Title: ImpressionistsAuthor: giantessmessRating: PGPairing: Cate/EricaWords: 750Disclaimer: Characters aren't mine. No profit, no foul.Summary/info: Set in season 9. New pairings are fun. It’s always interesting watching the new ones. You watch them keep to themselves, or become too friendly, too soon. No, that’s ok, friendly’s a good thing. You have to remind yourself that you were that shiny eager face two years ago. Sweaty palms, watching Scott’s every move and making sure he liked you. Why didn’t he like you?He didn’t like you. You remember your first night at Cougars. You wish you’d paid more attention to your surroundings, instead of watching the way his skin flushed from all the beer.The new ones are easy to spot in Cougars. It doesn’t matter if they’re with a group or utterly alone, you can pick them. It’s all Charlotte’s fault for telling you about her game.“That one – there. She’s wiping her hands on her pants – see that?”“I see it. You’re imagining it.”“And there – that bloke fiddling with his straw.”“Probably bored. How do you know he even works-”“No, I think he’s a new ambo.”“Charlotte.”She proceeded to explain all the nuances of spotting new recruits. They look nervous, their laugh’s are always too loud or forced. Awkward.“And then after awhile they just blend in and become like all the rest. We’re all the same, here.”You hate listening to Charlotte. She’s such a cynic. She’s overly friendly, or not friendly at all. Painfully stressed or suspiciously easy-going. Yep, there are lots of reasons why you wouldn’t pursue anything with her beyond a one-night-stand.It’s her fault you’re scanning Cougars now, with that narrow-eyed cynicism. It isn’t like you at all, but you’re on your own. Dan’s at home with too much bloody paperwork. Jack’s got a shift. Sean’s probably at home, doing whatever mysterious thing he does to unwind.You rest your eyes on the two faces at the bar. Erica and Bart. Bart looks like the typical nervous intern, gratefully gripping his drink, eyes darting around the room like the walls are about to challenge all his diagnoses. You don’t need a second glance to know Erica’s different. If she hadn’t been chatting to Bart, you doubt you’d even have noticed her.“Cate? Hey - Cate?” She waves you over. Before you can shake your head, Bart’s offered his seat to you.“Hi Cate,” he’s grabbing his coat.“Hi…guys?” You’re eyes become a little narrow. “I miss something?”Bart’s face flushes, “Uh…no. I just have…” he smiles. “An early start.”“That’s alright,” Erica soothes him. “Go on, we’ll be ok.”He gratefully exits the pub. You tilt your head.“What…?”“I think he has a bit of a crush on you.”“Great,” you rest your elbows on the bar, then you realize you have nothing to say to this woman. You glance at the drink in her hand. Cougars. Cougars at Cougars. You resist making the joke.“I thought he had a crush on you.”Erica smiles uncertainly, “Who?”“Bart.”She just shakes her head. “God.”“Yeah, now you know how I feel.”She shoots you an apologetic look, “Well, I couldn’t think of any other reason to explain his behaviour.”“Sure.”“I never said you were interested.”Your eyes widen, “I think that’d be illegal.”Erica studies you for a moment, you feel a little hot with her gaze so focussed on you.“He can’t be more than a couple of years younger than you. Don’t see a problem with it.”You glance over at the bar and order a Cougars. At least you can make the joke to yourself. You realise you really don’t know anything about this woman. She’s a nurse. She’s a nurse, that’s it. That’s all you have. “Do you come here a lot?” She’s still sizing you up. You shrug.“Easiest place to meet after a shift.”“So you do?”“Yeah,” you smile to yourself. “I do.”“Funny,” she takes a sip of her drink. “You look a little…”“What?”She holds a hand up, as if to stop oncoming traffic.“It’s nothing. I mean, it’s perfectly understandable, given the way I tend to feel in straigh-” She laughs, and you find yourself frowning in confusion. She swallows.“Look, you just seem…”“What?”She shrugs, “Awkward?” Then she shoots you a look. “God I can’t believe I just – I’ve had a few…”“’sokay.”But you haven’t stopped giving her that same look. Maybe you’re glaring at her, or maybe you’re just sizing her up in a different way. You’re thinking about Charlotte and her stupid bloody game when Erica kisses you. Her mouth tastes like Cougars.