DISCLAIMER: Venice The Series and its characters are the property of Open Book Productions. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Season One.

If it walks like a duck
By Alexn




The wind peppered sand against her legs. She wished she had worn slacks, but Ani liked her in this skirt. It didn't matter though. Ani wasn't interested, not anymore. Ani was letting her go.

Michele called it.

She was supposed to let Ani go but Ani turned the tables. If she had the guts, she would have set Ani free long ago. They would still be friends, be something to each other. Now Ani didn't want her to call. Ani needed space, space, maybe forever.

Even Michele couldn't answer the real question. How did she let someone go who has been a part of her? Someone who filled that gnawing hole inside, even for a moment. But it was only borrowed, she should have known that. She did know that. She just didn't want to know the things she knew. Magic was better. Distraction was good.

There were those moments though. When she was pursuing someone and she could see the end in sight, the hole never made an appearance. It didn't matter if it was an account or sex. She never felt anything but solid at work. The chase and the capture. Fucking, she was good at that too, so those feelings abated, disappeared in the fifth martini, in the endorphin rush of cumming, winning a bet or taking an account away from someone else.

She was a cat chasing rabbits. Everything was great, sometimes she even caught the rabbit. But once she caught the rabbit and played with it a bit, it died. She couldn't take care of a rabbit. Rabbits were for chasing, not playing house. Owen was just as lost, at least they were lost together. It was her father's fault, her mother's for leaving her with him. Another irrational thought. Damn. This moment would pass, it always did. Mostly this didn't matter. Life was fine.

She should send something to Ani, something to apologize for the past two years. No, she should call Michelle and check in about the Parker, they'd been calling again. She thought she was clear, she was going to have to be mean. There was always so much to do. They needed to get the color consultant on board with the painting contractor for the Omni job. She had five emails to return in the time she'd been walking from Ani's shoot, back to her car. Better get on it.



Ani stared at the phone in disbelief. 'What's that saying? What doesn't kill me, doesn't kill me.' She felt sadder, not stronger. She shook her head and then gave up and put it down against her hands resting on the table. She let herself cry.

She had to coach Gina through everything, even letting her go. She replayed the conversation, rethinking what she said and the things she could have said. 'The way this works, girlfriend, is that you don't call me. Remember I said, 'No,' when you asked if you could call me? You asked, I said 'No.' Why did you ask if you didn't mean it?' No, that's rhetorical.

You don't know what you mean anymore than you know what you want.

Fucking Logan and Fucking John.

"You don't even hear yourself anymore," she said to the cell phone. "'I don't want to hurt you. I don't want to be that person,'" she parroted what Gina had said. 'Don't you get that means we're still talking about you? What you want. How about me?'

She saw flashes of who Gina could be, it kept her idling in Gina's orbit. What was hope and what was foolish? It was stupid now, glaringly obvious, she was trying to change Gina. She punctuated that thought with laughter. "I'll deny it if anyone asks me." She said to the cell phone. "I get it, I get you and I don't want to change you anymore, it hurts too much. I wish you'd change yourself."

She looked out at the water and decided it was time to come in.



She didn't sleep, tossing and turning as Gina invaded every corner of her dreams. Second guessing what wasn't even a choice. "You don't want me in the way that I want to be wanted." It was almost too painful to admit. She wished they were ending some other way.

She crawled out of bed, needing to run errands before her shoot. She had to get on with it. There was no coffee left in the container, 'Of course, perfect.' She'd have to get some out. After the dry cleaners and before the bank. She have to rely on her shower to wake her up today.

Hurrying out into the morning sun, she was already off schedule. Uncoordinated and bobbling, she was sleep deprived and it was showing. Caffeine called to her. She swore as she forced her phone into her bag.

Digging through her bag, her wallet was nowhere to be found. "How perfect," she thought. She'd left her wallet in her camera bag. It was embarrassing and just perfect. She could not pay for the coffee she just ordered and there was no rock under which to crawl. The gorgeous woman next to her saved her from complete humiliation and paid for her coffee, the cofee she was now sloshing onto the counter. The woman was smiling and handing her napkins. The woman with the luminescent eyes was flirting with her. She was sweet and interesting and interested in her. A distraction, a beautiful distraction.



'Why does everyone bring you up?' She said "ultimately", if we ultimately end up together. Maybe she read my mind. Auntie Jane. Guya. Maybe there's something to that. She laughed to herself.

She didn't know why she had called Ani. Out loud and to herself she said, "I just needed to hear your voice, I didn't mean to mess with your head." She knew that was what Ani thought, that she was messing with her head. 'I didn't mean that, I'm not like that, I wouldn't do that.' Maybe she'd lost that right, to call and say 'Hi.". Maybe she gave that up.

Ani didn't understand. Gina wanted a relationship with her, just not that relationship. She didn't want that with anyone. Again out loud she said, 'I can't do that and you know that I can't do that.' It wasn't fair to ask. It was only a matter of time until Tracy saw it too.



A giant grin hijacked her face the moment she thought of Lara. Amazing. She took a risk, she let Gina go and someone immediately appeared. It's how the universe worked. She had to make space to let someone else in. And what a someone.

So far Lara seemed wonderful. She was beautiful and fun, smart too. She had a great smile and the most amazing eyes. 'I must fall for eyes,' she thought.

As she wandered home she reviewed what she knew about her new friend. Lara was kind and generous, she paid for coffee for a stranger. She tried to make it okay that Ani was so frazzled. She was outgoing and friendly. She had family and was connected. She had good friends, old friends, one who would open the hottest restaurant in Venice early just as a favor. Some friend.

Lara was genuine, and she could talk about herself in a real way. Solid and grounded. No games. She didn't push to sleep together, she was fine with moving slow, dating. She took charge of an awkward moment and turned it into a sweet and memorable first kiss. They spent time getting to know each other and it was comfortable and Lara could make her laugh, a big plus. She was interested in photography and had a similar aesthetic. That was a fun moment. A Paul Girl, she clearly had good taste in music too.

Surprisingly she was a best selling author who wasn't full of herself. She made it to the New York Times bestseller's list yet didn't expect that Ani should know who she was. She was humble. There's a difference, she thought caustically. She tried not to compare her to Gina, it wasn't fair to either of them. Still it was hard not to drift into the inevitable contrasts because there were so many.

She said they'd see each other again and Ani wondered if tomorrow was too soon.



She woke up in a cold sweat. Sitting up, she tried to orient herself, the dream began to fray and fade away, leaving her with just a feeling. Jane, she was worried about Jane. It was irrational, she'd seen her aunt just a few days earlier. She lay back down and practiced breathing, the way Ani had taught her. She tried to relax. She'd call Jane in the morning.

She rolled over and considered why she was dreaming about loss? Maybe it was an anniversary connected her mother, she scanned her memorized calendar of all the important dates and there was nothing there. Maybe it was Sami. She was encroaching on Owen's heart and time. What if he picked up and moved to Africa to save babies or build dams or whatever it was this new saint did? She could not lose him and be left with only John from her original life. Her first life. The one from back before anyone knew what gay was and before her mother died. That world, their happy family before everything plunged into the hell that John created.

She would call Owen and apologize for being a bitch right after she called Jane to tell her about the dream. Guya would like that.



Gina's girlfriend seemed brittle in an "I've been in therapy since I was 16" sort of way. Her body language screamed boundaries and practiced assertiveness. She was attractive, older than Ani would have guessed but Ani could see what Gina saw in her. Of course Ani knew in what direction Gina's taste in women leaned.

Still, it was worse than she imagined, seeing Gina laughing with someone else. There in that cozy little circle, where she used to be, with Owen and Michele, that would have been her two years ago. She used to have a seat at that table.

She told Lara it was like a stake in her heart but that wasn't quite right. The stake pierced every vital organ system on its way home. She could tell it stabbed her lungs taking away her breath and voice, her gut was next and she had to quell the initial waves of nausea. When it reached her heart the waves of nausea became a tsunami of pain cementing the reality that getting back together was not an option. Then Gina, as usual, made it all better, reminding Ani what a dick Gina really was.

No, she wasn't back because she was never gone. In another person that might have been a pointed remark, in Gina it was thoughtlessness. Funny, Lara was thoughtless in the good way and Gina in the bad way. Lara, without thought helped her out and Gina without thought reminded her of exactly how unimportant she was to her ex lover.

It would have been worse if she had not been with Lara. Something about Lara grounded her. Lara was without artifice and she was direct. Ani knew where she stood and where they stood. She was completely honest with Lara and Lara was completely honest in return. No word games, no Sudoku of feelings to move about in an attempt to get the right order and win her attention.

Lara asked if she was over Gina. She honestly wasn't sure and she said so. She wasn't sure why she wasn't sure, why she kept hoping for Gina to redeem herself. She had friends who thought she had a masochistic streak or a savior streak. I can help her change. Stupid. Stupid. She was looking forward to the day she could look at this relationship and see how it was a stepping stone for the real thing. She was one step closer, maybe she could honestly answer Lara soon, that she didn't want to get back with her.

She could tell she unnerved Gina and she felt a little guilty about how much she enjoyed her discomfort. 'Schadenfreude. Not her finest hour,' she thought.

Her ex didn't bother to introduce her girlfriend, Tracy. She felt bad for Tracy, she knew exactly how that felt yet she irrationally hated her guts. She also enjoyed that they were bound to have words, to process, after she and Lara left and talking was torture for Gina. The problem with that picture was it was always followed by excellent make up sex. Some people weren't into makeup sex but Gina was, Gina was just into sex. Probably the same way she was into vodka, gambling and work. Everything to excess.

Maybe the beautiful brittle b..woman would get her to grow up.



Tracy is hot and we are so good together. My body keeps replaying her hands moving all over my skin in the hall and the living room and then toys we put to good use in the bedroom. Even kissing her goodbye this morning meant I needed another shower before I met with Alan. It probably would have turned the old pervert on. I'm not willing to go that far for an account.

She thinks I'm not over you.

It was excruciating seeing you with someone else. It practically killed me. I never thought about it, I knew you wanted space from me but I didn't really think about you with someone else. Guya thinks ultimately we'll be together. Maybe I thought you were just floating out there in space until I was ready to pull you back in. That sounds bad. Even to me and I don't mean it like that, I'm not like that. I just mean that I think Guya's right and that we could work, just not yet. I'm not there but someday I'll get there. It was never you, it wasn't me, it was just a mismatch of timing. Right people, wrong time.

Maybe Tracy is better for me anyhow. She can hold her own with me. I always felt dangerous around you, it was so easy to hurt you, unintentionally, and we'd both feel bad. I don't want to feel bad. Not anymore.



She sat staring out at the water, watching the colors play across the sky. The clouds competing. She watched the surfers trying to catch the last of the waves. Her mind was filled with Gina. It suddenly crystalized. Everything came together in a solid thought.

"I can't hold onto myself and to her at the same time." It's like what they say about rescuing a drowning person, sometimes you have to knock them unconscious or they will drown you as well. Sometimes you have to just let them go or you both will drown. With all their fear and thrashing about they have to cooperate and let you be in control to save them. Gina would drown, she never let anyone be in control or even share.

Gina should have been born a man in the 50's. She'd have been happier. Maybe she's too much like John. He's a judgmental ass and a bigot, she's not but she's as big of a coward. He's afraid to risk because someone could die on him again and she's afraid because of the mess Logan left inside her. But it's not that simple either. She was struggling before Logan. Same as John. Easier to keep everyone at a distance.

I love her. I like Lara. I've never felt about anyone the way I feel about Gina. I'd still choose Gina if she'd make a commitment and just try; she can't. I told Lara going back to Gina wasn't an option and it's not. No matter what I feel for her, it's just not an option.

She wanted to know how we moved this thing forward. She does not hear herself. Even asking that question, if she knew me, if she was paying attention to me, she would not have asked that question, at least not that way. She thinks that telling me that she's honest means that I should be different. It's her way or mine and it hasn't worked her way. Gina will drown me and I can't let that happen.



Her apartment felt cold and she wrapped herself in a blanket from the sofa. The energy was roiling through her and she did not know what to do with herself. She picked up a pillow and tossed it across the room. She was glad she didn't have a dog as she hit the side of the sofa with her hand.

"Fuck her. It's not fair. She asked for space. I gave her space. She wants to talk, I offered to talk. I hate to talk. She knows I hate to talk. Fuck her, fuck this. This is why I hate to talk. It always heads off down some road that I don't want to walk. It always goes somewhere I can't control. How dare she. She can't be my friend."

She grabbed the remaining pillow and hugged it to her chest. 'She is banishing me from her life. She treats me like I intentionally hurt her? She treats me like I'm toxic. I have done nothing wrong. It isn't my fault she had fantasies of building a life together. She wants love, hearts and flowers and a family. It's not fair. It makes me crazy. I can't do that, she knows I can't do that and she knows why I can't do that. It just makes me feel bad to harp on it all the time.'

Her mind could no longer contain the conversation she was having with herself. She jumped off the sofa and began to pace. Talking to herself and gesturing with her hands, she pointed and poked at an invisible Ani.

"This is what I get for being honest. I could have been an asshole. I could have been a player. I did not cheat. I did not lie. I have been honest from the beginning. We could still be together and I could be sleeping with half of the United Kingdom on the side and you wouldn't know it. I didn't do that damn it. You know me for Christ's sake. We were friends long before we were lovers. Why are you treating me like I did something wrong?"

She paced off to the window and looked out at the surf. Her mind trying to make sense of Ani.

'She can walk away from what we had together. How? It was a friendship first, why can't it go back to being a friendship? I know it matters to her, that we matter and still she can just amble off into the fucking sunset with Laura, Loretta, Lucifer, whatever. Leaving me.'

She stormed over to the counter and she glared at the choices of liquor. Nothing looked good. She poured herself a glass of something red from a bottle she had opened for Tracy two nights before. "What is it with people needing to live in the future? Everything is great in the moment and no one can stay there but me? Commitment, it even sounds like a fucking institution, --institution, perfect. It's all One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

She sat back down on the sofa and drank her wine. She took a deep breath and settled in.

'She said 'now.' She can't be my friend right 'now.' That's not forever even if it feels that way. I'll give her some more space.'

"Fine. Just fucking fine." She finished her glass.

The End

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