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!
If I ignore him he'll go away.
"Donny? Are you asleep?"
You're the one who says I'm supposed to stay in bed and rest. Don felt the bed shift and fought back the urge to sigh. I'm really not up for a talk right now.
"…doesn't want to wait."
"Who?" Don winced at his voice, scratchy and raw from the remnants of the pneumonia.
Alan paused and Don could feel the worry emanating from him. "Stan, Donny," his father repeated. "Our client is insisting we meet with him today. I'd say no but this man is…"
Don knew he should probably pay attention but his head was starting to pound again and all he wanted to do was drift back to blissful unconsciousness. Ironic, really, Don thought. As much as he hovers and hounds me to rest, Dad is the reason I'm not at the moment.
"…eye on you while I'm gone."
Great, if there's one person worse than Dad in mother hen mode, it's Charlie. "Not a baby."
"I know that," Alan assured him. "But you're running a fever off and on and the coughing spells still sneak up on you at times." Don felt his father's hand rub his shoulder. "Humor an old man, okay?"
Don sighed and snuggled more deeply into the bed. "Fine." Don't expect me to be nice, though.
"Thank you. I'll be back this evening." The kiss placed on his temple wasn't a surprise, just a source of mild annoyance. The mattress shifted again and, knowing his father had left him alone, Don sank back into a restful slumber.
Don stirred but didn't open his eyes. When did it go so hot in here? Don't you know how to turn on the a/c, Chuck?
Charlie's voice is higher pitched than usual. Wonder if he and Larry were doing some sort of helium balloon experiment.
"…sit up? You'll breathe easier."
A wonderfully cool hand was pressing at his shoulder, urging him to sit up. Don wearily obeyed, trying not to fully wake up in the process. He recognized the early warning signs of a coughing spell and was hoping he could sleep through it. The fingers on the comforting hand brushed against his forehead and Don was certain he felt long, manicured nails on the tips. Did Charlie lose a bet or something?
Maybe I am still asleep… Charlie sure does sound like a woman. "Chuck?"
"Is that the nickname your brother hates so much?"
Don's eyes shot open and he struggled to focus on the figure in front of him. Once his vision cleared, he almost left an FBI agent-shaped hole in the wall behind him. "Millie?"
What the hell did Dad do to me? "Why… how… what are you…?"
"Your father didn't tell you I'd be keeping an eye on you today?"
"No," Don insisted as he searched his foggy brain. "I mean, yes… well, he did say… but I thought…"
"Ah," she chuckled. "That certainly clears things up."
Suddenly self-conscious, Don pulled the blanket higher in an attempt to cover his bare chest. "I thought he was talking about Charlie."
"Millie… Charlie… I see how the two could be easily confused."
Don blushed. "I am sick," he replied indignantly.
"You were tuning your father out," Millie accused him. "You thought he was being overprotective."
Don remained silent, deciding that he'd best not incriminate himself in front of his father's… what? 'Girlfriend' sounded so wrong to him and yet he knew that's pretty much what she had become.
"He's that way with me, too."
"Huh?" Did she just read my mind?
"I tripped over a crack in the sidewalk," she informed him. "Of course, if the landscapers around here had any common sense, they'd put a root barrier down so the trees wouldn't destroy the sidewalks."
"Right," Don nodded, although he was totally baffled by her words.
"Oh, right," she smiled. "I tend to get sidetracked easily. I think your brother has picked up on that, too. I'll be about to give him a suggestion or assign him something he doesn't want to do and he'll start talking about a subject he knows I'm interested in. The other day I was going to ask him to be on a committee that oversees-"
"Millie?" Don interrupted.
"I've done it again," she laughed. "What was I saying before?"
"I…" Don studied her face and gave an apologetic shrug. "I have no idea."
"I suppose it will come back to me, eventually. You know, maybe I should carry around a little notebook so I can write these things down. You have no idea how many times I've had a good idea come to me only to disappear as soon as I get in a position to jot it down." Millie cocked her head to the side and tapped her lip. "I bet that's why your brother has so many chalkboards everywhere. That would make it a lot easier to… Don?"
He'd known it was coming but somehow the coughing spell still caught him off-guard. His lungs painfully contracted in an effort to clear the congestion in his chest and all he could do was clench his fists and hope the spell would pass. Don was vaguely aware of two firm hands pounding on his back, loosening the mucus and making the process a little easier. When he could finally breathe again, he sagged back against the headboard and managed a weak smile. "Like an old pro."
"It will get better," Millie promised him as she handed him the bottle of water he kept by the bed. "Just keep on keeping on."
Don raised an eyebrow as he took a swallow of the room-temperature liquid. "Nothing keeps you down, does it?"
"Just call me Molly Brown."
Don gave her a bemused look.
"The Unsinkable Molly Brown? My goodness, what has your father been teaching you all these years?"
Millie opened her mouth to speak but was quickly overcome with laughter. "Very funny! I can see you have your father's sense of humor. Your brother… he shares a special sense of humor that only Larry can truly appreciate."
"Indeed." Her face brightened and she waved a hand at him. "He hovers."
Don let his head sag against the wall as he rubbed a hand over his eyes. He felt like he was riding a roller coaster… blind folded. "What?"
"When I tripped," she said as if she was puzzled as to why he was confused. "He took me home and parked me on the couch. Wouldn't let me get up to do anything the rest of the night even though I assured him the injury wasn't that bad. He is a little…"
"A little… mother hennish?"
"It's because he cares," Don snapped, angry that Millie would talk badly about his father's desire to help her out.
The roller coaster had taken another sharp turn and Don wasn't sure how much more he could take. "What?"
"It's because he cares. That's why he took care of me." She paused until she saw a flicker of understanding in Don's eyes. "That's why he wanted me here with you today."
Don quirked a smile at her and nodded. "You're good."
"I have a lot of practice manipulating your brother," she confided with a wink.
"Best pastime in the world. Although I'm not so good at it any more." He heard his father's car pulling into the driveway and grinned. "You do that to Dad, too?"
"That's classified," Millie deadpanned. She patted Don's hand and rose from his bed. "I'll go tell him what a handful you've been. Wouldn't want him getting jealous."
Don chuckled. "Right."
Millie reached the doorway and turned around. "About Charlie…"
"James Bond. Those two little words will make him do anything." She winked. "But you didn't hear that from me."
Millie disappeared from the doorway and Don slid back under the covers. He knew his father was fond of Millie and that Charlie was, although it certainly hadn't started out that way. The only Eppes man that had left was him and he'd been wondering how he would take to her. As her departing words echoed in his head, Don beamed.
Yeah, Millie and me are going to get along just fine.