Unbreakable Bonds

It was nearing the end of a very productive work day for Don and his FBI team. Along with Charlie's help they had solved a long and frustrating case. And in the process had saved many lives. Finishing up the last of the loose ends and paperwork himself Don was finally leaving the office. He hopped in his car and was headed to his childhood home and a home cooked meal curtesy of his Dad. He should have been in a better mood but something was eating at him. And as hard as he tried he could not surpress it, He knew he was wrong in feeling like this. But Don was irritated at how long and hard his FBI team had worked. And then how Charlie had just swooped in late in the case and was responsible for the big break through...thus solving the case. "Why does Charlie make it look so easy and me feel so dumb" Don said out loud "Thats not true" Don said arguing with himself. "He worked just as hard as anyone else and he was only helping because I asked him to". "God why am I thinking this way" Don continued talking out loud to himself as he drove. He loved his little brother more than anyone else on the planet and was very proud of him. Yet feelings of jealousy and insecurity about himself would creep into his thoughts occasionally. Telling himself to end this train of thought right now Don said "Ok I'm almost there and this is ridiculous. It was a team effort all around and everyone contributed to solving this case. And its not who did what but the lives we saved that mattered" The logic in the statement put those thoughts of his to rest... at least for the time being.

Don parked his car in front of the house and as he stepped out his face was caressed with a warm breeze. And with it came a flood of childhood memories And for a moment he paused and smiled at images of summers past with his Dad, Charlie and his beloved Mom. It was one of those perfect summer nights where you could see the stars clearly in the dark sky. Don quickly spotted his moms favorite constellation named "Orion" Seeing that cluster of stars was a connection to her he treasured.

As he approached the front door he could smell his Dads tomato sauce. Don thought about how wonderful that smell is and pictured his Dad in the kitchen preparing the meal. Charlie would be scurrying around setting the table at his fathers request. He stepped inside with a smile and a warm hello. And was greeted in the same way by Alan and Charlie as they darted out one at a time to welcome Don.

Dinner was delicious which is no surprise when Alan cooked. And he sure did enjoy being creative in the kitchen. But tonight as the conversation shifted from topic to topic food was the last thing on Alans mind. He was busy marveling at the growing bond between his sons. And it warmed his heart to see this.

Well Don and Alan gave Charlie no choice as to who had clean up duty. As they made a bee line for the living room to catch the opeing pitch of the ballgame. Charlie did not mind as he had escaped dishwasher duty the last few weeks. Besides it gave him a chance to think about what was said at the dinner table. Alan and Don had once again brought up the subject of Charlie asking Amita out. And he had given them the same valid reason for it not being possible. There was school rules and they had to be followed. But as Charlie rinsed each dish and put it in its proper place. He knew it wasn't the rules alone that kept him from dating. He was lost outside his world of mathematics. Not only was Charlie lost he was afraid. Afraid to be in a relationship. And equally afraid that he would never have one. Charlie wonders if Don can understand how much a relationship full of uncontrollable and unpredictable emotions terrifies him. Don does not fully understand how my mind works. But he is the smartest, bravest, most caring person I've ever known. And Don loves me even when he can't figure me out. So maybe I can talk to Don. I really need to talk to Don.

Even fully grown Charlies Mom knew her genius son was emotionally and socially a child in an adult world. She believed in balances in this universe and figured there had to be compensation in his make up for the gift of genius he was born with. And so with that big heart came the innocence and vulnerabilty of a child. And she knew it was a wonderful thing to see the world through a childs eyes. But when it came to emotions like love or loss she knew it would be a difficult road for Charlie. In Don she would find comfort with his love and instinctive protectiveness when it came to Charlie. Even ill she would smile at the way Don looked out for Charlie. " Like a mama bear protecting her cub" she would say. But Charlie would not get away with things as easily with Don like he did with his parents Tough love was a thing he needed occasionally and she knew he would get that from Don.

Don knows his genius brother is still a child in many ways. He did not understand when his mom was sick why Charlie stayed in the garage when he could have spent time with her. But eventually he realized Charlie handled things the only way he could. Even if Don did not get it himself. If his Mom understands this how can he not find a way to accept it. The only remaining piece of unacceptance Don keeps...is tucked deep down inside himself. Where hopefully no one else will ever see it. During their Moms illness and grief following her death there is anger and hurt that stems from Don himself needing comfort from Charlie. He is angry and hurt that Charlie left him alone when he needed him most. Don wanted to tell his brother my being upset was not so much about not understanding you but that I needed you Charlie! I needed you buddy so badly to help me through my pain. But how could he tell his baby brother this when he was lost in a world of his own pain.

Don wonders why his head and the thoughts in it won't stop racing. But he chalks it up to exhaustion. Knowing that did not stop them so they continued... How could Charlie one of the smartest guys on the face of the earth not know when a girl likes you? Or when a girl wants you to ask her out? Then Don realizes with a chuckle that he knows quite a few guys like that. Ok those guys are clueless but Charlie is an entirely different story. Hes still an innocent in so many ways and the idea of asking a girl out must look like an impossible feat for him and also very frightening. Don wants desperately to help Charlie in any way he can. But how can he start this conversation? Hoping Charlie approaches him if he needs to talk Don focuses back on the televison..

As Don watches the game it reminds him once again of the case hes just closed. Using Baseball hes comparing himself to a player making a good fielding play. Unless you are familar with the sport you might not understand the diffculty of a defensive play. And it may be overlooked. But the one thing that always sticks out in baseball is the hitting In particular a homerun and Charlie hit a grand slam today with this FBI case. Where as Don made some good but not so noticable defensive plays.

In his head Don is screaming at himself to stop! Why doI keep going back to this? There is no freakin reason to be thinking like this. There is no "I" in team and the FBI is a team too. And Charlie is partof this team and I am glad he is. I love working with him and getting to know him better. Don wishes desperately his brain had a turn off switch.

Alans suggestion of ice crem sundaes is the diversion Don needed and he hops up to help. In fact he takes over making the sundaes himself with his brother watching from inside the kitchen doorway. When hes just about finished Charlie steps in to take a sundae for himself and Alan. As Don hands him the two sundaes Charlie tells him "Show off" with a grin. Don looking perplexed asks "What" Charlie answers him "Don you just solved the toughest case the FBI has seen in years , you helped win the bureaus baseball game with your two run homer not to mention the two outstanding catches you made in center field. And now you made the perfect sundae" "Is there anything you can't do exceptionally well" Don looked into his brothers twinkling eyes...eyes that held only innocence, truth and unconditional love for his big brother. Don smiled back giving him an affectionate nudge. "Thanks! You didn't do so badly yourself buddy"

Stepping into the living room Don sank back comfortably in his seat. and started digging into his sundae. While he, Charlie and his Dadenjoyed the remainder of the ball game. Thinking about what his brother said Don looked over at him curled up on the couch eating his ice cream just like a kid. He glanced over at his Dad and they both smiled. "It doesn't get much better than this does it Donnie"? Alan said looking at his oldest son with eyes that radiated the love the man felt for his sons. And Don thought to himself...No truer words were ever spoken!