Charlie rolled over as her alarm clock did the standard, BEEP-BEEP-BEEP, and shook herself awake from her dream. It had been about the day she had left her mothers house and wasn't so much of a dream as it was a recapping of actual events. As Charlie swung her legs over to the side of her bed she thought about how so many things have changed in the last ten years, and how a lot of things have remained stagnant. She had finished med school, and was currently a part of a prestigious psychiatry practice. She walked out to her living room and saw Ben sipping from his cup of coffee.
"Hey Char. Do you mind if I shower first. I have to get to work early this morning, and you take a little too long in the bathroom."
"Fine. I don't really feel like moving anyways. You know, I had a dream about the day you helped me move in with my dad."
"Really. Sounds like a fond memory. And now we are stuck in a time where you are getting wrinkles and your boobs are sagging, and my hairline is receding. Man, we were crazy back then. You were fooling around with Matt. At least we have gotten a little bit more control of our hormones."
"I never would have thought ten years ago I would be living with you."
"It's not that much of a surprise. We told each other that we would remain friends, and that's what we did."
Over the past ten years a lot had happened. Ben had graduated college, gotten his masters degree, and joined a powerful accounting firm in Andover. Ben had been living in Andover two years ago, and Charlie had been about to move back to Andover to finish up her residency at Waterson Sanitarium. They decided that it would probably be cheaper to get an apartment together so they went through Susie Andres, the same woman that had showed him his first apartment. After she showed them three one bedroom apartments, they finally had to sit her down and tell her that they were not a couple and would probably never be a couple, so there was no need for a one bedroom apartment. She finally showed them an apartment with two bedrooms, and they took it. They had actually stayed true to their promise to be friends, and had never dated nor had sex. There had been a few episodes where they had both gotten drunk, and made out with each other, but they had managed to stop themselves at heavy petting.
Things had also changed for Matt in the past ten years. He was now married to Madi of all people. Ben had introduced the two to each other about a year after Ben and Madi had met. They then dated for three years until Matt finally proposed-after Madi dropped quite a few enormous hints like leave a post it that said her ring size, and putting a lot of engagement ring ads in his underwear drawer. After he proposed they remained engaged for a year, and finally married. For five years they have been married to each other, and had one son together. Mary had also married, to a lawyer named Shane. She hadn't had any kids yet, but had been telling Charlie that she and Shane were trying to get pregnant after a year of marriage. Despite the changes some things just remained the same as ever, like Ben and Charlie's dynamic together. The had always been comfortable together, and after ten years of being friends and two years of cohabitating together, their friendship had only grown stronger. After ten minutes Ben came out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist, but is had become the norm for Charlie at this point. She just made her way into the bathroom and took her own shower after saying goodbye to Ben.
Matt rolled away from Madi, wishing that he had never married her. Yet again she had accused him of cheating on her, and yet again she believed that it was with Charlie. Ever since Madi and Charlie had met Madi never trusted her, always thinking the worst. When Matt told Madi the story about how Char had gone between Matt and Ben, her distrust grew until she finally started yelling at Matt, saying that he was sleeping with her every time he went to "visit Ben." The worst part was that he was not having an affair with Charlie. They hadn't touched each other that way for ten years now, but that didn't mean anything to Madi. She had become paranoid, and Matt did not think that he could take it any more.
"I have to go honey." It was amazing to him that he was still able to use terms of endearment while talking to Madi, but still wanted to divorce her. Instead he reviewed his possible options while getting into the shower. Ever since he took the job teaching at the ballet academy that he himself had been taught at there had been trouble. Madi was worried that he was having affairs with all of his young dancing protégés, citing his relationship with Charlie as evidence that he has slept with his students in the past. When he tried to explain to her that he had been single at the time, but he would never cheat now that he was married, she just got angry that he used his marriage as an excuse to not cheat instead of using his love for his wife. After six months of her crazy behavior he decided that silence was his only weapon.
"Hurry up in there," Madi cried out to Matt. "Our water bill has been outrageous, and we can't afford it to be huge."
"Fine," Matt sighed, and turned off the water even though he had only spent ten minutes in the shower. Little things like that had begun to annoy him, and the fact that he had another fifty years of that ahead of him made him want to blow his brains out. He still loved Madi, but the fact that she did not trust him and had decided that she would wear the pants in the relationship really made him dislike her sometimes. The only way he got through it was by spending a good eight hours at work, and then coming home and going to sleep.
Matt had dressed and was prepared to walk out the door to his car when Madi blocked off his exit. "What, no kiss for the wife?"
"Sorry sweetie. It's just been a rough morning." He gave her the most passionate kiss he could muster up at seven in the morning and said, "bye." Matt then hopped into his sedan and drove the ten-minute commute into Andover. It had been Madi's idea to move to the suburbs, saying that it would allow them to save up money for their son Jordan's college fund by staying out of the city. When he mentioned to her how a lot of money would be wasted on gas money, because both of them worked in the city, she just told him to shut up and that she felt safer out in the 'burbs. Sometimes he wished that he could roll back the clock ten years and start all over again.
Charlie walked into her building hoping that her eight o'clock appointment wouldn't be a basket case. Unfortunately her partner Adam was. He was the standard early thirties yuppie, and had tried to win her over constantly. He had just filed papers to divorce his wife of six months because he was a kick ass therapist, and a really good therapist was married to their work. His preppy ash blond hair fell into his eyes as he came over to greet Charlie with a cup of coffee.
"Hey, you look tired. That boyfriend of yours keep you up all night?"
"How many times do I have to tell you Adam? Ben and I are not together. We are just friends that live together."
"Oh, I remember now. So why don't you tell me why you won't go out on a date with me if you aren't seeing anyone. I just don't understand it. We have a lot in common, I'm a good catch, well groomed, no outstanding warrants-"
"And you and I work together. I've told you a million times before that I don't want to date a coworker. It just makes things weird if we don't work out, and if we do then I don't want everyone else here get freaked out. Besides I think it's against the rules for us to have relationships."
"Sorry, you can't use that excuse. I checked with Ron and he said that it was fine for people to date. We just couldn't have any PDA in the office, which I am fine with. I always feel weird doing public displays of affection in front of everyone. It just seems like something that is meant to be done behind closed doors."
"Well, I'm just not ready to date."
"That is the oldest excuse in the book. In the past year that you have been working here I have not heard you talk about a single guy that you have been dating. Have you dated anyone since I've known you?"
"Yes. I've gone on a couple of dates."
"I don't mean go out on a first date with a couple random guys. I mean serious dating, like being with a guy for over three weeks, and possibly having sex. Have you done that?"
"I don't see how that is any of your business. It is my private life, not yours."
"So I'll take that as a no." Charlie had begun to get fed up with Adam's incessant questions, so she walked away from him towards her office. This didn't stop him though, and he just followed her. "The way I see it, is that since you haven't been seriously dating anyone for at least a year, I could be that great transition guy. You seem lonely. I'm lonely. We would make a great couple. Just picture how our kids would look."
"I am not going to go out with you, and I am defiantly not going to imagine how our nonexistent children would look. Okay? Now I have work to do, so it would be really helpful if you could just leave me alone so that I can work. My patient is going to be here in," she glanced at her clock on the wall and turned back to Adam, "will be here in five minutes, so if you could please leave, that would be a huge help."
"Sorry, but I'm not leaving until you promise me that you will go out on a date with me. So what's it going to be? Dinner and a movie on me, or having an unwanted chaperone on your session?" He just stared at her with this sadistic grin on his face.
"Alright, but you better be good. I am only promising to go on one date, so don't try to sucker me into a second."
"Oh please Charlie. By the time you and I are done with the date you will be begging me to go out with you again."
"Ha," Charlie scoffed. "We'll see about that. Now go."
Ben sat down at his desk, looking at the ledgers that would be his work for the day, and probably a good part of the week. He had been doing this for a while, so while a sheet with a bunch of numbers might overwhelm most people, he just calmly analyzed it and came up with an evaluation. He was about to dive into this weeks work when Sam came over. He had been here a year longer than Ben, and was in the process of going stir crazy.
"Hey man, I met this hot lady last night at a bar, and we made plans to go out on a date, but it turns out her college friend is in town. We didn't want to cancel, so how do you feel about doubling with us?"
"I don't know Sam. I hate it when you try to set me up with girls. They always end up being these weird feminists with a snaggletooth, or some girl that writes a lot of poetry and think that aliens are going to come and bring us all to a better world."
"Hey, I've set you up with a couple of good ones, like Vicky. She was a babe and didn't have anything wrong with her."
"Yeah nothing wrong with her except for the fact that she was married. I almost went and had sex with her on her and her husband's bed. It's a good thing that I am pretty fast or else I would be in a shallow grave right now."
"Come on Ben. You need to get out there. Or are you too busy trying to get into your roommates pants." Sam picked up the picture sitting on Ben's desk of Ben and Charlie together and stared at it for a moment before setting it down. "I can't blame you though. She is pretty fucking hot. I would climb into her bed at night if I lived with her, but you are too much of a pussy to do anything like that."
"I am not trying to get in her pants. We are just friends."
"Does that mean that you will come out with me?"
"No way Sam. Why don't you just flirt with both of them? Maybe you can get a threesome out of the deal," Ben joked, but apparently Sam did not catch onto the fact that Ben had been joking because a smile crept onto his face, meaning that he was thinking of all of the things that he would do with two girls in bed with him.
"That may not be such a bad idea. I don't think it will work though. Come on man, just come out with me tonight."
"Why don't you ask the intern Billy? He would love to go out with you. Can't you see that he worships the ground that you walk on? He wants to be you some day Sam. I think it's time to start training him to be your little wingman. You can call him junior. Short for Sam Junior of course. You have to start these guys off young it you want him to carry on your legacy."
"Since you are being such a jackass I think I will." He turned around and scanned the office until his eyes finally locked onto Billy. He had low confidence and tended to blend in with the walls, but a couple of weeks with Sam, as his buddy would most likely fix that. "Hey Billy. Come over here," Sam ordered. Billy looked scared, which was understandable because both Ben and Sam were his supervisors.
"Yeah guys?" Billy nervously asked.
"You want to meet a girl tonight, because if you do, you and I will go out on a double date with two of the hottest girls in town. Are you in?"
Billy looked confused, because in the past Sam had teased Billy about not having a life, and told him that he needed to get laid. Billy seemed unsure if this was real or if it was an elaborate prank that would end with him going to a gay bar and being coerced into getting his nipples pierced. That had been one of the pranks that Sam had pulled on him, so he had a right to be wary. He looked at Ben for confirmation to see if this was a real thing, and Ben nodded his head. "Okay. Sounds like fun Sam."
"Good job buddy." Sam wrapped an arm around Billy and led him away from Ben's desk saying, "Now I might get a girl to fuck me tonight, so you better not screw this up for me."
Ben just shook his head, pitying Billy for being young and naive. He remembered a time when he would have gladly been in Billy's shoes, but now he had left his partying days behind him. He was ready to find a girl to settle down for the long haul with, but unfortunately he hadn't had the time to go out and meet a girl. He had grown out of his stage where he would go bar hopping in hopes of fining his soul mate, and the workplace was predominantly male, and he didn't really feel like switching teams, so he was screwed. He had faith that eventually he would find the girl of his dreams. He just had to be patient.
Charlie walked into her apartment and fell down on top of the couch, ready to pass out. Five minutes later she heard a knock on the door. With a groan she lugged her body up off of the couch and towards the door. After looking though the peep whole she saw that it was Matt and let him inside.
"Man have I had a rough day."
"Tell me about it. I got asked out by this annoying guy that works with me and after threatening to follow me around with my patients all day, I finally told him that I would go out with him."
"Why don't you want to go out with him?"
"I don't know. I told him that it was because I wasn't ready to go out with anyone, but I think it's because I just don't want to date someone like him."
"Why? What is it about him that turns you off?"
"Well, he is in the process of getting a divorce, and he is so cocky and I just can't stand him. He always seems to know what buttons to press, and it is so annoying."
"I say give him a chance."
"Why? You haven't even met him."
"It just sounds like you guys have a lot of chemistry together. He seems to be pretty good at reading you if he knows what buttons to press, and I have known you for ten years and a lot of times I have no idea what is going on in your head. My advice is to go into this date with a different attitude. Right now you are just thinking that he is an ass, and that you are never going to date him again. Open up and when you go out with him try to focus on his good traits. That might make it a little better."
"Maybe I'll try that. So, why was your day so awful?"
"It's Madi. She is killing me. She is always nagging at me, and she doesn't seem to trust me. That's why I came over actually. I was wondering if you could do some couples counseling with us."
"I don't know. I don't think I can do that for you because it would be a conflict of interest, and it would probably be hard for you guys to open up to me and tell me your secrets and everything."
"But I have no problem telling you everything. You and I have always been pretty open with each other, so I don't see why it would be that hard."
"It's not you that I worry about holding things back. I know that you are comfortable with me, but I don't think Madi would be. Besides, I'm a common fixture in your guys' life, so she may want to talk about me, but she can't comfortably give out that kind of information knowing that I am going to hear it. Do you understand where I am coming from?"
"Yeah. I just don't know many therapists, and I know that you do couples counseling. I guess it would be kind of uncomfortable, seeing as how you are the problem according to Madi."
"What? How am I the problem? I don't think I have ever said anything mean to her. At least not to her face."
"For some reason she thinks I'm having an affair with you. I don't know why though. In the past six months she has just become so weird, and she doesn't really trust me anymore."
"Did she give you any reason as to why she thinks I'm having an affair with you?"
"I have no idea. I told her what happened between you and me when we Madi and I first started dating, but recently she has been flipping out every time I come out to hang out with Ben. I think she thinks that every time I say that I'm going to be at Ben's, she thinks that I am off to fuck you."
You said this happened six months ago? Is there anything that might have spurred this little bout of jealousy to happen?"
"I don't know. She never really liked you or trusted you since I told her about our past, but in the last six months is when she started accusing me of actually cheating."
"Were there any major events that happened at that time that could have provoked this?"
"A lot of things probably. We had just had our five-year anniversary then, Jordan turned four, I got a promotion to head of the teen ballet group. It could have been a lot of things, so I don't know."
"Did anything personal happen to Madi. Any miscarriages or hints that she wanted another baby."
"No. I mean Madi doesn't leave subtle hints, so I would have known if she wanted another kid."
"Any pressure at her work. Has her business been doing badly at all?"
"Well, she hasn't been coming up with as many plans for houses or buildings as she had before, so that might be it. I don't know what's wrong with her, but lately she hasn't been making that many houses or anything."
"That's probably it. She is just stressed because business is doing poorly, and she just doesn't want to lose anything else in her like. She is already losing part of her business. She probably doesn't want to lose the person that she cares the most about. She loves you, and probably thinks that her failing makes you hate her and want to find someone else."
"Wow, you came up with that evaluation pretty quickly."
"Yeah, well it's a pretty stereotypical situation. It happens a lot in married couples. They get stressed about their work life and they take out their aggression about their work life or whatever is going wrong onto their spouse."
"So, what's the cure doc?"
"I'd say spend more time with her and Jordan. Try to take a little more responsibility with Jordan and household tasks, that way she can focus on her designs. It might help her business and in turn help you. Even if business doesn't pick up it's still a pretty good gesture to show that you are invested in this relationship, and that you do love her."
"Thanks. I guess I should start using your advice now. I'll go home, make dinner, and then I'll do the dishes."
Charlie walked Matt to the door, giving him a hug goodbye. Before he could leave though she told him, "If my advice doesn't work out, here is an associate of mine that also does couple counseling. He might be able to help you guys. I hope you two can work it out."
"Yeah. Me too. I'll see you later."
"Bye," Charlie said as she closed the door.
As Matt was walking down the stairs he saw his younger brother and stopped him.
"Hey Ben! How's it going?"
"Eh. Not bad. Just tired from work. How come you stopped by?"
"Same reason basically. You know how I told you that Madi and I have been having trouble. I just came by to ask Char for her professional advice."
"I see. I just don't understand why she would think you two are sleeping with each other. If she would date any Brake brother, it would be me."
"I don't know about that. Maybe you two should date," Matt joked. "It might get Madi off my back for a little bit."
"Sorry bro, but I just don't think that's in the stars for us."
"I know. I was just messing with you. I'll probably do what Charlie told me to do. You know, romantic dinner and all that crap. What are your plans for tonight?"
"Good luck with that. I think Charlie and I are just going to hang out tonight. Probably just watch a movie or something."
"Can't do that. Charlie has a hot date tonight."
"Oh, well I guess tonight will just be a single guy night for me. I have to get up there. I'll talk to you later. Good luck with Madi. Bye."
"Yeah, bye Ben." Matt continued to walk down the stairs while Ben strolled up to his apartment and went inside.
"Hey Char. I'm home."
Charlie came out of her bedroom wearing the same black slacks that she had worn to work, but instead of wearing her white button down shirt she was wearing a sexy little green halter-top. "Hey Ben," she greeted as she placed gold dangling earrings into her ears. "What's up?"
"Not much. I ran into Matt on the stairs. He said that you are going on a date with some guy. Looks like he's going to get lucky tonight."
"Nobody is getting lucky tonight. At least I don't plan on it happening," she added with a smile.
"So who is this date with? Anyone I know?"
"What. I thought you hated him. Isn't he the one that's getting a divorce right now?"
"Yeah, but he is actually a pretty good guy. He is successful, good looking, and I know that he is at least willing to give marriage a shot. Plus I haven't really dated a guy in a long time, so it is time to break this streak."
"And you are going to do it with him? I don't know. I remember meeting him at your Christmas party, and you just seemed to hate him. You guys were always fighting and arguing. It just doesn't seem like you guys like each other."
"Well, all of that verbal sparring is just a way for passion for each other to come out. We argue, but if we really didn't like each other we would just avoid each other."
"Maybe." Charlie went into the bathroom to fix her hair, and at that moment there was a knock at the door. "I'll get that." Ben went to answer the door, and opened it up to Adam.
"Hi, I'm Adam. Is Charlie here?"
"Yeah, come on in. She's almost ready. I'm Ben. We met at a Christmas party last year."
"Oh yeah. I remember now." Charlie then came out of the bathroom and walked over to Adam.
"Hey. I see you've met Ben."
"Yeah. We were just talking about how we met before."
"So, you kids have fun. Now I want her home at a decent hour, and no hanky panky. I've got my eyes on you Adam," Ben joked.
"Ugh, you are insane. I'll see you later Ben. Let's go Adam."
"Nice to see you. Bye." Adam escorted Charlie out the door and down the stairs, out to start their date."
A/N: And that is the beginning of the sequel. Please review, because I'm not sure if I want to continue with it. By the way, if I do continue on with the story the chapters won't be as long as this one, because I won't really have to fill in the back story.