By the time Cooper gets home, Charlotte is already in bed, reading. She hears the garage door open and close, and sighs, doubling her focus on her book. She's not sure what kind of mood he's in, so she figures it's safer to let him come to her. He doesn't right away, though.
In fact, she makes it through another half of a chapter before she hears, "What was his name?"
Charlotte looks up from her book, and frowns. "What?"
"Your husband. What was his name?"
He's still simmering, standing just inside the bedroom door, and Charlotte looks away, back down at her book. "I'm not discussin' this with you if you're still mad." And she's not having this argument with him while her brother's sacked out just down the hall, within hollering range.
Cooper lets out an irritated sigh, and stalks to the bed. He parks his butt on the edge, and the mattress jostles slightly. And then he reaches out, catches her unprepared and plucks the book from her fingers, haphazardly folding the edge of the page over as he shuts it and drops it unceremoniously onto the nightstand. Charlotte raises her chin, glares sharply at him, and says, "I was readin' that." She's silently grateful - and slightly bewildered - that he at least bothered to mark her page.
"I want to talk to you."
"Funny, because it sounds like you wanna fight with me."
She watches him suck in a breath, and let it out slowly. Visibly trying to rein himself in. "How about now?" he asks her, and while he sounds calmer, she doesn't buy it. Or, at the very least, he's not the kind of calm she needs him to be for this particular conversation.
But then she hears Pete in her head, advising her to just tell Cooper what she needs now and then and maybe she'll get it. She hears Duke telling her to just come out with all of it, and maybe it'll help. So she makes a decision.
"His name was Billy," she concedes. "And I don't want to talk about him tonight." Cooper lets out another frustrated sigh, and she raises a hand to hold him off. "Hear me out. My marriage fallin' apart led to a particularly... dark time in my life, and I don't like to talk about it. But I will. Just not tonight."
He rolls his eyes. "You sure you're not going to tell me that every night for the rest of-"
"I'm sure," she cuts him off with a slow nod of her head. "I'm not. But if we talk about Billy, we're gonna end up talkin' about what happened after Billy, and I can't do that if you're mad at me."
"I'm not -"
"Cooper," she chides. "You are. And not just about this. You're pissed about Annie Bishop, and you're pissed about Billy, and I can't have this conversation if you already think I'm awful. I need to know you're not gonna..." She trails off, shakes her head slightly. She doesn't even know how to talk about talking about this; she has no idea how she's going to actually have this conversation when it happens. But now she's roped herself into it, so she tells him, "But I promise - I promise - we can talk about all of it. When we've had some time to cool down."
"I'm holding you to that," he tells her.
"I wouldn't expect anything less."
And then they're stuck there. Him staring at her, her staring back at him. He's trying his damnedest not to look as angry as he is; she's hoping he can see she means it when she says she'll give him what he wants, just not yet. It's a painful, awkward, tense stalemate, and when Cooper finally breaks it, it doesn't make things any better: "Annie deserves to live the life she wants. She's already been through so much, and-"
"Cooper, it's done," Charlotte sighs, weary now. She can't go another round about Annie Bishop. "My hands are tied now; it's done. Please, stop tryin' to convince me to change somethin' that's already happened."
He turns his head, wrings his hands together, and shuts up. He's still miserable about everything; she can see it in the hunch of his shoulders, the tension in his arms, the way his jaw clenches. And there's nothing she can do tonight to fix anything that's weighing on him. Not really.
They lapse into silence again for a few torturous moments, and it's maddening. She can't take it anymore. They can't talk to each other, but this terse silence isn't the answer either, so she suggests something else: "You wanna talk to the baby?"
He'd been brooding in the general direction of the floor for about thirty seconds or so, but he looks up at her now, and the corner of his mouth lifts into something that's almost reminiscent of a smirk. Progress. "I thought you said she can't hear me yet."
Charlotte lifts a shoulder, lets it fall, and smiles at him. "Maybe she's special."
"Do you think that having me talk to the baby will make me forget that I'm-"
"I think it'll make you feel better," she tells him, interrupting because she has no interest in another verbal reminder of how much bad blood she's stirred up between them. "And I want you to feel better. So if you wanna talk to her, or…" she trails off, shrugs her shoulders, and offers, "Whatever you want. My belly's all yours."
His answer is to crawl over her and stretch out crosswise on the bed, tugging the covers down until they bunch at the top of her thighs and settling his head there so he's face-to-face with her round belly. He slides her shirt up, and Charlotte nudges his hand away, lifts the hem herself and settles it just below her breasts. She folds her hands there to hold the shirt in place, then shuts her eyes, tips her head back, settles her shoulders more comfortably into the pillows propped behind her. This isn't about her, she tells herself. This is about peacemaking, and she hasn't been great for his peace of mind the last few days, so she's going to sit here, and breathe, and let him get as close to his daughter as he can manage without Charlotte getting in the way. No snarky comments, no squirming, none of it.
He shifts in closer, until his nose is brushing her skin, and starts to murmur softly to the baby. He says hello, says he loves her, that he can't wait to meet her, that she needs to hurry it up already with the growing so that he can feel her kicks, so she can hear his voice. He says he can't wait until their next appointment, until he can hear her heartbeat again, and get another good look at her. When he kindly requests that she just give that pesky placenta a good nudge out of the way, Charlotte can't help but smirk. If only.
Cooper talks to Harper, and Charlotte lets his voice lull her, staring at the back of her eyelids, until she feels like she's floating. Like her body is somewhere else, and all she can focus on is her breath, and his voice, and then nothing at all as she slips effortlessly into sleep.