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
That same night
Shane and Carmen sat in garden chairs on the deck staring at the renovated shed. They were astounded that Mark had managed to pack so much into it. He was still packing up boxes with books and filling Hefty bags with clothes after having disassembled his computer and his video and sound recorders. A few minutes earlier he had put his four large speakers into the back seat of his car.
Carmen and Shane had planned a full schedule including a visit to Tina, but Shane wanted to be certain Mark was out for good. He was moving in slow motion, grudgingly walking from the shed to his car, and back and with each trip he glanced over at them. He could have crawled, just as long as at the end, there would be no more Mark in her life.
The chairs were close and the women held hands, fingers entwined while their other hands each held a beer. He came out, turned the corner and leaned against the side of the shed facing the deck. He held a thick envelope. Carmen and Shane stared at him and he blinked nervously. Carmen gripped Shane's hand tighter.
Mark said the only thing he could. "Shit." He ran his fingers through his hair. "Shane, please."
Carmen stood. She didn't even have to think about it, she was ready to kick Mark's ass. She had taken half a step from the chair when Shane reached for her and pulled her back.
"Are you in love with her or do you want to be her?"
Mark said nothing.
"So you're in love with her. She's queer, Mark, a woman loving woman, lesbian. She's not into the pole."
"Shane, haven't I been there for you? When you needed someone, who did you call? All of your girlfriendsBette and Tina, Alice, Dana, Jenny, all your sex partners, none of them were gonna help you. You called me. Me," Mark shouted.
Mark couldn't shut up. "You know, you're so busy thinking the world is against you. I proved I'm not against you."
"Please," Carmen said sarcastically.
Mark waved the envelope at them. "Your brother is a mechanic at a place called "
"I swear. Shut the fuck up."
"Your mom. She's clean now. She's working. I've got her address." Mark opened the envelope and pulled out some of the papers. He looked down at them. She lives at "
Shane pulled herself out of the chair. Pleading eyes gazed at Carmen to free her from this.
"Name one friend who would have done what I did? Name one person who cares enough to go out there and find your family. Carmen would you?"
Shane frowned and pointed at him. "None of them would have. They don't think they know what's best. They accept that it's my life. It wasn't for you to do."
Shane turned and fled inside the house.
"Finish the fuck up, Mark." Carmen followed, leaving Mark still standing by the shed looking forlorn. He didn't understand women. Mark recalled how he thought stripping before Jenny would somehow even the score and that hadn't. There was nothing he could do to make it right with Shane.
It was almost eleven o'clock and Alice hadn't heard from Dana. She had called her cell phone dozens of times. At first it rang numerous times, but around the ninth or tenth call, it went directly to voicemail.
Alice flipped her phone open and pushed redial.
The phone vibrated inside her gym bag, but Dana paid no attention. Dana was leaning against the kitchen door that led to the alley. Lara was standing next to the refrigerator, about two feet from Dana. "God, Dana," Lara whispered. "I'd love to be able to just see you walk into the Planet and not want you the way I do."
Dana leaned on her hands that were between the door and her lower back. "When I see you, I feel something, too."
"Yeah, but you love Alice."
"I totally love her."
"Dana, I've wanted to keep you in my life. Making the meal plan was one way to do it, but it hurts me to see you with Alice. You're out and seem happy."
"I am happy with her. Usually."
"What do you mean?"
"She smothers me, Lara. You didn't do that. I was free to be me, but Alice wants me to complete her or something. I can't do that."
"But you love her?"
"She's my best friend."
"But is she the person you want as your lover?" Lara had moved closer and they were standing close, but not too close to accidentally lose themselves in something they weren't prepared to see through.
"When I'm with her, yes. But I think you and I need closure. I screamed at you, walked out on you, and it just hasn't been, you know, resolved."
"So are you saying that we just talk it all out and then really say goodbye?" Lara asked.
"No. I don't know." Dana stepped away, walked to one of the prep tables in the kitchen, and leaned on it. "When I'm with Alice and we're getting along, it's really good. We're good together."
"You know, Dana. You're already there with Alice. Why don't you try to make it work?" Lara understood the situation and was resigned to the outcome.
"What about you? What do I do about how I feel about you?" Dana breathed in, and tilted her head up to stare at the ceiling. "What do I do about this?" She lowered her gaze and turned to Lara with fear and more than a hint of longing.
Helena sat on the lanai of her beach house. She had just grabbed the blanket and wrapped it around her shoulders. The orange sarong and cropped T-shirt she had changed into hours ago provided no warmth.
Helena was alone looking out at the Pacific. Her legs were tucked up under her rear end in the comfy Gloster Plantation deep seating rocker. Sipping a glass of Krug Grande Cuvée, Helena considered her latest acquisition. Shaolin Film Studios was an exciting new project for her. Her mother had never involved herself in something so contemporary. The young woman had no idea what kind of films she'd produce, but she was going to take the film industry by storm. She'd make a name for herself and her studio. The sound of the ocean moving in waves all around her served as background noise, as Helena daydreamed about walking the red carpet on Oscar night, sitting in the Kodak Theatre, hearing Morgan Freeman or Nicole Kidman announce the winner of Best Film of the Year, a Shaolin Film Studios production. She saw herself popping up from her seat, kissing the person next to her, smiling happily, making her way down the aisle, up the steps, and grasping the Oscar with both hands as Producer of the winning movie. It was thrilling just thinking about it. Helena took another sip of wine, recognized the faint taste of honey and nuts, allowed it to slowly slide down her throat. She thought about Oscar night again and the person who'd sit next to her, the woman who'd give her a congratulatory kiss and she saw no one. There was no one who cared about her. Sure, she could find someone to attend with her, but it wouldn't be someone she wanted to share that special kiss with in front of several million people in the world. No, there was no one.
Helena could not keep a relationship to save her life. She was one of the wealthiest women under thirty-five years of age in the country; she was well-educated at the best schools in England, yet there wasn't a soul who loved her passionately, intimately, intensely. There wasn't a woman whom she felt matched her intellect and confidence. She hadn't found a lover whom she could conquer but who could sometimes overpower her. She wanted to have it all and that was her problem. Here she sat in this beautiful residence, a home that Bette Porter had described as the quintessential California beach house utterly alone. The view from every room was impressive. The décor was luxurious, high end, and remarkably comfortable and homey. It was inviting, yet she sat alone, facing an empty love seat with an opened bottle of one hundred and fifty dollar wine that only her mouth would taste.
This is why yoga had become important to her. It wasn't that yoga was the hip exercise to do, but Helena realized that she needed some inner peace. Her personality was cut-throat; she could be ruthless, but she had no intentions of changing that. That personality was well-suited for her business transactions. It got things done and done quickly. But she thought that she could and should make a slight change in her personal life. She needed to learn how to be less demanding in romance, in the bedroom, in love. She had to find that place.
Helena hadn't been in Los Angeles long enough to have a reputation as a difficult lesbian; no one knew of the problems she had had with women in New York and London. She could start anew. Tina had been a calculated change of type for her. The blonde was a nurturer, a good-hearted woman who seemed to delight in kind gestures. She recalled that Tina was most impressed with a home-cooked dinner that Helena had created than the five thousand dollar dress Helena had purchased and insisted Tina wear to the awards dinner. Tina was different, but even that hadn't lasted and Helena had fallen into her old habits--tracking her down, demanding an audience, only to be told by Bette with a haughtiness that was both obnoxious and painful to hear that Bette and Tina were together and that Helena's stalking was pathetic and inappropriate. It had infuriated the heiress on many levels.
There was a time when she couldn't stand Bette Porter (her mother's little pet project) and no matter what Helena had done to her, Bette had recovered and come back stronger. Helena brought in Leo to do CAC fundraising, basically usurping a large part of Bette's responsibilities and Bette dealt with it; Helena tried to keep Bette out of the process regarding the artist, Allyn Barnes' retrospective, but Allyn requested Bette as the curator for her exhibition; Helena seduced Bette's estranged lover and they became a couple, then Tina decided she wanted to start seeing Bette again. Helena had worked hard to get Tina as her prize and she was furious that Tina would walk away from her like that. It wasn't that Tina was the love of her life or even someone she believed she'd have a long-term relationship with, but she didn't expect Tina to be the one to end it. Helena ended relationships when she was ready. To make it all so much worse, when her mother should have shown Helena support, Peggy had laughed about the women's entanglements and treated Bette like a good, old friend, all the while making her daughter feel foolish and misguided. Bette had been a thorn in her side, but Helena wouldn't have wished this heart break with Tina on anyone. Also, all of the hating she threw at Bette had grown old and boring. She didn't feel it any more and had recently accepted the fact that she actually respected Bette Porter.
Helena finished her glass and poured another.
Alice had decided to delve into work all night. She placed a call to the editor at LA Magazine and one to Los Angeles magazine requesting an appointment to pitch an idea. She had worked for LA Magazine and had a good relationship with them. Los Angeles magazine knew her work and had at one time offered her a position at their offices. She called an old journalism friend who worked for Sunset magazine and left a message asking if she had any contacts in the Bay area or central California in the magazine and newspaper business. She was going to get at least one job out of these parenting stories.
After making the calls, she got back to work on her computer. She surfed the Internet, took notes, read forums where people asked questions about formula, nipple pain, allergies to mother's milk, lactation classes, another forum talked about working mothers, women who were taking extended leave from work, and others returning to their jobs three weeks after delivery. Alice hopped from site to site and filled several legal pads with ideas. She emailed a few people, never identifying herself as a writer or reporter, but just another mom with questions. She thought she might find some good interview subjects in this vast group of parents and childhood development experts.
Always the consummate multi-tasker, Alice was listening to her iPod, watching CNN, working on several articles, staring at the clock, wondering if she should call Dana again, and had her Instant Messenger program open in case one of the people she had emailed responded. It was 1:15 and she doubted Dana would show. Dana was angry and was probably blowing off steam in the gym. Alice was going to be coolnot clingy, not needy, not so totally lesbian.
The sound for her Instant Messenger was muted, but she saw the program flashing on her task bar. She opened it up and saw that one of the people had responded to her. She and the other person talked briefly about parenting and how invaluable these sites were so that new parents didn't feel like they were overwhelmed or losing their minds. The two agreed to chat again and signed off.
When Alice looked up again from her research, it was two a.m. Now, it was she who needed to blow off steam. Dana was supposed to be her lover. They weren't in some casual dating relationship, they were a couple. Even if she wasn't going to come over, she should have returned her calls. "Damn it," Alice whined aloud. "Damn it."
Shane was wearing jeans and a plain black sweatshirt. Carmen was also in jeans, but wearing a message long-sleeved T-shirt. This tee was chosen with Mark in mind. It was all black with bold white letters that read, "Yeah, I'm a bitch, so fucking what?"
Shane was standing in the doorframe with her arm around Carmen's shoulders. "I don't know how I'm going to pay two-thirds of the rent. Mark and I were splitting Jenny's portion. I'm not going to be able to swing it."
"What if I moved in? What do you think? You know, just to help you out. I could take his place."
Shane's smile was as bright as it had been all day. "I'd like it a lot if you moved in, Carmen."
"You don't think it's too soon? You wouldn't feel like I was messin' with your game."
"Yep." Shane nodded. She had been thinking about this and to her surprise realized she wanted it. "You don't have to stay in the shed. That would be totally wacked."
Carmen laughed. "Maybe not. It could be fun. A little role-playing. You could call me into the big house to service your needs."
"I want you in the big house."
"That could work, too. So, it's a deal." She stuck out her hand and they shook on it.
"Deal," Shane said.
Carmen lifted Shane's hand and kissed it. She looked into Shane's eyes and felt love. She wondered when Shane might tell her or if she ever would. She didn't ask about that, but continued discussing living arrangements. "I probably should take the shed, though. Sometimes practicing my beats can get loud."
"Okay, your turntables and speakers and mixer in the shed; you in my bed."
Carmen laughed and they watched Mark pack.
"Can I ask you something, Shane?"
"Do you really not want the information he found?"
"I really don't."
She started off cautiously, clearing her throat before beginning. "You know, there was nothing that I read that I hadn't guessed. I know things were rough for you for a long time."
Shane stared straight ahead.
"What you were has nothing to do with who you are now? You're not abusing or turning tricks." She paused before adding, "I love being around you."
Shane pulled her tighter into her body, giving her a one-armed hug while they watched Mark put another box into his car that was parked in the driveway. Shane's eyes never left him. He felt the intensity of the stare and looked at them standing on the deck.
"I don't know if this is the end of Mark. Maybe we should file for a Restraining Order," Carmen suggested.
"I don't want anymore drama."
"It's about safety, Shane."
"He doesn't get the whole boundary thing. Guys like that get outta control when they don't get what they want."
"He's leaving. He'll leave us alone."
"You've been out there. You know what goes down. He's not going to just walk away."
Shane shook her head.
"What if he comes after you? After me? He's leaving to re-group. I got cousins just like him. They know what's best for their women."
"You're like your cousins." Shane tweaked Carmen's nose with her hand.
"What? Did you just say you're my woman? Ah, Shane."
"I don't think I said that."
"Oh, you did. You totally did."
Mark entered the shed one last time, grabbed a hefty bag probably filled with clothes, flicked the light bulb cord, and the shed went dark.
"We could get a dog."
Carmen grinned at her. "I love dogs. A friend of mine has a Pit that's about to deliver
a litter. Maybe we could get one of them. I'll call her."
It was 2:00am and he was finally finished. Mark pushed the bag in the trunk, closed it, and turned back toward the deck. He stood in the driveway and said, "I uh I've got the keys."
Shane looked away from him, but Carmen held up her hand and said, "Don't come up here. Toss 'em."
"I'm so sorry," he reiterated.
Carmen gave him the finger. Mark turned, walked to his car, hopped in the driver's seat and started the vehicle. He backed out of the driveway and out of their lives.
It was now 2:37 in the morning and still no word from Dana. Alice picked up the phone and called Dana's landline. She expected the voicemail to pick up, so sure was she that Dana was either at Lara's place or in her own bedroom having sex with the ex. She found herself stumbling over her words when a husky-voiced Dana answered. "Hullo."
"Dane. Hi. I waswhy didn'tdid you get my messages? I left like a gazillion. Are you okay? I thought we were goingwell, are you still mad at me? Dana "
"Al, it's almost fucking four in the morning. I was asleep."
"Are you mad at me?" Alice whispered.
"Yes. Of course, I am. I'm really pissed off. I was serious when I said I felt violated."
"Dana, I've been calling all night. I didn't know if you were dead somewhere beside the road or in a hospital or what? Why didn't you call me back?"
Dana yawned. "I don't want to be around you right now, Alice. I mean it."
"When do you think you will, Dana? Can I see you tomorrow?"
"I don't know, Al. I was sleeping," she said groggily.
"Jesus. Gyad. Goodnight." Dana fumbled with the phone as she tried to place it in the cradle. She finally placed it securely in the cradle, turned over, and went back to sleep.
Alice was dying inside. She disconnected her end of the conversation, too and flipped the phone off. Dana hadn't apologized. She didn't care if Alice had been worried and scared that something terrible had happened to her. Dana wasn't troubled that they had problems in their relationship. She was at home sleeping while Alice was awake, drinking coffee, writing like a maniac to calm down. Dana was slipping away. Alice was certain of it. They hadn't made love in days. That was part of the problem. Dana was the best lover she'd ever had. Her best friend was also her best lover. The connection was extreme in bed, it was unearthly. She loved how Dana touched her and more than anything, she loved going down on her and eating her out until Dana would moan and have the enviable female ejaculation. Alice closed her eyes and thought about how Dana tasted, how slick and wet she'd get, the feel of Dana squirting into her mouth, and the way Dana would always hold onto Alice's hand, squeezing it tight as she came hard.
Alice glanced at her laptop and saw the flashing of the IM program. She clicked to restore the screen and saw that it was the person she had spoken to earlier. Alice had made up a screen name for anonymity as she researched her articles. The person who was IMing her was the founder of the Father's Projectsingle fathers with full custody of their children. There last conversation had just been about children and parenting, but that was hours ago.
She wondered if the guy she had spoken to earlier realized that he was chatting with someone from the parenting list and not some porn chat line.
Tell me what you want.
To talk to other parents. Not this.
Yes, you do.
You want me to fuck you.
Alice stared at the words on the screen and smirked. She typed.
You're gross. I totally don't.
My cock is hard.
Tell me you want me inside you
Alice was repulsed and probably should have just blocked the guy, but she felt compelled to let him know that he was a tool. The consequence of this was having to read more of his dirty chat.
You know you're delusional, right?
What do you look like? You're a lesbian mother.
Read Ur profile.
This guy was as stupid as a box of rocks. Granted, she had made up her profile and she wasn't really lesbian or a mom, but he didn't know that.
Then you know I'm interested in
childcare issues, not dick.
You're thinking about it now.
It's hard for you, Lindsey.
Don't you mean, Oooooh?
I want to stick it in you.
Alice rolled her eyes and she quickly typed,
Smooth and rock hard.
I'm holding it right now.
Is this what you do at 2:30 in the morning?
I'm fisting it. I've never been this hard.
Hello? Are you there?
Alice stuck her finger down her throat, making the universal gesture for wanting to vomit.
No, you fuck. I'm not here.
Go fuck yourself. Oh, I guess you are.
Alice logged off of Instant Messenger. She wanted it, but from Dana. She got up, went into the bathroom, and brushed her teeth. When she came out, she grabbed her bag and car keys and left the apartment.
Bette was having one restless night after another. Angelica slept in bed with her and for the most part slept soundly. It was Bette who'd wake up, check to see if she was breathing, spend long moments staring at her, and then try to sleep again. She hadn't had a full night's rest in weeks. The last few nights she'd taken to drinking a cup of chamomile tea, just before going into the bedroom. It was supposed to relax her, but it wasn't working.
She missed Tina beside her. Their bed seemed larger without both of them in it. Bette reached over to Tina's pillow and caressed it, imagining Tina facing the door, then turning to look into Bette's eyes, her smile capturing Bette, pulling her in, and holding her safely.
If only she had tried talking to Tina when Bette needed her most--when they lost the first baby; if only she hadn't gone crazy and let Candace fuck her; and if only she had come to her senses and tried to reconcile with Tina earlier instead of going back to get easy, emotionless sex from Candace over and over. Bette shook her head, inhaled, and smelled Tina's scent and the baby smell of Angelica. Why had Bette done everything so wrong? Her mistakes allowed Helena to charge in and take the one she wanted most. It was her fault. No matter what the doctors told her, if Tina hadn't been stressed during her pregnancy, Angelica and Tina wouldn't have been in jeopardy. She was to blame for Tina's situation. Her fault. Her fault.
Bette went through all of the 'what ifs' nightly. These were always her last thoughts before she finally drifted off into a fitful night's sleep.
It hadn't been long that she had fallen into a deep sleep, before she was awakened by the telephone ringing. She glanced at the clock and saw that it was 3:52 in the morning. Her heart began to beat hard and fast. Something had happened to Tina. Please don't let it be Tina, Bette thought. She contemplated not answering. She didn't want any bad news.
The phone rang again and Angelica stirred. Bette reached for the phone. "Hello."
"Hi. Bette Porter."
"Yes?" The person sounded friendly yet formal. She wondered what telemarketer in their right mind would call at four in the morning. She was incredulous. "I'm on the 'Do Not Call,' list," Bette stated with irritation.
The woman on the other end laughed. "This is Theresa Kennard, Tina's Mama."
Bette recognized the soft southern accent, sat up and switched on the low wattage lamp next to the bed. "Hi, Mrs. Kennard. How are you?"
"I'm doin' well, Bette. I'm sorry I haven't spoken with you in a good long while. How's my little girl?"
"Tina?" Bette was still pulling herself out of the fog of sleep.
"She's the same. I've found a good facility for her. Her doctor is one of the best in Los Angeles."
"Well, we're on our way out there. I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to arrange everything here. You must think we're the worst people "
"No, not at all."
"And you must need a break. Tina's sister, Stephanie and I are at the airport waitin' to board. We should reach LA around one this afternoon-- your time. We have a layover in Dallas-Fort Worth."
Bette reached for the pen and paper. "That's great," she said. "If you give me your flight information I'll pick you up."
Theresa Kennard recited all of the pertinent information to Bette who quickly scratched it on the notepad.
"Uh-oh. Sounds like we're startin' to board, honey. I need to run."
"Okay, I'll see you later today. Have a safe flight. Your granddaughter can't wait to meet you."
"And we can't wait to see the latest little Kennard. I just know she looks like my husband's family. That Kennard gene is a strong one," Theresa Kennard said. "Bye now." She hung up.
Bette put the phone down and turned to look at Angelica sleeping peacefully beside her. "It just keeps getting better, Angelica."
DaddyOf2 (Season 3, Episode 3)
Otto, the dog (Season 3, Episode 3)
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