Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters from Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. They belong to Beth Sullivan and CBS.
I Know You
Michaela was feeling extremely unsettled, as the train pulled closer and closer to Denver. Her stomach was twisted into knots, but she could see the relief and excitement in Brian's face to be getting closer and closer to home. She didn't want to ruin this for him, but on the inside, she was a mess. Her heart was pounding, and she could feel every muscle in her body tensing with dread for what was going to come when she got home. She knew exactly what would happen.
They would arrive in Denver and meet Colleen and Matthew. Then, they'd have lunch and talk, waiting on the next train to pull in. Then, they would go on a stroll and accidentally stumble upon places from her honeymoon with Sully. She would keep in inside, not telling them so as not to make them uncomfortable, and then they would board the train and head to Colorado Springs. Once there, she would try to hide away at the clinic, but people would stop by, offering their sympathies and not letting her get in a moment's work to distract herself. This wasn't going to be easy.
But then she smiled, thinking back to their honeymoon. She sighed softly, leaning back in her seat and looking out the window as the land passed by so fast it would make your head spin.
"Sully!" she giggled, as he wrapped his arms around her in the middle of the street, right in front of the opera house. "Sully, someone will see!"
"Let 'em," he replied, capturing her lips with his own. "There's nothin' to hide, is there?"
"Well, no, but we're in the middle of the street!" she giggled, as his arms tightened around her, pulling her in closer.
"Sorry, I couldn't help myself," he replied, not a hint of regret in his voice at all.
"We're going to miss the show."
"Good thing these tickets can be used tomorrow too." Michaela eyed him.
"Well, I just thought…in case ya changed your mind." He showed her the tickets, and then she looked back up at him.
"You had this planned didn't you?"
"Maybe," he grinned. "What would you rather do? Go into that stuffy opera house, or would ya rather go back to the hotel so we can be together?" Michaela blushed under Sully's gaze.
"You don't give me much of a choice, Mr. Sully," she breathed, standing on her tiptoes and softly kissing him. "The opera can wait."
With a sigh, Michaela looked over at Brian, who was still looking quite excited, but now he was looking annoyed, as Katie kept poking him, knowing it was irritating him.
"Katie, would ya stop?" She only smiled. "Ma…"
"Katie," Michaela said sternly. "Leave your brother alone. Come sit next to me."
"No, Bwian!" Katie exclaimed.
"Alright, you can sit there, but you have to behave." Katie nodded.
"I good girl," she muttered, putting her hands in her lap and sitting up straight, something she'd learned in Boston. Michaela couldn't help but giggle at her two-year-old. Katie was such a fun character, so full of personality. Michaela couldn't help but think about how proud her papa would be.
It wasn't long before both little ones were asleep, and Brian decided to take a little nap. They wouldn't be back to Denver for a little over an hour now, and then it was another hour of a ride home to Colorado Springs.
Michaela rocked Byron in her arms, softly humming to him, but it wasn't long before she was feeling drowsy as well. So, she made herself comfortable, secured the children safely so they could rest without her worrying about them, and then she began to doze off, temporarily escaping her anxieties about returning to Colorado Springs.
"Thank you, Matthew. You've been very helpful," Mr. Anderson said, as he and Matthew walked out onto the porch of the bank. You're going to make a fine lawyer. Why, you've helped many in Denver with their legal issues. They had better watch out for you in the court room." Matthew smiled at the man's praise.
"Well, I guess I learned a lot from my ma. She always stands up for what's right."
"Well, the lot of Denver owes your mother a debt of gratitude for having such a witty son when it comes to the law. I don't think any other lawyer could've gotten that judge to be fair. Most of the time, he rules what he thinks is best at the time so he can make it home before dinner!"
"Well, I knew what was right, so I made sure the judge saw it too. If ya ever need me again, I'll be around. I'm goin' to Colorado Springs today, though. My family's comin' home from Boston, and I'd like to be there for 'em."
They continued talking for a few minutes, and Sully, who was getting ready to work on the roof of the bank, came walking down the street from Jacobs' Construction with a few supplies bundled in his arms. As soon as he saw the young man talking with Mr. Anderson, he realized it was the man from the other night, walking with the young woman late at night. He hadn't noticed their faces, but as soon as he saw him today, there was something strikingly familiar about him. But he couldn't understand why.
He was still having flashes of those mismatched eyes, and he heard whispers of sorrow and longing in his dreams most every night. He'd had a flash of a woman lying deathly pale on a bed. The image of an Indian man. A horse race. None of them made any sense.
"I'll be seein' you, Mr. Anderson," Matthew said, turning to walk down the road. Sully watched him walk away before continuing on toward the bank.
"Ah, there you are! Just in time!"
"I was worried I'd be runnin' late. Got a late start this mornin'," Sully admitted. At that moment, Matthew froze in his tracks. That voice. It couldn't be…could it? He fought the urge to keep walking. It was all in his head. But he owed it to his mother and his siblings to find out.
Slowly turning, Matthew glimpsed Mr. Anderson walking back into the bank. The other man disappeared inside first, before Matthew could get a good look at him.
"Matthew! There you are? Come on, Ma will be here soon," Colleen urged, coming up to her brother. "Matthew? Why are you standing in the middle of the street?" Matthew couldn't move. He just stood there, staring at the bank, willing the man to come back outside. At that moment, the train whistle blew, and Colleen grew impatient. "Matthew…"
"I thought I heard…"
"Heard what?" It was then that he realized he probably was really hearing things, so he shook his head.
"Never mind. It's nothin'. Let's go."
"Who was that?" Sully asked, laying out his supplies inside, picking out what he'd need when he went up on the roof.
"That fella that was in here?" Sully nodded. "Oh, that was Matthew Cooper. He's a law student, but if you ask me, he's a better lawyer than most of the lawyers practicing over two decades are!" He chuckled.
"There's somethin' familiar about him."
"Well, you probably know him. He grew up in Colorado Springs. His whole family's from there, except his mother. I believe he told me once that she's from Boston. That's where she's coming from now. She's a doctor." He said that with a raised eyebrow. "Cooper says she's a good one." He looked at Sully. "You don't know him? Colorado Springs isn't a big town."
"I don't," Sully replied uncertainly.
"Well, I'm sure you'll hear enough about him soon enough. He'll be the talk of all the towns pretty soon. You sure you haven't heard of them? I mean, having a lady doctor living around here…that isn't something people forget about. She left a while back after her husband passed." Sully looked up.
"Yeah, he got into some trouble with the army, and him and a soldier got into it on a cliff. Well, he died, but the soldier lived, and he was dishonorably discharged after he admitted to wrongfully killing some Indians. Matthew don't talk about that much though. Sounds like it's too painful. Nobody around here talks about it much, really. Folks are too scared that if they talk too much about the army's dealings with the Indians, they'll have all the problems next." Sully shook his head, and a flash of water flew through his mind. The scar on his jaw began to throb, and he winced. "You ok?"
"Yeah. Yeah, just…just got a headache."
"Hey, you should take the day off. These repairs can wait 'til tomorrow."
"Thanks," Sully mumbled, making his way out of the bank. His head was spinning again. He didn't know what to think. He didn't feel like he knew this family at all, but hearing about them tugged at him. Something was drawing him in when it came to them. Somehow, they held the answer to his past. The only way he was going to find himself was through these people. So, he set off in the direction Matthew had gone, hoping he'd find the answers he'd been looking for.
"Oh, it's so wonderful to see you both!" Michaela exclaimed, throwing her arms around Colleen and then Matthew. Brian was holding baby Byron as Katie hopped around, waiting for her turn for a hug.
"We missed you," Colleen said softly, smiling at her mother. "How was your trip?"
"Long," Brian interjected. "Katie didn't make it very fun." Katie giggled, as Matthew scooped her up.
"Katie, you're growin' like a weed!"
"A beautiful weed," Michaela replied with a grin, kissing her baby girl's cheek. She reached for Byron, and Brian handed him over. "And this is your new brother, Byron."
"He's beautiful, Ma," Colleen cooed, taking the baby boy into her arms. "Now Brian won't feel so lonely being the only boy at the house." Realizing what she'd said, Colleen looked down. "Ma, I'm sorry."
"It's alright, Colleen. You don't have to tiptoe around me. I know what I'm going to face when I get home. It's something I'll have to deal with on my own, and you children shouldn't feel obligated to protect me from…from things that nobody has any control over." She took a deep breath. "I'm famished. What's the best restaurant in town?"
"There's a café we meet at a lot. It's just down the street. We'll store your luggage with ours until the train to Colorado Springs pulls in." Matthew held out his arm, motioning the way, and they hurried to get the luggage together before heading off to have a quick meal.
He stood watching them at the train station. He stood from afar, and they were oblivious to him. They were all happy to see one another, but a sadness was also present that he couldn't explain.
"Ma? Where are you going?"
"Just trust me," Michaela said quietly, handing Byron off to Colleen, as Matthew scooped up Katie. "I'll meet you at the train station in twenty minutes. I need to do something, and I need to do it alone." The children all looked back and forth at one another, but Michaela was already halfway down the street before they could have stopped her.
She walked briskly, tears stinging her eyes. The train was leaving in thirty minutes, and this might be her last opportunity for a while to see the opera house. Initially, she had wanted to avoid it at all costs, but the more she thought about it, the more good she figured it might do her. She needed to say goodbye, though it might have sounded silly. It was closure for her, and another way of starting to put the past behind her.
She turned the corner, seeing the opera house at the end of the street. Her heart was beating wildly, and all she could think about was the night they'd left the opera house without even having stepped foot inside.
"What're you thinking about?" he asked, as his hand gently rubbed against her arm. She lay in his arms, her head against his chest. She smiled.
"I'm thinking about the wedding," she said with a smile. "I had never seen you look so nervous before. I half expected you to take off running."
"I wouldn't have left ya."
"I know," she giggled, "but as nervous as you looked, you also looked so happy."
"It was all I could do to keep myself from runnin' down the aisle and scoopin' ya up in my arms. Ya looked so beautiful. You are beautiful." She smiled, and their lips met in a loving kiss. With a sigh, Michaela traced circles upon his chest with her delicate fingers. "Promise me we'll come here again."
"Hmm," she murmured, resting her head back on his chest. "Just the two of us."
"Sounds good to me," he whispered, feeling her body tremble with soft laughter against him. "'Course it might be hard to get away when the children come along."
"Yes," Michaela breathed, realizing for the first time that she could be pregnant at anytime now. Her heart fluttered, and she held onto him. "Sully?"
"I love you."
"I love you too," he breathed, wrapping his arms snugly around her. Within minutes, they were fast asleep, dreaming of tomorrow.
Michaela brushed the tears from her eyes, as she stepped foot onto the opera house steps. She remembered standing there with Sully the next night and walking in with him. They hadn't really paid much attention to performance; both were too busy watching one another. But it had still been a magical evening, one she could never relive again but that she could remember forever.
He stood watching her from nearby, having followed her there, keeping his distance. He knew her. He could feel it. But who was she? Why was he so drawn to her? Why couldn't he shake the feeling that she was the answer to lifting the fog that had blocked out so many years of his life?
"I wish you were here with me," she whispered. He could hear her. His breath caught in his throat. That voice. He knew that voice! "I know you don't like wearing suits, but you looked handsome in them. Especially that night." She smiled. "You always told me how beautiful you thought I was, but I only felt beautiful when you were with me, when you looked at me with so much love in your eyes." Sully glanced around at the passers-by who didn't seem to notice her speaking.
Something in the softness of her voice made him want to reach out to her, but how could he do that? She was a perfect stranger, but at the same time, maybe…maybe she wasn't. She was connected to him, and he knew that. Perhaps she didn't know him, but maybe she could point him in the right direction.
"God, I miss you," she finally whispered, making him freeze once again. He did know her.
"I know you," he spoke up. Her breath caught when she heard that voice. "I've been dreamin' about you." She resisted the urge to turn around, thinking it was all in her head. No. He's dead! He can't be here… But her heart hoped too much and won out. She turned slowly, afraid it was all in her head, and when her eyes met his, she nearly fell backwards. As soon as he saw those eyes, he knew for certain she was the woman in his dreams, in his flickers of memories.
She started to fall back, but he reached out, catching her.
"Oh my God," she whispered. "It's really you! Sully…"
"That's right," he said quietly, but he didn't know how she knew him. He didn't know anything, but before he could say another word, she was wrapping her arms around his neck, holding him so tightly that he didn't think she'd ever let go. Feeling her in his arms should have felt wrong, he thought. What about Abagail? But when he held her, he felt peace. He hadn't felt that in months.
"I thought you were dead…I thought…oh God, Sully. You're here."
"I'm here," he said. "I'm here." When she pulled back, tears were streaming from her beautiful eyes, flooding down her face. She was too overjoyed to notice his tension or his awkwardness. She was too overjoyed at this very minute that she didn't even question why he was standing in front of her after all this time. All she cared about was that he was alive.
He smiled at her, still not knowing what to say. How could he ask her to explain what he'd been doing for the past few years? How could he tell her that he had no idea who she was?
Let me know what you think! This one was probably the hardest one to write yet, but I think the NEXT will be even harder!