DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Trial By Jury and all characters are
property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I believe it was Prince, while he was still with The Revolution, who said, "I was dreaming when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray ..."
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Beyond A Shadow Of A Doubt
Settled into the set of pillows piled against the headboard of Kelly's bed, the latest John Irving novel propped open on her raised knees, Tracey was the personification of contentment. So engrossed in her reading that she was completely unaware of the passage of time and the events around her, she was slightly startled when she sensed, rather than saw, her partner pass through the doorway and move directly into the bathroom.
A quick glance at the clock on the nightstand revealed that it was considerably later than they normally "turned in" ... even on a weekend. Tracey was momentarily surprised that Kelly hadn't pointed that fact out to her sooner, or at least dropped a huge hint by climbing into bed and switching off her own lamp. Curious, she scanned the next few pages and waited for Kelly to join her. When she did emerge, face freshly scrubbed, hair slightly damp, wearing her oversized vintage Boston College t-shirt, and carrying a bottle of pale green lotion ... Tracey noticed only her pensive expression.
"What is it? What are you thinking about?"
Placing the lotion down next to her side of the bed, Kelly shook her head as she considered the question. "Nothing really ... something on TV ... I just don't get it ..." Flipping the covers back, she slid sideways onto the mattress, swinging her legs up after her.
"What were you watching?"
Kelly scooted backwards a fraction and reached for the lotion, uncapping it and squeezing some onto her palm. "It was an old episode of the X-files ... on one of the cable stations ..."
Her lips twitching, Tracey turned back to her book. ""Well then ... that's your problem ... I never did understand what the hell was going on with that show."
Cutting her eyes to the right, Kelly ignored the jab behind the remark. Briskly she rubbed her hands together and then ran them both up and down her leg. "No ... it wasn't the plot or the story that I had a problem with ... it was the way they dealt with a particular situation ... and not just in the one that was on tonight ... I remember thinking the same thing back when I watched the series before ... " Her voice trailed off as she squirted another dollop of lotion out of the bottle and paused to make sure that Tracey was listening to her.
Suppressing a sigh, the brunette turned to give her a "I can't believe we're having this conversation, but go on ..." look.
Satisfied that she had Tracey's attention, Kelly resumed her lotion application and her commentary. "They would have these occasions where someone was put in a position where they weren't sure that the other person was truly that person ... for whatever reason ... and here you had two people who had been through countless experiences together, supposedly trusting only each other to the exclusion of everyone else ... surviving bizarre and inexplicable things unique to them ... and then when it comes to the "how do I know it's really you ?" critical moment, the best they could come up with was "you have a sister ... your mother's name is ..." I mean ... for God sakes ... how about "remember that time those evil little twin girls tried to poison us?" or "remember that guy who squeezed through your air vent?" or "that time I almost let them put that worm in your ear in the Arctic?" Abruptly she snapped the top back on the bottle and tossed it onto the night table.
Inordinately amused by the all but incomprehensible diatribe, Tracey pressed her lips together to keep from smirking. It never ceased to amaze her the way Kelly's mind worked. She nodded indulgently. "Okay."
"It's really about relationships ... and degrees of intimacy. After all, I barely know Margaret ... the lady who processes our paychecks ... but I know her sister's name is Stella. Don't ask me how I remember that ... but I do."
"In this day and age, with Google and open records provisions, you can find out pretty much anything you want to know about anybody." Tracey had no idea where this was going, but she knew it hadn't run its course.
"Exactly! That's my point! People who are close ... really connected ... should have plenty of personal ways to validate that bond. Almost like having code words ... or shorthand ..."
Kelly rolled onto her side, facing the middle of the bed ... arm bent at the elbow, head resting on her hand. "We should think of something ... "
Tracey raised an eyebrow skeptically. "Just in case one of us might mistake the other for a shape-shifting alien clone?"
As if she hadn't heard Tracey's reply, Kelly pushed herself up, braced on her hand and hip, and leaned closer. "You know ... like sometimes in the movies or on television they'll have a scene where the main character has a gun to their head and are forced to talk to someone they love on the phone or whatever and they're told they can't let the other person know anything's wrong ... or else ... and the only way the other person knows is by the words they choose ..."
Speechless, Tracey was beginning to wonder how much wine or caffeine or other stimulant Kelly had ingested in the past few hours.
"... so just like you hear that you should have an agreed upon escape route and meeting place in case of a fire, or how they tell kids a password or phrase so that they know it's okay for a certain person to pick them up from school ... " She took a deep breath. " ... I'm just saying that it might be interesting to see what we come up with ... how well we do know each other ..."
Barely controlling her sarcasm, Tracey muttered. "Sounds like some strange home version of 'The Newlywed Game' ..."
"Tracey ... " Kelly's tone was plaintive yet playful. "Humor me ..."
Rolling her eyes good-naturedly, Tracey snapped her book shut. No matter what, she wouldn't get to any more of the novel tonight. Placing it next to the lamp with one hand, she reached behind her with the other to remove one of the pillows, sliding down to rest on the other one. Looking into Kelly's eyes, she realized that there wasn't much she could refuse her, that she was completely charmed and totally captivated. Smiling, she drew Kelly against her side, ruffling her blonde hair affectionately.
"So ... I'm supposed to ask ... what would you tell me to let me know it's really you? Or, what would let me know that you're in trouble?"
Resting her hand lightly on Tracey's stomach, Kelly gave it some thought. "Either ... both ... just something that only I would know, I guess ..."
Her voice devoid of emotion, as if she were reading badly from a script, but with a teasing glimmer in her eye, Tracey asked stiltedly, "Tell me Kelly, what is something that only you know about me?"
Grinning, Kelly poked her sharply in the ribs before answering. "How about your birthmark ... description and location ...?"
"Please! There are at least a handful of gynecologists, medical professionals and former lovers that have seen it and many other details of my naked body. And before you get into family history and childhood traumas, I should tell you that there a few shrinks who might be in on those as well. That can't be all you've got."
Rising to the challenge, positioning herself so that she was almost hovering over Tracey -- her hand crawling between the hem of the thin ribbed tank top and Tracey's sleep shorts -- Kelly flattened her palm warmly against her abdomen.
"Do these doctors ... therapists ... and exes ..." Kelly mentioned the last category somewhat distastefully. " ... happen to know ..." She was speaking slowly, her hand beginning to move lazily ... caressing. "... that the first time I went down on you ... I was so carried away, consumed ... that I unintentionally left a significant mark ... right about ... here?" Kelly brushed her thumb across the skin just below Tracey's hipbone.
Her eyes closing at the touch, nearly hypnotized by Kelly's tone, Tracey swallowed, breath catching briefly. "Well ... they know I bruise easily."
That comment earned her a low chuckle and a soft kiss near the base of her neck. Before she could sink into the sensations that threatened to overwhelm her completely, she regained some of her equilibrium as she remembered something ...
Clearing her throat, she ventured, "Speaking of ..."
Kelly raised her head. "Yes?"
"Does anyone else on the face of the earth know that the first time I spent the night over here ... and we were ... similarly engaged ... you gave new meaning to the phrase 'knee-jerk reaction' and slammed yours into my eye?"
For a moment, Kelly looked nearly as stricken by the memory as she had been by the actual incident. "I was so mortified ... that I had hurt you ... and then the next day ... you having to go into work with that shiner ... knowing everyone was looking, wondering ... whispering ..." She shuddered, still sounding rather aghast at Tracey's predicament.
Touching Kelly's lower lip softly with her fingertip to distract her back to the present, Tracey mused. "It's a good thing I didn't have a big burly boyfriend then ... I have a feeling there would have been some swift street justice dispensed on my behalf, due process be damned."
Kelly pretended to pout. "That's the good thing about not having a big burly boyfriend?"
"Well that ... and you let me use your razor ..."
Before Kelly could respond, Tracey pulled her down into a long sensual kiss, telling her without words all that was good about their relationship ... showing her just how connected they were ... reminding her just how deep their intimacy ran.
When Kelly finally pulled back, breathless, blue eyes dazed and darkening, Tracey gently stroked her temple, whispering, "I'm pretty sure I'd know you anywhere."
Blinking slowly, her head dipping down, dissolving into another extended clinch, Kelly answered her just as thoroughly. Breaking away, she nibbled and kissed her way up Tracey's jaw, murmuring near her ear, "That's all well and good if we are together ... can be with each other, touch each other ... like this ..."
Tracey smiled wryly, the corner of her mouth quirking up as she angled around to make eye contact once more. "Kelly ... are you saying ... that if a maniac is ever holding me hostage ... and I somehow manage to communicate with you ... you seriously want me to write or utter the words ... 'hip hickey'?"
For several beats, Kelly didn't react at all. Then she collapsed onto Tracey in a fit of giggles, shaking. Raising her head after a long while, her eyes dancing, she nodded. "Uh huh."
"And if you're the one who has to give 'the signal'?"
Beaming, Kelly waggled her eyebrows. "I think I'll use the same one ... it's a much better code phrase than 'black-eyed knee' ... plus there's a lot less guilt involved ... and fonder memories ..."
Tightening her arms around her partner, Tracey pulled her even closer. "You've more than made it up to me since then, you know."
"Good. Then we don't need to ever mention it again ... " Her lips brushed the top curve of Tracey's shoulder. "Of course, if we ever have to use our secret password ..." She adjusted herself more fully against Tracey, delighting in the sharp intake of breath the movement elicited. " ... we'll need another one ... but I would prefer we think up something new anyway ..."
"If that's really you, shut up and kiss me."
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