Title: Breathe
Author: N'kala
Disclaimer: They're not mine.
Summary: Post-ep for Sniper Zero. Don reflects on how close he came to losing his brother.
Author's Notes: Hello, bandwagon! I was watching Sniper Zero again and I wanted to see more reaction from Don. Just a quick little drabble. ?

Breathe

In. Out. In. Out.

Don's eyes stared intently at Charlie's still form as he slept, blissfully unaware of his big brother's presence in his room in the dead of night. Moonlight shone through the window, spilling onto Charlie's bed and bathing the room in a soft, amber glow. The room held silence, broken only by the gentle rhythm of Charlie's breaths, but Don could still hear the echo of gunshots from that afternoon.

In. Out. In. Out.

Don's eyes slid shut, his mind replaying the day's horrific events for the thousandth time. The gunshots, the confusion on Charlie's face, the window of the police cruiser shattering only seconds after Charlie had moved . . . and he had been too far away to help. Too far away to protect Charlie.

In. Out. In. Out.

They had been lucky. The sniper had missed . . . David, by some miracle of God, had turned and dove at Charlie, just in time . . .

In. Out. In. Out.

The terror Don had felt was like nothing he had ever experienced before. Not even on his most dangerous cases had he been so utterly frightened. His stomach had twisted in knots. His chest had tightened, even as his heart raced. An icy chill consumed him even now, hours later. Don's breaths came in as sharp gasps, his hands wringing in his lap. An image of Charlie lying on the ground flashed before Don's eyes.

In. Out. In. Out.

Don's eyes snapped open and locked once more on his little brother. His own anxiety seemed to abate with every breath Charlie took. The gentle rise and fall of Charlie's chest sent a wave of calm washing through Don, soothing the fear as it fought to rise yet again. Unconsciously, Don began to breathe in time with Charlie, matching his brother breath for breath, feeling himself relax under the gentle rhythm.

In. Out. In. Out.

"Don?"

Don's head turned at his name, his heart rate spiking momentarily at the sudden intrusion into his solitude. It took Don a full minute to recognize his father's robed figure standing in the doorway to Charlie's room, watching his sons with a concerned look.

"Don, is everything all right?" Alan asked quietly, so as not to disturb his youngest's slumber.

Don stood and crossed the room, joining his father in the hallway. He left Charlie's door cracked, just enough to be able to see his brother without waking him.

"Dad, what are you doing up?" Don whispered. "It's late."

Alan cocked an eyebrow. "Exactly my point. What is it, Donnie?"

Don sighed, his eyes flickering over to Charlie before settling on his feet. "Nothing, Dad. Everything's fine. I just . . . I couldn't sleep."

Alan's gaze was scrutinizing; he knew his eldest was holding back, but chose not to pry. He nodded. "If you need to talk . . ."

Don flashed him a weary smile. "I know, Dad, thanks."

Alan held his son's eyes for a few moments, then moved back into his bedroom. Don watched him go, then nudged Charlie's door open slightly.

Charlie let out a soft moan and turned in his bed before settling back beneath the heavy currents of slumber. Don folded his arms tightly across his chest, hoping to block out the sudden chill that had pervaded him.

In. Out. In. Out.

They had been lucky this time. How long would that last?

THE END