A.N.: (pokes head out cautiously and dodges objects hurtling at her head) I'm sorry everyone! I've had the worse case of writers block possible. Multiple plot bunnies setting up a blockade for this stories plot bunnie. I finally managed to set a trap for the wasqually wabbit, though. So here it is, after much deliberation, the thirteenth chapter. Please be kind and don't murder me. (dodges ripe fruit.) And thanks to everyone who has reviewed. I'm so sorry for failing you so long.
Charlie looked out the car window as Terry drove into a small neighborhood. The buildings seemed to close in on him, their sightless windows glaring. This is where Don is? Charlie thought to himself. How can they be certain? he thought. Where's the proof of their assumptions?
He saw a young woman exit from one of the apartment buildings. She looked over suspiciously as the car and then walked in the other direction. A horrible feeling washed over Charlie. It didn't seem possible that anyone could hide six...seven grown men in a cramped apartment and no one would notice. Where was the logic in that? In Charlie's mind, the entire situation had no logic to it. Who would take Don anyhow? What did Don ever do to this person? Why hadn't he, Charlie, called to check on him?
Charlie realized what the horrible feeling he had was. Guilt. He couldn't believe he had been such a...He had had a fight with Don, and some of the things he had said. He realized he didn't want them to be the last words Don heard. Charlie felt useless. His shield of logic and numbers didn't protect him, and couldn't protect him from the reality of the situation. Nothing could.
Alan looked over at his youngest son. He could see the young man visibly shaking.
"Charlie," he called out softly. He saw Terry look back at him from the rearview mirror.
"I'm fine, Dad," Charlie replied forcefully, but with his voice cracking.
Alan touched his son's shoulder in a comforting manner. Charlie pulled away.
"I said I'm fine," he replied, his voice sounding firmer. Despite how much it hurt, Alan pulled his hand back. He didn't press.
Terry pulled the car to a stop in front of the worst looking building. Both Alan and Charlie stared up anxiously from the windows.
"Stay here," Terry ordered, "I'll be back."
"Wait," Charlie said, "Maybe I can help you."
"No can do, Charlie," Terry replied. She opened the door and got out.
"Stay here," she ordered again.
Terry walked to the front door. David stood there waiting.
"I talked to the manager," he said, "Claims Winters has been gone for a couple weeks now."
"Isn't that typical," Terry muttered, "Judge sign the warrant."
"Ink is still drying," David replied.
"Then let's go."
It took the team a minute to bust and scan Winters apartment. After the subsequent "Clears" came, Terry, David, and the techs searched. After a while, Terry began to feel drained. There didn't seem to be anything. Damn, she thought to herself, I was so sure we would find something.
"Terry!" David yelled from the bedroom. Terry ran in.
"What is it?"
"I think we just found the evidence we need," he said, holding up a few sheets of paper and a key.
Don wasn't sure what time it was. He felt so tired now. His body screamed for food, and rest. After the alarm had gone off the first time, he had tried to stay awake. Now he just waited in the encumbering silence.
"I wonder why he's doing this?" Don asked out loud, "Why me?"
"Talking to yourself, Agent Eppes?" said a figure who appeared.
"What's it to you?" Don replied angrily. It was the only fight he could throw at the man. All strength had left his body.
"I'm just giving you a taste of your own medicine, agent," the figure replied cooly, "The same thing you and your friends gave me."
"What are you talking about?"
"You should have just left us alone, Don. You should have just left it alone."