DISCLAIMER: I don't own the characters, they're not mine. Wish they were, though.
AUTHOR'S NOTE / SPOILERS: Post S10, sequel to Ghosts and Thieves and I'm still pretending that episode 1 of S11 never aired. Written October 2004 - Thanks to Lisa for beta-reading.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Now What
By JayT

She held on to Kerry, rocking her softly, soothing her. She wasn't prepared for this outburst, hadn't seen it coming. She had felt Kerry respond to her touches and caresses in a way that should have given her a clue that something was wrong, or rather, different. She held Kerry until the sobbing subsided and her breathing steadied, evened, and she finally fell asleep. Their bodies close together, she held one arm around the smaller woman's body and the other above her head, softly stroking her hair, all the while planting small kisses on her neck and shoulders.

Her mind a turmoil of thoughts and emotions, she lay in silence, trying to create order out of the chaos in her head and heart. She had slept with enough women to know that this night was different in more ways than one. The extent of her own arousal had surprised her. Not the arousal itself, but the fact that it was more than just a physical, sex-driven sensation. Sure, there were a few women who had meant a great deal to her - she had even called it love - but this time her feelings were so utterly altruistic, wanting to give so much more than to take; wanting to protect this woman, who was the cause of so much pain in the past and even had her running from life itself, but who moved her in a way that no woman before had ever done.

She had never been this close to someone, emotionally. Of course Kerry was no stranger to her, but that was a long time ago, and they were different people now. It felt like a second first time, and her mind traveled back to the night when she had first taken Kerry home with her. A careful exploration of each other's bodies had followed, both shy in their own way. It was Kerry's first time with a woman, and Kim had felt a duty to take control and lead the way. But Kerry wasn't sexually inexperienced, and during lovemaking she became bolder, first copying Kim's motions and then inventing her own. Tonight, she had been witness to an eruption of grief, bottled up for God knew how long. She had seen the world of hurt that lay behind Kerry's heartbreaking weeping. They were most likely tears of loss and pain, and perhaps even of guilt and what more, now that the floodgates were open. She had seen the innermost part of Kerry Weaver, and would probably never see it again.

Kerry's vulnerability didn't bother her in the least or diminish her in any way. Only the truly strong could be really small. But she doubted whether Kerry knew this, let alone believe it. Knowing Kerry, and taking into account her present emotional instability, this night could probably only have two outcomes: she would never hear from her again, or… She forced herself away from her train of thought when she felt herself dozing off. She fought against the coming of sleep, wanting to stay awake, afraid of what the morning would bring. But the heaviness of her eyelids, her languorous limbs and the warmth and safety of their joined bodies drifted her into a deep and comfortable slumber. The last thing she remembered was the faint familiar smell of the bare skin against her cheek.

Cut the crap, Kerry, and stop feeling sorry for yourself.

It was Sandy's voice, so vivid and clear she thought that if she opened her eyes, her favourite fire fighter would be standing in front of her with her hands on her hips and a determined look on her face. The one that wouldn't take no for an answer. She didn't open her eyes, afraid to lose the image, even if it was Sandy reproaching her, scolding her.

This is not the woman I fell in love with, the rant continued. Where is my beautiful, self-assured and able doctor Weaver?

O, to hear that voice again, to see those beautiful eyes, feel those tender arms.

Come on, Kerry, stop the self pitying act. It doesn't suit you. And it doesn't help you either.

She had heard it for days, but seemed incapable of complying with her dead lover's request. She didn't want to lose these rare moments that enabled her to go back to a time when she had been so perfectly happy. Just the three of them together on an early spring afternoon, enjoying each other, right there, right then. She wanted to hang on to that.

She still felt guilty. To have betrayed Sandy. Even though Kim was not just another woman, betrayal it was, mourning for a lover and sleeping with another. How she ended up in that hotel room was beyond her. It was not like Kim had lured her into coming with her. She was about to step out of the taxi, had it not been for Kerry's own statement, made in the spur of the moment, wanting to prolong that moment of stirring intimacy. Kim had been so nice to her, so sweet in trying to get her out of the house and into the living world again. She knew that that was the reason behind Kim's first dinner invitation, and she would have declined, had it been any other's request, but with Kim she had unfinished business and thus accepted.

Whatever the reason, the effect was the same. She came out of her carefully constructed shell and faced the real world again. She had been insecure and Kim's presence a beacon in a stormy sea. But that was a cheap excuse. It was not that she just happened to be around at the right time. That was not it at all. Yet she had acted as a catalyst in an irreversible process but hadn't come out unharmed. There was damage done, Kerry realized. She tried hard to get Sandy's image back. She needed more scolding.

When are you going on with your life, she heard Sandy say. Is this your way of letting Henry know you love him? He needs his mother, Kerry. One who will fight for him!

"I did fight for him!" This one a clear hit. She had opened her eyes and spoken out loud. "I did fight for him," softer now. The thought of her baby boy was too much.

I'm the one who's dead, Kerry, not you. You have to get on with your life, for Henry's sake as well as yours. I just want you to be happy, baby.

She sat in her chair, for how long she didn't know, Sandy's voice ringing in her ears.

If she's the one that can make you happy, Kerry, you'd be a fool to let her go. You'd be a fool…

Kim had difficulty picking up her life where she had left it more than a week ago. She felt a loss, an emptiness that wasn't there last week. It wasn't really pride that prevented her from picking up the phone, rather fear of disappointment. She didn't think she could take another one of those Weaver punches. She'd gone down one too many times. She realized she was taking a risk, but she was in her mid-thirties now, not eighteen anymore. Youth's playfulness had abandoned her long ago. Now, she wanted stability, a love of her own.

She found herself staying close to the phone, any phone. Not exactly waiting for it to ring, just pondering what she would do if it did. She had looked at the situation from every angle possible and in the end she dismissed them all with an O, what the hell. She had to go on. She suddenly remembered she'd promised to get back to Carl. She made a mental note to call him tonight and get it over with. It dawned on her that the course of her life would be influenced once again by this enigmatic woman. Sometimes she wished she had never set eyes - let alone hit - on her, but she couldn't help herself, not then, not now. She was drawn to the mystery of her personality, the strict and meticulous chief of emergency medicine who did everything according to the book and who didn't allow her personal life to interfere with her work, ever. And on the other hand there was this intensely sweet and deeply caring woman who would do anything for a patient in need. Sometimes, when Kerry had called her down for a psych consult, she had longed to be the one under close examination, to be the one to lie in that hospital bed and be the sole object of her soothing voice and able hands. That wish had eventually come true, many times after, albeit not in a hospital bed, but most certainly horizontal.

The five days that separated her from her memorable night with Kerry had come and gone in a misty haze, in which everything had passed in a kind of real-time slow motion. Her senses were intensely acute, as if awoken after a period of inert hibernation. She felt like a bear waking up after sleeping through a long and chilly winter. While her metabolism had stepped up a pace, her craving for food had disappeared almost completely. She was losing weight fast. Not that she needed to - she had never been fat - but what could she do. Those were the physics of nature involving the presence of a mating partner. All she could think about was sex. She was eating, drinking and sleeping sex, her body in a perpetual state of excitement. She tried hard to concentrate on her work but her body had a mind of its own, its physical effects hard to ignore.

"Uhumm, Dr. Legaspi...?"

She was startled out of her reverie and returned her attention to the person sitting in front of her.

"I'm sorry, Jason, my thoughts wandered for a moment."

"Rough day?" the medical student replied.

"You could say that," she said, offering him a weak smile. "But not too rough to let it interfere with our conversation. So shoot, what is it that attracts you in psychiatry?"

She conducted the interview without further distractions, and accompanied the young man to the elevator, exchanging some last information. She stumbled against a crutch that was placed against one of the seats in the waiting area and, while continuing her conversation, she picked it up and returned it to its original position, muttering an excuse to the woman sitting in the seat beside it. The image sunk in only after she had returned her attention to the person next to her. Her heart missed a beat and she barely managed to finish her conversation. She said goodbye and waited another moment, then took a deep breath and turned around. She looked Kerry straight in the eye, seeing in her expression a mixture of determination and submission, as if already accepting defeat, but not without a worthy struggle. They looked at each other for a moment, both not knowing what to do next. Kerry stood up, put her arm through her crutch and picked up her suitcase. "I hope you will hear me out," she said softly.

Kim was still recovering from shock, put on the spot in her own territory. She realized she hadn't looked at the situation from this particular angle and inwardly cursed. "Okay," she managed at last. "Let's step into my office." She resisted the urge to take the suitcase from Kerry's hands, and showed the way, trying hard to put two and two together. Kerry - San Francisco - suitcase, what did that add up to? She closed the door behind Kerry and pointed at one of the easy chairs in her office. "I'm afraid I don't have much time right now. Perhaps we should have this conversation at a later time, and somewhere else," she suggested. "Do you have some place to stay? Have you booked a hotel?"

"Not yet," Kerry replied. "I came straight from the airport. I'm just glad I found you here." A pause followed. They looked at each other in anticipation.

"Shall I wait until you've finished your shift or do you want to meet tonight? That will give me time to find some accommodation."

Their conversation had turned from a somewhat distant level to a more personal one, and Kim loosened up a little. She didn't want to send Kerry out on the street again searching for some place to stay. She hesitated a moment, then said: "Listen, uhm…" She walked to her desk and took out a post-it note. While she wrote something down, she said: "I'm off in two hours. This is my address, and here's my key." She took out a set of keys from her bag and offered one to Kerry. "Go to my house and freshen up a bit. I'll be home around – she looked at her watch – seven."

Kerry looked at Kim, eyes warm and grateful. She took the key from Kim's hand, her fingers brushing Kim's, leaving them there. The touch of their hands was electrifying. They looked into each other's eyes, blinking once or twice, but not wavering. Kerry understood that the next move had to be hers. She raised her other hand and moved it slowly to Kim's face, touching the delicate skin, caressing it. Kim was slightly trembling, both from tension and anticipation. She tilted her head into the touch of Kerry's hand and closed her eyes. She felt a light pressure at the base of her neck, causing her head to move forward until she felt Kerry's lips on her mouth. It was a shy kiss, without the rush she had felt a few days ago, gentle, unhurried. Completely off balance by now, Kim leaned into the kiss and opened her mouth, putting her arms around Kerry and pulling her towards her. Their tongues touched and engaged in a slow and sexy dance.

It wasn't the first time they had kissed, and it may not have been the most perfect kiss, but both women knew in that instant that it was probably their most significant one. It was a kiss of want and need and of quiet desperation, of loneliness and grief and letting go, of promise and surrender, of hope.

It was Kim who disentangled from their embrace by releasing Kerry and taking a step back. They looked at each other, faces flushed, both catching their breaths.

"I think you'd better go now," Kim managed, hardly recognizing her own voice. "We still need to have that talk."

Kerry nodded unsteadily. "You're right." She picked up her crutch that had fallen to the floor sometime during their embrace. Kim noticed that she still held the key and the post-it note in her hand. She gave the items to Kerry, who took them without further ado and put them in her pocket. "I'll see you later then," she said.

"Make yourself at home," Kim heard herself say.

"I will, thanks."

They parted a little awkwardly, and as Kerry walked out of her office, Kim closed the door and leaned her back against it, wondering where the hell this was going to go. She stood there for minutes, unable to move, calculating and deducing her options. The sound of her pager interrupted her thoughts. She checked the device. She was wanted in the ER. Just as well, she thought, thankful for the distraction.

Downstairs, in the entrance hall, Kerry tried hard to control the storm of emotions she felt raging inside her. When she had calmed down a bit, she called for a taxi. She waited for it to arrive, too agitated to sit down. Her conviction hadn't left her. She needed Kim, more now than ever. How was it possible then that she felt this intense pain ever since her night with Kim, when she had reached out for sheer life. She had held on to her body as if to grasp and absorb its ardent energy; the body she so wonderingly had explored years ago, when she first lay beside it, curious about its reaction to her touch. She had been amazed that she could evoke such passion, that her fingers could have such powerful effect. She could still remember some of the nights they had spent together, and the look of Kim's body after they had made love, completely fulfilled, as beautiful and yet so different from Sandy's…

The thought of Sandy increased the pressure in her chest and made her close her eyes. She swallowed and blinked several times while at the same time trying to divert her thoughts. When the tears subsided, her taxi just arrived. After the driver put her suitcase in the trunk, she gave him Kim's address and got in the backseat of the cab. Exhaustion fell over her when she settled down and the cab pulled up to find its way through the city.

After thirty minutes the taxi slowed down and she recognized the house before the taxi driver had parked in front of it. Kim's description had been fairly accurate. She paid the driver and waited for him to get her suitcase. He offered to carry it up to the front door and unlike her normal self, she let him. She took the key from her pocket and tried to insert it into the lock, half expecting the door to be opened by a woman in jogging suit, telling her that Kim was out working and would she care to wait inside. She opened the door and entered a spacious hallway that lead to a living room that breathed Kim's personality, with modern furniture and carefully arranged matching accessories. She recognized some of them, somehow pleased to notice that apparently Kim had felt the need to keep them. The walls were smooth and white and had colourful paintings hanging on them. It was a tastefully decorated room that had the elegance and chic of the sophisticated woman Kim was. So unlike Sandy, who was much more practical in her choice of furniture and decoration. How could she care so much for two such different women? And yet she did, painfully aware that although Kim was the first woman she had ever loved, Sandy would probably have been her last. If it wasn't for her death, she would never have set foot in this house.

She put down her suitcase and took off her coat. She walked back to the hall and found a coat rack in the hall closet. She decided to freshen up before Kim would come home. She took the stairs and left her crutch at the bottom. Mounting stairs with a suitcase and a crutch was never her strong point. She checked the upstairs rooms in search for the bathroom. She came across a room that looked like the master bedroom and closed it again. She didn't want to invade Kim's privacy. The next door led to the bathroom, which had the same ambiance as the living room. The bathroom furniture were all white or broken white. The towels in the open cabinet and the other accessories provided the only colours in the room, various shades of blue. Although she had permission to be here, she felt like a voyeur, as if she was looking into the inside of Kim's head, seeing her personality expressed in the way she arranged her house and played with colours. She felt somewhat out of place. She opted for a shower, though what she really wanted was a nice, hot bath. Too much invasion, she decided, and turned on the water. She showered quickly and opened her suitcase to take out some clean clothes. When she finished dressing she checked her watch; it was almost six. She had an hour to spend before Kim would come home. As she was feeling tired she checked for a spare room and found it at the end of the hall. She lay down on the bed and almost immediately fell asleep. The ringing of a bell, far and distant, eventually woke her up.

The initial two hours that separated her from the end of her shift first became three, then four. It was one of those freaky Fridays on which not only the regular head cases walked into the ER, but the seriously mentally ill as well; the ones she had to calm down and reason with, using all of her professional, interpersonal and linguistic skills to prevent them from harming themselves and others. Those were the most challenging patients, consuming all of her energy, but making her work at the end of the day utterly rewarding and worthwhile. When she committed the last one to her ward and handed over all new patients to her colleagues on the night shift, it was eight o'clock. She hadn't thought about Kerry until her shift was effectively over. She was still full of adrenaline and actually wasn't ready to go home yet, let alone face her lover or ex-lover or what the hell she was nowadays, to engage in another energy-draining, life-depending debate she'd just abundantly experienced. All she wanted was to get loaded and to get laid; in which order she didn't particularly care. But somehow she had serious doubts about any of those options occurring tonight. As she walked to her car, she tried to picture the evening that lay before her. She already regretted having given Kerry her key, because she now had to ring her own doorbell and say what...Honey, I'm home? O, what was she thinking? She got in her car and waited a minute, trying to calm her overactive mind by absorbing the darkness in the parking garage. The only sound she heard was her stomach beginning to feel the absence of solid food. She wished she could just go home and lie down in oblivion, but there were things to work out. She wanted to know what Kerry's intentions were and what she expected from her. If it was consolation she was after or peace of mind, well, there were some excellent therapists she could recommend. After another minute she started the engine and slowly steered her car towards the exit.

She took the detour, procrastinating, delaying the inevitable. When she finally turned the corner of her street, she saw from a distance that the house was completely dark, contrary to her expectations. Slightly alarmed, she entered her driveway and parked her car. That would be just great, Kerry deciding to forget the whole thing, leaving her to ring the doorbell of her own deserted house. She rang it anyway, keeping her finger on it a long time. Then released it. Then rang it again, longer. She sat down on her porch, trying to figure out what to do next. The porch light was on, as always triggered by the upcoming darkness. Well, at least this way her neighbours could all enjoy the spectacle of the psych doctor having lost her own marbles now. She was just about to decide what to do, face Helen and pick up the key she still hadn't returned or stay the night at one of her friends, when she heard the uneven stumbling of feet accompanied by a steady metal click. She heard a soft thump and a muffled curse and after a short silence the light in the hall went on. After that a familiar shape emerged and the door opened. There stood Kerry, hair tussled, and wearing an expression of total disorientation. She looked as if Kim had just suggested performing cunnilingus on her right here on the front porch. It was almost funny if it wasn't for the irritation that had been building up inside her. Hell, it actually was funny and she began to snigger. It started off as one of those nervous giggles, but slowly developed into unrestrained laughter. Every time she felt herself quiet down, the thought of them together on the porch and Kerry's bewildered face made her start all over again. She hadn't experienced this kind of laughing fit since she was a teenager in high school. She laughed at Kerry and herself, at the vision in her mind and the absurdity of it all until tears were in her eyes. Kerry just stood there, not knowing what it was that was so funny. Suddenly she turned around and disappeared. Kim realized she must feel ridiculed. She stepped inside, still hiccupping from the aftermath of laughter, and closed the door behind her.

Kerry was standing at the end of the living room, looking out the window. She walked up to her and stood beside her. "I'm sorry Kerry, but… the house was completely dark when I arrived here and you didn't answer the door and I was locked out of my own house and then you looked kind of chaotic with your hair and all and... and...I guess I don't know how to handle this situation any more than you do." Kerry turned towards her looking hurt. "I thought I'd lie down for a minute... in your spare room," she added, "but I woke up not knowing where I was and it took me a while to understand what was going on." Then she remembered Kim's words and tried to arrange her hair with her left hand.

"Here, let me do it for you," Kim suggested and smoothed down Kerry's hair. "There, that's better." She gave her a reassuring smile and then began turning on the lights in the completely dark room. "Listen uhmm, shall I order take-out or would you like to eat out? She looked at the clock; it was almost nine.

"Perhaps it's better if I do check into a hotel," Kerry said, insecure now. "You must be tired."

Kim was not in the mood for playing games. Not after the day she'd had and the days before that. She felt her initial irritation return.

"What is it that you want from me, Kerry," she asked brusquely. "You come here unannounced, you show up and confront me at work and I let you stay in my house. And now you tell me you want to check into a hotel after all? How do you think that makes me feel?"

"Kim, I don't want to impose..."

"But if that's what you want, then that's exactly what you should do. However, if you came here to discuss things, then don't walk away from me again!"

Kerry gave her a confused look. Kim couldn't stop herself and blurted out what had been building up for four days. "You left without leaving a word. I woke up feeling abandoned and... used. And I couldn't rhyme it with what happened the night before."

"Kim, I'm..."

"Sorry? I know you are. I am too."

The look on Kerry's face immediately made her regret the harshness in her tone. Kerry obviously hadn't come without a reason; it was only fair to hear her out.

"I'm sorry, Kerry, rough day at work. But please, don't walk away from me now."

It was too late. Kerry's eyes filled with tears and her shoulders began to shake. Kim cursed herself for her big mouth. Kerry was in a state of depression. Her being here might suggest that she was beginning to get out of it, but depressed she still was. She of all people should know that. She took Kerry in her arms and held her close. "I'm sorry baby, I may be a doctor and a psychiatrist but I'm also a woman with feelings and right now this woman is feeling incredibly insecure and terrified of losing you again." The silence that followed her words was louder than any sound she could have made. But the truth was out, and she felt a comforting serenity come over her. There was nothing she could do now, except wait for Kerry's reaction and accept whatever it was that she would decide. She placed her hands on Kerry's shoulders and held her at arms length. She looked into her eyes and softly said: "I love you, Kerry."

Kerry, who was still crying, said - between sobs - "How can you love me like this? Look at me, I'm a mess, not a shadow of the person I used to be. I can't even stand myself. Everything I do, every decision I make, is done with hesitation. I've lost myself."

"You'll find you again, I'm sure of it. This is just a phase you're going through. And it doesn't matter. I loved you then and I love you now."

Kerry put both hands to Kim's face and said: "I love you too ...but you ... have to give me… time. I feel this pain inside… she's still so much a part of me… and my little boy… but I couldn't stay away... I love you too," she repeated and pulled Kim's face to hers and kissed her on her lips as if to emphasize her words. Then she put her arms around Kim and her head against her neck, hugging her tight. They stood there, together, for a long time.

She stared at the unfamiliar room surrounding her, ruminating on the hours that lay behind her while seeing the woman beside her reflected in the fabric of her curtains, the colours of her walls and the choice of her furniture. Their bodies not entangled anymore, but still touching, and her face next to a beautifully shaped and slender shoulder. She looked at the small breasts, slowly rising and falling to each steady breath, and at the soft, muscled belly beneath them. What a magnificent sight it was, ending with the small rise of flesh with its short and light blonde hairs, still glistening from the remains of passion; passion she had evoked so easily, responding to cries and pleas and movements until the perfect stillness of a taut and rigid body foretold its imminent release. She could still hear and feel the strong and accelerated beating of that generous heart beneath her ears when she had crawled into those arms, trying to convey the love she was feeling by holding on and pressing tight. She felt safe and happy for the first time in months.

She hadn't thought of Sandy during lovemaking, too engrossed in catching up on the female anatomy, her own excitement growing with every moan and sigh she elicited from the mouth of the woman next to her, now so peacefully asleep. Only now, when all was quiet and her own body tired from exertion, did the image of her dead lover appear. She was silent this time, with a smile that was difficult to read. She strained her mind to see sharper and recalled the moment when she had summoned all her courage to ask her out on a date. It was the hardest thing she ever did, coming on to a woman who could have been straight for all she knew. Sandy gave her a hard time, and let her sweat the whole thing out. She was wearing the same titillating smile she was wearing now. It was a smile she came to know all too well, receiving it sometimes in a room full of people, when she suddenly sensed that she was being observed. As she looked up, Sandy would be staring at her from the far end of the room, watching her with those seductive eyes, and she knew that the night wouldn't end with just a goodnight kiss. And it would be hard enough to concentrate on driving with Sandy moving her fingers slowly up and down the back of her neck or worse, sliding them towards the fork of her legs. Sometimes she would play hard to get, but mostly she would just slightly part her legs, giving Sandy the space that she needed. She smiled fondly. Sex with Sandy was so different from the sex she had with Kim. Sandy was used to having people obey the orders she gave them; life and death depended on it. She was like that in bed, taking charge. But as emergency physician matters of life and death, and split-second decision making were an integral part of her life as well. They were well matched. With Kim it was different. She was less dominant, but carried a natural authority that usually enabled her to get whatever it was that she wanted. Sex with Kim was smooth, not better or less good, just… different.

Kerry was more at ease now than the last time they were together, when she was too overcome with guilt and grief to think straight. She felt Sandy's presence here, but it was a reassuring presence, as if she wanted to let her know that all was well and that she was fine wherever she was. But as her image slowly faded, Henry's face emerged. She winced at the thought of her little boy and as tears sprung to her eyes she let in a gasp. Immediately she felt limbs stir beside her and heard a sleepy voice ask: "Hey baby, are you okay?" A concerned kiss and a comforting hand, moving from her face to her neck and down her back.

"Yeah, it's just... I thought of Henry just now. I miss him, you know. I miss him terribly..."

"I don't know how you couldn't, honey. He is as much a part of you as he was of..." - here she hesitated - "Sandy." Her name hovered in the air, spoken out loud by her successor and predecessor in this naked, private setting. It felt a little strange, as if by mentioning her name their twosome just became a threesome.

"It doesn't bother me to talk about her if you feel the need to, Kerry. It's not something you can put away, just because it's gone. It's perfectly natural for you to grieve, so if you want to talk about her, I'm here."

"I don't want to burden you with my problems."

"Kerry, if we're going to have any future together, your problems are my problems and vice versa." Sterner, now. But fair. And true.

"You're right." A return kiss and a hug, safe and warm.

"I've decided to appeal Henry's verdict," she said. "I have to try, he belongs with me. I'm just not sure whether I have a chance."

"Well, you've certainly come to the right city," Kim said. "This is gay territory, remember. I have some gay friends with children and I know some people who know people. Perhaps you should also get in touch with the equal rights movement. If you want, I can make some phone calls."

"Would you? Really?"

"Sure. Just say the word."

Kerry's spirits rose with every word that was spoken.

"But how do you feel about it," she asked, "me having a child." They had never talked about children when they were together.

"I had to get used to the idea at first, but now I think it's great. I'm happy for you." After a moment she continued. "And it's really a fact of life now, he's with you and you're with me. And as long as we're together he's with me too. If you let me, of course."

Kerry was touched by the simplicity of Kim's words and felt a surge of joy.

"Would you like to have children of your own some day?"

"Well I'd better hurry if I do, because I'm not getting any younger." A pause. "But seriously, I've never considered myself as a single mother, and I've never been in a relationship in which I felt secure enough to take on such a responsibility. But at heart… yes… I think I've always wanted children." Kerry's raised eyebrows made her chuckle. "Well, it's not like you gave me a chance, Kerry. You were out the door before we even had a chance to talk about something like this." A small lie. She had seen Kerry handle little children in the hospital many times. The patience and warmth with which she treated them had struck her every time, loving her more for it. She had no difficulty picturing Kerry as a mother.

"As I recall it was you who walked out the door," Kerry said, wanting to bite her tongue the moment she said it. "I'm sorry Kim, that was uncalled-for." She planted a conciliatory kiss on the blonde woman's lips.

"Well, I can see the old Kerry is still in there somewhere. But I'm not so sure I still want her to emerge, now. It's kind of peaceful without her," she said with an ironic smile. Then, feeling her stomach protest, she remembered she hadn't eaten anything since morning. "Are you hungry?"

"I'm starving."

"Me too. Let's call for some take-out."

Half an hour later the doorbell rang. Kim got up out of bed and put on her bathrobe, leaving Kerry to look at her with an appreciative smile.

"You don't have to do that, you know."
"I know, but considering the spectacle we presented my neighbours tonight, I don't think my reputation can take any more blows. Not to mention what it will do to that poor delivery boy. So you just keep your dirty thoughts to yourself or I'll put up a show the next time I'm in Chicago. And then we'll see what your neighbours have to say about that." She laughed and went downstairs. Kerry lay back, contented. Apparently there would be a next time in Chicago.

After a few minutes Kim returned, carrying a tray with two plates, some cartons and two glasses of red wine.

"Feast your eyes on this," she said as she put down the tray, then took off her robe.

"I am," came the reply.

"I meant the food."

"I know you did."

Kim put the tray aside and crawled into Kerry's arms. A deep and slow kiss followed. When she noticed Kerry's increased breathing and the moving of her body, she ended the kiss.

"O no, you don't," she said semi-sternly. "If I don't eat something fast, I'll faint." When she saw the hint of mischief in Kerry's eyes, she chuckled. "I've just had some of that, thank you. And although it was delicious, it didn't add any calories to my hungry body, just burnt them. So eat."

After finishing the food, they lay down again, Kerry in Kim's arms, head on her shoulder.

"I still can't believe I'm here... in your bed," Kerry said. "Do you know how long I've been pining away when you left me? At work I was the same Dr. Weaver, working even harder than ever, but at home I played your CD's over and over again, trying to hold on to your memory and the hope that one day you'd return. When you actually went as far away from me as you possibly could, it finally hit me that you wouldn't be coming back. And I guess that's when I came to terms with the fact that I'd probably never see you again." She grew silent, thinking. "Why did you come back to Chicago, anyway?"

"I was visiting friends, I told you."
"I remember you telling me this, but when I thought about it later it didn't make sense to me. Dr. Legaspi taking a midweek break just to visit friends? You never did one thing at a time."

Surprised that Kerry still seemed to know her ways, she said: "I... had a job offer."

"A job offer? Where?"

"In uhmm... County."

"Are you kidding me? You're coming back?"

"Well... I was actually thinking of turning it down just before you made your surprise appearance."

"And now...?" she asked, eyebrows raised and fingers tracing the hollow in Kim's neck, down the path between her breasts, circling and teasing, then further down the sensitive skin of her stomach and abdomen and then... stopping.

"Now I..." she lifted her pelvis to try and shift Kerry's hand lower, "...'m not so sure," she managed.


As Kim walked through the main entrance she headed directly for the elevators. She was a little late for her meeting with Carl. They were going to discuss the details of her contract. It felt good to be back. As the elevator doors opened, she got in and pressed the button for the psych department. When the elevator stopped and the doors opened, she stepped out. Looking left, then right, she saw a familiar face and walked up to him.

Kerry decided to stop by the ER before going up to her office, wanting to feel some of the adrenaline that used to keep her going. She was feeling a little nervous. She couldn't remember the last time she'd been here. It must have been weeks and weeks ago; she had lost count. The ER showed it's usual morning bustle and when she approached the admit desk, she was glad to see a familiar face.

"Hello Susan."
"Kerry! Hi!"

"Good to see you, Kim."
"Thanks, Meyers. Good to see you too."

"How are you?" Susan asked.
"I'm fine, Susan. Thank you."

"What are you doing here?"
"Hey...," she said, looking at the psych ward surrounding her, "I'm...
...back," and as she passed the admit desk, she turned around and smiled.

The End

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