Sometimes Loving Means Letting Go

Written by Miranda

Written after Intervention, Season 3, Ep. 20

Time seemed to freeze as they waited for Bailey's reaction to Claudia's ultimatum. Charlie's heart caught in his throat as he hoped beyond all hopes that Claudia's speech had affected Bailey as much as it had the rest of them.

Bailey held Claudia's gaze for an agonizing moment, then simply dropped his eyes the floor and walked out of the room. Charlie winced as the door slammed shut behind Bailey. The silence that remained seemed to scream 'Failure!' at them. No one moved; no one even breathed. That is, until Claudia gave a small whimper.

Charlie and Joe moved toward her at the same time. Joe reached for her, but Charlie held up his hand.

"Wait, Joe. Let me. Please."

Joe nodded in understanding and stepped back. At the same time, Charlie gathered Claudia in his arms. He felt the shuddering breath she took and the gasping sob that followed.

"Claudia," Charlie said, "let's get out of here." He mentally kicked himself for his choice of words, remembering that Claudia had said just that to Bailey moments before. She didn't seem to notice, though, and Charlie gently led her from the room. He glanced over his shoulder at Grace, who gave him a half smile and a slight nod. Then Grace moved toward Sarah and Julia.

Charlie guided Claudia upstairs into his bedroom, confident that Grace was in control downstairs. He turned his attention fully to his little sister. She was still crying and the sobbing increased as Charlie put his arms around her again. They sat on the bed together as Charlie held her close and rocked her gently back and forth. It seemed an eternity passed before the crying lessened. Charlie continued to stroke Claudia's hair until her breathing became more normal. Then he pulled away slightly.

"Talk to me, Claudia," Charlie said quietly.

Claudia shook her head and moved to bury her face in Charlie's shirt again. Charlie refused to let her.

"Claudia," he said firmly, "it will help to talk about it."

Claudia wouldn't look him in the eye. "It's my fault, Charlie. It's all my fault."

"What is, Claud?"

Claudia lifted her tear-stained face. "He left, Charlie. It's over. And it's my fault."

Charlie made sure he held Claudia's eyes with his own before he spoke. "Listen to me, Claudia, and listen to me good. His leaving is not your fault. He made the decision himself-Bailey did. You did not force him out. He could have stayed, Claud. But he chose not to."

"But, Charlie, I told him he couldn't see us anymore. I did. No one else said that," Claudia protested, her eyes again filling with tears. "I didn't force him out of this house. I forced him out of this family."

Charlie brushed her bang from her forehead. "You did the right thing, Claudia."

One tear traced its way down Claudia's cheek. "Then how come it doesn't feel like it?"

Charlie shook his head. "I don't know, Claud." He pulled her close again and she leaned her head against his chest. "I just don't know."


Grace came into the bedroom and handed Charlie a cup of coffee. He smiled his thanks and took a sip as Grace settled into the armchair. "That's hot," he commented, setting the mug on the nightstand. Grace nodded, then looked at Claudia.

"She finally fell asleep, huh?"

Charlie glanced at his sister. "Yeah. She finally cried herself to sleep."

"That bad?" Grace asked, sipping from her own coffee mug.

"Well," Charlie answered, "you heard her. Bailey and Claudia have always had a special bond between them. Like she said, he's always been her favorite."

Grace raised an eyebrow. "Does that bother you?"

Charlie shrugged. "No. Not really. But it makes this really hard on Claud. Harder than on the rest of us, if that's possible."

Grace nodded and the two sat quietly for a moment. Charlie broke the silence. "So what do we do now?"

"Well, I think we do what Claudia said," Grace answered. "Let him go. Do his own thing. Make his own decisions."

Charlie nodded slowly. "That's what I thought you'd say. I don't know-it just seems so cold somehow."

Grace moved to sit next to him, being careful not to disturb Claudia. "I know, Charlie. But sometimes letting go is the best way to prove your love."

"It's so hard, Grace. I mean, here I am, trying to explain this to my little sister when I don't even understand it myself."

Grace saw the tears gather in Charlie's eyes and reached to give him a hug. They stayed in the embrace for a moment. Only when Claudia murmured in her sleep did the two pull away.

Charlie wiped a few tears away as he asked, "How is everyone downstairs?"

Grace shrugged. "As well as they can be under the circumstances, I guess. Joe left a few minutes ago. And Julia and Sarah are in Julia's room last I knew. Sarah's staying over. That's okay, right?"

Charlie nodded. "Yeah, sure. Of course."

"Oh, and I called Ross. To check on Owen. Ross asked what happened and I told him. I hope that's okay."

Charlie nodded again-and yawned.

"Look, Charlie. You should get some sleep," Grace told him.

"Yeah, probably," Charlie agreed. "You, too." Then he looked down at Claudia. "Oh. Here, I'll move her to her room." Charlie gently started to pick Claudia up.

Grace put her hand on Charlie's arm. "Wait, Charlie. You shouldn't. Move Claudia, that is. Let her stay here-with you. She needs you-more than I do right now. I'll sleep on the couch tonight. Okay?"

Charlie opened his mouth to protest, then looked over at Claudia, and changed his mind. "Okay." He watched as Grace grabbed her sweats to sleep in and a couple of blankets. She turned to him as she moved to the door.

"Goodnight, Charlie."

"Night, Grace. Thanks."

Grace nodded, smiled, and closed the door behind her.

Charlie stared at the closed for a moment. He suddenly realized that he was exhausted. Something about an intervention that really wears a person out. Charlie pulled off his shirt and laid down next to Claudia. She stirred and opened her eyes. Focusing on Charlie, she asked sleepily, "Have you heard anything from him yet?"

"No, Claud. Go back to sleep, okay?"

"You're going to stay with me, right?"

Charlie kissed her forehead. "Yeah, Claudia. I'll be right here."

Claudia closed her eyes and snuggled closer to Charlie. Charlie slipped his arms around his sister and drifted off to sleep. He knew he had better get all the rest he could because who knew what the coming days would bring.


Charlie woke the next morning to the sound of voices downstairs and the smell of breakfast cooking. He sat up and moved around quietly as he showered and dressed, being careful not to disturb Claudia, who was still asleep.

Tiptoeing from the room, Charlie went downstairs and entered the kitchen. He found Joe frying bacon and eggs at the stove and Sarah and Julia sipping orange juice at the table. Grace was talking on the cordless phone and stepped out of the room when Charlie came in.

"Any word yet?" Charlie asked as he poured himself a glass of orange juice.

"No," Julia answered. "Nothing yet."

Charlie noted the dark circles under the girls' eyes. "Hey, did you two sleep at all last night?"

Sarah shrugged. "No, not really."

Charlie nodded in understanding, then turned to Joe. "And you? What are you doing here so early?"

Joe gestured to the frying pan with the spatula that he held in his hand. "I knew that you guys wouldn't think about feeding yourselves this morning, so I brought over some stuff."

Charlie was appreciative. "You're right, as usual. Thanks, Joe."

"No problem," Joe said. "So how's Claudia?"

"She's..." Charlie paused as Claudia entered the room, "...awake," he finished.

"Morning, sweetie," Joe said to Claudia, pulling her into a hug. She allowed it, but as soon as he let go, Claudia moved to stand next to Charlie.

Charlie slipped his arm around her shoulders as she looked up at him. "Did he call?" she asked hopefully.

Charlie shook his head slowly and watched as his sister's eyes filled with tears.

"Hey, Claud," he said gently. "Don't, okay?"

Claudia nodded and wiped her eyes in effort to stop the tears.

Julia dared to ask what the rest of them were thinking but couldn't voice. "So now what?"

Charlie looked at their expectant faces. "Well, what can we do? Not too much. So we just let go."

Sarah immediately protested. "We can't! He can't be left on his own! You've seen him! He'll destroy himself!"

Julia agreed. "Yeah, Charlie. We can't just ignore the problem. That's exactly what Bailey's doing. Isn't it?"

Charlie nodded. "Yeah, he is, Jule. He's just accepting his alcoholism as something he can't help. But what more can we do? We've tried everything-yelling, begging, lecturing, discussing, even scare tactics! What else is there? We have to just let go. We have to have confidence that sooner or later, he'll become the old Bailey again. So we don't contact him anymore. At all. No phone calls, no visits to his apartment. Nothing. Agreed?" Charlie surveyed faces and waited for reactions.

Joe spoke first. "You're right. This is best. After all, if you love someone enough, you'll let go, right?"

Charlie felt relieved. "That's what Grace said." He turned to the girls. "Jule? Claud? Sarah?"

Julia nodded her agreement and Sarah reluctantly followed. Charlie looked at his youngest sister. "Claudia? This was your idea in the first place."

Claudia gave a short nod, then quickly fled the room. In silence, they all watched her leave. Joe finally broke the moment.

"Anyone hungry?" he asked, switching off the burner. When no one moved, Joe spoke firmly. "Come on, everyone has to eat. No exceptions."

As they moved reluctantly to fill their plates, Grace entered the room and hung up the phone.

"Good morning, Grace," Joe said.

Grace offered a smile and motioned for Charlie. He followed her into the front entryway. When they were alone, Charlie leaned in for a kiss.

"Good morning," he murmured. He moved in for a deeper kiss, not noticing Grace's hesitation.

Grace pulled away. "Charlie, wait. Stop."

Charlie pulled away. "What is it?"

Grace looked right at him. "Charlie, that was my dad on the phone. I called home."

Charlie shook his head, confused. "That's great, Grace. I know you don't get along very well with them, but I guess I don't understand..."

Grace interrupted. "I'm going home, Charlie." He looked at her in surprise. "Oh, not permanently," she quickly reassured him. "But I think it would be best if I left for awhile. I really don't belong here right now. This is a family thing."

Charlie realized that, ironically enough, Callie had said the same thing when she'd evacuated the Salinger house the day before. "Grace, you don't have to go. You aren't intruding."

Grace held firm. "I just think it would be best if I left for a few days."

Charlie knew when not to argue. He slowly nodded. "Okay, Grace. Do what you have to do."

Grace studied him for a moment. "It's not that I want to leave, Charlie. But it's probably in the best interest of everyone involved."

Charlie wanted to tell her that it was in his best interest that she stayed. After all, he could use all the support he could get. But he restrained himself and simply nodded. The two stood in uncomfortable silence for a moment. Grace cleared her throat. "Well, I guess I should pack. My cab will be here at noon."

"Yeah, I guess you should." Charlie watched as Grace escaped up the stairs. He couldn't help but think that yet another person had just walked out of his life.


The horn beeped loudly and Grace reached for her suitcase. She had been waiting by the door for the past half-hour. 'Not that I'm eager to leave,' Grace tried to convince herself. She looked at Charlie as he entered the room.

"Can I help carry anything?" he offered.

Grace shook her head. "No. Thanks. This is all I have," she answered, gesturing to the suitcase she held. Grace reached for the doorknob. "Keep me posted, okay?"

Charlie didn't speak, only nodded. Grace watched him for a moment. "I love you," she added.

Charlie allowed only the briefest of smiles before Grace closed the door behind her.