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Author's Chapter Notes:
I wrote this as part of my epic fail Nano 2009 attempt.
Shane was so sick of talk therapy she was giving some serious consideration to foregoing the papers she’d signed and simply leaving the hospital against medical advice despite her promises to the doctors, Kit and Jenny. She was just so tired of analyzing why she’d overdosed that she was ready to scream. Wasn’t it obvious? She’d fucked up her life, and had wanted to get away from it for awhile. She hadn’t intentionally given herself a heart attack, but she’d taken the drugs on purpose knowing exactly what they could do. And not exactly caring, at that moment in time.

The therapist the hospital had assigned wasn’t so quick to give up the suicide angle, though, and it was starting to grate on Shane’s nerves. She kept asking if Shane hadn’t meant for the heart attack to happen, even if it was a subconscious decision. No matter how many times Shane insisted that it wasn’t and that she hadn’t, the woman would not let it go.

“Maybe she has a point,” Jenny suggested softly after listening again to Shane’s frustrated complaints about how useless the therapy was turning out to be. Shane sighed and shook her head in response, but she didn’t try to argue verbally. She could understand why Jenny would suggest it, even if she was fighting tooth and nail to convince everyone that she was not, in fact, suicidal in any way. She’d just wanted to escape for a little while, but she was pretty sure that people who weren’t hard drug users wouldn’t really understand that to begin with.

Kit did, that much was obvious. She never really talked about the overdose with Shane, but there was a quiet understanding in her eyes whenever they were together. It wasn’t as often in recent days as it had been in the beginning, since Shane was on the mend and Kit was working more and more. She still made it a point to stop by for at least a while every day, and while she never delved into conversations that might have made things uncomfortable, it was clear that she understood what Shane was and had been going through. At least on some level, which was far more than could be said for most of them. Even Jenny.

Kit usually brought some sort of food along with her when she came to visit, mostly because Shane despised the hospital food and Kit was worried she’d waste away from skipping her meals while she was stuck in there. They all knew it wouldn’t be for too much longer, but she was still being monitored every so often for any potential heart or brain issues. She felt fine, but that didn’t really mean much, since the doctors were fond of telling her that brain swelling and most heart issues could show up without her really feeling them.

So, she let them hook her up to monitors and scanners several times a day, and went for CT scans every so often as well. When she wasn’t being subjected to those things or the therapy, both for addiction and for the “underlying mental issues” that may have contributed to her overdose, she was largely confined to her bed in order to let her heart rest and her body recover. Which would have been completely fine, if she wasn’t so incredibly bored. And if she was allowed to recover at home, she’d have felt so much more comfortable.

She wouldn’t have done that to Jenny, though. Shane wasn’t sure exactly what they were to each other now, or if they could ever go back to being what they’d been. She somewhat doubted it, if she was being honest with herself. She knew they would probably try, but the fear and pain in Jenny’s eyes from the overdose and the residual heartache from the betrayal had left their mark on the friendship, and they both knew it could never be exactly the same no matter how much they wanted it to be, or how hard they tried to make it so.

She didn’t have the heart to really discuss it with her, though. Not yet, anyway. It was obvious that Jenny was still struggling to come to terms with the overdose and its aftermath, and Shane felt that adding the stress of analyzing their friendship at this point in time would be too much for the both of them. Jenny was there with her in the hospital, and for the time being, that was all that really mattered.

She was still trying to assure her that she’d be fine, and to go home and sleep. She wasn’t the only one, either. She knew Kit and at least some of the others were doing exactly the same thing, but Jenny refused to leave the room except to go to the cafeteria when Shane would banish her there several times a day. She was fairly sure Jenny wasn’t using her time up there to actually eat, though, because it was more than obvious that she was losing weight as the days went on. She also wasn’t sleeping, as the ever-increasing black circles under her eyes attested. Shane would wake up most mornings to find Jenny asleep in the chair next to her, looking extremely uncomfortable, and knew that she’d only fallen asleep a short while before.

She knew, both from hearing it vaguely herself and being told by Kit, that Jenny often sat up and talked to her most of the night. Sometimes Shane would fake sleep so she could listen to what was being said, but the heart attack must have worn her out more than she’d anticipated because she was never able to hold out for very long no matter how hard she tried. The things she heard while able to stay awake made her sad, though. Jenny was basically recounting her entire life in a quiet, measured voice, and Shane felt horribly guilty for that after everything that had taken place.

Kit told her, during one of the rare times Jenny had left the room to go find food, that Jenny felt guilty for the overdose. Shane had already suspected it, but having it confirmed nearly broke her heart. “I didn’t say that to make you feel any worse,” Kit assured her. “But that’s why she won’t leave.”

“I keep trying to convince her to go home,” Shane replied sadly. “She shouldn’t have to stay here because I fucked up.”

“That’s what people do when they love each other,” Kit said with a shrug. Shane looked at her in surprise, but Kit waved the questions away. “You know that,” she said as if it were the most obvious thing on earth. Maybe it was; Shane certainly felt as if she should have known. She did know, in the way that they’d been friends for so long, but the way Kit had said it made her think there was something more to the word than she’d given any thought to.

“Don’t worry about all that now,” Kit insisted. “I’ll watch over her, you just work on getting better so you can go home. She’s gonna be fine and so are you.”

Shane nodded slowly. “I want us to be fine with each other,” she said in a bare whisper, almost unaware that she was voicing the desire out loud.

“I know, and you’ll work it out. Two of you been friends way too long to let this shit break it,” Kit said, her emphatic conviction leaving little room for doubt. Shane wanted to believe it, but after what she’d done, both with Niki and now this idiotic overdose, she wasn’t sure it was able to be saved. She wanted it to be, though.

Still, she didn’t mention it when Jenny came back to the room, mostly because Jenny was starting to look like death warmed over. The poor thing was obviously exhausted, and although she assured Shane that she was eating on her trips to the cafeteria, it was pretty evident that she wasn’t. When she made a move to sit back in her chair next to Shane’s bed, Shane shook her head.

“I want you to go home and sleep tonight,” she told her quietly. Before Jenny could protest, she continued. “I’m fine, but you need to sleep, and not here.” Jenny looked ready to launch into why this was both unnecessary and a bad idea when Kit chimed in that she should indeed go home. After being gently scolded by both of them for a few minutes, Jenny relented and agreed to go sleep in her own bed. For that night, anyway.

“Thank you,” Shane told her softly, and the smile she got in return made everything seem worth it after all. No matter how much they needed to work out, that smile told Shane that at least they stood a chance.

**********

Jenny sighed when she walked into the house. It was clean, more than it usually would have been thanks to the fact that Helena and Kit had come over and made sure that it was looked after while Jenny spent her time with Shane. Still, the lingering smell of Pinesol and bleach didn’t erase what had happened. The lamp was back in its rightful place, probably glued back together by Helena, but the memory of throwing it at Shane was a little too much to bear and she made a mental note to throw it away for good the first chance she got.

She sighed and got Sounder ready for a walk. She felt bad for neglecting him so much lately, although she knew that he was being well looked after and fed and walked on a regular basis. Kit even seemed to have taken a liking to him after calling him a rat dog until very recently, so she was sure he was getting enough attention. He seemed overjoyed to have her home, though, and bounced happily along ahead of her as they circled the block a time or two before going back inside, where she cuddled him a little bit and thought.

She still couldn’t quite believe that things had gotten so out of hand. She’d never intended to act the way she had, especially not toward Shane. While she knew the situation wasn’t entirely her fault, she couldn’t help but blame herself for everything anyway. She knew it wouldn’t really do much good, but she couldn’t stave off the idea that she had almost killed her best friend with her overreaction to events that she herself had let mean a little too much.

Not that she completely absolved Shane of blame. She was hurt, and knew she probably always would be, at least a little. Still, she knew that the majority of her anger was a direct result of the feelings she had for Shane, feelings she hadn’t shared when the events had occurred. While she knew it was senseless to blame Shane for them and to hold her accountable for them, she couldn’t help but feel angry anyway.

She knew she needed to explain it to Shane. Explain everything, since that was the only way they’d ever be able to work though this and become anything close to what they had once been. She didn’t know quite how to do that, though, since Shane was still in her recovery period and the last thing jenny wanted to do was cause her any more stress and pain. She also wanted to save herself the heartache of hearing once and for all that Shane didn’t feel the same way about her.

She had no real idea if she did or didn’t, honestly, but the possibility that Shane didn’t love her in quite the same way was something she battled with daily in her head. It was why she hadn’t said anything that night on the couch with the bong, when she’d first realized it in all its clarity. She was far too frightened that Shane wouldn’t reciprocate.

She knew Shane loved her. That wasn’t the issue. They loved each other deeply and had for a very long time, but there was a new facet to it now and Jenny was deathly afraid that she’d missed her chance. Shane had seemed head over heels about Molly, and while Jenny wasn’t fully aware of what had happened between them, she knew that Shane was hurting and had been since it happened.

She stared at the letter and folded jacket which Kit had placed on the kitchen table. She knew that touching either item would be a gigantic breach of Shane’s privacy, and she didn’t want to be that person. They’d never been that way, as roommates or as friends, and she didn’t want to start now even if her curiosity was killing her. Shane had brushed it off when Jenny had suggested the note be brought to her in the hospital, but she thought that maybe if she took it in herself in the morning, Shane might be more receptive.

It was a lot harder than she’d anticipated to leave it alone, though. She fixed herself something small to eat from the groceries that had magically appeared in the refrigerator courtesy of Helena and went to bed, but lying there with the moonlight spilling over the blankets, all she wanted to do was go back to the kitchen, read the letter and put it back as if nothing had happened at all. Knowing that to do such a thing would be wrong was doing very little to quell the desire, and Jenny sighed and rolled over onto her stomach in an attempt to stop thinking about it.

It worked, somewhat. Shane and Kit and all the others had been right, she was exhausted. Sleep came quickly, but when it did, dreams followed, all of them having to do with the letter and with Shane and Niki together, laughing at her as her heart broke into pieces at her feet.

**********

Shane managed to sit through her therapy session the next morning, although she still had to wonder what the point to it all was. The therapist still wasn’t listening to her, and she felt fine and just wanted to go home.

They told her that there had been some abnormal readings during one of her scans that morning, though. She couldn’t remember which one, and even if she had, she wouldn’t have known what it meant to begin with. So she simply got back in bed as she was told and waited for Jenny.

It didn’t take long. Jenny stuck her head in the room at a little past ten, glancing around nervously to check that she wasn’t interrupting anything. Not that she would have been; Shane was basically left to herself unless it was time for a scan or an appointment, or they needed to give her some kind of food or medication, both of which she felt she could easily have done without.

“It’s okay,” Shane said gently after Jenny had been standing in the doorway looking at her shyly for a few moments. “You can come in if you want to.”

Jenny shook her head sheepishly and walked over to the bed, hugging Shane hello and slipping something into her hand. “Molly’s letter,” she said in response to Shane’s confused look. “I know you said you didn’t want to read it, but it was just sitting on the kitchen table and I thought maybe you’d like to read it at some point.”

“Thanks,” Shane replied. She’d been honest when she said she didn’t care much about reading it, but she had to admit she was a little curious as to what it said anyway. It seemed like forever since she and Molly had called it quits, but she was still in Shane’s thoughts quite a bit, especially late at night as she was trying to sleep. That was the case with most of her regrets, though, and lately Jenny had been in the forefront of her mind so often that she’d practically disregarded Molly entirely.

She was still sad over the way things had turned out, but salvaging what she could with Jenny meant far more to her than anything with Molly possibly could. Still, it was nice to know that despite the way things had transpired, Molly hadn’t forgotten her completely. Maybe she’d read the letter later that day, if she couldn’t sleep after her next group therapy session or something.

“How are you feeling?” Jenny asked, startling Shane back to the present situation. It was a stupid question, especially in a hospital setting, but Shane forgave her for it. It was human nature to ask, even if the answer as fairly obvious given the circumstances. Jenny seemed to realize how idiotic the question was the second it had left her mouth, because she looked at the floor in embarrassment. “Sorry.”

“It’s fine,” Shane assured her. “And so am I. There was a weird reading on one of the scans so I’m stuck in bed all day, but I feel fine.”

“What kind of weird reading?” Jenny asked, immediately concerned. She sighed when Shane simply shrugged at the question.

“I wish I could tell you,” Shane answered honestly. “I never have any idea what they're talking about.”

“Yeah, I never really do either,” Jenny admitted. “If they want you to stay in bed it must be serious, though.”

“I doubt it, they didn’t even send the doctor in,” Shane replied. “They probably will later, but if it was that serious they’d have done that already. Don’t worry.”

Jenny sighed and tried not to, although it was hard. She was always worried, and had spent the night tossing and turning from nightmares about the bad things that could have happened to Shane throughout the night. For all Jenny knew, her condition might have worsened by degrees until she was near death or worse, and she never would have known. The fact that she was an emergency contact meant nothing to her, because she was under the impression that if something bad were to really happen, she’d be called afterward regardless. She tried to shake off the feeling. Shane was talking to her and was fine, for the most part. She didn’t know the extent of the “weird reading” as Shane had described it, but she figured that if it were truly something dire, there would be several doctors and nurses milling about in the background anyway.

So she tried to act as normal as possible and told Shane about her night at home. She’d ended up doing next to nothing except getting some food and then tossing and turning for hours, but she fudged a little and told Shane that she’d gotten some restorative sleep. She could tell Shane didn’t fully believe her from the appraising look and smirk she got in response, but Shane said nothing to challenge her. Jenny was glad; there were far more important things to worry about.

**********

One by one, the rest of the group got shot down in their attempts to visit. Shane wasn’t in the mood to see any of them, and while she knew they probably meant well, she just couldn’t handle it right now. Kit was allowed, as was Helena, but aside from them and of course Jenny Shane just wasn’t feeling ready.

She was still ashamed, something she was trying to work out in therapy. She knew that she really had no reason to be, but she was anyway, senseless as it might have been. She knew Jenny understood that, although they hadn’t really talked about it. She would ask every day whether Shane wanted to see the others, but when Shane begged off she never said a word about it either way. Shane was grateful that she didn’t have to explain that on top of everything else.

She’d tried several times to get up the courage to tell Jenny exactly why she’d done what she’d done, but she was never able to get there. Jenny would simply wave her explanations away, insisting that it didn’t matter now. The only problem with that was that Shane knew it did matter, both in the friendship itself and in the possible rectification of anything for the future.

She read Molly’s letter while Jenny went up to the cafeteria that afternoon. Kit was talking to one of the nurses about something or other; she couldn’t be sure exactly what since they were standing just outside the door and speaking in low voices. She was happy for it, though, because it gave her a few minutes to herself.

She skimmed through the words. Romantic and sweet, but for as nice as they were, she couldn’t help but feel as if there was something missing from them. It was very nice to read that Molly would accept her for who and what she was, but even that didn’t really add the element of familiarity Shane felt was missing from the letter. It was nice and it was incredibly beautiful, but Shane felt as though it could have been addressed to almost anyone. There was nothing…personal? She had no idea what the correct word was, but she didn’t really feel as if Molly had been writing to her so much as to a romantic ideal.

The letter was still sweet, and she knew she should probably contact the girl sometime soon. That idea scared her to death, though.

To her own surprise, she wordlessly handed the letter to Jenny when she came back. Kit had stopped her right outside the room and told her something, but Jenny didn’t have a chance to go into the spiel before Shane handed her the letter. She looked like she wanted to refuse, but seeing the expression on Shane’s face she sighed and read it. After a few moments she looked back at Shane again. “This is very sweet,” she said, seeming lost for any other words at the moment.

“Yeah,” Shane agreed.

“Do you want me to call her and tell her that you’re here?”

“I don’t know,” Shane hedged.

“I can, whenever you’re ready,” Jenny assured her. When Shane didn’t say anything, she decided that she might as well tell her what had been said in the hallway. “Kit told me that the nurse says your heart rate has been a little elevated the last few times they’ve checked it. They want you on bed rest the next couple days to try to get it back down again.”

Shane just nodded. It had been about what she was expecting.

“It probably doesn’t have anything to do with the heart attack, but they want to be careful.” Shane just nodded again, and Jenny sighed. “I want you to be careful. Don’t worry about this right now, it isn’t important. If you feel like it when you’re better you can call her and try to fix it, but I want you to be better first. I don’t want you to stress yourself out. You really scared me…”

“I’m so sorry,” Shane said in what sounded like more of a half-sob, taking Jenny’s hand and holding onto it for dear life. “I never meant to do that.” She didn’t elaborate, but it was pretty clear that she meant everything that had happened, up to and including the overdose and heart attack.

“Shhhhhh, I know,” Jenny soothed. “It’ll be all right.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Jenny answered with a nod. It had been one of the things she’d been tossing and turning about all night. Whether or not she was willing to forgive. She was; that much was abundantly clear. She loved Shane far too much to cut her out of her life completely. “I don’t know if I can forget what happened, but we’ve meant too much to each other for me not to forgive you.”

“I’m not asking you to forget,” Shane whispered. “I understand if you can’t forgive me.”

“I didn’t say I couldn’t,” Jenny interrupted softly. “It’s just going to take some time.” She sighed and decided to go ahead and say what she’d realized the night before. “There were some circumstances that made me angrier than I would have been otherwise, and I shouldn’t have used them against you.” She held up a hand so Shane wouldn’t break in. “I’m still angry with you, and I probably will be for awhile. But I don’t want you to worry. I’m not going anywhere.”

“Thank you,” Shane whispered. She didn’t ask for details on what these other circumstances had been; Jenny would tell her in her own time, if and when she felt like it. For Shane, it was more than enough that she was willing to work toward forgiveness.

Jenny opened her mouth to say more, but after glancing at Shane and seeing the dark circles under her eyes, she decided against it. “You sleep,” she said in what she hoped was a soothing voice. “We can talk more later. Don’t worry about anything now.” And for as much as Shane wanted to settle things and get everything between them out in the open, she was suddenly too tired to disobey.

**********

The confession, when it came, was unheeded. Shane really had no idea what caused her to mention it at all. She’d talked Molly’s letter over a little more with Jenny, and while she was honest with her about it meaning very little, she wanted to explain things as best she could. She hoped that if all the cards were on the table Jenny might have an easier time with the entire situation, whether that was true or not. Still, she wanted to be as honest as she could, especially after what had happened. She knew Jenny would never inquire that deeply into it and ask her exactly what had led to the overdose, and she wasn’t sure she could explain it even if she tried, because she didn’t really know that herself. But it was important to her that she not try to hide anything, and that she share everything with Jenny rather than try to bur it like she did almost everything else.

Jenny took the news of what Phyllis had said rather hard, and although Shane was quick to insist that their conversation alone wasn’t responsible for the events that had followed it, Jenny didn’t seem to share this notion. She was steadfast in the belief that Phyllis’ words had set off the chain of events that had led to so much destruction, even when Shane tried to dissuade her from that idea.

Jenny did concede that she understood that Shane’s choices were her own and that she couldn’t use what had happened as a sort of scapegoat. She was still angry and knew that she would be for quite some time, even if she was a lot more understanding of things now. It still didn’t take away the feelings of anger and betrayal, but at least it was something.

She was far more concerned that Shane had acted out the way she had instead of simply talking with her, or with anyone she cared about. The fact that Shane actually seemed to believe what Phyllis had said really bothered Jenny, so much so that she was afraid to really comment on it. She’d known about Shane’s avoidance tactics for a very long time now, but it was rare that they went to such an extreme. She really hoped the forced therapy would help, although she knew it’d be a long struggle if it ended up doing any good at all. She tried to remain hopeful, though. Shane did seem to have a genuine desire to work through things, although Jenny had the sneaking suspicion that she was wanting it so badly in order to reconcile with her, and that made her almost unbearably sad.

She didn’t mention it, though. The news from Kit about the scan had frightened her, and for as much as they were talking and sharing these last few days Jenny was wont to stress Shane out any more than she absolutely needed to. She was starting to feel incredibly guilty for bringing Molly‘s letter in at all, although she knew Shane had been wanting to read it ever since she‘d first heard about it. She’d figured it was best to get it out of the way rather than putting it off and leaving Shane to wonder about it.

This wasn’t the time to bring it up, though. Or anything else, for that matter. Shane looked exhausted, and Jenny was worried. She knew things would more than likely be just fine, and she’d been assured by the doctors that rest was all she needed and that she‘d be able to go home very soon, but it was still difficult to see her that way.

Kit insisted that they leave late that afternoon so they could give Shane a chance to really sleep. Jenny didn’t want to leave, but finally acquiesced when Shane told her to go. Jenny sighed and agreed to go with Kit to get some coffee at the Planet. From the second they left Shane’s room, Jenny started talking and didn’t stop for nearly half an hour as Kit drove. They didn’t end up at the Planet after all, since Jenny seemed to need to vent so badly. Kit just drove, letting the poor girl say what she needed to.

When she seemed to be done talking, Kit simply sighed. “I wish I had an answer for you,” she said sadly. She did want to give Jenny some advice on how to handle the situation, but it was just too complicated to have an easy solution. It was going to take a lot of time and even more effort to make things any sort of right, and while she was confident they could pull it off, it was probably going to be harder than anything they’d faced before, either individually or as friends. She voiced this to Jenny, who nodded knowingly.

“I really don’t know what to do,” Jenny said sadly as the car finally neared the Planet.

“Just let things happen,” Kit replied. “It’s gonna take a long time. You gotta let her work some things out for herself. Just be there.”

“I’m going to be, but I’m still angry,” Jenny admitted. She was still somewhat ashamed for feeling that way after Shane had nearly died, but she couldn’t help it. She knew Kit wouldn’t judge her for it, though.

“You have every right to be, but you gotta work through that on your own. I’m not saying she don’t need to make it up to you, but that girl’s been through a hell of a lot because of it. If you wanna stay her friend, you gotta just put that shit on the shelf,” Kit said, trying to advise and make her way through traffic at close to rush hour simultaneously. Jenny knew she was right, but it still felt as if it was going to be an insurmountable task. One she wasn’t sure she could actually pull off, although she wanted to more than just about anything.

“I think you need to be honest with her about how you feel,” Kit continued when she’d somehow managed to make it into the parking lot and get the car shut off without killing them both. Jenny was silent as they walked in and waved hello to Helena, who poured coffee for them without a word. Kit gave her a quick update on Shane’s condition as she took their cups, and she and Jenny headed for a table toward the back of the café. Helena promised to join them as soon as the after-work rush was over.

There was peaceful silence between them for a little while as they relaxed and sipped their coffee. Jenny was trying to decide whether or not it was a good idea to admit to Shane how she felt about her. She would eventually, but with the scan results today and the letter from Molly on top of it, she was unsure if telling her now would be such a good idea.

Kit seemed to see this internal struggle. “I didn’t mean you need to tell her today,” she said gently, noticing the worried expression on Jenny’s face. “Just sometime soon. I think she deserves that.”

“She does,” Jenny agreed with a nod. And for as scared as she was about actually telling her, she knew Kit was right. It needed to be done and Shane did deserve to know. She just had no idea how to actually say the words, or what effect they’d have. Obviously things were different between them now and her feelings were a large part of that, but she was still scared of actually admitting the reason she’d reacted so strongly to Shane, especially in the aftermath of her overdose. She did think it needed to be done, though.

Which was probably why she simply said the words when she got back to Shane’s room. They were prefaced with a warning, but Shane was all right physically. Jenny got confirmation from the doctors on that one, so she felt a little more confident in telling her. She’d been scared it might set her back a little.

Shane was obviously surprised, but she didn’t seem shocked. Nor did she seem angry, which was a huge relief to Jenny. She insisted that she didn’t expect anything of Shane, especially not after what had taken place, but told her that she’d needed to get it out there.

There was no response for a second until Shane motioned her over to the bed. She’d stayed in it all day as the doctor had advised, and the readings seemed to have gone back to normal. She was going to have to take it easy for the next few days, but seeing the dark circles under Jenny’s eyes made that incredibly easy to take. The last thing she wanted to do was cause her any more worry.

So she simply kissed her instead.

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