Disclaimer: This is an original story based upon the characters of Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman. No profit will be made from this story and no copyright infringement is intended.

Author's Note: This is my first Dr. Quinn story, I hope you like it. I just got done watching Cooper vs. Quinn again and this is something that came to mind. I always thought it was fixed a little too quickly. Enjoy!

Once she had stood at the grave of the man she loved, feeling such emptiness she wanted to die with him.

Once she had said goodbye to her father, her beloved Papa, and watched him as he took his last breath.

But nothing, absolutely nothing, compared to the agony she felt now as she watched her children, her children, disappear around the bend and out of her life. She smiled and waved, absolutely determined that she would not let them see her cry, that the last sight they had of her would be a happy one. And as the carriage went out of sight and the wave of misery threatened to overwhelm her, she focused all her energy on her other child, who was holding on tightly to her shirt and trying to control his own anguish. She turned and took him in her arms, holding tightly too him.

"They'll be alright," she whispered, always the strong stoic "Dr. Mike." "We'll all be alright."

He nodded slowly and true to his nature, walked off to be alone for awhile. She watched him go, wanting to go after him, desperately needing to hold him, comfort him, and be his mother. But as he walked away, Ethan's words haunted her.

"I'm their real father, you're not their mother. "

No…she wasn't their real mother, she wasn't anybody's mother.

She felt Sully's strong arms come around her and she leaned back into him. Her cheeks could feel his tears. She had failed him too. All of her accomplishments, her school accolades, the surgeries, the lives she'd saved, it didn't matter. She had failed because she could not keep her promise to the children, and to Charlotte. She had lost Charlotte's precious babies.

"Let's go home," Sully whispered in her ear.

She shook her head, "I can't…not yet,"

"Where do you wanna go?" he asked.

She turned into him, and he hugged her tightly. "I'd like to be alone…I've got some work to do, I think it will be good for me," she said, smiling bravely.

"Michaela," he whispered, "I know how much this is tearing you up inside. You gotta let it out."

She shook her head, "I can't," she said as she walked towards the clinic, "I just can't."

She walked inside the clinic, and shut the door closing her eyes against the pain of being alone. Even after he had left, Ethan was still splintering her family. She wanted to run out to Sully and the two of them find Matthew, but as she slid down to her knees and buried her face in her hands, she felt powerless to help them. How could she help anyone, when she could barely breathe herself?

Being in the clinic wasn't helping anything. Even as she began to dust and clean, something she always did to soothe herself, the pain just got worse. She looked at the door, where she had been standing when she had first seen Brian and Colleen. She had no concept back then, how much they would come to mean to her. She walked over the operating table, where she had felt the terror of motherhood for the first time as she operated on Brian. And she thought of the room upstairs, where Charlotte had died, pleading with her to take care of the children. She hadn't understood then, had never understood really the depth of a mother's love. But then she had been in that same room later on, and made the same plea to Olive. During that terrible sickness she could remember one thing so vividly, the thing that kept her going was the children. They had already lost one mother, and she would not let them lose another. She fought against that sickness with everything she had, and she had won.

Almost unconsciously, Michaela smacked the broom she had in her hand against some containers and they shattered to the floor. She doubled over, as if in physical pain and began to sob. If only she hadn't started the adoption process, if only she hadn't worked so much, if only she had never run for mayor…dear god…the mistakes she had made. She was always the one who made the speeches, the one who fixed things. But she couldn't fix this. She couldn't convince the judge that her children belonged with her.

She started picking up the pieces of the broken jars, wiping away tears at the same time she was crying them. She suddenly felt a comforting hand on her shoulder.

"Michaela," Dorothy whispered. She hadn't even heard the door open.

Michaela turned and faced her friend, "Dorothy," she whispered. "I…I didn't know it would be this hard. I didn't know I'd feel like this."

Dorothy reached down and took her hand, "You're a mother who just lost her babies, how did you expect it to feel?"

Michaela shook her head, "I'm not their mother any more Dorothy. Maybe I never was. I mean, I loved them so…" she stopped as she struggled to gain control, "I loved them so much and they called me "ma," I called them my children, but maybe it wasn't true. Maybe it wasn't real. Maybe we were all just playing house. I couldn't let make that judge see. He gave them to him instead of me, after everything…he gave them to him because he's their parent, I'm not."

"Michaela," Dorothy said gently, pulling up her friend's chin to meet her eyes. "That's nonsense. No matter where those children are, they will always be your children. They don't have your blood, you didn't give them birth, but you've been giving them life every single day for years. They have your heart Michaela, and no matter where they are, they will always be your children."

"But…maybe Ethan was right, maybe they'll turn to Lillian and forget all about me," Michaela said sadly as she brought her hand up to her mouth.

"Michaela," Dorothy said firmly, "You are not listening to me. It's too late for that. They're a part of you and you're a part of them. Brian has your strength, your kindness and compassion. Colleen has your gift to listen and understand people. You gave them that and nobody can take that away from them, or from you."

Michaela put her head against her friend's shoulder as she began sobbing again.

Once she had been upstairs, fighting desperately to save her best friend's life, as her friend looked at her with trusting eyes and asked her to take care of her children.

Now she sat in agony, weeping into another best friend's shoulder.

"Oh Dorothy, I've lost Charlotte's babies…my babies."

To be continued!