Taking Care

Written by Rachel

This is new for me. This is a missing scene from the 4th season episode "Adjustments." Ever wonder what happened in the backyard after Charlie started to puke that he described the next day as "pretty intense?" This is my take on a possible situation.

Charlie reached for the garbage can again. How many times now? Three, four, five? He wasn't sure. That night's meatloaf had been the first to go, quickly followed by the fettucine he had grabbed from the restaurant on his way to the hospital. He may have even seen that morning's granola, although logically he knew it couldn't possibly still be in his system. As he dropped to the ground, his body shaking with dry heaves, he heard the back gate open. He didn't have the strength to even look to see who it was.

Griffin pushed the gate shut. It had been a long day. The shop was busy, but by undercutting the competitor's prices, he was still running heavily in the red. Besides, without Reed's help it was hard to stay on top of all the work. These thoughts racing through his head, he was almost literally on top of Charlie before he saw him.

"My god, what's going on?" he said dropping to one knee beside his brother-in-law. Charlie turned and looked at him weakly, no words coming from his mouth. "Hang on, man. I'll get some help," he said getting up and pulling open the French doors leading into the kitchen.

"Julia, Claudia," he called as he walked through the swinging door into the living room. Claudia was seated on the couch watching television.

"Where's Julia?" Griffin asked, his voice stressed.

"Upstairs with Owen. What's the matter?" Claudia asked, noting his distress.

"Charlie's sick. He's out back," Griffin said looking towards the stairs. "Go get Julia. I don't want to scare Owen, but I need her help."

"What's wrong? What do you mean . . . "

"Just go get Julia," Griffin interrupted, his fear causing him to be more brusque than he had intended.

Julia came downstairs quickly.

"What's wrong? Claud told me to get down here," she said looking around the room for the cause of all the commotion. Griffin motioned for her to follow him into the kitchen.

"Charlie's out back. He's really sick," Griffin said as they walked back out the French doors. Julia rushed to her brother's side. Since Griffin had gone into the house, he had pulled himself into a seated position leaning against the house.

"Oh, Charlie!" she exclaimed. He had done okay the first couple times, but there were small pieces of the vomit everywhere, on his face, beard, his vest and the shirt underneath. He seemed unaware of it all.

"Sorry Jule, it just hit me really hard," he said looking up at his sister.

"That's okay. Let's get you inside and cleaned up," she said helping him to his feet. Griffin moved to support him on the other side and they helped him into the house. He sat at the kitchen table while Julia went upstairs.

"Hey, done with Owen's bath?" Julia asked as she poked her head into the bathroom. She had tried to make her voice light, but Claudia knew something was definitely wrong. Fortunately, their little brother seemed oblivious to the on-going drama.

"Yeah," Claudia answered pushing Owen out of the bathroom ahead of her, in his footed pajamas and damp hair he was so cute. Claudia gave Julia a questioning look. What was happening with Charlie?

"Just get him into bed, anything you have to do," Julia said under her breath. Claudia nodded her head and pushed Owen into his room and closed the door behind them.

Julia rushed back downstairs. She and Griffin again helped Charlie, this time up the stairs and into the bathroom. Julia knelt down and started running a hot bath. Charlie seemed so out of it. It worried her. She motioned to Griffin to watch the bath water and headed into the hall.

Kirsten answered on the third ring.

"Oh, thank god you're home!" Julia exclaimed.

"What's the matter?" Kirsten asked.

Julia explained the situation and her fear that something serious might be wrong. Paul was at the hospital, but Kirsten confirmed Julia's initial reaction to get him cleaned up and into bed. She reminded Julia of the Pedialyte popsicles they kept for Owen to help with the dehydration Charlie would most likely be suffering from. After a few soothing words and a refused offer to come over and help, Julia hung up. She reentered the bathroom to find the bath drawn and Charlie sitting on the toilet in his boxer shorts.

"I'll put these in the wash," Griffin said moving towards the door with Charlie's soiled clothing. After his departure Julia and Charlie looked at each other for a moment. Finally Charlie cleared his throat.

"I think I can make it into the tub if you want to give me a little privacy."

She smiled and turned her back. He slipped his boxers down and stepped into the tub, grabbing the wall for support. Hearing the water splash she checked to see if the bubbles provided enough cover. Assured of that fact, she sat down on the toilet and reached for the sponge.

"Let me do your back?" she asked.

"That how it's going to be?" he asked. She knew instinctively he was asking more about people finding him half in the garbage can rather than about her washing his back.

"Nah, Charlie. This one just snuck up on us. Next time you feel sick, go puke in the toilet. I'll find you faster that way," she answered with a smile. "Besides, I consulted Nurse Kirsten and we agreed a hot bath and some Pedialyte would go a long way towards making you feel better."

"Pedialyte?" Charlie asked smiling as he pulled another dried chunk from his beard.

"Hey, having a toddler in the house has its benefits," she answered. Noting the change in his expression she continued, "Don't worry Charlie, Claud put him to bed. He doesn't have a clue."

Charlie nodded looking down at the wash cloth in his hand. He dipped it into the water and ran it over his face again clearing away the last of the vomit.

She knew Charlie was worried about Owen; about leaving him, screwing up somehow. But, she couldn't find the words to reassure her brother. She got up pulling a fresh towel from the closet.

"I'll go get that Pedialyte," she said as she walked to the door.

Julia found Griffin sitting at the kitchen table.

"Is he okay?" he asked looking over at her.

"Yeah, I think so. I think it really scared him."

"Hell, it scared me," he responded. "Should we call a doctor or something?"

"No, they said this would probably happen. I think Charlie just thought he would somehow not get sick from the treatment. But, Griffin . . . you being here, that made it easier, for all of us." She reached across the table and took his hand, kissing it gently. They would get through this, all of it. They had to.