Disclaimer: Numb3rs, nor its characters, belong to me.
A/N: A "Happy Birthday You Old Geezer" to Brother #2 who has made busting his head open an art-form – one in which I followed three times before declaring sanity. And incidentally, I think it's Don's birthday as well, today, so that's cool.
Forms of Conduct
"No, sorry bro, that's my name and you can't have it," Charlie replied. "Now where's the box that says brain damage…," he began to mutter to himself. A low growl emanating from his brother to his left made him flip back the form to the front page again. "Okay, okay, no brain damage as of yet. Name is Don Eppes," Charlie scribbled with the black ballpoint on the form. "Wait a second – are you a Mister Don Eppes? I think the only person who has ever called you Mister and gotten away with it was Mom."
"Special Agent. Put it in the 'Other' box."
"I'll get you rib-eye and beer for a week if you let me tick Miss," Charlie negotiated.
"I'll let you live if you put Special Agent."
"Fair enough. I assume you'll be wanting to be Male under Sex, then?" At Don's glare, Charlie hurriedly ducked his head over the clipboard again; profoundly glad that his long curls hid his smile from his brother.
"Address, done; Date of Birth is 15th July 1902…" Charlie received a sharp poke to the side for his troubles but ignored it as he scribbled in the correct year. "Emergency contact?"
"That's nice. Any allergies?"
"Besides curly haired mathematicians? Penicillin."
Charlie frowned. "Really? I didn't know that. Since when?"
"Since they tried to give me some in Albuquerque. Trust me, it wasn't pretty." Since Charlie was still frowning, Don continued: "Don't worry about it; it was a long time ago. I think Dad knows, and it's in my medical history thing."
Charlie shrugged. "Alright. Any dizziness?"
"Other than when you're trying to crack lame jokes? No."
"You're lame. Light-headedness?"
"Any loss of consciousness? Wait, I can answer that: No, especially since patient was too busy swearing quite continually from the moment of impact to even consider passing out." Yet another reason Charlie was glad their Dad hadn't been around – if the eldest Eppes had heard the vocabulary his eldest son possessed… well let's just say Charlie had seen enough violence for the day.
"Bleeding? Affirmative." Charlie was ticking the box when Don removed the once-upon-a-time white dishcloth from where he'd pressed it against his forehead. Charlie, noticing movement from his left, immediately looked up and had to close his eyes against the full-frontal view of the deep gash just above Don's right eyebrow. "Donnie, what the hell are you doing? Keep pressure on it." He took the towel from Don's head and pressed it against the wound himself, not removing his hand until Don reluctantly replaced it with his own.
"I think it has stopped bleeding. Let's just go home – I'll stick a band-aid on it; it'll be as good as new in a few days."
"Uh… how about no? As much as I love to look around inside your head, I don't mean it literally. You need stitches, Don." Charlie turned his attention back to the ER form the nurse had asked them to fill out and then wait until a physician could see Don. "Okay, so bleeding's a go, full steam ahead. Anything you'd like to place in the 'Other' box?"
"A deep and overwhelming desire to commit fratricide."
"Well, would you look at that? It says over here that if the answer is murder of any sort, you get to cut in front of the line and head straight up to the Psychiatric ward where you'll be given a free jacket and a three night complementary stay in a padded room. Now isn't that very nice of the hospital?"
"You're having way too much fun with this."
Charlie grimaced. "Yeah, it seems so, doesn't it?"
"Yes." Don Eppes, man of many words.
"Oh well. If it makes you feel any better, I'm not in a bad mood anymore." That part was certainly true.
When Charlie had arrived at the Craftsman a half-hour ago after spending the morning at CalSci, his state of mind had been one to behold. It had been one of those days when everything that could go wrong, had. He'd still been muttering about his laptop which had crashed (thankfully, he had a backup of his data, but still…) when he'd walked through the front door, having hardly noticed Don's SUV in the driveway. His brother's voice could be heard calling him from the kitchen and Charlie had made his way there, desperate for a cold beer. He shouldn't have perhaps pushed the swinging door as hard as he'd done but come on, how was he supposed to know Don was on the other side, coming out to check why his little brother was banging all sorts of doors in the house?
As soon as the heavy wooden door had connected with his brother's head, Charlie's bad mood vanished, instantly replaced with concern when presented with a Don sprawled on the floor, looking dazed and holding up a hand to his forehead. The hint of red blossoming between his sibling's fingers immediately had Charlie reaching for a clean dish-towel and after vainly waiting for the bleeding to stop, punctuated with Don's "It's okay, head wounds bleed like a bitch no matter what, it's nothing," and Charlie's "Oh yeah? Get banged on the head often, bro?", the young mathematician had practically forced his federal agent of a brother into his car and driven him to the closest hospital in Pasadena – Huntington Memorial.
"Glad to know my pain causes you pleasure, Chuck."
Charlie patted his brother on the shoulder. "No problem. I'm gonna go hand this form in, you sit tight."
"No, I'm going to make a break for it as soon as your back is turned."
"If it was anyone else saying that, I would laugh. Knowing you, however…," Charlie hesitated in getting up from his place beside the brother.
Don rolled his eyes and gave his brother a slight shove. "I promise I'll be a good boy. Now go give in the form already – the nurse is already glaring at us, wondering what's taking us so long."
It had been an hour since Charlie had handed in the form, and even though the waiting room steadily emptied and filled around them, the name "Eppes, Don Eppes" had yet to be called out by a nurse.
"God, are they waiting for you to develop arthritis before they patch you up?" Charlie grumbled under his breath – waiting had never been his strong suit and it didn't help that the dishcloth his brother held no longer had any patches of white left on it.
"Relax, Chuck, ERs work on priority. Unless you've got one foot in the grave, be prepared to wait." Don brought up his right leg, placing the heel on the chair so he could rest his elbow on his knee, his arm tiring from holding the dishcloth up constantly. Yes, he had plenty of practise holding heavy weapons steady for long period of time, but an hour was pushing it. "Besides, I'd rather wait with a scratch on my head then when I've gotten shot."
"If," Charlie corrected quietly.
"If you get shot, not when. It's a possibility, not a certainty. Sure, with your line of work, the probability of it occurring is higher than for the average LA resident, but still…" Charlie shrugged. "It's by no means a certainty."
Don admired how Charlie had managed to say all this calmly, his voice not wavering at all. But the older man wasn't fooled – Charlie was making a point to look straight ahead, to the side, anywhere but at Don.
However, Don hadn't been an older brother for over thirty years for nothing:
"So… Dad kicking your ass after finding out that his eldest born has more stitches in his head than he last remembered: a possibility, or a certainty? I hear grovelling can shift the odds quite well."
Khatum (The End)