All in a Name
By Nell Lime. I assert that I have no property to Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, which is the property of Beth Sullivan and CBS. I merely write this for my own practice and amusement. If others find enjoyment from it, I appreciate it.
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We were twirling around and around, our laughter as giddy as a child's on a merry-go-round. He only stopped to pull me in for a sweet kiss, oh the joy and relief of hours of torment that were over. He picked me up to twirl me again, calling out to the sky "Michaela, sweet Michaela, my..." His laughter had died away and his twirling had stopped. I followed his eyes up to the sky, dark clouds approached swiftly.

"Come on! Let's get shelter before the rain starts." He pulled me towards his camp and his lean-to.

We sat down, giddy laughter still spilling out between heavy breaths. I drew my legs up, resting my chin on my knees. "You called," breath, "Me Michaela?" I looked at him, his countenance suddenly stiffened. "Why Sully?" My voice was like the dripping rain around us.

"I can call you Dr. Mike." He kept his face turned away from mine. "If you'd rather." I didn't know what I wanted, for once. I remained quiet. The rain grew heavier before he spoke again. "Only called you Michaela a few times... really."

I looked up towards him, "You called me Michaela when you proposed to me." I sat there, my mind going back to only a few days, or a lifetime ago. "You called out, 'Michaela' and you were confused when I went to check on you. You were thinking I was leaving." I ran my hands down the front of my skirt, pulling my knees in tighter. "Why did you think I was leaving Sully?" I rested my head lightly on his shoulder. "You never told me what you dreamed about."

He leaned forward, scratching Wolf's ear. "The kids will be excited to know that the wedding's back on."

"Sully, I asked you a question." I shifted so that I was on my knees facing him. "What did you dream about?"

He moved his ministrations to the back of Wolf's neck, rumpling the fur. "I dreamed Cloud Dancing came to me and greeted me in the sweat-lodge." His hand moved to Wolf's chin. "Suddenly we were in a meadow, and you were walking towards us, dressed like you are now, but all in white." His hand nearest me wrapped around me. running up and down my right arm. "I forget where Cloud Dancing went, but you and I," I lifted my hand towards his, finding his fingers with mine. "We stood, soaking each other in, just memorizing each other's faces." His hand stilled on my arm, as the other one left Wolf to circle me. "Then we were in the grass."

"In the grass?" I raised my eyebrow at that one.

"Yea," He pulled me down so our backs were on the furs he used as a bed, his right arm, left its stroking of my arm coming up to my face, pulling it towards his. "Kissin', and rollin' in the grass."

He rolled me over, rolling himself on top, my heart began to pound. "Sully!" I tried to sit up, pull myself out of his embrace. "We're not married yet!"

"Then you got up and walked away." His voice quieted. "Left me."

I reached my free hand up to cup the side of his face. "I'm not leaving you Sully." I felt the corners of my mouth raise. "I might get distracted, but I'm not leaving." I saw a smile appear, that I kissed the corner of.

"Like just the last few days with David?"

"Yes." We sat in silence after my reply. Only Wolf's snoring in front of us and the rain breaking the silence. "Sully?" He turned from studying the falling rain to me. "What caused you to call me Michaela and not Dr. Mike?" He didn't answer. "Come on Sully! No Secrets."

He looked at me, a tinge of pink to his cheeks. "When I dream of making love to you," his hand came to my hair, stroking it up and down my back. "I can't think of calling you Dr. Mike." I felt my face blush at his words, as meaning sank in. "I keep having this dream that I'm making love to you- and you're Dr. Mike, town Doctor, public figure, and we're on the operation table."

"Operation Table?" I pulled my hand out of his.

"And the whole town is outside, taking bets" His face must have matched my own- beet red. "And Jake, or maybe Hank peeping through the window telling everyone what's going on. Sort of like Loren's surgery." His hand stilled in my hair. "That's why when I dream of making love to you, I dream I'm calling you Michaela."

"So," I said slowly grasping for words. "So when you call me Michaela," My face went deeper, verging on scarlet I am sure. "It is when you want to," I swallowed, searching for words, falling back on safe medical terminology, "reproduce with me?" We may be engaged, but that is simply not a subject that a lady talks about.

He looked at me. "Well," there was a half grin on his face. "Sort of."

"Then do not" I took a deep breath. "Call me Michaela! I'll go red in the face each time you call me that at the thought." I turned my face from him, brushing his hand out of my hair. I stared at the drops, falling from the trees, onto the ground. From the ground they formed ripples, streams, heading off in new directions.

The rain began to quiet before I spoke again. "You called me Michaela at Mother's ball in Boston." Images swarmed through my mind as to what he might have been thinking. The meaning behind the look he had given me as he handed me the punch. The sight of him dressed up in one of father's old suits, his eyes as mother had toasted William and me for saving her life. "Is that what you were thinking, of kissing me and..." I searched for words but there were none appropriate even to your fiance. "And such at the ball?"

"Always dream of kissin' you, ever since I saw you in the mud that first time, always dream of kissin' the most beautiful woman I know." I bit my lower lip at his words. "But that wasn't first in my mind then."

"What was?" I scooted closer so I was again at his side, resting my head on his shoulder.

"I was scared stiff, scared I was loosing you to Boston and William." There was a gruffness in his voice. "Having to toast you and him together." He almost spit it out, like a bitter morsel in his mouth."

"You called me Michaela because you were afraid you were loosing me?"

In barely a whisper he said,"Yea." He played with the beading on his moccasins. He looked up. "Rain's stopping, we'll be able to head home soon. Wonder what Colleen will make for supper?"

We sat in silence. My mind reeled over the day- Making the decision between David and Sully. Saying goodbye to David. Going to Sully, thanking him for letting me make the decision for myself. Straining for him to hear me of the rhythmic pounding of the ax on wood as he chopped. Asking him if he would take me back. Then the rain.

As the last drops from the trees fell, Sully helped me up, called for Wolf to follow us, and we walked down the well worn path to the homestead. Everything glistening anew. "Sully?" My fingers fidget in his hand. "You called me Michaela when you let me go." He didn't answer, I took a deep breath after a few minutes. "You were scared you were going to loose me again weren't you?" I felt his hand grip mine tighter. "That's a pattern you know. You call me Michaela when you're afraid you're going to loose me." I stopped him, standing in front of him. "You aren't going to loose me, so don't call me Michaela and jinks it."

"I ain't loosing you."

"Besides, I'll go red in the face if you call me Michaela." At my words, he brought our clasped hands up to his lips and kissed my hand.

"I said, I ain't loosing you." I nodded as we continued walking, my head resting on his shoulder.

Our silence was broken by sudden skidding. "Ma!" Brian halted in front of us as we came in sight of the homestead. "Sully! You coming for dinner?"

"For a good several years." Sully put his free hand around Brian's shoulder and turned him around. "Let's see what your sister made."
"Is David coming?" Brian stared at me halting our movement towards the homestead.

"No..." I reached across putting my hand on Brian's shoulder. "He's not coming back." Sully leaned over to kiss me lightly- enlightening my face with redness at the memory of our conversation. Even that simple kiss brought back images.

"Yippee!" Brian ran off ahead of us. "Colleen! Matthew! Ma's going to marry Sully!" There were shrieks of joy as we reached the homestead, and the children pulled us into a family embrace.

A hiss from the homestead, suddenly reminded us all of dinner. "Kettle's boiling!" Colleen cried, leading the way into the homestead.

We each took part in preparing, I sliced some fresh peaches. "The food smells delicious Colleen."

"Well, I think it's time to celebrate Dr. Mike!" Colleen brought out fried eggs on a pan.

"Yea Ma!" Brian cut in. "Pa," his grin got even larger. "You're sitting right her next to me."

When the supper dishes had been cleared away, Matthew got up. "Dr. Mike, Sully. I can't think of two people I like more to get married."

"'Cept you and Ingrid." Colleen jokingly slapped Matthew.

"Anyways, to the two of you..." He lifted his cup up, and the children all toasted us.

"Dr. Mike and Sully!" Repeated Colleen.

"Ma!" Brian started to giggle. "Pa!"

"I ain't your pa yet Brian." Sully was trying to maintain a strait face.

"Well, I've got to take care of the animals. What you say to helping me little bro'?" Matthew left the table, taking his hat.

"Alright!" Brian ran out the door after him.

Colleen started to pick up the dishes. "Colleen!" I cried. "We'll take care of the dishes, take care of your homework."

"Alright Dr. Mike." Colleen went back to the children's alcove, lighting a lamp to study.

We brought the dishes to the sink, me washing, Sully drying. "Pa." He smirked close to my ear. "Brian's finally getting his wish."

"And what wish is that?" I handed him the first plate.

"Your birthday, after you got here, when the town gave you your sign at the clinic." He placed the dried plate on the shelf.

"I remember the nicest present I got was from you." I handed him a cup. "You kissed me." I smiled at the memory.

"Well, if Brian had gotten his wish that's not all you would have gotten." I raised an eyebrow at that one. "He was after me all the week before to marry you for your birthday so I could be his pa."

I brought my soapy hand up to my mouth to hide the giggle that was forming. "He did suggest the same to me." I handed him a fork.

We worked in silence for the duration of another plate, a platter, and three spoons. "Michaela," he whispered in my ear.

I dropped the plate in my hand. "Sully! I thought I told you to call me Dr. Mike!" I turned around towards him, flushed, startled when he caught me in a kiss.

"I'f you're going to keep going beet red each time." He chucked as he took the plate out of the soap water. "I'll keep it up."

"Then don't you ever call me Michaela in public, I would be mortified!" I franticly tried to scrub the pan- scoring at fried egg remains. "Not to mention what I said about the jinks."

"You're not mortified when Dorothy calls you 'Michaela'." His voice had quieted.

"No, but Dorothy is not implying anything by it."

"And you're Michaela to your family in Boston."

"Well, they will not call me Mike when I ask."

"David called you Michaela." He snatched the pan out of my hands. "It's clean Michaela."

"Sully! What did I tell you?"

"Why can't I? The man you." He looked strait at me. "Asked to marry you?"

"So it's a possessive issue?" I pushed a cleaned up into his hands.

"Well, uh." He scratched his head with one hand. "Sort of."

"Sully I am not a possession, nor do I want to be embarrassed each time, or have you jinks it." I faced him. "If you don't want to call me Dr. Mike, you may call me Mike."

"You are not a possession, never thought you were."

"One of the few times I got into a fight as a school girl, was over another girl calling me Michaela. I'll fight you if I need to- it's Mike."

We worked in silence after that. When the table was cleared and cleaned, we silently sat down in front of the fire. Our silence was broken by the return of Matthew and Brian. "Sully? Will you tell me a bedtime story?" Brian began to pull Sully towards the alcove.

"Well Goodnight Dr. Mike, Sully." Matthew turned returning out into the darkness and the barn where he slept.

"Colleen! Sully's going to tell us a bedtime story!" Brian called out to Colleen in the changing area.

"Alright I'm coming." Colleen said.

"Be right back." Sully said to me.

I watched them, settling down. Sully tucking each of the children in. Thoughts rolled towards the future, of images in my mind, watching Sully tuck in future little ones. "So Pa," Colleen was giggling, "Tell us a story."

Pa. I was only beginning to be fully accepted as their mother. When we married, would Sully go from being the friend, the friend they pushed and pried into courting and wooing me. I felt a giggle escape. Who got us to wake up to our hearts? Would we become Ma, Pa, and our three children with the marriage? I look up again at the scene in front of me. Sully telling them a story about treasure hidden in the mountains- by the spanish- oh two three days ride away.

I thought to my own childhood, tucked into bed with one of my sisters. Mother and Father leaning over us, lecturing us about fighting again- she had refused to call me Mike. Mother had left, after we had appologized. Father had remained though, telling us a story, I forget what the story was though. They used to call each other Mother and Father, at least around us. Will we become the same, with more little ones, if any come? Will the debate between Dr. Mike and Michaela simply end up in Ma?

I was sitting again in front of the fire when Sully returned, quiet except for the breathing of two sleeping children. He stopped when he looked at me. "Ready for bed already," I ran my hands up and down my nightgown clad arms, nervous with his eyes on me. "Dr. Mike?"

"It's been an eventful day." I smiled. "Anyways, I wanted a bedtime story too," I giggled. "Pa."

He smiled and lead me over towards my bed. Turning down the bed clothes, he whispered. "What kind of bedtime story do you want, Ma?" There was a giggle that escaped.

"I thought while he brushed my hair to one side, held the blankets up for me to crawl inside, and tucked them gently in around me. "Sully? Tell me about when the dog soldiers took me?"

He sat down on the edge of the bed, "where should I begin?"

"When we went to go bring the woman with the broken leg into town."

"Alright," he started to stroke my hair, lost in thought. "The army came, warned us that no one should leave town because of the raidin'." His hand paused, "But you were so stubborn. Had to go and save the woman, couldn't bear to think of another human being out there without protection." There was a small smile on his face. I told you to stay at the clinic, I'd get her, but no," He smiled as he shook his head "you had to go."

"When I am stubborn, there's not much arguing with me is there?" I smiled back up at him.

"Nope. We were nearly there when we saw them." Images swept through my mind of the frantic wagon ride. Seeking the safety of the cabin, fear, sweat of the horses, cries of war pounding towards us. "We got there, but then they attacked." His hand went back to my hair, stroking it lightly. "I tried to fight them off..." His voice broke, I heard him swallow. "But they were too many, they..." He swallowed "took you."

I reached up for him. "I was so scared, tied up on that horse. They threatened to kill me if you followed." I stroked my hand along his cheek, feeling the day's rough stubble "You called after us as they took me away." My voice trailed off.

"I threatened them in Cheyenne. I don't remember what I said." His face suggested otherwise.

"But you called out to me then." I looked straight into his eyes. "You called out 'Michaela, I'll find you.' That was the first time you called me Michaela, except for that time in Boston." There was silence. "What was going through your mind at that moment?"

"I was scared. Scared I'd never see you again. Scared I'd never be able to tell you I love you again. Scared I'd not find you in time." His hands held my face. "Scared what you would go through. I was mad at them. How could I sum up everything I wanted to say to you" I lifted my free hand to hold his face, locked in the embrace of his eyes. "before all I know you would be out of my sight for ever? I wanted to tell you my whole heart." He paused. "How can I say all on my heart in just one breath?"

My heart stopped. No it did not stop too many years in medicine have convinced me that mere words of enderement cannot stop a heart, but my heart seemed to skip a beat. "Sully." I breathed as I slipped my hands to the back of his head, pulling him down into a long kiss.

I heard him whisper as air came between us. "I'll call you Dr. Mike in front of others, but to you and me-- you'll be Micheala."

Images came to mind, of my sisters using that hated word. But they were replaced by images such as Sully calling me into the sweat lodge, swearing his life to me, Michaela. "No." My words, more movement then sound. "For you, I am always Micheala."

"Michaela." He kissed me gently once more. "It's time for sleep now." He featherly kissed each closed eyelid. "Sweet Dreams."

"They will be," I curled up in the bed, biggest grin on my face I am sure. "Goodnight Sully."

I felt him rise from the bed, "You will always be Michaela." I heard the door open, and his words trailed after him as he went into the night. "For how else can I say my whole heart in just one breath?

Last updated: 1 January 2008

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