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You're Not Alone

Guest RoRo90

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Thanks JarlieFanEver for the comment. Enjoy :)


"Can you just please tell us" His eyes filled with worry and hope

Doctor Williams nodded and opened his mouth in order to deliver the much anticipated news

Charlie wasn't sure where it came from but those same eye's shot at her. She hadn't envisioned them in a while but yet in this moment she could see them clear as day. Only now there was a clear face behind it…Brax. She jolted out of her sleep as her eyes shot open and immediately met the time on her bedside table, 4:28 but yet she couldn't concentrate on the early hours of the morning. As the memory of that day came back to her


She walked through the park aimlessly with a bag full of clothes in hand. She had been home two weeks and she couldn't take it anymore. She had returned ready to be the mother she knew Ruby needed but it seemed like she wasn't needed. Her parents didn't need her and most importantly Ruby didn't. Feeling defeated she stopped in front of a bench and lowered herself into it dumping her over fulled bag on the ground. Where was she to go? She couldn't go back to her aunt Michelle's and she felt more like a burden in the one place she wanted to be. Pulling on the cardigan she had on she sighed as the heat had increased with the day, the sun causing her to squint her eyes. Pulling the cardigan over her head, she pulled it off only to find a boy standing in front of her. She looked at him with questioning eyes as he peered down at her

She followed his gaze as he looked to the ground below her

"I need to get to the rubbish"

She looked at the piled up cans under the bench before looking back up at him and finally she noticed his attire. He stood in an of colour orange jumpsuit and black boots. As her gaze travelled up she examined his fair brown but rough hair but what caught her attention was his eyes. A pair of deep shaded emerald green eyes that dissolved into tiny specks of hazel

"Take a picture it would probably last longer" the boy glared at her a voice full of hostility as he proceeded to ignore her presence and decided to work around her instead. She watched him for a moment longer before shuffling her leg as he stuck the litter stick in his hand into an empty can

"I err… I wasn't trying to be rude" she said realising what he must have thought with her just staring at him but the young boy ignored her as he carried on working. Not having the energy to try and convince him she turned her gaze forward and moved further down the bench allowing him to get on with what he was doing.

Charlie sighed as her phone vibrated against her pocket and started ringing out. Pulling it out she silenced it and placed it in her lap. Within seconds the phone began ringing again, once again she silenced it but just like it had done before it started ringing again. Her dads number flashed against the screen and she wasn't sure what he would be thinking, what he and her mum must be thinking. She had left nothing to indicate where she may be, she hadn't even left a note. Her gaze lingered on the screen as she wondered whether to pick it or not. She had been a burden long enough she didn't need them worrying about where she was.

"Staring at it won't pick the call… you do know that"

Charlie's gaze shifted to the boy who had now seemingly moved a little closer to her as he continued sticking the litter stick into the trash around her and then into the bag in his hand. She looked back at her phone and silenced it by once again rejecting the call. She sighed in frustration as the boy spoke again

"Usually when someone calls you that many times or even once it means they want to talk" he carried on picking up the trash

"And usually when someone ignores you it means they don't want to talk" she looked at him pointedly

"Point taken" the young boy finally stopped what he was doing and looked down at her. She could feel him judging her with his gaze. Her phone bleeped and she opened up the message

*Charlie please come back home. Your mum and I are worried and Ruby needs her mum*

It couldn't be helped. She had held on to them since she hastily packed that morning and left the house, but now sat on a park bench with no one she cared about to witness it, a tear finally fell. Charlie let them linger for a moment before she wiped her tears away with her hand. Still feeling the boys gaze on her she looked up at him

"What?" she looked at him in clear annoyance

The young boy simply shook his head "If ignoring whoever it is that is trying to call you is upsetting you so much why not just stop ignoring them" he made it sound so simple, but Charlie knew too well nothing was ever black and white. Her gaze searched the park looking for another free bench, she didn't want to talk. The young boy seemed to have noticed what she was doing

"Don't worry I'm almost done" he resumed his work and she looked over at him. Once again she took in his attire; she was sure he couldn't be much older than her

"How old are you?"

The boy didn't stop working "I was under the impression you wanted to be left alone"

Charlie stared at him not replying to his words. a few moments passed and she finally turned her gaze forward


Charlie turned back to him and nodded somewhat surprised he had answered her but she didn't know what to say. How did someone at that age already find himself on the wrong side of the law "Shouldn't you be at school or something instead of… here" she tried to keep judgement from her voice. The young boy chuckled

"By the looks of your bag and the fact that you ignoring those calls I'd say you're not where you're meant to be either"

Charlie couldn't reply; he was right. This wasn't where she was supposed to be, this wasn't how her life was supposed to turn out.

"I don't know where I'm meant to be anymore" the words left her mouth before she had even thought them through. She noticed the bag in the boys hand was now full and he had tied the ends together, she looked back down into her lap expecting him to leave and go about his way

"I'm no genius but I'd say start with whoever it is that's calling you. The way you were looking at your phone you obviously want to answer it plus…" he pointed down at her bags "I don't think sleeping in this park would be a good idea" picking up the bag he turned around and began walking away

"And cleaning it is?"

The boy turned around and gave her a smirk "Believe it or not I'm not doing this because I want to. If I could be at home in front of the TV, I would be there in a flash"

"So what did you do?" she had no idea why she was asking these questions

The young boy cocked an eyebrow "You ask a lot of questions you know"

Charlie shrugged "I'm not forcing you to answer them"

The boy nodded "No you're not" he stared at her for a moment longer "So what you running away from?"

Charlie shifted in her seat clearly uncomfortable with the question but the young boy didn't back down. Her gaze flickered to her bag and then back up at Boy


He nodded but didn't ask for her to elaborate

"You didn't answer my question. What did you do?" asked Charlie

The boy tilted his head to the side slightly "Put food on the table"

As he had done Charlie also didn't ask for an elaboration, she simply nodded her head before her phone went off. She sighed as she looked down at the screen

Picking up the plastic bag and swinging it over his shoulders the young boy went to walk away but gave Charlie one last look

"I don't know what's got you feeling like you have to run but its obvious you have people who care about you and I'm not a mind reader but the way you're looking at that phone I would say you care about them too. I wouldn't throw that away… some people would kill to have just one person who cared about them. Plus running won't fix 'everything', all your problems will still be with you wherever you go"

Charlie had her gaze locked against his and unknowingly she stored away the eyes that peered back at her. They were filled with honesty she hadn't seen before and although not sure of herself; she sensed she saw a little bit of vulnerability in them contradicting the rest of him. Charlie looked back down at the message that had come through her phone

*We just want to know you're ok Charlie. Please call, we Love you*

Everyone had tried but no words were enough to make her really want to try; but a few words from a boy she didn't know and here she sat wanting nothing more than to be in her house with her parents and her daughter. He was right her problems would still be her problems no matter where she was. Looking back up she found the boy was already walking away and back to the others in similar attire as him

"Hy" she stood slowly to her feet.

The boy stopped and turned to look at her

"You're pretty smart for a guy in an orange jumpsuit"

He nodded "So I've been told"

Charlie smiled from the corner of her mouth "Well if you're really smart you'll do your best to get out of that orange jumpsuit and stay out of it too" Charlie bent over and picked up her bag. She looked at him at as he spoke

"What if my best isn't good enough?" he cocked an eyebrow at her

Charlie looked at him blankly for a moment; he was asking her a question she had asked herself more times than she could recall. A small smile tugged at her lips as she remembered a saying her dad had embed in her head since she was a kid

"Only you can make your own destiny, no one else; you just have to believe in yourself hard enough to try"

She peered at him a moment longer till he nodded his head lightly at her, a gesture she returned before both of them turned around walking in opposite directions


It was him

Charlie pulled herself up on her bed as for the first time she could see the young boys face clearly, the dimples in his cheeks when he smirked, his emerald green eyes that threatened to tell more than he wanted the world to know. It was Brax; Brax had been the nameless boy she had been grateful to have run into. In the short time she had spent in his presence he had done what others had failed to do. 16 years ago he had given her the courage to want to try, the courage to fight her demons.

Walking down the beach Ruby peered down at her phone again but yet still no reply. She sighed as she continued on her walk only to stop as she spotted him sitting on the sand not too far from her. She tried to read him from where she was stood in anticipation on how things had gone at the hospital that morning. It had been on her mind since the night before and she could tell Charlie had been thinking about it too. Walking towards him slowly she let out a deep breath before speaking

"Casey" she looked down at him as he peered up at her but still his face gave nothing away

"Hy Ruby" there was nothing different in his smile.

Ruby searched his face trying to get something and the longer she searched the more she felt her stomach turn in knots. If it had been good news he would be jumping with joy, he would be smiling the way she had imagined him to, but he sat the same and smiled the same

"I err…did you not see my text?" she questioned. She had wanted to know the results from the hospital but now she wanted to put it off for as long as possible

"Sorry I must have left it at home. My mind was all over the place this morning"

Ruby nodded her eyes still fixed on him

"You not gonna sit?" asked Casey

Ruby smiled and lowered herself to the sand, tucking her feet under her. Neither of the two spoke as they stared out at the ocean and the people laughing and enjoying themselves without a care in the world. Suddenly Casey spoke

"These last five to six months have been so surreal. I swear I sometimes forget that it's my life" Ruby listened to his words but didn't speak nor did her gaze move from the ocean. She sat waiting for him to tell her what she feared was true

"The unbelievable part is I almost gave up so many times and now…" Casey paused as he looked around "and now even after all this I'm finally gonna get to be me again "

Ruby's head snapped towards him; as her eyebrows creased together as she looked at him. She watched as he turned to her and suddenly his smile changed, the corners of his lips lifted higher than she had seen them before and his hazel eyes peered at her brightly.

"Are you err…" She didn't want to speak the words only for him to tell her she was wrong

A chuckle left Casey's lips as he nodded his head seemingly aware of what she was asking "I am. I am officially in remission"

"You're in remission? The cancer is gone?" Ruby asked not once blinking

Casey nodded "The cancer is gone" he laughed as Ruby let out a breath and wrapped her arms around his neck

"I'm really happy for you Casey" she let go of him and shook her head "But really you should have led with that. You had me worried"

"Sorry I just- it feels surreal. I found myself almost waiting for the doctor to say he had made a mistake. You should have seen the look on Brax and Heath's face when he said it was good news" Casey sighed and shook his head "I can't remember the last time I heard Brax laugh like that…or Heath. They just looked beyond relieved; No more chemo and Brax and Heath can finally stop worrying about me"

Ruby smiled over at him "I don't think Heath and Brax will ever stop worrying about you but it's good to know I can"

"Well it's good to know you were worried about me" Casey grinned

Ruby shook her head "I wish I could say it felt good to be worying about you but it didn't… It sucked" Both her and Casey laughed

A smile appeared on the doctors face and Brax thought he was imagining it but Doctor Williams's next words cleared that thought

"It's good news guys" he peered at all three of them before his gaze settled on Casey "You are officially in remission Casey; the chemo worked. There are no existing signs of any lymph nodes old or new"

Brax let out another jagged laugh as he downed the shot of bourbon along with Heath. Heath chuckled as he placed his glass down on the bar

"He did it" he grinned with content "I can't believe it's all over" Heath buried his head in his hand and a breath that had been long locked away passed his lips. If asked he couldn't describe the way he felt waiting for the doctor to say something, waiting to find out the fate of not just Casey's life but his and Brax's too. And it turned out Brax was right; he had once said they didn't need their parents to get by and Heath had long doubted it, but Brax was right. It was just the three of them and they were going to be just fine

"Where've you been?" Heath looked in the direction Brax had directed his question to and saw Casey walking into the restaurant with Ruby beside him

"Just down the beach" replied Casey as he took a seat on the stool next to Heath

"Hi Heath, Brax" Ruby smiled at them before sitting on the stool beside Casey

"I take it knuckle head told you the good news" said Heath and Ruby nodded

"Yeah he did, although he made me sweat for it" Ruby gave a light chuckle "Mum will be so glad when I tell her"

Brax nodded "How is Charlie doing?"

Ruby gave a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes "Not bad. She's having a good day today… Practically forced me out the house"

Brax nodded sensing she didn't want to talk about Charlie "Well how about I feed ya. Pizza to go round?" he cocked an eyebrow

"That sounds good" smiled Ruby

Ruby smiled as she walked into the house "You have a visitor mum"

Charlie looked up from the couch her legs curled underneath her body with a grey wrapper covering her and smiled as Brax walked in behind Ruby. Her gaze flickered questioningly between both Brax and Ruby, her eyes hopeful

Brax nodded a grin breaking out on his face "He's in remission. The chemo worked"

Charlie chuckled and shifted so her body was facing Brax "I knew he was going to be just fine. I can't even begin to imagine how relieved all three of you must be feeling"

"That great news Brax" Bianca smiled at him from the couch on the opposite side of the room

"Thanks" Brax smiled his gaze flickering to Bianca before moving back to Charlie's. Ruby had said she was having a good day but it didn't seem like it.

"I err I was dropping Ruby off and just wanted to see how you're doing" said Brax shuffling on his feet slightly

The memory of that morning came back to Charlie as she watched him. The image of the boy in the orange jumpsuit was placed against the one that stood before her now. She wondered when he had changed. Was it that day? Did she somehow manage to make him see there was more to life than what he was doing but most importantly she wondered if he remembered? If he remembered that day or even the girl he had spoken to

"I'm better than I was yesterday" She smiled up at him

"I just going to nip out and see Irene...I told her I wold try and see her today" Bianca stood to her feet "I won't be long"

Charlie nodded as Bianca slipped her thongs on giving Brax a final smile before leaving the house

"Do you want something to drink Brax?" asked Ruby as she walked out of the kitchen

"No thanks not staying long"

"I guess you guys are going to celebrate?" asked Charlie

"Heath's insisting and honestly so am I" he smiled. His smile faltered when he saw Ruby's saddened gaze as she looked down at Charlie. Things may have turned out well for Casey but he knew this only reminded Ruby and Charlie of what was still to come. And he knew too well they would only be praying Charlie survived the same outcome

"I'm gonna go give April a call. I told her I would when I got in. She wants to come over"

Charlie nodded at Ruby's words as she walked down the hall and into her room. She turned to Brax as he spoke

"I'm sorry. I'm the idiot standing here babbling over my own good news when…"

Charlie shook her head "No Brax she's happy for Casey trust me. Before she left the house she was looking down at that phone of her's every five seconds waiting to hear how it went. She's very fond of Casey; and I'm happy for him too, all three of you actually. I know how hard it's been on you and Heath"


"No Brax, you're my friend, Ruby and Casey are friends and friends share good news with each other. So friend… are you in too much of a hurry to sit for five minutes?"

Brax smiled at her before sitting beside her. Examining her composure he exhaled lightly "So a scale of one to ten how you really feeling?"

Charlie blinked, her smile falling "Honestly?"

"Honestly" replied Brax

"One being the lowest and ten the highest, I think it's safe to say I'm at a three maybe three and a half"

A strand hair fell onto Charlie's face and she pushed her hand through her hair tucking it behind her hair. Pulling her hand back Brax watched the hair that lay lifeless in between her fingers. He watched her as she stared down at her hand her eyes glazing over. Without delay she pushed her hand into the pocket of the jumper she was wearing

"I shouldn't be keeping you, you should get to Casey" her gaze never meeting his

Brax sat for a moment and he studied her till he moved closer to her slightly and brought his hand forward gently placing it on her lower arm. Pulling her arm out of the jumper gently he looked down at her balled up fist; and lowered his hand till it was wrapped lightly around her wrist As she tried to pull away he tightened his grip slightly careful not to apply to much pressure. He looked up at her but her gaze still refused to meet his. Slowly using his free hand he uncurled her fingers till he could see the heavy strands of hair that lay within her hand. A sigh left his lips as he looked up to find she was now staring into her hand.

"It's just hair Charlie… it's takes nothing from you"

"It's not just hair. I…" Charlie cleared her throat and closed her eyes

"Not trying to give you a big head or anything but hair or no hair, Charlie you're beautiful"

A tear finally fell from her eye, landing in her palm as she shook her head softly "There's nothing beautiful about this"

"Hy" Brax lowered his head trying to catch her eye till finally she looked at him. He shook his head taken aback by the look in her eye

"Your hair doesn't define who you are Charlie. Your strength, the kind of person you are that's what makes you. I get that we haven't known each other for long but never once have I been dishonest to you and I'm not going to start now. So when I say you're beautiful you have to take my word for it"

Charlie looked up at him and smiled "You always say I have a way with words but I'm nothing compared to you"

Brax chuckled "Well it's easy when it's the truth"

"And there he goes again" Charlie chuckled as Brax grinned

"So you ok?" he asked

Charlie nodded "Yeah I'm ok"

Brax grinned "And I think bald headed girls are sexy… just saying"

Charlie laughed and Brax watched as the corners of her lips lifted, her laughter somehow seeming to make being there all the more worthwhile. Her laughter finally subsided and she looked at Brax a smile firmly pressed on her face

"Thank you"

"What for?" asked Brax

"For always knowing exactly what to say"

"Anytime. But next time I'm charging you"

Once again Charlie laughed and Brax found it contagious as a smile spread on his face

"And I'll be more than willing to pay for your services"

Brax cocked an eyebrow "Don't speak too soon. I haven't named my price yet"

Charlie smiled and Brax looked up as Ruby walked into the living room. She looked down at Charlie and smiled before looking up at Brax "First you get her to eat and now you have her laughing. I might just have to bride you to move in"

Brax chuckled "It's the Braxton charm. I can't help it"

Ruby and Charlie chuckled as Brax advanced towards the door

"I have to get going before Heath empties the bar. I'll see the both of you later"

"Bye" Both Ruby and Charlie spoke in unison

"Bye" Shutting the door behind him he took one final glance back at the house before getting into his car and driving off

"You're cheating" Heath shook his head as Casey revealed another full house, sporting a grin along with it "There is no way you have won the last four rounds without cheating"

Casey laughed as he pulled the dollar bills towards him "Heath nobody likes a sore loser" he quickly ducked back as Heath went to punch him

Brax chuckled as he watched on

"I'm not a sore loser I just know you ain't this good"

Casey placed his hand on his heart feigning offence "Your lack of confidence in me hurts Heath. I have always been this good. But if you really want to prove yourself we can go another round" Casey grinned in Heaths direction as Heath took a swing of his beer before scoffing at Casey

"I don't think so. I've already handed over 50 bucks playing this stupid game"

"You suggested it" spoke Brax as he took a slice of pizza from the box

"Yeah thanks Einstein" Heath rolled his eyes at him

Casey laughed and shook his head "I may not be saying this by next week, hell I might even change my mind by tomorrow but I have missed this" he smiled at his brothers "the three of us goofing around"

Brax and Heath returned his smile and nodded

"And I've also missed this" Casey waved the bills in front of their faces

"What rinsing money out of us" Brax questioned with a chuckle

"Well yeah that but I meant beating you guys at everything" he grinned cheekily at the two of them

Brax and Heath laughed "Just so it's fair. Once your back to full health we'll hit the waves and see how far you get out there"

"I take you up on that challenge and when I do win like I always do. You're to wait on me for a whole day and I'll do the same for you if you win"

Heath grinned and stuck his arm out "Deal"

"Not deal" Brax shook his head "I want in. I would love to put the both of you to work"

"That's fine by me" Grinned Heath

Casey chuckled "remember the last time we made a bet"

Brax burst out laughing as Heath grimaced "How could I forget, the best bet ever"

"You made a very pretty girl Heath" Casey mocked him remembering Heath in the pink dress and black heels parading through their street in the city before they moved to the bay

"I still can't believe Mrs Grimshaw called the police" spoke Brax trying to contain his laughter unlike Casey who lowered his head into his lap as he laughed harder

"The look on your face when she chased you down the street with that bat; Priceless"

Heath frowned as Brax also burst out laughing "Haha funny"

"It was wasn't it" chuckled Brax as his and Casey's laughter slowly subsided "Don't worry I have plenty of pictures so you never have to worry about forgetting that day"

Heath scowled at Brax "Brax if those pictures ever see day light…"

Brax shook his head "Na I'm saving these ones for the girls you bring home. I have to let them know what they're getting themselves into"

"You wouldn't dare" Heath glared at Brax

"We'll see" Brax grinned widely before downing the rest of his beer.

Casey yawned and smiled at Brax and Heath "I think I'm going to call it a night… I'm beat" it was only just past nine but unlike before neither of the two worried about Casey's tried state. They knew it would take some time for him to get back to his old self or even close but the important thing was that he wold get there

Casey stood slowly to his feet and smiled as Brax and Heath stood as well. They may no longer have the fear of losing him but it seemed old habits die hard

"Guys I can make it to my room by myself" he chuckled and shook his head as they nodded and Heath sat back down and Brax picked up the empty beer bottles "I will never say this ever again" spoke Casey "But you guys are pretty great"

Brax and Heath smiled at him as he walked down the hall

"Tell me something I don't already know" Heath shouted just as Casey was closing his door. He chuckled as he heard the familiar sound of Brax's hand sounded against Heath's head.

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"Guys I can make it to my room by myself" he chuckled and shook his head as they nodded and Heath sat back down and Brax picked up the empty beer bottles "I will never say this ever again" spoke Casey "But you guys are pretty great"

Brax and Heath smiled at him as he walked down the hall

"Tell me something I don't already know" Heath shouted just as Casey was closing his door. He chuckled as he heard the familiar sound of Brax's hand sounded against Heath's head.

Charlie sat staring at herself; the same two eyes, and the same body yet so different. She could just about barley remember the person she used to be, before all of this. She felt worlds apart from that person and the pain she felt was different. Her countless sleepless nights had contradicted her pale skin and left dark circles around her eyes and for a brief moment she closed her eyes trying to remember her old self but she was nowhere to be found. However unlike before the thought of this didn't make her want to cry out, instead she embraced it. She opened her eyes and examined her pale and thinned skin but she refused to allow herself be consumed with sorrow. Life had dealt a nasty blow but if she couldn't believe in herself then who would. She smiled when she realised Bianca and Ruby had yet replied to what she had said

"You want to what?" Bianca finally spoke looking at Charlie in disbelief as Ruby's eye's remained widened slightly

"I want to cut my hair"

"All of it?" asked Ruby and Charlie nodded with a light chuckled

"Yea all of it, It's all falling out anyway, so why prolong it"

Bianca and Ruby glanced at one another

"Mum are you sure?" Ruby looked at Charlie hesitantly

Charlie sat in front of the mirror in her room and smiling. The thought of losing all her hair had terrified her, she felt it stamped her to the outside world but somehow Brax's visita few days before had changed all that. She wasn't sure what it was about him that made her feel better, he could say the exact same thing as another person but it always seemed to make more sense leaving his lips. She chuckled and shook her head when she remembered his comment about finding bald headed girls sexy. Only he could make a joke out of something like that. She looked up from the mirror to see Ruby and Bianca looking at her with worried demeanours

"I'm sure. I don't want to sit around watching strand after strand fall out till I'm bald. I just want to get it over and done with; you know like ripping a band aid off"

Bianca looked at her for a moment longer before sighing "Knowing you, you would probably suit a bald head"

Ruby chuckled "True"

"Well then what are we waiting for?"

Bianca and Ruby looked at one another "Well we're all girls Charlie, none of us own clippers"

Charlie's shoulders sagged as she chewed on the inside of her mouth. She turned to the bathroom hoping they were still there

"Angelo used to keep one in the back of the cabinet in the bathroom. It should be in a wooden box"

Bianca stood from the edge of the bed and walked into the bathroom. Finding the box she pulled it out and opened it to find the clipper sitting inside "At least he's good for something" she murmured under her breath as she waked out of the bathroom

"Find it?" asked Charlie

Bianca nodded and held the clipper up "Found it"

Charlie smiled nervously as she turned back to the mirror "Right… I'm ready"

Bianca walked up behind her "Here Ruby" she pressed the clipper into Ruby's hands "You do it"

Charlie chuckled "It's only hair Bianca"

"No, I don't want to be held responsible if this goes horribly wrong"

Ruby scoffed "Thanks"

Bianca shrugged with a grin "Please, you're the daughter if you mess it up she'll just have to suck it up, But I'm the best friend and if I do I'll never hear the end of it"

Two weeks later

Each day seemed to be dragging on for what felt like a life time and Ruby wasn't sure if that was a good thing or bad. She had broken her daily routine of pacing straight from school back home to be with her mum. Today she hadn't turned at the path that led to their house; instead she followed the emerging traces of sand with her bare feet till it led her to the tip of the ocean. She allowed the calmness of the ocean sweep over her bare legs, hoping they would even if only for a second take her mind from the one thought that never left… cancer. She felt a feeling of guilt consumer her at the thought, when she knew Charlie couldn't escape it. Her gaze traced the water lapping against her feet and the happiness she had always felt when she enveloped herself with the calmness of the ocean wasn't there today… instead she felt a sense of emptiness. She tried to stop the constant nagging voice in her head that kept asking what if Charlie didn't make it, what if fate was going to take her mum from her and truly leave her to face this world on her own. Ruby hadn't realised she had walked further into the ocean and the water was now touching the hem of her school uniform, until a voice broke her from her daze

"You do know that to people passing by, this sight is a little worrying"

Ruby turned her head slightly but enough to see Heath standing behind her left hand side. She turned her head back to the ocean and looked down to find the water had now reached her thighs but she couldn't feel a thing, she couldn't have told someone if asked whether the ocean was warm or cold. She lifted her gaze and took a step back but kept her back to Heath

"I was just thinking"

Heath nodded, his eyebrows knitting together "Well I don't know about the people who are looking at you like you are suicidal, but I would feel a lot better if you did your thinking on dry land"

His words caused Ruby to look around and indeed, a few people where looking at her some with worried eyes and some clearly wondering if she had a few screws loose. She exhaled and looked back out into the ocean taking a few more steps back till the water only just about touched her feet

"Better?" she asked but still didn't turn

Heath nodded "Much" Heath shuffled from one foot to another unsure what to say or do. He had been around Ruby quiet a lot but they had never actually held a conversation. A few jokes had passed between the two but nothing more. Heath suddenly wished Casey was with him; he was her friend he would know what to do or say. He sighed as she stood her gaze still unmoved from the ocean

"You still thinking?" he asked somewhat uncomfortably, Ruby must have sensed this and she finally turned from the ocean and looked at him

"Unfortunately. But I'm fine… I'm guessing you were on your way out for surf" she looked down at the board in his hand before looking back up at him

"Yep… but I couldn't just leave you; Casey would have my head"

She looked at him, confused by his words but Heath quickly shook his head dismissing his statement "I would ask what you were thinking about but I think I know"

Ruby chuckled lightly and cocked an eyebrow in surprise "Is this the start of a conversation?" Ruby had spent enough time with Casey, Brax and Heath to work out that Heath avoided conversations that entailed talking about feelings. She noted that he tended to hide behind his jokes when conversation took a serious turn

Heath grinned "I know, I'm surprising myself too" he took his board from under his arm and dug it into the sand before sitting down his feet bent; his arms propped up on them

Ruby's surprised expression grew as she looked down at him; Casey she had expected this from and Brax yes but Heath, she almost expected him to crack some sort of joke but he just sat looking at her

"So we gonna do this whole conversation thing or what?"

Ruby walked closer to him and slowly sat beside him both of them sitting without a word for a few minutes. Till Ruby spoke

"Did you ever just want to forget… pretend it wasn't real?"

Heath exhaled and chuckled lightly "I did… I think I even managed it for a while" Ruby looked at him with questioning eyes and Heath cocked his head slightly to one side "I wouldn't advice you do what I did but I turned into a worse version of myself. Focused on being as stupid as I possibly could" he paused as he turned from Ruby and watched the waves lapping against each other "I drank every day for about a month straight and I can't even recall the number of fights I got into. Physical pain seemed to block out any other sort of pain… well for a while at least"

"So drinking and fighting helped?" Ruby asked unconvinced

Heath shook his head "No they just gave me other things to focus on, but then when all the alcohol was gone and there was no one left to fight with… everything else hit me like a bitch" Heath paused and looked at her "Don't tell Brax I swore in front of you, or your mum… most definitely not your mum"

Ruby chuckled and shook her head "I'll try and keep it under wraps" she brought her knees up wrapping her arms around them "It feels like it's never going to end… and she just seems to be getting worse. Some days she almost seems like her old self the another days..." a sigh let her lips as she thought of how frail Charlie had looked that morning

"You know there was a time when Casey was really bad I mean worse than you had seen him. And although when the doctor said this I wanted to punch him square in the face it makes sense now"

"What did he say?" asked Ruby

"Things are going to get worse before they get better"

"How much worse" Ruby sighed

Heath shrugged "I can't answer that but I've seen you with Casey and I'd bet money that you're a lot stronger than you think. You probably couldn't see it because you weren't around him before but you really helped Casey"

Ruby shook her head "I didn't do anything"

"You did more than you think, he's a lot different when he's around you and I bet you do a lot more for your mum than you think too"

"I don't know about that"

"Well we'll just agree to disagree then"

Ruby smiled at Heath's words "You're a lot more like Casey and Brax than I thought"

Heath scoffed "Please I'm a lot more than them two. In looks, charms and the rest"

Ruby chuckled and shook her head as he returned to the Heath she was accustomed to "And he's back"

Heath grinned at her before catching sight of Casey who was walking over to them "I can't have everyone knowing how good a conversationalist I am…it takes away from the mystery" he stood to his feet picked up his board and looked down at her; his expression turning a little serious "Next time you want to think please stay away from the ocean… you might just give our boy an heart attack if anything happened to you" he nodded at Casey leaving Ruby with the same confused expression as he jogged away from her, patting Casey on the back before he disappeared into the ocean.

"Hy" Casey smiled down at her before taking the place Heath had previously occupied

"Hy" Ruby smiled over at him taking in his appearance. His last chemo session had been a month ago and the changes in his appearance had begun to show. His skin no longer held the same pale mask she had always known him with; although not as deep a tan as his brothers his face had started turning a nice golden brown and seemed somewhat fuller, and there was the slight growth of hair forming on his head. Not even thinking about it she lifted her hands and ran them over his head and smiled as she withdrew her hand "You actually have hair…well at least a tiny stubble of hair, on your head" Ruby squinted her eyes at her own use of words

Casey chuckled as nodded "Yea, I've been bald for so long it feels weird"

"Well from what I can see of it I would say I'm gonna prefer you much more with hair" Ruby giggles lightly as he poked her side

"I had plenty of girls that digged my bald head"

Ruby scrunched her nose "I think they were just being nice" she giggled as he poked her side again. She looked at him and smiled "I'm really glad you're ok"

Casey nodded and sighed as he looked at her "How's your mum?"

Not taking her gaze from him, Ruby smiled sadly "Not so good… but on the bright side it's her last day of chemo tomorrow morning"

Casey nodded in understanding he didn't need to be told the last session seemed to be the worse "And then she's having surgery right?"

Ruby nodded "Yea" she took her gaze from his as she felt her tears coming to the surface. Unable to stop them she quickly wiped them as they fell

"I'm really scared… even more scared than I was when I found out about the cancer"

Casey shuffled against the sand and put his arm around her shoulder allowing her rest her head on his. He didn't say a word knowing from experience no words could make it better, so instead he let her cry and did what others had done for him so many times… just be there for her

Charlie, Ruby and Bianca sat in the plastic chairs waiting as the time ticked by. Charlie's chemo session was to start at 10 and although it had only just clocked 9:40 they had already been sat waiting for fifteen minutes. Charlie looked to her left to find Ruby picking at her nails and then turned to Bianca to find her drumming the heel of her foot against the floor. She sighed and ran her hand over her scarfed head. Ruby had helped her tie a silky brown scarf around her head this morning, this one so far being Charlie's favourite.

She remembered staring into the mirror as the razor took the last of her hair. She remembered the initial feeling of being able to see her own scalp…but it wasn't that of lose; t felt more like a new beginning. She must have been lost in her own mind longer than she had thought because she turned her head slightly to see a nurse making her way over to them. Looking at the clock on the wall it was now 9:55

Charlie couldn't help but chuckle as Ruby and Bianca stood to their feet with speed either side of her. She slowly stood and sighed thankfully as Ruby and Bianca gave her a helping hand. It seemed her strength had decided to abandon her today. Her body felt limp and she was more tired than she could remember being before. She looked up at the nurse to find her looking at her with sympathy she neither wanted or needed

"We'll get you prepped now, Doctor Walker will be with you soon" the nurse gave a sad smile that Charlie chose to ignore as the nurse led them to her room

Charlie couldn't help the sigh of relief that left her lips when she lowered herself into the comfort of the same chair she had occupied at each of these sessions. Ruby and Bianca stood back allowing the nurse set everything up around Charlie.

"I'll be back soon" The nurse had done everything apart from put the needle into Charlie's arm as she left the room. Before the door had, had time to shut behind her, Sid walked into the room

"Charlie" he seemed to be the only one at the hospital that gave her a genuine smile and Charlie was grateful for it

"Sid" she smiled at him as she brushed her thumb against the leather arms of her chair

"So I just wanted to see you before the session started" he walked further into the room as Ruby and Bianca sat on the chairs closest to Charlie their full attention now on Sid "I figured I should give you a proper run through of what will happen after this session"

Charlie nodded her head

"As you know the chemo sessions you have been having have been to help shrink the cancer so we have a better chance of removing it all during the surgery" Charlie nodded at Sid's words "After your last session I will be scheduling you to come in a few weeks as we will need to run some tests before deciding when best to carry out your surgery"

"What types of tests? Asked Bianca

"We will need to carry out a full blood work and also a complete physical. The blood tests will include blood counts and clotting factors and the physical will include a cardiogram which will help determine whether your body is ready for surgery or not"

"Clotting factors? Ruby questioned the anguish in her voice laced thickly

"Some patients have been known to have certain blood issues that make surgery a lot riskier as they are more prone to developing blood clots during or after surgery. It's nothing that can't be controlled but we will need to know beforehand so we know the best precaution to take to stop it from happening"

Ruby nodded as did Bianca

"So you will be sure that there are no risks before she goes in for the surgery" Bianca clarified his words

Sid nodded "That's what we aim for. Although there are certain factors that may occur during or even after the surgery that we can't predict, we will do our best to make sure everything runs smoothly"

Ruby and Bianca nodded again seemingly satisfied with his response

Sid looked at Charlie "It's important that you know that we don't know how well the chemo as worked so far" he paused before speaking again "or if it has worked. All this will be determined when you come in for you examination"

Charlie bit the inside of her cheeks aimlessly and Bianca and Ruby exhaled both seeming to try and catch a breath. They had read every single leaflet on the subject on Charlie's cancer and Ruby and Bianca had gone the extra mile of looking up all there was to know online; so Sid's words had been expected but it didn't stop it from burning

"So if it hasn't worked she will have to do chemo all over again?" asked Ruby

Sid nodded "I it seems the chemo hasn't successfully affected the cancer we will most probably look into starting here on another stronger round of chemo"

All was silent for a few seconds until Sid spoke again "But if everything goes well and we hope it does and you pass your blood and physical test… we will schedule you for your surgery immediately"

"And if I don't pass the blood work and physical test, what then?" asked Charlie

"We'll have to wait. There are different things we can put you on to try and sort out the issue of blood clot but if you're not deemed physically strong enough surgery will be too risky so we will have to wait. We want to get in there as soon as possible but not at the risk of your life"

Charlie nodded at his words

"So after this she just goes home and waits until her examination?" asked Bianca and Sid nodded

"Yes. Hopefully with some rest, her physical state will be strong enough by then" Sid sighed as he looked at all three of them "I'll be back at the end of your session" another smile and he was gone and in entered the nurse as she finally pricked Charlie's frail skin with the needle, checking everything over one final time before leaving the room and closing the door behind her. Charlie lay her head back onto the softness of the chair as she felt the fluid running through her arm and enveloping her whole body.

Minutes after minutes passed and not a word was spoken. Charlie glanced at Ruby and Bianca but all they offered were smiles no words. Charlie sighed and unsure why a memory came back to her; the corners of her lips curled up and laughter left her lips

"What?" Ruby asked with a raised eyebrow

Charlie shook her head "I just remembered that time I came home for a few months and we went to that fair in the city when you was seven. Remember the clown"

Bianca shuddered and frowned at the memory but Ruby chuckled, Charlie had told it so many times that Ruby had never forgotten that day

"I really wish we would forget that" Bianca pursed her lips together as she remembered the clown

"Never" Charlie chuckled "Your face when that clown jumped out at us…I have never heard such an ear piercing scream in my life"

"Look we all know I had clowns… I 'm still not sure how I let you con me into going anywhere near that place"

"If I remember correctly it was this" Ruby pouted her lips her dark brown eyes widening sweetly. She may be a lot older but she could still perfectly perform that look that gets her almost anything

Bianca scoffed "Urgh, I hate that look"

Ruby chuckled

"I think the funniest part was when Ruby turned to you with her hands on her hips with her head tilted slightly...and what was it she said"

Bianca chuckled "Bee it's not a real clown. And then you started shaking your head at me before saying 'anyways only babies are scared of clowns and you not a baby" Bianca shook her head at the memory "You looked like a right little madam"

Ruby chuckled "Well I was just being honest… only babies are scared of clowns"

"Oi clowns are scary, baby or not"

"If you say so" Ruby and Charlie chuckled for a while longer before once again silence enveloped the room.

As Charlie was about to speak up there was a light tap on the door before it slowly edged open. Charlie smiled as Casey stuck his head through the door

"Casey" Ruby smiled up at him but was clearly confused as to what he was doing there "There's nothing wrong is there?"

Casey shook his head before being pushed into the room "Just get inside… you look like a peeping tom" Ruby couldn't help but chuckle slightly as Heath came into view but her questioning gaze still remained on Casey as Heath walked over to the chair on the far end of the room and sat down

Casey shook his head and rolled his eyes at Heath "You told me Charlie's last session was today so we figured we would come keep you company; that's if you want it" he shuffled lightly on his feet

Charlie and Bianca gave each other a knowing look before turning back to Casey "That's really nice of you Casey" Charlie smiled at him and turned to Heath "And you too Heath" she hadn't spoken to Heath much and was surprised he had taken the time, before Casey spoke

"Yea when I said we I didn't mean Heath… he decided to tag along at the last minute" Charlie frowned at him but the expression soon disappeared as Brax walked through the door

"Brax" Charlie smiled up at him and suddenly remembering her new hairstyle she felt slightly self-conscious, but the feelingit was gone as soon as it had arrived as Brax smiled at her

"You're making this whole being your friend thing really hard" Brax put on a serious face

"What do you mean? Charlie asked. Ruby and Bianca also looked up at him unsure of what he was saying

"I tell you I have a thing for bald headed chicks and then you go and cut your hair… you don't make it easy for a guy do you"

Ruby and Bianca looked at him confused then at Charlie as she laughed at his words. She finally stopped and looked at him "Well if I promise to keep the scarf on I'm sure you can resist me"

Brax grinned as he finally closed the door and sat on the small couch besides Casey "Not sure if that will make any difference but I'll try"

He held Charlie's gaze for a moment and Ruby and Bianca looked between the two of them before looking at each other both with suggestively raised eyebrows

"Not sure if you're up for it but I really didn't want to brutally subject you to Heath's jokes all morning so I brought some game's… Ruby brought them to a couple of my chemo sessions and it seems they actually have the ability to distract you for a while" Casey smiled at Ruby who was already returning the smile

Charlie smiled at the young boys thoughtfulness "Depends what you've got"

"I've got scrabble, guess who and monopoly"

"Monopoly" Bianca spoke with a sly grin on her face

Ruby bowed her head and chuckled "We're all in for it now"

"Hy, I can't help it if I always win" spoke Bianca

Heath scoffed as he dragged his chair closer to the rest and Brax and Casey rolled the eyes knowing full well what was coming "Not if I'm playing you won't" it didn't matter that it wasn't real money, Heath was always out to win

Bianca narrowed her eyes at him and Charlie and Ruby had to stifle their laughter, they knew too well how competitive Bianca could be and it seemed Heath was about to find out "I like taking money from arrogant people… it's just so much more fun"

Charlie sighed "I've said it before Bee and I'll say it again…it's not real money"

"That's not the point" replied Bianca

"No you're right, the point is neither of you are going to win" added Brax as he stood to his feet pulling the table at the side of the room to the middle of all six of them and taking the board game from Casey's hand

"What you think you've got this" asked Charlie

Brax looked at her with a little twinkle in his eye "No I don't think…I know"

Charlie chuckled "I'm really going to enjoy taking all your money"

"Not going to happen" Brax smiled at her before laying out the board game

They had been playing for just over twenty minutes when Brax finally took a good look at Charlie. He noted the smile on her face and the occasional laughter that left her lips every time someone landed on one of her houses or at Bianca and Heath's antics. When Casey had mentioned the night before that Charlie's last chemo was taking place that morning, he wasn't sure why but he felt like he needed to be there. When Casey had suggested the board games Brax had been unsure but now looking at not only Charles's face but also Ruby's he was glad Casey had thought of it. Even if only for the next few minutes he could see they had forgotten the reason they were there. He smiled to himself a final time before tuning back into the game only to find that Charlie had just landed on one of his houses.

Looking up at her with a grin, he had to stop the laughter that wanted to leave his lips as she pouted her lips. he held his hand out "Cough up the doe"

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Thanks for the comments guys. Dannie, Bianca moved when she found out about Nicole and Angelo. I know they have left now but she is still staying with them for the time being :)


Four weeks later

Ruby sat with her legs curled under her, the wind brushed her hair to one side and she wrapped her cardigan tighter around herself watching the people on the beach. Her gaze roamed from the surfers determined to brave the unusually rough waves that lapped with aggression against the sand, to the couples walking hand in hand most making their way off the beach as the winds breeze turned cold, till her gaze settled on the small families as they packed up for the day guiding their kids off the beach… but yet she remained unmoved. It was the first time she had left Charlie's side all week; she had never been so grateful for the school break. She had left the house only to take a breather and yet she had somehow reached the beach and had been sat in the same un moving position for over half an hour.

All the days had started rolling into one and she couldn't believe how fast time seemed to be moving. It was almost time; she had been more than relieved when Sid had cleared Charlie for surgery but now, it was less than twenty four hours away and scared wasn't word enough to describe the fear coursing through her body. Everyone was so happy Charlie was finally going in for the surgery but the nagging feeling in Ruby's mind wouldn't stop. What if she never got to hear her voice after that… what if that was the last time she would ever get to see her mother's eye and face.

Ruby quickly cleared the lump forming in her throat and shook her head, refusing to take to the words her mind was playing. Feeling she had been alone for too long she moved to stand to her feet but stopped as her phone beeped. Pulling it out of her pocket she smiled at the name on the screen before opening the message

*Called this morning, hope you're ok. Call me or just text just want to know you're ok*

In the mist of everything that was going on Ruby found herself grateful for the presence of the Braxton men. In the short time they had been in both hers and Charlie's life, they had somehow made everything a little bit more bearable; whether it be taking their minds off everything or sitting and listening or just simply being there, they had done it all.

Pressing her fingers to the buttons on her phone she replied to the message before standing to her feet; her steps were small and slow as she allowed herself a little more time alone

Casey let out a relieved breath as a reply came through. He smiled as he read the message

*Sorry, I saw your call but I've been a little distracted today. I'm ok I promise, I'll call you later*

Walking out of his room and into the living room Brax looked at Casey as he peered down at his phone

"Is that Ruby?"

Casey looked up unaware Brax had entered the room. He nodded and looked back down at the phone before his head jolted back up "Wait, how did you even know that?"

Brax wanted to chuckle and let his younger brother know what both he and Heath and most probably Bianca and Charlie knew but decided against it. He knew perfectly well why Casey was keeping quiet about how he felt "Just a lucky guess" he shrugged casually as he glanced up at the time reading 6:28 before sitting on the single couch

Brax had been glancing at the time all day and in his opinion it was moving too quickly. He hadn't mentioned it, but Charlie's surgery hadn't stopped playing on his mind. He tried to keep his thoughts from drifting to all the things that could go wrong all the things that could happen but it was no use. He wasn't sure quiet when, why or even how but Charlie and Ruby and even Bianca had become a part of his and his brothers lives… but for whatever reason Charlie was different. He cared in a way he couldn't quiet explain. He put it down to the fact that she was going through what Casey had been through, but even that didn't quiet seem like explanation enough

"You spoke to Charlie today?" Casey over at Brax, who shook his head

"Na not today" he stood to his feet and made his way into the kitchen. He had wanted to call her; they had talked every day for the last two weeks, whether it be by phone or face to face. He chuckled lightly as he thought of how Ruby had punched Charlie's number into his phone and stated "Now you can ask her how she is yourself, instead of through Casey" the young girl smiled up at him before placing his phone back in his hands as she picked up another slice of pizza before making her way back to school. But today he had simply sent a text saying he hoped she was ok. He wanted to give her some alone time with Ruby… he knew although she would never admit it, Charlie was scared about the surgery. Another thing he couldn't explain was how difficult he found it not to call her and check up on her. Sighing he picked up a beer from the fridge before walking back into the living room. He cocked an eyebrow as Casey looked at him

"What?" he slowly sat himself back down on the single couch, one arm resting on the arm of the couch the other propping the beer up to his lips

"Why does it feel like it's not just me, you and Heath anymore" Casey worded it as a question but it came out as a statement and Brax knew clearly what he meant.

For the boys it had always been the three of them, even when their mother was around it had still felt like all they had was each other. They cared for one another, gave each other grief but held each other's backs and for the first time all that was changing. Their loyalty had somehow extended beyond blood, somehow they had grown to care about the Buckton women like they would their own.

Brax propped the beer bottle on the other arm of the couch a sigh flaring through his nostrils "Probably because it's not"

Both he and Casey looked up as Heath walked into the house, seeming relieved as he shut the door behind him. He looked to Brax's hand and made his way to the kitchen coming back with a beer in hand. Sitting down next to Casey, he propping his feet up onto the center table and sighed in appreciation as his mouth met the opening of the bottle

"That is the best feeling" he looked at Casey and Brax who were now shaking their heads at him "What, it's been a long day"

"So I take it, it's going good then?" asked Brax

Heath had persuaded John to allow him help run the gym in assurance that he would help find ways to boost the business, and so far he was keeping to his promise. Heath nodded "Yep so far so good"

Picking up the remote he flipped through the TV channels for a few seconds before looking at Brax "How's Buckton today?" Heath asked Brax this same question everyday but yet still refused to accept that he had grown to somehow care about both her and Ruby, even Bianca.

"Not spoken to her today" replied Brax

Heath looked at him for a moment longer before nodding and turning his attention back to the TV screen. Not turning to look at either Casey or Brax he spoke again "I took the day off tomorrow"

Brax and Casey both turned their heads to the screen, neither of the two replying but hearing more than what Heath had said. They hadn't discussed being at the hospital during Charlie's surgery, they had hardly discussed the surgery at all but somehow the three brothers expected it of themselves.

Charlie shifted in her sleep as she heard the faint vibrating sound. A few more seconds and the sound became a lot clearly. Her eyes shifted open a groan leaving her lips as she slowly rolled over and took hold of her phone, stopping the harsh vibrating sound it was making on her bedside table. Her eyes opened lazily as she looked down at the phone. She looked at the time on her bedside table 10:18 before looking back at the phone. She sighed and smiled lightly as she answered the call

"Brax" She spoke his name as she laid her head back against her pillow

"Hy… you sleeping?" he asked noting the tired tone in her voice almost making him regret calling

Charlie shook her head then stopped realising he couldn't see her. She chuckled lightly "Not anymore"

"Sorry" Brax winced at his stupidity, she was probably trying to get as much rest in before tomorrow "Go back to sleep, it's late" as Brax dismissed himself, he stopped as Charlie spoke

"Brax" she chuckled a little "It's fine… plus we haven't spoken today" Charlie failed to understand why not haven spoken to him had made such a difference to her day

"Yeah, I figured you would want a little time… you know"

Charlie smiled, a little time alone was exactly what she needed. She, Ruby and Bianca had been fighting off half the town for most of the afternoon as they turned up one by one to wish her luck; but all Charlie wanted to do was savour the day, she was grateful that Brax had somehow in such a short time studied her enough to know she wouldn't want any fuss.

"Yea well apart from you, Casey and Heath, I've had half the town at my door step. Ruby even had to sneak off for a while" she sighed and Brax could hear the strain in her voice as she spoke of Ruby

"How was she today?" he asked

"Distant… I just wish I could fix this for her" Charlie shifted her weight so her back lay flat on the bed her gaze pointed to the pale off grey ceiling " I just want this to be over"

Brax sighed as he lay in the same position as Charlie, his gaze following the small cracks on the ceiling of his room "Well this time tomorrow it will be" he spoke with such certainty in his voice something that Charlie had found herself thankful for over the passingweeks. his words always seemed to crush her doubts

"I hope so" replied Charlie. Her free hand lifted as she ran it over her head, the ability to feel her whole scalp still unfamiliar to her "Plus I really want my hair back… my head gets so cold I don't know how guys do it"

Brax chuckled "Well I think you getting your hair back is a great idea because as it is I can't keep my hands off you or that head of yours"

Charlie hadn't intended to, but her laughter came out in a burst, she suddenly realised why not haven spoken to him that day had felt somehow wrong. He could make her forget, but better still he could make her laugh even without forgetting. Waiting till her laughter subsided she shook her head and spoke as she heard Brax chuckling

"Thank you"

Brax drummed a finger on the back of his phone and frowned at her words "What for?"

"For that, making me laugh, making all this not so hard"

Brax smiled to himself "Anytime… that's what friends are for"

"Charlie smiled "Yea"

That morning had been different to the rest, there was no rushing against time to get to the hospital, there was no noise indicating the rush to be ready and out of the house. This morning was un ordinarily quiet, only small pats made by their feet's could be heard against the floor that morning as they gracefully maneuvered around the house preparing themselves for the day ahead.

Sid had wanted Charlie to spend the night before her surgery at the hospital but she refused, she needed a little normality before the surgery and she wouldn't get that laying in a hospital bed, No, she wanted to be in her house with her daughter and her best friend.

Charlie now sat at the dining table with Ruby and Bianca on either side, the both of them opting for cups of coffee instead of a breakfast.

"You guys not having anything to eat?" Charlie glanced at both Bianca and Ruby as they shook their heads simultaneously

"Not hungry" replied Ruby her gaze slightly lifting to reveal the tears that were edged around the corners of her eyes

Bianca exhaled and stood to her feet "I'm just going to get my bag" she looked down at her watched before leaving the dining table

Charlie's gaze followed her for a moment before she looked back at Ruby. Without a word, Charlie stood to her feet slowly edging round the table before taking a seat on the chair next to Ruby. She tucked her curls behind her ears and gently placed a kiss on Ruby's temple and that was all it took. Ruby's tears broke free and her body shook with aggression as her arms flung themselves around Charlie's waist. Charlie pursed her lips together keeping her own tears at bay as Ruby's tears soaked into her shirt. She held Ruby with every strength she could muster holding her so close, she almost feared for her breath. Not a word was spoken till Ruby's shoulders stopped their shudder and her tears could no longer be heard

Charlie eased one of her arms up to Ruby's head and gently stroked her hair

"I love you so much" Ruby sniffed back, her grip still firmly around Charlie's wait "I can't lose you"

"And if I have anything to do with it, you won't"

"I had an idea of what things were going to be like when you finally came home. Me and you and…" Ruby stopped not willing to reminded herself of the disappointment in her life "This isn't what I expected"

Charlie shook her head "It's not what I expected either. But soon enough we will be able to get on with our life's and I'll be able to do all the things I haven't done as your mum, like embarrass you in front of your friends" Charlie smiled as Ruby chuckled lightly "or grill that boy that might like you… I can be scary when I want to be"

Ruby finally pulled back and smiled up at Charlie "I know" she gave a grin as Charlie laughed lightly

"We just have to get through today" Charlie exhaled pushing out all the unwanted risks Sid had mentioned about the surgery. Though the chances of them happening after her examination had cleared her for surgery was low… he made it clear risks are still a factor and Charlie knew too well those were the things running through her daughters mind.

Ruby nodded at Charlie "If it means you're here, then you can embarrassed me anytime"

Charlie chuckled and cocked an eyebrow "I'll be sure to remind you of this moment when the time comes"

Both her and Ruby looked up as Bianca walked back into the kitchen bag in hand. She exhaled and passed a small smile "You ready?"

Charlie looked back at Ruby and took her hand in hers before looking back at Ruby "Ready"

There was no waiting around this morning, no sitting in the hospital hallway checking the time every few second. As Charlie, Ruby and Bianca walked through the sliding doors, Sid emerged almost like he could smell their fear.

Sid approached them with neither a smile nor a frown; he kept moving till he stood a mere feet away from the three girls

"It's a big day" he watched Charlie as he spoke and she gave a tentative smile and a nod

"Yea" it was all she could think to say

"We're going to get you prepped straight away, it's still going to be about an hour before your surgery but we want everything ready to go" said Sid and Charlie nodded as a nurse made her way over to them, a sympathetic smile harboured on her face

"Nurse Jackie will help get you prepped" Sid took a glance at the nurse as she stepped up

"If you would like to follow me" she gestured down the hall and Charlie turned along with Ruby and Bianca as they followed her instructions

Sid watched them going and exhaled, there were three possible outcomes that this day was going to bring for Charlie and he was only willing to deliver one, he couldn't look into Ruby's or even Bianca's eyes and deliver the other two. With that thought he turned to prepare for the impending surgery.

Her clothes had been stripped and she now lay in nothing but the thin layer of the hospital gown. Her head was propped up by the pillows the nurse had placed behind her before leaving. It felt like she had been in the room for a life time but looking up at the clock that hung on the wall only a mere ten minutes had passed. She sighed as she shifted trying her best to get comfortable. She smiled as Bianca spoke

"You do know that after this you won't be getting as much attention right" Bianca smiled at Charlie who scoffed mockingly

"Please I will always be center of attention… you both love me too much"

"If you say so" added Ruby

"Oi" Charlie pointed at her playfully as the three of them chuckled lightly trying to ease the anxious air around them

"It's going to work out… I just know it" spoke Bianca once the silence had returned

Ruby and Charlie sighed and smiled, both hoping she was right

Walking out of the cafeteria towards Charlie's room Ruby and Bianca stopped as they saw the Braxton boys approaching the front desk

"Casey" Ruby called his name causing all three of them to turn around

"Ruby" he smiled at her as they walked towards her and Bianca

"You're here?" Ruby asked

Casey nodded "Of course we're here… where else would we be"

Ruby glanced between the three Braxton brothers and tilted her head slightly; she had thought of asking Casey but had decided against it. But the fact they he along with Brax and Heath had turned up without being asked meant more than she could put into words

"You guys are kind of amazing… even you Heath" she gave him a cheeky grin has the rest chuckled lightly

"How is she?" asked Brax

"Holding up" replied Bianca as the boys followed her and Ruby in the direction of Charlie's room. Bianca glanced over at Brax before speaking again "I think she could really use one of your peep talks" they stopped outside her room as she looked at Brax

Brax looked up at her and then at Ruby before realising they were giving him permission to go in for a few minutes on his own. Not giving them a chance to change their minds, he quickly nodded and stepped forward towards the door

Charlie looked up with a knitted eyebrows at the knock on the door, knowing Ruby and Bianca wouldn't bother to knock. she watched as the door creaked open; a smile making its way to her face as Brax came into view

"Hy" Brax was met by Charlie's gaze as she smiled at him but the question in her eyes was clear for him to see

"What are you doing here?" asked Charlie, she felt she knew the answer but yet she asked

"Why wouldn't we be here?" asked Brax as he stepped further into the room

"We?" Charlie's eyebrows knitted together again

Brax nodded "Heath and Casey are outside"

Charlie looked at him in surprise, she somehow hadn't expected this

"You didn't say you were coming?"

Brax shrugged leaning against the wall "You didn't ask"

Charlie's eyes locked against his and a sigh left her lips "Thank you"

Brax shook his head as he moved from the wall and took the chair closest to her "You have nothing to thank me for, I want to be here, we all do"

"That's why I'm saying thank you" replied Charlie and Brax smiled as he searched her face with his roaming eyes. He had thought of telling her many a time but always put it off. His lip parted as he finally decided to tell her

"I have a secret" he began and Charlie concentrated on him clearly intrigued by his words

"A secret?" Brax nodded his head in confirmation to her words "What kind of secret? She asked

"A long time ago I met this girl…briefly. I was only sixteen at the time but I had made more than my fair share of mistakes. Then one day a girl in a park changed everything; I was on a downward spiral and I don't know how but somehow she saved me from myself"

Charlie's eyes widened slightly as she realised what he was talking about… it was her. She watched him wondering why he was telling her this; did he know it was her? She had saved him… how?

"I kind of found myself wondering if I helped her a little, if she took my advice and stopped running and I think she did… at least I hope she did. I still remember the words she said before she walked away" Brax leaned forward onto his elbows but before he could speak Charlie's voice interjected

"Only you can make your own destiny no one else, you just have to believe in yourself hard enough to try"

A grin adored Brax's face "You remember"

Charlie nodded in confirmation "Yeah I remember" her gaze roamed over his face "I didn't think you would"

Brax sighed "I figured it out the day you said those words to Casey. I suspected before, but that confirmed it"

"You suspected…how?"

"Your eyes" the answer came instantly "I never forgot them" he searched her face unsure what he was looking for as he spoke

Charlie looked at him unspoken for a few minutes, before finally finding her voice "That's how I remembered… your eyes" Brax smiled at her before she spoke again "You said I saved you?" her voice was low, her deep blue eyes glued to him

Brax nodded "In more ways than you know"

Charlie shook her head "I didn't do a thing"

"You did" Brax interjected "You did more than anyone had ever bothered to do Charlie" he locked eyes with her as he spoke "You may not have been there to see it, but this person I am today, every decision I have made concerning me and my brothers since that day at the park, has been connected to you. I stood in front of you in an orange jump suit and yet you took the time to look and actually see me" Brax exhaled "Those words you spoke to me weren't just words…they are what I have lived by since that day, and it's because of you"

And there was silence, no awkwardness, no tension just silence as she absorbed his words. All the time she spent wondering if she had made an impact on that boy, if his encounter with her had influenced even one decision he had made and now he sat before her telling her she had done so much more than she thought possible. And then she spoke

"She took your advice" Brax frowned in confusion before Charlie spoke again "That young girl you met at the park, she took your advice and stopped running and everything I have from Ruby, to Bianca to the life have lived is because I stopped running" she smiled at him both of them now aware of the influence they had unknowingly had on each other's life's.

"I may not know what you were running from, but the fact that you faced it head on shows how strong you are Charlie… I don't think anything can keep you down"

Charlie couldn't understand how he always did it, he always managed to lift her up making any problem seem significant to her strength

They both looked up as the door opened and Ruby walked in followed by Bianca then Casey and Heath.

"Hy" Charlie smiled up at the boys

"Hy" replied Casey and Heath

"Nearly time for you to go kick butt in there" spoke Heath and Charlie had to laugh. Taking a quick glance at Brax she looked back around the faces in the room

"Yep… I'm ready to kick butt"

Bianca and Ruby looked at Brax giving him a smile to thank him, he had only been in with Charlie a little over ten minutes and yet the positive change in her composure was evident for them to see

Ruby stopped as the doors closed before her, they weren't allowed to go no further and she watched as they wheeled Charlie further and further away till she was no longer in sight. Bianca stood to her right and Casey to her left with Brax and Heath directly behind her all of them watching.

Ruby felt Brax's hand on the top of her shoulder, a light squeeze coming from his hand as Bianca wrapped her arms around her. She turned to look up at Casey as he spoke

"This is a good thing… she's going to come out of there better than when she went in"

Ruby nodded and concentrated on Casey's words before she turned back to the door. She reached her hand out to her side and sighed gratefully as Casey seemed to know what she was looking for; his fingers laced into hers, giving her hand a light squeeze

"She's going to be ok" Brax murmured under his breath as the waiting began

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After this chapter you guys are now caught up to where I am with this fic... si it will be one chapter at a time from now on :)


"She's going to be ok" Brax murmured under his breath as the waiting began

Standing in front of the full length mirror, Ruby ran her hands through her curls as she examined her appearance for what seemed like the fiftieth time. Turing away from the mirror, the picture on Charlie's bedside table came into view, a tiny smile tugged at Ruby's lips as she recalled that day. It was of the both taken a few years ago; the smile on Charlie's face settled from ear to ear as Ruby stood in her arms laughing at something Charlie had said. Ruby remembered the laughter the day had started with, the beautiful weather… her family. She sighed as she remembered the face that stood behind the camera; quick yto get rid of the memory she shook the thought of Angelo away before it had time to settle. She didn't want to remember him today, or any other day. Charlie's door creaked open and Ruby turned from the picture to see Bianca stood at the edge of the door

"You ready?" asked Bianca as her gaze held Ruby's

Ruby nodded as she took one final glance at the mirror and exhaled "Yea…I'm ready" following behind Bianca, she shut Charlie's room door behind her as they both made their way out of the house

Getting into the car Bianca started up the engine and started towards their destination. Ruby was nervous that much she could see, they had been talking about it all night and now it was time, she came out of her own thoughts as Ruby spoke

"Could we make a quick stop along the way?"

Bianca glanced at Ruby before looking back at the road "Of course, just tell me where"

"Case get out here" Brax exhaled, picking up his car keys from the table before edging towards the door

"Sorry I couldn't find my phone" Casey walked into the living room, tucking his phone into his pocket he looked around "Is Heath not here?"

"He's spending the day with Darcy"

Casey nodded and took another glance around the room before he followed Brax out the door

"You ok?" Casey glanced at Brax as they drove towards their destination

Brax nodded and exhaled "Yea"

"You?" Brax asked his younger brother

Casey shuffled in his seat "Yea I'm good"

Three weeks ago

An hour, an hour and a half now over two hour and yet they were all still waiting and silently praying. Each time footsteps closed in on them or the double doors opened all five heads snapped up hoping someone was coming to them with some news or update, but nothing came. The clock seemed to tick at an irritating loud and slow pace; reminding everyone of each second they remained seated with no news on Charlie.

Heath had tried to keep everyone talking for the first half hour but even he now found himself too preoccupied with watching the time to make the effort. The ball of Brax's left foot kept a rhythmic beat against the floor of the hospital, Casey simultaneously performed the same movement with his right foot and Bianca and Ruby sat putting all their weights into the plastic Chairs. Ruby picked at her fingers and to her it seemed time had stopped all together; it must have. Finally allowing her restlessness get the better of her, she stood to her feet drawing everyone's attention to her as she roughly ran her hands through her hair

"Ruby…" Bianca went to speak but was interrupted by Ruby as she began pacing in a small circle

"Is it meant to take this long?" Before anyone could answer she spoke again "Why haven't we heard anything…. aren't they supposed to come out and let us know how things are going? They're supposed to let us know right?"

"Ruby Remember, Sid said they couldn't be sure how long it's going to take"

Ruby sighed but she continued her pacing

"But it's been over two hours, why haven't we heard anything? That can't be normal" Ruby stopped pacing and faced Bianca "I'm really doing my best not to freak out here but it's been too long" Ruby shook her head as she wrapped one arm around herself the other laid on her chest "What if…" Before she had barely started her sentence she was stopped

"No news is not bad news" Ruby turned to Brax who was now standing as he spoke "if anything had gone wrong Sid would have been out here immediately" he spoke softly as he stepped closer to Ruby "If they're still in there it means they are still working on her and that can only be a good thing. Your mum is strong Ruby"

Ruby blinked at him and nodded as she let out a breath "You're right, she is strong" Ruby looked at him as if waiting for confirmation and seeing this Brax nodded

"Yeah she is. She'll be fighting like hell in there"

Ruby sighed as she felt Bianca snake her arms around her "I'm sorry" she murmured into Bianca shoulder

"You have nothing to be sorry about… We're all scared" Said Bianca

The door was heard opening again and all their heads lifted simultaneously, this time their gaze met Sid. Ruby moved from Bianca's embrace and paced towards Sid before the door had barely closed behind him. Heath and Casey stood and followed behind Brax and Bianca, all five of them now surrounding Sid

"Is it over? Is she ok?" asked Ruby her eye's slightly widened

Sis nodded "Yes, the surgery is over. She has been taken into a recovery room" he glanced at all the eyes that locked on him before turning back to Ruby as she spoke again

"How is she…err how…" Ruby swallowed the lump in her throat as she struggled to ask. She wasn't sure if she wanted to know. She looked to her side to see Casey had somehow made his way next to her his hand gripping hers lightly. She turned back to Sid and had to take a moment as she studied the look on his face. When he had emerged he held that all too blank look that she had seen on almost every nurse and doctors face at some point at the hospital. But now that look was gone; his lips seemed almost as if they were turned up. She looked closer not wanting her desire for Charlie to be ok to get her hopes up, but she was sure she wasn't mistaken. She braced herself as she saw his lips part his smile seeming to grow… she definitely wasn't mistaken

"Charlie's surgery was a success"

Ruby's eyes widened and her free hand flew to her chest "You got all the cancer?" she wanted to be sure of what he meant by his words

Sid nodded and exhaled "Yes we got all the cancer"

Audible sighs parted from everyone's lips echoing through the small hallway; Brax placing both arms behind his head as he finally let out a long breath

"So she's going to be ok?" Ruby's shaky hands swiped at the fallen tear on her cheek

"She's going to be just fine… all we need her to do now is recover from the surgery"

Ruby nodded her head "Thank you" she moved her hand from Casey's as she flung her hand around Sid's neck her lips pursed together "Thank you so much" She laughed through the tears that made their way down her face

Sid smiled as she pulled away; he was filled with relief beyond any other that he was able to deliver good news to them

"Is she awake?" Asked Brax his own smile long settled on his face along with everyone else

"No, not yet, that might take a couple of hours. The anesthetic given to her during the surgery needs time to ware off"

"But we can go in and see her right?" Ruby asked

"Yes but two at a time for now"

Ruby nodded and stepped forward as her and Bianca looked back at the boys

"You guys go ahead, we've waited this long" spoke Brax sending Ruby a smile

Ruby walked towards him before wrapping her arms around him. Brax looked down at her confused but returned the hug. Ruby finally pulled back and looked to Heath and Casey

"Thank you guys for being here" she moved to Heath and gave him a hug; she shook her head at his awkwardness at the gesture, before moving to Casey and wrapping her arms around him. She smiled as he wrapped his own arms around her. Pulling away she smiled at them all before her and Bianca followed Sid through the double doors

Ruby smiled lightly as her and Bianca walked into the room. Charlie's pale face and bald head had always clouded Ruby with sadness but the effect had changed. Yes her face was pale, her lips somewhat chapped her hairless head emphasised by the bright lights in the room but Ruby smiled as she looked at Charlie…Cancer no longer defined her, now all she saw in her mother was a fighter.

"Hy mum" She stood beside Charlie's bed before placing a kiss on her cheek "You have no idea how happy I am that you're gonna be ok"

Ruby lowered herself onto the seat and placed her hand over Charlie's as Bianca edged around the bed taking the seat on the other side

"You don't half know how to keep us in suspense do you" Bianca took Charlie's free hand in hers

Ruby looked over at Bianca "It's really over" She pursed her lips together and chuckled lightly

"Yea it is" Bianca smiled down at Charlie as she spoke to her "Well you best get as much rest as you can because once you wake up we've got a lot of missed shopping trips and night outs to make up for"

Brax, Heath and Casey were now seated, as they waited on Ruby and Bianca. Brax shook his head and chuckled lightly as he ran his hands over his face. He couldn't remember the last time he felt this… this type of relief this type of calmness.

"You did good back there" Brax turned to Heath as he spoke "With Ruby …I thought she was gonna burn a hole in the floor. You did good"

Brax smiled at Heath's words

"I considered following your lead and cracking a joke"

Heath chuckled "She would have cracked you one mate"

Brax nodded "Exactly why I decided against it"

"This is it" said Casey causing Brax and Heath to turn to him "No more cancer, no more chemo's" spoke Casey and Heath and Brax nodded at his words. They had lived with all these things with Casey and then Charlie and Ruby has somehow made their way into the lives and it seemed they would never escape from pain, but for the first time Brax could see that infamous light at the end of the tunnel.

"Thank God for it too"

Brax and Casey nodded at Heaths words. Maybe now life could start panning out the way they all hoped

Present time

Ruby and Bianca walked in to the hospital with smiles as they made their way to Charlie's room. Reaching her room Ruby smiled as she pushed open the door to see Charlie lay with her back propped up by various pillows, a magazine in hand

"Hy" Ruby smiled as Bianca closed the door behind them

"Thank God you guys are here… I've been bored out of my mind" said Charlie as she plunked the magazine down on the bed

"Sorry, we would have been here earlier but we made a little pit stop" said Bianca as she dropped her bag on the table besides Charlie's bed and took a seat

"Anywhere interesting?" Charlie shuffled as she tried to get comfortable. When she woke up, the surgery had left her with little energy and pains that made the slightest movement painful, but it seemed her body had begun healing

Ruby nodded with a grin "Well you spent most of yesterday complaining about the food so…" Ruby opened up her bag and pulled out a brown paper bag "We made a quick stop at the diner, Leah was more than happy to make you a little something" she stood to her feet before pulling out the wrap and the dessert"

"Is this your way of telling me to eat?" asked Charlie as she smiled over at Ruby

"Kind of, Sid said you're still not eating much"

"I'm trying"

Ruby nodded "Well could you try now…for me" she widened her brown eyes, causing Charlie to chuckle with a shake of her head

"That look won't always work you know"

"That's why I'm exercising it as much as I can now" Ruby grinned as she sat on the opposite side to Bianca "So…" She looked down at the food then back up at Charlie

"Fine" Charlie edged further up on the bed "But only because I really want the lemon tart"

"As long as you eat it, that's fine by me" smile Ruby

Charlie pulled the little table going over her bed closer to her as she opened up the wrap. About to take a bite she looked back up at Ruby again this time taking in her appearance, and then she remembered what day it was

"Oh my… I almost forgot" she smiled up at Ruby who was now smiling widely "It's date day" continued Charlie and Ruby nodded

"Yep" Ruby exhaled and Charlie chuckled

"You look great"

"You're my mum you have to say that"

Charlie shook her head "No it's true… why else would Casey have asked you out" Charlie chuckled as Ruby tried hiding her face behind her hair

Charlie's attention turned to the knock at the door and smiled as Brax and Casey walked into the room. She watched as Casey's gaze flicked to Ruby before he looked at Charlie

"How's the patient today?" Brax smiled as he stood in front of the bed

Charlie nodded "She's good"

"I see you're eating" he looked down at the food in front of her

"Yea I'm trying" she smiled back "Hy Case" she smiled at the young boy. His appearance had changed a lot over the weeks. The pale, frail looking boy she had known when she first met him was gone. Now his cheeks were plumped up, his skin almost as tanned as his brothers and his growing dark hair made his eyes stand out, he seemed a lot more comfortable in himself.

"Hy" Casey smiled back at Charlie and Bianca and then at Ruby before walked over to the side of the bed that Ruby sat at

Charlie bit her lip as she tried not to make any apparent gushing sounds at the way Ruby and Casey glanced at one another, seeing that Brax and Bianca were looking over at the two of them as well, she spoke trying to take some of the attention away

"So no Heath today?"

Brax shook his head as he turned to her "No he's with Darcy today"

Charlie nodded and turned to Ruby as she spoke "Err is it ok if we go now?" she looked at Charlie

Charlie nodded "Yea of course" she smiled as Ruby stood to her feet and placed a kiss on her cheek "You two have fun"

"I'll drop you guys off in the city… I have to pick up a few things anyway" spoke Bianca as she stood to her feet

"Bye Brax" Ruby called as she walked out the door

"Bye Charlie" said Casey following behind Charlie

"I'll see you guys later" said Bianca as she followed behind them closing the door as she left

Charlie watched as Brax took the seat Bianca had just vacated "You staying?"

Brax cocked an eyebrow mockingly "I could go if you want"

Charlie shook her head rapidly "Please don't, I'm so bored; I can't wait to get out of here"

"So you're just using me" Brax shook his head as he settled into the chair

Charlie chuckled "That's what friends do" she grinned at him "I use you, you use me" she shook her head mockingly "It's a vicious circle"

Brax chuckled "I'll remember you said that when I need a favour"

"Don't worry, I'll remind you" Charlie smiled at him

"So shouldn't you be eating" Brax looked down at the wrap and the lemon tart

Charlie sighed "I thought you might be hungry" she smiled sheepishly at him

"Nice try… eat" Brax ordered and chuckled as Charlie sighed before she started eating

After she had eaten what she could, she sighed as she turned to Brax who had spoken not one word since she started eating. Looking at him she smiled causing Brax to squint his eyes together in suspicion

"What?" he asked and Charlie shook her head

"Nothing, I just…I still can't believe you're him"

Brax looked even more confused "Can't believe I'm who?"

"The boy from the park" answered Charlie and Brax nodded in understanding, they hadn't spoken about it since the day of her surgery

"You know I went back to the park often… I was really glad when I didn't see you there"

Brax chuckled and cocked his head slightly "Errr thanks"

Charlie laughed at the look on his face "I meant I was glad I didn't see you there with the others… you know, in the orange jump suit. I was kind of hoping you had stopped doing whatever it was that landed you there in the first place"

Brax smiled finally understanding her "Like I said you helped me in more ways than one. The day you came to the park was actually the last day off my community service and after that, I re enrolled myself in school" he spoke and shuffled slightly in his seat "Best decision I ever made not just for myself but for Heath and Case. But I do know for a fact I wouldn't have bothered if I hadn't run into you that day"

Charlie wanted to ask more, she wanted to know what it was that had gotten him in that position in the first place but she decided against it and instead smiled half a smile "I always wondered what happened to you"

"Well now you know" replied Brax and Charlie nodded and a moment of silence fell before Charlie broke it

"When I stopped running and actually faced my problems it wasn't easy" Charlie's gaze held Brax's as she spoke, her head was now lay lightly on her pillow her body turned to him "I had times when I really wanted to do nothing more than just run, to just start again; but I never did"

"Why?" asked Brax not once breaking her gaze

"Because of you" Charlie smiled at him "It's funny, I didn't even know you but I kept thinking if I ran, if I did the predictable what would you think, for some reason you managed to make me do what everyone else failed to… fight"

One side of Brax's lips curled up "You was strong before me, I think you just didn't know it… only someone with strength and guts could have gone into the profession you chose" said Brax

Charlie shuffled slightly and plumped up the pillow before laying her head back down "I think when I joined the army, at first it was a means for escape and… prove"

"Prove of what?" asked Brax leaning forward onto his elbows

"That there were worse things out there… that people had it worse than I did. It helped put things into prospective, and then before I knew it, it became a passion; knowing that I could say that I had in some why helped people…"Charlie shrugged "it gave me something to believe in"

Brax watched her as she spoke, he wanted to know more than she said, he wanted to know what had brought her to the park that day, what could have happened that had made her think she had no other option but to run but he chose to merely listen before allowing himself one question

"Do you ever think of going back?"

Charlie looked at him for a moment before answering "No. As good a feeling it was to be out there helping, I missed my family…" she stopped and rephrased her words "I missed Ruby like hell and Bianca"

Brax pretended he hadn't heard her earlier word, he knew who she had been referring to as family. He quickly turned the topic around "So you and Bianca have been friends for a while"

Charlie nodded and chuckled "Since we were kids… we were born only a few weeks apart me coming first and our parents were neighbours. We were beyond inseparable growing up, we always did what the other one did and we always insisted on going to the same schools" Charlie chuckled again at a memory "Her mum wanted her to go to boarding school when we started high school and we refused to accept it, we both wanted to go to the local school. So one day Bianca came over to mine and we locked ourselves in the bathroom"

Brax laughed "You locked yourself in the bathroom?"

"Yea I know not very original but we were only thirteen, it was the best we could come up with and may I say it had the desired affect. After a few hours of persistence her parents finally caved and threw the boarding school notion out the window"

"Oh wow, well I wished I'd thought of that when I wanted my own way… so you both moved here from the city together?"

"Yea I was already in the army, my err… my mum died when I was fifteen not long after I went back home and my dad died two years after"

Brax's face grew softer "I'm sorry to hear that"

Charlie smiled "It was a long time ago, plus I had my aunt Michelle who looked after Ruby for me when I had to leave for the army. But then one day I just didn't want to be in the city anymore and I didn't want Ruby there either, so we moved to Summer Bay with my Aunt Michelle and Bianca came soon after with her younger sister April, and we've all been here since"

"And your aunt Michelle, where is she now?"

Charlie smiled sadly "She only really ever came to Summer Bay because of me and Ruby so she moved back to the city when me and Rubes moved in with Angelo but she had an heart attack a little over four years ago… she didn't make it"

Brax smiled sadly at her but Charlie spoke "I'm here telling you all about me and you haven't spilled any secrets Braxton"

Brax chuckled "What do you want to know?"

Charlie Knew what she wanted to ask but she wasn't sure he was ready to share yet so she went for what she assumed would be a simple question

"Your parents" she looked at him and he nodded

"My dad left when I was 13"

Charlie eyebrows rose "Left?"

"Yea left; me, my mum and Heath woke up one morning and he was gone and we haven't seen him since. Casey was only a few months old at the time"

Charlie looked at him for a moment "I'm sorry to hear that"

Brax shook his head "Don't be, in a way I was relieved. He wasn't the best dad out there; actually he never once acted like one. I never showed it in front of mum but I was glad that he had left"

"What about your mum?" asked Charlie

"She stuck around..." Brax exhaled "Till we found out about Casey's cancer"

"What?" Charlie asked hoping he would clarify what he meant

"She left about a month into Casey's cancer treatment apparently she felt Heath and I had things under control so she was no longer needed"

Charlie's eyes widened slightly and Brax spoke again

"Don't worry she wasn't much of a mother either… we're not missing much"

His face held no emotion as he spoke but his eyes weren't as deceiving. Charlie sighed and reached her hand out, the tips of her finger just about reaching his arm "Well it's their loose"

Brax looked down at her hand and smiled

Brax had been with Charlie for the whole day neither of the two realising how late it had gotten

Charlie laughed at something Brax had said but her laughter slowly subsided as she caught a glimpse of him exhaling deeply his eye's telling more than his body was

"Brax you ok?"

Brax looked up at her and nodded "Yea I'm fine" he flashed a smile hoping it would throw her off but the look on Charlie's face told him different

"No you're not" Charlie looked at him and couldn't understand why she had only just noticed the slight paleness his face held "And you definitely don't look it"

"Thanks" Brax tried again but stopped as Charlie cocked an eyebrow in his direction. He sighed "I'm just a little tired, I'll be fine after a nights rest"

"Are you sure?" asked Charlie; her eyebrows knitted together unconvinced by his words. She watched as he nodded his head

"I'm sure" he replied

"Well if that's the case I want you to leave"

Brax's gaze held hers in confusion "Leave?" he asked

Charlie nodded "Yea leave. You should be at home resting not here entertaining me"

"Even if I go home I won't sleep so I might as well stay here, I'll sleep tonight"

As Charlie went to argue against him saying, the door opened and Bianca walked in followed by Ruby and Casey

"Have you been here since we left?" asked Bianca

Brax and Charlie looked at her confused before they both looked up at the clock hanging on the wall 8:46

"That can't seriously be the right time" spoke Charlie and Brax looked down at the watch on his hand

"Yep it is"

"Wait so how did you guys get in, it's past visiting hours?" asked Charlie

Bianca and Casey chuckled and Ruby smiled innocently

"It seems those big brown eye's don't only work on you and me… but the nurse only gave us five minutes. I'm surprised they haven't kicked you out yet" Bianca said to Brax

"They haven't been in since half seven I don't think they know he's still here" replied Charlie. Charlie and Brax chuckled and Brax looked at Casey and Ruby

"You two have fun?"

Ruby nodded with a smile along with Casey "Yea" replied Casey "And seeing as you're here I can get a ride back with you now"

Brax nodded and Charlie looked at Bianca "Where did you get to… don't tell me you crashed their date" Brax chuckled at her words

"Err no, like I would do that" Ruby scoffed and rolled her eyes but Bianca ignored her and continued "I actually bumped into Heath and Darcy on the beach… she's beyond cute and time kind of got away from me"

Charlie hid her smile and nodded her head as Brax stood to his feet

"Casey will you please make sure this one gets some rest, he's not feeling too good" Charlie pointed at Brax

"I thought you looked a little off this morning" spoke Casey

Brax shock his head "Thanks for the insight… you ready to go?"

Casey nodded his head "Yea. Bye Charlie" he nodded as he walked to the door

"Bye Case"

"We should get going to" said Bianca. Ruby walked up to Charlie and placed a kiss on her check

"See you tomorrow"

"Bye" Charlie smiled after her as she left the room with Casey

"See you tomorrow" Bianca gave her a hug as she too left the room leaving only Brax and Charlie

"I will know if you don't rest up…I have eyes all over the place"

Brax chuckled "I have no doubt Casey would gladly sell me out. I'll be seeing you" he smiled at her his dimples on display

"Bye" Charlie smiled back at him before he slowly closed the door behind him

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"I will know if you don't rest up…I have eyes all over the place"

Brax chuckled "I have no doubt Casey would gladly sell me out. I'll be seeing you" he smiled at her his dimples on display

"Bye" Charlie smiled back at him before he slowly closed the door behind him
Three days later

"What took you so long?" Charlie sighed from her bed as Ruby and Bianca walked in

"It's only just gone past nine Charlie" Bianca shook her head as she picked up Charlie's bag from the side of the bed

"Yea well I've been up and ready for over an hour" Bianca and Ruby chuckled and Charlie shrugged "Please, you would know how I feel if you had been copped up in this hospital as long as I have"

"Well we're truly sorry for keeping you waiting. But we had to talk to Sid" said Ruby and Charlie rolled her eyes knowing Sid would have repeated the same things to Bianca and Ruby as he had her. And knowing her best friend and her daughter she knew they would make sure she kept to everything Sid had said

"You didn't think we would take your word for it do you? when it come's to what you should and shouldn't be doing" said Bianca as she smirked

"A woman can hope" Charlie mumbled as she slowly stood to her feet. She finally noticed the push chair in Ruby's grip

"Errr who's that for?" she cocked an eyebrow

Ruby titled her head and grinned at Charlie "For you…Sid said you have been on walk abouts since you woke and you're supposed to be taking it easy"

"I'm not getting in that Chair" Charlie shook her head

"You are" replied Ruby

"I'm fine, I only walked to the canteen and back I hardly call it a walk about and I'm supposed to be trying to get things back to normal"

Bianca shook her head "That doesn't include over working yourself plus the chair is doctors orders not ours so…" She tried off and pointed down to the chair

Ruby sighed "Mum the quicker you sit, the quicker you get out of this hospital"

Charlie rolled her eyes and fought the temptation to stamp her feet as she lowered herself into the chair just as her room door opened

"You got her in the chair" Sid smiled "I expected her to at least put up a fuss"

"Oh she tried… but the prospect of finally getting out of here out weighed it"

Sid chuckled "Well I'm really happy you're getting to go home but remember…"

Charlie nodded her head and interjected "I know, that things slow, baby steps, don't over work myself and drink plenty fluid and make sure to eat even if I don't feel very hungry"

Sid nodded "It's important Charlie, the cancer may be gone but your body and your whole system will still be recovering from the cancer, the chemo and the surgery. The last thing you want to do is push your body too far" he gave her a pointed look having come to know how stubborn she can be

Charlie sighed and nodded she was more than grateful for the support he had given her and Ruby "I don't think you have anything to worry about Sid. These two will make sure I follow your instructions to the tee"

Sid nodded "I have no doubt they will" he exhaled "We'll I'll let you guys get going but remember, you still have to come in for cheek in's every few months"

Charlie nodded "I know"

"Right" He gave them a smile "Well I have other patients to see, I'll see you guys around"

"Thanks Sid" Ruby and Bianca spoke as he left the room

"Right, get this thing moving before they change their mind and keep me in this place" Charlie shuffled in the seat and Bianca and Ruby chuckled

Bianca held the door open and Ruby wheeled Charlie out

"You sure you got everything?" asked Ruby as they advanced towards the entrance

Charlie nodded "Yea I'm sure"

All three smiled and said bye to a few of the nurses as they passed them and a smile settled on Charlie's face as they reached the double doors. She closed her eyes as the doors opened and the gently breeze trailed along her cheek and was felt on her scale through the thinness of the scarf wrapped around her head. This was it her new life was starting

Charlie frowned as Bianca passed the turn into their road

"Err…" she looked back at the missed road before looking at Ruby who sat in the back seat and then Bianca "You do know we just missed our turn"

Bianca shook her head "No we didn't"

Charlie's frown deepened "Yes we did"

"For where we're going we haven't" replied Ruby

"Do I get a little insight as to where we're going?"

"We're almost there now" replied Ruby

"So I take that as a no" said Charlie and Bianca shook her head

"Patience is a virtue"

Charlie scoffed and turned back around facing the road "Well I guess I'm not virtuous"

A few minutes later and a smile adored Charlie's face as she recognised the turn they had taken and finally figured out where they were going. She sat up in her seat eagerly waiting for it to come into view. And seconds later there it was, the ocean sweeping against the sand. She sighed as the car came to a stop

"We figured you had been copped up for long enough, and the one thing you love more than me of course is the beach" smiled Ruby

"And me" added Bianca

Charlie turned to them "You guys are the best" she quickly opened the door and stepped out of the car. She closed her eyes as she listened to the sound of the waves, the laughter of the people around them, the sound of the wind gliding through the air.

Hearing Ruby's and Bianca's door shut, she began walking away from the car and towards the beach. The sun settled at a comforting heat in the sky, tingling against her skin. Shuffling her feet out of her sandal's she exhaled as she dug her feet into the golden sand. It was an action she had performed more times than she could recall but the feeling was so different than any she had ever felt. She felt alive, she felt renewed; she smiled as she felt arms loping around each of hers, Bianca on one side and Ruby one the other.

"It feels good doesn't it?" asked Ruby

Charlie smiled at her daughter. She knew exactly what she meant "It feels great"

Bianca had gone to the diner in a bid to get some milkshakes for the three of them and also wanting to give both Ruby and Charlie some time alone. Ruby's hands remained looped in Charlie's, both of them now sat on the sand with Ruby's head resting on Charlie's shoulder.

"I was scared we would never get to do this again" said Ruby

Charlie sighed as she placed her hand on Ruby's "Honestly so was I" Charlie smiled as she saw a little girl walking along the beach with who she assumed was her mother "But we're here now… we made it"

Ruby nodded as a family of four walked by not too far from the two of them. The two young girls running ahead as their father chased behind them, their mother walking behind and laughing at their antics

Silence fell and neither of the two needed to voice what they were thinking

Ruby lifted her head off Charlie's shoulder's "He didn't deserve you, he didn't deserve us"

Charlie smiled weakly and turned to Ruby "I'm sorry for everything he did… I know he means a lot to you"

"Meant" Ruby corrected her "He meant a lot to me… not anymore"

"Ruby, Angelo was a part of your life for a long time, you looked up to him… it's ok to still care about him"

Ruby sighed "That's just it though I don't... at least I don't think I do. He should have been here with us, with you through all this, he stopped meaning anything to me the moment he walked away" Ruby placed her head back on Charlie's shoulder "Plus I still have you and that's all that counts"

Charlie smiled and placed a kiss in Ruby's hair "I love you"

"Love you too mum"

Charlie, Ruby and Bianca were now back home

"Ruby have you spoken to Casey today? Asked Charlie as she walked into the living room and sat beside Ruby

"Errr yea, he actually asked if I wanted to come round to his today, Heath's had to go down to the gym and Brax is still not feeling too well so Case doesn't want to leave him in the house alone. Why?"

Charlie sighed in what seemed like relief, it felt odd but she knew there had to be a reason Brax hadn't called her that day, he would have known she was getting discharged today "It was actually about Brax, I just wanted to know if he was feeling any better but I guess not"

"Case said he thinks all of Brax's running around the past few months is just catching up to him… him and Heath are taking turns keeping guard, making sure he rests and doesn't leave the house"

Charlie chuckled "I bet Brax isn't making it easy for them"

"Case said he's already tried sneaking out the house a few times to go check on the restaurant"

"What time you going over?" asked Charlie

Ruby shook her head "I'm not… you're only just out of the hospital…"

Charlie interjected "Ruby you've spent way too much time taking care of me… I'm ok now. So you're going" Ruby opened her mouth to argue but Charlie shook her head

"Look it's not every day your mum gives you permission to go to a boys house" Charlie chuckled "So I would take it before I change my mind"

Ruby smiled "Thank you. I best go get ready" she dug her phone out of her pocket and sent a text to Casey as she walked to her room

*I can come over if you still want me to* Ruby smiled as her phone vibrated within seconds

*Great. I'll pick you up at the diner in fifteen*

Charlie glanced at Bianca who's gaze had been firmly placed on her phone since they got home "Are you trying to get it to ring telepathically?" Charlie chuckled as Bianca looked up at her

"What?" she asked confused

"You, staring down at that phone like you're expecting it to speak to you. You expecting a call?" Charlie could see Bianca pondering on her answer and finally shake her head

"No not really" Bianca sighed and placed the phone down on the coffee table.

Charlie looked up as Ruby walked back into the living room "I promise I won't be gone long" she smiled as she spoke

Charlie nodded "You don't have to rush back but if you are going to be late text me or call me… actually call me. Ok? and not too late you have school in the morning"

Ruby nodded "I know and I will do but we're only hanging out at his place"

Charlie nodded "Well say hi to Casey for me"

"Will do bye guys" She closed the door behind her and Charlie turned back to Bianca and caught her gaze quickly flick over to her phone

"Ok B, what's going on? You're acting really weird"

Bianca looked up at her and shook her head again "Nothing, just ignore me" Just as Bianca spoke her phone beeped and Charlie cocked an eyebrow as Bianca's hand bolted towards the phone. Charlie watched as she opened up the message but Bianca's eyes dulled

"Not who you were expecting?" asked Charlie

"Err it's just April, I said I would go over for dinner tonight"

Charlie sighed she had been meaning to talk to Bianca about it "B"

"Umm" Bianca looked

"I'm not sure if I have already, but I really want to say thank you" before Bianca could speak Charlie quickly continued "No just let me finish" Charlie exhaled "You have always been there for me, since we were kids; you've always been my person. I must have done something good in a past life to have been given you as my best friend. You have helped me through so much and I'm not just talking about these past few months" Bianca nodded in recognition of what Charlie was talking about "So thank you, because I'm not sure I would have got through a lot of what I have done if it wasn't for you. I love you… and your bossiness" Charlie chuckled as Bianca got up from the single couch and sat next to Charlie; pulling her into a hug

"I love you too Cici" Bianca pulled away from the hug and Charlie laughed

"Oh wow you haven't called me that in years" said Charlie at the name Bianca used to address her by when they were growing up

"And yet you still call me B"

Charlie shrugged with a smile "I like it" she exhaled and spoke again "So I know April has been missing you"

Bianca nodded "Yea I've tried to spend as much time with her as possible but I it's not the same as seeing her at home"

"That's why you're moving back to Irene's" said Charlie

Bianca cocked an eyebrow "Are you kicking me out?"

Charlie nodded "Yep. You've taken care of me for too long… if I keep you any longer April might have my head. And I'm sure Irene misses you too, plus it's not like you have to worry about bumping into Nicole in the house"

Bianca sighed "I've missed them too"

"So it's settled then… you move back at the end of the week, I still want you around for a few days yet and hopefully I'll be able to get you to tell me who it is that's got you glued to that phone of yours" said Charlie with a smile

"Do you want something to drink?" asked Casey as he looked down at Ruby who was now sat on the couch

"Juice" she smiled. Casey nodded and walked into the kitchen coming back out a few seconds later

"Here you go" he passed her the cup and Ruby smiled up at him as she took it

"Thank you" she looked around the living room as Casey sat down next to her

"What?" Casey asked as he noticed her wondering eyes

"No, nothing bad it's just… given that three guys live here this place is pretty clean, spotless even"

Casey chuckled "Don't let this deceive you… this place as its moments"

"I can just imagine" Ruby chuckled as she placed her cup down on the coffee table and looked up at Case "So…" she smiled sheepishly at him

"Err" Casey rubbed the back of his neck with his hand "I had a really good time the other day"

Ruby nodded "Me too, and next time we can watch something of your choice" Ruby smiled knowing her movie preference hadn't been an interest of Casey's

"So there's definitely going to be a next time?" Asked Casey

Ruby looked over at him meekly "I hope so"

Casey grinned at her an exhaled as he decided to do something he had wanted to do during their first date. Turning to her he slowly brought his hand to her cheek, watching her as he did so. At the smile that broke out on her face he relaxed as he brought his head closer to hers only to realise Ruby was also closing the gap.

The kiss was soft but sweet as Casey took her bottom lip in-between his. Ruby placed her hand over his that was on her cheek before the both of them finally pulled away

Ruby smiled over at him a deep blush rushing to her face as Casey peered at her with a smile.

"I like you Ruby… Like really like you" said Casey hoping he was making himself clear

"I hope so… I don't usually just go around kissing just anybody"

Casey chuckled "Good to know" Finally taking his hand from her cheek he looked to the TV then back at Ruby "Do you want to watch a movie or something? Really don't want you to go yet"

Ruby nodded "A movie would be nice" She shuffled as Casey got up to the DVD player "Is Brax asleep?" she asked as he walked back to the couch and sat down

"I hope so" said Casey

"So what we watching?"

Casey sat back on the couch "Die Hard two"

Ruby turned to him with a cocked eyebrow "Die Hard two"

Casey nodded and smirked "You did say next time I get to choose and I'm also hoping a little violence freaks you out… that way you'll move a little closer to me"

Ruby shook her head and tried to hide the smile on her face "Oh well in that case, Die Hard it is" curling her legs underneath her she leaned into Casey as the movie started a smile settled on both their faces

Bianca's phone beeped for what seemed like the millionth time, only dfference was reading the last few texts she didn't hold the same expression she had when the text had been from April. No, Charlie observed the smile that tugged at the corner of her lips… the way she bit into the inside of her cheek as she replied back

Bianca suddenly looked up at Charlie "Charlie I'm going to have to leave a little earlier than expected… I have a few things I have to do before I go over to Irene's for dinner"

"Oh ok… what've you got planned?" asked Charlie

Bianca shook her head as she got up from her seat "Nothing important just a few errands to run" she stood up to her feet and made her way for the door before stopping "I forgot Ruby's not home" she sighed

"Bianca go… Ruby will be back soon and you've already feed me so I'll be fine"

Bianca flipped her phone between her fingers "You sure" she shook her head "Actually no, you know what, I'll just get to them another time"

"Bianca no I said go I'll be fine… I think you guys are forgetting I'm no longer a Cancer patient"

"You absolutely sure?" asked Bianca

Charlie nodded "Yes I am, now go" Charlie waved her off

"I'll see you later tonight if you're not asleep by the time I get in"

"Ok" Charlie watched as Bianca closed the door behind her. She knew something was going on with Bianca; they had never kept a thing from one another, so she was having a hard time trying to figure out what it could be. Shaking the thought from her head she looked up at the time before standing to her feet and going into her room. She sighed as she propped a few pillows on the head rest and lay down. She could see herself from the full length mirror that covered the front of the sliding wardrobe. Running her hand over the scarf on her head she took it off and peered at herself again in the mirror.

Her hands ran over her scalp gently tracing the kinks; her eyes lids closed together as she thought of what she had been through these past few months, what Ruby and Bianca had had to endure and a small smile tugged on her face. She wasn't deluding herself she knew she still had long way to go concerning her health and getting back to the way things used to be but she knew the worse of it was over and then her thoughts ended on Brax.

Picking up her phone from her bed side table, she dialled his number without hesitation. She smiled as he picked up almost immediately

"Hy" Brax voice came groggily over the phone

"You wasn't asleep was you?" Charlie asked as she moved further down the bed, her back now lay flat

Brax shook his head although knowing he couldn't see her "Na just woke up not long ago… sorry I didn't call today, I know you were getting out but I somehow managed to sleep right through the day" Brax ran his hand through his hair

"No it's fine I'd much rather you look after yourself . I know you would have called if you could"

Brax smiled "Good. So how you feeling?"

"Good" Charlie chuckled "Really good."

Brax found the smile on his face lift higher at the happiness and relief of her voice, and then Charlie spoke again

"And you? Casey and Heath said you've been down with a fever" Charlie's toned turned softer with obvious worry

"I feel much better" he replied honestly "I think I just needed some down time for a few days" replied Brax

"Good, you shouldn't work yourself so hard"

"Well Casey and Heath have been keeping guard to make sure I don't work at all"

Charlie chuckled "Yea Ruby told me"

"I think she was just here actually… sure I heard her voice"

"Yea Casey invited her round" Charlie smiled as she thought of Ruby and Casey

"He really likes her you know" said Brax

"Well I'm pretty sure she feels the same, I'm just glad something good is finally happening to her"

"Same with Case, every time his phone goes off he grins like a school kid; I don't even bother asking who it is"

Charlie let out a laugh "Well I'm sure you've had a girl that's made you grin like that before"

Brax smirked "Maybe"

"Maybe?" questioned Charlie "That's not an answer. It's either a yes or a no"

Brax chuckled "It's the only answer I got… for now"

Charlie was about to reply when she heard the front door close and her Ruby calling for her


"Ruby's back" she told Brax

"That's fine, I should go get something to eat. I'll talk to you later" said Brax

"Ok. Bye" replied Charlie as she hung up the phone and placed in on the bed

"In my room Ruby"

Charlie smiled as Ruby walked into the room flicking off her sandals before getting in beside Charlie; a smile plastered on her face

"I take it that smile isn't because you're just really happy to see me" said Charlie

"I am happy to see you" replied Ruby

"I know but I'm not the cause of that smile. I take it things went well with Casey"

Ruby nodded her head and lowered her gaze as she blushed slightly "I think we're together together"

"You think?"

Ruby nodded "We didn't come out and say it but it was implied… and we kissed" she smiled sheepishly

Charlie chuckled "Well I for one I'm glad, I like Casey; I think he could be good for you and you him"

"I like him too" replied Ruby caused Charlie to let out a little laugh "Case did want to come in and say hi but he didn't trust Brax to not try and leave the house so he rushed back"

Charlie chuckled "I don't think he's planning on going anywhere" Ruby raised an eyebrow and Charlie spoke "I was just on the phone to him, he is still safely in the house"

Ruby lay her head on Charlie's chest "Is it weird that I am happier now than I was before all this happened. I mean I was happy then but now I just…" she didn't know how to phrase her words

"I know what you mean" said Charlie "It kind of feels like we've been given a second chance to start all over again"

Ruby nodded "Yea it does"

Two Days later

It was now Friday Bianca and Ruby had left for school and Charlie now sat on the couch aimlessly flicking through the TV channels. She turned as a knock came to the door. Standing to her feet she smiled as she swung the door open to find Brax stood on the other side

"So I'm officially all rested up and well again, so I figured I could keep you company… I know Rubes and Bianca are at school"

Charlie moved to the side and let him into the house "You not working at the restaurant today?"

"Not till tonight… I left Sam in charge; the boy knows what he's doing" said Brax as he sat down on the couch; placing the brown paper bag in his hand on the centre table and two coffee cups. Charlie soon sitting down next to him

"And I figured I would feed you… I'm guessing you probably haven't eaten this morning?" he raised an eyebrow as he looked at her while he emptied the bag

"I was going to but then I got so comfortable on the couch" she looked at him sheepishly as he chuckled and pulled the content out of the bag

"Here I got you a cheese and ham toasty. Your friend Leah said you like them" passing her the toasty he slid one of the coffee cups closer to her "I also know Bianca and Ruby will most likely not permit you have coffee just yet so if you don't tell, I won't" he looked up at her now and smiled at the look on her face


Charlie shook her head "Nothing" her smile placed as she unwrapped her toasty "Thank you"

Brax shrugged it off as he unwrapped his own toasty and took a bit, Charlie watching him the whole time

"If you have to be at the restaurant you should be there Brax… I really don't need babysitting" Even Charlie could hear the halfheartedness in her voice

But Brax simply ignored Charlie as he picked up the TV remote "I'd rather be here"

Charlie smiled at his words and relaxed turning her gaze back to the TV as Brax continued to flick through it

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the comments guys :)


But Brax simply ignored Charlie as he picked up the TV remote "I'd rather be here"

Charlie smiled at his words and relaxed turning her gaze back to the TV as he continued to flick through it

One month later

Brax smiles as Charlie and Ruby walk through the back door and into their garden. Ruby instantly walking over to Casey and Charlie making her way over to him as he manned the barbecue

"So you finally decided to show up" spoke Brax as Charlie stopped in front of her

"Blame my child… she's out to impress a certain Braxton" they both looked over to Ruby who was now stood wrapped in Casey's arms

"I think she's already done that" replied Brax as he looked down at the steak on the grill before looking back up at Charlie

"My hair is what usually takes me ages and I haven't got much right now so…"

"I like the short style, I think it suits you… you don't need that scarf" said Brax

Charlie ran her hand over the scarf on her head "You have to say that"

"No I don't" replied Brax and Charlie smiled "You want something to drink?" he questioned

"Water" replied Charlie and Brax nodded before turning around and picking a bottle of water out of the cooler behind him


Taking it with a smile Charlie unscrewed the lid "Thanks". Scanning the garden for a moment Charlie looked at Brax "Is Bianca not here yet?"

Brax's gaze darted from Charlie for a moment "Err yea she is… she must be inside somewhere"

Charlie frowned at Brax "The door was wide open when we got here and there was no one in the living room"

Before Brax could answer Bianca walked through the back door a smile plastered on her face until her gaze met Charlie's. Quickly picking her smile back up, she walked over to Charlie and Brax

"Charlie I thought you wasn't going to be here till later"

Charlie nodded "Ruby didn't take as long as I thought she would"

Charlie squinted her gaze as Heath walked into the garden; the same smile that had been placed on Bianca's face when she had walked out was now settled on his face

"Where have you been?" asked Charlie

Bianca cleared her throat before speaking "Toilet" she answered before walking to the cooler and picking up a bottle of water

Everyone had eaten, Casey and Ruby had retired to a corner in the garden leaving Brax, Charlie, Bianca and Heath sat together talking. Charlie had tuned out of the conversation as she watched Bianca and Heath. She frowned her eyebrow at the smile on Bianca's face whenever she glanced in Heaths direction or their immense almost annoying attempt to include both her and Brax in their conversation. Her right brow cocked up as Heath's legs brushed past Bianca's and a red glow rose to her cheeks. Like clockwork it finally ticked in Charlies head

"You and Heath" the words left Charlie's mouth before she had registered them but she was sure she had figured out what was going on

"What?" Bianca's gaze grew wide as she looked at Charlie

"This is the first time in a month that we've been together for longer than twenty minutes without your phone going off… and that look" said Charlie

"What look?" Bianca feigned ignorance

Charlie ignored Bianca and spoke again "Why didn't you tell me?" she looked at Bianca confused as to why she was still denying the obvious

"Err we're going to go and..." Brax paused before sighing "We're just going to go" He and Heath were out of their seat and out of sight in seconds

Bianca looked to Charlie and sighed "I'm really sorry Charlie… I just-"

"You guys obviously aren't trying to be too discrete about it so I don't get why you didn't say anything"

Bianca wedged her hands in between her thighs "At first I didn't want to say anything till I was sure there was anything to say something about"

"And now?" asked Charlie

"Now, I didn't want to upset you" answered Bianca

"Upset me?" Charlie asked confused

"You've had a hard year Charlie, with the cancer and…" Bianca sighed her eyes softening the more "and Angelo"

Charlie exhaled, finally realising why Bianca had kept quiet about her and Heath but still surprised that she hadn't picked it up sooner "You thought you being in a relationship would remind me of Angelo?"

Bianca nodded "I didn't want to rub your nose in it"

Charlie shook her head and chuckled "You're an idiot you know that. Bianca you don't have to hide things from me just because you think they might upset me must especially your relationships" Charlie smiled "I'm your best friend it's my job to hear all the juicy gossip about the new man in your life before anybody else... especially one with as many tattoos as Heath"

Bianca chuckled "I know. I've been dying to tell you. I swear I've almost slipped up once or twice"

"Since when?" asked Charlie

"About a week after your surgery; I went into the restaurant and he was there and we got talking and then he asked if I wanted to go out for a drink with him sometime"

"That long" Charlie eye's widened a little

"I know I'm sorry. I promise to never keep anything from you again... ever" Bianca pouted at Charlie "So am I forgiven?"

"I really want to stay mad at you" Charlie gave a pointed look "But I don't think I can" Charlie chuckled "You…and Heath" she asked in disbelief

"I know trust me; I'm as surprised as you are"

Charlie frowned as she thought of earlier "Do I want to know where the two of you disappeared to before?"

Bianca looked at Charlie meekly and cleared her throat "It's probably best I save you the details"

"Bianca" Charlie shrieked as she and Bianca laughed

As their laughter subside Charlie smiled at Bianca "I'm really happy for you B… after the way things turned out with Liam you deserve to be happy"

"I'm happy for me too, but its early days yet"

Charlie turned back to see Heath looking in their direction his gaze on Bianca

"Oh I think you got him smitten" she laughed before speaking a little louder "All clear guys, you can come back now" Charlie spoke out loud and Heath and Brax made their way over

"So…" Heath glanced at Bianca

"She knows" confirmed Bianca

"Good, I can do this now" Heath smirked as he leaned forward and placed a kiss on Bianca's lips

"Yea I know, but tone down the PDA" said Charlie as she turned to Brax "Did you know about this?"

Brax frowned and scratched the side of his head quickly defending himself "I told them to tell you but they refused"

"Nice" said Heath as he looked at Brax "Cover your own ass"

Brax raised his beer in salute "Always"

Two months later

"Are you sure?" Brax cocked an eyebrow as he looked up at Charlie from behind the bar

Charlie sighed before resting her elbows on the bar and propping her chin into her knuckles "You're just as bad as Ruby, you know that"

"Well she's just looking out for you…so am I"

"I know" Charlie exhaled as she shuffled on the stool "But I'm tired of just sitting at home feeling useless, I need to get back out there"

Brax placed the glass cup he was cleaning down onto the bar and looked at Charlie "When you say get back out there…" he let the end of his sentence linger in the air as he peered attentively at her

Realising what he thought she had meant Charlie quickly shook her head, a small chuckle escaping her lips "No Brax I didn't mean the army" Brax's shoulder's visibly relaxed "I meant get back to working… anything"

Brax nodded "Well apart from the army, what jobs would you like to do"

Charlie looked at him blankly as she bit into her bottom lip before her shoulders sagged "Honestly nothing, I've never thought as far as the army"


Charlie shook her head "Nope never… when I was over there I kind of just took it a day at a time"

Brax nodded and leaned his arms on the bar leaning a little closer to her "Ok what are you good at then?"

Charlie looks at Brax as if in thought before sighing in defeat "Nothing, I've never had any other job"

Brax frowned "You must have had at least one job before the army"

"Apart from a waitressing gig I had for about four weeks when I was seventeen I have nothing"

"How good were you at it?" asked Brax

Charlie shrugged "Ok I guess… I didn't spill any drinks on the customers at least"

Brax chuckled as Charlie swatted his arm "This isn't funny Brax…I'm not used to just sitting on my back side all day and I can't keep coming in here and disturbing you when you're supposed to be working"

Brax leaned off the bar and picked up the glass he had been cleaning before turning around and placing it with the rest "You don't disturb me" he turned back to face her "Let's say I have a proposition for you" he grinned and Charlie cocked an eyebrow

"What kind of proposition?"

"Well you need a job and as it happens I need a new waitress, so…"

"You want me to work for you?" asked Charlie as she sat up properly her back straightening

"If you want the job then yea"

Charlie nodded her head vigorously and Brax chuckled "Are you kidding…of course I want the job" her smile grew "I promise you won't regret this Brax"

"I know I won't but if I see that you're over working yourself or you're tired I have the right to send you home to rest"

Charlie scoffed "Even if my shift isn't over"

"Yep even if your shift isn't over and you don't work more than the hours allocated to you… nothing more not even over time or covering other people's shift"

"But" Charlie started to protest but Brax cut her off

"No buts Charlie… take it or leave it" he looked at her grinning as she crossed her hands over her chest and hoofed

"Fine" she finally gave in before jumping off her stool and walking around the bar

"What you doing?" asked Brax

"I figured I could start learning the ropes now" smiled Charlie. Seeing that Brax was about the protest she quickly spoke "I have told you what a great friend you are, haven't I" she batted her eyes causing Brax to laugh

"Flattery will get you nowhere Charlie"

Charlie sweet smile turned into a grin "Well about about bribery?"

"Depends what I'm being birded with?" Brax leaned his back against the bar his arms now folded

"Dinner at mine tonight...?"

"Oh well with food involved how could I possibly say no"

"You can't" replied Charlie her grin still placed

"Come on then" Brax leaned off the bar walked behind her before nudged her forward "Lets teach you how to clean glasses"

"Brax" she xcliamed and hit him on the cheat a grin plastered on his face as she stood in front of him till a voice caught both their attention


Looking up Brax saw his mum walking into the restaurant examining her surrounding as she walked closer to the bar

"What the hell are you doing here?" asked Brax

"Daryl, that's no way to speak to your mother. Plus I heard you got yourself a new fancy restaurant, I wanted to check it out myself" her smile was stiff

Charlie glanced at Brax before looking back to Cheryl, Brax's words about how she had left during Casey's battle with cancer came back to her

"What you looking at?" Cheryl sneered at Charlie and Brax edged forward but his gaze travelled up as Heath and Casey walked into the restaurant

"I thought we just told you to go back to where you were coming from" spoke Heath as he and Casey stood behind Cheryl

Cheryl turned to the both of them "You boys have no respect for your elders"

"Mum what do you want?" asked Casey his voice not as rough as Brax and Heath's but also as dismissive

Charlie looked between the three men as they glared at their mother with un welcoming eyes

"I just came to see my boys… I am allowed aren't I"

"Actually no you're not, so leave. I'm not your boy, Heath's not your boy and Casey definitely isn't your boy" Brax spat his words at Cheryl his right heel tapping impatiently against the floor

Cheryl ignored Brax and smiled at Casey "You wouldn't turn your mother away would you?"

Charlie watched as Casey looked at her angered "You're not a mother"

Cheryl scoffed and turned to Heath "I know you understand me don't you Heath" she smiled warmly at Heath a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes

Heath cocked an eyebrow and chuckled disgusted "You're kidding right. He had cancer and you just upped and left me and Brax to take care of him… are you deluded"

Cheryl rolled her eyes "What's the big deal… it obviously didn't kill him"

Brax gritted him teeth "Get out"

Cheryl turned to him "What?"

"You heard me get out and don't come back… ever"

"You boys can't just shut me out… where am I supposed to go"

"Back to where you were coming from would be a start" said Casey before he looked to Brax "I dont have time for this, I have to go… I'm meeting Ruby at the diner" turning around he walked out of the restaurant

Charlie stood rooted to the spot unable to peel her eyes away from the scene unfolding in front of her.

"You boys are ungrateful you know that"

Charlie felt herself wince as she heard Brax's jaws grinding together harshly

"Ungrateful, ungr…" Brax chuckled "You are unbelievable" walked around the bar he made his way to the entrance "I want you out of here before I get back, you got that"

Cheryl sighed and Charlie couldn't figure out how she could be so unfazed by the treatment she was getting by her own children

"Fine I'll get out of your hair" she ran her hand through her thin hair "I'm just a little short on cash at the moment"

Heath shook his head "Should have figured that was the only reason you would bother showing your face"

"You're not getting a dime, you got that" Brax shot her a glare before descending down the stairs

Charlie stood for a moment before edging round the bar to follow Brax

"And who are you… another fling of his?"

Charlie stood, taken aback "Just a friend" she answered before turning to leave

"I bet he doesn't hesitate to give you money" Cheryl sneered in Charlie's direction

Standing for a moment Charlie finally turned back to Cheryl "I'm not in his life because of his money… I actually care about him" and with that she turned and walked down the stair in search for Brax

"You're not an easy guy to find Braxton" Charlie sat beside Brax in a secluded part of the beach

"You know it's customary to ask if you can sit" spoke Brax

Charlie shrugged "I've never been one for custom"

Silence fell as they both watched the waves till Brax spoke with a sigh "I'm sorry you had to see that"

Charlie turned to him "Don't be, you didn't do anything wrong. I'm sorry thing aren't different with her for you guys"

Brax chuckled "It's been like that for as long as I can remember" Charlie remained silence waiting for him to speak again. Hoping he would. "We've never been a normal family, even before the old man left. Funny thing is I actually thought that's how all families were" Brax wiped the non-existent dust from his jeans "I thought all dads were aggressive like ours and that all mothers sloughed around like she did until I was old enough to know better"

"So it was just as bad when you guys were younger?" asked Charlie wanting to know more about the things that made Brax the person he was

"The old man wasn't exactly the most patient parent out there. He spent more time yelling and drinking than he did anything else. Heath would never admit it but he was so afraid of him, we used to walk on shells around him and never once did mum say a word, she just watched"

"That's why you said you guys were better off without him" added Charlie

Brax nodded "Yea that, and plus the time he beat me to a pulp"

Charlie's eyes widened "he what?" her voice came in a whisper, a shiver running down her spine at his words

"Casey was about three weeks old, and dad just seemed more aggravated than usual. I just had this feeling he was close to snapping" Brax exhaled "One afternoon mum was at work at least that what she says...and dad was supposed to be looking after Case but Case wouldn't stop crying. Dad started shouting about never getting any peace and quiet and Heath was only seven at the time. He walked up to Casey's cot and started pulling the most ridiculous faces st him, it did the trick too cause it got him to stop crying but the old man just flipped" Charlie swallowed a growing lump as Brax continued "It was like I saw it before it happened; he just lunged at Heath, but thankfully I wasn't standing too far from them so I blocked Heath from his reach. All I remember was him laying into me over and over and Heath begging him to stop. But he just pushed Heath to the floor and continued kicking" Brax shook his head "When he finally stopped he just looked down at me and said 'Not so tough now ay'"

Charlie cringed unable to phantom how any parent could be so cruel

"You wanna know the worse part…Mum came home and didn't even blink when she saw the bruises on my face. She just acting like nothing was wrong and still all these years we have done nothing but look after her... but now I'm done"

"You surprise me, you know that" said Charlie and Brax turned to her "You've been through all that and you're still a pretty amazing person"


Charlie nodded "Yea nothing short of amazing" she smiled at him before asking "Is that what lead you to whatever you did that landed you in an orange jump suit?" she looked at him attentively

"The old man left with everything and we needed money" Brax sighed "Some guys approached me about helping them deliver a few packages in exchange for cash… and honestly at the time I didn't even think twice. Mum was spending all her money on booze and we were always scraping for food. I'm not proud of it but at the time I was desperate so I said yes. I had been doing it for a long while before I got caught with some of their stuff on me and got community service… hence the orange jumpsuit"

Charlie nodded "You didn't have to tell me any of that… thank you"

Brax shrugged "I trust you"

One week later

Brax laughed as he flipped the last chair onto the table as Charlie tried for what seemed like the millionth time to make a long island iced tea

"What is it that I'm doing wrong" groaned Charlie as she screwed her face seemingly unimpressed by the taste of the drink

Brax shook his head and walked behind the bar taking the shaker from her hand "Let's try that again"

Taking an empty shaker he placed it in Charlie's hands and instructed her on what liquors to pour into the shaker.

"Now give it a good shake" Brax placed his hand over Charlie's as he shook the mixture together "We should have a perfect long island iced tea. Pouring some into a glass, Charlie took a sip

"How did you do that, that's exactly what I did before" Charlie turned to face him

Brax chuckled "It's a gift" he winked and Charlie hit his chest

Brax smiled as he realised how close the both of them stood. He examined the look on Charlie's face letting him know she was well aware of their lack of distance between one another. His eyes moved from her eyes and darted to her lips as he contemplated closing the distance between them. Just as he went to step forward his phone rang and Charlie broke her gaze from his

Groaning internally he picked up his phone only for it to be Heath asking when he would be home with the pizzas. Finally cutting off, Charlie had already cleared the bar and was now stood on the other side

"Ready to go?" she asked with a smile

Brax nodded "Yea let me just go get the pizzas from the kitchen"

Brax had thought the silence in the car as he drove to Charlie's was a little odd till he turned to her to find her asleep. He smiled at the way her short hair spiked up before looking back at the road ahead. To his surprise she remained asleep as he opened the passenger door and lifted her into his arms

He smiled as Ruby opened the door with a raised eyebrow "She conked out in the car"

Ruby chuckled "You can take her into her room" she opened the door wide allowing Brax into the house before directing him to Charlie's room

"I'll be right back" said Ruby as Brax walked over to the bed and placed Charlie down gently. He smiled as she squirmed before settling back into a deep sleep. Pulling her duvet over her he moved to stand straight before his eyes darted to the opened drawer of her bedside table. His eye caught the singe silver diamond ring that sat inside. He looked at it for a moment longer before standing upright. His gaze travelled back to Charlie and he sighed and he shook his head before turning to leave

Ruby was walking down the hall as he closed Charlie's room door

"She wake up?" asked Ruby

Brax shook his head "Na she's out cold. I best get off" he smiled at her but Ruby noticed the difference in him from when he entered the house

"You ok?" she asked

"Yep all good; Night" he nodded at her before walking down the hall and out the front door

Ruby frowned and walked into Charlie's room, placing a glass of water on her bedside drawer before her eye caught what was sitting inside the open drawer and suddenly Brax's change in mood made sense; she knew he must have seen the ring.

Sighing she looked down at Charlie and exhaled before leaving her room

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Thank you JarlieFanEver, really glad you are enjoying this fic. However it seems to be only you, Danni and Freakie42 who read it on this site so unfortunately this will be the last chapter I post on this site for this fic. I will still be posting on fanfic.net so if you guys want to continue reading and I hope you do, you can find it on that site. Thanks and Enjoy :)


Ruby frowned and walked into Charlie's room and placing a glass of water on her bedside drawer before her eye caught what was sitting inside the open drawer and suddenly Brax change in mood made sense; she knew he must have seen the ring.

Sighing she looked down at Charlie and exhaled before leaving her room

Looking to the other side of the restaurant Brax caught Charlie's eye and raised an eyebrow. He grinned as she rolled her eyes before clearing the table she was at and walking towards the bar

"I know, it's time for my break" she sighed as she walked into the kitchen

Walking out moments she had now discarded of her black apron and propped herself onto a stool in front of the bar "You know I could have worked a little longer"

Brax shrugged "Doesn't matter, I'm not having you over working yourself; that's what breaks are for and you have to take one"

Charlie exhaled "Fine, I might go to the diner; the foods better over there" she hopped off her stool a cheeky smile on her face

Brax grinned and placed his hand over his chest as she walked away "You hurt my feelings Charlie"

He heard her chuckled as she descended down the steps only for Heath to walk in

Heath caught Brax's eye on Charlie and shook his head chuckling lightly "Your catching flies" Heath chuckled harder as Brax looked at him un amused before returning to what he was doing

"So when are you gonna tell her?" asked Heath as he walked behind the bar and helped himself to a beer before setting himself onto a stool

Brax looked up and passed the tray of drinks to one of his waiters before looking at Heath "What you talking about?"

Heath took a healthy gulp of his beer before replying "Charlie, when are you gonna tell her?"

Brax sighed "Tell her what?"

Heath scoffed "Really… you're gonna play dumb"

"Heath get to the point or get back to the gym where you're supposed to be... And I'm sure you're not supposed to be drinking on the job"

Heath drank the rest of his beer in one before placing the empty bottle back on the bar "The whole, we're just friends thing is getting old… and boring" he smirked "I get you couldn't make a move before because of everything that was going on, but you can't even use that as an excuse anymore"

Brax looked at Heath blankly and Heath sighed "I'm no genius but anyone within a ten mile radius of you can tell you got the hots for Buckton" Heath cocked his head "Well everyone except Buckton"

"Charlie?" Brax asked trying to feign ignorance

Heath chuckled "I hope so, because I don't think Casey would appreciate you making a move on Ruby, that would be gross"

Brax shot Heath a look "Charlie and I are just friends"

Heath nodded "I didn't say you weren't… I said you have the hots for her" Heath stood from the stool "You're just to chicken to make a move" Heath grinned "Thanks for the beer" and with that he made his way out of the restaurant

Brax watched Heath and chuckled to himself, trying to convince himself Heath was being stupid. But then his thoughts returned to the previous week when he had seen the engagement ring in Charlie' draw, which he could only assume had been the one Angelo had given her. He recalled his disappointment but at the time he wasn't sure what he was disappointed at so he had let it slid. He then recalled the moment he was sure they had shared that same night just before his phone rang, but like he had done with the ring he had simply dismissed it; telling himself he was just being stupid. But as Charlie walked back into the restaurant he couldn't help but smile as she grinned sheepishly at him and walked behind the bar

"Forgot my bag" she spoke with a smile before picking up her bag from behind the bar "See you soon" she said as she walked out of the restaurant again

"See you" replied Brax as he watched her

"Hy" Charlie looked up as Bianca walked into the diner

"I hope Brax isn't working you too hard" Bianca smiled as she opposite Charlie

Charlie scoffed "Please, he keeps watching me like a hawk… practically forced me to take a break"

"Good" replied Bianca "We don't want you working yourself too hard"

"That's what he keeps saying, but I'm fine"

"Well he cares about you" replied Bianca a sly smile on her face; one which Charlie picked up almost immediately

"What's with the creepy smile" Charlie squinted

"I do not have a creepy smile"

Charlie nodded "You do, you just did it then when you mentioned about Brax"

"I don't know what you're talking about" replied Bianca smiling up at Irene as she placed her coffee on the table "Thank you Irene"

"Your welcome doll" Irene smiled down at both Charlie and Bianca

Charlie waited for Irene to leave before speaking again "So what gives, do you know something I don't know?" She ran her hands through her pixie short hair

Bianca shook her head "No I was just wondering what the deal is with you and Brax"

Charlie frowned "The deal? What do you mean the deal?"

"You know…" Bianca raised her eyebrow suggestively and Charlie shook her head

"Actually no I don't know, why don't you tell me?"

"Well" Bianca leaned forward leaning her elbows on the table her hands wrapped around her cup "That was my way of asking how you feel about him"

"About Brax?" Charlie asked surprised

Bianca chuckled "Yes about Brax" Bianca took in Charlie's expression and rolled her eyes "Are you trying to tell me that you've never thought of him as more than a friend"

Charlie peered at Bianca "You think I like Brax?

Bianca shook her head "I know you do"

"Bianca you've got it wrong, we're just friends" Charlie shook her head as she spoke trying to deny Bianca's words

"And that's true, you guys are just friends, but give me a reason why you can't be more than that"

"Because we're friends" Charlie's eyes widened slightly as she replied. She sighed in relief as their food arrived but it seemed Bianca was far from done with the topic

"That's not really a reason... if anything the fact that you guys are already friends and you already know the kind of person he is should make you more inclined to try and maybe push things past the friends barrier"

Trying to buy herself sometime before replying Charlie too a chunky bite from her spicy wrap as Bianca waited for some sort of response Finally digesting the content in her mouth Charlie shook her head unconvincingly "I don't agree" Desperate to get the spot light off herself Charlie remembered what she had not yet told Bianca "I actually have something to tell you"

"About Brax?" Bianca's face lit up with a smile

"Yes about Brax... but not in the way you're thinking"

"Oh ok. Shoot"

"Remember that time after Ruby was born when I kinda ran away"

Bianca looked at Charlie unsure "When you said you only made it as far Alexander park in the city?"

Charlie nodded "Yeah that"

"Yeah I remember. Why?"

"Remember the boy I told you about?" asked Charlie

Bianca dug her fork into her salad "Yeah, orange jump suit boy that you spent weeks talking about"

"It was Brax" said Charlie as she watched for Bianca's reaction

Bianca frowned as she swallowed "You've lost me...What was Brax?"

"Orange jump suit boy... it was Brax" said Charlie

"What?" asked Bianca as she frowned at Charlie "Orange jump suit boy is Brax? as in Heaths Brax?" she asked obviously not convinced

Charlie nodded and chuckled "I know... at first I didn't realise but then I remembered him"

"Are you sure you're not getting them mixed up. Charlie you saw this boy once and it was what... sixteen years ago or so"

Charlie shook her head "No it's him...He remembered as well"

"Brax remembered you from that day?"

Charlie chuckled "He told m when he was in my room the day of my surgery"

Bianca dropped her fork and cocked an eyebrow "So let me get this straight. Orange jump suit boy that somehow convinced you to come back, is Brax. Brax was the boy in the orange jump suit" Bianca clarified and Charlie nodded

"Brax was the boy in the orange jump suit"

Bianca's eyes widened in surprise "And you both still recognised each other after all these years?"

"Well not straight away, but yeah we did"

Bianca nodded "And you're only just telling me this"

Charlie shrugged "I forgot"

"You don't forget things like that Charlie" Bianca sighed "So not only did he stop you from making a mistake all those years ago, he was pretty much there through your whole cancer treatment but you don't think he is suitable enough to be more than just your friend"

Charlie looked over at Bianca unspoken and Bianca took the opportunity to speak again

"Just think about it Charlie… because I've seen how happy you are around him and you deserve to be happy" she gave Charlie a pointed look before focusing on her food

Two Days Later

"That table over there asked me to give you this" Brax handed Charlie the money as he nodded to the family of four that were now making their way out of the restaurant "You're fast becoming a favourite around here"

Charlie counted the money and her eyes widened "70 dollars…in tips"

Brax chuckled "They said you were exceptional" he spoke in a posh voice "It seems I should have offered you this job a long time ago" he edged around the bar and stood beside her as he cleaned up the empty glasses on the bar

Charlie's cocked an eyebrow and turned to him "I feel used Braxton" she teased him but received a smirk

"What was it you said about friends, I use you, you use me; it a vicious circle" Brax grinned as Charlie nudged him slightly

"Trust you to remember me saying that" she shook her head as she helped him clear up the bar

"I remember everything you say" replied Brax before smiling at her and backing into the kitchen

Charlie shook her head and laughed lightly just as Bianca, Ruby and April walked into Angelo's

"What's got you smiling?" asked Bianca as she set her bag on the stool beside her

Charlie shook her head "Nothing" she glanced between the three of them "You guys here to eat or keep me company"

"Eat" replied Ruby and April as Brax walked out of the kitchen

"Hy your food's nearly ready" he looked at the three girls before attending to a customer at the bar. Serving the customer he turned to Charlie who was looking at him expectantly

"You didn't tell me they were coming"

Brax grinned "You didn't ask" his reply received him a slap to the chest. He frowned as he rubbed his hand over his chest "I don't condone violence in my restaurant Buckton" he caught sight of the entrance, his eyes going back to Charlie before they flew back to the entrance. His grin faded as he saw the person walk through the entrance and slowly make their way over to the bar.

Charlie and the girls watched Brax's grin fade, and soon they all followed his gaze to the entrance. Charlie inhaled a sharp breath and Bianca and Ruby sneered as the person approached. The person's eyes locked on Charlie's

"Hi Charlie" he smiled wearily at her; unsure of the reception he was about to receive

"Angelo" she spoke his name unable to believe he was actually standing in front of her. She consciously ran her hand over her pixie hair, feeling exposed as she peered at him "What are you doing here?"

Angelo tried to ignore the daggers that were being sent his way by both Bianca and Ruby's glaring eyes as he looked at Charlie "I was hoping to find you actually"

"I think you misinterpreted her words, what she means is why are you back…we don't want you here" the words had come from Ruby

Angelo turned to the young girl who for seven years had been like a daughter to him but now she looked at him with only anger and hatred; it seemed his time away hadn't allowed her anger to subside. If anything Angelo felt she looked angrier and a lot more irritated than she had done before he left

"Rubes I…"

"My name is Ruby" she replied with a stern look

Angelo sighed "I err… I'm actually moving back to summer bay"

Charlie's eyes widened as did Bianca's and Ruby's

"What?" Bianca voiced harshly but quietly trying to keep her voice low as to not disturb the customers in the restaurant. She shook her head angrily "What happened to you moving to make things easier for Charlie? You really think it's ok for you and Nicole to be back here playing happy families"

Angelo exhaled "Look I'm sorry for everything ok, I wish I could take it all back but I can't" he ran his palm over the back of his neck and looked at Charlie "All I can do is try and make it up to you" he turned to Ruby "All of you"

"You can do that by turning around and never coming back" retorted Ruby

Charlie inhaled as she watched the scene before her "What do you want Angelo?"

"Five minutes… that's all I want, five minutes just to talk to you"

"What you want stopped mattering the moment you cheated on her with Nicole" spat Ruby

"Ruby…" Charlie sighed but Ruby shook her head

"No, don't Ruby me mum… why should what he wants matter"

"I'm due my break soon" spoke Charlie and Ruby and Bianca turned to her stunned but Charlie ignored their looks and turned to Brax. But before she could speak Brax beat her too it

"Go" that was all he said with a nod and a light sigh

Charlie smiled thankfully as she pulled her apron from her waist and moved from behind the bar "I'm only giving you five minutes" She looked up at Angelo before walking ahead of him out of the restaurant

Angelo sighed in relief and nodded as he followed her down the steps.

Bianca and Ruby seemed rooted to the spot as they looked on dumbfounded by Charlie's actions, both shocked that she actually obliged to his plea.

Brax felt his chest deflate as Charlie looked up at him; she wanted to go with Angelo. Refusing to allow himself show any reluctance he felt, he nodded and told her to go. He felt his shoulders slough as she walked out of the restaurant Angelo not far behind her. Shaking his head, he scolded himself for being so stupid as to letting himself listen to Heath. Quickly trying to distract himself and forget the feeling that was brewing up within him he went about clearing what little mess there was left around the bar

April who had been stood quiet between Ruby and Bianca during the whole scene now nudged the both of them in the arm and subtly nodded her head to Brax. Bianca and Ruby turned to him to find him occupying himself with cleaning the bar; they couldn't quiet see his face but his body language spoke louder than his words could. Ruby looked up at Bianca who shook her head wondering what Charlie was playing at.

Ruby opened her mouth to speak but Brax beat her to it

"You girls go sit down I'll get your food out to you now" barely looking up at them, he disappeared into the kitchen

Charlie stopped at the fence in front of the diner, her gaze fixed on the ocean in front of her. She felt Angelo's presence behind her but neither of the two of them spoke for a few seconds

"You look good Charlie" Angelo's gaze remained unwearied as he peered at her

Charlie turned to face him and shook her head lightly "What are you doing back here Angelo?"

"Honestly" Angelo sighed "I kept thinking of the one place I really wanted to be and I ended up here"

Charlie shook her head "No I mean here, now with me. You said you wanted to talk… so talk"

Angelo shuffled on the spot and drummed his thumb against his thigh an habit Charlie had learned a long time ago was only preformed when he was extremely nervous about something

"I meant what I said about you only have five minutes" said Charlie as she looked at him expectantly. Her arms wound around her body almost as if creating a shield against Angelo

"I err" he looked to the ground and exhaled before looking back up at Charlie "I didn't deserve you. I never did and what I did to you and to Ruby only proves that" he paused for a second before speaking again "I know I've said it a million times but Charlie… you have no idea how sorry I am, if I could go back and do it all over I would. I would have tried harder to be the person you wanted me to be, to be the person you deserved" he ran his hand through his hair "I just need you to know how sorry I am because not being with you and Ruby these last few months as killed me"

Charlie blinked at his words and asked the only question that had come to her mind as he was speaking "Where's Nicole?" she found her gaze quickly search her surrounding as if expecting Nicole to emerge from a corner with a baby in hand. She looked back at Angelo to find him shaking his head

"She's not with me"

"So what? You came to make sure we wouldn't stone her to death once she set foot into Summer Bay" Sarcasm ripped from Charlie's voice "Well there's no need… the both of you can do whatever you want"

"No you don't understand" said Angelo. He seemed to hesitate on his words before speaking "She's not here because we're not together anymore. We broke up not long after we left the bay"

The scoff left Charlie's lips before she could even register it "What, you didn't get your happy ever after… I find that hard to believe" the mock in her voice was laced thickly enough for him to identify it

"I guess I deserved that" he replied and Charlie provided no arguments to his words "I lost my way Charlie ok, it's that simple. And I will regret it forever"

"What about the baby?" asked Charlie she glanced away from Angelo as she thought back to seeing him and Nicole at the hospital all those months ago

"She lost it"

Angelo's words brought her back to the present

"What?" Charlie asked

"She lost the baby about a month after we got to the city"

Charlie stood a little lost for words. She had felt angry, betrayed and even jealous but she had never wished any bad on their unborn child.

"I'm really sorry to hear that" she finally spoke "Angelo I can't stop you from moving back here. I obviously have no dictation upon the actions you take" She prepared herself to walk away but stopped as Angelo spoke

"I know but I… I have enough regrets I don't want any more"

"What do you mean?" she asked

"If I don't tell you this I will regret it forever Charlie. I was going to wait give you time to get used to me being back but I cant" Angelo swallowed trying to moistened his dry throat before looking Charlie in the eye "I love you Charlie, and I know my actions aren't much to go by but I don't think I ever stop… I just allowed myself get lost"

Charlie inhaled a sharp breath as she peered at him. She wanted to shout at him, tell him to leave, tell him she never wanted to see him again. But instead she did nothing but simply peer at him before walking away no words spoken as she left him standing alone

She had intended on going back into the restaurant but knowing Ruby and Bianca were most probably still there Charlie turned and made her way down the beach, her feet dragging as she lost her self in thought. After walking for what seemed like forever, she decided Ruby and Bianca would have now left and made her way back to the restaurant. Walking through the entrance she looked to Brax who had his back turned to her as he served a table. Walking past him she walked towards the bar and smiled thankfully as one of the staff brought her a table's drink order. She quickly got to work eager to occupy her wondering mind

One Week Later

Although she had seen Angelo since his revelation, she had been thankful that he had kept his distance and not made any attempts at getting her to talk to him. But still the look in his eyes whenever he did see her spoke loudly to her.

Glad to be at work and away from the million questions about Angelo from Bianca and Ruby and their constant warning over the past week; Charlie had just placed the last of the drinks on the tray before she realised Brax had been stood in front of her. She looked up at him and had for the past two days expected for him to ask what Angelo had said? But he simply never brought it up. Now stood in front of her he gave a light smile

"Those ready to go out?" he asked and Charlie nodded

Taking the tray from the bar Brax turned his back to her making his way over to the table. The lunch shift seemed to drag unusually slowly and Charlie sighed thankfully as it came to an end. Untying her apron from her waist she picked up the scattered glasses on the bar before wiping the bar down. She wasn't sure how long she had been doing that for but Brax's voice broke her out of her trance

"I think that bar is pretty clean now"

She looked up at him and saw that in the time she had been cleaning the bar he had cleared must of the table and the few staff that were left had obviously gone for their break. Looking back at Brax she realised they had hardly spoken since she returned from her talk with Angelo two days ago… at least not like they usually did

"Sorry I was a little carried away"

"I see that… that's happened quiet a lot the last couple of days" replied Brax his gaze searching her features trying to read her expression "He didn't upset you did he?" he tried to mask any protectiveness in his voice

Charlie shook her head "No… not really. I haven't really spoken to him since we talked I've seen him but we haven't really spoken"

Brax nodded, he wanted to know what Angelo had said, what he and Charlie had talked about but he wasn't going to ask and it seemed he didn't need to as Charlie looked at him and sighed

"He's back for good"

Brax had caught that part from when Angelo had announced it in front of Bianca and Ruby "So he wants to make sure that's ok with you?"

Charlie shook her head "Not really. Do you know we were together for seven years?" Brax was sure she hadn't expected a response but yet he replied

"No I didn't know that"

Charlie nodded "We were… and until Nicole he was really good for me and Ruby. he took us even with all our baggage" her eyes darted away from Brax as she spoke and he knew whatever Angelo had said had to have affected her greatly "He was the only person apart from Bianca, my parent and my aunt that I had ever trusted with Ruby and he never once let me or her down" her gaze met Brax's again "Till Nicole"

Brax nodded unsure where this was going but feeling at alert as to where her words would end. He didn't speak just waited for her to continue

"I was so sure I was past all this…him. But now-"She left her sentence unfinished before starting another "Do you think you could ever forgive someone who really hurt you?"

Brax felt himself deflate for the second time that week. He knew there could only be one reason she would be asking these questions but still it didn't make sense "It depends how badly they hurt me"

Charlie kept her gaze on his for a moment before nodding "He err… He's not with Nicole anymore"

And then it all made sense to him… and suddenly he wished he hadn't broke her from her daze, maybe that would have saved him from this conversation

"What about the baby?" he asked. Surly even if she did want to forgive him, having to be around the baby he made with Nicole would have to be a deal breaker

Charlie sighed "He said she lost the baby not long after they left for the city"

"Wow" replied Brax

"Yea I know" added Charlie. She ran her hand through her pixie hair causing a few ends to stand "I would never wish that on anyone"

Brax shook his head "I know you wouldn't Charlie" he paused and then spoke again "So I'm guessing Nicole isn't returning to the bay"

"No, I don't think so"

Brax noticed her looking at him as if unsure if to speak what was on her mind. He knew the moment she decided to go for it

"He said he still loves me"

Brax wanted to roll his eyes or scoff at what she had just told him, but his face remained natural as he looked at her

"He did?"

"Yea he did"

He shouldn't ask but he couldn't help himself "And what did you say?"

Charlie shook her head "Nothing. I couldn't say anything, I just walked away"

Her words should have made him feel better but the look in her eye kept him anxious "But you wanted to?" he asked

Charlie sighed "I don't know" Charlie's gaze moved from his as one of the waiters walked back into the restaurant ready to start setting up for the evening shift.

Charlie exhaled as she picked up her bag from behind the bar "I should go" she edged around the bar and looked at him one last time "Thanks for listening"

Brax nodded "Anytime" and watched her walk out of the restaurant. Feeling a rush of emotions overcome him he pushed them away before they had chance to settle and like never before throw himself into work, trying to avoid analysing the sinking feeling he felt.

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