Timeline Note: Sorry for the delay; it was my busiest time of the year at work and I had no computer time. We're still in the therapy episode-Charlotte's take, this time. Enjoy!

Part 12

There are charts in front of her. A healthy, hefty pile of charts, some from the hospital and some from her consults here. This is good, she's good with charts, she is a god-damned chart machine, and it's something to do besides sit here staring at that ring, isn't it?

She picks up a chart, then another one. Feels herself settling down again. Last night was good, she reminds herself. A little pizza, a little wine, a little fun...then today, it all went to hell with that sucker punch that he brought her into 'therapy' just so he could spring on her, and now what's she supposed to think?

No, she tells herself. Don't think. Just read the charts and sign your name on them...

"Charlotte?"

It's Cooper. She keeps her cool, that's something. Tells him all she needs is time to process. But as soon as he's gone again, her blood boils up and she flings a glass into the bookcase.

She breathes for a minute, willing herself to calm back down, and then she hears a gentle knock.

"Hey, Charlotte."

"Violet."

"Can I come in for a second?"

She shrugs, picks up a chart again. Sees Violet do a double-take, but sit anyway, saying nothing about it. A second later, she starts talking.

"So, can I ask how you're feeling right now?"

"Ah. You know."

"Yeah, he told me. After he told you, I might add."

"And what did you think about it?"

"I think he shouldn't have told you."

"Well, I think he shouldn't have done it!"

"Yeah. But I think that telling you the way he did was maybe not the smartest move he's made, and as a therapist -okay, not yours, but even so- as a therapist, and as your co-worker and as someone who's seen you deal with some of this, I was wondering how you were feeling."

"Like I want to throw something?"

Violet arches an eye, nods at the mess in the corner. "Uh huh. Sounds like that ship's already kinda sailed..."

She puts the chart down, sighs. "Violet, what do you want from me?"

"Same thing I've always wanted. For you to understand that asking for help sometimes does not make you an inferior person."

"I've asked for help. We've talked some."

"We have. But not about this."

"Do we have to? I mean, this is kinda separate from the...the...geez, asking once doesn't mean I have to talk about everything, does it?"

"Well, no. But it's certainly a healthier coping strategy than flinging things at the wall whenever you get pissed."

"I'm not pissed."

"Sure you are. And it's okay to say that, you know. Go on. Try."

"Violet..."

"Say it. You're pissed, and you deserve to be. He done you wrong."

"Violet, shut UP!"

"Well than, tell me something. If you're not pissed, what are you right now?"

"I'm thinking that this'll teach me to let people in! Damn it!"

Violet leans back in her chair, a little smirky. "There. Good girl. Wrong, but good for you for saying it. Now, let's break this down a little."

"I'm not your patient, Violet."

"Yeah, yeah, I know, and you don't really like me. You know, that actually makes it easier? For me, anyway. It's the damnedest thing, and I certainly can't explain it, but I feel like I'm your friend. And you not really liking me actually makes that kinda easier for me. Isn't that strange?"

"Violet..."

"Maybe it's because I know that since you don't really care about my feelings, you have no compunctions at all at being totally honest. I suppose the therapist in me finds that really reassuring. And since I know that we'll never spend any time together outside of work, I can be honest too without it being all socially awkward later..."

"Violet, has anybody ever told you that you think too much?"

"Yes."

"And that you TALK too much..."

"That too. So anyway, about you and Cooper..."

"I'm processing. He told me, now he needs to let it lie."

"Okay. And while he's letting it lie, what will you be doing?"

"Um...fuming?"

"No."

"Beating Amelia Shepherd to a bloody pulp for betraying me?"

"Well, you have no idea whether she did, so..."

"What, than?"

"I want you to picture two scenarios in your head. In the first scenario, you don't forgive him. What would that look like?"

She feels her eyes inexplicably welling up. "I don't want to think about that right now."

"All right. In the second scenario, you do forgive him. You have one good talk, and then you let it go, and you forgive him. Then what happens?"

"Well...then we move to the next step, I guess. We start getting back to our lives. Planning a future. A wedding, maybe. Hell, I'm already wearing the ring..."

"Ah. Is that a tiny little smile I see?"

"Eff off, Violet."

"That's my girl. Okay, so, you good? Did that clarify things?"

"I already said I don't feel like talking."

"I know you did. Okay." She gets up to leave. "Just shout if you need me."

"Violet?"

"Hmm?"

"You didn't write about it. In the book, I mean. You wrote about a lot of other crap I didn't like. But not...not the rape."

"Yeah. And that wasn't even an almost for me, just so you know. I never, ever would want to violate you again, Charlotte. I hope that nothing I've said has done that."

"No. And...thank you."

"You're welcome. Just think about it, will you? Run it in your head before you run anything through your mouth and just work it through. You'll be okay."

But she's back to her charts already. It's like Violet said. It's easier, when you don't have to try so hard.


Later, she can't stop thinking about it. Run it through in your head, Violet told her. Not a bad idea. You can run it through in your head and get some of it worked out without needing to deal with any of the other people. She plots it out as she goes to the therapist's office to meet Cooper, still spinning a little from her confrontation with Amelia. By the time she gets there, her mind back in its own safe little world, running the script. And she says it through, just like she's still in her head, and she doesn't really come back again until she feels him clasp her hand.

"I told you we were good," he's saying to the therapist as he wraps his hand around hers. And she can feel the relief, in him, in herself, and she sniffles back tears and rests her head on his cheek.

"Can we just sit for a minute?" she asks.

"Of course," the therapist says. "Take as long as you need." And she leaves them.

Cooper waits until they're alone, then rubs his finger along her cheek, brushing away the wetness.

"It's okay," he says. "You can cry if you want to."

"I don't want to cry," she says. "I want to be happy and have a nice life."

"So, we're doing that. We're together, and we're good, and I love you, and..."

"It's funny," she says. "I never used to need hearing that so much."

"Well, I'm happy to say it, because it's true. I love you."

"Coop, I love you too. Can we just...go out somewhere, tonight? Somewhere with wine and dancing, and lights..."

"Anything for you, my dear."

"And you need to kiss me."

"Okay."

"And we'll order something fancy that we never get, and we'll share it."

"Okay."

"And desert. With chocolate."

"Absolutely."

"Because you loooove me."

He pulls her close again. "Damn right I do. And don't you forget it."