Warnings/Spoilers: Angst, Unplanned pregnancy, Talk about abortion, No resolution, Male POV, Did I mention angst?
Disclaimer: This is an original work of fiction. Please do not take, borrow, copy, or otherwise make like it is yours. Thank you.
Prompt: Authorís Choice
Well, this is the last piece I've written for my 10th Writing Anniversary Celebration. It is not at all what I had anticipated writing, but I recently watched the episode of Law & Order that a young Clark Gregg guest-starred on (Life Choice, 1991) and it inspired some thoughts. For the record, Iím pro-choice. It is not my intent to start a debate or a discussion and it is not my intent to offend anyone. The title of this piece says it all. There is no easy answer. Big thanks to Elisabeth for the beta. Any remaining mistakes are on me.
Written: February 13, 2014
Word count: 1,150
He never should have answered the call. So much for the lazy night in they’d had planned. He laughed a little manically. Such an inane thought to be having right now.
Ben Majors hung up the phone very carefully and just stared at it until he heard the shower shut off. He slowly turned and sat down on the couch. Ten minutes later Steph Harper padded barefoot into the living room, dressed in a pair of sweats, and still toweling her hair dry. She gave him a sweet smile that faded when she got a good look at his face.
“Ben? Everything okay?” she asked softly as she shook her hair out of her face.
Ben wouldn’t meet her eyes and said in a hollow voice, “The clinic called to confirm your appointment for tomorrow. I told them I would pass on the message.”
Steph paled and the towel fell from her hands. She took a step back and collapsed into the arm chair behind her. She opened and closed her mouth a few times, but didn’t say anything.
Ben finally looked at her and she flinched from whatever expression was on his face. He couldn’t quite bring himself to care. “Were you going to tell me?” he asked flatly.
Steph swallowed a few times and eventually found her voice. “No.”
Ben’s eyes narrowed. “Why not?”
Steph stuck her chin out stubbornly. “It’s my decision.”
“Bullshit,” he spat out. “Unless you’re carrying the Second Coming of Christ I’m pretty sure it took both of us to make that baby. I sure as hell deserve the right to know about it and be involved in any decision making.”
Tears stung her eyes, but Steph blinked them back. She knew he was right, but she also knew she didn’t want to admit it.
Ben took a deep breath and tried to calm down. Losing his temper wasn’t going to help either of them. “Why an abortion?”
Steph slumped against the back of her chair. “Timing,” she mumbled.
Ben blinked at her. “I beg your pardon?”
Steph bit her lip and looked away, her fingers fidgeting in her lap. She finally said, “People will know, my parents will know, we had sex before we got married. They’ll talk. They’ll be disappointed.”
Ben stared at her, not quite able to believe what he was hearing. It was a pretty bullshit reason for such a life-changing decision as far as he was concerned. He got up to pace, because if he didn’t move he was going to explode. After a few minutes he threw his hands up and turned on her.
So much for not losing his temper, he thought as the words poured forth. “Are you fucking kidding me with this shit? We’re in a committed relationship, Steph. We’re fucking engaged to be married in four months. We’ve talked about starting a family. And now you’re pregnant and what, you want to end our first child’s life before it even starts because of inconvenient timing?! Do you really care that much what other people think?” Ben ran his hands through his hair then dropped his arms to his sides. He looked at her a little helplessly. “What about me, Steph? What about what I think? Does my opinion matter at all?”
“I’m scared, all right!” Steph yelled as she stood up. “It’s all happening too fast and I don’t know if I’m ready for it. Yeah, we’ve talked about starting a family, but I didn’t think that meant right now. We’re young, Ben. There are things we want to do and having a kid right now means we won’t be able to do them. Maybe I’m not ready to share you. Maybe I’m not ready to devote the bulk of my life to someone who can’t take care of themselves.” She wound down and looked at Ben with tears in her eyes. “Mostly, I’m just scared.”
And that made a whole lot more sense than fucking timing.
They looked at each other for a long time, neither willing to make the first move. Ben could see her point, but he couldn’t quite get past the fact that she was going to hide this from him. It was such a childish thing to do. He didn’t know if he was ready to be a dad yet or not either, but the thought didn’t scare him as much as it might have a year ago. Myriad thoughts chased through his mind and he shook his head to try and clear it. This wasn’t going to get hashed out tonight. Their tempers were running too high and they needed time to really sit down and talk things out. If they tried tonight something might be said that couldn’t be taken back and as angry as he was, he didn’t want that to happen.
“Please cancel the appointment,” he said levelly. When she opened her mouth he held up his hand. “We need to talk about this some more, but I can’t do it tonight. We’re both too raw and we need some time. Yes, ultimately this is your decision, but what you decide and how you decide it will affect the rest of our lives, Steph. This isn’t just about you. So I am asking you to please cancel this appointment until we’ve had a chance to work it out.”
Steph looked like she was going to refuse, but then she nodded and reached for the phone. Ben let out a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. As she finished the call, he decided he needed to be elsewhere. He was having a hard time looking at her and he acknowledged that he was still so very angry with her.
“I’m going to stay at my place tonight,” he said as she hung up the phone. The wounded look she gave him almost made him change his mind, but he stood firm. “I really can’t talk about this anymore tonight, so I think it would be best if I left.”
“I understand,” she said in a small voice. Steph looked up at him. “I love you, Ben.”
“I love you, too, Steph,” he said. He kissed her temple then moved towards the door. As he opened it, he looked back at her. “I love you, but I’m not sure I like you much right now. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
It might be a cruel way to leave, but she had hurt him more than he wanted to admit. He had a lot of thinking to do and none of it was going to be pleasant. He wanted to say with certainty that regardless of how this situation played out that they would stay together, but he couldn’t. He really didn’t know what was going to happen now and that scared the hell out of him.
They say ignorance is bliss.
They just might be right.