Author's Note- my take on the all too short conversation between Alan and Don. What if it had gone in a slightly different direction?
Disclaimer- I don't own anyone from Numb3rs, though Don and Colby would be nice to keep captive in my bedroom…
PS- Listen to Paul Brandt's 'I Do'. There's a line at the bottom.
Alan Eppes knows his son like no one else. He knows Don's deepest fears, his favourite foods, how he reacts to certain situations, what bugs him the most, the crimes he hates more than anything. He knows it all, even when it comes down to every single one of his facial expressions and what they mean.
But not this one.
He watches, attentive, as the older Eppes brother's face shuts down completely. His eyes become dark; his appearance shuttered. His jaw is set stiffly. Alan can see the walls go up around his son.
Don doesn't answer, doesn't blink, doesn't even move. Upon closer scrutiny, Alan spots the clear, undisguised hurt in his son's dark eyes. "Don."
Eventually Don lifts bleak eyes to meet his father's. He still refuses to speak.
"Maybe that was the wrong question." Alan holds Don's gaze steadily, firmly, not backing down. Compassion is etched into his face. "Maybe the question is not how far you did go, but how far you would have gone." Taking a deep breath, he plunges forward, risking everything he's thinking. "Maybe you don't want to answer me because it scares you. It scares you because you don't know how far you would have gone, and that's new territory."
"I killed her, Dad, the woman that kidnapped her. I killed someone to save Megan's life, and I would do it again." Don's voice is surprisingly secure, balanced, but hard and cold. "I would. I would do anything to save her life. Without a doubt." His eyes flicker with another emotion Alan can't identify. "Yeah, Dad, you're right. It scares me. Actually, to be honest, it scares the hell out of me. So what am I supposed to do?" He scoffs bitterly, shoving himself up on the couch with muscled arms.
"You tell me." Alan's heart aches for his son. "What do you think you should do?"
Don silently scowls at nothing in particular. "Dad, she's with Larry. That's a definite hint for me to find another damsel in distress and redirect my attention."
"You're so sure of that?" Alan probes gently, and Don rises, stalks to the kitchen, opens and closes the fridge door with a slam, and comes back with two beers, one already half gone. Not a good sign. Don plunks down on the couch, finishes the last of his beer, and fiddles with the second one, not yet open.
"I don't know," he finally mumbles, and tosses the second beer to Alan, then uses the palms of his hands to rub his tired eyes. "I don't know, I don't know… I don't know. Damn it." After a long pause, he lets his body fall back, his head rest on the back of the couch. "I couldn't help it. I let it slip. I let it slip. How could I?"
Alan is silent for a moment, waiting.
"Sweetie. What the hell is my problem, Dad?" Don's head snaps up, his eyes wide open again, outright fire in them now. Sick of being lazy, he stands, paces back and forth anxiously, angrily, and everything in between. He drags a hand down his face, exhausted emotionally, mentally, physically. His tone is anguished. "And what am I going to do?"
She was supposed to be asleep. She was so tired she could barely keep her eyes open. They were finally drifting closed, lulling her to dreamland, when a tiny, nearly undetectable detail sprang to the front of her mind and suddenly wouldn't leave her alone.
Megan squeezed her eyes shut, allowed them to open again, and with a sigh, sat up. "Alright, what is it?" She asked aloud, hoping whatever it was would answer her.
No such luck.
She waited impatiently, getting irritated.
"All I want to do is sleep."
Unwanted tears flood her eyes. She brushes them away with the back of her hand, sniffling. She didn't cry before, and she wasn't going to cry now.
But she's so tired and so confused and just so not right that she can't hold it in, and she succumbs to the pressure and cries for an hour into her pillow, soaking the silky white material with her salty tears.
She's well on her way to crying herself to sleep, an almost ghost of a smile on her lips as she vividly recalls her co-workers doting on her in the hospital.
There it was. The nudge again. Megan draws in a shaky breath and forces herself to relax, but her arm is throbbing and her head is starting to and she feels sick, and her heart aches for something she can't define.
Her eyes flutter closed, and abruptly it hits her, and she doesn't know if it woke her up. It's like a nightmare.
He called her "sweetie."
Baby I will, I am, I can, I have, I do…