Title: Ladies Don't Cry
Characters/Pairings: Preteen!Diana, Charlie
Content Notice: some violence, but not very descriptive
Word Count: ~1800
Summary: Charlie is always close to Diana, and saves her life time and again.
Beta: Fabulous mam711
A/N: This is my entry to the Kidfic Challenge going on at whitecollarhc.
The knock on the door was a surprise.
Diana was busy with her crayons on the wall, creating a masterpiece for another hotel room visitor to find. Well, find if they knew about the hidden pictures under the paintings. Charlie, her bodyguard and best friend, stepped out for a second—she wasn't sure what for but it was Charlie and he had his ways.
The knock repeated; this time it was one hard one followed by a pause, then a light one and a quick hard one, pause, then a last light one.
She grinned; Charlie was playing with Morse code again. He'd made her learn a few letters already, but one was very important—the one he was now knocking on the door.
The knock repeated and Diana quickly ran to the door; opening it slightly she only saw Charlie's back, his head turned left, observing something.
"Charlie?" she whispered, unsure what was happening; there was tension in the air she didn't like.
"Di, put your sneakers on and grab the backpack. Come on, you have one minute..." He shot her a quick look; he hadn't whispered, but his voice was soft and quiet, and his face very serious. In her short life of twelve years she'd only seen Charlie's very serious face three times, and each of those times was when something bad was happening.
It was not a game. Diana's heart quickened and fear squeezed her belly. Leaving the door ajar, she padded quickly towards her bedroom; at least she'd taken a minute after they'd gotten back to change her dress for a t-shirt and sweats. Grabbing an emergency backpack that Charlie'd made her, she scanned the room for her shoes. A white toe peeked out from under the bed; she grabbed it and was lying down to find the other one when the entrance door opened with force and banged on the wall. Charlie hurried inside without bothering to close it again.
"Di! Hide!" he called, closing the door to her bedroom, closing her off from whatever was happening in the common room that they used as living room when her parents were in. But they were still at the diplomatic whatever, so she'd run away, with help from Charlie. She was bored and tired and thank God her parents had noticed that and let her go back to their rooms. She had at least another hour before her bedtime and she'd planned to color with Charlie. Now she crawled under the bed, hugging the second sneaker she found, and the backpack, trying to be invisible in the darkness.
The light in the room was still on, and she could see the door and the crack underneath it. Shadows moved; her breath quickened, and then there were popping sounds. She whimpered in fear.
"Charlie?" Her voice was soft, almost too soft even for her to hear.
The shadows moved again and her door opened slightly, a black shoe entered, followed by another one.
"Di? Where are you? Come on; we need to get going." Charlie's voice was worried, but loud and clear.
She crawled out, and hugged his legs; his big hand dropped on her head and stroked her hair. "Come on, Di, we need to get going. Put your shoes on. It's gonna be all right."
"What's going on, Charlie?" she asked, pulling sneakers on her feet quickly. It was not time to panic—be afraid, yes, but not panicking—Charlie was here.
"I don't know, little lady. Come now, and don't look till I tell you. Okay?" He pulled her close to his side, putting one hand to the side of her face to prevent her from seeing what was going on. They walked quickly towards the corridor, everything silent, as the whole floor was set aside only for her family. Security reasons, as Charlie explained.
As soon as they left the room Charlie pulled her towards the elevators.
"Call it and when it comes, push all buttons inside, then step back," he ordered and moved slowly towards one of the emergency exits. She nodded, pushing both buttons, for up and down; Charlie was back just as the first elevator dinged. He pulled her to one side to be out of the line of sight of whoever might be in the cab, but it was luckily empty; she pushed all the buttons and stepped back.
"Charlie? Why are we not taking the elevator?" she asked when the second one arrived and she repeated the process. Now she was pushed forward, with Charlie behind her, in the direction of the second stairwell.
"Just to be safe. It's more difficult to find someone when you have to check each floor, and with elevators out of order they will have to use stairs. And we will use that to our advantage," he answered quickly. He never treated her as a dumb kid, always answering fully all of her questions, no matter how complicated the answer, and he did it in a way she could understand.
The door on the other side of the corridor opened and closed. Then a gunshot rang, the bullet hitting the wall just inches from Diana's hand. She screamed.
"Run! Don't look back," her bodyguard called, pushing her forward again. She heard another shot, then another, followed by the popping sound from before. She got to the stairwell door and pushed it open, her hands shaking. Something hit her arm, but she ignored it as she was pushed forward again by Charlie's hand.
"Go down." She could hear him closing the door and rummaging around them, but a moment later he was right behind her. They'd run down three flights when the door behind them opened and another shot rang loudly in the stairway. Diana shrieked when pieces of the wall fell on her head.
"Here!" She was pushed towards the door to the corridor of another floor. "Now run! Left then right. At the end is the fire escape; you have to get there. Don't look back!" Charlie's directions were provided in a quiet and stern voice, one you never disobeyed. Diana didn't even think about it; fear was clutching at her stomach, adrenaline was pumping in her veins, making it possible for her to run faster and longer than she'd ever been able to. When she got to the window with fire escape visible, she stopped, hoping that Charlie was right behind her, but there was no one there. The corridors were empty and silent. She stood undecided for a second, till a tear fell down from her cheek. Cleaning it with her sleeve she pushed the window open, unknowingly activating the fire alarm.
The sound hurt her ears, but Charlie had told her to run. So she did, before curious hotel residents started to open their doors and ask all around where the fire was. She was climbing down the ladder when someone grabbed her from behind, pulling first on the backpack and then clasping her in an iron grip.
"Who do we have here? Isn't that our little running bunny?" That mean voice didn't belong to Charlie.
"Let me go!" She struggled against him. She could hear sirens in the background, the police or fire department was coming. Help was coming.
"Charlie, where are you?" she thought with panic setting in; she struggled more and more, trying to pry the arms keeping her away.
"Let me go!" she tried again. The only answer was a snark and she was dragged away kicking and screaming. She couldn't see the man that was holding her, but another one they met halfway to the street had a medium build, with unkempt strawberry blond hair and an evil glint in his green eyes.
He slapped her. "Shut the hell up!"
It just made her cry and kick harder. When that didn't help she tried again to struggle from the man's hold, one of his hands coming dangerously close to her mouth.
"If you don't shut up I'll make you!" the one holding her threatened, and when she didn't stop crying he put his hand on her mouth. In the same moment she saw Charlie out of the corner of her eye. She wanted to cry out to him, but the man's fingers were in the way, so she bit them.
"Aww! Little bitch!" he cried out, drawing the attention of his companion back towards them instead of to the end of the alley where Charlie was hiding.
"She bit me!"
Diana chose that moment to use various lessons that her big friend had given her over the years. Now she could appreciate all of the hours they'd spent in the gym. She screamed loudly, aimed her heel into her captor's knee, and as soon as she felt it collide, she pulled her whole body forward.
In a second she was free. Only a few feet in front of her Charlie sprang out from his hidden spot with a gun in hand, shooting the second man very precisely in the arm, away from her. As he'd taught her, she dodged in the opposite direction and curled by the wall, hiding her head in her arms. There were two more popping sounds and then only the cries of the men that had caught her.
"Di!" She felt again a hand on her arm, but this time she knew exactly who it was. When she looked up, her bodyguard and best friend stood by her side, one hand on her back, the other still clutching the gun that had saved their lives. The sirens were suddenly very close by, but he didn't allow her to move.
In the sudden light of the police cars she could see red stains on his jacket, marring the material on his left arm, the one he held steady on her arm, and then on his back when he stood, still shielding her from the rest of the world.
"Charlie?" she whispered. The world was suddenly too loud, her arm hurt and her head started to spin. "Charlie..." she managed to whisper again before the darkness fell.
When she regained consciousness she was somewhere else. The room was dark, with only a small lamp on the bedside table, and it wasn't anywhere she recognized. Blinking, she tried to lift her left hand only to let it fall again with a cry of pain. When her vision cleared and she concentrated on everything around her, she could identify the sounds of a hospital, probably very private and very secure at the moment. The events of the day caught up with her and tears slid from her eyes, one by one without stopping.
"Di?" a whisper startled her; she quickly cleaned her face, this time with her right sleeve. Charlie sat by her side, hugging her close. "It's okay to cry; you were very brave." He kissed her crown.
She sniffed. "Mom says that ladies don't cry." She sniffed again, trying hard not to cry again.
"Ladies maybe don't cry often. But when they have an evening like yours I'm sure they do, a little." His voice was soothing and soft. She moved her head to lay it down on his shoulder and allowed her tears to fall free.
"Okay," she whispered before falling asleep, safe.