THE MEANING OF PANCAKES

Disclaimer: Not mine, not making any money. Just playing in the "Numb3rs" sandbox for a little bit.

Occurs post "Hot Shot."

His father and Charlie went to bed after helping him with his statement for the Chandler Yates case. Of course they only went after he insisted he was fine and going to bed himself in a few minutes. That had been over an hour ago.

Don twirled the empty beer bottle dangling in his hand, debating whether to get another one or not. It would be so easy to just let the alcohol chase the demons of this case away…

The only problem was the demons never went away.

Think about something else! Don rubbed his face. What could he focus on where he could be distracted from the fact he had almost been killed?

"Mom made pancakes."

Don sat up straighter in his chair. "Charlie?"

No one answered.

After a moment he slouched down again. Great. Now he was hearing things. 'Course Charlie had said that earlier when telling him about a dream he had. It hadn't sounded very pleasant, at least the first part where their father had been shot in a grocery store. And then why would Charlie dream of their mother making him pancakes? Charlie didn't like pancakes. Never had.

Don smiled remembering when Charlie had made it clear pancakes would never be his first breakfast choice. His brother had been four and starting to show his mathematical genius. Don had been eight, nearly nine. They were both up and hungry. Their mother was in the kitchen making breakfast. From the smell starting to waft through the house, Don knew she was making pancakes.

"All right! Pancakes!" Don was happy. Glancing at Charlie he saw his brother scowling. Before he could say anything, Charlie was running in to the kitchen.

Don followed and got there in time to hear him whining.

"I want something else! I don't like pancakes!"

"Your brother does," their mother replied, trying to reason with her youngest.

"No pancakes!" It wasn't often Charlie raised his voice.

"Okay. No pancakes. I'll make something else."

"Mom, can't I have pancakes?" Don asked.

His mother gave him a look he knew well. "Don, I'm not making three different breakfasts. We'll have pancakes another time."

Now it was his turn to scowl. How could they have pancakes another time if Charlie said he didn't like them and Mom wouldn't make different breakfasts?

"Thanks a lot Chuck!" Don shouted, glaring at his brother. Before his family could react to him using a nickname Charlie already hated, Don left the kitchen and went to his room. He didn't come down until his dad threatened to come up and get him.

The time spent around the table that morning had not been pleasant. Conversation had been forced and it was mostly their parents talking before they all left to go to work or school. Don avoided Charlie as much as possible for a week. And there were no pancakes.

Looking back now, Don saw how irrational he had been. Yet at the time having pancakes was a treat and he had been certain they would never be made in the house again given Charlie's disdain.

But a few weeks later Don awakened to the smell of his favorite breakfast. For a moment he thought he was dreaming. Then he heard his parents' voices and Charlie's. He couldn't make out what they were saying. Curious, he kicked off his covers and went downstairs.

Charlie was waiting for him at the bottom step. "We're having pancakes!"

Don frowned. "I thought you said you didn't like pancakes."

"I like 'em!" Charlie declared.

Don looked at his parents who watched them from the kitchen doorway. There was something in their expressions that let him know they knew Charlie was fibbing as much as he knew he was. Don was confused.

"Come on, boys. Breakfast is ready."

Don laughed, shaking his head. Charlie ate a few pancakes that morning…and many mornings after over the years. He never complained again about them, and it seemed he had forgotten that he ever spoke out against them.

"Thanks, Mom."

FIN