Title: Gunned Down.
Warnings: Angst, Tissue Warning!
Disclaimer: I don't own Numb3rs. Never have, and never will.
Summary: Charlie is gunned down.
Rain poured down hard, followed every few seconds by the crack of thunder, and the brilliant flashes of lightning.
Sitting by himself on a bench right inside the entrance to Memorial Hospital in California, sat Special Agent Don Eppes.
He was in the hospital because of his brother, Professor Charles Edward Eppes.
Charlie had been at CalSci doing what he does best, when the most unthinkable thing had happened. Someone had just waltzed in to Charlie's office and had gunned down the startled math professor.
Only the quick thinking of the CalSci students who were near Charlie's office, prevented Don's brother from dieing at the scene.
Of course, from what the doctor's had said, Charlie could and still very well might die before the night was out.
"God, why'd I have to be so tough with him?" Don asked himself as he looked down at his white hands. Hands that had turned white from his holding them so tightly.
Earlier that day, Charlie had come to the FBI offices with some new pieces of information which were quite vital to the case Don had been working on, but Don having just stepped out of the interrogation room only moments before, was to angry to really give Charlie the time of day, so when Charlie had stopped Don, all he had done was bite off Charlie's head and send him away to lick his mental wounds.
Now Don was berating himself for that. Telling himself that if he had just listened to Charlie, then maybe his little brother wouldn't be in the hospital right now, fighting for his life.
Sighing, Don was about to get up and get some more coffee when the doors to the hospital opened and Megan, Colby and David entered.
They were both soaked with rain water, but neither of the three agents cared. They were both worried about their leader, and boss…not to mention their resident math genius.
"Don." Megan greeted calmly as she took a seat at Don's left and David took the other seat to Don's right, while Colby sat by David.
"How's Charlie?" Colby asked, wanting to get right down to business.
Don sniffled slightly, forcing himself not to shed any tears in front of the members of his team.
"The doctors….," Don said quietly before he stopped, not wanting to continue.
"Don, what'd they say? Charlie is going to be alright, isn't he?" Megan asked.
Slowly Don shook his head and nearly bit his lip in frustration as he sadly pictured his brother's broken body.
"The doctors don't think that Charlie will last through the night." Don said sadly.
Megan shut her eyes and sighed sadly at the news her boss had just given her.
It was hard to believe that someone so young, with so much promise and potential as Dr. Charlie Eppes could be faced with death!
"I know that you probably don't want to know this Don but, we got the guy who…shot Charlie. He gave himself up when he seized his car." David said quietly as he gave Don a look.
"That's um…that's good news, guys." Don said, though he really didn't mean it. The sparkle and fire that was usually in his eyes was nowhere to be seen. And, if Charlie died, everyone doubted that they would see that sparkle again.
Slowly Don licked his lips and allowed his eyes to tear up briefly, before he shoved his emotions back down.
"I just buried my father, guys….I'm not ready to bury my brother."
Everyone nodded their heads as they thought back to last week, when Alan Eppes had been sent to the hospital because of a heart attack.
The eldest Eppes had never left the hospital alive, because his heart had literally failed while the doctors had been trying to stabilize him.
Now the only surviving members of the Eppes family were the brothers, Don and Charlie…and now even that wasn't certain anymore!
"Special Agent Eppes."
The calm voice of the doctor made Don raise his head in expectation.
Charlie was dead….Don knew it.
Why hadn't he been in there and spent Charlie's last minute with him?! Why?Why?Why?
"Special Agents Eppes. If you would please follow me." The doctor said as he looked at Don with eyes that seemed to reach in to his heart.
Without a word, Don rose up and followed the doctor down the hall, towards Charlie's room.
Within two minutes they had reached the room, and without so much as a glance back, the doctor pushed and held open the door so Don could enter the room.
The first thing that Don saw was Charlie's frightened, tired, brown eyes as they searched frantically for something. The second thing Don saw was the heart monitor, which showed a rapidly beating reading, which to Don's eyes looked to be weakening ever so slightly.
"D…on…..don…..don…" Charlie kept muttering over and over as his eyes roved around the room.
Gulping silently, Don crossed over to Charlie's bed and grasped his brother's cold, clammy hands tightly.
"Right here, buddy. I'm right here." Don said.
His voice seemed to be enough to make Charlie snap out of his state somewhat, and to focus his brown eyes on his older brother.
"D..on. Knew…you'd….find me." Charlie weakly muttered as he attempted to smile.
Don, however, couldn't smile. Not with the knowledge that the machines were telling him with a cold efficiency
"Knew you…never …leave me…alone." Charlie continued as he squeezed his brother's hand.
"I could never leave you alone." Don replied sadly as he turned his loving, brotherly, yet sad gaze on his brother.
Charlie, seeing and recognizing the look in his brother's eyes, forced himself to get serious.
"Wha…wrong…don?" Charlie asked.
"Nothing, buddy. Everything….everything's fine." Don lied.
"L…liar." Charlie whispered as he prompted Don to tell him what the problem was.
Don, not being able to say no to the look in his baby brother's eyes, finally sighed and allowed several tears to fall from his face.
"You're dying, Charlie. Do you understand?" Don asked.
Charlie dropped his gaze for a second, before he looked back up at Don.
"No…wonder…feel…tired." He muttered weakly as he forced a semi smile to his face.
"Charlie, this isn't a time for jokes…this is serious!" Don replied, deeply pained by this whole thing.
"Charlie, listen to me, buddy. You gotta get better." Don begged, flashing his best begging face at his brother. It was the same face he had used on Charlie at least fifteen times when they were younger, and it had always worked. Don now prayed that it would work again.
"I..don't think…I can." Charlie replied, before he grimaced in pain. A tiny alarm began to sound from one of the machines, causing Don to glare at it for a second, before a doctor came and silenced it.
"Charlie, please don't talk like that." Don begged.
"Sorry….can't…help…it." Charlie replied tiredly as he fought to stay conscious. Because he knew that if he went to sleep, he wouldn't be waking up again.
"Charlie…we just…buried Dad last week. Please don't make me bury you this week!" Don said pleadingly as he forced himself not to collapse and start crying.
Charlie flashed his baby brown eyes at his brother and offered him a small smile.
"Sorry…donnie." He whispered as he began to wheeze and fight for breath.
Tears ran down Don's eyes as he watched his baby brother fight for breath, knowing that it wouldn't be long now before Charlie's brown eyes would be lifeless.
Don wanted to ignore the voice, but he couldn't. Not when that voice was Charlie's.
Slowly Don raised his tear filled eyes and locked gazes with his brother.
"Jus'…want you…to know…I…love…you." Charlie whispered softly as he weakly squeezed Don's hand to get his point across.
Don offered a semi smile as he whispered back, "I know, buddy. And I love you too. I always have…and I always will."
Charlie gave Don a half smile before he seemed to choke on the oxygen that he was straining to bring in to his eyes.
Slowly, the baby brown eyes of Charlie Eppes rolled back in to his head and his chest slowly stopped all movement.
The heart monitor which had shown a steadily failing beat, now gave off a low tone as it showed a flat line.
"I love you, Charlie. Always have…and always will." Don whispered, before he rose up and gently released Charlie's hand, and left the room.
Two months later
Megan, David and Colby stared down at the four graves that marked where the Eppes family had been laid to rest.
Mrs. Eppes had been the first one to go, having had cancer. Then Alan had died of a heart attack. Not one week later, the youngest Eppes brother, Charlie had been gunned down at CalSci and had died at Memorial hospital, with Don right at his side. Then of course, there was Don. Don the protector of his brother and father. Now with both of them dead, Don felt he had nothing left to live for, so he had stopped coming to work, stopped answering his phone..heck, he had stopped even eating!
Nothing could erase the pain that he felt. So, Megan, David and Colby had known that Don's death had only been a matter of time.
"Least they're together again." Colby finally said, breaking the silence.
"Yeah," Megan agreed, "Least they're together again…which I guess is the only positive thing to come out of this."
"I guess this was the only way for Don to find peace." David said softly as he stared at the grave marker of his boss and friend.
"Think he's happy, wherever he is?" Colby asked.
"With Charlie, his father and his mother at his side? Yeah I suspect he's happy." David replied with a slight smile.
"Well come on, we gotta get back to the office." Megan said, not wanting to lose her cool over this recent chain of events.
Colby and David both nodded their heads in agreement as they followed Megan to the SUV.
Meanwhile, somewhere up in Heaven, Don was wearing a big smile on his face as he hugged Charlie tight, never wanting to let his brother go again.