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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

In the Kingdom of the Blind
By Susan P


"Abby, you wanted a Social Services consult on that sprained ankle, um, Westlake?"

The young nurse all but jumped at the sound of the Chief's voice, even though she had spoken softly. She hadn't expected Weaver to bounce back so quickly after what had happened earlier. She had even considered consulting another attending, but decided against it, not willing to make herself a target for the Chief's bad mood.

"Um. Yeah."

"You said there was domestic violence involved?"

"Yeah." Abby was surprised that Weaver remembered anything she'd said to her at the time, since she was so obviously caught up in some kind of drama with that firefighter. Not to mention whatever was going on with her and Chen.

"You're sure?"

"As sure as I can be without having watched him do it. They're in the apartment next to mine. The walls are thin. He was beating the hell out of her this morning." She took a long breath. "I called the cops, but...she wouldn't press charges."

"And you think she's ready to take that step now?"

"Iiiiii'mm not sure," Abby shook her head. "Maybe. I just..."

"You want to try to help her."

"Ye-ah." Abby wondered if it sounded as foolish to Dr. Weaver as it suddenly did to her.

Kerry nodded. "Okay." She grabbed a form, signed the bottom of it and held it out toward Abby. "Write the order. Give it a shot." She hesitated a moment, then added. "I'm sorry about earlier. I was..."

"A little distracted?"

Kerry looked a little embarrassed at that. "Uh, yeah. But, not... This thing with Ch-- Well, I was just feeling a little...territorial, I guess."

"No. You were right. She's your patient."

"But you had information I didn't."

Abby just shrugged. She started to move off down the corridor, but then took a quick look to make sure no one was within earshot before turning back. "Um, Dr. Weaver?"

Kerry looked up at her, but didn't say anything.

"Um, you probably don't want to talk about this..." She wasn't even sure why she was asking, except that she couldn't remember seeing Kerry that close to tears since the day Carter and Lucy got stabbed. "But. Are you...okay?"

Kerry didn't respond right away and, while she knew she should've taken the chance to escape, her mouth couldn't seem to resist the urge to fill the silence. "I mean, you seemed a little...upset, earlier, and I just... If you need..."

Kerry smiled at her. "I'll be okay, Abby."

It didn't quite answer the question she had asked. Abby almost took it as the dismissal it was meant to be. Maybe she should have, but she didn't. "It's just that... Sometimes you just need to know there are options. Sometimes you just need someone to tell you things can be different. Maybe that's what Joyce needs to hear--that she doesn't have to take it any more. And you... Well, people don't... You don't...get a lot of support around here, usually. And sometimes you take your frustration out on us, but mostly you shoulder it alone. I know you don't talk about yourself much, around here, but... Sometimes you need to. Sometimes, at the end of a really crappy day you just...need someone to be there. To listen or to talk to you. To pay attention and maybe even...keep you from doing... Something... Stupid..."

Kerry looked surprised. "You think I might do something stupid?"

"I don't know," Abby replied a little too quickly. "But sometimes you never know what you're gonna do until you just...find yourself...doing it."

There must've been something about the way she'd said it, or the way she'd looked when she said it, because Kerry focused in on her, eyes narrowing.

"Abby. Are you still talking about me?" she asked suspiciously.

"Um..." Abby ran a hand through her hair, not sure why she was even tempted to say what was on her mind. What had been on her mind since...

Again, her mouth ran away with her better judgment, though she did have the presence of mind to scan the area for anyone who might overhear.

"My birthday was last week, and... It turned out to be a really, really bad day. The details aren't all that important, but I went home after a day that began with listening to the Westlakes fight and during which I had to confront a couple of my nastier demons, and when I finally made it home that night, there was Joyce Westlake hiding out in the lobby, afraid to be alone in her own apartment--with him. She needed company, and I did too, I guess, but it wasn't quite the same--I barely know her. She offered me a beer. And it was so easy to just...take it, and then it was so easy to...take a drink...and then another..."

She stopped short as the look of understanding that came over Kerry's face made it all too clear what she had just done.

"And... I can't believe I just told you that." She looked down, rubbed a hand across her forehead and through her hair and forced herself to look Weaver in the eye again.

She wasn't sure what she was seeing in the redhead's eyes, but it wasn't quite what she had expected to see, somehow.

"How long..." Weaver paused as someone passed by, "had it been?" She left the question vague. She spoke softly, not in the 'Chief' voice that Abby half-expected to hear, but in the voice she used with patients, and sometimes with staff. It was the voice she had used when she asked about Maggie.

"Six years."

"And how are you doing, now?"

She reached out to rub Abby's arm, but seemed to think better of it as soon as she touched the other woman and let her hand fall away almost immediately. Abby watched the change and was left feeling the need to reassure the other woman on two counts.

"Okay, I think. A few extra meetings, a few conversations with my sponsor over bad coffee." Her lips caught somewhere between a grin and a grimace. "I guess I should've called her that day, but I thought, 'I'll just go home, take a hot bath, try not to think about it.' I didn't expect to find temptation waiting for me in my lobby."

Kerry just nodded in understanding.

Abby went on, before she could find a reason not to say it. "Dr. Weaver," she caught Kerry's gaze and held it, "I'm not afraid of you." She paused, canted her head to one side. "Well, I am, sometimes, but not because of that."

There was relief, and something considerably more dangerous, in Kerry's eyes, but she didn't reply.

Again, Abby rushed in to fill the silence, wondering if this would be the time her mouth really got her in trouble. "Anyway, the whole point of this is to let you know... Well, I might not be your first choice or anything, but... If you need someone to talk to." She made a face and mumbled ironically, "Or just to sit there and babble long enough to distract you." Weaver rewarded her effort with the hint of a smile and she continued, "Well...maybe I'd be better than no one. I won't... I can be discreet."

Kerry nodded. "Okay." She thought a moment, then added, "I can be discreet, too, Abby. And if you ever need someone... Better me than a mixed-up neighbor or a..."

Or a bottle, Abby filled in mentally. "Yeah. Thanks."

They stood looking at one another for a moment.

Abby spoke again, not quite willing to walk away from the conversation yet. "Um. I'm off at five..." she left the question hanging.

"Yeah. Me, too, but I think there's someone else I need to talk to tonight." Her expression hardened for a moment, but she took a deep breath and shook it off. "Unless you need..."

Abby shook her head, "No. I'm okay."

"Okay." Kerry studied her shoes for a moment. "Abby." She looked up reluctantly. "You're convinced about what...what you saw...meant?"

It was probably as close as Kerry could get, at the moment, to asking the question outright.

Abby hedged a little. "Well, I don't know any details, of course. But what I saw looked pretty...um, intense, and... I've noticed some things this past year, but didn't really think about them at the time... Well, things just kind of fell into place. I guess I wasn't as surprised by it as I could've been."

Despite dancing around it a little, she'd left little room to doubt what she and now probably the rest of the ER staff were thinking about that kiss.

Kerry blew out a long breath. "Okay."

Abby sensed it was time to escape, if she could, and let Weaver ponder that on her own. "Well, I should call Social Services and get back to Joyce."

Kerry nodded, "Yeah."

Abby had already turned away when Kerry called after her again.


"Yeah," she turned back.

"Thank you for..." She made a vague gesture with her left hand, which still clutched a chart. "Thank you."

Abby smiled back at her. "Anytime, Dr. Weaver."

Then they both went back to their respective duties.

The End

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