DISCLAIMER: Not mine. I promise I'm only borrowing them and will return them to their rightful owners whenever they ask for them back. My imagination took a flight of fancy.....my bank account stayed empty. (Not mine, no profit, just some day-dreaming I wrote down - everything belongs to NBC, Warner Bros and anyone else who has a stake in this televisual monument).
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I watched ER a bit when it was 'new' but hadn't ever really thought about it in a fandom sort of sense. In the last few weeks thanks to youtube, some reading of stories here and on Passion & Perfection and a few episodes from Google Play, I've rediscovered the Kerry/Sandy pairing and the urge to write. I'm not sure where the muses will go, or for how long, but I'm just pleased to be writing again. Please pardon any slight wrinkles with canon (such as which doctors are around and whether they're residents/attendings etc), medical stuff (including show jargon) I'm neither medically trained nor familiar with US healthcare beyond what I pick up from watching a few episodes of a few US medical shows over the years. I'm not writing in this fandom because of the medicine, but because of the characters. Original characters are my own invention. My knowledge of Chicago and its fire services is practically nil, with what little I have learned coming from the fleeting insights on ER itself and the occasional episode of Chicago Fire. My knowledge of Chicago and its healthcare/emergency medical services is limited to what little I have learned from watching some episodes of ER. I have tried to write scenes that 'sound' plausible but this is in no way an attempt at a procedural story - rather, it is (hopefully) an insight into a relationship, with the professional context just that, a piece of context or scenery. I hope therefore, that for the general reader, disbelief can be suspended and the narrative enjoyed. The characterisation of Kerry is an interesting one for me - compared to much of the character's screen time in across the 12/13 seasons that the character of Kerry Weaver appears, the Kerry Weaver I write could be deemed a little out of character. HOWEVER, my muse and I would like to submit as evidence the couple of very short scenes (regrettably in episodes that also contain some of the canon relationship's most harrowing) in which Kerry is not appearing as 'Dr Weaver' but as the girl who loves the gal who happens to fight fire. I have tried to stay true to that facet of Kerry's canon character when writing about the girl who loves the gal who happens to fight fire, rather than the Doctor or 'at work' persona we the viewer were more often shown. Show canon has left me slightly confused as to what exactly Sandy's training qualifies her for - she's clearly a Lieutenant, works at stationhouse 38, is the only female in Company B, doesn't dispute being called a 'fire fighter', works Search and Rescue (on her helmet badge in the rainstorm) and yet would also appear to work paramedic shifts (she comes in as what appears to be 3rd paramedic with a a team bringing in a boy with his foot in a toilet) but I've not found clear references anywhere to confirm what the show writers actually intended. I've therefore 'borrowed' from Chicago Fire in terms of what is possible as a set of qualifications. Peter Mills is shown as a member of SAR (consistent with Sandy) but also takes over when an extra/alternate paramedic is needed. So I've gone with that. If anyone reading this happens to be an expert on CFD 'stuff' (I'm English, Fire and Ambulance are two totally different branches of public service for us) and would like to educate me further, I'd love to learn! I've read a lot over the years that is set in firehouses (fanfic and original fiction) - all of that reading has influenced my imagination, so thank you to all those authors whose writing clearly left an impression. If there's any similarity of plot or scenario, please accept this as a respectful homage and what I hope could be accepted as a worthy addition to the trope. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy...
SPOILERS: Not really (I'm not sure anything can be spoiled when it's more than a decade since original broadcast?) but some references will make more sense (and be recognisable as 'in joke' type references) if you are familiar with the Kerry/Sandy story arc season 8 and 9 certainly (not sure about 10).
WARNING: WARNING: Does include a couple of swear words and reference to a very harsh homophobic insult (yup, the s8ep3 one...)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To ncruuk[at]gmail.com
Moments in a Life Just Ordinary
Satisfied that the coffee machine was working, Sandy picked up one of the pairs of sports socks she'd left on the counter and, hopping from one foot to another, pulled them on before slipping back into her bed.
"You don't have to do that you know "
"I thought you were asleep?"
"And miss the cute dancing?" teased Kerry, turning her head as she tried to snuggle even more deeply into the pillow whilst looking at Sandy.
"I'm not cute " grumbled Sandy good-naturedly as she propped herself up on one arm, taking care to ensure the duvet and blanket hadn't been too disturbed by her movements in and out of bed.
"Cute and sweet," corrected Kerry, playfully tapping Sandy on her nose as if punctuating every word.
"I'm not sweet "
"And kind and thoughtful," continued Kerry, this time stroking her lover's nose with each word, only for said finger to be caught between Sandy's quick lips and held captive by gentle teeth as Sandy carefully rolled forwards so she was lying across Kerry's body, her body braced by her arms that were now slipping under the pillow and her legs that were instinctively settling between girlfriend's legs.
"Good morning." Sandy's voice had a low, husky quality to it that was only going to get huskier if Kerry continued caressing her cheek and jaw like that.
"Good morning, what time's your shift?" Not the most romantic question to start the day with, but an important one given the unpredictability of their respective work patterns.
"12, for 12. You?" Sandy was proud of her ability to concentrate, given that Kerry's other hand, the hand which was strong and calloused from the years of holding her crutch, was starting to explore her lower back in ways which were surprisingly stimulating.
"Tuesday four days off."
"Shit, it's Friday already? Damn!" Kerry's answer brought about a rather unexpected reaction from her lover, whose focus was suddenly pin-sharp and, it seemed, anywhere but on a lazy make out session before the day's start needed to be acknowledged.
"What's on your mind sweetheart?" Ever practical and familiar with how easy it was to lose track of the days of the week when your shifts were all over the place, Kerry started to sit up, gently forcing Sandy to sit down on the bed next to her so that they could sort out this mini-surprise of Sandy's. Whilst the mood had just been broken, if it was at all possible, Kerry was hopeful it could be rediscovered, after whatever it was had been resolved.
"Excuse me?" As unexpected as Sandy's answer was, and despite all her years in the ER, Kerry's first thought was 'at least that's not fatal', unless there was an undiscovered gluten issue lurking somewhere?
"Ah, tonight, at the firehouse, I'm on kitchen duty," explained Sandy, staring resolutely at a point on the bed that was somewhere between her knees and her toes.
"Ah." Kerry tried to remember what Sandy had told her about how the evening meals were handled by the various shifts at the firehouse, "so you're responsible for dinner for the guys? That's what, 20?"
"Yeah, and I forgot. Hendy did pizza last night."
"He can't cook either?" asked Kerry, starting to see what was causing Sandy to be fixated on her shins.
"Nope. When he was a rookie, he went out with his crew when he was on kitchen duty next thing they knew was coming back to the firehouse to discover 22 there on a call out he'd left everything on and his firehouse alarm went off. Ever since he's banned from the cooker," explained Sandy, a small grin fleetingly appearing on her face as she recalled the legend that was her engine driver's burden to bear though his career, "so he orders pizza "
"And it's bad luck to eat the same meal two days straight, I remember," added Kerry, seeing a solution but not sure how it well it would be received.
"So I guess I'll have to order Chinese " sighed Sandy, already dreading the amount of debate that would generate, as everyone in her crew seemed to hate a different take-out in their firehouse district.
"I could cook?"
"Really? Wow! No, babe, I mean " tripping over her words, Sandy spun round so she could look at her lover, " what I mean is, that would be amazing and not something I could ask you to do."
"You're not asking, I'm offering."
"Seriously?" Sandy searched Kerry's face for any indication that she was not completely comfortable with the idea. "I mean, the guys, the firehouse, you there, cooking " Sandy didn't quite know how to finish her thought. Fortunately, Kerry knew exactly what she was thinking.
"It's fine, but let's hold off on the barefoot and pregnant for a bit ok?" joked Kerry, knowing from Sandy's comments that the only people who'd cooked for shifts other than the firefighters themselves were their wives. Kerry cooking a meal for the shift was a far louder and bolder declaration of their relationship and her place in Sandy's life than attending any number of charity days and 'firehouse family' socials would ever be.
"You're amazing," said Sandy simply, looking at her now blushing girlfriend, also recognising that Kerry's remark was not a serious introduction of the topic of children that was a conversation for another day and another time, "truly amazing," she whispered, before leaning in and confirming her admiration with a delicate, long, slow kiss that articulated her feelings far more eloquently than she ever could with words, feelings that took right up until she really had to leave for her shift to fully articulate, not that Kerry was arguing
"Hello?" Belatedly, Kerry was feeling slightly foolish for not thinking to check with Sandy about who was left in the firehouse if all the crews were out on calls. Was she alone? Was there a caretaker she needed to sign in with?
"Dr Weaver?" The voice was quickly followed by its owner, a slightly older, potentially kindly looking woman who Kerry immediately recognised as being the firehouse matriarch whilst not trained in the skills required to fight fire she was clearly right at home and, within her sphere and specialisms, very much in charge.
"Yes." Feeling the scrutiny, Kerry made a point of standing tall but relaxed, her hand resting on her crutch but not taking any of her weight, able therefore to smoothly reach out to shake a hand should it be offered.
"Evelyn Relhart, the Lieutenant told me you were coming by tonight." Whilst the words were formal and the body language remote, Kerry sensed that there was a kind woman underneath the façade, whose discovery was earned and not volunteered, much like it was like for new doctors when meeting experienced and established nurses for the first time.
"I hope I'm not too early," began Kerry, glancing around the deserted vehicle bays, "but I know from Sandy, ah, Lieutenant Lopez, that the usual plan is to have the food ready for 7.30 and since I'm not part of the shift I didn't think I had any reason not to deliver on time." She had no idea what Sandy had said to prepare either Ms Relhart (whoever she was, Kerry currently couldn't remember her ever being mentioned) or the rest of her crews about what was happening for dinner tonight but she was reasonably confident that it wouldn't have occurred to her cooking-phobic girlfriend that a meal which only took Kerry 20-30 minutes to make for the two of them in her own kitchen would actually take nearer to 2 hours to prepare for 20-something firefighters in the unknown quantity that was the firehouse kitchen. Add in Kerry's nerves and here she was, just before 5pm, trying to negotiate entrance to 38 without any back-up and rambling too
"You ever had the tour?"
"Of the firehouse? I was given a quick one " But it didn't exactly extend to where the frying pans were or if they had a spice rack, thought Kerry, not as concerned about the latter issue, having a few 'secret ingredients' in her backpack should the firehouse stores be lacking in anything she deemed essential.
"By the Lieutenant?"
"Yes " Kerry's instinct was to defend her girlfriend in the face of such obvious scepticism; her experience from winning over senior nurses during her student rotations told her to delay her indignation on Sandy's behalf for a moment longer.
"Then I'm certain it was somewhat uninformative when it came to useful information like which pans have lids that fit and where the really sharp knives are?" guessed Evelyn, her face transforming from a rather stiff expression into one which suggested to Kerry she was about to be entrusted with part of a shared secret known only to a select few.
"You're right," agreed Kerry, starting to smile as she saw the truth in the statement, "but then I don't think my tour showed her where my office is, so I can't complain."
"How can you give a tour without showing her your office?" asked Evelyn, gesturing for Kerry to follow her through a door at the side of the vehicle bay into the firehouse proper.
"I'm the Chief of the Emergency Room at Cook County General; technically I have an office in the administration suite but I don't think Sandy's ever been further than the ER actually, I'm not sure most of my staff remember I have an office " mused Kerry, obediently following her unexpected host down a corridor she vaguely remembered from an earlier visit.
"Sometimes I think Captain Jenkins only remembers his office because I'm chasing him for paperwork."
"I'm sure he appreciates the support, even if it's only when you're not around," said Kerry noncommittally, now realising that Sandy had mentioned her host, who was better known to Kerry as Evelyn 'Reliable Relly' Relhart, the firehouse administrator who never backed down from terrorising any firefighter whose paperwork wasn't completed to an acceptable standard ahead of its deadline.
"That's kind of you to say dear they teach you diplomacy in medical school?"
"That's a question for the nurses to answer," joked Kerry, hoping she'd interpreted the older woman's sense of humour correctly.
"I like you, Dr Weaver."
"Please, call me Kerry."
"Evelyn. Now, it's not much, but it's the only kitchen we've got "
"Lieutenant?" Turning towards the caller, Sandy started jogging in the direction of the ambulance that Baptiste, one of her Search and Rescue team's newest members, was sat by.
"C'mon Jake, you're with me," she called, attracting the attention of 38's most experienced and senior paramedic, who had only just returned to full shifts after a tough recuperation following a car crash.
"Cut the crap Jake," teased Sandy, surreptitiously checking to see how he was coping with the gentle jogging pace she was setting it was an important skill for any senior firefighter or paramedic, being able to jog somewhere in full gear so that you arrived faster than if you walked (suggesting you were taking the call for your attention seriously) but without creating the levels of panic a full blown run caused for the rest of your crew.
"Trust me Sandy, this one's a bitch about everything, including the rules," explained Jake, having already butted heads with the paramedic that was standing over Baptiste.
"I hate this territory bullshit," sighed Sandy, trying not to let her frustration build into a bad mood. Strictly speaking, this scene wasn't in their district, but it was the largest scene the units of the more suburban district geographically next to them were rated to deal with, so they'd been sent out to provide back-up, back-up which had ended up being needed, but accepted with quite a lot of bad grace and only once the situation was more complicated than it needed to be. "What's going to be the problem?" she asked, hoping Jake could catch her up, fast, as they only had about another hundred yards to go.
"If they take him in, it's going to be way out in the 'burbs not sure the department has great deals out here."
"And it's slow. Why's he not in your rig?"
"Their turf, and unlike you, I've not been invited to join this fuck up."
"Shit. So he signs AMA?"
"Maybe. That's a lot of blood."
"Shit. Thanks Jake."
"Right behind you, Lieutenant." The teasing emphasis Jake placed on his friend's rank as he came to a stop and left her to continue up to Baptiste on her own served to mask the concern he felt for the younger firefighter whose arm and hand were bleeding quite freely.
"How's it going Baptiste?" asked Sandy, ignoring the paramedic for a moment and focusing instead on the newest member of her crew.
"Good Lieutenant, thank you," came the polite response from the young man.
"What do you want to do?"
"He needs to be taken to hospital for a proper assessment by a doctor."
"I asked Firefighter Baptiste for his thoughts, thank you," said Sandy coldly, not making any eye contact with the paramedic whose bearing and attitude told her everything she needed to know as Jake said, it was clear this one was all about the rules, not about caring.
"Get back to the firehouse Lieutenant. I hear you're on chow duty Ma'am?"
"Cheeky. Sit tight Baptiste, be right back." And, sending a quick smile in his direction which she hoped was reassuring, Sandy turned and jogged back to Jake, who was standing a few yards away, near enough to see and hear without being involved directly.
"What do you think Jake?" It was one thing for her to be unconcerned about a cut to her hand in the middle of a rainstorm when there were civilians to rescue, but quite another when it came to her newest almost-rookie, especially when he'd only arrived after coming back from reserve duty overseas a month before.
"Hard to tell he's clearly alert and coherent, uniform state suggests he didn't hit his head or fall so concussion and head injury is unlikely, but that's a lot of blood from a couple of big lacerations which will heal best with stitches."
"So he signs AMA and you patch him up at the firehouse?" asked Sandy, searching her friend's face for any clues as to what he was thinking. She didn't want to risk Baptiste's health, but nor did she want to let him head even further out of town to a hospital that the firehouse didn't know and which would probably mean he didn't get treated and back home until well after his shift finished.
"It's a start, but that looks like it needs stitches to heal properly."
"And you won't stitch?"
"Nope, you need a doc for that."
"But your rig's got the stuff, right?" asked Sandy, her eyes brightening as she saw a way that might be a solution.
"Stuff?" Jake was confused what had he said that was improving her mood so quickly?
"Your rig, has it got all the stuff a doc would need to fix Baptiste up?"
"As long as it's not done real damage I guess but you still need the doc."
"What do you mean, real damage?"
"Nerves, tendons. Look, I don't know what your plan is, but before he signs AMA, I want to see a basic neuro check and some indication that those gashes are big but superficial," said Jake, recognising that the combination of the years she'd spent watching his back at scenes and her rank meant whatever her plan was, it involved getting Baptiste away from that paramedic as fast as possible and therefore deserved his support, even if he wasn't sure what the next stage of that plan was.
"Thanks." Heading back towards Baptiste, she continued to ignore the paramedic, who was looking sourer by the minute. "What's my name?"
"Lieutenant Lopez, Ma'am." Although confused, Baptiste was too well trained to do anything other than answer the question.
"What day is it?"
"Friday. I didn't hit my head Ma'am, never lost my helmet." Baptiste's look of confusion cleared slightly as he started to recognise the semi-standard questions and guessed the objective.
"Follow my finger," instructed Sandy, pleased to see his eyes were moving together and he didn't appear to be struggling with the request.
"Make a fist with both hands?" This was a little harder, with his cut up arm and hand clearly hurting when his muscles had to clench but to Baptiste's credit, he made the fist. Clearly Jake was satisfied too, because Sandy heard him whistle briefly.
"Lieutenant?" Baptiste's expression was hopeful despite the obvious pain he was in.
"How'd you like your fajitas?" was all she asked, hoping he'd understand what she was saying. Only he could refuse treatment 'against medical advice' and if this paramedic was as hot on the rules as she seemed to be, Sandy certainly wasn't going to suggest it to him as an option or say anything that could be interpreted as an order.
"With cheese and guacamole," came the prompt response, causing Sandy to nod and turn away, leaving Baptiste to refuse treatment, knowing that the obnoxious paramedic, who she still wasn't going to waste time talking to, would be marginally less obnoxious without an audience. Maintaining a slow, almost leisurely pace that would be easy for Baptiste to catch up despite his pain, Sandy and Jake set off back to their parked up engines and ambulance.
"He's still going to need stitches "
"He needs a doc for that "
"I know Jake, I heard you the first time." Sandy's amused grin was starting to intrigue him, making him think over what he'd heard her say about fajitas, what he'd heard Baptiste say about her being on 'chow duty'.
"Is this where you tell me your girlfriend's a med student or something?" he asked, not sure what he'd missed in the 4 months he'd been away.
"Or something. How you really doing Baptiste?" asked Sandy, turning her attention to their injured colleague who had clearly managed to escape although the small dressing he'd been given before the stand-off had developed was proving to be rather ineffective at stopping the blood flow.
"I managed to avoid getting a paper-cut as I signed AMA."
"Good man, you sure you're ok?"
"Fine Lieutenant, if you ignore the slight mess."
"A talent for understatement. You're riding back with Jake," said Sandy in a no-nonsense tone that reminded Baptiste of a drill sergeant he'd had once. He might have had almost 12 inches height and at least 40lbs of muscle on his side compared to the Lieutenant, but he recognised a non-negotiable order when it came.
"Yes Ma'am. Ma'am?"
"Thank you. I don't like hospitals and doctors much."
"I'm with you on the hospitals Baptiste, but some of the doctors ain't bad " said Sandy, stopping by the open door of her engine, pleased to see the rest of the crew had packed away all the equipment meaning they were ready to go back to 38 once Jake and Baptiste had made it the few feet to the ambulance parked across the street, " just try not to drip too much more ok?"
"And don't call me Ma'am," she muttered as she climbed into her seat, knowing that Baptiste meant it sincerely so not taking offence.
"Lieutenant?" Mark 'Hendy' Henderson, her fellow non-cook and engine driver didn't know whether that last comment was one he was meant to have heard or not.
"Take us back to the house Hendy, I do believe it's dinner time " And as the big engine pulled away from the kerb, taking the tired and grimy firefighters back to their firehouse, Sandy dropped her helmet in her lap and stared out of the window, her mind filled with one thought, 'Kerry's gonna kill me '
"Hello. Where's everyone else?" asked Kerry as she methodically marked her place in her novel and put it aside, surprised that Sandy was the only person around.
"Restocking and cleaning, sometimes it good to be the boss," explained Sandy, leaning across the end of the couch and stealing a kiss.
"What's going on?" As nice as the kiss was, Kerry wasn't buying it. For all her passion and emotion, Sandy was a very good and professional firefighter who wouldn't be bending the rules or pulling rank for a kiss.
"You know me too well " grumbled Sandy, looking down at the couch, unable to meet her girlfriend's calm gaze.
"Talk to me?" encouraged Kerry, catching Sandy's chin with gentle fingertips and coaxing her to look up.
"Umm, Baptiste his arm he's in the reserves " Sandy knew she wasn't making much sense as she stumbled over her words, any confidence she'd had in her plan when she was out in the field long gone as, during the 30 minute drive back to the firehouse she'd managed to convince herself Kerry was going to be mad with her for assuming she'd just 'be a doctor' and stitch Baptiste up.
"Baptiste, he's the new guy on your team? Just back from an overseas tour?" Confident that Sandy wasn't going to look away, Kerry stopped using her fingers to hold her girlfriend's head up and instead started a reassuring caress of her cheek whilst she waited for the whole story.
"Yeah. He's cut up his arm pretty bad, but he signed AMA at the scene 'cos he wouldn't be brought to a city hospital."
"You want me to take a look?" As she asked, Kerry started reaching blindly for her crutch, which she'd left resting against her thigh.
"I kinda hoped you say that " admitted Sandy shyly, holding out a hand for Kerry who she knew didn't need the help to stand but wanting some sort of contact with her girlfriend.
"You're very cute when you're nervous," teased Kerry, taking advantage of the moment of calm to help herself to a kiss, "where is he?"
"In the ambulance, I guessed you'd need their stuff?"
"Stuff? You mean like your engines are full of stuff?" laughed Kerry, knowing that as a trained paramedic, Sandy could be far more articulate about the equipment and resources that a well-stocked ambulance carried but, since she rarely worked a full shift as a paramedic any more, that knowledge was rather well buried under hockey stats and other 'more useful' information.
"You're not mad?" Relieved that Kerry seemed to be in good humour about her unexpected patient, Sandy nevertheless hadn't quite got all of her swagger back, causing Kerry to pause for a moment before they turned the corner and set off down the corridor to the vehicle bays.
"I'm not mad sweetheart. What would you have done if I'd not been here?"
"Taken him to County."
"Why County?" Kerry was curious it wasn't the nearest ER to the firehouse, with Mercy being slightly closer.
"The vending machines have the best snacks." Of everything Sandy could have said, that was not what Kerry was expecting, and it showed in her surprised expression which was quickly replaced with a wry smile: she was just pleased Sandy appeared to be back to her more usual self.
"Come on, take me to my patient. The sooner he's checked out, the sooner I can eat!"
" and see a doctor in 4 days to have the stitches taken out Baptiste," concluded Kerry, pressing the final protective dressing over her stitches.
"I know where to find you, Dr Weaver."
"There are other doctors in Chicago Baptiste," chided Kerry, blushing slightly she wasn't exactly used to 'collecting' patients, unlike some of the other ER Attendings who had, over the years, acquired regular patients that could almost be described as fan clubs.
"I'll stick with the best, thanks Doctor," said Baptiste determinedly, deciding that the red-head looked quite pretty when she blushed, and she seemed to understand about him being a reservist, too.
"You should probably find a clean shirt before you eat," said Kerry absently as she pulled off her gloves and dumped them with the rest of the used dressings, needles and syringes, completely missing the smile that Jake would later describe to Sandy as 'puppy-dog'.
"Yes Ma'am, thank you again Doctor," and, with a nod to his Lieutenant and a clearly cross Jake, Baptiste jumped lightly down from the back of the ambulance and headed towards his locker for a clean shirt.
"Is Baptiste whistling?" asked Sandy, having passed the clearly happy firefighter on her way back to the ambulance from her own quick shower and clean uniform stop.
"He's got a crush on the good doctor," said Jake, his face breaking out into a big grin, unable to sustain his fierce expression any longer.
"What? Baptiste?" Confused, Sandy looked from Jake to an equally confused Kerry who was still sitting on the end of the stretcher. "What happened?"
"I have no idea," said Kerry honestly, seemingly content to stay sat in the back of the ambulance for a moment, leaving Sandy to focus on Jake.
"What did he do?"
"Baptiste? Declared his undying love for the good Doctor here " teased Jake, only for Kerry to groan, attracting Sandy's attention.
"I told him he needed to see a doctor to have his stitches taken out in 4 days."
"He didn't " Sandy's eyes went wide and, when Kerry nodded, her jaw dropped, " he did?"
"He did," agreed Kerry, smirking.
"Hey, what's going on?" asked Jake, realising that something had happened that suggested what he'd witnessed was a private joke although he couldn't work it out.
"I cut my hand " began Sandy, just as Kerry said "I stitched up her hand " causing both of them to grin at each other.
"Ok, I think I can guess what happened our lovable Lieutenant declared you were the only doctor for her and swept you off your feet Doc with an invite to a hockey game?"
"Yeah, 'cept she asked me, and it was ice fishing."
"I was nervous!" protested Kerry for the umpteenth time, knowing she would never be allowed to forget that rather random suggestion.
"You were asked not asking? How did I not know this?" Jake's expression showed Sandy the mixed up jumble of his emotions he was experiencing as his amusement at the situation (Sandy had previously sworn she was always the asker, never the asked) was offset by the confusion and hurt he was feeling for not knowing this until now.
"Uh, well, umm." Suddenly Sandy didn't know where to look or what to say.
"Perhaps because you were still in intensive care," said Kerry simply, redirecting the paramedic's focus away from her girlfriend.
"How do you know about that?"
"I ran your trauma, you were my patient," said Kerry quietly, not sure how he would cope with that piece of news, not sure how Sandy would cope with the news.
"County, I was taken to Cook County " Jake frowned as he tried to remember, tried to focus on the brief flashes of faces and voices he could separate from the fuzziness of those first few days after the world just stopped when the car he was in had been hit, " wait, what did you say you did?"
"I didn't, at least, not while you were here," said Kerry, unable to look at either Jake or Sandy, "but I'm the ER Chief at County. You came into my ER."
It felt like hours but the silence only hung heavily between them for a few seconds before Jake scrubbed his face with his hands as it to make sure he really was awake and that Kerry really was there.
"Dr Weaver I . I don't know what to say, I mean "
"It's fine," Kerry dismissed his stumbling with a wave of her hand, feeling awkward like she always did whenever she met a recovered trauma patient of hers who hadn't known she was their doctor.
"I my mom,,, she " Jake was finding it difficult to get his voice past the lump in his throat. By the time his mother had arrived he was already in the operating theatre. It wasn't until he was in recovery that anyone had been able to explain to her that he was going to make a slow but full recovery despite the unexpected complication he'd had in the ER.
"You're welcome," said Kerry stoically, feeling embarrassed but knowing from experience that trying to explain she was just doing her job and didn't need thanking just prolonged the agony for both ex-patient and doctor.
"I don't understand. What happened?" Sandy looked from her friend to girlfriend and back to her friend, understanding there was more to Jake's trauma than 'normal' given how clearly Kerry evidently remembered it but not being able to fill in the gaps from what she'd just heard or already knew . "Jake?" Getting no immediate answers from her friend, Sandy looked to Kerry for some answers.
"I'm sorry sweetheart " began Kerry, seeing Sandy's face clouding with frustration at being kept in the dark, " he's a patient, I need "
"Tell her, tell me please?" Consent given, and conscious that everyone's emotions were quite near the surface, Kerry tried to explain what had happened as succinctly as she could.
"Your injuries were consistent with being in a car that was hit with enough force for it to roll over. They were serious enough that you were critical but, despite being unconscious for most of the time, because of your age and overall health, I didn't think they were life threatening, which is why when you started seizing " Kerry paused, remembering the wails of the monitors and the shouts of the nurses as they instinctively moved to try and stabilise him. It was strange, thought Kerry, she could remember hearing everything that she was being told about the patient's second by second status, could remember what she ordered and did, but she couldn't remember who else was with her, who the nurses were, which resident it was that had inadvertently injected the fateful dose.
"You worked out it was an anaphylactic reaction to the morphine. Is that how you recognised me?" asked Jake, as he held out his wrist where, next to his watch, sat the medical information bracelet he now wore.
"Yes," admitted Kerry softly, "I'm sorry I didn't remember your face."
"S'ok Doc," said Jake, breaking into a broad grin as his composure returned as quickly as he'd lost it, the atmosphere that had settled around them disappearing as quickly as it had appeared, "it's obvious I'm not your type," earning him a tentative smile from Kerry and a playful punch in the shoulder from Sandy.
"Too right! You mind catching Baptiste up on that?" asked Sandy, the seriousness of her tone surprising both her and Jake.
"He'll understand when my bill is paid," said Kerry quickly, her confidence returning and a new worry emerging she did not want to be the source of trouble for Sandy with a member of her crew.
"Your bill?" Jake, grateful for the fact that not only had he successfully managed to change the topic of conversation, but that he'd also managed to do so in a way that got them back to their earlier, teasing banter which showed him another reason why 'this one was different' for Sandy.
"You didn't think I go stitching up random firefighters for free did you Jake?"
"Uh, maybe?" What was it about this woman's poker face? One minute she was joking, the next was she serious about a bill?
"I'll be upset if you let Baptiste pay " Wait, thought Jake, did Sandy just growl?
"You offering to pay on his behalf?"
"Insisting " Yup, that was definitely a growl, but this time from Sandy's stomach, which was promptly followed by all three of them starting to laugh.
It was Kerry who regained her composure first. "I think that's a hint."
"You go on ahead, I'll finish up here," said Jake, gesturing to the small heap of used medical supplies that were still on the stretcher, as Kerry who was carefully stepping down out of the ambulance, started to switch her focus back to cooking.
"You sure?" asked Sandy, her arm instinctively going around Kerry's shoulders when she felt the doctor's arm slip around her waist.
"Sure, it'll only take a minute, I'll be right behind you." And it would, but it was a minute that Jake needed for himself and wanted to give to the couple after the unexpected revelations.
"Checking out your butt," stage whispered Sandy, earning her a playful hit on her own behind as Kerry did some of her own checking out.
"Come on, before that monster escapes," said Kerry, not wanting to hear Sandy's stomach growl again, not when there was dinner ready and waiting for them and the rest of the crew.
As a nearby clock finished chiming the quarters, a siren wailed, letting all who listened know that in some not too distant part of Chicago, emergency services were required to help someone, with something. Hunching her shoulders so that the soft collar of Sandy's black CFD jacket rose to brush her ears and jaw, Kerry took another sip from the thermal travel mug she held and looked with unseeing eyes out across the adjacent blocks of the city. The roof of Stationhouse 38, unlike the roof of County General, didn't offer much of a view, but, in a city of skyscrapers above and hustling sidewalks below, the roof of the 3 storey firehouse was offering Kerry an unexpected sanctuary in which to reflect on her evening.
After the unexpected conversation with Jake and a brief detour to an out-of-the-way corner of the firehouse for Sandy to say a proper hello to her, they had arrived in the kitchen to meet Hendy, Sandy's engine driver (and fellow non-cook) and Baptiste (her newly self-appointed number 1 fan) standing guard over the stove, defending her preparations from curious firefighters who were starting to wonder why the Lieutenant hadn't ordered any take out yet. In a matter of minutes, much to the amazement of Hendy, (who didn't yet know who 'Kerry' was when 'on duty'), the stove and refrigerator contents were raided and transported to the counter by the big table where the crews sat down to eat an unexpected meal of fajitas (chicken, beef or vegetarian) with extra hot chilli sauce for those who dared and all the usual sides. Even Kerry had been forced to acknowledge that, for only a couple of hours of cooking, she'd managed to produce quite an impressive looking spread.
With the knowledge that they'd be sent out on a call at a moment's notice, there was no standing on ceremony. The minute the serving dishes were down on the counter, the firefighters and paramedics descended on them, snatches of shared laughter and stray comments filling the firehouse as they all helped themselves. All in all, from her vantage point, out of the way of the crush of bodies, Kerry thought she counted 22 people who, in fairly short order, demolished the majority of the food she'd prepared, making her glad she'd scaled her quantities up to about 30 'Sandy-sized' portions (which was about 35 'Kerry-sized' portions). As she slipped into the empty seat between Sandy and Jake, she'd smiled as first she felt Sandy's hand reach out and rest affectionately on her leg, waiting for her to reach down and clasp it, and then to see that virtually all conversation had stopped as everyone focussed on finishing their plates of food before an alarm bell sounded.
Gradually, as plates were cleared, the noise level began to increase again when chairs scraped on the floor as early finishers went looking for seconds and soon the teasing and the banter began. Up on the roof, Kerry sipped her drink and smiled as she remembered some of the first comments that had been thrown out at Sandy and her responses.
"Found a new take-out or something Lieutenant?" "Or someone, Ronch."
"Hell, that was some hot sauce " "You know where the hose is Jacks."
"Can you order every shift Boss?" "Who said I ordered?"
"You dating Martha Stewart?"
"I've never been called that before " It was the first time she'd spoken, being perfectly content to sit quietly, holding her girlfriend's hand and eat her dinner, listening to the spontaneous comments about the food and seeing how the various firefighters interacted with Sandy.
"You're the Nazi Dyke." She'd stiffened when she'd heard that phrase, coming from the unfamiliar firefighter who had been standing at the counter, midway through scraping the last of the chicken onto his plate but, on hearing her voice, had turned and looked at her, his blank face hardening suddenly in angry recognition. Who was he? How did he know about that? As these questions had flown through her mind, it was as if time had frozen, stretching the sudden silence to such an extent that, when it was broken, it would be with a shatter.
Which it had, recalled Kerry, brought out of her thoughts by the unknown clock sounding of another quarter, only it hadn't been broken by shouts and punches (although a part of her was still dispassionately curious would Jake, Baptiste or Sandy have got the first punch in? There was no doubting from their body language that they'd all had the same instinct), but by the alarm, the loud, insistent alarm that all the crews were trained and conditioned to react to in an instant. In a moment, the firefighters started moving as their units were called first it was the main engine crew, almost a dozen men seemingly scattered at random around the table and room heading for their engine including her accuser; then the call came for the ambulance, a call Kerry only noticed because Jake squeezed her shoulder as he left as, for a brief moment, it looked like Sandy might not be needed, looked like fate might be saving them a public battle, might be granting them a moment of time to talk. But as the call continued, sending the Search and Rescue Squad Unit to their engine, it was apparent that, tonight at least, if fate was on their side, their moment would be later.
"Ker " Sandy was frozen, trying to say something to her.
"Go, stay safe." There wasn't time to find the words to tell Sandy everything she'd wanted to say, about how hearing those words, that name, had caused surprise, not hurt. That her fear was not for herself, but for her girlfriend, whose eyes were clouded with worry and concern but whose body language was screaming love and protection even as her sense of professional duty was wanting to drag her out to her engine and the call.
"Ker " For a second, Kerry saw a frown flash across Sandy's face and she wondered what had changed, what thought had triggered the movement, only for her face to be held by Sandy and all thoughts scatter as she was kissed, like she had never been kissed before.
In the relative quiet of her roof-top sanctuary, Kerry felt her smile as she traced her lips with her cold fingertips as she remembered the kiss which had been brief and fleeting, as closed lips pressed against closed lips no nibbled lips or duelling tongues, no endless moment that saw the basic primal need for oxygen take second place as the desire to explore and taste her lover's mouth and soul overrode the scream of her lungs for air. It had been quick, a second's contact that conveyed the promise of forever; it had been firm, a determined, forcing together of their lips that reached the deepest parts of her soul with a soft, tender caress; it had been almost chaste, innocent in its fleetingness and yet, hours later, here she stood, her mind still cartwheeling and her heart still pounding at its memory. It had been a kiss of support, commitment, reassurance, restraint, passion
Kerry was almost deafened with the white noise of the city as she returned to the present after she'd allowed herself to recall what had happened as the world restarted after that kiss.
"Love you..." Two words, said quickly and quietly right before Sandy turned and jogged out to the fire engine, gone before Kerry had realised what she'd said, what had happened.
"Love you " Two words, that made her feel taller than the County General rooftop, made her feel warmer than the hottest African noonday sun, made her feel safe and wonderful and loved.
Station 38's Search and Rescue crew returned to the firehouse smelling of smoke and covered in smuts ahead of the ambulance, which had taken the elderly couple they'd rescued to Mercy. The other engine crew remained at what was left of the brownstone, completing the final checks that confirmed it was safe to hand off to police and fire department investigators, which would take longer than Sandy's shift had left to go. Whilst it hadn't needed Sandy's crew, she'd been committed to staying and helping until her fellow Lieutenant, who was leading that engine had encouraged her to return to the station officially, since the Captain was away, she was the Boss and with the glory came the paperwork that needed to be completed before she could hand over to the next covering Lieutenant at the end of her shift in less than an hour. The fact that it meant she didn't have to see the thing (he didn't deserve to be identified as either a man or a firefighter in her mind) again, was a welcome but totally unofficial bonus.
Removing her gear on auto-pilot, Sandy jogged through to the kitchen, looking for any evidence of her girlfriend. Seeing the kitchen clean, all the plates and pans washed up and put away, it was hard to believe that a couple of hours earlier it had been the site of a relative banquet, suggesting the 'kitchen elves' had made a rare visit whilst they were out on the call. The only evidence of the identity of the 'elf' was left on the counter a plate of cookies with a piece of paper, with what Sandy recognised as Kerry's 'trying to be neat' block capitals identifying them as 'chocolate crunch' and that they should be avoided if allergic to peanuts. Disappointed that her girlfriend hadn't stuck around but not surprised, Sandy grabbed a handful of the cookies (still warm, she'd not missed Kerry by much) and headed on to her office to get through the paperwork as fast as she could. Her shift ended in less than an hour and there was no way she was working overtime, not tonight.
Twenty minutes later, when the digital desk clock said 23:23, she was on the move again, having set a personal record for writing up her paperwork sure, she'd have some to finish next shift, but she'd done the minimum required to be able to hand over the watch to Lieutenant Smith and made enough notes to have half a chance of finishing the rest of the paperwork during another shift. The watch change paperwork was on her desk (which was used by all the Search and Rescue Lieutenants when they were on shift) with a note on the front telling Smithy what he needed to know that wasn't in her official paperwork and that she'd be in the firehouse until 00:.01 (in case she didn't see him). What she didn't need to ask, because it was understood by all the Lieutenants was that, unless the alarm sounded in the next 7 minutes, the next Search and Rescue call would be led by him: although their shifts changed at midnight, they all worked together to make sure they actually started covering each other half an hour earlier than official shift start.
Sure enough, as she cut through the kitchen hoping to grab another cookie, there was Smithy.
"Hey any cookies left?"
"I'll go halves?" he offered, carefully breaking the last cookie in two, revealing his 'gentle giant' credentials despite standing almost 7 ft tall by the time he had his boots and helmet on.
"Nah, I've already had 3 "
"This is my 4th," he said quietly, holding out the half cookie again. Laughing, Sandy waved it away before shoving her hands in her pants pockets.
"Go for it, your need is greater than mine," she said, only to realise he could misinterpret her remark as a dig about his size, something he was rather sensitive about, prompting her to add, "my girlfriend made them "
"You brought home-baked cookies in? Damn girl, you're getting domestic?" Smithy was grinning they'd been at the Academy together and he and his high-school sweetheart wife had been teasing Sandy for years about knowing she was with 'the one' when she started bringing baked goods to work.
"Actually, I brought the girlfriend, or rather, she came in and cooked dinner, baked those as she did the washing up whilst we were out on a call." If she was a blusher, she was certain her face would be glowing. Instead, her left foot had turned inwards and was now pushing against the toe of her right foot in what had been a nervous habit since her days in kindergarten not visible if she was standing at a counter or table, but Smithy knew her too well.
"This is the doc, right?" he guessed, remembering what he'd heard on the firehouse grapevine, "and she cooks and bakes?"
"Dr Kerry Weaver, ER Chief at County," confirmed Sandy, sticking to her silent and unspoken promise to Kerry to never describe her to someone by mentioning her crutch, "and yes and oh boy yes." As she spoke, her lips twitched into an involuntary smile, only to see Smithy wince. "You know her?"
"My butt does."
"Wait, Kerry was the ER doc for your butt bite? But I thought "
"She was the second doc, the one that helped. Can't remember the name of the first one, but he laughed." Sandy focussed hard on keeping her expression under control. It was still a sore point for her friend. "It would be nice to meet her, with my pants on," continued Smithy softly, the sparkle in his eyes giving Sandy permission to let the laugh she was holding in escape.
"Trust me, I do not want you dropping your pants for my girlfriend "
"Hadn't you best be hitting the shower?" he asked pointedly, changing the subject when he was unable to think of anything clever to counter with.
"Yeah, thanks." Sandy gave him a quick hug as a thank you for his decade or more of friendship before she headed for the locker room, leaving him to finish that final cookie.
Opening her locker intent on grabbing her shower stuff, Sandy had instinctively caught the coat that tumbled out the over-stuffed locker before she'd registered that her locker wasn't normally that full, only to wonder - where was her black CFD jacket?
Closing her locker, still clutching the bundled up brown wool coat to her body, she doubled checked that she definitely opened her locker (as unlikely as it was for the adjacent locker to have the identical lock and code, stranger things had already happened this shift) before she turned to put Kerry's coat on the bench, wait, what was Kerry's coat doing in her locker? Confused, Sandy re-opened her locker and suddenly recognised the back-pack that was sitting on top of her gym bag as belonging to her girlfriend as well. As she tried to think if she had put Kerry's stuff in her locker earlier, only to feel her ears warm as she remembered that kiss by the hose racks on their way from Jake to the kitchen, she noticed the bright yellow piece of paper taped to the back of her locker that hadn't been there earlier... maybe she hadn't left after all.
"You found my note," said Kerry, turning towards the stairwell entrance to see her lover stepping out onto the rooftop.
"Both of them, the cookies were warm," said Sandy, glad she'd had the sense to grab her turnout coat before she'd come up to the roof as there was a chill in the night air. It wasn't cold, no self-respecting long term Chicago resident could bring themselves to describe a day as cold unless there was snow on the ground or in the forecast: a late and slow to arrive spring could only be chilly, even if her breath was clouding.
"Mmm, so's your jacket," said Kerry, emphasising her point by burrowing into the neck of the jacket, feeling soft collar against her jaw as she waited for Sandy to come to where she was carefully leaning, her crutch leaning against the parapet which provided shelter from the slightly cool breeze, Sandy's super-sized insulated travel mug next to it. "Hey "
"Hey." Sandy had stopped, right in front of Kerry, close enough to touch but far enough away that Kerry could see Sandy's traitorous left foot move towards her right. Not giving her time to say anything, Kerry reached up and stroked her lover's cheek with the backs of cold fingers before slipping her hand into the turnout coat's big collar and coaxing Sandy forward.
"I love you too," was all Kerry said as, eyes searching Sandy's, she sought to convey the full extent of her feelings and emotions that she'd been holding onto since Sandy's earlier declaration as the alarm had sounded. Lips meeting, Kerry felt Sandy's fingers tangle in her hair as, with no alarm to remind them of duties elsewhere, their tongues began to duel and dance to a shared song heard only in the depths of their souls, a song that sang of passion and commitment, unity and support, tenderness and love.
"You taste of chocolate " said Sandy when they eventually parted just enough to see their shallow breaths create a single cloud between them. Foreheads touching, Kerry's arms were wrapped tightly around Sandy's waist inside her heavy coat and Sandy's fingers still tangled in Kerry's hair.
"I made hot chocolate you taste of smoke and cookies."
"Any left for me?"
"Mmm what time is it?" Kerry no attempt to look at her watch as that would force her to move her arms, which wasn't going to happen.
"Umm " In case Sandy was in any way unclear on Kerry's refusal to look at her own watch, she quickly got the message when she felt the doctor's chilled hands tug at her shirt back and slip beneath her under-shirt, just as the clock on the nearby St Agnes's Church chimed the third quarter, " 11.45. Fifteen minutes to go on my shift."
"Then there's hot chocolate for you in sixteen minutes," said Kerry, her fingers starting to sketch random patterns on her girlfriend's back, making it harder for Sandy to unravel her logic.
"You spiked it?" guessed Sandy, finally coming up with a reason why she thought she had to wait until shift end for the drink.
"Brandy nearly drank it without bothering with the hot chocolate," joked Kerry, pulling her head back just enough so that she could see Sandy's face more clearly as she asked, "who was he?" not needing to specify who 'he' was.
"Firefighter from station 74, he's worked a few shifts here and there when we're short on the main engine crew. He's not working here again, and Greg, ah the Lieutenant on that engine, is turning in a report on him," Sandy's voice was hard as her eyes searched Kerry's face for any hint of fear or worry, only to see relief.
"So he's not one of your friends."
"Nope. Do you know him?"
"No, at least " Kerry paused as she replayed that horrid moment over in her mind, something she hadn't done in months, only this time she wasn't remembering Malucci, but instead trying to remember who else was in the ER when it had all happened, " I did treat a guy, I think from 74 that day, maybe he was around."
"You sure he wasn't your patient?" asked Sandy, deciding to come back to Kerry's 'that day' comment some other time.
"The patient died crashed in the ambulance on the way in but..." Kerry wasn't sure how to explain what had happened.
" because he was one of them, uh, their stationhouse I mean, they kept going with CPR and brought him into the ER," finished Sandy softly, knowing she'd got it right when she saw Kerry nod, "meant they could get angry at you instead of with each other." In those first moments of grief, for many it was often easier to blame the doctors at the hospital than accept the loss.
"I'd guessed as much. And I get it, it's fine."
"Doesn't mean he should call you that, even then."
"He didn't I think he must have overheard, well, most of the ER heard," muttered Kerry, never stilling her fingers which were still exploring Sandy's back.
"No patient should call you that, I don't care how sick they are," Sandy caught a bead of moisture with her thumb before it could run any further down Kerry's cheek.
"Wasn't a patient, he was one of my doctors," said Kerry hollowly.
"Can I beat him up?" Sandy's question was completely serious, "my crew'll help if you promise them more cookies and you think I couldn't take the punk on my own," she added, pleased to see the beginning of a smile appear.
"I fired him. And it was months ago, before I met you."
"But could I have taken him?" persisted Sandy, determined to get Kerry's earlier smile and sparkle back.
"He was taller than you " began Kerry, seeming to give the matter some serious thought, knowing what her girlfriend was trying to do and grateful for it.
"But I'm scrappy."
"You could have taken him " agreed Kerry, deciding she didn't want to talk about it anymore, especially now she'd theorised how that random firefighter had been involved and understood why she'd ended up cooking him dinner earlier.
"But?" asked Sandy, sensing Kerry's shift in mood and interest.
"But right now I'd rather you take me home "
"Home as in drop you off and see you tomorrow?" asked Sandy cautiously, prepared to do whatever Kerry was comfortable with.
"Home as in wherever you want to go," said Kerry simply, reluctantly withdrawing her right hand from the depths of Sandy's untucked shirt, knowing she needed to reclaim her crutch.
"Your place. Here " Sandy reached out and grabbed the crutch, with her left hand and passed it to Kerry before leaning over and snatching up the travel mug, which she shoved in the deep pocket of her coat whilst Kerry got herself settled. " Ok?" asked Sandy when she'd wrapped her right arm around Kerry's shoulders, holding her close. The bulk of the turnout coat made it a little more awkward than it usually was for them to walk with their arms wrapped around each other, but neither lady was going to let a little bit of fire resistant fabric stop her.
"Ok." As they set off at an almost leisurely pace, Kerry asked, "how was the call?"
"Ok. Didn't really need all of us for the rescue, but at least the fire didn't spread to the neighbours."
"At least you got to eat."
"Yeah. Oh, the guys wanted to thank you for the meal."
"They enjoyed it?" asked Kerry, reluctantly letting go of Sandy when they reached the stairwell, only for Sandy to catch hold of her hand.
"They loved it, all they talked about as we drove to the call. And then you made us cookies "
"Not to mention the washing up," joked Kerry, embarrassed.
"I had to promise to welcome you as an honorary member of 38 with the offer of our kitchen whenever you want," explained Sandy seriously, although Kerry could see the sparkle of amusement in her eyes, "and Hendy's promised to explain to Baptiste why he really shouldn't bring you flowers when he comes to get his stitches out."
"He doesn't know?" asked Kerry, surprised. Whilst there hadn't been any time to actually be introduced properly to anyone other than Jake and Baptiste, she had assumed that, for Sandy's Search and Rescue team at least, their relationship was at least known.
"He's got sisters, apparently " began Sandy, falling in to step alongside Kerry on the stairs as she tried to remember what Hendy had told her when Baptiste was out of earshot, " and didn't grow up in the city. Seems his sisters have lots of girlfriends."
"Ah, as in friends who are girls."
"He's one hell of a firefighter, will make a great Captain one day but right now, he's 22 and innocent."
"22? God " Kerry did some mental arithmetic and decided knowing the exact answer didn't help her feel any younger, " I'll let him down gently."
"You're just a big ol'softie " teased Sandy, only to be interrupted by her own yawn.
"And you need to be in bed," said Kerry dryly as they arrived at the bottom of the stairs, aware that it was close to midnight.
"I'm not tired "
"Who said anything about sleeping?" Startled, Sandy turned to look at Kerry, who merely raised an eyebrow and carried on walking, leaving Sandy stopped dead, slack jawed and flat-footed. A moment later, having recovered from the shock of hearing such a bold proposal from the still occasionally tongue-tied Kerry, she hurried to catch her up, not least because the doctor didn't actually know where she was going.
"Locker room's this way."
"Ah. Oh, and it was 21, by Tuesday."
"What was 21, and what's Tuesday?" Sandy wasn't following.
"Stitches." Kerry paused, wondering if her 'not tired' girlfriend was sharp enough to work out what Tuesday meant without another clue.
"Tuesday 4 days away Tuesday?" asked Sandy, her eyes widening when she saw Kerry biting her lip to try not to smirk, only to give up when she saw Sandy's own grin. "Wait here. Don't move."
"Where you going?" called Kerry as Sandy set off at speed, shouting 'Smithy?' as she ran down the corridor, only to double back in the direction of Kerry again when she heard a call from the other end of the firehouse.
"To trade my Monday shift, you're off right?"
"Next shift's Tuesday 7am," confirmed Kerry, struggling to contain her laughter as she watched Sandy sprint off to catch Smithy, leaving her alone in the corridor.
"Ah, um, Dr Weaver?"
"Yes " Cautious, she turned to look at the firefighter who had called her name as he came along the corridor, only to relax as she recognised him from Sandy's crew, " it's Hendy, right?"
"Yes Ma'am. I'm sorry, about earlier " Kerry tried to interrupt his apology, only to be ignored by the clearly nervous engine driver, " when we rushed out without proper introductions and thanks, we all get a bit rude at dinnertime, but we're all agreed, that was a mighty fine spread and we'd be grateful if you'd come again."
"You're welcome, I enjoyed cooking for you and your crew."
"So you'll come again?" he asked hopefully, shoving his hands deep in his pockets and rocking on the balls of his feet.
"That's not up to me," said Kerry, amused both at how this tall firefighter's face crumpled and the little 'happy dance' she saw Sandy indulge in as she re-entered the corridor, out of sight of Hendy, "you'll need to ask your Lieutenant," she explained loudly, drawing Sandy's attention to the fact that the corridor was a little busier than she'd expected.
"Need to ask me what Hendy?" Taking her girlfriend's bait, Sandy tried desperately to keep a lid on her enthusiasm and to maintain a professional tone and expression as she remembered to tuck her shirt back in before she removed her turnout coat whilst walking down the corridor in what was hopefully not a swagger.
"When Dr Weaver can come and cook dinner again."
"Well it won't be my turn for kitchen duty for at least a month, and Dr Weaver may not be off then."
"We thought of that Lieutenant," said Hendy proudly.
"The crew Lieutenant. Dr Weaver?"
"Anyone of Company B here at the 38 would be honoured to swap kitchen duty with the Lieutenant so as to be able to invite you to dinner on your day off."
"You mean cook us dinner on her day off," corrected Sandy, laughing.
"Well yeah, but we'd make sure we left you some to eat!"
"Thank you Hendy, I'll bear that in mind," said Kerry dryly, needing all of her years' experience coping with the strange and crazy things ER patients came out with in order to hold on to her serious expression.
"Thank you Ma'am, good night, Lieutenant, Doctor Weaver Ma'am." Duty done, Hendy almost came to full attention before heading back to the vehicle bay and the rest of the Search and Rescue crew who were still on duty with Lieutenant Smith.
"Well?" asked Kerry, once he was out of earshot and she felt she could risk talking without laughing.
"Next shift's Tuesday, 10am start."
"What did you trade for?" Kerry resumed walking down the corridor, trusting her lover to steer her wherever they needed to go.
"Smithy's gonna let me know probably his wedding anniversary, he always forgets to request that off."
"Let me know the date, I'll send flowers."
"21's my lucky number," quipped Kerry, following Sandy into the locker room which was empty.
"Does it make me a bad Lieutenant?" Sandy deliberately focussed on opening her locker and keeping a decent distance from her girlfriend.
"What does? Thanks." Kerry had taken off her borrowed CFD jacket and passed it to Sandy, reclaiming her own wool coat.
"Being glad Baptiste tore his arm up that much?" Deciding she didn't want to test Kerry's self-control, her own already at breaking point, Sandy started shoving her street clothes and boots in her gym bag.
"Ah. No, you're not. Aren't you " Just as she'd been starting to ask why Sandy wasn't changing, Kerry flushed as she realised what the significance was of her lover's haphazard packing and sartorial choice before rushing to pull her own coat on, knocking against her crutch in her scramble, causing it to fall, clattering over the bench and landing out of her reach. "Damn."
In a moment, Sandy was by her side, the crutch in her hand, her own bag and jacket forgotten in a heap under her discarded turnout coat as she'd moved to grab the crutch and be in a position to help Kerry if she needed. "Ok?"
"Ok. Sorry." Embarrassed at how she'd broken the mood, Kerry accepted the crutch and tried not to show how foolish she felt at her sudden clumsiness.
"Hey " Based on Sandy's reaction, she obviously hadn't done a particularly good job, " stop it babe," soothed Sandy, pulling Kerry into a gentle hug, "you're not clumsy," she whispered, pressing a tender kiss against her temple, "and you've not ruined anything. I'm the one who needs to apologise."
"For what?" Pulling back slightly so she could see Sandy, Kerry's confusion was clear.
"Crappy day off for you."
"What makes you say that?"
"Gees, where to start? Woke you up far too early " Her alarm had woken both of them at 8, but Kerry had worked a double that should have finished at 10 but then a series of traumas kept her in the ER until midnight.
"I thoroughly enjoyed my morning," retorted Kerry pointedly, emphasising her point by adding coyly, "and had a lunchtime nap with very nice dreams."
" making you cook for everyone " continued Sandy, not being convinced by Kerry's reinterpretation of what she saw as the first of many impositions on her lover's day off.
"I offered. I like cooking, remember? And it was nice meeting some of your crew and Jake," said Kerry sincerely, delicately avoiding making any reference to the other 'visitor' to 38 that night.
" I made you be a doctor "
"Sweetheart, I am a doctor, and it was only a few stitches," corrected Kerry, stroking a fingertip along her lover's furrowed brow.
"21's not a few," corrected Sandy, not fully believing Kerry's reassurances.
"No, it's not," agreed Kerry, shyly smiling as she recalled their earlier teasing and brief detour to the hose store, "but you did insist on paying Baptiste's bill." Her last words were spoken in a voice that was so husky she almost didn't recognise it as her own and, when Sandy didn't immediately respond, she started to worry that she'd gone too far given how much misplaced guilt her girlfriend had burdened herself with. Just when she was about to break the silence and start an apology of her own, she felt a fleeting brush of lips on the corner of her mouth. Not expecting the kiss, her lips parted in what might have meant to be a short, sharp gasp of surprise but turned into the beginning of a slow, soft, tender kiss.
"Shift's over Lieutenant " Kerry's voice was barely louder than a whisper when, breathing almost regular, she eventually spoke, their foreheads lightly touching once again.
"I've got a taxi waiting," Sandy was certain Kerry could hear her heart pounding in the quiet.
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