Don decided not to go back to work until Charlie was out of the hospital. He stayed with his little brother, too afraid that if he left Charlie would get hurt again. So when the time finally came for Charlie to go home, Don went to work before Alan came to get Charlie.

When he arrived at the FBI office, he had only one person that he wanted to see. As soon as he reached his floor, he walked out of the elevator and straight to David's desk, barely keeping himself from hitting the agent.

David saw Don coming and knew that he had it coming. Don's face showed the anger that David had expected. David knew that he deserved it. He had put Charlie in danger. He was so thankful that Charlie was going to be okay. If anything worse had happened, David knew that Don would have personally made sure he never saw the light of day again. Judging by Don's face, he looked like that's how he felt now.

"David, conference room. Now."

David nodded in consent, knowing there was no arguing with Don. He silently walked into the conference room, his head hung low in shame, feeling much like a student sent to the principal's office.

"You care to explain what the hell you were thinking when you brought a civilian to an active crime scene?"


"Do you realize how stupid that was? You not only put Charlie in danger, but you put your job in danger, too!"

"Don, I accept full responsibility for my actions. I... I wasn't thinking."

"You're damn right you weren't thinking. You really screwed up this time, Sinclair. You got my brother shot. He could have died!"

"I know, Don. I'm so sorry."

"You're lucky I haven't gotten your ass fired. You have to think! You don't put an unprotected and unarmed mathematician in the view of a sniper! That gets people killed, Sinclair! You'd better be thankful that Charlie didn't die, or you would have been out of here faster than you can blink. I would have made sure of it."

"I understand." David hung his head once more.

"If you ever make a mistake like that again, I will make sure you never work for the FBI again. You understand me? Thanks to you, my brother nearly died. I will not tolerate you letting that happen again, with Charlie or anybody else. You're suspended for two weeks. When you get back, I expect you to have remembered what it means to work for the FBI."

"Don? Don't suspend him."

Don turned around when he saw his little brother standing in the doorway, cradling his injured arm against his chest.

"This doesn't concern you, Charlie! Go home!" Don barked angrily.

"Yes, it does. I convinced David to take me with him. He didn't want me to. But I convinced him that I could help. It was my fault I got shot, not David's."

"Charlie, you don't have to do this. I shouldn't have let you talk me into it-" David spoke, but was interrupted.

"No. It was my fault. David was doing his job. I convinced him to bring me. It wasn't his idea. He told me to stay close to him so I wouldn't get hurt, and I didn't listen. It was my fault."

Don stared at Charlie, then looked between him and David.

"Is that true?" Don asked David, the anger leaving his voice.

"Yes," David said quietly.

Don looked up at the ceiling and gritted his teeth. He couldn't believe this. He had just made a fool of himself yelling at David.

"I'm sorry, David. You're not suspended."

"Thank you."

Don nodded, then charged out of the conference room.

"Don?" Charlie said as Don pushed past him. But Don didn't stop, just kept walking all the way to the elevator. Before Charlie could reach it, the door closed and took away his brother.

Alan came from behind him and pressed a hand on Charlie's back. "Everything okay?"

"No." Charlie's eyes sparkled with tears as he stared at the elevator.

Alan drove Charlie back to their house and Charlie went up to his room to get some sleep. When he woke up, he was surprised to find his brother sitting in a chair beside his bed, like he had while he was in the hospital. For a moment they just stared at each other, then Charlie timidly spoke.

"Are you mad at me?"

Don leaned forward, placing his elbows on his knees. "No, Buddy. I'm not mad at you."


Charlie looked down at his hands before sitting up in bed. He played with the strings on his sheet, trying to distract himself from Don's face.

"I'm not mad at you. I wish I had been able to protect you, though. If it was David's fault, I could have hurt him, I could have fired him. I could have made sure Crane didn't ever get out of prison, if he had lived. Those are ways I can protect you." Don reached out and stopped Charlie's hands from fiddling with his sheet and he looked up at his older brother. "But I can't protect you from yourself. I wish I could, Buddy... but I can't. I was so... scared when you got shot. I thought for sure I was going to lose you. When I was at the hospital, I didn't know if I could stay, because I knew that the doctors were going to tell me they couldn't save you. I couldn't deal with that, Buddy. When I knew you were going to be okay, I just wanted someone to blame. And I could blame David... But I can't blame you."

"I'm sorry, Don."

Don looked down at the floor and nodded, a small smile on his face. "I know, Buddy. I just couldn't bear to lose you. Ever. When you talked about Mom, I thought for sure I'd never get to see you again. I thought you were dead... How can I be mad at someone who days ago I thought was dead?"

Don's eyes filled with tears as he looked at his brother. "The only thing I was mad about was that I had no one to blame anymore, and that I'd yelled at David for no reason. I know he still shouldn't have let you come with him, but I know how stubborn you can be." Don smiled through the tears as he thought about that. "But when I knew it was your own decision, I couldn't get mad. I don't feel any anger toward you, Buddy. I can't."

Don held onto both of Charlie's hands when he looked up at him. "You have to promise me you'll never do that again. I can't go through something like that again. I can't lose you. Promise me you won't make me."

Charlie was surprised at the tears in his older brother's eyes and he felt bad for being the cause of them. He reached out and hugged his brother. "I promise."

Don hugged Charlie back, pressing his face into his brother's shoulder. He was so glad he hadn't lost Charlie. He honestly didn't know if he would have been able to survive if he had. Years ago he didn't realize how much Charlie meant to him, but now that they spent so much time together, Don knew that he couldn't go back to the way they had been. He wanted his brother in his life. He wanted to be with him. And when he thought that that could have changed, he hadn't know what he would do.

"I'm sorry, Don."

"It's okay, Buddy... as long as I have you, it's okay."