A/N: "mein neschume " is Yiddish for "My Soul".

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Chapter 14

After Charlie's meltdown, for a few days he seemed to become the basket case everyone had been expecting. The nightmares became vocal enough for Alan to hear them, He stopped pretending to eat. His moods alternated between sullen, angry and bitter.

It was hard to take. They were trying so hard to help him.

And then, one morning, he joined Alan for breakfast. Voluntarily.

The next day, he went to lunch with Larry.

The day after that, he slept through the night.

Small steps, every one…but add them together, and you could see that Charlie was moving, again.

Don started to relax a little, walking a delicate tightrope. He wanted Charlie to know that he was there — but he also needed to give Charlie room to breathe.

Sometimes, balance wasn't easy.

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When Don entered the bullpen and saw Megan and David standing together at David's desk, heads bent over a magazine, he thought about pulling rank.

Then he approached, and recognized that it was the in-house employee magazine. He had gotten one a few days ago himself. Tossed it in the desk drawer with the others. But he guessed he couldn't really reprimand anyone for actually reading it. As he started to veer off back toward his own desk, David saw him out of the corner of his eye and waved him over.

"Have you seen this?"

Don looked at the open page and saw a picture of Colby. The headline next to the picture read, "Former L.A. Agent Honored with Scholarship". Don smiled. "That's great," he said sincerely, and made to leave again, but David thrust the magazine into his hands.

"No. Read it."

Don looked at David, saw the sincerity, and dropped his eyes to the page:

"Former Special Agent Colby S. Granger, who was last assigned to the Los Angeles office, has recently been honored with a scholarship fund in his name. The Colby S. Granger Fund is earmarked for the children of disabled and fallen agents, and will help them with secondary educational needs after high school. The fund was established by a new Los Angeles-area blind trust, WKF, or the "Whiz Kid Foundation". Those interested in applying for a scholarship from the Colby S. Granger Fund should see the office Director for details."

Don pulled out David's chair. He suddenly had to sit down.

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He found Charlie, who still wouldn't use the dining room, grading papers at the kitchen table. He stopped at the refrigerator long enough to grab a beer and sat down opposite him.

"Where's Dad?"

Charlie didn't even look up. "Stan. Dinner. Project."

Don smiled. "Been a little busy there, haven't you, Chuck?"

The hated nickname lifted Charlie's head from the papers, and he scowled. Don pushed the clipping across the table.

Charlie picked it up and read it.

He pushed it back.

"What makes you think…"

Don laughed. "Come on, Charlie. 'Whiz Kid Foundation'? Who else could it be?"

Charlie didn't answer, just lifted his bottle of water and took a drink.

"Megan and David were a little upset that you didn't give us all a chance to contribute."

Charlie put down the bottle.

"Don't worry. It's not my money. I convinced Samuels at the DOD that securing a generous donor would go a long way toward my not telling the press everything I've learned."

Don's eyes widened. "You're kidding. You blackmailed the head of the Department of Defense?"

Charlie grinned. "Colby would like that, don't you think?"

Don felt himself grinning in return.

"Also," continued Charlie, "I may have agreed to work on another DOD project. He found an extremely generous private donor."

Don's grin fell off. "Charlie! You can't work for them again!"

Charlie shrugged and looked at Don. There was a hard glint in his eyes. "Why not? At least this time I know what to look for, what to expect. I can't un-learn the lessons I've been taught. But I can use those lessons. And I can use those people. They taught me how to do it themselves."

Don carefully replaced the clipping in his wallet. "Charlie." His voice was quiet, sincere. "I hope you know what an amazing man you are."

Charlie had been expecting a lot of things, but that was not one of them. He gaped at Don. Don grabbed his beer and stood.

"I am so proud to be your brother. I hope you know that. I know we don't do this sort of thing — but I love you, Charlie."

Having stunned his brother into silence, Don pushed his way through the kitchen door and headed for the television.

There had to be a game on somewhere.

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It was after 10:30 when Alan finally got home. Don's car was in the driveway, and he smiled as he let himself in the kitchen door. Been seeing a lot of Don, lately. That was good.

Charlie was still grading papers at the table, just like when he left.

"I thought summer school was supposed to be easy."

Charlie looked up and smiled. "I think that's what these guys thought, too. Hate to let your bubble burst."

Alan squeezed his shoulder. "I'm tired, son. I think I'll just say hello to your brother and head up to bed." He started for the swinging door. "Don't stay up all night."

"I won't, I'm almost done. Dad?"

Alan stopped, one hand on the door, looked back. "Yes?"

"Good-night. I love you."

Alan smiled broadly. "And I you, Little One. Good-night."

He pushed through the door, shaking his head. He saw Don shrugging into his jacket.

"Leaving? Not on my account, I hope?"

Don grinned. "Nope. Game's over. Headed home."

Alan made for the stairs, patting Don's arm as he passed. "Well, drive carefully, son."

He got up three steps before Don's "Dad?" stopped him. He paused and turned around. "Yes?"

"Have a good night. I love you."

Alan smiled broadly again. "I love you too, mein neschume." He watched Don disappear into the kitchen and started back up the stairs. He didn't know what had gotten into his sons, tonight.

But he liked it.

He liked it very much.

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EPILOGUE

Charlie stepped off the elevator and into the bullpen. He had stalled all he could. Now he had to let Don, David and Megan take the WKF out to lunch.

The three stood bunched around Colby's old desk, and as he approached he could see a young woman emptying the contents of a box into the drawers. Don saw him arrive.

"Good, Archie, here's the consultant I was telling you about. You'll probably be seeing a lot of each other. Charlie, this is Agent Travis. She's joining the team permanently. And this is Dr. Charles Eppes."

Charlie reached out a hand. "Please, call me Charlie."

She accepted his hand and shook it firmly. "I'm Archie."

Charlie smiled shyly. "Such an unusual name."

She laughed, eyeing Charlie's curly head.

"Great," thought Don. "Another vote for long, curly hair."

"…parents," the new agent was saying when he tuned back in to the conversation. "You would not believe my actual name. I've always gone by 'Archie'."

Charlie's smile grew a little less shy. "Please. I'd love to know your real name."

She shrugged. "You asked for it. It's Greek. 'Archimedes'."

Charlie paled so suddenly that Don got worried and put a hand on his arm. "You okay?"

Charlie looked at him. His gaze was full of wonder — delight, even. "Archimedes. Don. He discovered Pi."

His new agent gasped audibly. "I have never in my life met anyone who knew that."

"Charlie's not just a consultant," Don offered. "He's a math professor at Cal Sci. Pi is his world."

She laughed, and it sounded like ice tinkling in a glass. "Unbelievable. My parents both teach high school math. They're idiots for math. They named me after a Greek math God, for Pete's sake."

Charlie was growing less shy by the second. "We were just going to lunch. Perhaps you'd join us, Archimedes?"

She grimaced playfully. "Please. When you call me that, I feel like I'm about to get in trouble for something."

Don was starting to feel like he and Megan and David weren't really needed for this conversation. But he'd be dammed if he was going to miss it.

" 'Meda', then? I'm not sure I can refer to such a beautiful woman as 'Archie'."

The new agent laughed again as she allowed Charlie to escort her toward the elevator. " 'Meda', I like that." A few inches shorter than Charlie, she looked up at him. "Charlie, did you know that Archimedes also invented the screw?"

Charlie continued the conversation, seeming to completely miss the double entendre. Don, following with the others, mentally chastised himself for making the association himself, until he saw Megan's barely suppressed smile.

And if he tilted his head just right, and really listened, he could swear that he heard Colby laughing.

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A/N: Apparently everything for the last few chapters has sounded like an ending. If you are still reading, this is really it!

Damn, that was fun! Thanks to FluffNutter for a great sequel idea, and stay tuned for possible future Archie sightings! One never knows where she'll crop up.