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 2, 2000
"Thanks." I tell the nurse softly as she sets my breakfast tray down and smiles at me. The hospital food has been pretty unappetizing since I've been here, but I'm managing with all the treats Jaden's been spoiling me with.
"This was a special request from your girlfriend." The nurse adds as she magically produces a can of Coke. "She said you couldn't live without it in the morning."
I smile at her, touched by Jaden's thoughtfulness. "Thank you. She's right." The nurse laughs and leaves me to my breakfast.
It's still a strange feeling to have people here be accepting of my lifestyle. While I knew a few people in Ohio who were active in gay and lesbian rights, it seems the majority of people here in Massachusetts don't think twice about the relationship that Jaden and I have. It's really refreshing to not feel like we're going to be stoned for caring about each other.
I poke my runny eggs with my fork. I'm anxious to get out of here. Everyone has been really nice, but I'm going stir crazy and can't wait to actually be able to wear clothes instead of this stupid hospital gown or a t-shirt.
I feel pretty good, physically, that is. My shoulder is really sore, and it's completely affecting my left arm. That stinks because I'm left handed and all I've been able to do so far is look longingly at my journal that Jaden has helpfully left on the nightstand. Just the thought of writing in it hurts, especially because I am so eager to commit my various thoughts and feelings to paper so I can get them the hell out of my head.
I'm a killer. I am a cold-blooded murderer. That is one thing that I never thought I would be able to say about myself. Of course, I have to rationally think it through; I know that if I hadn't shot Aron that he would have killed me, Jaden, and anyone else who stood in his way. It was self-defense in a way, and I thank the Goddess herself that at least I won't have to go on trial for this.
But I've already declared myself guilty, and I honestly think that I will never forgive myself for my actions. How can I?
It hurts to be around Jaden. I feel the guilt she feels for my situation emanating from her very being. It's hypocritical of me to tell her not to feel guilty when I feel guilty myself. When she's around she looks at me with these incredibly sad and guilt-ridden eyes and when combined with my internal guilt it is too much for me right now.
She is the only person I want right now though, and that is what makes it so hard to push her away. My family has abandoned me; well, my mother has abandoned me but she did that so long ago it shouldn't still hurt, but it does. I know that Lydia would be here if she could, but she's still under my mother's control. My father is the unknown. He is too afraid of my mother to rebel her and come here, and even if he could, I don't know if he'd want to. I don't even know if Uncle Rick knows what happened.
Not to sound cliché, but I feel utterly alone. I'm tired of feeling sorry for myself, tired of feeling like I have no where to go, and most of all, I'm tired of wondering where Jaden and I can go from here.
Will she want me around after I get better? Or will she look at me now as a reminder of Aron and just another painful memory?
And what about the things that I want? When I came here I had a vision of going back to college to finish my degree and becoming a writer like I've always wanted. Or is that what I've wanted? I don't know if I even know right now. This entire thing has scared me to my very core and I don't know where to go or who to turn to.
I only have myself.
"Knock, knock." A familiar voice calls from the door and I turn my head away from the television.
"Uncle Rick!" I shriek as I struggle to get out of bed to greet my uncle.
"Hey, don't get up!" He scolds gruffly but smiling at the same time. He crosses to the bed and hugs me fiercely, kissing my cheek before releasing me.
"What are you doing here?" I ask, amazed at his presence. It is so good to see him again.
"Jaden called me when you were surgery. I got here as fast as I could." He answers, taking my hands in his and holding them tight. "How are you? Are you okay? What the hell happened?" He asks; his deep voice filled with concern.
"I'm fine. The doctors don't expect any lasting injuries." I answer, smiling to let him know that I am indeed okay.
"Thank God." He mutters; his brown eyes holding unshed tears.
"I can't believe you're here. Thank you for coming." I tell him, squeezing his hands.
"No place I'd rather be." He says before standing up and inspecting my room. "Looks like an okay place, they treating you okay?"
"Yeah, between Jaden, the armed guard outside and the staff, I have everything I could ever want." I answer.
"Well, I'm going to stay for awhile, until you get back on your feet. That is, if it's okay with you." He questions, his deep eyes not making contact with mine.
"Um, okay." I respond. "Can you leave the bar just like that?"
"Grace, it's my bar. I can do whatever I want." He answers, his lined face smiling. "Besides, I've never seen the East Coast, and I plan on sticking around until you're well enough to play tour guide."
I sigh. "I can't play tour guide, things have been too crazy since I moved here! I've hardly seen anything myself!" I tell him.
He sits down next to my bed once more and grasps my hands again. "Then we'll see it together."
I look through the window of the door to Grace's hospital room. I see her and her uncle playing cards; and hear Grace's gentle laughter as she delightfully beats him at a hand.
"How long has he been in there?" I ask the uniformed cop at the door, a lieutenant on the force named Dave.
He checks his watch. "About two hours." He remarks. "They tried to get me in there to play poker, but I thought that I better not." Dave reports, grinning.
"You thought right." I respond, my voice hard. "I don't know if Aron still has anyone around who might want her hurt."
"I know, I know." Dave answers. "Don't worry."
"I wish I didn't have to." I tell him as I push my way through the door.
"Hi." I greet Grace and Rick. He immediately stands and approaches me, engulfing me in a hug.
"Thanks for taking care of her." He states and I nod at him.
"Thanks for coming." I respond, knowing how much Grace needs him right now.
"Hello?" Grace questions, annoyed to be left out and I bend down to gently kiss her cheek.
"Hey. How are you?" I ask, noticing that she seems to be less sore than last night.
"Fine." She responds. "How are you?" Her green eyes are filled with worry and concern and I smile brightly at her.
"I'm okay. I miss having you at home." I tell her, hoping to convey how much I want her to return after she is released.
"I know." She groans, throwing her good arm over her forehead. "I don't think I'll ever get out of here."
"Have you talked to a doctor?" Rick asks, and Grace and I both nod.
"He said this morning that I might be able to leave tomorrow, but probably not until Tuesday. Happy freaking 4th of July." She mutters dejectedly.
"Well, let's focus on getting you out of here tomorrow, and then we can celebrate and watch fireworks on the 4th." I tell her. "Joe and Diana are having a cookout and I thought we could go over there. They have a big back yard that is a perfect view of the fireworks that the city lets off."
"I hope I can." Grace answers.
"You will." I tell her confidently.
"Um, Jaden, my uncle is thinking of staying around until I'm better." Grace tells me, her voice soft. I know she's trying to assess if I am happy or upset about this news.
"I know. Rick and I spoke about it on the phone a few days ago." I state, knowing she's going to be pissed that I didn't tell her.
She doesn't disappoint.
"What? Why didn't you tell me?" She says, her face flushing.
"I asked her not to." Rick interjects. "I didn't know if I would be able to find someone to run the bar until late last night and I asked Jaden to keep it quiet until I got here."
"Oh. I'm sorry." Grace murmurs, her blue-green apologetic.
"It's okay." I tell her softly. "No harm done."
"I shouldn't have snapped at you." She continues, her eyes welling up with delicate tears. "I'm so edgy lately and I feel as if I can't control any of my thoughts or feelings. I'm all over the place."
"I know sweetheart. You've been through a terrible trauma. Don't be angry at yourself, you need some time to sort through all you've been through." I try to comfort her and she nods and wipes her eyes.
She looks at Rick and I and smiles, changing the subject. "Uncle Rick, where are you going to stay? And where is this puppy that I haven't met yet?" She asks, eager to meet Bean's brother.
Jaden looks at Rick and clears her throat. "Um, actually Grace, I offered him use of the spare bedroom in our apartment."
"Really?" She questions and I know she must be excited to be able to spend time with her uncle.
"Yep." Rick replies, "And I brought the devil dog, you'll meet him when we spring you from here."
"Thank you." Grace tells us gently. "This means so much to me."
Rick doesn't say anything and just smiles at Grace.
"After you're released from here I have a few days of work left to finish up this case." I tell Grace. "I didn't want you to be alone, so it worked out perfectly when Rick planned on staying. And then I have an entire month off that we can spend together." I state eagerly.
Her eyes light up. "Really?"
"Yeah." I answer, smiling at her excitement.
"That's perfect." She remarks quietly.
'I hope it will be.' I think to myself.
July 3, 2000
Okay, I have two Aces, a four, a two, and an eight. Eights are wild, so I have three Aces. I glance at Jaden, seeing her brow furrowed in confusion. She hates to lose, which is unfortunate for her because I'm kicking the crap out of both her and my uncle.
"Give me one." She says, looking at me with a confident smile that tells me at once that she's bluffing. As much as I love her, she's a horrible card player.
"Yes ma'am." My uncle replies, dealing her one card. I throw down my two and my four and take two cards. I'm rewarded with another eight. Four Aces. Heh.
My uncle deals himself three cards and looks at Jaden expectantly as he raises the pot by throwing in three more potato chips.
Ohh, the big bucks now. Jaden glances nervously down to her hand before adding her three chips into the pile.
"I see your three, and raise you ten." I remark casually as I make my bet. My uncle grins and Jaden all but breaks into tears.
My uncle swiftly matches my bet and our attention turns to Jaden again.
"Dammit!" She says, throwing down her cards. "I fold." She crosses her arms and pouts. She's such a baby sometimes.
"Sorry Uncle." I tell him, revealing my glorious hand. He rolls his eyes and shows me his three kings.
"Good playing, Grace." He answers as he scoops up the cards and shuffles for another deal. I chuckle as I take the pile of chips, munching on a few.
"Hey, no fair!" Jaden points out. I throw her a few chips and she sticks her bottom lip out.
"I'm charitable." I tell her. "I always give to the poor."
She sighs and accepts my offering, adding it to her meager pile. "You're a jerk." She remarks and I giggle. My uncle laughs to himself as he deals out the next hand. I scoop up my cards with my good hand, seeing that I've been dealt two kings and three fives.
I burst into laughter, knowing that this time Jaden's going to accuse me of cheating or point the finger at my uncle for stacking the deck. She looks at me curiously before frowning at her cards. We've got to teach her to bluff.
Our game goes on pretty much to the same extent. Grace beating the pants off of Rick and I. Jesus Christ, I'm glad we're just playing for measly potato chips otherwise I'd be broke and Grace would be rolling in a pile of money.
When she's better, the first place we're going is Vegas.
The door swings open and we all turn our heads. My hand instinctively reaches for my gun strapped against my lower back until I realize it's Grace's doctor.
"Hi." He says efficiently, flipping through Grace's chart. "How are you?"
"I'm still here." Grace remarks, grinning at the doctor. He returns her smile before peering intently at the monitors she's hooked up to. Her IV was removed yesterday and she's off most of the machines. "Looking good." He states, noting the reading in her chart. I clear away the remains of our card game and Rick and I move out of his way.
"Can I go home?" Grace finally asks eagerly and the doc looks up from her chart.
"Yeah, I think so." He tells her, a kindly smile on his face. "Let me just have another look at the wound, okay?"
"Sure!" She tells him, her pretty eyes shining with excitement. He discreetly moves the shoulder of her hospital gown enough to see the bandaged entry wound on her chest. He quickly removes the bandage and surveys her injury.
"Ouch." He remarks for her as he gently probes it. Grace closes her eyes tightly and I move to her side and take her hand. She grips mine fiercely, and I can't believe how strong she is for being so little. "It's healing great." The doctor quips and Grace opens her eyes. "Any internal pain? Burning or anything?" He asks.
"No." She answers honestly. "The only thing that hurts is when I touch it or when I move my left arm."
He nods. "Good. Let me take a look at the back." She obediently sits up slowly, allowing the doctor to check the bullet's exit wound. She grips my hand again and I stroke her palm with my thumb. "Great," The doctor remarks before standing up and making a few other notes in her chart. "I need to see you in a week just to make sure there is no additional damage. Everything looks perfect, the swelling is down, and there are no signs of infection. Be careful and remember that you got shot just a few ago. No running or heavy lifting, try to move your left shoulder and arm as much as it's comfortable, but no more than that. Next week I'll start you on physical therapy, so the more movement you do now, the easier it will be. You need lots of couch rest and TLC." The doctor finishes, looking at Rick and myself before smiling. "I think you're well taken care of. You'll be fine."
Grace beams, her smile lighting up her entire face. "Yay! Thank you Dr. Durant. You're the best!"
The doctor laughs. "Well, I know you have a cookout to go to, and I'm not one to ruin anyone's plans. Take care and I'll see you next week. My secretary will call with your appointment time and I'll send someone in shortly to get you out of here. Go ahead and get dressed, the nurse will be in a minute to bandage you back up for your trip home."
"Thank you." We all tell the doctor as he waves and leaves.
"Let's get out of here!" Grace states as she throws back the bedcovers.
"Easy there Dixie." I tell her, putting my hands gently on the top of her shoulders to calm her down. "We can't have you busting your stitches before you leave here."
She frowns, her face threatening to sulk. "I want to go home. Now." She states.
"I know. But we have to see that you're going to stay healthy." I remind her and she nods.
"I'll get all of your things packed, okay Grace? Jaden can help you get dressed."
"Okay." She concedes, allowing me to help her out of bed while Rick turns around to give her privacy. She's a bit unsteady on her feet, but otherwise okay. She's been out of bed briefly to shower and use the bathroom, but I'm not taking any chances of her falling or anything. I grab the pajamas I brought for her and help her into the bathroom.
We shut the door behind us and she shoos me out so she can use the toilet. I stand on the other side of the closed bathroom door watching her uncle efficiently gather up all of her things before lovingly packing them. He looks at me and we share a smile.
I'm thrilled that he offered to stay here for a while. I know how much Grace is going through and think that the best thing for her to have is her beloved uncle around for a few days until she is feeling better. Besides, it will really help relieve the tension between Grace and I until we're both ready to talk and deal with what has happened.
"Jaden?" Grace calls, her voice muffled from the thick door. "I need you."
I open the door and let myself in, my eyes greeted by Grace's naked body. Her hospital gown is crumpled on the floor and she hands me her pajamas.
"I can't do this by myself yet." She tells me, her lower lip quivering.
"Shh, it's okay." I tell her, reaching up to gently stroke her face with my hand. She leans foreword into my embrace and I delicately wrap my arms around her and pull her into a hug. It feels so perfect, and I bite my lip to prevent myself from crying. Grace needs me to be strong right now, not sobbing like a baby. But I haven't held her like this since before she left for the cabin.
I relish the feeling of her embrace before kissing the top of her head and releasing her. Only the angry red wound mars her creamy white skin and as I lower myself to place a chaste kiss above the wound's surface, I feel a tremor run through her entire body.
"Thank you." She whispers and I hold a finger up to her lips to silence her.
"You have nothing to thank me for." I tell her. "I am thankful for you."
She smiles and pulls me down to kiss her soft and inviting lips. "We both have a lot to be thankful for." Gracie states, and I know she's right.
Part 3: Coming soon! Stay tuned and please email me with feedback!!!