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[personal profile] windsnocturne
Title: Growing Pains
Fandom: 7th Heaven
Characters/Pairings: Lucy Kinkirk, original character
Rating: PG
Prompt: Drama
Warning: Discussions of teen sex, pregnancy, etc.

Summary: She knew what she was getting into, but that doesn't make it any easier.

She'd known exactly what she was in for when she decided to counsel teenagers, especially pregnant teenage girls. Or teenage girls in danger of getting pregnant because they were having sex. Or wanted to have sex.

She'd helped plenty of girls with less-than-stellar lives in the past, even when she was just a kid herself. Suzanne, Ashley, Shelby, Lisa, Sandy, the list was longer than her list of ex-boyfriends. She was pretty much conditioned to crying and anguish and pain, even the girls who reminded her of herself as a melodramatic teenager didn't so much as get an eyebrow raise.

But just the same, it was hard sometimes. Not listening to these girls' problems, but just knowing how bad they could have it at such a young age. Being used to knowing about it didn't make her feel any less awful to hear such stories.

"So just when I think everything's perfect, I find out he's only staying with me because his mother made him," the girl sitting across from her said tearfully, rubbing her eyes. She was barely three months along and every day she changed her mind about what she wanted to do with the baby. Yesterday she'd begged Lucy to help her find a good home for them, but today she wanted to keep them. "I-if he doesn't really want to be with me, I should just let him go, right? Let him find someone better, someone prettier who's not about to get fat as a cow!"

Jessie Marshall, her latest case. Pregnant by her boyfriend at seventeen, her father dead for the past six years and her mother too frail and sick to take care of herself and Jessie, much less a new baby.

And she still cries about her boyfriend. Typical teenager, or the icing on a badly burned cake? It had to be the latter. Sometimes it took something very minor to cause a meltdown.

"Okay, Jess, first of all? Pregnant women aren't fat." Lucy glanced down at her own growing belly, a little bigger than when she'd been carrying Savannah, then looked back up with a smile. "You are a pretty girl, even if..."

"Even if I'm going to turn into a pumpkin?" Jessie mumbled, unable to hide a tiny smile. "I just wish Zach thought so...he hasn't said anything, and he isn't checking out other girls, but..."

"Well, that means he doesn't care how you look," Lucy said. "That's good, right?"

"But he still doesn't want a baby!" Jessie wailed. "When I told him, he looked like he was about to puke, and lately he's acting like his life's over! H-he said he had to skip out on gaming night cause he had to study parenting books, a-and once the baby's here, if we keep them..." She sniffled. "His mother's making him do all this, I just know it..."

"How do you get along with her?" Lucy asked.

"She...likes me, actually. A lot. She treats me like I'm part of the family, sometimes I think she likes me better than she likes her own kids." Lucy tried not to giggle, that was essentially how Ruthie felt about T-Bone sometimes. It's like he's your son and I'm the girl he's dating! But Ruthie was usually just kidding, and Jessie looked...well, not very appreciative of the fact. For some reason.

"I would imagine that's a good thing," she said slowly. "She wants you to be a part of her family."

"But what if Zach doesn't?!"

"I can see how that might be a problem." And Lucy couldn't even bring herself to ask why, because she'd been seventeen once and her boyfriend's feelings had been more important than anything.

"So what should I do? His mother loves me, but if he doesn't want me in the family they'll all resent me if I stay! A-and I can't go back home, not with my mother so sick..."

Lucy took a sip of her herbal tea, which had finally cooled off, then stood up slowly to get Jessie a cup of water from the cooler. No question could ever make her wonder about her career choice, but right now she was sorely tempted to call Dad begging for his help. What did she say right now? The girl could be worrying about nothing, but she could be right about Zach and she knew if she were in Jessie's shoes, Lucy wouldn't want to hear the awful truth.

Dad would know what to say. But I'm not a rookie anymore...I'm not a little kid. And neither is she.

Lucy handed Jessie the cup, and Jessie drank slowly. Her tears had stopped, but she still looked miserable and far from calm.

"What should I do?" she asked again, and Lucy sighed, sitting down and looking her straight in the eye.

"I don't have the answer for you, Jessie," she said. "All I can suggest is talking to Zach and his family, really talking to them. Don't accuse them of pitying you, but be honest. Just...explain your fears. I can't tell you how they'll react, but honesty and communication are the most important things in any relationship." She smiled a little. "Trust me. It took me well into my adulthood to learn that lesson, so the sooner you get going on that the better."

"Communication..." Jessie nodded. "You're right. Zach and I don't really talk about it much, so...maybe we should. And maybe it'll go well."

"I hope it does." Lucy sipped her tea, knowing her advice could go a number of ways and at least two of them badly. But the outcome doesn't always reflect on the advice, Dad always said. All you can do is guide someone in the right direction and hope for the best.

She'd been a teenager once, a teenager who thought every mishap with a boy was the end of the world and just wanted to live happily ever after. That teenager still lurking somewhere inside her wanted things to go well, wanted to pray that God would cut Jessie a break and let Zach accept everything so they could be happy.

"Thanks, Reverend," Jessie said, putting her empty cup down. "I'll talk to him tonight."

"Good. The sooner the better."

When Zach's mother came to pick Jessie up, Lucy wished the girl luck and watched her leave. Hope for the best, she reminded herself.

Maybe it would be a good idea to schedule a chat with Zach tomorrow. Just in case.
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