Call for Help
Disclaimer: Numb3rs characters respectfully borrowed from CBS et al. No claim of ownership comes from The Cat. Those who seek to bestow money or goods-in-kind in appreciation of these characters should contact CBS, as The Cat will refuse to profit from this story.
Epilogue to our exciting (AU) tale.
Master of His Own Domain
Amita breathed a sigh of relief as she followed Robin's car into an empty driveway. Alan had indeed left, and Charlie was honoring her request. The two women would make quick work of completely dessimating her life, she thought, mouth twisting wryly.
She climbed out of her car and slammed the door; Robin was already waiting for her beside her own car. "Thanks again for doing this," Amita said as she drew even with her. "I hope this doesn't end up putting you in a difficult position with Don." She tried to keep the conversation light. "One relationship on the rocks at a time is enough!"
Robin smiled and fell into step beside Amita as they approached the front door. "Don gave up telling me what to do long ago," she answered. Then she looked sideways at Amita and winked. "Besides, I usually enjoy difficult positions with Don."
Amita laughed in spite of herself and inserted a key into the front door's lock. She turned the key, pushed the door open, took a few steps inside while her head was still turned, talking to Robin – and then rotated her head to the front, and stopped stock-still. Robin slammed into Amita's back and pushed her another step forward. She made a noise that started as an oomph of unexpected contact and ended with an "Oh, my God" as the scene in the Craftsman living room made itself known.
All the furniture had apparently been moved into other rooms. The living room had been emptied, and then filled with at least six inches of rose petals, in every color of the rainbow. Shades of red, peach and yellow mingled with a stark white to form a fragrant, lush carpet. In the absolute center of the room, facing the door with his hands behind his back, stood Charlie.
Completely, 100 percent, absolutely, naked.
"Oh, dear God," Robin squeaked again, abruptly turning her back on an image she hoped never to see again. She found herself wondering if the therapist Amita had been seeing offered group rates.
"Charlie!" Amita choked, her voice nearly as shell-shocked as Robin's, "what are you doing?" She gestured around the living room. "What have you done?"
Charlie brought his arms out from behind his back, presenting no less than three dozen long-stem red roses, which he held rather low over his naked body – for Robin's sake. He hadn't really been expecting her (something Don would hear about later), but he was determined not to let it throw him. "This is all I am," he answered. "All I really have to offer you is myself, at my most vulnerable." The roses were tickling his genitalia, and he shifted a little, almost losing his place. Finally he continued with the speech he had memorized. "Amita, you are more beautiful than every rose in Los Angeles put together. I know, because every last one of them is here, and you outshine them all." Amita blinked and her mouth fell open slightly.
Charlie went on. "I cannot imagine – I refuse to consider – a life without you. I still hope that we can work something out, and have children, because I think it would be a crime for you not to replicate yourself...but if I have to choose between having children someday, and having you at all, there is no choice to make." He smiled slightly. "I'll just tell Don to get on the ball so I can be an eccentric uncle to a gaggle of nieces and nephews." Robin made another choking sound, but Charlie ignored her, looking only at Amita. "You are intelligent, and kind, and funny, and exciting, and everything I ever wanted. I will wait for you as long as I have to, and I will do anything you ask. Amita Ramanujan, I love you with all my heart. I love you more than chalk. I love you more than numbers. I love you more than Pi." He stretched out the roses he was holding toward her. "Please marry me."
Amita stood silent for so long that Charlie's arms began to tremble and Robin elbowed her in the back. "Are you crazy?" she hissed. "How can you ignore that?"
Amita seemed to come out of a trance, and a bright smile crept over her face. "I'm not," she defended. "I'm waiting for the ring. As I recall, it was beautiful."
Charlie smiled widely, and dropped the roses, fully exposing himself again as he began to wade toward Amita through the rose petals. "We have to find it," he said. "It's somewhere under all these rose petals."
Amita was having difficulty controlling tears battling for freedom, and her voice wavered as she moved to meet her lover, her best friend, her eventual husband. "Oh, Charlie," she whispered softly. "I don't want a life without you, either!" She realized as she said it how true it was. She was seeking security in the wrong place -- in a solitary life -- when it was already hers for the taking, with Charlie. A single tear crept from one eye, refusing to be held back. "Of course I'll marry you!"
Robin, her back still turned, smiled. "Good luck with that ring thing," she said. "Don asked Alan to stay at his apartment tonight so that he wouldn't have to drive all the way back from the city – so take your time. Although you might want to be careful of thorns." A little afraid of what she might see, she looked quickly over her shoulder. Amita was in Charlie's arms, and they were both crying, blubbering like babies.
Robin smiled again, and moved the few feet to the door, so that she could return to her vehicle. The smell of the roses was almost pungent, and the spring evening was full of life and allergens.
At least that's what Robin told herself, when her own eyes started tearing.
Don stood at one grill, eyeing a plate of rib-eye, waiting for the coals to get hot. Charlie was standing next to him manning a smaller grill, on which skewers of vegetables-and-tofu were simmering for Amita. He brushed them with teriyaki sauce and smiled to himself as the sound of Amita's laughter traveled across the lawn; she and Robin were helping Alan carry enough side dishes for an army out to the picnic table. Don followed his gaze, grinning. "You guys set a date, yet?" he asked.
Charlie sighed. "Not exactly. Probably at the end of next school year, but we're not sure, yet." He cleared his throat, suddenly a little embarrassed. "We're going to find another trauma counselor and attend a few sessions together. We also intend to get into some kind of premarital counseling."
Don was a little surprised that his brother was so willingly embracing something so...unscientific, but he had to admit he thought both things were a good idea. "You know, they offer that kind of thing down at the synagogue," he offered half-seriously. "I could speak to Rabbi Shergill for you."
Charlie glanced at him quickly. "I'll get back to you on that," he hedged.
Don smiled again, watching Robin walk back into the house -- not a bad view. "I can't believe you flashed my girlfriend."
A low, answering growl from Charlie. "I can't believe you didn't tell me she was going to be with Amita!"
Don laughed out loud. "That secret came back to bite me in the ass, didn't it?" Charlie smiled. Don decided he had waited long enough and started piling steaks on the grill. "I guess you know there is no way for me to top that performance," he noted. "I mean, come on, Buddy -- you bought up every last rose in Los Angeles, and then presented yourself in your hair suit?"
Charlie blushed. "I didn't have time to rent a tux," he pouted. He leaned over to peer at the skewers before straightening again and lowering the lid of the grill. He looked at Don. "Seriously, I could design an algorithm, with enough data. First we can research truly unique proposals -- I'm sure there's something on Google -- and then we can cross-match with specific likes and dislikes possessed by Robin..."
Don interrupted him with a sharp elbow to the ribs, rolling his eyes. "I think you could be possessed," he grumbled good-naturedly. "Nothing personal, Charlie, but I think you've helped me enough in this matter already."
Charlie looked a little disappointed, and then a gleam showed in his eye. "Are you saying you're going to ask her?"
Don just smiled benignly, haloed in the smoke of the grill. "Wouldn't you like to know?"
END of our Alternate Universe...
A/N, Hiatus: The last several stories I have posted have generated much negative response, this one in particular. I join many other fanfic writers, in more categories than "Numb3rs", by the way, who are distressed at a relatively new level of "meanness" that has overcome fanfic reviewers. While anyone is well within her rights to dislike (and therefore stop reading) a particular storyline, "this story is awful" is not a constructive review. If there is a problem with grammar, spelling, punctuation, character development (regardless of whether or not the reviewer particularly appreciates AU or OC stories), those things should be addressed during reviews. There used to be a time when fanfic readers determined from a summary whether or not they wanted to read a story, and simply skipped something that did not appeal to them. (I, for instance, seldom partake in something marked as "slash". This does not mean I read the story anyway, knowing I will hate it, and then pummel the author with legitimate reviews, PMs and e-mails declaring how awful her story is, over and over and over and over and over....) Long story short (or is it too late for that?), FraidyCat will be on haitus for the foreseeable future. This is not a protest of negative reviews so much as it is a protest against pointlessly mean ones. Congratulations to those of you who know who you are; you have successfully declawed The Cat.
As for the rest of you, the overwhelming majority of you, I thank you for three years of loyalty and support. You gave me the strength to hold out as long as I did -- and it is to you that I will eventually return.