This is my first The L Word fic ever, so please be nice! I was watching season 5, and there's something about Tina and Bette's relationship that's so amazing I can't even describe... I had to give it a shot and write something. Oh, and I don't own a thing The L Word, or the characters, just the changes I made on the scene!

It starts after the I never game when Jodie and everyone else finds out about them. It's the morning after, really. I watched the scene with Bette crying by herself the next day, and I simply had to do something about it! I hope you guys like it, and let me know what you think, ok?

Oh, and huge thanks to my most bestest friend in the world, Carol (penname Kau), for reading it and always helping me with the characters! She's got an amazing TLW story up, you should check it, it's called Long Live the Love. And I'm proud to be her beta! Now on to the story!


Lead Me Home

Tina lay in her tent after countless attempts to get a decent night of sleep. The thoughts racing through her mind kept her from standing still, and she wasn't sure she'd be able to get up, go outside and face everyone. She'd never planned on hurting Jodie, she'd never planned on lying to her friends, and when she stopped to think of the situation she found herself in, she knew it was wrong. But then again, when it came to Bette, somehow the notions of right and wrong didn't seem to have the same meaning. How could it be so wrong, when every word, every touch, every kiss felt so right? She'd tried to bury it for so long, and for a while she even convinced herself she was over Bette. If she lied to herself, it wasn't because she wanted to stop loving her – deep down she knew she didn't even know how to not love her – but because she needed to protect her heart. She wasn't sure of she'd be able to stand going through all the hell they'd gone through, almost three years ago, not again. But then she started noticing Bette's behavior around her. The way her smile seemed happier and her eyes seemed brighter when she was around Tina. She couldn't help noticing she didn't smile like that when she was with Jodie.

When they kissed, Tina knew she could never love anyone the way she loved Bette. Suddenly it was like nothing else mattered. The time they'd spent apart, the lies, the pain they'd caused each other, Jodie… More than that, it was like nothing else even existed. At that moment, everything was forgotten, and it all seemed simple and clear. Tina couldn't have described it better than Bette did when she said: It doesn't feel like an affair. To me, it feels like I'm coming home. She wished it could be that simple, but they both knew it wasn't.

She knew Alice and Shane wanted to yell at her when they went to talk to her the night before. But it was obvious to them, too, that even though it was wrong because of so many different things, Tina and Bette would never be able to let go and move on from each other.

The sound of rushed footsteps could be heard, distracting Tina from her own thoughts. She carefully sat up and peeked outside, half hoping to see Bette coming on her direction. But what she saw surprised her. Jodie was leaving before anyone else even woke up. She looked more than upset, and Tina couldn't blame her. She knew what the woman was feeling. She could relate to it all too well. For a moment she thought of trying to talk to Jodie, trying to make her understand. The reason she didn't was because the only explanation she could give would end up hurting her even more. After all, she was, and had always been, in love with Bette. And when you're in love, you tend to ignore things that otherwise would keep you from behaving in certain ways. Because those things become less important, at least when you compare them to the way you feel.

Jodie left, and the previous sounds were once again replaced b the suffocating silence. After what it felt like an hour, Tina finally gathered enough courage to leave the safety of her tent. She could hear some mumbling coming from inside some of the other ones, and walked in a faster pace to avoid seeing anyone. And she kept walking for a while, not really caring enough to pay attention as to which way she was going.

It wasn't long till the now comfortable silence was broken by the sound of an almost silent cry. If she didn't recognize the person the sound was coming from, Tina probably would've kept walking. But her heart started beating faster when she saw, not too far from where she now stood, the only person she really wanted to see that morning.

She got closer, quietly, immediately realizing her hands were sweating. It used to be easy being around Bette, and she hated that things were now so complicated and awkward between them. Bette looked so lost as tears poured down her cheeks, Tina's heart broke at the image. She couldn't believe that, even at her worst, at the moments she seemed weaker than ever, Bette could still look so beautiful.

Before she knew what she was doing, Tina got closer and softly touched the crying woman's shoulder. Bette was startled. Until she felt the touch, she hadn't even noticed there was someone else there. When she looked up and saw who it was, her heart, that was already beating fast from the surprise, started racing even faster. They shared a look for a moment, no words were needed as they silently read each other's minds. Tina couldn't help noticing Bette hadn't stopped crying, so she gently touched her cheek and wiped away some of her tears. Bette closed her eyes, wanting to remember, wanting to relive every touch, every moment they'd ever shared.

The memories caused the tears to come more fiercely, and Tina, noticing it, quickly wrapped her arms around Bette as both of them cried. Cried for the mistakes that were made, the chances that were thrown away, the love that seemed to be lost for so long, and the comfort that they now knew they could only find in each other's arms.

"What are we doing?" Tina's voice came out weak. She was still resting her head on the other woman's shoulder, refusing to let go.

"I… we're just…" Bette started, softly pulling away and cupping the blond woman's face with her hands, staring into her eyes. But then she suddenly looked away, sighing hard. "I don't know what we're doing, Tee."

Tina looked up and closed her eyes in frustration. I was like she could never get too far with Bette. Whenever she thought the woman was letting her guard down, she felt herself being pulled away again. But it didn't matter, cause she knew she couldn't let go. She'd tried, over and over, but all it took was a glimpse at her and all her strength was lost. And now, that she looked in Bette's eyes and saw something she never thought she'd see again, now that she saw the love they once shared, holding back and letting go were not options anymore.

"Did you talk to Jodie last night?"

Bette looked back at her, surprised with the question. Then she simply shook her head. "She wanted to be alone."

"She left", Tina said, earning a confused look from the woman standing next to her. "I heard her this morning, before everyone woke up", she explained.

There was silence as one of them processed the new information, and the other one tried to decide whether not Jodie's early departure was a good thing. Bette avoided Tina's gaze for a moment, leaving her uncomfortably standing next to where the brunette was sitting. Finally, she changed her focus and stared at the ocean. She was still afraid. All the things they'd said inside the elevator, she still felt it. She was still afraid of fucking it up, still afraid that things were only this good and natural and easy because they weren't really together, she was still afraid that Bette would push her away the moment things became more difficult. What she wanted was very clear for her. On the other hand, sometimes the things people want the most aren't exactly the right things to do. The right choice can be hidden beneath tears and pain, fooling, tricking someone into thinking something that brings so much sadness can't possibly be the best thing to be done. But sometimes it is. And in that case, as much as she wanted to, Tina couldn't be sure they wouldn't end up hurting each other again.

She was still lost within her thoughts when she felt a gentle touch on her hand. The touch that could ease her mind and make her feel nervous, that could bring her peace and yet stir up all her worries, that could make her feel everything and nothing at the same time. As Bette's hand softly held hers, she allowed herself to turn around to see her smiling. But the smile was full of something she still couldn't quite grasp. Maybe it was sadness, for the things that had happened the previous night, maybe it was fear, maybe even regret. She couldn't tell.

They usually didn't talk about it much. Whenever they were together, their need for each other's touch, for each other's taste seemed to suppress any rational thought that eventually came to their heads. At that point, they needed the physical contact almost as much as they needed the air they breathed. Tina couldn't help noticing those moments were the ones that got her through the hard days and the exhaustion she sometimes felt. Those few moments with Bette made everything easier.

Breathing in the cold morning breeze, Tina was able to smile back, uncertainty visible through her eyes. "So…" she started, looking back at the ocean and sighing harder than she intended, "What happens now? Now that everyone knows?"

"Everyone knows?" Bette looked up, and Tina could feel her eyes fixating on her. Still, she didn't move.

"Shane and Alice came to talk to me yesterday… Jodie obviously knows…"

"And Kit", Bette interrupted her, soon burying her face in her own hands. "Shit…" she whispered, with a sigh, "Things shouldn't have happened this way, everything was supposed to be done the right way this time. No lying, no cheating. I just wanted to do the right thing."

The tone on her voice was what made Tina finally turn her head to face her. And when she did, she saw the honesty behind the words that were spoken. Inspite of herself, and the situation they were in, she smiled. Bette was definitely changed, and she let herself believe that everything was gonna be different this time. Without a word, she took her hands to touch Bette's face, which caused the woman to close her eyes and smile. The simple gesture reassured her she wasn't alone in this. She brought her hands up to meet Tina's, rubbing them softly and placing a light kiss on each of them.

"Come on", Tina said, pulling Bette up so that they were both standing. "We're gonna have to face them at some point, right?" she smiled half heartedly, causing Bette to do the same. But as she did so, the blond noticed how tired her ex was. She knew that, even though this whole thing was hard on her, it was even harder on Bette. And she also knew the woman always reacted to situations like these by being too hard on herself. She wrapped her arms around the brunette and held her as close as possible, hoping that, with the small gesture, she could help take some of the weight off her shoulders.

"I'm such a monster…" her voice caught in her throat as she started sobbing.

"No, you're not. Listen to me…" Tina's voice was pleading, and her eyes were glazing over with tears. "You are a wonderful woman, don't you dare underestimate yourself." She reached for Bette's hands, holding them in hers. Bette focused on her hands, silent tears dribbling down her face. She couldn't say a word. Tina softly wiped Bette's tears and faced her with an encouraging expression. "Ok?" she finished, almost silently.

Bette nodded, but Tina knew she didn't feel any better about herself, and there was nothing she could do about it right now. "Let's just go..."

They started walking, still holding hands, and Tina smiled. Sure, things were a mess, and neither of them was sure they were ready to face what was coming. The pressure from their friends, Jodie's reaction, and even the pressure they were putting on themselves, that this time, things had to work out. She wasn't oblivious to any of this. But as she took another glance at their hands intertwined, she still smiled. This was the first time she could remember that the two of them were together without actually doing anything. In the beginning, she feared that it could be just the desire for each other that kept them from staying away. Physical desire. And whenever they tried to talk, they ended up having sex or kissing, and the subject was lost between their touches. But on that moment, she couldn't deny that what they shared was something so much deeper, more meaningful than that. The desire was nothing but a consequence of their love.

Both of them walked towards the camp, but neither seemed to be in a rush to get there. Holding each other's hands and simply walking together suddenly seemed so right, such a simple and at the same time perfect moment, that it didn't leave room for doubts anymore. They belonged together. Jodie would suffer, some people would judge, some would be there for them, some would need time to accept it. Right now, they didn't care. They allowed themselves to be completely selfish, worrying about no one other than each other. Tina's fears subsided as she felt Bette giving a light squeeze on her hand. A silent promise, sealed with a tender kiss, that they would be ok. A silent confession, clear and obvious to anyone who looked at them, that they were finally home.