Title: Walking Rounds

Author: iridescentZEN

Fandom: Melrose Place (old school 1990s version)

Spoils: Season 5

Pairing: Kimberly/Michael

Now that visiting hours were over, the halls of Wilshire Memorial Hospital were hushed. The only noise came from heart monitors beeping, respirators providing artificial breath for those who needed it, nurses shuffling around from room to room all mixed in with the moans of patients in pain.

Doctor Michael Mancini did his rounds walking the quiet halls, floor after floor, with the dead and dying.

There were too many memories in this hospital. Michael was struck with want of a passionate red head who once walked these rounds with him, who often proved to him over and over again that they were very much alive, made of flesh and blood, made real by one another whenever and wherever they could. They both knew time was running short and that one day the only thing left of them would be the echo of their footsteps on the tiled floor, phantoms in their image appearing to over-stressed and exhausted staff, haunting the place that they loved and loved one another.

Kimberly told me that in her heart she was your only wife. Megan told him that, making a slightly annoyed sound at his lack of response. In a way Kimberly would always be his only wife. The one he went back to, time and time again. Crazy or not. Mental institutions, time in jail, car accidents, attempted murder. Nothing kept them away from each other for long. It wasn't as if Michael hadn't loved Jane. He would always love a part of her. Sydney was collateral damage and Megan was just there, getting pretty holier than thou for an ex-hooker with no education, and before Kimberly ... no future. Professing love to the current woman beneath him came far too easily to Michael Mancini, but those words were always without sentiment. Sure, he wanted her to feel good but he didn't want to love her.

No matter how much he shrugged off comments about Kimberly to Megan or his sister, he did miss her. She was the only woman who ever knew him so well. Who loved him so much that she even tried to manipulate her own death to benefit him. Who, when she couldn't share her body with him, hired a prostitute to take care of his needs for her. She told me that we weren't supposed to fall in love. That what we had wasn't a relationship, it was business, Megan informed him. Michael didn't tell Megan that he never really fell out of love with Kimberly. She should know. One of the first things he ever said to her was I love my wife. He didn't tell her that if Kim hadn't pushed him away, if she had been truthful about what was going on with her, that Megan would have been pushed aside like a bad memory, because Kim always was, and always would be the alpha wife, the love of his life.

Even if she never got the chance to know it.

Doctor Kimberly Shaw. Doctor Michael Mancini's equal in every way, and he was such an ass that he couldn't be bothered to go to her funeral and see her laid to rest properly. A doctor's life, he lied to himself, Kimberly would understand. And he would spend sleepless nights trying to forget the look on her face when he brought her to church, and a funeral procession passed by. Tried to forget how she looked in a shoebox of a coffin that always accompanied it.

It made him tense when Megan spoke about Kim as though they were the best of friends for years. Saint Kimberly who was Megan's salvation from a life of whoredom, who had saved the fallen angel by being diagnosed with a brain tumor and essentially giving the life she led away to her. A substitute wife. The beach house that Kim loved so much. Money. Not just in a safe deposit box, but a trip to Las Vegas where he married Megan after skipping out on L.A. and telling Kim to go to Hell.

One more thing Michael did to hurt her.

All the things that Kim loved were signed, sealed and delivered to Megan, and Michael remembered all too clearly with shame that he actually spoke the words, "Megan's my wife now, and I've treated her terribly. But we're still friends ..." when Kimberly found out the cancer was in remission, and pleaded with him not to leave her behind.

Pleas that fell on deaf ears because Michael was already on to the next one regardless of how it happened, and it took Kim dying for him to realize how much he missed her. How much he needed her in his life.

Megan sometimes begged him to share how his and Kimberly's relationship evolved. How it became what it was when she met her. Getting that kind of information was like pulling teeth, because to admit to how he and Kim became an item was to admit that they were born of sin, rising from the ashes of what was left of his and Jane's marriage.

It seemed one marriage in his life dissolved into another anyway. Megan was bright enough to realize that. It was a sick, repeating pattern that she was now a part of. It wasn't as if Megan skipped the sin. And why was it okay for her to commit adultery with him while he and Kim were still married, but when he shared himself with Kim when newly married to Megan - that was wrong? Glass houses, stones.

The ocean waves didn't sound the same to Michael's ears when they broke while he slept beside Megan and Kim slept eternally. The sea was his and Kimberly's. Never Sydney's, never Jane's, never Megan's. The smell of salt in the air only brought up the image of her face, the way she looked so small and vulnerable when she stood on the deck brooding and alone. More than once Michael had walked along the beach, its fine white sand between his toes, and hoped upon hope to see a flash of red-gold hair. Hoped that as miraculously as the first time, Kim was still with him and would come back again to claim what was hers.

And that her being dead was a cruel twist from a vindictive mother who only wanted to keep her away. Keep her safe.

You misrepresented yourself, Kimberly. You know how important having a family is to me. You promised to give me one. And now you're barren. He was the one who wanted the baby so badly, not that he would ever admit it. He wanted to see her glow with pregnancy, to see her stomach swell with proof of their love and he did everything in his power to make it so, but they would never have their baby.

The car accident had robbed Kimberly of that too.

Michael tasted bile when he thought about how easy it had been to just sit and watch her die when he found her after she had taken a bottle of sedatives with a bottle of wine. To escape him. To escape her love for him, and the bondage it held her in. It was so easy not to care because she had become a crazy annoyance and Kim killing herself was a tidy end on what started with bad beginnings. Once upon a time she called him a heartless bastard, and she was right. She knew him much better than anyone else ever had or ever would. So, he hung up the phone on 911, put some music on and hoped she wouldn't take all night. And when she was gone he could be on to the next one. Lie to the next one, marry the next one, and continue the vicious circle until he died.

Sometimes Michael felt weighed down by guilt and by shame. By the feelings that anyone who knew him would swear that he wasn't capable of having. Possibly even his mother. That jolt in his gut that he felt when mail came to the house in Kimberly's name was real. The woman had been through Hell and received no sympathy. Baby, you know I am sorry. Months in a coma and who knew how long it was before she could speak, eat and walk on her own? Yet she came to him despite her mother's best efforts to keep her away from him. Kim was half-healed and walking wounded, back from the dead to give him a second chance.

I missed you! Oh God, I missed you!

A second chance to screw her up far worse than the first time.

It was Michael's fault. His fault for ordering a third bottle of wine, of drinking it almost all on his own. Trying to drown out the hurt in her eyes, and the love that still sparkled in them despite all he had done. Driving, crashing the car because he was absolutely enraptured by the pure bliss on Kim's face as she eyed the engagement ring he gave her, and told him what he wanted to hear, "All right. I'll marry you!"

She never looked that happy before, and never would again.

The night where Michael Mancini only wanted to love her turned into the night that Michael Mancini killed her, because she came back wrong, came back a different Kim.

The on-call room was stifling with its memories. The night he cheated on Kim with Syd was the first night he looked at Kimberly and realized that he was in love. It was while she slept on an old military bed that Michael still slept on when he was on call. The most uncomfortable bed on the planet. That night was the first night he ever told her that he loved her.

And meant it.

Their friendship blossomed in that room. From polite hellos and good-byes, to genuine concern when a fellow doctor was down. It was in shared cafeteria lunches with juice boxes and terrible chicken salad sandwiches. With flirting that seemed to spill over no matter how hard either of them tried not to make a mess.

It was with Kimberly holding his hand, her touch electric as she shared her emotional torment. "I wish I knew how he felt. I'd love to spend the night with him ... just once."

Those famous words that started it all, that lit a fire in him that he couldn't control or extinguish. The words that made Michael Mancini unable to stop thinking about her, unable to control the moral downward spiral that they would push one another into.

Everything about their relationship was right there, in the on-call room.

Everything except Kimberly, because she was dead.

Sometimes she walked his rounds with him; he could feel her by his side, a heavy and warm feeling surrounding him with her tangible presence, haunting him. He never spoke of it to anyone. The last thing he needed was to wake up in the straight jacket ward. Still, the scent of her perfume wafted in the air, tickling his nose with its familiarity, bringing tears to his eyes with sense memory. There was never an affirmation of life, of being real. It wasn't something she was capable of. She didn't speak to him or attempt contact.

Kimberly walked the halls in a different realm, but she was still there by his side waiting for the day that he would join her.

The day that they would walk the halls of Wilshire Memorial together again. All that would be left of them in hushed giggles, happy sighs, moans of pleasure and the echo of their foot steps on the tiled floor as they walked their rounds with the living.