i don't believe in fairytales
show: Young & the Restless
central character: Chelsea Lawson
central pairing: none; mentions ChelseaOC, BillyChelsea, BillyVictoria, and the very beginnings of AdamChelsea.
summary: Once upon a time, there is a girl. / Or, the life and times of Chelsea Lawson.
notes: It's been eating away at me for nearly a month, so my muse wants this done. It started out as something solely on Chelsea…which still is, sort of. This is just her backstory as I see it and my interpretation of the character with the episodes she's shown in and the ones she isn't. I'm only writing without letting my dislike shine through. It was my own challenge – writing honestly about a character I don't exactly care for, and it's not easy. Objectivity is hard. Even if you don't like Chelsea as a character, you'll appreciate this for the content. And if you're not a Chelsea fan and don't want to read this, that's okay, too. I won't hold it against you. There is a very, very tiny reference to one of my other stories ("Somewhere, There's A Place For Us"), but you don't have to read that (although it would be nice if you did) to understand this. I wrote this for myself, first and foremost but I still love my readers and appreciate you guys.
disclaimer: No, the show belongs to CBS and Sony Pictures. The songs that inspired this is "Wonderland" by Natalia Kills and "Breathe" by Anna Nalick which are Chelsea Lawson songs. To me, anyway. Oh, and Titanic belongs to James Cameron, not me.
Once upon a time, there is a girl.
She's not the girl who gets kissed in the end. She's not the one with the prince that slays the dragon.
She's not even the girl with the perfect glass slipper that glints when it catches light and actually fits.
No, she's not even that type of girl. She's the girl on the outside looking in and then robbing these storybook characters blind because they have everything. They have enough.
(Chelsea Mary Lawson is no Cinderella.)
Her middle name is Mary. She hates that.
She would think that morally upstanding people get a name like that saddled on them for life, but then there's that Bloody Mary legend so perhaps, it's sort of fitting and ironic like that.
The little high school history Chelsea has left before she drops out helps her remember that Mary I of England is sort of a bitch.
Her mother tells her something when she's on the brink of thirteen and assumes the identity of Caroline Larsen, daughter of Amelia Larsen.
Caroline is homeschooled by her devout Christian mother while her Imaginary Dad is a missionary, currently in Singapore. That's what her mother says to tell people. It's what Chelsea tells herself.
"Remember," Anita says, as her form of motherly advice. They're at a diner in Amarillo, Texas which is a long way from Reno, Nevada. "There are those who are given their fortune and those that make their fortune," her mother smiles, brushing a wisp of dirty blonde hair from Chelsea's face. It's a wig and it itches. "We make ours any way we can. We'll be rich, too. Not someday, but soon."
Someday. The word dances in Chelsea's head as she glances down at her fries and soda.
Someday, she wants to be a dancer. Someday, she wants to own a boat and sail the world. Really, someday, she wants to be an actress and see her name in bright, bright lights.
But there's no someday, Anita scolds. There's just right now. And right now, they have to survive.
"Stick with your Momma and we'll hit the jackpot soon, Chelsea."
Chelsea eats a French fry and drinks her flat soda before the red and blue lights and the piercing sirens come and make her and her mother run and disappear. Again.
Let's get something straight right now: this is not the typical fairytale.
The tale always goes like this: a smooth smile here, a little lie there and a pretty face that hides the truth. Because, really, the truth is poison to a con.
Besides, Chelsea is always the one wielding the poison apples, killing fairytale princesses in her way. Then she steals their shiny tiaras.
In her imagination, of course.
The unsuspecting victims are always blinded by her pretty face and bright smile.
There are kings who aren't that smart but have money in amounts Chelsea can't even fathom. There are queens who have big rings and necklaces with jewels set in then that can be pawned for big money, but not big enough. They are princes she likes to use just to get her way. And the princesses are just competition – and it's one they're going to lose.
The first boy she really gets involved with isn't really that much of a prince anyway.
He's eighteen, aged out of the foster care system. Chelsea is sixteen.
His name is Jared: a runaway, someone who doesn't know where he's headed or where he'll end up – just like her but he has a truck. He wears loose t-shirts, hooded sweatshirts and ripped jeans. He listens to Nirvana, Poison and Guns n' Roses on repeat and smokes Marlboro cigarettes that taste like mint. He lets his dark brown hair grow out past his chin and brush his shoulders.
Jared tastes like an ashtray and mint sugar-free gum when she kisses him.
It's okay, though, because Chelsea's a little drunk from the Jack Daniels whiskey she buys from a liquor store with a fake ID.
Her first time isn't romantic or a perfect moment because she can hear Anita's voice in the back of her head, yelling that happy endings are stupid: Chelsea loses her virginity in the back of Jared's old Chevrolet truck while it rains outside. But it's Seattle. It always rains.
He's the one who gets away, because of a knife fight. One that kills him in front of her.
Chelsea grieves for Jared, his blood barely dried on her sweatshirt and runs at the sound of sirens because it's almost instinctual now, second nature.
She still, to this day, remembers the way Jared's green eyes look up at her as he dies. Chelsea isn't hoping for happily ever after with Jared, anyway. No happily ever after really occurs on the rough Washington streets, anyway.
(She ditches the sweatshirt on a rural back road, sets fire to it with Jared's favourite lighter and then hitchhikes multiple times from Seattle to Los Angeles.
There's Hollywood. There's always Hollywood.)
She likes good tequila that goes down like liquid fire and settles warmly in her veins.
It makes her forget for a little while.
When Chelsea is in one place and stops running, there's one place she will always go – where the air almost smells of sea salt wherever she may be and the waves are high and twisted in all directions. She likes the sensation of sea spray in her face and the wind in her hair.
Here's one of the things she is truthful about, when everything else is a lie: the water and a surfboard underneath her feet are the only things that give her solace.
Wiping out is half the fun and Chelsea loves the adrenaline rush.
That's why Chelsea chooses Myanmar: the decent beaches Myanmar has – it's a sweet surf spot – and her mother is making her crazy again. Anita is suffocating her, cornering her and criticizing her, so she needs to run away again for her own sanity.
It's the farthest, most exotic place so she pawns her cousin Darcy's diamond tennis bracelet, obtains a good enough passport that is forged expertly and gets the ticket money.
Chelsea hops on a plane to Myanmar under the alias Mary Blake and fits right in with people who are the same objective as the villains in her tale (survival, Chelsea, it's just survival): steal from the rich tourists that end up being blinded by the fragmented pieces of paradise Myanmar dangles in front of them.
She falls for a prince who is charmingly drunk and literally falls into her arms.
All she wants to do is dance – and she really, really loves this song. Chelsea isn't lying about that.
She does what the man with all of the money she could have does and takes the pictures.
She lets her mark call her Victoria, lets him kiss her and whisper that he's so damn sorry and that he'll never leave again. But Liam, as Chelsea remembers, is drunk and drugged out of his mind so it's almost too easy. The pictures are taken and sent to the man who promises her Benjamins and more money than she will ever see in her lifetime. The most miniscule part of her almost (note: emphasis on almost) feels bad. Chelsea lets her friends plant the drugs on him (that's never the plan, that's not how it's supposed to go down). Then again, the police need their arrest quota and she needs her money.
The damage is already done anyway, so Chelsea does what she is trained to do her whole life: she disappears.
Chelsea lies and cries rape in Myanmar to the police and then again in Genoa City (which is the best solution; they always believe the crying pregnant lady) because she's never supposed to fall for a mark.
It's some type of infraction in the art of coning and grifting – it's the biggest.
Strange people look for Chelsea all the time.
There's a hot guy with strong, chiseled features, a black shirt, and dark eyes coming over.
Chelsea puts on a flirtatious smile because it's the best weapon in her arsenal. Besides, no one buys a smile and a con from a pregnant girl.
"What'll it be, Handsome?"
"Beer," he replies, and she expertly slides a bottle over to him. The mystery guy has an accent and that's even more appealing to her. She lowers her gaze, and works on cleaning a shot glass. He chugs some of his beer and leaves it half-full – well, she sees it half-empty. Whatever. "You know, I'm looking for a girl."
"Try the beach. A lot of lovers go down there."
He smiles, a little. Chuckles, too. "No, I'm not looking for a lover."
Chelsea shrugs, "That's a shame."
"Not, really. It's a favour for a friend. I'm looking for a girl. A girl by the name of Chelsea."
"It's a common name," she lies, smoothly. Chelsea should get an Oscar or a Tony on Broadway but she'll settle for entertaining this handsome stranger instead. She sighs. "Sorry, can't help you there."
"Are you lying to me?" he questions, with a half-smile she's not buying as genuine.
They can't con her when she's the master of the craft.
Chelsea chuckles a little and pretends to give a damn about the arrangement of gin and whiskey behind her. She could use a drink or four herself.
"No," she answers with a grin all the boys all love and tone saccharine sweet, because everyone's a mark and to the stupid rich tourists, she's just Mary,the pretty, innocent American bartender.
"Shit," Chelsea curses under her breath, because that's way too close for comfort. "Too damn close."
And anyone who gets close to her gets hurt – unintentional or blatantly intentional.
She'll run soon because Chelsea Lawson never puts down roots anywhere.
And soon, happens to be right now.
Her feet, instinct and racing heart beneath the calm façade take her out of Myanmar and as always she's unsure of where to go next.
She's a nomad and probably a gypsy in a past life, if she believes in that sort of thing.
With all of the bar till's money in her pockets, Chelsea Lawson and every alias she carries with her for what seems like a lifetime, blends into the busy Burmese crowds until she can't be seen.
Chelsea remembers when she doesn't have to run: it's when she experiences a little slice of normal, back in Arizona when her cousin – a brunette a couple shades lighter than she is and green-eyed. They're only three months apart and they even share the same middle name. Morgan Mary Sinclair is her best friend. But after tenth grade, Morgan isn't her friend anymore and they go different paths in life because Anita destroys everything right down to Aunt Janie's household. So, they run again and for once, Chelsea doesn't know why.
While Chelsea is a high school dropout, running away and playing pretend, she hears through the Lawson-Sinclair grapevine that Morgan actually graduates high school. She goes to college, leaving with a couple degrees, quits her junior high teaching job and starts the bakery and cake shop she always dreams of ("The Sweet Shack") and becomes Morgan Sinclair Rosenberg.
Morgan is still ever the princess with the always sweet personality but hot temper. She's the sporty, physical one – they're both tomboys. Chelsea still wonders if Morgan can still snap a board with her bare feet and finally gets that stupid black belt. After life and the rift between their mothers deepen and force them apart, Morgan grows up moves from Arizona to Milwaukee and then, finally to a place called Genoa City.
Her older sister by two years, Darcy, is the dark sorceress in her imaginary tale with the ability to make others wither with those cold stares of hers. She uses the law as her weapon of choice. She lives in California. Darcy and Chelsea never get along as kids and to be honest, Chelsea doesn't like her witch – she's taking that term, literally – of a cousin, as an adult either.
Rory is the youngest of the three of them but the gentle, level-headed giant, masquerading as a police officer staying back home in Arizona. He tries to see some good in Chelsea, even when she brands herself as a bad person and doesn't care.
In retrospect, though, Chelsea's favourite person to be arrested by is her own cousin.
Anita says she chooses to run away from the boondocks and go where life takes her while her little sister, Jane, chooses to stay.
Jane goes to school on a scholarship and becomes some fancy business professor before quitting that and getting enough capital to become a billionaire. Jane puts her bookworm habit to good use and starts a multibillion dollar chain of bookstores and cafes, called Trumbles Bookstore & Cafes from the ground up. She marries a rich surgeon, Russell Sinclair, while they're still young and both in school, and pops out some kids.
Jane L. Sinclair is now a children's author (her most notable work: the Bumpy the Camel & Friends series) and publisher, living back in the Phoenix area with her husband and has three grown children.
Anita Lawson, on the other hand, goes wherever and where she goes, Chelsea follows. Always.
Chelsea follows that rule because she's only a kid and at ten years old, knows nothing else.
They're in New York now and Chelsea is still dreaming of Broadway stages and bright marquees.
"They have everything, baby. And they're going to help us. We're blood. Us Lawsons stick together."
"And if they don't, Mom?" Because Aunt Janie doesn't like her mom very much.
Anita grins and Chelsea knows that grin. She knows it deep in her gut at thirteen years old.
"If not," her mother shrugs flippantly, as if someone says the sky is blue and the grass is green, "then we do what we always do and help ourselves."
Aunt Janie, according to her mother, is always their parents' favourite child anyway.
"See, Chelsea," Anita says, as they book a sleazy hotel room under the aliases Anne and Camille Edwards. The place is a dump as something that looks like a cockroach scuttles across the carpeted floor. Chelsea's stomach actually hurts from being hungry, but she learns not to cry. She's fourteen now and knows better. "I know all we see is rags now. But I'm your mother and I'll do anything possible to get a big fat piece of riches for us, too."
Chelsea is still no Cinderella, but she's tired of torn, tattered dresses and pumpkin carriages.
She wants diamond carriages and glass slippers that are all hers and all for the taking.
If she has to stab others in the back with her sharpest part of her glass stiletto, then such is life. Chelsea has always been a carpe diem kind of girl.
Darcy sends Chelsea ten thousand dollars to make her go away with a note attached:
Money is the ultimate pacifier for you so here's a one-time sum of ten grand.
I put sociopaths and murderers in jail and make sure they are put on Death Row. You and your mother are child's play. I will have no problem doing the same thing to you and Anita if you "accidently" land in California again. All family bets are off. My mother-in-law's a well-known judge and I'm married to the District Attorney. If you enjoy your freedom, and I know your type do, stay away. Let me rephrase that: stay away from me.
And for stealing the diamond tennis bracelet my father gave me as a law school graduation gift (because everything inside me screams that it was you) and doing God-knows-what with it, if I catch you on my doorstep again, I'll only work harder and legally throttle you.
Don't contact me. Forget about me. Live your life. I don't care what you do with it.
I won't speak for Morgan & Rory. They're old enough, but leave me alone, Chelsea.
Chelsea uses the money to buy herself a car, a nice used black Toyota Camry so she can drive away. She still gets away but she doesn't run as much. She keeps the remaining three thousand but if Chelsea rigs this hand in her favour well enough, this cash will be a drop in a very, very large bucket.
Chelsea sees the now entering Wisconsin ("Welcome to Wisconsin, the Dairy State") sign in her peripheral vision and glances down at her growing belly quickly before looking back at the road.
Driving a little more on the interstate, she sees the Now Entering Genoa City sign.
She grips the steering wheel a little more tightly and is very aware of her tightening clothes and her growing abdomen. The fact three thousand dollars still isn't enough is always staring her in the face.
Genoa City is a sleepy little town and it's covered in snow.
She sighs, stopping at a red light and a light smile grows on her face. "Billy Abbott, you're handsome, rich, the father of my baby, and the unknowing target of a brilliant eighteen year con, if I do say so myself."
Chelsea Lawson still wants to be an actress, still wants the bright lights of Hollywood and the big stage of Broadway.
She wants to live in a nice Penthouse in Manhattan, book a hotel suite at the Waldorf-Astoria and have her very own swanky room at the Ritz.
But, she thinks as Chelsea makes a turn onto Orchard Road, this will have to be her stage for now.
Billy, or Liam, takes what isn't his, no matter how much she cries and begs.
She's scared and traumatized, even more that she's pregnant with his child and demands that he be responsible for her and this kid. That's her story and Chelsea's sticking to it.
(It's not the truth – actually, far from it, but here's the beauty of fairytales and the human imagination: like people, they can be easily manipulated. And that's the best part.)
She cheats, steals and lies but Chelsea isn't lying about this: Billy is the father of this child she's carrying, no matter how much he wants to deny it to his pretty wife.
The DNA test proves her right and she isn't expecting anything less.
This isn't as easy a con as Chelsea thinks because three wrenches are thrown into what looks like a flawless plan.
Wrench one is the fact that Billy doesn't want to disappear from the kid's life. He actually wants to be in this child's life since it is his child and is all about doing the right thing. When Chelsea presents her plan – one that should work for both parties and declares that she will go no lower than three million, Billy simply says no – actually, hell no – and laughs in her face.
"What about your wife?"
Billy looks at Chelsea, smug and that's not supposed to happen, at all. "Don't you worry about my wife. I'm sure you read that she was in a legendary lawsuit with her father, who happens to be the biggest SOB to walk the planet. She won that lawsuit and cleaned his clock. Little girl like you? My wife would decimate you and walk away without breaking stride."
The third wrench is that she's not counting on the tape recorder that blows her whole story and really, the perfect theatrical performance to smithereens.
Blink, and there's one born every second.
And there are two walking into the bar right now.
Chelsea likes the continental breakfasts and herbal tea at the Genoa City Athletic Club, but she can't pay for the room much longer. She walks into Jimmy's aware of people glaring at her, yet it's the same song and dance – and guess what? She doesn't care. Fact of the matter is Billy will take care of her and this kid because she doesn't do this herself. It's his responsibility.
On the brink of living out of her car, Chelsea needs to think.
That's a surprisingly good burger and Jimmy's actually knows how to make a good French fry.
But she's craving an ice cold beer. Not that she'll have it.
Even she isn't that stupid – it's simply a prop in her Plan B. There always has to be a Plan B.
"Hey, can I have a nice, cool beer?"
"Whoa, whoa," Billy says from behind her like clockwork, and Chelsea thinks hook, line and sinker. "Are you crazy? What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"You're pregnant and you're going to have beer?" Victoria questions, absolutely horrified.
"Yes," Chelsea replies, defiantly and turns around. "So what? It's my body. I'll put whatever I want in it and I want beer."
"There's a child involved. You're not doing that."
Chelsea sneers, "I can take care of myself." That's not a lie. She does that almost all her life, because nobody else does it well enough.
"You don't have the slightest idea how to take care of yourself and the baby, if you're going to have beer when you obviously can't," Victoria argues, exhales and glances at Billy. "In that case, we have a solution. Just so that we can be closer to you and actually make sure, you're taking care of yourself and the baby."
Chelsea raises an eyebrow. Most of the solutions she's involved in, involves sirens and handcuffs.
"Which is what?"
"You're going to come and live with us," Billy announces like he swallows glass and nobody's happy.
(Here's the thing: it's what Chelsea plans all along. It beats being booted out of the Athletic Club and living out of her car, again. The first time, it's in Anita's car behind a Denny's in Colorado. She's nine.)
Chelsea can usually get to people, break them in half or shatter them to pieces, but not Victoria.
Her Royal Iciness is tougher than she looks. She isn't as delicate or fragile she seems because Chelsea does read about Victoria taking down her own father and winning half a billion.
Victoria doesn't break under any of her jabs and backhanded pseudo-compliments, even when Chelsea cries in front of Billy and makes herself look like the injured party always.
Even then, Billy is at her side – and deep down, Chelsea wishes she has a guy like that. Even more, she hides behind a wall and watches Billy hug and kiss Victoria, telling her not to worry. Or something like that. Placing her hands on her bump and her unborn son, she wishes for something warm and happy for her son – like a home. It's much than three million dollars. It's more than her child being the reason the Newmans and the Abbotts will fork over their millions.
So, in that hospital hallway, Chelsea Lawson makes the hardest and most unselfish decision of her life.
Even before Billy tells (well, yells at) her that Victoria's been a saint, making the best out of a bad, really messed up and less than ideal situation so Chelsea should keep her jabs and snarky comments to herself about his wife or she will be homeless.
Deep down Chelsea has the desire to know who her father is, and for Anita to use that knowledge to blackmail her into submission is low. Even for her own mother.
Here's something Chelsea comes to understand and has probably known her whole life: the more Anita is around her – whether it be in Arizona, Colorado, the Canadian border, or wherever – the more Chelsea wants her to leave.
Never mind that Anita reveals the whole point of their con and their biggest secret ("That's right, Victor Newman found us and brought us here.")
(Chelsea looks at Billy, watches Victoria's face take on a look of silent anger and can't even look at her mother because she's so damn angry, so she runs again. Chelsea's always been a runner.)
Victoria finds her at the coffeehouse.
She sits down across from her and Chelsea sighs, angrily. Her mother has to go. But Chelsea is enough of a person to know she does what she does because of what Mr. Newman promises her. Chelsea's hands are dirty, too and they'll never be truly clean ever again, but she's making an effort. She's not looking for any type of validation, applause or clap on the back from anybody.
"Look, I'm not here to yell at you. So, tell me what my father promised you if you managed to break me and Billy up. Did he throw his money around? Did he promise you and Anita millions of dollars and financial security?" Victoria fires questions at her, and Chelsea would laugh at her if she were on the outside looking in.
"No," Chelsea shakes her head, looking Victoria square in the eye. It's a rare occasion in which Chelsea tells the truth and now, is one of those times. "He said I could have Billy."
Victoria stands up, "Well, thanks for being forthcoming, at least. You should know that my husband and I love each other very much and don't plan on being separated ever again," Victoria adjusts the strap of her purse. "Excuse me. I have somewhere to be," and walks away briskly without a goodbye. Not that Chelsea is expecting it. She's really not.
Her cell phone rings again and Chelsea lightly rolls her eyes – ten missed calls and twelve unread text messages from Anita. She pockets the cell phone and drinks her lukewarm ginger tea.
As more weeks go by, Chelsea realizes that this kid is more than a bargaining chip and the key to millions. She feels him kick for the first time – it's new and weird and makes her laugh a little.
Maybe it's the hormones or the maternal instinct that shocks her by its existence, but Chelsea likes to imagine taking this kid to the beach. Or, getting him a little wetsuit when he's old enough.
Perhaps, she will even teach him how to surf. Realistically though, Chelsea can't provide in the way she knows a parent should. Chelsea doesn't sign over custody and her parental rights to disappear but the opposite: when her son is older, she wants him to know that she does that to give him a happy home where there is always love, and more importantly, stability.
She wants to be something good to somebody, even if it's not anyone else but her own child.
She stops caring about everyone else a long time ago.
Chelsea wants this little boy to know that his daddy and his wife will be his new parents that will make him unbelievably happy. He will be happy with these two people are so in love with each other and him in utero. Billy and Victoria can give him the best of everything she can't, and really never has in her childhood.
Here's what Chelsea starts to understand: booting Anita out of her life in Billy and Victoria's living room makes her feel as if she has something resembling control of her life.
She won't go anywhere with Anita ever again.
Billy doesn't like her, Chelsea gets that, but he dislikes Anita a whole lot more.
She's not that surprised when he sides with her, in kicking her mother out.
Chelsea doesn't say anything but thanks because they'll never really be friends.
And really, she doesn't want to be so she'll rip those pages out of those books with the ending as Billy being with her. Chelsea watches the way Billy looks at Victoria and even she knows when to back off.
It's not her ride in the sunset and she can't con her way into this happy ending.
(She's doesn't read those at all.)
Chelsea twirls the pen in her hands and sighs.
"I'll sign over custody if he gets to know who I am. I want to play a role in his life. Those are my terms – take it or leave it," she says definitely, and puts the pen down, ready not to sign just in case. She's been left hanging too many times, knows the familiar feeling of handcuffs around her wrists. Her own mother enters and exits her life more times than Chelsea counts.
She won't be shut out, which is ironic considering Chelsea is the one who always carries the short straws and rigs it so she wins and gets the longest one of all.
Victoria offers a smile and Chelsea knows it's just for the sake of being civil but doesn't call her out because they will never be best friends, but for once, civil is good.
"We're fine with that."
"And we're not going to leave you out in the cold. He's going to know who his mother and he'll be proud of you," Billy assures honestly and Chelsea remembers that this isn't a con anymore; this is reality and it's not about her or the money. Not even a little bit.
"Okay," Chelsea agrees, picks up the pen and is surprised when there are tears that blur the fancy, legal words in front of her. She may not even have a high school diploma, but she knows what she's signing. Quickly wiping away a tear, she scrawls her real, authentic signature on the dotted line marked biological mother across from Billy's signature.
Chelsea signs away her parental rights and signs her child into the best life possible.
Billy Abbott is a prince of the Trust Fund Baby variety, but he's already in love with an ice princess of his own, and that won't change – not ever. Victoria is his wife, he tells her, and he's madly in love with her. So, Billy won't leave and build some kind of pseudo-family with Chelsea, but he will do the right thing by his son.
Anita's wrong about the white horse – it doesn't go lame.
The white horse is just for two people that have the house out of a television show, the white picket fence – even the dog that recoils, whimpers or walks away when Chelsea's around. There's a lot of warmth in this ugly looking, TV show house and she finds herself picturing what thing his little hands will break here in childhood curiosity.
And let's face it: she's not Mommy material.
She needs and hey, she's greedy, because she's intrinsically selfish but being selfless is new uncharted territory.
Honestly, being selfless is plain hard.
Chelsea lies awake in the bed of her garage apartment and lies to Victoria that she's been sleeping well when this baby likes to press a hand to her side or kicks her awake around this time of night.
She places a hand over her baby bump and rubs it, as if to calm this kid down.
"Look, I get it. You're restless," Chelsea sighs, and shifts so she can sit up because her back is lightly starts to throb. Pregnancy sucks and she's over it once the morning sickness starts. She winces, feeling a foot kick her in the side. "I totally understand. But I have to get some sleep or Victoria will give me more grief. Please."
In response, the baby kicks her again on the top of her abdomen and she groans, quietly.
Chelsea's not going to get any sleep and Victoria needs to stop hovering. Having the girl who gets naked for attention as a babysitter on top of that, is just sad and annoying.
She gets out of bed, satisfies her craving for ice-cream by starting on a mini tub of Neapolitan with pineapple slices and watches the only decent episode of Friends on at three in the morning.
Chelsea gazes at the little ultrasound picture with those surfer's feet and nicknames him, Squid, because it feels like this baby kicks in two or three places at once.
It reminds her of the ocean she loves but when she wants to escape the four walls of the garage apartment, Victoria's hovering and everyone else in Genoa City, Chelsea gets in her car and drives.
It's not the beach and Chelsea can't exactly take a surfboard to it, but it's a quiet lake on the edge of town with a little dock and a cottage that nobody uses.
And then there are the prenatal yoga classes at the Club. She kind of likes that.
Adam Newman isn't a prince, but more of an Anti-Prince.
He's really smart and the only one in Genoa City to not see her as gum on the bottom of a shoe. He's different. He has no expectations from her, doesn't judge her and neither does she.
Adam is just someone Chelsea can talk to, banter with. It feels nice.
He's blind and she's pregnant, and everyone still stares at them but Chelsea is very impressed with his screw the world philosophy – partly because it's a part of her doctrine, too.
"It's the only way to stay sane in this town of hypocrites."
"I'll drink to that," she replies, with a smile and toasts her orange juice to screwing the world and everyone in it at least for a little while.
When Chelsea is eight and gets tired of asking her mother where her father is, or where he is, she makes him up. She makes up her father from the depths of her imagination and holds on to that image. Maybe if she holds on to him long enough, he'll come around and be real.
In her fairytale, her dad rides a Harley. He smokes and wears leather jackets even when it's hot outside. He travels all over the country and brings her souvenirs: a plastic Oscar statue from Los Angeles, a pair of dice that glow in the dark and a deck of cards from Las Vegas, and maybe even a pair of boots from Houston. She looks her like mom but Chelsea probably has her motorcycle-riding, cigarette smoking dad's nose or they probably have the same laugh. Or, she has his eyes.
As she gets older, Chelsea develops this stupid habit of looking at men that could be old enough to be her dad and look like her, too. But here comes reality telling her that she's the daughter of a man who doesn't know she even exists. Or, it could be worse: Chelsea could be the daughter of a man who knows of her existence and doesn't give a damn.
She'd rather hold on to the Harley riding father of hers in her head, if that's the case.
Chelsea can pinpoint the exact moment she and Adam becoming something more than just confidantes, something more just than buddies that happen to be in the same place by equal parts coincidence and equal parts circumstance: it's when Chelsea casually trips and Adam is there to catch her from behind.
"Oh my God," she says, on a laugh as Adam steadies her. "Thank you."
Adam offers a smile, "It's no problem. It's my day job."
She's fallen so many times before with no one to stop it, so Chelsea deals with it by causing others to fall, and fall harder than she does.
This is the only time someone actually stops Chelsea Lawson from falling and she appreciates that.
Chelsea comes back from another yoga class and not even the fact that Victoria picks up her prenatal vitamins – she's the self-sufficient type that won't let anyone do anything for her – when she could easily drive and get them herself, ruins her good mood.
The baby continues to be healthy, gets bigger, and kicks harder.
She walks up to Adam's doorstep and knocks. Chelsea wants one of the Club's really good Deluxe BLT's and maybe, Adam would like to join her and just hang out. After all, their very own Genoa City Pariah Table is open – the one everyone walks by and talks crap about while they sit there. Knocking three times, she waits until the door opens and Adam is standing there.
"Hey, it's Chelsea," she says, because well, he can't see.
Adam smiles, "I know it's you. Come in," and he steps aside to let her in, before closing the door behind her.
"Really? How?" Chelsea questions, adjusting the strap of her yoga bag absentmindedly.
"Well, I can see now. At first, it was just outlines and shapes, and now, I can actually see things," he says, and she can't hide being happy for him. Adam continues with a light smile on his face. "It's not all the way there. It's about eighty percent, but the doctor says it'll take some time to get there. I can see well enough."
"That's amazing! Oh my God," Chelsea exclaims, with a genuine grin on her face. She's happy for him but then it dawns on her and she frowns, slightly. "But wait? What about your family? Aren't you going to tell them?"
"No. It's not like the Newmans are going to throw me a parade anyway."
Chelsea chuckles, a little. "Hmm, true," she offers Adam a smile and touches his arm. "Well, I'm happy for you and was just wondering if you wanted to go with me to the dining room downstairs. Just to hang out."
She could use the company of someone who gets it. And possibly, her.
Adam obliges with a nod and grabs his jacket, "By all means then, lead the way."
Adam Newman becomes a friend, and Chelsea thinks, maybe, it's not so bad having one of those. Besides, it's her first time making friends with a Restless Style cover boy.
(It's been lifetimes since blazing Arizona summers and sharing popsicles with Morgan that stain their tongues and lips a bright cherry red.)
"Is it stupid that I want to know who my father is?" Chelsea asks one day, when she and Adam hang out again. She plays with a loose thread on the couch of his room. These hormones are making her tear up and making her soft when Chelsea's not built to be this way. She's over being pregnant. Totally and completely over it. Blinking the tears back, she sighs, "I know it's stupid. But when I was younger and I'd walk around, I'd look for men that were old enough to be my father and see if any of them looked like me."
No, not stupid, Adam replies, it just proves how human you are.
"I went through a good chunk of my life, thinking that another man was my father until my mother's dying day," Adam shrugs. "It's a double edged sword having Victor Newman as a father, but that's life. But if you want to know who your father is, we could find out."
Chelsea can't possibly know who or where her father is. The world is too big and too wide and sometimes, she feels as if she runs across it three times over.
She still holds on to the image of her leather jacket wearing cigarette-smoking, motorcycle-riding imaginary father and destroys the missionary, Bible-thumping one, Anita forces her to keep in her back pocket for conning people with bleeding hearts.
"We could start with where your mother was when you were born. Or, if you could remember the hospital you were born in, we could get your birth records. And we need a disposable e-mail address."
Chelsea can pick locks and pickpocket with ease – not hack into records that are decades old.
She remembers the name of the hospital from a random conversation with Anita (University of Nevada, Las Vegas Women's and Children's Hospital) and Adam types it in the search engine on his tablet.
"Those records are locked up tight."
"In that case," Adam says, with a smirk and pulls out his cell phone from his back pocket, "we use our powers of underhandedness for good this time. You need to pretend to be your mother, though."
Chelsea almost laughs and replies with a smooth confidence, "Easy."
Chelsea still wants to be an actress. And she stupidly holds on to that.
The phone rings in her ear and she psyches herself up for this, like every other con.
Money and millions isn't the objective this time but it could equally change her life.
(Lights, camera, action!)
The hospital actually buys Chelsea masquerading as Anita. After all, she has lifelong practice.
What's more laughably shocking, the hospital actually buys the whole spiel about wanting to hold on to "my only baby's birth certificate for posterity," since Anita is oh so devastated about losing the original. Now, the birth certificate sits in a disposable e-mail inbox as a password protected file.
With a few taps on Adam's tablet computer, Chelsea will know who her father is. She will know about the man who fathers her – if he's a decent person with no knowledge of her or a man who is scum of the earth but knows of a daughter, knows of her.
STATE OF NEVADA
PROOF OF LIVE BIRTH
GIVEN NAME: Chelsea Mary
DATE OF BIRTH: September 17
MOTHER: Lawson, Anita Fay
FATHER: Bardwell, Jeffrey Hugh
Once upon a time, there's a girl.
She's not the princess at all in any fairytale or fable. Her mother steals to become something of a queen and her father is a stranger, a name on a legal-looking piece of paper with a seal on it.
Somewhere between trying to take in the gravity of what happens here and dealing with little instances of regret, Chelsea image of that father with the motorcycle doesn't just disappear.
It shatters into so many tiny fragments and fall around her that Chelsea won't be able to count, much less, pick them all up.
So, it's Jeffrey Bardwell – the same who works at Gloworm.
"Oh, my God."
Chelsea takes a deep breath and is angry with herself and her mother. Why in the hell does her heart race like this? After all, she and this man are simply strangers who will pass each other without a glance and never do it again. Anita uses this as emotional blackmail, but really, does she expect anything else? It takes one con artist to cut another off at the knees, Anita once tells her.
Chelsea is actually forced to replay Darcy's parting words in her mind, the diamond tennis bracelet buried in her pockets and on its way to a pawn shop: "You're slightly tolerable when you're not Anita's shadow. Maybe I care. And maybe, I could care less, but that woman doesn't have a maternal bone in her body. Even you're not that jaded, being ignorant to that fact. Then again, ignorance is bliss."
It's an already bad day gone worse when Chelsea has no choice but to admit Darcy is right, although slitting her wrists is a tempting alternative.
"Do you need a moment?"
All this while Adam is in the room and it's nice of him to be so concerned.
It's also nice of him to help her with this.
"No," Chelsea answers, resolutely. She has to do this once and for all. Maybe, it's because she has a grifter's mind but Chelsea can't help but think that the birth certificate is forged. But it's a hospital. It's filled with nurses and doctors, good people who do good things like saving lives. "I don't need any time. I'm ready."
Chelsea's sure about this, though.
"And, thank you, Adam."
"Don't mention it," he answers with a conciliatory half-smile (because they're friends like that), pulls on his coat, helps with hers and grabs his car keys. "To Gloworm."
"You," Chelsea says, coming face to face with the man whose name is printed on her birth certificate, "you're my father."
She stands in front of the man who fathers her.
And Anita runs in the opposite direction; she'd know if Chelsea actually sees that.
Here's what Chelsea comes to realize as she crashes something that looks like a wedding: Mr. Bardwell – because she won't call that man, Dad – denies her and says he's just the uncle. But really, Jeffrey Bardwell is the worm in Gloworm. Chelsea wishes that maybe, dead and gone William Bardwell is her dad instead.
This baby will know Billy as his father, because Chelsea never knows hers.
And she thinks if the hands of time are turned and Chelsea grows up with a good person as a kid she can call Dad, will she grow up to be an honest person as an adult?
Learning to be on the straight and narrow now, is like riding a unicycle blindfolded.
What it comes down to is this: Chelsea's at a genetic disadvantage in every direction.
Chelsea sighs, looking at her reflection in the mirror.
She's in a bath robe fresh from a shower that can't help her relax. She misses seeing her feet.
"You're going to be a good person from the beginning, Squid, with two parents that are good people to raise you and love you," Chelsea says, rubbing her belly. She's gonna protect this kid from afar, despite legalities saying this isn't her kid anymore. She's still a mother. "I'm going to protect you and the only way I can do that is to make sure you never know Anita."
To help her relax and get over the past couple of days, Chelsea orders a medium meat lover's pizza.
(Chelsea gets Victoria is being helpful, and it's nice when it's not suffocating but if Victoria says the word nutritionist one more time, Chelsea will scream.)
Chelsea picks up a couple of good books and a chai tea at Trumbles (they are no such things as family discounts here and the Five Finger discount is for the clinically stupid or the really rookie con).
They're interesting biographies on Marilyn Monroe and James Dean in hardcover.
She's looking forward to getting to read them so she leaves them at the garage apartment on the table and goes to the Athletic Club to get a chicken sandwich on rye to go.
Her feet start to hurt, so Chelsea takes a seat to wait, counts the number of menus in the room, and randomly wonder when the hell her nail polish gets chipped. A waiter comes by, Franklin – by the looks of his name tag.
"Can I have a water, please?"
Chelsea plans to go home, eat her lunch, run a couple errands, read the biographies of stars that shine so bright but fall so fast and then nap a little until Victoria comes up to her table.
"Oh, good. I caught you. I need to talk to you about something."
Chelsea is genuinely innocent and does nothing wrong. Billy isn't home but the Abbotts can chill out. Their jewelry is fine and their really expensive (because, they're rich like that) china is intact. She's legitimately innocent here. At least, she can't remember doing anything recently.
"Okay, what about?"
Victoria sits and Chelsea is still waiting for her water. It comes, Chelsea says thanks and Franklin leaves.
"Adam. Listen, I know you've struck some kind of friendship with him and I'm telling you that wouldn't be the best thing," Victoria warns, and Chelsea sips her water. She continues. "He hurt a lot of people in this town. He tortured Ashley – Abby's mom – and made her miscarry, and then stole Sharon's baby – my niece – to cover it up. All I'm saying is he's known to hurt the people who get closest to him. Please stay away from him."
But, Chelsea thinks, as she sips more of her water, isn't that about conning about? She spends a good sizable chunk of her life making the closest friends out of those she hates the most.
"I understand that, Victoria. Okay."
(Chelsea agrees, goes home, starts the Marilyn Monroe book, naps and then sees Adam Newman two or three times in the week. Victoria should know her better than that.)
She's hotwired three cars, stolen two of them, written and forged a bunch of bounced cheques.
Chelsea has more names and identities she can count on her fingers and toes, lands in juvie four times, jail (eighteen's the golden number) at least eight or nine times.
She only sleeps with two married men, gets knocked up half the time – she never plans to get pregnant with Billy's baby; whether anyone believes her or not is irrelevant here.
She watches a boy she sort of loves bleed out on the wet pavement once.
Adam does horrible things, and so does she.
In Chelsea's eyes, Adam's not dangerous to her. She's not buying into the scary pictures Genoa City paints of Adam because her childhood and adolescence is the epitome of rough and tumble.
Besides, she's seen scarier, uglier pictures.
(Here's her honest – and that's like a Leap Year, Hailey's Comet and a blue moon combined – opinion: if asked, Chelsea would say their tallies of misdeeds are equally matched with some margin of error. That's possibly the making of a dynamic duo. And that is why Adam is her friend.)
Here's the following criteria to being a princess, according to some stupid law Chelsea's going to most likely break:
a) being a damsel in distress.
b) having the habit of waiting in high brick towers with no doors and windows.
c) hoping for happily ever after.
(Here's what you should know: Chelsea's more inclined to break the tower and create her own doors and windows and really, she's stealing the prince's shiny horse and getting the hell out of dodge.)
Adam is the only, and Chelsea means only, person to treat her like a human being in this town.
Sometimes, when it's quiet and something like remorse and guilt creeps up, Chelsea wishes that it's better someone treat like her shit so there's a reason to run away again. It's what she knows and someone doing things for her is new territory. But it feels good.
Billy treats Chelsea as his obligation with microscopic instances of civility, because isn't that what she wants in the beginning?
Victoria just sees her as an incubator and they have no right to roll out the red carpet for her (she's not expecting that) or treat her like she's their favourite person (she doesn't want that; they're not hers, either) but at least, Chelsea wants to be treated like she's something beyond this baby bump and the baby boy growing inside.
This is a mistake.
The whole damn situation is a mistake. The baby going to these people is a mistake.
Myanmar is the biggest mistake and the one time, Chelsea cries after puking into a toilet because it's totally unplanned. She knows that, now.
On the flipside, she's slowly starting to love this baby and it scares her.
The words come fast and all at once.
Her heart races like a jackhammer and all Chelsea wants to do is scream.
She wants to scream, cry and throttle someone all at the same time.
She can't breathe.
She can't think and Chelsea can't hear anything but the blood rushing to her ears. Running out, the sudden rush of cold air doesn't even faze her. Victoria yelling her name doesn't remotely stop her only makes Chelsea get in her car faster and want to go anywhere, now.
It's cold but Chelsea gets in her car and floors it so fast that the tires screech against the pavement.
She wants to go far and go fast, because Chelsea wants to be anywhere but here.
Chelsea remembers her aunt, Jane Sinclair (nee: Lawson), by her blue eyes. Morgan inherits her mother's hair colour – that colour that could be brown or blonde, that same light brunette colour but Morgan and Darcy have Uncle Russell's green eyes. Rory's are blue like Aunt Janie's. Maybe, that's why Chelsea likes Rory as a younger brother, more than a cousin.
She can forget everything else but Chelsea cannot forget the shade of blue in her irises of her aunt's eyes. They remind her of the blue colour of the water she likes to surf on. It reminds her of the colour of blue icing Aunt Janie uses to write a Happy Birthday, Chelsea on her sixth birthday cupcake.
She remembers one of the last things Aunt Janie says to her before Chelsea leaves Phoenix behind and never comes back.
She's eighteen and back in Phoenix because Anita isn't. But Chelsea will leave. She always does.
It's in her DNA and hers is messed up.
The office building at the university is fancy with glass revolving doors and golden handles. There are marble floors and carpeted offices. She walks up to the reception front desk and there's a woman with a blouse and skinny jeans at the desk. They could be the same age, but Chelsea doesn't care. There are things more important to her. She's not good at goodbyes, but Aunt Janie is nice enough to her to warrant one from her.
So, here it is. Here, in this big university office with framed pictures of Darcy, Morgan and Rory as kids along with another picture of them as adults on her desk. And of course, Aunt Janie and Uncle Russell on their wedding day years ago on her wall surrounded by the fancy degrees.
"I'm leaving Phoenix, Aunt Janie. I'm not coming back here."
Her aunt blinks, confused, "Leaving? Chelsea, where will you go? How are you going to live?"
"I'll figure it out. I've been doing that and been fine."
Aunt Janie sighs, pulling her glasses of her face and setting them on her desk and groans. "Which means you're going to continue to follow in Anita's footsteps, go from place to place and get in trouble? That's not how you 'figure' anything out. You can't live that way."
Chelsea can't stop this anger that bubbles up – it's the only way she knows how to live and she appreciates not having her life analyzed or cut to pieces.
And she's the best at it. She doesn't want any help. Chelsea just wants to say goodbye and get out.
She laughs hollowly and bitterly, starting to think this goodbye is a mistake, "I'll be fine."
"What has Anita done to you?"
She laughs hollowly and bitterly, starting to think this goodbye is a mistake, "I know you don't like my mother very much. Or, me. Whatever. That's okay, so I'm going to stop being an inconvenience and leave. Goodbye, Aunt Janie."
As she turns on her heel, Aunt Janie grabs her arm and lightly turns her around.
"No, not goodbye," Aunt Jane says, sharply, a fire in her blue eyes now. "Chelsea, I'm going to tell you something you need to hear. You desperately need to hear this. So, you will not move until I'm done with you."
She's ready to get told off and lines every scathing remark in her mind like missiles – hit them, before they hit her until her aunt's blue eyes carry this look of brutal honesty that makes her stay. Chelsea almost feels as though she doesn't deserve this underlying kindness in them, either. Tears start to pool in them, "I love you, Chelsea. Even when there's that stubborn streak you get from your mother, even then, I love you," Aunt Janie pulls away, the look in her eyes still slightly softened, but her lips pressed together in a thin line. Her tone is stern. "Sometimes, all you need to have someone tell you that you matter, Chelsea – that someone gives a damn. So, I'm telling you that you, Chelsea Mary Lawson, matter to me."
"And sometimes," Chelsea argues back, as her hand subconsciously tightens on her strap of her bag, "it's still not enough."
Aunt Jane raises a curious eyebrow, "Says who?"
"Life!" Chelsea finally shouts, frustrated. "Life makes it not enough. I just want to go see what else is out there for me – if there's anything even there to begin with. I don't do the family thing. I don't do the college thing, Aunt Janie," she sighs, and shrugs. "So, I'm going to go – go wherever, and do whatever. I just came to say goodbye."
"That is a cop out and you know it is. You listen to me and you listen well, Chelsea," Aunt Jane stares at her, and that stern tone is back. She sounds cold like Darcy, warm and passionate like Morgan and leveled and understanding like Rory. "Whatever freedom you think you will get out there, is not worth landing in a jail cell for. Not again."
"There's no possible way I could get you to settle down?"
"You and I both know settling down isn't my thing."
A fond smile finds itself on Aunt Janie's face, "It was worth a shot. You were always the adventurous type."
Against everything, Chelsea can't help but have a shadow of a smile on her face, too.
Her aunt tells her to hold on a minute before going into a smaller drawer in her dark mahogany brown desk. She lightly presses a necklace into Chelsea's palm – an anchor-shaped pendant on a thin silver chain.
"I don't know if your mother told you, but your grandfather was a sailor. He gave me that to me on my sixteenth birthday. I'd wear it every time he went away to work and it would make me feel safe. Anita used to laugh at me and tells me to get my nose out of those books and quit worrying but it was a way to make me feel like he was never too far away."
Anita never tells Chelsea anything and up until now, the outer branches of her Lawson family tree are just nameless, faceless crowd in that have the same DNA as her. But it's nice to have a family heirloom and a story attached to it.
"I can't take this."
"No," Aunt Janie refuses immediately, "I gave it to you. At least, if you have it and I never hear from you again, I'll know you're okay if I don't somehow get it back."
Her fingers close over the necklace. "Thanks."
Chelsea lightly sniffles as Aunt Janie strokes her cheek and holds her face in her hands, like when Chelsea's a kid and her life isn't complicated yet. She looks into her aunt's eyes – the ones that remind her of a cloudless sky on a sunny afternoon, "However I may feel about your mother, doesn't affect how feel about you. And it never will."
"Aunt Janie, I have to go. But thank you for this."
She'll pawn everything for money but not that. Never this anchor necklace.
"Out there," Aunt Janie says, on a sigh, "is a scary place."
"My number has always been the same."
"I know that, too."
Aunt Janie hugs her goodbye and Chelsea wills, and forces herself not to cry when she leaves her aunt's office, then leaves Phoenix and doesn't look back.
But still, Chelsea remembers her Aunt Janie's eyes.
Life isn't rainbows and butterflies.
(So, Chelsea rips their wings off.)
It's too cold for early April and the lake seems like the sanest place to be right now. There aren't the sounds of birds chirping sparsely. But it's quiet and it's all Chelsea wants – just the moment to breathe.
Chelsea pulls out her cell phone, dials so it doesn't show up on caller ID.
The number is still the same. It's supposed to be the same, Aunt Janie promises years ago.
Chelsea dials the Phoenix phone number she commits from the memory of a childhood that has glimpses of happiness in it.
It rings for four times and Chelsea hears that same voice.
"Hi. You've reached Jane Sinclair. I'm not near my phone. Kindly leave a quick message and I'll get back to you as soon as possible."
Chelsea hangs up, not because she's got nothing to say but because she doesn't know where the beginning starts and a clear path to the ending is blurred.
She's not lying this time to anybody and the truth is harder.
Part of Aunt Jane's happily ever after would be for Chelsea to come home.
Well, she's not that little girl anymore.
(Here's what storybook character Aunt Janie would be in Chelsea's imaginary tale: probably the fairy godmother – maybe.)
Chelsea literally drives herself to the edge of town.
She's always on the edge but never falls off. Chelsea is always staring down a blue, watery abyss but never drowns. She's always defiant and doesn't blink when faced with a little danger.
There's the lake that's hardened so perhaps, she walks around it instead to the little dock. Chelsea likes to sit on that dock and think. She wishes this kid would stop making her weepy. Chelsea sighs, her breath coming in little puff of smoke. Damn it, it's cold.
She gets off the wooden surface of the dock and pulls her coat more closely to her body.
The ice looks hard enough and Chelsea surfs waves higher and much more erratic than an ice-hardened lake.
Here's what Chelsea Lawson doesn't hear, because her thoughts are jumbled and racing and it's a lot of hard work, slowing them down again: the seemingly hard surface of the ice cracking and slowly pulling apart underneath her feet and gravity pulling her in.
Chelsea feels the water so cold, hears herself trying to scream for help when it's such a foreign concept (she lives in the bubble that pits her against the other seven billion on this big blue ball of dust).
The water is so icy, her thoughts stop completely and there's just the baby to think of.
There's just the baby. There's just her baby boy.
(Chelsea watches her bootlegged VHS version of Titanic so many times the tape becomes worn. Leonardo DiCapario makes this look freaking easy. She will admit to herself – nobody else matters – that she is scared. Chelsea can't run anymore, but her baby can't die either.)
There's that thing where when a person is about to die, their whole life flashes before their eyes.
Chelsea doesn't have that.
Instead, she hears the last chorus of Poison's Every Rose Has Its Thorn somewhere in her head and smells the distant scent of cigarette smoke and ashtrays when there's no one there. It's too colder for anything to burn.
Chelsea doesn't believe in ghosts but she feels colder and tries not to shiver so much.
And there's this baby. She won't let anything to happen to him. She can't.
"Damn it, Jared," Chelsea curses on a sob she's surprised to hear escape her throat, "I'm sorry I ran. I'm sorry, okay?"
While she's busy throwing out apologies in the air mentally and trying not to die, Chelsea's sorry that an innocent little girl almost dies without her father. And she's sorry about a man she helps trap in a foreign prison that blocks him from being with the daughter she can tell he loves so much.
If the universe throws them back in her face and God laughs at her, then oh well –
Once upon a time, there's a girl. This isn't the time for a fairytale. This isn't the time for a happy ending and maybe, for Chelsea Lawson, the prince is optional or non-existent. Either way, the universe doesn't make it the time for the pursuit of something resembling a happily ever.
Her favourite colours are sea foam green and turquoise blue.
She's born on September 17. Black forest cake is the best kind of cake and her favourite type of muffin is banana nut. The song playing in her head at this moment – although it's completely random and Chelsea doesn't understand why – is "Straight Up" by Paula Abdul.
Her full name is Chelsea Mary Lawson with no false name or alias at her disposal.
She's not Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, or even Snow White and she doesn't care. Here's what she does care about: still trying to survive so this innocent baby's life doesn't stop before it begins.
Straight up, now tell me: do you really wanna love me forever? Oh, oh, oh –
Nobody ever risks their life to save hers, until Jared loses his for the sake of protecting her.
Then, there's Adam Newman.
He lays his body flat against the ice that's already too thin against any kind of weight and extends his hand towards her.
"Chelsea, you have to grab my hand!"
No, she can't. It's too far from hers, Chelsea thinks, feeling cold from the icy water and hot from a dull throbbing pain in her abdomen.
"Just try, hun. You're going to be okay."
She tries and all she gets are fingertips that are a little beyond her reach.
"Just a little more," Adam says, with an encouragement she doesn't hear for a long time, and she's scared but Chelsea tries again, gets his hand and doesn't let go. She's shivering and crying and wet. Adam quickly pulls her into his fold and trades his coat for her wet and cold and one before more goosebumps can appear. "That's it. You're okay. I got you, Chelsea."
"I-I tried to walk around and the ice – it cracked and I fell in," she tries to explain but the cold messes with Chelsea's head and the reason she comes here is nothing but a fading memory. It's like static on the television screen in her head. "Oh, God, you saved my life. You saved my baby. Thank you. Thank you, so much. I'm s-so cold."
"It's okay," Adam assures and pulls his coat, closer to her shivering body. "Come on. We've just got to get you somewhere warm. I've got you, don't worry."
Chelsea's cold. But a rush of warmth is followed by a lot of pain when she's gets to one foot and she knows what's happening.
"Ow!" she takes in a sharp intake of breath and screams, clutching her belly, "My baby's coming!"
She doesn't remember the beginning of the birth of her son. And Chelsea's mind has jumbled the events of ending, but Chelsea remembers the pain. She remembers that, most of all.
It's Adam who saves her, delivers her son. Chelsea can't help but finally see him and then cry and be relieved when the sound of his first cry is finally heard. Her head knows it's Adam. Chelsea sees it's Adam as she stares at him from the cabin floor.
For a minute, though, Chelsea feels sixteen years old and sees a boy with dark hair, torn jeans and a Nirvana t-shirt smiling at her with a cigarette that he puts behind his ear, so he can smoke it later.
His eyes are the same. Those green eyes.
"Your kid's fine, Chels. He survived."
Jared always calls her Chels. Never Chelsea and she's suddenly thrown into a panic. Jared's dead. Chelsea sees it all; the switchblade piercing his chest, the guy catching her eye as he runs and Jared falling. The blood is being pushed out with every beat of his slowing heart. She will never forget the way Jared gasps for breath and the pavement is stained dark red underneath him. That's when Chelsea makes the decision to run – run far, far, away before the sirens and the police catch her. She's just a sixteen year old kid.
Jared Nelson is dead. He's dead.
"I want my baby. Give me my baby."
Chelsea blinks and it's Adam again, giving her the baby wrapped in a towel. All she wants to do is hold him, feel that he's warm and alive and just okay.
"Okay," Adam says, with a grin on his face and slides this kid that's here by a miracle in her arms. "Here he is – he's your little surfer dude."
Right. Because Chelsea can really see his surfer feet through the tears that blur his vision.
"Hi, little guy," she greets and sniffles. She's hot and tired – giving birth without drugs is no joke. Correction: giving birth without drugs in a life and death situation is no joke. Then she's cold, and starting to feel nauseous. Chelsea sees her baby's face: the way his eyes are closed peacefully, his little nose and his mouth emitting little cries and whimpers that are quieter. His little fingers – all ten of them – open and close and those future Olympic swimmer's (only in her dreams, far, far away) feet have all ten toes. "You're beautiful. You ready for that little wet suit I promised you, huh?"
She wants to stare into this little baby's face little longer, capture it as a snapshot and lock it away in her heart because she has to let him go.
Billy and Victoria are going to raise him, love him and give him a happy home. Yet Chelsea is the one who feels this baby for close to nine months. She feels him move within her and even talks to him. Chelsea can't help but love him, too.
All she can do is love him from afar. All Chelsea will be still is that stupid girl on the outside looking in.
(So, Chelsea will be a little more selfish for a little longer and play pretend.)
Chelsea wants to hold him a little longer but she finds her eyelids too heavy to keep open.
She finds herself drifting away so she asks Adam to hold onto the baby because she trust no one else, and finally, Chelsea Lawson lets the strong pull of sleep pull her under.
"Am I hallucinating?" Chelsea questions, in a stunned whisper.
He's right there in front of her and those eyes don't change at all. They're still the shade of green that remind Chelsea of a cat's eye marble. Jared still puts butterflies in her stomach and makes her stupid heart tap a staccato beat. She can't think. Chelsea can't – no, she falls through ice; Adam saves her and her baby's life. She gives birth on a cabin floor to a little boy and he's beautiful.
Too beautiful to forget.
Jared lights a cigarette with a slight smile, touching his lips, "Hello to you, too. You're not hallucinating."
"Yes, I am. You're not real."
He shrugs, "Well, your perception of real is different from mine, Chels. Subjectivity."
"No!" Chelsea shouts, more fiercely now. She shakes her head, adamantly, and is mad that there are tears in her eyes. She's angry with herself. "No, you're dead! I saw it happen!"
Jared inhales a drag, the end of the cigarette glowing a bright orange before it goes out again. He exhales, blowing a stream of smoke.
"Yeah. I was there, too," he jokes and laughs that same laugh Chelsea still hears in her quietest moments, in her deepest thoughts. "You're not crazy, or going insane." Jared lightly rakes his hair back with the fingers his left hand, cigarette between the fingers of his right. Another inhale. Another exhale. "You're just coping with a really bad, traumatic situation here."
"No, I'm not."
"Yes, you are. Don't argue with me, sweetheart."
Chelsea blinks, confused. She doesn't need to be coping with anything. She needs to get to her kid.
"I'm sorry, I ran and left you behind," she apologizes, with a lump that starts to form in Chelsea's throat and is as sincere as she can be. Chelsea's list of lies is miles and miles long. "But I can't see you. You need to go."
Jared smiles, taking a step toward her and Chelsea takes two steps backwards.
"I can't go anywhere if you don't let me go, Chelsea," Jared says, his eyes losing that light hearted glint in them and becoming serious. "Stop thinking of me," he tells her and swears under his breath, sighs and then slowly breaks out smiling again. His tone becomes resigned and he shrugs his shoulders. He finishes his cigarette, crushes it under his combat boot. "I'm not mad that you ran. I couldn't protect you anymore, and you protected yourself. That's how we do it, right? Let me go. It's okay."
"I don't want to."
It's one of the mental Polaroid pictures in Chelsea's life she keeps – not like one of the many that are burned, singed black and twisted by flame until they become ash. This Polaroid, being sixteen and with Jared, is burned around the edges but the picture still clear enough in her head. So, no, she doesn't want to forget him. But Chelsea also doesn't want to hang around her pseudo-ghost, possible figment of her imagination, of an ex-boyfriend, either – if it can even to be called that.
"Shit. Still stubborn as ever," Jared rolls his eyes while chuckling, and rakes a hand through his dark hair again. "Fine, let me go – just enough that can you live your life. You were always the type itching to be free. Remember?"
Chelsea isn't sure what she does and doesn't remember, yet she remembers seeing the Space Needle Tower, the view of the Pacific Ocean and Puget Sound, drinking coffee and making out in the rain.
She remembers conversations about being together about going everywhere and nowhere at once. But wherever, they end it will always be the same: Chelsea would have Jared; and Jared would have her, always.
"Like I would even forget."
One drop of water hit Chelsea's arm. Another hits her cheek, and another hits her on the nose.
Chelsea looks up and it starts to rain.
"You need to wake up," Jared says, softly. He stares her in the eyes and Chelsea can't speak. The rain soaks her all over and it reminds her of Seattle – always in a downpour. He reaches up, hand slowly stroking her cheek. His fingers feel warm and it's a dream, a really, stupid wish Chelsea locks away for years but bursts open.
Jared presses a soft kiss to her forehead and Chelsea feels sixteen years old again for a little bit.
"Wake up, Bright Eyes."
That's what greets Chelsea Lawson when she wakes up from something she can quite remember.
There's an IV in her arm and she hears the steady beeping of the monitor. And there's a nurse.
She's in a hospital, Chelsea gathers that much. But what happens?
"Nurse, what happened to me?"
Her head lightly throbs and she feels…different. She knows from sheer street smarts and common sense that it's bad – that it's serious. But Chelsea can't seem to grasp the details and it's a little frustrating.
"You don't remember what happened?"
Chelsea swallows the verbal bile and barely remembering the urge to say something sarcastic and bitchy. Chelsea lightly shakes her head, "No, I don't," and then slightly explains, "I don't remember enough. Could you just tell me? Please?"
Everything is all messed up. Chelsea remembers biting cold, and then warmth, pain and then nothing. There is a thick haze, a fog over the memories that are probably there but too tiring to get to.
"Ms. Lawson, you were brought in for a fever and slight hypothermia. But you're going to be fine with a little rest."
The nurse smiles at Chelsea, softly, "And you had a baby – a little boy."
"I did?" Chelsea asks, mentally trying to put together the jigsaw puzzle in her head, piece by piece. How does she get off the ice? Even she can't do that herself. She remembers being pregnant, and on ice. Then, Chelsea flashes in her head to holding her son and seeing his face – especially he opens his eyes for a brief second before closing them again. Chelsea's heart twists and skips a beat. She wants to know where he is, how he's doing. She shifts in bed, a little, "Where is he? Is he okay?"
"Don't worry," the nurse assures. "He's breathing on his own, completely healthy and resting at the NICU. He'll be just fine."
"Okay," Chelsea sighs, relieved. That's something good.
That's something great, actually, in a cesspool of stuff that usually suck.
Being Anita's daughter isn't all bad.
She moves a lot as a kid, under different names, and different appearances but there's something close to normalcy.
(Here's the thing: Chelsea is afraid to blink, because then the normalcy goes away if she does.)
Sometimes, Anita cares about her and protects her from the cops, sirens and handcuffs. One thing Chelsea can say is that as much as Anita loves to break the bones of other people to get to the top, she'll pull Chelsea upwards with her and is protective. Though, Chelsea can't tell where her protectiveness stems from – oh, well, it's too much of a hassle to analyze Anita and her motives.
But then, sometimes, it seems like Anita and her desire for money and the Ultimate Payoff is like Chelsea's ugly Imaginary Sibling and she's left hurt and emotionally sunburnt – yet there's more irony: Chelsea doesn't feel remorse when conning people; they're insignificant names on a bad check, petty names engraved on a bad credit card, and then time marches on as the con is done.
Yet it stings when it's her own mother that does the conning and Chelsea finds herself being the mark.
Anita bursts in the door, looking panicked and worried.
For a moment, Chelsea feels like she's seven and her mother takes her to a zoo on her birthday, just so that the zoo gives her a free meal and cake at their restaurant – because Anita wants her to feel special.
"Oh! Chelsea, what have they done to you?" Anita cries, and hugs her. Anita strokes her hair, and Chelsea is almost stunned – but then again, her mother is always overdramatic. Her mother kisses her head and says, "Thank goodness, those Abbotts and Newmans will compensate us big time for this. Oh, my poor baby."
Of course, compensation equals money – money Anita thinks Chelsea will get from Billy and Victoria for signing over the baby and allowing them to Victoria to legally adopt him.
It's all about the con.
Chelsea isn't perfect and is laughable that she would try to be, but for the first time, she tries to do something that isn't right or wrong. It isn't by anyone's standards, not even by hers. She does it for the sake of her baby and Anita ruins it. She ruins it and for once, it's not about money or being rich. She swears it – Chelsea really does, although lightning may or may not strike through the hospital window. That's her truth.
Anita pulls away with a grin and asks, "Now, where's my grandson?"
Chelsea recoils from her mother (it's the invisible sunburn, it's always the imaginary sunburn) like being burned and glares, "Don't call him that," she snaps and then yells, the words bursting out of her before she can stop them, but Chelsea doesn't want to. It's been years coming, "Don't you ever call him that! You're unbelievable, Mom! I almost died! My baby almost died and all you care about is the money? We almost died and you're asking me about a stupid payoff! Get out!"
"Chelsea – "
"No! No, I don't want to hear it!" she screams, not caring who listens, what the nurses think, or if the doctors bitch at her for breaking their stupid procedures. Just because Chelsea is in a bed, confined by damn nurses who hover and medicine that makes her a little sleepy, it doesn't mean she should start now. To hell with the rules. "Get out of here! Get out of Genoa City, and get out of my life!"
"Fine, I'll leave," Anita throws her hands up in resignation and is about to go, walk out the door but adds, "But you listen to me. If you're gonna give your baby up, you should at least get to see him before you give him to those snooty rich folks."
Chelsea sets her jaw, and doesn't look at her mother anymore and she hears the door slam shut.
She lets out a shaky sigh and angrily wipes a tear away while others slightly dampen her cheeks.
Anita's blood's thicker than water speech worms its way into Chelsea's heart, instead of her head this time: this – seeing her baby, her little surfer – will be her most difficult hello and her hardest goodbye.
Once upon a time, there's a girl.
And she doesn't know what the hell the plot of her story is anymore. It's beyond handsome princes and fire-breathing dragons so rather than figure it out, Chelsea Lawson puts it in on pause.
There are 192 tiles on the ceiling of her hospital room.
Or, something like that since Chelsea possibly counts the same tile twice.
Chelsea is expecting the doctor, or even another nurse to hover and pick at her with their needles.
But no, she doesn't get another of those things. Instead, Chelsea gets Billy and Victoria standing in the doorway of her hospital room – the one with the 192 or 193 tiles. But Chelsea doesn't care about the stupid tiles.
"We just came by to see how you were doing," Billy says, and Chelsea notices the white hospital band around his wrist. They already see the baby. They already love him – it's written all over their faces.
Chelsea plays with the sheets, bunched around her feet, "Thanks. So, how is he?"
"He's perfect," Victoria answers, like she's already in love with the baby. That's because she is. Chelsea can respect that, and Chelsea doesn't respect that many things or, for that matter, people in her lifetime. "He's the perfect baby, Chelsea."
Billy sighs, "Look, it's the worst place to do this, but we thought the issue of custody needed to be brought up."
Chelsea blinks and smiles, almost sardonically. Wow, a whole two minutes before the elephant in the room is pointed out. Usually, that damn elephant is everywhere.
"Wow, you two don't waste a second, do you?"
Chelsea is lying if she doesn't admit that a part of her doesn't find the way Victoria freaks out, kind of funny and entertaining when there's nothing decent and the news on TV sucks. But it's for her baby. It's all for that innocent little boy, who will have a family.
Not the Lawson family trainwreck.
"We didn't want to push but – "
Chelsea cuts Victoria off, as gently as she can – which is gentle as she defines it, however someone else may take it. Perception is key to her, the most critical thing a con artist even the ones trying not to be that way anymore (note: emphasis of trying). But still, she remembers Anita's words and they play over and over in her head.
Chelsea sighs, resolutely, looking these two in the eyes. She knows what she's doing.
"Listen, I'm not going to talk about this anymore until I see my kid."
Here's what Billy and Victoria need to know: she's a liar, and yeah, Chelsea likes to bend the truth until it can't be bent anymore and snaps in half, for her own benefit. But she's trying to redefine whatever her definition may be. She's going to stand in front of a judge and tell the truth. She'll back up whatever she signs in front of a judge.
Basically, Chelsea is going to make up with the Law after fighting it for so long.
Chelsea just wants to hold her child one more time and tell him stuff he won't remember but she will never forget. Time will still tick forward – seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years – and he will grow up oblivious to what is about to happen.
For Chelsea, the memory will swim in and out focus and she'll try to make new, not-so-horrible memories to make peace with it. It'll be faded with age in some places, but never really permanently erased. She can't do that.
The nurse places the baby in her arms as a bundle of blue.
He's pink and his skin is soft like she remembers.
She likes to think he has her nose, and even her ears. Hell, Chelsea likes to think he looks like her more than Billy, period. Yet, that's not entirely the truth. But yeah, this baby has some of his daddy in him, too. Which is why Chelsea never lies about the DNA test, as much as they would like to believe that.
"Victoria's right. You are perfect," Chelsea says, gently rocking him so he doesn't cry. He whimpers and wiggles around. Sometimes, he opens his eyes blows raspberries. She sniffles, and holds the tears back. The way he's conceived isn't the way she planned – she doesn't care about the unbelief, or disbelief – but this is one beautiful boy. "Hey, now, listen to me. Your daddy and his wife out there are gonna to protect you, make sure you're always happy and loved. You're never going to be sad, or hurt ever."
Chelsea will make sure this little boy will never be in a place where he'll be feel alone or sad or that the world has fucked him over, multiple times. Like she does as a kid.
And he will never feel like he has to run away.
"You're gonna have a big sister and big brother, and a whole bunch of uncles, aunts and cousins to love you," she assures, because as annoying as the Abbotts and Newmans are, Chelsea knows they don't like each other but they will come together and love him. Chelsea sniffles again, wiping a tear because she remembers Aunt Janie and Uncle Russell, Darcy, Rory, and most of all, Morgan who is once her best friend. It's sad. They're cousins. They're in the same town now yet they never cross paths. That's partly her fault and the past never really stays there so, Chelsea has to deal. That's life. That's her life. She won't have that for her baby. She soothes the baby in her arms, her son for the next minute or two. "You're going to be a good person raised in a good, stable home. I'm doing this because I love you," she lifts him slightly, pressing a kiss to the soft material of his capped head and sobs a little, "I'll love you forever, my sweet boy."
The baby is on the brink of crying and Chelsea is on the brink of heartbreak that isn't supposed to be there. But she's ready. She's ready.
And even if she isn't, Chelsea Lawson will act as though she is (bright lights and marquees, baby).
She rehearses this scene in her mind, and learns this script forwards and backwards so many times. It's a different setting in her head, and different circumstances but yeah, everything's the same.
Here's the thing: Chelsea's not acting. Not even a little bit.
Somewhere in an alternate universe where Chelsea is keeping her child, she names him Jared Lawson Abbott and well, Billy and Victoria will have to deal.
But they already call him John, after Billy's dad in this universe and Chelsea's the one doing the dealing, here.
He's not my kid, anymore, Chelsea tells herself, like a mantra to stay sane. He'll have the best life.
So, Chelsea literally gives her baby to Victoria, makes sure he's settled in there. Victoria rocks and soothes him while Billy silently thanks Chelsea – she doesn't want that. She doesn't want thanks. She doesn't deserve that. The business between her and the Abbotts is done. The baby is settled and nestled in their arms and out of her stomach.
She wants them to swear that they will love him, always, no matter what.
"Promise you'll always love him, no matter what," Chelsea instructs, and lightly sniffles.
"You have our word," Victoria promises, sincerely.
Good. Chelsea knows Victoria won't lie to her. She's a bad liar, anyway.
Here's what Chelsea realizes as she lays back in bed alone: Chelsea tries to rip Billy and Victoria's fairytale and happily ever after to pieces, but instead, gives them a better one with a nice, glittering bow on top, while she doesn't know where hers starts and how her story ends – if it even has one at all.
After today, after this month, she's free-floating and free-falling without any safety or metaphorical bungee cords and that's almost a slightly scary thought.
It's worse than the unicycle.
On the sort of Brightside, Adam visits and brings her flowers.
Once upon a time, there's still a girl.
The glass slippers break into shards, the diamond carriage turns out to be one made of cubic zirconia and all that glitters really isn't close to gold.
The pages of this fairytale are torn, burnt and frayed.
The prince is probably in tin foil with his horse nothing but wood and paint, because really, are there such things as fairytales to begin with?
There are no fairytales.
Just reality and a whole bunch of crossroads.
Someday, however, there may be a woman.
(Chelsea Mary Lawson is still, no Cinderella but here's the thing: that may not be so bad.)
A/N: Annnd, 32 pages and 15,000 words later, it is completely and utterly done. If you like Chelsea and got here to this point, congratulations! If you still managed to read it down to this point and you hate the hell out of Chelsea, then you have my respect and kudos. I thank you and appreciate you, regardless of your stance on the character.
I was working on something else until I just decided to take a risk and write about a character I don't always like, but just barely tolerate. Last summer by this time, I was just about finished a Billy&Victoria piece that is actually almost four times the length of this. But this is still long and after promising it for the past six months, I have completely done it. I'm quite proud of myself. I just changed around the dialogue and stuff and we'll say that Chelsea remembers Adam saving her after he gives her the flowers.
It took my whole vacation – I started this in Belgium in early July and right now, as I write this I'm sitting on my mother's bed, resting from a long and arduous flight. My family looked at me like I was crazy while I was hunched over this thing. Oh well. It's August 30. There was little to no internet connection there and that was actually a good thing: it was just me, the silence and my own head as I pounded out this beast. The internet would have been a distraction. I wrote it in one month. That's good time, considering the last thing I wrote even at this length, took me six months. Oh, and I won't be writing as frequently because of school staring back up in about a week, so better I this got out of the way.
I left it open-ended for a sequel. I won't be writing it, though. If you think you want to write something about Chelsea too and use this as a prequel, then you have my permission to do so. If not, then that's cool too. This will be a stand-alone type of thing.
Feedback, as always, is appreciated. I've looked it over with a fine tooth comb three times, but forgive any typos anyway. I'm human. I will edit again when I've gotten settled back home and had my Subway sandwich.
I have a month of shows to catch up on, and then we will discuss.
But you guys are awesome. Thank you.
If you have any questions or just want to say hey, PM me. I miss talking to you, all.