Oct. 17th, 2011


The next day found Charlie sitting by herself at the desk in the shed with a book of animal anatomy that she was supposed to be reviewing in line with Doc's medical notes. But, like most things that sat at that desk, they went unnoticed as her head invariably found itself on her hands, eyes staring unfocused through the window.

Without meaning to, her mind drifted over Burbank, and the two bedroom ranch house, and the little room in the attic.

If nothing else, that was the one thing she truly regretted leaving- the one thing she couldn't take with her. She loved that room, and the closeness of it, and the way the wind rattled in the rafters during storms. At one point, she wanted to move her bed in there to make that her official bedroom, but there was no way she could maneuver a mattress, let alone any other sort of furniture, up the pull-down stairs and through the small space reserved for people and rats. But she still spent most of her time up there, reading and thinking and dreaming. Dreaming of what living a different life would be like.

Well, her life in New Hope was certainly different. Her apartment in Forest Creek had nothing on the house in Burbank, let alone her mother's penthouse in LA. Charlie loved her job, but it felt a little unusual to be in the middle of November and not studying for a midterm. Of course she had gotten her GED before she left, but breaking a habit after 10 years of practice was still a little new. No more family to live with, no more father to take care of. Yes, it was different.

But, at the same time, this was the first time she had only herself to worry about- no one else. The freedom of this was too new to become normal just yet, so she still reveled in it. And the half-dozen or so of cats that roomed with her weren't family, but as far as she was concerned, that was a good thing. Family, to her, meant people demanding all of her attention and energy and concern, and giving very very little in return. Not that the cats really gave much of any of these things back, but at least they left her treats of dead mice and birds. In their own way, they were showing their appreciation.

Charlie heard a crash and a muffled curse from across the parking lot. Doc's office was always a mess- it was probably another stack of papers and books that fell to the floor. Again, she figured, smiling to herself.

And, probably the most important difference between her three lives...

Her life now didn't feel empty.

There were people in it. People that didn't demand so much of herself that there was hardly anything left. People that gave generously of themselves. So much so that rather than feeling empty, she felt full and happy.

Like Doc. He was grumpy, grouchy and stubborn, but she had seen harsh and uncaring enough to know that he was actually very gentle and thoughtful, wearing his grumpiness like armor to keep people from seeing the softness underneath. He worried about her, probably more than any employer rightfully should over any employee, but it felt nice, and she only gave token complaints. He also understood her fascination about his work, and after putting up a front of irritation, was happy to show her and teach her what he knew.

Speaking of teaching... Charlie looked down at the discarded book in front of her. Its pages looked back, disapproving of her lack of dedication to its words. In a minute. I'm on a roll now.

Let's see, who else was there? There was Dayle and Tanya, of course, charming people that she liked to spend time with occasionally. People that made her feel like a 17-year-old girl for once, and take enjoyment from things like going to the mall, eating junk food, and scoping out boys. Not that she ever payed much attention to the latter activity, of course. Not when there was her attractive and friendly co-worker to think about.

Royce. She remembered yesterday, suddenly crystal clear. She told him that she liked him. He didn't run and he didn't laugh. He kissed her. He liked her. The possibilities to come from this simple truth made her head spin in wonderfully dizzying ways. Royce made her feel happy in a way she hadn't expected, let alone imagined. He was a little quiet and a little shy, but opened up to become warm and radiant with just a small smile. Friendly, protective and caring, he had unwittingly become her knight, embodying everything she had left California to find. Simple happiness, satisfaction, and a feeling of being cared for.

He doesn't know it, but... I owe him a lot, she realized. Just for... for being there.

And, of course, the only way she knew to accomplish this was to cook. Besides drawing, there wasn't much else she could do. And with a comfortable amount of money in her savings, she figured she could splurge for the occasion. Pork? Pork chops? No, Royce will eat a lot more than I can afford, so it has to be something filling. Potatoes. Those are filling. A stew? A stew with pork. Or lamb, if I can find it on sale. Stew doesn't need a whole lot of meat. And I can make something for dessert, too. Cupcakes? Brownies? No, those are too ordinary. What else can I make? Cakes, pies, donuts, tarts. What about donuts? Little ones, filled with jam or cream or something. Topped in chocolate? I can do that. They don't take a lot of stuff to make, and if I make tons, he and Rosemary can take some home and I'll actually have a few for myself. Will that work, then? Stew, donuts... I'll get some of that nice bread, too. Sourdough or french or one of those. Those aren't very expensive. Is that all good? Sounds like it is...

There was pleasure in planning meals, something she's always enjoyed, but it's especially fun knowing you're feeding two people who express their gratitude by shoveling the food down their throats as fast as possible.

Still, happy that she had a plan, happy that she had Royce and Rosemary to enjoy it, and just happy in general, she finally pulled the book closer and lowered her head to read.

Oct. 13th, 2011


Charlie woke up the next morning groggy and grumpy. Her comforter lay on the floor next to her pillows where she had kicked them off last night, and as her feet swung around, they had to dig through the layer the materials had made in order to find the floor. It felt stuffy in her room, despite the chill she knew would be waiting for her outside, and glanced back at the bed, half-tempted to bury herself back in them.

Nah, Royce doesn't work today, so I guess I have to come in.

The prepping before a work day was, as usual, blissfully short. Working among animals and all the sounds and smells and other unpleasant things they made meant that her normal uniform consisted of $.99 shirts and the one pair of grubby jeans she owned. And now that she was beginning to make a habit of cooking for more than herself (and she learned her lesson this time), breakfast was as easy as taking a slice of meatloaf from the fridge and popping it in the microwave with two slices of bread going in the toaster. With some ketchup and cheese, she had a sandwich, and less than five minutes later, she was locking her door and walking toward town.

Biting into the meatloaf reminded her of dinner the night before- uneventful, for the most part. Royce still had his mind on Crowne, even as he was shoveling food into his mouth as fast as he could. Almost as soon as he and Rosemary finished eating, they both said thank you (well, Royce did for both of them), and were off to patrol again. Not that she felt it was really necessary anymore- she wasn't scared anymore. Her conversation with Rosemary had neatly distracted her from any thoughts of stalkers.

That was it Charlie thought triumphantly. That was why I couldn't sleep last night. I was talking about Madeline, and I kept thinking about it throughout dinner and up to when I went to bed. Perhaps it was a good thing after all that Royce had been so preoccupied. The last thing she needed was more questions.

A pause at the traffic light, crossing of the street and down three doors had Charlie at the clinic with minutes to spare before the place officially opened. Taped to the door was a note in Doc's scribbly writing: "Making a house call at the Fitzgibbons Farm on Winchester Ave. Should be back by noon. Stay out of trouble." No signature, but none was necessary. Charlie rolled her eyes at the last comment, but pulled the note off the glass and unlocked the door.

Neither Doc or Royce around, with the office to herself?

Sounded like the start of a rather peaceful day.

Oct. 12th, 2011


She had long ago stopped caring about Alex. At some point, dating a vampire lost its appeal. Especially when said vampire never aged. Never changed. Never grew hair. Maybe she'd like a little stubble. Just a little for a week. Of course, that was petty for a deal breaker. Things had been much more than that. Alex had a thing about not ever clarifying them as an official couple. Or unofficial either. He had been all about the sweet nothings in her ear but like every other guy on the planet, he had a problem with commitment.

And a problem with the fact that she was a werewolf. They weren't supposed to play in the same kiddy pool. That had been a big part of the appeal when they first met and a big part of why they stopped seeing each other. It hadn't been like they even been 'dating' (not dating, whatever Alex wanted to call it) for very long. In comparison, celebrity relationships had last longer.

Okay, that was an exaggeration. The point she was trying to make here was that Alex hadn't been life-or-death important to her or anything. They had a thing. Now they didn't. Maybe she cried afterwards and maybe there were some things that she was still holding onto but really, she was over that old bag. She gladly would have forgotten about the vampire, pretended she had never met him but Royce had a uncharacteristically violent different solution.

Wanting to kill someone and actually doing it were two so different things. It was the difference between Royce and Alex. When it came down to it, Rosey knew that her brother would always defend her but it wasn't in him to be a killer. Not in her either. As boast she might about being tough, taking a life was too big. Rage could carry them so far but Royce had always been able to see the line and keep clear of it. It was a solid, safe quality that she had always admired in her friend. She could see the line. Sometimes, she wanted to see how close she could get to it. She never planned on actually crossing it but when one flirts with fire, one gets burned. Then, Mr. Burned will follow ones all over the country.

Speaking of which, she could smell Charlie's cooking from across the apartment complex. Royce had sent her head, determined to scope out the area for Alex first. Ever since finding out that the vampire had found them in New Hope, Royce had been exceptionally paranoid. He had kept up appearances in front of Charlie, not wanting to (what was the word she used?) spook her further but he was an open book to Rosemary.

She lifted her nose up, the smell of town heavy on the downwind. It was taco day somewhere. Damn, she was salivating at the thought of mexican food. Then again, she was sure that Charlie would whip up something spectacular and scrumptious. The little blonde walked from the manager's office (they had to pay rent) and back over to Charlie's apartment where the smell of food grew stronger and stronger. Hopping the stairs three at a time, she was at Charlie's door in record time. She didn't bother tucking in her tie-dye shirt or straighten out her hair. The fact that she was dressed and showered was enough. Who the hell was she trying to impress? Royce was the one trying to get all Disney with this girl.

Charlie was nice. Maybe nice enough for Royce. Probably nice enough. But nice wouldn't cut it down the road when Charlie would find out what they were. Humans didn't take well to the supernatural. It was too bad. Charlie was a good cook. Make a nice housewife for Royce. And perfect cook for Rosemary too.

'Cause if there was one thing Rosemary never did for herself, it was cook.

Rappa rappa rappa! went her knuckles against Charlie's front door.

Oct. 5th, 2011


It was late in the afternoon when they woke up. The dinner Charlie had cooked up had more than filled them up and then the hunt afterwards put them over the edge of blissful fullness. They had barely been able to crawl through their back window without falling asleep. As it was, they ended up sleeping on the floor where they landed. It took the setting warm sun to wake them up and by then, it was time to go see Charlie again at the clinic for a walk home. He took a quick shower but Rosey couldn't be bothered to even move until the minute he was walking out the door and only then did she bother opening her eyes. Not that it mattered much since she was going in her wolf form. He thought she could use another bath but he thought he'd bring that up at another time.

The walk to the clinic took some time so they took a short-cut through one of the over-grown fields. "I'm still full." Royce groaned. But he did it with a smile and a lazy stretch of his arms. Rosey barked in agreement behind him. Wait, behind him? He turned and looked over his shoulder for her. Catching the sight of a tan shaggy rump sticking out of the weeds, he raised an eyebrow and stopped. "Rosey, what are you doing?"

The rump sank down out of sight and a small wolf-head popped up instead. Her head turned toward him and he laughed at her mouth full of dandelions. What on earth? He was still laughing as she hopped back over to the semi-path that went through the field. "Oh, you shouldn't have, Rosey." Royce held out his hand to take the flowers but then frowned when she turned her head and bounded ahead.

They're not for you, duh!

"What?" He stood there, frozen for a moment. Was she really picking flowers for Charlie? This looked promising. Rosey had never actually had a girl who was a friend. Wouldn't that be interesting? The two of them becoming friends? Having girl talks and giggling through all hours of the night? Better Charlie than him. He was done with debates on whether boxers or panties were more comfortable.

Seriously. Done. As much as Rosey did her best to be one of the guys, there was no hiding that she was totally one of the girls. And Charlie was a girl so it all worked out.

When they got to the clinic, Royce walked in casually, head and spirits high. "Hello, Charlie?" He called out for her, not remembering to keep the door open for Rosey until he heard her slam into it. "Woops, sorry, Rosey." He apologized quietly as he went to open the door for her again. She glared at him over her squished dandelions but walked in quickly, lest he forget again and shut the door on her tail.

Jan. 31st, 2011


Jul. 5th, 2009


Rub dub, put the wolfie in the tub... )