Who Guards The Guardian

Author: Shimmerinstars

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters on Numb3rs.

A story spun off of a few lines from "Unbreakable Bonds."

Summary: The anniversary of their Mothers death has just past and both Don and Charlie are now working hard on an difficult FBI case.

Midway throught the case Don caught Charlie once again snooping through his things. Instead of blowing up in his usual manner and then getting past what Charlie had done. Don quietly absorbed it and has been giving his brother the cold shoulder ever since. Apologizing numerous times without success Charlie resigned himself to waiting Don out. But now with the case finally closed, the weeks of Dons cold and deliberately unfriendly behavior were beginning to get to Charlie.

Setting: A party at Detective Elliot Weavers home,a huge estate. Don, his FBI team and all other personnel involved are celebrating the closure of this long and tiring case.

The story:

A few hours of attending this party was enough for Charlie. He was frantically searching for the room where Elliot had put his guests belongings in. All he wanted to do was grab his coat and go.

He would've left without it, but in his pockets were notes he needed. Scribbles to anyone else, but important research to Charlie.

Maybe he was in the wrong hallway,disoriented by the vastness of the house, or maybe it was the pain he felt at watching Don party for hours with everyone, except him.

Charlie had become invisible to his brother and it hurt more than words could say.

Not paying attention Charlie bumps into someone "Charlie have you been drinking ." Terry giggles.

"No Terry I'm looking for my coat, do you know where Elliot put it?"

"Yes, but you're not leaving already, are you Charlie?"

"I'm not big on parties, besides I need to work on some of the projects I've neglected because of this case."

Terry was well aware of the rift between the brothers,it had started a few days after the anniversary of their Mothers death. A possible connection between that date and the brothers problems did not escape her.

Terry had asked Don about this rift when it first started. But all she got from Don was some mumbling about Charlie crossing the line with snooping, and then telling her to stay out of it. Which was'nt easy for Terry with the method Don had chosen to punish his brother. She found shutting out someone you love for the purpose of getting a message across counter productive and unnecesarily hurtful. Talking through the issues would be the way to go, but then again that was her field of expertise.

Now looking at the distress on Charlies face and knowing he was leaving because of Don. Terry was thinking maybe like Charlie with his snooping, Don has crossed the line in punishing his brother.

Enough is enough Terry thought to herself. She was going to try and do something about this and if Dons stubborn ass never spoke to her again so be it. She could'nt just sit back and watch this anymore.

"Follow me Charlie" Terry motioned as she led him down the hallway and into a large Den nicely furnished in leather.

"Thanks Terry." Charlie said as he started searching through a large pile of coats.

Terry smiled at him "Hey Charlie I'm not much of an party person myself how about I drop you off on my way home?"

"Sure its not too much trouble?" Charlie asked "I could just call a cab."

"Nope its not an problem, only thing is I left my purse with my friend Dana " "So stay put and I'll be right back."

"Don't worry I'm not going anywhere I'd probably get lost again." Charlie sighed.

Terry found her friend Dana, picked up her purse and then started looking for Don. She finally spotted him outside mingling with a small group of people near the pool. He was laughing and appeared to be having a great time, which made her angry, after seeing the state Charlie was in. Her first impulse was to push the lunkhead in the pool, but she settled for giving him a good kick in the shins.

"Ouch what was that for?" Don cried out in pain as the other members of the group tried to hide their laughter.

"Walk with me and I'll explain." Terry said in an demanding tone.

"Yeah,OK if I can still walk that is" Don whined as he started limping beside Terry.

"Stop complaining and walk Don."

"Honestly Terry what was that all about?" Don said stopping a second to rub his shin

"Your brother" Terry said glaring at him.

"I told you to stay out of it Terry."

"Hes leaving" Terry said ignoring him.

Hes leaving what the party?" Don said. "Whats the big deal, he can leave if he wants."

"Yes Don hes leaving the party... thats all he leaving for now anyways."

Whats that crack suppose to mean?

"I think you know damn well what it means!" "You're driving your brother away!"

"Hes nosing around in my personal stuff and I'm driving him away." "Lets figure this one out" Don saids sarcastically.

"Stop it Don, you know what I'm talking about." "I've seen what you've been doing to Charlie the last few weeks?" "I did'nt say anything because you asked me to stay out of it." "But its gone on long enough and after seeing how hurt Charlie looked tonight I'm not staying quiet anymore."

"What I 've been trying to do is teach Charlie not to snoop."

"Have'nt you punished him enough Don ?" "Hes leaving the party because you treat him like he does'nt exist." "Its cruel and hurtful and very unlike you Don." "You made your point about him respecting your privacy a long time ago." "Its become more than that and you know it Don."

"I do know its more" Don admitted "I just don't know what and it scares me."

"The only way to figure this out is to talk to your brother." Terry said placing her hand on Dons shoulder. "You have to get everything out in the open."

"Thats the scary part Terry, not knowing whats going to come out."

"I know Don" Terry said sympathically

"Now your brothers waiting in the Den, expecting me to drive him home...are you coming Don?"

"Before you answer that, think about all the progress you and Charlie have made in your relationship this past year." "Do you want to lose that?" "Because if you keep this up thats exactly whats going to happen, if it has'nt already."

Don did'nt say a word but continued to walk with Terry until they stood outside the door of the Den.

"OK Don its your move." "I'll stand guard so there won't be any intrusions." "Take all the time you need, anyone that wants their coat will have to get past me" Terry chuckled.

"Thank You" Don smiled his eyes full of warmth and gratitute."Thank you for always being straight with me."

Then he took a deep breathe and opened the door.

Charlie was sitting in a brown leather chair looking at some crumpled up papers, deep in thought.

"Hey Charlie" Don said nervously.standing in front of him.

Startled Charlie looked up"Don?"

"You're going home I heard?"

"Yeah I have some projects I need to work on." Charlie said stuffing the notes back in his pocket.

"Well do you think you could stay a little longer so we could talk?"

Charlie let out a short grunt of laughter "You want to talk to me Don, thats kind of funny"

"I know I've been distant lately but I was..."

"Distant?" Charlie interrupted "Is that what you call what you've been doing Don?"

"I was mad Charlie"

"So when you get mad Don I don't exist to you... is that how it works?"

"Well Charlie you would be the one that knows about shutting people out." "You've escaped into your own little world a few times."

"So whats this some kind of payback?" Charlie said looking at his brother with hurt and disbelief in his eyes.

Payback... the word echoed in Dons head and in a moment of clarity, he realized thats exactly what hes been doing these past few weeks to his brother. Shutting Charlie out had nothing to do with his snooping but everything to do with the anniversary of their Moms death. That day had caused hurt feelings to resurface Don thought he had buried for good.

Words poured out of Dons mouth and he was helpless to stop them.

"Yes Charlie thats exactly what I've been doing. I wanted you to understand how I felt when Mom was sick and dying."

"Don I know you felt I should've been with Mom instead of working on a Math problem."

" I'm not talking about you Charlie!" Don yelled angrily as he paced back and forth. "Everything is not always about you"

"I'm not saying it is Don." "I'm not sure what you're trying to tell me" Charlie said starting to cry. Dons cold behavior these past weeks and now his sudden anger had pushed hin to the breaking point.

"You hid in your own little world working on an math problem ,its where you felt safe Charlie I get it!" "But did you ever once think that I might have needed you when Mom was ill?" "You were'nt the only one that was hurting."

It was agony for Don to keep talking while his brother sat there so hurt with tears running down his face. But Don in his own unbearable pain had to finish what he had started.

"Mom and her being sick, it was the most painful time in my life and I felt so alone". "Charlie you shut me out when I needed you the most" "Thats what I'm been trying to tell you!"

Don sat down on the couch, put his head in his hands and started sobbing. The pain was still raw a year later and now he had hurt his brother deeply a second time.

Charlie quickly moved from the chair and sat next to Don. He wrapped his arms around Don and pulled him into an embrace holding him tightly. Don never wanted to cry in front of anyone, especially Charlie and yet here he was crying in his arms.

Holding onto his brother Don cried as if he had just lost his Mom.He was grieving and getting the much needed comfort he had waited a year for.

"I'm so sorry Don." Charlie repeated over and over,while he held onto his brother.

A few minutes after Don had stopped crying he gently pulled away from Charlie. Feeling a little uncomfortable about Charlie seeing him this way,Don kept his head down, as he wiped his face with his hands

"I'm sorry Charlie, I never intended for you to know any of this."

"Why Don? Why could'nt you be honest with me about your feelings?"

"I'm your big brother Charlie, I'm suppose to watch out for you and protect you."

"But who guards the guardian" Charlie said.

"What Charlie?"

"Who guards the guardian".

"I'm not following you Charlie" Don saids looking puzzled.

"What it means is who takes care of you."

"I see" smiled Don

"You have always watched out for me Don." "I think its about time I started doing the same for you."

"I think I would like that " Don said tousling the black curls on the top of Charlies head. "Ever going to cut this?"

"No way,would I look like a Professor of Mathematics if I did?

Don looked at his brother affectionately "I guess its part of the look"

"Don I am really sorry about looking through your things,sometimes I just can't help myself.."

"Its OK Charlie, it never bothered me for the reason you thought. Its something from when we were kids, I never got over." "You had a lot of Mom and Dads attention ,so I just wanted somethings to be mine alone and for you not to touch them." "I know its sounds stupid but its the way I felt then."

"No it doesn't sound stupid at all" Charlie said "It makes a lot of sense and from now on I'm going to respect that." If I want to snoop I'll just ask first OK?"

"OK" Don said" Now lets go relieve Terry from guard duty, and the three of us can celebrate a little." Thats if you can put off working on your projects a little while longer?'

"I think I can manage it" Charlie saids with a smile "Hey Don has Terry really been standing outside that door all this time?"

Hearing loud voices and yelling coming from outside the door Don laughs "Yeah Charlie and I think she needs some back up now."