"No Place Like It"

Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me; I'm just borrowing them for a short period of time.
Show: Once and Again
Pairing: Jessie/Katie
Rating: PG
Author: Janine
Synopsis: Sequel to "About a Girl"
Email: jbslayer27@yahoo.com

| Ch 1-5 | Ch 6-10 | Ch 11-15 | Ch 16-20 | Ch 21-End |


Part 1

2002 – Evanston, Illinois


"Oh my god," Jessie breathed out as she stepped closer to the canvas, her nose mere centimeters away from the surface. "This is amazing," she continued turning around to face Katie who was standing off to the side, bouncing about nervously.

"So it doesn’t suck complete ass?" Katie asked bouncing on the balls of her feet, and tipping her head from side to side.

"It’s no where near ass. It’s so far away from ass that ass needs a telescope to see its outline," Jessie replied walking over to her girlfriend and wrapping her arms around her waist, squeezing reassuringly. "You should totally send it in," she continued resting her head on Katie’s shoulder.

"I don’t know," Katie said dropping her head down.

"I do," Jessie returned, unwrapping herself from around Katie’s back so that she could move around to face her. "So just shut up and do what I tell you to," she continued before leaning forward and bringing their lips together.

"I love it when you get all authoritative," Katie replied smiling lecherously a moment later when they pulled apart. Even though what she had said was a joke, she was really the kind of girl that needed someone to keep an eye on them. Before she met Jessie, she’d always found herself in some kind of trouble or the other. Lord help her, she just didn’t have that filter in her brain that told her when to be quiet or when to not do something. Jessie wasn’t only her better half she was her sane and sensible half too.

"Be quiet," Jessie replied turning her attention back to Katie’s painting. When Katie looked at her like that, it made her want to do things that they most definitely couldn’t do in Katie’s basement with her parents upstairs.

"Why? Have I been naughty?" the dirty blonde asked still wearing the same expression as before when Jessie turned back to face her.

"Yes, and if you don’t shut up I’m going to have to punish you," Jessie replied waving a dangerous finger in her face.

"That could be fun," Katie said thoughtfully, wondering if Karen was out on another date so that they could ‘date’ a little themselves in her empty house.

"Not if it’s coming to scrabble night at the Manning house," Jessie responded with a smirk.

"Right," Katie said turning her attention back to the painting in front of them. Suddenly she didn’t want to be bad anymore. "So I’ll add it to the portfolio then," she continued serious once more as she stared at one of the pieces of artwork that could possibly change her life.

"They’ll love it," Jessie said reassuringly, sensing her girlfriend’s anxiety and wanting to sooth it.

"Hmmm," Katie replied non-committedly. That was what she was afraid of.


Part 2

2014 - Chicago


"The lawyer’s here," Monica said placing a hand on her new boss’s shoulder as she came up behind the preoccupied woman.

"Name?" Katie asked softly, her voice semi-distracted as she continued to stare at the painting in front of her. It was an Urbane, the work of formerly new, and young, talented young artist who had recently died in a tragic rock climbing accident. He had promised the painting to her, back when he was still a nobody – before he was gone and everyone suddenly decided that he was brilliant – and now she was in a battle with the gallery that had supposedly bought all the rights to his work.

"I’m not sure," Monica replied biting her bottom lip. She really should have thought to ask.

"It doesn’t matter," Katie sighed turning around to face her new assistant. "We’ll find out soon enough, won’t we?" she said with a smile small giving the woman a reassuring pat on the back. She was just a kid really, fresh out of college with virtually no experience doing anything, and so far she hadn’t really been of any assistance, but Katie had a feeling about her.

"I’m sorry, I should have," the girl started to say.

"Don’t worry about it," Katie interrupted smiling at the girl warmly. "Come on."


"Sorry to have kept you waiting," Katie said breezing into the lobby of the gallery. Just up ahead of her in front of one of the exhibits she could see a blonde woman in a suit. Her posture seemed familiar, but the woman’s back was too her, and all lawyers tended to blur together to her anyway. "I’m Kathryn Singer the galleries new owner," she continued, "and the first thing I’d like to officially do is thank you for coming on such…" she continued before her face halted in surprise as the woman turned around to face her. "Short notice," she finished, her voice barely a whisper as she stared at the woman in front of her. Jessie.

Jessie blinked rapidly as she tried to get her heartbeat back to non- critical levels. When she’d heard the voice talking to her from across the gallery, she’d thought that it sounded familiar and it had even called up an image in her mind of the girl that a similar voice had belonged to, but she had chalked it up to mental delusion on her part, until the woman had announced her name. Kathryn Singer, Katie Singer. And now she was standing in front of the girl, no woman, they both very much grown now, whom she had once thought she was going to spend the rest of her life with.

"Katie," Jessie responded finally, realizing that she had been silent for far too long as the woman to Katie’s left looked at her inquisitively. Her voice cracked as she uttered the word and felt like wincing, but controlled the urge. "I didn’t know you were back in town," she continued feeling the need to get her mind off of her verbal faux pas before she started to blush.

"I haven’t been," Katie replied, her eyes roaming over Jessie’s face. "Not for long. I only got back two weeks ago and I haven’t had time to inform the grapevine," she continued, her inspection of Jessie continuing down. She looked almost exactly the same as Katie remembered her, slightly older – which only meant that her features had become sharper and more dignified – and she was wearing new, powerful clothes, but other than that, she looked to be the same old Jessie. Expressive blue eyes, just as deep and captivating as ever, same blonde hair tied back into a ponytail, same trim body – fuller than it had been when they first met, but the same size as far as she could tell from the last time they saw each other – and the same luscious, glossy lips promising to brand somebody for life.

"Grapevine moves a lot slower now anyway," Jessie replied, feeling Katie’s eyes on her and shifting uncomfortably, before carrying out her own assessment of the woman in front of her. Katie’s green eyes were still sparkling with the promise of mischief, and her dirty-blonde hair remained it’s natural colour – which was becoming rarer and rarer -- hanging around her shoulders loosely though it was a different style, and slightly shorter than Jessie remembered. She was dressed in a tastefully retro style that oozed simplicity and cool, but without any of the odor of effort that usually accompanied such outfits.

"Only thing that is," Katie responded her eyes flickering to the small black receiver pinned to Jessie’s lapel, the evolution of cell phones. "This is Monica Mason," she said finally drawing her eyes away from Jessie and turning to face her assistant who was watching them and feeling quite out of place.

"Jessie Sammler," Jessie responded automatically smiling and extending her hand to the other woman. "It’s a pleasure to meet you."

"You too Ms. Sammler," Monica replied grasping Jessie’s hand.

"Jessie," she corrected gently. "I imagine we’ll be seeing quite a bit of each other," she continued once again knowing instinctively that Katie was studying her. When they were still together, she’d developed a kind of sixth sense that allowed her to know whenever her girlfriend’s eyes were on her, she could pick Katie out in a crowded room because of it. Apparently sixth senses didn’t just fade with time.

"Would you like to see it?" Katie asked, drawing Jessie’s attention back over to her.

"What?" Jessie asked blinking; Katie’s hands had distracted her. One of them was playing distractedly with a ring she wore on her finger, a ring Jessie recognized because she had given it to her.

"The painting," Katie replied calmly, though her hands stopped fidgeting and she placed her hands behind her back, clasping them together loosely. She knew that Jessie had seen the ring, and it embarrassed her for some reason.

"Ah, yes," Jessie replied looking up into Katie’s face once the woman had placed her hands behind her back, thus ending Jessie’s study of them. "I think so. Yes," she continued bending over slightly to pick up her briefcase.

"This way," Katie said waving grandly in the direction that she had come from minutes before, though it now seemed like much longer than that. "I think that you’ll enjoy it."


Part 3


"No, it’s alright, go ahead," Katie said looking over at her assistant. "We’re almost finished here anyway. Aren’t we?" she said turning her attention to Jessie, who nodded and smiled over at the girl.

"Well, alright," Monica said grateful to actually be going. It had been extremely uncomfortable being around these two for the entire day. Five seconds after Katie had introduced herself, it became apparent to her that they knew each other, but they weren’t acting like any old friends that she knew, which led her to believe that they’d been more than that. Which, understandably would have made it difficult for them to be working together, still it made it uncomfortable for her too and she was glad to be getting out of there. "See you tomorrow then."

Katie merely nodded and watched as she made her way out before returning her gaze to Jessie.

"I think I actually saw smoke coming off of her feet," she commented softly, her eyes on the table top as visions of cartoon characters vanishing behind clouds of smoke washed through her brain.

"She did seem … eager," Jessie agreed her eyes resting on Katie for a moment before dropping back down to the information pad in front of her.

"Usually she doesn’t shut up. Even when you ask her nicely, then tersely, then threaten her pets," Katie said conversationally, unconsciously playing with her ring again. "I think we were making her uncomfortably."

"Really?" Jessie asked still staring at the screen in front of her though she couldn’t actually make anything out. A blur, everything was a blur.

"Yeah," Katie answered letting out an amused sigh. "Of course. I mean we’re making me nervous and I’m one of us," she continued glancing up to look at Jessie once more.

Jessie looked up at the admission, her mouth opening as if to say something, then closing before even a syllable could escape. Instead she sat there, staring back across the table at Katie looking anxious and uncomfortable.

"I probably shouldn’t say this," Katie continued sighing softly, when Jessie didn’t respond. "God knows it’ll just make things more uncomfortable, but … it’s good to see you," she said. "Really good to see you. I didn’t even … I mean I knew that I missed you, but I didn’t realize how much until I saw you there and everything that I had missed was back," Katie pressed on having seen Jessie open her mouth to speak and wanting to get what she was thinking out before Jessie could interrupt her. "And, I’m just … it’s just … good. To see you."

Jessie remained still for a moment after Katie finished speaking, then slowly extended her hand and pressed a button on her data pad, shutting the instrument off. Her finger lingered on the button for a moment, her eyes intensely focused on the blank screen, and then she picked it up and placed it in her briefcase, which she then carefully closed.

"The case doesn’t seem to difficult, we really shouldn’t have any problem here as long as the information you gave me checks out," she said standing up, picking up her blazer and draping it across her arm. "Especially with the anti-conglomerate tide lately, people are actually starting to actively care about the little guy, if only because they are the little guy," she continued picking up her briefcase. "I’m going to try and track down those names that you gave me, so if you need to reach me you should leave a message with my secretary, because I check in with her every hour or so," she went on nudging the chair in. "So, I’ll see you … later," she finished turning to make her way to the door.

"Jessie," Katie said softly, her chair scraping across the floor noisily as she stood up to intercept the other woman. "Jessie," she said again resting her hand on the blonde’s shoulder to get her stop.

"Please don’t," Jessie said softly her voice cracking perceptively as she turned her head to look at Katie’s hand.

Katie immediately removed her hand from Jessie’s shoulder, but remained in the position close to Jessie’s body that the gesture had allowed. "There’s this place down the street, great nachos and even better margaritas," Katie started. "On me."

"Katie," Jessie said turning her head away and looking at the door across the lobby longingly.

"Just to talk," Katie replied chewing on her bottom lip, her eyes looking pleadingly into Jessie’s. "I swear, I won’t say anything else like," and she waved her hand dismissively to indicate their previous conversation thread, "I just, I mean we were friends. It’s been awhile. I wanna know, about your life," she continued softly. "We used to be able to talk for hours."

"We used to be a lot of things," Jessie replied dropping her eyes away from Katie’s. A decade and those eyes could still reach inside of her and make her heart feel like it was going to melt. She’d spent a lot of time over that decade trying very hard to make sure the consistency of her heart would never be in danger again, and she’d succeeded in protecting it from future assaults. But like most, she found that she was a slave to her past. That she was a willing subject under the command of those eyes.

"Still are some of them," Katie responded stepping back to lean against the doorway.

"Like what?" Jessie asked against her will. She didn’t want to be doing this. She should have left, when Katie stepped back, she should have accepted the movement as an offer to leave and been entering the outdoors.

"Tall, for one," Katie replied smirking when Jessie turned to look at her. The smirk turning into a genuine smile when Jessie reluctantly returned it before dropping her head down and breaking their gaze. "Astounded, for another," she continued softly. "All the time, every time, whenever I’m around you."

Jessie stared at her for a moment as memories of the first time she heard those words painted themselves across her mind. Her hands tentatively running up Katie’s naked torso, Katie’s breathing hitching, and Katie’s hand on her, exploring softly, in wonder. She remembered what Katie smelled like, the exact taste of her skin, and could remember every flutter of the girl’s eyelids as her eyes instinctively closed but she fought to keep them open.

"I thought you said you weren’t going to say anything like that," Jessie replied finally, shaking her head faintly to dislodge the memories.

"I meant it when I said it," Katie responded ruefully. "But I’ve never been in complete control of myself when it comes to you."

"I bet you say that to all the girls," Jessie said looking over at Katie, her voice and eyes completely serious.

"Never could," Katie said softly holding Jessie’s eyes. "Wouldn’t have been true. But I didn’t need to," she continued. She’d been with other women since she and Jessie had split, a fair number of them to be perfectly honest, and even though she had always wanted them to be more, they’d only served as distractions. Something in them had called to her, a movement of their hands, or a phrase, or something that seemed extraordinary about them, that seemed interesting. But they were never as interesting as that moment promised, they were never able to hold her attention, to touch her inside. She’d only ever really given herself to one person, had only ever really known, and in return been known by one person. Jessie. She was ready to be found again, and to find in return.

"I should go," Jessie said, not really wanting to consider Katie’s statement. She knew, even without being told, simply because she knew Katie, that her former girlfriend wouldn’t have traveled the same path as her. Katie was a people person, she needed people around her, and Jessie knew that that meant that she would have had a constant stream of lovers. Still, she didn’t want to think about it, or what her jealously at hearing it confirmed meant.

"I probably shouldn’t say this, but…" Katie started.

"Then don’t," Jessie said turning to look at her. "Just for once in your life don’t."

"I can’t," Katie replied, the words already tumbling into her mouth.

"What?" Jessie asked already knowing the answer.

"Not," Katie replied. "I meant what I said before. I’ve missed you more than I could ever have imagined. And I know that its been a while, and that we’ve both changed, but I haven’t changed so much that I’m still not completely in awe of you. If I’d had my way back then, we never would have broken up…"

"I…" Jessie started defensively.

"I know. We were young and life chose for us," Katie replied halting Jessie’s defense. She’d long since stopped cursing herself, and the world, and Jessie and anyone else she could think of for what happened between them. "But we’re not kids anymore, we can decide for ourselves now and if you’ll let me, I chose to know you again."

"I can’t keep doing this," Jessie said, no longer able to hold back the tears that she had been fighting all day.

"I don’t want you to," Katie said reaching out for Jessie one more time, one of her hands going to her shoulder and the other underneath her chin to tilt it back up. "Just one more time. One last time."

Jessie sniffed, turning her head out of Katie’s hand and took a step back putting some space between them. It went without saying that she had missed Katie too; she’d spent the majority of her entire adult life trying not to miss Katie. After they broke up, she had shut herself off from everyone, concentrating on school and on preparing for her future, and it had eased the pain somewhat, enough to allow her to enter the real world every once in a while. And she’d met men and women on those forays, been with others, but all everyone else ever made her feel was loss. She’d gotten used to the feeling, to having an empty space in her that used to be filled with Katie. It had become a familiar void, one that she had stopped noticing years ago. But now she felt it again, she felt it filling up, and it scared her. She didn’t want to fall back in love with this woman.

"So," Jessie said finally glancing over at Katie who was watching her closely. "What’s this nacho and margarita place called?" she asked, straightening her back. I didn’t really matter what she wanted, she hadn’t had a choice the first time, and she wasn’t deluded enough to think that she did now. Love would have its way, and it would burn its bridges when it was done, that was the way it worked.

"Stan’s," Katie replied smiling as Jessie rolled her eyes.

"Figures," Jessie responded smiling as she shook her head. "So are we going, or do you want me to message you an invitation?" she continued cheekily quirking an eyebrow at the other woman. She remembered this game, she had missed this game.

"Meow," Katie said making a claw out of her hand and waving it in front of Jessie’s face playfully as she grinned at the blonde. "After you," she said nodding towards the door.

"You’re the one that knows where it is," Jessie replied stepping through the doorway and heading into the lobby nonetheless. "You should lead."

"You just want the muggers to get me first," Katie said joining Jessie in the lobby. Jessie looked over at her and smiled.

"Well, this is a new suit."


Part 4


"Well?" Katie asked expectantly, resting her elbows on the table and leaning forward.

"Ok, it’s the best goddamn margarita I’ve ever tasted," Jessie responded as she set the glass back down on the table. "Are you happy now?" she asked looking down at her hands as she played with the little umbrella.

"Actually I am," Katie replied leaning against the back of the booth. "So ‘Fox and Hayworth’ that’s pretty impressive," she continued watching as Jessie licked the side of her glass and took another sip, thinking that it was perhaps the luckiest glass in the entire history of mankind.

Jessie looked over at her and smiled. ‘Fox and Hayworth’ was a law firm that had been run by relative nobody’s when she had graduated from high school, but was on it’s way to becoming one of the most prestigious law firms in the state by the time she graduated from Law school. It still actually amazed her that she had actually been brought on with the insane competition that she had been up against, but she’d done well by the firm since being hired and she finally just accepted that one of the partners must have seen something in her that she hadn’t known was there.

"Being represented by ‘Fox and Hayworth’ is pretty impressive," was how she responded however.

"I know Fox," Katie replied running a hand through her hair, smiling slightly at the thought.

"Dillon?" Jessie asked, wondering how Katie would’ve met the other woman. Dillon was owner Nathan Fox’s daughter, tall, and beautiful with smooth skin that had been kissed by the sun. She’d met Dillon for the first time in the waiting room when she was waiting for her interview. The woman had been sprawled across three chairs lounging like a goddess and must have felt Jessie’s eyes on her because she looked over at her and smiled. They’d talked until Jessie was called into the interview room, and since that day they’d seen each other socially on occasion, whether they were dates or not Jessie wasn’t sure, and didn’t really care. Still, she almost feared finding out how well Dillon and Katie knew each other, especially since she was aware that the firm was handling the case pro-bono, so it was obviously a favor.

"Yeah," Katie replied trying to decipher Jessie’s expression and failing miserably. "She’s a fan," she continued absently wondering if Jessie knew, as opposed to knew of, Dillon.

Jessie quirked a surprised eyebrow at her wondering what kind of description that was.

"Of my work," Katie continued seeing Jessie’s look. "My art work," she clarified realizing what the other woman must have been thinking. "She was at my show in Madrid sometime last century," she went on feeling the need to assure Jessie that nothing had gone on between her and Dillon. The last thing that she needed what Jessie thinking that she’d slept with her boss’s daughter. "We hung out together for a few days after she introduced herself. Somehow her dad’s business had come up, so when I suddenly found myself in need of a lawyer I decided to give her a call."

"You must have made quite an impression," Jessie replied taking another sip from her drink as she watched Katie play with her empty glass. "I usually go for a minimum of $150 an hour."

"I guess so," Katie replied watching Jessie closely. "It’s a good thing I’m so charming then, because I never would’ve been able to afford you," she went on lightly.

Jessie looked over at her suddenly and grinned. "I couldn’t afford me," she muttered shaking her head amusedly. "So you had a show in Madrid?"

"Last century," Katie confirmed, causing Jessie to look at her inquisitively. "’06, seems like last century. Lucky for me Dillon’s a jet setter or else we may never have had the opportunity to meet again," she went on seriously.

"What do you mean?" Jessie asked curiously. There was something behind Katie’s eyes as she spoke, a story that she wanted to hear, that she had missed out on hearing years ago.

"The Madrid show was my last," Katie said leaning back, her fingers drumming on the tabletop. "You never did get to see one did you?" she asked thinking back, trying to remember if they had still been together for her first show. She didn’t think they had.

"No," Jessie replied, her gaze wondering around the restaurant.

"Yeah, that’s right," Katie responded as she remembered. Jessie had been her inspiration for the work that was displayed for her first show, her motivating impetus. But by the time everything had been arranged and the work was actually to be put on display, she and Jessie had became a ‘was’.

"Maybe next time," Jessie offered, her eyes back on Katie watching her shadowed expression. Katie was always so beautiful when she was serious, when she was lost in thought, but it was a sad beauty and while Jessie had always loved to look at her when she was like that, she’d also wished to never see it each and every time.

Katie laughed softly, her eyes drifting up to catch Jessie’s. "There’s no next time. I’m a two hit wonder," she said softly. "And I learned from the pop explosion of our youth, that it’s better to retire on top."

"You don’t paint anymore?" Jessie asked surprised, stunned really. Next to herself, painting had been Katie’s one real passion in high school, and the idea that she didn’t do it anymore saddened her more than she knew how to express.

"No, not a lot," Katie admitted. "Not for show."

"Why?" Jessie pressed, knowing from Katie’s brief replies that she’d rather have shifted the topic to something else, but knowing that whatever it was Katie wasn’t saying was important simply because she didn’t want to say it.

"I guess I ran out of things to say," Katie said flatly as she raised her arm to call the waiter over.

"I find that hard to believe," Jessie said as the waiter picked up Katie’s empty glasses and headed back to the bar. "I’ve never met anybody with more to say … except for Grace."

Katie looked over, smirking at the mention of Jessie’s stepsister. She considered answering the other part of Jessie’s statement, but decided against it. This wasn’t something that she wanted to get into tonight, it wasn’t really something that was worth getting into at all.

"How is Grace?" she hedged, her left hand back to playing with the ring on her right.

"Extremely pregnant," Jessie replied smiling at the memory of her stepsister waddling into the room a week ago. "She was wearing red and I made the mistake of going ‘hey hey Kool-Aid’. She was not amused. She was however, surprisingly spry."

"Hey, hey Kool-Aid?" Katie asked breaking out laughing as an image of the Kool-Aid man with Grace’s head attached to the top of his body appeared in her head. "What were you thinking? Pregnant women are insane, it’s common knowledge that the hormones induce serious psychotic tendencies in addition to glowing."

"Tell me about it," Jessie said rubbing her arm unconsciously. It was not a mistake she was going to make again.

"When Jason’s wife was pregnant, I commented on her muumuu and she kicked me. It left a scar, and I’m not just talking emotionally," Katie replied shaking her head at the memory.

Jessie knew from conversations they’d had in high school that Jason was Katie’s second oldest brother. She had three of them, all older than her, but Jessie hadn’t gotten a chance to know them as well as Katie knew Grace, Eli and Zoë, because they had all moved out in some form another by the time they’d started going out.

"So, ah, how did that happen anyway?" Katie asked as the waiter dumped a Mexican Mudslide in front of her before scurrying off once more.

"Surely you don’t need a diagram?" Jessie replied, knowing that’s not what Katie was talking about, but wanting to bother her nonetheless.

"No," Katie said playing with her straw. "I may not be familiar with the specifics myself, but I have HBO," she continued smiling over at Jessie. "I meant Grace and Eli."

"Nobody knows, time?" Jessie replied shaking her head thinking about her brother and stepsisters relationship. "Before the whole Dimitri drama she’d been flirting with him, usually with me sitting in between them getting new material for therapy," Jessie added darkly. "But once Dimitri left, I didn’t really notice anything going on between them anymore. Though I was distracted at the time, so maybe that’s not saying much," she continued sharing a soft look with Katie before continuing. "I’m convinced it happened when they decided to live together after Grace’s second year, to ah, save on costs," Jessie said winking.

"That’s wild," Katie replied shaking her head. "I couldn’t believe it when Tad told me. Ever the jackass, he called me up yelling ‘Grace Manning is doing her brother’. I nearly passed out … of course that was because as a result of the static I heard had ‘mother’," she went on raising her straw to her lips, lowering the drink to avoid choking when she started to laugh at the face Jessie made.

"Mind boggling as it may be, I think they’ve turned out to be good for each other," Jessie replied, choosing not to dwell on Katie’s last statement. That was just not a place she wanted to go, even in jest.

"Hmmm," Katie replied thoughtfully. "Never can tell with love."

"So are you going to tell me or not," Jessie asked wanting to keep their conversation as far away from discussions of love as possible.

"Tell you what?" Katie asked thoroughly confused.

"Why you stopped painting?" Jessie replied, placing her little umbrella into her now empty glass.

"Some peoples stars are only meant to burn temporarily," Katie responded with a sigh, leaning against the back of the booth wearily. "I stopped being able to do what I had done before, and I chose to have what I had accomplished when I was able to do it remembered instead of dying a slow, critically panned death," she continued. Her first show had been hailed in Europe for the intensity of the emotion that lay behind every stroke, in conjunction with the innocence the works exuded, sometimes playful, sometimes heartbreakingly raw, and sometimes hauntingly pure. And the Madrid show had been hailed for the intensity of emotion too, only this time the critics had been impressed with the darkness and desperation of the works. The heartbreaking bitterness and desolation of it had drawn them in and captivated them with its scarred beauty. It came from a place of pure, unadulterated pain and the contrast between the two shows had given her a reputation of being complex and enigmatic, her consequent retirement only adding to it. In the art world she became pitied and revered.

"That’s … perfectly reasonable," Jessie said in response, knowing that there was more to it than that, but deciding to leave Katie in peace for the moment. Whatever it was the other woman was thinking she didn’t want Jessie to know, and Jessie would respect that because there were certain things she knew that she wouldn’t want to tell Katie about herself yet either.

"Karen must be happy," Katie commented a few minutes later, once the silence they had lapsed into began to become oppressive. "To have her little girl following in her footsteps," she continued trailing her finger down the side of her glass restlessly.

"She says I should have become a teacher," Jessie replied smiling at the memory of her mother’s reaction to the news that she wanted to go to law school. "She said she hated the thought of me becoming horribly dry and boring like everyone that she worked with."

"I miss your mom," Katie responded smiling softly at Jessie’s response. She could picture Karen saying that, could almost see the teasing smile on her face.

"Is there anybody you don’t miss?" Jessie asked, smiling at Katie as she asked to let the other woman know she was only joking around.

"Sarah," Katie responded seriously, earning a grin from Jessie. "And every guy on the football, basketball and baseball team who made a comment about your ass."

"I thought you were still friends with Tad," Jessie commented teasingly.

"Yes, but I accepted the fact that he was an obtuse idiot sometime in third grade, so I can’t really complain about him with a clear conscious," Katie replied blinking rapidly, before bringing a hand up to rub at her eyes tiredly.

"I think that’s our cue for the check," Jessie commented watching Katie and fighting back the urge to follow her lead by distracting herself with waving for the waiter. Glancing at her watch she saw that they had been there for over three hours, even though it felt as if they had just arrived.

Katie opened her mouth as if to protest, but then closed it again realizing Jessie was right. "Thank god one of us has a voice that’s at least partly composed of reason," she said finally, snatching the bill away from Jessie who had reached out to look at it.

"You know I didn’t come here tonight to scam free drinks," Jessie commented upon having the bill ripped out of her hands.

"Why did you come here tonight?" Katie asked curiously as she reached into her purse. She spewed out her reasons for wanting to come hours ago, but Jessie had remained quiet on the subject.

"Because I missed you too," Jessie responded simply.

Katie looked up at her and smiled. "Are you going to give me the number for your phone, or do I really have to talk to your secretary?" she asked as the waiter picked up the bill and they stood to leave.

"Thanks for the … lovely evening," Jessie said heading towards the door. "And please, drive carefully."

"I’ll give you a ride, a careful ride," Katie replied, placing her feet together and touching her nose with the tip of her finger.

"Maybe some other time," Jessie responded not quiet ready to deal with having to deal with Katie at her doorstep. "I’ll call you tomorrow."

And with that Katie watched Jessie disappear through the clear doorway then reached down for her keys, a lazy smile spreading across her face. The day had turned out better than she had expected, and the rest of the week wasn’t looking so bad either.


Part 5

2002 – Evanston, Illinois


Katie sighed deeply, rolling her head to the side and letting it hang there limply for a few seconds before mustering up the energy to straighten her neck up again. She was still for a moment longer, and then she brought her right hand up to face and rubbed at her eyes wearily, sighing once again.

"It’s not like I’m dying," she said softly turning to face Jessie. "I wouldn’t have…I didn’t…they’re making me go," she continued dropping her head back down.

"I know," Jessie said drawing her legs up and wrapping her arms around them, squeezing them into her body protectively. "It just feels like…"

"I know," Katie interjected restlessly, uncurling her long limbs and standing up. "I know, I know, I know," she repeated touchily jumping up and down on the spot. "I know," she finished moving to sit back down beside Jessie.

Jessie looked over at her, not at all surprised by her girlfriends outburst. Katie had a tendency to just spontaneously erupt into motion whenever she was forced to stay still for too long, like the enormous amounts of energy that her body produced just had to vent a little or she’d go crazy. Usually it manifested itself, in dance moves – like that day they had waltzed through the hallways—or humorous kung fu demonstrations, and other times like just now Jessie wished she had a foam bat that she could give to her so that she could really let off some steam.

"It’s just going to be different, that’s all," Katie said finally, her eyes drifting over to Jessie.

"I know," Jessie murmured, her chin still resting on her knees as her eyes scanned the darkness of the Manning backyard. "Different," she continued softly, her eyes closing. She didn’t want things to be different she liked things the way there were. Whenever something ‘different’ had ever occurred in her life, it was always a bad ‘different’. It was just a more pleasant way of being told that you could kiss the things you liked goodbye.

Katie turned her head away from Jessie and tipped it up looking at the stars above, inhaling deeply. She didn’t want this anymore than Jessie did. She liked things the way they were, and if she gotten to choose she would’ve kept things the way they were, but she didn’t get to choose. She had told her parents that she didn’t want to apply to schools out of state, let alone out of the country, but it had been a family tradition to attend university in the United Kingdom. Her fathers side of the family had come from there, and been born and breed there, and her brothers had all gone, at least for their undergraduate degrees. So, once St. Andrew’s had accepted her, there was no chance of her not going unless she wanted to be disowned and end up living in a box somewhere downtown.

"I’m sorry," Jessie said a moment later drawing Katie’s attention back over to her.

"For what?" Katie asked curiously wondering if she had missed part of Jessie’s statement.

"I know I’m being an ass about this," she replied knowing that being sullen and feeling sorry for herself wasn’t helping the situation any.

"You’re not being an ass," Katie said reaching over and taking her hand, squeezing it lightly. "But even if you were you wouldn’t have to apologize for it," she continued dropping her eyes. "I know this sucks, I know that."

"I just," Jessie started shifting closer to Katie. "I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like not being able to see you everyday, or call you whenever I want, or run over to your house on ‘pie night’ to avoid becoming ‘crinkly crust’ girl," she continued resting her head on Katie’s shoulder as the dirty blonde wrapped an arm around her waist.

"I know," Katie responded simply, rather at a loss as to what else she could say. She would miss seeing Jessie everyday too, and calling and being called whenever the whim hit them. She’d miss having Jessie run over to her house to escape whatever obtuse torture was being inflicted upon her at her homes, and she’d miss getting to hang out with Jessie’s families since they’d become like an extension of her own. She was over at the Manning house so much that she literally had a chair with her name on it, and at Karen’s house there was a cupboard that the woman had stocked with all the foods Katie liked for when she came over. This was her life, and she didn’t want to leave it.

Jessie shifted in Katie’s arms, moving around until she was kneeling in front of her girlfriend, and then reached down and picked up Katie’s hands holding them in hers tightly.

"I need to be with you," she said softly, her eyes never leaving Katie’s.

"Your parents are home," Katie said her eyes flickering towards the house momentarily before returning to Jessie’s.

Jessie was silent for a moment as she considered the truth of Katie’s statement, her eyes clouding over as she thought before they finally cleared as she focused on Katie once more. "You brought your car didn’t you?"

"Yeah," Katie responded slowly, her mind taking a second to catch onto what Jessie was suggesting. "You’re not serious?" she continued smiling as she looked at Jessie’s twinkling eyes.

"Yes," Jessie responded leaning forward so that her mouth was right next to Katie’s ear. "I am."

"Do you want to drive somewhere or … " Katie started to ask as Jessie stood up offering her hand to her.

"Take to long," Jessie replied simply holding onto Katie’s hand and leading them over to the side of the garage where Katie had parked.

"Ok," Katie agreed smiling, more than happy to let Jessie led the way. "But I get to be Kate Winslet."

Comments? Yes please, pretty, pretty please :) jbslayer27@yahoo.com

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