DISCLAIMER: The L Word does not belong to me, but belongs to Ilene Chaiken and Showtime.
SPOILERS: Only if you haven't seen the first season of Showtime's The L Word.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

We Are Family
By Ms. S. E. ("Gargy") Hammond

Part 3

"This afternoon at 2:15 would be perfect." Bette hung-up the phone with the biggest smile in the world, feeling like everything was going to be alright.

Bette actually made it through the board meeting without so much as breaking a sweat. She through her presentation and each and every board member unanimously voted in favor of her choice for the Spring 2005 Exhibit. It was an early meeting starting at 8 am promptly; her 20-minute presentation actually took her half the time.

And here it was 8:20 am and Bette was sitting in her office with her legs crossed atop of each other on her desktop, her hands were clasped behind her head, starring off into space with a hopeful smile plastered on her face, and sighing a breath a breath of relief.

"This might actually work."

**She had sat at that table in her big, empty house all alone just weeping and shaken mercilessly for like 2 hours.

Thinking back on the last 4 years of her life, she was surprised at what she could remember. Recalling the 3 am call from her assistant and her with Tina rushing out to see her gallery engulfed in flames. What made it even worse, was the fact that the gallery had just closed, not 2 hours ago, on it's biggest (and most expensive) show's opening. She had remarkably held it together. The months that followed were grueling: the paperwork, the reports, the meetings with all kinds of people was all daunting. Eventually came the day when everything started to look-up. Bette had just signed her last check for the gallery: paying the last of the artist for their destroyed original at 10 am. By 10:05 am her entire world was beginning to fall apart again.

"The funeral is at 2 pm, then there will be a graveside service immediately following, and her friends at the church will be holding a reception for all of us at grandfather's." David, Bette's nephew informed her. He was a good man, her mother wasn't even his grandmother biologically, but they loved each other like they were blood-relation.

"I'll talk to Tina and we will make arrangements. I'll call later this afternoon. Thanks for calling, David." She hung-up the phone, immediately picking-it up again and called Tina.

"Of course, baby, I am available to go," Tina, reassuring Bette, "I am calling it a day, okay, and coming home."

Bette knew she was right in the middle of an extremely busy day and even made it out to make it out to be no big deal, Bette also knew that Tina was not really available for the funeral and all. She had a week long trip coming up in 2 days for some conference in Chicago.

Somehow Tina had managed to equally divide her work load between her 3 most experienced executives underneath her. She was actually home by 10:45 am and did not leave Bette's side until she had to go back to work 2 days after they got back from DC. She was now the soul income for the household. Sure Bette had savings, but they weren't enough to re-build or open a new gallery; besides it was no longer just her money. Bette and Tina had pooled all their money into 2 joint accounts: a checking and savings accounts. Most of their money was now going into this house they just bought together and moved right into after they got back from their beautiful Virgin Islands Honeymoon, they had taken for 2 weeks.

Bette drove her brand-new convertible Saab, which was also, was just at the start of its 6 year payment plan. She had put together impressive resume' packages and was now sending them out to all the galleries in the So-Cal area, she even sent some to the San Francisco area also. When they replied with either form letters of "Thank you, but no thanks," or letters that informed her there were currently no director openings and wishing her much success with her career; she would first get frustrated and angry, eventually she just withdrew and begun to repress herself.

She was now 32 years old and she was being taken care of by her 26 year old wife. She was not used to it at all. Hell, she resented it every time "daddy" would bring it up. At first he'd just backhandedly (subtedly, however) encourage her to continue to keep fighting for her dreams. Gradually, he'd start to say he did not understand why she'd be content with going to galleries just to attend some show or to admire the works on display (even though she explained to Melvin, time and time again, that she was keeping herself in the loop and with her colleagues). Finally towards the end he was clearly telling her of his disappointment that she'd just allow Ms. Kennard to take care of her. Always referring to their relationship as nothing more than a friendship. Bette began going with Tina on her endless trips, putting her resume' packages in with the galleries in the area in the first 2 days. The rest of the time she sought out local collectors and artist; telling herself she was broadening her contacts and "horizons". While Tina was tucked away in some meeting of some kind or another, she'd be admiring art for hours on end. Sometimes she'd be lucky enough to be able to attend openings with Tina. However, those were few and far between.

The scary part of the whole thing is that they were slowly growing apart. They had their own things, Tina was always busy and Bette was trying not to add stress to Tina's life. Tina was always supportive, asking how Bette's day was. However, it was Bette that was keeping things from Tina. "Protecting her" was how Bette was seeing it in her mind.

Perhaps Bette wanted something to get "daddy" of her back and make him happy for a change. Maybe that's why when she started seeing more and more news reports and articles on gay parenting issues; she became determined to start a family with Tina. Of course, she was not about to tell Melvin anything until either herself or Tina was pregnant.

Tina was remarkably really gung-ho to start their family. So, Bette would spend her days researching all the possibilities on-line and at the library, then she'd discuss what she found that day with Tina over dinner, discussing every possible option. Initially they had wanted to adopt, but after months and months of running into red tape and all kinds of obstacles, they opted for insemination. That took even more research and six more months. Doctor Wilson had done all kinds of test on them and it soon became apparent that Tina was the one healthy enough (physically, mentally, emotionally, and personality wise) to be impregnated and to carry the child. Bette was relived, she was not looking forward to all the "discomforts" of pregnancy; yet she was amazed at how more research she had to do just for the insemination.

Tina was trying unsuccessfully just about everything to get pregnant, for like a year. That was when Franklin, the Director of the Board at The California Art Center, had called her for an interview. Their current Museum Director was leaving at the end of the year and they wanted his replacement in place and ready to take over in January. It was only mid-April 2003 when they signed Bette's contract and she was being paid in trainee status for the rest of the year. The pay was more than good enough and when she finally took over in January, it'd come with a 50% automatic pay raise. That's why when Dr. Wilson told them that it was Tina's stress-level that was quite possibly the main reason why Tina was having failure to conceive; the main level of stress in Tina's life was her job. That's why she gave her 2 weeks notice in mid-April and cut back her hours, trained her replacement, and gave her best 2nd year intern the best news of her young life (she was graduating at the end of May from UCLA) that she'd be starting her career 4 weeks ahead of schedule. And Tina was officially outta' there the last Friday in April.

Their roles switched and now Bette was the bread winner (which pleased Melvin) for the family and Tina was home, relaxing, and trying to prepare her body for pregnancy. However, that did not change their situation any. Bette was more stressed out than ever. Apparently, the current director did not have her work ethic nor her love for art. He got her comfortable with everything, just barely though, and then he virtually disappeared. Sure she'd see him leaving board meetings, other than that he was the invisible man. He left her to oversee and implement his last 2 shows, take over the art talks (not that she minded, she actually loved the art talks) and overall workings of the gallery. Thank God for James, he seemed a very capable young men. He could go far in the art world, but he just seemed comfortable right where he was. Bette envied him that. She was always looking for bigger and better. The stress was enormous, yet she did not want to burden Tina with too much, that was why she'd only give surface details to Tina. Perhaps, that's where trouble always was, Bette being closed-off and getting way too comfortable in it.**

"Franklin, this might be my only opportunity at a 2nd chance with the best thing that has or ever will happen to me. Tina is my life. So, if you have to fire me, then so be it," Bette fearlessly told Franklin, while looking him dead in the eyes as he sat across the desk in her office.

He actually smiled genuinely at Bette, "Good for you, I sure hope she realizes how lucky she is to have you," Franklin said as he stood up. Just about to walk out the door he turns, "Oh, and Ms. Porter-you will always have a job here," winking and then he was gone.

Part 4

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