One Day at a Time
This is the second part of two. It takes place immediately following "Bad Examples."
"Hey, guys. Why'd you go outside?" Claudia asked Bailey and Sarah. "It's so cold!" She paused. "Oh, yeah, that's right. It's the only place where you can get a little privacy. Sorry," she said sheepishly.
"So, the soup's done?" Sarah confirmed.
"Yep. Two bowls of Clam Chowder coming up." Claudia filled the bowls and handed them to Sarah and Bailey. She started filling up the other bowls.
"Thanks, Claud," Julia said as she handed Julia her bowl of Chicken Noodle soup. Julia became lost in her own world, thinking about her baby and how to deal with Griffin and Ned. She had to think about what to do. Should she tell Griffin? After spending this little time with him today, she had realized the feelings she'd felt for him. It was going to take a lot of thought. They all sat down to eat their soup, except for Charlie, who was feeding Diana.
Kirsten looked at Charlie finish feeding Diana and get his bowl of soup, and then she looked down at her soup. It wasn't fair that she couldn't have children. And now Charlie had a baby with another woman. She had always wanted to give him a baby of their own, and she never could. It hurt so much to think of it. She wanted children so badly, and Charlie had the ones she wanted. Since they couldn't have any of their own, she had to settle for what she could have. Claudia and Owen were already like her own children, even though she hadn't given birth to them. She hoped that she could have the same kind of relationship with Diana. She hoped that Charlie would realize that she loved him and that, maybe, he loved her, too. He may have moved on, but that was because of her marriage to Paul. That had been part of her growth process from her depression, but she had really loved Charlie the whole time. Maybe she was placing too much importance on herself. But, she wished that they could marry, this time, for real. Oh, if they had only gotten married three years ago. Things would have been much easier. No use dwelling on the past, though. She had to think of a way to tell him that she loved him. Claudia's voice cut through her thoughts.
"Sarah, are you ok?" Claudia asked.
Sarah was pale and looked weak. "I'm fine, really," she said unconvincingly.
"You don't look fine," Charlie said. He wasn't used to Sarah being around so much, but he cared for his brother's girlfriend genuinely.
"Why don't you go lie on the couch?" Kirsten suggested. "I'd suggest that Bailey take you home, but it's a complete white-out out there. There's no way anyone could see to take out the garbage, let alone drive. It looks like we're all gonna have to spend the night."
Griffin spoke up. "Do you mind, Charlie? If I spend the night? 'Cause I can go out..."
Charlie cut him off. "No, Griffin. You can't go out to the shed. The roof leaks and there's no heat. It's out of the question. We'll just have to get through any uncomfortable moments." He glanced at Julia, who was still in her own world.
Claudia started clearing the bowls. "There's no dessert," she apologized.
"That's O.K., Claud," Griffin said. "We weren't expecting dessert. We weren't even expecting dinner,' he joked.
Charlie went to the sink to clean up Diana. Claudia took Diana from him. "I'll clean her up. You go find a place to sit before the seat next to Kirsten is taken." He looked reluctant. She smiled. "Go on. I'll clean up Diana." She watched him unwillingly go into the living room without his baby daughter. She thought about Charlie and Kirsten as she cleaned Diana up. Charlie was much easier to live with since she was back in his life. She made him happier and more cheery. She lit up his life. Kirsten made him truly happy. It was almost a blessing that Charlie had had Diana with Daphne, and that Daphne had left Charlie to raise Diana with Kirsten. Kirsten was like a second mother to Claudia, and she hoped that it would go well for them this time. "Yes, you're all clean, aren't you, honey?" she cooed at the smiling baby. Claudia picked Diana up and carried her into the living room, stopping briefly to wait out the wave of dizziness. She was used to them by now, since they happened so often. "Did I miss anything?" she asked as she placed Diana in Kirsten's arms.
"Nope. We were waiting for you," Bailey said.
Griffin sat in the living room uncomfortably while the family discussed the recent on-goings. The restaurant, Owen's school, Claud's violin practice, etc, etc. He moved away and looked longingly at Julia. Why did she have to leave him? For Ned, of all people? He knew he was hurting her, even if she wouldn't admit it. And, none of her family would believe him, except Claudia. They thought he was jealous. He kind of was, but he was just trying to protect her. He just didn't want to see her hurt like that. He loved her so much and all he wanted was for her to be safe.
"Griffin?" Julia's sweet voice pulled him out of his guilt trip. Was she actually talking to him?
"Yeah?" His voice came out kind of gruff, but it had a loving lull to it.
"Can we talk? Alone?" She looked self-consciously around the room at Owen. She didn't want to talk in front of her family.
"Sure. Let's go up to Diana's room." He was confused, but the two of them walked up the stairs quickly.
"Look." Sarah pointed at Julia and Griffin hurrying up the stairs together. "Maybe they're going to work things out."
"Why?" Charlie asked suspiciously. "She's with Ned."
"It's just nice to see them getting along," Kirsten and Claudia said at the same time. They laughed, while Owen rolled his eyes.
In Diana's room, Griffin was sitting on the bed and Julia was sitting in the rocking chair. There was an uncomfortable silence as Julia was trying to figure out how to tell Griffin she was going to have their baby.
"Remember how we used to dream about the kids we would have? They'd have your mechanical talent, my talent for writing, Charlie's artistic talent, my mom's compassion, Jill's love for fun, my dad's talent for cooking, Bailey's responsibility, and your and Claudia's musical talent. Remember?" she asked dreamily.
"Jule, please don't do this. I don't want to think about this. I just want you to‹you know what? I'm not gonna do this." Griffin got up to leave.
"Griffin, no. Look, this isn't easy for me, either. Look at me, though. Look at me! Why do you think I thought about our dreams for our children?!" She was so intense she was crying.
"You mean‹you're pregnant?" Griffin looked at her in disbelief. "But, Ned? Shouldn't he be-- It's not possible. Unless..." He looked at her, calculating. "Three and a half months? It's been..."
"Yeah, three and a half months." She smiled. Then her face darkened. "Are you mad?"
"No, honey, of course not. I'm not mad at all. We're married, remember? I'm here for you. But, will Ned be mad? Will he hurt you?" Griffin was still the only one who believed Ned was hitting Julia.
"He'll be mad, but I'll just stay away from him." Julia was still trying to convince herself that he wasn't abusing her.
"Listen, I know that Ned is hurting you. You're a big girl, though, and I can't keep you from seeing him. But, I don't want you or our baby hurt. So promise me you'll stay away him."
"Griffin, let's not get into this right now. Let's take things one day at a time. First, we've got to tell my family. Should we do it tonight or what?" She didn't want to talk about Ned because she didn't want to admit that he was hurting her.
"But, the family should know. Does anyone know?" Griffin asked.
"I told Sarah," she sighed, "and Kirsten guessed."
"O.K. Why don't we go downstairs and if they ask, which they probably will, we'll tell them. Sound like a plan?" he suggested.
"Yeah. Let's go on downstairs." Julia and Griffin got up and started for the door. He was in front of her and, without looking back, he reached back to take her hand. She smiled. It was just like old times.
Griffin and Julia walked down the stairs, holding hands.
"O.K., what's going on here? You're not speaking to him, Jule, remember?" Claudia joked.
"We came to an understanding," Julia said slyly.
"About what?" Claudia prompted. "What were you two doing up there?" Claudia was being nosy, as usual, because she felt that knowing everything kept them closer.
"Well," Griffin started.
"But we've got some news that you might want to hear," Griffin said as he and Julia burst out laughing.
"Well? What is it?" Charlie prodded.
"Griffin and I are going to have a baby!!" Julia exclaimed.
"What?!" Bailey shouted.
Chaos erupted. Everyone was jumping up and down in excitement for Julia and Griffin.
"Wow," Charlie after everyone had calmed down. "That's great, Jule, Griffin, but I thought you guys were separated. I mean, you were about to sign the divorce papers. What happened?"
"We just came to an understanding, that's all," Julia said. "When I found out that I was pregnant with Griffin's child, I knew that the best thing to do was to let bygones be bygones and raise our baby together. Our baby needs us."
"Still, wow," Bailey said. "I never thought you guys would be back together so soon. I'm glad you guys worked things out." Bailey smiled. He had always liked Griffin, and was happy for him and his little sister. They deserved a little happiness now.
"What about Ned? Where does he fit into all of this?" Claudia asked, confused. She didn't like Ned at all, but wanted to know the situation her sister was in.
"Nowhere. I'm gonna have to tell him that I'm pregnant with Griffin's child, and that we're getting back together. What else is there to say?" Julia told Claudia.
"Anywise, it looks like we'll all be spending the night, considering the blizzard outside," Sarah spoke up.
"O.K. Where will we all sleep?" Charlie asked himself.
"Well, Owen sleeps in the tent now, so he's all taken care of," Claudia started.
"O.K. Bailey and Sarah can have the attic. Uhh..." Charlie thought some more.
"Jule and Griffin can sleep in my room," Claudia offered. "I'll sleep on the twin bed in Diana's room."
"Thanks, Claud," Charlie said. "That leaves Kirsten. You can have the couch, if you want," he said to her. She leaned over and whispered in his ear. "It's ok with me if it's ok with you," he said.
"I wouldn't have suggested it if it wasn't," she told him.
"O.K. Kirsten's bunking with me," Charlie said.
"Let's go upstairs and get arranged and then read Owen a story," Claudia suggested.
"Sure." Everyone went up the stairs to their respective rooms, and Claudia brought Diana up to her room.
Julia and Griffin headed for Claudia's room. "Hey, why don't you go ask Charlie to borrow something to sleep in? You don't have anything up here at the 'main' house, do you?" Julia suggested.
"Yeah." Griffin walked down the hall, leaving Julia with her thoughts. She knew she'd pulled a complete 180 that day when she told Griffin about the baby and wanting to be together. When she learned she was pregnant just a week ago, it wasn't just about her anymore. She had to think about her baby's safety. Kirsten had really opened her eyes about it. That's what made her go to Griffin, her talk with Kirsten. What would Ned have done if she'd told him before Griffin? Would he have beaten her? She tried to put the thought out of her mind, but couldn't. It was nagging at her head. She finally was facing that Ned had hit her, that he hit women. Had he hurt Maggie? She'd call her in the morning. She finally pushed all her thoughts aside when Griffin came out of Charlie's room carrying a pair of Charlie's old flannel pajamas.
"Earth to Julia? Are you ok? You were kind of out there." Griffin's voice brought her back to reality.
"Oh, I'm fine. I was just trying to remember where my suitcase was." She thought for a moment. "Oh, yeah, it is in Claud's room."
Claudia walked down the hallway toward her room. Griffin and Julia were standing in the doorway. "I, uh, just need something to sleep in. I'll be out of the way on a second." She went into her room, opened a drawer and pulled out a bundle of clothes. She looked awkwardly at Julia and Griffin and hurried down the hall.
Julia shrugged her shoulders as she and Griffin turned and went into Claudia's room and closed the door.
Kirsten and Charlie were in Charlie's room, talking. "Are you sure you're ok with this?" Charlie asked her again.
"Charlie, it's fine," she emphasized again. "I wouldn't have suggested it if it wasn't." She gave him a convincing look. "I wish we could do it more often," she mumbled under her breath.
"Hmm?" Charlie was putting on a pair of flannel pajamas in the corner of the room.
"Nothing. I, uh, need to get my pajamas out of Diana's room. I'll be right back." She darted over to him and gave him a quick kiss before she left the room.
Charlie stood there for a moment, in shock. Did Kirsten feel the same way about him as he felt about her? Did she still love him, too? Maybe. Ever since she and Paul had divorced, he'd been dumping his problems with Daphne on her. Could that be why she went to Chicago when he tried to bring Daphne home from LA? He knew that her odd behavior was about something, but he couldn't put his finger on it until now. They were still in love with each other, but both of them were too afraid to do anything about it. He'd tell her when she came back into the room. He'd tell her that he still loved her. They might be able to put everything out in the open. He knew that she might not be ready for much, but he wanted her to know how he felt about her. He was getting up his courage when she walked back into the room, changed.
"Diana's already asleep. Claud said that she was asleep right after she changed her diaper, before she even put her down. Isn't that so sweet?" Kirsten was babbling cheerfully.
"Kirsten, I love you," Charlie blurted out emotionally.
"I love you, too, Charlie. We've always loved each other." She dismissed the gesture.
"No, I really love you. I want us to be together. I want us to raise Diana together. I want to stay with you this time." Kirsten sat on the edge of the bed for a moment in disbelief.
Meanwhile, Bailey and Sarah were up in the attic. Sarah had borrowed some clothes from Julia to sleep in, but Bailey was still searching through a box for a shirt. "Man! I can't find a shirt! I guess I'll have to go down and borrow one from Charlie." He started down the stairs. Bailey ran down the attic stairs, toward Charlie's room. He heard Kirsten crying through the door. Why couldn't they be happy? Their parents' deaths had been the start of their problems. What would their family be like if that accident hadn't happened? Charlie probably wouldn't have met Kirsten. He probably wouldn't have become an alcoholic. Julia undoubtedly wouldn't have gotten pregnant at 16 if their mom had been around. Owen wouldn't be turning out the way he was, scared and confused, without real parents. Claud was the only stable one in the family, and even she had cut school so much last year. None of that would have happened if their parents were still alive. Bailey wished that things hadn't started falling apart after that horrible night of March 22, 1994. He debated going into Charlie's room as he heard Kirsten sobbing. He knocked loudly.
Charlie opened the door. "Bay..."
"I just need a shirt, Char. A warm shirt to sleep in. I didn't mean to barge in," he said while glancing at Kirsten, who was sitting on the edge of the bed, sniffling.
"Do you need pants, too?"
"O.K." He handed Bailey a flannel nightshirt. "Here you go."
"Thanks." Bailey turned and walked down the hall, toward the attic stairs. He looked out the window, glancing at the glimmering snow that was still falling.
Ten minutes later, everyone was downstairs reading Owen a bedtime story. "The end," whispered Julia as Owen drifted off to sleep. Charlie gently tucked him in.
"We should all go to bed. It's been a long day and tomorrow's gonna be even longer, if we have to deal with all this snow," Charlie said reasonably.
"Yeah, well, I'll be around to help because I'm not gonna open the restaurant in this weather," Bailey said. "Let's all get a good night sleep for once."
The seven of them walked up the stairs toward their respective sleeping quarters, saying their good nights. Claudia was left standing by the window, steadying herself as another wave of dizziness swept over her, staring at Owen's snowman. Why couldn't there be more days like this? She asked herself. Oh, well. She knew that she would savor the memory of this day, like many other days like this, because they needed to remember the good days as well as the bad ones. They needed to savor those days as they came. It's what kept them going.