All or Nothing



Disclaimers: Please be gentle with me as this is my first posted work. All the characters belong to me and me alone. Copyright 1997, 1999. Love/Sex/Language: This is an uber alternative fiction story. It depicts a loving relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under the age of 18 or live in an ignorant state wherein this may in any manner be illegal, please move on. There is bad language that may offend some, but given what is on tv/cable these days, it's probably tame. There's also drinking of alcohol and a tad bit of angst. Feed The Bard: Please let me know if you like my work!

The piercing shrill of the ringing phone reverberated through Alex's hung over head, snapping her out of her deep sleep. "Hello," she answered groggily, fumbling with the phone.

"Are you alive or do I have to call the police?" Ginny asked, a little too perkily for Alex's current state.

"Go to hell," Alex growled in response to her friend's energy.

"My, I guess we're feeling well today. Are you just getting up or are you otherwise occupied?"

"You woke me up. Stacy called awhile ago and I told her I'd call her later. I went back to sleep. I'm alone and feel like shit."

"Well, I told Izzy what happened and she told me I had to atone for my sins and bring you breakfast. Coffee and bagels?"

"The coffee part sounds good, but food doesn't." Alex noted her queasy stomach as she sat up.

"Bagels it is. We'll be over in about 20 minutes. Be presentable and have the coffee ready." Ginny hung up the phone before Alex could protest. Alex placed the phone back onto the receiver and slowly dragged herself out of bed, putting on her robe. When she walked into the kitchen, she went directly to the cabinet where she kept her medicines and pulled out the aspirin, immediately throwing two down her throat as she quickly filled a glass of water to wash them down.

* * *

Ginny and Izzy arrived as promised with a half dozen bagels, cream cheese and orange juice. The three sat in the kitchen, talking as they ate their breakfast.

"Al, I'm sorry about selling you last night. I hope you're not upset at me. I was drunk and didn't exercise my better judgement. Joan ended up driving me

home and crashed in the guest room." She looked at Izzy to see if she satisfied her promise to apologize to her lover's satisfaction.

"I still haven't gotten over the dollar part. I mean, I didn't mind Chris giving me a ride home, but at least you could've asked for more money. I felt so cheap." Alex teased with mock disdain.

"She's paid hell for it Alex, trust me," Izzy interjected. "She was there to make sure you were ok and she ended up getting shitfaced. I filled her with aspirin and vitamins before she went to bed and after she woke up, so she somewhat resembles a human being now. I just wish I could say the same for you. Look at those dark circles and bloodshot eyes," she teased.

"I probably look better than I feel. I only got about six hours of sleep, until Ms. Thing here rudely interrupted my slumber and insisted I get up."

"And what did you do until four or five this morning?" Ginny asked with raised eyebrows.

"We closed the bar, she drove me home and then came in to talk and stuff. It was harmless." Alex tried to downplay the events as she got up to get the pot of coffee to refill their cups.

"Stuff?" Izzy asked, "What kind of 'stuff'?"

"Nothing really. I stayed fully clothed and we just sat and talked and kinda kissed."

"Kissed? Kinda?" Her two friends asked in unison, shocked from Alex's confession.

"What is this? Stereo? Yes we kissed. What are you two, my mothers?"

"I'm sorry Alex. Just a bit surprised, that's all. What about Stacy?" Izzy asked innocently.

"Why is everyone asking me that? I'm not married. I care about Stacy, but I told her from day one that I didn't want to settle down. Anyway, I didn't sleep with Chris!" she responded defensively.

"Al, I've been thinking about this since last night. You're my friend, but Stacy is too. I think I can tell you without breaking any confidences that she is crazy about you and isn't seeing anyone else that I know of," Ginny offered with concern.

"I know Gin, and until now, I really didn't want to see anyone else either, as if I had time to. But I don't think I'm ready to date one person exclusively. I've spent too much time by myself to narrow my alternatives. I do care for Stacy, but I'm not in love with her. I guess my attraction to Chris is evidence of that. I didn't plan, let alone expect anything like this to happen. It just did." Alex tried to explain.

"Al, you know me, I'm the last person to butt into your life, I leave that for Ginny, but at least be honest with Stacy and this other woman, or whomever," Izzy advised.

"Thanks Izzy. I haven't even decided if I'm going to date Chris. I was so bombed last night that it could've been just that, I don't know. But I did tell her

about Stacy, so I have been honest. If I decide anything else, don't worry, I'll talk to Stacy," Alex promised.

Ginny and Izzy left about an hour later, leaving Alex to herself. She finally took a shower, noticing her phone machine blinking as she came back into the living room. Replaying the message, she heard Stacy's voice asking if she had a good time the night before and for Alex to call her when she got back in.

Pulling on her clothes, Alex thought about the new complication in her life and Izzy's words of advice. She honestly believed the things she told both Chris and Izzy. She did care for Stacy. Although they had taken the physical intimacy aspects of their relationship slowly, their romance was instant. What little free time she had in the last six weeks, she spent the majority of it with Stacy. 'But was that enough?' she wondered.

When she decided to rejoin the human race, she envisioned herself dating a number of women, not just one. And then there was Chris, a woman whom she really didn't know anything about, other than drunken physical attraction.

What little time they spent together was hardly enough to even base an affair on. But she couldn't shake the feeling of excitement she felt the night before. Not just the physical, but the excitement of someone finding her attractive and pursuing. The pure flattery and the adrenaline rush she felt just thinking about it.

She heard the phone ring, distracting her from her thoughts. Picking up the receiver, she heard Chris' voice.

"How are you feeling this afternoon?"

"I've definitely felt better. Ginny and her lover called and woke me up about 11:00 to tell me they were bringing breakfast by. I'm seriously considering a bit of the hair of the dog. How about you? I take it you made it home all right."

"No problem. I was just tired. I didn't get up until about noon, and have just been puttering around since then."

The two spoke for a while about their jobs, interests and friends. Chris said something about her friend Michelle that caused Alex to question further. "How did you meet Michelle?"

"In high school. We were acquaintances and then we both took some college courses together. Neither of us graduated, but we became inseparable friends."

"When did you find out she was a lesbian?"

There was a long pause before Chris answered. "Well, I guess it was when we became lovers."

"Really? How long were the two of you together?"

"On and off for five years. Neither of us 'came out' during that time. She came out about two years ago and I guess I'm just now getting around to it."

Alex's curiosity began to increase and her warning bell went off. The few clues she could remember from the evening before began to fall into place. "How's that?"

"I was going to mention this last night, but you're such a good kisser that I got distracted." Alex could visualize the smile on Chris' face as she said the words. "Well you are. Impressed the hell out of me. Anyhow, you asked me a question which I don't seem to be evading very well."

"No, you're not. But thank you. You're a pretty good kisser yourself."

"Thanks, but back to your question. I'm . . . I'm still married to my husband. We lived together for about four years and we've been married for the last two. I knew it was a mistake to marry him because of my relationship with Michelle and my feelings for women. I guess I just couldn't admit that I was a lesbian until the last few months."

Alex was surprised. That was the last thing that she had expected Chris to say. "Are you still living with him?" she asked cautiously.

"Unfortunately. Economically things have been a little tight for both of us, but I've been looking for a place in town and hope to be out by the beginning of the month. Do you not want anything to do with me now?" she asked apprehensively.

"No, that's not it at all. You just surprised me. If you don't mind me asking, but does he know?"

"Yeh, I didn't think it was fair not to tell him. He's handling it okay so far. Things haven't been right for a while, so he knew something was wrong, but he thought it was another man, not a woman. We've been trying to cohabitate peacefully by avoiding one another. But we are still good friends, so we try to spend one night a week together."

"That's good, but I imagine it would be difficult," Alex sympathized. "Has there been anyone else other than Michelle?"

"I've had a couple brief affairs with women over the years, but nothing major. Does that bother you that I'm just coming out and am still married?"

Alex lit a cigarette and exhaled. "Just surprised."

"Are you still willing to see me again?"


"When?" Chris tested.

"How about Friday night? I'm busy until then."

"Fine. I'll call you early in the week and we'll make plans then."

Chris gave Alex her phone number and they agreed to speak again on Wednesday. Hanging up the phone, Alex glanced at the clock which read 3:30. She realized she better call Stacy before it got too late. As she dialed the number she felt twinges of guilt but didn't understand why. She heard the phone ring four times before the answering machine picked up. She left a message apologizing for not calling sooner and asking Stacy to call her.

* * *

By 12:30 Stacy was surprised that she had not yet heard from Alex. She knew that Alex had probably slept in and was suffering from a hell of a hangover. Concerned, she called Alex's and left a message on her machine. She next called Ginny, but only got their machine as well.

To pass time, Stacy finished cleaning her house and doing yard work, trying to put Alex out of her mind. But it was hard. She thought of the past six weeks while she had dated Alex and smiled. She truly loved Alex and thoroughly enjoyed the time they spent together. But deep down, her greatest fear gnawed at her insides, the fear that the feeling wasn't mutual.

Still not having heard from Alex by 3:00, she figured she better go do her errands and grocery shopping before it got too late. When she returned home and put her groceries away, she played her messages and smiled as she listened to Alex's apology.

"So you're still alive," Stacy teased after Alex answered the phone.

"I'm sorry I didn't call sooner. I was in the shower when you called. Before I could call you back, a friend of mine called."

"At least you're still alive. Have you been functioning today?"

"Barely. Ginny and Izzy woke me up and came over with bagels. I just opened a beer and as disgusting as it sounds to me to drink it, I figure it's the last resort to feel better."

"Want some company? I just went to the market and can bring over some steaks for dinner if you'd like," Stacy offered.

"Sure. I don't know how good of company I'll be given the way I'm feeling, but it sounds great."

"Good, I'll see you in a little while then."

Stacy arrived a half hour later carrying a grocery bag and a videotape of "Desert Hearts". Putting the bag on the kitchen counter she turned to Alex who was standing beside her and put her arms around Alex, giving her a long passionate kiss.

"Hey there party girl," Stacy greeted, still holding Alex with their faces' inches apart.

"Hi ya. Thanks for bringing everything over. That was really sweet."

"No problem. I figured that you were in no condition for culinary creativity and needed some sustenance other than alcohol," she teased Alex.

"You're right," Alex chuckled emptying the grocery bag. "Dessert too? I don't deserve this!" she noted pulling out a carton of her favorite ice cream. After putting the ice cream in the freezer, she went out onto the back patio to warm up the gas barbecue. Stacy came out a short time later with the steaks and two beers. Alex sat at the table while Stacy took over the barbecue.

"So how did you feel this morning?" Alex asked knowing that she would have to decide how she would explain the events after Stacy's departure the evening before.

"Tired and a bit hung-over. I crashed as soon as I got home. I'm sorry that I couldn't last longer, but I was wiped."

"That's all right. I was five sheets to the wind by the time you left and was working up to ten," Alex said lighting a cigarette.

"You have a good time?"

"Yes. Thank you for the champagne and the party. I can't believe that you or Ginny never let on about it. You're a good secret keeper," Alex smiled. Stacy walked over to her and gently kissed her on the lips.

"You're welcome," Stacy said sitting down next to Alex. "How'd Ginny hold up? She can be a real fish when she wants to."

Alex's heart rate increased and she knew that from that point on that she'd have to choose her words carefully. She didn't understand why it was such a big deal, but thought it was best. "Not well. She lasted a while, but she finally got wiped. Her friend Joan ended up driving her home," looking at Stacy for her reaction, Alex waited for the expected follow-up question.

"That sounds like Ginny," Stacy laughed taking a sip of her beer, "What did you do?"

'Now tis the moment when all brave women get their shit together,' Alex thought to herself. "Well, this is the funny part . . . " Alex started hesitantly. "There was this woman, Chris, who was there by herself and came up and started talking to us. While I was in the bathroom, Ginny told her she was leaving and Chris offered to drive me home. Ginny sold me for a dollar as earnest money that Chris would get me home safely," Alex laughed, trying to remain cool so as not to upset Stacy. "We closed the bar and she drove me home." There, she thought, she told the truth, although not everything.

As Alex explained, Stacy processed the information and didn't know how to react. Although there was a sinking feeling in her stomach, Alex did not give her any indication that she should be concerned. The fact that Alex mentioned the woman and did not try to hide the fact was a good sign as well.

"So what time did you finally crash?" Stacy asked as if the information didn't bother her.

"About 4:00 or so. Chris came in for a drink and we talked for a while. She left and I crashed," Alex tried to explain as innocently as possible, not mentioning the hour or so make out session.

"Uh huh . . . well, I'm glad you had a good time," Stacy said more tersely than she intended. She stood up and stepped to the barbecue and turned the steaks over. She excused herself to go inside to finish preparing dinner.

Cutting the vegetables for the salad, Stacy didn't know what to think. Her mind wandered, snapshots of all the possibilities clicking in and out. She did not have any reason to not trust Alex. She also didn't think that she had given Alex any reason to lie to her. Although she was jealous, she didn't have any known reason to be.

A few minutes later Alex came inside carrying the plate with the cooked steaks. Placing the plate down onto the kitchen table, she walked over to Stacy, placing her arms around her from the rear.

"Hey, are you ok? I thought you were coming back outside," Alex asked, kissing Stacy's neck.

"I'm fine. I was just finishing things in here. Steaks done?" she asked turning away from Alex.

"Yep. Are you sure nothing's wrong?" asked Alex leaning with her back against the kitchen counter, watching Stacy put the salad and baked potatoes onto the table.

"Yes, now come sit. If you grab a fresh beer, grab one for me too, please," Stacy said coolly as she sat at the table. Alex opened the refrigerator door, pulled out two beers and walked back to the table to sit.

"Thanks again for bringing everything over and making dinner. Everything looks and smells great," Alex said opening the two beers.

"Your welcome," Stacy again responded curtly. Pausing a few seconds she could no longer restrain her feelings. She felt like she was teetering over the edge of a precipice, and knew that she needed some form of resolution to feel safe. "I did it because I care for you Alex. You mean a great deal to me."

"I know you do Stacy. I care for you too," she said taking Stacy's hand into her own.

"So much that you went home with a strange woman?" Tears started to form in Stacy's eyes as she looked at Alex.

"I didn't go home with a strange woman. She drove me home and I slept alone. I didn't pick her up Stac. Both Ginny and I were drunk and I needed a ride home."

"Joan could have dropped you off when she drove Ginny home."

"Yeh, she could have, but I didn't want to go home yet. I was having too good of a time drinking myself into oblivion. I did tell you I'd leave when you said you wanted to, remember?" Alex added starting to get defensive, the pounding in her head from her hangover intensifying.

"Yes I do, but you were having a good time and Ginny was to make sure you got home in one piece. I don't think I could've anticipated her selling you to someone! Some friend she is!" Starting to get angry, Stacy pulled her hand away from Alex's.

"Do you think it was planned? Ginny's still apologizing for what happened. What do you want from me?"

Stacy could not respond immediately. She debated with herself, but knew she could only speak the truth of her feelings. "I want . . . I love you Alex. I thought that the last six weeks and our time together has been as special to you as it has been to me. I haven't dated anyone else since I met you, nor do I have any desire to. I guess I want . . . no, I need to know where you stand," she blurted with tears rolling down her face. She picked up her napkin to dry her eyes.

Taking a gulp of her beer Alex quickly thought of the answer which she did not expect she'd be discussing that evening. "I've told you Stacy. I care for you a great deal. You make me happy when I'm around you. But I've told you from the start that I wasn't ready to settle down right away."

"Actions speak louder than words, Counselor," Stacy spit back.

"That they do. I've never intended to mislead you. I thought you understood. I'm not saying I want to go out and date the world, and I haven't. I have only seen you. But I don't think I'm in a mental state where I can look either of us in the eye and honestly say that I will forsake all others and commit to one relationship. I guess I'm confused."

"Confused?! Do you want to see other people Alex? What about this Chris? Or do you just want to keep your options open in case someone better comes along?" Stacy raised her voice in both anger and pain.

"No! It's not like that Stacy! I told you I don't know!" Alex raised her own voice in response.

The two sat in silence, not touching their food, which had already turned cold.

"You know it's funny," Stacy said breaking the silence. "For years it was me breaking women's hearts. Turning away when anyone got too close. I never wanted to get close to anyone. And now, now I'm sitting in their shoes. Now I know how they felt."

"Honey, it's not that I don't want to get close to you. Good God, I've gotten closer to you than anyone else in a very long time. All I'm saying is that I can't say words like 'I do' right now."

"I'm not asking you to do that Alex. Like I told you, I assumed, apparently very stupidly, that you felt the same way I did about not wanting to date other people. We don't have to move in together or get married to have that understanding. But you know what happens when you assume, makes an ass out of you and me." she added bitterly.

"You're right, we don't. But I don't think I can come to that understanding right now."

"So what do you want Alex? Do you even know?"

"I do know I want to keep seeing you Stacy."

"And?" Stacy asked knowing there was more.

"And what?"

"Keep seeing me and being able to date others should you feel the need or desire to?"

"Not in those words, but yes, I guess so," Alex agreed hesitantly, not able to look Stacy in the eyes.

Stacy stood and looked down at Alex with tears streaming down her face. "I don't think I can do that Alex. I believe you when you told me that you didn't sleep with that woman last night. But it's what you haven't told me that hurts. I can justify what you did tell me of your behavior as a result of your state of intoxication. I also believe that you haven't told me everything, because knowing you, you only told me the parts you knew wouldn't hurt me. What I don't think I can stand is not being with you one night when you're out with whomever, and not knowing whether or not it's a date or whether you're sleeping with her. I'm selfish Alex. I've never liked sharing things I love, not as a kid and not now. Maybe when you decide what you want you should give me a call. Let me warn you now, I may not be there." Stacy turned and strode toward the front door, Alex jumped up and ran after her.

"Stacy wait! Come on! We can talk this through!" Alex pleaded catching up with Stacy and grabbing her arm turning her around. Stacy paused and shook off Alex's hand.

"I don't think so Alex, at least not right now. You obviously need some time to figure out what you want and I need some time by myself. I'll talk to you later." Stacy opened the door and stomped out, slamming it behind her. Alex stood staring at the door in disbelief as to what just took place.

Although she expected a minor fall out when she told Stacy what happened the night before, she never expected Stacy to react as she did. She felt as if she'd been cold cocked. Her head pounded and her stomach and heart felt empty, both physically and emotionally. Not knowing what else to do, she put the food away, grabbed her cigarettes and keys and headed out the door to Ginny and Izzy's.

* * *

Stacy threw open her car door, slamming it behind her as she sat in the driver's seat. Turning the key in the ignition, she put the car into reverse, peeling out of the driveway. All she wanted to do was escape. She was numb, hurt and angry. Angry at herself for not being more cautious with what Alex told her in the beginning and not asking Alex how she felt sooner. She was also furious at Alex for not being more honest and forthcoming with her feelings. She drove, around, heading to no place in particular. She realized that she didn't want to go home right away, afraid Alex may call or come over. That was the last thing she wanted at that point in time, to either see or speak to Alex. She grabbed her cell phone and called her friend Carol who agreed to meet her at Paradise for a drink. Driving to the bar she decided that she was going to get disgustingly drunk and cry on her friend's shoulder.

* * *

Izzy opened the front door and saw Alex standing in the doorway crying. "Oh my God, Alex! What happened? Are you all right?" She cried out reaching to put an arm around Alex to lead her inside.

"Stacy came over and we got into it and she took off. I didn't want to sit there by myself so I just came over. I'm sorry for not calling."

"It's ok, we were just sitting for dinner. Come on in and join us," Izzy comforted as she closed the door. "Ginny! Alex is here!" she called out leading Alex toward the kitchen.

"Alex?" Ginny asked peeking her head outside the kitchen door. Seeing her friend in tears she became concerned. "What happened?" she asked looking from Alex to Izzy, who mouthed "lovers' spat". Ginny nodded her head in acknowledgment. "Have you eaten?"

"No, I'm not very hungry."

"C'mon. You're going to eat something. We've got plenty. I'll set a place for you."

Izzy led Alex to the kitchen table, sitting Alex down in a chair. "Want a glass of wine?" Izzy asked. Alex nodded affirmatively and Izzy handed her a full glass sitting on the table. After Ginny put down the silverware and plate in front of Alex, she and Izzy sat and listened to Alex's description of the events of the afternoon. When she finished, Izzy silently fought to hold back the urge to say 'I told you so'.

"So what are you going to do now?" asked Ginny.

"I don't know. I want to talk to her, but given her state when she left I don't think she's going to talk to me."

"She'll cool down, just give her some time," Izzy tried to reassure, "You surprised her. You can't deny that she could easily assume what she did, right?" Alex reluctantly nodded her head in agreement. "She just needs some time to sort things out and so do you. Although she's not naive, she fell hard for you. But, my friend, I don't want you to think that I'm ganging up on you, but Stacy was right. Unless she accepts the possibility, even the probability of you dating others, it ain't gonna work. You are going to have to decide what you want to do first."

"I know, I know. I guess I just want everything. Why do relationships have to be so fucking complicated?" Alex asked rhetorically in frustration.

The three proceeded to eat their dinner with idle chitchat and then watched a movie. Alex left a few hours later, promising that she would call if she needed anything. When she got home, she was still unsettled. She couldn't sit still, nervous energy running through her veins. The only thing she could think of was her need to talk to Stacy. She picked up the phone and dialed Stacy's number. Disappointed when the answering machine picked up, she tried to quickly think of a message to leave. "Stacy, if you're home, please pick up. Well, I guess you're not there or you're not talking to me. Please call me when you get home. I want . . . no need . . . to talk to you. I know you're angry and hurt, but I do care, please believe me. And I do love you in my own quirky way. I never intended or wanted to hurt you. I...please, just call me."

Continued in Chapter 7

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