Fallen Warrior by AndromedaMarine

"There's always a moment in life when nothing makes sense. There are the endless questions to why a particular event took place, how could it have been him, what did I do to deserve this and could I have done something to stop it. There's always the moment where, when we hear what we've been dreading, nothing can stop the tears. And now this moment has happened to me.

"Our childhood as marked by the inability to get along, mainly because, despite our drastic age difference, we were in the same grade. It gave me courage to know that he was there for me, especially in the later years when we worked side-by-side fighting crime. I could trust him to keep me safe. It pains me so, so much to realize and acknowledge that Don Eppes will never be there for me or this world again.

"You all know who I am. I'm Charlie – Don's math professor brother. You know what the cold, harsh truth is? My brother – my friend – was shot. The thing that angers me is that my refuge of mathematics told me years ago that Don would eventually be hit by a fatal bullet. I never told him this. Should I have? Would it have made a difference knowing? My mind says no. And yet this is a situation I can't use math to solve.

"So now it begs the question: could I have done something that would change what happened? Honestly, no. Because if I had – there would still be a funeral, a casket, and a gathering of saddened friends and family. And I tell myself I should have jumped in front of him. But if that were the case I would be in Don's place and I know he wouldn't've wanted that. This is my last goodbye to the man that was my brother and lifesaver more times than he should have been. So now – I speak to him.

"Don, no one can say they loved you more than me. You sacrificed yourself for the cause of good. Yet I wish I could take your place. If I could I'd do anything to have you back – anything. I feel responsible for your death, Don. Knowing that a simple step sideways to save my life is what you did makes me wish you could hear every single word I'm saying. I already miss you, Don, and nothing can or ever will replace you. Goodbye, Don. I'll always love you."

----

Amita caught my arm as I left the graveside with tears in my eyes. She wasted no time pulling me into a tight hug. "I'm so sorry," she whispered. "I...I can't believe he's gone." I could tell she wasn't holding back her tears. "Charlie, are you going to be all right?"

I knew I'd collapse if I let her go. "No...but I will be. Amita...I miss him."

"So do I, Charlie. So do I... Let me drive, okay?"

I nodded into her shoulder. Before I knew what was happening she was leading me away, one hand in mine and her other arm around my waist. I couldn't see through my tears... The car ride home went by in one big blur.

I sat on the couch both unwilling and unable to stop crying. Amita pushed a warm mug into my hands. "Drink it," she said softly. It was tea.

"I don't want him to be gone," I whispered, gulping down the chamomile. "Nothing will be the same."

"No," she agreed. "It won't. But we'll have to learn to cope."

"My brother just died!" I snapped, regretting it when I felt her pull away. "I'm sorry..." I breathed. "I just miss him so much."

"Charlie," she said. "Charlie, please look at me."

I obliged.

"Don died to save you. I don't know what makes you think you should be in his place. Charlie, he loved you!" Amita grasped my hands. "It's hard to be both brothers and friends, but you accomplished that. But whatever you do, don't you dare forget that I love you."

I tried to give her a smile. "I won't. I love you too." There's something to be said for my fiancée. Amita has a heart of gold. And I know, though I wish with all my being she never has to, that she would take a bullet for any of her friends. She stood. "Don't go," I said automatically. "I can't stand to be alone." I looked up at her, blinking back the tears. "He's really gone, isn't he?"

She nodded sadly.

Don Eppes was gone, and I would always miss him. I'll never forget that he died to save me.

He is the fallen warrior.