7) Kim and Gaius
Ana has been forced to accept the fact that she is pregnant… or that she has magically developed a serious problem with her weight. However these past few months have been an emotional roller coaster for Kim as well, not that she would allow anyone to realize it. With the confirmation of her brother’s death, constantly deflecting Ana’s attempts at apologizing for events beyond her control, coping with her new working conditions, and Gaius… Kim had always prided herself on being immune to the stereotypical female short comings such as the butterflies in her stomach whenever she so much as brushes shoulders with Gaius, getting bent out of shape when her male coworkers try to accommodate her in ways that she can manage on her own, and just simply letting all the little things get under her sick and drive her mad.
Today had been a more trying day than usual for Kimball. She’d had a spat earlier with a fellow doctor who had referred a patient to her when the patient asked for a nurse. Guineviva had called her to come by her home earlier because she thought Ana was ill, it turned out she’d just mentally stepped out for a moment and recovered not long after Kim had arrived and began looking for a physiological cause. Now she was in her office packing her things away for the evening and as she locked her cabinets her hands were shaking with the effort to keep her composure. Tybalt had once accused her of being made of ice, she just didn’t want people thinking of her as a flippant emotional woman. She’d never planned on driving people away as she often does.
“Excuse me Dr. Nightingale,” a deep voice said behind her. She turned with forced calmness and saw Gaius standing in the doorway with his hand wrapped in a dish towel. His brown eyes were apologetic, a proud man not wanting to bother anyone with his problem, someone who would have shaken it off if it would have been that easy.
“What have you done to yourself now?” she asked nodding to his hand in her neutral, but slightly mordent tone.
“Ms. Tanner had a slight episode and… well… it’s not recommend that you surprise a person you suspect to be anything less than lucid,” he said in a sad attempt at a joke. Kim sighed and pulled out some disinfectant, stitches, and some mild pain pills.
“How much time has passed since your accident?” she asked, gesturing for him to sit at her desk chair. He sat and she knelt in front of him applying the disinfectant to his wound.
“About ten minutes,” he answered. There was a long gash on the inside of his palm not too deep but it would still require stitches. “You seem tired.”
“Why don’t you get a new job?” she asked ignoring his comment. H blinked, taken off guard once again by her directness.
“I am loyal to my Queen and country. As long as her majesty Queen Gayora commands I be here I will be here. Ana’s really not that bad, when she was in the psychiatric ward she was swapping personalities every few hours, this is her first episode in weeks, she’s improving and really not all that bad once you get to know her…”
“Never mind,” Kim said beginning with the stitches. “Swallow the pills I gave you,” she said authoritatively. He swallowed the pills dry and watched her work.
“You seem tense,” he said looking at her face. “If I have offended you in any way I am deeply sorry.”
“Stop. I’m not offended by you, I’m not tense, and I’m not tired. I’m just sick of hearing Ana’s name. I barely know the girl and yet now everyone’s lives seem to revolve around her mood swings and I’m tired of it.”
“Would you like to talk about it?” he asked tentatively.
“No, just because I am a woman doesn’t mean I want to talk about every single emotion or thought that passes through my mind. I just want to stop hearing her name.” They sat in silence as Kim finished with his hand. “Finished.”
“Impressive work,” he said taking his hand and examining it.
“Do you know a thing or two about medicine?” she asked absently getting off the floor.
“No, but I’ve been stitched up more than once, occupational hazard.” This Kim couldn’t help but smile at in spite of herself. “I’m not sure if it would be appropriate or not and I usually don’t date women, like you when I… do date… not that I date often but… you know your being a doctor and me being in the military, never mind…” he said flushing and getting up to leave.
“I’m dining alone this evening, would you care to join me?” she asked.
“Only if you don’t mind my atrocious table manners,” he said with a smile, he was trying very hard to gain face after his blathering but his foolishness didn’t bother Kim. If anything she found it endearing and her crush that she’s been suppressing wasn’t hindered by it in the least.
“I think I can forgive it. Come by at seven and I’ll be ready for you,” she said with a smile.
Kim felt as if she should be ashamed of herself. She went straight home from work, tidied her house, prepared a food for two hours and was wearing one of the only evening gowns she owned, a birthday present from Tybalt years ago. It was a conservative outfit but without her usual attire she felt naked. How she’d let herself go so crazy over a man she couldn’t understand. She didn’t believe in love at first sight but from the first moment Gaius walked into her home, with his hair combed and his usual uniform replaced by a semi-formal suit she was feeling her usual defenses slipping over the course of the evening. Perhaps not love but certainly foolishness. She couldn’t help herself but being completely enwrapped in everything he said, all the stories he was telling and the charming jokes he’d make. She was alarmed to find herself giggling. Giggling! Of all the ridiculously girlish things she could do!
“It’s getting late, perhaps I should bid you farewell for now, I had a good time tonight,” he said getting to his feet.
“I beg your pardon?” Kim said making Gaius look at her in confusion. “I suppose in the absence of any close male relatives to intimidate and question you I shall do it myself. What are your intentions here sir?”
“Yes, your intentions. I’m an attractive and intelligent woman not much younger than yourself living alone and I have expressed an interest in you by inviting you to dinner you came and ate we enjoyed each other’s company and now you are leaving. It was a classy first date but before you leave tonight I need to know what you are looking for, from me. You thus far haven’t asked anything I wouldn’t extend to a friend and I was under the impression that by date you meant that we were going to establish a less formal relationship.” When she finished she was slightly out of breath and feeling foolish. Kim had dated men from the Unther Cabal before and usually if their first date went well they were already asking for more than a goodbye kiss. They all assumed that Kim had joined the rebellion for some sort of sexual liberation so she usually ended up turning them away. Gaius knows she had a role in the rebellion he had proposed the date first and has now completely thrown her off by politely leaving their date at an appropriate time.
Gaius couldn’t help but laugh.
“What is so funny?”
“Well I thought I was being a respectful gentleman but apparently I’ve much to learn about women in this part of Existence. In the Capital any other would be falling in love with me by now for abstaining from anything vaguely suggestive.”
“Great, so now I’m frigid and spastic.” Kim shouted getting to her feet.
“I never said that!” Gaius said walking closer to her.
“You don’t have to. I’m making a fool of myself, go now please before I start blaming you,” she said covering her face so he couldn’t see her tears.
“Kim I’m sorry if I distress you so… blame me for what?”
“I’m a wreck and up until this year I always would fight with my brother saying he made me a wreck by not respecting me as a professional. Then I blamed Ana for making my life complicated I don’t want to blame you too. I want you to go know before this taints your impression of me.”
“I like you very much Kim. I look forward to seeing you again.” He took one of her hands and kissed it politely. Kim wiped her tears away and watched him as he left trying not to feel humiliated.
“Wait,” she groaned.
“I don’t work tomorrow; meet me in town square by the fountain if you want a second date with a less eccentric end then this one.”
“I’ll see you then.”
I shouldn’t play matchmaker but in this case it didn’t require a lot of work. Gaius actually enjoyed Kimball even when she got angry at hm. He’d grown bored with the sort of women that inhabited the Capital and enjoyed her unique personality. Ana will later in her life phrase it as stupid and sane being attracted to intellectual and eccentric.