Tie Break

By Bonnie

Part 18

For disclaimers see Part 1

Chapter 23

After the teasing banter had relieved the tension somewhat, Anne buried herself in her closet on the pretense of finding some clothes. She took much longer than normal, using the opportunity to regain some control over both her runaway heart and her raging libido. Shana hadn't been the only one affected by the heated kisses and the rawness of emotion behind them.

The tall woman finally settled on a pair of khakis and a blue shirt that brought out the color of her eyes. It also had a zipper instead of buttons, which made getting it closed a lot easier. Dressing was still difficult, however, and she was inordinately proud of herself for managing to do it without Shana's help. Somehow, it seemed very important to do it on her own. Of course, her injured left hand throbbed even more after she had finally gotten her khakis closed.

When she returned from the depths of her walk-in closet she realized that Shana hadn't even noticed her play for time since the smaller woman herself was conspicuously absent from the bedroom.

Anne walked over to the bathroom and peered through the open door to see Shana sitting on the edge of the tub in the exact same spot she herself had been sitting not so long ago. In her hands the small blonde held the small first aid kit that no bathroom in the Patakis households lacked. It wasn't that Anne had ever been accident-prone, but Irene had learned very early on that raising two very active children made having some knowledge in first aid and the constant availability of a medical kit a necessity. That wisdom had made its way even through the thick head of her daughter, who by now also had several kits stashed around her houses and travel gear.

Anne retreated from the bathroom door and sat down on the bed. She was sure that her friend hadn't had a problem finding the kit and so it seemed that the blonde had needed some time to herself as well. It was only a couple of minutes later that Shana emerged from the bathroom and began the task of lovingly caring for Anne's hands.

It was quiet in the bedroom, but not uncomfortably so. The women sat next to each other on Anne's king-size bed, with the morning sun dancing over the sea-green quilt that covered it. Shana had already taken care of the less damaged right hand and was gently applying antiseptic lotion to the swollen and sprained left hand.

"You need to see a doctor, Anne." It was clear to Shana that the hand had taken a lot of damage in the past 24 hours and that it needed far more treatment than she could offer it. "I'm not sure what's wrong with it --"

"It was sprained when I fell yesterday," Anne interrupted quietly.

"Yes, but that was yesterday, and look at that hand." The blonde woman nodded towards the appendage in question. "This is not just sprained. Now, I don't think it's broken, but I wouldn't be surprised if you had torn a ligament while beating the stuffing out of the punching bag."

"Yeah, yeah," Anne mumbled. She hated talking about injuries, but she was intelligent enough to know that her friend had a point. Like most professional athletes, she and Shana had at least a basic knowledge about their bodies and knew when something was wrong. Or in this case, very wrong. "I'm going to talk to Fritz later, okay?"

"How could you do that?" Shana asked around the frog that had squatted in her throat. She felt guilty about making Anne so mad that she had deliberately risked her hand.

"How could I do what?" Anne decided to play innocent.

"You know exactly what I'm talking about … Hurt yourself like that." The blonde's voice was tinged with exasperation. Her eyes were fixed on Anne's hand.

"Shea …" Anne's voice was imploring. "I'm sorry. I knew what you meant. It was just … I was so angry … hurt … that I had this urge to hit something … someone." She lifted her hand and caressed Shana's cheek with swollen knuckles. "Would you rather I had beaten up your--" She couldn't bring herself to say the word.

Shana leaned into the touch. "Oh God, Anne, I'm so sorry, too. No, of course I wouldn't want that. But I don't want you hurt either." She turned her head slightly and placed a small kiss on the hand that still touched her face. "I hurt when you hurt." She swallowed and fell quiet, not knowing how to start explaining about Mishka.

After several seconds of silence, Anne finally decided to pierce the bubble of harmony she felt they had placed themselves in. "So, tell me about your …" she asked in a tone that could almost be described as conversational. She still couldn't say the word and she had a feeling she would never be able to.

"Who is he?" And why do you want to marry him? You should marry me, not him. Jesus, where did that come from? Anne blinked. But she knew that this was indeed what she wanted, had wanted for years. I want to let everyone know how much you mean to me. I can't let you marry someone else. I wouldn't survive seeing that.

And with startling clarity she realized that she would indeed die … at least inside. Her hand fell down to her lap and she hardly noticed the pain.

Shana looked up into blue eyes that were watching her with barely disguised emotions. When did it become so easy to read you? Why couldn't I see these things before? The bright blue before her clearly showed anxiety, fear, and most of all, insecurity. Oh, Anne. What have I done to you?

She lowered her eyes. Unconsciously, she straightened her shoulders and took a deep breath before answering. Okay, here we go.

"Have you heard about Mishka … Mikhail Rostov?" Shana decided that starting with a question might be a good idea. That way it was easier to find out where to begin.

"What does he have to do with this? Of course I heard what happened to him." Everyone had, at least every other gay player on the tour. And even though the young Russian was by no means a successful player yet, the older gay players, both male and female, had watched him in the past year since his debut as a pro. They had looked out for Mishka because he was a nice guy and because he was incredibly naive. When he had taken a trip home after a tournament in Moscow nobody had been around to warn him that making out in a public park was not a good idea in a country where homosexuality was a crime. Only his ability to outrun the police had helped him get away.

He had left the country the next morning, but a few days later the story had hit not only the Russian but also the international media, and Mishka had realized he was in trouble. He didn't have a home anymore. He also didn't have much money since he hadn't really won anything yet and he could barely make ends meet with the constant traveling.

The problem was that homosexuality didn't really qualify as a reason for political asylum.

"He has everything to do with this, Anne." Shana raised a hand and lifted Anne's face with two fingers. "He's my fiancé. He needs my help." She stopped, leaving the taller woman time to work the facts over in her mind.

Anne closed her eyes, relishing in the feelings that were coursing through her. It's all right. Everything is all right. She doesn't love him. Does she? Nah, he's gay, he's in trouble, he needs help, that's all. Hell, I could have come up with the idea myself … had I thought about it. That's okay then. I bet Kevin and Mike are laughing their heads off right now …

She felt a smile growing on her face. Wait! Her mind screamed at her. She can't marry him! She can't. What about us? No. No, can't have that.Uh uh. Need to find another solution. I hope she doesn't love him …

Anne opened her eyes and found Shana quietly watching her. The green eyes were bright and the brunette realized that her friend was waiting for a reaction, hoping for absolution.

Above all, she could see love.

Anne felt her equilibrium return. "You don't love him, do you?" she asked with a smile, already sure of the answer.

"No, I don't," the blonde whispered, her throat constricted by emotion. She knew that this particular confession had been the easy one. One step at a time. She cleared her throat. "Anne," she said, looking directly into unguarded blue eyes, "I can give it to you in writing if you want, so you can look it up should you forget it."

The blue eyes looked at her with confusion. "Look up what? Give me what in writing?"

"Just the following," the blonde smiled, and then she kissed Anne with a tenderness and depth that were born from years of longing and hidden feelings. The kiss was soft and gentle, their lips whispering against each other, touching and retreating, and touching again.

Shana couldn't remember a kiss so sweet and she realized that having let go of one of her burdens made this experience even more enjoyable than the ones before. One part of her wondered if she would survive the sweetness of the kisses when all her secrets had been revealed and hopefully forgiven.

Anne forgot herself in the feeling of Shana's lips on her own, growling when the contact was too brief or too light. She longed to fully lose herself in this woman's touch, wanted to climb under her skin, ached to be devoured by her love.

The tall woman raised her hand behind Shana's head and then let herself fall back onto the bed, pulling the blonde woman above her. The contact between their lips increased and Anne started to nibble on Shana's lips, tenderly and carefully. Her tongue peeked out and followed the contours of the mouth above it, playfully licking the sensitive middle of the upper lip.

Anne groaned in surprise when her tongue was suddenly joined by its counterpart and was soon engaged in a playful duel for dominance, which Anne surrendered easily and with pleasure. She could feel her desire rising to the surface again, could feel her hormones doing a happy dance and shaking the cobwebs away. The residual arousal from their encounter at her bedroom door was too close to the surface to be suppressed now, and the dark-haired woman saw no reason to stop.

"Ouch!" Anne tore her mouth from Shana's, whimpering at the pain in her hand that had just become trapped between their legs. She took a deep, shaky breath, trying to control the pain and her breathing. Shit, that hurt!

Okay, that might be a reason.

Shana looked down at her with a contrite expression, breathing heavily from the fiery kisses. She rolled away from Anne and sat up. "God, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you!" They looked at each other as both realized that Shana was referring to more than a squished hand.

"I know, darling, I know," the brunette reassured her lover, sitting up as well. "But I think it would be a very good idea to wrap that hand now." She raised her hand, which was turning a nice shade of purple. "Look," she said in an attempt at levity, "we've got matching sets now." She pointed at the bruises that were visible under the blonde's slightly askew sweatshirt.

Shana grimaced. "I would really prefer your hands to be safe and sound." Her expression became frustrated. "We can easily work around my bruises, but there's nothing we can do about your hands right now."

"We're going to continue that conversation soon, baby, I promise." Anne felt Shana stiffen at the term of endearment. Ooookay, there's obviously something else going on here. "What's wrong, Shea?" Maybe she just has a problem with pet names. Not that I've noticed anything before, though.

The smaller woman looked away and stared out the window. It's now or never, Shea. Come on, tell her. How bad could it be? The worst she can do is throw you out and never talk to you again. God, I should never ever have to motivate anyone.

She got up from the bed under Anne's watchful gaze and walked over to the window. She needed the distance between them if she wanted to tell Anne about the baby. She knew she should be glad that Anne's hand had prevented them from going any further, because nothing else would have stopped them. And that, she knew, would have been an almost irreparable mistake.

Anne grew more worried with each passing second. What could be wrong? Why doesn't she say anything? "Shea," she began hesitantly, "did I do something wrong? Say something wrong?" She got up from the bed as well. "Please, talk to me, Shea," she pleaded, "you're killing me here."

"Oh, Anne," Shana turned to face Anne, "you've done nothing wrong." The older woman could see the tears streaming down Shana's face.

"Baby, what is it?" Again Shana flinched. Shit, it must be something about that term. But she called me that when I got her out of the car. So that can't be it.

And then the clue hit Anne in the gut with such force that she had to sit down on the bed again. "You're pregnant." Not a question. It was as clear as day now. Another lie, another secret. Anne hugged herself in an effort to stop the cramping in her belly.

Shana rushed over to the bed to hug her, to lightly touch her back, to make the hurt go away. The hurt she had caused. Anne didn't pull away. Instead she looked up at Shana with such a childlike expression of bone-deep hurt that Shana broke out in sobs at the sight.

"Are you?" Anne whispered around the bile in her throat. "Pregnant?"

Shana nodded. "I didn't know how to tell you, but I came here to tell you. You needed to know before we--"

"Before we what?" What can we be now? "Tell me, who do you think 'we' is, Shana? You, me and Mishka? A nice little ménage à trois?" Anne shook her head to get the image out of her mind. "How could you, Shea? He's just a kid."

Shana kneeled down in front of Anne and reached out to touch her friend's biceps. "Anne, please listen to me."

The taller woman looked away and shook off the hands. She got up and paced over to the window. She needed to get out of here. Just out. Just away. Running would be good now. Her hands were out of commission, so running would really help. Maybe I can hit a few balls. Anne quickly walked over to the door and yanked it open.

Or at least that's what she tried, but the door didn't move an inch.

"That stupid idiot. I'm going to kill him!" Her shout became a roar. Kevin. That was the last of your brilliant ideas.

Shana sent a silent 'thank you' to the tall man for having the foresight to lock them in. She knew she just had this one opportunity. She moved towards Anne and in a reversal of their earlier positions pressed the still swearing woman against the door. In a show of pure strength, she pulled down the dark head and silenced Anne with a hard kiss.

The tall woman sagged against the door with closed eyes when they parted. "Anne, listen to me. Mishka is not the father. He's a kid, he's gay, but what's more important is that I am gay." She carefully enunciated each syllable. "And I am in love with you. Nobody else. And I never have been."

She looked at Anne to see a wary expression on the tan face. "How can I believe you, Shana?" She shrugged her shoulders in a gesture of defeat. "The moment I turn around, another lie, another secret raises its ugly head. How am I supposed to believe you?" Her voice broke at the last bit.

"I know things don't look good right now, but believe me, there's an explanation. I love you, Anne, and I want to be with you for the rest of my life. With you and this baby. I want to tell you everything, I will tell you everything. Please, let me explain." Shana's hand wandered to Anne's face again. She couldn't exist without the contact any longer.

Anne let the touch happen while she was at war with herself. She was hurt, more so than she could ever remember being. She felt betrayed. No wonder I was having nightmares. Probably just premonitions. She tried to push her sarcastic side back down. There was something in Shana's eyes that still told her that she should maybe listen to what the smaller woman had to say. And thanks to Kevin she had nowhere else to go at the moment anyway. "Okay," was all she said.

Shana breathed a sigh of relief. That was the important first step. Now she just had to explain … everything. Which was not going to be easy.

"So … who's the lucky guy?" Anne's wry question pulled Shana from her thoughts.

Well, why not start with something difficult. "That's one of the problems." She paused and walked a couple of steps away from her tall friend.

"I'm not sure."

TBC in Part 19

Return to the Academy