Shane groaned into her pillow, mumbling something Jenny thought sounded like “five more minutes” – what she usually said when she tried to wake her up. She smiled. It was never easy to get her to wake up when she was deeply asleep and this morning was no exception. Jenny could of course do it her own little way, but that involved techniques that were in no way appropriate when there was a ten-year-old in the room.
“Shane? You said that five minutes ago. Come on, wake up.” She sat down on the edge of the bed and stroked her hand over her girlfriend’s messy hair, placing the cup of coffee she’d gotten for her on the Harry Potter book she’d already removed from the bed and placed on the nightstand. “You didn’t get much sleep, did you?”
Shane registered that someone was talking to her and out of habit she assumed it was Jenny, but her eyelids felt so heavy and she was convinced someone glued her eyes shut while she slept. “What?” she mumbled, rolling over on her back. She raised one hand to her face and attempted to rub the sleep out of her eyes when she heard another voice in the room.
“Shane, we’re gonna be late if you don’t get up soon.”
Strange. That voice sounded so much like Shay’s. It was probably Max, but where were they going? She couldn’t remember that they had somewhere they needed to be. “I had such a weird dream,” she groaned and reached out her arm to wrap it around Jenny’s waist. “Shay was here. I miss him.”
“But I’m still here,” the voice replied and in an instant Shane’s eyes opened wide in spite of the imaginary glue in them.
“Shay!” she exclaimed and sat right up in the bed, almost knocking Jenny out of it as she did so. Her shocked stare was soon replaced by a surprised, but still sleepy smile. “I thought…”
“Yeah, we know,” Jenny giggled and handed her coffee to her. “Drink that and wake up so we can go to The Planet. Alice called, she wanted us to go there and have lunch. Everyone’s going and they’ll probably find it weird if Shay and I show up without you. Especially since I already took the liberty of telling her you were coming.”
Shane blinked a couple of times and took a sip of her coffee. “But I have to take a…”
“Shower?” Jenny finished her sentence for her. “We did that right before we went to bed, remember?” Telling from the mischievous grin that soon spread on Shane’s lips, she obviously did. “All you have to do is drink your coffee, get up and get dressed. Then we can go.” She turned towards the door and saw that Shay had already left the room. “Shane, if you’re anywhere near as fast at getting out of bed and putting your clothes on as you are at doing the opposite, it shouldn’t have to take that long.”
“But I like our bed,” Shane whined, “I like it even more when you’re in it.” She tugged at the hem of Jenny’s sweater. “Preferably without clothes on.”
“Shaney-Shane!” Alice yelled as Shane walked into The Planet half an hour later. Everyone else in their group of friends was already seated at the table, waiting for Jenny, and Shane who seemed to sleepwalk over to them. “If that’s how tired one gets from cleaning your house, Shane, I’m glad I didn’t agree to help out.”
“Shut up, Al,” Shane muttered in response but couldn’t hold back a chuckle when she saw the dumbfounded look on Alice’s face when she noticed Shay was with them.
“Hey, Shay!” she said surprised and it was followed by welcome greetings from Helena, Tina, Max, Tom and Bette, and a wave from Jodi who smiled at them from across the table.
“How did you get here?” Alice continued and immediately received a glare from Shane that she interpreted as a request to not ask too many questions. Her first intention was to ignore it but decided not to when she saw the concerned looks between Jenny and Shane.
Shay shrugged. “I just thought I’d come and visit for a while.”
“You guys should sit,” Tina said in an attempt to relieve the tension, glancing around the table and noticing there were only two chairs left. “I can get…” she started but Jenny interrupted her.
“It’s okay, I can sit with Shane.” She gently pushed her girlfriend down on the closest empty chair and sat down on her lap, looking back at Tina with a contented smile spreading on her lips. It wasn’t exactly the first time she’d done that, but the questioning look on Tina’s face was priceless and reminded Jenny again of how much she enjoyed keeping their relationship a secret.
“Well, as long as she doesn’t mind,” Tina smiled with a chuckle.
“I don’t mind, I’m used to it,” Shane replied and wrapped her arms around Jenny’s waist. She noticed Jodi was smiling at her and tried to sign to her in spite of Jenny kind of being in the way, but she managed to ask how Jodi was doing and explained to her that Shay had come by the house the night before. She figured she got it somewhat right when Jodi laughed and replied that she was getting good at it.
Kit stopped by the table to take their orders, and to squeal happily when she realized Shay had returned. Shane smiled a little behind Jenny’s shoulder when she saw the slightly worried look on her brother’s face. There was most likely no one at the table who doubted that she was going to try to feed him just like the last time he’d been there, and like she’d tried to do to Shane when she first got to know her.
“Hey, Shane?” Max said all of a sudden, and she looked up at him questioningly. “I’m sorry I didn’t help you guys last night, seems like you had to work pretty hard.”
“It wasn’t your mess,” she replied, even though an explanation was hardly necessary. She could tell from his teasing smile and the tone of his voice that he already knew what they’d been doing all night. “Besides, you’re hardly ever at the house anyway these days,” she added and cast a glance in Tom’s direction. “Hey… what are you looking at?” she said to Jenny when she realized she was smiling at her.
“I was just thinking about last night. ‘Cleaning’ wasn’t as boring as I thought it’d be.”
Alice let out a deep sigh from across the table and rolled her eyes. “Oh really? If you had such a blast, you can swing by and clean my place any time you want.”
Jenny bit her lip when she saw how Max fought to repress a chuckle, he was surely imagining how Alice would lose it completely if she were to come home one day to find out they’d been ‘cleaning’ all over her apartment.
“Speaking of helping out, Al,” Shane said, “you’re still coming to WAX today?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’ll come over some time in the afternoon. Just don’t boss me around too much, okay?”
Shane shook her head and smiled, looking over at her brother who just received a plate full of food from Kit. “Don’t worry. I’m going over there with Shay after lunch and Chase is probably there already so we can get started. We’re just grateful for any help we can get. And this one right here,” she paused and nudged at Jenny, “promised she’s gonna bring coffee.”
“And I will!” Jenny assured her and bounced a little in Shane’s lap. “I just have to go to a meeting first.” She rolled her eyes and looked over in Tina’s direction. “Is it going to take long, Tina?”
“Probably not that long,” she shrugged and stopped for a second as she noticed Shane leaning her head forward to bury it in the nape of Jenny’s neck. Her arms tightened a little around her waist and she smelled her hair, a sleepy smile forming on her lips. ‘Those two are definitely up to something,’ Tina thought and shook her head, trying to remember what they were talking about. “Aaron just said he wanted us to go over some scenes and decide on a few changes, and that’s what he wanted you to work on. That’s all I know.”
Jenny and Tina sat in the boardroom at the production office, across the table from Tina’s boss Aaron. Jenny didn’t really consider him her boss; if she needed one, she could fill that position herself. And here they were, listening to him yelling about wanting more sex in the movie. That was an interesting topic of choice for an emergency meeting on a Saturday.
“I want more of it!” he exclaimed. “You two are the ones who told me lesbians are always sleeping with their friends, so let’s see it! See them hook up!” He leaned back in his chair and put his feet on the table, picking up his pink copy of the script for Jenny’s movie. “For example… Page 31, scene 43. I think we’re missing an opportunity here. I think Bev and this make-up artist should totally hook up.”
“That would never happen!” Tina and Jenny replied in unison, glared at Aaron and then turned to glare some more at each other before Jenny turned away and rolled her eyes.
“Shane would never fuck Bette,” she said, disgusted, and played with a lock of her hair.
“Shaun and Bev, Jenny,” Tina sighed. “Shaun and Bev.”
Jenny turned to the blonde and smiled sweetly. “That’s what I said.”
“Will you just think about it?” Aaron prodded. “Just because it didn’t happen in real life it doesn’t mean it can’t happen in the movie. This is Hollywood, we can do whatever the fuck we want.”
“You seem to forget that Bev and Nina are together,” Tina said and tried hard to not get up, reach her arms across the table and wring his neck, even if Jenny could be equally annoying and happened to sit next to her.
Aaron shrugged. “She cheats with the plumber!”
“I like the idea of Bev as the serial cheater,” Jenny nodded in agreement.
Tina, however, did not agree. “No, it doesn’t make sense! It undermines the significance of her affair with the plumber.”
“Now, this might be crazy,” Aaron said, “but what about Nina and Shaun?”
“No!” Jenny exclaimed, her eyes open wide, as she stood up from her chair and bent forward to glare at him. “No! Nobody ever wants to see Tina having sex! Ever! No one will ever go to the film!”
“It’s not about what people wanna see…” Tina started, not even bothering to try to correct her this time, but Jenny interrupted her by picking up her script, rolling into a tube and hitting the table with it to get attention.
“You’re…” she said and pointed from Tina to Aaron. “You’re trying to ruin my movie! I’m the writer here, you two are… not. Okay?” When the others just stared dumbfounded back at her, she decided to continue. “What about Bev and Helen?”
“Now, that I like, that’s hot,” Aaron nodded.
“Jenny, that would never happen,” Tina said, letting out a big sigh. “They’re too much alike.”
“Okay, but they’re not having a relationship, Tina. They’re just fucking.”
“I don’t buy it.”
Jenny sat back down on her chair and crossed her arms over her chest. “Well, no one cares what you buy, okay?”
Half an hour after Shane and her brother had arrived at WAX, Shane walked out of the store with her phone in her hand, trying to decide on the right thing to do. She knew she had to call her father. He probably wouldn’t even answer the phone if what Shay said was true and he’d left the house earlier that week, but she still had to do it. She had no right not to, it didn’t matter how angry it made her that he could treat his own son that way and still have the nerve to call himself his father.
Another thing that worried her was that she had no way of knowing for sure what had really happened. She didn’t think Shay would ever purposely lie to her, but she still felt she needed to know what was going on. What if Gabriel hadn’t actually left? If he hadn’t, he was probably looking for him now, and he most likely already knew where he’d run off to. Still, if that was the case, she was surprised he hadn’t called her already.
She hoped that Shay had been honest with her, and that he hadn’t felt like he had to lie to get her to take him in and not just send him home, but at the same time, she hoped for the contrary. Just running away from home would be better than to have to go through what he just told her he had. No matter what was going on, she knew that something truly awful had happened to her brother; that much was obvious from just looking into his eyes.
Trying to clear her head a little, she looked over at him where he was skateboarding in the half pipe, and absentmindedly lit a cigarette. Exhaling a puff of smoke, she let her thoughts drift back to the conversation she’d had with Jenny the night before. Of course Shane wanted Shay to stay with them. There was nothing else in the whole world that she wanted more. But even if it was a beautiful dream, she was convinced it could never happen. They would never give Shay to someone with a past like hers, they’d never let her take care of him. Gabriel would always come first, no matter how many times he left him. And if they decided he wasn’t good enough as a father, they’d put Shay in foster care, and he’d have to go through the same thing as she had, or even worse. She couldn’t stand the thought of it.
“If you’re not busy, can’t you come and hang out for a while?”
Startled, she looked at Shay who seemed to have come from nowhere and was now standing right in front of her, holding his skateboard and looking at her expectantly. “Uh, yeah, sure,” she nodded and looked down on her cigarette that had almost burned all the way to the filter. “Just let me grab my board and I’ll be right there, okay?”
Shay’s interruption was a welcome break from all her thoughts, and she put out her cigarette and went back inside for a moment to get her skateboard. She knew she’d left it behind the counter the day before, but when she went to get it, it wasn’t there. “Weird,” she mumbled, glancing around inside the store, but she couldn’t see it anywhere. She would have asked Chase if he’d seen it if he hadn’t just left to pick up his boyfriend, but instead she decided to just borrow one of the others. She grabbed a helmet too, not exactly because she thought her head was worth protecting, but more because she didn’t feel like she could keep forcing her brother to use one if she didn’t as well.
With the helmet in one hand and the skateboard in the other, she walked back to her brother and watched him for a moment, wondering if this was the right time for her to try to talk to him about what had happened. But when she saw how happy he seemed now, she didn’t have the heart to bring it up.
Jenny parked her car outside of WAX and got out, still frustrated after her meeting with Tina and Aaron. It was her movie, she wrote the story, not them, and she knew what was best for it. She was going to have to spend the afternoon writing a scene that she didn’t even want in the film, but she supposed it could have been worse. Having Bev and Helen fuck each other was better than being forced to write about Nina and Shaun. Shaun was, after all, meant to be with someone else, and Nina was just… urgh.
She’d been walking towards the store lost in her own thoughts and hadn’t even noticed Shane and Shay were out in the half pipe, and she didn’t until she heard an imminent sound that made her look up at them.
“Ow!” Shane chuckled where she lay sprawled out on the ground, and Jenny hurried over to Shay who was standing next to her, looking down on her.
“Are you okay?” Jenny exclaimed and tried to figure out what had happened.
Shane nodded and sat up straight, trying to brush some dust off her clothes. “Yeah, I’m all right.”
“See?” Shay said patronizingly, with is arms crossed over his chest. “That’s why you’re supposed to wear a helmet.”
“I know that, Shay, that’s why I’m wearing one!” Shane sighed and Jenny reached out her hand to help her get back up on her feet. “This skateboarding thing is risky business.”
Her brother shook his head slowly and continued. “And that’s why old people shouldn’t do it.”
Shane’s jaw dropped. “Who are you calling old? I’m 29 and I’ve been doing this since before you were even born!”
Shay looked at her, seeming to try hard not to laugh. “Are you sure?”
“Oh God.” Jenny covered her face with her hands and looked at them through the gaps between her fingers. She’d just been standing there, watching and listening as they threw these little insults at each other, and she just didn’t know what to say.
“What?” they said in unison and turned to look at her instead.
“It’s just…” she shrugged, “sometimes it’s just so obvious that the two of you are related.”
Shane and Shay smiled at each other and she took off her helmet, raking her hand through her hair that seemed even messier than usual. “Hey, go back to doing that thing you’re so good at, I gotta go talk to Jenny for a bit.”
“Okay, just don’t fall and hurt yourself,” he quipped and got back up on his board.
“Smartass,” Shane mumbled, but she still couldn’t wipe the smile off her face. They walked over to the wall, and when they reached it she put her board and helmet down on the ground and leaned against the wall, stretching out her arms.
“Did you—did you fall on purpose?” Jenny asked, smiling softly as she slipped her arms around Shane’s waist. “Did you fake it just to teach him to wear a helmet?”
“What?” Shane shot her an amused smile. “Fake it? I would never do that. When I fall, I fall for real.” She bit her lip, looking a little embarrassed at her girlfriend. “I guess, I just saw that you were here and I forgot what I was doing.”
“Oh!” Jenny exclaimed and bit her lip for a moment until she couldn’t hold her smile back any longer. “I’m sorry that you fell for me!”
Shane grinned back at her. “I’m not.”
“Does it hurt?”
“Hmm…” Shane licked her lips thoughtfully, her gaze locking with Jenny’s. “You can always kiss me and make it better.”
Jenny didn’t hold back one second too long; thanks to her high heeled shoes she didn’t have any problems reaching up to let her lips brush softly against Shane’s before giving her what she’d asked for.
Shane gave in to her as much as she dared to when her brother might be watching them, but Jenny soon broke away from her and stomped on the ground in frustration.
“You know, Tina is fucking driving…” she exclaimed, but Shane cupped her hand over her mouth and nodded in Shay’s direction.
Jenny looked from Shane to Shay and then back again, frowning apologetically. “I’m sorry! I forget.”
“Look,” Shane replied with a small smile as she recalled the first time she’d had to do what she just did. “As long as you don’t try to teach him to say that Tina Kennard is a fucking cunt. What did she do anyway?”
“She’s just…” Jenny shrugged. “She’s being Tina!”
“Jenny, come on. Be nice.”
“But she’s trying to ruin my movie. I have to write a scene about Helena and Bette having sex.”
Shane raised her hand to rub at her nose and Jenny still held her close enough to feel her shaking. She looked questioningly into her eyes and noticed they were full of glittering tears.
“You can’t be serious!” Shane suddenly burst out laughing. It wasn’t so much the idea that seemed funny to her, but that fact that every time Jenny mixed up the characters’ names when she was talking about her movie – something that seemed to happen more and more often lately – it just cracked her up and she couldn’t help it. Jenny never even seemed to notice she was doing it.
“Well…” Jenny shrugged. “That was actually my idea. Tina wanted something way worse. She wanted Nina to sleep with Shaun!”
“But that could be hot,” Shane smiled impishly and Jenny rolled her eyes at her before giving her shoulder a playful nudge.
“Sometimes you’re so full of shit.”
“I, uh…” Shane said quietly, her inner struggle from earlier popping back up in her head. She knew she needed Jenny’s help if she was ever going to be able to decide what to do about it all. “Can I talk to you about something?”
Jenny nodded, so she tried to find the right words to explain what was torturing her so much. “I have to call Gabriel, even if he doesn’t answer the phone. I tried before you got here but I couldn’t make myself do it. I mean, I don’t want to do it, but it’s going to reflect badly on me if I try to keep Shay here when I have no right to. No matter what Gabe’s done to him.” Her thoughts were a mess and she wasn’t sure if what she was saying made any sense at all, but Jenny had a way of understanding her most of the time, even if she didn’t herself.
“Well, we can sort that out right away,” Jenny said and took the phone out of her bag, then dug her other hand into the pocket of Shane’s jeans and pulled up hers. “It doesn’t have to be that complicated.”
“Wait, Jen.” Shane swallowed and looked from the cell phones in Jenny’s hands to the determined expression on her face as she pressed the small buttons. “What are you doing?”
“Shhh…” Holding her own phone to her ear, Jenny placed her index finger over her lips as she listened. Shane’s face seemed to grow paler for every second that passed as Jenny waited for someone to pick up on the other end. When no one did, she ended the call and handed Shane’s phone back to her. “No one home. Just like Shay said.”
Shane covered her face with her hand, rubbing her nose and then reaching up to pull it through her hair while she shook her head slowly. “Jenny, I swear to God, one of these days you’re gonna give me a heart attack.” She let out a deep breath and wrapped her arms around Jenny, pulling her close and burying her face in her long dark hair. “But thank you. I don’t think I would have ever been able to do that no matter how hard I tried.”
“It’s okay.” Jenny stroked her hand over her back, sorry that she’d freaked her out so badly when all she wanted to do was help her get it over with. “Even if he sees that I called, he’s not going to know it’s me, that number isn’t listed.”
“What would you have done if he’d picked it up?” Shane asked quietly into Jenny’s ear.
“Just said something random in French, I guess. He doesn’t speak French, does he?”
A dry chuckle escaped Shane’s lips and she shook her head slowly. “I doubt it. Jesus Christ.”
Jenny loosened her arms around Shane’s neck and moved her hands to her shoulders, gently pushing her back so she could see her face again. She still seemed a bit freaked out and Jenny made a mental note to start actually warning Shane before she executed one of her whimsical plans. “You’re really that afraid of him?” she asked softly, brushing away some hair from Shane’s eyes.
“I’m afraid of what he can do to Shay, and I don’t…” Her voice trailed off, and she looked into Jenny’s eyes as if she was hoping she’d be able to read her mind so she wouldn’t have to say the words out loud. “I don’t want to give him a chance to hurt him again.”
“You could get a lawyer.”
“We talked about this last night. And I can’t afford that.”
“I can afford it,” Jenny stated matter-of-factly and she wished Shane wouldn’t argue with her even though she knew her well enough to know she would.
Shane just shook her head even if she couldn’t help but smiling a little. “That’s your money, Jen, not mine.”
“But I’m going to make lots of it working on the movie,” Jenny continued stubbornly, “and it’s not as if I’m poor as it is. Look, Shane, we’re in a relationship now, and we’re supposed to share things. If the roles were reversed you would be saying the exact same thing, and you know it. And this is important, it’s not like you’d be asking me for money so you could go and buy five tons of bubble wrap. He’s your brother and he means everything to you.” She paused for a moment to take a deep breath. “Please, if you want to do this, don’t let money be an issue. Shay’s what matters, and he’s happy here.”
“He would be the happiest if he could live with his parents. If they could actually take care of him.”
“But they can’t. And you’re so good with him. You’re his sister and his friend and his parent, all at the same time, and I don’t even know how you manage to do that, but even I can see that’s just what he needs. He needs someone who’ll love him and be there for him always, no matter what happens, and that’s exactly what you do.” Jenny paused as she saw a tear fall from Shane’s glittering eyes, and she raised her hand to wipe it away. She didn’t mean to make her cry, but her tears were even more proof that she was right about what she was saying. “I think he could have such a great life with you. With us. And he really does love you. Even if he thinks you should stay away from the half pipe.”
Shane smiled in spite of the tears that trailed down on her cheeks. Turning her head a little to glance over at the half pipe, she saw that Shay was still there practicing, and he didn’t seem to pay much attention at all to what they were up to. After she’d assured herself that her brother was fine she turned back to Jenny, pulled her close and kissed her forehead. “He likes you too, you know,” she said softly.
“He just thinks I’m weird!” Jenny giggled.
“Maybe he does but…” She paused for a moment for no other reason than just wanting to look at her for a moment. Even if she tried for the rest of her life, she couldn’t imagine that she would ever be able to think of a single thing about her that she didn’t love more than life itself. Every time she thought her world was falling apart, Jenny seemed to have her own little ways of gluing it back together in one piece again. “You’re the cute kind of weird,” she continued, “and I love you for that.”
“I love you too. And I know that this is your decision to make, and I’m not going to try to talk you into doing anything you don’t want to do, okay? I just want you to know that I’ll support you in every way that I possibly can, no matter what you decide.”
“I have to talk to Shay about it. I know he’s a kid, but I can’t make a decision that’ll have such a huge effect on his life without hearing what he has to say about it first.” She bit her lip as bits and pieces of memories from her own childhood flashed before her eyes for just a moment. “No one ever asked me how I felt about anything, and even if they had, I doubt they would have cared about what I had to say. I don’t wanna do that to him, it’s his life. And there are just no guarantees that they’ll even let him stay with us, you know that. I don’t know if I can take that risk. I don’t… I don’t think I have the right to.”
“Shane, there’s no one, no one, I promise, that would be better for him than you. I know we can make them see that. All they have to do is look at the two of you together.”
“Thank you,” Shane said sincerely, hoping with all her heart that Jenny would be right.
Jenny glanced at her watch and reluctantly let go of Shane. “You think you’ll be okay? Or do you need me to stay a while?”
“I’ll be fine, I should probably get back to work.”
“Okay, ‘cause I need to get back to the house and work on that stupid scene, and I thought I’d start taking the rest of my things out of my old room so Shay can feel more like it’s actually his. And I know it looks a bit girly right now but maybe later we can do…”
“Jenny, you’re serious about letting him have your room?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Jenny frowned. “I have barely used it for two months, it’s just there and it has my things in it, but I’d rather stay with you. It feels like that’s how it should be. And it’s only fair that he should have a place that he can call his own and a door that he can close when he needs to.”
“I agree,” Shane said, brows furrowed. “But I thought I should be the one to give up my room, not the other way around. He’s my brother, you shouldn’t have to do that.”
Jenny smiled and shook her head a little. “I don’t mind. I just want him to be happy.”
“You’re a star, Jen, you know that?”