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 = 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 email@example.com
The Emergency Department was quiet. ‘Too quiet’ Kim Legaspi added in her best Texan scout accent. The quiet before the savages, also know as the Chicago evening commuters, attacked. She smiled at Randi and Abby at the admit desk. They smiled back. Strange, bizarre smiles that sent off a host of warning sirens, claxons and lights.
‘Yellow alert. Course change to admit desk. Shields up.’
“Hey, Doctor Legaspi.”
Kim’s eyes narrowed, “The rumour made it down here already?”
The other two women exchanged glances before giving identical nods.
“And does Ker… Doctor Weaver know?”
“Ker… Doctor Weaver does not know,” answered Randi with the sincerity of someone trying very hard not to laugh.
“Ker… Doctor Weaver does not pay any attention to the gossiping that infects this place like a virus,” Abby added.
“Ker… Doctor Weaver is on a lunch break by the river,” Randi said, studiously casual.
“If a friend would like to tell Ker… Doctor Weaver about the rumour before Doctor Malucci does in his own unique and spine chilling manner that might be a good thing,” Abby said.
Kim’s head dropped until the metal clamp of the clipboard pressed into her forehead. “Oh, God.”
“Right back at ya.”
“What’s the reaction in the department?”
“Well, right up front I should say that the smallest group is the ‘oh, ick’ people,” Randi said.
“Smallest is good.”
“However, the largest group seems to be the ‘well, duh’ people.”
“Right back at ya.”
“Carter?” Kim asked, knowing about the soft spot Kerry held for the young man.
“Mumbled something like ‘that explains all the Ani DiFranco’ and walked away humming “Anything Goes’.”
Kim shook her head in bemusement wondering which was more surprising, Carter’s easy acceptance or Randi recognizing a Cole Porter song. “River?”
“River,” they confirmed.
There was something calm and peaceful and cooling about the river and Kim could easily see why the emergency personnel preferred it. Although getting there and back ate up most of a fifteen-minute break the effect was worth it. Slow moving water, slow moving boats, even the joggers and cyclists seemed slower than their counterparts elsewhere.
She spotted Kerry, alone on a bench with a magazine and a sandwich. Steeling herself she moved forward and sat, waiting patiently until Kerry became aware of her. Answering her smile with one of her own.
“Mind if I join you for a bit?”
“You already have,” Kerry answered, taking a sip from a bottle of apple juice. “Something up?”
“What is?” Kerry asked, taking another sip and Kim waited until it was safely swallowed.
An unconscious smile tugged at Kim’s mouth. “That seems to be the common response.”
“Well, apparently Romano talked to his lawyer about a potential civil rights case. Apparently it got pretty loud and Romano’s secretary over heard. Romano’s secretary mentioned it to her boyfriend the orderly and about five hundred of her closest friends, one of which works on the psych floor and that’s how it got to the 10th floor. I got it from two nurses and a clerk.”
“I’m not sure exactly when or how it hit the emergency department…”
“…But Randi, Abby and Carter at least know…”
“…But Malucci doesn’t.”
With a small whimper Kerry leaned forward until her head was effectively buried in her arms. After a few minutes of river watching Kim reached over, running her fingertips lightly over Kerry’s spine.
“Kerrrrrry,” she coaxed. “C’mon, Ker.”
Kerry sat bolt upright, nearly trapping Kim’s hand between her back and the bench. “I’m okay.”
“Of course you are.”
“Damn it, we’re all adults.”
“Malucci excepted but we’re all adults and we should all be able to… Oh, God.”
“No. I mean, not at the moment but I will be. Thanks for giving me advance warning.”
“Hey, what are friends for?”
The comfortable silence stretched out for several minutes of river watching.
“Go ahead, ask,” Kerry finally said.
“WHY THE BLOODY HELL DIDN’T YOU TELL ME WHAT YOU’D DONE!” Kim exploded.
“The main reason is because I didn’t want you to think that I thought what I did now made up for what I did and didn’t say before.”
Kerry nodded a bit nonplussed. “I see.”
“No, you don’t.” Kim said, smiling. “What you said to Romano this time can’t change what you did or didn’t say in the past.” Kerry nodded understanding. “This a new thing and a pretty brave thing to do. And in the men’s room yet.”
“Thank God he was just washing his hands,” Kerry muttered. She shook her head to stop that particular mental image from forming. “Another reason I didn’t tell you was that I’m not exactly proud of loosing my temper. Outing myself to Robert just wasn’t something I’d planned. It was just the reaction to some things that have been building for years. Other people who were forced out, the Wallace thing and how you were treated differently just because you were a lesbian. And then Robert having the arrogance to say it wasn’t my fight and suddenly it was my fight. And it just all burst out.”
“Hard to be proud of a volcano,” Kim agreed, smiling.
Kerry gave a very capable impersonation of a gold fish while turning bright red.
“God, Kerry, such a dirty mind in there,” Kim, laughing as she realized what she had said. After a few moments Kerry joined in.
“I have to go back.”
“I’ll walk you back.”
“They might talk.”
“No, Kerry, they’re already talking. This will just give them more to talk about. But I have broad shoulders and I can take it. But you might want to tuck that copy of Girlfriend a little more securely into the AMA Journal.”
WEDNESDAY, A WEEK LATER
“We have to stop meeting like this. People will talk.”
Kim laughed as she sat down, adjusting the brown bag with her lunch. “Funny you should say that. Weirdest thing happened.”
Kerry smiled slightly. “What was that?”
“Elizabeth Corday waylaid me about some dinner thing she and Mark are throwing next week. Show the baby off, thanks for everything when Mark was sick, warm the new house and belated wedding reception for those that had to work on the day party.”
“This is weird?”
“No. The part qualifying as weirdest was the ‘oh and Kim, do bring Kerry’” Kim said in perfect imitation of Elizabeth’s accent.
“I’ve noticed that, with me anyway, the more freaked out you are the less you say.”
“Freaked out. Is that a new clinical term I’m unfamiliar with? I’d have thought you’d go for something like emotionally upset or …”
“And then you go into babble mode and you over analyze on a slightly different tangent to give yourself time to recover.”
“There was a fancy envelope from her in my mail box this morning. I haven’t gotten around to opening it yet.”
“No. Yes. I mean, Elizabeth and I didn’t get along that well before she went on leave and I don’t really blame her for that. I probably could have handled the whole situation about Mark getting tested with a little, okay a lot, more tact and Mark’s a good doctor and collegue and friend so I shouldn’t be worried…”
“Don’t make me break the babble cycle, Kerry,” Kim warned
“Break the cycle how?” Kerry asked, wondering exactly what method Kim would use until the ER lounge at Christmas flashed in her mind and how easily Kim had broken that particular babble cycle.
Which effectively broke this babble cycle as she tried desperately to come up with more nonsense to babble.
“Damn,” Kerry said, not realizing she’d spoken aloud until she saw Kim’s sudden grin.
“Its still there, isn’t?” Kerry asked.
“Yeah, but we don’t have to act on it. And I won’t act on it until the trust is there.”
“Until you trust me.”
“No,” Kim said. “Until you
FRIDAY, A WEEK LATER
“This was a good idea at the river,” Kerry said.
“Separate cars, arrived a half hour apart and we’re still getting the ‘couple’ look.”
“Maybe that’s what happened between Peter and Cleo. They just gave in to the inevitable.”
They smiled and nodded at people over their punch glasses, the tide and ebb of the party taking them in and then depositing them back into a quiet corner.
“Can I ask you a question?”
“I was chatting with Elizabeth and some others. She mentioned one of the baby presents. A book from, and I swear she made the little sign for air quotes, the mystery book giver.”
“The mystery book giver. That’s nice, what did they get.”
Kim stared at Kerry suspiciously. “Some rare early edition of Winnie the Pooh for the baby.”
“I found out that over the last five or so years everyone here has received similar gifts. No card, just a book that they’d always loved or that they’d heard about. Usually early editions. Sometimes signed by the author. Carter said he got one in rehab that saved his life.”
“Doubtless he’s exaggerating.”
“Books,” Kerry said softly, just when Kim was about to give up on an answer. “They’re like an old friend. They’re always there for you. You can read them again and it’s comfortable. You can hold them and touch them without fear. You can depend on them and they never let you down.” She looked up from her punch glass into Kim’s wide-eyed stare. “What? What did I say?”
“God, Kerry, you’re a psychiatrist’s wet dream.”
Kerry stood waiting.
“I meant to get on the couch. I meant to -stop smirking at me,” Kim ordered as she tried in vain to control the blush burning her ears. Lacking a clipboard and hindered by the drink in hand Kim finally resorted to covering her face with her left hand. “Take me now, Lord.”
“You’ve never called me ‘lord’ before. New pet name?”
Kim stared at Kerry. “They were right. You are evil.”
“If I were evil I’d be taping this,” her voice trailing off as something clearly distracted her.
Kim looked up sharply, watching Kerry stare at some new arrivals chatting with Mark. Obviously old friends, she decided watching the young family. The wife and kids peeled off to find Elizabeth and the baby while the two men continued talking. She smiled automatically when both looked at her. And Kerry. Kim and Kerry, Kim realized as the stranger’s eyes widened slightly and his smile threatened to turn into a grin.
“That’s Doug Ross. Use to work at County with Mark,” Kerry said and the warning bells went off in Kim’s head as Kerry’s distant tone and the name triggered a year old memory.
“Oh,” Kim said, falsely bright, “I must introduce myself.”
“Kim, wait,” Kerry whispered as a vague sense of unease starting growing at Kim’s tone of voice but Kim was gone, already talking to the two men. Mark’s was the only expression Kerry could see as the back of Kim’s head effectively blocked Doug’s face. The feeling of unease grew as Mark’s face paled and then turned the colour of his surname.
“Kerry,” Doug said, suddenly appearing in front of Kerry. She shot a nervous glance behind him noting the still pale Mark and Kim’s intense stare which seemed focused on the back of Doug’s head. “I always meant… I mean… that thing I did? In the lounge? It was an immature prank and I’m really sorry and oh, look, your drink. Let me get you a refill. Good to see you again and we must talk later and catch up.”
Kerry watched Doug thread his way to the kitchen and the impromptu bar.
“So, that was Doug Ross.”
“Kim Legaspi, what did you say to him?”
“Me? Nothing,” Kim answered, her innocent tone belied by the incredibly smug look on her face. “Introduced myself, told him I was your friend and that if he didn’t get his ass over here and apologize for that stunt in the lounge all those years ago then his wife was going to have to find out just how satisfying mouth and hands were because I was going to rip off his dick.”
The stunned silence lasted three minutes.
“Yeap. Why? Too over the top?”
“How did you hear about that?” Kerry asked as she had assumed that the long ago incident was remembered only by herself. She filed away the feeling of having someone stand up for here for later analysis.
“It’s Weaver-lore. If anyone asks, even if they don’t ask, that story is used to show how… professional you are. How someone did that and you never let it show or affect your working relationship.”
“Stone cold bitch. Heartless harpy,” Kim admitted. “My friend,” Kim added which drew another smile.
"He and Susan did apologize. However, this one seemed more sincere," Kerry said. "And much more satisfying. Maybe it was the edge of terror in his voice."
“Ahem.” Both women looked to see Carter holding two glasses of punch. “Compliments of Doug Ross who is not, and I stress the word ‘not’, cowering in the kitchen.”
“Thank you, John. Enjoying yourself?”
Carter shrugged with a slight smile directed mainly to Kim. “Its interesting to see people outside the normal environment. However, I’ve got to head over to my grandparents still tonight so I’m going to have to make my goodbyes. And call a cab.”
Kerry glanced at Kim who nodded. “Why not take my car, John?” Kerry offered. “Out next shifts are together so I can pick it up then.”
“I can’t leave you stranded here, Kerry,” John protested.
“I’ll take Kerry home,” Kim said. “Her home,” she added at Carter’s startled look.
“Just let me get the keys and papers,” Kerry said heading to the bedroom where Mark had deposited jackets and purses and returning with them a few moments later.
Again the party invaded their oasis, separating and taking them in. Occasionally Kerry would catch a glimpse of Kim, always the focus of any group and once in deep conversation with Carol. A conversation Kerry resolved to never, never ask about. Eventually Kerry realized that she was enjoying herself, something that had rarely happened at staff social functions, and it was almost with a sense of regret that she found herself in Kim's vehicle.
“Mind if we go by the hospital?”
“Of course not,” Kerry said as her eyelids fluttered, the hectic day followed by a long evening combined with a singular lack of caffeine in her system creating a comfortably drowsy feeling.
“Rest,” Kim murmured, brushing the back of Kerry’s hand briefly. “I gotchya.”
The gradual slowing and parking of the car woke Kerry gently. Looking out she realized that they were at the small parking lot by the river that the hospital staff frequented and that while she had slept Kim had recaptured her hand gently.
“This isn’t the hospital.”
A slight squeeze and Kim let go of Kerry’s hand. “I apologize for misleading you but I wanted a place that was neutral ground without you worrying on the way.”
“You want to talk,” Kerry said accusingly.
“I want us to talk.”
“Is this going to be a ‘same place’ talk?”
Kim smiled. “More like a ‘same destination’ talk. Walk with me?”
The breeze was cool, just hinting that soon the weather would change. They stood silently, watching the lights and rippling wave, content to simply wait in each other’s company.
“So,” Kim asked finally. “How’s this friend thing going?”
“Pretty good,” Kerry replied cautiously. “I think I’ve mentioned before that we get along and work together well.”
“And I don’t want to be simply friends. That never really changed, Kim.”
Kim smiled, unseen by Kerry. “Same here.”
They watched a police launch travel against the flow, search light briefly illuminating them.
“Trust me not to push too hard?” Kim asked quietly, staring at the river and not Kerry.
“Yes. Trust me not to deny me and us?”
Kim nodded, risking a quick glance at Kerry and seeing in her profile a gentle smile of contentment.
A feeling of peace and contentment washed over Kim and she stared up at the stars obscured by the urban glow and exhaled slowly before looking down at Kerry again. Wanting nothing so much as to kiss her. And knowing it was too much and too soon.
“Where do we go from here?”
“I take you home,” Kim said. “Your home.”
Both hearing the unspoken ‘this
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