*"The only thing I'm really afraid of is being afraid again." - Charlie Eppes: Season 2, Episode 21: Rampage*
*The Early Hours of the Next Morning,
FBI Interview Room 1*
Sat alone in the dark of the cold observation room, on the hard metal desk with his legs swinging freely, Charles Edward Eppes watched as his brother lead Ian, who was still wearing Brian's bloody bulletproof vest, into the empty interrogation room before lowering the blinds.
"Here," Don told Ian, who had all but collapsed into the uncomfortable plastic chair with relief, as he handed over a change of clothes. "They're Logan's…I figured he was about your size…" Don added as he made to move over to the door that connected to the small observation booth before Ian reached out and grabbed his crutch to stop him, his grip surprisingly firm.
Leaning forward, Charlie tried to strain his ears to overhear Ian's whispered words, his first since Don and Elliott had finally talked him into going with a paramedic to the hospital to be checked over. Whatever it was, Don nodded 'ok' before leaving the interrogation room for the observation booth and was startled to see his brother already there waiting. "Charlie." Don stated grimly as Charlie slipped off of the desk to stand opposite his hesitant brother, a mere few inches separating the two as he was reminded of their last awkward exchange only earlier that day.
Funny, Charlie couldn't help but think as he took in his brother's haggard appearance, finger raked hair and stress lined face, the whole time I wished for one last conversation with my brother and now I'm tongue tied…
"Charlie." Don said again, this time more firmly than before as he dropped his left crutch to pull his younger brother in for a bear hug and suddenly, all at once every emotion Charlie had felt over the last twenty four hours poured out of him as he desperately tried to hide his face from Don, who was rubbing Charlie's heaving shoulders with a gentle kindness that only had Charlie crying harder. "Shh," Don whispered comfortingly as he held his brother tightly against him. "It's ok. You're ok…we're ok."
Pulling back slightly to rub furiously at his sore red eyes, Charlie just about managed to hiccup, "Are you sure?" Through his strangled sobs.
"You're my brother Chuck," Don looked fondly at his curly haired, little maths geek of a younger sibling and smiled warmly. "I love you." This last was stated a little roughly and through a partially choked up throat as emotions ran high for both brothers who were also hugging again.
"I love you too Donald," Charlie replied affectionately as he pulled back altogether and turned away from his brother to look at Ian through the special glass that let him look in unobserved to see Ian looking back at him. It was a little freaky that their eyes should meet but then there had always been something special between the pair. "Is he going to be alright?" Charlie asked Don, who had also turned to look at Ian, who had replaced the bloodied vest and tight pants with Logan's loose fitted knitted sweater, spare jeans and loafers, which all looked great, if not a little out of place on Ian who was still covered in his and Brian's blood.
"You've got to remember where Ian is concerned…our worst day is his best. He's been to war. He's a soldier. This was bad but on a scale of one to ten for him? He's been through worse," Don sighed, knowing that what he said was true but that at the same time he was lying. Ian wouldn't brush this one off…true he'd been through worse, he'd been to the brink of hell and spat in its unholy fires before and still survived but this one was different somehow. Debbie and Thomas had gotten inside his head and there was no telling what damage they'd done. All Don knew was that the man sat in his interrogation room right now wasn't the same cocky, confident and charming Edgerton they were all used to. "Ian's a survivor," Don said out loud, more for his own benefit than Charlie's. "Ian will survive this." He just has too.
"I know," Charlie whispered uncertainly, biting his lip as he held out his hand and pressed it against the thin, cold glass. "I just hate to see him this way. My heart aches for him…I just feel so useless!"
"I know," Don replied roughly as he put his left hand on Charlie's right shoulder and squeezed as reassuringly as he could manage before adding what he knew his brother wouldn't want to hear. "Which is what makes this ten times harder to say…" Don whispered miserably as he used the same 'comforting' hand to turn his brother around so that they were facing one another again. "Ian doesn't want you in here while I debrief him."
"No Charlie," Don shook his head sadly. "No buts."
"I don't understand…why?" Charlie looked up into his brother's conflicted gaze with his own tormented one. "Why?"
"Maybe he's worried you'll look at him differently…maybe he's protecting you…maybe it's just better not knowing…all I do know, is that he doesn't want you in here…so you're going to have to leave." Don replied unhappily as Charlie stormed out of the small booth making the one way mirror rattle slightly as he slammed the door shut behind him. "I'm sorry Chuck…" Don sighed, not knowing how to help his brother and still do his job at the same time.
"Charlie?" Ian asked guardedly as Don made his way back into the interrogation room and sat down in the small, uncomfortable plastic chair across from him.
"Gone," Don nodded as he did his best not to stare at the long angry looking scar that ran the length of Ian's left cheek.
"Good," Ian breathed out a sigh of relief as he slid his sweaty, piss stained clothes across the table at Don. "Here," He added as Don pulled two latex gloves from his suit jacket pocket and proceeded to put the vest and trousers into a large brown paper evidence bag.
"You know I'm going to need to take photos of-"
"-I know…" Ian cut in as Don picked up the camera that had been waiting on the table with Logan's clothes for when they arrived.
"I'm sorry…" Don told his old friend unhappily as he watched Ian flinch at the bright, aggressive flare of the camera's flash as he took a photo of the long gash down Ian's cheek.
"Isn't this some CSI's job?" Ian mumbled numbly as he lifted the knitted sweater so Don could take pictures of his bruised shoulder, the Taser marks and the abrasions on his wrists before stretching both legs out on the table's top so that Don could snap a photo of the small handcuff cuts on his ankles.
"Yes…" Don looked away embarrassed as he placed the camera next to the evidence bag and sat back down opposite Ian, who had put his legs back under the table. "But I figured a friendly face might help…"
"I know it'll be tough…but I need you to talk me through it," Don replied gently as he picked up a writing pad and pen and handed them over to Ian. "Then you need to write it all down."
"I know," Ian replied expressionlessly as he stared off into the dark shadows in the coroners of the dimly lit room. "I noticed that the bruise on Lily Blake's face was similar to the ring Debbie Harris was wearing the day we interviewed her. I went and saw Claudia to confirm it as the ring before driving to Debbie's house to confront her. When I arrived I was all ready to wait in the car for Colby and Liz who were on their way…but I heard a large crash coming from the house, so I got out of the car to investigate."
"Did you call in what you were doing?"
"No time," Ian looked at Don firmly before letting his gaze slip away once more. "I found the gate open so I went into the garden to investigate. I found Thomas picking apples…I held him at gun point and told him he was under arrest. That's when Debbie Tasered me."
"What happened after that?"
"I woke up in that…room…"
"You don't remember getting there?"
"I don't know what to say…I was chained to the radiator…we talked and I realised that Debbie was the La Child Snatcher not Thomas. That it was her who killed Abigail…Thomas was just her puppet. A simple minded fool…"
"How did you escape?"
"I told her she couldn't hurt me," Ian laughed bitterly as he remembered the way she had smiled smugly as she laid the photo down next to his head. "Your move," She had whispered in his ear before leaving him alone with his despair. "She proved me wrong." Ian whispered as he sat back in the chair and laid his hands in his lap.
"By showing me Charlie's photo. She sent Thomas to kill him…thinking that I was beaten. That she had won!"
"How did you escape Ian?" Don asked again, ignoring the way Ian's face twisted with hate at the mere thought of Debbie's smug grin as he considered what he would have done in the same situation. All alone, defeated…knowing that the person you love is being murdered and you couldn't stop it? It didn't bare thinking about!
"There were nails where the carpet met the wall. It was an old house and the child's room used to have a wooden floor. I was so out of it I thought I was imagining it but the carpet had definitely been installed before tackless strips were used to hold down carpets. I couldn't get the nail all the way out with my hands so I had to resort to using my teeth to pull it all the way out. It involved a lot of twisting and bending…to get the angle and even then I still couldn't at first. That's when I dislocated my shoulder to reach the nail. After that it was a simple as picking the lock…"
"You dislocated your shoulder?" Don asked dumbly with disbelief as Ian shrugged like it was nothing. He could have been talking about the weather, he was that calm!
"It's no big deal," Ian sniffed as he looked away ashamed, his right hand absently rubbing at the bruised shoulder. "I popped it right back in as soon as I got the hand cuffs off."
"Don…I'm ok. Really…I am."
"Ok…what did you do next?" Don asked as he frowned his concern for Ian, who really did seem ok…physically at least. God only knew what was really going on behind Ian's vacant expression and cold indifference.
"I hid…called her into the room and then used the chair to knock her out before locking her up in my place." Ian replied as he remembered the way he had stooped down next to her angry and thrashing body to whisper roughly in her ear. 'Your move' he had taunted as he picked up the picture of Charlie off of the ground and headed for the exit. 'Wait!' She had called out desperately, eyes wide and small voice childlike. 'Please' she had begged and Ian remembered the brief flicker of enjoyment he had gotten seeing her so powerless, so degraded. 'Don't leave me alone,' she had whispered. 'Please! Don't leave me alone.' Ripping the picture in half, Ian threw the image of himself to the ground next to her head. 'Better?' he'd taunted as he reached down, picked up the dirty saliva soaked rag and shoved it into her screaming mouth and as one last act of kindness, placed the fleecy blanket over her so that she wouldn't get cold. 'Don't worry,' he'd whispered comfortingly as he pulled the blanket right up and over her head. 'I'll have some of my friends come get you real soon…so long as Charlie's ok that is. For your sake you had better wish that he is!'
"What did you do next?" Don asked quietly, breaking Ian's reverie after the silence had dragged on uncomfortably and it seemed like Ian wasn't going to carry on. "How did you get to Cal Sci? How did you know to go there…?"
"I 'borrowed' a car from one of Debbie's neighbours…I saw the day and date on the car's display. I was going to go to his lecture before everything…happened. I took the risk that you would have made him go and it paid off."
"Look…I know that I should have waited for back up but as I got to Charlie's office I heard him saying goodbye. Thomas was literally seconds away from shooting Charlie and I knew I couldn't wait. Brian didn't get in place quick enough and Thomas saw him when I tried to get him to leave with me…"
"Ian. Brian wasn't your fault."
"You'll forgive me if I don't believe that. He gave me his vest. He saved Charlie for me because only minutes before I told him that I couldn't bear to see Charlie dead. He was going to apply to be an agent…so don't tell me that I'm blameless…because I know that it's all my fault."
"Brian died protecting a civilian because that was his job and he was damned good at his job." Don tried to reason with Ian but could see that Ian was still too raw to believe it.
"Has Debbie been informed that Thomas is dead yet?" Ian asked suddenly, his eyes snapping to Don's with a burning intensity of mixed emotions, most of them hatred. Don had told him on the way to the small interrogation room that Debbie was in holding…that they had finally figured out where he was only to be surprised when he wasn't there…
"No." Don shook his head and tapped his fingers uncomfortably on the metal table between them. Ian wasn't ready to know about Debbie…
"Tell me." Ian sighed tiredly as he watched his friend tear himself apart deciding whether he should do just that.
"Ok." Don nodded finally, deciding that it was Ian's choice after all. He just hoped Ian was in the right frame of mind to make his decision. He didn't want Ian doing anything he might regret later. "She'll only speak to you. Say's she give a full confession to all murders but only to you."
"Can't say I'm completely surprised…ok…I'll talk to her," Ian replied after an awkward moment of tense silence as Ian decided whether to go head to head with Debbie one final time.
"You don't have to," Don offered as one last out.
"Yes…I do," Ian replied sadly.
"Alright then," Don shook his head amazed at the strength Ian found, even now when most people would be falling apart. Maybe Ian was and he was just that good at hiding it? "You write what you just told me down and I'll have Debbie brought up from holding."
"Don…" Ian said nervously as Don made his way over to the interrogation room's main exit. "I've been thinking…about your offer…"
"I can't accept."
"But Charlie…you told him you'd stay!" Don replied horrified as he turned around and gave Ian his full attention. After everything…he really hadn't expected Ian to turn him down.
"And I am. I just can't be team leader…I'm not fit to lead anyone…"
"Please Ian, believe me when I say that this is a mistake. You can't see it now but you're a great team leader. Everyone here would follow you to the gates of hell and back!"
"And that's exactly the problem Don. They shouldn't have to. No…I'm sorry Don. After this case is officially closed…I'm handing in my resignation as I'd always planned to do," Ian sighed sadly as he picked up the pen and began to write, the conversation apparently closed. Nodding dumbly to himself, Don left Ian to it and made his own way to his office, avoiding all eye contact and attempt at conversation.
"How's Ian?" Nick asked worriedly from where he stood in the corner of Don's office, looking out of the floor to ceiling window at the multi-coloured see of umbrellas beneath them as the rain continued to batter at the window's thick glass.
"He's…surprisingly ok." Don replied as he made his way over to his desk, resting his crutches against the wall behind him.
"You think it's a front?" Nick sighed tiredly as he turned to look at Don's stress lined face properly.
"Yes…no…who really knows with Edgerton? He's seen so much…pain in his life. This is pretty small compared."
"I know…" Nick replied as he made his way to the comfortable armchair in front of Don's desk and sat down. "I've read the file. Fifteen years in foster care…he's had every bone in his left hand broken, sexually abused, whipped, beaten, broken nose, fractured arm, out casted and stabbed and all before he was sixteen. In the army he's been shot three times, publically flogged…you're right that this seems pitiful in contention with his past."
"He had something to lose this time though….it changes everything."
"Charlie…" Nick nodded solemnly. "And how do you feel about that?"
"I'm just relieved Charlie is alive…I don't care who he dates…besides Ian is a good man."
"You're right. Ian is loyal, dedicated, hardworking and brilliant at his job…"
"I'm surprised to hear that coming from you," Don replied honestly. He knew that Nick and Ian had some sort of mutual dislike for one another…was Nick finally changing his mind?
"Well..." Nick smiled fractionally. "Maybe I was quick to judge agent Edgerton."
"Well you're too late," Don replied a little more forcefully than he had intended.
"What do you mean?"
"He's resigning. Not only did he turn down my offer of team leader…he's also quitting the FBI."
"Perhaps he'll change his mind?" Nick replied a little cryptically.
"What do you have in mind?" Don asked as someone knocked loudly on his office door. "Come in!"
"Don?" Will asked uncertainly as Nick stood up to leave. "Do you have a sec? I need to talk you about something…"
"-Yes agent Chase, he does. I'll fill you in later," Nick winked as he slipped out and Will took his place sat opposite from Don.
"What can I do for you?" Don asked curiously as the young agent looked down at his lap uncertainly where he was wringing his hands together.
"I'm here to request a transfer…"
"You want to be put into another team?" Don asked confused as the young agent continued to avoid his gaze.
"No. I want a transfer out of LA."
"I don't understand…" Don shook his head baffled. "Why?"
"Brian was my best friend. I know we didn't know each other long…but I can't be here anymore. It's too hard."
"Surely it will help to be around friends?"
"I'm sorry sir but I've made up my mind. As soon as you can get me transferred…I'm leaving."
"Then I respect your decision. Did you have anywhere in mind?"
"No…I hadn't thought about that…I guess anywhere that needs me…"
"I think I know of a place," Don smiled remembering a conversation he had had only a couple of days ago, wow was it really only a couple of days ago? "Special agent David Sinclair needs someone for his anti-corruption team in Washington DC. Does that sound like something you might be interested in?"
"Yes sir!" Will smiled for the first time since entering Don's large office.
"Ok then…I'll give Dave a call as soon as I've called to have Debbie brought up from holding.
"You're taking another crack at her?" Will asked confused.
"No. Ian is."
"Right…thank you agent Eppes. It was a pleasure working with you and your team."
"Thank you Will. You were invaluable in this case…you and Brian."
"Thank you sir." Will nodded, a small ghost of a smile flittering on his rounded face before the pain of the last twenty four hours caved back in.
"You're welcome," Don told his empty office as soon as the door clicked shut behind Will and slumped back down in his swivel chair before swiping the stack of files off his desk angrily. Instantly regretting his moment of weakness, Don rested his elbows on his desk and put his head in his hands as he screamed out his frustration. That was the second agent he had lost in ten minutes. What next? He asked himself derisively. What next?
"Don?" Robin asked quietly from where she stood in the middle of his office. He hadn't even heard her come in and for a moment he wondered if his despair had made her suddenly appear. Was she really there? "Don?" She asked again as she made her way through the littered files on the ground, careful not to stand on any, to get to Don.
"Rob?" He practically sobbed her name, causing her to pick her way through the files quicker until she was there beside him, kissing him, hugging him, loving him.
"It's ok Don."
"No it's not…Brian's dead…Will asked for a transfer…Ian's quitting…"
"I'm sorry to hear that Don. Maybe they can be talked around?"
"No…I don't blame Will really. I'd need to leave if it was me…but Ian…I really thought…Charlie said he was accepting the job…and now…"
"He's just trying to protect himself. He'll realise that he needs this and come back," Robin replied with more confidence than she really felt.
"What if he doesn't?" Don asked miserably as he pulled Robin into his lap and cradled her to him.
"Then you'll find someone else. Don…"
"I know," He sighed into her long brown hair as he held her tighter. "I just don't like change…I hate to admit that Debbie may have won."
"Charlie is still here and so is Ian. She didn't win. Brian saw to that."
"I love you," Don replied as he pulled back to look into his fiancée's tear filled eyes.
"I love you too," She whispered back as she stroked his stubbled cheek lovingly.
"I'm sorry…I have a couple of phone calls to make…I don't know when I'll get home today."
"Then I'll go home and get you some fresh clothes and a hot breakfast and bring them back for you," She smiled as she stood up and headed back through the maze of files to the door.
"You're the best," He smiled again, feeling more centred and ready to face people again. How did Robin do that? Make everything seem less…dire?
"I know," She smiled beautifully making his…'heart'…ache from his need to be with her. "You can make it up to me later," She winked as if she had read his mind, making Don flush with embarrassment before blowing him a kiss as she left.
In the Small Observational Booth between interrogation suits*
Walking past the door to the interrogation room's small observational booth, Nick was surprised to see the door ajar with a creepy glow stretching out between the cracks. Upon closer inspection, Nick realised that the room wasn't empty and that the creepy glow was emanating from the room's video monitors. Pushing the door open slightly wider, Nick watched as Ian sat, elbows on knees and chin in hands, to watch the video of Thomas Danby and himself in the, now unoccupied, interrogation room all those weeks ago.
"My statement's in there," Ian said quietly, without even turning to look, as Nick continued to hover uncertainly in the doorway.
"I'm not here for that…"
"What are you here for then?" Ian asked suspiciously as he tore his gaze away from the screen for a second to shoot Nick a quick look.
"To check in…see how you're doing…did you get to see your dad yet?"
"Yes. Don let me say goodbye before he debriefed me."
"He's gone already?"
"He needed to get back to his ship…he didn't get proper authorisation to leave so he was technically AWAL for the last twenty four hours…"
"Was that everything?" Ian asked impatiently as he fast forwarded the tape slightly.
"Almost…what are you doing?"
"I'm watching to see if I can see it…"
"See what?" Nick asked confused as he came into the room properly and sat down on the hard metal desk next to the monitors so that he was facing Ian.
"I don't know…for the moment a serial killer and her accomplice decided I was somehow part of the family?"
"Is that the only reason?" Nick asked curiously as Ian turned his face away ashamed.
"No…" Ian sighed sadly his face a mask of mixed emotions, each battling to be felt as Ian tried to shut them all down.
"I'm looking for the moment I put Charlie in danger, ok?"
"Yes it is ok…but…you won't find the answers you're looking for on that tape," Nick replied sadly as Ian shot him a confused look.
"Ian, there is no 'ah ha' moment with these things. There were no signs on that tape that Reynolds/ Danby was ever anything more than a gardener. It doesn't matter how many times you watch it…he will always be that simple minded fool that you talked about wildlife with. You didn't think him capable of murder then and you were right he wasn't…until the end."
"No…I was wrong," Ian admitted reluctantly. "Will mentioned that Reynolds took more interest in me than the interview. Not long after I started getting stalker like crank calls. I didn't tell anyone and that's why Charlie ended up in danger."
"Is that why you're turning the job down?" Nick asked confused as he steered the conversation too the real reason he was here.
"So that's it," Ian laughed but there was no humour in it. "You've been talking to Don. Did he put you up to this little chat?"
"No. I'm here because I want to know why."
"I thought you'd be happy by my decision at least!" Ian replied confused, avoiding the question as he paused the tape and turned his full attention upon the AD.
"Well you thought wrong…I'm not."
"Why? I screwed up. I didn't report the crank calls, I went into the garden alone, I got jumped from behind, I was held prisoner…then when I escaped…I ran straight to Cal Sci. I didn't call it in or wait for back up and ended up getting Brian killed. I am the last person you want as a team member let alone team leader!"
"You were also the one who broke the case, revealed the true Identity of the LA Child Snatcher, found her storage locker, and you're the one who single handily took her down. You saved Charlie's life and yes I am sorry you couldn't save Brian's as well but the fact that you acknowledge all your mistakes on this case tells me that you'll do better on the next one." Finished, Nick hopped off the desk so that he was standing before Ian, who was refusing to meet his eyes. "You went through hell…"
"I know…trust me I know…"
"But you're here now. Charlie is just down the hall…don't let this case end like…this." Nick sighed as he moved past Ian to the door that was still stood slightly ajar. "You're good at your job Ian and the job needs you."
"The last few days would beg to differ…"
"No Ian…you are. The Job needs you and if you let yourself admit it then you'd realise that you need the job. You know Fredrick Nietzsche once said: 'to live is to suffer…to survive is to find meaning in the suffering…' That's what you need to do. Find meaning in the suffering Ian, because you withstood a heck of a lot of pain to get here."
"Well you know…Nietzsche also said: 'He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.'" Ian smiled faintly as he reached out and switched the monitor in front of him off as he watched with sadness as the image of him and Danby faded to black.
"Well…as I said. Your why is only down the corridor when you're ready," Nick smiled warmly, perhaps the friendliest smile he had ever given Ian…it seemed that something's had changed for the better at least. Though Ian still didn't feel he deserved Nick's revised opinion of him.
"Nick?" Ian shouted out, stopping him before he could properly leave. "I'll think about staying…" He added without looking as Nick nodded once before slipping out of the room. Leaving Ian alone and even more confused than he was before.
"Ian?" Logan asked as he opened the door to the interrogation room only to find to find it empty.
"In here," Ian called out, making Logan jump as he turned to look at the one way glass with confusion.
"I was just finishing something up," Ian explained as Logan met him at the door. "What's up?"
"Debbie's on her way up. She'll be in interview room two when you're ready.
"Then I had better get ready…" Ian replied as Logan shot him an 'are you ok?' look.
"Ok…then…" Logan nodded dumbly as he tried his hardest not to look at Ian's cut. Funny, Ian felt so numb that the only time he even remembered it was there was when people started staring at him funny…no not funny, with pity. There was a difference.
"Thanks for the clothes by the way…they're a nice fit…" Ian replied awkwardly as Logan continued to dither.
"It's no problem, anything to help!"
"Right…ok then…bye agent Pierce…" Ian replied a little stiltedly under the weight of agent Pierce's overly bright smile and higher pitched tone as he gave a little nod before leaving Logan standing dumbly in the middle of the corridor to get to interview room two. He wanted to be there before Debbie arrived. This time it would be on his terms, but the thought gave him little strength to face the conversation ahead.
*Interview Room Two*
Patience, something Ian used to have a lot of, not now. Not anymore. Because truth was…he honestly didn't know why he was here waiting for the woman who had kidnapped him, attempted to torture him and then tried to have Charlie killed. Ian owed this woman nothing…and yet here he was…waiting…and for what? Because he wanted to be the one to deliver the news about Thomas…because he felt like he owed it to Thomas at least?
Crossing his arms, Ian leaned back and waited. So stupid, Ian thought scathingly as he prepared himself for what was to come. Would she be happy or angry to see him? Would she be the bitch or the scared little girl? Did he really care? He just wanted to get it over with already so he could find Charlie…Charlie, God what must he be thinking right now? Would he be mad about being thrown out earlier?
"I knew you'd come!" Debbie's little girlish giggle of excitement tore Ian's mind away from Charlie and back to the present. To the tiny, poorly lit room and instantly he was back there…chained, alone…in the dark. A cell phone the only light…not enough to elevate the darkness but enough to push the shadows back as the ponies on the wall reared and cantered toward the door as if desperately trying to escape the horror of that little room…and her voice…taunting him, teasing him…stroking him.
"Debbie," Ian replied stonily as he unfolded hi arms to rest them on the cool and refreshing coldness of the metal table between them. "I was told that you wanted to see me."
"And you came," She smiled fondly as she sat down opposite him and held her hands out to her escort to be chained to the desk.
"Not because you asked," He flicked the corners of his mouth up in a brief but cruel smile that was intended to hurt.
"I don't understand…why then?" She asked quietly, that spark of happiness upon seeing him extinguished. Good.
"Because for some reason I feel like I owe it to your son."
"I regret to inform you Ms Harris but your son died earlier tonight."
"No…No!" she shouted angrily, her face contorted with pain as she tried to back away from Ian, but the handcuffs stopped her, reopening some of the cuts she had gained from her few hours of being chained to a radiator. A few hours…it wasn't enough for what she deserved. He would have left her there for days, starving…alone…dying, and secretly Ian was relieved that they found her…he didn't like that part of himself…that darkness, that hatred…that pain that for so long had defined him. He had turned his back on that life when he'd joined the FBI…he wouldn't go back because some bitch chained him up for a week, tortured him and threatened his partner…It didn't even bear thinking about what he might have done if he'd gotten to the school and found Charlie dead…
"I'm very sorry for your loss," Ian lied as he nodded at the escort to take her away again.
"No…WAIT! That's it?"
"What more is there to say?" Ian shrugged as he stood.
"I thought you came for my confession?"
"Want it. I don't." Ian turned his back on her and headed for the door.
"Because it doesn't matter to me, confess…don't confess I already know what you've done…you're punishment isn't for me to decide…so why should I give a shit whether you confess?"
"Because…because we're family!"
"No…we're not." And with that said, Ian left the room. She'd confess to spite him, but like he'd said…he honestly didn't care. She was out of his life. What he needed was to find Charlie and start putting this horrible nightmare behind them.
"This is nice," Don sighed happily as he closed his eyes and breathed in Robin's scent. They were cuddled up on the couch and it was the first rest he'd gotten in over twenty four hours. "Why don't we do this more often again?"
"Because you have violent criminals to take down and for me to put away, we're a proper power couple!" Robin laughed as she leaned back and fed Don another piece of almond croissant, enjoying the way his tongue teased her fingers before she could pull them away.
"Does it ever worry you?" Don opened his eyes and looked at her intently.
"I think we have it worked out pretty well," She grinned as she leaned in and kissed him playfully on the nose.
"Sure…now…what about when a kid comes along?"
"Then I become a judge…we work around it," She smiled unfazed as he took her hand in his and linked their fingers together.
"But you don't want to be a judge…" He frowned concerned, even if she wasn't.
"It's not my first choice…but it wouldn't be too bad. It was always the plan…retire and become a judge."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes," She smiled as she kissed him again, more passionately this time. "Besides we have time before all that. You have to make an honest woman of me first Mr Eppes!"
"That shouldn't be a problem," Don teased as she lifted her legs up on to the couch and cuddled closer.
"Don?" Agent Pierce called through the door as he knocked twice.
"She's ready to confess!" Logan smiled brightly as he opened the door and popped his head through the small crack.
"Already?" Don frowned suspiciously. "That didn't take long…I thought Ian was going to talk to her?"
"He did," Logan smiled as he nodded in acknowledgement of Robin, who was sitting up straight and pulling her red pumps back on. "Whatever he said did the trick. She was asking to cut a deal the second he left!"
"…Good, I suppose…" Don nodded as he watched Robin get up and walk towards Logan and the door.
"Means no rest for the DA though," Robin winked as Logan held the door open for her.
"Give her hell darling!"
"I will and then later, you can finish making it up to me." She laughed as she turned back to give her fiancée one last cheeky grin before slipping out of the room.
"Well then…I suppose that's us done. What do you say to going and grabbing a celebratory beer?" Don grinned at agent Pierce who was looking at him like he'd just grown horns and a tail.
"Yes," Logan smiled back, a little shocked to realise that really did want to. "Your first round though…"
*Later that night,
At Ian's Dad's House*
Sighing contentedly in his sleep, Charlie smiled as his hand stretched out across the small sofa bed in search of the warm solid wall of Ian's back, only to find the other side of the bed cold and empty. Jerking his eyes open in confusion, Charlie sat up and rubbed at his tired eyes as he reached out and turned the lamp next to the sofa on.
"Shit!" Charlie shouted out in shock as his eyes adjusted to the light and Charlie spotted the dark figure sitting in the armchair across the coffee table from him. "Ian?" He asked worriedly when Charlie realised that Ian was awake…and holding a gun. "What's going on?"
"I couldn't sleep," Ian replied quietly, his gaze in his lap-intent on the gun.
"Ian…you're worrying me…" Charlie whispered as he pushed himself up into a sitting position with shaking hands.
"Sorry…" Ian mumbled apologetically, still unable to meet Charlie's eyes.
"Don't be!" Charlie rushed to reassure Ian who somehow looked smaller in the shadowy light. "Just come back to bed…it will all be better in the morning…I promise."
"Charlie…" Ian's voice cracked as his tortured eyes finally locked on Charlie's worried ones. "I want you to have this gun."
"You know I don't believe in them," Charlie frowned concerned as Ian got up and moved over to the sofa bed and sat down next to Charlie.
"Charlie, I need you to take the gun…" Ian replied as he held it out for Charlie to take. "This one is for your house and I'll get you another for your office."
"Please Charlie…I need you to do this for me," Slumping where he sat, Charlie looked at Ian as if he had grown a second head.
"I need to know you're safe. If I take the job as head of Don's old team then I need you to be protected…please."
"Will you try to sleep if I do?"
"Yes," Ian replied relieved as Charlie nodded and took the gun off of him.
"Ok then…" Charlie smiled as he put the gun under his pillow before reaching out and pulling Ian in for a deep kiss.
"Mmm," Ian moaned happily as he let Charlie take his mind away from the horrors of the last few days, to a place he could live with as he tried to show Charlie just how grateful he was just to be there with him.
"When did you get dressed?" Charlie asked a little dizzily when he finally came up for air and reaching down with his hands, pulled the bottom of Ian's t-shirt up and over his head before throwing it into one of the four corners of the room.
"Charlie?" Ian asked seriously as Charlie took hold of his shoulders and manoeuvred Ian so that he was lying under him.
"I love you."
"I love you too," Charlie grinned as he stroked Ian's cut cheek softly with his thumb.
"It's going to scar…" Ian whispered as he turned his face away so that the cut was hidden against the soft cotton of the pillow.
"It's a good thing I like scars then," Charlie smiled as he gently turned Ian back to face him before dipping his head down to Kiss Ian deeply on the lips.
"Mmm…a good thing," Ian smiled as he put his arms around Charlie's shoulders and arched his back to meet him as Charlie's tongue snaked it's way inside his mouth. After that he was incapable of coherent thought for quite some time.
*"Within the small sphere of our lives we can stare into the past, but all we can really change is our future." - Dr. Larry Fleinhardt: Season 5, Episode 11: Arrow of Time*
*One Week Later,
The FBI Lobby*
Stood to one side, Don ignored the busy passing by of the other agents as he reached up onto his tip toes to place the plaque in his hands onto the small nail in the wall that had been put up earlier whilst he had been at Brian's funeral.
"The FBI Memorial Star," Logan nodded his approval as Don stepped back to check that the plaque was straight. "It's a nice gesture…putting it up there."
"It was Ian…he spoke to Nick about getting Brian a star…he may not have gotten his chance to go to Quantico…but I'm certain that he would have made one hell of an agent and Nick agreed," Don smiled weakly as he looked from Brian's star to the other medals adorning the wall.
"He already was one hell of an agent. He proved that when he saved your brother," Logan agreed as he too looked humbly over the other plaques of agents that had died in the line of duty, some of which he had known personally. It was never easy, but it was comforting to know that they weren't being forgotten, that their sacrifice was being honoured. "Sorry…" Logan apologised as he looked away at the other agents who were giving them curious stares on their way too or from the building. "What did you want to see me about?"
"I have a proposition for you," Don smiled warmly as Logan looked back confused. If this last case has taught me anything…it's that the job of SAIC is too big for just one man. I still want to be able to have an active role in the big cases like this last one and it's getting tiring trying to make up the paperwork in the early hours of the morning."
"Logan…I want you to be my ASAC."
"You want me to be the Assistant Special Agent in Charge? Why me?"
"Because you're qualified…because you're better at the politics side of things…does it matter why?"
"What? No it doesn't matter or no you don't want to?"
"No it doesn't matter and of course I will take the job!" Logan smiled as Don grinned back. Their new found friendship was odd, but Logan was finding that he definitely preferred it to being at war with Don and his team!
"Good," Don replied as he shook Logan's hand enthusiastically before gesturing for Logan to follow him back to his office, they had a lot to sort out and Don was keen to get on top of it, after all it was a new day and there were at least ten new cases waiting for them on his desk…and floor…he really needed to get a better filing system!
So that was the last instalment of 'Smothered by Love' and I just wanted to thank each and every one of you who made it to the very end-especially those who have been following it right from the beginning when I first posted it on the 09/04/2012! I've been writing this Fic for eight months, 129,940 words, and it's a little unbelievable to think it's been that long and that the Fic ended up being that long! So thank you all so much for persevering!
I also wanted to say a big thank you if you added this story to your favourites list or clicked to follow the story and of course to those of you who took the time to review it along the way. Your kind comments really helped keep my momentum going! Also whilst I remember, I want to say an extra special thank you to both Nessy22 and Nosting who not only reviewed practically every chapter of this Fic, but my last one as well. Thank you. X
Anyway…enough blabbering...what I really wanted let you all know is that I have a couple of sequel fic's that are out for you to check out:
'Smothered By Christmas': (It is my first attempt at a one shot Fic set not long after 'Smothered By Love' as a thank you to all those who made writing this Fic worthwhile!) It's Charlie and Ian's first Christmas together, and Charlie want's everything to be perfect! But with Ian being so resistant towards the holidays; will Christmas Day go according to Charlie's plans? Or will it be a Blue, Blue Christmas this year?
'Shell Shocked': Is a sequel to 'Smothered By Love' set 6 weeks later when things are finally returning to normal…that is until a bomb is let off at the LA County Courthouse, sending Robin and Don's lives back into turmoil once more. (This fic is current).
Something to look out for in the furture:
'Someone To Believe In': A sequel to 'Someone To Blame' set eight years later. Colby's brother Jason is running for mayor but everything ends up going wrong when his rival dies mysteriously and he unwittingly becomes suspect number one in the homicide. Now it's a race to prove his innocence as the town turns against him and Jason finds himself desperately needing someone to believe in him!
Once again, thanks for reading, reviewing, favouring, and following this Fic and I hope you join me again in the future for the ones mentioned above.