Chapter Fifteen

Charlie ushered Ben into her living room, still surprised that he was there. She hadn't been expecting him, but was kind of happy to see him. They sat down on the couch, sitting on opposite ends of it because they were both nervous to be around each other. You could tell from their body language that neither of them trusted themselves around each other.

"So, you broke up with Matt already," Ben stated.

"Yep, it was really hard, but Matt was cool about it. He just seemed really calm and nice. I'm happy he took it that well. I don't know what I would do if he flipped out. How did he seem when you saw him? You did see him right?"

"Yeah I saw him. He was pretty depressed though, but he'll get over it." Ben had decided on his way over to Charlie's house that he would leave out the part about Matt sleeping with Teri. It was just a little too soon after their breakup for Matt to move on to some other girl.

"That's good. I think we could probably be friends at some point, but right now it's still a little weird between us."

"Are you going to keep going to class?"

"I'm not sure. It might be a little weird between us at first, and there are only a couple days left before I leave, so I don't really see the point in it."

"Well, I think I'm going to stay up here for a couple of days, so I'll be in class if that makes you feel better. Besides, I think Matt would at least like to have you there. He's a grown up about this whole thing, so I think that if you guys at least tried to be friends, it would make him happy."

"Really, because I don't want him to feel awkward about anything."

"Don't worry about it. I'll tell him that you'll be there, that way he won't freak or anything. Sound good?"

"Yep, I can deal with that. Why exactly did you come up here anyway? Did Matt call you or something?"

"No. I just figured that you would be ending it today, so either you or Matt might need someone to talk to. I went over to Matt's place first, but he sent me away. He probably wanted to go cry alone or something. I don't know, he's a pussy when it comes to shit like this."

"As I recall, you were pretty pissed too when you found out about Matt and I."

"Yeah, but that's because you had sex with my brother. With Matt you are leaving him for an understandable reason. Matt knows why you did what you did. He said he's gone through that stage, and has done crap like that before."

"I know, but I still feel like a crappy excuse for a human being."

"Forget about it. We all move on from things in the past."

"Thanks. What happened between you and the girl you had your first time with?"

"Shit, that was a long time ago. Well, I had dated this girl for about six moths. We were both sixteen and thought that we were in love. I had a pickup truck at the time, so we went out to a secluded spot, pulled out a sleeping bag and rolled it out on the bed of the truck. Looking back now it was uncomfortable, and weird. I mean you know what they say about two virgins having sex together. It just makes you never want to have sex again because you will think that it will always be as bad as that. Thankfully we both got more comfortable with each other, and got better at having sex. We dated another six months, and then she broke up with me because her parents were sending her to boarding school."

"Why did they send her away?"

"Well, her dad found her birth control pills, so her parents flipped and didn't want her around me, or any boys for that matter. So he sent her to an all girls school."

"Let me guess. She became a lesbian."

"Sorry, while that would have been hot, she didn't. Actually we stayed in pretty good contact for a year, then she met a guy at one of her schools dances, and that was the end of us."

"Sounds rough. Is that when you became a little man whore? When she broke up with you?"

"When she left I started seeing a couple other girls, but I have only been with five. After Sarah-that was the girl that got sent away-I dated this girl name Liz for a while, and then in college my freshman year I met a girl named Erin. That was it for the girls that I had real relationships with. There were two other girls that I had sex with, but they weren't really relationships. One of the girls I met at a party in college, and had a one-night stand with her. The other girl was a friend of mine, and well, we were sort of friends with benefits my sophomore year. She eventually started dating my roommate, and then the school year ended and here I am."

"Sounds like a rough story. It's weird to think that in another five years my life will be weird like that. You know? I'll be talking to someone about all of my sexual partners and everything."

"You won't be doing that. You are too good to have a bunch of people in and out of your bed."

"I don't know. It is kind of whorish for me to go from one brother to another. Maybe as I get older I'll just end up sleeping with everyone."

"No way. You are much too moral for that. Besides, it's different for girls. They don't sleep with as many people as guys do. Well, usually they don't. You are too good to have sex with a lot of people. But even if you do, I know you will only have sex with people that you care about. Besides, you don't want to end up regretting what you didn't ever do."

"Maybe. I guess we won't know anything until we get older."

"Yep, but that's life. It is just one big surprise. You know? Would you have predicted that you would be juggling two brothers at the beginning of the summer."

"Probably not."

"Exactly, and that's what makes life exciting. When things happen that you don't expect to happen, it makes life exhilarating, and that's what makes it worth it to keep going. No regrets, right?"

After he said this Charlie grabbed his shirt collar and pulled him near her. She planted a kiss on his lips with force, and left a trail of kisses along his neck and the part of his chest that the unbuttoned top of his shirt revealed. Ben slowly laid down on the couch and pulled her on top of him. She straddled him, smothering him in kisses, and whispered "No regrets" into his ear.

That was all in her imagination though, and just when Charlie was thinking of acting on her sexual urge she stopped herself. She knew that if she leaned over and kissed him, nothing would ever be the same. She would be branded as a whore for sleeping with two brothers, and even if nobody else knew about it other than herself, she couldn't live with it. Instead she got up from the couch and got a glass of water, hoping that it would help to clear her mind.

"You okay?"

"Yeah, I was just thinking about something," Charlie admitted.

"What? Was it about me?" Ben asked jokingly.

"I was just thinking about what would happen if we dated. It would be so weird. I don't think I could deal with it. It would just hurt people, and make things awkward. We would probably break up, and all that would happen would be a crappy relationship that would piss people off."

"Yeah. It would be weird." He scanned over her body and added, "awesome, but fucking weird. I don't think I could have sex with someone my brother had sex with. At least not this soon."

"Same here. Maybe someday, but for now we're just friends."

Ben held out his hand for Charlie to shake. "Just friends." They shook on their promise and from that point on decided to remain friends. They both knew that that would be the best for everyone, and were happy for the decision that they made.

Matt let Charlie and Ben into his apartment, dreading what might be talked about. He didn't want to talk about their mushy feelings and he especially did not want to hear about them being together, because that would be a natural chain of events. The first domino was Matt and Charlie breaking up, and then the second domino was bound to be Ben and Charlie hooking up. Thankfully that's not the way the things went. Instead of announcing their new relationship, they just brought movies and a pizza, saying that they wanted to hang out. At first they didn't talk that much, avoiding the topic at hand, but eventually began to relax. Somehow Charlie had ended up sitting in between Ben and Matt on the couch, and Matt felt the need to point out the irony in that.

"Man Charlie. You always seem to find a way to wedge yourself in between the two of us. You are going to be causing trouble like this until the day we all die."

"At least I'll make life interesting for you two when the only interesting thing in your day will be the fact that you went a half an hour without having an accident in your Depends."

"No, we are going to pay someone to take you away and marry you. We desperately want to be rid of you, and if we have to get a male order husband from Russia named Sven to do that. Well, that's a risk I'm willing to take," Matt admitted.

"You are a bunch of jerks. But I do hope that I am around when you guys are in Depends. You guys are pretty good friends, and I don't want to mess that up because a relationship didn't work out." Charlie directed this last sentence at Matt, hoping that he would forgive her. He had said that he was cool with her ending it, but she knew that it still probably hurt him a little bit inside.

"Don't worry sweets. There is nothing in this world short of a tornado could get you away from us."

After a pause Matt nodded his head. "Sorry Charlie, but you are here to stay. I think you are like herpes. You may be gone for a while, but you are never really gone. You will always show up again, no matter what we do to try to get you to go away. Okay?"

"Okay."

The boys dug into the pizza once again, while Charlie leaned back into the couch, watching the movie. Charlie thought that it was a shame that she had met these boys but had to leave. They were good to her, even though she had treated them like crap. It saddened her that she had to leave these good friends that she just found, but she did find comfort in the fact that they would all find each other once again. Like Ben said. Nothing in this world short of a natural disaster could keep them apart for that long.

Charlie and her mother sat down to dinner alone because Mary had a date with another coach from the soccer camp that she worked at. She had been avoiding her mother for the most part since the night Matt had come over, but Charlie figured that she should go and talk to her.

"So, what are you going to take to your father's house?" her mother began. She sounded cold, because she was not dealing with her daughter leaving very well.

"Umm, probably just clothes, maybe some knick knacks. I'm not entirely sure just yet."

"You see that's the problem with you Charlie. You have to make a decision and you are never 'entirely sure' about what you are going to do. If you would just think things out in the first place you wouldn't be in the predicament that you are in now."

"And what predicament is that? Falling for a guy and seeing where is takes me. Is that such a horrible thing, to care about someone so that you want to see where it goes?"

"You don't seem to understand that if you don't think about all of the possible things that could happen, you aren't truly prepared for what that relationship could entail. You leapt blindly into a relationship with Matt without thinking if you really loved him. You didn't think if it would work out between you two. All you thought about is that he was a nice guy. If you don't look before you leap, one of these times you are just going to fall on your face, and I don't know if I can be there for you when that happens."

"Did grandma give you this little talk when you and dad got divorced?" Charlie asked bitterly. "Did you think of every possible thing that could happen when you two got married, because I highly doubt that you could of? I'm sure you couldn't have. If you did, you probably wouldn't have married him and Mary and I wouldn't be here right now. We learn from our mistakes. And this isn't completely a mistake. There is some silver lining to this cloud. I think Matt and I got to be closer friends because of it, so there is something good that came out of that relationship, just like how Mary and I came out of your and dad's marriage."

"I'm just afraid that you are going to keep jumping into bad relationship after bad relationship, hoping that there will be some good thing in it to make it worth your while. I don't want you to make the same mistakes that I have made. I know you are better and smarter than I was at your age, but sometimes things will just get the best of us. We may not plan for something to happen, but it does and sometimes you just can't stop it. Like when your father and I got married. We were both so young, and I had never planned to marry that young, but it happened. I just don't want you to get sucked into something just because events force other things to happen. The domino theory works on relationships too. I don't want you to screw up and unintentionally mess up your entire life."

"I won't mom. I know right from wrong, and even if I do make mistakes; that is the only way I can ever learn how to function in a relationship. I have to date the wrong guy so that I know what I'm looking for. That is the only way I can find the right guy. That's why I'm going to take that internship and stay with dad."

"Why? So you can find some other guy to date?"

"No! So I can go and find out what works for me. That is the only way I can see what I truly love, and how I want to live my life. I love you mom, but you just try to create this perfect little safe environment, and I cannot grow in safe. I cannot learn in a safe place. I have to take risks. That's why I broke up with Matt. He was too safe for me. I couldn't learn anything from him. At least not at this point, so I broke it off."

"I see. I think you have a valid point there, but I still don't want to let you go. It's like when I was teaching you to ride a bike. I knew that I had to let go of you so that you could balance on your own, but you have no idea how hard it was for me to do that because I knew that you would just fall down and hurt yourself. No parent in their right mind wants their kid to get hurt, and by letting you go do whatever you want, I know it will just end up with you getting hurt."

"Mom, that's what everyone has been telling me this summer. Sometimes in life you just have to get hurt."

"I know, but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with."

"Please just say that you are going to be okay with me leaving?"

"Fine. I want you to grow up and be happy, and if this is how it has to happen, I guess I should just embrace it."

"Thanks mom."

Matt packed the last of Charlie's boxes into her Jeep and turned back towards Ben, Charlie and Mary. "I think we are all done here. Are you guys ready to roll?"

Charlie was about to embark on her trip to her father's house, where she would be staying during her internship at Waterson Sanitarium. Since Ben was going out there back to his house, he opted to take some of her stuff with him. "Ugh, I'm so tired of packing and crap. I don't even want to drive anymore," Charlie said as she leaned onto her car. She looked absolutely exhausted, so Mary went and wrapped her arm around her waist.

"Then don't go. I don't want to be left here all alone for the rest of the summer. It's just barely July, and I have you are leaving me. It's just not fair."

"Hey Mary. I'll be here if you ever want to hang out," Matt offered. It was more of a joke, but he knew that he probably would be hanging out with her. He didn't mind that, because she was a pretty fun person to be around. Thankfully he didn't have any feelings for her, because making this love triangle a love square, if there was such a thing, would be too much for him to deal with.

"Thanks. I may just take you up on that offer, but just so you know, I don't have sex on the first date. Only hand jobs," she added with a laugh.

"Well in that case, I'm only an hour away Mary," Ben stated.

Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, but they still knew that their time together had to end. Charlie gave Mary a big bear hug, saying that she would call her as soon as she got there, and then turned to Matt. "It's been real. I'll see you soon though. I just know it," Charlie said as she hugged him.

"We will meet again. Keep in touch," Matt added as he released her from his arms. She and Ben hopped into their cars and drove off to Andover, thinking about their futures and what it would hold for all of them.

Charlie pulled into her father's driveway, with Ben following closely behind her. Mr. Lockwood quickly came out because Charlie had called him five minutes earlier to say that she would be their soon.

"Hey Char. Jesus, this thing is only for two months, not two years. You did not need two car loads of stuff."

"What can I say dad. I'm a girl and I have a lot of baggage."

"Sometimes you just need to let that baggage go and embrace new beginnings. Like sending back all of this junk to your mom's and starting fresh."

Just then Ben exited his car and held out his hand for Ethan to shake. "Hi, I'm Ben. You must be Charlie's dad."

"Yeah, I am. I didn't realize that we were having guests."

"He just came to help me with my stuff. I had a lot, and I would have had to make to trips, but he lives out here, so he decided to give me a hand."

"You mean there is another car load of your stuff. We better get cracking then. So you are Matt's brother, right?" Ben nodded his head and went back to his car to grab a box. Charlie's father turned back to Charlie and asked her, "so, how did things work out between you two?"

"Matt and I ended it, but he seemed really cool about it. We said that we would be friends, and the weird thing is, I think that we really will end up staying in touch and being friends."

"And what about you and Ben?"

"Oh, we are just going to be friends too. It would just be too messy to date Ben, and I think it will work out better in the end if we all just stayed friends."

"Sounds like you have grown up a lot this summer. You started out just jumping into a relationship just for the sake of being in a relationship, but I think you've figured out that you have to do what's right for you."

"How come you didn't tell me this at the beginning of this mess?"

"Because it was your mess to make and clean up. That's all apart of growing up, and this is just a little taste of it."

Ben then walked up to them with his arms full with a huge box. "What's going on here? Am I going to be the only one helping out here?"

"Yep. You are the slave labor for the day."

"Come on Charlie let's help him out. Don't think of it as work. Think of it as a step towards a new beginning."

After filling their arms with Charlie's belongings, the trio walked inside and began to set up Charlie's new beginning, but there would always be that baggage to remind her of her past with the Brake brothers, and she hoped that they would not only have the past, but also a little bit of the future together.

A/N: Well, that's it folks. I didn't expect to end it so early, but all of the conflicts seem to be resolved, and if I just kept adding chapters it would turn into a truly crappy story and it would just be words for the sake of having more words. I do plan on having a sequel, which will take place after Charlie has graduated medical school and will include basically all of the same major characters. Tell me if you would like a sequel, because if there isn't any interest I won't bother putting it up. Thanks for reading!