DISCLAIMER: ER is the property of Constant C Productions, Amblin Entertainment, and Warner Brothers Television. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Why do a Kim/Kerry story after all this time? Why not? Every year or so, I re-watch their episodes and every time I'm struck by something new and it occurred to me that the Kerry Weaver that left County General was not the same that watched Kim as she left County. Even more interesting is that Kim would now be around the same age Kerry was when they started dating.
FEEDBACK: To i_think_youre_wonderful[at]hotmail.com
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Now That It's Done
Kerry wasn't sure if the knock at her door was a knock at her door.
This 'hipster electric' music her assistant had given her to help her 'chill out' made it hard to tell if the many clangs, bangs and sounds were part of the 'sonic landscape' or if they were actual sounds. And while it was often calming, with the lulling of the wave of sounds blending with the sounds of the actual waves outside her house, tonight it was playing tricks on her. Throughout the night she thought she'd hear the doorbell chime when it hadn't, or her phone ring when it didn't. Which didn't make sense because she hadn't given Kim an address or a number to go with her invitation to stop by. Kim's reappearance had her flustered and Kerry Weaver was not a woman who enjoyed fluster. She enjoyed peace, and order, and logic and...a nice glass of red. In fact, she rose to pour herself one when the sound happened again. It was most definitely a knock. "Kerry? It's Kim!" Kerry rushed to the door then paused and counted to five to collect herself so she wouldn't look like she was rushing before she opened the door.
"Kim!" She exclaimed, "Come on in!"
"Kerry! I'm so glad I'm at the right house!" She turned to wave at the car which had dropped her off then stepped into Kerry's house. "I was out there realizing that it's past eleven and I could potentially be knocking loudly at some stranger person's door. Beautiful house by the way."
"Thanks - how did you ev-"
"Carla. I wasn't sure if the invitation was still open, so I figured I'd just stop by - not give you a chance to say no." Kim was nervous, Kerry realized, taking in the other woman's rambling. She reached out and took the younger woman's hand in her own, "I was about to pour myself a glass of wine, can I get you anything?"
"Sure, I'll have whatever you're having."
"Great." Still holding her hand, she lead Kim to the large and airy kitchen, brightly lit and gleaming. "I wouldn't have said no. I'm glad you came." Kerry admitted as she began to busy herself with with wine when she heard Kim speak from where she was sitting at the bar stools by the counter. "What was that?" Kerry turned around, placing a glass of red before the other woman, then pulling up a bar stool on the other side of the counter so they could be face to face.
"I said," Kim cleared her throat, "You would have every right to say no. I was pretty awful the last time we saw each other." She took a sip of wine. "Nice, Australian?"
"No, Californian, it's 100% Malbac, so it's pretty smooth." Kerry explained, taking a deep breath and looking into the ruby red in her own glass. "Kim, I could dance around it, and you could dance around it - but I just-the last time we saw each other, I put you in an awful situation and you will NEVER know how sorry I am for that. We both reacted poorly. Luckily," She took a sip, "We grow. And I hope that that is something we can put behind us?"
"Yes!" Kim stuck out her hand from across the counter and beamed, her blue eyes sparkling. Just how much wine had Kim had to work up the courage to come over, Kerry thought. "Hi, I'm Kim, and you are?"
"Kerry. Kerry Weaver." Kerry laughed as she shook her friend's hand.
"Well Kerry, it's very nice to meet you. You have a lovely house, do you always invite strange blonde ladies in for wine?"
"Only the beautiful ones." Oh God - why are you flirting? Why are you flirting? Why are you flirting? Kerry's internal voice shrieked loudly at her. Unfortunately, Kerry sat there, mesmerized by Kim's smile, and their hands touching and -
"I forgot how beautiful you are, Kerry." What? She couldn't mean in. She was at her best attractive, but not beautiful. Beauty was a strong label to throw around. Besides, that was supposed to be her line.
The sound of a thundering herd of elephants suddenly filled the room, which could only mean one thing - Henry was running down the stairs. Kerry stood, breaking her contact with Kim's hand and braced for her son's arrival. Henry was her pride and joy, her reason for being and the reason for her sleepless nights and worry lines. "Mommommommommom!" He called out, sliding into the tiled kitchen in his stocking feet, "Can I watch one more episode? Please? Donna just became a robot and the Doctor and River have to save her!" He looked up at her, his big brown eyes pleading and his hands were clasped in prayer, buried in still-too-long sleeves of his Chicago Blackhawks jersey his grandparents had given him last Christmas. "Please?" He repeated, sticking his lower lip out into a pout. He was playing with her, he didn't really pout and plead, but it helped him feel more like other children, like he was finagling something extra from his mom, so she went along with it - although most of the time, Kerry found it hard not to laugh at her son's efforts. "Henry, can you say hello to our guest first?" She asked, nodding her head towards Kim. "Then can I watch 'Forest of the Dead'?"
"Henry." She warned.
"Hello, my name Henry Weaver. I'm very pleased to meet you." Kerry watched in delight as he stood on his tip-toes and held out his sleeve-covered hand towards Kim. To her credit, the younger woman did her best attempt at hiding her giggles as she shook his hand. "Very nice to meet you Henry. My name's Kim Legaspi. You know, I have a jersey just like it. I borrowed it from my brother about 15 years ago and I never gave it back."
"Wow. That makes you very old." Henry responded in grave earnestness and Kerry couldn't hold back her laughter anymore.
"Yes, yes it does." Kim handled the moment tactfully - "Almost as old as you mom here." Well, almost tactfully.
"Hen, you know today's Kim's birthday? What do we say to people on their birthdays?" Kerry asked, once she got herself under control.
"Happy Birthday? Happy Birthday Kim Legaspi. Or, do you prefer Kimberly?"
Kerry reached onto the metal storage rack to pull down some plates and paused briefly. She watched Henry through the eyes of the other woman - he was precocious to be sure, smart, well-behaved and polite. In some ways, his very adult mannerisms reminded her of her own upbringing - how Sandy would've loved to watch Henry in moments like this. "Well Henry, most people call me Kim. My mother only calls me Kimberly when I'm in trouble."
"Do you get into trouble a lot?"
"Not a lot... but more than I'd like." Kim laughed. "What do people call you?"
"Well, at school they call me Henry W. 'cause we have a Henry T. as well. And mami and papi call me mijo and mom calls me Henry or Hen, and sometimes she forgets that I'm 8 and will still call me baby, but I'm not a baby anymore, am I mom?"
"Nope, you're my little man. Now, how would you two feel about some birthday cake?"
"Birthday Cake?!" Both of them turned to Kerry, excitement on their faces.
"Yes, birthday cake. And it's almost midnight, so we'll have to eat it fast, otherwise it won't be Kim's birthday!"
"Can we light candles and everything?" Henry asked, watching as Kerry pulled out a glass dome which protected a simple white frosted cake.
"I'd love to honey, but I don't think they're enough candles in the house." Kerry teased, watching as Henry pulled up a stool beside Kim.
"You can say anything you want, Weaver, as long as I get some cake!" Kim responded, "Right Henry?"
"Smart kid - I think we're gonna get along just fine!" Kerry's mind picked up on that comment and filed it away for examination at a later time. With less wine. "You know Ker," Kim said, accepting her piece of cake, "You didn't have to bake me a cake - the flowers were more than enough! What would you have done if I hadn't shown up? You didn't give me your address after all."
"Henry and I would have had this delicious cake for breakfast." Kerry replied with an air of what she hoped was confidant nonchalantness (was that even a word? She wondered) as she settled down across from her friend and her son and taking a bite off her own slice. "Besides, I didn't make it for you. I wanted to try a new recipe." She dipped her head down to hide the blush she was all but certain would be spreading across her face as she lied. "What do you think?"
"I think you still cook when you're nervous." Kim responded quietly. "I also think this cake is delicious. What do you say, Henry?"
"More please?" He asked, his eyes gleaming and frosting smeared across his mouth as he held up his empty plate.
"I think..." Kerry began, smiling at her son "That one piece of cake is enough. Especially right before bed."
"Bed? But you said I could watch one more episode!"
"I did not." Kerry rose and collected the empty plates. "You asked if you could and I distracted you with cake. I never once said you could."
"But...but... Donna! In the library!"
"Henry - how many times have you seen this episode?"
"No buts. You know they save her. Now, PJ's, brush your teeth, bed. I'll be by soon. I love you." She smiled at her son as she kissed him goodnight and watched him trudge out of the kitchen. He stopped and turned around and Kerry put on her best 'I'm Serious' face. But was surprised with him waving past her, "Goodnight Kim."
The kitchen stood silent for a few minutes, save for the music, as Kerry finished cleaning the dishes and poured them some more wine. She could feel Kim's eyes on her. Or, specifically, on what was no longer on her. She settled down on her stool across from Kim and responded to the question. "Five years ago. Surgery."
"I didn't want to say anything earlier, in front of Carla, wasn't sure how much you wanted people to know."
"Thank you. They know, Carla and Pete. I'm still pretty private, but I'm not the same Kerry. People change."
"People change." She watched as Kim raised her glass to mid-air to toast her before taking a sip.
"How about you Kim? What's changed in your life?"
"One thing at a time Kerry, I'm bored of my life, I'd like to hear more about yours. What's the most interesting thing to happen to you?"
"Recently? You." Kerry was tired - the events and the emotions of the day caught up with her.
"Honesty is always one approach."
"It's my only approach." Kerry confessed. "I find it makes things easier."
"I'll keep that in mind. Do you keep in touch with many people from County?"
"Not many - a few."
"Carter. Last time I went back was at the opening of the Clinic Carter opened."
"Good for him. I'm sure it meant a lot to have you there. You meant a lot to him, Ker." Kerry watched in detached curiosity as Kim reached out and placed a hand on her wrist.
"He meant a lot to me. More than I think I ever told him. Uh -" She didn't want to get emotional, not tonight. "Abby and Luka went off to Boston. We do the Christmas and Birthday card route. Elizabeth, oddly enough, pops into town once or twice a month - we go out for dinner."
"As in Corday? Who'd sooner kick the crutch out from under you than be nice?"
"We learned we can be nice to each other so long as we're not working together. Besides..." This seemed as good a time as any to address the unspoken topic of Kim's interest. "She was there for me when Sandy...when Sandy died." She noticed the weight of Kim's hand lift off of her wrist. "I suppose grief will do that, bring out the other sides in people."
"Do you want to talk about Sandy?" Kim asked, looking down at her wine glass.
"No. But I figured you should hear it from me. I know you saw Henry's photo in my office."
"I did. What do you want me to know right now, about Sandy?"
"I..." Kerry paused, unsure of how to respond. She didn't want to talk about the bad things, the custody battles, the lonely nights. "I loved her, and she died too soon and she's been gone longer than we were together, but I still miss her."
"Ok." She watched as Kim digested this information. "Ok."
"Ok." Kim absorbed this information. It was weird to think of Kerry having a tragic, romantic love affair - this was the woman who was so distant, so impersonal that it took months of working together before she could call her 'Kerry' without fear of being Weaver-ed. 'Ok."
"Your turn." Kim groaned as the woman before her smiled up, "Kimberly Legaspi, Doctor extraordinaire escapes from the clutches of County General for the safe haven of San Francisco, then what?"
"Then?" Kim thought, "Nothing."
"Nothing? Kim, I refuse to believe that in 10 years nothing of note happened to you." Kerry laughed, draining the last of her wine.
"I'm sorry to disappoint you - but nothing. Of note anyways. I'm still working, I have friends, I go out, life has been...steady" Too steady, she thought to herself silently "...the last few years. I don't know - it's just...been. Until Miami that is." She really didn't know why she was getting into this. She didn't want to, but here it was, the legendary Legaspi word vomit. "You know I wasn't even supposed to come to the conference? My boss's daughter got sick so he sent me to take his place and present his findings."
"Well..." She watched as Kerry figured out what to say. Way to go, make the widow feel awkward and sad for you, she berated herself. "If you wouldn't mind a professional opinion, Doctor?" Kerry asked, looking up from playing with the stem of her wine glass
"I'd love one, Doctor. Wait - are you even a doctor still here?" She asked, "Because I don't want some quack diagnosing me. If I did, I'd have stayed in San Francisco!" She laughed.
"Kim, you're deflecting." Damn it, she was. "See, I was listening to you when you'd talk to me. Most of the time. When you had your clothes on, anyways." Kerry teased lightly. "You are in your mid-30's; you've stayed in one city longer than you ever have in your entire life, you've probably watched most of your friends get married, or at least partner off, and though you most likely enjoy your job, you may not enjoy your life as much as you think you should and you can't help but wonder why, when you look out across the table during Sunday brunch how come you're still alone, and everyone else has found their missing sock of a partner."
"Well..." Shell shock would be an accurate description of the variety of emotions she felt pouring over her body at Kerry's words.
"Now, I'm only guessing here -"
"It's a hell of a guess Kerry." She snapped, lashing out at the redhead, looking her directly in the eye, "You still don't believe in pussyfooting around, do you? I mean, we've spent an hour together and you're diagnosing me."
"Kim," She watched as the smaller woman took a deep breath then released it, "It's almost one and I'm a little tipsy. I'm usually in bed, sober, by eleven. So I'm tired, and it's a little weird to look across from my kitchen counter where I chop vegetables and see you, pouting, and eyeing the last of the red wine. Would you like it?"
"No." Yes. Yes I would. "And I'm not pouting."
"I have missed you, and your pouting." She watched as the other woman poured out the last of the bottle into the empty cup and push it towards Kim. "You were in my life for a very short time and came to mean a lot to me. I couldn't imagine what my life would've been like if you were never in it, or if you never decided to stay that night at Doc Magoo's."
"That's funny," She laughed, "When I miss you, which has been more than I care to admit, I sometimes wonder what life would've been like if I hadn't stayed that night."
"Do you think you'd be happier?" The older woman asked, her voice tinged with curiosity.
"Yes." Yes, she really did think she'd be happier, at least she wouldn't have known that someone could hurt her so deeply in such a short amount of time. "Things changed after you, Kerry. I changed."
"You got older."
"Whatever it was, I didn't like it. I still don't."
"Well, I don't know what to tell you." Kerry shrugged. "Shit happens."
"Kerry Weaver, did you just quote some Lesbian pop culture to me? I'm impressed!"
"Well thanks," She smiled, her green eyes twinkling, "I was hoping it'd work. Or at the very least make you smile. Kim, I know what you're going though, only because I went through it. It's called 'your 30's'."
"Well, whatever it is, it sucks!" It really does. So much so that I'm going to drink the last of the wine Kerry poured for me. "You know, I didn't ask Carla about you after we left. I didn't want to know." Why did I tell her that? Seriously, if I wasn't already well on my way to being drunk, I'd stop drinking.
"Your story, your status. I mean, I saw the photo of Henry, so I figured some things had changed. But I didn't want to know. I made for a very awkward car ride back."
"I bet." She smirked at me from across the counter as she got up and poured us two glasses of water. "Drink this."
"And then you showed up, at the restaurant, and I thought I could totally handle it." Her head began to swim with the wine and the memories of tonight. "The flowers and the fact that you remembered my birthday was...surprisingly touching. I guess I'm getting sentimental in my old age, though I bet you'd know all about it." I tease her, "What with your advanced age and wisdom. And then...this is where I get lost."
"Lost how?" She asks, watching me carefully.
"I don't know. We go out, and all I could think about for the rest of the night, while I'm out with my friends, was how easy it felt to hug you. Hold you, right, right here..." She pressed her hand firmly against her chest, noticing Kerry nodding in agreement. "And then how you looked crossing the street. You looked like...you...but...some sort of alternate universe you. Like Work Weaver managed to escape the four walls of County and merge with real life Weaver, who was always so...shy. God, you were so painfully shy sometimes, Ker. That's all I kept thinking about, was how I'd like to get to know this Kerry, this version of Kerry Weaver. So when dinner finished, and everyone was deciding where to go for dancing, I had begged Carla for your address and...I drank your wine and got entirely too drunk. I should call a cab!" She stood abruptly, it was past one, wasn't it? Wasn't it what Kerry had said.
"Yes?" She looked for her purse. Did she bring a purse?
"I think you should stay."
"I'm not that drunk." At least she really hoped she wasn't. She really was getting old, wasn't she?
"I'm not saying you are. I'm saying it's past one in Miami on a Friday night, you'll never grab a cab. But I have a guest room, and it faces the water and tomorrow is Saturday, and I always make pancakes on Saturday. Stay?"
She hated Kerry for doing this, for offering. How could she say no when she really didn't want to. She wanted to stay. She wanted to wake up in a strange bed, and have an old friend make breakfast while she watched Saturday morning cartoons with a seven year old she barely knew but liked already. She had wished on her birthday candles at the restaurant for a new life, and here was Kerry, offering her one, at least for a few hours, and she wanted nothing more than to say yes...
Kim stared at the walls surrounding her, curious at what she'd discover. Kerry had lead her up to the guest room then said she'd return with pajamas - but that had been a few moments ago. Kim was proud of herself, she hadn't touched much, not wanting to be caught running her fingers over everything in an effort to try to glean as much information as she could about the strange and familiar woman who'd brought her up here.
The walls were a warm beige, Kerry mentioned they'd be lighter in the sun - she offered to turn on the overhead, but Kim insisted on the soft glow of the bedside lamp. The large bed was laid out in the center of the room, dressed in crisp white sheets. Of course it'd be ready for company, Kim thought to herself, smoothing out a non-existant wrinkle, it was such a Weaver thing. Kim also had a guest room for the rare friend who couldn't make it home, except hers was currently buried in about 3 years worth of wrinkled laundry, old textbooks and gift wrap. Across from the bed, the wall was dominated by a series of dark wooden bookshelves. Each was meticulously organized with books and binders with the odd photo or memento acting as a bookend. The far wall was made mostly of glass, with a door that lead to a small balcony - Kim supposed the inkly blackness that was beyond was the Atlantic. In the corner, against the glass wall stood a wooden desk holding a slim silver laptop and a stack of file folders with a pen placed just so.
Kim cocked her head to the side, hearing footsteps in the hall stop short. Curious, she made her way to the door and opened it slightly - peering out into the dark hallway. Across from her room was Henry's, his closed door now opened and revealing more than she was ever meant to see - a still grieving woman illuminated by the orange glow of her son's nightlight. Kim knew she should close the door, but couldn't bring herself to do it. It was fascinating to Kim, watching people, in their most unguarded moments, to see what they did when they thought no one was watching them. For her, it was like falling in love with her job all over again. Hiding herself behind her door, she continued to watch as Kerry went through the room, picking up some clothes and folding them, taking the crumpled blanket from the foot of Henry's bed and draping it back on his tiny body. She then stopped and kneeled down beside his bed, brushing the dark hair off of his face, she murmured something so softly that Kim couldn't hear, then placed a soft kiss on his forehead. Kim softly shut the door, more out of fear of getting caught overstepping her bounds her bounds as guest than any other sense of propriety. She knew Kerry would be back in a moment and she needed a cover, something to make it seem she had passed the time without intruding. She eyed the books - then noticed the small sound system with an iPod in the center of one of the units. She quickly picked it up and began fiddling with it when Kerry knocked on the door and slowly opened it. "Can I come in?" She asked poking her head in.
"Of course," Kim replied, turning her attention from the gadget in her hand to the woman who just walked in. "Dad rock, Ker? Really?"
"What? Last time you were all cranky because all I listened to was motown, I'm moving up through the decades." Kerry defended herself, as she set a small bundle on the bed. "Besides, the Stones are great to work to."
"Yeah, about that..." Kim began "What do you do?"
"What do you mean? You saw me at the station."
"I did. And while I'm sure you make a good living from that, I sincerely doubt that it's enough for this house."
"That's where your wrong - it's enough for this house."
"But..." The blonde lead on.
"It's not enough for this view." Kerry began to blush. She got Weaver flustered. Excellent. It was about time Kim had the upper hand, if even for a moment.
"Ah. And what is it that provides us with this view? Which I still haven't seen, by the way?"
"It's there, I promise. New topic."
"I wasn't done with the original topic." Now this was curious turn, Kim thought.
"New topic Kim." She looked at her with eyes somewhere between pleading and demanding and something reminded her that the woman before her didn't like to get pushed too far. Besides, she could always snoop around in depth once Kerry left.
"So all that Spiritualized & XX downstairs, who's it belong to?" Kim popped the iPod back onto its stand and it began to play softly. Honestly, she didn't want to know if it was going to be a girlfriend's errant iPod, or worse, an ex's. Kim thought she was entirely too sober for dealing with that.
"What?" Kerry stared at her blankly as if she began to speak another language.
"Downstairs, the music you had playing, those were the bands." Kerry shrugged as she stepped towards Kim, whose breath got stuck somewhere between her lungs and her throat as Kerry reached an arm just past the blonde's arm to change the song. "The noisy hipster stuff? I don't know. Julie's I guess."
"Oh. Julie." Kim repeated, tucking a strand behind her ear, nodding in acceptance. Of course it'd be Julie. Who else. Julie was probably some ultra cool gallery owner who was currently off on some sort of whirlwi-
"I think it was from her boyfriend, actually. Julie's my assistant. Not that you were curious at all." Kerry answered, her mouth in a tight line, but her eyes twinkling with knowledge.
"Not at all Weaver. Just because you think you know everything doesn't mean you actually do." Kim smiled, leaning forward, feeling relieved that her runaway imagination had been checked.
And then she kissed her.
A quick kiss - warm and sweet from wine and cake - but a kiss none the less.
It was over. It was nothing more than a glorified peck, really - but it was a kiss, and it was Kerry and ... "God Kerry, I'm sorry, I -"
"Don't worry about it." Kerry gave her hand a light squeeze then stepped back. "It was bound to happen."
"I didn't mean to - I shouldn't have do-" Kerry swiftly stood up on her toes and placed her lips against Kim's for a moment, then lowered herself back down.
"Feel better?" The redhead asked.
"Um. Maybe after another one?"
"Don't push your luck Legaspi, it's not your birthday anymore." Kerry smiled then turned around towards the bed. "I brought you something to change into. If you get cold, I keep a sweater in the drawer of the desk - so feel free to grab that. I also brought you some towels if you wanted to shower tomorrow morning." She handed Kim a pair of grey shorts and a white t-shirt.
"Thanks." Kim took the offered clothes, careful not to touch the other woman's hand - afraid of pushing too far too fast. Not that she knew what she was pushing to.
The air had changed, the mood had changed - suddenly everything grew heavy around them. Kim wasn't sure what to do, she just knew she was desperate to regain that earlier sense of ease. She turned to the darkness past the window. "So that's your ocean?"
"That's our ocean." Kerry repeated, crossing to the balcony door and throwing it open, letting the chill and the sound of the waves rush in at them. Kim stepped forward until she was close enough to feel the heat from the smaller woman, while not quite touching her. This was nice, standing together, staring out into the vast darkness, listening to the dull din of the beach. It was lifetimes away from where she had ever thought she'd be. For once, Kim was glad to have been wrong. "It's beautiful."
"Well, you see one ocean, you've seen 'em all." Kim smirked, bumping shoulders with the other woman. "You are lucky, seeing it every day. I'm trying to think of the last time I went to the ocean was. I mean, you can see it from the Peaks, but actually going - it's probably been... too long."
"Seems to be a recurring theme in your life."
"I'm sorry, shouldn't I be lying down?" Kim asked, "I mean if you're going to analyze me."
"Good night, Kim." Kerry turned around and headed to the door.
"Good night, Ker." Kim replied, afraid to turn around. She could see the other woman's reflection in the window, leaning against the doorjamb, her exhaustion hiding behind her hair. She always always thought Kerry looked beautiful tired, it was the only time she was unguarded. Vulnerable. She liked that. It was proof that Kerry wasn't as strong as she pretended to be. That she was human, just like the rest of the world. Kim remembered how hard it was to watch Kerry at County General - nobody, herself included, was ever good enough, or quick enough for her. That's what made those precious moments of sheer vulnerability so unexpected, so alluring. If Kim turned around, she wasn't quite sure she'd be able to stop herself from doing or saying something stupid. After a long moment, she heard the click of the door shut behind her.
Ok, so maybe she was starting to get some sort of idea as to what she had been pushing for, she thought as she stripped down, tossing her clothes in the corner. And it was a bad, bad idea. A very bad idea. She repeated as she slid into Kerry's clothes and crawled into bed, turning off the lights. It would be an awful idea, falling back in love with the woman who broke her heart, especially if said woman was still devastatingly heartbreaking, and had a child, and lived clear across the country. The sound of the waves began to carry her towards sleep, further and further from her slowly growing thoughts. There would be time for thinking tomorrow. Tonight, she was safe, and warm, and full of cake and good thoughts. Tomorrow, she thought to herself as she fell deeper into sleep.
It wasn't the bright grey of morning that woke Kerry up, or the sound of the tide rushing up and down the sand, it wasn't even the seagulls squawking. No, she was used to all those sounds, they had become as second nature to her as her neighbors' car alarm once was. It was the sense of confusion, that something wasn't quite right that pulled her up from the depths of her dreams towards the day. She blinked once, twice in the grey light and looked around to figure out where she was. "Ugh." She tossed her head back against the patio chair she had slept on last night. She hated waking up here - on the balcony of her bedroom - it usually meant stiff joints and muscles, and while she was no longer reliant on her crutch, her mobility was a matter which required her attention, if not others. The wear and tear her body had already been through had taken their toll and the damage was done - she should've known better than to do something as stupid as sleep on a cramped chair in the chilly air. At least she had thought to grab a blanket to wrap around herself, she thought as stretched one arm, than the other, above her head until the stiffness pushed the pain into pleasure. She glanced at her watch, almost seven. Too early for breakfast, too late to go back to sleep... How did she fall asleep out here when she hadn't done it in ages?
Last night ... last night... She remembered the kiss - which was playful for her, and fun - a way to prove that for once and for all she was over Kim Legaspi, both the ghost and the girl. She'd always be a girl to Kerry, with her curls and her smirks and her laugh and those eyes which couldn't help but reveal everything she was feeling (even if most of last night was a mixture of longing and confusion). But then the night turned, somewhere between the ocean and the door, Kerry remembered Kim's reflection in the window before she left for the night, looking back at her with sheer desire. She left before she could say anything, or do anything they'd both regret, but as she closed the door she remembered being overcome by sadness. She had gone into her room and out onto her balcony to look up at the stars and the ocean - vastness scared her, so she never understood why she loved it here. Even as a child, the vastness of spaces terrified her, the ability to see nothing but space, infinite seeming space, was unsettling. Maybe it was this connection to her childhood that drew her to the sea, the same sense of infinity. She knew there was an end to the ocean, just as she knew there was an end to life, to the hot water in her shower, but it still seemed endless to her. She curled up on her chair and listened to the water and the music drifting from the next room over - the next thing she knew, here she was.
She rose slowly, shifting her weight from hip to hip, trying to ease out the tension in her body. It was a beautiful morning - the shadowy clouds wouldn't last long, but they were perfect for her Saturday runs. She she entered her room and began to shed her clothes and put on her running gear. Running was a generous term. People like Kim, or Julie, or Pete were runners. They measured every breath and step and mile - she was, uncharacteristically, rather lax about it. For Kerry, running was something to do, something new to experience. She knew she'd never be great at it, she would, after a lifetime of being tied to her crutch, settle for being competent. She left her room and from the hall she popped her head into Henry's room, and couldn't help but smile, his limbs sprawled out across the bed and dangling off the bed - he reminded her so much of Sandy when she watched him like this. She tore herself away from his door and paused at the closed door of the guest room where she fought the urge to peek in.
With her sneakers slung over her shoulder, she made her way down the stairs and through her kitchen onto the deck, careful to slide the door shut behind her. She stepped into her sneakers then stepped down onto the sand and past the fence towards the water. She never stretched - never saw the point of it when her warm up did the same thing. One foot in front of the other, one breath in and one breath out - she kept her eye on the distance ahead. She was thankful for the clouds, keeping the heat and the crowds away for a bit. Kerry loved these mornings, these moments - they happened so infrequently that when they did occur, she would marvel at them. This was a new acquisition to her personality - learned from Henry, the joy for the good things in life, no matter how many times they occurred. Not for the first time in her life, she was astonished at where she ended up; literally and figuratively miles away from where she'd started, but that seemed to be her life; Africa to America; Chicago to Miami - always where people least expected her. After about 15 minutes, she decided to double back with the goal of keeping the same brisk pace. Other runners sped past her, but she was unconcerned, focusing instead on the dull thudding sound of her sneakers in the wet sand and the water rushing up to meet her. One foot in front of the other, one breath in and one breath out.
Entering her kitchen from the deck, she kicked off her shoes and poured herself a glass of water and swallowed it down in a single breath. From upstairs she could hear Henry starting to stir, which meant Kim would wake up soon too, unless she had become a heavier sleeper since their last meeting. She made her way to the laundry room where she peeled off the wet t-shirt which clung to her back and put on a fresh one from the dryer, thankful that she had forgotten all about that last load. She glanced at her purse and thought for a moment to spray on some perfume - not that she was expecting anyone to get close to her she thought, then rolled her eyes at her own lies and riffled through until she found her bottle and misted herself generously, drawing the line at lipstick. Perfume could be excused, lipstick seemed obvious. She headed back to her kitchen and turned on her iPod, then the coffee machine. Saturdays had their routines, their rituals, and she was nothing if not a devout observer of them. She pulled out her ingredients and began to work meticulously. She set her eggs into a bowl of warm water, washed the pint of blueberries, pulled out the flour and sugar and mixed and stirred them all together - she had made this recipe so many times that it was rote, as familiar to her as stitches. She set the pan to warm on the stove and turned on the oven to heat up the breakfast plates then searched the fridge until she found her secret ingredient... the cans of Sprite she hid in the back, away from Henry's prying eyes. He loved guessing the 'secret ingredient' and each week she'd give him one guess and each week he'd guess wrong, the deal being that if he guessed right, she'd teach him how to make her super-secret, super-awesome pancakes.
"Morning..." He yawned, padding down the stairs in his pajamas and socks, a blanket dragging behind him.
"Can I watch..." He yawned again coming up to her and burying himself in her side in a hug, causing her to hold hers back, "TV until breakfast is ready?"
"Sure, but can you do me a huge favor and go and GENTLY knock on Kim's door and see if she wants breakfast?"
"H'okay." He yawned one last time and stretched before dragging his blanket back up the stairs, allowing Kerry to return to the task at hand. She measured out the batter and dropped in the berries - behind her, she heard the familiar theme song of Henry's favorite show.
"Oh my GOD Kerry, have you seen that woman?" Kim greeted her, standing in the doorway between the kitchen and the TV, "She's the spitting image of Elizabeth Corday!"
"I know, he's convinced it's her -" Kerry replied, glancing over her shoulder at her guest. She slid the pancakes onto a waiting plate and slid it into the warm oven and began the next round. "Uncanny isn't it?" Free for a moment, she turned to face the other woman who made her way further into the kitchen. Something seemed...odd, she thought about Kim, standing there in her shorts and her worn grey hoody. "Good morning."
"Morning." Kim replied, smiling at her, "Hope you don't mind, I borrowed your hoody?"
"No, no, it looks good on you."
"It should." The blonde smirked at her, "I was wondering where it went."
"Ah..." Kerry turned around to flip the pancakes, hoping the embarrassment wasn't obvious. "You can have it back."
"Thanks, but I think it belongs here now, you've had it longer." She felt the taller woman place a light touch on her hip as she stood behind her and grabbed a mug from the cupboard. Kerry was suddenly very thankful for her spritz of perfume. "Pour you coffee?" Kim asked, stepping back and removing her hand.
They moved in unison, aware of the other, but not in their way until Kim eventually settled at the counter on the same chair she occupied last night. Kerry slid another batch of pancakes in the oven and began pulling out some fruit from the fridge, quickly chopping up bananas, apples and pears into a bowl. She avoided looking at Kim, even though she knew she was being watched by blue eyes peering over the rim of her coffee mug. She didn't want to see Kim sitting there, drinking coffee as if this was normal, because it wasn't and it would never be, and for some reason, she really, really wanted it to be.
"You ok?" Kim asked, her lips curling upwards. Kerry had happily lived for a long time without that Cheshire cat grin - she had a feeling those days were over.
"I believe it's deflection, Doctor." Kerry replied, hoping her lips curved convincingly into a match of Kim's.
"I love watching you work in the kitchen." Kim spoke, changing the topic as she stood. "Want to hand me some silverware? I keep expecting your crutch - and it never appears. It's like a magic trick."
"Never. Henry - pause the TV, breakfast is ready!" Kerry pulled out the plates and handed them across the counter to Kim who set them at the table.
"Do you miss it?"
"No." She smiled at Henry and passed Kim a glass of juice to set at his seat. "I do miss being able to threaten others with it though." She joked, joining her son and Kim at the table.
"Oh, I'm sure you're scary all on your own, Doctor Weaver."
"Flattery will get you everywhere." She teased, watching them dig into their plates.
"All I want it to get me is more of these pancakes! They're great, aren't they Henry?!"
"Mopsgfui" He answered, gulping down some juice.
"Mouth full. Can't talk." He repeated between bites.
"You know you can breathe between bites, right?" Kerry asked her son, watching in amazement as he finished his plate and took another helping of fruit.
"I told Tim I'd meet him next door so we can um..."
"I'm guessing the end of that isn't 'to do homework' is it?" Kerry teased, popping a banana chunk in her mouth.
"And do you have homework?"
"Yes. But that's what SUNDAYS are for! Right Kim?" He asked, flashing her a charming smile.
"Hey buddy, that's between you and your mom. I've got one job, and that's to finish these pancakes." Kim said, snatching a piece of pancake from Kerry's plate.
"Hey -" Kerry fended off Kim's returning fork. "Ok, you can go to Tim's and leave homework for tomorrow, but I want at least 1 hour of practice today, OK?"
"Deal!" He shot up from the table, grabbing his dishes and dropping them in the sink with a crash before running up the stairs. "I'm going to go get ready! Thanks mom! See you when I get back, Kim!"
"Bye Henry!" The blonde called out, spooning more fruit onto her plate.
Kerry glanced over at the woman to her left, curious to see her reaction, but there was none.
"Henry's right, you know." Kim began, finishing off her pancakes, "The Sprite really does make a difference."
"He said it's the Sprite that makes your pancakes great. He's right, all airy and light. What's wrong?"
"Nothing," Kerry said, shaking her head slightly.
"Well something's bothering you, what is it?" Kim asked, getting up and refilling both of their coffee cups.
"It's just..." Kerry was at a loss for words, watching Kim move around as if she belonged here, watching her son treat her as if she belonged here.
"Henry's really shy. I just haven't seen him..." She didn't know what she wanted to say, just that she hadn't seen Henry take to that many people so quickly.
"Guess I just have that natural charm, on Weavers at least." Kim responded, "You know, if you're not going to finish that..." Kim motioned towards the left over pancake on her plate.
"It's all yours." Kerry pushed the plate towards the other woman and watched in wonder as she made short work of it. She supposed in the same way Kim liked watching her work in the kitchen, Kerry liked watching Kim enjoy eating. She liked the way Kim looked sitting at the table, the sun starting to peek out past the clouds and shine onto those yellow curls. She liked those yellow curls. She liked looking over the counter and seeing Kim sitting on the second chair and she didn't like where this line of thought was going. Kerrry quickly rose and began to clear the plates.
"Leave those, Ker. Just sit down a minute."
"I should get them in the dishwasher before I jump into the shower."
"I'll do it. You go, shower." Kim offered, getting up and making her way over to Kerry at the sink.
"You sure?" Kerry wouldn't normally let a guest do it, but given Kim's proximity, and the rush of emotions she was suddenly feeling, she'd take any out she could to escape being so close to the other woman. She stepped away, towards the doorway.
"Yeah. You looked good out there." Kim said, "Nice form."
"You saw me?" Kerry asked.
"Yeah, I wanted to take a look at this ocean of yours, make sure you weren't just trying to get me in bed, and there you were. Pretty good pace, good form. Look cute in your shorts too."
And with that, Kim turned to face the sink and began to rinse the dishes.
I can feel Kerry watching me. It's like a sixth sense. She's always had this way of looking at me with nothing but compete and utter honest emotions pouring out of her eyes. I've often wonder if she looks at everyone like that, or just the chosen few. If I was going to get all maudlin, I'd wonder if she looked at Sandy that way, or whoever came after. But it's entirely too nice here, sitting on the patio with my legs up, basking in the sun with a cup of coffee in my hand. I'm just going to sit here for a minute longer and enjoy it, every last moment and detail of it. I know it'll be gone sooner than I know - I have work tomorrow.
It all seems like it's so far away, and if I'm honest, I like it being so distant from me here and now. I like that for a few moments longer I can pretend that Kerry's life is mine, that I can slip into someone's life as easily as they can slip into my hoody. I tug the sleeves of my hoody, tempted to take it back with me, I remember buying it after a long hunt for the perfect one. Christy thought I was insane dragging her from store to store; when she found out I let Kerry borrow it she was sure I was certifiable. I couldn't help it, I liked thinking of Kerry in it. When I left, I thought about asking for it back but couldn't bring myself to do it, I just wanted to get rid of everything she had ever touched, wore or liked. I wonder if she even - "You can take it back with you." She finally murmured, stepping out onto the deck and sitting down on the chair next to me.
"It's yours. I considered it a write-off years ago." I smile and hold up my cup of coffee to cheers with her. "This really is a beautiful place, you must love it."
"I do. I never thought this is where life'd end up..." She looks out at the ocean, following my gaze. "Sometimes I wonder how long it'll last."
"Still the pessimist I see?"
"Still like to see every possibility and prepare for them."
"Some you can't see coming, Ker." I say, only half thinking of our situation.
"You're right. You can't. You just do your best to go along with them. It's not always a bad thing." She takes a sip from her coffee. The air between us changes and I know if I don't make my exit, this conversation will veer towards heavy territory that I'm not ready to deal with. Call it the San Franciscan in me.
"How big's your water heater? Think you've got any hot water to spare?" I smile, lowering my legs off the railing and rising.
"Sit a while." She invites me, looking up.
"I'd love to - but I should head back to my hotel and pack up before my flight."
"Are you ok?"
"Great! I've had the best night's sleep that I can remember, I got to eat all the pancakes I want and drink all the coffee I want. I'm a woman of simple pleasures." I reach down and place a hand on her shoulder.
"I mean, are YOU ok?"
"I've been better." I admit, "I've also been worse. I'm still here, so that's saying something." And as I speak I can feel the conversation careening off the rails.
"You know, you're the age I was when we first met -" She takes my hand off my shoulder and leads me back to my chair where I flop down, bringing my knees up to my chest. "I know what it's like, looking around at everyone and wondering why they get to live these 'real' lives."
"My life's real..." I mutter, knowing a) that that's completely not the point and b) that she's right. She shoots me a look and continues. "You know what I mean. You wonder why they get to be paired off, but you're too exhausted to actually engage in that. Sometimes you wonder why no one falls out of the sky in front of you. Sometimes you think dying alone wouldn't be too bad of an option so long as you don't have a cat to eat your corpse when you die."
"I have a goldfish. Had. He died. You know you can overfeed them?"
"Right when you're ok with all this, the dead goldfish and the possibility of being single for all of eternity, someone comes in. They're this amazing, beautiful person who wants to spend time with you, get to know you and makes you laugh and do everything you'd forgotten how to do."
"And then they leave. Or you leave. It doesn't last."
"Your right, it doesn't. Not all the time. But you're a new person when it's over. Someone who remembers how to laugh and smile. It begins again."
"And then it ends it ends. Do you see the common theme here Ker? I appreciate what you're doing but-"
"I'm not the same person I was when you left." She says. It comes out so easily, so smoothly. I blink at her.
"I don't know what you're saying."
"I'm not the same person I was when you left." She repeats, looking at me, squinting in the sun.
"In some ways you are. And in some ways I'm not the same person I was when I left. In someways I am." I sigh. There hasn't been enough gin consumed to make this conversation even remotely possible.
"Then we'll work through it."
"Towards what, Ker? You're here. I'm in San Francisco. You have a child, I have a dead goldfish. You have a house and I have a sublet. Do you see where this is going? There's very little to work through!"
"There's you and there's me. There's still this between us."
"And what do you want me to do about it? Because there's not a whole lot of options I can think of." She's looking at me with those eyes - and I remember what it's like to be Weavered all over again. "You know, I can shower at the hotel." I say, too tired for all of this. I get up make my way to the door. In the reflection of the glass I see Kerry standing, looking at me as I'm walking away. This feels entirely too familiar. I can't seem to go in, but I can't seem to look at her so I stand where I am. Rooted in place. I close my eyes for a moment to gather strength for whatever's going to come next, and when I open them, Kerry is between the door and me. She places a hand on my hip as she steps close and raised the other to my face. I can smell the soap on her wrist and the shampoo from her hair. "Or you can stay?" She murmurs, bringing her lips to mine. It's not an earth shattering moment. We had kissed last night. Twice. But it was...peaceful and calm. There was a promise of something more in the way she ran her hand through my hair, but the distance of what could be the last kiss between two people. Everything we were and had spoken about was right there in our kiss.
I could stay, or I could go.
It was entirely up to me.
"Or I could stay." I murmur, deepening our kiss. We'll figure it out. We will. Because while we may still be the same stubborn and determined Kim and Kerry we were in Chicago, we're not. We know what's important, and it's not pride; or fear; or anger.
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