We Do What We Can

Part 4

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.


July 4, 2000

I feel like I'm entering a nuthouse. As I turn off the Explorer, I'm surrounded by a multitude of people including Joe, Diana, a shrieking Kasey, two golden retrievers, and my partner formally known as Steele. He's Harold now.

"You're late!" Kasey accuses as she throws herself into my arms.

"I'm dreadfully sorry for that munchkin." I counter, kissing her on her freckled nose before putting her down. She giggles and runs over to the passenger side of the car to see Grace.

Rick lets himself out of the car and the two terriers busy themselves by making acquaintances with the two larger dogs. They sniff and eagerly begin tearing around the front yard.

"Joe," Diana begins and her smiling spouse obediently nods as he leads all four dogs through the house into the back yard. Diana winks at me as I lift Grace down from the car.

"He's trained, huh?" Grace smiles as she gingerly hugs Diana. I introduce Rick to Harold and they shake hands.

"Harry." I greet my partner and he clenches his jaw.

"Funky chicken." He responds, his handsome face curling into a large grin. Outraged, I turn to Grace.

"You told him? When did you tell him?" I question her, putting my hands on my hips in mock fury.

Grace and Diana giggle like schoolgirls, and I realize that I've been ambushed. "You guys suck." I tell them, turning away to get the potato salad out of the car. Shoving it into Diana's hands I grumpily stalk towards the house, calling over my shoulder "Here's your fricking salad."

I hear them laugh behind me and I continue towards the house. I'm not really angry, but I know it's giving them a rise so I continue with the joke. That sneaky little Grace, I can't believe she did that. Harold looked way too happy to be making fun of me, so I'll just have to find something else to tease him about.

"Hey, wait up!" Grace calls as I reach the front door. Never able to resist her I turn, smiling at her excited face flushed from laughing. She's walking much better this morning, hardly showing her injury at all. Her uncle and Harold hover protectively around her while Diana trots up to me with the bowl of potato salad.

"I better put this down before I drop it or something." Diana mutters before smiling cheekily at me as she passes me in the doorway.

"You little!" I tell her as I lunge for her. She already anticipated my movement and dodges past me, giggling as she races for the kitchen.

"What's the matter?" Grace asks innocently, meeting me in the doorway.

"You better watch it, Loose Lips, or I'm going to start spilling some of your deep dark secrets." I warn her, wrapping my arm around her side and pulling her to me. She relaxes easily into my embrace and returns my impromptu hug.

"Yeah, yeah. You're all talk." She responds and I kiss the top of her blonde head before releasing her. I vaguely hear gagging noises behind me and I turn to see Rick and Harold sprouting identical innocent expressions.

Grace chuckles at my side and I shake my head slowly. Everyone's a comedian today.


Wow, there are a lot of people here. Jaden wasn't lying when she said that Joe and Diana threw a big shindig. Diana leads me into the fenced-in back yard where I see Bean and Herc racing around with about a gazillion other dogs. Kasey and a billion other small children chase the dogs despite being scolded by the various parents littered around the yard. My uncle is protectively at my back, and I wonder if I'll get him to leave my side at all today.

Not that I mind, I forgot how much I miss seeing him daily. He's the only one of my family that I really feel comfortable with, besides Lydia of course. I know too that he hates stuff like this. He's such a quiet person, almost shy until you get to know him. I hope he can relax and enjoy himself today.

"I'll grab you guys a table, okay?" Diana offers as she leaves my side. I smile as I watch her effectively shoo the people sitting at the table closest to the food and motion me over. She rolls her eyes at my uncle and I. "Joe's stupid family." She remarks, nodding at the displaced persons. "They annoy me like you wouldn't believe."

I grab a chair and gingerly pull myself down to sit. "Thanks." I tell her and she squeezes my uninjured shoulder. "Hey, do you think we could have a minute to talk in private later?" I ask her, my stomach rolling with anxiousness at what I have to say to her. I really don't want to do this today but can't put it off any longer. I'm ashamed that it's gone on this long.

She smiles warmly at me. "Sure. I was hoping you guys would stick around for awhile." She bids us farewell as she heads to go and play hostess some more.

"You hungry?" My uncle asks and I nod. "I'll grab some food, you want some of everything?" He smiles at me, his warm brown eyes twinkling. He knows me well.

"Yep. Thanks." He heads to the grouping of food tables, dishing things out on plates. I notice Jaden's potato salad on the table and smile as he puts an extra large helping of that on both of our plates. He and Joe have a friendly conversation as Joe expertly flips the burgers and hot dogs on the grill.

Where's Jaden? I wonder, my brow furrowing in concentration. I'm surprised that she isn't fighting with my uncle over who gets to play mother hen.

I smile at the various people shooting me curious glares and sigh inwardly. I have the feeling that I'm going to be the talk of the party today. Although I have no idea how anyone knows about anything, but by the way they are all checking me out it seems as if they know. I guess it's too much to ask for people not to gossip. I just think it's ridiculous, I've never even met any of these people and already I've lost out on the chance for a decent first impression.

I guess I don't care. Besides, if they are judging me based on what happened then the chances are good that I don't care about what they think, right?

'Yeah, right.' I tell myself sarcastically. My uncle comes back with our lunch and I thank him before digging in. I will not let any nagging parts of myself ruin this day.

I won't.


"Jaden, can I talk to you?" Harold asks as I'm walking into the back yard. Curiously, I look at him and retreat my steps, allowing Diana to lead Grace into the crowd of people. She'll take just as good of care of her as I would, not to mention Rick tagging at their heels.

"How's it hanging Harry?" I ask, smiling to let him know that like always, I am joking.

"Don't start, I have ammo now." He jokes back and I casually lean against the wall.

"Seriously, what's going on? Why are you all serious?" I pepper him with questions and he frowns slightly before answering.

"Does the name Kimber mean anything to you?" He asks and I rack my brain trying to remember.

It suddenly hits me. "Oh yeah, she was a newbie on a force in Florida that I worked on." I tell him. "Mounted program." I add, clarifying what kind of force.

"Well, it seems like the two of you were pretty friendly when you where there, right?" Harold asks and I narrow my eyes at him.

"What do you mean by that?" I growl, unsure as to what he's insinuating.

He shrugs uneasily. "I'm not meaning anything! Jesus, I'm just trying to tell you something that you need to know." He protests, putting his huge hands up in front of himself.

I back down, taking pity on him slightly. "Sorry." I tell him, and clear my throat. "Continue."

"Anyway, these past few days when Grace was in the hospital I've been trying to figure out how Aron found out where you were all of a sudden, and how he found out where Grace was in the cabin."

"Yeah, me too." I answer, the anger evident in my voice. "Chief said that I could have my month off after the accident, but I'm coming back tomorrow for about a week so I can try and clear up loose ends."

He nods somberly, understanding what I mean. "Well, some of the sources I had told me that Aron had been staying in Florida this winter off and on, around the same time you were down there. One of the lowlifes I spoke with mentioned his girlfriend down there had a sister named Kimber and that they partied with Aron a lot. I figure that in small talk somewhere Kimber must have mentioned that she was being trained by a woman named Jaden."

"Not exactly a common name." I tell Harold, comprehending where he's going with this. "Aron must have suspected and had me checked out. Jesus Christ, how in the hell did you find this out?"

"I'm good." He answers, but missing from his voice is his usual bravado. "Listen, Jaden, I don't like this. Something's telling me that this isn't over."

I glance at his chiseled features that are taut with worry. "I think you're right."


My uncle looks back over his shoulder for the fortieth time since we've began eating our lunch.

"What are you doing?" I finally ask, not missing the fact that his usually calm face is red with embarrassment.

"Nothing." He blurts out, acting like a gawky teenaged boy. I shake my head in wonder and try and figure out how to eat my corn on the cob with one hand.

"I miss Ohio corn." I say wistfully and my uncle nods in agreement. "Isn't that sad that it's one of the only things I miss?"

"No." He states matter-of-factly. "I didn't realize how nice it was in other places until I came to visit you here."

"When are you going back?" I ask, saddened by the thought of him leaving.

"I don't know if I am, Grace." He answers slowly, his dark eyes boring into mine.


He nods solemnly. "Really." I smile at him.

"Good." I tell him and he cracks a smile before turning his attention back over his shoulder. I strain to see over his burly frame to see what in the hell he's looking at, but he's too tall. Sighing in frustration, I pick up my fork and finish Jaden's tasty potato salad, looking longingly at my uneaten corn the entire time.

"So, am I the most divine chef or what?" Jaden's low voice purrs into my ear, making me jump.

"Or what." My uncle quips in between bites of his hot dog.

"Shut up." She counters and the two of them exchange smiles. "Miss me?" She asks, pulling up a chair next to me and seating herself.

"Like crazy. You fall into a black hole or something?" I ask.

"No, just had to talk to Steele." She responds, and I can see from the strain on her face that it wasn't a good conversation.

"Everything okay?" I question her nervously and Jaden reassuringly grabs my hand.

"Don't worry, promise?" She questions, her intense eyes locking with mine. I dumbly shake my head and she smiles. "Good."

Surveying the crowd like a queen on her throne, Jaden regally stands. "Who are all these people?" She questions before heading up to get herself some lunch. My uncle looks back over his shoulder once again and I have to bite my cheek from screaming in frustration.

"What are you looking at?" I ask him again and he shoots me an evil glare. I sigh and roll my eyes, determined to find out what he's doing. Jaden returns with her lunch and I immediately pepper her with questions.

"Who or what is sitting behind my uncle's right shoulder?" I ask her as my uncle gives me a panicked look. Jaden strains and stretches to peer over his shoulder.

"Some guy, nice looking, probably late 40's with dark hair." She says directly as she nibbles on her hamburger.

"Why are you looking at some guy?" I question my uncle who blushes once again. Reality comes in a practically has to hit me in the forehead. "Oh! You think he's cute? Which guy?" I ask as I stand as quickly as possible without hurting myself. My uncle groans and puts his head in his hands as his prone position makes it easier for me to pick out the guy he's staring at.

I sit back down, pacified. "He's cute. Want me to go talk to him?" I ask and my uncle lays his head down on the table. "How do you even know he's gay?" I question, unfamiliar with this lifestyle still.

Jaden squints, looking at the man again. "Yep. He's gay." She remarks. "My gaydar never lies."

"Gaydar?" My uncle and I simultaneously question as he lifts his head from the table. Jaden nods in response.

"Yep. Gracie, when I first saw you mine went off the roof." She remarks casually.

"What?" I protest. "You're crazy. I kept it hidden so well, no one ever knew."

"Oh please." My uncle butts in, chuckling to himself. "You couldn't have been more obvious if you had a picture of Melissa Ethridge tattooed on your forehead."

"Yeah." Jaden adds.

"You guys are crazy." I tell them.

"No we're not." Jaden argues. "You just have no gaydar."

I can't think of anything to say so I just stick my tongue out at her in response. She grins and waggles her eyebrows as my uncle groans and excuses himself from the table.

"I'll leave you two lovebirds. I'm going to go and mingle." He says meaningfully before heading across the lawn towards Steele, who is speaking with my uncle's crush along with a few other guys.

"Awww, isn't that sweet." Jaden jokes as she finishes her burger.

"I'm surprised, actually. He's always so shy around new people."

"Well, looks like he's a new man." She remarks as Steele introduces my uncle to his crush.

"I'd say." I mutter, smiling slightly. I hope my uncle can make friends here; it would be nice to see him having a good time for once. "Is Steele gay?" I ask, wondering how he knows my uncle's crush.

Jaden almost chokes on her orange soda. "Wow, you really don't have any gaydar, do you?" She remarks while laughing and coughing at the same time.

"How can I know if I have it if I don't know what it is?" I argue and she laughs and chokes harder. I shake my head at her. She's so weird.


"Hey, scram." Diana tells me as she nudges me in the ribs. "Your girl and I have got to talk before the fireworks start." I look to Grace, confusion evident in my face, but listen to Diana anyway.

"About what?" I ask, putting my hands on my hips and giving her my glare. She puts her hands on her own hips and returns my glare with one far more intimidating. I back down quickly, knowing this a battle I cannot win. "Alright." I tell them, leaning down to give Grace a soft kiss. "You may have won her this time Diana, but I'll be back."

"Whatever." She snorts as I head over to where Joe and some of the guys are playing football. I quickly get put on a team and at once concentrate on dominating everyone else playing.

I can't help sneaking glances back to Grace and Diana, wondering what in the hell they are talking about. Grace looks upset and I lose concentration on the game as I see Diana scoot closer to her and hug her.

"Ooaf!" I groan as a huge body slams into me and throws me to the ground. I spring up, eager to kick the crap out of whoever just tackled me, when I see Steele get up slowly, his hands around his nose.

"Jaden!" He groans, removing his hands to find them free from blood. "Watch where you're going! You almost broke my nose!"

I muffle a laugh. "Well, I'll try harder next time then." I tell him and the guys all start laughing.

"Them's fighting words." Harold responds, dusting off his pants and squaring his shoulders.

"Bring it on." I counter and the guys all start cheering.

"Okay, no fighting, seriously. This is just for fun." Joe interjects and we all boo him.

I glance to Grace and Diana, relieved when I see them pointing and laughing at us. Well, at least she's not upset anymore.

"We're not fighting, Joe. We're just making the game more interesting." I tell him and he throws up his hands in defeat. "Okay, here's how it goes." I order, effectively taking over command. "Steele, opps, I mean Harold, will lead one team and I the other. We'll pick our teams and from here on we'll play tackle, okay?" The group of players grin in agreement. "Don't do anything stupid, no taking cheap shots like my friend Harry here."

Harold glares at me and I smirk. "You get the first pick." He tells me, his voice hard and set. I almost think about teasing him again, but decide against it. He's my buddy, and I don't want him really getting mad at me.

"Thanks pal." I tell him as I look over the group of players. Most of them are Joe's cousins, and they all are average in stature. "I'll take Joe." I tell him and he gives me a lopsided grin as he trots over next to me.

"Cool!" He tells me, giving me a high five.

"You're the best." I tell him confidently, smiling as he proudly puffs up his chest. I lean down closer to his ear. "I picked you cause I don't know anyone else's name." I remark and his shoulders take on an air of defeat. "And cause you're my best friend's husband and she'd kill me if I had to tackle you."

He laughs and nods his head. "Yeah, she would."

We pick the remainder of the teams quickly, Steele ending up with bigger guys and one athletic girl that is Joe's track star of a cousin, and I have the smaller and speedier guys.

"Rick, you got the dogs?" I call to Grace's uncle who is surrounded by the herd of dogs. He nods at me as he divides up the leftover cooked hamburger to each dog. I don't fail to notice that his crush is helping him. I shoot a knowing smile to Grace who gives me a smile so sweet in return that it takes my breath away.

Jesus H. Christ in a hand basket, I couldn't love her more.

"Let's go!" I tell my team and we break into a huddle. I'm going to win this one for my girl.


Diana and I share a smile. "Well, here we are again, watching our loved ones make Asses out of themselves." She comments as Steele slams Joe into the ground.

"And boy, do they do it well." I add.

"Listen, Grace, I don't want you to worry about anything, okay?" Diana remarks uneasily. I think it's the first time I've ever heard her sound uncomfortable.

"I just feel really awful about everything."

"I know, but it wasn't your fault." Diana says, her tone compassionate. "We don't blame you for anything."

"But I ruined your cabin." I manage to tell her, ashamed of the tears forming in my eyes.

"No you didn't. Some sick asshole who was trying to kill you did." She tells me sternly.

"Mama, Jordan said that I was mean!" Kasey interrupts as she comes running over. She flings herself onto Diana's lap.

"Why did he say that?" Diana questions gently. I'm always amazed at how good she is with Kasey. She's a natural mother, so loving and patient. So different from my own mother who prefers to yell first, and ask questions later.

"I don't know." Kasey responds, her face set in a pout.

"Well, I'm sure you can remember." Diana coaxes.

Kasey thinks for a minute and her set face breaks into a smile. "Oh yeah! Because I called him a turdhead."

Diana and I crack up with laughter. "And why did you do that?" Diana prods.

"He said Grace was weird." Kasey tells us seriously. She peers at me curiously. "You're not weird, you're my friend Pixie-head." She remarks. Removing herself from her mother's lap she hugs me tightly.

"Thank you." I tell her, hugging her small frame close. She breaks away and runs back to the group of children.

Diana and I can't help but chuckle as we watch her put her hands on her hips and tell the boy I presume to be Jordan exactly what she thinks of him.

"She's something." Diana offers awkwardly.

"Gee, can't tell who she takes after." I joke and Diana flashes me a relieved smile. She puts her arm gently around my shoulders.

"Grace, I know how hard this is for you. I can't imagine going through what you're going through and not having some kind of support system to talk too. If you need anything, I want you to know that I'm here for you and not just as a friend of Jaden, but yours as well."

"Thanks." I tell her gratefully.

"And regardless of what stupid people will gossip about, I want you to know that Joe and I think the world of you, along with Kasey. You're a wonderful person and I'm honored to have you in my life." Diana says, her chocolate eyes wet with unshed tears.

Her words are so touching that I can't resist from pulling her into a warm hug. She rubs my back maternally, murmuring, "It's okay, we all love you," over and over. From her embrace I hear excited cheers coming from the vicinity where the game is being played.

"Jaden just tackled Steele." Diana remarks and my sadness instantly turns to laughter as we hold each other and giggle.

Part 6: Coming soon! Stay tuned and please email me with feedback!!!

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