Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters from Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. They belong to Beth Sullivan and CBS.

Just the Truth
Written by Ashley J.
March 12, 2008

"Are you gonna marry him?" Sully asked, trying his best to sound more angry than hurt and confused. Michaela, also trying to do the same, tensed at his question. She wondered for a moment how he could believe she loved William. But then she thought back to everything that had happened since Sully had arrived. She'd treated him so…so distantly. Still, the question got to her.

"I beg your pardon?"

"No beggin' necessary. Just the truth." He was breathing heavily, she noticed, and his hands were shaking. But the tone of his voice dug deep, and her thoughts wandered back to William's proposal just minutes ago.

"You were obviously eavesdropping."

"The truth, Michaela," he urged.

"It's none of your business!" she exclaimed. She was shaking now, and he glanced only briefly over her shoulder to see William standing there, watching the scene play out before him, dreaming of holding the beautiful doctor in his arms. The thought sickened Sully.

"That right?" he asked.

"That's right!" At that moment she regretted it, but there was no turning back now. She'd said it, and she'd hurt him. It was as if she'd taken the past couple of years and completely trampled over them. The time they'd spent together in the woods, trying to get a water sample from Harding's mill, the time he'd kissed her on her birthday, the time he'd told her he just wasn't ready yet, but it was so obvious in his eyes that he loved her.

She felt as if she couldn't breathe. Suddenly he was staring right into her eyes, showing her how much she'd hurt him, and then he was turning. She wanted to reach out to him, but she was frozen, unable to comprehend her own words. She watched him take off across the road, stripping off his suit jacket, as if he were shedding himself of the last bit of Boston. God, she was losing him, and she knew it.

"Michaela?" William approached her slowly, reaching out to her. "Are you alright?"

"No," she breathed, tears in her eyes. She didn't want to look at him right now.

"What just happened?"

"I can't…I have to go," she said quickly. She couldn't lose him. She had to see him. She had to tell him that she couldn't marry William. She didn't love him. Her heart belonged to only one man, and she could never love William like that.

"Go? Go where? Come. Let me walk you home."

"No!" she exclaimed. "I'm sorry, William." With that, she took off in a scene her mother would have been horrified at the sight of. Two years ago, Michaela Quinn would never have gone running after a man, but this man was one she couldn't let go. He meant too much to her.

She didn't even look back to see if William was walking away or following, but she didn't care. She had to find him. She'd seen the direction he'd turned, and she only prayed he was still in sight.

"Sully!" She turned the corner, but she didn't see him. She only saw a swarm of Bostonians crowding toward the center of the city, all going about with their daily lives, as she rushed desperately on to find him.

It was then that she spotted him, just ahead. She took a deep breath and hurried to catch up with him. It was then that he crossed the road and headed into the park. She hurried across the road, checking for carriages on her way across.

"Sully, please wait!" When he heard her voice, now made clearer with the absence of the bustling crowd, Sully turned. He stood in the entrance of the park, waiting as she stepped up from the road, tears in her eyes, her chest heaving with each breath.

"Go home, Michaela."

"Where are you going?"

"I'm goin' back to Colorado Springs."

"Why?"

"I think I overstayed my welcome."

"Don't be ridiculous, Sully…"

"Don't worry about it. Now you don't have to be ashamed to leave your house."

"What are you talking about? I've never been ashamed to go anywhere with you!" Michaela exclaimed. "Your being here…it's just…it's not easy to get used to, Sully. You're not from here, and I know you don't want to stay here. So why? Why did you stay so long? To make me feel…feel guilty for not coming home?"

"Where is home, Michaela? I thought maybe you'd forgot."

"I know where my home is, Sully. But you don't understand what it's like to come back to a life you once knew…only to find that you struggle every day just to try to belong!"

"I'll make it easier for ya." His voice was less abrasive now, but still, it hurt.

"No! I don't want you to go," she cried. "Sully, I don't want to leave things like this." He said nothing. He just turned to walk further into the park. She followed, keeping up with him, watching his jaw tense.

"Just answer the question, Michaela. Are you gonna marry him or not?"

"I don't…"

"Do ya love him?" Michaela looked down. "Do ya?"

"No," she replied. "I thought…I thought maybe I could. I was so happy he helped me with Mother. I let that confuse my feelings. Sully, I don't love him. I never have. It's important that you know I could never feel that way about him." A tear trickled down her cheek.

"Please, don't leave. I…I'm sorry I said what I did back there. I'm not going to marry him, and…and when I said it's none of your business…"

"You were right."

"No. I wasn't." She looked into his eyes. She'd never felt so many emotions at once before. She couldn't separate them. She just stood there before him, her emotions raw, her heart open and waiting for whatever was going to come. She couldn't stand her own fears now. She just wanted him to know, but she didn't know how to say it. "You're my best friend, Sully. You were there for me when nobody else was. I'll never forget that." Sully swallowed the lump that was forming in his throat.

"I came here, because I was worried. I told ya the truth there. But, I left some things out." He didn't know if he should take her hand, or if he should keep the distance. So he just stared into her eyes, praying she wouldn't look away. "While you were gone, things were like they were before ya ever came to Colorado Springs. At least it felt that way to me. When you came, I had a reason to come into town every day. Sometimes I made up an excuse just so I could stop by." He took a few short breaths. "The truth is…I missed ya. I don't like not bein' around ya. I ain't good with words, and ya know that. Ya know I care about ya, Michaela."

"I know," she replied. She knew, because if he didn't care, he'd never have gotten so angry about the idea of her marrying William. But she needed to hear it. She was scared, but she wanted to hear it.

"No. No, I don't…I don't just care." He was becoming frustrated now, his hands sweating and his pulse racing. He just wanted to tell her.

"Sully…"

"Michaela, I just…I need ya to know that I..." She inched closer. He could see it. He could feel it. He could smell the scent of her perfume on the breeze. It was all too much, too intoxicating. He leaned in, brushing his lips against hers just barely. He pulled back for a moment, as her eyes opened with surprise. But she didn't pull away. She only waited…for what? "I love you." With that, Michaela's heart leapt, and she leaned into him, her lips against his, as his arms tightened around her, protecting her and loving her at the same time.

Their mouths parted, inviting one another in, but within moments, Michaela pulled back, her hands framing his face, her mouth turning up in a brilliant smile.

"I love you too!" He raised her up in his arms, holding her close, lifting her feet off of the ground. Had she not been in his arms, she still would've felt as if she were floating. And when he finally put her down, both joined hands, unable to come up with anything to say. "So you're not leaving?" She blushed at her own question. Sully smiled, relief and love filling his entire being.

"I'm not goin' anywhere without you." He kissed her hand, and she grinned, tears still in her eyes.

"What's next?" she wondered.

"I don't know."

"Me neither," she admitted. "But I know…I don't want to stay in Boston. I want to go home…with you."

"Ya don't know how good it is to hear ya say that." He laced his fingers with hers, and they began to walk hand-in-hand through the streets of Boston, together at last, neither knowing what would happen next. But they were both looking forward to finding out.