Released: October 1999

Story: 'Strings Attached' Part 1

Summary: Oh god... how to explain this... It's a story of a woman and... a woman and the uberXena's view and childbearing... I think you just have to read this one and make up your own mind.

Disclaimer: Not really. No gratuitous violence. Subtext, phff, yeah. Ohh, language, ..... that gets a little gritty on occasion. Sex... hmm... nothing major. But, because of it's subtextual content, if you're under 18 come back when you are.

My Nitpicking Column: I'm not really sure where I came up with the idea for this one. But it makes me laugh when I read it and that's good enough. Of note, it's half narration/ half regular dialogue.


Strings Attached

By Inyx

Chapter 1

Me and My Best Friend

Why you should never let your best friend drink and then leave her alone with a man

Jessie has been my best friend forever. Well, maybe not forever. More like the past seven years. But in terms of friendship that's pretty good. Especially since my track record in getting friends sucks. My mother always blamed my cynic like nature on my father, who is dead and can't defend himself. I was four when he passed away and don't really remember him so what can I say? Except you'd think my mom would like me more since she married a cynic.

Jessie on the other hand is a cheery type person. Not really cheery like those housewives you see at the local PTA meetings whose minds have reverted to a second childhood, or I probably would have decked her when we first met. Not that I go to PTA meetings... well I went once because my mother made me..... never mind. Anyway, everyone likes Jessie, everyone. Can I stress that enough? Sometimes I still try to figure out why she decided to stick with me. I mean I'm not ugly, or repulsive. Most people say I'm down right gorgeous. You know, dark hair, blue eyes, long legs... But I guess that's in the eye of the beholder since I have been called the proverbial 'ice queen bitch'. I know I'm moody, and not the friendliest person and I asked Jessie about that after we had been friends for almost a year. She laughed so hard I thought she was going to pass out. Come to think about it, she never answered my question. I guess I never really thought about it after that.

So what makes our friendship work? Beats the hell out of me. But if I had to guess, I would say intuition. We pretty much know each other. Like a married couple without the sexual relationship or the backbiting. And that brings me to the main point of my whole story.

I hate people's first impressions about the two of us. I know it's the 90's, and everyone's loves the other person, which in a way revolts me because there are a lot of people that I just hate to death. I won't even get into that. My point is that everyone sees the two of us and assumes that we're some gay couple. I don't know which annoys me more. That people are so judgmental that you have to be gay to have a girlfriend, or that Jessie thinks it's funny and let's me do the swearing and yelling at the people who mention it.

Even our families think that we're an 'item' half the time. That's not so bad, except that my family likes Jessie more than me and her family can't stand me.... we really do sound married, don't we?

Well, I guess if I was gonna be gay then it might as well be her. But it's not likely to happen. We both find boys way to interesting. And I do mean boys. I'm in my mid thirties and Jessie just barely turned thirty, and the boys...they're still living in their teens as far as their minds are concerned. And I don't care which mind you choose to judge them by, they're still boys.

We've shared an apartment for six years now. It's in a nice section of the city. It's not too far from where either of us work. And we find we spend a lot of time together. That includes bar hopping which we do on occasion when something goes sour in the daily scheme of things and we need to get it off our chests.

Why do I mention that in particular? I knew I should have driven Jessie home that night. Not that I was in a better state myself. But I'm pretty anal retentive in some aspects, and living to see the next day is one of them. Jess, on the other hand can't hold her liquor to save her life. And you know... I don't know if she regretted that night or not.

"And where have you been young lady?" a voice whispered in her ear.

"Oh god..." Jessie groaned as she shoved her pillow over her head.

"No, last time I checked I was just Kelly."

Jessie slowly turned her head and cracked open an eye to the harsh sunlight streaming through the windows only to quickly close it again. "Oh god..." she groaned again.

"Well, if you insist, then I guess you can call me that," came the amused reply.

"Shut up," Jessie whispered. "Too loud." She jammed the pillow down harder to the sounds of a deep chuckle nearby.

"You shouldn't drink so much."

"Kelly. Shut up."

Kelly looked to her smaller, blond companion. "Then stop smothering yourself." She grasped the pillow and pulled it off even though Jessie tried to keep a hold of it.

Jessie grunted as she reached for it. Kelly rolled her eyes and handed it back then shut the curtains tight so the room was pretty dark. Jessie mumbled something that sounded like 'thank you' but she wasn't certain. "So..." Kelly said sitting down in a seat nearby. "Where were you?"

Jessie only made a noise. She had gotten in a couple of hours ago and was still out of it.

Kelly leaned back in her seat stretching her long legs over the edge of the bed and poking her friend in the side. "Jjjjeeessssssss...." she began to drawl out catching the pillow Jessie hurled at her.

"You don't have to know everything about my life," Jessie croaked back hoarsely.

"You were with a boy, weren't you?" Kelly accused. Jessie didn't say anything and Kelly had her answer. "Hell, Jess. You musta really been smashed to let one of them see you all naked and..."

"SHUT UP!" Jessie yelled as she covered her eyes and winced at the pain. "Oh god..."

"Yes, my child?" Kelly said solemnly with a hint of humor.

"What did I do?!" Jessie groaned.

Kelly grinned. "You let a boy into your..."

"Don't!" Jessie whispered. "Don't say it."


"OH GOD!" Jessie muttered loudly. "I hate that word! You know I hate that word!"

"Then you shouldn't of let it happen," Kelly said sensibly.

Jessie looked over at her. "Bitch."

"Whore." Kelly countered as she bit her lip so she didn't laugh.

Jessie glared at her. "Oooo..."

Kelly laughed this time. "I'm so scared, miss 'I-can-drink-as-much-as-you'. I knew I should have driven you home, you saucy little vixen you. I leave you to fend for yourself and this is what happens. I may just have to ground you so you learn a lesson from this."

Jessie shook her head slowly, wishing the pounding would go away. "Why are you being so cheery?"

"Because you're not, and someone has to take up the slack or the world as we know it might collapse." Jessie looked at her. "That and I found you bra and... underwear," she said with a grin, avoiding the dreaded word. "Hanging out of your coat pocket, which was conveniently thrown in the middle of the hallway." She tickled her a little with her toes and Jessie shifted away from them. "And once you're back to your normal cheery self, I'll go back to my cynical self and everything will be just as god intended." She looked thoughtful. "Oh wait, I'm god now, aren't I?"

Jessie closed her eye. "I hate it when you're happy."

Kelly smiled. "So do I."

Jessie groaned again. "Oh god. I have to go to my mother's for dinner tonight."

Kelly winced. "Ick."

"She's not that bad."

"Says you."

Right here I'd like to interject into my story and say. I can not, I will not, ever like Jessie's mother. Her dad is okay, but... ugh, just thinking about having to see someone more cheery than Jess is just revolting. It wouldn't even be that bad. But that ten million dollar smile is only pasted on when Jess forces me to come with her since her mother doesn't like me.

I'm not even going to tell you what happened that evening since Jessie weaseled me into taking her on my bike. A Harley Low Rider in midnight blue that my brother drools over every time he sees it. And I know what you're thinking, and you'd be right. There's the scuffed black boots. Mine even have the chains on them. The worn in jeans and the well used leather jacket. And I proudly wear them into the little cute burb town just outside the city limits where Jess grew up.

I am Mrs. Farah Bowden's worse nightmare. I took her daughter away to the city. I showed her there was more than settling down at twenty and having twelve children and waiting on your spouse hand and foot. The only things that would have put her in her grave was if I was a guy, Jess was pregnant with my child and Jess had taken to wearing a leather bra for a shirt. Two out of three ain't bad.

Okay, I'm kidding about that part. But I'm tall enough that if I didn't have long hair and the softer features people would think I was a guy. Most of the times 'Farah', snort, thinks that I am anyway. I clomp into her house, sit in a fake chippendale chair and stretch my long legs out and stare. She hates it. Her eyes turn a little hostile and that fake smile comes up when she asks me about work.

What do I do, you ask? I'm not telling. But it bugs the hell out of her mother that I am.

So here we are, two months after this incident. Our lives are back to normal. Or so I thought.

Now everyone has their favorite curse word to use when they're upset. I personally try a variety of them for different occasions. Jessie favorite is God. Not that she's trying to being disrespectful if there is one out there. But I don't think she dares to expand, for fear one day she will curse in front of her mother and then all hell would break loose. I keep reminding her that she's thirty years old and she can do whatever the hell she wants. Then she holds up a picture of her mother in her short, curly doo, the proper flowery dress that comes just past her knee with the matching one inch heels. The perfunctory string of pearls around her neck and red lipstick that's just a tiny too bright for her coloring.

I cringe.

Point taken.

"Oh my god!" Jess uttered with a disbelief that was just below the decibels of a jet plane.

Kelly came knocking on the bathroom door. "Jess?! Are you okay?!"

The door jerked opened and Jessie looked like someone had hit her in the stomach she was so pale. "Oh... god, Kelly..." She looked scared and excited at the same time.


"I'm..." She shook her head. "I can't believe it..." she muttered.

"What in the fuck is wrong!!!?" Kelly said through gritted teeth. She handed her a little white stick. The thing was blue... "This isn't what I think it is," Kelly said as she looked up at her. "Is it?"

Jess nodded. "God, Kelly. I'm pregnant."

I honestly don't remember what I said or even what happened for the next few minutes. But I blinked and found I had been transported to the kitchen table. I had the test stick clenched in my fist like I was going to beat someone with it, and my heart was going at least mach fourteen. My best friend, Jessie. The one who I gave my heart and soul to.... was with child.

"Kelly, are you okay?" Jessie asked softly, looked concerned at her friend's still form.

Kelly looked up at her in a haze. "You're pregnant."

Jessie smiled. "Very good. And it only took about ten minutes for that to sink in."

Kelly looked around. "I was wondering how I made it out here."

Jessie chuckled as she took the test stick from her white knuckled fingers. "Let... me... take... that..." she got it away from her. She looked at it again and shook her head then dumped it in the trash.

Kelly's brow furrowed. "What did you do that for?"


"Your mother's going to want proof." Not to mention the full blown conniption she'd have afterward. Kelly could hear it already. 'Pregnant and unmarried?! Ernie Wheeler, that ugly supermarket bagger that lives down the street isn't married. I can get a wedding date set up before this will mar the Bowden name!'

Jessie looked perplexed at the trash can. "You know. I don't have to tell her."

Kelly snorted. "Uh huh, and say... six months from now when you're as big as the Goodyear blimp? Then what?"

Jessie scowled at that thought as she looked between Kelly and the trash. "I could say I've gained a lot of weight."

"And all overweight people come out with children from this?" Kelly grinned. "Even as ditzy as your mother is. She's not going to believe that."

Jessie frown at her. "My mom's not ditzy!" Kelly raised an eyebrow at her as she got up and took out a carton of milk. "Not completely. Get a glass!" Kelly almost had the opening of the carton to her mouth.

"Yes, mom." She chuckled as she pulled out a jelly jar glass from the cupboard with Kermit the Frog on that had seen better days. "Where did we get this?"

Jessie smiled. "It's Kermit," she said, as if that explained everything.

Kelly nodded slowly and set the glass on the counter then got a normal glass out and filled it. "I can see that, Jess. But the thing is ancient." She put the milk back and swung the door shut with her hip and sat at the table. She drank half of it before she set the glass down. "You aren't going to go PTA on me are you? Because I'm not going to let your IQ drop to the level of a bean."

Jessie picked up the glass and ran her fingers over the chipped and faded image of her favorite Sesame Street character. "No..." She set the glass back down and looked to her friend. "What am I going to do?"

Kelly gave her a firm look. "What? I'm no longer a part of your life anymore?"

Jessie frowned. "No. You're a big part of it."

"So then what's this 'I' stuff?"

Jessie sat down across from Kelly and drank the rest of her milk. "I know how much you like kids, Kelly."

Kelly chewed a little on her lower lip. Small children... scared her. She's rather wrestle with a poisonous snake than a two year old. "I'll manage."

Jessie's eyebrow went up. "Uh huh," she said disbelieving. "Some sticky handed, snotty faced child with a soggy cracker clenched in one fist."

Kelly turned about the same pale white that Jessie had been just a few minutes ago. "I'll learn."

Jessie nodded. "Yeah, about like I'm ready to go skydiving right this moment."

Kelly sighed and leaned back in her seat. "I know you won't have an abortion." Jessie looked a little offended at that. "And it's most likely you would never give it up."

"No, I wouldn't," Jessie agreed.

Kelly shrugged. "Then what choice do I have?" She leaned forward and took Jessie's hand. "Whatever you decide, Jess. I'm there."

Jessie smiled and nodded shyly. "Thanks."

Kelly nodded. "Diapers... I don't know about."

"You'll think of something."

Chapter 2

Family & Food

Why snickers and kosher pickles do not belong together

It had taken two weeks before we both settled into the idea of their being a child in our lives. Jessie was much more content with it than I was. But I didn't want Jessie out of my life, even moving out was not something I would like. I was ten times moodier before she came into my life and if she left... I think a large part of me would die. Then she decided when she displayed the tiny start of her stomach enlarging that is was time to tell her mother. May I break from my form and steal from my friend for a brief moment. OH GOD... Thank you.

"I want you to come inside with me," Jessie almost begged.

Kelly looked at the actual white picket fence surrounding a perfectly painted white house with green shutters and she could see the flowery curtains hanging in the windows. She glanced at her best friend then back to the house with a pained look on her face. "But SHE'S in there, Jess."

Jessie sighed heavily. "She's the one I came to see, Kelly. You know that. That's why you drove me over was to see her... remember?"

Kelly leaned back on the seat of her bike and Jessie gave her a hug from where she sat behind her. "I plead temporary insanity for that moment in time."

Jessie smiled and patted her head consolingly. "We won't stay that long."

Kelly scowled and got off her bike after Jessie, grunting. "I hope not."

There she was... the epitome of everything that gives me the creeps. She's the president of the local garden club. She goes golfing on Saturdays with her bridge club. She belongs to the ladies gym in the center of the 'burbs, and she is treasurer of the city's PTA..

We have decided, non verbally, but from our attitudes around each other that we are arch nemesis'. We act cordially for Jessie's sake, but other than that... Let's just say that it would be cold day in hell before I gave that woman a warm, fuzzy hug.

There are two things wrong with this house that Jessie grew up in. One, she grew up in it. I just can't see it. I mean, in a way I can, but that place is just so... clean. I always itch to just put one little speck of dirt somewhere so it wasn't so perfect. And two, SHE lived there. I feel for Jess's dad. I watch that show on PBS, the British show with the annoying Bucket woman. I wonder if they're related...

"Hi mom," Jessie said cheerfully as she hugged her mother close.

Farah Bowden looked over her daughter's shoulder at the tall, looming form. The pasty smile came on. "Hello sweetheart. I see you brought Kelly with you."

"Yeah." Jessie let her go. "She drove me over."

Farah nodded slowly looking at the death trap called a motorcycle in her driveway. "Kelly," she said politely.

"Hey," Kelly grunted and stared at her.

Farah's eyes went a little hard but she kept the smile on as she turned to her daughter. "It's early in the week, honey. I didn't expect to see you here."

Jessie nodded. "I hope it's okay."

"Of course, it's still your home." She stressed the last two words with a look of contempt at Kelly who didn't even look at her. Kelly moved in, striding to the living room where she would take a section of the couch and stretch.

Kelly snorted to herself as she looked around the prim and proper living room. If someone actually 'lived' in it she'd be surprised. She glanced up as Paul Bowden, Jessie's father came in and saw her and his daughter and his wife.

"Oh, uh... we have company," he said uncertainly. He looked like he wanted to leave.

Kelly had to give Paul points. At least he was nice and he dressed comfortably. Or at least as much as his wife would let him. Farah smiled. "Why don't you sit down and join us, dear?" It was a command, not an offer.

Paul nodded a little jerkily. "Sure, why not." He sat across from Kelly and gave her a short smile. Kelly did about the same. It was a war zone, and regardless of his feelings for Kelly he was on the enemy's side. Jessie came over and hugged him then sat by Kelly. "So... what brings the two of you out here?" he asked.

Jessie looked to the both of them as her mother sat next to him. "I have some news."

Farah slowly looked between her bright and vivid daughter, and the dark gloom that sat next to her... staring... "I hope it's good news?"

Jessie nodded a little. "It is. And sort of a shock."

Paul looked to her. "A shock."

Jessie kept up with the nod. "Yeah..."

Kelly looked to her friend. She nudged her a little and Jessie leaned into her. She couldn't do it. Kelly didn't blame her with her demon witch of a mother waiting. She put an arm about Jessie and hugged her close. "Jess is pregnant."

It was deathly silent. Kelly watched as Farah's face became somber, then the fury began to build. Then the cold hazel eyes turned on her. "You goddamn bitch!" The proper woman started to yell.

Jessie's eyes went wide at her mother swearing. She had never heard her do that before in her life. Kelly gave a tiny triumphant smile as she leaned over and kissed Jessie's forehead.

That only threw fuel on the fire and Farah stood up jerking away from Paul's hand as he tried to comfort and restrain her from doing anything stupid. "I knew it! I knew you would ruin my daughter's life, you... you... bitch!"

Kelly snorted. "Don't get any points for originality." She winced at the hard elbow in her side from Jessie.

"I... you..." Farah started and began a whole tirade of half sentences and swear words. Bitch was the predominant one. Finally she stopped and pointed a finger right in Kelly's face. "It would just be like you to go and get my daughter this way! Get out of my house and don't come back!!!"

Jessie was in shock and she saw Kelly rise to the challenge as the towering woman stood over her mother by a good five inches. "Listen here you motherf..." she stared with a glint in her eyes.

Jessie stood and clapped a hand over Kelly's mouth. "We're going," she said firmly. She gave Kelly a slight push to get her moving and she did storming out. She turned to her mother with sad eyes. "I'll come back when Kelly's welcome."

Kelly swore the whole way home. Most of it to herself since she could feel Jessie sobbing behind her as she held on around her waist. Kelly slowed at a stop light and turned slightly to look at her friend. "You okay?"

Jessie shook her head where it was pressed against her back. "It didn't even matter to her that I was going to have a baby, Kelly." The light changed and Kelly bit her lip but moved them towards home.

Here was our rift. A tiny one but still that. I wanted to rip her mother's head off and do some unmentionable things with it, and Jessie went into a depression. No matter what I tried, it couldn't bring her out. Jessie finally learned that her mother's goal in life was to separate us. Everything else took second place.

So there we were, I'd go to work and then spend a few hours at the local gym beating the shit out of all the equipment. Jessie would lay in bed and cry.

Now I know about pregnancies. Jessie dragged me to the midwife with her for checkups. And depression and mood swings were normal, but I couldn't pull her out and it was making me mad.

So... I did the only thing I could think of. I had to confront... HER. Now I'm not stupid. If I went to her home she'd probably try and kill me with a big butcher knife. So, where was the next best place? Her gym... And may I ask, what's the point of exercising if they all go out for doughnuts and coffee afterwards?

Six in the morning and forty women all ranging in size between anorexic thin and filling a leotard a little too much, pushed and stretched and felt those muscles burning when Kelly strolled in. She was not looking her best. She hadn't slept much in over a week and she could see the cause of it all up in the front of the group. The aerobics instructor almost fell off her platform when she saw the sleek and gorgeous brunette stride in.

Kelly traversed around the outside of the group and the rest of them caught a look at her as well. She stopped when she knew she was in plain sight of Jessie's mother and she waited with a feral glint in her eyes as she stared.

Almost the same look was returned until Farah couldn't stand it anymore and stopped then she motioned to the far side of the room away from everyone else. Kelly followed her. Farah stood with her arms folded over the top of her flowered leotard. "What?!" she hissed.

"You need to talk with Jessie," Kelly replied in the same tone.

"And why should I do that?! You're her life now! And she's having a child to boot! What in the hell were you thinking?!!" Her voice had risen a little and she bit her sentence off as they began to get attention from the other women.

Kelly glared and stopped herself from swearing a blue streak. "Listen, we don't like each other..."

"You got that right!"

"In fact we pretty much hate each other's guts, and that's fine." Kelly growled. "But we both love Jessie and for the past week she's been in her room crying. She hasn't gone to work, she's not eating anything and I can't get her out of it." Kelly saw that for the first time Farah looked concerned. "So make up your mind. Do you hate me more than you love her? And don't go saying the child is mine. I didn't get her that way, but I'm going to be a part of it's life. But that will all be moot if she wastes away into nothing." Farah glanced at her and Kelly grimaced as she warily held out her hand. "For the time being, truce."

Farah glared. "Only for Jessie's, sake." Kelly nodded. "You're still a bitch."

Kelly snorted. "Better than a tight assed motherfucker."

Farah snorted back. "I always wondered what you were calling me under your breath."

Kelly released her hand. "Don't go getting nice on me. I may have to like you, and I don't think I could live with that."

I stayed away for the morning and afternoon as Jessie's mom worked things out with her. I don't know what she said but apparently it worked. And I shudder to say it, but I'm grateful. Slowly Jessie began to return to her exuberantly cheerful self and I got to sleep at night. Then she decided since I was part of this child's future we needed to tell my mom.

The differences between her mother and my own... it's like trying to jump the grand canyon. My mom is laid back. I think she was a hippie in the sixties but she denies it. And sometimes I think my mom wishes I was a man so that Jessie could be her daughter-in-law. They love the same things. Cooking and food are first and foremost. They're both friendly and chatty with strangers and very social. Sometimes I still think I live with my mom.

I grew up in a very different area of the city than Jessie. She had the 'burbs around at the edge of the city, and I grew up in the middle of the downtown area. My mother owns a small motel in the lower east side. It's small, well kept and it'll cost you thirty bucks a night, and anything broken is extra. My dad owned it until he died, then my mom took it on as income as we lived in the manager's rooms. I spent the better part of my teenage years sleeping on the couch in the small living room because my brother snores and I'd be damned if I was going to share a room that smelled like teenage boy smell.

Don't know what I'm talking about? Here's an experiment for you: Get two or more boys, (must be between the ages of twelve and eighteen), and stick them in a room where they spend more than three hours doing something pointless with little or no ventilation, and cracking a window hadn't occurred to them. That could be a punishment for serial killers on death row. It also deterred me from dating any of them until oral hygiene was resolutely drilled into their single tracked minds.

Did you try it? It's disgusting, isn't it? Travis, that's my older brother, says he could never smell anything. The guy didn't wear deodorant until he was seventeen because he thought he didn't need it. And yet, he could smell pizza two doors down.

But then I've always been a neat freak, maybe that's why I have a hard time with him. Even my mother can't explain that. Don't get me wrong, I like playing in the dirt and mud, and I believe there should be a small layer of filmy scum on the shower door from hard water. You know, the healthy dirt in a home or on your body. But there are things that were just never meant to be put together, or to be left alone for long periods of time.

First, and I go back to the days of my brother's teenage years, which I still don't believe he has left yet. Underwear. I had to say it but he'd leave it in the bathroom, on his bedroom floor and it was so old from being worn for a single period of time, I'm surprised it wasn't a sentient life form by the time my mother dragged it out from underneath his bed.

Second, anything children under the age of five have in the vicinity of, or on their bodies. And I'm not going to explain that one except to say that my brother has three kids, two under the age of five. I cringe going there. Not that I don't love my niece and nephews, I do. But I have to bite my tongue when one comes up with a snotty face and decides they want a kiss.

Kelly drove her bike into the manager's parking spaces seeing that her brother Travis' car was there also. There was a huge difference in what her brother considered standard quality driving and what she did. Kelly cringed as she parked her well cared for motorcycle next to his rust trap of a Chevy Citation.

Jessie sat up from where she leaned her head against Kelly's strong back. It had been a nice ride. She felt better than she had in the past few weeks and her mother and Kelly were sort of getting along. Now she was just tired, and hungry all the time. "Hey, Travis and Monica are here."

Kelly nodded and looked to her leather jacket and light colored jeans. "I hope I get out of there looking about how I went in."

Jessie chuckled softly as she patted her friends lean stomach in sympathy. Kelly had some patience for children. But not really messy ones. And Travis' kids took after their father. And Monica... Jessie thought her kids had just simply worn her out to where she didn't care anymore. It wasn't like a dirty face was going to kill them. She looked to the scowl on Kelly's face. It would kill her though, just from the anxiety of having to see it. "Come on, Kel... I don't get it. You can handle a guy puking up crap, but you can't stand a little mushed up graham cracker on a kid?"

Kelly looked back at her with a look of dread. "That's not the same."

Jessie chuckled again as she swung off the back of the bike. "I know, but I just wanted to see your face."

Kelly gave her a look and Jessie took off running only to have Kelly's longer legs catch up with her and everyone in a mile radius could hear Jessie scream in laughter as Kelly pinned her on the ground and tickled her until she gave in.

The door to the manager's apartment opened and the two women on the sparse grass in front of it glance up. Dora Jean Harlow looked to her daughter and companion. Her daughter, as usual, in her tight jeans, black boots and leather jacket straddled her smaller companion as she held her hands in one of her own and ran her fingers along Jessie's side.

"I GIVE!" Jessie yelled between gasps for breath.

Dora Jean shook her head as her daughter gave a wicked chuckle and tickled her stomach for good measure then got off. "Good thing," Kelly said. "I was going to go deaf in a minute." She held out her hand and helped her up. "Hi, mom."

Dora Jean rolled her eyes as Kelly put a friendly arm about Jessie's shoulders and hugged her tight. "Hello, you two." She smiled at Jessie and the happy glint in her eyes. The two hugged and Kelly watched as her mother drew Jessie into the apartment as the two talked.

"I don't even rank a hug?"

Travis snorted from the couch that he lazed across. "The only one you hug is your girlfriend. And she's nicer than you."

Kelly glared at him. His stress on girlfriend meant exactly what everybody else thought. "Maybe because she smells human and not like a jackass."

"Kelly! Not in front of the children!" her mother called back to her. Travis grinned as he drank from a bottle of beer. He was at least forty pounds overweight all of it in his stomach and he dressed about like the average bum on the streets. Faded sweats a little too big and a holey t shirt about two sizes too small.

Kelly looked around and found the place empty. "There aren't any in here!" Which was strange in a way.

"Mon took them to the park for a little while," Travis told her.

Kelly gave him a look as she took her jacket off and stuck it up high where little hands couldn't get a hold of it. "I notice you didn't get your lazy ass up to help."

"Kelly!" her mother called out again from the small kitchen in warning.

"What?!" Kelly yelled back.

"Just don't!" came the reply.

Damn it! She hated that! Her mother didn't have to have an excuse, it was 'just don't', or 'because I said so'. She left Travis alone and went to stand in the doorway of the kitchen watching as her mother and Jessie bonded. They were discussing the cooking shows on TV. Kelly watched them too, mostly to see if the things on it were edible.

Travis made a grunt behind her to move out of the way. She did slightly and it was a stretch for his growing beer belly to get through. "Thanks," he said sarcastically.

She snorted. "No problem."

Jessie looked to Kelly's family. She liked them, especially Dora Jean. And Travis wasn't so bad, he just rubbed Kelly the wrong way all the time. "Kelly and I have an announcement to make."

Dora Jean promptly sat down in a chair next to Jessie and held her hand to her chest. "You're getting married!"

Kelly gave her an incredulous look. "We're not gay, mom!"

Jessie smiled. "I'm pregnant!"

Dora Jean covered her mouth in shock. "Oh, Jessie!" She hugged her close and glared at her daughter over Jessie's shoulder. "And you said you weren't gay."

Kelly shook her head slightly as she stared at the ceiling. "We aren't! I'm not!"

"She's having your child, Kelly! How can you not say that!" her mother scolded her.

"It's not mine! I can't get her..." Kelly waved her hand at Jessie. "like that!"

Travis snorted. "Good luck, Jess. You're going to need it if it's anything like panty wipe over here."

Kelly glared. "It's not mine!"

"Yeah, right. Most of the guys at the factory think you have more testosterone than a bull in heat," Travis snorted from a new bottle of beer.

Jessie bit her tongue so she didn't laugh as Kelly drew herself up to her full six foot one height. "Well I guess that's more than can be said for you, isn't it?" she said in a dry tone as she arched an eyebrow at him.

Travis looked at her. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Well if you can't figure it out Sherlock, I'm not going to tell you."

Jessie stood up. She could see Kelly was getting mad. And Travis wasn't far behind and then the two would fight and Travis would walk away with a variety of bruises and such, while Kelly was still raring to pound him some more. She went over and put an arm about Kelly's waist. "Come on, Kelly and I will go get something for dinner. Won't we?"

Kelly nodded as Jessie's touch calmed her. "Sure, why not?" she said grouchily.

Jessie tugged on her a little and Kelly moved out and grabbed her jacket, while Dora Jean grabbed Travis' ear and gave him a mouthful on not provoking his sister, reminding him of last time when he had to go to the dentist to get two teeth put back in.

The two women made it outside to see a pudgy woman a little younger than Kelly come up the cracked cement walkway holding a toddler and two older children running around her.

"Aunt Kelly! Aunt Jessie!" The older ones yelled as they came barreling down the rest of the walkway to them.

Kelly caught the oldest one, Tyler, before he ran into her. He was seven and a big brute of a boy. He had decided when he was four that he was going to be just like his aunt. Tall, lean, tough and she rode the coolest bike. "Hey, runt," she told him.

She felt two smaller arms wrapped about her leg and she looked down at Amy Sue who was four. Kelly's once clean jeans were now complimented with small hand prints of dirt. Kelly sighed to herself as Jessie untangled Amy Sue from Kelly only to have the little arms wrapped around her neck.

Kelly set Tyler down and the tall dark woman nodded to the shorter one. "Hey, Monica."

Monica gave her sister in law a smile. "I hope you guys aren't leaving already."

Jessie smiled from where she and Amy Sue blended. "Just going to get us all some dinner."

That got the two children yelling what they wanted. Finally Kelly said they'd just get something from the KFC.


Dinner went better that Jessie expected. Dora Jean had moved Travis to one end of the table and Jessie sat near Kelly at the other. Kelly and her brother had never really gotten along. They liked each other, mostly because they were related. But other than that, she thought they did it to make their mom happy. Tyler insisted on sitting next to Kelly and soon everyone was digging into the selection of chicken and side dishes.

The buzzer at the front office rang and Kelly said she'd get it. Jessie watched as she left and Monica smiled. "Mom told me your news, Jess. I'm really happy for you."

Jessie grinned. "So am I. I was really scared at first but Kelly's been a solid rock."

Dora Jean patted Jessie's hand. "How did your mother take it?"

Jessie sighed. "Not well. And she pretty much blames Kelly for it. Why does everyone think she's the father?"

Dora sat stunned for a moment. "I guess because she's always acted more like a boy than a girl. And she's sort of taken on that role in the life the two of you have."

"We aren't gay, mom."

Dora Jean patted her hand. "If you say so dear."

Jessie shook her head and Monica smiled at her. When the two had moved in together Dora Jean began to read up on gay life and what to expect as a mother of a gay child. She was a little stunned that the two still went out on dates with men but found that over the years it was less and less until the two of them usually went and did something together. They were young. They had time to figure it out.

So know you know a little about our families. Jessie does have a younger sister but she lives about a thousand miles away. They talk on the phone a lot but she's pretty much settled into living where she's at. There are a few aunts, uncles and cousins about the country but that's about the size of it.

Now we've settled into a holding pattern of sorts. Jess's mother and I are at a truce. Both of our mothers think we're gay. And Travis... I honestly don't care what he thinks. We're four months into Jess's pregnancy. We've stared Lamaze classes, but I talk about that later. And I've found that Jess's appetite has not only grown along with her stomach, but she eats things that only my brother would combine. And sometimes I don't think even he would go that far.

I sit at the table early in the morning before I have to go to work and watch in awe. Not just spellbound awe, but complete and utter awe at what I see before me. Even growing up around someone as disgusting as Travis who could eat five day old pizza that had been sitting in the box on the coffee table and warm, flat beer with a cigarette butt in it amazed me.

I couldn't eat the bowl of raisin bran in front of me. Every normal food intended to be eaten by itself was now disgusting in Jessie's eyes. And here she sits across from me with a king sized snickers in one hand and a giant pickle in the other. She'd take a bite of one, then the other, and make sounds like she was having an orgasm at the table as she chewed. The smell of sugary chocolate and pickle brine was making me nauseous....

Kelly watched as her cereal got mushy. "God, Jess. I didn't think anything could be more revolting than the pickled pigs feet you ate the other day."

Jessie looked up from her food. "It'll probably get worse." Kelly sighed and took her cereal to the trash and dumped it out then rinsed out the bowl. "Aren't you hungry?" Jessie asked.

"Not that hungry. I'll get something at work."

Jessie was silent and Kelly stopped before she left and saw the tears form. It was the mood swings. She leaned over and kissed the top of Jessie's head. "I'm disgusting, aren't I?"

Kelly sighed to herself. Jessie had put on twenty pounds and it bothered her to no end. She looked at her, she was actually glowing. "Jess, you look beautiful."

Jessie looked up at her with a furrowed brow. Kelly was polite and compliments were rare. But emotional talk? She's never heard her say something like that with such a serious tone. "Seriously?"

Kelly nodded. "Seriously."

Jessie smiled. "Thanks."

Kelly raised an eyebrow. She had the 'getting Jessie out of a mood swing' down pretty good. "No problem."

She headed out to get her jacket and Jessie was almost ready for work. "Are you taking your bike to work?"

Kelly nodded. That was another thing. Jessie had gotten ultra overprotective. "I'll be fine."

Jessie nodded. She zipped up Kelly's jacket. "Be careful."

Kelly smiled this time. "Oh yes, mother."

Jessie smiled back and whapped her on the shoulder. "Be ready for Lamaze at seven."

Kelly grunted. "Only if you stop smelling that tar they're pouring down the street."

Jessie chuckled. "I'm sorry if I like the smell of it."

"It smells disgusting. Like sulfur smells like rotten eggs disgusting. And it's not good for you."

Jessie came out with a light jacket on. "Ooo... pickled eggs..."

Kelly shuddered, thankful she hadn't eaten anything or it would have come right back up.

Continued in Part 2

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