Disclaimer: I don't own the characters and I don't make any money off of them.
A/N: Thanks as always to ritt, the world's best beta and sounding board! Goodness knows I'd never finish the multi-chapter stories without her help. And thanks to Sin for digging through her big book of ailments and helping me come up with this one.
"Shh," Charlie whispered. "It's alright." He blinked back tears as he stared down at the man cradled in his lap. Suddenly aware that the elevator was silent save for the injured man's harsh breathing, Charlie looked up at the man sitting next to him. "Dad? Are you okay?"
"Am I okay, Charlie?" Alan asked sarcastically. "Why yes, I'm just fine. Why wouldn't I be? I mean, we're in a wonderful situation here, aren't we?"
Alarmed at his father's tone and demeanor, the young man quickly answered, "Dad, please calm down!"
"How can you expect me to be calm-"
"Because Don needs you to be." Charlie kept his voice low – just above a whisper – but fixed his father with a meaningful look. Seeing the contrite expression on the older man's face, Charlie let his gaze trail back to his lap where he protectively cradled his injured brother. Don was pale and burning up with fever and he began restlessly moving his head back and forth. The professor ran his fingers through Don's damp hair in a desperate attempt to ease his brother's discomfort.
"I'm sorry," Alan suddenly whispered, although Charlie wasn't certain if he was speaking to him or Don.
"It's okay," Charlie told him. "I'm upset, too, but we need to stay strong and calm for Don's sake."
Alan nodded as he reached out and gently wiped away the trickle of blood coming from the corner of his firstborn's mouth. The older man let his hand remain on Don's cheek as he lightly stroked his thumb across the too hot skin. "So, Charlie," Alan whispered, making sure to keep his voice calm. "What are the odds of us getting out of here alive?"
Charlie swallowed nervously and remained silent. He had a pretty good idea, but he wasn't about to tell his father just how slim those odds were.