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 = AA.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
“This is torture.”
Kerry smiled into Kim’s shoulder, enjoying the advantage of the height difference.
She didn’t have to ask what was torturing Kim as she had been over the last
few weeks informed in great detail of the long runs and numerous cold showers.
As usual, Kerry decided as she snuggled deeper into her animate body pillow, timing had sucked. Fate had a way of conspiring with Murphy to totally screw up the most confirmed intent. Or rather, butted two confirmed intents against each other as the decision to take their relationship to the next level conflicted with their desire to make the second first time around a leisurely thing.
“I feel,” Kim said, sighing deeply and poking Kerry in the shoulder, “like a teenager.”
Kerry had to admit to the similarity as they were currently sprawled across Kim’s couch engaging in what could only be termed as necking. In fact, the only thing missing was the fear that the parents would burst in.
“Your folks call first, right?” she asked, random thought crystallizing into panicked paranoia.
“They do now,” Kim assured her grimly before poking Kerry again and returning to her topic. “This is torture.”
“I think it was a good idea to wait.”
“Only because it was your idea.”
“Absence makes the heart grow stronger.”
“Yes, but abstinence is killing me here.”
“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”
“One, never quote Nietzsche to a psychiatrist. Two, you haven't been paying attention because it is killing me.”
“Sweet are the slumbers of the virtuous man?”
“That was Joseph Addison. How about a paraphrase? Lord, give me
the strength to be chaste and virtuous. But not yet.”
“Better. Who said that?”
“Details escape me. Last quote, Luka is covering my next two shifts.”
“I said that Luka’s cover…”
“I heard you. You're saying we both have the weekend off?”
“So one or both of us don't have to rush off to work in the morning?”
“That is what I'm saying.”
“Fan-frigging-fastic oh. And you waited until now to tell me?”
Kerry smiled, “I like when we make out on the couch and you make me feel like a teenager.”
“There will be revenge on the delay,” Kim assured her. “I love that man. What do I owe Luka?”
“Nothing. I just mentioned that you had the weekend off and he offered. It may have been self-defence though. I've been a bit, shall we say, cranky at work the last few weeks.”
“What do you mean?”
Kerry lifted herself up onto her forearms and stared at Kim for several seconds.
“Oh,” Kim said. “Frustration does that.”
“Hmmm, well,” Kerry said, returning to her earlier position and snuggling in. “While I was apparently able to hide what I felt the first time around I seem totally incapable this time. Not that I want to.”
“I know that. That would explain something I heard a few days ago though.”
“What was that?”
“I’d come down for a consult and you’d reamed Malucci for something…”
“That narrows it down.”
“And after you left he muttered about you getting some and Randi said he should pick a date and put his money where his mouth and gutter brain was.”
“Fortunately I’m not in the mood to contemplate the revenge I probably should be seeking on Dr. Dave,” Kerry said. “We’ve got a whole weekend and need to decide what to do next. You want to watch a movie?”
“Listen to some music?”
“Music can be involved.”
“What do you want to do?”
“Everything,” Kim said, kissing her lightly. “Stay with me here tonight.” Kiss. “And tomorrow.” Kiss. “And tomorrow night.” Kiss. “And…”
“I get the idea.”
“Dr. Kovac. I thought you had the day off. Catching up on some paperwork?”
Luka looked up over the admit desk and his stack of files.
“No, just taking advantage of the quiet. I’m covering for Dr. Weaver.”
“Excellent,” Dave Malucci grinned. “Working the weekend with Weaver was not something I was looking forward. Especially after these last few weeks. I’ll just grab a coffee and see you in five then, Doc.”
Malucci made five steps before the lightening bolt struck.
Malucci made two running steps, planted both hands firmly onto the admit desk and vaulted over. Landing he grabbed the phone from in front of a stunned Frank.
“Psych? Yeah, Emerg here. Dr. Legs on? When she back? Monday at nine. Cool. Bye.”
Muttering the word ‘yes’ over and over Dave dialled again.
“Randi. Dave. Hang on,” Dave said, putting his hand over the receiver, “Dr. Kovac, you covering for Dr. Weaver tomorrow too?”
Luka regarded the young man silently before nodding.
“Randi, I’m back. Listen. For the pool on doing the deed I want today. Duration pool I want ummm twenty four times two plus twelve minus two 30 minute commutes which is…”
“Fifty nine,” said Frank.
“Fifty nine,” said Luka.
“Yeah, fifty nine. So I hear. Got it? Great, thanks.”
Dave hung up the phone, rubbing his hands in glee. “Down payment time! One fire engine red, convertible babe magnet in now mine!”
“Hmmm, you know, Dr. Malucci, Doctor Weaver’s shift ended at six last night,” Frank said.
“Yeah. So?” Dave said, visions of convertibles and perquisite chicks in his head. “Shit,” he yelped, grabbing the phone and hitting redial.
“Randi. Dave. Yesterday. I want yesterday on the do the deed, not today. Time should still be the same.”
There was a pause as Dave listened.
“No, you know what I think Randi? I think that they started as soon as they closed the front door. Actually, considering Weaver hasn’t had any in about six months just add that hour back on for the commute and put me down for them both being fifteen minutes late on Monday. Because if she can ride my ass for eighteen hours straight I’m sure she can double that for something she likes.” Slight pause as Dave listened. “Okay, triple. I’m a doctor, not a mathematician.”
Luka and Frank watched silently as Dave again hung up the phone.
“Betting on someone’s private life, Dr. Malucci?”
“Harmless fun, Dr. Kovac. An integral part of the American work place experience. You should try it.”
“Well, I don’t like it either. After all Dr. Weaver has done for you, Dr. Malucci,” Frank said.
Luka nodded agreement. “She’s been like a,” he paused, “Like a mother to you, Dave.”
A moment of silence. “Ewwww. Ick ick ick. Mental image. Not good. Damn, damn.”
Hands over his ears Dave fled to the lounge.
“That was brilliant, Dr. Kovac. Evil, but brilliant.”
“Thank you, Frank. I think torturing your co-workers is also part of the American work place experience, no? I am curious about one thing though.”
“What’s that, Dr. Kovac?”
“Who is suicidal enough to ask Dr. Weaver the details?”
The ding of a toaster greeted Kerry as she walked in to the kitchen and a sense of incredible déjà vu flooded her as she watched Kim, dressed in old sweats and a t-shirt, lazily butter a toasted bagel.
“Looks good on you,” Kim said. “My shirt.”
Kerry looked down at it. “Not too long?” she asked, grinning.
Kim allowed her gaze to follow the lines of the blue t-shirt to the hemline where it rested against Kerry’s bare legs.
“Barely,” she muttered before returning to the past script. “No, it’s fine.”
Kerry leaned against the pot shelf and smiled.
“Umm, good thing I have a 40 gallon water heater,” Kim said as she put the bagels onto a plate and reached for the coffee carafe.
“You take long showers. It’s okay,” Kim continued before Kerry could speak. “So do I. Sometimes I just stand there for twenty minutes trying to wake up. Especially when I’m cold.”
There was a flicker of shadow across Kim’s voice and eyes as she spoke and Kerry knew that it wasn’t physical temperature she was talking about.
“Are you cold now?” asked Kerry, moving so that she was within arm’s reach.
“No, not cold at all,” Kim said, pulling her into a loose embrace. “You okay?”
“I meant about us. The first time can be a little…” Kim said, trailing off into a half shrug.
“It was different.”
“That’s true,” Kim drawled, grinning.
“But good,” Kerry said, her grin matching Kim’s own.
“Good?” Kim growled in mock hurt.
“Very good,” Kerry said, kissing just above the collar of Kim’s t-shirt. “Great,” kissing her cheek as Kim instinctively bent to get closer. “Wonderful,” whispering into her ear.
“Breakfast in bed?” Kim asked hopefully. “Technically lunch but it’s coffee and breakfast food.”
“Good plan,” Kerry said as she slowly disentangled herself and took a step back. “Look, I know this goes without saying but I won’t keep this just between you and me. I’m not going to hide or deny you or us.”
Kim’s eyes closed as she allowed the words to erase the quiet hurt the original version had caused. “I think they’re going to figure it out at work, Kerry. I’m pretty much going to be grinning like the village idiot on Monday.”
“I meant the world.”
“Oh,” Kim said, pulling Kerry back to her. “I know this is going to sound like a corny cliché but sometime I feel like this might be a dream and I’m going to wake up and…”
“Not a dream.”
“I’m glad we waited until we had a weekend,” Kim said, voice muffled by Kerry’s neck. “The first time, you had to leave and I knew that…”
“Shhh, it’s the past. Now, feed me.”
"Dr. Legaspi, could I borrow you for a moment?"
Tapping the flip chart Kim changed her route from the elevator to where Abby Lockhart stood in the Sutures doorway.
"I know you're on your way back upstairs but I wondered if you could take a look at this."
"Sure, Abby," Kim said, taking in both the patient sitting calmly on the table with a blood soaked towel wrapped around his left hand and the clearly weirded out nurse.
Not, Kim admitted, that "weirded out" was a proper psychological term but it was certainly accurate. Nodding she took the chart from Abby and glanced over it. No allergies, nothing immediate in the family history. "Sticking around?"
Abby nodded and turned back into the room, preparing a suture tray.
"Mr. Foster. What did you do to yourself?" Kim asked, adjusting the latex gloves with a bit of a snap.
The patient, a man in his mid-twenties, looked up. "Would you believe a fencing duel at Heidelberg?"
"Didn't think so. Well, you know those little kitchen gizmos that hold a bagel and have a slot for a knife?"
"I'm going to get me one as soon as we’re finished here."
Kim paused unwrapping the towel, looking at first Foster and then at Abby over his shoulder. Abby was chuckling a bit at his joke, slowly loosing the tension. Tension that returned as Kim pushed Foster's shirtsleeve up.
"And these?" she asked lightly, tracing two parallel scars across Foster's wrist with her fingers.
Matching her tone Foster nodded sagely. "That would be a half assed suicide attempt. Breakfast was not an issue there, more like lunch. My high school cafeteria sucked."
"And this one?" Kim continued, drawing a line over the scar that stretched from the base of his hand and upwards until the bunched up sleeve stopped further investigation.
Hazel eyes met blue. "That would be my much more serious suicide attempt."
"No, this one was breakfast. Or the lack of my companion for said breakfast in the morning, to be fully accurate. And we know how accurate you shrinks need to be."
"Busted," Abby said softly, placing the tray by Kim and handing her a pair of forceps with a snowy white gauze pad.
"How'd you know I was a shrink," Kim asked, attention on cleaning out the wound and trying to determine the damage.
Foster shrugged. "Couple of reasons. For example, cutie here let about three doctors go by before she snagged you. And, as they were all fine specimens of hunky manhood, either you're a shrink or she has the hots for you."
"Could be both," Kim said, flexing Foster's fingers before grinning at him conspiratorially. Over Foster's shoulder she could see Abby start to blush and roll her eyes. "She's feisty, might be too much for me to handle."
“Well worth the effort I’m sure.”
“I wish,” Abby said; blush starting to rise “you two would stop talking about me as if I weren’t here.
“And,” came a new voice from the doorway, “I wish you two would stop traumatizing my trauma nurses.”
“My fault, Dr. Weaver,” Foster said, the only one in the room without the ‘hands in the cookie jar’ expression. “I started it.”
“I’ll take that under advisement, Dr. Foster. Now, Dr. Legaspi, what is the diagnosis on Dr. Foster’s rather unique method of introduction?”
There was a slight pause as Kim changed mental tracks. “Superficial. None of the gooey bits were hurt. Fibre tape in lieu of stitches and tetanus booster to be safe.”
“Gooey bits? Am I going to have to recommend to Dr. DeRaad your next CME?”
Eyes saucer wide at the thought of a mandatory Continuous Medical Education course Kim shook her head. “No damage to the palmar aponeurosis. The orponeus pollicis, adductor pollicis, obliquus and adductor pollicis transversus are all unaffected.”
There was a stunned silence.
“I see,” Kerry said thoughtfully. “Well, Dr. Foster, you’re in good hands. I’m looking forward to working with you.” Nodding goodbye Kerry took a half step before turning back to the room. “Kim?”
“I have about two hours of ‘need yesterday’ reports for the Ro, Dr. Romano. Can we switch cook nights?”
“Pizza or Chinese?”
“Sure. See you at home.”
There was a calm silence while before three voices spoke nearly simultaneously.
“Working with you?”
“What a woman.”
“Mine first,” Abby said.
“Ink still wet on the sheepskin but, yes, Doctor. Courtesy of SLU.”
“Me,” Kim said.
“I’ve been accepted as a psychiatric resident specializing in trauma. Which is also how I knew you were a shrink; I recognized the name from my orientation package. Dr. Weaver was present at my interview because I’m going to be working closely with her department.”
“Well, well. Now, you want explain that comment about Dr. Weaver?”
Foster grinned. “In about ten sentences she slapped us down for goofing around without going ballistic, teased you about CMEs to prove a point and then -and this really is the stroke of brilliance- established that you two have a fairly close and easy relationship. And she did all that without allowing her professional and personal life to conflict.”
“I’m impressed with your reasoning, Dr. Foster.”
“Also, based on your suggested menu, she can cook and you don’t.”
“And, based on your stunning impersonation of a chalk cliff, she thinks you both knew I was staff. Otherwise she’d have really pissed at your goofing around with a civilian.”
Both Abby and Kim nodded frantically.
“One question though. Are there any ugly doctors on staff?”
Abby smiled at the non sequitor. “Didn’t you met our Chief of Staff at your interview?”
“Dr. Romano? I’d have thought he’d appeal to the Captain Picard crowd.”
“Some ugliness,” Kim said, “you need a CAT scan for.”
“Hi, honey, I’m home,” Kim called out. Juggling paper bags, briefcase and laptop Kim kicked the door shut.
“In here,” Kerry called from the dining room.
Dropping everything but the takeout Kim headed to the dining room where Kerry was shoving files into her brief case.
“Good timing,” Kerry said, smiling, “I just finished.”
“Excellent. I’ll grab the plates and stuff while you set it out.”
Half an hour later Kerry surveyed the remains. “Don’t you want any chicken?”
“Uh, no. Thanks. Finish it off. I know you like it.”
“I thought you liked it too. That’s why I got it when… Oh god.”
“Hey, Ker, it’s okay. It’s just…”
“How stupid can I be?”
“Kerry,” Kim said, rising and walking to sit in the chair beside Kerry. “C’mere.”
Automatically Kerry pushed off from the captain’s chair and allowed Kim to guide her until she was straddling Kim’s lap. Hands on Kerry’s hips Kim regarded Kerry’s face.
“Kerry. Come back to me.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t think. ”
“Don’t be. Two minutes ago it reminded me of a bad time.”
“And now?” Kerry asked as Kim reached past her to take her fork.
“Now,” said Kim, taking a bite of the Kung Pao, “it’ll remind me of your kisses.”
Lips brushed briefly against lips before pausing and then returning to a slow exploration of each other.
“This working?” Kerry asked when they finally broke apart.
“Oh, yeah. Can I help you exorcise some reminders?”
“I don’t think so.”
“C’mon, what reminds you?”
“Sometimes I just look in the mirror,” Kerry said bleakly before she could censor her words.
Kim winced and nodded understanding. “I don’t suppose I can simply tell you to stop beating yourself up over that?”
Kerry merely shook her head, her answer clearly displayed in her eyes.
“Do you ever worry?” Kerry asked.
“About you and me? About us?”
“Yes,” Kerry asked softly into Kim’s neck, afraid to see the opposite answer in her eyes.
“No, not seriously. And anytime I do I just think of one thing,” Kim said, pushing Kerry back.
“You’re saying we’ve risen from the ashes.”
“Exactly. From a fairly large pile of anguish and angst ashes, we have become something new and different yet recognizable. Stronger because we know how fragile it can be. You. Me. Us. You know.”
Kerry smiled, a small smile but a smile never the less. “It was a pretty spectacular pile of ash.”
“The mother of all ash,” Kim agreed. “Can I finish your chicken?”
“So,” Kim asked, “What do you think?”
Foster frowned, looking down at his notes. “I’m not sure.”
Kim felt an eyebrow rise in surprise. It was a rare resident who wasn’t sure, even when they were wrong.
“What do you feel?” she asked.
“Its not depression. It feels like more.”
Kim laced her hands behind her head and leaned back in her chair, regarding the young resident still glaring at his clipboard as if it would make it talk and give the correct diagnosis.
“You know, Foster, no one sees a shrink because they’re happy.”
Foster looked up, clearly startled. “Dr. Legaspi, he’s only fifteen.”
“And I’m not saying that’s what it is, only where I’d look next. And if it is bipolar then lets thank every god out there that his parents where quick enough to get him in to see us before he started cycling.
“And that you caught it,” Foster said as he stood disgust colouring his voice.
“You caught it,” Kim said firmly. “You just didn’t know what it was you’d caught. That’s why they call it a teaching hospital.”
“Well, I’ll bring you your apple tomorrow, teach. You free for lunch at Chez County Caf? My treat.”
“Thanks but I have plans already. C’mon in,” Kim said as there was a light knock on the open door. “Christie, Kate, this is Dr. Foster. Foster, my friends Christie and Kate.”
“We kinda met in an elevator last week,” Foster said to Christie as he shook her hand before turning to Kate. “Pleased to meet you. Have a good lunch, Dr. Legaspi and thanks for your help.”
“You’ve got the ER pager?”
“Okay, Dr. DeRaad is in budget meetings upstairs so page him if it’s an oh-my-god emergency and page me if it’s an stall-for-15-minutes emergency.”
“You want me to sit in on the session?”
“Yeah, I’d like that.”
“Okay, set it up,” Kim said as they left the office.
“Probably this afternoon. Now, have a good lunch and don’t worry. Everything is totally under control. Good to meet you both,” Foster said as the elevator door shut and the pager went off.
After what felt like several hours Foster finally found himself using the ER admit desk, unsure if he was leaning against it casually or to prevent himself from falling down in exhaustion.
“How is it going, Dr. Foster?”
“That depends, Dr. Weaver, on whether this would be considered a busy day or a light day,” Foster said as he leaned against the admit desk, elbows resting on the counter top.
Kerry looked around the crowded chairs, the several patients on gurneys and in wheelchairs before stopping on the board. “Fair to middlin’, Dr. Foster.”
“Then it is going just peachy. Is it one o’clock yet?”
“About quarter after,” Kerry said, slightly confused before a memory kicked in. “Ah, second Tuesday. Kim’s out of the hospital with her… friends. I’m sure she’s back by now.”
Foster buried his face into his hand. “Yes, but I want the illusion that I can handle things before paging Dr. Legaspi down. To misquote Monty Python, ‘and then an hour that seemed like a year - passed.’”
There was a soft snort from Randi. “That bad?” Kerry asked.
Foster drew himself up. “I was reminded recently that this was a teaching hospital.”
“Hey, Dr. Foster! I gotta guy a few RAM short in the old mother board. Thinks he’s Bill Gates,” Malucci said, dropping another clipboard onto Foster’s stack.
“Ah, another learning experience. Randi could you please start paging Dr. Legaspi for consults directly until I can get her the ER pager?” Foster said. “I’m going to go talk with Mr. Gates, try to get some Window tips and maybe some funding and see if he needs a vacation here. Lead on, MacLucci.”
Kerry turned to stare at Randi as if she’d just grown a second head.
“It’s from a movie which I can tell you never saw and I’m not sure if you’d love it or hate it.” There was a snap of a bubble.
“And,” Kerry prompted after Randi so showed no sign of continuing.
“Oh. Dr. Foster reminds me of a little Dr. Legaspi.”
Kerry looked down the corridor to where Foster sat in a hard plastic chair talking with his patient. “How so?”
“They don’t just dope and rope. They’re funny. They care,” Randi said, turning back to her magazine. “Easy on the eyes,” she added quietly, but loud enough for Kerry to hear and to cause a smile that lasted for most the day.
It was, Kerry thought, the most calm and perfect time of the day.
Especially if you kept your eyes half closed.
“You watching me?”
“Hmmm-mm,” Kerry could feel the lazy smile form as she opened her eyes.
For several minutes Kerry continued to watch as Kim prepared for the day, moving in and out of the en suite and ignoring Kerry. Some mornings Kim would play it up, a reverse strip tease that often lead to a hurried strip and eventually a mad dash to work. Other days, such as today, Kim merely dressed. Which, Kerry found in a delightedly perverse fashion, even more erotic.
I am, Kerry thought, so whipped.
“Whatchya thinking?” Kim asked.
“Are we living together?”
“Technically, no,” Kim said, coming to sit on the bed and capturing Kerry’s hand from her knee. “What brought this on?”
“I don’t know,” Kerry replied, focusing on Kim’s left foot.
“Kerry,” Kim growled.
“Kim,” Kerry growled back. “I really don’t know. I was just watching you. And thinking how nice it is…”
“And how scary it would be not to have this?” Kim prompted after Kerry trailed off.
“Yes. No. More like I how much I want it every day.”
Kim glanced at the clock radio, did some mental calculations and squeezed Kerry’s hand.
“Unless I call in there’s probably not enough time right now.”
“I know,” Kerry said. “There’s no rush.”
Kim frowned slightly, pausing to choose her words. “There’s no rush to finalize the details and such this morning. We’ll talk about it at lunch or when you get home tonight. But Kerry?”
“I love you. I want a life together with you. Here, your place, a new place, a shoe box on the street. Got it?”
“Got it,” Kerry said, holding tightly to Kim’s hand, “You should go.”
“You should sleep some more,” Kim said, thumb gently massaging the back of Kerry’s hand.
Kerry groaned slightly, finally releasing Kim. “You should really go now.”
“Oh, yeah. See you at work?”
“If you can swing an early lunch I can meet you for breakfast at the cafeteria.”
“That actually makes sense. I’ll meet you there,” Kim said getting up reluctantly. “Now, sleep.”
But she didn’t.
“First question,” Kim said as she ate lunch and Kerry ate breakfast, “is which house.”
“I know we spend more time at yours but if it’s permanent I’d rather it be mine.”
“Fair enough. Why?”
“Well, if you include the basement mine is bigger. God knows we’ll need the closet space.”
Kim let the closet tease pass as she took a bite of sandwich and chewed thoughtfully. “There’s another reason though.”
Briefly Kerry met Kim’s gaze before dropping her eyes to the tabletop. “I bought it because it already had a lot of modifications which might be useful if I loose some mobility down the road.”
“Look at me,” Kim said, raising Kerry’s head and then stroking up along her jaw to cup the back of her neck and pull her slightly forward across the narrow table. “That doesn’t matter to me.”
“It’s reality, Kim. It may be the future and I need to keep it in mind now,” Kerry said, distracted by analyzing how natural the intimate touch felt and how the fact that it was in public was not causing massive panic attacks.
“We need to keep it in mind. We’ll keep your place,” Kim said and then grinned. “We’ll need the extra closets.”
“You want me to describe Dr. Dave’s face right now?” Kim asked, focusing briefly over Kerry’s shoulder.
Laughing Kerry stood, took a step to stand beside Kim before bending down to give her a quick kiss. “No, but you can describe the one he’s making now to me when I get home.
“Okay, coffee makers. Mine is about five years old.”
Glancing over Kerry’s shoulder at the gleaming chrome monster that covered about a square yard of Kerry’s counter. As well as making plain, ordinary coffee it made espresso, cappuccino, café au lait, frothed milk for said beverages as well as a wicked hot chocolate confection that Kerry made on occasion.
“Mine was $9.95 from some discount place last year and it is so going. As long as you make the coffee.”
Kerry raised an eyebrow in protest.
“C’mon, the owner’s manual on my car is smaller,” Kim defended.
“Its smaller than the section on the human hand in Gray’s Anatomy’s.”
“You are never going to let that one go, are you?”
“Nope. How about we keep both. Yours for everyday and mine for serious coffee.”
“That works. Are we ready to move on to the next room on the list. Say, the bedroom?” Kim asked hopefully.
“Bedroom is last and we’re only half done the kitchen list.”
“This seemed like such a good idea when you suggested it.”
“It is a good idea. There’s no way we can fit two full houses into one so we just determine where there’s duplication and obsolete items and donate them to a woman’s shelter.”
“It just seems so… so…” Kim said, vaguely waving her hand to encompass the dining room table covered in neat lists, various owner’s manuals and a scale floor plan with colour coded paper shapes representing furniture.
“Commitment? Final? What?”
“Anal. My god, Kerry, you’ve got both our CD collections cross matched.”
“There’s some duplication. Actually, I meant to ask. Why do you have eight copies of ‘Fumbling toward Ecstasy?”
Kim turned the most amazing shade of red.
“I’d rather not say,” she said stiffly.
“Okay,” Kerry said, turning back to her list.
“It’s rather embarrassing and I was much younger and it was my friends, not me, and I’d just rather not say. And reverse psychology is not going to work here, Kerry.”
“Fine. No problem. Let’s get back to the list. Three toaster ovens?”
Red turned to purple as Kim buried her head in her arms.
“Dr. Weaver. We have incoming, ETA two minutes. GSW female adult.”
“Malucci, finish up for Dr. Kovac and tell him to meet me at the bay. Frank, notify surgery and try to get someone down to do an assessment. And make sure Trauma One is ready this time, please!” Kerry ordered as she made her way to exit.
The ambulance bay was quiet, the support staff giving Kerry plenty of room and privacy. Closing her eyes she tried to find focus, pushing out the sound of traffic except the very dim wail of an approaching siren.
“For the thunder.”
“Ah, yes. Thunder would be applicable. Gun shot wounds.”
“Here it comes.”
Siren still wailing the ambulance pulled to a stop, back doors swinging open as the cluster of people rushed in to help pull out the gurneys.
“Thank god,” the paramedic said, looking out to the two doctors. “I’m losing her.”
“Go,” Kerry said, slapping Luka’s back. He sprang into the ambulance.
“Who’s that?” Luka asked, nodding at a small figure holding onto the gurney railing with a white knuckled grip.
“Son we think. He just latched on and it was easier to bring him than leave him for the cops. We think he called it in.”
“Poor child, to see this happen,” Luka said before turning all of his attention back to the woman.
“How’s it going, Luka?” Kerry asked.
“Kerry, I have a child here. A witness,” Luka called from inside the ambulance. “Okay, she can roll.”
“Yoshi, call Psych and try to get Dr. Foster. Let’s get inside now.”
The small procession made its way from the ambulance bay to the trauma room, loosing and gaining people as samples were taken and needed supplies arrived. For Kerry time began to distort as she and her team began to repair and access the patient. Vaguely she was aware of Corday’s arrival, merely accepting her help and integrating her into the trauma team. It wasn’t until Malek dropped the pan of instruments and Haleh yelped that Kerry became aware of the small boy standing in the doorway.
Holding a gun.
Pointed at Kerry.
“Frank, you paged?”
“Dr. Foster. They brought in a young boy with his mom. Dr. Weaver thought it was up your alley.”
“Where is he?”
Frank pointed towards chairs. “Right th… he was there.” Scanning the area Frank again pointed towards the doors of the trauma room. “There he is!”
Foster looked up as the small child pulled a gun from under his shirt and entered the room.
The room froze at Kerry’s command.
“Honey, you have to put the gun down.”
“Fix her,” the boy repeated.
“Dr. Weaver,” called out a loud voice from just outside the door. “I have those important things you need to help your patient. May I come in?”
“You’re blocking the door,” Kerry said patiently. The boy looked around quickly before moving to the side, gun never wavering from Kerry.
“You can come in, Dr. Foster.”
Foster entered, covered tray in hand. Ignoring the boy totally he handed the tray to Yosh and then moving back to the doorway.
“Oh, hey, who are you?” Foster asked as if seeing the boy for the first time and seemingly oblivious to the gun.
“Billy. William Fletcher.”
“Nice to meet you,” Foster said, crouching down so that the gun pointed at this forehead. “My name’s William too but most people call me Foster.”
“Make them fix mom.”
“Well, William, there’s a problem there. Dr. Weaver and Dr. Kovac are doing the best they can. But grownups get pretty silly about guns. They find it real hard to work. Like doing your homework with the TV on. Does your mom let you do that?”
“No. She makes us wait.”
“Same thing. So how about we go up to my office upstairs. Dr. Weaver will come when your mom is feeling better, okay?”
There was a slight pause and then the boy nodded.
“Better give me the gun. We don’t want to scare anyone in the waiting room, okay?”
“Okay,” he said, allowing Foster to take the gun.
“C’mon, you can help me settle in my new rabbit.”
“So it turned out okay?” Kim asked, gently massaging Kerry’s toes. Dim lights, Diana Krall on the stereo and a glass of white wine balanced on her chest, Kerry stretched a bit more along the couch, several vertebrae popping as her body relaxed even more.
“We almost lost her twice but she’s a fighter. If she makes it the next 12 hours she’ll pull through. I popped into Psych before I left and talked to Foster. He did an evaluation and arranged for the boy to stay at the hospital. It’s under the pretence of further evaluation but Foster wanted the boy to be close to his mother. I can’t imagine what he must be feeling. It was your basic mix of idiot parent and curious child. You’d think if they’d spend a couple of hundred to buy a gun they’d spend the extra ten to get a trigger guard.”
“Foster did the session?”
“DeRaad sat in but Foster ran it.”
“Shaken when I talked to him later. I don’t know if I should write him up for a reprimand or a medal. Maybe both. It was over so quickly.”
“Kerry, can I ask you a question?” after a few minutes of peaceful silence.
“If you’d had a day like this before,” Kim said, putting the emphasis on ‘before’ to indicate the time before everything went to hell, “you’d have been all over me. And I’m curious; not complaining.”
“Robert A. Heinlein said that the key to a good marriage was to rub her feet.”
“That’s your answer?” Kim asked, tone even and thankful that Kerry couldn’t see her expression through her closed eyes.
“Before,” Kerry said, clearly remembering the few times she had shown up on Kim’s door with no clear idea of the journey from the hospital to Temple Street. “I would have been coming to you for oblivion, not for comfort. You could just make it all go away.”
“Comfort. Okay, now I am complaining,” Kim said, tone light and teasing.
“Comfort now,” Kerry said, nudging Kim with her heel. “Oblivion later.”
“As you wish,” Kim said, returning to her task.
There was a pause. “Kim, do I have to worry about him?”
“No,” Kim said after a pause. “Not specifically.” There was another pause. “I’m not his psychiatrist.”
“I know but I need to know how reckless he might be.”
“My personal opinion is that he won’t endanger the staff or patients.”
“You qualified that fairly precisely.”
“He’s young. The fact that he was shaken is good. He doesn’t have a death wish, Kerry. And he knows he’s not invincible.”
“But he is a risk taker.” Which was a statement of fact and not a question.
Kim smiled. “Aren’t we all?”
“Dr. Foster, what are you doing with that thing in my ER?”
The crowd at the admittance desk scattered leaving Dr. Foster, Randi and one fairly curious rodent.
“Rocket, meet Dr. Kerry Weaver, Chief of Emergency Medicine here. Kerry, this is Rocket.”
Stunned silence fell.
“You named your rabbit after Romano?” Kerry finally asked.
“Well, after several conversations with the man and after the rabbit bit me,” Foster said, holding a hand with a bright Barney bandage on his index finger, “I sensed a kindred spirit.”
“He bites?” Kerry asked. Randi snickered.
“Just a bit frisky but he should calm down next week,” Foster said, a sudden grin appearing.
“I’m getting him neutered then,” Foster explained.
“You know,” Kerry said, a faraway and happy expression on her face. “I like the name.”
“Hallelujah, praise the lord, we are nearly finished the lists!”
“Kim,” Kerry said, voice dropping an octave.
“We should check out the bed a few times before making a decision.”
“Kim,” Kerry said, voice dropping even lower so that Kim could almost feel it vibrating against her rib cage.
“Fine. Okay, list before test-drives. Which bedroom set do we get rid of?” Kim asked in what could only be described as petulantly.
“Umm, neither. I was thinking that we could move the office into the basement apartment. Then your set could go there for a guest room or something like that.”
“Okay,” Kim said, “but why not just use the apartment as a guest room if you’re not going to rent it out?”
“Well, I thought,” Kerry said, voice suddenly hesitant and quiet. “That if we had guests or maybe, someday, you know, if, umm, children we’d want them to be close.”
“Was that,” Kerry asked after a minute, “a good ‘Oh’ or a bad ‘Oh’ or an omigawd ‘Oh’ before I go running screaming to the hills?”
“I think,” Kim said, slowly, “it was a I’m totally taken aback by this ‘Oh’.”
“Okay,” Kerry said, staring down at her notes and doodling on them to avoid actually looking at Kim, “I know it’s not something that we’ve ever discussed or anything and I know it’s probably premature and I shouldn’t have sprung it like this and…”
Kim had always known that being tall had advantages. Being picked first for pickup basketball games regardless of her actual skill. Reaching things of the top shelf in stores without trying to find an elusive staff person. Being easy to spot in movie lobby crowds.
The ability to lean across the table, lift Kerry’s head and break the babble cycle topped them all.
“It was a good ‘Oh’,” Kim said as the kiss ended.
Foster looked up from his files and smiled. “Dr. Legaspi. How can I help you?”
Kim glanced up and down the corridor. “Can I hide out here for a bit? Sanity break.”
“Of course. I’m just finishing up these discharges. Why don’t you play with the TLD.”
“Therapeutic Leporidae Device. Had to justify the rabbit in the budget.”
“Hey, Rocket,” Kim said, taking the rabbit gently from its cage and nestling it on her chest.
“How his namesake would envy the dumb beast,” Foster said before returning to his work.
A peaceful quarter hour passed, the only sound inside the room the scratch of Foster’s pen and the occasional soothing noise from Kim as she scratched around Rocket’s ears.
“You ready to talk now?” Foster asked, closing the final file.
“Talk?” Kim asked, looking up from where she lay sprawled across the end of Foster’s couch.
“Talk. You played with my bunny, now you have to talk. It’s a rule.”
“What makes you think I came here to talk?”
Wordlessly Foster pointed to his SLU diploma.
“Fine,” Kim snapped in mock exasperation. “If you’re so brilliant what do I want to talk about?”
“Kerry. Specifically your personal relationship together.”
“Oh,” Kim said, rising and putting Rocket back in his cage and secured the top. “Why wouldn’t I talk to my friends?”
“Puh-leez, I met Kate and Christie? They have XGF labels on their forehead. You’re not going to talk to them about problems in your current relationship with your exes or other gay friends.”
“True. Well, I have friends here.”
“All of whom know Kerry. Most for longer than you.”
“Ergo me. Spill, Kim, what’s bothering you?” Foster asked, putting his feet up on the corner of his desk. “She asked you to move in?”
“I’ve lived with people before.”
“But it was sharing an apartment. This is a house. Mortgage payments and taxes and … and Jesus, Foster.”
“So this is about money?”
“Of course not! This is about joint bank accounts and lists and rubbing her feet being the secret of a successful marriage and children. My God, Foster, she’s organizing the entire move so that if we have kids its already set up.”
“So this is about commitment.”
“You need the bunny?”
Despite herself Kim smiled and shook her head.
“Look,” Foster said, coming around the desk and taking Kim’s hands in his as he sat on the chair across from her. “Want my diagnosis?”
“The patient is scared shitless.”
Kim laughed. “I think I was coming to that conclusion on my own. So am I going to have to lay on the couch and listen to your Freud impersonation?”
“Nope. Because, Kim, if you weren’t scared then I’d be worried. You and Kerry are taking a big step here. And whether it’s before a group of friends and family or just each other or just you here,” he said, tapping her above her heart, “deciding that is pretty scary.”
“Thanks, Foster,” Kim said.
“Ah, no thanks until you hear my prescription. Which is, talk to your partner because she’s as scared as you.”
Kim shook her head, “Kerry’s not scared.”
“Well, she hasn’t dropped by to play with Rocket but I’m pretty sure this scared thing is mutual.”
“She wouldn’t play with the rabbit. She doesn’t freak out like I do. She just gets sort of shy and hesitant.”
“Shy and hesitant? We are talking about Kerry Weaver? Yea high and red hair?”
“Very funny. No, she really does. It’s kind of cute. She sort of steps sideways into the suggestion to test the waters.”
Later Foster would swear he could hear the clue by four hitting Kim’s forehead.
“Like making a kid’s bedroom. Like the power of attorney papers she left on the kitchen counter. Like the whole moving in thing. I am so stupid,” she groaned, burying her face in her hands.
“Nah,” Foster said, patting her head in reassurance. “Love is blind and the fine print on your diploma says it doesn’t apply to family. God knows I wish it did. Was Kerry married before?”
“Yeah, briefly and a long time ago.”
“Then she’s probably also confused and trying to map the heterosexual rules onto this. And as there are no real external rules in your situation you have to make your own. Understand?”
“Understood, Dr. Foster,” Kim said, giving him a brief hug. “You’re a prince, Foster. Why are you still single?”
“Why are you?”
“I think, after tonight, I won’t be. Seriously, why haven’t you been snapped up?”
“You know the old saying. All the good ones are taken or gay. Or won’t give me the time of day.”
“I’m in the kitchen making dinner.”
There was dead silence from the foyer for a minute.
“Pardon me?” Kerry finally asked, peaking into the kitchen.
“I am making dinner.”
“I thought you couldn’t cook.”
“Didn’t, not couldn’t. And frankly if it’s not in my Cooking for Dummies you have a fifty percent chance of getting takeout after the smoke detector goes off.”
“And you’ve waited this long to tell me this?”
“Kerry, I’ve paid you a high compliment by putting all the cooking chores on you. It’s a testament of how much I enjoy your expertise in the kitchen.”
“I see. What’s the menu?”
“Umm, some kind of sauce on pasta. Cesar salad from a kit. Frozen garlic bread that you stick in the oven.”
“Should the ‘some kind of sauce’ worry me?”
“Not unduly. We were trying for Alfredo but we may have taken the proverbial left turn at Albuquerque. It should be ready by the time you change.”
“Alright, see you in about ten minutes then.”
The dining room glowed with the soft light of candles and Kerry paused in the doorway to admire it.
“It looks nice,” Kerry said as Kim came up behind her.
“Only the best for my girl,” Kim said holding Kerry until she relaxed back against her. “I was going to bring this up after but since I have you here now. A captive audience so to speak…”
“I told you that I wanted to share my life with you a couple of days ago.”
“Yes?” Kerry said and Kim could feel her begin to tense.
“Easy,” Kim said, hugging tighter, “That hasn’t changed. I just need to explain some things.”
“That, while I find the idea of joint bank accounts and children and power of attorneys positively scary, it is nothing compared to the absolute terror of not having you in my life. And that if I keep in mind that we’re doing this together then none of it is scary.”
“You’re scared,” Kerry asked.
“Yeap. Shitless was the diagnosis,” Kim said happily. “And I have it on good authority that you’re probably scared too. Even if you haven’t stroked Foster’s bunny.”
“Do I want to know what that last sentence meant?” Kerry asked.
“It’s perfectly innocent,” Kim said, smiling into Kerry’s hair as she enjoyed the sensation of Kerry’s silent laughter.
“I’m sure it is,” Kerry said as she turned in Kim’s arms. Both ignored the dull clatter as the crutch hit the floor and the hug was returned. “I’m scared too,” Kerry confirmed.
“But?” Kim asked. “I heard a silent but.”
“But you make it easier.”