DISCLAIMER: Is there a point to this?
THANKS: To my Fab Four, all of whom patiently sat through this one even though it took forever to finish: Gail, my all-powerful and brilliantly witty beta; Cleo, who sends excellent smileys; Annie, whose enthusiasm never wanes; and Xander, who provides daily inspiration and working titles.
SPOILER: Yeah, if you count the fake season 8 finale spoilers that went around on the WB board a while back.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Finale, aka Cook County Crisis
By Harriet

Kim sat, wringing her hands, as she had for the past four hours. She hadn't slept, eaten, or left the hallway since her arrival, and she was getting more and more anxious.

A tall, hunched figure left the ICU, and Kim was out of her seat instantly. "Luka! What's going on?"

Luka looked grim. "She still hasn't woken up yet, but you know that's normal for an injury like this."

"Injury. Injury, you're calling it. You mean a gunshot." Kim's voice was harsh in the silence of the hallway. "She was shot. She didn't fall down or wreck her car. She was just doing her job!" The shrillness of her words frightened her as she felt the terror creeping in. She smacked a hand over her mouth before she could lose it entirely.

Luka moved in close, his hands coming to rest on her shoulders. "She came through it well, Kim. She'll wake up."

Kim gritted her teeth against the words that longed to come out of her mouth. She wanted to extract a promise from Luka that Kerry would be fine and whole again, a promise her mind knew he could not keep but her heart longed for. She nodded to him, her hand still over her lips, keeping everything she was feeling inside.

"Come here," Luka said, and Kim instantly pulled back.

"No, don't Luka." His sympathy and kindness could well send her over the edge.

"Okay." He quietly examined her, and Kim closed her eyes so he wouldn't see everything she was feeling. "Are you hungry or thirsty?"

Instead of denying herself as she had since the moment she'd heard the news, she relented. "Some water?"

"I'll be right back." Luka looked happy to have something to do that would take up a few more minutes, anything to take his mind off the situation.

Kim sat back down, sprawling her limbs over the chair. Tears gathered in her eyes, though she would not let them fall, tipping her head back and keeping her eyelids open. She sensed a figure in front of her, but wasn't quite ready to see anyone yet.

"Hey, stranger."

That voice brought her head up. "Abby," she smiled, and stood to greet her. She opened her arms, and Abby stepped into them awkwardly, patting her back twice. "Hi."

"I'm glad to see you, I wish it was for another reason."

Kim nodded. "Me too."

"Do you want some company?"

"I don't know. I think so. I mean, yeah. Sit."

They settled in just as Luka came back with a huge liter and a half bottle of water. "This should last you a while."

Kim heard a laugh bubble up out of her throat. "Thanks Luka, it's great." Immediately she twisted off the top and drank until she couldn't take any more, wiping her mouth with the back of her wrist when she was through.

"Wow," Abby offered. "You were thirsty."

"Yeah," Kim answered, feeling the fullness in her belly, wondering if she'd have to go throw up in a few minutes.

"Kim, who called you?"

Sighing, she leaned back in her chair. "Luka. He thought I'd want to know."

"I didn't think anyone knew how to find you."

"We talked once, a while ago. I let him know I was back here at Northwestern."

Abby paused for a moment. "Okay. I didn't know you two were good friends."

"We're not, really. But he was, um, he knew some things that I needed to find out."

"You mean about Kerry."

Kim didn't respond. She didn't know what to say.

Abby leaned in and lowered her voice. "You know that woman over there is Kerry's ex."

Kim peeked across the hallway at the small woman with wildly curly hair. She was lying across two seats, dozing fitfully.

"I thought so. Sandy?"

"Yeah." Abby looked at the floor. "So you and Kerry?"

Kim grimaced. "Yeah."

"How long has it been since you've seen her?"

Closing her eyes, Kim said, "On Tuesday it will be a year to the day."

"Shit." They sat quietly together, silence filling the hallway again.

Luka was run ragged in the ER, but he was relieved to be busy. Dealing with Mark's death and Elizabeth's loss of her husband and father of her child was enough. But Kerry's injury, no, her gunshot wound, was too much to handle. It reminded him of the attack on Lucy and Carter over two years before, with the chaos that ensued, and the complete incomprehension of how something as obscene as either event could happen.

The ER was short two doctors and a surgeon, so it was swamped. Nearly everyone had been called in, and he watched as Susan Lewis staggered to the back exam room, probably to lie down and close her eyes. She'd been on for the past 24 hours already, and Luka didn't expect to see her leave anytime soon.

As he stared at a chart unseeingly, he felt a nudge at his elbow.

"Hey," Randi said.


"Are you okay?"

"Yes, I'm fine." He wanted to add something, fine seemed so inadequate. "Numb, I think. It won't hit me till later." He knew from experience.

"Dr. Weaver," Randi said.

"She's in the ICU."

"But she'll be okay." It wasn't a question.

Everyone seemed to want him to promise she'd be fine, and he told himself she would be. "Yes, she will."

Randi narrowed her gaze. "But you don't know for sure yet, do you."

He shook his head. "She was down for a while. We'll know when she wakes up."

Randi's lip quivered. "She'll be okay. I know it," she whispered. He watched as Randi tried to hold back her tears, knowing she'd fail. He laid the chart down and hugged her, feeling her arms wrap around him tightly.

Randi had seen it happen; he could still hear her screaming. She actually climbed (although it appeared more like she'd leapt) over the desk and was one of the three people to get the gunman down to the floor. Luka doubted she knew exactly what she'd done, probably saving a dozen lives. She'd only remember the one she hadn't saved. Or two.

No, he thought, Kerry will be fine. Randi believed it; he'd believe it too.

"Maybe you should go home," he mumbled, feeling her tears seeping down his neck.

She shook her head once. "No, I need to be here." 'With my family' he imagined hearing her say. He understood.

"Me too."

"Dr. Kovac," Chuny called, helping Doris bring in someone on a gurney. "We need you."

The moment broken, Luka pulled away. "Find me if you need to talk."

Randi nodded, eyes dripping. "You too."

He smiled as he followed Chuny into trauma two.

Susan lay on her back, staring at the ceiling. The images played and replayed in her mind, Mark falling, Kerry dropping to her knees. Her crutch had smacked to the floor, and for some reason that sound stayed in Susan's mind long after Kerry had been rushed into surgery.

There was no way she was going to sleep; she was too frazzled, too tired to relax.

Mark was dead.

He'd bled out on a gurney in trauma one, gone long before they stopped working on him. Elizabeth had stood by, holding his hand, knowing it was over. She was the one who'd called it, tears rolling down her face.

Susan squeezed her eyes shut. She had to sleep, but couldn't take anything because she might be called in. God, it was going to be a long day.

The door opened, and John came in. He stood in the doorway for a moment, his shadowed features examining her in the sliver of light. "Can't sleep?"

She just shook her head, worried if she spoke she'd start to cry for the first time since it happened twelve hours before.

"Turn over," he said.

"No, John, don't," she pleaded.

"Don't worry, this isn't a come on. You need some rest. I have a few minutes. Just turn over."

Desperation won out over propriety, and Susan flipped onto her stomach. She knew it probably wasn't a great idea to allow her former boyfriend to touch her right now, but she needed something. Someone.

John pulled up a chair and tugged the sheet up over her hips, then rested his hand upon the small of her back. Slowly he rubbed his hand in small circles, creating a sensation of warmth that rolled out to her limbs, up through the top of her head. Her eyes closed, and she reveled in the feeling. It was helping. She'd thank him once she woke up.

A few minutes later she slept, and dreamed about watching football in her old apartment. With Mark.

Kerry's eyes fluttered open for a moment, then she quickly closed them. "Light," she croaked, the sound rasping out of a parched throat.

"What?" someone said.

She tried to find some saliva in her mouth to speak again, but couldn't. "Too bright," she said, maybe. Her voice sounded papery and thin, damaged. She coughed lightly, then gasped for air at the pain that radiated through her chest. Her mind was cloudy. Her arms wouldn't lift, her head too heavy to move.

She tried opening her eyes again, and the light was dimmer than before. A blurry form appeared above her, and she felt a hand take hers and stroke it. "Kerry?" it asked.

She grunted softly, her mouth unable to form any more words.

"Do you need water?"

Giving a valiant effort, she tried to nod her head.

It must have worked, because a hand came to hold her head up and gently tipped some precious liquid between her lips. "I don't have a straw on me," Abby said. "Sorry."

Kerry blinked. "Ab," she said, once she'd coated her throat with the gloriously cool water.

"Yeah, it's me. I convinced the regular nurse that you needed to hear a friendly voice for a while. You gave us quite a scare, I'm glad you're awake."

"Scare," she said. "What?"

"There was a shooting downstairs. You took a bullet to the stomach. Did a little number on your liver but Romano patched you up, if you can believe it." Kerry blinked, not quite processing the information. "You'll be fine, though. No other damage, the bullet passed right through."

"Yeah," Kerry said. She'd caught every other word Abby said.

"There are some people here for you. Carter was waiting for a while, but he had to go back down. And Luka, he was around, he'll probably be back in a few minutes. Sandy's here, has been all night. Two guys I don't know, Ramon and Pierre I think they said their names were. They're worried. And, um, Kim's here."

Kerry stared up at Abby. "What?"

"Kim Legaspi. She's here."

Kerry squeezed Abby's hand as hard as she could. She had to be sure she hadn't misheard. "Kim," she wheezed.

"Hey, hey, relax. Do you want me to get her?" Abby looked across the room at something she couldn't see.

"Yes, Kim." Her chest hurt worse now, she had to stay calm. But if Kim were here, she would make everything better.

"Okay, I'll be right back."

Quietly Abby exited Kerry's room, carefully shutting the door behind her. She knelt before Kim, who was immediately alert. With her head tilted back against the concrete wall, she'd experienced a lucid dream in which Kerry woke up and walked out of the ICU complaining, "What the hell is going on here? I need to get back to work."

"What is it?" Kim asked.

"She wants to see you." Kim's stomach flipped at the words.

"She's awake?"

"Yeah. I need to get Romano in to assess her, but she wants you there."

Nodding, Kim was on her feet and at the door in three strides. "Keep your voice low, and don't turn on the overhead lamp. It was bothering her eyes."


"Wait," Abby said, placing a hand on Kim's arm.

"What is it?" She was anxious to get in, her heart pounding out of control.

"The monitor went nuts when I said you were here. Try to keep her calm, otherwise Romano will toss you out on your ear if he thinks you aren't helping her."

Kim closed her eyes and breathed deeply. She exhaled a shaky breath to help keep herself together. "Thanks, Abby. Walk slowly when you're looking for Rocket, okay?"

"You got it."

Kim stepped into the dim room, the only light coming from a lamp on the small side table. Kerry's body looked tiny, like a child's in an adult sized bed. Her skin was paler than she'd ever seen, and the beeping and whining of monitors broke the quiet of the room. Kim had been crazy to get in to see her since she arrived, but now she was afraid to approach the bed. Slowly she moved closer, and Kerry's eyes drifted open.

That was all it took. Instantly Kim was there, gazing down with watery eyes, afraid to touch but desperate to hold any part of the broken body before her. "Ker, hi sweetie."

Kerry's face crumpled. A tear leaked from the corner of her eye and slid down to the pillow.

"Oh no, sweetie, don't cry. You're okay." Kim leaned down and pressed her lips to Kerry's forehead, caressed her cheek softly. "Shh, you're going to be fine. You just need to rest." The skin beneath her lips was clammy to the touch, and she nuzzled in closer.

"Kim," came a strangled sound from below her.

"I'm right here, Kerry. I won't go anywhere. I promise."

Kerry hiccupped once, then winced at the pain the movement probably brought her. "Promise?" she whispered. Her voice sounded horrible, and it broke Kim's heart.

"I swear. I'll stay right here." She had a miserable time keeping the terror from her voice, but Kerry seemed to calm at her declaration. She pulled a nearby chair closer and sat down, staying at the head of the bed. She took Kerry's hand in hers and rested her other elbow on the pillow, looking down into the face she'd never been able to shake from her mind. "Rest, sweetie."

"Okay," Kerry said, her eyes already drooping. But she squeezed Kim's hand once, and smiled a little before she fell asleep.

Kim ruffled Kerry's hair, trailing her fingertips along her temple. Then she leaned her head on her hand and closed her eyes. This was better than waiting outside. This was better than everything.

Sandy came back to her seat bearing gifts for those waiting; she was starved but couldn't face cafeteria food. She knew she'd have to leave soon, but crossed her fingers she'd get some news before going back to the station house.

"Here, want one?" she asked the two guys seated across from her. She'd met them once when she went by Kerry's house on a whim and interrupted a small dinner party. To her surprise, the six guests were all gay, and Sandy had yet to figure out where Kerry had met them. Ramon and Pierre were two of the friendlier ones, and Sandy was happy they were here now.

"Thanks, Sandy. That's sweet." Ramon tore open the Snickers and broke it in two, giving the other half to Pierre.

"Oohh, this hit the spot, thanks girlfriend," Pierre said.

"Where's Blondie?" Sandy tilted her head towards Kim's vacant seat.

"She went in," Pierre answered, words garbled by a mouthful of chocolate.

"Went in? What happened? I was only gone for five minutes!"

"That pretty nurse who was in there came out to get her. I think Kerry was awake."

"Shit! I can't believe I missed it. Is she okay?"

Ramon said, "I think so. Abby left to get someone to check her out. That's all I know."


"Honey, you should get that nurse's number. She definitely looks like family."

Sandy gave them both a sideways grin. "I have a girlfriend, thank you. And Abby's straight. She has a thing for one of the guys in the ER. Kerry told me." She frowned, remembering how full of laughter Kerry had been compared to how she was now. One thing Sandy treasured in their continuing friendship was her ability to make the composed ER Chief laugh so hard she'd snort soda up her nose.

"Oh, I don't know. She has the look. And that voice! Kind of butch, if you ask me."

"Maybe," Sandy sighed offhandedly, looking at the closed door to Kerry's room. She wished she knew something more.

She was nibbling on some M&Ms when Romano strode down the hall a few minutes later, Abby following close on his heels. Without a word he went into the room. Abby skidded to a halt, hovering near the door to peer in the window.

"Hey, Lockhart," Sandy called.


"Any news?"

"Oh, I'm sorry, yeah. She woke up. I think she might be asleep again, but she was talking a little. It's a good sign."

Sandy exhaled loudly. "Thank god. I was worried."

"I know. Me too." She went back to looking in the window, a frown lining her forehead.

"Is there something wrong?"

"Nooo," Abby said, "I'm just making sure nobody starts a fight or anything."

"A fight?"

"Romano and Kim don't exactly get along."

Sandy knew the story of what happened with Kim and Romano, but she'd only found out about it after they broke up. It was then that Sandy realized how little she knew about Kerry, how closed off and isolated she was. "Did Kerry ask to see her?"

Abby turned back and looked apologetic. "Yeah, she did. She's glad you're here though."


The nurse came over to sit next to Sandy, nearly falling into the chair. "God, I'm tired." She closed her eyes. "This has been a shitty day."

"I know. I'll bet Kerry was glad to see you though."

Abby snorted. "I don't think she even knew who I was at first. She's on some heavy meds."

Romano emerged unscathed from the room. "Hey, Crabby, get the ladies some more water. They're running low. I think Legaspi drank it all."

Sandy stood. "Is she going to be okay?"

Romano glanced at the woman and glared at her. "Are all of Weaver's exes here today?"

The firefighter was sick of waiting for information and being mistreated by someone she hardly knew. "Listen, asshole, just tell me what's up."

"Ooh, a feisty one, huh. She'll be fine. She's a fighter." He glanced pointedly at Abby. "I'll need to keep her in the ICU at least another three days. Then we'll see about moving her. But everything looks good. She'll be more alert in a few hours. I expect you to spread the word downstairs. I'm tired of fielding calls from the ER for a status report. Take care of it, okay?"


"I'll be back in a few hours. Make sure Legaspi doesn't keep her awake." He left without a goodbye or even a smile. Sandy knew how hard it was for Kerry to deal with him, and now she had a better understanding of why.

"What a little prick."

Abby laughed. "Yep. Hey, I need to do a couple of things. Are you staying?"

Sandy shook her head. "I gotta get to the station. I've got people covering me now, so I have to get in there before I get my ass kicked. I'll come back, maybe tomorrow morning."

"Okay. I'll tell her."

"Great. See you guys," Sandy said, and Ramon and Pierre gave a wave of the Snickers wrapper.

"Thanks honey!"

Carter approached the door with some trepidation. He was fine treating patients in the ER, but he hated visiting anyone in other parts of the hospital. Too much time spent in them himself.

To his surprise, he spotted a familiar blonde head by the bed when he peeked in the window. He knocked once, then opened the door just wide enough to stick his head in. "Hi."

Kim smiled. "Carter, hi." She looked down at Kerry, who nodded almost imperceptibly. "Come in. She's up."

"Hey. You look good."

"Funny, John," Kerry said, her voice still sandpapery, but functioning.

"No, I mean it. Last time I saw you, it... it wasn't good. This is much better." He sat at the foot of the bed and rested a hand on Kerry's shin. "I can't tell you how glad I am you're still with us."

Kerry managed a smile. "Me too."

Kim nodded to herself as her fingers twined in the ends of Kerry's hair. He was pretty shocked to see her here, but pleased. Immensely pleased. He wasn't quite aware of the exact history between these two, but there was a connection that he hadn't realized.

He bit the bullet. "I didn't know you were in town, Kim."

"Yeah, I came back a while ago, maybe four or five months. I missed Chicago. San Francisco was nice, but it wasn't home."

"Yeah, I can understand that. It's great to see you."

"Thanks John. You too."

Kim opened her mouth, then hesitated. After a moment, she said, "Luka said you worked on Mark."

Suddenly Carter didn't want to see Kerry's eyes, feel her loss. He'd been in a similar position once, when a student named Lucy hadn't made it through the night, and he'd survived. "Yeah, I did. I couldn't..." He didn't want to say how he couldn't work on Kerry, that she was too much like family. Everything was close to the surface, and the last thing he wanted to do was break down in front of these two. "They brought Mark in first, and I was there, so I ran it."

"I thought so," Kim responded, and when he looked into her eyes, he was certain she knew the truth.

He suddenly felt out of place, watching the women together. One so small and pale, obviously hurting, but leaning towards the other, who towered above her protectively. Gently he rubbed the blanket covering Kerry's leg for a moment and stood. "I won't stay. I just wanted to see for myself that you were awake. I'll probably get thrown out anyway, you're only supposed to have one visitor at a time."

"You can always say you were checking up on her in a professional capacity, *Dr.* Carter," Kim offered thoughtfully, a small smirk on her face.

Carter smiled. "True, that's true. Next time, I will." He looked down at Kerry and bobbed his head once. "Get well, you hear?"

"I will. See you," Kerry said quietly. "Thanks, John, for coming."

"I couldn't stay away. Kim, see you later."


He left the room feeling better than he had all day.

Kerry opened her eyes, greeted by the blank hospital ceiling once again. Her stomach hurt, her muscles ached, and her lips were chapped. But her right hand was warm and comfortable, resting on the back of Kim's head. Slowly she raked her short nails along Kim's scalp, deliberately waking her up. Her back would be sore from hunching over like that; Kerry wanted to send her home to get some rest.

She made a fist and softly pulled at the blonde roots, grinning when rewarded with a groan of pleasure. Some things didn't change. Kim shifted under her fingers, turning her face toward Kerry's.

"Hmmm." She yawned and rolled her neck, pushing into Kerry's small hand like a cat. When her eyes opened, she jerked up and out of her grasp. "Huh?"

"Hi. You should go home and sleep."

Kim stared at her as though she were speaking a foreign language. "Sleep? I was sleeping."

"Your neck is going to be sore, and I can't imagine how your back will feel after too long hunched over like that."

Mouth open, Kim blinked twice. "Um, do you want me to go?"

That was a good question. "You don't have to stay with me every second, Kim."

"That doesn't really answer my question, does it."

Kerry was too tired to make a good argument. "Kim. You're here. I am so glad you are, believe me. But I haven't seen you, or heard a word for months. Why did you come?"

Kim's mouth twitched. "I, I... Luka called me, and I just... I don't know. Had to be here. Is that okay?"

Smiling, Kerry longed to reach up and touch Kim's cheek. "Yeah," she breathed. "It's okay."

"I don't want to go home and sleep." Kim took Kerry's fingers between her palms and kissed them. "I want to stay with you." She closed her eyes and gripped Kerry's hand tightly. "I don't know what's coming, but I want to be here for it, whatever it may be. That must sound strange, huh."

A fresh set of tears slid down Kerry's cheeks. She was overwhelmed, grateful, terrified. "Yesterday it would have sounded strange. Today it sounds perfect."

A smile burst across Kim's face, and she sobbed once, then caught her breath. "Okay. Okay. There are things we should probably talk about, but we can save them for later."

"Later. Yeah." Kerry's face suddenly blanched and inhaled sharply. "George! Oh my god, you have to have someone go see George!"

Kim was lost, completely. But whomever this person was had to be pretty important to get Kerry so riled. "Kerry, calm down." Kerry squinted as she breathed through the pain. "Tell me who George is and I'll go talk to him."

Kerry shook her head. "He needs to be fed and walked. Oh my god, he's probably so scared." Tears began to stream down her face. "I can't believe I didn't remember," she groaned.

Fed and walked, okay. This was another surprise, since George sounded suspiciously like a dog. She'd never pegged Kerry for a dog person. In fact, she wasn't a big fan of the animals in the first place. "George is your dog?"

"Please, have someone go to the house and take care of him. Please, Kim." Kerry was nearly shaking in desperation.

"Okay, okay, I will. Just calm down. I'm sure he's fine. You haven't even been gone a day. Don't worry about it. I'll find someone as soon as I go downstairs. You think he can make it another few minutes?"

"Soon, Kim. I'm worried about him. He needs me."

The simplicity of Kerry's devotion struck Kim at her core. "I swear, I'll make sure he's taken care of, okay? Just let me stay with you a few more minutes. I want to get you calmed down."

Kerry took a deep breath, her eyes closing as she nodded her assent. Kim took a tissue and wiped her nose and her wayward tears. "What can I do for you, Kerry? How can I make you feel better?" Kim was desperate, hoping she could do something, anything to take away the pain.

Kerry cleared her throat. "Can you get me some more water?"

"Sure, here." Kim leaned over and poured a glass, dropping in one of the straws Abby had brought around earlier. She tried to lighten the conversation. "We have bendy straws now."

"Oh, goodie," Kerry deadpanned.

Kim held the glass as she leaned forward a few inches. "Drink up. Not too much at once, though."

Kerry did as she was told, her eyes pinned to Kim's the whole time. "Thanks." Licking her lips, she leaned back against the pillows. "I forgot to tell you I have a dog."

Smiling, Kim responded, "I gathered that."

"I don't know what happened. He sort of came home with me and never left."

Kim pursed her lips, trying to grasp the situation. "You were walking along and there he was?" Absently she rubbed Kerry's arm, noticing she was beginning to relax again.

"His owner died at the hospital, and he started following me around. Had a horrible name, which I immediately changed."

"From what?"


Kim guffawed. "And you rechristened him George?"

Kerry grinned sleepily. "He just looks like a George. Plus Georgie has two syllables and an 'ie' sound at the end, like Stinky, so he would answer to it. You could call it a practical choice."

"And you just took him home?"

"Well he was standing there and looked so sad and lonely that I couldn't say no."

Yet another moment in which Kerry's softer side revealed itself. She was sorry she missed it, like she was sorry she'd missed everything else that went on in the past year. "Aw, I can't wait to meet him." Kim kissed Kerry's knuckle.

At the touch, Kerry shifted in her bed. "God, Kim, everything hurts. My stomach, my arms, my eyelids. My lips feel cracked. I'm tired."

Kim lifted an eyebrow and got up from her seat. She rifled through a bag she'd stashed under the bed and proudly produced a small, round container. Kerry nearly gasped in relief; Blistex. "Oh my god," she said.

"Pucker up, Ker." Slowly Kim rubbed a finger in the container, then traced Kerry's lips, coating them with the cool, soft conditioner. Then she did the same with her own lips, leaving them shiny and sleek. Kerry gazed sweetly at Kim, and a thought that had just passed through her mind became reality. Kim bent and touched her mouth to Kerry's, whisper soft and smooth.

It was only a moment, but it was enough.

"I'll put it here in case you want some more later," Kim said, placing the lip balm on the table.

"Okay," Kerry managed, her voice thick with emotion.

Kim settled back into her seat by the bed with a satisfied smile on her face. Gently she lifted Kerry's hand and began to massage it, paying special attention to the pads of her fingers.

"Ooh, that feels nice." The pain seemed to lessen for a moment when she had something else to focus on. "Don't forget about George."

"Not a chance. Close your eyes, sweetie. Go to sleep."

"Okay." As soon as they drifted shut, Kerry's eyes popped open. "You'll be here later, won't you?"

"Yes, I'll be here. Rest."

Michael walked down the hall slowly, nervous about going in.

He hadn't slept. Every time he closed his eyes he saw her blood on his hands, felt her small body in his grip as he lifted her onto the gurney. His eyes were so dry it was painful to blink; he'd thoughtlessly left his glasses at home and ended up having to rewet his contacts about once an hour to keep his lids from welding shut.

She was in there. He rested his hand on the door and dropped his head for a moment, gathering his courage. There it was again, the sight of her warm blood gushing out over his fingers. She'd whimpered, groaned. Looked up at him. "Michael," she'd said, "get some gloves on." He'd done as he was told, as always.

He pushed the door open.

Kerry's head swiveled over, and she smiled. She looked pretty good for someone who'd lost half the blood in her body the night before. "Michael. Come in."

He stepped into the room, and his eyes were immediately drawn to the lanky blonde who stood to greet him. Her smile was blinding, and Michael felt his heart leap in his chest at her beauty. "Hi," she said, holding out her hand. "I'm Kim."

"Michael Gallant."

"Ah, Kerry's told me about you. Sit down. I'll leave you two alone. I need to make a phone call anyway." She turned back to Kerry and leaned down to brush a hand across her brow. "Be right back."

"Thanks, Kim."

Kim touched Michael's shoulder as she passed, then she was gone, leaving a trail of sweet smelling perfume in her wake.

"Wow," slipped out of Michael's mouth before he had a chance to censor himself.

To his surprise, Kerry just laughed softly. She watched him closely as he sat. "How are you, Michael?"

He looked at his hands as they twisted in his lap. "Terrible." His voice cracked. "How are you?"

"I'm alive. That's pretty good, considering." He must have grimaced, because she added to her statement quickly. "I'm okay, really. It hurts. But there doesn't seem to be any infection so far."

He watched as she took a slow breath, tilting her head to the side till her neck cracked. She sighed with relief. "You were there. I remember your hands." She closed her eyes. "God, it burned." Kerry's jaw clenched with the memory, and Michael was right back in it, yelling to Luka that she was losing too much blood, she needed a transfusion now, right now. "But you held it together. You saved my life."

Michael shook his head. "I hardly knew what I was doing."

"But you did it, Michael." She paused, and he thought he saw tears cloud her grey eyes. "Thank you. I'll never be able to thank you enough."

For some reason he was surprised at the gratitude in her voice. "I had to. You're my teacher," he said.

"What?" she said.

He shook his head again, unable to put into words what he'd felt as she lay there, dying. He'd been terrified to lose her. Dr. Weaver's importance in his life had grown exponentially in the past months, since that first day when she'd taken him into the field. It was hero worship, his mind told him, but she'd taught him more in four months than all his professors had in four years.

"Did you ever have a teacher who was important to you?" he asked finally. "Who answered all your questions and came back at you with more, and showed you that you could do things you never would have believed?"

Kerry's nostrils flared, but no words came. She nodded.

"That's who you are. My teacher." He frowned. "That sounds stupid--"

"No, Michael. It doesn't sound stupid at all." She sniffled, then let out a breath. "I'm honored."

He smiled shyly. "Anyway, I'm glad you'll be okay." His eyes drifted around the room to all the flower arrangements and occasional stuffed animal that littered the small night tables and vacant bed in the room. "Nice flowers. Who are the roses from?"

Kerry rubbed her lips together. "Kim."

Michael's eyebrows drew together. "Really?"

Slowly she answered, "Yes, really. She's," Kerry hesitated, flustered. He suddenly realized she must be Dr. Weaver's new girlfriend. He was happy she'd found someone to be with, after getting forced out of the closet a while back. "She's, um..."

"It's okay, you don't have to say."

"No," Kerry said. "It's not that. We were apart for a long time, but I think that might be over now." She blew a lungful of air between her lips. "I don't know." She thought for a moment, then grinned. "Ask Randi for the whole story. I'm sure she'll tell it with a flourish I don't think I can muster right now."

Michael laughed. "Okay, I will. Get some sleep, okay? And get better."

"I will Michael. Thanks for coming to see me."

"You're welcome. I'll visit soon."

"Okay." He was tempted to reach down and hug her, but instead just grasped her hand. She squeezed it, and they smiled. "Bye."


When the door closed, he rubbed his eyes, exhaustion sweeping over him. He had to take his contacts out and get some rest. Something told him he might actually get to sleep this time.

Randi jerked awake at the sound of the lounge door getting shoved so hard it practically came off the hinge.

"Randi!" the specter shouted, and Randi squinted in the semi-darkness at the towering figure above her.

"What!" she shouted, irritated that she'd been woken out of the first sleep she'd had in what felt like ages. "Jesus, I was sleeping."

The form swooped down and captured her in a bear hug strong enough to steal her breath for a moment. "Bless you, Randi," a soft, decidedly female voice whispered. Then she was being rocked in a warm embrace as this mysterious person sniffled in her ear. Without really thinking about it, Randi accepted the arms around her; it felt nice, comforting. She needed a hug.

She felt tears on her neck and was alarmed. "Hey, hey, don't cry now. What's wrong?" Slowly she pulled back and peered into the darkness, recognizing the soft features of the woman before her. "Dr. Kim? I mean Dr. Legaspi?" She'd heard the former psych resident had come running after the shooting, but she hadn't seen her yet.

"You saved her, Randi."

Weaver. She was talking about Weaver. "No, Dr. K, you've got it wrong. I didn't do anything."

"Luka saw you help take down the shooter. You didn't even think about yourself, did you."

Words were trapped in Randi's throat as she tried to formulate a response. "I didn't do anything," she repeated.

"No, Randi. You did. The shooter only got three rounds off. His gun held fifteen. She could be dead, so could a dozen more people. I will never, ever be able to thank you for saving her."

Randi's head dropped, eyes swimming. "Dr. Green," she said.

"Sweetheart, you know there was nothing you could have done to save him."

"I guess," she mumbled. "I wish..." she trailed off, unable to put it into words.

"Me too, Randi. But I'm grateful to you. Endlessly."

Randi shrugged. "Thanks," she said, wiping stray tears away.

"And you broke his nose," Kim said.

Randi huffed. "I wish I'd broken his whole head." Rage had taken over for those few seconds after the gun was wrenched away from the man's hand. She had aimed an elbow for his nose and thrust, relishing the crunch of cartilage she heard even above the screams. She'd hit him again, then was pulled away by someone she couldn't see. She'd kicked and screamed trying to get back at him, but was dragged down the hall and shoved into a corner. When she'd turned around to get back, Malik grabbed her shoulders and shook her. 'You got him,' he shouted over the din. 'Stay here. I mean it.' She'd sobbed, bursting into tears when she saw that his scrubs were spattered with blood.

"Come here," Kim crooned, and Randi fell against her, holding tight.


"Hi, Kerry."

God, Elizabeth thought, she looks like I feel. Miserable, injured, bloodless.

"Sit down, please. You look tired."

She nodded, swallowing down the lump in her throat. Seeing her wasn't as hard as she thought it would be. Almost like she needed this, to see someone who survived. Someone who lived, even though he hadn't.

Elizabeth realized she hadn't spoken for a while, and took Kerry's hand. "Sorry," she said, looking down for a moment, "I must have blanked out there. It's happened a lot today. Um, how are you feeling?"

Kerry smiled a little. "Sore, but it's not bad. I'll be out of ICU day after tomorrow. Unless Romano sees fit to torture me some more." She gripped her hand more tightly and said, "Elizabeth, I am so sorry. I wish..." She trailed off, and her breath started to hitch in her throat. The look of fear that flashed across her eyes shocked Elizabeth, especially when it didn't go away. The pale color in her face drained to green, and she jerked back against the bed.

"Kerry? Kerry?" Elizabeth stood and leaned over, instinct kicking in. She checked her pupils while taking a pulse with one hand. "Breathe, Kerry. You have to calm down." The frail body shook, and Elizabeth heard the beeping of the monitors picking up speed. "Come on, Kerry, look at me. You're fine, you are absolutely fine." She rested a hand on her cold cheek, watching as Kerry's eyes darted back and forth wildly, then finally came to a rest when fastening upon Elizabeth's own eyes. Elizabeth was relieved; the episode could have been much worse. She stroked her face gently, calming. Kerry's eyes scrunched up like a child's, and she burst into tears. Elizabeth sat on the bed and bent down to enfold her as softly as she could in her arms. She had no choice; Kerry needed someone, and when Elizabeth felt the warm, powdered smell of Kerry's skin, she realized she needed someone too. Silent tears flooded her eyes, and she managed to shift her weight off the fragile form so she wouldn't crush her.

She couldn't stop the tears. In the part of her mind that watched this scene from a distance, it surprised Elizabeth that Kerry was the one who finally drew her heartbreak to the surface. Her mind had been occupied with thinking of the children, dealing with police, the mortuary, the lawyers.

She hiccupped, and suddenly noticed she'd made a mess of the shoulder of Kerry's gown. She pulled back and wiped her nose ungracefully with her hand. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," she started.

Kerry stopped the apology with a look. "Don't be. Just come here, one more minute, okay?"

Elizabeth took her place again, and Kerry held her, they held each other, till the sun went down and they were left in darkness.

Luka trolled the halls, searching for Elizabeth. He was about five minutes away from really worrying over her whereabouts. Abby was with Ella, who had calmed down, but she'd spent an hour screaming her head off in curtain three while Jerry paged Elizabeth. They'd checked the roof, Magoo's, Romano's lair, the surgical and emergency departments. Nothing. Two days had passed since Mark's death, and Luka was beginning to think the truth was setting in.

He was out of ideas, but decided to have a look in on Kerry before heading back down to the ER. When he peeked in the door, it was dim, but he could make out another figure sitting in a chair, hunched over Kerry's bed. He opened the door wider to let more light in, and saw object of his previously fruitless search. Although she looked extremely uncomfortable, the important fact was she was asleep. A movement caught his eye; Kerry motioned for him to enter the room.

Quietly he crept closer, navigating by the diffuse gray light coming in the window. He came to the other side of the bed and knelt carefully, his head very close to Kerry's.

"Hi," he whispered. "I was looking for her."

She nodded. "She was tired. I want to let her sleep."

"Okay." He reached out to stroke Kerry's forehead. "No fever, very good. How are you feeling?"

"Not too bad. I just got another dose of meds, I think. It helps."


"Where's Kim?"

Luka was impressed she'd gone almost an entire minute without asking for her. "She went to introduce herself to George."

Kerry grinned. "Oh god. What I wouldn't give to be a fly on my own wall."

"Think it will go well?"

"I hope so. I feel like they might be spending a lot of time together soon."

Luka bobbed his head, smiling. He touched Kerry's forehead again, and said a silent prayer to make her well. With a stifled grunt he rose to his feet, shaking out his leg to loosen his joints. "I am getting old," he mumbled.

Kerry's lips curved. "Getting old isn't so bad," she said softly, and Luka pursed his lips.

"You're right." He bent and kissed her cheek. "See you soon, Kerry."


Kim stared impatiently out the window, listening for any sign of a ruckus outside the door. Kerry's private room was virtually silent except for Kim's restless shifting in her chair. She tried to be more quiet, hoping Kerry would continue dozing until their visitors arrived.

She peered at Kerry's face, calm in sleep, and wondered how long her depression would last, how deeply it would take root. She'd been in a private room and out of the ICU for four days now, but the week spent stuck in the hospital was getting her down. She'd missed Mark's funeral the day before, and Kim could practically see the gray cloud settling in over their heads.

Kerry was healing well, but Romano wanted her to stay one more day, and it was frustrating as hell to the patient. After the initial euphoria of surviving her injury wore off, she began to have clearer memories of the shooting, and of its aftermath. Kim was helpless as she watched her spirits droop day by day, and she hoped the idea she'd had to brighten her up would arrive shortly.

Kim heard a small gasp, and Kerry's eyes flew open. Fear creased her brow, only to be replaced by disappointment when she recognized her surroundings. "Damn," she muttered.

"Hey, bad dream?" Kim asked, heading back to her seat by the bed.

"No," Kerry answered quietly. She turned her head away and rubbed her eyes with her fingers. "I can't remember."

Kim clamped down on the urge to pry. Kerry was not a patient, she reminded herself, she was the love of her life. "Okay. Maybe you'll remember later and can tell me about it."

Kerry huffed once, a familiar sound of subtle irritation. "Sure." She closed her eyes again, sighing. "Is it tomorrow yet?"


"Christ, this day is never going to end. I'm leaving at 6AM tomorrow. On the dot."

Kim opened her mouth to argue, then smartly closed it. No need to inspire any unnecessary wrath. She'd done enough of that the past few days, forcing Kerry to use the wheelchair to get around, helping her to the bathroom, feeding her when she was too weak. Kerry was miserable as a patient, no surprise there. But her sadness pierced Kim's heart, and she'd searched her brain for something to perk her up. At that moment, the most important player in her scheme yelped outside the door.

"What was that? Did you hear that?" Kerry demanded.

"What?" Kim asked. She heard scratching at the door, and made out that odd dog language that occasionally sounded like real speech.

Kim heard more than one set of footsteps of the human variety thundering closer outside the door, and Kerry called, "George?"

The dog howled once, and Kim was sure she heard Randi snap, 'quiet!' The door flew open, and George bounded through to Kerry's side, standing on his hind legs against the bed. Immediately Kerry patted the bed, saying, "Come on boy, come up here." He turned around to get some momentum, then leapt up onto the foot of the bed. Carefully he approached Kerry, and Kim marveled at the change in his demeanor from the excitable, feisty pooch she'd met a few days before. He was slow to approach Kerry, clearly sensing that she was injured. Kerry lovingly held out a hand and drew him to her, adjusting her IV so she could wrap both arms around her dog. George yelped and whined in his mistress's arms, and Kerry couldn't seem to speak. Kim leaned in and scratched his head as he licked Kerry's face.

Randi and Carter quickly shut the door, momentarily transfixed by the scene. "We took the stairs but as soon as we opened the door to this floor he took off," Randi said. "He runs pretty fast for such a scrawny little thing."

Oblivious, Kerry seemed to be whispering to George under her breath, and he was paying very close attention and offering his paw every once in a while.

Carter sidled up to the bedside. "George seemed to know exactly where to go. He beat us here, Dr. Weaver."

"Really," was all Kerry said.

"Yeah. He was going crazy in the car. I think he must have understood when we told him we were bringing him over to see you."

"Is that right, George? Did you know you were coming here? I bet you did," Kerry told him, still rubbing his ears as he whined softly. "I missed you so much, boy."

Kim was embarrassed to feel tears prick the backs of her eyes at the expression on Kerry's face, and she blinked the wetness away quickly. "He missed you too. He told me so every time I visited."

Kerry laughed, to Kim's delight. She looked up at Kim, a familiar light shining through. "Did you hold many interesting conversations?"

"Oh yes," Kim answered as she sat next to Kerry and put an arm around her. "George told me all sorts of secrets about you. And we watched his favorite Animal Planet shows together."

"I'm glad he had someone to take such good care of him then." She kissed George, and said, "John, Randi, thank you so much for bringing him. I just can't tell you how nice it is to have him here." George barked, and Kerry shushed him sweetly. Kim wondered what Romano would do if he walked in to see a dog on Kerry's bed.

"How you doing, Doc?" Randi asked.

Kerry tipped her head to the side, thinking. "I'm okay. Sometimes. I'm ready to get the hell out of here, honestly."

"I'm sure. You look good though. Really good." Kim watched the emotions skitter across Randi's face. The clerk had come by a couple of times to check in, but had never stayed for very long. She looked a little nervous and unsure of herself at the moment.

Kerry gazed at her. "Thanks, Randi." She took a breath. "I understand I have you to thank for saving my life."

Carter smiled and Randi seemed to flinch at the statement. Immediately she was shaking her head. "No, no, I didn't do anything."

"Stop that, Randi. I should have thanked you before." Kerry held out her free hand. "Come here." Randi moved closer and tentatively took the hand offered. "Thank you. For everything."

"Yeah, sure." Randi's head bobbed uncertainly, looking alternately at the floor or the dog. "It was nothing."

"Hey," Kerry said. Finally Randi looked at her. "I owe you."

"No, you don't." Randi frowned, sniffling. "But you're welcome."

Kerry grinned. "And thanks for bringing my dog. You too, John. How are you?"

Kim breathed easier as Kerry relaxed against her arm, chatting and catching up with her friends. George stretched out to rest his head on Kerry's other shoulder, and Kim rubbed his jaw. This was only the first of many hurdles, and though they were sure to encounter many more, they'd jumped this one. With a little help.

Kerry sat quietly, swinging her legs over the edge of the bed. Slowly Kim helped her into the gray tee shirt, doing her best to easing her arms through the holes without aggravating her stitches.

"You okay?" Kim asked softly, and Kerry peered up at her as she finished smoothing the shirt down. The concern in Kim's voice, coupled with the way she was looking at her, melted any residual irritation Kerry felt at having to stay in the hospital for a few extra hours that morning.

"I'm fine," she answered, and was surprised at the note of desire that edged the words. Kim looked surprised too, her eyebrows furrowing. "Come here for a sec," Kerry murmured. "I want to kiss you."

Kim lowered her face and Kerry pressed her lips to a slick mouth, sighing in satisfaction at the tender touch. She licked Kim's teeth, finding her way inside as she felt one large hand angling her head for a better position. Kerry slid her hands down from Kim's waist to her rear, kneading and caressing. At Kim's whimper, she drew one hand around to press against the juncture of Kim's legs.

In an instant Kim sprung back, holding her arms out in front of her. "Stop, Ker."

Kim's chest heaved, and Kerry's heart pounded in response to the vision before her. "Why," she breathed. "I just wanted a kiss."

"Oh, no you don't," Kim laughed. "We are not doing this here. You are leaving the hospital, and you are not ready for, um, anything that might, uh, come of this."

Lazily, Kerry smiled. "I might not be, but I think you are," she offered.

Kim colored, her ears flaming to red in a few short seconds. Her mouth worked for a moment, trying to form words. "I, I, you are, just, stop it!" She laughed again, that familiar flustered laugh Kerry had so longed to hear. "No. We wait."

"Not for long. Okay?"

Kim nodded, licking her lips and looking wary. "Okay."

Kerry held out a hand. "Good. Now come back here."

Kim opened her mouth, undoubtedly to argue the point, when the door swung open. Abby had George on a leash, and the dog scampered over to hop up on his hind legs to lean on Kerry.

"Hi, are you almost ready? I have a chair for you."

"Yeah, almost," Kerry said. She eyed Kim, who looked immensely relieved. "We were just finishing up."

"Ok-ay," Abby said, clearly wondering what she'd interrupted. "Do you two need a few minutes?"

"No," Kim blurted. She grabbed Kerry's duffel bag, as well as a flower arrangement with some slightly droopy helium balloons. "You ready to skidaddle, Dr. Weaver?"

"Absolutely." Kerry slid down the bedside to her feet, grabbing her crutch from its perch against the nightstand.

"Here, here," Abby said, hurrying over with the wheelchair.

Kerry scoffed at the idea of the chair, but one look from Kim had her seated in a matter of moments. There were some battles she was destined to lose, so she'd have to choose wisely. Plus, she wanted some leverage for when they arrived home. She had every intention of at least getting a make out session before the day was through. "C'mere boy," Kerry called, and George hopped up on her lap, panting happily. "I don't care if Robert sees him, I've got better things to worry about."

"All right then, let's go." Kim hoisted the bag higher on her shoulder.

In the elevator, Kerry started to squirm in her chair. She hadn't been downstairs since the shooting, and wasn't sure how she'd feel about being there again. But the doors opened, and when the trio spilled out, Kerry felt okay. Especially when she spotted a large group of people clustered by the admit desk. A flash went off, then another, as Kerry took in the fact that her staff had thrown together a little going away party for her.

Jerry held up a platter. "We got you a cake." Kerry read the words 'Get Well Chief', and noticed that the 'i' and 'e' were blended together. "Uh, the chef had some trouble with the spelling."

Kerry gave him a knowing grin. "Uh-huh, sure. Well, cut the damn thing, I want to get out of here!" George barked in agreement.

"Is that a dog I hear?" came a voice from behind them.

Kim muttered "shit" under her breath.

Romano appeared next to Kerry. "And who is this ugly mutt?"

'I'd like to drop kick you across this room,' flashed through Kerry's mind, but she kept her mouth shut. Choosing her battles was a bitch. "His name is George, and don't worry, we'll be leaving shortly."

Kerry was astonished when George offered his paw to Robert, who responded with a very warm-hearted hand-paw shake. "How are you boy? Did you enjoy your stay here last night?" At the look on Kerry's face, Robert smirked. "You didn't really think you could get a dog in here without my knowing? Come on, Kerry, you're slipping." One more pat on the head for George later, Robert strode off. "Hurry the hell up and heal, Weaver. I don't want this place understaffed any longer than necessary."

Kim stared. "I thought his heart was two sizes too small."

"Even the Grinch had a dog, sweetie." George turned and licked Kerry's face. "Don't get too friendly with him, Georgie. He can turn on a dime."

Jerry came forward and handed Kerry a piece of cake with a grin. "Here you go Dr. Weaver. I hope you feel better soon."

"Thank you, Jerry. Enjoy your Weaverless days while you can." At Jerry's frozen look, Kerry added a smile to temper her remark. "I'm just kidding, Jerry. What happened to your sense of humor?"

Jerry did his best uncomfortable imitation of a laugh and bolted as soon as he could. Kim nudged her shoulder. "Why do you pick on him?"

Kerry lifted a small forkful of marble cake and fudgy icing into her mouth. "He's an easy target, I can't help myself."

"He's better than Frank was."

"Absolutely. Is there any milk?"

"I'll check the fridge. Be right back."

Kerry called after her, "Look for some Rice Dream on the door."

Well-wishers quickly filled the gap Kim left, and Kerry felt overwhelmed and a little uncomfortable at the attention. She took a few gentle pats on the back and heard many words of encouragement for her recovery. After a few minutes, Luka seemed to recognize her uneasiness and began to herd the group back to the desk. Kerry nodded at him gratefully, and he winked in return.

Carter approached with obvious enjoyment as he wolfed down some cake. "How're you feeling?"

She opened her mouth to answer, but instead addressed George as he tried to lick at her plate. "No, George, you'll get sick. Lie down." He followed her orders and lay down on her lap, paws hanging over her knees. Kerry decided to get him a nice little treat when they got home since he'd been so good. "I'm okay, Carter."

"How's the pain been?"

Smiling, Kerry answered, "Manageable. Thank you for asking."

"Sleeping okay?"

Kerry was touched by his concern, but she didn't want him to worry about her. "Carter, I've dealt with PTSD before. I'll be talking to someone next week." She cocked her head. "Sometimes having a psychiatrist around all the time is a pain in the ass, but I think I'll survive."

Carter frowned. "You won't be talking to her..." He bobbed his head in the direction Kim had gone, then trailed off.

"No, Carter. I've gotten a good recommendation though. Have no fear, I'll be back to my nasty self in no time."

Carter leaned down and kissed the top of her head. "I can't wait," he whispered in her ear.

Kerry felt the tears that she'd kept back for a while rise up again. She lifted a free hand and stroked John's face. "Thanks."

"Ahem, what's going on here? Are you making a pass at my woman?" a stern voice demanded.

Carter looked up behind Kerry and grinned. "Can't blame a guy for trying," he teased.

"Oh, stop," Kerry said. "Scoot. Go take Abby a piece of cake. She looks lonely."

He chuckled and subtly glanced over at the woman in question. Rubbing his chin, he said, mostly to himself, "Good idea." Turning back to Kerry, he said, "I'll call you, see how you're doing."

"Thanks, John. Hold down the fort, okay?"

"You got it."

A glass of milk appeared over Kerry's shoulder. "Here you go."

"Thank you, sweetie." Kerry looked down at the cake in one hand and the milk in the other. "Hold my cake?"

"Of course. But only if I can have some."

"Sure. I'm not really hungry, but they got the cake for me, I'd feel bad not eating it."

Kim felt Kerry's forehead. "You feel okay, honey?"

Kerry nodded. "Just tired." She didn't mention the ache in her shoulders, but Kim must have sensed it because she felt a warm hand start to knead at her neck. A small groan left Kerry's throat and her head dropped forward.

"You want to just go?"

Kerry bobbed her head.

"Let's take some cake home. Maybe you'll want it later."

Lifting her head, Kerry answered, "Okay."

"I'll give you a massage, anyplace that doesn't hurt. How does that sound?"

Kerry swallowed the lump forming in her throat. "Good."

"Right. Back in a sec, don't go anywhere, okay?"

"'Kay." Kerry's eyes followed Kim to the desk and watched as she chopped almost half of what was left of the cake with a huge plastic tupperware knife. Kim procured the empty cake box and gleefully slid her treasure into it, much to Malik's dismay.

"Got it. Let me tuck your stuff under your seat." She handed the cake to Kerry, and she held it over George's actively sniffing nose.

"Don't worry, George, I'll get you something special at home, boy." George laid his head back on Kerry's lap, clearly defeated.

"Okay, let's go. Bye kids. We're leaving," Kim called out to the group still hovering near the admit desk.

Shouts of "Goodbye" and "Get well" followed Kim's announcement and Kerry waved. Randi stepped out from behind the desk and called out, "Come back soon, Dr. Weaver."

Kerry smiled. "I will."

The End

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