Night of Surrender & Strength
By: J. Lynn Stapleton (aka Jlynnsca)

Kerry stood anxiously outside Kim's front door, hoping that the younger doctor would let her in, given the cooler reception Kerry'd given her earlier in the day when Dr. Corday walked past them. Kerry was tired, exhausted and weary from her day at work. She also felt guilty for what happened, thinking that if only things had gone differently, no one would have died from that sweatshop. She'd driven home from the hospital out of habit after a long arduous day but she couldn't go in and dwell on it on her own. She started walking, uncertain of where she stood in her relationship with Kim Legaspi, and uncertain of her faith in maintaining the rules and regulations. Gradually after a ride on the El, she walked to Kim's townhouse, where she awaited Kim's presence.

Kerry looked up in the window as Kim's face appeared. The younger woman was a little surprised to see her but smiled, glad that she had come. Kerry didn't know if the psychiatrist had heard of the events that occurred in the ER that day, but once Kim had opened the door, the younger doctor could plainly see that Kerry was upset. She guided Kerry into the house, one arm around Kerry's waist as she closed the door behind them with her other.

"Kerry, can I take your coat from you?" Kim asked her quietly. After a nod from Kerry, Kim gently removed the coat and hung it up in the foyer. Kim then guided Kerry into her living room and sat her on a couch that faced the front window. The slight melodic alto voice of Diana Krall came from the stereo speaker over in a corner of the room. Papers were scattered over the coffee table evidenced that Kim had been working on some cases from work. Her large mug of half-emptied coffee lay next to the pile of paperwork. After getting Kerry settled on the couch, she moved the Kerry's crutch slightly off to the side but well within reach for the ER Chief. From any experience that Kim had with the Kerry, the ER Chief was very independent, and rarely relied on anyone for assistance. So it was disturbing to Kim that Kerry wasn't even putting up any resistance to being led so completely. Kim looked up at the older woman and wordlessly asked if Kerry wanted Kim to remove her shoes. Another nod.

"What's wrong, Kerry?" Kim couldn't take the silence, it was becoming unbearable. She was really concerned.

"I...It's my fault." Kerry was almost on the verge of crying, but she still kept up her barriers though they be crumbling against a tirade of emotion. "They died because of me."

"Whoa, Kerry, love. Tell me what's going on." Kim knelt on the floor next to Kerry and placed a hand over hers.

As upset as Kerry was, she knew this would take some time to relay, so she asked Kim to sit with her.

"It all started this morning. A young Guatemalan man had been brought in with an occupational injury. It was Luca's case. Luca had asked me to get some of the radiology films, but in talking with the injured man, I found the man was terrified and didn't want anyone to know about the accident. It's my responsibility to report occupational injuries, so I contacted OSHA. I later found out that OSHA had contacted Immigration Services about several complaints about illegal sweatshops in the area where the accident occurred. In an attempt to flea INS capture, a fire was accidentally started from a kerosene lamp falling over, and most of the workers were caught in the fire. Many didn't get out, and those that did were badly burned or injured, including a five year old child." Kerry stopped, tears now freely flowed down her cheeks. Kim moved closer and put her arms around Kerry, trying to comfort her. "The child had a simple tibia fracture, but her mother had been electrocuted on a high voltage wire. We worked on her, but she arrested, and we were unable to revive her."

"Kerry, love, it's not your fault."

"It is. If I hadn't..."

"No, Kerry. OSHA was already involved, as you said. Something would have happened regardless of anything you may or may not have done. Maybe today, maybe three months from now. We don't know for sure. We have a legal responsibility to report incidences of occupational hazards. You know that. I know that."

"But, I could have made sure that INS wasn't involved." Kerry wanted to protest - surely she could have done something to prevent what had happened.

"How, Kerry? That's not within your scope of practice. As much as I know you want to be able to ensure that everything works out for the best, you did what was necessary."

Kerry knew she should argue the point that Kim herself has flaunted protocol before, but she was too tired and didn't feel like arguing. Kim stood up and climbed behind Kerry on the couch, then enveloped the other doctor in her arms, leaning back against the armrest pulling Kerry back with her. Kim hoped she wasn't pressing Kerry. But then again, it had been Kerry who instigated their intimacy and love-making the night before sending both of the women into an exhaustive sleep. After quite a long time had passed and she could feel that Kerry had fallen asleep, Kim extracted herself from beneath Kerry and gently lay her back against some pillows. Kerry barely whimpered at the loss of contact.

"Kerry, I'm just going to put on the kettle to make some lemon tea. I'll be back in a few moments," Kim whispered into her ear.

"I don't need any tea. What I do need, is you. Please stay with me."

"Ker, this couch really isn't meant for two of us to lie on. If you want that, we should go into the bedroom. When do you have to work next?"

"Tomorrow evening. Kovac is covering days."

"Okay. I have a light day tomorrow, nothing pressing until a meeting with a patient at 2:30. I did a lot of work this evening before you got here. We can take it easy and relax."

With a slight smile, Kerry responded, "Are you trying to seduce me, Dr. Legaspi?"

"Is it working?" Kim responded with a smile.

"I'll let you know." Kerry grabbed her crutch and pushed herself up into a standing position.

Kim moved to turn off the stereo, then shut off the lights around the house, with the exception of the bedroom and bathroom. They brushed their teeth and took care of personal necessities. Kim went to her drawers and pulled out a couple of shirts and boxer shorts. She tossed a set of both to Kerry. "I apologise in advance, but these likely going to be too big on you."

"Thanks. That's all right. I'm kinda used to things being too big for me. But that doesn't mean that I don't like them," Kerry smiled seductively at Kim as she emerged from the bathroom wearing her shirt & boxers. Kerry pursed her lips together and looked at Kim. "Kim, do you think it would be okay if you just held me tonight? I don't think I - "

"Of course, Kerry. Look we'll take it slow. I don't want to force you into anything."

"It's not that I don't want to. I'd love to make love to you. What we had last night was lovely and beautiful. You are incredibly beautiful. What I'm saying is that I'm really exhausted. But I do want to be with you."

"Oh God, Kerry, I'm sorry. I misunderstood. Here's one admission for you, doctor: when I start a new relationship with someone I admire and respect, someone that I'm really attracted to, I can be really insecure."

"Really? I wouldn't have guessed." Kerry smiled at her, moving towards Kim and pulling the younger doctor into a hug. "You know what? I'm think I'm falling in love with you. It's surprised me. But I really like it." Kerry closed the distance and kissed Kim in a loving, passionate kiss.

Kim led Kerry to the bed and they climbed in. Kerry curled up on her side with Kim spooning behind her and wrapping her arm over Kerry's chest. "That's good, Kerry. Because I love you, too." Kim had kind of expected Kerry to tense up, and being really happy that she hadn't. The smile on Kim's face was radiant. And if one had to look at Kerry's, they would have seen a matching smile, along with a tear rolling down from one of her eyes.

Before long both women were sound asleep. At some point through the night they'd ended up with Kim on her back, Kerry half on her side with an arm resting on Kim's abdomen under her shirt, and a leg draped over one of Kim's. The full brightness of the moon shone through the blinds casting shadows over the women in peaceful slumber.

- Graphics designs by BAMArts Creations

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