Disclaimers: All characters referenced in this story are mine and mine alone. Any similarities between them and anyone else living, dead, or fictional, is purely accidental/coincidental. Basically, hands off without my permission-pretty please.
Warnings: No violence, sorry. This does involve a look at loving relationships between women. If this is not your style, you are under 18, or if this is not legal where you live: Either don’t read it, don’t get caught reading it, or forget you ever saw this stuff.
For those who think lesbianism is wrong -sorry, perhaps one day after we cure stuff like cancer and AIDS we’ll work on stupidity-until then, don’t read and don’t flame.
Sex: Of course-not in all sections but it does happen now and again.
Sue: Always for you!
Anything I missed? Fill in the blanks or email me.
All comments, questions, suggestions and nice stuff are LOVED!
Sharon sat in shock, unsure if she was hearing correctly. “So, you’re telling me that you are in a serious relationship with the woman who was your subordinate? Is that what I’m hearing Jay? And on top of it, you need to take off for potentially serious surgery?”
With a mild look of embarrassment, Jay nodded.
“And you, Bailey, dated your supervisor for months, and now that you are essentially peers, you want to take off time to be with her during this surgery and her recovery? Exactly how am I to explain that to my bosses?”
Bailey nodded and opened her mouth to make a suggestion, but Sharon continued her rant. “The whole point of having the two overlapping positions was to avoid a lack of coverage like this one. People already realize you two are close friends but car-pooling is one thing, sitting in the hospital all day is another! What a freakin’ mess you two have made.” Sharon collapsed into her leather chair with a groan.
At that Jay stood up, her eyes blazing and spoke sharply. “Sharon, that is enough already! I admit it wasn’t the best move to date someone in my chain of command, but let’s face facts. Our beloved CEO married his secretary that he was screwing on company time, while he was still married to the woman that helped fund this company to begin with! Ethics shouldn’t be a factor here. We are two consenting adults and are more professional in here than half the staff. This company has been lucky not to get hit with more sexual harassment lawsuits.” Pausing, Jay visibly refocused her thoughts and spoke more calmly as she continued. “Now, this is my surgery we’re talking about, my life for God sakes! Is it too much to ask that you be a little sensitive about that?”
Bailey sat there in silence, cheering Jay on in her head and smiling proudly at her. Jay remained standing waiting for Sharon’s reply.
“You’ve made your point Jay, but I thought I made mine five years ago. Keep your personal stuff personal and don’t bring your life in here. This could kill your advancement in this company if it gets out, for both of you.”
Jay snorted, “I’ve gotten higher already than I expected. I really don’t want to go any higher and deal with the crap you deal with every day. If they want to take away my division, they can have it. I have to worry about possibly having cancer and you want to shove me in a closet? Plenty of people here know I’m gay Sharon. I honestly thought you might have learned by now that it doesn’t matter to anyone but you.” At that, Jay seemed to lose some steam and took a seat next to Bailey, shaking her head slowly.
Sharon looked over at Bailey and nodded, “Go ahead, I’m sure you have plenty to say as well.”
“I think Jay did a great job, but I will add this, I am going to have the time off I need to be with her. I am willing to keep my Blackberry with me and handle things remotely as much as I can. During her recuperation, I will work from her house until she is well enough to be on her own during the day. As she regains strength, she can back me up from home. I’ll come in if I have to, for quick meetings or run out to a branch, but not the first couple of days. That is my offer, if you don’t go for it, then I’m leaving here to file a complaint with HR and I’ll be calling my lawyer as soon as I leave for lunch.”
It was Jay’s turn to look on in admiration and amazement. She gave Bailey a look full of love and pride, not caring that Sharon was standing right there.
Sharon sighed and stood to pace as she thought quickly. She looked at the two women before her and wondered how it happened, in her department of all places. Sharon realized that this was her chance to start effecting the changes that she had felt welling up in her for months. She wasn’t sure how, but she was going to try to help them, if she could do it without endangering herself.
“Since I’m not insensitive to the situation, and I do appreciate you trusting me with this information, let’s try this for now. Jay, obviously your medical leave will be approved with no questions asked and I do hope it turns out to be nothing but a scare.” She paused, wondering how she was going to justify this next part to her superiors, the CEO, CFO, and the COO.
“Bailey, you will be off for the day of the surgery and the following two days with a third if it is needed. I will need you to work from home, um, I mean Jay’s house once she’s home and recovering, but the teams you two have will be fine during the day of her surgery. Take that day off entirely please, other than to call me and let me know how everything goes. If there is anything I can do, please let me know. All I ask in return is that we keep this as quiet as possible, and keep the lines of communication open between us.”
Jay looked at Sharon and then at Bailey in disbelief. “That’s it? No lectures about closets, glass ceilings, or hate mongers?”
Sharon grimaced. “I admit, five years ago I was more concerned than I am now. You were right before. Less people seem to care these days. Maybe I have some more thinking to do about that, but for now, let’s focus on you. Your situation is a little tougher because of the supervisory relationship the two of you had before this restructure. We’ll deal with it as it comes. Now, get out of here, go make us some money. And Jay?”
Jay looked over at her as she stood from her chair.
“I really do hope this turns out to be a scare and nothing more. Let me know if you need anything, okay?”
Jay nodded, “Thanks Sharon.”
“See, I told you it would work,” prodded Bailey. Jay nodded absently, wondering what had caused Sharon to buckle so easily. She mentally shrugged her shoulders and answered Bailey,
“I’m surprised, but happy of course. Now we just have to get things ready for us to be out. Prep your team and I’ll prep mine. We’ll meet with both teams Monday to let them know that I’ll be out of the office for at least a week and let’s just tell them what Sharon suggested about you.”
The cover story Sharon came up with was that Bailey was already registered for a series of executive workshops offsite, and would only be available during breaks for a few days. Since the surgery was a recent item, it couldn’t be helped and the teams would have to pull together and cover things for a few days. With that, they parted ways, heading towards their respective offices and piles of paperwork and messages to return.
The day before her surgery, Jay was trying to block everything out but work. She arrived at work a couple of hours early and started clearing her inbox as quickly as she could. She was so engrossed in her laptop that she didn’t even hear the first knock on her door. When she heard the second, louder, knock she raised her head, slightly disoriented when she realized it was already ten in the morning.
“Come in” she called as she straightened up her desk. Looking up she was surprised to see Sharon enter and close the door.
“Jay, I just wanted to let you know that I hope everything goes well tomorrow and you two will be in my thoughts. I know I’m a hard ass at times, but I really like and respect both of you.” Sharon started pacing like a caged animal, “I’m simply not as brave as you two are, I could never have faced off with my boss the way you did with me.”
Jay smiled, surprised by Sharon’s admissions. “Sharon, part of what made it easier to talk to you was that you have been a decent boss, hard and tough, but fair. Also, knowing your personal situation, well, I suspected that things would go either very well or very badly. Thankfully, they went well. I’m sorry if we put you in a bad spot, but we’ve loved each other since we were kids and we were lucky enough to get together now. I’m willing to risk everything to keep her in my life now. Do you understand?”
Sharon stopped pacing and nodded, smiling sadly. “I respect you and your choices. I’ll back you up as much as I can, but I think we view the powers that be here very differently. Maybe, since I have no one to go home to at night, I just don’t think it’s worth the fight. Either way, I’m happy that you two are happy together, and I’m grateful you’ve been so discrete at work.”
“Hey, professional is the only way to be here, perhaps one day you can come out to dinner with us. Who knows, maybe you’ll get a chance to reconnect with your other self.” Jay was feeling bold since she was going into the hospital the next day. “Either way, thanks for helping us Sharon, I won’t forget it.” Sharon wished her luck again, reminded her that she wanted updates, and left her to her work.
A few members of the team either stopped in or e-mailed throughout the day to wish her luck and let her know she was in their prayers. By the end of the day, she was sick of good wishes, work, and people in general. Jay slammed her briefcase on to the desk so she could load her laptop into it and grimaced. It wasn’t the briefcase’s fault that she was so grumpy. She was nervous and needed to relax. She had been warned to stay away from alcohol and most medication for the week prior to the surgery but Jay decided she knew the perfect cure for her jitters.
Just then, Bailey showed up, to see if Jay was ready to leave for the day. They hefted their briefcases, loaded with laptops, cables, and paperwork and headed for the garage. They stopped by the Thai place near Jay’s and got take out, before heading back to the condo. Bailey got dinner on the table while Jay shucked off her business clothes in favor of sweats and a tee shirt. Bailey took a minute to change as well, while Jay finished setting the table and turning on some Loreena Mckinnet.
Bailey came back in the room, listened to the music and smiled. Jay was so predictable. She always played Loreena when she had something important to discuss. They sat down, passed the food back and forth, and made small talk for a while, skirting any major issues until after dinner. They cleaned up in a companionable silence and then went to the living room with some herbal tea.
“So, when are you going to tell me what’s on your mind?” asked Bailey. Jay looked up and smiled at her lover.
“You think you know me so well, don’t you?” Jay stuck her tongue out at Bailey before laughing and admitting something was on her mind.
“I know it’s a little fast but I was wondering, since you spend so much time here, I mean, would you, what would you think of movinginwithme?” she asked, finishing in a big rush of words. Smooth, she thought as she waited, holding her breath, for Bailey to respond. Thankfully, Bailey had seen this coming. In fact, she had thought of suggesting it herself, but she understood that Jay needed to suggest it.
“Honey, are you sure? I’m more than happy to move but I want to make sure you’re ready. I’m fine with keeping my place even if I’m not there much.”
Jay’s heart fell a little, “You want to keep your place?”
“Jay, I didn’t mean it like that honey.” Bailey pulled Jay into her arms, “I simply meant if you wanted me to, then I would, as a safety net. But if you’re sure, I can give my notice to my landlord anytime, it’s a month to month lease, so it isn’t a problem.”
Jay jumped up, almost knocking over the tea and the coffee table, and she pulled Bailey up with her.
“I’ve never been more certain of anything Bailey! I want you with me for the rest of our lives and I don’t want to wait anymore. How about you bring what you need over while we’re off from work, and then after I’m better we’ll pack you up and move you in. There’s a storage unit in the basement we can use for any overflow until we get it all unpacked and arranged.” Bailey laughed as her lover swept her up in her arms and carried her to the, no she corrected herself, their, bedroom.
Jay was shocked awake by her alarm and she realized that she had actually gotten some sleep. Of course, it helped that there had been plenty of activity when they first went to bed and that Bailey held her tightly all night. She gently kissed Bailey awake.
“Honey, it’s time to get up if we’re going to take showers before we head out.”
Bailey groaned, it was only three forty five in the morning and her body needed more sleep. She rolled out of bed and padded after Jay, deciding that she would at least take a shower with her lover before they had to leave.
They arrived at the hospital just before five in the morning and checked in before they were directed to the surgical section where a nurse greeted them. She took Jay back to a pre-operative room to change into the standard hospital gown and footies.
“Jay, I’m Sara your pre-op nurse this morning. I need you to change into this gown, ties in the front please, and then hop into bed. I’ll be right back to get you settled in and ready for this morning. Is there anything I can get you before I step out?”
Jay grimaced and put her iPod and headphones down on the bed. “I’m fine, but when can my partner come back? She can sit with me before they take me in, right?”
“Of course, Dr. Brown already left instructions about that for us. Hospital rules are no family while I get the IV started, but after that, I’ll get her for you. Now, go ahead and change, I’ll be back in just a second.”
Just as Jay pulled the light blanket up, Sara came back in wheeling a cart. The cart had everything from a laptop to paraphernalia for taking blood pressure and starting IV’s. Jay nervously shifted and clutched a little tighter at her iPod.
“First things first. Let’s get you set up in the system. I’m just going to run through a few questions. Just let me know if anything has changed.”
Quickly Sara finished the questions and Jay’s registration. The question and answer session also gave Jay a chance to refocus and relax a little bit. She felt the muscles in her shoulders start to loosen and sighed in relief.
Sara looked up as she heard Jay sigh. “All right? We’re almost done, I promise. I just have to do a quick exam and start the IV. Then we can get your partner in here. What’s her name?”
As Jay answered Sara was taking Jay’s pulse and blood pressure. Sara asked a few more questions as she finished her work.
“All set. Ready for me to get Bailey?”
Jay looked astonished. “That’s it? You’re done? I didn’t even notice you stick me!”
Sara smiled softly as she replied, “I’m all done other than checking in on you now and then. Let me go get the reason you were so easy to distract in here for you.” She patted Jay on the foot as she pushed her cart ahead of her and out the door.
Moments later, Bailey stuck her head in the door and saw Jay reclined in the bed with her eyes closed and her headphones in place. She started to move into the room as Jay opened her eyes.
“I’m sorry baby, get some rest. I didn’t mean to wake you.” Bailey took a seat next to Jay’s bed and smiled tremulously.
“I was awake, just waiting for you. The nurse said that Dr. Brown has it in my chart that you are my partner and to give you access. He’s pretty cool, huh?”
Bailey leaned over and gave Jay’s hand a light squeeze. “Yeah, but the real test of how cool he is will be the scar. I wonder if he’s going to give you a nice sexy pirate type of scar.”
Jay smiled, noting the twinkle in Bailey’s eyes. “I’ll make sure to request something sexy when I see him in Pre-op baby, just for you.”
“Thanks. Now, why don’t you put on your headphones while we wait. Get some rest and I’ll be here for you.”
“You don’t want to talk?”
“Is there something you wanted to talk about honey? If so, then sure. Otherwise, you don’t have to entertain me. I’m fine, this is about you, okay?”
Jay gently kissed her partner’s knuckles before she put her headphones back on. “You’re right, I’m just being silly. I should do those breathing exercises and stuff I guess.” Before hitting the play button she looked up once more. “You know I love you, right Bail? I mean, if anything does happen—“
“Nothing is going to happen honey, I need you to know that. But yeah, I know you love me and I love you. We’re going to be fine. I’m here no matter what. Get some rest sweetie”
Jay tried to relax, using breathing methods that she had learned in Yoga, and she listened to her music. Thankfully, they were both still tired and managed naps while holding hands. The next thing Jay knew, they were waking her and having her hand over all valuables to Bailey. She removed the necklace that Riley had given her, and had Bailey put it on to wear for safekeeping. After passing over her iPod and headset, she gave Bailey a hug and kiss as they reassured each other that everything would be fine.
Jay was wheeled into the recovery area that also doubled as the holding area for patients about to go in. She met with the anesthesiologist, who gave her some medication through her IV to start her body’s relaxation for surgery. Dr. Brown also came by with one of his residents to check on her before they went in to scrub.
“All set Jay?”
“Sure thing Doc. You know what you’re doing, right?”
He laughed, “Yes, but I still have trouble getting the ear back on correctly. I’ll try to make sure yours is on straight for you.”
Jay chuckled, amazed that she could find humor right before surgery. “You do that Doc. I just got a great pair of sunglasses, and I would hate for them to look unbalanced!”
“Anything for you Jay. Now you get comfortable while we go scrub. Any questions?”
“Well, Bailey did want me to ask if you could make my scar a sexy pirate type scar…but other than that? Nope, just do a good job and get it all out Doc. Thanks again.”
“My pleasure Jay. I’ll see you in there. I’ll be the handsome guy behind the mask.”
Jay grinned at him as he walked away, hoping that he was as talented with a scalpel as he was with his bedside manner. Just then, the operating room technicians came over to wheel her in to the surgical room. She looked around and saw the bright lights and trays with covers on them. The anesthesiologist leaned over and adjusted her head slightly.
“Jay, we’re going to start some medicine in your IV to make you sleep. You might feel a little burning as it goes in.”
Jay nodded and almost immediately felt the slight burn but it passed quickly. She heard the anesthesiologist talk again, but he was starting to sound strange, like he was very far away.
“Jay, we’re going to give you some gas to help you sleep. Can you count backward from one hundred for me please?”
“One hundred, ninety nine, ninety eight, ninety …” With that, Jay drifted off.
“Jay, wake up, can you hear me?” Jay struggled to open her eyes, hearing the voice and not knowing where it came from. “C’mon Jay, wake up, the surgery is over and it went very well. You’re in the recovery room.” Slowly the face of a male nurse floated into view. Jay felt a mask being removed from her face, as the nurse explained, “We had you on humidified oxygen to ease any soreness in your throat from the tube. How are you feeling?”
“Sleepy” Jay croaked. The nurse gave her a couple of ice chips to ease the dryness in her mouth and took her vitals. After a little while, with Jay dozing on and off, they wheeled her bed to a hospital room where she found Bailey waiting for her.
“How do you feel baby?” asked Bailey.
Jay gave her a tired smile and mumbled, “I’m fine, just tired, and sore.”
The nurse, hearing the sore part, said, “I’ll go get your pain medication now. Anytime you are having pain, just let us know. We’re going to do our best to keep you as pain free as we can.”
After the nurse left, Jay asked Bailey, “How bad do I look?”
Bailey took a moment, and looked her over. “You look tired and there is a bandage. There is also a rubber tube attached to a ball like thing, I guess it’s a drain of some kind.”
“Did you see the Doc?” asked Jay.
Bailey nodded, “He came out to see me after the surgery. He said that the frozen section they looked at was cancerous. It looks like some form of lymphoma, but they’ll know more after the lab has more time to examine it. He said he’d be by in a while to talk to you about everything.” She watched Jay carefully for her reaction to the news.
Jay slowly turned her head a little to the right to look more closely at Bailey.
“I really have cancer?” she asked in small voice.
Bailey tried to look reassuring, even though she was terrified.
“It’s going to be alright honey. Lymphoma is very treatable, especially if we got it early. I looked it up on the Internet while you were in recovery. That Blackberry came in handy after all. We’ll beat it, and I’ll be with you every step of the way. Our parents are outside waiting to see you. They wanted to let us have a few minutes alone first. Do you want me to get them?”
Jay looked shell shocked as she whispered, “Cancer? I have cancer?”
A lone tear escaped Jay’s right eye. Bailey leaned over and gently kissed it away while doing her best to keep from letting her own tears slip out.
Jay looked shell shocked by the news and she closed her eyes. Bailey wasn’t sure if she had nodded off or not, so she pulled a chair over and sat next to the bed, holding Jay’s hand in her own.
Bailey replayed the scene in her head, the moment she found out the results.
Bailey was sitting between her mother and Laura. They were flanked in turn by their husbands. Everyone was trying to remain positive and upbeat, but the surgery seemed to be taking longer than they expected. The atmosphere was tense, everyone wondering what was in store for the young women in the operating room.
The door to the waiting room swung open and a man wearing scrubs came in and zeroed in on Bailey. Bailey stood as he approached.
“Doctor Brown? What happened? Why did it take so long?”
“Let’s sit down a moment. She’s in recovery and doing fine. I promise. But I think we should talk about what happens next. I assume these are your parents and Jay’s Parents?”
Bailey nodded and made the introductions as they all sat down. The doctor pulled a chair over sat with them.
“The surgery itself went very well. The tumor was encapsulated so we were able to get the whole thing out, but due to the placement we did take her parotid gland.” He motioned to the area under the left jaw as he continued. “That means she has only one salivary gland on the left side, but that isn’t a big deal. I also took one lymph node that looked suspect. The frozen section of the tumor came back malignant.” He paused and looked carefully at Bailey.
Bailey was surprised. She knew it was likely cancer after all the research she had done online but it was still hard to hear that her partner had cancer. She looked over at her parents for support before she lifted her eyes to meet Doctor Brown’s gaze.
“Cancer. What do we do now? I won’t lose her Doctor, tell me what we do next.”
HE spent a little bit of time going over the process to ensure that Bailey understood things. After answering everyone’s immediate questions he excused himself to get into his next case and promised to drop in on Jay later in her room.
Bailey turned to Helen and buried her face in her mother’s neck. She sobbed for what felt like hours but was probably only a few minutes. After she pulled herself together, the five people who loved Jay most in the world started to strategize to get Jay through her battle.
Jay wasn’t sleeping. She was trying to figure things out in her head. She thought, how could I have cancer? I’m usually pretty healthy. Why now? I finally have my life on track; I finally have love and success at work. She couldn’t wrap her mind around this just yet. She knew going in that it was a possibility, but she hadn’t really considered it. I just asked Bailey to move in with her, how would that affect things? Jay’s mind was spinning and her eyes opened to find Bailey looking back at her with love blazing in her sparkling emerald eyes. There was very little sign of fear, just strength and love.
“We’ll get through this babe, right?” asked Jay.
“Of course honey, it’s just a set back. All that this means is that you’re going to have to work from home a little more in the future depending on what the treatments will be. I’m still moving in and we will still be together.” Suddenly, a thought occurred to Bailey, “You still want that, don’t you Jay?”
Jay was worn out but she nodded, “I don’t think it’s fair to you, but I’m going to be selfish. I need you with me more than ever. Please don’t change our plans babe.”
Bailey smiled and laced her fingers through Jay’s. “Never honey, I’m moving in and it will take dynamite to get me out!”
Jay gave her a tired grin and then asked, “Why don’t you let in our folks? They must be freaking out.”
A couple of hours later, long after their parents had gone for the day, Dr. Brown came in the room with his resident. The resident checked the drains while the doctor looked through her chart quickly. He looked over his handiwork and removed the bandage so they could apply a salve and leave it open to the air. At that point, he was ready to talk with Jay.
He looked her in the eye and said, “I’m sorry, but the lab did send back a result of possible lymphoma from the frozen section they did while you were in surgery.”
As he related the details of the surgery, Jay steeled herself for what would come next.
“What questions can I answer for you?” Dr. Brown asked.
Jay took a breath trying to gather her thoughts and questions. “What is the next step? What do I do about it?”
“The first thing is, heal and rest from the surgery. We’ll wait for the lab to bring back a full report on all the sections removed and when I get those results, I’ll have you come in to go over them with me. We’re most likely looking at Hodgkin’s or something similar, and the success rate of treatment in early detection Hodgkin’s is about 95%.”
“Right, so I rest, then you call me, and we meet with you. Should I find an oncologist in the meantime?”
“Not yet, though if you want to get referrals, you can of course. All an oncologist will do for now is wait for the lab results, just as we are. I know you want to get this done right away but there will be a little bit of a wait which your body needs anyway to heal, before anything else can be done.” He paused and put his hand on her right shoulder, “Jay, you are a trooper and you came through this splendidly. I have no reason to doubt that you will continue to do so. Get some rest and I’ll be back tomorrow to remove your drain and send you home, if all looks good.” She nodded and thanked him, closing her eyes as he left the room.
Jay had been home for a couple of hours when she got a delivery of flowers from Sharon. Bailey had filled Sharon in after they got Jay back from the hospital. Jay thought the flowers were a nice gesture and Sharon had been supportive when they talked by phone that evening.
Riley was pitching in, helping Bailey move her things over to the condo this afternoon. Jay was grateful for Riley’s help, since she was still too tired. Jay was also under strict orders to not lift more than five pounds for another week.
Jay tried to focus on her work laptop, sorting through e-mails and answering those she needed to as succinctly as possible. Thankfully as a senior officer, she was able to get into the intranet with a special password and her laptop from anywhere she was, making it easier to take her time recovering. Her neck was still swollen and the stitches weren’t due to come out for a couple of days. She wasn’t going back to work at least until after the stitches were out. She contacted HR by e-mail, explaining the situation, as she knew it, and they had assured it was fine for her to take the time she needed. Jay decided she needed something to lose herself in not to bury herself in, so she gave up on the laptop and picked up a book and started reading.
Continued in Part 11
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