Summary: Oneshot. My tag scene to "The Janus List".
Disclaimer: This television series is not my fault.
The first shot had been neat, and properly taken from a glass. The glass had been drained in one burning gulp, and then shattered against the far wall of the small living room of his apartment. After that, Don had started drinking straight from the bottle.
The sense of betrayal had warred all afternoon and into the evening with an odd feeling of...confirmation. He had known he was right, not to trust Granger. Bradford be damned. How they hell did he think "trust issues" showed up in a person's life, anyway? Because it never paid, trusting, that's how.
Halfway through the fresh Jack Daniels he had picked up on the way home from the office, Don's defenses were lowered enough that he couldn't repress what was really bothering him any longer. Tipping the bottle back, the warm liquid dribbled down his chin and mixed with tears he didn't even know he was crying.
Granger had been privy to that attempt in the hospital, and he had known Charlie was there. He and his Janus buddies had considered Charlie expendable. After all the ways the Eppes family had reached out to Colby, the last few years. Every meal he had taken in that house, every round of golf he had played with them, every fucking Super Bowl he had watched at the Craftsman. Expendable.
Don remembered when Colby had first joined the team, and the disparaging way he used to treat Charlie. Sarcastic, eyes rolling, disrespectful. And he, Don, had just let it go. He had decided that Charlie was a grown-up, and if he couldn't deal with being called a "Whiz Kid", he would just have to confront the issue himself. He had actually been kind-of proud of the way Charlie always stuck to his guns. As annoying as they could be, he had learned to appreciate the long-winded explanations and examples intended to help them all see what he was seeing.
Don had thought Granger had moved into at least a grudging pride, too, that sunuvabitch. He had heard Colby defend Charlie to other agents who would come in on a case now and then, the blank stare a dead give-away to their disbelief. He had heard Colby warn naysayers, and seen him gaze at Charlie fondly, as if he was...
He could never let Charlie work a case again. He could never let Alan meet him for lunch again and run into new team members. He was too friendly, dammit, he would have them over for dinner within the week. Don wondered if he could talk his father and brother into moving.
He started to tip the bottle back again, but somebody pried it out of his hand. He looked up, stunned. What kind of FBI agent was he, not even hearing someone sneak up on him? "Wha?", he cried, recoiling and finding himself stopped by a solid wall. He looked down blearily and was further surprised to find himself sitting on the floor in the kitchen. The refrigerator door was open, and he was surrounded by dead soldiers. Apparently, he was mixing a little Bud with Jack.
Charlie's face swam before him and he heard his brother's knees creak as he sat down on the floor opposite him, Indian-style. "Hey," Don greeted, wondering how the Whiz Kid had materialized in his kitchen. He reached out a shaky hand for the bottle of Jack. "Gimmee."
Charlie blinked at him twice, and then did what Don least expected. He tipped the bottle himself, and drained it into his own throat. When he was finished, he let it drop with a thud from his fingers and looked around the kitchen. "You got any more?"
For some reason, that sobered Don right up. Charlie, to his knowledge, was not exactly a two-fisted drinker. Certainly not a teetotaler, either, but wallowing in whiskey was not his usual modus operandi. Don tried to lift his eyebrows, but found that he could not move his facial muscles. Finally, he shrugged. "Can't 'member."
Charlie popped back up like a jack-in-the-box fast enough to make Don dizzy, and he squeezed his eyes shut. "Wait," the youngest Eppes commanded. "I'll look." Don kept his eyes shut throughout the noise of cupboards opening and shutting, and several thunks hitting the floor. He felt a slight breeze as the refrigerator door was shut. He finally opened his eyes again when Charlie grabbed his shoulder and used it to lower himself back to the floor, this time sitting next to him.
Don heard the creaking knees again, and shook his head in wonder. "Are you old?"
Charlie snorted and shoved a half-empty bottle of vodka at him. "Today? No shit."
Don contemplated the bottle. "I shouldn't mish drings."
Charlie grabbed the vodka, wrenching it so forcefully from his hand that Don was afraid his brother might have broken his finger for a moment. "Then give it back. I hardly had any Jack. And no beer," he added, a slight accusatory tone to his voice. "You had beer."
Don knew he should probably pursue this rather abrupt personality change, but the Jack and the Bud were catching up to him. His head lolled back against the wall and he slumped to the side a little. He felt his brother's warm shoulder against his and closed his eyes again. How could anyone believe that was expendable? Charlie's breathing was harsh and slightly congested in the kitchen, as if he either was getting a cold or had been crying himself, and Don found that he didn't want to know which one. At least not yet. Right now, he just wanted to sit on the kitchen floor, and feel Charlie's firm, live flesh sitting next to him, and convince himself that Colby was the bad guy, here. Colby was the one who had done something wrong. This was all on Colby. He sniffed, and tried to tell himself again that it wasn't his fault.
The next time Don opened his eyes, rotating his head lazily against the wall, he saw that Charlie was still drinking. He wondered vaguely how long it had been. His peripheral vision took in the empty vodka bottle on the floor, and he lowered his eyes enough to see Charlie gripping a beer with one hand, and Jose Cuervo with the other. That probably wasn't a good idea. "You're mishing," Don noted roughly, bumping his shoulder into Charlie's.
His brother's head jerked up a little and he raised both bottles at the same time. "Shuddup," he answered, tonelessly. "Thish shucks."
Don started giggling, which probably shocked him more than anything had all day. "Drung," he teased, then cleared his throat and tried again, concentrating on enunciation. "You're shit-faced," he said clearly.
The two bottles tinkled as the glass met when Charlie took turns tipping first one, and then the other, into his mouth. He grimaced when the tastes comingled and abruptly set both bottles down. "I'll lay down, now," he announced, and promptly began to slide down the wall.
Don tried to push his own body away from the wall, but his t-shirt was stuck with the glue of alcoholic sweat. He noticed for the first time that it was almost completely black in the apartment, the glow of a night light next to the kitchen entrance offering the only break in the darkness. He finally managed to lift his heavy head away from its resting point enough to locate Charlie's outline on the floor. His brother had curled onto his side, his erratic hair haloed around him. His own head was shoved into Don's thigh. He heard a soft snore, as he exercised enough muscle control to lift the arm closest to Charlie and bury his hand in that ridiculous hair. His fingers fisted around the curls and Don held on for dear life.
He let his head fall back against the wall and focused on the feelings. The soft, slightly damp-from-sweat hair that he held. The solid push of Charlie's head into his leg. The hot wind of his breath near his knee.
This was not expendable; and he would kill the next man who thought that it was.