This story is about the episode Breaking Point from season 4. It's the one where Charlie got shot at. If you haven't seen it, it's best if you do first. However, I won't stop you from reading on. Just know that there will be spoilers. Of course, I'm going a little farther with the idea, so it won't all be strictly based on the episode. Also, I changed a few things around. I hope you enjoy. Please review, if you have time!
As always, I don't own Numb3rs.
Charlie entered the FBI office in search of his older brother. He hadn't come up with anything new for the case, and hadn't been called in, a rare occurrence for Charlie. He just needed to talk to his brother after the previous night. He had been followed; he was sure of it. Knowing that Don was his superman, Charlie decided he'd tell his brother. Don would be sure to fix it.
Though the two had fought the day before because of Charlie's interview, Don would still be sure to take care of his little brother. Charlie knew that in his heart. No matter how angry he was, he'd be there for him. If nothing else, he'd help give him peace in knowing that Don would be there to protect him when he needed him.
Charlie exited the elevator, walking toward Don's desk. He saw his older brother standing at his desk, phone against his ear. Charlie slowly came up to him, standing at the side as he waited for Don to get off the phone.
Don gave his brother a look that didn't exactly convey happiness. Still upset over his brother's interview, he wasn't sure he was happy to see his brother. Charlie had never done something like this before. He thought his brother knew better.
"Okay, bye." Don hung up the phone and sat back down in his chair. Cupping his hands behind his head, he looked at Charlie expectantly.
"Hi. How's the case going?"
"Fine," Don said rather curtly.
"Anything new for me to work on?" Charlie tried to lead up to what he wanted to say, but Don caught on quickly.
"Charlie, why are you really here?"
"I... I have something I wanted to talk to you about."
Standing, Don turned his back to his brother momentarily as he gathered some papers off his desk.
"What? Something you didn't tell the reporter?"
Charlie flinched slightly at the low blow. "No, it's not about the case."
"Well, what then? Look, I'm busy, Charlie. I have a lot of crap to clear up thanks to your brilliant interview."
Charlie clenched his teeth. His stomach knotted as he realized his brother wasn't going to be as easy to talk to about this as he thought.
Don turned and looked at his brother. Raising his eyebrows, he tilted his head. "Well? What?"
Charlie shook his head, sadness in his eyes. "Forget it. I shouldn't have come here. I'm sorry."
Don let out an exasperated sigh. Sometimes he wondered about his brother. How could he have done something like that? He had put his job on the line, and Don's too. How could he have been so stupid? It was if he had just started working for him.
Shaking his head, he turned back to his work.
"Forget about it," Don told himself, trying to calm down.
"Forget about it," Charlie said to himself as he got in his car. If Don wasn't going to understand, that was his problem. Charlie would be fine without his brother's understanding, and he certainly didn't need his brother's help with his latest problem. It had been nothing, he was sure. If it happened again, he could call LAPD, or maybe Lieutenant Gary Walker. Big brother didn't have to come every time he felt the least bit scared. Charlie would be fine on his own.
Pulling out of the FBI parking lot, Charlie turned on his headlights as the sun lowered out of sight. He had to shake himself, keeping his attention on the job and the road ahead, and off his brother.
"It's nothing. I'm fine," Charlie encouraged himself again. Still, he felt the pain of his brother's indifference to his problem. Hadn't he done everything possible for his brother the past four years? He had done everything his brother had asked without complaint. He never refused to help his brother, never got a problem wrong. He worked his ass off for his older brother, and Don never really seemed to see it. The one time he messed up, Don was first to lay blame. Couldn't Don have stuck up for him? Couldn't he have been more understanding? Charlie didn't deserve the blame he was getting. He was not an agent. He wasn't used to all the rules they had to abide by.
As Charlie pulled onto a back road to try to avoid traffic, he saw a truck parked alongside the road. It looked eerily familiar, but he tried not to think about it. It was nothing. He was just paranoid. However, there were no other cars on the road, and his heart beat a little faster as his palms began to sweat on the steering wheel.
When Charlie passed the truck, its lights turned on brightly. Knowing it was them, Charlie began to panic.
"What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?" Charlie spoke frighteningly as he reached one hand into his pocket to pull out his cell phone. Ignoring his earlier thoughts on who to call, he quickly dialed his brother's number.
The truck came up behind his car and hit him. Charlie jolted forward, losing his grip on the cell phone.
"Oh God," Charlie cried. Looking in his rearview mirror, he saw the truck still there.
"Leave me alone." Charlie wished they would go away.
Next the truck ran Charlie off the road. Charlie turned the wheel hard, and he swerved and hit a tree. Hitting his head, he saw a crack in his window. Through that window, he saw the truck pull over and a man get out.
Eyes wide, Charlie reached shakily to take off his seat belt. As his hand hit the button, the man aimed the gun at him and fired. With what little luck he had, the bullet missed. He grabbed his cell phone, and opened the passenger door. Crawling out of his car, Charlie ran for the grove of trees beside the road.
As another shot rang out, the glass blew out of his window. Another shot was fired and dirt kicked up behind his foot. Knowing how close they were getting, Charlie ran faster.
Quickly hiding behind a wide tree, Charlie pressed the phone to his ear, as he chided himself for not grabbing his keys. His car alarm would have come in handy now.
"Charlie? Charlie, are you there?" Don asked, desperate. He had heard the gunshots, heard his brother's movements.
"Don, help," Charlie whispered.
"Where are you? What's going on?"
"Someone followed me in my car. He's shooting at me, Don."
"Hold on. I'll be right there."
Before he could finish his sentence, a chunk of the tree he was hiding behind got blown off as a bullet grazed its trunk.
"Oh, God." Dropping his cell phone, Charlie ran, adrenaline forcing his body to move. Feeling the fear deep in his stomach, he prayed he could outrun his attacker.
On the other end, Don was beginning to lose it. Where was Charlie? What was going on? Who was shooting at him? And was he okay? He didn't know the answers, and it bothered him.
His brother's fear-filled voice was enough to scare Don, too. And now that his brother had stopped talking, Don was ready to go crazy. Trying to think calmly enough, he put a trace on Charlie's phone. Waiting impatiently for the result, he pounded his fist on the table.
Seeing Don's emotional distress, Megan came over and touched his arm lightly.
"Don? Is everything all right?"
"No," Don barked.
Megan removed her hand and took a step back. Don shook his head, knowing he had let his emotions dictate his actions.
"I'm sorry, Megan. I... I guess I need a team. Charlie's in trouble." Don's uncertainty was only due to his constant feeling that it was only his job to protect his brother. He rarely thought to ask other people to take care of his baby brother. That was the big brother's job. He supposed he hadn't been doing a very good job of that lately.
"Okay. I'll get David and Colby."
"Good. Meet me back here. Fast," Don emphasized the last word. He still stared at the screen, waiting for Charlie's location.
When it came up, his team wasn't there yet. Feeling the need to leave, but also fear that they wouldn't know where he was; Don paced at his desk. It was barely a minute, but it felt like ten to Don when they came up to his desk.
"Where is he? What's going on?" Colby asked, feeling worried about the young professor.
"I've got his location. Just follow me. He said someone was shooting at him."
Anger flashed in the agents' eyes, all feeling protective toward their friend and colleague.
"Let's go," Don said, already taking off. The agents followed close behind, all eager to get Charlie.
Charlie could hear his own heartbeat in his ears as he ran onward. He couldn't tell if he was being chased anymore or not. He wasn't going to chance it. All he could do was run. He was only stopped once he tripped over a fallen tree limb. Scraping his hands, Charlie was about to get up when he heard the rustling behind him. Unsure if he should run or stay down, Charlie's heart beat a fast rhythm. As each noise sounded closer toward him, Charlie's urge to flee grew. He covered his mouth with his hand, trying to silence his heavy breathing, and stayed completely still.
When a rustling got to be too close for Charlie to bear, he quickly stood and took off. He felt a sharp pain in his side before the sound of the gunshot registered and he faltered in his steps. Knowing he had to keep going, though, he fought against the pain and ran on. Another shot sounded and he hit the ground. He stayed down for a count of 50 heartbeats before the adrenaline took over once more. He bolted from the ground, and soon he saw a drop-off. Deciding to use that as his protection, he hurried to it. He was almost there when the last gunshot sounded and he fell, rolling down the hill, until he finally reached the bottom.
This time, he did not move. Charlie laid there, deathly still. His body ached from the bullet wound and the painful roll down the hill. His body still told him to move, but this time he did not listen. He stayed there, laying as still as he could, with his eyes closed. Charlie wouldn't get shot at again. This time it would have to work.
A shiver passed through Charlie as an image of his attacker shooting him, just to make sure he was dead, flashed in his mind. He hoped his attacker hadn't seen it. Lying helplessly on the ground, Charlie lost track of time as he played dead. Never thinking it safe, he refused to move, and didn't for a long time.
Pulling alongside the road, Don saw his brother's car, and a truck behind it. Quickly getting out of the car, key still in the ignition, Don assessed the area. His instincts told him to call his brother's name, but his attacker was still there. He had to think like an FBI agent, not a brother.
"I'll call in a search team, Don," David told him, at his right.
"Good," Don said, chewing hard on his gum.
The agents all walked around, some inspecting the truck, some Charlie's car. Don moved to his brother's car, finding the key still in the ignition and the windshield broken from a gunshot, and another, probably from hitting the tree. Looking inside the car, Don was relieved not to find any blood stains. However, the only explanation would be that Charlie went into the woods as he ran away. Knowing that it was a large wooded area, Don wasn't sure how easy it would be to find his brother.
Colby was the first to react when someone else suddenly joined them by the cars. A man walked out of the woods, heading for the truck. When he saw the FBI agents, he froze, then turned around to bolt. However, Colby quickly ran after the man, who barely got a few steps when Colby pushed him roughly to the ground. He pulled out his cuffs and locked them on the man's wrists.
"Get off me! I didn't do anything!" the man cried from underneath Colby's weight.
"Oh, yeah? Then what were you running for, man?" Colby asked as he pulled the man to a standing position. He pulled him toward Charlie's car. Don came up to the man. Grabbing him by his shirt, Don pulled him from Colby's grasp and shoved him into the side of Charlie's car.
"Where's my brother, you son of a bitch?"
"Charlie! My brother! I know you shot at him. Where is he?" Don demanded as he pulled the gun out of the man's jacket and pressed it against the man's back.
"Don!" Megan shouted. Colby moved in and pulled Don back, and took the gun from him.
"Don, just calm down, man!" Colby said as he kept Don back. Megan stood close behind the man and pulled out his ID.
"Hi, Sonny Layva. You got a reason for packing out here in the middle of the night?" Megan asked.
"I didn't do nothing."
Megan gave a fake laugh. "I bet you didn't."
She pulled out a picture. "You seen this man?"
"Don't know nothing about him."
"That's not what I asked, Sonny."
Sonny turned his head away from her, silent. Megan walked into his line of vision.
"Where is he, Sonny?"
Don stood back, fuming. Colby kept a hand in front of Don, just to hold him back. He didn't doubt his boss would inflict real damage on the guy if he had the chance.
"He was in the woods last I saw him."
"Where, Sonny?" Megan asked again, more insistent.
"Bottom of some hill. He looked dead, so I left him."
Don's eyes got wide in a hurry as Megan looked from Sonny to him. With a short gasp, Don turned away from Colby and toward the woods. Breaking into a run, he called his brother's name.
"I'll follow him," Colby said, taking off at a run behind Don when Megan and David looked at each other and then him. They stayed back, taking care of Sonny and preparing for the search team. David took out his cell phone once more, now calling in for an EMT.
"Charlie!" Don screamed again as he ran through the woods, blindly. Finally remembering his flashlight, Don took it out as he paused long enough for Colby to catch up.
"Hey, slow down, Don. We'll find him."
"You go that way. I'll go this way," was the only response Don gave before he took off again.
Colby shook his head before he took off as well.
"Charlie! Charlie! Charlie!" Don screamed, searching everywhere. He nearly tripped over a fallen limb, but managed to jump over it in time. He finally made himself slow down, afraid he'd miss some small detail.
Shining his flash light back and forth repeatedly, Don caught sight of something red. His heart beat a little faster when he came up to it and recognized it as blood.
"Charlie!!" Don's scream continued forever as he shouted at the top of his lungs.
Don kept walking, fast again, and searched for anything similar to a hill. He was deep in the woods when he finally saw what looked to be a drop-off of some sort. Running up to it, he looked down and saw his brother's body lying on the ground at the bottom of the hill.
"Charlie!" Don ran down the hill, nearly falling as he moved faster than his feet could go. Stumbling a little at the bottom, Don pushed through and dropped down at his brother's side.
"Charlie!" Don cried, assessing his brother for injury. He found a large bump on his brother's head first, with a little dried blood around it. He found blood on his brother's light brown dress shirt, and he quickly pulled it aside, inspecting the wound. Finding a gunshot wound underneath, Don's worry grew as he saw it was still bleeding steadily. Then when his brother still hadn't responded, Don feared the worst.
"Charlie, come on, dammit." Don lifted his brother's head gently. Bringing his brother's body close to his, Don held Charlie close to his chest.
"Damn it. Damn it," Don cried as tears formed in his eyes. He brought his fingers to his brother's neck, afraid he had misunderstood the movement on his brother's chest. He found a steady pulse. Breathing a sigh of relief, he checked again for any signs of injury.
Charlie had shut his mind off, not allowing himself to understand time, where he was, what had happened, and shutting off the pain. He lost track of the real world as he locked himself safely in his mind of numbers. As if the key to his locked mind, when the name "Buddy" was spoken, Charlie snapped back into the real world.
"Come on, Buddy." Don's voice shook as he feared something else was horribly wrong with his brother.
Charlie's eyes shot open and he latched onto the first thing he saw – Don's shirt.
Breathing fast, Charlie pushed himself upward and pressed his face into the crook of Don's neck, hiding. Don's first reaction was surprise, but slowly he responded to his brother's clinging and wrapped his arms around his brother's back. Charlie pressed his mouth against his brother's shoulder, drowning out the sound of his terror-filled sobs.
"Sh, you're okay. I've got you," Don soothed, holding his brother a little tighter when he felt his brother shake in his arms. Unfortunately for Charlie, he held on in the wrong place.
"I'm sorry!" Don said, recognizing his mistake too late.
Crying out in pain, Charlie jumped out of his brother's arms when Don gripped him around the waist, hitting where he had been shot. Recognizing the pain once more, Charlie slowly pulled his shirt out of the way, inspecting his own injury. Almost as soon as he saw it, he dropped his shirt once again. Then he turned toward his brother.
"Take me home, Don, please."
"I can't do that, Buddy."
"Please, Don! I want to go home," Charlie said, feeling desperate.
"No, Charlie. I need to take you to a hospital."
"Don, please-" Charlie began to plead, but was interrupted when Colby called to them from the top of the hill.
"You guys okay?" Colby asked, prepared to hurry to them.
"We're okay," Don called back. Turning back to his brother, he gave him a look that was apologetic and determined at the same time. Charlie swallowed hard before his brother stood, towering above him.
"Can you stand?" Don asked.
"Yeah, I think so."
Don kept a hand out, prepared to help Charlie, if needed. Charlie stood without any trouble, only grunting over the pain in his side.
"Can you guys make it up this hill?" Colby asked, watching Charlie carefully from the top of the hill. He could see his friend wasn't all right, and hoped he could help him in some way. Colby wasn't good at just letting people go without help.
"I think so," Don replied, stealing a glance at his little brother. He knew he could, but Charlie was another matter. His brother wasn't quite dressed for a climb uphill, and with his injuries, Don wondered how far Charlie could make it.
Surprising Don and Colby both, Charlie managed getting up the hill. Once near the top, Colby reached out his hand and helped pull Charlie up, then gave Don a brief hand.
"Thanks, Colby," Don said, patting the agent on the back. Colby smiled in response.
"Remember the way out of here?" Don asked, chuckling.
"Yeah, this way."
Don had been teasing. He remembered the way out as well. Placing a hand on his brother's shoulder, he followed close behind Colby as they were led through the woods. His brother's growing weakness worried Don. He was sure that it wasn't from the amount of blood loss. Though Charlie had been bleeding, it was clear that no artery was hit. Don suspected it was just the physical strain that was getting to him. To be sure Charlie would be okay, Don kept an arm around his brother's shoulders at all times.
Soon the lights from the ambulance could be seen from the woods. Colby quickened his pace, knowing that they were close to the edge of the woods. As they stepped out of the grove of trees, they were met by FBI agents and a team of medics. Megan and David were eager to see if Charlie was okay, and the medics came over to take care of him if he wasn't. Don finally had to put his hands up and push people back, only allowing the medics near his brother.
Charlie caught sight of the truck and visibly flinched. Don saw it, and hurried to usher his brother away so that he couldn't see the truck anymore. Charlie sat down at the back of the ambulance as the medics inspected his injuries.
Knowing Charlie had a fear of doctors since their mother's death, Don stood close by his brother's side. Realizing that Charlie would need more extensive work than they could do, the medics decided to take Charlie to the hospital. Don piled into the ambulance with his brother, leaving his team of agents to deal with the crime scene and Sonny.
Charlie held his head as they rode in the ambulance. Don kept his eyes locked on his brother the whole time. His heart still beat fast, afraid of what could have happened to his little brother. Completely forgetting the earlier anger he had felt toward Charlie over his interview, Don thought only about his brother's safety and well-being.
Charlie stared down at his hands. He felt miserable, mostly from the aftereffects of running through the woods nonstop and then the emotional stress he'd faced as he had to fake being dead. The past couple hours had been nothing but hell for the professor. He hoped things would get better from there. Charlie couldn't really see how they'd get worse.
When they reached the hospital, the two brothers were separated as Charlie was taken back for treatment. Don waited impatiently in the waiting room, and soon realized he needed to tell their father about what had happened. Taking out his cell phone, he quickly dialed his father's number. Waiting two rings, Alan answered on the third.
"Hello?" Alan answered.
"Hey, Dad. It's me."
"Don? What's going on?" There was a tiredness in his son's voice that he recognized as meaning something bad had happened.
"Charlie got hurt. He's fine, but we're at the hospital."
"If you're at the hospital, how is he fine?"
"Well, he got shot."
"What?" Alan shouted in the phone. His heart constricted and he had to sit down.
"Dad, calm down. He's all right. It was just a graze. Please. He's going to be fine." Don's voice began to speak the emotions he was feeling. Quickly he cleared his throat.
"Are you coming?" Don asked as he pulled at his hair.
"I'm on my way." Alan hung up the phone and quickly got the keys to his car and left.
Don put away his cell phone and went back to the waiting room. Sitting down heavily, he put his face in his hands. Rubbing his temples, he waited for the doctor to come out, or for his father to arrive.
Instead, his brother came out first. Charlie had a small bandage on his forehead and walked carefully, so as not to hurt his injured side. Holding a slip of paper in his hand, he approached his older brother. When Don saw him, he stood quickly and walked to him.
"Is that it?" Don was surprised it hadn't taken longer. Though LA traffic could be horrible, he expected their father to make it before Charlie got done. Otherwise, he wouldn't have called. Then again, Alan would have had his head if he hadn't.
"Yeah. I had to have a few stitches, but that's about it. Can we go home?"
"Well, Dad's on his way."
"You called Dad?" Charlie sighed. He just wanted to be home. He wanted to be safe and warm in his bed. He just wanted this day to be over.
Don nodded. He watched his brother's face. He was surprised Charlie seemed so okay. Maybe he was just missing something, though. Although Charlie had been upset right after Don found him, since, he'd been okay. Perhaps Don underestimated his brother's strength.
"What have you got there?" Don nodded his head toward the piece of paper in Charlie's hand. Charlie held it up.
"Oh, yeah? What for?"
"It's just a pain killer."
"Oh." Don looked away a moment, unsure as to what to do next.
"Can you call Dad? Tell him to just go home?"
The pleading look in his brother's eyes was enough to convince Don. The first thing that came to his mind was that he couldn't do it, since Alan would be mad. He was probably almost there by now.
"I'll go talk to him."
Charlie gave his brother a small smile. "Thanks, Don."
Don stepped away from his brother for a minute so he could call their father. Knowing Alan wouldn't be pleased, Don sighed before he put the cellphone to his ear.
"Donny? What's wrong?" Alan answered on the second ring.
"Nothing, Dad. Sorry. Charlie's already done. He says he just wants to go home. Is it... is it okay if we meet you at home?"
Don heard his father sigh, frustrated. "All right, if that's what he wants. You can handle it?"
"Okay. I'll see you at home." There was only a note of anger in his voice now.
After they hung up, Don returned to his brother in the waiting room. Charlie stood alone in the center of the entrance, looking as if he had no idea where he was and why he was there. Don approached him quickly. As Don came into Charlie's line of vision, his eyes focused and his tense body relaxed.
"Ready?" Don asked.
Charlie merely nodded in response. Don put his hand on his brother's back as he led the way outside to his car. Charlie uneasily got into the car. His eyes focused on the windshield. Remembering the glass to his car, Charlie shivered as memory of the glass being shot out flashed in his mind.
"You okay?" Don asked as they pulled out of the parking lot. Heading to the pharmacy, Don drove, but cast a worried glance at his brother.
Don nodded, though unbelieving. He wondered if he had somehow rubbed off on Charlie. They both had the trait of shutting off their emotions when they were hurting, or scared. Don hoped his brother would be able to at least talk to him, even if it wasn't for a while.
As they pulled into the driveway, Charlie prepared to face their father. Alan was waiting at the door when they parked. Coming to his side of the car, Alan opened the door for Charlie.
"Are you all right?" Alan asked worriedly. His son's face looked pale, and his eyes were pained. Alan placed his hand on his son's shoulder as Charlie stepped out of the car. Charlie accepted the touch uncomfortably.
"I'm okay, Dad," Charlie said quietly, looking up only long enough to give his father a small smile.
"Let me see." Alan reached out to inspect Charlie's wound, but Charlie quickly moved out of the way.
"No. Dad, I'm fine. Please. Can we just go inside?" Charlie looked around fearfully. As a truck whizzed by the house, he closed his eyes tightly and flinched.
"Come on, Buddy. Let's go." Don came around the car to Charlie. Seeing his brother getting upset, he knew he had to come to Charlie's rescue. Taking his brother's arm, he pulled Charlie toward the house. Alan, left behind, watched his sons walk past him and into the house. Sighing, he decided to follow.
Charlie spent the next few days trying to recover, physically and emotionally. He took off work to stay home and rest. Slowly he felt safe again, but he still had moments of fear where the night's events returned, bringing with it the fear and helplessness he had felt at the time. He was home alone one night and had trouble sleeping. Getting up, he went downstairs to the living room to watch the late night news.
Don had just entered the house, not expecting anyone to be awake. He was going to spend the night on the couch, being too tired to bother going home or even upstairs. He stood beside the couch and took off his watch. As he reached for his gun to take it off his belt, he heard someone coming down the stairs. He had the gun in his hand when Charlie entered the room. Catching sight of the gun first, Charlie stared at it. His eyes got wide and in seconds he had backed up into the wall behind him.
"Whoa!" Don said, holding a hand out in a non-threatening gesture. Still, Charlie quickly turned and ran back to his room, away from the gun.
Setting the gun down on the table, Don decided to follow his brother.
Charlie was sitting on his bed with his head in his hands. He shook from head to toe as he tried to calm himself. He had thought he was over it, thought he was better. But if he couldn't even see a gun without feeling terrified, he obviously wasn't.
Don opened the door and quietly let himself inside. He gently sat down beside his brother, seeing how he was obviously upset.
Placing a hand on his brother's back, Don looked down at his brother, trying to see Charlie's hand-covered face.
With a final shiver, Charlie uncovered his face and looked over at his brother.
"Sorry. I... I thought I was better, but I guess... I guess I'm not."
Don rubbed his brother's back. "I'm sorry I scared you. I thought you were in bed."
Charlie nodded, keeping his mouth closed. He had yet to talk to anyone about what had happened, besides Colby when he told him what had happened that night. He still hadn't told anyone about how he was really feeling, though. And, now, he was getting tired of holding it all inside.
"I just... I thought I was safe. So, I didn't think to call you. You were already mad at me, and I couldn't see bothering you about something that could have been nothing. There was nothing I could do, really. I tried to drive away. I couldn't... couldn't get away."
Charlie shivered, his fear still there. Don gripped his brother's shoulder, supportively. He wouldn't say anything, afraid Charlie would stop talking if he did.
"The only thing I could think to do was call you. And I was so, so scared. I ran. I had to get away from him. He chased me, shot at me. Hell, he even did shoot me. I finally fell and rolled down that hill. The only thing I could think to do was play dead. But I... I saw him. I saw him coming to get me, shoot me, finish the job behind my closed lids. There was nothing I could do but wait. So I shut down. I thought that if I couldn't see him, maybe it wouldn't happen, or maybe I wouldn't notice. It managed to work, but I was still scared, terrified that it would happen. In the back of my mind, I knew there was a chance he'd come for me."
A tear slid down Charlie's face. He wiped it off before it fell off his chin. "Now, I just, I can't see guns without fear. I haven't been in a car since you drove me home. I haven't even seen my car since. I don't even know what I'd do if I did. I'd probably run away, like I did tonight."
Embarrassed, Charlie bowed his head. Don sat silently beside his brother, thinking over what Charlie had said.
"Buddy, no matter what happens between us, I want you to know that you can come to me with anything. Anything, hear me? I don't care if I screamed at you, punched you in the face, or cussed you out. No matter how mad I seem, when you need something, you can come to me. That's why I'm here, Buddy. Just let me know, please. I know you're scared and confused and just want this to be over. But, Charlie, you're okay, you know? You may not feel that way not, but in a week or so, you'll see it. Maybe it takes you a month to get over it, maybe a year. But you already did the hard part. You survived getting shot at and nearly run over. You can do this, Charlie."
Charlie managed a weak smile.
"I'm so sorry you felt like I was too mad to help you. Promise me you won't ever do that again. I'm your brother. That's what I'm here for." Don wrapped his arm around his brother's shoulders.
"I promise," Charlie said quietly.
"Good." Don brought his brother closer to him and gave him a one-armed hug. Before he could get a full grip, Charlie wrapped both his arms around Don's waist and hugged his brother tightly. A little surprised, it took Don a moment to react. He hugged his brother in return, holding his brother tightly.
"Thanks, Don." Charlie pushed out of his brother's arms.
Don smiled down at his brother. "You're welcome, Buddy."
Charlie managed to smile at his brother. Thankful for Don's understanding, he felt better for having told someone. Charlie thought that this was the first step toward recovery. It may take him a while to get over it, but he knew that Don was by his side all the way. And with that knowledge, he knew for sure that he would be okay.