DISCLAIMER: All belongs to the great Ilene Chaiken and Showtime.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: For season one.
The next morning Tina found herself tired, but very aware of what needed to happen next. She walked into the kitchen, where she found only Dana. "Where's your better half?"
Dana looked at her. "Oh, Alice slept at home last night." Dana sounded down.
"Is there a problem?" Tina asked.
"No. I don't think so." Dana looked back at the paper she had been trying to read. "Do you think there is?"
Tina smiled. "Alice and you have been practically inseparable for a few weeks. Maybe you two need a little space." She picked up the phone. "If you're worried call her and ask her to go to lunch or something. Talk to her." She dialed.
Bette glared at the phone for ringing so damn early on a Saturday. "Hello?"
"Bette?" It was Tina.
"Tina?" Bette sat up.
"Look I think I would like to go to therapy with you. Call me and let me know when."
"I start on Monday." Bette said softly. "I'm sure that she would be happy to see us together anytime after that."
"Great." Tina glanced at Dana, who was doing a bad job of trying to look uninterested in the conversation. "I will be free any time you need. I am wrapping up this script and I'm not sure what my next move is."
"You don't have to work if you don't want to." Bette said without thinking. "Our money is available to you."
Tina smiled. "I know. But we don't know what the future holds. And I can't count on others to support me."
Bette felt a pang of hurt. "I'm not exactly others." She said softly.
Tina wanted to kick herself. "I didn't mean..." She sighed. "Call me when you know when the appointment is."
"Ok." Was all Bette could say.
Tina resisted the urge to say she loved her. "Bye."
The rest of the weekend went by slowly for Bette. She did some of the gardening and swam. Watched TV, anything she could do to kill time. So when the alarm went off Monday morning she was thrilled. She couldn't wait to get back to work.
"Bette!" James called practically running to her. He smiled. "How are you?"
She smiled back. "I'm good. Not great, but good."
"So you are back?" He asked.
She nodded. "So what has fallen apart?"
"There is a huge discussion as to what is going on with the next exhibit, and what will happen if it's not the groundbreaking art Provocations is." James was rattling off the problems as fast as he could when Bette spotted someone she knew.
"Eric?" Bette handed James her briefcase and things. "Take this to my office and bring me all the paperwork. I'll get started on it as soon as I can." James nodded and headed off.
"Bette." Eric looked at her. He decided not to bring up their little meeting at the mental health spa. "How's it going?"
"Good." She smiled, but wondered what he was doing here. "You've decided to come see our show?"
"Yes I have heard wonderful things about it." He turned back to the painting in front of him. "It's definitely thought provoking."
"That's the point." She looked at the painting briefly. "But this is not what you are here for."
He looked at her. "No, it's not. You hurt Tina very deeply."
"This is really none of your concern." Her voice stayed even, but cool.
"I care about Tina. I cared about her before you seduced her." His voice grew hard.
She raised an eyebrow. "I seduced her? You got your information from what source?"
"I know what happened. She forgot something at your office she went back to get it and you seduced her." Eric looked away. "Did you know I was ready to marry her?"
Bette looked at him. "Eric, we were friends. I would have never asked her out if I had known that. But I want you to know. She came to me. Not the other way around." She relaxed. "I'm sorry I had anything to do with hurting you."
He looked back at Bette. "How could you take her from me and then hurt her the way you did?"
Bette shook her head. "I'm not sure how I could hurt someone as amazing as Tina. That's why I have therapy 3 times a week." She looked at Eric. "Are you in love with her?"
He sucked in a breath, "I never stopped loving her."
Bette nodded. "Eric I like you. But I love her. And I intend to do what's best for Tina and myself."
"I'm what's best." he said quickly. "And I intend to prove it." And with that he walked away. Leaving Bette wondering what to think.
That afternoon found Bette in the therapist's office. "I have your paperwork here. Jaime had some very nice things to say about you." Patricia Colms smiled at Bette.
"I liked working with Jaime too." As much as Bette liked therapy. "Tina would like to come to therapy some time this week."
Patricia looked over the paperwork. "Tina, yes. That's a good idea." She looked up and met Bette's eyes. "But not until you are ready. You bring her when you are ready and not before."
Bette looked at her. "When will I be ready?"
Patricia smiled. "I can't tell you that, Bette. Only you can."
Bette frowned. "I want to work on this and bring her back home as soon as possible." There was an urgency in her voice.
"Why is that?" Patricia asked.
Bette looked at her hands. "I miss her. I love her. It's not a home without her."
"But why as soon as possible? Why not when you are both truly ready. Why not take the time to get to know each other again." She looked into Bette's eyes. "What are you afraid of?"
"Eric." Bette said sadly.
Tina and Eric walk into the art opening at Bette's gallery. Several people were milling around, checking out the paintings, photos and sculptures. They headed towards Bette, who was talking to Alice and a couple of others.
"Excuse me, Bette." Eric said, smiling as Bette turned around. She smiled back. "This is my girlfriend, Tina Kennard. She heads up Development up at Alphaville. Tina, Bette Porter." Bette and Tina shake hands. Tina looked at Bette.
"Nice to meet you." Bette said smiling.
"Hey. Nice to meet you." Tina is taken in by Bette's beauty. She feels something stir inside her, but she ignores it.
"Bette, we were wondering, um... how would Catherine Opie feel about us blowing up that print there to about 5 by 6 feet?" Eric asked, pointing at the print.
"Well, why don't you ask yourself? She's right over there." Bette points to Catherine Opie, standing nearby, talking to Alice and some other patrons. Eric looked at Tina questioningly.
"I think I'll just stay here." Tina says smiling at him.
"Okay. Excellent." He said before heading over to talk to Catherine Opie.
"You like the artwork here?" Bette asked warmly.
Tina nods. "I do. I've always been interested in art, but it wasn't my talent so I just look." She felt stupid.
"Art is to be appreciated and some of the best observations about art have been made by those who never studied." She smiled warmly at Tina. She was very attracted to the beautiful blonde woman beside her.
Tina blushed slightly. Was this woman flirting with her? "Maybe sometime you could explain a little more about some of these pieces."
Bette smiled. She was flirting back. "I would love to. My door is open." She glanced over and noticed one of her artists beginning to panic. "Please excuse me. I think I need to help avert trouble."
Tina nodded. "I understand." She felt a piece of her go with the beautiful art gallery owner and she wondered why.
"She's straight." Alice whispered in Bette's ear as they headed towards the artist.
"Are you sure?" Bette whispered back.
"Definitely." Alice said. "But she's cute."
"Definitely." Bette replied before greeting the artist.
Tina sighed. Why had she just thought of that? She looked out the window. It was a beautiful Los Angeles day. She wanted to be at home in the pool. Home. "I want to go home." She said to no one.
"Tina?" Eric opened the door. "Hey you hungry?"
She smiled at him. "A little, why?"
"I was thinking maybe we needed to grab a bite and go over a few little problems that crept up over the weekend." He was keeping his voice steady, but his eyes were filled with hope.
"Sure. I have to stop thinking about..." She caught herself. "I need to eat."
Bette surveyed the artist dinner. All seemed to be going well. Another successful evening. She moved through the room, greeting some of the attendees, gave Alice a comforting touch on the shoulder as she passed, then walked over to Tina, who was looking at a photograph hanging on a nearby wall. She felt pulled towards the beautiful blonde again.
"Are you coming to sit down?" Bette asked. She gave Tina a quick once over with her eyes.
"Yeah. I just really like this one." She smiled at Bette. They both turn and look at the painting.
Bette looks at Tina. She smiled as she reached up to touch Tina's hair. "Oh. You've lost your earring in your hair, here". Bette gets the earring out of Tina's hair and holds it on her palm for Tina to take.
"Thank you". Tina said softly. Bette smiled sweetly at her as Tina took the earring. Both felt, but didn't acknowledge the spark that ran through them as their hands touched. They look back at the picture.
Tina looked up."What?"
Eric smiled. "We're here."
Tina looked out the car window. Lunch she was having lunch with Eric to discuss the developments in the script. "Right." She got out of the car and followed him into the restaurant. They sat down and Tina watched the waiter tell them the specials, but she didn't hear it. She was thinking about Bette and her therapy.
"So Eric is the man Tina was dating before you two met." Patricia reviewed.
"Yes. And I saw him today and he had a lot to say about Tina." Bette was noticeably upset.
"Anything you want to share?" Patricia asked.
"He said he was in love with her. That he was better for her. That he was going to ask her to marry him before I had seduced her and taken her away from him." Bette felt sore inside. She wasn't sure how much more she could take.
"Is that what happened? Did you seduce her and take her away from him?" Patricia asked.
"No." Bette glared at her. "It was consensual. I know she was interested in me before..."
Tina walked into Bette's office. "Hi."
Bette pulls Tina's earring from an envelope and walked around her desk. And holds the earring out on her palm for Tina to take. "I could've sworn I watched you put this back on". Bette moved very close.
Tina smiled, and went to take the earring. "I thought so too." Bette gently closed her hand on Tina's and leaned in to kiss her. Their lips met in a soft gentle kiss. Tina blushed.
"I would like to see you sometime." Bette smiled as Tina takes her earring.
Tina nodded. "I would really like that." She felt light headed.
Bette wanted another kiss, but was afraid to move too fast. "When are you free?"
"Tomorrow?" Tina suggests. She wanted to tell her, now.
"Eight o'clock?" Bette asked. She picked up a card off her desk. "My numbers." She handed it to Tina.
"Eight is good." Tina slowly took in a breath and then let it out. She pulled all her courage together. She reached out to take the card and found herself pulling Bette to her in a more heated kiss. Shocking Bette and making her smile all at once. When the kiss broke Tina was blushing deeply. "I'll make you dinner."
Bette was tingling all over. Something she hadn't felt in a very long time. "I look forward to it."
Bette sighed. "I miss Tina but I really want the best for her."
"So what Eric said has you questioning your place in Tina's life?" Patricia asked.
"No." Bette said quickly. "I... know I love her."
"Yes but where do you belong in her life? Or rather, where does she belong in yours?" Patricia watched as Bette waged an internal struggle with herself.
"There is a small part of me that feels like Tina could have what she wanted if she went with Eric." Bette wiped away a tear. "But the rest of me says she belongs with me. As my partner."
Patricia looked at Bette. "It's easy to see you love Tina. That is not something anyone can question. And I think you need to sit with Tina and talk to her. You two need to make decisions together if you intend to stay together."
"I know." Bette frowned. "But we are barely speaking right now."
"OK, look. Here is the deal. It is either important to the both of you to sit down and have a conversation or it is not. And if it is, you find the time and place to do it." Patricia looked at her calendar. "Then when you two have done that, we'll set up a session for the three of us and take it from there, ok?"
Bette nodded. "Ok."
Dana was starring at the phone when Tina came in with Eric. "What are you doing?" She asked setting her briefcase down.
Dana looked up startled. "Oh, uh, nothing." She smiled at Tina, then her eyes moved to Eric. "Hi."
Tina suppressed her smile. "This is Eric. We are going to get a little more work done, but I just couldn't sit in the office anymore."
Dana nodded. The phone rang and she grabbed it. "Alice?" Her face fell. "Sorry you have the wrong number."
Tina walked over and put a comforting hand on Dana's back. "Alice still hasn't called?"
"No. And I left messages at her house, her office and her cell phone." Dana looked like she might cry. "I don't know what I did wrong."
"You're clingy for starters." Shane said slipping into the house. She grinned. "Dana I'm kidding."
"That's not funny." Dana said with a pout.
Tina sighed. It almost felt back to normal around here. "Shane, be nice."
Shane grinned. "I'm always nice. Ask anyone."
"And she means anyone." Dana shot at her.
"Children!" Tina said raising her voice. "Now I have got to get some work done. Can you two behave if I go in the other room?"
"She started it." Dana grumbled.
Tina rolled her eyes. "I don't care."
Shane looked at Eric. "I'm Shane."
He nodded. "Eric."
Shane looked at Tina. "The Eric?"
"Wait, what the Eric?" Dana asked. She had once again missed what was going on.
"Oh yeah you missed the story because you were with Tonya..." Shane said.
"Ugh. Do you need to bring up ALL my mistakes." Dana grouched.
Shane moved to Dana's side. "Hey you gotta make mistakes, if you don't, you miss the good stuff."
Tina looked at Eric. "This way." She whispered and pointed to the livingroom.
They snuck into the livingroom. Tina kicked off her heels and sat down on the couch. "Sorry, a little lesbian melodrama."
"They are all uh.... Lesbians?" Eric asked sitting down beside her on the couch.
She smiled. "Yeah.
"Oh." He looked at his hands. He had taken off his wedding ring. "Tina, I think we should talk about something."
She looked at him. "What about?"
"Tina I love you." He held his breath and looked at her.
Tina starred at him. "Are you serious?"
Alice walked into the kitchen to find Dana and Shane sitting at the table watching the phone. "Hi guys."
Dana looked up and smiled. "Where were you?"
Alice looked confused. "What do you mean?"
"All day I've tried to call you." Dana getting up. "I called your office, but they hadn't seen you, and I left countless messages on you machine. And then I tried your cell."
Alice opened her purse and pulled out her cell. "Shit. It's not on. I wondered why it was quiet all day." She looked at Dana. "Hey, were you worried about me?" She smiled and took Dana into her arms.
"I was. And then I thought I had done something wrong." Dana said softly.
"Oh." Alice looked into her girlfriend's face. "I'm sorry." She kissed Dana and felt her passion take over again.
"Whoa, ok, I'm going into the livingroom where things are normal and less, kissy." She headed towards the livingroom.
"Tina I have never stopped loving you. I would never do to you what she did." He brought his hand up to her face and brushed back a lock of hair. "The date you broke with me to go out with her.... I was going to propose to you. I wanted to marry you."
"Whoa." Shane said softly and backed out of the livingroom. She hurried into the kitchen. "Hey guys." Dana and Alice were locked in a passionate kiss. "Hey!" She said a bit louder. "There is something going on in the livingroom you need to know about."
Alice broke the kiss. "What?"
"I'm not sure but I think Eric is trying to propose to Tina."
"Eric... I didn't know." She was reeling.
"I know." He took her hand. "I want to be with you." He kissed it. "Let me try again. We could have a family." He brought his lips to hers and kissed. "I love you."
Tina sat there in shock. "I..."
He smiled. "Think about it. And call me tomorrow."
"Ok." She whispered.
Eric was getting into his car in the drive when Bette drove up. She got out and walked towards the door. She looked at him. "Hello." She said coolly.
He smiled. "Hi."
"What are you doing here?" She asked.
"I'm putting right something that has been very wrong." He said before getting into his car.
Her eyes narrowed, but she didn't let him see how he was getting to her. "Thanks for your help." She said before heading to the door. She rang the bell as he drove away. "Fucking bastard." She muttered as Dana opened the door.
"What?" Dana asked.
"Sorry." Bette smiled at Dana. "Hi."
"Can I come in?" Bette said after a few seconds.
"Oh..." Dana sighed. "I'm having one of those days."
Bette gave a small laugh. "That's ok." She stepped in and followed Dana into the kitchen.
"Something to drink?" Dana asked.
"Iced tea?" Bette sat down at the table. "You always bring your guests into the kitchen when they come over?"
"Today is special." Shane said coming into the kitchen. "Hey."
"Hi." Bette smiled at her and took the glass of tea from Dana. "Ok guys. Is Tina here?"
"Uh, yeah." Dana said trying to think of what to say.
"Tina are you nuts?" Alice asked as they sat in the livingroom. "You don't know what's going on with Bette and then you bring Eric here?"
"We were going to work." Tina defended herself. "I didn't know."
"What that he wanted you?" Alice rolled her eyes. "You're hot girl. Of course he wanted you."
"Really? I'm hot?" Tina asked.
"Of course." Alice hugged her. "You have to figure out what you want for yourself and then make a decision."
"I know." Tina wiped a tear from her cheek. "I want none of this to ever happen. I want to have never put Bette in a position to meet Candace."
"Oh." Alice hugged her again. "Tina that's not your fault. Bette was having her thing."
"She was feeling the way she was feeling partially because of the way I was acting." Tina felt she needed to defend Bette. "She never meant to hurt me."
Alice looked at her. "I know that. She loves you."
"I have to think." She wiped her eyes.
Shane came in. "Uh Alice,"
"Yeah?" She looked up at Shane.
"There is someone here.... and she would like to see Tina."
Tina looked at Shane. "Bette?"
"Uh Yeah. Look I can tell her to go if you want." Shane said softly.
"No. I think I want to talk to her." Tina tried to smile.
"Ok. Sure." Shane left the room.
"I'm ok Alice. I want to do this." She smiled reassuringly at Alice. Alice nodded and got up as Bette entered the room.
"Hi." Bette said as she looked over the woman she loved. Tina was upset about something. She longed to hold her and make it all better.
"Hi." Tina smiled. "Sit."
Bette sat down on the couch. "I think we need to talk."
Tina nodded. "We do."
After a few moments, Bette laughed. "I'm not sure we've ever had a problem saying something to each other."
Tina smiled. "I know."
Bette looked at her. "I want to apologize, but it's just not enough."
Tina placed two fingers on Bette's lips. "Let me talk. Ok?" Bette nodded. "We've both made mistakes these past few months. I forgot who I was." She smiled. "I forgot who we were. I should have never quit my job to try and get pregnant, because that's what my whole existence became about. And I'm more than that."
"I know." Bette said quickly. "That's as much my fault."
Tina looked at her. "We both made mistakes and we can't take them back. But we can learn to accept what needs to be accepted and move on."
"Move on?" Bette asked. "Move on how?" Her heart was beating hard.
"Right now I need to be alone and to find who I am." She looked at her hands. "I need to stop being Bette's girl. And I need to be me."
Bette felt as though her whole life was closing in on her. "I see." She said softly. The tears she had been trying to hold back fell.
"I don't want you out of my life. But I want time to find out where you fit in my life." She tipped Bette's face to hers. "I have a lot of choices to make and I need to make them based on what I want."
Bette nodded. "You're right." She kept her voice as even as she could. "I want to be your friend, but for right now I think I will need space from you."
Tina blinked. "What?" She hadn't thought Bette would run from her. They had said from the beginning they would stay friends no matter what happened.
"I need space." Bette repeated. "You can come and get what you need...." She paused. "No. I think you should have the house. I can't stay there."
Tina starred at her. "But."
"I'll get the things I need out tonight. And you stay in the house. I will think about the best way to deal with the finances and you think about it too, it's all as much yours as mine." Bette stood. She looked at the stunned woman before her. "I love you Tina Kennard, and I always will. This doesn't change that." She let the tears flow freely. "I hope you find everything you are looking for in life. And we will be friends, but it will take some time and adjustment." She leaned down and kissed Tina deeply. "Goodbye." Bette turned without another word and left.
Tina sat, dumbfounded. She thought Bette would give her the time she needed. Maybe fight for her. Pain and fear washed over Tina. "Oh God." Her body shook with sobs. Alice ran into the livingroom to find her friend laying on the couch crying harder than she had the night Alice found her in her apartment. She moved to the couch and took Tina in her arms and held her.
Bette had gotten back to her house on auto-pilot. Not thinking, just moving. She pulled her suitcases out and began packing clothes, and personal effects. She had packed two suitcases put them in the car and was standing on her sister's doorstep before it hit her. She no longer had Tina. She rang the door bell.
"Baby sis." Kit answered the door.
"It's over." Bette whispered as the tears flowed down her face. She moved into Kit's hug and they walked into the house together. Ivan grabbed the bags and brought them in.
Kit closed her eyes and sighed. "Oh baby, it's gonna be ok."
Two weeks later, Tina picked up the mail as she entered the house. She saw an envelope, return address the CAC. She opened it to find an invitation to the closing of the Provocations exhibit. She opened it.
You and a guest are respectfully invited to the grande finally of the CAC's
Spring show Provocations. This is an invitation only black tie event. We look
forward to seeing you there and thank you for your support.'
Tina notice the bottom, written in ink.
I hope you can attend. I'd like to see you.
Tina smiled.. "I think I can make sure I'm there." She walked into the livingroom and dropped her things just as the phone rang. "Hello?"
"Tina?" Alice's voice was on the other end.
"Uh. Yeah, who else?" She asked heading into the kitchen.
"How are you?" She asked, non nonchalantly.
Tina knew she was fishing. "I'm ok. Tired. Freelance is a bitch."
Alice could sympathize, before she was picked up by the mag, she was a freelance writer. "Tell me about it. But it pays the bills."
Tina laughed. "True. So what did you call for?" She asked pulling out a few pots and pans. She was starving.
"Just uh wondering what you were up to this week." Alice asked.
"Not much." Tina replied. "You?"
"Oh, uh. Not much. Dana and I have been doing the home body thing. It's kind of weird."
Tina laughed. "I think it's cute." She filled the pot with water and set it on the stove. "You feel like going out tonight?"
"I dunno. Let me ask Dana how she feels." She turned to Dana who was nodding her head emphatically. Alice laughed. "I think that's a yes."
"Great. I'm just going to have a little pasta and then you can pick me up?" Tina asked.
"Sure that will give us time to get ready." Alice said. "Later."
"Bye." Tina hung up the phone and grabbed some pasta from the cabinet..She heard the door and answered it. Eric was standing there. "Hi."
He smiled. "Hi."
"Come in." She motioned for him to follow her. And they walked into the kitchen. "How are you?"
"You'd know if you would answer my calls." He said sitting down.
"About that. I'm sorry." She smiled at him. "I've been thinking about things. I just needed a little time."
"Ok. Fair enough. Come to any conclusions?" He asked, smiling hopeful.
She looked at the invitation. "Yes I have. Would you like to go to an art exhibit this Saturday night?"
"Like a date?" He asked.
She smiled. "Like a date."
"I'd love to."
Alice looked over at Tina. "So tell me again why Eric was at your house when we picked you up."
"He dropped by." Tina watched the dance floor as Shane danced by with the woman of the evening. "How does she do it?"
"She's amazing." Alice said.
"Sickening is more like it." Dana said in disgust.
Alice turned to Dana. "Jealous?"
"No." She smiled at Alice. "I used to be."
"Why did he drop by?" Alice asked, turning back to Tina.
"I'm not sure." She looked at Alice. "I know you feel like you have to watch after me, but I know what I''m doing."
"Do you?" Alice asked. She was convinced Tina had lost her mind two weeks ago when she told Bette they needed to be friends.
"Al, it's Tina's life, if she wants to go back to Eric, she can." Dana said sadly.
"I'm not going back to Eric. He and I are friends."
"Is that really all?" Alice asked.
Tina motioned to Shane. "I'm tired of this discussion. I want to dance."
"Yeah?" Shane asked coming over.
"Would your friend mind if I stole you for a dance or two?" She looked at Alice. "I need a break."
Shane laughed. "No problem?" She questioned the beautiful nameless woman with her.
"No problem." The woman echoed.
"Thank you." Tina said taking Shane's arm and following her out to the dance floor.
Bette watched as her sister prepared for her set. She was glad Kit was there for her. She didn't feel ready to face the gang. She had seen Shane dance by with some pretty woman earlier and she had ducked a little so she wouldn't be seen. She envied Shane's ability to put feelings aside and just enjoy herself. She had kept an eye out all evening for the rest of them, and somewhere inside her she wanted a glimpse of Tina. She wanted to know if she was happy. She had decided that night she went to talk to Tina, she was putting her happiness and needs above her own. Even though there have been times over the last weeks, she had wanted to do what she wanted. Selflessness didn't come easy to Bette.
"Hey baby girl." Kit said smiling. "The place is electric tonight."
Bette nodded. "Good crowd." She glanced over at Ivan and smiled. She wished she knew what exactly was going on between her sister and this amazing person. Ivan smiled at her and went back to making sure Kit's things were in place.
"Who you looking for?" Kit asked.
"No one. Just trying not to be seen." Bette watched the crowd.
"Ok." Kit said knowingly and went back to helping Ivan.
Bette watched as Shane headed her way again, only she had a new partner, Tina. Bette watched carefully as they passed by. She watched as they talked and their body language. Tina seemed happy. A piece of Bette felt like it was dying. She wanted Tina to be happy... with her. She looked down at her hand. She was still wearing the ring. She wasn't ready to take it off yet. She turned her attention to the stage area as her sister picked up the microphone.
Bette found herself swept up in the CAC's goings on and worry about future projects. As well as the new respect from Franklin. So she felt unprepared for the evening ahead when she opened her eyes Saturday morning. "Damn." She dragged herself into the kitchen and opened the cabinet to find no coffee. "Kit?"
Ivan walked into the kitchen yawning and rubbing her eyes. "Morning. Your sister is still sleeping."
"Oh." Bette wasn't sure what to make of this. This was new, as far as she knew. "You wouldn't happen to know if there is any coffee?"
"Sorry, I don't think so. I can run out and pick some up." Ivan smiled.
Bette shook her head. "Nah, I think I'll run by Starbucks before I head to the CAC."
Ivan leaned against the counter. "Can I make a suggestion?"
"You could run by the Planet. Ever since your sister bought out Francesca you haven't really gone into the Planet. I think it would mean something to her." Ivan smiled. "I know there are things going on, but someday you'll have to face them."
Bette narrowed her eyes for a moment before responding. "I appreciate the help. But I need to do things in my own time."
"Fair enough." Ivan said. "I'll pick up coffee today." She said before turning and heading back into Kit's room.
Bette went back to her room and got her clothes ready for tonight, then showered and dress in her jeans and tanktop. She got her things together and headed out the door. She followed the road and before she knew it she was in front of the Planet. Her auto-pilot must've kick in she decided. She got out and walked in slowly. She didn't see anyone and so she headed to the counter. "I need the biggest Café Au Lait I can get." She smiled.
"Bette?" Shane's voice was behind her.
She turned. "Shane, hi."
"Hey thanks for the invite tonight." She smiled. "I had to go buy an outfit."
Bette found herself relaxing. "Can't wear some old thing to the gala of the year." She took the coffee the woman behind the counter handed her.
"Wanna sit? Or are you in a hurry?" Shane asked.
Bette glanced at her watch. She had time. "That would be nice."
Shane ordered, then they walked to the tables. They sat at a little table. "So how have you been?"
"Ok. For the most part." Bette took a drink. "I feel a little gutted I guess."
"Hey you know, things work out for the best in the end. You gotta believe that." Shane picked up her drink. "It'll get better."
"You think so?" Bette asked more out of interest than the need to be reassured.
"Oh yeah. Hell yeah." Shane smiled. "You know you and Tina were kind of my ideal couple. I want what you have."
"Had." Bette corrected her. She had never really known this about Shane.
"Nah man. Have." Shane smiled that smile that makes you smile. "Trust me."
The conversation with Shane had stuck with Bette all day. Shane was like no one Bette had ever met. She smiled. She hoped Shane found what she was looking for in life.
"Bette?" James stood in the door.
"Huh?" She looked at the door.
"I asked if you were ready? Some of the artists have begun to arrive." He smiled. "You ok?"
"Yeah, I'm ok." She stood. "I'll be right out."
"Great I'll let them know." He said before closing the door.
After dressing, Bette emerged from her office and made her way towards the exhibit, where the artists were beginning to congregate. She made her way from one to the other, telling them what a pleasure it had been working with them and how much she enjoyed the exhibit.
Tina looked at Alice and Dana. They were very cute together. She looked at Shane, who was playing it stag tonight. She smiled back to Tina. Then she looked at the man standing next to her. He was handsome and charming. Very sexy. And in the middle of a not so good divorce if she understood the gossip at work. She felt for him. She sucked in her breath and gathered her courage. "Ok, lets do this."
Inside Bette was standing off to the side, watching the guests begin to arrive. They were all nicely dressed and most of them very rich. "Just the way the CAC likes them." She muttered to herself.
"What?" James asked, bringing her a glass of champagne.
"Oh nothing. Just being cynical again." She smiled at him. "You look good tonight."
He blushed slightly. "Thank you. So do you."
"I wanted to let you know you've been the best assistant anyone could hope for."
"Thank you." His smile was getting bigger.
"I told Franklin you would be ready to get more involved with the next show. Maybe make a few decisions. A little bump in responsibility, a little bump in title, and a little bump in pay." Bette was always happy to help those who truly cared about the art. And James did.
"Really?" His eyes shown with tears. "Oh God, Bette... Thank you." `He hugged her without thinking.
She found herself laughing. She hugged him back. "James you don't need to thank me. You deserve every bit of it."
Tina entered and looked around. "Wow. What a turn out."
Alice nodded. "I thought it might be packed. The mag wants a story on it."
"I'm sure Bette would be happy to help you." Tina said, scanning the crowd.
"Lets go over here." Eric said pointing to a less crowded area. He turned to the others. "We'll see you later." He almost pulled Tina over to the corner. "What's up with this?"
She looked at him. "I told you it was an exhibit."
"You didn't say it was Bette's." His jaw clenched. "Why am I here?"
"You're here because I invited you." Tina knew what he was getting at, but couldn't bring herself to admit it.
"You invited me because you are proud to be with me, or to make her jealous?" He growled.
"I invited you because you are my friend. And I didn't want to come alone." She placed her hand on his arm. "Your being here has nothing to do with Bette." She lied.
He looked at her. "Ok." He smiled. "I'm sorry."
Bette noticed Tina and Eric in the corner, standing close. She sighed and turned to move in another direction when someone caught her arm. "Bette?"
"Alice. I'm so glad you could come." She smiled at her friend.
"The place is packed." Alice said looking around.
"We had such wonderful support for the exhibit." Bette said trying to avoid looking at Tina and Eric.
"All because of you." Alice said warmly.
"Thanks." Bette smiled and squeezed Alice's arm.
Tina had watched as Bette calmly made her way through the gallery. She wished more than anything she had spoken to her. She turned to the painting in front of her. It was beautiful. She wasn't sure she could explain why, but there was something warm and comfortable about it. She had been starring at it so long she had lost track of time. Suddenly someone's hand was by her face and she looked up. Bette was standing in front of her, looking as beautiful as ever. She couldn't help herself so she smiled softly.
Bette held out her hand. "Your earing was in your hair."
Tina reached out and placed her hand on the earring. "Thank you." She gently took the earring out of Bette's hand. "It happens once in a while."
Bette nodded and turned to look at the painting with Tina. "You like it?"
"I do. But I'm not sure why." Tina replied. "It's familiar."
Bette nodded. "It should be. It's the piece you liked so much seven years ago in my studio."
Tina turned and looked at Bette. "I should go."
Bette nodded. "I understand." She glanced over at the table holding a tray of glasses and noticed Tina's earring. "Tina..." She took a step towards her.
Tina turned and looked at Bette. She saw the earring in Bette's hand. "Did I leave that?"
"Yes." Bette said slowly reaching out her hand, earring in it.
Tina stepped forward and placed her hand on Bette's. "I would have come back for it." She said softly. She took a step into Bette's personal space. She leaned her head in towards Bette, her lips almost touching her cheek. "I was planning on coming back." she wisped into Bette's ear.
Bette felt her body tingle. Tina's hot breath on her cheek and neck was intoxicating. "You were?" She wasn't sure she understood. Come back for her or the earring? Tina gave a soft smile and took her earring. Then she turned and walked away.
Bette needed a break and she found herself heading towards her office. "Bette?" A familiar voice called to her. She turned. It was Eric.
Bette turned towards Eric just outside her dark office. "Yes?"
Eric was handsomely dressed as he stood beside her. "I was wondering what you were doing tonight."
"I was going to file something and then head home." Bette replied.
"I meant, with Tina. I saw you talking to her. She is here with me." His voice was cool.
"It's my job to mingle with the guests." She said coldly. "What do you want?"
"I'm telling you now, Tina is mine." His voice was hard, brimming with anger.
"No. Tina belongs to herself. And IF she ever allows anyone close to her again, they will be lucky." She took a deep breath. "I'm sorry for this whole mess. What happened was wrong and I have ended up paying with my life. Tina was everything to me and I didn't realize it until it was too late." She looked at her hands. "You could have anyone you wanted. Why Tina?"
"But Tina is out of your picture. You need to get on with your life. There will be others." He looked at her. "Besides I thought there was no such thing as a committed lesbian relationship."
Bette turned around, eyes flashing with anger. "You know nothing about Tina and me. For me, she was the end all be all. And until I say otherwise, she always will be." She clenched her teeth. "Now please leave or I will call security."
"Call your security. Just remember I'm the one going home with Tina. Not you." He said smugly before turning and walking back to where the guests were.
Bette took a deep breath and headed into her dark office. She flipped on the small light on her desk and jumped back, startled at the figure on her couch.
"Am I really your end all be all?" Tina asked quietly. She had been there, intending to make Bette squirm a little. But she heard everything that had been said out in the hall. Now she just wanted to know how Bette felt.
Bette looked down. She was caught off guard and emotionally open. "Yes." She said softly.
Tina stood and moved towards Bette. "Am I your life? Is that how you think of me?" She asked.
Bette looked up and tried to see Tina's face, but the light cast shadow over it. "Yes." She was afraid of what might happen with this line of questioning.
Tina stepped close to Bette. "I'm not sure I can understand completely." She took Bette's hand in her own. "I don't understand what I did wrong." She placed Bette's hand over her heart. "But what you did or didn't do or what you say or don't say doesn't change how I feel here."
Bette felt her heart beating in time with Tina's. "What does that mean?" She dared ask. She was afraid to know, but she had no choice but to ask.
Tina brushed away a lock of Bette's hair from her face. "It means I love you. And what I said was wrong. I can work through this with you. If you can give me time to heal."
"All the time you need." Bette thought for sure her heart would explode."but what about Eric?"
"I never told Eric we were anything more than friends." She caressed Bette's face.
"So there is nothing there?"
"No." Tina's brown eyes were clear and bright. "It's you."
Bette leaned in and gave Tina a sweet soft kiss. "I love you."
"I love you too." Tina smiled at Bette. "So we need to talk and decide what the next move is."
Bette moved her hand from Tina's heart and ran her fingertips over Tina's face. "You are so beautiful baby."
Tina blushed. It had been a very long time since Bette had touched her like that. "We need to talk about what's next." She repeated.
Bette smiled. "Dating? Moving in? We've done it all. Do we start over?"
"I think we need to start with talking and maybe a little dating." Tina smiled.
"Breakfast tomorrow?" Bette asked.
"Ok. Breakfast at the Planet before work." Tina leaned in and kissed Bette gently on the lips. It took everything she had not to make it more.
Bette wrapped her arms around Tina's waist and pulled her close as they kissed. She could feel Tina's body against hers and she wanted more.
Tina broke off the kiss. "Ok." She smiled. "Slowly."
Bette nodded. "Slowly." She released her hold on Tina. "Tomorrow, Breakfast."
Tina smiled coyly. "So will you be taking me home?"
Bette raised an eyebrow. "Ms. Kennard, are you flirting with me?"
Tina looked into her lover's eyes. "I'm asking you to come home with me. To stay."
Bette felt light headed. "With Pleasure."
They lay together on their bed, entangled in each other. Bette began to help Tina out of her dress when Tina stopped her. "Wait."
"Why?" Bette asked, her voice almost a whisper.
"Baby we need to slow down and take it one day at a time. I want you back here, but maybe we shouldn't do this... just yet." Tina caressed Bette's face.
Bette nodded. "So what are the rules?" She tried to keep the disappointment out of her voice.
"Can we just be together tonight?" Tina asked.
Bette hated herself for the way she felt. "Yes." She lay down with Tina in her arms. She kissed her lover's forehead. "We need to just be together before we can BE together again."
Tina snuggled into Bette. "Thank you." Bette felt Tina against her and put aside her longing. This could be enough. She and Tina drifted off to sleep wrapped together.
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