Title: Memento Vivere - Remember to Live
Author: Alice I
Disclaimer: I wish I owned them!
A/N - This story can be considered an extension of "Faith in Your Partner" but it is not necessary to read that first unless of course you would like to. It is only two chapters long and not a half bad piece of writing.
This multi chapter fic is still about Colby and David even though it feels like a good old fashioned Charlie whump!
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Remember to Live
Charlie rode the elevator up to the fourth floor with some anticipation. It was the first case that Don had asked for his help on since Colby's arrest. He didn't count his work in helping to find the wayward agent when he escaped FBI custody since he had inserted himself into that investigation rather forcefully.
During the time away from the FBI, the young mathematician had found that he enjoyed concentrating all of his considerable energy on teaching and his own life pursuits, making something Amita pointed out a few years ago strike him rather profoundly. At that time, he was concerned about Don, and the intensity that his life and job had taken. Amita had wisely observed that he had made Don's life work his life's work by spending the lion's share of his time consulting for the FBI rather than on his own academic career. Spending the better part of the last couple of months devoted to his teaching, his Cognitive Emergence work, and most importantly, his relationship with Amita had allowed him to feel that he had finally achieved some measure of personal and emotional equilibrium in his life. At last, he felt ready to move his life both professionally and personally to the next level.
Yet keeping all of that in mind he had also missed working with Don and the team. It almost felt like a lifetime ago given the drastic events that surrounded Colby's arrest, escape, and subsequent rescue. The fact that he went from being a traitor to his country to a department hero in the space of a breath was stunning and somewhat difficult to absorb, and as it turned out; more for some than others.
Charlie was sure that Don was pleased that his instincts about Colby had been right but the younger Eppes could clearly sense the duality in his brother's feelings toward his former team member. The fact that Colby had been reporting on his actions as well as the rest of the team, not to mention all of the agents in that office, seemed to rankle the man's sense of what was right. Don, along with every other agent in the LA office, had essentially been under investigation. As a team leader Charlie wasn't sure how that made his brother feel. Colby was doing a job, an important job, which Don seemed to understand intellectually and respect, but being under suspicion of treason or anything else must really bother him on a deeper level.
Megan seemed to take this change in Colby's status much more easily than any of the others. Larry who had once declared that the 'X' chromosome was the reason for a woman's sensitivity to the feelings of others outside of herself was now holding that it was Megan's womanhood that allowed her to switch gears more readily than her male counterparts. Whether it was being a woman or the mysterious assignment that Megan had with the DOJ, which Charlie suspected had a higher probability of accuracy; Megan did seem to be the most at ease around Colby within the FBI office.
Charlie himself was just relieved that it had turned out Colby was still one of the good guys. He had spent many a night wondering how he could have been so utterly fooled by the man. He had trusted Colby implicitly, if not with his own life, then with his brother's. He had unbelievable difficulty reconciling what he thought he knew about Colby with what the man had freely admitted to doing. Being away from the FBI and its consulting jobs gave him a respite from those troubling thoughts, at least during his waking hours.
So when it had turned out that Colby was actually innocent of the treason charges and was in fact working undercover, Charlie had readily accepted that as an explanation and allowed himself to feel relieved and delighted that he was in fact right about him all along. Amita laughed when Charlie had said this to her telling him that he always hated being wrong about anything. To her surprise, Charlie had not objected to that assessment, but heartily agreed.
"As a mathematician I rely on my powers of observation to gather data. With incorrect or incomplete data, my mathematical models and expressions wouldn't hold water. So yeah, I do hate being wrong about things because it means that every other assertion based on an incorrect assumption is erroneous."
David was the only person who was showing outward signs of difficulty with this transition. He had been outright aggressive during the hunt for Colby and after he was found, and even though David had been the one to actually save his life, he still held onto his anger at his former partner. Charlie had not spent a lot of time around the team as a whole since Colby's return, but what he had observed of David's behavior showed the man to be cold and stiffly polite toward Colby.
Being called in by Don gave Charlie some hope that the team was on the mend and things would begin to return to normal, but what he found when he walked through the FBI office dashed his hopes quickly. He caught sight of David walking through the bullpen to the break room. Colby greeted him in a friendly manner and David looked as though he was going to completely ignore him but after a few steps he turned his head over his shoulder with an obligatory nod and a "hey" without even slowing down. The look of frustration and disappointment on Colby's face was clear and a little heartbreaking. A moment later Colby's eyes followed David's retreating back shining with a pure resentment that made Charlie sigh.
As if trying to reverse the silent rebuff, Charlie approached Colby openly and shook his hand in a friendly manner patting him on the back.
"Hey, it's good to see you here again."
Colby's shot a quick glance off in the direction of the break room before turning a smile to Charlie.
"Hey ya, Whiz Kid. Shouldn't you be teaching a class or something?"
That earned a confused look from Charlie.
"Don asked me to run some search parameters for finding the lab of this drug ring. Aren't you working the case?"
Colby eyes darted back to the break room for a split second, filling with regret. His voice however sounded optimistic as he said, "Nah, I have accepted a position with the DC office. I'm flying out this afternoon."
Charlie felt as though he had been punched in the gut. He could see that Colby wanted to be here in LA. He knew for a fact that the man considered this to be home and he, at least used to, view these people like his family. Now it seemed that the unresolved issues with David were driving him to the opposite side of the country. This had a disheartening ring of familiarity to it. He had nearly lost his relationship with Don once; it had taken years to really work out their issues, but the work and the difficulty was more than worth it in the end. His relationship with his brother was truly one of the most cherished things in his life. The dull headache that he had woke up with that morning seemed to increase and the smile dropped off his face.
"Are you sure that's what you want, Colby?"
Don spied his brother and called out to him in a loud voice across the bullpen but Charlie still heard Colby's nearly whispered reply as he looked at David emerging from the break room with a cup of coffee in hand.
"I'm sure it's not."
"Hey Charlie, thanks for coming in. You got something for us?"
Charlie looked at his brother with a heavy heart, wishing that he could just take both David and Colby and smack their heads together. Why couldn't they see that they were throwing something important away? But instead, he smiled weakly at Don and held his laptop satchel up slightly indicating that he had results to share. Don saw the look on his brother's face and felt a twinge of concern.
"Hey, you feeling okay, Buddy?" he said, as he draped his arm over the younger man's shoulders.
Turning away from Colby with a sad look on his face, he started walking with Don toward the War Room.
"Yeah, just give me a sec to get this set up."
As Charlie hooked up the media center to his laptop, and the rest of the team gathered, Don noticed that he stopped a couple of times to rub his temple or the back of his neck as though it were sore and stiff. Don's concern grew steadily as Charlie began to explain to the team the results of his analysis. He seemed distracted and had to back track twice after losing his train of thought. Finally, Charlie seemed to give up all together and circled a two-block radius then put an X on an old abandoned warehouse.
"Just take my word for it, go here and you'll find your drug dealers."
This earned him several raised eyebrows and a frown from Don.
"Okay people you heard the man, we roll in five minutes."
As everyone filed out of the War Room to get their perspective jobs done Don stepped over to Charlie. His concern morphed into worry as he got closer and could see pain etched in his brother's eyes. Making sure that everyone had left the room, Don reached his arm around Charlie's shoulders again and spoke quietly but in a tone that broached no argument.
"Charlie, what's going on? And don't tell me that you're fine because it's obvious that you're not."
Charlie had almost finished packing up his laptop and sighed heavily.
"It's this headache; I woke up with it. It wasn't too bad until a few minutes ago, now it's getting worse. I think I need to go home; take a few Excedrin and a nap."
Don tried to look into Charlie's eyes but his face was bent down.
"Is it a migraine?"
"I dunno, maybe... the light is really starting to hurt my eyes."
Don looked out the glass window into the bullpen, noticed Colby looking his way and waved him over. Seeing the worry on Don's face Colby stepped quickly over to the War Room.
"Hey listen, Charlie, I've had a migraine once or twice, and there is no way you should be driving if you have one."
Colby had just stepped into the room and Don looked up at him.
"Hey, do you have time before your flight to drop Charlie off at home?"
Charlie looked up at Don to protest but the light from the florescent overhead stabbed him in the eyes making him visibly wince and he knew that it was an argument he wouldn't win.
"Yeah, sure I've got plenty of time, Don. You okay there, Whiz Kid?"
Charlie was starting to feel a little foolish and nodded briskly as he put his satchel over his shoulder; a move that made his head explode in a psychedelic shower of colorful pain, but he said firmly, "I just have a bit of a migraine and Don doesn't want me to drive."
The increase in pain that Charlie felt was not lost on Don as his brother had hoped, and the agent responded, "Damn straight." Then turning to Colby he said, "Make sure he goes into the house and lies down okay?"
"You got it, boss..." Colby said then stopped short realizing his slip. Don was no longer his boss and the awkwardness that had existed between them seemed to come crashing back. "I'll make sure he goes to bed."
"Hey, I'm not a child, and in case you hadn't noticed, I'm standing right here!" Charlie cried in a petulant tone.
That broke the tension between the FBI agents and they exchanged a genuine smile.
"Come on, Charlie..." Colby said, with a smirk. "Lets get you outta here before they find more work for you."