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Family and Responsibilities

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" Family and Responsibilities "

It had been an exhausting week for Michaela, but holding Brian in her arms was all that she had hoped for. The surgery to remove the pressure on his brain had been overwhelming, but above all she knew that she had to perform the duties that were bestowed upon her when she became a doctor. She had studied charts and diagrams and obsessively read over the procedure in her medical journals and textbooks. Had she really just performed such a risky procedure on her own son? Michaela had to remove all feelings from the operation she had performed, knowing that her emotions had gotten the better of her as she had stood in the hallway of the clinic with Sully, she knew she had to stay focused. Sully, she paused in thought, she had been so angry with him. Deep in her heart she knew it was an accident, but the frustration in being unsure of herself had come to the surface as she lashed out at everyone around her. She wanted to confront him, to make someone as uncomfortable as she had become, but when he had apologized and talked her through the feelings she couldn't express on her own, she realized that she needed him now more than ever. The feelings were real, and she decided right there that Sully or any other family member would not be helping in the operation room. She considered him family now, knowing he had not made that commitment to her, but the love he had for the children was as plain as day, and the support that he had given her, his confidence that she was the skilled surgeon that Brian needed, was enough to commit to him. He had once again been a rock for her. The feelings were strange, she had been so independent, relying only on herself for so long.

He was beside her now, relieved that Brian was going to recover. In his heart he knew that Brian was like a son to him and he cared very much for the children that Michaela had been raising, but he was Brian's hero and that demanded a level of responsibility that he had not been fully accepting. His feelings for Michaela ran deep but the pain of losing Abigail and his daughter still had a grip on his heart. Now he had almost lost Brian. But she had called him family, a part of their lives, a part of her life. The admission was made, she cared that much to save him from the pain of witnessing tragedy if things were to go wrong. No, it was all on her shoulders, and there was nothing he could do but wait. He had preoccupied his time with building the school with the rest of the townsfolk, and when the surgery was over, they would wait again. He didn't care that he had to sleep on the floor, to be near her in this time of uncertainty had been comfort for them both. When he had heard her rush out of the room and go down the steps calling Brian's name, he jumped up from his sleeping area on the floor, quickly noticing that Brian was also gone. He didn't know what had happened, maybe something was wrong with Brian, maybe she had taken him from the room to spare the rest of the family. Maybe it was just too much pressure and she couldn't stand the thought of telling them that Brian may never be the same. He woke Matthew and Colleen so they could assist if necessary. He hurried down the steps, and as he rounded the corner to look out toward the church, he saw them. Michaela made her way to the bridge and crouched down beside Brian who had been walking on his own. He hoped this was a good sign, and when he finally reached them, he knew Brian was okay when he turned and said, "Hey Sully." And now here he was beside her, she gently, but reassuringly held Brian in her arms, and Sully felt great relief as he looked into her eyes and placed his arm around them.

Colleen and Matthew quickly followed, they were elated that Brian was okay. Michaela handed Brian over to Matthew and gave them instructions for Brian to follow for the day. As much as she wanted to care for him, she was exhausted and the stress had been great. Relief gave way to the emotional burden of it all. As she watched the kids return to the clinic, she knew that Colleen would give Brian the proper care. As they reached the door, she turned all the way around. She looked across the bridge at the schoolhouse and then the church. As she found the graveyard in her view Sully slowly walked to her side trying to gauge her emotions. When their eyes locked, she resisted the emotions that wanted to show on her face, but they did show, and Sully was ready as an emotional storm came rushing in. Michaela had never felt such relief and devastation at one time. The tears formed and trickled down her face in an instant, and she fell into his arms and clung to his body. She was trying so hard to be strong in public. Sully wanted privacy for Dr. Mike, he knew none of the townsfolk would think any less of her for being so upset, but for her own dignity and to be able to fully release her emotions, she would need a quiet place of comfort. Michaela could feel his strong arms embrace her fragility as she collapsed into them. He picked her up and carried her to the wagon, where he helped her to the seat and climbed up beside her. She leaned her head against his chest and cried as they drove away.

When they had left town the tears began to fall even faster and by the time they neared the homestead, her sobs had turned into a full breakdown. His shirt was soaked with her tears. As her body shook, he jumped down from the wagon and took her into his arms. She was trembling and he needed to calm her down before things got worse. "Michaela...Michaela please calm down," he asked again and a again, but she continued on. Sully was at his wits end trying to calm her down and he decided it had to stop. If she continued on, it would surely lead to a headache and feeling sick. As he carried her into the homestead, he turned around and closed the door with his foot. Then he softly let go of her legs and as her feet touched the floor, he pressed her up against the door, bodies collided, and he kissed her with everything he had. Sully had never kissed her like that before and she immediately stopped crying and kissed him back.

The two broke apart and stared into each other's eyes. "Sully, I was so scared performing that operation on Brian. I thought I had lost him. I can't imagine losing him because of my own shortcomings," She started to ramble on, but Sully interrupted her, "Michaela, you didn't lose him and he's going to be ok, and you are the bravest, most talented woman I have ever known." he looked deep into her eyes. "I only wish you had let me be there with you, but I understand why you spared me and Colleen from being involved." Michaela jumped in, "Sully, I couldn't have you there, I couldn't let any family close to Brian in this case." That was the second time she had included him in the mentioning of family and he stopped her. "Michaela, I love Brian like he is my own son, but I'm not family." She interrupted him again, "Yes you are Sully, you would do anything for Brian, or any of the children. I can't pretend that you don't mean anything to them, that you don't mean anything to…" she stopped her sentence and dropped her head as she cast her eyes to the floor. Suddenly looking into his eyes became uncomfortable. Sully, reached up with his hand and using his index finger lifted her chin so she was looking right into his eyes again. "I love you Michaela Quinn" He had said it, and this time the tears that flowed we're tears of joy. In the midst of all the stress he knew he had to confess his love for her, for everything that she was and is, he couldn't hold back and as he took her into his arms again she whispered, "I love you too, Byron Sully." This time his kiss was full of gentle, repressed passion and his hands slowly caressed the sides of her waist. His lips caressed hers and his tongue begged for entrance, which she allowed. He was so loving and she wished their kiss would never end but the need for oxygen arose and the two slowly pulled apart.

He reached up and wiped the tears from her face, his thumb gently caressing her cheek. "Michaela, I think you should rest and if you want, I'll stay with you, I can sleep on the floor or in the chair over there." Michaela did want him to stay, she wanted him to take her in his arms and love her, but she knew it wouldn't be proper. Even being alone like this wasn't proper, but she nodded her head. As they split apart Sully longed to hold her again but he knew Michaela was a proper lady and he didn't want to cross any lines with her. She removed her shoes but decided to stay dressed even though Sully had seen her in her nightgown before. He found himself wanting to be close to her so he picked the location in the chair, opposed to the location on the floor. Picking it up, he placed the chair near the bed. As Michaela approached the bed she passed in front of Sully. Her heart pounding, she stopped with her back to him. "Sully, will you hold me," her voice was trembling. His arms would be such a comfort to her, but it wasn't what she really wanted to say, she took a deep breath. "Will you make love to me?" She hadn't said it, had she? "Michaela," he stood from the chair and moved behind her, "you should know I want you more than anything, but you would regret this." She paused and turned her head slightly toward him and placed her hand on her heart, unsure of herself, "I just, I need you, I need you to love me." Her voice trailed off. The past few days had been so stressful and Michaela needed to return to a life that wasn't so complicated, that didn't require her to always be the one in control. She needed him to take over, she needed him to be in control. She knew it was against her upbringing, but this wasn't Boston and if it were, Brian would have been under a different physicians care. Everything was different in the west, being here had released the hold of propriety. Being here demanded that needs were met with urgency. He hadn't replied,"Sully, please?" Michaela's hand dropped to her side. He held his hands together, resisting the urge to do what she wanted, and he considered what this would mean, it would change everything. He had gotten lost in thought when he heard her ask again. Realizing that she was serious and that her confidence was fading, he released his belt placing it in the chair, stepped forward, and put his hands on her tiny waist.

She was tense and holding everything on her shoulders. Both hands moved there, starting with her waist and moving up her back. Her muscles were tight and when he touched her she inhaled sharply. He massaged her shoulders to relieve the tension, and lowered his head to place a delicate kiss to her neck just below her ear. As his lips left her skin, the warmth of his breath lingered. How wonderful his hands felt, and when she had felt his hands grab the sides of her shoulders and his lips on her neck, she relaxed a little and let out a soft moan. Sully could feel the heat from her body and he slowly began to unbutton her dress. As he removed each layer, he exposed more and more of her beautiful skin. He placed another kiss on the top of her shoulder as he caressed her body with his lips and nose, and inhaled her heavenly sweetness. He had removed all of her clothes except her stockings now and she was still facing the bed. He placed a kiss to the center of her exposed neck and reached up to her long, brown hair to release it from it's constraints. Her hair fell gently down her back and he straightened it with his fingers. It was so soft and felt wonderful in his hands. She was nervous, no one had ever seen her like this and despite her need to be with him, she was trembling again. Sully could tell she was nervous and he moved closer and put his left hand on her shoulder while his right hand eased around her waist to her stomach. He pulled her close. Their bodies fit so perfectly into each other. He was so close to where she needed to feel him, and it made her dizzy with desire. "Michaela, it's ok if you have changed your mind..." He had barely gotten the words out of his mouth when she slowly turned around revealing her beautiful form.

Sully whispered, "You're beautiful," and their eyes locked. She was blushing and Sully knew that he had to take her mind off of the fact that she was the only one not wearing clothes. He stepped back and removed his shirt, never losing those mismatched eyes of hers. She stepped forward and gently touched him, being so close to him, her eyes wandered over his chiseled body. It told of the hard work he had endured making his way out west, of the strength it took to survive in a harsh environment. Her hands could feel the heat radiating from him and she caressed around the side of his rib cage and ran her hand across his pectoral muscle stopping above his heart. Sully closed his eyes and exhaled as her hand passed over his chest, and when he felt the warmth of her hand linger above his heart he opened them. He had never felt so much love in his life, she was giving her heart to him and he had opened his to her. She put her arms around him, leaned forward and placed a soft kiss to the place that her hand had just moved from. He gently eased her toward the bed, there was no question anymore that they both wanted to continue.

Michaela sat on the bed and Sully knelt to the floor and ran his hand one by one up the insides of her legs, slowly removing the last of her clothing. He stood and she reached out to unbutton the top of his buckskins. Sully's hand met hers and he finished the task. He removed his buckskins with care and when he stood completely, she became aware of the effect she was having on him. As he approached, she began to slide back and lean onto the bed, biting her lip with anticipation. Sully caught up to her, and as they moved his arms caught her and lowered her the rest of the way. He moved in between her body and he began to place kisses on her chest and throat, slowly working his way back to her lips. He kissed her hard and she could feel the growing desire from his manhood. His hands were everywhere, on her hips, caressing her breast, and splayed across her torso. He lowered his head and took her breast into his mouth, Michaela moaned with pleasure and he moved to the other side. His tongue stroked the tip of her nipple and he sucked gently. She had her hands in his hair. She had never felt such passion in her life and just when she thought she couldn't feel anymore pleasure, Sully reached down between her legs and caressed her soft folds. He stroked her most sensitive areas. She instinctively arched her back off the bed longing for more as her hands moved around him to the top of his shoulders. He could feel her body preparing for his entrance, and Sully knew she was ready to receive him.

He pulled back and looked deep into her eyes, knowing he shouldn't linger, he simply ask, "Are you ready?" She nodded and he affirmed, "I love you" as he descended to her mouth to take her lips. He held on tight and gently thrust his body forward breaking her maidenhead. Her lips quivered and a small whimper came from her mouth. Sully's heart sank because he knew he had caused her pain. He felt her tense up and pause, she felt the warm tears leave the sides of her eyes and then the pain subsided. Giving her time to relax and adjust to the feeling of having him inside her, he pulled back and promised, "I'll never hurt you again, from now on, you will only know pleasure." He caressed her tears away and stroked the side of her face with the back of his hand. Michaela was overwhelmed, and the way he filled her body with his brought her higher and higher. He gently began thrusting and both of her hands moved to his back, running up and down his taut muscles. Just as quickly, her right hand moved to the side of her face and reached above her head for the edge of the bed, as her left hand moved to his lower back. She pulled him into her body as she raised her hips to meet him. His hand made its way down the side of her body to the back of her knee and he pulled her leg higher and held onto it as he moved deeper inside of her, she felt her body start to clamour for more and tense with desire. Every thrust was impassioned, every caress was felt as she raced toward an unknown conclusion. They moved together perfectly as each gave and took from the other. He continued to kiss her all over as their bodies longed for every touch. As she neared completion, Sully reached for her hand at the edge of the bed and interlaced their fingers. She clenched his hand as they continued to move together, looking into each other's eyes. Calling his name and arching her head back, she tensed for a final time and then, relief as her body gave way to wave after wave of intense passion. She held onto him, burying her face in the crook of his neck and pulling him close, she was moaning as he continued to hit her most sensitive areas. He could feel her body clenching around him. With intense thrusts, he climaxed shortly after, calling out her name and pleasures of his own, as they both sank into the bed too weak to move.

Sully was now the one who trembled, not anticipating such an intense release. She was magnificent, and he rolled to the side clinging to her. Her body was burning with passion and Sully took her hand and kissed it again and again. They were covered with sweat as they both processed the emotions they were feeling. Sully reached for the hair that clung to her face and moved it away as he blew air gently across her neck. He kissed her lips and she smiled back at him as she ran her hands through his hair. "You are so beautiful Michaela, that was indescribable." "I never knew it could be like that." Michaela blushed with so many thoughts about the experience, about how she had made him tremble, about her own release, but she needed to thank him. "Thank You Sully"... "for being my rock, for understanding how difficult the past few days have been." She wanted to stop there but she continued to pour her heart out. "Sometimes I feel so alone because of my work, because of my place out here, you have always been there for me, for the children. I'm sorry I blamed you for Brian's accident, I'm…." Sully stopped her, "Michaela, you don't have to apologize, I shouldn't have told Brian that story, I shouldn't have taken my eyes away from him. If he hadn't made it, I would have blamed myself for the rest of my days. I don't know that I could have lived with myself, but you saved him, because you are talented, and smart, and you have an unwavering determination to succeed. And besides all that, you are the most caring, beautiful woman I have ever known. We will always face difficulty in this environment but I promise you, I will always do my best to be there for you and the children."

Michaela knew that he meant every word and her heart swelled when she considered his commitment to her profession and the children…. and to her. It hadn't been easy to get people to trust a woman doctor but Sully believed in her abilities like he would believe in any doctor, maybe more. It meant so much to hear his devotion. The tears welled in the corners of her eyes and she reached for his face. "I love you so much." She leaned forward and kissed him gently. Knowing they were both emotionally spent, he took her into his arms and pulled the covers over them. "I love you too" he said as he rolled to his back and guided her head to his beating chest, "rest now," and he kissed the top of her head. She breathed in his masculine scent and sighed as she listened to his steady beating heart. In that moment, she found the weakness that she would allow herself, she realized that she had never felt so safe and loved as her body slipped into peaceful slumber. Sully continued to caress her back as she drifted off. Her skin was soft and creamy and he loved the smoothness of it. His thoughts were of a future with her and he decided he wanted to marry her and take care of her and the children. He was fully in love, and it was different than it was with Abigail. He knew Michaela was strong and independent, and that's why he knew that it wasn't the need to take care of her that he felt but the feeling of wanting to take care of her. She was his soulmate and she deserved to be cared for, she deserved his commitment to her.

Chapter Text

She was on his mind. As Sully sat on top of his mountain that he went to in times of change he continued to see visions of her, and the way she moved in his arms. Her skin was like silk and her scent was intoxicating. They had awoke in each other's arms, full of love and happiness. Michaela needed to check on Brian so Sully took her to town. The sun was setting and the sky was purple with shades of pink and orange. The light cast back across the sky glowed with softness and kissed the skyline. In the distance silhouettes of mountain tops reached into the sky. His feelings remained the same, and he had a peacefulness about him. He looked at the tall grass swaying in the breeze. It's dance was mesmerizing, moving like the ocean, billowing softly. This place was beautiful, it reminded him that she was beautiful.

Michaela was proud of the care Colleen and Matthew had given to Brian. He had pain from the surgery, but overall he was improving rapidly. Colleen had stayed right by his side and not left him to wake up alone. Michaela thought about Colleen's wish to go to medical school, and despite their drastically different upbringings, Colleen reminded her of herself. She wouldn't give up, not even one bit, and she truly cared. The similarities were great and she wondered if that would mean that Colleen would not spare the time to be with friends or go out with young gentlemen that came to call. Michaela had done that, because in her life she had learned that the only person she could really trust was herself. If she relied on anyone else too much, she might fail, and that reminded her, and she thought of how faithful he was.

It was time to go back and Sully began his journey into town. He walked down the hill admiring the beauty of nature and all the delicate flowers that had grown by the road. He knew he would have to get an early start the next morning, but he needed to see her.

He entered the clinic to find her sitting at her desk. The light from the lamps cast a soft glow on her face and he paused at the door to look at her. She looked up, turning her head and their eyes met. She blushed at the way he looked upon her but she smiled and said "Hello." He spoke softly, "Hello…..How's Brian?" Relieved that some of the heat was leaving from her face, she answered back. "He's doing very well, I plan to keep him at the clinic for the next few days, it will be best if he doesn't move around too much. And we can also take him to see the new school house when he feels like going. Thank you for working so hard to help finish it, I was under so much stress I didn't really get to tell you." He looked down to the floor and fumbled his hands, "It was the only thing I knew to do while we waited, kind of tried to take my mind off of what was going on in here, although I have to admit, Brian stayed on my mind the whole time." He looked up into her eyes, "You were on my mind too" The blush returned. He stepped forward and took her hand, "Michaela, these hands of yours," he caressed her fingers, " you have a powerful gift." He raised her hand to his lips and kissed it, she was comforted by his sentiment and she smiled at him. He took her in his arms and just held her, and she let herself let go, with her head nestled on his shoulder. His arms were so safe, so inviting. Eventually a noise from upstairs broke them apart, and they both decided to go check on Brian together. When they walked in the room, Colleen was playing checkers with Brian, who seemed to be in good spirits. "I think you should rest now Brian, doctor's orders," said Michaela. "Sully and I wanted to come tell you goodnight." Colleen collected the checkers and the board and moved it to a side table for tomorrow. "We'll finish this soon,little brother! Sully looked at her and said, "Colleen, you are going to make a fantastic doctor one of these days." She smiled at him and said "Thank You." Brian took great delight in having Sully there to tuck him in, and he ask if he could tell him a story. Sully sat on the bed and Colleen and Michaela left the room. Colleen was staying in the next room over and had taken the room at the end of the hall. However, she decided to go back downstairs and finish her paperwork, so she wished Colleen a goodnight and went back downstairs.

She was finishing up her paperwork when Sully came back down the stairs. She looked up and ask if Brian had gone to sleep. Sully told her he had tucked Brian in at the end of the story because he could hardly keep his eyes open. "Would you like to go for a walk with me" he ask, hoping she was done with her work. Michaela felt slightly nervous, but she did want to go with him. "Yes," she answered, "just let me put these files away." As she put them back in the cabinet, Sully retrieved her shawl from the coat rack near the door. "Thank you," she said as he walked toward her. When he reached her he wrapped it around her shoulders and handed her the two ends.

They walked to the door, and went onto the porch of the clinic. The moon was bright and it was casting a soft glow about the town. Sully stepped onto the ground below and turned, offering his hand. She smiled and placed her hand in his. Their fingers interlocked, and they turned toward the church and the meadow. Neither one said a word, but there was comfort in knowing that they could spend time in each other's company. When they reached the bridge, Sully stopped at the side to look at the water flowing beneath them. He released her hand and placed both on top of the rails of the structure. He stared straight ahead and said, "No one thinks about the persistence of this water, how it provides for every animal, plant, and person giving us life. It's soft and pleasing, but it also has great strength. It made this creek, it shapes canyons and mountains, it rushes with power when the storms come, and it renews the land when the rains fall." The compliment wasn't lost on Michaela and she marveled at his ability to use his love of the earth to express his feelings for her. She moved closer and placed her hand on top of his. He took her in his arms and held her as they continued to watch. Michaela broke the silence, "I feel so safe and free with you, I've never had that before." Her head was resting against him and the warmth of his body was warming her cheek. The slight chill in the air had faded. She heard him breath in deeply and then exhale. The sound of his heartbeat was in her ear and it kept steady time. Her arms were around him and her hands clung to the muscles on his upper back and sides, occasionally caressing them. "Michaela, you're the strongest woman I know, but even the strongest people need love, care, and support. I want to take care of you, not because you need me to but because I want to. I've never had to depend on anyone either, but your love makes me better, it makes me want more. Will you take a walk with me tomorrow afternoon?" She could hear his heart speed up, and she listened as her own heart began to match it's rhythm. She looked up at him and said, "Yes, I'd love to." He looked down at her and gave her a gentle kiss. They pulled apart and started walking back to the clinic.

When they reached the door of the clinic, Sully wished her goodnight, and kissed her hand as he backed off the steps. She smiled and opened the door, when it closed behind her, she leaned up against it and exhaled. He walked away with a happiness in his heart that hadn't been present for a while. All the time that he had spent running away from his past and his feelings had led to this moment in time, it had led him to her. Michaela thought about how different he was. More than any man she had ever known, he was the opposite of what she was expected to engage with. But for her, he was the only one she could ever imagine spending her life with. It would be hard to sleep tonight thinking about their walk tomorrow, but she was exhausted and she made her way up the stairs to the room at the end of the hallway.

When Michaela woke the next morning, she could here Brian and Colleen giggling. A smile spread across her face and she again contemplated the events of the past few days. She loved them so much and it felt strange to think of a time when they were not in her life. She wondered what the future would hold and would she be having the same thoughts about Sully in a few years. Already her life in Boston seemed to be missing the life and freedom she had found in Colorado Springs. She stretched her legs and got out of bed. She had work to do and then she would be meeting Sully for their walk. She made the bed and went to check on Brian.

Sully wanted everything to be just right for their walk. He kept going over and over what he might say but nothing seemed to match his love or dedication. He was nervous and he didn't know why. She clearly loved him, but this was a commitment that he had been avoiding for a while. He mounted his horse and turned toward town. When he arrived he dismounted and walked to the door of the clinic. Inside Michaela had been quickly preparing to leave, everything had a place and her instruments needed to be well cared for. She had been nervous all day, but why couldn't she just relax, she knew he loved her? She began to think about her fears, but she didn't get far when she heard a knock on the door. "Come in," she said with enough volume to address whomever was at the door, but she knew it was him. He opened the door and walked in. When he saw her, he couldn't take his eyes off of her. Her hair was up, but as usual, little strands flew freely around her face, caressing her shoulder, and her dress accenting her curves that, until recently, had been left to his imagination. He could only think of how beautiful she truly was. Again, her face was warm with the blush that resulted from his gaze. His crystal blue eyes were intense but soft with the look of love. He stepped forward and took her hand, kissing it. "Are you ready?" She smiled and replied, "Yes." As they walked out front Michaela stopped in confusion, "Sully, I didn't think we would be riding today, I let Matthew take my horse!" "That's ok," he said. "You can ride with me," as he smiled at her with love in his eyes. He mounted his horse and reached down to pull her up into his lap. She sat across the horse with her back against Sully's chest. Michaela had never ridden bareback before, but with Sully's arms around her, she felt safe. His hand eased around her waist and pulled her close as he turned the horse and began the trip to their destination. The horse walked slowly and Sully made sure that he kept it that way for her comfort and also so he could hold her in his arms for as long as possible. They left town and traveled for a good distance. His face was so close to her neck and she continued to be aroused by the warm breath that lingered near her ear. She could feel his freshly shaven face brush against her face so softly. Her breathing had slowed down and it was hard for her to focus on the conversation as he told her where they would leave the horse. Her heart was slowly pounding. She cleared her throat, "Are we almost there?" she ask, knowing she couldn't take much more. Sully chuckled, "Yes, it's just up this hill." She had no idea that he was fighting just as hard to stay in control and only resorted to describing the trip so she would have no idea how close he was to losing it. Her back rest against him and his lips were so close to her neck. He could smell the fancy soap that she used and it was intoxicating. He wanted to kiss her so badly, but he wanted to wait, so he just enjoyed the close proximity. She was determined to keep herself in check. Knowing it was a short distance more, gave her the strength to hold on. When they stopped he hesitated and moved closer to her neck and shoulder. "Let me get down first." He climbed off his horse and moved in front of her. He put his arms up to help her down. As she slid into his arms, the force of sliding off the horse propelled her a little faster than either one of them thought, and Sully had to act fast to reassure her that he had her. Their bodies met with force and Sully gripped her tightly. "Ohhh," she exclaimed, as they surprised each other with their contact and closeness. He held her for a few seconds, right up against his body where he had caught her. Then he eased her to the ground. They had locked eyes and she grew nervous and ask, "shall we go?" His hands slowly moved across her sides and his fingertips one by one lost contact. He reached for her hand and they started to walk. Michaela shyly lowered her head and smiled to herself. They walked a good distance in silence, comfortable with just being together. Finally, Sully looked over at her and said, "we're almost there, just to the top of this hill. She smiled and looked around, the scenery was pleasant but she wondered what was awaiting them at their destination. The sun was going down and it lit up the sky with golden hues and purple and pink shades of dusk. As they topped the hill Michaela started to realize that she was somewhere special. The hilltops opened to a valley with a vast mountain range behind it. A creek cut it's way through the valley. Wildflowers bloomed all around. Nature, fragile and harsh, all combined into the same environment. The scenery was breathtaking and Michaela gasp and whispered, "it's beautiful…." She looked around with wonder. Sully slowly confessed, "I come here when I need to think. It's my place that I go to when my soul needs guidance. I was here just yesterday, thinking about you, thinking about why I love you, and how I want to take care of you… how I need you." Michaela turned her head to look at him, "Sully"….,she whispered. His confession took her breath away, and she gazed up at him. Suddenly the wonder that had surrounded her focused on him. His features were illuminated by the golden sun and his eyes were shining so bright and blue. "I've never brought anyone here Michaela, you're the only one." He reached in his pocket to retrieve the ring he had purchased that morning. He took her hands and knelt to one knee. Michaela's heart leapt as she realized what was happening. "Michaela Quinn, you are the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with, I've been running away from everything and everyone for a long time, trying to ease the hurt inside, but I cannot deny that you have healed my heart with the love you give. I can not deny that I have fallen for you, that I love you, and I can't bear for us to be apart any longer, my heart is yours, will you marry me?"

Michaela's heart pounded so deeply and she took in every word he said, as she heard the words she had waited to hear, she fought her patience in letting him say what he needed to. She felt the smile spread across her face as he finished the words that had requested her devotion to him. Not just devotion, but love, and care, and partnership, all that she could give and share with him. With one word she would start the rest of her life, the rest of their lives. His love filled her soul, and her heart sang the simple answer, "Yes."

Sully had been holding his breath, and as soon as she answered, he exhaled with more love than he knew how to express, he quickly stood and placed the ring on her finger. Then he pulled her into him and kissed her with passion. They kissed again, and again, and again. He held her tight and turned them toward the sunset as she placed her head on his chest. It was magnificent, and beautiful, and all the glory of God was shining for them. Michaela's heart was full of love and happiness and she wished for the sun to suspend itself so the moment could last longer but alas, the sun faded behind the peaks and cast the night sky above them. The stars were shining brightly and the Milky Way was beautiful reaching across the sky. Sully spread a blanket that he had left from the day before on the ground. He reached out his hand to her and kneeled in the center. She went to him and he pulled her with him as he lay flat on his back and crossed his ankles. She kissed him with her tenderness and rolled to his cradling arm. He placed his other hand under his head and gently caressed her arm as they gazed at the night sky. He smiled as she settled into him and he heard her softly sigh. The feeling was mutual as they realized how comfortable they felt together with his gentle warm embrace and her feather light touch freely resting against him. She shifted in his embrace to hold her left hand to the sky and place her ring with the stars. He removed his hand from behind his head and took her hand. He brought the ring to his mouth and kissed it. He rolled to his side and gazed into her eyes as he supported his weight on his elbow with his hand moving to support her neck, and his other hand moved to her torso just below her breast. Her eyes sparkling greater than any star or diamond, he whispered, "I love you so much." Her heart was full of love and she reached up and caressed his face, and then played with his hair. She looked deep into his eyes and whispered, "With all my heart and soul, I'm yours Sully." A happy tear left her eye and he brushed it away as he took her mouth, pressing into her and grasping her body with his warm, masculine hands.

He moved to the side and trailed kisses down her neck, as she rolled her head to give him better access. She trembled briefly as every nerve ending longed to be the object of his affections. The heat started to pool and she could feel the blush on her skin. The instant heat gave her a chill as the night air now felt cold. Sully notice her reaction and rubbed her arm…, "sorry" he smiled. "Don't be", she smiled back. He kissed her again. "I suppose we should be getting back so the children don't worry about us." She agreed, "Yes, I suppose we should."

They gathered the blanket and started for the hillside, hand in hand. She gazed at him. "Sully?" He looked at her and said, "hmm." "Can we come back and spend the day here sometime? It's so beautiful, I'd like to bring a picnic, and spend some time together." He smiled and said, "I think I can arrange something, I'd like that." Michaela smiled,this had been the most beautiful day of her life, she wished it could last forever but they did have to be getting home. They reached Sully's horse and he turned to her. "With it being dark, I think maybe you should ride on the back this time." It pained him to say so because he wouldn't be able to hold her in his arms this time. She nodded, " I think that would be wise." Sully wrapped the blanket around her to keep her warm and jumped up on the horse. He reached down and pulled her behind him. She adjusted her position to get comfortable and moved up to his back. Her hands grasping onto his sides. He loved her touch and she formed her hands to him and slowly slid her hands around his torso as she leaned against him and put her head on his back. Sully looked down at her hands and he placed his hand on hers. He turned slightly to make sure she was settled and then he took the reigns and turned. As they made their way back, he could feel her against him. She enjoyed being close to him and the heat that radiated between them more than made up for the chill in the air.

Chapter Text

The rain started with the gentle sound of a drop here and a drop there. As the intensity picked up to a lulling pace that seemed to wash away the innocence in the air, they quickly made their way to a small overhang where water trickled to the ground. The sound now steady and constant. Individual drops became the rush of a gentle breeze that engulfed them as if it could cleanse everything in its path. In the distance, thunder rolled. They would not be making it back home anytime soon.

They were wet from running through the rain and as quickly as they reached the overhang, he checked the area for wildlife and Sully wrapped the blanket behind her and pressed her to the rock wall. It was dark and moonlight illuminated their faces. She shivered with the rain's cool breeze, and her lips trembled. He rubbed her arms to warm her up. Cold droplets of water ran down their faces and water was dripping from their hair. She was cold and his current closeness was not enough to take the chill off of her skin. However, the air between them was becoming heavy and breathing had become laborious.

Society and propriety washed away, they were left with passion that hung in the air between them, their faces washed bare of the proper appearances and the formalities that were included with it. They searched each others eyes and he moved his hand to her cheek, gently stroking. He flinched and Michaela ask "Are you okay?" Sully smiled and laughed, "raindrops hitting my lower back." Michaela looked up at the water dripping from the top of the overhang and then lowered her eyes to him. Seductively she smiled a crooked smile and said, "Well come closer," as she slid her arm around his waist and pulled him in. Sully inhaled sharply and put his forearms up against the rocks so they wouldn't take up space behind her back. His hands formed two fist, fighting for patience. Her breast pressed against his chest, she was quickly warming, and so was he. There was a magnetism about their movements. Her hands glided across his dark blue shirt that clung to every muscle on his torso and around his back, straining to find his patience, he let her continue. Slowly, her mouth moved along his neck as she caressed him with her lips, her tongue gently darting out, daring to taste him in the water on his skin, and her nose breathing him into her. As her lips moved up to his ear, she kissed him and whispered, "love me."

It was all he needed to hear as he reached down and took both of her hands. He gently pinned them with one hand to the rock wall above her head, as his other hand moved to her hip. He kissed her softly. His lips slowly crept down her neck to the top of her breast. Not being able to cling to him was pure torture to her senses as everything was at his discretion and she was fully at his mercy. He moved the hand on her hip up her body to massage her breast and tease her nipples through her wet clothes, and Michaela tried to suppress a soft moan as she longed for further completion. Their clothes clung to them and begged for attention as every curve was visible. She could feel his hardness, she needed to reciprocate. She used her leg to wrap around his and then caress him as she slowly moved her calf over his, her movements caressing other areas of his lower body. The faint hint of lavender filled the air. It was his undoing. In a moment of complete abandonment, he lost himself and quickly unbuttoned his buckskins, gathered her dress up, and reached for her under garments, struggling through passionate frustration at getting them loose. As soon as he could, he grabbed her, and before she knew she had been lifted, he was sliding inside of her. Her mouth formed the shape of an o and she moaned as she exhaled pent up passions. She inhaled sharply through her teeth, and gasp out loudly. He moaned as he settled. He leaned toward her and nipped at her mouth, she nipped back and then locked into an intense, passionate kiss. He was deep inside of her. Her hands trembled as she grasp around him. Her thighs were tight to his body as her toes pointed to the ground. His mouth moved to her neck and he kissed the strained senses of her flushed delicate skin. She called out. Arteries were gorged with blood flowing through them and he found the will to pause long enough to look her in her eyes. Her beautiful eyes. His arms were solid and his hands held her firmly as he started to thrust, calling out her name. Both of them were burning with passion and he knew it would be a quick satisfaction of their needs.

Michaela was surprised by how quickly the feeling of bliss overcame her, and although unprepared, she accepted the quickly building sensations, as she peaked again and again. Sully moaned and the sound only fueled the passion between them. She was alarmed by her need to feel him so fully, but couldn't resist the desire that she refused to dismiss. She simply wanted more. Their calls of passion were a confirmation of being fully committed to their needs. Michaela could feel him so impeccably, and persistently as she called out again and again. The rain had been forgotten and any water that dripped down Sully's back only fueled the agony of desire he felt. He felt her tension build and release and build again, and then, the inevitable, she called out as he tensed himself and burst forth into her. Her hand shot back to the wall grasping for something to hold on to. He was ridgid, his hand and arm shot up her back as he pulled her tightly against him, his warm hand grasping the thin wet cloth that covered the ivory skin between her shoulders. He moved one of his forearms back to the rock behind her as he leaned forward, concentrating on his bliss and maintaining his balance as he stood solid against her, thrusting with exquisite, strong, purposeful, well timed deliberation until his needs and her needs were sated. She gasp desperately and he shuddered. All Michaela could do was cling to his body and support him as she knew they were both struggling for some kind of control.

Afterward, she was absolutely limp with completion as her head lulled about and her lower half was throbbing as spasms continued within her. They were both panting heavily. It was difficult for him to compose himself and he tried to relax as he felt her body contracting for the last time. He gently slipped from her and lowered her to the ground, his body pressing against hers as he needed a moment to recover. Her knees were weak and she trembled, but soon a calmness came over her and she relaxed. She clutched his body as her other hand rubbed the nape of his neck. She wanted to soothe his muscles and ease his emotions. She looked at all the beauty before her as the moonlight illuminated the awareness of surroundings that started to filter back to her. His chin rest against her shoulder, and he licked his dry lips, through labored breathing, and tenderly kissed her neck and shoulder. He inhaled her scent and let out a sigh of relief. The smell of her lavender soap lingered back to him as he recognized it's fragrance from all the many times he had longed to be close to her and from their time together at the cabin.

They couldn't look each other in the eyes, not yet anyway, it would be too much. After a few moments, she whispered, "I love you so much." They were words from her heart, knowing that the honesty they had both just shared could only come from complete trust. She kissed his neck and continued to caress his hair, her delicate fingers caressed his skin so softly. She nuzzled into the crook of his neck. He embraced her with the arm that slid down lingering around her waist and confessed, "I love you too, my love, my heartsong." Michaela caught her breath, her heart pounding, she pulled back from his shoulder as her eyes, softly hooded, slowly shifted to look into his. She searched the azure shades of blue, and a smile crept across her face. She kissed him softly and they embraced each other secure in the warmth that they provided for each other. The sound of gentle raindrops falling from the trees filled their presence, and drops of water fell from the overhang into the puddles that had formed to collect them.

Chapter Text

Sully and Michaela knew that they couldn't stay out in the rain, and once it had calmed to a light rain Sully suggested that they get back to the horse and make their way to the Cheyenne camp. Michaela agreed, she wanted so badly to be home and check on Brian, but she knew if they both stayed in their current condition, they would likely be sick and spend a very uncomfortable night trying to avoid the weather. Although it's very existence had caused so much passion for them, the weather was only going to get worse, and a dry place to sleep was sounding better every minute.

On the horse again, he guided them to camp and after locating Cloud Dancing,they were greeted, and shown to a teepee where they could take shelter. His shirt was clinging to his torso and her clothes were clinging to her form. Their skin glistened from the rain water slowly trickling from their hair. There were furs and blankets and Snowbird brought tea and dry clothes for them to warm up. As she started to leave she went to Michaela to see if she needed anything. She took her hands in hers and immediately noticed the white man's symbol for a marriage. The two women smiled at each other and Snowbird whispered, "He has promised himself?" Michaela nodded and replied, "and I have promised myself." Her crooked smile gave away her delight. Snowbird smiled and said, "Come with me." The two women wrapped themselves in blankets and exited the teepee.

Sully used the opportunity to change into some dry buckskins and he removed his shirt, hanging it up to dry. He built a fire and began to hang the other garments up too. Meanwhile, Snowbird pulled a bundle from her things and slowly started to untie the leather bindings. "I have a gift for you, Medicine Woman." Michaela thought about objecting, but she knew it would be an insult to Snowbird, so she stood quietly and let her continue. "I made this dress a long time ago when Sully came to live with us. The pain in his heart was great, but the spirits told us that time and a good woman would heal his wounds." Tears gathered at the bottom of Michaela's eyelids, and she thought upon how painfully Sully had suffered through many misfortunes. Cloud Dancing and his wife had truly saved him with their friendship, and she could only ever hold them with highest regard. It was truly a dishonor that they, along with their people, had been treated so poorly, especially when the proof of such a great friendship was now before her. Michaela stared straight ahead and as hard as she tried to contain them, a tear broke the barrier and streamed down her cheek. She quickly wiped it from her face. Snowbird rose from the ground and turned to reveal a beautiful, soft doeskin dress adorned with snow white feathers and white beads. "The spirits said you would join his soul and become one," Snowbird held the dress up. " Now I will help you to go to him."

Sully heard her re-enter the teepee, and he said,"Michaela, I've got a space for your clothes and", he turned and his mouth went dry as he lost all thought…. Sully was stunned, she stood before him in a doeskin dress. It was adorned with white feathers and beads. Her hair was flowing down her back with feathers braided into it beside her face. Her legs were showing and she had removed her shoes when she entered. The neckline was cut across her shoulders and his eyes were drawn to her ivory skin. The furs she stood on were so soft and pleasing. He finished turning and stood facing her, finding it hard to mask his reaction. His chest was quickly rising and falling and she blushed as he stared right into her eyes. Michaela took it all in, his muscles, his form, those crystal blue eyes that looked upon her, his broad shoulders and his chest…. Her eyes wandered over him and she blushed realizing how she had stared for too long. She slowly walked toward him, and as she reached him she stopped, looking directly into his blue eyes.

"You're so beautiful" he said, knowing he couldn't keep that to himself any longer. Her cheeks blushed even more and she averted her eyes to regain any sense of propriety that was left. She could feel his eyes watching her and she heard him breath out desperately, "marry me." Her eyes shot up to his and she looked at him with confusion and smiled a little, unsure of herself because he had just ask her this very thing only hours before . "Sully,..." she breathed. "I mean tonight," he said. She froze. "How?" He looked to the entrance of the teepee, "I'll get Cloud Dancing, he can marry us."

Their ceremony had been simple and meaningful. Snowbird and Cloud Dancing knowingly congratulated the two and left them. They now faced each other intensely in the teepee. The dress was cut across the shoulders and he reached forward using his middle fingers to caress her skin. He slowly worked over her collar bone to the roundness of her shoulder. The warmth of his hand felt so comforting from the contrast of the rainy weather. He leaned forward and kissed the curve of her neck. Michaela gasp a little bit and turned into him kissing him below his ear. His hands moved to her sides and he caressed her front to back with steady, even strokes. Filled with desire, he couldn't help from grazing the underside of her breast. She placed her arms around his neck and pulled him to her mouth. Passionately, she tasted his lips. The dress gathered neatly at her shoulders with leather lacing that held the dress in place. He pulled back and kissed his way from just below her ear to the side of her shoulder where he untied the tie and then kissed his way back to her mouth. The dress fell slightly and exposed more of her shoulder. He looked down at her chest and slowly moved his hand up her body to her covered breast caressing over them as the soft leather served as a barrier, but elicited the strongest urgency for more. She moaned softly and his lips found her neck as his passion grew. He put his arms around her and kissed his way to the top of her shoulder once more. His hand slid up her back, and drawing her into him his hand was able to reach the tie as he pressed into her. He took it between his fingers and slowly pulled it loose. His hand moving once again to her back as he loosed the garment. He looked into her eyes and let go as he stepped back. The doeskin dress dropped to the floor revealing her beautiful body.

Sully put his hands around her waist, and pulled her close. He started at her ear and kissed the side of her face softly as he continued to her throat. His lips lingered in every spot as he slowly moved to another location. His hand moved to her face and he caressed her throat, the sensations softly bringing her more into him as she sighed. She was content and he picked her up and carried her to the furs and blankets spread across the floor. He kneeled down and gently placed her on the soft bedding. She leaned into him for another kiss and pulled him to her as she lay back. Their previous encounter had been intense and passionate, but what followed their wedding was now a tender expression of love in its purest form. Every caress against her body was treasured and movements were slow, and powerful, and deliberate. Their breathing was shallow and heavy as they reverently explored the adoration they had for each other. She couldn't believe how much he loved her, but even more than that, she couldn't believe how much she loved him. The feelings she experienced were overwhelming. Eyes heavy with love, she caressed his face, studying every detail. Sully was experiencing similar feelings as he continued to caress her body. He could hardly believe that she was his wife. So many things in his life had gone wrong but now it had finally seemed like his life was changing for the better. She truly was the song of his heart. He smiled as he kissed her, he pulled back, and the look in his eyes turned to a more serious nature as he allowed himself to feel every measure of his love for her, often arriving at a deeper appreciation for her then a moment before. Sully took in a deep breath and sighed. Michaela had smiled back at him. She noticed the look in his eyes and they both arrived at the same conclusion, that now was the time to release their innermost feelings for one another. Their love was encompassing a timeless dedication of two souls locked in a force more powerful than their own physical desires and their marriage had fused the longing of their souls to become one.

So infinite was his desire to please her, he reached for her face and his warm hand caressed the side of her cheek as his thumb drifted to her lips. He lightly ran his thumb over the smooth delicate skin as his eyes shifted from her eyes, to her lips, and back again. The sensation was electric, and she found it hard to resist. She kissed his thumb to stop the motion, he moved his hand back to the side of her face. She reached up and caressed the outline of his cheek with her fingertips as she let her hand slide into his hair and caressed the curve of his ear. Then she moved to the nape of his neck. "I love you." It was a simple statement, he leaned in and stilled her with a passionate kiss and then kissed his way down her body, working down her neck to the side of her breast and then to her ivory skin on her torso. He moved to her hips and gently kissed the soft slope of her hip bone before moving on to nuzzle the inside of her thigh as he parted her legs and made his way down her. It was pure torture as he had bypassed her breast and her most sensitive areas, her breathing was shallow as she anticipated some kind of satisfaction. She watched as he lifted her leg and kissed the inside of her knee, and her skin tingled as his lips left that sensitive spot and continued down her calf. His affections were building as Sully rose and removed his buckskins, this was the final barrier. He lowered his body to hers and worked up her legs to her center, bypassing the area again. Michaela was enjoying his affections and the longing frustration continued to build. He kissed up the side of her ribs while his hand splayed to the underside of her breast, he grazed the underside and gently used his ring finger to caress up the side. He slowly circled her nipple and caressed her with the lightest touch. Michaela had been anticipating his touch for what felt like an eternity, his inadvertent contact left her moaning and trembling, she felt her excitement build again. He couldn't keep her like this for any longer. He leaned to the other side as his hand covered her breast, and took her other breast into his mouth, stroking her with his tongue. "Ohhh, ahhhh." Her chest rose and her breast swelled, which caused her to rise even more into him. He moved to the center and kissed her chest and quickly moved to her neck where he gently kissed her delicate skin.

His lips upon her neck were so pleasing and he reverently took his time kissing her and breathing his warm breath onto her soft skin. She met him and the two shared a long passionate kiss. He needed her so, and he longed to make every moment last. With that thought he reached down and joined with her as he pulled her up, supporting her back as her head fell back exposing herself to his mercy.

Enjoying his tenderness, she lifted her head and looked straight into his eyes. The look she was giving him transcended all they had shared until this moment. Longing and love, deep passion with hooded eyes, secret desires of her heart that were to be understood and remedied. He moved in her with passion and ease, slow, rhythmic movements that pleased her very much as he attended to her. Of the time they spent together her completion had never felt so wonderful and full. Every nerve was fulfilled by his attentions and she clung to him with a tight embrace when they concluded.

He rolled to his back and she lay on top of him with her leg wrapped around his. Her breast pressed into him and her ear was above his heart. She listened as it pounded within him and smiled as it began to slow and even out. Her right hand lingered at his side as the top of her hand felt the softness of the furs while she held him and slowly caressed his side with her thumb, meanwhile her left hand lingered on his collarbone and gently caressed his neck. Her foot occasionally moving about his leg and ankle. He was so satisfied with her responsiveness. They truly felt like one body and soul together. He was all too happy to give her this time resting and appreciating her feelings of love. Her body soft and smooth, seemed weightless upon him. His hand rest at the smooth curve of her lower back and he caressed her with his two middle fingers. His other arm reached up to her neck where he caressed her skin as he played with her silky hair. He was so warmly embracing her and she wondered how she had made it so long without the love of a good man. It wasn't long before Sully pulled his blanket over them, and they were asleep.

Michaela woke first, pleasantly warm on a cool day. Soft furs lay upon her back. The rain from the prior evening had stopped and she remained softly tangled with Sully. His chest contently rising and falling, she nuzzled against him and lightly kissed his skin. He held her with a soft firmness with one arm as his other arm had moved above his head, opening up to her freely, uncharacteristic of any defensive sleeping positions he maintained in the wilderness. His broad chest and firm muscles were so pleasing to her and she couldn't help sensually running her hands over his firm body. She used her mouth to gently nibble his skin as she ran her hand along his side. Her leg was caressing his as she rubbed against his erect manhood. Sully woke to the most pleasant feelings as he froze to let her continue. She rose up above him and gently kissed him, "Good morning…...husband," she smiled. Good morning my beautiful, lovely, intelligent, passionately loving wife." She paused, how did she get so lucky. Michaela rocked back, and took him in her hand, guiding him into her. Her muscles contracted and she closed her eyes, relishing the feeling of him. He watched her with love. Once she relaxed,her hand moved to his chest and she started to rock gently. He took her hips in his hands and guided her movements. Michaela closed her eyes and bit her bottom lip. He made her feel more than she could ever imagine. Sully was enjoying the steady rhythm as he grew closer and closer to completion. Suddenly it was too much and he braced himself as he sat up and took over, adding a firm but gentle intensity to their pleasure. Her breast were before him and he took one in his hand as his other hand moved to her backside. Michaela could feel him so close to a release, it brought her closer as well. He was solid against her and pleasurably thrusting and just before they both came over the edge, he wrapped his arms around her and pressed their bodies together thrusting hard. Their cries of passion buried into each other, and they remained in this embrace for some time. Finally, both realizing that they should find nourishment for their bodies and needing to return home, they dressed and bid farewell to Cloud Dancing and Snowbird.

Michaela was radiant, her skin glowed and Sully sat proudly upon his horse as they made their way back home. His arms wrapped around her, holding her dearly. Hints of auburn, shining in the sunlight, cascaded down her golden, dark, copper hair. He leaned in and kissed her neck as they rounded the corner in front of the homestead. Michaela blushed and a smile pulled the corners of her mouth, she closed her eyes and sighed. She heard the latch on the door open as the Cooper children came out to welcome them home. Things were different now, they were finally a family. She opened her eyes and there he was, Brian was the first one out the door. He was truly making a miraculous recovery. Sully looked past her shoulder, smiled, and gave her a reassuring hug as he saw his new family come out of the homestead. He and Michaela were about to share the good news, and they would soon find comfort in knowing that he had promised himself to them as well. The responsibilities that Ethan had abandoned were now safely in Sully's care. He was committed to helping raise them and support them, as a father should.