Summary: It starts with little thoughts she can't dismiss... Jenny finds an excuse to visit Abby's flat after several months of working together.
Spoilers: Spoilers for all of Season 2
A\N: Betaread by fififolle. Originally started for the ARC 15 minutes challenge but went way over.
It's only when she's on her fourth glass of wine that Jenny realises she won't find any answers tonight. In fact, she's blissfully nearly forgotten what's been troubling her as of late. The girl sitting next to her on the red leather sofa – picked as a rebellion to Mark's indecision - is the main reminder. Such are her associations with Ms. Maitland, Abby, that she can't help but think of the ARC, thoughts spiralling quickly into her disastrous love life and random philosophical musings about existence, like “who am I anyway?” that seemed to be at the heart of her troubles ever since she'd properly met Helen Cutter.
Quite wisely, she poured the rest of the bottle into her companion's glass. Abby raised an eyebrow at the action but didn't refuse the top-up, instead raising up the over-sized item with two hands to take a deep sip.
Jenny quietly studied Abby. They'd been sitting here, making idle chitchat for an hour and all she could think about was the fact that she didn't really know her colleague any better. Why had she asked Abby to come over in the first place if not to bond? Partly it was to vent at someone who understood what was going on in her life, because she'd effectively alienated her own circle of friends lately, but she hadn't had the decency to do that, she'd skirted all the issues that mattered. Resting her chin in her hand, she considered that the small amount of ignorance she could claim was due to intoxication, which wasn't exactly a healthy way to deal with her issues.
“What do you think makes you you?”
The question she'd blurted out surprised herself as much as Abby. It was an awkward minute before the resulting silence was broken.
“I'd say my experiences, except somehow that doesn't seem right, to just sum someone up from random moments that happen. I mean, it's not all about choice, sometimes you simply get thrust into a situation and no matter what you make of it you can't stop it happening; it's like you can't change the big things in life. Not that I believe in destiny or anything, but you're here, part of the ARC and...from what Nick said, the other woman, Claudia, got involved too.”
“But I'm not her,” Jenny snaps back.
“No,” Abby says softly, treading carefully, not at all sure what response that will get her, given Jenny's last reply.
“Yet I don't feel like myself anymore,” Jenny admits freely after a few seconds uncertain pause, “I feel wrong knowing that, that I should have been someone else.”
Of course that's not where the concern ends. Jenny doesn't want to voice the other part of that train of thought – that possibly she didn't exist until a couple of months ago. How sick that makes her feel depends which theory she picks – she's overheard Connor rambling on the matter in the locker room before; pondering if this is another reality entirely, with Nick displaced or if the changes in the past actually changed the the future, the present, and whether they still lived through any of that at all.
“There's no should have been, Jenny. There's only what is.”
Abby means for it to reassure, reaffirm their reality, but it makes her more fearful of the shift in paradigm.
“Or isn't,” Jenny replies curtly.
What she doesn't like to mention is the question that troubles her every night before she goes to sleep - did Jenny Lewis pop into existence the moment Cutter stepped back through the anomaly? If it's true she doesn't trust her “memories,” doesn't trust who she is and maybe that's why she finds herself wondering if she is an impostor, or that maybe it's like amnesia and suddenly she'll revert to that other person, the universe righted. Except, in a way, however right that might be, she'd cease to exist. It's not pleasant to contemplate if you should be dead - no, worse, that you shouldn't have, didn't, exist.
“There's nothing wrong with you being Jenny Lewis,” Abby says softly, placing a hand on Jenny's shoulder, “Nick doesn't mean anything by what he says, he's just upset. The woman he remembers is a different person. Think of her like...your unborn identical twin.”
Jenny laughs a bit too loudly at the idea, before turning subtly away as she proclaims,“I think you've been spending too much time with Connor.”
Abby giggles just a tad and doesn't notice Jenny wiping across her face out of the corner of her eye as she probably would have when completely sober.
“A year ago I might have agreed with that...” Abby admits, slightly guiltily, then biting her lip.
“And now?”asks Jenny, facing the girl once more, no sign of composure lost.
“I don't mind the idea. He's clueless sometimes, lazy as hell, but ...I like having him around. I don't really have anyone else.”
“Family?” Jenny asks casually.
Honestly it's not the answer she expected. Everyone she knows has family, however little. Jenny can't imagine not having anyone to turn to, not being able to ring her mum up for a chat when she's feeling down or go out for a therapeutic session of clay pigeon shooting with her brother.
“I had a sister, technically.” Jenny blurts it out, hoping, she supposes, that Abby will jump to the same comforting conclusion she'd like to think. It seems callous though, such joy at the thought she did have a twin – another baby, that was a girl apparently but had no name that she knows of - that could have been Claudia and simply wasn't, all so she can feel better about being Jenny. “Maybe in the other reality Claudia had an unborn twin like that, that would have been me.”
Abby says nothing to this bombshell, her eyes scan the floor – doing anything but look at her - and Jenny starts to wonder if this conversation has gone too far into a subject that shouldn't be thought upon let alone spoken of. Abby takes an indelicate swig of the wine and Jenny stares remorsefully at her own empty glass, wishing she'd not been so quick to limit her supply, more alcohol is sounding extremely appealing at this stage.
“I always wanted a sister. Maybe I had one before.”
Jenny turns to Abby again, curious where she is going with this.
“But I've never had one as far as I know, and I guess we can't tell now, what used to be, it's as good as might have been. All I know is I used to have a brother, and that's what colours who I am, but that's quite different, you shouldn't really borrow your brother's clothes for one thing.”
“I don't think most girls would want to!”
“No, course not...Anyway, I think maybe that's why I'm not good at making friends with women. I wanted something close, like having a sister but I never knew where to start. I'm fine chatting to blokes, I'm fine being friendly with everyone and I mean, I can still do the girl thing. Except I'm more about lizards and now, strange dimensional doorways and everything that comes with it. One of those is a gigantic secret and the other most people hardly want to hear about.”
“I know what you mean. I didn't like keeping secrets from Mark, let alone all my friends and family. How else can you adequately explain why you're disappearing in the middle of your own engagement party? No wonder it all fell apart.”
“You shouldn't worry, about who you are or who you should be. I might not know you that well but you seem perfectly fine as you are. Breakups not withstanding.”
“You could spend a lifetime wondering what if's and you'd miss what's here today. You have to consider it past, done or gone, not coming back.”
“That's easier said than done, especially when you have a passionate Scotsman insisting things should be different.”
“I know, but you need to try. You'll get over this – Mark, the supposed changes – everything will be good if you give it enough time. And I think we should do this again some time. I reckon it's better than just any therapy, better to have people you know sometimes. Besides I don't think any psychiatrist would quite understand what we're dealing with on a day to day basis.”
Abby cracked a smile and Jenny couldn't help but do the same, a small wry smile forming at the thought of Lester insisting on a project therapist – she was surprised he hadn't yet insisted on it, but the paperwork alone to initiate it would be a hassle, let alone explaining the situation in believable, not going to get you committed, sounding terms. However, the more interesting point was the suggestion of Abby's, if she had meant it seriously and sincerely.
“Do you really want to subject yourself to my philosophical pondering, shooting boasts and potentially girly talk of shoes and whatnot?”
“I think I might manage,” Abby teased, “Can it really be as bad as Connor, or Cutter, giving a mini-lecture on the fascinating topic of therapods? Or Stephen doing his Ray Mears impression for the Nth time? At the very least I could do with a change of topic from time to time.”
“Then it's agreed, next time it gets a bit too much we'll make a date of it.”
Jenny raised her glass, and with a chink Abby's met hers; the empty vessels toasted technically nothing in particular, but very possibly it signaled the start of a long overdue friendship.