Double Teamed

Copyright 2006 by Texbard

texbard@yahoo.com

DISCLAIMERS:

Kennedy and Carson are two characters who live in my head and every now and then share their lives with me.† Guest appearance by Dar and Kerry with permission from Melissa Good.† Before the "did Kerry go to Michigan or Michigan State" debate is started up, the vote on the Pack back in 2001 was overwhelmingly in favor of Michigan.† Plus, it makes this story work a whole lot better.† (g)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The bellman swiftly opened the hotel door, and two figures blew in on a brisk wind, a scattering of swirling snowflakes chasing after them.† Directly behind them was another bellman, pushing a luggage cart bearing two small rolling bags, two backpacks, a garment bag, and an oversized briefcase.† "Welcome to the Westin Great Southern Hotel, ladies."† The door attendant nodded graciously.† "Our check-in desk is to your left, and Thurber's Bar is still serving cocktails, if you're so inclined."

The two women exchanged a weary look, speaking wordlessly with their eyes, then the taller one pushed back the hood on a thick down jacket.† "No thanks, but if room service is still open, we might order up some food.† Our flight was delayed an hour in Austin, another hour in Dallas, and then the plane sat on the tarmac for another two hours after it landed here, waiting for the gate to be plowed, and we missed dinner."

"Room service is available twenty-four seven, ma'am."† The bellman grimaced at her story. "My apologies.† This November storm caught the entire city of Columbus by surprise, but I think you'll find the streets will be cleared by morning."

"No worries."† Carson glanced up at her companion, then smiled at him.† "It was kind of cool to see the snow falling and watch them do the plowing.† I'd never seen anything like that before."

The bellman merely raised an eyebrow and cast an indulgent smile in her direction.

"She's not from around here."† Kennedy draped an arm across Carson's shoulders, directing her toward the desk.

"Neither are you, punk."† Carson playfully kicked her lover's behind as they made their way toward a lonely night clerk.† The clock on the wall over her head showed the time to be midnight, on the dot.

"Hello, ladies.† Welcome to the Westin Great Southern.† Are you here on business or pleasure?"† Her voice was way too perky for the late hour.

"Business," Kennedy responded.

"Pleasure," Carson countered.

"Both," Kennedy acquiesced, a smile gracing her lips despite her exhaustion.† She had been up and working since before dawn, prior to their mad dash to Austin Bergstrom Airport later in the afternoon.† "I'm here for the legal technology seminar at the convention center on Monday, but we came in tonight to go to the Ohio State - Michigan game tomorrow."

"Oh, that should be great fun." The clerk grinned broadly and gestured toward a 'Go Buckeyes' button pinned to her own blazer.† "Do you have a reservation?"†

"Yes, under Nocona, please."† Kennedy studied the elegant lobby with mild interest while the woman reviewed their information on the computer.

"Oh."† She looked up with what amounted to alarm.† "Ms. Nocona, of course.† We were advised of your late arrival.† The Thurber Suite is prepared and waiting for you.† If you need anything at all, don't hesitate to let us know."

Carson looked up from browsing the room service menu.† "You want me to order something for you?"

"Sure," Kennedy answered affectionately, her eyes softening.† It was nice, after so many years on her own, to have someone think of her and know her as well as Carson did.† Not to mention they'd been together long enough that Carson could automatically spot Kennedy's favorite vegetarian choices on any given menu.

"Can we order room service from here, or do we need to wait until we get to the room?"† Carson addressed the desk clerk.

"Oh, order here if you'd like, by all means."† The woman produced a small envelope, which she handed to Kennedy.† "And here are your key cards.† Your bags are being delivered to your room as we speak, and you'll find complimentary chocolates and a bucket of iced-down champagne on the table when you get there."

"My kind of place," Carson murmured, then cleared her throat.† "We'd like two cups of the corn chowder, one grilled portabella sandwich, and one of the Kobe Theater burgers.† Oh, and two cups of the hot chocolate - one with regular milk and one with soy milk."

"Consider it done."† The woman jotted down the order, then gestured toward the elevator bank.† "Your suite is on the top floor."

"Thanks."† Kennedy took Carson's still-gloved hand and led the way.† She pressed the button to go up and then grasped both of Carson's hands, removing the gloves and stuffing them in her own pockets.†† "Better."† She twined their fingers and gave Carson a little squeeze, playing idly with their joined hands while they waited.

"Do they call off football games for snow?" Kennedy asked hopefully.† The elevator doors opened and they got on.

Carson leaned against her, absorbing some of her warmth.† "Unfortunately, no.† But we can bring a big blanket to snuggle under.† You really don't enjoy it much, do you?"

"It just seems like such a waste of time to me," Kennedy answered, her tone resigned.† "Thousands of people who desperately need exercise, sitting and watching twelve guys who desperately need rest, but instead keep pounding the stuffing out of each other."

"Eleven," Carson gently corrected her.

"Eleven?"

"There are twenty-two players on the field during football games, eleven for each team." Carson smiled, trying not to laugh at her puzzled partner.

"What about that whole Aggie twelfth man thing?"† Kennedy asked in genuine confusion.

"Honey, the twelfth man at A&M is all the students, standing ready and waiting to suit up and play if one of the eleven on the field is injured."

"Oh.† I never bothered to count them.† That'll give me something to do tomorrow."† She seemed satisfied with the answer, unaware of Carson's amusement at her expense.† "The only sport the College of Santa Fe offered other than intramurals was tennis.† I just never got into it, I guess."

"Not even at UT law?"† Carson reached up, brushing a lock of dark hair out of Kennedy's eyes.

"I did three things at UT law - study, party, and sleep when I could, and not necessarily in that order."† Kennedy paused, as the elevator stopped and they got off and headed for their suite. "Anyway, sure, I went to a few games, but it never held my interest.† Didn't in high school, either.† I usually watched the cheerleaders when I wasn't under the bleachers drinking beer."

"So did I." Carson winked at her.† "Not the beer part.† The watching the cheerleaders part.† Shoulda been a clue, huh?"

"What was your first clue, anyway?" They reached the room and Kennedy keyed the lock open.

"There were lots of little ones."† Carson followed her into the suite.† "Holy crap!"† Kennedy had flipped the lights on, and Carson looked around the room in utter amazement.† "Your clients paid for this?"

"Nope."† Kennedy walked over to a table in the middle of the large, opulent sitting room.† "When they called and said they wanted to take us to the game prior to the seminar, they did offer to put us up for the weekend, but I had already reserved this place."

"Hmmm."† Carson eyed her thoughtfully, recognizing the potential for a mini-second honeymoon.† She smiled and joined her, plucking up a truffle and biting into it, closing her eyes in pleasure as chocolate and caramel washed over her taste buds.† "Mmmmm.† Oh."† Her eyes popped open in surprise as Kennedy pulled her into her arms.

"Saw how cold it was here on the Weather Channel."† Kennedy nibbled a tasty earlobe.† "Figured we might want to stay in some while we're here.† One of the bathrooms has a Jacuzzi tub."

"Really?"† Carson pulled away from her and took off to explore.† "Found it.† Cool!" she shouted from the bathroom.† "Hey, the shower has two shower heads.† We can share in the morning."

"Glad you approve," Kennedy answered, masking her disappointment at Carson's abrupt departure from her arms.† "Was hoping we didn't have to wait until morning," she mumbled, so low Carson couldn't hear her.† The disappointment dissipated as she heard Jacuzzi jets firing up.

Carson's head appeared from the bathroom doorway.† "You care to join me, or are you too tired?"

"Tired?"† Kennedy's frank grin was her answer.† "But our food is on the way.† I'll call and tell them to leave it on the table out here."

"Works for me."† Carson beckoned with a crooked finger.† "Now grab that champagne, get your clothes off, and get in here, woman.† And bring the chocolate while you're at it."

"Yes, ma'am."† Kennedy smirked, kicking off her boots and shedding her coat, sweater, and jeans in one fluid motion. †"You gonna have your way with me?"

"Dressed like that?"† Carson eyed her favorite pair of black and purple zebra-striped underwear, and matching cotton bra.† "Do you really need to ask?"† She disappeared again.† "Hurry and make that call," she yelled behind her.

Kennedy made quick work of the phone call, left a generous tip on the table, and popped the top on the champagne, sending the cork flying across the room.† "Oops.† No time to go hunt for that now.† I hear a hot tub and a blonde calling me."† She grabbed the platter of truffles and sashayed into the bathroom, where her robe-clad lover was pouring bubble bath into the tub.† The room was warm and steamy and the citrus scent of the bubble bath tickled her nose invitingly.† "Nice."

"Yeah."† Carson stood and set the bottle of bubbles aside, while slipping playfully out of the robe.† She didn't miss Kennedy's appreciative gaze, and she laughed lightly, moving forward and taking the champagne, tilting it up and drinking directly from the bottle, before offering a it over to her smiling lover.† Kennedy placed the chocolates on the vanity and grasped the cold smooth glass, taking a slow swallow, her senses concentrated on warm fingers removing her bra and panties, and tracing sensual lines across her skin, sending pleasant tingles skittering in their wake.† Those same fingers removed the bottle from her lips, then Carson leaned in, wrapping her arms around Kennedy's neck and urging her close, before kissing her soundly for a long moment.† "Tub's full."† She pulled back and smiled, taking Kennedy's hand.

They stepped into the tub and sank into the warm churning water, both of them sighing in utter contentment.† Carson scooted over and wriggled between Kennedy's legs, leaning back against her chest as long arms wrapped around her middle. Kennedy rested her chin on the blonde head, and they soaked together in companionable silence, as the warm water, the massage jets, and the simple peace of being together washed away the stress of the rush-hour dash to the airport, the tedious flight, and the tenuous taxi ride over dark, slick streets.† They heard the hotel room door open and both women opened their eyes, unwilling to move any more than absolutely necessary.

"Room service!"† A deep male voice called out.

"Leave it on the table, please," Kennedy yelled back.† "Tip's there."

They heard a rattle as a cart was rolled into the room, and then the tinkling of glass, followed by a low gasp.† "Oh, thank you, ma'am!" His voice was much jollier than when he'd first entered the room.† "My name is Raul if you should need anything else this evening."

"Thanks, Raul," Kennedy responded.† "And you're welcome."

They heard the door close.

"How much did you leave him?"† Carson murmured.

"Fifty."† Kennedy nipped at a convenient expanse of neck, then planted kisses across a muscular shoulder.† "And worth every penny to not be interrupted from this," her voice rumbled into a very pink ear.† Carson tilted her head back, a small gurgling noise escaping her lips as a knowing hand trailed up her calf.† Their lips met in a sensual explosion, as Kennedy lifted her until she was sitting across her lap.† She teased Carson's legs apart and stroked up an inner thigh, reaching her goal while she continued her gentle exploration of Carson's mouth.† She smiled against her lips as Carson cried out, her body trembling as her release shook her from head to toe.

Carson turned in her arms, straddling her, pressing her forehead against Kennedy's.† They were both breathing hard and she smiled, then ducked her head and kissed Kennedy fiercely.† One hand slid up Kennedy's ribcage and cupped her breast, while the other dipped down between them.† "Oh, yeah," she breathed against a warm neck, feeling Kennedy readily respond to her.† "Definitely worth it."† Strong hands stroked up and down her back, urging her on, and she willingly complied, teasing Kennedy, not letting up until the taller woman was shaking against her, hugging her tightly, her breath warming Carson's skin and her heart pounding against her hand.† "I love you." Carson rubbed noses with her as they held each other, waiting for their bodies to come back down to earth.

"Love you, too," Kennedy crooned softly.† She cradled the back of Carson's head and kissed her languidly, still needing the physical connection, happy endorphins dancing through her system and making her feel wonderfully, completely alive.† "Hey." She broke off and smiled, stroking downy skin with her thumb.† "Think we should go eat before the food gets cold?"

"Yeah."† Carson laughed as Kennedy tickled her behind her knee.† "Besides, I'm starting to get pruney."† She held up a wrinkled palm for inspection, which Kennedy promptly grasped and kissed.

A while later, bodies and stomachs both sated, they lay snuggling in the king-sized poster bed.† "Wow."† Carson sank back into the foot-thick pillow-top mattress.† "Do we really have to get up and go to the game tomorrow?"

"You're the football fan," Kennedy rolled over to her side, studying her lover in the low light.† Carson's skin was beautifully luminous, and she found herself falling in love all over again.† They'd left the curtains open and in the darkness of the room, they could see the snow still falling outside, casting an odd glow across the city.† "You know I'd skip it altogether if it weren't for appeasing the Columbus branch of the Dell office.† They were a tough client to land. Gotta keep 'em happy.† They're doing here what Dell did in Austin -- cornered the market on student laptop coomputer sales and they got the campus account as well."

"And y'all are drawing up all the contracts for them?"† Carson reached over, tracing Kennedy's biceps.

"Every last one.† Hey."† She frowned.† "Before we got all distracted -- very nice distraction I might add -- you said something about lots of little clues, but you never did answer my question about the first one."

"Oh, honey."† Carson sighed.† "I'd have to go back to age four for the first one.† I played doctor with another little girl instead of a little boy."

"Really?† That far back?"† Kennedy chuckled.† "What took you so long from there?† The whole church thing?"

"You know that."† Carson playfully slapped her stomach with the flat of her hand.† "I can tell you my three biggest clues."

"Ooooo.† Do tell."† Kennedy smiled indulgently, laughing some more as Carson pushed her onto her back, them squirmed around until she was sprawled partly on top of her, her chin resting against Kennedy's breast bone.

"Big clue number one -- I couldn't take my eyes off you when you walked into that seminar room, the day we met." Her fingertip wandered as she spoke, outlining Kennedy's collar bone and pausing to feel the artery pounding in the hollow of her throat.† "Big clue number two -- when we broke for lunch that day, you walked into the deli in that building.† I was sitting alone at a table and you came out from the line with your tray and left.† I was so disappointed. I was hoping you'd come sit with me."

"You never told me that."† Kennedy studied her thoughtfully.† "But you weren't alone when I walked in.† Your cousin was there.† Only I didn't know he was your cousin.† All I saw was this good-looking guy leaning over to kiss the cute girl from my seminar on the cheek.† Sure looked like a boyfriend to me. You think YOU were disappointed?† Let me tell you, I was crushed for the rest of the afternoon."

"Oh, my god.† And you never told me that.† Glad you ended up at the Round-up that night so we could clear that up."† She smiled.† "That was big clue number three.† I saw you there and watched you for a long time.† I was green with jealousy every time you danced by with a different woman.† Figured you must be the biggest player in town."

"And you NEVER told me that, either," Kennedy tisked.† "And that assumption was so far from the truth.† You were the only woman I asked to dance that night.† The others all asked me.† Hell, you were the first woman I'd asked out in five years."

"I know that, now."† Carson tweaked her nose.† "But big clue number four -- oh, wow."† Her eyes closed halfway in dreamy memory.† "Do you remember when we went horseback riding that first weekend I came down to Austin to visit?"

"Uh-huh.† I was so damned nervous that week before.† Kept wondering what the heck I was thinking."† Kennedy grinned.† "Maybe I wasn't thinking, for once."

"Remember making out in the barn after we got back?" Carson asked, almost shyly.

"Mmmm.† Sure do.† I remember my heart about to beat right out of my chest, right before I got the courage to do this."† Kennedy reached over, trailing her fingertips along the side of Carson's breast.† "And then this."† She slid the hand around, cupping her and brushing her fingertips across a hardened nipple.

Carson's breath caught and she swallowed, closing her eyes.† When they opened, she was smiling, a deeply passionate love shining in the depths of them.† "No woman had ever touched me like that," she answered softly.† "I thought my body was going to turn inside out, just from that.† I couldn't begin to imagine what it would be like for you to keep going.† But I didn't need any more clues after that.† I knew, without a doubt, that I was way, way gay.† And about the luckiest woman on the planet."

"Second luckiest," Kennedy whispered into her ear, then kissed her, rolling her over and hovering above her, her eyes hungry with passion.† She lowered herself and nibbled a path down the valley between Carson's breasts, pausing to nuzzle her belly and give a gentle tug to her navel ring.† "Mmmm.† You smell great."

"Don't forget we have to be up early enough for that tailgate party at the stadium," Carson reluctantly reminded her.

"Screw it," Kennedy growled.† "I'm having my own private tailgate party right now."† She squeezed a firm butt cheek for emphasis.† "Let them find their own cute blonde.† I'm not sharing mine."

Carson laughed, as they wrestled together, then settled beneath the covers to continue their party for two.† Outside, the snow continued to fall, blanketing the city in the soft, sugary coating of an early winter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"You almost ready?" Carson poked her head out from the bathroom while brushing her teeth, her voice garbled.

"Yeah, yeah," Kennedy groused.† She was standing at the foot of the bed, clad in jeans, boots, and a black silk long underwear top.† She pulled a white turtleneck over her head and shoved her arms into the sleeves, grumbling at the unfamiliar extra layers of clothing.† She finished settling the garment and rummaged around in the suitcase some more.

"Okay, just checking. It's almost time to leave."† Carson stepped back into the bathroom and spit, then rinsed her mouth with the mouthwash the hotel provided.† She blinked in surprise and studied the label, while she swished it around in her mouth, then expelled it. "Ooo.† Vanilla mint.† I'll have to find this stuff when we get back to Austin."†

She exited the bathroom and screamed.† "Kennedy!"† She rushed to the bedside.† "You can't wear THAT to the game."† She tugged at the navy and gold Cal Berkeley sweatshirt her lover had donned.

"Why not?† It's a neutral school, it's warm, and besides, I fell in love with San Francisco when I went out there to conduct that seminar last year.† You know that."† Her lower lip poked out in a pout.

"Oh, honey, but it's not neutral colors.† Those are Michigan colors."† She dug around in the suitcase, finding a soft, red sweater.† "Here.† This will be better.† We're sitting in the Ohio State alumni section.† I really don't want you to get killed today, okay?† You look really good in red, you know."

"Okay.† Fine," Kennedy grumbled, removing the beloved sweatshirt and pulling the sweater over her head.† "I hate sweaters.† At least this one isn't itchy, though."

"Are you going to be in this mood for the entire game?"† Carson gently prodded. "You sound like me before I've had caffeine."

"Sorry."† Kennedy finally smiled.† "I really didn't want to get up this morning when the wake-up call came.† What I wanted to do, actually, is stay in that double-headed shower with you for another hour or so."† She winked and smiled fetchingly.

"Hmmmm."† Carson stood on her toes and kissed her.† "Me, too.† I vote we sleep in tomorrow - have a lazy Sunday and order room service for breakfast.† That sound good?"

"Good enough to get me through this damned game." Kennedy's features brightened at the prospect and she licked her lips, tasting the residual vanilla mint from Carson's kiss.

"That's my girl.† Now.† Let's go find some coffee and go see if these folks know how to throw a tailgate party."† She shrugged into her coat while Kennedy did the same, and grabbed up a pair of stadium cushions and a thick fleece blanket.† "Oh, and fortification."† Carson lifted her own jeans leg and tucked a thin silver flask into her boot.† "Kahlua for the hot chocolate."

"We get hot chocolate?" Kennedy perked up. "They didn't serve that at games in Austin."

"It was ninety-five degrees at most of the games in Austin," Carson reminded her.† "I used to put rum in the flask for those games, to pour in our cokes.† We used to take a drink every time they said the quarterback's name."

"See, and the few times I went to games, we didn't wait for the quarterback's name before taking a drink."† Kennedy held out her empty hand. "Ready?"† Carson nodded and took it, and they headed down to the hotel coffee shop.

A while later they were filing into the Horseshoe, Kennedy deep in conversation with her client.† Carson looked around, enjoying the atmosphere of a college game day. She secretly wondered if she could get Kennedy to enjoy the day enough to talk her into Longhorns season tickets for the next year.† "Maybe," she spoke to herself.

"You say something?"† Kennedy tilted her head in Carson's direction.

"I said it's a great day," she responded cheerily.

Kennedy looked up at the still-falling snow and the dreary gray clouds overhead.† Her feet were already cold.† "Whatever you say, sweetheart."† She squeezed Carson's gloved hand and turned her attention back to her client, an older woman who had been running the Dell office in Columbus since the days when Michael Dell was still wet behind the ears.† Her name was Beatrice, and she would be attending the seminar with Kennedy on Monday, helping man a booth where both women hoped to pick up more clients.† Carson watched them both, mildly interested in their conversation, but completely glad she'd left the world of law firms behind, other than the rare occasions she helped Kennedy out at her office.

They found their seats in the alumni section near the fifty-yard line about ten rows up.† "Perfect!"† Carson exclaimed.

"Glad you approve, Carson.† We get four season tickets every year." Beatrice chuckled.† Kennedy was seated between them, and she immediately spread out the blanket and tucked it around herself and Carson.† Beatrice's partner, Elaine, joined them a few moments later and the women settled down to watch the pre-game festivities.

"What the heck is that guy supposed to be?" Kennedy leaned over and discretely questioned her partner, nodding toward a man in a funny costume running around on the edge of the field.

"A Buckeye," Carson answered.† "Just pretend to Beatrice and Elaine that you think he's cute, and it will be fine."

"What's a Buckeye?" She hissed back, hoping the other two women couldn't hear her.

"A nut," Carson responded.

"Figures."† Kennedy rolled her eyes. "Can we catch some and roast them on an open fire.† I'm about to freeze my ass off."

Carson laughed.† "Here."† She opened a thermos of hot chocolate and poured a cup, then looked around before adding a dash of the contents from her flask.† "This should warm you up, and if it doesn't, I will."† She bumped Kennedy's hip with her own.

"With an offer like that, I can guarantee you this chocolate is not going to warm me up." She grinned, then turned to her clients.† "Ladies, would y'all like some spiked chocolate?"

"I just love your accent," Elaine answered merrily.† "Thank you, but we brought our own supply."† She leaned down and flashed a flask tucked into her own Merrill winter boots.† "These little things don't hold a lot.† You usually need one for about every two people."

"You can say that again," Carson responded.† When everyone had a beverage, she held up her cup.† "Cheers!† Go Buckeyes!"

"Go Buckeyes!"† Beatrice and Elaine responded with enthusiasm, as they all clicked the rims of their cups together.

"Thanks."† Kennedy leaned over and quickly pecked Carson's lips.

"For what?"† Carson blinked as a snowflake landed on her eyelashes and began to melt into her eye.

"For being the charming half of this partnership." Kennedy smiled.† "You know what my law partner Val pointed out to me the other day?"

"What?"

"I've had a one hundred per cent success rate at all dinners with prospective clients, which you've attended with me, that's what."† She smiled warmly.† "We should put you on payroll."

"Iím sure it's just coincidence."† Carson blushed.

"No."† Kennedy reached over, touching Carson's face, oblivious to their surroundings.† "It's you.† Totally you.† I can spout off stats and present business plans, but you're the one who wins 'em over, every time."

"Well, glad I can help bring home the bacon."† Carson spotted Beatrice studying them curiously from over Kennedy's shoulder. "We're being watched."

"I don't care," Kennedy responded with conviction.† "I'm always proud to be with you."

Carson blinked again, this time at the sting of unshed tears.† She sniffled, holding them back.† "That goes both ways, you know."† She leaned over, intentionally looking down and away from Beatrice's intense gaze.† Then closed her eyes as she and Kennedy briefly kissed again.† "Always."† She pulled back.

"Here come the cheerleaders," Elaine announced loudly. "And here comes the team!"

All four women stood, as the Ohio State band began to play Hang on Sloopy, and the Buckeyes erupted onto the field through the Tunnel of Pride, a human tunnel composed of former Ohio State players.† From another part of the stadium, the Michigan Wolverines also took the field, and the entire Horseshoe roared with cheering, singing football fans.† They all continued to stand for the National Anthem, and sat again, as announcements and introductions were made over the loud speaker.† Michigan won the coin toss, and elected to kick off into the blowing snow.

"You were right.† Eleven each." Kennedy leaned over and nudged Carson.

"Eleven?" She frowned.† "Oh, yeah.† Eleven." She laughed lightly.† "I'm glad you're able to be entertained.† Oh!"† Carson jumped to her feet, as the Ohio State receiver caught the ball at kickoff and was running his way up the center of the field, quickly approaching the fifty-yard line.† Various Michigan players were either blocked, or slipping on the slick field, and he barreled past them, just out of reach.† "Oh my gosh!† Touchdown!"† Carson yelled, making Kennedy's eardrum vibrate.

The entire alumni section was on its feet, cheering wildly, the roar increasing as the kicker made the extra point.† The band played exuberantly, as the kick-off team took the field and the score of seven to zero was posted on the scoreboard.

"Awesome!"† Carson sat down, exchanging a high five with Beatrice, in front of Kennedy's face.

"Okay, tell you what."† Kennedy caught Carson's attention again.† "I've never been to a game with you, and I'm going to admit I've never really paid much attention.† I'm going to try to truly watch everything going on here, and if I have any questions, will you answer them?"

"Of course, honey."† Carson's eyes shone in pleasure at her partner's attempt to tap into her interests. "I'd love to."

They watched a few plays, with Carson quietly and thoroughly answering Kennedy's questions.† "So that was the penalty for a face mask," she explained a penalty against Ohio State.† "Oh!† Sack him!"† She turned back to the field, yelling loudly as Ohio State players broke through the offensive block and got to the Michigan quarterback, knocking him off his feet and flat on his back before he could release the ball.

"Okay."† Carson leaned over. "That was third down and they're in field goal range, so now their kicker's coming out." They watched as the Michigan kicker made a valiant effort, kicking into the wind at an angle.† The ball rose and rose, and an Ohio State player almost got his fingertips on it, but it lofted up and over the goalpost, making the score seven to three.† The Michigan band played and an official timeout was called for a commercial break.

"I'm going to go get a hotdog.† Y'all want anything?"† Carson looked down the row at her companions, all of whom were shivering.

"No, thank you, Carson," Beatrice answered.† "We're going to stick with the hot cocoa for now."

"I'd like some nachos, but I'll walk down with you.† I need to hit the ladies' room."† Kennedy followed her out of the row and through the entrance to the outer area.† She spotted the sign directing her to the restrooms.† "See you back in the seats?"

"Sure."† Carson accepted a peck on the cheek, then turned to find the concession area.† The line was long, and she took her place in it, grateful for her warm ski jacket, silk long underwear, and warm soft wool socks.† She was almost to the counter when she looked up and her mouth flew open.† Her forehead scrunched together in a severe frown, before she abandoned her spot, making a beeline for a familiar figure, who was walking obliviously by, now wearing a bold navy and gold Navy sweatshirt.

"Kennedy Shea Nocona!"† She grabbed the taller woman's arm, dragging her to the side.† "You're incorrigible!† You hated the sweater that much?† And where did you get this, anyway?† The ROTC have a booth set up around the corner or something?"

"My Daddy gave this to me.† You got a problem with that?"† The taller woman spoke in a heavier than usual southern accent, and gasped in surprise as Carson looked up, her face no longer partially obscured by her hood, which fell back, revealing her short blonde hair.† "I'll be damned."

"Your father is a Native American pacifist.† We had a long talk about it a while back.† He sure as heck did not give you that shirt.† What's gotten into you?"† Carson bellowed.† "Hey, you look kind of pale.† Are you sick?"

"Lady, I am not pale.† I have the same tan I've had my entire life.† And I don't know where you met my Daddy, but he's a decorated Navy Seal, and I can promise you, he gave me this shirt."† The taller woman was still studying Carson in utter fascination.† "Amazing.† You look just like Ö"

"Ummm.† Oh, my god."† Carson stepped back, releasing her hold on the other woman's arm.† "You're not Kennedy."

"And you're not Kerry," the taller woman mumbled.† "Hey.† You okay?"† She reached out, steadying the shorter woman, who appeared as if she might faint.† "You need to sit down or something?† Here."† She led Carson over to a bench.† "Have a seat.† I'll go get you a pop."

"Alright," Carson answered, her eyes a bit glazed over.† She watched in mute shock as her partner's doppelganger disappeared, and returned a few minutes later with a cup. "Thanks." Her cheeks colored in embarrassment, now that the blood had returned to her brain.† "I'm not crazy.† Let me explain.† Except for her skin being just a little darker, you look exactly like my girlfriend. I mean like twins."

"That's strange, because except for your hair being shorter, you look exactly like mine."† The woman held out her hand.† "I'm Dar, by the way.† Dar Roberts."

Carson shook the proffered hand.† "Nice to meet you.† I'm Carson Garret. My partner is Kennedy Nocona."

"Oh, from Texas."† Dar released her hand, still shaking her head at their mixed doubles encounter.† "That explains your accent.† You didn't sound like y'all were from around here."

"You know Kennedy?" Carson asked in surprise.

"No, but her name's in the brochure for the legal technology seminar on Monday." Dar laughed.† "I saw her picture next to her bio and thought they'd accidentally put mine in there twice.† Just couldn't remember owning the suit she was wearing.† That explains that.† She did most of the legwork on that big Global Oil-Tejas Gas antitrust suit several years ago.† Big win, if I recall.† Just landed Dell's legal contracts here?† That Kennedy?"† Dar smiled at Carson's shock.

"Yeah, that Kennedy.† You here for the seminar, too?"† She took a big gulp of the coke.

"Partly.† My partner went to Michigan so we came up early for the game.† But we work for ILS down in Miami, and we've got a presentation to make on Monday."† Dar nodded toward the food line.† "You okay, now?† Need anything else?"

"Yeah.† Iím fine."† Carson stood.† "Thanks for the coke.† Miami?† Wow, y'all must be freezing, too."

"Damn straight we are."† Dar laughed.† "Me a little more than Kerry, although she's become almost as much of a weather wimp as I am.† Where are y'all staying?"

"Westin - the Thurber Suite," Carson answered.

"So are we. So y'all are the ones who got to that room first," Dar grinned.† "Tell Kennedy she has good taste.† Maybe we'll see y'all in the coffee shop before the weekend's over?"

"Probably not tomorrow, but you can count on Monday."† Carson smiled back, trying to shake the nagging sensation she was talking with Kennedy.† "I guess I should get back to my seat.† Kennedy's going to be wondering where I --"

"There you are," a familiar voice called out from the other direction.† "I was starting to worry about you."† Kennedy drew closer.† "What the hell?"

"Kennedy, this is --"

"Dar Roberts."† Dar held out her hand and Kennedy shook it firmly.

"Kennedy Nocona.† I'll be damned."† Kennedy just stared for a long moment.† "Sorry.† I saw your bio in the seminar brochure.† Thought they'd --"

"Put your picture in there twice?"† Dar finished for her.† "I did the same thing.†† Even more strange, your partner looks almost exactly like mine"

"Ah.† That explains the girl in the restroom in the Michigan sweatshirt, that almost fainted when I ran into her.† I thought she was Carson until I realized her hair was too long.† Kerry is her name?" Kennedy frowned.

"Yeah.† She okay?"† Dar's expression went from amused to worried in a nanosecond.

"Yeah, I think so. She said something about low blood sugar, so I got her a coke and had her sit down and drink it.† Chatted for a few minuets before she took off, saying 'Dar' was going to wonder where she was."† Kennedy chuckled.† "I should've made the connection then.† Carson, Dar here is the chief information officer for ILS.† They landed the contract to support all the government library systems -- revamped the entire thing so it's all interactive and connected and all that good stuff.† They're going to show us legal-beagle semi-geeks how it all works on Monday."

Dar and Carson laughed.

"I know, or at least the ILS part.† We got to talking.† She's familiar with your work, too."† Carson looked from one woman to the other, her face still a study in befuddlement.

"Listen, I'd better get back to Kerry, make sure she's okay."† Dar nodded at both of them.† "Nice to meet you.† See y'all at the hotel later, most likely."

"Nice to meet you, too," Kennedy answered.† "Hotel?"† She turned to Carson in question.

"They're staying at the Westin, too.† Seems we got the room they wanted."† Carson laughed lightly.† "Wow.† That was strange."

"I'll say.† Hey, you ready to go back to our seats?† It's almost halftime.† You don't have to explain to me what the band's doing."† She nudged Carson, eliciting a giggle.

"Sure, but I never did get the hotdog or the nachos."† Carson took her hand, tugging her toward the concession line, once again.

They got their refreshments, then made their way back to their seats, where Elaine and Beatrice were happily sharing a large tub of popcorn.† "Where'd ya'll two disappear to?"† Beatrice looked up.† "You missed the whole thing.† Score's tied up, seventeen, seventeen."

"We ran into a friend," Kennedy answered, lifting the blanket, then settling it back over herself and Carson.† "As a matter of fact --"† She looked across the aisle and down a few rows, spotting their doubles sitting in the middle of a large Michigan contingent.† At that moment, Dar turned around, spotted them, and waved.† She then turned to a blonde woman next to her, who also turned, her mouth flying open in surprise.

"Holy crap!"† Carson spied her own double and spewed hot dog crumbs.† "Kennedy, I feel like Alice after she fell down the rabbit hole.† This is just too bizarre."

Studying at each other curiously from a distance,† Carson and Kerry cautiously waved at each other, before Dar and Kerry turned back around to watch the game.

"Maybe it's time to have another chat with Pa about things.† Find out if there is some sort of multiples factor in souls who share a spiritual guardian.† 'Cause I can guarantee you, they're like us."

"Two souls entwined for eternity and the whole nine yards?"† Carson leaned against her, suddenly needing the support.† "You think?"†

"I know," Kennedy answer quietly.† "I just do."

"Do you think they know?"† Carson asked quietly.

Kennedy watched Kerry lay her head on Dar's shoulder, and Dar rest her head against Kerry's, giving her a nuzzle and a kiss to the forehead.† "Yeah, I think they do."

At that moment, the stadium went dark and the loud speaker died.† The sun had set not too long before, and the sound of a few players colliding on the field was heard.† "What the hell?"† Kennedy looked around, as a low questioning murmur arose from throughout the stadium.

Carson dug into her jacket pocket, retrieving a mini Mag-Lite.† Kennedy saw it and shook her head.† "That's my little Campfire Girl."

Carson elbowed her.† "Honey, it's like the pocketknife.† Mag-Lites are issued with the lesbian ID cards."†

In short order an assortment of flashlights, cell phones, and lighters began to blink on around the stadium, casting it in a low, but navigable glow.† Mildly-alarmed conversation buzzed throughout, as everyone waited for some sort of announcement.† "Hold on.† No matter what, just stay put.† I'll be right back."† Kennedy got up, borrowing Carson's flashlight, and disappeared, taking the steps two at a time.†

A few moments later, Carson saw Dar doing the same thing, and she smiled.† "Guess you were right, honey." She whispered to her absent lover.

Momentarily, Kennedy returned.† "I went up to the media booth.† Ice took down part of the transformer system.† Half the city is out and it looks like they won't be back up until morning.† They're about to send a guy out to the middle of the field with a megaphone to tell everyone.† I suggest we hightail it out of here and get one step ahead of the crowd."

"You don't have to tell me twice."† Elaine began gathering up their belongings, and soon all four women were dashing up the steps as fast as they could.† As they reached the stadium exit, they heard the announcement being made.† Kennedy and Carson said their goodbyes to Elaine and Beatrice, then headed for the taxi line near the front of the stadium.

"So what happens in a situation like this?† Game is tied and the† lights go out?"† Kennedy draped an arm across Carson's shoulders, pulling her close for warmth.

"Unless it ends up being a deal-breaker, probably nothing.† There aren't ties anymore in college football.† They set up an overtime system.† But unless they reach season's end and this game would've made the difference in who wins the conference, or who goes to a bowl game or to playoffs, or something like that, they'll probably just leave it at a tie.† If it would've made a difference, they'll probably have a re-match at the end of the season, before playoffs and bowl games."

"Wonder if the hotel was hit with the power outage?"† Kennedy placed an idle kiss on Carson's cheek, feeling unusually close to her.

"Oh, gosh, I guess we'd have to suffer and cuddle up †together in that big ol' bed to keep warm."† Carson looked up at her, her eyes twinkling in the faint light reflected off the still-falling snow.† "Wasn't that a gas fireplace in the room?† No electricity to get in the way?"

"I almost wish the power's out there, now."† Kennedy chuckled.

A few hours later, Carson stood at the hotel room window, watching the snow fall.† "It's so peaceful," she commented, looking out over the half-darkened city, covered in its quiet early winter blanket.

"There we go."† Kennedy flipped the fireplace switch and the fake logs burst into flames.† "Good thing we have power. The fireplace is gas but the switch to turn it on is electric."† She joined Carson at the window, wrapping her arms around her and resting her chin on her head. "Room service will be her in a little while."

"I'm glad Elaine and Beatrice were able to get a room here.† Sucks their house power was out."† Carson looked up and over her shoulder.† "Did they accept your invitation to join us in our room for dinner?"

"Nope.† I think they're looking forward to their own snuggle time in their room."† Kennedy chuckled knowingly.

"Dar and Kerry?"

"Ditto.† They may not have gotten this room, but they did snag the Executive King Suite.† Almost as nice.† I did try to razz Dar about no Jacuzzi tub, but she advised me they have a Jacuzzi at home."† Kennedy laughed.† "Be-atch."

"Smart women," Carson declared.† "You've got all the other toys.† How come no hot tub?"

"Never had anyone to share it with before," Kennedy kissed her.† "Maybe it's time to get one installed, huh?"

"Now you're talking."† Carson turned in her arms.† "So.† Dinner and snuggle time.† Sleep in in the morning.† Then room service breakfast and more snuggle time.† Anything else you want to do before the seminar on Monday?"

"Oh, speaking of," Kennedy switched directions on her.† "It's going to go 'til evening.† What are you going to do all day?† I figured initially you'd go sight-seeing or shopping or something, but with the weather and all . . ."

"Nope.† I have an appointment for the all-day Perfect Escape Spa Package right here in the hotel."† Carson picked up a brochure from the table next to them.† "See?†† Aromatherapy facial.† Hot stone full body massage.† Manicure and pedicure.† Then a shea butter body wrap."

"This Shea would like to cover you in butter and lick you all over." She gave a little swipe of her tongue to Carson's neck.†† "That would be a taste treat."

"Honey."† Carson giggled as the licks began to tickle.† "I'd love for my Shea to lick me all over, too."† She used Kennedy's middle name, usually only used by her immediate family and pre-adulthood friends.† "But this is different -- it's a skin treatment."

"Mmmm.† You're already soft as a baby's behind."† Kennedy grabbed a handful of the named body part.† "I think I might have to stroke you all over when I get back from the seminar.† Can't imagine you any silkier than you already are.† As for tomorrow afternoon, after we surface from our morning of slovenly decadence, I hear there's a sledding hill nearby.† We could probably pick up a toboggan at Wal-Mart."

"That sounds way fun,"† Carson agreed enthusiastically.† "Anything else?"

"There's an ancient Native American burial ground here - Serpent's Mound.† Pa told me about it.† Might be interesting to check it out."

"That might be very special in the snow," Carson commented quietly.† "Sounds like a spiritual place."

"You still want to go on a vision quest, don't you?"† Kennedy turned her, taking her face in both hands.† Carson nodded.† "Okay.† This spring, after the park down in Big Bend warms up, or if you'd like to go out to Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, or Zion in Utah, I'll go with you."

"I'd love that."† Carson drew her close and kissed her, sampling her lips in a leisurely fashion.† "I love you."† She rubbed noses.† "You wanna take this over by the fire?"

"Oh, yeah."† Kennedy took her hand, leading the way.

Much later, after a warm dinner, and an even warmer round of snuggling, she held a sleeping Carson in her arms, watching the fire dance in the fireplace.† It was, she reflected, a sweet moment in what had become a very sweet life.† Just going to a simple seminar had turned into a special time between them.† She looked down, and stroked Carson's head.† "Vision quest?"† She shook her head.† "I'd follow you anywhere Carson.† Give you anything you want, if it's in my power to give.† I hope you know that," she whispered softly.

She watched the fire for a while longer, then lifted Carson, carrying her over to the bed and tucking her in, before she joined her.† Carson turned in her sleep, cuddling up against her.† She wrapped her arms around her and closed her eyes.† Kennedy knew her dreams would be sweet.† They had been, for quite a while now.† Outside, the snow quit falling, the moon rose, and somewhere on the edge of the woods, a white buck stepped out of the forest, only for a moment.† Looking around in satisfaction, he disappeared.† All was right with the world.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

THE END

Return to the Academy