Kim glanced at the sleeping figure sprawled out beside her on the couch. Finn's X-Men pajamas had been changed for a dry pair with Batman characters all over them, his little feet were in Kim's lap so that she could bandage the scrapes and cuts on his feet and a very tired looking stuffed rabbit was pressed to his cheek. Not exactly how Kim had imagined the evening would end when she'd come home to Kerry's romantic living room picnic. But then, life was like that sometimes.
The remains of their meal, the snuffed out candles, even their half-empty wine glasses were still strewn across the floor and Kim couldn't help but think of where things were going when Finn had arrived, so hysterical, many hours ago.
It had been a long night.
But Mrs. Ryan had been flown out to Chicago and to her own cardiologist (at Kerry's very vocal insistence), and was holding her own. And even though the sun was probably going to rise in another hour or so, they were home at last. Her head swam a little from fatigue, but the crisis had been managed.
She could hear Kerry in the kitchen, on the phone with Maureen Ryan's doctor in Chicago and Kim saw her again, sliding herself around the kitchen floor, flinging the dead weight of her broken leg out of the way to get a better angle on her patient. Kim shook her head. What a woman, she thought. What a passionate, brilliant, stubborn woman.
She finished taping the gauze on Finn's left foot and laid it to rest back in her lap, then reached for the right to inspect it for cuts. He'd run barefoot for almost a half mile on the gravelly shoulder of the road to reach them and there were minor abrasions and lacerations on his soft pink feet. Thank God there hadn't been a broken bottle somewhere along the way. Finn sighed and shifted a little as she propped his foot up a bit and applied antibiotic cream. He'd been something of a hero tonight, first by summoning them and then by his stoic demeanour at the hospital. Which was sad really, when she thought about it - it meant that illness and sudden death had been enough a part of his life that he'd become practiced at it. She tenderly rubbed the cream into his skin and gazed at his face, even more angelic in sleep.
She heard the phone being put back in its cradle and Kerry wearily wheeled herself into the living room. She steered herself close to Kim.
"When did he fall asleep?" Kerry whispered.
"As soon as he laid his head down," Kim replied. "He's exhausted."
"No wonder," Kerry said and did as Kim had been doing, just stopped to look at his beautiful young face. "I didn't think I'd ever say this, but I've never been so glad to sit in this wheelchair. I'm beat."
"Yeah, you must be," Kim said and she started winding gauze around Finn's foot to hold the sterile pads in place. "How's your leg?"
"Not much sorer than any other part of my body, frankly, " Kerry said.
"Do you want a painkiller?"
"No, I'll just take some ibuprofen and go to bed."
"Okay, let me just get him tucked in and I'll bring you the pills, okay?"
"Okay," Kerry whispered and she turned to touch Finn's face. "Goodnight, Finn. You did good, buddy." Her hand lingered on his cheek and then she pushed herself away from the couch and towards her bedroom.
Kim stuffed the first aid supplies back into Kerry's magical medical bag, then got to her feet and stretched. She wanted to sleep for a thousand years. Maybe more. She sat Finn up and hoisted him into her arms where his head immediately dropped against her shoulder. She grabbed the fallen bunny, then carried him to the bedroom, pulled back the sheets and slipped him under them. He roused himself enough to turn over and hug his pillow while Kim covered him with the blankets and replaced the battered stuffed toy where he would feel it. She leaned down and kissed his forehead. "`Night, Finn. Sleep tight."
Kerry was sitting in her chair beside the bed when Kim entered with water and some pills.
"I know it's pathetic, but I don't think I have the strength to stand up by myself to drag my butt into this bed. Would you give me a hand?"
Kim chuckled. "I'm not surprised, Ker. You worked the better part of a shift tonight. Sitting on the floor." She gave Kerry the water and ibuprofen, and flopped down on the bed while she took them.
"You look pretty tired, too," Kerry said.
Kim nodded. "It's been a big day."
Kerry looked at her for a long moment. "I hope you won't forget about what we were talking about ... you know, before everything happened."
"I haven't forgotten," Kim said with a smile.
"Good." Kerry's eyes danced despite her fatigue. "But first, a little sleep, right?"
"That's probably a good idea," Kim said. She got to her feet and helped Kerry out of her wheelchair, steadying her as she transferred herself to the bed.
Kerry fell back into the pillows with a sigh. "Oh, God, that's better," she said. "You know, I'm not going to bother getting undressed or anything. I'm too damn tired. I'm just going to sleep like this."
Kim bent to pick up Kerry's paperback, which had been knocked from the bedside table as she'd been getting from the chair to the bed. She stood upright again and suddenly the whole room was pirouetting around her. She stuck out a hand and grabbed the bed while the blood made its way back to the proper organs.
"Whoa, head rush," Kerry said. "Sit down for a minute." She guided Kim to the bed and watched her carefully. "You all right?"
Kim rubbed her forehead. "Just dizzy. I do that when I'm really tired, sometimes, I just get all spinny."
"Lie down for a moment," Kerry said, tossing two pillows to Kim and pushing herself over to make room on the bed. "Because the last damn thing we need tonight is you opening your skull on the bathroom tiles."
Kim stretched out on the bed beside Kerry and sighed tiredly. "On the bright side, we're on a first name basis with the entire staff of the Beaver Point District Hospital."
Kerry chuckled and reached for Kim's hand. "Yeah, but I don't know if that's the good news or the bad news."
Kim closed her eyes, felt Kerry's warmth seeping into her tired body. "Good point. I'll just lie here for a minute, until I don't feel so weak ..."
They were both asleep in less than a minute.
It wasn't the mid-morning sun that woke Kerry up, so much as it was the tantalizing smell of freshly brewed coffee. She stretched her stiff limbs, careful not to disturb Kim, then sniffed the air again. No, it wasn't a hallucination brought on by lack of sleep, there really was coffee being perked in the house. And since Kim was here beside her ...
She listened more carefully and could just make out the quiet opening and closing of cupboards and drawers and the tinkling of china. She smiled to herself.
Beside her, Kim moved a little and moaned softly and the sound sent a shiver through Kerry's center. How could you go through the hell that Kim had during the previous 24 hours, sleep in your clothes and still look so beautiful? She touched the back of her fingers to Kim's cheek and closed her eyes at the feelings that it sent ricocheting through her. God, thank You for the second (or was it third?) chance and please help me not to fuck it up this time.
Kim's eyes fluttered open and for an instant, Kerry almost pulled her hand away. Then she stilled her nerves and continued caressing Kim's silky skin.
"Hey," Kim said and her voice was still hoarse with sleep.
"Hey yourself," Kerry said and she couldn't stop smiling.
Kim's forehead wrinkled. "Do you smell coffee?"
Kerry chuckled. "I think Finn might already be up."
"Oh, God bless him," Kim said, rolling over and stretching like a cat. "I guess I didn't make it to my bed last night. I hope you didn't mind."
Kerry never took her eyes off the tall blonde. "I didn't mind at all. In fact, I'd like to wake up with you more often."
Kim rolled her head over to look at Kerry. "So would I."
"Then we'll have to do something about that."
"I guess we will."
A polite tapping at the door interrupted.
"Hey Finn, come on in, we're up," Kerry called.
The door swung open, yielding to a gentle kick and Finn slowly entered, balancing a steaming mug in each hand.
"Good morning," he said and he took his eyes from the mugs long enough to glance up at Kim and Kerry. "I made coffee," he said, a proud smile on his face.
"I can see that," Kerry said, struggling to sit up so she could take a mug off his hands. "I didn't know you could make coffee."
He nodded as he made his way around to Kim to give her the other mug. "Kim taught me. She said it's an essential life skill."
Kerry smiled. "Kim's right."
He handed Kim her mug and she grabbed him and hugged him. "You are a wonderful little boy, you know that?"
"You're just saying that because of the coffee," he said, blushing slightly.
"Well, maybe, but that doesn't make you any less wonderful."
He laughed and climbed onto the foot of the bed. "Kerry, did you hear about my Gran this morning? Is she okay?"
"Well, as of three o'clock this morning, she had arrived in Chicago and was at the hospital. She's in the intensive care unit, but she's stable, which means she's mostly okay. I talked to her doctor last night and he said she was doing well."
Finn's face glowed with the news.
"Oh and your grandfather had arrived at the hospital and he was staying with her, so she wasn't alone."
"So she's going to be okay?"
"It looks good," Kerry said, sipping her coffee. "You can probably talk to her this afternoon on the phone."
The little boy fairly bounced with excitement.
"You should be proud of yourself, Finn. You're a big part of the reason that your Gran is okay," Kim said.
He regarded his gauze covered feet. "I was pretty scared," he said.
"Everybody's scared when something like that happens," Kim said. "But the heroes are people like you who are scared, but who do the right thing anyway." She smiled at him. "I'm starting to see why they named you after Finn MacCool."
He beamed and flushed a bright red and stared at his feet.
"Hey," Kerry said. "I don't know about you guys, but I'm starving."
"Me, too," Finn said.
"How about pancakes?" Kerry said.
"Yeah!" Finn agreed.
Kim rolled her head to look at Kerry. "You're not thinking of cooking, are you?"
Kerry shrugged sheepishly. "Actually, I was sort of hoping you'd make them."
Kim laughed. "Okay, I'll make them.
"Finn and I can set the table," Kerry said.
"No," Kim said, dragging her legs over the side of the bed and standing up. "Finn is going to be in the kitchen with me, learning his next essential life skill: pancakes."
Finn bounced up and down on the bed. "Okay! Can we make blueberry ones?" He jumped off the bed and followed Kim out of the bedroom. "Or how about animal shaped ones? Oh! Or maybe ones that are like letters, I saw that one time at a restaurant with my dad ..."
Kerry watched them go and chuckled.
The beach was spectacular that morning. So many shades of blue in the sky and water that you could lose count, a sweet, soft breeze from the lake and just the right amount of sunshine to rock you to sleep and caress you like a warm blanket.
Kerry paused for a moment to consider that this was the same beach, the same horizon, the same lake that she'd looked at morning, noon and night since they'd arrived, but somehow, it looked different this morning. Better. She and Kim were reconnecting, God was in her heaven and all was right with the world.
Kim had dozed off, a few yards away, in a deck chair, a trade paperback clutched to her chest. They had come close to arguing at breakfast and Kerry still felt like an ass. Kim had mentioned that it had been nearly two weeks since her trip to see Dr. Fisher at the local what-passed-for-a-hospital. Kerry had blithely ignored the comment, knowing very well where Kim was going with it. And, Kim continued, doggedly cheerful, hadn't Dr. Fisher said that he wanted her to come back in oh, two weeks or so, for another x-ray to make sure that all was as it should be? Kerry had looked up from her pancakes and barely held back a growl.
"Why don't you want to go have an x-ray, Kerry?" Finn had asked, genuinely puzzled. "They don't hurt you know. I've had one before. You don't feel anything."
Kim had smiled, somewhat smugly, Kerry thought, as if to say, there, try and argue with that.
She had said that she'd think about it, in a tone that let everyone know that the discussion was now over.
And so, having won a conditional victory on the x-ray front and after breakfast had been cleaned up, Kim had emerged onto the deck with wet hair from a shower, wearing her bathing suit and the sarong she'd worn the night that Luka had visited. Kerry had had to take a deep breath to keep herself from losing it, right then and there. Did Kim have any idea what the sight of her in that particular ensemble did to her? Probably not, she'd just tossed it on to cover up the bathing suit until she was set to swim or tan. But God, there was just something about it - the way it rode low on her hips and hugged her in places where Kerry longed to run her hands, or maybe the way it all accented her waist and her breasts. Whatever it was, Kim was hot in it. She wanted to roll her eyes at her own sophomoric choice of words, but there was no escaping it, she was hot. And henceforth, should ever Kerry's status as a lesbian be in doubt, she knew she could just summon up the image of Kim ambling through the house in her bathing suit and sarong to seal the deal.
The door slid open and Finn emerged just then, portable phone in one hand.
"It's my Grandpa. He wants to talk to you," he said, giving Kerry the phone and slipping into a chair beside her.
"Hello?" Kerry said.
"Dr. Weaver, is it?"
"Yes, I'm Dr. Weaver."
"My name is Francis Ryan, Dr. Weaver. I'm Finn's grandfather. I was phoning to thank you."
"There's no need, Mr. Ryan. It was our pleasure."
"I understand from my wife's doctor that you were instrumental in saving Maureen's life. That is no small debt I owe you."
"We were happy to help," Kerry said.
"My wife has told me quite a bit about you, doctor," Mr. Ryan said.
Kerry's grip on the phone tightened. "Has she now?"
Francis Ryan chuckled at Kerry's tone. "So has Finn. My grandson is very fond of you and your friend and now I can see why. I have to tell you, I can't remember when I've seen him so happy."
"I'm very glad to hear that," Kerry said. Finn wandered back into the house, quietly closing the door behind him.
"I am wondering if we could impose upon you for one further favour, Doctor. A rather large one, I'm afraid."
"How can we help?"
"My wife and I were wondering if Finn could stay with you and your friend Dr. Legaspi for a few weeks."
Kerry blinked. They must have the old lady on some great painkillers.
The elder Mr. Ryan continued. "I know it's a grave imposition, but my wife's going to need to stay in Chicago for tests and to be near the hospital and her doctor for some time and ... well, as between letting Finn stay at the beach with you and dragging him back to Chicago with us, I have the feeling that he'd never forgive us if we made him leave the beach."
Kerry watched Finn slip back out of the house, in his bathing suit, with a copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in one hand. He settled into the deck chair beside Kim's and started reading. "We would be delighted to have Finn stay with us for a few weeks," Kerry said, her eyes on the boy. "For as long as you'd need, Mr. Ryan."
Finn's head whipped around and he stared at Kerry. Really? he mouthed, eyes wide. She nodded.
"That's very kind of you, Dr. Weaver," Mr. Ryan said. "I'm not sure how you've done it, but you've gotten through to him in a way none of us have been able to. I am very grateful. And I won't soon forget what you've done for my family."
Kerry watched Finn doing an energetic but silent dance of joy on the deck and she smiled. "He's a remarkable young man, Mr. Ryan. We're grateful to your family for sharing him."
Kerry heard Kim's soft footsteps, crossing the living room, turning off lights. She put down her book and peered over the top of her glasses at the bedroom door, watching hopefully. A moment later, Kim slipped into the room, quietly shutting the door behind her.
"Is he asleep?" Kerry asked.
Kim's smile betrayed the answer before she spoke. "Sleeping like the proverbial baby," she said, heading to the bathroom to switch off the last light. "He and Mr. Bunny only lasted through two pages before he crashed."
Kerry put her book and her glasses on the bedside table. "He must be exhausted."
Kim nodded, her brush in hand. "It was all pretty traumatic."
Kerry leaned back into the pillows and regarded Kim. Oversize t-shirt, paisley boxer shorts and still she made Kerry's heart flutter in her chest like it was about to give out. Kim ran the brush through her hair a few times.
"Can I?" Kerry asked, stretching out a hand to Kim.
Kim paused, a smile slowly dawning, then she nodded. "Yeah, sure." She sat down on the side of the bed, close to Kerry and gave her the hairbrush.
Kerry's strokes were short and tentative at first, then grew longer and more confident.
"So this must be what it's like to be a parent," Kim said, her eyes closing at the feeling of Kerry's hands in her hair. "Always waiting around for the kid to go to bed so that they can get it on."
"Yeah, I guess so," Kerry said, chuckling. "That and braces and chicken pox and you've pretty much got the experience."
Kerry's steady brushing lulled Kim, made the tension drain out of her shoulders.
"Have I told you that you have the sexiest, most beautiful hair I've ever seen?" Kerry said softly.
"You might have mentioned something like that." A smile.
"And that you can make a pair of boxer shorts incredibly arousing?"
Kim turned slowly and met Kerry's eyes. "Are you trying to seduce me?"
"Yeah, I am," Kerry said. "How am I doing?"
"Really well," Kim said and she turned around all the way and kissed her. A long, deep, burning kiss that left no questions as to her intentions. Kerry responded in kind, dropping the hairbrush and wrapping her arms around Kim's waist and pulling her long, slender body against her.
The feel of Kim's lips made Kerry dizzy with need and she slipped her hands under the tail of Kim's t-shirt, discovering silky skin that flowed underneath her fingers. Kim groaned at the touch and arched her back, then broke away from the kiss. She got onto the bed, straddled Kerry's lap and then pulled her t-shirt over her head in one flowing movement. The shirt fell onto the bed and Kerry quickly recaptured Kim's lips.
Her center burning, Kerry traced the line of Kim's spine with tender fingers, following the ridge of one rib and caressing the warm, soft flesh of a perfectly sculpted breast. Kim pulled away from the kiss and sat back, let Kerry's hands find her breasts, let Kerry's strong and delicate fingers caress her nipples. Her head tossed back in reflex to the exquisite torture of Kerry's touch and suddenly there were tears welling in her eyes.
Kerry's hands were cupping her face now, wiping tears with her thumbs. "Oh sweetheart, oh I'm so sorry," Kerry said. "What is it? What's the matter?"
Kim wrapped her arms around Kerry and hugged her tightly. "I'm all right, I just - I hadn't let myself think about how much I missed you," she said. She sniffed and then another sob shook her lithe body. "How much I missed us. I - I thought we were never going to - "
"Shhhh," Kerry said. "Don't even say it." She stroked Kim's hair with one hand and rocked her. A moment later, Kim sat back and looked at Kerry's eyes, a smile slowly blooming through the tears. Kerry kissed her just then.
It was like coming home.