SUMMARY: Doug would have a coronary...
Again, if you're not into f/f slash, PLEASE DON'T
READ. If you read it anyway and are offended, you've
none but yourselves to blame. (Okay, you could blame
me, I guess...)
DISCLAIMER: All "ER" characters and institutions are the property of Warner Bros., ConstantC Productions and Amblin Television. This is written strictly for entertainment value, no infringement of copyright or ownership is intended, and nobody is making a profit on this piece.
As always, any errors in continuity,
characterization, or common sense are entirely my own
Takes place just after Season 5 finale.
Hormones, by Scott J. Welles
Carol regarded her caffeine-free soda without enthusiasm. Then she glanced enviously at the steaming cup in Kerry's hands as the attending sipped from it. "Arrgghhh... coffee..." she groaned.
Kerry set the coffee cup down on the table, realizing abruptly that the nurse had probably given up coffee recently. "I'm sorry, Carol, does it bother you?"
"No, but you're lucky it's not a cappuccino. Then I'd have no choice but to pull a Jamie Buchman and suck the last drops right out of your mouth."
Kerry felt a twinge at the image. A nervous little thrill.
Doc Magoo's was crowded, but Kerry was happy to share a booth with Carol. They'd been growing closer in the last few months, perhaps because the presence of Doug Ross no longer stood between them. "You're not going to have anything else?" she asked, nodding at the untouched soda on the table in front of her companion.
"No, thanks. Nothing on the menu appeals to me right now."
"You really should eat something, Carol."
"Why? You're not eating anything."
"No, but I'm not eating for three." Kerry smiled disarmingly.
Carol gave her a rueful grin in reply. "Don't remind me, please. I'm still reeling from the revelation that I've got two people growing inside me. And I'd barely adjusted to the idea of one." She let out a breath. "Naturally, now that I need him most, Doug's not here for me."
Kerry felt the slight cooling inside that she felt whenever the subject of her least favorite pediatrician came up. "You really do love him, don't you?" she asked, gently.
"Well, yeah, but it's not just that, right now. You know what they say about a pregnant woman's sex drive?'
Kerry arched a brow. "So it's true, then?"
"Right now it is. Doesn't even have to be Doug, really, I just wish I had SOMEone. Doug, Tag, Shep, whoever! Lately, it's all I can do to avoid just tackling Mark, or Carter, or Malik, or even Jerry, just someone who'll fuck me already!"
Kerry blushed a little.
Carol noticed. "Sorry, I guess that was a little inappropriate. I know I'm not usually given to that kind of talk, but..."
"No, it's not that, really. You just
mentioned...well, let me just warn you, Jerry Markovic's really not someone you want to wake up next to."
"How do you kn-" Carol bit off her own question, her jaw dropping and her eyes going wide. "Jesus, you can't be serious?!"
The blush deepened.
"Kerry Almighty Weaver, tell me everything!" Carol leaned forward, her eyes aglow.
"Well, you know, he'd been really kind of sniffing around me for a while, commenting on my 'ferociously red hair,' like that. Little things. At first, I thought he was just sucking up to the boss, but eventually I began to realize he was, y'know, IN-terested in me. And, I realized I was kind of flattered by the attention. We were working the late shift one night, and we got off at the same time, and well, one thing led to another and we..." she trailed off.
"You've got to be kidding me!"
"Actually, yes I am." Kerry smiled, suddenly.
"Ohhh, you are an absolute bitch, leading me on like that!" Carol's face was bright with pleasure. They laughed together, and then Carol regarded Kerry thoughtfully. "Kerry, can I ask you something?"
"Why haven't we ever had coffee together like this?"
Kerry nodded at Carol's untouched soft drink. "We're not having coffee together now, either."
"You know what I mean! We've always worked together pretty well, but...well, we've really been getting to be friends lately, haven't we?"
Kerry nodded. "I'd really like to think so," she said. "Is that so surprising?"
"No, I guess not. I mean, we never really connected much on a personal level before. But now, it feels like...I don't know. Like we're closer, you know?"
She nodded again. Privately, she wished that they could be even closer. But how to go about saying so without driving her friend away...?
"I'm sorry, I'm not making much sense," Carol said. "It's these damn hormones, I've been getting emotional at the drop of a hat lately. It's a hazard."
"That's okay," Kerry said quietly. "I understand."
"But I want you to know," Carol added, putting her hand over Kerry's, "that I've felt very close to you lately, Kerry. I mean, when you opened up to me about your mother..." She broke off, suddenly looking abashed. "Sorry, you probably want that kept private."
Kerry nodded. "I'd appreciate it."
"So, I mean, why, if we're friends, is this the first time we've acted like it?"
Kerry regarded the open, earnest quality on Carol's lovely face. She couldn't count the times she'd wanted to be closer to the nurse... "I don't know," she replied.
"Was it Doug?"
Caught in mid-sip, Kerry had to force herself to swallow without spluttering. "I'm sorry?"
"Was it because I was with Doug? Is that why we haven't been closer?"
Kerry thought about denying it, then nodded mutely. The warmth of Carol's hand seemed to burn into her own.
"I always tried not to take sides between you two, professionally," Carol was saying. "I'm sorry if you felt you couldn't approach me because of him."
Kerry knew she should have let it go, but instead she found herself saying, "It wasn't just our professional differences."
"It..." A little voice screamed at her to shut up before it was too late. But, of course, it was too late already. "I don't apologize for any of my official actions regarding Doug," Kerry said, "but I must admit my view of him was often colored by my personal feelings. Mainly while the two of you were together."
"Well, it...it provoked a reaction in me, seeing you with him."
"What kind of reaction?"
"Jealousy." The word came out before she could stop it.
"You had feelings for him? I never knew..."
"No." Her mouth had taken on a life of its own, now. "Not for him."
Carol looked puzzled. "But you just said you..."
Kerry returned the grip on Carol's hand, her eyes boring into the nurse's.
Carol's eyes widened as she realized what Kerry meant. "Oh, my..."
With a jolt, Kerry's conscious control reasserted itself, and she pulled her hand away. "I-I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that..." She picked up her handbag and stood.
Carol's gaze followed her, still in shock.
"Look, I'll see you later," Kerry babbled, not looking at her. She dumped some loose bills on the table, for the coffee. "I..."
Carol still stared at her.
Kerry fled without another word.
What were you thinking? What were you thinking? What the fuck were you thinking?
Each step she took repeated the refrain in her head.
Carol's not interested in women, she told herself, let alone a broken, bitter shrew like you. What in the hell made you think, even for a moment, that she might respond to you that way?
She unlocked her front door and went inside. When the door was locked again, and she was effectively barricaded against the world, she let herself slump. How will I ever face her again?
She hung up her coat, then poured herself a drink, thankful that Carter was working the late shift tonight, and she'd have the place all to herself. She could get stinking blotto, play the saddest music she could find, and try to dig herself a hole to crawl into so she'd never have to deal with Carol Hathaway's scornful reaction. Carol would be too polite to ever say anything, of course. But it would always be there, in her eyes whenever she looked at Kerry. YOU wanted ME? You thought you were good enough for me? After who I've been with? Hah!!
Kerry took her first slug of the drink, choosing not to put on any music yet. The silence suited her better. The emptiness in her ears echoed that in her heart.
She threw back the rest of the drink, then let her head fall back against the backrest of the sofa, remembering their first encounter, when Carol brought in a patient by ambulance. Kerry had mistaken her for a paramedic at first; she was doing a ride-along with that loudmouthed guy she'd ended up seeing, and poor, doomed Raul. Carol had been lovely in her jeans and sleeveless tee shirt; beautiful, healthy, and vibrant, despite the circumstances. Then, as now, Carol looked better working than most people did when having fun.
As her early days at County consisted mostly of conflicts and arguments with Mark, Doug, and Susan, Kerry was gratified to find that Carol not merely accepted her ideas, but often helped implement them. It was a relief to find someone there who was more interested in working to improve patient care than indulge in ego clashes.
As Carol's responsibilities developed, Kerry admired the way she took them in stride; despite her grumbles, she got the job done, always. As much as it burdened her, she always got things done. Even when the nurses went on strike - excuse me, when they all conveniently 'got sick' at the same time - Carol tried to uphold their duties single-handedly. Kerry leant a hand where she could, glad to be working alongside her, and did her best to be supportive when Carol's mistake cost a man his life. She would have covered it up for Carol, and dismissed it as an unfortunate, but unavoidable, occurrence...but Carol wouldn't let her do so. She accepted the consequences of her actions without hesitation, and Kerry's admiration for the woman grew tenfold.
But the moment that would live in Kerry's memory forever was the day Carol survived her hostage situation. It was all Kerry could do to maintain control when she asked if Carol was all right, afterwards, showing nothing more than the faade of a concerned colleague. And Carol - beautiful, brave Carol, who had fought valiantly to save the life of her own captor; who might have been forgiven for breaking down in tears under the stress and the fear - just looked at her, her soft smile glowing with inner radiance, and said, "I love my job, Kerry."
And Kerry, for once, couldn't think about her courage, her dedication, or any of the other reasons to admire Carol on a professional level. All she could think was, My God, she's so lovely...
Kerry couldn't have admitted the depth of her feelings toward Carol, even then. To call it respect, even affection, was one thing. But attraction? No. That was unacceptable.
She'd fought it, taking refuge in her comfortable, in-control persona. She didn't allow herself to behave any differently toward Carol than anyone else...except when Carol was accepted to medical school. Then, when she made extra effort to help Carol enter her world, she justified it as professional courtesy. And she didn't let herself feel rejected when Carol declined med school to remain in nursing. It wasn't about her. It wasn't personal.
And then Carol revealed that she was involved with HIM.
It figured, Kerry thought bitterly. Doug and Carol were a matched pair even before they were together. The one woman Kerry had ever felt anything for, and naturally she was meant for someone who was Kerry's opposite in every way. Male, not female. Impulsive, not rational. Popular, not resented. Athletic, not...
He had charm and he had charisma...and he had Carol. Kerry could never be friends with her under those circumstances, and so her distaste for Doug Ross grew deeper.
But then Ross was gone. And Carol was alone, and in pain.
It was all Kerry could do to refrain from stepping forward and declaring how she felt. The fact that Doug was no longer in Chicago didn't mean he wasn't still a presence in Carol's heart. But it seemed that every time Kerry turned around, there was Carol with a void to be filled. And no one was stepping forward to fill it.
When she told Carol to use her judgment about traumas during her pregnancy, Kerry wanted to do more...
When Carol confronted her about Mrs. Brennan, Kerry's defenses crumbled, and she told Carol things she'd never told anyone...
When they helped that boy together, Kerry knew she couldn't hide from Carol much longer...
And then there was today.
Four years they'd worked together, building a foundation of mutual trust and respect. And she'd thrown it away in four minutes. How could I be so stupid...?
The doorbell rang.
Kerry considered ignoring it, but reasoned she'd have to get up to refill her drink anyway - should have brought the bottle over to the sofa as well, but she hadn't been thinking clearly. Might as well answer the door while she was up, and tell the Jehovah's Witnesses or the Girl Scout selling cookies, or whoever it was to go to hell.
She unlocked the door, then froze in shock. "Car-"
"Don't say a word." Carol held up a hand, as if shielding herself against Kerry's explanations. Her expression was unreadable.
They stared at each other, silently. Carol's eyes drilled intently into hers. She's trying to find ways to tell me how hurt and upset she is, Kerry told herself. And I deserve every word...
To her stunned surprise, Carol stepped forward, took Kerry's face in her hands, and kissed her firmly.
Kerry had often been captivated by those dark lips, wondering what lips that color, almost a smoky gray, might taste like? A fine red wine, she had thought. Now, pressed against her own, they had a flavor almost like black cherries.
Her eyes, which had widened with the initial shock, quickly closed as she gave herself in to the kiss.
Then they parted. It was a tough call, which of them was more surprised.
"I would never have imagined myself doing that," Carol said.
"It's all right," Kerry got out. "I didn't mind."
"I wasn't apologizing."
Kerry's next words were swallowed as Carol kissed her again. A faint, whispery breath parted her lips, and she felt Carol's tongue slide quickly between them to dart lightly against her own. Carol's foot shoved the door shut behind her.
The voltage in the kiss alone, apart from any upcoming activity, was stunning and electric. She had enjoyed some truly fine kisses in the past - gestures of cherishing, promises of future pleasures, echoes of fading love. But this one... The oral contact was a moment of magic in and of itself. Damnation, Doug, she thought, you were a lucky S.O.B. to have a woman who could do this!
They parted again, more slowly this time, almost reluctantly. Carol's eyes, up close, were even deeper than Kerry had imagined.
She felt Carol's hand gently unwrapping her own fingers from the crutch's grip, then sliding her forearm out of the brace. Removing the crutch and setting it aside, leaning it against the wall. The familiarity of the gesture was a presumption she wouldn't have allowed anyone else. It was tantamount to taking away her strength and solidity, but now she surrendered it without pause.
None of her previous lovers, few though they were, had ever touched the crutch if it could be avoided. At best, they pretended not to notice it, as though it were the cause of her disability, rather than a reaction to it. Trusting Carol enough to let her remove it made Kerry feel more naked than actual nudity would have. It was like being accepted, undressed, and treasured, all at once. Like the metal object was a piece of her, as beautiful as any other.
Carol turned and leaned the crutch against the wall by the front door, then took Kerry in her arms. "Carter's working the late shift," she said.
"I know," Kerry said, her arms about Carol's neck.
"There are no promises about tomorrow," Carol said. "Whatever you think of him, Doug Ross is the one true love of my life. If there is a way we can be together again, I will let nothing and no one stand between us. Can you accept that?"
"Yes. I'm not asking you for anything you can't give me."
"Why didn't you ever tell me how you felt about me...?" There was no accusation in the question, just honest curiosity.
"Would you have reacted this way if I had?" Kerry almost didn't want to hear the answer to that.
Carol ventured a small, almost nervous smile. "I don't know," she said. "And this may just be the hormones talking, now. I don't know how I'm going to feel about this in the morning..."
Kerry returned the smile. "Don't worry, I'll still respect you."
They laughed, and the last barriers evaporated.
They returned to each other's mouths, the kiss deepening as they held each other tighter. Kerry buried her hands in the mass of black hair, almost swimming in its scent. Carol's arms, about her back and hips, held her closely against the other woman's body, and their heartbeats were a sweet counterpoint.
When the kiss finally ended, Carol turned, one arm still around Kerry's waist, and led her inside.
In the bedroom, they undressed quietly, not looking at each other, and then faced each other across the bed. Kerry resisted the urge to hide from Carol's sight, instead letting the other woman see her the way she was. Carol, for her part, was visibly pregnant, not yet so large as to be obvious when dressed, but there was no mistaking her condition when nude.
Carol read her thoughts. "I'm not made of glass," she said. "I won't break."
"Neither will I." Kerry slipped under the covers, then gestured for Carol to join her.
The nurse's skin was like warm silk against hers as she put her arms around Kerry. "Will you tell me something, truthfully?" she said.
"You wrote that novel, didn't you?"
Kerry sighed. "Of course I did."
"I knew you were a romantic, under it all." A warm smile grew on her lips.
Kerry returned it. "And only you could see me that way..."
Carol pulled her into another kiss, and Kerry lost herself in it. The sensation of being in bed with another woman was different from anything she'd felt before.
She thought, I don't believe this is happening.
She thought, There are a dozen reasons we shouldn't do this.
She thought, I don't care.
She thought, I'm damned if I'm going to stop now.