Disclaimer: I don't own it, and I am not making any money from this.
I don't know where this came from. I really only saw one and a half episodes of the show, which I guess isn't bad since it's only been on twice!
SPOILERS: For the second episode.
Charlie felt the comfortable numbness slipping away the closer he got to the bank. Bank? He chided himself for such a civilian name. He should be thinking of it as 'the crime scene' for that's what it was. He almost let out the bitter laugh that knocked on the back of his throat, then, he inhaled, blinking rapidly, in a desperate effort to stave off the panic that grew in his belly...in his heart...threatening to choke off his life.
As Charlie reached the first line of police at the scene, he barely registered the fact that someone was trying to keep him back or that Terry Lake was there to vouch for him allowing him to be waved through.
He knew, on the edge of his awareness, that she was there, but did not hear her calling his name as his eyes finally rested on the chaos he had caused. His equation had been wrong. His calm certainty that he knew what would happen had caused this. His equation had failed to predict shattered glass, spent shell casings...blood...and...the body...bodies. Three had died. The news had said that much before he'd left home. He watched now as one body was zipped inside a coroner's bag.
Numbness and panic fought for control as he finally asked Terry the question that had screamed through his brain all the way over here. He was startled that his voice sounded so normal. "Where's Don?"
Seeing Don sitting on the rear of the ambulance as an EMT wrapped a wound that was already staining the bandage a deep crimson gave panic the edge. His mouth barely opened, his eyes barely widened as Don insisted it was nothing.
Charlie swallowed and in his mind, the sound was deafening.
He tried to keep this professional, and spoke to Don and Terry of the robberies, listening as his brother answered a question he'd only half meant rhetorically. The robbers had never been confronted before. This was how they reacted when they were.
"Nothing to Dad, right?" Don said as he made a move to return to the investigation.
Charlie's attention had been focused on the bandage, or, more accurately, on his brother's blood seeping through the bandage. When he failed to respond, Don paused long enough to rephrase. "Charlie, don't say anything to Dad. I'll take care of it, okay?"
He tried to nod, thought he had, and repeated the gesture, all the while blinking and swallowing as he tried to prevent the hyperventilation, the nausea...
"You heard me, right?" Don's voice.
Charlie nodded again, trying to make the gesture more obvious. It must have worked because his brother walked away.
One part of his mind created and discarded equations at an alarming rate, even for him, and another conjured frighteningly vivid pictures of Don lying in a pool of blood.
The image burned into his brain, and, Charlie knew, would haunt him over the next few nights. He looked around the crime scene and wondered how long he could keep down the bile that rose to the back of his throat.
In the office, he stared at the equations from his chair, but he wasn't seeing them. Instead, he saw the crime scene. Funny, he hadn't though of it as a 'bank' since he'd seen the blood.
Charlie had always had a vivid imagination, something most people didn't associate with mathematicians. Now, he cursed his talent with numbers as the probabilities of what had happened, based on what he'd seen and heard, brought forth the days events as though he'd been there. He saw agents firing at the gunmen. He saw the gunmen firing back. His mind's eye insisted on replaying a particularly macabre and personally devastating probability...Don taking a bullet in the brain, his cold lifeless eyes staring up at Charlie in silent accusation.
He couldn't have said how long he sat there staring at the numbers on the clear plexiglass board while seeing only his brother's ultimate disappointment in him, in his abilities, like a long denied chance to say 'I-told-you-so'...
He must have sat there for quite some time, because, by the time his brother's voice penetrated his awareness Charlie could detect a note of concern. Don, whenever dealing with Charlie, usually hovered somewhere between annoyance and concern.
Charlie got to his feet and began explaining things to Don, surprised at the sound of Terry's voice as she insisted the pattern from which he'd worked hadn't been false so much as incomplete.
He followed the argument, nodding and agreeing where necessary, all the while not understanding that they weren't understanding him...that Don at least didn't see what was starting.
He finally had no choice but to say it. He glanced at Don, slightly afraid of what his brother would say, how he would react to this, but he had to be honest. "I can't help."
Don didn't say anything, which surprised him no end, but Terry did.
"Are you feeling okay?"
He explained about his stomach, but couldn't quite believe it when she'd insisted that they all went through the same thing.
"I was the only one I know throwing up at the crime scene." He said the words quickly and softly, and wasn't prepared for the reaction they'd elicited from Don. In a moment, Don was there telling him to go home, taking the eraser from his hand.
Charlie listened, but he still felt an underlying panic on top of an odd anxiety filled numbness. He walked out of the room, feeling waves of concern and annoyance coming from his brother.
Don watched his brother leave the room, all his past fears that his brother wasn't normal, that he couldn't handle the real world washed over him. He knew it wasn't fair, since there was nothing normal about the work of an FBI Agent. What Charlie had seen today...Don sighed. He never should have allowed Charlie to come down there. Not that he'd known, of course, but he should have. He should have guessed that Charlie would race down to the scene of the crime.
Charlie was too ensconced in the world of Academia to understand this sort of thing. He was sheltered. He had been all his life. Don had always feared this would be so. Years of focusing on his education and on obscure mathematical theory had left him unaccustomed and unprepared for this sort of thing. Of course, this had been bad, and it was likely that Charlie was feeling somewhat responsible for it.
Don was exasperated beyond belief. He was mad at Charlie, and at their dad, and if he were honest, to some extent, he was mad at their mother. Had none of them thought to be sure Charlie was learning social interaction and how to get along with others without the crutch of probability theory and behavioral predictions based on hard to follow equations?
Of course not, and because they hadn't, Don had to watch over Charlie, especially when he asked Charlie for help on a case.
How had he ended up here? When had he begun to need Charlie's help in doing his own job? It was absurd! He was a trained agent. He had studied criminology. He had worked hard to get where he was, and now, he was stuck calling his brother in for help.
He ran a hand through his hair and threw up his hands. Terry offered a sympathetic smile.
Alan's heart skipped a beat and leaped into his throat when Don explained how he'd gotten hurt. He had always feared such a thing, and even seeing Don standing there, and knowing that the injury couldn't have been too serious, it was still hard to hear.
He explained where Charlie was, and followed Don into the house, knowing enough about his sons to refrain from following him all the way out into the garage.
He could hear them. Their voices raised and lowered in an uneven, unpredictable way, making it impossible to hear everything, but Alan wasn't really trying to eavesdrop.
Raised voices, demanding voicesDon asking for an equation, and Charlie insisting that he could not, and accusing Don of not understanding what he was doing.
Don's answer, that he did know but he didn't think Charlie did, almost made him smile. Almost.
The truth was, Don was probably right. Charlie was running scared. He'd done it before.
He sighed as he settled into his favorite chair and picked up the book he'd been reading. More and more often, Alan had found himself wondering if Don had been right all those years ago. His oldest son had told him once that everyone was so concerned about Charlie's academic education, that they had all forgotten that a nine-year-old kid couldn't really make friends in High School or College. That a child needed some instruction on social interaction as much as on percentages, integers, algorithms, and vertices...and Alan knew he'd been right, but there seemed to be so much time. Charlie was young and was soaking up mathematical theory like a bone-dry sponge tossed in the Pacific Ocean.
If he had done wrong by his baby boy, there was no one to blame but himself. He could only try now to help Charlie take a step outside himself every once in awhile.
He couldn't hear much from the garage now, but he jumped a bit when he heard the door slam. Don came in and took a beer from his fridge and threw himself on the sofa.
Alan read a paragraph, then spoke to his son. "If you keep drinking, I'll have to call the police when you try to drive home."
Don made a small noise that should have been a laugh.
Alan put his book down and looked his son in the eye. "Give him time."
Don nodded. "I'd love to, but I don't know how much we have."
Don was putting on his bullet proof vest when he saw Charlie coming toward him. He enlisted his brother's help tightening one side, as he listened to Charlie's concern.
Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. He wanted to shut his eyes and moan, but he listened anyway. He could see the fear in Charlie's eyes, and for a moment they were kids again. Charlie had never gotten past the stage of wanting those he loved to be nearby. It was a defense mechanism. He had too often been the odd one out, the one kid unaccepted and unacceptable by the others in his age group or in his classes.
Don, jealous as a child over the special attention and treatment his brother received, hadn't quite put it all together until he'd entered college himself.
Charlie had always been the odd one out. The kid in a class full of teenagers,the teenager in a room full of adults...Doogie Howser had nothing on Charlie Eppes. Likely, that fear and uncertainty many people feel when they enter a new environment had become the only constant emotion in circles outside of his immediate family.
That had been the turning point in their relationship, and Don, always protective of his kid brother anyway, had begun to seek out his company and to try to be more of a big brother to him than he'd been up to that point. His outward actions hadn't changed. He'd always defended his brother, protected him from bullies and the like, but now, his heart was in it as well.
Yes, Charlie could exasperate him like no other, but they were brothers, and Don saw that this chatter about Heisenberg was really a plea for Don to be careful.
He nodded and walked away, crossing his fingers. "Me and Heisenberg, we're all over it."
He wasn't sure if what he said had helped Charlie, but it was all he could offer for now.
Alan Eppes knew his boys didn't always get along. He'd have had to have been a fool not to know it, and Alan Eppes was no fool.
There had always been a strong competitive streak between the boys. Natural enough between brothers, but this relationship was confused by the fact that the younger brothers was so much smarter. Not that Don was an idiot. Far from it. Don was bright. He was an excellent agent, a good detective, able to see things that others didn't or at least able to put them together and come up with a recognizable picture before others could.
Charlie's intelligence was different. He scored off the charts on IQ tests, especially where mathematics was concerned, and it was that genius that strained the brotherly affections of his boys. Charlie, like any younger child, looked up to Don. He wanted to be like him as a child, and he certainly wanted, craved, Don's approval.
Don would have been less than human if he hadn't at some point resented his brother's achievements. They'd graduated high school on the same day. What teenage boy could handle such a thing without some modicum of resentment?
Yet, Don did love his brother, and Charlie did love Don.
Love sometimes, was not enough. The boys were competitive beyond reason. Don, trying to prove his own worth, trying to outshine his brother on some level, had chosen a dangerous profession. Alan sometimes wondered if Don would have chosen to join the FBI if Charlie had beenless than he was.
It was a fruitless thought. His own unsolvable problem.
He still wondered if his boys working together was a good idea. There was much more chance of them locking horns, of them hurting each other, and Alan couldn't bear it when his sons hurt each other.
Still, he was infinitely proud of both his boys, and, recently, seeing them work together had become a joy to him. He was sure his dear wife would have relished such a sight. A sad smile came to him as it often did when he thought of her. Bittersweet was the best he could hope for when he thought of her.
When Charlie had confessed to him that it was that he'd been unable to stop working on that insolvable problem when his mother had been living out her last three months of life, sick and getting sicker, he had nodded. He remembered all too well.
Alan was like Don, though he wasn't certain Don would be glad of the comparison. He hadn't understood why Charlie had locked himself in the garage with chalkboards and chalk, and a haunted expression in his eyes while his mother lay dying inside.
Don hadn't understood it either. The arguments had grown more frequent as time passed. Don tried to convince Charlie to give it up and spend time with their mother, and Charlie tried to get Don to understand that he had to work on the problem. Alan had been convinced that his boys would either come to blows or never speak to each other again.
In frustration, and because he sided with Don in this particular argument, Alan had finally explained to his wife just what was going on between her sons. She'd listened, but she'd sided with Charlie. She understood, though she could articulate it no better than he could.
She had called the boys to her side and made them understand that they were each dealing with this as they could. Neither could expect the other to adopt his own outlook and neither should.
She'd forged a peace between them, that usually prevailed, though Alan had sensed that there were times when Charlie wished desperately for some more verbal way of communicating while Don wished he could more easily find the answers that Charlie was able to see.
All in all, he thought, as he ate his sandwich and teased Charlie for having forgotten to put the mustard out, he could see what she had seen, what she would revel in were she here. His boys made a good team.