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Messages - Kara Aimsley

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1
Life on the Other Side / Re: I wait in 4/4 Time: Songs in Gerry's Head
« on: August 16, 2016, 03:14:09 AM »
A Great Big World, Christina Aguilera - Say Something

Say something, I'm giving up on you
I'll be the one if you want me to
Anywhere I would've followed you
Say something, I'm giving up on you

And I... am feeling so small
It was over my head
I know nothing at all
And I... will stumble and fall
I'm still learning to love
Just starting to crawl

Say something, I'm giving up on you
I'm sorry that I couldn't get to you
Anywhere I would've followed you
Say something, I'm giving up on you

And I... will swallow my pride
You're the one that I love
And I'm saying goodbye

Say something, I'm giving up on you
And I'm sorry that I couldn't get to you
And anywhere I would've followed you (Oh-Ooh)
Say something, I'm giving up on you

Say something, I'm giving up on you
Say something...

2
Life on the Other Side / Re: Chapter 2: Fathers. (18+)
« on: August 12, 2016, 03:54:53 PM »
Bill had walked her in and helped her get through the paperwork and bureaucracy. But then, the moment came. They asked if she wanted to view her father.

In truth, she didn’t. She had no interest in seeing what he looked like now. But something inside her told her she should. That it was important. She simply nodded.

“You want me to come with?” Bill asked her.

Those blue-grey eyes turned toward the doors where they would lead her to him. To say she was nervous was an understatement. But she turned back to him and shook her head. “No. No...I...I think I need to do this myself.” She said, those eyes a mixture of sadness and fear.

Bill nodded and took her shoulders in his hand. “Listen. You need me at all, you just call. I’ll be out here. Okay?”

She tried on a brave little smile, but it quickly faded as she wrapped her arms around him, pressing her face to his chest. “Thank you.” She whispered.

Bill placed a hand at the back of her head, returning the hug, a small kiss placed at the top of her head. “You go on now. Say goodbye.”

She pulled back and looked up at him as if trying to draw strength from him. Finally, she took a deep breath and started toward the door.

The doctor lead her down a long, winding corridor. That non-descript, antiseptic tile seeming to go forever. Every step feeling weighed down, as if her feet were fighting her. But why? Why the hell was she feeling this? What did she expect would happen? Why had she come here? What did this achieve. If she hadn’t the state would have disposed properly of him. She didn’t need to be here, so what the hell was happening?

The room was cold. Blues and whites. A line of refrigerated hatches along the walls. Suddenly the thought of that filled her with dread. This room full of death. Empty vessels waiting to be dealt with. She tried to think of more pleasant things. To push the thoughts out of her head. But they came surging back, not letting her off easily.

The doctor looked at her and then gripped the handle. As she yanked, Kara’s eyes slid shut, the creaking sound of the table extending out echoing in the otherwise quiet room. Slowly her eyes opened and looked down.

There he was. Her father. His skin pale. Lifelessly grey. His lips a cold blue. The last time she’d seen him, he had long shaggy brown hair. All that remained were a few silver tufts here and there. He looked thin. Too thin. His flesh clung to his ribs and she could see liver spots and scars throughout his chest. His long, gnarled fingers thin and in dire need of a manicure. A scraggly beard hung from his pointed chin. Age may have given him wrinkles, but there was no mistaking that face.

Kara swallowed hard. And then looked up to the doctor. “H….how?”

“Complications from an overdose of Oxycodone, cocaine and a mixture of alcohol. His heart just...couldn’t handle the stress.” The woman answered.

Kara shut her eyes. She wasn’t sure why the tears came. But there they were. Maybe it was the image of him...this sad, little, old man in a rathole apartment dying alone. Nobody to love him. Nobody to beg him, please, stop. Nobody and nothing in the world to live for. That was how the man who had given her life had left the world. And It broke it her heart.

The doctor watched her a moment, that clinical, fake expression of remorse upon her face.

“Can...can I have a minute alone with him?” Kara asked.

The doctor nodded. “Of course.” She stepped away and out of the room to give her privacy. The door creaking as it shut.

Kara’s eyes opened and now her grief was replaced with something else. Her voice shook. “You son of a bitch. You stupid...idiotic son of a bitch. What the **** were you thinking? Huh?”

She glared down at him with tearful eyes. “Now I’m supposed to take care of you? Give me one good reason why I should, you piece of ****!”

Her face screwed up then and she fairly growled. “Why.”

Her breathing escalated. “Why?!” Her voice echoed in the room.

Kara’s hands gripped his arm and squeezed, the rage in her eyes softening. “Why wasn’t I good enough?”

Tears rolled down her cheeks as she sniffled. “I know you missed her. I know you wanted her back, but why wasn’t I good enough for you? Why couldn’t you love me?” She asked him, her body shaking with silent sobs as she clenched her teeth.

“I’m sorry….I’m so, so sorry.” Kara managed. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there to save you.”

She sniffed and wiped her eyes, taking in a deep breath and letting it out, shuddering. She took a moment to just stare down at him. Her breathing finally evening out. He was so tiny. So frail. He was so distraught, so lonely, so afraid. All her life she could see it, but couldn’t put the words to it for her own anger. What a miserable, horrible life he must have led. No friends, no loved ones. Everyone pushed away, hurt before they could get to know him. Even his own daughter.

No. It wasn’t anger now. It was pity.

This was why she had come.

This was why she had to be here.

Kara blinked a few times as the realization hit her. Silent with her father for the last time. Finally, she whispered. “I forgive you.”

The words almost burned in her throat, but they were out. “I forgive you.”

3
Life on the Other Side / Re: Chapter 2: Fathers. (18+)
« on: August 11, 2016, 12:35:19 AM »
Kara’s eyes popped open and looked around. It was still dark out. The radio playing some old country ballad. The clock read 2:30 A.M. She glanced over to see Bill sitting there, yawning, but doing alright. He had a Snickers bar in one hand, the wheel in the other, chomping away at the candy as he drove.

Not much had changed about him since then. More lines had set into his face, and his hair had gone from that dirty blonde to grey, but other than that? Those same kind eyes, that same easy going smile. That same decent sense of self. After all the years this man had been in her life, he was still THAT guy. Always there for her, always looking to help. She could still remember the day the cops had come to take her home.

“We’re sorry, Bill. But we got orders.”

Bill gave them a worried look. “Look guys...you know what kind of man he is.”

The taller of the officers stepped forward. “Bill, it doesn’t matter. You can’t go and take a man’s daughter. There are official channels you have to take. Now, Frank has agreed not to press charges if you agree to hand her over.”

Bill stared at the officer a moment, and then glancing down the street. Aimsley stood on his front lawn in a stained undershirt and a ratty pair of sweatpants, watching from a distance. She clung to Gerry as they watched from inside the house. Bill was still considering it. It wouldn’t do to be carted off to jail today. Not in front of the kids.

“Fine. But you walk her in! I want your eyes on that son of bitch.” Bill had said pointing to the cop. “You hear me?”

The shorter officer held up his hands. “You got my word. And Bill...off the record. I get why you did this. Son of a bitch waited two weeks to even call us. I’m sorry it has to go down like this.”

The policemen came in and told her what was going on. Kara had figured this wouldn’t last forever. Reluctantly, she gave in. Gerry took it much harder. Bill had to hold him back and remove him from the room so they could escort her out.

In a life full of sadness that was her saddest day.

Her father had barely looked at her when she got back home. Just sat in the living room, cracked a beer and watched TV. He hadn’t wanted her back. He just didn’t want Mr. Finnegan to win that fight.

Late that night, she lay in her bed. At that point, she was just all cried out. There were no more tears to be shed. A knock at the front door brought her out of bed. She crept to her window and peered outside. Bill stood there. Her heart dropped as her father opened the door.

It was difficult, but she could just make out what they were saying.

“What the-”

“Shut up.” Bill said, cutting him off immediately. “Shut your mouth. You listen to me. You may not care about that girl, but a lot of other people do. I don’t know if I made myself clear before, but let me remind you. Another bruise. Scratch. I see anything you’ve done to hurt that girl...and I’m bringing it down your head ten fold.”

Her dad apparently forgot his stature. “****off, you can’t come here and threaten me! Listen-”

Bill grabbed the screen door and pulled it open, backing him into the house. “YOU listen. That girl is stronger and braver than any child her age should have to be! And if you’re going to refuse to be a father to her, then I’ll do it. I’ll defend her. The same as any of my kids. And I would KILL to protect them from people like you.”

Kara’s head lowered, a smile spreading across her face. A different kind of tears welling up inside of her.

“You think I’m blowing smoke? Try me. But I promise you, I will gladly go to prison if it means that you don’t get to hurt her again.” Bill stared him down. Her father just terrified. “You have a nice night.”

Bill stormed out, the screen door banging shut behind him. Tears streamed down her face as she watched him walk away, her hand going up to window where he had stood.

4
Life on the Other Side / Re: Chapter 2: Fathers. (18+)
« on: August 10, 2016, 01:45:10 AM »
They said their goodbyes to Rose and she called Gerry to ask him to run the bar while she was away. He, of course, wanted to come with, but she needed him there. The bar had been closed too long as it was.

Kara climbed up into Bill’s truck, all nerves and jitters. She forced a smile over to him, and just looked like she was barely holding herself together. He reached across and put a hand on her shoulder.

“It’s okay. Breathe, kid. Breathe.” he said quietly, giving her shoulder a reassuring squeeze. “I’ve got ya.” He smiled before turning the ignition, the old truck cranking to life.

She never appreciated him more than at this moment, she thought. Bill Finnegan was more than just a good father, he was a damn good man. The best parts of him had been passed down to his son. The kindness, the generosity, the sense of humor...that earnest desire to make people happy that so endeared the big goof to everyone he met.

Bill turned to her after backing out of the driveway, throwing the truck into gear. “Why don’t you try and get a little shut eye. Tomorrow’s going to be a big day. You’re gonna want that rest. Trust me.”

“Okay, I’ll try.” She agreed. The past 2 hours had been such a hectic mess, she didn’t realize how tired she actually was. She yawned and leaned against the door pillar. Bill reached into the backseat, pulling up a jacket and handed it over. “Here. It makes a good pillow.”

She smiled and curled it beneath her head, eyes sliding shut. “Thanks, Dad.” She muttered.

Bill glanced over at use of the name a frown crossing his face. Poor kid, he thought. She’d not had an easy go of it in life and things just seemed to keep popping up in the way of her happiness.

Kara tried to slip into a peaceful sleep. Images in her head from the first day she’d met the Finnegans. She’d seen a boy sitting out on his front lawn, playing by himself. Just a skinny little thing, he had blue eyes and brown hair. Her father was, of course, drunk again, passed out on the living room floor of their *****y little house.

Clad in a dirty, oversized Mickey Mouse t-shirt that hung off her tiny frame like a shroud, and pants that had once been jeans, but she’d cut off at the knee. Her brown hair in a messy ponytail, she smiled down at the boy, not daring to speak just yet.

He slowly looked up at this...girl, he supposed it was, though she was unlike any he’d ever seen. The two just stared at each other a moment before she gave him an awkward little wave. Gerry looked at her tiny, dirty hand. The girl had been playing around in a construction site, running around and climbing the dirt mound in a solo game of king of the hill.

He gave her a little wave. This brought a bright smile to her face. “Hi.” She said. “Whatcha doin’?”

Gerry looked down to his Star Wars figures, Chewbacca was currently flying around in an X-Wing fighter, trying to not get shot down by Cobra Commander in a TIE Fighter. (He didn’t have all the figures, alright?!) He held up the TIE Fighter. “Playin’ Star Wars.” He said in a quiet little voice.

“Wanna play?” He asked her holding the toy up to her. Anna looked at it like she had handed him the Holy Grail. There weren’t a lot of toys in her house. And those that WERE there were broken, and busted up. Barbies with irreparable haircuts and the like. Not that it mattered because she didn’t like them anyway. She saw other boys around with their toys, but most of them were older or just didn’t want to play with a girl.

She took the TIE in her hands carefully, and accidentally pressing one the buttons at the top that ejected the wing pylons . The wing fired off onto the ground. She jumped, shocked, her eyes going wide. OH NO. Oh, hell, she broke it! She stared waiting for Gerry to yell or throw a fit. Instead he got to his feet and lifted his X-wing.

“Oh no! You got hit! Now you gotta spin it like this!” He showed her with his toy and ran away from her making noises like a spaceship out of control. Her face lit up and in an ecstatic ear-to-ear smile. The pair of them played on his front lawn for the next 4 hours, taking turns being the good guy and the bad guy and chasing each other. Gerry eventually ran inside to bring out his Millennium falcon for them to TRY and heft up and fly with their tiny arms.

The little girl was ecstatic. She’d found her first friend. Someone who actually WANTED her around. It didn’t hurt that he had awesome toys that he let her use. For the first time in her young life she felt like she belonged. And Gerry would never know what that meant to her.

5
Life on the Other Side / Re: Chapter 2: Fathers. (18+)
« on: August 08, 2016, 12:47:12 PM »
“Hello? Ms. Aimsley?” The officer on the other end of the line. She was in shock. Of all the things to hear from him, this was not one she expected.

Her father...was gone.

Why?

Why did she feel so numb? So...afraid? She hated him. He’d been nothing but abusive and neglectful and cold...and now he was dead. Gone forever.

She should be glad.

“Ms. Aimsley? I’m sorry for your loss. But there is the matter of claiming the body. You were listed as his next of kin.”

That son of a bitch. After everything, he made sure she’d be in charge of his corpse. She wanted to tell the officer to toss his body in the dumpster and let the crows at the dump have him.

“Ms. Aimsley? Are you there?”

“Y-yes.” She managed to choke out, her body trembling.

“We would appreciate your input on how you’d like proceed with your father.”

She swallowed the lump in her throat hard. “H-how did he…”

“It might be better if you come in. Are you available?”

No. No, she was not. That filthy, mean spirited *** hole could rot in the sun for all she cared. He deserved it. The day he ran out on her was the best day of her life, God damn it. He wasn’t there for her *****y prom. He wasn’t there for her graduation. Didn’t teach her to drive, hell, he didn’t teach her to tie her shoes. Everything she was, she made and learned for herself! That piece of **** wasn’t there for her life, so why in the **** should she be there for him in death?

**** him.

She made her decision.

But when she opened her mouth, the words came out… “Yes. Yes, I can.”

6
Life on the Other Side / Chapter 2: Fathers. (18+)
« on: August 08, 2016, 12:46:35 PM »
What. A.  Weekend.  Kara stepped into her apartment, a dazzling, joyous smile on her face.  Had that REALLY just happened?  Had something she'd wanted for most of her life just become a reality?  That smile, that laugh, those eyes and...she had to admit...that body.  Most of all it was just...Gerry.  Everything that he was, everything that he wanted to be... she loved.  Was that weird to say?  It's not like it was too soon.  It had been 27 years!  Granted there was that whole...19 year gap.  But she'd carried that torch long enough.  This was her time now.  Things were finally going to start going right.

She was barely conscious of the fact that her cell's battery died somewhere around hour 3 of the trip.  Kara pulled her phone out, glancing down.  "Ah...crap.." she muttered, moving over to her purse and fishing out the charger.  

Bill and Rose seemed pretty happy about how everything was working out, too, she'd noticed.  All throughout breakfast and the car-ride home, Rose had this sly little grin on her face.  Kara was just convinced that Ginny...who had apparently ALSO gotten lucky that night, was just glad the focus wasn't on her.  That seemed like par for the course for the ginger girl.  Kara didn't understand what her hang ups were about sex.  It was a perfectly natural thing.  So, she had herself a good time.  Whatever, get over it, Red!

Her screen lit up, showing that the phone was, indeed, plugged in.

And good for her, too!  The little blonde she'd snagged was  a hottie!  Kara might not have swung that way, but she knew a knock-out when she saw one.  Ginny would probably never be one of those girls she could sit and gab and trade stories with.  They were too different, she mused.  Kara was too much of a free spirit and Ginny was...nervous.  Sort of fastidious and proper, despite her enjoyment of a certain series of novels that were basically poorly written S&M smut.  At least she was friendlier to her.  She seemed to genuinely root for her and Gerry as a couple.  That, she could appreciate.

The phone completed its boot-up sequence as Kara reached her fridge, looking for something...anything that hadn't expired.  She was not the best at keeping order in her home fridge.  At work, she was like a hawk, but home?  Not so much.  She grabbed a jug of orange juice and twisted the cap off, sipping right from the container because screw you, she was an adult and if she wanted to drink right from the carton in her own house at 9 PM, she damn well would!

That was when her phone lit up like the 4th of July, notifications sounding off.  She stepped over with a quirked eyebrow, glancing down at the screen.  There were several missed calls...Something must be wrong.  She checked the number...she didn't recognize it at first, but there were about 7 calls from it...from the police.

Immediately, her heart dropped.  The bar.  It had to be the bar.  Oh, God...her entire life was tied into that place...if she lost it, she didn't know what she'd do.  It had been the one thing that was truly her's most of her adult life!  The one thing she could point to and say with pride "This is mine."  Could it really just be gone.  That was when the phone rang.  She nearly jumped out of her skin when it went off.

For a long moment, she just stared, trying to will herself to pick up.  If she did, then it was real.  With a deep breath, she closed her eyes and brought it to her ear, pressing the green button.

"Hello?"

"Hello, is this Kara Aimsley?"  the voice asked.

Oh, God.  Oh, God...that tone.  Oh no....

"Y-yes."

"This Officer Hester with the Dallas Police dept."

Her hands trembled, tears began to form.

"Ma'am..."  the voice said.

Here it came.

"I'm sorry to tell you this..."

No, no no no...

"...but your father's dead."

Kara's eyes went wide.

And suddenly everything felt numb.

7
Life on the Other Side / Re: Chapter 1: Life On The Other Side (18+)
« on: July 10, 2016, 03:10:33 AM »
The family sat down to dinner that night to feast on Henry and his fishy brethren.  A look of such smug pride on Kara's face when her catch was presented to the family, that Gerry couldn't help but chuckle.  After dinner they were gathered on the porch, Otis Redding's Dock Of The Bay playing on the radio.  Rose sat in Bill's lap, a glass of sangria in her hand and a beer in his.  Kara's feet rested on Gerry's thighs while Ginny was snoozing away in a hammock, a glass at the end table by her side.  

Kara smiled at the older couple, still so in love after all the years.  They were so good together, so happy with each other.  God, she wanted that.  "How did you two meet?"  She asked, taking a quick sip of her drink.  

Bill glanced to his wife, brow wrinkled in thought.  "Where were we?  Dave's?"

Rose nodded.  "We were at a party a friend of us was throwing.  I was just out of a bad break up, and Dave was always trying to get us to meet.  For whatever reasons it just never worked out.  Either he was busy or I was busy, or we were dating other people.  We'd never even met."

Bill smiled up at her.  "So, Dave throws this big shindig at his place down by the beach, and we're both there.  I walk in the door and I see this...stunning woman standing by the record player talking to her friends.  And immediately, I'm thinking, 'I gotta talk to her.'"

"And this hunky guy walks up to me, flashing those baby blues at me and that smile...and suddenly, there's no one else at this thing.  Just me and this handsome, charming, funny guy who I am just completely smitten with."  Rose continued the story placing a smooch on her husband's lips.

Bill turned to them.  "We ended up sitting out in the sand, sharing a bottle of wine until sunrise.  Just talking and laughing...And that was it.  I was cooked."

Rose giggled.  "We didn't even realize we were the people Dave had been trying to get together until our first date."

Kara's smile widened, looking between the two of them.  "You guys are so lucky."  She said.  "How do you do it?  I mean after all these years?"

Rose shrugged.  "It hasn't always been easy.  I mean, people are still people, and we can still drive one another up a wall.  You go through tough times.  You argue, you fight, you butt heads.  But at the end of the day, when he looks at me, it's still the look he gave me that night.  And it still gives me the butterflies I had that night.  It's just more now.  Because he's not just a guy I met at a party.  He's the father of my children.  The man who has stood by me through everything.  The man who has never let me down."

Gerry beamed at his parents.  What they had was beautiful.  Perfect.  It might seem mundane or boring to some, but to him, it looked like heaven.

"She's all I could I want.  All I could need.  She gave me so much in this life that I can't, and don't want to imagine a life without her."  Bill finished, placing a lingering kiss on Rose's lips.

Gerry turned to Kara, looking at her a long moment.  Those smokey blue eyes connected with his, a smile tugging at the corners of her lips.  

Not much later, Bill and Rose retired to bed,waking Ginny to sleep indoors, lest she be eaten alive by mosquitoes.  Gerry and Kara put all the glasses in the kitchen sink and headed upstairs.  She turned around to face him as they got to the door of his room.  "Well..."she said.  "Night, G."

Those beautiful azure hues looked right into his, a warm smile gracing her perfect features.  

"Goodnight, Kara."  He said quietly.  The tension between them thick enough you could cut it with a knife.  Kara chewed the back of her lower lip a moment, still staring at him.  Finally her eyes lowered a bit and she turned to head for her room.

That was when she felt his right hand wrap around her arm.  She turned to find him moving toward her, his left hand going to her cheek and that was all the prompting she needed.  The two them collided, his lips pressing softly to her's, his thumb moving gently along her cheek bone as one strong arm wrapped around her waist.  Her body melted into his, feeling like this moment could be her last and she would die happy.  

Kara's hand moved up, fingers pressing into the hair at the back of his head as she deepened the kiss, breathing him in through her nostrils.  This was what she had been wanting for so long, what she had dreamed of.  And this moment, it was perfect.

Their lips parted, and she could not stop the wide, blissful smile that took over them.  Their foreheads resting together, the pair of them just laughed quietly, looking into each other's eyes.  Gerry brushed her hair behind her ear and sighed.  Kara nudged her nose lightly to his, the two of them exchanging another quick peck.  "Good night."  She said, elation dominating her expression.

"Night."  He whispered back, the two of them reluctantly leaving each other's arms.  Gerry watched as she walked to her room, her joy evident even in her stride.  As she opened her door she glanced back at him, smiling ear-to-ear before stepping inside and closing the door behind her.  The two of them wouldn't sleep much that night, both trying to keep their giddy laughter quiet.  For Kara, it had been a long time coming.  A dream she'd clung to nearly all her life.  And now it was real and she could not remember when she'd been this happy.

8
Life on the Other Side / Re: Chapter 1: Life On The Other Side (18+)
« on: June 29, 2016, 07:55:33 PM »
7 beers and 4 keepers later, Gerry and Bill returned to the cabin.  After locking down the boat and storing the fish for a bit, he returned inside.  The girls were all in there, playing Cards Against Humanity, a glass of Rose's famous home-made Sangria beside each of them.  Kara perked up upon seeing Gerry.  She MIGHT have a been a little drunk.

"The Great White Hunters returneth!" She proclaimed for all to hear.

Bill entered just as they all let out a drawn out "woo".  He shook his head and gave Gerry a nudge with his elbow. "Boozehounds."  he said derisively before stepping in.  "Hello, ladies.  And what are we doing here?"  He said leaning down and smooching Rose's cheek.  She reached back, a slightly inebriated smile on her face as she clung to him.  

"Playin' a card game."  She said.  Her smile faded quickly and she looked back at him, then.   Super serious.  "It's filthy."

He snorted and peered over her shoulder at the cards.  "...Michael Jackson's spotted p-"  His eyes snapped up, looking at each of them.  Kara and Ginny giggled.

"Ya'll need Jesus..." he said, shaking his head and walking off into the kitchen to grab a beer.

Gerry pulled up a chair.  "I'm in next round."
__

The game continued late into the night, Bill and Rose heading off to bed around midnight.  That was when they just decided to switch to a drinking game, playing a little "never have I ever".  Gerry learned quite a bit about his sister's surprisingly debaucherous college years.  Ginny turned beat red multiple times, of course, but the more she drank, the more comfortable she got.  By 2:30, Ginny was out like a light, curled up on the couch with her head on Kara's lap.

She glanced down at the snoozing redhead, grinning.  "Aww...look at sleeping beauty."  she said quietly stroking her hair gently.

Gerry glanced over with a grin, two beer bottles in his hand.  "You two bonding?"  He handed her the bottle and clinked his to her's.  He turned and looked out the window as he took a swig of his bottle.  

"Hey."  He said turning those blue eyes on her.  "What do you say we grab some more beers, some s'more stuff, and we go outside and build a fire?"

Kara's eyes widened excitedly.  "Yes.  Yes! Awesome, let's do that."

"You're into it?"

"I'm into it, dude.  I'm gonna grab a hoodie, meet me out there?"  she said, carefully slipping out from underneath Ginny, laying her head on a pillow.  

Gerry grabbed a bag of s'more stuff and a six pack of beers, moving outside to the fire pit.  He gathered firewood and started setting up the fire.  He'd just got a good blaze going when Kara came walking out, a green zip-up hoodie over her t-shirt and shorts that showed off her long, strong legs.  In one hand was an acoustic guitar.  She put on a big, excited cheesy grin, bouncing.  "Look what I fouuuuuuund!"  She said in a sing song voice.

"Oh, dear god..."  Gerry chuckled.  "Where did you find that?"  

"It was in my room!"

"That was my grandpa's."  He said, smiling, as memories came rushing back.  Nights by this very pit when Pops would play old ballads.  "Red River Valley", "El Paso"...sometimes he'd play "Rainbow Connection" while Rose would sing.  Those were amazing nights, Gerry recalled, as a warm smile widened on his lips.  "Can you play?"

She looked down at the guitar and shrugged.  "I dunno.  You tell me."  She said with an arrogant air, throwing the strap over her neck.  She wiggled the fingers of her strumming hand as if she was about to do something really impressive... and immediately started sloppily playing random notes, super aggressively, a rock star sneer on her face like she was rocking his world.

When she finished and raised her fists triumphantly, Gerry nodded putting on a show of being impressed, slowly clapping like it was the greatest thing he'd ever heard.  Kara put her hands together and bowed her head in thanks.  "Yes, yes, bathe me in your adoration!  I taught myself, you know?"

Laughter erupted between the two of them as she stepped over sitting on the stone bench beside him.  "No.  I can play, yeah."  She grinned and strummed, he fingers finding a chord.  

"This one goes out to guy I know named Gerry.  Ger-bear, wherever you are...this one's for you." She said with theatrical wistfulness.

Her head bobbed as she played a soft sweet little melody.  Her voice finally came into play.  Sweet, low, a little raspy, but definitely pleasant.

"Shadows grow so long before my eyes
And they're moving across the page
Suddenly the day turns into night
Far away from the city
Don't hesitate
'Cause your love won't wait"

Gerry smiled over to her, the brunette's stunning blue eyes closed as she focused on the sweet, slow little ballad she played for him.

"Ooh baby I love your way....everyday
Wanna tell you I love your way...everyday
Wanna be with you night and day"

He blinked, watching her just soothingly own the song.

"Moon appears to shine and light the sky
With the help of some firefly
Wonder how they have the power to shine, shine, shine
I can see them under the pine
Don't hesitate
'Cause your love won't wait..."

Her fingers moved expertly across the neck of the guitar, not a single note or chord out of place.  Gerry'd never heard her sing like this.  They'd done a karaoke night or two, but she was mostly a Joan Jett, Bonnie Tyler, or Pat Benatar kinda girl.  This...this was a nice surprise.  Those smokey blue eyes opened to look at him, a little grin coming to her lips as she sang to him.

"Ooh baby I love your way....everyday
Wanna tell you I love your way...everyday
Wanna be with you night and day..."

As the song came to a close, he realized she was staring right at him.  Not singing for him, but singing TO him.  Their eyes meeting, locking.  And in those eyes, he saw love.  Real, fiery, unconditional love.  Part of him didn't believe he deserved it.  Not from someone like her.  She looked at him as if to say "It's your's anyway."  The corners of his mouth twitched into a happy smile as Kara strummed the final chord, returning the smile up at him.

"Wow..." he said quietly.  "That was...that was great."

She looked down at the guitar demurely, brushing her hair behind her ear.  "Thanks."  Those blue eyes turned up at him again, setting his heart pounding.  She had a way of looking at him that just leveled him.  Gave him a wonderful pain in his stomach.

"I didn't know you could sing like that."  He said with a tilt of his head.

"Yeah...I don't really do it for just anybody."  She nodded, chewing lightly on her lower lip.  For a long moment the two just sat there in front of the fire before she scooted closer and leaned her head on his shoulder.  Gerry wrapped and arm around her waist, resting his cheek against her head.  Kara's face was a  mask of contentment.  There with her favorite person in the world, in the most peaceful place she'd ever been, on a perfect summer's night.

Gerry sniffed out a laugh.  Kara's eyes turned up to him.  "What?"  She asked.

"That song's gonna be in my head for a week."  He said with a chuckle.

"Oh, is it?"  She asked mischievously, sitting up and taking the guitar again.  

Gerry looked at her with a concerned expression.  "Oh no."

"Gerry...have you not heard?"

"No!  No, don't!"

She started playing erratically.  "AH B-B-BIRD BIRD BIRD!  THE BIRD IS THE WORD!  HAVE YOU HEARD?  ABOUT THE BIRD?  WELL EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT THE BIRD IS WORD!  AH B-B-BIRD BIRD BIRD!"

Gerry lifted his fists to the sky dramatically.  "NOOOOOOOO!"

9
Life on the Other Side / Re: Chapter 1: Life On The Other Side (18+)
« on: June 15, 2016, 12:04:54 PM »
Kara stood in the back room of the bar when Gerry walked in, she was putting a tap on one of the kegs.  The pair of them froze when they saw each other.  He stared at her with those beautiful blue eyes of his in silence.  Say something, the thought.  Just...say anything.  But he didn't.  He looked like he wanted to, but the words just didn't leave his lips.  Those eyes lowered from her and he moved out to the front.

Kara swallowed hard and nodded.  Was this how it was going to be from now on?  Just the two of them avoiding each other?  Working around each other.  She couldn't handle that.  She would have to figure something out.  Maybe he'd do her a solid and quit.  She doubted she could bring herself to fire him.  She wanted that even less.

Kara finished with the kegs and walked to the fridge to grab her lunch.  A salami sandwich and a small bag of chips.  Not the most inspiring of lunches.  She sat there in silence, dreading going out there and spending the evening with that cloud hanging over them.  Having to count on each other to make it through another busy night.  He darkened that doorway again, tall, strong, handsome.  But she only spared him a glance before turning her attention to her food.  

She barely registered that he stepped over to her until he sat beside her.  Her body went stiff, a mouth full of her sandwich as her eyes turned to him.  He was unwrapping a double cheeseburger quietly, his gaze steadfastly NOT on her.  Kara chewed slowly again and noticed that he slid a bottle of beer over to her.

Again, she stopped, staring at the bottle for a moment.  Those smokey blue eyes turning to him watching him take a bag of fries from his bag.  

Gerry was keeping himself busy, pouring half onto the bag from his burger before setting the rest next to her lunch.  He glanced over just slightly.  

Kara reached into her bag of chips, grabbing a handful and dropped them onto his wrapper.

One corner of his mouth upturned.  Glancing her way to find her doing the same.  Kara picked up her beer and brought it to her lips, stopping before she held it out to him.  Gerry breathed out a little laugh and clinked his own bottle to her's.

They each took a drink, their smiles widening.  

At the same time, they turned to each other, speaking in unison.  

"I'm sorry."

10
Life on the Other Side / Re: Chapter 1: Life On The Other Side (18+)
« on: June 13, 2016, 10:51:32 AM »
Kara leaned in front of the mirror, finishing up her make-up.  The whole day she'd been getting guilt pangs, but the more she thought about it, the less it bothered her.  After all, Gerry had made it pretty clear that nothing was going to happen between them.  She was single, and a devastatingly handsome man WANTED to take her out.  She looked at her reflection in the mirror and smiled, finally satisfied, when the knock came at the door.  One last check of her lipstick before she hustled over to the door.

Danny stood on the other end, a white collared shirt open three buttons down with a navy blue pinstripe blazer on top.  His chiseled jaw shaved smooth and graced with a grin as he looked her over.  "Wow."  He said simply.

Kara blushed, red spreading over her sun-kissed skin.  She wore a sleek black dress that hugged her curves, a short, black cardigan covering her arms and shoulders.  A necklace decorated her long slender neck.  A smile crossed her lips as she stepped aside.  "Right back at you."  

Danny stepped in the two sharing a brief embrace, his lips pressing to her cheek.    "How's it going?"  He asked her, stepping inside.

She stepped aside and let him come in.  "Good!  Great to have a night off for a change."

"Aren't you the boss?"  He asked her with a chuckle.

"Yeah, dude, but I leave that place in anyone else's hands for too long and that bitch'll burn to the ground."  She said playfully.

Danny laughed and looked around.  "Your place...it's..."

"It's a ****hole."  Kara deadpanned.

"What?" Danny chuckled.

"You and Gerry both.  Total bull-**** artists."  She shook her head with a faux accusatory look thrown at him.  "I dunno, I'm thinking about getting a nicer place.  I mean...I've got the money, it's just..."

Danny watched her, having a feeling he knew exactly what she was waiting for.  He decided to throw her a bone and change the subject.  "Well, what do you say we get going?"  
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Gerry stood at the bar, hard at work.  A lot of the concert crowd had spilled over into the bar.  Tonight he was working the Shane.  And...how to describe Shane?  Every happy, dumb, douchebag coworker you've ever had.  Gerry was slinging drinks while he flirted with anything with two legs and a pair of breasts.  Gerry was in the weeds, a particularly redneck-y guy whistling for his attention.

"Yeah, I'll be-" Gerry started.

"YO!  Let's go!" the Redneck shouted.

"I'LL BE RIGHT THERE!  SETTLE THE **** DOWN!"  

Tonight was already bad enough, but these people and his "help" tonight were just exacerbating everything.    He finished with the customer in front of him, a dozen more demanding his attention.  Where the hell was Shane?  

Oh.  Right.  The dopey blonde kid with the surfer boy good looks and hair in front of his face was chatting up some redhead.  "Shane!"  Gerry called out.  

No response.

"SHANE!" He tried again.  

Nothing.

"HEY *** HOLE!"  He called again.  That one got his attention.  Shane turned to him and opened his arms as if to say "what the hell?"  Gerry gestured to the customers.  "Play hide the needle on your own time!  Let's go!"

Shane reluctantly moved on to do his job.  Yep.  This was going to be an awful night.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Kara sat in Danny's rented black Chrysler 300.  She leaned back in the seat, watching the streetlights pass in the window as Danny talked.  "So, there I am, 40 meters over a raging river and they've got me all...strung up for the jump.  Heart is POUNDING in my chest.  I'd never done anything like it in my life, right?"

She turned to him with a smile, listening.

"I'm thinking 'something horrible's gonna go wrong' and I'll end up that dumb tourist who got killed bungee jumping on his first try."  He smirked.

"How'd you do it?"  She asked with a shake of her head.

"I just let go.  All my worries, all my hold-ups.   I decided that I didn't want to waste anymore opportunities to experience something great.  If I'm going to have any kind of life worth living...I have to actually live it."  

That made Kara smile.  It was a damn good motto.

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

Two wannabe cowboys decided tonight was GREAT night to start brawling.  One flat out coldcocked the other.  Gerry rolled his eyes and let out a disgusted sound.  "Shane!"

Once again, his back up was indisposed.  Gerry grit his teeth and moved around the bar quickly.  The two burly cowboys grappled each other.  Gerry grabbed the nearest from behind and caught an elbow to the face for the effort.  He could taste the blood in his mouth as he stumbled backwards.  When he realized who he'd hit, the cowboy immediately tried to apologize.   Unfortunately, Shane saw the action and vaulted over the bar, knocking bottles and glasses to ground.  He plowed into the cowboy, tackling him to the ground.  


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

Danny and Kara sat at the table of a VERY classy restaurant.  Her fork scooping up another bite of lobster tail as they talked.  "I dunno.  I love the bar, and it's not like I'm qualified to do anything else."  She said with a shrug.

"Did you ever get to try college?"  Danny asked her.

"Community college."  She said. "When I got clean, I went and tried a few classes.  Wasn't really for me."

Danny nodded, chewing on the immaculately prepared ribeye they'd brought him.  "I can understand that."  He said.  "You ever think about getting out even for a vacation?  See some of the world?"

Kara considered it a moment.  "I always wanted to, but...man...that ****'s expensive."

Danny chuckled "So I've heard."

"Oh, right.  Mister 'my job pays for me to see awesome things' over here."  She said with a grin.  "What about you? Ever think of settling down."

Danny flashed that smile again, those green eyes alight.  "No.  Haven't met the right girl yet."

"Ow."  she said, feigning offense.

He laughed.  "Let's get through the first date before I go deciding if I'm going to toss my life out the window and have a dozen gorgeous babies with you."  

Kara recoiled, a wide-eyed stare at him.  "A *dozen*?!  Good lord man.  Keep that thing away from my womb."

The pair laughed as the waiter came and refilled Kara's champagne glass.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Gerry was talking to a cop, his lip swollen.  Most of the bar having cleared out after the fight.  He'd had to pull Shane off the cowboy, but by that time, he'd already thrown punches.

"Look, Officer...it was a stupid mistake.  I tried to break up a fight and the guy though he was getting jumped.  Shane saw him hit me and got the wrong idea."  Gerry tried to explain.

"Well, you know that guy wants to press charges."  he told Gerry.

"What?  On US?"  Gerry asked incredulously.

"It happened in your establishment, involving one of your employees, so yeah."  The officer nodded, finishing his write up.  He looked up to the exhausted, frustrated Gerry.  "We'll be contacting your employer in the next few days as we work this out.  In the meantime, I suggest you control your employees.   Have a good evening."  He handed Gerry a citation and took off.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`
Danny was laughing as Kara continued a story.  "So, then Gerry gets on-stage and he just BELTS out 'What A Wonderful World' to this crowd.  And, like...FULL ON Louis Armstrong, gravelly voice and everything.  Amazing." She said.  "And there's this old black guy who just leans out behind me, hearing this giant white dude rumbling away at the microphone and he just goes 'Daaaaaamn....cracka got some pipes!'"  

The two of them busted up laughing.  The date has been much more fun than Kara anticipated.  But it didn't escape Danny's notice that her stories were all about Gerry.  The last 4 she told were about him.  He smiled across the table to her, reading her face a moment.

"So...on a scale of 1-10...how in love with him are you?"  He asked her with a knowing grin.

"What?"  She asked.

"I'm not blind, Kara."  He said with absolutely no malice in his voice.  He just smiled.  "You only talk about him, and when you do...you light up in the most beautiful way."  He said.

"I'm sorry...I shouldn't be talking about-"

Danny held up a hand.  "I don't mind.  I mean...I had my suspicions when we were all together...but I wanted to be sure."  Those green eyes watched her as she moved her dessert around with a fork, not making eye contact.  "So...how long?"

Kara sighed, taking a deep breath and thinking.  "Um...10?"

"10 years?"  He asked with a quirked brow.  He knew full well Gerry hadn't been back that long.

"No.  Since we were 10."  She said bluntly.  "I never gave up hope that some day he'd come through that door again and make everything okay."

Danny frowned watching her.

"And then he does and, good news!  He's married!"  She said, her expression souring.  "It was like a kick to the face.  I'd waited for him for...19 years.  And I get him back, and all he can think of is getting away from me again."

Danny leaned back in his chair, sympathetic eyes staying on her.  "That must have hurt."

"It killed me."  She confirmed to him.  "And I'll admit...I lost my head.  I did something stupid.  I threw myself at a married man.  Tried to get him to leave her then and there.  To give up and stay with me."  Kara sighed.  "I regret that.  It was low, it was wrong, and I wish I could take it back."

Danny nodded, neither condoning nor condemning.  He lowered his eyes, thinking.  "Why isn't he trying to leave this time?"

"He can't go back."  She said.  "Don't ask me why, because I', not even sure I understand it.  He can't go back to her and she sure as hell isn't looking for him, so...I'm hoping he comes around."  Her face scrunched up and she sighed, annoyed. "You know, a guy willing to honor his marriage even in the face of it being OVER should be a good thing...but it's just frustrating as hell to me."  She chuckled.  "Maybe there's something wrong with me."

Danny snickered.  "That's got to be frustrating."

She shook her head.  "You have no idea."

Danny reached across the table and took her hand gently, giving her a squeeze.  "If you ask me...you two are perfect together.  And if it's meant to be...it *will* be.  I think he'll come around."  He smiled.  "If he doesn't, he's a fool."

Kara couldn't stop the grin that came to her face.  She just laughed.  "God...some day, you are going to make some woman feel like a ****ing queen.  I just hope she appreciates it."

Danny grinned, it was his turn to blush.  "What do you say we get you home?"

Kara nodded, looking at him affectionately.  "Thank you for this, Danny."

"Anytime, Aimsley."

11
Life on the Other Side / Re: Chapter 1: Life On The Other Side (18+)
« on: June 02, 2016, 05:20:36 PM »
Kara agreed to meet Danny for lunch the next day.  Gerry was helping his parents with bring in a new bed, so he had to pass.  The two of them walked down the street, leaving a Chipotle, burritos in each of their hands as they ambled along.  

"So, what have you been up to?"  Danny asked, a grey t-shirt clinging to his long, toned torso.  

Kara glanced over, chewing on her food.  "Mm!"  she started, chuckling as she swallowed.  "Well, I got taller.  Grew myself some boobs..."

An amused grin on his face he nodded.  "Yes, I would hope so."  He took a bite, and waited until he'd finished chewing.  "When did you take over the bar?"

She thought back a moment.  "Well...let's see..."  she said, her eyes squinting.  "I started working for McAvoy back in...09?  Just working part time, slinging drinks."

"Driving all the lads crazy?"  Danny said with that charming little grin.  Kara blushed a bit and tried to hide it by taking another big bite.

"So..." she continued, "Around 2010, he got really sick, so I took over most of his workload.  When he passed in 2012, he left the place to me.  Been running it ever since."

"Good for you."  He said sincerely.  "I always knew you'd do well."

Kara smiled, a little self-satisfied grin for herself.  She WAS doing well, thank you.  She glanced to him.  "So...other than living like a Indiana Jones, how's life?"

Green yes glanced upward as his cheeks puffed out, a sigh leaving him.  "Um...Good."  he smiled.  "It's all rather exciting, you know?  I've been all over, seen and done some amazing things, met a whole lot of interesting people."  He nodded.  "I had a drink or two with a 98 year old man in Cape Town.  Amazing fellow.  He talked about all the things he'd seen and this...unbelievable life he'd lead.  Running from Nazis, joining an underground resistance movement.  Ended up becoming a contractor out in the middle east, digging irrigation ditches...just...phenomenal ."  

Kara started giggling as she chewed her food and listened.  Danny grinned to her.  "What?"

"It's just...it's so weird hearing you use words like 'Phenomenal' now.  No WAY could you have even attempted to pronounce that word when we were kids."

Danny chuckled and nodded.  "I suppose not.  Yes, it took quite a bit of work getting to where I am."

She appraised him.  "Good for you.  That's awesome.  You look great, too."

"High praise from a Goddess.  I thank you."  

Her brows raised and her skin turned bright red.  How did he do that and NOT make it sound cheesy?  Was it the accent, she wondered?  "So...Um..."  She cleared her throat.  "What's the story?  Wife, kids?"

He balled up the tinfoil of his food and tossed it in a trashcan.  "Sadly, no.  I'm never in one place very long.  Doesn't leave a lot of time for romance, I'm afraid."

Kara nodded and finished off her lunch, disposing of its wrapper.  

"What about you?  How long have you and Gerry been together?"

Kara snorted and almost choked on her food, launching into a coughing fit before she busted out laughing.

"I've said something funny?"  He said with an amused smirk on his face.

"Yeah...Gerry and me...that's...it's just not."  She said.

Danny tilted his head quizzically, "No?  I thought I saw something...there."  

"It's....a long story."  Kara tried to brush it off.

"Short version, then?"  He said.

"He's...technically married and has a daughter."  Kara answered.  That WAS indeed the short version.

"Oh?  And when might I meet her?"  Danny said excitedly.

"His wife?  You...probably won't?" she said scratching at the side of her nose.

He quirked a brow at her.  "This IS a complicated tale, isn't it?"

Kara let out a weary laugh.  "Brother, you don't know the half of it."

12
Kara stepped up on the makeshift stage in the bar, tapping the microphone.  A packed house stood before her, a band setting up behind.  "Test...test....you guys hear me?"  She asked, her voice amplified over the crowd.  They responded with wild cheering.

"Alright!  Ladies and Gents, welcome to McAvoy's!  I want thank you all for comin' out and plunking your hard earned money on my cheap watered down beer!  Woo!"  The crowd cheered at that, raising their bottles along with Kara.   She beamed over the gathering, a big smile on her face.

" Now, I'm sure most of you know this, but tonight is a special night here.  Tonight we welcome back a fan favorite to McAvoy's Pub...Ladies.  Gentlemen.  Mostly Ladies.  Please, give a warm welcome back...to our bartender and my best friend...Gerry Finnegan!"  Kara gestured to him as he stood behind the bar offering an awkward, embarrassed wave as the crowd went wild.  He, of course realized that they would have cheered if they showed them a rusty shovel at the point, but the thought counted,right?  "It's his first night back slinging drinks, so tip well, tip often, but most importantly, have a great time!"

She introduced the band and stepped off-stage, moving over to her tall friend, wrapping her arms around his shoulders and kissing his cheek.  Gerry was pouring a drink but grinned over to her.  "Welcome back, Go."  She said, kissing his cheek again.  

It was a busy night, and the pair of them were running around like chickens with their heads cut off.  Several people talked to Gerry and congratulated him.  People she was certain he didn't even know.  Lots of them women.

That, she was not too happy about.  Gerry was pouring a shot for a girl named Gwynnifer...this blonde 22 year old with a tramp stamp that had a bit of a...loose reputation.  And her name was Gwynnifer.  Who the hell names their kid Gwynnifer...  ****ing obnoxious name.  Kara side eyed the living hell out of her popping the cap off a bottle before handing it over with a smile.  

"So, like...what do you bench?"  Gwynnifer said in flirtatious tone.

Gerry considered that a moment.  "It's been a few weeks, but, uh...last time I was....uh...was at the...the...****."  He shut his eyes and then popped them open.  "The gym I was hitting around 230, 240?"

The girl leaned forward on her elbows, her arms pushing together her cleavage as she looked him over.  "Mmm...it shows."

"Oh, thanks!"  He said sincerely.

"Thank you.  Those arms are just...wow."  She said with a grin, really laying it on thick.

Kara rolled her eyes.  She wanted to go over and slap the **** out of precious little Gwynnifer.  Instead she just cupped her hands.  "Hey, Ger bear!  Gimme a hand over here!"

Gerry glanced over to Kara.  He smiled to Gwynnifer.  "Excuse me."

He made his way over to Kara who just discretely stepped over to the cash register with him.  "Dude...fair warning...LOADED with HPV."

Gerry chucked.  "What?"

"Your girlfriend over there.  She's basically just a walking crabs infestation."  Kara glanced up at him, raising her brows.

"In that case I'll c-cancel the w-wedding."  

Kara smirked and finished ringing up her customer.  "Yeah, yuk it up.  We'll see how hard your laughing when your swimming in gonorrhea."

The night wore on and eventually the bar cleared out.  Kara was paying the band and wishing them a good night while Gerry was counting down the register.  She waved to them as she was shutting the door.  "Night guys!  Thanks again!"

She shut the door and locked it, turning to Gerry and letting out a loud exhausted sigh, slumping against the door.  A smile crept onto her face.  She quickly went to the back of the bar, carefully hugging him from behind and peering around him.  "How'd we do?"  She asked.

Gerry glanced back at her, feigning annoyance.  "Now I gotta s....start over."  He said, making a show of rolling his eyes.  With a smirk, he laid down the huge pile of cash and the credit card machine settlement.  

Kara's eyes widened.  "Wow."  She said simply.  "I'll have to beat the crap out of you and bring you back once a month if this is the kind of night we get out of it..."

Gerry chuckled and nudged her with his elbow.  Kara laughed and gave him a playful shove as he moved past her.  She watched him walk away, her smile fading slightly.

13
Kara stepped out of the bathroom and into the living room of Gerry and Ginny's apartment.  She reached behind her, pulling her hair back into a pony tail.  Gerry was sitting there with Nasya in his arms, the little girl waving her arms around.  He hadn't noticed Kara yet and just smiled down at his daughter, humming a little song to her, those bright blue eyes staring up at him and smile on the little girl's face.  Gerry tapped her little button nose lightly, making a pop sound to Nasya's delight.  

He gasped suddenly and Nasya froze in anticipation.  "Ahhhhhh...boop!"  He tapped her nose again, drawing a giggle out of the little one.  Gerry chuckled with her.  "You better watch it.  You better watch that nose..."

Kara just leaned against the wall and watched him.  When they had met up again, she never, in a million years thought she'd see this side of him.  He was so good with her, so loving.  And damn he was proud of that kid.  Looking back, she couldn't think why she DIDN'T think him capable of.  Even when they were kids, he'd been so gentle and caring.  Always taken care of her.  A smile crossed her face before she approached, leaning against the back of the couch on her elbows.

Gerry glanced back at her with a grin.  Kara tickled the baby's tummy "I'mma get this lil' belly!"  Nasya squealed and giggled.  

Kara turned to Gerry.  "Can I hold her?"  She asked him hopefully.  

Gerry's grin faded slightly.  He hesitated a moment.  "Yeah  Yeah, of course."  He carefully transferred her into Kara's arms.

Kara noted that hesitation.  She knew where it had come from, too.  She might have been around most of this kid's short life, but she was not Keirra.  Carefully, she picked her up.  "Aww...there's a little angel."

She glanced to Gerry, rocking Nasya in her arms.  "Bet you missed this little one."

"More than...more than you can im....imagine."  he managed with only a moment's frustration with himself.  

A small grin worked it's way onto her face.  "That's so weird."

"What?"  Gerry asked.

"You can recite the entirety of Jack Nicholson's speech in A Few Good Men, but simple sentences are like...super hard."  She explained.

Gerry wasn't quite as amused, she noted.  He just nodded. "Yeah...it's...it's a...um."  He closed his eyes and snapped his fingers.  "Struggle!  Struggle.  Ugh.  ****.  Saying struggle is a struggle."

Kara smiled to him warmly.  "Well, we'll get you back talking like before, Go."

He shot her one of his patented lopsided grins.  "And then...you'll...you'll be b-begging me to...to...to shut up?"

She made a pitying face and chuckled, "Awww-haw-haw....."  She glanced up at him.  "Exactly."

14
Kara had pulled a chair next to Gerry's hospital bed and the two of them sat watching Spaceballs on a laptop she'd brought in.  Gerry had gotten the staff to bring the pair of them a couple bowls of ice cream.  

On-screen, Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet stood wearing a comically over-sized pith helmet version of his mask while his men ran giant Ace combs.  His subordinate, Colonel Sandurz turned to him.  "Sir?"

Dark Helmet turned to him with a megaphone.  "WHAT?!"

Sandurz jumps, startled before continuing.  "Are we being too literal?"

Still speaking into the megaphone, Dark Helmet answered, "No, you fool!  We were told to comb the desert, so we're combing it!"  Sandurz nods reluctantly as Helmet calls to his men...without the use of the megaphone.  "FOUND ANYTHING YET?!"

Two men, both white look up from their giant comb.  "Nothing yet, Sir!"

"How 'bout you?!"

Two other white men look up, "Not a thing, sir!"

The camera pans over to two black troopers using an afro pick.  "What about you guys?!"

One of the men looked up angrily and shouted, "WE AIN'T FOUND s***!"

Gerry winced as the two of them laughed.  Gerry had just finished his ice cream and set his bowl aside.  The wounded father glanced over while Kara was busy, still chuckling.  He reached over with his little plastic spoon and scooped up some of her ice cream.  Kara pulled her bowl away protectively, laughing.  "Nooooo!  Mine!"

"But...but I'm...I'm...hurt!"  he said pleadingly, popping the spoon into his mouth.

"Yeah, duh!  I'm taking advantage of it to GET this free ice cream."

"Knew it."  He grinned to her.

Kara smirked at him and then offered him the bowl.  Gerry held up a hand and shook his head, passing on it.  She kicked her feet back up and went back to watching.

Try as he might, Gerry just wasn't able to remember much from the day of the accident.  It came in flashes here and there, but nothing from the attack.  Kara had laid out the basics for him.  The fight, how Gerry had defended her, the beating.  Part of him was glad he couldn't remember.  If only his memory was the only thing he'd lost.  He turned his eyes to Kara.  "What happened to...to...uh..."  He squeezed his eyes shut.  He could see the name, hear it, but for some reason, it just wouldn't reach his lips.

"Tim?"  She asked with a frown.

"Yeah."  

She set aside her empty bowl and brushed her hair behind her ear.  "He's...here."

Even under his bandages, she could see his brow furrowed.  Her small hand touched his forearm.  "He's in protective custody until the hospital releases him to the cops."

"Then what?"  Gerry asked.

"Then, I'm going to do anything and everything within my power to put his ass away for a long time."  She said.

"Didn't get you in trouble?"  He managed.  

Kara shook her head.  "No.  He was about to murder you.  Plus, it's not like any jury would buy anything he has to say.  He's got a warrant out in Dallas, a record as long as my leg...Basically, they said I could have KILLED him and walked on self defense.  Son of a bitch is lucky I just shot him in the shoulder."

Gerry nodded at that, considering.  "Good.  That's good."  For a long moment, the two of them just watched their movie.  Gerry's mind was elsewhere though.  "You...you don't have to...stay...you know?"

She looked over at him.  "You want me to go?"

"No."  He said firmly.  "No.  But..."

"Gerry.  I'm right where I wanna be."

Kara adjusted herself in her seat and leaned he head against his arm, taking his hand, their fingers intertwining.

15
Kara sat up in the hospital room all night, curled up a chair and staring out the window, just listening to him breathe and the heart monitor beep.  Occasionally, she would glance over just in case.  But still, he remained asleep.  The sun was rising outside the window, Kara's head resting against the glass, her eyelids feeling impossibly heavy now.  

A sudden gasp brought her right back, her head quickly turning to Gerry.  His eyes popped open, a look of confusion settling in.  Kara's heart leapt up into her throat.  She sprung out of her chair and moved to his side. "Oh, my god, Gerry!"  She leaned over him, grabbing his hand.  "Are you okay?"

His face contorted in pain as he took a deep breath in, the pain from his injuries suddenly becoming a reality.  "Oh...jeeeesus...." He winced, gritting his teeth.  He let out a shuddering breath and reached up and touched the bandage at his head, a worried look on his face.   Finally, he spoke in a weak, hoarse voice.   "What...what happened?"

Kara offered a comforting smile.  "You're in the hospital.  You've been here since all night."

He let out a weak little laugh.  "No...um..."  He looked confused a moment.  "No..."  He shut his eyes...trying to find the words he wanted to say.

Kara smiled to him.  "You trying to say 'No ****, Sherlock?'"  She asked him.

A little grin crossed his lips at that and he nodded.  "What happened?"

Kara chewed on her bottom lip a moment before speaking.  "The, uh...the doctors said you had a fracture in your skull.  They said-"

Gerry shut his eyes, frustrated and waved her off.  "No...no..."  He held up his hand.  For a long moment, he tried to form the words he wanted to ask.  "How?"

It slowly dawned on Kara as she stared at him, and it for just a moment, it filled her with terror.  "You...you don't remember what happened?"   She asked him in a quiet voice.

Gerry's head lowered as he tried for a moment.  A frustrated look was followed by shake of his head.

She swallowed her grief hard, and pushed on.  "You saved me."  She said with a sad smile.   "Tim came to hurt us and...and you fought him off.

Confusion covered his face, but he still grinned.  "Didn't...didn't...uh...do so good."

"I might have shot him."  She nodded.

He looked up to her with wide eyes and winced as he breathed out a laugh.  "Didn't....um..."  God, he looked so frustrated with himself.  

"Kill him?  No.  One to the shoulder, in and out.  I wanted to...but no."  She reassured him.   "Listen.  Just rest.  I'm gonna go get the doctor, okay?  You just...you stay here."

Gerry nodded.  "Won't...go far."

She forced a smile for him, and kissed his cheek.  The second the door closed behind her she felt like her breath left her body and just sobbed.  How badly had Tim hurt him?  He couldn't form sentences, he couldn't remember any of the attack...What had he done to Gerry?  She just hugged herself and rocked against the wall, her body shaking as she cried.

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