Disclaimer: I don't own the characters and I don't make any money off of them.
A/N: So the muse came back for a couple of minutes. I hope she sticks around. Thanks as always to ritt, the world's best beta and sounding board!
It was early evening by the time I found myself at the Craftsman home that meant so much to me. After a long, hard day I was looking forward to a good home-cooked meal and some quality time with my father and younger brother. As I let myself in the front door – I swear for a genius Charlie doesn't get the concept of locking it – I find myself staring at the back of a man who is neither my father nor my brother. I can just see my family over his shoulder, looking at me with unease. It's then I notice the dark-haired man in front of me has a tell-tale bulge under his jacket, no doubt a concealed weapon. I quickly draw my gun and aim it between his shoulder blades.
He slowly turns around and I can see he's shocked that I'm holding a gun on him. He must not have realized he had broken into the home of an FBI agent's family.
"Take out that gun you have under the jacket," I order with steel in my voice. "Nice and slow."
His eyes dart back to my family and I thrust the gun forward.
"No, Donnie," my father says with a hint of a tremor in his voice. Uh-oh, has this intruder done something else to them? Hidden a bomb? Kidnapped one of our friends or family and hidden them away for leverage? Is there another intruder hiding just out of sight, waiting to gun me down?
"Dad?" I ask. "You and Charlie okay?"
They only stare at me in silence. Obviously the man standing before me has frightened them terribly, but I don't know how.
"What's going on?" I demand. "What did you do to my family?"
He angrily glares at me while starting to slowly move between me and my family.
"I said freeze. Keep moving and I will shoot." I spare a quick glance around the room looking for anything out of place. "You alone?"
The man I'm holding at gunpoint finally speaks. "Put the gun down and maybe you can walk away from this."
"And leave you to do whatever you were going to do to my father and brother? Not a chance." I motion toward an empty chair, hoping that I can get him seated, disarmed and handcuffed and then call for backup. "Sit down."
He stares at me in defiance so I paste a menacing look on my face and step toward him. Nobody is going to hurt my family.
"Donnie," my father pleads.
"What is it, Dad?" I study my father's face for any sign of what I'm missing. I look at Charlie next and my hearts breaks at the terror I see there. "Charlie? It's okay, just tell me what he's done."
My younger brother shakes his head and presses closer to our father. Out of the corner of my eye I sense movement and look around just in time to find the intruder barreling toward me. I lift my gun to fire and just make out the sound of my father's cry over the roar of the gunshot.
I land on the floor with my attacker's weight crashing on top of me. We struggle with one another, me trying to aim my gun and him trying to pry it from my hand. I notice he seems to be weakening and summon up one last surge of strength, managing to roll us over so that I'm on top. It's then that I see blood on his shoulder and realize my shot had hit my target, just not center mass. In one last act of desperation he wrenches a hand free and lands a punch to my solar plexus. Because he's weakened from his injury, it's not a hard blow but enough to knock the wind out of me and allow him to roll me off of him and onto the floor. I suppose it's my struggle to catch my breath that distracts me so that I don't see the gun in his hand until it's too late.
"Freeze!" he yells at me in an odd sort of role-reversal from earlier.
Not knowing what he has planned for family but definitely willing to give my life to save theirs, I make a last-ditch effort to stop my attacker. I raise my weapon a few inches only to be stopped by a sudden roar in my ears and a fiery pain in my chest. I collapse to the cold hardwood floor and try to fight against the darkness creeping up around me.
Even though my vision is becoming blurrier by the minute, I see Charlie run to the intruder's side and press his hand against the man's injured shoulder. I know Charlie doesn't want anyone to die but I still find it almost impossible to believe he would attend to my attacker's injury before mine. Then I see my father rushing to my side and my spirits lift – Dad will take care of me.
My father carefully kneels by my side and reaches a shaky hand toward me. I smile through the pain and close my eyes in anticipation of his comforting touch. Instead I feel my gun being yanked from my hand. I open my eyes to find my dad glaring down at me before moving away from me to join Charlie.
"Hang on, Donnie," I hear him say, only he's not looking at me. "I'm going to call for police and the paramedics."
"The gun…" the intruder mumbles.
"I took it away from him, son. And he's not going anywhere."
My father's right about that – I couldn't move a muscle if I wanted to. In fact, I'm becoming colder and more numb by the minute. A tear slides down my cheek as I wonder why my family won't come to my aid.
"Dad," I whisper though I think the word is too quiet for anyone to hear. "Help… me…" My eyelids are too heavy now and I lose the battle to keep them open. The darkness rises up to claim me and I welcome its embrace.
"Alfred Bullock," Don read from the report he held in his hand. "Who was he?"
"He was from Albuquerque," Megan informed him as she leaned forward in her chair. "Apparently he and his wife were hostages in a bank robbery job you worked. You led the team that went in and caught the robbers but not before two hostages were killed during the standoff."
"Bullock's wife?" Don asked.
Megan chewed her lip and nodded.
"So… what? He blamed me?"
"No, I don't think so. I think he admired you. After all, he'd been unable to do anything except sit by and watch as his wife was murdered. When you came in and successfully led the rescue, I think he thought if he'd only been like you he might have saved her. Over time that idea morphed into something a lot more disturbing."
"Him thinking he was me." Don sighed and leaned back in his hospital bed. "Why Charlie's house though? Why not come after me in my apartment?"
"He wasn't after you," she clarified. "We found hundreds of pictures of you, your family, us… everything and everyone you associated with in your daily life. He probably noticed that you sought comfort from your family when you were in need so it naturally followed that he would, too. You just happened to be there that night."
"Crazy." Don winced as he shifted in the bed.
"Are you in pain?" she asked with concern. "Want me to call the nurse?"
"Nah, not yet. I want to talk to Dad and Charlie first. It can't have been easy to have some stranger break into their house and put them through pure hell before dying right before their eyes."
Megan frowned. "Yeah, they've both been pretty shaken up. I think they need to be with you now."
"And me with them."
She smiled and patted his good shoulder. "I agree. I'll let them in on my way out."
In less than a minute Don saw his father and brother practically sprint to the door to his side. "I'm okay, really."
"Ah yes," Alan said. "I forgot getting shot was the definition for okay."
Don fought back a smile at the sarcasm in his father's voice. "How about we compromise and say I'll be okay?"
Don rolled his eyes at his father's obvious play on words. He looked at Charlie and tried to gauge how he was coping with the incident. "Charlie?"
"I'm still trying to wrap my head around it all," he confessed as he stared at the floor.
He had been afraid this would be particularly hard on Charlie, even with all of the experience he'd gained by working with the FBI for the past four years. "It's going to take some time, Buddy, that's all."
"I know," Charlie agreed. "I mean it's just... the thought of…"
Don held his breath as his brother struggled to express his thoughts. But just as soon as Don's tension and worry had reached its peak, it was dashed away by the younger man's next words.
"The thought of two Don Eppes?" Charlie looked up with a twinkle in his eyes. "I don't think the world is ready for that."
As his father and brother both laughed, Don simply smiled and settled against his pillow. He had a feeling they would all recover from the traumatic experience just fine.