Thanks to Al-luvs-Kitties02 for giving me the inspiration for an epilogue.
I was burying myself in work at my desk at CalSci when Don walked in.
"Hey, Buddy. What's going on?" He asked as he stepped in.
"Don! Hey, I was just working on some of my syllabi. What's up? Do you have a new case for me to work on?"
"No, no, nothing like that."
Despite his calm nature, I still felt fear grip at me.
"What happened?" I asked, my voice shaking.
"Nothing, Buddy. Why'd you think that? I was just stopping in to say 'hi' and see if I can pull you from the office to eat lunch with me."
I sighed. I hated being so paranoid that something bad was going to happen, but with my life, you learn to expect the worse.
"So can you eat lunch with me? I was thinking some Chinese sounded good, unless you wanted something else."
"No, Chinese sounds good."
I quickly "organized" my papers by shoving them in the only empty drawer.
"Let's go." I walked around my desk to follow him.
Don unexpectedly raised his fist and I backed up hard into the wall, frightened.
"Hey, Buddy. You all right?" He had just been stretching.
"I-I thought you were..."
He looked at his raised fist and quickly dropped it.
"Oh, Charlie. I'm sorry."
I tried to stop shaking. Don came over to me and took me in his arms.
"You know I'd never hurt you."
I nodded against his chest.
"Then why were you scared of me?"
He backed up so he could look me in the eye.
"Charlie, you have to know that I'd never do anything to hurt you. I love you, Buddy. I never meant to hurt you. I was so mad before, but, if I had hit you, you have to know I'd never be able to forgive myself for it. You're my brother. I'm supposed to protect you, not hurt you."
I felt tears of joy form in my eyes. I blinked rapidly, trying to make them go away.
"I know, Don."
"Good." Don smiled and took me by the shoulders.
I let him lead me to his car and I got in the passenger's seat.
We drove off to the Chinese place down the street. It wasn't very far. We could have walked even.
When I got out, I looked up at Don. He looked like nothing could touch him. I had always looked up to my brother, but since we've gotten older, I see the great man he's become and I look up to him for how brave he is.
"I love you, too."
Don smiled and hugged me. It was rare that we would hug when one of us wasn't hurting or something bad had happened. I had once said that we weren't exactly the "group hug" family. Maybe Don was telling the truth when he said later that he didn't have any problem with hugging.
"Let's go get some food. I'm starved." Don headed off to the restaurant.
I laughed at him. We still had to cross the street. I stood beside him as we waited for the light to change.
"Race you," I said, smiling up at him.
"Beat you," He said.
We watched eagerly for the "Walk" sign to light up. When it did, we took off full speed.
I guess there was a part of us that would never grow up.