Starting Over

Written by Emily Hudak

This is the fourth episode in my fan-fictions. It is set a week after "Should've Seen It Coming." This one was written in April 1999.

"You all ready, Claud? Your 'chariot' is waiting," Bailey kidded as he gestured to the wheelchair in the door of Claudia's hospital room.

"Yeah. Let's get out of here. Does Jule have all my stuff? Like my clothes and my insulin kit?" Claudia asked Bailey. She was happy to be finally getting out of the hospital, but she was scared about how she was gonna deal with her diabetes. For the last week, the doctors and nurses had taught her how to deal with it. She had to give herself two injections daily of insulin, and check her blood sugar regularly. And, she had to eat a regular diet. This was gonna be the hardest thing to coordinate because of everyone's hectic schedules. Charlie would have more time for her, because he had given Owen to Bailey because that was what Owen wanted. But even so, she knew that Charlie was hurting, even if he wasn't letting it show. She felt sorry for him, and wanted to help. They could help each other get used to their new lifestyles. Kirsten and Charlie would help her get used to her new lifestyle.

"You betcha. Here she comes now," he said as he turned to look at Julia.

"I got it all, Claud. Who do you want to ride with? Charlie and Kirsten, or Bailey and Sarah and Owen? 'Cause Griffin and I will go in the other car." Julia smiled fondly at her little sister.

"I'll go with Bay and Sarah, ok?" She grinned. "That way you and Griffin can go with the 'adults,' ok?"

"Thanks a lot." They all laughed.

Bailey slowed down the wheelchair. You know what? Why don't I take down the rest of your stuff to the car and Jule can bring you down?" Bailey was acting weird, but Claudia dismissed it as excitement. He winked at Julia, but Claudia didn't see it.

"O.K., whatever." Julia took the wheelchair from Bailey, and Bailey hurried down the stairs. Julia rolled Claudia over to the elevator. "What's up with Bay?" Claudia asked.

"I don't know. Anyway," Julia said, changing the subject, "what's going on with you and Reed? He's been visiting you an awful lot," she observed.

"Well," Claudia smiled shyly. "He wants to go out with me," she said as she was rolled into the elevator by Julia.

"Really? That's great!" Julia shrieked.

"Yeah. I told him that I'd have to think about it, though."

"Why? You've liked him for the past year. Why not?" Julia asked.

"I don't know. I'm gonna tell him yes, anyway. But, how are you?" Claudia could always care about someone else these days, no matter what she was going through. She had learned to do that during Charlie's cancer last year. She had grown up a lot during that year, Julia thought. At least she was sane.

"I'm fine, Claud," Julia assured her. "What would make you think otherwise?"

"I don't know," she said honestly. "I just—I just sensed something. O.k., so, how's Owen?" Claudia asked.

"He's ok, I think. Bailey's doing a really good job. I think that Owen's happier with him. I feel bad for Charlie, though," she said as the elevator doors opened. As they went out of the hospital toward Bailey's car, Bailey appeared to help Claudia into the Jeep.

"Thanks," she said as she got into the Jeep.

"Move over to the middle seat, ok?" Bailey told her.

"O.K." She scooted over. "Why?"

"Close your eyes." She did what she was told. She felt something touch her leg and she quickly opened her eyes.

"Reed!" she screamed. She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. "Wow!"

"Jule?" Sarah said, coming over to the Jeep, holding Owen's hand. "Did you bring all the stuff?"

"Yeah. I put all the bags in the trunk of Kirsten's car." She turned to Bailey. "You ready to hit the road?"

"Um, almost. Get Charlie and Kirsten over here so they can see Claud."

"I can get..." Claudia started to protest, but Sarah had Owen get into the car next to her and cut her off.

"You're not going anywhere." Charlie appeared suddenly.

Claudia reached over Owen to give Charlie a hug. Kirsten peeked in, and Claudia gave her a hug, too. "How's Di?" she asked.

"She's good. She's doing well. She misses you, though. She'll be happy that you're coming home." Kirsten beamed at Claudia. She was glad that Claudia was feeling better. She loved her so much. She had felt like her mother just 3 years ago and she hoped that that feeling would come back now that she was with Charlie again. She still loved her like her own child, as well as Owen and even Diana. She knew that Owen living with Bailey would be hard on Claudia. Claudia ad Owen had been together for so long, because while their siblings were having their own crisises, they had to stick together and she took care of him. She must be in hell during this separation. Kirsten wanted to help Claudia through this.

"Well, we better get moving. Don't want to be late." Charlie smiled secretly at Julia and Bailey.

"Late? Late for what?" Claudia got no answer. "Guys? Come on. Tell me!"

"Nope. You'll find out when we get there." The three of them burst out laughing. "Ready, Bay?" Charlie, Kirsten and Julia walked over to Kirsten's car, where Griffin was waiting for them, holding Diana. They all settled into their respective cars.

"Everyone strapped in?" Sarah asked, looking at Owen.

"Yes," he said. He turned to look at Reed. "Are you like Griffin?" he asked innocently as the Jeep pulled out of the parking lot.

"Owen..." Claudia glared at him.

"No, no, it's o.k." Reed laughed. "How do mean, 'am I like Griffin,' buddy?"

"Well, Griffin was around a lot because he liked Julia. But then he and Jule were married, so he was a part of the family. Are you gonna be around a lot because you like Claud?" The way Owen said it, it was all Bailey and Sarah could do to keep from laughing. Claudia turned bright red.

"Yeah, I like Claud a lot, so I guess I'll be around a lot, ok?" Reed was good with Owen. He did like Claudia a lot, and he was starting to like her family. After what she'd said about them last year, he was prepared to not like them. But, he surprised himself by liking all of them instantly. He was glad he had another chance with Claudia. He'd been an immature jerk last year, and he hoped that he wouldn't let anything get in the way of their relationship this time.

"Look at that tree!" Owen pointed out the window to a huge redwood tree off the highway. "That's big!"

"Yeah," Claudia said. "You know what? When I was your age I had this tree that I just fell in love with. It was at this cabin that Mom and Dad used to take us when we were little. Remember, Bay?"

"Yeah. You would sit by that tree for hours, playing the violin. Me and Jule would try to tear you away, but you'd stay there for hours." Bailey sighed, remembering the days of carefree bliss from when their parents were alive.

"It was a pine tree." Claudia sighed too, also remembering.

Bailey and Sarah looked at each other and smiled. Claudia had no idea that they were headed to that very cabin that she was remembering.

In Kirsten's car, Julia was sleeping on Griffin's shoulder and Kirsten was humming along with the radio. "Get off here," Charlie said. "It's only about another five minutes."

Kirsten followed the Jeep off the highway and made a left turn. "Charlie?" she asked.


"Are you ok? I mean, about this whole Owen thing?" Kirsten was worried about Charlie.

"Honestly?" he asked. He looked in the backseat to see if Julia and Griffin were awake. It appeared to him that they were both asleep, but in reality Julia had just woken up. "No. I love Owen like a son, and to not have him around is unbearable. I've raised him, and now I miss raising him. At least I have Diana. I don't know what I'd do without my baby girl. I'd still have Claud, but she doesn't need me as much. But, I really do miss Owen. But, I'm glad he's happy at Bailey's. I mean, at least he's happy there." He paused. "Oh, turn right here. It's down the road about a mile."

"Charlie, I'm sure Owen loves you more than you think. It's just that he was shuffled around for so long in his young life, until he was three, and he doesn't want to feel that way again. He feels threatened by Diana. So, he ants to be the center of someone's life, and he's not the center of yours. And he couldn't be the center in your life, 'cause you have Di and Claud, so he wants to be there with Bailey. Do you understand?" Kirsten was comforting to Charlie. He believed her because of her background in child psychology. "Is this it?" she asked as she pulled into the driveway of a wood cabin.

The cabin was bigger than everyone remembered, but then again, when they had been there as a family last, they had to fit a teenager, two preteens, a child and two parents in there. How were they going to fit ten people in there, no matter how big it was?

Julia faked waking up. "Are we there yet?" She yawned loudly.

"Yeah." Charlie started to get out of the car. "Will you get Diana out of the car seat?"

Julia gently picked up her niece from the car seat and cradled her in her arms as everyone else got out of the cars. Charlie motioned to take her from Julia, but Julia shook her head. "Uh-uh. Our special visitor gets the most special thing." She walked over to Claudia, who was in awe of where they were. "Here, Claud." She transferred Diana from her arms to her sister's. "You get to carry the most important thing: your niece." They laughed.

"Hey, what about me?" Owen whined. "I thought I was important?!"

"Oh, you are, honey," Julia comforted her little brother. "You just don't have to be carried." Julia had been awake while Kirsten was talking, and she saw exactly what she'd been talking about. "Now, Owe, can you be a big boy and carry your bag into the house? It would help me a lot." Julia saw that she needed to treat Owen like a big boy and not a baby like Diana so that he would feel different and not as left out.

"O.K," Owen replied happily, glad that he could help his big sister. He picked his little bag up out of the trunk of Kirsten's car and started lugging it to the cabin. Claudia walked next to him, carrying Diana and making sure that Owen didn't topple over from the weight of his bag. Everyone else was carrying bags and/or groceries into the cabin.

"All right," Charlie said. "Who wants to do what?" He motioned to the groceries, bedclothes and the few pieces of firewood in the corner next to the fireplace.

"Reed and I will do the firewood," Griffin spoke up.

"Claud, Sarah, Owen and I'll do the beds," Kirsten offered.

'O.K.," Charlie said. He tossed the sleeping bags and pillows to them. He looked at Bailey and Julia. "I guess that leaves us with the groceries." He took Diana from Claudia and put her in the snugly on his chest. The three of them picked up the bags of groceries and everyone went their separate ways.

Julia, Bailey and Charlie were in the kitchen, unpacking all the groceries. Bailey was putting some canned food in the cabinets, Julia was unpacking plastic utensils, and Charlie was putting the rest of the food in the refrigerator. "You remember this? Unpacking, spending time up here?" Julia asked.

"Well, we're doing this for Claud, not for us," Bailey said. "Besides, we're not running away from anything this time; we brought it all with us." He laughed.

"Yeah," Charlie agreed. "Even though we had a crappy time up last year, it doesn't mean that we can't have a good time this time. Besides, our lives our are better now. My cancer's in remission, and I have Kirsten with me now. Bay, you have Owen to take care of and Sarah. Jule, you and Griffin are finally back together, and you have a baby on the way." Julia smiled and looked down at her already swelling stomach. "And, then, of course, I have my baby girl. Isn't that right?" He looked down and cooed at the giggling baby.

"Yeah, what about Claud? She's just as bad off as she was last year. She doesn't have anyone, except Reed," Julia pointed out. "And last year when things got rough, he split. Her best friends are Griffin and Sarah. But, I guess when she needs someone to talk to, and no one at school could understand what she's been through. She's been through so much more than any other kids her age, been to places she can't even dream of. How many sixteen year olds do you know who lost their parents at ten, thought they were getting another mother at twelve and didn't, had to deal with their big sister getting pregnant at sixteen, had their brother become an alcoholic, deal with the thought of their brother dying, now has a chronic illness, and had basically been a five year olds mom for the past five years?" Julia was trying to put things in perspective.

"But..." Bailey started.

"But that's why we're here, right? That's why we made this trip, to show her we care and that we understand. Right?" Julia loved the fact that her little sister was finally old enough to deal with things that happened. Even though she was still trying to protect her, she knew that Claudia could deal with pretty much anything that was thrown at her. She had dealt with death, a lot of mistakes, any kind of relationship problem invented, dealing with illness. All this was what she had endured in the past five years. It wasn't fair to her.

"Charlie!" Kirsten called down the stairs. "Where's everyone going to sleep?"

"Oh, that's right," Charlie said. "There's a master bedroom, another big bedroom with three beds, and two smaller ones, each with a queen sized bed. And then there's the couch. How are we going to divvy it up?" Charlie had a tentative plan in his head, but he wasn't sure where everyone else wanted to sleep. He put the last can of orange juice in the refrigerator and joined everyone else in the family room.

Griffin and Reed piled the last of the wood in the corner next to the fireplace. "So, who sleeps where?" Griffin asked.

"Well," Bailey started, "Charlie and Kirsten automatically get the master bedroom. Sarah and I will take one of the smaller rooms, and I assume that Jule and Griffin will take the other one." He glanced at Julia. She nodded. "Then Claud and Owen will take two of the beds in the big bedroom. And that leaves Reed with the other bed or the couch. Whichever." Bailey hoped, as did Charlie, that Reed would take the couch. Julia thought that Reed should take the other bed, since he and Claud would be sharing the room with Owen anyway. It'd be better if everyone had a bed, because everyone would be more comfortable.

"It doesn't matter to me," Reed said uncomfortably. How could they expect him to make that kind of decision in front of everyone? "Wherever everyone else wants me." He glanced at Claudia.

She shrugged. How can I make this decision in front of them? She thought. "You can take the bed. It'll probably be more comfortable." She didn't mind if Reed was going to sleep in the room with her and Owen. She was glad that Owen was there. As she had told Sarah a few weeks ago at her birthday party, she just wasn't ready for anything like that.

"O.K." Julia grabbed a bag. "Diana sleeping with you guys?" she asked Charlie and Kirsten.

"Mm-hmm," Kirsten replied. "Let's go unpack."

Bailey grabbed his and Owen's bags and headed up the stairs. Julia also picked up her heavy suitcase to carry up the stairs.

"Uh-uh." Griffin went over and grabbed the suitcase from her. "You're not carrying that heavy thing." He took the bag from her, too, and handed a small duffel bag. She rolled her eyes and grabbed the duffel bag.

In a little while, all the bags were upstairs and the only ones left unpacking were Bailey and Sarah. "You know, Owen looks really happy," Sarah observed. "He likes being with everyone. We should do this more often." As much as Sarah wanted to be on her own, she liked being with Bailey's family, because she had developed special relationships with all of them.

She and Charlie had their moments, but they got along most of the time. She knew that when he felt powerless, he needed to take it out on someone, and she was that one sometimes. But, like all the other, she stood up to him and let him know that she didn't mean him any wrong. But, if they were on opposite sides of an argument, watch out.

She got along with Kirsten almost all of the time. When Charlie and Bailey were fighting, it was a little tense because they each backed up their respective loved ones. But, then again, they didn't know each other very well. But, they were both the types of people it was easy to get along with. They would probably become friends over time.

Julia had been Sarah's best friend for so many years. They once had been so close; they practically knew everything about each other when they were in high school. They hadn't had the time to talk lately, with them both going to college and everything that was going on in their lives. But, their friendship was something that would never end, no matter what happened. It as just one of those things.

Sarah liked Griffin. After all, he as Julia's husband. They were kind of close, because they had bonded about their respective relationships with the Salinger's. Even when she didn't know him well, she had respected him because if Julia loved him, he must be special. He was a good listener; not that she had ever dumped her problems on him. She knew that Claudia trusted him, and that he was a sweet person. He was a good friend.

Sarah loved Claudia a lot. Claudia was a cross between a friend and a little sister to her. She felt it was her responsibility to give her advice and to help her out in anyway she could. It was like Sarah was the only one who was there for Claudia when she needed advice or just someone to talk to. She couldn't talk to Charlie or Bailey because they were guys. And Kirsten hadn't been around a lot until recently, and Julia had been dealing with her problems at school. She didn't mind talking to Claudia, though. She liked to have someone to talk to especially a good listener like Claudia. They had a bond that strengthened the Salinger family.

Her relationship with Bailey was complicated. They had been through some tough times. When they first started dating, he wasn't over Jill, so Sarah didn't want to date him unless he accepted her as her, and not a Jill clone. After she got mugged, he was so smothering. After he slept with Callie, it was all over with. That is, until she realized his alcohol problem. Then, she stood by his side even when he almost killed her in a drunk driving accident. That was loyalty if anything was. They became roommates later that year, because she refused to live with her parents. Unfortunately, she didn't realize her true feelings for him, until he went out with a fellow alcoholic, Annie. She kept getting in the middle of their relationship, and couldn't stand hearing about their love life. After almost six months of dating, Bailey broke up with Annie when her husband came back to town and they went away together. He was really depressed, but after hearing that she still loved him, they finally made love for the first time and got back together. She knew that Bailey was her one true love. She also knew that believing in true love was foolish, but he was the one. They had their share of disagreements; the latest one about Will and his getting a one night stand pregnant. Bailey gave the girl money for an abortion, and they had a big fight about that. But, in the end they realized they loved each other and they would embrace a child if the need arises. It was a healthy relationship, and was one they had for years to come, or so they thought. Things were pretty good right now.

Sarah hadn't gotten to really know Owen until this year. He was like a cross between a little brother and a son to her. They got along pretty well, and he seemed to love her like a sister. She liked having Owen with her and Bailey. But she wasn't happy with the suggestion she was about to make about Owen's happiness. "Anyway, Bailey, there is a way to keep Owen happy like this all the time." She looked at him skeptically. "It's definitely not anyone's first choice, but it'll make him really happy. He wants to be with Claud, you know. He misses her a lot."

"Sarah, are you suggesting..." She raised her eyebrows at him. "Move back in? But we've made a life for ourselves at the loft. We have our own life! We can't just throw it all away!" He wasn't happy with the thought of moving back in with his family.

"Look, I'm not happy with it either, but think about Owen. He still refers to the loft as 'your' house and he grew up in that house. He misses Claud so much, 'cause they've grown to rely on each other. We'd still be raising Owen; he'd have Claudia. And, that house is a part of your family's past. Would you have liked to move out of the house your parents lived in if you were his age? He grew up in that house, and he thinks of it as home. I'm not trying to raise problems here, but it's a solution for his happiness." Sarah didn't want this at all, but she wanted Owen to be happier, like he was at the cabin, with his family around. "Just think about it, ok? We'll discuss it with Charlie later."

"O.K." Bailey loved Sarah for thoughtfulness for Owen. "Come here, you." She walked over to him, and instead of kissing her, he started tickling her. She giggled and they were rolling around on the bed tickling each other.

In Griffin and Julia's room, Julia was napping and Griffin was reading a book on replacing carburetors in cars. He wasn't tired because he slept in the car, unlike Julia, who had listened in on Kirsten and Charlie's conversation. Griffin got up to go to the bathroom and caught sight of an old photograph. It was of the whole family, right before the accident, he guessed. It was of Nick and Diana, along with 24 year old Charlie, a 15 year old Bailey, a 14 year old Julia, a 10 year old Claudia and Owen as an infant. He couldn't have been more than six weeks old. And , of course, Thurber was in the picture. It was a picture of a time where they were happy, and without fear. Griffin sighed. He loved this family so much. It wasn't fair for them to have to suffer like this. Charlie didn't like him very much, but these tragedies were nothing to wish on your greatest enemy. At least they had their children. Charlie and Kirsten had Diana, and he and Julia were expecting. Sarah and Bailey had a child in Owen, kind of. Life was getting better everyday. But, Griffin knew it wouldn't last. Knowing this family, tragedies followed each other very closely, and with Claudia's diagnosis, something was probably going to follow it soon.

"Griffin, Jule?" Bailey knocked on the door. "We're gonna have lunch. You coming?"

Griffin went over next to the door. "Shh," he whispered as he opened it. "Julia's sleeping."

"No, I'm not." She sat up. "Lunch sounds good." The three of them went into the hall and down the stairs.

Later, after dinner, everyone was sitting in the living room, relaxing. The grownups were drinking coffee, and Owen was playing 'Go Fish' with Reed and Claudia.

"Owen?" Bailey said. "I think it's time for you to go to bed. It's been a long day."

"Ooohhh," he moaned. "Do I have to?"

"'Fraid so, buddy," Charlie spoke up. "Go put on your pajamas and brush your teeth. When you're done with that, come down and say good night, ok?" Owen nodded and ran up the stairs.

"Well, this is nice," Julia said. "It's good to be here with everyone. We should do this more often." She liked having her family together.

"Yeah, it is." Kirsten yawned. "I think it's time to go to bed, too."

"Yeah," Charlie agreed. "Let's just wait until Owen comes back down. He glanced at the rest of his family. "Are you guys going to bed, too?"

"Mm-hmm," Bailey decided. "I'm exhausted. Aren't you, honey?"

"Yeah. It was an exhausting day, but I had the best time I've had in a long time," Sarah said.

"Me, too," Claudia said. "Thanks a lot, guys. It means a lot to me. This has been really great. Being up here, talking, reading, relaxing, just being together. Almost like old times." She got a forlorn look on her face, remembering the days that their parents would take them up to the cabin.

Owen came down the stairs. "Good night!" he said.

"Good night, Owe," Charlie said. Owen went over to Charlie and Kirsten and got a hug from both of them and a kiss from Kirsten. He went around the room, getting hugs from everyone except Reed. After Owen had been in bed for ten minutes, everyone retired to their rooms.

In Claudia and Reed's room, Owen was already asleep. They were dealing with the awkwardness of getting ready for bed. Claudia grabbed her clothes and ran into the bathroom, where she quickly changed. When she came out, Reed was already changed and in bed. "Wow, you're quick," she teased.

He blushed. "Good night, Salinger."

"Good night." She shut off the light. "Reed?"


"Do you smell something? Like..."

"Smoke?" he asked. "Yeah."

"Do you think there's a fire?" she asked anxiously.

"I don't know," he said honestly. "Listen, I'll go out and check, ok?"

"No, you won't," she contradicted him. "I'm not letting you go out alone. We'll both go. And if there is a fire, you come back in here and get Owen up and I'll wake the rest of my family up, o.k." She was strangely calm.

"O.K." The two of them touched the door, and, not finding it hot, opened it. As they walked out into the hallway, they saw large billows of smoke floating up the stairs.

"Go!" she whispered. He darted back into their room. Claudia banged on the door of the master bedroom. "Charlie? Charlie!"

He opened the door. "What is it, Claud?"

"Look!" She pointed to the clouds of smoke. "Fire!"

"Oh, God." He took a deep breath. "O.K. Go wake everyone up. Get Bailey to go downstairs to see how bad it is. Get Jule and Sarah to dump anything we need out the windows. Then try to get Owen out of the house first. And crawl! I'll have Kirsten get Diana out. Go!" He ran back into the room to dump Diana's stuff out of the window.

Claudia banged on Julia and Griffin's door next. Kirsten came out of her room to get Bailey and Sarah out. When they were told what was going on, they quickly dressed and Bailey and Griffin crawled down the stairs. Julia and Sarah took out whole dresser drawers and dumped them out the windows. In a matter of two minutes, there was nothing left in the upstairs except for the furniture.

"I wonder what's taking Griffin and Bay so long," Julia said worriedly.

"I don't know," Kirsten replied uncertainly.

Charlie was in the big bedroom with Owen and Diana, trying to comfort Owen.

Bailey and Griffin crawled up the stairs. "The door isn't blocked," Bailey said. Get Owen and Di out first, 'cause it's spreading quickly. Kirsten take Diana and Jule, you get Owen out, ok?" Bailey was taking charge, as usual.

"O.K." Julia and Kirsten nodded. They went into the big bedroom to get the kids.

"'K," Bailey said. "Claud, you, Sarah and Reed are going out right behind them." He looked at Julia and Kirsten, who had just come out of the bedroom with Owen and Diana. Kirsten had Diana in the snugly on her chest. The started down the stairs.

Claudia looked at Bailey. "You, Griffin and Charlie will be out right behind us, right?" She was worried about her brothers.

"Don't worry. We're just gonna double check the place for important things, like Diana's baby stuff and your insulin kit, and then we'll be out," Charlie reassured her.

"O.K." Claudia, Sarah and Reed got down on their hands and knees and backed down the stairs after Julia and Kirsten. When they got down the stairs, they saw Griffin, Charlie and Bailey starting down the stairs. When Claudia glanced into the kitchen, she saw that it had been overcome with fire. She prayed for her family as she got up off the floor and ran out the door to Kirsten's car, where Owen was standing. Kirsten and Julia were picking things off the ground that they had thrown out the windows.

"You ok, Jule?" Sarah asked. "Jule, let me do that for you. You should rest." As Julia walked over to the car where Owen was standing, she saw the living room burst into flames through the window.

"Oh, my God," Claudia whispered.

They saw Charlie, Bailey and Griffin come to a halt when they saw that their escape route had been cut off.

"How are they going to get out now?" Julia asked frantically.

Owen started moaning. "Are Charlie, Bailey and Griffin going to be ok?" he asked.

"Owen, honey, will you go sit in my car?" Kirsten asked. She handed Diana to Claudia. "Will you put her in her car seat in there?"

"Sure." Claudia put Diana in the back seat and closed the door after Owen.

"Now what?" Reed asked. He hadn't known any of these people for very long, but after spending a day with them he had grown to like them.

"There's no fire near that window," Sarah observed. "If we break it, there will be a hole big enough for them to get out." Sarah was really worried, but like the others, she was strangely calm.

"That's a good idea," Julia said.

"Yeah," Claudia agreed. "Let's look for something big enough to break it." She looked around.

"How's this?" Reed held up a log.

"This is good." Claudia and Reed went over to the window and hurled the log into it. The glass broke cleanly and there was a hole big enough to get them through. Within seconds, the three men crawled out one at a time. Charlie ran to Kirsten, Griffin to Julia, and Bailey to Sarah. They all stood there; staring at the burning building that held so many memories for them.

"Oh, God," Claudia sobbed. Reed held her in his arms.

"At least we're all ok," Julia said. She squeezed Griffin tightly.

"Yeah," Kirsten said. "You guys had us really worried for a while there."

"You? We were pretty worried ourselves," Charlie said.

"Well, we better clean up all this stuff," Bailey said "We're all ok, so I say this hasn't been that bad. Crisis's just make us Salingers stronger." He smiled.

"That makes us really strong!" Charlie laughed.