DISCLAIMER: Paula is mine, but the rest are not. The L Word and all it entails belong to Ilene Chaiken and Showtime.
SPOILERS: The first season. I takes place immediately after the final episode, and was written without looking at season two spoilers.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I wasn't sure about Clea's age, so I've written her as being around 17.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Fall and the Getting Back Up
Ringing penetrated Shane's unconscious state, indicating that hearing would be the first sense to wake up this morning. Unfortunately taste seemed to quickly follow, and the acrid mixture of alcohol, cigarettes and possibly something dead coating her mouth started her stomach churning and she wondered if she was going to be sick. She peeled her tongue from the roof of her mouth to let out a long almost whining groan, and then she heard the ringing again. 'Ringing phone fuck, it's probably Al should answer.' Realising that if she didn't answer Alice would keep ringing, Shane rolled toward the phone with some effort, and blindly groped for it knowing she would need to work up to opening her eyes. But instead of the phone her hand found... 'SKIN!!!' All plans for the 12 steps to eye opening flew south as her eyes snapped open. "What the fuck!"
The combination of a slap in the face and Shane's scream in her ear jarred Lara awake alerting her to the ringing phone, which she automatically picked up before turning to look at Shane. If she hadn't needed to focus on the phone call Lara probably would have burst out laughing at the comically confused expression on her bedmate's face.
"Hello?" Lara enquired into the phone, sitting up a little causing Shane's hand to slip down to her chest. She looked down at it, drawing Shane's attention to the hand, which was now palming the redhead's t-shirt covered breast. Horrified, she snatched it back and sat looking down at the hand trying to will herself to remember what happened after they left the bar, but she couldn't seem to recall past getting into the truck. Lara finished the short conversation with her friend on the phone explaining that she hadn't ended up needing to call them for a ride after driving Shane home. She hung up the phone, sat up fully and turned to face the dishevelled brunette, waiting for Shane to look at her.
Taking the silence as a sign that she was expected to speak Shane looked up slowly and tried to fix her casually cool façade in place and maybe retain some dignity. Figuring that a quick general apology for whatever it was she had done, followed by an equally hasty retreat was the best tactic, she opened her mouth and prayed for coolness. "I ah, I'm " She cleared her throat and looked up at Lara hoping for some help. Lara just continued to watch Shane, raising one eyebrow in question, a hint of amusement sparkling in her blue eyes.
Realising her dignity was shot, Shane decided on a different tactic; plucked up her courage, plastering what she hoped was a look of confident aloofness on her face and started her old spiel. "Mornin'." Lara smiled in response, her forehead crinkling slightly as she tried to figure out what was going on in Shane's head from the strange wash of expressions crossing her face.
Shane thought the reaction was encouraging, 'Ok, smiles are good, you can do this, Shane, you're not that out of practice, tell her it was great, she was great, and then get the hell out of here.' Taking a deep breath she continued, "Look, thanks for last night. It was great, I really enjoyed it, but I should get going." Climbing out of bed she saw her pants folded neatly on a chair in the corner and her boots sitting equally neatly under said chair. Though it seemed a little odd Shane let it go in her need to get out of this situation and home as soon as possible. She grabbed the pants and quickly pulled them on, then sitting down she yanked her boots on sans socks and stood, shoving her hands in her back pockets in a deliberate display of cool sexiness she added, "I'll call you." She turned to grab her jacket and moved toward the door with her trademark gait, but a sudden burst of laughter stopped her in her tracks.
Whirling around she saw Lara flop back in bed laughing loudly. After a moment she seemed to calm a little but one glance at the look of utter bewilderment on Shane's face and her resolve crumbled. Holding her stomach she rolled onto her side and curled into a ball as she lost control completely.
"What? What's so fucking hilarious?" Shane bit out, knowing she was the butt of the joke somehow and not liking it at all. Lara just continued to gasp and giggle as she tried to contain herself so she could speak, but Shane had had enough. "You're fucking crazy. I'm outta here. Just don't stalk me or anything, ok." She moved toward the door muttering, "And I thought I had a problem with girls crying, geez."
"You have absolutely no recollection of last night do you?"
Shane tried to look a picture of confidence. "Yeah I do. You saw me at the bar, offered to drive me home, and I accepted."
Lara grinned as she sat up, wiping tears of laughter from her eyes. "Ok, then how come we're at my place?"
Rifling through her head for the logical answer Shane replied, "I have roommates." Then remembering something else she muttered, "Not that that seemed to be problem for you in the past."
Noting the reference Lara blushed slightly before sobering her expression, adding a twinge of regret for effect, "You really don't remember, do you? You came back to my place and spent the night, well morning, in my bed and you don't even remember."
Shane paled even more than her churning stomach had already made her and tried to scramble together a recovery. "Ah, yeah I um, I'm not ahhh I was a little fuck!" Lara just looked on with a neutral expression, wondering how she could look so shockingly hungover and dishevelled, and so utterly sexy at the same time. Shane dropped her head to her chest and admitted, "I'm sorry, but I don't remember anything."
Taking pity on her Lara got out of bed revealing that she was wearing baby blue pyjama pants along with the white t-shirt. "Shane," she said quietly getting the brunette to look up. "You passed out in the truck before I could get directions, so I brought you here to sleep it off." She smiled at the obvious look of relief that appeared on Shane's face as the shame washed away. "My couch is very uncomfortable, and I figured you couldn't be that dangerous passed out," she explained further with a knowing grin.
Shane just shook her head with a wry smile. "Man, I'm really sorry; I just woke up, didn't remember and went into damage control. You wouldn't believe how many times that approach has worked in situations like that. Actually this is the first time it hasn't."
"Yeah, well there's a first time for everything."
"So it would seem," Shane murmured quietly.
Now that the situation had been resolved Shane's stomach reminded her of its anger, as did her head. She closed her eyes and briefly massaged her brow before looking at Lara. "Thankyou for everything, but I really should get going."
"No, you're staying," Lara stated in that same no-nonsense voice from the bar. "You look like shit, Shane. You're hungover, maybe even still drunk or high or whatever, you've had four hours sleep after being up for god knows how long, and I wouldn't even want to guess when the last time you ate was." Shane didn't offer any answers or arguments knowing she had seen through her. "So you're going to have a shower, because frankly you're a bit ripe, you're going to borrow some clean clothes, eat whatever I feed you, and then you're going back to bed for some serious sleep," she stated. No-one had ordered Shane around like this in a long time, and the last time it hadn't ended well anyway, but for some reason something about this woman broke down her strong facades and halted any of her hard-headed arguments. Lara had been expecting some sort of opposition, but when she got none she continued, "Maybe then you will feel like talking about what had you drowning your sorrows in a dark bar and willing to risk your life driving home." That statement did get a reaction from Shane, but before she could object Lara started toward the door pointing to another door off the bedroom. "The bathroom is through there, the towels are clean, you can borrow some jeans and a shirt or whatever you find that fits. Any preferences for breakfast?"
Trying to catch up Shane didn't answer for a moment, still somewhat dazzled by how this amazing woman was taking care of everything, of her. Without much fuss or dispute she had taken over, and taken away the stress and pressure of how she was going to function with this knot in her stomach and the wounds to her heart. Now she had a plan, a step by step plan, starting with a shower, and some part of her liked that, a lot. She shook her head to Lara's question and let her eyes linger as she exited the room, then she turned toward the bathroom, 'Right, step one.'
Alice rolled onto her back with a small frustrated moan, and she glanced at the clock, '10.47am'. Realising she'd barely had four hours sleep she stuffed her pillow over her face intent on going back to dreamland. A light knock at her bedroom door changed her mind, 'Tina shit '. Remembering what had happened she croaked, "Mmm hmm, come in."
"Hey Al, good morning, sorry to wake you," Tina said quietly, only her head entering the room, feeling a little rude waking Alice after everything that she'd done already.
Alice sat up, concerned. "No, that's ok, are you alright? Sorry I left you on the couch, but you were pretty much out."
"Yeah, I think I wore myself out, but it was fairly comfy anyway. Um thanks Al, for last night, I was a bit of a mess and I'm sorry for just dumping on you, but, um, thanks," Tina rushed through the sentence, hoping the pace would stop the tears that kept threatening to break free. 'God, I am so sick of crying, isn't there a limit or something?' she wondered when she remembered the reason for knocking. "Oh, sorry, Dana's here, she wants to talk to you, should I just send her in?" Not even considering Alice would answer anything but yes she turned to call to Dana before the other woman could comment.
"Hey, no wait, I," Alice fumbled, but Tina had already moved off. She quickly looked down at her white tank and cotton boxers, wiped a hand across her face trying to look awake, and then ran her hands through hair, but it was a lost cause. She looked up to see Dana appear in the doorway, 'Fuck, I am so not ready to deal with this oh god, she looks like she hasn't slept. What the hell am I doing?'
Dana walked into the room and closed the door, she felt tired and confused, and she just wanted Alice to explain everything so that she could at least get things straight in her head. She had only gotten around two hours sleep before Alice's visit, and there was no chance of sleep after that, instead she had laid in bed and tried to work it out, and the only conclusion she had come to was that it changed everything. She wasn't sure how exactly, but it had definitely changed. After four hours of thought she came to the decision that she couldn't marry Tonya, regardless of what happened with Alice, the kiss had made it clear she was settling for something less if she stayed with Tonya. That's what she had spent the last two hours telling her now ex-fiance, and she hadn't taken it very well at all. But when she had realised Dana could not be manipulated into changing her mind the instant bitter scorn and spiteful insults had shocked Dana and validated her decision. The whole morning had left her feeling drained and wounded, but she knew she needed to understand what was going on before she could rest.
She looked at Alice sitting cross-legged in the middle of her bed, the sheet pooled around her waist. Her hair was more than mussed and stuck out at odd angles, her eyes still showed drowsy signs of sleep, and there were crisscrossed lines on her left cheek from the pillow. 'God, she's so beautiful. Why didn't I see that before?' Dana thought to herself. Alice's eyes were downcast but her natural curiosity couldn't stop her from occasionally stealing a small glance at Dana as the silence extended.
"Alice, um, I think we should talk about what happened you know, last night, well this morning really, cause 4am is technically morning even though it's still dark um. What I mean is I think I need to know what happened I mean I know what happened, I think I mean yeah I do, I was there. But I need to know what it meant for you, and um what you want um, god I'm such a geek." Dana took a deep breath and closed her eyes, berating herself for being such a loser. "Look, Al, could you help me out here, I'm making an idiot of myself not that I don't all the time, cause I'm a dumb geeky athlete argh." she groaned in frustration, knowing she was starting to babble again. "Could you just say something, anything just I don't know god, I mess up everything." She stopped again and looked down as tears of frustration threatened.
Alice's eyes remained downcast for the duration of the bumbling speech, except for a couple of sneaked glimpses. Despite the seriousness of what Dana was trying to convey the blonde couldn't help the small smile that crept onto her face at the fumbling adorable babble she was being subjected to. 'God, it's just so Dana, and so unintentionally cute. If only she could see that the geeky parts make her more beautiful, and that I love that about her.' She could see that the situation was too much for Dana to work out in her need to keep things simple and manageable. But her own guilt over possibly being the Candace to Dana's relationship stopped her from simply telling Dana how she felt.
Clearing her throat she looked up at Dana and started, "Ok Dane, maybe we should talk, I didn't actually say much earlier, and I probably need to."
Dana snorted, a slightly goofy look on her face as she spoke without really thinking. "You said heaps actually, enough to change my life." Suddenly realising what she just said Dana looked up stunned. "I mean your actions spoke pretty loud ah, I " She cut herself off and closed her eyes, dropping her head, she tried to collect her thoughts. "What I mean, Al, is I think I need to know what your actions were really saying."
"What do you think they were saying?" Alice ventured shyly, not sure if she should answer honestly.
"No, Alice, I think I want you to tell me, that way I'll know for sure," Dana replied, Alice's tentative demeanour seeming to enhance her confidence. "Al, you kissed me, I need to know why you did that."
"You kissed me back, why did you do that?" Alice questioned back still avoiding the request.
"Why did you kiss me? Answer the question, Alice." Dana's eyes were now locked on Alice, but Alice was doing everything not to meet them. "Alice, please?" she pleaded softly. The request was whispered, but that didn't lessen its power.
Refusing to look up Alice just whispered, "Because."
Dana moved closer and carefully sat on the edge of the bed. In an effort to try and diffuse some of the tension and get Alice talking she replied quietly, "Yeah, you told me that much already." She reached out slowly and touched Alice's hand, gripping it lightly. "Alice?"
Alice finally looked up and Dana could see she was crying, but she gripped Dana's hand like she never wanted to let go. "Because " she choked and looked at the ceiling trying to clear the tears from her eyes as she gathered her strength. "I kissed you because." She looked Dana in the eyes and whispered her confession. "I love you."
Dana released the breath she had been holding and pulled Alice into her arms. Holding her so tightly, she whispered into Alice's hair just loud enough for the blonde to hear, "I love you too."
Hearing the words Alice held her just as tightly, nuzzling Dana's neck lightly, breathing in her scent and then sighed softly as Dana relaxed her grip. Alice pulled back and looked Dana in the eyes. "What about Tonya, I don't want to be the other woman, a woman who breaks up engagements, or seven year marriages, I "
Dana leaned in and tenderly kissed her, stopping that line of thought. She brought her hands up and gently wiped the remnants of tears from the blonde's cheeks, then with a smile she looked up at Alice's hair in its disarray, 'She's beautiful and she loves me god, I'm so lucky.' Dana's smile grew bigger and her hands traced over Alice's face, attempting to tuck her hair behind her ears before coming to rest on her neck, her thumbs gently brushing the blonde's pulse point. "Do you honestly think I could have been happy with Tonya when I'm in love with you?" She couldn't resist kissing Alice again before continuing, "That kiss "
"Kisses," Alice corrected with a slight gleam in her eyes.
Dana grinned back at her. "Sorry. Those kisses not only showed me that I loved you they also made it clear that I didn't love Tonya. Regardless of what was going to happen between us I realised I would never have been happy with Tonya, and I told her that this morning when I broke off the engagement."
"You broke off the engagement?"
"Yeah, of course I did," Dana answered incredulously. "Did you really think I would be here with you if I was still with Tonya? I would never do that; you know that, don't you?"
The look of confusion, tinged with hurt on Dana face had Alice gifting her with a light reassuring kiss. "Of course I know that. You are too honest and kind and adorably sweet to be anything but truthful about something like that." A loving smirk flashed across her face and she couldn't help but add playfully, "Once you're being honest with yourself that is."
Before Dana could comment further Alice quickly leaned in and kissed her again, but this time with a little more force and a lot more passion. Dana slipped her hands into blonde hair as she responded, trying to pull Alice closer, opening her mouth she brushed her tongue softly against her friend's lips. The blonde opened her lips and met Dana's tongue with her own as it slipped into her mouth; she moaned softly and tried to pull the brunette even closer, further into herself. Dana sighed almost inaudibly in response and gently tipped them backwards on the bed until they were lying in a tangled embrace of arms, legs, hands, and lips.
Dana broke the kiss to catch her breath and looked down at Alice who was equally breathless. "I almost can't believe this is real."
"I know, but it is," she smiled at Dana as she got her breathing under control. Looking steadily up at the brunette she asked, "Are you sure this is what you want? I mean, we're friends Dane, this is a big step, are you sure you want to take it?"
Wondering if Alice was having doubts Dana responded, "I think we've already taken it, Al. I mean everything's already changed, hasn't it? I know I want to try this, are you sure you want to?"
Alice saw Dana's insecurities cloud her face and she just smiled and reached up pulling the brunette into another kiss, letting her actions speak.
After a long passionate embrace they pulled apart again, both gasping for breath. A clattering sound from the kitchen reminded Alice of her houseguest and the rest of her morning. A little guilt washed over her at how happy she felt in spite of everything that was happening outside of her room. "Dane, I really want to just stay here all day, but there's stuff I we have to deal with. Our thing wasn't the only drama last night. When I got back from your place Tina was here."
As if just realising it had been Tina that answered the door and not Alice, Dana's brow crinkled in confusion. "What's going on? Why's Tina here, did something happen? I didn't even really notice when I came in, I wasn't paying much attention," Dana admitted, looking a little embarrassed at her lack of perception.
Alice just rubbed her arm comfortingly. "Hey, don't worry you had other things on your mind. But I should really go check on Tina."
Alice made to get up but Dana stopped her. "What's going on?" she asked imploringly, now starting to really worry. "Did something happen to Bette?"
"It's more like Bette did something. I don't know much, but I think Bette slept with Candace, that carpenter working at the CAC, and Tina found out last night," she explained quietly. "She was such a mess, and I wasn't much help."
Dana's jaw dropped and her eyes opened impossibly wide as she tried to comprehend this. "Oh my god!"
Alice rushed to quieten her, "Shhh, not so loud." If it wasn't so serious she might have laughed at the typically goofy Dana reaction, but this was serious. "We should go check on her, and maybe get some breakfast. Have you eaten?"
Dana shook her head and slowly untangled from Alice so they could get up. She was having trouble grasping what Alice had told her, but determined to help she stood up and held out her hand for Alice. They straightened their clothes and prepared to leave the room, and with a final kiss they did just that.
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