Not What You Think
The nurse quietly pushed Don into the room Charlie was in. The sound of the ventilator was overpowering and honestly Don was glad to be in the chair. "Are you sure he's gonna be okay?" Don asked her quietly.
'Yes, he's going to be okay." She grinned as she wheeled him closer. Don noticed his father in the chair next to Charlie, holding his hand.
"Dad" Don whispered, Alan looked up and Don saw tears in his eyes. Don then felt them in his own, "I'm so sorry dad. You were right, this was different. I was just so scared I'd loose him. I've never been that scared before. I'm sorry I've upset you more, just when you told me I'd been out for six hours, I just felt I'd some how let you both down." Don wiped at a tear that had fallen free.
Alan rose and approached his eldest, he pulled a chair in front of Don's, "I know you were scared, I was terrified. When Megan came and got me and you wasn't with her, I was sure I had lost you. I never dreamed it was Charlie. When I got here and saw the state you were in I knew it had to be bad, then when he was wheeled past, you called out to him-do you remember?" Don shook his head, not remembering a whole lot of the day, "The despair in your voice, it scared me even more. Donnie I had a hold of you when you collapsed. You have no idea what that was like. To feel your child go limp in your arms, it's beyond terrifying . I was beside you all that time, not knowing if I was going to loose both of my boys." Alan wiped tears from his eyes, then gently reached up and wiped one that fell from Don's. "But I've got you both back and I thank God for that. The only guilty person is the one who did this. I'm glad your brother has you and that you care that deeply for him. Right now I want to focus on the both of you getting better, what do you say?"
Don cleared his throat and nodded his head, "I say I can't wait to see Chuck's eyes again." He smiled at his father, who then wheeled him closer to Charlie. Though the sight of his little brother hooked up to so many machines terrified him. Knowing he'd be okay gave Don comfort as he took Charlie's hand and felt the warmth of it. Alan went to the other side and mirrored his son as they both knew they wouldn't see those eyes for a couple of days, but relaxed in the relief that they would again see those big brown eyes open.
As the doctors said, Charlie was removed from the ventilator two days later and allowed to come out of sedation. Don and Alan were both by his side when he woke up, thankful that he was finally, truly on the road to recovery. He was released about a week later. Don had taken a couple weeks off himself to not only help with Charlie, but to allow himself to rest as well. Don stayed at the house with his family and over the course of the couple of weeks he filled Charlie in on what he knew of the case, the team would fill in the blanks when they would stop by and see them. Charlie, like the rest of them, couldn't believe that it had all been over his book and that someone blamed him for someone wanting to end a bad relationship. Charlie vowed to stick to articles for the math journals and helping to form text books.
Another couple weeks passed, Don had returned to work and Charlie was healing nicely. His side would still pull a little, but his other injuries had healed. Finally Charlie had managed to get Alan to take him down to meet Don for lunch.
"Are you sure your ready?" Alan asked as they walked up to the building.
"Dad, believe it or not, yes I'm ready. I still feel as safe here as anywhere else. The chances of anything happening like that again are nearly nonexistent." They stood outside the elevators. Alan noticed that despite his confident words Charlie was nervous. The elevator dinged and they got on. Charlie relaxed when no one else got on with them. Alan hit the 7th floor button and they rode up in silence. Again the ding signaled that they'd arrived at their floor, as the doors opened Charlie stepped out, Alan just a step behind him.
Charlie stopped and looked around. He didn't have much of a memory of that day, but he just felt the need to stand there and look around.
A short time later Colby rounded the corner and saw Charlie standing there, then he noticed Alan behind him. "Hey Charlie, Alan," Colby's friendly voice reached Charlie's ears and he turned toward him, unknown to him, but all to well to Colby, nearly mirroring what he had done on the day of the attack. Charlie caught Colby's characteristic grin, "Hey Colby," Alan answered.
"I was looking for Don, to see if he wanted lunch," Charlie said as he fell into step next to Colby. As he neared Don's desk he could see his brother on the phone and noticed as he hung up the phone that Don glanced up and grinned, "Hey Charlie, dad, what brings you guys down here?…You okay buddy?" Don looked at Charlie closely.
"I'm good Don, really, we were wondering if you'd be up for lunch, my treat." Charlie smiled.
"Sure, how could I pass up that offer, just give me a second." Don turned and walked toward one of the conference rooms. Soon Megan and David exited with Don.
"Hey Charlie, good to see you back," Megan came up and embraced him.
"Man Charlie, how you feeling?" David shook his hand.
"I'm doing good thanks," Don was doing something at his desk, "But I might die of malnutrition if that brother of mine doesn't come on," Charlie said jokingly louder toward Don's direction.
"Not likely, you live with dad and I know how he cooks," Don responded grinning, putting on his jacket.
"Boy enough….sometimes I forget you two are suppose to be adults," Alan grinned as Colby, Megan and David watched the Eppes men retreat to the elevators, they all chuckled as both Don and Charlie could be heard saying "Sorry Dad" as they disappeared into the elevators, glad to see them all together, healthy and joking.
"Hey guys lunch sounds good to me, what do you think?" Colby spoke up first.
"Sounds good," David said reaching for his cell on his desk.
"I agree, let's head out," Megan reached for her purse. Then the remaining members of the Eppes team headed out to lunch. Grateful the still had their friends, who were really more like family.
AUTHORS NOTE: I just want to take this chance to thank all of you who have read my story, whether you reviewed or not, I really appreciate the time you took to read it. Those who also felt a review was in order I greatly appreciated them, they encouraged me to continue. Thank you all again for your time you invested in my story and I really hope I didn't let you down. Till next time: LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE!!! montez