It's a new story. Charlie can't admit that there are monsters she can't fight.

Un-beta'ed, so quibble away.

- o – o -

Lost But Never Found

Charlie can't believe it when they somehow rescue Danny. It shouldn't have been possible—the rescue was too easy. But they've got him back. He's safe. He's got warm clothing on, a hat, boots…

She's supposed to keep him safe. Danny's her baby brother, and she's supposed to keep hold of his hand. So she will. She'll hold onto his hand, and she won't let go until they get back to Sylvania Estates.

Miles drives the stolen wagon for hours, taking paths Charlie can't remember if she had a gun to her head. She doesn't care where they go, as long as it's safe. Danny deserves that much. Charlie rubs her thumb over the back of her brother's hand, biting her lip to keep from crying as she feels the bones shift under dry, papery skin.

He's so thin…

Charlie scrubs at her eyes with her free hand. She will not cry. She can't. She has to look after Danny, soothe away the nightmares and make sure he's still breathing in the morning.

They get to their destination just as the first red-gold lights of dawn light the sky up, and the problems start. Charlie knows her brother was tortured, beaten. The scars on his back, and the ones on his face—one slashes horizontally across his face, so close to his eyes—are evidence enough.

Physical damage is easy to repair. Charlie doesn't know how she's supposed to repair her brother's mind.

She pulls her brother into a hug after he wakes up screaming from a nightmare. Charlie does her best to soothe him so he doesn't wake up the rest of the house—the rebels are only letting them stay because Miles gave them information, but they'll be kicked out if Danny brings them too much attention.

He writhes in her grip, begging her not to touch him. He claws at his own skin, sobbing.

Charlie doesn't let Danny bathe alone anymore, not after she came in to discover the bath water was dark pink and her brother was scrubbing at his skin with something rough and sobbing. Uncle Miles is willing to keep an eye on Danny, to make sure he doesn't hurt himself. Danny has to sit still while his uncle runs a sponge over his back, his chest, wiping away the dirt with gentle, firm strokes. The teen trembles in the man's grip, eyes wide with fear. He doesn't move, though. Not an inch.

No matter how much she wants to, Charlie can't reach into her brother's mind and kill whatever is terrorizing him. She wants to. Danny's supposed to be kind and outgoing, the person everyone can't help but love. He's not supposed to sob in fear when a stranger approaches him.

She almost kills Nora when the woman suggests that Danny should be given a cyanide capsule. Charlie's come too far to let her brother slip through her fingers now. She has to fix her baby brother. (She can't admit that maybe Nora is right, and letting Danny die is the best solution.)

Charlie sits up at nights, giving her brother tiny chips of ice—real ice, the kind she hasn't seen since she was five—to suck on so he doesn't get dehydrated. (He can't drink or eat anything without puking it back up. Miles says he was probably force-fed, but Charlie doesn't want to believe it and knows it's true even as she denies it). She rubs ointment into the burns around his wrists and ankles, where he pulled too hard at the soft restraints they had to keep him in so he didn't claw at his eyes or batter his feet to pieces, kicking at imaginary enemies.

The young woman wishes she could set the clock back. Danny wasn't supposed to be broken when they found him. But Charlie's beginning to face the truth now:

Not all wounds are visible.

Not all wounds can be healed.

- o – o -

So, what did you think? Good? Bad? Need to give Charlie and Danny hugs and cuddles? Drop a line and let me know.

Author's note: This is not connected to any 'verse I am currently writing. Also, people need to stop giving me ideas.