Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman

'A Guiding Hand: Consequences of a Crush'

Summary: When Colleen puts her own life in danger, Sully not only rescues her but he also shows her how much he really cares.

Author's Note (1): While I know Sully disapproved of beatings and abuse, I do feel he would/should have offered a 'guiding hand' to the children when they needed it.

Author's Note (2): Loosely based on 'Heroes'. Colleen is thirteen.

Warning: This story contains a scene of disciplinary spanking.

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. I just wrote this story for entertainment.

Colleen Cooper was a sensible—smart—girl. She very rarely did anything troubling or wrong.

The girls in town whispered behind her back, she knew, calling her a 'goody-too-shoes' and 'book worm'.

The boys in town largely ignored her—intimidated by the fact that she was so much smarter than they were.

And also by the fact that she dreamed of becoming a doctor someday just like her adopted mother, Michaela Quinn.

She didn't care, though. She didn't need boys—she had something much better.

She had Sully.

He had saved her from a runaway wagon the other day, and that had been when she knew.

He loved her.

She had always thought it was Dr. Mike he wanted to see when he was at the homestead, but now she believed it was, in fact, her.

She'd gone with him to the Cheyenne reservation and he had shared his blanket with her—something Cloud Dancing's wife, Snow Bird, had said meant he liked her.

He had let her hold him tightly as they rode back to town, wrapping her arms around his strong well-muscled body.

It made her positively giddy just thinking about him!

He was rugged and handsome and…well, older

He had experience and wisdom and he knew things—things none of the boys in town could ever hope to learn.

He was the best man in the entire world!

She had asked Dr. Mike point blank if she was in love with him and she had said only that she admired and respected him.

That meant there was nothing more between them than friendship—which meant she [Colleen] had a chance with him.

But she had needed to be sure—she needed to know he would do anything for her.

That was when she had come up with this idea.

She'd go 'missing' for a while and Sully would come and rescue her.

She'd even left a note to make certain he'd know where to start looking.

Her little brother, Brian, had tried to tag along with her but she had quickly shooed him away.

This was private—between her and Sully only.

Reaching the old mine, she stepped inside. "Sure is chilly," she said to herself. "Good thing I remembered to bring a blanket."

She hadn't been sure just how long she'd need to be 'missing' before anybody noticed—a few hours at least, she reckoned—so she had brought a blanket, some matches to make a fire in case it got dark while she was waiting, a sandwich and some cookies, a book, and her journal to write in.

Laying the blanket on the ground so she didn't get her dress dirty—she wanted to look her best for Sully when he found her—she sat down and began reading.

A couple of hours passed, it started to get even chillier in the mine, so she decided to go ahead and build a fire.

Luckily, Sully had taught them all the proper way of building a fire so she gathered some stones and twigs and in no time at all she had a pretty decent fire going.

It warmed the mine considerably.

Outside, it was getting dark and there was the distinct sound of thunder in the distance.

She could see that the wind had started to pick up, which probably meant a storm was brewing.

She bit her lip.

"Please, Sully," she whispered to herself. "Find me soon…"

*****DQMW*****

Byron Sully headed for his old homestead, wanting to check on Michaela and the kids before the storm that was brewing hit.

Just as he reached the door, however, it was thrown open and Dr. Mike stood there—a worried and anxious look upon her face.

"What's wrong?" he asked her, frowning.

"It's Colleen," Michaela told him, obviously fretting. "She was supposed to meet me at the clinic after school but she never did. When I got home, Brian said she went into the woods—saying she'd be back by supper. She hasn't made it back yet."

Sully glanced up at the darkening clouds, his frown deepening.

"This storm is gonna hit any minute," he told her. "I'd best go see if I can find her…"

"This isn't like her, Sully," Michaela told him, worriedly. "She's usually so sensible…and responsible."

"I know," Sully said, "but I'm sure she's all right—she probably just wanted to be alone for awhile. I'll bring her home."

Michaela nodded, grateful to him. "Thank you, Sully," she told him, gently.

He smiled, nodding. "I love her, too," he reminded her, and then started off behind the homestead with Wolf in tow.

"Sully, wait up!" Sully turned back around to find Brian racing toward him.

"Brian, you get back inside with your ma," he told him, firmly. "A storm's comin'!"

"I just wanted to tell yaw that Colleen looked like she was headin' for that ole mine," Brian told him, earnestly.

Sully frowned upon hearing that. That mine was dangerous and no place for kids…

Why would Colleen go there?

There were plenty of other spots that were better suited for reading—which is what he assumed she was doing.

"Okay, Brian," Sully told him, ruffling his hair. "Thanks for tellin' me. Now, you get back inside and stay there. Yaw hear me?"

The boy nodded. "You gonna stay for supper, ain'cha?" he asked him, hopefully.

"I reckon so," Sully said, "and if this storm hits when I think it's gonna, I might be stayin' all night. Now, I got to go get your sister. Now, scoot!"

Brian gave him a hug, and then turned to scamper back into the homestead.

Sully then headed into the woods behind the homestead—heading for the abandoned mine that was up there.

He couldn't put his finger on it, but something didn't feel right about this.

Thunder boomed in the distance and he glanced over his shoulder to see the dark clouds fast approaching.

"C'mon, boy," he said to Wolf. "Let's hurry." He began jogging up the steep incline, Wolf trotting beside him.

As he neared the mine, he called out, "Colleen! You in there? It's Sully!"

Reaching the entrance of the mine, he was a bit taken back when Colleen dashed from the mine and wrapped her arms tightly around her.

Only thing was…she didn't seem all that afraid.

"Oh, Sully!" Colleen cried, looking at him with a big smile on his face. "I knew you'd come! I knew you cared!"

"Course, I care," Sully told her, disentangling himself from her. "What were you thinkin' Colleen? This mine ain't safe…"

"But it was the perfect place," Colleen said, smiling brightly. "I knew if you thought I was in danger you'd come for me…and you did!"

Sully frowned at that. What could she mean by that?

He started to ask, but at that moment the sky decided to open up.

Rain began pelting down in great big droplets. Swearing silently, Sully grabbed Colleen's hand and dashed back into the entrance.

"Dang it," he said, sighing. "Looks like we'll just have to wait the storm out here…"

"That's okay," Colleen told him, wrapping her arms around his arm and leaning her head against it. "It's kinda cozy in here, don'tcha think?"

"Huh?" Sully said, raising an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"

"Come look," Colleen told him, tugging on his arm to lead him back a bit into the mine.

A blanket sat beside a small fire. "What's this?" he asked her, curiously.

"Well, I didn't know how long it would take you to find me," Colleen told him, "so I brought a blanket and some matches—just in case I had to stay here all night; which I would have done, too. I'd have waited forever for you, Sully!"

Sully swallowed, his eyes widening as he realized something. "You planned this?" he asked her, glaring. "You went missin' on purpose?"

"Of course," Colleen told him, clearly not understanding why he was getting riled up. "How else were you going to come rescue you?"

Sully's eyes narrowed.

"Come rescue you!" he all but hollered at her. "Colleen! What if there had been a cave in or somethin'? You could have been badly hurt…or worse!"

"But there wasn't," Colleen told him, frowning. "I knew you'd come before anything bad happened! And you did!"

Sully couldn't believe what he was hearing. He shook his head in disbelief.

"Let me get this straight," he told her, crossing his arms over his chest. "You skipped out on helping your ma at the clinic, didn't tell her where you was goin', and then came up here where it was dangerous on purpose!"

Colleen rolled her eyes at him. "Oh, Sully, Dr. Mike just don't understand," she told him, sighing a put-upon sigh. "She don't know what's between me and you!"

"What's between us? What do yaw—?" As realization of what was going on hit him, Sully's eyes widened and a silent 'O' escaped his lips.

He'd seen that same moony eyed look on some of the girls in town—as well as on more than a few in the Cheyenne village—but he had never thought that Colleen would ever

Especially over him!

Well, he was just going to have to nip this is the bud right here and now.

Not that he didn't care about her, of course—in fact, he loved her like she was his own daughter!

And that, in lay, the problem.

She was seein' him as a man—but all he saw her were through the eyes of a pa.

His own baby girl, Hannah, had died shortly after she was born, but if she had lived and she had ever done something like this he would have…

His blue eyes hardened. "I think we need to have us a talk, young lady," he told her, sternly.

Colleen stepped back, a confused look on her face.

"W-What's there to talk about?" she asked him, curiously. Sully had never looked at her like that before.

Sully glanced around, seeing what he needed. Grabbing Colleen's wrist, he pulled her gently over to where some old timbers lay and then sat himself down on them.

Sully hated what he was about to do, but he had a feeling it was going to be the only thing that would shake the love-struck girl outta of her 'crush' for him.

Not to mention teach her a lesson about risking her life so foolishly!

Giving her wrist a gentle yank, he pulled down to lay across his lap.

"You broke your promise to your ma," Sully told her, firmly. "You skipped out on your chores, and you put yourself in harm's way, Colleen. I ain't about to just let yaw get away with doin' all that!"

With that, he raised his hand back and brought it down across her skirt-clad backside.

"Ow!" Colleen gasped, turning her head to look at him in surprise. "Sully! What are you doin'?"

"Spankin' yaw," Sully told her, firmly. "You done wrong, young lady, and I aim to see you see that!"

Colleen cried again as his hand fell upon her bottom again and again.

"NO!" she cried. "This wasn't supposed to be this way! I thought you cared! I thought you loved me!"

Sully swallowed, having to steal himself not to let her words get to him.

"I do care, Colleen," he told her, continuing the whooping. "And I love you like you was my own daughter! That's why I'm doin' this!"

"Daughter?" Colleen exclaimed, shaking her head in disbelief. It wasn't supposed to be this way! He was supposed to see her as a woman, not a little girl!

"That's right," Sully told her, firmly. "I couldn't love yaw any more than if were my own flesh and blood."

With that, he felt there'd been enough talking. He'd let his hand do the rest.

His resolve hardening, determined to get this lesson across to her, he increased his strength a little so that his swats would be felt through her layer of skirt, petticoats, and bloomers.

Colleen had started to cry—her heart was breaking and her bottom was on fire—but she had yet to show any sign of remorse.

As the burning sensation in her bottom increased, so did her tears—as did the feeling of shame that she had driven Sully to react in such a personal—parental—way.

Finally, she couldn't take anymore.

"I'm sorry!" she cried out, a sob bubbling up from her chest. "I'm sorry, Sully! I'm sorry!"

Sully halted the spanking then and there—knowing she'd reached the point she needed to be at to understand her actions had been wrong.

Lifting her up off his knee, he then sat her back down upon it and pulled her close.

As she continued to sob and cry into his neck, he stroked her hair and gently rocked her as if she truly were a very small child.

He had never gotten to do this with his own little girl—so he was savoring the closeness between them.

"Shhh," he whispered to her. "I got yaw, Colleen. I'm sorry I had to do that, but what yaw did was dangerous and foolish, darlin'."

She simply nodded her head into his neck, her tears and sobs increasing.

For a long time, she sat on his lap until she finally cried herself to sleep.

Sully picked her up and carried her over by the fire and sat her down. He then wrapped the blanket around her.

Sitting down beside her, he gently pulled her so that her head was resting on is lap.

Glancing outside, he saw that the storm was still raging. He sighed.

It looked like they were going to be here all night.

That was when he noticed her journal and pencil.

Quickly tearing an empty page from it, he wrote a note to Michaela.

He let her know he'd found Colleen, that she was safe, but that it would probably be in the morning before they made it back to the homestead.

"C'mere, boy," he said to Wolf, beckoning the canine over to him. "Take this to Dr. Mike."

He tied the note around the wolf's neck and then sent him off—knowing he'd go immediately to the homestead.

At least now Michaela wouldn't be fretting all night. Oh, he knew she'd still worry…but at least she wouldn't be tempted to come and find 'em.

Sighing, as he leaned back against the wall of the mine, he glanced down at the sleeping girl in his lap.

He reached out and began stroking her hair, gently, and then began to hum a song Abigail had sang while she was pregnant and had sat in the rocking chair, rubbing her swollen stomach.

Bending down, he placed a gentle kiss on the top of Colleen's head.

"Sweet dreams, princess," he whispered to her, quietly. "I won't let anything bad ever happen to you. I promise."

He hadn't been able to keep that promise with Hannah, but he was going to make darn certain he kept it with Colleen—and any future daughters he might have someday.

*****DQMW*****

When Colleen woke up, it was morning.

The fire had gone out, but she was still nice and warm, wrapped in the blanket.

Blinking, she glanced around. Sully was standing at the entrance of the man—gazing out at the rising sun.

The storm had passed and from what she could see it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day.

Sitting up, she winced as she felt the ache in her bottom.

Her cheeks reddened in embarrassment, remembering the spanking she had received the night before at the hand of the rugged mountain man.

She still couldn't quite believe he'd actually done it.

Sully had always been so gentle and kind—he never yelled at either her or the boys—and had always let Dr. Mike handle stuff whenever they were fussing or fighting with each other.

She had no idea he saw her as a daughter.

A part of her, the teenage girl part, was devastated that was all he saw her as, but the other part, the little girl part, was actually rather…happy.

Her own pa, Ethan Cooper, had abandoned them when she was really little—seven or eight—and even before that he had never been around much that she could remember.

She'd never had someone hold her gently, yet firmly, stroking her hair and holding her close.

Oh, sure, both her Ma's had—Charlotte when she was little and Dr. Mike now whenever she was upset—but it wasn't quite the same.

Getting up, she crossed over to the entrance to stand beside him. He glanced at her.

"Mornin'," Sully said, gently.

Blushing again, she glanced down at the ground. "Mornin'," she said, hesitantly.

He reached under chin and lifted it, so that she was staring into his deep, blue eyes.

Last night, as he realized what she'd done, those eyes had been as hard as stone...

But this morning they were as kind and gentle as the sky was now that the storm had passed.

She knew he wasn't angry with her anymore—and she was glad.

The spanking had hurt, as had finding out he didn't love her like she thought she had loved him, but what had hurt even more was hearing the disappointment in his voice.

She never wanted to hear that sad tone in his words or see that disapproving expression directed at her ever again.

"You okay?" he asked her, gently.

She nodded. "Yeah," she told him, shrugging. "A little sore…" She reached back to rub her bottom, gently.

Sully chuckled. "I reckon that'll remind yaw not to ever do somethin' like this again," he told her, firmly.

"Yeah," she agreed, wryly. "I don't know what I was thinkin'…"

"You weren't," he told her, gently. "You were feelin'…and there's not a thing wrong with that."

"'Cept what I was feelin' wasn't real," Colleen told him, glancing away from him.

"I wouldn't say that," Sully told her, gently. "More like…it was in the wrong place."

"Real wrong," Colleen sniffed, feeling tears well up in her eyes. "I feel so foolish!"

"You shouldn't," Sully told her, reaching out to turn her around to face him. "Lovin' somebody is never wrong, Colleen. You're a good girl—yaw just needed a little bit of a guidin' hand last night, that's all."

She blushed. "Do you really…love me, Sully?" she asked him, staring into his eyes. "Even if is only like a pa?"

Sully smiled at him. "Like I told yaw last night," he told her. "I couldn't love yaw any more even if yaw were my flesh and blood."

Colleen smiled. "I, uh, I feel the same way," she told him. "I…realize now that I love yaw like a daughter to a pa, too."

Sully smiled at that. "C'mere," he told her, gently pulling her to him in a tight embrace. He kissed the top of her head. "That means a lot, darlin'…"

She wrapped her arms around him and squeezed tightly.

After a couple of moments, she pulled back and looked at him. "Do you ever think a boy will like like me?" she asked him, curiously.

He nodded. "I don't think it, darlin', I know it," he told her. "Someday, your gonna have boys lining up to court yaw."

"Really?" she asked him, hopefully. "Yaw really think so?"

"I do," he told her, and then smirked wryly. "Course, I reckon I'm just gonna have to be waitin' when they do…so's I can have a talk with 'em and all."

She smiled at that. She could just picture him sitting on the front porch of the homestead, leaned back in a chair with his foot propped up, as a boy in a buggy pulled up.

"I bet ya'll be sharpenin' your tomahawk while you do it," she said, sighing. "And Matthew'll be cleanin' his gun and even Brian will probably have his stupid sling-shot out…"

Sully chuckled at that. "Reckon the boy'll know he'd best treat yaw with respect then, won't he?" he said, smirking.

She laughed. "If he don't go runnin' for the hills first," she told him, shaking her head.

"Nah, that won't happen," he assured her, "cuz then I'd just have to go and drag him back…and that wouldn't be a bit pretty!"

Colleen was laughing so hard by then that her side had started to hurt.

"Now there's a sound I never get tired of hearin'," Sully told her, reaching out to rub a finger down her nose. "You have a mighty pretty laugh, Colleen."

She smiled at that. "Thank you, Sully," she told him, gently.

"I reckon we'd best be getting back to the homestead," he told her, quietly. "Your ma will be mighty glad to see yaw by now, I bet."

Colleen bit her lip. "Are you gonna tell her what I did?" she asked him, gently.

"Nope," Sully said, shaking his head.

She sighed with relief…

"Yaw gonna do that," he told her, firmly. "After yaw apologize, a'course."

...that was short lived.

She bit her lip, glancing at him. "Can't we keep it just between us?" she asked him, hopefully.

He looked down at her, staring into her eyes.

She knew instinctively the look he gave her was one that said 'Nope, and if yaw keep arguin' about it we can have another 'talk' if we need to'.

She sighed. "I'll tell her," she promised. "Do…Do you think she'll be very mad?"

"I think she'll be glad your home safe and sound," Sully told her, honestly. "Go on and get yourself."

She nodded and retrieved her blanket, journal, and book.

"Ready?" he asked her, as she rejoined him.

She nodded. "As I'll ever be," she told him, sighing.

Chuckling, he wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Let's go home, then," he said, guiding her gently out of the mine.

Leaning her head against his arm as she walked, Colleen couldn't help but think how lucky she truly was.

She had a wonderful mother, two not-as-annoying-as-they-could-have-been brothers, and…Sully.

Who was best man—Pa—a girl could have.

And he was all hers.

The End.

(AN: I was a bit out of my element with this story, being a guy. I hope you liked it anyway. Thanks.)