Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters from Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. They belong to Beth Sullivan and CBS.
By, Ashley Jenkins
She gasped for breath, reaching out for him. But he wasn't there. She was drenched in sweat after another nightmare. She threw off the covers and rushed out of bed, running over to throw open the window. The sweet night air greeted her, cooling her off as she strived to gain her breath. She closed her eyes, leaning against the window frame, and she dug her toes into the hard floor beneath her.
"Sully," she whispered, looking out toward the moon. The clatter of horses on the cobblestone told her that town would be alive and bustling in a matter of hours. She moved across the room and lit a lamp, and as she was sitting back down upon her bed, she felt a sharp contraction surge through her body. "Oh!" She gasped, as the pain intensified, and she pulled on her robe. God, this was it. This was it!
Pulling herself down the hallway, Michaela knocked loudly upon her mother's bedroom door. It was only a moment before Elizabeth opened the door.
"Michaela? What on earth…"
"It's time," Michaela said through gritted teeth, as she protectively placed her hands on her belly.
"It's time?!" Elizabeth felt her heart skip a beat. "Alright. Don't panic. You've done this before." Never without Sully, Michaela thought. Elizabeth quickly helped her daughter down the stairs before heading to Martha's chambers to have her help. When she returned, she announced that Martha would be out in a moment.
"The children!" Michaela exclaimed.
"I'll get them. Don't you worry."
"They should sleep…"
"Nonsense. They should be there for their mother. Besides, you promised them they could be there. You need to keep that promise, Michaela. Those children have been looking forward to this."
"Alright," Michaela moaned, as another contraction hit. Martha came rushing in.
"Oh, Miss…come sit down."
"No…I…I can't…" She groaned again, doubling over in pain. Martha held onto her to keep her standing, but Michaela couldn't believe the immense pain she was feeling. She hadn't remembered it being so painful with Katie. But then again, Sully had been by her side. She'd had something to focus on. Now, all she could focus on was that she was bringing her dead husband's child into the world, and there was nothing she could do to have him there with her.
In a few moments, Brian came rushing down the stairs with little Katie in his arms. She was still asleep, lying her head on his shoulder.
"Ma, are you ok?"
"We're going to the hospital," Michaela said quickly. "Could you go hitch the carriage?"
"Sure, Ma." Brian hurried off, handing Katie over to Elizabeth, who had followed right behind the children. The contraction ceased, and Michaela finally sat down. She moaned softly, rubbing her stomach.
"I never thought this would happen. I wish Sully were here to see his child born…" She looked down. Tears streamed down her face, and Elizabeth sat down, putting her arm around her daughter.
"Sully loved you very much. You and the children. You can bet that he...and your father, are both with you right now, cheering you on. You're going to do wonderfully, Michaela, and in a few hours, you're going to be holding that sweet child in your arms."
"I need him," she whimpered. "I can't do this without him!" This was the first time in months that she'd broken down. When she'd arrived on Elizabeth's doorsteps some four months ago, she was pregnant and absolutely broken down. After the incident with Sergeant O'Connor on the cliff, Michaela as well as the army had scoured for two months for Sully, trying to find him. And after the army stopped looking, even after they'd pardoned Sully after O'Connor recovered from the fall, Michael and Matthew continued to search, unable to turn up any clue of Sully's whereabouts. Before long, Michaela had discovered she was pregnant, and shortly thereafter, living in Colorado Springs without Sully became almost unbearable. So, knowing the only place she could go for a while, she returned to Boston with Brian and Katie, as Colleen continued with her schooling in Denver, and Matthew started law school there as well. She'd been a mess when she'd arrived in Boston, but over time, being in familiar surroundings had relaxed her, and though she was often sad, she hadn't shed tears over him in a long time, at least not until the lamps were turned down at night and she thought everyone was asleep.
"You can do this," Elizabeth breathed. Michaela shook her head, but she said nothing. "We'll get you to the hospital, and…" But as Elizabeth spoke, Michaela felt a swift gush, and she gasped. "No time…my water just broke!" Elizabeth's eyes went wide, and she quickly jumped up.
"I'll send for Dr. Burke. Martha, please help Michaela back up to her room?" Martha nodded and helped Michaela, as Elizabeth hurried out to tell Brian to ride to Dr. Burke's and ask him to come immediately.
Hours later, Dr. Burke walked out of Michaela's bedroom, drying his freshly washed hands. Elizabeth, Brian, and a droopy-eyed Katie were all waiting for news of Michaela and the baby.
"How is she?"
"She's resting now. She's…she's happy, but she's very emotional right now," he warned. Elizabeth frowned.
"Well, that's to be expected. She's still grieving, William." William nodded. "It's only been a little over half a year since Sully's death." She shook her head. "I can't imagine what she must be going through, bringing a new child into the world…a child that'll never know its father." "The baby?" Elizabeth asked. Dr. Burke nodded his head and he looked at Brian and Katie.
"You children have a baby brother." Brian beamed, and he looked at Katie, who didn't really seem to comprehend.
"Ya hear that, Katie? We have a brother!" He bounced her on his hip. "Can we see them?"
"Let's give your mother a few minutes with him before we go barging in," Elizabeth pointed out. "Everything's alright though?"
"They're healthy, and Michaela will be just fine." Elizabeth exhaled slowly, her fears melting away. "Thank you, Dr. Burke."
"I'll stop by this afternoon to check on them again."
"Thank you, Dr. Burke." William nodded, put on his hat, and left. Elizabeth put her hand on Brian's shoulder.
"Come along. Let's go have some tea, and then we'll come up and sit with your mother."
"Alright," Brian replied slowly, casting an anxious look toward Michaela's bedroom door. But, he followed his grandmother and carried his little sister down the stairs to have some tea.
"Look at you," she crooned, gently playing with his tiny fingers and toes. Ten of each. Perfectly normal. She sighed softly, kissing the top of his head. The opposite of Katie. He had a full head of hair. Brown with a tinge of red. She smiled. Perhaps he'd have her hair. Katie's was blond right now, but it was beginning to curl, and Michaela had the feeling she'd have her papa's hair.
With a sad smile, Michaela looked at her son.
"Your father would have given anything to see this moment. He'd have given anything to be here and hold you like I'm holding you now." She caressed his soft cheek, as he slept peacefully in her arms. "You'll never meet him, but you'll know him. You'll know how much he would've loved you."
Michaela dried the tears that slipped from her eyes, and she lay the baby down in her lap, uncovering him and watching his chest rise and fall. He looked so much like his father. Blue eyes, she knew, because a few moments after his birth, he'd opened them to look at her. Hopefully, they'd stay just as blue as his father's.
"What am I supposed to name you? Hmmm? Your sister's name was easy. Katie after Elizabeth Cady Stanton. You should have a name to be proud of, little one." She smiled. "Your papa hated his name, but I always liked it. It was noble and proud, just like him. Byron…" She covered the little boy up again and held him close to her heart.
"Byron…" she whispered. "You'll show your Papa it's a good name. A strong name." She smiled, stroking his soft, brown hair. "My little boy…Byron Sully."
A few minutes later, a knock came to the door, and Brian came in with Katie in his arms. Elizabeth was right behind them.
"Are you up for a visit?" Elizabeth asked.
"What time is it?"
"Going on eight in the mornin'," Brian replied with a smile, putting Katie down and opening the curtains a bit. Katie hurried over to her mother's bed.
"Mama! Baby!" Elizabeth picked up Katie and plopped her down beside her mother on the bed.
"Michaela, he's beautiful," Elizabeth beamed over her new grandson. "Look at that hair! Just like you when you were born." She grinned and touched her son's cheek with her fingers. She sighed softly, and Katie patted the baby's hand.
"Brian, Katie, I'd like you to meet Byron Sully."
"Byron?" Brian asked, as Elizabeth raised her eyebrows. "Just like Pa."
"Yes," Michaela pointed out.
"I thought Sully detested that name," Elizabeth pointed out.
"He didn't like it for himself, but I loved it, and I want him to know that. I want someone to carry on his name, and I think little Byron here will do it proud." She kissed her little boy's head. "It's a proud name."
"What're we gonna call him?" Brian wondered.
"Byron, of course," Michaela said with a smile. "Do you like that, Byron?" The baby sighed in his sleep, and Michaela grinned.
"Was that a yes?" Elizabeth asked.
"I think so." She looked up at her mother. "Mother, I don't know how to begin to thank you for everything you've done for us these past few months."
"There's nothing to thank me for, Michaela," Elizabeth assured her. "But you can let me hold my grandbaby." Michaela nodded and handed the little one over to her mother. Brian took the opportunity to hug his mother. He'd been so strong since Sully's passing. It hadn't been easy on any of them to leave Colorado Springs, leaving behind everything that they'd known and loved. But, it wasn't a permanent escape. No, Michaela hadn't been able to bare the idea of selling the house. It was Sully's house. Their house. He'd made it for them, for their children. Robert E. was tending to the place until Michaela returned home. Only, she didn't know when that would be. The idea of going back and coming home from the clinic every day, only to not see Sully's face or feel his arms around her at night…oh, she couldn't think of it.
After a while, Martha came in to help Michaela clean up, and the baby was dressed and put down to rest. Once Michaela was resting in clean sheets and a clean gown, she fell asleep easily, her baby's cradle right beside her bed. Brian and Katie went back to sleep for a few hours, and Elizabeth went downstairs to send Harrison on a few errands to announce that the newest heir to the Quinn family had been born.
"Matthew!" Colleen exclaimed, rushing up to him in front of the café they normally met at for lunch every other day. She held a piece of paper in her hands.
"What is it?!" she looked excited, so it obviously wasn't bad news.
"Dr. Mike had the baby!"
"I just got a telegram from Grandma! It's a boy. His name's Byron Sully." They both looked at one another in surprise. "He was born early this morning, and he and Ma are both fine."
"That's great news!" Matthew exclaimed, taking the telegram in his hands and reading it for himself. "I bet this'll put her off of comin' home for a while."
"Yeah," Colleen replied. "I wouldn't blame her if she never came back, Matthew." She looked down at the engagement ring on her finger. "I don't know what I'd do if something were to happen to Andrew."
"Don't go thinkin' like that," Matthew replied, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Come on. Let's have some lunch and go send a telegram to Dr. Mike." Colleen nodded, and she followed her brother into the café.
After a couple of weeks, Michaela was feeling better, though her nights were practically sleepless. She was used to a few sleepless nights as a doctor, having to sit through epidemics and such, but she had just gotten used to a regular routine with Katie, and now it was back to sleepless nights.
Little Byron was thriving. His eyes, still sparkling blue, were even more like his father's each day. He was the spitting image of Sully already.
Michaela was sitting in the parlor, and little Byron was half-awake in her arms. He'd just had a feeding, and Michaela was hoping he'd go to sleep. So, she rocked him back and forth and even tried humming, but he looked up at her, trying to stay awake.
"You know, your father would say you get your stubbornness from me. But, he was rather stubborn too." She smiled a little. I shouldn't be surprised you're fighting sleep when you have so much of both your mama and papa in you." She caressed the palm of his hand, and he curled his fingers around her finger. "Look how strong you are!"
Elizabeth stood in the doorway watching the precious moment between mother and son. Oh, how she would have loved to have had a son, but seeing her daughter with a little boy of her own warmed her heart just the same.
"Michaela?" Elizabeth asked, stepping in quietly.
"Come in, Mother," Michaela said with a smile flashed her mother's direction. "He's fighting sleep. Perhaps his grandmother can get him to sleep?"
"Oh, well…" Elizabeth took her grandson into her arms and sat down. "My, you are a good eater, aren't you?" Michaela smiled at the way her mother's face lit up in the presence of the new baby. "There, there, Byron. Just go to sleep. Grandma's going to keep you safe. Yes she is." Elizabeth cooed over the baby, and Michaela rested against the couch.
"Colleen and Matthew can't wait to meet him."
"Are they coming for a visit soon?" Elizabeth wondered, rocking the sleepy child in her arms. He was slowly losing the battle and giving in to the temptation of sleep.
"Actually, they want me to visit them in Denver."
"What? They can't be serious!" Elizabeth exclaimed under her breath. "Michaela, they can't expect you to traipse across the country with a newborn." She shook her head.
"I'm actually thinking of going," Michaela said nervously. Elizabeth looked back at her daughter in disbelief.
"Michaela, now I do believe you've lost your common sense…"
"No, I haven't. I…I think it's time I go back to Colorado. I've been away long enough."
"Michaela, when you came here, you were completely devastated by Sully's death. Do you really think going back there right now is going to do you any good? It's only going to open wounds that…"
"That need to heal," Michaela pointed out, her eyes welling with tears. "I can't stay away. I have friends and patients there. Colleen will marry Andrew soon, and I want to be there."
"They can come here!"
"Not with Colleen's schooling. I can't ask that of them," Michaela urged. "I need to be back in my own house…I need to be close to the memories. It's terrifying to think of it, but I know it's what I need. It's what the children need too." She swallowed hard, as a tear slipped out. "I'm afraid to live without him, and being here has been like…like I've been on a vacation, but the reality is that when I return home, I won't be returning to him. I'll be returning to a parade of sympathetic looks and words of encouragement." She looked at her son in her mother's arms. "I don't want that, but I do want to move on. Sully would want that…and I have to figure out how. In a couple of months, it'll be a year since he's been gone…and I have to accept that. The only way I can do that is if I go back there."
"Michaela, you shouldn't do this to yourself," Elizabeth urged her. "You have to think of the children."
"I am," she said with a nod. "Brian misses his friends at school, and I know he's missing Colleen and Matthew terribly, as am I. And I want Katie and Byron to grow up loving the place their father did." She looked into her mother's eyes. "When father died, didn't you just want to get away?" Elizabeth squirmed.
"Of course I did, but I had duties here that prevented me from…"
"I have duties that are calling me home, Mother," Michaela whispered, as Byron finally fell completely asleep. "I have a clinic that Andrew's been kind enough to run for me…"
"He can run it a little longer. There's no way I'll see you travel halfway across country after having just given birth. I wanted to throw Katie a birthday party…" Michaela smiled sadly, knowing that mere days after Katie's birthday would be the anniversary of Sully's death. She took a deep breath and nodded.
"Very well," she said quietly. "We'll stay through Katie's birthday." Elizabeth nodded, reaching over to touch her daughter's hand.
"Oh, thank you, Michaela. Thank you."
"What exactly are your qualifications?" Mr. Jacobs asked, as he sat behind his desk and puffed on a cigar.
"I'm pretty good at makin' things," the other man answered. "I build, and I do repairs. The man I was workin' for in Manitou woulda kept me on, but he ran out of work for me. You can send a telegram if ya like."
"I trust ya. I trust ya." Mr. Jacobs cleared his throat and looked down at the paper before him. "That's some scar ya have there." He motioned toward the scar that ran from the man's jaw back toward his ear. It was partially faded, and it was also hidden somewhat by dark stubble.
"Had an accident," he replied. "Don't really remember much of it."
"That's probably a good thing," the man chuckled.
"Yes, sir. The woman that sewed me up was pretty good. Said it should fade in time." Mr. Jacobs chewed on his cigar and eyed the man again.
"Alright, I'll hire ya so long as ya live up to your reputation. You got any family?" There was a brief clearing of a throat and then he shook his head.
"No, sir. My wife died in childbirth…the baby went with her ma."
"Sorry to hear that, son. Lost my wife to a fever two years ago."
"No pain like it."
"That there ain't," Jacobs replied. He stood up and extended his hand, as the other man stood too. He shook the man's hand. "Welcome to Jacobs' construction. What did you say your name was, son?"
"Mr. Sully. Good to have ya." He fumbled through some papers. "Can ya make it to Colorado Springs by next week? A Loren Bray needs some repairs done to his store, and…"
"No, I can't do that," Sully replied quickly.
"Why not?" The man thought it was awfully strange that after just being hired, this man was refusing to do a job.
"I can't do that, sir. Too many bad memories in that town. That's where my wife and baby are buried."
"Oh…oh, well," Mr. Jacobs muttered, fumbling with his papers. "I suppose you can stay here in Denver. There ought to be some other job in the next day or two." Sully nodded. "You got a place to stay?"
"Yes, sir. Got a hotel room down the block."
"Good man, Mr. Sully. Be here tomorrow morning at eight. Until then, you can get comfortable with Denver." Sully nodded.
"Thanks Mr. Jacobs. See ya tomorrow." With a final handshake, Sully was off to explore Denver.
Please let me know what you think. This is a complete short story, but I intend to write more to this and make it a series. Let me know if you think I should continue or leave it as it is. Thanks! Ashley