Missing scenes between “Bygones”
and “The Letter”
Contributors: Mangababe, 42olives, Juliana, Peanut41 & Piney
Total number of scenes: 5
R (except Scene 2 - NC-17)
Disclaimer: All ER characters belong to NBC, Constant C Productions, Amblin Entertainment and Warner Brothers Television. We only lovingly borrowed them for a while. No attempt is made to profit from them.
Found - by Mangababe
(This story picks up where "Bygones" left off...and is mainly told from Sandy's point-of-view)
"You were right. You did do me a favor."
I just hear that correctly?
leans forward and places a gentle kiss on Sandy's lips. The word
"forgiveness" doesn't even begin to describe the emotions
conveyed in that one simple act.
disarmed, Sandy drops her gaze and begins to speak in a much softer
voice, "Come to think of it, it was a pretty cool save. The
fire went to 3 alarms. I couldn't see my hand...", her story cut
short as Kerry reaches out for Sandy's cheek and pulls her in for
another kiss. The second touch of the redhead's lips was all it took to
undo Sandy's guard...she melted into the kiss, throwing her arms around
the ER doc. What started out as a tender press of the lips soon ignites
into a very passionate kiss. Sandy can feel Kerry trembling in her
arms...she breaks away from the kiss and buries her face in Sandy's
shoulder. "I thought I'd lost you...", the small redhead
mumbles into the fabric of her jacket.
"Ssssh....you found me..." she whispers in Kerry's ear.
need to talk. Sandy didn't think she'd ever see her favorite doc again,
not after that last good-bye; but for now, all she wants to do is enjoy
the warmth of the body wrapped around her.
had been a rough day, one in which the feisty firefighter got a brutal
reminder of the thin line between life and death. It's customary, after
a big fire, that before the crew scatter home to their wives and
girlfriends...they usually stopped in at "The Moose and
Squirrel," to toast another job well done and that they all made it
out alive. This firefighter had gotten used to having a couple of beers
and going home to an empty apartment.
the fact that she was now enveloped in her ex-lover's arms was
especially sweet. They stand in the street, next to Sandy’s car, for
several minutes...holding the ER doc in her arms until the trembling
subsides. Breaking the silence, Sandy whispers in her ear,” I’m
happy you found me.... but you've got to understand, Kerry, I just can't
go on playing this game with you." Sandy releases her hold on the
ER doc just enough to be able to see her face and those hazel-green
eyes. "It hurts too damn much."
know," is Kerry's whispered response. "I'm sorry it took
nearly losing you to that fire today, to make me see that. Can we go
somewhere to talk, other than the middle of the street?"
Sandy let out a chuckle and says, "sure...do you have a car?"
Dr. Weaver answers, "no, I took the El to work today, and a cab from there."
got my keys...I guess you'd better drive," Sandy says as they break
apart. She walks around the front of her car to the passenger side door.
inside the car, neither of them says much, except for an agreement on
Doc Magoo's as the destination. It's a safe, neutral place where they
can talk, and it's open. It's late, so Kerry finds a prime parking spot
along the curb in front of the diner. They settle into one of the comfy
booths at the far right of the room, sitting across from one
another…The distance uncomfortable, yet necessary. The waitress
approaches and brings with her a fresh pot of coffee, filling the cups
before them. "That will be fine, thanks," Kerry says as the
waitress places two menus on the table in front of them. Grabbing her
coffee cup between both hands.... Kerry looks up into Sandy's eyes.
is the first to speak..."I did you a favor, huh? What made you
change your mind.... if I recall you were mad as hell."
was mad. After I left the firehouse that night, I went home and lay
awake for hours. Too angry to sleep. Sometime around 3am I realized that
I wasn't upset that you kissed me in the middle of my ER; but that you
took the choice away from me. It should have been my choice to come out
at work. I was no longer in control. A place I'm not used to
being." Kerry pauses and takes a sip of her coffee.
Sandy begins to reply, only to be cut off by Kerry, "please Sandy,
let me finish before you say anything." Taking a deep breath, Kerry
picks up her thought, "I was terrified when I walked in the door
the next morning. I wasn't sure what the staff's reaction would be,
except for Luka. He knows. I tried to busy myself with work, keeping a
low profile and making sure everyone was busy enough to minimize the
idle chatter. Then Frank, the desk clerk, came up to me at the admit
desk and said,’ So you're gay, huh?' I snapped back, 'Yeah Frank, I'm
gay.' He proceeded to inform me that homosexuality was wrong and that I
would burn in hell. I just walked away from him. I was too mortified to
say anything more." The small redhead let out a breath she wasn't
aware she was holding. Sandy sat across from her this whole time, calmly
listening, chin on one hand, occasionally glancing down into her cup as
if it to read the surface of the liquid.
her story, Weaver continues, "I spent the rest of that day and the
following week waiting for more snide comments and sideways glances. It
was like I was a child all over again, having to deal with my inability
to walk with out a crutch. They never came. Then in the last week or
so...I began to see that you were right...I needed to be out; it was
preventing me from really living. And that maybe it was better that it
just happened like it did.... no grand pronouncement.... just there
it is. I was still annoyed at you for taking away my choice, but I
couldn't see the point of staying that way." the timbre of Kerry's
voice was a bit slower and deeper than usual...Sandy could tell that
this was hard for her.
a very long pause, Kerry begins to speak again, this time her voice
seeming less steady, less sure, as if maybe she were afraid the words
might escape before she could say them. "Today began the same as
yesterday, the same as last week, until the paramedics brought in a
woman suffering from burns and smoke inhalation. I was waiting on a
stabbing.... but the teacher came in first. As the EMT gave me the
bullet, the firefighter accompanying him said that he had to get back,
that an elementary school fire had escalated and all available units
were called. He told us to expect more casualties and asked how many we
could handle. As we treated her, my mind kept thinking of you. When I
got her stabilized and had a moment to step away.... the fear hit
realization that I had never had the experience of worrying over a loved
one's safety. It kept gnawing at me as the casualties kept rolling in.
Then they brought in an injured firefighter, from the 38. He said that
he'd been caught in the building when a wall caved in. I could feel my
stomach tying itself in knots...and while assessing the extent of his
injuries, I asked if they had managed to get the rest of the
firefighters out. He said that when they loaded him onto the ambulance,
there were still three men trapped and proceeded to name them....Hansen,
Jefferies, and Lopez. At that point my concern for your safety over-rode
everything else and I asked point-blank if it was you. He confirmed my
fear and said that you were the first one in...." Kerry pauses
briefly and looks up from the table, directly into Sandy's eyes... which
were beginning to well up with tears. "Right then, the possibility
that I might never see you again...the reality that you might not be as
lucky as the man on my table, it hit me. Hard."
words took the firefighter back...to the moments she spent fighting for
her life today. Sandy reaches across the table and takes hold of one of
Kerry's hands. Kerry continues, "I have already lost one
relationship because of my cowardice and the realization that I had let
myself do it yet again - combined with my fear for your life regardless
of whether or not we were together, was just too much. I told myself
that if you came out of the fire alive; I would let go of everything but
my desire to have you back in my life." Kerry gives a gentle
squeeze to the hand she is holding and reclines back against the seat,
extending her arm so that she holds on to the firefighter's hand. She
takes a deep breath and is still.
Lopez is sitting in the booth across from her ex-lover all this time,
listening intently, surprised and warmed by Kerry's admission. Emotions
welling up in her from the harrowing rescue of the little boy and her
crew that got trapped.
a few moments of silence, her eyes brimming with tears...she spoke.
"I didn't mean to hurt you...I didn't do it out of spite. Really. I
was just so hurt that you couldn't acknowledge me in public. I paid my
dues, many times over, and I was not willing to go back to the closet,
even for you. That day in the hallway...I could see that you were
struggling. I thought that if I was patient enough you would talk to me,
we could work things out. Then there were all those interruptions...and
I was so frustrated. I couldn't see how I could get it through to you
that I really cared for you, but was unwilling to hide my feelings. When
you followed me and grabbed my arm, my first thought was that the time
for words had passed, and I needed to show you how I felt - so I
kissed you and left. There was nothing else for me to say. As I walked
out the door, I realized what I'd just done...not only had I just outed
you to the entire ER...I'd probably also lost you for good. But, I had
to take that risk, Kerry. I needed you to understand what your denial of
our relationship was doing to us, to me."
pauses, taking the hand that has been resting in her lap and reaches
over to take Weaver's other hand. Holding onto both of Kerry's hands
across the table, she continues, "I fell for you Dr. Weaver...in a
big way. And it pained me to think that you might never speak to me
again...especially after what I had done. I understand the control
issue.... I was just as angry when you refused to obey my commands at
the accident site, where we first met. However, I was willing to risk
losing you, in order to get you to understand how much I care for
you." The last three words seemed to hang in the air between them.
"Thank you for coming after me...'
now, both women have tears in their eyes, faces flushed with emotion,
and their hearts laying open before them. They sit, gazing into each
other's eyes across the table. After a few seconds, Sandy lets go of the
ER doc's hands and gets up from the table...the sudden loss of contact
causing Weaver to visibly flinch.
"It's ok..." Sandy speaks as she slides into the booth beside Kerry. The physical distance between them has become too much, as the emotional distance disappears. She takes the ER doc into her arms. "God, I missed you..." Sandy breathes into her ear, "...will you come home with me?" It feels so good to have Kerry in her arms again, especially after a day which came close to being her last.
La Paciencia Ritmica/Rhythmic Patience - by 42olives
Previously in the Sandynista project: The night of "Bygones". Sandy and Kerry embrace in a booth at Doc Magoo's. "God, I missed you..." Sandy breathes into her ear, "...will you come home with me?"
felt the warmth of Sandy's breath against the skin of her neck, smelled
the cigarette smoke from the bar clinging to the curly hair, and as she
nuzzled more tightly into Sandy's neck she noticed the sharp tang of
harsh soap. A scent that Kerry learned last winter was the firehouse
soap, and meant that the woman in her arms had tried to wash away the
memory of danger and fear in the locker room shower. Kerry held tighter,
the substance of the firefighter's body a welcome weight in her arms.
"Yes, oh yes, I'll come home with you."
felt the knot of tension that had been sitting beneath her breast bone,
unacknowledged for over a month, release and relax at Kerry's words. She
put her hands on Kerry's shoulders then slid her palms down the biceps,
gently pulling herself from the embrace. She smiled and slid from the
booth. Standing, she held out a hand to Kerry. "You'll drive
nodded, while she slipped on her trench coat; Sandy pulled out her
wallet, tossed a ten onto the table and gave a quick wave to the
waitress, who was refilling the pepper shakers at the counter.
pair quickly left the harsh light of Doc Magoo's, to go into the
darkness of the still chilly March night.
settled into the driver's seat again after carefully stowing her crutch
behind her seat. She turned to smile at the woman beside her, but the
smile stopped at the sight of the strong profile. She felt her eyes
drawn to the full lips; she reached to stroke the soft skin under the
chin, then Sandy turned, brow furrowed, "Kerr..."
words were stopped by a kiss, as Kerry's hungry mouth sought hers.
Ignoring the impediments of gearshift, emergency brake and seat belt,
Kerry lifted herself seeking to press as closely as possible against
Sandy. Her fingers tangled in the silken curls at the nape of Sandy's
neck as her searching tongue savored the coffee flavored mouth.
Breathless Sandy twisted her head away from the demanding kiss.
calmate. We're going to my home, you have to drive, okay?"
gasped for breath.
remember how to get there?"
sank back into the driver's seat and nodded, "The expressway, get
off on Division."
right. You can do it, girl."
nodded again, "Okay, okay," as she turned the key in the
ignition. They steered through the quiet night.
unlocked the door to her apartment. As Kerry stepped in she was greeted
by the scent of cinnamon and lemon cleanser. A scent, she thought as she
put her coat on the hangar Sandy handed to her, she had missed without
knowing it. After quickly hanging up her own coat, Sandy moved into the
main room of the studio apartment turning on the soft light of a bedside
lamp, and bending down to open the valve and coax more heat from the old
steam radiator, which sighed acquiescence. Kerry followed, then stopped
and blinked at what she saw, "No sofa bed?"
couldn't sleep, they said it was bad for my back. But I still couldn't
rest." Sandy shrugged, then their eyes met and the women exchanged
wistful smiles. Sandy took Kerry's hands and leaned to kiss the rosy
lips. "You're here, I couldn't even dream that you'd ever be here
again." Sandy sank onto the foot of bed and pulled Kerry down to
sit next to her. Then she leaned in again for another kiss, opening her
mouth to nurse on the softness of Kerry's lower lip, licking gently as
her hands stroked the strong forearms, then lifted to knead the upper
arms and shoulders. She felt firm hands on her lower back. And their
tongues met, licking and dancing together. She sighed as she felt the
thirst build within her, and she broke the kiss. "Kerry, are you
ready? Really ready to be with me?"
saw the troubled crease between the brows, "Oh, yes. And not just
more," Kerry softly shook her head, "I can't hide
ready to face it all, even the hardship?"
even the hardship. I want to face it with you, together."
the resolute set of the head, Sandy caressed the delicate arc of the
determined jaw and moved down the throat to tease along the edge of the
blue v-neck pullover. She leaned forward for a quick kiss, and then back
as she pulled the red t-shirt from her own body. She smiled when she saw
Kerry's eyes widen. Then tossing the t-shirt onto a chair she stripped
off her sports bra. Her dimples deepened as she noticed Kerry's hungry
eyes, and she caught the pale hands as they reached for her breasts.
"Oh no, It's your turn now."
hmm." Smiling, Kerry peeled off the pullover, dropped it at her
feet and hastily reached behind to unfasten her own bra. Then she pulled
Sandy to her and moaned when their flesh met.
hands sought the familiar curves of Kerry's back, but to her stroking
hands the curves did not seem as familiar, and when her fingers found
the corrugation of Kerry's ribs she exclaimed, "You're so
Kerry's head sank as she dejectedly leaned her forehead on the strong
shoulder, She whispered, "I just couldn't eat. I felt so alone I
didn't even want to think of food."
shrugged and looked ruefully down at her own belly, "I think for
every pound you lost I gained one."
noticed the slight new softness over the abs and running her hand down
the smooth skin, her fingers teased inside the waistband of the black
jeans. She pulled back and tugged at the top button of the jeans,
"Sandy?" her nimble fingers undid the top button and her
pleading eyes met Sandy's.
cupped the delicate chin and she ran her thumb along Kerry's jaw,
"You want to cocíname algo sabroso."
Kerry was enchanted by rolling 'r', but the scholar within her frowned
at the unfamiliar word.
small smile graced Kerry's mouth, "Yes, I'll cook you something
tasty," the tip of her tongue peeked out as she unknowingly licked
grinned. She pulled off one boot and, with a grunt, the second. With two
quick motions she discarded her socks. She stood, met Kerry's green
eyes, and unbuttoned her fly. She dragged her jeans down, with her
panties until they were bunched on the floor, then stepped out of them.
Pulling down the bed covers, Sandy reclined against the pile of pillows
then she reached back to remove the clip from her hair and with a
satisfied and mischievous grin, she met Kerry's eyes and said,
swallowed, overwhelmed by the sight of Sandy's self-assured nudity. For
a moment she was at a loss. Then she quickly kicked off her clogs; her
socks took some tugging and toe wriggling before they were discarded.
She cautiously stood, unzipped and removed her slacks and panties, and
placed them on a chair. Aware of the smoky eyes watching her, and with
the aid of her crutch she slowly made her way around to her side of the
bed. Shyly, she settled into the bed, then she turned to face Sandy.
could see the rapid pulse at the base of her throat. "Cariño,
it's okay," Sandy cupped Kerry's cheek caressing it with her thumb,
"what matters is that we're together."
pulled Sandy close. The two women sank deeper into the bed, snuggling
closer, learning and remembering how they fit as they settled together.
Kerry's hand finding Sandy's breast and cupping it. She leaned upward to
gently kiss Sandy's lips, remembering their softness and fullness.
Sandy's breast still fit perfectly; as she kneaded the nipple stiffened
into her palm. Her kiss was slow as she reacquainted herself with the
taste of Sandy's mouth. Sandy basked in the heat of the pale body
pressed against her side, and relished the nimble tongue that was
tracing small circles inside her lips.
hand trailed downward; there was a was a slight softness, a convexity,
below Sandy's navel and above the flat plane that lead to the rise that
was covered with crisp dark hair. After cupping the slight tummy bulge
and kneading it's softness, Kerry dragged the backs of her fingernails
downward to comb the short curls.
kiss had become deeper and more passionate as she drank from Sandy's
mouth. And when the pale fingers parted the hair to touch her moist
vulval lips, Sandy gasped and murmured, "Oh, Kerry, please."
I want to see you."
steam radiator, which still sighed softly, had done its work and the
small apartment was now quite warm. In a few moments, Kerry constructed
a nest for them and slid down between Sandy's legs.
her were Sandy's dark curls; she delicately spread the outer lips
revealing a multitude of shades of rose and pink, the redness of the
inner lips, the clean arc of the hood and the rosy clit peeking out from
underneath. For Kerry there was nothing clinical about this, she just
wanted to see again this intimate nook of Sandy's beloved body. She
sighed as she saw the glistening wetness on the folds. Sandy moaned
sharply when she felt a cooling puff of breath on her vulva. Alarmed,
Kerry pressed herself upward, emitting her own startled gasp as her
breast pressed against the slickness. The lovers stared at each other.
you feel this?"
nodded, her mouth open.
shifted her torso experimentally, rubbing her breast against Sandy's
sex. "I've never felt anything..."
so good." Sandy marvelled at the sensation, Kerry's breast was so
much more pliant than a thigh; the silky pale skin seemed to mold to
each fold of her vulva. Sandy tipped her hips, again marvelling at the
silky yielding friction.
each others' gaze, the lovers rocked against each other; relishing the
silkiness and heat of their bodies brought together. Sandy could feel
the need and desire build within her, "Kerry, I want you inside
below her own breasts, she entered Sandy gently with her second finger,
and began the light, rapid strokes she remembered Sandy needed. As the
silky sex churned against Kerry's breasts, the scent of Sandy's arousal
rose. Kerry was intoxicated by the clean, savoury, salty aroma; she
inhaled deeply and felt herself salivate. Kerry could see Sandy's head
tip back, spreading the rich brown curls across the pillow; and she
could hear Sandy's tiny, high-pitched mewing moans in time with the
rhythm of their contact. Sandy was as open as Kerry had ever felt her,
so she inserted her index finger alongside, then she changed her motion
but kept the tempo and with the two fingers she made a rapid stirring
motion deep inside. Sandy gave two swift cries, and Kerry could feel the
flutter of Sandy's release on her fingers.
she felt the spasms subside, Kerry lifted herself from Sandy, who lay,
limp and breathing deeply, against the pile of pillows. As Kerry
gingerly eased her fingers from inside Sandy, the scent of Sandy's
climax washed over her and she dipped her head and gently kissed the
outer lips of Sandy's sex. She longed to stay there and savour. The
taste, she remembered, was sweeter and saltier than the scent. But she
knew, even in the warm room, Sandy would chill quickly. And she knew and
felt gratitude deep within her, that there would be another night and
dragged herself up the bed along the languid body, pulling the covers
over Sandy's sweat-covered form. Settling at Sandy's side, she started
massaging large languid circles on Sandy's belly. She saw that the smoky
eyes were nearly closed, she planted a line of small kisses along the
hairline at the temple then down the cheek and across the jaw. She heard
a small moan of contentment, and she added a last kiss to the full lips.
feel so good," Sandy's eyes eased open. "I haven't felt so
good in a long time." Kerry smiled a small smile of triumph.
Beneath the covers, Sandy caught the hand that had been massaging the
soothing circles, "But if you keep on rubbing my tummy, you're
going to send me to straight to sleep." Her thumb started to stroke
Kerry's palm, making small circles at the base of each of the strong
that would be a bad thing?" the smile quirked the corner of Kerry's
mouth. The circles made by Sandy's thumb expanded to cover the whole
is when I want to make love to you." Sandy pulled the cream white
hand from beneath the covers, and brought it to her lips. Her mouth
followed the same path that her fingers had around the outside of
Kerry's palm, sucking and gently nipping the pads at the base of the
fingers. Then her strong tongue followed the path, licking, coiling into
the center of the palm, which she hit with short firm strokes. Kerry
gulped, transfixed by the sensations, and she shimmied closer, settling
her leg over Sandy's thigh. Sandy's tongue made one last swirl in the
center of the palm, then licked up the outside of Kerry's index finger,
tasting her own earlier arousal. As her tongue trailed down the space
between the two fingers and she delicately licked the web between,
Kerry's breath turned ragged and she felt the heat build within her and
a fresh flood of wetness. Finally, when Sandy began to suck and nurse on
her fingers taking them deep into her mouth, Kerry began to rock,
grinding her hips rhythmically against Sandy's thigh.
you know what you do to me?"
grinned, "I've got an idea."
can feel how wet you are."
Kerry coughed in embarrassment.
it's good." Sandy slid her strong arms around Kerry. "Come on
get on top."
squirmed a bit, until she was lying on Sandy, their legs entwined. She
felt so secure, with Sandy holding her and she nuzzled into Sandy's
neck. Sandy caressed up and down the length of Kerry's back, finally
resting her hands on the start of the flared curve of Kerry's ass,
encouraging the rocking motion of Kerry's hips. She cupped Kerry's
buttocks, the sides weren't symmetrical but both yielded to Sandy's
strong hands as she kneaded. She felt Kerry sigh against her neck,
"Kerry, baby, you want to ride?"
Sandy felt Kerry nod into her neck, so she pulled Kerry upward, she
could feel the hot, slick fluid of Kerry's arousal paint a trail as she
settled Kerry on top of her belly.
arched her back and settled her forearms on each side of Sandy's head.
As she looked downward at Sandy, their eyes met and they both smiled.
Sandy burrowed her head a beneath Kerry and caught one of her breasts in
her mouth. She licked across the nipple and then sucked; finally she
took it all into her mouth, nipple and areola, as much as possible,
caressing it between her tongue and palate. She sucked and nursed on the
breast in time with the rocking of Kerry's hips.
could hear the change in Kerry's breathing, the little gasps and catches
mirrored the motion of her hips. The once steady rhythm had become
erratic as Kerry pressed her sex onto Sandy's belly. She cradled Kerry
in her arms and slowly rolled, easing Kerry onto her back. Then she
lifted herself, looking into the dilated eyes, with only the slightest
trace of green surrounding the green pupils. "I've got you cariño,
I'll take care of you." She slipped her hand between the pale
thighs and parted the soft hair.
here, baby, I'm here."
parted the vulval lips and caressed the length of Kerry's sex. Kerry
sighed and sank back onto the pillows.
Sandy eased two fingers inside Kerry, she could see the tension leave
Kerry's jaw and shoulders. Her thumb swirled through the moist vulval
lips seeking Kerry's clit, she teased back the hood. Unknowingly, Kerry
arched her hips up, pushing herself further onto the strong fingers as
Sandy's thumb continued to circle in a steady tempo. Her fingers kept
the rhythm as they firmly stroked and curled within Kerry's vagina.
marveled at the beauty of the woman below her; the fair creamy skin of
her breasts, the delicate curve of her jawline thrust upward by arch of
her neck. She listened to the slow deep rasp of Kerry's breath. As her
eyes admired the elegant arch of Kerry's brow, the heavy lidded eyes
you need more?"
pale head nodded, stirring the red hair against the pillow.
third finger joined her others, pressing deeply within Kerry.
stilled the motion of her fingers, and softened the pressure as her
thumb widened the circles that it was tracing, brushing not only Kerry's
clit but the full length of her vulval lips. After a while Kerry
resumed her motion deep within Kerry. Kerry kept her eyes open, needing
to know this was real, that what she felt was right, that she was really
here, held closely, not alone, held warmly, held tight, by Sandy.
the spasms of release overtook her, Kerry cried out again and again
until finally she lay, spent. With the last of her energy, she rolled
over and clung to Sandy. Sandy withdrew her fingers and cradled Kerry's
head against her shoulder, brushing the sweat soaked hair from her
forehead. She heard a small moan of contentment, and saw that the green
eyes were nearly closed. "Sleep, Kerry. I'm here."
eyelids fluttered open and she placed a kiss on Sandy's mouth. "I'm
so glad to be back here, with you." Sandy smiled, dimples
deepening. Then she reached behind her to turn off the beside lamp and
snuggled back close to Kerry. Kerry heard Sandy's breath soften and the
curly head sank close to her shoulder. As her own eyes became heavy,
Kerry whispered into the night "Cariño."
Some Spanish words used in Scene 2:
- relax; compose yourself.
Cariño - darling; honey.
Cocíname algo sabroso. - Cook something tasty for me
- by Juliana
awoke face to face with Sandy, her lover’s strong limbs intertwined
with her own. The sun wouldn't be up for a while yet. She was used to
waking early and the alarm wasn’t due to go off for another half hour.
There was no need to go back to sleep; all the peace in the world was to
be found, fully conscious and aware of what she possessed, here in the
arms of sweet firefighter Lopez.
looked so beautiful and defenseless, a slight smile on her lips and
still clinging to Kerry. There was nothing between them but heat and one
synchronized pounding of two hearts. Kerry was so aware of her, skin
like silk over hard, relaxed muscle. What a joy it was to give yourself
to another person, to know that person inside out, and to let yourself
be so vulnerable.
began to stir, sensing her partner's consciousness. Her long, curly
eyelashes fluttered, and she smiled, still incoherent, before burying
her face deeper in Kerry’s shoulder. “What time is it?” Her voice
was muffled by a spill of dark ringlets.
Kerry loved running her fingers through Sandy’s hair. She could not
help reliving what had happened in this bed just hours before. She
pulled Sandy closer to her, remembering all the looks and touches that
would change how they’d look at each other this morning. All the
whispers that would change how they’d look at each other forever.
not fully awake, Sandy sat up, propping herself on one arm. Slow
satisfaction melted across her face.
hesitation was prolonged by the return to consciousness. Certain
realizations. “I’m just... I just... like how you look first thing
in the morning.”
blushed, definitely about to disagree.
my bed.” She sank back down into the softness of Kerry’s embrace,
squeezing her possessively. “Mine.”
smiled to herself and squeezed Sandy back, not over the novelty of being
reunited. I almost lost you, and now I am yours. Maybe
forever. The separation had taught her there was such a thing as too
independent. It actually felt good to belong with someone. I don‘t
think I ever want to leave this bed. "Believe me," she
reassured her lover. "This is just the first of many mornings we
will have to appreciate being together."
Sandy sat up again. “I’d be appreciating it more if you didn’t
have to run off to the ER.”
pushed Sandy further down and kissed her hard enough to bruise. Lips and
tongue worked their way over to Sandy’s ear and down her neck.
Kerry’s hands ran roughly over Sandy’s breasts, and down her body,
pulling at fabric.
Don‘t tease me.” Sandy’s kisses were helpless. She’d wanted it,
waited for it all day. Kerry knew that.
hand traveled up under the dress, up the muscular, tan thigh, slowly.
are we doing?”
are going to lay back.” Kerry shoved Sandy, who was still propped up
on her elbows, back into the soft plush of carpet. “And what I
am going to do will become clear in just a moment.” Sandy’s dress
was up around her waist, and Kerry was tugging a lacy, black thong down
over her hips.
kissed her belly button. Sandy shivered, and grabbed two fistfuls of red
hair as Kerry very slowly kissed lower, and lower, until the thong was
thrown across the living room and Sandy's legs were wrapped around-
to Dr. Weaver!” Kerry was jerked abruptly out of her fantasy and found
herself face to face with Chen, standing above her, arms crossed,
was definitely not in her own apartment making love to her girlfriend in
front of a roaring fire. All that was open in front of her was a chart,
page blank, in need of her professional scribblings.
is wrong with you, Kerry?” wondered Chen out loud.
face burned. She felt caught with her own pants down, but was not about
to be engaged in conflict. “Could be lack of sleep. Why do you ask?”
distracted... and actually smiling,” Chen retorted. Kerry didn’t buy
into it for one second. Suddenly, as a matter of fact, the whole world
was smiling with her. So what if the Chief of Emergency Medicine had
been sitting idle for five minutes (well, ten...) dreaming about sex
with a beautiful woman? It wasn’t a crime.
confidence was bolstered by her lack of shame. “What is it you want,
are wanted on the phone.” There was a catch in her voice that didn’t
bother Kerry in the least. “It’s Sandy Lopez.”
thank you,” she said with both smothering kindness and ripping
sarcasm. She gathered her clipboard, the chart, and her crutch, and
headed out of the lounge toward the station, calling over her shoulder
to her colleague. “Next time you don’t have to track me down to
deliver my messages; just page me!”
eyes were on her. It seemed like every doctor and nurse on the clock was
lingering, exchanging glances. Nothing seemed to change around here.
voice made her heart beat faster. “Hi, Kerry. I’m sorry to call you
in the middle of the shift. I know you‘re busy.” Kerry smiled. Busy
that’s okay Sandy,” she purred. “I was just thinking about you.”
She considered adding the word naked, but decided this was not a
good idea. Luka was across the desk, smiling from ear to ear, giving her
the thumbs-up. “What do you need?”
other things,” Sandy laughed, suggestively before becoming serious,
“...your approval. I forgot, I was supposed to go out with some of the
guys this afternoon for a late lunch. Kind of a celebration type
brow furrowed. Sandy certainly did not need her approval to socialize,
even if they did have tentative plans. “Do you want to just catch up
with me later?”
um, actually...” Sandy took a deep breath. “I want you to join us.
Some of the men are bringing dates, and everyone’s been asking about
be glad to go." Kerry was touched, if anxious about meeting Sandy's
co-workers. She'd made a bad first impression the night she went
storming into the firehouse. "If you're sure it's okay. I wouldn't
want to intrude."
worry about it." Sandy seemed to know where Kerry's apprehension
was coming from. "They know how much I..." She swallowed her
initial impulse, and the pause was noticeable. "How much you mean
voice lowered, so as not to make a spectacle of her feelings. “I
can’t wait to see you. I’ll leave at one today; I can spare the
overtime. I just have to stop at home to freshen up.”
had swallowed her feelings and recomposed. “Then I‘ll swing by at
two...” There was a little pause. “Talk to you later, okay?”
Kerry hung up, she knew what was missing in all those little pauses.
barely heard the doorbell over the hair dryer. Sandy had to be the most
punctual person she had ever dated. Not yet dressed, Kerry bent over to
pick up the fuzzy purple bath towel that was still damp at her feet. It
wrapped easily around her small frame. She laughed softly the whole way
to the door. Her senses were still reeling from a whole day of not being
able to get sex off her mind. Maybe, just maybe, they’d show up
fashionably late for lunch.
After checking the peephole to confirm that it was *definitely* Sandy-- she dropped the towel, and the normally conservative doctor swung the door wide open without further consideration of the possibilities.
Sandy’s mouth dropped. The long stemmed red rose she carried fell to
the ground, forgotten, as she flung herself forward to hide Kerry.
Lieutenant Jefferies, just a couple steps behind, spun around and hid
his face, shouting, “I didn’t see anything, I swear!” Trying,
however ineffectually, to diffuse the embarrassment.
us for a few moments,” Sandy said, shutting the door.
called, “I’ll be waiting in the car... just take your time getting
the house, Kerry had pulled away from Sandy and re-wrapped herself in
the towel. Sandy grabbed her fiercely and pulled her close, rubbing her
back and shoulders wondering what in the world to say.
spoke first, looking down with watery eyes. “I’m sorry. I just
cut her off. “No, I’m sorry. I should’ve told you I was
giving him a ride. Since we had some time I just thought you’d feel
better if you knew someone before we got there.”
guess I ruined everything.”
helped Kerry to the couch and hugged her again, smiling and brushing a
strand of hair out of her eyes. She lifted Kerry’s chin and couldn’t
help but see the humor of it all. “Hardly.” Her memory produced an
image of a young Kerry Weaver dancing naked around a wall of flames, and
her smiles broke loose. She chose not to allude to this.
smile was weak. “You’re not mad?”
this, Sandy laughed, and kissed her playfully on the cheek. “I’m
anything but mad.” She took Kerry’s hand and kissed it, letting the
fingers linger sensuously by her lips. “If I’d known what you had in
mind, I would have shown up alone. But Jefferies is waiting in the car,
and you should get dressed.”
can’t go now!”
rolled her eyes. “He won’t say anything to anyone.”
he will! And I have a reputation to-”
talk to him,” Sandy promised. She went to Kerry’s bedroom and came
back with the clothes which had been neatly laid out on the bed.
“Here. You’re coming, because I’ve been waiting for way too long
to show you off.” She looked at her watch. “We still have a while.
You get dressed, pour three glasses of wine, and I’ll go get
Jefferies. God knows he’s probably more embarrassed than you are.”
doubt that,” grumbled Kerry, slipping into gray slacks and a fitted
cream colored blouse. But once completely decent, she felt herself relax
a bit. Sandy took a few minutes getting Jeffries out of the car. Kerry
had time to gulp down one whole glass and pour three more before they
came back in.
entered the kitchen and held out the rose, reclaimed from the front
porch. Her dark eyes held the promise of all the passion Kerry could
you." Kerry could not resist pulling Sandy into a long, passionate
kiss before pulling away, to retrieve a glass from the cupboard.
much restraint do you think I have, woman?" Sandy's voice was thick
with the desire she was holding back on.
placed the rose in the glass in the middle of the table. "Well now
maybe you know a little of what I've been feeling all
day." They entered the living room quickly to avoid what could have
happened in the kitchen.
man sitting on the couch when they came out looked to be in his early
thirties, dark hair with blue eyes, clean cut, dressed casual, and
completely red in the face. Kerry decided to pretend nothing had
happened, set a wine glass before him on the coffee table, and extended
a hand. “I‘m pleased to meet you, Lieutenant Jefferies.”
shook the hand. “You can call me Ron. And the pleasure is mine. I’ve
heard sooo much about you.”
deferred to Sandy, who stood protectively by her side, beaming. “Of
course, I’d have nothing to do with that.”
blushed for what seemed the hundredth time since she’d met Sandy.
you two are quite the couple.” He thought for a moment, and observed,
“You seem to round each other out.”
smile was tender. “She just might settle me down.”
seated, wine and comfortable banter replaced the strained politeness.
Sandy and Kerry leaned into each other, each anticipating the other‘s
words and actions. The male firefighter was actually quite tactful and
Kerry thought, charming.
the women told him how they'd met in the rainy Chicago streets that
night. Sandy became very animated, gesturing wildly and nearly acting
out the part where she threw Kerry on the ground. Kerry enjoyed the way
her partner got louder and more excited as conversation progressed.
"And there we were, laying in a puddle, and all I could think was
how bad I wanted to kiss her!"
was genuinely shocked. "You never told me that!"
like it wasn't too obvious..."
wasn't!!!" Kerry decided to pour herself another glass of wine. Just
wait until I get you alone, Sandy...
was a lull in the conversation. Sandy flashed Jefferies a wicked grin.
"So, speaking of crushes, aren't you going to ask her about
looked down at his lap, and shook his head.
was confused. "What is this all about?"
was determined. "Jefferies seems to have a problem opening up. I
really think he needs to talk about his feelings. Feelings, say, toward
a certain surgeon seen from time to time around your own ER..."
His ears were red.
raised an eyebrow. "Dr. Corday? Elizabeth Corday? How did you
happen to meet her?"
shrugged. “I love a woman with a sexy accent. I heard her talking in
the hall. I was there being treated the night of the school fire. I just
heard her, in passing, and kind of hung around hoping to, you know, talk
stalked her!" Sandy was extremely amused by his predicament.
felt bad, and shook her head. "I can certainly understand the
attraction, but she's happily married, with a daughter. I‘m
knows this!" Sandy roared. "And I keep telling him, go for
Nurse what’s-her-name?” She looked blankly at Kerry. “You know,
the cute one.”
stiffened with a slight pang of jealousy, and Sandy noticed. Somewhat
pleased and ashamed of herself.
than happy to change the subject to time, Kerry broke up the small
party. "Shouldn't we be heading to the Moose and Squirrel? It's
almost three o'clock!" Then something occurred to her. She turned
to Sandy, acutely concerned. "Are you able to drive?"
was. She'd hardly touched her wine.
Moose and Squirrel was not what Kerry remembered. The place was now
carpeted, instead of a tile floor slick with beer and spit. The animal
heads and firearms had been taken down in favor of some tasteful
outdoorsy paintings. There was no longer a wall of half naked women on
beer posters behind the bar. The paisley linoleum booths had been
replaced with solid oak tables and chairs. Seedy twang did not blare
from a radio behind the bartender. She was a young blonde in a uniform
chewing gum, instead of a toothless guy in a mullet and greasy
wife-beater, gumming tobacco. There was now a jukebox off in the corner.
No doubt it was full of country albums, but one could not get too picky.
blonde bartender cracked her gum. “Hey Jefferies...”
nodded respectfully toward his companions. “I’ll be right back.”
turned to Kerry before they got to the table. “I know this is far from
fancy, but they do have great sandwiches.”
me, I can have fun anywhere with you.” Kerry was beginning to think
she’d never get over how lucky she felt to be at Sandy’s side. Among
other reasons, Sandy made her feel like herself, and comfortable with
men, one with a wife or girlfriend, were seated at two adjoined tables
for four. “Where’s Hanson and Joanna?” Sandy asked the man sitting
solo, and introduced him. “Kerry, this is Gilroy. Gilroy, Kerry
nodded, and smiled at Kerry, before answering the question. “He said
they’d be about a half hour late.” He winked.
laughed aloud, rolling her eyes. “I don’t even want to know why!”
(Though it seemed she already did.) She gestured toward the couple
sitting across from Gilroy. “This,“ she emphasized, “is Brody
Lorenzini and his girlfriend, Gina. Meet Kerry Weaver.”
worried that perhaps a heterosexual woman would not be very receptive to
her. But Gina rose and grasped her hand warmly. “It’s nice to meet
you.” Brody added, “To finally meet you.”
seated Kerry between herself and Gilroy, across from Gina.
Jefferies reappeared with another man. ”Looked what I dragged in off
Sandy was glad to see him. “Get your ass over here and meet my
girlfriend!” Marty obliged, introducing himself. “I’m Marty.
Pleased to meet you.”
pleasure is mine,” Kerry assured him, with a firm handshake.
suggested that they go ahead and order, and took his seat across the
table from Sandy. Kerry was, in fact, relieved to have the one person
she knew besides her date sitting in conversational range.
sat next to Sandy. She inquired, “So what made you decide to show
they cancelled Ronnie’s street hockey game. Rain.”
his son,” explained Sandy. “He’s named after Jefferies!” And to
Marty, “That’s too bad.”
leaned forward. “So you’re the big-shot ER Doc always patching up my
interjected, “I think she’s bandaged you up on more than one
smiled wide. “So I’ve noticed.”
called from the corner, “Why don’tcha quit hitting on Sandy’s
woman and find one of your own. And order something while you’re at
ex-wife doesn’t allow me to date.”
waitress, glad to finally be noticed, shook her head. “Always the
loudest table in the bar...” Her smile showed she didn’t really
ordered a Coors.
with Lime for me, please,” Sandy ordered.
have the same.” Kerry was in the mood for beer, a rare occasion. She
was having fun, and hadn’t expected to. It warmed her heart to see a
group so close-knit. She spent a few moments wishing she had this type
of relationship with her staff. Before remembering, sadly, that she
could not relinquish her professional cushion of space.
broke into her thoughts. “Seriously, Dr. Weaver, we’re glad that you
could join us this afternoon. And I think I speak for all the guys-”
girls... when I say we’re thankful for doctors!”
started the applause. Brody stood and took a bow. Kerry didn’t know
what to say. She ended up having to say nothing. Jefferies stood up and
shouted, “We’re thankful to be alive!”
applause doubled. Sandy laughed, pointing out some regulars at the bar
joining in. Marty stood up and raised his bottle. “We’re thankful to
threw a wadded up napkin. Laughter and talking resumed.
the table, Sandy squeezed Kerry’s hand. “Are you okay?”
nodded, genuinely enjoying herself. “Actually it’s been a while
since I’ve had a good time.”
leaned over and whispered, “I had a good time last night.” And this
was one of the times her expression of lust was almost frightening to
Kerry. She was speechless. Sandy leaned over and gave her a very slow,
loving kiss. “Thank you for coming. This means a lot to me.”
Dan Hanson and his wife, Joanna, arrived, they were introduced. He had
to pull up a chair to join the group at the overflowing table.
by the entrance, the conversation turned quickly to the play-by-play of
the school fire. But Kerry’s attention turned introspective. She
observed how much in love the married couple seemed to be, how Joanna
looked at her husband when the others praised him for his heroism. She
felt a lump in her throat, recognizing Joanna Hanson’s pride as the
way she felt about Sandy.
watched Sandy, her heart growing larger and lighter as time passed. The
food came, and was eaten. She barely tasted her club sandwich. All she
could think about was what a big heart Sandy had, and how badly she
wanted to be alone with her again. Not only for sex. That was great and
would always be great. But to tell her over and over how much she would
always need her, to tell her they must never be apart again. Those
words, among other words, could not be overlooked, could never be taken
excused herself to the ladies room. Gilroy turned to Kerry, smiling.
“I’ve never seen her like this,” he said.
piped up. “Meaning she’s getting all... sentimental. Like
girly-women get. She’s like a sister to us, so it’s sorta cute.”
used to seem so... sad inside. You know, underneath all that fun. But I
think you make her happy, and bring out the best in her. I just hope you
intend to be around for awhile.” Jefferies was expecting an answer.
Because he cared. They all cared, about Sandy.
took the plunge. “Believe me.” She eyed the object of her affection
approaching the table, beauty her very aura, and lowered her voice. “I
don‘t ever intend to try to live without her.”
occurred to her for the first time that it didn’t matter to one
person in the room that she was gay. Suddenly, a lifetime of denying
herself freedom seemed absurd. She raised her own bottle just slightly
off the table to toast firefighters, being truly alive, and of
were questions in Sandy‘s eyes, unspoken needs in her kiss. She
hadn’t heard a word of what was said, and still knew it had been about
her. But since everyone was nearly drunk, the conversation shifted
again, ever lively. That was alright. In time, all questions would be
When that time came, Kerry decided, she had some very serious things to say.
- by Peanut41
The thumping bass from the stereo speakers sent vibrations through the living room floorboards and up into Kerry's feet and legs. Aretha's voice - powerful, confident, in control - filled the room and was echoed with surprising strength and clarity by Kerry's normally reedy alto.
Kerry spun on her left foot and gracefully completed the pirouette with her right foot and crutch.
She paused briefly to spread her arms, throw back her head, and proclaim - with the help of the Queen of Soul -
you need, you know I got it...."
and then continued to whirl about the room with a freedom and abandon
that recalled distant, assumed forgotten, childhood memories.
Sandy had only just dropped Kerry off at her house a few minutes earlier. The smell of cigarette smoke from the Moose and Squirrel clung to Kerry's hair and skin and she had wanted to come home to shower and change for their dinner date while Sandy went back to her studio to do the same. (Sandy had no toiletries or clothing at Kerry's, an unacceptable oversight that Kerry made a mental note to correct as soon as possible.) They would meet back here at 7:30. She had just less than ninety minutes to prepare but was in no hurry at the moment. The shower could wait. For as soon as she had turned on the music, the desire - no, need - to dance had overwhelmed her.
spun past a mirror with a silver inlayed frame that she'd picked up on a
trip to Mexico. From the corner of her eye she glimpsed a reflection in
the mirror of a woman she didn't recognize and stopped abruptly,
thinking for a moment that a stranger had somehow found her way into
Kerry's living room. The woman's red hair was tussled, her cheeks
flushed, her eyes sparkling. And a gleeful grin crinkled the corners of
her mouth and eyes.
studied her own reflection with a mixture of amazement and curiosity.
What was this? There was a word for this and the doctor in Kerry
struggled to find it, to diagnose the phenomenon, to name what she saw
in the mirror.
The song changed on the stereo.
"Lookin' out on the morning rain
used to feel so uninspired...."
She felt certain this was the same feeling that had enveloped her last night and again this morning, as surely as Sandy's arms had enveloped her. She'd heard it now in the sound of her voice singing just as she'd heard it earlier today in the sound of Sandy's laughter at the Moose and Squirrel.
Before the day I met you, life was so unkind.
you're the key to my peace of mind."
Kerry was only subconsciously aware of the song now playing, but the lyrics prodded her toward understanding. The word danced on the tip of her tongue, as it frequently seemed to whenever she was with - or thought of - Sandy. And though it wasn't a foreign word she sought, she knew that the feeling it described had been foreign - or lost - to her until just recently.
"When my soul was in the Lost and Found
You came along to claim it.
I didn't know just what was wrong with me
your kiss helped me name it."
eyes widened, a look of almost childlike wonder on her face. She could
see the word in her mind now, could hear the sound of it in her head.
And so as not to break the spell of this moment, Kerry whispered it to
her reflection in the mirror.
"You make me feel, you make me feel,
make me feel like a natural woman."
It had been an unseasonably warm day, downright balmy for March in Chicago. But now, as the sun disappeared, a damp chill crept into the air. Sandy watched through her windshield as pedestrians darted across the intersection, their collars turned up against the cold. She chuckled to herself as she watched a sudden gust of wind pick up and carry away a baseball cap and the owner scuttle after it like a crab. Sandy felt immune to the cold this evening, found it bracing, invigorating. Her car window was rolled all the way down, the stereo pounding out an old, somewhat obscure R&B song.
"If you want my lovin',
If you really do,
Don't be afraid baby, just ask me.
know I'm gonna give it to you."
she thought, but wasn't absolutely sure. She'd have to check with Kerry
on that. Kerry was the expert on All Things Aretha.
she'd only just dropped Kerry off at her place, was going to see her
again in ninety minutes (less, if the traffic cooperated). Yet she could
think of nothing, or no one, else. She thought of the startled look on
Kerry's face when she'd opened the door to surprise Sandy and found she
wasn't alone (and at the thought of Kerry standing nude at the door, a
grin beamed across Sandy's face). Of Kerry settling into first
comfortable and then enthusiastic banter at lunch with her pals from the
38. Of Kerry in her arms this morning, Kerry in her arms last night.
flush of desire darkened Sandy's cheeks and she felt a little
disappointed in herself. There was so much more that she felt for Kerry
than mere physical desire. She loved her, of that she had no doubt. She
was fascinated by her, could listen to her talk for hours. And she felt
a fierce protectiveness that surprised her - that she should feel
protective of this strong, capable, self-sufficient woman, a woman who
gave no indication of needing Sandy's or anyone else's protection. Yet
desire for Kerry tugged at her constantly, like a demanding child
pulling insistently at her sleeve. And like a demanding child, it would
persist until she gave it her full attention.
sound of a car horn blasting jolted Sandy out of her daydream. In her
rearview mirror she could see the impatient motorist behind her gesture
angrily to the now-green light and mouth an obscenity. Sandy only raised
her right hand in acknowledgement and mouthed "Thanks" in her
mirror in response. She proceeded slowly through the intersection. His
anger did not touch her.
continued to wonder at this need she felt to protect Kerry. She had been
protective of Anna, but there had been a sad desperation to that, a
frantic effort to slow the descent of a woman careening toward
self-destruction. With Kerry, her protectiveness was almost maternal
(although her feelings for her were anything but motherly). She knew
Kerry well enough to know that there was a lot she didn't know.
But she sensed in Kerry a certain "newness"; and she knew
intuitively that many of the things that Kerry was now feeling, doing,
risking were fresh and unique experiences. So much seemed to catch her
by surprise. When she felt challenged, when it seemed that the comfort
of the familiar was threatened (however unfulfilling or dysfunctional
the familiar might be) she was perfectly capable of lashing out, of
throwing a tantrum. But there were times when Sandy would catch a look
of puzzled wonder cross Kerry's face, much like the look on a toddler's
face as she takes her first tentative steps alone - a mixture of
trepidation and exhilaration. And then, like a child, she would rush
head-on into her new experience, as a toddler will go from one or two
wobbly steps to a full-out giggling run.
one doesn't go from a step to a run without a few falls. Sandy wished
she could protect Kerry from all harm - from a scraped ego or bruised
feelings - but she knew that wasn't possible, or even healthy. And Kerry
wouldn't allow it anyway - she couldn't stand to be coddled. So Sandy
would stand by, watching and marveling at Kerry's joyful run. And she
would insert herself, whenever possible, between Kerry and life's sharp
corners and hard landings.
Yes, it was Aretha. Definitely Aretha.
Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down - by Piney
what purpose April, do you return again? Beauty is not enough. You can
no longer quiet me with the redness of little leaves opening stickily. I
know what I know. The sun is hot on my neck as I observe the spikes of
the crocus. The smell of the earth is good. It is apparent that there is
no death. But what does that signify? Not only under ground are the
brains of men eaten by maggots. Life in itself is nothing, an empty cup,
a flight of uncarpeted stairs. It is not enough that yearly, down this
hill, April comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers. --
O’Neill walks slowly and carefully up to the casket supported above
the freshly dug grave that will receive her husband’s body. She
steadies herself with a trembling hand to kiss the black lacquered box
and kneel beside it. Her forehead rests against it--the remainder of his
life and love, and she prays, crossing herself slowly, seeming to hold
back tears and a desire to wail. Such restraint is expected of the
spouse of a dead firefighter; so is the grief pulling at her face. She
rises, appearing resolute and newly composed, to remove a pendant from
around her neck and place it on the casket alongside a single red rose.
watches the ritual from deep within the gallery of spouses and friends
of the 38th division of the Chicago Fire Department. It is cool and
bright in the low afternoon sun of late April. Crocuses have emerged
through patches of the last spring snow, evoking regret among the
gathered rather than promise. It is the first spring John will not see
and in which Angela will not find renewal. The division stands in
formation behind the family. Sandy is in the front row of the phalanx of
men in formal dress and identical stoic expressions. She breaks ranks to
offer condolences to the now emotionless woman. The others follow her
lead to form a long line meant to show the widow that she is not alone
and will continue to be held closely by the family of brothers and
black uniforms mix into the crowd and couples and families stand
together as a bagpiper plays an Irish hymn. The piper walks slowly from
beside the grave to stand under a tree on a nearby hilltop. Kerry and
Sandy walk silently up the rise toward their car, escaping from the
heavy pall into a fresh breeze. Kerry speaks the one thought she has
been distilling for the last hour.
“There are a hundred ways for a firefighter to die aren’t there Sandy?” Sandy searches Kerry’s face, gauging the depth of her remark. Fear has found a new home in the back of Kerry’s eyes.
“Yeah Kerry,” Sandy looks back to the gravesite, “A hundred ways.” The bagpipe wheezes to a stop and the last of the graveside mourners begin to move off. Life is never stilled. It is only slowed in the mind long enough to remember a favorite, fleeting form.
“Organized stardust.” Kerry murmurs.
“Nothing.” Philosophy can be an insult to grief.
“I have to pass on dinner tonight.” Sandy says flatly, her caring overcome by fatigue. “Jackson’s wife went into labor this afternoon. I told him I would cover his shift.” They stand together looking over the hill as cars pull away to form a slow-motion jam at the cemetery exit. They too must leave for the groundskeepers to complete their work. “I don’t have to go to the firehouse—just on call--but maybe we should do it another night.” Her face is pale where the crisp breeze should have made it ruddy and away from the men, Sandy has allowed her eyes to fade into sadness. Kerry watches Sandy withdrawing into a dark solitude and she reaches to squeeze Sandy into her shoulder.
“Why don’t you come over for dinner then. I’ll cook something simple.” Sandy doesn’t answer but turns to bury her face in Kerry’s coat. She allows herself only a few tears before emerging, the wetness chapping her skin in the cool air.
swing by the firehouse for some gear and come over,” she says, after
collecting herself. The sun has dropped below the line of trees
separating the buried dead from the living city. They pull away from the
gate and close their minds to what lies behind them.
“Hey Cap.” Sandy’s greeting is subdued but warm. Today it is hard to hold professional distance with Captain Shaw. He has been her mentor and friend since she first joined the department. “Did my medal come in?’
“Yeah.” Shaw fights a smile as he reaches into his desk to find a dark blue jewelry case. “Planning on making an honest woman of that doctor friend of yours?” His smile infects her and she grins slyly, “Maybe.” She opens the case to see the Saint Florian medal just as she had ordered it—sterling silver in the shape of an oval. She checks the engraving on the back. “Please protect Sandy Lopez #177825.” She places the medal back carefully and slips the case into her uniform jacket. “It was a good service, Cap.” Shaw slumps in his chair a little deeper. “Your eulogy was…” Sandy tries to find the right words to praise reluctant excellence. “It was good. I am sure Angela appreciated it. We all did.”
Shaw sits up again, pushes papers around on his desk to shift his
attention before his emotion is revealed. Sandy steps around the desk
quickly and places a kiss on his cheek before he can realize her intent.
She turns and hurries out the door without looking back for her sake as
well as his.
helps herself to seconds from the platter of pot roast that Kerry has
placed in the center of the table. Kerry had planned this meal to be
comfort food. She had cut the potatoes, carrots, and onions into large
chunks as would a farmhouse cook, hoping to bring to mind a warm country
home. She had browned the rib-eye roast and cooked it slowly, adding the
vegetables in their time, until the meat was done and the vegetables
were just tender and still colorful. It had been a relief to take action
after feeling so powerless. The caramelized onions in the bottom of the
pan added flavor to the rich gravy she designed to be poured liberally
over the meat and potatoes. She served it with green peas, applesauce,
and warm, buttered potato rolls. The art of this meal is equal to the
best haute cuisine she has prepared in the past. Kerry is satisfied with
her effort. How else could she comfort Sandy or ease her own chilling
thoughts from the day’s events. They each pour a tall glass of cold
Sandy finishes with a flurry of roll and gravy and washes it down with the last of her milk. She expects to be called at any time and has eaten a little too quickly. She fidgets with an unused spoon as she waits for Kerry to finish. Her thoughtful glances at Kerry’s plate are mixed with nervousness and could be mistaken for impatience.
“What is it, Sandy?” They have spoken only a few words since Sandy arrived, mostly about the food and the weather.
“Kerry, what will you do if I am killed in a fire?” Kerry looked sharply at Sandy. How could she want to talk of that now when everyone is still in shock over O’Neill’s death? Kerry stares into her glass and waits. “It could happen Kerry. Every run…I know it could be the last.” Kerry still hasn’t looked up. “I just want to know if you still want to go on with us.”
“What do you mean? Do I want to be with you knowing you will die one day?” Kerry pops up from the table to retrieve an apple pie from the oven. “I may die before you do, you know. I could get hit by a bus, catch an exotic disease, get knifed in the ER, hit by a drunk…”
it Kerry; you know what I mean. It isn’t the same thing.” Sandy’s
intensity brings Kerry back to the table and she gives Sandy her full
“Okay, you’re right. It isn’t the same thing. There is extra risk. It is dangerous work.” Kerry begins with irritation but softens as the thought forms in her mind. “That’s why you do it. Somebody has to take the risk.” She takes Sandy’s hand across the corner of the table and caresses it with her thumb trying to soothe away the difficult truth.
“It isn’t just my risk anymore…It’s yours too…as long as we’re together…you can get hurt.”
“I always knew that”
but it seems more real now doesn’t it?” Sandy waits for Kerry to
find her honesty.
“And every time I go on a run you have to worry if I’ll come back or if I’ll be hurt. You’ll listen for the phone and jump when it rings.”
I need to know…” Sandy quiets Kerry’s caress with her other hand
“…are you sure you want to do this?” Kerry stops breathing.
“Be with you?”
“Yeah, I mean really be with me. Be more with me.” Kerry releases Sandy’s hands and stands again to clear the table. Sandy picks up the glasses, follows Kerry to the sink and leans against the counter to wait for Kerry to collect her thoughts now swirling in the rinse water.
“Sandy, no one knows how long they will live. I see people die everyday. We all have to make the most of what time we get.”
sure. I get that. But everyone doesn’t walk into burning buildings.
Families have to worry all the time.” Kerry stores the word
“families” in the back of her mind.
about your guilt for making me worry?” Sandy holds the breath she has
collected for her next argument and frowns admission. Her guilt has
driven her to ask the question in the first place. The guilt is just as
heavy a burden.
you fight fire because you want to serve.” Kerry dries her hands and
places them on the sides of Sandy’s face. “You serve because you
care. You care because that is who you are…and that is why I love
words hit Sandy squarely in the chest. She lets them seep inside slowly.
“…I love you more than I have loved anyone…ever.” Kerry’s
words flow to fill every crevice of Sandy’s heart, leaving no room for
fear or regret or any other ache one may nurture in love’s absence.
Sandy draws her slowly into a tight embrace forcing Kerry to finish the
thought into her neck. “Seems only fair that something this special
comes with a price.”
here.” Sandy leads Kerry by the hand into the living room. She reaches
into the pocket of her jacket lying over the back of the couch and pulls
out the blue box. “Sit,” Sandy instructs. She snuggles in closely
beside Kerry on the couch, lets out a deep, tense breath and lays the
box in Kerry’s lap. “I want you to have this.”
Kerry slowly opens the box already suspecting what she will find. “Sandy…” Kerry flushes.
“It’s a St. Florian medal. I am hoping you will wear it for me. It is something the wives do…”
“I know, Sandy.”
“It’s a tradition.”
means…we are together. That I love you and want you in my life.”
With no response from Kerry, Sandy begins to ramble nervously. “Kerry,
I know we haven’t talked about this…”
Kerry surprises Sandy with a strong kiss. “It is beautiful, Sandy. I’ll wear it very proudly.” She resists telling Sandy how much she had hoped for this gift. Sandy pulls the medal from the case and places it around Kerry’s neck. Kerry’s cheeks are wet with tears. Seeing this, Sandy’s eyes begin to well.
“I guess it means you’re mine.”
“Sandy, I’ve been yours for a long time.” They sit back into the couch, Kerry with one hand squeezing Sandy’s hand and the other pressing the medal.
”Sandy. I don’t take my life, or yours, for granted. I can’t promise I won’t worry, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I couldn’t.”
know Kerry. What would I do without you?” Sandy dries her cheeks with
her sleeve and laughs, turning solemness into joy. “How about some of
that pie. It smells so good!” She stands and pulls Kerry up off the
couch into her embrace.
thought you wanted pie!” Kerry protests weakly as she squeezes Sandy
hard against her body—both forms yielding to pressure and creating
warmth. They stand holding one another quietly for a long moment. It is
these moments that make the journey possible.
Kerry starts for the kitchen and stops in midstride at the sound of Sandy’s beeper. She turns to see Sandy reach into her pocket, read the beeper and quickly grab for her jacket. “I have to go. It is warehouse row—4 alarms.” Kerry has witnessed the call to fire once before, but then her anger had protected her from the stomach-squeezing dread she was now feeling. She can’t afford to show it just as Sandy can’t afford to take fear with her to the fire.
“I will be here when you get back.”
“Don’t wait up”
“I won’t.” Kerry knew she would not sleep. “Be safe.”
“I will. I love you.” Sandy captures Kerry’s eyes to be sure her expression of love was heard in the rush.
“I love you too.”
Sandy kisses Kerry quickly and turns to run out the door to her car. Kerry watches and fingers the new pendant and the raised letters around the figure, ‘Saint Florian--Protect Us’. She sees Sandy wave from the car and disappear from view.
“A hundred ways to die” she whispers to herself. She turns away from the door and heads back to the kitchen. “And only one way to live.”