The characters of the now-defunct Numbers join The Cat to make the following Public Service Announcement. (The Eppes shall be returned to their rightful owners forthwith.)
Something Is Rotten In Iceland.
by Fraidy Cat
Charlie stormed out of the kitchen while Alan solemnly regarded his oldest son across the table. He sighed loudly. "If I've told you once," he said, frowning, "I've told you once. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him a cow."
Don scowled and leaned back heavily in his chair. "You make as much sense as a very nice person smiling," he grumbled. "I was only telling Charlie the truth. Is it my fault he doesn't want to hear it?"
Alan leaned back in his own chair and crossed his arms over his chest. "Yes, it is," he answered, lifting an eyebrow slightly. "You've counted your chickens before they were cloned all your life; it was bound to catch up to you far, far, away."
Don's own brows furrowed in confusion. "You must have mistaken me for the cable guy," he said. "I'm too pessimistic to count anything. Counting is Charlie's job."
"Now, that's exactly what I mean," argued his father. "You never give your brother any debit."
Don bristled. "Rain or mud," he huffed, "it doesn't matter. You always come down on his foot!"
Alan stood and angrily pushed his chair close to the table. "That's not true, and you don't know it!" he protested. "I don't know what you're talking about!"
Don let his lips twist in a sardonic grin. "Oh, really?" He snorted. "The more things change, the more they turn into oranges."
Alan couldn't stop himself. "What?"
Don stood up himself, and carefully scooted his chair to the table. "I remind you of the entire LU debacle."
Alan winced. "Don't."
Don persisted. "I tried to tell you both how important the LU was."
Alan shook his head. "There's a difference between being important and just thinking you are," he pointed out.
Don's law-and-order spine became ramrod-crooked. "Society needs policing," he announced icily. "Without it, idiots like Charlie will just walk around willy-silly, dropping participles, mixing metaphors, and misspelling words like nobody's playtime. If he won't learn how to properly structure a sentence, then someone needs to do it for him!"
Alan disagreed. "I disagree," he said, then twisted his head to look behind him. "Is there an echo in here?" Don shrugged, and Alan continued. "Why can't there be a safe place for Charlie to learn these things? Why can't someone just help him? Instead they attack, and he turns into a demon in distress!"
"Wrong show," Don mumbled. "Besides, that's what schools are for. He should know that, he's a teacher. It costs a pretty dime for him to practice in public."
"Dime?" queried Alan.
"Inflation," answered Don.
"Then is should be at least a quarter by now," said Alan. "And who does it hurt for him to work on his grammatical...challenges...in the public arena? He's not forcing anyone to pay any attention to him; the LU could have just ignored him. They made a mountain out of a handkerchief."
"You don't understand!", Don cried in an impassioned voice. "These things have to be perfect! Every last semi-colon must link closely related independent clauses not conjoined with a coordinating conjunction, or connect independent clauses linked with a transitional phrase or a conjunctive adverb!"
"AHA!" Alan gloated, smiling at Don. "My point kind-of! Who died and made you a sock? Semi-colons are also necessary between items in a series or listing containing internal punctuation, especially parenthetic commas, where the semicolons function as serial commas." He sniffed. "Anybody should know that."
"Well, that's my point," said Don defensively. "There are things everyone should know. Perfect punctuation. Exquisite grammar. Flawless spelling. Blinding sentence structure. Beautiful prose." He puffed out his chest slightly. "I think the LU was the greatest thing since sliced olives," he insisted. "We all need more bitch-slapping."
Alan suddenly looked worried. He held up a hand, palm facing Don. "Hold up," he whispered. "Aren't these actual people, as opposed to fictional characters?" He looked around the kitchen nervously. "We could be violating the Terms of Service."
"TOS are open to interpretation," Don reassured him. "I mean, they have to be...one of the LU's targets is Mary Sue stories, and there's nothing in the Terms of Service about them..."
"But I thought you said they were perfect," teased Alan.
"Shut-up," growled Don. "Let me make this plain and confused: if Charlie would keep his imperfections to himself, he never would have been targeted by the LU. That's all I'm saying."
Alan's eyebrows raised once more. "For a man with gravy on his tie, you seem to know a lot about perfection."
Don blushed. "I just know what I like," he muttered, fingering his tie, "and I have the right to insist everyone fit into my parameters."
Alan gasped. "Donnie! Are...are you one of them? Were you part of the group that drummed your baby brother out of fanfic?"
Don snickered. "You're a day early and a dollar long," he answered. "Don't act so surprised. Everything I do is perfect; why shouldn't I demand the same from others?"
The kitchen door swung open, admitting Charlie, and silencing the conversation. Charlie calmly approached the table. "I would just like to say," he began, but Don interrupted.
"You don't get a chance to say anything.. That's the whole point of designing an algorithm that blankets administration with abuse reports every fifteen seconds." He looked slightly chagrined. "Did I thank you for that, by the way?"
"I'm sure you did," Charlie answered icily. "I believe it was during an anonymous review."
Don looked relieved. "Oh. Sometimes I lose track."
Charlie lifted his chin defiantly. "All the tea in San Francisco," he promised, his voice low and threatening, "will not force me into hiding. I will not deep-eight my fanfic career for...for...for BULLIES – even if one of them is my own brother!"
Don opened his mouth to reply, but was distracted by a sudden itch. He scratched frantically at his arm. Alan smirked, and rounded the table to stand next to his youngest son. "Word of advice, Don" he said sagely. "Try to remember: when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas."
Go ahead. Make my day.