TITLE: Some Things Only She Knows
PAIRING: Elizabeth/Kerry, Elizabeth/Mark RATING: NC-17 for chicks doing it
SPOILERS/CONTINUITY: Through the end of season 8, and consistent with what I've read about the first episode of season 9. Takes place between "On the Beach" and "Lockdown." SERIES/SEQUEL: The first of a whole bunch. SUMMARY: Kerry pays a condolence call.
FEEDBACK: You have to ask? Send privately to mosca6@m... to make sure I get it.
ARCHIVE: Yes to list archives, ER Femslash, and especially Mmm... Doctor. Others will probably get it if they ask first. Please leave my disclaimers and notes intact. DISCLAIMERS: ER is the intellectual property of Constant C Productions, Amblin Entertainment, and Warner Brothers Television. This original work of fan fiction is copyright 2002 Mosca. Like Carter in the fourth season, I am unpaid, so this story is protected in the USA by the fair use provisions of the Copyright Act of 1976. All rights reserved. All wrongs reversed. Mind the gap.
NOTES: Thanks to k and Katisha for beta reading yet another one. I know I say it every time: you guys rock. Thanks to Mommy for the tapes. No thanks to the bastards who keep renting ER from my local video store so I have to get my fixes out of order.
"Baby, I'm Yours" is by Van McCoy. The title is from "Past the Mission" by Tori Amos.
Later on, Elizabeth would realize that Kerry Weaver had been the only one who'd cried at Mark's funeral. There had been people upset, of course, and sad. Rachel had played fearless, but when she thought no one was looking, she'd holed up in her room to weep. At the funeral itself, though, she was composed. Ella napped through most of the service. Even Mark's old friends-- Susan Lewis, Doug Ross-- held themselves together. And Elizabeth herself was too overwhelmed and too lost to do anything to stand like a stone. Kerry, though. Kerry had cried.
When Kerry showed up at Elizabeth's house three days after the funeral, it was a surprise, but it made sense, because of the crying. The house was unpleasantly silent, with Ella down for the night and no more Rachel noise. No more Mark noise. Elizabeth had tried putting some music on, but Tchaikovsky only made the silence louder. She was reading journals, or, more accurately, holding them in front of herself and trying to make something stick. But every time the air conditioner kicked in or a car went by, she was distracted again. The sound of the doorbell was like the distant horn of an unknown rescuer.
But it was just Kerry with a Nordstrom's bag full of food in Tupperware. "I thought you... might not want to have to cook for yourself," Kerry said. "The chicken-- the chicken freezes really well."
Elizabeth took the bag. "You-- you shouldn't have gone to all this trouble," she said.
"I... felt like... I had to do something," Kerry said. "And I-- it wasn't any trouble. It wasn't." She was still standing on the front stoop.
"You could-- you could come in," Elizabeth said. "Help me put this stuff away?"
"I... I'm sorry, I really ought to--"
"No, it's all right, I just thought--"
"But if you want me to, I can--"
"I'm fine, really, I--"
"Do you want me to stay?" Kerry said.
It took Elizabeth what felt like a very long time to decide on a "Yes."
"Then I will," Kerry said.
Elizabeth felt betrayed by her messy kitchen: dirty dishes in the sink, Ella's toys strewn across the table and the floor. The refrigerator itself was nearly empty. Elizabeth had tried to do some shopping, but it had seemed too much like something that normal people did. Nothing had looked appetizing or worth the effort. She'd come home with mostly food and supplies for Ella and scarcely anything for herself. The maid would come tomorrow and take care of the dishes, but there were a lot of things Elizabeth couldn't request from the household help.
Kerry looked lost.
"Why don't you... sit down in the living room and I'll-- I'll put on some tea," Elizabeth said.
It had taken Elizabeth some legwork to find a proper self-heating kettle in this land of overpriced, oversweetened coffee. Mark had been slightly afraid of it, just as he'd been slightly afraid of Marmite and her Blackadder box set. She'd had the sense, from time to time, that he'd loved her because she'd terrified him. Men feared women like her, even though women like her were in some ways the most benign. They wanted the same things that men wanted.
If they even knew what they wanted, which Elizabeth was quite sure she never had. She'd muddled through, had lovers more or less whenever she'd wanted them, found herself in love and pregnant and married and decided that was a good place to be because it ought to have been a good place to be. If there was a blessing in Mark's death, it lay in the possibility that she might start over. She might not get ahead of herself this time.
She could start by making some tea for the woman who was waiting in the living room. Elizabeth tilted the loose tea from the tin into the strainer as if it were some secret Druidic ritual, then shut it up in the teapot to wait for the water to boil. She poured fresh milk into the cream server; the sugar lived permanently in the sugar bowl because it was too much fuss dumping it back into the bag. The kettle began to whistle, and she'd forgotten to get cups out, and spoons, and fuck it, why did she even care? What was she trying to prove?
"I'm sorry," Elizabeth said, bringing out the tea tray. "I guess I've made rather a big deal of this."
"It-- it looks nice," Kerry said.
"It's a lot of work for nothing."
"No, it's not," Kerry said. "It's for something." She picked up the teapot. "Do you want me to pour you some?"
"No-- no-- you've got to put the milk in first," Elizabeth said quickly.
"See? If it didn't matter, it wouldn't bother you that I was doing it wrong."
"I suppose it wouldn't," Elizabeth said. She poured herself a correct cup of tea.
"Can I leave out the sugar?" Kerry said.
"I think that's acceptable," Elizabeth said with a smile.
Kerry blew across her tea. "The government officials in Kenya would be disappointed to know they were serving their High Tea wrong."
"I lived in Nairobi for two years after I finished medical school," Kerry explained.
"I... didn't know that."
"I-- I don't talk about my past much," Kerry said. "Not at work."
"That's different," Kerry said.
"The rest of the ER staff seem to think that we should be one big happy family. I'm... I've never been so comfortable with that."
"Sounds better than having to listen to Anspaugh talk about golf."
"I've given rectal exams that were better than having to listen to Anspaugh talk about golf," Kerry said.
Elizabeth smiled. "It's good to know I'm not alone in that."
"The worst was when he'd start out talking about golf and then start talking about how golf was really the only time he got out of the house anymore, and he could really use someone to keep him company."
Elizabeth tried not to reveal her disgust. "So you..."
"Turned him down," Kerry said. "Repeatedly."
"Good for you. I'm not sure I would have had the courage."
"You've never slept with Romano," Kerry said. Elizabeth wondered how she could be so certain of that.
"No," Elizabeth said, "but that's different."
"I guess it is," Kerry said, pouring herself some more tea. "Why do they think--"
"As long as we're around, we might as well be put to some good use." It felt good to laugh. For weeks, it had felt inappropriate to make a joke of anything.
But Kerry wasn't laughing; she was watching Elizabeth laugh. She waited for Elizabeth to finish before saying, "Mark wasn't like that, though." Elizabeth had known that he'd come up eventually, but she found herself a bit sorry that it had happened so soon. She'd been happy not to talk about him. Not to think about him.
"No," Elizabeth said, "he wasn't." She checked the teapot, but it was empty. "Maybe that's what drew me to him."
"Do you think so?"
"I don't know," Elizabeth said. "I think it was a lot of things."
After a long time, Kerry said, "I wish I'd seen them."
"You must have," Elizabeth said. "As long as the two of you worked together--"
"But whenever we were in the same room, all we could see were the bad things. And you think-- you think you have all this time-- all this time to apologize and to say... that deep down, for all the differences you had, you did like each other. And now... all of a sudden I ran out of time, and there are things... Maybe that's why I came here. Because I can't patch things up but I can..."
Elizabeth felt like she ought to do something. She thought she should comfort Kerry somehow, perhaps embrace her. But Kerry didn't seem like the kind of person who allowed that. Kerry might have appreciated it; she might have even needed it. Elizabeth knew, though, that Kerry would draw back from her nonetheless. The violation would outweigh any positive effect.
"He knew," Elizabeth said, because it was all she could do without making things worse. "He knew that you-- that you cared about him. In the end, I think he knew."
"Don't say that just to make me feel better," Kerry said.
"I'm not," Elizabeth said. She realized that she sounded defensive. "I'm-- I'm saying it to make myself feel better. Because I want to think-- that before he... went, he was... at peace with everything. That whatever loose ends there were, he was able to reconcile them."
"I hope so," Kerry said.
"Which is great for him, but I'm not sure where it leaves the rest of us."
Kerry smiled. "Here, in your living room..."
"Having drunk all the tea."
"Speaking of which, I..." Kerry stood up. "I should go. Thanks-- thanks for the tea."
"Thank you for the company," Elizabeth said, "and for the food."
"Are you... sure there's nothing else you need?"
There were a thousand things Elizabeth needed, starting with cleaning up the mess in the house and ending with raising her husband from the dead. There wasn't much that Kerry could provide, though. It seemed presumptuous to ask if Kerry would mind taking care of some of those dishes.
Kerry was on her way to the door. "Oh, um, I'm sorry to even mention this, but-- could you return the containers when you're done with them? You don't even have to wash them, just-- just I need them back. Eventually."
"Do you need the bag, too?"
Kerry looked like she wasn't sure whether Elizabeth was joking. "No. You can keep the bag." Kerry was at the door, but she wasn't leaving. It was like she was expecting something else from Elizabeth. And Elizabeth realized that there was something she needed that Kerry could provide: not something that she had any right to ask, but there it was. Elizabeth could have it if she wanted it. She was good, at least, at that.
"Are you-- are you all right?" Kerry said. "Do you need me to stay a little longer?"
Elizabeth was staring toward the door as if Mark might walk in at any moment, and she'd have to apologize. It seemed that she felt him most acutely when she was at her guiltiest and least adequate.
When the numbness began to subside, Kerry's nervous hand was on Elizabeth's shoulder. Kerry was saying that it was all right, it was all right. Elizabeth shook her head. "I'll stay with you a while," Kerry said. "I'll stay with you a while."
"Thank you," Elizabeth choked. Kerry sat back down next to her. Elizabeth desperately watned to say something, but she worried about what that would invite. She didn't like to look fragile, even when that got her what she wanted. Now, she could say almost anything without frightening Kerry away. Still, she sat there silently until the situation bordered on the absurd. She couldn't even fill the air with meaningless chatter like she normally did. It was a scene that would never work in an American film: two people on a sofa, and all you could do from the audience was watch their faces. Elizabeth was visualizing it like that, from outside herself, like she might visualize a body before surgery. She was trying to think what would happen next if this were a film, and she didn't like any of the answers her mind was offering.
Hoping she might be forgiven for it, Elizabeth asked, "Are you attracted to me?"
"Are you..." Elizabeth couldn't have got out the rest of that sentence again if she'd tried.
"It doesn't matter," Kerry said, not looking at Elizabeth. Staring, in fact, deeply into the armrest of the sofa.
"You are, aren't you?" Elizabeth said.
"You-- you don't want this. You're... in a lot of pain right now, and..."
"I did most of my mourning for Mark while he was still alive," Elizabeth said. She was explaining it to herself as much as anything. "By now, I'm mainly feeling sorry for myself."
"Still, I should-- maybe I should go before you--"
"Do something I'll regret?" Elizabeth said.
"Don't worry about what I'll regret. Worry about yourself."
"I-- I don't want--"
"If I told you it would only one night, we would be friends afterward, and no one at work would ever know? We're both adults, Kerry. Who would it hurt?"
Kerry was shifting her weight. She looked like she was trying to unpin herself from the sofa. "My-- my girlfriend," she said finally.
"I'm sorry, I-- I didn't know. Forget it."
"We're... not getting along so well as-- as it is," Kerry admitted. "This would-- it would be the last straw. Even if she never knew-- if she never knew it was you, even if she never knew I cheated on her-- this would be it."
"I don't want to be the one to force you into that decision."
"I'm-- I'm going to have to make it eventually," Kerry said. "Either that, or marry her." Kerry sounded less than enthusiastic about the latter option.
"We should-- if you're going to stay, then we really ought to--" Elizabeth fumbled, trying to fill the air. And Kerry silenced her with a kiss. Kerry had small, dry lips. It had been so long since Elizabeth had kissed anyone but Mark that Kerry's mouth against hers felt alien. Alien, but not cruel. It was too late to hurt him now.
Kerry's hands were smooth-skinned, and her neat short fingernails grazed Elizabeth's neck. The sofa wasn't really the right place for this. Elizabeth grabbed the baby monitor and, still kissing her, led Kerry to the stairwell. Only then, Elizabeth realized that the narrow stairway might be difficult for Kerry. She wanted to sweep Kerry into her arms and carry her up the steps like a knight performing a gallant rescue. She'd always wondered what it felt like to be chivalrous; she thought she might be good at it. But now there might have been more chivalry in letting Kerry climb the stairs on her own.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Kerry asked.
"I think I'll figure that out later," Elizabeth said.
The truth was that Elizabeth knew it as soon as she'd shut the door behind her, as soon as she'd set the baby monitor down where it was unlikely to be knocked over.
"What do you want me to...?" Kerry said.
Elizabeth took Kerry by the waist and pushed her gently back onto the bed. She couldn't think of the bed as Mark's: it had been hers since a trip to IKEA three days after she'd moved into her new American flat. The bed had seen plenty of lovers before Mark. It seemed more than fair to add another. "Show me what you can do," Elizabeth stage-whispered.
From beneath Elizabeth, Kerry ran her hands under Elizabeth's shirt. Elizabeth was regretting her can't-be-arsed attire: a loose cotton skirt, a vest over a sports bra, and a truly decrepit pair of knickers. She knew that Kerry wasn't holding this against her, and at best was appreciating how easy it would be to undress her. Still, Elizabeth wished she'd been better prepared.
She wished she'd been better prepared for what Kerry was doing to her breasts. It was not the sucking them dry thing, nor the overzealous and uncomfortable biting thing, nor the sticky tongue bath thing. Elizabeth's vest was long gone, and the sports bra was tangled up at her clavicle. Kerry was kissing around Elizabeth's breasts: no tongue, no teeth, just her lips pressing roughly into the delicate skin. She stroked Elizabeth's nipple with her thumb, letting it harden slowly. Elizabeth had lost a lot of the sensation in her nipples when she was nursing Ella, and it felt like Kerry was gradually bringing them back to life. Kerry nipped Elizabeth's shoulder, and the little circle of pain made Elizabeth sigh with delight. Kerry bit harder into Elizabeth, and Elizabeth moaned. Soon, Kerry was covering Elizabeth with the sharp pressure of teeth and her firm tongue in the middle: Elizabeth's shoulders and belly and even the fleshier parts of her breasts. But nowhere that would show tomorrow.
Elizabeth felt pleasantly stung all over. Silently, Kerry pulled Elizabeth forward. Elizabeth sat low on her knees, over Kerry's face. Time to get past the foreplay, then. But Kerry surprised her by rubbing her thighs gently after she slid Elizabeth's skirt down. She grazed the small of Elizabeth's back with short-nailed fingertips. When Kerry went for Elizabeth's panties and Elizabeth thought she might finally get down to business, Kerry slipped a single finger under the elastic and teased the top of Elizabeth's pubic mound. Kerry flicked Elizabeth's clitoris a few times with that finger. Elizabeth feared that if she didn't get out of that old underwear soon, the worn fabric might disintigrate in the heat and the wet. She pulled them off herself, quickly and insistently. "Don't make me wait," Elizabeth said.
Kerry seemed a bit annoyed at being interrupted, but she didn't object. She wrapped a steadying arm around Elizabeth's waist and used her other hand to tease Elizabeth's vaginal opening. For a few moments, it felt like all of Elizabeth's nerves were gathering in that one sensitive spot. Kerry's tongue on her clitoris was almost a distraction. A nice one, though, of course. Kerry had a definite sense of technique, more kissing than licking, pressing her lips into the thin skin, sucking hard on the hood of Elizabeth's clit. Kerry had slipped a couple of fingers into Elizabeth's vagina, and Elizabeth leaned backward slightly to feel them rub against her. It felt good just to be held and to be touched. But Elizabeth was happy to take it for all it was worth. She closed her eyes and dug her fingers into the bedclothes. She bit her lip and moaned quietly when she came; she didn't want to wake the baby.
She'd expected Kerry to be rather better at this than Mark, and Kerry hadn't disappointed her. Mark's enthusiasm had always made up for his relative ineptitude and his occasional, unpredictable conservativism. After a few years, it had been easy to forget the past lovers who had made the rafters shake. When Elizabeth had come on to Kerry, she'd done it with the expectation that Kerry would be a good fuck. She hadn't expected Kerry to be good enough to diminish Mark. Maybe it was just that Elizabeth wanted to remember him as better than he was.
The last time she and Mark had made love had been in Hawaii. When he'd gone there to die, he was like an old Viking, floating sadly out to sea. She'd thought he would be too sick to want to touch her, but the night after she'd arrived in the retreat house, lying next to her, he'd stroked her hair with his good left hand and kissed her softly. From there, things had gone in the direction they often went. But his fatigue and the anti-seizure medication had kept him from getting hard; he'd punched the mattress in frustration. Then a smile had played across his face, and he'd burrowed under the covers. He'd never been particularly good at giving head anyway, and then, with his illness, he couldn't keep his tongue from deviating right. It had felt good because he was so unwilling to admit defeat, but she'd had to pretend to come. She faked well; he might have believed her. If not, she could take comfort in the fact that both of them had known the necessity of the lie.
She didn't have to lie to Kerry. Elizabeth rolled off of her and brushed her lips with a finger. And then kissed her, because she wasn't sure what else to do. Kerry seemed surprised to be kissed. Elizabeth fumbled open the first few buttons of Kerry's shirt, and Kerry wrested their mouths apart. "Really, you don't have to, it--" she said.
"What, are you kidding?" Elizabeth said, peeled her out of her shirt, and unhooked her bra. Kerry had firm breasts with small, pale areolas. Elizabeth had always envied women like that: men might have liked to look at cleavage, but Elizabeth would have given that up if it meant she could go braless in the summertime. Kerry's breasts looked like they tasted sweet. Elizabeth disengaged from Kerry's lips and bent her head down to lick one from where it rose from the flat of Kerry's ribcage, over the still-soft peak of her nipple to the soft bottom curve. Kerry tasted salty but clean. She sighed at Elizabeth's touch.
Elizabeth relieved Kerry of the rest of her clothes. Kerry's right hip was a road map of surgical scars from her pelvic bone to her knee. Someone long ago had worked hard at repairing her. Elizabeth started to run her hand down the inside of that thigh, but Kerry winced, perhaps in pain but probably in self-protection. Just because she wore her scars on the outside didn't mean she wanted to let anyone else near them. Elizabeth kissed Kerry's belly and rubbed her shoulders; Kerry relaxed.
It took Kerry a while to acquiesce to Elizabeth even after Elizabeth was between her legs, stroking her hard and fast with her tongue. The last time she'd done this, she'd been an undergraduate at Cambridge. Most of the other times were even earlier, when she was still in school. She remembered all those terrified third- and fourth-form girls, whispering hopefully in the dining hall, knocking at the door to Elizabeth's room an hour before lights-out. At one point, Elizabeth had been one of them. Victoria Hewitt had snuck her out of a film night and gone down on her under the big willow tree in the school garden. Elizabeth had been fourteen years old: Rachel's age. Too young for that, and within a year she'd earned a reputation as the one girls went to when they wanted to have their first orgasm. Now, she was a bit out of practice, but it was like, well, riding a bicycle. Kerry had tangled her hands in Elizabeth's hair, holding her down. Kerry was getting a bit loud, come to think of it. Elizabeth raised her head just enough to say, "Baby's sleeping."
"Sorry," Kerry whispered. She covered her mouth with her hand. Elizabeth went back to stroking Kerry's clit hard with her tongue. Kerry made up for keeping herself quiet by squeezing Elizabeth tightly with her knees and writhing to make the bed creak. Apparently, when Kerry's reserve went down, it went down all the way. When Kerry came, Elizabeth was a bit proud of herself for still having the nerve and the skill to get her there.
"Not bad for someone who's never done that before," Kerry said, drawing Elizabeth up and kissing her.
"Who said I'd never done it before?"
"You-- you mean you have?"
"I went to a girls' boarding school for thirteen years," Elizabeth said. "We'd get bored. And curious."
"That's... not really what I would have expected of you."
"Oh, no, I was a model student otherwise. I got high marks; I was a prefect; I was on the rowing crew..." Elizabeth stopped herself. "Oh, my, this all must sound impossibly English to you."
"I know what you're talking about," Kerry said. "I mean-- I know the type."
"And what were you like? I'll bet you were very studious."
"Got straight A's, smoked like a chimney, sat in diners reading biology journals when my parents thought I was at church."
Elizabeth laughed. "I remember that girl." She kissed Kerry's forehead. "As a matter of fact, I think I was a little bit in love with that girl."
"Only a little."
Kerry surprised Elizabeth by kissing her deeply. There was a long silence after that kiss, and Elizabeth thought she might just let herself drift off to sleep. But there was something about the quiet that felt unfinished. "I would have left him," she said softly.
"Mmm-hmm. If he hadn't-- if he hadn't got sick again, I would have."
"I didn't realize-- I mean, I heard the rumors that you'd moved out, but--"
"I loved him," Elizabeth said. "But I couldn't live like that."
"Conventional, domestic... monogamous..."
"Me neither," Kerry said, which wasn't the response that Elizabeth was expecting.
"For about two years. When I was in medical school."
"I'd-- I'd rather not talk about it," Kerry said. "If that's all right."
"Of course," Elizabeth said, chastising herself for even asking. She stroked the back of Kerry's neck. "You know-- being with you has reminded me of all those things I missed. Of just having sex with someone, without the insistence that it has to-- lead to something. I-- I mean, I-- I don't think I could fall in love with a woman, but--"
"I'm glad it's nothing personal," Kerry said.
"I just-- I wanted to tell you because-- I don't want you to regret this. But I didn't want you to-- to get your hopes up, or..."
"I wasn't... expecting anything beyond tonight," Kerry said. "I'm not sure I'd want anything beyond tonight."
"Good," Elizabeth said.
"But I'll stay the night if you want me to."
"I do," Elizabeth said. "If it isn't too much to ask."
"Not at all," Kerry said. She wrapped her arms around Elizabeth and held her so close that it felt like there was no space between them anywhere. Elizabeth fell asleep that way, and it was her first satisfying rest in a long time: no anxious dreams, no interruptions from Ella, no waking suddenly to check Mark for a pulse. She'd known she was tired, but she hadn't realized how tired.
When she awoke, it took a few moments to orientate herself to the fact that Kerry was trying to nudge her out of sleep. "I think you're being paged," Kerry said.
"What?" Elizabeth said. "I'm not on call..."
Kerry handed Elizabeth the baby monitor. "Mama? Mama?" Ella was calling.
"I'll be right back," Elizabeth said.
"It's all right," said Kerry. "I... ought to go."
"It's five-thirty in the morning."
"My shift starts at seven."
"You should have told me! I would have--"
"I wasn't really planning on staying the night," Kerry said. There was a silence. "I-- I-- You'd better check on your daughter before she starts to cry. I'll... say goodbye before I leave."
"All right," Elizabeth said and made her way down the corridor to the baby's room.
Ella was standing up in her crib, holding on to the bars for stability. "Di-yuh, Mama," Ella sniffled. Nonetheless, she was uncooperative while Elizabeth changed her diaper, fidgeting and kicking her chubby legs. Elizabeth hoped that Ella might go back to sleep for an hour or so, but when she finished snapping Ella's pajamas back on, Ella said, "Ba?" So Elizabeth had to dash down the stairs to the kitchen with Ella in her arms. She had just transferred a fresh bottle from the refrigerator to the microwave when Kerry found her.
"I'm-- I'll-- Will I... see you at work?" Kerry said.
"I'm going to England for a while, actually," Elizabeth said. "I don't know for how long." She felt no need to mention that it might be forever, especially now that she had one more reason to avoid County General, pledge of friendship or no.
"I'd been thinking of using up a few vacation days, myself," Kerry said.
"Well, then, I'll..."
"See you around?"
"Something like that."
Kerry gave her a long kiss. It didn't feel like a kiss goodbye-- not exactly. "Oh, and-- don't worry about the Tupperware."
Elizabeth let that be the end of the conversation. She bounced Ella in her arms and watched Kerry go. The microwave beeped; Ella took the bottle hungrily in her hands. Elizabeth danced Ella slowly around the kitchen, humming nothing in particular. Ella giggled while she sucked on her bottle. Elizabeth realized that her subconscious had settled on a song, and it was a morbid one: "Baby I'm yours/ And I'll be yours/ Until the stars fall from the sky/ Yours until the rivers all run dry/ In other words, until I die-ie-ie." Come to think of it, perhaps it wasn't morbid at all. Perhaps it was as hopeful as the ghosts of kisses Kerry had left behind on her raw lips. As knowing there was nothing that she had to be resigned to anymore. As having a transatlantic plane ticket with an open return and all the time in the world.