This story can be considered a companion piece to "Zeroed in On Charlie,"but either can be read alone. It is about when Margaret, Charlie and Don's mom, died and what happened up to a little after her funeral. A lot of angst and drama will now ensue. Be prepared for tears.
I do not own the Eppes family, Numb3rs, or anything to do with the show. I just write these stories from my head. I'm not trying to steal anything.
"Donny!" Alan screamed from his bedroom. He had gone upstairs to check on his wife after he'd made him and his oldest son breakfast. Margaret had been sleeping peacefully beside him when he got out of bed, so he left her to her sleep. Now, when he came back upstairs, she wasn't waking from that sleep.
Don came running up the stairs, two at a time. He had been about to go out the door when he heard his father's panicked call. His heart was racing – not just from running – as he walked into his parents' bedroom. When he saw his mother's calm face, he knew that this was the end.
"We gotta get her to the hospital! You drive!" Alan cried, fear written all over his face. He wasn't ready. He had told himself over and over again that when the time came, he would be ready. But he wasn't ready yet. So he couldn't lose her.
Alan scooped his fragile wife into his arms and carried her to Don's car. He sat with her in the back seat while Don drove quickly to the hospital. Alan held Margaret close, kissing her temple and murmuring to her how it was going to be okay.
"Don't die, love. I still need you," Alan whispered into her ear, pressing his face into the crook of her neck.
Margaret moaned and turned into him. It was the most response Alan had gotten out of her, so he clung to the hope that she would be okay.
"It's going to be all right, sweetheart. Just hold on for me, okay?"
Alan's eyes filled with tears as he thought about her dying. If it wasn't this time, it would only be another. Sooner or later, he was going to lose the love of his life. Tears slipped off his face and onto Margaret's face as he rocked her back and forth.
"Hold on, my darling. Please."
Don briefly looked up in the rearview mirror, and quickly had to look back at the road because the sight made his eyes fill with tears. He blinked rapidly and breathed in deeply, trying to fight his emotions off. Though his father was more open with his emotions than Don, he still rarely showed such weakness and vulnerability. Knowing that his father's words were likely useless broke Don's heart. He didn't want to let his mother go. But what must his father be feeling? After spending over thirty years together, how would Alan feel having his wife leave him for forever?
Knowing he couldn't think about that or he wouldn't be able to drive, Don shook his head and focused on the road.
When they got to the hospital, Alan quickly got out and carried Margaret inside. Don ran ahead and got help. Soon they had Margaret on a rolling bed and the doctors took her back.
With Margaret no longer in his arms, Alan stood, frozen in places, his arms feeling emptier than they ever had before. He stared at the doors that his wife had been taken through, and couldn't bring himself to move.
"Come on, Dad. Let's go sit down," Don said as he put his hand on his father's arm. Numbly, Alan let his son lead him to the ER waiting room chairs.
Alan sat silently for several minutes before he came out of his fear-filled daze. "Did you ask for Dr. Wilson?"
"Yeah, Dad. It's taken care of," Don responded. He had known to ask for Dr. Wilson, Margaret's oncologist. He had made enough trips with his mother to know who to call if something like this happened.
"We left Charlie! We should go get him. He shouldn't be home alone."
Don cringed. His brother would never come. If Charlie couldn't handle their mom when she was dying at home, he wouldn't be able to handle this.
"Dad, I don't think Charlie wants to be here. You know how he's been."
"Exactly! He can't be home alone like this. Please, go get him," Alan begged, his eyes filling with tears. There was too much to think about right now. What if he lost his wife? What if his son needed him? It was too much for him.
Before Don could take two steps, Dr. Wilson stepped out and headed toward them. Don froze in place and a feeling much like car sickness settled in his stomach. Numbly, he moved back to his seat beside his father and grabbed Alan's hand.
Dr. Wilson's solemn face was enough to put icy blades down Alan's spine. When the doctor spoke, Alan felt like screaming.
"I'm so sorry, Mr. Eppes. We... we did all that we could."
Alan's heart shattered to an unfixable state. With a loud cry, he doubled over and buried his face in his hands. The sobs came from somewhere deep inside, and made such pain-filled cries that Dr. Wilson even felt tears come to his eyes. Before the doctor left, Alan raised his tear-stained face and asked if he could see her. The doctor obliged, taking him back to see Margaret one more time.
Looking at his still wife, Alan's tears poured down his face. Her eyes were closed as she lay peacefully on a hospital bed. Alan moved to the bed and sat down, scooping her limp body into his arms. For a moment he just stared at her once-lively face. Then it struck him that she would never talk to him again, never smile, never breathe, never open her eyes. She would no longer live. And that was killing him.
"No!" Alan screamed before pressing his face into Margaret's neck. Holding her tightly against his chest, Alan rocked back and forth, weeping for his lost love. His tears wet her cooling skin and her silk nightgown.
"No! Don't die! Please, don't leave me. I love you, Margaret. Please, please, stay with me... Don't leave me. I still need you."
Alan looked into her face, half expecting her to listen and miraculously open her eyes and tell him she was fine. But her kind heart no longer beat for anyone. The world had lost an angel, his angel. And now he felt alone.
Don waited for his father to leave before he went to the restroom. Looking angry, he entered a stall and pounded his fist against its wall. As his fist came back, the tears simultaneously began to fall. He pressed a hand to his mouth to stifle his cries and slid down the opposite wall he had punched. Touching the floor, he was overcome by tears and sobs.
His mother was gone. All those years Don had spent away came crashing back, taunting him for missing precious time with her. Guilt surrounded him like a warm blanket, causing more tears to come.
Don didn't know what to do. He had known he was going to lose her soon, but nothing had prepared him for it. Knowing that he had a very limited amount of time with his mother had scared Don half to death. He had spent so much time with her since he had transferred to Los Angeles. But it would never be enough.
Parents were supposed to die before their children, but not when they were barely fifty-three. Margaret Eppes had so much life left in her. If only she hadn't gotten cancer. She had had so much to offer the world, but she had cruelly been taken too soon. Don didn't think it was fair.
When he was able to compose himself enough to face the world, a world without his mother, Don went to the sink and rinsed his red eyes, trying to erase the signs of tears, though it was expected since he'd just lost his mother. He had to get his father and take him home.
Alan was standing beside Dr. Wilson, listening to the doctor talk about something Don couldn't hear. As he neared, Alan turned and saw him. Though his own grief was still strong, he opened his arms wide and stepped toward his son, ready to offer comfort.
Don gave a broken smile and stepped into his father's arms. The two began to cry once more, as they held onto each other. Their pain was more than they could bear.
"Let's go home," Alan said, leading his son by the shoulders. Don willingly followed, knowing he would need to drive. As they drove home, both felt the absence of Margaret with them. They knew it wasn't right. She was supposed to be with them, but she wouldn't be making any trips home with them... ever again.
Sadly Alan walked up the sidewalk, into the home he and Margaret had made together. They'd spent most of their lives in that house. And now that she was gone, it just didn't feel like home.
Wanting to be alone, Alan went up the stairs into the room he had shared with his wife. He laid down on her side of the bed, pressed his face to the pillow and breathed in her scent. The tears started once more, and he couldn't keep from crying out her name.
Don knew that when his father went upstairs, it was his duty to inform his brother about their mother's death. Originally, Don had planned to take it upon himself to tell Charlie, so it didn't matter. He wondered if Charlie would even react.
Tentatively Don walked to the garage, opening the door just a slit first to look in. As usual, Charlie was standing in front of a chalkboard, writing furiously. Don slowly entered and when he reached his brother, he tried getting Charlie's attention.
"Charlie? Charlie?" Don spoke his brother's name, raising his voice with each time. When that didn't work, he grabbed his little brother by the shoulders.
"Charlie, look at me."
Charlie pushed, and tried to keep working, walking out of Don's grasp. Refusing to let go, Don held on tightly and waited for his brother to look at him.
"Charlie!" Don shouted, growing impatient.
As though a switch had been flipped, Charlie suddenly looked at Don. Staring blankly, he waited for Don to say something.
"Buddy, I'm so sorry. Mom... Mom died," Don said softly, trying to push away the anger he felt toward his brother.
Backing up sharply, Charlie got out of his brother's hold and kept walking backwards until he hit a chair, and stumbled.
"No. No, she can't be dead."
"Well, I'm sorry, Buddy, but she is." Don was surprised that he was talking to his brother. It had been so long.
As if gaining strength, Charlie stepped forward and up to his brother. "No. She... she can't be dead. It's supposed to work. I'm going to save her. So she can't be dead."
Charlie stood face-to-face with his brother. Looking as angry as Don had ever seen him, Charlie jabbed a finger into his brother's chest. "You're lying."
Don was shocked. "Charlie! How could I lie about something like that?"
"You're lying! She isn't dead! She isn't dead! You're a liar! I'm going to save her. You'll see!" Charlie screamed at his brother, pounding on Don's chest and shoulders.
Don swiftly grabbed his brother in his arms and held him tightly so Charlie couldn't fight him.
"No! You're lying! Let go of me!" Charlie yelled, hysterical.
"Charlie! Charlie, calm down!" Don screamed near his brother's ear, trying to get him to settle down.
As the fight slowly left Charlie, he stopped yelling and went limp in Don's arms. He sank to the floor, with Don by his side.
"Mom!" Charlie screamed after a moment of shocked silence. Then he hugged himself as the tears fell down his face and gut-wrenching sobs built up. Don's tears came once more and he hugged his brother. Charlie remained stiff as he cried, not hugging Don back. The sobs turned into hysterical screams and Charlie was no longer aware of what sounds he made.
In an effort to calm his brother down, Don gripped Charlie tightly to him. He rocked with Charlie back and forth, trying to soothe the heartbroken cries. Soon Charlie reacted enough to hang onto Don in a white-knuckle grip. His cries gradually began to fade until Charlie just sat in silence.
"Are you going to be okay?" Don asked when his brother wouldn't speak to him. He didn't get an answer, so he stood up to leave. Before he got to the door, Charlie spoke.
"Come get me for the funeral."
Don turned back and looked at Charlie. He smiled sadly at his brother. "I will."
Don stepped outside the garage, but watched from a small window to see what his brother would do.
Charlie stayed on the floor for several minutes, then stood and went to a chalkboard. His movements were sloppy, as though he had lost his train of thought. When he went back to the boards, he wrote for a little while, but then, suddenly, stopped. Staring at the writing, Charlie looked at the meaningless words. And then, he turned from it and got down on his knees and cried... because there was no point anymore. Because his mom was gone.
This is the first part of it. It will go on in a little bit more depth of each of the Eppes men's feelings about Margaret's death, and like I say, go a little bit past Margaret's funeral. I hope you liked the first chapter. It made me cry a little, so you know it's sad.