Title: 5 Days

Summary: When Michaela attends a medical conference, she finds herself helping a woman who has a connection with another person living in Colorado Springs. When Michaela sends the woman to stay at the homestead alone with Sully, she cannot help but think about whether she should have been so trusting. When she returns home, Michaela is shocked at what she discovers.

Disclaimer: Dr. Quinn and its affiliated characters do not belong to me.

Notes: This story takes place in September 1870 (right after Ingrid's death). I made up some of the details of Hank's background but I tried to make sure that it all fit in with the storyline.

Day 1

Horace scribbled down the telegram as he listened to each letter being spelled out in short and long tapping sounds. When it was completed, he folded the paper in half so that no prying eyes were able to see it. Horace quickly walked over to the clinic, knowing that Dr. Mike needed the message immediately and that it couldn't wait until she stopped by the telegraph office later in the afternoon.

As Horace approached the clinic, he noticed the door was open and Michaela sat at her desk, pouring over yet another medical book.

"Horace," she said as Horace entered the room. "Are you feeling alright?" She asked, standing to greet him, noticing his urgency.

"I'm feelin' fine, Dr. Mike," he replied. "Just got a telegram here for ya."

He handed her the telegram. She took it from him and thanked him. He left, hurrying back to the telegraph office. Michaela sat back down on her chair and couldn't help but smile at Horace's hastiness. He treated every telegram that he delivered as if it was sent directly from the president of the United States. One thing was for sure, Horace didn't fool around when it came to his job.

"Why are ya smilin'?" Sully asked as he walked into the clinic. He greeted Michaela with a quick kiss on the lips and stood behind her, his hands resting on her shoulders.

"No reason," Michaela answered.

"What ya got there?" Sully pointed to the telegram.

"A telegram Horace just gave me."

"What's it say?"

Michaela shrugged her shoulders and opened the folded piece of paper.

"Dr. Quinn," she read aloud. "You are hereby invited to a medical conference from September 13th to September 18th at the Lamont Hotel in Denver. Please send a response by September 1st . Sincerely, Doctor Hansen."

"September 13th? But that's…"

"Tomorrow," Michaela answered, angrily.

"Why'd they send ya the invitation the day before the conference? Think it got lost in the mail?" Sully questioned.

Michaela sighed and shook her head. "It didn't get lost in the mail. They just don't want me to attend," she answered.

"But they did send ya one."

"Dr. Hansen was my mother's doctor in Boston," Michaela reminded him. "He probably sent it to me late on purpose so that I wouldn't be able to attend."

Sully squeezed her shoulders and kissed her on the top of the head.

"I'm sorry, Michaela," he whispered, knowing that she deserved to go to that medical conference more than anyone. As much as she deserved to go, Sully also knew that Michaela and Dr. Hansen didn't have the best relationship with one another. Even though Michaela had successfully diagnosed and saved her mother's life when Dr. Hansen could not, Dr. Hansen still held little respect for her.

"It's alright," she responded, "I probably wouldn't have gone anyway."

She stood up and began putting away the books that she was reading.

"Why not?" Sully wondered out loud. A medical conference sounded like something that Michaela wouldn't have wanted to miss for the world.

"Because five days is a long time to go away. I've got to take care of the children and the clinic and you."

"Me?"

"Well, there's no telling what kind of trouble you can get into when I'm not around."

"When have I ever gotten into trouble?" He asked sarcastically.

She smiled at him, not even being able to count the number of times Sully had gotten into trouble. Of course, she was usually right there with him getting into trouble, as well, but there was no telling what could happen when she wasn't around.

"Besides, we're married now and…"

"And what?" He teased.

"And I have better things I could be doing."

She bustled around the clinic, putting away medicine bottles and tools. She could feel Sully's eyes on her, watching her every move. He loved to watch her squirm and she had to admit that she didn't mind it either.

"Michaela."

"Mmm?"

"Do ya wanna go to that conference?"

She turned to face him. "Even if I did want to go, it's too late. I would have had to have sent a response by the first to reserve my place."

"That don't sound like the Michaela I know," Sully commented, knowing how many different times Michaela had talked herself into meetings and other important events. If there was one thing that she was better at than doctoring, it was talking.

"Do you think I should go?"

"I think ya should do whatever you wanna do. If ya wanna go to that conference then go to the conference. I can take care of everythin' here."

"Everything?" She asked as she walked over to him. He wrapped his arms around her waist and she looked deeply into his eyes.

"Everythin'," he replied.

"So, you can take care of the…joys of being married?" This time it was her who was teasing him.

He kissed her. "Well, maybe I will miss that. But, it's only five days."

"It's only five days," she repeated. She tried to wriggle away from his grasp. "I have a lot to do if I'm going to be leaving tomorrow."

He didn't let her go. "We gotta make up for those five days," he teased, kissing her neck.

"Sully!" She cried. Even though every inch of her body was tingling, she knew that she had to stop him or she wouldn't get anything done for the rest of the day. He stopped kissing her and let her go. As his arms left her waist, leaving Michaela's skin tingling, Michaela realized that five days was beginning to feel like it was five years.

"Do you hafta go, ma?" Brian asked.

Michaela looked at Sully who gave her an encouraging nod.

"No, Brian, I don't have to go but it is very important to me," Michaela replied.

She, Brian, Colleen, Matthew, and Sully were sitting around the table at their usual places. They were in the middle of eating Colleen's delicious apple cobbler when Michaela announced that she was going to be leaving for Denver the next morning. Although Matthew and Colleen acted as if they were happy for her, she knew that they would miss her and that they weren't as excited as they seemed.

"Ya should go, ma," Colleen announced, "it sounds like fun."

"It's just gonna be a bunch of old guys talkin' 'bout medicine," Brian responded. "That don't sound like fun to me."

"No but it is interesting to me," Michaela said.

"I think it's real interesting," Colleen defended.

"Still don't mean ya hafta go," Brian stated.

"Brian, this is real important to your ma," Sully told him. "It's only a few days and I'll be right here with ya."

"Other people's ma's don't go off all the time!" Brian shouted. "They stay home and cook and patch their trousers."

"Brian..." Michaela began.

"Brian," Matthew interjected. "We're lucky that Dr. Mike ain't like other people's ma's. If Dr. Mike were like everyone else, we wouldn't have a doctor in town and lots of folks would be gettin' sick and you woulda died when ya fell outta that tree."

Brian sighed. "I'm sorry, ma," he apologized. "I don't want ya to be like any other ma."

"I know, Brian," Michaela replied.

"I just miss ya, is all," Brian explained.

"And I miss you, too. I'll miss all of you," she said. "But it's only a few days and I'll be back before you know it. Besides, hopefully going to this conference will help me learn about some new medicines so that I can help other people feel better."

Brian stood and hugged her.

"I should be gettin' home," Matthew decided.

"Good night, Matthew," Michaela said.

He placed his hat on top of his head as he headed for the door.

"I'll be sure ta say good bye 'fore your train leaves tomorrow," Matthew remarked.

Michaela nodded as the rest of the family said their goodbye's. As Matthew closed the door, Michaela couldn't believe how grown up he, and the other children, had become. She still wasn't used to the fact that he no longer lived in the same house as them. Even though he was an adult, Michaela couldn't help but worry about him living at the old homestead by himself.

"Time for bed," Sully announced. "Your ma's got a lot ta do 'fore she goes."

Michaela kissed Brian on the top of his head before hugging Colleen goodnight. Each of the children hugged Sully and then headed upstairs to their respected bedrooms.

"I'll finish cleanin' up," Sully volunteered. "You head up and start packin'."

Michaela thanked him with a light kiss before following the children up the stairs.

Michaela turned over once again, facing Sully. She looked at him and sighed, knowing how lucky she was to have found him. She placed the palm of her hand against his naked chest and felt the warmth of his body. The corners of Sully's mouth turned upwards.

"I thought you were asleep," Michaela whispered.

"I was," he responded, smiling.

He opened his eyes and quickly slipped his arms around Michaela's small body.

"I'm sorry for waking you," she apologized.

"I'm not. Ya worried 'bout tomorrow?"

"I'm worried about leaving you all here alone," she admitted.

"You're not leaving us alone. You're leaving us together."

"And if something happens?"

"You're only in Denver, Michaela. Ya can be back on the next train in no time."

"What if I get there and they don't let me attend?"

"Somethin' tells me that ya won't give in that easy. You'll have more than somethin' to say 'bout it. 'Sides, it'd be their loss."

"Do you think Brian will be okay with me going?"

"Brian'll be fine." He kissed her. "We'll all be fine. Stop worryin'."

"I'll miss you," she said quietly.

He placed his hands around her waist and pulled her on top of him. He couldn't help but smile as she giggled. He loved when she giggled.

"I'll miss you, too," he whispered in her ear as he sent a trail of kisses from her ear lobe to her jaw line.

Although Michaela knew that she had to get up early, she and Sully made love throughout the night. As the morning sun rose, she realized that five days was going to be exceptionally long.