Hello! I'm currently watching my way through the Babylon box-sets and loving it, particularly the Charlie/Anna! I can't believe how few fanfics there are on here, but hopefully that can be fixed :) This is set at the end of Series 2, Episode 3, in which Anna's old friend Catherine throws the masked ball at the hotel. I thought it was a really lovely episode and some great Anna character building, but one thing there isn't enough of is what happened those years ago at the Chesterton, when Charlie and Anna were working together the first time... Anyway, I won't spoil it! This will be a two-chaptered story. Hope you enjoy the first part, and please let me know what you think! Thanks,
"Charlie, did you ever work at the Chesterton?" Catherine asked quizzically, and Anna's heart sank as she realised that Catherine had pieced it all together. She had done what she had been threatening to do since arriving at Hotel Babylon, and remembered exactly who Charlie was.
"Yeah, three years ago... Why?" Charlie asked, oblivious as usual - and for the first time, Anna was thankful for it.
"Oh, no reason" Catherine said in a small voice, and she glanced at Anna so quickly that she might have imagined it, before continuing, "Suppose I'd better go rescue what I can of my belongings. Looks like Great Granny gets her ring back." She waggled her fingers, and Anna was surprised she could even lift her hand with the weight of the diamond ring on it. She gave a weak laugh, unable to hide her exhaustion and the rate at which she was losing interest.
"Just out of interest," Charlie asked, "Did you, er, sign a pre-nup?"
"Ok," Charlie said in what Anna recognised as his Deputy Manager, let's-get-this-all-sorted-out voice, "I'm going to put you in touch with one of our regulars, he's probably the best divorce lawyer in the country. He'll make sure you're more than ok." Anna raised her eyebrows before she could stop herself.
Oh, Charlie, she couldn't help but think, You can sort everything out for her in an instant, make a phone call and she'll be secure for the rest of her life. I see you do it every day, for everyone... Why in god's name can't you do that for me?
"Thanks." Catherine looked chuffed to ribbons as she turned to Anna and enveloped her in a hug... And Anna realised that she'd missed it, missed Catherine more than she could say, because although they had fallen out, there was a time when they'd been friends. Proper, best friends, who worked and shopped and spent time together, talked to each other about everything... And since it had all fallen apart, since the fight, Anna realised she hadn't had any friendship nearly as genuine as that. She hadn't let herself, but now she clung on tightly to Catherine, not wanting to let go.
"I always wondered" Catherine whispered, "Why you were so keen to work here... Now I know." Another of her lightning-fast glances, this time at Charlie, before she walked away with a casual call of "Bye, Charlie!" And no further goodbye to Anna, for none was needed.
She did know what made Hotel Babylon such a desirable place to be employed, and, so did Anna. Deep down, she had always known, known that the things she claimed to want in life weren't what she wanted at all - As Catherine had just proved, fame and money were so easy to come by. Anna could marry a rich man, spend his money, divorce him and walk away with a packet in the blink of an eye if she wanted to, but she hadn't.
They had agreed, three years ago, to marry the first rich men they came across and spend the rest of their lives in luxury, but while Catherine had stuck by that vow, Anna had not. Catherine had travelled abroad, while Anna had travelled across London. Catherine stayed in luxurious, five star hotels... While Anna worked in one, just putting off that master-plan, their promise, a little longer each time. And she knew why. Of course she did.
Charlie took no further notice of Catherine as she left, and Anna felt a little glow as he turned to her.
"Was she lying about your parents... and your family name?"
She sighed, too tired to keep this up any longer, "My name's... Anna Thornton." She told him, and he gave her a smile which she knew meant he understood and appreciated the enormity of what she had just told him, what it meant to her.
"And what about the guy?"
Her heart skipped a beat, instinctively her voice turned defensive as she quickly replied, "What guy?!"
"The guy that she said..." Charlie never broke the eye contact with her as he spoke quietly, "...Broke your heart."
"I just," She thought quickly, "Made him up as an excuse for behaving badly." A fine answer, in admitting that she had behaved wrong while still keeping it ever-so-Anna and covering up exactly how she really felt. Still, though, she could read him like a book... and she knew he didn't entirely believer her, despite her best efforts.
"Come here." he said quietly, and pulled her into his arms... And for the second time that day, but even more so than with Catherine, Anna found herself in an embrace that she had dearly missed, and never wanted to let go of. Ever.
"Do you think I'm an idiot?" She couldn't help but blurt out.
"Yep." He replied, without a moment's thought, and Anna gave an instinctive, tired laugh.
"Thanks." He let go of her, regrettably, but they stayed close as he continued talking.
"I just think that some of the things that you think are important... Really aren't."
"Like what?" She sniffed.
"Like... money, status, position..." Ah yes, she thought, all of those things she had vowed to care about, all that time ago, and still maintained desperately that she did... When in fact what she wanted, deep down, was nothing of the sort.
"Would you really want to swap your life for Catherine's?"
"Nope." Anna answered amazingly quickly, with a small, but genuine smile, "Not right now, no.
"Well there you go." He smiled back, and in that moment something shot between them, a connection that was alomost electric as he looked into her eyes. They both felt it... And for that reason, they both pulled away from each other completely, the moment over as they nervously sipped from their untouched cups of tea. And then he spoke.
"I'll see you later."
"God Anna, you look tired." Ben's mouth dropped open theatrically as she joined him behind the reception desk next morning.
"Thank you!" She said in a falsely bright tone, "That's exactly what I need to hear! Christ, Ben, a smidgen less tact from you and I'd have to suspect you were on the turn."
"About-turn." He corrected her as she pulled out a compact mirror and inspected the dark circles beneath her eyes, "And god, no. So, what's the matter?"
"I haven't slept." Anna told him quietly, before reaching underneath the desk to retrieve an expensive looking Parker fountain pen box, opening the lid and revealing a Touche Eclat concealer pen.
"I physically worhip you." Ben told her, looking like he meant it, "And I think I understand now why you haven't - Oh, come here." He took the pen from her, which she was currently swiping carelessly at her face, and began to delicately apply it beneath her eyes, "You been up all night with some divinely rich young man?"
"Something like that." Anna muttered, wishing more than anything that everything could just stop and be quiet... When of course, the phone rang, and she took a deep breath before lifting the receiver to her ear, without moving her face as Ben kept working with the make-up, and chirped a professional: "Good morning, Hotel Babylon reception." There was silence on the end of the phone.
"Hello?" She said again, and then through irate, gritted teeh, "Hello?!" Silence, again... And then the low, continuous beep of the phone line disconnecting.
"Oh, for god's sake!" Anna squealed, slamming down the phone and fiercely batting the concealer out of Ben's hand in one fast movement, "That is the third time that has happened in two sodding days and I'm SICK of it!"
"Alriiiight..." Ben looked nervously around him at the empty lobby, "Well, you know, it, er, happens... I'm just going to check the, erm, actually. Just need to... That, er..." And he practically ran from behind the reception desk into one of the lifts, shooting a scared glance over his shoulder at Anna as he went.
She sighed, and put an embarrassingly poorly manicured hand to her throbbing head. As if she had spent the night with some rich stranger, as if she could with everything that had been troubling her, and still was... Anna looked around her at the empty lobby, taking in the place which was practically her whole existence.
Good god, she thought, and put her head in her hands on the desk in a rare, open moment of weakness, letting the memories that had been plaguing her all night, keeping her wide awake, wash over her once more.