I do not own the Numb3rs characters
Charlie was in the back of the closet when Alan went into the bedroom. "Charlie what are you doing in there?"
"I'm looking for a bag that I threw in here the other day."
"A bag? I didn't see a bag in there for you."
"It had three belts in it."
"Oh yeah, I saw it. Sorry I thought that was Don's."
"Dad, where are the belts?"
"I packed them and right now they are in one of those seven bags that you made me pack back up."
"Why did you pack them?"
"Don can't wear a belt right now."
"Did you pack all the belts?"
"No, I left one for Don."
"I'll have to wear that one than."
"Sorry Son, He's already wearing his belt. He did need to have one for the memorial service."
"Dad am I going to have to go in the hall and try to buy someone's belt or are you going to go down and look for mine that you packed up?" Alan left to go look for the belt.
When Charlie came out he had on a black suit with dress shoes and a white shirt.
Charlie saw that Don was ready and waiting for them. "Looking nice Bro. But you are going to have to watch how much you drink. A belt and button on your pants could cause some trouble."
"Yeah I know. It was already embarrassing enough to have my father help me dress." Charlie tied Don's shoes for him and just to be safe, he knotted them.
As it turned out today would be a longer day than they had planned. Late yesterday Bob had called and said that immediately following the service today he was inviting the Eppes family to a luncheon at his house. He had arranged to change Alan's flight and said he would pay all the extra charges, boost him up to first class and pay to ship the extra bags. Alan would take Don's SUV home with him from the long term parking lot at LAX.
They had decided that they would keep the rented SUV for an extra day so that all of the bags would fit in the back. Charlie planned to return it later that day. He put his bike and his backpack with a change of clothes in the back.
The Memorial service was a somber affair of course. Jason Drake's family was large and he had a young wife. His normal day job had been with a local advertising company. There were quite few of his co-workers there. They had only been told that he died in a car accident hit by an unknown person who ran a stop sign. It seemed none of his family knew the truth either. Charlie would have liked to speak to the family regarding his death but Bob convinced him not too. They were able to arrange an anonymous donation to the family. Charlie wished he could do more for them. Bob and Diane seemed to have been this route before.
They followed Bob's car back to his house. Charlie was not surprised that the lunch affair was more than Bob had led on. He had fallen into that very situation with the Director before. Charlie greeted Bob's wife, Beth and introduced her to his father and brother. The Vice President was actually a friend of Bob's and he and his wife were also there. The covert team were all in attendance as well as Diane's family and a few people that Charlie did not know.
Charlie had been placed at Bob's right and was seated across from Diane and her daughter. His dad sat next to him and Don on the other side of Alan. Charlie noticed that when the meal was served, Don's plate had already been prepared for his handicap. That was a relief to them both. They were sure that Alan would attract attention when he cut Don's meal for him. Charlie made a mental note to thank Bob for thinking of it.
After the meal was over Bob stood up and said that he wanted to make a toast. He raised his glass. "To Jason Drake for his dedication to the team and the ultimate sacrifice." They all stood and drank a toast to the recently deceased agent.
Just as everyone was sitting back down Bob added "And a toast to Dr. Charles Eppes; my good friend and NSA Consultant; without whose efforts the DC killers may not have been stopped. I also want to personally thank him for saving my life."
Charlie had not expected the formal acknowledgement even with the limited amount of people. There was a small roar of noise as the group saluted Charlie. He was a little embarrassed to be caught off guard but he rose with his own glass. "Thanks Bob. I want to say that most of the credit for stopping the killers goes to my brother." Charlie raised his glass. "To FBI Special Agent Don Eppes. Thanks for showing up when you did Bro. And for always managing to be in the right place at the right time to save my skin." Another small roar.
Don was not looking very happy with it but he stood up. "Thank you, I just want to add two things. First, that my partner Agent Derek Collins also assisted with stopping the three men at the scene and second, Charlie, you were doing a pretty good job on your own when I arrived and before you had gun. The NSA training is doing very well by you." Again a small roar could be heard along with a chuckle from Bob and there was a proud look on Vic's face.
The Eppes family left soon after the toast. The Vice President came over on their way out to offer his own thanks for saving Bob as well as to stop a potential scandal from becoming public that could have caused massive damage.
As they got into the rented SUV for the trip to the airport, Alan told them that he was very proud of both of them. When they got to the airport there was a skycap waiting as per Bob's instructions to take all the bags that Alan was returning home with.
Charlie and Alan unloaded the bags for the skycap and assisted with getting them onto the cart. Charlie was surprised when his dad put the carryon bag with the rest to be checked. The largest one, the much missed bag from the trip to DC was sitting off to the side.
"Dad make sure this one goes too. You don't want to leave it behind."
"Oh it's not getting left behind Charlie. I am personally making sure that that bag stays with me every step of the way."
"Dad sorry but you know that bag is too big to be referred to as a carryon. They won't let you take it. Just let them put the bag with the rest."
"Son, I cannot lose that bag this time. It has a lot of essential items in it along with my clothes. I'm going with the assumption that it is the only bag that makes it home."
"It has to be able to fit in the overhead and that won't. That suitcase must weigh more than eighty pounds. Do you want to know the odds of them losing the same bag twice in a row? It's in your favor to just check the bag."
"I'm going first class this time Charlie, trust me they will find a place for the bag."
"Okay well good luck with that then."
They said good bye to their dad. Don would be home around mid August. Charlie told him that he planned to come home for the Labor Day weekend no matter what military base he was scheduled to be at during that time. It was a hard good bye for Charlie and he clung to his dad just a little tighter than he normally would . Then to their surprise, Don put his arms around both of them and the Eppes family crossed over that line to become a 'group hug type family'.
Alan was going to miss his sons. His voice cracked when he told them "You boys take care of each other for me. I want all of us to be together again as soon as this project is over and Charlie, I would consider it a personal favor if you could put a rush on it."
"Thanks for coming to visit and for all your help. I love you Dad." One more hug from his dad and then he was gone.
Charlie dropped Don off at the apartment and returned the SUV to the agency. His bike ride back did not take very long. When he walked in the door he was met with a humorous site. Don was sitting in the recliner with his bathrobe on as well as his dress pants and black dress shoes.
The glare he gave Charlie when he walked in was not a welcoming sight and Charlie thought it was probably not a good idea to laugh at his brother at that moment.
Since Don had not said anything, but was not looking too happy either, Charlie decided he should start the conversation. "Uh Don? That's an unusual combination that you're wearing. Are you in the process of changing clothes?"
"Well yeah Buddy, that was my intention."
Then when Don didn't continue, Charlie raised his eyebrows and said "Well? Is there a problem?"
"You could say that. Charlie, do me a favor. Don't offer to tie my shoes again. I have the bathrobe on because I was trying to remove my pants and I could unbutton them fine. But….I cannot undo that damn knot that you tied."
Charlie tried to keep the smirk off his face. "Uh Don, so you're reclined back in the chair for just one reason aren't you?"
Don nodded. "Yeah Charlie, just to keep my pants up." Charlie laughed then.
"Think it's funny? I can't use scissors little brother and with that thick tie that you call a double knot, I couldn't even cut the laces off. Using a knife in my left hand is useless anyway but I have never seen a knot like that. I mean who ties shoes like that Charlie?"
"Don, why don't I get you a beer and then I can see what I can do about the knots. I suppose you've already tried to take the shoes off without untying them?"
Don sighed a heavy sigh. Charlie went and got the beer and a knife. He opened the beer and handed it to Don. Charlie did not have much luck either with the knot and did have to saw through the laces with the knife.
Don was still reclined in the chair and in no hurry to move now. Charlie was sitting on the couch. Both seemed to be off in their own worlds. Charlie was surprised to find that they were thinking the exact same thing.
Don said, "Five bucks says Dad found a way to keep that bag in the seat right next to him."
Charlie laughed. "Yeah? I think they tossed it in the cargo area before he even found his seat. I'll take that bet. I bet on cargo and you get the rest of the plane."
Later that evening after he had finished with cleaning the kitchen, Charlie's cell phone rang. Within the first thirty seconds of the call, he had his hand out in front of Don. "They did? That is horrible Dad. I agree; they just shouldn't treat a first class flyer that way."
Charlie put his dad on speaker phone and he lay down on the couch. Don was stretched out on the recliner and they listened to the many faults of our nation's airlines. Don fell asleep with a slight smile on his face. All was well with the Eppes' men once again.
A/N: In case anyone is interested, there is a sequel on the way. Much as I wanted to, I just couldn't leave my guys in their 'Happy Ever After' world. Thanks for the great support and all the helpful tips on my first full length fanfic.