Yay, another update. Sorry again for the wait, but work has absolutely sucked lately, plus I'm trying to go back to school in January. I hope this makes up for it, though!
For the next few days, Charlie spent a lot of his time in quiet contemplation. Everyone understood, so they didn't press him to talk. Charlie had asked to speak with Megan again, and told her, to her surprise, that he wanted to speak with one of the therapists that she had recommended. She gave him a list, saying that she knew all of them, and they were chosen because of their specialty with victims of PTSD. Later that day, he had called each of them, and scheduled an appointment with one for the day after he got back home.
He also worked hard, both with the very little physical therapy that the doctors were allowing, and catching up with some of his work. He knew that Larry had taken over his classes, but he still had work to do before the end of the term, and he didn't want to fall behind. His physical therapy was painful, but he was not about to bow down. His feet were the biggest concern, but they were also working on his shoulder, which was doing much better, but they were making sure that there would be no issues with it down the road.
All in all, it was hard for Don to find a time to talk to his little brother. He knew that he couldn't put it off any longer, when it was the day before they were scheduled to fly back to LA. Wright had called a few times for updates, but there wasn't much the team could give him, as they weren't on the case. Harrington's body had already been sent back to his family, and they would be informed of the services when they got back as well.
Finally, though, Don sucked it up. He knew that it was time to talk to Charlie, though that didn't stop him from being nervous. It was one thing to talk with his fellow agents about things, but this was his brother, the one person that Don had known since birth, and had sworn to protect. It was also the one person that he had failed above all others. He wasn't sure why Charlie hadn't been wanting to see him, other than the possibility that he blamed his brother for the events that brought them here.
Though it was hard, he forced himself to go to the hospital room, knowing that his dad, Amita, and Robin weren't going to be there, as they were out at dinner. He glanced in the room, and saw Charlie and Tim looking over Charlie's laptop, talking in the computer language that he didn't understand. He knocked gently, noting the way that Charlie jumped a few inches and paled before he realized who it was.
"Hey, Don," he breathed, hoping that no one noticed his reaction.
McGee could feel the tension in the room, so he stood. "Thanks for the help, Charlie," he said, packing up his things. "That'll help me with the firewalls a bit more. What time does your flight leave tomorrow?"
"I'm getting discharged around 4, and I think the flight leaves at 7:30," he answered, saving the work and closing the laptop. "Are you guys going to send us off in style?" he teased.
McGee chuckled. "I don't know about that, but we'll be here. Take care." With a slightly nervous look at Don, he made his escape.
"How you doing, buddy?" Don asked.
Charlie tried not to wince at the nickname. He didn't know why he felt so nervous around his brother, but, like Don, he knew he couldn't run from this anymore. "Ready to get home," he responded, shifting his weight slightly. He wasn't in the bed, but in a slightly more comfortable chair, as he hated hospital beds. "So, no one's told me anything about the case. What's been going on?" he asked, gesturing towards McGee's deserted chair.
Don sat down, and considered his words. "To be honest, I don't know much. Wright ordered all of us off the case, but I know that Fornell and Saks have been busy with interrogations, and Robin's helping the local DA with the paperwork." He held up the bag he had brought in. "Everyone else is at dinner right now, and I thought I would spare you the horrors of mystery meat."
Charlie accepted the bag with a look of surprise and started pulling the to-go boxes out. "Caesar salad, chicken sandwich, and fries," he said with a nod of approval. "Thanks, bro."
Don smiled. Maybe this wasn't going to be as hard as he had worried. He pulled out his own food and passed over a bottle of water before he dug into the food.
They ate, mostly in silence, and the tension seemed to dissipate with the familiarity of eating together. Both were lost in their own thoughts and fears, but mostly they just enjoyed the company and the fact that the case was, indeed over.
Charlie was the first to break the silence. "So, I talked with Colby, and he's going to help me join the dojo he trains at."
Don started. He knew that Charlie wasn't exactly a sloth, but the only physical activities that he had seen his brother at were biking, hiking, and playing basketball. Jujitsu, which was the dojo he was talking about, was definitely a step up. "What prompted that?" he hedged.
Charlie looked at him incredulously. "Wouldn't it put your and dad's minds at ease if you knew that I could defend myself a bit better?" he retorted.
The agent shrugged slightly. "To be honest, I was thinking that you wouldn't want to work with me, after all this."
Taking a deep breath, Charlie considered that. "There's always something that I can help with. Unless you guys don't want me there anymore…"
"Of course not!" Don exclaimed, some of the pieces coming together. "The last few years, I've loved having you work with us, but I'd understand if you were hesitant. This was huge, and it should never have happened."
Charlie sighed, realizing what was going on, and part of him wanted to laugh. He should have seen it earlier, but he blamed the drugs he was on. "Don, I don't blame anyone for what happened, other than the people who did it," he said with complete honesty. "I know you, and I'm sure that you drove everyone insane trying to find me. I just wish there was more that I could have done to help myself, which is why I was thinking of joining Colby's dojo."
Don bit his lip. He knew that his brother would say something like that. "You did everything you could," he returned. "You didn't give up information that would have led to the death of the director of Mossad; you kept yourself alive until we could find you; and you used the training that you've gotten to take down a traitor. There isn't anything else that you could have done, and you did just as much as any of us could do."
The brothers chuckled. It was like pulling teeth to get them to talk about emotions; it was just how they were. However, once everything was out in the open and talked about, they all felt better.
Charlie sat back a bit. "So, what's going on with you and Robin?" he demanded, trying to change the subject.
"What are you talking about?" Don demanded, getting a bit defensive.
"Well, I hadn't heard anything about you two getting back together, and then she shows up. Now, I know that I'm pretty great and all, but I don't think she came here just to see me."
Don blushed, causing Charlie to smirk a little. "Hey, two can play that game! What's the latest with you and a certain Indian mathematician? I rarely see her out of your sight."
The nurses came in moments later to break up the pillow fight that had been started, glaring at Don for getting their patient riled up. Don cowered slightly at the verbal lashing that they gave him, and the threats of calling security.
The next afternoon the NCIS team plus Ducky and Abby met the FBI team, Charlie, Alan, and Amita at the airport. Robin was staying a bit longer to help the DA with the backlog of paperwork pertaining to the case. Everyone knew that the team would need to come back for the court case, but that was still a ways off.
The goodbye was anything but tearful. Everyone from LA was ready to go home, and NCIS was ready for things to get back to normal.
Don and Gibbs shook hands, Tony and Colby joked about something that no one else cared about, Abby flirted a bit more with David, Megan and Ziva exchanged a quick and slightly awkward hug, and Ducky made sure that Alan had the numbers for the right doctors and physical therapists.
Abby chuckled when she saw the look McGee was giving Amita, and went up to him when she saw that the female professor was out of earshot. "I think she's taken," she whispered.
Tim jumped slightly, and started stammering. "No, I don't think that she's… I mean, you know that I'm not…"
She patted his arm. "Your secret's safe with me, Timmy," she assured with a grin, then skipped off to say farewell to Alan, who reminded her a lot of Ducky.
Charlie made his rounds, thanking everyone for their help, before Ziva cornered him.
"Thank you," she said honestly. "You saved my father's life, and for that, I owe you."
Charlie flushed slightly. He was leaning heavily on his crutches, having refused a wheelchair, which had infuriated the doctors. He fiddled slightly with them. "I was just doing my job, I can't exactly…"
"You were courageous," she interjected with a smile. "Director David has told me that, should you wish to visit Tel Aviv again, he would be honored to thank you in person."
To that, Charlie didn't know what to say. Instead, he just nodded, and she squeezed his shoulder in understanding before walking away. Charlie took a moment to look around at the eleven people that were gathered as they said their goodbyes. It was hard to fathom that nearly all of them had met at one point before this, and then were all gathered together.
"Ready, Chuck?" Don asked, walking over.
"Sure, Donald," Charlie said, rolling his eyes, knowing that he would never break his brother of the habit of calling him that. He leaned down to grab his bag, but David stopped him.
"I've got it," he said, picking it up.
"Let's go home," Amita said, giving Charlie a quick kiss. She was still reeling from the relief that Charlie was alright, and wanted to make sure that he stayed that way.
The seven of them – Alan, Amita, Charlie, Don, Megan, David, and Colby – walked towards security, pausing one last time to wave goodbye to the rest of them. While it had been horrific, it was always nice to have met new friends.
"Alright, let's get back," Gibbs barked.
"Got it, boss," McGee said, turning back to the two SUVs that they had. Tony had agreed to return the one that the LA team had rented so that they could take it to the airport. It had been crowded enough with two of them.
"So, Probie, when are you going to LA?" Tony asked with a smirk. When he saw McGee's expression, he laughed. "I heard you and the other geek talking about your visit. So, when is it?"
"In a few months," McGee said.
"As long as you don't get kidnapped there," Gibbs warned as he opened the door to the SUV.
The agents laughed, and Abby ran over to McGee. "When are you going?" she asked with a secretive smile. "I think I'd like to see Special Agent Sinclair again."
McGee smirked a bit, though he hid it well. "You can't go, Abby."
She glared at him. "What is that supposed to mean?" she demanded.
"It's the same weekend as the Brain Matter concert you were talking about," he said, and watched as her face fell.
"What? Can't you switch it? Gibbs!" she whined, going over to the boss.
Don't worry, I'm going to have one more chapter before it's over! I'll do a bit longer thanks in that one, but I wanted to thank all of you for the reviews I've gotten lately, they mean a lot to me!
I hope the conversation with Don and Charlie went alright. I'm not great with talks between those two, as their relationship changed a lot during that season, but I think it went alright. If you have constructive criticism, let me know :-)