Late Night Revelations
Summary: Don has a talk with his father. Sniper Zero tag.
Spoilers: Set S1. Major spoilers for Sniper Zero.
Again, thanks to devra for the alpha and support. If anymistakesremain, they'remine.
Again, thanks to devra for the alpha and support. If anymistakesremain, they'remine.
Don's heart slammed against his ribs with such force he feared it might burst right out of his chest. He's heard the gunshot and time appeared to stand still. He called out and began to run, but he wasn't fast enough.
Charlie looked up from his notes, a puzzled expression on his face, eyes searching for Don. Time regained its normal rhythm once more and Don kept running, waving his hands, hoping that somehow, someway he'd be able to outrun a sniper's bullet.
But it was too late. Don arrived as his brother collapse and Don could only stand there in horror and watch as the blood began to seep from a small hole in his chest.
Don sat up with a start and for a minute he wasn't sure what was real. The image of Charlie lying on the pavement vividly flashed before his eyes and for a brief moment Don actually believed it had happened. That Charlie was dead, or at the very least near death.
But, no, that wasn't right. Charlie was upstairs, fast asleep in his room. He reached up and wiped at his face, swiping the sweat dripping off his forehead. His heart was still pounding, as painfully as it had in his dream.
A dream, that's what it was. It was just a dream. The case was closed, the sniper was dead, and Don had spent the day helping his father and Charlie stain parts of the house. After eating dinner, and Don had decided he'd crash on the couch instead of making the trek back to his place.
Suddenly a lamp flickered on and Don blinked against the light.
"Donnie? You all right?"
Dad. Don realized the cry he'd made was not part of his dream and apparently had been loud enough to wake his father.
Don rubbed his head. "Yeah, Dad, I'm fine."
Alan didn't look convinced. "You called Charlie's name. Quite loudly, I might add."
Don winced. "I didn't wake Charlie, did I?" He hoped Charlie was having better luck when it came to getting a good night's sleep.
Alan shook his head. "You know as well as I do that only an earthquake could wake Charlie when he's sleeping."
Or a gunshot, Don mentally added and squeezed his eyes shut a second. He didn't really want to look at his father, because he knew the expression that would gracing his face.
Slowly, Don opened his eyes.
Yep, his dad was frowning. Never a good sign. He and Charlie had decided that it was best not to talk to dad about what had almost happened. Don especially didn't want to go into detail after his father had stopped by the office with a sandwich and words of advice.
/"Charlie can never say no to you./
He didn't need his father to be right.
"You said you closed that sniper case today. It was on the news. This is more than you showing Charlie how to fire a gun, isn't it?"
His father had always been perspective when it came to his son and always tended to notice when his children were lying. But most times, he'd let it slide and seemed to accept the aspects of the job Don couldn't or just didn't want to talk about.
Of course, Charlie was not supposed to putting his life on the line like Don. Charlie was supposed to be safely tucked away in his little bubble, with his numbers and his teaching job. Even consulting for the NSA didn't make him a sniper's intended target.
If David hadn't pushed Charlie out of the way...
Don could still hear that car window shattering.
Oh, crap. Alan was staring at him and the frown had only deepened. If the frown wasn't bad enough, now Alan had made himself comfortable in the armchair perpendicular to the couch.
"Tough case, Dad. Sniper cases always are."
"I would imagine that a maniac shooting innocent people would cause a sleepless night or two. And this isn't the first time I've heard you call out in the middle of the night."
Now it was Don's turn to frown. "It isn't?"
Alan nodded. "I know you have a stressful and dangerous job, Donnie, and you know that I don't like it and I worry. But you're stubborn and when you set your mind on something, well, there is no convincing you otherwise."
"You didn't say anything before," Don told him. "About me and the..." Don hesitated calling them nightmares, because doing such a thing would be admitting to his father that he'd been having them. And that wouldn't make Alan feel any better about what Don did for a living. It was easier when he lived in New Mexico. He was easier to lie about the stress of his job over the phone.
"Nightmares?" Alan finished. "And, yes, you can say nightmares, you know. I'm your father. It's not like I haven't seen you have a nightmare or two before."
"I was a kid."
"And..." Don sighed. "Look, Dad, it doesn't matter. The case is closed. I'm okay, Charlie's okay."
"Of course Charlie's okay. But right now Charlie isn't the son I'm worried about." The frown turned into a look of puzzlement. "Should I be?"
Don shook his head. "No." A moment of silence passed between the two before Don spoke again. "You're right, Dad."
"No. Well, sort of. Charlie really does listen to me, doesn't he?"
"Yes, he does. You're his big brother. But I thought we went over this. If Charlie wants to go out and do--"
"He shouldn't." Don interrupted. "Charlie is a college professor whose biggest risk should be eating food from the cafeteria on campus."
"So, I would like it to be. But Charlie doesn't and as you reminded me, he is a grown-man. I gather you didn't just teach Charlie how to shoot a gun?"
Don shook his head slowly. "No."
"Why do I get the feeling I'm not going to like this story?"
"I'm about to tell you that you were right, if that makes you feel any better," Don offered.
"Parents always try to have good intentions and we love being told by one of one children that we were right. However, being right isn't always the best thing. The news mentioned the sniper got a couple of shots off before he was stopped. Does your nightmare have anything to do with that?"
Don didn't answer.
"I take that as a yes."
"Oh, yeah," Don muttered.
"And he didn't injure or kill one of your agents, because you would have told me about that. Would have worried me, of course. But you would have told me because you only hold back when it concerns you. Or Charlie. Or your mother." The last was added almost as an afterthought, Don noticed, but that didn't make its meaning any less powerful. His mother's death was a subject that was rarely, if ever, spoken about.
"Mom made me promise," he answered. "She wanted to-"
"Do it her own way," Alan finished. "I know. Your mother was always like that. She was worried about how Charlie and I would handle it. She thought you were the strongest."
"I guess she did." Don wasn't sure if he was agreeing, but honestly, he didn't like thinking about the moment she's told him what the doctor had said, that the treatment was no longer working. That he'd spent a long night with her in the bathroom, listening to her apologize and begging him not to tell anyone. That she would in her own time.
It was a burden that had lasted a month.
"You are strong, Donnie. But even you, sometimes, could benefit from a little help." Alan stared at him, waiting for a response. Don wasn't used to asking for help. Not from Charlie, not from his father. He was used to doing things on his own.
"It was close, Dad," he finally managed. "Charlie...well, he was almost in the wrong place at the wrong time, let's just say that."
Don watched his father digest that information, watched the look of worry that flickered across his eyes. But to his credit, Alan didn't overreact as Don feared he would. "Donnie..."
"I know; Charlie's not an agent. Charlie doesn't always need to be at crime scenes and I wish I could do any and everything to protect him from the stuff I deal with on a daily basis. It's one of the reasons why I never used to bring work home."
"You always said it was classified. You never told your mother and I anything about a case. Now you bring home folders and talk about work. Honestly, I'm not sure which I preferred. Your mother hated thinking about your job."
"Mom hated violence. And guns."
"She said violence wasn't an answer."
"Yeah, well, tell that to all the people out there that think it is. All the people with guns." Don ran a hand across the top his head. "Charlie helps out a lot. He's increased my team's solve rate."
"I'm sure he has. But the point I was trying to make a few days ago, Donnie, is that he doesn't need to in the trenches of your war to do it."
"I didn't tell him to find me today. He asked David to drive him. And believe me, Dad, David and I already have had a few words about that."
"Good. But, Donnie, again, I wasn't right."
Now that wasn't something Don was expected. "What do you mean?"
"What I mean is that you and brother have some things in common. One of them is your stubbornness. If Charlie wanted to be there, he was going to be there. Sometimes he doesn't listen to anyone."
"You've got that right," Don agreed. But such a thing didn't help the image of Charlie lying on a street, literally inches from death's door. Don knew his job was dangerous, but he was okay with that. He was not okay with those close to him getting themselves nearly killed because of it.
"What are you guys doing up?"
Don turned his gaze up. Charlie stood a few feet away.
"I could ask you the same question," Don countered.
Charlie shrugged. "I couldn't sleep. What about you, Dad?"
Don immediately flashed a look at his father. Alan just gave him a small smile. "I guess insomnia must run in the family. At least for tonight." He glanced towards the clock on the VCR. "And seeing as we're all up and it's almost five anyway, who wants pancakes?"
"Pancakes sound great, Dad," Don replied. "Don't they Charlie?"
Alan got up and walked towards the kitchen, giving Don a quick pat on the shoulder as he passed him. A moment later, light spilled out from the kitchen and Don heard the clink of pots.
Charlie gave him a strange look. "What was that about?"
"What was what about?"
"You know," Charlie insisted and then his eyes widened. "You told him."
"I did not," Don lied. "We agreed not to." Don shifted so that Charlie could take a seat next to him on couch. Don noticed Charlie didn't look rested, which meant, more than likely he heard Don call out. "You okay, buddy?"
"Tired," Charlie answered, "but I can't... When I close my eyes all I see..." He sighed. "It was close wasn't it, Don?"
"Closer than it should have been. And another reason you should not leave your cell phone at home."
"I didn't leave it at home. I left it at CalSci."
Don almost laughed. "Same thing. But I really mean it, call next time. You're the only brother I have." He reached out and ruffled Charlie's head, causing Charlie to squirm. "Let's go help Dad. I want pancakes."