Author's Notes: This is dedicated to N'Kala whose fabulous fic "Normal" gave me the idea to write this.
Summary: For the entirety of his teenage years, Don Eppes resented his genius of a little brother powerfully. It isn't easy being a teenager and being shown up by some sprout who gets everybody's attention without trying. But when did Don realize that he'd finally "gotten over it"?
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Damn it.
Don Eppes could remember the exact day he'd realized that he'd gotten over his jealousy of his one and only brother.
In his second year of college, Don had been lounging in his dorm room his most recent girlfriend and Amy had discovered the framed picture of him and Charlie on Graduation Day."I recognise you, but who's this?" she'd asked, pointing to pint-sized little Charlie, dwarfed in his gown and cap but proudly displaying his rolled diploma as he leaned against his brother's legs. Don had honestly waited to feel the bitter resentment that had characterized his teenage years, but it hadn't come.
And now both Charlie and their mother were all the way on the other side of the country at Princeton and Don missed them more than he was willing to admit. And then it had hit him like a lightning bolt; he didn't resent Charlie any more. In fact, he couldn't be any prouder of his genius of a baby bother.
He was brought back to earth with the sound of Amy's foot tapping and he realized he hadn't answered her question. "That's Charlie," he said simply. "My brother."
"That's so sweet of you guys; to dress him up so he wouldn't feel left out on your Grad," she'd cooed.
It had taken Don a second before it had dawned on him that she didn't understand. "No, that's Charlie's Grad, too."
"From what? Grammar school?"
"No, high school." Don had enjoyed her ignorance for a moment longer and then took pity on her. "Charlie's a genius; he's at Princeton right now studying mathematics. He's eleven."
Amy had expressed disbelief and left and Don found that he had enjoyed it so much that he repeated it with every girlfriend throughout his college years.
As time went by, the graduation picture was slowly joined by others; Charlie's convocation ceremony, Don's convocation, various other occasions like when Charlie had received a prize for excellence in mathematics the same week Don had joined his first minor league baseball team. Each and every girlfriend had not believed Don when he'd told her about Charlie.
At least, all of them, until Terry.
Six years after that day found Don in his third month at the FBI Academy, cozying up to Terry Lake in the library during a "study session". Well, technically he was studying, he just didn't think anything he was learning would be of particular use during a written exam. Unfortunately for him, Biology didn't exactly have much to do with the way Terry's body felt pressed up against his while they tried to steal each other's breath.
During a quick break while they actually tried to study their textbooks, Don discovered a wallet-sized picture of their high school Grad tucked in the cover of one book (he supposed as a bookmark) and couldn't help staring at it for a second. Now he was the one all the way on the other side of the country while Charlie was back in California and Don had to admit that he missed the bright-eyed boy who would follow him around with awe in his eyes.
Terry caught him looking at it and leaned over his arm to get a better look. "Who's that?"
"Me and my brother, Charlie, on Graduation Day."
"Smart kid, is he?"
"Charlie is so beyond smart, there are no words. He's seventeen and he's already a tenured professor of mathematics."
Don watched amusedly as Terry's eyes glazed over slightly as she considered that. "Wow. Math, huh? So, he's not just smart, he's the kind of über-geek I used to beat up to do my homework."
Don considered her for a moment and then grinned. "Then it's a good thing I didn't know you back then. I had a reputation for beating up anybody who messed with my kid brother."
Terry grinned back at him. "Yeah, good thing."
Don was just considering whether he wanted his breathing pattern screwed up again just when he'd got it back to normal, pleasurable or not, when another trainee appeared at their table. "Hey, Eppes, you got a visitor."
Don's brow wrinkled as he tried to figure out who would be visiting him. "Male or female?"
The other trainee smirked a little. "Male. And young."
"What's he look like?"
"Short, dark curly hair, dark eyes, a little nervous-looking…" The trainee trailed off as Don vaulted out of his chair and ran at top speed for the door. Terry thanked him and gathered up their books before following Don.
Meanwhile, Don had caught sight of the unmistakable hair of his one and only brother. "Charlie!"
Charlie turned and Don could see relief in the dark eyes. "Hey, Don."
"What are you doing here?" Don paused as a horrible thought occurred to him. "It's not Mom or Dad, is it?"
"No, no, they're fine. I just – it's summer vacation, and I was in D.C. for a little field trip and I thought I'd come by and see you, but if you want me to go, I will…"
Don couldn't help the tiny smile that quirked his lips as he caught his skittish baby brother's shoulders even as the teen turned to leave. "No, it's great to see you! I just, wasn't expecting you."
Don smiled fully and pulled Charlie into a quick, tight hug. "Wonderful surprise," he assured and stifled his chuckle as Charlie slumped with relief under his very fingertips.
"That's good, because I wasn't sure if you'd want to see me, what with how busy I know you are and…"
Don couldn't help it; he laughed fully and wrapped an arm around Charlie's shoulders. "I'm always glad to see you, Buddy."
Terry caught up to them just then and stared for a second at Charlie before recovering and loading Don down with his share of the textbooks. "You must be Charlie," she greeted cheerfully.
"This is Terry Lake, Charlie."
Now, Charlie may have been sheltered his entire life, and a little bit naïve about what went on in the real world, but he was far from stupid and he quickly caught on to all that Don wasn't able to say. "Nice to meet you."
"You, too. Well, I'll leave you two to catch up. Don, I'll see you later." Terry left without waiting for them to say good-bye, and Don was left with his playfully grinning baby brother. Without warning, he grabbed Charlie in a head-lock and rubbed his knuckles into Charlie's scalp while the teen laughingly struggled to get free.
"How about a quick tour?" Don offered once Charlie was finally upright again.
"That'd be great!"
"Come on, Buddy, I'll show you everything to this place."
"I missed you."
Don slung an arm around his slighter brother's shoulders. "I missed you, too, Kid."
Don was brought sharply out of his reverie by the sound of someone calling his name. He looked up to find Terry with a knowing smile on her face and grinned sheepishly. "Deep thoughts, there, Eppes?"
"I was just thinking… Remember the first time you met Charlie? At the Academy?"
Terry thought for a minute. "Yeah. I remember wondering how a brain so large could fit into someone so small."
Don chuckled. "He hasn't grown much since, has he?"
"Talking about me?" Charlie's voice queried impishly from very close to them.
Terry turned around and smiled at the mathematician. "You know it."
Charlie turned bright eyes on his brother. "I was wondering if you were interested in lunch; my treat?" he offered.
Don clutched at his chest in mock-surprise. "I don't believe it. Charles Eppes actually thinking about food in the middle of a project?"
"Wanna come with us, Terry?"
Terry looked from younger to elder Eppes and shook her head. "No, I think I'll leave you two to your bonding. Just make sure you have him back in no more than two hours and keep him out of trouble," she ordered, shaking a finger at Charlie.
Who grinned cheerfully. "Deal. Come on, big brother. There's a giant bowl of pasta at that restaurant down the street screaming our names."
When Don turned mildly questioning eyes on Terry she smiled. "Go on. We can hold the fort for a couple of hours. You guys deserve a little one-on-one time that's not about work."
He grabbed his jacket, pager, and cell phone and rose, slipping the jacket on and clipping the electronic leashes to his belt. "I'll be back in an hour."
"Better make it two," she directed more to Charlie than to Don.
"Come on, Don; I made reservations."
"Awfully certain of yourself, weren't you? And what would you have done if I wasn't available?"
Charlie shrugged innocently and flashed a conspiratorial grin at Terry as they turned to leave. "Taken Terry out for lunch, I guess."
Don's huff of laughter echoed in the bullpen as they finally exited and Terry allowed herself some satisfaction for a job well done. And Don didn't even realize he'd been manipulated.
Hah, some crack FBI agent he was.
Now all Terry had to worry about was what Don might do in revenge when he figured out he'd been played.
Granted, what with spending some quality time with Charlie, she didn't think he'd really mind.
After considering that for several seconds, Terry decided to make sure Don wouldn't have an easy time of gaining access to her apartment and the first step would be relieving him of her spare key without him catching her.
Much easier said than done. Lord help her…