DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Okay, so I don't really actually watch Home and Away, but I was on YouTube browsing other videos when I came across the Charlie Joey Love Story, and got engrossed, and watched the whole thing. I literally lost my whole evening. Anyway I was so taken with the story I decided to write my own. As I say I don't really watch the show, so I have no idea what has happened since well I know Joey didn't come back, and I know Charlie got hit by Brett's car, and possibly died later on at some point. But needless to say my story won't be following the reality of the show because I really have no idea what that is!! Sooooo let me know what you think.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To debrafitzakerley[at]yahoo.co.uk
One More Chance
They had decided after Morag's bombshell via telephone, that solidarity was the order of the day. So Charlie, Ruby and even Aden when he finished work decided that they would all be having a sleep over at Joey and Lily's. It had been pretty amazing, the five of them had ordered take away, and generally just goofed around and had a laugh.
It had really helped to take Joey's mind off the impending trial. She loves them, her best friends, for really being here for her, they really had the most excellent Saturday night. A rather energetic game of charades just before bed had been a particular highlight. Joey laughed until it hurt.
The next day Charlie had woken up worried, although it was Sunday, she was working, the downside to being a cop, no 'day of rest' for her. Obviously Joey wasn't working, Charlie didn't want to leave her alone, but she needn't have worried, luckily the rest of the gang did have the Sabbath free to enjoy, and it was decided over breakfast that, Joey, Lily, Aden and Ruby, would spend the day together down at the beach. This made Charlie a lot calmer as she had to head to the station.
That's where they are now, down at the beach. It's scorching today. Joey is lying on her back in her bikini enjoying the warm sun pouring down on her, sunglasses on, but a million thoughts racing through her mind.
Lily has been admiring Aden in just his shorts so far today, and has been having a great time in doing so. But she can't help but notice that Joey has become a little withdrawn, the group has been having fun all morning, but Joey stating she's a little tired has just laid out in the sun for the last 20 minutes or so. Lily sighs as she looks over at her friend, she might be wearing sunglasses, but Lily can tell she's not in a happy place.
Aden plonks himself down next to Lily, and nudges her and follows her gaze when he gets no response; he sees she's looking at Joey, her face filled with concern.
"He she alright?" He nod's towards Joey as he speaks.
Lily is brought from her thoughts when she hears Aden's voice. She smiles as has become customary when she lays eyes on the gorgeous blonde.
"I don't know." The smile leaves her face and her heart fills with sorrow. Joey has been through enough without having to go through the pain of re-living it all through a trial.
Aden places an arm around Lily and gives her a swift hug. "Then I guess we need to do a better job of taking her mind off of things."
Aden jumps up with a mischievous glint in his eyes, and Lily watches him curiously, he fills a small plastic bucket with sea water, before creeping over to the still motionless brunette, he wastes no time in throwing the bucket over her. Joey screams and immediately jumps up and chases him down the beach towards the sea. Causing Lily and Ruby to explode into fits of laughter, before jumping up and heading in the same direction.
Joey catches Aden and jumps on his back, but he's far too strong for her, he just piggy backs her into the sea, before he gets knee deep and throws Joey of his back, she screeches but its filled with laughter, he jumps on her, and it's not long before Ruby and Lily have caught up and thrown themselves into the mix too.
The afternoon really picked up from there. After about an hour of playing in the sea, Xavier and a few of Ruby's other mates from school had joined them, and they were currently engaged in a super-macho, super competitive game of beach Volleyball, Joey, Lily and Ruby had to stifle giggles more than a few times at just how competitive Aden is. He really doesn't want to get beat by a bunch of high school kids, especially not in front of Lily.
Charlie took the liberty of watching her lover and her friends from the edge of the beach. She loves seeing Joey like this, confident, full of life, a fee spirit, having a really good time, and she can tell that everyone there is enjoying her company too. And why wouldn't they, she really is the most amazing person she has ever met.
Charlie is still on the clock, and as such is in full uniform, which is a little testing in this heat. She's here as she has news for Joey, news which had knocked her for six; she's worried about the affect it's going to have on the younger woman. Here goes nothing; she starts to make her way down the beach to the impromptu volley ball court.
It's not long before Joey notices her girlfriend heading towards her, she ducks out of the games as soon as she sees her, which does not impress Aden, he's just lost one of his best players.
"Hey you." Joey smiles as she greets her lover.
Charlie can't help but let her eyes wander over Joey's body, she still wearing just her bikini, and boy is she wearing it well, her eyes run up and down her slender legs and torso, before making their way up to Joey's eyes. She blushes slightly when she sees that Joey has seen her checking her out, she's just standing there open mouthed, with a smirk on her features, which reaches right up to her eyes.
"See something you like officer Buckton."
"Absolutely." Charlie's voice is laced with desire, and when she meets Joey's eyes, the lust that is evident in hers, makes Joey swallow hard.
Charlie knows if they carry on down this particular path, she's going to end up throwing Joey down on the beach right here, and having her wicked way with her. Which would be highly embarrassing, mainly because she'd have to arrest herself for indecent exposure. She shakes her head, and gets on with delivering the news that is the reason for her visit.
She grabs Joey's hand. "Morag called."
The playful mood that Joey had felt mere seconds earlier evaporated, she feels sick. "And?"
"The trial's been scheduled for a week tomorrow." Charlie squeezes Joey's fingers in her own, to let her know she's here for her.
"Jesus." Joey feels the emotion take over her body; it takes everything she has to not burst into tears. "I didn't think it would be that quick."
Charlie's heart breaks, she can tell instantly that the news has hit the younger woman like a tonne of bricks. "Lily's working tonight right?"
Joey nods, a little taken aback by Charlie's question, who obviously notices her confusion. "Have dinner at mine with me Rubes, Leah and VJ. I don't want you being by yourself right now."
Again unable to find words Joey just nods, Charlie hasn't finished. "Then you can stay over, there's a few thing we're gunna need to discuss. If that's okay?"
Joey smiles. "Of course. Thank you."
"I've gotta get back to work." Charlie hates that she's dropped this news and running, but she wanted Joey to know as soon as possible. "Are you gunna be okay?"
"I'll be fine." Joey really means it. She knows this is probably going to be one of the most testing times in her life, but she's more than confident that she can get through it, with the help of all the amazing people she has in her life right now.
Charlie can tell her girlfriends smile is genuine. "Head to mine whenever okay, doesn't matter if I'm home from work or not okay?"
Charlie leans down and gives the love of her life a quick kiss. It still blows Joey's mind that Charlie is open to these public displays of affection. Charlie turns and saunters back up the beach, Joey with a renewed vigour, certain that she will get through this, runs back to the game.
"Alright Collins, I hope you've brought you're a-game back with you."
Aden is deadly serious. Joey can't help but grin, Lily is wearing a matching knowing grin. Aden will not be happy if they lose.
They managed to beat the kids. Just. Aden acted like he'd just lifted the world cup; all in all it had been a brilliant day at the beach. Ruby had headed home with Xavier, and her mates, while Aden and Joey had headed home with Lily, who needed to get ready for work. Joey threw some clothes into a backpack ready for her sleep over at Charlie's, but the older woman wasn't due home from work for a little while yet, so she and Aden decided to hit Noah's bar for a beer.
That's where they are now. Aden has been filled in on the fact that the trial is going to happen at lot quicker than any of them could have ever anticipated.
"So how are you feeling about today's bombshell?"
"Well I can't say I'm delighted, but I suppose one positive, is that at least it will over and done with a lot quicker."
"Yeah and that scumbag will be in jail faster." Aden takes a swig of his beer as he speaks.
"If they find him guilty." Joey looks at her hands. This is her biggest fear, what if they don't?
Aden places his hand over Joey's. "Of course they'll find him guilty. He is guilty."
Joey appreciates Aden's words, but this is really the last think she wants to talk about. "Anyway, let's talk about something else."
Aden realises this may be difficult subject, so he awkwardly stammers over something else to chat about. "So what do you wanna talk about?"
Joey knows exactly what she wants to talk about. The melancholy that surrounded the last topic melts away and in replaced with a much more playful mood. "You and Lily."
Aden walked right into that one. He smiles and shakes his head. "Joey, there's nothing going on."
"Do you like her?" When he doesn't answer her straight away, she decides to reveal a little bit more. "Because she likes you."
Aden can't help the smile that hits his face. "Really?"
Joey rolls her eyes. "Duh." They both laugh. "So do you like her?"
Aden can't help the blush that creeps onto his cheeks as he sheepishly answers Joey's question. "Yeah I do."
Joey decides to get serious. "Promise, you won't do anything unless you're serious about her."
Aden looks a little shocked. Joey takes pity on him and explains. "Aden, you're like a brother to me, and Lily's like a sister. I don't want either of you to get hurt."
That was a little clearer for him. He completely understands where she's coming from, but he needs to make something clear for her. He clears his throat. "Joey, after Belle, I didn't think I'd ever want another girlfriend. But Lily, she's something else y'know? She's just got this aura that pulls me in. I promise you, I will never hurt her on purpose."
"So you like her then?" Joey says it dead pan. It takes all of the tension out of the situation and the two friends finish their drinks with more than a small dose of banter.
Joey had headed over to Charlie's after her drink with Aden, and they had a really pleasant dinner with Leah, Ruby and VJ. Leah caught Joey up with the entire goings on down at the diner, she had more than a few hilarious stories about Coleen. It was really good to catch up with Leah; usually see's rushed off her feet with the diner and VJ.
Joey had spent time after dinner teaching VJ a new card game, they had an awesome time until VJ's bedtime crept up on them, he really didn't want to go. When he finally relented, he threw his arms around Joey's neck, and told her he really missed her, and he's glad that she's back for good now. Joey had to swallow down the emotion that she felt at the young boys words.
Ruby had made her excuses not long after VJ; the day at the beach had really worn out the younger Buckton sibling. Joey and Charlie decided to head to bed too. Joey is already in her PJ's laying on Charlie's bed, watching as the older woman, who has just jumped out of the shower prances around the bedroom in just a towel.
Joey is eyeing her hungrily, and Charlie is well aware of the affect she's having on her lover, but she needs to talk to her first. She quickly discards the towel and throws on her night clothes, much to Joey's dismay; Charlie almost loses it when she's the look on her face.
"Sweetheart, I said earlier we need to talk."
Joey frowns, she knows this isn't going to be a pleasant conversation, but she's seen this look in Charlie's eyes before, so she knows this conversation, whatever it may be is going to take place right now.
"What do you want to talk about?"
"Us." Charlie stares directly at Joey, who immediately starts to panic. Charlie is going to break up with her, it's one thing for random members of the Summer Bay community knowing about them, but the risk of their relationship coming out in court, in front of Morag, Charlie's step-mum, the risk of her father finding out, of course she wouldn't risk that. It takes all Joey has not to start hyperventilating.
Charlie of course notices the change of expression on her girlfriends face, and her heart sinks, why does she always think the worst of her. Charlie although annoyed, grabs Joey's hand and starts to explain what she means.
"Your legal team will probably want to bring up your sexuality to back up your case."
Joey nods, she was right, Charlie is going to break up with her. Her whole being just fills with sadness. Charlie ploughs on.
"They'll probably want to bring up our relationship."
"No they won't, we don't have to say anything about us." Charlie strokes her hand again trying to sooth her.
"Joey, there's a police report filed about us."
"From Brett's complaint."
"Oh." Joey had blocked that particular part of her life out of her memory, wanting instead to concentrate on happier times.
Charlie shakes her head; she doesn't want to get side tracked. "Anyway. That's not really the point. I don't want Morag to find out about our relationship in court."
"So you're breaking up with me?" The words are out of Joey's mouth before she has a chance to think.
Charlie's confused at first. "What? No." Then angry. She drops Joey's hand, and starts to pace the bedroom. Joey can tell she's made a fatal error here.
"What I was going to say was rather than Morag hear it for the first time in front of a judge. We could invite her and Dad over one day this week for dinner and tell them together."
"Oh." Joey feels about three feet tall.
"I thought we were past this Joey? I thought you trusted me."
"I do trust you Charlie; I know you won't cheat on me."
"But you don't trust me to be open and honest about our relationship? To be proud to call you my girlfriend?" Charlie is on the verge of tears now.
"I guess I still just have to pinch myself sometimes. I can't believe that someone like you could ever want to be with me."
Charlie hates this side to Joey; insecurity is playing all over her face. She reaches out and places a hand on each of her cheeks.
"You are truly the most amazing woman I have ever met." The love radiating in Charlie's eyes, takes Joey's breath away, she can no longer keep the tears that were threatening at bay, they start to spill over onto her cheeks, and Charlie immediately starts to mop them up with her thumbs.
"I want to spend the rest of my life with you. The sooner you realise that, the better."
"I'm getting there." Joey manages a smile. Charlie can't help but reciprocate; she leans in and kisses the younger woman on the lips.
"I love you so much; I would do anything for you. That includes telling the whole world about us, to make sure that bastard goes to jail."
Joey nods. "I love you too."
"Good. So you up for meeting the parents then?"
A whole new kind of panic hits Joey, Charlie can't help but burst out laughing.
Tonight is the night. Leah has taken VJ out for dinner and a movie, so the Buckton girls and Joey have the place to themselves, and Ross Buckton and his wife Morag are due any second. Charlie is currently pacing around her bedroom, having palpitations; to say she's nervous is an understatement. She loves Joey, she really does, and she is more than willing to take this next step, but if her father has a problem with it? Oh god, what if he has a problem with it?
Joey, who is currently sitting on Charlie's bed, has been watching her lover curiously for the last few minutes, the word that springs to mind to describe Charlie's current mood is 'stressed'.
"We don't have to tell them you know?" Joey is serious, she loves Charlie for wanting to, but this is a big step, and they haven't been back together 5 minutes.
Charlie is surprised at Joey's word she stops pacing and looks over at the younger woman, who continues to speak.
"We could just tell them that the police report was down to Brett fabricating a story. Because he was jealous it was you looking after me, rather than him."
"Joey I want to tell them."
Joey crawls up the bed, and puts her arms around her girlfriend. "And I love you for it. But this is a big step, for anyone. Whether you've been gay all your life or straight."
Joey takes a deep breath. "In my experience, this isn't the kind of news that families tend to take well."
"Ruby was okay." Charlie has been using this snippet of info to calm herself down.
"Eventually." Charlie thinks back to when Ruby first found out. Joey's right, the younger Buckton was not happy initially.
"Look Joey, me and you, I'm in for the long haul. The way I see it is they're gunna find out eventually. Why not now?"
Joey smiles. "If you're sure."
Joey closes the last remaining space between them, and takes Charlie's lips in her own. Before they have a chance to get lost in the kiss, Ruby comes bursting through her older sisters' bedroom door. She smiles momentarily at the scene before her, but her smile is quickly replaced with a half serious, half nervous expression. Charlie and Joey part and look over to Ruby waiting for an explanation.
The fivesome had gotten through the meal. The tension in the air was palpable. Ruby had tried her best to keep conversation flowing, but Ross knows something isn't quite right. Although he has been suffering with Alzheimers he's been having one of his more lucid periods at the moment, and he can tell instantly that it's his older daughter that has something on her mind.
Morag had sussed out what was going on about five minutes after they had sat down to dinner. As Joey's barrister, she has obviously had hold of the prosecution file, and with the trial being sprung on them all so quickly, she's hardly had her head out of it for the past few days. The police report filed by Brett Collins, had certainly caught her attention, and it required explanation one way or another, and watching these two women together over the course of this dinner, she can tell they are clearly more than just friends.
Brett decides he can't take much more of this tension, so he decides to try and get to the bottom of exactly what's going on here. The detective in him he supposes.
"So Charlie. How are you? Anything going on in your life?" Ross watches his eldest daughter like a hawk.
Morag braces herself; she really has no idea how her husband is going to react. Ruby holds her breath, Joey just looks at Charlie, and grabs her hand under the table, to let her know she's here for her, and also to re-confirm what she said earlier, Charlie really doesn't have to do this if she doesn't want to.
Charlie feeling Joey's hand in her own looks over at her girlfriend, her face filled with concern, she feels a renewed confidence, and turns back to her father, who looks the most confused out of anyone in the room.
"Actually Dad there is something I need to tell you." She swallows before she continues, her heart is going ten to the dozen, she's sure everyone else in the room must be able to hear it.
"In court next week, the lawyers are probably going to bring up a police report that was filed against me."
Morag smiles, she knew she was right. Ross feels the anger rise in his chest. "A police report filed against you? Who would do that?"
"It was Joey's brother Brett." Ross looks over at the rather timid looking brunette. He is mightily confused.
"Why would he do such a thing?"
Charlie's throat dries out, here goes nothing. "He said that in the aftermath of Joey's attack I was taking advantage of her."
Charlie can see her father can't quite fathom what she's on about. Charlie explains further. "He said I was taking advantage of her, while she was vulnerable." She hopes this is a little clearer for her father.
"What do you mean, 'taking advantage'?"
Ruby, Joey and Morag all brace themselves. Charlie steadies her nerve. "He said we were in a relationship. A sexual relationship."
Suddenly the tension in the room is explained. Ross keeps calm, he keeps his expression level. "And were you?"
"Yes." Charlie's heart sinks. It's out in the open.
"And are you still?"
Ruby looks between her sister and her Father, the two most important people in her life; she prays her Dad doesn't lose it.
He drops his napkin on the table, and rises from his seat. "I need some air." He walks out of the kitchen. Charlie dissolves into tears. Ruby pulls her into a hug.
Joey looks over at Morag, who tries to offer the younger woman a reassuring smile. She then looks over to the two crying siblings, clinging to each other. She caused that, she hates that she caused that. With her own tears forming, she decides that she needs to make this right. She flies out of the kitchen in the direction of Ross, before anyone has a chance to stop her. The three women remaining at the table are startled by the sudden movement. Charlie immediately jumps up to follow her lover. Morag stops her.
"Leave them be."
Charlie's not sure that's such a good idea, but she follows the older woman's instructions and sits back down. Her stomach is really in knots now.
Joey catches up to Ross Buckton, as with many of the locals when they have something on their mind, she found him leaning over the fence at the end of the beach looking out at the ocean. Joey silently leans next to him and joins him in looking out over the beautiful blue waves.
"Do you love my daughter?" Joey is taken aback by his words, but answers simply and honestly.
"With all my heart." She doesn't take her eyes away from the ocean.
Ross looks at the young woman, there's no denying she's beautiful, but there's one thing he can't get his head around. "But Charlie, she's not gay."
Joey pulls her stare from the ocean and looks over to the man that could make or break her future. "No she's not."
"Then I really don't understand."
"Believe me Mr Buckton; I have to pinch myself every day. But for whatever reason, your daughter is in love with me, and she makes me the happiest I've ever been, and if she feels even one percent of what I feel then. . ." Joey doesn't really know how else she can put it, she struggles for the words.
Ross hasn't noticed. "Please call me Ross." Joey nods.
"I knew she was with someone, she's been so happy just recently. I assumed it was that Angelo bloke, although she always seemed so miserable when she was with him, it's only recently she's been walking on air."
Joey's heart burst. "I came back to town recently."
This confuses Ross no end. "But Charlie said the police report was filed immediately after you were attacked." Joey freezes. "That was months ago. I know my memories not up to much, but she was with Angelo more recently than that."
He looks at Joey expecting some sort of explanation. "We broke up, and I went on a long haul fishing boat, for work."
"You broke up. I thought you loved my daughter?"
"I do. After Brett's accusation the whole bay found out about me and Charlie. It didn't go down well. Charlie couldn't handle that everyone was talking about her, no more than she could handle what they were actually saying."
"She cheated on me. And I ran away."
Ross can tell that this particular subject still holds a lot of pain for this young woman, a small tear escapes her eyes, his heart breaks a little.
"And now it could all be happening again."
"Excuse me?" Confusion has been the main order of the evening for Ross.
"Charlie made a stupid mistake last time, because she couldn't cope with how her peers reacted, some of them perfect strangers. Can you imagine what will happen if you have an issue with us."
"So you don't trust my daughter?"
"Actually I do. I know for a fact that she would never cheat on me again. But if it came down to a choice between me or her family, I'm not sure she'd pick me. I'm not sure I'd want her to pick me."
Ross smiles, this kid is alright, he moves his hand towards her face, and as he has done many times with his own two girls, he wipes her tears away, before pulling her into a hug.
"It's a good job she's never going to have to make that decision then."
"Really?" It's all Joey can manage through her still flowing tears.
Ross chuckles. "I know my daughter better than she knows herself. She's brought boys home, men home, told me she's in love more than once in the past. But I've never seen my eldest daughter in love." He takes a deep breath, before continuing.
Now Joey can't help the grin that hits her face. Ross hasn't finished. "The way she looks at you. They way she's seemingly willing to give everything up for you. I've never known Charlie be that selfless before."
Joey nods, the tears have stopped now. "It seems like you've got both of my daughters under your spell. I can tell Ruby loves you too. I assume that's platonic."
Ross decides to try a little joke to break the tension, it works. "Absolutely." Joey chuckles at the thought.
They spend another thirty minutes or so looking out over the ocean, just chatting and really getting to know each other. Turns out the evening isn't as big of a disaster as Joey expected.
Charlie is going out of her mind with worry. It was around 45 minutes ago that her Dad and her lover had gone racing out of the kitchen, Ruby and Morag have tried their best to keep her calm, between the three of them, they have cleared the table and done the dishes. Now they've run out of chores, they are nursing cups of tea, at the kitchen table in silence, all brooding in worry.
That is until they hear the sound of laughter, unmistakably Joey's laughter. Charlie's head pops up like a Meer cat at the sound, and it nearly drops of her shoulders when she sees her father and Joey wander through the back door, both laughing and joking, her Dad still has an arm draped around her girlfriend.
The two returning people take no notice of the opened mouthed stares they have been greeted with, instead, still both grinning like Cheshire cats they seat themselves at the table. It appears the women they left behind have lost the ability to speak, so Ross decides to break the ice.
"So we're onto tea and biscuits then. Joey would you like a cup?"
Joey nods. "I'd love some, thanks Ross."
"I'll get it." Morag jumps up from the table and busies herself making two more cups. Charlie can't keep quiet any longer.
"What's going on?"
Ross can't help but tease his daughter a little. "Well Joey here has promised to take me fishing. Once we get all this trial business out of the way."
"You and Joey are going to go fishing?" Charlie isn't impressed, both Ross and Joey know she wants a real explanation, and fast.
"That's right. We will deal with this trail like the family that we are. Then we will go fishing."
Joey beams at Ross's use of the word family. Charlie can't help the involuntary smile that hits her face, but it's only there for a moment, she has far too many questions racing around her brain.
"I'm sorry, but you're going to have to explain what the hell is going on here?" They both flinch a little at Charlie's raised voice. She hasn't finished yet. "You just ran out of here when I told you about me and Joey, and what now an hour later, you're fine with it and ready to play happy families?"
The question is obviously firmly directed at Ross. "Pretty much yeah."
Ross can tell his candid answer hasn't been enough to satisfy his daughter. He decides to give her a fuller answer. "I love you Charlie. This is going to take me some time to get fully used to. But I've spent an evening with you and Joey, and I can tell she's the one."
Charlie is speechless. "This doesn't change anything. I still love you, I'm still proud of you, and I will always be here for you." Ross finishes his little speech.
Charlie nods, she feels so emotional, tears start to spill over. Ross rises from his chair and pulls his eldest daughter into a hug, he shushes her. "Plus it means I get another beautiful daughter to add to the two I already have."
Charlie just clings to her father, elated, relieved. But more than anything else, happy. Ruby who has also let the emotion get to her, just dives on her Dad and sister, and they are more than happy to welcome her into the embrace. Ross pulls his head out and looks over to Joey, who looks like he feels, like her heart could burst with pride. He puts his arm out to Joey gesturing for her to join them. She doesn't need a second invite, she jumps into the mix. Family.
To Be Continued
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