Looking Glass by AndromedaMarine
Will a squint reveal what I've lost? Is he just hiding in the closet upstairs or in the basement stairwell? Can I hear him if I listen hard enough or feel him if I strain for his touch or see him if I look hard enough? Rationality tells me no. Perhaps I will continue my search for him every day until they tell me there's no hope. I could waste away looking for him.
Need I say I feel hopeless and lost without him? I waved goodbye...and haven't seen him since. If only there were a looking glass to show me what has happened and where he is. Each night I fall asleep without him by my side, hoping that somehow I can dream of where he is, that I could rescue him.
It has been four days and I already feel as though all is lost.
Don, as I'm told, works all night and is forced to sleep when Robin gets a hold of him. I realize Colby and David take turns sleeping in the break room. As I despair, they work their hardest to bring Charlie back to me. They kill themselves to ensure that Charlie and I have a future. But I can't help my irrationality.
I ask myself why he was taken – what did he do wrong? Is it because of who his brother is? Now I wish for that looking glass even more. It's almost midnight now and I'd be asleep by now if he was here. When I open my eyes I know I must be dreaming because he's standing in the mirror as if he'd never left my side.
"Still awake at this hour?" he said lazily. He doesn't look like a person who's been kidnapped. "But that's right – you're not awake. You're asleep, dreaming of how to find me. I keep thinking it's against all I believe to say that when you wake you'll know where I am – but that's just it. You will. I'm waiting for you to find me."
I didn't want him to leave the mirror, but he did. In the back of my mind I'd known he would have to. "I'll find you, Charlie," I said quietly. I slept till morning.
What scared me was the Charlie I'd dreamed about was right. I had a strong hunch of where he was – and I didn't waste a second calling Don.
"I know where Charlie is," I blurted as soon as the older Eppes child answered. I didn't wait for him to answer and started rambling.
"Amita!" Don had to shout. "Tell me where – yes, I believe you – and get down here, now." I told him, hung up, and I stood there for a moment, breathing heavily. I almost ran into Alan at the bottom of the stairs when I thundered down.
"Amita?" he asked as I rushed past him. "Amita!"
"No time," I practically shouted. "They may have found Charlie." I flew out the door and leapt into the car. Alan jumped in before I could pull out.
"You don't think I'm just going to sit there, do you?" he said.
I didn't answer and drove as fast as legally possible into LA. We got to FBI headquarters within fifteen minutes and Don's team came out of the elevator as we walked in.
Alan immediately stepped forward to interrogate his eldest. "Donny," he began, but Don gave him a hard look and turned to me.
"Amita, I want you to go up to the bullpen with Dad and wait for me to call. I promise that if we find him you'll be the first to know." He squeezed my shoulder and patted Alan's. "All right, kids. Let's go find him." Don's face was tight and beyond worried.
Colby couldn't help but give me a bone-cracking hug. "Hang in there. We'll find him." They left.
Alan and I filed into the elevator. "Will you be okay?" he asked me.
"As long as he brings Charlie home, Alan. I'll be fine if Charlie's back." I took a deep breath, determined not to cry. I felt Alan rest a hand on my shoulder. The elevator doors opened to the bullpen.
We waited in the break room. Ever little sound and movement made my heartbeat kick into high gear. My cell lay open expectantly in front of me, willing Don to call. Alan stood to refill his thrice-drained coffee, and the phone trilled. It was Don.
"Amita," Don said when I picked up. "Score one for you." He sounded strained and excited at the exact same time. "We found him."
I gave a little scream. "Put him on," I demanded.
"Just one thing – how did you know?"
I bit my lip. "I don't know. I...I saw him through the looking glass. Please, let me talk to Charlie!"
"All right, all right," Don replied. His voice became distant. "Charlie...Charlie, it's...it's Amita."
"Amita! Oh my God, you have no idea how good it is to hear your voice..." He sounded very tired and scared. My heart went out to him.
"Charlie – I love you – are you okay? What happened? Alan and I have been worried sick." Tears were in my eyes and Alan's knuckles were white as he gripped my arm. "Are you close?"
I knew something bad must've happened if he sounded this frightened. "Just pulling up to the front of the building. Don wants you to wait up there. I love you, Amita."
"I love you too, Charlie. We'll see you in a few minutes." I smiled at Alan and heard Charlie hang up. Alan's eyes were wide and he was still gripping my arm. "They found him – they'll be up in a few minutes." We stood at the same time and I was surprised when he pulled me into a tight hug.
"Charlie's lucky to have you, Amita. You know that, right?"
I nodded. "Let's go wait for him."
The metal doors slid open three times before Don appeared, his arm supporting an exhausted and terrified-looking Charlie. I rushed forward and took him in my arms, unable and unwilling to release him. "Oh, Charlie..."
"'Mita," he mumbled, weakly wrapping his arms around me. He was very tense. "Home."
"Don, can I take him home?" I asked quietly, still tightly holding Charlie.
He nodded stiffly. "Let him sleep."
Alan drove and I sat in the back with Charlie's curly-haired head resting on my shoulder. He was very nearly asleep and when Alan pulled up to the house I gently nudged Charlie awake. "We're home," I whispered, kissing his forehead.
I had my arm around his waist and slowly guided him up the stairs to our room. He crawled beneath the covers and looked up at me. "How did you know where I was?" he asked very quietly. Don must've told him it was my hunch that'd found him.
I couldn't resist it. "I saw you through the looking glass," I whispered, and kissed his temple. I gave his hand a squeeze. He was asleep before I'd even left his side.
Around one in the afternoon Don came through the front door and sat without a word. He rubbed his chin in the characteristically Don way. "Amita, I really need to know how you knew where he was. What is all this about a looking glass?" He gave me an apologetic expression.
Alan gave me a sharp look.
"I might've been unconsciously using math because after I woke I had a hunch of where he was," I tried to explain.
"What about the looking glass?"
"I dreamed I saw Charlie standing in the mirror and telling me I'd know where he is when I woke and...and I did." Even I admit it didn't sound convincing.
Don rubbed his chin again and leaned back. "I think you should know that if we hadn't found him when we did...he'd be dead."
"What??" Alan thundered.
"The piece of scum who kidnapped him had a gun on him – on Charlie – and told us he was gonna shoot him today anyway... Amita, I don't know if I could live with myself if Charlie died. So I can't thank you enough for tipping us off." He stood so quickly and before I knew it he had me in a hug. "Thank you so much."
I couldn't stop myself from crying. "I...I don't know what to say..."
Don pulled away. "Listen, I think Charlie needs a familiar touch after what happened, and frankly, you've been getting as little sleep as the rest of us."
I wiped my eyes and hurried upstairs to Charlie's and my rom. He must've been in a nightmare because his forehead glistened with sweat and his hair was matted. I hurried over to him and lightly slapped his cheeks. I shook him, very scared. "Charlie, wake up!"
I felt his hand close around my wrist and his eyes shot open. "Amita," he said so quietly I barely heard him. "Don't go..."
I crawled next to him, taking his shaking body into my arms. "I'll never leave." I couldn't believe how fast we fell asleep.
When I woke from that blissfully dreamless sleep Charlie was still in a world of darkness, his head on my shoulders. Don must have been right about a familiar touch because his face was completely at peace and the sweat was long gone.
I didn't want to wake him, and I didn't have to. He woke on his own. "Amita," he whispered. "How long did I sleep?" His hand found mine and he still seemed very frightened.
I glanced at the clock. "Almost a day." I couldn't believe it was about nine the next morning. "Are you feeling better? You seemed really tired and scared and Charlie, I'm still worried about you, honey. Can you tell me what happened?"
Charlie was so quiet for so long with his eyes closed I'd thought he'd fallen back asleep. "D'you...d'you remember that case when the bullpen was shot up? I was an inch from death then, Amita. The only way to explain it... I was scared then – afraid of leaving the house, afraid of why Don could laugh it off so easily...the last four days make that time seem...seem like a damn walk in the park." His eyes glistened with tears and I embraced him again. "I really thought I'd never see you again – the man told me he was going to kill me...he put the gun to my head..." he gave a small sob, "and then I saw Don...and I was so shocked I couldn't speak, let alone walk..." He pressed his nose to my neck, locking his hands in my hair. "When Don said it was your tip that found me...I..I knew I wouldn't be able to live without you." His tears tickled my neck but I only held him tighter. He mustered what little strength he had and pulled away, catching my gaze. "Being a second away from death made me realize that I always want to be with you."
I blinked several times. "You always...Charlie, what?" I breathed.
His bottom lip trembled and he took a deep breath. Charlie's voice shook. "This isn't how I imagined asking...but since when does anything go right? I always want to be with you." He looked into my eyes and I couldn't believe how much willpower it took from him.
"Marry you?" I repeated, searching his eyes. He nodded, almost sheepishly, and I could tell he thought I was going to say no. Before he could say another word I kissed him, hopefully telling him not to speak. "Yes," I whispered as soon as I pulled away.
Charlie gave a laugh of relief. "You know what? I'm hungry."
He quickly kissed me and leapt out of the bed. His face seemed full of more life than before he was taken. I didn't doubt that there would be more nightmares. I didn't doubt that there would be more tears. I didn't doubt we'd be happy. And as I watched him move around the room, I realized how lucky I was to have him – how much I'd taken for granted during our relationship. I looked at it from his point of view. He was given a second chance at life itself. The shower ran its course and he couldn't stop smiling as he dressed.
After all these years trusting math to keep me straight, I found myself watching the old me disappear. Maybe it was nothing, but now I believe the looking glass was the reason I still have Charlie.