Title: The Enemy Within
Author: Alice I
Rating: PG (No Sex, No Violence, No Profanity)
Summary: When Charlie turns up missing Don, Terry and David with the assistance of Jack Malone and Danny Taylor from NY start to search for him. As the team unravels the last few days of Charlie's life, Don discovers some chilling facts about his brother, and their search for him becomes a race to save his life.
Note to the reader: As the team interview the people who have interacted with Charlie for the last few days the scenes with Charlie are revealed in flashbacks. For the ease of the reader these flashback scenes have been seperated by ruled lines.
The Enemy Within
Thursday Morning 7:00 AM
Alan Eppes had not slept well after the conversation that he had had with his younger son the previous evening. It troubled him that Charlie was planning a trip without saying where he was going or how long he would be gone. He knew that Charlie consulted at times with other agencies besides the FBI and that he was not always at liberty to discuss what he was doing or where he was going, but Alan was sure that this trip had nothing to do with a consulting job.
Charlie had been under a lot of emotional stress connected with the anniversary of his mother's death. The truth be told; Alan was also having some difficulties with her loss. Even though a whole year had passed since his beloved wife had died, the pain of that loss still felt raw in his heart. Alan dealt with that pain by focusing on his son and he was determined to speak with Charlie about this trip, so he had gotten up early in order to confront him before he left for school.
Alan made French toast, which was one of Charlie's favorite breakfasts, in hopes that he would finally sit down and eat something. To Alan's dismay, when Charlie came down from his room he had his jacket on and his satchel slung over his shoulder ready to leave without even a cup of coffee.
"Charlie! It's seven thirty in the morning, where are you going without breakfast? Come and sit down, I made French toast." Alan said hopefully.
Charlie sighed wearily. "I'm sorry, Dad, I can't. I promised to drop these equations off for Larry this morning." he said as he headed for the back door.
"Charles Edward Eppes! Come back here and talk to me, young man!" Charlie froze at the command in his father's voice. It was very rare to hear his father speak so forcefully and he instinctively obeyed the command and came back and sat down at the kitchen table.
Alan was actually mildly surprised that Charlie had obeyed him and smiled inwardly. As he set down a plate of toast in front of his son, however, it was with a sober look on his face.
"Charlie, I understand that you are a grown man and can make decisions for yourself without my permission, but you also have responsibilities that you cannot just walk away from. Remember you are a home owner now, and you have a job where students are depending on you. What are they supposed to do while you are gone God knows where for God knows how long?"
Charlie shook his head looking desperately tired. "Dad, I told you already that I had taken care of everything. The utilities are set up on a direct debit payment, the taxes have been paid, Dean Cummings has arranged for a substitute for my classes and made arrangements to postpone the peer review if necessary."
Alan noticed that Charlie was rubbing his forehead and realized that he must have another headache. "Charlie, you have been having an awful lot of headaches lately, don't think I haven't noticed. You know, you really should go see the doctor." Then he slid the plate of toast closer to his son and continued "And if you don't start eating properly these headaches will not get any better. Please have some breakfast."
Charlie put his hand down then stood up from the table looking at his watch. "I've already seen the doctor, Dad, so please stop worrying. I really do want to see Larry before his first class so I've got to run. I'll see you tonight." With that he headed out the door and got on his bike.
Alan watched him from the window as he rode off out of sight, feeling better knowing that Charlie had actually gone to see the doctor. Then he shook his head and realized that he was probably being over-protective. After all, Charlie was an adult who was perfectly capable of taking care of himself.
He turned away from the window and started to clean up Charlie's untouched breakfast and felt another twinge of concern about this trip he was planning when he suddenly realized that he didn't have any idea when Charlie meant to leave.
Thursday 12:00 PM
Don seemed distracted at work throughout the day and both Terry and David noticed it, although Terry had a clearer insight than David did as to what was troubling her partner. She went over to his desk around noon and asked him if he wanted to go get a bite to eat.
Don wasn't particularly hungry but Terry looked like she wanted to talk, so he stood up and grabbed his suit coat. "Sure, I guess a change of scenery won't be too bad." They went to the park near the FBI offices and got hotdogs from a vendor then sat on a bench near the duck pond in the park.
"How are you holding up Don?"
"I'm fine. The service on Tuesday was not very easy, especially for Charlie. I didn't realize that this would be so hard for him. I mean he was barely aware of what was going on a year ago when Mom was at the end and now a year later it's like he is finally…"
Terry waited for a moment for Don to gather his thoughts. The anniversary of their mother's death was affecting him as well, even if he was focusing on his brother.
"…I don't know, Terry, it's like it's just hitting him. Don't misunderstand me, he was devastated last year when mom died, but he just bottled it all up and retreated further into that damn equation. I looked around the house and in the garage and he isn't working on it now. It's like he is just starting to deal with her death. I guess that's a good thing and I should be glad that he's facing his feelings now, even if it is a bit late."
Terry put her hand on Don's leg and said, "That isn't so out of character for Charlie, though, is it? Just because he can process numbers and variables as fast as any computer, that doesn't mean he can do the same thing with his feelings. It isn't uncommon for an anniversary to trigger the release of bottled emotions. That's basic human nature. We place so much emphasis on anniversaries as a culture: wedding dates, birthdays, holidays and even the dates that mark a person's death. It's why there are things like these services to honor the dead on those anniversaries."
Don looked at Terry and realized that she was right; but he still had a nervous feeling about Charlie. He stood up and walked over to the trash can and threw his uneaten hotdog in. "Charlie stopped by my place last night."
Don turned to face Terry who had also gotten up and walked over to him. "He was sitting on the steps waiting for me to come home actually." Terry again waited quietly for Don to continue.
Wednesday 8:30 PM
Don pulled up in front of his apartment building and saw Charlie sitting on the steps. "Charlie! What are you doing here? Are you all right?"
Charlie looked up and said "Yeah, I just wanted to talk to you."
Don came over and sat down next to his brother. They sat quietly for a moment before Don spoke. "Look, Charlie, I know that the last couple of days have been tough for you."
Charlie held up his hand and said, "That's not why I came over, Don. Last week I was out of line and I wanted to say that I'm sorry."
"Okay" Don replyed, in a cautious tone clearly expecting a 'but'.
Charlie could almost read Don's mind and smiled. "There's no but. I was wrong and I'm sorry. I also wanted to let you know that I'm going to be out of town for a while."
Don raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Where are you going?"
"That's not important, I just wanted you to know that I may be gone for a while…" Charlie could see the look on Don's face and it looked exactly like his father's did and he continued, "…and no I'm not running away from anything, Don."
Don looked genuinely confused and held up his hands. "I didn't say anything like that Charlie."
Charlie stood up and picked up his bicycle that had been resting against the railing. "I have some things that I need to take care of, but would you do me a favor…" he swung his leg over the bike and stood strapping on his helmet. "… can you keep an eye on Dad?"
Don was feeling a little odd about this conversation now. It felt too much like a goodbye. "Charlie, I'm not worried about Dad but I am worried about you. I know that yesterday brought out some buried feelings for you…"
Charlie cut him off. "Don, this isn't about Mom, or Dad or you…
It's about me and this…
…this is something that I have to do. Just remember that I love you and Dad and that I'm okay."
Charlie turned away and rode off while Don stood there staring after him "Charlie! Charlie, wait!" But Charlie kept riding down the street and out of sight.
"It was almost like he was saying goodbye, Terry."
Terry frowned and said, "Well, that is out of character. Have you spoken with your father? Does he know where Charlie is planning on going?"
Don and Terry started to walk back to the office. "I called Dad as soon as Charlie left, and he is concerned about him too. He doesn't know where Charlie is going, but he was going to talk with him about it this morning. Dad also said that Charlie hasn't been eating lately. Now that I think about it, I have noticed that his clothes are getting a little baggy. Not that Charlie is the best dressed, but still it does look like he might be losing a little weight."
Terry was starting to feel as uncomfortable about Charlie's behavior as Don. "Don, it sounds like he is slipping into depression. If he isn't eating that could be a sign, and it would certainly fit with how he is feeling about your mom. The fact that he wants to leave on some trip right now is troubling."
Don opened the door to the LA offices for Terry and said, "I know, I don't think him leaving right now is a good idea either, but what can I do? He's an adult and I can't just arrest him or force him to talk about this. He has never been the world's best communicator, so what do I do?"
Terry smiled inwardly because Don could have easily been describing himself when he said that Charlie was not the 'world's best communicator' but in a more serious tone she said, "Put a tail on him."
Don stopped dead in his tracks. "What?"
Terry pulled him aside because he had spoken so loudly that people in the hallway had turned to stare at them. "Look, it may be a bit unconventional but I'm also concerned about Charlie leaving town in his current state of mind. Our case closed yesterday and as of yet we don't have anything pending. I would be willing to take some time off, and you haven't taken any vacation in the past year so we can work together to keep an eye on him."
Don thought about that for a moment frowning. "I don't know, Terry, if it were me and I found out that my brother was spying on me, I'd be pretty pissed off. Let me think about this for a while."
Thursday 3:00 PM
Don was still sitting at his desk mulling over the idea of tailing Charlie when a vaguely familiar voice interrupted his thoughts, a voice that he hadn't heard in a very long time. "Well, I guess I heard correctly. You are back in LA."
Don's head snapped up. Standing right in front of his desk was Jack Malone. "Jack!" Don stood and shook his hand. "What are you doing here?"
"Well, it's good to see you too."
Don laughed and clapped Jack on the shoulder. "Oh sorry, you just took me… well, completely by surprise. How are you Jack?"
Jack chuckled and said, "I'm doing well. Actually I'm here to help set up and train the LA Missing Persons Squad."
"I'd heard about the new division; not that I mind sharing some of our case load. So you are still teaching at Quantico? I thought that you had gone back to the Big Apple."
"I am in New York. I run the squad back home. We've had good success in closing files so I was asked to come to LA and help to get the west coast division underway."
"Well, they couldn't have gotten a better man. How long are you in town?"
Before Jack could answer Terry came out of the conference room adjacent to Don's desk and said, "I thought I heard a familiar Brooklyn accent!"
"Terry! I hadn't realized that you were here as well. It's good to see you."
David was right behind Terry and quietly cleared his throat. "Oh, Jack, this is David Sinclair; David, this is Jack Malone. Don and I knew him when we were at Quantico together."
Jack stepped over to Terry and David and gave Terry a friendly pat on the shoulder and shook David's hand saying, "Pleased to meet you."
Don said, "Jack was one of the toughest instructors that I ever had and he delighted in making me suffer, if I recall correctly."
"Oh come on, I was a sweetheart!" Jack retorted, but winked at Terry and David. "But seriously, Don here was one of the finest young trainees I've ever seen. As a matter of fact he went on to run his own office in Albuquerque. So what brought you back to LA?"
David suddenly found that he had urgent business on the other side of the office and Terry smiled lightly and said, "I'll let you two get caught up." and turned to leave.
"What did I say?" Jack looked slightly embarrassed at the sudden departure of the other agents, and wondered if he had really put his foot in it. Perhaps things in New Mexico hadn't gone so well, but he had heard that Don was very successful a couple of years after he had acquired the post.
Don took a seat at his desk and offered a seat to his old instructor. "My mother got sick and I came home to be with her."
The look in Don's eyes told Jack volumes. His mother wasn't just sick she must have been terminal. "I'm sorry, Don, I didn't…"
"How could you know, Jack? Don't worry about it. She died a year ago. It was hard leaving Albuquerque but I'm in a good place now. I may not be head honcho, but it's good to be home. You can understand that, Jack."
Don knew that when Jack was instructing at Quantico, the one place he wanted to be the most was back in New York with his wife and girls. Don also knew that Jack's marriage had suffered from the separation.
Jack's face took on a soft look and he said, "Yeah, I know about wanting to be home." He reached into his breast pocket and took out a card and flipped it over, jotting down a number. "This is my cell, give me a call. I should be here for a week or two."
Don took the card and pocketed it. "Well, why don't you show me what you've been doing?"
Jack stood up, glad for the opportunity to move on to a less awkward situation. "Come on downstairs and I'll take you through the new squad room."
Jack led Don down to the ground floor and toward the rear of the building to a large office space with several half-partitioned cubicles surrounding a larger open area. In that open area was a large white board set up against the wall.
A young dark-haired Hispanic man walked over to Jack and Don. "Martin just sent the case files you asked for." Then he grined and said, "He also asked if you were working on your tan."
Jack raised his eyebrows but otherwise ignored the comment. "Don Eppes, this is Danny Taylor." Don shook hands with the younger agent.
Jack took one of the case files that Danny had handed to him and walked over to the white board. He pulled out a photograph of a middle aged man and attached it to the top of the board in the center.
"First we start with our missing person. We have to establish a timeline from the moment they disappear then work backward. Once we have a good psychological profile and their recent movements we can start piecing together where they have gone after they were last seen and ultimately we find them. It really isn't unlike what you do when conducting an investigation but we delve more deeply. We have to use the information from interviews of family, friends, co-workers and anyone else who has had any contact with our missing person to build the psychological profile. This profile coupled with background investigative techniques will build an accurate timeline that will lead us in the right direction."
Thursday 7:00 PM
Don decided to stop by and see Charlie. He was still uncomfortable with the idea of tailing his brother. He was hoping that if he could talk with him about this, it might ease the worry that had been churning in his stomach all day.
When he came into the house through the back door his father came out to the kitchen. "Charlie?"
"No Dad, it's me. Where's Charlie? I wanted to talk to him."
Alan looked mildly worried. "He's not home yet, although I had expected him a while ago."
Don instinctively looked out toward the side yard to where Charlie usually parked his bike. "Well, you know how he gets when he is working on something. He'll turn up soon. So what's for dinner?"
Alan shook his head and chuckled under his breath "As if you didn't know."
"What?" Don said, in mock innocence.
"How is it you always know when I'm cooking rib eye?" Alan's smile faded slightly as he too glanced out the window looking for Charlie. "It's really getting kind of late; maybe I should call his office again."
Don had fished a beer out of the refrigerator. "Again? Why so concerned Dad, did he say something about this trip that's got you worried?" Don tossed the bottle cap in the garbage and turned to his father and added, "What did he tell you about it anyway?"
Alan sighed. "That didn't go so well. He didn't tell me anything actually. I asked him about it but he just evaded the questions. I'm not sure why, but I just don't think that he should go on this mystery trip right now."
"I have to agree with you on that one."
"I've got a bad feeling about this Donnie. He left early this morning because he needed to drop some calculations off to Larry before his morning class, but that is the last I have seen or heard from him."
Don frowned and took his cell phone from his pocket to call his brother. It rang several times before going to voicemail. Don closed the phone. "His cell is on, but he's not answering."
"I know; I've called him a couple of times over the last hour."
Just then the front doorbell rang. Don walked out to the living room and over to the door quickly to answer it only to find Larry standing there nervously scratching his head. "Hello Don, Is Charles here?"
Alan stepped over to Don and Larry and said, "Charlie hasn't come home yet, Larry. Did he say anything to you this morning when he saw you before class?"
Larry looked utterly confused and ran his hand over his chin, saying, "I didn't see Charles this morning although I was expecting him. That's why I came over actually." Larry noticed Alan and Don exchange worried looks and said, "Is something wrong?"
Alan marched over to the phone and picked it up. "I'm calling the police!"
Don put a hand on his father's arm. "Dad, I am the police! What time did Charlie leave this morning?"
Alan hung up the phone. "It was about 7:30. He said that he was going to drop off some equations for Larry before his morning class. Something's wrong Donnie. He only had his school satchel with him when he left, and I checked his room. He hasn't packed anything yet and his suitcase is still in the closet."
Don was starting to feel very anxious about this and agreed with his father that something was definitely wrong. He pulled out his cell phone while checking his coat pockets for something.
He pulled out the card that Jack had given him earlier that day and flipped it over and dialed. "Hello, Jack? It's Don Eppes. Look, I have a situation and I need your help. My brother is missing."