Title: Breaking Point
Disclaimer: Not Mine.
Summary: There was so much more going on than was being said between Don and Charlie during that ambulance scene in breaking point. This is my take.
A very familiar government issue black Chevy Suburban with flashing blue and red lights came to an abrupt stop on the other side of the crime scene tape. Charlie knew who was inside the vehicle even before the occupants slammed the doors, ducked under the yellow plastic and hurried towards him. It looked like David and Colby would be getting a first hand demonstration of Don's overprotective big brother routine.
Naturally it was Don who reached Charlie first with David close behind his boss. "Are you alright?" Don demanded with an intensity Charlie hadn't experienced since high school and it brought back a wave of nostalgia. Oh Charlie had experienced something close to it when Don was trying to snap him out of 'his precious bubble' during the bank robbery case with the Charm School Boys two years earlier but this time it was out of protection not anger.
"I'm alright," the mathematician murmured, lifting his icepack off his forehead to let his big brother take a look.
"Well you're going to see a doctor. I mean, I don't care what he says." Don jerked his thumb towards the young paramedic who thankfully didn't take any offence and moved away. Immediately, Don stepped closer. Anger was rolling off the senior agent in waves which explained why David Sinclair was being so quiet. But Charlie knew his big brother a little better than his teammates; under the guise of frustration Don Eppes was also very afraid.
"Believe me, I'm not going to refuse any medical attention. This actually kind of smarts."
"Let me see." Don moved even closer and lifted Charlie's curls, a movement that could be considered that of a lover's if those witnessing the exchange didn't know better. Red lights washed over Charlie's face temporarily camouflaging any preliminary bruises.
David cleared his throat, looking extremely uncomfortable to be interrupting the moment. "Hey Charlie, any idea about who might try to do this?" he asked.
A shake of his head and the curls were in place again. "I didn't see them that well." Charlie's eyes looked away into the distance and in the gap between his brother and his oldest agent; Charlie could see Colby talking to the local law enforcement guy. The back of his head was blue, he noted with some abstractness.
"Just think about it for a minute, uh, anybody hanging about campus, maybe at one of your book signings."
"Did you flunk any students or get into any fights with anyone? Anything like that?" Don's pale face became washed in red by the revolving colored lights on the police cruiser as Charlie watched passively.
"No, no my students aren't trying to kill me, although sometime it seems like they are." The joke fell flat. Don glared at Charlie and David, if possible, looked even more uncomfortable. So the mathematician took a deep breath and forged on with his next bit of information. One he knew without a doubt would bring all that rage to the surface in an instant. "That wasn't the first time I saw that truck, I think they followed me last night."
David looked at Charlie in surprise but Charlie only had eyes for Don. "What are you talking about?! Why didn't you tell me?!" If Charlie was a betting man …
"Because you were already so pissed off about my interview."
"Charlie … "Charlie wasn't used to hearing anguish in his brother's voice. It bothered him, like a dull pain in the chest.
"So I just didn't tell you." Charlie could see now that it was a huge error on his part. His eyes pleaded for help, comfort, and he felt like he was three and the dark scared him. He wanted to crawl into his brother's warm bed and forget about the things that scared him.
"Aw c'mon Charlie. C'mon, you can come to me, you can come to me about anything." Don crouched down and leaned towards Charlie. David looked away to give them some semblance of privacy. Nobody wanted to be watched while they cried, especially not in front of their co-workers, even if Charlie was a consultant. A consultant who was nearly killed. Don wanted to punch something, preferably the guys who had the nerve to try and kill his brother. Charlie had almost forgotten how intense his big brother could be.
Colby came up behind them. "Hey guys, let met talk to you for a minute?"
"Yeah." Don squeezed Charlie's shoulder and moved away from the back of the ambulance. Far enough so that Charlie couldn't hear what they were saying but close enough to keep a sharp eye on him.
"So Charlie gave a description of the vehicle to the cops; silver pickup, fog lights, body work on the right front fender and hood."
"Yeah so?" Don looked back at Charlie who was pressing the cold compress against his forehead again. As soon as Don could get away, he was taking Charlie straight to the hospital.
"Same truck was at the San Marino Mall the morning Bonnie Parks disappeared." Those words sent a river of cold ice running down Don's back. Now he had proof that Charlie had been hurt because of his involvement with the FBI.
"Are you sure?"
"I saw it on the video. It pulled out of the parking lot only a few minutes after she pulled in."
"So why are they going after Charlie?" Don heard the words leaving his mouth. His brain was definitely not function properly if he had to ask the most obviously question. All he was thinking about was that lost puppy dog look his brother was giving him from the back of the truck.
David answered that for him. "They saw his interview. They know he's working the case."
"He's an easy target, he doesn't shoot back." Colby had such an army mentality. The only reason anybody could ever think that Charlie was an easy target would be because Don hadn't been doing his job and shooting back for him.
"Well I want somebody on him 24/7 alright?" It wasn't really a question. It was an order and a look that said the protective detail was to be done by them. Don walked away leaving David and Colby to sort it out between themselves who was going to accompany Charlie to CalSci in the morning.
"Don?" Charlie called out his brother's name like a question even through he's not sure of the question that he's asking.
And then Don was standing over him again, rubbing his jaw and not meeting his eyes. "C'mon Charlie." Not wanting to piss Don off any further, Charlie hurried after him without another word. He recognized Don's expression and mentally prepared himself for all the hovering he would experience over the next few days. Don's mood was very familiar from when Charlie was almost killed by the sniper two years ago.
Charlie sat in the passenger seat of Don's car on the way to the hospital. He had clutched Don's hand the entire time. Unable or unwilling to let go, which one he wasn't sure. And Don gripped back just as tightly, not breathing a word about how driving safely was really best achieved by using both hands.