Title: Never Leave a Buddy Behind, Part II

Author: FraidyCat

Genre: Drama, Angst; The Saga Continues

Time line: Any Time is Good For Me

Summary: Addison Escapes; Chaos Ensues (Warning: Character Death)

Disclaimer: Don't own 'em – but wanna cuddle 'em.

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A/N: A pre-vacation teaser so that you'll all miss me while I am gone. Credit where it is due, to FluffNutter, for the idea for this sequel.

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Chapter 1

He had thought he would enjoy it.

For the most part, it was pleasant enough sharing living quarters with his father. When things were normal, they were two ships passing, most of the time. They both had work. True, Alan only worked part-time with Stan, but he filled the rest of his time with volunteering, and his book club, and many days they didn't even share a meal together.

Things had a way of not being "normal" much at the Eppes house, though, and Alan had a parent's sixth sense about when they weren't. When Charlie was stretched to rubber band tautness because of unusual stress at school, or because of a case he was helping Don with — or lately, because of Amita's absence at Harvard — Alan morphed into Jewish Father. Chicken soup and green gelatin appeared magically, because Alan knew that stress often manifested itself in Charlie through illness. His own schedule seemed to free up, and he spent the mornings and evenings kvetching at Charlie. "You need to eat more," he would say. This was always followed by "You need to get some sleep", and Charlie often wondered how he was supposed to eat and sleep at the same time.

He was starting to dread finals week as much for the appearance of Jewish Father, as he did for the extra work it demanded of him as a tenured professor in the Mathematics Department at Cal Sci University. So when Alan had announced his plans to spend a few weeks with his sister in New York, Charlie had been delighted to see that he would be gone during finals week. Not only would his father get to spend some time with his elderly Aunt Ida, which he hadn't been able to do since she moved to New York several years ago to live near her children … Dad would be gone during finals week! Charlie had thought that he would enjoy it.

Yet now, it was only Wednesday, and he was wandering around the house bored, thinking of his father's lasagna fondly. Charlie didn't think he had ever been so prepared, so caught up. Since Alan had left five days ago, there had been no one to suggest he stop working at midnight and go to bed. No one to remind him that it had only been a year ago that he suffered a seriously fractured wrist, and a back injury that resulted in temporary paralysis, and that if he wanted to get through the week without resorting to his cane again, he should be careful not to get too tired. So he had worked in a fever all weekend, and by Monday had written all his finals, which he handed to the department's secretary first thing that morning. Since he didn't have to spend his office hours writing the next final, he actually got to work on grading the ones already taken. Currently uninvolved in any consultations, he finished quickly in the evenings.

He glanced at his watch. It was only slightly after 8 p.m. He couldn't believe he had time for this during finals week, but he decided to head for the garage to work on his cognitive emergence theory. He pushed through the swinging door between dining room and kitchen.

Before it shut behind him, he felt a hand across his mouth, and he was almost lifted off his feet by the arm hooked around his neck. He struggled, shocked and terrified, but whoever had him was bigger that he was, and stronger. He was getting nowhere.

He was dragged back through the swinging door, back to the corner of the dining room. He tried again to pry the hand from his mouth. He was having trouble breathing.

"Just relax, Charlie." He heard a low voice in his ear. "Don't fight me. I don't want to hurt you again."

Charlie's hands stilled on his assailant's arm. It was a familiar voice.

"We've got to stay away from the windows. I'm going to take my hand off your mouth, now, but you've got to promise to be quiet. Are you with me?"

Charlie was sure of the voice now. He felt relief and dread at the same time, but he nodded into the hand carefully. Slowly, he was released, and he turned to face his attacker.

He took some deep breaths to fill his lungs again, holding the gaze of the man before him. Finally, he managed to speak — quietly, because he had spoken quietly. "Colby. What the hell is going on?"