Summary: Julie is just struggling to make ends meet. Charlie is feeling trapped in a life he never wanted. Could they be the rescue they were looking for?
A/N: I know I have like a ton of unfinished stories but this idea came to me and I love writing Charlie/Julie and I haven't in a long time so here we are!
Disclaimer: I own nothing
Chapter 1: How Things Are
Julie Gaffney walked into the small apartment and collapsed on the couch. She landed flicked her shoes off and closed her eyes.
"Hi," her neighbor, Sean walked out of the bathroom.
"Hi," Julie smiled. "How is he?"
"He's been asleep for a few hours," Sean said, Julie nodded. "You know I love the little guy." She smiled.
"I know," Julie said, "I really appreciate it, but I swear it won't happen again." He nodded. "You really are a lifesaver."
"Yeah, yeah, canonize me later," He smiled said. "I should go." Julie nodded and walked with himto the door. "See you."
"Bye," Julie nodded and walked into the bedroom and leaned down at the tiny bed in the corner and stroked the soft blond hair of the little boy asleep in it.
"Mommy?" He said, waking up.
"Hey baby," she said, "I didn't mean to wake you."
"You weren't home," he mumbled. She sighed.
"I know," she said, "I'm sorry. Sean was nice though right?"
"I missed you," he said. She smiled.
"I missed you too," she kissed his forehead, "go back to sleep OK? I love you."
"Love you too," he yawned and rolled back over. Julie sighed and wandered into the kitchen/living room. They needed a bigger place. It was getting to the point where it was weird for Tyler and her to be sharing a room. That was why she'd been working so much lately. A two bedroom had just opened up in their building and the landlord was holding it for her if she could get first and last month's rent together by the end of the month. It was hard enough to make ends meet on her waitress salary and extra money was practically impossible. She pressed the play button on her answering machine.
"Hey Jules, it's me," she sighed, hearing her ex, Scooter's voice, "look, I know I said I'd take Ty next weekend, but something's come up. I'll make it up to him, I promise. Give me a call, we'll figure something out."
"Julie, it's Rex," she stopped, her manager, "you said you were looking for extra hours, I need someone to work a catered party on Saturday. I know you normally don't work weekends, but it's time and a half. Call me in the morning." She shook her head. She would have to turn it down, unless she could get a babysitter. Maybe Sean would watch him. She collapsed on the couch and rubbed her face.
Charlie Conway sat quietly looking at his computer screen. He looked at the expense report in front of him and then back at the screen.
"Charlie," one of the other guys from his department walked over, "dude, go home. It's almost midnight."
"I just want to get this done," Charlie said.
"Don't you have a beautiful rich girlfriend to go home to," the other guy said. Charlie sighed and leaned back in his chair. Linda. She was waiting for him. She'd called him about four times asking where he was.
"Yeah," he said. He couldn't admit that he was avoiding going home. Things with Linda had been less than stellar lately, and he was hiding from it in work. His phone rang again. "Speak of the devil."
"I'll leave you too it," he nodded and walked away.
"Hey baby," he picked it up.
"I'm going to bed soon," she said, "I was hoping not to do it alone."
"Linda, I know," he said, "look, I'll be home in a little while, I'm on my way home." She sighed.
"Remember that we have that thing at my parent's this weekend," she said.
"I know," he said, "that's why I worked late today, so I wouldn't have to work this weekend."
"OK," she said, "I'll try to wait up."
"Thanks," he mumbled, "I love you."
"I love you too," she said softly. He hung up and groaned and then shut down his workstation. It wasn't worth a fight with Linda tonight.
That Saturday Julie looked in the mirror and pulled her hair into a ponytail. She started putting some makeup on and looked at her crisp white tux shirt and black boe tie. She hated catering work. It was so incredibly dull.
"I don't get it," Tyler said from the bed where he was lying on his stomach.
"What don't you get baby?" She asked.
"You don't wear that to work normally," he said, "and you don't normally work on Saturday."
"This is a special job," she said simply. She leaned down. "Which if everything goes well means we'll get to move into the big apartment upstairs and you'll get your own room. Does that sound good?"
"Yeah!" He said excitedly. She smiled.
"Julie?" She wandered outside and smiled seeing Sean.
"Hey," she said, "thanks again." He shrugged. "Ty, Sean's here." Tyler came running out. "OK," she said, "I want you to be good, and don't bother Sean too much because he has to study."
"OK," Tyler nodded. "I love you."
"I love you too," she hugged him. "See you tonight." She ran out waving to Sean.
"So," Sean said. "What do you think man?"
"I think that she needs a boyfriend," Tyler said. "Can you be her boyfriend?"
"Your mom's not my type," Sean laughed.
Julie walked from the catering van to the kitchen carrying a chaffing dish. She looked around. The house seemed vaguely familiar. As they set up she glanced at a few pictures on the wall.
"Oh Shit!" She mumbled.
"What?" Anna, one of the other waitresses said. "Did you drop something?"
"No," Julie shook her head. "No, I know these people!" Anna looked at her. "I went to high school with their daughter."
"This is the same high school where you got pregnant right?" Anna said. Julie nodded. "So not exactly triumphant."
"No," Julie said.
Charlie wandered around the house nodding occasionally when someone recognized him. He loved Linda, he just hated this aspect of being with her.
"Excuse me," a waitress walked up to him, "can I get you something to drink." He stopped and looked at her. "Oh God!"
"Julie!" He smiled, "hi, wow!"
"Hi Charlie," she said. Could this job get more humiliating? "Seriously, can I get you a drink?"
"Wait, you're working here?" He said. "Give me a second it's been like what?"
"Five years," she said. "A little less I guess."
"Right," he nodded. "How's um," he said, "I guess he's not a baby anymore."
"Tyler," she said, "and no, he's five, and a half, he'd kill me if I forgot the half." He laughed.
"You look good," he nodded. "Wow, I just can't believe you're here."
"Yeah, it's pretty nuts," she whispered, "so I guess you and Linda are still…"
"Uh, yeah," he said.
"Charlie," Linda walked over. "There you are," she kissed him. "Julie Gaffney?" She said.
"Hi," Julie waved.
"Wow, small world," Linda laughed. "How are you?" I'm serving your spoiled ass crab puffs and watered down drinks so that my kid can eat. How do you think I am? Julie thought to herself.
"I'm good," she smiled, "can I get either of you drinks?"
"No, I'm fine," Charlie said.
"A vodka tonic?" Linda said. Julie nodded. "Thanks, you're great." Julie walked away.
"Linda," Charlie said.
"Charlie, that's her job!" Linda said. He rolled his eyes. "God, that's so sad though. She had so much potential. I never understood why she kept that baby."
"Yeah, I guess you wouldn't," Charlie said and walked away. Julie was at the bar. "You could spit in that, I don't think anyone would blame you." She laughed.
"It's fine," she said, "it's my job. I don't mind." He nodded. "Look, if you could just not talk to me, I'd appreciate it. I'm kind of embarrassed." He frowned.
"Why?" He said. "You're not doing anything embarrassing." She looked at him.
"I guess not," she shrugged. "But is this really where you thought I'd end up?"
"What end up?" He said, "we're twenty three." She smiled.
"Is there anyone else we went to high school with here?" She said.
"No," he shook his head. "It's mostly people her dad works with." She nodded. "Are you busy after this? I'd love to get caught up."
"Um, I have to go home and relieve the really sweet neighbor who's watching Tyler," she said. "But it is good to see you." She took the drink and walked away.