Aftermath: Part Two
Ian Coleman, eight years ago
The days that followed the incident were difficult to say the least. Charlie would switch from one extreme to the next; she’d spend hours on end vacant, staring into nothing only to wake up and breakdown in tears or fly into a blind rage.
Taking care of her was taking all of my time and energy, but it was the least I could do for her. Even though one of the undercover syndicate henchmen had told me about their move, I hadn’t be fast enough to avoid it all…
It was late at night, Charlie had fallen asleep leaning against me, when there was a knock on the door of my new york apartment. I carefully propped Charlie off me and went to the door and opened it. On the other side stood Julie Newman, the girl from social services, she was holding pair of bags
“Hey. Come on in. Want some coffee?”
“That’d be great. How is she doing?” She answered.
I went to the counter and prepared another cup just for her.
“I don’t know….” I sighed. “She’s sleeping right now and I got her to eat a little earlier. I managed to get a psychiatrist friend of mine to see her here since she won’t get dressed, bathe or leave the apartment. What’s in the bag?”
“Some of her things I managed to recuperate at her home. It’s finally no longer considered a crime scene.” She said putting them down. “
“Great, now I just need to get her to shower and change.” I sighed. “Any luck finding any of her relatives?”
“Nothing useful. Both her parents immigrated only a few years before she was born and all their relatives are back in cuba. We’ve tracked down the father’s mother, but she’s in a home; early onset dementia, her father was in the process of getting her moved to the united states. Her husband died years ago. Nothing we could find on the mother’s side of the family…”
“I see… Guess she’ll be staying here for a while longer.”
“You know you can’t keep her here forever. I let it go before, but my supervisors have been riding my ass for the last few days, says we should be taking her away and into the proper hands.”
“Where will they take me?” Charlie muttered. She’d apparently woken up and had heard us.
“I don’t know exactly…” Julie said. “They’ll probably put you in with a foster family or a center where they can take care of you… At least until we can find if you have any remaining family.”
“Do I have to leave?”
“I don’t know, at least not yet.”
“I don’t want to go…”
“Hey, it’s alright. You’re not going anywhere, okay? Now let’s get you back to bed.”
I escorted her to bed and and tucked her in properly this time.
“Good night Charlie.”
She didn’t answer but she stayed in the bed. I closed the door behind myself and went back to Julie’s side.
“I should go.” She said. “I’ll contact you tomorrow.”She got up and I escorted her out, even going down the elevator with her.
There was silence as we rode it down until I decided to speak up.
“I want to adopt her.”
“You what?” She asked, spinning around like I’d said something crazy.
“She’s terrified, she doesn’t want to leave. I’m the only person she trust and I can’t just let her go.”
“You can’t just adopt on a whim.”
“This isn’t a whim, I’ve seriously considered it and how it would affect my life. I can’t be that bad a candidate; I’m financially secure, have completely flexible work hours, heck if I have to, I’ll retire from superheroing, get a job teaching at Ravenhold. I need your help, I know you’re a good person and you care for her, and not just because it’s your job. Can you tell me that taking her away would really be best?”
“You…” She sighed. “Have a point.”
“I’m going to need you to guide me through whatever process I need to go through.”
“I’ll do what I can. And I’ll try to block any attempt at getting her taken away.”
Over the next few days, Julie and I began the process to get everything started. With a favor from Julie and a nice bonus from me for the teacher to do overtime, I plowed through the adoption classes within a week.
Charlie seemed to do a little better — she’s put on some of the clothes Julie had brought and bathed. — Everyday doctor Sij came to see her and try to help her process what had happened. The steps were small, but at least with her help she might be better one day. That day, I watched the two of them go through a mix of CBT and play therapy. At least Charlie seemed to be receptive to the Venusian doctor.
“That’ll be all for today.” Doctor Sij announced once they were done. “I’ll see you again tomorrow.”
I escorted the doctor out. When I turned around, Charlie was behind me.
“Of course, I’ll make you something to eat.” I went to the kitchen and warmed up something in the microwave. Charlie still hovered around me, she didn’t like being far away.
“Charlie? Can I talk with you?”
“What is it?”
“I know you don’t want to leave and I don’t want you to leave either. I know I can never replace your parents, but I want to take care of you. Julie and I have been looking into it and if you want me to, I’ll adopt you. I’ll be your new father and you’ll come to live with me.”
I put an arm around her and dragged her closer into a hug. She wrapped her tiny arms around me with all her strength.
Thankfully the Legion’s contact within the government as well as a few well placed bribes got the wait and processing times shortened as quickly as possible and I was put on probation. Soon enough we found ourselves back on Priest island.
“Is this it?” Charlie asked, looking at my home.
“It is. Welcome home Charlie.”