Disclaimer:I own not Numb3rs. The taxes on it would cripple me.
A/N: I've tried to be true to canon as much as I could, but in some places, I have taken liberties with the numbers. Don't kill me; I have blood to donate on Wednesday.
One of his favourite childhood memories, long before math was something more than a subject to do battle with in school, is his younger brother's first birthday. Little Charlie couldn't possibly have been made to eat the entire cake their mom had baked for him, and Don was more than happy to fill in for his sibling's lack of appetite. Maybe having another person in the house wouldn't be that bad in the long run after all now that Charlie had gotten past his earlier passion for keeping the entire household awake until the early hours of the morning.
There was knowing the numbers, and then there was knowing how to spell the numbers: for the longest time, Charlie couldn't be convinced that 'two' was not spelt 'too', not that Don gave up trying.
He couldn't have been more than three years old when he first saw his dad get hauled off in cuffs by the serious looking men in blue with the shiny, metal badges. It was 1973, nearing the end of the Vietnam War, and his parents, though he could never understand it, really liked to go to big gatherings where they did nothing more than well… sit. However, having his dad get taken away by the police didn't stop him from playing cops and robbers with his toy gun the next day, and for many days afterwards.
There have been at least four times that he can remember laughing so hard that tears came to his eyes. One of those times was during that part of the Eppes' life when the baby of the family had to learn how to drive: Dad had handled the main stuff the first day while Don, on a sudden impulse, had decided to be a backseat observer. The laughing had started shortly after a near death experience when Charlie, instead of pressing on the brake as their father had ordered, accidentally hit the accelerator, leading to a very interesting moment or two. The looks on his father's and brother's face were enough to send Don into a fit that had him holding his sides. A much milder version of this reaction would later turn out to be his standard response to near-death experiences, or as his brother would label it later after the shooting at the FBI office, 'gallows humour'.
He was five years old when suddenly, he wasn't the only kid in the house. His mother had been growing bigger and bigger for almost a year but Don never had the guts to ask why. He'd been to school long enough to know that girls of all ages were a strangely sensitive bunch.
By the time he was six, perhaps a few months over, the little bundle of eyes and hair that had come home a little over a year ago from the big building where almost everybody wore white, was causing chaos around the house as suddenly, walking became the order of the day. It was around this time that Don asked for a lock on his door because for some strange reason, the little one always seemed to think of Don's bedroom as his prime destination point.
There have been at least seven instances, three of which in LA, when Don had been at a scene where a murder, or murders, had taken place and the victim's cell-phone would ring, and he would have to make the decision of either letting it go to voicemail, or picking it up and delivering the bad news. For all that he hated knowing that his voice, and what he had to say, would bring a family's world crashing down, the thought of a loved one finding out through other horrible ways always took precedence over his peace of mind.
One of the last fugitives he and Billy Cooper as a team had been assigned to hunt down killed or wounded eight people before they finally caught him with a knife against a sixteen year olds' throat.
For a significant part of his early life, he lived in anticipation of those nine innings, and whether that day's game would be the game during which he went from being a mediocre baseball player, to a great one. And when playing baseball in high school, all throughout the nine innings, Don would never look towards the stands to search for three, or less, familiar faces: their absence would be too crushing, their presence too uplifting. It was better not knowing until the game was over and done with and he'd have to figure out how he was getting home.
Don, at age ten, wasn't even half as smart as his brother who was half his age. Heck, at the moment, Charlie was probably smarter than what his brother would be fifteen, twenty, twenty-five…
Hardly a year, or more precisely, eleven months after he'd taken a demotion and started working at the Los Angeles Field Office, his mother passed away from cancer. Eleven months after, he finally moved out of the family home and got his own apartment because LA seemed to be the place where he was needed most. Twenty-two months after the fact, he still hadn't unpacked most of the boxes which were languishing in his spare (useless) bedroom.
There were at least twelve instances in the last two years of the brothers' high school life that Don got held back after school for fighting, and Charlie walked home alone with the lead weight of guilt in his stomach and sometimes with a bruise or two adorning his body, skipping lunch to go into the solarium and working there until Don got home to find a lecture, a grounding and a sorrowful brother waiting. All twelve times Charlie attempted an apology, and all twelve times Don shrugged it off.
Come 2008, he's been an FBI agent for thirteen years. He's never asked his brother if he believes in it being an unlucky number.
Charlie is fourteen the next time Don sees him after both brothers go their separate ways to attend college on opposite coasts. The seeds of losing touch have already been sown and it's another fourteen years before both brothers make an attempt to bridge the gap between their worlds.
Breathe twice into little brother's mouth, and restart the cycle of fifteen chest compressions while wondering what the hell is taking the ambulance so freaking long.
Khatum (The End)