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 PG, 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.
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During the summer months the staff tended to avoid the roof, especially during the day when the sun heated the black tarmac, preferring the cooler breeze off the river for their breaks. Only the most avid of smokers braved the heat for a quick fix.
Or someone desperately needing solitude.
From the doorway Kim watched Kerry, slouching over the balustrade before approaching her. Afraid of startling her Kim kicked a patch of loose gravel causing a skitter of noise and Kerry to give a brief glance over her shoulder.
“May I?” Kim asked, hands resting feather light on Kerry’s shoulders. Taking the dropping of Kerry’s head for agreement Kim began to massage her shoulders, surprised at the stiffness. Which meant that she’d been using the crutch for support rather than merely balance. Which meant that her leg was probably causing her a fair amount of pain.
“Can I ask you a question?”
Over the last few weeks, since their tentative reclamations of their friendship in the emergency department lounge, Kim had taken to asking that. Sometimes they were simple, favourite colour or movie or song - things that had been missed the first time around. Kerry knew that it wasn’t one of those.
“Sure,” Kerry nodded, as she always did.
“Your hip. You never volunteer what happened, what’s wrong with it.”
Kerry stared down at the ground so many stories below. “Funny, you’re the first adult that ever asked.”
“Actually, I didn’t ask. I asked why you never volunteer the information.”
“Hair splitter,” Kerry said, tsking quietly before turning to Kim, measuring her stance and expression. Kim’s hands dropped to her sides and she took a half step back, out of Kerry’s intimate space and back into the friend zone. “It’s part of me. Has been for a long time. I don’t want people to see my crutch and … I can’t explain it.”
“Try. It’s important to me.”
Kerry sighed; turning back to studying the ground and feeling Kim’s resume the massage. “I want people to ignore the crutch. I don’t want it to be a reminder of how it happened. What does the shrink have to say about that?”
“The shrink thinks that you’re afraid of pity. She thinks that you don’t want to be the poster child for drunk drivers, madmen with guns or the importance of polio inoculations. She thinks that you want people to see you as someone who’s been thrown a challenge and has beaten it rather than using it as an excuse.”
“Drunk drivers, guns and polio? Oh my.”
“That’s the current pool. The drunk driver is winning although, frankly, most people are very sympathetic to a shooter.”
Kim could feel Kerry’s shoulders relax a bit more as they vibrated slightly from the chuckle.
“Why don’t they just check my charts?”
Kim shook her head, unseen but felt through the physical connection. “It’s not in your records here and you know it. And no, I didn’t check but someone did.”
“I didn’t think you’d check. You’re too professional. I’ll have to talk with Malucci.”
“Don’t bother, he did it when he was younger and stupider and has been chastised thoroughly.” Kerry’s shoulders were no longer knotted but the massage continued, a fact that both were vaguely aware of yet in no hurry to correct. “If I asked, would you tell me?”
“And if I don’t ask, someday - maybe, you’ll tell me?”
“Good.” Kim paused, fingers lightly digging into the now relaxed shoulder muscles. “You ready to really talk now?”
And feeling them tense again.
“About why Carter phoned me thinking that it would be a good idea for someone to check on you.”
“Someone from psych?” Kerry asked dryly.
“Someone who’s your friend. Someone who knows what can happen in the ER,” Kim corrected before adding wryly. “And someone who knows a bit about psychology.”
“I’d see them if I took the El in for the day shift. Just a mom and dad and their little boy. He’d have been around three when I first noticed them. That was when I first started here. They’d always take the second car, same as me. The dad would read the newspaper and then give the comics to the boy. The mom had a schedule book she was always scribbling in. They’d chat and laugh, the three of them, all the way to my stop when I’d get off and they’d go on. I’d make up stories in my head to pass the time giving them different names and jobs and what pets he had at home. Just to pass the time. Because I didn’t know their names or where he went to school or anything real.”
“And now you do.”
“Adam Schmidt. Born 1992 March 15. Time of death 4:15pm today.”
The sobs were silent, the only clue the shuddering of Kerry’s shoulders. Taking the last half step that separated them Kim hugged Kerry, her arms tight around Kerry’s shoulders, supporting her so that when the crutch clattered to the roof there was no awkwardness or fear to distract from the grief. Only comfort to let the grief go.
“Is that why you specialize in emergency medicine?”
Kerry nodded. “I spent a lot of time in the hospital when I was young. I’d make friends and they’d go away. The nurses would lie to me, say they got better, but I knew. And pretty soon I stopped making friends.”
“And not just at the hospital. Right?”
“Its hard for me to…” Kerry began before snorting in amusement. “I can’t believe I was just about to tell you that it’s hard for me to open up emotionally.”
“Kinda redundant,” Kim acknowledged, giving one last squeeze before releasing Kerry and stepping back into the friendship zone. Silently she waited while Kerry retrieved the crutch and wiped away the worst of the tears.
“Yes,” Kerry said, surprise colouring her answer. “Thank you.”
Kim nodded. “It was a friend thing. Otherwise I’d have to bill you.”
“Well, as an administrator for the hospital I thank you for helping keep our benefit expenses down.”
“Would this be a good time to mention that the hospital doesn’t have a same-sex partner plan as it does for common-law hetro employees?”
“This would be an excellent time. I’ll mention it to Robert at next month’s meeting.”
A grin quirked Kim’s mouth. “You really okay?”
“Yes. And I have to get back to work. Let me walk you down.”
“You really going to bring it up with the Rocket?” Kim asked as she held the roof door.
“Oh yeah. I must make a note
to have a crash cart handy.”
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