When It Really Matters

Written by Miranda

Written after Intervention, Season 3, Ep. 20

It was nearly eleven o'clock the next morning when Bailey woke. He was vaguely surprised to find himself in his apartment. He was lying, fully clothed, shoes and all, in bed. Bailey couldn't remember when exactly he had gotten home last night. Or, more precisely, this morning. But judging by the intensity of the headache he had, Bailey guessed that it had been a pretty good party.

Bailey laid in bed for a few moments, not caring that he was missing y yet another history class. Right now, he was too hung-over to consider moving. Briefly, Bailey wondered where Callie was. But thinking about Callie made him remember their argument, and that argument only reminded him of his meddling family.

What Bailey couldn't figure out was their silence these past couple of days. Shouldn't they have checked up on him by now? Shouldn't they still be nagging him with all their nosy questions? Bailey thought of Claudia's speech right before his escape. Could it be that they were really following through on her ultimatum? A sense of fear knotted Bailey's all-ready uneasy stomach. They couldn't really walk out of his life forever. Could they? 'Forget it,' Bailey told himself. 'Why do you care? You're better off without them.'

Groaning, he rolled out of bed and stumbled to the refrigerator. He knew how to remedy this hang-over-and how to forget these unwanted thoughts. Bailey opened the fridge door, reached for a beer can-and stopped. There was nothing. At least nothing with alcohol. Which pretty much qualified as nothing in Bailey's way of thinking. The refrigerator held orange juice, milk and Diet Coke, but no beer whatsoever. Bailey slammed the fridge door and opened the liquor cabinet. He was only slightly surprised to find it empty,

Bailey reached for his coat and keys. No problem. He had a friend in a frat house that would be sympathetic. There was always a good beer supply there. Checking his wallet for cash and his fake ID, Bailey left the apartment.


'Thursday, May 7th, 1975: It's 3am now, and Nick still isn't home. I can't say that I'm surprised, but I had so hoped that everything would magically change tonight. Nick promised me-he gave me his word-that this would never happen again. Not after last time. But the night drags on, still Nick's not home. I suppose I should call Joe to go get him.

I know what this means; it's happened too many times. I'll have to drive Nick to work tomorrow and then take Charlie to school. Charlie will ask questions: 'Why isn't Daddy driving?' And I'll make something up, like I always do: 'Daddy doesn't feel well this morning, so Mommy's driving.' Charlie will sit in back with Nick, and they'll sing songs and laugh, and Charlie will never know that his daddy was out drinking all night long. I'll sit up in front, getting angrier each time Nick laughs.

But I can never tell Nick about my anger. I can never share my fears about his problem-his disease. He gets upset at me for making a big deal out of it, and then there are arguments, and shouting, and tears... Thank goodness for Avery. Without him, I would certainly go insane. He's become not only my instrumental partner, but also my confidant. I live for our practice sessions, when I can either vent my frustrations to Avery, or simply get lost in the music. But there hasn't even been time for that lately, since I have to constantly drive Nick to and from the restaurant. Why do I put up with this? Wouldn't it be easier to just get away? Sometimes I wonder why I don't just pack up Charlie and myself and leave this all.'

Claudia sighed as she finished yet another entry in her mother's journal. Each entry left her with a sick feeling as more pieces came together. But Claudia still wanted to know more. She wanted nothing left out. Claudia wondered why Julia had never seen this before. After all, she had found these journals right after the accident. Maybe Julia had just skimmed parts, or maybe never finished them, or maybe just ignored them all together. Something in Claudia still longed for more. She wanted to know the whole truth. Claudia ran her eyes over the page, hoping for something else. Then her eyes caught on a name. Avery. Who would know more about her mother than he? Claudia knew that she'd be making a visit to her mother's former partner very, very soon.


Charlie loosened his tie as he signed the time sheet. "I'm gone, you guys!" he called into the kitchen. He received a lot of half -hearted waves and mumbled good-byes as the busy staff prepared for the next shift.

Charlie left the restaurant through the back exit and crossed the parking lot to his truck. He unlocked the doors and started the truck. Leaving the parking lot, Charlie directed his truck towards Bailey's apartment. 'I'm not going to see him. I'm just going to pick up a sandwich at that great deli over there. And maybe I'll just check if Bailey's Jeep is there." But even as Charlie thought this, he found himself parking across the street from Bailey's apartment. Charlie was not too surprised to find that Bailey's Jeep wasn't there.

'I'll just stay for a little while longer. Just to see if he shows up. I'll just sit here a few more minutes.'

Then Charlie turned off his truck's engine and settled in for a long watch.


Julia was trying to convince herself of the same thing as she drove towards Bailey's apartment. She wasn't breaking "the promise" exactly. She was in the neighborhood, so she thought that she'd just drive by. Heart pounding, Julia held her breath as she turned onto Bailey's street. She squinted as she approached, hoping to catch a glimpse of her brother's Jeep. No such luck. As Julia got closer, she knew that Bailey was definitely not there. But then Julia noticed another familiar vehicle across the street.

"What is Charlie doing here?" Julia said aloud. Her temper flared as she thought of Charlie's repeated warnings against any contact with Bailey. To think that Charlie himself was breaking the promise! Then Julia calmed down as she realized what she herself was doing. Each of them was dealing with Bailey's problem in his or her own way. Julia decided to cut her brother a break and quickly drove away before Charlie noticed her.


Late that night, Claudia dialed Avery's number yet again. The phone rang and rang, and finally, the answering machine clicked on. Claudia hung up, not wanting to leave a message about this delicate issue.

The door clicked and swung open. Claudia quickly hid the journal she held as Charlie entered.

"Hey, Claud."

"Hi, Char. Have you been at the restaurant?"

Charlie hesitated before he answered. "Um, yeah. I was at the restaurant." He quickly changed the subject. "It's pretty late, Claud. You have school tomorrow. You should get in bed."

Claudia nodded. "I know. I was just kind of...waiting."

Charlie's eyes reflected his understanding. "It's okay, Claud. Do you want to sleep with me tonight? In case of any dreams?" he asked gently.

"Actually, Charlie," Claudia began tentatively, unsure of how her brother would react to her plan, "I thought I'd sleep in the living room tonight. I want to be near the phone, you know, just in case."

Charlie sighed inwardly. "Claudia..."

"He might call tonight, Charlie. Maybe tonight Bailey will decide that we were right. It could happen. Please, Charlie." Claudia's brown eyes filled with tears as she pleaded with her brother.

Charlie gave in, not wanting to decrease his sister's hopes. "Okay, Claud. Let me know first if he calls."

Claudia nodded and smiled before she went to the living room. Charlie watched her sadly. He was in deep thought when the phone rang. Shaking his head to clear it, Charlie answered the phone. Maybe Claudia wouldn't have to sleep on the couch tonight after all.

"Hello?" Charlie said hopefully.

But it wasn't Bailey's voice that came over the line. It was Grace's.

"Hey, Charlie. How is everything?"

"Nothing new."

Grace's voice was concerned. "How are you, Charlie? Really?"

Charlie couldn't resist a snide comment. "Why do you care, Grace? You left, remember?"

Grace protested immediately. "I didn't leave, Charlie. Not for good."

"Yeah, Grace, but you're not here when it matters. You couldn't handle it when things got hard."

"I just think that this is a family matter. It's not any of my business."

"Maybe it isn't any of your business, Grace. Maybe you're right to remain objective to the situation. But you're not right to remain objective to me. All I'm seeing here, Grace, is that you don't care about me enough to stick by me when times are rough."

There was a long silence. "That's not fair, Charlie."

"I don't have time for fairness. And to put it bluntly, I don't need another thing to worry about. So I need to know, Grace. Are you going to stand by me? Because if you're not, then we need to end this right now."

Grace's voice was very determined. "Charlie, we came into this relationship very slowly. We were friends first, and I like to think that we still are." She paused. "I will stick by you, Charlie. Whatever it takes, I'll be there."

Charlie was relieved to the point where emotion almost overcame him. "Thanks, Grace," was all he could manage to say.

"No problem," Grace answered. "But Charlie?"


"If you expect me to break out in a chorus of 'Stand By Your Man', then you're out of luck."

Charlie only laughed.


Julia knocked on Sarah's bedroom door before letting herself in. She peered inside cautiously.


Sarah was sitting on her bed in the dark. "Julia? Come in."

Julia swung the door open completely. "Your mom said I could come up." She took a closer look at her friend. "Sarah, are you crying?" She gently sat on the bed facing Sarah.

Sarah reached over and turned on a lamp, revealing her tear-streaked face. "I just can't stop worrying about him, Jule. I try and try. I mean, it's like, I'm not part of your family. I'm not even his girlfriend anymore.

So why do I keep stressing over this? But I can't get him out of my mind. I have picked up that phone and dialed his number dozens of times, but then I remember the promise. I hate that, Julia, I hate that we made that promise. But most of all, I hate that, no matter how hard I try, I can't stop caring about him!"

Impulsively, Julia reached over and gave Sarah a hug. "I know what you're feeling, Sarah. I wish sometimes that things were different-that my family wasn't like this. Most of all, I wish that my parents hadn't died. But they did, and there's nothing I can do to change that. I can either complain about my life or just deal with it. Things just happen to us, Sarah. I don't know why-they just do."

Sarah wiped away some straggling tears, new determination overtaking her. "I'm not going to give up on him, Julia. Whatever it takes, I'll be there for Bailey through the end. I can't just walk away."


A few days later, Sarah found out just how much her declaration would be tested.

Sarah woke from a deep sleep. She wasn't sure how long she had been asleep, just aware of the pounding headache she had. She felt like she was in a haze, so she couldn't be sure if the sobbing she heard was real or not. Sarah slowly forced her eyes open. If this wasn't a dream, then, yes, the crying was real. The crying was coming from Bailey, who was standing in a corner of her room. But, wait. This wasn't Sarah's room-it was a hospital room. As Sarah's brain began to clear, she became aware of the bandages on her head. She desperately tried to remember what had happened. Then it all came to her: Bailey's drunken rage, her getting into his Jeep in an attempt to stop him, the squealing tires, the cracking windshield as it made contact with her head. Realizing that Sarah was awake, Bailey took tentative steps toward her bed. Sarah noted the tears streaming down her ex-boyfriend's face, and couldn't stop a tear of her own from escaping. The next words from Bailey's mouth were the ones that they all had hoped for.

"Will you help me?"