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 3, 2000
The drive to Jaden's apartment isn't long, but it seems like forever to my aching body. The pain medication that the doctors have been giving me is really helping and my shoulder is more of a dull ache rather than the sharp pain I've been enduring.
I'm anxious to get home, to sleep in Jaden's soft bed, and wake up in a room that smells like her rather than antiseptic and sterile gauze. I can't wait to get back to my 'normal' life, whatever that may be.
I'm actually anxious to have nothing bad happen. I hope that I can enjoy a few quiet days with my uncle and rest up so Jaden and I can have an incredible month while she's on leave from work.
We pull into the driveway, and I smile at the sight of my beloved car.
"Jody said it ran great." Jaden quips, as if reading my mind.
"Good." I tell her; glad my car survived the long road trip even though it was pointless for Jody to drive it. Aron knew where I was the entire time, and I still can't figure out how he knew. I don't really want to ask Jaden because it will just open a big can of worms that I'm not in the mood to deal with yet.
Jaden turns off the car and hurries over to my passenger door to help me out. My uncle gets out from the back seat, his portly frame grunting with the effort of climbing out of Jaden's tall car. I sigh, knowing that with both of them around I have to get used to being babied for awhile, or at least until I have better use of my shoulder and arm.
I try to slide down off of the seat and keep my shoulder still, but it still hurts. A lot. I feel as if I'm never going to be able to do anything on my own again.
I'm so proud of my newly found independence and really pissed off that it's been taken away so quickly. It was bad enough that I had to be wheeled out in a freaking wheelchair from the hospital, but somehow Jaden lifted me up and into the Explorer like I was a china doll. At least I didn't have to climb up like I usually do.
My uncle stands back as Jaden thoughtfully surveys the situation.
"I'll lift her out, and you go ahead of me and open the door." Jaden tells my uncle, handing him the keys.
"Okay, can you lift her yourself? There are a lot of stairs." My uncle responds.
"Hello? I can hear you." I tell them grumpily, annoyed to have them talking about me like I'm not even here.
"Sorry." Jaden says, smiling as she ducks her head into the Explorer to kiss my cheek. She lifts me effortlessly and I instinctively wrap my good arm around her neck.
"I won't drop you." She says as my uncle shuts the car door behind us and trots ahead to open the front door of the building.
She won't drop me, which I know for sure. Her embrace is so strong and comforting that I feel as if she could carry me forever.
"I'll go as slow as you want, sweetheart." Jaden asks as she gently heads up the stairs. "It might hurt."
"I'm fine, go as fast as you can." I tell her through gritted teeth. Regardless of how much she's trying to be careful, the jarring movement of being carried up the steep stairs is really painful. "The question is, can you make it up the stairs?" I ask her.
"Are you kidding? You're as light as a feather! Although, I'm not sure how, with your appetite." She remarks and I pinch her side where I know she's ticklish. Even that simple movement of my injured shoulder sends a wave of pain down to my toes and I'm immediately nauseous. I have to remember not to move.
"Watch it!" She growls, "Or I'll drop you!"
"You wouldn't dare." I joke back, breathing deeply as the pain slowly ebbs from my injury.
"You should've seen Grace as a kid." My uncle comments as he reaches the top of the stairs. "She could eat more than a grown man at each sitting." He pauses, waiting for Jaden to catch up before heading down the hall. "That is, whenever my bitch sister wasn't harping about her weight."
I stiffen, not used to hearing my uncle refer to my mother as a bitch. I glance at Jaden, who is smiling.
"That's why I like you, Rick. We have the same taste in a lot of things."
My uncle smiles and heads down the hall. I leave all thoughts of my mother, who wouldn't even come and visit me in the hospital, behind. I'm finally home!
"You'll have to fill me in on Grace's childhood stories." Jaden remarks casually and I roll my eyes in response.
My uncle nods and laughs wickedly before opening the door and throwing his large body in front of the opening to prevent the two excited Jack Russell Terriers from coming out.
Bean and little Hercules, who actually is much larger than Bean already, are yipping and jumping as we get through the door. They scramble around Jaden's legs frantically until she loses her patience.
"Dogs! Go lay down!" She commands and Bean instantly obeys, trotting to the couch. Little Herc looks at Jaden and cocks his head before deciding to listen and scrambles over next to Bean.
"He's so cute!" I tell my uncle and he smiles proudly.
"He's a royal pest." Jaden says, a smirk on her face to show she's joking. "He's adorable but isn't out of that frustrating puppy phase yet."
"He is a royal pest." My uncle states, crossing over to the living room chair and pulling Herc onto his lap. "But he's my pest." He fondly scratches the puppy behind his ears.
"Couch or bed?" Jaden asks.
"Couch, please." I tell her and she sets me down gently onto the soft cushions. Bean squirms with excitement as I give her kisses and hugs. "It's okay," I tell my uncle who has his hands full with a rambunctious Herc. "You can let him come and say hello."
The puppy comes bounding over to the couch and crashes into my stomach, knocking the air out of me. I grab him with my good arm and hold him against my side, giggling despite the pain as he clamors up to lick my face.
"Goddess, does he do everything with this much excitement?" I ask and both my uncle and Jaden laugh.
"Yes." My uncle replies, shaking his head slowly. "He's like a stick of dynamite."
"It's so strange." I remark as Herc lies down on my lap, sharing it with Bean. "I've always thought Bean was a freak of a Russell because she's so quiet and sweet, but Herc is sweet too, just not quiet."
"True!" My uncle responds. "He's never been quiet since you got him for me. The breeder described him as the most shy and withdrawn puppy who was in need of love, and once he got to my place without his brothers and sisters, he's not been shy since!"
"They seem to get along well." I say as I continue to pat both dogs' soft fur.
"You should see them at the beach!" My uncle responds and I smile.
"I can't wait." I can't wait, to get back to my life.
Jaden sits down next to me on the couch. "How are you feeling? Sore, tired, feverish?" She asks, putting a hand to my forehead. I wince as the pressure of her hand irritates my cut from the bushes I ran through. "You feel a bit warm." Her deep blue eyes are concerned and I take her hand off of my forehead and squeeze her hand.
"I'm fine. Just excited to be home." She doesn't look reassured, so I change the subject. "What's the plan for tomorrow?" I ask, excited to go to Joe and Diana's cookout for the 4th of July.
"They want us there around noon. We can bring both dogs and I need to make potato salad." Jaden answers, and I can tell she's as excited as I am.
"Do you know how to make potato salad?" I ask doubtfully, knowing her cooking skills are not her strong point.
"No." She says glumly, and I can't help but giggle at her despondent look.
"Potato salad, that's easy." My uncle says. "I have my mother's recipe, and it's the best. I can help you."
Jaden smiles and nods her head eagerly. "That would be great."
My uncle stands from the chair, dusting off his pants. "I'll run to the store to get what we need. I recall passing a shopping center a ways back and I need to get some things that I forgot to pack anyway."
"Use the Explorer, the keys are on the counter." Jaden offers.
"Thanks. I'll be back in an hour or so." He says, effectively dismissing himself as he kisses the top of my head on his way out.
"He loves you very much." Jaden remarks from her protective position on the couch next to me.
"I love him too." I tell her, smiling. I'm so glad he's here for a few days.
"Are you okay?" Jaden questions and I can't help but sigh.
"Yes, I'm just tired of being hurt." I tell her honestly. "I never want anyone to ask me if I'm okay again."
"Oh, sorry." Jaden responds, ducking her head.
"No, that's not what I meant." I clarify. "I just feel like I've been through so much in the past few months, and I'm eager to be healthy again." She peers at me, her eyes inquisitive as to what I mean. "First there was the shipwreck, and then Scott," I shudder involuntarily at the memory. "And now this. I feel like I'll never be able to take anything for granted again."
I smile at her. "Stupid, huh?"
She shakes her head. "Not stupid at all." She squeezes my hand. "I just want you to be okay."
"I am." I tell her.
"I'm sorry for bringing you into all of this, and for what happened with Aron."
"No." I tell her firmly, putting a finger to her full lips. "This is my first day home. I want to sit with you and smell the breeze from the ocean and enjoy the day. I'm not ready to talk about this yet, okay?"
She nods. "Sure."
"I promise you that as soon as I'm ready, we'll talk. Okay?"
"Okay." She says, her face brightening.
"Let's just sit and enjoy each other." I plead and she gets up to open the window, letting the warm breeze inside.
"Come here." I order her, opening my arms up as best as I can. I shoo the dogs off of my lap and they tumble to the floor and play tug-of-war with one of Bean's toys.
Jaden cocks her head at me and I motion for her to come into my arms. She complies and lays herself gently into my embrace.
I sigh in happiness as I stroke her soft hair and her arms tighten around my waist.
"I love you." She whispers, closing her incredibly blue eyes.
"I love you too, sweetheart." I tell her, smoothing the worried lines from her brow. "Always." I hum softly and I feel her body relax. "Why don't you take a nap?" I coax her, knowing she hasn't been sleeping well.
The loud play growls from the dogs don't prevent her from falling asleep quickly and her breathing soon grows deep. I run my hand up and down her shoulders and back, feeling the tense muscles relax with sleep. She's like a walking, talking, stressball. I plan on fixing that as soon as I can.
I relish the feeling of her, imagining as if I were her protector and am holding her very life in my hands. The love I feel for her radiates out of my body onto hers. I never ever want to be apart from her again. The days in the hospital were torture. I never thought that I would find the person that I am meant to be with, but I have. It's her.
The dogs break me from my romantic musings as they proceed to each chew on an opposite end of Bean's nylabone. They really are cute together and I'm so glad they get along. I'm glad that Bean finally has a playmate. I've always wanted to get another dog, and Herc seems to enjoy her as much as she is enjoying him.
Maybe I'll get Jaden a dog after my uncle leaves. She loves Bean so much, and even though she claims not to be a dog person, she's fallen head over heels in love with my little terrier.
I bet she'd like a big dog though, something like a lab or a Shepard. Not a lab, they are too common. Jaden needs a unique dog, it would fit her personality better. I know she loves Diana and Joe's golden retrievers, but I can't picture her owning one.
She needs something that will bond with her and enjoy running with her and Bean in the mornings.
A border collie? One of my friends from school had one and it was the best dog, really smart and playful as well as loving. I think that would be perfect, maybe I could even find one that has blue eyes. And a border collie should be good with horses because they aren't hunters, so Jaden could take it to the barn with her, maybe even to work.
I put that thought on the back burner to think about later.
Closing my eyes, the smell of the sea and Jaden's warm body lulls me to sleep. It's so perfect here right now, the only sounds being the gentle motion of the waves, Jaden's deep breathing, and the indescribable sound of two dogs chewing on a nylabone.
I consciously relax my muscles, feeling the slight tinge in my shoulder but no other real pain.
"Pain meds are grand." I say as I sink down into the couch.
The first thought that hits me when I open my eyes is, ow.
The second thought is that it's almost dark.
The third thought is that someone is in the kitchen. Thoughts of Aron fly through my head as I whip around to see my uncle quickly and quietly putting groceries away.
I sigh, both in relief and pain when I realize that it's him. He meets my eyes and winks, finishing up with the groceries and walking over to the couch.
"How's my girl?" He asks and I grimace.
"My medication is wearing off, I think. Do you mind getting me two pills?" I ask and he nods, returning quickly with them and a glass of water. I swallow them down and gulp the water, not believing how parched my throat is.
"Thank you." I tell him, handing him back the glass.
"No problem." He answers. "You hungry?" He asks and I nod eagerly.
"I'm starving. Want to order something?"
"Nah, I'll cook. She like chicken?" He asks, pointing at Jaden.
"Yeah." I tell him, smiling. "Give me a minute to wake her up and then we can help."
He grunts. "No way. Let me do it. You stay there and let her sleep. She hasn't slept since she found out about what happened." He says before turning and going back into the kitchen.
I run my hand through Jaden's long black hair, hoping that finally she is able to catch up on her sleep without nightmares.
I grab the remote from the table next to the couch and flip on the television.
"Leave that on." My uncle calls from the kitchen. It's Animal Planet's Emergency Vets. That's a great show, one of Jaden's and my favorites. I turn the volume up enough so he can hear in the kitchen. Jaden's so deep in sleep that I doubt the level will bother her.
"Who wants chicken?" My uncle calls from the kitchen in a singsong voice as both dogs bolt towards him. I giggle and make myself comfortable as Jaden's pillow and watch the show.
I could get used to this.
Part 4: Coming soon! Stay tuned and please email me with feedback!!!