See part 1 for disclaimers and warnings
By Greek Warrior (Joan)
Since Lisa didn't have a car and they hadn't decided where they were going to eat, Andy had offered to pick her up. Her apartment was on the second floor in the front part of the building and she had been standing at the window watching for him. As soon as she saw his blonde head appear from the car that just stopped across the street, she headed downstairs to meet him.
He was even cuter than she remembered; blonde curly hair that was cut just above his collar and he sported short sideburns that were becoming popular again. She also remembered him being taller than she was by about half a foot. He had sparkling blue eyes that always reminded her of someone and now since seeing her sister again, she knew who that someone was.
They met on the sidewalk. "Hey, Lisa. It's good to see you again."
"You too, Andy." She smiled at him.
"Nice place." He tilted his head towards the large old white Victorian style house.
"Thanks. I got lucky finding it." The old house had been converted into six one-bedroom apartments.
They waited at the curb for a car to pass. "I tried to find someplace like this when my roommate got married last year, but had to settle for an apartment complex." There didn't seem to be the typical awkwardness of a first date, maybe since they knew each other in passing a couple of years ago or maybe because they had a reason, other than a date, to see each other. Andy held the car door for her before settling into the driver's seat. "You like seafood?"
"Yes, very much. So, who's buying?" She desperately hoped she was. It would mean he had at least some information on Mario.
He didn't answer until he had pulled out into traffic. "You are." He grinned. "But don't worry the place I have in mind isn't expensive."
"Doesn't matter." Lisa answered seriously. "This may help me right a twelve year old wrong."
He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye and saw the determination in hers. "I know you told me a little about why you wanted this information, but can you tell me anymore about it?" He merged into the northbound I-5 traffic. "This Mario character was bad news."
"Was? You mean he's dead?"
"Yeah, I forget exactly when but it was nine or ten years ago."
Lisa was quiet for several minutes. 'No, I'm not changing my plan. I doubt Philip stayed in touch with them after what happened, so the chances that he would know this guy was dead, are minimal.' She hadn't even realized it but at some point Lisa went from admitting Raven's story had possibilities of being true to completely believing in it and in her sister.
"Hey? You still with me?" Andy exited the interstate and headed towards the north end of Lake Washington.
"What? Oh yeah, sorry. Just thinking." Lisa explained. "And yes, I'll fill you in. You might be able to help me make my plan more believable.
Andy pulled into a parking space. He was intrigued but first things first. "Come on, I'm starving."
"Poseidon's Seafood Shanty?" Lisa questioned with a dubious look.
Andy laughed. "Don't worry. I know the guy who owns it; he's a retired cop. He's got zero imagination but he loves to eat so believe me this place has real good food." He assured her.
Kris snuggled next to Raven. "He's not going to hate you." She had been trying to explain to the stubborn woman that she wasn't to blame for Otis. "My father asked you to protect me and you did. Otis would have still tried to use me to get back at The Division even if he wasn't trying to get back at you." John had stopped by before dinner and told Kris that her father had been informed of what happened and he would call her at the hospital that night. The ambassador also wanted to talk to the captain.
"But you being here with me, put you in more danger. I know if I was him, I'd want to beat the shit out of me."
Kris raised her head from the shoulder it was nestled on. "As far as me being in danger goes, you took care of it."
Raven interrupted her. "Granny took care of it." She corrected.
'Ah, I see part of the problem here, she thinks she let me down.' Kris propped up on her elbow. She tilted her companion's face towards her when Raven couldn't or wouldn't meet her gaze. "How did Otis get the upper hand?"
"What difference does it make?" Raven tried to turn away but Kris held firm.
"Humor me." Green continued to bore into blue. "Did he sneak up on you? Or maybe trick you? Did he get the better of you in a fight?"
"No. It...Sergeant Hardly hit me from behind and knocked me out."
"I know you didn't have any injuries to the back of your head. Where did he hit you?"
"I uh, felt him behind me but I couldn't get completely turned around in time to block his arm, so the blow landed here." She pointed to her forehead.
"I'll assume that Otis took your gun away while you were knocked out. Why didn't he...kill you right away?" Kris really didn't want to think about Raven being hurt again but Kris wanted her to realize that if she hadn't been there, the sergeant wouldn't have been conned into helping and Otis more than likely wouldn't have been able to get the advantage. "I mean he waited a while before he shot you and then it was in the leg. Seems he wanted to keep you alive, at least at first."
"He told me what he was going...going to do...to you. I now know what the expression blind rage means." Raven paused and tried to piece together the events right before Otis shot her the second time. "I don't even remember getting to my feet. But I was standing when we both turned towards the sound of gunfire coming from Granny's house. He turned back to look at me and his grin turned to surprise when he saw me standing. I think I lunged for him but the next thing I knew I was knocked backwards and felt the burning from the bullet, then the next thing I remember, is coming to and seeing Granny leaning over me."
Kris took a deep breath to calm her emotions. "Don't you see? The reason you got hurt was because you were protecting me. Wait." She placed her fingers gently over Raven's mouth. "You didn't let me down, love. You told me to go to Granny's and call John and I did. He told us to hide until they got there. It wasn't your fault we didn't listen. We both were safe until we decided to try and help you. So you did your job."
Raven knew in her head that she had done everything that she could to keep her partner safe. "But...it's my fault he came after you."
"Otis came after me because I was convenient. So you could say this whole thing was my fault." Kris reasoned.
"That's bullshit." Raven said. "It's Otis' fault, he's the one..." She closed her mouth with an audible snap and look at a grinning blonde.
"Glad you finally see things my way, Taz."
"Oh Hades, you're good, I'll give you that. You were in total control of each twist and turn of that conversation. I need to learn not to engage you in a war of words, Sagira."
"You knew you were wrong to blame yourself in the first place. I just had to remind you of that fact. Now you may kiss me to show me your appreciation of my talented manipulations."
"Oh I may, huh?" Raven chuckled.
The twinkle that had been missing from her eyes was back. So was the confidence and authority that had vanished from her voice. Kris could literally feel her partner's presence fill the room. "Yes you may, my sometimes hardheaded but all the time lovable partner." Kris' lips touched Raven's just as the phone rang.
They both rolled their eyes. "I hope these interruptions don't become a habit again."
Kris grabbed the receiver. "Hello...yes I'm fine, dad, thanks to Raven and Granny." She covered the mouthpiece and whispered. "I don't think I've ever heard him this upset before. Sorry, I missed that. What did you say?" She turned her attention back to her father.
"I said that I almost had a heart-attack when Colonel Albright called me and told me what happened. You're sure you're not hurt and not just trying to keep us from worrying?"
"I'm sure, dad, not even a scratch. I wish I could say the same for Raven, though, she got a little damaged in the crossfire."
"Well tell her that she has my undying gratitude. I don't know what I would have done if anything had happened to you."
"Here you can tell her." She handed the phone to her nervous friend.
Andrew Whitfield repeated himself and Kris watched as surprise replaced nerves. "Thank you, Ambassador. No, I'm not sure I'll be well enough to make it to New York after the talks. But Kris can still come, I know she misses you and wants to see you." Raven saw Kris shaking her head.
"I'm not going without you." She whispered.
"Why don't you and Vivian plan on coming here for a visit instead? We've got plenty of room and you said you wanted to meet Granny." She stared at Kris wondering if she should have asked her first. A big smile from the young woman gave Raven her answer. "Okay then, just let us know when you'll be here. I'll tell Kris you said good-bye." She reached over and replaced the receiver. "You were right about his reaction."
"Told ya." She snuggled back against Raven's side. "Thanks for inviting them. That was nice."
"You're welcome. It seemed to be a reasonable solution." She kissed the blonde head on her shoulder. "It might be fun to have them here. Of course we'll have to refrain from making love in front of the fireplace while they're here. That might be embarrassing."
"Embarrassing? Try mortifying."
"Oh he said to tell you that Viv would call you tomorrow afternoon."
"Oh God." Kris suddenly sat up.
"What? You don't want her to call?" Raven looked at the dejected and self-conscious expression on Kris' face and was confused.
"No, I mean that's not it. I don't think I can...you know...with him in the same house." The young woman was rapidly turning red at the thought.
Raven had wondered many times how Kris could be so shy and uncertain when talking about sex and in a blink of an eye, turn into such an aggressive and uninhibited lover. 'It's amazing what being horny does for her confidence.' "Weren't you going to live under the same roof after you and numb nuts got married. What were you going to do then?"
"I planned on having a lot of headaches and planned on it being that time of the month quite often." Kris answered with only a slight hesitation.
Raven laughed. "Hadn't thought about it before now, had you?" She teased.
"No, I guess I always knew my knight in shining armor would come to my rescue." She lay back down and got comfortable. "We'll talk about whether or not you'll be getting any while they're here, later."
'Oh, I'll be getting some, or you, my friend, are going to be taking a lot of cold showers, cause I intend to frustrate you to the point of insanity if I don't.' She chuckled evilly.
"What was that for?" Kris yawned.
"Nothing, dear, go to sleep." The smile stayed on Raven's face while she imagined all the things that she could do to sexually frustrate the young woman.
Deep down Kris knew she should probably be worried, but she'd deal with it when she wasn't so tired. "You need to sleep, too." She mumbled and lightly patted the stomach that her hand was resting on.
Lisa and Andy decided to wait until after dinner to discuss the problem and plan. Lisa had mentioned that she had cheesecake at her apartment, so dessert and coffee back at her place was agreed upon.
Lisa told him the entire story. "Some of what I read in that file makes since now. The part about the evidence that your sister gathered being thrown out of court is documented. So that part's definitely true. When did your sister leave home again?" He opened the folder and looked over the papers.
"Let's see, it was a few years after Derek's death so that would mean I would have been about ten I think, and that would make it sometime around 1986 maybe '87. Why?"
"Then he died a couple of years after that, along with some of his gang members. Listed as a drug deal gone bad. Oh what a shame." He added sarcastically then filled Lisa in on what the rest of the file on one ex-gang leader contained.
"Bet he wishes he'd gone to jail." Lisa observed.
"Yeah, but he'd be out by now and more likely than not, that kind of scum doesn't get rehabilitated." He checked through some more of the papers in the folder. "Boy, your sister was awful young when she gathered the dirt on these guys."
"I can't believe Ra...she did all that by herself. I would have been scared to death." Lisa looked down at her hands self-consciously.
"Are you not telling me her name on purpose or what?" Andy asked in a curious voice. "She was underage at the time so it's not in the records."
"Yeah. She doesn't know what I'm planning on doing. I haven't gone back to talk to her after our fight. Well it wasn't a fight; I said a few not so nice things. And she kinda asked me to back off." She looked up pleadingly. "I know you went to a lot of trouble to get this stuff and all and I really do trust you not to say anything to anyone, but I'd like to keep her out of it until after I have a chance to talk to her about it."
"It's okay, Lisa, I understand. But you should talk to her; she might not want to dig up the past. She might not want to relive it." He picked up his coffee cup and leaned back. "Why don't you tell me more about Philip and your plan?"
Kris opened her eyes and groaned. "Oh my God. I can not believe I slept the whole night on your shoulder." She stared accusingly at her companion. "Why didn't you wake me?"
"You've slept the whole night on my shoulder before and to be perfectly honest, I just woke up myself." Raven stretched as far as she could without pulling something loose.
"You weren't hurt before." Kris stood up to do her stretching. "Did you really sleep the whole night through?" Raven nodded her assurance as a knock sounded and Kudirka appeared.
"Morning, ladies." He was checking the chart in his hands and missed the scowl on his patient's face. "You're doing incredibly well."
"You sound disappointed, Doc." Raven stated.
"No, I don't. Just perplexed as usual." He explained to Kris. "Every time she's in here I swear it'll be the time I figure out what makes her recover so quickly. I want to bottle it and give it to all my patients." He sat the chart on the bedside table. "I want to run some tests this afternoon and depending on the results, you might be able to go home in a couple of days. As long as you haven't scared off this nice young lady by then because you'll have to have someone there with you." He grinned.
"Well, Doc I keep trying to lose her but she keeps turning up like a bad penny. I, OW, that hurt." Raven complained loudly when Kris slapped her shoulder.
"Shush you big baby I didn't hit you that hard. See what I have to put up with?" She asked the doctor who was laughing at their antics.
He picked up his chart and headed for the door. "I will not take sides between the two of you. I'm sure you both could beat me up. I'll order those tests for after lunch, which, by the way, won't include chicken broth." He promised on his way out.
"I think the good doctor is scared of us, Taz." Kris was still staring at the closed door he had disappeared through.
"Good, because I plan on being home by New Years Eve one way or the other."
"I didn't know we had anything planned. Did you plan on a big millennium celebration?" Kris knew how the big 2000 virus 2001 set her partner off every time. She didn't understand why it bothered Raven so much; usually her mate could care less about insignificant matters such as this.
"No and it's not the new millennium." Raven protested scowling. "And you know how I hate that."
"Oh yeah, it's that whole Roman numeral thing and zero right?"
"Wrong, it's the whole, 'what dufus would start with the year zero' thing? It sounds kind of ominous, don't you think?"
Lisa walked into her brother's office and up to his secretary. "Is he in?"
"Hi, Lisa. Yes, go on in."
Lisa knocked on his door and entered. "Hey, Philip. I thought since I was close by running some errands I'd stop in and see if you wanted to go to lunch." Lisa knew he had a lunch meeting with an important new client. Cynthia had pointed it out several times at lunch yesterday.
"Sorry, Lisa, no can do, I've got a meeting scheduled." Philip was a few inches taller than she was, with brown hair that had started thinning on top and receding. His gut was beginning to show signs of working behind a desk all day and the fact that he had a habit of eating Reese's peanut-butter cups by the handfuls. He wore glasses when working or reading which he pushed up to rest on the top of his head while talking to his sister.
Lisa smiled. "Another day then." She turned to go but stopped like she suddenly remembered something. "By the way a patient at the hospital asked me if I knew you. Well, of course, I told him you were my brother and he said to tell you hello."
"Really? Who was it?" He guessed it was someone he probably went to school with. He had been in a lot of clubs and didn't have time to keep in touch with everyone.
"Mario." She watched him freeze. "He didn't tell me his last name. Said you'd remember." The color slowly drained from his face. If she had any doubt at all she wouldn't after seeing his reaction. "Philip? Are you okay? You look like you've seen a ghost."
'Oh God, what does he want? After all this time I thought I was rid of them.' "What...what did he say?" His voice was shaky.
"He just asked how you were doing. You know the usual, what you did for a living, if you were married, had kids." Andy had told her not to say he asked where he lived. He thought that would have been a tad too much. Lisa had thought it would make him squirm more but she reluctantly conceded that Andy was probably right.
"Oh...well, I didn't keep in touch with him. He was...he was..." His mouth was stumbling while his mind was trying to come up with something to say. "Into trouble a lot. Hey, uh, do me a favor and don't tell him you've talked to me okay, I wouldn't want him to get any ideas about renewing an acquaintance."
"Philip, you know I don't like to lie." Lisa had her fingers crossed behind her back.
Lisa met Andy at his precinct so they could have lunch together and on the short walk to the diner, he could tell that she was disappointed. "I take it that Philip didn't immediately confess all and beg for forgiveness?"
"No." Lisa grumbled. "I still say we should tap his phones and plant bugs in his office and condo."
"Lisa, I told you last night that was against the law." He chuckled and opened the door of the diner for her. "You've seen a few too many spy movies, I think."
They slid into a booth and grabbed the menus the waitress handed them. "Can I get you something to drink while you decide?" She asked.
"Iced tea please." Lisa said.
"Coffee for me." Andy added.
"I just want him to admit the truth." She propped her elbows on the table and rested her chin in her hands. "And I believe my sister more than ever after seeing the way he reacted to Mario's name. He turned white as a sheet. I thought for a minute that he was going to pass out."
"Give him time to think about it, he may panic and admit to it yet." They ordered when the waitress brought their drinks. Lisa asked about his day and they spent the rest of lunch talking about Andy's job. He couldn't remember any of his other girl friends ever being as interested in him and his work before. He enjoyed the intelligent questions Lisa asked. "I think you should have joined the force." His comment caused a frown to appear on his lunch date's face.
"I wanted to, but mom pitched a fit and forbid it. Don't get me wrong, I like being a nurse and I think I'll be a good one. But I really wanted to be a cop." They were walking slowly back to the station, trying to stretch out their time together. "I remember the neighborhood kids playing cops and robbers and I'd sneak out when mom was at work to join them. I was always a cop." Lisa stated proudly. "And I always got my man."
"Did your mom think it was too dangerous?" Their hands brushed as they walked and their fingers automatically laced together. Neither made a move to let go.
"No, she said women shouldn't be doing 'men's jobs' as she called it. She thought I should be doing something like working in an office until I found someone and got married." Lisa explained. "She wasn't crazy about me becoming a nurse but she didn't stop me."
"But you said your mom works. I don't understand."
"She had to work. My father left us when I was a baby. I think she wants to make my life the life she wanted. Or maybe the life she thought she should have. I'm not sure I understand either. I pretty much went along with it until I got a taste of real independence at school, from your sister mostly. I think mom's going to freak when something important comes along and I put my foot down and tell her it's my life not hers."
They stopped in front of the steps leading into the station. "Good for you." They turned to face each other. "Life's too short to try to please everybody all the time. Or something like that, I forget the exact saying."
"So we should do what makes us happy." Lisa stated. "I think I like your philosophy, Mr. Dixon."
"I'm glad you agree, Ms Chandler, because this..." he leaned over and kissed her lightly on the lips. "Makes me very happy." He grinned like a little kid as he trotted up the steps two at a time and into the building.
Lisa stood frozen with a matching grin. She finally turned and headed for home. She and Andy had made plans for dinner again that night since she wasn't planning on trying to see Raven until she went back to work tomorrow. Lisa decided that a nice long hot bubble bath was just what the doctor ordered, after she called the nurse's station again to check on her sister's condition.
Raven was an extremely unhappy and cranky captain when the tests were finally finished. She had promised Kris she would be a 'good girl' during them, but had made no such promises about afterwards.
Kris knew her partner and planned on being prepared. She had left the hospital as soon as they had wheeled Raven out of her room. She met John in the parking deck and directed him to the nearest toy store where she purchased the newest game system and a nice variety of games. John set it up when they got back and had just finished making sure he had connected it properly when Raven was brought back to her room.
All Kris had to do was take one look at her companion and she knew that some of the scowl on her face was due to the pain that she was in but tried to play down for Kris' peace of mind.
"Hey, boss." John knew Raven was about one step away from exploding. He also knew that she would kick herself if she lost control that badly in front of Kris, so he distracted her. "You should have seen Colonel 'The Kid' Albright today. He decided to teach the beginners boxing class since Tom wasn't there." John sat down and rested his arms across the bedside table. "Do you remember the new recruit by the name of Tippi?"
Raven was caught up in his good mood and nodded her head. She began to feel better as the pain seemed to subside. She wasn't sure if it was because she wasn't being poked, prodded, x-rayed or stabbed anymore or because of the company. She put her money on the latter.
John described the girl for Kris' benefit. "The top of her head would probably come up to your chin and she probably weights maybe 75 pounds wringing wet. She's standing there in the ring with gloves on that are almost bigger than she is and Albright joins her, all the while explaining different techniques to the class. Then he starts dancing around bobbing back and forth, in and out showing them what he was explaining." He paused to take a breath and to try to keep his laughter under control as by now both Raven and Kris were starting to chuckle at his amusement. "Anyway, he tells her to throw a punch at his face so he can demonstrate how to block and throw a counter punch. While he was busy showing off all his fancy footwork he forgot to block it." John was laughing and gasping for breath. "He was out before he hit the mat. He dropped like a sack of potatoes. And I swear you could almost see the stars and little birds circling his head like in a cartoon."
Raven was laughing so hard that she had to hold her middle and curl up on her side. Kris had tears running down her cheeks she was laughing so hard but she rubbed her partners back trying to help with the pain that she knew Raven was causing herself.
"Sorry." John managed to say once he finally caught his breath. "I guess I should have waited to tell that." He wiped the moisture from his eyes.
"No." Raven straightened out and Kris put another pillow behind her head. "That was great. I needed that."
"Are you sure you're okay?" John asked.
"Yeah." Raven smiled. "What happened after?"
"We all just stood there for a minute until Tippi broke the silence. 'He told me to hit him.' She shrugged her shoulders like what else could I do so we shrugged ours too, then we hauled him to the nurse in medical. He came to after she set his nose."
"She broke his nose? Wow, she must have some kinda punch for a little thing." Kris was trying not to break down again; she didn't want to chance Raven doing any real damage to herself.
Raven grinned. "Is he planning on stopping by tonight?"
"I think so." John replied. "Why?"
Her grin turned mischievous and she wiggled her eyebrows. "Ow, I forgot about my stitches." She grumbled; grabbing her forehead.
"You've got a plan?" John leaned closer, well aware that she could play a devious practical joke after being on the receiving end of a few.
"Yep. Call and find out when he's coming." She asked John. "Kris, we need bandages and something like that black goop baseball players put under their eyes. You know what I'm taking about?"
"Yeah." Kris said, catching on. "Something that we can wipe off that won't stain skin."
Not finding any suitable black goop at the hospital, John left in search of a sporting goods store. Kris was receiving expert instructions from one of the nurses in applying bandages to a broken nose. Kris had forgotten about the surprise that she had engineered for Raven until her partner had complained about not having anything to do. She had left Raven happily playing Tomb Raider.
"You have a devious mind, my friend." Sharon stated. She and Granny had gotten to the hospital before John made it back and Kris had filled them in on the plan. They both wanted in on the joke after being assured that the colonel did indeed have a sense of humor.
All five participants with make-up and bandages in place took their pre-planned positions when their early warning system, which consisted of the nurse's station nearest the elevators alerting the nurse's station directly across from Raven's room, who in turn signaled John, that Albright was headed their way.
As Albright entered the room he was greeted by five people that were hiding behind five sections of newspaper. Knowing John would have gleefully spread the story of his boxing debacle; he crossed his arms over his chest and sighed. "All right, let's get this over with." He waited for their amusing banter at his expense. After all he had suffered through them all afternoon and he was willing to bet that this crew couldn't come up with anything new.
"Hey, Colonel. What's new?" Raven stated, which was the signal for everyone to lower their papers at the same time.
He found himself staring at five very exaggerated raccoon faces complete with white gauze covering their noses. "Oh very funny. I'm never gonna live this down, am I?"
"I've heard of someone having a glass jaw before, but this is the first I've heard of a glass nose." Granny teased.
"I heard that she was so small that she had to use a chair to even reach your nose." Sharon added.
"Great, I'm surrounded by wanna be comedians." He hung his head and sighed.
Thursday afternoon after Lisa finished her shift she headed for her sister's room. She paced up and down the corridor in front of the door, reluctant to enter. 'What if she doesn't want to hear me out? I wouldn't blame her. The first time I see her in ten years and what do I do? I have to go and kick her when she's down.'
Lisa hadn't noticed the nurse leaning on the desk watching her until she spoke. "She's awake if you want to go in." She tilted her head in the direction of the door Lisa kept staring at each time she passed and grinned. "Contrary to popular belief, she really doesn't bite."
Lisa had jumped at the sound of the nurse's voice. "Uh, thanks." She finally took a deep breath, knocked on the closed door and entered.
Raven hit the pause button for the game she was currently engaged in and Kris saved the file that she was working on. Both turned their attention to the fidgeting young woman but neither broke the strained silence that was growing.
"Um, can we talk?" Lisa said nervously. She watched the two women look at each other. "I promise to behave." She added looking at Kris who was definitely a lot more intimidating than she looked.
Raven stifled the grin that threatened to spread across her face as she watched her protector settle back into her chair. Kris made it clear that she obviously had no intention of leaving her companion unprotected. "Sure." Raven finally turned her attention to her sister.
"First of all I'd like to thank you." Lisa noticed she caught Kris by surprise. "Your questions made me remember things that I had conveniently forgotten. And I owe you an apology." She turned to her sister. "I normally don't let others make up my mind about someone for me. I usually wait to hear them out first then decide."
Kris hadn't told Raven what she had said to Lisa after she had pulled her from the room that day. Lisa explained to her sister what Kris had said that made her question the story she had been told by Philip and their mother all those years ago. She also told them of her plan. "If it was going to work, I think it would have by now." She sighed disappointedly.
"Lisa, I appreciate the thought but it wouldn't make any difference whether he admitted it or not, mother's not going to change her opinion of me. And as far as Philip goes, he knows he lied and has to live with the guilt."
"But I don't think he feels guilty at all and that's the problem, he should. Wait." She stopped Raven from interrupting. "Neither one of you are responsible for Derek's death. But he should've taken responsibility for those people being in the house. He should have told the truth." She paused to gather her thoughts. "I don't know what happened to you after you left home for good and I don't know, maybe you would've left anyway, I remember now that mother never treated you like the rest of us. I remember being mad at you for leaving and I think that made it easier for me to believe them." Her far away gaze returned to the present and she focused on the two women. "It may not make her change her opinion, but she will hear the truth and she will hear it from Philip." Lisa stated positively.
Raven felt some of the weight that she had been carrying around for the past twelve years disappear. "What if I said that having you believe me and having a chance for us to be sisters again was enough for me?"
"I don't know, Taz. I think she might be as stubborn as another Chandler I know." Kris shook her head. "I don't think I'd cross her if I were you." Kris could tell that having the truth come out was very important to Lisa.
Raven crossed her arms over her chest and rolled her eyes dramatically when Lisa started laughing. "You do know that in a few months time you have totally ruined the reputation it took me ten years to build?" The older woman pouted.
"Yes I do know that." Kris pinched Raven's cheek. "And that's a cute little pout but it doesn't work with me." Kris lied. She knew that cute little pout worked every time.
By this time, Lisa was laughing so hard she almost fell out of the chair she had collapsed into a few minutes ago. "Are...are you two always...like this?" She managed to ask between taking large gulps of air. "I haven't laughed this hard in a long time." She added once she'd caught her breath.
Raven thought. "Actually, I'd never been like this until I met Kris." She smiled at her partner. "She seems to bring out the best in me."
After a few minutes of comfortable silence, Lisa asked her sister what she'd been wondering about for the past two days. "What happened after you left? Where'd you go? And how did you end up working for the CIA?" She sat forward in her chair and rested her forearms on her knees.
"Um." Raven knew that was bound to come up and she also knew she would eventually tell her sister, but not today. "That is a long and serious story. Better left for a time when we won't be interrupted." She smiled at Lisa. "I'd rather hear about you." Raven asked even though she had secretly inquired about her sister when she was in school. What Lisa had never found out about and Raven didn't see any reason to bring it up, was that Raven had paid for her sister's schooling by letting her think she had won a scholarship from the university.
"Well that'll be pretty boring but okay." She sat back in her chair and thought about where to start. She told them about school and her friends. She blushed when she mentioned Andy. Raven and Kris glanced at each other knowingly. They talked about books and she and Kris talked about some of the movies they liked. Lisa was fascinated by the fact that Kris had sold some of her short stories and volunteered to be her guinea pig if she ever needed someone to proof her work.
"I guess I'd better go. They'll be bringing your dinner soon." She could tell that her sister was tired and probably missed her afternoon nap, not that the stubborn woman would admit to it.
Kris could also tell that Raven was tired but knew she didn't want Lisa to leave. "She gets to go home tomorrow. Why don't you stop by and have dinner with us? You could ask Andy, too." She suggested and received a smile from Raven for thinking of it. "Unless the two of you have plans for New Years Eve."
"I'd like to have dinner but Andy has to work a longer shift because of the holiday. He was going to stop by the apartment after work but we weren't going out or anything. I'll ask him if he could just stop by your place instead if that's okay?" Lisa explained. "I'd really like to spend more time getting to know my sister again."
"That sounds good. You could come by any time after work." Raven said.
"I'll write down the directions." Kris grabbed her purse looking for pen and paper.
"I'll give them to Andy and I'll take a bus or cab. I don't have a car." She explained.
"Here, give me your address and I'll pick you up." Kris suggested. "It's too far out to take a cab and I don't know if it's on a bus route or not."
Lisa finally agreed after Kris assured her it wouldn't be any trouble. She left the hospital with a smile on her face. She was in an especially good mood for a Thursday night. She had called her mother earlier and begged off dinner that night. She wasn't about to sit at the same table with Philip and pretend that everything was okay. She knew she would have to find a way to force him to come clean or she would have to invent a lot more excuses to avoid him. 'Of course that wouldn't be a bad thing.' She thought.
Kris and Lisa completed their circuit and returned to the living room to find that Raven was still obediently stretched out on the couch. Kris had threatened her with sending her to her room if she moved while she was showing Lisa the house.
"This is a great place." Lisa stated as she stood by the large stone fireplace warming her hands. "Surrounded by all this land with the trees and the lake makes it seem like a secluded getaway." She rubbed her hands together and turned around to face them. "And I absolutely love this fireplace. It reminds me of the one at the ski lodge I visited."
"If you remember the fireplace so fondly, I'm betting you didn't do much skiing." Kris commented.
Lisa laughed. "That would be a safe bet."
"Okay, tell us the story." Raven grinned. "With that expression, it's bound to be a good one."
"Some friends were going skiing one weekend during Christmas break a couple of years ago and I conned them into taking me with them and teaching me. They had been talking about skiing for months and made it sound so great. You know, the feeling of flying down the slopes in the great outdoors, the crisp cool air flowing past you, the togetherness at the end of the day when you got to cuddle with your girlfriend or boyfriend. Well, I didn't have a boyfriend but I thought all that other stuff sounded fantastic so I begged and pleaded until they gave in." She paused to take a swallow of the hot cocoa that Kris had made for them. "Anyway, we get up to the resort about mid-morning and they think a lesson or two before lunch and by that afternoon I'd be on the beginner hill. Well, I get all the equipment on, skis, gloves, goggles, boots, grab my poles and carefully stand up." Lisa started laughing again. "I was on a slight slope and started moving forward when I stood. I moved a couple of inches before landing flat on my face in a snow bank."
"Oh no. Were you hurt?" Kris tried to ask without laughing but was only partially successful.
"No." Lisa assured them. "But I was so bundled up and had on all that stuff that I couldn't get up. It never occurred to me to reach back and release the skis, so I flopped around like a dying fish trying to roll over and sit up. And by this time everyone had gathered around and knew I wasn't hurt and they were laughing so hard they couldn't help me." Lisa paused to catch her breath. "Needless to say, I spent the rest of the time in the lodge in front of the fire drinking hot cocoa." She dried her eyes. "But I had a great time."
Kris and Lisa traded stories while Raven listened and dozed off periodically. Kris excused herself after a while to make sure she had everything ready for dinner. She really just wanted to give Raven and Lisa a chance to spend some time together.
"Anything I can do to help?" Lisa asked upon entering the kitchen. "I hate to just freeload and I'm fairly good in the kitchen."
"The salad is made, I've got the lasagna ready to put in the oven, and Granny is bringing the homemade Italian, piping hot just out of the oven, bread." She turned and opened the refrigerator door. "And the chocolate mousse is still here, by the hardest. I found out that your sister loves the stuff." She offered as an explanation. "Actually I do too." She grinned and turned back around. "I was just about to see if anyone wanted some hot apple cider."
"Raven's asleep. I thought she would rest better if I wasn't sitting in there staring at her." Lisa sat down at the table when Kris poured them some cider.
Kris knew something was bothering her by the way she nervously folded then straightened her napkin. She placed her hand over Lisa's, stopping the fidgeting and waited until she looked up. "What's wrong?" She asked, although she thought she had an idea.
Lisa looked into green eyes that overwhelmed her with their maturity, warmth and kindness. She had to remind herself that Kris was a few years younger than she was. "I remember reading her chart...Raven's chart that first morning before I knew who she was. I remember wondering if the patient would even live through my shift." She paused and stared at the tabletop without really seeing it. "What if I had said those horrible things to her and she...she died thinking that I hated her?" She looked at Kris with a regretful almost terrified look in her eyes.
Kris was aware of the fact that Lisa was practically pleading with her to say it was all right and that she could forgive herself. "Lisa, I won't lie to you. What you said hurt your sister, badly, but she knew what stories and lies you had been told all your life. What's important now is that the two of you put the past behind you and rebuild your love and the trust that should be between two sisters. I know that you two can become a family again. She wants very much to be a part of your life." She squeezed Lisa's hand and smiled reassuringly before leaning back in her chair.
"I want that too." Lisa stated as she took a shaky breath. "How do you deal with the danger she goes through? Or was this an exception?"
"I've only known her for three months." Kris grinned at Lisa's surprise. "But I would venture to say that this is par for the course, unfortunately." By the time Kris finished the story of how they met, Raven was awake and leaning against the doorframe. "What are you doing up?" She crossed her arms in front of her chest and glared at the patient.
"I woke up and everybody was gone." Raven looked a little sheepish at her uneasiness of waking up alone. "Besides, I'm hungry." She changed the subject trying to cover up her unaccustomed insecurity.
Kris decided not to question her partner's unusual behavior. "I just put the lasagna in the oven, Taz. We'll eat about 7:00 but if you can't wait I can fix you something now."
Lisa laughed. "I love that nickname. It just seems to fit her so perfectly."
"Hey, just keep laughing, missy and I'll think of one for you." Raven warned her sister as she joined them at the table. "And I can wait until it's ready if I can have some potato chips or cookies or crackers." She pouted more with each suggestion knowing it almost always got her what she wanted.
Kris rolled her eyes and Lisa laughed harder. "You are not going to eat garbage before dinner." Kris refused to look at her, knowing she was pouting, trying to get her way. "How about some oatmeal? I'll put some sugar and cinammon in it and I'll even throw in a few raisins." Besides, Kris didn't want to admit that she had eaten the rest of the cookies earlier that day.
"Okay." Raven thought she better not push her luck.
"So, does Kris have a nickname?" Lisa propped her chin in her hand and rested her elbow on the table.
"Yes she does." Raven replied. "Sagira." She explained to Lisa what it meant then stared at Kris. "Some of us were kind and thinking of the other when we chose them."
"Yes, honey, I know." She placed Raven's bowl of oatmeal on the table in front of her and sat down. "Of course she had to explain that to me, I thought she was calling me short." She told Lisa.
Lisa followed the interaction between the two women but couldn't quite figure them out. They seemed so close to only have known each other a few months. Then it dawned on her and without thinking she suddenly declared, "You're lovers." She slapped her hand over her mouth but it was too late to stop the comment.
Raven and Kris looked at each other in the silence that followed Lisa's outburst. "Yes we are. Does that bother you?" Kris asked in a neutral voice. She didn't want to assume the worst but she was being cautious none-the-less.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to blurt that out. But you can relax; I think you two make a cute couple. I'm surprised I didn't see it before. Although mother is gonna pitch a fit." Lisa said the last part more to herself.
"What's she got to do with anything?" Raven inquired between bites, her hearing having picked up the mumble.
"I still want her to hear the truth about Philip, from his own mouth and I was hoping she would apologize to you for driving you away and to me for forcing my sister out of my life." Lisa explained resolutely.
Raven finished her last spoonful of oatmeal. "Lisa, I hope you're not going to be too disappointed when that doesn't happen." She leaned back in her chair and regarded her sister seriously.
"Which, Philip admitting it or mother apologizing?" Lisa asked.
"Both actually." Raven clarified.
Lisa leaned back and crossed her arms, observing both women. She could tell that Raven believed what she said but she also thought she could detect a small glimmer of hope in those piercing blue eyes. In some ways she thought Kris was an easier read than Raven and this was one of them. The green eyes were leery and Lisa knew from first hand experience that Kris would do everything in her power to keep her friend from being hurt again especially by the two people that had hurt her the most.
"I've got another idea about how to get Philip to confess, but I'll need your help and your work connections." She looked at her sister. Lisa had convinced herself that the CIA would have all the right contraptions to execute her plan. "I got this idea from watching an old movie last night. It was about this rich older woman's relatives trying to drive her crazy in order to gain control of her money." She noticed Raven's raised eyebrow and took it as a sign of impatience and hurried along. "To make a long story short, I thought we could somehow use projectors and speakers to make Philip think he was being haunted." She finished in a rush and suddenly wondered if the idea seemed as silly as it sounded.
Raven stared at the ceiling for a minute or two before meeting her sister's somewhat hopeful expression. "Let me get this straight. You want to use electronic equipment to make Philip think he's seeing and hearing...Derek."
Lisa nodded her head. "I really don't think Derek would mind if we borrowed him to get at the truth."
"Is that possible?" Kris questioned. "Are there gadgets that can do stuff like that?" She really hoped so; deep down she wanted the coward to come clean.
"That's not my field of expertise but a 3-D image projector and something like a surround sound speaker system would probably be a start." Raven saw the gleam in Lisa's eyes. "This means a lot to you, doesn't it?" 'Maybe seeing Philip squirm a little wasn't such a bad idea.' Raven thought.
"Yes it does." Lisa answered her sister's question. "And I thought that since you worked for the CIA that you'd have access to that kind of stuff." She looked from one to the other. "So is this something we could try?"
Raven glanced at Kris, both thinking the same thing, that Lisa should be told the truth about Raven's work. Raven didn't want to start a new relationship with her sister by lying to her. But anymore discussion on the matter was set aside for later when Granny knocked on the door. Dinner was not the format for revealing what the captain did for a living.
"How is the patient doing?" Granny directed her question at Kris as she put the bread in the second smaller oven, turning it on warm, then joining the other women at the table.
"She, surprisingly behaved herself today. She stayed on the couch until a little while ago, napped a few times this afternoon and has been a good girl and eaten what I've fixed for her without too many complaints." Kris recapped their day so far.
"Good. Food and rest are the best things for her right now." Granny stated.
"You know, you could ask me, I am sitting right here." Raven grumbled.
"Yes, but you wouldn't tell me the truth." Granny shook her finger at the complaining woman in a scolding manner. "Who was it that didn't tell me she had a concussion and couldn't remember what day it was without looking at her watch?" She paused dramatically. "Mmm? Or what about the time?"
"All right, you made your point." Raven interjected.
"When was this?" Kris asked.
"I don't recall." Raven looked at them with a straight face.
"Very funny." Granny said as Lisa rolled her eyes.
"I was only kidding." Raven said to a serious Kris.
"I realize that. But you better never pull that stoic routine with me and not tell me when you're hurt." The young woman grabbed the front of Raven's shirt and leaned forward until they were nose to nose and green eyes were boring into blue ones. "Understand?"
"I understand, love." Raven stole a not so quick kiss and grinned when she heard Kris sigh.
"Sometimes you really frustrate me, Taz." Kris let go of the crumpled shirt and ran her hands over it, trying to smooth it out.
"I'm sorry about that but I really don't think I can do anything about that now since we have company. But if you see me later..." She left the sentence hanging.
"That's not what I mean and you know it." Kris turned red when she realized where her hands were rubbing and the chuckles from the other two women confirmed that they had noticed also.
"Would you like us to give the two of you some privacy, dear?" Granny asked.
"I'm so embarrassed." Kris hid her face in Raven's shirt. Luckily she was saved any further torment by the buzzer on the stove. "Dinner's ready." She jumped up and shooed everyone into the dining room.
After dinner, Granny insisted on clearing the table and cleaning the kitchen. The others made themselves comfortable in the living room.
"Lisa, I need to explain something to you about my work." Raven thought she should spill the beans before their other guest arrived.
But just as she started the doorbell rang and Lisa jumped up. "That's probably Andy, you want me to get it?"
"Be my guest." Kris was content to stay comfortable snuggled next to Raven on the couch.
Lisa quickly headed for the door; she wanted to talk to Andy before he met her sister and Kris. She wasn't sure how he felt about same sex relationships but she was going to make sure he wouldn't stick his foot in his mouth or worse when she introduced them as partners.
"I look at it this way." He explained. "I get to see more than my fare share of hate and violence so when two people love each other, I don't care what combination they come in, I consider it a blessing."
Lisa kissed him on the cheek and led him into the living room. "Andy, this is..."
"Lieutenant Chandler?" Andy grinned and stuck his hand out to her. "You don't remember me, do you?" Still shaking her hand, he addressed Lisa. "You didn't tell me she was your sister." He turned back to Raven.
"I'm sorry but no, I'm afraid I don't remember you." Raven stood as the grinning man still held her hand hostage.
"How do you know my sister and she's a Captain now." Lisa stated rather proudly then realized that Kris was patiently waiting on an introduction. "And this is Kris, Raven's partner. Kris, this is Andy a friend of mine."
"Hello, Kris." He finally let go of the captain's hand and shook Kris' a little more sedately.
Granny joined them then and was introduced. They all sat down to a few seconds of that initial awkward silence, each of them waiting on one of the others to break it. Lisa came to the rescue. "So, tell us how you know Raven."
"Oh, it was..." Andy thought back. "Six years ago, I was a rookie on the force. I'm a cop." He clarified in case Lisa hadn't mentioned it. "I was one of several assigned to work with an outside group that had been hired to flush out a bunch of neo-nazis that were operating in the mountains east of here. It was a joint effort with other law enforcement departments in the state and the FBI. We hadn't been able to catch them in any criminal act and none of the witnesses had been willing to speak out against them, so we couldn't get any warrants for their arrest. So the brass decided to do something that had never been done before and hired outside help that didn't necessarily have to follow the same procedures we do."
Lisa interrupted. "Wait, why would the CIA have to be hired?"
Andy looked to Raven, fearful that he may have said something he shouldn't have. Raven remembered the mission not long after he had started his story and knew he was somewhat aware of The Division and their activities. "I was about to let you in on a little secret right before Andy arrived." She went on to briefly explain things to her sister.
"Oh." Lisa's forehead wrinkled in thought, then she smiled. "So you're a female James Bond?"
Unfortunately Kris had just brought her glass to her mouth and taken a swallow. The liquid exited a lot quicker than it entered as she started coughing. Raven rubbed her back and handed her a napkin. "Uh...kinda, maybe. But we don't get all the perks like the exploding fountain pen or the cars with a missile launcher in the tailpipe." She chuckled at her sister.
Lisa pouted. "You're making fun of me. I can't help I'm a slave to spy and action movies." Lisa couldn't help but laugh at herself along with the others.
"You all right?" Granny asked Kris when she caught her breath.
"Yeah. At least it was water." She dabbed at the liquid that landed in her lap and on the couch. "And that pout looks very familiar." She pointed her finger at Raven. "I've seen it on this one here, many times." Her statement caused a few chuckles at her partner's expense.
"Sorry, Kris." Lisa said sincerely.
"It's okay. That just caught me by surprise. I've never thought of your sister quite like that before." She looked at her partner and threatened. "You just make sure that those gadgets aren't the only 007 perks you don't get."
Andy looked puzzled then grinned knowingly. "Oh, I get it, you mean the sex." Lisa blushed.
"Hey, Kris." Granny got the blondes attention. "She turns almost as red as you do."
"Can we get back to the story?" Lisa tried to divert attention away from her embarrassment.
Andy picked up where he left off after Raven assured him that she was not a storyteller. "At first I took my cues from some of the veteran officers and they basically resented the fact that an outside group was being brought in to do our jobs." He shook his head. "I changed my opinion pretty darn quick. They came in and in two days, had pinpointed the location of the compound, which was something the FBI and Sheriffs Department hadn't been able to do in three months. And about 12 hours later, they had the camp surrounded. I was lucky enough to be assigned to one of the teams that went in with them. They got in the compound, disarmed the guards and secured the buildings all without a shot being fired. They rounded up all the members of this vigilante group and sat them down on the floor in one of the larger rooms waiting on the trucks to transport them out. The entire time we were waiting, the leader of this group, I forget what they called themselves, mouthed off. He kept yelling that what we did was illegal and it wouldn't hold up in court and that their rights were being violated. Nothing anyone said, would make him shut up and by then everyone was sick of listening to him, one of us in particular." He looked at Raven and chuckled. "The Captain here, grabbed him by his collar and belt, stood him up and shoved his head through a door. That most definitely shut him up; he was out cold. Then she turned around to the rest of them with a glare that could freeze boiling water and I'll always remember what she said." He paused to get a drink for his dry throat.
Kris, Granny and Lisa were sitting on the edge of their seats leaning forward. "What?" Asked a chorus of three impatient voices.
"First off I should explain to you, that in the 72 hours that I had been around her," he pointed to the amused woman, "she hadn't uttered one word, zilch. There were a few of us that had wondered if she was mute." He chuckled. "Anyway, she was glaring and they were beginning to squirm. Then in a commanding voice she informed them, 'Hate doesn't have any rights or laws that protect it. The little girl you beat to death and the old man you ran down just because their skin was a different color than yours, they had rights. The group of teenagers that you decided to use for target practice because they were gay, they had rights.' Then she walked over to two of the younger members and pulled her gun, moving back and forth between the two and said, 'One of them has hair the other has a shaved head. Which one dies because he's different?' She asked the rest of them. No one answered and no one would look any of us in the eye. We all just stood there in silence until someone started clapping, then another joined in, until we all were applauding, even the ones that still resented the outsiders."
"I'm gonna have to get you a white hat and horse like all the other heroes." Kris said and laid her head on Raven's shoulder.
"What happen then? Were they convicted?" Granny asked.
"Yes they were and as far as I know all are still behind bars. And before you ask, I don't know how they got around all the legal rigmarole, I didn't ask. They went to jail and that's all that counts." Andy stated.
Conversation continued until the midnight hour approached. "Hey everybody, it's almost twelve." Lisa announced as she looked at her watch.
"I've got ginger-ale if anyone is interested in toasting the New Year." Granny put her hands on her knees and started to push herself into a standing position.
"Sit." Lisa jumped up. "We'll get it. Come on Andy."
"The champagne glasses are on the counter." Granny told them as they headed for the kitchen.
"Raven?" Kris leaned over and brushed dark bangs back. "Baby, wake up."
"Huh?" Blue eyes opened and took a few seconds to focus on green. "I'm awake." She groaned as she stiffly sat up.
"Are you hurting? Do you need something for the pain?" Kris asked worriedly. "Maybe we should skip the toast and just go to bed."
"No, I'm okay. My neck is stiff, that's all." She explained as she rubbed her neck and twisted her head trying to work the soreness out.
"Here, lean forward and let me do that." Kris sat on the back of the sofa behind Raven and massaged her neck and shoulders.
"Gods that feels good." Raven groaned. "But you better stop or you'll put me back to sleep." She patted the cotton-covered knee beside her. "Thanks, love."
Kris slid off the back of the sofa and returned to her place beside her partner as Lisa and Andy handed out the fluted glasses. Granny opened the wooden doors in the built-in bookcases on the far wall that concealed the television and switched it to the local station that was showing the celebration at the Space Needle.
They all started counting down with the clock on the screen. As the TV crowd cheered, they touched their glasses together and sipped their ginger ale to complete their toast. Lisa and Andy's voice joined with that of Granny's in singing 'Auld Lang Syne'. Kris joined in, a little less off key than the other three.
"Come on, sis." Lisa stopped singing and looked at Raven sitting quietly. "Help us out." She grinned. "You know your voice can put the rest of us to shame. Although Kris isn't doing too bad."
"You sing?" Kris looked at her partner curiously.
Raven's eyes lost focus, remembering the past. "No." She blinked and took a deep breath. "Not anymore." She looked down, concentrating on her glass, to avoid the searching eyes that she knew were staring at her.
Kris looked at the sad expression on Lisa's face and knew it had to do with an unpleasant memory from the past. She turned her attention back to her uncomfortable lover. "You're just being nice and don't want to embarrass the rest of us."
Raven smiled gratefully, she knew Kris was trying to draw the attention away from her obvious distress. She also knew she needed to explain things later.
Goodnights were exchanged after it was decided that it would be safer if Lisa and Andy stayed the night instead of braving the long drive back. Andy hadn't had anything stronger than ginger ale but even with the strict enforcement of the drunk driving laws, some fools still insisted on trying to drive themselves.
After a slightly embarrassing moment, on the part of the new couple when Kris asked them if they needed one room or two, Andy spoke up stating that two rooms would be required, 'for now' he had finished with a wink at his still blushing date.
Raven was grateful for that decision. She knew she didn't have any right to keep them apart and wouldn't have if they had wanted to be together but she still thought of Lisa as her little sister. And it would have felt strange to think of them making love in the room across the hall. She knew in time she would come to think of Lisa as the adult she was, but right now she liked the thought of playing the role of the big sister again.
Kris joined Raven in their bedroom after making sure Granny got safely to her house. "You want to talk about it?" She had debated on her way up the stairs about letting it go for now since Raven was obviously exhausted. But she was sure her sometimes stubborn partner would try to play the importance down if she didn't get it out in the open when her feelings were hitting her full force.
The tall woman finished changing into a long nightshirt, she had to forgo the boxers since the elastic hit one of her still sore incisions, and sat down on the edge of the bed.
Kris watched and waited. She sat down beside the silent woman and ran her hand up and down Raven's back. "I know you hate talking about your past but I really think you should get it out in the open." She waited for several more silent minutes. "It's okay if you'd rather not talk about it, I understand."
"No, it's not that. I was just remembering the last time I sang for Lisa." She told Kris the story of how her mother reacted to catching her singing for her sister. "She had forbid me from singing before, but I thought it would be okay since it always helped Lisa go back to sleep. Seems that wasn't the case. From then on Lisa was too scared to ask me to sing to her and I think that was the start of my telling myself I was never going to be good enough, at least where my mother was concerned."
Kris was fuming, but held her anger in check, knowing it wasn't what her partner needed at the moment. She slid off the bed and knelt in front of Raven, placing her hands on the older woman's knees. "Baby, don't let her take something else away from you. If you like to sing, then sing." For a second she saw the hurt little girl in Raven's eyes and a little of her anger got away from her. "In fact, why don't you make a tape of you singing and I'll go to her restaurant with a tape deck and play it over and over for her."
Raven's gratitude shown in her eyes. "You don't even know if I can carry a tune or not. You might regret getting me started."
Kris grinned at the playfulness in her partner's voice, thankful that she hadn't let her anger get away from her. "Well, if you really stink at it, I'll make sure to take earplugs with me."
"And here I was thinking you loved me no matter what." She tried to pout but ended up laughing instead.
They turned out the light and crawled into bed. "Goodnight, Taz, love you."
"I love you, too." Raven turned on her side to face her partner. "Uh, Kris?"
"Would you hold me tonight?" Came the insecure voice.
Kris' anger at Raven's mother almost got the better of her again. Instead she opened her arms. "I'll hold you for the rest of our lives if you want me to." She held on tightly and kissed the top of the dark head resting on her chest.
The next day after breakfast and after Lisa and Andy had left, Raven contacted John and filled him in on Lisa's plan.
"What did he say?" Kris asked as she poured them another cup of coffee.
"It's possible, it's illegal and he begged me to let him help." Raven grinned. "Seems his mother is after him to become more involved in the wedding preparations and he wants something to occupy his time." She explained.
"Has he told her that he asked you to stand up for him?" Kris rolled her eyes when Raven shook her head. "What's he going to do? Wait until she sees you standing beside him at the altar?"
"What are you thinking about?" Raven asked suspiciously at the dreamy expression on Kris' face.
Kris leaned forward, placed her elbows on the table and propped her chin in her hands. "I can't wait to see you in a tux. You know, everybody says the bridesmaid should never look better than the bride, I think they better start worrying about the 'best man', besting the groom." She sighed, deeply. "Do you think we will be able to dance together? I wouldn't want to upset their families."
Raven choked on her coffee. "Dance?" She had been pondering an idea since she and Kris talked about her singing last night. And had even thought about how to ask John and Sharon if she might be able to sing a song at their reception for them and for Kris, but she had totally forgotten about dancing that would be going on. "I...ah, I don't know how." She admitted sheepishly.
"It's okay if we don't dance." She assured her. "But I could teach you if you wanted me to."
Raven wiggled her eyebrows. "That could be fun. You in my arms, soft music, our bodies moving together. Yep, that's a definite possibility."
Kris cleared her throat and decided that she had better get her mind on something else or they would be doing a lot more than dancing and she didn't think Raven's still healing body was up to that kind of activity yet. "So, you think Lisa's plan has a chance of working?"
Raven shrugged her shoulders and accepted the change of direction. "I hope it does for her sake anyway."
"What about for your sake? Don't you want it to work?" Kris reached for the coffeepot and refilled their mugs.
"Yes and no." Raven paused to gather her thoughts. "No because it's easier not to have to deal with my mother's disapproval of me and I really don't want to get my hopes up that she'll suddenly change her opinion. I also know that if she did change her mind that it wouldn't last long, she'll never accept me being gay because of her strict religious beliefs."
"Why yes?" Kris' anger was starting all over again at the defeated tone in her lover's voice.
Raven's grin was truly evil. "I would love to see her have to deal with her perfect little image of her perfect little boy shot down in flames." She sighed. "Of course she would probably just make up some reason Philip did what he did that would excuse him from blame."
"You know." Kris took a few deep breaths trying to control her temper. "I normally don't pre-judge people, but I really hate this bitch."
The statement from her partner was said with so much exasperation and honesty that Raven couldn't stop the look of total devotion and love that crossed her face. Gone was the insecurity and the self-loathing that always seemed to lurk just below the surface.
"What's that look for, Taz?" Kris moved her chair closer to Raven and laced their fingers together.
"I never told anybody any of this before. I was always afraid that if I did they would agree with her, that I really was as worthless as she had said all along. Then when I got older, I developed an 'I don't care' attitude in regards to just about everything. I was determined that nothing anybody said or did would ever affect me again." Raven brought their intertwined hands to her lips and kissed the back of Kris'.
"What made you decide to change?" Kris laid her head down on Raven's shoulder and sighed at the contentment she felt.
"You mainly. Although I think Granny and John started the change. They were always there for me, not asking questions or expecting anything in return for their friendship. But you completed the change in me by completing me and by giving me something that I can't live without."
Kris raised her head and looked into sincere blue eyes. "What?"
Raven smiled. "Your love, your trust, your understanding. You gave me, you." She leaned over and kissed her startled companion.
The next day when Lisa got off work, John picked her up and headed for Raven and Kris' house. He had brought all the equipment they would need to set up their 'haunting' at Philip's condo and office. Now all they had to do was get in, set it up and get out without being seen.
After several hours of planning, they had agreed that Lisa would 'borrow' Philip's keys and pass them to John, who would quickly cut copies, get them back to Lisa who would take them back to Philip with the excuse of taking them by mistake.
Then they would pick a time that Philip was at his office to set up the equipment in his condo and vice versa. The only thing left to decide was who they were going to get to play the voice of Derek.
"I don't know anybody that would pass for an eight year old. And even more important, I don't want to mix a kid up in something that's illegal." Raven sighed in frustration.
"What's illegal?" Granny asked. She had entered in time to hear the last part of the statement.
They all looked at each other. Raven shrugged and explained, she knew their friend wouldn't give them away.
"I use to do impressions at the nurses talent shows when they needed more people to participate. I could probably do the voice and I would really like to help."
The others look at each other again. Kris grinned. "Well, that was easy."
"Hey, why don't we order pizza? My treat." Lisa suggested. She wasn't ready to leave the relaxed friendly atmosphere and return to her empty apartment and the probable blinking light on her answering machine. She had been totally ignoring her mother lately and she knew she would have to deal with it sooner or later and she wanted it to be later.
Lisa did have a message on her machine when she returned home. Only it was from her brother, not her mother as expected.
'Lisa, it's Philip. I was wondering if you could come by the office tomorrow? I need to talk to you about something. Give the office a call tomorrow to set up a time.' The message ended abruptly.
Lisa stared at the machine, curious as to what her brother wanted. It briefly crossed her mind that maybe her earlier attempt at coercing him into admitting his lie had worked, but she didn't get her hopes up. She plopped down on the sofa and picked up the phone to dial her sister's number. 'Well, whatever he wants, this will be the perfect attempt to get his keys copied.' She thought as she heard the first ring.
Monday morning during her break Lisa called Philip's office, letting him know that she would be by after work. Late afternoon found her sitting in a visitor's chair across from her brother, his desk separating them. She waited for him to finish his phone call and explain the summons. A nervously bouncing leg the only thing giving away her anxiousness.
He finally ended the call. "How was work?" He tossed his glasses on his desk that had been resting on top of his head.
"You summoned me down here to ask about work?" She looked at him suspiciously. "You could have asked me that over the phone."
"No, I was trying to make conversation." He explained. "Can't I be curious about how your day was?"
"You never have before. Why start now?" She shot back at him accusingly. "What's the real reason you called, Philip? I had a long day and I'm really tired." She had softened her tone of voice. 'Got to watch what I say.' She didn't want him throwing her out before she had a chance to grab his keys.
He sighed and leaned forward, resting his arms on his desk. "Mom, called." He admitted. "She thinks that maybe you weren't coming to our Thursday dinners because of me. Look, I know that we haven't always been close but is spending one night a week together so bad? You know it makes mom happy."
'Not been close is an understatement.' She gritted her teeth and managed somewhat of a smile. "Philip, of course it's not you. Work has just been exhausting lately."
"So you'll be there this week?" As he relaxed and leaned back in his chair, he hit his keys with his elbow and knocked them off his desk. He absentmindedly tossed them back on his desk while waiting for his sister's commitment on dinner.
As Lisa opened her mouth to assure him, a knock interrupted her. "Sorry, Philip, but I have a client on the phone and I need an answer to a question."
"I'll be back in a minute." Philip left his office, pulling the door closed behind him.
'Bless you.' Lisa thought as she used the opportunity to snatch her brother's keys from the desk and drop them into her purse. When Philip returned, she assured him that she would be there Thursday night. Raven and John had planned on using the family dinner to get into Philip's condo and set up their equipment and Lisa was supposed to let them know when he left the restaurant heading home.
"I'll call mother and let her know since I need to call her anyway to cancel lunch tomorrow. One of the nurses asked to trade off days this week." She explained as he walked her out to the elevators.
Lisa sprinted out of the building and around the corner to the meet John. She handed over the keys explaining that she didn't know which ones were which. John sat in back of the van and cut duplicates of each one as Lisa nervously paced. He handed back the originals and she headed back towards Philip's office.
She met her brother in the lobby. "I was just on my way back up. I must have picked up your keys when I left, thinking they were mine." She held them out for him.
"I know, I was going to try to catch up with you." Philip took them and headed back for the elevator. "I'll see you Thursday."
"You look a little apprehensive." Raven stated to her sister who was pacing back and forth in front of the window.
"I am." Lisa admitted. "Not because of what we're doing, but I'm worried that I'll let my temper get the better of me and I'll say something I shouldn't and give us away."
"You'll be okay." Kris walked over to join her at the window. They were at Lisa's apartment waiting on John. "Just think about him finally having to admit what a lying son of a bitch he's been and it'll make having to deal with him tonight worthwhile."
"That might get me through." Lisa sighed as she opened the door before John could knock. She had seen him heading towards the house while she had paced at the window.
John had heard the sigh and misinterpreted it. He thought that she might be feeling a little guilty since she was dating a cop and what they were doing was against the law. He knew from their discussions earlier that she had wanted to include Andy in their plans until Raven had pointed out that Andy would have to arrest them for what they were about to do. "Don't worry, Lisa. A famous writer once said, 'To do a great right, do a little wrong. And curb this cruel devil of his will.'" He stated dramatically.
Lisa looked at him strangely.
"He likes to quote Shakespeare." Raven explained. "Unfortunately his delivery needs a little work." She said as she walked past John and into the hallway.
Kris followed her. "The Merchant of Venice wasn't one of my favorites." She told John as she slipped past him. "I like the comedies."
"Yeah me too." Raven waited on Kris before she started for the stairs. "A Midsummer-Nights Dream is more my style."
"I'm beginning to think that I'm the only person in the world that doesn't read this guy." Lisa said while closing and locking her door.
"Nope, there's two of us." John whispered as Lisa descended the stairs beside him. "Don't tell your sister, but I really don't like it." He admitted. "I only started reading it because Sharon does. And because it drives your sister crazy when I start spouting quotes."
Lisa laughed. "Your secret's safe with me." She assured him as they joined the other two waiting beside the van.
Lisa stayed mostly calm through dinner; the only thing that betrayed her turmoil was the constant checking of her watch.
"Is there somewhere else you need to be?" Cynthia asked, exasperated by her daughter's lack of interest in her companions and conversation. "Are we keeping you from something?"
"Or someone?" Philip laughed. "A hot date maybe?"
"I do not have a date, Philip." Lisa felt like kicking him. She knew it would give her mother an excuse to quiz her, not that she had ever needed one before.
"I would have thought that you would have met someone by now." Cynthia directed her comments to her daughter. "Are there no nice young eligible doctors at that hospital you work in?"
"Mother." Lisa said tiredly. "I've explained to you before that it's not like the soap operas you watch. We all have a job to do and our patients depend on us doing that job to the best of our ability, not flirting with the doctors. And besides, a lot of the doctors now-a-days are women."
Surprisingly her mother didn't dwell on doctors, eligible or otherwise and Lisa was able to tune out most of the conversation that accompanied dessert.
Lisa said a hasty goodnight and quickly left before her mother could make Philip offer to drive her home. She waited around the corner for her brother to leave and dialed Raven's cell phone number to alert them. She then waited on the van to pick her up. "Did you have enough time?" She asked as she climbed in the front passenger side door.
"Yes." John answered as he pulled back into traffic. "We've tested the equipment and everything's working. So tomorrow night, we'll rig his office and be all set."
Raven was sitting quietly in the back seat with Kris. Being in her brother's place had upset her more than she thought it would have. She saw photos of Cynthia, Philip and Lisa together as a family, but none of her or Derek. It was like the two of them never existed. She knew she should have expected nothing less but she was bothered by the fact that Philip could so easily dismiss them and his guilt.
Kris, aware of the distress her lover was in, snuggled up next to Raven. "Do you still want to go through with this?" She asked in a low voice so that Raven was the only one to hear.
She managed a slight smile. "Yes, I do. I think I've figured out that I need some sort of closure with Philip and my mother. Maybe this will bring it about." Raven also spoke softly.
"And if it doesn't?"
"We'll cross that bridge if we have to. Let's see what happens with this first." She put her arm around her partner's shoulders and pulled her close.
"Okay, Taz." Kris patted the hard stomach her hand rested against. "But if this doesn't work, I'll just hafta go rough him up some."
Raven started laughing and told the two sets of eyes staring at her that 'Rocky' here had offered to play the 'muscle' and beat up Philip for them. It was the perfect distraction to the tense situation and allowed everybody to relax.
They had set Saturday night as the first night of their campaign but had to postpone until Sunday since Philip decided not to co-operate by going out.
Sunday night found the gang, this time including Granny, headed toward the van that Raven had dubbed 'Mystery Machine' which she admittedly stole from the Scooby cartoon and by some strange coincidence, was painted green.
Raven tossed John the keys. "You drive, Freddie."
John caught them against his chest. "Hey, whose Freddie?"
"He was the tall blonde-haired all-American type guy." Kris answered. "In the cartoon." She clarified when John looked at her in confusion.
"Oh, well that fits." He mumbled as he jogged to catch up. "I can see how you arrived at that analogy, I mean we must be mirror images." He chuckled when his boss stuck her tongue out at him.
"Hey, can I be Velma?" Granny asked as the crew climbed into the van. "I always liked her and I've already got the glasses."
"Of course you can." Lisa stated. She remembered watching one of the Scooby movies with the kids when she was working the children's ward. "She's the smart one, right?"
"Jenkies, thanks guys." Granny's statement was greeted with rolling eyes and shaking heads. "Hey, I was just getting into character."
"You can be Daphne." Raven spoke up and patted Kris' knee.
Kris crossed her arms over her chest. "Isn't she the klutz?"
The warning tone in her partner's voice told Raven that she had better come up with a good response. "She's the pretty one."
"Nice save." Lisa stated and the others laughed. "I claim Shaggy." She quickly added after realizing which two characters were left to chose from.
"But you're not tall enough." Granny protested.
"But she is skinny enough." Raven countered.
Kris chuckled. "Well, we all know which one that leaves for you, hound dog." She turned her head to stare at her companion.
"Hey." Raven stated indignantly. "He's a Great Dane not a hound dog."
John pulled into a parking space on the street behind the building where Philip's condo was located. "We're here." He announced and the others quieted down.
"Okay, let's see what the jackass is doing." Raven unfastened her seat belt and moved to the back of the van. She flipped the switches on the monitors as the others gathered around. "What the fuck is that?" She asked in disbelief.
Five pairs of eyes stared at the screen that gave them an unobstructed view of the living room. Several seconds past in stunned silence then a somewhat weak version of the Tarzan yell blasted through the speakers.
"Oh my god." Lisa mumbled as she shook her head. John snickered and Granny put her hand over her mouth to keep for laughing out loud.