DISCLAIMER: In this story, there are scenes, bits of scenes, and dialogue taken from Season 2 and 3 of The L Word that both move the story along and explain events that unfolded. At the end of each chapter, I will identify what parts are directly from the television version.
SPOILERS: Spoilers for The L Word Seasons 2 and 3.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Laid Up: Another Season 3
By Portia Richardson
Three Weeks Later
Carmen awoke and reached out for Shane only to find cotton sheets cool to the touch beside her. Carmen sat up and listened. The house was dark and quiet. Looking over at the bedside clock she saw that it was only 4:45, not even dawn and her lover was up and about. Undoubtedly, she was with Jenny. Jenny's emotional state had become a full-time job for Shane. Her lover was always hovering over Jenny, asking her a hundred times a day if she was feeling okay; calling therapists all over Los Angeles. Jenny wasn't doing much for herself except acting helpless. Carmen liked Jenny. She used to be Jenny's lover, so she still had feelings for her, but she had waited a long time for Shane and she wanted her new and expert lover concentrating on her and her needs. Carmen pulled herself out of bed and padded across the floor. She tossed on the tank top and pair of bumble bee print boxers that were hanging on the doorknob. She opened the door and walked down the hall to the living room. Carmen saw what she had expected, what she had seen numerous timesShane was sitting up on the sofa, her arms wrapped around Jenny who was cradled in the embrace. Carmen walked around to the front of the sofa and took a seat across from them.
"I heard Jenny crying. It woke me," Shane whispered.
"We can't keep doing this. Jenny needs serious help, baby. You can't save her."
"We can't just walk away. We're friends. She's my roommate. We have a responsibility."
Jenny turned in Shane's arms and slowly woke. She looked up at Shane and then turned to see Carmen. Jenny sat up. "Hi," she said sleepily.
"How you doin'?" Shane asked solicitously.
"I'm sorry about this morning. I was having a nightmare."
"It's okay. I'm glad I was here." Shane kissed the top of Jenny's head.
But Carmen cleared her throat. "Jenny," she said distinctly, getting her attention. "Jenny, we are not equipped to deal with your your thing. We wish we could "
Shane's eyes went huge. She couldn't believe Carmen would say something like this. "Carm .?"
"Have you found a doctor or clinic? This is really not something we should have to try to figure out "
"Shane." She only said her name, but Carmen was requesting her lover's silence while she spoke to Jenny. "Jenny, you need help. I'm not being mean or cruel. Really, I'm not. We can't help you. Shane's not getting sleep. I'm not getting sleep. You're not getting any better."
Jenny sat all the way up and fell against the back of the sofa. "What do you want me to do?"
"What do you think you should do?"
"Maybe you should go back to Chicago for a while. Maybe your mom and dad will help you," Shane considered aloud.
"That's not an option," Jenny said softly.
Carmen stared at her, then turned to Shane. She pressed her lips together, biting down on them and then she sighed. "All righty. I'm going back to bed." She stood up and left the room.
"Shane, I'm so sorry. I don't want to encroach on your relationship with Carmen. I know you're just getting started. I'm sorry I cut myself and I'm sorry I'm having these dreams and disturbing everyone."
"Hey, Mark's sleeping okay out in the shed."
"Yeah, no matter what happens, Mark gets his 8 hours."
"Carmen's probably right," Jenny said softly. "I need something. I don't know what to do."
"Do you think you can talk to your Mom?" Shane didn't know what Jenny's history was, but she had a feeling her stepfather might have some involvement. Shane had spent a long time on the streets and saw the result of childhood sexual abuse. Jenny had all of the classic signs.
"Yeah, I could call her."
"I'm thinking you might need more than a therapist."
"What do you mean?"
"A clinic like Carmen said." Shane tried to sound nonchalant, but she heard the meaning in her own voice.
"You think I need an insane asylum?"
"No." Shane laughed. "No, no. I was totally not saying that."
"I think you're right." Jenny nodded her head, lost in her own scenario of life in a sanitarium. "I could rest, take long walks in the garden, play checkers, and do art projects, while listening to orderlies speak to me condescendingly. That should make me better."
"I think some in-patient like care would help you."
"I know. I am holding it together because of you, but I feel like like I'm spinning out of control and at some point I'll just spin out of the universe and not exist," Jenny confided.
"Carmen's right. We can't help you through that."
"I'm a burden."
"You're not Jen. It's just that your issues are bigger than us."
"There's a place in Skokie."
"Where's Skokie? Central Cal? Up North."
"It's outside of Chicago. The town where I grew up. There's a clinic."
"Maybe it's a good idea." Shane attempted a casualness that she didn't feel. She wanted Jenny to get help as soon as possible. She knew that seeing someone once a week was not going to be enough to help her. Jenny needed attention.
"It's three in the morning there. I'll call later this morning. I'll call my mom. I'll call."
Shane pulled Jenny to her and hugged her tightly.
Several hours later, Bette was seated at her breakfast table. She had set up what looked like a very busy officepapers were scattered everywhere. She wore her glasses and read through one page, moved it aside, looked at another, put it in a blue file folder, glanced at another and placed it inside a manila folder and continued through all the paperssome going in the blue, some in the manila, quite a few in a green folder, and others in a red folder. She stood and put the tea kettle on, opened the refrigerator, and took out a baby bottle of milk. Bette was wearing Tina's navy blue pin-striped pajamas and her hair was pulled back in a loose ponytail. Picking up a tri-folded brochure, Bette unfolded it and scratched her head as she read through it one more time. She sighed, shook her head, flung the brochure onto the table and dropped her head into her hands. Bette wasn't crying, but she wanted to. She couldn't cry. With all that had happened and was happening, she felt emptyout of tears, out of ideas, out of plans. The sliding door separating the kitchen from the backyard slid open and Alice entered. She saw Bette and moved to her quickly.
"Bette, oh, Bette. Sweetie, what's going on?"
Bette looked up. "Nothing's changed." Bette sat back and took a deep breath. "I always liked keeping a full plate, but this is just too much to deal with. With Angelica and Tina and dealing with "
"Is there anything I can help with?" Alice picked up a folder and looked at it. "What is all this?"
"Everything's color coded: The red folder is all CAC stuff--the buy-out agreement, my severance package. The manila folder is all about the second parent adoption process, actually the step parent adoption."
"California's domestic partnership law really changes it from second parent to step-parent adoption. Anyway, I've got copies of our applications, Tina's letter that fortunately she wrote a few weeks ago, Angie's birth certificate, The blue folder is medical stuff related to Tina and the hospital and the the Alice, am I making a mistake?"
Alice reached across the table and took Bette's hand. "No, you're not. It's not like your Dad, Bette. You have Angelica. You can't take care of both of them. Tina needs round the clock care."
Bette nodded. "Right. The green folder is all bank statements and my inheritance information. I suppose I'll be adding the green folder to the blue one."
"Are you going to be able to afford this?"
"Daddy left us well off. He had arranged everything. No probate, no fighting. Kit can buy the Planet outright now. I probably would have opened a gallery or something, but
Well, the best laid plans of mice and men
"And lezzies in West Hollywood." Alice tried to make Bette laugh, but Bette only shook her head.
"I'm supposed to meet Dr. Zambrano at the hospital in an hour. Angelica's asleep. She should wake up in about an hour. Are you going to be okay with her?"
"Bette, why do you ask me that every time I spend time alone with Angelica?"
"I lost my father. I've basically lost Tina
"Don't say that."
"I couldn't go on if something happened to Angelica." Bette quickly slipped papers into the various folders and stood up. "I have to get ready." She walked around Alice and headed toward the bathroom.
A tall woman with dark hair and porcelain skin casually walked down the sterile hallway, smiling at the nurses and doctors as if she belonged there. She slowed her pace as she reached the patient's door, glanced quickly up and down the hall, then pushed the door open, sliding in quickly.
Helena was shocked to see Tina lying so still in the bed. Her ex-lover had lost a great deal of weight and her skin was thin with blue veins so prominent that her arms looked like a road map. At a snail's pace, Helena walked to the bed and looked down at her. The British woman who was usually so poised was aghast at the image before her. She leaned down. "Hello, Tina. Can you hear me, darling?"
She straightened. "Tina, I saw your daughter at The Planet. She's quite lovely. I didn't actually meet her. Bette was holding her and I have a feeling she'd use a taser gun on me before she'd let me near your child. She's very protective. I know you don't expect to hear this from me, but I think she is making a wonderful mother."
Through this strange, gray thickness, Tina heard what sounded like Helena talking. She couldn't make out what was being said, but thought that Helena sounded so nice. She really was a good person and Helena had been there when she needed a friend the most. People didn't get Helena, but under that arrogant exterior, she was a gentle, delicate, and sweet person.
"I'm wondering if there's anything you need." She paused, for some reason anticipating a forthcoming answer from Tina. "I suppose I should speak with one of your doctors. I want you to receive the very best care. Despite what Winnie would have one believe, I can be quite generous with my exes." Helena looked at the flowers in the room and said to essentially no one, "Well, I'll keep my ears open, what about that? I'll step in if need be. You're probably wondering what happened to Leigh Ostin. She went back to New York. Back to Valerie. I reckoned she would. It was quite casual anyway. A bit of fun."
"All right, then, Tina. So, I'll stop by again, yeah?"
Dana was wearing a pair of navy blue shorts and a teal colored tank top. She was getting close to Alice's place, so started her cool down run. At the front door steps to the apartment building, she did a few stretches, loosening her hamstrings, stretching the tendons in her foot.
Dana's head whipped around and she grinned when she saw Lara standing behind her. Lara was wearing a tight white T-shirt and checkered black and white chef's pants, black clogs were on her feet.
"Hey, what are you doing here?" Dana tried to wipe the smile off her face, but it was useless. Whenever she saw Lara, she became excited, giddy, and everything around her faded away.
Lara was holding a blue notebook. "I know this is a bit unconventional, but I was thinking about your training. You know the few times that we've gone out, you've been so cautious about what you eat."
"Yeah?" Dana laughed.
"Well, I was reading some things on sports medicine and nutrition and then started experimenting and kind of came up with what I think is a great meal plan for youlots of great food, tons of flavor, the right amount of protein, little fat."
"I'd like to show it to you. Go over it. If you like it, I could be your personal chef."
Dana shrugged. "I don't think I need a personal chef. That's way too LA for me. I grab something at the Planet. You're cooking there, that's fine."
"I'll make something special just for you. No extra charge. Can I show you?"
"Sure. Sure, why not?" Dana turned toward the door, then back to Lara. "You wanna come in?"
"Right. Okay. Right." Dana walked up the steps and opened the door for Lara, then followed behind her. Dana had a feeling that Alice wouldn't approve of Lara being inside her apartment and the fact that she was there without Alice's knowledge really wouldn't sit well if she found outwhich she wouldn't.
"I'm going to catch a quick shower. Why don't you set up on the table?"
Lara walked to the computer table and opened the notebook, pulling out pages of the plan. She heard the shower go on and stared at the bathroom door. She took a step away from the table and honestly considered walking to the door, opening it, walking in on Dana, stripping down, and joining her. She imagined touching her soapy body, caressing that silky skin, and feeling Dana tremble against her. Suddenly, a lyric to one of hip-hop singer, Nelly's songs came to mind, We never had a problem getting' it done. Disagreed upon a lot, but da sex wasn't one. Instead, she turned back to her pages.
A few minutes later, Dana came out. A towel wrapped around her body, tucked in under her armpit. "It'll just take me a second."
"Okay. So Dana, you eat a good breakfast, right?" Alice shouted.
"Uh-huh. A coffee. Bran muffin. Piece of fruit," Dana answered from Alice's bedroom.
"A salad with broiled chicken, dressing on the side. Sometimes salmon instead of chicken," Dana called out.
"What's dinner like for you?"
"Blanched veggies, a couple of boiled eggs, maybe a small steak."
"That sounds really typical of a tennis player's eating habits if what I read is true."
"We're all basically on the same meal plan. It works."
"But I can offer you more more taste, more of everything," Lara said innocently.
Dana's ears didn't hear the innocence. What she heard was full of innuendo. She pulled another tank top on and tied the waistband of her shorts while thinking about the chef. Lara had offered her so much at one time. She just didn't know how to deal with it at the time. Funny, life. When she had her, she couldn't handle the lesbian pressure. Now that there was no pressure and no hiding, Lara could only be a friend even though her body was reminding her of what else she had been. She slipped on a pair of flip-flops and walked into the living room.
"So? What are you thinking? Double chocolate cake? A couple of donuts every morning? Fried chicken and waffles?"
Lara openly appraised her and Dana swore she saw Lara lick her lips. Oh, god, this is trouble, Dana thought. Still, she couldn't stay away from trouble. She crossed the room to the computer table and stood beside her, looking down at the pages. "This looks great."
Lara knew she needed to open her mouth. "Uh, yeah."
"Yeah." Surprised, Dana added, "Hey, Lara you wrote all of the nutritional information for the whole meal. Thanks. God, I can totally eat this. It's nearly calorie-free. But look at all this food."
Dana was bent and her head and neck were just below Lara's. Lara breathed in her scent and felt herself flush. "You're still wearing that fragrance? It's really spectacular on you. Really."
Dana turned her head and grinned at her. "Thanks." She cleared her throat and turned back to the meal plan. "There's a lot of variety in breakfast. Frankly, I'm sick of bran muffins and an apple or banana everyday."
"Well, I thought about you and what you might need."
"You think about me?" Dana asked intrigued, but it came out like a seduction.
Lara couldn't help herself. She had to touch her. Her hand came up to rest on Dana's back and she gently rubbed it, exhaling a breath of satisfaction to feel this back she was once so familiar with. Dana felt something, too and if she didn't extricate herself from it, she knew she'd end up leading Lara to Alice's bed. She stood up straight. "Lara?" she whispered.
"I'm sorry, Dana. I want to be your friend, but it's really hard. I still want you so much."
Dana loved Alice, she knew this, but she had strong feelings for Lara. Being with Lara wasn't like it was with Tonya. Tonya was overbearing and Dana felt like she was on an out-of-control ride with her, not really aware of where the ride was taking her, but unable to get it to stop. She and Lara had been romantic, fun, exciting, and different. Lara had been the first woman that Dana had truly wanted in a long time who wanted her just as much. It had been at the wrong time. If they had only started out a few months later, they would have had a relationship that worked. But she loved Alice. She really loved her. "If I hadn't screamed at you that day at the Club " Dana shook her head. "I'll never forget the look on your face. God, I was so pissed that you were acting hurt when all you were doing was hurting me. But I knew I was wrong, Lara. I so knew that you were right."
"I pushed it and shouldn't have." They had talked on this subject many times, but Dana kept apologizing and lobbing it over to Lara who would apologize, too, before sending the subject back to Dana.
"It was the push I needed." The two women were standing inches apart and if either one of them had moved their heads the space of a quarter, their lips would have met. When one moved in, the other moved back. Both knew that if the kiss happened, it wouldn't be the last. Finally, Lara stepped back, but kept the connection by lightly caressing the side of Dana's face with the palm of her hand. "I don't want to jeopardize our friendship. I should leave."
Dana's hand came up to not only hold Lara's in place, but to let her know that this touch held meaning for her, too. "Right. I like the meals. A lot. So, I think it would be cool to do this. I swear if I gain weight, I'll kill you." Dana grinned.
Lara let her hand drop to her side, but Dana held on to it. "You might gain some muscle, but frankly, Dane, you need some."
Kit sat in her office at The Planet. She was just starting her renovations. Her portion of Melvin's estate was more than she had predicted. He had been filled with such venom for her most of her life that she hadn't anticipated getting a dime from him. When she learned what he had left, she almost fainted. Her inheritance meant that she could get the bank out of her pocket once and for all. The Planet could be hers.
She sat at Marina's old desk signing checks. She ripped the last check out of her ledger and smiled. This was the first time in her life that she wasn't worried about money. She had a nest egg that she wouldn't deplete and her new business was the exception to the ruleit was making money hand over fist. She couldn't complain.
She found the architect she wanted and showed her the plans she had envisioned when she first bought the space. The architect understood that vision and was working with her to make it a reality. She was renovating the public bar and café space, adding a larger, sturdier stage area, opening up what had been a small deck for outdoor seating, and she was reworking Marina's old office. Kit's private room was turning into a multi-purpose space. It was her office where there were files in fancy cabinets, a desk that had held beautiful oak accessories for office supplies, a nice sofa-sleeper was brought in for the many late nights she anticipated when The Planet became a club in the evenings. She decorated this room with Afrocentric arthandwoven baskets and sandstone sculpture were placed on shelves, paintings and photographs of African villages, groups of women, and the Serengeti were on the walls. She was waiting to receive furniture from this Ghanaian importer. Kit had toured in Africa years ago and had fallen in love with the warm colors and styles she saw in the homes of the people of Ghana. Last week she ordered chairs, a bench, some side tables and three wooden CD holders. She doubted her sister would appreciate her own version of an artistic eye, but this was her space, not Bette's.
Her life had always been complicated and mixed-up while her younger sister's had been controlled and followed a well-constructed path. Now, she was the one who seemed to have it together while Bette struggled with unemployment, a newborn, and a very ill girlfriend.
Bette arrived at the hospital and saw that the nurses had already gathered much of Tina's belongings and well wishes and placed them on the two tables in the room. Bette, dressed in a white tunic with embroidered flowers and a pair of jeans walked to the bed. "Hi, baby. How are we doing today? Ready for the big move?" Tina lay perfectly still in the bed. "When I told Angelica I was coming to see you, I swear her eyes lit up, Tee. I can't wait for you to see her." Bette stared down at her lover. Nothing was registering, that much was clear. It was hard for Bette to try. She was a results-oriented woman. Each day, there was no result to witness. Each day was the same thing. She shrugged and moved to the table and began filling the two empty boxes that someone had been kind enough to leave for her. She placed the dried flowers in the boxes and dropped the nearly dead bouquets into the trash. She packed up the iPod and the docking station, threw magazines into the box, too. The toiletries were still in the bathroom and she went in to retrieve them. When she returned into the room, she was surprised to see Dr. Zambrano and another white-coated person, a man.
"Oh, hi." Bette walked over to the box and dropped the jars, tubes, and containers in.
"Bette, good to see you." Dr. Zambrano shook Bette's proffered hand firmly. "Bette, I'd like you to meet Dr. McPherson. He'll be taking over Tina's care at the West Los Angeles Neurotrauma Rehabilitation Center.
Bette looked him over. He was tall with broad shoulders, slim waist, and a pleasant smile. She saw gentleness in his eyes and compassion. He shook her hand. "Nice to meet you, Bette. I want you to know that Tina will get the best care. We have all state of the art equipment. We're not just going to turn her every hour or so. She'll have real physical therapy, all sorts of brain stimuli exercises daily, her medical treatment and medications will be monitored minute to minute."
"Thank you. Your brochure was very detailed. I like the way you go about dealing with this sort of thing."
Dr. McPherson nodded, but Bette thought she detected a slight frown in response to her last comment.
"What I mean is that I've read about other hospice/daycare facilities and they seem to be more of a holding or storage unit and not interested in the patient as a person, per se."
"Uhmm. That's true for many, I suppose. No one on our staff questions a patient's status as a human being. They are treated like vital people one hundred percent of the time. We have a very good success rate. A coma such as this gives me hope for a speedy recovery with very little damage."
"Bette, that's the key word here. Hope. We are all very hopeful and you should hang on to that, too," Dr. Zambrano added.
"It's not easy."
"No, it's not. I can't put myself in your shoes, but I have been around this situation many times. I know things seem dark now, but you have to be positive." Dr. McPherson's voice was deep, rich, and very masculine.
Bette confided, "That's especially hard when I think I don't know." I think she's punishing me."
Dr. Zambrano's eyebrows lifted. "Why would you think that?"
"I " Bette looked at Tina, looked at the doctors, then glanced at the wall before returning her gaze to the two in white coats. "Tina and I had some troubles, some problems. We had a rough patch and were putting our relationship back together. I just feel that maybe it was too soon and there's still resentment. Maybe she refuses to be part of my world because she's angry and punishing me."
"Ridiculous. It's hard for you to understand, but Tina is here and hearing you. If she could communicate, she'd tell you that you're wrong and shouldn't blame yourself." Dr. McPherson said.
Bette shrugged. She was at a point where she just didn't have anything to say. Words meant nothing.
Later that afternoon, Alice turned the key in her lock and pushed the door open. "Dana! Dane." No answer.
Alice walked down the hall carrying her big bag and a stack of mail. She glanced through the envelopes and tossed them on the hall table. Although she loved every minute she spent with Dana, she was glad to have a break. Angelica had exhausted her and she was a low maintenance kid--all she did was cry a little and ask for a bottle. Baby's are work. Alice sat on the sofa, pulled out a bottle of Aquafina from her bag and gulped down half of it. She took a deep, relaxing breath and looked around her apartment. Her eyes lighted on the bookcase in the back of the room and the small "Nannycam" she had purchased for Tina and Bette. She had set it up yesterday to check its functionality before giving it to Bette. Alice, stood and walked over to the camera hidden inside of a stuffed anteater. She removed the camera from the belly of the anteater and hooked it up via the USB on her laptop. She opened the camera program and sat and fast forwarded through video of an empty living room. Bored, Alice picked up a folder of possible stories to write for freelance jobs. She shuffled through and found one interesting story and began reading the documentation. Suddenly, something caught her eye on her screen. She turned to see video of Dana entering the apartment with Lara. Alice clicked pause and stared at the image. The two women were laughing. Lara looked like she belonged there. She hit play and the video started again. It looked like Dana directed Lara into the living room, but she didn't enter. Alice saw Lara standing over her computer table, moving Alice's papers aside as she put her own papers on the table. Alice turned to her table's surface and stared at it as if it held some secrets. Back to the video, she fast forwarded to capture Dana's return. Dana was wearing different clothes and her hair was damp. She had showered with Lara in the apartment, knowing that Lara knew that Dana was naked, just rooms away. Something in Alice grew cold when she saw Dana move forward, bend next to Lara, stare at the pages on the table, and then Alice's heart ached when she saw Lara possessively put her hand on Dana's back. She was mesmerized. She couldn't and wouldn't turn away or turn it off. They were a few hair breaths away from each other. God, please don't let them kiss. Don't let them kiss. Dana stared into Lara's eyes and Lara didn't turn away. Alice could feel the chemistry building even on the video. She watched in disbelief as Lara's hand moved up, caressed Dana's cheek, and a tear fell from Alice's eye when she saw Dana reach for that hand. Lara had long left the apartment and the video, but the images from the Nannycam continued as Alice stared at the screen without seeing it. She was only stirred from her inaction when she heard the door opening.
"Al. I'm home." Dana entered the room looking happy.
"Hi," Alice said weakly.
"Hey, how's Angelica."
"Fine. Where were you?"
"I was at The Planet having lunch. I left you a message at Bette's."
"I didn't get it."
Dana had walked down the hall and was well into the living room. "What are you doing?"
Alice slammed the screen lid of her laptop down. "Nothing. Working."
Dana smiled, but it was guiltily. Alice was acting funny. Dana berated herself for having a face that gave everything away; she had a feeling Alice knew Lara had been up here.
Dialogue: "I think she's punishing me" Bette tells the doctors (referencing S3, Episode 01, Bette talking to the sex expert.)
Helena's shift in personality when she speaks to the comatose Tina (referencing all of S3)
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