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! Thanks to Z, too, for her support.
WARNING – dark story!
The man on the porch didn't respond, merely kept rocking back and forth as he had been doing ever since Charlie had spotted him a few minutes ago.
"Don?" Charlie called again as he crept forward through the dark gloom of the night. "Bro? Can you hear me?"
He received no verbal response although the rocking seemed to speed up.
"Hey, Don," Charlie whispered as his concern skyrocketed. "You gonna answer me?" He gently eased himself to sit next to his brother, quickly sucking in his breath as he got a good look at the other man's face. "Don?"
The other man turned to face him and for a moment Charlie didn't recognize him. Don's eyes were so… empty. Empty and lifeless. As his gaze swept across his older brother's form, Charlie noticed that every muscle in Don's body was so tense that he determined Don's rocking was probably not voluntary, merely a way for his body to keep from seizing up.
Charlie leaned closer and reached out a hand, not quite able to bring himself to touch his brother's form. "Hey Don, you're scaring me."
"I…" Don's mouth clamped shut and he shook his head violently.
"What?" Charlie implored. "Talk to me."
"They didn't get it right."
Charlie frowned in confusion. "Who didn't?"
Don shook his head again, but this time there was no violence in the movement. "I told them… I told them!"
"All of them," Don whispered and Charlie was stunned to hear his voice break. "They didn't listen."
The younger man ran through the past few days in an attempt to decipher his brother's words. There had been a case that had gone to trial. What was it? Charlie wondered. It was bad, he knew and Don had been having a really rough time with it. God, what was it?
Don suddenly grabbed Charlie's arm and clung to him like a drowning man. "Why didn't they listen to me? Why?"
Brandon Marsh… Marshall? Marston? Something like that. "The jury, Don? They didn't listen?"
"None of them." Don took a shaky breath and pressed his head into Charlie's shoulder. "The judge didn't listen either. He threw out our best evidence."
Charlie sat in silence, feeling his brother's pain but having no idea how to ease it. He only hoped his presence would do something for his brother.
"They let him walk."
"God, no," Charlie growled. "That man was pure evil."
"All those kids, Charlie," Don breathed. "Twelve of them. Think about the ones we hadn't found out about yet. Think of them."
Charlie carefully eased his brother closer and hugged him against his chest. "We'll do something, Don. I'll… I'll run the numbers. We'll think of something."
Don leaned into his brother's embrace and closed his eyes. "Too late."
"No, it's not!" Charlie whispered fiercely. "We'll come up with something."
Don shook his head. "He walked out of the courthouse a free man."
"He hailed a cab."
Charlie stared down at the man in his arms. "C-cab?"
"It took him to his sister's house."
"She was so glad to see him. Can you believe that?"
Charlie's head snapped up as he heard what sounded like sirens in the distance.
"He would have killed more kids, Charlie. He wouldn't have stopped."
As the sirens grew louder, the knot in the pit of Charlie's stomach grew larger. "Don," He whispered with anguish.
The agent angled his head to better see his brother. The moonlight danced in the emptiness of his eyes as he spoke. "I couldn't let him kill any more kids."
"God, no," Charlie's voice was barely audible. He hugged his brother tighter and squeezed his eyes shut as he tried to block out the sound of the approaching sirens. "Don," he cried softly.
"S'okay, Charlie. He won't hurt anyone else."
As the sirens became deafening, Charlie clung to the man in his arms for dear life. The man whom he'd admired and looked up to his whole life.
A serial killer's last victim.