Author's Note: I know some of you who have me on Author Alert may never have seen Life Unexpected, but I hope you'll read anyway. Here are the basics: in high school, Nate "Baze" Bazile and Cate had sex after a school dance (though they were not each other's dates). Cate got pregnant, and Baze denied it was his. Cate had the baby, Lux, and gave her up for adoption.
Unfortunately, Lux's heart condition made her undesirable to adoptive parents. As such, she bounced around foster care. A series of events recently resulted in Lux being returned to the custody of her birth parents. Cate is a radio personality, engaged to her co-host Ryan, and Baze runs a bar. Now they're trying to make their unusual family work. It's got an Everwood-meets-Gilmore-Girls vibe.
Note: This fic contains some quotes from the episode Turtle Undefeated. I own nothing.
How had Ryan first realized he loved Cate?"She said something sweet—rare, I know—and she put her hand on mine, and I felt it. That connection. That charge, and I knew there was something between us. Sound about right, Cate?" He looked past the microphone, into her soft brown eyes, but her dewy look hardened in an instant.
"Here's a question: why is there a premium on fun?" Kate said, before leaning toward her own mike, sending a rant on Baze's faults as a parent and a person out onto the airwaves. Ryan wondered whether Cate had heard a word he had said, whether she had seen him…whether those soft eyes had even been for him.
Ryan awakened to a dozen freaked-out messages from Lux, threw on his clothes, and tore across town to the police station, only to discover he was too late: Cate had already been released. A call from Alice led Ryan to Open Bar, and he walked in to find Cate's hand on Baze's. That connection. That charge. Ryan could feel it in the air. We lost the charge and they found it again. Or maybe Cate just carries it around with her, shocking the hell out of any man she touches. He shook off the bizarre thought.
Cate snatched her hand from Baze's when Ryan walked in. If she hadn't, then maybe Ryan could have convinced himself that this whole thing was in his head, that had nothing to worry about, but the guilty move away from Baze had stung. Ryan was dazed, but heard Kate say, "I can't believe that you came all the way down here."
"Glad I did."
Ryan's tone wasn't lost on Baze. He couldn't meet Ryan's eyes. When Cate and Ryan had temporarily broken up, Baze and Cate had slept together, but Baze wasn't going to tell anyone. Cate loved Ryan. Ryan was good for her. Cate and Baze's recent fling was a bout of insanity.
Baze and Cate together were tequila. Of all the liquors he served in the bar, tequila was the most dangerous. It was an acquired taste, but once some people acquired it, they couldn't get enough. Tequila was a depressant (like all alcohol), but it also contained a stimulant. It made some people euphoric and wild, some sexy, and others violent and mean. Tequila could turn on a person so fast he or she could never even stand to smell it again. Yes, he and Cate were tequila. They had been together a total of two nights out of their lives—two nights that had resulted in a baby, endless screaming matches, fifteen years of silence, the return of their now-teen daughter, and the return of the screaming— broken now by the occasional awkward silence or, more rarely, civil conversation. He should have been at the tequila-makes-me-sick phase. Even a whiff of it should have sent Baze running for cover. Instead, he wanted to grab a saltshaker and start slicing limes. Hence, he couldn't look at Ryan.
Baze really didn't want Ryan to find out that Lux's conception wasn't the last time he and Cate had slept together. He wasn't ready for that. A month ago, he'd just been hanging out with his friends, doing body shots off of tipsy college chicks. His life had been fun and easy: hanging out with his friends, scraping together just enough cash to pay rent. Hell, he'd still done his laundry at his parents' house. He'd been 32 years old, but he hadn't really been a man. Now, all of a sudden, Baze was a dad. Becoming a man his daughter could be proud of was hard enough without dragging Kate into it.
After Lux came downstairs to talk to Baze, Ryan tromped out of the bar and Cate followed him.
"Ryan, I'm so sorry."
"For what, Cate? For dragging me out of bed? For getting arrested? For spending the night with Baze?"
The color drained from Cate's face. She quickly realized when Ryan said, "spent the night with Baze," he only meant hanging out tonight, but for a second, she'd been terrified that Ryan knew about her stupid second fling with Nate Bazile.
"I was just checking up on Lux's party!"
"And how did that lead to you two getting arrested together?"
"Lux stole a keg for her party, and when Baze found out, he and Lux had an argument." Ryan raised an eyebrow, as this was perhaps the most parental action he'd heard attributed to Baze. "Anyway, after the argument, for some reason, Bug took her for a joyride in a classmate's car. The kid reported the car stolen, and we were trying to explain things to the police officer. I just touched his shoulder, and…"
"Wait, you touched a cop?"
"Yes. Not disrespectfully. I just tapped him to get his attention, and…"
"Cate, everyone knows you don't touch a cop!" Ryan exclaimed with a disbelieving laugh.
"Hey, Baze didn't know either, apparently!"
"Speaking of Baze…"
"Do we have to speak of Baze?"
"Look, when I walked in, it just seemed pretty...intense between you two. What was that all about?"
"That's just the way it's always been," Cate said. "Since day one."
AN: Please leave a comment. Thanks!