Title: You Gave It All Away

Author: Unspoken Tragedy

Rating: PG-13, though it may eventually become R.

Spoilers: Other than the general ones, none.

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Not even this computer I'm typing with.

Summery: Twenty-three years ago Don lost his brother. Finding Charlie just turns out to be the easy part.

Series: none yet

A/N: To all those awaiting updates on my other stories: Yes, they will be finished. Yes, they will be updated assoon as possible.To those annoyed that I'm writing something new instead of working at the old, "I can only work on what's in my head."- Charles Eppes (Not the exact quotation, mind you.)


You Gave It All Away

Prologue: How Does It Feel, That It's Gone?

"Regret for things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable."
-Sydney J. Harris, Strictly Personal

"For of all the sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: 'It might have been!'"
-John Greenleaf Whittier, "Maud Muller"


876,213 persons reported missing
788,592 juveniles reported missing
2,100 missing each day

152,265 in danger
48 hour critical window

He'd be twenty-nine today. Just reaching his prime as a mathematician. He'd possibly have a wife, two and a half children and a white picket fence. He'd still be Don's biggest fan, but by now the older brother would have learned to accept it. They'd be a happy family again. There would no longer be two empty places at the dinner table each night, two lingering voids that would never be filled. Likely, they'd all be filled.

He'd be twenty-nine today. Don Eppes sighed, dropped his head into his hands, prayed that today would be the day. The day he found Charlie.

"Don?" A light hand descended upon his shoulder.

"Today's his birthday, Megan."

"I know, Don," the profiler told him softly. "You know, why don't you go home and get some rest? Colby, David and me, we'll do alright for one day without our boss."

He looked at her for a long time before responding. "When Charlie disappeared, I thought my life was over."

"You're still here."

"Yeah, I had such big plans before then though. I wanted to play pro-ball." The agent took a deep breath. "But without Charlie there, cheering me on... I knew I could never make it that far.

"Finding Charlie became my objective, my life's goal."

Megan pulled a chair opposite his desk. "And every year you don't, every year you live without Charlie makes the next seem only that much harder to reach." Don nodded. "Don, I can't tell you that you will find him. The odds are all against it. But I can tell you this: David, Colby and I will do everything in our power to help you find him. Just say the word."

He simply sat there for a moment, speechless. Then, "Thank you. You do not know how much that means to me."

Megan smiled at him. "Anything for the boss. Now get up and go home. You need to be well rested for the amounts of paperwork you have to do tomorrow."

"What about Merrick?"

"He's the one who suggested you take the day off. He knows the significance. Remember, he was the one who worked your brother's case."

Don smiled wanly. "Thank him for me, will you?"

"Already did." She really was the perfect partner.

Don left the office that day with a lighter heart than he had entered it with. Unfortunately, his sleep that night was not so light.

Don quickened his stride. He was almost jogging now. That should take care of him, he thought with not a little bit of triumph. The youth wasn't entirely sure why his little brother has to always tag along, but he's had quite enough of that annoyance, thank you very much.

Once Charlie saw that he could not keep up with his older brother, said brother was certain that he'd just go on back home. Probably cry to their mother, though. Well, you can't win everything. And being able to hang with his pals without his little brother was a pretty big win in Don's eyes.

The boy glanced back every so often, mostly just to see the younger boy doggedly trying to keep up, but then Charlie was gone. His annoying little brother had finally given up. Don pumped his fist into the air; jogged the rest of the way to the park.

It was that day that the older Eppes learned how much more fun it was to be at the park without a nuisance (a.k.a. the child genius that was his brother) nipping at his heels. The looks on his friends' faces when they saw him come alone were gratifying enough for him to seriously consider never allowing the younger boy to come along again. Six should be old enough for to go out and find his own friends.

Maybe he could speak to his mother about that. Well, after she lectured him over leaving Charlie.

But once he got home that night a lecture was the last thing he worried about.

The first words out of his mother's mouth were "Where's Charlie, Don?"

"How would I know?" he countered with a question of his own.

"He went out with you, Don." Don's look of guilt was all she needed to find out exactly what happened. "You left Charlie alone out there." The disappointment stung worse than the anger ever did.

That night the Eppes searched the neighborhood for their youngest member. The next morning, the cops joined in. But Charlie was nowhere to be found. It was that day that Don learned how much his annoying little brother really did mean to him. He just learned it a few hours too late to do anything about it.

A year and a half after Charlie's disappearance, their mother, Margaret, took ill. Another year later, she too was gone. The doctors said it was cancer.

But Don knew that she'd really died of a broken heart.

Agent Don Eppes woke up to a wet pillow. He dreamt of Charlie again. He glanced over at the clock to see it was far too late to call his dad. Even if it weren't, Don didn't really know what to say to the older man.

Throughout his turbulent childhood, his father had been his rock. The one solid place he could always run back to when the waves crashed at him a little too furiously. He supposed he was lucky in that regard. At least he grew up with one loving parent.

Alan had never blamed his eldest son for the loss of the youngest, though Don felt he really should have. If Don hadn't been so stupid, so selfish as to leave his little brother behind, maybe they would all be together today.

The day when Don realized he could no longer remember Charlie's voice, that his only memory of Charlie's face was in the pictures, that was the worst day of his life.

But he had never given up searching for his little brother. He had never accepted the speculation that Charlie was dead. Don closed his eyes. He would find Charlie. He had to.


TBC...

A/N: So it's been done before. So I should be working on other things. This bunny wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote it. Blame the Bunny. A few points before I go:

1) This isn't really about a search for Charlie. It's about what Don finds.

2) The thing I hate most about Don and Charlie's relationship is that Charlie forgives Don so damn easy. The main premise behind this story was: What will it take for Charlie to make Don pay for his mistakes? An awful lot.

3) I think this is the most important point for any who are looking to write an abduction story of their own (this irritates me about most of those I read): When someone is missing, you do NOT have to wait twenty-four hours before reporting it. That is a myth.

4) This is not a Charlie Whumping Don Angst story. There will be much angst, though.