Love Hurts

Written by Rachel

Set between "Square One" and "Free and Clear"

Charlie came in the front door. His mind was still spinning from his evening with Daphne. She wasn't what he had expected to pop up in his life. It was all happening rather fast. First the remission and now this woman. She was different than other women he had known. She had the outgoing, fun-loving nature that Nina had, but somehow she was different. Nina had been rather settled in her life, but this one didn't seem to know where she was going and it didn't seem to bother her. He remembered when that was how he had lived, before his parents had died. It seemed so long ago now. He pulled his coat off. Thank goodness he had left those sweatpants in the truck. It would have been a long ride home in his boxer shorts. He walked through the hall, a figure in the living room catching his eye.

"Jule . . . what are you doing up so late?" he asked as he walked in the darkened room and sat down next to his sister. It was clear that she had been crying.

"I don't know. I just couldn't go back out there. It's too hard," Julia said as she wiped away her tears.

"Hey, what's going on? Is it Griffin? What did he do?" Charlie asked as he sat down next to her. His voice was full of concern.

"It's . . . I can't talk about this Charlie," she responded, pulling her knees up to her chin. The defensive body language made it apparent that she was holding a great deal of pain within herself.

"Hey, I know I've been out of commission for a couple of months, but it's me, Jule. You can talk to me about these things . . . hell, I'm the person you should talk to about these things. Is it money or the business? What's the matter?"

"He cheated on me," she answered in a dull tone. "Yeah, it started being about the money and living here, but in the end he was the one who slept with some tramp."

"Whoa, Julia, I'm sorry. This is my fault. I added to your problems when that was the last thing you needed," Charlie said as he pulled her near him. She stayed stiff, unbending in his arms.

"It wasn't your fault, you didn't plan to get cancer. No, this is Griffin's fault and I just have to figure out if I can ever forgive him. I don't know if I can, but I know I can't sleep out there with him."

"You just do whatever you need to do Jule. If you want him out of here I'll tell him to leave tonight. You decide."

"No, he doesn't have anywhere to go. I'll just sleep on the couch tonight and we'll figure something out. You should go to bed, you still have radiation tomorrow," she said and kissed him on the cheek. "Thanks Charlie. I really just needed to tell someone about this."

"Thanks for reminding me," he answered in response to both of her comments. He stood up and headed towards the stairs. "Don't worry, Jule. It'll seem better in the light of day."

Charlie sat on the swing in wait. He knew Griffin would get home around 6 pm and when he did Charlie wanted to talk to him. He thought about how to approach the situation, after all he had spent more time in Griffin's shoes than Julia's, but this was different. She was his sister and this man had caused her pain. It was unacceptable. The sound of the motorcycle coming up the alley pulled him out of his thoughts. He grew tense as he waited for the gate to swing open.

"Hey Charlie!" Griffin greeted him.

"Griffin," Charlie answered. "Let's take a ride." He ushered his surprised brother-in-law to the truck and headed to the Palace of Fine Arts. The gardens there seemed just as good a place to have this conversation as any.

"So, what's this all about?" Griffin asked.

"Probably what you think it's about, you cheating on my sister," Charlie responded.

"So, she told you."

"Of course she told me. Griffin, I have given you the benefit of the doubt more times than I care to think. What the hell were you thinking?" Charlie responded nearly shouting.

"I don't know. I wasn't, obviously. It just seemed like things had been so bad for so long and then she left and told me to get out and I don't know. It just seemed to hopeless. I can't believe I was so stupid."

"Yeah, it was pretty stupid," Charlie said.

"But, the thing is . . . I still love her. I've hurt her so much that I don't know how she could ever forgive me, but I can't imagine not being with her. It hurts to think about it," Griffin said his voice cracking with emotion.

"Yeah, well the strange thing is I think she loves you too, but sometimes that isn't enough. I've sat where you're sitting, more than once. That's not something I'm proud of. I've hurt people that I love a lot. I don't know if you know this, but I cheated on Kirsten. It happened pretty early on, but it wasn't any easier on us. It took her a long time and now when I look back I don't think she ever got over that. She lost her trust in me and it was over before it started. Sure, we lasted another two years but in the end I had hurt her very badly."

"I never wanted to hurt her. I just didn't think," Griffin answered.

"Yeah, but the thing is you did hurt her. You hurt my sister, Griffin. I don't know how she'll forgive you because I don't think I can, but you have to try. She wants to, so do whatever you have to. Go to marriage counseling or see a shrink. I don't know, just figure something out because she is in so much pain right now."

They didn't talk much after that. When they got back to the house Griffin disappeared into the shed. Charlie heard him take off on his motorcycle while Charlie was fixing dinner. He was still deep in thought when the phone rang.

"Hey, did you get my present?" the deep voice asked.

"Kevin! Good to hear from you and yes, I did get the present. Too bad you didn't tell her we canceled the party," Charlie answered laughing. It was good to talk to him again.

"When I heard the gathering was canceled I figured you might still need to celebrate. So did you?" Kevin asked.

"Well, she found Owen and I doing laundry. I don't think she had ever been asked to perform in a similar venue," Charlie responded.

"Wow! I hope Owen appreciated it."

"Sorry to disappoint you, but she didn't strip. I got her to help out with a little decorating instead, but actually I did run into her a couple of days later," Charlie answered.

"Oh?" Kevin inquired.

"Yeah, I ran into her again and well, we went out last night. Just friends, but she's nice. I like her and I think you would to. We should get together sometime," Charlie answered.

The conversation continued as Claudia drifted in from orchestra. Owen followed her and finally Julia. Charlie got off the phone as dinner was ready.

"This is weird," Claudia said as they all sat down.

"What do you mean?" Charlie answered defensively as he set the casserole on the table. "I know I haven't cooked for a while, but I don't think I completely lost my touch."

"No, not that. I just don't think I've eaten a meal with all of us here since like Thanksgiving. You couldn't stop barfing long enough for Christmas." she said as she passed the salad to Julia.

"Don't remind me," Charlie interjected.

"Where's Griffin?" Claudia asked.

"I think he had to work late, it doesn't matter," Julia said quietly. Her mood put a damper on the formerly festive nature.

Griffin walked in the kitchen as Julia finished the supper dishes.

"Where were you? You missed dinner." she asked.

"I was just trying to figure out what to do," Griffin answered.

"What to do?"

"Charlie talked to me this afternoon. He didn't seem to think we could get past this, but he did say one thing that made me have to figure out a way to try," Griffin answered.

"What was that?"

"He said you still love me. If that's true Julia, then I can't give up. We have to try something. I went to this clinic place and they have marriage counseling. It's on this sliding scale so we can afford it. Will you go?"

She stood there for a moment. It never had occurred to her that he would actually try to fix this problem. She knew that he loved her, but this was such an overt act of that love.

"Yes, I'll try it," she answered as she held her hand out to him. He took her outstretched hand and just held it.