Strength Comes From The Heart (Revised)

A story inspiredfrom asong called "The Fight Test" by The Flaming Lips

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters in Numb3rs.

Author's notes: Many thanks to Jen for being my beta for this one story. Your kindness will never be forgotten.

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"What?" Don said as he snapped out of his trance.

"Your change," replied the cashier looking quite annoyed.

Don had zoned out completely staring at the dry cleaning he had picked up. He couldn't believe the large collection of shirts he had borrowed from his Dad. Now with them cleaned and pressed he was going to return them immediately. It was a good thing, Don thought, that my dad is retired or the poor man would not have a clean dress shirt for work.

Alan was away on a fishing trip for a few days so it really didn't matter if he returned the shirts right away. But Don was headed to Charlie's house anyway straight from work just making a pit stop at the cleaners. The two brothers had plans to meet there for dinner. It would be good, Don thought, for just the two of them to spend some time together without it involving FBI business. They had been narrowing the gap between their two different worlds. Why not help fill it in a little more with dinner and some conversation with his little brother? Don was really looking forward to it.

As Don opened the front door he could hear music coming from upstairs. Hungry for dinner,he was glad Charlie was already home.

So he bolted up the stairs, dropping off the shirts in his Dad's room minus one for the shower he wanted to take. As Don heard a break in the music he knocked on Charlie's door.

"Charlie, I'm going to grab a quick shower and then we can talk about dinner, okay?

"No problem," Charlie replied. "I'm just finishing up these papers for class tomorrow."

Don then headed towards the bathroom and hung his jacket on back of the door. Then he placed his gun and its holster gently on the vanity in the bathroom.

Being a hot day, a cold drink sounded too good to wait 'till after his shower, so Don headed downstairs. After downing a tall glass of soda and putting the glass in the sink Don headed back for the stairs. But he stopped short at the sight of a man standing in his living room, a man with a very familiar face. It took Don only a few seconds to figure out who he was. He was the brother of a young man Don had just recently help put in jail for life. Benson was his last name but his first name escaped him. And this guy Benson had never hid his anger with Don and his FBI team. In that he felt his brother was wrongly accused and convicted.

Before Don could say anything someone else—someone very strong— grabbed Don's arms and pinned them behind him. And as hard as he tried he could not free himself. Benson then started talking to Don."Do you remember me?"

Don nodded as he said the name out loud. "Benson right?"

"Ron is my first name and my brother's name is Johnny. My little brother is who you and your FBI team put in jail because you could not find the real criminals."

Don knew without a doubt that his brother had a large part in the robbery and the murder that resulted from it. He had plenty of solid evidence and eyewitnesses to back that up. Plus a jury convicted Johnny Benson. But Don remained silent with these thoughts hoping to keep this situation calm. And Don let Benson keep talking uninterrupted.

"Johnny is who I want to talk to you about, " Benson continued. "My brother had nothing to do with this and I wanted to let you know he was jumped by some inmates and beaten up badly."

"I'm so sorry," Don said now feeling really uneasy about where this was going.

"Save it, " Benson said "Your apology means nothing." Then Benson's voice changed to a low and cold level as he said, "I hold you responsible for this, Detective Eppes." Don had no chance to respond before Benson struck him in the face with his right fist.

"This is for my brother, " And then he repeated it, this time using his left fist. In pain, Don was struggling to break free from the unseen man behind him...but to no avail. Don thought about Charlie and hoped he would be safe and away from harm. He hoped he was lost in his world of mathematics and would not hear anything until whatever was going to happen was over. At least the music should block out the commotion. The music the intruders felt Don must have put on, as there was no hint they suspected anyone else was in the house.

Benson paused to ramble on some more about his brother's innocence, what a good kid he is and how Don and his FBI team were looking for a fall guy, because they did not know how to do their jobs. Then Benson told Don," I want you to feel what my brother went through today. It's only right since you are the one responsible for putting him there." And then Benson hit Don again.

The blows continued and they grew in intensity and number. And they were aimed not only at his face but his chest and abdomen. Don's strength was fading and he felt a little disoriented. He felt it would not be long before he passed out.

And then something happened that made Don question if he was unconscious already or maybe dreaming. Don heard a shaky voice that sounded like Charlie's. It was shaky, but loud and clear. "Let my brother go," and in a second Don was on the floor. When he looked up he could not believe what he saw. Charlie was standing there pointing a gun at Benson.

Not acting worried in the least, Benson spoke, "So this is the math geek. Are you here to save your brother? Because he's not worth saving." Benson kept ranting, "You don't have the guts to pull that trigger! You know it and I know it. In fact I could walk over to your hero big brother and kick him and you still wouldn't be able to do it. "

"Please don't! " Charlie said with emotion that said far more than words could ever say. Charlie hated guns...the whole idea of them and what their only purpose is for. The idea of shooting a human being was beyond comprehension for Charlie.

But Benson's arrogance kept provoking Charlie. And when Benson turned to take a step in Don's direction and possibly inflict more injury, Charlie quickly pointed the gun at Benson's leg and fired , remembering everything Don had taught him about firing a gun in that split second. Benson fell to the floor in agony and Charlie yelled at the huge nameless man to get down on the floor, too. And witnessing what just happened to Benson, he quickly complied.

Charlie, shaking, tried to release one hand from the gun to get his cell phone, but his hand wasn't cooperating with his brain's demand. Finally his hand moved and he clumsily found his pocket, then his cell phone and called Terry. She and David were on the way along with the paramedics and police.

Don had dragged himself close to Charlie while he was on the phone with Terry. And when Charlie finished talking, he tossed the phone aside and fell to his knees. He then grabbed Don with his one free arm and pulled him close, so Don was sitting up with his back against Charlie for support. Charlie was leaning up against a chair to support both of them.

Charlie had his one arm wrapped around his brother while the other continued to nervously point the gun at the intruders. "Don," Charlie said softly.

Don answered, "I'm Ok Charlie." Don knew the question Charlie was asking by just speaking his name. And Don knew he had to ease his brother's mind as he could feel his little brother's body shaking as he leaned against him.

"Trust me, I'm going to be fine. I've been put in worse shape than this in my years with the FBI."

As Don sat there, he realized Charlie was holding his gun and that he must have somehow seen what was happening and then found the gun he left in the bathroom. Don wanted to ask a lot of questions but that could wait for now. He was in a lot more pain than he was letting on to his brother. And he was really worried about Charlie and what he just went through.

Terry and David entered the house first before the police and paramedics. But they were on their way as sirens could be heard in the distance. Don tried to lighten up things by telling Charlie that Terry got here first, because by being a Trekkie, she thinks she can travel at warp speed. But there was no response from Charlie until Terry relieved him of the gun he had been holding.

Charlie immediately took his freed arm and wrapped it around Don, too.

Now with both arms wrapped around his brother, Charlie buried his head in the cradle between Dons neck and shoulder and Don could feel his shaking start to subside. Somehow with his brother's embrace Don's pain seemed to lessen.

"We are both going to be okay buddy," Don said, gently holding onto one of Charlie's arms with his hand. "You did great buddy and I'm so proud of you."

Don then reached up with his other arm and gently held his brother's head as the music continued to drift from upstairs.