Monday, May 29, 2000, afternoon

Ivy stirred. She wasn't in her grove. The 'Green' was distant, except for a few potted plants close by. She smelled coffee, heard someone shift and a thought crashed into her. oh. my. god. I have cheated on my husband with my husband's mistress.

Sitting bolt upright she looked around the apartment. "Lord… what… " Her vines drew tighter about her,that was all… bad been all real. Good God… Her mind tumbled over a dozen different scenarios and discarded them just as quickly… you were horny… and as much of a pervert as you accused Jon of being. Kate… her phermonic effect must have… but her effect had been triggered by her. Getting to her feet,she headed for the kitchen… and what my vines had done…

Kate was wearing only a robe, she didn't turn around from buttering some toast," Good morning Jane. How are you feeling? I was going to try some ointment but wasn't sure if it would react with you new physiology, so I decided to wait. I hope you are not too sore."

"Um no… I'm… no I am not fine," she tried to keep her composure.

"Physically… I am… quite resilient… I… I don't really know what to say…" How is she so calm… she just had sex with freak… really good sex. Jane… Ivy sighed,at least for me. "Did you do that to make up for… " She let the word hang. "I never even knew you were bisexual… " I didn't know I was either,she added silently. My husbands mistress… damn… this is like some x rated soap opera.

Kate had stopped what she was doing and listened silently, wrapping her arms around herself. She sighed, and turned around. Leaning back against the counter she gazed at Ivy, looking her over slowly.

"What should I say. Jane. I wasn't giving you a line last night. From the first moment I saw you, bent over the photo coping machine. God you were so beautiful. I was scared. Scared about the depth and suddenness of my feelings. I tried to stay away but I couldn't. Do you have any idea how long I have thought about kissing you?"

"But what if I told you, or did kiss you? What…what if you hated me. Thought I was some kind of pervert. I didn't have that courage. So I became your friend, a good one I thought."

"And then you were dead," she began to shake, her voice dropping to a whisper, " I tried to go back. When I realized you weren't with us, I tried…" she sank to the floor, trembling and rocking, "I tried Jane but they wouldn't let me…oh god I can still hear the alarms, your screams."

"Kate… I never thought… never… knew… " Ivy kneeled and slipped her arms around Kate. "You were… and are my friend… I said it last night and I meant it…you and Jon… I see now… you really tried to come back… you knew what the Symbiote would do… and you tried to come back?" She held Kate close,placing a kiss on her head. "I'm not dead…

Kate sobbed and buried her head in Ivy's shoulder. Big shuddering sobs. Ivy began to worry that she wasn't going to stop but gradually they tapered off, "I'm sorry…so sorry…" she hiccuped.

Ivy held and rocked her back and fourth until her tears ceased. "I know… I know and there is nothing to be sorry about Kate… nothing… " Tucking a fingers under Kate's chin,she looked into her eyes. "Its bizarre… I came her angry… but its just been you… you and my children that can look on this form with out being repulsed… You can never understand what that means to me…the gift you've given me as well as the pleasure." She kissed her again. "You're my friend… perhaps a better one than I will ever realize… "

Kate looked up at her," you're not angry that I … I did that?"

Shaking her head, Ivy said," You didn't take advantage of me… " Surprised the hell out of me… turned me on immensely… but take advantage…no… " I am a grown woman, I make my own decisions… " She sighed. "Nothing happened last night that I didn't want… if anything it was my pheremonic effect that increased your ardor… "

"Phermonic? Ah, the smell, " Fascinating, Kate thought and then smiling shook her head, "it certainly wasn't needed. And you mean that? You wanted me?"

"Yes." It was a confession to herself as much as to Kate. She was as she said,a grown woman. " I did…and I enjoyed it a great deal…and it certainly taught me some of the… capabilities of this form… "

Kate smiled kissed her deeply,"they're all fools. You are the most beautiful and most sexy person I know."

Kate gave her a shy smile,"I was going to go to work but I didn't want to wake you and I didn't want to leave a note. May I ask you something?"

"Of course… "

"Jon never asked you what you wanted, or how did he? I mean you seemed surprised that I asked how fast you wanted it. I noticed that about him, he can be a selfish lover."

Thinking about it a moment she responded,"No… not selfish… shy… he felt embarrassed by it… you have to understand… we were the first lovers either of us had ever known… it was something so new… " Much like last night she added silently.

"What now? How did we want to tell him? And what about the kids, " Kate suddenly stopped, "I am presuming aren't I? I want to be with you Jane. I want to wake up beside you. Love you, make you happy. I don't want to be a novelty. Something you tried once. I want more then friendship."

She was shocked, perhaps not surprised. Kate loved her? Not as a friend but more… how do I feel about her… about Jon. "I think we all have to talk,Kate… you, me… Jon… all of us… this is about all our futures."

Kate sighed, "He's not going to react well. He may get hot over some strange women doing it, but anything in real life, um embarrses? him. And we both know how he feel about how you look. I should get to work."

She kissed Ivy, deeply and her hand darted between Ivy's legs," I'll be back around midnight, we can talk then. It will give you a little time to think."

She then rose gracefully to her feet, letting the robe hang open, and swayed towards the bedroom.

Ivy watched her go… dumbfounded. She brushed her fingers over her lips. "Jesus… " Standing,Ivy walked to the window,letting the sun fall over her body. It flowed through her,awakening areas fallen dormant. IN invigorating her. She stood there,lost in the thought and regrowth until she heard Kate call out a final goodbye from the living room and the door close behind her.She needed to return to the grove…

9 p.m., The Hamilton Home

Andrew lay staring at the ceiling. He was beginning to have doubts about Tuesday night. How would they get to the theater? His dad was out. And what was he supposed to do on this date? He remembered what Carlos's older brother had told them. He could feel panic starting. What was she expecting?

He surged out of bed, grabbed his jacket and headed outside. He need to talk to his mom. As he opened the door, Jon stepped into the hallway.

"Where are you going at this time of night?"

Andrew turned slowly, "I'm going to visit mom. I need to talk to her."

"I am sure I can answer your questions, son. It's late. I'm sure she'll be around tomorrow."

Andrew could feel himself starting to get angry,"Naw. I don't think so. I need woman's view."

"Well, why don't you ask Kate, if its a woman's viewpoint you need…"

"I need mom's viewpoint. Just because you are fucking Her doesn't make Kate my mom!"

Silence fell. Jon jerked, his own anger bubbling to the surface, "Go to your room."

The two stared at each other, both angry, both stubborn. A small voice spoke into the tense silence.

"I want to see moma too."

Jon looked from Andrew to Rebbeca. She stood in the kitchen doorway, looking small and frightened. Her eyes were bright with unshed tears. Jon ground his teeth.

"Fine. Go out to the car."

The two children silently filed out to the car. Andrew bit his lip, knowing that he had gone to far. For months now a silent agreement had gripped the household. Andrew pretended that he didn't know what his father was doing, and Jon pretended that Andrew didn't know. Now… He let loose an explosive breath and glanced down at Rebbeca.

She could be a pain sometimes but she was his little sister and sometimes she got scared. Two years ago she had stopped going into their parents room when she had nightmares, instead she would come into his room and ask him to scare away the monsters. For some reason, that Andrew couldn't figure, Rebbeca had decided that he was a monster slayer.

He sighed and reached to tousle her hair. "Um, 'Becca. What I said, " she probably doesn't know what it ment he thought then remembered that she had been talking to their mom and the video that was in the VCR.

Rebbeca reached over and took his hand, "I have ears too Andy," she whispered.

The car was silent for the drive to Midland park. They walked across the finely manicured lawns and pathways. Andrew stopped and knelt in front of Rebbeca.

"I need to talk to mom alone okay?"

Rebbeca nodded.

Andrew walked slowly along the tree and brush line, every once in a while calling his for his mom in a soft voice. Rebbeca and Jon walked over to a vendor and bought some bread crumbs to feed the seagulls.

Deep in her grove, Ivy thought she heard Andrew's voice. A line from the Simon and Garfunkel song "Mrs. Robinson" floated through her head -"Its a little secret, Just the Robinson's affair, most all you got to hide from the kids."

Smiling a half smile,she stood. Well at least that shouldn't be hard.Following the sound of his voice,she slipped up behind him and put her hands over his eyes,"Guess who?"

Andrew jumped, "ah. Swamp thing? Jolly green Giant?"

Laughing Ivy turned him to face,kneeling down to be at eye level. "If you weren't to old to spank." She hugged him tightly,kissing his cheek. "Its so good to see you… where's Rebecca and your father?"

Andrew looked at her in surprise, "um. Over there. I had to talk to you," man she looks… well, happy, in a real good mood. More like mom before.

Sensing her son's rather serious mood,Ivy stood,"yes… of course… come with me… " She started off, but paused looking back at him. "I'm sorry… would you like me to put something on… I was just enjoying the sun." She grinned,"Its pretty mandatory for me now."

"Um. No that's okay, " he answered with a distracted air.

Ivy lead him deeper into the grove,her other home. She felt pride in it. Using her talents and new body she had sculpted some of the plant life into useful and decorative forms. It was clean and well lit,the scent of wildflowers hanging in the air. "Please please… sit." Ivy looked him over, trying to gauge his mood, what he was thinking. Odds are good its about his new friend. Ironic. "Would you like something ro eat?"

"Yes please, I am starving."

She offered him some fruits,some recognizable others less so. Noting a perhaps somewhat guilty look,she smiled. "Don't worry none of them are friends."

"I have this problem," he looked down at the ground and frowned. It was embarrassing talking to his mom about this, but he didn't have anyone else, "its about April, you know the girl I was telling you about."

Ivy nodded,sitting near him. She didn't press knowing that, like his father, he would have to go at his own pace. She slipped an arm over his shoulder.

"Well first there's the problem of transportation. I mean, I sorta asked her to a movie and now I have no idea how we are going to get there."

"I' sure you father would be more than happy to drive you." she replied quietly. A date… my little boy has grown up. "There must be something else?"

"No, dad is out, I don't even want April to meet him."

"Mom. What do I do at the movies? I mean what is she expecting? Carlos's brother Tony told us about when he and Betty went to the movies…"

'yes… go on," she nodded, to hear what his friends had said , the biggest source of misinformation in the world and to buy herself a little time. What could she say. My my… things just keep coming

"Well will she want me to ah, I mean," his face burned, "would she want me to put my hand up her dress and what do I do if she does. I mean," his voice rose a little and cracked," what do I do afterwards."

Ivy blinked then smiled. "Andrew, I don't think she will want you to move quite so fast, what she will want is to be with you, talk to you and now you like her… compliment her and just be youself…"

Thinking back to her own first date,she added,"You don't need to impress her… you're a good bo- young man and this girl obviously has taste." She stroked his hair. "As for thing more intimate…hmmm,what to say… its confusing for all of us,knowing exactly what the other wants." or even yourself " I think you should wait… but… if at the end of the date she is standing there with an expectant look on her face… she may be open to a kiss. " She winked.

Andrew felt all his tension drain out, "thanks mom, " he threw his arms around her and gave her a hug.

She held him tightly,and kissed him on the forehead. It felt good,holding him like this. Her mind drifted back to the ship and that long horrible night. "Andrew… you can't know how much this means… that you came to me… thank you… "

"Of course I came to you mom. I know you don't have all the answers."

Ivy snapped her fingers. "Darn… you figured that out… " and laughed softly.

"Yeah, well, you don't pretend to. Like dad does. If you don't know you help us find the answers. I like that better. Did you see my soccer game?"

She was touched and couldn't really think of something to say. "Oh…no… I didn't get to… I… slept rather late today… I'm so sorry…" A shadow of guilt passed over her face,for that and other things.

He grinned, "That's okay. We lost. It was bad enough losing in front of her, without having family there."

"Ah, mom? Is it okay for me to umm. well. To look down her shirt. I mean I really wasn't trying or anything. And is it normal that I … I mean…", he broke off frustrated and embarrassed. How do you ask your mom if its okay to get a woody?

"Well…is it ok… that's for debate some would say if she was dressed to flaunt it then yes, other would disagree… is it natural for you to want to… yes,very much so." Noting his embarrassment she put two and two together. A breasts man,like father like son "And the reaction you likely had to it was perfectly natural as well." My… this girl was his age and had enough chest to draw that much attention.

He frowned," But how do you know she is flaunting it?

Walked right into that one she thought,biting her lower lip. "Well… the simple answer would be if you don't have to go out of your way to see it… she's flaunting it. " Yes that's it… tell him that any woman dressed appealingly is asking for it

"No no… I mean, well most woman's clothing is meant to heightened the attractive assets and catch a man's eye… its not like you snuck into the girl's locker room to peek at her anything like that, right? " She smiled.

He cocked his head, a movement so like Jon when he was trying to pin something down; confusion written plainly over his face, "Um. No. I wouldn't do that. So all women flaunt it? How does that become a debate then? I mean if woman's clothing is ment to flaunt then it's okay all the time? " His confusion seemed to be growing.

"And so it was perfectly okay for me to look at April's breasts, as a matter of fact she wanted me too because I didn't have to try too hard?"

"Well… its hard to say… some women disagree and think its demeaning to be looked at for their physical appearance alone or they feel its debasing to women as a whole as it personifies them as objects…they don't dress that way." Ivy paused. "As for April… I've never met her but I would dare say she wanted you to be attracted to her…dressed to be so… might be thrilled that you found her so… but would be offended if you told her where you looking… confusing aren't we?"

"But…", he frowned and shook his head,"where does being honest come in then? And how do I know when its okay to look and when its not? Arrrh! No wonder they say women are hard to understand. You don't even know what you are doing. How are we supposed to?"

"Oh we know what we're doing… we just can't tell you… its in the rules. " She couldn't resist a little teasing.

"Really… yes its complicated and taxing… but when…when you find someone who's worth it… its one of the best things that can happen to you… I don't know all the answers… they are different for everyone…you are going to make mistakes… we all do but you are intelligent and perceptive enough to deal with them and learn from them. Just remember never be someone you aren't… you don't have to equal your friend's story or anything else… its between you and the young woman you are with." ok…that sounded all right… the therapist wont be able to blame it all on me now…

He thought about that for a few minutes and then nodded, "Okay what about kissing? How do I know when she wants to be kissed, I mean what is an expectant look? And how do I kiss her? I mean I've already kissed her on the check."

"trust me… you will know… as to how… " Ivy paused. "How… well… its something you have to learn… but as a tip… cock your head a little to the side so you don't bump noses… "

He looked thoughtful and nodded,"Okay one more question. What's going to happen between you and dad?"

Ivy sighed some of her bright mood leaving her. " I don't know… I really don't know… He…and I have changed." She ventured a small smile. "Yeah I know… duh…right?" She reached to embrace him… but stopped herself as she realized her vines were reaching for him as well and she remembered where some of them had been. " I am going to try and work something out with him… "

"Okay…so what are you going to do about Kate?"

She paused, looking at him shocked into silence then spoke slowly. "What do you mean do about Kate?"

He squirmed, "Well how can you work something out with dad when she is … well when she is, you know."

He could have tried to be discrete about it,not let the kids know so soon. Ivy felt a bit uncomfortable, but held it in check well. "Adults… have needs… and your father thought I was dead and adults have needs… now… well I am different… and I don;t know if he can accept that… I just don't know what to tell you… I want to reassure but not make promises I don't know if I can keep… but I want us to be a family again… " DO you?she taunted herself. Was that why you slept with her, or was it to even the score?

"But. You're still our mom right?"

"Oh yes, now and forever nothing will change that… nothing ever… " she gathered him up in her arms, Curiously her tendrils stayed back, for a moment the memories from the night before were still vivid. "Andrew that is one question you will always know the answer too."

He hugged her back for a few seconds and then lets her go, "Thanks mom, I gotta go and call April before it gets to late."

"all right… I want to see you sister though before you go… " She stood and followed out of the grove.

As they approached the two darkness was falling and for once this area of the park was deserted. That would change when the stars and moon emerged but for now it was a quiet time. Rebbeca slipped off the bench and ran towards her mother, throwing herself into her arms. Talking a mile a minute about what she did at school.

Jon stood but stayed where he was. Andrew hovered somewhere inbetween not sure what he should be doing.

Stroking Rebecc's hair she gathered the little girl up in her arms and walked toward Jon. She listened to all her stories,savoring the sound of her voice, her smell and looks. Once she was a few feet from Jon, she ventured a smile. "Hello… I I hope everything is… well… the kids are fine…the house?"

He nodded stiffly,"Things are fine. Come on kids, tomorrows' a school day. It's getting late."

Slowly the children hugged their mom goodbye and walked off. Andrew looking back every few moments.

Ivy watched until they were out of sight, then returned to her grove. She sank to the ground thinking. What will I tell Kate… I don't know myself. For several minutes she was lost in thought,only relaxing shortly before it was time of her appointment with Kate. Reaching though the Green she felt the small flicker in the bounds of Kate's apartment and send herself there.