Author's Note: this story is AU. I should probably also warn that I'm a Canadian so I am only playing in the American political sandbox, which I am only vaguely familiar with. Please suspend your disbelief of real military procedures as well as I have no military experience.
But if you can do that, continue on!
Timeline: pre-series / vaguely Season 2 and 3
Summary: Charlie has secrets and they're coming back to haunt Don.
Pairing: Charlie/Don, Charlie/OFC, Charlie/OMC
The first time Charlie saw a murder photo, he threw up, for hours. Until there was nothing left in his system and then dry heaved.
It was the beginning of winter, in his last year at Princeton. Only he wasn't at Princeton, he was at a camp, a training camp. He told his mother he was going away to a training camp for two months with his mathematical colleges, in a joint academic venture where they had recommended him to. She had smiled, hugged him, and told him good luck. While he was at the camp she was flying back to L.A. to spend the time with his father and his brother. He had smiled and nodded, told her he as going to be fine and watched her go.
Days later he was a camp, a training camp, one where he was on a joint academic venture with many of the top class scientists of the country. Only it was also a military camp, where they were under going basic training and military protocol for Civilian Consultants.
Top Class Sensitive Case Civilian Consultants.
They were given a recommendation to be trained in firearms.
. : - : .
Charlie shuttled through the hallways, turning left and right, trying to find a familiar corridor. Of the eight scientists that came for the training, three had refused the recommendation for training with firearms. He had seen how the higher ups had been pressuring Dr. Langton and Dr. Ganger. Charlie had slipped away, not wanting to be pushed into what he didn't want. He knew they would find him sooner or later but he really didn't want to learn how a gun felt in his hands.
"Whoa, slow down there."
Charlie blinked, momentum stopped by the two hands placed on his shoulders, just enough force to stop him from running into the tall woman. "Oh, eh, sorry. I wasn't, wasn't watching where I was going – or I was but I'm, none of these hallways look familiar yet and I can't find where I was supposed to go. I was shown earlier how to get back to my, my quarters, but I'm-" the lady in cargo pants and a tight t-shirt quirked her lips; Charlie flushed, looking away, " I'm kinda lost."
"I figured." She said amused, looking at the scrawny teenager in front of her. "This is the soldier quarters, I'm assuming you're a visitor?"
"Oh, eh, yes! Well, sort of, you see I'm training. In training with the other scientists with Civilian Consultant. For Civilian consultant."
By now a male, even taller then the woman, stepped up beside her and stared down at Charlie. Charlie knew he was going to blabber even before he opened his mouth so he tried really hard not to say anything while the young woman, middle twenties brown hair, pale skin, very shapely and quite attractive, looked at him with amusement in her blue eyes, while her male partner, dark hair, blue eyes, pale skin, broad shoulders and, actually quite beautiful, stared at him with analytical eyes.
"You're one of the Civilian Consultants?" The man asked.
"Um, I will be, if, if I pass the training." Charlie answered.
"Aren't you a bit young?" The female questioned.
Charlie drew himself up, he had been told and teased by the other scientists already that he would probably be asked this question a lot. "I'm graduating Princeton in four months. I'll have the credentials."
"You're a prodigy." She murmured; eyes half masked.
"Um, yes. If you want to say that. Yes."
"Krythan." The man said.
"Vahn." Krythan, the woman, raised a hand to stop him from continuing. She didn't look away from Charlie. "And why are you sneaking around the compound?"
Charlie flushed, "I wasn't sneaking, or I wasn't intending on sneaking. I mean," She raised an eyebrow, "I just got lost looking for my quarters, I was trying to avoid some people. I-I just don't, they said they would recommend that we learn how to shoot, but a recommendation is not a, I mean I said no but now they're trying to pressure me into it, which I think is totally unfair!" Charlie quickly finished, eyes darting back the way he came, at the sound of footsteps.
"You don't want to?" Krythan asked.
"No, I mean, I'm a mathematician. My hands, my hands are for pens and pencils and chalk, not, not cold metal. And I'm not even old enough to drink yet!" Charlie added.
. : - : .
"Don, you're here." Agent David Sinclair said as he walked into the observation room.
"What do we got?" Don asked, motioning to the lone man sitting at the desk in the next room over.
He looked about mid-thirties, broad shoulders, tall, very fit as evidence by the muscles his shirt clung to. Short brown hair and brown eyes watched the other rooms through the glass. His left arm was in a sling.
"LAPD picked him up; he was involved in a drive-by shooting. They ran his ID and he came up military. Lieutenant Gregory Williamson, currently on leave. But he won't say why he was the target of a shooting so the LAPD turned him over to us, hoping for a better result. He's not talking to me though, I've already tried."
"Alright." Don said, sliding off his jacket, "let me try."
Don walked out and around the rooms until he got to the appropriate doorway. Twisting the knob he walked in, the man at the desk turned to look at him as Don closed the door. "I'm Special Agent Don Eppes with the FBI."
Something flashed in the man's eyes at his name. Don paused, waiting for possible conversation, but the man made no other move.
"I'm the lead Agent in this office." Don paused again, but no reaction. "I'm not accusing you of anything sir, but do you have any idea why someone might want to kill you?"
Williamson's lips quirked, "I'm in the military Agent."
"Well yes," Don acknowledged. "But you're on leave, any reason why someone would follow you across the country and have enough motive to open fire in a major metropolis?"
Don sat down across the Williamson, staring into his eyes, but the man didn't seem interested in the questioning, no he seemed more interested in Don. His eyes stared at him, almost evaluating.
"You get a lot of crime in the city, Agent?" Williamson asked, almost conversational.
"Well yes," Don said, "but are you convinced enough that it was a random city crime to convince us of the same?"
The man's face was blank, carefully blank. Trained stoic.
Don knew he wasn't going to get anything out of this man, nothing he didn't want to give them. Don got up, "If you want to talk to us, we're here."
Don was at the door when Williamson spoke, "You don't have the clearance to hear what I would say."
Don turned back to look at the man. Williamson stared at him with dark eyes. So it was a security issue. Even if Williamson wanted to talk, he couldn't. Don wondered if it would be worth the bother to try and get deeper into this issue or to pass it off to some other department, and wait for the military to come pick up their man, they must have someone on route. A search in the internal database must have set off someone's alarm if what Williamson knew was sensitive.
"You live at home Agent?" Williamson asked.
"You mean with my family? No." Don had his own apartment, even if he spent the better part of the week at Charlie's.
"You see your family often?" Williamson continued.
Don took his hand off the door and crossed his arms; Williamson seemed too interested to not be having a point. "Maybe."
"How much security do they have?" The man leaned forward and placed his arm on the table. "Do they have adequate protection?"
"Are you trying to threaten me Lieutenant Williamson?" Don said slowly, eyes hard.
"No." There was intensity but no violence in the man's posture. "Just warning you."
. : - : .
"Mr. Eppes, we would really like you to re-think the decision."
"I'm, I'm sure I don't want to sir. I just, I'm just consulting right?"
"That may be, but in case,"
"Is something the matter Private?"
The soldier and Charlie turned to see Krythan walking up to them.
"Captain Sign. No, no trouble."
"Then you don't mind me taking the civilian consultant would you?" Krythan said, putting an arm around Charlie's shoulders and directing him down the corridor. "For some consulting."
"Um," Charlie looked between the two military personnel.
"Captain Sign, Mr. Eppes has not passed the training yet." The soldier said carefully.
"And I have every confidence that he will." Krythan told him.
"Right," the soldier said, "but in that case Mr. Eppes has yet to pass the firearm training."
Charlie interrupted "I believe that was a recommendation, not a requirement."
"Yes," the soldier allowed, "but the Superiors would prefer that you were adequately protected."
"How about," Krythan said, "you tell your Superiors to assign him to my team. I'm sure we are adequate protection."
. : - : .
"Don," Megan said walking into the bullpen, "this is Captain Philip Wren, our Army liaison."
Don stood and shook the man's hand. "Special Agent Don Eppes, glad to meet you Captain Wren."
"Thank you," the other man replied. "I heard you picked up one of our guys."
"Yes," Don affirmed, "right this way. LAPD took him in when he was shot at in plain daylight this morning. They transferred him over to us and we've mostly kept him here for his protection as we haven't been able to find out why he was a target."
They turned the corner and Don opened the door, as soon as Captain Wren stepped in Lieutenant Williamson raised his head, and Wren paused.
So the two army men knew each other. Don stepped back to watch the interaction.
"What are you-" Wren cut himself off.
"I'm on leave." Williamson said evenly, staring at Wren.
After a moment Wren nodded, "Right, otherwise you would be with your unit."
"Of course." Williamson replied.
"Well, we can get you out of here, if you want to leave now."
"Yes." Williamson pushed up from the chair and walked past them out the door.
Wren nodded to Don, "Thank you."
"No problem." Don said, holding out a file, "you'll take over from here?"
"We'll take care of it." Wren said. "Thank you for notifying us."
Megan came up to him as Don watched the two army men bend their heads and whisper to each other on the way out. "Think it's anything serious?"
He looked back at her. "What ever it is, it's out of our hands now."
. : - : .
"I guess that's it. This is goodbye baby boy." Kyrthan said.
Charlie ducked his head, he hadn't liked the nickname, since it just brought more attention to his age, but it grew on him, once he found out that none of the team meant any malice from it. "I um, I'll be back next summer, to finish some training."
Krythan smiled, "Well, what do you know. We'll be waiting for you then."
"And um, thank you." Charlie said, "for all that you've done during my stay here."
"Nothing to it," Krythan dismissed, "You're one of us now. Tell anyone who picks on you, they're going to have to answer to the Frynd-Sign team."
Charlie blinked back tears, telling himself that it was only the sun glinting off Krythan's ring that made his eyes sting. They stood there for a while until the transport car beeped to hurry them along. His luggage was already loaded so Charlie quickly grabbed his carry on and stared up from under his lashes for a last look at his friend. Krythan hulled him in and gave him a strong hug which left his ribs aching but no protest from him.
"Be seeing you baby boy."
"Yeah, yeah. I'll miss you guys, when I'm back in L.A. when I get home."
Krythan brushed a lock of hair from his face, "we'll try to visit." She said vaguely.
. : - : .
The letter arrived in the mail in the morning; a regular envelope addressed to Charlie Eppes at his home address, the return address as the University of CalSci. Nothing unusually, nothing to pay a second mind to. Alan Eppes dropped the letter, along with others, onto the dining room table in plain view before heading out for the day.
Charlie opened the door to his house in the middle of the afternoon. All his lectures were done for the day, it was a Tuesday, a short day in the week for him. He went through his mail and opened the letter. The letter supposedly originated from the University but when he unfolded the single white sheet, a plain silver ring threaded through a silver chain slid out into his hands.
Was all that was written.
Fingers calloused from holding chalk curled and clench tightly at the accessory.