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Low: Cate/Charlotte
by Give Me The Gun (givemethe_gun)
at July 1st, 2006 (03:54 pm)

Title: Low
Author: givemethe_gun
Fandom: All Saints
Pairing: Cate/Charlotte
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of the characters, all of whom belong to an Australian TV network I don’t know that have sold the rights to good old Vitaya.
Summary: Too much alcohol; feeling too brave, too loose. And all this in the presence of a woman she may or may not be half in love with already. Cate knows, in some fuzzy corner of her mind, that this can’t end well. Title stolen from the Coldplay song of the same name.
Info: Western Europe doesn’t seem to have caught up with Australia, so as far as this fic is concerned, Jack and Charlotte never had the bad idea to get drunk together, Vincent and Cate (honestly - ?) never got together and some guy named Spence is only a bad idea in a writer’s twisted mind. Bitter? Me? 


Cougars, after work. Cate chooses a table tucked away in a dark corner, orders herself a stiff drink (the first of many), because four people died in her immediate vicinity today and she wasn’t able to do anything to help, except hold a trembling hand and murmur a few helpless words.

She doesn’t want to talk to anyone; she wants to drink herself into a stupor by herself, thank you very much, because sometimes this job of hers screws up her head so much that she feels like she’s no good for anything else. And Cate hates the thought that all she has to look forward to is more of the same. All the happy, fuzzy-feelings-inside moments disappeared at the sight of a wave of blood and the sound of distraught sobs from the family room. 

It’s in this frame of mind that Cate settles herself in for a night of solitary drinking. But then Jack appears, earnest and clueless as ever, babbling about some medical procedure someone deigned to let him assist today, still elated hours later at having been allowed to actually touch someone’s diseased organs. 

“Jack,” Cate says loudly over the noise in the bar. 

“Yes, Cate?” 

“I’m drinking and I’m pissed off and I’m sorry for shouting but just leave me alone, all right?” 

He retreats quickly with a wobbly grin and Cate feels a bit sorry for hurting his feelings, but not enough to actually do anything about it. Jack’s a good guy, Cate muses. Dense as a rock, but, you know, well-meaning. Surprisingly cowardly, though. Cate has to smile as she remembers him fleeing before Charlotte’s thunderous expression after a particularly idiotic screw-up on Jack’s part. Not that Jack would be the only one to run; loitering crowds of gossiping orderlies and nurses have been known to part like the proverbial seas before Dr. Beaumont’s angry eyes. 

As if summoned by Cate’s thoughts, Charlotte appears, in another of those maddening singlet-and-skirt outfits, and sits down across the table from Cate, clutching a whiskey like it’s a life-line. 

Cate finds she doesn’t mind the company too much, because Charlotte was there too and so what if she took it better than Cate did? She still looks at least as bad as Cate feels.

~

A few drinks later, Cate is feeling marginally better, thanks in part to Charlotte’s scathing comments as to the medical profession in general.
 
“You thinking about chucking it in, then?” Cate asks, half-joking. 

Charlotte chuckles. “Sure. Right in the middle of this bloody fellowship. That’d make Frank happy. And Newell. God, she’d love that, wouldn’t she?” 

Cate smirks. “You know, all this latent anger of hers makes me think she’s got a thing for you.” And giving voice to the nauseating thought is worth it, just for the look on Charlotte’s face. Cate laughs for the first time that day, and Charlotte just glares.

~

An hour or two later and having lost count of drinks consumed, Cate slips away, mouth against Charlotte’s ear to tell her she’ll be back in a minute, fingers brushing her bare arm, feeling Charlotte shiver at the touch. 

Too much alcohol; feeling too brave, too loose. And all this in the presence of a woman she may or may not be half in love with already. Cate knows, in some fuzzy corner of her mind, that this can’t end well.
But when Charlotte follows her into the empty bathroom, pushes her gently against the sink and kisses her, Cate doesn’t complain too much. Not at all, actually.

~

She doesn’t remember who says what or who suggests leaving, but next thing she knows, she’s up against Charlotte’s front door with her fingers tangled in that blonde hair, mildly surprised. But only mildly, because really, Cate’s not dense enough to have missed all of Charlotte’s stolen glances that night. 

The door closes behind them and then there’s that perfume tickling her nose again, a mumbled whisper and lips brushing against her ear. Cate sighs as Charlotte kisses down the line of her jaw. A car horn sounding down the street makes Charlotte pause and Cate protests with a noise in the back of her throat. Charlotte chuckles and kisses her properly; one, two, three quick kisses and a lock of Cate’s flyaway hair is tucked gently back behind her ear. 

Cate reaches out almost blindly in the half-light of Charlotte’s front hall. She grabs a handful of the singlet that she couldn’t take her eyes off earlier and pulls Charlotte’s warm body firmly towards her.
Another chuckle, this one exhaled against her neck. “Way to take charge, McMasters.”
 
“Shut up, you,” Cate retorts as she pulls her closer still.

~

When she opens her eyes, blinking against the harsh morning light, Cate doesn’t know where she is for a moment. It’s definitely not her room, but those are definitely her trousers on the floor over there. Along with a shirt she’s very sure does not, in fact, belong to her. 

She glances sideways, sees a slumbering Charlotte and wonders if she’s screwed things up again. She remembers that old half-cliché - that sex is the surest way to ruin a friendship - and she thinks it’s a pity because she genuinely likes Charlotte. Likes talking to her; likes how her eyes light up when she laughs; likes her militant approach to workplace relations; likes how she gets angry too quickly and feels bad about it afterwards; likes just being around her. More than she’ll admit to, even to herself. 

Charlotte rolls over, wraps an arm around Cate’s waist and murmurs something in Cate’s ear. Cate wonders if she’s diagnosing even in her dreams, and has to fight back a snicker. She supposes she could leave. Most of her clothes are right there and Charlotte appears to be sleeping like the dead. But it’s warm under the sheets, with Charlotte curled up next to her, and Cate’s never really been one for thinking decisions very far through, so she closes her eyes again and lets herself drift back to sleep to the sound of Charlotte mumbling.

~

Waking up the second time isn’t as idyllic – the bed is cold and empty except for her, and the sun streaming through the window is positively blinding. Cate sits up and tries to remember if Charlotte has a shift this morning, but is answered when the doctor in question appears in the doorway, dressed in shorts and another bloody singlet that makes Cate’s pulse skyrocket as she remembers how she got rid of the last one. 

“Hey,” she says, voice throaty this early in the morning. 

“Morning,” Charlotte replies, a bit awkwardly, eyes skittering over Cate’s body tangled in her sheets. “I made coffee. If you want some.” 

“Yeah. Thanks.” Cate’s lost for something to say other than “come back to bed”, which may seem a bit forward, so she drops her gaze to her clothes on the floor. After a moment, Charlotte leaves again and Cate wishes there was a silver-tongued God of Morning-Afters.

~

Cate wanders down the hall, arms folded across her chest, looking for her shirt and trying not to feel embarrassed. Charlotte comes out of the kitchen and avoids looking anywhere near Cate. Whether this is due to her lack of a shirt or just her presence in Charlotte’s house, Cate isn’t sure. 

Charlotte brushes past her on her way to the bathroom, but she says softly, “By the front door.” And there’s Cate’s shirt, just where Charlotte left it.

~

Sitting at Charlotte’s kitchen table, fully dressed now and clutching a cup of coffee like it’s all that’s keeping her alive, Cate studiously ignores the blonde woman sitting across the table. Who, Cate notes with both unease and appreciation, is still barely half-dressed. 

“Are you all right?” Charlotte asks suddenly. 

“What? Yeah, fine. Fine. Just, you know, hung over,” Cate replies, eyes not leaving the table, trying not to feel like a coward. 

“Yeah, I know. You were pretty drunk last night, weren’t you?” Something that sounds almost like a tinge of regret in Charlotte’s voice makes Cate look up and answer quickly.
“I wasn’t so drunk.” 

The corners of Charlotte’s mouth quirk upwards. As the silence settles over them again, the smile fades. Charlotte bites her lip and Cate almost cringes as she realizes how much she’d rather be doing that for her than staring blankly into a mug of coffee she doesn’t feel like drinking. 

This isn’t going like Cate had planned, as she had pulled on her clothes in Charlotte’s bedroom a few minutes ago. She’d decided she wasn’t going to give the impression that she was too eager for this sort of thing to continue, and would appear aloof and unaffected. But so far she seems to be failing miserably. 

Charlotte looks up and says hesitantly, “About last night. I didn’t mean to push you into anythi-” At this point, Cate ruins her entire charade quite beautifully by leaning across the table and kissing Charlotte mid-sentence. 

The speed with which Charlotte’s hand moves to the back of her neck makes Cate smile against Charlotte’s lips. Then she’s pulling them both to their feet and Cate’s back is up against the cool metal of the fridge door and Charlotte’s just smirking at her as she unbuttons the shirt Cate put on not five minutes ago.

~

When Cate’s getting ready to leave again, much later, she turns to Charlotte and asks impulsively, “Would you want to have dinner sometime?” 

That smirk creeps across Charlotte’s face again. “Are you asking me out, Cate McMasters?” 

“I figured it was about time,” Cate replies, eyes drifting down Charlotte’s frame, still draped in a sheet as she leans against the bedroom doorframe. 

Charlotte tilts her head and Cate almost swoons. She can already see Charlotte’s answer in those blue eyes, but Charlotte waits another minute before relenting. 

“All right, then. I suppose I could sacrifice a night off for you.” 

Cate tugs her towards her and kisses her quickly. “Very gracious of you.”

Comments

Posted by: AJ (jaguar7482)
Posted at: July 2nd, 2006 12:03 pm (UTC)

Thanks for sharing, quite enjoyable!

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