The Road Back Home
by Lynne Norris
© May 2001
Sometime during the night, they managed to cover their naked bodies with the down comforter from Regina's bed. Cuddling together, the two women made love again, slowly, and with a tenderness born of their newfound intimacy.
They awoke, limbs tangled together just before daybreak, with the bed covers in complete disarray around them. Alex stretched and wriggled her feet before she curled herself around the smaller body snuggled up against her side. She sighed contentedly, feeling free from her worries about Regina and their relationship for the first time in weeks.
Regina stirred beside her, lifted her head from beneath the nest of blankets, and blinked. Mm, morning. She smiled sheepishly, feeling bruised and swollen from their long night of lovemaking. Once they crossed that particular bridge, their bodies seemed insatiable.
Alex kissed the tip of Regina's nose and smiled down at her. How do you feel? She playfully ruffled the tousled blonde hair.
Wonderful, Regina murmured and rubbed up against Alex's lean body. Although, I think I may need a day or two to recuperate.
Alex's brow instantly creased with worry. I didn't hurt you? Did I? she asked, aware of the exuberance with which they rediscovered each other.
Absolutely not. Regina assured her as she nuzzled her neck and affectionately nipped at the sensitive skin below her ear. I couldn't get enough of you.
Alex rolled over and pinned the blonde beneath her. We seem to be having the same problem, she growled, kissing her gently on the mouth. Her eyes twinkled and her lips curled into a lopsided grin. I need a shower a very, cold shower, she announced with a rueful shake of her head as she slid out of the bed, trying her best to avoid Regina's wandering hands.
Regina sat up in the bed and watched the sway of Alex's hips as she walked away. Ooh, I'll come with you.
Alex stopped at the door and peered back at her incredulously. That is not going to help either of one of us.
Please? Regina crossed her arms and pushed her lower lip out into a pout. She burst into laughter at the comical expression that came over Alex's face, before the taller woman finally surrendered with a wave of her hand.
Hurry up and finish laughing before I change my mind and use all the hot water myself, Alex quipped and darted into the bathroom ahead of the blonde.
After showering, Regina washed Alex's clothes as promised and then together they made breakfast.
Do you want some company when you go shopping for your mother's gift? Alex asked, in between bites of French toast.
Ooh, that would be great fun, Regina exclaimed, obviously very pleased by the unexpected offer.
Alex couldn't help smiling at the younger woman's barely contained excitement. Hey, come here. She crooked a finger at the blonde.
Just come here, Alex repeated, leaning closer. Her lips captured the corner of Regina's mouth. Mm, you had syrup on your lip, she whispered, as she pulled away.
Oh. Regina touched her mouth and blushed as her body reacted to her lover's touch, remembering the sweet caresses from the night before. I am so in trouble.
Problem? Alex arched an eyebrow and pursed her lips, enjoying the affect she was having on the blonde.
The young doctor brushed her golden blonde hair back behind her ears in an effort to compose herself. Do you have any ideas about what you'd like to do after we visit my parents this weekend?
The taller woman sat back in her chair and considered the possibilities. Well, the Cape is only a couple of hours away if you wanted to go back there. She had a fantasy that she created in her mind of the two of them walking on the beach at Race Point, holding hands. They would chase the waves as they ran out into the ocean and scramble back up the sand as the water raced back in.
Oh what a dumb, stupid idea. Alex's mind reeled as she recalled what a disaster the whole week had been at Provincetown the first time. She managed to embroil Regina in her problems with Dana. The poor kid had gotten horribly sick, and she still couldn't shake the memory of what Derrick had intended to do to Regina if she hadn't gotten there in time to stop him. That was a bad idea. We can do something else. Anything, Reg.
Actually, I think that's a great idea! We could stay at your place.
Alex lifted her head and gaped at her in surprise. Are you sure you want to do that? I mean, you can't have very good memories from the last time you were there.
Regina tilted her head. No especially what happened with Derrick, but she smiled disarmingly. I fell hopelessly in love with you that week.
Bu how what? Alex stumbled pitifully over her words, her voice cracking. That week?
Mmhm. Regina nodded and leaned toward her lover. Do you know what I remember?
I'm afraid to ask, Alex groaned in dismay and lowered her head into her hands, hiding her face.
Stop, Regina chided her gently. I remember you holding me in your arms that night after we kissed on the couch.
Reg, oh God, I made you cry. The doctor folded her arms on the table and dropped her head onto them in embarrassment. Is there a hole I can crawl into?
No, you didn't make me cry. I wanted to make love to you, but when I thought about what we were doing I couldn't, not without knowing the results of the test first. Regina insisted. She grasped the woman's arm and shook it. Alex, you rescued me from Derrick.
I was pissed of and I beat the crap out of him, Regina. Alex shook her head back and forth, her face still buried in her arms.
You took care of me in the hospital when I was sick. No one's done that for me since I was a kid.
The doctor turned her face toward the blonde and blinked. A pink flush highlighted her normally tan skin. We have very different memories from that week.
Regina's expression sobered as she brushed Alex's hair back off her face. I know that if all that didn't happen the way it did, you and I might not be sitting here today having this conversation.
Alex lifted her head and grazed the back of her fingers over Regina's cheek, remembering the phone call that came out of nowhere. I think we found each other at just the right time.
Kind of like fate. Regina turned her face and pressed her lips to the back of Alex's hand.
Yeah, something like that, Alex offered quietly.
Several hours after Alex dropped her off at the hospital, Regina walked hurriedly down the hallway toward the offices that housed the Psychology department at Saint Xavier's Medical Center. She received a cryptic message from Dr. Burke almost as soon as she finished rounds up on the Pediatric floor. There's something you need to see, now, the psychologist told her urgently over the phone.
She walked into the unassuming waiting area and stood in front of the receptionist's desk, waiting for the red-haired woman to finish her phone call. Water stained boxes filled to overflowing, lined the floor behind the desk.
Can I help you? Brown eyes smiled up at her.
I'm here to meet with Dr. Burke, Regina replied, aware of the woman giving her a cursory once over. I'm Dr. Kingston.
Oh, yes. Dr. Burke is waiting for you. She's the third office down on the left.
Thanks, Regina replied and negotiated her way through the maze of boxes. She poked her head in the door and saw the petite doctor sitting behind her gunmetal gray desk, scribbling furiously in a chart.
The platinum blonde head snapped up and the psychologist waved her into the office. Sit, please. Thanks for coming down here so quickly. She stood and crossed the office and shut the door. Sorry the department looks like a bomb hit it. She walked back behind her desk and reseated herself in her chair. We're situated right below part of the Infusion Center and they had a flood last night. Poor Dr. Andrews' office was a disaster this morning.
I think a toilet or something overflowed. Patricia shrugged, giving the woman sitting across from her a rueful smile. At least we're not underneath the Operating Rooms. All that medical waste. The doctor wrinkled her nose in distaste. Anyway, I wanted you to see these. I had a very interesting session with your young man, TJ. He's quite the character.
Regina leaned forward and took the sheets of white, copier paper the woman handed to her. The thick, heavy-handed strokes of blue and black crayon caught her attention first. She frowned and looked back at the psychologist. Sorry, but I'm not sure what I should be seeing here.
No worries. I should explain some things first. TJ is very distrustful of any authority figures. Needless to say, trying to engage him in a conversation was next to impossible. I gather from the little he admitted, that he has been in and out of foster homes since a very early age. Patricia folded her hands and rested her elbows on the desk. Some were good and some were not so good.
Did you find out if he has a legal guardian?
Patricia shook her head. I wish I got that far with him. I found out he likes to draw, so I scrounged up some markers and crayons for him. I made him promise that he would let me look at the drawings when he was done. This is what he created so far. She indicated the drawings Regina held in her hands.
They're all so dark.
Absolutely. The color choices tell us a lot. He doesn't have a lot of self-esteem and his outlook on life in general is one of hopelessness. Patricia walked around the desk and dragged one of the office chairs next to Regina's. I was an art major before I got my doctorate in psychology so I find this all very intriguing. Look at this picture.
One well-manicured, polished nail outlined the shape for Regina. That's someone's knee being driven into another person's back. Do you see that?
Regina peered closer at the blue and black shading used to outline a muscularly defined thigh and bent knee being pressed into another's figure's back. She could make out two arms being held at an awkward angle behind the person lying face down in the drawing. So what does it mean?
Patricia turned the paper over and pointed into the lower left hand corner. Scrawled in black ball-point pen that left an indentation in the thin paper were the words, abuse of power.
Regina felt a chill run up her spine. How old is he again?
I think we estimated his age at fifteen or sixteen since we don't have any birth records. Look at this one. She flipped through several of the sheets until she found the picture she was looking for.
It was a drawing of a misshapen box. A light from somewhere above created a shadow of a small, dark figure sitting huddled in a corner. All around the box was a blossoming puddle of maroon color that was spilling out from the sides of the box.
Sweet Jesus, Regina whispered. What has this kid seen?
Your guess is as good as mine. I think he's repressing some very traumatic events. They maybe recent or further back in his past. Either way, I need some time with him Regina. Our dear friends from Quality Resource Management have already been down to review his chart and want to know about what out discharge plan is for him.
Regina sighed and rubbed her forehead in growing frustration. It figures QRM would already be sniffing around. It's not their fault. They're under the same pressure we all are. Get everybody out faster.
Patricia laid a hand on younger woman's forearm. Regina, we can't afford to let this kid get shuttled off into another foster home without some kind of follow up care set for him. I know you don't want him becoming another statistic that nobody gives a shit about.
How much time do you need?
I wish I knew. I don't think I can make a case that he's a danger to himself or others. If I could, I'd be able commit him involuntarily.
Green eyes regarded at her sharply. Are you sure you'd want to do that to him? That's a pretty drastic step.
Patricia pressed her lips together in a thin line. My gut tells me this kid is a time bomb waiting to go off.
Regina sat back in her chair and stared down at the pictures. He's had another set of blood tests done today. Let me see if I can find something that will give me a reason to hold him longer.
Thanks, I appreciate it Regina.
She wasn't sure what she was going to be able to come up with that would justify holding in the hospital longer. The boy had been recuperating nicely since he was discharged from the Intensive Care Unit.
The young doctor returned to the Pediatric wing to check on Terry and TJ. On her way to their rooms, she stopped at the nurse's station and pulled the boy's chart. She flipped through the pages until she came to the most recent set of lab values she was looking for.
It wasn't the red flag she was hoping to find, not that she wanted the kid to be sick but she needed something to justify keeping a couple more days. His white blood cell count was slightly elevated compared to the day before but everything else was normal. Well, Dr. Timmons might not agree with my decision but I have to do this. I'll pay for the damn test myself if I have to.
She quickly wrote an order for CT scan to the boy's head to rule out a sinus infection. It was a reach, but it wouldn't be the first time an infection lay dormant in the sinuses only to flair up and cause serious problem later. With a sigh, she signed her name and set the chart down by the unit clerk and went off to look for her two charges.
She found Terry sitting cross-legged on her bed playing solitaire. Across from her, head bowed forward over a pile of papers was TJ. Scattered around him on the rumpled blanket were a myriad of crayons and pencils.
Regina hesitated at the doorway, taking the opportunity to study both of them curiously. The two kids seemed to have struck up a friendship borne out of their tough circumstances. She furrowed her brow, wondering if Patricia was right and TJ was a time bomb just waiting to go off. I hope you're wrong Patricia.
Terry looked up first, her eyes darting nervously from the doctor to TJ.
So, this is where you're hanging out today TJ. Regina walked around to the foot of the bed, casually glancing down at the drawing he was working on. You've got quite a talent there, she observed.
He finished scratching his pencil across the paper before he looked up at the blonde-haired doctor. The corner of his mouth twitched almost allowing a smile to form, before he ducked his head and resumed his sketching.
You're hair is growing back fast, Regina commented, aware that Terry had stopped playing cards and was watching her intently.
The boy ignored her and continued to work on his sketch.
Are you drawing that from memory TJ? The young doctor studied the roughly drawn sketch of a city skyline in the distance.
He let out a sigh and put the pencil down. Without a word he slipped off the bed and hastily gathered his papers together.
TJ, don't go, Terry whispered in a hoarse voice.
I'm not answering a anymore stupid questions. Leave me alone! he shouted and angrily shrugged away from Regina as he walked to the door.
TJ, Regina lowered her voice, trying not upset him more.
No! I'm not going back there, he cried and ran down the corridor back to his own room.
You made him mad, a quiet voice spoke from behind her.
Regina turned and watched as Terry picked up all the crayons and pencils and placed them in a washbasin on her bedside table.
The doctor followed her instincts and sat down in the chair next to the girl's bed. Terry, I'm trying to help TJ.
He doesn't need your help, Terry stared down at her hands.
Did he tell you where he doesn't want to go back to? Regina leaned forward and studied the girl's youthful profile, wondering what secrets the two shared with each other.
The ponytail waved back and forth as the girl shook her head and fiddled with the cards lying in front of her.
Terry, if you know anything, please tell me.
He didn't tell me anything, she insisted.
Okay. She didn't know why but she didn't believe the girl was being completely truthful with her. Regina dug into her lab coat pocket and pulled out a piece of paper and a pen. Terry, I'm not going to be around for a few days. If you need to talk to me about anything, you can call this number and they'll page me. She finished writing down the Pediatric Service's number and handed it to the girl.
You're not going to be here? Terry asked anxiously.
No, I'm taking a few days off to spend time with my family. How benign it sounded coming from her lips, but the mere thought made her gut suddenly twist into a knot.
I I'll miss you, came the whispered response.
Regina smiled back at her young friend. I'll miss you too, kiddo.
Alex walked into the Medical Records Department, her eyes surveying the room. The large office was filled with cubicles and a floor to ceiling filing system that moved on floor tracks. She watched as several clerks went through the tedious process of logging in charts. Dozens of piles of medical records, lay in teetering stacks on desks and chairs all in varying stages of being categorized.
Usually it took a day or two to get the charts that were requested, but in her case, she knew the department head and right now she needed to call in a favor. Hi Madeline, she greeted the older woman sitting behind one of the desks.
Hi Dr. Margulies. I haven't seen you down here in awhile, the older woman replied, her fingers still dancing nimbly over the computer keyboard. What can I help you with?
Is Robin here? I need to talk with her. Alex glanced in the direction of the open office door.
She's in her office.
Thanks, Alex tapped the desk with her hand and walked down the carpeted hallway. She spotted the brown-haired willowy shaped woman and smiled disarmingly at her when their eyes met.
I thought I heard my name. Robin leaned against the doorframe of her office, watching the doctor approach. Alex, as I live and breath. I can't believe it's you. How are you?
Alex shrugged and offered a crooked grin in response to her question. Hello, Robin. It's been awhile since I've seen you. How's your father doing? Alex asked, remembering the nasty fall the man took when he fell off his roof two summers ago.
Better, although he'll always have a limp from his leg being broken so badly. What brings you down here?
I need a favor. There's a case I have to give a deposition for and I need these charts. Somehow they seem to have all disappeared. Alex dug in her lab coat pocket, pulled out a piece of paper, and unfolded it.
Robin nodded. I'll see what I can do. We've been getting ready to send out all of the two thousand medical records for microfilming. It's possible they're just sitting in a pile somewhere.
I'll be out of town for a few days, so just have someone leave them in my office. Security can unlock the door for you. Alex handed her the list of patient names.
The woman nodded her head as she read from the list. Somebody must have requested these recently because I know some of these names. She looked up, Alex's words registering. Away on business?
No, not business.
Oh, well, maybe when you're back, you'd like to get together sometime for a drink or something.
Alex regarded the woman from beneath a furrowed eyebrow. The indentation from her wedding band was still evident on the fourth finger of the woman's left hand.
She was surprised when she heard from Sandy that Robin was getting married to one of the surgeon's on staff. That was less than a year and half ago. Back in action and playing the field again, huh Robin?
The woman leaned closer and ran her tongue over her lower lip. I'd make sure you have a good time Alex, she whispered conspiratorially.
The doctor let out a low chuckle and shook her head. Direct and to the point as always Robin.
Well, being subtle never got me anywhere with you, the woman demurred.
Alex drew herself up to her full height. Well, if you really want to go out for a drink, I'll introduce you to Regina.
Shocked eyes blinked back at her. It's true then? Oh, I was hoping it was just a vicious rumor.
Definitely not a rumor. So do you think you can find those charts for me?
Robin pressed her lips together and tilted her head. I'll find them. Now go, so I can mend my bruised ego.
Several hours later, after two meetings and treating several patients Alex sat in her office finishing up some paperwork. A few keystrokes and she submitted last month's statistics for the Emergency Department to the management team and a projection for the next to quarters.
She picked up the phone and dialed the nurse's station in the department. It's Dr. Margulies. I need to speak to Dr. Washington. Is he there?
Let me check.
She got put on hold and found herself listening to some classical music. With a sigh, she leaned back in her chair and waited.
Hi Jon. I have a request into medical records for some charts. They're going to drop them off in my office when they find them. I want you to take a look at them if you have some time while I'm gone the next few days. They're for the deposition on Jameson's case.
She heard an audible groan on the other end of the phone. Not a problem. I'll take care of it.
Thanks. She looked up when she heard a knock on her door. Come in, she called out and smiled when Regina walked in and shut the door behind her.
The younger woman was dressed in a pair of light, sea green linen pants and an off white turtleneck. A simple gold chain hung from her neck. Alex reached her hand out and guided the younger woman around to the corner of the desk.
I'm still here. There shouldn't be anything else you need to worry about. All the monthly reports are done. If you need me, you have my long distance pager.
I do, but I don't plan on using it.
She snorted and shook her head. All right. I'll talk to you when I get back Jon. Thanks.
Done? Regina inquired after Alex hung up the phone. She leaned forward with her hands planted on her thighs.
Blue eyes twinkled and Alex reached over and lifted one of Regina's hands to her lips. She rubbed her face against the soft skin and then proceeded to leave a scorching trail of liquid heat with her lips and tongue on the palm of Regina's hand.
She smiled as she felt the younger woman squirm and moan softly at the suggestive contact of her lips. I though about you all day and yes, I'm all done. Alex stood up, letting her hand cup Regina's face affectionately.
You're a fiend, Regina chuckled as she leaned heavily against the touch.
I can't help myself, Alex teased and squeezed Regina's shoulder. You ready to go find that gift for your mother? She could feel the ripple of tension in the muscles beneath her hand.
Yeah, Regina breathed heavily and stood up.
There was a subtle edge to Regina's voice that was not lost on the taller woman. What's wrong?
Regina folded her arms over her chest and turned away, feeling suddenly very self-conscious. This is stupid.
Alex stood behind her waiting anxiously. What happened between then and now? What is she upset about? What's stupid?
I'm scared about seeing my parents. Regina buried her head in her hand. I'm worried about how they're going to react when we get there.
Alex put her hands on the shorter woman's shoulders and turned her around. Reg, slow down. Listen, you can't control how you're parents are going to react.
I know. I just have no idea what to expect and there's so much emotion tied up in Jeff coming home after all these years.
Come here. Alex wrapped her arms around her, thankful that it was the end of the day and that her office was tucked away at the end of a long hallway that saw little traffic even during the day. You know what I think. She tilted Regina face up so she could look in her eyes. Your parents are just as nervous as you are. They're going to see their son after how many years?
Seventeen, Regina supplied quietly.
And if that's not enough their daughter is bringing her lesbian lover home. I don't know where all this ranks in that list of life's most stressful events but I'm sure it's up there. Alex let both her arms slide down behind Regina and linked her hands behind her waist. What I mean is, just be you, Regina. You're their daughter and they love you. Whatever their issues are beyond that, they'll have to deal with them as they're able to.
Regina sighed and laid her head on Alex's shoulder. The nervousness was still there but some of the tension slid away at her lover's comforting words. Where did I find you?
Um, in the Emergency Department.
Brat! Regina poked her affectionately in the side and then, rose up on her toes to kiss Alex lightly on the lips.
The brunette smiled and wrapped her arm around Regina's shoulders. Let's go so we can find this locket for your mother.
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