Kerry on the Outside


AUTHOR: Toby Rollins
EMAIL: amm@together.net
CATEGORY: KW
RATING: PG-13
SPOILERS: no
DISCLAIMER: Warner Bros. Invented Kerry Weaver : - )
SUMMARY: KW in love



Chicago
January, 2001


Kerry's alarm barely sounded as her hand descended to extinguish the shrill. Groaning, she was able to make out the time by squinting one eye until it was almost shut again: 6:00 AM. Without lingering, she urged herself upright and ran a hand through her hair. OK, so she had logged 4 hours sleep last night, that would do. She got out of bed heading directly for the shower. The hot water felt good but she fought any urge to linger. Toweled off, Kerry sat in front of a mirror in the bedroom and popped in her contacts before applying mascara, foundation, blush, rouge and eyeliner. Thank god she was lucky about her hair in that it didn't require any work to look acceptable. She would let it dry in the car on the way to work. She peered closely and was satisfied with her looks.

Her clothes didn't matter too much as whatever she chose would be hidden under the white lab coat for the most part. Kerry brought pants, a camisole and button-down shirt over to the bed, sat down and dressed on the bed, laying back to slip on the pants. She got up and checked herself in the full length mirror behind the door. Placing a hand briefly on the satisfying flatness at her waist, she turned on one heel and got her parka. She was out of the house by 6:30, pulling through the Dunkin' Donuts drive through by 6:45 and at work by 7:00

"Mornin', Dr. Weaver"

"Good morning, Jerry" Kerry nodded at the night clerk "How does the shift change look?"

"No one has called in sick. Yet…" he responded.

She listened to him rattle off the short list of the overnight admits. Then she grabbed the stack of charts to prepare for Rounds.


E-MAIL

To: All Emergency Residents, County General
From: Kerry Weaver, Chief of Emergency Medicine
Date: 1/17/2001
Re: Admits


Effective immediately, you are responsible for completing in full Form 217 "Order to Admit" prior to any patient being accepted on the floor. Failure to adhere to this policy will result in punitive measures.


Colorado
January, 2001


Sun streamed in obliquely, waking Dani very slowly over the course of minutes. She moved ever so slightly under the flannel comforter, enjoying the sensuous feel of the soft fabric and the sun against her skin. She exhaled audibly with pleasure. There was no one to hear. Some jays who seemed to stay all winter made a pretty sort of racket at the feeder. Dani smiled as she emerged back into the world slowly.

Stretching out of bed she went to pee and then made her way to the kitchen to punch the coffee maker on. If she didn't set it up the night before the pleasure of that first cup of French roasted caffeine was somewhat diminished by all that effort before one was fully awake. While it dripped, Dani hopped down the front steps to pick up the Denver Times. She lingered to appreciate the frosty air and piles of clean snow lining the driveway, her pajamed arms grabbing tightly across her chest. "God, the whiteness is beautiful," she thought. Her breath frosted out as she breathed.

After some hunting, Dani found her wire rimmed glasses in the living room where she had left them the night before and sat down to read the paper while cradling the mug of rich, dark coffee. This was her favorite time of day - early - and her favorite time of year - between books. Her third was "on the press" and she had months stretched out ahead of her to enjoy this new lifestyle that felt like some kind of gift.

After the liquid breakfast, Dani headed downstairs to the gym to work out. This was the space of her fantasies. Yes, the entire house and even the surrounding 87 acres was an unbelievable happiness in her life, one she feared no one really deserved, but the basement was her special excess. Her literary success paid for it but she still occasionally worked on the guilt. A full Nautilus, shower room and lap pool was a little cache of heaven. She pulled on a pair of sweats in the changing cubicle and, moving from station to station, gave the Nautilus a workout. She loved the hardness of her body. Dani had a rule: add on 5 more repetitions after the hurt got so bad you wanted to stop. Always 5 more. After 30 minutes lifting, toning, sweating, Dani flopped on the mat satisfied and stretched different muscle groups before changing into her Speedo . With swimming, she had a choice; she could either focus on counting the laps or think through plot and dialogue for a book she might be working on. Today, it was so relaxing to merely count, no book to worry about. She did 100 laps before arm pressing out of the pool and going back into a cubicle to change.

One cup of java remained in the carafe as Dani passed back through the kitchen upstairs. She grabbed it and settled into a deep living room armchair to savor her aching muscles. Later she would snowshoe out to the bird feeders to try to attract a few more winter birds with the new sunflower mix. For now she languidly allowed a wave of pleasure to sweep through her hard, conditioned body thinking "I can't believe how lucky I am". Some birds were already calling outside the window, maybe asking for feed.

E-MAIL

To: Dani Touvier
From: Mark Severence, Harper's Publishing
Date: 1/17/2001
Re: Publicity Junket


Hi, will catch up with you in Boston just before the signing. Why not meet me at Starbucks just opposite Borders on Tremont one hour ahead?

E-MAIL

To: Mark Severence
From: Dani Touvier
Date: 1/17/2001
Re: Publicity Junket


See you there, D.


Boston
February, 2001


Dani exhaled gustily, mighty happy that the first of five book signings was over and done with. Deadly boring, her cheek muscles were aching from the full one hour smile. She hated the obligatory signings. Of course it was a requirement of the publisher. She was leaving Boston following the release of her third novel, the one she had found the toughest to write and the one she (personally) liked the best: "Listen To Me !". She was already at Logan, at the gate waiting for her flight just 45 minutes after catching a cab outside of Borders following the signing. It was some kind of record for getting through the Ted Williams Tunnel.

She was early for the flight, killing time, immersed in the book she was reading; "Migratory and other Habits of Santa Anna Hummingbirds". She loved the hummers that came to her Colorado feeder in Spring. Their story was actually incredible; migrating as far as Paraguay, never stopping to eat along the route. Out of the corner of her eye Dani noticed someone coming through gate security who seemed to be being given a hard time; she walked with a metal crutch but the guard was taking the thing apart to look inside leaving the woman standing awkwardly. Dani looked at this woman more closely, she was 40-ish and knock-out, gorgeous. She turned back to the book on hummingbirds but only briefly.

Kerry was finally released from the security checkpoint and came to sit one chair away from Dani.

"Remember what it was like before all this security?" Dani abruptly asked the stunning woman.

"Hey, I remember when passengers clapped for the pilot when the plane landed." The redhead responded.

"And remember when the cleaning crew worked on the plane for hours between flights?" Dani countered. They both laughed.

"It's become really unbearable, hasn't it, airline travel?" asked Kerry.

"Umm. My name is Dani." She stretched out a handshake. She received a strong one in return. She liked that.

"I'm Kerry"

"Hi. Are you flying on business?"

"Yes. I've just been at a medical conference."

"You're a doctor?" Dani hoped she wasn't going to turn off this amazing looking woman with too much chatter but she felt so drawn to the beautiful face, the beautiful body.

"Yes. In Chicago"

"I'm just connecting through Chicago. What kind of doc?" asked Dani.

"Chief of Emergency Medicine at Chicago County"

"Wow. High stress."

"Umm." Kerry smiled noncommittally.

When they called the flight, Dani walked down the jet way with Kerry. Unbelievably, they were in the same row but across the aisle from one another. Kerry stored the crutch in the overhead compartment and swung down gracefully to her seat. A couple of times, while other passengers were teeming up the aisle, Dani thought Kerry might have been checking her out, at least that's how it looked out of the corner of her eye. Good. They were finally able to speak after all the passengers had boarded, interrupted only by the occasional flight attendant blocking their sight line in the aisle.

"So where are you connecting through to?" asked Kerry.

"To Denver. I live just outside"

"You had business in Boston?"

"Oh, just a signing. For a book. Those things are really silly. Perhaps it's not nice to admit it" she answered sheepishly. "If the public knew….."

They shared a laugh.

"You're a writer then?"

"Yeah. Novels"

"That's really impressive." Kerry was even more beautiful when she smiled.

"Should you really say that before reading something I've written?" Dani chortled. "What do you usually read? What do you like?"

"Well," Kerry searched for the answer. "I don't have all that much time for pleasure reading. There are so many medical journals I have to keep up with." Her eyes flitted away from Dani briefly. Making her decision, Kerry gestured in the air with her hand. "But if I do read something light, say on vacation, I read the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries." Quickly Kerry looked backed towards Dani who grinned immediately.

"No. You're not a cat person, really?" Her grin was becoming a joy filled chuckle. She did not wait for Kerry's answer. "Personally, I think Rita Mae Brown wrote one good book and one good book only; the first"

Kerry smiled that beautiful toothy smile and let out a breath she had apparently been holding. They both laughed.

"What're the odds?" Dani asked.

"Well…. One in ten, I suppose. Or so they say. That would make, say, 20 of us on this plane." Kerry answered while Kerry continued laughing.

They chatted for the rest of the flight. As the flight attendants combed the aisle for last minute cups to collect and the pilot announced the beginning of the descent, Dani leaned into the aisle as far as she could to speak to Kerry.

"Listen…. I'm not at all normally like this. Really. Circumstance here" she gestured at the plane itself " has forced me into acting out of character." She was embarrassed, hesitating slightly. "Look…. I just wondered if…. Would you be able to tell me if you are in a relationship? I mean.. right now ….with someone? … or…"

Kerry smiled to reassure her. "No, I'm not in any relationship at all now."

It was Dani's turn to let out a small breath. Quickly she dove a hand into her wallet and pulled out a business card with her name, e-mail, FAX, and phone numbers. "Please…" she handed it across the aisle. "Do you have one? I'd love to see you again ." Kerry produced hers and smiled like some kind of angel as she traded it across to Dani.

When the plane achieved the terminal, they stood in the unison of passengers grabbing their gear from the overheads. They again made their way through the jet link together.

"I have an hour before my next flight. The gate seems to be nearby" Dani offered. Can I walk with you to Baggage Claim?"

"Of course." Kerry moved gracefully and quickly through the sparse crowd but avoided the moving sidewalks. Dani was glad of the extra time to talk.

" Listen, I'll e-mail you my travel schedule. This new book…" Dani glanced down, then back up at Kerry " I have a few signings across the country. When I can, I'll connect through O'Hare. What do you think? Would you see me again?"

Kerry seemed to think that was fine. She smiled and answered laughingly, "Why, sure. That would be great. Of course. Send me your dates."

"You don't really read the "Sneaky Pie Brown" books, do you?"

"No." Kerry chortled. "I had to think of something fast." And smiling while looking at her obliquely Kerry added " I didn't want to let you get away."

Dani wished she could linger to watch Kerry's thin, beautiful body as she walked the rest of the way to baggage claim but her flight would be boarding soon.

"Bye. I'll e-mail for starters."

"Great. Bye now."


E-MAIL

To: Kerry
From: Dani
Date: 2/22/2001
Re: Visit


The signing in Chicago is on ! I am so excited about seeing you again. If you can get off in time, I'll be at Barnes and Nobles on 34th from 5:00 to 6:00 on Thursday. I'd love to see you lurking in the background. I could then analyze what books you are really attracted to. I still don't know. If you can't get off till later, I'll be back to the Hilton by 7:00. Ring me.


E-MAIL

To: Dani
From: Kerry
Date: 2/22/2001
Re: Visit



I'll definitely try to make the signing. Look for me in Science and Technology.


Chicago
March, 2001


Dani had been signing and smiling for just a few minutes when she spotted Kerry. This made her laugh because she really was in the Science and Technology section. Between signatures she would look up and from time to time their gaze would meet across the room. Dani felt a sort of hot urge boiling inside as she stole those quick glances. Luckily, the hour passed quickly and the store employee assigned to her stuck around for a while to be sure the line stopped forming. As soon as she was able, Dani bounded over to Kerry's side.

"Find anything?"

"Well, here's something I really need to learn more about." And Kerry coyly held up a copy of "Listen to Me !" But I figured you might be willing to sign it over dinner."

Dani beamed. "Let's go"

"I parked in the lot just across the way."

Dani quickly noted the shop door was hinged on the right, pulling it inward to let Kerry pass through first.

They sidled into Kerry's Toyota and pulled into the evening traffic. "What do you like?" Kerry asked. "Chinese, Mexican, French….?"

"Do you know a nice Chinese place?"

"Absolutely."

"Had most of those people actually already read your book?"

"Seems like 50-50 at these events. Some clearly have, others are just collectors trying to amass vast quantities of valuable autographs." She laughed. Clearly she was just kidding.

"Soooo, the publisher puts this sort of thing right in your contract?" Kerry inquired.

"Yup. After a second or third book, anyway, when they are fairly sure there will actually be a demand for that sort of thing."

They pulled into the restaurant lot.

"I'm starved." They both said almost in complete unison, and then laughed.

Kerry had brought the copy of Dani's book in with her and after the meal, as they finished up the green tea, Dani inscribed " To Kerry, who dropped as manna from heaven. May you stay on my plate forever, Dani."

"Well, I won't display it on my bookshelf at work anyway."

"Oh." Dani jumped slightly. "Sorry. Is that too 'out'?"

"No. I'm just kidding. It's OK."

"Soooo, you're not out at work then?"

"Um, not really. You'd be surprised by how conservative the medical world is."

"Yeah, I'd imagine there's still quite the 'good old boys network', right?"

"Absolutely."

"And what have you had to do to survive in that world?"

"Basically just work my ass off. Maybe double for every guys single effort."

"Ummm." Dani nervously looked at the tablecloth, then swirled the last tea leaves in her cup. "Again…. I feel so pushed by circumstance… our time constraints are forcing me to do things , honestly, it's not me..but oh, anyway, I hope you learn that over time, but well, I was wondering if maybe, would you , I mean, I hope you would come back to the hotel with me tonight? Could you? I'd love if you could, are you on duty early tomorrow morning?

Kerry just looked at Dani for such a long minute. Her large, brown, wonderful eyes stared into Dani's and Dani vibrated even more in the need for Kerry to come to bed with her. "Sure" she finally whispered. "I'm not on till eight tomorrow morning. I'd like to stay with you."

Dani nearly bounded out of her seat and in a vestigial show of chivalry extended a hand towards Kerry as if to say " come with me". Of course, they walked side-by-side to the door instead. This one was left-hinged and Kerry took it at fill speed.

Inside the hotel room, Dani offered to brush her teeth at the extra sink while Kerry took the first turn in the bathroom to wash up. When Dani emerged after her turn, Kerry was seated, still dressed on the edge of one of the beds. "God," Dani thought as she looked at the other woman "with her make-up scrubbed off she's gorgeous too." Dani sat down quickly next to her and rubbed Kerry's cheek gently with the back of her hand. Kerry closed her eyes with a soft, slow moan and Dani ran her fingers through Kerry's soft, straight, perfect hair. "Mind if I turn off the lights?"

"Ummm" was Kerry's only answer. Dani hopped up to turn off the wall switch. They clasped hands briefly and then began the slow undressing while their lips undertook a patient discovery of each other. They shifted deeper onto the bed. For a while they lay on their sides, each running their hands over the other's curves and skin, learning the new, soft, wonderful landscape. Dani's breath was like a purring of pleasure.

It was almost two o'clock when they finally clutched at each other in a high of exhaustion and fell into interlocked sleep..

Kerry, accustomed to years of early mornings on-call at the hospital, was up and in the shower as Dani began to awaken. Dani was thrilled to listen to the sounds of Kerry washing-up, toweling off. Dani smiled to herself. When Kerry emerged with wet hair in the hotel issue bathrobe, Dani reached an arm out from the bed to draw her in close. Kerry leaned her crutch in the corner against the wall and crawled in next to Dani.

"I didn't want to wake you with the hair dryer" She apologetically tugged some wet strands.

"You're fantastic wet or dry" And they both laughed.

At breakfast, Kerry spoke quietly, leaning forward over the table after the waitress had left. She started shyly "I don't know about you…I have to tell you that no one I've ever been with has ever been so easy for me to be with physically. I don't just mean last night," she smiled appearing embarrassed, "that was great too but it's more than that. Moving around in the environment, walking together, whatever. It just seems so easy, it's not always, you know…. Sometimes people are just..awkward I mean… you just seem to 'get' it. I just wondered, do you think about it or is it just natural…. just you?" She vaguely waved a hand over the tablecloth.

Dani smiled. "Naw, I don't think about that stuff. I just think you're gorgeous." A non-sequetor of sorts.


E-MAIL

To: Kerry
From: Dani
Date: 3/15/2001
Re: Chicago


I miss you. The day in the Windy City was transcendent. You are gorgeous. Today as I roto-tilled the vegetable garden (way too early but I just can't wait) I thought of you and smiled out loud to myself like a loon.


E-MAIL

To: Dani
From: Weaver
Date: 3/15/2001
Re: Chicago


What is the sound of a smile?

E-MAIL

To: Kerry
From: Dani
Date: 3/15/2001
Re: Chicago


LOL

INSTANT MESSAGING

To: Kerry
From: Dani
Date: 3/17/2001
Re: New York


Here's the thing: your favorite actress (the OTHER redhead - Julie Harris) is in a play in New York. I'm there for a book "thing" (more about that later) on June 12th. I'll order tickets if you can get away.


New York City
June, 2001


Their flights got into LaGuardia within an hour of one another. They met at Baggage Claim.

"Airports. We have to stop meeting like this." Quipped Dani.

"The good thing about airports is it entitles two people to hug, no matter what." And Kerry hugged her.

After checking into the hotel they washed up before heading out to the book discussion at the Deaf Club of N.Y. Dani sneaked looks at Kerry as she dressed for the evening. She wore a black satin pants outfit that showed off her wonderful body to the max. Dani never wore make-up and marveled at Kerry's elaborate preparations in that department. Dani looked lean and hard in her jeans outfit. Fuck Harper's. She had to be comfortable. This deaf community was going to crucify her anyway. "Listen to Me !" had all the controversial elements the Deaf Community would pounce on. Dani was ready but she knew that Kerry had never seen anything like what was to come.

"Ever been attacked by a hundred Deaf people?" Dani muttered as they entered the club.

Kerry glanced at her blankly.

"Just watch" Dani advised. As they were greeted by the sponsoring host who was coordinating the book club.

Kerry sat in the back. The host introduced Dani laying bare some credentials that Kerry was surprised to learn including a semester as visiting professor at Gallaudet. A miked reverse interpreter sat facing Dani but it wasn't until Dani stood up front facing the room of eighty or so people that Kerry realized she would not use voice for the Q&A session.

The first person came forward and signed her question facing the group as the reverse interpreter translated.

"I read the book. Good story. Why do you think you can speak for Deaf people?"

The woman returned to her seat and Dani responded. Kerry was seeing an entirely new person, vibrant with expression and graceful with her quick, fluent signing. This was nothing like the restrained Dani of oral communication.

The reverse interpreter voiced English but Dani's sign was:

"Not speaking for Deaf. All good writers must write experience, true experience. Not story. This my experience. Things I know include Deaf. If Deaf can write only of Deaf and Hearing only of Hearing boring world, that's bad writing and no hope for understanding between two groups, never."

The next question was from a man who bounded up front, signed his question with vehemence and sat quickly back down. The interpreter translated into English but he signed:

"Don't know from book your own opinion for yourself of cochlear implants and Deaf separatism. You discuss them but write both sides. Which do you choose?'

The room vibrated now with people's interest. As a physician, Kerry was marginally aware of these powder keg issues especially cochlear implants. She watched now as Dani resonated her own enthusiasm for these subjects. Kerry continued to be amazed at her partner's transformation as she signed an emotional and dramatic language.

"Cochlear implants. Sure, I believe. Which is better, medical procedure giving people options, choices or than no choice? Choices better. Deaf person chooses cochlear implant, that person can still choose Deaf culture. Fine choice. Me, for myself I want all the options I can get in life for all various choices. Same thing. One more choice for some Deaf. Question two: separatism. No, I don't like idea of separatism. All progress battles groups all over world and during all prior time won by big groups, many people. Small group not same effective, not strong. Large group different, strong. All people with all , various physical differences together become better voice for obtaining rights, benefits, acceptance in hearing world, in world of people with 'normal' physical self. Hearing don't understand idea that Deaf is not disability anyway so, happens that hurts your cause. Wanted show both ideas in book."

The questions continued for 45 minutes, some friendly, some not. Kerry self-consciously joined in the wave sign for clap as the host thanked Dani for her time. Kerry made her way slowly towards Dani. It was difficult for her to walk through a tightly packed crowd like this one and several folks were still milling around Dani, signing. But as Kerry came near, Dani's face broke into a smile and she began to use voice along with her hands.

She tried to wrap up with the stragglers. "Thank you. Good to know you liked it." "No. I don't think the next book will concentrate on any deaf characters, could happen in future book, one, maybe two incidental characters happen to be Deaf."

She inched successfully towards the exit. Outside Kerry was able to see how drained she had become. Dani practically shivered as they walked

"It's 4 blocks back to the restaurant. Is that OK?" Dani looked at Kerry.

"Of course, silly. Are you OK?"

"That was brutal. I knew it would be."

Kerry glanced down at the sidewalk off and on checking for uneven cracks. "Hon, I loved watching you sign. It's unbelievable what a different person you become when you sign. You are so….vivacious."

"Different person?"

"You are so expressive. So dramatic, unrestrained. Like you are two different people."

Dani smiled, "It's a left brain-right brain thing. But to really express yourself in sign you have to do that. You have to add so much more emotion than spoken English finds proper."

Kerry chuckled.

The French restaurant was small and chic. It was just the kind of intimate setting they both wanted just then. Dani squeezed back into the banquette along the wall and Kerry sat opposite her at the tiny table. Dani ordered a Pommard despite the extravagance and Kerry marveled, explained that she had never tasted such a rich, mellow red. So many times they wanted to touch hands across the table top and almost did so.

They made their way back to the Marriott briskly, the way one walks in N.Y. if one wants not to appear vulnerable.

In the room they eagerly hugged each other. "This has been the longest 3 months." Kerry gasped.

"I know" Dani echoed.

Undressing less slowly than previously they combined physically in ways that left them both breathless and astonished. Kerry loved the strength that seemed to transfer from one body to another. Dani could not believe her incredible new luck in finding this gorgeous, exciting, intelligent woman.

The next evening they had an early supper and walked the few blocks to the theatre. They had seats right on the aisle in the orchestra. When Kerry saw this she gave Dani a quick sort of quizzical look. Dani smiled the tiniest of smiles and Kerry just shook her head happily as they sat. Kerry stretched her legs out into the aisle comfortably. Julie Harris was, as always, a dazzle. This woman was surely 75 but still had something about 12 year old Frankie from "Member of the Wedding" in her.

E-MAIL

To: Dr. Jing Wei Chen
From: Dani Touvier
Date: 6/19/2001
Re: Acupressure PPS Technique



Please advise on satiation effect over time for long term Chan Quo acupressure in treatment of post polio syndrome.

E-MAIL

To: Dani Touvier
From: Dr. Jing Wei Chen
Date: 6/20/2001
Re: Acupressure PPS Technique


Refer to results in www.accujournal.com\562000\pps



E-MAIL

To: Kerry
From: Dani
Date: 7/19/2001
Re: Visit


I will not make up the guest room. : - ) You're staying with me, kid. Can hardly wait for you to visit. I've ordered good weather. I think you'll love it here. You will recharge your batteries and the staff won't recognize you when you return.


E-MAIL

To: Dani
From: Kerry
Date: 7/19/2001
Re: Visit


I too am looking forward to seeing you again. Don't fuss. I just want to be with you.


Colorado
September 19, 2001


"You made it to Denver, finally."

Dani met her at the airport. Kerry was radiant as she came through the jet-link towards her. They enjoyed the allowable airport hug in public, lingering as long as they could in that embrace. Then they drove to Dani's home about an hour out of the city.

"And down here," Dani flourished the basement door open "is my hedonistic present to myself.

Dani showed her the Nautilus, showers, cubicles for changing and the pool; a sixty foot long lap pool.

Kerry was nonplussed, and just looked at Dani.

"We can swim together every day if you like."

"Yes. I really would like that." Kerry assented, already imagining that feeling she loved of being so light and just gliding effortlessly through the water..


September 24, 2001


Kerry took the hammock and Dani sat in one of the Adirondack chairs facing the back meadow.

"What were you like as a child?" Dani asked

Kerry must have heard but didn't answer for a long while.

"Which child?' She wasn't looking directly at Dani.

Dani waited.

"I really had two childhoods. The one before polio and the one after." She took a sip of wine. Dani sighed imperceptibly, relieved that Kerry was finally talking openly about her disability, finally confirming her diagnosis.

" I was nine when it happened. Originally, I was a tomboy. Had lots of friends. Played outside constantly. I think I was very outgoing. I've tried to forget that child." Kerry seemed to be studying the porch rafters. "I was sick for two months and after that point, I was a different child. Of course, kids didn't want me on teams. I was excused from gym in school. I became a bookworm. A studier. I excelled in school." She made "excel" sound like a dirty word. "Kids are mean, you know. Deathly mean. So I worked on my shell. I developed my shell." She finished in a small whisper.

Dani leaned forward but did not touch the other woman. "I would have been your friend."

Kerry exhaled sharply.

Dani pursued. "What were your parents like? How did they handle it?"

Kerry was thoughtful. "They actually were good about it. Sensible. They just treated me like the other kids. No special treatment. "

Now Dani actually reached out and took Kerry's hand. "You do know I love you?"

Kerry was looking down at her lap.

Dani waited until Kerry looked at her again and tried to read her eyes. Finally understanding she said:

"Kerry, whether Post Polio Syndrome is already a certainty for you or you are still part of the 40% crap-shoot, I'm with you. It doesn't matter. We'll just take each day together, OK?"

Kerry looked momentarily surprised. She had never mentioned her diagnosis to Dani before breaking eye contact again. It was a whisper. "I'm not sure you really know what it would be like for you."

Dani tilted Kerry's chin upwards, forcing the eye contact. After several seconds she replied:

"Kerry, can I show you what I know?"

Kerry just held her gaze until Dani reached over further and kissed her slowly and deeply.

"Kerry, there is so much I can give you. So much two people can do that one cannot. There is so much that you do for me." She paused. " Let me show you, please. I've been thinking….. I'd like to get a place near you in Chicago." She paused to watch Kerry carefully. She saw the other woman tense, especially around the shoulders, so she waited.

"I… you don't know what I'm really like." She began, shuffling her hands in her lap. "Work is very important to me. People have said I'm driven, too focused on my job. The hospital is stressful. I'm not always gracious under pressure. I work odd hours…."

"Nor I" Dani chuckled, trying to lighten the tone.

"I have crazy hours. I don't always know when I'll get off a shift…."

Dani knelt quickly by Kerry's side. "I said 'my own place'. I know that your space is important to you. I just need, for me, to be closer to you, more often, more regularly. All of this jet-setting is fun but, Kerry, that's not me."

Now Kerry chuckled slightly but still was unable to make firm eye contact. "It's not the real me either but I've loved it."

"Kerry, I'm a real bitch when I'm working on a book. I'm unapproachable, I drink too much, I stay up round the clock, then I wallow in self-pity for days rewriting the same sentence over and over. You'd have a lot to put up with in me as well" attempted Dani.

Kerry continued slowly shaking her head but it was more as if she were trying to convince herself of the difficulties involved rather than a 'no'. Dani thought about that for a moment.

"Listen," she whispered now, shifting the weight on her knees, "are you frightened because you think that somehow the Kerry Weaver I see and love today may not always be the same Kerry Weaver?"

The other woman nodded slightly.

"You will always be the same Kerry inside that I love today. That's the Kerry I want to spend my life with. Please, say we can try."

Kerry looked into Dani's face whispering in turn "I'll try. I'd like to try."

Dani reached up and rubbed Kerry's cheek.

"Good."

"And, Dani?"

"Hmmm?"

"I'm still in the 40% crap shoot."

Dani smiled. "Good."



September 26, 2001

For their last night Dani wanted to make a special dinner so preparations began early. Kerry wanted to swim one last time so Dani cooked alone. She couldn't remember a happier time. Eventually she heard the shower running downstairs and then Kerry joined her, fluffing out her hair as if that would help it dry.

"Smells great"
++++++

After such a rich dinner and a need to clear some of the wine musk out of her brain, Dani asked "How about a walk outside? Down the drive?"

"Sure." Kerry agreed, her own head a tad foggy.

As they started down the drive Dani took Kerry's free hand. They walked in silence mostly.

"Wouldn't it be nice to be able to walk like this" Dani held their twined hands up "out in the world?"

"Ummm."

At the base of the drive they turned around. Now it was uphill and they stopped frequently. Dani was pointing out several planets and constellations, gushing with excitement about the clear night, the Milky Way. Kerry loved to see her so animated.

"Nature excites you so much." She noted out loud.

Even in the dark, Kerry could see Dani's huge grin. They had made it back to the step in front of the house and as if by agreement, turned and sat.

"You know that's something I can't really share, the outdoors, the raw elements of nature. Not fully…..not viscerally. Mother nature and I are too at odds. " Kerry looked down at the ground.

Dani just stared at her, narrowing her eyes a little. " Hmm. I do understand that. But." She hesitated for several seconds. "There's nothing we've done this week that you felt… I mean… I didn't push you into anything out-doorsy you couldn't enjoy, did I?"

"No, no. I'm sorry." Kerry felt herself redden, something she did rarely but it wouldn't show out here. "Of course I know you 'get it'. In fact, you really are the most intuitive person I've ever been with. You seem to understand….everything. I've had a perfect week…. In the country"

"Chemistry." Appeased now, Dani's face relaxed.

"You mean in addition to the pheromones?" They both laughed and the awkward moment was gone.

Kerry stared at her. Then dipped her head. " How can you give all this up for me?"

"These are just things, Kerry."

"Not the outdoors, mother nature. You thrive on that. I've seen you glow in the joy of standing out in the middle of a field, or picking weeds out of the garden."

"Kerry, if this environment is not physically friendly to you, not accessible, it's not for us, OK? I'm sure there are day trips, even outside of Chicago, that can take us to the great outdoors on a weekend or something." She smiled.

"God, I love you." Said Kerry.


E-MAIL

To: Kerry
From: Dani
Date: 2/2/2002
Re: Move


Found a caretaker for the house. Draining the pool tomorrow. Am feeling excitement at the prospect of the move. Mostly, excited to be near you daily. Did you pick a neighborhood you want me to look in? Remember, wherever you will find it easy to crash after work, that's where I want to be, OK?



Chicago
March, 2002


She stayed at Kerry's house while she looked for a place. Her favorite thing was to watch Kerry in the kitchen. Dani sat at the counter, half looking at condo ads, as Kerry chopped, diced and whipped; she actually loved to cook. Occasionally brushing back her bangs with the back of a hand, Kerry concentrated deeply on her cooking. Like it was surgery or something. Hands freed up, she would lean her pelvis against the counter to avoid the chore of her balance. Wonderful desserts were a specialty of hers; cakes pies, trifles. Everything from scratch. Dani would joke that she'd have to move out soon or move up a pant size.

"How do you stay in such good shape eating like this?" Dani asked.

"First of all," Kerry did not even look up from the dough she was rolling out "you don't really think I eat like this when I'm alone, do you?" She smiled then and glanced up briefly at Dani. "But the real secret is I work out"

"Oh, you didn't tell me that when you came to visit. You go to a club?"

"No, no. I have a mat and free weights in the basement. It's nothing like your set-up, trust me. I do try to be faithful about it though. Upper body strength, keeping my weight down to something easy to haul around."

Dani let the paper drop. "Hey, stop. That's crap!"

Kerry blushed, sorry she had revealed herself.


+++++++++++++++

Kerry arrived with groceries on Dani's first night in the condo after the furniture had arrived. The place looked great with all the rooms set up just as they had discussed. When Kerry entered the bathroom to layout her toothbrush and extra make-up box, she noted the grab bars. Something they had never discussed. She smiled to herself. But, hey, that was Dani for you.

Kerry stayed over even though she had an early shift the following morning. As was her habit, she woke early and was showered by the time Dani awoke. It was not the shower sounds that awakened her but Kerry's voice when she came back into the room to dress. "Shit!"

"What's up?" Dani raised up on one elbow.

"Damn. Sorry, Nothing. I didn't mean to wake you." Kerry shot out in staccato syllables. But Dani could see what bothered her.

"Your leg… a bad day?"

"Um." Kerry pulled a blouse and vest out of the closet in haste now, slapping them down on the bed. "I actually have a presentation to make to the board."

Dani though about this. "You mean standing in front of the board." It was a statement.

Kerry was sitting on the edge of the bed pulling on socks and shoes.

"Give me 20 minutes" said Dani, kneeling quickly by Kerry's side on the floor.

"But I'm running late." Kerry looked panicked. "What are you doing?"

"This will only take 20 minutes. Trust me." Dani didn't wait for real agreement. " I am starting with some acupressure. It's very deep and will hurt. Tell me if the pain is too much and I'll lighten up. You may have some bruising afterwards." Dani closed her eyes in concentration. Kerry stopped her attempt at dressing.

Dani removed Kerry's left shoe. Then what she did was to begin to connect the nerve bundles from the neck down through the sole of Kerry's foot by applying deep pressure along the nerve axis. First a juncture at the neck held tightly in her right hand while her left held a foot pulse. Then she worked her right hand down through the arm and pelvis and thigh and calf, each pressure point hurting Kerry, not to the point of forcing her to groan audibly, but almost. Kerry watched Dani's face, eyes closed, deep in concentration. Kerry noticed how she occasionally tilted her head to the side as if listening to Kerry's body. She had never really seen anything like it. Dani followed the chain of pressure with shallow but soothing massage to the thigh and calf muscles and finally a wave of healing energy transfer from her palms down Kerry's side. The energy transfer drained Dani somewhat and she finally sank to a seated position onto the rug. Kerry felt no different, just watched as Dani slowly collected herself. Then Dani asked her to stand and walk across the room again.

Kerry walked without picking up her crutch as she often did for short distances indoors. She still limped but only as she would on one of her best days and totally without pain. Kerry's eyes widened. Her mouth opened to try to explain the feeling but it was too hard right off to put into words something so new, well… so old. It actually reminded her of something very old. A feeling from childhood - her "first" childhood. All that was mixed with a sudden confusion about modern, western medicine. There was so much she now wanted to ask Dani. She walked to doorway, turned around and stared at Dani.

Dani actually spared her having to articulate such a whirlwind of thought as she too now stood and flopped to sit on the edge of the bed. "go ahead, get outa here," she grinned.

"My god." Kerry sought words. "Can we talk about what you just did tonight?"

Dani nodded and smiled.

E-MAIL

To: Dani
From: Kerry
Date: 9/9/2004
Re: Tonight


Sorry, can't make it over. Emergency meeting of staff at 9:00 and then I will stay to monitor new protocols. Will crash here.


E-MAIL

To: Kerry
From: Dani
Date: 9/9/2004
Re: Tonight


Oh, well. I'm going out for a walk. Nice night out. Talk tomorrow.


E-MAIL

To: Dani
From: Kerry
Date: 9/14/2004
Re: Last Night


Sorry didn't feel like talking. Too much stress here. Just too tired right now. This weekend should be better.

E-MAIL

To: Kerry
From: Dani
Date: 9/14/2004
Re: This Weekend


Great. If you can make it for dinner Friday night I'll make your favorite PLUS Gewürztraminer. Meanwhile, I'm off to the library for some research. Mark thinks I'm falling behind on the book.

E-MAIL

To: Dani
From: Kerry
Date: 9/16/2004
Re: Tonight


Can't make tonight. Short on coverage. Trying to figure it out now.

E-MAIL

To: Kerry
From: Dani
Date: 9/16/2004
Re: Tonight


OK, I'll drop off the dinner at your place while I'm out for a jog. It'll be in the freezer. Ciao.


Colorado
May, 2020


The smells were back after a long winter's absence. That was the first thing she noticed on her morning walk. As she followed the mountain path, slowly but without pause, the deep scent of rich soil filed her. She smiled and half shuttered her eyes with the deep pleasure of the Spring scents return. Winter was fine, had it's beauty but there were no smells outdoors at all as far as Dani was concerned and she had missed them.


E-MAIL

To: Kerry
From: Dani
Date: 5/6/2020
Re: Spring


Had a wonderful day outdoors. Hiked up the old mountain a short way with a thermos of coffee. The air felt so good. Did some way too early gardening after my swim. I love Spring. What about you?


Chicago
May, 2020


It was hard to get used to jolting awake so early in the dark morning without the need to haul out of bed to work. The occasional board meeting was stimulating enough but never convened before 9:00. Kerry typically looked at the clock at 5:00 or 6:00 and rolled over as she thought of Dani. Of course, she knew, at that hour Dani was still sleeping.

Winter and all that rain was behind them now. Kerry knew she should take up a regimen of exercise, no excuses. She would do that after reading the latest copy of JAMA to arrive.


E-MAIL

To: Dani
From: Kerry
Date: 5/6/2020
Re: Spring


The weather has improved here too. Read most of the day and then went out for some groceries. Nothing exciting. When are you coming for a visit?




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