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
By Punthesilea

Part Four--Hostility and avoidance

Kerry arrived at the hospital bright and early on Monday. She had a lot she needed to do and not enough time in the day to do it. She dropped Henry off at preschool and headed in to her office. A quick call to the psych department revealed one Dr. Legaspi had called in sick. Kerry made a note to call Kim later and check on her then she got down to work. There was one piece of good news. There was an email from the HR department. Dr. Dyson had accepted the position as ER chief. She could start in three weeks.

Kerry crossed that off her list of things to worry about and pulled up her personal calendar. She looked it over carefully. She had no idea when she was going to find time to move into her new house. `Who needs sleep anyway,' she thought grimly. Most of her household stuff was still in storage in Chicago. That would be fairly easy to arrange to move. As for the rest, she still had two months on her apartment lease and a department full of med students and interns that needed her approval for professional advancement. She pushed that thought aside as an unethical use of her authority. She'd only use it as a last resort, she thought with an almost evil grin.

Kerry attacked the stack of paperwork that had been building while she was out of town. She didn't look up until 9 when John came in and brought her a fresh cup of coffee. She stretched for a minute and then picked up the phone. There was no answer at Kim's house so Kerry left a concerned message and immediately got back to work.

She had meetings scheduled for most of the afternoon but she checked her messages in between. Kim never called. This was starting to feel disturbingly familiar. She headed into her second meeting feeling cranky and put upon. She tried not to take it out on the committee but she was only partially successful. By the end of her final meeting she was in full blown bitch mode and everyone else was glad to get out of there alive.

Kerry stormed back to her office to check her messages before heading home. One was from Dr. Dyson, thanking her for the job opportunity. The second message was from Kim explaining that she'd caught some sort of bug over the weekend but she was feeling better and expected to be in the following day. Kerry sighed with relief. Maybe she hadn't totally screwed things up. She'd been honest with Kim from the beginning but she still felt bad about hurting her feelings.

Kim got to work on Tuesday to find a tasteful bouquet of flowers and an envelope on her desk. The flowers were from Kerry and the card was from Henry. Kerry had written get well soon on the card and Henry had colored it for her. He used the most garish colors in the box but she loved it anyway. She hung the card on her bulletin board where she could see it from her desk. The flowers she put on the shelf behind her desk. She didn't want to throw them out but she really didn't want to think about Kerry Weaver for a while. She wasn't covering the ER so she would be safe for a few days. She turned on her computer and pulled up her schedule ready to start the day.

Kerry called Kim around noon to see if she was feeling up to having lunch.

"I can't today, Kerry. I'm swamped from last week. Maybe later in the week," Kim said noncommittally.

"Kim you've been sick, you need to eat," Kerry said in full protective mode. "If you can't leave the office now, I'll have something sent down. You have to take care of yourself." Kerry hung up and called her favorite Chinese delivery.

Kim sighed. Flowers, food, concerned phone calls--she wondered if Kerry could really be that clueless. She pinched the bridge of her nose. Of course she could, this was Kerry Weaver after all. Kim wondered if she should just kiss her in the lounge again. She still had trouble believing she did something so inappropriate. But effective, she reminded herself.

Kim managed to successfully avoid Kerry for the next three days. Then her luck ran out with a vengeance.

Kerry was working a night shift in the ER. She wanted to watch a few of the residents who were up for review. She set up shop at the admit desk. She could work on paperwork and keep an eye on everyone. She looked at Steve, the intake clerk and wondered, not for the first time, what Randi Fronczak was doing these days. Steve was good but he lacked Randi's flair. `Of course, most people lack Randi's flair,' Kerry thought affectionately. Kerry tried not to miss her old staff but sometimes it was hard. She sighed. `At least Kim is here,' she thought. `Not that I've seen her much this week. Or at all,' she realized with a start. She'd talked to her briefly on the phone but they hadn't been able to even get together for lunch.

"Steve, who's on call in psych tonight?" Kerry asked.

"Legaspi's covering for Bradford tonight," the slim clerk answered without looking up from his filing; it was safer that way. Weaver and Legaspi were like oil and water in their approaches to patient care.

"Page her for me, please," Kerry said just before she walked over to see what was causing the commotion in a nearby exam. She found two of her residents wrestling a nude patient into a hospital gown. Every time they got him clothed he'd manage to slip out of their grasp and flash whoever was in the hallway. He, at least, seemed to be having fun.

Kerry noted a few critical remarks on their efforts and then headed back to the admit desk to wait for Kim. The blonde showed up a few minutes later.

"You paged me Steve?"

Steve pointed to the end of the counter where Weaver was sitting. Kim slowed her pace but eventually she had to reach the redhead. "Hey Kerry, you paged me?"

Kerry looked up from her chart review. "Hi Kim, I realized I hadn't seen you in days and I wanted to see how you're doing?"

"You called me away from the ward during a full moon to check up on me?"

Kim's raised voice drew the attention of several near by staff members. They realized there hadn't been a Weaver/Legaspi bout in weeks and there was a collective increase in activity around the admit desk.

Kerry could tell Kim was pissed. She just didn't know why. "Last I heard you were sick. I was worried," she added hoping the personal concern would lessen Kim's growing ire.

She was wrong. It was like throwing gasoline on a fire. Kim's face flushed but before she could get started Kerry cut her off with a wave of her hand. "But now that you're here there's a flasher in exam two that could use your professional services. Johnson and Bricker are already in there to help." Kerry hadn't planned to page psych, but what the hell.

Kim nodded curtly and headed down the hall. Kerry headed into the staff lounge to cool off. When she came back the crowd at the desk was watching the door to exam two. As she approached the group from the rear she heard someone as the rest of the group "what does Weaver have against Legaspi, anyway? She's a great doctor."

"Dyke drama," said one of the orderlies, succinctly.

"Weaver's gay?"

The group nodded.

"It's unrequited lust," added one of the nurses.

"For Legaspi?" asked a student whose name Kerry could never remember.

The group shook their collective heads. "For Weaver," explained another nurse with calm certainty.

"Legaspi's gay?" His disappointment was clearly written all over his face.

The group nodded sympathetically. Many of them had the same initial reaction.

"What a waste," he muttered.

There were knowing looks all around and someone piped up "believe me, it's not wasted." The whole group cracked up.

Kerry cleared her throat and there was an audible collective gasp that she might have found amusing under different circumstances. "Get back to work," she barked harshly. The nurses and students scattered like roaches in the sudden flare of a light bulb.

A few minutes later, Kim came strolling down the hall with the patient's chart in hand. "Kerry, I'm not admitting him to psych. He's drunk. With his blood alcohol level I'm surprised he's still able to stand, much less drop trou."

"Are you sure there's no underlying psychopathology?"

"Maybe, but until he sobers up I can't really tell, now can I?" Kim said pointedly. "In fact, you might have waited until he was sober before calling me the first time, Dr. Weaver."

"As long as it's my ER, it's my call," Kerry said with infuriating logic.

"I guess it's a good thing you hired Dyson, then isn't it," Kim said, practically spitting the name. She turned on her heels and marched to the elevator.

Kerry stared after her wondering what the hell she'd done now to warrant such hostility. She shrugged her shoulders to loosen the knots she'd developed arguing with Kim. She'd never understand women. "I'll give her `til the weekend to calm down and then I'll call her again."

Kerry called on Saturday to see if Kim wanted to go to the movies but there was no answer. She hung up the phone a little more forcefully than required. She tried again that evening-still no answer. She left a message. "Kim I'm not sure what I've done to upset you. If you'd like to talk about it that'd be great. If not, I'll see you at work."

Kim spent Sunday morning with Janet and Sharon. They'd been getting together for brunch every few weeks for years. Kim was slicing fruit at the counter when Janet got back from the bakery with fresh breadstuffs.

Kim looked in the bag. "Mmmmm. My favorites."

"Really? I heard you were partial to redheads," Sharon teased, as she pulled plates down from the cabinet and started to set the table.

"I heard some interesting gossip the other day," Janet said to Sharon as she grabbed the glasses. "Something about a scene in the ER."

Kim rolled her eyes and set the fruit salad on the table. "It wasn't a scene. And it wasn't personal; it was a slight disagreement about a patient. You know how things get distorted by the gossip tree."

Janet nodded; Kim was right. But she'd also noticed that Kim was off her game the past week so she knew something was up. As an administrator and a friend it was her job to find out what. "Seriously Kim, is working with Weaver getting to be a problem? Do I need to step in here?" Janet was only half kidding.

Kim sighed with resignation. "No, as soon as Dyson takes over things should normalize. I shouldn't let her get to me, that's all. It isn't even really her fault." Kim went on to explain everything that happened at the Lopez dinner.

"So what are you going to do?"

Kim bounced up in her seat. "About what? Kerry's cluelessness or my pigheaded pursuit of the possibly unattainable?" Kim asked her voice shrill with frustration. She sagged back down in her chair.

"Janet, what's your opinion?" she asked quietly.

"Of this twisted little dynamic you two have?" Her lips curled into a sardonic smile.

"Yes," Kim said, smiling at the teasing tone. "Is it just me? Am I deluding myself that Kerry might be interested, that a relationship might be possible?"

Janet leaned back in her chair. "Grief is a tough one. People spend their whole lives processing grief. You know that as well as I do. I don't think Weaver's the type to fall in love with her grief but I don't really know her that well."

Sharon piped up, "Well I know that you and Kerry send off enough sparks to endanger several national forests. So, the attraction's there and it's definitely mutual. The question is-- do you really want to play with that kind of fire?"

Kim was reassured by this observation. She knew it was easy to believe something just because you wanted it to be true. But if it was evident to a disinterested third party then maybe, just maybe, there was a chance Kerry eventually would see it too. "Just call me Prometheus," she said with a cocky grin. She reached for another croissant.

"And we all know how well that turned out," Janet said, dousing Kim with a cold dose of reality. "The question is how long are you willing to put your life on hold?"

Kerry was getting ready to leave her apartment when the phone rang. She debated not answering it but when she heard Kim's voice on the machine she knew she had to. She headed for the phone.

"Hi, Kerry, I'm returning your call. I won't be home this evening but if you get in before six, give me a call. If not, I'll see you at work. Bye."

Kerry stood staring down at the phone. `Won't be home this evening? Where the hell was she going on a Sunday night?' Damn. Instead of being relieved that Kim was talking to her she was irked. And she couldn't even formulate why.

The following Monday, when Kerry called and asked how her date went, Kim was puzzled. `Date?' She'd gotten together with some friends for drinks and dinner but she kind of liked the worried undertones in Kerry's voice so she didn't explain. She just said she had a great evening and left it at that. Then she asked Kerry out to lunch. She almost chuckled when the redhead leaped on the invitation.

Kim exited the exam room. She'd just spent thirty minutes at Kerry's request going over the clinical signs of depression with a group of ten medical students. 'Was I ever that callow,' she thought as she wrote up some recommendations. She approached the admit desk slowly. There was a crowd gathered round the desk. It looked like they were all watching the TV in the waiting area.

As she got closer she realized it wasn't the TV they were watching; it was the waiting area. Specifically it was Kerry in the waiting area. She was talking to a stunning young blonde woman. Suddenly, the blonde swept Kerry up in a fierce embrace. She kissed her on the cheek before letting her go.

Kerry stepped away from the young woman but not before the blonde handed Kerry her card and said "call me." Then the blonde twirled around and headed out the exit.

Kerry looked after her for a moment then she walked back toward the group at the admit desk. She approached the counter in a daze. She must have been stunned because she didn't even yell at them to get back to work but they did it anyway just to be safe.


There was no response.


Finally Kim yelled "Dr. Weaver!"

Kerry jumped and noticed the blonde for the first time "Kim...are you all done?"

Kim felt her blood pressure spike and she lifted her clipboard like a shield. "Yes, I just need your signature." She shoved the clipboard toward the clueless redhead.

Kerry signed on the dotted line and handed it back to her. Kim clinched her jaw and spit out "Thank you." She started to turn away but turned back impulsively; she couldn't help herself. "Isn't she a little young for you? She's what..23, 24?" She didn't wait for an answer before storming off toward the elevator and the beckoning safety of the psych ward.

Kerry was halfway to her own office before she processed what had just happened. She finally caught one of the clues Kim had been lobbing her way for weeks. She understood that Kim was jealous and that she was glad that Kim was jealous. It made her so unreasonably happy that she realized she'd been kidding herself with the whole `friends' thing. It was a feeble attempt to protect her battered heart and alleviate the guilt of surviving Sandy's death.

Kerry went into her office and shut the door. She wasn't very good at introspection and the effort was making her hyperventilate. She sat down and held her breath for a moment. She noticed the picture of Sandy and Henry that she kept on her desk. She reached out with a finger and caressed the photo gently. She realized that if Sandy were alive, they'd still be together. But Sandy was dead and Kim was alive and here and wanted her. She didn't have to feel guilty about anything.

Kerry hit the intercom button. "John, call Dr. Legaspi. Tell her that the chief of staff of this hospital wants her ass in my office in ten minutes." She slammed the phone down before John could even say okay.

Fifteen minutes later Kim knocked forcefully on the door to Kerry's office. She pushed her way in. "You wanted to see me, Dr. Weaver," she said angrily to the woman behind the desk.

Kerry set aside a report she'd been pretending to read and looked up at the antagonistic blonde. "Yes, please sit down," she said calmly.

"I prefer to stand and I won't be staying long," Kim sputtered. "I was in the middle of a session.

Kerry nodded, still calm. "I'm sorry about that but there's something we need to clarify." She took a deep breath and continued, "For the record, Laurie Kingsley is 25 years old. She's a grad student at U of M. She's also my sister."

"What?" Kim plopped down in one of the chairs in front of Kerry's desk.

"Laurie…the blonde downstairs, she's my sister." Kerry said it with a strange air of self satisfaction.

Kim leaped up, waving her arms angrily. "You were an only child Kerry. Or did you forget that you told me that." She started pacing in front of the desk chastising herself, as much as Kerry.

"Here I am--waiting patiently--again! For you to get your shit together--again! And you're off blithely kissing other blondes. I am such an idiot!"

"Kim!" The yell startled both Kim and Kerry but it did get Kim to shut up. "She's my birth sister. I found my birth mother several years ago. At first she didn't want anything to do with me but eventually she changed her mind and tracked me down. You'll love this--she's a born again Christian, some luck I have, right? Still, she didn't absolutely freak when I told her I was gay. And now she's told her daughter about me and suddenly I have a sister."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"We've been kinda busy," Kerry said wryly. "We've spent most of our time lately comparing paint chips or avoiding each other."

Kim shot her a look of disbelief.

"Between work and the house, it just never came up. I'm sure we'd have gotten around to it sometime." This millennia. The truth was that Kerry wasn't sure how she felt about the whole thing. For so long she'd felt as if a huge part of her past was missing. And in that missing space she could weave tales that met whatever need or fear she had at the moment. When she met her mother she realized that she wasn't an ogre or a princess, just a scared kid who didn't have any other options. The ordinariness of the situation gave Kerry a small measure of peace; but it was still complicated. And now she had a sister.

Kim shook her head in fond exasperation. She could see the conflict mirrored in Kerry's face. She knew this was a huge deal for the other woman and she didn't want to pressure her. Kim softened her tone. "Thank you for telling me."

She sat back down primly. "So tell me about your sister. This woman you barely know who kisses you in the middle of the ER." That last bit came out more sharply than Kim intended but she was still a little miffed that Kerry hadn't told her. If she was honest she'd admit that she was also more than a little frustrated by her jealous reaction. She didn't do jealous, damn it!

"I didn't call you up here to talk about my sister," Kerry admitted.


"Well, I did but there's something else. Something more important," Kerry said as she got up and walked around in front of her desk.

"Something more important than finding your sister?" Kim was confused.

"Kim, I think I'm ready to try dating again." She stared down at the blonde.

Kim almost got whiplash trying to follow the conversation. "You're ready to start dating again?" Kim sat there looking confused. Finally, Kerry's meaning registered with her.

"Oh….ohhhh, you're ready to start dating again."

"I promised you'd be the first to know," Kerry said with a flirtatious smile. At least she hoped it was flirtatious; it'd been so long she was probably rusty.

`Hallelujah!' Kim's smile lit up her whole face. "I'm free Saturday night," she said smoothly. She stood up and stepped directly into Kerry's personal space but she didn't say anything more. After all this time she was going to make Kerry ask.

Kerry didn't hesitate. "Would you like to go out to dinner with me?"

"On a date?" Kim clarified.

"Yes, if you'd still like it to be," Kerry said hopefully.

"Oh I'd like, Weaver, I'd like," Kim assured her. Her inner Romeo was doing victory laps. Finally! She propped a hip up against the desk. "What did you have in mind?" she asked with forced nonchalance. She reached out and fingered one of Kerry's buttons suggestively.

A jolt of arousal followed immediately by a jolt of fear shot through Kerry's body. "Not that," Kerry exclaimed, backing up half a step. Kim didn't let go of her shirt. "I'm sorry Kim. I think I need to take this slow."

`Slow! It's already been eight months,' Kim screamed internally. Aloud she said, "Damn, and I had big plans for the table in the conference room on three this afternoon. Not to mention the janitors' closet on two. And then there's your wonderfully large…desk," she said with a suggestive glance at said object that they were both now leaning against.

A look of panic raced across Kerry's face. `Oh god.' She hadn't thought this through. She hiccupped unexpectedly.

Kim laughed. She loved that she could still make Kerry lose her cool. Still, they were in the hospital so she toned down her teasing. But she didn't remove her hand. "Don't worry; I can control myself. Sometimes…maybe."

"You're past behavior would indicate otherwise," said Kerry, completely underwhelmed by Kim's response. Kerry tried to explain her need for more time. "It's just; I haven't done this in awhile. And I really don't want to screw it up," she said earnestly.

Kerry reached out and gently cupped Kim's cheek. "I really want this to work."

`Damn.' Kerry said the one thing that would convince Kim to agree to such a painful delay. Kim took a deep breath and let it out dramatically. "Okay, you have my word. Slow it is." She pulled her hand away from Kerry's shirt slowly.

Kerry looked at Kim suspiciously. "Why are you being so agreeable?" It was nice but unexpected.

`I'm hopelessly in love with you and I that terrifies me,' Kim thought but didn't say. She thought it would be too much too soon. For her, for Kerry.

"Maybe a slight delay would be for the best." Kim emphasized the word slight. "The first time around we missed all the fun parts of dating. We went right from, `would you like to have dinner' to `Oh my god, I don't think I'll be able to walk in the morning.'" Kim said it somewhat proudly.

Kerry grinned, lost in memories. "The sex was great, wasn't it?" Her voice was husky and low.

"It's the one thing we did absolutely right," Kim agreed, leaning in just a little closer. "So exactly how slow do you want to take this," she whispered, her breath warm in Kerry's ear.

Kerry's gulp was audible but she moved forward bravely and rested her forehead on the slope of Kim's chest. She breathed in the scent of the other woman. It wasn't fair; Kim always smelled good. Kerry remembered that even after her morning jog Kim still smelled fabulous. The mix of sweat and perfume and deodorant always made Kerry's mouth water. This close to Kim, she suddenly doubted the wisdom of waiting. "A few months?" she suggested half heartedly.

Kerry felt as well as heard Kim's groan. "Months? Are you trying to torture me?"

"This is going to be hard, isn't it?" Kerry said with a sigh. She lifted her head to look at Kim. She was glad the other woman felt the same way.

Kim slid her arms around the redhead and pulled her in tight. "It's going to kill us," she said with honest desperation but she placed a surprisingly gentle kiss on Kerry's forehead. "But if we manage to survive, it'll be worth it," she said with a certainty that she almost believed.

Kim dropped her arms and forced herself to step away from Kerry. It was one of the hardest things she'd ever done but if she didn't keep some physical distance the whole waiting thing was going to go right out the window and they'd be having sex on the couch in Kerry's office. Great sex, mind blowing sex. `And what exactly would be wrong with that,' her little voice screamed. If Kerry's shallow breathing was any indication Kim wasn't the only one who felt that way. Someone had to be strong. She took another half step back.

"So, we're officially dating. Is that right?"

Kerry nodded, already missing the physical contact.

"Exclusively?" Kim wanted to make sure everything was clear. She didn't want to fuck up because she didn't know the ground rules.

Kerry's head shot up and she stared at the blonde in confusion. "What?"

"Are we only dating each other? Are we talking about a monogamous, non-sexual, dating relationship?" Tired of miscommunication, Kim wanted everything spelled out.

Kerry was floored. Monogamous? It hadn't even occurred to her that there was any other way. Did Kim want an open relationship? If she did, that was just too bad. "I'd prefer that, yes," Kerry said bluntly.

Kim nodded, satisfied. "Good. Then the next time I see you in an embrace with a beautiful stranger I'll know she's another long lost relative," she said only half teasing.

The knock on the door surprised them both and reminded them that they were still at work.

"Come in."

John stuck his head in. "Dr. Weaver, your three o'clock is here." He noticed both women were breathing deeply and their cheeks were flushed. They must have been arguing again. He was afraid that one day they'd kill each other.

"John, give me five minutes and then show Dr. Cliburn in, okay?"

He nodded and then backed out of the tension filled room gratefully.

"Duty calls," Kerry said. She was actually somewhat relieved by the interruption. Things were getting a little heated despite their agreement to wait. `Note to self-don't be alone with Kim at work.' No time like the present to set the ground rules.

"Kim, wait," she said as the blonde started toward the door.

"There's one more thing, I think we need to be circumspect while we're here at work," Kerry suggested.

"Everyone knows we're lesbians Kerry." Kim was surprised. She was also disappointed that Kerry's diffidence would surface so soon.

"No, I know that. But I am technically your boss," Kerry reminded her. She stepped close to the blonde.

Kim looked at her in disbelief. "Puleeeaze," she scoffed. "You're worried about sexual harassment charges?"

Kerry reached out and ran her hand along the blonde's silk covered shoulder. Her palm came to rest against the back of Kim's neck. She tugged firmly, pulling Kim closer. "Well…I would expect certain sexual favors. Eventually, I mean," Kerry said suggestively, her lips now inches away from Kim's.

Kim leaned in further. "So would I, Dr. Weaver," she said, her voice low and throaty. "And I believe the definition of sexual harassment involves unwelcome sexual advances."

"So you'll sign a waiver?" Kerry whispered.

"What!" Kim pulled back quickly. Her face flushed with incipient outrage.

"Gotcha," Kerry said slyly. What she wouldn't give for a camera right now. She stood on tiptoe and chastely kissed Kim on the cheek. Before the blonde could react, Kerry stepped back to relative safety behind her desk.

Kim walked to the door. She turned just as she twisted the knob. "Remember, Weaver, payback's a bitch," she threatened with an evil smile. Kerry's laugh followed Kim down the hall.

Kim came in early on Friday. She wanted to see Kerry before she left the hospital. She'd seen her only briefly and in passing the last two days. But she had several phone calls from the redhead including a message waiting for her when she got back from that first fateful discussion about dating.

"Kim, it's Kerry." Kim smiled, like she'd not recognize that voice.

"I just wanted to say thanks for giving me another chance." Kerry paused and Kim could hear the underlying excitement in her voice when she added, "And I'm really looking forward to our date on Saturday."

Kim replayed the message several times. She had what she feared was a stupid grin on her face but she was just too happy to care.

Then the fates started conspiring against them. Dr. Braun, a colleague of Kim's broke his leg skiing. He was going to be out for a few weeks. In an effort to maintain her Saturday off, Kim agreed to cover Braun's shifts for the rest of the week. That put her on nights while Kerry was on days.

Kerry was quite understanding about the whole thing. "In a way it's fortuitous. It'll help us be good," she'd said when Kim called to explain.

"You've always been good, babe," Kim said with a leer. She was rewarded with a bashful laugh.

"Still, it's ironic that when were doing the avoidance thing we kept tripping all over each other and now..."

"And now the fates are conspiring against us," Kim finished for her darkly.

"We still have Saturday, babe," Kerry reminded her just before she had to hang up and go see to an emergency.

And that's why she was headed in early on Friday night. She pushed through the ER looking for an errant redhead. She finally caught up with her in the doctor's lounge. Kerry was tossing her stuff in a backpack when Kim pushed silently through the door. The blonde sidled up behind the redhead and put her hands over Kerry's eyes.

"Guess who?" She knew it was childish but she hadn't seen Kerry in days and a quick glance revealed they had the place to themselves.

"Sylvia? I told you not to do that at work."

"Ha, ha," Kim said tonelessly. She slid her hands down Kerry's sides, pinning her arms in place. She pulled the redhead backwards into a full body hug. She couldn't believe how good a hug could feel. Then Kerry turned around in the tight embrace and kissed her; that felt even better.

"I've missed you, you know," Kim said.

Kerry slid her arms around Kim's waist. "I've missed you too." They stood there for long moments simply appreciating being in the presence of the other. Then a commotion from the hallway alerted them to a group of incoming interns and they stepped away from each other slightly.

The interns grabbed their books and sat down at the bench farthest from Drs. Weaver and Legaspi. They didn't know much but they knew they didn't want to get fragged in the crossfire.

Kim sat down on a bench near the lockers and watched as Kerry loaded her pack to head home.

"What, no paperwork," Kim said with a smirk.

Kerry shot her a look loaded with possible meanings. "Not this weekend," she said simply. She snapped her bag closed and said, "This weekend I have other plans."

Kim smiled with delight and then looked over to where the interns were pretending to study. She suddenly hated interns. Kerry smiled like she could read Kim's mind and motioned toward the door. Kim hopped up and followed her out into the busy hallway.

At the doorway Kerry grabbed Kim's hand and squeezed it lightly. Kim was surprised by her daring and rewarded her with another smile. "I'll see you tomorrow," she said softly.

"Yes you will," Kerry said with a firm nod of her head. "Get some sleep when you get off. I'll call you tomorrow afternoon and I'll pick you up at six."

They stood there staring at each other, neither wanting to be the first to turn away. Kim's pager made the decision for them. She glanced down at the display. "Damn, I gotta go," she said. She started down the hall toward the elevators.

She turned suddenly and called out, "I'll see you tomorrow." She walked backwards for a bit, not wanting to lose sight of the redhead too quickly. She waved one last time and then turned and sprinted for the stairs.

Kerry waved and smiled again. She couldn't help it, she was happy for the first time in a long time.

Driving home the next morning, Kim was as excited as a kid on Christmas eve. She wasn't sure she'd be able to sleep but a warm bath and the thought of a warm redhead persuaded her to try. She was asleep minutes after crawling in bed.

The phone rang while Kim was in her closet searching for the perfect outfit. They were just going to dinner and the movies but Kim wanted to look nice for their first date. Hell, she wanted to look irresistible. If Kerry wanted to go slow, they'd go slow. But she didn't have to make it easy on her.

Kim checked the caller id box. If it was the hospital she wasn't answering it. She sighed with relief and picked up the bedside phone.

"Hello," Kim purred into the receiver.

"Hi Kim, it's Kerry."

Kim chuckled. Kerry sounded more nervous and distracted than she did. "I know, babe. I've been expecting your call. I've just been trying to figure out what to wear tonight."

"About tonight…" Kerry started and Kim knew she was about to be disappointed again.

"Henry's sick. He's got a fever of 102 and he's throwing up. I can't leave him with a babysitter," she said firmly.

`Shit!' "No, of course you can't. Poor Henry. Do you know what it is?" Kim asked.

"There's a stomach flu going around school. It's probably that but I need to keep an eye on him."

Kim could hear the distress in Kerry's voice. "Is there anything I can do?"

"No, I've got it under control. I'm just sorry about ruining our first date," Kerry said tearfully.

Kim murmured sympathetic reassurances. "Oh honey, don't worry about that," she said softly. "We'll do it next week. You just take care of Henry. Okay?"

"Okay, I'd better go. I'll call you tomorrow."

Kim stood there looking at the phone in her hand. `Damn the fates, anyway,' she thought as she headed back into her closet. She slipped into her favorite jeans and hooded gray sweatshirt. She put on her running shoes and grabbed her keys and her wallet on her way out the door.

Kerry was gathering up all of Henry's soiled clothes, as well as the one she'd been wearing just before his last bout of nausea. His fever had diminished somewhat but Kerry knew that could change at any minute so she had to work fast. She rinsed the vomit out of several sleepers and then threw them all in the laundry basket with the soiled towels. She was headed toward the kitchen when the doorbell rang.

She dropped the basket and rushed to the door. She didn't want whoever the hell it was to ring the bell again. She'd just gotten Henry to sleep. She yanked open the door, intending to chastise whoever was out there.

Kim stood in the doorway. She had bags in each hand, one from the video store and several from a restaurant down the street. "I believe we had a date, did we not?" she asked with a smile. She held the bags aloft. "I brought dinner. I got chicken soup for Henry if you think he can handle it."

Kerry looked at Kim framed in the doorway. Her hair was still damp from a recent shower and she was wearing well worn jeans and sneakers and a baggy gray sweatshirt. She had never looked more beautiful. Kerry stepped through the doorway and pulled Kim into a fierce embrace.

Kim, still holding the shopping bags, lowered her arms around the slender form of her…what exactly? They were beyond friends but not yet lovers. And girlfriend sounded so high school. She finally settled on intended. She had a lot of intentions where Kerry was concerned, she thought with a chuckle.

Kerry tightened her hold on the blonde.

"Not that I'm not enjoying this very public display of affection, but I'm about to drop dinner," Kim said after a while.

Kerry finally released her hold and stepped back slightly from the younger woman. "We can't have that, can we?" She took hold of the bags from the restaurant and slipped her hand into Kim's now empty one. She tugged it slightly and said "come on in."

She didn't have to be asked twice. Kim followed Kerry into the kitchen. "How's Henry?"

"He's finally asleep." Kerry set the bags down on the table. "Are you hungry right now?" she asked as she pulled out the carryout containers. With Kim the question was rhetorical; she was always hungry.

"This looks great. Could you get the plates out, third cabinet from the right," Kerry directed. "I'll be right back."

Kerry went in to check on her son while Kim set the table. `Now where does Kerry keep her wine glasses?'

Kerry returned a few minutes later carrying the laundry basket she'd dropped earlier. "He's still out. Let me just throw these in the wash and we can eat."

Kim looked over at the mound of soiled clothes. "Yikes," she said emphatically. "Don't you need a hazmat license for that?"

"You'd think as an ER doc I'd be used to projectile vomiting by now but a wino with the DTs has nothing on Henry." She reached in the basket and held up a shirt of hers. "He nailed me from halfway across the room," Kerry said dryly.

Kim grinned. "That's our boy," she said with a strange sense of pride. She turned back to light the candles on the table.

Kim's use of the possessive startled Kerry for a moment. That was something she needed to consider. She looked at the blonde who was obliviously searching a drawer for the corkscrew. `But not tonight', she thought. She went into the laundry room and put the wash on. When she came back into the kitchen Kim had the candles burning, the wine poured and, when Kerry sat down, she flipped the lights off.

"Ta da! Who needs a fancy restaurant anyway," Kim said as she made her way back to the table. All she needed was Kerry by candlelight. She plopped down in her seat and picked up her glass. "Here's to second chances," she said seriously.

Kerry raised her glass in acknowledgement. "And here's to beautiful women who aren't afraid of the stomach flu. Thank you for this," she said sincerely. It had been so long since she'd had anyone looking out for her, she was a little self-conscious. But she took one look at the softly smiling blonde across the table and realized it was unnecessary. Suddenly her stomach growled.

Kim laughed. "That's usually my line," she teased.

Kerry blushed. "I'm sorry; I haven't eaten since this morning. There's something about being barfed on that just kills the appetite."

"Then let's get you fed. You have to keep your strength up; if only to dodge," Kim teased. She passed Kerry the salad.

They kept dinner conversation light and well away from hospital topics. They were just finishing up when they heard crying coming from down the hall. Kerry jumped up and went to check on Henry. Kim blew out the candles and flipped on the kitchen light before clearing the table. She'd just put the last dish in the dishwasher when Kerry walked into the kitchen with Henry.

He had his head on her shoulder and he was flushed and sweaty but when he saw Kim he smiled a little.

"Hiya kiddo, how are you feeling?" She walked over and rubbed his back tenderly.

"I'm sick," he said pitifully and he tightened his hold on his mother.

"His fever's back up. Kim could you hand me a can of ginger ale from the fridge," Kerry directed.

Kim got out the drink. She saw a sippy cup sitting in the drainer and filled it half full. After wrestling the lid on it she handed it to Kerry. "Here, you two go sit down in the living room. Is there anything else you need?"

"Damp washcloth," Kerry requested as she headed into the living room.

Kim went into the bathroom. There was a thermometer on the counter as well as several over the counter children's medicines. For a minute, it took her back to her childhood. With four siblings, someone was always getting sick or injured, she remembered. For the first time she had a clear picture of what her mother must have gone through. `I should call mom tomorrow and thank her,' she thought.

She dampened a washcloth and grabbed a fresh towel and headed back to the living room. Kerry was sitting on the couch with Henry in her lap. Kim made a detour to Henry's bedroom and grabbed his pillow, his blanket and his teddy bear. She started to leave but turned back and grabbed the bucket that was standing guard by his bed as well.

"Here we go," Kim said. She handed Kerry the washcloth and set the pillow and everything else on the couch and the bucket nearby. She grinned at Kerry. "Better safe than sorry."

"I think you've done this before," Kerry said, impressed with Kim's foresight.

"Four brothers, remember."

While Kerry was wiping Henry's face and hands Kim retrieved the bag of videos she'd brought. She came back to the couch and pulled out a copy of The Incredibles. "Want to watch a movie, kiddo?"

He nodded halfheartedly and went back to drinking his soda. Kim dimmed the lights and turned the TV on low. She set up the DVD and came back to the couch and sat down next to Kerry. "I haven't seen this but the clerk at the video store said it was great," she said just before she hit the play button.

Kim grabbed Henry's pillow and put it in her lap so he could stretch out if he wanted. After a few minutes, he did just that. After a few more minutes, he was asleep.

Kerry started to get up. "I'll go put him in bed," she said.

Kim reached out and stopped her. "He's okay. Let's let him sleep." She gently pulled him further onto her lap to take some of the pressure off Kerry's hip. "Let's just watch the movie," she whispered. She slid her arm around Kerry's shoulder and felt the redhead gradually relax. After a few minutes, Kerry put her head down on Kim's shoulder.

Kim pulled her in a little more closely. After a few more minutes Kerry's breathing deepened and Kim knew she was asleep too. Kim wasn't insulted; Kerry looked exhausted. A strange sense of peace washed over her. She wanted to laugh at the irony but she was afraid she might wake someone. She'd spent days worrying about this date and now, here she was, watching a cartoon and being used as a human pillow. And she couldn't have been happier about it. `Life is weird,' Kim thought as Kerry burrowed in a little closer. `But definitely good.' She settled in to watch the movie.

When the movie ended, Kim carefully extracted herself from underneath Kerry. She picked Henry up and carried him to his room. After tucking him in, she felt his forehead. He felt a lot cooler than he had earlier and his skin wasn't as flushed. She tucked his bear up beside him and went back into the living room. She knelt in front of Kerry and shook her gently. "Come on, Ker, let's get you to bed," she said softly.

Kerry's eyes popped open and she sat up. "Henry?"

"I put him to bed. His fever's down; he's still asleep," Kim reported. She sat down next to Kerry, who again rested her head on Kim's shoulder.

Kim turned and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead, then one on her cheek and finally one on her lips. Kerry twisted slightly and ramped that kiss up a notch. Kim turned and slid both arms around Kerry's waist pulling the redhead onto her lap. Before she knew it, Kerry had climbed astraddle her thighs and was kissing her like there was no tomorrow. After a few blissful moments, Kim pulled away and rested her forehead against Kerry's. "Come on Ker, let's get you in bed," she said huskily.

Kerry's eyes flew open.

"To sleep," Kim clarified, both to Kerry and herself.

"Damn," Kerry protested. It would have been a more convincing objection if she hadn't yawned in the middle of it. Still, it was enough to restore Kim's studly pride.

Kerry kissed her again softly and then climbed off Kim's lap. She pulled the blonde to her feet.

"I need to head home," Kim said reluctantly. "I have to work tomorrow evening. I'm on nights again next week. Call me tomorrow?"

"Of course." Kerry held Kim's hand as she walked her to the door. "Thank you for tonight. It was wonderful," she said. "I'm really sorry I fell asleep on you."

Kim waggled her eyebrows. "You can make it up to me next time," she said with a comic leer that melted into a sincere smile. "I completely understand. I hope Henry feels better soon." She opened the apartment door and was about to step through.

"Kim?" Kerry tugged Kim's hand until the blonde turned around. Kerry pulled Kim close and kissed her gently but thoroughly. "Good night."

"Does Janet hate you?" asked the familiar voice on the other end of the phone line.

"What? No, Janet is a friend of mine. Why do you think she hates me?" asked Kim.

"Because she's scheduled you to work nights for the past two weeks," Kerry said, seething frustration. "Doesn't she know you have a new theoretical girlfriend who would like to see you for more than a few minutes between shifts?"

"Maybe she hates you," Kim offered with a laugh. She swiveled around in her office chair and put her feet up on her desk. She'd only been at work a few minutes when Kerry called. "Wait, what do you mean theoretical girlfriend?"

"I think you have to see each other for at least a few hours a week to qualify as an actual girlfriend. At least if you both live in the same city. And there should probably be kissing involved," Kerry explained.

"Kissing-I like the sound of that." Kim got lost in thoughts of kissing for a moment. "I'm sorry, Ker. We've been really short handed. What with Braun's accident and both Sam and Bernadette on maternity leave. Things should settle down soon…So, you miss me?" Kim asked, shamelessly fishing.

"Of course, I miss you," Kerry huffed. "We just started dating."

Kim found Kerry's obvious disgruntlement greatly reassuring, although she was starting to chafe at the separation too. She hated using her friendship with Janet to ask for professional favors but she would if she had to.

"Luckily, Dyson started this week and she's been very distracting."

Suddenly Kim wasn't feeling so reassured. "What does that mean?" Kim asked. She still didn't like Dr. Dyson but at least she seemed competent the few times Kim had talked with her.

Kerry completely missed the underlying annoyance in Kim's voice, but her bad mood seemed to be dissipating. "I've been busy showing her the ropes. You know, she's really quite sharp; she's picking things up very quickly."

"Bully for her," Kim said petulantly.

"And for me, it's great that Sarah could start so soon. And the sooner she's up to speed, the sooner I can go back to my cushy 9 to 5 shifts. Plus, it'll give me more time to work on getting moved into the new place."

"Sarah? You're on a first name basis now?"

"I'm on a first name basis with all of my department heads," Kerry said blithely. She lowered her voice a little. "And one very alluring psychiatrist that I hope to see again some day," she added. "Which actually is why I called, I'm off tomorrow and I wondered if you'd like to go out."

"Kerry, I'm working two to midnight. Isn't that a little late to go out," Kim asked evenly. She didn't object to the idea. In fact, now that she thought about it she kind of liked it. They could go to this little club she knew not far from the hospital. There could be dancing involved. She started spinning fantasies about dark corners and fevered embraces that were effectively dashed when Kerry said something about breakfast.


"Would you like to meet for breakfast before your shift," Kerry repeated. "I'm dropping Henry at preschool and then I'm going to spend the day packing. You could come over or we could meet somewhere," she offered. She was silent for a moment as if considering what to say.

"I just miss spending time with you, Kim," Kerry finally confessed. "Does that make me codependent?" She sounded a little worried.

"No, honey, that makes you human. And for the record, I've missed you too." Kim could actually feel the lump in her throat. "What time should I come over?"

"Whenever you want, I'll be there all day."

Kim's pager beeped. "Damn, I've got to go. I'll see you in the morning. Early. And I want pancakes. I'm not covering the ER today so I probably won't see you." She hesitated. "Unless you'd like to meet for dinner? Around 6?"

"In the cafeteria?"

"It's where I take all my theoretical girlfriends," Kim teased.

Kerry considered her schedule. If she could just rearrange it a bit…"That will work, I'll meet you at 6."

Kim's pager beeped again. "Damn, now I really do have to go. I'll see you later."

It was half past midnight. Kim had been watching the clock for the last hour. She was going home, getting a few hours sleep and then heading over to Kerry's apartment. If her replacement ever showed up, that is. Dr. Tillman was late; he was always late.

Kim was pacing in front of the admin desk when he finally showed up at a quarter to one. He started right in with the apologies but Kim cut him off. She shoved a clipboard at him and started filling him on what was happening on the ward. "Any questions?" she asked with an intimidating glare.

"No, no," he stuttered. "I've got it."

Kim turned on her heels and stormed out of the ward. She rushed to the elevator and just missed a car going down. "Damn it," she muttered, punching the button vigorously. After what seemed like forever, another car arrived and she rushed in. She pulled up short when she saw Dr. Dyson leaning against the back of the car. Kim nodded graciously. She did have to work with the woman after all.

"Burning the midnight oil, Dr. Dyson?"

"Yes, there's a lot to learn and I wanted to get a sense of all my staff members. There's no better way than pulling a few odd shifts every once in awhile," the new administrator admitted.

Kim smiled in recollection. That had always been Kerry's policy too. She remembered she was in a hurry to get home and hit the button for the ground floor. As the elevator took off she leaned against the back wall. "How is that going?"

"Very well, thanks," Dyson said, bobbing her head emphatically. "Kerry's been extremely helpful in that regard. I think I'm going to like working under her."

"And with you," Dyson added with a smile. "Although we haven't seen much of you in the ER this week." Dyson's expression conveyed her disappointment at this situation.

"Our department's a little short handed this month," Kim explained.

"Yeah, Kerry mentioned something about that earlier tonight," Dyson said offhandedly.

Kim's eyebrows rose. She couldn't help herself; she had to ask. "Oh really, in what context? Has my department been deficient in some way?"

Dyson laughed. "No, no, nothing like that. Your department's been very responsive. We were just having drinks and discussing staffing problems in general."

"You and Dr. Weaver went out for drinks?" Kim asked with a disbelieving squeak. She was immediately irritated by Dyson's grinning response.

"Yeah, she's great, isn't she?" Dyson moved a little closer to Kim. "You know, we should go out for drinks sometime."

Kim was flabbergasted at the woman's audacity. "I'm sorry, but I'm involved with someone."

"And she doesn't let you go out with colleagues?" Dyson asked with a superior smirk.

Kim was saved from a response when the elevator doors opened on her floor. She settled for a simple goodnight and then stormed her way out to the parking garage. She wondered just how early she could be at Kerry's without waking Henry.

Despite having the day off, Kerry was up early. She'd dropped Henry at preschool and run by the market and was now on her way home. She was approaching her apartment when a figure rose from the floor in front of her door. "Kim, you're here early," Kerry said as she rushed forward. She was delighted; she hadn't expected the blonde for a few more hours.

Taken with Kerry's enthusiasm, Kim grabbed her round the waist and leaned down to kiss her eagerly. Kerry dropped her grocery bags and slid her arms firmly around Kim.

"Wow," Kim said when she finally came up for air, "good morning to you too." She was tremendously reassured by Kerry's enthusiastic greeting.

Kerry laid her head down on Kim's chest and squeezed her tight. "I'm so glad you're here." She lifted her head. "Are you hungry?"

"Starved," Kim said seriously just before she leaned in for another kiss. Within seconds, Kerry found herself pressed against the wall as Kim's hands worked their way underneath her shirt. They might have stood there necking all morning if Kerry's eighty year old neighbor, Mrs. Schmidt, hadn't left her apartment a few minutes later. It was Mrs. Schmidt's gasp of disapproval that persuaded the two doctors to take it inside.

Kerry laughed and grabbed Kim's belt and tugged her toward the door. Kim picked up the grocery bags and carried them into the apartment. "What's for breakfast?" she asked, one passion temporarily giving way to another.

"I think someone wanted pancakes." Kerry said, heading for the kitchen. She pulled out her favorite mixing bowl and began to assemble the ingredients on the counter.

"Can I help?" Kim asked, coming to stand behind the smaller woman. She loved helping Kerry in the kitchen. In the past it had led to some very creative play. Not to mention, fabulous food.

Kerry pointed toward the grocery bags on the counter. "You can wash and slice the strawberries and stick the cream in the freezer for me, please. Oh and set the table," she added as an afterthought.

Kim slid her arms around Kerry from behind. She knew what cream in the freezer meant. "Yes, ma'am," she whispered just before she kissed Kerry on the cheek. She pulled away slowly and started sorting out the contents of the bags.

They worked in companionable silence for a few minutes. "Anything interesting happen during your shift?"

"Funny you should mention that," Kim said. She put down the knife and the strawberry she was working on and turned toward Kerry. "I ran into Dr. Dyson as I was leaving the hospital."

"Oh, really," Kerry said as she moved to the sink to rinse some blueberries for the batter.

"Yeah, she was very complimentary toward you," Kim said with feigned nonchalance. "She said you'd been very helpful." This elicited a smile from the redhead. And that just pissed Kim off.

"She also said she was looking forward to working under you and that she'd enjoyed spending time with you last night," Kim practically snarled. She knew she was losing her temper but she couldn't seem to stop.

That got Kerry's attention. Her shock was palpable. "What are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about you and Dyson going out for drinks, Kerry. Is that what you meant by a monogamous relationship?"

Kerry took a second to get her temper under control. "Kim, I ran into Sarah last night at the GLBT meeting. A group of us went out afterwards and she came along. That's it," Kerry said evenly.

"Oh." Kim wondered how it was possible to feel so relieved and so stupid at the same time. "Kerry…" she started.

Kerry cut her off. "Furthermore, I stayed for one drink, a coke, and then left to pick up my son."

Kim reached out and touched Kerry gently on the arm. "Kerry, I'm so…"

Kerry jerked her arm away and walked to the other side of the kitchen. She whirled and Kim could see the anger and hurt on her face.

"How could you possibly think that I would do that? I'm not going to jeopardize what we might have by going out with another woman," she said furiously.

Might have? Kim didn't like the sound of that. "What was I supposed to think? The woman is obviously interested in you," Kim rationalized.

"So I indiscriminately reciprocate? That's more your style, isn't it?" Kerry asked nastily.

"What?" It was Kim's turn to be surprised. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"It means that I'm not the one with the history of philandering," Kerry shot back.

Kim was getting angry again. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"Kim you replaced me less than two months after we broke up. Since then you've apparently slept your way through half the lesbian population of Minnesota. What am I supposed to think?"

Kerry started pacing. "I can't really blame you; you're so damn beautiful and charming you can have anyone you want." Why would you want me, was left unasked. "You move in; you move on. And we mere mortals are left to deal with the wreckage."

Kim snorted derisively. "That's hardly fair, Kerry. You know why I left. I didn't leave you for another woman. I left because it was too painful to stay." Kim crossed her arms angrily. She knew they were getting dangerously off track but she didn't know how to stop. She wasn't sure she wanted to stop.

Kerry stopped pacing and stood up straight. "Actually I don't know why you left, you wouldn't talk to me, remember? You ignored my calls, my letters. We could have handled Romano. We could have found a way for you to stay."

"Romano!" Kim spit the name. Kim couldn't believe how dense Kerry could be. "It was never about Romano," she said fiercely. "I've dealt with Romano's my whole life."

She threw her arms up in defeat but continued. "It was about you, Kerry. It was about feeling abandoned by you, again and again. Do you have any idea what that's like?"

Kerry took a deep breath and forced herself to calm down. She blew her bangs out of her eyes. "Are you serious? Kim, I'm the poster child for abandonment issues," she said with a grim smile.

Kim chuckled mirthlessly and shook her head. She didn't want to fight. Not about Dyson and certainly not about something that happened so long ago. She thought they were through with all this. She took a step toward Kerry. "Look at us, what are we doing? Why are we fighting about this now, after all this time?" she asked. Her tone was conciliatory.

All the air seemed to leave Kerry's body. She pulled a chair out from the table and collapsed down into it. She sat there deflated and deep in thought. Finally she looked up at Kim and offered, "Maybe because it didn't matter as much before. But now we're jumping back in and…"

"It's been ten months Kerry, we're hardly jumping into anything," Kim said the combative tone back in her voice.

Kerry shrank back. Kim realized she'd sounded harsh. She toned it down. "Okay maybe you're right. We are about to take another step forward," she agreed. "At least I hope so," she added under her breath. "Maybe that's got us both spooked," she speculated.

"I think so," Kerry agreed. "And we've never really talked about it."

She didn't have to explain what it was. The disastrous end to their first relationship was always there, Kim realized, in the back of her mind. Everything was measured against it. They hadn't really dealt with any of it. "No wonder it just exploded." Kim shook her head. "And I'm a psychiatrist for god's sake," she said bitterly.

Kim sat down beside her; Kerry picked up her hand. "Don't beat yourself up about it. It had to come up sometime. Better now than later, I guess." She stared at Kim, willing her to believe what she was about to say.

"Kim, I've done some horrible things in my life and abandoning you was one of the most shameful. I just…I wasn't ready for you. On any level," she admitted.

She waited for Kim to indicate that she heard. After a slight nod from the blonde, she continued. "But I'm not that woman anymore. I swear to you that we're in this thing together. I will never abandon you again. Not to shame, not to fear, and certainly not to another woman. I love you." She kissed Kim's palm, a promise and a prayer.

Kim closed her eyes in tearful acknowledgment. She was suddenly exhausted but she felt at peace in a way that had eluded her for years.

"Which isn't to say I won't find completely new ways to screw up," Kerry said, with another kiss to Kim's hand.

Kim laughed. "You and me both, babe."

Kim tightened her hold on Kerry's hand and looked down at the table. "I'm sorry I ran away from Chicago, from you," she clarified, looking up at Kerry.

"I was wrong to push you so fast, to expect you to just be okay with things. I should have taken more care." She hesitated then decided that honesty was essential if they were going to be successful at this relationship thing

"Kerry, I set us up to fail. I've done that a lot in the past. I don't want to do that anymore," Kim said. There were tears in her eyes but she cleared her throat and continued. "And I'm sorry I jumped to conclusions with Dyson."

Kerry was astonished at Kim's admissions. She knew they had more to talk about but for now it was enough. She decided to lighten the tone. "I never knew you were the jealous type," Kerry said. She was amazed.

"I didn't either but apparently I am," Kim admitted with equal surprise. "At least where you're concerned." She pulled Kerry into her lap and slipped her arms loosely around Kerry's waist. "I'll try to keep it under control," she promised.

Kerry chuckled. "Honestly, under other circumstances, it'd be kind of hot." She put her arms around Kim's neck. She grabbed a handful of hair and pulled Kim's head back, forcing the blonde to look her in the eyes. "So are we okay?" she asked tremulously.

Kim stared at Kerry for a seemingly endless moment. "We had a major blow up and neither of us ran off or shut down so I'd say we're making real progress," Kim answered with breathtaking smile. She leaned up and kissed the redhead lightly. "Now, I believe someone was making me pancakes."

Kerry leaned down and gently returned Kim's kiss. This caress had a fraction of the heat of their initial greeting but it was full of forgiveness and the promise of love.

Kerry climbed off Kim's lap and went back to working on breakfast. Kim got up and resumed slicing the strawberries.


"Yeah, babe."

"Would you accompany me to Janet and Sharon's anniversary party next week?" Kerry asked hesitantly.

Kim's face lit up with excitement. "I'd love to. You do know it's a costume party?" Kerry nodded and Kim continued, "It's always a blast. And they set up a section just for kids so Henry will have fun too." Kim had been planning her costume for weeks.

"I should tell you that there will be a lot of hospital folks there. If we arrive together, it'll be all over the hospital in twelve hours," Kim warned. She held her breath waiting for Kerry's answer. She wasn't disappointed.

"I know. That's the point. It lets everybody know--hands off, Legaspi's mine'. You're not the only person with a green eyed monster and it's a lot more effective than sending out a hospital wide memo. Nobody ever reads those anyway," Kerry groused.

`To hell with breakfast.' Kim dropped her knife and kissed Kerry hard.

Kim groaned. "God Kerry, nobody does that like you do. That was soooo good." She took a deep breath. "I don't think I can move," she whined.

Kerry chuckled, completely unsympathetic. "I told you not to eat that second stack of pancakes."

Kim whimpered. "I'll have to run 20 miles to work this off."

Kerry wasn't impressed with the pitiful act. "There's a great park with a running trail near the new house," Kerry said. She stood up and started clearing the table. "You can always come over and run there."

"You're not gonna cut me any slack, are you babe?" Kim asked with a laugh. She lolled back in her chair.

"Not in this lifetime Legaspi." Kerry put the plates in the sink and came back to the table with a fresh pot of coffee. She sat down and leaned close. "Interested in a way to work off that food?"

Kim sat up, interested in whatever Kerry might have in mind. "I'm always interested in working up a sweat with you, babe."

"Good, I could use some help moving this Saturday, if you're not working," Kerry said. "That should be better than running." Kerry laughed at Kim's crestfallen look.

"You're a tease, you know that, Weaver? What's in it for me?"

"A grateful girlfriend?"

"Guess again."

"A grateful girlfriend with a queen sized bed, whose son is sleeping way, way down the hall in her new house," Kerry said with a knowing smile.

Kim leaned back in her chair again. Her smile matched Kerry's. "What time should I be there?"

"Okay, that's the last one for the top floor," Kim said as she climbed down the stairs for the hundredth time that day. Her back ached, her knees ached and she had a knot in her shoulder the size of a baseball. She'd spent the past two days helping Kerry move after working a full shift at the hospital. They were both ready to drop but Kerry was finally moved in.

They looked around the living room. It was stacked full of boxes, most of them from a storage facility in Chicago. Kim had spent the past three hours shifting boxes from room to room while Kerry was unpacking the immediate necessities.

Kerry walked over to where Kim was slumped tiredly against the wall. She pulled the blonde in front of her and started to rub Kim's shoulders. Kim groaned as a particularly tight knot caught the redhead's attention. Kerry worked it carefully.

"You need some aspirin and a warm bath ASAP," Kerry ordered.

"Is that an invitation?"

"If you'd like it to be," Kerry said shyly. She was tired of waiting for them to find time to date. They could always date later, she thought.

Kim turned around surprised. "That'd be terrific. Good thing I brought a change of clothes."

Kerry looked startled and Kim started to backtrack immediately. "Not that I expected to spend the night," she said quickly. "I just thought we might go out to dinner."

"Uh huh," Kerry said dubiously.

"Or something equally innocent," Kim continued.

Kerry laughed with delight. "Don't worry, Kim. I'm sure your intentions were honorable."

"Well mostly, anyway," Kim confessed with a smirk.

"Luckily mine aren't," Kerry said, surprising Kim. She was completely serious. She'd spent the past two days watching Kim move around her new house, helping out with the movers, working up a sweat shifting boxes from place to place, handling Henry with patience. But it wasn't until she caught sight of Kim's ass as she bent over to pick up a box of books that she realized her need for more time was over. She was ready to take the next step. `Really, really ready,' she thought.

"Why don't you go upstairs and try out the new tub. I need to go pick up Henry at the sitter's. I think I'll pick up dinner too; I'm too tired to cook. Is pizza okay?"

"Sounds great," Kim said, and she wasn't talking about dinner. She stood there with a silly grin on her face until Kerry leaned up and kissed her lightly on the cheek.

"Upstairs Kim," she ordered. "I put out fresh towels, soak as long as you like." Kerry pivoted and grabbed her car keys off a stack of boxes. "We'll be back in hour," she promised.

Kim stood there until Kerry shut the door. Then, still wearing a grin, she raced out the door and grabbed her overnight bag from her car. She congratulated herself on her foresight. Or optimism, she wasn't sure. Not that it mattered. She raced up the stairs two at a time.

Kim threw her bag down on the bed in the master bedroom. She noticed the bed wasn't assembled. She went into the adjoining bathroom and turned the water on in the new spa tub. She left the tub to fill and went back into the bedroom. She dug through a couple of boxes before finally uncovering a box labeled "linens." She dug out some sheets and blankets and tossed them on the bare mattress. She'd make the bed after her soak.

On the drive home, Kerry explained to Henry that the new house was ready. He'd already spent part of the past few days over there helping put things away in his room. Kerry wanted to make the transition as seamless as possible. It helped that he was excited about having a yard.


"Yes Mama?"

"Kim is going to spend the night in the new house too," Kerry explained.

Henry was puzzled. "Where's her room?"

Kerry smiled. "We're going to share."

"A jamaparty," Henry said like that explained everything.

"Where did you hear that," Kerry asked curiously.

"Uncle Eddie."

"I'll have to remember to thank him appropriately," Kerry muttered under her breath. She drove toward the pizza place planning ways to torture her brother-in-law.

Kerry pulled up to her house and saw Kim's car in her drive. Her heart skipped a beat at the thought of Kim waiting at home for her. She freed her son from his seatbelt and grabbed the pizza. As they headed inside, Henry ran ahead of her calling for Kim.

"Kim! Kim!"

Kerry followed after him. "I think she's probably upstairs, Henry. Let's go put the pizza in the kitchen and then we'll find her."

They found her in the master bedroom. She had made the bed and was now sprawled across it, deeply asleep. Henry tiptoed to the side of the bed and peered at the blonde. He turned to his mother and whispered, "She's asweep. Ssshhhhh."

Kerry reached down and pulled a blanket from the end of the bed. She draped it carefully over the t-shirt clad blonde then she and Henry went back downstairs to eat. They spent the rest of the evening in Henry's room unpacking and organizing. After his bath and a few stories, Kerry tucked him in and turned off all the lights but one. She didn't want him to wake up in a new place and be scared. She flipped on the baby monitor and with a deep breath she started down the hall to her room and her sleeping blonde.

She looked in on Kim; she was still dead to the world. Only now she was burrowed under the blanket and snoring lightly. Kerry couldn't bear to wake her; she'd worked so hard over the last couple of days. So she headed into the bathroom for her turn in the tub.

After an hour of hydrotherapy Kerry climbed out and dried off. For a moment she thought about just walking in and waking Kim. Instead, she slipped on a t-shirt; made sure the baby monitor was on and crawled into bed. She slid under the covers and slowly moved toward the center of the mattress. Kim's body heat drew her like a magnet. She scooted as close as she could without actually touching the sleeping woman. She didn't want to take liberties while Kim was unconscious.

Kerry stared at her freshly painted ceiling. Despite her exhaustion, she was finding it hard to go to sleep. It was weird having another body in bed after so long alone. That coupled with the strange shadows and noises put Kerry on edge. She could hear Henry moving restlessly in his bed down the hall but he didn't wake up.

She rolled over on her side and stared at the wall of boxes across the room. She couldn't believe she was still awake. She watched the clock for a moment. She heard a soft groan and felt the mattress shift as Kim rolled over and suddenly a long arm snaked its way over Kerry's waist.

Kim pulled Kerry back towards her; she kissed the nape of the redhead's neck. Then, murmuring something unintelligible, Kim tucked her knees behind Kerry's and slid her hand under Kerry's t-shirt. It rested warm on her bare belly but it didn't travel any farther and Kerry realized Kim was still asleep. She lay there for a moment and then it hit her; Kim remembered which side of the bed she preferred. That warmed something deep inside her heart. Safe in Kim's embrace, she was asleep in minutes.

Kerry woke up before Kim the next morning. She'd been getting up early for so long she was used to it. In the night, they'd shifted positions. Kim was now on her back and Kerry was sprawled half on top of her. She had her head on Kim's shoulder, a leg thrown across her thighs and an arm tucked securely around her waist. She could feel the reassuring rise and fall of Kim's chest as she breathed and if she held her breath, Kerry could hear the beat of Kim's heart; she felt tears forming in her eyes.

There were times, after fires, that she'd slept with one hand on Sandy's chest, just to make sure she was still breathing. That fear never quite went away. She and Sandy were well suited physically. `Everything well within reach,' Kerry thought with a smirk. She'd been amazed that anyone so small could even be a fireman but Sandy was like a coiled spring just waiting to explode. She thrived on the physical challenges of her job. And when she wasn't working she expended that energy on a variety of sports teams. Softball, soccer, even basketball, thought she really didn't have the height.

Kim, on the other hand, certainly had the height. She was all long, lean lines and supple grace. But she didn't go in for team sports, Kerry remembered. Kim was a runner, solitary, disciplined. Kerry ran her palm lightly down Kim's side. Two women, vastly different, and yet she loved them both.

Kim's breathing changed and Kerry knew she was about to wake up. She also heard Henry stirring over the baby monitor. She started to slid off the blonde but Kim's hand reached up and clamped her in place. "Where do you think you're going?" she asked sleepily.

"To make breakfast," Kerry said with a smile, leaning up on her elbows to look at the blonde.

"Breakfast?" Kim looked around the room, now visible in the obviously morning light.

Kim whimpered.

Alarmed, Kerry started to move off Kim, "Are you still sore?"

Kim tightened her grip on the redhead, not letting her move. "No, I fell asleep," Kim whined. "I can't believe I fell asleep on our first night together. I am such a loser." She flung her arm over her eyes in embarrassment.

Kerry laughed and removed Kim's arm from her eyes. "You are not a loser. You worked damn hard yesterday. And the day before and I, for one, am extremely grateful." She slid over on top of the blonde fully and wiggled suggestively.

"Yeah, I was counting on exploiting your gratitude last night," Kim said wryly.

"It's not a one time deal, sweetie. I'll always be grateful to you. Besides, maybe we should wait `til you're fully rested." Kerry leaned down and kissed Kim gently.

"If you want to wait you better stop doing that," Kim said, her voice husky but not from sleep. "Tonight?" she added hopefully.

"Tonight's Janet's party," Kerry reminded her.

Kim whimpered again. "We could always skip it," she said desperately.

Kerry kissed her lightly on the sternum. Kim closed her eyes, concentrating on the gentle caress.

"No we can't. They're your friends and we've already accepted," Kerry said just before she slid her lips teasingly up Kim's neck. "Besides, after today we have the next three days off. Together."

Kim's eye's popped open. "How did you manage that?"

"I'm the boss, remember. I just checked your schedule and adjusted mine accordingly.

Kim chuckled low in her throat. "I do love a devious woman." She stretched up and captured Kerry's lips in a kiss.

The door burst open startling both women. Henry came running into the bedroom and jumped up on the bed. He crawled over to where the two women were lying. He jumped on top of the pile.

"Ooof!" Kim's breath whooshed out. "Hey you two, a little consideration," she mock growled. She rolled over and dumped both mother and son on the other side of the bed. She started to tickle Henry.

"Do you give up?"

Henry laughed and shouted "I give up!"

Kim stopped tickling him and he snuggled down between the two women. Then he looked over at his mother. "Bweakfast?"

Kerry said gruffly, "I see how you two are. You're the tickle queen and I'm the scullery maid." But she leaned over and kissed her son on the cheek. "I'll go get Henry dressed and start breakfast. Come on down when you're ready."

Half an hour later Kim came downstairs in her running gear. She did a few stretches at the base of the stairs just to work out the kinks. Then she went searching for the Weavers.

She found them in the kitchen. Henry was eating oatmeal at the table while Kerry was slicing some fresh fruit. As she approached the counter Kerry handed her a cup of coffee which she accepted gratefully. "I'm so sorry for falling asleep last night," she apologized sheepishly.

Kerry waved away her concern. "I'm sorry for working you so hard," she said. "Want some breakfast?"

"Not right now, I need to go run a little bit, work out the knots. After?"

"Of course. What time do you have to be at work?"

"I'm working nine to six today," Kim said, taking a careful sip of hot coffee.

"Great, we have plenty of time."

Kim took that as an invitation. She leaned in and kissed Kerry soundly.

"We don't have that much time," Kerry complained, when she was could catch her breath.

Kim sat down on the bottom step to put on her running shoes. Henry came running out of the kitchen to watch. "Me go too," he said. He ran to the foyer and grabbed his shoes and ran back to Kim. "Me too," he repeated. He sat down on the stair beside Kim and tried to put on his shoes.

Kerry came in from the kitchen. "No Henry. Kim's going running. You can't go. Come finish breakfast."

Henry stuck out his bottom lip stubbornly. "Me too," he yelled. He looked at Kim beseechingly.

Kerry could see Kim's resolve faltering in the face of aggressive toddler pouting. "No, Henry," she repeated firmly. "You can't go today."

Frustrated, Henry threw his shoe down and then started to cry. Kerry picked him up and carried him back into the kitchen.

She came back a few minutes later. Kim was still sitting on the step. She looked like she wanted to cry too. "I thought you were going running?"

"I could just take him for a walk," Kim said.

"Kim, honey, go run. He's okay. He can't always get his way, you know."

"But Kerry…"

"Kim, go run." Kerry's patience was wearing thin. She didn't need two tantrums this early in the morning.

Kim nodded. She didn't need two Weavers mad at her, not this early in the morning. She hopped up and kissed Kerry before she headed out the door. She'd run two miles when she got a brilliant idea. Now, if she could just find one in stock somewhere on her lunch hour.

The phone rang as Kerry was getting ready to leave work. She looked down at her caller id. It was Kim's extension, which explained why Kim wasn't in her office where she was supposed to be. She grabbed the phone "Hey babe, where are you? We're supposed to leave at 6."

"I know; I'm sorry. I'm stuck here for at least another hour. And then I have an errand to run."

Kerry could hear the frustration in Kim's voice.

"You wouldn't believe the day I've had. It never fails, the one day I need to leave on time and I can't," Kim said plaintively. "And today started out so terrific. Waking up under a warm redhead is my favorite way to wake up."

"I'm pretty fond of it myself," Kerry said.

"I know we were going to go together but do you want to just meet at Janet's?" Kim asked. She didn't want Kerry waiting for who knows how long for her to get off work.

"I don't mind waiting for you."

"I know, but I don't want Henry missing the fun. Sharon always hires a magician for the kids. I'll run home, change and meet you there as soon as I can get away."

"Okay, we'll see you there," Kerry said. "Oh, and Kim?"


Kerry hesitated a moment. "I love you," she finally said. "I just needed to tell you that. I wanted to tell you this morning but you rushed out so fast."

Kim held her breath as a jolt of pure happiness rushed through her. She didn't know whether to laugh or cry. "I love you too, Ker. I'll see you soon."

Almost three hours later, Kim was finally walking up the sidewalk to Janet's house. The place was lit up like a Christmas tree and there was music spilling over from the back yard. Cars lined the street on both sides and Kim saw Kerry's van halfway down the block. Her heart skipped a beat and she realized she was well and truly smitten if the sight of an American car could do that. She wanted to run up the front steps but her three-inch, spike heels kept her pace slow and steady. Maybe it was for the best, her rigidly conventional girlfriend might not appreciate it if she rushed in, picked her up and kissed the bejesus out of her in the middle of a party full of their colleagues.

Kim was chuckling at that image as she let herself in the front door. She was immediately pulled into the costumed crowd. She said hello to several people she knew but she didn't stop to talk. She was a woman on a mission.

Kim heard Kerry before she saw her. She was talking to Dyson, damn it. Still, she could appreciate the subtle humor of Kerry's costume.

"Wicked witch of the west? Aren't you afraid of being typecast?" Kim asked wryly. She strolled leisurely up to the redhead in the green makeup. She planted herself squarely in front of Kerry deliberately invading her personal space.

"Kim, honey, you're here," Kerry said with a breathtaking smile. She reached out for Kim's hand. "Everything okay at the hospital?"

Kim pulled Kerry closer. "Yes, everything is fine with your precious hospital," she said with a slightly grumpy pout that lasted until Kerry reached up and kissed her gently on the cheek. Her good humor restored, Kim turned to Dyson and said hello.

Dyson appeared slightly shocked and more than a little disappointed. Kim gloated internally and made hospital small talk until Dyson went off in search of more available prey.

Kerry leaned on her crutch, which was artfully disguised as a broom, and gave Kim's costume the once over. "And you are?"

"Can't you guess?"

Kim was wearing a sleek black dress that hugged her in all the right places. It was sleeveless, virtually backless and just short enough to display an inspiring length of leg. She'd pinned dozens of small notes all over the dress.

Kim fingered a note pinned just above her left breast. She slowly slid open the fold. Kerry leaned in for a better look. "Undermine western civilization." Kim didn't miss Kerry's lingering glance at her décolletage before she focused on the note.

Kerry ran a finger under her collar. Was it hot in here? "I think I need another clue."

Kim arched an eyebrow provocatively and then lifted the flap on the note above her right breast. Kerry gulped and then carefully focused on the note. "Recruit your wives, sons and daughters."

Kim could tell that Kerry still didn't understand. Of course, if the glazed look in her eyes was any indication, all her blood wasn't going to her brain.

Kim pivoted slowly. She had more notes on the back of her dress, what there was of it. She smirked when she heard Kerry's small gasp of appreciation.

"Get it now?" she asked.

"What?" Kerry cleared her throat.

"My costume, do you get it now?"

Kerry cleared her throat again and forced her focus away from the smooth expanse of Kim's bare back. Her fingers itched to touch the tantalizing display of flesh. Instead, she read a few more of the notes. She started to chuckle. "Look fabulous. Ask and tell. You're the gay agenda."

Kim pivoted again, laughing. "Yep." She loved the way laughter brought out the green in Kerry's eyes. Or maybe it was the green face paint. Either way she looked lovely.

"Trying to win best costume?" Feeling daring, Kerry fingered a note on Kim's dress. "It's funny and yet topical," she complimented.

"And sexy, don't forget sexy," Kim with a smile.

Kerry jerked her eyes up from Kim's cleavage again. "Don't worry, I won't," she mumbled under her breath.

Kim smirked at that response but changed the subject. It was a little too early to bring out the big guns…so to speak. "So where's Henry Lopez Weaver, Esquire? What's his costume?" She looked around for the little tyke. There were some great kid's costumes this year. She was little disturbed by the sheer number of Sponge Bob's but they all seemed to be getting along.

Kerry led Kim over to the children's area. She pointed out Henry's small form. He was having trouble walking in his elf slippers.

Kim looked at Kerry dubiously. "You dressed him as a munchkin?"

Kerry laughed. "Well I considered a flying monkey but thought that might lead to therapy in later life." Kim rolled her eyes at that.

"Besides, the munchkins are his favorite characters. Maybe because they're small?" she said speculatively.

Off duty, Kim seldom considered the psychological ramifications of identification with movie characters and she wasn't about to start this evening. She had other plans. `I'll get you my pretty! And your little boy too!' She chuckled. If only it were that easy.

"I'm going to go get a drink. Can I get you anything?" Seductions were easier with liquor, although she knew from past experience that Kerry could drink her under the table. She also knew that seduction was unnecessary. Maybe she just needed a shot of liquid courage. She was nervous and she wasn't sure how she was going to work around Henry but he had to go to bed sometime, right?

"Some juice would be great, thanks," Kerry said.

"Okay, don't move I'll be right back." Kim kissed her lightly on the cheek and then waded into the crowd. She made her way over to the bar detouring briefly to say hello to Sharon and Janet. She grabbed a glass of wine and an orange juice and headed back to where she left Kerry. She wasn't there. "Damn!"

Kim wandered around a minute before she thought to look in the kids section. She wasn't surprised to find Kerry with Henry. Henry had obviously been crying.

"Hey you two, what's going on?"

Kerry looked up from where she was kneeling. "He and a little ghost got into a tiff but they're both okay."

Kim set the drinks she was holding on a nearby table. She knelt down beside Henry, which wasn't easy to do in her tight dress and high heels. "Are you okay, kiddo?"

Henry nodded tearfully.

"I think someone's overtired. It's well past his bedtime," Kerry said. "We should probably head home."

Kim nodded and stood up carefully; she picked Henry up. He put his arms around her neck and rested his head on her shoulder. "You ready?" she asked Kerry.

"Kim, you just got here. Don't you want to stay for awhile, spend some time with your friends?"

"Nope," Kim said with certainty. "I'd rather spend some time with my loved ones. You ready to go home?"

Kerry nodded.

Kim started forward and then stopped suddenly. "Wait a sec." She kicked off her high heels. "That's better, not to mention, safer," she said.

Kerry bent down and grabbed Kim's heels. "I'll just take these. They might come in handy later," she said flirtatiously. "Have I mentioned how fabulous you look in that outfit?"

Kim smirked and held out her elbow. "Thank you, now I believe you said something about making a statement." Kerry took the hint and looped her arm through Kim's and they started to wend their way to the front door.

Kerry stepped aside for a moment to say good bye to their hosts. Janet shot Kim a knowing grin; Sharon settled for a wink. Kim rolled her eyes at the both of them and soon they were in their cars and headed toward Kerry's.

Kerry pulled her car into the garage and Kim pulled up in the driveway behind her. She grabbed her overnight bag and strolled into the garage before Kerry closed the door. She wanted to make sure they entered the house through the garage entrance. She opened the back door of the van and quickly unbuckled Henry's seat belts.

He leaped out of the van and into Kim's waiting arms. "Is this a jamaparty?" he asked.

Kim blushed but answered truthfully. "Yes Henry, it is."

Henry nodded and smiled happily. "Good."

Kim set him down safely on the ground and picked up her bag. She followed the Weavers inside.

Kerry flipped on a few lights and started up the stairs with Henry in tow. Kim looked around; some the boxes were gone. "Wow, Kerry, you've made some progress in here."

Kerry looked a little sheepish. "I had some nervous energy to work off after you left this morning," she admitted. It was the first indication that Kerry might be nervous too. It soothed Kim's anxiety which had been growing exponentially since they left the party.

"I'm going to get the munchkin ready for bed; make yourself at home. There's wine in the fridge if you'd like some," she said over her shoulder.

Kim nodded and watched as mother and child climbed their way to the top floor. She kicked off her shoes for the second time that night and set her overnight bag at the foot of the stairs as she made her way to the kitchen.

She had to search through three boxes but she finally found the wineglasses. Now if she could just find a corkscrew. After another fifteen minutes spent fruitlessly searching, she pulled out the pocket knife attached to her car keys and used the corkscrew on it. `Low tech, but effective,' she thought.

She gathered up the wine bottle, the glasses and her bag and started up the stairs. She peeked in the master bedroom. It was empty. She dropped her bag inside the door and set everything else down on the dresser. Suddenly nervous, she sat down on the bed. She was surprised when Henry came dashing into the room. He was wearing superman pajamas and looked unbelievably cute. He hopped up on the bed and threw his arms around her and kissed her soundly on the cheek.

Kerry popped her head in the door. "Say goodnight Henry. It's time for bed," she said pointedly.

"G'night," he said. He gave her a big hug but he didn't let go.

"Henry, let's go to bed," Kerry said again.

Henry looked up at Kim. "Story?"

"You little schemer," Kim said with a laugh. "Okay, I'll read you a story. But just one," she said firmly. She stood up and carried Henry over to where Kerry was standing in the doorway.

"I'll tuck him in," she offered as she leaned down and kissed Kerry gently on the cheek. Henry leaned down from his perch in Kim's arms and kissed his mother just as Kim had.

"G'night Mama," Henry said.

"Good night baby," Kerry replied. She kissed Henry again and then watched as Kim carried him off to bed.

She saw the overhead light go off in his room but the soft glow of his nightlight spilled out into the hallway. She could tell when Kim switched on the baby monitor and she walked into her bathroom listening to Kim reading to her son.

Kerry bent over the sink and slathered on cold cream. The green make up had been a bitch to put on; she hoped it came off a lot easier. She walked back into the bedroom and saw the wine. She poured them each a glass and then took hers when she went back into the bathroom. She rinsed off the cold cream and looked in the mirror. Damn, she was still green in places.

`Great, nothing says sexy like Kermit the frog,' she thought. She put on more cold cream and went back into the bedroom to take off her costume. She reached behind and tugged on the zipper. It slid about halfway and stopped. She tugged harder. It didn't budge. She tried to lift the gown over her head, it wouldn't come off. `Damn it,' she thought. `So much for smooth and seductive, let's hope she goes for green, greasy and pathetic.' She sighed and gave in to the inevitable.

"Hey Kim could you give me a hand?" Kerry called down the hall before she walked back into the bathroom.

Kim was congratulating herself on successfully putting Henry to sleep with just one story as she walked into the bedroom. It was empty. She heard Kerry muttering in the adjoining bathroom. She strolled into the room and sized up the situation immediately. Kerry's zipper was stuck. She was bent over wrestling with it.

"Hey babe, need some help?" Kim asked.

Kerry shot upright and nodded. Kim approached slowly, determined to take her time. Unlike their first-first encounter, when they'd ended up having sex on her couch on their first real date, she wanted to savor this experience.

Kerry turned her back to Kim and the blonde reached out and ran her fingers very slowly down the small area of skin that was already exposed. She could see the goose bumps as they formed and she felt Kerry shudder. When her fingers encountered the defiant zipper she tugged firmly. As if aware that Kim wasn't to be denied, the zipper gave way easily and Kim lowered it slowly. The teeth parted revealing inch upon inch of warm, soft skin. The zipper ended just above the enticing curve of Kerry's ass. Kim reached out to touch the tempting display; she realized her hands were shaking.

She paused for a moment and flexed her fingers to regain some control. She slid a hand under each side of the parted fabric and skimmed her palms up Kerry's sides. Sliding her arms around Kerry's waist, she pulled the redhead back toward her. Kim bent her head and kissed the now exposed skin of Kerry's shoulder. Kerry tilted her head, offering more of her skin for Kim's attention. Kim nuzzled the nape of Kerry's neck and worked her way up to the soft spot just underneath the redhead's ear. She suckled that spot lightly; it was a mutual favorite. She was rewarded with a breathy moan.

Kim smiled, delighted that some things hadn't changed. She nuzzled Kerry's hair and then gently turned the redhead around. More than anything Kim wanted to look at her.

Kerry smiled up at her. Even through the film of cold cream, Kim could see the love in Kerry's eyes.

"If you give me a moment, I'll clean this off," Kerry said.

"Allow me," Kim requested. She reached for a washcloth and dampened it lightly. She gently and thoroughly wiped off all traces of the cream, kissing each area as she finished. Task completed she tossed the cloth over her shoulder into the sink.

Kerry grabbed the thin straps of Kim's dress and pulled the blonde closer; it was her turn to take the lead. She slid her hands lower and cupped Kim's breasts firmly. Through the sheer fabric she could feel Kim's nipples harden. "Do you have any idea what this dress is doing to me?" Kerry asked hoarsely.

Kim tilted her head back, enjoying the sensation. "No, what's it doing?"

Kerry brushed her thumbs over Kim's nipples. She welcomed the shudder that followed. "It's driving me crazy," she whispered desperately. She stretched up and kissed Kim roughly. Breaking the kiss abruptly, she slid her tongue down the cleft of Kim's breasts. While Kim was distracted Kerry slipped her hands around Kim's body and found the zipper low on the back of Kim's dress. She forced it down as she slid her hands under the impossibly tight fabric. She thought she heard a seam rip but she didn't care. She gripped Kim's ass and pulled the blonde in tighter. Freeing one hand she tugged the already low front of Kim's dress even lower and then, bending slightly, she began to devour one of Kim's now exposed breasts.

`So much for slow.' Kim thought, `Just like the first time.'

Kerry teased Kim's nipple with her teeth. Kim moaned and, for a moment, she lost the ability to form a cogent thought. When it returned she said, "Kerry, I need to lie down."

Kerry switched her attentions to Kim's other breast.

"Bed, Kerry. Please," Kim said almost frantically. She didn't know how much longer she could stand up.

Kerry inhaled sharply and pulled away from the blonde. "I could fuck you right here," she offered with feral intensity. Recognizing the blonde's distress, she switched gears, "but you're right, bed would be more comfortable. Especially since we're going to be there awhile," she predicted with a telling glance down Kim's lean frame.

Kim gasped at the implication and wondered when exactly she'd lost control of the encounter. She decided she didn't care as Kerry spun her around and gently pushed her forward. She tried not to rush into the bedroom, it would be so undignified. Instead, she slowed her pace and added a deliberate sway to her hips as she moved toward the bed.

It worked. Before she even reached the bed Kerry had a hand on Kim's ass. She stopped the blonde before she could sit down on the mattress. "Take your dress off," she ordered. Kerry stepped back a step to watch.

Kim blushed but did as she was told. She slipped a finger under the right strap and pushed if off her shoulder slowly. She did the same on the left side. She shimmied out of the tight dress and smiled at Kerry's gasp of appreciation for her lack of undergarments. "Now you," Kim requested.

It took Kerry two seconds to climb out of her costume and toss it blindly toward the chair in the corner. Kim was impressed with her speed but before she could fully appreciate the sight, Kerry was moving toward her with determination. Kim met her fully and minutes later she found herself on her back, in bed and she couldn't remember how she got there. Kerry's mouth on her breast was making it decidedly difficult to think. And when Kerry headed south, Kim gave up trying to think completely. She was too busy concentrating on just drawing breath.

"God, Kerry, nobody does that like you do. That was soooo good. I don't think I can move," Kim said, gulping air half an hour later. The redhead was sprawled on top of her and Kim pulled her even closer.

Kerry chuckled and nuzzled Kim's chin. "Haven't lost my touch?"

"God no!" Kim wrapped her arms around the sweat slippery body atop her and squeezed.

"So I don't need more practice?" Kerry asked archly.

Kim inhaled again deeply and then rolled Kerry over. She pushed up on her elbows and peered down at the redhead. "Practice is always good but if you get any better it may kill me," she said with a smile.

"But what a way to go," they both said simultaneously then they broke into giggles.

Gazing down at Kerry, Kim slowly stopped laughing. She carefully examined the face of her beloved; it bore the subtle changes of the passing years. There were a few more lines around those expressive green eyes, eyes shining with joy at the moment. But Kerry's expression also bore the trace of some ineffable sadness, a deep and abiding wound that might never completely heal.

With deliberate care, Kim set aside lingering jealousies and embraced the fullness of Kerry's life to this moment. Kim knew that while there was so much she'd missed there was so much still to come. And she knew without doubt, without fear, without regret that she would be the one sharing the rest of the journey. Kim kissed her like they had all the time in the world.

Kim lay her head down on Kerry's chest and said, "She was right."

"Who?" Kerry asked with a throaty growl, "who was right?" She was starting to lose herself again in the physical sensations. She needed to find some solid ground. She pulled Kim's head back roughly to look into her eyes before diving back in for another kiss.

When they finally broke away to breathe, Kim explained in a throaty whisper. "Dorothy…Dorothy was right." She trailed kisses up Kerry's neck. The smell of Kerry's cold cream, shampoo and perfume was driving her crazy but she restrained herself. When she got to Kerry's ear she whispered, "There's no place like home."

Epilogue--And They Lived Happily Ever After

The next morning, Kim was sitting on the steps putting on her running shoes. Henry came out of the kitchen and sat down beside her, pout already in place. "Why so glum, kiddo?" she asked.

Henry just stuck out his bottom lip. Kim bumped him gently with her shoulder. "Want to come with?"

Henry looked up at her. "Please."

Kim smiled. "Let's go." She stood up. "Kerry, we're going jogging," she yelled down the hall. She wasn't surprised to hear the rapid beat of a crutch on hardwood as Kerry rushed into the hallway.


"Henry and I are going jogging." Kim smiled her canary eating smile and opened the front door. Sitting on the front porch was a brand new, top of the line jogging stroller.


"It's never too early to learn the value of regular exercise. Not to mention the benefits of fresh air and vitamin D," she said reasonably. The strange look on the redhead's face made her suddenly fear that she'd over stepped some boundary. `Maybe I should have cleared this with her first,' she thought just a little late.

"That's true," Kerry responded dubiously.

"Let's go!" Henry was growing impatient. He tugged on Kim's shorts.

Kim looked at Kerry for permission. The redhead nodded slowly so Kim grabbed the helmet hanging from the handle. "See, we have all the important safety equipment."

She stooped down in front of Henry and held out the helmet. He grabbed it eagerly with both hands and put it on his head. Backwards. This made Kerry laugh; she couldn't help it.

Kerry stooped down and adjusted the helmet. She pulled the straps tight and buckled it under Henry's chin. She thumped him on the helmet lightly. "Ready?"

He nodded eagerly. Kim manhandled the stroller down the steps and then Henry climbed in. Kerry buckled the seatbelt.

Henry waved at his mother and Kim took off down the sidewalk. She walked for about half a mile and then gradually increased her speed. She wondered how long she'd have to run before the redhead forgave her.

Kerry was waiting anxiously on the steps for them when they got back. Kim pushed the stroller up to the edge of the steps and Kerry unbuckled her son and lifted him out of the stroller. His face was glowing. He'd obviously had a great time.

"Okay, boy-o. That was the fun part. It's time for your exercise now," Kim said. She grabbed his hand and they ran around the front yard together. Henry was watching Kim carefully and tried to match everything she did. They made three full laps before Henry got tired. "Now we can stop," she said, leading him back to where Kerry was waiting.

"I jogged, Mama. Didja see me?" Henry was so proud Kerry couldn't help but be delighted too.

Kim was hovering with a worried look on her face but Kerry smiled up at her and suddenly everything was okay. Kim plopped herself down by Kerry and tried not to drip sweat on her. Pushing that stroller added quite a bit to her workout. Not to mention she didn't get much sleep last night. She grinned to herself.

Kerry reached backwards and pulled out a towel and a bottle of water. She handed them to Kim and was rewarded with a brief kiss. Too brief, Kerry decided, leaning in for a slightly longer and more rewarding connection. She nuzzled Kim's neck briefly. "Mmmmm, sweaty blonde," she whispered in Kim's ear. "My favorite."

Kim flushed, and not entirely from the exercise. She wanted to take Kerry upstairs for another sort of workout but there was Henry to consider. He was now sitting at her feet, playing with her towel and drinking her water. She wondered what time he took his nap. She leaned back on the steps, content to wait. Kerry was always worth the wait.

Kim nudged the stroller with her toe. "We can also use it for walks. Down to the park, the little market on the corner, the bookstore two blocks from here. You know… family stuff," she said with passably faked sang-froid.

Kerry looked at Kim and smiled brilliantly. "Family stuff, huh? I love the sound of that."

The End

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