One Hundred Percent
by Kemical Reaxion
*Attention* This story deals with very sensitive subject matter that may be offensive to some readers. While handled in a mature manner, this story is not for everyone. So, if you cannot approach this fic with a mature, open mind, please read no further. If you CAN, however...read on. It will be worth it! :-) Just remember, you’ve been warned!
Jane sat cross-legged on the bathroom floor, staring down at the small pocket calendar in her hands. She had been over this thing a thousand times, and yet it still hadn’t completely sunk in yet. She didn’t want to admit to herself that it could be true. The dates seemed to be laughing at her as she gazed down at them. Ha ha ha....poor lil’ Jane’s in trouble! Jane’s eyes narrowed in anger as she hurled the calendar across the room. The book slammed against the wall and fell helplessly to the floor.
Jane buried her face in her hands. She was confused and scared, and no one seemed to notice. Daria and Tom had each other. Trent just wouldn’t understand. Her parents were never home. She was dying inside and had nowhere to turn.
Suddenly, Jane was interrupted by a light knock at the door. “Janey?” Trent questioned in his usual raspy voice. “Are you ready to go?”
Jane didn’t answer. She couldn’t. The words just wouldn’t come. She couldn’t believe Trent was trying to drag her out of the house tonight, after everything that had happened. She told him she needed to be alone, but he just wouldn’t give up. Janey, he had said, we don’t spend enough time together. Why don’t you come to the Zen tonight to hear us play our new song. If he hadn’t added, It would mean alot to me, she probably wouldn’t have agreed to go at all. She inwardly cursed herself for being such a sucker.
“Janey?” Trent asked again, a little louder. “Are you ready?”
Jane stood slowly and shuffled to the door. Opening the door, she took a deep breath and tried desperately to behave like a normal human being, even if she didn’t feel like one. Trent stood there in front of her, a lop-sided grin plastered on his face.
“There you are,” he said. “I was afraid you might have fallen in.”
A tiny flicker of a smile flashed across Jane’s lips, but soon vanished. She didn’t even have the strength to fake a smile anymore.
Jane left the house with Trent without so much as a word to him. All night, she pretended to be fine. At the Zen, she sat at the bar and drank sodas until she thought she was going to burst. She wasn’t really thirsty, but holding the glass gave her something to do with her hands. Hands that seemed so empty now. God, how she wanted to get drunk and forget everything, but she couldn’t let herself give into the temptation.
The bar was packed as Mystik Spiral entertained the masses of drunk, stoned, and horny young people. Trent was busy with the band all night, leaving Jane alone to think about everything that had happened. Well, Jane thought, I did tell Trent I wanted to be alone, and that’s exactly what I got.
As Jane emptied her ninth bottle of soda, a young woman strolled up to the bar and took a seat beside her. She ordered a beer then glanced over at Jane, tossing her long black hair back over her shoulder with a quick turn of her head.
“Hey,” the woman said, looking slightly concerned. “You look like you could use a beer.”
Jane just grunted and nodded her head without even looking up. The young woman nodded in reply, then slid a beer over to her. “Here. My treat.”
Jane glanced up at the bottle in front of her. Her hand slowly reached out for it. Then suddenly she stopped and drew it back as if she had just touched a hot iron. “No,” she spat out. “I can’t.”
The woman chuckled. “C’mon. I know you’re not 21, but nobody here cares much about that, so if you’re worried about getting caught...”
Jane cut her off with a loud sigh. “No, it’s not that. I...just...can’t.”
The woman shrugged and took back her beer. “Well, I guess you have your reasons. Funny, but I always pictured you as a heavy drinker, Jane. I guess I had you pegged wrong.”
Jane frowned at the mention of her own name. How does this person know who I am? she thought. Finally, as if it had just suddenly donned on her to look at the person sitting next to her, she glanced up. Jane’s frown deepened at the sight of an all-too-familiar face. A face she didn’t care to see, not now. “Oh. Monique,” she mumbled. “I didn’t know it was you.”
“How could you?” Monique returned, ignoring Jane’s cold greeting. “You were too busy studying the woodwork.” Monique looked down at the bar and slid her free hand along the smooth wooden surface. “It has a nice grain, doesn’t it?”
Jane looked down at her hands and sighed.
“It was a joke, Jane,” Monique added. Jane said nothing. Monique, genuinely concerned, spun around on her barstool to face Jane. “You look wiped. Is there anything I can do to help?”
Here was Jane’s chance. Someone to talk to. Someone who actually seemed to care. Seemed to. But could she trust Monique? Monique, of all people. She despised Monique. There was something about her that seemed so...mysterious, so cunning, like she was always hiding something. How could she trust someone like that?
Then again, if Monique was always hiding something, that meant she was good at keeping secrets. Which meant she might keep Jane’s secret, too. But would she be able to help? How could she possibly understand what I’m going through? Jane wondered. She didn’t think anyone would understand, especially not someone like Monique.
“Jane,” Monique whispered. “I’m not going to push you to talk about it, but you look depressed. I know what it’s like to feel so low, but I also know that if you don’t talk about it, it will only make you feel worse.” Monique took a swig of her beer and stood up. “Just know that if you need anything, whenever you’re ready to talk, you can come to me, ok?”
Monique patted Jane gently on the shoulder and started to walk away, but Jane stopped her. “Monique?” Jane mumbled, so quietly it was almost inaudible. Monique turned to face her. “Can we go somewhere?”
As Monique opened the front door to her apartment, Jane stood hesitantly behind her. She wasn’t sure what she was doing here. Nor did she understand what possessed her to trust Monique. I guess there’s something to be said for desperation, Jane thought. She had been aching to talk to someone, but there was never anyone around that was willing to listen. Everyone was always so caught up in their own lives. Always too busy for Jane.
Monique switched on the light and Jane followed her into the apartment. The tiny living room was not much more than a glorified cardboard box. Clothing, musical equipment, and large empty boxes were strewn across the floor. The light fixture above their heads, which was made to hold four light bulbs, held only one lonely bulb. Even with the light on, it was difficult to see much of anything. Any other time, the lack of suitable light would have gotten on Jane’s last nerve, but for some reason, that night, the darkness was almost comforting.
Jane noticed a black cat asleep on a small orange love-seat. A tiny television set stood across from the love-seat on a flimsy metal TV tray. The only other furniture in the room that was even worth noticing was a dark purple bean-bag chair sitting in a heap in the corner. The rest of the room was buried underneath the masses of junk sitting in piles and flung carelessly aside. The pale blue shag carpet was barely visible beneath it all. The place looked like an un-natural disaster.
Kicking several empty beer cans out of the way, Monique attempted to clear a path for Jane. “Sorry about the mess,” she said without the least bit of embarrassment over her unkempt abode. “Being a single musician does have its perks, y’know?”
“Is living in a dumpster considered a ‘perk’ these days?” Jane quipped without thinking.
Monique laughed. “Maybe ‘perk’ is the wrong word.” Monique gently nudged her cat off the sofa. “Sorry, Eclipse, but you’ll have to find some other place to sleep.”
The cat stretched, looking back at Monique as if he was the king being banished from his own castle. His eyes darted between Jane and Monique, and his coal black face seemed almost human in its expression of discontent. Slowly, reluctantly, he ambled into the kitchen.
Monique casually motioned to the now empty sofa. “Have a seat, Jane. You want something to drink?”
Jane crossed the room and sat down. “No thanks,” she declined as Monique took a seat beside her.
The two sat there, unmoving, in an intense, unbreakable silence. Monique waited patiently for Jane to speak up, while Jane seemed to be waiting for Monique to say something. Jane wanted to speak, but she didn’t even know where to start.
Finally, Monique cleared her throat. “So...” she began, attempting to nudge Jane along a bit.
After a long pause, Jane sat back against the sofa cushions and closed her eyes. “I am so screwed.”
Monique nodded, the look of concern growing with every passing second. “What happened?”
“I think--” Jane stopped abruptly. No, this wasn’t right. She needed to go back a little further, to give Monique the whole story. She opened her eyes and looked over at Monique. “Have you ever dated a guy, then found out that he kissed your best friend?”
Monique shook her head. “No, I can’t say that I have.”
“Oh.” Jane looked down at her hands. “Well, I have.”
“That Tom fellow?”
“Yeah. How’d you know about Tom?”
“Trent mentioned him once, when you first started dating.”
“Oh.” Jane didn’t know where to go from there.
Monique sat next to her, trying to piece together what was really going on with Jane. “Wait, did you say he kissed your best friend?” Jane nodded. “Daria?” Jane closed her eyes, trying to hide her anger, then nodded again. Monique was in shock. “No offense to Daria, but...why would he kiss her when he has you?”
“Had me,” Jane corrected. After thinking a moment, she shrugged. “You don’t know Daria like I do. She’s alot more than what she appears to be. She’s got alot going for her.” She paused, trying to keep her rage in check. “Of course, it now appears that I didn’t know Daria very well either.”
“Did she kiss him back?”
“Did you actually see this happen?”
“No...Daria told me.”
Monique’s eyes widened. “She told you? Whoa...that took alot of guts.”
“Yeah, I thought so too, at first. But now I think maybe she just told me because she wanted me to hurry up and break it off with Tom.” Jane bit her lip. “So she could have him.”
“Some friend she turned out to be.”
“Well, Daria’s the least of my worries right now.” Jane took a deep breath and continued. “You see, while Tom and I were together...we sort of...well...you know...”
“That’ll do. We fooled around. We tried to be careful. I thought we were being careful, anyway. But maybe we weren’t 100% careful. I mean, it’s possible, that just maybe...just maybe...we weren’t 100%. Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know.”
Monique nodded knowingly. She could sense Jane's overwhelming nervousness about where the conversation was headed. Jane was rambling, and Monique felt she had to step in, to set her mind at ease.
“Jane, before you go on, let me tell you a little story.”
Monique shifted in her seat, searching for the right words. Jane waited patiently, suspicious but also a little curious about this mysterious woman she knew next to nothing about. Finally, Monique collected her thoughts and pressed on. “When I was in High School, I had a huge crush on this guy,” she started. “Tommy, was his name, oddly enough. But he was popular. A football star. All the girls wanted him and all the guys wanted to be him. What chance did I have of getting someone like that? I was just a scrawny, nerdy-looking kid back then.”
“You? A nerd?”
“Surprised? Appearances can be deceiving, can’t they? Anyway, I wasn’t popular at all. I had very few friends. So when this football player asked me out, I thought this was a dream-come-true. And it was for awhile, until I found out he just did it to win a bet with his friends.”
“They made a bet that he wouldn’t go out with you? How immature.”
Monique shook her head solemnly. “No...they bet that he couldn’t get me to sleep with him.”
“Cruel bastards, all of them. Anyway, he won the bet and dropped me like a two-dollar hooker the very next day. I was absolutely devastated. I mean, he was my first, and I wanted it to be special, y’know?”
Feelings of guilt and sadness seized Jane’s heart. She lowered her eyes, attempting to hide her inner turmoil from Monique. Nodding in complete understanding, she whispered, “I know exactly what you mean.”
Monique, deeply concerned, placed a caring palm on Jane’s trembling hands. “It’s not easy, Jane,” she spoke softly. “Believe me, I know. But I also know that things will get better, and you will get through this. Whenever it happened to me, I was extremely depressed, but I knew, deep down, that I would survive. And I did.” Jane shrugged her shoulders, unsure what to say. “You’ll survive, too,” Monique added.
Jane cleared her throat. “So what happened with that guy?” she asked, trying to revert the conversation back to Monique. “Did you get even with him?”
“No. I probably should have, though. I mean, as if things weren’t bad enough, after he dumped me, things got even more complicated.” Monique paused, remembering the pain of her past. Fighting back tears, she swallowed the lump in her throat. “I found out I was pregnant.”
Jane’s eyes widened. “What?!”
“Pregnant. Knocked up. With child. A bun in the ol’ oven. However you wanna say it, it all translated to the same thing. ‘Deep shit.’ I was only 16. I couldn’t have a baby. So...” Monique paused, collecting herself again. “I had it taken care of. I never told a soul about it.” Monique sighed. “Until now,” she finished weakly.
“You had an abortion?”
Pushing back another wave of tears, Monique nodded. “I’m not proud of it, Jane. In fact, that’s why I’ve never told anyone. It’s something I wanted to forget. You see, I always thought that it would be an easy solution. Go in to see the doctor, get everything taken care of, and that would be the end of it. Sounds easy enough, but no one takes into account the emotional scars that it leaves on a girl.”
Jane was in utter shock. She had so many questions, so many things to say, and yet couldn’t find the words. She didn’t even know where to begin.
Monique continued. “Ever since then, I’ve had to live with my decision. Every second of every day. Every night when I go to bed, I dream about it. Every morning when I wake up, it’s the first thing on my mind. Every time I hear a baby crying, my heart dies a little more. Every time I see a mother and her baby together, I have to fight off the tears. That’s no way to live, Jane.”
Jane swallowed hard, not sure what to say. “So you regret it?” she croaked. The question seemed so ridiculous to Jane’s ears, but it was all she could manage to say.
“Sure, I regret it now, but only because I know now what it’s like to have a child.”
Jane’s nose wrinkled in confusion. “But didn’t you say you terminated the pregnancy?”
“So what do you mean, ‘I know what it’s like to have a child’?”
Monique smiled half-heartedly. “Because that’s not the end of the story. After I had the abortion, I was miserable. Depressed. I took up music to help vent my frustrations. I started dressing differently, acting differently. My parents sensed a change in me but didn’t know what had caused it. They thought I was into drugs.
“Then I befriended your brother. I didn’t trust him at first. I didn’t trust men in general, but I eventually realized that he’s a decent guy. He and I started a band together, but were never more than friends at first. He was my one-man support group. I went to him about everything. Everything but that one horrible thing from my past. That was just too difficult to dredge up. Besides, I figured that he wouldn’t understand.”
Jane nodded. “I know what you mean. That’s why I didn’t talk to him about any of my problems.”
“I figured as much. Anyway, after starting up our band, I sorta went out of control. I wasn’t into drugs like my parents suspected, but I was running around with some pretty dangerous men. Trent didn’t know about it. He couldn’t keep tabs on me all the time. If he had known, I think he probably would have knocked some sense into me. And I would have deserved it.
“My parents were tired of trying to deal with me, so they sent me away to live with my uncle. He’s an ex-marine, so I guess they figured he’d be able to keep me in line. Bad move on their part, since my uncle was away most of the time on business. I basically did whatever I wanted and had the whole house to myself.
“Right after moving, I met Brian. He worked at this night club I played at. We eventually hooked up. Then, stupid as I was, I repeated my past mistake. I slept with him and got myself pregnant again.”
“Yes, but I decided to tell him about it rather than keep it a secret. I couldn’t stand keeping another secret like that. It was too much. So I told him. Turns out he wasn’t the nice young man I thought he was. He told me to, as he put it, ‘get rid of it.’ When I told him I couldn’t do that, he dumped me.”
“Guys are scum,” Jane mumbled.
Monique laughed. “Some of them are. And at the time, I thought they all were. Even so, I was still glad that I told him. I know it sounds corny and stupid, but I felt free, just knowing I had done something so brave. They were the hardest words to say outloud, but I knew I had done the right thing, no matter what his reaction to it was. I thought that if I could get up the nerve to tell him, then I could do just about anything.”
Jane sat in silence, staring down at her hands, trying to take in everything Monique was saying. She was mulling everything over, trying to make sense of it all.
“I was still scared out of my mind, of course,” Monique continued. “I’d have to be a fool not to be. I was all alone again, for the second time in my life. But this time, I knew what I had to do. Talking to Brian about it made me even more certain, as strange as that sounds. There were no doubts. There were alot of fears, worries, and uncertainties, but no doubts. I decided to have my baby.”
“So that’s what you meant by ‘I know what it’s like,’” Jane said.
“Yes. And I wouldn’t trade my little girl for anything in the world.”
Jane looked a little puzzled. “Wait a minute. If you had the baby, how come I never heard about this? Doesn’t Trent know?”
Monique rested her elbows on her knees and stared down at the carpet between her feet. A guilty expression swept over her face. “No. I never told him. And I feel horrible about keeping it from him, but I don’t have a choice. When my parents found out that I was pregnant, they made me stay out of Lawndale until I had the baby. They didn’t want a scandal, I guess. Then, whenever I came back, they took my baby. They said I was too young to be a mother and that I was unfit to raise my child. Who knows, maybe I was. But I would like to have had the chance to find out.
“My parents told all their friends that they had taken this little baby in as a foster child. They told everyone her mother was an alcoholic, and so it made them look like Gods to everyone in this town."
“Didn’t you even try to get her back?” Jane asked, utterly amazed by the story unfolding before her.
“Yes. I did. Whenever I moved out, I told them I wanted her back. For so long, I had been forced to pretend that she was my foster sister. I just couldn’t do that anymore. But they refused. They said if I tried to take her, they’d take me to court to get custody and I’d never see her again. I knew I couldn’t afford to fight them on it. I was just a kid with no steady job and no money. So, they kept her.”
“That’s horrible! How could they do that to you?”
“Well, they justified it by letting me visit her whenever I wanted. I could go to their house and take her out for walks, go to the park, do all the normal things a mother would do with her child. Even today I have to pretend she’s not mine in public, but when we’re alone together, she’s my baby girl and I’m her mommy.”
Jane shook her head in disbelief. “That’s so sad. I had no idea.”
“Well, I wish things could be different, but at least I have her. Sure, things could be better, but she’s still a part of my life. A living, breathing human being that loves me unconditionally. I’ve been a screw-up most of my life, but every time I look at her, I feel so proud, like I’ve finally done something right. I wouldn’t give her up for anything, and I’m glad every day for the decision I made.”
Monique was practically beaming as she talked about her daughter, and Jane couldn’t help but smile a little, for her sake. “Isn’t there any way you could get her back somehow?”
“I hope to, someday, but right now I can’t afford all the legal fees. Besides, look at the way I live.” Monique made an all-inclusive gesture. “You think a judge is going to send a child to a place like this?”
“But you’re her mother.”
“I know. But I guess that’s not enough. I’m working on cleaning up my act. That’s why I don’t get to see Trent much anymore. I’ve been working two jobs, trying to save up enough money to pay for a lawyer, but I’ve got a long way to go. I do have enough now to move to a nicer place, though.” Monique motioned toward the stacks of boxes on the floor with one gentle sweep of her hand. “I’m getting ready to move, so it’s been real hectic. Trent gets upset because he hardly ever sees me. That’s why we break up every other day practically. He just doesn’t understand what I’m going through.”
“That’s Trent for you,” Jane said, grinning in spite of herself.
“Yeah, I guess.” Monique shakes her head, as if dislodging a thought from her head. “But, look at me, sitting here talking about myself, when you came to me for help.”
Jane stood, stretching her tired arms above her head. “Actually, I think I’m gonna go.”
“Why? Was it something I said?”
“As a matter of fact, it was.”
“I didn’t mean to upset you....”
“No, you didn’t. You put everything in perspective for me.” Jane walked to the door, with Monique following. “Thank you.” Jane reached over and hugged Monique. Monique, stunned at first, wrapped her arms hesitantly around Jane. Finally, Jane released Monique and opened the front door. “I know now exactly what I have to do.”
“Well, I’m glad I could help. Do you need a ride home?”
“No, thanks...I’d rather walk.” Jane turned and walked out the door, then turned back to Monique. “Besides, I’m not going home.”
With that, Jane walked down the hall and out of sight. Monique watched her go, then slowly shut the door. She made her way through her small living room, past the hideous love-seat, and entered her kitchen. Reaching into the refrigerator, she pulled out a can of beer and popped the tab. She leaned up against the refrigerator door and chugged her beer as she watched Eclipse sleep peacefully on the floor by her feet.
She wondered what Jane was going to do. Even more so, she wondered how her story could have possibly helped Jane come to a decision. She hadn’t meant to ramble on about her life so. All she wanted to do was give Jane some comfort, just to let her know that losing a guy wasn’t the end of the world, even if he was her first. She mentally scolded herself for letting the conversation drift so far off-topic.
She had been stupid. There was no doubt about that. Instead of listening to Jane’s problems and offering her a shoulder to cry on, she had poured out her own sob story. Jane had enough to deal with without worrying about someone else’s problems. Still, she was glad Jane found their talk helpful. She was glad she could make a difference. She just hoped Jane got everything figured out.
Monique couldn’t help but like the kid. Despite her cold, distant, sometimes bitchy attitude towards her in the past, she still knew that Jane was a good person. She hated to see the girl in pain, so the idea that their talk may have done some good made her feel wonderful. Made her feel needed.
Monique drew in a long, labored breath, then exhaled slowly, releasing some tension. Dredging up the past wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to do, and Monique was emotionally exhausted. As she stood there, the cold surface of the refrigerator door against her back, her thoughts lingered. She thought about Brian and how glad she was to be out of that situation. She thought about Trent and what a wonderful man he was turning out to be, despite all of his faults. Mostly, she thought about her daughter. How she missed her. How she needed her so desperately. How she loved her.
With one final swig, Monique finished off her beer and tossed the can aside. The can hit the floor with a muffled metallic *clunk*, then rolled to a stop by the trash can. Monique glanced over her shoulder, and her eyes fell upon a photograph that was tacked to the refrigerator by a small heart-shaped magnet. It was a Polaroid of a little girl, about 2 years of age. Short black hair framed her tiny, impish face. A pair of stark blue eyes stared out of the picture as the girl’s laughing face was frozen in time. In her dark green velvet dress and matching beret-style hat, the little girl was a true beauty.
Monique stared wistfully at the photograph, her eyes on the verge of overflowing. She swept her hand along the picture’s surface, running her fingertips along the small girl’s gleefully innocent face. A tear appeared on Monique’s eyelash and ran silently down her cheek.
“Some day, Erica. I promise.”
Later that night, as Monique sat in the middle of her living room floor packing boxes, the phone rang. Standing and dusting off her faded blue jeans, she sauntered over to the phone and lifted the receiver to her ear.
“Hello. Is this Monique Dupri?” a female voice questioned politely.
“Yes it is.”
“This is Helen Morgendorffer. I hope I’m not calling too late.”
“No, not at all. I’m always awake this late.”
“Excellent. Let me get right to the point, Miss Dupri. I’m with the law firm of Vitale, Davis, Horowitz, Riodan, Schrecter, Schrecter, and Schrecter. I understand you are acquainted with a Miss Jane Lane, is that correct?”
“Is she in some sort of trouble?”
“No, of course not.”
“Am I in some sort of trouble?”
Helen chuckled. “No, no. Nothing like that. I just had a talk with Miss Lane, and she told me about your custody problems.”
Monique’s eyes widened. “She didn’t!” she snapped, feeling angry and betrayed. “Dammit! She wasn’t supposed to tell anyone! I trusted her!”
Helen’s voice came back, soothing and diplomatic. “Yes, I’m aware of that. She warned me you might be angry, but let me finish. When I learned of your situation, I was deeply touched. I was also outraged. You have been done a great injustice, and I think we may be able to help you.”
Monique’s expression softened. The feelings of betrayal slowly faded as the reality of what Helen was saying finally began to sink in. The possibility that was being laid before her was enormous, and Monique felt her heart skip a beat. She felt weak, and the phone almost slipped out of her sweaty palm as she searched for the right words. Stuttering nervously, Monique replied, “B-b-but I don’t have...I mean, I couldn’t pay...”
“Let’s not concern ourselves with money matters at this point. I think quite alot of Jane and she seems to think an awful lot of you, too. I trust her judgment, and when she suggested that I do something to help you...well, I couldn’t say ‘no.’ She informed me of your financial situation, but she also told me that you’re doing everything in your power to improve it. With that in mind, I have no doubt that we can work something out.” Helen paused. “That is, if you’re interested.”
Monique, unable to conceal her excitement, practically screamed, “Yes, of course!” Then, slightly embarrassed, she tried to regain composure. “I mean, yes, I’m interested.”
“Fantastic. Let’s meet at my office tomorrow. Is 2 o’clock convenient for you?”
Stealing another glance at the photograph of her daughter, Monique smiled a wide, unabashed smile. “It’s perfect.”
Jane strolled down the sidewalk, the darkness of the night enveloping her. She loved walking at night. It gave her a chance to get away from everything and feel totally lost in obscurity.
She had just left the Morgendorffer residence, after having a long talk with Daria’s mother about Monique, and had thankfully avoided seeing Daria as well. Jane was extremely worried that she might run into her ex-best-friend there, but she knew she had to speak with Helen. Whether she wanted to admit it or not, Jane actually had alot of respect for Helen. She was certain that Daria’s mother would listen to her plight and do whatever she could to help. Despite the problems she was having with Daria, Jane knew she could still count on Helen to come through for her.
What surprised Jane the most, though, was not her great regard for Helen, but her new-found respect and admiration for Monique. She never thought she would ever consider herself a friend to that woman, but after their long talk earlier that evening, Jane’s opinions had changed drastically. Monique had always acted so secretive, and Jane never could stand people like that. She believed in being open and honest, but Monique seemed like the exact opposite. Like she was hiding something, Jane thought for the second time that day. Only this time, she knew what Monique had been hiding...and understood why.
The moment Monique had related her story to Jane that evening, Jane had thought immediately of Helen. Helen was a lawyer, but not only that, she was a mother. Jane was a little apprehensive about breaking Monique’s trust, but she felt she had an obligation to help her in any way possible. Monique had, after all, come to her rescue, so to speak. She was there when Jane needed a friend, and since Jane’s friends were few and far between these days, she felt that drafting Helen to aid in Monique’s cause was the least she could do.
It had been a long night, and Jane wanted more than anything to go home and pull the covers over her head, but she couldn’t. She knew she still had one more thing to take care of, and it was the most difficult of all. As she made her way down the sidewalk, her thoughts racing and her stomach in knots, an old familiar car pulled up beside her.
“Need a lift, Janey?” Trent offered from his car.
“Nah. I need the walk.”
“Where’d you run off to? I thought you were going to stay for the second set this time.”
“I had to get some fresh air, that’s all.”
“Feeling any better?”
“Better than what?”
Jane shrugged. “I suppose. I’ve got alot to think about.”
Trent killed the engine and climbed out of the car. “Can I walk with you?”
“And leave your car here unattended?”
“Don’t worry,” Trent said, grinning. “Nobody’ll steal it.”
Jane smiled slightly. “No doubt about that.”
The two started walking in silence. After a few blocks, Trent finally spoke up. “Going anywhere in particular?”
Jane stopped dead in her tracks. She glanced over at Trent. At first, she had planned on shooting off some hateful remark about how it was none of his business, but after seeing the concern on his face, she folded. With a defeated sigh, she muttered, “Tom’s.”
Jane turned and started walking again. Trent followed. “I thought you weren’t speaking to him.”
“Well, something’s come up that we need to discuss.”
“It is. And it won’t be easy.”
“You want to be alone?”
Jane thought about this question. If he had asked her that same question just a few hours ago, she would have said ‘yes’ without hesitation. But, in Jane’s mind, her situation had changed drastically since then. “No, I don’t,” she replied.
Trent slipped his arm around his little sister’s shoulders and Jane leaned into him. For the first time, Jane realized how much she needed Trent to just be there. Even if he didn’t understand her problem, she could still count on him for company, and that was worth more than any advice he could give her.
Finally, after a long silent walk, Jane and Trent reached Tom’s house. Trent stopped at the end of the driveway, and Jane turned to face her big brother.
“I think you can take it from here,” Trent said, shooting her an encouraging smile. “Things will all work out.” He hugged her quickly before turning and walking back down the sidewalk.
Jane took a deep breath and headed up the walkway to Tom’s door. It was well after midnight, and his parents would, no doubt, be asleep. Still, this talk was not something that could wait until morning. Jane mustered up all her courage and rang the doorbell.
A few moments later, Tom answered. Surprised to see his ex-girlfriend at his house so late, Tom took a step back, speechless.
“I didn’t wake you, did I?” Jane said, barely holding her emotions in check. It was the first time they had talked since that day at the park, and seeing him again was like opening an old wound and pouring battery acid into it.
“No, I was still up.” Tom said, stepping outside and gently shutting the door behind him. “What are you doing here?”
“Well, gee, I’m so sorry to bother you! I wasn’t aware I needed to make an appointment first!” Jane spat out. Nice going, Lane. Good job keeping those feelings at bay.
Tom looked worried and hurt. “Jane, I didn’t mean it that way.”
A saddened expression crossed Jane’s face. As much as she wanted to hate Tom, it was impossible. He was a good guy, and that made what she was about to tell him all the more difficult. “Sorry. I just needed to talk to you about something. It couldn’t wait.”
Tom swallowed hard, expecting the worst. “Sounds serious,” he said, trying to judge Jane’s expression. It was something he had become fairly adept at during their relationship, but that didn’t matter much now. Jane’s face was like a wall. She was unreadable. This worried Tom even more. “Do I need to sit down first?”
Sitting on the curb in front of Tom’s house, Jane tried to plan in her mind how she was going to tell Tom everything. She knew it had to be said, but they were the hardest damned words she'd ever had to say. She hadn’t even begun to admit the truth to herself, much less anyone else.
Tom, seated beside her but at a safe distance, stole a nervous glance at Jane. She looked like hell, and he was worried that she wasn’t taking care of herself. He hadn’t expected their break-up to hit her this hard. He knew she would be angry, but hadn't counted on her being depressed as well. It just wasn’t Jane at all. The Jane that he had once known was gone as far as he could tell.
Jane, avoiding Tom’s glances her direction, stared down at her feet, thankful for the darkness between them. “Tom...I found out something recently, something big. I wasn’t sure if I should tell you, but I had a long talk with someone tonight. She -- in her own unique way -- convinced me that telling you would be the right thing.”
Tom nodded. “It’s alright, Jane. You can tell me anything. You know that.”
“See, the thing is, though...it’s not alright. Nothing is alright at this point. My life is so screwed up right now, I don’t even know if things will ever be normal again.”
“I hope this doesn’t have anything to do with Daria, because I already told you that none of this was her fault.”
Pushing that issue aside in her mind, Jane shook her head. “No, I can’t even think about her right now.”
“Then it was something I did?” Tom said, as more of a statement than a question.
Jane paused, mulling that over. “I guess you could say it was something we did.” Jane paused again, staring intently down at the tops of her boots. “Or something we should have done...more carefully.”
Tom’s blood ran cold and his face blanched. He understood exactly what she was saying, and the thought terrified him. “You mean...”
“I think I’m...pregnant.” Jane’s stomach lurched and she felt severely nauseous. It was the first time she had said it out loud, and just the sound of her own voice saying those words together, one right after the other, made her want to throw up. She clasped her hand over her mouth and tried to hold it in. She wanted to puke. No...she wanted to die.
Silence lingered between the two for an eternity. Neither one could think of anything appropriate to say. Tom opened his mouth to ask if the baby was his, but shut it immediately before the words could escape. Of course it's mine, you idiot, Tom thought. She wouldn’t be telling me this if it wasn’t. He started to ask what she was going to do, or what he could do, or if she had told anyone else, but none of that seemed important, not compared to the bomb she had just dropped.
Finally, realizing that Jane looked pale and weak, he said the only thing that sounded right to him at the moment. “Are you ok?” As it turned out, it was the worst thing he could have said.
Jane’s face turned red as she turned to look at Tom for the first time since they had sat down. “Am I ok?!” she yelled, as if the very idea of being ‘ok’ was the most ludicrous thing she had ever heard. “Well, let’s see. My boyfriend just cheated on me with my best friend, then broke up with me. Then, as if God hadn’t already punished me enough, he decided to make my period 16 days late, just to mess with my head. And, of all the stupid things, to top off everything, you have the nerve to ask me if I’m ok?!!”
“I was only trying to...” Tom started to defend himself, but decided that wasn’t necessary either. Jane was upset for a multitude of reasons, not just because of what he had said. He threw his arms up in the air, looking thoroughly defeated. “Aww, hell, Jane. What am I supposed to say? Just tell me, and I’ll say it. Everything I’ve said and done lately has turned to shit.”
Jane was close to tears, but she simply couldn’t let them fall, not yet. Not in front of Tom. “I want you to tell me what to do.”
“What do you want to do?”
“I want to wake up and discover that this was all a nightmare. Or a bad after-school special. I want this not to be happening.”
“I wish I could make that true.”
“So do I. Things like this just aren’t supposed to happen. I had everything all figured out, more or less.” Jane sighed. “It isn’t fair.” Jane gazed off into the darkness, making a point not to look in Tom’s direction. Recalling her talk with Monique earlier, Jane decided to pop the ultimate question. The question that could reveal Tom’s true character, once and for all. Jane took a breath and pressed on, her face still turned away. “DoyouthinkIshouldgetanabortion?” she blurted out so quickly, the words all just ran together.
Tom wasn’t surprised by the question, but he sure as hell wasn’t ready to give an answer for it. He knew exactly how he felt about that question. It’s the last thing in the world he wanted Jane to do, but he didn’t want to discourage Jane if it was what she thought was best. “I don’t know. Is that something you could live with?”
Jane turned to Tom again. “I can’t live with any of this. Whatever I decide, things are never going to be normal again. I don’t know what I could live with.” Jane sighed, remembering the pain in Monique’s eyes as she had related her story to her only hours ago. “But I’m pretty sure I couldn’t live with that.”
Tom breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m glad to hear that.”
“You are? I mean...you’re not upset?”
“Should I be?”
“I figured it’s what you’d want.”
“You figured wrong. The thought makes me ill, Jane. I wouldn’t want you to go through anything like that. I can only imagine how that would affect you. I know you Jane. You’re a strong woman, but even you have your breaking point. And I get the feeling that would be it.”
Surprised and relieved by Tom’s reaction, Jane realized that Tom was nothing like Monique’s Brian. Brian had been unfeeling and cold. Downright cruel. Tom was actually supportive of her decision, and Jane was grateful for that. Despite everything he had done, Jane felt that he wouldn’t desert her. And she needed all the help that she could get. Now more than ever.
Nine months later...
Trent sat on the edge of his bed, phone in hand with the biggest grin on his face. “She is the cutest little girl I’ve ever seen,” he spoke excitedly into the phone.
Daria’s voice came back through the receiver. “I’ll just bet she is. How’s the mother doing?”
“She’s thrilled to have her baby home. The whole thing has been really rough on her, but she’s strong. She’ll manage somehow.”
“Well, I’d say if she’s made it this far, she can handle just about anything.”
“So, how are things with you and Tom?”
Daria’s voice wavered. “Rocky. We’re not getting along so well.”
“You’ll work everything out.”
“I hope so.” Intent on turning the focus on someone else, Daria changed the subject. “I heard you and Monique worked out your differences.” Daria paused. “Again,” she added with a weak smile.
Trent laughed, which transformed into a hacking cough. “Yeah, but this time is different. This time I understand everything. Ever since I found out about her past, things have been smoother between us.”
“I guess everything’s back to normal then?”
“Not everything. Janey’s been bitching and whining an awful lot.”
Daria grinned. “Why? Did she finally get the hospital bill?”
“No, ever since she got home, she’s been under the impression that I should wait on her hand and foot. She expects me to do everything.”
Sarcasm crept into Daria’s voice. “The nerve of her, after all you’ve been through.”
Trent looked down at his feet, guilt overcoming his normally passive features. “Mmm...”
Daria could sense a change in Trent’s tone and decided to back off. “Just, be sympathetic, Trent. She’s been through alot. She’ll probably need you to help out for awhile, until she’s feeling better.”
Trent’s face lifted slightly. “I know.”
Daria glanced at her watch. “Trent, I’d better go. Tell Jane I’ll stop by and see her this afternoon, ok?”
“Will do. Oh, and Daria?”
“I’m glad you two are friends again.”
“So am I.”
“You two need each other, y’know?”
Daria smiled. “Yeah. I know.”
After the two said their good-byes, Trent hung up the phone and shuffled downstairs to the living room. He crossed the room and stood next to the sofa, where Jane was propped up by several pillows, a white cast covering her left leg. Red ink pen in hand, she was busy drawing a Picasso-esque self-portrait on her cast.
“How’s the patient?” Trent questioned. “Need anything?”
Jane set the pen down and stretched. “Yeah, I need to get up and move around. My back is killing me from lying here all day.”
“You’re supposed to be taking it easy.”
“I know, and I have been, but I think I’m finally ready to rejoin the real world. This sofa is contorting my spine into all sorts of unnatural shapes. If I don’t move around, I’ll be permanently twisted.”
Trent smirked. “Janey, you’ve been twisted all your life.”
“Ha, ha,” Jane grumbled. She looked up pleadingly at Trent, her eyes wide. “So...whadya say?”
Trent considered it for a moment, remembering what Daria had said about looking after her. “Well...ok, I guess you can get up for a little while. But only while I’m in the room. And don’t overdo it. And remember to use your crutches.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Jane moaned.
“Oh, Daria just called. She said she’ll be coming by later.”
“You spoke to Daria? And you didn’t let me talk to her?”
“I thought you might be asleep.”
Jane grinned sheepishly. “You just wanted her all to yourself.”
Trent smiled back, glad his sister was feeling better. “Whatever you say, Janey.”
Later that afternoon, Daria made her way down the Lane’s sidewalk. She noticed an unfamiliar car in the driveway. Fleetingly, she wondered who it belonged to before ringing the doorbell. Trent answered the door in his normal, groggy manner. Daria walked in and was welcomed immediately.
“Daria!” Jane said, thrilled to see her friend again. “It’s been forever.”
“Jane,” Daria quipped back, taking a seat on the sofa beside Jane, “It’s been two days.”
Jane smirked. “Really? Has it been that long?”
“I’m afraid so. How’s your leg?”
“Still broken,” Jane shot back.
Daria smirked. “I could give you a matching pair if you’d like.”
“Now there’s a gift that keeps on giving.”
Daria’s expression faded from playful kidding to genuine concern. “Are you in much pain?”
“Nah! I’m tough. I can take it.”
Trent, sitting on the sofa’s armrest, put a caring arm around his sister. “She’s been heavily medicated,” he clarified, eliciting a playful elbow nudge from Jane. “I told her that old ladder wasn’t sturdy, but she never listens to me.”
“But I had to use something!” Jane said. “I couldn’t very well paint the perfect ceiling mural by simply standing on my bed, now could I? What would Michelangelo think?”
“Not much, considering he’s been dead for 400 years,” Daria said. “So, who’s car is that out front? I don’t remember seeing it before.”
“That would be my clunker,” Monique said, descending the stairs, a young girl of about three following her eagerly. The little girl skipped happily down the stairs, her short black hair bouncing with every step.
Daria turned to see Monique and her daughter. “Hey, Monique. So, this must be Erica.”
“Uh-huh!” Erica announced, matter-of-factly.
Everyone laughed. Trent smiled like a proud father. “Didn’t I tell you she’s the cutest girl in the world?”
“You were right about that,” Daria agreed.
“I’m just glad to have her home finally,” Monique said, sitting next to Daria and lifting Erica up onto her lap. “Your mother is the most amazing woman alive, Daria. Seriously. She wouldn’t allow herself to sleep until I got my daughter back home where she belongs.”
“Well, not to burst your bubble, but she never sleeps. Ever.”
Jane nodded in agreement. “We think she may be from another planet.”
“Like ET!” Erica giggled.
“Like ET,” Monique repeated, smiling down at her little girl.
Trent laughed, his smile growing more and more by the second. He could hardly take his eyes off Erica and Monique.
Jane noticed the look on his face and shook her head. Who’d have thought my brother could ever dote on anyone so much. It’s like she’s his own child. Positively unreal. As hard as it was for Jane to believe, everything really had worked out alright. She never thought the nightmare would end, but somehow it did. Things weren’t perfect of course, not 100%, but then again nothing ever is.
“So is being a mother everything you dreamed it would be?” Daria questioned.
“Absolutely. I’ve never been happier,” Monique said, squeezing her daughter in an affectionate hug. “Wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Daria smiled, happy to see Monique so content. After everything she had been through, she knew she deserved a little happiness. “I can’t imagine what that must be like, being a mother.” Daria glanced over at Jane. “Can you?”
“No, I certainly can’t.” Jane insisted. “And I won’t be. Not for a very long time.”
Monique grinned mischievously. “Not even a false alarm...just for old time’s sake?”
“No thanks,” Jane said. “One false alarm is enough to last a lifetime.”
Monique and Jane shared a knowing glance before busting out laughing. Trent and Daria looked at each other, clueless.
“What’s so funny?” Trent whispered to Daria.
“I don’t know. Those two are just too weird for words.”
After the laughter subsided, Erica tugged at her mother’s long hair. “Mommy?”
“What’s a false alarm?”
Monique patted her little girl on the head. “That, my dear, is a story for another time.”
First of all, I’d like to mention something about where this story idea came from. It was about a week after DDMD aired. I was in the shower one morning and the idea just popped into my head. It came out of nowhere really. After finishing the fic, someone on the Paperpusher’s Message Board brought up the possibility of Jane being pregnant. I was upset at first, thinking the argument might ruin the surprise of my fic. I was also worried that people might think I copied the idea from the discussion on the board. So I just want to let everyone know that this fic actually came about BEFORE the subject came up on the board. The discussion, interestingly enough, mirrored much of what my story dealt with. I thought that was really fascinating.
I hope you all enjoyed the fic though. Did the ending take you by surprise? I hope so. It actually took me by surprise too. I didn’t originally intend it to end that way. I was actually going to end it with Jane telling Tom that she might be pregnant, but then I felt like it was too much of a loose end. I can’t stand loose ends, so I just kept writing. The words kept coming and eventually it all fell into place. I hope all the talk about abortion in this fic doesn’t offend anyone. I tried to be fair and make the characters’ reactions realistic. I don’t know if I succeeded, but I tried to. Also, Monique’s story about getting an abortion, then turning around and deciding to keep her second baby...that was actually inspired by a real-life friend of mine. I used alot of her feelings and experiences to make this story possible.
I don’t want anyone to think that this story was about abortion. It’s not. I repeat...IT’S NOT! It’s about girls and the decisions they sometimes have to make. Sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong, but things do work out in the end. Things aren’t always perfect, but they do work out and life goes on. It was never meant to be an argument for or against abortion. I just don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about this story’s intent. I wanted this to be entertaining, and maybe in the process, give people a little hope. To let everyone know that if things are bad, they will get better. Sounds corny, but we all know it’s true, right? The bad times are NOT the end of the world, no matter how bad things may seem. Also, to be fair to all the men out there, I didn’t want Tom to be the bad guy in the story. Men are so often painted as “evil” in situations like this. I didn’t want Tom to be that way.
Other points of interest:
1) Trent’s reaction to Erica at the end may seem far-fetched, but I don’t know...I could picture him being a doting father. The way he takes care of Jane shows that he’s got a very caring, protective side to him. I don’t think it’s so unlikely that he’d act the way he did.
2) Jane and Helen. Helen really seems to like Jane on the show. Maybe it’s because she’s Daria’s only friend, but I think it’s more than that. I think she likes her. So, it doesn’t seem too “out there” to assume that Jane might have some respect for her as well.
3) Monique had a crush on some football star named Tommy? I couldn’t POSSIBLY have been referring to Tommy Sherman, could I? *Evil laugh* I guess you’ll never know! ;-)
4) Finally, you may be wondering why I didn’t deal much with Jane and Daria’s friendship problems. Several reasons. First and foremost...I DIDN’T FEEL LIKE IT! Secondly...that’s not really what the fic was about. It wasn’t that important (that’s also why I didn’t resolve the Daria/Tom issue). Can we say “sequel”? Ok, probably not, but there is always a slight possibility. And lastly...Daria and Jane weren’t speaking to each other. Jane didn’t even want to hear her name, much less talk to her. So there weren’t really any interactions to write about...until the end where they were friends again. “But wasn’t that kind of a quick fix?” you may be asking. Hel-lo! They worked it out over nine months. It took a long time. So certainly not what I’d call a speedy solution!
Anyway, I think I’ve rambled on enough. Hope you liked the fic. If you have any comments, I’d love to hear them. Email me at email@example.com.