Disclaimer: I don't own any rights to numb3rs or the characters therein.
Summary: Well, maybe it's going to be a little weird, but hopefully sweet later on. What the heck- it's what fan fiction's for, right? Basically, Don gets kidnapped by a psycho psychologist who thinks he and her son were switched at the hospital 37 years ago; her son died when he was three, so she uses shock treatment to try to get Don to become the little boy she never had. As he starts to enjoy playing his new role of big brother, will Charlie be a help or a hindrance in Don getting back to normal? Or does Charlie want to be big brother forever?
Rated T for the little bit of torture and a couple swear words- not as much as others rated T.
Alan stood in the hallway of the institute, looking nervously at the clock. He had been stuck in traffic, so he had arrived past 8:00; that meant he was past the established bedtime and he would not be able to talk to his son. Putting that aside, he at least wanted to see him- touch him, maybe hold him.
It had been over two months since he had last seen him, so he knew that no matter what the doctor suggested, he would demand to be let into his room- even if he had to use force.
He started to pace. There was a skeleton crew on duty, so he had no one to talk to, no one to ask questions. The one nurse on duty behind the front entrance desk was busy on the phone, she herself walking back and forth as she put files away and tidied up. Alan wished he had something to do with his hands, finally forcing them into his pockets to keep from wringing them.
Charlie had wanted to come, whining that he missed Don; but after Alan talked to the doctor the day after finding Don- after Alan talked to Megan the actual day they found him- he decided it would not be a good idea for Charlie to see his big brother in the state he was in. Alan held out hope that his eldest son would be able to return to normal, and knew it might destroy Don and Charlie's often fragile relationship if Don could not believe that he had always retained the role of protector in the eyes of his younger brother. So, Alan had come alone, wanting to view firsthand the damage that had been done to his son.
The clocked moved slowly as Alan finally sat in a chair, running weak hands across his tired face. He thought he might try whining himself, if it came to that, in order to see his son. It had been over a week since they had found him. He appreciated the doctor's cautiousness, as he was aware of the precarious beam of sanity that his son was walking.
But, damn it, he had to see him!
"Mr. Alan Eppes", a quiet voice addressed Alan.
He looked up into the face of a middle-aged Chinese doctor. He was shorter than Alan, but well-built; it was apparent beneath the thin layer of his white coat that he was solid muscle.
Alan rose to meet the doctor, offering his hand, a small smile touching the corners of his mouth.
"Yes, that's me." Alan confirmed.
"I'm Dr. Wang. It is nice to see that the face before me matches the loving and caring tone I detected in your voice on the phone. Donny is going to need someone like you."
Noting that his son had been referred to by his nickname, something he was not used to hearing from strangers, Alan put the compliment aside. He had always loved and cared for his sons. It would not have crossed his mind that there was anybody on earth who would not feel that way for their children.
However, Dr. Wang had more experience with the way other, not-so-caring people felt about their children. As a result, meeting parents for the first time was an act that always carried with it a feeling of trepidation. In this case, that feeling was swept away by the real concern he saw in the eyes of the man who stood before him.
Those eyes also glinted with a hint of determination. Dr. Wang had wanted to ask Mr. Eppes to come back in a few more days, but decided that this was one father who would not be talked out of seeing his son.
"Please, come with me," the doctor indicated with a small wave of his right hand, his left one playing with a pen in his pocket.
Alan kept in step beside the doctor, anxious that the doctor not change his mind and bar him entrance to his son.
They were buzzed into a hallway through a door to the left of the entrance desk, Alan brushing past Wang quickly so that the doctor would have no way of entering without him- and locking him out. Wang smiled at Alan's urgency- every action Alan took convinced him this man really would be the saving force for his son.
Alan moved faster down the hall, passing another nurses' station on his right, putting himself ahead of the doctor. Wang took his time, knowing that Alan would be stuck at the end of the hall because the door to that wing of the institute also remained locked.
As expected, Alan tried the door and showed some impatience at having to wait for Wang to enter the code that allowed the door to swing open.
After passing through, Dr. Wang grabbed Alan's arm gently but firmly, showing the strength that he had stored up in the muscles of his arm. Alan turned his face to him, while his body tried to continue down the hall.
"Mr. Eppes- please, one moment. I want you to take a moment to prepare yourself. I promise, you will get to see your son."
Alan realized that he believed the doctor was speaking the truth- he would finally be allowed to see for himself how well Donny was doing. Wang was correct, of course, he needed to take a deep breath before seeing him. Stopping before the door that Wang indicated was Donny's, Alan stood still for several minutes. There were only three doors in this hallway, each one slightly opened as another nurses' station was set across the hall from this set of rooms. Alan had seen three televisions hanging from the ceiling within the station; he correctly assumed that the nurses were able to keep a 24-7 watch on the three seriously ill patients that occupied these rooms. One of these patients was his son, Donald Eppes, whose room was the last one in the hall.
He knew that Donny would be asleep, so he needed to be quiet. Dr. Wang had warned Alan that Donny could be easily startled, and that the ensuing feeling of confusion would often leave him in a state of terror. The one thing Alan did not want was for his son's first meeting with him to be scorched with fear.
Slowly pushing open the door, walking on tiptoes, Alan walked to the side of the hospital bed where his son lay asleep on his right side, the only sound coming from the gentle in and out of air through Donny's nose. A small nightlight set into the wall allowed him to see his son.
Alan stood next to Donny. Looking down at him, the first feeling he felt was relief; his son was alive and apparently still in good physical health. The second feeling he felt was anger, as it was also apparent that he was not in good mental health. The last feeling he felt was love, as he moved closer to the bed so he could run his fingers through his son's hair.
Donny stirred slightly in his sleep. From practice learned years before, Alan took a handkerchief from his shirt pocket, expertly placing it under the bottle that Donny barely held between his lips. He then took the near-empty bottle from his son's mouth, wiping away the small amount of fluid that spilled down his cheek. Donny responded by licking his lips, trying to find the missing nipple, opening his eyes halfway. Alan ran his hand through his son's hair again, whispering soothing sounds as he placed the bottle aside.
Turning over onto his left side, Donny slipped his right thumb into his mouth. Still asleep with his eyes now completely closed, he raised his head up at a slight tilt, reaching about on the bed with his left hand, patting the blankets and sheets slowly but not finding what he wanted.
Alan quickly moved to the left side of the bed, reaching his hand under the blankets covering his son. From his long talks with Wang, he knew what to look for. Smashed halfway under Donny's side, Alan found and pulled out a medium-sized floppy-eared bunny rabbit, its left ear noticeably missing half its hair. Alan placed the rabbit into his son's hand, pressing it hard enough so that he would be aware that he had it within his grasp. Donny laid his head back down on his pillow, curling his body into a ball, the rabbit pressed tightly to his chest, and his right thumb completely encased in his mouth.
Continuing to stroke his 37-year-old son's hair, all Alan could think was "What the hell did that bitch do to you?"