5. It’s the End of the World As We Know It -- REM
by Renee-chan

Charlie stared down at his hands, for he couldn’t look at her. Marry her today or it’s over? Charlie felt a helpless flutter in his chest at the mere thought of those words. He didn’t want to lose Kirsten. He loved her! He truly did. She fit into their lives as though she was made to be there. And what would Owen, Claudia and Julia -- who already thought of her as a mother figure -- do with her gone? They would be right back to all of the same problems they’d had at the beginning. The fact was... the girls and Owen needed a mother.

But that was the crux of the problem, wasn’t it? Did Charlie love her because he was in love with her... or did he love her because he felt he should? That this was just one more obligation he was required to fulfill as the new head of the Salinger family. He just didn’t know. And that was why he couldn’t make this choice just yet. Because to marry Kirsten because of a sense of responsibility he felt towards his younger siblings... that would be the wrong choice for both of them.

Surprisingly, though, when he told the others of his decision... it was Bailey’s eyes that were shining with tears.

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