What's Important in Life

Chapter 12: A Long Road Ahead

Charlie stood staring down at his mother's grave, while Don and his father stayed back a few steps to give Charlie some privacy, yet be close enough if he needed them.

"I never thought I'd see him again." Alan said after a few minutes of silence.

"I know. Neither did I. I know mom would have loved to have seen him again." Don replied.

"She was the one that always kept Charlie grounded. Me…I just didn't understand him." Alan said.

"Yeah, I know the feeling." Don replied.

They both glanced over at Charlie who knelt down and ran his fingers over his mother's headstone, before he whispered something and stood up.

Turning he walked back to his family and stopped right in front of them.

"Are you alright, Charlie?" Don asked, putting an arm around his brother.

"No…no I'm not." Charlie replied softly, "But I will be."

Nodding his head, Don helped Charlie over to the car, while Alan stayed behind to talk to his wife.

Once in the car, Don looked over at his brother and saw that Charlie was struggling not to cry.

Don knew that Charlie's recovery was going to be a long, winding road, but he felt confident that with time Charlie would be able to get past this latest obstacle.

"Charlie…you know that if you ever want to talk…I'll be there for you." Don said.

Nodding his head, Charlie turned and looked out the window as he began to shut out the emotional pain that he was in.

He knew that he shouldn't be doing that; that it was actually healthy to let it out, but letting it out was something that he couldn't do. At least, not yet at any rate.

Swallowing, Charlie closed his eyes and let out a sigh as he thought about his math, which came easily to him, causing him to relax and sink in to its embrace.

Soon however, Charlie relaxed so much that he actually fell asleep.

When Don heard the snoring, he glanced over and saw his little brother, eyes closed.

Smiling a little Don glanced away again, knowing that his brother needed the rest.

Exiting the car, Don went back to his father, who was coming towards him.

"Charlie's asleep. I think the events of today wore him out." Don said.

"They would wear anyone out." Alan replied as he glanced back towards the car.

"Dad…" Don said, pausing for a second, "Do you think that there's anything that we can really do for Charlie?"

Before they had come over to the cemetery, Don had told Alan a little about the case and what Charlie had gone through, but he didn't tell the whole story. That would be up to Charlie.

"All we can really do is be there for him. Healing will take place on its own." Alan replied.

"I just… I just wish that none of this had happened." Don muttered.

"So do I. But it did. Now all we can do is try to move on and hope that it never happens again…to anyone." Alan said, receiving a nod from Don.

Together they headed back to the car and climbed in.

Once they were buckled, Alan fired up the car and began the journey home.

He knew that this journey would be the easy one, but Charlie's journey would be the hard one, filled with misery and disappointment, but he promised himself that Charlie wouldn't have to walk that road alone; he would be there ready to catch him if Charlie were to fall.

Glancing over at Don, Alan knew that he felt the same way.

But for the time being, they let Charlie sleep. The next day would begin soon enough, and so would the healing process…for all of them.

THE END

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A/N: Thanks for reading!

I know that this isn't the ending that you all were probably expecting, but it was the one that I came up with.

Again, thanks for sticking with this story!

My next story will be more IC, I promise!