Author's Note: I'm still catching up on The Librarians so I'm going to assume that I went a bit AU with the story claiming that Charlene was Judson's Guardian. The male Librarian / female Guardian partnerships remind me of Yin and Yang and I thought that would also be another reason explaining why their friendship and faith in each other was so strong.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything in relation to The Librarians. If I did, Judson would not be dead and we would see way more of Charlene. Although, I adore John Larroquette...
Chapter 1: Mirror, Mirror
Charlene slowly stirs her spoon in her tea cup, watching the milk swirl around as the color changes when she hears the familiar and longed for voice of Judson. "You need to stop working so late, Charlene, you need your rest."
"I've always worked late," she replies without looking at him. She hates seeing him in that damn mirror.
"Yes, but we've always done that together, when...when I was here." He stares at her miserably, he hates to remind her that he's dead.
"You're not here anymore," she notes dully while she lifts her cup and takes a sip, "so I have to go on alone."
The expression on his face contains a mixture of pity and frustration. "But you're not alone, you have Flynn."
She gives a snort of derision. "Flynn is hardly ever here! Ever since you...you...," she stares hopelessly down at the table, still unable to utter the words after all of this time. She finally moves to straighten herself fully in her chair but continues to avoid his gaze. "He's hardly ever here since you left us."
"It wasn't my choice to leave," he returns defensively.
"Well, it certainly wasn't mine!" she shouts, suddenly spinning around to face him. "Do you think that it's easy handling both my workload and yours? Not to mention the paperwork! The paperwork alone might have me joining you sooner than you think!"
"I wouldn't want that!" he blurts out hastily. When she hardens her gaze, he shifts uncomfortably and instantly amends, "What...what I meant to say is that it would be a bad thing because you're needed here. Sometimes, you have to give up what you want for the greater good."
"Don't give me that psychobabble, that only works on Flynn!" she huffs as she turns away from him again.
His expression droops slightly and he timidly asks, "How is Flynn doing?"
Her eyes soften as she looks back at him. "Same as he is always is, missing you, just like we all are."
Judson gives a helpless shrug. "I'm still here when you need me."
"Not as much as I'd like." She removes her glasses and begins rubbing at her temples to ease her sudden headache. "Or for Flynn for that matter. Although you already know that, you see him more than I do lately. He only checks in with me before seeking you out for advice on his next adventure." Her expression is grim. "He's just not ready, Judson. He's not ready to accept that you're gone much less take over in the capacity that we need him."
"Then he needs to learn and you need to help him." He offers her a wide grin. "Just like you helped me."
She chuckles softly. "You obviously needed it."
"I did," he agrees with a soft nod, "and that's how I know that you can do this." He attempts an enthusiastic tone when she remains silent. "Remember, Pandora's Box, Arachne's Loom and the shield of Perseus?" He seems to stare off somewhere deep in his memory. "That was a pretty good shield too, it saved Perseus from the Gorgon."
"Yes," she replies with an amused smirk, "and I seem to recall that it also saved you from a lot of those angry fathers of the girls that you enjoyed romancing so much."
Slightly embarrassed, he links his hands behind his back and clears his throat. "Well, everyone needs a hobby."
Shaking her head in disgust, she chastises, "You were such a pig," before widening her eyes in remembrance. "Speaking of which, do you remember that time that Circe turned you into a pig?" She laughs out loud. "It took me weeks to track her down and convince her to turn you back. She kept insisting that she was only correcting nature's mistake."
He shudders in recollection. "I remember that all too well, thank you, it put me off of bacon for years." He grimaces in irritation as he adds, "And it wouldn't have taken weeks if you hadn't decided to take a sight-seeing tour!"
"You're always telling me that I work too hard," she protests laughingly.
Pleased at her laughter, he seeks to encourage it. "And how about helping Thor retreive his hammer, Mjolnir? Talk about the original hammer time!"
Her countenance lightens further into a dreamy state. "He may have been the God of Thunder but at least he wasn't quick as lightning."
Judson automatically starts nodding in agreement before stilling and eyeing her in suspicion. "What was that?"
She knows that some secrets best remain in the past and quickly dismisses, "Never mind. Besides, he was no Ponce de Leon."
Knowing that there's another story there that he doesn't want to hear, he decides not to delve too deeply into the matter. "Ah, yes, the Fountain of Youth. Although in my opinion, you would never need it."
"Oh, please," she scoffs, "enough with the lame compliments!"
He flashes a teasing grin. "I'm sorry, are you too old to hear that?"
"No," she declares unwaveringly, "I'm too smart!" She gazes at his ghostly visage wistfully. "You were our best Librarian."
"And you were my finest Guardian," he returns wholeheartedly. "Not to mention the only Guardian that I had personally. Those were some good times weren't they?" he inquires with a hearty chuckle.
"Yes, they were." Her smile fades slightly. "I could've done with a few more."
He gazes kindly at her. "And we'll have more of those adventures, " he holds his hands out to his sides beseeching her understanding, "eventually." His tone becomes more earnest. "But right now, I need you here and so does Flynn." They both hear footsteps approaching from the hallway. "I better go. If I don't then Flynn will keep us here half the night talking, and as I said earlier, you need your rest."
Tempted to alert Flynn to Judson's presence so that they can spend a little more time together like the old days, she stubbornly refutes, "Rest is for the dead." He eyes her sternly in reprimand. "Sorry," she petulantly relents. "You better go while you can," she waves him off just before hurriedly insisting, "but promise that you'll come back!"
"I promise," he answers readily with a soft smile, "at least until he's ready."
His image fades from the mirror and Charlene releases a heavy sigh. "He can't even save his receipts. I'm beginning to wonder if he'll ever be ready."
"If who will ever be ready? Me?" questions Flynn curiously as he walks into the room, never once taking his eyes off of the scroll that he recently discovered on his last quest.
She plucks the scroll out of his hand and sets it down on the table. "Yes, you! I've been waiting for ages for you to finish up so that we can go home. You need your rest," she admonishes gently as she tugs on his lapels to straighten his jacket and smoothes down the rumpled material on his shoulders.
"Charlene," I'm a grown man," he protests as he reaches for the scroll and she bats his hand away. "I don't need a babysitter! Besides," he mutters sheepishly as he gestures towards the mirror, "I was hoping that I could talk to Judson."
"He's not here, Flynn, and he's not always going to be here," she tells him in a no-nonsense tone before her voice gentles, "and you have to accept that."
Bristling, he starts raising his voice and wildly gesticulating. "I have to accept that? I have to accept that?" he repeats, his voice increasing in volume with each word. "Why do I have to accept that? You haven't even accepted that!"
Charlene swallows harshly. "No, I haven't accepted it yet but one day I will", she takes his hand in a sympathetic grasp, "and so will you."
"Yeah, well...," he hems as he runs a hand roughly through his hair and stares down at the floor, "today is not that day."
"No, it's not," she agrees with a rueful smile as she links her arm through his and tugs him towards the doorway. "So let's put an end to this one. Come on," she insists when he tries to resist, "I'll even walk with you home to make sure you arrive safely."
Flynn barks out a laugh. "First a babysitter and now you think that I need a bodyguard?" He waves his hands around in front of him, unsure how to proceed without risking personal injury. "And no offense, Charlene, but you don't seem the type to...well...I don't know, protect anything but the budget."
"That shows you what you know," she contends with a haughty tilt of her head. "Bodyguards, just like Guardians, come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, Mr. Librarian," she ignores his correction of, "I'm The Librarian, and continues, "I'm going to tell you something that you don't know."
He releases an incredulous laugh and gives her an indulgent smile. "I highly doubt that's possible but go ahead, give it your best shot."
She squeezes his arm in excitement and leans in closer as if she's sharing her darkest secret, and to Flynn, it may seem that she's very well about to do that. "I'm going to tell you about the day that I met Judson and was recruited for the Library." A mischevious twinkle suddenly appears in her eye. "And it wasn't so that I could protect the budget."
TO BE CONTINUED…