AN: This one-shot was inspired by a writing prompt at Fanrush. I did not include the prompt as written in the story, but the gist is there. Three letters tied together, one from Nov. 1990 professing one's love, a letter 10+ years later expressing sympathy, and a letter from six months ago detailing the death of a spouse.
Coming home had not been easy. It was not because he did not want to see his parents, but it was because of what they were planning. After two years, his parents finally decided they wanted to move out of the home they had owned for most of Randall's life and they needed assistance in sorting out the things they should keep from those they should toss or give away. Since he did have time off coming to him, Randall Lake was able to arrange a month away from the Los Angeles branch Federal Bureau of Investigation. Of course, since he was second generation FBI, his FBI parent knew it was possible he would be called to return.
"I won't stop you if you have to go," his mother told him. "However, please do remember that there are probably other agents who could step in for you and you do not have any siblings to assist your mother and father."
His mother could always get him like that. She was a master of logic and guilt-trips. It did not matter that he was thirty-five, she would always be able to manipulate him.
Which of course explained why he was sorting through the dusty items in the attic. Some of them, admittedly, were his that he did not take with him as he went off to college, then to Quantico, and eventually—after three or more years—Los Angeles. For some reason both his parents always promised they would be there when he cared to take the time to sort them out. And, since he had already been through those things, he was now on to a box belonging to his mother.
Going through it he found his mother's various notebooks from Quantico and her psychological profiling files. Randall always knew his mother couldn't throw anything away, particularly things she thought she might use again someday. In reality, Special Agent Terry Lake only retired from the FBI when Randall was twelve; something about puberty and one's teenage years seemed to keep his mother present twenty-four-seven in the following eight plus years of his life.
Then he found something he never would have expected. After going through a majority of his mother's notes from her FBI years, he discovered three letters tied together. One was written in November, the year 1990. It appeared to be from a former high school flame professing his love. The next was written over ten years later from his mother to someone named Don Eppes. It was a letter of sympathy that had been returned to her address at the time.
The third letter was dated six months ago. It came from Pasadena, California from one Don Eppes to Terry Lake. He had a hunch that he did not have to read it to know what the letter contained.
Six months ago, Don Eppes, former Special Agent of the FBI and former Assistant Director Los Angeles Federal Bureau of Investigation, lost his wife former Special Agent Liz Warner Eppes in a tragic car accident. The entire L.A. branch, including their satellite offices knew of her passing.
So mom knew him and she was lying about her knees…or at least downplaying them. Right. Only if…oh, come on!
Randall shook his head. Maybe his mother had just forgotten that she placed the last letter in the box; even though she was still very sharp, there were times when she was rusty. Or had she meant him to find these?
Deciding to answer that question later, Randall read the first letter. From the simplicity of it, he was very glad that his mother waited for his father. Of course, given other circumstances, probabilities…
It was not the time for him to be thinking that. Shaking his head and using the flickering fluorescent light his parents finally installed when he was seven, he re-read the high school love letter.
Just wanted to let you know that wherever the years take us, you'll always be my girl. Maybe someday we'll meet and it'll be like nothin's changed between us. Then we can marry and live long and happy lives. I love you, girl. Nothing's ever going to change that.
Funny. Randall didn't give a hoot of who this Sean Turner was. Maybe he had been a jock, or given that his mother had married and returned to his father, a lawyer, maybe he had been a bookworm. Either way, Randall was glad this guy appeared to have disappeared permanently from his mother's radar.
The second letter really piqued Randall's interest. Apparently this one had been sent to former Assistant Director Eppes in New Mexico around the time he had been Special Agent in Charge of the Albuquerque office. However, it had been returned eventually to his mother's address in Los Angeles. Looking at the postmark date, apparently the letter had reached the man's address in New Mexico just as he arrived in Los Angeles.
Randall grinned. His mother, except for where her cases with the FBI were concerned, always had a lousy sense of timing. It was one of the things he always disliked, yet also loved about her.
I do not know if this letter will reach you in time. I am sorry to hear that your mother's condition has worsened. I hope that your mother will be all right and your father and Charlie, too. Please do not feel as if you have to endure this time alone. We have been told here at the office that you are coming to Los Angeles, and I will be here if you need someone to talk to. I know we have had our differences and other disagreements over the years, but I am your friend, Don. At one time, more than a friend. Just because we had a falling out when we did, I know you still consider me something more. Although I know our relationship will never be what it once was, I am begging you to hear me out once you arrive and I am hoping you will allow me in. Besides, you'll have to put up with me anyway since we'll be working together again.
I'll see you soon, Don.
Huh. So his mother had known the AD he worked under when he first arrived in Los Angeles. And definitely not in a platonic sense. There was something about that sudden knowledge that made Randall squirm.
He would deal with what he was thinking later and only after he talked to his mother about his discovery. There was still a third letter to read and only a small part of him felt guilty about prying.
Thank you for your condolences. I know it has been a long time since I have written you last. My Dad once told me and Charlie that the moment you are married you cut off contact from your former flames and only enough to prove that your heart belongs to the one you married. I am afraid that is what I did, for better or for worse. I know I wrote to you of my impending nuptials to Liz and the fact she was pregnant at the time with our eldest daughter, Holly. By then you had written to say that you and your ex-husband had worked out all your differences and were happily married again. I considered contacting you then, but as you know I waited at least a year-and-a-half.
I am glad we stayed in touch. There have been times over the years where I have known there were things you would understand better than Liz and better than the rest of the family. I purposely kept those moments small, just because I didn't want to cause what one feminine magazine referred to as an "emotional affair." Hey, I never looked at them that often, but every now and then Liz would leave them laying around…
God, it hurts, Terry. It hurts as much as I would suppose it would to lose a child. The one you marry has as much of you invested in them as the children you raise. I never really understood that until now. There are no words to describe the agony when you realize you will never see their eyes or their smile again. Or that you will never hear their laughter or have them there with you as you live the rest of your days.
Of all the things that could have ended her life, I never expected that she would be in a car accident. We were going to the movies, Terry. It was a family outing can you believe that? Liz picked Corinne up from a friend's house and was driving her over to the theater where Kayla and I were meeting her there with Charlie and Amita.
It was a drunk driver, Terry. A drunk driver hit Liz's car head on. It is fortunate that with her past training, Liz was able to maneuver the car in a way so that only she was affected and not Corinne. Corinne was spared, thankfully. I don't think Kayla or I could have survived had we lost both her mother and daughter in the same night.
Kayla and Corinne have been living with me since it happened. Even though I will always miss Liz, having Kayla and Corinne with me has been a blessing. And I know Dad, Mom, and Liz would be happy. In a way, I think Kayla knows this as well. Corinne, fortunately, is still young enough that the memory won't affect her too badly. Yet there have been times when all of us have wondered if we would need to reassure a three-year-old that she is not responsible for grandma's death.
Holly and her family were here for everything, as well as Aaron and Shiri and their families. Aaron and Shiri and theirs were here briefly, not that I can really blame them. It is…sadly enough just a matter of time… Nevermind. Don't want to be thinking that way now, not so soon.
Holly's sons and daughter tried to keep things lively when their Aunt, Grandpa, Great Uncle, and Great Aunt wanted to mope! For the most part they were amusing, yet I know they understood. Even her daughter Lorelei understood in a way though she's five years old. I already see she has the perceptiveness of her mother and Charlie. Mine too, I suppose.
Terry, I hope this letter finds you and your husband well. I do know your son Randall is doing all right. Yes, I have been keeping an eye on him. Please do not be too angry with me. The moment Kayla entered Quantico she mentioned a teacher with the last name Lake. I had to look into it, of course. Wasn't that sort of the way we met? Of course you were the one doing the teaching, Terry, although I never gave you any credit.
Wouldn't it be ironic if your son and my daughter started seeing each other? Okay, wipe that look off your face. Seems the…what's the saying? Seems the apples don't fall far from their tree? Hey, what kind of dad would I be if I didn't know who my daughter was seeing? Dad was right…again. There are some things that will never change.
Thanks again, Terry, for always being there for me. Stay well.
Wow. So the Assistant Director he had served for two years knew who he was and who his mother was. Yes, Terry Lake had told Randall about her years in the FBI, however, she never mentioned that her former lead agent/boyfriend assumed the position of Assistant Director in Los Angeles, which had occurred a year or two after she retired; some of her colleagues kept her posted for a while and particularly when Don was appointed to the position. From the letters he had, Randall wasn't sure just how much Don Eppes knew about him.
Well, duh! What information wouldn't the Assistant Director know about an agent working under him? Especially when the AD was Don Eppes!
As for Kayla…
Special Agent Kayla Eppes was Don's daughter, not that Randall ever really asked or really made the connection until her mother passed away. Besides, she had rarely been at the main office. Maybe in order to prove herself and not rely on her father's name, she worked primarily out of the satellite office in Santa Monica. Granted, within the last three months that had changed. Maybe somewhere in the back of his mind he knew he was courting the former AD's daughter, at least as far as she would allow herself to be courted. Kayla had the same stubbornness, emotional detachment, and logic her father had. She was also a workaholic; of course what G-Man wasn't?
Wait a second…Kayla mentioned him to her father when she was at Quantico?
"Randall! I made you a sandwich!"
"Be there in a second, Mom!" Randall placed the letters back in their envelopes. Lunch. It was the perfect time to get some answers. And not just from his mother…
Looking at his watch he saw it was eleven in the morning in Los Angeles. He'd give her a call later. Still holding on to his mother's letters, Randall went downstairs to eat.