Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters or such in this story. I just use them for a little fun.
-This is a 'what if' during the Season 5 finale (when Sully organized the Indian Revolt at Palmer Creek). It takes place before the revolt.
For Lena-'cause she's a rock star
- /.\ - /.\ -
"Michaela!" Sully ran towards the train as Michaela supervised her trunk and her children's baggage being loaded. She didn't turn to see him approach. He called her name again, in case she hadn't heard.
But she had heard. She was leaving.
She was leaving, and she was taking their children with her.
Matthew had ridden to Robert E's and had said Michaela had packed some of her things and was leaving on the next train out.
Michaela ushered Colleen and Brian onto the train without looking back to see her husband running at top speed to catch up with her. She followed them on with Katie on her hip.
"Michaela!" Sully shouted again. Half the town was now in the street to watch Sully sprint down it.
Matthew beat Sully to the station on his horse and jumped off to stop him. "Let her go!" Matthew got a better grip on Sully as he struggled. "Let her go!"
Sully broke his eyes off of Michaela and glared at Matthew. "You tellin' me ta give 'er up?"
"No, but she needs time. I'm tellin' you to give her time."
"All aboard!" the conductor called.
"Michaela!" Sully shouted. He could see her through the window but she wasn't looking his way. He could see Brian wave, and Colleen looking over his shoulder and waving as well. The whistle blew and the train started to move out.
Tears formed in Sully's eyes as he watched his family pull away. As the train clear the station Sully dropped to his knees. "Michaela," he sobbed as his life pulled away.
- /-\ -
Hours later Sully had made his way back to the Homestead. It looked so sad, so dark and alone in the evening. All those horses were grazing in the pasture; he wished he'd never gotten them. He cared about the Indians, and Cloud Dancing. Cloud Dancing was his best friend, but even he would have preferred to sit in that reservation than see Michaela take the train out of Colorado Springs for good.
He walked up the front steps and stared at the door.
Her door. The door Michaela picked out, and bought. The door Brian fixed when Sully went to find the Senator's son a year or two previous.
Sully opened the door and stepped inside. Normally, dinner would be made by now, and Michaela would be setting the table. She would be telling Brian to wash his hands, and would kiss Sully on her way by the door to the table. He would hang his jacket and join Brian at the sink.
But there was no dinner tonight.
He continued through the house and went up the stairs.
The door to Brian's room was open, as usual, and messy, as usual. Sully walked in and made the bed. He picked up some of the clothes and put the clean ones in the drawer. He put the dirty ones in a neat pile next to the bed.
Sully left the door open and walked down the hall to Colleen's room. The door was closed, as usual. He opened it and saw her characteristically tidy room. He left the door open and walked to his room.
The door was open; Michaela hadn't closed it when she left. Sully closed the door and went back down the stairs. He sat in front of the cold hearth and fell asleep.
- /-\ -
"Sully?" Matthew called as he dismounted his horse in front of the Homestead. He looked around. The horses had been fed, so Sully had been home at one point, but there was no smoke from the chimney and all the windows were shut. Therefore, it didn't appear that anyone was home now.
He walked up to the house and opened the door. "Sully?" He looked around the main level of the house before heading up the stairs. Matthew found Sully sitting cross legged in the middle of the hall in front of his room.
"Sully, you alright?" Matthew asked.
Sully didn't look up. "It's the only room I can't go into. Can't go into my room 'cause it's hers too."
Matthew reached the tickets out of his pocket and held them out to Sully. "Here, I got you train tickets that'll get you to Boston. It leaves the day after tomorrow at ten. Go to Boston and bring Doctor Mike, my brother, and sisters home.
- /-\ -
Michaela sat silently in her mother's parlor in Boston. Brian and Colleen sat with books, but they weren't reading. They were staring at their mother, who was watching Katie play on the floor.
She wasn't really watching Katie, she was thinking about Sully. He was once so perfect. She remembered when Miriam said she had the perfect practice, perfect children, and a perfect husband. Nothing was perfect anymore, like it had been once.
No one is gone that much and comes home late just to ignore their wife when there is nothing going on, no one.
He was once so perfect. Apparently that was longer ago than she thought.
"Brian, Colleen," Elizabeth said as she entered the room. "Why don't you take Katie and help your Aunt Marjorie settle in?"
"Alright Grandma," Colleen put her book down and picked up Katie, sensing her Grandmother's need for her to leave. "Come on, Brian."
Elizabeth sat down next to Michaela on the settee and waited for Marjorie and the children to go up the stairs. "I may be angry with Marjorie, but it is nice to have her home again. As it is nice to see you in my home again, Michaela."
Michaela merely nodded. She had turned her attention to the window to avoid making eye contact with her mother.
"Michaela," Elizabeth's tone changed into her 'Mother' tone. "You cannott sit here and watch your life live on without you. You have four beautiful children, two of which are very young and need their mother to watch them grow."
"I thought I had what I always wanted, Mother. I had my own clinic where people not only needed a doctor, but respected a woman doctor. I had my wonderful children, who are strong and raised me as much as I raised them. I had my beautiful house built for me by my perfect husband. And all of it went wrong." Silent tears welled in Michaela's eyes.
"You and I both know that I didn't know Sully very well," she started before Michaela stopped her with a direct gaze.
"Don't, Mother. It's too late for that now."
"No, it's never too late, Michaela."
She wiped a few tears streaming down her cheeks. "It was too late for Marjorie and Everett."
Elizabeth squeezed Michaela's folded, shaking hands. "Don't you ever compare that . . . cad to Sully," she said sternly. "Everett wasn't half the man Sully is."
"But they are all the same, aren't they, Mother?"
Elizabeth put her arm around Michaela. "Mine wasn't, and neither is yours."
- /-\ -
"Aunt Marjorie, I thought you were on your way to New York with the girls from Hank's saloon. What are you doing here?" Brian asked as he watched his aunt unpack a few of her things.
"I was in New York, Brian. Matthew sent me a telegram and told me your mother left Colorado Springs in a hurry. So, I decided I needed to be here with my sister, even if it is Mother's roof. So, I got on the train, and here I am!"
"Well, I'm glad you came. I'm sure Ma is glad you're here to," Colleen said as she helped Marjorie unpack.
- /-\ -
"Boston! All for Boston here!"
Sully stood up and picked up his bag. He had done this once before; come to Boston looking for Michaela. He had wanted to tell her he loved her. This time wasn't too different in that respect.
Sully got off the train and looked around the station. He tapped an older boy on the shoulder. "Wanna make an easy dollar?"
"I could be lookin' to help you, Mister," the boy replied.
Sully retrieved a letter from his bag. "I need you to take this to Mrs. Elizabeth Quinn on Beacon Hill."
- /-\ -
Elizabeth sat in her parlor with three of her daughters and three of her grandchildren, none of whom seemed to be particularly happy about anything. Even Rebecca seemed quiet.
She was reading when there was a knock at the door, and the butler answered it. He came into the room with a letter in his hand.
"A young gentleman delivered this for you, Madam."
Elizabeth took the letter and opened it. She looked to see who it was from, when she saw, she closed it and continued with her book.
"Well, who was it from, Mother?" Rebecca inquired.
Elizabeth looked up, thinking quickly. "Mrs. Meade. It's an invitation to a garden party." She then returned to her novel and waited for the clock to chime. When it did, she sent the children to bed.
The children set their books down, kissed their aunts and grandmother goodnight and headed up the stairs. Michaela followed them, claiming she was tired.
Rebecca sighed when Michaela reached the top of the stairs. "She's off to cry herself to sleep again."
Elizabeth opened the letter. "Actually, this letter is from Sully. 'Dear Mrs. Quinn,'" she read aloud. "'I write from the train to Boston.'" She continued to read Sully's words. He told of Cloud Dancing and the trouble at the reservation, and how he wanted to protect Michaela, but neglected her instead.
He wrote of Matthew's news that Michaela had packed her things, got the children, and boarded the train. Sully ended his letter with a request to see Elizabeth in the park tomorrow before lunch.
"What are you going to do, Mother?" Rebecca asked.
"Of course she's going to meet with him!" Marjorie exclaimed. "It's Sully we're talking about!"
"Marjorie, contain yourself," Elizabeth scolded, somewhat forgetting of her daughter's indiscretions. "Yes, I will meet with him, and neither of you will say anything. I know Michaela, and if she finds out we are meddling in her life, not only will she be furious, but she will overreact and do something rash as well." Elizabeth stood and smiled. "I'm going to turn in; it appears I have a big day ahead of me."
- /-\ -
Sully stood from the park bench when he saw Elizabeth approaching as if she was on a casual stroll. "Mrs. Quinn, glad you came."
"Mr. Sully, I may not have been your greatest supporter in the past, but I'm not blind. It is clear to me that Michaela has only really loved two men her life; her father, and you." Elizabeth sat on the stone bench, and Sully sat next to her. "I think you should come to dinner tonight."
"What about Michaela?"
"Don't concern yourself with that. Is it her home or mine?" She paused for a moment to formulate the words. "Michaela needs to know that you're here in Boston, but she isn't ready to go home yet. The children on the other hand, are ready to go home. Therefore, you are coming tonight to see your children.
"When Michaela realizes how happy you make those children, she will remember how happy you make her."
"Thanks, Mrs. Quinn. Michaela and the kids are everythin' ta me. I can't loose 'em."
Elizabeth shook her head as if referring to a foolish child. "I assure you, Mr. Sully. Michaela will come to her senses."
- /-\ -
Rebecca informed the children that Sully was coming to dinner and they were very excited to see their pa.
That night at dinner Colleen and Brian said eagerly in their chairs. Michaela sat quietly, which described her typical behavior recently. Marjorie attempted to fill the silence with the latest news of the Suffrage Movement and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Rebecca agreed for the sake of conversation in her typical cheerful demeanor; which seemed to almost mock Michaela, unintentionally.
Then Sully walked in.
It seemed that a thousand things happened at once. Marjorie and Rebecca fell silent into the background. Colleen and Brian's faces lit up. "Sully!" they cried. Even Katie gave a cheerful responsive giggle.
Michaela wiped her mouth and dropped her napkin as she stood. "Excuse me."
Sully froze staring at his wife while Elizabeth took charge.
"Sit down, Michaela," she said.
"Mother, this is dinner," was the first thing Michaela could think of saying. As soon as she said it, she realized it was stupid and she should have said something else, but it was too late. Her face showed no sign of her folly, and she kept her gaze locked on her mother.
"I know, Michaela. I invited him. I would appreciate you not to make a scene, and sit down like a civilized person." Elizabeth stared Michaela down into her seat. When Michaela sat, Elizabeth smiled and turned to Sully. "Please sit down, Mr. Sully."
Sully sat at the corner of the table opposite Michaela, and next to Brian.
The dinner had an extremely uncomfortable undertone to it, so Marjorie and Rebecca tried to fill the many eerie silences that arose. Brian spoke more at dinner that night than he had in their entire time in Boston.
As soon as dinner was over, Michaela excused herself, even though everyone encouraged her to stay. A few minutes later Sully said it was time for him to leave as well. He said good night to Elizabeth, Rebecca, and Marjorie before the children walked him to the door.
"You takin' care of yer Ma, and sisters, right?" he asked Brian before giving him a hug.
He turned to Colleen. "I know yer bein' strong fur everybody." Sully hugged her as well and kissed her forehead.
Colleen handed Katie to Sully. "And I'm sure you've got a smile for yer ma when she needs one." He hugged Katie tight and she gave him a big little-girl kiss, which made him chuckle as it always did.
"Papa," Katie said.
Colleen and Brian smiled at Sully's expression. "She's been sayin' 'Pa' for a while now. We were hopin' you'd be able to hear her," Colleen explained.
Sully kissed Katie again. "There's my girl." After a short moment, he handed her back to Colleen. "Night kids."
Colleen and Brian watched Sully walk out the door, shutting it behind him.
- /-\ -
Marjorie knocked on Michaela's door. She heard a sniffle and a muffled permission to enter. She walked in and shut the door behind her. "You really need to get a grip on yourself, Michaela," she said with brutal honesty. "I say that because I'm your sister and I love you. You're part of the reason I am who I am today, and I can't let you become less than who you are."
Michaela didn't respond. She just moved over in the bed, making room for Marjorie to sit next to her.
"Do you remember what you said to me the day before your wedding?" Marjorie asked as she sat.
"Before or after you struck me?" Michaela asked with the first smile Marjorie had seen from her since she'd arrived.
"The reason why I stuck you." Marjorie watched Michaela's smile fade as she remembered. She turned to face Michaela. "I remember." Marjorie sat up straighter, imitating her sister. "'At least I know Sully would never run off and leave me for some trollop.'"
Michaela looked at the pattern of the quilt, and traced it with her fingers.
"That still holds true, you know." She took Michaela's hands in her own. "Sully is the kind of man who never leaves the woman he loves. And you, Michaela Quinn, are the only woman Bryon Sully loves.
Marjorie laughed. "That man worships you. As he should," she added in her 'Suffrage voice'.
Michaela tried to ignore the last thing her sister said. "Thank you, Marjorie, but I'd rather be alone right now."
- /-\ -
Sully walked down the street on his way to his hotel. He was a ways from Beacon Hill, and there were not many people out; only a few carriages and buggies out for a late-night drive.
Sully heard a scream and some commotion. He broke into a run towards the trouble. Two men were holding up a buggy. From what he could tell, there was an old couple who sat with their hands up as guns were held to them.
"Hey!" Sully called as he ran up. One of the men turned with his weapon pointed directly at Sully. He tried to turn, but his boots slipped on the cobble stones and he started towards the ground at an odd angle.
The thug fired a shot, aiming for Sully's heart. Because Sully slipped, the bullet went into his left shoulder instead of his chest. Sully's head smacked the cobble stones as he hit the ground.
The bandit laughed and kicked Sully in the stomach several times. "That's what ya git, ya red-skinned half breed!"
"Come on!" the other shouted. "Let's git before the Constable rounds!"
A minute seems like an hour when there is a bullet in your shoulder. Sully's hour passed as slowly as one could. He felt someone touch his shoulder and he heard some voices.
"Marilyn," said an elderly gentleman's voice. "He's still alive. We need to get him to a hospital."
"No," muttered Sully. Michaela, he had to see Michaela. If anyone could help him it was her, and if not, at least he'd see her once again. "Quinn, Quinn," he repeated again and again, trying to be loud enough to be heard.
"Tyler," a woman's voice said, presumably Marilyn. "Tyler, he's trying to say something."
Tyler lowered his ear to Sully's face. "Win?" he shook his head. "No, that's not what he's saying." He thought and listened. "Quinn!"
"Quinn, Quinn," Sully repeated again.
"Josef Quinn?" Marilyn asked.
"Doctor Quinn has been dead for at least five years now."
"Michaela Quinn. . . Quinn. . . Michaela Quinn."
"Michaela Quinn!" Marilyn exclaimed, hearing Sully's echo of her name. "Josef's daughter Michaela is a doctor. And I believe she's here in the city! Tyler, we have to get to Beacon Hill!"
- /-\ -
Michaela lie in her bed, curled up. The tears had stopped, for now. She hadn't fallen asleep yet, there were too many things on her mind. Sully being at dinner tonight, the children's response to him, and how she really felt on the inside.
"Michaela!" Rebecca shrieked, throwing the door open. "Get your medical bag! Come quick!"
Michaela didn't know what was happening, but she shot out of bed. It didn't really matter what was going on, all the things in her mind were gone. Doctor Quinn was in action.
She rushed down the stairs with her medical bag, still in the process of putting her bathrobe on. She saw Brian and an older gentleman carrying a semi-conscious man into the dinning room and putting him on the table.
That semi-conscious man was Sully.
Michaela opened her bag as Colleen brought a lamp over. She quickly looked him over. A bullet had gone into the shoulder on his left side. She ripped his shirt to gain access.
"We have to get this bullet out."
"Hold on, Pa," Colleen whispered as she set the lamp down. "Hold on."
Michaela proceeded to perform the necessary surgery to remove the bullet from Sully's shoulder. The bullet nicked his collar bone, only causing minor damage.
After sewing him up, Michaela turned her attention to the blood coming from the side of Sully's head. Foreseeing no internal injuries, she stitched his head as well.
The procedures took a deal of time, and when she finished Michaela sent Brian and Colleen to bed. She then pulled the rocking chair into the room and put it by the table.
Michaela rocked for a time before falling into an uncomfortable sleep. She slipped into a frightening dream world. She woke many times, remembering none of what she feared.
When she woke near morning, she didn't try to fall back asleep. She watched Sully for a long while, how long: she didn't know.
When his eyes fluttered she stood and leaned over him. In an instant his eyes opened and their gazes locked. "Good morning," she whispered.
He smiled when he saw his face, like a man stranded in the desert seeing water for the first time in months. "Michaela."
Michaela then got extremely nervous and started stammering rapidly. "You've been shot. Colleen and I were able to remove the bullet, and you're going to be fine."
As she continued to babble about his condition, Sully finally saw his chance to actually speak with her. "Michaela." The simple sound of her name tumbling from his lips stopped her babbling. "I'm sorry."
She fell back into the chair and pulled it as close to the table as it would go. "I'm sorry too," she said. Michaela took his left hand, which rested across his chest. "It's very difficult to stay angry at someone when you're removing a bullet from them."
"It was my plan from the start," Sully said with a weak laugh.
Michaela smiled again. "I realized I wasn't angry with you anymore," she confessed. "I was angry with myself for leaving you and ruining our marriage."
Sully shook his head compassionately. "Ya didn't ruin marriage, Michaela. It ain't ruined." She stroked her cheek with the back of his right hand. "I love you."
She smiled and gripped his right hand as well. "I love you, too."
- /-\ -
A short time later, everyone came down for breakfast. As the cooks made a hearty breakfast Brian and Michaela helped Sully sit up.
He clutched his abdomen with his right hand and winced.
"Your ribs?" Michaela asked. Sully nodded. "Let me take a look." Michaela opened Sully's shirt and gasped at the sight of his bruise-blackened stomach. It almost looked as if he'd been trampled by a stampeding herd of wild horses.
She determined if any bones were broken as gently as possible. "You have a few broken ribs, but they are only minor." She turned to Colleen. "Wrap Sully's ribs, Colleen."
"Sure," Colleen replied with a cheerful smile. She helped Sully out of his torn, bloody shirt, and then wrapped his entire abdomen as he tried not to wince and gasp too much.
As Brian and Michaela helped Sully stand, Elizabeth came down the stairs with a man's shirt. Michaela and her sisters realized it was probably the only piece of their father's clothing left in the house.
Sully received it with an acknowledging nod, realizing what Elizabeth's daughters did. He smiled when Michaela helped him into it with a wife's loving touch, not a doctor's professional one. She then adjusted his sling and fixed his collar. Sully felt his marriage healing; and a lot faster than he was.
- /-\ -
After breakfast Sully was helped upstairs into Michaela's room. He remained there for the rest of the day. Brian moved the checkers board up and played a few games with him throughout the day. Michaela played a few games of chess with him like that had what seemed like years ago.
Elizabeth even came and sat with him for a short while. She didn't say anything, but her presence was less than nerve-racking.
That night Michaela checked Sully's bandages for blood and infection. Finding little blood and no infection; she told him to sleep. She then turned out the lamp and sat in the rocking chair next to the bed.
Sully turned his head to see her through the darkness. She rocked slowly and gently. "Don't know 'bout you, but I could use some holdin'."
Michaela stopped her rocking and opened her eyes. She peered at him for a moment. "I appreciate your enthusiasm," she answered in a whisper. She got up and climbed into bed with him. She snuggled on his right side and wrapped her arms around him.
Sully put his good arm around her and pulled her closer as he heard the tears begin to fall.
These tears were different than the tears shed recently, she was with her husband now and her marriage wasn't over anymore.
- /-\ -
Sully lay with Michaela's head on his chest. His ribs on that side were throbbing slightly; but it was worth it. Michaela was here. He ran his fingers through the ends of her hair. Neither of them had said anything since they'd awakened. They both just enjoyed the silent company.
"We alright?" he finally asked.
"Sully," Michaela took a deep breath. "We are together again, but it's not going to be simple anymore. There are certain assurances that need to be said; by both of us."
Michaela turned to get a better view into his crystalline blue eyes. "Like, I promise to listen first, and judge second."
"I promise to trust you," Sully replied.
"I promise not to be too suspicious."
- /-\ -
Brian walked to his ma's room to get her for breakfast. Before knocking he put his ear to the door to listen. He overheard a muffled conversation.
"I promise to give you the attention you deserve."
"I promise to ask questions first."
Brian turned and saw Colleen down the hall with Katie. He waved her over and she joined the eavesdropping.
"I promise to be home for at least five nights a week."
"I promise to cook at least one of them."
Everyone got a laugh about that.
"I promise," Sully projected his voice, "to teach those children some manners."
Brian and Colleen cringed knowing they'd been caught. Brian knocked on the door shyly.
"Come on," Michaela called singsong.
The children came into the room to see Michaela sitting up and helped Sully do the same. When they were upright Sully put his arm around Michaela.
"Does this mean we're a family again?" Brian asked.
Sully looked at Michaela for a moment before turning back to their children before them. "Yeah, it does."
Brian and Colleen's faces lit up and they joined their parents on the bed.
Michaela looked around at her family, Brian next to her, Colleen leaning on Sully, and Katie between them. "Yes, it does," Michaela agreed.
- /-\ -
"Matthew!" Horace called as he jogged his awkward gait down the street. "Matthew, telegram from Boston."
Matthew received the paper from Horace. "'Sheriff Cooper,'" he read aloud. "'Michaela, Sully, and children are en route to Colorado Spring on the 821; arriving 5:30 on Thursday. Love, Grandma Quinn.'" Matthew smiled and looked to the small group that had gathered.
"This is wonderful news!" Dorothy said. "Them returnin' together."
"Yeah, it is," Matthew agreed.
- /-\ -
Sully, Michaela, and the children sat/lay somewhat comfortably in their cabin on the train. Sully sat, dozing, with his back on the side wall, his left leg was straight on the seat and the right was bent with his foot on the floor.
Michaela sat similarly with a sleeping Katie in her lap, leaning against Sully's chest. She held Sully's good arm around her gently and dozed to the steady rhythm of his heartbeat.
Colleen leaned against the wall on the other side of the cabin with her legs curled up. She was as soundly asleep as Katie was.
Brian sat wide awake, staring out the window and the train chugged along the plains. He was happy they were a family again, and that he didn't loose another pa.
- /-\ -
When the train pulled into Colorado Springs nearly the entire town was there to meet it. It stopped and everyone waited on pins and needles.
As Brian got off the train there was a collective sigh of relief. Following him was Colleen. Then Michaela and Sully got off the train with Katie and there was an eruption of cheers.
"Oh, Michaela," Dorothy exclaimed and embraced her friend almost before she reached the ground. "We're all so glad you're back."
"I'm glad to be back, too."
"Y'all must be exhausted from ya trip. Let's go to my Café for some dinner, and some apple pie," Grace suggested and everyone followed her.
They inquired into Sully's injuries and Brian delighted them with an exaggerated tale of heroics; which he decided he had to write into an epic story.
Everyone talked about everything and nothing at all until someone noticed Michaela and Sully were gone.
- /-\ -
Michaela climbed into bed with Sully and wrapped her arms around him. She pulled the blankets up around them, and ran her fingers through his hair. "I love you, Sully."
Sully held her close and kissed her lips. "I love you, too. . . Michaela."
- /.\ - /.\ -