A/N- Final chapter, everyone. This is the last one. It's longer than the rest, so I hope you all enjoy it. I've been busy with life, but I figured I really need to finish this. I apologize again for the long wait. :) Happy reading…or…something like that. Heh. You know what I mean. Thanks to everyone for the support, and as before, personal responses to reviews are at the end.
Disclaimer- ::growls:: Fine, fine. I don't own the Mighty Ducks…but I'd sell my left foot into slavery if I could own Charlie. ::sweet smile::
"I've had it, Charlie! I can't handle it anymore!" The words echoed throughout the small apartment.
Charlie glanced down the hallway where his son and baby daughter were peacefully sleeping.
A deep-set frown etched itself firmly in his face as he told his wife to keep her voice down. He felt her anger burn into him, scorching the very thoughts he dared to think.
It had started out a deliriously happy marriage – just like a fairytale come to life. For several years, he played professional hockey for the Minnesota Wild while she went to college nearby. They had been married straight out of high school after dating all through senior year, and both were convinced they had found a soul mate in each other. He was an NHL- bound hockey star in the making, and she was a young ambitious beauty. Everything fit.
But as he watched the anger and malice bubbling up from behind his wife's cold eyes, he realized that after all that time they didn't truly know each other. They had both only seen what they wanted to see, and these problems were starting to rise to the surface in their strained marriage.
Like how she couldn't stand the fact that he had to travel in order to play away games with his team. It seemed like the most obvious thing to him. She had found the traveling new and exciting at first because she had been so sheltered growing up in her privileged little family. He had been different and exciting in the beginning: different from all the boys she had grown up with.
But it seemed that after seven years of a slowly deteriorating marriage, what she really wanted was the rich doctor or lawyer that could indulge and fulfil her every whim – that was something he knew he could never do.
He had seen the signs around the time his son turned three. Turns out she hadn't really planned on having a family - something Charlie couldn't believe they had never talked about.
She had never said it out loud; she just gave little hints of it in the way she complained about missing work, saying she didn't go to college and get a degree to sit at home with a kid all day.
She silently said it in the way she got upset when he told her he couldn't watch the kids because he had a game – as if it was a huge and inexcusable surprise. She had work too, she'd tell him. Why did she always have to sacrifice?
He could tell his six-year-old son Steven wasn't close to her. Evelyn, his thirteen-month-old daughter, was still young and Charlie wasn't sure if she had felt it the same or not. His wife was never the most doting mother, so Charlie had always made sure to include his son in his life and career as much as possible. Now he also worked on being home to make sure Evelyn was taken care of so the hired nanny who watched her could leave. It was a balancing act that only got rougher as time passed.
"Are you even LISTENING to me?! Do you even CARE?! This isn't what I asked for, Charlie! I didn't ask for a husband who's off playing a game while I'm expected to stay home and wipe noses!" she screamed.
"Yes you did!" he shouted back, feeling a dam break inside snap. "That's what HAPPENS when you get married and have kids. You're married and have kids! And it isn't like my occupation is a major shock or surprise. It isn't like I tricked you into anything. As for the kids, they're your children, Rachel! The least you could do is show a little affection to them! Do you want them to grow up thinking their own mother doesn't want them?!"
She blew up, her voice raising to a loud, piercing yell. "You sure have a place to talk, off playing a stupid game all the time! If it matters so much to you, why don't you stay home?!"
"It's my job, Rach! It always has been, and I don't remember it bothering you at all when we got married. For that matter, if me 'playing a stupid game' is so unacceptable, then why did you even marry me?! It isn't like it's a recent occurrence!" he yelled back, feeling his own voice escalate as they stepped over boundaries they had been careful to avoid before.
"Right now I'm not really sure! All you care about is your stupid game and your stupid friends! Why don't you stay home and take some responsibility yourself?!"
They were so absorbed in their argument that they didn't notice a small, sandy-brown haired head peeking from down the hall.
Charlie was so angry that the insult she threw out about the game and his friends slid right through without mentioning. "Responsibility?! You're telling me to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY?! Who picks Steven up from school every day?! Who makes sure the baby sitter is paid and insures Evelyn is taken care of?! Who drops Steven off at his hockey practice all the time?! Who makes sure he and Evelyn don't starve, no matter how exhausting practice was that day since if it wasn't taken care of, then no one would do it?! You have got some nerve lecturing me about responsibility when you scarcely acknowledge that your own children even exist!"
The woman let out a loud and frustrated scream. "You act like I don't have a career! You know, a real job that requires college and an education! I'm not living in some dream world! I'm living in reality! It's time you let go of this little fantasy and join the rest of us!"
"What are you trying to say, that it 'it's a real job' because it's something I actually enjoy and it doesn't fit into the mold of an executive sitting in an office?!"
"Well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to hit a puck into a goal," she said coldly, her eyes narrowed harshly.
He felt himself wince at the verbal stab. He knew for a fact that she could tell how much it had hurt; his eyes revealed his emotions like an open book. They always had.
Several seconds of heated and angry silence passed between them, both glaring at the other.
Suddenly Charlie saw her break eye contact to go into their room; she came back out again, however this time she had bags in her hands.
He felt his stomach drop and head go light as he realized what was happening. He'd be lying if he said he didn't expect it to happen…but it actually happening? That was a different story.
His throat seemed to close up, and he was sure she could read the surprise and panic in his eyes by the cool expression she kept on her face. She was a born and raised elite to the end, no matter how you looked at it.
"Have a nice life, Charlie," she said simply, her eyes sustaining their icy glare.
"B-but you can't go," he managed to stutter out in his shock.
"Yes, Charlie, I can. I just can't handle this life, okay? It may be fine for you, but it isn't fine for me. I need to be free. You understand. Besides, we can't even get along anymore. This just isn't what I thought it would be," she said flatly with a matter-of-fact tone.
The words in Charlie's mind got caught in his throat. He knew most of it was true. Just minutes ago they had been screaming their heads off…it just hurt. It hurt more then he expected. She was leaving. Really leaving.
With no more words to be said, Charlie watched his wife of seven years just walk casually out of his life as if he were an old shirt she had grown tired of.
He felt numb inside as she turned around one last time. "And don't worry about the divorce. It won't be long before we're legally out of each other's hair. I can move on to bigger and better things with the freedom I need, and you can carry on with your life without me cramping your style. We've been living separate lies for years, Charlie. It's just time that someone has the guts to admit it," she finished, letting her final words linger in the tense air as she vanished from the small apartment. Vanished from his life. Just like that.
It wasn't until then that he heard the loud, escalating cry ringing out from the kids' room.
Charlie closed his eyes and fell to his knees, crumbling for only a moment. Let it sink in. She was gone and not coming back.
Slowly regaining control of the hollow ache that seemed to settle in him, he got to his feet again and started for the screaming child.
The face of his son peered out from the cracked open door. Charlie's heart dropped further when he saw the wide blue eyes staring back at him.
He gently ruffled his son's hair with affection as he passed, walking to the crib and scooping the tiny baby girl into his arms.
Immediately the wailing was replaced with soft whimpers and tiny hands clutching his shirt. Little blonde curls covered her head, and he ran his fingers over them, feeling the fine strands under his fingertips.
Another gentle tug called his attention to the small boy grabbing on to the bottom him of his shirt, holding on tightly.
He held the baby girl carefully in one arm and rested his hand on the side of the boy's head, feeling the quiet spread to every niche and corner of the of the apartment, engulfing them in a gentle hug of security.
As he looked at the two children holding on to him, he began thinking. He knew Evelyn probably didn't know what was going on, but he had a hunch that Steven did.
Charlie knelt down and sat cross-legged on the carpeted floor, letting Steven crawl into his lap as he held them close.
Yes, there were many things he just wasn't suited for. Things he would never add up to be. But when it all came down to it, most of those things didn't matter anymore. There were some things that weren't worth being enough for.
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Blonde-brain- I never was a huge Linda fan either…and she gives a good link for angst. :P Sorry for the long wait, and I hope you like! :)
French Chipmunk- ::squees for Charlie angst:: :)
Banksiesbabe99- ::giggles:: I'm glad you like it! ::dances::
Sarah- None of us like Linda. XD I'm glad you enjoyed it though. :P
Katie- Aww, sorry honey. Rubbed salt in your wound? Don't feel bad, you aren't like Linda!! XD ::pets you:: I feel all warm and fuzzy that you liked it! Lol. Sorry for the long wait. OO Eek! Thanks again. :)
A- Lol, it's all good. My thoughts on Adam shift…XD I'm glad you like it, and I hope you enjoy this last installment just as much. :)
Meme- Hey precious darling Memekins! XD Yes, darn Banks and Linda! Gosh dangit, just causing all kinds of trouble. ::giggles:: Oh, Linda can totally get pregnant, and then she'll break up with Banks for Connie, then Connie will break up with Linda for Guy, and then break up with Guy for Charlie!! XD ::hugs Connie:: Poor thing. Lol. ::holds Charlie close:: Thanks for the review, precious! :)
Agel15- They're evil. ::nods:: Glad you liked it, and sorry for the wait. :)
Kelly-992- I won't even bother to give much of a response to that. It was immature, and if you're going to play that way, fine. I'm not sinking to your level this time.
Brnnttebabe12- ::giggles:: XD It's okay, I'll forgive you if you forgive me for taking so long with this. Lol. :P
Tiff- ::smiles:: I'm glad you like my Charlie angst stories, and I'm happy that you liked the chapter. :) I love writing it, and I'm always so glad that people enjoy reading it.
Sophie- My precious darling bunny!! I miss you so much. ::weeps uncontrollably into pillow::…::tacklehugs you baaack!!:: It's okay, Soph. I still need to read your FINAL CHAPTER! I'm so happy it's there, but as you said, school is dumb. Aww. ::smiles and hugs you:: Thanks honey. Lol. ::beams and tackles you with love:: You have no idea how much that means to me, Soph. Really, it makes me feel so good inside that you think I've improved. ::squees:: 3 Soon enough I shall review your completed "Defiance" and give you lots and lots of well-deserved love. It's so great to hear from you again. Drop me a line some time. :) My email box is always open. Lol.
Stef- Hey Steffie-dear! I know right, poor Charlie. Lol. I'm soo cruel. But we'll make him all better. ::pets him and reminds him that he at least has Connie in the RPG:: XD Bwahaha! I have CONVERTED YOU to my Charlie/Connie ways!! ::does the "go Chels!" dance!:: Lol. RPG couples rock the house, yo. Lol. XD Charlie/Connie is totally a better couple than Connie/Guy. ::giggles and blows a kiss:: Catch ya in the RPG!!