With his car still at the shop Charlie had this time insisted on walking home alone with Rex. They all had offered him a ride home today, Jesse, Joe and she had done so repeatedly. When he declined and said he needed the walk, they had offered to walk with him.
However, Charlie had declined their offers politely.
Sarah sighed deeply. Part of her knew it was important for him to walk the path where he had been taken roughly 24 hours ago before to gain some closure.
Another big part of her felt this unrational fear he might be taken again, right there, at the same spot. Of course, with Lisa Bunting and her husband behind bars, none of this would happen, but still she would have felt better seeing him home safely, just to be sure.
Sarah fidgeted nervously with the papers on her desk. Her gaze kept wandering to the clock in the wall. Charlie and Rex should have arrived home by now. She had made him promise to text her when they got home, just to be sure. He had watched her intently for a moment before he had promised to do so with a lopsided grin that didn't quite reach his eyes.
Even though Charlie had sounded like his normal self in front of the team, she had heard the strain beneath his voice, she had heard the barely-there shakiness.
Squeezing her eyes shut she tried to stop the images from coming again. Images of Charlie being buried alive for hours, of lying helplessly in his narrow coffin, fighting for air to keep breathing. Images of the tears welling up in his eyes when he had interrogated Lisa Bunting, living through this hell again. Sarah had wanted to pull him in his arms once more right there, when he had left the interrogation room. In fact, she had felt the overwhelming urge to hold him close ever since they had pulled him out of his grave. It was like she needed to actually feel his warmth and his heartbeat just to be assured the he was indeed alive and safe.
With another impatient glance at the clock she grabbed her purse and made a beeline for the exit.
Half an hour later she rang the doorbell at Charlie's house with some Thai takeout in her hands. He had texted her that he and Rex had arrived home safely ten minutes ago, just like he had promised to. Nonetheless, she had to see with her own eyes. Moreover, she couldn't stand the thought of him being alone at home after all he had been put through.
When the door opened, she smiled sheepishly and held the bag up, "I was wondering whether you were up for some food, um, and some company after... all that?"
A genuine smile lit up his face and he stepped aside, inviting her in, "Sure. Come in."
She noticed that Charlie had changed into more comfortable clothes. Still, he looked tired and worn out, both physically and mentally. Looking around for Rex she found him passed out on his dog bed, giving her an exhausted tail wagging when she bent down to greet him.
Following the same routine they had so many times before in the past when hanging out together at his place, they set up the plates and settled on the couch, eating their food mostly in silence, the TV showing some random sitcom providing some sort of background noise.
Rex was fast asleep, snoring soundly. He didn't even bother to beg for his share of the meal.
When Charlie carried the now empty plates to the kitchen, Sarah followed him. He placed the dishes in the sink and found her standing right behind him when he turned around, eyeing him anxiously.
"So... how are you feeling, Charlie?" She asked in a soft voice that almost immediately made tears well up in his eyes again.
He shrugged it off, "Um, I'm alright. You checked me out yourself, remember? No major injuries."
Sarah gave him a strained smile and moved one small step closer towards him. She placed a hand on his chest right above his heart. "You are injured... right here. Just... allow yourself to heal. I just wanted you to know that I'll be there for you. Whenever you need me."
He swallowed the lump rising in his throat. "I struggled and I fought, you know." He whispered, the pain clearly showing in his eyes. "Not physically, obviously," he chuckled bitterly at the memory of being helplessly at the mercy of his kidnappers, "But emotionally. I wasn't just fighting for me, I was... I was fighting for you, for us."
Sarah's eyes widened, her breath catching. "What?"
"I knew I needed to get back to you, I knew...I knew I needed more time with you, our story couldn't end there." He said, placing his hand on top of hers still resting on his chest.
Their eyes locked and Sarah asked softly, "Then where does it end?"
"Hopefully with something like this..."
Charlie slowly began to lean in, searching her face for any sign of hesitation on her part. Sarah's eyes lit up and she wasted no more time in closing the distance between them. She clung to his shirt when their lips finally met for the first time. All the longing, all the love and the desire just spilled out of her—of both of them. His stubble scratched her face but that didn’t matter because he was here, he was safe, he was with her.
All she wanted to do was hold on to him and never let him go, which was excactly what she planned to do for the rest of their lifes. It was all that mattered.