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Coming Out, Staying In
By Katherine Quinn

Chapter 15: Alex

I hate you right now and I swear I'm never speaking to you again. Yes. I've said that before but I really mean that this time. Pure raw embarrassment is oozing out of every pore in my body and you're sitting here next to me in the emergency room at nearly two o'clock in the morning with that god damn smirk on your face. It's so obvious that this is entirely amusing to you. With that damn smirk, you might as well stand up and give a dramatic interpretation of the events that got us here. That look, the cocky half smile, usually makes me swoon for you, but if you don't knock it off right now I'm going to hit you. We were having a romantic night in, the first in recent memory. Both of us had begged for the same night to be together, at home. No distractions but each other and our wonderfully soft bed. But this is us and when has a great night with us ever remained uneventful?

We're on the second hour of waiting here for someone to acknowledge our presence. I'm tapping my foot impatiently on the tiled floor, holding ice on my aching face. Our wait's not surprising since this is Manhattan and my obviously broken nose is at the bottom of the list when it comes to major trauma tonight.

You've had plenty of time to cycle through your emotional circle. First you were concerned, my eyes were tearing and blood was pouring out of my nose. Then on the way here, you drove through your guilt. But now? Now you're totally amused and working on slowly driving me insane. You're god damn proud of yourself. I was worried, for what time I had to even think about this, that you'd beat yourself up forever, but then, I was pretty sure you had managed to get past the guilt when you actually suggested that I write the phrase "traumatic sex injury" on the intake form.

I keep catching you looking at me out of the corner of your eye, and then the smirk gets to almost be a snicker and you look away quickly. At least you're trying not to laugh at me. You tell me it's okay and that you're sure that this isn't really that bad. Sure, my eyes'll probably bruise, but now we have a story to tell our grandchildren. I tell you that if you ever tell anyone about this, especially our grandchildren, I will have you killed. You smile and tell me that I should consider this a compliment.

"Fuck you," I mutter under my breath.

"See, that's how you got yourself into this mess in the first place," you counter.

I'm not in the mood. My nose is pounding. I tell you that you should go wait in the car. You feign being hurt and you tell me that you're sorry. You're so not sorry. I hear my name and at the same moment we both jump up. "You stay here," I growl at you, knowing that your amusement will lead to the retelling of the gory details of your pelvic bone thrusting into my nose as you screamed my name. You give me pleading eyes and tell me you want to be with me. I acquiesce, reluctantly, pleading with you silently in my head to not tell the story. The nurse looks at you questioningly and you smile and say, "Friend."

I sigh. "She's my girlfriend," I correct you. I feel your hand on my back and even though I can't see it, I can feel your smile. The nurse, of course, doesn't say a word, but smiles at you as she shows us a small room. She looks at my nose and sees the bruises starting to form. She asks me what happened, and just for a second I hesitate. "It's a long story," I say. My pause, though, is just long enough for you to pipe in with: "She walked into a door." Walked into a door? That's not a long story. Damn. We both know what "She had an accident" can be code for. I knew we should have come up with a story. She's going to think you hit me.

She looks at me suspiciously, but smiles, as she looks at the now crooked line of my nose and tells me that the doctor will be right in. I wait for her to leave and I look at you like you've finally lost it. "I walked into a door? Are you insane?"

"What?" you ask.

"They're going to think you assaulted me."

"They are not."

"Olivia. We walked in here, looking like we were about to kill each other. You tell her I walked into a door? No one walks into doors."

"People do. I mean, what'd you want me to say?" you say, your smirk threatening again to get out of control.

"I don't know. Just not 'she walked into a door.'"



You start to laugh, until you see the doctor stride in the door accompanied by the security guard. The guard looks at you and accesses his risk in asking you to step outside before he actually asks you to go. The doctor, who is approximately 14 years old, starts asking me about whether or not I've ever been abused. And what exactly happened to my nose. I can feel myself blushing a deep crimson as I explain to him quietly just exactly how my nose got like this. He looks just about as embarrassed as I am.

This just can't get worse. It's not possible. It's just not possible.

Chapter 16: Olivia

Okay, this isn't going well at all.

Yeah, so now God is punishing me for finding all of this a little too amusing. I mean, come on. In a few years, when you're not in pain and exceedingly embarrassed, you'll think this is all hilarious. You will. I swear. It was bad enough that any of this happened in the first place. I mean, statistically speaking, how many people actually get injured while in the throes of passion. You know, besides you. I know that I'm kind of responsible for that. But I swear it's not totally my fault. I mean, was I supposed to know that...oh forget it.

But now I'm out here in a crowded hallway with some idiot who's asking me if I like to "rough up my lady friend," and it's taking all I have not to deck the guy. Of course, decking the guy would go over really well for proving that I don't have a violent temper. And why the hell does he keep calling you my "lady friend?" God, that's annoying. Somewhere deep inside me, I know this guy's just doing his job, just like I do when I have to ask the tough questions, but he's just not getting it. He doesn't see that there is no way in the world I would ever hit you. This is all so ridiculous, but suddenly, I'm on the wrong side of the badge.

I feel totally idiotic, because really, this is totally explainable. You were teasing me, and I was, well, desperate for your touch. But here I am, suddenly, trying to explain something that's relatively personal to someone wearing a badge that they found in a Cracker Jack box. Instinctively, I stick my hand into my back pocket for my real badge as I explain to him that I'm a cop and that he's making a mistake. He's looking at me search my pockets with a smug frown, like he's heard this line before and it happens all the time. I finally remember that I left the damn thing on the floor, right next to the bed in the pile where you threw my clothes. We ran out in such a hurry, more worried about your nose bleeding than having my shield.

I sigh as I see the doctor stick his head out of the room and beckon me back in. Obviously you managed to convince him that I haven't beaten the crap out of you. I smile at the guard, who looks pissed that I'm getting away, and I walk in to see you sitting on a tiny gurney looking truly miserable. Your eyes are starting to bruise now, which I sort of figured would happen. It's just like when Elliott broke his nose last year when he got knocked in the face during the softball game against the DA's office.

I slide next to you on the gurney and sigh as you straighten your back. You are slipping into your professional mode. You do this whenever you don't want to be gay. Sometimes, you're great, queen of the lesbians. Like with that nurse, you came right out to her. But then, you slip into this mode when you want to leave me behind and just be like `everyone else'. It's solitary and isolating-and not just for you. When you feel judged, I get pushed aside. I'm so used to seeing you, smiling, crying, showing me your heart. But here we sit, you refusing to even look at me. I sense your discomfort and I test you by sliding towards you. You slide away. You act like I'm not even here.

The doctor stares down the line of your nose and orders an x-ray. You sniffle as he tells you that it looks crooked, and that if it is broken, there's not much they can do until it stops swelling. You make an appointment now to see a doctor in a few days who can then reduce it. It's all very routine; he's trying to assure you. He doesn't even look at me as he walks out of the room.

As soon as he's gone, you slide over next to me. I want to do what you did to me and slide away. I love you but I hate the game.

"Does it look bad?" you ask. Now's not the time to have this fight. You hurt and so do I. What a wonderful end to a delightful evening. I smile at you gently, and let you slide over and rest your head on my shoulder. I tell you that it looks like it hurts.

"That's code for yes," you grumble.

"I love you no matter what you look like." I try, gently sliding long blonde strands out of the intense blue eyes that are staring back at me.

That makes you start to cry.

Oh Jesus.

Do I ever learn?

Part 17

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