Kim sat in the sand, hugging her knees to her chest, staring out at the lake, seeing nothing. She'd walked for several hours at least before she even thought about turning back and she'd stopped and sat down long before Rachel's house came into sight. Judging from the sun, it was close to suppertime, but she sat there anyway, unwilling and unable to face Kerry again quite yet.
My God, how stupid could a person be? How many times did she need to have it thrown back in her face before she would learn? A few emotional scenes, she let you hold her hand once or twice and POW! You're right back where you were when this all started - an overgrown love sick teenager who sings along to stupid love songs and starts thinking about happily ever after.
She shook her head angrily. She was supposed to be too smart for this. She was supposed to be able to see things like this coming and avoid it, like any rational adult would do. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me four times, I must be Kim Legaspi.
She cried for a while and it did absolutely no good, as she'd known it would. Because despite the fact that her head told her that she had to put as much distance between herself and Kerry Weaver as she possibly could, she knew that what she needed and what she wanted were two very different things. Logic and self-preservation told her that she needed a clean break, maybe a job in a different place and a lot of time and miles between her and the confused woman in the cast. But that wasn't what she wanted. What she wanted was that stubborn little bossy redhead with the flashing eyes. She wanted the Kerry she'd fallen in love with, the one who laughed and whose smile transformed Kim's day, who touched her with such gentleness and passion, who made herself vulnerable and gave herself so willingly to Kim. Oh, she knew what she wanted all right, she wanted Kerry - in her life, in her arms, in her bed, in her dreams and in her future.
The water lapped at the sandy shore and Kim stared, unseeing, at the waves.
She knew what her heart wanted.
But maybe it just wasn't possible to have it.
It was after dinnertime when Kim returned to the house. They had the briefest of conversations, Kerry mainly reassuring herself that Kim was unhurt before quickly retreating to her bedroom, a somewhat fearful look on her face. Fine, Kim thought, I didn't want to discuss it anymore either. She reached into the cupboard, hauled out the first bottle she laid her hand on, grabbed a glass and stalked right back out the front door.
She walked all the way down to the shore, planting herself heavily in the sand. She glanced at the label of the bottle. Booker's Bourbon. She laughed as she unscrewed the lid and poured herself a generous portion. Leave it to Rachel to buy a $70 bottle of bourbon when the rest of the world made due with Jimmy Beam.
She gulped a mouthful and it burned its way down her throat and lit a comforting fire in her belly.
This is perfect, she thought, leaning back on her hands. I can sit here and watch the sky turn colours, drink my bourbon and she'll be fast asleep when I go back up to the house. And with any luck, she mused as she took another gulp of the healing amber liquid, I'll be so hammered by then that it won't matter if she is up.
The voice was timid, but it made her wheel around. Finn stood several yards away, halfway between the shore and the house.
"Hey, Finn," she said.
He approached, a puzzled look on his face, those cornflower blue eyes concerned. "Why are you sitting down here?" He turned and looked towards the house. "And where's Kerry?"
"She's inside," Kim said, suddenly feeling embarrassed for no particular reason. "I think she's, uh - laying down."
Finn nodded and covered the rest of the distance between them. He plopped himself down and played with the sand.
"How are you doing today?" she asked.
He shrugged. "I'm okay. Kind of tired, but ..." He lifted his eyes to meet hers. "I kind of feel a little better, I think."
"Well that's good," Kim said. At least someone is feeling better around here. Such resilience people had. It never failed to amaze her. Maybe she'd even get over Kerry one day. She started to slug back another shot of bourbon, then paused and made herself sip. "Kerry was kind of worried when you didn't come over this morning," she said.
"Gran made me stay. She was worried I would get a cold from being wet. It took me all day to convince her I was fine."
"What's that?" he asked, pointing at the bottle that sat beside Kim in the sand.
"That is very expensive bourbon," Kim said. She held her glass out for him to sniff.
Finn wrinkled his nose. "That smells awful," he said.
Kim nodded. "Yes it does. And that is only one of its many charms." She drained her glass and then poured herself more.
"How does Kerry feel today?" Finn asked, leaning back on his hands and stretching his legs out in front of him.
"Kerry," Kim said. "Well. I think Kerry feels pretty good today. Her leg anyway."
Finn nodded and they sat together without talking for a long moment.
"Why did you and Kerry break up?"
Kim sat bolt upright and gave him a look. "You know it's really creepy how you do that."
"Do what?" He sat up, too, interested.
"How you - how you always know exactly what question - " She sighed. "You'd make a good psychiatrist, you know that?"
"Yeah, either that or an Inquisitor," she said, under her breath.
"So why did you?"
"Why did I what?"
He sighed. "Why did you and Kerry break up?"
Kim leaned back on her hands again and let out a long sigh. "Finn, it's complicated."
She regarded his sweet face and serious blue eyes. No, he hadn't been a baby since the day his mother had stepped off the platform of the El. He'd had his own little personal hell for the past two years. Maybe that's why he was so sensitive to other people's pain. She sipped her drink, then put the glass down in the sand.
"Sometimes, Finn, when a person first starts to realize that she's gay, it takes a little while for her to get used to it. There's a lot of stuff that you need to think about and ... just get used to. And because you have usually learned that being gay is `bad,' sometimes it takes a longer time for that person to unlearn that and to realize that it's okay that they're gay. That they are okay."
Finn's eyes were riveted to her face and he listened attentively.
"By the way," Kim said, "you probably shouldn't share this little talk with your Gran, because no doubt she'd forbid you from ever coming over here again."
He cocked his head and gave her a look. "I'm not that stupid," he said.
Kim chuckled. "I know. It was just a friendly reminder."
"So you're saying that you broke up with Kerry because she thought being gay was bad?"
Kim's glass stopped halfway to her lips. Why did that sound so irrational coming out of his mouth, when it made so much sense in her own head?
"Well, no, that's not exactly it, Finn, I - "
"Was it because she wasn't getting used to being gay fast enough?"
"Well, no ..." Kim said and she sat there holding her glass and trying to get her thoughts straight. Because actually that was precisely what the problem was, wasn't it? Kerry wasn't as far down the road of embracing her new identity as Kim was. And it was hard on Kim to have to double back and wait all the time. She took another gulp, put the glass down and took a deep breath.
"You see, Finn, one of the things about being in a relationship with another person is that stuff that affects one person also affects the other."
"Like when my mom was sick with her depression and it would make my dad and me really sad. Like that?"
Kim nodded. "Yeah, exactly like that."
The puzzled look crept back into those serious blue eyes. "But my dad didn't break up with my mom because she was sick. Even though it made him sad."
"But this is different," Kim said.
Kim looked at him and searched her insides. "It's different because Kerry's feeling bad about being gay really affects me. It reminds me of when I felt that way, and I hated feeling like that. It also makes me feel like ... like she's ashamed of me because I'm gay. And that hurts, too. Can you understand that, Finn?"
He nodded. "That doesn't sound too nice for you," he said. He made designs in the sand with his finger, then wiped them away. "It's just that you guys seem really happy together sometimes."
"Yeah," Kim said, nodding. "Sometimes we were really happy."
"Maybe she just needs more time to get used to it, you know to being gay and everything."
Kim looked down at him and chuckled. I am discussing my love life with a nine year old, she thought. And he is making more sense than I have for months.
Finn met her eyes. "What?" he said.
She shook her head and smiled. "Nothing. I was just thinking that you're pretty wise for your age."
He shrugged. "I do a lot of homework," he said.
Kim laughed out loud.
"Do you still ... you know, love her?" Finn asked.
Time stopped on the beach and stood still for a tiny eternity.
"Yeah," Kim said. "I do."
"Well then I think you should wait for her," Finn said, turning back to drawing in the sand.
Kim watched him for a long time.
"You know what I think?" she said, finally.
"I think that you are the last of the great romantics," she said.
He made a face. "Romantic? What's that?"
"A romantic is someone who is sweet and sensitive and noble, like Finn MacCool. Somebody who really believes in happy endings."
"I like happy endings," he said. "But I like it best if there's a lot of shooting first."
Kim laughed. "Come on. That's all the serious talk I can stand for now. Let's go collect some driftwood for a fire and then we'll go tell Kerry that you're here. She'll be glad to see you."
They got up and ambled up the beach towards the house.
Kim zipped up her laptop case and jammed the rest of her notes in a side pocket. Everything she could possibly need at the editorial meeting was packed and ready to go, and still she was dragging her feet. The early hour wasn't helping. In order to make her twelve o'clock appointment with the editor of the ER Psychiatry book, she needed to be on the road by seven a.m, which meant getting up at an what was, in her opinion, an obscene hour. She wasn't particularly looking forward to the drive, they were predicting a hot and muggy day in the city and to top it all off, she felt nervous leaving Kerry. Which made absolutely no sense, because Kerry was feeling well, Finn had been hired as a "sitter" for the day and between them, they had the phone number of Finn's Gran, Estelle, Roger and his wife, the fire department, Kim's cell phone, the local ambulance service and the Beaver Point District Hospital. Between the two of them, Finn and Kerry were ready to handle anything short of a tidal wave. And hell, the unflappable Dr. Weaver could probably take out her own appendix with what she carried around in that damned medical bag.
Kim took a last long drink of her coffee. She knew they'd be fine, it was just ... well, maybe it was just that she didn't want to go. Lord knows twelve hours ago she'd been more than ready to get in her car and never look back. But by the time they'd had the bonfire with Finn last night, she and Kerry had been speaking civilly to each other and by bedtime, they'd both clumsily apologized for any number of things said. Kim had lain awake for a long time, thinking about what Finn had said about waiting for Kerry and something about it resonated deeply within her. As the room had lightened in the hours just before dawn, Kim had found herself slamming into the same question over and over again: If you don't love her, why on earth have you been here taking care of her since her accident? Clearly, there was something there. But was it enough?
Kim shook the thoughts out of her head and grabbed her laptop case and car keys. She made her way to the kitchen, where Finn was loading the dishwasher under Kerry's supervision. He had toast crumbs all over his t-shirt and a chocolate milk moustache.
"Okay, I have to get going," she said, sliding her wallet and id into another pocket of the case. "I can't see how I'd be any later than seven-thirty or eight."
"Well, take your time," Kerry said. "Just drive safe."
"You're sure you two are going to be all right?" Kim asked.
Finn smiled broadly. "I've got things under control, Kim. Don't worry."
She suppressed the smile that sprang up. "All right, then. Well, you two have a good day. I'll see you tonight."
Kerry wheeled herself along behind Kim, to the front door. "I mean it Kim, drive safely. It's a lot of miles to cover in one day."
"I will," Kim said and she studied the tiny woman in the chair. There was something different this morning. A sparkle that hadn't been there before. Maybe she was finally starting to feel better. "I will. See you."
Finn closed the door behind her and then wheeled to look at Kerry.
"All right," Kerry said, with a smile, "we've got a lot to do! Let's go!"
The pair hurried back to the kitchen.
Kim glanced at the glowing blue numbers on the dashboard clock. Not much longer until she'd be home, which was especially good since there was a nasty bit of weather moving in. Late afternoon when the temperature and humidity simply could not get any higher, a breeze started to stir and Kim had spotted bruise-coloured clouds hugging the horizon. There was going to be a thunderstorm in the next hour, but hopefully she'd be home by then.
Home. She had to chuckle at that. The house of an ex-lover who dumped her for a man, where another ex-lover of questionable current status who required nursing care waited with a nine-year-old warrior-poet-seer borrowed from the mansion down the beach.
Oh, well. Normal sounded boring anyway.
The meeting had gone marvelously. Not only had her editor treated her to lunch at a wonderful little bistro, but he had loved the drafts that Kim had sent him. All of his suggestions had been ones that Kim herself had already considered, so the small changes he suggested would be little work. Before they wrapped up, he had even begun floating around other potential offers for her to think about, since he said her writing style was informative, yet readable. She smiled a little as she thought about it. She'd nearly turned down this project in the first place because she didn't think that she could write well enough. Who knew?
The sky was the colour of pewter now and even though the sun would not set for another couple of hours, Kim had to put on her headlights. The wind had picked up considerably and when she caught glimpses of the water she could see creamy whitecaps on the surface of the lake.
She cast an eye towards the passenger seat where a large bouquet of cut flowers sat. She'd bought them impulsively, on her way back to the parking lot where she'd left her car. She'd been walking along letting random thoughts breeze through her head when she had a fleeting thought of returning to the beach house and to Kerry and she'd had the most tender little thrill run through her. Kerry was there, waiting for her and Kim was going to go to her. Something about it set her heart singing and the next thing she knew, she was in a florist's buying these flowers.
She had a sudden, unbidden memory of the bouquet she'd brought Kerry when she was hospitalized at County and how Kerry had refused even to see her. Kim loosened the vice grip she had on the steering wheel and let out a long sigh. That's okay, she thought, sometimes when you decide to wait, it takes a long time. You just have to keep waiting. It just required patience.
Beside the flowers was a long, narrow paper bag that held a bottle of wine. A bottle of 1995 Chateau Cheval Blanc St. Emilion to be precise. It had put her back a few dollars but it was going to be worth it. On the spur of the moment and before she'd headed over to Kerry's to perform one last little errand, she'd dropped by the wine shop she usually frequented for a quick browse and had stumbled across this little gem. It was going to make for a very special meal.
Kim smiled. Maybe even tonight.
And now she sped along the deserted highway, pacing herself against the oncoming storm and wondering how Kerry and Finn were.
The first fat raindrops hit the windshield moments before she turned into the drive. They splattered on the ground and the Jetta and on Kim as she gathered her things up and sprinted to the house.
She unlocked the door and pushed it open, a gust of wind shoving her inside.
She got the door shut, put down the armful of flowers, wine and computer and wrestled her hair back into a manageable shape. Then she paused and gazed into the living room, puzzled.
No lamps were lit and she could see straight through the living room to the lake which was churning and frothing in the storm. The furniture had been pushed back and there was a warm glow coming from the room that bore no resemblance to incandescent lights. She took a couple tentative steps forward and peered into the room.
The sofas, chairs and end tables had been pushed away to form a space in the middle of the room, near the windows which overlooked the deck. A plaid blanket was laid out on the floor and there were a dozen fat candles burning at the head of it. Two places had been set, good china and silver, complete with champagne flutes and what looked like linen napkins. There was a wicker picnic basket nearby and a bottle of champagne, resting in a large bowl of ice. And around the room, in little clusters that made a continuous curving path of light, were tiny votive candles, flickering merrily.
Kim stood there with her mouth open, trying to process the scene. A moment later, she looked up and Kerry was there, beside her, smiling uncertainly.
Kim looked down at her, blinking, trying to find words. "Did you - is this - ?"
Kerry reached out and took Kim's hand. "Welcome home," she said softly.