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The More Things Change
Kim cursed the power of Google. Who was she to chastise her patients for unhealthy fixations when here she was typing Kerry's name into the search box, just to see if anything would come up. The bulk of the hits returned were articles Kerry had authored and Kim had already read. Regardless of anything else, Kim had always admired Kerry's professional views.
Then there was the obituary that came up-- Kim's heart had stuck in her throat, until she clicked through to read "survived by her partner Kerry Weaver and son Henry" in the tribute to the life of one Cassandra Lopez. That was two years ago. For a moment she had wanted desperately to call Kerry, just to check in with her, make sure she had some support around her, knowing she probably was still doing the stoic thing that Kim hated and loved all at once. Instead Kim called Abby, and was surprised when the admit nurse called her "Doctor" Lockheart.
A lot had changed since she left, and not just with Kerry. Abby returned her call from her cell phone, standing on the roof, smoking a cigarette. Kim could picture her perfectly, the roof was where they had sat and talked through so much, Kim's frustration at the rollercoaster of emotions that came with trying to have a relationship with a closeted woman, who, lesbian or not didn't exactly have an easy time trusting anyone. Abby always played the devil's advocate, sticking up for Kerry when Kim was hard on her. In turn, Kim promised Abby that she would listen to her talk about John without "pulling the shrink card". The four of them, god, how fucked up were they? Sometimes Kim wondered if John and Kerry had had similar talks about the two of them.
After a bit of catching up Kim made Abby promise to try to check in with Kerry, and to offer her some support in whatever way she might let her. After she hung up she vowed to stop torturing herself, and to be an adult. If she wanted contact with Kerry, she would call or write, not turn to some electronic surveillance. She imagined Kerry's face, animated by indignation, at the perceived violation of the privacy she held so very dear.
She'd kept her promise though it was difficult, especially today. Summer was fading into fall, this time of year always reminded her of Kerry, of their first interactions before that tumultuous winter when she and Kerry finally had acted on the attraction between them, followed all too shortly by a betrayal that Kim just could not forgive. Chewing on the end of her pen, she put down the folder of patient notes she was reviewing for an upcoming article and decided to go for a walk to clear her head.
She turned on her iPod, listening to UCLA's Chief of Medicine's weekly podcast. She smiled slightly, wondering what Kerry would think about the innovation. Kim was wary of it at first, but when she realized that the number of staff meetings had decreased, she made it a priority to listen to the twenty-minute podcast, just in case she was ever asked about its effectiveness. When the Chief was finished droning on, she switched to Rachmaninov to help soothe her nerves, but that reminded her even more of Kerry- and a candle-lit picnic dinner she had prepared for Kim after a long and very difficult shift. She sighed and turned, striding back home, feeling helpless and angry all over again. She pulled out her iPod and was just switching to Nirvana when she ran smack into someone's back.
Before Kerry even turned around Kim knew it was her. She must have just come from a shower, because she smelled just as she always did- a lightly floral fragrance over deep, rich sandalwood. How long had it taken Kim to get that scent out of her pillowcases, her car, her favorite hooded sweatshirt that always ended up on Kerry by the end of the night?
Kim held out a hand to steady Kerry as she turned, looking up, her expression one of anger, then surprise.
"Kim! I "
"Kerry? What the " Kim reached up and pulled the headphones from her ears, the strains of Kurt Cobain's tortured vocals clearly audible until Kim switched the power off.
Kerry's eyes were amused. "Kim, you know you're going to go deaf listening to that music. I could send you the article from last month's JAMA, but I'm sure you read it."
Kim looked down, and then slowly swept her eyes up Kerry's body. She looked good. A bit tired maybe, but there was a confidence in her gaze that Kim didn't remember ever seeing before. They locked eyes for a long moment before Kim replied, "I read the article Kerry. Perhaps I should send you the conference proceedings from the last American Musical Therapy Association meeting?"
Kerry just smiled that little half smile that Kim had always adored, "You always could give as good as you got, Dr. Legaspi. I guess some things don't change."
They regarded one another warily, Kim still shocked by Kerry's presence on the sidewalk in front of her home. She blinked hard, and then squinted at Kerry.
"Kerry what are you doing here?"
"Kim " Kerry dipped her head, "would you believe me if I said that you'd be amazed at what you can find online these days?"
Kim stared wide-eyed for a moment before laughing long and hard. "Actually Kerry, I would."
Kim motioned for Kerry to follow her into her new home, taking note of all of the changes she saw in Kerry. Her hair was a bit longer, her eyes no longer held that haunted, hurt look that she hadn't been able to shake the last few months of Kim's time at County, and her crutch was gone.
They sat on the couch and talked for hours, stopping briefly for lunch before continuing. As the sun began to set it was clear that so many things had changed in five years, for both of them. But the tightness in Kim's chest when Kerry took her hand, searched her eyes and whispered "I missed you" before leaning in and brushing her lips over Kim's, Kerry's feeling of euphoria as Kim tangled her hands in her copper hair and replied in a choked sob, "I missed you, too" and the stark need in Kerry's eyes when Kim shifted to straddle Kerry's lap no, those things hadn't changed at all.
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