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Title: Airport time.
Word count: 1,286.
Pairing/Characters: Amita Ramanujan/Alan Eppes, Susan Berry/Charlie Eppes, David Sinclair, Don Eppes, Ian Edgerton, Matt Li; mention of Larry Fleinhart/Terry Lake.
OMC: Albert Toogood. (yes, that is a real surname)
Rating/Category: K+, Gen.
Spoilers: none I can recall.
Summary: Amita went to the airport to pick up Charlie and help keep an eye on a fugitive about to be brought down; she ended up doing more than that.
Notes/Warnings: this is an AU where Charlie never left England.
Charlie was glad when the Departure Gate was finally behind him, and still happier when he saw someone holding a sign that said EPPES. Though he didn’t recognize the woman holding that sign.
He walked up to her and said, “I’m Charlie Eppes?” Charlie had a feeling that many men had already approached her, claiming to be an Eppes in the hope of taking her home or at least getting her phone number. But I’m with Susan, and we’re happy together, Charlie thought to himself.
“I’m Amita,” she said. “Follow me?”
“You don’t need to see my ID or anything?”
She shifted from one foot to the other, considering him, watching his face for a moment. “Are you lying to me?”
“No,” Charlie said.
“Then we should get you home,” Amita said.
“But how do you know who I am?” Charlie asked, suspecting the answer would be that she knew his face from one of his publications.
“There are a lot of family photos in Casa Eppes.”
“I’m sorry, Casa Eppes?” Charlie asked.
“That’s what Don calls it these days,” Amita said, and looked around Charlie. “I was told I would be driving Susan back too.”
“She caught the flight after mine,” Charlie said. It’s our kryptonite - we don’t do well together in tightly-enclosed spaces when we can’t move for five hours at a time.
“Oh,” Amita said.
“Here’s yours,” David had told her earlier, helping Amita with an earbud that looked like one of those hands-free phones worn by drivers, jet-setters, and businesswomen. “Now, it’s receive-only, so you can hear what we’re saying.”
“And if I see him or overhear something vital?” Amita had asked, dismissing the niggling thought that, since the entire wing of the airport was going to be 98% FBI, what unique thing could she possibly overhear or learn, that an agent wouldn’t pick up first?
“Push a button on this,” Matt said, handing her a wristwatch. “Any button. Probably shouldn’t raise it to your lips, though.”
Amita had nodded, a smile on those lips. My second undercover assignment. she had thought to herself. To catch Albert Toogood.
“Is it true what I heard about you, Charlie?” Amita asked
“Yes, its true – Professor Hawking said my calculations were worse than Susskind on a bad day.”
“Actually, I had meant…” and trailed off.
“Amita?” Charlie asked.
“It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it,” Amita said, positive she had just caught sight of Toogood - the man nearly everyone here was after. “So, are you excited to see your dad again?”
“Yeah, I am. I kinda thought he would have been here to meet me.”
“Something came up,” Amita apologized.
“Well I’m certainly glad to hear dad’s busy. What about you, Amita? That is, if you don’t mind.”
“I don’t mind,” Amita said. “Mostly, I’ve gone back to college for another degree.” That’s peripheral. Mostly, I help your brother Don. “That’s where I met him.”
An odd look crossed Charlie’s face. “I can’t picture my dad taking the sort of classes you would.”
Amita raised both eyebrows. “What sort of classes would those be?” hoping that Charlie had misspoken, rather than have it turn out Alan’s son had a bigoted streak.
Uh-oh, Charlie thought to himself. Hoping to extricate himself, he said, “Advanced courses. And your hands don’t look weathered enough to have taken advanced Home Design.”
“It’s all on computer,” Amita said, satisfied. “Let’s go get your bags.”
“I only have the one in Luggage.”
“And Susan’s?” Amita asked.
“They put hers on my plane?” Charlie asked. “If anything had gone wrong…” his mind overflowing with worst-case scenarios regarding suitcases.
“Only one way to find out,” and so they walked down a floor via the ramp to the Baggage Claim, Amita the only one of the two aware they were also following the suspect. Don won’t be happy if anything happens to Charlie, but he also won’t be happy if the guilty party eludes everyone. I’ll make sure Charlie stays safe.
“I take it you rank pretty high in my dad’s estimation,” Charlie said.
It didn’t happen at all quickly – which I’d say is for the best. “What makes you say that?” Amita asked. In comparison with us, Larry and Terry’s courtship was positively a blur. Though they knew what was happening between them in their early stages of acquaintanceship. A long friendship dropped us in the other pool.
“He sent you to pick me up. Now, I may not be his favorite son -”
“Yes you are.”
Now Charlie raised an eyebrow.
“He talks about you, as does Don.”
“Are you and my brother…?”
“God no,” Amita said. “I mean, he’s a great guy, but…”
“I know. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked.”
“It’s okay, Charlie.”
“Really? You’re sure?”
“Absolutely,” and they had reached the bottom of the ramp.
Here on the lower floor, her spatial place bracketed by the unstopping plates or pads or whatever they were which carried the bags and cases and other forms of luggage out and around and – if nobody claimed it – back to the Restricted Access rooms. Here, Amita could see Ian Edgerton and Matt Li at opposite ends of the room. Saw David tapping his foot and checking the tags of ownership on similar-looking bags. Not their first rodeos, Amita thought to herself.
Then she saw Ian step out - no, step up to the man they were after, and pull a gun on him. No gunshot – it would’ve echoed in this cavernous space, even with a good silencer.
Amita could just make out Ian’s lips moving. And given what occurred next, she suspected what he said: run please.
And the man obliged, shoving Edgerton down first, then bolted.
I’m the closest, Amita thought, fighting down alarm. I’m supposed to stand and keep my eyes open and keep Charlie on the sidelines…
Calling upon memories of something an old boyfriend had demonstrated with Amita avidly watching, Amita asked Charlie to, “Stay here, please,” and charged.
She remembered slamming her shoulder into him, the two of them going down, shouts of “FBI! Stay down!” and “You okay, Amita?” as she’s helped up and he’ hauled up and away.
When the scene is deemed safe, Don brings Charlie and Alan over to where an EMT is making sure Amita doesn’t need hospitalization. “You’re alright, Amita?” Alan asks.
“I’m fine, thank you,” Amita says.
“That was pretty damn impressive, how you took down Toogood,” Don says.
“It looked worse than it is,” the EMT says. To Amita specifically, “You were fortunate; I don’t recommend trying that a second time, however.”
Once the EMT had left, Alan helped Amita stand, one arm around the other’s back and waist.
Charlie noticed that their hands didn’t leave where they rested. “Hawking was right, I am bad at math.” How many clues did I miss? he asked himself.
“Charlie -” Alan started to say. Never thought I’d ever hear you belittle your talent.
“I’m fine with this, dad,” Charlie said. “Just surprised.”
“Well okay then.”
“It could be worse,” Amita said. “I could have gotten involved with one of my teacher.”
“And I’d be happy to throw a geezer like that in jail,” Don said.
“Much as I normally hate you saying ‘geezer,’” Alan said, “I’d help you there, G-Man.”
“Thanks pop. Now let’s show the conchie where him and Susan will be sleeping.”
Hearing the intercom say Susan’s flight was landing in ten minutes, Charlie asked, “When was I a conscientious objector?”
“Not sure. You were probably in diapers, though, I bet.”
Looks like Susan and I will be having more guests at our wedding than we thought; that’s fine by me, Charlie thought to himself.