For personal use and select distribution only (c) August 1998 by Amy Grossman

Life and Death
by Amy Grossman

The night slowly closed in as Michaela settled in to bed. She had just put Katie down to sleep and sent Brian and Colleen off to bed. Now as she lie still, she noticed her heart was beating excitedly-Sully was due home any minute. He had gone to talk to Cloud Dancing at the reservation to warn him of the army, which was comming any day now. She longed to feel the warmth of Sully's strong arms wrapped around her body. They were going to try for another baby tonight; Michaela longed to give Sully a son he wanted so desperately. She saw the love in his eyes as he taught Brian how to hunt and how to be a man, but Brian wasn't his own flesh and blood, although Sully never treated him any differently. With those loving thoughts of her husband, Michaela slowly drifted off to sleep.

Michaela awoke with a start. She reached over to grab on to Sully, but all she felt were cold sheets, still untouched. An uneasy feeling coursed through her veins.

"Sully!" she cried out. She knew he was in trouble. Michaela jumped out of bed and threw on a nightdress over the chamisole, which was Sully's favorite. As she headed out the door of the homestead, she made a quick decision to grab her medicine bag just in case Sully was hurt. She knew the kids wouldn't be up till dawn, which, judging from the incredible darkness, wouldn't be for quite awhile. Michaela decided not to take her horse because she knew she wouldn't be able to climb the rugged hills towards the reservation and she needed to find Sully right away.

As she set off into the woods, all she could think about was bringing her husband home to her safely. Her connection with him was so strong, sometimes she could feel his emotions. Right now, all that coursed through her veins was fear, and Michaela knew that was a bad sign.

Michaela hiked up the trail for miles until she heard voices up the path from her. She slowly crept up and peered through the brush. There, her heart suddenly dropped; she tried hard not to cry out. There she saw Sully, his hands tied behind his back tightly. Two men stood in front of him, holding guns to his chest.

"I don't like half-breeds!" one man shouted in Sully's face.

"I am not a half-breed! Please, I'll give you all my money and supplies if you'll let me go. I have a family that needs me! My wife needs me!" Sully pleaded.

"Ha! Your family will be better off without you, half-breed. We don't need anymore indian children! Have any last words?" the second man, with a huge scar running down his arm, snarled ar Sully. Michaela's heart was racing. The thought of losing her soul mate was unbearable; she would die without him! Her thoughts raced; she knew she had to react quickly.

"Please don't do this! I am telling you, I am a white man! I have a wife and baby at home who need me!" Sully tried to struggle out of his restraints when he felt a blow to the front of his head. The man with the scar had knocked him down to the ground and had the barrel of his gun right to Sully's face. As he pulled back the trigger to shoot, a figure jumped out from the bushes and knocked the man aside.

"Noo!" Michaela screamed as she thrust her whole body against the man. All of sudden a gunshot rang out into the cool crisp night air.

"Michaela!" Sully cried out as the man toppled onto his wife. He saw that the other man had shot Michaela, and instead of going through her directly, it hit the man with the scar, exiting his chest and going through her stomach, hitting the oak tree and richocheted off, going right into the man who had first fired it, killing him and his partner in crime.

Sully ran over to Michaela, who was crumpled in a heap on the ground, the dead man with the scar still on top of her. He quickly pulled her out from under the man and realized that her nightdress was soaked in blood.

"Sully, I've been shot in the stomach, on my right side..." moaned Michaela, her hands clutching her belly. 'Oh God, help me save her! Don't let her die!' Sully screamed inside as he managed to free his hands and pulled her into his arms.

"I can't lose you are the reason I wake up everyday...I don't know what I'd do..." his voice cracked as he stroked her face. "Tell me Michaela, what should I do to fix you up?"

Michaela, drifting in and out of conciousness, murmured to her husband, "You need to stitch up the bullet wound..I believe the bullet might've just grazed my stomach, but it is very important that you stop the bleeding and apply pressure. My medicine bag is right in those bushes." Sully slowly eased her onto the soft dirt and quickly retrieved the bag. He ran back over to her in a flash, afraid if he turned his back she would be gone from him forever. She lay there very still, curled into a ball, her eyes closed. "Michaela, why did you leave the homestead? I wish you never left our bed..I wanted you to be safe from harm.." his voice trailed off as he carefully removed her nightdress. He lifted her soft long hair out of her face and saw that she was wearing his favorite chamisole. He couldn't help but break down in tears. His face paled as he looked down at her body. 'So much blood Michaela, I don't know where to start..' Sully's heart dropped as he realized he was the only one who could save his heartsong. Michaela's eyes opened at the sound of Sully's cries. She slowly raised her hand and wiped away Sully's tears.

"I woke up and reached over for you to weren't there and I knew you were in trouble. You would never leave me unless something was I set off to find you. It's a good thing I got here when I did..I couldn't bear to lose my husband..the father of my soul mate.." Michaela's voice trailed off as she drifted out of conciousness. Sully's heart broke as he stopped her bleeding and cleaned off the blood. He realized that the bullet grazed the front of her stomach, but exited through her left side. He carefully stitched her up and carried her over to the blanket he spread under the tree. That's when he saw the blood that was soaking the bottom part of her undergarmets and the ground where she had layed. Sully cried out when he realized what that was from. He remebered when Michaela had described to him what it was like when she miscarried their last child. Sully's blood ran cold through his veins when he realized that his wife had lost another baby, one she probably never even knew she was carrying, and it wad his fault again! He had kiled their baby!

"Ohhh..." Michaela moaned in pain. Sully layed another blanket over her to keep her warm for the rest of the night. He knew she wouldn't be able to make it home tonight, even with him carrying her. She had lost a lot of blood and he was unsure if she could even survive the night.

"Please, I am begging the spirits to save my heartsong! Don't let her die! Take me instead!" Sully screamed as he raised his hands to the heavens. He broke down and cried angry tears knowing he caused his wife so much pain. He layed his head on her chest and cried. "I've failed you again Michaela..I should've been at the homestead with you and the children! I'm always hurting you my dear Michaela..." He gently kissed her cheek and took her in his arms and held her tight, as if to say to the heavens that he was not going to let her go...forever.

Sully woke up to daybreak, Michaela still unconcious in his arms. "Michaela, time to be gettin' up." Sully gently tried to shake her. When she didn't respond to his calls and gentle shakes, his fears grew. He layed her slowly on the ground and felt her wrist for a pulse- he couldn't find one.

"Oh no Michaela! You can't leave me!" Sully couldn't prevent his heart from fearing the worst. He quickly put his ear onto her chest, and there he found a faint heartbeat. He let out a cry of hope and anguish as he realized he came so close to losing her. He needed to get her home as fast as he could so Colleen could fix her up better than he had. He had a tough decision to make- He could let her rest for awhile to get up enough strength to ensure her survival, but she could die of exposure or infection, or he could carry her back home, but she could die on the way if it took awhile to get her home. He dropped down to his knees beside her, "Michaela, I have to take the risk and get you home. Please, try to hold on..I couldn't bear to lose you like I..." his voice waivered as he thought about his first wife Abigail, who had died with their child. He couldn't live if Michaela left him too. He had never felt love like he did for Michaela. She meant more to him than life itself. She was the air his lungs needed to breathe...They shared an incredible bond of body and soul. He picked her up, still unconcious, and set off for home. He knew he had steep hills to carry her down from. She had saved his life back at the clearing, and now, with all his soul, he wanted to save hers.

When they arrived at a creek, he gulped down the water greedily, believing it would give him strength to get his wife home alive. He set Michaela down beside the creek and tried to pour some water down her throat. He knew that if she didn't drink some water, she would surely die from dehydration. Michaela coughed it back up and started thrashing around in Sully's arms, still unconcious. Sully's fears grew as he felt her forehead, which was burning up. 'Infection must've set in! I need to get her home quickly or she's gonna die!' Sully tried to force her mouth shut as he poured some water in and finally Michaela swallowed it down. He looked in her medicine bag and found some quinine, which he remembered from the desentery incident at the reservation a few years back that it helped bring down fevers. He forced her to swallow a few drops, which eased his mind somewhat. He knew that bought them a little more time to get her home.

Sully carried Michaela down the trail for miles until they hit trouble- dog soldiers. "Aho! I need to get my wife home to town as she is wounded." Sully informed them.

"You are a white man and you need to be killed," one dog soldier calmly stated to him. "I am friends with Cloud Dancing. Please, I need to get her home quickly or she will die!" Sully pleaded with them, to no avail. "Get him and the woman and tie them up!" ordered Feathertail, the chief soldier.

Meanwhile, back at the homestead, Katie's cries awoke Brian, who slept in the room next to hers. He quickly got out of bed and ran to check on his sister. "Katie, it's okay. I'll bring you to ma," he cooed to her as he lifted the crying baby out of the wooden crib. As he walked down the hall to his ma's room, a strange feeling crept through him. Why hadn't his ma come in to check on Katie as she normally did when the baby cried out? Brian ran into his ma's room and found only an empty bed. He then ran into Colleen's room with Katie, who was still crying.

"I told you to knock before you come runnin' in here!" Colleen rubbed her sleepy eyes as she turned to face her brother. She still didn't trust him since that peeping incident a few years back. When she saw the frantic look on her brother's face, she panicked.

"What is it Brian?"

"Ma's gone! She ain't in her bed!" Brian's voice was filled with panic.

"She's probably down at the clinic Brian. Let me take Katie while you go get ready for school." Colleen reassured him, but worry now plagued her. She knew that her ma didn't leave them alone unless something was wrong.

"Please, just let me take her home! You can follow us and I will let you kill me after I get her home safely...I give you my word!" Sully cried out in desperation. He knew that once the dog soldiers tied them up, they would be dead before dusk. He remembered how only a few years back they had kidnapped Michaela and almost raped and killed her before Sully had rescued her. He had to save her..she had so much life ahead of her and their baby needed a mother. He would've taken out his tomahawk he always carried, but he was out numbered and would have to risk Michaela's life, which he would rather die than do. The dog soldiers glanced at one another and grabbed Michaela out of Sully's arms as another soldier grabbed Sully and tied up his hands as he thrashed violently to get away.

"Michaela! Please don't hurt her! I'll kill you all!" he shouted out to them as Feathertail hit him over the head and his world went black. One soldier threw Michaela down onto the hard ground, ripping her stitches out and jarring her into conciousness.

"Sully...." she moaned as she slowly opened her eyes. She cried out when she saw the dog soldiers standing above her. She looked down at her body and saw that her chamisole was covered with fresh blood.

"Sully! Help me!" Michaela cried out to him as he lay limp on the ground. She struggled to crawl away when a dog soldier grabbed her arms and started dragging her body along the trail, ripping the skin on her tanned legs. Her screams for Sully forced him to come to and realize what they were doing with his wife.

"Michaela! Let her go!" he screamed out, struggling violently to remove the rope around his hands. He managed to get his tomahawk and slice the rope that freed him. Sully violently kicked the two dog soldiers who had tied him up before they realized he was freed. He managed to take down four more with his tomahawk.

"Drop her now!" he screamed at Michaela's captors. They both dropped her and lunged for Sully. He manged to struggle free of their grasp as Michaela lay watching helplessly, losing a lot of blood that was keeping her concious. He managed to kill both of them in the struggle before they had hurt him. After the dust settled, he ran over to his wounded wife, who was now lying motionless on the pathway.

"Michaela, you all right...?" Sully asked her softly as he rolled her on to her back. He gasped at the sight of what had happened to his wife- her once smooth tan legs were all cut up and raw, and the whole front of her was covered with fresh blood from her open wounds.

"Sully...I'm not going to make it..." Michaela told him softly, her eyes still closed. She couldn't bear to see the look on Sully's face.

"Michaela, please..I don't want to lose you..we have so much life left many more babies to make...Katie needs you..I need you..." Sully gazed into her beautiful face as she slowly opened her beautiful eyes to look at him.

"Oh Sully..I never want to leave you..I'll fight to stay alive...." Michaela told him as she felt herself succumb to weakness brought on by her significant blood loss. He bandaged her wounds to stop the bleeding and applied salve to them to prevent further infection. Then he picked her up and held her close to his chest.

"Sully..." she murmured quietly, "I was hoping we would try to make a baby last night..." Sully's heart dropped to his stomach; his face drained of colour and he stooped walking.

"Sully what's wrong? Don't you want another baby?" Pain ripped through his heart. 'Should I tell her now? Is she too weak to handle the news? Would she be angry if I didn't tell her till later?' It killed Sully to have to tell her in this condition, but he knew it had to be done. She had a right to know.

"Sully, what are you keeping from me? Please, we promised no secrets between us." Michaela didn't know if she wanted to hear what was hurting her husband. Did she look that awful? Would her baby even recognize her? He set her down gently on some soft grass and sat himself directly across from her, looking deep into her pain-filled eyes. 'She is so did I deserve her?' Sully's eyes filled with tears as he looked away from his wife.

"Sully, what is it? Why can't you stand to look at me? Am I that messed up?" Michaela started sobbing, upset that Sully couldn't even look at her now.

"God no are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen...I don't know how I came to deserve you..." Sully stroked her long hair. "Then what is hurting you so much?"

Michaela wiped away his tears. "Michaela..something happened while you were unconcious from the gunshot.." he started, "You must've been expectin'..I'm so sorry.." Sully slowly met her gaze and saw her eyes fill with tears.

"What are you telling me? I was pregnant? How do you know!" Michaela was shocked, confused, and wanted Sully to reassure her that he was just kidding her, although she knew in her heart he would never do something like that. She refused to accept that she had killed another baby.

"Michaela, when I picked you up after you collapsed, there was blood all over. You miscarried Michaela..." Michaela collapsed in tears as Sully scooped her up into his arms and cradled her as she went hysterical.

"I've failed again as a woman and a wife! I've killed two babies..your babies! You don't need me Sully..I can't be a real wife to you. Just leave me here and go to Katie..she is all you need!" Michaela pulled away from Sully's grasp. She gazed up blankly to the blue sky above. "I killed my baby!" Michaela moaned, closing her eyes.

"Oh God Michaela, it's not your fault; it's mine...if I hadn't been out in the woods walking home from the reservation and was at the homestead with you, this would've never happened.." Sully layed down next to Michaela and stroked the side of her face. "I'm just happy that you are alive after what happened. I need you Michaela...we need each other to survive. I couldn't bear a life without you.."

"Oh Sully, you save me in every way a person can be saved. If you hadn't stitched up my wounds, I would've died." Michaela turned to Sully and kissed him lightly on the lips. "We can get through this. We can have many more baby Sully's...I love you Michaela." Sully took her in his arms and passionately kissed her and carressed her back. After a few mintues, he pulled away from her embrace and looked at her. He saw that her eyes were no longer pain-filled but sparkling. "C'mon, let me carry ya home." he gently picked her up and carried her the rest of the way down the trail.

They finally arrived home before dusk set in, Michaela asleep in his arms. "Sully! Ma! You're home!" Brian ran towards them but stopped suddenly in his tracks when he saw his ma covered in blood.

"Brian, your ma's hurt! Go get Colleen and tell her to bring Andrew." Sully instructed him. Sully took Michaela upstairs to their bed and took off the bloodied chamisole. He gently put a new nightdress on her and got some towels and soaked them with water. In minutes, Colleen came running in the room with Andrew followed by Brian, Katie in his arms.

"What happened to ma, Sully?" cried Colleen, who was already undoing the buttons on her ma's nightdress. As Sully explained the ordeal, Colleen was hard at work with Andrew fixing up Michaela's wounds. Sully gently cleaned Michaela's face and legs with the wet towels.

When everybody was settled into their beds and Michaela was given treatment for her wounds, she lie their next to Sully in their bed, thinking about their ordeal. "Sully, you awake?" Michaela ran her fingers through his wavy hair.

"Of course. I'm just watching you lay here next to me." Sully gave her a kiss on her forehead. Michaela smiled at him and caressed his strong arms.

"I always feel safe in your arms Sully..." she murmured.

"As long as I have you in my arms Michaela, my life is complete." Sully cuddled her and Michaela fell into a soft sleep holding onto him tightly. Sully lied awake the whole night watching Michaela sleep and thanking God for her and the children.

The End