Five Years On
Part 1
By Emily L

Title: Five Years On
Emily L.

Rating: PG (very little adult content, some thematic elements)

Het/Gen/Bi: Het

Parts: 1/4

Spoilers: None.

Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me, they belong to Paramount. Don’t sue me - I might cry.
Pairing: LDF/LK, past SF/WM, past SF/CR
I’m keeping my fic on here for now. E-mail me if you have any requests.

Authors Notes: Note the not-so-quiet salute to the Laverne & Shirley Sing album (and MMK!) in the title.

Setting: California
Summary: The long separation between Laverne and Shirley will either make or break their friendship, and it is up to Shirley to decide her own fate.


            For what seemed like the hundredth time within the past hour, Laverne Kosnowski nervously arranged the table setting in her small dining room. She had been expecting her recently divorced, and previous best friend to have already arrived, and she was in between worrying herself over whether her awaited guest was safe and preparing herself for what she had feared most: Shirl backing out again.


            For the past five years, Laverne had only been in contact with Shirley through letters. The occasional post card or picture was thrown into the mix now and then, but other than that, Laverne had almost absolutely no clue as to what her best friend was up to. Shirley's letters assured that she was doing fine, her two sons were fine, and while being an Army wife wasn't exactly easy, it was at least fun and adventurous. Laverne's letters, on the other hand, were full to the brim with details and excitement, but Shirley rarely sent a response. Shirley hadn't been able to make it to Laverne and Lenny's wedding or the birth of her goddaughter Josephine, but Laverne had made sure that she received plenty of photos, announcements, and invitations. By now, Josephine was  four, and Shirley's boy's David and Todd were six and four-and-a-half. Neither Laverne or Shirley ever imagined it would be like this. In their younger days when they spoke of what it would be like when they were married with kids, they always imagined that their children would be best friends, their husbands would play sports while they gossiped, and their lives would be as great as it was in the movies. But it didn't turn out that way. Sure, Laverne was immensely happy with Lenny, and they had fallen head-over-heels in love with their daughter from day one. But the absence of Shirley was never something Laverne had gotten used to, and she frequently worried about how she really was and if she was truly happy. She had tried her hardest to invite Shirley as often as possible, even offering to pay for plane tickets for she and the boys to fly to California while Walter worked in Vietnam. Shirley was too proud to accept her offer, and whenever she was in California for a few days, she argued that she had no time to visit because Walter was on business, and she first and foremost needed to visit her mother. The fact alone that Barb Feeney was suddenly more important that her made Laverne bubble with anger.


            As Laverne moved the place setting around for the umpteenth time, she felt Lenny's warm hands grab her shoulders.


            “Vernie, why don't you give up on that? Shirl's only a little late and she'll be here soon. You're making me nervous movin' around the table like a maniac.”


            She smiled to herself. “Where's Josie?”


            “I just put her down for a nap. C'mon, let's go outside and wait for her,” he said, taking her hand.


            Just as they had comfortably settled in the hammock on the front porch, they saw Shirley's navy blue Cadillac pull into the driveway. Laverne's heart lept in her throat.


            “See - told ya she'd come,” Lenny whispered in her ear.

            As Lenny helped Laverne out of the hammock, Shirley got out of her car. Their eyes met instantly. Laverne didn't know whether to run over to her an make a lame joke about how they hadn't seen each other in so long or to cry. So she opted for both.


            She ran down the stairs and practically knocked Shirley to the ground. She threw her arms around her and began to tear up from the smell of Shirley's shampoo alone. Instead of the warm, happy, tearful greeting she expected from the emotional Shirley Feeney that she once knew, she received a gentle pat on the back and a “Hey, Vernie,” as if they hadn't been apart at all.


            Lenny awkwardly loomed behind his wife, as the hug ended and he was soon on the receiving end of a simple, icy, “hello, Leonard.” As he watched Laverne fidget with her now wrinkled shirt while her friend blotted away the smudged make up on his wife's face, he couldn't understand why Shirley was so calm and put together. It has been five years - five long years that had seemed like an eternity to his wife and caused her to cry herself to sleep many for many nights, and even causing a few marital fights. The fake smile plastered to Shirley's face and the chuckle that emanated from her after Laverne mentioned a few of their letters made him want to be sick. This wasn't the Shirley that either one of them knew.



            After Shirley had unpacked her things in the guest room and they had gotten through an awkward dinner of lasagna and near-silence, Laverne took her up to see her goddaughter for the first time. As Laverne picked Josephin up out of her bed and held her to show Shirley, she woke up and let out a huge holler.


            “AUNT SHIRLEY!”


            Shocked, Shirley squealed with happiness. “She knows who I am?!”


            “Of course she knows who you are, Shirl! I've only been tellin' her about her Aunt Shirley coming to visit her for weeks, and I've shown her tons of pictures of you!”


            Shirley reached out for Josephine's hand, “Hiya, Josie!”


            “Hiya!” she yelped, beaming up at her. “Mommy - where's daddy?”


            “Downstairs making dessert, honey.”


            “Mmmmm - dessert!” and with that, Josie jumped down from her mother's arms and ran downstairs to greet her father, leaving her mother and Shirley to themselves.


            “She's beautiful, Laverne. She looks a lot like you.”


            “Really? I think she looks like Lenny. She might have my hair and eyes, but thank God she has his nose,” she joked.


            The room became quiet, and Laverne sat down on the bed, uncomfortably shifting back and forth. “So... how are the boys?”


            “They're fine. Staying with my mother.”


            “Oh. So... what have you been up to lately?”


            “Nothing of importance, Laverne. Nothing that could compare to the complete happiness that you're experiencing with your 'perfect' husband. Honestly, Laverne - how did you ever end up with Lenny Kosnowski of all people?”

            Shirley's sudden change of mood shocked Laverne. “What do you mean how did I 'end up' with him? I love Lenny! He's perfect!”


            “Yeah, well you didn't exactly think that six years ago when the very thought of him made your skin crawl. For God's sake, he's showed up at our door asking to borrow our sheets and makes ginger meat cookies!”


            “Shirl - he has never made my skin crawl. You know we've always been friends, and yes I didn't always love him, but we learned so much about each other when you left. I mean... Squig went off to run the talent agency himself, and it was just us two. We spent a lot more nights in front of the television set together than we ever did, and we spent a lot more time talking. He was the only one there for me when you left with Walter.”


            “Oh, so, great - I'm partially responsible for you marrying the creep.”


            “He's not a creep! Why are you doing this? Why after not seeing me for five years would you come to my house and say these things? Sure, Lenny's never been your favorite person, but you never used to hate him or act the way you're acting now! You've known how close we've always been and that he liked me since we was kids! It only made since that we would eventually become a couple - it just took a lot of self-searching on my part! You know how much I love him and how happy we are, and he's the father of your goddaughter!”


            “Well, I admit, Josie is the only good outcome of your marriage with Lenny.”


            That was it. “Get out.”


            “Laverne, I -”


            “Get. Out. I don't know what the hell has happened to you, Shirley Feeney, but you're certainly not the same best friend I once knew. I love you more than life itself and I've waited for this day since the last time we saw each other, but I don't want you to come back until you are able to speak to me without ridiculing my life and my husband.”


            For the first time in the whole night, Shirley began to show some emotion. Her eyes seemed to brim with tears as she turned to descend the stairs, and Laverne felt almost satisfied that she had made Shirley feel sorry. Lenny was feeding Josie her sundae when he saw Shirley grab her keys and head out the door. As he heard her key turned the ignition, he turned to see his wife trembling on the top of the stairs.


            “Vernie - what's wrong?” he asked, putting down the sticky, ice cream covered spoon and heading towards him.


            “I don't know, Len. I don't know.”

To Part 2