Disclaimer: Numb3rs, I don't own no stinking Numb3rs. Except Numb3rs does not stink of course. I just don't happen to own it.
A.N.: By request I'm adding one more little chapter to this Charlie driving story. I would like to thank deichtine. You gave me the idea I needed for this chapter. Enjoy. Oh, andMargaret is the name I picked for Mrs. Eppes first name.
Alan pulled carefully in the driveway. The moment the engine was turned off Charlie jumped out of the car and ran to the house. He disappeared through the front door. Alan shook his head and looked back to see Don parking next to him. The younger man turned off his and pulling out a duffel bag.
" I told you,"Alan said, " Both of you have the same expression when your brooding."
Don closed his car door loudly.
" Don't even joke like that," he said as he and Alan headed for the house.
" Who said anything about joking," Alan commented.
He and Don walked into the house. Don had just enough time to let his duffel bag down before his mom ran up to hug him.
" Hey, mom," he said returning her embrace.
Finally letting him goMargaret said, " It's good to have you home, Donnie."
Don blushed at the nickname.
" Would you stop calling me that, mom," he jokingly complained, " It's embarassing."
" You let your father do it,"Magaret replied, replaying an old game between her and Don.
This time Don had a comeback, " There's a difference between a dad nickname and a mom using a dad nickname."
" Oh, I'm so sorry," she replied, " I had no idea."
SuddenlyMargaret grew very serious. Turning to Alan she said, " Did something happen while you were giving Charlie his lessons?"
Alan and Don looked at each other. Don turned towards the stairs while Alan looked at Margaret
" Why would you ask that?" Alan asked, trying to play innocent.
Margaretwas not fooled. She knew the three men well enough to know something was up.
" Alan," she said seriously.
" Okay, okay," Alan said holding up his hands, " Charlie had a little trouble behind the wheel."
" What sort of trouble?"
" He wasn't used to steering," Alan replied.
" Or parking," Don muttered.
Alan shot Don a look. Margaret looked at Alan and then at Don.
Turning back to Alan she crossed her arms and said, " He was mumbling about never driving again."
Alan silently swallowed.
" I don't think he means that, dear," Alan said, "It's probably just nerves. Donnie, didn't you say you would never drive again the first time you went out?"
Don shot his dad a questioning look. Alan nodded towards Margaret.
" Oh, yeah," Don said catching his dad's drift, " Really, Mom. Charlie just got scared driving for the first time. It happens to everyone. He'll probably do a few equations and be fine tommorrow."
" If you say so," Margaret said. She looked at the stairs, worry written on her face.
" So what's for dinner?" Don said, changing the subject fast, " I'm starving."
Margaretshook her head.
Smiling she said, " I think the only reason you come home is to have a home cooked meal."
Don laughed and replied, " Is there a better reason?"
Again Margaret shook her head and headed towards the kitchen.
" It's a suprise!" she called out behind her.
The minute she disappeared Alan and Don shared a look of relief.
" Thanks," Alan mumbled.
" No problem," Don answered, " I know how mom gets when something happens to Charlie."
" Let's just hope what you said comes true," Alan said.
Don nodded but said, " Even if Charlie decides never to drive again. I doubt he'll tell mom why. He likes having his own privacy."
Alan nodded in agreement.
" You better get that bag up to your room," he finally said, " And the bed is already made for you."
" I bet the rooms clean, too," Don said as he picked up his duffel bag.
Alan shrugged as he headed for the living room.
Don ran up the stairs. He was barely aware of a glimmer of movement at the top. Looking around he caught the door to Charlie's room closing ever so slightly. Shaking his head he walked across the hall to his own room. Opening the door he smiled to see the sight of a clean room.
Dumping his duffel bag he fell onto the bed. Reaching up in a familiar hand motion he found the on button for his radio and pressed it. Closing his eyes he let the sound of blaring music wash over him.
For an immeasurable amount of time Don lay on his bed. Suddenly he became aware of motion beside him. Opening his eyes he saw two brown ones inches from his face.
" CHARLIE!" Don yelled, bolting up instantly.
The teenager pulled away from his brother. His face was expressionless. Don stared at him taking in a few deep breathes. Finally he turned off the radio.
" What are you doing!" he yelled at Charlie, " Haven't you ever heared of nudging a person awake!"
The younger man just looked at him. His eyes shot an unconcerned look in Don's direction.
" Mom sent me to tell you it was time for dinner," he repliedplainly.
" Oh," Don said, holding back a thousand more retorts. Standing up he stretched.
Charlie stood there watching. Don looked at him. Charlie had grown a lot since Don's last visit. He definitely wasn't as gangly as he had been. There was also more confidence in his stance.
As though he'd seen what he needed to see Charlie turned to leave.
" Charlie, wait!" Don called out.
The teenager stopped and looked at his brother.
" What?" he asked.
" You weren't serious when you said you'd never drive again, were you?" Don asked, deciding to take the direct aproach.
" Yeah, I was," Charlie said, his eyes glinting angrily.
" Why!" Don replied, " Driving's awesome!"
" Maybe to you," Charlie replied, " But..."
" So you made a mistake. It won't kill you," Don replied.
Charlie lowered his head.
" Oh, come on, Charlie!" Don said walking up to his brother.
Grabbing his shoulders he said, " How can you say driving's not awesome! I talked to Dad. He said you drove him and Mom crazy trying to get him to let you go get your permit."
Charlie pulled away from Don. Backing against the wall he looked up. Don was suprised to see the anguish in his eyes.
" Don't you think..." Charlie said, his voice a mixture of anger, frustration, and hurt, " That I wanted to drive. God, Don! It's the one chance I've got to be free. To go where I want when I want. To not have to depend on Mom, Dad, or even Larry to take me anywhere! Do you know how much I've wanted to be like...like you!"
Don stopped as if struck. Charlie looked at him, his breath haggard.
" But I can't deny what the data tells me," Charlie said, his voice a near whisper, " I can't stop the calculations! You can go on and drive and never worry. I can't!" his voice grew to the point of cracking, " Please, Don! I wanted to drive so badly, but...It doesn't work in the world as I know it."
Suddenly Don understood. Charlie did want to drive! It wasn't a question of will at all. It was the fact that in Charlie's logical world, driving didn't work. His factors were all wrong for it. Don felt his guilt fill him. Once again he had thought the "worst" of Charlie and had been proven wrong. Along with a guilt came anger. Anger at the world which made sense to Charlie but not to him. The world that had made it so he had to almost fend for himself. The world that was prohibiting his little brother from doing the very thing he wanted desperately to do.
" I'm sorry, Buddy," Don managed to say, realizing how silent it had become.
" It's no problem," Charlie mumbled, turning to look out Don's window, " Forget it."
Silence again filled the room.
Finally Charlie said, " You won't tell anyone, will you? About my flipping out, I mean."
" No, man. No way," Don replied, and he smiled his big brother smile.
Charlie smiled back. The delicate aroma of their mom's cooking rose up to meet them.
" Ah, ribeyes," Don said, takinga wiff, " Come on, Charlie, let's get down there."
" After you," Charlie repliedm holding a hand out.
Don smirked at him and walked out of the room. Charlie followed closing the door.
" So who is this Larry you were talking about?" Don asked as they walked downstairs.
" It's a long story," Charlie replied, " You see..."
The two brother's joined there parents in the kitchen, a new bridge of understanding reached.
Thank You all for your reviews. Pheww. I love this story, but it was you guys who pushed for it's end. Hoped you enjoyed it.