Title: Perfect Stranger
Alex opens the door and holds it there so I can get in. I feel her hand touch the small of my back as I walk in and become flustered at once. The door closes and I immediately walk towards her and take her in my arms. I plant the smallest of kisses on her lips and she returns the gesture. We kiss for a while and I move to take the action further but she stops me there. “We're going to talk first, Susan. Just talk and then we'll see where that takes us okay?” I nod and she moves to the kitchen telling me I can have a seat. I sit and look around the living room. The floors are all hardwood except for the kitchen which has a beautiful ceramic tile. I have a feeling the whole house is hardwood and wonder if I'll make it upstairs to see this. I am pondering this thought as Alex comes back with coffee for us and cream and sugar to put on it. She sets it down on the coffee table and sits next to me on the couch.
“I thought we could get to know each other. We've never really talked. Why don't you start? Tell me all about yourself.”
I take a deep breath and start. I talk about my family, my sister and her little girl. I get tears in my eyes as I talk about Suzie and how I worry about her all the time. During this Alex holds my hand and when I am done she hugs me. Then I tell her about why I wanted to be a doctor, about working with Mark Greene and why I left Chicago. Then I talk about why I came back to Chicago. Alex stares at me the whole time, taking it all in like it's a good movie. When I'm finish she starts.
She talks about her family, all living in Minnesota and what it was like growing up. She talks about how she knew Abby because they went to school together and Abby would often go to her house when her mother was having an episode. She then talks about coming out and how that was for her. Her parents are really supportive. She tells me why she went into nursing and how happy she is to be here. I am also happy she's here and I tell her so.
After that we talk about other things like work and bars and people we work with. It is now three in the morning and I am lying with my head in her lap and she is stroking my hair as we talk. She looks at the clock, “Holy we've been talking for a long time. Listen, do you want to stay here for the night?”
Did I? That was a stupid question. In answer I sat up and took her in a tender kiss. She brings the cold coffee into the kitchen and comes back and takes my hand. We go upstairs and she finds me a pair of shorts and a tank top to change into. She takes her own into the bathroom. I change and a few minutes later she comes back out. She looks at me and then the bed and at me again, “If you want you can sleep in the guest room…I mean if you aren't ready…”
“No…I'd love to sleep here. But I don't think I'm ready to…” I don't even know how to say it. She just nods knowingly and takes my hand. I let her put me into bed and then she gets in and puts her head on my chest and slings a leg over me. I wrap my arms around her and we fall asleep.
“Hold me down…I'm six feet from the edge and I'm thinking…”
I wake up to Creed singing on the radio. It feels like about five minutes later, but the sun is shining in so I know its morning. I look at the clock and see it is in fact six in the morning. I have to work at nine. Ugh. I look down at the beauty sleeping on me still. I can see our whole lives starting right from here. Before I have time to think about it more I feel her stir. “Ugh. What time is it?”
“Six in the morning. Do you have to work today?”
“Yeah nine. What about you?”
“Same. That's good you can drive me to work.” Alex smiles at this and reaches up to kiss me. We stay like that for a while and then I realize I have to get moving. I don't even have any clothes to wear. Alex seems to read my mind. “I have some clothes that will fit you.” I don't believe her. She's about the size of Abby and I haven't exactly been small lately. However she goes to the closet and pulls out a pair of pants and a shirt that will in fact fit me. I take them and go into the bathroom to have a shower.
It is now eight-thirty and Alex and I are entering the er. At the same time. Kerry, Luka, Abby and Randi are all at the desk talking. They glance up as we walk in but no one seems to notice that we have arrived together and are both very tired looking. However, at that moment Elizabeth comes in and gives me a look that says she knows exactly what I did last night. Do I care? I don't know. I don't think I do, but I don't know. I walk blindly into the lounge and am sitting with a coffee in my hands when Kerry comes in. She gets a coffee for herself and sits down across from me. “I tried to call you last night”, she says.
“Oh?” I am back to one word responses.
“Yeah. I thought we should get together and go over some things for that meeting next week.” I think back and vaguely remember Kerry mentioning a meeting that we both have to attend next week, along with Abby. Kerry went on, “I left a couple of messages. I was starting to get worried. I knew you had a bad day yesterday.”
I am so embarrassed. “Yeah well…I didn't go home last night.”
Kerry smiled, “Yes I figured that out when both you and one of my best nurses came in together looking like you'd rather be asleep than here.”
I look up to see that Kerry is still smiling, a knowing smile that tells me she is not mad, rather pleased with what she found out. “And I must say Romano is going to be so disappointed when he finds out. He was sure he had you on his side,” she pauses, and then continues in a softer voice. One I have only heard her use with patients, “And Susan I want you to know that I know what you are probably going through right now. If you ever need to talk you know where to find me.”
“Thanks Kerry,” I say really meaning it. It would be nice to talk to someone who has gone through all of this. However, right now I have to go and save lives so I don't get to say anymore to Kerry.
The day goes pretty well after that. I get a chance to talk to Elizabeth after one of the traumas and she informs me I looked very cute making my tired way out to get the paper in the morning. She then tells me she's never seen anyone stay the night with Alex before. This makes me feel good. Elizabeth and I have lunch together and talk until we get paged. I finish my nice uneventful day at the hospital and make my way to the lounge. Alex is in there sleeping on the couch. I go over to kiss her, and she wakes up and smiles, “Hey. Are you going home now?”
“Yeah. I have a meeting with Kerry tonight so I'm going to go freshen up a bit first.” I stop for a minute, feeling a little shy. “Um…do you want to come over later?”
Alex thinks for a minute and answers, “I don't think tonight would be good. I'm really tired (smirk) and I'd like to be functional tomorrow. But why don't we do something Friday? We're both off that evening.” I accept, but all the while wishing it could be sooner. It is Tuesday, but Friday still feels so far off. I can't think about that right now though. I grab my things, Kiss Alex goodbye and make my way home, the nurse on my mind the whole way.