"Where's Joey?" Charlie asked as soon as Watson entered her side room. "What's happened to her?"
"She's still in surgery," Watson explained.
"Is she going to be okay?"
"I don't know, Charlie," Watson admitted.
She could hardly imagine the turmoil that her colleague must be going through – and not just because of the violence.
"But I've made sure they keep me posted so I'll let you know as soon as I hear anything, okay?"
Charlie nodded mutely. She rubbed her face and winced as she remembered her bruises. Watson perched on a chair.
"Charlie, what on earth happened today?" she said. "Because if you didn't want to do your shift, there were much less drastic ways to go about it!"
Charlie laughed. Watson was relieved.
"I was all set to head to work," Charlie explained. "And the next thing I knew, Robbo was standing there. He grabbed me, drove me out here… beat me up a bit. He wanted Joey."
Watson nodded sadly.
"As if he hasn't done enough to her," she remarked.
Charlie swallowed. A lump ached in her throat.
"Of all the ways I hoped I might see her again, this was definitely not it," she said sadly.
And now hadn't been the time either. For the duration of her relationship with Angelo, she had longed to be with Joey again. That had been a big part of why their relationship had never stood a chance of working. But slowly, through falling in love with Brax, she had for the most part, learnt to leave her ex-girlfriend behind. Or so she had thought. Just seeing her again, even in such circumstances, had brought all her old feelings back. She felt like she loved her more than ever now.
Brax hurried into the room as soon as he was permitted. He was deeply confused but desperate to see Charlie. She looked pale and weak in her hospital bed but he couldn't stop himself from rushing forward and hugging her. He apologised when she winced.
"Charlie, what on earth happened?" he wanted to know.
She sank back against the pillows and closed her eyes. She didn't want to talk about it anymore. All she wanted to know was that Joey was alright.
"It's a long story," she sighed.
"I've got time," he told her.
"But I don't have the energy," she said. "I'm sorry."
He studied her tired face and felt a mix of compassion and anxiety. He debated whether to confront her about Joey or not.
"Can you at least tell me who that guy was?" he asked, pulling up a chair.
"His name is Robbo Cruze," Charlie said.
"Robbo Cruze," Charlie said, alarmed by the way her boyfriend furrowed his brow. "Do you know him?"
"I used to," he said. "Once upon a time. He went to jail or something."
"He went to jail for raping two women," Charlie said coldly, as if it was his fault. "Not to mention nearly killing them. He should never have been let out in the fucking first place."
He was shocked by her anger, although he supposed it was justified.
"How did Joey get involved?" he asked.
She looked startled at the mention of her name.
"You said her name when you were weeping all over her," he said a little bitterly.
She glared at him.
"I was trying to save her life," she stated.
"And breaking your heart at the same time," he accused.
"What, and you weren't upset when Tegan died?" she snapped.
"Not as upset as you were," he replied.
"And what's that supposed to mean?" she asked.
"That's what I'm wondering."
Next time… Charlie falls out with Brax but bonds with Ruby…