“Thanks, Al,” Shane said the following morning as she sat down on one of the couches in the living room to put her shoes on, “but you really don’t have to give me a ride.”
“No, actually, I do,” Alice replied, playing absentmindedly with her car keys.
They were about to go to the hospital where Helena had managed to get her an appointment in spite of the short notice. All that had happened while Shane was asleep and once she’d woken up and Jenny told her what their friends had arranged for her, she had agreed to go after all. She did feel a little better, but it couldn’t hurt to get it done now instead of waiting until she was taking Shay there for a check-up later that week.
“Jenny told me to,” she stated matter-of-factly and gave her friend an innocent smile.
“Jenny told you to?” Shane echoed and frowned back at her, snorted and then rolled her eyes. “Of all the things she’s ever said to you,” she began and sighed since the two of them weren’t exactly known for getting along well, even if it was getting better lately. “Did you have to choose to listen to this one?” Fine, Jenny could be a bit overprotective, but did she have to inspire her friends to treat her the same way? Especially Alice who would love to do it for no other reason than to piss her off. “I have my own car, and I’ve got a license too, you know.”
“I know you do,” Alice said, and mumbled, “though that never ceases to amaze me.” She grinned impishly when she saw that Shane hadn’t heard her, and went on. “But she doesn’t want you to drive until we know for sure you didn’t break anything in that pretty little head of yours when you fell.”
Before Alice even knew what happened, she stumbled backwards when Shane threw a pillow right at her face. “Fuck you,” Shane muttered, finally done with her shoes, and she stood up with her keys in one hand and her phone in the other. “With your driving skills I’ll probably end up in the ER again instead.”
“You were a lot more fun when you still smoked,” she retorted and pretended to rub the side of her face in pain.
Shane rolled her eyes at her and pushed her phone down in the pocket on her jeans. “Well, I don’t have a choice when it comes to that, now do I?” Quitting seemed to be easier than she’d imagined it would be, probably because she’d felt so sick and had been too exhausted to even think about it, but there were moments when she really wished she could just sit back and light one. Someone had told her at some point that the first three days were the worst and once you got through them, it wouldn’t be as bad anymore. It had only been a day and a half though, so maybe in a couple of days it would get better.
“It’s a good thing that you’re quitting though.” Alice walked out through the front door with a cranky Shane in tow and waited on the porch while she locked the door. “I doubt you’d ever have done it if they hadn’t forced you. Hey, where’s Jenny and Shay?” Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t until now that she realized they weren’t home.
“Jenny took him with her to go shopping before she goes to work,” Shane explained and her voice softened. “He didn’t have a whole lot with him so she decided she was gonna get him some new clothes and some stuff to keep him busy.”
Alice opened the door to the driver’s side and got in, waiting for Shane to follow. “He’s going shopping with her?” she chuckled. “Hah. That kid is gonna end up so spoiled.”
“Don’t I know it,” she sighed with a small smile on her lips, well aware of how Jenny loved to spend money now that she had lots of it. Shane had asked her to let her pay for it but Jenny had insisted on doing it so she let her.
She didn’t mind her going on her occasional shopping sprees though – after worrying about rent for years before she finally started getting paid for all her hard work, she’d earned it – or her getting Shay the stuff she knew Jenny would get him because he deserved every little thing. And it would probably be good for both of them to hang out without her around so they could have a chance to get to know each other better.
Once Alice had started the car and they took off down the street, she dug her phone out of her pocket, clicked a couple of times and then handed it over to Shane. “You should take a look at this,” she said cryptically. “And then tell me what you think.”
“Okay?” Shane replied, raising an eyebrow in confusion. She pressed play on the video clip, then sighed when she saw what it was and let the hand holding the phone down in her lap. “Okay, that’s…” she started, nodding slowly with her lips pursed and turned to her friend. “Me and Jenny. Why—why did you film this?”
“Because you’re sleeping with your arms around each other, that’s why!” she exclaimed and snatched the phone out of Shane’s hand, a little disappointed that that was the only reaction she got from her. “Are you gonna try to explain that?”
“Explain what?” Shane rubbed the bridge of her nose, wishing she’d taken her own car after all. She’d joked about Alice making a podcast about it the other day, but she’d never imagined she would do something like this. “You… you fucking filmed us in our sleep. I mean… What—what is that? Alice, she’s my best friend and we’ve been living together for three years. You seriously think that was the first time that’s ever happened? I shouldn’t have to explain a damn thing. Even if there is something between me and Jenny, it’s none of your fucking business and you need to accept that. And delete that damn thing.”
“Bite my head off!” Alice muttered but then turned to Shane again, giving her a knowing look. “You just admitted it anyway.” She then turned her eyes back on the road, smiling contentedly to herself.
“I didn’t admit anything.” Shane grabbed the hair in the back of her neck with her left hand in frustration, staring out through the windshield at nothing in particular. ‘It’s like talking to a fucking brick wall,’ she thought and decided to try another approach. “Look, you have your own life, try focusing on that for a change. I’m pretty sure Tasha would appreciate it.”
“She keeps saying that,” she replied with a hopeless sigh and Shane’s tense muscles relaxed a little when her diversion tactic seemed to be successful, at least for now. “She thinks I spend too much of my time gossiping about things that have nothing to do with me, yada, yada, yada.”
“That doesn’t really surprise me. To be honest.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Alice turned her head to stare at her friend, causing the Mini to rock from one side to the other for a moment, but she didn’t seem to take any notice of it.
Shane grabbed the hand bar on the door on her side and held on for dear life when the car nearly slammed into a BMW that passed them in the lane to their right. “Keep your eyes on the road, please!” she sighed. “Jesus Christ! Either that or let me drive.”
Alice just rolled her eyes, but this time she didn’t turn her head. “Nothing happened, all right? Just calm down. You were saying?”
“I was saying…” Shane started, letting out a deep sigh as she tried to calm down enough to remember what they’d been talking about. “I meant that when Tasha left the army, she gave up her old life and her whole career. And she did that so she could be with you, right? Or am I not getting this?”
“Yeah, she did.”
“Right, so if she has to make this huge sacrifice for you, don’t you think you could make some smaller changes if she asks you to? You can’t get into a relationship with someone and then expect the other person to do a one-eighty while your life remains the same as it’s always been. It just doesn’t work that way.” Shane had learned that lesson the hard way. In all committed relationships she’d been in, even if most of them had been pretty short, she’d always felt like she had to be someone other than who she really was. She’d never blamed anyone else for that, no one could have made her feel that way unless she let them, and she had. But in the end it had never worked out and she doubted it would for Tasha and Alice.
“Thanks for that, Yoda,” Alice muttered. “Since when are you the expert on relationships anyway?
Shane just shrugged, but her thoughts immediately wandered off to Jenny. She’d never once tried to turn her into someone else, instead what she did was encourage her to be herself and for once she actually dared to believe that that was someone worth being loved. There was no point in being bitter because of the mistakes she’d made in the past, she was just happy that they finally had each other and even if she’d been afraid at first that she’d fuck things up between them like she always seemed to when she tried to be with someone, there was no doubt in her mind that they’d make things work.
As if she’d read her mind, Alice brought her out of her reverie and answered the question for her. “Since you got into one with Jenny. I knew it.”
“It doesn’t ever fucking stop, does it?” Shane mumbled.
“Not really, no,” Alice said, grinning when she remembered another thing she had yet to bring up. “Because then there’s the whole thing about Jenny’s clothes in your closet, or maybe I should say the ‘big mess’ formerly known as your closet. There is no way it got like that in two days.”
“What the…” Shane started and Alice paused to smirk at her, which made Shane point out through the windshield again in frustration. “Watch where you’re going. I’m serious.”
“And then there’s Jenny’s sex toys,” Alice continued in an innocent voice as if she hadn’t heard her. “You having fun playing around with those?”
Tilting her head just slightly to the side, Shane squinted at her with clenched jaws; things were starting to get way out of hand. She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly through her nose, worried that if she didn’t manage to calm herself down she might say something she’d regret later. “So let me get this straight,” she said in a strained tone. “When you were gonna get that game for Shay, you used that as an excuse to fucking go through my stuff? What the fuck is this?”
“Just tell me the truth already!” she demanded, letting go of the steering wheel for just a second, gesturing as she spoke, but it was enough to make Shane roll her eyes and cross her arms over her chest. “It’s not like I don’t already know.”
“I’m not telling you a thing, okay? Just drop it already, or is that too hard for you?” She tried, but she couldn’t even be that mad at her because she knew Alice was right. She was the one keeping secrets, but even if she and Jenny had made a deal to stop lying, that didn’t mean Shane was going to tell the one person who would have half of West Hollywood informed in less than five minutes. She couldn’t deny that it was getting extremely frustrating though, having to repeat the same thing over and over and having Alice either pretending she didn’t hear her, or just putting words in her mouth.
“So what, you found Jenny’s stuff in my closet?” Shane continued. “Maybe you didn’t stop to consider this, but Jenny’s responsible enough to not leave things like that lying around in the room that my little brother is staying in.” She hadn’t even realized Jenny had put them there, but she figured with everything that had been going on since Shay came to stay with them, she probably hadn’t had time to figure out where to place them. “I’m so terribly sorry that you had to find them by accident,” she added with a sarcastic sneer.
Much to her dismay, Alice didn’t seem that affected by her words at all. “Well,” she said with a small shrug, “you two can try to hide it all you want, but I’m sorry to break it to ya Shane; you’re not doing it very well.”
“Did you—you didn’t ask Shay about any of this, did you?” Shane suddenly asked, and when Alice looked her way for a moment, she did look a little pale to her.
“No, I did not ask him anything. At least not about that. Relax, you don’t look like you’re feeling that well.”
“I wonder why,” Shane muttered and Alice turned to look at her again. She definitely looked paler than usual and Alice forgot about their current topic for a while.
“Are you okay?” she asked worriedly, not even considering that the problem might be her constant questioning or her reckless driving.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Just… do we have to keep talking about this? I just don’t see it getting anywhere.”
“Okay, okay, fine. We’re almost there anyway.”
It didn’t take them that long to reach the hospital after that and once Alice had found them a parking space not too far from the door, she turned off the engine and got out only to realize that Shane hadn’t moved an inch. She sighed and walked over to the passenger’s side and opened the door, receiving a sceptical frown from her friend. “You really don’t wanna go in there, do you?” she asked and Shane shook her head, looking like a little kid afraid to go to the dentist.
“I really don’t.”
“Shane…” Alice began softly and leaned against the car. After her conversation with Jenny the day before she thought she had some idea of what the problem was. “It wasn’t easy for me either. I mean, what happened to Dana.”
“I know that, Alice, I…” Her voice trailed off and she looked down on her hands that lay folded on her lap.
“But I know that if she was here with us,” Alice continued as if Shane hadn’t said anything, “she’d pull you out of that seat and drag you in there whether you liked it or not because you need to do this.” Shane just sat there in silence, so she smiled a little and went on. “And I also think she would be really proud of you.”
“For freaking out about going to the doctor?” Shane asked, frowning in confusion at her, and Alice wondered if she was even listening.
“No, smartass,” she chuckled. “For running into a burning building to save your brother. It was probably the stupidest thing you ever could have done, but I don’t know anyone else who’s done something as brave and selfless as that. I know I couldn’t have.” She looked away, embarrassed as she remembered her own actions that night and how the only somewhat useful thing she’d managed to do was to keep Jenny from running after Shane. “I was just standing there like an idiot.”
“It’s the truth,” Alice cut her off with a shrug and shot her a sad smile before she changed the subject again. “But well, yeah. Someone who could do what you did that night should be able to walk into a hospital. Or do you need me to put it on fire first?”
Shane smiled back at her and though she tried not to, she couldn’t help but letting out a quiet chuckle. “That’s not even funny,” she scolded her.
“It worked though,” she grinned and leaned in to grab Shane’s uninjured hand, tugging it to make her get out of the car. “Come on, it’ll be fine. Helena said she’d make sure they’re good to you.”
Shane reluctantly got out of her seat after taking a look in the mirror to make sure that her hair still hid the wound and bruise that still covered a big part of the right side of her face. It looked better now than the day before, but it wasn’t something she wanted to show off to people if she could avoid it. “That’s not what I’m worried about,” she mumbled and closed the door behind her. "It just makes me uncomfortable."
“I know, but come on.” Alice gently placed her hand on her back, determined to get her inside even if it meant she’d have to push her there. “Maybe she arranged for some hot nurse to take care of you in there,” she grinned but then slapped her forehead. “No, wait, that’ll make Jenny jealous.”
“Jesus Christ, Al. Drop it.”
Author's Chapter Notes:
Alice takes Shane to the hospital, and she's in for one rough ride.
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