast, he tenderly caressed it, and she leaned her head back, as his other hand skimmed over her back. She moaned, when he traced a path up her thigh and picked her leg up, draping it over his hip. She pressed kisses against his chest, feeling his heartbeat against her lips.

"I've missed this," she breathed, as her need matched his. "So…so much." She was starting to lose focus, as his fingers sent tantalizing sparks to each part of her body. "Sully…" He gently rocked her to her back, crawling over her, lying between her legs. Her fingers tenderly ran through his hair, feeling its softness against her fingertips. Her senses had heightened completely, and everything made her skin tingle. She could feel the stubble of his chin against her neck and shoulder, and it sent shivers throughout her.

Just as her heart began to pound fiercely, she sucked in a sharp breath that made her cough. She suddenly felt ill, and she quickly pushed a stunned Sully off of her.

"Michaela?"

"Sorry," she coughed. "I need…I need water." She pulled herself out of bed and pulled on her robe. Stunned, Sully watched as she left the room. He quickly jumped up and wrapped the quilt around his waist. Was she playing a game with him? She wasn't getting away that easily! He made his way down the hallway, seeing her shadow disappear down the staircase.

Michaela was already pouring a glass of water for herself, when he reached the kitchen, and he watched her turn. She smiled, and he almost saw a gleam there.

"Why do ya keep…"

"I needed a drink of water," she replied quickly, cutting him off. He folded his arms across his chest, as the quilt hung loosely on his hips. "What's goin' on, Michaela? Did I do somethin', cause you're killin' me here." Michaela smiled sadly.

"You didn't do anything. I'm sorry. I suppose it's just…it's been a long few weeks."

"And I'm tryin' to make up for that…"

"I know you are." She placed her empty glass down, and he moved toward her. "I've just had time to think…"

"About?"

"Things are…they're different now, aren't they?"

"Different…how?"

"Well…since Katie, we've been…well, we've been so focused on the children, and you have this job now. The time we have is wonderful, but…"

"But what?" he asked, pulling her into his arms.

"This is it exactly!" she exclaimed. "It's so…so wonderful when you come back, but there are times when I feel like…like you might be tired of me." Sully let go of her for a moment, and he caught the look in her eyes. He shook his head.

"What? Where'd this come from?" Hormones? He couldn't help but wonder, anyway! Michaela blushed.

"I shouldn't have said anything."

"Yes ya should've. I wanna know what's goin' on." She sighed heavily.

"After we were married…we could barely tear ourselves away from each other. Someone…someone told me the honeymoon would end eventually. I never thought…I couldn't possibly imagine that…I mean…we were so…" He grinned. He loved it when she was flustered. After all this time, she still got nervous when talking about things like this.

"Michaela…"

"I know things are changing, but, I just…I feel…"

"Michaela…"

"And…it isn't like brushing your teeth…not for me!" Sully chuckled.

"Michaela! Stop…"

"I'm…"

"It ain't over," he whispered, pulling her body close to his. "The honeymoon ain't over. We still love each other. We still make each other feel things we felt after we was married, right?" She nodded slowly.

"I suppose so…yes."

"We still wanna be with each other every second. I know I do. Don't you? Don't you think about me when I'm gone?"

"Every moment," she breathed. Sully gently ran his fingers through her hair, tucking it behind her ear.

"I could never get tired of ya, Michaela. Not ever. Ya might not know it, but ya still turn my head every time ya walk into a room. Ya still make me think 'bout ya in ways that would make ya blush. It's always been that way for me. I never stopped wantin' ya. I'll never get tired of bein' with ya. There's always somethin' new to find out about ya…after all this time." Michaela smiled, the tears forming again.

"Sully…I…I'm sorry for being so…"

"Ya don't gotta apologize. That's just one more thing I love about ya, Michaela." He held her close, and she rested her head against his chest. He gently rubbed her back, waiting for her to pull away. He'd hold her forever if he had to. When she finally pulled back, she surprised him by kissing his chin, tracing a path to his lips. Sully leaned into her willingly, and he saw the look in her eyes that he'd seen the day she'd summoned him home…the day Matthew had caught them in front of the fire. "What're you up to?" he wondered. Michaela didn't respond. She merely held him so close, not wanting to let him go; wanting to hold onto the moments they still had together. She was pulling him down…down with her. Her robe fell from her body and onto the table, and she fell along with it. With a gasp, she found herself staring up at him, and she smiled, her hands reaching for his. Sully merely grinned. "Guess some things haven't changed." Michaela's face flushed heavily, and he crawled over her, protecting her body…protecting their child with his body.

The silence of the house surrounded them, as they finally joined together, making up for so much time; making each other feel things they had been missing so much. Her cries were lost in his, and they fell and shattered together, loved and breathed together, joined and journeyed together. He pulled away, picking up the trail of their quilt and Michaela's robe. He pulled her into his arms, pulling her so close, as they ascended the stairs, and they were together within moments, leaning back against the wall at the top of the stairs, clinging to one another so tightly. They couldn't let go. Letting go would hurt too much.

And in the end, they returned to their bed together, still not ready to close each other out to sleep. They held each other, whispered softly, loved one another, and in the wee hours of the morning, Sully's hand linked with hers, and they listened to the sounds of the early morning.

"Things didn't change," she breathed, finally.

"Hmm?"

"Everything has changed around us, but we're still the same, Sully. I don't know how I could've thought things had changed like this…between us."

"Things do change, Michaela. But, I'd say they get better with time…kinda like wine," he laughed. Michaela grinned happily, running her hand along his chest. "See, I can still make ya blush after all this time, can't I?"

"You certainly can, Mr. Sully," she whispered. "You never cease to surprise me."

"See…the honeymoon ain't close to bein' over. I ain't sure it ever will be. We just got other things in our life…things that sometimes need our attention more than each other." Michaela laughed.

"And soon…we'll have another." She took his hand and placed it on her belly. "Soon." Just as his lips captured hers again, wails from Katie's room started up again.

"Papa! Papa! Paaaaaaapa!" Michaela giggled against his lips.

"I believe it's for you," she whispered.

"I'll be back. Don't move." She shook her head.

"I'm not guaranteeing anything, Mr. Sully. I'm sleeping for two now." He placed his lips to her forehead, and when their lips met again, Katie's cries started again. "Go on," she whispered. "I love you." He winked and whispered his love into her ear. When he pulled on his buckskins and left the room, she rolled over and rested on her side, placing her hand on her belly. When she felt his hand on her shoulder, she turned toward him, and he grinned.

"Ya might be sleepin' for two, but ya know…we gotta make up for the time we're gonna lose when the baby gets here." Michaela laughed and playfully slapped his arm, as he scooted out of the room. Some things would never change…but then again, some would only get better with time.

The End