Yeah, another product of a sleepless night, it's time for some fanfic. Yay!
If I had brought up the baby again, I had no doubt in my mind that Ellen would wring my neck dry. She came back the next day after her class. She looked tired and disheveled, but otherwise normal. She tossed herself into the armchair with T-V of the encyclopedia and stayed there well into the evening.
Chaz, on the other hand, sat in a completely different part of the house (the kitchen), with a grimy tub filled to the top with ice and beer at his side so he wouldn't have to keep getting up. I sat by him (because he was at the table) and started on my midterm speech about llama preservation. He chugged beer and kept crushing the empty cans against his head. It finally became too irritating for me.
"Can you stop?"
"Bet I can smush a full one," he slurred with a drunken grin, completely ignoring my question.
"Hey, now that you're smashed," I said, laying down the offensive pen, "can I talk to you about last night?"
He stopped trying to flatten the drink against his ear and a dark shadow fell over his grimacing face.
"Like, did you have to be that mean to her?"
"Are you a kid or something?" What?
"No, Chazwick, I'm more of an adult than you are these days. I just can't believe you were completely sober last night and still acted that way." Wait…no, he had a beer. I was wrong. Still, he wasn't near as wasted as he was at this time. "I mean, she's your girlfriend and that's your child. I don't understand."
Chaz stared at me, confused (and a bit crosseyed). He hiccupped and belched before saying, "She ain't my girlfriend."
I blinked. "What?" My turn to be utterly befuddled. After last night, I thought they had just gotten really good at hiding it all this time, and didn't want me to know. Maybe somehow they got it in their heads I had my own crush on Ellen (which was partly true, but not to near the extent of Chaz's) or Chaz (I had been accused of that back in high school with a guy called Rick; there I go with tangents again), and wanted to avoid offending me, so said nothing. Maybe they were just sort of ashamed of that night and wanted to take it more slowly. But I thought for sure that having consummated they were an item of some sort!
"What do you mean, she isn't your girlfriend?"
Chaz had given up on crushing the can and had instead started to drink (by drink, I mean pour all over his face because he'd already chugged about half a twelve-pack). He put it down for a minute as he looked right into my eyes (impressive for a man over the limit) and said seriously, "She isn't. We never got together."
"So did you consummate?"
"Yeah, I consumed it," he said, attempting another swig of the beer. I assumed that he was referring to the drink.
"No, not consume. Consumate." He kept staring at me. "Did you sleep with her, is what I'm asking."
"Ohhhh. What didn't you just say that? I thought you asked if I ate 'er or something. Yeah, I fucked 'er a couple nights."
"And you didn't think that could get her pregnant?"
"So she's pregnant?"
"I don't know if she is anymore!" I said, lowering my voice. "She wanted an abortion last night, and not seeing her all morning, she may damn well have set one up. Maybe even gotten one, if it was a slow day!"
K?! Really? I just tell you your not-girlfriend wanted to abort your child, and all you say is "K"?! Even drunk, that's pretty low!
"What do you mean, 'K'?"
"So she got rid of it. Fine."
"No, I don't know if she did. I tried to talk her out of it last night and I think I got her convinced. But does anyone really know what that woman's thinking?"
"Talking about me still, are we?" Oops. I forgot to lower my voice back. I think K threw me a bit and it slipped my mind that she was in the adjacent room.
"SO WHAT?" Chaz yelled. "WE CAN TALK ABOUT WHATEVE' WE WANT IN HERE."
It went quiet again.
"I want a sandwich," Chaz said.
"Go make one."
"Eln," Chaz called, "come make me a sandwich."
"Make it yourself, you dick."
"What did you say about my dick?" Chaz grinned drunkenly (she couldn't see it). "You want it? You can have if you make me a sandwich."
"No, Eln." I'm starting to assume that's become somewhat of a pet name for her. "The point is to fuck you."
No response. She knew he was drunk, and that he wasn't going to stop until well after the hangover.
"Fin, go make me a sandwich."
I gathered my speech and decided to work on the coffee table instead. Ellen was still curled up with her encyclopedia volume.
"Is there a reason you two are in there gossiping about me while drunk?"
"I'm not drunk," I said defensively.
"He sure as hell is."
"Ellen, I watched him down at least two beers. I know he's drunk."
"You haven't answered my question, Phineaus. Why are you talking about me?"
"I wanted to see what he thought about this whole ordeal. Half the story is his, after all."
"What's there to know? He got some. I got something else."
She hadn't looked up once. I had to ask.
"So, uh, Ellen." She flicked her eyes at me. "When's your appointment?"
Had she forgotten? "Nothing."
She returned to her reading. After a few minutes (during which I returned to my speech) she said, "Oh, you're giving up? I should make an appointment after all?"
"No!" I said hastily, my full attention back on topic. "I-I had just assumed, since you were late coming in this morning -"
"I stayed over at Lucy's." Who Lucy was, I didn't know. "She's pregnant, too. Her sister-in-law's pretty excited. Both of them, actually. Imagine, being excited about a baby."
I was excited, actually. I bent my head over my essay, as to hide my face blushing.
"But, she seems to like it. Both of them come from a large family," Ellen went on. "Lucy has three little brothers, did you know that?" I still didn't know who Lucy was. "I think I'll settle there after graduation," she finished, straying from her topic.
"With the baby?"
She didn't answer. I wasn't getting anything straight from this woman; it was both worrying and aggravating me. Still, she said "too". That probably meant she was, in fact, still pregnant. I hoped, anyway, and was afraid to push it with her, for fear she might take it away. I was pretty sure she knew I was excited about the baby, the same way Lucy's baby's aunt was. So, was I it's "uncle"? More excitement. I went back in the kitchen and sat at the table with Chazwick, who'd finally passed out, cuddling a head of lettuce.
Maybe Chaz didn't consider Ellen his girlfriend, but I did notice the Frost Queen becoming much warmer toward him, at least when he was sober. Let me restate what I put at the beginning of the last chapter: Ellen really didn't like living with us. Maybe not with those words, but she had absolutely no problem letting us know that through our entire sophomore year. But this year, whatever the case, she had begun to warm up to us. But, like I said, mostly Chaz. I think she was angry at me for guilting her out of her abortion. But she still hadn't talked herself back into it, so that must mean something.
The end of our junior year was approaching. As if the poor girl didn't have enough to stress about, our final exams were coming up. I was a Poly-Sci major: as long as I could argue it, I'd be fine. Chaz...was a... I don't remember anymore, but it wasn't likely he would've cared no matter what major he was in. Ellen was an Econ and always became high-strung as hell when exams of any kind come around. Heaven help you if you had the misfortune to be around her during exams. She was that straight-A, honor roll student in high school, and had a tendency to completely lose her mind if she couldn't recite the textbook by heart.
"I don't understand z-values, still," she said, her first stage frustration kicking in around mid-April. "It was a freshman class and I still don't get it."
Chaz and me ignored her, like we did every semester.
"And now I have this to worry about," she went on, thumping her hand on her middle, "going off in the middle of exams."
"Fin," Chaz said, not taking his eyes off his reading (yes, exams even got Chaz to read), "when was Power's party?"
"Right before term, Chaz."
"How many months roughly?"
Ellen shut up after that.
She also had a bad habit of obsessive-compulsively checking her grades. She was on the computer looking at them after the exams were finally over and let out a shriek like someone had just cut off her hand. Turned out, she received a C in an important class. I thought she was being murdered.
"Don't DO that!" I screamed. "Nearly gave me a heart attack!"
"I just had one! Look at that! Do you realize how poorly I did on the final to achieve THAT?"
I slapped the back of her head. She called abuse. I called her bluff; I barely touched her. Chaz called for a sandwich. Ellen called out obscenities.
Since we all live so far from our homes, we just live near campus during the summers. I was seriously considering leaving this time, except I had a crippling fear that Ellen would do something stupid to the baby while I was gone. Though, no self-respecting clinic would do it to a midterm baby, she could still induce other ways to kill it, even by accident. I wound up keeping a closer eye than normal on her. Which didn't pass unnoticed.
"Watch the stairs," I said one evening, following her out. She wanted to go visiting toward the end of July and found the seat on the beater didn't go back far enough to accommodate a woman her size, so she made me driver her.
"Fin. I don't have to be taught how to be pregnant. I make the adjustments I need just fine by myself."
"Are you sure you don't want to drive?" I said, getting in behind the wheel.
"Of COURSE I want to drive. I just can't fit."
She directed me into Pleasantview and in front of this gothic mansion. This was her friend's house?
"You can come in, if you want. If nothing else, I think you'll like the little girl here."
"Nah, I was thinking about looking around town. We all know we'll wind up here after school. I want to see the neighborhood."
"Well, like I said, around eleven, come back." She looked like she wanted to continue. The door was open and her one leg was out.
"You need help?"
"I said I don't need help being pregnant, Fin." I got out anyway, went around and held out my hand to her. I like to consider myself a gentleman, and this was something they did, right? And if she didn't like it, she didn't have to take it like she did. "You never stop."
"Well, it is my fault you're like this," I joked. "Least I can do is get the baby out of the seat."
Her brow furrowed but she smiled in spite. "Then carry it in, too." She took my hands and pushed her belly up with them. I laughed nervously and removed my hands. She still had that look on her face. I turned to go back in the car. "Hey." I turned back to her. She approached me.
"Thanks for driving." It sounded like it was painful for her to say. Come to think of it, it took a lot for Ellen to thank or apologize (I've still never heard her apologize for anything). She reached up on her toes and pulled my shoulders down closer to her height. And proceeded to kiss me on the cheek. She smiled at me and then took off slowly for the door.
My face burnt where she touched it. I got back in the beater and sat there for several minutes contemplating. Now I was confused. I knew she kept the baby out of love, not for it necessarily, but for someone else. I had assumed these last four months it was because it was Chaz's baby and she was in love with him.
Now I wondered if since I had suggested she keep it, she did because she was in love with me?
Thoughts? I'll be revisiting Chazwick's responses closer to the due date, because being drunk wasn't the best time for Phineaus to conduct an interview.