Disclaimer: I don't own 'em.
Summary: In the wake of disaster, Charlie is the only thing that stands between life and death for his older brother.
Author's Notes: Thanks so much for the wonderful reviews! They've kept me going on my latest projects. I'm currently outlining a possible sequel to 'Time Bomb', but in the meantime, this little thing popped into my head. Enjoy!
Bands of soft, glowing light filtered through the tall windows of the living room, warming each spot they touched. Birds chirped merrily nearby, celebrating the dawn of such a beautiful day. Alan Eppes settled comfortably in his favorite chair in the living room with a sigh and shook out his newspaper.
The peacefulness that had descended upon the Eppes home was suddenly broken by the sound of a slight rumble, which grew louder with each passing second. The floor began to tremble, the objects sitting on shelves wobbling precariously in their spots. Alan set his newspaper aside and stood, pausing for the briefest of moments to gauge the seriousness of the quake.
A picture frame slipped off of the wall, falling to the floor with a thud. More objects jumped off of their shelves, but thankfully all landed on the carpet without breaking. After several more moments, the shaking stopped.
Alan sighed with relief. It hadn't been too bad this time. Not much more than a five on the Richter scale, he'd wager. Stopping only to pick up the frame from the ground and set it on the table, Alan headed for the stairs.
Silence met him as he climbed the staircase and headed for his youngest son's room. Charlie had been working late the last few days on a major project for his friend Larry and had not gotten much sleep. Alan knew that he would be sleeping in this morning, but with the quake, he wanted to check on Charlie and make sure he was all right.
Gently pushing the door to Charlie's room open, Alan slipped inside and went to Charlie's side. Charlie lay sprawled beneath tangled bed sheets, still asleep. Several piles of books had slid to the ground during the quake, but in the otherwise chaotic environment, Alan would never have noticed had he not been in the room the day before. Smiling softly, Alan laid a gentle hand on Charlie's head, sweeping his unruly locks away from his eyes.
Charlie stirred at the touch, opening his eyes to bare slits. His brow creased slightly. "Dad?" he mumbled tiredly. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing, son," Alan whispered. "Just checking up on you. Go back to sleep."
Charlie nodded faintly and closed his eyes. Within moments, he had succumbed to slumber once again.
Satisfied that Charlie was all right, Alan turned and headed back out the door. Closing it firmly behind him, he retreated back to the living room to straighten out the mess that the quake had left behind.
"Donnie! In here."
Don followed Alan's voice through the house and into the kitchen. He found his father standing with a broom in his hands, sweeping up what looked like glass.
"Hey, Dad, what happened here?" Don asked.
Alan shook his head. "Some glasses got knocked over this morning, and I didn't know it until just now when I stepped on a piece."
"You okay?" Don asked, concerned.
Alan stooped down to sweep the shards into the dustpan. "Yeah, fine. I was wearing my shoes at the time, luckily. So how's it going? I haven't seen you in awhile."
"It's going pretty good," Don replied. "We just wrapped up our latest case last night. I'm thinking about taking some time off to relax."
Alan dumped the glass into the trash, his eyes studying his eldest son's form more closely. "Are you my son?"
Don chuckled appreciatively. "Hey, I can take a day off if I want to. Listen, is Charlie around? He's been hounding me the last couple of days about some equation or something that he wanted me to see. I figured I'd stop by and see it."
Alan put the broom and dustpan away, a thoughtful frown creasing his face. "I didn't know that he was working on anything for you."
"He wasn't," Don assured him. "I'm not exactly sure what he's talking about. You know Charlie. Always ten steps ahead of everyone else."
Alan smiled at that. "Well, he's at his office right now. He said he had some last minute research he needed to take care of, and that might be it. I know he finished his project yesterday."
"All right, I'll go track him down there," Don replied. "See you later, Dad."
"Okay," Alan called to his retreating back. "You coming by for dinner?"
"Wouldn't miss it!"