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Everything Must Come to an End

Chapter 1

For some reason as Charlotte stood in the ER, waiting to be assigned to a patient, and she heard the siren of an ambulance her heart sank. It only became worse when she saw the people come in with the stretcher followed by a dark haired police officer. Given that King County's police force was small there could be very few people that could be here. But, Charlotte knew. She went to the dark haired man, standing by the entrance. His brown uniform was coated in blood and she closed her eyes as she noticed the look upon his face. "Shane…" she reached up and touched his shoulders, but he lost it. He fell into his friend's arms and hugged her tightly.

"It's my fault, Char. All my fault…" he repeated. She shushed him. As she smoothed her hand over his back calmingly, she realized something.

"Shane, listen. You have to do something for me…You need to go get Lori, Carl, Grace, and Aidan. They need to be here." She was holding it together because she had a job to do. She couldn't break down. "You'll need to pick up Grace and Aidan from school. That's probably where Lori is too…waiting for Carl."

"But Char…I can't."

"Shane Walsh, get your ass out there and bring the people here that need to be here! Or so help me!"

"How do I sign 'em out of school?"

"Grace is just at practice right now. You just have to pick up Aidan when school's out…in ten minutes. Lori will be there waiting for Carl. Bring them back here and I'll find out what I can, okay?" He nodded numbly and went to the task.

"Charlotte, we need you!" one of the other nurses called, Susan was her name. The shorter brunette nodded and made her way to the room where Rick was. They were already prepping him for surgery.

"Mommy!" Aidan, only ten exclaimed when his mother walked into the waiting room. He walked over and hugged her tightly. "Is Uncle Rick going to be okay?" Rick wasn't actually his uncle, but he was like Shane's brother, so he'd long ago become Uncle Rick.

"Sweetheart, I'm not sure," she said.

"Is he…is he alive?" Shane asked. Charlotte nodded.

"He's in a coma," she told the other five people. Lori's face fell and Carl clung to her side, making him seem younger than he was. Aidan held tight to his own mother, while Grace took to hugging her father's side.

Grace was an accident; she wasn't planned in the least. Shane and Charlotte had been high school boyfriend and girlfriend, nothing serious, but a year after graduation, they were married and had a few month old daughter. That's how it was in there small southern town, if the girl was pregnant, the boy married her. Although, she had turned out as such a great kid. She was smart, an A student and wasn't one for wild parties-though she was only a freshmen. She was the spitting image of Charlotte, curly light brown hair, and emerald green eyes, small build, but she lacked the freckles that Charlotte possessed under her eyes and over her nose. She got her height from Shane, she was right around 5'8"

Aidan on the other hand had completely been planned. Four years after Grace was born, Shane and Charlotte were actually enjoying the married life. So, they decided to have another baby. He was smart too, mostly A's and B's, but still smart. He looked more like Shane. His eyes were dark brown, his hair jet black, tanned skin, and more of a stocky build. He had gained the freckles Grace had lacked. They were all over most of his face, and only added to the fact that he was a cute kid.

Shane and Charlotte had divorced when Aidan was five. It wasn't because one of them cheated on the other or anything of the sort. They had just lost whatever it was that made them special as a couple. It had been a mutual thing, and they had simply gone back to being friends after. They simply hadn't meant to be married, and they could both accept that. They shared time with the kids, and still hung out with Rick, Lori, and Carl together. They had both agreed that they were probably the strangest divorced couple ever, but they were fine with that.

"So where do we go from here?" Lori asked between sobs. Charlotte walked over and hugged the woman that she'd come to know as a friend. She wouldn't say that they were best friends, but they were friends at least.

"You can Carl go see him for a few minutes, and then you go home. The doctors will do all that they can."

"And what if they can't do anything?" Lori asked, a deer in headlights look washing over her petite features.

"He will be okay Lori. C'mon," Charlotte led both Carl and Lori into the ICU to the room that Rick was in. She left them, deciding that the family needed privacy. She walked back out to her own family and found all of their faces sullen. "Guys, relax a bit," she said. "People get shot all of the time. The surgery was a success; a coma is just a body's way of healing itself."

"How can you be so calm?" Grace asked.

"It's my job, honey. What choice do I have? When somebody does die, I can't just break down in tears, now can I?" The young brunette shook her head with her lip quivering. "Well, Shane if you want to stay here, even though visiting hours are over in ten minutes…I can take them back to my house-"

"I'm staying with Dad," Aidan insisted.

"Why don't we just go get somethin' to eat? Let Lori have time with 'im?" Shane suggested. By that time, it was nearly eight o'clock and they'd been at the hospital for hours. As much as they were worried about Rick, they still needed to eat.

"Like all of us, or just you and the kids?" Charlotte asked.

"All of us," Shane said.

"Oh, okay. I need to go get changed. Why don't you guys go on ahead? I'll meet you there."

"Where do you wanna go?" Shane asked.

"Um…that little burger place? Something quick…" She noticed the hesitance his movements, but he nodded anyhow.

"Can I ride with you, mom?" Grace asked. She was still in her volleyball uniform, being as she had to leave practice.

"That's fine, honey," Charlotte replied.

"Alright. We'll go get a table, won't we, little man?" Shane said to Aidan, giving him a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes. It was more for his son that him. How great could he feel after the day's events?

Without further ado, Charlotte and Grace made their way to the locker room and the former got into her locker. "Do you want a pair of sweats or something? They might be a little big, but that can't be warm. I've got a jacket too," she offered her daughter.

Grace considered denying her mother's offer, but instead she nodded. "Can we stop by the school and get my clothes?"

"I don't think that's gonna work. By now they've got all of the doors locked. You can get them tomorrow can't you?"

"Yeah…I just wished I would've thought to grab them…Everything just happened so fast. Dad came into the gym all bloodied and shaken up, telling me we had to leave. My whole team was confused. But, coach let me go anyway…not that he had much of a choice…"

"You can explain tomorrow," Charlotte wasn't sure how to help her daughter. "Although…I don't think you'll have to. By tomorrow, the whole town will know what happened. It'll be in the papers…hell, it might even make the ten o'clock news! Small towns…" Charlotte wasn't from around there. She'd told everyone she was from a big city when she moved there, and she'd fallen into a clique with Rick and Shane when she started high school. She didn't know anybody until lunch on her first day.

"Did you like living in a city?"

"Um, kind of. It was kind of nice to be able to go to the grocery store and not run into the whole town," she joked. "But, I like the fact that it's so much easier to breathe. You've been to Grandma and Grandpa's…" After Charlotte had graduated-married Shane, and had Grace, Charlotte's adoptive parents had moved to Atlanta.

"Yeah, but so much more happens in the city. I mean…think about how sad it is that this is the most interesting thing to happen here, like ever."

"You don't want 'interesting' things to happen, Grace. It only makes things harder," Charlotte finished dressing and led the way outside. Maybe that's why she thought she had an easy job. Nurses usually were surrounded by unfortunate deaths…But Charlotte didn't have to see many. She saw a few in the past year, and that was minimal compared to other ER nurses.

They arrived at Charlotte's small car and both got in. As they pulled out of the parking garage, Grace began fiddling with the radio, trying to find her station. Charlotte found herself smiling at the familiarity. She was so distracted that she nearly hit the car in front of her. She slammed on her brakes just in time, and breathed a sigh of relief when they were okay.

"Jeez Mom!" Grace exclaimed.

"Sorry honey. I guess I just wasn't-" Her phone rang a moment later and she answered it quickly. "Hello?" she answered.

"Hey, Char…um can you come pick us up?" It was Shane on the other end. She made a confused face, and as if he'd seen it, he explained. "The jeep broke down," he'd switched from the squad car to the jeep when he'd gotten the children apparently.

"Oh, um yeah. Where are you?"

"'Bout a mile 'way from the burger place."

"Give me five minutes," she replied. King County wasn't big, so it didn't take very long to get anywhere.

"What's going on?" Grace asked.

"Your dad and Aidan broke down. That damn jeep's gettin' old."

"How long has he had it?"

"Um, it's an '02 so it's eleven now. But he got it right after Aidan was born. So, he's had it for nine, almost ten years."

"Wow…How long have you had this car?"

"Five. I bought it right after me and your father got divorced." Given that this wasn't a typical divorce, Grace and Aidan weren't used to playing their parents against each other, they often times did things together, the four of them. Shane and Charlotte had agreed to make things as normal as they could for their children. Which meant, unless you were going to marry someone you were dating, the kids didn't need to meet them, Shane and Charlotte would make all disciplinary decisions together, and the children didn't have to stay anywhere specific. If they wanted to stay with Charlotte for a week straight, that was fine, or if they wanted to spend a night at Shane's in the middle of the week, it was fine. The school bus picked them up at either location-another advantage to being a part of a small town. "Oh look, here they are. You'll have to sit in the back." Charlotte parked, Grace moved to the back seat as Aidan slid in on the other side, and Shane took the front seat.

"Thanks Char," he said.

"I couldn't exactly leave you two out there…Well, if it were just you, that's a different story," she joked.

"Hey!" He protested. "Yer mom's mean," he said to the kids.

"Don't test me Walsh. Would you like to walk?" She turned to him, both Grace and Aidan 'ooed'.

"No ma'am. I'd like to get some warm food an' sleep for a year."

"I second that," Aidan said with a laugh. The radio continued to play in the background on the station that Grace had turned on, when she heard the beginning of the next song, she tapped her mom's shoulder.

"Mom! It's our favorite song!"

"Girl give it to me. I got somethin' brand new…"

"What do ya got my kids listenin' to?" Shane asked his ex-wife. This song, Give it 2 Me by Robin Thicke, was highly inappropriate and Grace was loving it. Even Aidan was dancing along with it.

"Robin Thicke," Charlotte shrugged. "Blurred Lines is by him too."

"Mom, can I download this when we get home?" She could've done it right then on her phone, but she wanted to wait.

"Absolutely not!" Shane exclaimed. He didn't like his children listening to songs all about sex. Even if Aidan didn't completely comprehend it, he knew that Grace did.

"Shane, it's really not a big deal," Charlotte laughed. She hadn't seen him react this way to music. "It's art, and art is about free expression."

"Charlotte! I thought you'd be wish me on this. It ain't 'bout art…this ain't a good influence on 'em."

"Daddy," Grace started, in her most innocent of voices. "We're not influenced by this music. So daddy, I would like it if we could still listen to this music." Charlotte wanted to high-five her daughter. Grace was very smart, and she knew how to use that.

After the four got something to eat, they all got back into the car. "So, kids, where do you want to stay tonight?"

"Can't we stay with both of you…?" Aidan knew it was silly, but he worried for his dad. He was so scared that if he wasn't at his father's side that he'd end up in the hospital too. And then he didn't want to leave his mom alone either.

"Aidan, you know that-" Charlotte saw how his face fell in the rearview mirror and stopped.

"Shane, if you want, I've got the couch open…we can stop at your house and you can pick up clothes…" She hated seeing her children upset and if Shane needed to sleepover for Aidan to be happy.

"All of our school stuff is at Dad's," Grace stated.

"I've got a couch too," Shane said. "Plus we can all go to sleep a little faster…" He saw the face she was making, it was one of uncertainty. He knew that she wasn't very comfortable with them sleeping so close, and she hated that couch. The couch was one of the few things he kept from the divorce. "I'll sleep on the couch," he offered.

"No, I'll sleep on the couch. Your place it is." Charlotte drove to Shane's place, it was kind of out of the way, kind of away from town. She pulled into the drive way and everybody got out of the car and headed inside.

"Night mom," Grace said.

"Night. Go ahead and download that song."

"Thank you."

"Good night mommy," Aidan said, giving his mother a hug.

"Good night sweetie." The two said their goodnights to their father and went to their separate rooms.

"Good night, Shane," Charlotte said before laying on the couch.

"Night, Char."

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