DISCLAIMER: I do not own them. Yet.
THANKS: To my terrible threesome: Gail, who leads me down the right path AND willingly did taste tests for me; Cleo, who carves the best pumpkins and provides the best story ideas; and Anne, who showed me what this story was really about.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Special K
By Harriet

Kim woke suddenly, unsure what had shaken her from such a sound sleep. The bedroom was pitch black, the blinds drawn so far down not even a sliver of moonlight crept under them. A little unnerved by the darkness, she slid her arms slowly to the other side of the bed in search of a warm body.

There was no one there.

Kim sat up and wondered where her partner was. They'd both fallen asleep exhausted, lucky to have removed their shoes before dropping off. The button of Kim's trousers dug into her belly, so she unfastened and shucked them quickly. Aiming blindly, she tossed them in the general direction of the laundry basket in the corner and hoped for the best. She noticed the clock declaring the time to be 4:42AM. Three and a half hours of sleep. How long had Kerry been gone? She leaned over and smoothed the sheets on the other side of the bed. Cool to the touch. It had been a little while. Kim laid down on the bed, clad only in a camisole and panties, and thought about trying to fall back to sleep.

It probably wouldn't work. She'd worry Kerry wasn't feeling well, was depressed, was lonely. She sighed and rubbed the sand from her eyes. Grabbing the kimono from the foot of the bed, she headed for the stairs.

She stopped at the bathroom door and peeked into the empty room. Nothing. Slowly and carefully she crept down the stairs. She knew where Kerry was now; the flickering, white glow from the television illuminated the lower part of the staircase. She couldn't hear the TV though, so she thought maybe Kerry had muted it and fallen asleep on the couch.

She peeked over the banister. Kerry was sitting cross legged on the floor, not three feet from the television. She was noisily chomping cereal, and it looked like she was quite enjoying herself.

Kim immediately identified the movie--her very serious, intellectual, brilliant girlfriend was watching Ghostbusters. Kim then realized, even in the relatively low light of the room, that Kerry was not eating Special K, Mueslix, or even Total Raisin Bran. She was eating some of Kim's Crunchberries, and her suspicions were confirmed when she spotted the box half-hidden behind her body.

Kim was ready to burst out laughing. On the tv screen, Sigourney Weaver, wearing an excruciating amount of make up and a shiny red dress, was levitating above a bed as Bill Murray looked on bemusedly.

'Never thought I'd see the day. Oh, this is gonna be fun.'

Creeping to the bottom of the stairs, Kim kept her hand over her mouth to hold in her mirth. Her bare feet were silent as she approached the redhead, and she scoured her brain for an appropriate opening statement to Kerry. By the time she was only a few feet away, she decided to keep it simple.

"Kerry." She delivered it in her sternest schoolteacher voice, and her eyes popped when Kerry's entire body jerked.

"Kim!" Kerry turned around slightly, milk dripping from her chin. "You scared the hell out of me!"

Laughing, Kim grabbed a napkin from the coffee table and knelt down to help clean up. "Well, you are watching a movie about ghosts. I'm not surprised you're so easy to spook."

"Very funny. You know, this movie is pretty stupid."

Kim mopped drops of liquid from Kerry's neck. "Kerry, this movie is a classic!"

"I didn't say it wasn't funny, I just said it was stupid." She dipped her spoon in her cereal and took a bite.

"Nice midnight snack."

With her mouth full, Kerry responded, "These are good!" The surprised tone made Kim giggle.

"Of course they are. They're a hundred percent sugar."

"No, they're fortified with lots of vitamins and minerals."

Kim placed her hand on Kerry's and directed the spoon to her own mouth. She almost choked.

"Ugh," she sputtered, swallowing quickly. She had the unnatural urge to wipe her mouth out with the napkin in her hand. "Sweetie, that milk is sour! It's horrible!"

Kerry looked down. "No it's not. It's perfectly fine." She happily shoveled another bite into her mouth.

Kim gaped. "Kerry, I'm telling you, that milk does not taste normal."

After chewing, Kerry said, "It's soy."


"It's soy milk."

"But you're ruining a perfectly good bowl of cereal!" Kim was incredulous.

"I think it tastes great. Soy is an excellent way to lower cholesterol. Studies show it helps fight cancer and heart disease. Plus it's low in fat." She had another spoonful.

Kim smirked. "Unbelievable. You couldn't go junk food altogether, could you."

Smiling, Kerry said, "I wouldn't be so sure."

"What does that mean?"

"Go in the kitchen and find out."

Thinking for a moment, Kim sniffed the air. There was definitely something interesting wafting in from the other room. Leaping to her feet, she sprinted to the kitchen. "Cookies!" she shouted. She heard the rich sound of Kerry's laughter from the other room.

"What do you want to drink?" Kim pulled open the huge door of their new Sub-Zero fridge.

"Surprise me."

Bypassing the carton of soy milk, she chose a recently opened bottle of chardonnay and poured two glasses. She balanced them on the still warm cookie tray and ventured back into the living room. "Voila."

Kerry's eyebrows lifted. "Wine? With Tollhouse pre-made? Very sophisticated."

"Pre-made dough, Kerry, you're getting lazy in your old age."

"Ha ha. I ran out of eggs when I made the soufflé."

"I knew there had to be a reason. The soufflé was worth it. Since we're out of eggs, want to go out for breakfast tomorrow?"

Grinning, Kerry said, "Always wondering where the next meal is coming from, even when you're in the middle of one."

"I like to plan ahead. What can I say?"

"Sure, we'll go out. I don't have to be in till 4, so we have all day tomorrow." Kerry shoved half a cookie in her mouth and waggled her eyebrows.

As she sipped her wine, Kim wanted to recline into a more comfortable position. She grabbed an overstuffed pillow from the couch and propped it up against the coffee table. She sighed and leaned back, wine in one hand, cookie in another. There was only one thing missing.

She watched Kerry glance back and forth between the television and the empty space between her legs for a few minutes. Timing it just right, Kim caught her eyeing her lap. "Well, what are you waiting for?" She opened her arms wide.

With a cheeky grin, Kerry scrambled into Kim's arms and laid back against her chest. She snuggled in close as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man started stomping on unsuspecting cars on the tv screen.

Kim laughed. "I love this part."

"Don't tell me what happens."

"Tell me you've seen this movie."



"I don't know, I just never got around to it. I think it came out while I was in med school."

Kim leaned in and kissed the back of her neck. "You didn't have nearly enough fun then."

Shivering at the touch of Kim's lips, she answered, "You're right about that." She was quiet for a moment, then added, "I'm making up for it now, though."

Warmth flooded Kim's body at hearing the tender words. She put her wine glass down and wrapped both arms around Kerry. "You are a sweet-talker." But she knew it was true. "Love you, Ker."

"Love you too." Kerry trailed her fingernails along Kim's arm, then took her hand and kissed the palm. "It's much more fun having you down here with me than it was when I was alone."

The stark reality of that statement struck Kim like a blow. She had to physically force herself not to tighten her grip around Kerry, feeling a fierce sense of protectiveness swell up inside her. Imagining Kerry alone in her empty house, fragile and solitary, terrified her. It was a false image; Kerry was anything but fragile. But Kim had seen her at her most vulnerable, and considered it one of her more pleasant duties to keep Kerry safe and warm and happy for as long as she was able.

"I'm glad I got up. I don't think I slept very well after you left."

"I'm sorry I woke you, honey. I think I just had some adrenaline left over from my shift tonight. I feel a lot better now though. Probably needed to do more than fall on the bed fully clothed to wind down. First snows are always the worst."

"Did you sleep at all?"

"A little."

"Why don't you close your eyes. I promise the movie isn't that good."

"Okay, I just want to see the end. It's almost over."

Contentedly, Kim stroked Kerry's arm as they watched the film come to a close. She giggled when Kerry uttered, "I hate this song," as the credits started to roll.

"It's terrible. But bustin' makes me feel good."

"Stop, it's going to run through my head now."

"Wanna lie down on the couch and see what else is on?"

"Not really. Let's just go back to bed. All that wine you forced me to drink has made me sleepy."

Kim smirked. "Oh yeah, a half a glass. You're such a lush. Come on, lightweight." If half a glass of wine put Kerry out, she was definitely exhausted. The lack of sleep that evening on top of a twelve hour shift had finally started to have an affect. Pulling Kerry to her feet, Kim wrapped an arm around her waist. She grabbed the crutch and slipped Kerry's arm through it in a well-practiced move, and together they made their way up the stairs.

Kim shed her robe to hang it on the hook behind the door, and turned to see Kerry crawling under the covers with her eyes already closed. She looked so young and lovable that Kim smiled in anticipation of climbing in next to her.

She hopped on the bed to land atop Kerry, wrapping her arms around her. "Good night, sweetheart."

"Get under here, crazy girl. I'm tired."

"I'm tucking you in."

"Well, tuck yourself in, too. I need a something life-sized to hang on to in my sleep."

"I've always wanted to be a security blanket." Kim slid under the covers, a little chilled from the cool air of the bedroom. Furiously she cuddled up against the warm body and snaked her legs around Kerry's. "Mmm, this is what I was missing when I woke up."

Kerry blinked in the dim light. "I'm sorry I didn't wake you. I will next time."

Kim kissed her nose. "Good. I don't like the thought of you moping downstairs all by yourself."

"I wasn't moping. I was watching a movie."

"But you might have been moping. I hear you skulking around downstairs sometimes."

Kerry looked blankly over Kim's shoulder for a moment. "I don't do that as much as I used to."


"I used to pace, then I'd end up working. For years I think I did more paperwork at home than I did at the hospital."

Kim knew that was true. She used to wonder why Kerry would lug home huge binders and pile them on the desk, just to let them sit there until she brought them back to work untouched. Now she figured bringing the work home was habit more than anything else, since she rarely saw Kerry at the desk doing something other than paying bills.

Kim slid a hand under Kerry's shirt. "Home is for homey things. Like playing with me. No work allowed."

"Got it. Mm, your hands are so warm."

Kim pulled closer and rubbed Kerry's lower back soothingly. "Go to sleep, love. I'll be here when you wake up."

Opening her eyes a final time, she smiled. "I know. G'night. Love you."

Kim leaned in to kiss her gently. "Love you, too."

The End

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