On Twisting the Hellmouth
On Archive of Our Own
Previous chapters are
On Twisting the Hellmouth
On Archive of Our Own
This is the fourth of six short chapters - I should post them reasonably quickly, I hope. All characters belong to their respective creators, giant megacorporations of doom, etc. and there is no intent to infringe on copyright.
Note: This chapter is set a few months after Adventures in House Sitting, in which Linda worked temporarily as house-sitter for Joey Lucas, and nearly a year after the main events of The Return, in which she first met C.J. Cregg and her husband.
4: Charlie Young
Marcus L Rowland
“It’s good of you to help out with the party on such short notice,” signs Joey Lucas. “All of the professional ASL interpreters seem to be busy today.”
“I didn’t have any plans,” Linda signs back, “I was sorry to hear about Kenny, I hope he recovers soon.” There’s a buzz and a small light flashes, and she adds “There’s someone at the door; I’d better get it.”
Joey checks a monitor in her office and signs “It’s C.J. Cregg and Danny with Charlie Young, you’ll like them.”
Linda’s met C.J. Cregg and her husband several times; the trouble is that she’s met them as Supergirl, not Linda, which could be a problem. But as usual the idea that Supergirl is casually answering the door, or doing anything other than fly and save lives, is so unlikely that she doesn’t see the slightest glimmer of recognition in their eyes. She has an idea that Joey wouldn’t be so easily fooled; Joey makes up for her deafness by extraordinary perceptiveness in other areas, and Linda plans to avoid meeting her as Supergirl unless it’s absolutely essential. She doesn’t know Charlie at all, although she knows who he is; former aide to President Bartlet and fiancé of Zoey Bartlet. Some news bulletins mentioning the couple and racist attacks on Charlie reached Argo City before Kara left for Earth.
An hour later the party’s in full swing with twenty or so guests, mostly prominent local Democrats, and Linda’s busy translating anecdotes about the odder moments of the Bartlet administration. Between stories she notices that Charlie doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself much, and asks if he’s okay.
“I’m fine,” says Charlie. “It’s just, you hear the same stupid stories enough times, you start losing the will to live. People should get on with their lives, not dwell on the past.”
“Maybe you could talk about whatever it is you’re doing now. Did someone say you’re a lawyer?”
“Law student, it’ll be a few years yet before I can practice.”
“I’m taking engineering at UCLA.”
“Okay… I thought you were Kenny’s replacement.”
“No, just doing a favour for Joey, Kenny’s got the flu.”
Charlie grins, Joey beckons to her, and she leaves Charlie to go and interpret another story. A few minutes later Charlie chimes in with a story of his own, a weird campus encounter with extreme libertarians, and their reaction when he pointed out that if they had the courage of their convictions, they would be paying him to listen to them.
Towards the end of the evening as Charlie is leaving he thanks her for the suggestion, and mentions that he’s in Los Angeles for a couple more days, and doesn’t have anything planned for the following evening; would she like to come out for a meal?
“Won’t your fiancée object?”
“Zoey and I are… well, it’s complicated. We both think we need a little space right now.”
“Okay… one condition, I’m not an escort, and I’m not playing relationship counsellor, or helping you drown your sorrows. I’m just going out for a meal.”
“Okay, I can work with that. Italian?”
“Works for me.”
The next evening they’ve finally got a table in the crowded restaurant when Charlie’s phone rings. Linda makes an effort not to listen in, as he describes what he’s been doing that day; after a couple of minutes he says “Love you too, honey,” and disconnects. “Sorry, that was Zoey.”
“I think she’s feeling a little lonely.”
“I guessed that too. Did I mention that I’m not a relationship counsellor?”
“Okay, sorry. I guess I’m missing her too. That’s pretty much why I wanted company this evening.”
“Okay, if that’s all this is, it’s fine with me. Let’s order.”
About fifteen minutes later, as they’re starting to eat, Linda feels an odd sense of unease, like the oppressive feeling before a storm breaks, and the whole restaurant seems to go quiet. Outside, for miles around, Linda can hear hundreds of dogs barking. There’s an odd creaking noise, far outside the range of human hearing. Then the room lurches up and down once… twice… three times. Stacked glasses cascade from the bar, and hundreds of car alarms start to beep.
“Earthquake!” shouts Charlie, grabbing her arm, “we’ve got to get out of here.” He starts to pull her towards the door.
Kara tries to think. She needs to get out of here, start rescuing people, but Charlie’s not going to let go until he thinks she’s safe. As they move towards the door, she says “You’re a lawyer, right?”
“Law student. Come on, we need to get out of here.”
All of the exits are crowded, but they’re slowly making progress as Linda says “Do you do client confidentiality yet?”
“I can’t take clients. Come on!”
She opens her handbag, pulls out a twenty-dollar bill, and hands it to him, saying “Consider this an advance.”
“Catch you later.” She pulls her arm out of his hand, too fast for him to respond, and ducks behind a pillar. Only Charlie sees her blur into impossibly fast motion and fly through the entrance over the heads of the crowd.
Three hours later Charlie’s still in the car park outside the restaurant, leaning against Linda’s car and listening to its radio, as she walks out from behind some bushes.
“I didn’t expect you to be here still.”
“I figured the roads would be gridlocked, might as well wait here until things quietened down a little. I've phoned Zoey, she knows I'm okay. The radio says that was force 6.2, how bad was it?”
“A lot of casualties, not many fatalities.”
“Not with you there.”
“My cousin helped a lot.”
“Yeah. Look… I can’t take your money.” He hands her the twenty dollar bill.
“I’m not allowed to charge for any form of legal service until I quality. I do that and the Bar Association finds out, I’m toast.”
“Okay. So can you keep a secret?”
“It’s one hell of a secret.”
“You were President Bartlet’s aide for seven years. I think you’re probably pretty good at keeping secrets.”
“Good point.” Charlie grins. “Okay, yes, it’s your secret, I’ll keep it.”
“That’s good. Let me know when you start your practice, I should be finishing college then and I’ll probably need a good lawyer.”
“I’ll hold you to that.”
“Thanks. I have to get back out there soon; can I drop you off at your hotel first?”
“The roads still look pretty bad, that could take hours, I’m sure you have better things to do.”
“Who said anything about the roads? Get into the car and fasten your seat belt, we’ll be there in a couple of minutes.”
As the car flies across Los Angeles, staying low to avoid rescue helicopters and other aircraft, Charlie realises that it’s the story to end all stories. And one that he’ll never be able to tell…
Comments please before I post to archives.