I haven't really watched the show all summer, and still don't have the DVDs, so things may be a bit muddled. I always thought that Charlotte King was an interesting character, not to mention the fact that she's a southern girl! Lol. I came on here to see what stories there were, and there's some great ones from what I've read so far, but nothing much about Charlotte. So, I thought I'd take a stab at it, with a bit of a spin. There's not much detail, I know. I've found as I get older I'm less patient, and being less patient I don't describe the setting as I used to. In this case I think you'll agree that this chapter is long enough as it is.

It's A Southern Thing

"Hey," he smiled, but that was as far as he got.

"Coop, this isn't a good time. I left you a message, told you I was busy. "It's a family thing," Charlotte added tersely.

"Not a good time? For Charlotte King? The insatiable-"

"The movie's on!"

Cooper started. He was surprised to hear another voice inside Charlotte's house. Though he was happy to note that at least it wasn't a man's voice.

Charlotte seemed to jump out of her skin and immediately closed the door so that only her face was visible.

Charlotte glanced fertively back inside. "I have to go," she opened the door wide enough to begin pushing him away.

"I'll be sending a patient to you in the morning."

"Uh," he tried in vain to look past her into the house, "okay. Would you have told me this if I hadn't shown up tonight?"

"No," she answered.

"Leave, Coop. Now." She shut the door in his face.

***************************************************************************

"Slow morning, huh?" Pete gave Dell a nod in acknowledgement as he walked past the desk.

"Yeah, so far. Dr. Freedmen has a patient already, and that's it. Well, for this early that is."

Pete shrugged. "Hey, that's fine."

The phone rang and Dell reached over a stack of files to answer it.

"Oceanside Wellness-"

Pete paused at the look on Dell's face.

"Uh, um, yes, yes he is." Then he pulled the receiver away from his face and stared at it.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing."

"Who was that?"

"That was Charlotte King."

"What did she want?"

"She just wanted to know if Dr. Freedmen was in. When I said yes, she hung up the phone."

Pete laughed. "Make sure Violet's busy."

Dell tilted his head in agreement. "Yeah."

Pete walked on towards his office as Dell turned back to his work. The files in the filing cabinet were in order, but the papers within the files were a bit haphazardly thrown in. At the moment he was just straightening the papers in the files before placing them-

"Shit!" He hissed as an entire file, and it's contents was knocked to the floor.

"I knew I should have just organized from within the cabinet," he grumbled to himself, bending down to retrieve the papers and file from the floor. Once grabbed, he placed them on the desk, put the papers in order and back into their designated file. Then, having learned from his mistake, he placed the file on top of the others, picked them all up, and deposited them back in their filing cabinet of origin behind him.

"I'll deal with you, later." He said, pointing to the filing cabinet. Then he shrugged, it wasn't vital after all. He sat down with a sigh. "So much for that."

The sound of a throat clearing made Dell look up with a start. The face of a young girl, just barely above the desk top, stared back at him.

He grinned widely, somewhat embarrassed, and wondered how long she'd been standing there.

"Hi there! Sorry, I didn't hear you before."

The girl smiled at him in return.

"Hello, sir. I'm here to see Dr. Cooper Freedmen."

Dell glanced at the schedule. "Do you have an appointment?"

"Um….well, I really don't know sir. I think so. My aunt told me to come."

"You're here by yourself?" He glanced around the empty waiting area.

"Yes, sir."

Dell smiled warmly, keeping his concern to himself. "Okay, well, Dr. Freedmen is with a patient right now, but see those chairs over there? You can sit and watch tv, or read a book. It shouldn't be too long."

She nodded.

"Oh, what's your name? I'll tell Dr. Freedmen you're here."

"Luanne King."

He nodded. "And you're mother's, I mean, your aunt's name?"

"Charlotte King- she's Dr. Charlotte King. She works over at the hospital."

Dell's eyes widened, then he squinted looking at the girl. He smiled again, trying not to look too shocked. "Okay, just have a seat then, I'll let him know you're here."

She turned and walked away to one of the chairs nearest her.

Dell rose, and quickly made his way to the kitchen where Addison and Naomi were eating breakfast. He opened the door just wide enough to peek his head in.

"Sorry, maning the desk for the time being, but- did you know Charlotte King had a niece?"

"I'm sure there's a lot we don't know about Charlotte King, Dell," Naomi answered.

Addison chuckled. "Let's keep it that way," she answered.

"No, she's here!"

"Charlotte?"

"No, her niece. At least, I think it's her niece, that's what she said anyway."

"I don't think anyone would make that up."

"Addison!"

She grinned, not sorry in the least.

Naomi rose from her chair, intruiged. "Is Charlotte here?"

"No. The girl's here alone."

"That's odd. I mean, with Charlotte always being the one to espouse rules and law, you'd think she'd know it's not exactly standard procedure to leave a child-

"She's here to see Cooper."

"Cooper?" Addison's forehead lined in confusion, and she stood up.

"Thanks for telling us, Dell," Naomi smiled. "You go on back to the desk."

Dell nodded and walked back to the desk, knowing that the two women would soon find out all he wanted to know.

Seconds later Addison walked to the desk and grabbed a random file, she then walked back to Naomi, who had positioned herself on the adjacent hallway. Addison stood with her back to the girl, so that Naomi could see her, while both giving the impression of being immersed in some relevant medical conversation.

"She's a skinny little thing!" Naomi gushed. "She's like a little bird, with bird bone arms, and tiny legs! Oh, she's cute!"

They changed places.

"That beach tote is bigger than she is." The girl had her green tote bag, which was indeed bigger than she was, at her side on the chair, so that with the handle sticking up, the bag came nearly to her shoulder, and stuck out almost as far as her knee. "You could fit a whole person in there!"

"Maybe that's where Charlotte is," Naomi laughed at her own joke through bitten lips. "Move back," she ordered.

Addison changed places again and commented, "Boy for being related to Charlotte King, she certainly doesn't look much like her. Hopefully she doesn't act like her either."

"Hmm," agreed Naomi- hey, there goes Cooper's patient!"

"I mean, look at her hair, it's all matted, it looks like she hasn't brushed it in days and-

"Here comes Cooper. Boy that bag really is bigger than she is."

"I'm surprised any relative of Charlotte's would go out looking like that. She looks like she crawled out of-"

"Oh, be nice, she's only a little girl!"

"Yeah, but still and she's"

"Pregnant!" Naomi gasped, her mouth dropped open in shock. "Oh my god!"

Addison's mouth dropped open, and she spun around to look, just in time to see both Cooper and the girl walking down the hall.

"What?!"

"When she stood up to face Cooper- she held the bag in front of her, probably so he couldn't see, but I could. I could see her from the side- her stomach was sticking out."

Addison opened her mouth, but Naomi put her hand up.

"With those skinny arms and skinny legs, she's either so malnourished that her abdomen's distended, or she's pregnant. Addy, I know pregnant when I see it, and that girl is pregnant."

"And Cooper doesn't know?"

She shrugged. "Beats me. But he'll know in a minute, if she ever puts that bag away from her belly."

************************************

"So, your aunt is Charlotte King." He smiled and closed the door behind him.

"Doctor Charlotte King," she corrected him.

He nodded. "Yes, Dr. Charlotte King."

"You know her?"

Cooper smiled at the innocent sounding drawl the girl had. It was cute.

"I can't believe your aunt is Charlotte King."

"So, you do know her?"

"Yeah, yeah I do. We've worked together for some time."

"Oh."

"Well, if your aunt sent you here, I guess I'm going to have to examine you."

"Oh. I thought, well, I thought maybe she sent me here just to talk, or something."

He looked at her with open confusion.

"Well, I mean, Aunt Charlotte's a doctor and all, if there was something wrong, wouldn't she just be able to take care of it? Is there something wrong with me?"

"I, I don't know, Luanne."

She made a face. "Call me Caroline. Please," she added.

"Well actually, doctors aren't really supposed to medically treat their own relatives. It's, it's like a law or something."

"Well that's stupid. It'd be cheaper if she'd just-"

Cooper had moved to the sink to wash his hands, then pulled out a tray of instruments.

"What are you going to do?"

Just check a few things, your ears your eyes make sure everything works."

"Oh."

"Have you ever-" he stopped himself, "When was the last time you went to see a doctor, Caroline?"

Momma doesn't believe in doctors. She said whatever's wrong with me she can fix herself."

"I see." Definitely no gown then. "Well, I'll just check a few things." She tightened the grip on her bag as he stepped towards her.

"Just follow this light. Don't move your head, just follow it with your eyes. Good."

He reached for his ear scope and moved to stand beside her. "I'll just take a quick look in your ears…" he moved to her other ear, "looks good. I see you have a functioning brain in there."

She gave him a half smile as he pulled out a tongue depressor and placed the scope back in its holder.

"Okay now open your mouth," he placed the depressor on her tongue, "Say ah."

"Ahhh!" She made a face as he pulled the depressor away.

'Alright then, let's listen to the old heart." He placed his stethoscope on her chest. "Just breathe normally," he told her. Then he took it away and moved to her side again, placing the scope on her back. Normally it would have gone under the shirt, both times, but considering she'd never been to a doctor before, and from the looks of things clearly had some problems going on, he'd leave well enough alone and take it up with Charlotte later.

" And take a deep breath in- and let it out. And another deep breath in- and out." He put the scope down.

"Everything checks out good so far." He nodded to her. "One last thing, and we'll be done."

He made sure his instruments were in their places as he tried to ignore both his curiosity and all the questions going back and forth in his mind, then he turned back to his new patient.

" Now I'll check to see if all your internal organs are where they need to be." He gave her an apologetic look, "I'll have to put your bag over there, can't have it getting in the way of your internal organs."

She sighed in resignation and handed it to him. As he put the bag on the nearest chair Cooper saw a familiar book lying inside of it. He turned back to Caroline.

"I see you're reading"

He stopped, his mouth open. Holy crap. He shut his mouth, then cleared his throat. "To Kill A Mockingbird." His voice cracked.

She looked back at him. "Yeah. It was in Aunt Charlotte's bookshelf. One of her book shelves- one of her many book shelves.

He took her by the elbow, trying not to think, guiding her down to the table. "I'm just going to press a bit on your stomach-
"You're not lifting up my shirt," she told him.

He made a face. "No, no of course not. Don't need to."

"Good."

He had no intention of giving her anything close to his usual abdominal exam. This was well outside his expertise. So instead, he just placed his hands very lightly on her stomach, pressed the tiniest bit in a few places, and that was that.

"Here, we go, you can sit up now." He helped her back up to a sitting position.

"All done?"

"Yup."

"You're not gonna examine me below the belt, are you?" She raised an eyebrow.

"No! No. No." He shook his head in emphasis.

"Well, that's good." She slid off the bed and grabbed up her beach bag. "Aunt Charlotte said if you tried anything fresh I could taize your ass."

Cooper laughed aloud.

"Taize me?!"

Her face was deadpan. "What do you think is in the bag?"

He laughed again, in spite of himself, and in spite of the sick feeling he had in the pit of his stomach. At that moment she sounded exactly like Charlotte.

He opened the door and walked her out. The moment they left his office, Cooper could see Naomi, Addison, Dell and Pete staring. Which meant they knew before he did. Or suspected. He raised in eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders up to his ears in silent communication. Naomi put a hand to her forehead.

"Cooper!" The sharp voice startled him. Charlotte was standing at the elevators, looking daggers at the rest of the group. They'd get no answers from her.

"Hey, Aunt Charlotte." Luann/ Caroline smiled at her aunt.

"Did Dr. Freedmen take a look at you?"

"Yeah."

She seemed to remember something, then stopped still and turned to him. "Thank you, Dr. Freedman, sir."

Charlotte nodded her approval. The elevator doors opened and she stepped inside, holding the doors with her hand.

"Let's go, Luann."

"Charlotte!"

She looked daggers at him now. "No Cooper," she answered.

"We need to-"

"We need to do nothing of the sort."

Luann stepped into the elevator and as the doors were closing they heard Charlotte ask, "So what did Dr. Freedman discover."

"That I'll live. And I told him I'd taize him."

Charlotte smiled, and patted her niece on the head. "Good girl."

I've got another chapter or two in the works so far. Please review and let me know what you think, in spite of its skeletalness. And if you know of any good 'Charlotte episodes' online I can use to refresh my memory, let me know!