The Space Between
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman or the lyrics to The Space Between by Dave Matthews Band.
A/N: This will be different, but hopefully 'good different'. I just need you to trust me, go with it, and read it through until the end. Timeline will reveal itself.
The Space Between
What's wrong and right
Is where you'll find me hiding, waiting for you
The Space Between
Your heart and mine
Is the space we'll fill with time
The Space Between...
~Dave Matthews Band
He awoke to sunlight, bright beautiful golden rays sneaking through the curtains, and the feel of his wife's hand lightly stroking his chest. It was…heaven.
"Mornin'" he whispered, pulling her close, burying his face in her sweet smelling hair. He could stay like this forever, just holding her.
Well, other things were nice too…
Suppressing a grin, he felt her bare leg slowly slide up his body and noticed for the first time the warm skin pressed snuggly against his side.
Since Katie and Brian still sometimes woke in the middle of the night, it was unusual for her to sleep without her nightgown.
Pleasantly surprised, he softly trailed his hand down her smooth thigh, eventually wrapping his warm palm around her knee. Pulling her leg up higher, he gently eased her languid body up and over, until she covered him completely. Shoulder to shoulder, mouth to mouth, heart to heart.
She was gazing down at him with those eyes that said "I love you" a thousand different ways.
As she leaned in close, he felt her warm breath whisper a husky "good morning," sending a jolt of electricity through his body all the way down to his toes.
He groaned as she trailed hot open mouth kisses down his jaw. "You smell good," she murmured, "like sleepy dreams and love."
Chuckling, Sully briefly wondered what had put her in such a mood, but quickly decided it didn't matter; life was good. He wasn't going to waste the gift of waking up to an amorous wife.
Her hands slipped down his body, exploring and arousing, demanding he respond, communicating her need with panting breaths and firm caresses.
Running his hands down her spine, Sully gently guided Michaela's eager hips as she shifted to trap him with her body. Slowly, he felt her close around him as she let out a satisfied sigh.
Breath held, Sully thought he would never tire of this sensation. There was nothing like the sweet slide home when joining with his wife. Pausing, they both held tight, wanting to savor this moment.
Their bodies soon took over, lost in a world of searching hands, the slick glide of skin, and the merging of souls.
He couldn't remember it ever being this good.
In the rays of warm sunlight, they lay together, still joined. Heated skin cooling, he tried to find the words to tell her what she meant to him.
"Why so serious?" She whispered, her forehead pressed to the moist skin of his neck.
He could feel her heart still pounding an erratic rhythm against his chest. "I don't think I could be any happier." And he meant it.
She raised herself up on her elbows, chin tucked in the palm of her hands. "Is that so bad, being happy?"
"Course not. I just wish I could freeze time is all. You and me. Here. Like this."
With a sweet smile she placed a kiss over his heart. "You can. We'll be like this always."
He looked at her, really looked at her, and saw that she believed it. And he hoped that she was right.
Hearing a child cry out, Sully looked at his wife in wonder. "Did she just say 'Papa'?"
Grinning, his wife simply nodded, as he went to pick up his daughter from the crib.
"Mornin' sweet girl, Papa's here." Kissing the top of her head, he felt Katie burrow into his neck, where his wife had been just moments before.
Tears filled his eyes as Katie again said "Papa" and wrapped her delicate little arms around his neck.
They went about their morning routine and it wasn't until they sat down for breakfast, that Sully realized he wasn't sure what day it was.
"Saturday, Pa. You said you'd join me fishin' after breakfast to catch something for dinner. Remember Colleen's comin' home on the train today, and Matthew's joinin' us."
Sully paused for a moment, trying to recollect, and realized that he did remember. How could he forget? His favorite times were when the whole family was back together again.
"Sure Brian. Why don't ya go get ready and we'll leave after I finish helpin' your Ma clean up."
Glancing at Michaela, he was afraid to see worry in her eyes regarding his forgetting the day, but she just smiled her half-smile, the one reserved just for him, and went about cleaning off the table.
Going over to the sink, he picked up a towel to dry the dishes. "I'm afraid your mornin' snugglin' has left me somewhat muddled in the head."
Turning to him, with a mischievous glint in her eye, she pulled him in for a warm hug. "Have I told you recently how much I love you?"
"I believe there might have been a 'love you' this morning, but it's always nice to hear when you're not..." grinning, he put his mouth to her ear "in the moment." His sly grin widened as he saw the faint blush bloom on her cheeks.
"Ready, Pa? See ya Ma! Bye Katie!" Brian excitedly gave his Ma a quick kiss and headed out the door.
"I love you Michaela. Don't work too hard. It's Saturday; sit on the porch and relax until you have to go pick up Colleen." Sully pressed one last kiss to her lips then headed out the door.
Luck seemed to be with them today. They caught plenty of fish, more than they probably needed, but they wanted to be sure.
Brian and he spent the time talking. A father-son talk about girls, friends, life, love…The kind of stuff he always wished he'd gotten to talk with his pa about, the important stuff.
After cleaning the fish, they headed back to the homestead just in time to see Michaela pull up in the wagon with Colleen.
He just stood for a moment and watched them, the three most important women in his life. Somewhere between here and Denver, Colleen had turned into a young woman. Holding Katie, he could imagine her as a young mother.
Wishing once more for time to stand still, Sully walked over to help her down from the wagon, enveloping her in a warm hug.
"It's good ta see ya."
Smiling, with tears in her eyes, Colleen returned his tight embrace. "It's good to be home."
Matthew joined them later that evening as they were setting the table for supper. Telling stories to Colleen and Brian about some of the more humorous complaints he'd received as Sherriff, he looked content, maybe not happy, but definitely better. His heart was slowly starting to heal.
Glancing around the table, Sully felt relaxed for the first time in weeks. The trouble at the reservation, Preston's home, the money problems, all seemed to fade away. All that mattered were the smiling faces of the ones he loved seated around this table.
A knock at the door interrupted the chatter as Sully quickly made his way over to answer it with Michaela close on his heels.
It was Cloud Dancing and Dorothy holding up one of Grace's famous apple pies and a bound book.
"Oh Michaela, the book's finished. We wanted you and Sully to have the first copy."
"That's wonderful Dorothy. Come in, we're just finishing up supper."
Sully went over and clasped Cloud Dancing's arm as he ushered in his friend.
"It is good to see you my brother. You look well."
Sully couldn't contain the grin that tugged at the corner of his lips as he surreptitiously looked from Cloud Dancing to Dorothy then back again. Searching Cloud Dancing's eyes, he saw a spark that had been absent since Washita and a weight seemed to lift off Sully's heart. His friend looked happy.
With a meaningful look, Sully replied, "I could say the same for you."
After Katie was put to bed, the family gathered around the fireplace for apple pie and conversation, which finally came to an end when Sully noticed Michaela dozing in her chair.
Walking Dorothy and Cloud Dancing to the door, Sully said goodbye with a promise that he would read the book with Michaela.
As Mathew was staying the night, he headed up the stairs with Colleen and Brian trailing behind. "Night, Pa."
"Night Brian, Colleen, Mathew. Sleep tight."
It was a rare occurrence for Sully to have his whole family under one roof. He knew he would sleep easy tonight knowing they were safe.
Gently lifting Michaela in his arms, he carried her toward the stairs. She stirred as he climbed the last step. "Did I fall asleep?"
"You were exhausted. Let's get ya into bed." Entering the room, Sully sat her on the edge of the bed as he slipped her buttons free. Easing her out of the dress, he fought back a smile as she tried to stay awake. He quickly slipped the nightgown over head and pulled back the quilt.
As Michaela climbed in and settled back against the pillows she turned to Sully, "I have something to tell you."
"We can talk tomorrow. Ya need your sleep. You were up early this morning if ya remember." He knew he hadn't forgotten.
Michaela ducked her head in embarrassment as she arranged the covers. "Yes, well, this kind of news can't wait.
Sully quickly shed his buckskins and shirt then slipped under the covers to curl around his wife.
"OK, say what ya gotta say so you can go to sleep," he replied, realizing it was pointless arguing with Michaela when she'd made up her mind.
Turning in his arms, Michaela leaned in and place a sweet kiss on his lips. "When I went into town to collect Colleen, I met with Dr. Bernard. "
Sully unconsciously squeezed Michaela tighter as he began to worry, a jumble of possibilities racing through his mind. "Ya feelin' all right?"
Sensing his fear, Michaela quickly went on. "No, no, I'm, well…how do you feel about being a Pa again?"
It took him a moment to process what she was trying to tell him. Incredulously, he looked at her in wonder. "Are you sure?"
"As sure as two doctors can be," she replied with a raised eyebrow.
Pulling her back into his chest, he wrapped his arms around her placing his warm hands on her stomach. "Another baby," he whispered in amazement.
Sighing in contentment, Michaela joined her hands with his. "I'm glad you're happy. I feared you might think it was too soon. We already have so little time to spend together and so little money, with another baby, we're going to have even less…
"We'll work it out. I'm just…another baby. Do you think it will be a boy?" Secretly, he hoped it would be. He always dreamt of having at least one of each with Michaela.
"I don't know. I guess we'll have to wait and find out."
"I don't think I can sleep." He just couldn't believe it. He was going to be a father again.
"Then let's not sleep. Let's stay awake together. I'm not that tired." Her statement was ruined as she fought back a traitorous yawn. "Let's stay awake."
Sully let out an amused snort knowing that was impossible. He remembered how exhausted she was when she was carrying Katie, but he smiled and nodded just the same.
"Sure Michaela, we'll stay awake."
It was funny; now that he'd said that, he was feeling sort of tired. Cuddling his warm pregnant wife in his arms, he closed his eyes thinking that life didn't get any better than this. Today was the perfect day. He wanted every day to be like this one. With a smile on his face, he started to let sleep take over.
"Sully?" she whispered fiercely. He grimaced as Michaela sharply elbowed him in the side.
Startled, Sully tried to focus on her face, but he was so tired. And he thought he felt the beginnings of a headache coming on.
"Sleep Michaela…" He tried to ignore the pain in his head that seemed be increasing with each beat of his heart. He hoped he wasn't getting another megrim.
He tried to tell her it was alright. They could talk more tomorrow. They should sleep now. She and the baby needed sleep. But he couldn't seem to form the words.
Why was she yelling at him? He just needed to rest for a minute. Just for a minute.
"Breathe, please Sully."
Moaning, he tried to push away the hands that were poking and prodding him, making him ache everywhere, pulling him away from his warm bed.
"Don't leave me…"
He heard sobbing. Why was Michaela sobbing? It didn't make any sense. He tried to move, but a sharp pain shot through his leg.
"Please don't leave me…"
He didn't want to leave this place. Their bedroom. He was with Michaela. They were having a baby. Everything was perfect.
"Yes…You can do it…"
He felt her warm hands on his face. His leg was on fire and his head was pounding like a drum. He just wanted it all to stop, but he couldn't ignore the pleading in Michaela's voice.
Her voice…she sounded so sad, so broken. He couldn't sleep while she was so sad. Forcing himself to open his eyes, Sully looked into the tear streaked face of his sobbing wife.
"Michaela…" he whispered between cracked lips. He was confused. Why was he in the woods?
"I'm here. Just hold on. You can make it."
Suddenly, it all came rushing back. Every single horrible last detail. The renegades, the soldiers, the fall off the cliff…
"Michaela..." She'd found him. Dear God, she'd found him.
"It's all right…you're going to be fine…I love you."
He wanted to tell her he loved her back, but he couldn't. The pain was too much. It was all too much.
Cloud Dancing was gone.
Sergeant O'Connor was dead.
And he…he was a broken man.
There was no perfect day.
No first words, no book, no baby.
It was all a lie.
It was never going to be fine again.
A/N and Disclaimer: So this little episode filler all started with a line in A Moment of Truth. There was something about the way Sully said he wished he "could just stop time and keep it like this forever" as he was holding Katie that really struck a chord in me. I imagine there are a lot of moments where Michaela and Sully realize that time has a tendency to slip by or change things, and not always for the better. I could see him retreating to this place where time stood still when he was near death; a perfect world, where he got to hear Katie's first 'Papa' and spend time with the ones he loved. I tried to seamlessly weave it back into All That Matters, so obviously the lines at the very end were directly from the script, which I don't own.
Thank you so much for reading and I hope you don't feel like it was time spent in vain. Let me know what you think.