Disclaimer- I still don't own Castle, Andrew Marlowe does, and I don't want him to sue me for playing in his sandbox. The most betaing I do is listening to Apple read my writing aloud while I nurse. I was watching Castle Episode "The Good, the Bad and the Baby" and at the very end, Alexis says to Castle and Beckett, "If you had kids, and I had kids around the same time, they'd grow up together!" And I was thinking in my best Karen Walker voice, "Oh honey. No, honey. Don't have a baby with Pi. Pi's a mooching, immature, irresponsible idiot. Oh honey, no." And of course, being a fanfiction writer, I started to go, "Hmm, what if Pi did get her pregnant? What would happen?" The curse of fanfiction writers everywhere. I also saw a Castle Post Secret on tumblr that said they'd love to see Alexis have baby, and people blew up in protest at that idea.

Sorry to Molly Quinn, if she ever reads this, because I seriously doubt she'd be so stupid to get pregnant by an idiot, and I'm kind of abusing Alexis unnecessarily in this. The first few chapters are kinda emo, but I will let it get better, I promise. This is also my reaction to a lot of people (including the nurses in the delivery wing) who congratulated me when I got pregnant for being married and not being "one of THOSE people." Um, excuse you, do you really realized how harsh and judgmental you're being by say crap like that? So, I hope anybody who reads this enjoys.

Please withhold the abortion lectures, too. I don't feel that it's right, but legal or blackmarket, women who don't have adequate education, reproductive healthcare, and housing are going to get them until we step up as a country and make sure they get those things. It's idiotic to debate these things, it gets us nowhere.


I didn't think much of it when I didn't get my period on the same date.

I usually fluctuated three days, give or take. No reason to stress about it. I waited to get the monthly pre-period cramps, bloating, and backaches, but they didn't come.

This didn't concern me. I knew well enough that my body did what it wanted.

I was a little concerned that I missed my period that month all together. I tried to tell myself that this kind of change was normal. Stress did this to a body, and it was almost finals. I was worried about finals, and I figured that did it to me.

The weekend after finals ended, I took a long nap until Pi got home. Most of my friends were coming home soon, we had a full social calendar planned. We weren't going to get to Ohio to see his family, but my dad had plans for us to come over on Christmas Eve. I had a Christmas tree already set up in our little living room, and it sparkled and glowed, casting shadows on the walls when I turned out the lights. I usally loved the Christmas season.

That night, we went to Tara's mother's apartment for a Hannaukah party. Pi and I sneaked a joint on Tara's bedroom's balcony when things got slow. It helped with my queasy stomach. He went back out to the party and I took a moment to reapply my eye make-up a little bit.

The door to the room opened. "Alexis, are you high?" Tara was standing there in her Hannaukah dress, aghast.

My jaw dropped; I honestly thought we had been discrete about it. "So what if I am? You spent six months completelyt blazed out of your mind junior year when you dating Axl Gortmacher. I didn't judge you for that."

Tara looked hurt for some dumb reason. "Alexis, this isn't like you."

"The pot-smoking? How dare you judge me for that!"

"No, just the way you're acting. You usually have an incredible bullshit meter. You're not calling this guy on his bullshit and he's got a lot of it. And now you're showing off to impress him and everyone else, like you're such a rebel."

I put a few eye drops in, gazing at myself in the mirror. "I thought you'd be happy for me. I was the last one of us to lose it. I didn't know you had to approve of who I was fucking."

"I don't like him."

"He's a really sweet guy," I responded. "You just don't know him. You're not giving him a chance!"

"I know enough to know that I don't like him."

"Why?"

She shrugged. "Let's start with the way he acts around you. He's not attentive to your needs at all. He treats you like one of the guys. And rumor has it, you just brought him home to live with you and your dad without even asking him if it was okay. That's what's bothering me about him."

"My dad didn't mind."

"He just mooched until you told him what to do. He's no ambition, he not pursuing you, Alexis. He's treating you the way one of my exes used to treat his guy friends. Trust me, I think your dad did mind."

It irritated me. For the first time, I wanted to slap Tara in the face, and she was always one of my sweetest friends. She wasn't, now. "You don't know what my father and I talked about. What he said."

"My mom used to tell me how much she wished I had a relationship with my father like you have with yours. You used to date men that respected you, not men that used you."

"Maybe I'm the one using Pi," I muttered, so stoned I hardly realized I had said it aloud until the words escaped my lips.

She crossed her arms, a look of disgust on her face. "Call me when you start respecting yourself again." She walked out of the room.

Pi and I didn't stay much longer at the party.

The pot I was smoking helped with the low-level of nausea I felt sick with. I wasn't throwing up just yet, but strongly-scented cheeses made me sick to smell, so did things with a lot of spices. I only threw up once a day or so, this day it was right after making a lunch of Ramen noodles and broccoli. "Hey, babe, you feelin' alright?" Pi asked, watching me throw up in our tiny bathroom with stained porcelain fixtures.

I shook my head and splashed some water on my face, only to feel my stomach heave again. I puked up some more Ramen.

"Ramen noodles are so bad for you," he said, lighting a joint. I sometimes got the feeling he was a fruitarian for the novelty of being able to say it.

"I know," I muttered. "But we're broke. We put off Christmas until next month, just so we can pay the rent."

My stomach was completely sour, now, and he was smoking a joint, as if to mock my illness. He held it out to me to see if I'd take it. "We'll make it work."

My only way of making this work was to dip into my personal savings account or eat ketchup and mustard until my next paycheck. The idea of either did not sound appealing for me at the moment. We smoked two blunts before bed that night. I didn't want to think about how all my friends had thoughts that echoed Tara's on Pi. He was becoming someone I wanted to be with.


On Christmas Day, I was relieved to get to Dad's place, just for the free food. The moment I walked in, I felt sick, though. None of it seemed appealing to me, except the crackers. I nibbled on those to calm my stomach.

Dad attempted to make small talk with Pi. It was incredibly awkward, seeing as Dad never liked him. I didn't understand why; he was so sweet and charming and friendly. At least Dad was making the effort, unlike my Marlowe Prep friends.

"Sorry we didn't bring anything, Mr. C," he said, loading up an appetizer plate with brie and crackers. "We're kind of on a tight budget."

"I understand," Dad said, although I could see it pained him to be nice. I had lectured him about how he treated Pi, and now, I could see that he was trying to live up to treating him with respect.

"This is really good," Pi said. "Thanks for having us over."

"Anytime. It's just good to see my little girl again."

"Dad," I protested. "I'm not a little girl anymore."

"I know, I know. I can't help myself. I'll always see you like… Pi, let me show you some embarrassing pictures of Alexis as a baby!"

I groaned in frustration.

"I'd love to see it," Pi said, grinning, getting up, taking his plate with him. "Babe, I bet They're funny!"

Jim Beckett arrived and we got into a conversation about law school. I was considering it, but he tried to talk me out of it. "That will be your whole life. Women who get into law have regrets later about not having time for their kids."

"And the men don't?"

"Why do you think lawyers get divorced more often than not?"

"Good point."

"Don't you want to start a family one day, Alexis?"

I shrugged.

"Just keep it in mind," he said.

Luckily, my stomach settled by the time dinner happened, mostly because Pi and I lit up in my old bedroom upstairs while everyone else was drinking wine and eating cheese and crackers. I was able to eat, and boy was I hungry. Grams made sure I had two plastic grocery sacks full of leftovers after dinner. "I know how things get when you're living paycheck to paycheck in college," she said, kissing me on the cheek. "I packed a few extra avocados and pomegranates for Pi, sweetheart."

"I love you Grams, thank you."

"Oh, Martha, you beat me to it!" Detective Beckett said, walking into the kitchen to see me laden down with grocery sacks.

"I had a great time," I said. "Thank you so much for having us over, Detective Beckett."

"Of course," Detective Beckett said. "You know, you can call me Kate if you want. Your father and I are getting married… eventually." She rolled her eyes.

"I think that's a marvelous idea, Katherine," Grams said. "We're a family. Isn't this exciting to see how big our family's going to get?"

I nodded. "That's really sweet of you, D- Kate. I will."

She hugged me, albiet awkwardly. I didn't think she was going to be any different than Gina was. I had told myself not to get too attached to Gina when I was a kid. I knew better. I sincerely did not trust my father to be with one woman for the rest of his life.

Mr. Beckett gave us a ride to the subway stop so we didn't freeze on the way home.

"Grams gave us this for you," I said, getting out the pomegranate.

"Aww, sweet!" Pi cried, taking the pomegranate from me. "What else?"

"Um…" I searched the plastic bag. "Oh, there's some leftover roast. And a tin of rolls and some of the green bean casserole."

"Oh," he muttered, sounding disappointed.

"Well, there's like five apples, three oranges, and a whole bag full of grapes in the other sack."

"Don't mix your apples and oranges, babe!" He laughed at his own joke.

"You're hilarious."


On December 30th, my period still didn't show up. For the first time, I became really, really worried. I turned to the side in the bathroom mirror to see if I looked any different. I could see it; I was pregnant. I was sure of it. I had alienated all my best friends to be Pi's girlfriend, I had no one to talk to or get advice from. My pride was too wounded to apologize to them just yet. I was beginning to admit to myself that I had acted like an ass. I could have used their support right now, but I had devoted myself to Pi, like an idiot.

I ran down to the Duane Ready to buy a pregnancy test. I was shaking when I got home and took it. Those were the longest two minutes of my life so far. I was never a religious person, nor had my parents ever raised me in a religion, but suddenly, I became very devout.

"God, please, please, please don't let me be pregnant!" I whispered, kneeling down. "I don't know how I'm going to have a baby, I'm not even done with my sophomore year. No, please let this be a false positive!"

Maybe it was a false positive. Maybe it was something I ate. I got on my laptop and searched what could cause a false positive. Excessive amounts of protein. No, no, I was living on Ramen. Cancer? Oh God, no, I'll take a pregnancy over cancer anyday. The waterline? Sometimes, the waterline from urine made it look like a false positive. No, this was a lot stronger than a waterline. Defective test? Yes. Yes, maybe that was the case. I ran back down to the Duane Ready and when I got back, Pi was already there, smoking another joint.

"Hey, babe," he greeted me.

"Not now, Pi," I replied, going to the bathroom. I peed on the stick. Set the timer on my phone. And I waited in agony.

If I really am pregnant, I'll get an abortion, I thought. No one has to know. I can't screw up my college career with a pregnancy. I've worked too damn hard to have a baby now.

My phone's alarm went off and I grabbed the test off the counter before silencing it.

Positive.

No. This couldn't happen. I'd get this taken care of, and it wouldn't happen. I'd get through college, get my law degree, and go on to find a husband and make a family of my own. No, no, no. Pi and I were not ready to start a family now. Pi was one of the least responsible people I had ever dated, although I was making some progress with changing him. Did Pi even have to know?

I went back into the living room and sat down beside Pi.

"Hey," he said, handing me the joint. I took a deep drag off it. "You look stressed."

"I kind of am," I admitted. I took another drag and the colors got brighter. I felt myself relax. "Okay. Better." I handed him the joint back and picked up my laptop to settle back into my lap.

I couldn't let him see what I was going to research, so I got up from the couch and went back to the bedroom to do the search.

Abortion Clinics New York, NY

The Google bar spun, and a host of links came up. I clicked on the top one, thankful that New York was such a liberal state. The clinics were close for the New Year, so I had to wait until the 4th to go in. I looked up other methods of causing your pregnancy to abort itself and drinking a lot of orange juice was rumored to do the trick. I went to the grocery store in hopes it would.


I got my 1st appointment at the student clinic for January 4th. I had to see the doctor and get them to pronounce that I was pregnant before I could get referred back to Planned Parenthood. I realized what a bind I was in; I had no money (except for the emergency credit card Dad let me have and the savings account I never touched, lest he see it), and I wasn't sure how I'd hide this abortion from my father. I had been so good about not using my emergency credit card that any charge to it would raise suspicion. I had already used it enough to buy the pregnancy tests and orange juice, which had not worked. Why hadn't I used the card once-in-a-while? I berated myself for not thinking ahead. I had managed to get my birth control under insurance, and yes, I had been on birth control, why was I pregnant? It was supposed to keep you from getting pregnant, wasn't it? How could this have failed? I was furious and out of sorts and scared and angry and terrified and light headed all at once. This can't be…

When I was called in, I sat on the table, nervously swinging my feet on the edge. It felt like torture, the waiting for the knock on the door. The nurse came in to get my vitals.

"What's going on that you needed to come in today?" she asked.

"I think I'm pregnant."

She nodded.

"I can't be pregnant!" I blurted out. "I'm only a sophomore in college, I'm too young to have a baby, and we're living paycheck-to-paycheck, we don't have any room-"

"Oh, honey," she interrupted, stroking my back. I realized the hysterical tears I had held back for so long had finally found their way to my eyes. She handed me the box of tissues. "It's going to be just fine. Do you know how many girls from Columbia come in here every year that are pregnant?"

"Not many?" I asked, assuming there had been a few.

"A lot more than you think. Don't panic, don't stress. We'll get you taken care of. You're in the right place, okay?"

I nodded.

"Alexis?" the doctor asked, poking her head. "Hi. I'm Dr. Westmoreland. How are you today?"

I took a deep breath and tried to unwring my hands from the fists they were clenched in.

"I think you can tell," the nurse said quietly. "Alexis thinks she might be pregnant."

I nodded, dabbing at my eyes. Dr. Westmoreland took a gentle stance. "Let me assure you that you're not the first girl to come into our clinic pregnant," she said, squeezing my shoulder. "Let's get a pregnancy test and make sure of it before we lose our heads, alright?"

"I have to have an abortion," I said. "There is no way I'm having a baby and embarrassing everyone close to me. I was always the responsible one and…" I choked on a sob.

"Every girl who's ever come in here pregnant was always responsible and smart and bright. These thing happen. The only 100% effective birth control is abstinence," Dr. Westmoreland said. "And it's completely unrealistic to try to make everyone abstinent, isn't it?"

I nodded.

"Do you know who the father is?"

"Yes. I'm living with him right now. But I don't want him to know."

"I don't think you'll be able to hide an abortion from him," the nurse said. "It takes a few days to heal and the pain… it's there. It's not a painless procedure. Now how many sexual partners have you had, sweetie?"

I couldn't take these women calling me 'sweetie' and 'honey.' It seemed a little patronizing right now. "I was so careful," I said. "I really was. Only one."

"What age did you start being sexually active?"

"Nineteen," I said. "Just last summer."

"We'll do an STD test, just for safety's sake. You never know what can cause a false positive on a pregnancy test."

I felt my stomach lurch again, I pressed the tissue to my lips.

"Do you need to throw up?" the nurse asked.

I nodded. "Yes."


That afternoon, the call came back. Yes, I was indeed pregnant- seven weeks to be exact. I had to chose within the next five weeks to get a first trimester abortion, a second trimester abortion was much, much more difficult to obtain and most of the time, it was required a medical problem with the baby. It felt so shaky, and scared and embarrassed. So many emotions flooded me, I didn't know what to do. They told me I couldn't hide an abortion from Pi, so I might as well tell him.

He came home from work that evening, and I was sitting on the couch, smoking our last joint. I was blitzed out of my mind at this point.

"I'm pregnant," I greeted him.

"Excuse me?" he asked, bewildered. I held up the two pregnancy tests in a plastic zip-lock baggie from work. He stared, horrified.

"Well?" he finally said. "What are you going to do?"

I shrugged. "I'm getting an abortion."

"Obviously," he indicated the joint.

"Obviously," I agreed. "Look, Pi. I need your help. The abortion will cost money. And I don't want to make my dad suspicious, so I can't use his emergency credit card."

He took off his gloves and hat, then his scarf, and then his coat. "I'll see what I can string together."

"I'm not ready to be a mother," I said. "I really am not. I can't have a baby right now, and I need you to support my choice. This is not going to be easy. I hate this baby already, I don't want it. It's going to ruin my education and I just can't have it right now. I just can't."

"I know you can't," he agreed, sitting down next to me. "Come on, pass." I handed him the stub a joint left.

"My father cannot find out about this. Not when he's planning a wedding. He and Kate are talking about having a baby, and right now is not the time for me to be having a child…" Pi didn't say anything. "I'd absolutely ruin their wedding if I was pregnant."

He just sat there, exhaling from it. "Well?"

"I can't have a child, either," he admitted. "I never planned on one."

"Me neither."

"Good, so we're in agreement, then. No baby."


My call from the abortion clinic came the next day. "We're actually filled up until the first week of February."

"What?" I asked, shocked. "I'm already seven weeks!"

"Ma'am, I'm sorry, we're just booked up. You can try the clinic on Long Island. Here, let me give you the number."

Long Island? How was I going to get there? We'd borrow a car if we had to. I started to run through my list of people I knew with a car who'd let me borrow it without a lot of questions. I had gotten my license, but I wasn't insured and I didn't drive very well, either. When I called the clinic, I made an appointment for the end of January, but they wanted me to get some pre-natal care, first.

"Hi, Alexis," Pi said without his usual lightheartedness as he walked in the door.

"Hi," I said. "I got an appointment for the abortion on 30th of January. The ones here in Manhattan were all booked up."

He raised his eyebrows a little. "I… um…"

"I think we can borrow a car. Did you get the money?"

"Oh no, I… Um…"

He didn't have the money. I shivered. "Well, we've got a month to come up with it. How can we do it?"

"We can cut down on the amount of weed we smoke," he offered. "Um…" I wasn't sure what else was a luxury we could cut back on. "You know, I could deal a little. Nobody really cares about pot dealing on college campuses."

We were going to start dealing drugs to afford our abortion? How sad. We were just like all the things I hated; people who did drugs and were having an abortion because they were irresponsible about birth control. No, I was not irresponsible with my birth control, it just failed.

"I'll do my best to come up with the money," he said, sitting down beside me, squeezing my shoulder. "Don't worry."

I nodded, miserably, and I felt the weight of our decision crashing down on my shoulders. I was one of those people, the people I thought were so irresponsible and stupid and squandering their lives. I had always told myself I wasn't one of them because I worked hard, got good grades, had goals, and was achieving them as an independent woman. But here I was, conspiring with my boyfriend on how I'd come up with the money to pay for an abortion, and the only real option was dealing.

"We can ask your father for help," Pi offerred in a soothing voice.

"No!" I cried. I was 100% certain Dad would not react well if I told him what was going on. He'd yell at me, which he had only done twice in my life, and tell me how stupid I was, and how disappointed I made him. The idea of someone finding out how stupid I actually was, how hard I had to work to appear this smart, it made me dizzy to even think about. I wasn't actually that smart; I worked so hard to be this perfect, but I wasn't perfect enough. I was still working on it. I had never wanted to let Dad down. Of all the people in the world, even if I made decisions that he didn't like, he had never lost respect for me. I didn't want to disappoint Mom, either, and I felt like I hadn't so far. She'd be so embarrassed if I had worked this hard and screwed up like this. She'd stop loving me. Dad would resent me for embarrassing him like this. I had always been the world's most perfect kid. And I was just gaining his adult appreciation as a young woman who was handling herself and her life without less and less of his money. I was so proud of that, but babies cost money- money I did not have. "No, we're not going to ask my dad for help!"

"He's got all the money in the world!" Pi argued.

"I can't have him knowing I had an abortion!" I cried, tears coming to my eyes. Pi didn't move. "Or that I was pregnant! Ever! He tried to talk me out of moving in with you, all I'm going to hear is, 'I told you so' if I tell him I'm pregnant! I can't screw up like this! I have to have an abortion. Now! Before I really start to show and before it's too late! I can't let everyone down!"

"Fine," Pi snapped, stubbing out the joint in the ashtray as I wiped my eyes. "I'm going out. I'll see you later."


I tried to avoid our apartment the next few weeks and avoid the abortion websites, which was hard when I was doing my research on it. I started classes and pretended nothing was wrong. I was not pregnant. I did not have a little lima bean inside me, like what I saw on the ultrasound, and it was not person. No way. I had terribly vivid dreams of walking into my room in Dad's apartment to see a crib, but when I looked in, there was a small, bloody pulp in there, and I started screaming it was so disgusting. I woke up in a cold sweat each time I had that dream and I couldn't get back to sleep until I smoked some weed. Every time I caught myself thinking of the baby as a person, I had to correct myself. It was only a lump of cells, and an abortion would be the same thing as exfoliating my skin. Just cells... right?

When my birthday came up, Dad kept on emailing and calling me to go out to dinner to celebrate with him and Grams, and he insisted on bringing Kate along. I still had bouts of morning sickness, rich-smelling foods made me ill, I could only imagine how sick I'd get at a restaurant.

Alexis,

I really want to take you and Pi out for dinner for your birthday. Kate and I want to do this. We've gotten you presents, and we can't wait to give them to you. Please answer my calls, I really want to take you out to dinner because I haven't seen you since Christmas and you're making me worry I did something wrong. Did I? I swear I didn't mean to do anything this time. I hate feeling like you're avoiding us. Kate really wants to see you, too, so does Grams. Can you please call me?

Love,

Dad

I was so scared that Dad knew something. I was afraid that if I saw him, he'd guess. I didn't want him to know how badly I had screwed up. That thought terrified me. I slammed my laptop shut immediately.

I worked at the bistro in the University Center, making coffee, which actually worked out well, since the smell of coffee didn't make me sick. My apron still fit just fine, and I consoled myself that I wouldn't have to worry about this for in few days- this little lima bean shaped parasite would be gone soon enough and I'd be back to normal. I requested the time off from work, explaining I'd be out of town for a few days, and I arranged my assignments with my professors.

The money for the abortion was kept in a jar over the radiator in our apartment. I had started saving my tip money in that jar, along with whatever Pi saved for it, too. We counted it every night.

My birthday didn't feel that exciting this year. I was so stressed out, I didn't want to celebrate it. After a long day at work, came home and climbed the steps to my apartment, feeling queasy, and opened the door.

Dad was sitting on our futon with Pi.

"Dad!" I shouted, surprised.

"Hi, Alexis," he said, standing up. "Pi and I were just talking about your birthday and how I've been emailing and calling, and you haven't responded."

"Hey, babe," Pi said, jovially. I could tell he was a little stoned this early in the evening. "I didn't know your dad wanted to take us out to dinner on your birthday. Why didn't you tell me?"

"I uh… I um…" I'm pregnant. "I've been really busy. I'm sorry, Dad, I wasn't expecting my first few days back this semester to be so insane, I kept on meaning to get back to you."

Dad could tell when I lied. I knew he knew something was up.

"Why don't we take them up on it?" Pi asked. "I'm starving!"

"Uh..."

"Come on, when was the last time we went to a restaurant?"

"I'd love to take you out, honey. It's your birthday," Dad said.

"It's not a big birthday," I admitted. "Next year, though! We'll have a big party, I can legally drink, and you and Kate will be married and…"

"Every birthday's a big birthday. Come on, don't you remember that Barney birthday party we had when you were four? You had a blast," Dad started. I hated it when he reminisced my childhood.

"Dad, I'm not into Barney any more," I said quietly.

"I would love to go," Pi said. "Can you give us like a half hour to get ready?"

I shot Pi a look to stop, but he completely missed it.

"Actually, can we make it at eight or so? I need to get home and change," Dad said, standing. He came up to me and kissed me on the cheek, giving me a card with my name written on it. "Happy birthday, honey."


"I hate lying to my dad," I said, straightening my hair out with my flat iron in the mirror in the bedroom. I glanced down at the card Dad had gotten me; it was cutesy and funny and sweet, about how I was the best daughter ever, and I felt so guilty for lying to him. If I could just get that abortion, the lie would be over and Dad would be none the wiser. "I really do. I can't believe you just told him we'd go."

"Relax, babe," Pi said. "Free food, right?"

"You're a fruitarian!" I snapped. "What the hell are you going to eat at a restaurant?"

"I don't know, I'll find something. Don't worry."

"Don't worry?" I repeated, shaking. I dropped the flat iron and it bounced on the floor. "Don't worry? I'm trying to hide that I'm pregnant here and you want to mooch off my dad because it's my birthday!"

"Alexis!" he cried, surprised, wiping his neck off from the shaving foam.

"What? There are bigger things in life than getting treated by someone with money!"

"You really think I'm a mooch?"

"We have no money for an abortion, but we've got plenty of money for you smoke weed."

"Hey, you smoke, too!" At that moment my phone rang. It was Grams.

"It's Grams, shh!" I hissed. I hit the answer button. "Hello?"

"Hi, darling!" she sang. "We're downstairs, are you ready, yet?"

"Almost," I said. "Pi's still getting dressed and I'm almost done with my hair."

"Good, we've got a reservation for eight-thirty at Peacefood Cafe," Grams said. "It's raw vegan food, there will be something for Pi."

"We'll be down in a moment," I said, picking up my flat iron again. "We'll hurry. Bye." I hung up the phone. "Shit." I whispered.

"It's not that hard to hide a pregnancy when you're less that three months. I knew a girl back in Copenhagen that hid her pregnancy until she was six months along. And what about that show I Didn't know I was Pregnant?"

"I almost blurted it out in front of my dad tonight!" I cried. "I can't believe you let him in!"

"Just lie, Alexis. It's okay to lie to protect somebody."

His words hurt me. No matter what I told myself, it still hurt to keep the truth my Dad and Grams. "He knows. I know he knows somehow, he's going to try to get it out of me."

"Just finish your hair," he said, pulling a polo on over his head. "He doesn't know a thing."

Downstairs, Grams was standing by the backseat of the car, and Dad was illegally parked with the engine running. "Hello, sweetheart!" Grams cried, opening her arms to hug me.

"Hi, Grams," I said.

"Happy birthday! We are so excited to get to take you both out! Hello, Pi! So good to see you!"

"Hi, Mrs. R, it's good to see you too," Pi said, his spark back. He hugged her. Kate was sitting in the passenger seat, and rolled her window down.

"Hi!" she said, waving at me. "Happy Birthday! I'd get out, but it's freezing!"

"Hi, Kate."

Grams let me into the car and I slid over to the far end of the backseat. "Hi, Dad."

"Hi, Alexis! Happy Birthday!"

"Thanks. Thank you so much for taking Pi and me out."

"Of course. You're still my baby."

"She's a grown up," Pi added. I saw Dad's head whip around to throw him a glare. I didn't feel like correcting Dad. Pi kind of deserved it.

Kate was telling us about the new standards at the police station and how it was so confusing and irritating, and Captain Gates was trying to put her foot down on it. I felt a little bored by the story, in general, but I kept on asking her questions. We arrived at Peacefood Cafe, where Dad dropped us off and we went in to claim our reservations while he parked. They had us at a really nice table in the back corner for privacy, which was really kind of my father to reserve. He arrived and sat down with us.

"So, the big news is that we reserved a venue for the wedding," Kate said, glowing.

"Oh, Katherine!" Grams cried. "Where is it?"

"My house," Dad said, sitting down beside her. "We're going to have the wedding and reception in the Hamptons in late August. It'll be great; we'll just have to get a permit, but it should be fine!"

"That perfect" I added, feeling a little robotic.

"And… we've decided we're going to try to have kids," Kate added. She was practically lighting up the room with her joy. "Right after the wedding!"

I felt my stomach lurch.

"Excuse me," I said, getting up.

"I'll order for ya, babe!" Pi called after me as I raced to the bathroom to puke.

I mostly vomited bile. Just the idea of having a child, and having it be such a joyful event was so foreign to me at the moment. And why did she have to share something so private and personal, that might not work out, in front of all of us? I had heard horror stories about women who invested thousands on in vitro fertilization and other fertility treatments for various reasons when they couldn't conceive. What if Kate couldn't conceive, yet she was telling everyone she was going to have a baby, but she wasn't pregnant, yet?

After vomiting and waiting on my stomach to calm down, I flushed the toilet. I was made up, so I didn't want to wash my face, but I wet down a paper towel with cold water at the tap and squeezed it before pressing it to my forehead. The door to the bathroom suddenly swung open, and Kate was standing there.

"Hi," she said, walking in. "Are you feeling alright?"

I shook my head. "I'm a little sick. Flu going around Columbia."

"Yeah, Pi said you haven't been feeling very good lately. Have you had your flu shot?"

I shook my head, and forced a smile. "No. Big mistake, right?"

"Yeah, I guess so." She went to the toilet stall and shut it, but she didn't stop talking. "I'm so, so excited about the wedding. We're planning our honeymoon for Italy, and we're going to take a few stops up to Switzerland and Germany. I've never been to Switzerland, think I can stash some money there?"

"Oh sure, yeah," I said. "IRS will never catch on."

The toilet flushed and she came back out. "I just want to let you know, I'm so excited about being your stepmother. Maybe we can have a girl's weekend or something at my Dad's cabin in Vermont, just you and me, before the wedding. I'd really like to get to know you better."

"Wouldn't an afternoon of manis and pedis with Soy Lattes be more time-effective?" I asked as she washed her hands.

"I guess so," she said. "I'm sorry, I know you've got a lot of school work this semester. It gets worse your junior and senior year."

I nodded. "It probably will."

"Are you sure about declaring yourself as pre-law?" she asked, drying her hands on the papertowels.

I nodded. "Yes. One-hundred per cent. Nothing's going to get in my way."

"You know, my dad would probably still love to talk you out of that if he hasn't tried already," she said, smoothing her knee-length cocktail dress with her hands in the mirror and turning to the side. She seemed kind of fidgety and nervous suddenly. I felt her stalling. "Alexis," she said, turning to me. She twisted her hands a little bit. "Would you like to be one of my bridal attendants?"

"Like- your-"

"One of my bridesmaids, yes."

I opened my mouth, but stuttering out. "I- I would- I'd love to," I finally spat out. I had looked up to Kate as a career woman, and now all that was changing. She wanted to be a bride and start a family now. Sometimes, she was the funnest person in the world to be around, I loved it sometimes when she paid attention to me. It was like the sun was shining on me when it was just us and she was giving me advice in a time of need. But when she started intruding on the events that had always been father/daughter with me and Dad and ruining them, just her presence was annoying as hell. I felt sick that all that was in jeopardy at this moment and I should have said no. If she and Dad ever found out I was pregnant... It would be very, very bad. I had to be as compliant as possible.

"Oh good," she said, looking relieved. She hugged me, and I went along with it, although I didn't want it. "I'm going to be a part of your family, and your father's going to be so happy to hear this." She took my hand and lead me out of the bathroom to the table.

"I thought you had fallen in or something," Dad joked when we got back to the table.

"I went ahead and ordered for you," Pi said. "A raw curry carrot salad and the turfukey and parsley cakes."

"Sounds good," I lied.

"The good news is," Kate started. "Alexis agreed to be one of my bridesmaids!"

"I'm so happy you said yes," Dad said, grinning. "I think this is going to be a beautiful friendship between you two?"

I nodded, a small, soundless burp bringing up the bile taste again, which tasted like sour vomit in my mouth. "Yeah," I agreed.


I don't know how I did it, but I managed to get through the entire dinner without direct conversation about me. I kept on bringing it back to Dad and Kate's wedding plans, and pretending to be excited about it. She wanted to talk about centerpieces, bridesmaid dress colors, the flowers that would be in her wedding. I kept on asking questions about them. All the while, the abortion I was planning on kept on intruding into my thoughts; it was coming up so fast. Most of my meal I couldn't stomach; I took it home for Pi. I was planning on settling my stomach with saltines tonight.

Once we arrived home, I stuck the take-home container in the fridge and kicked off my heels before going to the radiator and got the abortion jar. I took off the lid and dumped the money out, counting it. Dad gave me some cash so I could get a pair of flats that didn't have holes in the soles for my birthday present that I could work in, and I added that money in, too.

I counted it. Four-hundred-and-two dollars and eighty-six cents.

An abortion for my birthday. What a present.

"Did you request off for my appointment?" I asked Pi.

"Oh," he said, surprised. "You want me to go with you?"

He didn't think that I wanted him there with me during something so terrible and so painful? "I can't drive myself home, Pi!" I cried in shock. "They're going to be forcing my cervix open and sucking out the fetus!"

"It's only a few cells, how bad can it be?"

I felt a bit insulted. "Pi, are you just trying to upset me?" I asked.

"That's how you talk about it!" Pi shouted. "Just a couple of cells, that's all it is! It's not a person!"

"This procedure is a big deal! I'll need a ride home! I can't get home from Long Island on my own after this! It's an incredibly painful experience, I'm going to be incapacitated for a few days!"

"I'm so glad you're doing this, Alexis," he muttered. "I'm so not ready to be a dad."

"How do you think I feel?" I asked.

"It's all about you, isn't it?"

My jaw dropped. "What the fuck is that supposed to mean?" I blurted out, every sense of ladylike composure evaporating quickly.

"Ever since you found out you were pregnant, all you ever worry about is yourself and this abortion! I feel like you've forgotten about me! When was the last time we had sex? You don't even care about that anymore!"

"This is some serious shit I'm getting!" All my lady-like composure was gone, officially. "This could sterilize me if it goes wrong, damnit! I could end up in the hospital if this doctor isn't any good and botches this! This is like major surgery! It's a huge deal!"

Pi looked at me, his jaw trembling. He looked like he was about to cry, but he grabbed his coat. "I'm going out."