Title: Decisions

Author: Pippychick

Fandom: Life

Pairing: Charlie/Ted (friendship)

Rating: T

Warnings: Possible violence if I continue.

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters or their universe. They exist thanks to their wonderful writer and creator Rand Ravich. They are also the property of NBC Universal Studios, and the great actors who portray them on screen, Damien Lewis and Adam Arkin. Please, please don't sue me.

Summary: Just a little fic about what happened when Charlie and Ted met in prison and how they became friends.

Author's Notes: They're reshowing Life, and it caught me. Any fanfiction whose research involves reading the Book of Zen is well worth writing.

Decisions

There is a truce with the former cop. A tenuous one but a truce all the same that has lasted for some years. It's helped along because they believe me to be a murderer, and they mistake my peace for cold blood. They believe it – I am not sure – but it no longer matters, because here I am. I do not concern myself with the tortures of ignored innocence. What is innocent?

Fruit, probably – even the apples.

I see no reason to mark the passing of time, of days or weeks, or even years, so when I see him I recognise him from a newspaper I read or was reading. He looks scared. Prison wasn't made for him, or those like him. His peers have done far worse and fared far better. He thinks a great deal more than is good for him.

For a while I watch, and see the gathering of others around him like vultures around some other creature's kill. The more he withdraws from them, the darker the shadows become.

Fear – it makes victims of us all. Especially this type of fear, hidden even from ourselves, it shines to others like a beacon. I decided to leave solitary when my fear was gone, and the less I feared, the less there was to fear. I decide to meet violence with violence, rather than react with violence, because that is where I am, and if I have tormentors, they find no reward in me. They go somewhere else.

So I watch over days, waiting for them to pounce. He thinks far, far too much. So used to wielding power, knowing how people work, how to get what you want out of them. I see him little by little coming to understand that all of his past experience means nothing anymore, because he's just one of us. How humbling… and then he begins to eat alone. Bad move.

It's not my business, but I decide to at least do something before it all gets out of hand. One day while he sits alone with his food, I put my tray down on his table. There's a whisper of group awareness through the cafeteria, then it's gone. I don't trouble myself to look.

"I miss fruit," I say, because it's true. I look down at my tray and it's filled with different colours, but the texture is all the same. I peer over at his to see if he's doing any better, because I will decide to steal a banana, but he's done slightly worse. Looks like he came in too late to get the orange goo.

Nervous, clearing his throat, I look up again and then lean back in my chair, waiting patiently for him to speak because I'm sure he's going to. There's a hunted, suspicious look in his eyes.

"Um…" he says, and pauses. I wait. "Is that some kind of code?"

I decide not to laugh. "No," I answer simply, and then hold out my hand across the table. "Charlie Crews. I read about you."

There's a slightly embarrassed humility about him, as if he has a wardrobe full of looks and decided to wear that one today. "Ted Earley," he says, shaking my hand. His grip is strong and sure, a result of practice, but this is no place for him and it's so obvious he might as well be wearing a badge.

I watch him as he looks down at his tray, probably already missing fruit, and then I sense the shadows around us, closing in. A decision looms.

"Is there something I can do for you, Charlie?" he asks, and his sincerity quite naturally makes the decision for me. I turn to the shadows, and tell them plainly to back off in words that they understand. They slink away, but they don't go too far, and the next time he looks at me, I can see that he knows all too well what's happening, and that he's afraid. He thinks far too much than is good for him, and more than enough for decent conversation. He's not unlike an orange. So we're already friends.

To be continued…

Author's Note: Thank you for reading – I hope you enjoyed it. Please leave a word or two.