A/N: I've dreamed so much of these two together. I can only imagine what it would be like. This won't be very long, but it's going to be nicely done (I hope?). I had to write this.
"My earliest memory of my mother was when she told me I had no father. I was no younger than six at the time. These days, I don't know if she was trying to protect me, or if she was hiding herself from a lost man. I don't think I'll ever understand it. But there are times she would open up to me about him: his name was Carter Baizen. I imagined them together from what I knew of my mother - in my imagination, they were two people happily in love and destroying the world around them. A bit like Bonnie and Clyde."
Georgina was nine when she first tried to smoke.
Unsurprisingly, it was Carter who tempted her, a thin cigarette slid in between his lips and a satisfied smirk on his face. In an eager rush to grow up, Georgina envied the confidence that emanated easily in Carter's mere presence, basking her in the glow of his contentment. He lived life without regrets, uncaring of anything but his next cigarette and his next breath.
They were outside in the garden at the Baizen's vacation estate, the flowers in full blossom and the air heady with the scent of roses. It was spring, the sun baking the peaty soil with pleasant puffs of clouds in the sky, everything just so simply beautiful that it was almost sinful. Every year, in the springtime, Georgina's mother left her with the Baizens, while she did "grown-up things" in places Georgina was forbidden to roam, and the young brunette spent much of her time learning from Carter.
The things Georgina learned began innocent, anything from reading to printing her name as a toddler, Carter being four years older and much more wise than she. One year, she'd come back to find him grown in a way she couldn't understand. His voice had deepened, his hair was cropped, and he developed muscle that his prepubescent body lacked. And Georgina was naturally curious, yet she said not a word.
It was when Carter's parents discerned he was old enough to stay home alone, so they may attend some auction of sorts, that Georgina was left in his care, staring out over the garden while he blew smoke into the air.
Being the curious, fearless child she was, Georgina thrust her chin forward and gazed up at Carter, blue eyes wide. "I want to try it." She upturned her lip into a pout and batted her eyelashes winningly at him, always a trick that worked well with adults.
Carter was thirteen at this time, older and more experienced than Georgina could ever understand. He looked down sparingly at her, puffing a cloud of smoke into her face as he did so. It was a silent standstill, a staring contest almost, before he shrugged his shoulders loftily and parted his lips. The cigarette slipped easily in the crook of his two fingers, and he held it out in front of Georgina, waiting for her to take it.
Georgina said nothing, and moved not a muscle, nervousness seizing her.
Carter tapped the ashes off the end of his cigarette; they landed in a shallow puddle with a tiny, muffled plop. "You want to try it, don't you?" His voice was deep and smooth like honey, luxuriously contented and sickly sweet. Everything he said sounded musical to Georgina's ears, tempting.
"Yes." On impulse, Georgina opened her mouth and clamped it onto the end of the cigarette, unsure of how to hold it. The way Carter did it made it seem so effortless, but in her own hands, it was a clumsy fumble. She drew in a long breath before sputtering into a coughing fit; the cigarette flew out of her mouth and into the puddle, the ember dying at once.
Carter smirked. "Not so good at it, then." He said nothing more, merely picked up the discarded cigarette and tossed it into the bushes behind him.
Georgina wouldn't quite understand why at the moment, but the way Carter said the words - coldly, almost mockingly - infuriated her to no end. Without thinking, she shot back, "Practice makes perfect, you'll see."
"Oh?" Carter looked down again, a new spark of interest in his eyes. There was a challenge there, and it met Georgina's own defiant blue eyes like a funhouse mirror. "You plan on practicing how to smoke..." It was less of a question and more of a curious statement. Carter cocked his head wondrously. "Your mother won't like that."
In the moment, all Georgina could think to say was, "I don't care what my mother likes," yet almost at once she realized what she'd said and dipped her head in shock.
Carter tipped her chin up with his thumb, forcing Georgina to look up again, meeting his older, sage gaze. Much to her surprise, rather than reprimanding her, he simply smiled and told her, "Good. Fuck them all."
And so Georgina could add to her list of things she learned from Carter: nothing matters.
- - -
During winter break of that same year, when Georgina returned to the Baizen vacation estate due to her mother's unexpected departure to Europe, she rushed upstairs to impart with good news: she'd finally learned - nearly perfected, but not quite - how to hold a cigarette, and she never was forced to cough it onto the ground. It had taken many long nights - when her mother was asleep - in the basement for Georgina to master it, and she was proud to tell this to Carter.
When Georgina flung open the door, she was met with a naked Carter with his head tipped back, the maid on her knees in front of him doing something Georgina could hardly articulate at the time. She released a gasp of astonishment and horror, hands flying up to cover her eyes.
"Shit, Georgina." Carter's voice sounded resigned and half-disappointed, but nevertheless, as Georgina could see from the slight cracks her fingers made, he stood up and pulled on a robe. The maid, seemingly unconcerned, brushed the back of her hand over her mouth and shuffled on out. As soon as she'd seen it, it was gone, and Georgina could only wonder how something so horrifying could seem like it never happened.
"You can open your eyes now," Carter informed her, a hint of mockery in his tone. "I'm mostly decent."
"You're never decent," Georgina replied flippantly, dropping her hands back to her side. "I don't think you've ever been remotely decent since you were a baby." She hopped onto Carter's bed, her legs dangling off the side as she settled herself next to him, staring out the window overlooking the garden once more.
Carter eyed her, impressed. "So other than an appreciation for back-talking and a formidable vocabulary, what else have you learned?" He seemed genuinely interested, his eyes never leaving hers, half-amused and half-curious.
Georgina grinned. "You like it, then? Ms. Sadheim claims I am her top student." In response, she added, "I've learned that my mother is a whore."
"We all knew that." Carter waved off the information with a breezy toss of his hand, smirking.
Georgina rolled her eyes. "I've learned how to hold a cigarette, and to breathe in the smoke without coughing." This she seemed most proud of, batting her eyelashes happily at Carter. "That took the longest. How did you learn it so fast?"
Carter's lips twisted into a dimpled half-smirk, and he flopped down onto his back on the bed, the robe opening to reveal a sliver of exposed skin. "Practice, Georgie. Lots of it." He craned his neck. "Mom and dad aren't home enough to see it, anyway."
"I have a feeling you wouldn't care if they were." Georgina attempted to look anywhere but in the tiny slip of his robe, her eyes struggling to remain on his. She followed him and laid back on the bed as well, staring at the ceiling, tracing intricate patterns into the texture with her eyes. "Would you?"
Carter shook his head. "No." Changing the subject quickly, he asked evasively, "And, what else did you learn?"
Georgina contemplated this for some time. She knew with a grudged sigh that Carter wouldn't care for her petty tales of fourth grade gossip, and that anything she'd done - like ace a spelling test, or learn to read at a higher grade level - would pale in comparison to his experiences and achievements. He wouldn't care for her crush on Nathaniel Archibald, the quiet, solemn-faced kid in her class, or her hatred for Blair Waldorf. Anything she said was childish. Carter was urging her to grow up.
In the end, Georgina turned her head to face Carter, blinking wide blue eyes at him. Finally: "I learned to fuck them all, 'cause none of it really matters now, does it?"
Carter turned his own head, a smirk playing on his features. "No," he answered with a laugh, shaking his head at her. "None of it fucking matters." With that, he sat up and fished in his drawer for something, pulling out a pack of cigarettes. "Want one?"
Georgina grinned. "Yeah. Fuck it all, right?" She took a cigarette from his hand and waited for him to light it for her; he pulled out his lighter and ignited it, watching with amusement as she took in a slow drag. Georgina watched him. "What?" She blew smoke into his face, cleanly enunciating the defensive question.
"Nothing at all." Carter drew in a breath from his own cigarette, and for reasons Georgina couldn't name, they watched each other the entire time, eyes never straying and hands in synchronized movements.
- - -
"Who's this?" The strangers eyed Georgina skeptically, their critical stares forcing her to shrink back into Carter's shadow. As if in a warning sign, he grabbed her hand and laced his fingers tightly through hers, urging her to keep quiet. Georgina glanced up at him, heart thudding in fear, but she listened to his silent request obediently.
Carter faced the two boys steadily. "Georgina Sparks. She's with me." The malice and protectiveness in his voice made Georgina feel just a bit safer, even if she was in a dark territory in a part of the city she never knew existed. It was almost silly how safe she felt with Carter, even though he was only four years older than her.
The two had ended up in an unfamiliar party the following spring after Georgina's previous visit with Carter. As was tradition, she had once more returned to the Baizen estate, only this time Carter was left in charge with only the maid to watch. Now ten years old, she had been decidedly grown up enough, according to Carter, to come with him to "have some fun." However brave she felt, Georgina found herself nervous in an unknown world.
"How old is she?" asked one of the boys, peering down at Georgina. She met his gaze defiantly, straightening her shoulders. Next to her, Carter once more squeezed her hand, this time urging her to speak up.
In a cool, collected tone, Georgina laughed and replied carelessly, "Does it matter?"
Surprised into laughter by her answer, the strangers glanced at Carter and then back at Georgina. "Truer words have never been spoken," remarked the one on the left, shrugging his shoulders. "Nah, fuck it. Come on." Obviously expecting them to follow, the two slipped off into a shadowy corner, through a door Georgina hadn't noticed before.
Carter glanced down at her; Georgina felt a swell of pride at his proud expression. "Come on, then, you heard them." He followed ahead, dragging Georgina behind by her hand. They slithered through the doorway discretely, Georgina's heart thumping wildly and her palm burning.
Pounding music slammed against the walls, muffled into a mere beat. The strangers, presumably Carter's friends, gestured to a table in the back. "Have at it. You owe me, man," one of them jeered, swallowing down a tiny white pill.
Georgina blinked up at Carter, but he seemed not to notice. He let go of her hand, leaving her suddenly exposed and naked, and made his way over to the table. In the dim light, it was hard to see it, but Georgina could make out thin white lines of power on the oak, and she swallowed. Cocaine. She was young, but not innocent and stupid, and many nights she'd seen her own mother come home from a binge.
Even though Georgina knew she was safe - for she was always courageous when Carter was near - she couldn't help a pang of fear. Pushing it away firmly, she followed Carter to the table, where he was sniffling repeatedly, his eyes blinking rapidly. "Georgina?" He gestured to the table.
Fuck it all.
Georgina met his gaze determinedly and did as he did, leaning down to snort the substance. Eyes watering, she withdrew after a small dosage, staring up at Carter. For a moment, she wondered if this was truly what it was like to be grown up, to know things others didn't and feel things most wouldn't. She was in the fifth grade and knew adventures her teachers would balk at, and her mother was none the wiser. Power and freedom surged through her. It was as if Carter knew only how to be free, and nothing else.
It had taken several minutes for Georgina to feel the effects of the drug; sudden bursts of energy flew through her bloodstream, sending the hairs on the back of her neck straight on end. Yes, Carter knew how to be free; he knew it, and he taught her what the world was like when you're without chains.
In a sudden impulse - whether it be from the cocaine or from the revelation - Georgina met Carter's wild gaze and pulled him down for a kiss, both hands encircled around his neck and her legs wrapped tightly around his waist. Fervently, he kissed her back, losing his hands into her tangled mass of brown hair.
Only in this world, Georgina thought in a lucid moment, would she ever be this free with Carter Baizen.
- - -
"Happy birthday, Georgie."
When Georgina's mother decided to permanently place her in the care of the Baizens, she had been indifferent to the idea, for she spent so much of her life with them, anyways, that it seemed almost silly to care. It only meant more time to learn from Carter, more time to feel truly free. It meant they would attend the same school (when she was old enough) and she could grow up faster than ever.
It also meant she had a birthday in the middle of October that no one would celebrate. At home, she would have an extravagant feast, only the best food and dining. Her mother would lavish her with gifts and she would spend the day wondering which present to play with. It was always very special.
At the Baizens, she was alone with Carter and a small bag of pills, leaned back on the bedspread. Carter stood at the foot of his bed, smoking a cigarette. Although it was quite so special, it wasn't unnoticed, either.
Georgina looked up in surprise. "You remembered?" She grinned, sitting up at once to meet his gaze. "I was sure you'd forget, being you and all."
Carter snorted indignantly, stubbing his cigarette out on the table. He managed a bark of laughter and tossed the pills onto the bed, settling next to her to gaze up at the ceiling. "I'm not that bad, am I?" The question was almost rhetorical. "Of course I'd remember your birthday. Sorry we couldn't do anything. Not really a birthday-doing family."
"I don't mind," Georgina sighed, following his gaze to find patterns in the ceiling. "At least you remembered." Truthfully, she'd expected much less from Carter, feeling as if she wasn't really important enough to keep in mind. To him, it was as if she was still only a little kid, too young to understand the things he did and yet old enough to follow him into crazy parties in the darkest times of the night. It was an endless cycle.
To test the theory, Georgina rolled over onto her stomach, face inches from Carter's, who stared at her quizzically. She knew before she tried anything that he'd push her away, blaming the night many months ago on drugs and an unwillingness to pull away. Georgina shook off the thoughts and leaned in to kiss him, pressing a feather-soft peck to his lips and then reaching for another.
Carter grunted, twisting away right on cue. "Come on, Georgie," he sighed, almost pleading with her. "You know it's not like that." Even as he said it, Georgina could hear the torment in his voice.
"Why not?" Georgina demanded haughtily, willing him to turn back and look at her. "It was like that that one night in March, wasn't it?" Almost desperately, she wriggled towards Carter, tired of being treated like a petty child.
Carter finally looked back, sparingly. "We were high and you mauled me first." Carter blinked at her. "You're still a little kid, Georgie."
Determinedly, Georgina grabbed the bag of pills before Carter could, fishing inside for two and popping one, all the while meeting his bewildered gaze. She held out the other to Carter, who took it gingerly and swallowed, still watching, wondering.
Georgina rolled on top of him, leaning down. "We're high, and you have an excuse to do something," she urged, tired and angry at being treated like a child. She was not a child, hadn't been for the many years she spent with Carter. He'd aged her beyond her years.
Carter blinked once, a half-smirk toying the edges of his lips. "You're a bitch, you know that? That's what I like about you."
Georgina opened her mouth to reply, but before any words could tumble out, Carter kissed her, and they were in a sudden tangled mess on the bedspread, buttons springing in different directions and clothes falling, ignored and forgotten.
As Carter pressed his hands into her skin, firmly and gently all at once, Georgina understood the skill in his touch; it came from practice, as he once told her. They were the hands of someone who had sex very often, and for reasons Georgina could barely articulate, she felt a hint of jealousy as she imagined him with other girls, even if he was never hers to begin with.
"Happy birthday, Georgie," Carter said into her warm flesh.