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.

Pieces of Me

By, Ashley J.

Prologue

Squinting into the scalding morning sunlight, her sore eyes watered with tears that she thought she'd finished shedding long ago. She couldn't remember the last time she'd cried. A day ago? A week ago? She had lost track of the days, and after several knocks in the head, she wasn't certain she had even been kidnapped. Perhaps she was one of them. They no longer chained her up, but when she stood up, all eyes were on her, and if she was bad, she'd get a beating.

Was she one of them? She didn't understand their language, and she hadn't looked into a mirror in so long. All she knew was that her arms and hands were pale white, and they were Indians. Maybe they had rescued her and they were keeping her safe. Either way, she had stopped fighting long ago. She knew that the harder she struggled, the harder they beat her, and the pain that shot through her body at the mere thought of those beatings was enough to make her tremble in fear.

She sat up, feeling the scabs on her legs pull, and she felt fresh blood trickle down them. Wincing in pain, she stood, her feet bruised and seeping puss and blood. When she tried to walk, the man with the patch over his eye watched her from his perch at the highest hill of camp. Now she remembered.

"Sully," she whimpered, as mud from last night's rain flooded her mouth, and she spat it out, retching on her knees. Each morning felt as if it was a nightmare, but she always remembered. One Eye. He wasn't going to let her go. She hoped to God that Sully would find her, but each time she felt him getting closer, a cold blade would be pressed to her neck and a hand would clamp over her mouth. She didn't know where she was anymore, and she was beginning to wonder if she'd ever see home again.

She felt two hands grab onto her arms, yanking her up so forcefully that her neck popped. She could feel the bruises from previous rough handlings throbbing with ache.

"Please," she begged, her face dripping with blood and brown water. She groaned in pain, as she was forcefully shoved to the ground again. She didn't know who had done it. Their faces were blurring together under war paint and scowls. How could people she had once thought to be her friend do such things to her? How could she ever look her Cheyenne friends in the eyes again?

The realization had already hit her that she may never see them again. If Custer had carried out his extermination of the Cheyenne of Colorado Springs, she would return to a town broken by his dirty promises and misled by ignorance.

She crawled on her hands and knees, trying to pick herself back up, but she felt a boot press firmly into her back and push her back in, blackening her clothes in mud and human excrement. She didn't cry out, because she'd learned not to. She couldn't risk angering One Eye anymore. He'd kill her if she tried to escape one too many times. She had to focus on Colleen, on Matthew, On Brian. On Sully. Sully. She wanted to cry out for him. Maybe he'd hear her. Maybe if she prayed harder, he'd feel her.

One Eye came down from his hill—rifle in hand—and he touched one of his comrades, Silver Feather on the arm. He said something to him, and Michaela could make out the Cheyenne word for water. But that was it. When Silver Feather hoisted her to her feet, he put the barrel of a shotgun to her back and barked something at her. She didn't know what it was, but she knew he wanted her to move forward.

So, on she walked on her bare, bloodied feet, and she had no idea where she was going. She feared that one wrong turn and she'd be lying face down with a bullet in her back for her troubles.

Feeling the urge to relieve herself caused Michaela's heart to race. She was no stranger to public humiliation anymore, and when they reached a creek bed, he waved her into the water. Thankful for some modesty, she stepped into the freezing water and submerged herself, letting the water cleanse her wounds as she emptied her bladder and her bowels into the murky water. Tears fell from her eyes, as she felt his eyes on her the entire time.

When he barked orders at her again, she started to get up, but she lost her footing, falling back into the icy waters. He stared at her, his eyes black and unfeeling. But it was nothing compared to looking into One Eye's face and seeing Hell itself.

The current was picking up speed, and Michaela knew that it was a long shot, but if she could distract his attention long enough to escape, she might have a chance. Swallowing the fear that balled up in her throat, she turned to the side, her eyes widening, trying to let a vision of hope fill her face.

"Sully!" she exclaimed. Silver Feather turned quickly, and Michaela grabbed a rock from under the water, tossing it in the opposite direction he was looking. When he heard the thud nearby, he jumped across the creek, and with all of her might, Michaela tore her way down the creek, her hands crackling and bleeding on the sharp rocks and her knees being impaled by the jagged edges. She didn't even try to be quiet, as her breaths came out in ragged gasps.

She could hear his footsteps splashing in the water behind her, and she pulsed herself to her feet, she continued to run, screaming out in pain, as the raw flesh on the bottoms of her feet began to tear open again.

"No!" she cried, as she could hear his struggling breaths behind her. "No! No! No, please!" She tried to hop onto dryer land, but she couldn't get good enough footing. She continued to run, and she glanced over her shoulder once to see him readying his rifle. Her life flashed before her eyes, and when she heard the shot, she could do nothing but keep on running, bullet in her back or not. When she didn't feel the pain, she thanked God and kept running. But what she didn't expect was the loose rock her left foot landed on. Her heart stopped beating for a moment, as she began to fall. When her head hit a jagged rock, she couldn't scream. She couldn't do anything but fall into a black oblivion, and that was the moment she realized what it was like to die.

She was still…lifeless. Sliver Feather knew that it would be a worse hell if she wasn't dead. She'd likely drown and bleed to death at the same time, and if they dragged her bloodied corpse with them, sooner or later, they'd be found. No, she was no longer a liability dead. With a final glance at her motionless body, he turned and went to break the news to One Eye.

But his leader was already there, standing with his rifle in hand. They exchanged words, and One Eye carefully examined the body with his one good eye, and satisfied that she was dead, or close enough to death, he dragged her up on land, leaving her for the wolves.


Sully collapsed under a large pine tree, his lungs burning from the three-mile climb up the mountainside. Wolf relaxed against him, his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth.

"We're gonna find her, boy. We're gonna find her," he promised. He closed his eyes, sweat burning his eyes, as he squinted into the morning sun. He only hoped to God that Custer would keep his word. He knew Michaela was alive, and not only was she counting on him, but an entire tribe of Cheyenne were counting on him, and so was a family of three children who needed their ma more than anything in the world.

The sound of a mountain lion got his attention, and he sat up, breathing hard. He closed his eyes, feeling his heart beating wildly in his chest like that of a wild cat on the chase. He listened hard, and he put his hand on Wolf's soft coat, calming him.

The sound of running water caught his attention. He could feel his temple throbbing with pain, and he moaned, putting his hand to his head. Water. Something told him that if he found water, he would find Michaela.

"Come on, boy," Sully said, straining to stand up, his calf muscles begging for rest, but his heart unwilling to stop for fear that Michaela would disappear from reach again. He couldn't give up. Not when he had come so far.

He held a torn piece of Michaela's dress up to Wolf's nose. He'd found it six miles back, bloodied and soiled with God knows what. "Find," he sputtered, his lungs continuing to burn.

Wolf sniffed around for a moment, before he caught a scent in the forward-facing direction.

"Good boy. Find Michaela, boy. Find!" Wolf shot off ahead, and Sully wasted no time in running off behind him in full pursuit.


Author's Note: Sorry about removing the story earlier. There were complications, but anyway, I hope you enjoy, and feedback would be appreciated! I don't plan on this being super long like "Across the Stars" but you never know what could happen!