Tina and I step out of the Lexus and she handles Angie as Dana and I move lethargically from the car. It took a lot of convincing, begging, pleading, and even threats of bodily harm, but the winner was emotional blackmail. Either way, Dana’s here. I know she feels like shit. I look down at my stomach that nearly blocks out the sun and sigh. We both do…
I understand feeling miserable. My back, thighs, and breasts are killing me; I’m hungry all the time, tired all the time. My feet ache, my nipples hate clothing or touch of any kind, even shower water. Let’s not forget the fact it’s late summer in LA. I’m hot, I’m enormous, I’m nearly six months pregnant, and over the past few weeks I’ve ballooned beyond reason. I feel like I’ve been knocked up by Godzilla.
I know my reasons aren’t nearly as terrible, especially not emotionally, but Dana’s alive, and no matter what’s happening, partaking in life is the only thing that will give her the hope to fight. She’s been relentless in her pursuit to drive Alice insane but she’s been pretty decent to me. I think misery loves company, and nearly six months pregnant with twins in the summer is its own form of misery. We make quite the pair.
We’ve actually grown very close in a relatively short amount of time. She’s been at the house with me all day, every day, and has even stayed in the guest room a couple of times. People randomly drop by to see us and Alice is there every day as well. She’s a hell of a friend given the abuse she’s putting up with. I think Dana feels that Tina and I are safer at this time in her fight because there’s no drama or instability or sexual history. But mostly, I think she’s not constantly reminded of what she’s lost around us. It’s so senseless. She doesn’t have to lose anything…
I finally convinced her about a month ago to tell her parents. They came immediately to collect her from our ‘evil homosexual clutches.’ But I don’t think they were prepared for this new Dana. Not only did she fail to placate their delusion, she had absolutely no patience for it. They told her it was time to come be with her real family, in a ‘safe environment.’ Her mother actually made a distasteful face at me and my home. This was a particularly hard moment to control my irritability, but I wouldn’t have gotten a word in edgewise even if I couldn’t have. Dana not so calmly or politely explained that we areher family. We understand her, we love her, and if she’s going to die, we are the faces she wants to take with her wherever she’s going, not people who refuse to accept her. Furthermore, they weren’t welcome until they do.
I was just as blown away as they were. Her parents didn’t say anything at that point, and part of me felt that they were prepared to send her off, as if her dying would be a relief from having a gay daughter. Either that or they needed to go and erase the entire conversation from their minds and again firmly replace reality with the fantasy world where Dana isn’t gay. The expression on her father’s face as they left was a clear indication that they blame her environment. I’m just surprised my returning gaze didn’t melt him into a puddle where he stood.
It’s not only abhorrent to me; it’s unimaginable that parents would abandon their children because of something so wholly irrelevant, let alone at all. While I hate what’s happening to Dana, I feel like this struggle has been good for her emotionally. She doesn’t realize it yet, but she is getting stronger. I think where one piece of the whole is lacking, the other steps up to compensate. Her body may be failing her; but her mind is only sharpening, fully honing in on its identity.
We shut our doors and the four of us, well, six of us, make our way inside. Kit sees Dana and her expression indicates shocked delight as she comes out from behind the counter to hug Dana. “I’m so glad you came today, baby girl.” Dana returns the hug with a loaded sigh and I smile at her over Kit’s shoulder. Life – 1, Death – 0, and the day has only just begun. “You go on over to the table and I’ll bring you something nice and light on your tummy.” Dana smiles faintly and Kit shoos us away.
As we start to approach the table, we all start to laugh, even Dana. Tina places Angie in her high chair and we take our seats, Dana sitting between me and Shane instead of her usual place next to Alice. Alice doesn’t seem to want to hide her relationship with Tasha at all, and a sense of foreboding wells up within me. They aren’t inappropriately close, but they’re still very close. It’s obvious. It’s a good thing all the crazy hair around the table is distracting Dana. Everyone aside from Tasha, Helena, Dylan, Tina, Angie, and me have their hair sticking straight up. If the clothes matched the insane hairstyles, I’d think we were sitting with the lost members of Motley Crew. Even Malcolm has on a crazy wig over his short crop, and Papi’s hair… there are not words. I sigh. Tom is again, noticeably absent.
Dana looks around the table with tears in her eyes and I can’t help but match them, either because it’s just so very touching that they’d do this to make her feel more comfortable and cheer her up, or the crazy emotions of pregnancy, I can’t tell.
I smile at Shane. “Well, this explains the smog this morning.” I gesture at the group and everyone laughs, except Dana.
She looks to me with wide, confused eyes as she says, “I don’t get it…”
I could cry. This is the Dana we all love and miss. I pat her thigh, playfully condescending. “Aerosol cans destroy the ozone and Shane must have used two or three per head.”
Dana grins and looks to everyone. Her smile becomes sad and her voice breaks a little bit as she says, “Thanks, you guys.”
Shane reaches over and squeezes Dana’s hand. “We just wanted to show our support, Dane.”
Her smile is still sad, but at least she’s smiling. Life – 2, Death – 0. Carmen breaks the silence, “Shane, your hair doesn’t look much different than usual.” Kit arrives and starts placing our food in front of us and I sigh in relief as I start to dig in, the ice cream already peppered with green martini olives.
Shane flops her head back and sighs as Alice starts to giggle. Tasha bumps her reproachfully but that doesn’t stop her. Shane abruptly sits forward and pierces Carmen with her eyes, her voice annoyed as she asks, “Carmen, can you just lay off for one day? Would that be too much to ask? Fuck…”
Carmen opens her mouth and barks a short incredulous laugh as her face takes on an expression of fake innocence. “What? It’s true…” She takes a grape off her plate and pops it in her mouth, chewing happily as she leans back in her chair and meets Shane’s frustrated gaze with utter satisfaction. Alice tucks her hand over her mouth and turns to Tasha who shakes her head but still chortles genuinely. Alice smiles even wider as she playfully bumps Tasha on the shoulder with her own. Shane has been staring at Alice this whole time and waits for her to turn back around. When she finally does, that’s all it takes to shut Alice up. She rolls her eyes huffily and leans back in her chair, quietly sipping her coffee.
It’s at this quiet opening that I turn to see that Dana has been watching all of this as well. She’s staring at Tasha and Alice with quiet, almost malevolent contemplation. Tasha notices and introduces herself. “You must be Dana Fairbanks. I’m Tasha Williams.” Tasha leans up out of her chair and reaches her hand across the table. “It’s nice to finally meet you…” Dana doesn’t accept the gesture, choosing a fake smile instead. Tasha withdraws her hand awkwardly and sits back down, clearing her throat. “Ahem… I um… I saw your match against Daniella Azoulay. You did an incredible job.”
Dana’s fake smile doesn’t change as she says, “Thanks,” in a tone that’s bordering on bored hostility. She looks back to Alice who eyes her defiantly. “Did you watch until the closing credits?”
Tasha takes a relaxing breath. I have to hand it to her. She’s very calm under pressure and respectful to a fault. She opens her mouth to respond but Alice cuts in. “Dana, I don’t see how that matters?”
Dana snorts. “It doesn’t matter…” She gestures to Tasha. “…obviously.”
Alice rolls her eyes. “You’re kidding me, right? You broke up with me, remember? You remind me at least once a day, if not mo–”
Shane cuts through before I’ve had a chance to swallow my most recent bite. “Come on, you guys…”
Both Dana and Alice chorus, “Shut up, Shane,” together before returning to their visual stand-off.
I look around at my family and I’m so fucking tired of this shit. It’s too senseless to abide it any longer. I set my bowl down harshly and everyone turns their attention to me. “I’m almost six months pregnant. It’s hot, it’s miserable; the twins are forever sitting on my bladder and rearranging my other vital organs. I eat things like this…” I hold up the olive-covered ice cream and everyone cringes. “…I’m enormous, I’m tired, I have eternal heartburn and indigestion, and I’m sick of the dyke melodrama.”
I turn to Alice’s gaping face. “You’ve moved on. Good for you. You don’t have to justify it. But get out of Shane’s ass, okay?” I turn to Dana. “You told Alice to move on because you have this defeatist notion that you’re not going to live. Well, Dana, you are. I know you’re sick, and miserable, and I know it’s scary. I haven’t been in your shoes so I can’t sympathize, but I can empathize. We all love you, we’re here for you, and you can get through this if you’ll just fight it.” My temper starts to rise along with my temperature and I can feel the babies doing summersaults in my stomach as I turn to Carmen. “You’re still mad at Shane. I get it, but nitpick and start fights on your own time. It’s been two years and it’s tired.” I stand as I look to Shane. “And you… get your head out of your ass. You’ve gone two years without sex. I think it’s safe to say monogamy is possible, even for you. So suck it up and get a steady girlfriend so you can get laid.”
Tina stands and comes up to me stroking my back, my eyes radiating tension at their shocked faces. I have only more thing to say: “For fuck’s sake just get it together… all of you…”
Papi tilts her head back in respect as she says, “You tell em’, Mama.”
I roll my eyes indignantly at Papi. “Oh, shut up, Papi…”
I turn and waddle my way to the bathroom, Tina picking up Angie and following me. She waits for me by the sink and I start to calm down as I wash my hands awkwardly. It’s difficult to reach the faucet, so I stand slightly to the side. I look to Tina with regret and she smiles reassuringly at me as she says, “Don’t, for one minute, feel bad for saying what everyone else was thinking. They’ve all had that coming for a long while now.”
I smile at her infinite support and she hands me a paper towel. I lean against the counter as I dry my hands and sigh wearily. Tina steps up in front of me and strokes the curls from my eyes. “Bette…” I meet her gaze. “…let me take you and Dana home to get some rest, okay? I don’t like you being this stressed out.” And she does it again, that wonderful support and love that I’ve come to need like air is so readily available to me.
I release a cleansing breath and smile playfully at her. “Okay, but first I want to finish my breakfast.” She returns my smile and takes my hand, holding the door open for me.
I readjust the pregnancy pillow wedged beneath my too large stomach and sigh. I just can’t get comfortable enough to sleep.
“I can’t sleep either…”
I look over at Dana on the other side of the bed and sigh. We got back from the Planet about an hour ago, and Alice agreed to watch Angie so we could rest. “Are your feeling sick?” She releases a heavy breath and nods her head. I close my eyes for a moment. I love my friend, so much, and I hate being helpless. “Do you need anything?”
She finally opens her eyes and curls further in on herself. “A cure…” I try to think of something to say, but there’s nothing that can help. She reads this on my face and says as much. “I know, Bette.” There’s a long moment of silence as we just rest and she closes her eyes again. I adjust my pillow with slightly better luck and sigh in relief as I feel one of the babies move a little higher. Dana’s voice almost startles me as she asks, “Has she been seeing Tasha long?”
I adjust my head on the pillow and meet her tired eyes with my own. “I’m not sure how long, but I think about a month now.” She closes her eyes and a single tear falls from her eye, across her nose, and lands wetly on Tina’s pillow. “Dana, why did you break up with her if you didn’t really want to?”
She swipes at the tear angrily for giving her away and her eyes harden as she looks to me. “For a while I thought that I just hadn’t lived enough, known enough, experienced enough…” She snorts. “…I thought that maybe we should see other people; I just didn’t know how to end it with her.” She sniffs and wipes at her nose with her sleeve. “So when this…” She gestures at herself generally. “…happened, it gave me the excuse I needed, but I knew if I told her she’d never let me leave her, and I sure as fuck wasn’t going to let her get more and more attached to me, especially not now.”
She shivers a little bit and I pull the blankets that I have absolutely no interest in up around her. I’m burning up and she has to fight just to regulate her body temperature. For a moment anger fills me at the unfairness of it. I hate her cancer. I hate what it’s doing to her. I hate what it has the potential to do to her. She smiles sadly as I finish tucking her in. “Thanks.” She blows out another breath and I do the same as she snuggles into the comforter and continues. “Ever since you guys showed up, you’ve helped me so much, all of you, but Alice… she’s the only person I really need, like really need, you know?”
I smile a knowing smile at her. “Of course I do.”
“I think… no, I know… for sure now, that I’m in love with her.” She lets out a short, bitter laugh. “It’s ironic, isn’t it? Just when I figure out what I want, I’m going to die.”
I furrow my brows at her. “No you’re not…”
The bitterness in her voice reaches her eyes as well as she says, “You don’t fucking know that! How the fuck do you know that?! You’re not God…”
I have so many conflicting emotions running through me at this moment that I’m not sure which to grab ahold of and focus on. “Okay, Dana. Let me tell you what I do know: I know that you’re not dead yet; I know that you can beat this if you want to; I know that even if you do die, you’re wasting the time you have left; and I know that if you live – and I believe you will – you will regret this time in your life not just because of the cancer, but because of the choices you’re making now.”
The anger seems to peak and drain out of her, and it’s so taxing on her system that if she weren’t already lying down, she would probably collapse. “Dana…” I wait for her to meet my eyes. “…if you love Alice, tell her. I know that it’s not over yet…”
Tears start leaking from her eyes as she rolls onto her back. “No… you don’t understand, Bette–”
“Dana, don’t do this. You don’t have to…”
She covers her mouth with her hand and shakes her head before quickly stumbling from the bed and staggering to the bathroom. I try to get up, but it’s a slow process. I feel like a beached whale, complete with the sounds of seasickness coming from the en suite. I finally get to my feet and waddle after her. Dana’s so weak she’s draped her thin frame over the bowl as she continues to expel absolutely nothing at all into its depths.
I walk to the linen closet and take out a clean rag, wetting it with warm water in the sink. She’s stopped retching and slumped to the side of the toilet against the wall. I come over to her but I can’t bend or even crouch, my stomach is just too big. I do my best to hand her the rag and she starts to clean herself. Her voice is rough as she practically whispers, “Thank you…”
I can’t help the tears that fall from my eyes. The emotion behind them is so violent I feel an intense tightening in my stomach and I worry that I might be sick as well. It leaves just as quickly and I wipe at my face before holding a hand out to her. “Can you walk? You need to drink some water and get some rest.”
She uses my hand and the wall to lift herself and flush the toilet, and I support her as best as I can, making a quick stop at the sink for her to rinse her mouth out and wash her hands. She’s cold, clammy, and covered in a sweat that makes her shiver. It’s slow progress, but we finally get back to the bed and get resettled. We lay in silence for long moments before I hear her quiet voice say, “I’m scared, Bette…”
I make sure she’s better covered and the shivering seems to decrease. “I know, Dana. I’m scared too, but you can do this. I believe in you…” She starts crying forcefully and I slowly rock myself toward her so I can cuddle up to her. She grabs on to my arm, pulling it across her stomach, and holds on for dear life. For dear life… fate is infinitely sad sometimes. The sobs and shudders decrease over time, and after several long minutes, we both fall into an exhausted sleep.
I shuffle into Angie’s room after again using the restroom. It’s been a rough day for my body and everything is starting to grate on my nerves. A call to Doctor Wilson sent Tina to the store for an over the counter medicine called Gaviscon. I took it about twenty minutes ago, but it doesn’t seem to be working. I’m beginning to think it’s the olives and ice cream, but I just can’t seem to help myself; I crave it so intensely.
I walk over to Angie who’s sitting in her bed listening to her Little Einsteins CD, and gently remove the headphones. She looks up at me with tired eyes and I smile as I sit on the edge of the bed and fix her disheveled hair. “You ready for bed?”
She shakes her head and yawns before saying, “No,” in a sleepy voice. My grin reaches my eyes and she rolls her own at me before sighing dramatically and drawling, “Okay…”
She snuggles down and I pull the blankets up over her as Tina steps into the room with her cell phone.
“Sorry, Helena’s freaking out about Dylan. Apparently, it’s not enough that I hear about it all day at work.” She sits on the other side of Angie’s bed and strokes her hair.
“T, what do you think would happen if Dylan proposed?” Tina eyes me, the question in her eyes evident, and I smile at her. “I think it’s imminent.”
She blows out a breath. “She’s not ready. I’ve tried to tell her that marriage can be fantastic, but she doesn’t want to hear that. She pretty much just ignores me.”
I shake my head. “Why…? She obviously loves Dylan…”
Tina lifts a hand and lets it fall back to her thigh. “At least thirty times a day she asks me if she can trust Dylan. What do I say to that? I have no idea if she can. Only she can know that. Honestly, I’m beginning to believe that she doesn’t trust anyone, not really.”
Angie rolls onto her back and looks at us crossly. “I’m trying to sleep, moms…”
Tina raises an incredulous eyebrow and I again shake my head as we both stand. It’s awkward but I manage to lean over and kiss Angie’s forehead. Tina’s voice is playfully exasperated as she says, “You’re so demanding.”
I tickle Angie’s sides for a moment and she giggles. “Night, babycakes.”
I kiss her again and she says, “Night.” I stand up and wince, bracing my hands against my back and letting out sigh.
Tina leans down and takes her turn kissing Angie as I flip on her nightlight. Tina strokes her hair and caresses her cheek. “We love you.”
Angie yawns again and says, “Love you…” and we both exit the room, turning off the light and leaving the door ajar.
I blow out a breath, still bracing my back as we make our way towards the room. Tina shuts the door and I immediately start to remove my clothes, sighing in relief as my nipples thank me profusely. “Babe, why don’t you lay down and prop yourself up with your pillow? I’ll give you a massage.”
I look to her with hopeful longing and gratitude and don’t hesitate to finish with my clothing and lay down. I wedge the pillow beneath the babies and have to push on one of them to get him or her to move up. They finally rearrange themselves and settle down, and I groan as I feel Tina’s oiled hands start to rub right at the problem areas in my lower back. “It always helped when you did this for me.”
I grin as I remember. She was so beautiful when she was pregnant. I might have enjoyed giving the massages more than she enjoyed receiving them. She releases the largest of the tension in my back over long minutes before crawling up from the foot of the bed gloriously naked to my eyes. For some reason, she likes to sleep naked now that I’m pregnant. She did before, but she’s almost adamant now. She says she can feel the babies better and she feels closer to all of us, that and my skin just feels so good. She’ll receive no complaints from me. She’s the most beautiful woman I’ll ever see. She smiles at me as she starts to spread the stretch mark butter over my stomach. Her touch is so warm and soft that a gentle, quiet calm settles over me. Even my heartburn has settled some.
I watch her adoringly as she strokes and soothes my skin with her hands, gently moving my legs or rolling me carefully to reach all of the problem areas. She gets to my thighs and I moan in pleasure. They’ve been killing me for days. She starts at my knee, working the flat of her hands up over the full circumference of sensitive muscle until she reaches the v of my legs.
I close my eyes as she tracks her fingers under me, running her thumbs down each crease, ensuring she hits not only every ache and pain, but every erogenous zone as well. I want to sigh and relax into the relief she’s inspiring, but the unexpected eroticism causes my heart rate pick up and I involuntarily spread my legs a little more to give her better access. She grips and kneads and pulls at my flesh as she moves to the other side, again starting at my knee and working her way up. A warm throb settles low in my hips and melts away all conscious thought or reason as she dips her head down over me, kissing high on the inside of my leg. The silky tendrils of her honey hair fall forward and brush against my vulva, her warm, open mouth soft against my delicate skin, her breath fluttering out, rippling across me and leaving goose flesh as she breathes out, “Bette…?”
I try to hum in reply but it comes out as more of a groan. I feel one of her hands move under me, settling at my center to gently run over my opening up to my clit. I gasp at the excited sparks that shoot through me. Her voice is husky and rough as she says, “You’re so wet…” I open my eyes and look at her with all the lust that’s rushing through my veins. She grins lasciviously and I feel her infinitely welcome touch smooth across the now fully exposed bundle again. The motion was easy the first time, but now, the movement is so smooth that I crave more friction.
I feel the warm pressure of her thumb trail back down, slipping into me without hindrance. I’m not entirely sure what she’s doing, but I feel pleasantly full as she twists and pulls down against my walls. They quiver in anticipation and she starts to become more forceful. There’s another wave of fire-like tendrils that roll up my spine as her other hand strokes over my clit.
My hips want to rock so badly, but they’re so encumbered I can’t fully respond, and honestly, that only serves to further excite me. I can’t control this encounter at all, and the inability to really move makes it easier for her to touch me with masterful precision. Every inch of me, inside and out, is hyperaware and hypersensitive. No one has ever reached me like her.
I reach a hand up and grip the low back of the headboard as she again dips her head forward, nuzzling the small patch of dark, sticky curls that crown my vulva, her hot breath puffing against my overstimulated clit.
The explosive sensations that are building are easy and fluid, and my body so completely receptive that even the warm air from the open window causes the fine hairs across my flesh to stand on end, my nipples tightening painfully. Her warm mouth seals in around her hands and I feel a wet gush of super-intense heat envelop my sex. My heaving breaths become tinged with audible whimpers as the time between tingling tremors lessens, and lessens, colliding together until there is nothing left between each rush of powerful sensation. My flesh is thrown into a swirling vortex of intense paroxysms as the longing ache spills out from my core to rush through my consciousness, fill up my soul, and carry me away on a raging tide of pleasure.
I’m rocked to and fro for long moments before the waters calm and I float weightlessly on the now gentle current, basking in the warm calm of an after-glowing sun. I feel a gentle but sudden emptiness and the brush of warm, sweat-slicked skin gently glide up over me.
I finally open my eyes to see my wife, my life, my Tina braced above me and trembling. Her voice is rough with desire as she says, “My God, you’re incredible…” Her eyes are awed as they scan me, leaving a searing path to be soothed with a gently stroking hand. A satisfied grin quirks the corner of her full lips as she says, “You came, Bette… really came… there was so much… it was… mind-blowing…” Her eyes meet mine and they’re so full of lust and wonder that I feel a hunger well up in my mouth and cause the buds of my tongue to bristle.
I grab the back of her head and pull her lips to mine, sucking her velvet tongue into my mouth and swirling my own against it. She moans against me, but it’s just not enough to satiate me. I release her face and watch her tremble with need, her breasts swaying with heaving breath. I feel her yearning, I see it; it’s painfully extreme and I crave to meet it. I let the primal ache to taste her wash over my countenance as I demand. “Stand up.” Her body is weak with desire and she gazes into my eyes pleadingly for a moment before staggering to her feet on the mattress. I pull myself up at a slight angle, supporting my back against the pillows along the headboard.
I hold my hands out to her and she comes closer to take them. I don’t mean to be rough, but I need her and I can see her need for me running down the inside of her pale thighs. I pull her forward and raise her hands, placing them on the wall above the headboard where she braces herself. She meets my gaze and my mouth waters again. “Bette, are you sure…?”
I run my fingers up the length of the inside of her leg, collecting the spilled passion to bring it to my mouth and devour it. She closes her eyes and I watch entranced as more gushes out of her opening, further readying herself for me. Something in me, some primal part of me, is taking over, and I wouldn’t dare stop it if I could.
I grab her nearest ankle and guide it over me, settling it on the other side, and gaze up at the open, engorged flesh of her coral colored sex. She’s so ready the tip of her clit is fully exposed. I don’t hesitate to reach my hands up behind her, forcefully grab the firm globes of her ass, and guide her down onto my waiting mouth.
Her knees settle on the pillows on either side of my face and I watch enraptured as she cries out, grips the headboard, and throws her head back with the initial contact. This angle allows me to push my tongue deep inside her opening, the silken walls clamping down on me in ready anticipation. Her hips start to move as I drink of the sweet and salty musk that pours from her, alternating between her insides and the tip of her. She’s close, I can tell. Her breasts are expanding with her ribs, there’s a flutter of ripples that wash up her abdomen, her shell-pink nipples are hard and pebbled, and her whimpers are increasing with rapid pace, matching the thrust of her hips against my face.
I feel the warm gush of her release pour out of her and run down my chin. I ride it out until her shudders start to lessen and reach up to collect it on my fingers before thrusting them inside of her. I curl them upwards and rub the soft pads of my fingertips over the roof of her walls quickly. There’s a rigid moment of hesitation before she crashes into another release that leaves her draped against the headboard, gripping it desperately to remain upright.
My tongue strokes her soothingly, taking every last glorious drop of her in before her strength returns and she’s able to feebly pull herself off of me. She helps me settle on my side and wedge the pillow beneath our babies before curling up against us and kissing the valley between my breasts where her head settles. She runs her hand over me, settling it onto the dip of my hip and sighs as she finally comes back out of the dense fog of her release. Her voice is tender and filled with emotion as she declares, “I love you… so much…”
I tangle my fingers in her golden tresses and kiss the crown of her head, breathing deeply of her calming, lavender scent as I say, “I love you, T… more than I could ever tell you…” She kisses the space between my breasts again and we both sigh contentedly as we surrender to restful sleep.