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The Reckoning

By sweeny81

Romance

The Reckoning

She was not sure what surprised her most, the fact he had refused to go to Canada, or the final realisation that she was just never enough for him. She loved him. No doubt in her mind about that and in his way he loved her too. Just not enough. He had made that abundantly clear. It was time to stop fooling herself, hanging on to the dream that never quite made reality. Canada was her last roll of the dice, the final gamble and he thought he had called her bluff. He should know her better than that. She was too stubborn and had too much self respect to have a man do that to her. No, she thought, if this relationship was to end, it would be on her terms. She would cut herself off from him, she did it before, and she could do it again. If she covered herself in bitterness she could convince herself that she felt no pain.

"I've left details of the flights and my hotel on the fridge. Louis' schedule is there too and the contact details of his friends parents, in case you want to arrange a play date for him and…."

"Baz, I know all of this…."

"And try not to let him have too much of that junk you call food Charlie, I would like to come back and see my son still has a healthy glow and hasn't put on ten stone."

"You are coming back then?"

"Do you want me to?"

"You know I do."

"No that's just it Charlie, I'm not sure if you do or not."

It was the way she kissed him. Passionate – yes, desperate even. She had kissed him like that before. The night before she had left the first time all those years ago. The time she had broken his heart so completely he was sure it would never mend. And it never did, not really. Not until she had came back, and faced him with an anxious smile and a wedding ring and broke it all over again.

He knew he held back, fear of letting her too close made him distant. He had been alone for so long and it was difficult to trust her not to break his heart again. He had tried after Louis was born to truly open up and let her in his heart again, but then he would panic, fear he revealed too much and would slam the door shut. It's why he had left her, rented a flat above a chippie, tried to regain the life he had before her. All because she had tried to protect him, dared to involve herself in his neatly compartmentalised life.

Only there was no solace without her, only shame, loneliness, fear and self loathing. When he nearly lost her, the fear was so great, the realisation so crystal clear that he asked her to marry him. He opened up to her, showed her just how much he loved her. They had been so happy on their wedding day and the honeymoon had been blissful. But when the job in Birmingham came up he encouraged her to take it. He would commute; he would have his life in Holby and a life with Baz. Separate but together. He would be back in control. He slammed the door shut again.

She held on to him as if she would never let go, ignoring the final boarding call.

"You don't have to go you know."

"I do. I have to know, once and for all."

"Know what…Baz look at me…know what?"

She looked at him with such desperation and fear. He knew what he did to her; he knew he had broken her, that he could do it again. He knew he had that power now. He wasn't sure when their roles had reversed, when it had changed from him chasing her to her chasing him. But it had changed and it had made him arrogant. That's why throughout these past few weeks, he had never got too concerned that she wouldn't come back. She would. She always had.

He looked at her, still waiting for an answer. But in that moment, she had looked at him with such desolation that he wondered if he was making the biggest mistake of his life.

Duffy had tried to get him to talk about it. He brushed it off as if it was no big deal. He wasn't going to go with her, she would come back. Things would go back to normal. Everything would be ok. Duffy just looked at him in the way only a true friend can. She saw straight through him and could see that if he wasn't careful this could all get out of control.

What if she never came back, Duffy had asked, what if she met some hot French Canadian guy and didn't want to come back to the dull life of Holby. Of Charlie. Charlie couldn't answer her. Baz was all or nothing, he knew that, he knew he would only get away with giving her half of himself for so long. But she loved him. She had left her nice safe world for him. Left Peter. She would come back to him again.

Empty. She just felt empty. He hadn't begged her stay, hell he hadn't even asked her to stay. Oh he had tried physically; they had made love the night before she left with as much passion as ever. He had clung to her as she had clung to him. But he couldn't say the words. Couldn't admit he needed her. It was over, finally over. She wouldn't go back. She had known it was over when he went back to work. While she had nursed him for three months they had never been closer and then they told him he could go back to work. He shut off from her. He was back in Holby within a few hours. She begged him not to go back, he wasn't ready to work full time she argued, a few more weeks, just till he got his strength back, she didn't want to see him kill himself for that bloody department.

"That department is my life Baz, why can't you understand that?"

"I thought I was your life Charlie, me and Louis?"

"Of course you are…you know what I mean."

"No Charlie, I don't. Why do I still feel like your mistress and that bloody departments your wife?"

Holby first, Louis second…Baz a distant third. If she even came third, she had a horrible feeling that Duffy rated higher than her these days. He was so damn protective of her. She wondered what he told her about their relationship. Did they laugh about her? Were they laughing behind her back? Had she just given them what they wanted, a clear open road to be together with Baz finally out of the way?

She remembers when she used to be friends with Duffy, when they had first known each other. It was Baz that had treated her after the attack, with such tenderness and compassion. She had been as pleased as he was when she turned up at the wedding. But when Duffy came back to Holby, she felt concerned at the time he spent with her. She knew Duffy confided in him. She would guess that he also confided in Duffy. He would have been lonely too being so far away from her and Louis. She remembers one Christmas in particular, he had been distant on the phone, depressed even. When he turned up unexpectedly he had grabbed her and refused to let go. She had asked him what was wrong. Nothing, he had assured, just something Duffy had said about not being any wiser. She always felt that he was never quite sure of his feelings for Duffy. Was it a great unrealised passion? If Duffy had still been around, would he have taken back up with her so readily all those years ago? She felt sick at the thought. She didn't know what would be worse, that he didn't love her or just loved someone else more.

If there was to be one positive aspect of this entire mess it was the amount of time he was able to spend with Louis while Baz was away. Commuting to Birmingham these past two years had been difficult and he knew he had missed out on so much of Louis' young life. And it was very possible he was about to miss out on a lot more. He wondered if Louis would grow up resenting him for that, ask him why he didn't fight to keep the family together. It was a question he didn't quite have the answer for.

But he still couldn't believe it would come to that, that Baz would take this job permanently. Away from him. After all it had taken for them to get together, she wouldn't just walk away.

"Charlie, Baz is on the phone for you." He was pulled out of his reverie by the receptionist and picked up the receiver.

"Hey. How's it going?"

"Good. You should see the hospital, the equipment they have, it's fantastic. Makes Holby look like it belongs in the dark ages."

"You're enjoying it then?"

"It's different."

"Good different?"

"….just different…..how's Louis?"

"Missing his mum but he's ok."

"I miss him too. I can't wait to see him, any possibility of you coming a few weeks earlier?"

"Its manic here Baz, its bad enough I'm taking time off soon as it is."

"Yeah I know, look I have to go, one of my colleagues is here to take me for lunch, Ill call you tomorrow."

"Sure, I lo-…" But she was gone.

Canada was a beautiful country, she loved the hospital, loved the staff. She could imagine being happy there. Louis would love it too, there was so much to do and see, and the schools were excellent. Could she do it, could she take Louis away from his father, make a life for them thousands of miles away. Make a life without Charlie? If the attentions of Paul Devereaux were anything to go by, she certainly could. The handsome consultant had asked her if she was married about two minutes into their first meeting.

"Separated actually." she had responded, shocked at how easily it had been to say it out loud.

"I am sorry to hear that Dr Fairhead." But he didn't look sorry. "Perhaps then it would be ok if I took you out to dinner while you are here, showed you some of the sights of this great city?" She had nodded her assent, what would the harm be? Over the next few weeks she had spent a lot of time with Paul, lots of lunches and dinners and walks in the park. She knew the department were already gossiping about her but she didn't care. She felt reckless; she needed to shake off the shackles of misery that had wound around her all these months. Paul reminded her of the time when she was young, when she would have a different guy in her bed every week. She had used and abused the poor dears in a way that wasn't expected of a young woman. She never let a man stay over, kicking them out of her bed and her life when she was done with them, when she had gotten what she needed from them.

All until Charlie, everything had changed after Charlie. He had made love to her so passionately, so completely that first time; it still gave her goose pimples just thinking about it. She had told him that it could get addictive and it had. The fierce, independent and ambitious Dr Samuels had fallen in love with the brooding Charge Nurse and everything had changed.

She shook the thoughts away. It wasn't as if she was sleeping with Paul, whatever everyone else thought, but it gave her a thrill to know she could if she wanted to.

He was due to pick her up from the hotel any minute and she was still deciding on what earrings to pick. It felt strange dressing up for another man who wasn't her husband and maybe a little bit wrong…Oh snap out of it Baz its not like you are doing anything wrong, she admonished herself and tried to not think about the wedding ring left in her drawer.

Charlie couldn't reach Baz at her hotel, he could have sworn this was supposed to be her day off and had foolishly promised Louis he could speak to his mummy before he went to bed. Kenneth, who had kindly agreed to look after Louis while Charlie was on night shift, was trying to console the distraught child while Charlie called the hospital Baz had been working at.

"Hi I was wondering if you tell me if Dr Fairhead is working this eve…sorry this morning? It's her husband."

"Dr Fairhead is not rostered on today, it's her day off I think, let me just check." Charlie heard the phone be put down on the desk and could hear the receptionist talk with her colleague. He looked over at the simpering Louis and tried not to groan. Kenneth winced in sympathy.

"Hey Jo, is Baz rostered on today?"

"No it's her day off, why?

"I've got her 'husband' on the phone."

"You're kidding?! Husband? Do you reckon Paul knows?"

"I doubt he would care, what's the bet that Paul Devereaux is wherever the missing Baz is."

"Poor hubby. Hey did you put the phone on mute…..."

Charlie stared at the phone in shock, what the hell did that mean?

"Charlie, everything ok?"

Charlie turned to him and Kenneth was shocked to see the colour drain from his face.

"Has Baz mentioned a Paul Devereaux to you?"

"No, I don't think so. Why? What on earth is the matter? Is Baz ok?

"Apparently she's fine. More than fine. According to the unfortunate receptionist who doesn't know how to use a mute button, my wife can be found wherever this Paul Devereaux happens to be."

Kenneth had tried to persuade him not to go to work, that he needed to sort it out with Baz. But Charlie had said he needed to go to work. That was what he did wasn't it, he had left a sobbing child and his marriage possibly in tatters and went to work. Holby always came first. He found himself in his office, not knowing or remembering how he got there, staring at the picture of Baz and Louis as a baby. He remembered the conversation he had had with Mark before he and Baz had got married and he was living in the miserable flat about the chip shop.

"I just can't imagine her picking up with someone else." Mark had looked at him like an idiot and told him not to be so sure. He wasn't sure what he was feeling, he was in shock probably, that's why he felt so numb. He couldn't believe that Baz would do this, didn't understand how she could do this.

"Charlie? Good you're here; can you take a look at this patient in 2 for me? Charlie? Hello, earth to Charlie?"

Charlie turned to Duffy, he wasn't sure what look was on his face but it was enough for Duffy to come in and close the door.

"What happened?"

He told her everything how he had tried to get Baz on the phone, what he had overheard.

"I think she's having an affair." As he said the words out loud he became more convinced of their truth.

Duffy looked at him with wild eyes, "I don't think you can presume anything Charlie. Not from that. You know what hospital departments are like, I'm sure everyone probably thinks we are sleeping together."

"Don't be ridiculous."

"It's not so ridiculous though is it Charlie? The idea of me and you having an affair."

"Duffy, what are you…"

"I'm saying that you get married to the love of your life, who loves you so much that she does not want work to come between you ever again. So she gives up a good job where all her friends are and moves to another city. For you. Instead of cutting down your hours as promised and going home every other day, you start working more hours and going home to your wife and child every weekend. You almost die from a pulmonary embolism and your wife gives up her job to care for you round the clock for three months. She begs you not to go back to work because she is afraid her husband will put himself in an early grave and what do you do? You go back to work and expect her to carry on putting up with having a part time husband and a part time father for her child."

"Duffy that's hardly fair and totally out of line."

"It's totally fair Charlie. I know Baz and what surprises me the most is that she didn't give you an ultimatum years ago, that she put up with it all this time. I mean Baz; she never used to settle for this kind of crap from men did she? I'm sorry Charlie but I have to ask, do you love her because the way you have been acting it's as if you want an out from you marriage?"

He looked at his friend and considered the question as if for the first time.

"Duffy. I need you to cover for me. I think I need to go to Canada."

He raced through the front door startling Kenneth who had been dozing on the sofa.

"Charlie, what are you doing back?"

"I'm going to Canada." He replied, knowing that no explanation was really necessary."

"Good. What can I do to help?" Charlie looked at his father-in-law with affection; he had always rooted for him, despite his wife's disapproval of Charlie's relationship with Baz.

"Well, you can help me pack. Louis and I will be on the first plane to Canada tomorrow morning."

"No problem. Look Charlie…" Kenneth paused as if struggling with the words he wanted to say, "I know I may be sticking my oar in here but I need to say it. You and Baz are two strong independent people, but you are much stronger together than you are apart. You are the one for her Charlie, remember that. Not Peter, nor any other man she has ever brought home. It's always been you."

Charlie swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat. He didn't know how to respond to that, not when everything was so hopelessly messed up. He blindly patted his father-in-law on the shoulder and ran up the stairs. Kenneth sighed quietly to himself as he watched Charlie leave the room, the Baz and Charlie merry-go-round was exhausting and he prayed that Baz's hot headedness and tendency to leap before she looked hadn't made the situation a whole lot worse.

Paul had been rather disappointed when Baz again hadn't asked him into her hotel room. She enjoyed his company but she was not sure she wanted to take their relationship any further. Not yet. She knew she needed to get over the break-up of her marriage first. If she ever did. The pain was still so raw, grief clasped at her heart like a vice and its grip was unyielding. God she was so lonely, she missed Louis and as much as it pained her to admit it, she missed Charlie. Their brief but regular phone conversations had not made it any easier. Often she felt that he was actually talking to her with affection, with a note of longing, and she would think that maybe, just maybe he would open up to her, ask her to come home or jump on the next plane to Canada and declare his undying love. Then he would be called away by Louis or someone from the department and the fantasy would be shattered and she would berate herself for becoming such a cliché.

She picked up the phone by her bed and dialled the familiar number but replaced the receiver when she realised how late it would be in Holby. Charlie would be at work by now though…she picked the phone back up again.

"Hi Jack, its Baz. Is Charlie around?"

"He was earlier Baz, let me check….Duffy have you seen Charlie, Baz is on the phone?" There was a pause and the sound of a phone being passed over.

"Hi Baz, its Duffy."

"Hi, is everything ok? Is Charlie working tonight?"

"Yeah he is, but he's in recuss at the moment, it's all gone manic here. Shall I get him to call you?"

Baz couldn't help the frustrated sigh; she really needed to talk to him.

"I will try and catch him tomorrow. Tell him….oh god I don't even know what I want to tell him."

"Baz? What's wrong?"

"Wrong?! Everything's wrong at the moment Duffy!" she snapped "I'm sorry, I just really needed to talk to him that's all. If he gets a chance ask him to call would you."

"Of course I will. Take care of yourself ok."

"Thanks Duff."

Jack raised his eyebrows at Duffy. "Manic? This has been the slowest night shift I have ever seen and I know for a fact that Charlie is not in recuss. Spill."

"Mind your own business Jack Vincent."

"He's not doing the dirty on Baz is he?"

"Jack."

"OK, OK, my lips are sealed..."

Charlie shifted a sleeping Louis in his arms as he waited for taxi. It had been the longest flight of his life. What ifs and maybes swarming through his head, he had not managed to get any sleep. Louis thankfully had endured the long flight relatively well. Kenneth had been sensible enough to pack the portable DVD player in Charlie's hand luggage and Louis had spent the majority of the flight alternating between sleeping and Bob the Builder.

He was unsure what to do first. Hotel or hospital? It was morning here in Toronto, which was weird because it was also morning when he left Holby seven hours ago, Baz should be at work. Louis stirred again and he made his decision. Hotel first, get washed, changed, let Louis nap some more and then head for the hospital. If she had found herself some gorgeous Canadian consultant he wanted to make sure he compared favourably and he wasn't sure his present unwashed and unshaved state would.

"Baz? Have you seen these x-rays for Mr Miller, I think there is definitely a fracture, hairline maybe but…Baz? Are you listening?"

"Sorry Paul, I was miles away."

Paul smiled at her and put his hand over hers. "Baz you look like a woman who is in desperate need of some cheering up, and I know just the man to do it. You, me, dinner, dancing and well who knows." He grinned at her and for a slight moment she was able to forget all her troubles. Most notably the fact that she could not reach her husband. She knew Duffy would have told him about her little outburst last night on the phone and he still hadn't called. Of course she could call him…She turned her attention to Paul.

"That would be lovely. Just what I need." He winked at her and she knew she was heading into dangerous territory. Paul Devereaux had rebound written all over him but Baz was finding it hard to care.

She swept up her files and headed to curtain 3 where a Miss Elliott had a nasty gash when she bumped into Jo, one of the nurses.

"Hey Baz, did your husband get through to you yesterday?"

"My husband? No did he call here?"

"Yeah he did. No message though, I think the phone got cut off."

"Right. Thanks Jo."

That was strange; Charlie didn't normally call when she was at work. Jo was still standing in front of her looking extremely awkward.

"Jo? What is it?"

"Ah hell. Look I'm sorry Baz but Katie hadn't put the phone on mute and I think he heard us saying…"

"Saying what?"

Jo sighed, clearly distressed. "Saying that it was our bet that wherever Paul Devereaux was, you could be found too."

"Right. And do you normally gossip about senior members of staff in that manner?"

"Baz, look we are so sorry, we didn't even know you were married and you've been spending a lot of time with Paul, we just…"

"Forget it. I haven't got time for this."

Baz turned and left the distraught Jo in her wake, her mind swirling. What if Charlie had heard? Why was he calling her at work in the first place? She raced to the phone and dialled home. Damn no answer. Would he be at work? If something was wrong he could be at the hospital…

"MUMMY!"

Baz turned to be greeted with the sight of her four-year-old son belting down the corridor and into her arms. She couldn't help the tears that formed in her eyes. Relief shot through her as she clutched to her son and told him how much she missed him. He grinned back up at her and told her how he and daddy had gone on a big aeroplane and they were staying in a hotel, which had a TV…. Daddy? She looked up past Louis and his chattering and saw her husband, rubbing the back of his neck. A sure sign of a Charlie Fairhead who was stressed. She stood up, clasped Louis' hand and walked towards him.

"Hi."

He didn't say anything back just stared at her and in that instant she knew. Knew he had heard Jo's gossiping. He looked away from her.

"We need to talk. Any chance you can take the day off?" his voice was low, non-committal but his eyes were fierce and she was tempted to say she couldn't, that he would have to wait. How many times had he done that to her? But something stopped her, the thought that maybe this was the crossroads in her marriage, he had come all this way. That had to count for something.

"Of course. Just give me a moment." She turned back to see Jo staring wearily at Charlie.

"Jo, I have to go. Can you explain to Paul that I had a family emergency?"

"Sure thing. Baz," her voice was low, "I am so so sorry." Baz reached out and clasped the young woman's arm lightly.

"Not your fault Jo. If it's anyone's fault it's mine and maybe even my husband's, certainly not yours." Jo didn't look convinced but she nodded and assured Baz she would clear it with Paul. The rest of the department would be able to cope. Baz nodded her thanks and turned back to Louis and Charlie. Her heart stopped as she saw who they were speaking to.

"Well hi there, it's good to meet you. I'm Paul. Paul Devereaux. You must be the famous Louis?"

Charlie had the sudden urge to punch to smarmy grin off the lecherous Canadian's face as he watched him ruffle his son's hair. He was better than that though, had more pride. He looked up at Baz; she was momentarily frozen in place until Paul's voice obviously snapped her out of her daze.

"Baz? Look who's here?! Maybe this will help to put a smile back on your face"

Charlie could not believe the nerve of this man, to stand there grinning at him as if he knew anything about his family, when he had probably been sleeping with his wife all this time. He was definitely Charlie's worst nightmare, a charismatic handsome consultant. Could Baz have fallen for him?

"I know. Paul, I am going to have to leave for the day, do you mind?"

"Of course not, go have fun, spend some time with your family. We've got it covered. Louis it was great to finally meet you. Charlie, you too."

He held out his hand and Charlie stared at it, wondering if this was how Peter had felt all those years ago. He took the hand and shook it firmly. If Peter taught him anything it was how to be magnanimous in defeat.

Charlie hadn't said two words to her since they left the hospital. They took Louis to the park near to the hotel and watched him run around the playground while they sat on the bench.

Baz had no idea what to say to him. On one hand he had come all this way, it must mean he wanted to talk, on the other hand maybe he came to tell her it really was over. She needed to explain about Paul, but wasn't sure where to start. She also wasn't sure if he would believe her when she told him nothing had happened, she didn't have the best track record, which Charlie knew only too well.

"He missed you." Charlie's voice made her jump.

"I missed him too. More than I thought possible." Her voice shaky, she was barely holding it together.

"Do you remember when we got together? Properly I mean, not the first time we slept together. I invited you to my flat."

"You wanted me to look at a lecture you had written."

"Yeah. I think I could have come up with a better line. You never looked at the lecture."

"I wasn't interested in the lecture. I don't think you were either."

"No I wasn't. I wanted to kiss you."

"I seem to remember that you did kiss me."

"Do you remember what you said? You said you wanted someone to tell you that what we had mattered as much as you thought it did."

Baz looked at him, the memories flooding back, tears sprung in her eyes. It had been so wonderful and so utterly terrifying.

"You showed me your hands. They were shaking."

"You did that to me." The tears were streaming down her face now, she hoped that Louis couldn't see her because she wasn't sure the tears would stop.

"Look at my hands Baz."

She turned to him, swiping at her eyes and looked down at his hand that he was holding in front of her. It was shaking.

"You still do that to me."

Baz just stared at his hands as if she couldn't quite believe they were real. That this conversation was real. It made Charlie feel sick with guilt, when was the last time he had truly opened up to her? He had always thought that she knew what she did to him, how she made him feel. But the look on her face, it only served to prove that she didn't have a clue. How could she?

Baz looked away from his hands and up to his face, he wondered what she saw there. Fear? Regret? Nervousness? They were all emotions he was feeling. She grasped his hand in hers and brought it to her lips and then she smiled. A real smile and Charlie felt his heart lift. She leaned in and brushed her lips with his. He grinned back and looked down at their intertwined hands. He paused.

"Where's your wedding ring?"

He saw the tears form in her eyes again and watched her wrestle with her answer. Fear gripped his heart.

"I thought you didn't love me anymore."

He couldn't believe her words, how could she think that? He dropped their hands and got up from the bench. Anger consumed him. Anger at her and anger at himself.

"I couldn't bear to look at it anymore or feel it against my skin. It was a memory of what I had lost."

"How could you think that? After all we've been through, how could you think that?"

"What was I supposed to think Charlie? We've been living separate lives, you come home on the weekends play with Louis, take me to dinner and then to bed. And then you are gone for another week. During this time I am trying to manage a job and a child and I am doing it on my own. I might as well be classified as a single parent."

"You never said anything before."

"I didn't think I had to Charlie. I kept thinking that things would change, that you would change. When you were ill, I felt so guilty."

"Why?"

"Because I hoped it would bring you back. That you would quit Holby and live in Birmingham. When you went back to work, so soon after being ill…it was like you had finally made a decision about where you wanted to be."

"I had. I wanted to keep being a nurse."

"But you wanted to be a nurse in Holby. You wanted to be a nurse in Holby more than you wanted to be with me. Do you have any idea how that made me feel?"

"So all this is my fault is it? I don't remember forcing you to take the job in Birmingham, that was your idea."

"Yes because only a few weeks before we were married you walked out on me because I dared to get involved with your life at work! I thought taking away the possibility of work ethics getting in the way of our relationship was a good idea and you agreed."

"Yes I agreed. So?"

"So?!" She stood up to face him, "That didn't mean that it was ok for you to live your bachelor life back in Holby, while I raised our son!"

"I cant believe you are blaming this all on me. You are the one that left, you are the one who hopped into bed with the first guy she met when she stepped off the plane. Blame me all you want Baz, if it eases your conscience."

Baz glared at him and for a moment he thought she would strike him. He couldn't blame her, he regretted his words the moment they left his mouth. Instead she crumpled back onto the bench, her hands covering her face as she sobbed. Oh God what was he doing to her? Guilt tore at him and he knelt in front of her.

"Baz, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it, please don't cry." He gently pulled her hands from her face and looked at her as if for the first time. "I do that all the time don't I? Instead of talking to you, opening up to you I change the subject. Blame you for something ridiculous like sticking up for me at work or moving to Canada and ignore the real issue."

"Charlie, I…"

"Please Baz let me finish. You terrify me. My feelings for you are so hard to deal with. If I can keep you at arms length, have a relationship with you on my terms, I think I can save myself from heartache when you leave."

"When I leave? I don't understand, I didn't want to leave Charlie. I never have."

"But you did. You left me and it broke me."

"Charlie that was 15 years ago, so much has changed since then. We have a child together."

"I was alone for much of those 15 years Baz. I never let anyone get close to me again. One failed relationship after another because I wouldn't commit, wouldn't let any woman have that control over me again. The only constant in my life was Holby, it's the longest relationship I have ever had. It's where I am in control. And then you turned up and turned my world upside down."

"I'm sorry that I've been such an inconvenience to you." Charlie nearly smiled at that, her sharp tongue was rarely out of action for long. He brought a hand up to her face.

"You've given me more than I could ever thought possible or deserved. You gave me a son. You gave me you. And all I did was take you for granted, thought I could have my safe bachelor lifestyle, as you put it, and you at the same time. But I can't, can I?"

"Daddy, come push me on the swings."

He stood up and let Baz compose herself while he plastered a smile on his face and turned to his son.

"Coming mate."

She stared at her sleeping son, the events of the day and the jet lag taking its toll. He looked so peaceful, so innocent, totally unknowing of the turmoil his parents were going through. It was never supposed to be like this, they were supposed to be happy. They finally had each other, they had the child they had longed for. Why wasn't it enough? She closed the door to the bedroom and stepped into the living area. Charlie was staring out the window. She wondered what he was thinking.

"There is something I have to make clear." Charlie turned to her at the sound of her voice. "I never slept with Paul. I spent time with him, he took me out for dinner, showed me the sights. He has been a true friend. But nothing ever happened."

Relief flooded his face but she held up a hand before he could talk. "But I have to be honest. If you hadn't have turned up here today, I'm pretty sure that something would have happened. He made no secret that he found me attractive."

"And what about you? Did you find him attractive?"

"I found his…uncomplication attractive. I was lonely, and I truly thought it was over between us. When I stepped on that plane and you hadn't asked me stay, I thought it was over. I didn't have the energy to fight for you anymore."

Charlie nodded and turned back to the window. "I am hardly in a position to be judgemental even if you had slept with him." Baz knew he was talking about Zoe and tried to suppress a shudder at the memory.

"What made you come here? Was it what you heard Jo say on the phone?" Charlie looked back at her in surprise and then slowly shook his head. "Not entirely. It was Duffy actually."

Duffy? Baz's old feelings of resentment bubbled to the surface. She couldn't bare it if he was here to tell her that he and Duffy…God she couldn't even think about it.

"She told me I was being a selfish bastard basically."

Baz's eyes widened in surprise and Charlie laughed. "Yeah. Let's just say she held up a mirror and I didn't like what I saw."

"All this. It's not your fault Charlie. We both made mistakes."

"I know but Duffy asked me a question it got me thinking. She asked me if I loved you."

"And?" Baz held her breath, the question almost like tumbling out of an aeroplane and suddenly wondering if you packed a parachute.

"Of course I love you. I've never stopped loving you."

"I thought Ewart was going to have a fit."

"He did, the volume on his walkman had never been so high, I don't think he spoke to Suzy for days!"

"He shouldn't have been so cocky. Honestly, the man thought he was a professional subbuteo player!"

Charlie chuckled as he filled up Baz's glass of wine that room service had so graciously provided. The ice cold fear he had been carrying around with him for the last few weeks had been replaced by a soft warm buzz and he knew it wasn't just the effect of the alcohol he had consumed. It was as if his world had righted itself again.

"Are you trying to get me drunk?" Baz grinned at him.

"Is it working?"

"Yep."

"Good."

They sat in companionable silence for a few moments, lost in the memories of bygone days.

"Do you still resent me?" Baz asked him. Charlie thought he could trace a note of nervousness in the question.

"Resent you? What for."

"The abortion."

Charlie sat back in his seat, bracing himself for the onslaught of emotion. "I never resented you for it." Baz looked at him with a disbelieving eye. "I mean it. I understood why you made that decision, I just wish you had spoken to me about it first." Baz nodded, lost in her own thoughts once more. Charlie had meant what he said. He had been so hurt at first, that she didn't trust him enough to discuss it with him, but he had realised soon after that it wasn't him she didn't trust, it was herself.

"I often think about it. Whether it had been a boy or a girl, what they would be like. They would be a teenager by now." Her voice held a tremor and he put his hand over hers.

"You did what you thought was right Baz, you can't punish yourself for it forever." He pulled her to him and she came willingly resting her head on his chest, his arms wrapped around her.

"I'm sorry Charlie."

"What for?"

"For the abortion, for leaving you, for the mess I caused. And I'm sorry for the hell I put you through over Peter, for sticking my oar in at work with Jack Hathaway, for being such a miserable cow when we were in Australia. I could go on. But most of all I'm sorry for not talking to you. You're my best friend, somehow recently we seem to have forgotten that."

Charlie felt his chest tighten but he couldn't quite swallow the lump that had formed in his throat. "I'm sorry too. For too many things to list, but you are right we were always friends first, you never used to let me get away with sulking or being in a bad mood." He felt her smile against his chest at the memories. "I'm sorry for pushing you away. I don't know why I do that, I guess I've been so used to being on my own that it's difficult for me to share my life. I've always kept things so separate."

"We can't live like that Charlie."

"No we can't. Which is why I left my resignation for Max on his desk." If the subject hadn't been so serious he would have laughed out loud at the expression on Baz's face.

"I realised what matters to me. You and Louis. That's it. So I decided that whatever had or hadn't happened while you were here, I was not going to let you go without a fight. Whatever you want me to do I will do. Move to Canada or Birmingham, whatever you want."

Baz's face crumpled again and she threw her arms around his neck and held him so tight he thought she might break a rib. He rubbed her back as she sobbed, he hoped those were not sad tears…

"You really mean it?" she asked her voice muffled against his neck.

"Yep. It's done, although its probably not officially been accepted yet but…"

She drew away from her hands cradling his face. "Good. You are going to call Max first thing in the morning and withdraw your resignation." He knew he wasn't the sharpest guy at times but she was just confusing him now.

"All I needed to know was that Charlie. I know how much you love Holby, all your friends are there, the place would fall apart without you. I just needed to know you would be prepared to choose me, that you loved me enough to do it."

"But it doesn't change anything Baz, you're still in Birmingham or you're here and I'm left with being a part-time husband and father. I don't want that anymore."

"So I'll move back to Holby. See if I can get a job in another department."

"What about your career, what about Canada? I thought you wanted this."

"I needed to get away, if I didn't put an ocean between us I was scared I wouldn't stay away. I just want to be with my husband and my son and continue being a doctor. I can have all three in Holby."

He smiled at her and drew her too him again. Sometimes he couldn't believe how much he loved her. He brushed his lips against hers lightly at first, after all this time the slightest touch from her still sent sparks right through him. He deepened the kiss and turned them both over so that he was lying on top of her. He felt her hands in his hair as they broke the kiss.

"We've stopped being stupid now haven't we?" she asked, a trace of humour in her voice, and he nodded.

"I love you Mrs Fairhead."

"I love you too. I always will."

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