Title: Confession & Plea
Word Count: 1,896
Summary: After a year of intermittent dating, Charlie and Janine find themselves at a crossroads.
Links: DW | AO3
This is how you kick off a shiny brand new year: with OTP fic! ♥
First, a confession: I've actually had a draft of this fic sitting on my computer for just over a year. I never got around to posting it in 2016, for varying reasons but mostly because I was so damn busy. Given what a completely shit year it turned out to be, it's just as well.
fandom_stocking usually awakens my Charlie/Janine muse (and, indeed, it did again this year) and I happily fell back into this universe. I dusted off the fic, tweaked a couple of points, and decided that I was going to post it up to start off my 2017. I put it up just after midnight this morning on AO3, and have already received a comment (woohoo!) and kudos.
If we're destined to do whatever we end up doing on New Year's during the rest of the year, then it's going to be a good year indeed :D
Onto this installment - this is an expansion of the cut scene from Cavorting with the Enemy. It was a rare piece that came whole cloth in a burst of inspiration. I just had to get inside Charlie's head to find out what drove him to the confession that shocked Janine to her core, and quite literally drove her away from him. I think it's pretty realistic - I've always thought that Charlie would be the driving force when it came to moving their relationship forward. He's more in touch with his emotions and has a greater need to build his own family, considering the turmoil of his childhood. I think Janine is more career-oriented and focused on academic accomplishments - I can pretty much only see her pursuing academia as an adult, and being quite successful at it.
She doesn't have as much relationship experience as he does (although in canon their differences in dating experiences isn't that wide - we hear more about Charlie's dating exploits, but Janine did have a long and rather complicated relationship with Jerry Michaels, let's not forget), and sometimes that blinds her to what's going on between them. Part of it is fear of the unknown (as is explored more in Cavorting) but part of it is just plain inexperience. No one has ever pursued her, and for such a long time. It's hard to know what's happening the first time it happens, no matter what romance novels tell us :D
So, Charlie finally confronts Janine with his feelings - both verbally and physically. He puts all of his cards on the table, and pleads with her not to end anything, and not to let things stay as they are, just sort of hanging between them. The ending of this fic is one of my favorites. Nasty cliffhanger, perhaps, but hopefully softened by having the next installment already available.
So he's pushing their relationship forward, but he isn't willing to bulldoze her, or force her hand. He doesn't mean to scare her, but that volatile mix of emotions and hormones and the sense that time is running out can add a certain edge of desperation. It's up to her to decide how she wants to take this, whether it's forward or backward or just not at all.
I've written most of the installments so far from Janine's POV, and it was important, I think, to see where Charlie stood in the midst of all this. So much of this series is about how Janine grows and changes as this relationship moves forward, but her development is intricately tied to his. It's always nice to have a bit of balance.
I also thought it was important to introduce the sexual aspect of this relationship. (Charlie's a teenage boy, even here - it's *going* to surface at some point, haha.) His desire to have sex with her is intricately linked to his desire for exclusivity. I can totally see him having multiple partners during his dating years, but I also see him as a serial monogamist. He places a great deal of value on loyalty, which stems from his fear of being like his father.
Is Janine ready to take that step? Honestly, I don't know. They made a bet at the end of Cavorting that has a somewhat sexual connotation - and though I have already sketched out how the circumstances they're betting on play out, I haven't yet decided what happens after that. Sometimes it's nice to just let the muse take the wheel =)
I certainly hope this isn't the last time I visit this particular series this year, but I have learned better than to make promises that time and circumstance force me to break. Considering my fandom_stocking pieces with these two are leading me into a completely different, separate universe from this one, I definitely forsee myself spending a lot of time with these characters, in one iteration or another :D