Disclaimer: I don't own the characters and I don't make any money off of them.
Grieving by 3rdgal
Charlie frowned as the cab pulled into his driveway. He saw that Don's SUV was still parked there from earlier that evening. Don had told him that he was going to grab a bite to eat and then head home. Charlie glanced down at his watch. That had been five hours ago, why would his brother still be here?
He exited the cab, paid the driver, and then entered his house through the front door.
"Don?" he called out, only to be greeted by silence. He saw the mail on the table, where Don had been looking at it earlier. His jacket was still hanging on the coat rack.
Charlie moved from the living room, through the dining room, and into the kitchen, searching for his brother. "Don?" he asked again.
When he still didn't get a response, he headed upstairs. His brother had looked exhausted the past couple of days during the gang shooting case, so maybe he had decided to crash here for the night. Charlie quietly pushed open Don's bedroom door, and frowned at the untouched bed.
Charlie's concern grew as he tried to figure out where his brother might be. In the garage? That wasn't one of Don's preferred hangouts, but he couldn't think of anywhere else he might be. He made his way to the garage, rechecking rooms as he went. He entered the garage and his heart stopped as he found his brother.
Don was on the floor, slumped against the wall. Charlie rushed to his side, certain something must have happened to him. As he knelt beside his brother, he saw that his breaths were deep and regular, indicating that he was asleep. Charlie felt the need to reassure himself, so he reached out and gently pressed his fingers to his older brother's throat. He felt relief wash over him at the steady pulse under his fingers
His concern returned as he noticed tears on Don's cheeks. Don had been crying? That couldn't be; Don never cried. Charlie glanced down and saw an open, yet practically full bottle of beer on the floor next to his brother's hand. Then he saw the picture in Don's lap. It was a picture of a little girl, not even a year old, who had been a victim of the gang-related shootings.
Charlie was shocked. Don was always so detached from his cases, not that he faulted him for it. Charlie had finally begun to realize that his detachment was a crucial factor in allowing his brother to be successful as an FBI agent. But why was he emotional now? Was it the the age of the little girl, the sheer number of victims, or had the exhaustion painted on his brother's features all during this case finally caught up with him?
"Don," Charlie softly whispered, unsure as to how deeply asleep he was. When his brother didn't stir, he wondered if maybe he should just let him sleep.
Deciding that was the best course of action, Charlie sat down and leaned against the wall next to his brother, sliding over until their shoulders were touching. He reached out and gently wiped the tears away, not surprised when Don still didn't move. He knew his older brother had been having a rough time with this case, and was surprised he hadn't crashed before tonight.
Charlie sighed as he relaxed against the wall, planning on being here for a while. He smiled as Don unconsciously shifted towards him, his head settling on his little brother's shoulder. He reached over and picked up the picture from his brother's lap. He frowned as he looked at the smiling child, feeling his own emotions stir.
"Too young." Don's whisper surprised him, and he looked down to see that his brother's eyes were still closed.
Charlie swallowed. "Yeah."
"He killed himself."
"The original shooter?"
"He was just a grieving parent," Don's voice broke as he whispered.
"Doesn't excuse what he did."
"No, it doesn't."
Charlie remained silent as he thought about what a sad place the world could be. He shook his head and looked back down at his brother, who still hadn't opened his eyes. "You want to move to your bed?"
"Too tired." Every last bit of exhaustion was apparent in Don's voice.
"Alright, we'll stay here."
Don smiled thankfully at his brother's gesture of support. He'd come here tonight because he needed his family, and had been disappointed when they left. He had done it to both of them countless times, and now he knew how much it hurt. But here was Charlie, ready to spend all night on the garage floor with him because he knew Don needed him. "Thanks, Charlie."
He smiled down at his big brother. "Anytime."
Don's breathing evened back out and soon he was lightly snoring in his little brother's ear. Charlie smiled and laid his head on top of his brother's. He closed his eyes and let Don's soft snores lull him to sleep.