Perspectives Series (6)

Seeing Is Believing

by Minerva


Disclaimer One: These ladies and gents are my creation. They are a combination of people I have met throughout the years. They can not be used without my permission, and to do so would just be plain rude.

Disclaimer Two: There is only the mention of violence, a little use of foul language (don't think of me as a potty mouth), some tension, some laughs and yeah, some subtext.

This installment of Perspectives takes place directly after the events of See No Evil. Didn't you all want to know what happened the morning after? (g)

Dedications: (To my Partner) Glad you're feeling better baby. Don't know what I would do without you. (To an Outstanding Bard) Leans in close--- Pssst! Hey Kodi? Did I spell everything right? LOL!

This installment is a little light. There are some emotional scenes, but it doesn't have the dark patches that the other installments did. I hope you enjoy.



Chapter XV: It's Not What You Think. . . Really


Barb stared at the retreating back of her friend. If her jaw scraped the floor anymore, her lip would get carpet burn. 'Did Cory just say what I think she said? And did she mean? Naw! It couldn't be.' The older woman shook her head and proceeded further into the living room. She smirked as sleepy green eyes looked up at her from the couch.

"Morning JR."

"Ugh, uh-huh. What are you doing over here this early?" He asked groggily as he pushed his rumpled form in a sitting position.

The woman threw herself in a nearby chair. "This is one of our workout days."

He peered bleary-eyed at the watch on his wrist. "It's barely eight o'clock. Now, that's sick." He pulled the covers back and straightened the t-shirt and shorts that had ridden up during the night.

He got a chuckle in return.

Getting up, the young man headed straight for the kitchen. "You want juice or anything?"

"No, it's okay. You go ahead. I'll just wait on Cory."

He shrugged and retreated.

Now alone, Barb scrunched her brow in confusion. Taylor was going to go work out with them? 'Whoa, I wonder what happened between them yesterday? Ugh, should I ask? Maybe I'll just wait until I see them together at the gym, just to see how they act..'

************

Crossing her arms over her chest, Cory leaned against the doorway watching the sleeping form. She had slept in this woman's arms last night, and for the first time, she had felt comfortable and content. The irony of it was that it was with a woman she was sure she hated a few weeks ago. 'Now, I don't know how I feel. Grateful to be passed it and where we are now I suppose. Who knew that an intelligent, funny, compassionate person was under that unapproachable veneer?' Closing the door, she quietly walked further into the room. Getting a closer look, she peered into the face that could be devoid of emotion one minute and alive with expression the next. Right now, she just looked peaceful and young as if there wasn't a care in the world. 'Isn't that how she made me feel last night? Like everything was going to be okay? I believed her, and I still do. How did she do that?' Something tightened in the blonde's chest and knotted in her stomach as the lanky form sighed and cuddled the abandoned pillow to her body. 'Dammit! What is that...that feeling I keep getting? It's down right distracting.'

Cory shook herself from the self-imposed reverie. Knowing that they needed to get going, she leaned over the dark haired woman and reached out to touch her. A small hand covered the expanse of the sleeping woman's bicep, and the blonde felt scorched by the smooth heat that radiated from the supple skin. It made her want to crawl right back into bed, back into that warmth. She fought the urge, just barely, with a shake of her head and gently squeezed the flesh beneath her fingers.

"Taylor, wake up."

"Mmmrph?" An indiscernible sound exited the dark woman's lips as she tried to burrow further under the covers.

'Oooh, somebody's not a morning person I see.' "Taylor, we need to get going." Cory shook the silent form.

The still sleeping woman turned on her back, scrunched up her face in disgust, but refused to open her eyes.

'Oookay, this is a bit much.' She quietly observed the mussed woman. Dark hair streaked broad shoulders and covered an expanse of her face with thin strands caught in moist, slightly parted lips. Feeling caught staring, the blonde looked around the room then rolled her eyes at her own antics. She felt a smirk form as a little imp took purchase on her shoulder. She knew she should have brushed it off, but it was a really big imp. Leaning as close to the reclining form as possible, the blonde said sweetly, "Baby?"

Dark eyebrows hiked, disappearing into bangs. "Hmm?"

Interesting.

"The shower's ready. Don't you want to join me?"

"Mmmhmm?" Full lips turned up into a smile.

Very interesting.

"You'd better get up then, while it's nice and hot." The petite woman's smirk got bigger with each word.

Ebony brows bunched in confusion and pale eyes slowly opened. Right away Taylor felt out of place but comfortable. The events of the night before came back in a flash, making her eyes open wider. 'I stayed and held Cory all night. I slept with her and now she's grinning down at me like she knows some secret.' The admin blinked and her head exploded in a scream. 'I SLEPT IN CORY'S BED LAST NIGHT WITH HER IN IT! OH SHIT!' She bolted up into a sitting position almost smashing heads with the surprised blonde. Taylor ran an aberrant hand through her hair, rubbing the imaginary knot caused by the huge book of ethics she envisioned hitting her. Mental eyes rolled. 'Calm down. Not a damn thing happened.' Pale blue eyes glanced around the room, deliberately avoiding the form at the side of the bed. 'Still, what's going on with me? I knew better than to do this.'

'She needed you,' Little Shelley quipped.

'That doesn't simplify things. It only serves to complicate them.'

Only if you want it too. Be a friend to her. It could help you both.'

'What's that supposed to mean?"

The voice was suspiciously quiet.

Cory held her hand over her heart as it continued to jump in surprise at the woman's sudden moves. 'She won't look at me. Uh-oh, I think we crossed some line last night, and she doesn't know how to deal with it. Or, she's just regretting babysitting me.' A lance of pain made her clutch harder at her chest. 'I didn't mean to be so needy.' The caseworker sighed under her breath. 'Okay, this can be played two ways. I can pretend that yesterday and last night never happened, putting us back in square one, or it can be approached bluntly and forced out into the air like the unavoidable pink elephant. Well, I've never been one to cut corners. . .'

Unreadable blue finally glanced up into moss green. Taylor stared at her employee unblinkingly and decided to let her take the lead. The blonde bit her lip, but a smirk formed anyway. She knew exactly how to play this. Coming around the bed, she sat down, causing the other woman to scoot over. Green eyes sparkled with mirth when a familiar dark brow rose in question. Cory bat blonde lashes coquetishly. "So, am I to think that you don't respect me this morning?"

The other brow raised over shocked blue. Silent seconds ticked by before the air was pierced with a bark of rich laughter. The blonde's smirk turned into a full fledged smile as she watched the admin's face go through a gamut of expressions.

The forming tension was broken.

Taylor sobered slowly. The woman really was priceless. She always seemed to know the right thing to say to completely change to tone of a situation. 'She obviously has no regrets. So, why should I? I was just being there for a friend, right?' Little Shelley clapped in the background. Pale eyes took in the slightly rumpled form of the woman in front of her. Short blonde hair stuck up in the oddest places and usually alert eyes still seemed bleary. Taylor let loose a smirk of her own. It really was a sin for someone to look so cute in the morning. She pushed the distracting thought to the back of her mind and asked huskily, "I guess you're feeling better this morning?"

Cory's breath caught as a tiny shiver traveled the length of her spine at the sound of the other woman's voice. 'Oh no, that did not happen!' She screamed at herself. Green eyes rounded as the tall form sat up further and spoke again. "Cory?"

The shiver was bigger, longer this time. 'Oh God, no! This is nothing. Nothing. Do you hear me? It's just emotional left overs from last night. Yeah, that sounds good.' Knowing the astute woman would be able to tell if something was wrong, Cory smiled and hoped it wasn't too bright. "Yeah, thanks so much for putting up with me. I really didn't want to be alone with those kids on my mind. Damn, I still can't believe that happened."

Blue eyes studied the figure in front of her. "I know, but you look a little more rested than you did at the office, despite what happened. I hope you don't mind me asking, but have you picked out someone to talk to?

"No, it's okay. As my boss and a friend, I don't mind you knowing. Her name is Dr. Zawid. I got the word of mouth from a couple of people over at CPS that she is really good. Hopefully, when I call tomorrow, I'll be able to get in to see her this week."

"Um, if you need somebody to go with you, I'll be more than willing."

Green studied blue to see if it was a token offer, but the other woman looked back at her serious and sincere. "Thanks so much, but I think I'll be okay."

"You sure?"

Cory nodded as a large, elegant hand snaked from under the blanket and made its way to her nearby knee. The blonde swallowed and tried to ignore the flash of heat that crawled up her flesh. Taylor sucked in a breath discreetly, expecting to hear a crackle in the air because her hand was sizzling. 'Whoa, what the hell? Ah, it's got to be emotions seeping over from last night. Things were pretty high.' They both studied the supposedly comforting hand then eyes met and gazes locked. A whip of fire flashed between them, making it almost impossible to maintain eye contact. Clearing her throat, Taylor was the first to look away. Cory's gaze fell once more on the hand that refused to move away.

'Oh---'

'Shit.'

Ungracefully, the blonde jumped up from her seat on the bed, dislodging the fire stick from her skin. "Um," her voice sounded shaky, even to her own ears. "I'm gonna go shower." She pointed toward the living room, and blonde brows wrinkled in confusion. 'Who is that waiting for us out there? Oh God, she mentally snapped her fingers.' "Barb is waiting , uh, if you want to go to the gym with us." Not bothering to look back, she grabbed some clothes out of the appropriate drawer and headed toward the bathroom.

The two inhabitants in the living room glanced at each other in confusion and suspicion at the sound of unfamiliar laughter and closing doors. JR shrugged his shoulders and plopped more cereal into his open mouth. Barb squinted and looked back toward the bedroom. It was taking Cory too long. Something was definitely up. 'I can hardly wait to see what it is.'

Taylor blinked and looked at the vacated space on the bed. "Uhm, okay." She cringed again envisioning that book of ethics swinging toward her head, especially since another employee was going to be privy to this delicate situation in a matter of minutes. She then looked at her hand, expecting to see little burn marks. Little Shelley whispered softly, 'Go on, you can admit it.'

'I think that I'm attracted to her.' She recalled the frission of awareness that hissed between them. 'No, I know I'm attracted to her.' Blue eyes closed and a pink tongue speared out of its home to lick suddenly dry lips. From day one, the petite blonde brought with her a bombardment of emotions. It ranged from irritation, dislike, and respect to this, the unexplainable. The one thing that inevitably stood out during it all was the simple fact, which she grudgingly admitted to herself, that she had felt more alive in the past few weeks than ever before. The admin's eyes reopened. Still, things were no clearer.

She had admitted simple truths, but didn't feel free, knowing that there was only one road to travel, the straight and narrow. Ethical concerns made sure of that. Taylor laughed silently. 'Jumping the gun a little? It's not like she's been pining away for you all this time. The woman seems as straight as a month of Sundays.' She threw the covers off her short clad legs and swung them over the side. 'I don't need these kind of complications anyway. Attraction, I can deal with. It's not like we see each other every day. Still, maybe I should end it right here; cut my losses; and move things back to a safer zone.'

The dark haired woman cringed remembering the name calling and animosity. 'No, that's not even an option. Then where do we go from here?' Her face was one of resolve. 'Friendship. Yeah, there's nothing wrong with that. She's loyal, a good listener, great to be with, and not intimidated by me in the least. It makes being in this city a little more bearable. That wins her points right there.' The tall woman got up and walked the expanse of the room, refusing to admit the sting of emptiness at the thought of things regressing to the way they were before.

Cory stood rock still as the water beaded and slid down her body. 'You're borrowing trouble girlie, so don't even go there.' She pushed her hands through short wet locks, slicking her hair back and dispensing with the excess water. 'Maybe I'm just feeling a little too grateful, and I'm responding to that emotionally. God knows that she's done more than most people that I call friends would do. Barb has a husband, so it's not like she can come running when I need a shoulder. Taylor stayed with me. I still can't believe she did that after all I said to her. What kind of woman would do that? I need someone like her in my life, and I don't want to ruin it with misplaced feelings and attractions. I don't want to take advantage of what she's done for me. I won't let myself, despite the vibes I'm getting.' With her mind set, she stopped the shower and prepared herself to face whatever was in the next room.

Minutes later, the petite form re-entered the bedroom rubbing her wet hair with a towel. With the curtain open, the room was now illuminated in light, and Taylor stood in front of it, observing the day as it began. Cory tried to hide the gasp as the towel fell from her fingers. The rays of the sun loved her, making to taller woman glow. The caseworker couldn't decide if the other woman was reflecting it or if the sun was just wedding with another source of heat and light. The blonde blinked and looked on fully aware of the increased cadence of her heartbeat.

That's when it hit her. Something had changed between them last night the bond of friendship had been cemented, but it was interwoven with respect, awareness, and so much more. Warmth pooled in her belly then spread to her entire being, knowing she was venturing into something that she never had before. Fear should have been the first emotion, but there was only eagerness. The person in question began to turn around. Cory quickly retrieved her towel in time to meet the other woman's eyes, and saw quiet affection shining in them instead of reluctance and apprehension.

Pale blue smiled into twinkling green. "Hey."

Cory smiled back before she answered, "Hey yourself."

Taylor grinned crookedly as she sat back down on the edge of the bed. "You look better. At least you got rid of that distracting cow lick."

Cory sighed inwardly. 'Good. Things are okay.' The blonde made her way across the room to the mirror, but she paused on the way to give the taller woman a mock slap on the shoulder as she passed by. "Be nice or I won't let you use the extra toothbrush. No one likes to talk to a person with bad morning breath."

"Is that a polite way of telling me that I stink?" With a raised eyebrow, she looked at the smaller woman standing in the mirror.

"Well actually, I wasn't aiming for polite, but hey, if it makes you feel better," the other woman answered with a cocky grin.

"Oooh, your quick wit astounds me," the admin chuckled. 'I can't believe that I was even thinking about ending this. I could talk to her forever. I bet she could even give Wendy a run for her money.' She couldn't seem to stop the smile that stuck on her face as joy bubbled to the surface.

Taylor looked back up at the petite blonde as she turned from the mirror. In quick succession, the caseworker blew on the comb, twirled it and pretended to put it back in an imaginary holster. "What can I say? When I'm hot, I'm hot." She threw the comb back on a nearby dresser. "So, are you going with us? I'm sure Barb won't mind driving by your place and waiting on you."

"Well, I'd hate to ask her to go through all that trouble. Hey, why don't you swing by my place with me, and I can give you the grand tour? Then, we could meet her at the Community Center. I just want to get a light work out in before it gets too late. They are supposed to deliver my equipment sometime this morning, and I want to be able to lift too today. I could use some help assembling it if you're game?"

'Um, did I just ask her to come to my place?' 'Uh-huh, that's what I heard,' Little Shelley added.

Cory looked down at her friend and blinked. "Do I get lunch and dinner if it takes longer? I don't work for free you know."

"Sure. I'll even cook."The blonde stared back at the other woman incredulously. "You cook too? Will wonders never cease. Oh, she of many skills."

Taylor smirked. "You don't know the half of it. Now, lead me to that toothbrush so we can get going."

The caseworker was still stuck on the last statement. 'Hmm, I bet I don't, not even a fraction. Did she say something? Yeah, toothbrush.' "Oh, it's the one still in the package in the medicine cabinet. There's towels too if you want to wash your face."

"Kay, thanks."

The woman disappeared into the bedroom. She didn't bother closing the door, giving the blonde a good view of the goings on. She watched silently as thoughts whisked through her head. It really was a thing of beauty, the camaraderie that they shared. It developed over such a short period of time. Sure, the blonde had to admit that there was awkwardness at first, but it disappeared quickly. She also had to admit that she had never felt so comfortable around a person she had professed to hate not too long ago. Still, they talked and joked like old friends.

'She treats me like that too, being quick to listen and lend a shoulder.' The petite woman reached for her sneakers as another thought flowered. She had never been a touchy feely person, never a cuddler, but the playful, affectionate touches came so easily with Taylor. The other woman didn't seem to mind that or the fact that she was used as a pillow the night before. Interesting.

Taylor hummed quietly as she brushed her teeth. 'I've enjoyed myself the past couple of days. She's fun to be with, and I'll be damned if she doesn't keep me on my toes.' The brunette rinsed the toothbrush and looked around for a brush to tame the wild mane on top of her head. "Hey Cory?"

The blonde tugged on a shoestring and looked up. "Yeah, what's up?"

"Do you have a brush that I can use? It looks like squirrels have been playing in my hair." Taylor heard the other woman chuckle.

"Yeah, hold on."
*******

Barb tapped her foot impatiently and rolled her eyes as JR continued to giggle at some cartoons. 'That has got to run in the family,' she said to herself, knowing her friend's affinity for Scooby-Doo. She looked at her watch and tapped it. 'This can't be right. She's been in there over an hour. Maybe she fell asleep or maybe somebody really is in there!' The older woman shook her head. 'No, I know she's not involved, and she wouldn't pick up anybody off the street. Would she? Maybe I'll just go knock and see what's going on.' She got up to do just that when she heard a door open and laughter.

Taylor gave the smaller woman a playful shove.

"Hey, no pushing the short woman around. It's not my fault you dribbled toothpaste on your shirt."

"Yeah, but you could have told me before I put my hand in it and spread it."

Their laughter broke off when the almost forgotten inhabitants of the living room stared at them as though they came out naked and growing extra heads.

Barb's jaw dropped and this time, she could feel it. Her bottom lip would have carpet burn for sure. At that moment, she couldn't figure out for the life of her what face she was making. All the muscles in her face had gone slack.

JR looked from his sister to the woman he had met yesterday and snorted loudly. "Hey Bunch? I thought you said you didn't want her?" He glared at his sister indignantly.

Cory scowled at her brother, making sure her eyes had turned to daggers. For once, she wished that she lived in Ally McBeal's world. Her brother would be dead from sharp projectiles shooting out of her eyes, and she could make the floor open up and swallow her whole. She didn't dare turn around, already feeling the tension coming from her back. 'Oh great, one step forward and two steps back. What the hell were they thinking anyway?' Her eyes widened. 'Oh God, they think that we. . . aargh!' She peered at them both through squinted eyes, seeing Barb's slack jawed expression. 'Oh yeah, that's what they're thinking.' She mentally collected herself. First things first, she would take care of the stiff as a board woman behind her later. Pursing her lips, she aimed at her brother first. With saccharin sweetness dripping in her voice, she fired.

"Why thank you Wipe. I have never been in the closet before. Thank you for showing me what it feels like to come out." She continued to glower. At east he had the audacity to look ashamed. It was her boss for goodness sake. The blonde reloaded and looked at Barb.

"And don't you look at me like that. You know me better. Besides, I told you that she was here." She couldn't keep the slight anger from her voice. "If you both must know, she was nice enough to stay with me last night after I found out about the Smith children. I don't know what I would've done without her. How dare you think..." Her previously fisted hand came up to cover her mouth. She knew it was probably irrational, but the tears came anyway. Finishing her sentence, the caseworker sobbed, "I would never do anything like that! Do you think I'm some kind of tramp?!"

Two pairs of eyes looked on startled by the outburst, and one pair of blue bored into her back as she ran into the solitude of the kitchen.

Feeling the shock wear off, Taylor frowned at the other people in the room. If she was a lesser person, a prejudice person, or a straight person, Cory would probably be out of a job, but she was none of those things. 'So, she's not as straight as I thought.' The tall woman ignored the relieved thump of her heart to concentrate on the situation at hand. Cory had just been outed in front of her boss and friend. She could only imagine how the caseworker was feeling.

"You know, I don't know her near as well as you two proclaim, and I got the feeling that she wouldn't do what you assumed she did."

JR looked down at the remote control in his hand. "I didn't know. I wasn't thinking. God, she's not gonna be in trouble at work is she?"

"No, her sex life is none of my business." 'Yeah, right.'

"I'm so sorry. Me and my big ass mouth." He shook his head then let it hang.

All the while, the wheels turned in Barb's head. Assuming that they slept together wasn't farfetched, considering the chemistry and tension that came off them in waves, but she could understand why her friend would be hurt, especially with her emotions all over the place like they had been lately. She sighed loudly. "I guess we really put our feet in it. She did tell me that you were here, but I thought I heard her wrong. It was a mistake, and given the evidence, we're only human."

Taylor looked from one to the other. "I understand that, but I don't think she's thinking about that right now."

"We should go talk to her," JR added. Taylor held up a hand as they headed toward the kitchen.

"No, let me go in first. I think she's mostly worried about how I'm reacting to this."

Cory pulled open the cabinet door and stared blankly at the contents inside. Everything had been ruined by one phrase. 'I could be out of a job that I love and a friendship could be over before it really started.' An empty feeling invaded her stomach at the last thought. In a short time, she had learned to care probably more than she should. The blonde laughed without humor. 'Hell, I know I'm feeling more than I should, and now. . . ugh! That jackass!' She slapped her hand palm down with vehemence on the counter. 'She's probably disgusted or scared or a combination of the two.'

Green eyes looked up startled as the tall form of her boss entered the kitchen. Cory opened her mouth to speak but was stopped when the other woman held up her hand.

"Listen Cory. Let me go first. Does what I just found out back there make you a different person? Have you been showing me who you really are?"

The blonde glared in shock and anger. "I've never been fake, and I won't start now."

"Good, I just needed to know that." You're the faker! Tell her! She ignored the outraged voice. "Then as far as I'm concerned, nothing changes between us. I want you to be yourself around me. Your job is safe. You are in a very PC and liberal field after all." 'Coward. Why don't you tell her? It's going to come back and haunt you," Little Shelley whispered. She gritted her teeth to silence the voice. "So, we honestly don't have anything to worry about, but those two in there are really worried. They're only human Cory. Go talk to them."

The petite blonde smiled, feeling a weight lifting from her shoulders. 'Well, that was almost too easy.' Still, she believed the other woman's acceptance. There was no indication that she shouldn't. With the bond that had formed between them, came trust, and she didn't want to do anything to strain it.

"Um, I think you're right. I think I overreacted a little, but I just didn't know what was going to happen."

Blue eyes twinkled back at her laden with sincerity. "I figured that. Go on, go talk to them. We have a tour, a bench, and lunch to get to."

Cory's smile widened as she brushed by the other woman. Reaching out a hand, the blonde squeezed the brunette's arm as she made her way out. Taylor watched her leave but didn't immediately follow. Reaching up, she closed the cabinet door. 'You really are a coward. Why didn't you tell her?' Silently, she answered her own question. Because, it would add fuel to the fire, giving the attraction that she could feel, fuel to grow. She had a feeling it would indeed grow with the possibility of feelings being returned. Maybe if she kept her own sexuality a secret, it could function, as a mental block needed to keep the fire doused. Maybe.

Cory looked at the two sheepish forms. "Guy's listen..." she paused feeling the taller woman's presence behind her. "Listen, I may have overreacted just a little, but you two should know me better than that, and Wipe, you divulged some information that could have messed up a lot of things. If Taylor wasn't who she was, this could have turned out badly."

JR got up from his perch on the couch to saunter over to his sister. His eyes were dark with hurt. "I'm so sorry sis. I just have diarrhea at the mouth sometimes. It's just that I saw you with her yesterday, and I just put two and two together and came up with five despite me knowing how you are." He looked at her from under long blonde lashes. "Forgive me? I'll do whatever you want to make it up to you."

Cory's mind rattled with possibilities. She could never stay mad at him for long because he was too damned cute. That didn't mean that she couldn't make him suffer. She smiled cryptically. "Oh, you'll pay for this. You'll just have to give me some time to figure out how."

He blinked, looked at her and blinked again.

She had to resist the urge to cackle, especially when she saw his Adam's apple bobbing up and down. Turning to Barb, Cory raised a blonde brow. The woman threw up her hands. "Hey, I don't know if you know this face or not, but it's my 'I'll eat shit if you want me to' face. I'm sorry, Kid. Even though I didn't say much, I guess the look on my face was enough."

"I'll be okay. I was scared more than anything about what the outcome would be, but you wear that face awhile. I like it on you."

The tall, lanky form leaning against the wall had to swallow a chuckle. 'She really does know how to stick it to them. I sure as hell don't want to be on her bad side anymore.' The apologies went on for a few long minutes before Cory and Taylor finally climbed into the Accord.


Chapter XVI: Teaching and Learning. . .


The two made small talk on the way to Taylor's apartment. The blonde caseworker pursed her lips in surprise when she figured out that they were heading to the "good" side of town. 'I guess those with the power really do get paid all the big bucks.' Right away the younger woman knew that she was entering a swanky establishment. They had to pass through a security booth first, where the guard checked Taylor's license plate. The grounds were impeccably groomed. It looked as though each tree was the same height, each blade of grass mowed to a certain length. It sort of reminded her of that movie The Stepford Wives, where everything was based on some 'utopian' ideal. Sick, sick movie. Though she seemed to be a controlled person, Cory got the feeling that this was not the admin's kind of place.

"Um, no offense, but this place looks like something from a coloring book. It's way too perfect."

Taylor turned to the other woman as she parked the car. "Tell me about it. It reminds me of some sort of military establishment. It's definitely not the kind of place where I can go streaking after midnight. The board of directors found this place, and I guess they thought it would be to my liking. Heh, were they ever wrong. I'm scared to throw a piece of paper on the ground. Have you ever seen that futuristic cartoon where the robot sweepers come out when even a spec of dust is on the floor?" She waited for the nod. "I got a feeling that this place has those but a whole lot bigger and meaner. Scary."

Cory giggled then smirked triumphantly. "I figured that this place wasn't you."

They walked side by side heading up a small flight of stairs. "Know me that well already do you?" Taylor couldn't help but smile, knowing she had let the petite woman in on things that weren't privy to most.

The blonde found something interesting in a perfectly symmetrical bush in order to hide the impending blush. "Uh, you could say that I sometimes have a feel about people. Not always, but I'm usually right." 'Except for what I was thinking about you at first.'

She waited as the taller woman unlocked the front door only to follow her to another door that led further into the complex. The blonde rolled her eyes at the puke green carpeting. 'Well, at least some things don't deviate.' The place and the neighborhood was vastly different than the run down bomb-zone like neighborhoods that she frequented, but the carpeting, she almost chuckled, was frighteningly the same. To top it all off, they got on the elevator that required yet another damn key. The brunette pushed a button and Cory jumped when the elevator mechanically replied, "Sixth floor. Thank you." She looked over at the other woman in the process of rolling her eyes and answered the elevator sweetly, "Why thank you Geeves."

Taylor snorted ungracefully.

They finally made it to the apartment, and Cory followed her boss in eagerly. The admin threw her keys on a table close by as the blonde glanced around. The living room alone was huge. It had to be to house the rather large entertainment center that contained what looked like an over thirty inch television, stereo and DVD. "Oh my." She took in the rest of the area. The couch wrapped around, making it look like it seated a small army. The rest of the furniture consisted of comfy looking chairs, a bookcase, and expensive looking tables all following a motif of black and gold. Paintings of artists that she didn't recognized graced a couple of the walls, and in a far off corner toward the back a fragile looking dining room set found its home. The caseworker finally sat down on the couch and almost moaned at the feel of it. Taylor took it all in with mirth shining in her eyes. "I take it you like? Do you think it's me?"

The blonde gave the other woman the once over then nodded. "Oh yeah, definitely." 'Dark, sleek and powerful.'

The tall woman smiled crookedly. "Mmm, glad you thank so. Um well, I'm going to go hop in the shower, so feel free to roam around. I'll give you the official tour when I get out."

Cory waited until the woman disappeared behind the door before she jumped up and headed to the bookcase. 'Can tell a lot about a person by what she reads.' She started as far up as she could see. 'Hmm, let's see. Sociology, Psychology, Social Work.' She bit her bottom lip as she went on. 'Ah, here we go. There's Toni Morrison, Mary Higgins Clark, Cornwell, and Sandra Brown. Interesting. Well, she certainly has a wide range of reading material.' The blonde followed the bookcase down. 'And, she obviously loves a good mystery.' Having seen her fill, she turned to glance at the intimidating looking entertainment center. 'Now, I'll probably blow something like that up if I got my hands on it.' She veered away from it and headed for a door she assumed led to the kitchen.

Taylor vigorously scrubbed her body, feeling the need to hurry. Eagerness to be in the same room with the petite blonde made her giddy. She rinsed and turned the shower off.

'My God, I would want to cook in here too.' The black tiled floors shined to a sparkle, as did the counter tops of the same color. A food processor and an array of other appliances sat on the counter, pushed back against the wall. She continued to look around. 'Damn, I didn't know that you could get a kitchen this clean.'

The refrigerator was one of those huge ones with an ice and water dispenser. The blonde felt the bite of curiosity and reached to pull on the handle.

"Something told me that you couldn't sit still." Amusement dripped from the brunette's voice.

"Yeow!" The caseworker jumped at least two feet in the air as her heart stopped. "Dammit all to hell!" She turned to look at her smirking friend. There was no way that she could hide the blush, and the enjoyment sparkling in blue eyes didn't help any. "Heh, I was, um, I was just. . .oh bloody hell, you know what I was doing."

"Sorry, didn't mean to scare you. Well, much." The dark haired woman grinned toothily.

"Har, har." She pretended to scowl, but a smirk formed instead in the face of such a brilliant smile.

"Well, come on I'll give you a quick tour so we can get out of here. I'll start with the back rooms since you've seen everything else."

Cory followed behind her obediently. They came to the first door. "Now, there's nothing much in here. It's my office, and there's only a computer, desk and stuff scattered all over. You'll have to look over the mess. That big empty, clean spot over there is where the bench is going to go." The blonde caseworker poked her head in, seeing papers covering the desk. 'Well, she's flawed like the rest of us humans.'

They walked on. Taylor took in a deep breath. It had been a long time since a woman had seen it, let alone been in her bedroom. It was sort of a strange feeling.

Cory's eyes widened. The king-sized bed was covered in what looked like black satin with a multitude of pillows both large and small adorning the head of the bed. An antique chest and dresser made their home against the wall, and little nightstands polished to a high shine stood on both sides of the bed. She could picture the woman's lanky form lounging, stretched out on the bed like a large cat. She blinked to dispel the image.

Taylor watched the expressive face, wondering what the woman was thinking. "Um, the bathroom's in there, and one of the things I love about this place is the walk in closet. There's an extra bathroom next door that I hardly ever use, and---" She was interrupted by the sound of the buzzer. Getting a quizzical look, she clarified the sound, "Oh, that's the intercom. Security has to clear it with the tenants to let anybody in, but I'm not expecting anyone. I'll be right back."

Cory took one last glance at the room and followed. She came in on the end of the conversation.

"Yeah, Mark, go ahead and send him up." She looked up as she heard the approaching form. "It's the equipment. They're early."

"Oh well, that's okay. I'll just cancel with Barb if you don't mind me working out here? All it'll take is a quick phone call. I'm sure she has her cell with her."

"You sure? I don't want to monopolize your day." 'Say yes.'

"It's okay. Monopolize away, just let me use your phone."

"Sure go ahead." 'Yes!'

A few minutes later, Taylor was looking down at bits and pieces of metal and rubber. She glanced upward when the blonde returned and raised an eyebrow at the wary look on the woman's face.

"You know. I've never noticed how nosy Barb was until today. I felt like I was going through a round of twenty questions."

"Really," she replied tentatively. 'The woman is astute enough to see right through me sometimes. I wouldn't be surprised if she saw something today.' "I wouldn't worry about it." She waved the other woman over. "C'mere and look at this." She smiled at the shocked look on the woman's face. "They don't bring them to you already assembled!?"

"Fraid not. I think we should eat first then tackle this. What do you say?"

"Sounds good. Do I get to see what's in the fridge?" She asked excitedly.

Taylor chuckled. "You can look till you heart's content, and you can put on some music or something, if you want."

Cory glanced back at the ominous looking entertainment center. "I don't know. I'm not mechanical, and I don't want to break anything."

"Oh, don't worry about it. It's easy. Just pick out a CD from the stand, and push this button here and here and put it in there," she pointed to a particular section of the stereo. "Don't worry about breaking anything. I'll just take it out of your check," she deadpanned. The brunette turned away, but her playfulness was revealed by an almost indiscernible chuckle. She laughed out loud when the irate caseworker smacked her on the back of the shoulder.

Taylor propped the door open as she entered the kitchen, while Cory kneeled in front of the CD rack. 'We have Anita Baker. No, not feeling bluesy. It looks like here's all the stuff that The Pretenders ever made. No, not in the mood. Tori Amos, Luther Vandross, Janis Joplin's Greatest hits. Eh, maybe later' "Oh, yeah," she said out loud.

Taylor got out mushrooms, onions and peppers from the crisper. She sat them on the cutting board and went to poke her head out the door, curious to see what the other woman was up to. "What?"

Cory waved the CD. "Blondie's Greatest Hits. I love them, and I hear Debbie Harry was something back in the day." She almost failed in hiding the lecherous smirk.

Taylor raised a dark brow. 'Oh yeah, she was something alright.' "Well, put it on and get in here."

"Okay, okay, I'm coming." She followed the other woman's instructions with the stereo then made her way to the kitchen. She watched the knife fly as the brunette chopped vegetables. "Look in there and tell me what else you want in your omelet."

Cory stood in front of the refrigerator refusing to move a muscle. "Cory?"

"I'm waiting for my drum roll,' she said in an even voice.

Taylor felt the laughter bubble up and push its way out as her eyes rolled heaveanward. "Oh good God. Lady, you're something else."

The blonde turned, sticking out her tongue. "I know, and that's why you like me."

'Amongst other things,' the admin thought to herself.

The caseworker opened the fridge amidst dramatic ooh's and ah's that caused blue eyes to roll again. She hummed along with the music. "My god! This thing is full. Give me a second to find something." She pushed through containers of yogurt and cans of V-8, finding ham and cheese that she sat on the counter with a triumphant slam. Closing the refrigerator, she leaned her body against the counter. "You know. Your taste in music is as diversified as your taste in books."

Taylor gave the woman a small smile over her shoulder. "I know. It was a college thing that stuck. It was the kind of music they played at parties. I wasn't really into music until then, so I guess you could say I was sort of a wallflower until college. Being around all those people sort of brought me out, so to speak." She started on the onion. "As far as the mystery novels go, I used to work as a clerk overnight at a convenience store. They held my attention and kept me up. Some of the authors were pretty good."

"Mmm, I used to be glued to those sappy romance novels until I found out that I was reading the same book over and over again. They all have the same formula and never deviate from it. I like Sandra Brown though her stuff is kind of mystery/romance, and she doesn't have wimpy women as characters."

"Ugh, I've never been able to get into those. They insulted my intelligence. Who ever heard of a thirty year old virgin?" They both chuckled.

Taylor broke egg after egg into a mid-size bowl. She stirred and began to hum along with The Tide is High. Cory watched the forearms, exposed by the t-shirt, bunch and work with each turn of the spoon. She was yanked from her musings when the older woman asked her to get the skillet from underneath the counter. After doing so, green eyes scanned the kitchen once more, and she thought about the expensive looking furniture in the other rooms. "Uh, I don't mean to be blunt," she paused for a second, "well, sometimes I do, but do you get paid that much to afford all of this stuff?"

"Um, well actually," she turned back toward the other woman. "Can you hand me the butter? It's on the side door. Well, I, uh, inherited a lot of the furniture from my parents after they died. They left me a lot of money too, but I was old enough to see that I didn't need the strings that came with it. So, I kept what I needed to go to college and maintain a nest egg. The rest went to charity."

"Oh, I'm sorry about your parents." Green eyes darkened with sympathy.

Taylor smiled in thanks. "It's okay. It was a long time ago." The dark head hung and ebony tresses hid her face.

Cory took a step forward and pushed the strands away to reveal a haunted look in the blue eyes. "No, it's not okay. I think I hit a nerve. Do you want to talk about it?"

Taylor turned away hiding her face again. "Uh, it's kind of hard. I haven't...haven't talked about it in a long time." She paused for a few minutes, making the other woman think that she had pushed too far, but she was surprise when the deep, husky voice began to wind its way around the story.

"I was eighteen, and. . ."

Long minutes later, Cory had bunched the woman's t-shirt in her fingers. Distant blue looked down, waiting to see the pity shining in familiar green. Instead, she saw them dark, watery with unshed tears. "Oh God, Taylor. I can't even begin to imagine, and you were all alone. I don't know if I would have made it through. Do you know what that says about you?"

There was a small shake of the brunette's head.

"Do you even realize how strong you are? What kind of courage that takes to get through? You're an extraordinary woman, and I don't even think that's the tip of the iceberg."

Baby blue warmed at the words. "Thanks..." Her voice came out as a croak. "Um, thanks. I don't think anyone has ever told me that before. It sort of means a lot coming from a friend."

A small hand let go of the wrinkled arm of the t-shirt and moved down to take a larger palm in her hand. She squeezed affectionately. "Good because I think that I'm going to be saying it a lot."

Blue and green gazes held. They stood, studying each other. Electricity arced between them, almost taking the blonde's breath away. She looked deep into luminescent blue and saw what lay there, a wounded soul, a soul that looked more than a little lost at the moment. It wasn't the right time. If there was ever going to be one, this wasn't the right one to acknowledge the pull between them. If it happened, Cory got the feeling that she would know when, but right now, she had figured out what they both needed.

Taylor took in a deep breath. She felt naked. The woman looked at her like she could see right through. A sliver of fear made it up her spine to mingle with the electric tendrils. She almost jerked back when the blonde's other hand caressed the side of her face. Part of her wanted to run and part of her wanted to lean into the touch. Instead, she just did nothing. The sense of loss was profound when the woman's hands fell away, but they was replaced by a flash of heat and a sense of belonging, when small arms wrapped around her body. She bit back the sob and embraced the smaller woman, pulling her in.

One large hand took purchase at the nape of the woman's neck, caressing downy hair. While the other, rubbed the expanse of her back. The younger woman's arms tightened around her friend, but instead of taking air away, Taylor received a little peace. Cory held on for dear life, feeling the taller body sagging into her. They both needed an outlet for overworked feelings. She thanked God that she had picked the right one.

The embrace lasted for a few more minutes before the blonde broke it. She tried to peer into blue that wouldn't meet her face. "Hey, it's okay. Don't close me out."

Azure finally looked upon her friend's face. "I'm sorry. I'm just not used to this."

"Believe it or not, neither am I. I guess we'll both find our way, huh?"

"Maybe."

Taylor ran a shaky hand through her bangs. It was stopped mid-way by a deep growling sound. Blue eyes widened. Cory looked down at her stomach sheepishly. "Uh, I think it wants food."

The admin chuckled despite herself. "It sounds angry."

"No, it's just letting me know that the countdown has begun. Uhm, why don't you go set the table while I finish up in here?"

Taylor looked at her suspiciously. "Can you cook?"

"Am I a Hoosier born and bred? Hell yeah, I can cook! Now, go set the table."

Sitting and eating, the two women were sometimes full of laughter and sometimes somber in their lessons about each other. The talking went on for hours, and the unassembled bench was left sitting in parts in the living room. Time flew and reluctantly, Cory glanced toward the clock. The brunette noticed. "You gotta go, huh?"

"Unfortunately, yeah I do. There's things I need to get to at home to keep at least some of my weekend routine working."

Taylor looked away, trying to hide her disappointment. "Well, okay. Let me get this mess cleaned up."

Cory grabbed the woman's hand as she reached for her plate. "I had a good time, and believe me if I thought I could get away with it, I would stay longer. But, I don't want to be up all night finishing laundry and stuff."

"I understand, but we need to do this again." Blue bore into green.

"Yes, we do." Cory replied softly.

Finally finished with the little things around the apartment, Cory huddled under the covers, staring up at the dark ceiling. This day had been eventful to say the least. She had found out and revealed so much. There was nothing like being outed to keep the day from getting too dry. She smirked. Then her look turned serious. It was certainly a day of discovery. In a few short hours, she had found that a woman, a friend, she thought overflowed with esteem and confidence was just as vulnerable, maybe even more so, than the next woman with her own fears and insecurities.

She was brought back to the outside world with the ringing of the phone and frowned in concern, knowing phone calls this late were usually not good news. She picked it up anyway.

"Hello?"

"Hey, I didn't wake you did I?"

The blonde felt her toes curl at the sound of the familiar voice. "Taylor, no you didn't. I was just laying here. Are you okay?" She said urgently.

The admin pulled the silky covers up to her chin, and smiled, admitting that she loved the sound of concern in the woman's voice. "Yeah, I'm fine, in the bed myself. I actually called to make sure you were okay. Is JR back yet?"

"No, he's not, but it's just a little after ten. He should be in after while because he's leaving early in the morning."

"Um, so you're alone. Are you okay with that?" 'Ask me to come over.'

Cory swallowed remembering the safe feeling of sleeping in the other woman's arms. "Yeah, I'll be okay. Uh, listen. I'm gonna be a little late in the morning because I need to call and make that appointment."

"Don't worry about it. Take all the time you need." She liked this talking on the phone. She had never been one to really do that, but it seemed so free and easy with her.

"Thanks. It means a lot that you called."

"Just wanted to make sure that you were okay." 'Get off the phone before you say something mushy.' "Listen, feel free to call me anytime during the night if you need to."

'She's so damned sweet.' "Don't worry, I will, but you have to promise to do the same."

A throaty chuckle caused the younger woman's toes to curl again. "No problem. I'll let you go so that you can get some sleep."

"Kay, I'll see you tomorrow. Bye."

"Bye yourself." Taylor held the phone until she heard a click. Hanging it up, she pondered her own possible need to see someone like Dr. Zawid. With all the voices in her head, she was sure that she was getting schizophrenic. 'Damn that Little Shelly anyway. I did good today without her interference.' Yawning, the sleepy woman flopped over on her stomach.

Cory stretched, letting loose a sound dangerously close to a purr. Muttering to herself, she fluffed the pillow. 'I hope this Dr. Zawid is good with multiple problem solving because I think I now have more than one. Her eyes flittered closed on a sigh. There was no way tomorrow could top today.


Well folks, I hope you enjoyed my day in the life installment of Perspectives. I wanted to concentrate on them getting to know each other a little. Let me know what you think. Drop me a line at Minerva.

Copyrighted Minerva 2000



original fiction <> homepage