Erm, I have no elaborate excuse to explain my lack of update. I don't think I'll even try to come up with one...

Anyhow, I had completely given up on this story (and my muse) when I received a lovely message from uphill09 asking me to continue, and so here I am, thank you very much. c:

SHAMOOOO : Haha! Thank you for your (hyperactive) review. Now go take your pills.

Gala000085 : I'm so glad that you like it. Please continue to bare with me and my insane angst.

b00kWorM0502 : I agree! I guess we're just... twisted that way.

heartfallen : Thank you. I will continue to do my best!

uphill09 : Thanks, I really appreciated your message! This update is a result of it!

Disclaimer: I do not own Charlie Bartlett.

How to Deal

" Mr. Gardner shot me."

As Charlie Bartlett woke from his sedatives in room 309 of the St. Mark Hospital, this was his first realization. After that, things got foggy.

He didn't mean to, the teenager thought wearily. At least, I don't think so.

As his mind began to clear, Charlie took note of his surroundings. I am in a hospital room, and I am not dead. He paused, taking a small breath. And my stomach hurts like hell.

From this much, the matter at hand finally made itself prioritized. He was in a hospital, meaning Mr. Gardner had brought him there and was at this moment being questioned by the police. If they found what had taken place, the older man would be arrested immediately for questioning. This was not an option.

At this moment, two heavy-set officers entered the room, followed by a very flustered looking nurse. Relief swept through the course wrinkles of her face when she saw Charlie to be conscious, and she dashed to his side at a speed that would not be expected by a woman of her age.

" It's wonderful to see you awake, dear," she crooned. " How are you feeling?"

" Okay, thank you," Charlie croaked, surprised at how parched he was feeling. " Do you suppose I could have some wat-?"

" You two!" the nurse interrupted shrilly, swinging the two officers that had been carefully approaching. " This young man needs rest! I insist that you leave immediate-! Oh, don't worry about getting up dear. I'll get you the water."

Charlie, feeling very confused and tired, laid back down. The nurse smiled and moved to pour the water.

" He has to be asked now," said one of the officers, flipping a notepad anxiously in his hands. " It will only be a few questions, and it must be done before his mother arrives."

Charlie started. He hadn't even considered his mother until now. What state would she come in, to find her only son recovering from a bullet wound?

" Can you not just give him several minutes to collect himself?" hissed the older woman, glaring at the pair.

" It will barely take a minute," the officer replied. The nurse huffed, chewing her lip, then threw her hands up and stormed out of the room. The second officer moved to close the door, then joined the first man at the foot of the bed.

" Son, we have a few questions for you," he said, folding his arms and raising thick, black eyebrows. Charlie wondered if the two were planning on playing some sort of good cop/bad cop routine. If not, he really didn't see the point of both of their presences. " To start off, what exactly happened before you were shot?"

Ignoring the first officer's mad scribbles along his notepad, Charlie took a breath and shut his eyes. How was he going to get out of this one? If the police concluded that Mr. Gardner had willingly shot him, and he was charged as guilty, who knew what could happen? Susan could be sent to child services. Or worse; her mother.

" I took a taxi to Mr. Gardner's house," the panicked boy began, imagining the horrors of Susan becoming fatherless. " I came in the hopes of inviting him to a school play, one in which his daughter was playing the main role."

The two men nodded, urging him to continue.

" When I got there, he..." Of course, the men had probably already tested Mr. Gardner for intoxication. This could get difficult. " He was pretty drunk... when I let myself in. He seemed pretty angry about my entrance, actually. He started to insult me, and I got angry.. I took the gun-"

" You took the gun?" asked the first officer skeptically. "Who had it before then?"

Damn, the boy cussed inwardly. Now what?

" Nobody," Charlie scrambled, cursing his own stupidity. " I found it on the table."

" On the table?" asked the officer, raising his eyebrows again. Charlie swallowed.

" Yes. I picked it up and started waving it around, threatening to shoot him or myself. I didn't plan to do anything with it; I was just angry Really angry... So he tried to take it away from me."

Charlie took a tiny breath, and lowered his eyes. He felt sick and tired.

" I shot myself in the struggle. It was completely my fault," he finished, his voice cracking.

" Mr. Gardner is innocent."

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This chapter was poorly written, and I apologize. I promise I will get back into the funk of things soon..... Aaand I won't take a year to update. ^^u