Stranger

AU 7 year old Charlie 12 year old Don. During a family trip to the park, someone attempts to kidnap Charlie. How does Don react?

*****

"Alright boy's, don't wander too far," Alan says, settling next to his wife on the bench.

"Yes dad," Don and Charlie chorus, taking off.

Don immediately runs over to a group of boy's from his school. They are playing a game of baseball. Ignored, Charlie wanders over to a clump of trees off to the side of the field. He really looks up to his brother and wants to be just like him. He also knows his brother doesn't like him and hates when he hangs around, so Charlie contents himself with quietly watching Don play, silently cheering his brother on. He is so caught up in watching Don he doesn't notice the man coming up behind him until the man paces a hand on his shoulder, causing him to jump.

"Hey, what you doing way over here?" the man asks.

Charlie just stares at the man. Don has always told him not to talk to strangers and that if someone approaches him he is to tell someone. Charlie casts a glance in his brother's direction, wondering what exactly he should do. He doesn't want to be rude but...

"You like baseball?" the man has not let go of Charlie's shoulder yet "I have some cool cards and memorabilia in my car. You want to see it?"

Charlie looks back at the man. It's tempting, the wealth of information those cards could hold. Charlie's pretty certain Don would be interested.

"I'm parked just over there," the man says, pointing beyond the cluster of trees "It will only take a moment."

"Alright," Charlie says "I just have to tell my brother. He's right over there."

The man frowns slightly, looking over to the group of older boys playing on the field.

"It looks like he's in the middle of something. It will only be a moment, he won't even notice you left," The man says, smiling at Charlie.

Charlie pauses, thinking about what this man is saying. He doesn't get to think for long because the man is picking him up and turning towards the trees. Terrified now, Charlie starts to struggle violently.

"Don!" Charlie screams for his brother.

*****

Don was having a great time. He got to spend the entire afternoon with his friends playing ball. Best of all, Charlie had buggered off somewhere and hadn't bothered him once. Now though it was getting late and Mom and Dad will be calling for them soon.

"Great game guys," Miles, from his class says.

"We should do this more often," A boy Don only vaguely knows says.

"Yeah, definitely. See you guys at school tomorrow!" Don calls turning to look for Charlie.

'Now if he would just disappear permanently' Don thinks to himself. He finally spots Charlie off to the side of the field, next to a clump of trees. He sees someone talking to his brother and quickens his pace, tightening his grip on the bat. In the next moment, the man leans down and grabs Charlie.

"Don!" Charlie's panicked scream sends adrenaline racing through Don.

"Hey! Let him go asshole!" Don yells, running towards his brother.

The man gives a start, glancing at Don as he tries to take off into the trees.

"Donnie! Help!" Charlie cries as he struggles.

"I said let him go!" Don says again as he catches up to and tackles the man.

His tackle knocks the man to the ground and forces him to loosen his grip on Charlie. Don sees Charlie kick and fight his way away from the man. Pushing himself up towards the man's head, Don wraps his arm around the man's neck.

"Who do you think you are?" Don demands as the man lets Charlie go to try and fight off Don.

"Charlie! Don!"

Their father's frantic voice and hurried steps distract Don for just a moment. Charlie lets out a sharp exclamation when the man reaches back and strikes Don. Dazed, he releases the man and is thrown to the side. By now their father is almost upon them and Don can see the man making one last attempt to grab Charlie. Charlie had seen the man throw Don and was already turning when the man reaches for him. Don sees this and jumps up to defend his brother again, only to see Charlie side step the man and launch himself at Don. Catching Charlie, Don hauls his brother behind him just as their father reaches them.

"Get away from my sons!" His dad's anger is obvious to Don as Charlie clutches his shirt.

The man, upon seeing Allan, takes off running. Don watches him go, keeping a tight hold on Charlie.

'I take it back' Don thinks, finally calming some now that their father is there 'I don't ever want Charlie to disappear. I swear, I'll be a better brother just don't let him go.'

With Allan now hovering over his sons and yelling for their mother to call the cops, Don turns around and pulls Charlie into a crushing hug. Charlie immediately wraps his arms around Dons neck and buries his face in his brother's chest.

"The cops are on the way." Don hears his mother say, as he nuzzles into Charlie's soft curls.

"Good, good. He ran away," Allan sounds almost frantic, "What happened boy's?"

Dons sighs and attempts to straighten up but Charlie refuses to let go. With another sigh, Don readjusts his hold on his brother and lifts the younger up. Feeling Charlie wrap his legs around Dons waist, he smiles. Charlie always did like to cuddle, that still hasn't changed. Don remembers when he used to carry Charlie like this all the time.

"Don?" their father's voice, even more strained than before, reminds Don that an answer is still needed.

"I was playing ball with some friends; Charlie was sitting just next to the tree's here. I was coming over to get him but this guy was talking to him. He tried to grab Charlie but I tackled him. Don explains "You arrived right after that."

"Charlie? You alright there?" Allan asks.

Charlie hasn't made a sound since launching himself at Don. This really worries Don since it's normally impossible to shut Charlie up. Don runs his hand up and down his brothers back.

"Hey buddy, you going to answer Dad?" Don asks gently. He see's both of their parents hovering anxiously over them even as the sound of sirens draws closer.

"That's the police. I'll go bring them over." Don hears his mother say before moving away.

Don barely registers this though; he is completely focused on Charlie. He notices the small hitch in his brothers breathing and the barely noticeable shivers wracking the younger's body.

"Charlie? Are you ok? What's wrong?" Don is really worried now, 'Is he hurt? Did something happen while I wasn't looking?'

A hiccup was his only response from Charlie. Don gently tried to pry Charlie's face from his chest to get a look at him. Charlie's reddened eyes and a wetness in his own shirt tell Don his brother has been crying. Don gently pulls Charlie back into a hug.

"Hey, it's alright now. I've got you Chuck. I won't let anyone take you. I've got you." Don murmurs softly into Charlie's ear.

"I-I-I'm sorry," Charlie chokes out to Don's surprise.

"Sorry? What on earth for?" Don asks, confused.

"You, you, you told me not to t-talk to str-strangers," Charlie stuttered.

Don finally glances up, looking for his parents, only to see them speaking with the officer. He looks back to Charlie seeing the miserable look on his face. Don rushes to reassure him.

"Hey now, it's alright. You made a mistake. That was all. It's ok. You're ok, that's all that matters now." Don say's shifting Charlie in his arms.

"N-no it's not. I sh-should have gone straight to you." Charlie's tears are still falling.

"Yes you should have, but that doesn't matter now. You will remember next time though," Don says nudging Charlie with his shoulder "Besides, it's my job to look out for you and I wasn't doing it. I should have noticed sooner. I'm sorry Buddy. I've been remiss in my duties as a big brother."

"No you haven't," Charlie suddenly insists, looking up at Don.

"Yes I have, and because I'm the older that means I'm right," Don says haughtily.

This draws a chuckle form Charlie. Don smiles down at his brother, relieved to still have him here and happy.

'That man almost took Charlie.' The thought finally sinks in and Don almost stumbls 'And I had just been wishing'

Don shudders minutely, tightening his grip on his brother.

"Don? Don, what's wrong?" Charlie's question brings Don back to the here and now.

"You have to promise me something Charlie." Don says.

"Promise what?" Charlie asks, settling back into Don's shoulder.

"You have to promise that if anyone ever approaches you again, ever, you will come straight to me. Ok?" Don demands.

"But what if I can't find you or you're not there?" Charlie asks.

"Then you go to mom or dad, or yell for me. Just promise me Charlie." Don's voice is almost shaking now.

"I promise Don," Charlie says clutching tighter to Don.

"Hello boys," This new voice causes Dons head to shoot up. He takes a step back and tightens his hold on Charlie before he even realizes what has happened.

"Easy now, I'm not going to do anything. My name is Officer Smith. I just want to ask you a couple questions if that's alright," Smith speaks mainly to Don, eyes briefly flicking to Charlie who hasn't bothered to give the man more than a glance.

The questions went relatively smoothly once they finally convinced Charlie he would have to actually speak to the officer and not to Dons shirt. The officer seemed amused by this but didn't say anything. Don paid careful attention as Charlie explained what had transpired, beating himself up because he hadn't noticed immediately. Once all the questions are done, their mom and dad pack them into the car to go home. Charlie remains curled into Dons side the entire time, whispering to don about this and that on the ride home. Don listens quietly, absently running his hand through Charlie's hair. Upon arriving home their parents usher them in and settle them on the couch. Don knows exactly what is coming, a lecture on strangers. He leans back slightly into the couch; Charlie perched on his lap, and prepares himself for a long speech. What happens next surprises him. As their mom sit down next to them and sweeps them into a hug, their dad settles on the coffee table in front of them.

"I know what you're expecting, but I'm not going to lecture you." Don shoots a look at their dad, "I heard you two earlier and it seems you've done my job for me. We're just glad you're both safe."

With a firm hug from their father that seemed to end the discussion. Yes their parents would be hovering for the next while and don is beginning to wonder if Charlie has become permanently attached. Not that Don minds at the moment, he is quite content to keep Charlie as close as possible for the time being. Supper is as normal as possible before the boys head off to bed early. After making sure each of them has been tucked in, their parents head off to their own room.

Now, sitting awake in bed Don feels hyper aware of every sound in the house. They had needed to wait until Charlie had fallen asleep in Dons lap before they could move him and now Don is tense, nervous at not having Charlie right where he could see him. Protect him if need be.

'This is getting ridiculous. Screw it, I'll just go sleep in his room' Don thinks to himself.

Just as Don throws the cover back he hears the floor creak outside his room. Freezing, he listens as there is a soft shuffling then the door to his room opens slowly.

"Don?" Charlie's tentative call draws Don from his bed and over to his brother in an instant.

"Something wrong Chuck?" Don asks, ushering Charlie in and closing the door.

"Can, can I sleep with you tonight?" Charlie scuffs his feet on the floor, not meeting Dons eyes.

"Sure buddy, anytime." Don smiles, drawing Charlie over to the bed, "Come on, it's late and we should really get some sleep.

Charlie just smiles brightly up at Don before they settled into bed. Don has Charlie get in first on the side next to the wall. Hunkering down Don places himself between Charlie and the door. Charlie immediately cuddles up to Don, his back flush with Dons chest. Throwing an arm over his younger brother's waist, Don tucks Charlie's head beneath his chin and sighs. Everything is ok now, Charlie is safe where Don can see him and with that Don settles in for sleep.

"Night Don, love you," Charlie murmurs as he drifts off.

"Night Charlie, love you too," Don replies, kissing Charlie's crown and drifting off himself. 'Everything will be ok now. I've got Charlie and no one can take him. I swear from now on I will protect him.'

*****

"Allan! Charlie's not..." Margret's frantic whisper is quickly silenced by her husband's hand.

"Shhh. Look," Allan says, smiling as he wraps an arm around his wife.

Margret leaned in curiously to see what her husband was so happy about. There, in Don's bed, barely visible beneath the covers and Don, is a mop of dark curls. Charlie is in bed with Don. Margret smiles relieved to have located her 'missing' son and ecstatic that the two of them are together.

"Picture perfect," Allan comments as he watches the boys.

"Do you think it will last?" Margret asks, worried her boys will start drifting apart again.

Allan crosses the room and reaches down to pull the blanket up over the boys better. As if sensing this new presence, Don's arms tighten on Charlie and a frown settles on his face. Quickly backing away, Allan watches as Dons face relaxes and he nuzzles into Charlie's hair.

"If that's any indication then most definitely," Allan smirks at his wife.

"Almost feel sorry for Charlie's first boyfriend," Margret smiles mischievously.

"Boyfriend? What are you talking about? Don't you mean girlfriend?" Allan asks confused.

"No, boyfriend. Charlie's just too..." She trails off waving her hand, "It will be a boy. He'll try to like girls so he can be like Don but in the end it will be a man."

"I can't believe you're saying that about our son," Allan sputters, "How?"

"A woman's intuition," is all Margret says.

*****

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did!