You Gotta Let It Go

Subject: Charlie has a hard time letting go. Takes place after Pac-Man Fever (8x20).

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Includes excerpts from the episode and also an excerpt from The Hobbit. None of which are mine, obviously.

Author's Note: I live! Crazy, I know! But I live!

"'You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!'

'Thank goodness!' said Bilbo laughing, and handed him the tobacco jar." She slowly lowered the book, placing it into her lap as tears cascaded down her face, softly plunking into her lap. She read the entire book to her mother, cover-to-cover, in one sitting. "One last time, okay?" she had said before she began. She was in tears then too.

She'd been in tears often lately. That experience in her nightmare was the worst of all. She could still remember how Dean had been adamant that she let go.

"I think the only way to stop this is to... not play."

"What?! No, no. We gotta save them. Nut up, Winchester!"

"Listen to me. This poison, it's designed to put your mind into an endless cycle, while your insides turn to mush, okay, and its fuel is fear. Now call me crazy, but I think the only way to break the cycle is to let go of the fear and stop playing the game."

"You don't know that."

"I know that your fear is creating all of this. You're not afraid of those super-soldier vamps out there, you're not afraid of this game, and you're not afraid of what it did to you. Hey! Look at me. You're afraid of losing her. Charlie, she's already gone."

She's already gone. She hadn't wanted to listen to his voice of reason, but somewhere deep down she had known he was right. He had a knack for being right, Dean. Experience does make one wiser, she supposed.

She remembered her response: "No. No, you don't understand. You don't understand! I was at a sleepover, and I got scared. So... I called my parents to come and get me. They should never have been driving that night."

"It wasn't your fault."

It wasn't your fault. He was right about that, too, and she hadn't been able to deny it. So she had spoken from her heart, admitting something that she had never had a chance to admit to before: "I just wanna tell her that I'm sorry and that I love her. And just have her hear it again. I just need her to hear that one more time. But she can't. She can't."

"I know," he'd said. "Believe me, I know. But you gotta let it go. Game over, kiddo."

You gotta let it go. It was time. She had spent so long holding on she wasn't sure how she was supposed to let go. But, again, Dean was right. She had to let go of her mother. Even if it would be the hardest thing to date that Charlie would do in her lifetime. So she had gone back to the hospital like she had told Dean, and there she sat down, taking out the worn book from her bag, and began to read.

Now it was time to let go.

The problem was she had no idea how.

Tears began to swim in her eyes again, causing her vision to blur, and she let them fall to join the puddle on her lap. "You used—" Her voice cracked. The tears formed a lump in her throat that she couldn't swallow. You used to have all the answers, she communicated mentally, gazing at her mom. You always knew what to say, Mom. What to do. What am I supposed to do here? How am I… how do I let go?

It wasn't like her mom could respond. Expecting her to was irrational and childish, but Charlie didn't care. She had to let go, but Charlie still needed her mother, even at age twenty-eight. She'd never not need her mother.

You gotta let it go.

She inhaled deeply and exhaled shakily. Right. Dean was right.

But where to start? She gazed at her mother for a little bit, her mind blank. There was so much to say, so many questions to ask, and yet none of them came to mind. What could she say that she hadn't said before?

How do closure?

She studied her mother's features. Dark red hair, like Charlie's. She could remember being a kid and having one goal: to grow up just like her mother. Her dad had agreed wholeheartedly, saying that Mom was the best role model there would ever be. But her mom had disagreed, telling her with a soft smile on her face that she would rather Charlie grow up to be the best Charlie there would ever be, and that that would make her very proud. Dad had nodded, seconding that, and then made a comment to Mom saying, "And that's why I love you."

Are you proud of me? If you saw me today, would you be proud of me? I'm a hacker, I've been arrested, I've lived on the run for sixteen years. I even gave myself a different name—several, actually—than the one you granted me with.

A voice in Charlie's head argued strongly. Your hacking you use for good. Reprogramming to support your "flamingly liberal politics," sending Richard Roman Enterprises money to charities, using those names you came up with to wire money to fund your mother's hospital bills. You've faced evil and taken down monsters. So what if you've been arrested? Humans make mistakes, and you're human. What isn't there about you to be proud of?

Well…, Charlie thought, but her mind drew a complete blank. That voice was right. It was like it was channeling Dean.

You found yourself a family when you were left alone. Two brothers desperately in need of a little sister, who are there to love you and to protect you. There's nothing wrong with finding that. You didn't replace anyone; you opened your heart and allowed more in.

She supposed that was true.

Letting go doesn't mean forgetting what you leave behind, the wise voice said next. It just means moving forward. Don't be afraid. I don't believe that you'll ever forget me, honey, and you shouldn't believe that either.

Mom? A puzzled look crosses her face as she stared at her mother. You're here?

I will always be here; I am part of you. Live long and prosper, my darling. I am so proud of you. Never forget that. But it is time to let me go…

Charlie swallowed. She stood and put on her backpack. Nodding at her mom's body, she placed the book on the bed.

"I love you."

As she turned and walked out the door, she could swear she heard a very faint "I know", but it was probably just her imagination.