Chapter 27

Michelle looked out at the yard with a soft smile as she watched the playful Husky prance around. To bad I wasn't able to bring any of his toys with me. I bet he misses them.

With a quick glance, she peered at the carrier, seeing that the baby was still asleep. Her smile grew. The weather was getting warmer in minute fashion, but with the frigidity of the past few months, anything was an improvement. It was somewhere between chill and warm, giving her the chance to bring a bundled up Toby outside under the light blue skies. The blonde lifted her face slightly, letting the rays of the sun warm her countenance. I know what standing in the sun feels like now both literally and figuratively.

Again, she peered upward into the virtually cloudless sky. The few patches of white were devoured by the stronger blue. Michelle brought her knees closer to her body and her gaze closer to the ground as she watched the patchy grass sift in the wind and cars roll by obscuring the colourful houses from view from time to time.

A gentle wind caught short, blonde bangs, parting them and blowing them to mix with their sister tresses, and even though it swallowed her, she pulled the red wind-breaker tighter to her body. It was Bobbi's, and in her absence, wearing it made the blonde feel close to her friend. She brought the collar up, giving her a whiff of the doctor's spicy scent. It warmed her inside.

This day only added to the enjoyment of the week. Her morning that now included Bobbi had become customary and ritualistic. Feeding Toby, watching television, and spending time with Billy had taken on the whole new meaning, with the aid of the doctor. Michelle reveled and the normalcy, loving the sweaty workout; the talkative preparation of breakfast as well as its consumption; and the laughs they shared in front of the TV and over Toby. This is what my life should have been like. This is my life now.

Despite the incident with the police, she relished the changing elements and the free time. The past week had been one of unbelievable highs. After discussing plans of probable escape that included gathering maps of nearby states, packing emergency bags, pooling cash and food as well as making sure the Caddy was from now on, completely gassed up, a day that could have been one of ruin turned into one of incredible discovery.

This must be what an infant feels like coming into the world where things and experiences are so new, but I'm not a child. I'm a woman coming into her own. I don't think anything can stop that now. Like a child on the most fantastic adventure, Michelle went to the library laden with excitement and fear. The fear was conquered, leaving the excitement that lured her back everyday of the previous week.

With a small hand at the small of her back, generating warmth through her jacket, Michelle slowly pulled open the door of the non-descript building and took a tentative step inside. She glared wide-eyed around the cluttered building, taking in the rows of polished shelves, strategically placed tables, revolving stands of paper backs, even the soft blue of the carpeting.

The hand that had been holding the blonde's on the way over began to move in small soothing circles when Michelle stiffened as several people brushed by them to get to the exit. They stood there, a few feet inside the door one impossibly small woman toting a baby carrier and her tall, dark, taciturn companion, absorbing the stares from behind the check out desk as well as from the other patrons.

After a few tense moments, almost everyone returned to their previous activities. Michelle's bunched muscles relaxed as Bobbi leaned forward to whisper in the blonde's ear. "Where to first?"

Michelle turned her head quickly, searching for a place to start. "I don't know. There's so much—" Her voice trailed off in the face of an excited flush. 'How can I be scared and excited at the same time?' She asked herself.

"How about we go see if Nora Roberts has anything new?" The blonde nodded enthusiastically but still looked at the small bustling crowd warily. She swallowed hard, hoping to quell the acid like taste creeping into her mouth. Small palms began to sweat to go along with a quickly pumping heart.

"There's. . .people." 'So many people.' Leaning in again, the raven haired doctor murmured into a small shell shaped ear.

"They don't know you. They don't recognize you, and I'm almost sure no one will bother you. I know its been a while, but just shut them out. It's only the three of us just like at home. This is your big test. You can do this."

Michelle bit her lip in silent contemplation and turned toward her friend, reading the reassurance, confidence and pride that she needed. She gave Bobbi a quiet nod, and resisted the urge to take her friend's hand in thanks.

The doctor smiled wide and proud. "Okay good. Let's head to a computer and look her up. Remember, I'm right beside you as long as you need me."

Sitting the carrier, containing the sleeping baby, on top of the table and having a seat themselves, the two women searched diligently. Michelle listened patiently as Bobbi explained how to use the system. Jade eyes lit up when she spied three recent novels. "There are three new ones and some old ones that I never heard of," Michelle exclaimed excitedly.

Bobbi patted her friend's shoulder. "Yeah, I see. Let's write down where to find them, and let me check on something then I'll go with you."

"Um. . ." It was the moment of truth, a moment and a step she had to take alone to see how sturdy her constitution was. She took the steps on shaky legs with hesitancy present in her voice. "Uhm, I-"

"What's wrong?"

"I want to see if I can handle this on my own." 'Here goes nothing,' the little voice in her head whispered.

Blue and green met sharing the same emotions of fear, apprehension and gusto. "You sure? I'm worried that—"

Michelle reached over to squeeze the brunette's shoulder. "Let me. I'll find you if I need to. Look after Toby for me?" Bobbi swallowed and nodded. Without another word, Michelle stepped into the world she had been avoiding.

Breath and blood roared in her ears, and Michelle peered from the corner of her eye into each aisle as if waiting for the boogieman to appear. The sweat returned to her palms, and the blonde rubbed them together as she moved slowly to her destination.

Every sound echoed, nearing cacophonous proportions—-the whispers of the remaining patrons and the whir of computers, copiers and fax machines. The subdued lighting did not touch everywhere, leaving long shadows that fast became menacing in the blonde's eyes. 'I know I can do this.'

Michelle cringed, waiting for the worst, but then she was there, seeing familiar letters at the end of the shelf. The worst was over. The invisible barrier of fear had been breached. There were no monsters, no evil shadows. Michelle let out a long breath and formed a tremulous smile as she skimmed the shelves. She brushed the spines of books old and new and took in the overwhelming smell of knowledge at her fingertips. 'I could live in here.'

It was a smell she could get used to. With each step came a measure of ease and growing excitement that blossomed when she found the books that she was looking for. Wanting to share it all with the brunette, Michelle searched for her, finding the doctor a few aisles over with her nose buried in a book and Toby at her feet. "Bobbi! I found all kinds of stuff, and I—"

The dark-haired woman let out an ungraceful squeal and almost jumped a foot in the air at the sound of her companion's voice. "Ahh!" She put a hand over her speeding heart and turned to glare into green eyes alight with mirth.

"Uhmm," Michelle chuckled. "Sorry." The chuckle turned into an all out laugh.

Pale blue eyes narrowed then widened as they to in her relaxed looking friend. "Har, har." The mock laugh turned into a real one. They both jumped when a prim looking woman rounded the corner and shushed them vehemently. After she disappeared, more laughter ensued.

Getting the last snicker out, Bobbi asked, "Having fun?"

With flushed face and shining eyes, Michelle looked ready to jump out of her skin. "Yeah! Found a whole row of Nora along with some other people who sounded good. I'm going to need your help to carry them all. I—"

Bobbi chuckled. "Whoa, down girl. You can only check out four books at a time." The blonde's face fell a little. "But we can come here as fast as you can read them."

"Tomorrow?" Michelle asked with a slight smile.

"Everyday if you want."

"Great! I want to." Michelle grabbed her friend's hand. "You can help me decide what to get today." Picking up Toby's carrier, Bobbi followed.

Minutes later, they stood in front of the check-out counter, waiting for the woman behind it to get off the phone. Bobbi fished out her card from her jean pocket and again found her hand at the small of the blonde's back, offering comfort if it was needed.

Finally, the older curly haired blonde woman turned to them and smiled winningly at them both. "Ready?" Instead of replying, Bobbi sat the four books, including her own, on top of the counter. The doctor glanced at the blonde, seeing her pulling the blanket over a now awake and squirming Toby, then back at the clerk as she handed the woman her card.

"Nora Roberts, huh?" Bobbi looked at the woman and blinked in confusion. The eccentric looking clerk pointed at the books, making the bangles around her wrist clang.

"Oh, sorry those are hers." The brunette indicated with a flip of her head.

The clerk craned her neck to get a look at the baby. "Cute baby." She held up the books. "These are pretty good, but her old ones are much better."

Startled that she was being talked to, Michelle backed into her friend then turned to her for guidance and got nothing except for an ‘it's up to you look.' Their gazes held until Michelle broke it. The confidence she carried with her earlier returned. Tentatively, she turned toward the clerk, "Uhm, you think so?"

The woman smiled and nodded. "Yeah, for the past few years her stuff seemed to be rushed and not as well developed as it used to be."

"Uh, I'll have to watch out for that."

"If I'm at work the next time you come, I can pick you out some really good ones." The clerk added as she put the books in a plastic bag and shoved them in Bobbi's direction.

"Thanks, I think I'd like that."

They walked silently back to the car, each in their own world. Michelle shook with disbelief unable to process what she had just accomplished in one short day. Bobbi secured the car seat then pulled the door open for the blonde. Eyes met.


Unable to say anything, Michelle simply retained the gaze with stormy, confused eyes.

"You're incredible," Bobbi murmured.

She went from confused to shocked. "I-"

"You did it!"

Recognition covered her face, making her flush. "I did?" Michelle looked at her hands then back up. "I did." The blonde reached out, capturing the larger hand into her own. "No, we did."


Michelle was jerked from her pleasant reverie by a bark and a lick. She chuckled, "Whoa, boy. I guess you're finished playing, huh? Well, let's get inside."

After hanging, the jacket up in the living room closet where she found it, Michelle, clad in her customary sweats and colourful t-shirt, puttered around the living room. She kicked off the old sneakers and put the still sleeping Toby into his bassinet. Grabbing the remote, Michelle dropped onto the couch with a muffled ‘umph'. She glanced down in amusement as Taz made himself comfortable on the floor.

"We're still here, boy. It's almost too good to believe. Every time we take a big step, there's something right behind us. That's okay though. Isn't it?"

"Wuff?" Taz answered as he looked up toward his mistress.

"Yeah, I feel like we could take on anything." I feel like I HAVE taken on everything. Michelle shook her head mentally. "They're so close, Taz. I can almost feel them, but that won't stop me. It won't stop us. You shoulda seen me last week. I used to be so scared to talk to people, even when I worked at Cobb's. It's a good thing that he didn't have many customers, but I had to do that to get here now. Now, I guess after being with Bobbi for so long, I want to believe that there are other people out there. There's gotta be. The whole world can't be evil. I know that now. There's just a select few."


"Yeah, too bad we have to know some of them personally." Michelle drew her legs up to her chest, forgetting about the remote in her hand and the TV a few feet away. Her thoughts turned deep. How did I escape it? Why didn't I turn out like momma? I guess there's something inside me that fights it. Then again, maybe I would have if Toby hadn't come along. Maybe it's simply because I have love in my life where Max and momma never did. The blonde latched an arm around her knees. For the first time, she felt pity. It surged through her blood, causing her head to hang with the weight of it.

Can I do it? Can I ever forgive them? I want to understand why. Maybe if I had some answers, it would make forgiveness easier. Michelle closed her eyes, remembering the helplessness, the pain, the humiliation that was inflicted upon her. The pity was quickly replaced by anger. Green eyes snapped open. "No, I'm nowhere near ready to forgive them. It's still too raw." A little voice nagged her telling her that there was no way to move on unless she dealt and let go of her old life to make room for a new one.

Small hands fisted and punched through the air. "Don't you think I know that?! I'm trying. It's not that easy." Her voice trailed off and she pushed a hand through short locks in exasperation. Quietly, she whispered, "Look what I've done so far. I'm getting there."

The library was a huge breakthrough and Michelle knew it, and even though she hadn't told Bobbi, the blonde had plans on going by herself soon in an attempt to tackle a bigger hurdle. Refusing to let despair swallow her, she reflected on accomplishments that weren't possible until Bobbi, until the night of a storm that she wouldn't forget. I remember who I was then-- scared to live, scared to be angry, scared of reality, and scared of everything. Now, I can't wait to embrace it all. It's amazing really. The blonde shook her head. Simply amazing. For the first time, I think I can tell a gentle soul from the rest. I see it in Bobbi, and I see it in Annie.

Michelle smiled as she thought of the older blonde. She was strange in appearance, dressed in bright orange, green, and pinks along with dangling earrings and other jewelry, but her knowledge of the library was vast. They spoke every time the clerk was present last week about what had become her favorite thing, books. Listening intensely, Michelle followed close behind the perky blonde as she gave her a tour of a different section of the library each time she was there. The older woman seemed to have a favorite author in each section, along with a story to go with it. Michelle recalled laughing at the animated tales and laughing even harder as the blonde's eyes rolled when the prim looking head librarian came around the corner to shush them.

It had been hard to approach her alone, but Michelle did it when Bobbi refused to accompany her only giving support with a few whispered words, "You can do it." For the past months, Bobbi had been her lifeline. The petite blonde sat up abruptly as a thought entered her head. I've been dependent on B for so much. She's giving me a little push. I know it! So that I won't become too dependent. I think it started with the haircut. It gave me what I needed to start stepping into the world again. A smile of affection lit Michelle's features. "I'm so lucky to have someone like her in my life. Maybe B is the incredible one."

She shook her head as the grin got bigger. "Maybe we do this to each other." Michelle relaxed her arm and legs. Her thigh pressed against the forgotten remote. She picked it up and tossed it around in her hand. Knowing that television alone wasn't the same without the tall brunette, the blonde crinkled her nose in indecision. It was between television, the computer, and another book. She glanced back at the TV, feeling a pang at the doctor's absence. "I didn't know doctors still made house calls these days," she muttered almost to herself. Still, the smile returned. Being privy to Bobbi's generosity first hand, she realized that the concept fit the doctor somehow.

Michelle pursed her lips in contemplation. Then, without a second thought decided on the computer.

A few minutes later, the leather chair screeched as she got comfortable in it. Bare toes curled into the Husky's fur, who lay under the desk and under her feet. With a mother's eye, Michelle glanced at her sleeping son. Knowing that he would awaken soon, she made the bottle, sitting on the edge desk, extra hot to make sure it would be warm later.

Having already read the online materials Bobbi had found for her on philosophy and religion, finding them dry and full of double talk, the blonde decided to take a different route and explore the websites of a couple shows, "X-Files" and "Law and Order". Michelle went to Yahoo and tapped her fingers on the desk as she waited for the search results.

Pale eyebrows rose when she saw one of the categories. What's fan fiction? Curiosity got the best of the blonde. She clicked on the words. Jade eyes bucked in surprise at the long list of websites that resulted. Michelle fidgeted in excitement as she scrolled down, hoping to find stories on Scully that would give her insight into the aloof red head.

The petite blonde clicked on the first one she saw, ScullySlash. Skimming and then bypassing the pages that were insignificant, Michelle's brows lowered as she saw the adults only warning. Shrugging, she went on and followed the prompts until a long list of stories appeared. Curious emerald eyes, scanned the synopsis of each one until she came to one called "Fletcher" by someone named Dana Starbuck. Scully getting involved with a friend from Mulder's past sounded interesting.

Michelle flexed and curled her toes into soft fur. Then, started to read. After the first few paragraphs, she found herself knee deep into the story. A gasp escaped her lips as she read the next passage. Fletcher was a woman—-a woman who seemed strangely interested in Dana Scully.

Confused and intrigued, Michelle continued on and found herself laughing as well as delightfully pleased at the relationship between the FBI Agents. It was one they hinted at on TV but didn't show—-the trust, the camaraderie, and their obvious affection for each other. On the other hand, the blonde chuckled almost loudly at the interaction between Mulder and Fletcher. Things were old, comfortable, and competitive between them as if they were siblings.

Eyes moved quickly over the page, and her hands moved even quicker pushing the down key. A louder gasp was torn from her throat, and Michelle could feel the heat flushing into her face as well as a warm curl in her belly. She tore her eyes away and put small hands on her cheeks, hoping to cool them. "They're. . .they're kissing," Michelle croaked. "She's kissing her," she said again as if she couldn't believe it. The blonde kicked the revolving chair away from the desk, causing Taz to jump up in surprise.


"Um, I-I. . ." Michelle stuttered.

Confused by his mistress' behavior, Taz scampered toward the blonde, putting front paws on her lap in an attempt to get a good look at her. "Wuff?" He asked again with is tongue lolling.

"I-I didn't know." She swallowed hard then flushed in embarrassment as the images played in her head once more. A warm tingling from somewhere deep made the blonde flush brighter and hotter. "Uhm, s-she kissed her. That's not normal is it?" Michelle looked down at the Husky for answers. Michelle covered her face with small hands and let out a bark of nervous laughter. "Who am I kidding? I have no idea what normal is," the blonde muttered through her hands.

She took them away suddenly and stared at the words on the screen. "I just never really crossed my mind. I guess it's the same as a man and woman kissing in one of Nora's novels." Recalling the sudden flutter of her stomach, Michelle mumbled, " I just don't remember feeling that when I read one of her books though." She scooted up a little, bringing the words into better focus and causing Taz to jump down. "And this is a really good story."

Taz looked up at the blonde, canting his head from side to side in confusion. Green met deep blue. "It doesn't matter does it, boy?" She paused, licking her lips. "And it's a really, really good story."


"Yeah, you're right. I wanna see what happens." Giddy with excitement, Michelle waited until the Husky was comfortable, back in his normal spot before moving back up to the computer. Curling her toes in his fur, she commenced the reading.

Only to have her eyes bulge the size of saucers a few lines later. Unable to tear herself away, Michelle read on. She grabbed at her own stomach, trying to stop the hot curl that seemed to have taken her breath. The kiss had turned into a full-fledged love scene. The silence of the den was pierced by the sound of her own audible breathing then by something higher and more vocal.

There it was again. Michelle brought a tremulous, suddenly sweaty hand up to cover her mouth, as she realized the sound was a whimper coming from her own mouth. She closed her eyes in an attempt to slow her breathing as well as her now racing heart. What's wrong with me? She fidgeted in the chair and nearly jumped at the sensations teeming through her thighs. I don't understand this. Michelle dropped her hands to the side and shook them loosely in an attempt to get rid of the trembling. I've never felt this. . this. I don't even know how to describe it! She screamed at herself in exasperation unable to grasp the heat that rolled through her body.

Through it all, unable to resist, Michelle found her eyes riveted on the screen once more. The scene passed, but the tension in her body remained until she found herself laughing again. A few pages later, Michelle gripped the edge of the desk as Fletcher and Scully kissed again. The feelings returned as things blossomed into another lesson in loving.

I don't understand why I'm feeling this, but it feels good. All warm inside and tingly. It's almost like the same way I feel with Bobbi. What is that? Michelle pressed the down key and continued to read.

The blonde jumped at the sound of Toby's cry, recognizing the tone of it immediately. "God!" She exclaimed in surprise. She reached for the bassinet blindly then scooped her son into her arms. Michelle looked down at him with a soft smile before reaching for the warm bottle. Sitting him up to make sure he wouldn't choke, Michelle hit the down key and placed the nipple of the bottle in his mouth. She sighed and split her attention between the words on the monitor and the soft coos of her son.

Chapter 28

As she pulled out of  The Baby Nook's parking lot,  Bobbi turned toward the now full cab of the Cherokee and smirked.  Carried away much, B?  She couldn't believe all the things that she had bought but viewed them as upcoming necessities for Toby.  The raven haired doctor had held the baby enough to explain his size to the more than helpful clerk.  Before she left, Bobbi ended up almost purchasing the store including an assortment of clothing, a walker, a stroller, a high chair, toys, teething rings and stuffed animals, a crib, a play pen and a stroller. They were all spirited away a few feet from her in appropriate boxes.  She gave the library book on infant development, sitting in her front seat, a pat of thanks.  Her smile turned into a full fledged grin, as she reached over to rub the silky soft fur of the large stuffed animal rabbit that she got for Michelle.  It's shy eyes and delicate look had reminded her too much of her blonde friend.

After leaving The Nook, the doctor spied a series of stores down the way to complete her shopping spree by buying cereal, an assortment of baby food, and a large, soft area rug for the living room, knowing that Toby needed somewhere to wiggle.  Even Taz was not left out, as Bobbi made a purchase of expensive stuffed and squeaky toys from the enthusiastic pet store owner.  

The doctor sobered suddenly as she pulled onto the highway.  I hope Chelle won't see this as a pity thing. Bobbi thought for a moment and answered her own silent question.  No, I know her.  She'll be surprised but see this as it is my helpingout a friend.  Despite the close call with the local PD, the week had gone famously, and Bobbi found that she had never had so much fun at a library.  "Gotta be the company."  With all the danger pushing at their backs, Bobbi refused to let the intervening elements change or ruin the tentative happiness surrounding them.

Bobbi blew bangs from her eyes and smirked ruefully and the gamut of emotions that she had experienced the past week:  fear, pride, affection, protectiveness, and the one that really got her attention, jealousy.  The brunette shook her head, making the long, dark ponytail fly.  Who would have thought it?  I guess it's normal.  I've had her to myself all these months.  It's been just me and her.  She leaned on me and vice versa.  I guess some part of me knew we were maybe becoming too dependent on each other. 

God, I was so lonely when she was gone.  It actually hurt, but I needed to push her forward.  She took some big steps at the library, and talking to the clerk was an even bigger one.  I just didn't expect to see her laughing like that when she usually only does that with me.  Ugh, I'm such a sap.  I can't believe I even felt it.  I can't believe it refused to go away.  It was there every time Chelle walked away with her.  Maybe I can stop all this nonsense by talking to her about how I'm feeling, and maybe I need to stop just thinking about her as mine.  That's not right either.

Bobbi let out a long breath as she traveled through the middle of town.  I'd rather be home with her right now, playing with Toby, watching TV or just talking.  Something feels so right about it.  I really can't explain it, but I have to be the last doctor in history to make routine monthly house calls. I feel bad because I've been slacking. Good thing they have neighbors to look after them. I've been around what two or three times since Chelle's been here?  Good thing everyone is doing as well as can be expected. But, still I can't wait to see her face when I get back with all this stuff.  Hell, even I feel like a kid on Christmas just because I get to watch her open it all. 

She shook her head again, trying to get her mind on the job.  "I don't have anything to complain about.  I love this town, the people in it and would do anything for them.  Giving up a Saturday morning is moot.  I'll get home soon enough.  These folks need me,"  Bobbi muttered to herself.

Knowing the Sholwaski's were still out of town with the benefit of a phone call, Bobbi decided to swing by Mr. Lainge's first since she had no way to contact him.   Bobbi made the appropriate turn off and found herself in the more rural part of town.  Patchy green yards were littered with old cars and trucks, dogs ran free, and she even saw a clothes line or two.  She followed the numbers on the houses and pulled up to a rickety white one that needed more than a coat of paint.  The old Ford truck was in the driveway where it hadn't been the last time she was here.

Grabbing her bag, Bobbi zipped up the thin blue coat over the beige wool sweater she was wearing.  With a slight hum and a look around the semi-quiet neighborhood, the doctor made her way to the door.  She heard the television blaring what sounded like Judge Judy.   With an amused smirk, she reached to knock louder than usual.  After a minute, Bobbi added her voice to the fray.  "Mr. Lainge?!  It's Doc B!"  She rolled her eyes at the sound of barking dogs not far away.  "Mr.  Lainge!"

Somewhere around the corner of the house, the doctor heard a voice shout back.  "Quit yer hollerin' I'm 'round back!"

Bobbi chuckled and followed the sound of his voice.  Once there, she frowned in exasperation upon seeing what he was doing, tilling the soil on a small patch of land behind his house.  "Mr. Lainge!  You know you're not supposed to be doing things like that."

With a craggy, well worn face, his deep set brown eyes looked at the brunette in amusement.  He snorted and waved a knarled hand in her direction.  "Eh, what's the point we all gotta go sometime."

Bobbi took a step closer.  His appearance was deceiving.   With a shock of stringy white hair covering his head, an abundant of whiskers on his face, and the perpetual scowl, he looked like a mean old man, but he turned out to be the sweetest.  "Well, some of us would  like for you to stay around a little longer," the doctor added softly.  "Your son especially.  How was your visit?  You were gone for a while there.  Didn't get to ask you last time I was here."

"Ehh, it was so so.  Damn kids tried to drive me crazy."  He grabbed the equipment again then gave her a pointed stare.  "Do it look like I know Nintendo or whatever ya call it?  They're too damn smart for their own good."  He cackled in laughter, but it turned into a deep cough.

Bobbi moved forward until she close enough to rub and soothe his back through the spasms.  His look was baleful but turned into grateful.  "So, Mr. Lainge, whatcha trying to plant?"

His mouth twitched in a smile, making his thin lips, thinner.  "Oh, a little of this and a little of that.  My Martha used to have a little garden back here.  Thought I'd plant some flowers to brighten up the house once I'm gone."

"Mr. Lainge. . ."  the dark-haired doctor whispered.

"Naw, naw don't try to lie to me.  Ya never have before.  My ticker here is gonna give sooner or later.  There's nothing to be done.  I know that."

"But why isn't your son here?  Surely. . ."   A light bulb went on inside of Bobbi's head.  "You haven't told him after all this time?"   She added incredulously.

"He's got a family to take care of, and I don't wanna go in no home even his.  My Martha died here in our bed and that's where I aim to be."

"Mr. Lainge, I. . ."

"Naw, naw.  I might be old but I ain't crazy.  I know what I want, and you gotta respect that."

Bobbi pursed her lips.  "I do.  It's just hard to see you like this you know?  I remember when you used to come in and see my dad. . ."  She let her voice trail off as memories of a younger stronger man entered her consciousness.

"Eh, like you better.  Softer hands."

Surprised, Bobbi let out a chuckle then sobered.  "I wish you had told me this before now, but if that's what you want to do, I'm gonna have to come by here more frequently to check up on ya."  He raised his head and opened his mouth to speak.  "Ah, ah, ah, let me do this as your doctor and your friend."

He nodded and suddenly looked very weary.  Bobbi watched with compassionate eyes as he tried to take a deep breath.  His chest rattled along with his frame.  "I-I think I need to sit down."

The brunette put her arms around bony, stooped shoulders and led him toward the back door.  "Okay, let's get you inside, so I can look you over."

She sat him at the dining room table and looked around the house in despair.  It certainly was not like this the last time she was here. It was a mess, and there was nothing he could do about it.  Bobbi let out a pained breath and opened her doctor's bag.  "Okay, let me get this shirt off you."  Instead of letting a breath out, she sucked one in when she saw how much weight he had lost.  "You're not eating?"

"Yah, yah I am."  His voice softened.  "It's just hard sometimes, ya know?  This past month has been real hard.  I used to be able to keep up."

"Yeah, I know."  Bobbi took his blood pressure and trained her face to keep from showing sadness.  It was way way too high.  "Mr. Lainge?  Can I ask a favor of you?"

"Sure, sure anything.  Ya know that."

"I want to get you a nurse.  There's a home health agency that I can contact, and since you have medicare, you won't have anything to worry about."

He shook his head vehemently.  "Nah, nah!"

Bobbi closed her eyes, knowing it was time for a dose of reality.  "Mr. Lainge look around you.  You are living in filth. It stinks.  You can't cook your own meals.  Don't you think your neighbors are gonna notice all this. I imagine they could call adult services, and you might end up where you don't want to be.  Think about it.  Now, how are you on your meds?  I can go get them refilled for you since I'm here."   Bobbi put the stethoscope to her ears and warmed the end between her hands.  She raised it to his chest only to see it shaking.  "Mr. Lainge?"  She heard a small sob that tore at her heart.

The old man's head hung, and he reached up with shaky hands to wipe at his eyes.  "I'm just so so tired, Bobbi.  Somedays, I just don't wanna get outta bed."  He turned his face away and scanned his surroundings in shame.  "It's been three years, and I miss her something awful.  I'm weak without her."

Bobbi bit her lip in an attempt to remain stoic.  She put a comforting hand on his knee.  "I knew Martha, and she wouldn't want you to live like this or die like this.  Let me do this for you.  Let me make you comfortable,"  she pleaded quietly.

After a minute, Mr. Lainge nodded but refused to meet the doctor's eyes.  "all right.  I trust you."

Bobbi sighed silently in relief.  "Good.  I'll even come by on her first day to ease you into this.  Now, let me finish examining you, and I'll fix you some breakfast before I leave."

Tired of talking, he simply nodded.


Still sitting outside Mr. Lainge's house, Bobbi filled the silence by blasting Aerosmith.  She leaned in heavily on the steering wheel.  Hanging her head, she marveled how far medicine had come only to fall short for so many people.  It was one of life's great tragedies.  Snap out of it B.  You knew this was coming, even though it doesn't make it any easier.    Bobbi snorted.  "Too bad things are never that simple.  It's a good thing that I have a life to go home to now." Now, I need to go see how Mrs. Farmer is doing.

Bobbi sighed as she knocked on Mrs. Farmer's door for what seemed like the hundredth time.  "I know she's not around back.  There's no way," the doctor mumbled.   Getting a little worried, she pulled open the porch screen door, knowing it would not be latched.  Maybe she's asleep.   Bobbi knocked a couple of times on the thicker more sturdier door and waited for a response. 

Dark brows drew together in consternation where there was no answer.  "She couldn't have gone anywhere."  Bobbi squinted and looked through the thin curtain covering the glass above the door.  The pit of her stomach dropped to her knees as she discerned the outline of a body laying on the floor inside.  "Oh Christ!  Mrs. Farmer?!  Can you hear me?!"

Adrenaline rushed through her body alleviating her of the fear, and leaving only the doctor for the time being.  She tried the door and found it locked.  Using her medical bag, Bobbi broke the glass over the door then ran the hard leather over the broken edges to keep herself from getting injured.   She unlocked the door with a defiant snap and bustled her way in.  Throwing her bag to the floor, Bobbi kneeled beside Mrs. Farmer and felt her carotid for a pulse.  Pale blue eyes traveled up the old woman's body looking for physical signs of injury.  She found none.  The doctor's appraising eyes landed on Mrs. Farmer's face, taking in the unseeing eyes and the mouth that seemed to be frozen in a smile.

The brunette reached for one of the woman's limbs and found them to be stiff, cold and almost immovable.  "Shit!"  Almost full rigor. "Fuck, fuck, fuck!"   Bobbi sat back on her haunches and scanned the room in hopes of finding the focus she had suddenly lost.  She brought shaking hands to her face and moved them through her bangs.  Guilt crashed on her like a thunderous wave, making it hard to breath, hard to think, and hard to get her bearings.  Her old acquaintance death came to visit in the form of flashbacks.  Bobbi closed her eyes in an effort to shut it all out for now, knowing she had a job to do.  "Okay, okay you gotta do this, B."   She brought a hand to her mouth to keep from sobbing.  "Um, its obvious that she's been gone for a while."  Nervous hands reached for her bag to get the cell phone.  The emergency operator picked up immediately.

"9-1-1. What is your emergency?"

"This is Dr.  Bobbi Waszinski.  I'm at 311 Cedric Avenue.  I need the EMT's here to do pick up.  Uhm, I have an African American female, in her eighties, and looks like she's been gone for almost twenty four hours. May have been a massive stroke, but I can't be sure.  Uh, I'll wait here and follow to make sure things go smoothly."

"Copy that.  Slow day today, so ETA in about twenty minutes.

"We'll be here."

It was all Bobbi needed to hear.  She shuffled toward a nearby chair and sat down heavily.  Her eyes refused to stray from the woman who lay a few feet away from her.  The brunette let the guilt back in like an old friend.  It left no place untouched.  It had been so long since she had seen it, death, but right now, it seemed like only yesterday that she stood frozen in the ER.  All of a sudden the bloody dreams that had begun to calm raged right in front of her eyes.  Again, she was knee deep in blood with vengeful hands reaching for her.  Bobbi covered her face and let the heart racking sobs tear through her body. 

I did this.  I keep doing this.  Maybe my gift isn't medicine.  Maybe it's death.  I'm always too late or too scared.  Why do I even do this?  She tore her hands away from her face and peered up at the ceiling.  "Why?!"  Receiving no answer, pale eyes refused to stray from the lifeless body for long.  Slowly, her eyes traced from feet to face, stopping at the woman's frozen expression.  Bobbi sobered suddenly.  "She's smiling.  Why--"

She closed her eyes and shook her head to make sure it wasn't a mirage or trick of the light.  The soft smile remained.  Bobbi got up and moved toward Mrs. Farmer.  She kneeled and studied the woman's expression in earnest.  Smoothing back stiff, brittle hair, the doctor felt a weight lift where it had been crushing before.  "You're with him aren't you?  I wish I had a chance to meet him, and I hope he's still all you hoped him to be.  I maybe a doctor, but I do believe there's something higher, above us all.  I want you to know that you taught me something just now.  It's been in front of me all this time, but through my own selfishness, I couldn't see it.  This isn't about me.  You, Stevie, my mom and the others it was your time wasn't it?"   Bobbi let out a pained chuckle.  "That must sound so strange coming from me, but it's so simple just like Michelle said.  They all had the best doctors possible, but regardless of how old or how sick, it was just time."

The brunette stood up and deposited herself in the chair again.  She peered up at the ceiling.  Her voice was even, soft, and accepting.  "I guess that I should be mad at you, huh?  Whatever you are. But, I've held onto this for too long.  It was my life for so long--the anger and the guilt.  I was afraid that if I let go I would be left with nothing."  Bobbi blinked feeling the sting of tears.  "That's not true anymore is it?  They're my second chance.  Hell, we're each others second chance at life, at everything."    The doctor looked out the broken window at the sound of the approaching ambulance.  "It's time to let all the rest go."

Numb with discovery and the left over adrenaline, Bobbi got up slowly and moved toward the door.  She opened it and waved them in as they stopped in front of the house.  Equipped with a gurney, the two men moved quickly.  The doctor let them in.

"You the doc?"

"Yeah, she's in here.  Mrs. Farmer was a patient of mine.  I made house calls here as much as I could.  The neighbors kept an eye on her otherwise.  Uhm, she had severe high blood pressure along with diabetes, so I'm guessing it had to be a stroke."

They nodded.  "You're probably right.  Okay, we're gonna load her up.  Does she have any family to contact?"

"No, no I'll call around the neighborhood and see if I can get some help dealing with her things."

Bobbi turned and watched with illuminated mind and heart as they moved Mrs. Farmer to the gurney and covered her with the sheet.  "Okay doc.  We can take care of this from here."

"No, I'm gonna follow you and fill out the paper work if you don't mind."

"Yeah, okay.  You know more about her."

Bobbi followed them out the door.  She scanned the neighborhood to see people standing on porches in an attempt to gather information.  A woman moved toward them.  "You guys go ahead I know where to go."

The woman moved as fast as she could.  As she got closer, Bobbi could see that she was much older than she previously thought and her face was streaked with tears.  "This can't be.  I-I just checked up on her the day before.  It can't be."

Bobbi gave the woman a tremulous, apologetic smile.  "I'm her doctor, and I would like to think a friend.  I want to thank you for looking out for her, and I'm sorry we never met."   She added in a quiet murmur.  "She's gone, but I don't think she suffered."

The woman nodded.  "She gets to see Henry again."

"Yeah, that she does.  I think she would be real happy about that. Um, I'm gonna go to the hospital and file the necessary paper work.  Will you be the one to take care of her house and other arrangements.  I will be more than happy to help."

"Yes, yes I'll do that."   The woman reached out her hand.  "Thank you for caring for her."

Bobbi took the hand in a firm grip.  For a moment, they shared the sadness.  "Thank you too."


The raven haired doctor walked through the familiar halls of Harris Hospital.  Everything was hauntingly familiar.  It had been years, and she had vowed never to come here again.  Yet, here she was, feeling the last few hours crash upon her as the adrenaline of the moment seeped away.

Having done the paper work, Bobbi couldn't resist the pull of it all.  As a result, she found herself exploring every floor she could gain access to.  Broad shoulders slumped with tiredness, and she didn't bother to hide blood red eyes from curious on lookers.  Some of them looked familiar some didn't.  She hadn't expected them to speak.  She never did when she was here.

The doctor stuffed shaking hands into her coat pocket as she took in the antiseptic smell, the ding of pages, and the laughs of the nurses gathered at their station.  This used to be home, but it wasn't really.  I didn't know what a home was.  Now, I do.  Bobbi rolled her shoulders expecting to feel residual guilt.  There was only sadness and freedom.  Even though her tiredness, she could feel it tugging at her.  Not yet.  Not yet.  Not until I'm home. Not until I go through those locked doors. Home.  Michelle.  Is it the same?  I think so.  I know she'll be there to help if I ask.  That's where I want to be right now.

Bobbi passed another nurse's station as she headed for the elevator.   At the sound of gasps, she glanced up and to the side to see several very familiar faces looking back at her.  Bobbi held there gazes for a minute then turned away.  There were more important things.  Home and Michelle.


The bleached blond nurse turned to her red-headed co-worker.  "Did you see who that was?"

"Mmm hmm,  Dr. Waszinski.  She looked terrible too.  Something must have brought her down a peg."

The blonde added, "Could be."

The were both interrupted.  "Did you say that was Dr. Waszinski?  Dr. Bobbi Waszinski?"

The red head and blonde glanced at each other and rolled their eyes. 

"Mmm hmm," the red-head answered.  "Did you finish filling out that application?  Ms.?"

Used to it, the brunette ignored the animosity she could feel teeming off the women, she held out her hand.  "Janine Williams."

The red head looked at the outstretched hand in amusement.  "Mmm, whatever.  We'll make sure the head nurse gets your application."

Totally flustered but hiding it successfully,Janine had already tuned them out.  She stared down the hall where the most beautiful woman she'd ever seen had just disappeared.  It doesn't matter ladies.  I just remembered an ad I saw this morning.  That's the job I want. She smiled softly remembering legs that seemed to go on forever.  I think this move to Minnesota just got a whole lot more interesting.  Maybe there's something here for me after all-- finally.

Bobbi sat in the Cherokee, for the moment, forgetting about the boxes behind her.  She bit her lip as she recognized another emotion, giddiness.  I can't wait to see her. Tell her.  Why am I sitting here?  She pulled her keys from the ignition and stuffed them in her jacket pocket.  It's time to really face life again.

Minutes later, Bobbi found herself in her own living room, jerking the jacket off her torso.  "Chelle?"

Michelle jumped at the sound of her name being called.  She hurried and closed the browser before she answered.  "Um, in he-re!"  Her voice cracked, and she fanned her cheeks hoping they weren't as red as they felt.

The brunette sighed then smiled at the sound of her friend's voice.  She followed it towards the den.  Standing in the doorway, she gazed at the blonde.  She is home.  She took in the flushed features with sudden worry.  "Hey, you okay?"  She glanced down at the Husky that appeared at her side.

Michelle met her friend's gaze and swallowed.  Something's wrong.  "Um, yeah I was just reading.  You don't look so good.  You've been crying."

Bobbi nodded then reached down to greet the Husky with a scratch behind the ears.  "Yeah, I lost a patient today," she said with sadness in her eyes.

The blonde's hands flew to her mouth, but her eyes glittered with sorrow and empathy.  "Don't blame yourself.  You can't."

The doctor closed her eyes and let the warmth between them surround her.  She knows me so well.  "I'm not gonna lie to you. I did at first, and it was so easy.  Then, I saw something, and it  hit me.  You were right.  None of it was my fault.  Stevie, mom, none of it.  It was kind of selfish of me in a way to think it was all about me.  I don't know. Then, all that weight; that anger and guilt, it just lifted.  I-it's been so long since. . .I didn't know it would feel like this."  She shook her head and felt more tears prickle her eyes.  She let them come.  "I-I feel so light and happy.  I don't know what to do with it all."

Seeing Bobbi's tears tore at the blonde's heart even if they were happy ones.  She needs me.  I have so many questions I wanted to ask, but I have no idea how to ask them.  She sighed inwardly in exasperation.  It'll have to keep.  She needs me more right now.  Michelle pushed away from the desk, and in four brisk strides, she stood in front of the brunette.  The petite blonde reached up and wiped dripping tears away with fingertips. Then, she took a step closer and wrapped the taller woman in her arms.  She felt the lean body shake and held on tighter.

Bobbi buried her face in short locks that smelled like the outdoors.  She wrapped her arms around the blonde and held on for dear life.  They stood there in silence with the Husky sitting at their feet, and Toby dosing in the bassinet behind them.

"Shhh, it's okay.  You live that's what you do with it B.  You live."  Michelle murmured.

Bobbi smiled through her tears because this time she knew this to be true.  After another minute, the doctor stepped back.  "It's not over.  I have some cleaning to do."  She met the green gaze.  "Um, can you help me upstairs?"

Michelle slid her smaller hand into the brunette's larger one.  She squeezed.  "You don't even have to ask.  Just let me get Toby's carrier and we'll go up together."  Their gazes held communicating warmth, understanding and affection.

With a free hand, the doctor brushed at blonde bangs.  "You're something else.  You know that?"

The blonde's smile was wide and sincere.  "So are you."


Long minutes later, they found themselves upstairs.  Michelle watched and listened with an openess in her face and heart as Bobbi went through the boxes of memories.  They laughed when the brunette explained goofy looking pictures her mom had taken of Stevie and herself, going into detailed stories of snow ball fights, camping trips, soccer and other competitive games gone awry.

They grew somber at the more recent pictures of two children lost along with clothes that still carried a familiar scent.  Photos of happier times were kept along with a few reminders of the bad times.  They cleaned, vacuumed, dusted, and re-taped boxes, stacking them up neatly in the bedroom closet.  The trip down memory lane in that room was over. Upon exiting her mother's room, Bobbi went directly to her father's.

She opened the door then glanced back at the blonde behind her as the dust settled.  They stepped in.  Bobbi shook her head in pity.  She turned to her friend.  "I guess it's been so long that I forgot.  There's nothing in here."  The brunette opened the door wider to show her friend.  Green eyes widened upon seeing the very sparsely decorated room.  The bed was made, but there wasn't much else but exceedingly bare furniture and a couple of books.

"He didn't keep any photos of you guys?"

"No, that wasn't his thing.  Medicine was.  I guess he figured that we would always be here.  I think, if I remember correctly, that his office looks about the same."

"Then, I guess we're done?"

Bobbi grabbed her friend's hand as they walked back down the hall.  "Yeah, we're done."

The rest of the day was filled with quiet companionship.  Silently and side by side they fixed a late lunch and then later dinner, moving around each other in some strange syncopation. 

Later, instead of being the one held, Michelle pillowed Bobbi's head in her lap as the people on the TV screen zipped and zagged by.  All was quiet both inside and out but complete with Husky and baby in the bassinet not far away.

They talked in hushed whispers not wanting to disturb the peace.  The television was low, and the ringer had been turned off.  The doctor knew emergencies would come through her beeper.  Michelle swept back ebony bangs and peered down into pale blue.  "How are you feeling?"

"Mmm, better than I thought I ever would."  Where knees had been bent at an angle, Bobbi straightened them out with a slight swish.  She reached up and touched the blonde's nose, watching it crinkle.  "I want to thank--"

"No, you have nothing to thank me for.  It's what friends do for each other.  It's what you do for me."  Jade eyes sparkled with sincerity.

"Still, I don't think any of this would have been possible if you hadn't come into my life.  I don't think I'll ever look at blizzards the same way again."

Michelle smiled.  "I don't think I will either, but I think you left something out.  I don't think either of us would be where we are now without each other."

Bobbi canted her head to the side as she let the statement process.  "I think you're right."   She paused.  "I want you to feel like this, flying freely with nothing holding you back.  I want it for you.  God, I feel like I could conquer the world tonight.  I don't know any other way to describe it."

The blonde grinned.  "In a way you did conquer the world, yours anyway.  Some days I feel like that, and then somedays, I feel like the weight of the world is squishing me."

Bobbi shook her head in wonder.  "You're nothing like the woman I first met.  Nothing at all.  How the hell did you get so wise?"

Michelle shrugged sheepishly but did nothing to hide the sudden flush.   "Don't know.  I guess its because I'm finally getting the chance to live, to see what I missed and learn from it all."

"Mmm, Chelle?  Can I tell you something?"

"Sure.  I pretty much think we're on a roll now."

"No, seriously.  I figured out something today.  When I left the hospital, I was in such a rush to get back here, but it wasn't the house I wanted to get to.  This house isn't my home.  I think you are.  I think all of you are.  A home is somewhere where you feel safe, needed, warmth and even love.  All that hasn't been here for a long time, until you guys came.  All of you hold a special place in my heart."  Crystal blue eyes pleaded for understanding.

Stunned and warmed by the sentiments, Michelle felt her heart seize then double its activity.  The hand running through sable bangs stopped and shook over the brunette's forehead.  Why did I have to wait so long to feel this, to hear this?  I've known for a while that everything fits here.   Thank you for this, whoever is listening.  Thank you.  "Bobbi, I--"

The doctor reached up to silence the blonde's words by placing two fingers over her lips. She flinched softly at the moist heat that greeted her.  Damn, have I said to much?  She's changed so much, but this still maybe more than she can take.  "Shhh, it's okay. You don't have to say anything.  I just wanted to get that out."

No, I need to tell her.  Michelle wrapped her hand around the brunette's wrist and moved her away slowly, wanting to prolong the closeness.  A small hand found its way back in silky, dark locks.  "What if I want to say something?"  She peered down into the doctor's face seeing fear and apprehension there and tried to reassure with a soft smile that spread to green eyes.  "What if I want to say that I understand?  I understand because I feel the same way."

Pale eyes widened.  She does?  'You do?"

"Yeah, I do. Next, to my two guys here, you've become one of the most important things in my life.  I don't know how it happened, but it just did.  Your friendship means more to me then I can explain.  You've showed so much."

"No we showed each other."  One smile met another, but Michelle felt like there should be more. It just felt right.She went with her instincts and leaned forward, brushing the brunette's forehead with soft lips. Green eyes closed at the feel of it all.

Bobbi heart leapt to her throat, but still, she closed her eyes and sighed.  When she felt the caress end, she opened her eyes and grinned.  "What was that for?"  She reached up and swiped a thumb over blushing cheeks.

Michelle shrugged.  "Just cause." 

They beamed at each other for another long moment.  "Mmm, okay."  She can do that as often as she likes.  For some reason, her brain chose this moment to remind her of the packages outside.  "Oh, I bought some things today. They're out in the car. I can--"

"It's late.  Can't it keep until morning."

Bobbi smirked secretly, loving the prospect of surprising the blonde when she woke up.  "Uh, yeah that's fine.  It'll keep."

They played at watching TV but spent more time talking.  Before Michelle knew what hit her, she found herself sleeping with her head pillowed against the back of the couch.  She jerked away abruptly and looked down at the weight on her lap.  Green eyes twinkled as she watched the brunette with the help of the dim light of the television. She lay on her back. One hand rested under her sweater on her abdomen.  The other was closer to the petite woman's hip.  Bobbi's features were relaxed, and she looked all of eighteen. 

The blonde chuckled quietly at the slight evidence of slobber at the corner of Bobbi's mouth.  Michelle traced dark brows gently.  "You're an unbelievable woman, Bobbi.  Never in a million years did I think I would ever meet someone like you,"  the blonde whispered.  She added silently.  Why hasn't some man snatched you up?

She studied her friend for a minute more before calling out her name softly.  Michelle tried again, louder.  When that didn't work, she shook her.  Bobbi jerked dramatically.

"Huh? Wha sit?"

Trying to hide her mirth, Michelle murmured, "Bedtime."

"Oh okay."  The doctor rose groggily.  "Didn't mean to fall asleep on you."  Her voice was deep, scratchy.

It reminded Michelle of the other side of velvet.  She liked it and the burst of heat it cause somewhere deep inside.  "It's okay."

Bobbi moved toward her bedroom, almost tripping over her own feet.  Michelle put a hand in the small of her back to steady her.  "Whoa there."

"Sowryy,"  the brunette added on the end of a yawn.

The doctor entered the bedroom with the blonde close behind.  Michelle glanced behind there and smiled in appreciation when Taz didn't follow, leaving Toby alone.  Good boy.

Bobbi plopped down on the bed, turned on the beside lamp, and peered at her friend from under sleepy eyes.  "God, I feel like a truck ran over me."

Michelle chuckled.  "A lot happened today." 

"Unh huh,  I could go to sleep just like this."

Pale brows drew together.  "No pj's?"

The brunette scratched her chin.  I usually just do t-shirt and panties."

"Okay, I'll help you out then.  Where's a t-shirt?"

Bobbi scanned the dim room then pointed.  "Over there by the bathroom door.  It's in the clean pile."

Michelle rolled her eyes when she saw the collection of clothing then grabbed the red shirt with a Nike logo.  "Here you go."

Without preamble, Bobbi began to wrestle out of her clothing.  Coherent enough to realize she wasn't alone, she removed her bra last from under the comfort of the t-shirt.

Michelle blushed hotly and almost turned away.  Oh, this is silly.  We have the same thing.  Hers just looks a lot better than mine.  She watched on as the brunette fought with the covers then made her way over.

Pulling the comforter and sheets up to her chin, Bobbi let out a contented sigh and wiggled her toes in the warmth.  Bobbi looked up to see the blonde.  "Uh, hi,"  she said goofily."

"Hi, yourself,"  Michelle returned.  She leaned over, tucking in the covers around her friend.  Unable to resist, she found her lips brushing Bobbi's forehead again.  Why on earth did I do that?"

Mmm, I really like that," the doctor commented with sleepy goofy smile still in place.

"I think I do too,"  Michelle added.  Before the brunette could respond, the petite woman was gone.

"Night, Chelle."

It was the end for an eventful day for them both.

Chapter 29

Bobbi jumped up in surprise at the sound of Michelle's bedroom door closing.  She looked up to see two pair of curious eyes, eyeing her closely.

"Um,"  she spread her arms wide to encompass the collection of boxes behind her.  "Surprise?"

Taz was the first to enter.  He immediately began sniffing each box.

"Oh my God!  What is all of this?"

Oh shit.  "Um, well I told you last night remember that I bought a few things.  See, I've been boning up on my reading on infant development. Toby needs some things that you don't have, and I thought. . .umph!"

Bobbi's eyes bulged at the hold her friend had on her.  She barely saw her move.  "Uhm, I guess you're okay with this?"  The doctor hissed out a breath.

As an answer, Michelle squeezed tighter.

"Breathingggg!"  Bobbi got out through clenched teeth.

Michelle jumped back with chuckle.  "Oh, sorry bout that."  Her face and eyes were flushed with happiness.  Sometimes, she's too good to me to be true, but I know she is.  Curious green eyes scanned the boxes, seeing the pictures of a crib, play pen, stroller, high chair, and walker.  A couple of plastic bags were bursting at the seems with packages and what looked like stuffed animals.  "Um, wow, you bought---" Pale eyebrows rose in confusion.  "What's the carpet for?"

Enjoying the look of happiness on her friend's face, Bobbi didn't hear at first.  I'm glad I can make her happy.    "Huh?  Oh, um, I was thinking that we can move the living room table and put it down there.  Peanut will be crawling before we know it. We could put a blanket over it, and maybe both of us can sit down and watch him?"

"Oh, that makes sense.  He's been moving around on the bed like a little monkey for the past couple of weeks.  I've had to keep a close eye on him.  Sounds good.  I bet he would enjoy that.  Um, what's in the bags?"

"Clothes, baby food, teething rings, developmental toys, and some stuffed animals.  I even got some toys for Taz."


He padded over to the brunette as she searched through the bag and pulled out a frisbee.  The Husky pranced around excitedly.  Bobbi snickered, "Down boy.  We'll play in a little bit."

She reached in deeper and wrapped her hand around the big stuffed rabbit.  Pulling it out, Bobbi turned and tried to hide it behind her back.  "I, um, got something for you too."   She watched with a smile as green eyes widened like a child on Christmas.  The doctor brought the rabbit around.  "I-I saw it, and it reminded me of you---umph!"

Again, she was captured in the blonde's embrace.  Bobbi laughed outright.  "Chelle, you okay?"

Michelle backed away a little but didn't release her hold.   The blonde head hung.  "Yeah.  It's just that no one has ever gotten me anything before." 

Bobbi raised the blonde's chin with the help of a few fingers.  She saw a mixture of sadness and joy, shining clearly in green eyes.  "Not even on Christmas?"

"N-no," she sniffled.  "I guess it didn't really include me."

"Oh, sweetie."  Bobbi pulled her back into the hug.

"Why are you so good to me?"  The words were muffled but understandable.

Bobbi cradled the back of her friend's neck in large hands and answered, "Because I want to, and because it makes us both happy."

Michelle fidgeted in the embrace until she was able to look the doctor in the eye.  The blonde chuckled, "Good answer, and I know you mean it."  I wonder. . .  "How are you doing today?"

The doctor beamed down at her friend.  "Still flyin'."

The blonde stepped away from the embrace but missed the warmth immediately.  She stood close.  "Good.  You, um, can put this stuff together."  She waved her hand to encompass the room.  "And I'll go fix breakfast."    She took a step back and smiled sheepishly into pale blue eyes that squinted back at her.

Why that little devil.   "Oh, no Ms.  You're helping me, even if it takes all day.  We can call for delivery."


A crib, play pen, stroller, high chair, and some Mongolian Beef later,  Bobby reached to pick up the living room phone.


"My I speak to Dr.  Waszinski, please?"

"This is she.  Who's calling?"

"Hi doctor.  My name is Janine Williams.  I saw your ad in the paper for a receptionist/nurse, and I was wondering if the position was still open?  I tried to call yesterday, but I kept getting your voice mail.  I thought it would be better if I got to talk to a live person."

Bobbi raised an eyebrow at the blonde who looked on curiously.  "Good thinking.  The job is still open, but I tell you what.  I'm spending time with my family today, and it's not a good time to talk.  Give me your number, and I'll call you next week to set up an interview."

"Okay, that sounds great."

The doctor hung up the phone after getting all the information.  She looked up at her blonde friend to find her face flushed and her stare intense. "Um, that was a possible new nurse for the office.  Chelle, are you all right?"

This is what this is.  I feel it, and it feels so right.  "Family?"

Bobbi smiled and reached for Michelle's hand in the mist of discarded boxes and bubble wrap.  "Yeah, family."

Alone again, Beatrice stared at the phone. Even though her husband wasn't present.  She felt him all around. He'd left some time ago, going she didn't know where.  Beatrice never did.  She wanted so much to call and hear Toby in the background like before, but the idea that it would show up on the phone bill stopped her cold.  Her hands literally itched.  She rubbed sweaty palms over her thighs.  Just one more time.  I just want to make sure that they are okay.  Maybe I  can intercept the phone bill, and take the page with the Ivanhoe phone numbers out.  He's going to know I did it, but he's not going to know why.  I'm going to pay for it.  I know I am, but I have to do this.  Letting out a deep breath, she reached for the phone with a trembling hand and dialed numbers that were now burned on her memory.

It was picked up on the second ring.


Silence.  Beatrice frowned not recognizing the voice.  She strained her senses to hear.

"Hello?"  Bobbi asked again, irritated.

On the third try, the doctor hung up.  "Who was that?"

"Don't know. Wrong number or some crank."

"Did they say anything?"  Michelle added.

"No, why?"

The blonde felt nervousness creep in.  "Um, cause I got a call like that last week, but I didn't think anything of it."

Blue and green met and held.

With the phone still to her ear, Beatrice listened to the dial tone.  She closed her eyes, knowing it was a failed attempt, and she wondered if she would have the courage later.


Max Jr. sat in his own easy chair in his own house.  He tipped the bottle of Jim Bean up and let it dribble down his throat. He refused to wince.  With clumsy hands, he scratched at his beard then pushed the same appendages through dark curls.  The feelings that had been prickling for the last few months were gone.  There was nothing left, almost nothing.

Max Jr. was his father's son, but it wasn't that easy to be what he needed.  There could be no more pangs of conscious or defiance, and he knew that there could be.  He leaned forward as far as he could go, and pulled the glass table closer.   Getting down on his knees, Max reached for the razor blade, sitting solitary on the clear surface.  He picked it up, cutting the white powder in thin, equal lines.  When he had four, he flicked the minute piece of metal into an unknown corner of the room and picked up the rolled dollar bill that had fallen to the floor long minutes ago.  Leaning in again, he placed the make shift straw over one white line and sniffed until he could feel the veins bulging out of his neck.  He did the same to the second line, then the third.

The rolled dollar fell out of his hand as he fell backward against the chair, hyperventilating as the coke wormed its way through is system. Flying.  He was flying above it all.  Oblivion is what he needed.  It was the only way to be sure.  Tabula Rasa.  A blank slate.  Then, there would be no conscious only his father's voice guiding him, commanding him.  Then, he would fully be his father's son.
Hope you got somethin outta this one. Drop me a line at Minerva

next part

Return to Main Page