DISCLAIMER: Unfortunately, Showtime haven't returned my emails begging to buy the characters off them. But we could have so much fun!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Smashed into Little Pieces
She didn't even think before she called her. She needed her to come and hold her. To tell her everything was going to be ok.
Even though it never would be again.
But, it was still a shock when she heard Tina's voice on the other end of the phone. She hadn't even realised she had called her. She had just done it automatically, because she knew that she needed Tina now more than ever.
Tina's voice cut straight through her defences and shook her out of the daze she'd been in for the past 24 hours. Made her realise that it wasn't just a horrible dream. That it was real.
And she broke down completely.
Tina's heart sank when she saw Bette's cell number on the caller display. This last month Bette had been trying desperately to talk to her. She'd had an email every morning, a call every evening, and every few days Bette would turn up at Alice's asking to see her. But Tina had ignored her. Deleted the messages and locked herself in Alice's spare bedroom when she came round.
But Bette just wasn't getting the hint.
Tina felt a wave of rage begin to rise in her throat. How dare Bette call her while she was at work?! She knew she'd gone back to work, Alice had told her, so what was she doing ringing her at 11 on a Tuesday morning?
Against her better judgement she let her anger take over, and she answered the call, fully intending to give Bette an ear-bashing.
"What the fuck are you playing at? Why don't you realise "
She stopped suddenly when she heard the heart-wrenching sobs on the other end of the phone. This wasn't another of Bette's slightly tearful apologies, with a few sniffles thrown in as she begged Tina to come back. She could hear the difference in her crying. She was in agony. She was desperate.
The crying increased, and her heart stopped when she heard the sound of something smash, then a dull thud.
"Baby, are you ok?" Tina was really worried. Bette never cried. Not like this.
~Baby, please, talk to me. What's going on? Are you ok?~
"I I " Bette tried to speak, but she was crying too hard. She couldn't stop the sobs long enough to catch her breath, let alone speak. God, why
"I need you," she blurted, somehow managing to form the words. "T please "
~I'm here baby. What do you need me to do? Where are you?~
"I'm I'm at the house."
~I'll come round. Will you be alright till I get there?~
~I'll be half an hour.~
She heard the line go dead, and she let the phone drop out of her hand. It shattered, but she didn't care. She didn't care about anything.
Crouching into a ball, she put her head in her hands and just let the tears fall.
Tina was already half out of the office, jacket and keys in hand, before she'd ended the call. She didn't even consider the fact that this was the first time she'd spoken to Bette since she'd walked out, and she'd just gone running to her aid. All she knew was that Bette needed her.
And she still loved her. Still wanted to ease her pain.
She told her boss she had a family emergency and ran to her car. As she pulled out of the car park she called Alice, and told her what was going on. Alice, being her usual self, wondered if Bette was just faking to get Tina to come to her, but Tina knew it was real.
"Al, you didn't hear her. She was I can't describe it. I know something awful has happened. We were together seven years. I can't just turn off my feelings for her. She needs me."
Alice still sounded doubtful, but agreed that Tina was doing the right thing. After promising to call as soon as she knew what was going on, Tina hung up and concentrated on weaving in and out of the Los Angeles traffic.
Twenty five minutes later, Tina pulled into the drive of her old home, noting with surprise that Bette's car wasn't there. As she was making her way up to the front porch it struck her that she should feel some kind of sadness at coming back to the place that had held her best and worst memories.
But all she felt was panic.
She hadn't been able to face taking her key back to Bette, so she let herself into the house, her worry overriding all other emotions. She dropped her bag at the door and walked further into the house, briefly wondering why all the blinds were down.
What she saw when she turned the corner to the living room made her heart stop.
Bette was crouched in the corner, her face pressed into her legs as her shoulders heaved with silent sobs. The table next to her had been knocked over, the vase it had held smashed into little pieces.
Smashed into little pieces. Just like Bette.
She heard the door open, but couldn't find the energy or the will to get up. What was the point? There was no point in anything anymore.
The footsteps came nearer, and she heard a gasp. A few seconds later Tina was there, she could smell her, hear her voice and feel her embrace round her shoulders.
"Oh God, Bette baby, I'm here. Everything's ok, I'm here."
Tina rubbed her back as she pulled her in tight, saying words that Bette barely heard. She just flung her arms round Tina's waist and held on for dear life as she cried.
"Oh God, Bette baby, I'm here. Everything's ok, I'm here."
Tina cringed as she heard herself say those words. She was completely lost; she'd never seen Bette this way before and she didn't know what to do.
Suddenly Bette's sobs weren't silent anymore; they were so loud, and Tina felt a pain shoot through her heart as Bette's arms went round her and pulled her closer.
"Let it all out," she whispered, smoothing her hair as Bette buried her head in her neck. "I've got you. You're safe."
She cried until she felt she had no more tears left in her body. Tina held her all that time, rocking her and stroking her hair comfortingly. Tina said she was safe, and she felt it. She felt safe for the first time in too long.
When she'd managed to get her breath back, Tina guided her over to the sofa, drawing her into her arms as they sat down. After a few minutes of silence, Tina finally spoke, asking the question she'd been dreading.
"Bette, what's happened?"
As soon as she asked it, she felt Bette tense up. When Bette turned her head and made eye contact for the first time she almost recoiled at the anguish she saw there, and for a moment she was worried that she was going to start crying again. But, her eyes also held exhaustion, and she knew Bette was all cried out.
"C'mon, you've got to tell me," she murmured encouragingly, reaching out to push Bette's unkempt hair behind her ear.
I've got tell her. I've got to tell her that
I can't. I can't do it. I'm not strong enough. If I say the words, there's no going back. It's happened and it's real. I can't say them.
Tina watched as a fearful expression came over Bette's face, and she ached to take away her pain. But, until she knew what was going on, she couldn't.
"What's happened?" she asked again, resting her palm against Bette's tear stained cheek and caressing it.
Bette opened her mouth to speak, then shut it abruptly and took a deep breath.
Tina blinked. And blinked again.
Nah, she didn't just say what I thought she said, did she?
"What?" she croaked, her eyes wide.
"She's dead Tina. She'd been drinking and she got in a car and "
Bette shuddered, and Tina automatically reached out for her and pulled her into a hug. She placed her chin on Bette's shoulder and tried to process what she'd just been told.
She could feel Bette trembling, and she was trembling too. She couldn't be dead. Its impossible. She was doing so well, going to the meetings, talking to her son
She couldn't be dead.
Tina was shaking, but Bette hardly noticed. She was just thinking about Kit, in that hospital bed She needed to tell Tina all of it. Everything that had transpired this last day. Maybe then she could stop the images playing over and over in her head.
"She crashed into a wall. Oh God it was the worst thing I've ever seen. Daddy phoned me, told me she was in hospital. There there was so much blood. I saw them, the doctors, they tried really hard. And they stabilised her, they did. For a while. She went up to intensive care, and I sat with her for a few hours. But she she had hit her head too hard, and she "
Bette trailed off, her heart thumping as she remembered the blind panic she'd been in when her sister's body had begun to convulse. She began to sweat again, and she clenched her fists over and over, staring blankly at the wall opposite.
Tina sensed the change in Bette, felt the tension in her muscles moments before Bette tore out of Tina's embrace, scrambling to the other end of the couch. She pushed her knuckles into her eyes, shaking her head madly as if trying to dislodge the memory. Tina reached out her hand to calm her, but Bette knocked it away and stood up, the pain in her eyes replaced by anger.
"Why did she had to leave me? Why? She was all I had left!" she shouted, glaring at Tina. "She left me! I'd lost my baby, my wife, and now I've lost my sister. How could she do this to me?!"
Suddenly, Bette's anger seemed to melt away, and she almost crumbled onto the floor. Tina lunged and just managed to catch her before she fell onto the coffee table, and she just held her as she wept.
"How could she do this to me?" she repeated in a whisper.
She felt Tina guiding her towards their bedroom. No
She stopped dead in her tracks, right before Tina reached out to turn the door handle.
"No," she told her. "Not in there. I can't go in there." She pointed to the spare room. "But I can go in there."
Tina nodded, but Bette knew she didn't understand. She began to take off her shirt, but found that her fingers were too weak to undo the buttons. She fumbled with them, getting frustrated, but Tina closed her hand round Bette's and pulled them away. She slowly undressed Bette and helped her get into some sweats, then pulled back the covers so she could get into bed.
"Thanks," she said weakly, climbing in and sinking into the soft pillows. Tina sat on the side of the bed, reaching out to wipe a few tears from under Bette's eyes.
"Will you be ok?" she asked, letting her hand drift down the side of her face.
"Maybe. I don't know," Bette replied honestly. "But can you stay with me till I fall asleep?"
She took a moment to reply, but when she did the look of relief on Bette's face told her she had made the right one.
"Of course," she whispered, kicking off her shoes and laying next to Bette, who immediately snuggled into her arms. Tina played lightly with her hair, listening carefully to Bette's slowing breathing.
Bette was almost asleep, when she heard her murmur those three words.
"I love you."
"I love you."
Tina tensed up, her hand stopping its motion in mid air.
I love you.
Bette used to say it every night, just before they fell asleep. Even this last year, when they often went to bed furious with each other, Bette would always say it just before she dropped off.
Seems like this last month hadn't broken her out of the habit.
Tina felt a wave of anger wash over her, and she half considered waking Bette up and telling her exactly what she thought of her supposed 'love'. Then she remembered what she was here for. No matter how angry she was at Bette, now wasn't the time. She couldn't do that to her.
I love you.
She leant over and placed a soft kiss on Bette's forehead, then disentangled herself from her embrace, trying to be as gentle as possible. She was still for a moment, to see if Bette had woken up, and when she saw she hadn't she quietly tiptoed from the room.
Standing in the hallway, she found her eyes drawn to the closed door of their bedroom. She didn't want to go in there. She knew that if she did she'd be haunted by memories of her and Bette making love. She was hard enough standing in the hallway, remembering all the times they didn't quite make it to the bedroom, when their passion was too strong
But why wouldn't Bette go in there? Was there something in there she was trying to hide from her?
What would she want to hide from me ?
Tina's eyes widened as a horrible thought struck her.
Oh God What if Candace has moved in? Maybe her stuff is in there, and Bette didn't want me to see
She had no choice now. She had to know. She'd go mad otherwise.
Hand slightly trembling, she reached out and rested her hand on the doorknob. She took a deep breath, steeling herself, then turned it and opened the door quickly, stepping into the room.
What she saw, however, wasn't what she had been expecting.
The room was exactly how it had been when she'd left a month ago. Her dress, torn to shreds, lay on the floor where she'd dropped it. The closet doors and drawers were still flung open after she'd grabbed some things leaving Bette crying on the bed
Her eyes were drawn to their bed, taking in the rumpled bedclothes. The aftermath of their fight.
She wanted to look away, but she couldn't. Even though her heart was resisting, her feet carried her forward till she was stood at its foot. Shaking, she lightly touched the creases with her fingertips, flashes of that night speeding through her mind.
Quickly she left the room and shut the door behind her, images playing through her head like a video clip on loop. Now she understood why Bette was living out of the spare room.
That memory is enough to drive any person insane.
Wiping away the tears she hadn't even realised were there, she went downstairs, seeing the house properly for the first time since she'd got there. It looked so familiar, she could walk through blindfold and not bump into anything, but it looked so strange. Empty, like the people living there had just upped and left one day.
Well, one of them had. The other, it seemed, wasn't really looking after the house or herself very well. The garden plants were wilted and dying, thirsty and crowded by the weeds that had sprung up. The bins in the kitchen overflowed with take out cartons, the fridge and cupboards were bare. There was a collection of empty Jack Daniel's bottles by the back door, which surprised her. Bette never really drank it, said that no matter how much she loved the taste, it got her too drunk for her liking.
Which, she supposed, must have been the point this last month.
Frowning, Tina opened the alcohol cabinet and found a half full bottle, and two unopened bottles. Shaking her head at the extent of Bette's demise, she poured all of it down the sink. It seemed Bette had become everything she hated.
She set the bottles down and wandered into the living room, running her hands over the shelves and books, until she got to their photo albums. She pulled out the one from a few years ago, when the whole gang had gone to San Fransisco for a week. She sat down on the sofa and began to flick through it, smiling inwardly at the memories.
There was Alice pushing Bette in the pool, then Bette getting Alice back a few hours later by pouring ice water on her back as she sunbathed. Bette and Tina standing in the garden with a sunset behind them, oblivious to Alice's photographer antics as they made out. There was Kit, standing at the barbeque and threatening Bette with a spatula
Suddenly it hit her. She had been so focused on Bette's pain that she hadn't quite taken it all in. Kit was dead.
Kit, who had been like a sister to her for these past seven years. Kit, who had always made sure she was safe and kept her from loneliness when Bette went away on business. Kit, who had always sent Bette back to her after they'd argued.
She was gone. Dead. Never coming back.
She let the phone album fall from her fingers as she started to cry. Crying for the loss of her friend, the nature of her death. She felt so guilty; they had been so wrapped up in their own problems lately that she hadn't even realised Kit was slowly slipping, succumbing to her craving for alcohol. That thought made her cry even harder.
To Be Continued
Return to The L Word Fiction
Return to Main Page