By Queenfor4




Disclaimers1: Xena and Gabrielle belong to Renpic. And, this being an Uberish tale, the main characters will bear a physical resemblance to them, but that’s as far as is goes. Oh, and two supporting characters will be named after them. But it’s meant strictly as a tribute; nothing more. J

Disclaimers 2: There will be a tiny bit of violence scattered through the story, including one piece dealing with domestic battering and attempted rape. Nothing really intense though. There will also be some swearing scattered throughout the story.

Disclaimers 3: This is an adult alternative romance, which means that there will be sex between two consenting adult females later on down the line. If this bothers you, or is illegal where you live, then please read no further. You have been warned!

Copyrights: All characters mentioned in this story belong to me. Please do not use them, or any portion of this story without talking to me first. The song "Like We Never Had a Broken Heart" belongs to MCA Nashville, Garth Fandis and Trisha Yearwood.

Thanks: I would like to offer sincere and heartfelt thanks to the bestest <g> beta reader a bard could ever ask for. Thank you, Maggie Sheridan. Without your skills, patience, gentle guidance

And boundless encouragement, this story would never have seen the light of day. J


Chapter Fourteen

Megan was bored. She had spent most of the day reading, corresponding with friends, and writing while Randi busied herself with minor chores. Now she was restless, eyesore, and her behind was a little sore from sitting all day. She was in dire need of some pampering, Some hot chocolate and cookies would do nicely right now, or at least someone to talk to. A certain tall, dark-haired doctor would do quite well too, her little 'Charly' voice helpfully supplied. Knock it off, the voice of reason admonished, as she began her search for the woman in question. It's not like there are a whole bunch of other people here to talk to. This is true, little Charly agreed, but you have to admit, the delightful Dr. Oakes is quickly moving up on that short list of people whose company you truly enjoy. Quite an accomplishment for one of those people, wouldn't you say? "Oh, shut up," the blonde muttered aloud, effectively ending the debate.

As much as she didn't want to, Megan had to admit, she did enjoy the tall woman's company. It had been a week since that night she had heard Randi cry out in her sleep. A week in which, against all odds, the two women had grown closer. A week of talking, laughing, mid-night snacks, and horror stories of their youth. Their conversations covered a world of topics and often sparked friendly debates that would keep them going until the wee hours of the morning. The only subjects the two women tended to steer clear of, were Megan's mother, and Randi's nightmares. Perhaps someday, the blonde mused, as she motored down the hallway in search of her hostess. She cracked a wry grin at the memory of one such 'debate.'

"Oh baloney! They are too!" the blonde proclaimed obstinately, as she kept trying, and failing, to cross her arms at her chest.

"Hmmm, I'm not so sure about that," the brunette returned, smiling benignly. She was playing 'devil's advocate,' and loving every minute.

"Oh, don't give me that! You're one of them, and if you can't see it, then you're as blind as a bat."

"See what? I've never seen them in a serious lip lock. I've never seen them roll around under the covers. And I'm certain I've never seen the Amazons presenting either one of them with a toaster." The tall woman couldn't help but grin at the green-eyed glare she was receiving.

"Well of course you're not going to see that, the producers aren't stupid," the writer huffed, fully aware she was being baited, but enjoying herself anyway. "But you can still tell. I mean, look at how touchy-feely they are with each other. That's …Ooowww" the blonde suddenly stiffened her foot, "cramp," she groaned.

The brunette rose from her chair and crossed the room. Kneeling next to the bed, she uncovered and gently lifted the affected foot and began to massage it. "Are you talking about the consoling hugs, or the gentle touches?" Receiving no response, the doctor looked up into green eyes that were half closed in hedonistic pleasure from the gentle massage. "Or are you referring to how they tend to each other's hurts…" suppressing a grin as she felt the cramped muscle relax. "Offer comfort to each other when it's needed." She placed the foot back on the bed and pulled the cover back over it. Moving up to the head, she removed the extra pillow from behind the blonde, allowing her to lie prone in the bed. The writer remained quiet; listening and gazing fixedly through half-closed eyes as the tall woman tucked the covers around her. "Is that what you're talking about?" Randi leaned over and tenderly brushed away an errant lock of blond hair. "It doesn't necessarily mean they're lovers…" As the writer surrendered to slumber's call, twinkling blue eyes and whispered words followed her into Morpheus' realm.

"…It just means they're friends."

As the blonde neared her destination, she couldn't help but marvel at the smooth, subtle ease with which the doctor proved her point. She was caring for me the same way they care for each other, and we're not lovers. Very smooth, doctor.

Aha, found ya, the writer gloated when she heard the telltale 'clank' of barbells. Time to…Oh, my! The blonde's thought processes were put on immediate hold as she gazed in fascination at the sweating, straining figure lying on the slender metal bench. The tall doctor was doing reps with a set of barbells that, judging from the size of the metal discs on each side, had to weigh a great deal. God, she's lifting that thing like it was made of paper! Indeed, the only telltale signs of the effort Randi was putting into her chore were the even, labored breaths she was taking, and the rhythmic bunching and flexing of marvelously pronounced muscles. Good grief, no wonder she can lift me like I weighed nothing. This woman is built! And speaking of built, little Charly mischievously piped up as the writers eyes, quite unconsciously, began a thorough perusal of the body on the bench. From the long, tapered fingers that gripped the barbell, to the sneaker covered feet that were planted firmly on the floor, fascinated eyes covered every inch. My word, she is a goddess! On their return trip from the doctor's feet, the green eyes seemed intent on focusing on the full breasts, hard abdomen, and lean thighs that were painfully highlighted by the sweat-soaked clothing that clung to them. And try as she might to peruse other areas, the writer's gaze stubbornly kept returning to those rock hard thighs and, much to her consternation, the forbidden area in between. Unconsciously, she licked her lips, and was startled by the fluttering in her lower belly. Oh, this isn't good…this isn't good at all. I think I need some cold water…to drink. Yup, a good, cold glass of water. With her mind set on beating a hasty retreat, the blonde reached for the control switch and began to turn the chair around.

"Hello there."

Oh, crap!

The writer turned the chair back around, plastering an innocent smile on her face and silently praying that her cheeks were not as red as they felt. "Um, hi there."

"Is everything okay?" the brunette inquired, as she toweled the sweat from her face.

"Uh, everything's fine," the writer semi-squeaked. If she thought her body's reactions were bad before, when Randi was on the bench, they were worse now. The tall woman stood less than five feet away from her. Close enough for the writer to see the droplets of sweat that traveled down the woman's chest, to disappear into her cleavage. Close enough to notice the small, pert nipples that were not quite erect, but not quite relaxed either. Close enough to smell the sweat, and the fragrance of hyacinth the she had come to associate with the tall doctor. And close enough for the little homophobic voice to be having a total meltdown.

"Are you sure?" the doctor inquired, mildly concerned. "You're looking a little pink." She wanted to feel the smaller woman's forehead, to check for fever, but the slightly wild look in the writer's eyes told her it would not be a good idea right now.

"Oh, yeah, I'm fine," the writer waved off the concern. "It's just a little warm in here."

Not believing her for a moment, but deciding not to press the issue, the brunette shrugged. "Yeah, it tends to get a little humid in here when I'm exercising."

Not getting a response from the smaller woman, and needing to dispel the odd tension in the air, the tall woman spoke again. "Hey, why don't we make our way to the living room and I'll pour you a nice, cold glass of iced tea. And while you're sipping on that, I'll jump in the shower and hose myself off, then come back and make us a couple of sandwiches?"

Bless you, doctor! "That sounds like a winner," the younger woman agreed with a silent sigh of relief.

Megan sat in front of the picture window idly sipping her iced tea. At first glance, one would assume that she was enjoying the picturesque view. Truth to tell, she wasn't even seeing it. She was too wrapped up in the battle that was going on inside her head. What the fuck are you doing? the homophobe was screaming. First you stop treating her like the dirtbag she is, then you start talking to her…being nice to her…talking to her like you two are old friends. And now you're drooling over her while she's lifting weights. You're becoming a pervert…just like them, the voice finished in a hiss. No I'm not! she retorted vehemently. I was not 'drooling', I was just impressed by her physique, the writer defended, earning a derisive snort from the homophobe. And as for being nice to her, why the hell not? She's been good to me when she had absolutely no reason to be. She's helping me realize that the world isn't as black and white as you want me to think. That not every gay woman is evil. That some of them are wonderfully kind…and giving…and caring, the writer trailed off as the burn of burgeoning tears stung her eyes. Kind of like someone you used to know, eh, little one? little Charly gently whispered. No! Don't you even go there! the writer snarled. If she really cared she would have written to me, she would have called, she wouldn't have left me so alone.

"So alone," the writer croaked aloud as she buried her face in her hands and gave way to the tears that had been building for years.

In a far corner of the room, two pair of eyes watched the young woman dissolve into tears. Both of them were distressed by the scene, but neither moved. No, this one was not for them to comfort. This was a job for the other; and she would be here soon.


Randi stood with her hands braced against the shower wall. Her head hung limply between outstretched arms, and she groaned in near-orgasmic bliss as the pounding spray of the twin showerheads assaulted her body from shoulders to calves. The hot, pulsing water massaged and relaxed tight, well-worked muscles, pushing the tall woman into a state of near boneless lassitude while her mind replayed the events in the weights room. She had been aware of the small woman's presence in the doorway, but, as the woman hadn't tried to get her attention in any way, she saw no need to interrupt her workout, figuring that everything was fine, and the young woman was just watching her out of idle curiosity. However, the sight of the writer as she approached her caused the doctor to re-think her earlier assessment. The younger woman's face was flushed, her eyes wide and slightly glassy. Her pupils, what little there was of them, had taken on a darker shade, and her breathing was slightly elevated. The doctor was immediately concerned but, not wanting to argue with her patient, accepted her word that it was just the heat. I don't buy that for a minute. Room temperature doesn't make your eyes go all glassy and dark. And it certainly doesn't elevate your breathing…unless the heat is a little more extreme. No, she was showing all the signs of being totally embarrassed, or flustered, or… Randi's head shot up and her eyes grew saucer wide as the final thought hit her. Or aroused!!?? Oh no, no way…huh uh…no possible way, Randi's mind shouted furiously, as she turned and grabbed the soap. This is not happening. This is your overactive imagination, Oakes. Yes, she's beautiful. Yes, she's bright, and witty, and warm, but… she is not that way…she never will be that way…she doesn't like that way. And even if she's having doubts and wants to try that way, you will not be her guinea pig! So derail that train of thought and drop the whole issue. Accept her explanation and leave it at that.

Randi sighed as she stepped out of the shower and grabbed her towel. Part of her was glad that her conscience knocked some sense into her head. But another part of her ached at things that could never be.

Chapter Fifteen

Randi padded into the kitchen humming to herself and feeling invigorated after her shower. Pulling the bread from the cabinet, she paused. I should bring her in here and find out what kind of sandwich she'd like. Having made that decision she put down the bread and exited the kitchen; stopping dead in her tracks when she heard muffled sobbing. Megan?? Shit! With her heart in her throat she scrambled into the livingroom and dropped to her knees beside the sobbing woman. "Megan, what's wrong? Are you sick? Is something hurting? The doctor fired off the questions while doing a rapid visual inspection. The only response she received to her questions was a quick headshake as the woman continued to cry.

With a low growl, the doctor allowed her heart to overrule her caution as she removed the armrest from the chair and slid her arms underneath and behind the small woman and, being careful of the injured limbs, lifted her out of the chair. In one smooth motion, she sat back on her behind and lowered the smaller woman onto her lap. Wrapping long arms around the quivering frame, she murmured soft reassurances.

Quickly overcoming her surprise at the doctor's actions, the heartsick woman accepted the comfort that was being offered and burrowed deeply into the warm softness. Whatever emotional walls she had left came tumbling down as a bitter, confused and lonely young woman convulsed in sobs; repeating two words over and over again, like a mantra. "So alone. So alone. So alone."

Randi felt her own heart breaking as she held the quivering body tightly. "It's okay," she crooned, "you're not alone. I'm here. I've got you."

I'm here, Megan. And I'll be here for you as long as you need me.


The dwindling remains of daylight cast silvered shadows throughout the room, and gently highlighted the huddled figures on the floor. The smaller woman lay limply against the larger body; having cried herself into a state of near exhaustion. The larger woman sat placidly with her head lolling back on the cushions of the couch she was leaning against. Her arms, though loose in their grip, still surrounded the young woman; continuing to offer what comfort they could.

Finally marshaling her strength, the writer lifted her head and drew back some from her warm haven; looking up into liquid blue eyes that radiated so much caring and concern that it almost made her break into tears again.

"I'm, uh…I'm sorry," the blonde rasped, "I don't…I couldn't …"

"Don't," Randi gently interrupted her. "You have nothing to apologize for. You've been through a great deal these past five weeks. You've had to deal with the pain of your injuries, the fear and uncertainty of being trapped and helpless in an unfamiliar environment. You've been forced to co-exist with, and submit to, an individual who represents everything you detest." Alert green eyes caught the flash of hurt accompanying that statement before Randi concealed it and continued. "And to top it all off, you've had to go through all this alone; without family or even a friend who could hold your hand and tell you it's gonna be okay. Considering all that," Randi tenderly brushed a lock of hair away from watery green eyes and smiled, "a good, heavy crying jag is nothing. You're a good, brave, strong woman, Megan Galagher, and, circumstances aside, I'm glad I got to know you."

Oh, god. The blonde buried her face in the warm hollow of the doctor's collarbone; no longer able to face that sweet smile and warm, caring eyes. "Thank you," she mumbled from her hiding place. Then gathering her courage and raising her head, she reconnected with those blue orbs. "Thank you, Randi, for so…many things. Thank you for rescuing me. Thank you for healing me. Thank you for giving me your best when all I gave you was grief." There was a long, thoughtful pause, then she added, "Thank you for being better than me."

Randi's attempt to dispute the last statement was cut short by three fingers that gently covered her lips. A golden head cocked slightly and full lips offered just a hint of a smile. You know I'm right, Randi.

Finally, blue eyes blinked in acknowledgment and a single, grateful tear slid down a beautifully sculpted cheek.

Megan smiled and, with some regret, removed her fingers from the wonderfully soft lips. Feeling that both of them needed to regroup from the intensity of the last hour, the blonde took a deep breath and grinned sheepishly.

"I don't know about you, but I'm famished."

Randi smiled, knowing this was a thinly disguised attempt to allow both of them some 'breathing room'. "Come to think of it, I am too." Taking their current positions into account, the tall woman gave a few moments' thought, and came up with a plan. "Okay, I need to get up and, in order to do that, I'm gonna have to set you on the floor for a moment. Is that okay?"

"What?" the blonde feigned indignation. You mean you can't just flex those well exercised muscles of yours and simply sweep us both up off this floor?"

The brunette grinned wryly at the jibe. "Well, normally I could. But as I've been sitting here for the past hour with a certain blonde in my lap, my legs have fallen asleep. And I'm gonna have to move that certain blonde to get some circulation back."

"Suuurre, blame it on the blonde," the writer returned with a roll of her eyes, then squeaked out a yelp as she was effortlessly lifted in strong arms and shifted to the left before being gently deposited on the carpet. Green eyes watched with barely concealed admiration as the raven-haired woman rose with fluid grace. She gave herself a small moment to regain the feeling in her legs, then reached down and gathered the smaller woman into her arms.

"Okay, chair or couch; where would you like me to dump…er…place you?" the doctor grinned rakishly at the narrow-eyed glare her intentional gaff produced.

"The couch, if you please," the writer huffed with playful indignity. "My butt's a little sore from sitting in the chair for so long."

I will not go there…I will not go there…I will not go there. "Your wish is my command," the brunette intoned as she deposited her petite patient on the couch, immediately missing the contact.

Placing the ottoman closer to the couch, the doctor gently lifted the younger woman's legs and set them on it.

"How about we do 'light' tonight? I'll put together some sandwiches and heat up some of that French onion soup you like so much."

A blinding smile and eager nodding gave her all the answer she needed. "Great! I'll be back in a little bit." With that, she turned and left the room.

Never aware of green eyes that studiously observed her backside as it exited the room.

Chapter Sixteen

Randi sighed, for perhaps the twentieth time, as she placed the bowl of soup in the microwave and turned it on. She never knew she could feel so good and so bad at the same time. She was happy, no; elated with the unexpected friendship that had developed between her and the once bitter and spiteful young writer. For beneath the veneer of anger and mistrust, there was a bright, witty, gentle, and utterly charming young woman that one could easily fall in love with.

And that was the problem.

Against all odds. Against all good reason. Against every shred of common sense she'd ever possessed, Randi had, indeed, fallen in love with her. And that was the bad part; she knew, without a doubt, that love would never be returned. Hell, she'd do her level best to kill me if she knew. Tears burned her eyes as she chuckled at the bitter irony. Leave it to me to fall in love with a woman who is not only straight, but is homophobic too. I guess it's no less than I deserve, is it, Casey."

The chiming of the microwave interrupted her morose musings. As she set about transferring the soup to smaller bowls, she concentrated on a fact that was as much a source of pain as relief. According to Toby, the main roads are mostly clear, and they'll be able to concentrate on getting my road cleared within the next week or so. Then Ms. Megan can get back to her happy life, and I can get back to …

The intense aching in her heart didn't allow her to finish that thought, as she picked up the dinner tray and walked out of the kitchen.


"Heads up everyone! Meals on heels is headed your way," the doctor cheerfully proclaimed as she entered the room; bringing a bright smile to the young face that, only a moment ago, was wreathed in sober thought.

"God, that smells delightful," the writer exclaimed, as the smells from the steaming bowl of soup assailed her nostrils and made her mouth water.

"Merci," the doctor replied in an exaggerated French accent as she carefully placed the tray in the amused blonde's lap; then sketched a humble bow as she proclaimed, "Nozzing but ze best for Madame."

"Ooohh, tall, dark, beautiful, and charming. Be still, my galloping heart," the blonde retorted, as she batted her eyelashes and mock-fanned her face in a coquettish manner. Did I say beautiful?

"And humble. Don't forget that!" the brunette shot back, as she padded back to the kitchen for her tray. Did she say beautiful?

Ricky Van Shelton crooned in the background as the two women ate in amiable silence. Finally, having reached a decision, Megan cleared her throat.

"She left a few weeks after my fifteenth birthday."

Randi's eyes snapped to the blonde's face, but she kept silent; knowing the young woman was gathering her courage to continue.

"I remember coming home from school in a really great mood." She smiled at the memory. "I got great marks on a really nasty exam that I had been sweating over, and my English teacher, who I thought hated my guts, took a moment to tell me that I was one of her best students, and she believed I had potential in the literary world. I was one happy camper. When I got home, I just about vibrated into the house. I remember running through the house hollering for mom so I could tell her all about it. When I got to the kitchen I saw my dad sitting at the table, which was unusual 'cause he wasn't due home for a couple more hours. Anyway, he was sitting at the table holding a piece of paper, and he said, in this really dead tone of voice, that mom wasn't home. I asked him when she was gonna be home and he didn't answer me. He just handed me the piece of paper." Megan paused, taking deep breaths in an effort to maintain control. Having accomplished this, she continued. "To this day, I remember every word in that short and not-so-sweet little note. It said: 'Dear Peter. I wish I had the courage to tell you this in person but, unfortunately, I don't. Forgive me, Peter, but I can't live with you anymore. Caitlin has been pleading with me for a very long time to move in with her. I have finally agreed. For with her, I will have something that you have been unable to give me for years; and that, dear Peter, is love. I have talked to Edwin, and he has agreed to handle the divorce proceedings. I, of course, will accept all blame and will not seek any material or financial compensation. It is the least I can do. I'm sorry, Peter.' And that was that," the writer sighed heavily, "she never mentioned me at all. No 'see ya, kid' or 'we'll be in touch, Meg.' Just very brief and concise, no embellishments, no apologies…hell, she didn't even sign her name."

"That must have been terrible for you and your dad," the brunette murmured, wanting to reach out and comfort her friend, but not sure if it would be welcome at this point.

"It was seven kinds of hell for me," she admitted. "But, to be honest, I have no idea how it was for my dad." At Randi's puzzled look, the writer explained. "My dad's never been much for showing feelings. He always believed that being emotional or outwardly affectionate was for women and fags." Megan winced inwardly at the word she didn't much care to use anymore. "My mother's desertion only served to make him even more remote. He clothed me and fed me, and made sure I did well in school, and that's as far as it went. If I was lonely, or hurting, well…let's just say I learned to keep it to myself." Megan turned pained eyes to her listener, "Don't get me wrong, Randi. He wasn't cruel, he just…wasn't."

"Your mother never tried to call or visit…at all?" Randi inquired as she removed the trays to a nearby table and curled herself onto the couch, closer to the younger woman. She had a hard time believing that Megan's mother would abandon her daughter just like that. Her husband, maybe…but not her child. And not even a word to her in the note? That's way too odd.

"Oh, she tried to visit, all right," the writer sneered. "Seven years later. She had the nerve to come to my father's funeral. Telling me how sorry she was that he had died and asking to talk to me."

"What did you do?"

Megan had a far away look in her eye. "I told her she had nothing to say that I wanted to hear. If she wanted to talk to me, she should have done so years ago, instead of running off and pretending I didn't exist. She tried telling me she didn't do that, that she loved me, and I guess everything just crashed on me at one time, 'cause I…" Megan faltered, as vivid memories and emotions threatened to overwhelm her. "I hit her," she gasped out. "I slapped her across the face and started screaming at her, telling her not to dare say she loved me, because you don't leave someone you love. You don't hurt her. You don't leave her to wonder what she did wrong to make you leave like that and never see her again. I guess dad's police friends had had enough, 'cause they came and told her to leave. Then they led me back to the car. I remember looking back one last time, and seeing her standing there, with all these tears running down her face, and I thought to myself, now you know how I feel. I never saw her again." The young woman studied her hands as they idly plucked at a loose thread in the blanket that covered her legs. "Pretty pathetic, wasn't I?" she whispered.

"No," the brunette responded, as she placed a large hand over the two smaller ones. "I'd say pretty hurt. You were dealing with a lot of pain at the time. It's quite normal to lash out at someone you feel was responsible for a great deal of that pain."

Megan stiffened. "I didn't just feel that she was responsible…she was responsible. Her and her 'lover.' The last word was spat like a curse.

Okay, she's feeling way too prickly to open a discussion on that subject. Let's go somewhere else. "Who is this Caitlin? Was she a friend of the family?"

Megan relaxed slightly, but retained a scowl. "No. She was my mother's friend. When I was thirteen, mom joined a Tai chi class where Caitlin was one of the instructors. She started out only going there twice a week. But with me spending more time with my friends, and dad spending most of his time at the office anyway, she increased it to five nights a week. After a while, they started spending time together outside of class. Dad didn't seem to pay it much attention He was a CPA, and he spent a lot of time either at the office or hanging out with his cop buddies, who were also his best clients. I didn't pay it much attention either, because Caitlin seemed like a cool person, and I had my friends, so why shouldn't she have hers." Megan closed her eyes as a lonely tear wandered down a pale cheek. "I didn't know friends were supposed to tear families apart," she whispered brokenly.

Megan looked so small and so very lost. And Randi, for the first time, got a glimpse at the sad and lonely young girl that lived inside the bitter and spite-filled woman.

And it broke her heart.

Once again, she allowed her heart to overrule her head, as she spread open her arms; silently offering that young girl the comfort she was denied those long years ago.

And with a sniffle and a sigh, she accepted.

"They're not supposed to," the brunette whispered to the golden head tucked beneath her chin. "And they usually don't. But sometimes it happens. Even when they don't mean it to."

And the evening wore on, much as the afternoon had, with a small body finding a haven in warm, comforting arms. Randi grieved for the pain that her patient had endured, but something in the back of her mind kept telling her that there was more to the story than even Megan knew. But the tall woman doubted she would ever be in a position to find out for sure.


"Are you sure you're ready for this?" the tall doctor questioned with a grin that earned her a green-eyed glare. "'Cause if you're not, I can leave it on for a while longer."

"If you don't remove this damn thing right now, I'm going to rip it off myself," the blonde mock-growled. "And then I'm going to stuff it someplace that's gonna make you, and a proctologist, very unhappy."

"God, some women are just so grouchy," the doctor playfully complained as she set about removing the splint from the blonde's slender leg. After six and a half long weeks, Megan was more than ready to have the restrictive casing removed from her leg. She'd had the arm splint removed a couple of days ago, but the doctor wanted to leave the leg splint on a little longer, preferring to have the young woman do some walking exercises with the aid of a crutch first. That would allow the limb to regain some strength before removing the stiff support.

Megan sighed in blissful relief as the leg was finally released from its restrictive prison. The doctor graced her with an understanding smile as skilled hands began a probing massage of the freed limb; an action that allowed her to feel for any abnormalities while stimulating the muscles.

God, she looks so tired, the writer mused, with no small worry. The past week had been bad; with the tall woman's nightmares visiting every other night. Megan would lie in bed, listening to the heartbreaking pleas, as Randi begged the mysterious Casey not to leave her. Wishing, time after time, that she could go to her, and cursing, time after time, the damaged limbs that prevented her from doing so. Megan had tried, a couple of times, to get the recalcitrant doctor to talk about her nightmares; even asking outright who Casey was. But the doctor politely refused to discuss the contents of her nightmares, and would only say that Casey was a friend. It was a vague answer that left the young writer frustrated in her friend's unwillingness to confide in her and agonizingly curious about the oft mentioned Casey. Her fertile writer's imagination tended to speculate that Casey had been a sweetheart that the doctor had loved and lost.

Megan studied the face of the woman who was intently focused on the leg she was tending. The strong, high cheekbones that only last week were a healthy tan were now drawn and slightly pale. The full, red lips that always seemed to be on the verge of a smile were now drawn and barely pink. And the eyes that once contained all the warmth and beauty of a summer sky were now pale and gray.

Dammit, Randi, I wish you'd let me in. Let me try to help you, as you've helped me. I care about you, Randi, more than you know. More than I ever thought I could. It hurts to see you suffer like this and not be able to do a damn thing about it.

As if sensing the blonde's thoughtful scrutiny, the brunette looked up and offered a tender, sweet smile that, much to the writer's chagrin, turned her insides to something resembling warm oatmeal.

"Feel like taking this leg out for a little test run?" the doctor inquired.

"Run?" the blonde squeaked.

"Okay, okay. Maybe a slow stroll." The brunette paused for a moment, quietly formulating a plan, then grinned. "How about a stroll out to the porch? It's fully enclosed and runs the entire front half of the house. You can check out the view from the front and sides. There's a large and comfy bench swing out there, where you can give your leg a rest while I scare up some hot tea for the both of us. We can sit for a while and watch the dynamic doggy duo fend off marauding warrior squirrels in between taking potshots at each other."

The doctor's idea was positively scintillating. God, I haven't been outside for so long… "That sounds wonderful," the writer enthused. Then, making the mistake of once again meeting those bluer than blue eyes, she added, "I, uh, I don't want to use the crutch if I don't have to. Will you, um…will you stay beside me? In case I stumble…or something," the writer finished lamely, silently cursing herself for feeling and acting like a shy, teenage schoolgirl.

Randi stood to her full height and held her hand out to the seated blonde. Pulling her gently to her feet, the doctor looked deeply into springtime green eyes. "I'll stay by you forev…for as long as you want me to," the doctor announced solemnly as she placed the writer's smaller hand on her arm and led her out of the room.

Part 7

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