STANDARD DISCLAIMER: Constant c Productions and Amblin Television in association with Warner Bros. Television, NBC and probably a slew of other people have prior claim. Anyone you don't recognize comes from my imagination.
RATINGS DISCLAIMER: Sex = a same sex relationship but otherwise AA, Violence = PG, Language = PG.
CONTINUITY DISCLAIMER: To be precise canon up to Rampage and then alternative universe. This is a segment of the Thing-verse, a chronological list can be found at the site.
BLAME DISCLAIMER: Sharon Bowers. I didn’t even watch the damn show until she started writing it.
FEEDBACK, COMMENTS AND FLAMES: Email at email@example.com
FIRST DATE - A MOVIE
The crowd leaving the movie theatre was noisy. It was a young crowd, as befitted an action adventure movie, with boisterous teens and preteens replaying each scene and dissecting each special effect.
"So, what did you think?"
"Kerry, c'mon, you have an opinion on everything. What did you think of the movie?"
"Well, I just didn't find it that realistic," Kerry said, tone apologetic. She knew how much how much Kim had looked forward to seeing the movie and, judging by the way she had bounced around in her seat, Kerry judged that she had enjoyed it.
"Kerry. You do know it was based on a video game, right?"
"I live in the ER, Kim, not under a rock."
"So the mystical stuff turned you off?"
"Of course not. It was a fairy tale with secret societies and magic and James Bond toys where the hero can speak any language. That wasn't my problem."
"Oooookay," Kim said, thoroughly puzzled. "What was your problem then?"
Kerry stopped, turning to look at Kim. "Kim, she was running around Norway in the middle of winter dressed in a T-shirt and cotton duster."
Kim was favoured with a look usually reserved for particularly stupid children and Dave Malucci.
"Kim, yours pop out when I open the fridge three rooms away," Kerry said before moving off. Leaving a stunned Kim standing there.
"C'mon, Kim, you're catching flies," Kerry called over her shoulder after a few steps.
Closing her mouth with a near audible snap Kim quickly caught up. "I can't believe it."
"What? That I was looking at her breasts?" Kerry asked, causing two twenty-something men to nearly walk into a support pillar.
"Well, umm, yeah. And that you noticed that about me."
Kim was favoured with another look, this time one she was fairly sure Malucci had never been and would never ever be on the receiving end of.
"I notice everything about you. From the first second I saw you," Kerry said softly before continuing on towards the parking lot.
And again leaving Dr. Kim Legaspi, respected psychiatrist and consummate professional, gaping in the lobby like a teenager.
SECOND DATE-LUNCH AT KERRY'S
The door swung open. Looking out Kerry first saw Kim. Then she saw the large, cube truck with U-Haul proudly emblazoned in bright orange with two college aged men dragging a couch out the back.
The door slammed shut.
"Ker? It was a joke."
"C'mon, Ker. Laugh."
"Hey, I saw them down the street and thought it'd be funny and gave them ten bucks."
"They thought it was funny."
"C'mon, babe, please? I'm really sorry."
The door swung open revealing Kerry.
Naked from the waist up.
The door slammed shut.
Behind her Kim could hear a thud and muffled curses as Matt and Josh, obviously distracted by something, dropped the couch. Internally Kim could hear several neural synapses simply giving up, exploding rather than processing what she had apparently seen. Ahead was only silence.
The door swung open revealing a fully clothed Kerry.
"Pay them off Kim. Then try this again."
The door slammed shut.
Slowly Kim walked to the cube van.
"Wow," said Matt. "Words fail."
"Dude," agreed Josh.
"Oh, yeah," Kim said, pulling a couple of tens out of her wallet.
"Normally," Matt said, taking his ten, "I'd just say our pleasure and forgo renumeration. However, we will take the money so as to allow you the comfort that we performed our part of the practical joke for crass monetary gain and not the stunningly provocative, albeit brief, glimpse of your lady."
"Dude," Josh said, punching Kim's shoulder in comradely awe and glee.
"You studying law?" Kim asked as they shoved the couch back into the van.
"Indeed. And Joshua here is studying poli-sci. Your future government, at your service now," Matt affirmed, handing Kim a business card.
"Matthew Bryce. Joshua Hamilton. Republican Handymen. Painting, moving, odd jobs. Your future government, at your service now," Kim read aloud.
"Oops, a thousand pardons. Wrong card," Matt said, plucking the card from Kim's hand and handing her another.
Kim read the card. "It's identical except that it says Democratic Handymen, right?" Both men nodded. "You two will go far."
"We shall endeavour to do so. And please call should you require our services. Reasonable rates and, for your lovely lady, a ten percent discount should our moving services be required on your behalf."
Kim spent a moment deciphering that before paling, realizing that she had probably put off confronting Kerry as long as she safely could. "If she's talking to me."
"I do not believe the door would have opened the second time, let alone the third, if she wasn't," Matt said confidently.
Taking a deep breath Kim nodded and headed back to the front door.
"The red head was pretty hot," Josh said to Matt. "For an older chick."
"Dude," Matt agreed, reverently before heading for the driver's door. In the rear view mirror they watched Kim, after a slight detour, knock on the front door before the house was lost from sight.
The door swung open. Looking out Kerry first saw Kim. Then she saw the large handful of flowers that looked suspiciously like those from her neighbour's flowerbox.
"For you, lovely lady," Kim said, thrusting the flowers out toward Kerry so that the flowerbox in question was blocked.
"Trying to get out of the dog house, Legaspi?"
Taking hope in the teasing tone of Kerry's voice Kim shook her head.
"Simply trying to exchange the large one for a slightly smaller one. Forgive me?"
"Eventually," Kerry said, opening the door and standing aside to allow Kim to enter.
"Welcome to the second date," Kim muttered, entering the house.
THIRD DATE - A QUIET AFTERNOON AT
The door was ajar and from within the house Kerry could hear faintly a sound more familiar of a dentist's office than a home.
"Kim?" she called from the doorway.
"Back here!" Whhhhrrrrrrrrrrr.
Following the sound Kerry moved through the house to the back yard, pushing the door and looking out.
"Be right with you!" Kim yelled cheerfully as she waved with the electric drill, giving the cord a little whip reminiscent of a singer adjusting the microphone cord.
"What are you doing?"
Kim grinned, holding the electric drill and pressing the trigger a few times. "Practical for the butch exam."
Sighing Kerry bent down, pulling a small plastic bag of papers from the discarded cardboard box. "You're building a swing?"
"Kerry, an old tire and a rope in a tree is a swing. This is a precision, machine tooled, easy glide loveseat with awning and inset drink holders for the patio or deck."
"Did they send two sets of instructions?" Kerry asked, examining the package curiously.
"Instructions? I don't need no stinkin' 'stuctions," Kim said, lining up the socket and pulling the trigger.
Afterward they were never able to verbally reconstruct what had happened. Christy accepted the new cordless drill and, after a few months, stopped teasing Kim every time she saw her. The back window was easily replaced and Kim swore that she never liked the vase anyway. And even Kerry had to admit that the somewhat crooked swing was a conversational ice breaker. However, at the time...
"Owww! Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow."
"Let me see."
"No, ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow."
"Let me see. I'm a doctor."
"It hurts, ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow."
"Kim. What's your middle name?"
Bewildered and still nursing her injured hand Kim answered the usually embarrassing question without thinking. "Anne."
"Kimberly Anne Legaspi show me your hand immediately.
Prepared and fortified against 'worried lover/friend voice' and against 'Chief of Emergency Medicine voice', Kim was woefully defenceless against 'exasperated mother voice'.
"You sounded just like my mother," Kim said with a barely suppressed shudder.
"You sounded just like a five year old," Kerry countered, gently prying the fingers apart and examining them. "Tell me, Doctor Legaspi," Kerry said, stressing the title, "if my examination leads to a diagnosis."
After a few moments of gingerly manipulating the fingers Kim shook her head. "Ice for the swelling. No sign of fractures or damaged gooey bits that hold the bones together."
"You need to spend more time in the Emergency Department. Gooey bits?"
"Psych major, I'm allowed to forget the technical terms."
Gently Kerry straightened the fingers. "Should I kiss it better?"
"I think that would be a very bad idea in a very good way."
"Definitely. You, um, wanna read me the stinkin' 'structions?"
"How about you read them. I've been told I'm pretty good with my hands."
FORTH DATE - LET'S TRY THIS MOVIE
"Okay, now what?"
"Well, the knife should have smacked the guy hilt first?"
"The bad guy?"
"No, the not so bad guy. I mean, it was moving toward him and Newton's laws clearly state that the not so good guy should have been hit with the hilt of the knife."
"It's a movie, Kerry. You're bringing Newton into a movie that has time travel and animated statues. I certainly didn't notice that little oversight."
"No, we both know what captured your attention in that scene."
"What are you talking about?"
"Oh, come on, I saw that look. The glazed Malucci stare."
"I certainly do not know what you are talking about."
"Here, I'll show you." So saying Kerry took a small mirror from her handbag, holding it up so that Kim could see her own reflection.
"Lara Croft's breasts."
"Oh my God."
"I don't do this in public, do I?"
"You will tomorrow," Kerry assured her. "Now that I know the trigger phrase."
"You wouldn't. You would. There are times when I really, really miss the closeted Kerry."
Kerry merely smiled. "I'll just wait until you least expect it and whisper it in your ear."
Kim regarded her, head cocked to the side. "No you won't."
So saying she leaned forward, whispered briefly in Kerry's ear and then raised the nerveless hand holding the mirror up so that Kerry could see her own expression.
"Oh my God."
"Truce?" Kim asked.
"Truce," Kerry agreed. "How did you know that, by the way? I didn't think anyone would notice."
"I notice everything about you. From the first second I saw you," Kim said softly before continuing on towards the parking lot. Smug smile only emerging after she turned her back on Kerry.
And leaving Dr. Kerry Weaver, respected physician and consummate professional, gaping in the lobby like a teenager.
FIFTH DATE - THE RECEPTION AFTER
"Luka, what's that on your shirt?"
"A name tag. Or rather, a second name tag."
"Aha, and who made up your tag?"
"Dave brought these stick-on ones. He thought it would be less formal than Doctor Kovac. And I think he was right. People smiled when they saw it."
"I would imagine they would. Kim, could you chat with Luka while I phone work. I want to change Dave's schedule around a bit to show him how much I appreciate his thoughtfulness."
A few minutes later, Luka settled with drink and a group to talk with, Kim found Kerry in the lobby, cell phone in hand.
"That's right, Randi. And can you juggle the charts?"
By tilting her head slightly and standing very close Kim could hear Randi's side of the conversation.
"Chief, I can juggle it so he doesn't know. Anything gross, icky or smelly goes to Malucci. How long does Dr. Dave get the shit treatment?"
"Until I stop hearing that damn Suzanne Vega song every time I see Dr. Kovac."
Fighting back giggles Kim clearly heard the sharp intake of breath over the phone.
"Damn. That was evil even for Dr. Dave. Okay, Chief, he gets the contagious diseases too though."
"No prob. Say hi to Dr. Legs and have a good evening."
"Better than Dave's, that's for sure," Kim says as she tosses the bright red and white Hello! name tag into the trash.
SIXTH DATE - VIDEO AT MY PLACE
After a minute I press pause and rewind the tape to when she left. After another minute I refresh the wine glasses and pour some more chips into the bowl. After five minutes I begin to actually think, playing what Kerry said, what I'd answered and beginning to get the sinking feeling that we had been having two different conversations.
I head to the kitchen.
Kerry's standing by the sink, a tall glass of ice water pressed up against her forehead and totally oblivious to me standing in the doorway. Her entire posture screams of upset and tension. I mentally smack myself and take a quiet step back.
Jesus, Legaspi, leaving your work at the office is one thing but leaving your brain?
I step back into the doorway, making sure my palm hits the jam loud enough for Kerry to hear. She looks up, slowly putting the glass into the sink and adjusting the crutch but I wave her not to bother to move. Instead I come to her, leaning against the counter.
"Wanna talk about it?"
She's staring at my new vase. Or rather through my new vase because it's pretty apparent to me that, wherever Kerry Weaver went, she had yet to fully return.
"About what?" she asks.
About the memory hiding behind your eyes that the damn movie awoke in you.
"You know," I say, moving over to lean on the counter beside her. Hip to hip, shoulder to shoulder. Well, height differences excluded.
"I don't know why it bothered me. I read the back of the tape box."
"But seeing it…"
A brief pause. "Yeah." Softly, merely breathed. "It just reminded me."
The inner psych raises her arms. Ka-ching! Goal from the three point line!
The inner lover weeps.
"Of what?" I ask, as softly as her so that she can easily ignore my probing.
"It was about a year ago. After you started at County but before we'd really met. Definitely before I knew you were a lesbian."
Inner psych had known that such a severe reaction to a visual stimulus could only be justified if it were particularly traumatic or linked in her mind to related traumatic events.
Inner lover bitch slaps the inner psych.
I turn and embrace her and she allows it. Hugs, along with little pecks on the cheek, have only recently been reintroduced because I don't want to overpower her or taunt me. Or the reverse.
She's trembling slightly, like a wild animal you hold in your hands but this time I know it's the memories that are trapping her and not me.
"Stroke victim, second known stroke, pneumonia, psych consult said that she was not competent," Kerry says, telling it as if it were the bullet being passed onto another doctor. Which it was. It was also Kerry distancing herself from the situation. Inner psych, still smarting, let it slide.
"Her partner of 27 years knew that she wanted to just go, no machines. Her next of kin told us to intubulate her."
I know Kerry. I know the regulations and legal stance of County and the state of Illinois. I know what Kerry did.
"What did you do?"
"Intubulated. She lingered about three months before another series of strokes finally, ummm."
She's not crying which bothers me, psych, lover and friend.
"How did that make you feel," I ask and then wince at such a clichéd sentence. Next I'd be asking about her childhood.
"I feel like I failed her. Failed them both."
"Because you're gay?"
"Because I'm a human being."
I know that Kerry has had a hell of a year. That every time she looked to the rules to tell her what to do they'd let her down. Betrayed her. And I also knew, beyond a shadow of doubt or sanity that she'd never change. Not really. That she could maybe make minor bends in the rules for herself and maybe make some very small exceptions for the people she considered her family. But by and large Kerry Weaver was never going to change.
Which was okay. Because apparently I had learned to just accept it as being Kerry. As much a part of her as her smile or her eyes or her crutch.
"You followed the rules, Kerry. It's what you do. You follow the rules and keep chaos from claiming that madhouse."
She nods against me, ear pressed up against my heart and I wonder if she can hear it begin to race. I figure I have a few minutes to disentangle myself before she clues into what my traitorous body is beginning to feel. Then she snuggles in tighter, arms around my waist, legs pressed against mine.
Make that ten seconds.
"Ker, how much longer do you need me to hold you?" I ask, trying to remain nonchalant.
"Forever," she breathes.
And it's gone. Or rather the imperative is gone leaving a very comfortable, very stable, very wonderful feeling in it's place. I still want to take her to my bed for the next week. Hell, the next month. But now I'm content to simply hold her. The inner lover does a victory dance around the inner psych.
"You wanna watch that movie?"
"Does it have a happy ending?"
"I think so. Well, the first segment is a bit of a downer but the rest... let's just say you'll never hear that Dido song in the same way again."
She chuckles, briefly hugging me tight before stepping away. "Okay, let's go watch the thing."
The movie is a great one to watch with a potential girlfriend. I mean, you just sit there and watch them from the corner of your eye and you can see how they react to commitment, parenthood, death and stereotypes. And, being a psychiatrist, I like to think I have an advantage.
Except this is Kerry.
The end credits rolls and I risk looking at her fully.
"So, what did you think?"
"Kim, I don't want to date you any more."
My heart stops. It's not just a figure of speech. It stops dead in my chest.
"Good. I think it's been good for both of us to go through this."
"Good. So you're okay with this?"
"I respect your decision, Kerry," I say, finally able to look away and back to the flickering TV screen. The tape starts rewinding. I thank every god known to humankind that years of practice have taught me to maintain a neutral yet interested expression for when patients tell me things like that the eggs glow in the fridge but only when the door is closed. Or that their Tickle Me Elmo doll is possessed. Or when my heart gets ripped out.
"So," she continues, blithely unaware that she's talking to a corpse.
"What do we call this stage?"
"Friendly exes?" I say, trying very very, very hard to smile.
Apparently I'm somewhat successful.
"Very friendly," Kerry says. And then, in a clear case of reverse déjà vu, she reaches up. One hand onto the nape of my neck and the other cupping my cheek as she draws me down for a kiss. And, as per the déjà vu, I push away as I begin respond. She looks at me in confusion.
"Exes?" Bewilderment briefly crosses her face before understanding overtakes it.
"If that was your idea of break-up sex or a payback for the guerrilla kiss in the lounge... what?"
She smiles, fingers pressed briefly to my lips to shut me up. "Kim, I wasn't telling you I wanted to stop seeing you. I was telling you that I want to go on. If that's okay with you?"
The world spins and then there is a click that only I hear. And everything is right again.
"So, what do we call this stage?"
"Forever," I breathe.
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