Chapter 50

These chapters 50-51 have been rewritten to include the jealousy angle and its repercussions.

Bobbi stood tall and gloriously naked in front of the bathroom mirror. She peered into the steamed glass but past her reflection, refusing to look at the emptiness she could more than feel. There was no form of make up that could hide her appearance and lack of sleep, so she did not bother. Midnight tresses were slicked back and careening over still damp shoulders. She wiped at her wet face with a fluffy white towel, then automatically did the same with the rest of her body. Her movements were jerky and lacked soul as if she were a mindless robot performing everyday tasks. She would finish her morning absolutions in much of the same fashion, but just as she had the last few days, the doctor added something new. She reached the sink to open the cupboard, pulling out a hairdryer in lieu of the brushing she'd receive from her blonde housemate more often than not. Bobbi swallowed hard as her heart clenched. I guess I didn't realize I'd miss the little things so much.

There would be no Billy; no shared moments; and no laughter. It all left her with a hollowness that went incredibly deep. Broad shoulders sagged. I messed up so bad she won't even let me near her or Peanut and that hurts just as much. She keeps them in that room, waiting for me to leave for the day. It's like starting all over again. Bobbi vehemently threw the toothbrush into the sink. I don't want to start over. We've come so damned far or at least I thought we had. I am so confused here. A slight whimper broke through her reverie. The doctor glanced down at Taz as he entered the bathroom. "At least she let you out to see me, huh boy?"


"Yeah, I miss her too. I wish you could really talk and tell me what happened. Everything sounded okay on the phone. What in the hell happened between that time and when I got home?"


"I'm left talking to a door, and I know she can hear me. I can almost feel her. I feel so shut out. God, it even seems hard to breathe. I look like shit, and every time I close my eyes I hear those words, 'You thought wrong. Go away.' I didn't think I could hurt like this,' her voice thickened with emotion.

Taz whimpered again and bumped her leg.

Bobbi sobbed. "I didn't think I could cry anymore either."

The Husky nudged her harder and before she knew it, Bobbi kneeled, wrapping the dog in her embrace. Taz licked her neck and allowed the contact.

"I--I just don't know what to do right now. To top it all off, they're looking for her right now. Oh God," she muffled. Her body shook as she cried heart wrenching sobs that made her chest ache. "I can't lose you guys. I can't." Just the thought of it left a pain so intense it felt as if her insides had been removed violently. "I know she's hurting, but I hurt too. I'm trying to be patient. Still, I don't know how long that's gonna last. It's like I lost something that I need, and sooner or later. . .I have to get it back," Bobbi murmured.

After a few more moments, Bobbi pulled away and stood on weak legs. She swiped at the tears with the backs of her hands and sniffed. "Thanks boy, but I have to get ready for work. I think it's the only thing keeping me sane." She ruffled the fur at the top of the Husky's head. "And the patients love having you around. It helps with Jan being out the last few days. I guess this is her way of dealing with what she's going through." She paused and sighed. I can't have her taking off like this, but I kinda feel sorry for her since it's dealing with me. I hope to God she didn't have something to do with this. She dismissed the thought as too fantastic. "Come on, let me get dressed and we'll go fix mom's lunch. Maybe she'll venture out today and go to the library. We know how much she loves it." She sighed, remembering the lunches and diaper bag she'd packed for the last few days that had been left unopened.


The doctor padded into the bedroom and sorted through the clean pile of clothes on the floor. She pulled out a pair of worn Levi's and a simple white t-shirt in need of ironing.


Michelle stood over the crib and stared down at her son. He kicked and cooed dividing his attention between the musical mobile that jingled above him and his mother. Was I ever that innocent and oblivious to the things around me? I don't remember a time. I wish I could wallow in that now if I ever did. I'm tired of thinking, analyzing and coming up with no answers. It seems like months since this happened, but it's only been days. What is going on here? Why am I in here? I can't believe I let that woman get to me. I don't even think she meant what she said. There was something. . . That's not the point. She said it, and it all fits. She sighed and leaned forward to situate the stuffed animals piling up in the crib. Making a decision, the blonde changed tactics and threw the thick carpet on the floor, near the bed, followed by a blanket to cover it. She turned back to her son and scooped him up. "Just like old times, huh?" The petite woman's insides knotted painfully, and she fought the sob that tried to come forth.

"Gaaa!" Toby exclaimed, as he immediately moved into a crawling stance. He spied his favorite toy and ambled toward it purposely. With a sigh, Michelle sat down and rested her back against the bed. Her head bumped against something soft, and she reached back to see what it was. Murphy, the stuffed rabbit, smiled back at her. It reminded her of a different time not too long ago. The blonde sighed as she watched her son's progress from under hooded eyes. What am I doing? Just the other day, I was advocating that we stay and fight, but I've run away. God, I thought I was passed this. But, Max and my mother are so familiar. I've dealt with them most of my life. These feelings are too new and so unknown. The attraction I could deal with, but this. . . I want so much for them to be real. What is it that she feels for me? And me her? I don't understand it, and I can't shake it. I know that she's tried to help and tried to show me. What is THIS, and why her? So many questions, and I thought I was finished with that too. What happened to just living?

An insistent pulling on her socked feet pulled her attention elsewhere. She peered down into her son's smiling face. "Hey sweetie. Mommy is all screwed up inside right now."

"Bi bi!"

Michelle swallowed convulsively. "Wha-what did you say?"


"Oh God," a band of pain squeezed the blonde's chest, as she heard the almost familiar name, but knowing it was just another baby sound. "How could I be so stupid and selfish. You miss her don't you?"

"Gaa!" He answered as if he understood.

"Of course you do, and I took you away from her." That was wrong. That is so wrong. How do I make it right? Again, the fight or flight instinct surged through the blonde. Does she. . . love us? What if she doesn't? What if Janine was right? Where will that leave us? Michelle let out something close to a growl as she put her head in her hands. "It's too much! They're coming, and it's just too much!"

She sat up and her eyes looked around wildly, taking in the still brown backdrop of the shattered mirror along with the rest of the room. Her gaze landed on a nightstand. The book she'd ordered from the college, her school records, and social security card lay on top of it. It had all been left outside her door as the doctor pleaded to talk. Michelle let out a bark of derisive laughter. "And I thought I'd come so far." She jumped slightly, as Toby brushed against her sweat pants encased thigh. He took a seat beside her and began whining as if sensing his mother's spiraling mood.

Michelle scooped him up and brought him to her chest to shush him. "I know," she choked. "I don't mean for this to effect you, but it is." I guess he's not as oblivious as I thought.

Toby hiccupped and clung to his mother's t-shirt.

"I wish someone could help me with this. I could go to Annie, but I get the feeling this is something I have to deal with on my own. I got this weird feeling that she knows too. She didn't ask too many questions when I called and cancelled. To make it even worse, time isn't on my side." For a moment, her thoughts turned to Beatrice. I'll never be able to thank that woman enough. A light bulb suddenly went on. "She must have known about her son. Why else would she warn me?" Michelle shook her head in disbelief. I should be angry that she waited all this time to finally do something, but I can't be. Look at what she is trying to do for me now. It seems more important.

Pushing off on her left arm, the blonde stood shakily. "But so does all of this." She walked toward the glassless mirror. With a free hand, she touched the wooden background, remembering the things she saw there--the girl who stood before it wanting so much to be the woman who stared back at her. Michelle closed her eyes at the feel of her son's tears dampening the skin of her neck. I've taken so many chances for Toby and for myself. Why can't I take the chance with this? She helped with that woman in the mirror, and the way she makes me feel--that is real. A silent epiphany made her eyes blink open. I know that I'll do whatever it takes to beat Max. I know this. He can't harm me anymore. The blonde covered her mouth with her hand. But, they took so much away from me. I don't know what I'm doing here. I'm nowhere near experienced. What if I can't give her what she really needs? What if she realizes that? Is that why I'm letting that woman get to me? I was wrong. He can still hurt me. After all the pain, my fear of more of it has sent me running from one of the most extraordinary things in my life. Would it help if I knew how she felt? If I knew what all this was? Would it really? God, more questions.

With wide eyes, Michelle peered at the decimated mirror. The girl she was has since blossomed into a woman, leading to many discoveries. The question of her sexuality had barely fazed her. It had been a missing piece in the puzzle of her identity that she had long searched for. The prospect of ridicule and hatefulness because of her sexuality had only awakened protective instincts. The doctor's touch uncovered a sensual being. Now, the woman she had become was afraid of moving into the blinding light that now surrounded her because of it had surpassed anything she thought possible. "Where do I go from here?" She whispered.

A soft knock at the bedroom door startled her. Knowing who was there, Michelle walked toward it and waited. Bobbi put her ear against the cool wood, hearing movement. She stepped back, shifted from foot to foot, and stared at the barrier as if she could see through it. "I know you're there. I can feel you. We're leaving in a few minutes, and I fixed you guys' lunch just in case you go to the library today." The doctor swallowed and reached out to caress the door. She then placed her hand flat against it. "I know that I've been saying this for the past few days, but it hasn't changed. I screwed up," Her voice was strained and hoarse. "But I'm here, and I miss you guys. . .so much," her voice broke, and she covered her mouth with a hand to prevent a sob from escaping. "How's Peanut doing?" Envisioning the infant, Bobbi smiled shakily. "I think of him as mine too, you know? He took my heart when I wasn't looking. I didn't have a chance. I guess both of you did. I mean that." The brunette wiped at the tears that suddenly sprang to her eyes. "Was what I did so wrong that you won't even let me see him? I don't know what to do here. You have to help me." Bobbi held her breath and waited. Please throw me a bone here, Chelle. Talk to me. Anything. Taz huddled close to her in his attempt to provide comfort.

Michelle refused to wipe at the tears streaming down her cheeks. She touched the door. It seemed almost hot, as if she could feel the doctor's heat fusing with the sturdy wood. She opened her mouth to speak, but something choked her. It's wrong to mislead her about this. I should at least tell her that much. I should at least have the courage to tell her that much. Her lips parted again, and this time words followed. "I--it's not that, and it's not you."

The doctor's breath came out in a loud whoosh. Her insides began to shake along with hands. She clenched them into fists to keep from reaching for the door knob. The voice she had longed to hear surrounding her and sounded like the sweetest of music. Oh God. It took her a full minute to decipher what was said. "What did you say?"

"It's me. Not you," she repeated louder. "It's me. I. . .it's me." I don't know what else to say right now.

Bobbi's heart leapt into her throat almost choking her. "Do you. . . want to talk about it?" She asked hopefully. Please say yes. Please. I don't know how much longer I can take this. If it's not me what is it? Oh God, does she not want us anymore? She wanted to ask but could not summon the courage. Just the thought of them ending sent the doctor into a tailspin.

Michelle shook her head. "No, no it's something. . .not yet," she returned, hoping that the other woman could unscramble her attempts at speech.

"Oh." The word leaked out before she could think. She followed up with, "I s'pose that's something. Isn't it?" Ugh, that didn't come out right. "I mean," she corrected almost immediately, "Okay," she paused, trying to get the pain out of her voice. "Okay." She didn't succeed. The word came out husky and thick. Damn it, Chelle. What am I supposed to do? This can't be over.

Michelle closed her eyes and sighed, hearing the emotion in the doctor's voice. Her heart clenched. I'm hurting her. "I'm sorry."

"I'm gonna go," Bobbi added. "Be back around 3 o'clock or so." With a heavy heart, she turned and walked away with the Husky at her side.

Before she could answer, the sound of retreating footsteps reached the blonde's ear. "Okay," she whispered into the air. Michelle looked down at Toby, who had quieted. He stared at the door with confused eyes. He recognized her voice. I won't keep them from each other. That's way too self-centered of me. I can't give her any answers, but I can give her this. Finally, she wiped at the drying tears.


Bobbi walked down the short hall leading to her office. She swallowed down the thick, sour taste of bile that threatened to engulf her. I can't lose what it took me all these years to find. The doctor clutched her chest to ward off the almost physical ache. It felt empty and torn inside. It didn't stop the searing pain from singeing across her nerves. She stopped mid-stride and closed her eyes, as the last eight months flashed before her. Each image, feeling, and instance left her so full that she reached out as if to touch them. Bobbi sobbed when her hands fell away empty. Still, she had taken away the most profound of realizations. In the intensity of her agony, Bobbi discovered a love that almost blinded her. She looked back over her shoulder toward the door leading to the kitchen, wanting to profess her new found knowledge. Suddenly unsure of everything, including their future, the doctor stumbled. She put her hand against the wall to steady herself. The uncertainty moved her forward toward the office instead of back to the woman in the room. I need to think about this now more than ever.


Janine pulled up the shade of the one window in her room. The screeching sound of metal plates clumping together and moving upward grated on her nerves. However, it did not deter her. The dark room was suddenly awash with light. She blinked and peered out into the brightness that was day. For once in a long, long time, the light seeped inside. The nurse pushed a hand through her hair, feeling its disarray.

In a series of smooth motions, she reached for a nearby chair and pulled it toward the sunshine. Brushing a hand down the back of her gown, Janine took a seat and continued to stare at the life teeming outside. The bushes that lined the old woman's house swayed slightly in the wind. The nurse watched avidly as tiny birds came and went. Finally, her eyes trained on a piece of white paper that blew lazily across the green lawn. I see. I see everything now, and it took my own cruelty to do it. If I could go back and apologize I would. Janine hadn't found the absolution she had been searching for in the bottom of a vodka bottle or in a woman she knew would never want her. It was found in anger--the harsh truth uttered from behind flashing green eyes. She sat in that truth and stewed in it for days before her mind could wrap around it.

Janine glanced at the still silent phone, wondering why it had not rung, wondering why she had not heard Bobbi's voice on the other end raised in anger and sizzling with hate. She closed her eyes and sighed somehow knowing that each unkind word she had uttered to the blonde had been taken to heart. Despite her heavy thoughts, her stomach rumbled. The brunette eased up from the chair a little and reached toward the small refrigerator bought with money from her first paycheck. Taking out a container of yogurt, she got up to look for her supply of plasticware.

Again, her thoughts turned inward. Why would she believe me? We don't know each other, but everythin' she said about me was the truth I knew but wasn't willin' to face. I can't help but face it now. I've been so many people for so long that I became nobody, just a shadow clingin' to anything and anybody who reached out to me. It was all just an excuse wasn't it? My mother and all the pain--it was an excuse to get away with all the things that I did. I could have done the right thing every time but the wrong way was easier. What does she have that I don't? The answer is easy really--sincerity, honesty and truth. Some things I never possessed. Now that I know all this, I could lose everything else. I could tell Bobbi everything, but what will that do other than hurt everybody even more? Maybe I should just let this play out on its own.


Chapter 51

Bobbi's mind continued to whir as she saw patient after patient, but she was no closer to figuring out what was going on. All I know is that I hurt and I love her. Her usual cordial bedside manner had been abandoned, leaving a curt and almost cold woman behind. Patients showed their concern by constantly asking, "Are you okay?" The three words had become foul in her mind, and she tried not to cringe as she heard them time and time again.

She sighed as she flipped through the chart of the man sitting before her, and for the fifty millionth time, she rubbed a hand across her face as if she could wash away the gaunt, haunted features that had given everybody pause. Bobbi flicked the chart closed and with cool eyes, appraised the old man sitting on the exam table. Even at his age he stood tall and lanky, but his face was creased with wrinkles and whiskers. "Mr. Hartman, you get this every year. How many times have I told you that those tonsils should come out?"

The old man blinked owlishly. "Eh, too busy with the gun shop. Don't have the time to be laid up."

Bobbi pinched the bridge of her nose in an attempt to keep herself from yelling at the man. "It's a simple procedure, even for someone your age. There could be complications, but the surgeon would monitor things like that. Aren't you tired of going through the pain?" Bobbi almost snorted. What a thing to say. I'd probably go through hell with her just as long as she was by my side.

"Yea, I reckon I am, but ya always fix me up right nicely." He scratched at the whiskers on his face and gave her a grin, showing pristine white dentures.

"Yeah, I do don't I?" The doctor asked as she reached up to feel the undoubtedly swollen glands on the side of his neck. "So how's business?"

He winched then grinned again. "Boomin' as ever. Everybody needs protection."

Bobbi blinked and sucked in a breath. Jesus, why didn't I think of this before? How are we gonna protect ourselves without anything to do it with? It's just as well that Chelle's staying home. At least I know where she is. Still, if she wanted to go to the library, how could I stop her if that's what she wanted to do? That would put us back in the same predicament as before the argument. "Mr. Hartman? What if I told you that I was in the market for some protection?"

He chuckled. "Get yourself an alarm system?"

Bobbi shook her head. "I don't have the time."

He eyed the doctor. "I don't sell girly weapons."

The brunette tried very hard not to smile. She did anyway, but it was more a baring of teeth. "I don't wanna shoot any girly weapons."

"Hmm, I'd suggest a .38 or .357 Magnum, but you gotta wait two weeks for the background check."

Bobbi bared her teeth again. "I may not have two weeks. Is there something. . . I can borrow?"

He eyed her warily. "That's illegal ya know?"

"I won't remember this conversation if you won't. Mr. Hartman, please?" A pleading note crept into her voice and no doubt showed on her face.

Mr. Hartman's expression soften. "Aww, hell I always had a soft spot for ya even when your daddy was alive. You're in trouble? That's why ya look like that?"

Bobbi nodded.

"S'pose I could let you borrow from my own private stash after all ya done for me. Gonna file the serial number off though. Makes it safer for both of us. Come see me in the morning. Is that soon enough?"

The doctor nodded again and resisted from hugging the man. Now we both need to learn how to shoot it. "Thank you so much," she did not bother keeping the emotion from her voice. Her heart seized. It's something--not much, but it's something. With blurry eyes, she looked down at her prescription pad and started writing. With a flick of her wrist, she tore the slip of paper away. "Um, take these twice a day until they're gone."

The man eased down from the table and reached for his shirt. "Will do."

Bobbi pulled open the exam room door, and the sound of laughter both juvenile and adult met her ears, followed by excited barking. She ignored it, knowing that Taz had the last few remaining patients in hand. The doctor headed to her office. Once the white coat was off, broad shoulders slumped. On tired feet, she ambled toward her desk. Bobbi leaned back in the leather chair, causing it to groan in protest. Blue eyes closed as she tried to collect herself. A gun. I never thought it would come to this, but I guess I was just fooling my self. I should have known that no one would let a woman like Michelle go. Hell, I can't and I won't. The funny thing is that I could lose her either way.

The brunette's stomach growled. She had missed lunch again. In fact, she had barely eaten at all in the last few days. I guess it really is the little things that end up being huge. Nothing is the same. She blew bangs away from her eyes. I always thought that if I fell in love the moment would be full of bells and whistles. Now, I'm scared that it won't be full of anything at all. She's distancing herself from me. In a way, I guess she already left. God, this isn't the time. There's too much going on. We have so much to deal with and she's shutting me out! "Damn it!" Bobbi slammed her fist against the desk. "I don't think I ever felt this helpless even when she first started staying here." Now, I love her. Just acknowledging the words made her heart triple in beats. "When haven't I loved her? When hasn't some part of me wanted her? It seems like it's been forever. God, ma. I wish you were here. What do I do with this?"

Scratching outside her door alerted her to the passage of time. Bobbi got up clumsily and put her lab coat back on. She pulled open the door to see Taz sitting there smiling and wagging his tail enthusiastically. "Through entertaining the guests?" She asked mildly.


"There's a late lunch in the office for you." The doctor opened the door wide for him. "Go on." Taz did not hesitate. Bobbi readjusted her stethoscope and walked toward the waiting area ---no less confused and no less hurt.


Michelle leaned back against the couch. Her now nearly shoulder length hair fanned out on the cushion. She crossed her legs in an attempt to become more comfortable on the floor. Toby sat nearby fiddling with his keys as if he'd discovered some hidden secret about them. Totally at home in just a t-shirt, bib and diaper, he cooed contentedly.

The blonde pressed the buttons on the remote whizzing through the channels for the hundredth time. None of her usual favorites held her interest. It almost seemed sacrilegious to watch them alone, but she tried in an effort to ebb her swirling thoughts. Nothing worked, and her bafflement and fears returned time and time again to haunt her. She fought the urge to throw the remote across the room. Why can't I be normal? She almost laughed. But, I guess this is normal to be jealous of someone who has something I don't. God, she was so right. I don't know anything. I shouldn't have to go through this. Nobody should. Everything seems to be against me, except Bobbi. How much more of this can she take though? I'm hurting, and so is she. This doesn't fix anything. It just makes it even worse all the way around. There's just so many questions and so much confusion. The more I think. The more jumbled up my head gets. I wish I could just feel and act. It could make things so much simpler. Michelle groaned in exasperation.

I don't have a frame of reference for this. I don't have one for anything. All I know is that I'm hurting everybody, and I don't really know how to make it stop. Michelle pillowed her head against the couch cushion. How can she put up with me? I've given her nothing the past few days. How could I let her believe this was her fault? I didn't know I could be so stupid and selfish, not after everything that's happened to me. But, here I am still scared after all this time.

The petite woman peered at the time flashing on the digital cable box. "I should be fixing dinner, but I can't bring myself to do it. I can barely eat myself. Nothing feels right. Nothing feels the same." She sighed and rose to her feet. Toby stared up at her as she scooped him up. "Be right back. Just gonna go to the bathroom, okay?"

"Gaaa!" Toby exclaimed as she put him in the playpen.


A few minutes later, Bobbi and Taz entered the kitchen. Stopping mid-stride, she noticed something different almost right away--the blare of the television. She sat the Husky's empty food and water dish down and followed him to the living room. Her heart jumped in her throat as she neared the area. Does this means she's ready to talk?

Keen blue eyes searched the area. Disappointment made her body slump physically when she saw the blonde was missing. "Gaa!" Bobbi glanced to the corner of the room where the noise originated. Blue-green eyes peered at her through the mesh of the playpen. Elation grabbed hold of her and wouldn't let go. "Peanut!"

Taz even wuffed and danced around the doctor's legs.

Toby bounced happily and reached his arms upward as the brunette approached. Without hesitation, Bobbi swooped him up. The infant chuckled with glee. He grabbed hold of the ends of her now unencumbered hair and smiled goofily up at the woman. The doctor's heart swelled. "I missed you so much." I didn't realize how much until now. She pressed him into her chest, and he immediately nuzzled her neck. Bobbi sobbed in relief. "I was sorta thinking that you would forget me, kiddo."

Toby looked up at her again and cooed as if he understood every word.

Michelle heard the commotion as she exited the bathroom. As she got closer, her heart stopped in her chest then threatened to beat out of her. She stood at the mouth of the hall looking at the most beautiful sight she had ever seen. Her insides melted and messily tried to reform themselves, leaving her shaky but giddy. The petite blonde tried to take a deep breath only to gasp as she realized she had none. It was then that she saw the complete picture. Each missing puzzle piece rammed themselves home, creating a picture that was larger than life. THIS was right. THIS was meant to be. This was what she should have always had. Love. She'd read about it time and time again in the fanfic that she'd become addicted to. I should have known. I love Toby, but this is so different so very different. There was no single word to describe it, but she felt it. Her stomach turned over and tied in almost painful knots, and her knees wobbled scandalously. In that one brief moment, it all became clear. That's what this is. Oh God.

Taz chose that moment to bark excitedly as her headed toward his mistress.

Blue and green met. The room became smaller, almost box like, and time seem to pass at a slow crawl. Michelle was aware of everything--the thud of her heart, the roar of blood in her ears, and her broken breathing. Most of all, she was aware of the woman standing fifteen feet away. Heat blasted her, making her shiver in its wake. She opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. Her mind was blank except for the three words that kept repeating themselves. I love her.

With hungry eyes, Bobbi took in every inch of the woman before her. Michelle looked like she felt, but she was still the most wonderful vision. She ached to reach out. Every bone in her body, every muscle was screaming for it, causing her to tremble. She's right here. Right here in front of me. Everything is right here in front of me. She took a tentative step forward then stopped. But will she go away if I reach out for her? All of a sudden, it didn't matter, knowing that she'd give chase if she had to. "Chelle."

That one word was filled with such longing, such reverence that it made the blonde want to run away and run toward it at the same time. She whimpered and stepped away, turning quickly and running to the safety of her bedroom. Emotion shook her with each step. What if she doesn't feel this? She never wanted something so much in her life, and it scared her. It terrified her.

Alarmed, Bobbi called out, "Chelle, no!" Hastily, she put Toby back in his playpen and ordered the Husky to stay. Toby whined in complaint but finding his keys not far in front of him quieted him.

Bobbi heard the bedroom door slam, and she raced into action. In a matter of seconds, she was there. Anger and fear burst inside her, but it was surrounded by a love that burned brighter than any star. Not knowing what else to do, the doctor banged against the wood with a closed fist. I have to make her understand. I can't hold this in forever. I can't go on like this anymore.

On the other side, Michelle yelped in surprise at the loud knocking. She moved away and stared at the door separating her from what she wanted most. She covered her mouth with a hand, wanting so much to open the door and at the same time wanting it to be opened. A little part of her jumped in glee as the pounding continued, while other parts warred within--some telling her to stay and wait while others screamed at her to take action. For the moment, Michelle stood frozen.

"Chelle, please. I can't do this anymore. I love you! Don't you understand?!" Bobbi sucked in a breath as she realized what she had revealed. I needed to say it. Her hands dropped to her side, and a calm washed over her. "I love you," she whispered. "I don't remember a day that I didn't."

Michelle gasped as enlightenment dawned. The nurse. She was totally right! The not knowing was bothering me the most. Maybe that's where the jealousy came from. . .

"Chelle, please," Bobbi pleaded. "Say something. Anything."

The blonde's thoughts scrambled as she moved toward the door as if pulled. She reached out to touch the usually cool wood and found it just as it was this morning, warm to the touch. Without a moments more hesitation, she pulled the door open. Bobbi stood before her poised to knock again. Their eyes met, and Michelle saw everything laid bare in the dazzling blues. It was the same look the brunette had many times before. This time, Michelle recognized it for what it was, what she longed it to be all along--love. "Bobbi," she sobbed, and without another word, the blonde launched herself into the doctor's arms.

Bobbi gasped as the remaining breath she had left her. It didn't matter. Today, breathing wasn't important. This was. She buried her face in wheat colored hair and tightened the embrace. I can't get close enough. "God, you feel so good. I've missed this so much." Their connection sizzled between them even stronger than before. The brunette was sure she would come away burned.

Michelle whimpered and tried to burrow even closer. "No matter what happens. I can't be without you. I can't," she muffled.

The doctor swallowed but the tears came anyway. "Look at me."

The blonde did as she was told. Her eyes widen when she saw the trail of tears. It started her own. "Oh God, I'm sorry. I never meant to make you cry. There was just so much--"

"Shhh," Bobbi muttered. She lifted a hand and brushed back the petite woman's bangs. "It's more of a release than anything bad. They're happy tears too." She sniffed. "I just want you to know that I meant what I said. I do love you. I just wanted you to know." Bobbi's insides cringed. Why are you lying to yourself? Get past the stoic thing. I need to tell her what I want, what I need. She took a deep shaky breath. "No, that's not all. I wanna hear it from you when you're ready to say it."

Michelle smiled crookedly, making her nose scrunch. Why should I hide this? There's no reason to. No reason at all.

Bobbi couldn't help but smile back. "What's that look for?"

"I'm ready."

"For. . .oh." The breath whooshed from the doctor's chest. She searched for words to say. Bobbi licked her lips and opened her mouth, "Oh."

"I love you." I said it. I said it!

Bobbi grinned goofily. "Oh. . .yeah?"

"Yeah. All this time, I didn't know what it was. I only knew it was the most overwhelming and wonderful feeling. I was so scared." She reached up with trembling hands to trace the doctor's features. "I still am. I don't know how to do this."

Bobbi reached for a hand and kissed it. "We've been here before haven't we?" She chuckled. "Still, honestly, I don't either, but that's beside the point. Don't you think?"

"Yeah." Her smile faltered a bit. "But there's so much to talk about. So much--" Her thoughts went to the nurse and the present danger they were in.

"I know," the brunette interrupted. "Right now. Let's just. . .this." Bobbi's gaze lowered along with her head. Lips brushed tentatively, and Michelle murmured in contentment before going back for more, tasting the tang of dried tears and the sweetness of the doctor's mouth. The kiss turned deep, soft, and achingly gentle. They moaned into it, exchanging breath and renewing themselves at the same time.

A hard shove nearly toppled them over. Bobbi tore her mouth away, but not her eyes. The nudge came again, and they both glanced down to the side.

"Wuff!" Taz looked up at them excitedly.

The doctor chuckled. "I guess he missed you too."

"Gaaa! Bi bi!" Came the cry of indignation from the living room.

A dark brow raised. "He learned a new sound?" I hope I'm there for every new one from now on.

Michelle sighed in regret. "Yeah, just this morning."

"I think he's calling us." Bobbi mumbled as she leaned down for another kiss. Thankfully, the pain of the past few days lessened in the embrace.

"I think you're right."

Hand in hand, they moved toward the living room. Taz trailed behind them.


Beatrice stared in astonishment at the woman who sat across from her. The blonde's sunken features seemed to attract her eyes. Dear God, what's happened to her? All of this has done this to her? Marsha's appearance had horribly declined. She looked as if she had aged years instead of months. 

"What are you looking at?" Marsha asked curtly. 

Beatrice flinched but refused to look away. A new confidence had formed, albeit a shaky one. She felt it falter underneath the other woman's cool gaze just as it had under her husband's. Still, it was there, simmering. It had to stay for she had a job to do in seeing after her grandson and daughter-in-law's safety. Somewhere deep, she knew her message had gotten through, and it eased her, bolstered her, somewhat. It's just beginning. To make matters even worse, all three of them are gone. I saw it in my son's eyes when he raised his hand to me, and I see it in hers. We're a family of monsters. Michelle, you can never come home to this. She got up and slowly moved toward the cabinet.

Now that's more like it. "Why'd that husband of yours call me here?"

Beatrice shrugged and murmured, "I s'pose to give you an update. Um, he has someone out looking. Hard. He's been calling with reports and such," she added.

Marsha snorted. "Coulda called me for that. No need for me to come over here." She refused to admit  that when she she first ventured outside, she shrank from the sun as if it was burning her. Nothing was the same. She felt hollow as if a good breeze could sweep her away, never to return. I'm tired. So damn tired. She jumped when the drink landed in front of her. Acknowledging it with a grunt, the blonde knocked it back neat. She gagged as it went down, hot like fire. Setting the empty glass down with a thump, she appraised the woman across from her once again. "So what do you think about all this," Marsha husked. The whiskey lowered her voice an octave.

Beatrice blinked back at her.

"What are you lookin' at me for now?!"

"You never asked me what I thought about anything before," Beatrice answered helpfully.

"Well, I am now! Answer the damn question."

"I don't have an opinion," Beatrice murmured and looked away not trusting this woman for an instant.

Marsha cackled unpleasantly. "Good answer. Won't get you in trouble."

We are pathetic women, Beatrice wanted to say, but instead she uttered, "I've become good. . .at that." Her brows drew together. This was indeed the strangest conversation. It was the most words they had ever uttered to each other.

"Well, we all have our talents. I guess."

The kitchen door burst open, admitting Max Sr. and son, who lagged behind him. They sucked the words out of the room along with the brightness of the day. Fear crept up Beatrice's spine. She felt as though she was in a room full of sharks. Somehow, she clamped down on the overwhelming emotion. I'm doing all of this for a reason. Keep your mind on the reason. Nothing else matters. Without looking at her family, she rose meekly and headed for the cabinet, intending to pour more drinks.

Give me a holler whether you enjoyed it or not at Minerva 

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