Title: Survivor; a/k/a, "What's Up With That?"

Author: FraidyCat

Disclaimer: It's theirs.


Charlie sighed and settled a little more into the corner of the couch, bringing Amita (willingly enough) with him. One of his arms was wrapped around her shoulders, and he absently rubbed her arm gently. She had been so quiet, he thought she might have fallen asleep, nestled warmly into his side. One dainty hand lay flat on his thigh, midway between his groin and his knee, and he wondered idly if he could flex his leg a little and cause a little change in location. Grinning to himself, he picked up the remote from his lap and began channel-surfing, leaving the sound turned low, so as not to disturb his raven-haired beauty.

He wasn't really searching for anything specific on the television. In truth, Charlie found himself in an unanticipated position; he was genuinely enamored with the new HDTV. Ordinarily, he did not watch enough television to care about things like picture clarity and quality of sound; if the government and the networks had not colluded to practically force him to upgrade, he doubted that he would have bothered, at least not until the old set completely broke down. He was a little surprised at how much he liked this new arrangement. Mounting the HDTV on the wall freed-up floor space, and even though the screen was obscenely large in comparison to what the Eppes had lived with for years, somehow it seemed less obtrusive up there. It only extended out from the wall for a few inches; when there was a beautiful panoramic shot of a far-away and mysterious tropical island, such as there was now, Charlie could almost pretend that the Idiot Box was really just artwork in a clever disguise.

Amita shifted beside him. As she sat up a little straighter, he was sorry when she removed her hand from his leg. Still, he turned to smile at her. "I thought you'd fallen asleep."

She returned his smile, but her eyes remained serious. "No...I was just thinking."

He lifted his eyebrows. "Sounds serious," he teased.

His own smile faded a little when she nodded. "I think so."

Now he was nervous, and he frowned slightly. "What is it?"

Amita reached up with one hand to lightly stroke his arm, which was still around her shoulders. "Charlie," she began, dropping her hand back to her lap, "I think we should form an alliance."

He allowed an uncertain grin. "I think we've done that already -- multiple times -- but I'm always game for more!"

It was her turn to frown and she slapped lightly at his leg. "I'm serious. I think it's been long enough. We've gathered enough data for a series of books. Besides, I'm tired of waiting for you to back-door me."

Charlie's eyes widened and his face reddened. A shocked "Amita!" had a quick sequel. "I promised you, I'll never insist on...something that makes you uncomfortable." By now he was looking both embarrassed and miserable. "You know. In the bedroom." He shuddered, and withdrew his arm, crossing both over his chest and hunching into himself. "Besides, I think that makes me a little uncomfortable."

Bright crimson rushed to the roots of her dark hair. In one quick movement she scooted to perch on the edge of the couch and lowered her head to hide her face in her hands. "Oh, Charlie," she practically choked. Lifting her face, it was still quite magenta when she looked at him. "Dear Lord, that's not what I'm talking about!" She gestured toward the television. "I meant that I don't want you to vote me out of the Craftsman some night because you've gotten yourself all tangled up in some secret alliance!"

Poor Charlie, confused, furrowed his brow and let his eyes flicker toward the HDTV for a moment. "What the hell are you talking about?" he finally asked, turning back to Amita.

She was both offended by his cluelessness and hopelessly attracted to it. For a moment, she didn't know whether to cry, scream, or laugh. She finally decided on a mixture of all three. Turning more completely on the couch, so that she was more or less fully facing Charlie, she leaned toward him. She placed one hand on each chipmunk cheek and went in for the kill, planting an open-mouthed kiss on the professor that would have left him weak in the knees, if he had been standing. As it was, he was definitely stunned breathless when she pulled back far enough to slide one hand behind his ear, where she started playing with his hair, and the other down his stubbled chin. She spoke slowly, and plainly, as if to as child. "I. Want. You. To. Marry. Me." The she sat back on her heels and waited for a reaction.

Charlie was no longer red with embarrassment. Now, there was no color in his face at all. "What?" he squeaked.

Amita actually winked at him. "We've been dating for three years," she reminded him mildly. "I've been living with you over six months. I think it may be time for a real commitment, don't you?"

A smile started at one corner of his mouth, but he held it at bay as he loooked at her with troubled eyes. "But... I should ask you," he protested, his voice approaching a whine. "I wanted to ask you. I was trying to think of something really romantic and...meaningful."

She smiled at him. "Does that mean, 'Yes'?"

This time it was he who leaned toward her, his arms that reached to hold her close. "Oh, yeah," he whispered into her ear. "Dr. Ramanujan, the tribe has definitely spoken."

Amita would have laughed, if she hadn't been falling over backwards on the couch -- Charlie on top of her. In the moments that followed, an alliance was formed.


END (Beginning?)