Hey :) So this is my first Numb3rs fic, and yes, I'm in love with both Charlie and Don - but especially their relationship :) This is just a oneshot set mid-season 1 :D Oh and I've take some liberties with the doors and layout of the office, I hope no one minds XD
Don scrubbed his face tiredly. He looked at the mirror and saw just how tired he was. His pale face contrasted terribly with the dark bags under his eyes, and his ruffled shirt and tie told his whole life story. They had been looking for an arsonist, and had been at the office for going on three days now. They had had sleep, but were working hard and in shifts and Don had eventually told everyone to sleep.
Yes, there was the potential for another arson to occur, but right now, all Don wanted was an hour's sleep.
He walked out of the bathroom and into the main office, where various agents were sprawled out at their desks. He could see David using his jacket as a makeshift pillow, and Terry resting on her arms. In the briefing room, through the glass walls, the light was dimmed, as it was in the bullpen, but a solitary figure was asleep in there.
Don smiled at Charlie, who was curled up on the sofa, clutching some papers to his chest with a pen stuck behind his ear and half peeking into his mop of curls. He had leapt at the chance to solve crimes with his big brother, and hadn't stopped working on the equations they needed. He had narrowed down the hot zone to just a few blocks in a residential area; and Don decided to send everyone out there tomorrow. They had the FBI profilers in, who were sure the arsonist was non confrontational, and would crave a stable life; so he would go home every day and stay with his family. Don reckoned they had time before another fire occured.
He punched in the code on the door and opened it; wondering whether he should be the caring big brother and allow his sibling to remain asleep, or be a normal big brother and push him off the sofa so that he should be the one to sleep on it.
He decided to be half of each, and gently pulled the papers out of Charlie's grasp and laid them aside on the desk, before prodding him. "Hey, Chuck - move. I need sleep too."
"M'not Chuck..." he murmured, wiggling up the sofa somewhat in an attempt to make Don stop prodding him. The older Eppes brother chuckled and pushed him up so he was more or less sitting. He quickly took that opportunity to sit down too, but it wasn't too long before he felt Charlie's curls resting on his shoulder.
Feeling remarkably relaxed for someone on the hunt for an arsonist and with someone else's hair in his ear, Don fell asleep.
"Don," someone was shaking him. He wanted to grumble and turn over, but from the way they were talking, it was probably important. He opened his eyes to find Terry looking at him.
"Don, there's been a security breach," she told him.
"What do you mean?" He asked, disentangling himself from Charlie who had somehow managed to maneouver himself in less than half an hour into sprawling once more on the sofa. The younger brother groaned in response to the movement and sat up, slightly dazed as to where he was.
"We need to speak to security; a man claiming that he is our arsonist came in, and as they were bringing him up here, the lights went out and according to our computer guys, we got hacked. So the agents who brought the arsonist up here dumped him in interrogation and left to help."
"And let me guess - now he's gone," Don finished for her, wincing and pulling his tie slightly tighter. She nodded and went to leave, he followed but looked back to where Charlie was wearily gathering his equations. "Charlie, don't leave here, okay? I'm locking the door behind me; but if you see anybody suspicious, call me."
Charlie nodded, his eyes wide at the possibility of a psychopath free and roaming the offices of the FBI. Don clapped him on the shoulder and left in a hurry, stopping to punch in the four number code to safely seal the door closed.
"So you don't know what happened," Don pressed their technicians.
"We know that someone from outside hacked in," one of them, an Agent Jackson, replied. "And whoever it was, they were smart. Turned off lights, CCTV, and... oh..."
"What?" David asked.
"They went into the security files for door codes," Jackson told them. "Changed one and put a blocker on it - it'll take me a while to change it back."
"Start now," Don ordered, before asking: "Which door?"
"Floor 4, office 7," he replied. "Agent Eppes' office..." He glanced up at the man in question. "Why would they want to break into your office?"
Don shook his head, "I don't have anything pertaining to the case they couldn't - " he paused, horror clearly etched on his features. "Charlie..." he whispered, sprinting back down the corridors to see a man enter the office - the office Don had locked - had locked his brother into.
"Freeze, FBI!" He yelled, but the man opened the door and stepped inside, pulling it closed with a click and then entering what was probably the new code on the other side.
Charlie looked up when he heard the door opening, and assumed it was his brother coming back.
"You're that maths professor - the one that can find the arsonist by where the fires are?" The stranger asked, rummaging around in drawers.
Charlie stared, his hand slowly moving to his pocket to call Don, but as he got it out, he saw his older brother stood on the other side of the glass, horror-struck. "Freeze - these walls aren't bullet proof!" Don yelled so they could hear him through the glass.
Charlie went pale as he realised he was trapped with the arsonist Don and Terry had been discussing. The man turned to look at Don, a glint in his eyes as he waved a gun at him. "So, I could shoot you then?" He asked. Don cursed; he'd left a spare gun in a drawer.
"And look at what else I found!" The man said gleefully, showing the agents a pair of handcuffs. Charlie; who had at this point been trying to go unnoticed by the arsonist gave a start and looked imploringly over at his brother, who still had his gun raised.
"Maybe if you meet my demands, I won't kill the maths guy." He told them, and grabbed Charlie by his hair, eliciting a sharp cry of pain as he tugged him over and handcuffed him to the leg of a table, causing him to sit on the floor.
"Who are you?" Don asked, trying not to let his voice betray the worry he felt.
"Steve Bruce - nice to meet you," he replied amiably. "I killed some people with fires, and I feel awful bad about it. So I got my friend to hack and went to find this guy," he gestured at Charlie, "so I could ask him why he hasn't found me yet!" He yelled this and raised the gun, shooting the table above Charlie's head. Charlie gave a cry and flinched, trying to bring his head low and move, but was stopped by the handcuffs.
Don thought he might throw up. The profilers said this guy was non-confrontational - and why had he wanted to be found?
"Don, techs need a few more minutes to open this door." Terry whispered in his ear, trying to avoid looking at the man with his gun still poised, pointing at Charlie.
"If we go in there as soon as we open it, he might shoot Charlie," Don replied, his heart hammering. "We need to figure out what he wants - what are your demands?" He raised his voice.
Bruce sat down next to Charlie, patting his cheek with the gun, and Charlie thought he may pass out from the fear. He tried to pull away, but again was prevented by the cuffs.
"I think I'm an arsonist," he said. "And I know you're trying to find me - but he's not working hard enough!"
Charlie flinched. "The variables needed to construct this kind of..." he started to mumble, but was cut off when the barrell was pressed to his head.
"Charlie!" He heard Don yell in desperation.
"I needed to be caught! You get me? I need to be saved from this!" Bruce turned to gun so it pointed to head, looking away from Charlie to Don. "You and your professor failed me. I could kill him," he gestured to Charlie, who had his eyes squeezed together in fear, his breathing bordering on hyperventiliation, "but what would that do? That's not what I want - I just don't want to hurt anyone anymore."
Charlie opened his eyes at this, hope flaring as he realised that he may not get shot, but was met with a gunshot anyway.
Don watched as Bruce turned the gun on himself, "I just don't want to hurt anyone anymore." He saw his little brother relax, before Bruce pulled the trigger, causing brain tissue to explode out of the back of his head - and more importantly, on Charlie.
"Charlie! Charlie, you okay? Charlie!" Don yelled, his hands on his hair as he waited for the door to open. Apparently they still had a few more minutes.
"D - Don?" Charlie said weakly, his eyes wide and staring at the gaping hole in Bruce's head, now falling back and resting on Charlie's shoulder. The professor quite understandably threw up, listing off to the side and vomiting. Bruce's body still rested on Charlie, and Don felt ill that it mirrored how he and Charlie were sat only 20 minutes previously.
"Yeah, Charlie - look, I know it looks and feels bad, but don't worry; we'll be in there any time now, okay, buddy?" Don moved his hands from his hair to the glass, as if he could touch Charlie, reassure him.
"Donnie get me out of here," Charlie pleaded, reminding Don of the four year old he had once convinced to climb a tree, forgetting Charlie wasn't that good with heights. "Please, Donnie..."
The pleading tore Don's heart, "Don't worry, buddy - you'll be out soon, hey - look at me, okay? Look right at me." He wanted Charlie to stop staring at the corpse now resting on his shoulder. Charlie shuddered but obeyed, looking into Don's eyes for a few seconds, tears running down his cheeks, before he had no choice but to turn back to the corpse.
"No, Charlie - c'mon, buddy, look at me," it was no use, Charlie wouldn't look away. "Hey, Charlie - close your eyes, okay? Think of P v NP." Don didn't want to say that - that problem had been the bane of his life for the last three months of his mother's life, but he wanted Charlie to think of anything but the body.
Thankfully, Charlie looked back at him, "I don't think I can, Don."
"That's alright, buddy - just close your eyes, alright?"
"Donnie I want to get out." Charlie pleaded, a hitch in his breath. However, he closed his eyes.
"It's alright, buddy - we're getting the door code now." Don said soothingly as Terry punched it in. Don pushed past her and got in. He didn't care how unprofessional it looked, he just pushed the corpse off Charlie, then prodded it away with his foot. "Hey, Charlie, I'm here now, alright? I'm here."
Charlie nodded but still didn't open his eyes, preferring to reach out with his one free hand and clutch at Don's shirt. Don leant forward, eager to give his brother as much comfort as he could. He quickly took the pick Terry offered and had soon taken the cuffs off his brother. Charlie shot up and nearly pushed his brother to the ground in his haste.
"Shh, buddy - it's alright, come on, we'll go somewhere else, alright?" Don pulled his brother to his feet and kept a hand on Charlie's back as well as his arm as he maneuvored him over to his own desk.
Charlie was shaking like a leaf and pushed his face into Don's shoulder. Don recognised the sound of his sobs and closed his eyes. It would take ages for him to get over this - he probably never would. "How about we go down to the gym; you can have a shower and I can give you some spare clothes in my drawer?"
Charlie didn't appear to have heard him and still kept his limpet-like clutch of his big brother. Don sighed and stayed there, running a hand through his brother's hair, not flinching as he found lumps and wet patches of blood from Bruce.
It had been about an hour since it happened. Terry and David were taking care of Bruce as Don tore into the profilers - they should have realised the fires were a cry for help.
Charlie was coming out of the gym showers and pulling Don's clothing on. He paused as he took in the smell of his big brother, feeling comforted and safe. Don had called his dad, and Charlie in his catatonic state hadn't argued. Their dad wasn't coming down, but Don had promised that both of them were coming for dinner, and Don was staying the night.
"Charlie?" He looked up as he pulled on Don's socks - he wasn't putting his own on; they were as covered in blood as his shoes were - and saw his brother stood there. "You alright?"
"Better," Charlie replied truthfully. He paused, "Did I..." he broke off, looking down.
"What, Charlie?" Don prodded.
"Did I embarrass you?" He asked quickly. "I - I called you Donnie. In front of your co workers. And uh... cried. Sorry."
"Hey, buddy - they don't care. And I don't care that you called me Donnie. Though you can bet under normal circumstances I would kick your ass for it; only Dad can call me that. But you were upset. No harm, no foul."
Charlie nodded, then paled. "What was Dad like?"
Don paused. "Uh... he's... worried," Charlie snorted slightly. "He thinks you're either gonna go suicidal or lock yourself in the garage for a few months," Charlie winced. "Uh... you're not; are you?"
"Can we just go home?" Charlie pleaded, his hand snaking back to clutch at Don's shirt.
"Sure thing, buddy. Let me tell everyone we're going."
He managed to successfully get a quick briefing from Terry and David, both of whom voiced exact sentiments that they hope Charlie would feel better. He then took his little brother out of the building, where he then waited for Charlie to vomit into some bushes near the entrance.
He kept a steady hand on Charlie's back, and waited patiently until Charlie coughed and straightened. "Sorry."
"Don't worry about it, Charlie." I hope you never get used to this.
"Charlie, Don, boys - are you okay?" Alan rushed out of the house to meet them, and Don suspected that his father had been waiting just on the other side of the door until he heard a car pull up.
"Hey, Dad." Don greeted, accepting the hug he was given and turned to watch what Charlie did. The younger Eppes was never really that good with physical affection. Don always initiated any, leaving Charlie to just take it, but he felt that today it wouldn't be the case.
"Charlie; are you alright?" Alan asked worriedly, patting his son's cheek, shoulder, hair - anywhere else he could think of to make sure Don hadn't left out a disabling injury in his report.
"I'm good, Dad - can I just go brush my teeth?" Charlie asked, patting his dad's shoulder in return, and was issued a small hug before being granted his wish to find his toothbrush.
"Donnie, come inside - you can help serve the dinner." Alan said, keeping an eye on the stairs as if he wouldn't rest until Charlie came back down.
Don calmly helped put dinner on the table, and was just making sure there would be nothing for Charlie to start writing equations with next to his spot, when his dad spoke: "Donnie - is Charlie going to be alright?"
"Dad, he went through an awful thing today that I doubt anyone can bounce back from," Don told their dad. "But I think Charlie's a lot more resiliant than any of us realise."
Alan didn't look as though he would accept this, but Charlie appeared in the room so he didn't pursue it, instead he gave his youngest son a warm smile.
"This is really good, Dad," Charlie offered quietly, slowly eating. His plate was still nearly full, whilst Don and Alan were both onto their second helpings. "And here was me thinking you'd be lost without me."
"Believe it or not, son - I have lived on my own before and do know how to cook." Alan informed him.
"Dad, that Christmas dinner you made when Mom was sick was probably the worst I've ever eaten - and I've eaten stake-out food." Don teased.
"I remember that," Charlie suddenly joined in. "The roast was burnt and we couldn't even carve it. Don was going to get the buzzsaw." His eyes were light and happy at the memory.
"Well I didn't see you coming up with any better ideas," Don accused mildly, happy his brother was becoming slightly animated. "You just sat laughing with Mom, and trying to tell me the probability of us getting to eat that night."
Alan smiled. "Your mother said it was the best dinner she'd ever had." Charlie smiled, his eyes burning with unshed tears. He missed their mother. She could laugh about anything.
"Well, Dad - I think I'm gonna hit the sack, I'll have to be up early tomorrow." Don said, removing his plate and stacking the others to put in the kitchen.
"I think I'm going to go to the garage and - "
"No way, Charlie - you're going to bed too," Don insisted, looking to their father for backup. "Right, Dad?"
"Right," Alan agreed. "The dishes can wait till tomorrow. Go to sleep."
Charlie sighed. His mind was racing with numbers to distract himself from what he had been through that day and he really wanted to write them down. Nevertheless, he said goodnight to his father and went upstairs.
"Charlie," He turned to look at Don. "You know where I'll be if... you know."
Charlie gave a small smile and slipped into his room, quickly pulling his pyjamas on and trying to fall asleep.
Don couldn't sleep. He wanted to go down to get a drink, but he knew that sooner or later, he would hear his brother's footsteps along the landing and into his old bedroom. Charlie may think he was too old, independent - a maths professor for god's sake - to seek out his big brother for comfort after a nightmare, but he still did it every time.
Just as Don had predicted, he heard a gasp, sheets being flung off, a door opening and the pad of swift feet coming closer to his door. Don sat up, and waited as Charlie hesitantly pushed the door open.
"Can't sleep?" Don asked. It was their age old ruse. He wouldn't ask if it was a nightmare - that would imply childishness - instead, he would ask if Charlie couldn't sleep. His little brother would play along, get into bed and hog the covers. They'd both then fall asleep.
Charlie gave a small smile. "Not really."
"You better not snore - and I know what you're like with other people's personal space; you have no boundaries." He teased lightheartedly, knowing full well that Charlie liked to distance himself from people he didn't know, and really just hogged Don's personal space.
Charlie gave a small chuckle and got into the bed, which was big enough for both men to have their own sides. Don gave his brother's curls a quick pat and turned over onto his side, while Charlie predictably tugged the cover away in an attempt to get comfortable.
"Hey, Chuck - give it back."
"There's enough for both of us, Donald." Charlie argued, tugging it some more.
"Don't make me try out my FBI hand to hand combat training." Don warned lightly, pulling the cover so he had some.
"I'll get Larry onto you." That threat shut Don up and they were silent for a while, until Charlie said: "Uh, Don I just, um... you know... thanks."
"No problem, Charlie. Just give me my damn cover back."
Yes, a meaningless story that has several plot holes -what could be better? :D My first Numb3rs fic, so don't scream if the characterisation isn't exact, okay? But I hope you enjoyed the brotherlyness and please review :)