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The Healing Power of Coffee

Guest Skykat

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In line with the new rules for fanfics we'd appreciate it if you'd take 5 minutes to fill out the following form:

Story Title: Give it a name, any name we can edit it later

Story description: main characters

Type of story: long fic/ short fic

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Thanks, the Librarians.

Okay. The Meeting is a one-shot I wrote a few months back after a request by Tainted Muse for a Peter/Kit fic. When I wrote it I considered writing it as a series of one-shots and I've had this in my head for a while. I was intending to post them all in the same thread but as it's taken me so long to write this and The Meeting has fallen so far back I'm just putting this in a thread of it's own. It is a one-shot and therefore it's not necessary to read the Meeting but you might want to so the link is provided above.

A HUGE thank you to jackandmartha!!! for proof reading this and for really pushing me to challenge myself. Hope everybody enjoys.

The Healing Power of Coffee

“We made good progress today Peter. Same time next week?”

“Sure,” Peter replied, standing up and shutting the door behind him.

Great. Yet another week of this Doctor Hanson, the renowned therapist poking and prying into his brain with question after question. He never gave answers, just more questions. Peter suddenly felt a wave of sympathy for the people he arrested and interrogated, he now knew how they felt.

He looked around the cold, sterile room. The lime green walls, comfortable sofas and various, assorted pot plants were assumedly somebody’s feeble attempt to make the place seem homely. The effect however was the opposite. It was overbearing, suffocating, as if the walls were closing in around him.

People sat on the Doctor’s surgery style sofas, a lurid shade of green, which created the exact opposite ambience to the one he assumed the person responsible had intended.

Great, now he was analysing the soft furnishings of the room, using words reminiscent of Amanda when she was trying to impress.

Amanda. Why was he suddenly thinking of her? The woman had caused nothing but trouble for all of them, Dan, Drew, himself. She was the last person he needed to think about, the one person he needed to clear from his mind.

So why couldn’t he dismiss her from his brain?

Maybe because, stood in this waiting room with all these people either watching him intently or hiding their faces, he felt as if he was stood naked in front of them. As if he was laid bare for them all to see, as if his normal barriers had been broken down. Just the same as he always felt around Amanda.

He shook his head angrily as if the physical movement might somehow dislodge the thought from his brain. This was only his second therapy session and it certainly hadn’t got any easier. He still felt the same sick feeling in the pit of his stomach that he had had after the last session, the same thoughts still tormented him.

More than anything he wanted some pills. He wanted to block out the thoughts. Lose himself in oblivion. Feel good again. It would be so easy, all he had to do was pick up the phone and order a supply. He knew the number by heart, knew it wouldn’t be difficult. One simple phone call. Easy as that and he’d feel good again.

He needed fresh air, needed to escape the stuffiness of the room. Briskly he made his way across the foyer and out of the door. The air hit him like a slap on the face and he shut his eyes taking in a deep breath to calm himself. But the fume filled air was hardly fresh, hardly relaxing.

Peter hated the City, the noise, the bustle, the smell. He was more of a small-time guy. A small-time cop. Now that sounded like something his mother would say. Peter grimaced and looked around him. His eyes lighted on the pub across the road. The sign clanking against the wall, like the death tolls on a church clock. The bright lights and obvious warmth that radiated from it. He could almost imagine the heat, the suffocating atmosphere. The smell of ale.

Thoughts of the pub automatically bought back memories of this time last week after his first session. This time last week he had been holding his phone against his ear, he had been making the call, talking to his supplier, but she had stopped him. Well more that her actions had. At the time he had thought she was trying to kill herself, racing into the road in front of the car without looking. His police training had instinctively led him to pull her back, to save her. He had screamed at her and she had screamed back.

Her eyes had held the same haunted look as his as she cuttingly put him straight. One glance across the road had been enough explanation. He had known enough about her past to know that drink was to Kit Hunter what pills were to Peter Baker.

She had her sessions at the same time as him, on the same day, on a weekly basis just the same as him and somehow he instinctively knew that if he looked up he’d see her stood there.

And there she was. In the same place, her eyes fixated on the very thing he too had just been looking at. Her face set in determination. He moved closer to her, drawn to her like she was to the Pub she was watching so intently.

“Not thinking of running in front of a car again are you?” he teased. She didn’t flinch but she didn’t turn either.

“Would you save me again if I were?” He couldn’t tell if she was joking or serious and he wasn’t at all sure what to reply.

“Good session?” He asked, changing the subject but not entirely sure why he was asking her, except that he felt the need to ask something.

It was a stupid question though, what exactly was a good session? Doctor Hanson had said he had just had a good session but Peter didn’t feel it, Peter felt that the Doc had asked a ton of questions and Peter had answered but he didn’t think the Doc had given him any advice. He didn’t feel like he understood things better, he didn’t have that blinding moment of clarity that feeling of the weight leaving his shoulders. And that was a good session?

“As they go.” She replied, her answer summing up his thoughts. “You?”

“As they go.” She seemed to be in closer physical proximity to him now but whether either of them had moved or it was just in his head he couldn’t say, although, he could feel the heat radiating from her body. He could see not just her hands but her whole body shaking. He was close enough to see that she had no colour at all in her cheeks and black circles under her eyes.

“Fancy a drink?” The sudden interruption her voice provided to his thoughts took him by surprise; he had been so busy analysing her that it took a second for him to register just what she was asking him. The tone of her voice seemed to carry so much emotion yet at the same time no emotion at all and he looked at her, half-thinking she was joking, half-knowing she wasn’t.

“Sure, it’ll help wash down the prescription pills,” he retorted dryly, not entirely sure whether he was joking or not. She managed to smile at him.

“Now that sounds like a good combination.” The grin she flashed him was mischievous, the smile genuine, but it didn’t reach her eyes. They still held that haunted look. He couldn’t help wonder if he looked as haunted as her, God he hoped not.

“Or we could just go get a coffee?” he suggested.

“I prefer your first suggestion.” She grinned again and stuck her bottom lip out ever so slightly. For a second Peter was so tempted to agree with her, to go along with her. It would be so easy but the face of a seventeen year old flashed into his mind. A seventeen year old who didn’t know his Dad, a seventeen year old who wanted to know his Dad. His son. Peter wanted to be clean for him.

He owed him that much.

“I have to pick Drew up in a little while,” he explained.

“Families huh? They’re the ones who screw your life up and they’re also the reason you have to get back on track.” She paused momentarily. “Coffee it is then.”

Peter did not speak to her as they walked nor she to him. She looked a million miles away, lost in her own world, battling her private demons. He wondered if like him, she was reliving the counselling session.

“And how do you feel towards Dan?"

“I love him, he’s my brother. It’s not his fault my parents preferred him.”

“And whose fault is it?”

“Mine I guess.”

The pavement seemed grayer today for some reason. There was something so dull about pavement and yet even the cold concrete seemed to be having problems. Cracks had opened at strategic points and through the cracks sprouted intoxicating, green weeds, violating the pavement, adding a splash of colour to the dull canvas. Things must have been bad if even the Pavement had complications.

They had reached the American style Coffee-house and Peter felt relief. He was analysing pavements now, that was just seriously-lock-up-in-a-padded-room stuff. Obviously he was going mentally insane. He held open the door for her and was rewarded with silence. She barely even looked at him and he didn’t speak either, save to order two coffees from the waitress.

“How did you feel when your parents were always putting you down?”

“I don’t know. Small, worthless, like I could never do anything right. Like even when I tried my best it was never good enough. Like they wished I wasn’t around.”

The coffee arrived and Peter took a sip. He looked across at Kit; she hadn’t even acknowledged her coffee had arrived, let alone begun to drink it. She was staring into space, her eyes holding a faraway look and Peter found himself getting curious about her. What was it she had said earlier?

“Families huh? They’re the ones who screw your life up and they’re also the reason you have to get back on track.”

Her voice pondered back into his brain and Peter began to reflect on her words. The Hunters seemed like the perfect family, Beth was a great mother. Kit got on well with her brothers and sisters yet obviously there was more to it than that.

“Why did your family screw up your life Kit?” He knew it was none of his business but he wanted to know. He was curious, he wanted to know why she felt like that.

She looked up at him, her face a picture of surprise. Surprise at his question? Surprise that he was even there? He couldn’t say. She took a sip of her coffee.

“I never thought they had.”

“But you do now?” he asked. She shrugged.

“My therapist seems to want to lead me to that conclusion. ‘How did you feel when your mother only seemed to acknowledge Scott?’ ‘Did it make you feel good knowing that you and Matilda were your Dad’s favourites?’ ‘Did you love your Dad?’ ‘So how did it feel when you saw him bullying Robbie?’ Questions, questions, questions.”

“Wow, I didn’t know any of that. Your family always seemed so…perfect,” Peter told her. She snorted.

“That’s one thing we never were.” Peter took another sip of his coffee and looked at her.

“Nor were mine,” he admitted.

“What was wrong with your family?” It was her turn to be curious now and Peter felt uncomfortable at having to answer her yet at the same time he wanted to answer her. He wanted to tell her, wanted to explain, to her and to himself.

“My parents favoured Dan over me, nothing I ever did was good enough,” Peter explained.

“That was what it was like for Robbie with Dad. He used to bully him horribly, always picking on him, making him feel bad.” She was chewing the ends of her nails down. Not that she had much left in the way of nails, they were so far bitten down they looked painful but it didn’t seem to bother her as she continued to nibble.

“Yeah that’s exactly it but at the same time permanently comparing me to Dan. Perfect Dan, the perfect son, never did anything wrong. Why can’t you be more like Dan, Peter?” The memories came back in waves, the old wounds felt as if they were re-opening of their own accord, as if somebody was ripping his skin in two, like paper. Except the scars weren’t on his skin, they were deeper than that, and Peter could hear the subtle bitterness that until now, he had never noticed, threaded through his words, almost subconsciously.

He looked around the Coffee-house at the whitewashed walls, the plastic bright red stools and chairs, the metallic counter and old fashioned juke-box. The place looked like something from a 1960’s movie, like Grease or something. It was tacky, tasteless, bland. In fact the only good thing about it was the coffee.

Kit was speaking again. “Mum’s golden child was Scott, she idolised him, never really spent much time with the rest of us. Matilda and I used to suck up to Dad, we were Daddy’s girls,” a smile played around her lips and Peter knew she too was remembering.

“Did you ever say anything about the way your father was with Robbie?” he asked, curious.

“No. I wanted to but I was too scared. Too scared that if I did, Dad might love me less. Cowardly huh?” She had given up on her nails now and was twisting strands of hair around her fingers, winding them so tightly that her fingers went blue. As he watched she released the coil and then started the whole procedure all over again.

“No I don’t think that makes you a coward,” he replied thoughtfully, truthfully. “Its weird huh? Our parents, these people who we’re meant to idolise and look up to, who guide us through the paths of life. Weird to think of them as failing.”

“Guess they’re only human,” she shrugged.

“Do you forgive them?” he asked suddenly.

“They’re my parents.” She shrugged again and then turned to look him dead in the eyes. “Do you forgive yours?”

“They’re my parents.” He could think of no better way to sum it up than her own words. She nodded, understanding. He took the last sip of his coffee and checked his watch. “I have to go pick up Drew,” he told her.

She looked up at him and he was pleased to see some of the colour had re-entered her cheeks. The hand that held her coffee mug no longer shook and as he placed enough change on the table Peter noticed that his own hand no longer shook either.

“Thanks for the coffee,” she told him.

“No problem, thanks too.”

“Good luck with your next session.”

“And you with yours.” Standing up Peter left the Coffee-house, shutting the door behind him and as he looked back she was still there. Staring into space, still faraway. Only now, she was smiling. And Peter smiled too. Below his feet the pavement no longer looked dull, the air around him no longer smelt bad, his head didn’t thud and his arms didn’t shake.

Crossing the road Peter made his way to his car and went to pick up his son.


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