Disclaimer: I don't own Northern Exposure, dig?

Ok, this is going to be a very interesting story so R&R, mkay?

Chapter 1

Poor Maggie

As Dr. Joel Fleishman woke up to the sound of Chris in the Morning reading aloud from some such book that inspired him as a kid blah blah blah, he knew it was going to be another Cicely Alaska day. Joel sighed and closed his eyes against that unnerving beautiful sunlight streaming in through his open window. As he lay there in the sin, he wished, as he did every morning, that somehow this was all a very bad dream and when he reopened his eyes his fiancé Elaine would come waltzing in through the door of his New York apartment on the upper east side with hot fresh bagels in one hand and a cuppa joe in the other. The reality came crashing down on him as he opened his eyes and saw the wall of his cabin in Alaska town of Cicely and instead of his fiancé, correction: ex-fiancé, he saw his Indian … acquaintance about to walk into his home as he usually did because "Indians don't knock, it's rude". Joel didn't hear the sounds of buses and people screaming on the streets, he heard birds and wind softly dancing over trees and mountain tops. He didn't smell the bus fumes and other indistinguishable nauseous smells wafting in through the window, but he did smell that upsetting fresh clean air.

"Good morning Dr. Fleishman." Ed said as he walked in.

Joel sighed as he took in Ed's stringy, jet black hair, black leather jacket, and worn out blue jeans.

"What is it Ed?"

Joel asked. Ed thought for a moment.

"Maurice needs you." He said which the case was, usually.

Maurice Minnifield was the owner of the town radio station, the land on which everything in Cicely resides and then some. A lot of some. Maurice was an astronaut. He has a southern drawl and looks like he's about to spit tobacco and then shoot some cowboy. Joel got up and got ready while Ed waited. Joel was, surprisingly, used to it, which upset him. What he needed was some time on a real golf course and some New York air instead of all this … this … clean stuff floating around. He really needed clarification that he was still alive and not crazy like the rest of the town. He followed Ed into town and sat down in Holling's bar.

"Coffee, Dr. Fleishman?" Shelly asked.

Joel nodded and held out his cup. Shelly and Holling were sort of married. Joel wasn't going to say anything, but come on! She was about 20 years old and he was closer to 70. Yuck. Shelly wasn't the brightest bulb in the store, but neither was Holling. Maurice was the one who had found the beautiful blonde Shelly. She had been in some kind of beauty pageant and he had brought her to Cicely to marry her, perhaps. But she had fallen in love with Holling, which had made Maurice more than angry. They had gotten over the silly dislike when Shelly's husband had strolled into town wanting a divorce. Joel sipped his coffee slowly, wanting to savor the goodness. Shelly sure did make a great cup of coffee, but he stayed away from the steak. And who should come into the bar next but Maggie O' Connell. Joel closed his eyes and waited for the usual out bursting spew form her. But she surprised him by sitting down slowly and sighing. He looked over at her and bit his tongue. She looked like she could use some sleep.

"Hey, O' Connell." Joel said and waited.

She usually jumped down his throat at anything he said, whether it be a compliment or a simple

"Hello". She continued to surprise him by not only saying "Hey" back, but saying "Hey, Joel." Now he was worried.

"Are you feeling ok?" He asked.

She turned to him and shook her head. Her red butch-cut hair was mussed and her eyes were glazed over.

"Why, do I look terrible?" She asked.

He didn't know how to answer and decided on avoiding that particular question.

"No, you just said hi back and called me Joel instead of Fleishman." He said.

She laughed, which turned into a cough.

"Want to come into my office for a checkup?" He asked, concerned.

She nodded and stood up, walking toward the door. She was moving very slow, so Joel downed the rest of his coffee before getting up to follow her. She was just reaching his door when he came out of the bar. Marilyn must have already gone inside because Maggie walked right in. She was sitting on the examining table when he walked in.

"Good morning Marilyn." Joel said.

She nodded to him over her knitting.

"Maggie's inside." She said.

"Yeah, I know, thanks Marilyn." He said, rolling his eyes.

He would never admit it, but he secretly really liked Marilyn. She was the cutest little Indian he had ever had the pleasure of meeting. Since the first day he had found her wandering in his office, saying she was there for "The job" and he had told her there was no job, he had liked her. She was quiet but she smiled constantly. Joel walked into the room where Maggie was.

"So, how are you feeling?" He asked softly, washing his hands and getting out the necessary equipment.

"Not good, Joel. Haven't slept in a while."

"No?" He asked.

"No." She said in a voice that meant "Don't ask."

Joel pressed the stethoscope to her back and had her breathe. He checked her lungs and her hearts. He looked into her ears which were, not surprisingly, completely free of any ear wax. He couldn't find anything physically wrong with her and he told her that.

"So, by process of elimination, it must be mental." He said.

She shot him a look. He smiled.

"What's going on? Anything on your mind lately?" He asked.

She sighed.

"Rick went away to Anchorage for a while and I've had random dreams lately about …" Her voice trailed off and he made a "go on" motion with his hands.

She looked him squarely in the eyes.

"I've had dreams about stuff I don't' want to talk about, Fleishman." She said.

He grinned.

"You must be feeling better to be attacking me again." He said.

She made a face and stood to leave. He grabbed some pills.

"Here, take these once a day right before you go to sleep. They'll help you sleep and they won't make you dependant." He said.

She took them gratefully and walked out to her truck. Joel shook his head as he watched her leave. What has she been dreaming about? He wondered. He decided not to worry as another patient entered the office.

A/N: Kinda slow at first, but it gets better l8er, swear!