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
Later that morning
Bette and Angelica skipped sing-along class because Bette wanted to spend some quality time with Tina before the Kennards arrived. She knew that it would be an emotional time for Tina's mother. What mother wants to see their child in such a state? Tina and Stephanie had been close as children and young adults, but the sisters had moved in different directions as they pushed into their twenties. Stephanie stayed close to home, working at Duke University and a social life that revolved around the Research Triangle while Tina headed for Los Angeles the same month she graduated from the University of North CarolinaChapel Hill. Thousands of miles separated them, but Tina and Stephanie spoke by phone and emailed regularly. It was going to be hard on Tina's sister, too.
This was one of the reasons Bette had been reluctant to have their friends visit. She wasn't certain it was something Tina would wanttheir friends seeing her with an IV feeding tube, a catheter in her side for waste products, if she was having a difficult day, they'd see a ventilator connected to a breathing apparatus, and there was the ever-present tank of oxygen beside the bed. This wasn't Tina. So far, everyone who had been by had dealt with the image of the once vibrant Tina in this condition. She hoped Tina's sister and mother would do as well. Tina didn't need emotional turbulence around her.
Bette pushed Angelica into Tina's room, moving the Blue Bugaboo Frog stroller beside Tina's hospital bed. Bette walked over to Tina who was lying on her side (a nurse having turned her earlier in the morning), and greeted her. "Morning, Tee. I've got some good news for you. Your mom and sister will be here in just a few hours. They can't wait to see you. You look good, baby." Tina's doctors had seen some basic improvement and had taken Tina off of two coma medications--one that kept brain swelling down and the other that controlled abnormal electrical neuronal activity/seizure-- and up to now, there had been no change good or bad that was outward. The anti-seizure medicine tended to make patients hallucinate, but Bette was unaware if Tina had been afflicted with hallucinations or dreams. The one thing that surprised Bette was that Tina's expression was not one of someone carefree, but for several weeks, she looked like she was puzzling over somethingnot worried, but a tad confused.
There were many things that had become routine for Tina and Bette at the hospital and now at the rehab center. After stepping on the foot brake of the stroller, Bette crossed to the other side where she placed the three extra pillows in the room at the head of Tina's bed, then slowly, she dragged Tina's body up and propped her against them. Bette always had to be careful not to upset the assortment of medical machinery hooked up to her. She glanced over at Angelica who stared into space apparently fascinated beyond reason with the low lights and acoustical tiles on the ceiling. Next, Bette took Tina's arm and removed it from the arm hole of the tank top she wore. She raised the tank top to just above Tina's chest and prepared Tina's breasts for Angelica by using the Massage-Stroke-Shake method she had been taught by the nurses and lactation specialist.
She picked up Angelica, kissed her face, smiled at her and said, "Mama Tee wants to hold her baby. You wanna see Mama, Angelica?" Bette situated their daughter in the crook of Tina's arm, a large pillow keeping the unmoving arm braced. Quickly, Bette picked up the iPod and thumbed through the playlists until she found what she wanted. The strings opened the song gracefully, predicting something ethereal and sublimely divine and then Sarah Brightman's voice sang out in her crystal-like soprano "Un Jour Il Viendra," one of Tina's favorite songs. Bette squeezed in next to Tina on the bed. The family sat together. Bette gently lifted Tina's breast and placed it against Angelica's mouth. As Angelica began to suck, Bette bent her head and kissed Tina's cheek. She whispered in Tina's ear, "Baby, do you feel your baby in your arms? She looks so happy, Tina. You're feeding her, Tee. You should see her." Angelica sucked heartily, her tiny hands opening and closing, trying to gain purchase on Tina's breast as she drank. Bette listened to the Brightman song and she tried to recall her college French to translate the lyrics. What she was able to translate seemed to have special meaning at this time. Bette automatically changed the pronoun from masculine to feminine. Bette's lower lip started to quiver and her eyes began to tear.
Un jour il viendra.
*One day, (she'll) he'll come*
Mon bel amour d'hier
*My dear love of yesterday*
*My love will return*
Par un jour de lumière.
*On a light day*
Dans les heures qui viennent.
*In the hours that come*
Ou bien l'année prochaine
*Or in the coming year*
Peu m'importe j'attends,
*I don't care, I'll wait*
Car c'est l'homme que j'aime.
*Because it is the (wo)man I love*
Et je l'attendrai mème plus longtemps.
*And I'll wait for (her) him even longer*
Un jour il viendra,
*One day, she'll come*
Mon bel amour d'hier.
*My dear love of yesterday*
Et demain l'amour renaîtra.
*And tomorrow, love will be reborn*
Un beau jour de lumière.
*A beautiful, light day.*
Tina was missing so much.
Bette was entirely focused on her family that she didn't hear anyone enter the room.
"Oh Bette? Uh I didn't realize I'm sorry." It was nine o'clock sharp and Helena's time to visit Tina. She had walked in expecting to find Tina alone.
Bette looked up and Helena saw that she had caught Bette at an emotional moment. She moved over to her, put her hand on her shoulder and whispered, "Bette, are you all right?"
Bette nodded, stalling for time to put her voice together. "Yeah."
Helena stood up straight. "You were feeding the baby? I'll leave. I can come 'round tomorrow. I thought I could pop in to see Tina. Please, pardon me." Helena started to back away.
Bette cleared her throat and shook her head. The woman was being kind. "No, Helena. Stay. We came in early today because we have a few things to do later this morning. We'll just be another minute."
Nodding, Helena said, "I'm going to purchase a yogurt. Is there anything I might get you?"
"No, I'm fine. You don't have to leave. Really."
"No worries," Helena said as she quickly departed, nearly walking into Angus and his guitar as the man entered the room.
"Hi," he mumbled. "How's it going?"
Helena looked him up and down. Disapproving of his scruffy face, jeans, and faded from too many washes, T-shirt. "Yes. Pardon me." She turned to the side and pressed against the door frame to pass him.
"Hi, Bette. How are you? Hello, little Angelica. Good morning, Tina."
"Hi, Angus." Bette picked up Angelica, hugged her and gently burped her while remaining beside Tina. She had pulled herself together, having wiped away the few tears and was now stoic and businesslike with the musician. "How's the therapy going?"
"I think Tina's doing well. I really do. You know, I can only talk about it from a music standpoint. I know the nurses come in and put the iPod on several times a day. She's doing good. I'm sure she hears." Angelica burped and then began to cry. Angus turned his guitar around and strummed a few chords. "It's okay, Angie." He began to sing a little ditty.
Tina loved this sing-along group for babies under one year old. Angelica was the youngest one in the group, but her smile was huge when she'd listen to all of the sounds and melodies in the room and when Mama B would bounce-dance her on her toes. They had been going to the sing-along class for a few months and Tina really liked the other babies in the class and their parents. Bette, of course, was being Alpha Mama, planning and scheming about toys and instruments she could choose for Angelica. Other than Tina, the only other adult Bette spoke with was Angus, the sing-along teacher. Tina joined in as the parents and children sang:
So glad to see you.
Hello to Lola.
So glad to see you.
Hello to Pierce.
So glad to see you.
Hello to Angelica.
So glad to see you.
So glad to see you."
Bette finished burping Angelica and placed her back in Tina's arms. She took Tina's hand and placed it against the baby's, then she tapped each of Angelica's fingers against Mama Tee's. Angus strummed his guitar and sang to Tina. Bette watched her lover's chest rise and fall and wondered if Tina heard the music.
Alice stirred. Her eyes slowly opened and she turned onto her side to spoon against Dana's sleeping body. Wrapping her arm around Dana, Alice smiled when she heard Dana's contented sigh. Both women were nude from last night or rather this morning's lovemaking. Alice thought about it. She had been right to drive over to Dana's. She had known that Dana couldn't stay angry with her forever. They had something special. Alice pressed into her lover's back and her hand drifted up, cupping a breast. Dana moaned and Alice felt herself become aroused by it. Her tongue snaked out and licked the nape of Dana's neck, then moved up to lick just below her hairline. It was a spot that drove Dana crazy and she groaned as she turned in Alice's embrace. Alice's tongue sank into Dana's mouth finding a familiar heat. Their kisses became hotter and Alice half rolled on top of Dana spreading Dana's legs and pushing her thigh against Dana's warmth.
"Oh, God, Dane."
Dana tilted her lower body up and rocked her hips, while her hands were working Alice's breasts. She squeezed them hard the way Alice liked, then pulled on the very rigid nipples, making Alice whimper with excitement. Alice looked down at her lover, saw that Dana's face was pink and flushed, her mouth only slightly openbut with only a few grinds against Dana's center, Dana was moaning and panting. Dana pushed harder against Alice's thigh. Not wanting to end their connection so quickly, Alice pushed back and moved down. She wanted Dana's climax in her mouth, not against her leg. She wanted to swallow everything that Dana had to give. Alice was almost at her destinationher arm extended, a hand roughly massaging Dana's breast while her mouth kissed and licked her abdomen, and moved lower still. Alice loved the feel of Dana's pubic hair against her lips and nose. She rubbed her face against the hair and then lightly nipped there. Dana's moaning filled the room as did the musky scent that conveyed Dana's readiness. The flesh was ready, but Dana had other plans for Alice. Dana pushed Alice with her foot and then swung her leg against her, pushing Alice to the side.
"Whu " Alice huffed as she dropped onto her back.
"I want you first." Dana slid her fingers between Alice's folds and her eyes closed at what she found there. "Oh, Al." Dana flicked her thumb over Alice's clit and she listened for the familiar catch in Alice's breathing that told her that Alice was fighting to slow herself and not winning that fight.
Alice grabbed Dana's hand and tried to get her to push a couple of fingers inside her, but Dana held back. Instead, she reached across the bed to the nightstand drawer, opened it, and pulled out eight inches of purple, silicone, Nirvana. "God, yes. Dana. Dane."
It was a strap-on, but Dana didn't bother with getting out the leather harness. She lay beside Alice, who had spread her legs wider. Dana snuck her arm under Alice's raised leg and with her fingers gently parted her labia. She pushed the thick dildo inside her. Alice grunted out her pleasure. The toy slid in and out easily and Dana repositioned herself so that she was kneeling, but bent beside Alice. She bent enough to take Alice's breast in her mouth and suck deeply.
"Oh, God. Dana."
Alice's hand reached between her own legs and she fingered her clit while Dana kept up her rhythm with the dildo.
"A little more, Dane. Push it all the way in."
Alice's hand was furiously working her clit and she was panting and sighing her way to a serious orgasm. Dana bit down on Alice's breast causing Alice to scream in pleasure. "Fuck!" her muscles clamped around the toy, her index finger that had become a blur on her clitoris stilled, and the climax washed over her. "I love you, Dana. I love you. I love you so much. God. Oh, God." Alice pulled Dana down so that she was lying on top of her, breast to breast and it felt so good to have her there. Alice was so totally in love with her. Dana smiled at her, gently extricating the dildo from inside her and tossing it on the other side of the bed.
"I love you," Alice repeated.
Dana kissed her hard and when she did, Alice's hand moved between them, but Dana pushed it away again. Instead, she re-positioned herself, spread Alice legs and began to grind her pussy against Alice's. This was her favorite position. She loved the feel of her clit rubbing against Alice's soft hair, the softness of Alice's flesh as well as the hard pubic bone that tilted into her sent Dana to heights unknown. Dana closed her eyes for a moment and went with the feeling, letting it control her. When she opened her eyes again, she looked into Alice's, bit her lip, whispered with a shade of regret, "I love you," and fell over the edge. Her arms gave and she half dropped onto Alice and half onto the bed. Alice turned to her and saw that Dana was weeping.
"Dana, sweetie, what is it?"
Bette was standing and reaching for Angelica when Helena returned to the room.
"Hello," Helena said.
"Hi. We're going to leave. I just need to make Tina comfortable." Bette picked up Angelica and was moving to put her in the stroller when Helena approached her.
"Please, Bette. Let me." Helena reached out for Angelica, but Bette stepped back.
As far as Bette was concerned, Helena was the devil incarnate. She had to accept Helena in Tina's life because Tina had used poor judgment and taken the dragon as her lover. Bette and Tina had been close to reconciliation before Helena came into the picture and took advantage of Tina's insecurity and vulnerability, not to mention Helena's obsession with destroying Bette at every turn. Bette didn't trust her interest in Tina; she saw it as insincere. Helena was a spoiled, wealthy brat who wanted her way and there had to be some ulterior motive. Letting Helena touch Angelica, the most precious person in her life, would be like handing her baby to some psycho. "I've got her."
Helena nodded, understanding that Bette didn't want her near Angelica. "You know, I think I will come another day. Helena turned around and walked out.
Bette watched her leave. Her eyes stayed on the door, thinking Helena's audacity could fill volumestrying to ingratiate herself in their lives was just so bold. Finally, Bette turned her attention back to Angelica and placed her in the stroller. She was straightening the receiving blanket over Angelica when the Center's administrator, Agatha Benson entered the room.
"Good, you're here."
Bette turned and stood. "Ms. Benson. Hello."
"You were sent a certified letter "
"Hmm?" Bette looked at her, not understanding.
Ms. Benson stood with her hands clasped behind her back. There was no acknowledgment of Tina, only sharp eyes on Bette. "You were sent a certified letter from the Center."
Bette shook her head. "I-I I'm sorry. I didn't receive a letter."
Benson stared at her as if Bette was trying to scam her. "You should have received a notice to pick up the letter at your local Post Office. That's why it's called 'certified.'"
Bette exhaled and nodded. "A notice might have come to the house. Do you want to just tell me what this is about?"
"It's regarding your insurance."
"There are some treatments for Ms. Kennard that your insurance company will not cover."
"What? I spoke with our representative. Her care is covered."
"The majority is, but there are various therapies that we use here that are considered experimental. Also, your insurance carrier requires documentation that the person in the coma is suffering from a neurological deficit."
"And that the deficit is expected to last 12 months or longer. That," she paused, before continuing, "is something we do not know."
"What does that mean, exactly?"
"You're not covered." Benson grinned at her.
"But Tina's condition could easily last that long. I hope not, but it could. What have you told the insurance company?"
"That we don't know."
"This is ridiculous."
"Well, it does present a problem for you. Tina's treatments will have to be cut significantly. She'll get the basic health care services, but many of the therapies that have given us positive results with other patients will no longer be available to her."
"No, no, no. She needs those therapies. I can cover it until I get this settled with my insurance."
"When you're finished here, please stop by my office and I'll give you a breakdown of costs. You can decide whether you'd like to move Tina to another facility or cut her therapies."
"Or pay out of pocket. I will pay out of pocket," Bette said, assured that her inheritance would cover whatever it took.
"You'll need to make a decision within the next day or so. We aren't a charity ward, Ms. Porter." The woman grinned again.
Bette looked down at Angelica. Their daughter had a calming effect on her. Bette wanted to slap Agatha Benson silly. She could have easily cursed this woman to hell and back. Instead she glared at her and then turned back to Angelica. "We'll stop by on our way out," Bette tossed the comment over her shoulder while re-positioning the stroller's incline.
Kit was preparing The Planet for the big Las Vegas night in just a couple of days. The renovations weren't complete, but the stage and dance floor were ready for the crowds. This big opening would mark The Planet's first fundraiser. Kit had hired Billie Blaikie, the hottest gay promoter in town to bring The Planet to all of the gays and lesbians in West Hollywood. The Planet couldn't compete with the long-established gay male meat markets or the old-time lesbian bar, The Palms, but they could offer something differenthip alternative music, performance artists, great food, and lots of beautiful people, mostly women. Kit hoped that she could draw Bette out to attend Las Vegas night. She thought Bette needed a distraction. The Planet phone rang as she was passing by and she grabbed it. "The Planet."
"Hi, Kit. It's Bette."
"Hey, baby sis. What's goin' on?"
Bette was in her car with Angelica in the back seat asleep in her car seat. "Kit, can I drop Angelica off with you. I have to go to the airport."
"Why you goin' to LAX?"
"Tina's mother and sister are coming to town. Their plane arrives around one. I promised to pick them up."
"It's about time they got out here." Kit shook her head. If Bette had been in Tina's condition, no matter where she was in the world, Kit would have been there the next morning. It had taken the Kennards over a month to pull it together.
"Yeah, of course, I'll watch my little niece. Bring her over."
"I'm on the way. I'll be there in five. I'm going to pick them up, take them to see Tina. If I leave you with Angelica's car seat, do you think you can bring her to the Center around 3 or 3:30."
"I'm sure you've all heard the scuttlebutt by now. I have recently purchased Shaolin Film Studios," Helena began. She was standing in the middle of a backlot street. Folding chairs had been set up and the small road blocked off for her employee conference. Dozens and dozens of men and women sat in the chairs now, listening to their new boss, Helena Peabody inform them of the status of their future employment with the studio. "Shaolin has been known for its Hong Kong-like action films. The studio will no longer make these films. The perception of Shaolin from this day forward is that of a large studio with the character of an independent production house. I see us as something akin to an updated Merchant/Ivory company. Our films will be quality, appeal to those of high intelligence and education. If you are people who prefer to make chop-socky movies featuring Kung Fu and Karate, and a great deal of slow motion action, this is not the place for you. That was the Shaolin of old. This is the new Shaolin. Of course, there will be some re-organization. Some positions will be re-defined, some positions will be made redundant. Your department head will speak with each of you individually to discuss your future with Shaolin. Thank you."
When Helena finished, several hands went up to ask questions of her. "Ms. Peabody? Ms. Peabody?" Quite a few voices called out to her. She looked quizzically at those employees, wondering why they thought there would be a Q and A session. She didn't owe them an explanation. She turned her back on them, walked to the golf cart, made herself comfortable in the passenger's seat, and was whisked away by the driver.
Alice walked down the hall and tried to stop sniffling, but it was to no avail. She wiped her hand over her cheek, but more tears fell. Passing a nurse, she gave a curt smile and quickly looked away. Things weren't bad. She and Dana were going to get together in the evening to talk. Her gut told her that Dana was going to break up with her, but Alice was good at swaying her. There was no way two people could have sex that was as hot as theirs and not want to be together. Dana was not going to walk away from that, from her. Alice took a deep breath before entering Tina's room. Hold it together, hold it together, Al, Alice thought. Tina was flat on her back, the iPod was on, and opera played quietly beside the patient.
"Hey, Tee." Alice's voice sounded scratchy and sad. "How's it ." Alice cleared her throat. "How's it going?" She wasn't here to bring Tina down. If Tina could hear her, she should be positive. She had to pull it together. She was determined to stay optimistic. Part of her problem according to Dana was that Alice was negativeneedy, clingy, jealous, and insecure. Dana had told her all of these things. Truth be told, she and Dana shared many of those traits, but Alice had never given Dana reason to let those characteristics come to the fore. Gabby wasn't on the scene and Alice wasn't seeing any of her ex-lovers other than Bette who'd been just a friend years longer than the few weeks they'd slept together, so there was no one for Dana to be jealous of. Alice enjoyed spending time with her best friend and lover. Dana didn't have to feel needy because her needs were met.
"How are you? Was Helena here? I'm running late. You know...me and Dana What a night! Whew, what a morning. I'm telling you, Tee, Dana is all that. Seriouslyand I'm comparing her to women and men." Alice paused and a lightbulb seemed to go on. "Oh, my God. I've gotta tell you about this. I'm online last night doing research on parenting and this troll...DaddyOf2, DaddyOf fucking 2, starts chatting with me and he gets all nasty. Tina, he's talking about his hard cock, how he wants to fuck me, and how he's totally sure I want him. Please. And I identified as a dyke and he still hit on me. I don't know, if I weren't with Dana maybe." She paused before adding, "No, no way. It's not that I'm opposed to it. His approach was all skanky, though. Right. God, his poor kids."
Alice stared at Tina. She had nothing to add about DaddyOf2 or her work. Dana was on her mind. She couldn't help it. "Oh, God, Tina. Dana's going to leave me. I can't believe it." Alice started to cry and she grabbed Tina's arm and held onto it, squeezing it, mimicking the constricting of her own heart. "I don't know what I did. I just know she wanted to tell me this morning, but she chickened out. We're getting together tonight. Maybe I should pretend I'm not home when she comes over. Damn, she's got a key. She'll just come in." Alice pinched her nose to keep from crying, but it didn't work. "I know it has to do with Lara. Dana's been impossible for weeks, but I knew we had a good thing. We're just stressing. That happens in all relationships. I mean, look at you and Bette, but you're solid now. We made love, Tee and then she started crying and I asked her what was wrong and she said she didn't want to talk about it right then. Everything was good, ya know? It was awesome. I pushed her and she did say that I don't really understand her career and she hasn't been playing well since we've been together. She's blaming that on me. I never kept her from practice. I never told her not to go on tour. I have been so freakin' supportive. Man." Alice's tears were falling steadily and she made no attempt to wipe them away. "I asked her if it was about Lara and unresolved feelings for her and she said no, but I know she's lying. Maybe I should go over to the Planet and talk to her. Shit. I knew as soon as Lara started working for Kit and we were always there that this would be a problem. Shit. Shit. Tina, what should I do?" Alice reached for a facial tissue and dabbed her eyes. "We're supposed to talk about where we're going and what we want. I know what she wants. I'm not stupid. And she's acting afraid of me. Maybe this is because of the Nanny Cam or because of the scrapbook I started. I explained the stupid Nanny Cam and I'm totally proud of her and that's the only reason I cut out articles and pictures about her. Jeez, like I'm a fuckin' serial killer or something. God!"
Tina heard Alice talking about her predicament. She knew that Alice was in love with Dana. She had known it for about a year before they actually got together. The two of them were constantly bickering with each other, yet unable to stay away. Tina recalled when Alice had told her that she and Dana had made a pact not to ever sleep together that the inevitable would happenthey'd become lovers. It sounded like Dana was going to dump her. Alice wore her emotions on her sleeve and this break up was going to destroy her. There was nothing Tina could do for her, but listen.
"I can't survive without her, Tee. I can't. Alice's head was down, her forehead resting on Tina's arm. "I know I know I can convince her to reconsider."
Tina groaned and Alice looked up. "Tina?" Tina's face changed. There seemed to be a grim line, a sort of frown across her mouth that wasn't there previously. "Tee?" Suddenly, Tina started to convulse, her body shaking uncontrollably. "Oh, God."
Alice ran into the hall and shouted, "Somebody help. We need help."
Tina, Bette, and Angelica at the sing-along class (Season 3, Episode 1)
Alice explains that she and Dana might break up (Season 3, Episode 1)
Jos van Geffen's translation of Sarah Brightman's "Un Jour Il Viendra" with some paraphrasing.
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