Title: A Question Of Belonging
Disclaimer: Dr. Quinn and its affiliated characters do not belong to me.
Summary: After a couple is found dead, Michaela and Sully have to find and protect their children, which makes Michaela question what would have happened to her own children had she not taken them into her care, and what would happen to them in the future if she wasn't around.
Author's Note: I didn't mean for this to become a lengthy story or even a chapter story. I just wanted to write a short fic about when Michaela and Sully first started talking about officially adopting Colleen and Brian but, as I started writing, I just kept writing and it turned out to be a little longer than I expected. But, it was really fun to write and it certainly gave me something to do when I was procrastinating against writing a paper for class. Well, I hope you enjoy!
The moon was hanging high in the sky, sending an eerie white glow over the small town of Colorado Springs. The town was quiet, the businesses having seen their last customers hours before. The only sounds present were the howls of the nearby coyotes and the occasional passing of a horse and wagon. Only two of the buildings had lamps glowing in the windows. The first came from the saloon, which, although it was open, was relatively quiet since the cold air of the night had kept many of the men indoors.
Sully nodded to a passing man, whom he recognized from Loren's store, as the man strolled down the street, heading for the saloon. Sully shook his head, not knowing what the fascination with the saloon really was. As far as Sully was concerned, it was just a place that stirred more trouble than it was worth.
Sully crossed the street, Wolf in tow, and headed to the clinic. From the outside, he could see the candle light glowing through the window. He smiled to himself, as he peered through the window. Michaela was sitting at her desk, her head bent over a large book, one hand holding her temples and the other hand ready to turn the page to continue her journey through whatever scientific text she was reading.
Sully stared at her for a moment, reminding himself at how lucky he was. Although her insistence on constantly working oftentimes got in the way of them spending time together, Sully wouldn't have had in any other way. Michaela enjoyed her personal time and space and so did he.
After taking one last look through the window, Sully hopped onto the clinic porch. He motioned for Wolf to stay outside, and he opened the clinic door.
Startled, Michaela jumped slightly in her chair, bringing her hand from her head to her pounding heart.
"Sorry if I scared ya," Sully apologized, closing the door behind him.
"It's alright," she assured him, happy to see him. She hadn't seen him since that morning when they had eaten breakfast together at the café and she realized, not for the first time that day, that she missed him.
"What are ya readin'?" He asked as he walked over to her.
"It's a new book written by a French scientist, Doctor Jean Baker, who is an expert on the heart. He's experimenting with new procedures that may become useful in the event of a heart attack."
"Well, not on humans, of course. But, medicine would never advance if it weren't for experimenting."
"Kids missed ya at dinner," Sully told her, changing the subject. As much as he liked anything that made Michaela happy, including medical texts, he just didn't find them to be as fascinating as she did. He could tolerate talking about them but he liked it much more when they talked about other things.
"I know but with the patients that I had lined up to see today and with Jacob falling into that river and breaking his ankle and then Mrs. Hoffman coming up with that rash and…"
Sully moved behind her and placed his strong hands on her shoulders. He began to knead her tense muscles, which sent a sigh escaping from Michaela's lips. Sully couldn't help but smile, loving the fact that he could make her feel so wonderful inside. He only wished that she had been more comfortable with him in their early days of courting so that they could have both shared wonderful moments together. As it was, she was becoming much more used to him wanting to become more physical in their relationship, even though she still sometimes felt self-conscious. She was always taught that proper Boston women did not do such things before they were married but, as she had to do with most everything else involving life in Colorado Springs, she was learning quickly.
"I'm afraid I just didn't have time to finish everything that I needed to finish today," she continued, trying to regain her composure. She knew that Sully was enjoying himself for what he was doing to her and she couldn't blame him. It did feel wonderful.
"You work too hard."
"Well, if, by what I read, I can save a life, it's not working too hard." He couldn't argue with her. "Thank you for eating dinner with the children tonight."
"Ya know I love spendin' time with 'em. Besides, we gotta get 'em used ta me bein' around since I'll be eatin' plenty more meals with ya after we get married." The sound of marriage made Michaela tingle. As much as she tried denying it to herself, she could not wait until they were married and beginning their lives together. "Of course, eatin' dinner together would work out much better if their ma was around to join us."
He kissed her on the top of her head.
"You know that I wish I had been there."
"My father and I used to work such long hours at our practice in Boston. Sometimes my mother swore that she never saw either of us until the wee hours of the morning. She used to complain constantly to my father but it never did stop us from working so much." Sully listened to her attentively. Even though her life in Boston was so different from what he had experienced as a child, he loved hearing about her past and he knew that she loved remembering her father. "I can't say that my sisters ever complained, though, except for maybe Rebecca. I think they were glad that I wasn't around all of the time."
"Sounds ta me like they were just jealous."
"That's what my father used to tell me."
She smiled, realizing yet again how much Sully reminded her of her father. She knew that, unlike her mother, her father would have loved Sully from the moment that he met him.
"Even doctors gotta get their sleep," Sully reminded her. "Ya plan on goin' home anytime soon, Dr. Quinn? It's gettin' late."
"I just want to finish this chapter," Michaela answered. "I was going to bring it home to read but I knew that if I even stepped foot into that house, Brian would want to play checkers or have me read a book to him and I just can't say no to him and then I'd have gotten nothing accomplished."
Sully smiled. "I know what ya mean. That boy sure has a way with words and gettin' people ta warm up to him."
"Yes, he does."
"Well, you finish your work. I'll wait for ya," Sully offered.
"No, you don't have to. I have Flash. I can ride back by myself."
Sully shook his head. "I'll wait."
She sighed, knowing that it was no use arguing with him. If he had it in his mind that he was going to see her home, he was going to see her home. Then again, if she made up her mind to do something, she wasn't easily swayed, either.
"I'm almost finished."
"Take your time. I'll be waitin' outside."
He gave Michaela a peck on the cheek before exiting the clinic. As much as he loved spending time with her, he also liked the fresh air and being able to see the stars in the sky. He sat on the bench outside the clinic, looking up at the sky and petting Wolf, who was sitting right beside him.
Seconds later, the clinic door opened and Michaela stepped outside, a shawl wrapped around her shoulders, and her book in hand. Both Sully and Wolf looked at her.
Michaela shook her head.
"No but I figured that the view out here is much more interesting than the view in there."
She sat down beside him, leaning her body against his. He placed his arm around her shoulders as she settled in next to him. She held the book in front of her as she leaned her head against his shoulder. They sat in silence, Michaela reading and Sully enjoying her company as well as the crisp, fresh air.
Only minutes later, Sully heard the book crash to the floor and Michaela's hands relax in her lap. Her eyes were closed and her chest rose steadily up and down. Sully chuckled to himself. She had fallen asleep.
With the greatest of ease, Sully managed to stand up, without her falling over, and he gathered her up in his arms. As he was trying to figure out how to get her to the homestead without waking her and without having the wagon, Sully heard the sound of a stampeding wagon coming towards them.
Michaela immediately woke up.