A disclaimer…if one is required: I don't own these guys (or gal) but I've enjoyed plotting out events that could feasibly occur in their fictional lives. So I've borrowed them and they are being used to explore my creative side. I have never and will never profit economically from allowing myself to use them in this manner.
Enjoy. Please Read and Review.
In High Regard
"Come on Charlie, get back in the truck." Don stood under the awning of a small gas station, refueling his black SUV. Charlie was standing on the other side of the vehicle wearing a familiar look of bewilderment. "What, Charlie?"
"Just…just forget it Don. It's nothing ok? I'll…uh, maybe I'll ride back with David."
Don narrowed his eyes at his brother.
"What? You don't like my driving? What's going on Charlie?"
"I told you….I already told you, so just forget it Don. Just…..don't worry about it. I…..I'd rather ride the rest of the way with David, that's all."
"I must have missed something….but go ahead. If you'd rather ride with David…."
"Yeah, I would, "
Charlie started around the SUV.
"because he has more respect for me than you do."
The comment was mumbled and the sounds from the nearby highway made it almost inaudible.
Charlie flinched as Don slammed his hand against the top of the SUV in a sudden display of aggravation.
"Charlie? What are you talking about?"
He scrutinized his siblings' face looking for some hint as to his offense.
Charlie's brown eyes gazed over the top of the truck at him. After a few moments his startled expression vanished, replaced with something Don had seldom seen. He remembered the last time that look had shown itself. He and his father had been fighting about Charlie's involvement with the Koverchencko case. They had stood there and argued about what was best for him as if they had forgotten he was standing there.
Don quickly recovered from his outburst, lowering his voice.
"Charlie. I really don't understand."
His brother didn't answer, but he couldn't miss the resentment that Charlie was making no effort to conceal. As Don took inventory of the evenings events, realization dawned on him.
"You're kidding right?" He forgot all about trying to contain his exasperation.
"You're really this upset because I introduced you as my brother?"
"No Don. No. It's just that…you…You introduced me as an afterthought…. 'Oh, and this is my brother.' Lucky for me David had the sense to follow up with the explanation that 'Dr. Eppes was a consultant for us on this case.' Those poor people would have spent the whole evening wondering why the agent in charge brought his kid brother along for the ride!"
The pump kicked off and Don replaced the nozzle.
"Fine then, OK. I'm sorry I didn't introduce you to your specifications. I was a little bit preoccupied!"
Charlie scowled at him.
"Yet you were not so distracted that you were unable to introduce the three members of your team by their full names and proper titles. And somehow you couldn't even manage to refer to me by my first name? I'm not your brother by definition Don. I have a first, last and middle name as well as several distinguished titles, any of which would have sufficed for a polite introduction."
A cynical smile stole over Don's face as he tried to suppress a snicker.
"Charlie. Come on! Your not seriously upset about this?"
Charlie turned away from his older brother and made a wide detour around the gas pump to where another standard black SUV was parked. Colby had just capped the gas tank and was watching the brothers with tentative amusement.
Charlie stopped next to him, speaking loudly and aiming his voice in Don's direction.
"Excuse me AGENT Granger; I've grown weary of dealing with the contempt of Agent Eppes. Would you mind terribly if we switched vehicles?"
Colby tried to keep his smile at bay, but failed.
"Not a problem DOCTOR Eppes. I will relinquish my seat and relocate to the other vehicle for the rest of the drive to Los Angeles."
Charlie retained his serious composure and stuck his head around the gas pump to address his brother.
"See Don, everyone in your team respects me more than you do."
Don groaned and rolled his eyes.
"That's because THEY haven't had to tolerate you for the past 30 years!"
"Well, brother, the least I can do is rid you of your inequitable burden for the rest of this journey."
The doors of the convenience store opened and David and Megan exited the building.
David headed for the drivers seat and tilted his head at Charlie when Colby climbed into the other SUV with Megan.
"You're riding with me then Charlie?"
Charlie shot Don a devious expression.
"You know what David? I think I will."
Don shook his head at Charlie and watched him climb into the passenger seat of the other truck and dramatically buckle his safety belt.
"Fine. Be that way then."
Don screwed the gas cap back on and slammed the hinged cover shut.
Then he turned to David. "We'll be right behind you."
David gave Don a mock salute and maneuvered the SUV out of the gas station and exited onto the interstate.
Charlie let out an exaggerated sigh and leaned back in his seat.
"I ask for a little…..respect and he acts like I'm an egotistical maniac."
David gave him a bemused smile.
"I should probably stay out of this one."
After a few moments of silence, he glanced at his passenger. The dejected expression on Charlie's face compelled him to speak.
"We did a good thing tonight Charlie. And we never could have done it without your help. Those kids would have died out there if you hadn't pointed us in the right direction. And their families already knew about your involvement. That's why Don wanted you to come with us tonight."
Charlie looked embarrassed.
"It was Don's idea for me to come with the team?"
"No. It was Don's idea for you to come along as 'part of the team'….his words Charlie, not mine. He thought you might like to meet the people whose children you helped save. But more than that, he wanted them to meet you."
"Ouch." Charlie turned to stare out the window. He watched the darkened landscape fly by, the bright lights of L.A. visible on the horizon.
"I feel like such an ass."
Neither Colby nor Megan had spoken a word since Don had slipped into the SUV and slammed his door. Every couple of minutes one of them would sigh, and then the other would sigh in return as if they were holding a conversation.
If they were, Don was sure they were talking about him. Finally he had had enough.
"DAMN IT." He slammed his hands on the steering wheel. "Not you guys too?"
They didn't reply, but Don could see Megan in the review mirror and it was painfully obvious she was fighting off a smile. He turned to look at Colby.
"You think this is funny too Granger?"
Colby tried to keep a straight face.
"No, No. Not funny at all."
From the back of the truck, Megan stifled a giggle.
"Honestly Don, you two miss each other by a mile every time."
Colby's straight face broke into a grin.
"And watching you two fight like that is a trip."
Don smiled in spite of himself.
"We were not having a fight. That was just a good natured disagreement. Just a slight difference of opinion that's all."
Megan scoffed as she leaned back in her seat.
"Yeah. He thinks you don't respect him as a person, Don. And you think he's an invariable, if not exploitable, resource."
Her observation was met with silence. After a few minutes, the silence had grown so thick that Colby lowered the window. If nothing else, it provided an audible distraction.
He glanced over his shoulder at his fellow agent.
"As usual, you're too honest for your own good Reeves."
Megan leaned forward in her seat.
"One more honest observation?"
Don exhaled loudly.
"Sure, why the hell not?"
"You drive to damn fast. You've already caught up to David and Charlie."
The blanket of tension lifted as Colby laughed.
"Maybe David just drives to slow."
The second black SUV was now directly in front of them. Don decreased his speed and followed David off the ramp.
After a few moments of silent contemplation, Don realized Megan was right.
"I feel like such an ass."
As Don spoke, his cell phone started its familiar melody.
He looked at the illuminated LCD screen and smiled.
The line was silent for a few seconds before Charlie continued.
"I um….I was thinking about ordering a pizza to pick up on the way home. I thought I'd go ahead and call it in. So I wanted to ask…..I mean…I recorded the game on the DVR for you, so...if you were still planning on coming by, I…."
The apprehension in his brothers voice made Don hesitate.
"If you still want me to Charlie."
"Only if you feel like spending some time with your nameless, title-less brother."
Don's face split into a grin and he laughed. "That's sounds great…just one thing though."
"No anchovies this time, ok?"