We Do What We Can
By: Girl Bard
Disclaimer: No one reads these, but Ill humor myself. I dont own LL or ROC, but if I did, Im sure Id be off doing more .er entertaining things rather than writing about some fictional characters by the name of Jaden and Grace. So dont get all legal on my ass because Im a very poor college student with no money to my name. So anyone trying to sue me will get a lot of art supplies and an ornery Jack Russell Terrier.
Subtext: yes, Yes, YES!! This story starts out with a G rating, but will eventually proceed to NC-17. This means explicit sex between women. If this offends you, why are you reading alternative fan fiction? Huh?
Summary: This is the sequel to the sequel of I Know This Bar. It would really help if you read that story, followed by Houdinis Box. This is the third (but not final) story in the series.
Author's Note: These two lovable characters blossomed into an actual story after driving on a rainy Massachusetts day listening to Ani Difranco's incredible song, "I Know This Bar." Henceforth, Houdinis Box was inspired by Jill Sobules equally incredible song "Houdinis Box." Because Im a strict believer in following tradition, this story is named after the lovable Sheryls Crow haunting song "We Do What We Can."
Feedback: PLEASE! Thats all I need to say. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dedication: My betas, you rule. My dog rules too. My girlfriend really rules. Life is good.
July 1, 2000
I hate funerals. Funny, at a time like this that it is the only thing I can think of. A flood of weeping people who are all strangers surround me, and I feel out of place. Im the stranger here, not the family of the person that died because of me.
I know everyone is blaming me.
Im blaming myself.
The sermon delivers a tribute of happy memories for the departed, but its still somber to my ears. I sit by myself, not feeling comfortable as one of the friends and certainly not part of the family.
Im not sure why Im here.
To say goodbye? Or maybe that Im sorry? To relieve myself from some of my guilt? Maybe.
The minister stops speaking and encourages us to line up to say our last words to the young life that was so quickly taken away.
I stand, anxious to be at the front of the line so I can make a beeline out of here and not have to speak with anyone. I wont have any idea what so say, I dont know them but they must know who I am. How do you look someone in the eye, knowing youre responsible for the death of their child? I cant do that. Ive already done that in my life, with my own family and I can never go through that again.
The line moves forward and I glance to the sobbing family, seeing the majority of them seated as to put off seeing the body for as long as possible. I sigh inwardly, torn about offering condolences and scared out of my fucking mind at their response.
I reach the coffin, and after warring with myself, struggle to look down to the youthful face relaxed framed by soft golden hair, relaxed as if asleep.
Ive seen enough dead bodies in my line of work, but it still doesnt make it easier when its up close and personal.
"Thank you for what youve done." I whisper, as my only offering. "Im sorry." I swallow abruptly and leave the side of the coffin, headed directly for the parking lot. I cant really let myself feel anything. Rationally, I understand that death is a part of life. I keep telling myself that as I head for my car and get in, rubbing my tired eyes before turning on the ignition and pulling out of the funeral home.
I havent slept in three days.
"Hey Sal." I offer weakly to the uniformed cop standing in the hallway.
"Jaden." He returns, smiling as he looks up from his magazine. I tiredly roll my eyes at him as I point to his issue of "People".
He blushes in response. "My wife has got me hooked." He offers, and I chuckle at him.
"Just dont let some creep slip by you while youre ogling over the 50 Most Beautiful People, okay?" I scold lightly and he straightens his shoulders in response.
"No ones getting through." He assures me and I thank him and enter the room.
The constant beep of monitors and machines can barely be heard over the TV. My Grace is so engrossed in her program that she doesnt even hear me enter her room.
My heart races every time that I see her, and I pause to absorb her very presence, worshipping every detail and committing it to my memory.
I was so close to losing her, too close. Arons shot managed to miss her heart by three inches. We are so lucky.
Aron wasnt so lucky. Her shot didnt miss. She killed him with a single shot to the head. A little, tiny, innocent woman who had never even fired a gun managed to do what countless other professionals had been trying to do for years. Stop him from hurting anyone else.
I clear my throat gently, and she turns her head away slowly from the television.
"Hey." She says, smiling softly. "Why are you staring at me?"
My throat constricts as tears suddenly fill my eyes. I cross over to her, embracing her injured body carefully.
"Whats the matter?" She questions, rubbing my back soothingly.
"I love you." I tell her fiercely, letting my emotions spill from me like a sieve.
"I love you too." She answers, her voice thick. "How was it?" Grace asks quietly.
"Sad." I tell her, extracting myself from her grip and taking her small hand in mine. "I wanted to tell his family how sorry I was, but I just couldnt."
"I wish I could have gone." She responds, her pale eyebrows furrowing together. "I feel fine, they just wont let me out of here."
"You need your rest." I admonish her, smiling at her adorable face. I reach a finger to lightly trace the razor-thin cut across her forehead from where she ran through the thorn bush. Its healing nicely and shouldnt scar.
"I know, but he died protecting me." Grace answers, looking down to the bed linens. "I feel so guilty, you know? Like if I had come in the cabin a few minutes earlier I could have saved him." She looks up into my eyes, hers a troubled color of green gray.
"You couldnt have saved him. But you saved yourself. He knew the risks of his job." I tell her, knowing how much shes beating herself up over this.
"I know." She answers softly. "But he was a really good person."
I nod in agreement. I didnt know Ian very well, but he seemed like a genuinely nice guy.
Her eyes tear and she wipes them away angrily with her good hand. "I dont want to talk about this now, okay?"
"Sure." I answer her, trying to think of a way to change the subject. Since the shooting, Grace hasnt wanted to discuss anything, especially killing Aron. Im trying not to push her, shell tell me in her own time. It was like pulling teeth just to have her give her statement to the police after she got out of surgery.
Was that only two days ago? Ill never forget sitting in the waiting room, pacing back and forth until I thought Id go mad.
After Steele and I got the radio call that the Cape Neddick PD had made it to the cabin and found two men dead and one hurt I almost drove my car off of the road until they clarified that two men were dead and one woman was hurt. I made it to the scene at the same time as the ambulance.
Grace was alive. Hurt, but alive. They rushed her to the hospital so fast that I didnt even have time to see her. The police had broken the window and retrieved Bean, who was unharmed but plenty scared. I grabbed her and chased the ambulance the entire way to the hospital.
I was fucking scared out of my mind the entire time, but relieved that at least she was alive.
I dont really remember Joe and Diana coming to the hospital, but they did. Joe took Bean home with him and Diana stayed with me half the night until the surgeon came to tell us that Grace would be fine.
Fine. I still cant believe it. They dont even think shell have any permanent physical damage, though I dont know how its possible. The bullet missed her lung, her heart, and every other vital organ before passing through her shoulder. They werent even sure at first that they would do surgery, but wanted to make sure no remains of the bullet would do any further damage to her muscles down the road.
I sat in ICU for hours after the operation until she woke up. She looked into my eyes and mouthed "Ow" and then smiled at me.
The most magical moment of my life. All of my fears and worries about everything and anything went out the door. There is no one else that I could ever want or need in my life. Just Grace. I want to spend the rest of my life just being with her.
"Jaden?" Grace asks, waving her good arm in front of my face. "You awake?"
I shake the fuzziness out of my head and smile at her. "Yeah, Dixie, Im awake."
She looks at me skeptically. "Are you okay? You look so out of it, and thats the second time youve called me Dixie, whats that about? You said that the other day also and I forgot to ask you about it."
Uncontrollably, I laugh. "You dont remember?"
"Remember what?" She answers, evidentially confused.
"When you came here for a visit and we went to the gay bar you got so drunk that on the way home you were making up words to Dixieland."
"No way." She argues, her smile turning into a blushing giggle. Uh huh. She remembers now. We laugh together, her melodic voice filling my ears.
"Oh shit, ow." Grace suddenly exclaims as her face contorts in pain. "Laughing hurts."
"Sorry." I offer.
"Hey, thats nothing." She answers, smiling as she changes the subject. "Remember when we went with Diana and Joe to The China and you were dancing like a monkey and doing the funky chicken?"
"I did not." I tell her, offended that she would think I could do such a thing.
"Did so. Ask Diana." Grace giggles slightly. "Oh Jaden, it was awful."
I snort in my defense. "You two have a conspiracy against me. I dont believe you."
"Whatever. You just cant handle the fact that you made a fool out of yourself." Grace quips.
I smile at her, running one hand through her short hair. "I do love you."
She smiles at my sudden admission. "Right back at ya, funky chicken."
I roll my eyes and stand up. "You hungry?"
Her eyes light up. "Hell yes."
Wouldnt you know that even a gunshot couldnt combat Graces appetite? "What would you like?"
"Pizza!" She exclaims. "No, no, um, hang on." She mutters, her pink tongue appearing as she concentrates on her carnal desire of the moment. "Chinese!"
"Are you sure?" I ask her skeptically.
"Yes!" She agrees, and proceeds to place her order. I quickly grab a pen and write down her request.
"Okay. Ill go call it in and pick it up. Will you be okay here for awhile?" I ask her, and she smiles gently.
"I think I can manage." She answers and I kiss her gently before leaving. She turns her attention back to the television, and I see that shes watching some special on crab fishing.
Shes so strange. I cant believe how much I adore her.
"Knock knock!" Joes cheerful voice interrupts as we are finishing our lunch. Joe and Diana enter in a flurry of excitement, trailed by a babbling Kasey holding a trembling Bean.
"Hi!" Grace exclaims, and Im not sure who shes more excited to see, the dog or our guests. Bean practically jumps out of Kaseys arms and I catch the little dog and bring her over to Graces side to allow them to say hello.
We all know better than to disturb their greeting. Grace hasnt seen Bean since the accident, but hasnt stopped relentlessly probing me for details on the dog.
"Thank you so much for taking care of her!" Grace coos to Diana and Joe as she hugs her squirming puppy.
"Our pleasure. She loves our dogs and Kasey loves her too." Diana remarks.
Bean licks her mommys face eagerly, her short tail wagging uncontrollably. After their greeting, Bean settles down comfortably at Graces side and lays her head on her lap. I doubt that dogs are supposed to be in here, but few hospital workers would dare question anything that happens in Graces room due to Sals constant presence and my intimidating glare.
"Thanks again guys." Grace tells Joe, Diana, and Kasey. "Come here!" They approach the bed and hug her, Kasey wrapping her short arms around her tightly. Graces face contorts in a slight grimace of pain, and Diana moves to remove Kaseys clinging presence.
"Easy sweetheart, Grace is hurt, remember?" Diana explains to Kasey quietly. Her intelligent eyes ponder over her mothers words briefly before questioning Grace.
"How are you?" Kasey asks matter-of-factly. Grace smiles gently.
"Im fine, thank you for asking."
"Mama said you were shot by a bad man." Kasey adds. "Did the cops catch him?"
Joe and I laugh at Kaseys use of slang. She is too smart for her own good.
Grace isnt sure how to answer and looks to me nervously. I clear my throat and answer for her. "The bad man was punished." I tell Kasey and she nods.
"Good." Kasey decides. "You shouldnt have gotten hurt." She finishes before turning her attention to pet Bean.
Grace shouldnt have gotten hurt. My thoughts exactly. A moment of uncomfortable silence settles over the room.
"So, when are they going to spring you?" Diana asks and I smile at her, grateful for the relief of tension.
"A few more days." Grace says excitedly. "I cant wait to get out of here! Im going stir crazy."
"I had to stay almost a week before Kasey was born in complete bed rest." Diana says, flopping down into a chair next to Graces bed. "It was awful. I just wanted to be at home with my husband and instead I had to be here sharing a room with some idiot."
We all laugh, Dianas blunt personality bringing a refreshing air to the hospital room.
"It was worse for me." Joe adds, despite Dianas shooting glare directed at him. "She was in such a funk that she didnt want me to stay but as soon as Id go home shed call me and beg me to come back."
"Gee, big surprise." I add, knowing Dianas constantly grass is greener mentality. Diana sticks her tongue out at me and I leer at her.
"Promise?" I say to her, smirking. Both she and Grace punch me on opposite arms. "Hey!"
"Not in front of the kid." Diana growls, her eyes twinkling.
"Jerk. I see how you are. Im laid up with a gunshot wound and youre propositioning other women." Grace pouts.
I hold up my hands in mock protest. "Calm down ladies, theres enough of me that you dont need to fight."
They simultaneously roll their eyes while Joe giggles like a schoolgirl. Kasey, who has been fiddling with the remote for the television, has just found the channel with Blues Clues and pulls herself up on the foot of Graces bed to watch.
I turn my attention half-heartedly to the television. "Hey Joe, you look just like that guy!" I exclaim, pointing to the man wearing the green striped shirt who is dancing with the animated dog Blue.
"Goddess, he does!" Grace agrees, her soft blue-green eyes lighting up in surprise.
"His name is Steve." Kasey supplies helpfully. "Hes friends with Blue and Magenta and they play games."
"Does he look like daddy?" Diana asks her daughter, who answers without hesitation.
"Absolutely." Kasey agrees before turning her attention back to the show.
Joes face turns completely red and we all laugh at him uncontrollably. Graces shoulders strain with the effort to not irritate her injury and I notice her eyes watering with pain. I look at her, concerned, but she waves her hand and continues to giggle. Shes such a trooper, Ive seen men with flesh wounds that put up more of a fuss then she does. Im amazed by her strength.
"Hey, Joe, sing we just got a letter, we just got a letter, we just got a letter, wonder who its from?" Diana orders, her entire body convulsing with laughter.
"No!" Joe protests, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Do it!" We all order him and he shakes his head vehemently.
"No way!" He argues in vain, but his protest grows weaker and we know that he is about to give in. "Fine." He states, doing the little dance like the guy from the show and singing the letter song.
Diana falls to the floor with laughter and I collapse in her now-empty chair. Grace buries her face with her pillow and Bean hops around the bed, concerned to what is happening. Kasey looks at us, her irritated glare identical to her mothers as she turns the volume up on the television.
"Hello?" The deep voice questions and we all turn to the doorway. Steele is standing there holding flowers and a "Get Well Soon" balloon with a smile on his handsome face.
"Hey!" I greet him, unable to move from my chair, my body spent from laughing. Joe is still blushing and Diana gracefully gets up from the floor to greet our guest. Grace removes the pillow from her face and Bean hops down from the floor and smells Steeles boots and pants. Steele just stares at us in amazement, unsure as to what he just walked into.
"Steele, these are my friends Joe and Diana, and their daughter Kasey. And most importantly, this is Grace." Steele smiles and shakes Joe and Dianas hands and waves to Kasey. He presents Grace with the bouquet of flowers and the balloon.
"Its an honor to meet all of you." Steele says. "Grace, Im so glad that you are alright. Jaden has told me so much about you." He extends his hand and when Grace takes it, he kisses the back of her palm. She blushes slightly and I cant help but feel a touch of jealously.
"The honor is mine, Steele." Grace responds, and I cant help but feel Im watching a meeting of some world dignitaries, not my Grace and partner. "Thank you for being a good friend to Jaden." Grace adds.
"Please, call me Harold." Steele tells Grace and I burst into laughter once again.
"Your name is Harold?" I exclaim all-too-cheerily, excited to find something to make fun of Steele for.
"Why do you think youve only known me as detective Steele?" He responds, scowling at me.
"Point taken." I tell him, looking at our crowd of friends and smiling.
Grace yawns and stretches carefully. "Wow, Im exhausted." She remarks casually, patting Beans head. Her other hand is clasped in mine as I sit by her bed. Our friends left a few minutes ago, after staying for hours. It was a great time and everyone got along, especially Joe and Harold who, after Joe recovered from his embarrassment when Harold walked in, discovered that they were both video game fans and talked up a storm forever.
"Me too." I tell her, looking at my watch to discover its almost 9pm and knowing Im about to endure my 4th consecutive sleepless night alone.
"You sleeping okay?" Grace asks as if shes reading my thoughts. I pull my hand from hers gently and twist in the chair, popping my back effectively.
"Nah. But thats okay, sleeping is overrated." I tell her, smiling to let her know Im joking. She shakes her head a little and looks at me, concerned.
"I dont like this." She says softly, her eyes a deep green in the dim light.
"Dont like what?" I ask offhandedly, unsure as to what shes going to say.
"Everything thats happened."
"I know." I tell her. I have no idea how to fix this or offer comfort or make it up to her. Im not even sure what she needs right now.
"I just want to be back at your apartment, laying in bed with you, listening to the waves outside. I want Aron to have never existed, my mother to be different, and everything to be okay."
"I know." I offer again, repeating myself. When Grace asked me after she got out of surgery where her family was I had to tell her that when I called and spoke to her mother, the bitch actually had the nerve to say that Grace got what she deserved for coming here without their permission. Fucking bitch. I cant believe someone as good-hearted and kind as Grace was birthed from Debbies evil loins. Grace talked to Lydia for a second just to tell her she was okay and Im not sure who I felt more sorry for, Grace or her scared sister. "Im sorry about everything." I say, my voice trembling.
Grace sighs. "You dont have to be sorry, Jaden. Thats not what Im looking to hear. Im just feeling sorry for myself, thats all." She picks Bean up gently and hands her to me. "Its getting late, you should go home. I need my rest. And you do too." She turns slightly away from me, the bandage on her shoulder visible underneath her t-shirt.
A surge of nausea fills me and I struggle to my feet with Bean in my arms. "Okay. Ill see you in the morning." I tell her as I move away from the bed. "I want to stay Grace, I dont want you to be alone." My voice is more quiet and pleading than ever before.
"I know you do Jaden. But I need some time alone right now, okay? Its been a really long day." Grace responds softly, her voice tinged with sadness. "Ill see you tomorrow."
"I love you." I state, turning my back on her as I walk towards the door. She responds quietly and I turn to give her one last smile as I let myself out. I bid goodnight to Sal as I head for my empty apartment.
Part 2: Coming soon! Stay tuned and please email me with feedback!!!