Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman

'Burning Curiosity'

Summary: When Brian's curiosity nearly burns down the town, Sully does a bit of 'burning' of his own.

Author's Note (1): This story was inspired by a video I found on YouTube, entitled 'Sully spanks Brian', in which someone added a scene to 'His Father's Son' using video manipulation. In it, Sully is far from pleased with Brian's little 'experiment' with the magnifying glass and takes him out to the barn and spanks him.

Author's Note (2): Tag/Added Scene to episode 'His Father's Son'. I never understood why Michaela and Sully didn't have a stronger reaction to Brian nearly burning down the town…I mean, yes, skipping school and hopping aboard trains was foolish and dangerous but shouldn't they have still punished him for starting that fire? I always thought so…

Warning: This story contains a scene of disciplinary spanking.

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

Colorado Springs, Colorado 1871

It was well past supper time when the wagon pulled up to the homestead.

Dr. Michaela Quinn and her twelve year old son, Brian Cooper, disembarked from it.

Instructing her son to unhitch the horses and put them in their stalls in the barn, Michaela made her way up the stairs and into her family's home.

Her husband, Byron Sully, and her seventeen year old daughter, Colleen Cooper, were sitting at the table.

Sully had an obviously worried expression on her face. He rose the moment she entered, crossed over to her, and drew her into a hug.

"I was startin' ta get worried," he told her, gently. "Why are ya'll so late?"

Michaela sighed, as she took off her coat and hung it up.

"We had some excitement in town today—it delayed me with my patients," she told him. "I would have sent word, but I've been so busy…"

"Its okay, Ma," Colleen told her. "I took care of supper, gave Katie her bath, and put her to bed. She's upstairs sleepin'."

Michaela smiled. "Thank you, Colleen," she told her, gratefully.

"We kept some supper hot for you and Brian," Sully told her. "Ya'll hungry?"

"Matthew brought us some food from Grace's," Michaela told him, referring to their eldest son—Matthew Cooper—who was the town's sheriff.

Sully nodded. "What kind of excitement?" he asked, narrowing his gray-blue eyes.

Michaela hesitated, but then she decided he had a right to know. Brian was his son, too, after all.

"Apparently, this afternoon after school, Brian and Anthony discovered a piece of a broken glass bottle," she told him, quietly. "They remembered from one of their lessons that you could use glass to direct sunlight—to start a fire."

"Ma!" Colleen gasped. "They didn't?"

"No—at least not then," Michaela said. "Teresa caught them before they could 'experiment' any further. Unfortunately, their curiosity was a bit too much for them. Brian took one of the magnifying glasses from the clinic and showed it to Anthony. They went behind Mr. Bray's store and 'experimented' some more. This time, it worked."

"They started a fire?" Sully asked, his face darkening. "How bad?"

He knew Michaela wouldn't look so worried if it had been nothing…

"They apparently weren't expected it to swoosh up like it did," Michaela told him, closing her eyes as she remembered the terrible flames. "It took half the men in town to put it out. Luckily, they managed it before the mercantile burned to the ground."

"What happened after they put it out?" Sully asked her, his frown deepening further. He did not like this at all—not one little bit.

"Grace and Robert E. took Anthony home," Michaela told him. "I took Brian to the clinic with me."

"And?" Sully asked, raising an eyebrow. "Did you punish him?"

Michaela looked uneasy about that question.

"I…talked to him," she told him, quietly. "I explained how dangerous what he did was, how he could have been hurt, and why he must never do something like it again."

"Ma," Colleen said, gravely. "He coulda burned down the whole town!"

"I know," Michaela said, her eyes feeling with tears, "but he said he was sorry…"

"Really sorry?" Sully asked, crossing his arms over his chest. "Or just sorry they got caught?"

"That isn't fair, Sully," Michaela told him, disapprovingly. "They did the right thing when the fire got out of hand—they did tell someone rather than try to put it out themselves!"

"They shouldn't have been doin' it in the first place!" Sully growled, angrily. "Especially after bein' told once before!"

"I know," Michaela said, quietly. "But what else could I do?"

"You could have punished him," Sully told her, firmly. He reached for his jacket, intending to go out the door.

"Where are you going?" Michaela asked him, worriedly.

"Out to the barn to have a talk with Brian," Sully told her, seriously. "I ain't gonna let him get away with stuff like this, Michaela!"

"W-What are you going to do?" Michaela asked him, hesitantly.

Sully stared her full in the eyes. He knew how she felt when it came to discipline, but this time he thought she was very wrong.

"I'm gonna give him a lickin'," he told her, firmly.

Michaela's eyes widened. "A spanking?" she asked, shocked. "Sully, no, you can't!"

"Michaela, yes, I can," Sully told her, firmly. "What he did was wrong—and just talkin' about it isn't enough this time."

"He said he was sorry!" she told him, glaring.

"Was that before or after your talk with him?" Sully asked her, pointedly. "Cuz, more than likely, he just wanted you to stop 'motherin' him."

Michaela's lip trembled at that.

Deep down, she had felt Brian's 'Sorry, Ma' had been a little…well…forced and insincere but she honestly believed he wouldn't ever do something this foolish again.

"He's just going through a stage right now," she told him, reasonably. "He's acting out—I did when I was his age!"

"I did, too," Sully told her, "and I got my backside warmed for it. This ain't Boston, Michaela, and Brian ain't you. He's a boy and sometimes talkin' ain't enough to get through to a stubborn boy's head—sometimes you gotta go a different 'way'."

Michaela scowled at him. How dare he question her parenting methods!

"Since when are you such an expert on child rearing?" she asked him, glaring. "You only just became a father last year!"

The moment the words were out of her mouth, she regretted them.

Why had she said that to him?

He had been a father long before Katie had been born.

He had helped her raise Matthew, Colleen, and Brian practically from the moment their mother died and she had adopted them.

There had been more than a few times when he'd understood them a lot better than she had.

Sully's nostrils flared angrily, his gray-blue eyes hardening. He glanced at Colleen.

"Colleen," he told her, quietly yet firmly. "Why don't you go on up to bed?"

Colleen nodded. She was worried. About Brian, about her parents, about her potential beau Andrew…

She just didn't know what to do to help any of them, but maybe she could help by just getting out of the way for a little while.

"Sure thing, Pa," she said, quietly. "Night, Ma."

"Good night, Sweetheart," Michaela told her, gently. "Will you please check on Katie for me before you head to bed?"

Colleen nodded. "Sure thing," she said, and then turned to head upstairs.

Once their eldest daughter was gone, Sully turned to walk to the mantle to lean against it—lost in thought.

Michaela bit her lip. She knew she'd been wrong to say what she had. She went over to him, wrapping her arms around him.

"I'm so sorry, Sully," she told him, tears leaking from her eyes. "I had no right to say that to you. It's just been…such a long day."

Sully turned around, pulling her against his chest.

"It's okay," he told her, kissing the top of her head. "I know you didn't really mean it. Do you remember what I told you about when I came out west?"

Michaela glanced up at him, puzzled by his question. "You told you did it when you were ten," she told him, "after your mother had drowned."

Sully nodded.

"That's right," he told her, "but I was a ten year kid from New York—who'd never even been outside of the city before. I didn't know how to survive on my own. Luckily, I met Daniel."

Michaela knew he was referring to his good friend, Daniel Simons, who had visited them not too long ago.

"It was just him, his pa, and his sister," Sully told her, quietly. "They took me in, Michaela—no questions asked. His pa didn't treat me any differently than he did his own two kids. He gave me a home and a family."

Michaela smiled. "Like we did with the children," she said. "I can see now why you and Daniel are so close."

Sully nodded. "When he and I was about twelve, Brian age," he told her, gently. "We got it into our heads to fool around with his pa's guns."

Michaela's eyes widened at that. Her husband hated fire arms of any kind.

"Sully, you didn't!" she exclaimed, unintentionally echoing Colleen's sentiments a few moments ago.

Sully chuckled. "We're twelve year old boys, Michaela," he told her, "with a little too much curiosity and not enough good sense for our own good."

"W-What happened?" she asked him, curious.

"When his pa heard the shots, he came runnin' out to the barn," Sully told her, quietly. "Lucky for us, we we're both terrible shots—otherwise the milkin' cow woulda been a goner and so would his pa's prized stallion."

"I bet Daniel's father wasn't very pleased," Michaela said, quietly.

Sully snorted.

"He took one look at the pistols in our hands and the holes in the back of the barn wall and all the blood drained from his face," he told her. "I ain't ever seen a man so white before. 'Course, after that, all the blood rushed back and he turned beet red—I ain't ever seen a man that mad before, either!"

Michaela swallowed. She had a feeling she knew where this was going.

"W-What did he do?" she asked him, a sneaking suspicion creeping into her brain.

"Well, after he yelled at us for a good ten minutes or so," Sully told her, smirking. "He told me to go stand against the wall and told Daniel to bend over a hay bale. Then, he took off his belt."

Michaela gasped. "But that's…" she protested, but he clamped a hand over her mouth.

"That was just his way," Sully told her, firmly. "He never left a mark or bruise, Michaela, but he did leave a mighty strong impression. When he was done with Daniel, he sent him on into the house to our room. Then, it was my turn."

"He 'whipped' you the same way as Daniel?" Michaela asked, quietly.

"Yep," Sully told her, gently. "And believe me, once he was done with me, I never wanted to see another gun—much less touch one. But instead of sendin' me into the house, like he done Daniel, he made me sit down—somethin' I wasn't too keen on doin' at that moment, mind yaw—and had a talk with me."

"Why?" Michaela asked, curiously.

"Because playin' with the guns was my idea," Sully told her, guiltily. "I told him so before he whooped Dan—I told him not to because it had been my idea in the first place."

"What did he say to you?" Michaela could tell this story was a pleasant—if slightly embarrassing—memory for him.

He so rarely talked about his past, she wanted him to finish this story.

"He asked me what I thought the lickin' he gave us was for," Sully told him. "Bein' twelve, I assumed it was 'cuz we'd touched his guns without permission. He told me that was part of the reason, but the main part was cuz we coulda hurt ourselves or each other. And he loved us too much to let us get away with it."

"Oh, Sully," Michaela said, her eyes feeling with tears.

Sully smiled, wiping them away.

"I was mighty touched myself," he told her, gently. "I asked him if he really loved me—like he did Daniel. I wasn't his son, after all, not really. He looked at me and said, 'Sully, I couldn't love yaw anymore if yaw had come from my body'. When I look at you and Dan I don't see my son and his friend, I see my two boys—who both mean the world to me.' He said, 'You two are reachin' an age where your brains ain't gonna do a whole lotta of your thinkin' for yaw—it happens to all boys 'bout this time—and your gonna do things that yaw know is wrong just because it seems like fun at the time. As the pa, it's my job to make sure you understand that it was wrong and that your not to do it again. Sometimes, gettin' through to your head means I gotta to through your rear ends…but it ain't 'cuz I'm tryin' to be mean or anythin'. It's because I love yaw so much."

Michaela smiled. "He sounds like he was a wonderful man," she told him, gently.

"He was," Sully told her. "He was the best pa—or like one—a boy coulda had. If I am even half the pa he was to our kids…well…" He shrugged, blushing.

Michaela smiled, reaching up to kiss him. "You already are," she told him, sincerely. "And you are right—Brian should be punished."

Sully nodded. "I still aim to give him a lickin'," he told her, firmly.

"I…I know," Michaela said, swallowing. "Go on. Do what you feel is best for our son."

Sully bent down to kiss her, showing her how much he appreciated her support.

"We'll be in a bit," he promised her. With that, he strolled past her and out the door.

Michaela watched him go, and then sank into her favorite chair beside the fire.

She hoped Sully was able to get through to Brian—no matter what method he used.

If his current behavior continued…she wouldn't know what to expect from him next.

*****DQMW*****

Sully did not like what he was about to do. In fact, it plum near broke his heart.

He and Brian had always shared a special [deep] bond, and he feared that what he was going to have to do to curb the boy's misbehavior was going to cause that bond to sever…

He wouldn't know what to do if he ever saw a look of hatred in his boy's eyes directed towards him.

He knew Brian's current behavior stemmed from the letter he'd received from his biological father: Ethan Cooper.

Brian had talked to him about maybe writing Ethan, and he had encouraged it simply because he knew how much the boy longed to connect with the man.

Ethan's reply, however, made his blood boil over. He might as well have been writing to a business associate rather than his own flesh and blood son!

What kind of a man didn't even bother to say 'I love you' or 'I miss you' or even 'I think about you' to their own kid?

Sully snorted. The kind of man who wasn't really a man at all, that's who!

He knew Brian had to be very confused right now. He didn't know where he came from, at least he thought he didn't, and he was longing to truly belong somewhere.

The fact that he and Michaela now had a flesh and blood child didn't help matters either, he reckoned.

Not that Brian didn't love Katie, or was truly jealous of her, but it still had to make him think: do they really love me as much as her? How could they? She's really theirs and I'm not.

Sully knew that feeling all too well. He'd felt the same things toward Daniel's pa, after all.

Hopefully, he could put his boy's fears to rest once and for all…along with showing him his displeasure at what he'd done.

Reaching the barn door, he stopped. Taking a deep breath, he opened the door and stepped inside.

Brian was just finishing up with the horses, putting fresh hay into their stalls, as he entered.

He glanced up at him, and noticed the frown upon his face. He put the pitchfork down, and stepped out into the middle of the barn.

They stared at each other for a long moment, before Brian's gaze shifted to the floor—a guilty look on his young face.

Sully resolve tightened, as images of the boy in front of him engulfed in flames filled his mind's eye, and he knew his course of action was firmly set.

If Brian hated him for it afterwards….well, then, he'd have to deal with that—but he didn't really think he had too much to worry about.

Crossing his arms over his chest, Sully glared down at his boy—his son.

"Ma told'cha," Brian finally spoke, glancing up at him. "Didn't she?"

"Yep," Sully said, simply. "I just want to know one thing, Brian? Why? Why, after all the times I told'cha you never play around with fire?"

"You don't understand!" Brian told him, sullenly. "We weren't playin'—we were just curious!"

"Well bein' 'just curious' nearly got you killed," Sully told him, sternly. "What you and Anthony done was not only dangerous, it was foolish and irresponsible!"

"I ain't some dumb little kid!" Brian told him, heatedly. "We knew what we was doin'—mostly…"

"You no more knew what you was doin' then I know how to fly!" Sully exclaimed, his gray-blue eyes becoming hard as stones.

"Shut up!" Brian growled at him, tears welling in his eyes. "Just shut up already! Ma's already lectured me! You don't gotta!"

"That's good," Sully told him, firmly. "Cuz I wasn't aimin' to lecture."

Brian stilled. Something in Sully voice made him pause. He didn't like the sound of it. "What do yaw mean?" he asked, petulantly.

"I mean I didn't come out to talk, your Ma's done enough of that already," Sully told him. "I come out here to punish yaw."

"P-Punish me?" Brian asked, wide-eyed. Sully had never punished him before!

Sully nodded, firmly. He walked over to where a couple of hay stacks sat. He pointed to the one on top.

"I'm goin' to give you lickin', Brian," he told him, sternly. "I want'cha to come over here and bend over this hay stack."

Brian's eyes had gone very wide upon hearing that.

His friends at school had told him about the times their Pa had taken them out to the barn to 'lick 'em' and he had been very glad his Ma didn't approve of that.

He had always thought Sully didn't either. Apparently, he was wrong—very wrong.

He shook his head. "Y-Yaw can't!" he exclaimed. "I'm too old for that!"

Sully snorted. "No, you ain't," he told him, firmly. "Now, c'mon, let's get this over with."

Brian didn't move. "You ain't my pa, Sully," he told him, glaring. "Ya ain't got no right!"

"I got every right, and your Ma agrees with me," Sully told him. "What you and Anthony did was wrong and you shouldn't have done it—that's all there is to it. Now, do what I say."

Brian still didn't move.

Sully's eyes hardened even more. His eyes narrowed.

"I ain't gonna tell you again, Brian," he said, his voice deep and ominous. "If I gotta bring you over here, I'm gonna be yankin' your britches down for it. Understand?"

Brian swallowed, feeling tears well up in his eyes. Why, oh why, did they have to find that stupid piece of broken bottle?

He slowly made his way over to Sully and the haystacks. He bit his lip. He'd never been in this situation before—he didn't know quite what to do.

He vaguely remembered his real ma, Charlotte Cooper, spanking him once when he was very little—but this was different…somehow…from that.

"Go on," Sully told him, his voice gentler yet still firm. "Bend over, son."

Placing a hand onto his back, he guided him down until his hands touched the haystack.

Keeping that hand gently pressed into his back, as he would no doubt buck around a bit, he raised his other hand back.

He had known he was only going to use his hand—he didn't think he could ever use Daniel's pa's approach, no matter what one of his kids did.

He still intended to leave an impression, never the less.

Bringing his hand down, it landed with a resounding smack right in the middle of the seat of Brian's britches.

Brian yelped and involuntarily jumped as that first smack cause his bottom to sting. He swallowed. He hoped this didn't last too long…

Again and again, Sully brought his hand down across that upturned seat—covering every square inch of it with his hard, calloused palm.

Brian squirmed, hissed, and yelped in random succession with every swat. His bottom was burning fiercely.

And he had thought the flames from that fire he and Anthony had started were hot—but even they didn't compare to burning in his rear end at the moment.

Guilt over what they had done, plus yelling at Sully the way he had, combined with those sharp smacks to his backside all combined to make a very contrite twelve year old.

Tears welled in his eyes, and more than a few leaked out, but it wasn't until Sully's aim shifted to where his buttocks and thighs met—the very spot he sat on—that got he found his voice.

"Ow! Ah, Sully! It hurts!" he groaned and cried at the same time. "Stop! I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I won't ever do nothin' like it again! I swear!"

Sully paused hi hand in mid-air.

He'd given Brian a good twenty swats—five of those on his sit spot—and he knew the boy's bottom must be rather…warm…by now.

Deciding that the boy had reached his limit, he gently lifted him up by the shoulders and turned him to face him.

Kneeling down, he stared him in the eyes. Brian was crying, wiping at the tears.

"Why, Sully?" he asked him, heartbrokenly. "Why'd yaw do that?"

Tears forming in his own eyes, Sully reached up and wiped at his tears.

"Cuz," he told him, softly. "I am your pa, Brian."

Brian blinked at him. "W-What?" he asked, wide-eyed.

Sully smiled at him. "I'm your pa," he told him, firmly, "and I love yaw more than anythin'. If somethin' had happened to yaw today…I'd never forgive myself."

"B-But it wasn't your fault," Brian said, very confused. "Me and Anthony was the ones that started the fire. You wasn't even there!"

"I know," Sully told him, quietly. "That's why I wouldn't forgive myself—'cuz I wasn't there to keep my boy safe."

"Your boy?" Brian asked him, awed. "You mean it?"

"Yep, I really, truly do," Sully told him, standing up. "You and Matthew are my boys just like Colleen and Katie are my girls. I love ya'll all the same, and nothin'—and nobody—is ever gonna change that."

Brian swallowed, tears forming in his eyes again. These, however, had nothing whatsoever to do with his stinging bottom.

"I-I love you, too," he said, wrapping his arms around Sully's waist. "P-Pa."

Sully returned the embrace wholeheartedly, simply enjoying the feel of his boy in his arms.

"Brian," he said, after a moment, "do you understand why I gave you that lickin'?"

He sat down on the haystack, so that they were now at eye level with each other.

"Because what we did was wrong," Brian answered him, "and yaw don't want me to get hurt."

Sully nodded.

"And also because I love yaw," he told him, smiling. "Your gettin' to an age where sometimes 'talking' ain't gonna be enough. I know, in the past, that's all your ma and I really had to do with you kids…but just like tonight, we might have to take another trip to the barn someday."

"But why, Pa?" Brian asked, puzzled.

"Because sometimes to get through to this," Sully told him, tapping him on the head, "I'm probably gonna have to go through this." He reached back to pat his [sore] bottom.

Brian winced, but nodded. "I think I understand," he told him, grinning. "I can be pretty stubborn sometimes."

"I was too when I was your age," Sully told him, "but that's okay. A little stubbornness is a good thing. Too much…and well…"

"I know, I know," Brian said, reaching back to rub.

Sully chuckled, reaching out to ruffle his hair.

"One more thing, son," he told him, firmly. "If you ever do something like this again—not only will we be comin' out here to the barn, but your also gonna lose your privileges for a month, too. That's includes fishin' with friends and workin' at the Gazette."

"A whole month!" Brian protested, loudly. "Ah, Pa!"

Sully gave him a stern look. "Be glad I ain't taken 'em from you this time," he told him, firmly. "This is your only warnin'. Understand?"

Brian sighed, but nodded. "Yes, Sir," he told him, quietly. "I understand, Pa."

"Good," Sully said, standing up. "C'mon, let's get in the house before your ma thinks I've killed yaw!"

Brian chuckled at that, and together the two of them made their way from the barn.

It felt really good to have a pa again—even if his bottom wouldn't agree with him at the moment.

*****DQMW*****

Michaela glanced at the clock again, biting her lip. They had been out there an awfully long time.

She hoped Sully wasn't being too rough on Brian…

Though she herself disagreed with corporal punishment, she knew Sully's way was not her way—and that now that they were married they needed to show support for each other in all things…especially where their children were concerned.

Just then, the front door opened and her husband and son walked through it. She stood up, coming over to them.

Brian, after he had hung up his coat, turned toward her. She smiled and held out her arms to him.

He smiled back, coming and wrapping his arms around her. "I'm sorry, Ma," he told her, sounding very sincere this time. "I really am."

"I know, Sweetheart," she told him, gently. "I know." She rubbed her fingers through his air.

Even thought Katie was now the baby of the family, Brian would always be her 'baby boy' despite the fact he had come to her as an eight year old.

"Son," Sully said, tapping Brian on the shoulder. "Why don't you go on up to bed? It's late and you've got school tomorrow."

Brian released her and nodded. "Sure thing, Pa," he told him. "Night." He went and gave him a tight hug, too.

He then started to go up the stairs. "Brian," Michaela called after him, causing him to turn back around.

"Yeah, Ma?" he asked her, curiously.

"Try sleeping on your stomach," she advised him, gently. "It'll help."

Brian blushed, reaching back to rub his bottom. "Thanks, Ma," he told her, "I will." With that, he turned and headed up to his room.

Michaela felt arms wrap around her and she leaned back against Sully strong frame.

"He'll be all right now, I think," Sully told her, gently. "He now knows where he stands. That's real important to a boy his age."

She nodded, smiling. "You really are a wonderful father, Sully," she told him, gently. "Don't ever doubt that."

"I won't," he promised her, nuzzling her hair. "Right now, though, I think I'd rather be a wonderful husband."

"Oh?" Michaela asked, grinning. "How do you plan to do that?"

Sully grinned mischievously. "Like this," he told her, scooping her up into his arms.

"Bryon Ezra Sully!" she exclaimed, giggling. "Put me down!"

"Nope," he told her, heading for the stairs. "I told'cha. I'm bein' a wonderful husband and carryin' my beautiful wife up to bed."

"And once you have her there?" she asked him, coyly.

"Then," he told her, nuzzling her neck. "I plan on being a really wonderful husband."

"I think," she told him, closing her eyes. "I like the sound of that."

He chuckled, as he opened their bedroom door. "You know what?"

"What?" she asked him, as he deposited her onto their bed.

"I do, too…"

The End.

(AN: I hope ya'll enjoyed it. Thanks.)