Disclaimer: Numb3rs does not belong to me. Neither does the chorus to Rodney Atkins's song, Cleanin' This Gun.
Author's Notes: This little bunny grabbed hold of me after Saturday chat over at Numb3rs dot org. We all got to wondering what it would be like for Don's daughter and dating. Wouldn't rest till I finished it yesterday. Don needed a wife, and since Liz is on the outs for now, I borrowed Peyton from my other story.
She's her daddy's girl
Her momma's world
Fill up to the third line. Pour in. Shut the lid. Turn to the right.
Peyton Eppes smiled in satisfaction as the last load of laundry for the day started. If somehow another dirty jersey or stained sock turned up, then it would just have to wait until tomorrow. Both of her sons' clothes had a bad habit of turning up at the last minute and usually after the washing machine and dryer had finished the normal eight loads.
Saturday was laundry day in this Eppes household, but Peyton was done. Donovan's baseball jersey was clean, Cordelia's jeans for tonight had been washed, and Edward's soccer cleats no longer reeked enough to scare off the neighbor's dog. After the kids' clothes had come her and husband's.
The door closed behind her with a snap and Peyton left her and Don's work clothes to the fate of the washing machine. Pictures of their lives floated past her as she walked back down the hall toward the kitchen. The still shots jumped back and forth across a nineteen year timeline.
Don and her at their wedding, wide smiles from the bride and groom, and also the brother and father of the groom.
Another one of her brother in laws wedding; Amita's head was tilted as she laughed outrageously over something that had long since been forgotten.
The birth of each of their three children: first Donovan, barely a year after they had been married; Then Cordelia; and finally their youngest, Edward.
School dances intermixed with birthday parties and sports games.
Like the Craftsman that belonged to Charlie and his family, their house was filled with laughter and love; it was also filled with many a scraped knees, wounded prides, and child filled anger.
Peyton left behind the picture filled hallway and went through the opening into the kitchen, immediately shooing the cat from the counter. Antony fixed baleful eyes on her for disturbing his sunshine filled afternoon nap.
"Well, I'm just sorry there, Mister. You're just going to have to find yourself a new place to sleep and it will not be on my kitchen counter. You shed enough as it is…"
The male Maine Coon gave a twitch of his tail and sauntered out with as much male pride as any cat could have. Antony brought the number of males in this house up to four, leaving herself and her daughter alone to combat the sea of testosterone.
Peyton grabbed a pen and a sheaf of paper from the refrigerator door. Walking around the tiled floor, she began writing down the list of things she would need from the market for dinner. Five chicken breasts were marked down to two as she remembered that it would only be her and Don here tonight.
Speaking of her husband, she thought, Don has been holed up in the office for quite sometime. No doubt he's still upset over what was going to happen tonight.
As if some magic cue from the heavens had allowed Don to read her mind, the office door opened and closed. The sound of heavy footsteps let her know that he was still upset.
If she moved a little to the left, then Peyton could make out his figure. Don had forgone his customary chair in the living room. Instead he had taken up the one that sat directly in the path of the front door, meaning whoever entered would have Don to greet them. His beautiful dark eyes that she had fallen in love with so long ago were cast down at something in his lap. Taking two steps to the left instead of continuing to lean, she followed the path of his fingers as they swept over the dark, cold metal.
Tristan Granger was going to be in for it when he walked through that front door. It was probably a good thing that Cordelia was still upstairs and was not here to see her father.
The second cue from heaven made its presence known as footsteps that sounded like a horse's came from overhead. Seconds later and their only daughter bounded down the stairs. By another stroke of luck, the seventeen year old high school junior bypassed her father in the living room and joined her mother instead.
Peyton watched her daughter as she rummaged through the refrigerator before pulling back with a few carrots in her hand and one in her mouth.
She would have to remember to add carrots to the list.
Cordelia Margaret Eppes had been born a year and a half after Donovan. Named after her grandmothers, she took after both of them, a fact that both Alan and Damin, her father, agreed upon. Cordelia was loving and straightforward just like Margaret Eppes had been, but she also retained the artistic flair that Peyton's mother had been gifted with.
Her two sons had something in their physical make up that took after the Huntzbergers. Donovan had her dark green eyes and Edward had her tawny blonde hair. Cordelia had neither green eyes nor blonde hair. She was the spitting image of Don and his one and only little girl. The same beautiful brown eyes stared back at her from across the kitchen island. Her hair was caught up in a towel but underneath the fabric were locks that mirrored Don's nearly black color.
She was her daddy's girl and his treasure. Nothing could ever be denied to Cordelia if she asked her father. When she was angry, she brooded with the same hooded gaze and firmly set jaw. And when she was happy, her smile stretched from corner to corner and lit up the entire room. Cordelia and Don both had an infectious energy about them that could change any mood.
Cordelia, Cordy as her father affectionately called her, swallowed and spoke around the carrot in her mouth, "Is he here yet?"
"No, he's not," Peyton answered.
Her daughter bit her lower lip and copied the same move that Peyton had done earlier, leaning a little to the left to see out and into the living room. "Dad's sitting in there isn't he? God, I don't understand why he has to do this. I'm not five anymore and I'm not his little girl anymore."
Peyton fixed her daughter with what had been termed 'The Huntzberger Gaze', apparently she and her father had it or so Don liked to tell her, and gave her a small smile. "You will always be your father's little girl, Cordelia. It was the same way with me and Grandpa Damin. Get used to it. It doesn't change."
Another carrot was eaten. "But I'm seventeen now."
The pen scribbled across the grocery list and Peyton added a few things while she answered her daughter: "Yes you are and the rule was set that you could date when you turned seventeen. Your father is not about to go back on that, but it doesn't mean that he has to like it."
The truth was that Don had long said that Cordelia would never date until she was thirty five. The problem had never really come up either. With the Assistant Director of the Los Angeles Branch of the FBI for a father and the Supervisor for the Crime Lab as a mother, not too many boys had actually ventured to ask Cordelia out. Donovan had also seen to protecting her as well, clearly letting everyone he knew that his little sister was off limits.
Some persuasion upon her part had seen to Don agreeing upon the age of seventeen with only minor grumbling on his part. Her birthday had been three months ago and they had had nothing to worry about. Until now and until Tristan Granger had plucked up the courage to ask out Cordelia.
"He's going to be mean to Tristan, isn't he?" Cordelia continued to look out into the living room at her father.
"No…Yes…Probably a little. It's only because he loves you. Tristan is a good boy. I know that and your father knows that. We've only known him since he was born."
Her daughter's brown eyes squinted and she stepped forward. "What's that in Daddy's hands?"
Peyton intercepted her daughter's gaze. "Nothing. Don't worry about it," she blurted out quickly, smiling what she hoped passed for reassuring.
Thankfully, Cordelia bought it. The dark haired girl shrugged and turned to go back upstairs. "You're acting weird, Mom. Almost as weird as Dad. But whatever. I'm going to fix my hair before Tristan gets here."
A sigh of relief escaped her lips. Her fingers pushed back her hair, sliding over her scalp. Minutes went by and the grocery list was completed. It wasn't too long, but she would still have to spend quite some time there.
The sound of the doorbell ringing broke any thoughts of food. She swore she could hear the four Horsemen arriving. A new thought took hold:
I wonder if I can beat Don to the door.
She deserves respect
That's what she'll get
He'd been sitting in his car for fifteen minutes now. Sitting in the driveway of the Eppes. Currently he was parked behind Donovan's Dodge and some old song was playing, Steven Tyler wailing over the sound of an electric guitar.
It wasn't that he was afraid to get out of his car; it was just…Okay, he was afraid.
The Eppes' were long time family friends, including both Don Eppes and Charlie Eppes. It only made sense that their children would be friends too.
Finally gathering all of the courage that he could find inside of him, Tristan Colby Granger shut off the engine and got out of his car. The short walk up the driveway to the stone pathway and then the front door seemed longer than usual.
Once in front of the oak door, Tristan hovered, bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet.
Sure, they were all friends: the five Eppes offspring, Meredith Fleinhardt, Logan Sinclair, and Tristan and his twin sister. Normally Tristan got along fine with Mr. Eppes. His dad was friends with him, and Tristan was a pretty good friend of Donovan despite the year difference between the high school senior.
Hell, they had all just had dinner together earlier this week.
But Tristan wasn't here to hang out with Donovan or here with his father and mother for dinner. He was here to take out Cordelia Eppes and everyone knew that Assistant Director Eppes was highly protective of his one daughter. That and that Cordelia's father had a gun.
That brought up another round of thoughts as he continued to hover on the front porch. Cordelia had been a good friend of his over the years, as his sister was one of her best friends, after Meredith. Thoughts of taking her out on a date had crossed his mind a few times, usually when he caught glimpses of her in the hallway or when their families were having dinner. He had just recently dared to ask her out and much to his relief she had said yes.
She was as intelligent as both of her parents with genes from her genius uncle floating down too. The spitting image of her protective father, Tristan could picture her dark brown eyes as they lit up with whatever emotion she was feeling at that time.
Smart, funny, beautiful, fun to be with…
The list could go on forever.
Tristan let out a sigh.
It's now or never, Tristan. Just go ahead and do it.
Prodded on by inner conscious, one finger reached out to press the doorbell. As if he had just realized what he had actually done, Tristan froze. Perhaps he could still leave.
The sound of the locks turning kept him in place.
Come on in, boy, sit on down
Tell me about yourself
The slightly annoyed and irate father of Cordelia Eppes frowned at the ringing of his doorbell. He was about to get up from his cleaning when Peyton came out from the kitchen and beat him to the door. She unlocked and opened it and he listened to the greetings as they passed back and forth between his wife and the boy:
"Tristan, it's nice to you again."
Peyton don't be nice to him. Granger should know to keep his kid away from my daughter.
"It's nice to see you too, Mrs. Eppes. You look lovely as always."
Flattery with my wife will get you nowhere son except right back outside.
"Thank you. Well, come in."
Do not tell him to come in. He is most certainly not welcome here.
Come in the boy did. He frowned further and his fingers increased their pressure on the black object in his lap.
Peyton ushered the boy into their living room, motioning for him to take a seat on the couch. "I'll go and get Cordelia. She should be ready by now."
He frowned as his wife mouthed 'Be nice to him'. At least that's what he thought it was.
Be nice? Yeah right.
Her footsteps faded away to the second story.
And then it was the two of them.
Don Eppes grinned as he moved what was in his lap to the side arm of his chair, putting it straight in sight of Granger's kid. The seventeen year old swallowed and shifted a little bit on the couch. If Don saw any sign of nervousness, he pretended he didn't, although a small part of him was pleased. Just a small part.
Alright, kid. We'll try and do this talking thing. "So, Tristan, how are your parents?"
The boy in question jumped at the sudden speaking done on his part. He stuttered slightly at the beginning but then regained himself: "Uh…Th…They're just fine. The same as they were Monday night at dinner."
Being a smart aleck will get you sent back outside too.
In an extreme effort to please both his daughter and wife, Don buried his deep urge to chase the boy across from him out of his house and far away. Far, far away.
Don smiled. "Good. Glad to hear that," the smile faded to be replaced with a look that he used to use on criminals in an interrogation, "Look here, Tristan, you're not a bad kid. You make good grades. You play football. You've never gotten arrested for anything. I know both your father and your mother. I like you. But I don't like you taking out my daughter. Cordy's my little girl and I don't want to see her hurt. Ever. I also don't want to see her upset, and if I tell her no she will be. That said, if you hurt her, in any way Tristan, I'll know. And let's just say that no one will ever find you."
Tristan's eyes, the same charming sea green as his father's, widened.
"Understand me?" Don reached out and let his hand rest casually beside his gun, his fingers stroking the butt.
The boy's eyes followed his movements and he eagerly nodded up and down. "Yes, sir."
Don was cut off from responding by the return of his wife and his daughter. His baby girl smiled at the two of them, casting a shy grin over at the couch. Arms were thrown around his neck and a kiss was placed against his cheek.
"You were nice weren't you, Daddy?"
"Of course, darling," he said while returning her kiss. He glanced over to see if Granger's son was going to respond.
He didn't, instead standing up. Smart choice.
"Thank you." His daughter whispered so only he could hear as she unfastened her arms from around his neck.
"You're welcome, sweetheart."
Cordelia took her jacket from her mother's hands and joined her date's side. "You ready to go?"
The seventeen year old glanced at him and Don nodded. "Yeah. Ready when you are."
"Good. Then we'll go. Tristan's just taking me to dinner and then to see a movie."
Dinner and a movie? He supposed that that was okay. Though dinner and a movie with him and Peyton had usually ended in… Okay, maybe dinner and a movie weren't so great.
His wife beat him before he could voice his opinion on the matter. Peyton opened the door for the two, calling out as they left: "That sounds fine. Have her home by twelve, Tristan. And be safe!"
Don didn't realize the door had shut until Peyton dropped down into his lap. He blinked and looked up to meet her green gaze.
The Huntzberger gaze. He hadn't liked it when Damin Huntzberger had given it to him when he had first been introduced to Peyton's father and he didn't like it when she used it on him. It made lying very hard to do.
"Don't you think the gun might have been a little bit too much?"
Gun? What gun? Oh, that gun. He'd almost forgotten that he'd put it there. Perhaps…
"No. I had hoped to scare the boy off. It didn't work."
Her head lay down on his shoulder and his left arm came up around her back to pull her closer. Fingers danced through his hair and over his scalp and Don shut his eyes as the tension of his headache eased. "Hmmm. Nope it didn't. You worry too much, darling. Tristan is a good boy. He likes Cordelia and he would never do anything to hurt her. I think you scared him enough to get that through."
Don only gave a small grunt in reply.
His wife's fingers slipped down to smooth the lines he knew must be on his forehead. "You know, all the kids are out tonight. Donovan's out with Meredith. Cordelia just left and Edward is with Charlie tonight. You don't have to work and I'm not needed at the lab. It's just you and me. When was the last time that we had the house to ourselves? All alone?"
Alone? That sounded nice. Alone with his wife…Alone… Wait a minute. Cordelia and that boy were going to be alone.
His eyes flew open and Peyton jumped in surprise. "What is it?"
Don growled. "Cordelia and Tristan are going to be alone. Alone!"
His wife's eyes rolled and she moved out of his lap. "Oh for the love of… I can see that you are going to be consumed with this for awhile. I'm going to the grocery store. Hopefully by the time I come back you will have regained your brain and will be the husband that I married years ago."
She moved off in a huff, muttering something about how all fathers were alike and that they just needed to trust their daughters.
I trust Cordelia. It's Granger's son that I don't trust.
Somehow his gun found its way back into his hands. They were supposed to be home by twelve. That was in four hours from now.
Some how his gun was dirty again. Four hours wasn't too long.
I'll see you when you get back
Bet I'll be up all night
Still cleanin' this gun
The End. Feedback is always appreciated.