We Do What We Can

Part 10

By: Girl Bard


Disclaimer: No one reads these, but I’ll humor myself. I don’t own LL or ROC, but if I did, I’m sure I’d be off doing more….er…entertaining things rather than writing about some fictional characters by the name of Jaden and Grace. So don’t get all legal on my ass because I’m 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 Houdini’s 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, Houdini’s Box was inspired by Jill Sobule’s equally incredible song "Houdini’s Box." Because I’m a strict believer in following tradition, this story is named after the lovable Sheryl’s Crow haunting song "We Do What We Can."

Feedback: PLEASE! That’s all I need to say. girl_bard@yahoo.com

Dedication: My betas, you rule. My dog rules too. My girlfriend really rules. Life is good.

August 4, 2000

Gritting my teeth against the pain I continue to raise my shoulder slowly up and down, feeling the strain of my fading injury.

"Good." My physical therapist states approvingly, nodding as I continue my exercises. "Three more times." He orders and I nod as I concentrate on lifting my arm holding the dumbbell straight into the air and back down again.

Finished, I uncurl my hand from the weight and stretch my arms above my head, eager to be finished with the therapy. I feel hardly any pain now except when using the weights, which doesn't surprise me because I was never one for weightlifting anyway even before getting shot.

"Great job, Grace. You were very easy to work with and I wish you well." My physical therapist, a nice young man by the name of Dan says before shaking my hand and leaving the room.

I smile broadly at Jaden as I grab my purse. She grins in return and gets up from her chair. "Let's celebrate. We have time before our appointments. Where do you want to go for lunch?"

Thinking for a minute, I decide on Friendly's. "I want ice cream." I explain and she nods in agreement.

"Anything for you. I'm so proud of you for completing your therapy so well." She muses as we leave the hospital for the last time.

"Thanks. I'm just grateful that I'm feeling so healthy. And I'm thankful for Uncle Rick making sure that I had health insurance." I tell her as we head for her Explorer. After I came and visited Jaden, I spoke with my uncle about the hospital bill for my treatment after the whale watching boat sunk. At that time he immediately put me on his health insurance plan for being an employee of the bar, and luckily for me he didn't cancel it before I was shot. There is no way I would have been able to afford my hospital bill and physical therapy.

"Grace?" Jaden calls and I snap back into present day.

"Sorry." I tell her, blushing at being caught off-guard.

"No problem." She answers, her blue eyes twinkling. "I just asked if you planned on getting in the car."

I giggle at myself and climb into the tall Explorer. "Can we do something fun tonight? I mean, after having physical therapy this morning and then both of us seeing head doctors this afternoon, I would like to kind of cut loose later." I explain, knowing that Jaden will feel the same.

"Yeah. I was going to see if you wanted to call Diana and Joe and go out." She agrees, pulling out of the parking lot and heading toward the restaurant.

"Why don't we just stop by the station and see her? We're not that far away, right?" I mention, knowing that the hospital where I have therapy is close to Jaden's station.

"Um, no, I don't think that's a good idea." Jaden says, her voice clipped. "I'd rather just call her." She removes her cell phone from its holder on the dashboard and dials as I look at her quizzically. What in the hell is she being all mysterious about?

"Hey, Diana? It's me. Listen, you and Joe want to go out on the town tonight?" She greets her friend, business-like as usual.

"Oh, okay. Maybe next week. Tell the kid that we hope she feels better." Jaden finishes the conversation and hangs up the phone.

"What's the matter with Kasey?" I ask, hoping she's fine.

Jaden looks at me and wrinkles her nose. "She's got chicken pox. Diana says she's covered with them and they don't want to leave her with a baby sitter."

"Poor thing." I say in sympathy. "I remember when I got them, I was only four or five. It was just awful." I murmur.

"I never had them." Jaden mentions and I raise my eyebrows in surprise.

"Are you serious?" I ask, wondering if she's just kidding around.

"Yep. Every time it was going around my school everyone got it but me. I'm lucky." She says, smiling at me, all traces of her former mysteriousness gone.

"You are lucky. We'll have to take care that you don't get them as an adult. I've heard it's even worse then."

"Don't worry about me." She says, laughing, "I have a great immune system."

"Okay." I tell her in a singsong voice. She just continues to laugh as we drive on.


Over lunch, I am content to gaze into her azure eyes as she offers ideas of what we can do tonight. Lost in the bronzed porcelain of her skin and her full lips I ignore my turkey supermelt.

"You going to eat or just stare at me all day?" She says succinctly as she bites into a french fry.

"Stare at you all day." I tell her. She rolls her eyes in response.

"What do you want to do tonight?" Jaden asks and I answer immediately.

"How about go to that gay bar we went to when I was visiting from Ohio?"

She thinks for a moment, and smiles brightly. "Sounds like a plan. Why didn't you say so before instead of letting me babble on for ten minutes?"

"I like to watch you talk. The way your mouth forms words is really sexy. It makes me think of other uses for that mouth." I answer, grinning at her as I now begin eat my lunch.

Unable to come up with a response, Jaden actually blushes. I giggle at her red face, overjoyed at my ability to do that to her. She makes me blush constantly and yet I've never really been able to get her to do the same.

"Paybacks, baby." I think to myself, completely enjoying this moment.


"Are you sure this is a good idea?" I ask Grace, who looks completely uncomfortable as we sit in Miranda's waiting room. At least we're all alone and there is no one else in here. We have the first appointments of the afternoon after the office closes for lunch and I'm thankful that it's so private.

"Yes, I think this is a good idea." She answers while self-consciously smoothing out the non-existent wrinkles in her cute plaid pants.

I can't believe she talked me into this. I've been seeing Miranda for a while now, and I really think that my therapy is helping. I've become more in touch with my inner self and I can see why I act in certain ways.

Miranda has also really helped me figure out why Grace scares me so much. Well, not that Grace herself scares me, but what she represents to me is scary. By speaking with Miranda and working on my mother issues, I've been able to understand that by committing to Grace I'm scared that I will put myself in a position of vulnerability that I don't believe I can handle. Basically, because my mother left me I have a lot of unresolved fear and hostility that if I love someone again they will leave me too.

I never thought I'd be able to delve that deeply into myself and figure that out. I'm kind of proud and I keep telling Grace how wonderful Miranda is and how much it's helping me.

Grace surprised me by mentioning that she thinks seeing a therapist would help her also. I spoke with Miranda about it and she mentioned that her office housed another therapist, a very experienced woman named Cheryl.

I told Grace and she immediately agreed to go. I don't know why the thought makes me so nervous, probably because I'm scared that Grace will realize how bad I am for her. When I said that to Grace, she laughed because that's how she said she felt about Miranda.

So I guess this can't hurt, and if Cheryl can help Grace like Miranda has helped me, I guess our relationship will only grow stronger. And that's pretty cool.

Today is Grace's first appointment. Miranda just happened to have an opening at this time slot so Grace and I can come together.

The waiting room door opens and a young woman enters. "Hi Pam." She greets the receptionist, and I assume that she just must be a regular patient here. Smiling at us, the young woman lets herself in through the door behind the receptionist desk that Miranda uses.


I glance at Grace who seems to have calmed down some. She looks up at me, her pretty eyes the color of the ocean at sunrise.

"After our appointment, can we stop at the store? I want to make my grandmother's homemade chicken noodle soup for Kasey and take it over. I remember it making me feel better when I had chicken pox."

As always, I'm touched at Grace's giving nature. "Sure." I tell her, smiling as I take her hand to hold in mine.

The door behind the receptionist opens again and the young woman returns followed by Miranda. Miranda smiles at Grace and I as the young woman leans down on Pam's desk and retrieves a chart, glancing over it quickly before pinning her eyes on us.

"Grace?" She asks, and my Gracie immediately stands. "Hi Grace, I'm Cheryl." The woman introduces herself, smiling.

I stand next to Grace. "You're Cheryl?" I ask, dumbfounded.

"Yes, she's Cheryl." Miranda answers and I look at her in confusion.

"You said that she was experienced!" I say to Miranda, who only laughs.

"I am. I swear I'm older than I look." Cheryl interrupts and Grace flushes with embarrassment at my outburst.

"She is." Miranda reaffirms. She introduces herself to Grace as I glance at Cheryl doubtfully before grinning.

"Sorry. I'm just a little protective I guess." I tell Cheryl, offering her my hand. "I'm Jaden."

"I gathered." Cheryl responds, a smile on her attractive face. "Grace, shall we begin?" She says, her voice gentle. Grace looks to me nervously before following Cheryl into her office.

"Come on warrior." Miranda jokes and leads me to her office. I follow properly like a chastised puppy. How was I to know that was Cheryl?


She's really beautiful, her short black hair is cut similarly to mine and her face is delicate, almost fairy-like. She has luminous brown eyes and really looks like Winona Ryder.

Cheryl allows me to stare at her, and self-consciously I look around her small office. I'm relieved to find the place very welcoming, and also pleased to find feminist as well as gay and lesbian rights paraphernalia scattered around the office.

"I'll start by telling you about myself." Cheryl begins and I nod, eager to have her start the conversation.

"I'm thirty-two and I have a masters in psychology. I've been in private practice for two years and have worked as a psychologist at various universities before opening my own practice. I specialize now in working with gay and lesbian patients, which is why Miranda recommended me to work with you. I hope that you will feel comfortable talking with me and I look forward to being able to listen to your needs."

"Thank you." I answer honestly. She seems very genuine and attentive and hopefully she will be able to help me work through some of my issues centered on Aron.

"I guess I'm here to talk about what happened at the end of June." I begin, knowing that once I start speaking it will be easier to continue. Cheryl nods encouragingly and I begin recounting the entire ordeal.

Sighing in relief, I finish my narration and anxiously await Cheryl's response.

"Grace, you've been through a terrible trauma and it's evident that while you have had the support of Jaden and your uncle, you still need to have the support of yourself. That is something that will not just suddenly happen, but instead you need to discover how to be able to support yourself."

I nod in agreement. "I don't really know how."

"I understand. Especially in your case, it's incredibly difficult because you have so many conflicting thoughts. Start by telling me what it felt like to shoot Aron."

I swallow audibly, closing my eyes to answer. "Scary. Powerful. Mostly scary though."

"Why scary?" Cheryl questions, her voice gentle.

"Because I knew if I missed that he would kill Jaden."

"What about you? Did you think what would happen to you?"

I shake my head. "No, all I could think about was protecting Jaden." I purse my lips and continue. "It was a powerful feeling, knowing that I was holding his life in my hand. I didn't know if I was strong enough to pull the trigger."

"But you were." Cheryl reaffirms. "And you did. What did you feel after you found out what happened?"

"Nothing. I felt numb and scared. I thought that it wasn't true and that he would come back to get us. And then when I found out that it was true, I felt numb. I couldn't even feel anything for him and I didn't feel like I killed him."

"Why?" Cheryl asks softly.

"Because it was easier to feel nothing than to realize that I was and still am a murderer." I answer equally as soft.

"I see. So by pushing away your feelings, it's as if you can lead your regular life and act as if it never happened." She responds.

"Yes." I tell her, opening my eyes finally.

She smiles at me sympathetically, her warm brown eyes intelligently surveying my face. "And this is what is holding you back now, right?"

I nod in affirmation. "Exactly. I feel as if I can't move forward until I deal with these feelings."

"You're correct. What we will focus on in our sessions is helping you discuss and be emotionally present with your feelings revolving around Aron. And by feeling what you need to feel, you will then be ready to deal with not only further internal explorations, but be able to feel as if you can move on in your life." Cheryl finishes, smiling at me again.

"Sounds like a plan." I tell her, my stomach rolling with nervousness and anticipation. I'm terrified of actually doing this internal work because I know it will be more draining than any physical therapy could ever be. But in the long run I'm sure that it will be so beneficial and I can't lie and say I'm not excited to finally be able to move forward with my life.

"Do you feel as if I am the right person to help you on this journey?" Cheryl asks and I smile at her in response.



Miranda shows me back into the waiting room and I sit back down, not seeing Grace. I'm assuming she's still in with Cheryl so I look through the various scattered magazines.

I'm about to pick one up when my cell phone vibrates, the faint noise audible to my ears even through my leather satchel. I grab it and from my caller ID I see that it's someone at the station. Assuming it's Diana, I flip it open and answer quietly.


"Jaden, it's Steele." His voice greets me much to my surprise. "You got a minute?"

"Hang on." I tell him, standing up and slinging my bag over my shoulder. I lower the phone and cross to Pam's desk.

"When my friend comes out, can you tell her I'll be waiting for her in the hall?" I ask and the receptionist smiles and agrees.

I let myself out of the waiting room and resume the conversation with Steele.

"What's going on?"

"We've gotten some news, about Aron's buddies." Steele begins and my heart stops beating.

"Okay, what's the news." I ask, scared to hear what he has to say.

"Well, some of it's good, some is bad." He begins. "The good news is that it looks like most of Aron's followers have dispersed and have moved on to other things. The bad news is that there is a small group that have been making it known that they aren't thrilled with the fact that he's dead."

I glance around the hallway, finding it empty before continuing. "Is Grace in danger?"

Steele answers immediately. "I don't think so. I've got a few people on this and we're checking around, trying to get anything we can to bring this group in. I just wanted to keep you informed."

"Thanks. I really appreciate it." I tell him honestly.

"No problem. Just be careful and don't get too comfortable. I don't want anything to happen to either you or Grace." Steele adds genuinely.

"Same goes for you." I answer. "Keep me informed, I'll get backup from this end."

"Sounds good. I have one of my guys watching your place, just to let you know so you don't go crazy if you happen to see him. When are you coming back here anyway?"

"Next week. I'll be in touch before then. Thanks for the heads up on your guy. Is he good?"

"He's the best, he'll take good care of you." Steele responds before hanging up.

I sigh and run my hands through my hair. Shit shit shitty shit shit. I stash my phone away and pace around the hall, feeling cooped up and claustrophobic. Is this ever going to end? Can Grace and I ever have any peace?

"Hey tall, dark, and crabby. What's the matter?" Grace's voice breaks me from my brooding mood. I look to find her leaning against the wall, her arms crossed in front of her. She looks simply adorable in her pants and white top and I gently kiss her soft lips.

"Nothing. Let's get out of here." I tell her, grabbing her hand and practically dragging her down the hall.

"Seriously, Jaden, tell me. You've been acting strange since I mentioned dropping by the station and now you're all upset again. Please don't keep things from me." She says, dragging her heels and forcing me to stop halfway down the hall.

I sigh and glance down at her, unable to keep anything from her anymore. "Steele just called to tell me that it looks like a few of Aron's losers are making waves about his death."

Her reaction is unreadable. She looks at me thoughtfully before biting her bottom lip. "What should we do?" Grace asks, her blonde eyebrows furrowed in concentration.

"Harry's got one of his guys keeping an eye on things and he's checking things out himself. That's all we can do right now." I tell her, my tone soft.

"Okay. We'll just be careful. But I'm not going to live my life creeping around and terrified that we're being targeted. Life is too short, Jaden." Grace states and I take her hands in mine.

"I know. So let's make the best of it." I respond and she smiles gently as we walk down the hall hand in hand.

"Why can't I go in?" I plead like a child and Grace practically growls at me.

"I don't want you to get contaminated! If you get sick you'll really regret it Jaden!" Grace admonishes me. In response I fold my arms over my chest and stick out my lower lip.

"Please? They are my friends too. I won't see Kasey, I'll just say hello to Joe and Diana." I plead.

"Jaden, no way. Even if you don't see Kasey, their house still has her chicken pox germs flying all over it. I'm not even going in. I'm going to knock on the door, say a quick hello and drop off the soup. It will take five minutes." She argues, her cute blonde face scrunched up as she pleads her case.

"I won't get sick. I just want to say hello." I argue and she throws up her hands in defense.

"Fine. But if you get chicken pox, don't come crying to me." She says before sighing and getting out of the car.

Reveling in my victory, I grin and follow her up to the house. We ring the bell and Grace takes the crock of soup from my arms as the door opens.

"Jaden!" Kasey screeches, throwing herself into my arms. Instinctively I catch her, unable to stop her assault of hugs as I hurry to put her down. Grace puts the soup down on the stoop and takes the child from my arms as I back away down the driveway.

"Kasey!" Diana calls from behind the door, emerging to look at me curiously. She sees a polka-dotted Kasey resting happily in Grace's arms, a worried Grace, and myself backing slowly away from the two of them, my arms extended and fingers crossed in front of me as if I'm trying to ward off a vampire.

"What is going on? Why are you out of bed young lady? Grace, what are you doing here? Jaden, what in the hell are you doing?" Diana demands, looking completely frazzled.

"Sorry Mama." Kasey states, wriggling out of Grace's arms and running back in the house.

"We brought over some soup for you, I thought it would make Kasey feel better." Grace explains, picking up the crock of soup and handing it to Diana. "Although it seems as if she's fine."

Diana shakes her head. "I don't know where she gets her energy. Most kids would be in bed for days with chicken pox. From the time that I got home she's been racing around the house like a madwoman."

Grace nods in sympathy. "I'm sorry we bothered you."

Laughing in response, Diana takes the soup from Grace and hugs her. "You're never a bother. I'm just sorry that the kid assaulted the both of you!"

"It doesn't bother me, but Jaden wouldn't listen to me and stay in the car. Do you know she's never had chicken pox?" Grace tattles on me to Diana, who looks at me disapprovingly.

"Jaden! You better not get sick!" Diana scolds and I approach the both of them.

"You are both worrywarts. I'll be fine." I tell them.

"Sure." They answer in unison, looking at each other in disbelief.

"You two really do have a conspiracy against me, don't you?" I ask, half joking.

"Yes." They answer again in unison, laughing between themselves.

I look at them warily before waving goodbye and heading for the car. Grace bids farewell to Diana and follows me.

As we pull away Grace puts her hand on my forehead. "You feel kind of warm." She says and I look at her with surprise.

"Do not." I argue, feeling completely fine.

"Do so." She answers back.

"Grace!" I say, my voice whiny. "I do not!"

"You don't. I was just kidding with you." She responds, smiling. "So, you ready to go out and paint the town red tonight?" Grace asks eagerly and I grin in return.

"Yeah. This is going to be fun." I respond, taking her hand in mine.

Part 11: Coming soon! Stay tuned and please email me with feedback!!!

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