Disclaimer I own no fractions, atoms or particles of Numb3rs. I really wish I owned Don.
Category Nothing here should really offend. Written from Alan's POV
The Rising of the Sun . . .
Alan paused on the threshold of the Emergency Room. God, how he hated these places. The smell, the impersonal décor, the underlying hints of pain and fear. He stood there and let the feelings flood over him. He felt like turning away. The last, precious years of Margaret's life had been spent in places like this. So many futile hours wasted. A shudder ran through his body. Dear God, it was happening all over again. Except this time, he was here for his son.
"Please God . . ." he found he was praying, muttering under his breath. "Don't take my son away from me. Not now, on this night of the year. Please don't let Donnie be dead."
"Alan," Megan Reeves hurried forward to meet them. She looked tired and rather distraught. "I'm so sorry we were unable to contact you before."
"How's Don?" Charlie asked, abruptly. He made no attempt at preamble.
Alan was more than happy to let Charlie do all the talking. For some very, peculiar reason, he seemed to have lost his tongue.
Megan pushed her hair back out of her eyes. There were specks of blood on her shirt. They walked back into the waiting room before she answered the question. "He didn't wake-up in the ambulance and I haven't heard anything since then. The doctor said he'd talk to us once they complete the evaluation."
"What happened? We heard about the accident on a newsflash." Charlie's tone was slightly accusing. "Don said it was a quiet day. 'Finishing up some paperwork,' was his actual words. Then, before you know it, we're watching the sports scores and seeing you guys on TV."
Megan looked over at David with a sigh. "Charlie, it was just one of those things. A security truck got hijacked - full of last minute, Christmas Eve takings. It happened to be the luck of the draw that we got called to the scene." She paused, uncomfortably. "I guess these guys were opportunists or amateurs. They made no attempt to conceal themselves. It was only going to be a matter of time before they caused a serious accident. When they flipped on the barrier, Don had to swerve out of the way. He tried to avoid hitting anyone else and he did a pretty good job of it."
"And the fatalities?" Charlie's voice was a little husky.
"Two of the three idiots in the truck. They didn't really stand a chance."
"Eppes family?" A harassed looking doctor came out of one of the examination rooms. He looked across at them. "Special Agent Eppes?"
"That would be us."
Charlie was already marching forward, while Alan lagged slowly behind. He was glad and more than a little relieved Charlie seemed to be coping so well. 'Far better than you are,' said the words in his head. He acknowledged the truth of the matter. From the minute he'd first seen the newsflash, he'd been filled with a terrible sense of dread. He'd been taking it all so much for granted, rather like the cat that got the cream. Congratulating himself on a job well done as he'd considered his two fine sons.
He'd known - oh, yes, he had known it, when the pictures came up on the screen. The old, paternal antennae again; his heart told him Don was involved. There'd been fear and a feeling of certainty, that today, his son was not coming home.
"Mister Eppes?" The doctor was looking at him now.
Alan forced himself to brace his shoulders. The bad news wasn't going away. He had to hear it sooner or later. "My son?"
"I'm Doctor Harrison, your son's attending." The doctor held out his hand. "I'll keep this short and to the point, but on the whole, it's pretty good news. Special Agent Eppes has a moderate concussion, but the CT scan was quite clear. He's given his brain a good shaking around, but there are no signs of bleeding or fracture. All in all, he's been very lucky. Just a few other scrapes and bruises but nothing really of note. Once he wakes up, I'll assess him again, and then he can probably go home.
Not serious. Don's injuries weren't serious. Alan could hardly believe it. He'd been sure, he'd been so very sure, that this time, their luck had run out. He looked across at Charlie. His younger son was exhausted. With the enviable flexibility of youth, he'd fallen asleep in the hospital chair.
And talking of sleeping beauties . . .
Alan switched his glance back to the man in the bed. Don still lay pale and silent. He hadn't so much as moved or twitched and showed no eminent sign of re-joining them. 'No cause for alarm,' the doctor had said. 'His brain just needs some time to recover.'
'Well, he'd better decide to recover soon.' He'd been unconscious for over twelve hours now, and in-spite of the medical reassurances, Alan was becoming increasingly anxious.
"Come on, Donnie," he whispered the words out loud. "Just open your eyes for me, son. Some Hanukkah chutzpah or a Christmas miracle would go down very nicely right now. Or even Larry's druid magic, if you're into the mistletoe vibe. Charlie and I are both very broad-minded. We can be multi - denominational here."
He placed Don's hand back on the counterpane and got stiffly up to his feet. The hard plastic chair was playing hell with his joints. He was getting too old for all this. Moving across to the window, he pulled the blind to one side. Outside, the dawn was breaking in a flush of gold over the sky. Christmas morning. It was Christmas Day. But this was not how he'd envisaged spending it. This wasn't supposed to be happening. Not this morning, and especially not to Don.
Alan sighed and stared out of the window. He'd been so happy yesterday morning. Preparing a feast and decorating the house to share with his family and friends. Even though they were both secular Jews, he and Maggie had always thrown a party on Christmas Eve. They'd roasted a massive turkey and done the whole eggnog thing.
His heart just hadn't been up to it. Not the last three years since she'd died. It was Don who'd persuaded him to resurrect the tradition. Don who'd suggested they celebrate. And once he got past the initial sadness, Alan had started enjoying himself.
Just when things were really good, life could throw you a curve ball. Never take anything for granted. You'd think he would have learned by now.
The sky was truly spectacular. A watercolour of rose-tinted fire. Shades of night melted into the horizon as Alan watched the Christmas sun rise.
'Oh, the rising of the sun, and the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing in the choir.'
The words of the old pagan carol came unbidden into his head. It had always been one of Margaret's favourites. As a musician, she had loved its ancient origins, and the fact it probably dated back further than a thousand years. It was so full of hope and optimism, filled with happiness and the sheerest of joy. And yesterday, for the first time since the dark days of losing his wife, Alan found himself singing it again.
"Dad?" The word was barely a whisper.
Alan turned quickly at the sound. Don lay watching him with bewildered eyes as the morning sun broke through the clouds. "Donnie, it's good to see you." He moved back over to the bedside, doing his best to sound stoical. He tried so hard, he really did, but his voice wavered perilously off kilter. "Glad you finally decided to wake-up."
Don blinked and looked around him as some of the memories flooded back. "Guess I struck out, right?"
Alan placed his hand on Don's forehead. "If you count missing out on my Christmas Eve dinner, then yes, I guess you did. If you count surviving a total write-off, then maybe you scored a home run."
"Colby," Don struggled up in alarm. "Oh man, did Colby . . ."
"Take it easy," Alan pushed him back down again. "Colby came out of it just fine. Only a few bumps and bruises, much better than you did in-fact. Apparently, you have a concussion, but I suppose you already worked that one out. It's something that can happen when you decide to roll somersaults in the car." He lowered his voice more gently. "Bet you have a doozy of a headache?"
"Yeah." Don gave a tiny grimace of pain. "Hell of a Christmas present."
He threw his arm across his eyes and lay silently for a minute. Alan waited, almost comically resigned. He knew what was coming next.
"I'm sorry, Dad. I messed things up. Your party, the whole Christmas thing. I know how much work you put into it. How hard it was for you, because of mom."
"Hush, Donnie." Alan touched Don's face tenderly. Lovingly. For the moment, he had him just where he wanted him. Soon enough, things would revert back to normal, and Don would be his resilient FBI son. "It isn't the party that matters. It's the people that were invited. Oh, sure, it would have been a fun evening, but we can do it again next year. The only thing that's important to me, is you and Charlie, healthy and happy. I don't care about the rest of it. In the end, it's all about love."
"Dad," there was a hint of pleased embarrassment in his elder son's voice. "I hope you know that goes ditto for me, right?"
"Yes," Alan shook his head, dryly. "But don't you go overboard now. Don't get all mushy on me!"
"Hey," said a sleepy voice from the corner. "Did I miss anything?"
"Just your brother getting over-emotional. Must be the knock on the head."
"Don, how are you feeling?" Charlie came across to the bed and placed his hand on Don's shoulder. "I thought you were going to sleep through to the New Year. It's good to see you awake."
"Hey, buddy." Don touched his brother lightly on the fingers. "I hear I missed a good party?" He was aware of Charlie's over-anxious scrutiny and eager to deflect his brother's fears.
"Yeah, well, the doctor said you can probably come home today, if everything checks out okay. There's most likely plenty of food left and Larry and Amita stayed over. As long as you take it quietly, we can still celebrate the holiday."
Alan turned back to the window and watched the sun arc higher in the sky. The pale morning light shone into the room, it was going to be a beautiful day. 'Thank you, Margaret,' he whispered. 'And whoever else might be listening up there. Thank you for blessing me with a wonderful gift, on this most special of days.'
"So, the doc says I can come home today, huh?" Don, in typical fashion, was already champing at the bit.
"On the condition you take things really easy. You, big brother, will be chained to the couch. Not so much as lifting a beer."
"Wait a minute, let me tell you something . . ."
"Now, Don, you'd better listen to your brother," Alan summoned up his best fatherly glare. "This time, you get no say in the matter. No working, no drinking, no exertion. Just resting and doing as you're told."
Before Don could murmur in protest, Alan had turned back to Charlie. "Did I hear you say Larry stayed over?" Alan paused and smiled wickedly at Don. "Well, here's one more piece of fatherly advice for you, my son, and I heartily suggest you listen. If you see Larry standing under the mistletoe, it's probably wise to give him a wide berth . . ."