Ruby was still fairly certain Charlie didn’t want to marry her. Marry anyone and she doubted his mind would change about that. Ruby didn’t mind because she had no interest in marriage. She’d never understood what the big deal was… a piece of paper.. vows… none of that seemed necessary. It was the work people would put into their relationship, the trust… compromises that seemed important. She’d never been married, obviously but that’s just how she saw it from the outside. Ruby had never even pictured herself in a relationship but she didn’t know what that really said about her. She’d just never been good about opening up… letting people in and that’d always seemed like a big part of it. Being vulnerable… if you loved someone they had the power to hurt you. None of that had sounded very good to her when she’d been younger and then… everything with Charlie happened and she wasn’t sure about anything anymore. She’d meant it when she told her dad if she changed her mind… if marriage or babies became something she wanted she wouldn’t just dismiss them because Charlie didn’t want them. Would they even be together long term? It was a depressing thought but she found it difficult to say and… she’d never want to force him into something he didn’t want. That just didn’t seem right but neither would giving up on something she wanted just because he didn’t. It all seemed very complicated but Ruby assumed they could figure all that out later. If it ever happened. No point in dwelling on it now when they were on the same page about that stuff the last she’d checked. Especially considering she thought they were still together but not very long ago she’d thought they were broken up. Or on the verge of it. Were they still? It didn’t seem like it but then… how could she be sure.
Charlie had said all that stuff about not being good for her.. how he shouldn’t want her.. etc etc. So, she found it slightly difficult to know where everything stood as of now. Charlie was clearly too out of it to discuss much of anything. He looked so tired that it made her heart ache. Had he been this exhausted since everything happened? She wondered if he was just finding it difficult to fall asleep or if there were nightmares plaguing him. Ruby certainly had her share of those. She still had them about Tim but they weren’t as close together anymore. That was something she was incredibly grateful for as they’d been disturbing. She’d more recently had one where she received the text from Tim just like before but when she’d rushed to the window he’d been there. Only… it wasn’t him so much as his corpse… rotting. It hadn’t been as frightening as some of the others but it’d been enough to make her feel shaken. The image of his body stuck in her mind for ages so that she saw it every time she’d tried to close her eyes. Ruby forced those thoughts away, watching as he climbed into the bed. She felt a little better now that he was lying down and didn’t hesitate when he motioned for her to join him. She’d missed lying next to, close enough she could feel the breaths he took. Maybe it was silly but it was soothing in a way. Not that she had really gotten use to sleeping next to someone but she liked it. Ruby didn’t plan to fall asleep now though. She gazed at him, listening as he spoke and feeling bad. Maybe he worried she’d skip out again but she had no intentions of doing so. “Okay,” She murmured, smiling slightly. It wasn’t hard to tell he was on his way to settling down and falling asleep but he surprised her when he started talking again. Her mum? What about her mum had -A known? She frowned slightly, trying to work out what he’d been talking about and before she could think to ask she realized he was asleep. Ruby leaned into him, still wondering what he’d been talking about but knowing it was pointless to. He was asleep and he needed to sleep so she figured she could just ask him later.
Dreams were something Charlie had been having a hard time with. They weren’t even often about anything in particular, that he could remember anyway, it was more the feeling that he had upon waking that he wanted to avoid. He couldn’t describe it and didn’t know if it was fear or what but it wasn’t pleasant and he hated waking up… therefore going to sleep had just seemed like a stupid idea because he couldn’t stay asleep forever. Not that he’d really been able to when he had tried to fall asleep. Every time he lay in the dark, trying to drift off, his mind hadn’t stopped spinning for even one minute. There was always something keeping him caught, keeping him in a state of stress. It had been too much, all he’d wanted to do was shut it off. He had only thought about drinking once because it seemed to work for Ruby, but for Charlie it always tended to just make him feel worse. More irritable. Maybe it was because of the connotations he associated with alcohol but… it would have been a stupid idea anyway. To keep reverting every single time. It was like he wanted to become his mother. Honestly, what an idiot. Sleep was good, and it was welcome, but he still only slept for a few hours regardless of the fact that Ruby was there. Her presence seemed to have actually helped him slip under generally which… he didn’t know if that was good or bad because he shouldn’t need her. Shouldn’t want her. Shouldn’t even have asked her to stay with him because hadn’t he been avoiding her all week for a reason?! He really was a complete idiot but he knew that. She knew that… she could say he wasn’t an idiot all she wanted but she had to see it. It was obvious. Always trying to fix things, always trying to help people, always letting everything get on top of him and running away from it… only he couldn’t ever actually escape it. It’s not like he’d been able to stop thinking about any of the things that had been tormenting him since Alicia died. He just couldn’t let go of the idea - fact, in his mind - that it had been his fault. If he’d just stayed away, left well enough alone, then none of this would have happened and he knew it. He didn’t understand why Ruby didn’t believe him.
He kept his eyes closed for a few minutes longer, not really sure why but maybe he wanted to fall asleep again, or just lie there in the silence and feel Ruby next to him. Eventually, though, he sighed softly and opened his eyes, moving slightly. He groaned, annoyed at being awake, and then turned his gaze on her. “You’re still here.” He murmured, looking down and brushing his fingers over her hand. He wasn’t sure why he was surprised but maybe he really had just been holding onto the idea that she’d skip out like she had before. Obviously he’d wanted to talk then and he kind of wanted to talk now, too, so maybe he subconsciously connected the dots. Charlie ran a hand over his face and wondered if he should try sitting it. He couldn’t really be bothered, he was still kind of sleepy but at least he’d gotten something. He’d probably have to try again later and he was already not looking forward to it. Charlie went quiet, trying to push through the fog of sleep and figure out what to say or do next. Diving right into a conversation about their future didn’t seem like it would be fun and he didn’t really know what to do yet anyway. His head was telling him he had to break up with Ruby because otherwise she would probably get hurt and it would be entirely his fault, plus he didn’t think he deserved her. A larger part of him, though, wanted to just be with her and screw everything else… but he didn’t know which would be better for her. He didn’t care what would be better for him, really, he deserved to suffer after everything he’d done, everything he’d put people through. After a few more minutes, he moved again, pulling himself upright and leaned back against the headboard. He still didn’t feel great but at least he’d managed to rest for a bit. “Sorry.” He said, a few seconds later, looking down at his hands. It had all rushed back at him and he felt like such an idiot for not just sending her away when he’d told himself to, for her own good. He was always getting caught up in her. “Don’t know how you put up with the drama…” He ran a hand over his face again, shaking his head. He’d forgotten all about what he’d said before falling asleep so he wasn’t worrying. “Do you want some tea?”
It was still upsetting to think Charlie thought so little of himself. That he felt like all these things were because of him when.. they weren’t. It was possible he’d played a role in some but… still. That didn’t make him bad.. he shouldn’t be shoulder all the blame when it wasn’t his fault. He hadn’t intended to hurt anyone and.. maybe he didn’t think that should count but after meeting the likes of Tim, Ruby thought it should. Granted she still struggled with her own self image, she’d never see the things Charlie claimed to and often felt like an awful, selfish person but that was different. Completely different if you asked her because they were true things. It wasn’t her being blind to something or.. thinking it was her fault that someone had wanted to be with someone else. Shouldn’t he of all people know you couldn’t always help who you wanted? That it didn’t necessarily make the person you didn’t want to be with any.. less but it wasn”t easy to control the way you felt. Had Jenna even said that she’d only stayed for Sophie? Or was he so upset (and clearly sleep deprived) that he was making more out of it than there actually was? And.. even if that was true that didn’t mean she was unhappy the whole time or anything. Right? Or that she regretted staying with him. Did it? Ruby thought it was true that even though sometimes the ending was bad, that didn’t make everything prior to it the same. So it seemed possible that it rang true in this case. Right? Ruby didn’t know if talking to Jenna would help. Had he talked to her? She wanted to ask but figured maybe she should just be letting the topic go. Let him focus on something else because she didn’t want him to dwell on the guilt. It’d eat at him if he did.
Ruby frowned when he said she wasn’t. It worried her and she wished she could be there for Sophie but she knew that was stupid. She’d made her bed and now she had to lie in it or whatever. She knew her friend had no intention of forgiving her and she couldn’t blame her but.. it still hurt. She still missed her.. still had the instinct to try and help her if she could but it’s not like she could in this case. It seemed like it was her fault that she was doing so badly.. considering everything. Not that she thought blaming herself completely was a good thing when she’d just been going on in her head about Charlie doing that but this was different. It felt different because she actually knew Sophie blamed her.. thought all of this was her fault. She didn’t know what the girl thought she’d done exactly to bewitch her dad or whatever but.. still. She’d made it out like she had. “Well, luckily for her you don’t want to..” She offered, shaking her head when he said he was being ridiculous. She didn’t think so and they had no plans of ever getting married. It wasn’t something she thought Charlie ever wanted to do again so Sophie shouldn’t have worried about that. Ruby hoped she’d told her so.. not that it’d do a lot of good since she doubted Sophie believed much of what came out of either of their mouths these days anyway but still. She felt better when he told he wanted her to.. taking hold of her hand and she gave him a small smile at his joke. “Oh, thank goodness for that..” She teased, knowing he knew full well that she actually liked wearing them.
Charlie didn’t think he’d ever been this tired before. He probably had been, of course, at some point but it’s not like he thought it would be an important enough fact to remember. He felt like he was dead on his feet and he just wanted to go to sleep… there was sort of this niggling worry, however, that if he did fall asleep then he’d wake up and she would be gone again. He understood why she’d skipped out on him, and he wished he’d just thought to call before he’d set about trying to fix things that obviously couldn’t have been fixed, but still. Charlie sighed, catching her comment about not wanting to marry her. He didn’t think he’d want to get married again. It was just a piece of paper in the end. You didn’t have to be married to somebody to prove you loved them. Divorces were messy.. he obviously didn’t give a damn about what marriage meant considering he’d cheated on his wife. Sure, it was nice… it did feel different, once you were married, and… he’d liked it. Before. He wasn’t so sure now… and he wasn’t even sure Ruby saw herself as the marrying type anyway, she didn’t want to get married right? She hadn’t seemed down about it when they’d discussed it anyway. He wondered if that was likely to change just like he worried about the fact that one day she might end up wanting children would. He pushed all of those things to the back of his head, not really up to thinking about it all, and maybe it wouldn’t even matter. Wasn’t there still that chance he’d go to sleep, wake up and tell her he still couldn’t be with her? He really did want to be, Charlie loved Ruby so much, more than he really knew how to say. Or show, sometimes.
Charlie smiled slightly, he knew she liked wearing his shirts. Charlie liked her in them and she knew that. Still, it would probably have been weird this time if she had, considering everything, and Charlie was fairly sure he’d be the only one falling asleep. Unless she got bored enough just being there with nothing to really do. He sighed softly as he led her into the bedroom. The bed looked inviting, honestly anything would have, but he was worried he wouldn’t sleep properly or he’d have a weird dream. They were just dreams but it’s not like it was pleasant. He wondered again if Ruby still had nightmares. Would he ever actually ask or would he just wonder? He supposed that it depended. Charlie slowly let go of her hand and walked unevenly over to the bed. He’d been exhausted earlier but at least he’d been able to walk straight and hadn’t crashed the car, he supposed. Silver lining and all that. He paused, wondering if he should get changed but he couldn’t be bothered. There was no law against sleeping in your clothes. Charlie flopped down on the bed, lying still for a long moment and then sighing again. It was becoming an incredibly familiar sound. He turned his head to look at Ruby as he shuffled himself under the covers. He gestured for her to join him and rolled onto his side to face her. He studied her as best he could, moving his arm so that he was touching her as he closed his eyes. He wanted to know she was still there. “If I fall asleep.” If probably should have been when, he figured. “Don’t leave..” He moved around a little, trying to get comfortable. He felt better in here, hidden away sort of, like the real world was far away. “I still don’t get how -A knew about your mum.” He murmured, the thought occurring to him suddenly. He had no idea how -A knew anything, mind you, and the fact that Ruby wouldn’t know what he was talking about didn’t really register because a few moments later he was actually asleep. It had been so much easier, and he’d felt better about it, with Ruby there.
That should be enough motivation but I still haven’t moved.
Ha, yeah. Welcome to my life.
Sophie felt like an idiot and was very embarrassed but that had mostly been pushed aside by the horror of being asked to eat. Maybe one tiny bite wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world but it made her want to burst into tears again. She wished he’d drop the subject. Sophie looked down at the toast. She didn’t want to eat but actually looking at the food sitting there waiting made it difficult to keep her resolve.
She shook her head and pressed her lips together, instead walking to the sink to fill up a glass with water so she could take the aspirin he had offered. Her head was pounding and her throat was dry. She was thirsty but thought if she drank anything she might be sick even if it was just water. She was never drinking straight vodka again that was for sure… except she did have one more bottle left and kind of really wanted to go up and grab it.
She walked back to the table and looked at him when he said not to be sorry. That was a joke right? She’d been a total weirdo. She swallowed some of the pills, taking her time about it so taht she was able to think over his question. What happened was that she’d been a complete idiot. Sophie sat down and looked at the table with a heavy sigh. “I don’t want to talk about it.” She said. Everything was back to normal then. Great. “you don’t have to stay with me. I’m fine.”
Charlie didn’t know what he was supposed to do. Or say. Was there anything he could say or do? Sophie was obviously struggling and he’d practically known about it… but he hadn’t done anything or thought to look a little closer. Done anything to help even. Charlie had gotten wrapped up in his own stuff. Again. It was just like what had happened pretty much as soon as he’d come back from France and he regretted wasting all those months. It felt like he was constantly repeating his mistakes and he didn’t understand why. He was probably just going to do the same thing all over again. He’d probably never learn.
It didn’t make him feel any better when she shook her head and walked over to the sink instead but he hoped that was it for the drinking at least. Charlie knew people tended to do that, had a drink or two when they felt like shit but she’d had more than one or two, that much had been obvious. Sophie didn’t cry like that, not in front of him anyway. She’d always seemed very put together, maybe a bit too put together but he’d never really thought about it, and she wouldn’t have text him like she did. It didn’t add up and he wondered if she’d done what Ruby used to and just grabbed a bottle of whatever and started drinking. She’d passed out fairly quickly.
He shook his head, watching her take the aspirin and pursing his lips as he leaned back in the chair. Fine. People who said fine like that weren’t usually fine at all. Ruby did it often… said everything was fine when it wasn’t really fine but she was too embarrassed or ashamed or… something… to talk about it. Maybe she felt like she was being a burden or being dramatic or… he didn’t know. But he didn’t like it. He wished people would just tell him what was wrong, it was frustrating not being able to understand what was going on in their minds, how they were feeling. He wanted to help… but only that morning he’d been telling himself there was no point because it only made things worse. Still. “You don’t seem fine…”
Tell me about it. Let things pile up and suddenly it all becomes ten times more stressful.
Exactly. Nobody needs that extra stress.
I know I lack motivation but if I don’t do anything, stuff will pile up.
Don’t want that, then everything just tends to feel even more chaotic…
Perhaps I can get more done with it being the weekend.
I suppose I should really try and do the same…
She still wanted to tell him it was okay to cry. That she’d never judge him for it and remind him that sometimes it helped. Ruby thought of reminding him of the times he’d seen her break down in front of him but she didn’t want to. She didn’t want to think of the reasons she’d lost it. Especially not the time he’d found her sobbing in his bushes. Ruby had been too distraught from everything that’d happened to really feel embarrassed. She’d just been so relieved to have someone’s arms around her, someone steady, that she wasn’t afraid of. Even though she’d still been unsure at that point about whether she should trust everything her best friend had said he’d done and tried to do. He was still the one she’d wanted to go to just without having to even think about it so… how could he think of himself as not good for her? Ruby didn’t know how she’d have picked herself up after that if not for the support he’d given. The times he’d come when she needed him… she had so many example of things he’d done or said that helped her. She didn’t want to need anyone’s help but that didn’t mean she didn’t realize how much of one he’d been to her all this time.
She might not have been completely okay with him knowing so many things about her that she didn’t like but still. That was because of her own issues… not his. Ruby felt like he’d decided to list off the things he’d done that he blamed himself for. Jenna hated herself? Guilt tugged at her stomach because she knew she played a role in that. Still… he hadn’t wanted to make her feel bad about herself but did intentions make a difference? That’s what she always had trouble figuring out but she thought they should. There were people that intentionally tormented and inflicted pain on others… like -A or Tim for example. They had to be in a different category. Right? “You couldn’t have known it was like that… that she wanted to..” Ruby felt like she was on the verge of rambling. The ending shouldn’t mean the entire thing had been a mistake… right? Look at what’d come out of it… he’d had to of had times he wouldn’t trade… or she thought so anyway. It was frustrating there wasn’t more she could say to help convince him and the things in her head wouldn’t be easy to actually say. Wait… Sophie had gotten drunk? Was she okay? It didn’t sound like it. “Is she.. okay?” Ruby assumed he’d stopped her before she could get alcohol poisoning or anything but still. Trying to drink herself unconscious sounded really bad. “Charlie… that’s not… it’s not because of you.” She hated thinking he’d blame himself for that. Especially since she figured she was one of the people he was referring to. Ugh. She wanted to bang her head against the wall for showing up there like that. Ruby watched him pull away, biting her lip as she wasn’t sure if she should offer to leave if he did want to lay down but then he spoke. “Oh, um.. yeah. If you’re sure you’d want me to?” For some reason she felt she should double check even as she stood up.
How was it possible Ruby wasn’t understanding? Charlie believed he was at fault. All of these things had gone wrong and what was the common denominator? Him. Maybe it was possible that he was seeing connections where there weren’t any thanks to -A but Charlie wasn’t exactly in the frame of mind to be thinking rationally about it, about any of it. He was so tired and so terribly unhappy that he didn’t really know what to think other than the fact he was no good. He shook his head in protest. “She only stayed with me because of Sophie.” Yeah, okay, he was fixating on that because the whole Grant thing had hurt a bit… and he’d been worried about the possibility of Jenna having wanted to be with Grant long before something had happened… and to actually hear that he wouldn’t have been enough unless there was a baby was a bit of a backhand. Despite the fact he knew, rationally, that Jenna had loved him, told him that she’d never actually regretted their life together. His exhausted, broken mind was looking for more things to add to his pile of misery, maybe as a punishment, and it just made sense. All of this could have been avoided if he had done what he’d wanted and left Jenna when he found out she was pregnant. Maybe it would have made him the bad guy but Charlie was the bad guy right now regardless. Maybe he’d always been the bad guy. Still, if Sophie hadn’t been born, or if he hadn’t raised her in that house then maybe he’d never have kissed Ruby and they wouldn’t be here right now. Would that be better? They’d never know but she’d have a better chance of finding someone who could offer her more at least.
He told himself to stop. He was too out of it for all of this and, distantly, he knew that he was just reaching. Clutching at straws. It didn’t change the fact that he was to blame for Alicia’s death and countless other things but that wasn’t the point. He wished he could switch his head off for a while because he really didn’t think he’d change being with Jenna so the only explanation he could come up with was that his exhaustion was causing him to be silly. Charlie shook his head, feeling awful at the talk of Sophie. He shouldn’t have brought it up. He didn’t know what to do about her. “No, she’s not.” He murmured, looking away, feeling guilty because he didn’t know how to help her. She didn’t even want his help. “She doesn’t want me to marry you.” He added, sort of absently, as the memory of her telling him so came back to him. He closed his eyes as a horrible image of Alicia being hit head on by a car thundered in front of his vision and he shook his head quickly to get rid of it. “I’m being ridiculous…” He muttered, not sure why she was bothering to still hang around when he was acting like a complete idiot, getting so worked up, his thoughts going round in circles like they were. He sounded stupid, probably. Charlie looked at her and nodded, not sure what she was telling him wasn’t his fault because he was still sure he’d asked the question in his head so he ignored it and hoped she wouldn’t be annoyed. Maybe she was just talking about Alicia again and Charlie didn’t want to. “Of course I want you to.” He watched her stand up, reaching out to take her hand hesitantly. He was starting to figure out that Ruby probably didn’t really want to break up, that the entire thing had been a horrible misunderstanding. Right? Maybe he’d make more sense of it after a rest. He felt too messy to deal with it right now. To make a decision. He sighed and wearily tugged her in the direction of the bedroom, hoping he was able to sleep because blackness would be wonderful right now. “I won’t even make you wear my hideous shirt this time or anything.” He said quietly, an attempt at a joke but he wasn’t sure the tone came off how he’d intended. Still, he managed a little smile.