"Yeah, it's going to be great to have you back at work," Colby said as he tipped his beer toward his boss.
"Thanks, guys," Don answered as he gave them a big smile. "I'm really looking forward to it. I've been a little stir crazy the past few weeks."
"Only a little?" David asked jokingly.
Don's smile grew. "Okay, so Charlie threatened to move into his office for a couple of days. He was overreacting."
Colby and David both laughed, happy to see their friend back to his normal self.
Don smiled again and took a swallow of his beer, as he surveyed Charlie's living room. "Hey, have you guys seen Megan?"
"Yeah," David answered. "She's outside on the porch with Larry. They've been out there talking ever since we finished dinner."
Colby leaned closer to Don. "Hey, is there something going on between them?"
"Are you blind, Granger?" David asked incredulously. "It's printed all over their faces."
"I still say no way. I mean he's a smart guy, but him and Megan? Don, come on, back me up here."
"I think," Don paused dramatically. "That I'm going to go find Charlie." He grinned at Colby and David's crestfallen expressions. "Later, guys."
As Don moved into the dining room, he almost ran into his father. "Hey, dad, what's the hurry?"
"Charlie's just starting to realize how much there is to clean up after tonight. I thought the wise move on my part would be not to be there when it finally sinks in." When Don laughed, Alan quickly continued. "You haven't seen the kitchen yet, have you?"
"No," Don laughed. "That bad?"
"It's barely recognizable." Alan let out a brief chuckle before fixing his oldest son with an intense gaze. "It's so good to hear you laugh again. To see happiness in your eyes." Alan's own eyes threatened to tear up. "Charlie feels the same way. That's why he planned this dinner, to celebrate your recovery."
"Charlie planned this?" Don asked in amazement. When Charlie had invited him, he hadn't mentioned it was his idea. He'd just told him when and where. Don had assumed his father was responsible for the dinner itself.
"Yes, he did, Donnie."
"Thanks for telling me, Dad."
"I thought you should know." There was anguished groan from the kitchen. "Uh oh, gotta go."
Don drained the last of his beer before entering the kitchen. He found Charlie leaning against the counter, hands covering his lower face, as he studied the mess that surrounded him.
"Charlie?" Don asked with laughter in his voice. "You okay?"
"One meal," he groaned in disbelief. "All of this is from one meal."
"Well, at least it was good."
Charlie shot his older brother a playful glare. "I can cook, you know, You don't have to sound so amazed."
"Sorry," Don apologized as he leaned on the counter next to his brother. He studied the kitchen, shaking his head at the number of dishes strewn everywhere. "How long do you think it's going to take you to clean up?"
Charlie's face suddenly lit up. "Actually, it's not going to take me that long at all."
Don looked at his brother's face, frowning at his gleeful expression. "Wait a minute..."
"I said you owed me big time. I think it's time for me to collect."
"Dishes," Don protested. "We were talking about dishes."
"I never specifically said dishes."
"Come on, Charlie..."
"I tell you what, you do the dishes and I'll take care of the rest of it. How's that sound?"
Don smiled. "Deal." He stuck out his right hand.
Charlie reached out an grasped it in a firm handshake. His smile grew as he felt the strength in his older brother's grip. He couldn't help but look up into Don's face, locking gazes with him, enjoying the knowledge that Don could see his expression as well. It had taken some time, but Don was finally back to normal. "It's good to have you back."
Don nodded firmly, before lightening the mood. "You're just saying that because I'm helping you clean up."
"You see right through me." Charlie teased.
"And don't you ever forget it."
A/N: Thank you to everyone who read and reviewed. I appreciate all of your feedback and comments. Hopefully I'll have another story going soon.