Stone and Keesha sat on the bridge all night long. He held her close to him as her eyes drifted close and she fell asleep. The soft sound of her breathing blended with the sounds of the night. Crickets chirped and owls hooted. An endless supply of stars filled the sky and Stone memorized each one.
Looking at the heavenly bodies, he began to think about his life. He didn't like living with Sonny. Strange people, mostly men, were in and out of his apartment all day. They spoke in whispers and their eyes never rested. Their mannerisms annoyed Stone and made him suspicious. He didn't want to live there anymore and when morning came, he would leave.
Then there was Robin. She wanted so much from him. Things he couldn't give her and didn't want to try to give her. And it seemed that no matter what he said or did, the expression on her face never changed. She pitied him and he hated that most of all.
A fireball of orange and red peeked through the branches. The sunrise marked the beginning of a new day. Stone greeted it like he did all the others. He simply sat back and watched it.
"Dr. Burgess, may I have a word with you?" Dawn approached Ellen as the Chief Resident reviewed the day's clipboard of patients.
"Sure. Let's go to my office."
Ellen closed the door and pointed at a chair in invitation for Dawn to sit. The young intern sat on the edge, her foot tapping noiselessly on the carpeted floor. Ellen sat on the edge of her desk and faced her. "What is this about?"
"I need some time off," Dawn stated quietly. "Just a few days."
"Okay, do you mind telling me why? Is this a family emergency or something of that nature?"
She shook her head. "It's…I just need some time to figure things out."
"Is this about the Hanson boy?" Ellen questioned. "Doctors lose patients, Dr. Jensen. It happens. Contrary to myth, doctors aren't gods. Some of us like to believe that we are, but that's not true. I thought you understood that."
Dawn's throat felt dry and she swallowed hard to alleviate the discomfort. "I understand, but that doesn't help. I just need a few days. Is it possible?"
"Anything is possible," Ellen said, "and I have a feeling you'd leave whether or not you have my approval. I'll give you week. Should I make a call to Kevin Collins or Gail Baldwin for you? I think you should talk to someone."
Dawn stood. "I'll take a raincheck for now." She extended her hand. "Thank you, Dr. Burgess."
"You're welcome. Don't forget you can call me if you need to talk."
"I know. Thanks."
Dawn left Ellen's office with the feeling that a burden had been lifted from her shoulders. She hadn't been able to sleep at all the night before and she was terrified of seeing patients that morning. Losing the little boy was a frightening eye opener for her and it reminded her of the loss of her brother. Tears threatened to sting her eyes. She blinked them away and walked straight into someone.
"Dawn!" Nikolas said, reaching out to steady her. His eyes searched her face and then narrowed. Cupping her face, he tilted her head to look into her eyes. "You've been crying. What's wrong?"
"I…um… I'm not sure I want to talk about it."
He glanced at his watch. "I have a two hour break before the next set of children come in. Would you like to visit with me for a while? Are you on call?"
"I'm not on call. A visit would be good, I think." Her voice faltered towards the end. Nikolas wrapped his arm around her. She leaned against him and they headed for the elevator to his office/play room.
Frank entered the ER lobby just as Dawn walked into Nikolas. His lips still tingled from their unfortunate the kiss the night before. A quick taste of her did what he feared the most. It left him longing for more and his desire grew. When Nikolas put his arm around her, Frank's hand flexed into a fist. He moved one step toward them.
"Don't, Frank," came Joe's voice of reason. "Leave them alone."
He pulled his gaze away from the couple and met the unwavering glare of his brother's light brown eyes. "You don't know… He's not good enough for her."
"I don't know about that," Joe commented, "but what I do know is that you're getting out of control."
Frank's eyes narrowed. "What has she told you?"
"What have you done?" Joe asked. "Did you do something in addition to giving Nikolas that shiner?"
Heat flooded Frank's cheeks. "I kissed her."
He choked, "Yeah. It happened last night on the roof. I was trying to help and the next thing I know… It shouldn't have happened, Joe, and now, it's all I can think about. What should I do?"
Joe gave his brother a sympathetic pat on the back. "Maybe you give it a go and see what happens-"
"I can't do that," Frank interrupted. "She's just a kid-"
"She's a woman, brother, an attractive woman who's caught the interest of a very eligible bachelor. Don't let your stubbornness cause you to miss out on a good thing."
"Are you sure you want to do that?" Keesha asked. After waking up on the bridge in Stone's arms, Keesha wasn't ready to go back to the condo she shared with her roommates. She found peace in Stone's presence and that was something she desperately needed. For just a few minutes more, she wanted to enjoy it.
Stone lowered his cup of coffee to the empty space on the bench that separated him and Keesha. "I'm sure. I can't stay there anymore, Keesha. I have to leave."
"Where will you go? I'd offer you a place to stay with me, but Robin is there…"
The expression on his face darkened. "No Robin. I'll find someplace else."
"What's going on with you and Robin?" she asked, feeling guilty about how much Stone was beginning to mean to her. "She loves you-"
"I don't care," he interrupted. "She's always there. She wants me to remember how it used to be and I can't. I don't know the Stone she talks about. The pictures she shoes me are photos of a stranger."
"But you and she were planning to be married. You shouldn't expect her to forget that."
"I'm not the man she was planning to marry," he said in a tight voice. "She shouldn't expect it to matter to me. It doesn't matter to me, Keesha." His voice softened and he reached for her hand. "The only thing that matters to me is you."
His words gave her hope in a hopeless situation. She tugged on her hand, trying to pull free. He refused to release her. "This isn't right. We can be friends…"
"That's not enough. It feels right. Crying last night was wrong. Jason is all wrong for you. Robin is all wrong for me."
"You can't say that without giving her a chance, Stone," Keesha told him. "You should give her a chance. You loved her once-"
"I don't love her now. I don't want to be around her or Sonny, and after I move out, I won't be." He leaned forward and placed a long, lingering kiss on her cheek. "Will you come to the bridge again tonight?"
Keesha nodded. It went against her better judgment, but she found the draw to Stone Cates irresistible. She was beginning to feel that she'd be tempted to follow him anywhere.
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Never Carved in Stone (and all original characters) © 1999-2001 niklovr
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