I did not see much of the last year of DQMW. It irritated me that Sully was away as much as he was. This story is what I thought would happen 6 months after Colleen's wedding. Please forgive any inconsistencies in the story or timeline. I would like to thank the sponsors of the DQMW site that has the timeline previously run by Megs (http://www.drquinnmd.com/library/nitpicks.html) for the extensive information provided there. -- ld
by Lizzie Darcy
Sully woke just after dawn. It was a clear crisp fall morning. The rain had finally stopped after days of torrential storms. He knew that he was alone in bed but he let his hand edge over to her side to be sure. It was cold. He turned on his side to face the vacant space. He could not remember the last time they spent their waking moments together. Three plus years of marriage takes it toll on any couple but the in last few months he had felt them drifting further apart. He felt himself shutting down. He used to look at their home as a safe and peaceful haven but for the first time since they were married, he wondered if there was a future for them.
Since Katie was born, over two years before, Sully had been constantly pulled away from his family by one thing or another. In the last year and a half, he had been spending increasingly less time at home. Sully had convinced himself that he was doing what he had to do and that the family understood. He had to leave to protect or defend someone or something from certain doom just as Michaela would do to help a patient. He had also convinced him self that there would be time to get their lives back on track. This morning that conviction was not so certain.
After Colleen's wedding, things seemed to be settling back into a routine for everyone but Sully. He was still struggling emotionally to accept his roll in events of the last few years. He could not forgive himself for the outbreak at the reservation and the deaths that occurred there. His relationship with Could Dancing would never be as it was, and Brian did not look to him as he once did. Katie, his daughter and the light in his eyes, barely knew him. He had missed so much of her first years. The town was different and his relationships with the people were changing. All of those problems he could work through, but he felt that his marriage was falling apart as well. Michaela felt him slipping away and tried to hold on, but he pushed her further away. He felt that the damaged caused by the loss of their second child was irreparable. He knew he could never forgive himself for not being there and could not believe that she might. In his most unguarded moments, he felt that he had caused it. Michaela never made him feel responsible, but he was afraid to touch her now, to make love with her. He never spoke of his feelings with anyone, including himself. He found excuses to be away from home.
His time with the family was strained at best. It was almost as if they were familiar strangers. Michaela had her work, Katie and her position on the town council, which seemed to fill her days and most of her evenings. Brian had his friends and Colleen and Matthew had separate lives. Sully was again beginning to feel like an outcast. Rather than find time for them to talk about their feelings, he was silent, irritable or simply gone. Michaela tried but became more resentful at each disappointed until finally she stopped trying at all. This was a time when they should have been reconnecting. Sully tried to remember the last time they had talked without being angry or short with each other - he could not.
Michaela had gone to a medical conference in Denver. She had been gone for five days and was not due back for three more. They had two very bad encounters before she left. His was angry, resentful and frustrated with her for leaving the way she did. This morning he added regret to his list of feelings and there was something else - a yearning that he had not experienced in weeks if not months. He pulled her pillow close to him and tried in vain to imagine it was she. He rolled over on his back in frustration and let out a heavy sigh. The last words they had spoken to each other were mean; it was as if they were trying to inflict pain on each other or trying to drive the final wedge between them. He would never have believed that they could treat each other in such a way. Now all he wanted was his wife back in their home and in his bed. Could they work through everything else? This morning, alone in their bed, he was not sure that they could but he knew that he did not want to give up. He hoped that she did not either. He got up and went to the window. He looked northward over the hills toward Denver and said softly to the morning sky, "Michaela! Michaela come home!"
"Sully?" Michaela whispered as she was pulled from a restless sleep. It was just after dawn in a hotel room in Denver. She rose quietly as to not disturb Dorothy. Looking out over the busy streets of Denver, she longed for home. Not just Colorado Springs and the homestead, but her home with Sully and the children. She had missed Sully and was sorry for the way they left things. She regretted leaving since the moment the train pulled out of Colorado Springs, but she forced herself to stay to make a point to her husband. The medical conference was enough to distract her during the daytime but at night and especially in the mornings her desire for home nearly over took her. This morning it did. The conference would be meeting for two more days, but she needed to go home now.
"Dorothy? Dorothy? Wake up." She whispered.
"Michaela? What's wrong?"
"Nothing is wrong. Well yes, there is something wrong. I need to get back home today. I need to see Sully - and the children."
"That is fine with me. I have had all of Denver that I can stand." Dorothy had gone with Michaela on a whim and thought that she could pick up some tips from the editor at the Denver Post, but he would not see her. Instead, she had spent the last few days wandering around Denver while Michaela was at the conference.
"Good lets get the afternoon train." She stood and moved to start packing but was stopped by Dorothy's hand.
"Michaela you have not said a word about what is going on between you two this whole time - do you want to talk about it?" Dorothy slid up to a sitting position as Michaela sat back down on the bed.
"I don't know what to say." She paused for a moment and tears filled her eyes. "We stopped talking."
"We are civil to each other - most of the time, but we don't talk anymore. It is as if we don't have anything in common."
"That is just silly. You two are made for each other. I have never known two people more committed to their marriage and family."
"I used to think so too. I know something is bothering him but I can't seem to get him to talk about it and I am afraid that I am not always as sympathetic as I should be."
"What do you mean by 'sympathetic'?"
"I mean that I am often distant and cold. This trip is a perfect example. The other morning when he returned, it felt like he had something to tell me but I didn't want to hear it. I was so hurt that he didn't - anyway that is the morning I decided to come to Denver. He tried to talk to me and he asked me not to go but ... I was very mean to him and I said some things that I wish I had not said."
"How long has this been going on?"
"Too long - but it seems like it has been since Colleen's wedding. He was gone so much of the time before that our time together was limited. We only talked about the latest crisis and how we were going to survive it. We were never able to find an even keel in our marriage. When all the crisis' were resolved - we had nothing to say to each other."
"Do you love him?"
"That has never been a question for me." She paused and thought for a moment. "I can't speak for Sully. It seems that he would rather be away from home than with me."
"Maybe this time the distance will be good for you both. I can already see a change in you."
"I hope you are right. We should get to our packing or we will miss the train."
Sully turned back from the window to their empty bed. He resolved that when she returned in two days that they would work out all their differences and find their way back to each other no matter what it took. He would have Colleen and Andrew take Brian and Katie for a few days until they could talk things out. Sully was determined that their marriage was the first order of business and nothing could make him change his mind, not even Michaela. From across the hall he heard Katie waking up and he went to tend to his daughter. Sully was dressing Katie when Colleen walked into the room. She had come to stay with them during Michaela's absence. Andrew was also at the conference. "I can do that for you Sully."
"We are fine. Aren't we Katie?" Katie laughed and clung to her father's neck. "In fact, why don't you leave Katie with me today? I can watch her. Andrew will be home this morning and you two should spend the day together."
"Don't you have a lot of work to do Sully?"
Brian walked in from the hall. "Yeah, Pa I thought you were going to redo the shelves in the pantry today."
"I can do both."
"Are you sure?" Colleen noticed the obvious change in Sully's attitude and tried to repress her smile. Since Michaela had left, Sully was annoyed at every thing that anyone did that Michaela would normally do. This morning however, he was more like his old self. "I don't mind keeping her with me Sully. I'll be at the clinic all day."
"I know you don't mind. In fact, I am going to impose on you to take care of Katie and Brian for a couple of days after your Ma gets back."
"You are not mad at her anymore - are you Pa?" Brian's innocence still always cut straight to the heart of the matter and made Sully see things with fresh eyes.
"I was not mad at your ma." Sully saw that there was no use denying it to these kids. He sat down in the rocking chair with his daughter in his lap and pulled Brian close to his knee. "Well maybe I was. Maybe I was just mad at myself. Sometimes people are caught up in what they are telling themselves that they forget what is important. I think it is time we all slow down. Families are hard work and members of the family need to be reminded ever so often that they are loved and respected. I guess I needed a few days without her at home to remind me how much she means to me and to all of us."
"Ma will sure be pleased when she gets back and sees all the chores you did." During Michaela's absence, Sully had worked at the homestead harder than he had building it. He had nearly completed all the little things that he had never found time for before and all the things that Michaela had been asking for. He smiled thinking that she would be very surprised with what he had accomplished in her absence. He laughed at himself for doing it all without thinking about the effect it would have on her - at least not consciously.
"Yeah. Kids, sit down for a second. I need to apologize to the three of you." He kissed the top of Katie's head. "I have not been there for you in the past and I promise you that I will be there from now on."
"Sure you have Pa." Brian would deny anything that anyone said against his parents.
"Thank you for saying so - but it is true. A lot has been happening to all of us in the past couple of years. Much of it was great and some of it was bad. There were changes taking place that I could not look away from but I never expected the first years that we spent as a family to be so unsettling. When I married your Ma and we became a family - I wanted us to be a real family and provide you with a safe home."
"Sometimes things don't turn out like you planned." Brian was trying to help Sully but Sully needed to apologize.
"Sully - Pa - I can't say that everything was easy but there was always love and trust. That is more than a lot of kids get from their parents." Colleen was definitely growing up and turning into a fine woman.
"I do love you all. And I am very proud of you." It was probably one of the few times that Sully actually said the words to the kids.
The kids smiled and almost in unison said, "We love you too."
"If you ever need to talk to me, you know that I am always ready to listen." They nodded. "Ok, now let's get some breakfast and I'll take you two to town. I need to pick up some wood. Colleen, Andrew's train will be in at 9AM right?" Colleen nodded. "Then we better get a move on." Katie started to fuss in his arms and Colleen went to take her from him but he motioned to her that he would finish getting his daughter ready. Colleen smiled and leaned in to give him a kiss on the cheek. Sully had found something to believe in again. He did love his family, now he just needed to get Michaela home.
Michaela stood in the telegraph office trying to figure out what to say. She had no idea if Sully would still be as angry or if missed her. This uneasiness was preventing her from saying what she really wanted to say. She wanted to apologize and tell him how much she loved him. The distance between them was preventing her from doing what she wanted to do. She wanted to run into his arms and apologize for every unkind thing that she had ever said or done. She remembered the last words they had spoken to each other and cringed at how angry she had been.
"Sully, I am a doctor. I need to keep up with the latest research. You did not expect that I would give up my life's work after Katie was born did you?"
"You are also a mother -- and a wife or have you forgotten that?"
"How could I have forgotten. I have been both mother and father for the past two years." She shot him a look that was meant to maim. "I don't understand why this is such a problem. Why won't you support me in this? All I want to do is go to a conference and learn something. I am going away for my job. You don't even have the excuse anymore! You go off to save everything from a river to the spotted owl - putting your life in the gravest of danger time and time again. I am supposed to support you, no matter the cost to m- this family." That stung and it was meant to.
"I told you I had to go to St. Louis to file my final report." Sully was becoming angrier. "That is not the point anyway. We need to talk. We need to figure out what is going on between us."
"Oh so now you are ready to talk. Well I am sorry Sully but I have something more pressing to take care of just now."
"Oh I forgot, I am not supposed to have any needs, I am supposed to be the dutiful wife defending her husband at any cost. You clearly haven't need top talk to me in months - why now?" He shot her a look that was unreadable but would have been censored if it were. "I suppose you want me to always be at home waiting for you should you deign to grace us with your presence for more than 15 minutes? I am supposed to cook for you and bare you children and keep a home that you hate."
"Hate?! You are being unfair. You know that I only go when I have to. You said that you understood. You can't accept that I too have beliefs that I have to live by; that there are some things that I have to do. You expect me to play by your rules."
"This is ridiculous! You have never played by anyone's rules but your own."
"You have always wanted to change me into --"
"I have NEVER asked you to be anything different than what you are?" There was a silence as both realized that they were not making any sense. Michaela was the first to jump back in to defend her position. "Tell me Sully what exactly have you given up to be in this marriage? What was your compromise? You come and go like our home is a hotel. You never have time for the kids - or me for that matter." A pause in her rant nearly gave Sully the opportunity to walk out the door. "When was the last time you spent any time with Brian? He needs you - he needs a father. And Katie is never sure who you are when you walk in the door."
Michaela was out of control and saying things that she knew were not true and using ammunition that never should be used. They were both going around in circles. "That is untrue." Sully said very softly.
"Fine! I am wrong - as usual - and you are right - again." Hot tears were welling up in her eyes but she refused to let them fall. "I am sorry Sully if I don't live up to your ideal of the perfect wife - but as you have said to me on more than one occasion: You can't change people. I guess I have to agree with you - finally."
"I have never said that I wanted you to change who you are. I have never expected that you would give up your doctoring. I just think that a week in Denver away from your family is too much. Especially now."
"Why because you will have to stay home and be both mother and father to your family? GOOD! It might make you realize what I go through each time you take off for days on end."
The knock at the door ended their quarrel but not their anger.
"Are you ready to go Michaela?" Dorothy was standing in the doorway. Her smile quickly faded when the tension in the room struck her. She stepped away from the door out of earshot. Michaela looked at Sully who was ready to explode. She picked up her bag and walked toward him. He turned away. She shook her head and headed for the door.
"Michaela don't go! We need to talk." His tone was commanding and arrogant. She turned and looked directly through him.
"I will see you in a week. We will finish this then."
"Michaela! Michaela I forbid it!" As soon as the words left his mouth, he knew that he had gone too far. She shot him a look that would have sunk a lesser man to his knees. She turned on her heel and the door was slammed behind her. The wall shook so hard that the shingle that Sully had carved for her when she first moved to Colorado Springs fell off the wall and broke. Michaela did not notice and walked toward the train.
As the train pulled away from the station, she saw Sully watching her from the edge of the woods. He was holding the pieces of the broken shingle in his hands. Their eyes met. Each was forcing themselves to stand firm in their opinion. He turned away from her and flung the pieces into the woods. Her heart sank immediately. One part of her would have stopped the train and run to him but something inside of her was forcing her to stand firm.
Dorothy had already written her wire to Loren and was not so patiently waiting for Michaela. Her voice pulled her from her memories. "Michaela if you take any longer writing that note we will be home and you can tell him yourself." She smiled. Her resolve for going home was now shaken. She worried that he might not even be there to receive the wire. Michaela wrote:
Coming home today. 3PM train.
She looked at the two of their names on the paper and added "Sully" after hers. She handed the note to the clerk and paid for the wire.
"Do you feel better Dr. Mike?"
"I'll feel better when I know that Sully and I are on speaking terms again."
Michaela smiled and looked away. She silently wondered if she would ever be able to talk about relations with her husband with anyone else without becoming embarrassed. "Come on the train leaves in a couple of hours. We have time to get some breakfast and maybe pick up one more thing for that little girl of yours. She is getting so big." Michaela quickly thought that she wanted to bring something home for Sully but had no idea what her reception would be like.
The two women were heading across the street to a little coffee shop when a young doctor from the conference called to them.
"Dr. Quinn, you are not leaving are you?"
"I am, Dr. Madison. We need to get back to Colorado Springs today." This Dr. Madison had been hanging around Michaela since the start of the conference. She tried to make him understand that she was a married woman but he would make efforts to sit with her at the lectures and always asked her to have dinner with him. She was beginning to get annoyed at his persistence.
"I am sorry to hear that. I was to give my seminar today and I was hoping to hear your thoughts on it."
"I am sorry. But I really need to get back to my husband and my family."
"I understand. Can I give you some papers to read on the train? They are at my hotel just around the corner. There is a wonderful café right next door where I would be honored to take you ladies to breakfast." The women agreed reluctantly and followed him to his hotel to retrieve the papers.
Sully drove through town and left the buckboard outside the clinic. He carried Katie as if she were lighter than a feather. He was headed over to Loren's for the wood and then it was back to work on the homestead. As he was passing the telegraph office, he heard Horace's voice call to him.
"Sully - Sully I'm glad you came to town this morning. Telegram just came in for you. Good news from Dr. Mike." Sully took the message from him. He read the note several times before the meaning sunk in. She was coming home. He noticed her signature. He assumed it was a mistake, but he was glad that she was coming home today. "Like I said Sully - good news."
"Very good. Thank you Horace." His broad smile lit his face and he reached out and pressed Horace's shoulder.
"Sully?" Sully had inadvertently had placed his finger on the signature letting his eyes read the words - "Michaela Quinn Sully." She had never used his name before. "That is just the way it came in Sully. I did not change a letter." Horace protested.
"I am sure you didn't Horace. Thank you."
"I know I am not supposed to read the telegrams - or at least comment on them, but that train is always late. It usually does not get here until 4:00 or 4:30."
"Thanks again." Sully smiled and tucked the note into his pocket. He was all of a sudden charged with energy. He had less than 6 hours to get ready for her return - he would be there at 3PM sharp. He went to the clinic to speak with Colleen for a moment. He told her that her Ma was coming home and that he needed them to take care of Brian and Katie for a few days. Colleen smiled and told him that they would stay away until he came for them and that she would watch the clinic for Dr. Mike too. Sully went home to finish a couple things and get the house ready for her return.
At home, he was working like there was a fire under him. The house was cleaned and dusted and fires laid and waiting for a match. He quickly finished the shelves in the pantry and picked some wild flowers for their room and the living room. He laid out his favorite nightgown of hers on the bed. He put the tools he had been using for the last couple of days away in the barn and tended to the live stock. Throughout most of his work, Katie was strapped into a papoose on his back. She liked be carried around with him and he had forgotten how much he loved keeping her close. When it was time for her morning nap, he laid her out on a blanket under the big oak tree. She was asleep in seconds. Sully placed pillows around her so that she would not roll away. He watched her for a moment and believed that she was beginning to look more like her mother every day.
His thoughts shifted to Michaela. The last words he remembered her saying to him were: "I am sorry Sully if I don't live up to your ideal of the perfect wife." Did she really believe that? Those words had stung in his ears for the past several days. He could not shake them. He forced himself to believe that she was speaking in anger and that she really did not mean what she said. How could they have gotten so out of sync? He could imagine no other woman fulfilling so many of his hopes and dreams and bringing him such joy. He trusted her more than he did his own self. Life with Michaela was not easy - that was true. She was very insecure about her roles as wife and mother, but she met each day with the overwhelming desire to do the right thing. She challenged him; she challenged everyone including herself to be more. He respected her as a person, a woman, a mother, a doctor, a friend and his wife. He never intended to let her down as he had and he never believed that she had let him down.
The day Sully allowed himself to love her - really love her - his life started a new. He found a home that day. He remembered it as clearly as if it were yesterday. He asked her to marry him and she agreed without a moment's thought. He knew then with a faith that was unshakable that she was the one woman he was meant to build a life with. Everything was so clear to him then. It seemed that almost as soon as he made that choice - to follow his heart - the rest of the world did everything it could to interfere. The train arriving in Denver brought nothing but trouble time and time again. From the removal of the Cheyenne to the reservation and the killings at Washita through the uprising at the reservation on and on and on, Sully was pulled in so many directions.
Sully went to chop some more wood, soon it would be time to pick her up at the station. His mind was full of the things he wanted to tell her. He was trying to figure out what he would say to her and how he would say it. Nothing and everything was spinning through his mind. More than that it was full of images of the way he wanted to be with her. He was concentrating so hard that he did not notice Horace until he was pulling up his horse to stop by the fence.
"Sully! Sully! Sully!"
"Take it easy Horace. Can I get you some water?" Horace shook his head and grabbed Sully's arm.
"Dr. Mike- Miss Dorothy."
"What about Dr. Mike?" Sully was now alerted.
"The bridge gave out. It must have been all the rain."
"Horace what are you saying?"
"The bridge - the one south of Denver near Cherry Creek- the one over the gorge- it gave out-the train-."
"What the train can't get through?"
"No Sully - listen to me. The train was on the bridge when it gave out. Sully it slid down into the gorge." Sully realized that Horace was trying to tell him that something bad happened to Michaela's train but the idea and the words did not make any sense. "I'm sorry Sully. I just got word." Sully was shaking his head.
"Horace - Horace! Slow down and tell me what you are trying to say."
"The Denver train - the one with Miss Dorothy and Dr. Mike - was on the bridge - the one near Cherry Creek - when it gave out. The train went down into the gorge." Sully's look of confusion was replaced with one of utter disbelief. He was walking in circles around Horace.
"Are you sure?" Horace nodded and handed Sully the telegram that he had received.
Colorado Springs SM #5. Bridge washed out at Cherry Creek. Denver Train #618 rolled down into the ravine. Rescue party dispatched. All passengers and crew presumed dead. All trains from and to Denver cancelled through Colorado Springs until further notice. Denver SM #32
"I got the news just now and I came out directly. I did not talk with Loren yet. I'll need to. Oh my god!" The reality of the news sunk into Horace and his knees buckled. He was sitting on the ground with his head down trying to catch his breath. He was coughing and wheezing. He was just about to pass out.
Sully still had the axe in his hand. He did not know what to do and he felt the muscles in his arm tighten. From over by the oak tree he heard Katie waking up. He dropped the axe and went to get his daughter. As soon as he picked her up, he became unusually calm. He tucked the telegram into his belt next to the one he received that morning. He wrapped Katie in a blanket and put her back in the papoose. Horace was now standing by his horse. In a very even tone Sully told Horace what to do. "Ride out to Matthew's and tell him what you have just told me. I will go into town. I will tell Loren." He thought to himself that he must tell Colleen and Brian too.
"I am sorry, Sully."
"Go now Horace." Sully had mounted his horse and he was headed for town. He did not allow himself to think about the accident. Each time he closed his eyes the words from the telegram appeared in his mind: PRESUMED DEAD. He tried not to blink as his eyes filled with hot tears. He fought them back and by time he had reached Loren's store he was in control.
"Loren - I need to talk to you." Loren was too happy about Dorothy coming home that he did not notice Sully's obvious seriousness.
"Did you hear the news Sully? Dorothy and Dr. Mike are coming back today." His statement made Sully wince.
"Loren sit down." Loren did immediately. Sully's tone was so commanding. "Loren there has been an accident. The train that they were on..." He could not say the words. "There has been an accident."
"Sully - what are you saying?" Sully took a deep breath and forced the words to come.
"The bridge at Cherry Creek washed out. The train that Michaela and Dorothy were on went off the bridge. They don't expect to find any survivors." Sully was silent for a while hoping that Loren would say something but he was struck dumb. Sully resolved what he was to do as the words were leaving his mouth. "I am going to there. I'll be back as soon as I can. Watch out for Brian and Katie." Sully had nothing else to say and any other words would have made the whole thing too real. He left the shop and Loren's head was spinning. Sully went to the clinic and asked Colleen and Andrew to come with him to the school to get Brian out. They followed without a question but were very concerned. He took them to the meadow - they were unusually quiet probably due to Sully's demeanor.
"I am going to Denver. I don't know how long I will be gone. You will need to look after each other and Katie." With that he pulled Katie out of the papoose and handed her to Colleen. "You need to know that there was an accident. The train from Denver - the bridge at Cherry Creek gave way - the train was on the bridge." Colleen started to silently cry and clutched Katie to her. Brian was in total disbelief. Andrew was about to say something about the train that he was on that morning but chose to keep his silence.
"What are you saying? Ma? Where is Ma?" Sully knelt down next to Brian. Looking in the boy's eyes took every ounce of strength he had. "Sully? What happened to Ma? She is not coming home for 2 days."
"She was coming home today Brian. She was on the train." Brian wrapped his arms around Sully's neck but did not cry. Sully was grateful that he did not have to look in his eyes any more and held him very tightly. Sully pulled Colleen into the hug. There were no words spoken and Sully was holding all his fears in check trying to be strong for the children. Matthew rode up as if he were in a race. He went directly to Sully and was looking beseechingly into his face hoping to see that what Horace had told him was wrong. The two men hugged. Sully was fighting back the tears. He could not stay with his family any longer or he would start to believe the worst.
"Matthew I have to go to -. Please watch out for the kids."
"I am going with you."
"No - stay with the kids! I need to know that you are here with them." Grace came up to the group and wrapped her arms around the three youngest. Robert E was right behind her. Grace led the children away to let the men talk.
"Sully?" Robert E was looking at him with concern on his face.
"I am going to her. I am going to bring Michaela and Dorothy home."
"Sully don't be talking crazy. There is nothing you can do." Andrew was trying to be rational but Sully would have none of it.
"You don't know that. She could be hurt and waiting for me. They need me. I have to go."
"I will go with you." Andrew again too little too late. Sully waved him away. He started to walk away but Robert E caught his arm.
"Don't be a fool. THEY need you Sully." Robert E was pointing at the children standing with Grace. "Those kids need their father now."
"They need their mother. Please - I am wasting time." Sully walked over to Grace and took Katie from her. He kissed her gently on the head and handed her back to Colleen. He touched both of the other children on their checks and promised to be back soon. He called to wolf and sprinted off to get his horse. He was gone without another word.
Matthew and Robert E were dumbfounded. They looked at each other and knew that they had to go with him without exchanging a word. The reverend appeared in the doorway to the school. The scene he saw made him tell the students to stay seated for a little while.
"We'll meet you on the road to Denver." Matthew called to Robert E as he mounted his horse. He started to ride out of town when his thoughts turned to his brother and sisters. He rode back and dismounted. The reverend witnessed the exchange between the children. "I have to go with Sully. I don't know what we are going to find. I need to go so we can bring them back. Do you understand?"
"Do you think Ma and Miss Dorothy are going to be alright? Maybe they weren't on that train. Maybe they will be OK?"
"Brian - there is nothing I would pray for harder than that Dr. Mike and Miss Dorothy were not on that train - Are you going to be OK if I go? Do you know why I have to go?" The kids nodded but the tears in their eyes were welling up again. "I'll be back as soon as I can and I will try to get word to you soon." They nodded. He pulled them to him and hugged them very tightly. "Grace-?"
"Don't worry Matthew. I'll take real good care of everyone." Robert E was standing behind Grace she turned to him and nodded through her tears. It was a sign that she knew he had to go too. She reached out her hand to him and let all their fears and hopes pass through their fingers. Colleen nodded to Andrew and the three men left. The reverend, Grace and the children watched them go.
Matthew rode out to get Cloud Dancing and Robert E went to get supplies and a horse for Cloud Dancing. It would be at least a 5-hour trip to the gorge maybe more because of all the rain and they knew Sully had gone with nothing. As Robert E and Andrew were leaving Loren's, Jake and Hank were ready to ride with their horses as well.
"Where do you think we are going?" Robert E said with a tone of irritation. He knew that Sully would not want this to be yet another expedition with Hank and Jake bucking every decision. Hell, Sully did not want anyone with him so --.
"No where without us" was Hank's only comment. They were resolved.
"We don't know what we will find when we get there." Jake waved his hand in an after-you gesture to let Robert E know that he was leading them. Robert E shook his head and mounted his horse and the three of them left town to catch up with Sully. The eyes of the town watched as the men rode out. Loren was standing in front of his store alone, Grace, the children and the reverend were watching from the café, Horace and Myra from the platform of the train station. Each said a silent prayer.
Matthew had found Cloud Dancing hunting. He told him what happened but Cloud Dancing did not believe that Michaela or Dorothy were gone.
"I have seen nothing from the Spirits that would let me believe that they were in danger." Cloud Dancing had grown very close to Dorothy over the past several months and thought about her often.
"They weren't supposed to be on that train. They were coming home early. Please Cloud Dancing, Sully is going to need his best friend. We are going after him to bring him back."
"Sully must find his own way back, as must we all. I will go with you."
"Yes now. I will need a horse."
"Robert E is bringing you one."
The two men set off on Matthew's horse. They met up with Andrew, Hank, Jake and Robert E north of town. Cloud Dancing mounted the horse that Robert E had brought for him. Little was said.
"Sully will be following the train tracks." Was Cloud Dancing's only comment his feelings were tied up with thoughts of Dorothy. The men nodded and followed in single file. They kept a steady pace all day. They knew that Sully had at least an hour's lead on them and that he was probably riding much more quickly. They had to assume that they would catch up to him in the early evening.
Sully had ridden as hard as the conditions would allow. The previous days' rain had produced run-offs and very unstable ground. His horse found it difficult to maintain a top-speed and slipped and stumbled often. He followed the railway and the only thought in his mind was how much he hated the sight of those rails. He could not let his mind think about what he might find when he got to the sight of the accident. He could not imagine finding Michaela. He could not even hope to believe that she might still be alive. Every time his thoughts turned in that direction he kicked his horse harder to keep him moving. It was three hours after he had left Colorado Springs when his horse stumbled a final time and fell. Sully was thrown onto the rails slamming his shoulder on to the track. His hands and arms were cut and the pants above his knee were ripped exposing his bare skin to the gravel and railroad ties. He had been riding so fast that he must have slid ten feet before coming to rest. His adrenaline was pumping so hard he stood up immediately but the pain in his leg forced him to sink back on to the track. He hurt all over and he was shaking. He put his head in his hands and fought back his pain and fears.
After many minutes trying to rest from the trauma, Sully tried again to stand. He could not. He looked to his leg. Nothing looked broken and the cut was not deep. His heart was still racing and he was still shaking. He decided that he should stay still for a few minutes more. He had not even noticed the cut on his head until the blood dripped into his eyes and blinded him for a moment. He pulled his kerchief from his neck and wiped his brow. He pulled it away and it was soaked with blood. Michaela had given that kerchief to him the spring before Katie was born. He touched his shoulder and felt that there was nothing so damaged there that he should stop. He felt his frustration building.
His anger turned to his horse, Shadow. Shadow was a horse he had saved from death when the army had decided to put him down because he could not be saddle-broke. Sully had literally pulled the rifle away from the soldier who was going to shoot him. Shadow was a large jet-black stallion with bright yellow eyes and a long flowing mane that Brian brushed daily. Sully had always treated him with respect and took excellent care of him. Michaela had said that the horse loved Sully not only for saving his life but also for never putting a saddle on him. The last several months Sully and the horse had spent a lot of time together traveling for the government. Sully was beginning to believe that there was a bond between them. He never needed to direct the horse it was as if he knew where Sully wanted to go. Now he felt that Shadow had betrayed him.
Shadow was standing near Sully shifting his weight from one hoof to another. He was cut above the left shoulder and blood was dripping down his leg. His eyes were wild and he was soaked with sweat. He was snorting and breathing very heavily through the foam that had collected around his mouth. He moved toward Sully as if to let him mount. Sully's anger dissipated, and he believed that the horse knew that something was wrong and that he had let Sully down. Sully was able to stand up carefully and stroked the horse's face.
"We both need a rest eh boy? We all do." Sully looked at Wolf who had been lying down panting for the entire time that they were stopped. It was then that Sully realized that his canteen was less than 1/3 full and he did not have any food or provisions at all. He did not have his coat either. He slowly limped toward the edge of the woods to see what he could see. Shadow was not more than a step behind him and the wolf leapt ahead. On the other side of the track, Sully knew there would be a river and he slowly walked toward it. The three rested under the shade of a tree after Sully had cleaned himself and Shadow up. He was ready to head out again in 30 minutes but felt that he should rest the horse a little while longer. As soon as Sully showed any kind of agitation Shadow perked up and was stamping the ground with his hoof.
"If you are ready than I am." Sully filled the canteen. He had a hard time mounting this tall animal, but Shadow waited patiently and motionless as Sully pulled himself up through the pain. His shoulder hurt badly and his leg was so stiff that it would be impossible to hold on at the speed they had been riding. Sully was frustrated and was moments away from screaming to the heavens. Shadow must have sensed Sully's uneasiness on his back. He set out at a pace that was easy for Sully to maintain and his ride was steady and even.
Horace went over to Grace's café in the early afternoon with a note in his hand. Several members of the town had gathered there to wait for news. He read it quietly to the group. "A rescue train was dispatched to the site shortly after the accident was reported. No word yet on survivors." Horace could not meet Brian or Colleen's eyes. He turned slowly and walked back to the telegraph office. He was not going to leave his post for more than a moment until the final word was heard. Brian called after him.
"Horace - do they know if Ma and Miss Dorothy were on that train?"
"I don't know Brian." Horace was almost in tears. "I will wire them and tell them that we are waiting on news about Dr. Mike and Miss Dorothy."
Brian got up and walked over to Loren. He stood next to the old man and placed his hand on Loren's shoulder. Without thinking Loren pulled Brian close to him and buried his face in the young man's chest. Katie cried softly and Grace tried to comfort her. Colleen sat alone with the eyes on Pike's Peak. She thought of the strength of spirit that her mother and Miss Dorothy had and tried to convince herself that they would be ok. The reverend was holding his bible and praying. No one made an effort to speak.
The pace was too slow for Sully. It gave him too much time to think. He rode for several more hours at that speed until it grew too dark to see that path. The three rescuers stopped again. Sully would wait for the moon before they set out again. Sitting in the dark of the evening and waiting for the moon to rise nearly drove Sully crazy. He was exhausted and in a lot of pain but his mind was still racing. Finally he picked a point on the northward horizon and focused his mind on that spot. He was asking the spirits for guidance. The stress of the day over took him and he fell into an uneasy combination of sleeping -- remembering - dreaming - and waking.
The images in his mind were jumbled and flashing very quickly - none of them were comforting. Michaela turning away from him as she rode to town. Michaela taking Katie out of his arms and not meeting his eye. Michaela brushing past him on her way into the house with an armload of wood. The slight turns of her head as he leaned down to kiss her. The temporary fix on the shelf in the kitchen to keep it level. Michaela getting out of bed in the middle of the night to check on Katie and not returning. There were many more but there was one common thread - she looked defeated and lonely. She looked like the fight had gone out of her - at least the fight for him. It was in this unguarded state between sleeping and waking that a particular interaction forced its way to the surface in vivid detail.
It was 3 days before she left for Denver. He returned from a trip to St. Louis very late in the evening - actually it was after midnight. He had been away for nearly seven days and had been expected the day before. Michaela had left a lantern on for him. By the door were some clean dry clothes and on the stove she left some stew warming. He came in quietly and took a long look around his home - a place he had not spent much time. The room was alive with images of family dinners, Colleen studying, Brian writing and Katie crawling on the floor. He could place himself in none of these visions. He changed, ate the stew and left his dishes for morning. He looked in on Brian and on Katie before silently entering their bedroom. Michaela appeared to be sleeping very soundly. The light from the moon lit her face and made it glow. Sully stood over the bed watching her sleep for a long time. She was his reason for leaving and his reason for coming home. The events of the last year and a half were clear in his mind and he felt as if he had let everyone down especially his wife. During his ride home from St. Louis, he realized he let himself down the most. He needed to find a way to deal with that.
She stirred in her sleep and he moved away from the bed to the rocking chair by the fire. Staring into the flames, he had a vision of Cloud Dancing. He stood quietly for a moment and then reached out his arm to Sully. As they gripped, Cloud Dancing said "A man does not live in yesterday or tomorrow. A man can only control what he does and what he believes." Then he was gone. Sully stayed up for hours remembering and anticipating all the events of his life. It rejuvenated his belief in himself and brought his heart and his desire back home. In the hour just before dawn, he resolved to stay home and be part of this family that he helped to create. He wanted to live up to the ideals that he laid out for himself before life got in the way. He would find a way to back to what he and Michaela had had in the beginning. He would find a way to accept all the wrongs that had been done.
His gazed turned back to Michaela. She was the key and the answer to his quest. He longed to touch her and to hold her close to him to make love with her, but he chose to hold those desires in check until he could look her in the eye and make his renewed vow. He did not want her to confuse his lust for his love and commitment.
Sully remained in the chair by the fire and drifted off to sleep. When he awoke, Michaela was not in bed. She was in the kitchen doing his dishes from the night before and making breakfast for Katie and Brian. He joined her before the kids had come down stairs.
"You are awake. I am sorry I did not mean to wake you." Her first words to him in almost a week were apologies. "We will all be out of here soon so you can sleep without being disturbed. You must be tired." She kept herself busy and always with her eyes averted. Her tone was not angry or spiteful it was full of pain and anguish. Sully felt the words cut right through his newfound resolve.
"I got home very late last night." He started to explain but she cut him off.
"It must have been a very tough ride with the weather turning like that. I am glad to see that you ate the stew. I thought you might need something to warm yourself after such a long ride."
"The stew was excellent thank you." Her politeness was the only thing keeping this conversation going.
"How have things been around here?" Sully needed to say something but that was not it.
"Fine. Everything is fine. Everyone is fine. Brian-" she went off on some school project that Brian had been working on very hard. Sully did not hear the words. He was only focused on the fact that his wife could not look him in the eye. Katie's voice interrupted them. "Oh dear - she is hungry this morning. You would not believe that little girl's appetite." Sully put his hand on her wrist as she went to pass him to get to her daughter. She stopped and was forced to look at him. She was uncomfortable with his touch and surprisingly enough his familiarity.
"Michaela?" The question was full of emotion and concern but not enough meat for her to interpret.
"Katie's hungry." She grew more irritated with his unuttered concern and freed her arm. Sully was left in the kitchen not knowing what to do. He had been away so much in the last several months he was not sure what the morning routine was much less how he could talk to his wife. Brian came bounding down the stairs happy to see his Pa, just as Sully was following Michaela up the stairs. He felt guilty for accepting Brian's welcome but remained downstairs with his son.
"Are you home for a while now Pa?" Brian kept asking. "I want to show you what I have been working on for school."
"I am home. Home to stay." Michaela entered from the stairs. She had heard his last remark and did not believe it. She put Katie down at the table and sat down next to her. Sully came and knelt down next to her. He touched his daughter's face and tried to notice all the changes that she had made in a week. He spoke in soft tones for only Michaela to hear. "She is beautiful - just like her mother." Michaela was not in the mood to be complimented by this man.
"I think she had more of her father in her than her mother. As soon as she is done eating, she likes to be put down and left alone. She does not like to be confined or held in anyway." Sully felt the verbal slap and backed away. He did not know how to respond. He had not envisioned the morning taking this turn of events. Brian engaged him again and he watched her from a distance.
Eventually Michaela had to go back up stairs to get ready for work and that left her alone in their room. She was half dressed in a skirt and an undershirt. He entered and wrapped his arms around her from behind. "I missed you." He said and kissed her neck. She said nothing. Her silent treatment finally got to him and he released his hold on her. "Michaela you have to talk to me." She said nothing and pulled away from him to continue dressing. "I am sorry I have been away so much. That changes today."
"Fine." She continued twisting her hair and then pulling it out not liking the effect. She was seconds away from crying and was unable to effectively do her hair in the style that she wanted. She nearly threw her brush across the room but calmed herself with a deep breath.
"Please - talk to me." Finally she let her hands fall to her sides and looked up at him. The tears streaked down her face but her tone was level.
"What would you have me say Sully?"
"Tell me what is on your mind. Scold me for being gone to long. I don't know Michaela you have never been at a loss for words." He was becoming frustrated.
"I don't want to scold you and there is nothing that you could say that would change how I feel right now." She was defeated and resigned.
"How do you feel?" Sully pleaded as the distance between them became undeniable.
She took a deep breath. "Abandoned - alone - unloved and unlovable."
"That's not true." She shook her head. "Of course I love you. You are my wife and the mother of my children. You are not alone and I have not abandoned you."
"You asked me how I feel. That is how I feel."
"Michaela - we are married ---." She cut him off.
"In name only." That hurt Sully very badly. "Sully I have been working very hard to keep this family together. Do you know how hard it is to look at those children and our friends and defend you absence? It is hard enough to convince my self that you are away on business - much less anyone else. Even when you are actually home, you head is not here. Nor is your heart. Any shred of confidence I had left in us was destroyed this morning."
"When I discovered that you had come home last night and did not come to bed, to OUR bed."
"I did not want to wake you." His defense sounded weak to his own ears.
"Then you truly don't know me at all." Michaela wiped away her tears and straightened her back. She closed her eyes tightly fighting back the next onslaught of tears.
"We should talk about what we are going to do-."
"DO? What do you mean 'what we are going to do?'"
"I don't have the strength right now. It will have to wait until I get back from Denver." She pulled her hair into a ponytail and let it hang messily down her back.
"What is in Denver?"
"There is a conference that I will be attending. I hope you weren't planning another trip so soon. I leave in three days." Sully shook his head. He was not able to comprehend all that she was saying. She tried to pass by him out of the door but he was blocking it. He caught her arm and held her firmly at the elbow. It was bare skin against bare skin as their two forearms touched. She was shocked by the feeling and fixed her eyes on his arm touching hers. His scarred tanned arm holding her soft white skin. She could smell the sweat and the dirt from riding hard mixed with the perfume of the soap she used that morning. Her breath caught in her chest and Sully turned her face upward. She looked him in the eyes and tried to see her own feelings reflected there - she could not. All the emotion she had bottled up for weeks and months had been brought to a peak with that one touch. If he had pulled her to him and kissed her; made love to her all her fears, anger and disappointment would have faded to nothingness.
However, he said instead, "Please don't go to Denver." His voice was pleading and soft. "We have so much to talk about. There are so many things I need to tell you." Each syllable drove the wedge deeper between them. It was not the words nor even the feeling that was behind them - just the fact the he said anything at all that confirmed her belief that he did not want her any more. She took a position against him.
"My mind is made up. We can talk when I return." She shook his release off like a fly, picked up her shirt and walked past him into the hall. The door closed behind her and she wiped away the tears.
Sully remained in their room trying to understand what went wrong and what he could do about it. That was the last opportunity that Michaela gave him to speak openly and honestly about their lives until the day she left for Denver.
Close to midnight, Sully was brought to consciousness by the sound of horse's hooves. He stood up with a start and the stiffness of his muscles reminded him immediately where he was. Cloud Dancing was leading Matthew, Robert E, Hank and Jake down the railroad tracks. They each carried a torch or a lantern. Cloud Dancing noticed Sully first but Matthew was the first to say anything.
"Sully! I was beginning to believe that we would never find you." The two men hugged and Sully winced from the pain.
"I told you to stay at home with the kids." Matthew noticed the injuries immediately but chose not to remark about them.
"Grace and Loren are with them Sully." Robert E was trying to help but Sully was irritated by the company. If all these people were concerned then the situation must be very grave indeed. Sully could not bear to think that this was a funeral march, but he could not hope to find her alive either.
Cloud Dancing approached Sully and they hugged. "My brother."
"Brother." Sully nodded to Hank and Jake as they all dismounted. The men looked completely wiped out. They had not stopped riding since that afternoon except to water their horses. It had been very slow going due to the wash out that the rains of the prior days had caused. Matthew offered some food to Sully who turned it down.
Cloud Dancing was the voice of reason. "Sully - you will eat. You need your strength for this journey." Sully took the food that was again offered to him and ate begrudgingly. The rest of the men ate as well and nothing was said. The mood was thick and each was full of his own thoughts. Sully got up from the group and walked over toward the edge of the clearing. Cloud Dancing followed. He did not speak first. He waited for Sully.
"I can't believe that she is dead."
"It is difficult to accept." Cloud Dancing always spoke as if he were speaking for the spirits.
"No, you don't understand. I mean I DON'T believe that she is dead." Sully stepped away and Cloud Dancing followed. "You were the one that told me that our spirits were one. I should know or sense that her spirit has left this world if it has." He turned back to his friend to see his eyes. "Shouldn't I?" Cloud Dancing nodded reluctantly and then cocked his head.
"Sometimes the mind will not allow the heart to know the truth."
Sully shook his head. "I have asked the spirits for guidance - but nothing has come."
"I too have asked the spirits for guidance."
"Things have not been good between Michaela and me for quite some time."
"I have seen you retreat from the people in your life."
"Our friendship has been tested and there are wounds that are still healing - on both sides."
"Can everything be healed? Can everything be as it was?"
"No, nothing will ever be as it was and I do not know if all will be healed, but with time and the proper medicine all things can be as you want them to be."
"I wish I had your faith."
"You must find your own faith but use the faith of others to find strength." Sometimes Cloud Dancing's truths were more than Sully could handle. Sully was reminded that Dorothy was on the train and the effect her death would have on Cloud Dancing.
"Oh God - Dorothy. I'm sorry. I didn't think-." Cloud Dancing put his hand on Sully's shoulder and they were silent for a moment.
Matthew joined them. "We are about 3 hours away from the site of the bridge. If we leave now we will make it before day break."
"The moon will be coming up in a little while. Sully may I tend to your injuries?" Sully waved his friend away and walked over to his horse. Cloud Dancing was hoping that movement would be comforting to the group. They all mounted and rode steadily along the train tracks in single file each kept his thoughts to himself.
Close to dawn, they found the break in the rails. Down in the gorge they could barely make out men working. Tents were set up and there was much activity even at that late hour. Sully was surprised he had not expected to see such a rescue effort going on. His hope was lifted. Until he saw the twisted wreckage of the train. It must have rolled ten or eleven times before it came to rest. Sully heard Jake's voice behind him say "Oh my God." He started down. Each man picked his own way slowly down the slope to the bottom of the gorge and headed for what looked like the main group. Sully rode up to a large fire with lots of people around it.
"Who is in charge here?"
"That would be Ken Lovett. He is sleeping now. What do you need?"
"My wife and her friend were on that train." Sully could not hear his own words if he had he would have folded under the weight of their meaning.
"I am sorry Mister. We have only been able to find a few survivors and none were women. We did not even get down here ourselves until early last night." Sully's heart sank and he could feel Matthew's hand grip his shoulder. Sully was unable to speak. "You can check with the doctor over there." The man pointed to a dark area away from every thing. He could just make out the bodies laid out in rows on the ground. Sully turned to Cloud Dancing and the two men, followed by Matthew and Andrew, walked slowly in that direction. Hank turned to the man that Sully was speaking with.
"What can we do to help?" His voice was even and calm. The three of them needed something to do. They had ridden all night keeping their hopes in check but never giving up until that moment. The man gave them some instructions and they all followed them without a second thought.
"MA! MA! MA! Where are you MA!" Brian was having a nightmare that shook the house. Colleen was the first to reach his room, but Grace and Loren were not far behind. Brian was crying and Colleen was trying to calm him down.
"Brian it's OK. I'm here." He settled a little bit.
"It was awful Colleen. I was walking through a dark tunnel or cave or something and I heard Ma calling to me. She was telling me that she was OK and looking for me too."
"It was only a dream Brian."
"It was so real."
"I know - I know." Grace and Loren entered and silently watched Colleen try to calm her brother. Loren had chosen to stay with them on the pretense that Brian might need him but it was clear that Loren was the one in need. Katie started crying.
"Everyone is up. It is almost dawn, why don't we all get up." Grace could think of no good reason to get up or to stay in bed. "I'll make us all some breakfast." No one was hungry including Grace, but it gave them something to do. Grace left to get Katie. Colleen followed leaving Loren and Brian alone.
"Mr. Bray? Do you think Ma and Miss Dorothy will be alright?"
"I don't know Brian. Until we hear, otherwise I say we hope for the best. Besides, you know your Ma and Miss Dorothy, nothing is going to keep those two down for long." Brian smiled and hugged him. Loren's eyes showed that he did not believe the words that he was saying.
Sully went up to one of the men working with the bodies. He was wrapping them in blankets and writing something down. There must have been more than 50 people on the train.
"Excuse me I am looking for my wife." Sully started again. There was no energy or urgency in his voice. He felt he was getting closer to a fact that he did not want to know.
"What did you say?" The man was very tired and abrupt. Sully spoke again a little louder this time.
"I am looking for my wife. Her name is Dr. Michaela Quinn - she has very long brown hair-"
The man shut him off quickly - "She is over there." He pointed to the other side of a tent and walked away. Sully was about to throttle him for his callousness but caught Cloud Dancing's eye and changed his mind. With a look that said, "stay here" - Sully moved to the other side of the tent. His head was down and he was searching the bodies for a form that was Michaela's. His heart was beating very fast and he could not catch his breath. From behind him, he heard a tired thin voice call his name.
"Sully! Sully!" He turned toward the direction of the voice. In the moonlight, he could see Michaela moving toward him. Her shirtsleeves were rolled up and her apron was stained with blood and dirt. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail but clearly a brush had not touched that hair in a long time. Her face was smudged with dirt and her skirt was torn. She was the most beautiful sight Sully had ever seen. Sully was barely able to understand what was happening before she was in his arms. She wrapped herself around him and hung on to his neck. "I am so glad you are here. I knew you would come."
Sully whispered back "You're alive. Thank God you're alive." His hold on her tightened and he closed his eyes to take in all the reality. He picked her up slowly and set her back down gently with a long breath. He put his hands on her shoulders and pushed her an arm's distance back away from him so that he could see her face. His hand slowly came up to touch her skin and his eyes searched every feature of her face looking for cuts or bruises. There were none. She noticed his right away and her hand moved to his head. He took her hand gently to his lips and he kissed her palm. Again he closed his eyes and pulled her toward him and hugged her to his chest. He knew it was true. The pain in his shoulder and leg let him know that the whole day was true and that he was holding his wife in his arms. She was alive. Looking up toward the dawning sky, he said "Thank you!" Finally, after 15 hours of living in fear he let his tears fall. Sully turned her face upward and he kissed her as if she were the most precious thing in the world. It was gentle and sweet and full of love. She kissed him back and they folded back into an embrace.
"Sully - I'm OK. I'm OK. You look terrible. Let me look at you." She tried to go into her doctor mode but he would not let her.
"I'm fine - now I am fine. Nothing that won't heal in a day or two. I am just happy to be holding you."
"Didn't you get my wire?"
"I got the wire that said that you would be on that train." They both looked at the wreckage and were all of a sudden aware of the nearness they had come to losing each other.
"We missed the train by 5 minutes." Michaela's voice was soft and almost apologetic. "I wired you again to say that we would be on the afternoon stage when the news came in about the train accident. The operator must have lost it."
"We never got that wire. The whole town thinks that you and Dorothy- Dorothy was she with you?"
"Yes she is fine. I sent her to get some rest she has been working like a dog all night long. The whole town? You mean the children?" Sully nodded. "Oh my god - we have to get word to them." She started to pull away from him and Sully would not let go.
"Can I hold you for just another minute? I have never been so scared in my whole life. I thought I would never hold you -- see you again. I thought that our last words -." He pulled her very close to him. "I love you, Michaela, Oh God, I am so sorry."
"I'm sorry too. We have so much to talk about but now is not...."
"I understand - we have time. We have all the time in the world." His smile was genuine but a little sad.
"I am very glad that you are here." They kissed again and held onto each other. Michaela was now able to let down her guard. She had been working all through the day and night and dealing with death and the incredible destruction. Several people were severely injured when she arrived on the scene, but there was very little she could do for them. She was helpless. It had not occurred to her that she might have been one of the people being pulled from the wreckage. It was the senseless death and incredible loss of life that she would never accept as a doctor. She watched a wife and husband die within moments of each other. They would not let got of each other's hand. It was not until Sully was holding her that the reality set in. She could let out her sadness in the safety of his embrace. Tears streaked down her dirty face and she rested her head on his shoulder.
Matthew's voice was heard from behind them. "Dr. Mike? Ma?" Matthew, followed by Cloud Dancing and Andrew ran to meet them. They hugged. "Are you alright?" Michaela nodded and reached her hand back to Sully who had stepped behind her.
"She wasn't on the train." Sully helped Matthew's confusion.
"I don't understand. You weren't on that train."
"We were supposed to be - but we missed it." She tried to smile coyly but she was still very effected by the situation. She looked back at Sully and squeezed his hand with a sad smile. Looking back at Matthew she said, "I'm sorry you did not get my wire and that you came all the way out here."
"Oh I don't care. As long as you are alright."
"I'm fine. Dorothy is fine too." She embraced Cloud Dancing. "We are both just tired and dirty."
"I too am grateful to the spirits that you are well. Dorothy?" She pointed toward a tree on the slope away from everything. "She is resting over there." Cloud Dancing smiled and walked toward the tree. Michaela hugged Andrew.
"Jake, Hank and Robert E are with us. I'll need to find them." Matthew went off to find the rest of their party after hugging her one more time.