A/N: The last chap is finally here! Now I hope you like the way I'm ending this, but if you don't well...I don't care. Well if they are like two people who don't like it, I don't care, if nobody likes the ending I'll sulk for a few days and get over it. Hehe. (Warning: Ending is fluffy!)
Dedication: This fanfic is dedicated in loving memory of my cousin Jamie Lee Peterson.
( x tears x)
(I miss you!)
Don sat in front of the gravestone for a long time, just staring at his mother's name, her date of death, the inscription Loving Wife and Proud Mother. Rest in Peace Always. He remembered the promise he'd made to her so long ago, to protect Charlie from any danger that he could prevent. He could've prevented this, or could he have? He hadn't even seen it coming. The events of the last week seemed so unreal, first Charlie had been taken, sold, rescued and nearly taken again twice. Now he was gone forever, his baby brother had joined the angels in the sky. Charlie was with his mother once again, painting rainbows and numbering the stars.
Dawn approached rapidly, but his tired eyes didn't care. The need to sleep overwhelmed him and chirping birds sang him to sleep.
White satin fluttered in front of him, and he looked up. Not believing his eyes, "Mom?"
"Donnie, my son, my baby" Margaret smiled down at her kneeling son. Taking his hand and pulling him gently to his feet.
The vividness took Don's breath away. It was only a dream, wasn't it? Why did everything seem so real?
"I'm glad you came to visit me, but you can't stay too long," her content smile seemed to brighten everything around her.
"I'm sorry mom. I let you down, I couldn't protect him. Charlie's dead," sobs escaped him as tears fought to leave his eyes and he found himself in her tender embrace.
"You could never let me down, Donnie," Margaret assured him as he broke away, feeling unworthy to be able to see her again.
"Don?" The voice startled him and he turned abruptly on the dew soaked grass.
"Charlie? Oh my god, you really are dead..." Don turned his eyes away, it was the proof he failed them all. He failed his mother, father, Tommy and worst of all he failed Charlie, and he was dead because of it.
"No, actually I'm not," Charlie smiled slightly, "Just visiting, like you. But Don, I need you at the hospital with me. I want to wake up, I need you to help me."
It took a moment for the realization to hit him, Charlie wasn't dead, "I'll be there," Don told him, "I'll never let you down again."
"You never did," Charlie answered simply, the smile graced his face once again, "I'll just hang out with Mom until you get there."
A young boy walked into the dream/vision, "You're Don, right?" He asked quietly, he looked so much like Tommy it was uncanny.
"Yeah," Don didn't know what else to say, this boy seemed to know him. Was he part of Tommy's family?
"I'm Joe, Tommy's older brother...or I was," the boy told him, "Can you do me a favor, make sure he doesn't hurt himself. Take care of him, he's seen way too much," a tear silently flowed down his cheek, "Give him a family," the boy begged. He needed to see his little brother happy to be at peace. Don knew the feeling, he'd give the child his wish.
Don nodded and turned to his mother, "Mom, I love you. I miss you," she gathered him in her embraced once again and this time Charlie and Joe joined in.
He could still feel their arms around him as he opened his eyes. He glanced at his watch, he hadn't been asleep too long. He'd wasted too much time already, Charlie was waiting for him.
He picked himself off the ground, in almost no time at all he was in his SUV and on his way to the hospital. Maybe for once, the dream would be true and not the nightmare.
The dream may have been his imagination, but Charlie was, by some miracle, alive. Don planted himself in the chair beside his brother's bed, opposite the side that Tommy and Alan sat by. Taking his younger brother's hand he whispered, "I'm here Buddy, just like you wanted me to be." He looked up apologetically at the other two occupants of the room, sorry for rushing out before anything was confirmed. He already knew he had been forgiven because of the short conversation he'd had with his father.
"It's okay Don, you didn't know and you were upset," Alan reassured his eldest.
"I shouldn't of- I..." Don struggled for the words that would show the guilt he felt for leaving his brother,
Alan gave his son a brief hug, "Tommy doesn't blame you, neither do I, and I'm absolutely sure that Charlie doesn't and will not blame you."
Don gave his father a small smile.
Amita re-entered the room, interupting the memory and took a seat beside Don as the four of them waited for Charlie to awaken, no matter how long it would take. The awkward silence was broken when Don brought up Walt.
"Amita...he didn't get away again...did he?" He asked, worry evident in his voice. He knew it was unlikely, but with the events of the past week, nothing would surprise him.
"No, he's off to jail," Amita replied uncomfortably, still feeling a little blame for tying up the agent earlier.
"Good, he's the one to blame for this, not me or you, or Charlie," Don told her, sensing her guilt and he eased his own at the same time.
"I guess I know that, I just wish I could've done more," Amita turned her eyes to Charlie's still form. He looked like he was restingly peacefully, except for the cast, sling and bandages.
Charlie's eyelids fluttered for a moment and slowly opened, "Hey guys..." he said difficultly.
"Hey Buddy, how you doing?" Don asked gently.
"Just trying to maintain consciousness," Charlie joked slighlty and Tommy sniggered at the song reference.
Don looked at Charlie confused and Alan's look matched his as Amita started chuckling too, "What was that about?" Don asked raising an eyebrow.
"It's a song about being lazy, bored and having a zero second attention span," Tommy piped up.
"That doesn't sound like Charlie at all, he get immersed in stuff all the time," Don commented.
"No, but spend any time with me and you'll get it," Tommy chuckled, sounding like a normal teenager and even though Don still didn't undertsand the joke, he was glad the boy was able to laugh.
A month later:
Nervously Charlie fidgeted outside the visiting room of the L.A. federal prison, two weeks ago a letter had come in the mail from the criminal, requesting a meeting.
"You don't have to do this you know," Amita put a hand on his shoulder comfortingly.
"I know, it's just something I need to do. Thanks for agreeing to come with me," the door opened to the visiting room just then and they watched as Lexo was led in from the other side. Charlie reached for Amita's hand and squeezed it gently as the two of them entered the room.
Shakily Charlie sat down in the chair opposite of the man who'd kidnapped him, if it wasn't for Amita's presence beside him, he'd have probably run out of the room already. Instead he acknowlegde the man stiffly, "Lexo."
"Hello Charlie, and who is you pretty friend? She's the one in the picture your brother showed me," his voice didn't sound menacing at all, but Charlie didn't trust him.
When Charlie didn't answer, Amita spoke, "I'm Amita," there wasn't any pleasantry or politeness in her voice, it was simply a statement.
Lexo nodded with a nervous smile, "Charlie? I...ask you here so I could apologize in person-"
"Apologize? After everything you put me through?" Charlie stood up quickly and nearly lost his balance. Amita pushed his back down into his chair.
"Take it easy, Charlie. You're not allowed to move too suddenly," she reminded him of the fact his head was still healing.
One of the guards came forward as if to take Lexo back to his sell and he snapped loudly, "Just one more minute."
Charlie flinched at the angry tone of voice and signaled the guards to wait, even though he was fighting the anxiety that came with just being in the same room as Lexo. His chest was tight and his fists clenched in fear, but he tried not to let it show.
Lexo took his chance and continued, "I guess I only saw you as an object to help me get my revenge...I'm sorry. I forgot that...Lexa wouldn't have done what I did if it were me."
Charlie stared at the man for a moment, not believing the words he'd just spoken. He noticed something in the man's eyes, true regret. Lexo really was sorry for what he'd done. The fear didn't quite drain out of Charlie, but he relaxed his fists and took a deep breath, "I forgive you."
Amita smiled warmly at Charlie, knowing it must have been extremely difficult to even say those three words. They had just one more thing, after the visit, to do before going back to Charlie's home, a promise Charlie had to keep.
A tear drifted almost unnoticed down Lexo's face as the guards led him away. His voice was strained with emotion as he replied, "Thank you, Charlie. Now I just have to forgive myself."
"Today's the day," Don told Tommy, it was the boy's last day in fostercare. For the past month, Alan had volunteered to foster the boy.
"Yep, I'm going to miss you guys. I'm nervous, what if they decide they don't like me?" Tommy asked anxiously, not knowing yet who his new family was.
"They'll love you, I just know it," Don smiled warmly at the teenager.
"I hope so," Tommy commented with a small gulp.
"Are you all packed?" The FBI agent asked, he didn't know who the new family was yet either, but he was going to make sure whoever they were met his approval.
"Alan said he'd pack for me, is Charlie home yet? I want to say goodbye before I go," he didn't want to leave the Eppes home at all. The past month had almost been like his old life, but no abusive or drunken parents. He didn't want to live in another strange home, even if it was a permanent arrangment. He wanted this home to be permanent.
Both of them heard Alan's footsteps as he made his way down the stairs, he wasn't carrying Tommy's duffle bag, confusing the both of them.
They looked at him with puzzled expressions and Alan just smiled broadly, "Well...since I've been wait forever for grandchildren from Don and Charlie, I think I have a better chance with Tommy here. So Tommy, I adopted you." He told them just after the front door swung open signaling Charlie's arrival.
Tears sprung into the teenager's eyes and he hugged Alan with all his might. A loud wail interupted the hug and the three of them looked toward the newest occupants of the room.
"Actually Dad, this is Jamie Lee Eppes. Well officially it's Jamie Lee Yoke, Mike's daughter. He asked me to find her right before...he "you know",and I... well I took it a bit farther," He gave Tommy a significant look, both of themhad been friends with the now deceased man,"I'm only fostering her until the paperwork comes through, but.." Charlie trailed off with a huge smile of his face. Amita stood beside him, holding the three year old little girl for Charlie because of his sling.
"Well this family just got a whole lot bigger," Don laughed and a knock was heard at the door, "Come in!" He yelled.
Terry walked into the house and Charlie immediately spoke to the agent, "Thanks for helping me find her," he guestured to the small child.
"No problem," Terry told him and made her way beside Don, linking her arm in his.
Charlie's expression became serious and he turned to Tommy, "Can I talk to in privately, Kiddo?"
Tommy nodded in a confused manner and the rest watched as Charlie led the boy into the garage.
"What is it Charlie?" Tommy asked, worried he'd done something wrong.
Charlie took the boy's wrist in a gentle grip and pushed up the sleeve as best he could with his casted arm, revealing the scars, "I don't want to see anymore of this, okay? If you need help for this, you just tell me."
"Okay, I will," Tommy lowered his eyes in shame at the fact someone had found out his secret, "Who told you?"
Charlie took a deep breath as he released Tommy's arm, "I'm a genius, did you really think I wouldn't figure it out?" He asked, deciding he wouldn't tell the boy about the vision-like dream he'd had while he was unconscious. A smile found its way to Charlie's face as he changed the subject. He pressed a can of party string into the boy's hand, "Let's go get our big brother," he whispered deviously.
The two walked out of the garage, each holding a can behind their backs, advancing on Don and Terry, "What do you guys have?" Don asked suspiciously just before pink and blue party string was sprayed all over him and Terry.
Jamie burst into giggles as the two FBI agents stood shocked for a moment, "Boys...this is war," Don's eyes narrowed in mock anger as Charlie hid behind Amita and Jamie, planting a kiss on both the toddler's forehead and Amita's lips before retreating. He tried not to move to fast, attempting to avoid his brother at the same time as Tommy ducked behind the couch for shelter.
Alan raised his head and asked the ceiling melodramatically, "What have I got myself into?"
There is the end of my very first Numb3rs fic! I hope you liked it. PLEASE REVIEW! I hope I made the ending long enough for you. I had a number of complaints about length during the story and wanted to make the ending longer as a gift. Anyways I hope I tied up at least most of the loose ends.
P.S. The song referenceis Maintain Consciousness by Relient K (NOT MINE!). Also Don's thought of Charlie painting rainbows is from a poem, I'll include a link in a review replyifyou want to read it.