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 4, 2000
Stifling a yawn, I check my watch. It's almost 10:00pm, and that's when fireworks are supposed to start. As much as I hate to admit it, I can't wait to go home. I'm really tired and out of it from the pain medication, but without it I think my shoulder would have been unbearable. I just want to go home and lay in my girlfriend's arms.
Screw the fireworks.
I sigh, scratching at my bandaged shoulder irritably. Good thing it wasn't too hot today or I don't know if I would have been able to stay for this long. Luckily the day was a perfect New England summer day, in the high 70s with a gentle breeze.
I've had a comfortable seat in the shade and enough people making small talk to keep me company. Jaden and my uncle have been hovering lovingly, almost too lovingly, and I won't lie and say a part of me was relieved when Jaden finally went to play football with the guys.
I'm glad Diana and I were able to talk. As difficult as it was for the both of us, I at least feel better knowing that her and Joe aren't blaming me for ruining their cabin. I still feel like I did, but that's beside the point.
I would never want to do anything that would drive a wedge in between Jaden and her closest friends. Hell, I consider them my friends now too, even though I've only met them a few times. There is something about them that makes me feel almost as if I've known them forever.
It's the same feeling I had when I first got to know Jaden. Weird.
Who knows? Maybe we all hung out in a previous life or something.
Heh, heh. That absurd thought makes me chuckle to myself and I know how foolish I must look, giggling away all by myself.
"Hi." A small voice interrupts my thoughts. I turn my head slightly to see Kasey standing in front of me, looking at me seriously.
"Hi." I answer her, equally as serious.
"Can we talk?" She asks, and I nod my head to her, feeling as if I'm speaking with someone my own age instead of a preschooler.
"What's up?" I question after she is silent for a minute.
"It's about your dog." Kasey begins, her young voice straightforward, just like her mothers'. I bite the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing at her stoic demeanor.
"What about her?" I ask, already knowing the answer.
"I like her." Kasey tells me as if it's obvious. "I want to keep her."
"Oh." I tell her seriously, pretending to think about it in detail. "Well, I have a question for you, okay?"
"Shoot." She responds and I can't help but giggle. She's such a riot now that I'm afraid to imagine what she'll be like as a teenager.
"Well, do you really think that your two other dogs would like having Bean around? She's awful cute and I think it might make your other dogs upset."
Kasey squints her eyes and thinks about my question.
"I'd keep her in my room." Kasey answers quickly.
I shake my head from side to side. "Bean needs a lot of room to run, so she would have to share the yard with your other two dogs. Would you like to share your yard and your toys with two other children?" I ask, hoping she'll understand.
"No." She states honestly. "I hate to share."
"Me too." I whisper to her, as if it's a secret. She beams with that knowledge and I smile at her in return. "How about this." I tell her and she listens intently. "Bean will still live with me, but every time Jaden and I come over, we will bring her for you to play with. And when you come over to our place you can play with her then too."
She nods at me, again completely serious. "Deal."
I shake her hand. "Deal."
She smiles and scampers off to play. I'm amazed at her energy; she's been going for over 10 hours now.
Jaden and Diana are approaching my seat, deep in conversation. I can hear Jaden's melodic laughter and I can't help but smiling. Goddess, I love her with all of my heart.
"Hey guys." I greet them, standing up slowly and stretching. Jaden immediately puts her arm around me and I lean on her body, feeling completely exhausted.
"How are you feeling?" Diana asks, her dark eyes intently boring into mine. I shrug slightly, torn between wanting to lie and say fine and wanting to tell the truth.
I opt for the truth.
"Like hell." I tell her and she nods.
"I can believe you're still going strong. Jaden, why don't you take her home?" Jaden ducks her head, properly scolded. "Yeah, we'll go."
I hold up my hand in protest. "No way! I waited here all day to see these incredible fireworks and now you want me to go home two minutes before they start?" I joke and they both smile knowingly.
"I have a great seat for you Grace, c'mon." Diana tells me and I walk with her towards the house as Jaden dutifully follows.
As soon as Diana made Grace and I comfortable on her padded porch swing, the fireworks started. We oohed and aahed along with the rest of the party as the sky became ablaze with lights and sounds.
A few seconds after the fireworks started, a terrified and shaking Bean came bolting over to Grace and I. I scooped her up and put her in Grace's arms and the whimpering terrier soon settled down. Grace looked at me and grinned, the lights of the sky reflected in her aqua eyes.
I hugged her close to me and she rested her head on my shoulder.
A few minutes after Grace laid her head on my shoulder, I felt her fall asleep. Her entire body relaxed into mine and I gently moved her so she was laying on her back on the padded swing, her head resting in my lap. I don't know how she can sleep through all this noise, but she can.
I survey the crowd gathered around us, smiling as I notice Rick and his crush, Jeff, sitting in neighboring lawn chairs. Diana informs me that he's one of Joe's uncle's oldest friends from college, and yes, he is gay. I couldn't resist rubbing it in to Grace that my gaydar never fails, but she wasn't impressed. Diana seemed way too excited about the prospect of fixing Rick and Jeff up. Grace seemed nervous at that, but I assume that it's just because she's never ever seen her uncle date anyone and it would be kind of weird for her.
Whatever makes him happy is what he should do. I mentioned that and Grace completely agreed. So we'll see. If Diana has her way, she'll be planning two weddings soon, both for Grace and her uncle.
I can't control the shiver that runs through my body. Marriage? Jesus H. Christ himself. Not that I would never want to marry Grace, and it's not like we've even ever spoken about it. Christ, we've only been living together little over a month. So why did that nosy Diana have to mention that to me earlier? I need to talk with her, and soon. That's the last thing that Grace should even have to think about right now.
I can't believe she's still putting up with all of my shit and is still here. I can't even think about her reaction if I mentioned the M word. It would probably give the poor girl a heart attack.
Speaking of, I resist the urge to clutch my right arm when I feel my chest painfully constrict. I can't stop thinking about the thought of being committed seriously to someone regardless of how much I am in love with Grace. I have to calm down or I'm going to go into cardiac arrest myself.
Alright Jaden, change topics, and step on it.
I survey the crowd once more. Finding my perfect diversion, I chuckle to myself. Harold Steele. What was his mother thinking? A last name like Steele should have a powerful or memorable first name, like Dean or Mick or Clay. Something like that. But Harold? Harry?
So anyway, poor Harry is sitting kind of by himself, near Joe, Diana, and a babbling Kasey. That kid must be hyped up on sugar or something; I can't believe she hasn't passed out from playing like all the other kids have.
Maybe I should talk to Diana about fixing good ole Harry up with someone. He's a great guy, handsome and smart and all that crap, there's got to be someone that can look past his first name.
What's that old song from that corny musical? Matchmaker or something? I chuckle to myself again as I hum it under my breath, my mind racing as I try to find Harry's perfect mate.
As I hum I watch the rest of the fireworks by myself, stealing glances to Grace's fair skin, lit in the dark night only by the flashes of color from the sky.
And I'm so lucky.
I crack open one eye, and see nothing but the inky sky above me. I woke up a few seconds ago, feeling a little discombobulated and uncertain to where the hell I was, but it didn't take me long to realize that I'm laying with my head in Jaden's lap on Diana and Joe's swinging porch bench.
Feeling a little embarrassed to have fallen asleep I try to decide the most effortless and pain-free way to sit up when I hear a strange humming.
A beautiful, dreamy, humming, but strange nonetheless. It's interrupted by the unpredictable boom of the fireworks and the crowd's vocal reaction, but the snippets that I can hear are really pretty.
I feel the recognizable touch of Jaden's strong fingers as they run through my cropped hair. I close my eyes and decide that staying where I am might not be so bad after all.
"You awake?" Jaden asks as the humming stops. She must have felt me wake up.
"Yeah." I answer. "Sorry I fell asleep."
"Don't be. It's nice to hold you." She responds, her fingers working magic as they massage and caress my scalp.
"No, this is nice." I correct her, smiling as her fingers continue their wonderful assault. "Did I miss much?"
"Nah. You know how it is, crash, pop, bang, pretty colors, and more bangs." She sums the fireworks up efficiently.
I giggle, reaching up to take her hand in mine. "You're such a poet." I tell her.
"You're the poet. You would have made the fireworks sound beautiful." She says, and the way in which her simple words touch my heart is indescribable.
Suddenly I'm filled with the urge to sit up and look at her. To look into her eyes and tell her things I've wanted to tell her forever.
"Help." I tell her as I lift my head. Her strong arms settle around my lower back and she effortlessly slides me into a sitting position next to her. "Thanks."
I take her hands in mine again and look up into her eyes. "You know I love you." I begin, and she smiles, almost bashfully, as she squeezes my hands.
"And I love you." She responds.
"Every minute I spend with you or even thinking about you is precious to me. I wouldn't trade any of it for anything." I tell her honestly. Her blue eyes are dark in the dim light and I'm reminded of the times we spent at Mill Hollow in the bluebird fields. It was so long ago, but I swear that I can remember the exact color of her eyes then.
They are the same shade as hers now, and I can never forget them.
"I know we've been through hell, and it hasn't been easy. But I'm not blaming you for anything that happened. I made the choices that brought me to you and I'm glad that I chose what I did."
"But you've lost so much." Jaden responds, her voice muted compared to the loudness of the fireworks.
"No I haven't." I tell her, everything seeming so clear to me now. "Don't you see? I haven't lost anything. I've gained everything Jaden, everything! I've finally found myself."
She looks at me, confusion evident on her beautiful face.
"I know you can't possibly understand what I mean. But please believe me when I tell you that in Ohio I was nothing. I didn't know my true self and all I could think of was how much I wanted to get out and live my own life. But until I met you and moved here I didn't even know how I wanted my own life to be! Now I know what I want for myself, and most importantly, I know who I am." I feel the tears running down my cheeks and I ignore them, desperate to get my feelings out once and for all.
"I can't wait to go to college here and do all the things I've always wanted to do. I want to travel with you, to know all about your life, to have a career, and become the person I feel like I am inside." I pause to catch my breath before continuing.
"I'm not a killer, I'm not a murderer. That is something that I had to do to save the most important person in my life. Me. And by killing Aron I was able to save both myself and the other most important person in my life, you. That is something that I never regret. I value my life and yours above his. As much as I hated to have to make that choice, I made it and I will never regret it."
Jaden says nothing as she reaches up to wipe my tears away. She peers at me intently and I continue.
"I hope you can understand. I'm not blaming you; I'm not wishing I had never moved here. The best thing that ever happened to me was meeting you and regardless of what happens I will always cherish having you in my life."
I finish, my stream of consciousness coming to an end as I wipe the remaining tears from my eyes. Wow. That felt amazing. To finally get everything out of my system like that was incredible.
Jaden looks shell-shocked, her beautiful face holding an almost impassive expression. She finally opens her mouth to speak and I have to strain to hear her.
"Thank you." She responds, and although it wasn't what I expected to hear, I know exactly what she means.
We got home a few moments ago. The three of us were exhausted, but I shooed Rick and Grace off to bed, complaining about how I couldn't go to bed until I took a shower. I have a lot of football stink to wash off.
Grace wrinkled her nose at that comment and excused herself for the night, while Rick merely winked at me before retreating to his bedroom.
In truth, while I am in desperate need of a shower, I really just need some time to absorb what Grace told me tonight. I rather sit in the living room and stare at the ocean lost in my thoughts than toss and turn in bed and keep her up.
She needs her sleep. After making sure she got into bed all right I came back out into the living room and plopped myself on the couch.
I'm all alone, even the two completely tuckered-out dogs are in bed with their owners. We all had a fun day, even Grace, who coped with being able not to do much besides sit in a chair all day better than I expected.
To say I'm stunned with what she told me would be an understatement. I know that she's glad she left Ohio and all, but I never expected her to tell me all those things about how she feels here compared to Ohio.
It makes me feel great, knowing that she's happier here than she was there. And I can't wait for her to have the kind of life she deserves, going to a college she likes and choosing her own career instead of being pushed into a marriage she doesn't want.
But where do I fit in? Am I ready to commit to this kind of relationship with her? She has never mentioned if she read my letter that I wrote for her when she was headed to the cabin. Before the shooting. If she read it, surely she must question why I haven't brought it up since.
I'm scared out of my mind to do so. I don't know what her reaction will be and it's easier just to pretend that we are just simple lovers enjoying each other's company.
"Asshole." I say out loud, my voice filled with anger towards myself. What kind of stupid idiot am I? How many times do I need to realize that I love Grace and can't imagine my life without her before I allow myself to believe it?
What more proof do I have to have to show myself that she is the only person who allows me to be myself?
How much closer do I have to come to losing her before I grab onto her tightly and never let her go?
Why am I so afraid of having her in my life? I know I'm terrified that she will leave me, or realize that I'm not good for her, or just get tired of my shit and get fed up with me. It doesn't take much. I'm a really big jerk when I want to be.
I need to do some work on myself, to get behind the issues that trigger these stupid fears about the only good thing I've ever had in my life.
I need to talk to someone, but I have no one to talk too. Diana is too close of a friend; I don't want to burden her with my problems. Besides, she loves Grace so much and is so desperate to see us stay together that she could never be objective enough to sit and listen to my babble. Rick is too close to Grace to be impartial, and internal issues isn't exactly what partners discuss with each other at the station. So I guess Harry is out.
That leaves only one other option. I look warily into the kitchen, seeing the bright yellow phone book conveniently on the counter. Rick had it out last night when he was looking for realtors. Seems like he's kind of thinking of moving here. That would be cool for Grace.
I can't believe I'm doing this.
I shake my head, muttering to myself as I cross into the kitchen. Grabbing the phone book I open the yellow pages up to the Psychiatrist section. I run my finger down the names, looking for one that strikes me.
No men, I don't think I'd exactly feel comfortable talking about my worries about committing to a long-term lesbian relationship while sitting there wondering if Doctor Mister Feelgood was getting his jollies off while listening.
Yeah, yeah, I know. They're supposed to be impartial and all that bull, but I'm not buying it.
My finger rests on a Dr. Miranda Richards. Her office is in Beverly, and I see that she accepts my insurance. Bonus. She's close and free.
I write down her number on a piece of scrap paper and shove it in the drawer along with the phonebook.
I'll call her in the morning and try to set something up.
I feel pretty satisfied actually. Embarrassed and nervous about talking to a complete stranger about my problems, but satisfied regardless.
I head off to bed, the urge to cuddle close to Grace overpowering my smell. I'll just shower in the morning.
Part 7: Coming soon! Stay tuned and please email me with feedback!!!