Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to the characters of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. The show and the characters belong to Beth Sullivan and to CBS/A&E.
Author's Note: This story contains sensitive subject matter and follows a long journey of healing for one character.
Through the Darkness
Every day at four o'clock, he would meet her in the park at the same bench. It had become routine ever since they'd met the day he'd saved her from nearly being trampled by a runaway horse barreling down the cobblestone street. He wasn't from wealth and class like her, but she saw past all that. Her mother didn't, but she and her father did. Still, to avoid conflict, every day after her rounds at the hospital, she would come to the park and wait for him, and they would sit and talk for hours about their lives and about their dreams.
He was saving up to go out West and start a life of building houses and taking in the beauty and stillness of pure nature. She was a new doctor, fresh out of medical school and working with her father at the local hospital. She was saving up her own money so that when the time came, she was going to go where she was needed, despite the fact that she was criticized everywhere she went for being a woman doing a man's job.
He always listened to her and let her vent her frustrations with her work environment, and she listened to him tell stories of his work around Boston doing odds and ends jobs just to make ends meet. He lived in a small room above a grocery store, and he made up for his stay by doing repair work around the building. The grocer, Mr. Mercer, was nice enough, always sending him off at the end of the day with a loaf of bread, a sack of apples, and some dried beef, if he was lucky. Sometimes he brought these things with him to the park and shared with Michaela, knowing she was always hungry after rounds. But today, she didn't show up, and he grew concerned.
Wiping his hands on his pants, he got up to retire to the room above the store. He figured he'd meet her tomorrow, but something inside of him told him that if he wanted to see her, he might have to go to her in the one place he was least wanted. Deciding to wait it out and see if she turned up tomorrow, he retrieved an apple out of the sack and took a big, juicy bite. The sweetness of the fruit reminded him of the scent that lingered on her skin, even after a long day at work. He couldn't help but shiver, thinking about the fragrance of her perfume on the breeze on a warm day. It was enough to make his heart pound.
He'd fallen for her the first day he met her, and he knew it, but he could never admit it to her. He had a hard enough time admitting it to himself. They were friends, as far as Michaela was concerned. Good friends. Friendship was all he could ever expect to have with a woman of her class and wealth, and even that was lucky. He felt blessed to know her, but he also knew that had she not almost been run over by a horse, he might never have had the courage to literally sweep her off of her feet.
Luckily, she hadn't thanked him with a slap in the face or a swift upturn of the head as she walked away, like he'd seen some wealthy ladies do when a man of his class so much as put a finger on her. She'd thanked him over and over again, asking him if there was anything she could do in turn to repay him, and from then on out, they began their meetings in the park, slowly getting to know each other with one or two visits a week. But it had been a daily occurrence for more than a month now, and not seeing her there at their usual time was a bit worrisome. Still, he walked on, hoping he'd see her tomorrow.
The unthinkable had happened, and neither Josef Quinn nor his wife Elizabeth could comprehend it. Their daughter, a lovely, young and beautiful woman, had just been brought home in an awful mess. She was battered, bruised, bleeding. It had been too much for Elizabeth, who had nearly fainted at the sight of her daughter. Josef had had to take her into the other room and then attend to his daughter. But, she had locked herself up in her room, unwilling to talk to anyone.
It was two of her co-workers, Clara Jones, a nurse, and Jim Montgomery, one of Michaela's fellow physicians and a rival of hers from the beginning of medical school, who had brought her home in a carriage. They'd found her in an alley behind the hospital, but she'd insisted on being brought home.
"Why didn't you take her back into the hospital?" Josef asked angrily, as the two stood, dumbfounded before him, both obviously shaken up by the experience.
"Sir," Jim said quietly, "she didn't want to go in there. She was terrified." He paused, losing Josef's attention. "You need to know something." Josef snapped his attention back at the doctor. "I regret what I did, and…and I need you to know that I…I...I hit your daughter." In a fit of emotions, Josef grabbed the younger man by the collar.
"You what?!" Elizabeth barked, stepping forward. "How dare you put a hand on my daughter?"
"I got upset…very angry. I just…I did something I shouldn't have…but I didn't do this. I swear to you, I didn't."
"Why should we believe a word you've said?" Josef asked, pinning Jim to the wall. "You have no right to lay a hand on my daughter! Now look what's happened!"
"I didn't. I swear to God, I didn't do it."
"He didn't. He was with me," Clara said with a nod. "Even Michaela could tell you…"
"Go. Get out of this house," Elizabeth said angrily. "Just leave." Josef reluctantly let Jim go, but he reminded himself that he was going to take care of this with the hospital board as soon as he could. Both Jim and Clara left, and Josef and Elizabeth turned to one another. Elizabeth held onto him, crying on his shoulder.
"How could this happen to our little girl, Josef?" Josef just held her. "I want to talk to her. I need to know what…" Josef consoled his wife. She wasn't normally an emotional woman, but this had set her right over the edge.
"She needs to be alone right now."
"She certainly does not!" Elizabeth exclaimed. "She needs her mother…"
"Elizabeth, you know Michaela. She's going to want to be alone. She wants to think. You think I don't want to run up those stairs and scoop her up in my arms like I used to when she was a little girl…reassure her everything's alright? It's killing me that someone did this to her…that somebody could even think to do this to her. But we have to give her some time. She's going to want to talk to us, but right now, she's going to want to be alone."
"I can't stand to think of her being so alone…"
"Our girl's strong, Elizabeth. She's a very strong young woman." Elizabeth began to sob into her hands, and Josef held his wife to keep her from collapsing. As much as he was trying to be strong right now, all he really wanted to do was break down too. It wasn't fair. It never was for anyone, but this time, he wasn't the doctor with a victimized patient. He was a father with a daughter who was going to need her family's support now more than ever. Michaela was going to have a long, emotional battle, and he only prayed that her battle wouldn't also be a physical one.
She sat against the heavy, oak door of her room, crumpled on the floor, her dress in disarray, her hair falling out of the pins that had held it in a tight up-do. Her reddened face was streaked with tears, and a trickle of blood was dried under her nose. The ache was turning numb throughout her body for now, but it wouldn't last long, and she knew it.
She struggled to pull off her shoes, laced so tightly that she was now aware that she could feel her pulse in her toes. She kicked the black, scuffed shoes aside and stood up in front of her mirror, examining the damage.
Her dress had a few rips, but other than that, it hid the damage very well. Wincing, she slipped out of her dress and under garments, standing in front of the mirror. Her eyes squinted to try to spare herself from seeing the true damage. Large, dark bruises were forming on her inner thighs, where he'd held her legs apart so firmly. Her wrists and upper arms were marked with his touch, and she had a harsh bruise across the sternum from where he'd pinned her to the ground as he began his assault. Blood was dried to her inner thighs too, and she sucked in a sharp breath at the brutal sight.
"Miss Michaela?" Martha's sorrow-filled voice echoed from the hall. "Your bath's ready." Josef had ordered that his daughter be given everything she needed, though he knew that a hot bath wasn't going to wash away the pain of what had happened to her tonight.
"Thank you, Martha," she managed to croak out, her voice raw from crying. "I'll be out in a few moments."
She slowly sat down on the edge of her bed, wincing from the pain as she did so. It only made her stomach wrench to think about what he had done to her, what he'd taken from her with brute force. He'd been so strong, and she couldn't hold him off.
She'd always considered herself such a strong, self-sufficient woman, and to have something like this happen was like taking everything she knew about herself and completely throwing it out the window. She'd been crippled in that moment, unable to breathe, think, or move, as he became heavy on top of her, forcing her to feel every bit of pain as he took away her innocence.
It kept playing over and over in her mind, and she couldn't shake it. She knew it would be there, burned in her memory for the rest of her life.
"I'm heading out for the day," Michaela said cheerfully as she placed her last patient's chart in the cabinet. One of the nurses grinned at her.
"Going to meet that young man again?"
"What young man?"
"The handsome one that you meet in the park every day!" she said with a smile.
"Well, not that it's your business," Michaela laughed, "but yes. We're supposed to meet again today."
"It sounds like you two are good friends. I've even heard your father speaking highly of him."
"My father's much less judgmental than my mother," Michaela remarked, gathering her things. "Besides, he's grateful to Sully for rescuing me from the horse that day. I was so busy reading one of my medical texts that I didn't look up." The nurse just gave her a look, and Michaela blushed. Clara was always jumping to conclusions, especially in the subject of men. Just because Sully was becoming a good friend didn't mean there was anything between them. Besides, why was everyone so surprised when she told them about Sully? Just because he wasn't rich and didn't have family didn't mean he wasn't a good person!
"What are you women yammering about?" came a stern voice from the doorway. Dr. Jim Montgomery was a handsome doctor about five years her senior. He was a favorite amongst the nurses for his winning smile and flirtatious behavior. Still, he was not someone to cross paths with, and he was not a fan of Dr. Michaela Quinn, mostly because she was a woman who'd bested him in nearly every subject since day one of medical school.
"Nothing, Dr. Montgomery," Clara said with a quiver in her voice.
"I was just leaving," Michaela said, eyeing the doctor, disdain thick in her voice. He had been in her graduating class, having joined medical school a bit late in the game. He'd been competitive with her from the get go, always frustrated from being bested by a woman. He'd even tried to get her into trouble with the Dean a few times, though she could never prove it was him. Still, Michaela had come out of medical school with top grades and the favor her more open-minded professors. There weren't as many of them as she would have liked, but a few was a good start, right?
"When are you going to learn, Miss Quinn?" he asked.
"Dr. Quinn," she said through gritted teeth.
"Oh, of course." He rolled his eyes a little. "Well, if you're going to be a respected doctor, you shouldn't be socializing with the help." He nodded toward the offended nurse. Clara, knowing better than to say anything, only looked away and busied herself with arranging patient charts. Michaela, however, took great offense to this.
"Perhaps, Dr. Montgomery, you might wish to re-think your comment, and even apologize to Clara. After all, without nurses in this large hospital, we doctors would not have the sufficient materials ready and waiting when we need them, and our success rate for saving patients would probably go on a decline. Without our nurses…" Jim rolled his eyes.
"Oh, do save me the lecture. Go ahead, get in good standing with the nurses. You're practically one of them anyway," he snorted, turning quickly on his feet and heading out into the hall.
"You didn't have to do that, you know," Clara said quietly.
"He had no right to talk to you that way," Michaela replied quickly, a bitter tone in her voice. "He's competent as a doctor, but sometimes what a patient really needs to help them feel better is a doctor's good bedside manner. If he treats his nurses this way, think of how he must treat the poor people who come through here every day without money to pay for the care they need." She shook her head. "That's why some day, I'm going to have my own clinic. I won't turn anybody away." Clara shifted uncomfortably, as if trying to decide on whether or not to say something to the lady doctor. Michaela eyed her curiously.
"I saw a mother and her baby turned away today, because they suspected influenza. I specifically heard Dr. Montgomery…"
"What? What did he say, Clara? Tell me." Clara lowered her voice.
"He told her to go down the street to the shelter. He said we didn't need an epidemic on our hands." Frustrated, Michaela clenched her fists. The whole purpose of being a doctor was to preserve life, not turn ill people away!
"That's it," Michaela said angrily. "He can't get away with this!"
"Please, don't tell him I said anything! You know he has the power to have me fired."
"I won't let that happen, Clara. Trust me." Clara only nodded, uncertain of what the lady doctor was going to do. Michaela stormed out into the hall after Dr. Montgomery. A few passing nurses gave one another a look that said that Michaela Quinn was about to cause a scene by standing up for the" little people", which she so often did. "Dr. Montgomery!" He stopped in his tracks in the hall.
"What now, Miss Quinn?"
"Dr. Quinn!" she spat.
"Oh, once again…my mistake." He gave her an arrogant smile and looked down at her. Michaela thought hard about yelling at him for being so condescending toward her, but right now, that wasn't as important.
"How dare you turn away patients in need?"
"What are you talking about?"
"A woman and her child came in this morning with symptoms of influenza?" Michaela said in a questioning tone, trying to spark his memory.
"Oh, that's right," he said, brushing it off with a shrug. "That's simple. I didn't want to create another epidemic. Surely you understand that, doctor."
"Simple?" Michaela asked, aghast. "You realize that by turning her out to the shelter down the road, they're going to have an epidemic of their own on their hands? And many of them will die!"
"Well, that's far less trash for the rest of us to pick up after." Michaela could only stand there, dumbfounded by the scathing words of her male colleague.
"You are the most rude, unkind…" He grabbed her by the wrist. "Take your hands off me!"
"Let's talk about this privately. You're causing a scene!" He nodded toward the doctor's lounge. Michaela reluctantly turned, and he followed her in, closing the door behind them. The lounge was empty, and when Michaela heard the lock on the door click, she turned, the anger fading from her eyes only to be replaced by fright.
"What are you doing?"
"You need to calm down, doctor," he said sternly. "You've done nothing but cause scenes since you began working here."
"If you recall, Dr. Montgomery, we both started working here at the same time, and these 'scenes,' as you call them, were only my sticking up for what I believe is right."
"Nobody cares what you have to say or what you believe. You're a woman, and you were only accepted as a medical student and as an employee of this hospital because of who your father is. Not everybody has that privilege, and not everybody feels like you should be here."
"I worked hard to be where I am today," Michaela defended.
"Yes, you certainly did," he scoffed. "You worked hard at making everybody look like fools. Thinking you always had the answer. Well, let me tell you, women are to be seen and not heard. You think you're something special, Miss Quinn? Well I'm going to let you in on a little something. The only thing you're ever going to be good for is being somebody's whore, which is the only way you're ever going to make it in the medical world." Michaela's eyes widened at his words.
"How dare you? You have no right to speak that way to me."
"I have every right," he replied, closing in on her. "I'm a man." Michaela took a few steps backward, and she clenched her skirt between her fingers.
"Stop," she said.
"The only way any man's going to keep you around this place is if you keep him happy." Michaela found herself backed up against the wall. "You're worthless, Michaela. And I'm going to knock you off of that high horse you're always riding around on. Miss High-and-Mighty…spoiled little rich girl." He placed his hand on her hip, moving it up to roughly grope her breast.
"No!" she cried, slapping him across the face. In retaliation to her, he hit her hard across the face as well. She felt a fresh stream of blood spurt from her nose, and he held his hand against her throat, daring her to scream. He started to squeeze her neck, and she shook her head, tears in her eyes. "No, please."
"Dr. Montgomery?" A rap at the door and Clara's voice made Jim freeze.
"What?" he barked.
"There's an emergency on three. They need you right away." Jim glared into Michaela's eyes, letting her go. He moved to the door and unlatched it, stepping out and heading toward the stairwell. Clara got a glimpse of Michaela and gasped. "My God! What did he do to you?" Michaela's eyes were watering. She knew he hadn't broken her nose, but she was sore, and she was shaken up.
"Come on, let's go. I'll clean that for you."
"No, I just want to go home," Michaela replied. "I'll be fine." She held a cloth to her nose, anger boiling inside of her. She made a mental note to take this to the board tomorrow, with Clara as a witness. Right now she wanted to go home.
Clara watched the doctor leave. Michaela went and retrieved her things, continuing to dab at her bleeding nose with the cloth. She finally managed to make it outside and was walking through the alley to get out to the main road, when she felt arms grab her from behind, a hand clasping over her mouth. He spun her around and pinned her to the wall. His face was covered in some sort of black cloth to mask his face, but she could see brown eyes staring right into hers.
"Don't even try to scream. It'll hurt worse if you fight it." She closed her eyes, her body shaking, her muscles tensing at the thought of what was about to happen to her. She felt like she was going to vomit, but when he pulled her to the ground, pinning her down with such force, she could barely breathe, let alone react to the sickness building up in her stomach. This couldn't be happening. She had to stop it, but she couldn't move. She couldn't even struggle, for the force he held her down with was too strong. Her hands started to beat at his chest, but he only hurt her worse. He held her legs apart violently before pinning one leg down with his knee. With his hands, he held firmly onto her wrists as he finished the assault.
When it was all over, she lay on the ground in the alley, curled up with her knees to her stomach, sobbing and bleeding. He was running off, a mystery to her, even after what he'd taken from her. All she knew were those angry, brown eyes.
He left her there, afraid to move, afraid to cry, afraid to do anything that might make him come back and do this to her again. So she lay there, waiting for the pain to stop, waiting to wake up from this horrible nightmare.
Clara had been called up to assist Dr. Montgomery in surgery, and now the two were walking out of the hospital, ready to leave for the day. She was still fuming about what he'd done to Michaela.
"Look, it was the heat of the moment, and I wasn't thinking." Normally he wouldn't have tried to explain himself, but since Clara knew, and since Josef Quinn was Michaela's father and had a lot of pull at the hospital, he thought it best to try to explain himself to anyone who'd listen.
"I think you were thinking very clearly. You have obvious disdain for Dr. Quinn. You didn't have to hurt her like that."
"Even you've said before that a woman doesn't have a place as a doctor."
"That's before I got to know her. She's a great doctor and a good woman. She doesn't deserve to be treated like…" Something caught her eye. The dress Michaela had been wearing! It was ripped and bloodied, and Michaela lay in a heap on the ground. Clara gasped, pointing, and Jim looked in that direction.
"It's Michaela," Clara whispered. Both rushed over to her and knelt down on the ground. Jim shook his head.
"You know this wasn't my doing. You were with me…"
"I know. Michaela? Michaela, can you hear me?" Michaela was curled up, shaking and crying uncontrollably.
"We have to get her back inside."
"No," she cried, suddenly.
"Home. They can't d…do anything for me." Clara looked at Jim, panicked. "Please…home. My parents…"
"We have to get her home."
Within a few minutes, Jim was bringing around a carriage, and he helped Clara load Michaela into it. He knew that they probably should take her back inside the hospital, but the blame was going to be pointed on him until it could all be sorted out, so he figured taking her home would be best. At least then he'd have the chance to explain, or think of a way to make sure this didn't get pointed at him, considering his tussle with her just a while earlier.
Michaela slipped into the hot bath, submerging her bruised body into the tub. She ached all over, but the water was somewhat soothing. She closed her eyes, lying back to try to relax.
She couldn't even comprehend the levity of the situation, but all she knew was that he had done this to her, and she was hurt. She'd seen many cases of women coming into the hospital, obvious victims of abuse and rape. When they hadn't been too terrified to name their rapists, two times out of three, the men would be out of jail in a week's time.
She felt ill at the thought of him doing what he'd done to her and then going off and doing it to someone else. She felt dirty and used, and she knew in her heart that it wasn't her fault. But what was the use in telling? All that would happen would be that it would be exposed, her family would be shamed, and her father's heart would be broken even more than she figured it already was. This man had hurt her, yes, but she didn't want him to hurt her family as well.
She wiped the constant stream of tears away with hot water, but it didn't help. She washed her face and slowly washed the rest of her pained body.
A half hour later, she was pulling herself out of the bath. Tenderly, she toweled off. She found that she was still bleeding, so she found a cloth, folded it over and used it to try to control the bleeding as she was used to doing on a monthly basis. But, she was concerned, because as a doctor, she knew that if the bleeding didn't stop soon, she would have to seek medical attention.
She dressed and quietly slipped to her room, locking the door behind her. She didn't want to talk to anyone right now, and she was grateful that they weren't waiting outside with a hundred different questions. She wanted peace and quiet. As she crawled into bed, she prayed that tomorrow she'd wake up and discover this had only been a very bad dream.
Please let me know what you think! I'll try to post this with a chapter a day. I'd really appreciate your honest comments! Thank you!