The credits for the movie rolled across the screen. Alan turned the volume down, then turned to his sons on the couch next to him.
Don was reclined comfortably, his feet propped up on the coffee table. Tucked securely under one arm was Charlie, who had fallen asleep. His curly head lolled against Don's shoulder, his body turned slightly toward Don. Don rubbed his eyes wearily; he had burned himself out on the bombing case, and a movie with his family was just what he needed to relax. He glanced down at his slumbering brother, then met his father's soft grin.
"I guess he was more tired than he let on," Alan commented quietly. "How long did he last?"
"Not quite halfway, I think," Don replied. "I'd hate to disturb him. I don't think he got much sleep since this all started."
"You gonna talk to me about this case?" Alan asked.
"Some other time, maybe, when it's not so fresh in my mind," Don admitted truthfully.
Alan nodded, then stood. He took a seat on Charlie's other side, then with a gentleness that only a parent possessed, slipped his arms around Charlie and pulled him away from Don. Charlie let out a slight grunt of protest, but didn't waken. His head fell against the crook of Alan's shoulder, and he fell silent once more.
Don slid off of the couch and placed a pillow against the arm. He helped Alan settle Charlie more comfortably onto the couch, then lifted Charlie's legs onto the couch as his father shook out a blanket and spread it over the young genius. Once they had finished, they stood back and admired their handiwork.
"You turning in?" Alan asked his eldest.
"In a little while," Don replied. "You go on ahead."
Alan hugged his son, then retreated to the stairs. Don watched him go, then sank into the chair his father had vacated. His eyes fell on his brother's sleeping form, allowing the feelings he'd been fighting all week finally come out of their cage in his mind.
He had nearly lost Charlie several times this week. The very thought troubled Don more than he cared to admit. He had worked hard to create an air of detachment when he worked on cases for the Bureau, and it bothered him that, within the span of a few seconds, it had all gone flying out the window. It didn't matter that he was an accomplished agent; at the mere hint of the danger Charlie had been in, Don was suddenly a panicky, overprotective big brother.
The truth was, Don didn't believe that any training in the world would have helped him. Charlie was just so naïve about, well, everything, and Don felt that it was his responsibility to protect that part of his brother. No matter how irritating it was, Don didn't think he could stand it if Charlie ever lost that wide-eyed innocence about him.
Don leaned his head back against the chair and closed his eyes. He was so tired.
Twenty minutes later, Alan crept back down the stairs to check on his sons. He smiled fondly when he found Don fast asleep in the wingback chair beside the couch. Retrieving another blanket, he spread it over Don, then stepped back to gaze at his boys. A feeling of immense pride swelled in his heart; no matter what difficulties his sons faced, they came through for each other.