A/N: Thank you for not totally hating how I dragged Marion into this! This is my 'fluffy' chapter. I like writing the emotional parts a lot! A special thanks to Bulldog95. I love your reviews! Lately they have been my ONLY reviews, sooo... And to smkelover: 'Me gusta' means 'I like' in Spanish, right? I can't reply in Spanish, BUT I can speak German! Danke!
I lead Mom- the word still seems so foreign- down the long hallway near my room, where Dad is fast asleep. I hold my hand out, keeping her standing in the hallway.
"Let me go in first. I'll come to get you." She nods, smiling, and steps away. I open the door slowly, careful not to wake Dad. I close it slightly, just enough so Mom is not visible. Dad is still curled up on the bed, a pillow replacing my body that he was previously holding. I sit down at the edge of the bed, looking at Dad. When he's asleep, he looks much younger. The pain and years are shaved off somehow, making him look more peaceful. I wonder if everyone looks younger when they sleep. I put my hand on Dad's shoulder, shaking him gently.
"Dad.." I say, unable to keep the smile out of my voice. "Dad, wake up." He stirs slightly, stretching his limbs out on the bed. His eyes flicker open and land on my face, a smile spreading across his face.
"Ah, how is my little girl?" he asks playfully. I roll my eyes jokingly.
"I'm not exactly 'little' anymore, Dad." He frowns.
"Don't remind me. Now, can you please tell me why you woke me up from a nap I really needed?" Guilt isn't getting him anywhere today.
"I wanted to ask you a little question," I respond. He looks at me curiously.
"Well?" I lean in a little bit.
"What would you do if Mom suddenly reappeared?" Dad stares at me like I've lost it. After all, I just asked him earlier if he missed her, now it seems to him that I'm asking something totally unfair.
"If she were here right now?" he clarifies. I nod.
"If she were here right now, I wouldn't even bother to ask how she got here. I would just run up to her and hug her. And then some other things you're not supposed to know about," he teases. I roll my eyes again.
"What would you say to her?" I ask. He shrugs. "I guess I would tell her how much I love her, how much I missed her, and then I would tell her all about the stubborn, trouble-making daughter she dumped me with." His joking is an attempt to mask the pain and the longing, but the fact that he'll no longer have to feel that soon is a comfort to me. I smile, standing up from the bed.
"I'll be right back," I announce.
Skipping over to the door, I slip out. Grabbing Mom's hand without explanation, I lead her into the room. Dad looks up slowly when he hears the door close.
"Well, so much for be back soon," he starts to say. For a split second, he doesn't register the fact that Mom is here. When he finally does, I can see how in awe he truly is. His brain can't catch up with the fact that the wife he long thought dead is here, in the room with him instead of being ashes in the sand in Cairo. Dad stands up off the bed cautiously, like Mom could disappear at any moment. He must think he's crazy. I would if I was in his position. When he reaches Mom, he hesitantly puts his hands on her face, gently brushing back her hair. I look away. It feels wrong to intrude on their moment together.
"I'll be outside," I announce, though I'm sure it fell upon deaf ears. I leave quickly. However, I can feel the smile on my face. I don't think it can ever be wiped off.
I can't believe it. I'm too scared to believe it. Marion, my dead wife, is here. She's alive and well, like nothing happened. Char knew. That's why she asked me what I'd do if Marion were alive.
"Marion..." I whisper in disbelief. She smiles- that beautiful smile I missed so much- and nods.
"Yes, Indy, it's me." I shake my head to myself, still waiting to wake up from this wonderful dream.
"But, h-how?" She laughs.
"That's a long story." I begin to wonder if the basket I was sure was carrying Marion was really her or just someone's laundry. How else could she be here, right in front of me?
"I saw the car carrying the basket you were in explode," I whisper, sounding eerily similar to a mental patient. Marion places a hand on my face gently.
"Indy..." she begins. "They didn't put me on a vehicle." My doubt crumbles in front of me. All this time, I thought I had accidentally contributed to my wife's death by shooting at the truck I was sure they were transporting her on. I was devastated and racked with guilt, day and night. If only I had figured it out sooner. If only I had asked questions, if only I had looked around. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I look back at my Marion. She's just as beautiful as she was before. Her older self is shockingly un-aged. I'm sure I'm quite the opposite.
I hug Marion close to me, as close as I can be to her. The feeling of her body against mine was sorely missed for all these years. Marion hugs me back and wraps her arms around my neck.
"Marion.. I missed you so much." I'm not even aware of what's spewing out of my mouth anymore. I know that I'm gladly handing out 'I love you's' to her along with telling her how much I missed her.
"I love you too, Indy," she whispers. "I missed you too." I'm so happy, yet so confused. I accepted the fact that Marion was never coming back to us. I silently mourned her and then tried to ignore the subject of her, just like I did with Mom. It was unhealthy, I know, but it minimized the pain. It was either that or take an even more destructive path, but I couldn't do that when I had a child to raise. I whimper slightly when Marion pulls back out of my embrace. I miss the contact already.
"Indy, can you tell me about our daughter?" she asks with excitement in her eyes. I smile sadly. She missed all but a few months of Char's life. I thought I was the one in pain all these years, but Marion knew her child was alive and had forgotten about her. I can't even begin to imagine her pain. I lead her to the bed and sit down with her.
"First of all, she goes by 'Char' now," I begin. "I guess you were right when you said she would be like me and take a nickname." Marion rolls her eyes.
"Of course she did. She's your daughter, after all." I grin, pulling Marion in even closer.
"She's got plenty of you in her. She's stubborn, independent, impulsive, and quick to anger. She's my best friend." Marion looks at me, obviously surprised. Sallah, Marcus, Colin, and even Oxley were always my best friends. Now I'm claiming that I'd rather spend most of my time with a sixteen year old girl.
"Really?" she asks. I nod.
"We're closer than most father and daughters are. I guess that comes from mutual loss. She's just such a beautiful person, inside and out. I can't believe that I didn't mess her up big time. Sometimes I still don't know what the heck I'm doing with her, but I'm glad she turned out just fine by some miracle." Marion laughs, slapping my shoulder.
"That's no miracle, Indy. That's really good parenting." She isn't the first person to tell me that I raised Char correctly, but I never believe it when I've been told that I'm the reason Char is the way she is now. She's always been very independent and never does a damn thing she doesn't want to. However, hearing Marion saying it evokes something inside me. I always raised Char with the intent of making Marion proud. It looks like I have accomplished my goal.
I lean in and kiss Marion lightly. After sixteen years, I feel complete. I never thought I'd have Marion back, so I settled for a life where the only love I had was the love I felt for Char. Now, I can finally grow old with my true love like I promised to sixteen years ago in Cairo. I recline on the bed with Marion.
"I love you," I whisper. She smirks and cuddles further into my side.
"I love you too, Indy."
"Do we have any books here?" I ask Mutt. He shakes his head.
"Unless you want to read some old book about arks and stuff, then no." I giggle a little at ignorance on the subject. For someone who is travelling with Dad, he sure doesn't know a lot about him. Him saying 'arks and stuff' just proves it to me.
"Well, it's not exactly old," I mention. Mutt raises his eyebrows.
"How do you know, doll?" he asks. I grab the book off the shelf, opening the table of contents. When I see 'discovery', I flip to page 220. A picture of a younger Dad standing next to Sallah and Mr. Brody is on the first page I see. I smirk while showing it to Mutt.
"My dad discovered it when I was a few months old, genius." His mouth drops open.
"Really?" Of course, he's completely dumbfounded by it.
"Mmmhmm." I put the book away, leaning back in my chair.
"Your old man really is something," Mutt adds. I nod.
"Yep, he's not like most fathers." I know Colin probably made a great father. When he visited, he never brought Mutt along, so I never knew he was a father. I think Dad knew, though.
"I'm guessing you had a pretty cool dad, too," I say to Mutt. He smiles a little to himself and shrugs.
"Yeah, he was pretty cool, I guess."
"The last time I saw your dad was when I was eight. He never said anything about having a kid," I mention. Mutt raises his eyebrows.
"Really? I nod.
"How old are you, anyway?" I ask.
"Nineteen," he answers. Well, that's close enough to my age, I guess. I always assumed he was around eighteen or so, maybe twenty. I wasn't that far off.
"Did you know about me?" I ask. Mutt shrugs, showing a gap between his fingers to signal that he kind of knew about me, just a little.
"I knew Indy had a daughter, but I didn't expect her to be like you." He looks away and blushes slightly after answering. It catches my interest.
"How so?" I ask. He shrugs, though not very convincingly.
"I mean... when I went looking for your old man, I knew you'd be with him, but I'm expecting some really booky, plain-Jane looking kid who wants to stay as far away from this whole mess as possible. Then we bumped into each other- literally." I laugh, remembering how that went. I was rather cold to him, but that's just the type of person I am. I'm kind in most cases, but when I feel like someone is less than kind back, my claws come out. "You were definitely not a plain-Jane," he continues. I blush slightly. I would disagree, but a few compliments won't kill me, right? "Seriously, Char. Look at yourself! You're... hot!" I won't lie; I was expecting something like 'beautiful' or maybe just 'pretty'. I scowl.
"Way to ruin a moment, you idiot." He smirks, which suits him.
"We were having a 'moment'?" he asks. I don't respond, but I can't help the grin spreading across my face. I know Mutt and I love to annoy each other, but I'm growing this strange attachment to him. I don't know what to make of it.
Mutt stands up out of his chair and plops himself down next to me. His arm rests on the couch, very close to my shoulders. Oddly enough, I don't mind.
"Okay, okay," he starts. "I'll admit, calling you 'hot' was a pretty lame move." I scoff.
"You bet it was." Mutt smiles and laughs. Like I said, our way of showing we care is peculiar.
"What I will say is that you're pretty darn beautiful." I blush, but look away so he doesn't see it.
"Shut up," I mumble.
"I don't just give out compliments to anybody, Char," he says. He's not smirking or even smiling. He's serious. "You're not like any girl I've ever met. You're beautiful, sure, but you're also definitely not afraid to get your hands dirty. In every situation we get into, I'm clueless. I guess I get lucky sometimes, but you're a darn pro at this." I slap his shoulder playfully, trying not to blush again at his generous words.
"Well, you don't look so bad yourself, greaser." He tilts his head, and I try not to regret what I said.
"You mean it?" he asks teasingly. I nod a little.
"You have a really good smile," I mumble. Mutt leans in a little.
"I'm sorry. I didn't catch that, sweetheart." I narrow my eyes dangerously. More like he wanted to hear it again. Why that arrogant, self-absorbed...
"I said, 'You have a really good smile'!" Mutt grins, scooting closer to me.
"That's what I thought. But my eyes aren't as cool as yours. Seriously, they're pretty nifty." I cock my head.
"Nifty?" I ask. I'm still not used to some of Mutt's slang. He sighs.
"It means pretty or cool." I nod. I can put that one somewhere in the back of my mind now.
"Thanks, Mutt," I say, a little softer than usual.
"Anytime," he whispers in response. I can sense the shift in the air between us. He's closer to me now, his hand resting on the back of my neck. I'm trying not to fidget in my spot. I nearly jump when Mutt clears his throat.
"I should be going to my room now, y'know. It's getting late." I nod, though I don't want to leave this spot.
"I guess I should be leaving, too." Before I can stand, Mutt kisses my cheek. This time, I do jump. Even if it was only a friendly kiss, it caught me off guard. Thankfully, Mutt doesn't seem to notice. Well, if he did, he didn't say anything.
"I'll see you later," Mutt says, his usual confidence back. I smile a wave as I walk out the door.
"See ya soon." When I'm out of sight, I touch my cheek and smile. Am I really this stupid?
When I enter my room, Mom and Dad are still together on the bed, just talking to each other. Seeing them wrapped around each other isn't weird or cringe-worthy like most children would think of their parents showing affection to each other. Instead, I view it as sweet.
"Sorry to interrupt the moment, but I want to talk to Mom alone for a minute." The two break apart at the sound of my voice and Dad stands up. I hate to ask him to leave her after he just got her back, but I need a moment with her too.
"Okay. Just come get me whenever." I smile, silently thanking him for being so understanding. Before he leaves, he leans down and kisses Mom's forehead. On his way out the door, he kisses mine too. Now I'm alone with Mom. It's almost awkward. Dad is the one who truly knows Mom. He also knows me, unlike Mom, who never got that chance. Mom and I are like strangers who rely on outside sources to learn things about each other. I know that I love her, but am I ready to admit that to her? What if she turns out to be someone I don't like or worse, what if I'm someone she doesn't like? I hesitantly go to stand by the chair while she sits on the edge of the bed.
"I guess we should, umm, talk about this," I suggest, trailing off slightly. I'm not even sure what I mean by 'this'. She nods, looking as uncomfortable as I feel.
"How much do you know about me?" I ask her, trying to start some sort of conversation.
"Your father told me quite a lot," she answers, smiling. I'm not surprised. Dad thinks I'm some sort of model child for his lifestyle. In his words, I would be a nightmare for anyone else but him. I wonder if Mom will think the same way in time.
"What do you know about me?" she asks. When Dad is in a good mood, he could go on forever about Mom, but sometimes the subject is taboo.
"I know that you and Dad married in Cairo and you had me not long after. I know you were supposedly dead from an explosion. I know that he left you once, but returned to you a year later." Mom nods after each thing I say, showing me that I'm right. "I know that he loves you..." I add softly. Dad loves Mom so much that I wonder how he got on with his life thinking she was dead. Mom smiles sadly.
"And I love him." I know she's telling the truth. She does love him. I wonder if she'll love me someday. "I love you too, you know." My question is answered for me. How can she love someone she doesn't know? Then again, Dad talked about how he loved me from the minute he laid eyes on me. I squirm and my legs grow restless.
"How could you know that?" I ask. "I mean, you don't really know me yet. You could end up hating the way I turned out. I'm not that great, I mean-"
"Char," she interrupts politely, yet firmly. I stop rambling like a crazy person and listen. She stands up, but keeps her distance, like she's scared of rejection. "You're my child and you always will be. When you were born, I felt an instant connection to you. Call it motherhood, but I knew I would always love you. I failed in protecting you and being there for you, but I want to make up for that. There is nothing you could possibly be in this world that could make me stop loving you, ever."
I open my mouth to speak, but nothing comes out. I've never had any motherly love or influence in my life. I grew up surrounded by men, only one of which was close to being as tender and loving as a mother is supposed to be. Her words hit me hard. I have a mother now, and nothing will change that.
I curse myself when I feel tears starting to gather in the corners of my eyes. Not now, Char, not now! I don't want her to think I'm weak or overly emotional, because I'm far from it. But I just can't help it, so I have to look away.
"Char?" She sounds concerned, like mothers are supposed to be when their children are upset. It just makes more tears fall.
"I'm sorry, I don't know what's wrong with me." Mom steps forward and puts her arms around me. My first reaction is to stiffen and the new feeling of being hugged by foreign arms. But haven't I been wanting this since I was little? I'm just not sure how I feel about it. However, the warmth of her hug breaks me. I relent and wrap my arms around her in return, leaning in to her embrace. It makes me feel warm and secure. Some of the doubt I had dissolves.
"Thank you," I mumble, though I'm not sure why I'm thanking her.
She seems to know what I mean when she answers, "No, thank you."
I walk down the hall, not sure where my destination is. I'm bored, restless, and curious. These aren't great traits to have when it's late at night. I should be in bed, but I don't want to be in that stuffy little room anymore. For now, I'm just walking back and forth down the hallway, praying that no one can hear my footsteps. So much has been loaded on me in such a short amount of time that sometimes, tonight included, I feel like it could all be taken away as quickly. I feel like I could just wake up and Mom would be gone, like it never even happened.
Leaving the hall, I lean against the wall near the lounge, laying my head on the cool wall. I close my eyes and pay attention to the noises in the background to take my mind off all the changes in my life. A muffled voice coming from the lounge startles me. Shouldn't everybody be asleep right now? Well, I'm not, but shouldn't everybody at least be in their room? Okay, bad example again. I look underneath the door to see that the light is on. My blood runs cold.
Of course, the first thing I think is that it must be another kidnapper. What else could it be? Slowly, I grab the door knob and start to turn it gently, making sure I don't make any noise. My heart is pounding so fast that it feels like it will fly right out of my chest. I open it quickly and quietly, sliding right into the room. I look away from the door to the room, prepared to face a Nazi or some other villain.
Instead, it's Dad, Mom, Mutt, Ox, and Sallah who greet me. They seem ecstatic. Mom and Dad are in an embrace, Ox is shaking Sallah's hand, and Mutt just looks excited in general. They all whip their heads around at the sound of my entrance.
"Char!" Mutt exclaims. Before I can react, he runs over and hugs me, lifting me off the ground with his strong arms. I giggle, despite the part of my brain that screams not to giggle at anything Mutt does, and hug him back.
"What's this about?" I ask him, but I would welcome anybody's answer. Dad throws his arm around Mom as he smiles brightly, showing all his teeth.
"We found it, Char." Mutt, who's at my side with his arm around my waist, looks at me with excitement in his eyes. It hits me then that they're talking about the crown. They found the crown.
"What? Really?" I ask, feeling my own excitement rise. Ox nods, keeping his usual calm demeanor.
"Yes, my child. We have successfully tracked the palace holding the crown. Now it's just a matter of getting it before the Nazis can." Of course, to get the crown, they have to use ME. Suddenly, I feel my excitement fade. I have to go on a repeat of the Grail adventure. Let's just hope this one goes better.
A/N: Ooooohhhhh, I can just hear the comments about Char and Mutt now! Ain't they adorable? Well, like Mutt would say, I'm beat. Soooo, please REVIEW, FAVORITE, and FOLLOW.