|The Pecking Order
Author: Indubitably Cynical PM
Charlotte, Juliet and Kate attempt to find a balance in their relationship. Contains femslash.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Juliet & Kate - Words: 1,457 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 1 - Published: 06-24-10 - id: 6082663
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
It was difficult to hike when every muscle in her body was already aching and she was at the mercy of a massive adrenaline crash, but a crucial aspect of Charlotte's profession was an ability and a penchant for handling dirt and sweat and sun and fatigue, and she figured that Kate and Juliet outperforming her in these areas would do some damage to her ego. Well, even more damage, after she had already been physically overpowered by a bloody fertility doctor. Of course said fertility doctor definitely received her share of bruises, but at the moment she seemed completely unfazed by any sort of bodily discomfort, walking up ahead with her man, the loud leader of the castaways, and exchanging the occasional smile with him.
Her tongue tasted blood. Possibly the humidity, possibly the beating.
"I think," Dan said from beside her, sweat pasting his shirt to his thin torso, "I think, that you should apologize."
"For what? She held the gun to my head." She sounded a little petulant, she realized. That would not do, even if there was only Dan to witness it. She would, after all, prefer to retain her façade of apathy with its vague hint of assertiveness. She had no other way of functioning when it came to human beings.
"No no no, to Kate." He gestured to where she walked between the two of them and the doctor and Juliet, on her own. "You hurt her."
"Because she would have been in the way, Dan. I am not going to apologize for something that was necessary."
"Charlotte," he said her name the way he always did, slurred and elongated, "you could really, really use the points. Or, at least, you can't afford to lose any more."
And she really, really did not care. She was here for herself, not for anyone else, and certainly not to assuage the paranoia of a group of people who had, among other things, forcibly escorted her to a suburb of deserted houses, and done nothing but antagonize her and her comrades ever since.
But, "do it for me?" Dan asked with elements of both irresistible pathos and inexplicable persuasion.
She almost rolled her eyes instead of offering him a smile that was maybe condescending but hopefully not transparent in its reluctance, and she decided not to answer him for fear that she would sound so blatantly resentful.
Kate had her metaphorical tail tucked between her legs, shoulders rolled forward as she walked, eyes dazedly fixed on the backs of her friends. Charlotte climbed over a stretch of thick roots and stepped alongside her. She spotted hints of blood on Kate's face, and knew that they were her doing, imagined a nice line of wreckage: Juliet humiliates her, she humiliates Kate. Maybe she did owe the girl at least a pretense of remorse.
"What?" Kate asked quietly, drained of most of the fire she had thrown at Charlotte when she had the gun out earlier, and Charlotte realized that she had been watching Kate for quite an uncomfortable length of time.
"Sorry," Charlotte finally blurted. "Sorry for this," and she reached out, unconsciously and regrettably, and touched somewhere around Kate's temple, where some blood had congealed. She heard the insincerity in her voice, felt the bizarreness of her touching Kate like this, but it was too late to withdraw her hand, so she was committed to invading her personal space.
Kate stopped abruptly, leaving them in a very strange position indeed. Her change in stance had resulted in Charlotte's hand slipping down to Kate's cheek, which was itself awkward enough, and for a moment she was clearly allowing Charlotte to see the latent anger glimmering in her green eyes.
"Are you really here to rescue us?" Kate demanded, as Charlotte finally had the presence of mind to remove her hand from its accidentally intimate position on Kate's face. "Because if not, you're wasting our time." She sounded a lot more aggressive than she looked willing or able to make good on.
"Kate, that's enough," Juliet admonished, and a few hours ago Charlotte would have been surprised to hear her speak without Jack's permission. Before she had discovered just how nasty in a fight Juliet could be. "We have all had a rough day, including them." Charlotte wondered when in the time since her attempt to kill both her and Dan Juliet had decided to be supportive of them.
Shockingly, Kate completely wilted at the rebuke, like a little girl being chastised by her mother. Juliet had turned away from her with Jack to resume their trek, when something suddenly breathed new life into Kate, her shoulders straightening with resolve and her arms folding firmly beneath her breasts. "How dare you?" she hissed, and Juliet flipped back around, ever infuriating in her lack of expression.
"You come here, you infiltrate us, you prepare to abduct us, and now Jack and Sayid and Sun all trust you because you show some convincing guilt and you have a sob story, or whatever," and she was livid, the frustration practically steaming from her pores, and Charlotte was intrigued, because she had not known any of this, "but I am not going to let you order me around. I'm not your fucking prisoner anymore, Juliet, and I will continue to trust these two even less than I trust you."
Charlotte expected her to storm off after having what effectively amounted to a tantrum, albeit a perfectly valid one if her friends were truly stupid enough to accept Juliet after everything she had allegedly done. But Kate held her ground, standing firm and strong and leveling a lethal glare at Juliet.
"Kate—" Jack began, taking a step forward, face decorated with a concerned, patronizing air.
"No, not you too," Kate interrupted. "I've had enough."
Now he looked just as irate as she did, but Juliet put a hand on his shoulder, soothingly "let her be, Jack."
Things became even more curious then, when instead of either erupting at Juliet for daring to stand up for her or, satisfied, moving on to the front of their group to lead them back to the beach, Kate sank back into that dejected look of her face and her body.
Glancing from Kate to Juliet to Jack, Charlotte felt the pieces elegantly fall into place.
"Shall we continue?" she offered, barely managing to hold back an amused smile, although she was sure it came out in her voice. "I don't mean to interrupt whatever fascinating melodrama you lot have going on. I just assumed we wanted to be back at the beach sometime today."
The doctor looked embarrassed, Kate gave her the stink eye and Juliet just fucking smirked, and Charlotte thought it may or may not have been in appreciation for her comment. There was a veritable treasure trove of data communicated in these various reactions, if Charlotte could bring herself to bother with these new acquaintances, their temperaments, their weaknesses. She had not yet decided if it was worth it.
The pair in front started walking again without further acknowledgment of what Charlotte had said.
"Good on you, standing up to Mummy and Daddy," she couldn't help saying to Kate as she gestured toward Jack and Juliet. And then she mentally kicked herself. Really, that had been unnecessary and her helpless abrasiveness needed to stop, regardless of whether she cared for these people or not. Because, she had realized heavily, she needed them to survive, and they needed her.
She expected Kate to tell her in no uncertain terms so sod off right then, but she was surprised. "Aren't they just?" Kate replied to her jibe, sending her a smile that was sad, but at least it was a smile.
"She imprisoned you, then?" Charlotte asked curiously, relieved that Kate had not been too offended. "What's that story?"
The brief openness evaporated abruptly from Kate's face. "Why don't you ask her? Since the two of you have made friends and all."
Having been thoroughly stonewalled, Charlotte fell back with Dan once again, and amused herself in picturing any kind of universe where she and Juliet could possibly be friends. One outcast to another, perhaps, but other than that, they were utterly incompatible.
"Conflict among the alpha females, then?" Dan asked her casually.
"Tell me about it," Charlotte confirmed. "Just look at the two of them."
"Three," Dan corrected, raising his eyebrows at her, and shit, if even Dan could pick up on the way these two women and their familiar guns and violence and attitudes bothered her, then she was really in trouble.