Ohay, this is it :drum roll: - the end! Enjoy and don't forget to let me know it you liked :).
He truly started work a week later, threw himself into the FBI, even got a partner and a team, bringing him back to the cases he loved, the years in Albuquerque prior to Fugitive Recovery, even prior to Kim. He expected long hours, but if they yielded good results, he didn't care.
What he didn't expect was to run into Terry Lake again. As his new partner, in fact.
He was sitting at his desk, his beat up CalSci coffee mug next to him, when he saw a finger tap his keyboard. He looked up.
Terry smiled. "Guess we run into each other again after all."
"Terry. What are you doing here?" He was genuinely surprised to see her.
"I work here. I've been working at this office the last three years. And apparently, for the last year, so have you. Or at least, you were part-time." She paused. "I'm sorry about your mom."
"How you'd know about my mom?"
"Right," he said. "I forget the FBI loves to spread personal information." He noticed a ring on her left hand. "So...how have you been? You're married?" He pointed to the ring.
She looked down and quickly slide the fingers of her other hand around the gold band. "Sort of. We're separated."
"I'm sorry. But separated is not divorced."
"True," she agreed. "But in all honesty, it probably won't be long. All we do is argue and that hardly constitutes a healthy relationship."
"Ah, and since you're the psychologist you'd know all about healthy relationships, right?" He grinned.
"Very funny," she replied. "What about you? I don't see a ring."
He shrugged. "Married to the job. We thought it better not to exchange rings."
Terry laughed. "I see your sense of humor hasn't changed."
"Was that a compliment or an insult?"
"I'll let you decide." She leaned against his desk. "So, if you've checked your email, I think you know why I'm here."
"We worked well together in the Academy."
"We were dating at the Academy," she pointed out.
"And all we did was think about work. You implying something, Terry?"
"No," she said. "Not at all. I think we'll be fine."
"Of course we will," he replied. "Why wouldn't we be?"
"You got a bird?"
Don stopped at the cage and watched Dad feed the creature through the bars. "You've been working on a case nonstop, finally get a chance to stop by, and the first words out of your mouth are 'you got a bird.' I had hoped 'hi Dad' might have been in there somewhere."
"Hi, Dad," Don replied. "So a bird?"
"I like birds," Dad defended. "Besides it's too quiet around here when Charlie's at school. I think she adds something, don't you?"
"Yeah, that you need to get out more. Retirement does not mean you need a bird. Go play more golf or volunteer downtown like you used to." Don poked a finger into the cage and drew it back where the bird's beak actually got close.
"If I didn't know better, I'd think you were implying I don't have a life. And don't tease her. It's just like the hamster all over again."
"Hey, that was Charlie's hamster and Charlie's calculations that convinced him he could fly. And I didn't do anything."
Dad shook his head. "Fine. I see the files on the dining room table. Something tells me you're not just here for dinner."
"Not originally...although what's for dinner?" Don backed away from the cage and started flipped through the folders he'd brought with him.
"Steak," Dad answered. "Shall I set you a place?"
Don mulled it over. "I could stay awhile."
"Of course," Dad said with a grin and left the bird to disappear into the kitchen. He returned with plates. "So you never bring work here. Security risk, I believe was your reasoning."
"It is. But I need a mathematical perspective before I head back to the office."
Dad raised his eyebrows. "Mathematical perspective? You're going to ask Charlie for help?"
Don shook his head. "Not help. Just perspective. It's a stock fraud case. I could use some numbers."
"I'm sure." Dad grinned. "You know, Charlie will be excited."
"Yeah, well, he better not get used to it. Math isn't everything."
"Right. Try saying that around your brother. But you remember how much you complained about Charlie getting into your things." Dad started laying out the plates. "You stayed in Los Angeles. It could happen again."
"One case, Dad. Charlie's world is numbers. We're as different as brothers can get, you have to admit that."
"In some ways, yes. But sometimes you and Charlie are more alike than you think."
"Uh huh," Don replied, rolling his eyes. No way. He and Charlie were part of two different worlds.
He and Charlie were part of two different worlds. At age three, Charlie could do Don's math homework and Don thought it was wonderful because all he wanted to do was play baseball.
Years later, Don's priority, his passion, had changed, and Charlie was still entwined in math, barely exploring the other opportunities the world had to offer.
Don had been there, and yet, here he was back in Los Angeles. Just like Charlie.
They did so many things differently and wound up in same place in the end. There had to be a reason.
Mom told him that Charlie listened to him; Dad said Charlie looked up to him. So when Don laid those things side by side, even considered all things Charlie did that he never understood and added his own jealously into the mix, he came to the same conclusion.
He missed his little brother. Missed looking out for him. Even missed Charlie putting his nose where it didn't belong.
It was all part of being the older brother.
Don checked his watch and climbed the stairs towards the math department. A slight detour to Larry's office had revealed that Charlie had office hours at one. It was a rare day in between time sensitive cases, and Don intended to try and have lunch with his younger brother.
He heard voices when he approached the door. Charlie was sitting with a pretty curly, dark-haired woman. Charlie was pointing to a text and she was nodding. Don figured she was a student and didn't want to intrude, but Charlie looked up and spotted him.
"Don," he said. "What are you doing here?" He appeared to be extremely surprised.
"It's lunchtime. I figured we could, you know, have lunch."
Charlie smiled. "Lunch is good. But don't you have a case?"
"Nothing that can't wait an hour. I needed to get out of the office." Don figured it sounded lame. "But you have a student. I can come back."
Charlie got up. "No. Amita and I were just finishing." He looked at her. "Right?"
She nodded. "Right. I'm going to run some more numbers before tomorrow." She closed the book and pushed it into her bag.
"Sounds good," Charlie told her as she walked out.
Don watched her leave. "She's a student?"
"A graduate student, yes. I'm her thesis advisor."
Don raised an eyebrow. "Thesis advisor, huh?"
"So not happening. It would get me fired. Besides, I thought you were here for lunch, not to play matchmaker like Dad."
"Dad is excessive, isn't he? Him and the quest for grandchildren."
"Yeah, well, I don't want pressure. I mean, you know me and..."
"The opposite sex? Don't worry it's not just you."
"You had problems?" Charlie asked in disbelief.
"Of course not," Don answered. "But I know other guys that have."
"Of course." Charlie shook his head. "So you really came all the way across town for lunch?"
"Yes. You're my brother, Charlie. Why it is so surprising that I'd want to have lunch with you?"
"It's not surprising, it's..." Charlie paused a moment. "I'm glad you came."
Don just smiled. "Me, too. Now, food?"
"Right. Let me lock up."
Don had been nine when his three-year-old brother could do his math homework.
He was thirty-five when he discovered that, between two brothers, such a thing shouldn't really matter.