Reflections in Starlight by MutedTempest
Summary: What's past is past...until it isn't anymore.
Categories: The L Word, Shenny Characters: Alice Pieszecki, Cherie Jaffe, Helena Peabody, Kit Porter, Max Sweeney, Shane McCutcheon
Genres: AU, drama, romance, tragedy
Spoilers up through: TLW Season 6
Warnings: angst, AU, character death
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 3 Completed: No Word count: 6130 Read: 9101 Published: May 09, 2010 Updated: May 19, 2010
Story Notes:
Disclaimer: I own no characters or settings, more's the pity. No copyright infringement is intended.

This is a just a random little thing that suddenly appeared in my head a few months ago. Dusted it off the other night and kept writing, and I think I might go on.

For DD, as always, for encouraging me and being amazing.

1. Staring at the Walls by MutedTempest

2. No Real Answers by MutedTempest

3. Remnant of Emotion by MutedTempest

Staring at the Walls by MutedTempest
Shane was sitting in the photo studio again, for whatever it was worth. She tended to do that a lot lately. Whether it was masochism or a way to keep Jenny's memory alive didn't seem to make any difference. She was just there, staring blankly at the walls for hours on end. There wasn't anything else to do, and she had no desire to do it even if there had been.

The house was gone now, at least for her. She'd given it to Max, figuring he and the baby could use it a lot more than she could. Not that she could really bring herself to step inside anymore. The only thing she seemed to feel at all was empty, and it just got worse the more time she spent at the house. She hadn't wanted anyone else to touch Jenny's things, so she'd sorted them herself, despite the rest of them trying to talk her out of it. She felt like she owed it to Jenny, though, so she spent day after day in her room, looking through clothes and books and personal effects and feeling like she was losing it with each item.

She didn't know how, but she'd gotten through it. It was impossible to sleep in her own room and she couldn't handle the couch, so she's started to sleep in the car. Max had offered her the shed, but she wouldn't have been able to sleep there either. It had been Jenny's. A long time ago, granted, but she knew that if she went in there that would be all she'd see. Not that she really slept in the Jeep. It was more like passing out from being too exhausted to stay awake any longer. Max would wake her up most mornings, but they'd generally almost turned to afternoon by the time he did.

There was nothing to get up for, really. Jenny's will had been updated not long before her death, and Shane wouldn't have to worry about getting up for work ever again if she didn't want to. Jenny's car had also sold for quite a bit. She didn't care. She wasn't eating anything more than Kit forced her to, and it wasn't as if she had rent to pay on the fucking car. Max had insisted she stay at least until she found herself another place, but with Jenny's things gone she couldn't do it. She spent her days at the studio and most of her nights too, sleeping there sometimes rather than going back to the house to sleep in the driveway.

She didn't consciously think about it, but for some reason her mind always drifted back to Jenny's funeral. She tried not to dwell on it, but her mind didn't seem to be in agreement with that idea and constantly went back to it. She supposed she should think of it more as a memorial service, since that was the terminology Jenny had used in her will. She didn't see a lot of difference between that and a funeral, though, if they'd even done it right. She had no idea and had refused to be part of anything but the most basic planning. Kit had had to step in and make the arrangements since Shane was so useless in that regard. Kit hadn't seemed to mind, even when Shane had told her rather angrily to stop asking so many questions and just follow Jenny's instructions for things.

Shane had told everyone that she wasn't going. Hadn't thought she could, after everything. But that nagging feeling of obligation had won out in the end, and she'd stood in the shadows in a dingy old pair of black jeans and a black shirt and listened to some old rabbi give what she assumed was a Jewish funeral service. She still found it odd that Jenny had wanted something like that, but she supposed she could understand. She definitely didn't practice anymore, but she couldn't see herself having anything other than a Catholic service when she died. Not that she really gave a damn what happened then, but when she thought about it, it was always a funeral mass. So the Jewish thing didn't seem as strange to her as it must for most people, not that there were many at the funeral to begin with.

She'd followed them to the cemetery, but hadn't been able to look at the gravesite and what seemed like far too few of her friends' faces around it. Instead, she'd gotten back in the Jeep and driven for what had to have been hours until she got to the studio, and she'd been coming here ever since.

She didn't even know how many days had passed. She could easily have looked it up, but she didn't care enough to exert that kind of energy. Kit came with food every day and always expressed concern over her gaunt appearance, but Shane was unable to make herself care enough to eat more than the few bites it took for Kit to lay off a little. Alice had come around for a while, but she seemed to have given up after a couple of weeks, because Shane hadn't seen her in what felt like a long time. It could have been anywhere between a few days and a few months, and it was all the same to her. She didn't blame Alice for giving up; even when she'd barged her way into the studio and demanded that Shane talk to her, she got no response other than a halfhearted glare.

She'd missed hundreds of calls. She knew that; it was right on the display. She'd set it to silent and never made a move to answer even when she saw it light up, though. There didn't seem to be much point. It would just be someone asking if she was all right, and how was she supposed to answer that anymore? She was the same as she'd been since the second Jenny had been pronounced dead; numb. That was all she was and she hated trying to explain that, because nobody ever understood.

Alice kept trying, though. It surprised her a little since she seemed to have given up the in-person visits so soon. The rest of them had called a lot the first week or so, but those calls had tapered off recently. It was almost always Alice's number now, though. Shane figured her voicemail must be full by now, but Alice kept calling anyway, and when she allowed herself to feel anything she thought it was nice that at least she was making the attempt.

She hadn't really talked things over with her. She knew they needed to eventually; there was a lot to say. But she couldn't bring herself to do it yet. She didn't blame anyone for what had happened since it had obviously been an accident, but they'd all played a part in the events leading up to it and she couldn't shake the guilt. Probably never would, but that didn't change the fact that the others felt guilty too. And as much as she wanted to, she couldn't support any of them right now and couldn't accept any support from them either. She didn't know if she ever could.

She'd have left LA immediately if there hadn't been something holding her back. She wasn't sure exactly what it was, and she wasn't sure she wanted to know, either. At first she'd been convinced that by leaving she'd lose any connection she still had to Jenny and her memory, but as the days went by she knew it wasn't really that. Still, she felt like something was keeping her here, and decided not to fight it for the time being.

She considered selling the studio and had come close several times, but was never able to go through with it. Jenny had given it to her, and no matter the reasons behind that or how guilty she felt for taking and keeping it, the fact remained that it had been a gift. She simply couldn't go through with selling it, even when she'd received several nice offers. Jenny had wanted her to use it, though, so she did. Not that she took many pictures these days aside from some landscape shots every now and then, but it was better than nothing at all.

Most days, she got to the studio early and left late, unless of course she'd spent the night. She usually just went to the gym to shower, and for the most part that was the only real time she left. She knew she could go to the house if she really needed to, but there were too many memories of Jenny in that bathroom and that hallway to make it possible anymore. Besides, she had a gym membership and figured she might as well use it for something.

That was where she saw Cherie, one morning not long after the doors had opened. No one was usually there this early except for the gay muscle guys, so the locker room was virtually deserted. Shane preferred it that way. She had no energy to make small talk with the girls who tried to strike up conversations with her, and it made things much easier when she could just shower and change and get out of there as quickly as possible.

She'd accomplished that and was walking out with her duffel bag of dirty clothes and soap when she saw a familiar profile off to the side of the room, partially hidden behind an opened locker door. There was really no mistaking who it was. Thinner than before, but still obviously Cherie.

Shane was at a bit of a loss as to what to do. The last time she'd seen her had been bad for both of them, and she really didn't have any desire to strike up a conversation about things. Still, she felt a bit rude just walking out. Hedging, she switched her bag to the opposite hand and stood there considering her next move.

She didn't have to do anything in the end. Cherie shut the locker door and headed for the gym floor in her workout attire, seeming not to see Shane at all. While she could have followed, Shane really didn't feel comfortable doing that. With a sigh, she decided to let the past go and walked back to the Jeep.

She didn't notice Cherie watching her sadly as she went.
No Real Answers by MutedTempest
Shane woke up to the sounds of someone walking around near her. Opening one eye as little as possible, she saw Kit setting up today’s version of whatever meal she’d brought along on what had once been Shane’s work table. Shane sighed silently, wondering yet again why she’d acquiesced and given Kit a key to the studio when she’d asked. At the time, it had seemed so much easier to just give her one and let her come in on her own. It meant Shane didn’t have to put the effort into waking up. Or moving, if she already happened to be awake when Kit came by. Which had started to become really rare.

Shane had found an old but decent futon on the side of the road on garbage day a couple of weeks before, and had dragged it into the back corner of the studio. She’d set up a small table next to it and an old TV set that someone else had been throwing out just across from it, and had finally gone out and spent a little money on a small dorm-sized refrigerator. It usually held nothing more than baking soda and the remnants of the meal Kit had brought her the day before. The furnishings were sparse, but it was better than nothing, and Shane didn’t feel quite as bad holing up in the studio for days anymore. At least she had a bed.

Not that she didn’t have one back at the house, but the thought of going into that bedroom where she’d spent so much time with Jenny was too much for her to handle. Even if it was just to tear the bed down and get the rest of her stuff out of there. She’d told Max that he could either get rid of it all and turn the room into a nursery, or rent is out as furnished until the baby was old enough to really need a separate room. Either way, she didn’t feel that she could set foot back into the house for more than a very quick trip to pick up some necessity or other. But she’d never had many of those to begin with, and her trips to the house had gotten further and further apart as the days went by.

Max was worried, she knew that. He told her that Helena and Alice asked about her when they came by to see the baby. Shane avoided them, and the situation, completely. It just seemed so much easier to sleep and keep to herself than it did to try and talk. She didn’t want to talk, that was the whole problem. She wanted people to leave her alone, and no one could seem to get that.

Kit was worried too. Shane could easily see that, although she avoided any meaningful contact or conversation as best she possibly could. She’d generally thank her for the food, and would merely shrug when Kit asked how she was. She had no answer, and hated the question to begin with. To Kit’s credit, she seemed painfully aware of how stupid it was to ask, but it was obvious that she needed to say something. Shane certainly never volunteered any conversation.

She never gave a real answer, either, and Kit had come to expect this. It was a relief to Shane that she didn’t really seem to try anymore, apparently having realized how futile the effort was. That didn’t make her stop bringing food by every day, and Shane was grateful for that even if she couldn’t figure out how to say it. She usually faked sleep the whole time Kit was present to avoid the awkwardness in the air, but she had a feeling Kit knew. She fully intended to speak to her soon, but right now it was just too hard.

Everything was. She’d been in the studio on her crappy futon for almost two weeks. She hadn’t been to the house in over a week now, and had spoken to no one. Not even the cashier at Costco when she’d finally gone to buy some more soap and shampoo. She still showered at the gym, but since the random Cherie sighting the locker room had been deserted in the mornings. When Shane let herself think about it, she had to admit that she was pretty disappointed in herself for being too scared to approach her. While she wasn’t hoping for anything, she felt horrible for not at least apologizing for the car.

She couldn’t think about it now, though. Kit was almost done setting up, and the aroma of freshly baked corn bread made Shane’s eyes water. She knew Kit must have had it baked especially for her, and the gesture made her feel awful for the way she’d been avoiding her. “Hi,” she said meekly, sitting up on the futon and rubbing her eyes. It had been another late night and she wasn’t exaggerating her sleepiness.

Kit looked up, obviously shocked, and Shane couldn’t blame her. It had been ages since she’d initiated contact with anyone, and she figured Kit had all but given up. She would have, had the shoe been on the other foot. But it wasn’t, and the smell of cornbread and mashed potatoes and gravy proved it.

“I was thinking what I could bring over today and then I remembered a certain someone telling me she loves cornbread and mashed potatoes, a long time ago. Brought you some turkey and dressing with it, and some sweet tea. Not Thanksgiving yet but it won’t hurt ya,” Kit rambled as she continued setting things up. When she stopped talking, Shane looked at her blearily and nodded her thanks.

“Okay, I won’t stay,” Kit said uncertainly. Shane could tell she didn’t want to push it, and while she wanted to reassure her, she didn’t have the energy. She could only give her a small, tired smile. Kit gave her a sad one in return.

“Make sure you eat what you can, now. And we’d love to see you at the Planet or Hit! sometime when you’re ready. Everyone misses you,” Kit continued, seeming unsure how to finish. She appeared to be making her way to the futon, probably to give Shane a hug, but she stopped before she got too close. “I’ll get going. You call me if you need anything at all,” she said, taking the warming bag and heading for the door. They were the same words she’d been leaving with for weeks, and for as much as Shane wanted to reply in the affirmative, she just wasn’t able to do it. It had been enough of an effort to do as much as she already had.

The food was starting to get cold when Shane finally managed to get off the futon, but that didn’t make it any less good. It was the first time she could remember since Jenny had been gone that she could actually recall tasting anything, and it didn’t even comfort her. It might have, if cornbread hadn’t been one of the things Jenny had attempted to make for her several times with no success at all.

The memories hit harder than ever, and Shane had to push the food away and put her head down on the table while they came rushing back. Sleep was really the only thing that kept them at bay, and even that hadn’t been doing the trick lately. She knew she was probably falling deeper into depression, but she couldn’t make herself give a damn.

She just kept wondering, over and over again, if Jenny’s fall had been the accident they’d determined it to be. They’d asked her if Jenny had ever displayed any type of self destructive behavior, and Shane had been at a total loss as to how to answer. In the end, she’d just shaken her head. She had no idea if the others had been asked that question, but if they had, the police had obviously decided to call it an accident anyway. Shane couldn’t know, and that uncertainty was what made it so hard to go on breathing.

There just seemed to be nothing left anymore. She’d stopped caring about everything. Without Jenny there, it just didn’t seem worth it, and the suspicion that she could be a good part of the reason she wasn’t was too much to bear. Because it made sense. When she allowed herself to think about it, it made more sense than it should have, and she couldn’t shake it until the numbness came back again. Which it always did, thankfully.

The pain was never too far below the surface, though. Everyone had told her she needed to grieve, to get it out. Shane had laughed in their faces and walked away. No one understood, and she knew they never could, no matter how supportive they were trying to be. Maybe they didn’t need to understand. Maybe it was enough that Shane did, even when she hated herself for it. Which was anytime she allowed herself to feel something.

The memories played out like a movie in her head, as they always did. Jenny’s voice, her laughter, her tears, everything instantaneous and eternal at once. Shane sat through it as she always did, eyes down and heart hammering away in her chest as if it was going to stop at any second. Eventually, the images let up a little, and she tried to decide whether to just get back on the futon and go to sleep again or to take a shower.

The idea of a shower won out when she realized she’d skipped it yesterday, and she dragged herself to the gym tiredly. She was a lot later than she usually was, and there were plenty of post-workout girls who tried to talk her up. She blatantly ignored them, not even faking politeness, and left as soon as she possibly could.

On the way back to the studio, she decided to at least imitate a decent human being and thank Kit for the food. It had been a very sweet gesture, and even from deep inside her numbness Shane appreciated it. She parked rather haphazardly in front of the café and walked in quickly, hoping not to prolong things and praying that none of the others were there, and if they were, they’d ignore her.

She was lucky. The café was basically deserted, and she saw no trace of Helena, Alice, Tasha or anyone else she needed to worry about. Kit was standing behind the counter looking incredibly bored, but she brightened when she caught sight of Shane.

“Thanks for the food,” she managed to say before a wave of panic hit her and she turned for the door again.

“Stay a while! I got coffee I just brewed, we can sit in the back and talk!” Kit insisted, looking worried when Shane looked around desperately for an escape route.

“I don’t think I’m ready yet,” she said in a half-whisper, trying not to offend the one person who was doing her best to take care of her.

Kit looked like she wanted to protest, but seemed to understand Shane’s hesitation. “You just take your time. I’m glad you stopped by,” she said a bit sadly, but she gave Shane a smile. “I meant what I said about calling when you need anything.”

“Yeah,” was all Shane managed as she turned back to the door. Before she did, though, she noticed Kit shaking her head sadly toward someone in the far corner. Shane had to squint, but she saw the figure clearly, looking as sad as Kit did if not more so.

Cherie.

Unable to deal with the situation, she made no sign she’d seen anything and left as fast as she possibly could.
Remnant of Emotion by MutedTempest
”She’s asked about you a few times,” Kit said with a shrug, although she was trying not to let herself seem too giddy for fear it would make Shane draw into herself again. It had been so long since Shane had asked her anything at all or even seemed to be the slightest bit interested in anything that she was overjoyed, even if the question had been simple.

Shane didn’t seem very interested in her answer, though, and Kit had to glance over at her a few times to see if she was still awake. She was, but staring at the ceiling as usual, doing her very best to avoid any interaction whatsoever. Kit tried not to sigh, and to be happy with what little she’d managed to get out of Shane today. It was far more than any of them had gotten since Jenny had died, and she tried to make herself believe that the short question about Cherie a few moments ago and Shane’s unexpected presence at the Planet yesterday, brief though it had been, were steps in the right direction.

Not that she thought things would fix themselves right away. That would obviously take time, probably a lot of it, and Kit was suddenly incredibly sad again. Watching Shane’s agony these past couple months had been hellish, mainly because there was nothing any of them could really do for her in the long run. Their promises of support had been met with blank stares and their attempts at any sort of intervention had been met with anger and derision, the only emotional displays they’d seen from her since the paramedics had pulled Jenny from the pool.

Not that they hadn’t tried; on the contrary, they’d done all they possibly knew to do. When the talking and the unflinching support had failed to get any reaction, they’d tried giving her space. When that had failed, they’d attempted to get her to check herself into the hospital for a little while. Shane had balked, exactly like they’d all figured she would, and despite their pleading she’d retreated further into her self-imposed solitude. Helena and Alice had tried to get her committed against her will for a short while, but were told that no matter how depressed Shane was, they couldn’t legally force her into treatment until she was a clear danger to herself or to others.

And she wasn’t. She was silent and distant and cold, and there was no life in her eyes at all anymore, but she wasn’t suicidal. She wasn’t even self-medicating like she usually did when things went wrong. That had become such a pattern that Kit was a little surprised when it hadn’t happened this time. She was grateful it hadn’t, of course, but at least when it had, the pain had some sort of outlet. Even if it was an unhealthy one. While she was glad Shane wasn’t doing anything that stupid now, she had to wonder if this wasn’t worse.

She figured it probably was, but she had no clue what she should do to break the cycle. Shane just seemed to withdraw further the more she pressed, so eventually she’d stopped. She’d promised Alice that she’d drop by at least once a day to make sure Shane was alive and had food, but there didn’t seem to be much more she could do. Shane never told her to leave, though. She’d even given her a key to the place when she’d asked.

She hadn’t really told Alice or Helena to leave either, at least not in words, but they were so uncomfortable with the silence and the way Shane looked right through them that neither had the heart to try to visit anymore. They always sent their love, but most of the time Kit didn’t mention it to Shane. She wasn’t sure how far she could press, and she didn’t want to risk driving Shane so far into herself that she wouldn’t come back out again. That was what she feared the most about the whole thing. Every time she talked to Shane and got no response it gave her a chill, because she knew she wasn’t being ignored. That felt hostile, and there was no hostility coming from Shane. Just numbness and detachment, and that was much, much worse.

Kit shook her head slightly, realizing that she’d been done setting up the food for a few minutes now. “Hey,” she said, trying to get Shane’s attention. It took a few seconds for her to turn over on the futon and get her eyes to focus, but eventually she looked at Kit and smiled wanly.

“Thanks,” she said in a quiet mumble, and it was all Kit could do not to walk over and hug her. She knew Shane was always grateful for the food, but being thanked for it directly was a rarity. Hell, even being spoken to most days was a rarity, and she was happier than she probably should have been at the amount of effort Shane had made the past few days.

“You want anything else?” Kit asked, a bit nervously. She always tried to bring everything she thought Shane might need along with her, but she never knew if there was anything else she might be forgetting. During what had turned into several recent late morning conversations Cherie had told her that she’d seen Shane showering at the gym a few times now, which explained the bottle of shampoo on the work table. She knew Shane was fully capable of going to the store and buying things for herself, even in as deep a state of grief as she was, but she’d have been more than happy to pick her up something. “I can stop by the store and get you anything you need on the way over tomorrow.”

Shane looked like she might want to say something, and Kit gave her some time. In the end, Shane just shook her head and sighed. Felling horribly incompetent, Kit told her not to hesitate if she ever did want something. This didn’t get a response at all, and Kit was saddened again. “Okay, I’ll get going then,” she said, halfheartedly hoping that Shane might say something, anything, to stop her. That didn’t happen, and Shane just looked at the ceiling.

“All I told her is that we lost a friend awhile ago. Ain’t my place to say more,” Kit said at the door, not turning to look at Shane. There was no sound, but she had the feeling she was listening. “She just wanted to know if you’re okay.” There was a faint sigh behind her, and what sounded like it could have been muffled crying, but Kit didn’t turn around to check. “I know you ain’t ready yet, but when you are, you’re not alone.” She couldn’t think of anything else to say, and it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. It made her feel like an over-emotional fool, but she’d gotten her point across and it seemed like Shane had heard her.

**********

Shane ate more of that dinner than she had in what felt like weeks. Her taste buds had been dead for so long that it hadn’t mattered much, but she was hungry for once and decided that she may as well eat while she was in the mood to.

She still felt numb, but there was something at the edge of the numbness now, some remnant of emotion, and she wondered if she wasn’t starting to come out of it a little. The idea terrified her and made her feel guilty. Jenny hadn’t been gone long, and for to feel what might have been even the beginnings of moving on from it seemed like a sort of betrayal.

The idea made her so sad she decided to put the rest of the food away in Tupperware and go back to bed. She briefly considered going to the gym to shower, or to stop by the house to see the baby, but she didn’t have the energy or desire to do anything. She felt too guilty for the hell she was putting her friends through, Kit especially. A quick glance at her phone confirmed that Alice was still trying to reach her several times a day, and that knowledge hurt since there didn’t seem o be anything she could do to rectify it. She sure as hell couldn’t pick up the phone and talk. There just wasn’t enough left in her for that.

When the food was put away in the little dorm fridge, she flopped back on the futon and pulled a thin blanket over herself. She’d had a really bad night, and Kit had gotten there right after she’d managed to fall into a real sleep. She’d had nightmares for hours before that, just like every other night since Jenny had been gone. Never anything substantial, mostly just images of Jenny crying. It bothered her a lot, mostly because she knew she’d never be sure if Jenny’s fall had been an accident.

She knew she wasn’t supposed to think about it. And most of the time, she succeeded in blocking it out. Blocking everything out. It was easier that way, but she was starting to wonder if it was better. She had a strange desire to call Alice and ask if she’d had nightmares after Dana’s death, just to be able to connect to something. But she couldn’t do that to Alice, and the fact that she wanted to, even for a second, made her sick.

Knowing that she was so messed up that even Cherie fucking Jaffe was asking about her felt surreal. She knew that most people would be grateful that people cared, but she wasn’t. She just wished they’d leave her alone. She knew being angry about it did no good and was probably counterproductive and weird, but she couldn’t help it. She wasn’t hurting anyone or anything, not even herself, and they all seemed more concerned than they had when she was sucking down more lines than air. It didn’t make sense.

She took some deep breaths and tried to calm herself down again. She’d had to do that a lot right after Jenny had died. When Kit had asked her input about the memorial service, Shane had been mean. Anger had been the only real thing she’d felt before it had all gone numb, and it was starting to feel that way again. She hated it. She hated not being able to get a grip on how she felt.

She probably just needed to sleep more. That’d make the anger and some of the guilt go away, at least for a little while. It had to, because she had no other answers and was too fucking exhausted to try to think of any. The trip to the Planet yesterday and the tiny bit of interaction with Kit had worn her out completely. She leaned back against the pillows and fell into a restless sleep, one thankfully devoid of dreams.

**********

The next day was a little better. Not great, but Shane felt a little more calm. A little less surreal. She decided that she needed to leave the studio today, for anywhere. It was getting too small in there, and she figured getting out would do her some good.

She didn’t have the heart to go to the house, although she knew she was going to need to in the next few days. There were still some things she needed to pick up, and she felt bad for not having seen the baby in awhile. But it was too much at the moment, and she decided that the Planet was somewhat safer. She stopped for a quick shower at the empty gym and got there not long after the doors had opened.

No one she knew, at first glance anyway, and she was relieved. She got a coffee from an employee she hadn’t seen before and was headed toward the back when she saw Kit walking toward her. She steeled herself, but Kit just smiled at her and walked behind the counter. A little surprised, Shane went over to say hello.

“I expected her to be here,” she said before she was aware that she’d even had the thought, but she knew the words were true when she heard them. Kit looked as surprised as Shane felt, but she had the grace not to make a big deal out of it. Instead, she put her hand on Shane’s free one and nodded.

“Yeah, I always do too,” she said quietly. “I’m glad you’re here.” It was all she said, but Shane could see how much it meant to her and felt a little better as she took her coffee and headed for the back tables again.

Cherie was sitting at one of them. Shane felt no surprise at all at her presence, and wondered if maybe she should. Kit had spoken of her with familiarity, though, so seeing her there didn’t seem like a big deal. Without really thinking about it, Shane walked over to her and stood next to the table.

She saw the concern in Cherie’s eyes the second she looked up from her paper, and realized she was looking at someone completely sober a second later. Cherie looked happy and calm and collected, and there didn’t seem to be any trace of the drugged-out divorcee anywhere in her manner. Instead, she looked almost at peace, and the concern in her eyes was genuine. Shane decided to let herself talk a little.
This story archived at http://fanfic.darkness-descends.net/viewstory.php?sid=103