DISCLAIMER: I don't own 'em. I just like to let them out to play
once in awhile. It's not like TPTB are putting them to good use.
DISCLAIMER 2: I'm not making any money off of them; this is a labor of love. You know-- the obsessive kind that you're slightly embarrassed to admit to in public.
WARNING 1: Contains high sentiment and some warm, fuzzy Weaver. I know that's not everyone's cup of tea. Hell, it's not really even my cup of tea so go figure. Nevertheless, don't say you weren't warned.
WARNING 2: It's an "Oh god, not another Weaver/Legaspi reunification fic. As if THAT would happen in real life!" Don't say you weren't warned.
WARNING 3: I've worked in every romance movie cliché I could think of so-say it with me now-don't say you weren't warned. Still with me? Anyone? Hellooo?
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Generic Romance Number 3
Part Two--Feigned Indifference
Kerry got to work early the following Monday. She had a lot to do before two o'clock, including, if needed a half shift in the ER. She walked in through the ambulance bay and checked the board to see how things were running. Everything appeared to be under control. `Damn it, why was it that when you needed the distraction of work, everything suddenly got quiet?'
Still, rush hour would soon be underway and that was always good for some excitement. She hadn't even made it to the elevators when an ambulance came roaring up the driveway.
"Multiple car MVA," yelled the charge nurse. Two attendings came running out of the lounge as Kerry went in. She threw her briefcase in her locker, grabbed her lab coat and headed out into the ambulance bay to make herself useful. It was nearly noon before she made it upstairs to her office and she'd only thought of Kim twice. She thought that was a good sign.
John, her very capable assistant, passed her a handful of messages. "The first two you should probably call ASAP, the others can wait. Oh, and Dr. Legaspi stopped by to see you. She didn't want to make an appointment. She said she'd catch you later."
Kerry's breath caught at the implications of that statement. She pushed it from her mind. "Thanks. Give me ten minutes and then bring me last month's departmental budget reports," she said, heading into her office. If the budget couldn't kill her treacherous libido then nothing could.
She skimmed her messages. John was right; most of them could be ignored. He really was a great assistant. She tossed her briefcase into a chair and picked up the phone.
Two hours later, she'd worked her way through one pile of paperwork and was about to tackle another. She briefly wondered just how many forests were destroyed to keep one hospital running. There was a knock at her door and then John stuck his head in.
"Dr. Weaver, your realtor is here."
"Thanks John, show her in."
John ushered Sharon into Kerry's office. "Hi Kerry, ready to go find your dream home?" she said optimistically.
Kerry smiled. It had taken her six months to find her house in Chicago. She wouldn't just settle for anything. "Let's go take a look," she said noncommittally. She grabbed her bag and the women left the inner office.
"John, I'll be back by five. I've got my phone if there's anything emergent."
"Good luck, Dr. Weaver. The housing market around here can be vicious," John warned. It had taken him eight months to find a place he and his boyfriend could afford.
They were halfway to the elevators when Kerry heard someone call her name. It was Kim. `Shit, I'm not ready to talk to her,' Kerry thought with a wince. Still she couldn't pretend she hadn't heard, even though she really wanted to. She turned and waved half heartedly. Sharon broke out in a big grin.
Kim approached them in the hallway. "Hello ladies. That's right; you're going house hunting this afternoon."
Sharon could sense a tension between the two women. "Yeah, I have a few houses to show off. She looked over at Kerry. The woman looked ready to jump out of her skin. "I could go bring the car `round if you two need a moment to talk," she offered. Something had definitely changed since she'd last seen the two women. And that had only been yesterday, she mused. She'd be giving Kim a call as soon as she was done with the good Doctor Weaver.
"No, I don't think there's anything I need to discuss with Kim right now," Kerry said in a rush. "I'd really like to go look at that house."
Kim could certainly take a hint. But she didn't have to like it. "Of course," she said quietly. The twitch of her jaw muscle belied her calm appearance.
"When you do have a moment, Dr. Weaver, I'd like to discuss the performance of one of your ER residents. Dr. Wilson can't seem to distinguish between manic and high. He also seems to have difficulty with homeless patients. I think some sensitivity training or perhaps an additional rotation in psych is in order. But, by all means, we can discuss it later," Kim turned and stormed down the hall.
"Shit!" Kerry said. She watched Kim disappear around the corner.
"Very succinct," Sharon commented. "I'm not sure I've ever seen Kim that mad."
"I seem to have a gift for pissing her off," Kerry said caustically.
It didn't take a degree in psychiatry to tell the redhead wasn't ready to talk about it so Sharon tactfully changed the subject. "Shall we go?"
Kerry fell in love with the first house Sharon showed her. With five bedrooms, it was larger than she was originally looking for but the price was too good to pass up. "It needs a lot of work," Kerry commented.
"Except for the roof, which needs to be completely replaced, I think it's all cosmetic. Even the floors are in good shape they just need to be refinished. But we'll have a thorough inspection done, don't worry. I know this great inspector."
"I'd need to remodel the kitchen. It's too small." Kerry looked around critically. "And the stove hasn't been cleaned in years." She shuddered at the layers of grease and grime.
"A little paint, some new appliances and this place will be great. And I know a great group of lesbian carpenters," Sharon said.
Kerry looked around again. "Do you know a painter?"
`Gotcha!' Sharon smiled a canary eating smile. "Of course I know a painter. And a plumber, a gardener and an electrician if it comes to that." She took Kerry's arm. "Let's go look at the bedrooms. There are two with a connecting door that would be great for Henry's room and maybe a playroom."
Two hours later Sharon dropped Kerry off at the hospital. Even though she immediately loved the first place, Kerry had insisted on seeing the two others on her list. "I'll fax them the offer and get back to you. I think you've made a great choice and the condition of the house works in our favor price wise."
"At least I've done one thing right today, thanks Sharon."
Kerry straightened her shoulders and stiffened her spine as she approached the hospital entry. It was time to talk to Kim. She'd been thinking about her all day as she went from house to house, room to room. She got to her office and dialed Kim's extension. She got her voicemail. Maybe she was conducting a session. Next Kerry tried the desk of the psych ward only to be informed that Dr. Legaspi had gone home for the day.
"I can take a message or if it's an emergency I can let you speak to someone else on staff," the clerk continued. The caller certainly sounded stressed.
"No, no, that's okay. Thank you." Kerry hung up without leaving her name. Kerry tried calling Kim at home. Again no answer. This time she left a message. "Kim, it's Kerry. I'm sorry about this afternoon. I shouldn't have made assumptions. I do think we need to talk." She hesitated before adding, "And I'd prefer not to do it at the hospital for a change. Give me call when you can."
Kerry looked around at the piles of paper on her desk and her appointment schedule and made an executive decision. She was going home early. Since she'd taken over the ER, she usually didn't get out of the hospital until seven or eight. But if she left now she could pick up Henry, hit the market and have time to make her son a nice dinner before his bath and bedtime. She grabbed her briefcase and headed out.
She pulled up in front of Henry's new preschool and saw the kids playing in the enclosed yard. Ms. Edna, their teacher, was watching the small group carefully. Kerry sat in her car for a moment and watched as Henry and another toddler raced over to the small slide. The little girl was afraid but Henry climbed rapidly to the top. He was fearless, with one notable exception. He was just like his mother. Kerry's breath caught with a potent mix of pride and grief. She held her breath until he reached the ground laughing.
Kerry unloaded Henry and a bag of groceries from the car. They entered their apartment and Henry went running for his room to check on his toys while Kerry headed straight for the kitchen. She was greeted by the annoying blink of her answering machine. Not surprisingly there was a message from Kim. She apologized for being snippy at the hospital and asked if it would be okay if she came by later "just to talk."
Henry heard Kim's voice and he yelled, "Kim, Kim!" and ran into the kitchen to find her.
Kerry rolled her eyes. `Great, that's just what I needed.' "Okay Pavlov, the sooner we nip this in the bud, the better." She picked up the phone and dialed Kim's number. She decided not to notice that she'd already memorized Kim's home number.
She got Kim's machine. "Damn it, does no one answer the phone anymore?" She left a message and her home address and said she'd be home most of the evening. That done, Kerry turned to focus on more pleasant things. "What shall we have for dinner?"
Henry voted for hot dogs. It was his new favorite. Kerry nixed that idea but after some discussion they agreed on grilled cheese. It was Henry's second favorite dish. And made with whole grain breads and served with some homemade vegetable soup it wasn't absolutely horrible for him.
Kerry put one of Henry's favorite CDs in the player and handed him a carrot and a wooden spoon so he could "help" cook dinner. She asked Henry about his day while she took a container of soup out of the freezer. She'd started putting up batches of food in her spare time. That way there was always something nutritious available if she didn't have time to start from scratch. She was throwing a few fresh vegetables into the soup when the doorbell rang.
Kerry wasn't entirely surprised to see Kim when she looked through the peephole. She took a moment to collect her thoughts and then opened the door. "Hi, Kim, come on in."
Kim had barely made it through the door when Henry threw himself at her. "Kim, Kim!"
Kim was startled by his exuberance but she recovered quickly and bent down to greet the boy. Henry grabbed her hand and started pulling her into the apartment. He was babbling away but Kim could only understand about every third word. She looked to Kerry for a translation.
"He wants to show you his room," Kerry explained.
Kim laughed. "Oh, okay." She let Henry pull her down the short hallway and into his bedroom. Kerry took advantage of the break to slip into her bedroom and change out of her work clothes. `Into something more comfortable, Weaver?' asked her snide inner voice. She ignored it and pulled on some jeans and a favorite t-shirt. She glanced in Henry's room as she passed. Henry was showing Kim his collection of stuffed animals.
"That'll teach her to show up unannounced," Kerry thought. She headed back to the kitchen to check on dinner.
Half an hour later, dinner was ready but Kim and Henry still hadn't reappeared. Kerry went looking for them. They were still in Henry's room but now they were reading a book. Well Kim was reading and Henry was sitting happily in her lap turning the pages.
"Hey you two, dinner is ready," Kerry said. "Henry, go wash your hands."
Henry leaped up and headed toward the bathroom.
"Kim would you like to stay to dinner?" There was no point in being rude and besides Kerry thought, `it'll soften the rejection.'
"Sure, that'd be great," Kim said with a self satisfied smile. She'd already eaten but Kerry didn't need to know that. Besides, she figured the longer she got to stay, the better her chances of convincing Kerry to see things her way.
"Then go wash your hands," Kerry ordered with a smile.
Henry was standing on a stool in the bathroom. He'd managed to soap up his hands and half the counter. Now he was rinsing and rinsing and rinsing them. Kim joined Henry at the bathroom sink. "Let's not go all OCD, kid." She held his hands still under the water and then she handed him a towel. She washed her hands and then used the towel to mop up the copious amount of water he'd splashed everywhere. "Let's eat," she said when she was done. "Let's eat," Henry repeated after her. They walked down the hall toward the kitchen.
Kim walked into the kitchen and found the table set with three places. Kim lifted Henry into his high chair and Kerry popped a bib around his neck and then handed him a cup of milk.
"Soup and sandwiches?" Kim was surprised. It seemed a little pedestrian for a woman who owned every cookbook known to man.
Kerry glanced over at Henry. "These days simple is better," she remarked dryly. She dipped up some soup for everyone and then set a platter of sandwiches on the table.
Kim practically moaned when she bit into her sandwich. "My god that's good."
"Nine grain bread and smoked gouda," Kerry said with a smirk.
Kim reminded herself never to underestimate Kerry's cooking again. The soup was equally tasty. "How do you find the time to cook," Kim asked. "I barely have time to microwave.
"Once you give up sleep, it's easy," she said.
"Ah, thank god for take out then," Kim said, taking another sip of soup.
Kim wouldn't give up sleep for anything, Kerry remembered. `Well, anything but sex', she amended, blushing slightly. `Don't go there, Weaver.'
By unspoken agreement, they kept dinner conversation light. Kim asked Kerry all about her house hunting trip and Kerry filled her in on the details of the house. Henry did his part. He kept them entertained with songs he was learning in preschool. Kerry saw Kim wince when he started the ABC song for the fourth time.
Kerry laughed and pushed away from the table. "It's time for someone's bath," she said. She looked meaningfully at Henry.
He started chanting, "Bath, bath, bath."
"Kim, are you sure you want to hang around that long to talk?" Kerry asked. "We could go to lunch tomorrow if you'd rather."
"I'm here, you're here, we need to talk."
Kerry picked Henry up out of his chair, "Okay, but this could take awhile," Kerry warned. "Feel free to turn on the TV." She disappeared down the short hallway.
Kim sat there for a moment considering her actions and then she started clearing the table. She put the food away and loaded the dishwasher. `What are you getting yourself into? This all feels so .domestic,' she thought with a wince. `And you don't do domestic, Legaspi.'
In the bathroom, Kerry flipped on the taps and tested the temperature of the water while Henry lined up his bath toys. Then with a practiced motion, Kerry stripped the toddler and deposited him in the warm water and the splashing commenced.
Forty minutes later, Kerry joined Kim the living room. She was carrying a freshly bathed, pajama-clad Henry. His curls were slicked down and he smelled like baby shampoo. He looked almost angelic. Kerry looked like a drowned rat.
"It's story time," Kerry explained. She set Henry down and told him to pick out a book.
Kim watched as he walked over to a bookshelf and searched through the titles. He gave it serious thought, rejecting several until he'd picked just the right ones. He brought them over to the couch where Kim was sitting and handed it to her. "Weed," he commanded.
Kim looked up at Kerry; she was smirking.
"I think he wants you to read it to him," Kerry explained.
Kim cocked her head saucily and patted the couch next to her. "Okay, boy-o, climb up here."
Henry did as directed. He settled against Kim and opened the book.
Kerry looked at the two of them huddled on the sofa and suddenly wanted to cry. `That should be Sandy sitting there,' she thought bitterly. After Henry was born Kerry had begged her to take a desk job with the department. She'd had several opportunities to go into administration. But she'd refused each time, saying she'd rather be dead than work at a desk all day. That she'd died doing what she loved was little consolation. Kerry started to turn away.
"Don't you want to stay for story time?"
"No thanks, I know how it ends," Kerry said with a catch in her voice. "I'm just going to go clean up the bathroom."
Kim stared after her until she felt Henry tug on the book in her hands. "Weed," he commanded, impatiently. She smiled sadly and started the story.
Kim got through all of a Green Eggs and Ham, twice, and half of Harry by the Sea before Henry conked out. Kim knew when he fell asleep because somehow the weight of his body against her side seemed to increase threefold. She slipped her arms around him and tried to pick him up without waking him. She was mostly successful. He whimpered a few times and then went back to sleep.
Kim carried him through the apartment looking for his mother. She found Kerry in his bedroom. She was sitting on his bed holding a large teddy bear dressed as a fireman. She looked like her heart was about to break.
Kerry looked up as Kim entered Henry's bedroom. She scrubbed at her eyes. "I see he didn't last long."
"Nope, I think he must have had a hard day," Kim commented, rubbing his back soothingly.
"I think when you're two and half most days are hard," Kerry said as she stood up and pulled back the covers on his bed. She gently lifted Henry from Kim's arms and slid him under the blanket. She tucked the bear in next to him and kissed him on the forehead. He didn't even open his eyes. After flipping on the nightlight and the baby monitor she backed out of the room, Kim following close behind her.
Kerry went into the kitchen and immediately started fussing with the tea kettle. "Would you like some tea? Or maybe coffee?" she asked, ever the good hostess. She didn't need any caffeine but she needed to do something calming with her hands. Without Henry as a buffer it was time to actually have a substantive conversation and Kerry knew she was about to disappoint Kim. Again. Kerry flipped on the faucet and held the kettle under the cold stream of water.
Kim came up beside her. She took the now full kettle from Kerry's hands and set it carefully on the stove. She leaned back against the counter. "Just tell me, Ker," she said in a soft voice. "How would you feel about dating?"
Kim was so close that Kerry could feel the pull of her body heat. It was like Kim's body had its own gravitational field. She remembered the comfort of those long arms, the skill of those hands, the softness of those broad shoulders. She longed to give herself over to the comfort Kim offered. But she couldn't do it. Not now, maybe not ever.
"I can't date right now," Kerry blurted out as she forced herself away from the blonde. "My life is too complicated."
Kim nodded. "I see," she said noncommittally.
Kerry continued desperately. "Sandy's only been gone a year. I feel like I'm being unfaithful just considering it." She took another step away from Kim. She needed distance. And maybe a cold shower.
"Wouldn't Sandy want you to move forward with your life, be happy?" Kim asked, reasonably.
Kerry thought about that for a moment. Sandy had wanted her to be many things. Until Henry was conceived, Kerry hadn't been sure happy was one of them. Sandy and Kim were alike in many ways. They were both beautiful and charming; people liked them almost immediately. Kerry certainly had. Unfortunately, they were also willing to walk away when things got rough. Kerry wasn't sure she could handle that again and she sure as hell wasn't putting her son through it.
"There's also Henry. He doesn't need anymore upheaval in his life right now."
Kim nodded patiently. She'd considered this argument at length. "That's true. But he also needs a mother who's happy and fulfilled in her own right. And the more stable adult influences in his life, the better, right? That whole village/child thing."
"And then there's work," Kerry added somewhat desperately. "I'm just getting established at the hospital ' Kerry faltered at Kim's look of disbelief.
"Work? Okay, now you're just reaching," Kim said with a chuckle. She wasn't angry, she hadn't expected it to be easy and Kerry hadn't disappointed her. But she wasn't about to give up. She tried another approach.
"Are you saying you're not interested in dating or you're not interested in dating me?" Kim asked. She was the model of cool but firm. She didn't want any more miscommunication; unfortunately, it was the one thing they excelled at. If Kerry needed time, Kim would give her all the time she needed. If Kerry just wasn't interested in her .well she'd cross that bridge if she had to.
Kerry gaped at her. She wasn't prepared for calm acceptance. Hurt or hostility, those she was prepared for. This unexpected display of equanimity was surprising. She looked at Kim waiting calmly and patiently for an answer. "I'm not interested in dating anyone right now," she answered honestly. "I'm just not ready. I may never be ready. And someone would be foolish to wait for me," she said meaningfully.
Kim nodded in apparent agreement. "That's true but friendship is still okay? We can see each other as friends-dinner, movies, things like that."
Kerry felt she like she was being outmaneuvered. "Yes, as long as we're clear it's not dating."
Kim nodded with internal glee. Potayto, potahto and denial's not just a river in Egypt. "Okay, but Kerry " She paused until she was sure she had Kerry's full attention. "As soon as you are ready to date again, you'll let me know, right?" It was both a command and a plea.
Nonplussed, Kerry nodded before she could think the whole thing through. She was a little worried by the predatory gleam in Kim's eye.
Checkmate. "Great," Kim said. She bobbed her head and added, "I'll have that tea now."
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