Repulsion and Attraction
By, Kim Hoppy
Summary: Both Jane and Charlie have to deal with the breakup of Elizabeth and Will. Modern
It's a well-known fact that the worse the break-up, the more finely ripped the pictures that documented the relationship shall be. Couples that part on amiable terms have no need to shred their memories. Indeed, they may someday many years later take out the old photographs and look at them with fond remembrance. But for couples who would part on the worst of tempers, pictures have been known to meet exacto-knives, open flames, magic markers, and all other methods that could be used to wipe any evidence of their subjects. And if they break-up is even worse, sometimes it is not only the photographs that are not safe. More than one couch has had the misfortune in meeting a chainsaw following a most difficult separation, rendering it most unsuitable to the former owners, unless of course, one of the former owners wished to use it as kindling to destroy a most prized baseball card collection.
Thankfully in this particular case, there was no couch to divide. (There were baseball cards, but as they were property prior to the relationship, their division was not necessary.) There were, however, plenty of pictures.
"Lizzy, you didn't!" Jane sighed seeing a bit of a photograph. "You looked so pretty in that dress. Couldn't you have just cut Will out?"
Lizzy raised her head with the darkest scowl her sister had seen many times in their shared childhood, and it gave no true fear for Jane. Though they were close sisters, that was not to say their childhood had not be deprived of the sisterly spats, and many would be surprised to learn the dearest Jane had not been above hair-pulling and shin-kicking. "Where's Charlie?" Lizzy said, when it became clear she would have to turn to someone else to terrify.
"He's not here. Something came up."
"He's with him, isn't he?" Lizzy spat, tearing apart another photograph. It had been taken at a beach, and if she was particular on exactly where she was making the rips, the man in question should at least be consoled it was only a photograph and not his actual body.
"No, he's not. He does have other friends," Jane said smoothly, in that kind tone that meant she would protect her dear boyfriend from her very dear, but obviously senile sister.
Her sister looked at her, trying to determine if she was lying about the first statement, because it could not be denied that Charlie did have other friends. Lots of other friends. It was a pity he couldn't choose them better, though, because that rat-bastard Will was slime. Unable to determine Jane's exact alliance at this time, Lizzy turned back to the pictures.
"You're not throwing out the duck!" Jane gasped, rescuing the small toy from the trash. "You love the duck!"
"No, I don't!"
Jane frowned and protectively held the toy. Charlie had given her a matching one when they had gone on one of their double dates. Part of Jane thought Will hadn't known what to do with her sister and latched on to Charlie's silly task. Though Jane disapproved of stealing the toy from the children's game, she was far too amused at their matching looks as they proudly presented them with the stolen good. Lizzy had accidentally (on purpose, Jane was certain,) let her fallen into the river and Will had gallantly gone after it.
Even if Lizzy didn't like the duck anymore, Jane still did, and she slipped it into her pocket to put it next to its sibling, who Charlie had named Chicken.
"I'm already in the presence of a swan," he said when Lizzy demanded explanation for giving the poor thing an identity crisis, and Jane blushed.
"And a goose," Will smirked, and Lizzy threw her duck at him. Will quickly caught it, less he be forced to go onto another rescue mission.
"Are those pictures of Charlotte's wedding, Lizzy?"
Lizzy made a noise. It was a terrible truth that memories of Charlotte's would always be marred because she had gone with one bastard named Will. No, bastard was too good of a name for him. There had to be something for fitting. Had to be.
"Don't you think you're being a little melodramatic?"
"I'm not. Melodramatic would be sky-writing, Will I hope you DIE!!"
"Well, I'm glad you're mature enough to realize that!"
Lizzy nodded. "Death is too good for him."
Jane rubbed her head. Sometimes, it was hard being the sane sister. She hoped Charlie was having better luck with his task.
"You're not going to burn her things, are you?" Charlie asked nervously, looking down from the second story as the pile of clothes and other belongings outside kept growing. He wasn't sure, but he thought it was illegal to burn things within the city limits, and he was pretty sure Elizabeth would kill Will more than she already planned to when she found out.
Will glared at him. "No. Good-Will is coming for a pick-up."
Charlie looked back down at the pile and winced when he saw the favorite shirt of hers in the pile. Several favorite shirts, in fact. And was that her childhood teddy bear? "You know, why don't I just -"
"You even think about touching those things and I'll throw you out the window. Move!"
"She bought you that vase! Jane helped her pick it out when we met her at the mall!" Charlie defended. "You can't just drop it out the window! Let me take it down there. You might hit some poor squirrel."
"Move, Charles," Will growled.
The sound of ceramic on the walk made Will smile. Charlie just looked sick, and he gazed down at the shattered remains. Part of him wished Will wasn't so obstinate, because Charlie knew Jane would have liked to have the vase, though she would have first tried to give it back to Elizabeth. However, if Charlie knew that brunette, Elizabeth would have imitated Will's treatment of the vase. It was possible he made a slight mistake in introducing them, something he knew both of them were not going to let him forget any time soon.
"Aren't you taking this a little too far, Will?" he tried. Normally, Will was always so calm and collected. But, then again, Elizabeth could always get under his skin.
Will growled. "No. She's the biggest brat in the world. Do you know what she said about Georgie?"
Charlie winced. If there was one thing Will didn't take, it was people disparaging his sister. He had a certain view of his sister, and, as a brother himself, Charlie understood the illusion. So he kept his tongue, if only because he did not like to cause rifts or make fights, but Charlie was well-aware that one day soon his dear friend would get a most unpleasant wake-up call. If judging the type Caroline had given him, Charlie would have the beer ready.
"You know Elizabeth's temper. She didn't mean it."
"She did. And that's not the worst of it. I saw her with Wickham." Disgust rippled through his voice. "I can't believe you ever thought we'd get along."
"You got along for several m ... sorry," he squeaked and also moved away from the window.
With more force than necessary, Will threw out a duffle bag. (If he had looked inside, he would have found three T-shirts he had been searching for these past few weeks.) "She's the most pig-headed, obstinate, empty-headed ... grrr!" Apparently, there were too many adjectives to describe Elizabeth, because Will started swearing under his breath.
"You did try to talk? It could be a big misunderstanding," Charlie tried desperately. "I mean, you've been together -"
"Charlie. Shut. Up."
He sighed. Jane was going to be so disappointed in him.
"The man is completely blind about his sister," Lizzy raged. "He says she's shy, but I've never met a bigger bitch in my life."
"Lizzy," Jane scolded. Her sister's arguments were not giving Jane any sort of temptation to hand the lighter over.
"So I try to tell him, you know, and you know what he says to me? That I just can't understand a dear soul like his poor little sister, because I'm just a poor middle-class slut. Dear little Ana - that's how I had to call her in front of her friends, now, because it's so much more grown-up - is a tender soul. Me, I'm just chopped liver."
For a moment, Jane's temper flared at what Will allegedly could have said about her sister, but she was trained in quashing it. "If anyone said something about me, you'd be just as angry as he was. Remember the Ice Queen comments people said about me in high school, and you got detention for three weeks."
"Give me the lighter, Jane. He needs to torch."
"No. You can't have blown up just because of that, Lizzy."
"He is also the most arrogant piece of shit I ever met. How about that? Give me!" Lizzy demanded, trying desperately to jump to get to the prize.
"It's Charlie's fault. If he hadn't insisted on introducing us -"
"Lizzy," Jane said in a tone that said no harm would be allowed to come to her boyfriend.
Her eyes narrowed at the bit of betrayal she felt. However, she managed to grab the lighter with a victorious cry, and she rushed to the light the flames before Jane could stop her. The flames leapt up, lighting her gleeful expression. As there was more than papers in there, smoke billowed with the rising heat, and she coughed and gagged. And, overhead, a smoke alarm started to go off.
"I was going to tell you -"
"Shut up, Jane, and let me enjoy watching him fry."
"And do you know what she said to me about Wickham? Do you?" Will raged at Charlie. His motions made the water in his glass spill out, but Will didn't notice.
Charlie actually had a very good notion of what she had said, not in the least because Will had already alluded to several times already. Obviously, it was better to pretend he hadn't heard, or maybe hadn't paid attention. In any case, Will did not require an actual reply. Charlie just remained sitting humbly and quite out of the way of flying fists, spit, and liquid.
"Oh, Will, you're being so petty and childish," his friend continued in a falsetto, mocking formally-his Elizabeth's voice. "I'm not going to abandon him because you're jealous. He's only my very good friend, and you're such a hovering nanny, not letting your sister come with. As if I'd let Georgie be with him!"
"Maybe if you told her -"
"I did! And she laughed and said he was just having fun and my sister didn't know how to take a joke! A joke, she called what he did a joke!"
Once Will had returned to a normal hue and was a bit further away, Charlie tried to defend her, as he didn't like to think so poorly of his friend. "Oh, you know her," he said with a nervous laugh. "She likes to look on the bright side and -"
"She slept with him." The tone was deadly, and without all of the previous theatrics.
Charlie's jaw dropped and he tried to work out a few words. Finally, he said, "Are ... are you ... sure?"
"Yes!" Will hissed.
"Y-y-you mean you c-caught them?" Charlie hoped not, because it drastically lowered his opinion of the woman, and it could seriously impact the current relationship he had with her sister. And Charlie did not want that. And he didn't like to think that of anyone's sister, even his own.
"No," Will admitted, "but I know."
Relieved, Charlie asked, "How?"
Will gave him a glare and didn't deign to answer verbally. His evidence was so good it didn't need words.
"Oh." He looked around desperately. "Hey, let's go out and get a beer! You'll feel better."
His friend continued glaring.
"My treat!" Mustering his bravery, he got up and went to Will with an eager step. It was quite friendly, and it ended up being quite painful when he slid on the spilled water and ended up on his back. "Ow."
"Are you all right?" Will asked, temper retreating because of his concern.
Not one to not use a change of mood and sympathy, Charlie pressed his advantage. "I need a beer."
"Because you're so steady sober."
Jane finished wrapping her sister's blistering hand while Lizzy continued to vent. Somehow, she deemed this mishap also the fault of Will, as if he had made her sister a pyromaniac and stupid enough to touch metal before it finished cooling. "Now I hope you know better."
Lizzy was upset at the patronizing tone, but she held her tongue until her hand was safely in her possession.
"You should get a doctor to look at that."
She ignored the comment, designed to distract her. "Are you happy that you've destroyed everything?"
"And are you done?" Jane sighed.
"What else can you possibly destroy?"
"I'm thinking about egging his house. Maybe keying his car."
"Lizzy, I'm not letting you out the door. You could get arrested!" And Jane wasn't certain her sister would stop there. While she doubted Lizzy would commit arson, her new pyro-talents could include flaming dog poop.
"Only if I get caught, and you won't turn in your favorite sister," Lizzy simpered before turning away. "And it would serve him right."
"It wasn't just me he was a jerk to. You should have heard what he said about George."
Jane closed her eyes. If Will had disparaged someone her sister knew and cared for, it was just another tempter-inducing problem. Her sister was furiously protective. "He probably didn't mean -"
"You didn't hear him, Jane. He called George the most horrible names." Lizzy shuddered at the memory, and her temper, which hadn't lowered much, started rising again. "Like when George just said he'd pay the next time they went out, Will totally blew up. Like he was the one living on Raman and tuna. It's not George's fault he's having a bit of trouble right now, but oh-so-smart Will thinks it is."
"He probably just had a bad day," Jane suggested, as she knew Will had a very stressful job and was prone to not thinking before he spoke, something her sister also shared.
"He thinks I slept with George!" Lizzy laughed at the absurdity, but her voice had bitterness. "As if girls can't have friends that are boys and not have sex with them. Not that George is much of a boy."
Jane shook her head at the statement.
"But he wanted me to just abandon George, my friend, because George is not the type of person someone like us should be seen with. But Will didn't use the word 'person.'"
Her sister didn't know what to say and decided to not say anything. If Lizzy was this desperate to break-up with Will, and for all these reasons - however good or poor the reasons were - Jane couldn't talk her out of it, and it wouldn't be worth it. It was better, Jane thought, to leave such a relationship behind. While she hadn't minded Will, the rest of the family might be disappointed at Lizzy for letting such a man slip away even if he was, as they saw it, a bit stiff. "How would you like to go to the movies?"
"You're letting me out of the house?"
"Under supervision. We'll go see some big action-packed blow-up thing and drool over the muscles."
"Charlie lets you do that?"
"I drool over the muscles, he drools over the boobs. We're both happy."
Lizzy laughed. "You two have the weirdest relationship. Okay, we'll go, but we have to listen to WJAB 98.6 on the way over. You won't believe their new announcer. What a voice." She swooned before grinning. "And Will hates him."
Jane decided to not bother to fight the battle. However nice Charlie's voice was, swoon-worthy voices did not appear nearly often-enough in her life.
Booze and heartache, according to a multitude of country songs, went together like butter and bread. Or was it like gasoline and an open flame. Charlie couldn't remember, but he soon realized that taking Will out - anything to keep him from throwing breakables out the window if his temper kept going up! - wasn't wise. Elizabeth was crueler than he imagined.
"I'm sure ... I'm sure that song wasn't meant for you," he tried, almost as the announcer came on.
"And that was Little Willy, as a special request from Elizabeth to Will, who she claims the title fits quite well." The announcer laughed at the innuendo, and Charlie honestly feared Will was going to have an aneurism. That, or require several stitches in his hand once that glass broke.
"It's probably another Elizabeth to another Will," he grinned desperately. "No one would think it's you! Because it's not!" he added quickly when Will reared his head on him.
"I'm going to kill her," Will vowed.
Charlie groaned. Perhaps it would have been better to lose a few more knickknacks than allow his friend to face a homicide charge. Though Will had never been a violent drunk before, Charlie wasn't sure he could trust precedent.
"Then I'm going to kill you. The next time you dare introduce me to one of your girlfriend's sisters -"
"I know, I know. Groin to gizzard. Have another drink!" he said desperately.
Charlie groaned and collapsed into to bed face first. Jane didn't even look up from her reading. "I'm going to Hell," he said into the pillow.
"Yes, you are."
"Correction. I am in hell. And how's your sister taking everything?" he asked, turning his head to look at his lovely angel.
"As long as I keep you in my sight, she won't physically maim you. Will?"
"As long as I am in his sight, he might physically maim me." He looked at her. "When I'm in a full-body cast, will you nurse me back to health?"
Jane closed her book and smiled down at him. "Of course."
"And could you do it in a sexy nurse's outfit, with garters?" he asked hopefully.
She bent and kissed his hair. "What would be the point, Charlie? You wouldn't be in any condition to fully enjoy it."
Charlie winced, remembering some of Will's more colorful, inebriated promises, especially after the small fall. "Don't leave me alone with them, please!"
"Let this be a lesson to you. You shouldn't match make."
"I'm good at it," he protested. "Present evidence withstanding. Lizzy and Will, they're flukes."
Jane laughed at her naïve little dear as he hugged her waist. "You badgered them into blind-dates. You badger everyone into them."
"I only want everyone to be as happy as me," he wailed.
"But they can't, because they don't have me," Jane smiled, petting his hair.
"I don't see why they're being so violent to me, either," he pouted. "Thanks to me, they had months of wonderful love before it all went crappy."
Part of Jane agreed with Charlie, but she understood both Will and Lizzy were turning their frustrations onto a target that, as they saw it, would be appropriately repentant. And Charlie definitely felt guilty, even if it wasn't his fault, and he would pay his penitence by serving in the stead of the respective exes. He went and reported to the former partners what the other had said - but not really, because Charlie couldn't bear to pass such terrible words. But even with the words softened, tempers flew and he was the scapegoat. Worse for him, he remains friends with the "guilty" party and was by association guilty as well. And a good friend to the "innocent," he sympathized, listening even if they threatened him life and limb.
And when this was all over, he would have the ability to smile and forget the unease any of them had felt. Her Charlie wore so many hats it was no wonder his hair looked ridiculous, and Jane ran her fingers through the mess fondly.
He sighed. "I do love you."
"And I need you to keep me alive at the picnic Saturday. With both of them there -"
"So Will is still coming?" Jane said, surprised.
Charlie smiled. "I practically begged him to see our new house when we first planned everything, said it was what good friends did and he promised to get me to shut up. Tonight, Will said, and I quote ... er, no I won't, because it really isn't quotable. He said he wasn't going to let her mess up his obligations. I'm surprised Lizzy is going, actually. I mean, she's seen the place already."
"She bought a new dress and I told her she can't let it go to waste."
"Was that all?" he asked, surprised. Jane's sister wasn't normally so like his own.
Jane laughed. "No. I told her is she didn't go and people-mingle I'd have to call Will to show up instead to fill the quota."
"We can't let them meet, you know. Between the two of them -" He shuddered as his imagination came up with things, and he knew his imagination wasn't nearly as creative as theirs. Together, they could destroy the world. Or at least pair up briefly to destroy their common enemy. Not that he was an enemy! He was their friend! "They've got to stay as far away from each other as possible. As from me."
"You are so brave," Jane smiled and kissed him.
The picnic was going wonderfully. Jane smiled at all of her guests and their comments about the home. Between Charlie and her, they had friends - true friends - enough to fill a small cruise ship, and all were eager to talk and attend. On such a beautiful day, she was glad to have them with her.
"This is sick," Lizzy muttered, nursing her bandaged hand. The burns were not severe and the doctor promised they won't scar, but she was not pleasant. "I'm the only single person here."
"No, you're not. We have a lot of single friends. I could introduce you," she said as the hamburgers cooked. Charlie might think they were done when they were black, but Jane knew that the majority of their friends would disagree.
Charlie carefully walked by with bags of hamburger buns. "Hello, Lizzy," he said in a jovial voice. It only had the slightest tremor, and very few people would notice how he was careful to keep Jane between the two of them.
"Charles," she intoned.
It was, of course, just his imagination that thunder rolled and the sky darkened. "We need ice, don't we, Jane. I'll go get some." He made his quick exit.
"You have to stop scaring Charlie, Lizzy. He didn't know what was going to happen."
"He's party to the crime."
Jane rolled her eyes.
Charlie was not hiding in the kitchen. It took a long time to get the ice from the freezer. And if he ducked down behind the island counter when a scowling Will walked across the patio, it was because his shoe desperately needed to be tied.
He didn't know why Will had to attend when he clearly would get no pleasure from the picnic, obligations about being a good friend be damned. Unless, of course, his pleasure stemmed from terrorizing Charlie.
Knowing Will, it was entirely likely.
After carefully peeking out and seeing neither of the scary hunters about, he dashed to Jane and held out the ice as if it was dynamite.
"Charlie, do you know that half the people here you've set up on blind dates? You're not going to run away from them if, heaven forbid, their relationships falter?"
"They won't attempt to kill me. I think," he added, because up until a few days ago, he never thought his current would-be murderers would be murderers.
"They're not going to kill you," Jane smiled. "At least not here. There are too many witnesses."
"Have I told you I love you?"
"I love you, too. Now please, relax!"
Will glared at the party. He was a decided odd-wheel. At a picnic filled with couples, that was it. Normally, he wouldn't mind, because he could always speak with Charlie, but currently, speaking with Charlie was a bad idea.
"You'd better be glaring at Charlie and not Jane, otherwise I'll have to kill you."
He turned and looked at the woman. She had a wine cooler in her uninjured hand and looked vaguely familiar. One of Jane's friends, probably. "All I need Jane to do is to leave him alone for five minutes. Then I can strike."
"After me. I've got dibs."
"Because he set me up with a total slime ball bastard cockroach phlegmwad twittering mass of pus."
Against his better judgment, Will smiled. "He set you up on a blind date too? And it worked for five months, five days until you realized she was a saggy bag of bitchy ... bitchiness?" he finished lamely.
The woman laughed. "Three and a half months. I'm Lizzy, Jane's sister."
"Ah, his girlfriend's sister. I knew you looked familiar somehow. I'm Will."
Her face turned. "Bad name." Before Will could protest, "You share it with the total slime ball bastard cockroach phlegmwad twittering mass of pus. No offense."
"I see. None taken," he grinned. "My ... ex's name was Elizabeth."
Lizzy's brows raised and she laughed. "Seriously? We're a pair. I only go by Lizzy. You should change yours, otherwise I'll want to stab you with a tetanus-riddled dull blade. Willy?"
His face closed. "No."
She shrugged. "We'll think of something."
"Call me Darcy," he suggested.
"Your last name?" At his nod, she made a face. "Boys."
"It's this entire wet-dream you all have that by going by your last name, you become this big sports star, isn't it?"
Despite himself, Will smiled at the insult. "It's not a wet-dream if you did play sports. Soccer."
"So you did it for the kicks."
"We have leather balls and do it in 90 minutes," he added, straight-faced.
She giggled. "Do you still play?"
"Just for fun. It's how I met Charlie in college, actually." For a moment, he visualized his friend's head as a ball.
"How did he get you?" Lizzy asked curiously.
"How do you mean?"
"The date. See, I'm a single sister of his girlfriend. He wanted to share the joy," she gagged.
"Oh." Will laughed. "Actually, she was the sister of one of his old girlfriends and moved into the city I live in. He thought we'd be great for one another," he mocked.
"Really?" Her brows rose up. "You and Elizabeth, me and Will. I'd almost be amazed, but that'd be giving Charlie waay too much credit."
"What happened to your hand?"
"Small burn. What about your head?" she asked, indicating the bump on his temple.
"Small drink. So ... maybe if we work together, we can rid the world of a terrible cupid. You distract Jane and I'll club him."
"Jane won't trust me anymore," Lizzy pouted. And then she told him exactly why Jane wouldn't trust him.
Will whistled. "I just planned to beat him to a pulp. Three times."
"No. Men like Charlie, they don't learn that they shouldn't mess in other peoples' lives easily. You got to really hit it home."
"Yeah. Of course, instead of burying him in sand at low tide, how about ..."
Jane jumped when Charlie grabbed her arm. "Oh no," he wailed.
"What?" she asked, concerned about his pale features.
"They're speaking together! And looking at me!"
She looked around and saw Lizzy and Will in conversation against the fence. Both were wearing matching smiles and, as Charlie had pointed out, looking directly at him.
"You should be happy, Charlie. They're bonding."
While Charlie was all for bonding, he didn't like their particular subject at all. "Promise me you'll never leave me alone. Promise me!"
Of course Jane promised, and then promptly told him to go get the Jell-O from the fridge.
"If they kill me, it'll be your fault."
Jane gave him a quick kiss on the lips. "I'll wear the nurse's outfit."
A/N: Just a little ditty I thought up a few months ago and finally put down. Hopefully it all made sense. It was supposed to be purposefully misleading and come together, but whether or not it did ...