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Something in Common

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April 19th, 2001

“Shady.”

Kerry looks up; confused. Sitting at the airport bar doing a crossword puzzle and drinking white wine, she does not expect anyone to be talking to her.

The woman leans in and points to the appropriate square in the puzzle laid out on the bar top. “5 down?”

She is close enough Kerry can smell her perfume.

“Oh. Yes. Thank you.” Kerry is polite, but tries to convey that she is not in the mood for small talk. She takes a sip of her wine and returns to staring down at her newspaper.

The woman, however, is not deterred. “Stuck on a layover?”

Kerry doesn’t look up, but answers anyway. “No, flight’s delayed.” Rain is pummeling Chicago, keeping all flights on the ground for the time being.

“You mean canceled.” The woman responds, her English accent reminding Kerry of Elizabeth Corday. Someone she does not want to be thinking about right now. What time is it? Had she and Mark tied the knot yet?

Kerry puts her pen down, turns around to look at the departures board just beyond the entrance to the bar. “No, still says delayed.”

“Ah, an optimist,” the woman says with a laugh. “Where are you trying to get to?”

Kerry answers with a small smile and a dip of her head. “Las Vegas.” No one she actually knows would ever call her an optimist.

“Really? Me too. I’m guessing a conference? You’re far too smartly dressed for a gambling addict.”

Kerry smiles again, wider this time and is sure her cheeks are now the same color as her hair. There’s something about this woman. Something she likes.

“Conference. Reimbursement Strategies in Medical Billing.” Kerry is hoping the conference will be less boring than it sounds.

“No kidding.” The woman pauses and then holds out her hand. “Serena Campbell. MD, MBA and fellow attendee at what promises to be the most boring conference ever held in Las Vegas, Nevada.”

Kerry shakes the offered hand, looks Serena straight in the eye and says, “Kerry Weaver, MD, pleased to meet you.”

Serena drops her hand, points to Kerry’s almost empty wine glass. “Shall I buy you another and we can finish that crossword at that table over there?”

Kerry, taken a bit by surprise at Serena’s forwardness, nonetheless makes a split second decision. Why the hell not?

------

Settled at the small table, crossword puzzle forgotten, Kerry finds herself explaining why she’s spending her weekend learning about hospital billing.

“My co-workers are getting married. Everyone will be there. We...we’re not close. They’re both angry at me because I was doing my job. Being the boss. So, I was...not invited.” Kerry pauses to take a gulp from her wine. “While I’m hoping the conference will be useful, I’m basically just saving face.”

So far, Serena has been the definition of confidence. Kerry watches Serena swirl the red liquid in her glass and stare at it as she meekly responds, “Ah, yes. I’m recently acquainted with that feeling as well.”

Kerry detects a chink in Serena’s armor and uncharacteristically decides to poke. “I’ve told you mine, now you tell me yours.”

There’s an awkward pause and Kerry thinks maybe she pushed too far, but then, Serena starts talking.

“My husband, Edward.” Serena spits out his name like venom. “Well, soon to be ex-husband, once the lawyers are through, works in the same hospital. Turns out he’s been shagging nurses in on-call rooms for the better part of the last three years.”

“Oh. Ouch.” Kerry can only imagine.

“Indeed. One of my professors from Harvard invited me out. He’s presenting a paper about nationalized healthcare that’s slightly derivative of the work I did with him at university. I wasn’t originally going to come at all. International travel with a six year old at home isn’t ideal and I won’t get much out of the conference that’s useful in the UK. But, I had some saving face of my own to do. I figured bored to tears was better than tears of humiliation. Not to mention the appeal of ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’. So, here I am.”

Kerry raises her glass and gives a nod, “Good for you.”

Serena smiles back, clinks her glass against Kerry’s and takes a sip of her Shiraz.

“Flight 6543 to Las Vegas, now boarding at gate C17.”

“Oh. I guess that’s our flight?” Kerry moves to gather her jacket and bag and then stands, sticking out her hand. “Thanks for the drink. It was really nice talking to you, Serena.”

Serena takes Kerry’s hand, holds on a bit longer than strictly necessary. “You’re more than welcome. Maybe I’ll see you at the conference? You can buy me dinner. The exchange rate is horrendous right now.” Serena grins then turns on her heel.

Kerry stands, frozen in place, and watches Serena’s hips sway as she saunters off toward the gate.

------

Kerry doesn’t see Serena again until the last day of the conference. She’s walking past the hotel bar when she spots her, sitting and smiling brightly at the man who clearly had just bought her a drink.  She tries her best to walk by unnoticed. Serena deserves to have some fun and Kerry didn’t want to interrupt. Serena it seems, has a different idea.

“Dr. Weaver!”

Serena quickly excuses herself from her conversation, sets her glass down at the bar and dashes over.

“Oh thank god, you must save me from this one.”

Grabbing her hand, Serena drags Kerry back to the bar.

“What are you drinking tonight?”

“Well, I wasn’t really planning on…”

“Shiraz it is.” Serena turns to the bartender, “One more of these, please.”

They wait for the second glass of wine. Kerry nervously shuffling her feet. Serena’s fingers tapping at the bar with impatience. Once the bartender completes the pour, Serena picks up both glasses and heads off toward the casino. She turns, beckoning Kerry to follow her with the jerk of her head and a smile on her lips.

“You feeling lucky tonight, Kerry?”

Very lucky, indeed.

------

Kerry and Serena sit at a pair of slot machines; drinks in hand, a bucket of quarters settled between them.

“I um...I like your dress.”

Serena smiles at the compliment. “Thank you. It was a steal. On sale at John Lewis. I do love a good bargain.”

Kerry is awestruck. How the hell did she get here? Playing the slots in Vegas with a beautiful, younger woman sitting next to her is not how she thought this weekend was going to end. As she inserts another quarter and pulls the lever she tries to think of what to say next, but Serena beats her to the punch.

“So Kerry... you seeing anyone?”

“I...well. No. Not really.”

“Not really? There must be a story there. Spill. I told you my relationship woes.”

“Well, I was seeing...I want to be, but, um...I screwed it up.”

“Do you like the bloke? Is he a good guy? You didn’t cheat on him did you? Because then I have no sympathy for you.”

“No, no. Nothing like that. I just...I didn’t.”

Kerry isn’t sure what to say. She barely knows Serena and has no idea how she would react to the news that the person she had been dating, the person she might actually be in love with is a woman.

“I wasn’t honest about my feelings. About who they were to me, how much they meant to me. Not when it counted anyway.”

Kerry’s wringing her hands and looking anywhere but at Serena. Serena’s got an eyebrow raised, looks like she wants to interject, but instead waits for Kerry to continue.

“I don’t know why I’m telling you all this. I don’t even know you. Probably won’t ever see you again.”

“That’s exactly why you’re telling me. And I’m glad you have.” Serena pauses. Leans in a bit and asks, “Was she upset that you’re not out?”

“Wait, I didn’t, how did you...”

“I’m familiar with the pronoun game, Kerry.”

“Oh. Oh! Are you...?”

“No, but I have lots of gay friends.” Serena chuckles, “God that sounds so cliche. I’m just trying to say, it’s ok. You love who you love.”

“I haven’t even said it yet. I mean. Not out loud.”

“What? That you’re gay?” Serena shrugs as she takes a sip of her wine. “No time like the present.”

“Ok. Um.” Kerry shimmies in her seat; sits up taller. “Kerry Weaver. Lesbian.”

Serena laughs; puts her hand on Kerry’s thigh. “See, that wasn’t so hard.”

“No, I suppose not.”

The two women spend the rest of the evening talking while feeding the slot machines. Kerry feels exposed. Like she has just unloaded her whole life story, but she also feels better. Free-er. Like a weight has been lifted from her shoulders. Serena is so easy to talk to. Kerry is glad she was the one who had been there apparently when she needed it most. As the hour grows late, Kerry stretches her arms and tries to stifle a yawn.

“Goodness, I’ve kept you up past your bedtime, haven’t I?”

“Is that a dig at my old age?”

Serena gasps in mock horror, “Oh, absolutely not!”

Kerry laughs. “I suppose I should be going. I do have a flight to catch in a few hours.”

They gather their things. Kerry turns to Serena, holds out her hand.

“So, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas?”

Serena bats away Kerry’s hand and pulls her into a quick hug. “I hope not. I’d rather thought I’d found a new friend.”

-----

November 22, 2001

It seems Serena is serious about Kerry being her new friend. She has gotten half a dozen emails or so over the last few months; more than one phone call. Mostly updates on Serena’s divorce or an interesting anecdote about a patient. She enjoys having a neutral third party to talk to about Robert and what they’ve started referring to as “the incident” with Carter and Jing Mei. Kerry decides she truly does like Serena; wants to maintain the tentative friendship they had formed and thus it was her turn to start a conversation. Besides, who else was she going to talk to about Lt. Lopez and her dazzling smile?  

To: Serena Campbell
From: Dr. Kerry Weaver
Date: November 22, 2001 8:37am
Subject: Getting back out there

I met a firefighter. A very female firefighter. I didn’t think she liked me at first, but now I think she’s interested. She seems to keep finding excuses to show up in my ER and I don’t mind a bit. Seeing her is usually the highlight of my day.

How about you? The divorce must be final by now?
Kerry

 

To: Dr. Kerry Weaver
From: Serena Campbell
Date: November 22, 2001 10:42am
Subject: Re: Getting back out there

Kerry,

Edward is still fighting me for every last fish finger in the bloody freezer, but I think I can see my way to the end of this debacle. Still, dating is not on my near term horizon. There’s Ellie to think about and the hospital is claiming more and more of my time.

I am more than happy to live vicariously through you, though. She’s a firefighter? I bet she’s strong. You are planning to ask her out right? Coffee? Or dinner?
Serena

 

To: Serena Campbell
From: Dr. Kerry Weaver
Date: November 22, 2001 8:21pm
Subject: Re: Getting back out there

I may have asked her to go ice fishing, but somehow, I have a date!
Kerry

 

To: Dr. Kerry Weaver
From: Serena Campbell
Date: November 23, 2001 7:08am
Subject: Re: Getting back out there

That is amazing, Kerry! Call me afterward. I want to know all the details.
Serena

------

January 17th, 2002

Kerry is fuming. She stalks back to her office, slams the door shut behind her and collapses onto the nearest chair. Then, she does the only thing she can think to do. Picks up the phone and dials a familiar number. She’ll sort out the making an international call from the hospital situation later.

Kerry starts speaking the second Serena answers. “She kissed me! She kissed me right there in the middle of my own department. What am I supposed to do now? How could she...”

Kerry continues to rant as Serena interjects, “I hope you kissed her back.”

“…It’s unprofessional. How can I ever expect my subordinates to respect me again?”

Suddenly Kerry stops talking. “Wait, what did you say?”

“I said I hope you kissed her back.”

“But, Serena, what she…”

“Kerry, you’ve been talking about this woman non-stop for weeks. You willingly attended a sporting event with her. Who cares what your colleagues think. It’s your life.”

“Serena, how can I possibly maintain my position at County after being outed? How many out gay hospital administrators do you know? It’s everything I’ve worked for, right out the window.”

“Sod your career, Kerry. You’re happy. Surely that’s more important than climbing the corporate ladder.”

“Did you just hear what you said?”

“I know, but Kerry? Do as I say, not as I do. Things will work themselves out.”

 

------

 

March 18th, 2003

On day three of her new position as Chief of Staff at County, Kerry arrives to find a massive floral arrangement has taken over her desk. Doubtful that Sandy would have sent such a thing, she checks for boobie traps before plucking the card out of the mass of flowers.

Kerry,

You made it! Lesbian lover and all!

Serena

------

Feb 19th, 2004

Kerry sits at the kitchen table surrounded by cards, envelopes and stamps. The baby monitor hums quietly in the background. Sandy approaches carefully from behind, wraps her arms around her waist and nuzzles into Kerry’s neck.

“Whacha doin’?”

Kerry startles, and then relaxes into the familiar embrace. “Thank you cards. I thought you were sleeping?”

“I was, but now I’m not.” Sandy grabs Kerry’s hand and tugs at it. “Join me on the couch?”

“In a minute, I want to finish this last card.”

“Ok.” Sandy gives Kerry a quick peck on the lips before heading for the living room.

Kerry’s eyes linger on her lover for a moment and then focus on the card in front of her.

Dear Serena,

 Sandy and I are so grateful for your gift. The baby blanket is gorgeous and I know at least I will enjoy the bottle of wine that’ll show up at our door once a month. I’m hoping we’ll get the hang of this parenting thing soon. How have you managed it on your own? You will have to share your secrets sometime.

Thanks again,
Kerry, Sandy and Henry

-----

April 22nd, 2004

Kerry checks her voicemail. Expecting a message from her lawyer, she instead hears a rich voice with an English accent.

“Oh, Kerry. I’m so sorry. How are you holding up? Ellie and I are planning a trip to the States this summer. I was going to show her around Boston. Maybe see a show in New York. Then I thought I could take her shopping down the Magnificent Mile? I’d love to see you. And I’d love to meet Henry. Call me when you can.”

Kerry saves the message, deletes the four other messages from well-meaning friends and colleagues. She makes a mental note to call Serena back when it’s not the middle of the night in London. They haven’t spoken since Sandy’s death. Since Sandy’s family began the legal process of taking Henry away from her. Kerry feels like she doesn’t have anyone on her side. She knows Serena will remind her otherwise.  

-----

January 11th, 2007

Kerry is impatient, excited, downright frightened. Serena hasn’t picked up yet and the longer she has to wait, the bigger the whole thing feels.

“Kerry! Hello!” Serena sounds a bit breathless.

“What took you so long? I was beginning to think I’d have to leave a voicemail.”

“My darling Elinor must have changed my ringtone again. Took me a while to figure it out it was my phone that was ringing and then, of course, the damn thing was buried at the bottom of my bag.”

Kerry can’t wait any longer, “I quit my job.”

Kerry hears nothing but silence from the other end of the line.

“I’m moving to Miami.”

Still nothing.

“With Courtney.”

After Sandy died and Kerry won custody of Henry, she focused on work and raising her son. When she lost her position as Chief of Staff and was demoted back to an attending in the ER, Serena told her to focus in on the medicine; to remind herself what it was that she loved about being a doctor in the first place. When she met Courtney, the news director so very eager to get Kerry in front of a camera, Serena told her to go for it. A new love was just what Kerry needed. Now though, Serena seems to have nothing to say.

“Serena? You still there?”

“Sorry. Yes. Miles away there for a second. That’s amazing, Kerry! Best news I’ve heard all day.”

“Serena? Are you ok?”

Serena sighs, “Just a long day. We lost a patient we should have been able to save. Bloody NHS.”

Kerry simply hums in response. There’s really no way to respond without sounding trite.

There’s a lull, then Kerry hears Serena take a deep breath, “So, when can Ellie and I join you for some fun in the sun?”

-----

May 1st, 2012

Kerry is struggling to use her new phone. Courtney insisted she get an iPhone. She honestly felt she was doing just fine with her old flip phone, but after Henry had sent it for a swim in the toilet, she didn’t have much choice in the matter. She finally finds the message app and taps at it. Nothing happens. She presses again, harder this time and the app finally opens. Amongst the set of test messages from Courtney, Kerry finds what she was looking for: a new message from none other than Serena Campbell.

First day at Holby City. There’s a redheaded Consultant here. Cheekbones to die for. I think you’d get along like a house on fire.

Kerry gets to work, slowly and carefully tapping out a response.

-----

December 2nd, 2014

Sorting through the usual suspects of bills and junk mail, Kerry happens across a postcard. There’s a photo of the Eiffel Tower on the front. The words, “Wish you were here” scrawled across the bottom. Kerry flips the card over.

Kerry,

Mum passed. I haven’t been to Paris since I was young. I feel like I’m finally free to be myself. Maybe I’ll stay here in Paris and start over. Maybe I’ll just get pissed and find myself a good holiday shag. Kiss Henry for me and give Courtney my love.

All the best,
Serena

-----

July 20th, 2016

While Henry is fiddling with her computer, Kerry warms her hands on a mug of coffee. It doesn’t matter how long she’s lived in Florida or how warm it is outside, she’s still always cold. Henry steps away from the machine just as the FaceTime call from Serena comes in. Kerry clicks accept and waits for Serena to appear.

“Serena! Hi! Can you hear me?”

“I can hear you, but I can’t see you.”

Kerry hears a second voice in the background, “Auntie Serena, tell Doctor Kerry to check that her camera is turned on.”

“Thank you Jason, but I believe she can hear you.” Serena turns back toward the screen, “Kerry did you get that?”

“Yes. Henry’s looking into it now.”

“There you go, Mom. Should be all set.”

A small picture of herself shows up in the corner of the screen and Kerry smiles at her son, “Thank you, sir. Whatever would I do without you?”

“Nothing technology related that’s for sure,” mutters Henry.

“Oi, Henry! Mind your mother.”

“Sorry, Serena.” Henry apologies in that completely insincere tone used by teenagers everywhere.

Kerry’s gaze follows Henry out of the room and then moves back to Serena’s digital form. “So, what’s the big news?”

“I stepped down from Deputy CEO.” Serena’s smile is radiant.

“Wow. You sure seem happy about your decision. What was the catalyst?”


“I had a terrible day. I had a report due to Henrik and Jason got himself into a spot of trouble and I was dealing with trauma calls all on my own and then Bernie reminded me. She reminded me that I don’t have to do it all. I can focus on what makes me happy. Elinor and Jason and life saving medicine. Our trauma unit.”

Kerry interjects, a smirk on her face, “ Our Trauma Unit?”

“Yes, our Trauma Unit. AAU wouldn’t have one if it wasn’t for me, you know. And Bernie deserves to have her skills put to good use.”

“So I’ve heard.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Oh nothing, Serena. I just think it’s great. Especially now that you have Jason to think about.”

“Yeah. It is great. Bernie and I celebrated last night over glasses of wine at Albie’s.”

“Really? You and Bernie. Did she help you finish a bottle of Shiraz?”

Serena looks confused. “No. Jason was with us. He was anxious to get his fish and chips. I think she ordered white. Why?”

Kerry tries to hide her smile. “No reason. Just curious.”

-----

August 31st, 2016

The shrill sound of her phone startles Kerry Weaver into action. Sitting straight up, feet on floor, ready for whatever emergency awaits her. Then she realizes she hasn’t been on call in 10 years.

“I’m sleeping. This better be good.” She grumbles into the phone.

“She kissed me.”

“What? Serena?”

“Bernie kissed me, Kerry! What the bloody hell do I do now?”

Kerry slumps back into bed, closes her eyes. Recalls some good advice she’d once gotten.

“Um...kiss her back?”

“I did, but...”

“Good. Now let me sleep.”

“Kerry!”

“Serena, it’s 3 in the morning here. Let. Me. Sleep.”

Kerry ends the call and tosses her phone back onto the nightstand.

------

Kerry sits down at the kitchen table to drink her morning coffee while Henry munches on cereal and stares at his phone.

“Henry, put the phone away.”

He ignores her until Courtney rounds the corner and grabs it off the table.

“Hey!”

“You know the rules.” Courtney says. She drops his phone on the counter next to the others and goes about getting started on lunches for the day. Kerry exchanges a smirk with her wife and then returns to enjoying her coffee. Henry just glares at her, until a vibrating phone hurdles him into action.

“Ugh. It’s yours, Mom.” Henry flops back into his seat as Courtney hands Kerry her phone.

“It’s Serena again. What’s going on with her that’s got her calling you at all hours?”

“Girl problems, apparently.”

Courtney’s eyebrows hit her hairline. “Girl problems? As in…”

“Yup.”  Kerry grins and heads for the sunroom. “Weaver.”

“Serena Campbell. Lesbian.”

Kerry scoffs. “I wouldn’t go that far.”

“No? For years you’ve been extolling the virtues of kissing women and I’m now wishing I had listened to you much sooner.”

Kerry sighs and makes herself comfortable on the bench. “Serena? Start at the beginning.”

“I can’t, I’m due in theatre in 15 minutes.”

Kerry rolls her eyes. “Why call me then?”

“To tell you I’m going to be brave. I’m going to be brave and tell Bernie I want to give it a go. I need you to hold me to that.”

“You deserve to be happy, Serena.”

“Thanks, Kerry.”

------

Two days later Kerry sends a text.

So? What’s her address? I believe I owe her a toaster oven.

Not 30 seconds later and Kerry’s phone lights up with Serena’s smiling face.

“Weaver.”

“Toaster oven?”

Kerry follows up with a very serious question, “Do they have U-Haul in England?”

“What?”

“Nevermind. Tell me everything.”

“It doesn’t matter. It’s not. We’re not...Bernie wants to keep it confined to theatre. Thinks that’s ‘wise’.”

Kerry can practically hear the air quotes. “And that’s not what you think?”

“I think I really want to kiss her again.”

Kerry thinks she will.