Disclaimers1: Xena and Gabrielle belong to Renpic. And, this being an Uberish tale, the main characters will bear a physical resemblance to them, but thats as far as is goes. Oh, and two supporting characters will be named after them. But its 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. JChapter Twenty-eight
"Are you sure you'll be okay?" the doctor asked for perhaps the tenth time.
"I'll be fine," the blonde growled in playful exasperation as she scooted the reluctant woman toward the door.
"I'll be ¾"
"Just over at Matt Dawson's place, which is just a few miles over, helping him patch a hole in the roof, and his number, along with your cell phone number, is right next to the phone so I can call you if World War Three breaks out or if I get a splinter in my finger," the blonde rattled off, almost word-for-word, the doctor's earlier briefing, adding the last part for her own amusement and earning a sheepishly hung head.
"Overkill?" the tall woman pouted adorably.
"Just a wee bit," the blonde confirmed with an indulgent grin. "But I love…it," the blonde placated, silently scolding herself for not being able to say the word she wanted to say. I love…you. "Now go, do what you have to do and hurry home," she commanded, placing a quick peck on a convenient chin before shooing the grumbling woman out the door.
Megan collapsed against the closed door and huffed out a relieved breath. "Finally," she mumbled to the two canines who sat watching her curiously. "Now we can get down to business."
Moments later, armed with a cup of coffee, notepad, pen and telephone, Megan settled into a chair at the kitchen table. Glancing at her two constant companions, who now lay sprawled on the linoleum floor, she announced, "Well, ladies, wish me luck."
Picking up the cordless handset, she punched the only memory key she was familiar with and waited, nearly losing her nerve when the deep baritone greeting sounded in her ear. "Um, Toby?"
Hours later, the writer mumbled a tearful thank you into the phone as she pressed the end key. The last half-hour spent on the phone had been the most heartwrenching she had ever known. But it was enlightening too…very enlightening. Now I just have to figure out what to do…and when to do it. Timing's going to be everything, she decided as she wiped away an errant tear. Giving herself a mental shake, she glanced at her watch. Randi's going to be back soon, and I want to surprise her with dinner. So I guess I'd better pull it together and get started. With that, the writer got up from the table and proceeded to rummage through the cabinets and refrigerator. I hope she likes lasagna.
Randi was feeling downright bubbly as she pulled out of the Dawson's driveway and headed for home. Home, she mused. It hasn't been 'home' in a long time. It's been a cave, a hideout, a place to bury myself in and shut the world out. But now, she reflected in giddy wonder, now it's a home again. She makes it that way. And I'll bet my last dollar it's becoming home for her too. That's why she said 'hurry home' instead of just 'hurry back.' Please, Uncle Jake, if you have any words with the man upstairs, please ask him to let it be so. I know I don't deserve it…but I'd like a chance to be happy, Uncle Jake…I…need it.
Megan stared at the blank laptop screen and blew out a frustrated breath. She'd been trying to pass the time since she'd put the lasagna in to cook by doing some writing.
But it wasn't working.
In spite of her best efforts to concentrate on her writing, her rebellious mind had other ideas.
Like blue eyes, midnight hair and perfect lips.
And, in the battle for focus, the blonde really didn't put up that much of a fight.
Conceding defeat, the writer shut down the laptop, rose from the table and wandered over to the window. With her coffee mug clutched in both hands she gazed unseeingly past the small fenced in garden and pondered the last few days.
They had been…idyllic.
Randi had been attentive, kind, gentle, loving and most of all… patient, giving hugs when they were needed, kisses when they were wanted, and unquestioning support always ¾ allowing the writer to become gently accustomed to the new and sometimes scary concept of loving another woman. Loving? Megan shook her head and snorted softly. Yup, that pretty much sums it up, doesn't it? God, when did it happen? When did my heart suddenly decide 'this is the one' Megan paused, looking inward for a moment. Or maybe it wasn't sudden at all. I think I've been having feelings for her for quite a while, but my ass was too firmly planted on my shoulders to see it. Megan gave herself a hard mental shake. Stop analyzing, dumb ass, and just go with it! Megan shrugged. "Best advice I've heard in a long time," she addressed the empty room. Megan spared a long look at the phone. I should call mother again, just to let her know I'm still doing okay. God! I thought she was gonna have a cow when I called her the other day and told her what happened. A wicked grin graced the fair face. Especially when I told her I drove all the way up here before getting any medical attention. Her 'That woman must be one hell of a good doctor' comment was priceless. Just the way she said it tells me she knows that there's more going on than I'm telling. But she's being patient, bless her heart ¾ waiting until I'm ready to talk about it. And we will talk about it. Her reverie was interrupted by the slamming of the front door and the playful "Looocy, I'm hooome," that followed. Later, the blonde decided as she turned to greet her tall, beautiful 'Ricky.'
"God, I'm stuffed!" Randi groaned from her slumped position in the chair. "That was, without question, the best lasagna I've ever tasted." She raised her head and cast a narrow-eyed glare at the proudly beaming blonde. "You never mentioned that you could cook like that. You've been holding out on me," she accused.
"Not really," she offered shyly. "I mean, most of my experience in the kitchen comes from a cookbook, and I can hold my own I guess. But this," she waved her hand to indicate their mostly eaten fare, "this, my mother taught me," she finished with a pleased smile.
"I like seeing that," the brunette commented kindly.
"Seeing what?" the writer was puzzled.
"Seeing that sweet smile when you mention your mother," Randi replied sincerely.
"Oh." The blonde ducked her head, feeling the warm blush spreading over her face. God! How does she do that? Just a few words or a look…and I'm blushing like a silly teenager. "Um, thank you," she mumbled, trying to beat down the heat on her face. "I like it too. I never realized how much I missed her…loved her…until I was with her again," the writer reflected with a wistful smile.
"Sure you did," the mellow voice posed.
"I said sure you did," the brunette repeated as she rose from her chair and walked around the table where she dropped to her knees in front of the puzzled blonde. "You loved her and missed her every day of your life. And it hurt…terribly." Large hands gently grasped smaller ones. "Which is why you were so angry. Sometimes, being angry with someone that leaves you seems easier than grieving." The doctor shrugged and studied the hands she was holding. "Less…painful."
The tall woman gave herself a mental shake. "Anyhow," she continued, "like I said, you loved her and missed her, but wouldn't let yourself admit it. Although, it did show," Randi announced with a wry grin. "In every book you wrote. Every time the writer lashed out at gays, the hurt and lonely young woman cried out for her mother." Twinkling blue eyes addressed wide, astonished green ones. "Make sense?"
"Buh…" The blonde's mouth worked furiously, but no words emerged, save one. "How ¾?"
"How did I know?"
Megan nodded dumbly.
"I didn't at first. But when you told me about your mother and Cait, it all made sense. I still didn't approve of your 'venting' method," Randi smiled warmly to reduce the sting of her words. "But I understood it."
Megan shook her head and snorted a laugh. "Ya know, I want to argue with you," she reached out and tucked a strand of raven hair in place. "Tell you that you're wrong. But I can't. When I look back and really think about it…I can't." Leaning forward, she placed her forehead against the brunette's. "How did you get so smart, Randi Oakes?" was a husky whisper.
"Not smart," the tall woman mumbled, drowning in the pleasant contact. "I've just been there."
Randi almost groaned aloud at the loss of contact as the fair head pulled back and perplexed green eyes fixed on her, begging an explanation. "My parents," she sighed, fixing her gaze on the small hands she grasped. "After they died and I was brought up here, I wouldn't talk about them. Every time Uncle Jake tried to, I would change the subject or suddenly 'remember' that I had something else to do or somewhere to be." Randi snorted a chuckle. "It didn't take Uncle Jake long to figure out what I was doing. One afternoon he confronted me with it. I was in my favorite chair in my room, and he knew that if I wanted out, I would have to get past him. He started talking about daddy," Randi shrugged minutely, "just nonsense stuff about what they used to do when they were boys. I tried talking about other things but Uncle Jake kept coming back to daddy. Finally, I got up and said I had something to do, and he got in front of me and said, 'It won't work, Randi. I know what you're trying to do, and I won't let you keep doing it.' Well, I got mad and told him he didn't know what he was talking about and tried pushing him away." Randi's crooked smile was laced with chagrin. "Didn't work…Jake was a big man. Anyhow, that just made me madder, and I started yelling at him and trying to get past him. Finally, I thought I saw a way out if I jumped over the bed. Did I happen to mention that he's quick too? He caught me in midair, and we both landed on the bed. By that time, I was struggling hysterically, yelling and kicking and hitting. But he just wrapped his big arms around me and held on, while I went from screaming and fighting to just plain crying my eyes out."
Randi took a long, deep breath in an effort to regain control of the ragged emotions her memories were prompting ¾ an action that was not unnoticed by the small blonde who raised her hand and gently stroked the doctor's cheek. Comforted, she continued. "Finally, after I calmed down, we had a long talk about my parents...and my anger over their leaving me. He made me understand that sometimes people just don't have a choice. My parents didn't plan on leaving me like that, they didn't have much of a choice in the matter. He made me understand that no matter how much people love you, or how good their intentions are, things happen. And people leave you," she finished hoarsely, her watery blue eyes focused not on the here and now, Megan knew, but on visions of a tow-headed little girl.
Okay, Meg, it's now or never. "You understood that, but you didn't really accept it, did you?" the blonde inquired gently.
Randi's liquid gaze returned to the writer's face, her brows furrowed in confusion. "What do you mean? Of course I did," she protested.
"Did you, Randi?" the writer pushed. "Are you sure about that?"
"Yes," the doctor sputtered, pulling away from the writer. "What the hell are you getting at, Megan?"
"Then why can't you accept Casey's leaving you?"
The color drained from Randi's face, as her entire body became painfully rigid. She gaped incredulously at the blonde for a long moment before her eyes narrowed to dangerous slits. "You have no idea what the fuck you're talking about," she hissed.
"Then educate me," the blonde challenged.
The tall woman shook her head violently. "I can't," she gritted and tried to rise, only to be halted by a small hand on her chest and beseeching green eyes. "Please, sweetheart, tell me."
Solidly built walls, formed from months of self-imposed guilt and anger, liquefied under the delicate dual assault. "She didn't leave me…I killed her," was the bitter rasp from pale lips.
"How, Randi?" Megan's voice was warm, coaxing.
"I wasn't there when she needed me."
"Were there other doctors there? Tending to her?"
"Yes. But she was calling for me."
"Why do you think she was calling for you?"
Randi gaped at the blonde, her expression incredulous. Why the hell do you think she was calling? "So I could help her," she supplied impatiently.
"Are you sure of that?" C'mon, Randi, stick with me here.
Randi's discomfort with this conversation was growing by leaps and bounds. Her composure was dwindling, making her answer snappish. "Of course I'm sure. Why the hell else would she be calling out for me?"
Bingo! That's the opening I was looking for. "So she could say good-bye."
Randi's entire body seemed to deflate as she sat back heavily on her heels. "What?" she croaked, her eyes saucer-wide in disbelief. "No," she growled, shaking her head furiously. "That's not…she didn't…"
Megan grabbed the wagging head in both hands, stilling it and forcing astonished blue eyes to meet hers. "Yes," she countered forcefully, willing the stubbornly, wrongfully repentant woman to listen…to hear her. "Yes," she repeated, "she knew she was dying. But she didn't want to leave you without saying goodbye."
"Noooo," blue eyes filled and overflowed as hope warred with denial. "She needed me, she ¾"
"She loved you," the blonde interjected gently, her own eyes succumbing to insistent tears. "She loved you and needed to let you know it before she left. That's why she was calling for you, honey. That, and no other reason."
"How do you know this?" The question was rife with hope and suspicion.
"I talked to Amy," the blonde offered with a teary half smile. "She would have told you this herself, but you, my hard-headed, reclusive friend," the blonde chided gently, "avoided her…refused to talk to her."
"I couldn't," the brunette rasped, fresh tears spilling down her face. "I couldn't face her."
"Because you blamed yourself for her child's death," Megan again caressed away the tears. "But she didn't. She still doesn't." A small hand cupped a trembling chin, recapturing the tall woman's gaze. "No one," she emphasized strongly, "blames you for Casey's passing…except you!"
Dazed, watery blue eyes searched the younger woman's face and found nothing short of open, honest, loving conviction. "It's true?"
"Every word. I swear."
Then the dam broke in earnest as a dark head burrowed itself into the young woman's lap and a long, lean body shook with hard, wracking sobs.
Megan's own tears fell into raven locks as she bent over and whispered into her friend's ear. "Casey loved you, Doctor Randi…she loves you still. And she doesn't want you to cry for her any more." With that, she leaned back, content to stroke the midnight-kissed hair and patiently wait for the storm to pass.
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