Third in my series. Enjoy. This will probably be around twenty chapters. :)

Title: Fragile balance
Author: Cindy Ryan
Pairings: Don/Terry, Charlie/Amita
Timeline: season two AU
Summary: Moving on isn't always easy

In a private conference room at Los Angeles's maximum security prison Alexis Kuznetov sat shackled and chained to a table. Two guards flanked the door outside. Don Eppes stood just in front of the closed door. It was seven on a Wednesday morning. Nearly two weeks after Charlie's return.

Don had used up just about every marker and favor he had to arrange this private meeting. Normally they'd be in the visitors section. Sequestered from the general public but still not private. No one in Don's family or his team knew he was here. He hadn't wanted the arguments. Everyone was just starting to heal; especially Charlie. At the thought of his brother new anger surfaced. Anger Don thought he had dealt with. All those awful days he'd thought Charlie had been murdered. When in reality he'd been in the witness protection program because of the mob boss sitting a few feet away.
Kuznetov may not have directly ordered a hit on Don's brother but he might as well have. Unbeknownst to Don there had been threats against him, his family and team. The U.S. Marshals had gone with the only option they had at the time.
Take away what made Don the most vulnerable.

Alexis broke the silence. "I'm missing breakfast, Agent Eppes."

Don smirked. "I don't care if you starve to death."

"Did your lady love perish?" Kuznetov inquired as he leaned back in his chair as much as he could."I do hope so; that device is a favorite of mine."

Don held himself in check; just barely. He knew Kuznetov was baiting him by bringing up Terry and those harrowing moments in Vegas. Nearly losing his partner had brought their relationship into crystal clarity for Don. They had a lot to talk about still but Terry meant everything to him. Partner in the truest sense of the word.

"No, that part of your plan failed as well."Eppes replied as he rested his hands on the table.

Kuznetov smiled. "It was painful for me to harm Agent Lake I did like her."

"Whatever happens with this trial."Don began."I want to make it very clear that you will not threaten my family or my team again."

Alexis held up the shackles. "I am not a threat to any one."

"We both know that's crap."Don snapped.

"Believe what you wish." Kuznetov acknowledged.

Don knew he was playing with fire, but it wouldn't be the first time in his life and probably not the last.

"Let's put this in terms you'll understand."Eppes continued."If I hear that any of your men so much as sneezed in the direction of anyone I care about your privileges here will go away and you'll be in solitary confinement. Understood?"

The Russian's eyes grew cold. "Yes. I hope you enjoy the rest of your day, Agent Eppes. I hear it's beautiful outside. Typical sunny California weather."

Don shoved himself away from the table and left the room without another word.


David glanced up at the knock on his hospital room door. He smiled seeing Terry in the doorway. She looked like hell. Her face cut and bruised, more bruises on her neck and forearms. From what Colby had told him they were damn lucky she had survived at all.

"Morning."Sinclair greeted gesturing for Terry to enter."What brings you by so early?"

Terry smiled briefly before sitting down in a chair by David's bed. "Haven't been sleeping much so thought I'd come visit. How are you?"

"Almost out of here."David replied happily. "Doc says couple more days then back for physical therapy."

"Good."Lake acknowledged with a nod. "We've missed you; especially Colby."

David nodded. "Only so much daytime tv I can watch. Not sleeping? Have you seen the bureau shrink yet?"

"Had one session so far."Terry confirmed. "The not sleeping because of nightmares thing didn't start until after the session."

David knew seeing the bureau psychiatrist was policy after a traumatic incident or shooting. He also knew most agents saw the shrink as little as possible. Just enough to be cleared for duty. It sounded to David that Terry was following the same path and that worried him.

"The trial bring up the nightmares?"Sinclair guessed.

"Yeah and it hasn't even started yet."Lake replied quietly.

"You tell Don?"David asked.

"He's got enough on his plate."Terry stated with a shake of her head.

"Terry…."

Terry reached forward and lightly touched David's right hand. "Don't worry I'll survive. I did want to ask your advice on something."

"Of course, anytime."David offered as he shifted to a more comfortable position.

"I put in for a transfer."Terry said as she looked down at her hands. "There's an opening at ATF. I talked with the supervisor and he said pending the normal red tape and paperwork I should start in a couple weeks."

"You leaving because of Don?"David asked even though he already knew the answer.

David had suspected Don and Terry were becoming closer outside the job. Then when they thought they'd lost Charlie the two were inseparable. Don was barely hanging on without his brother only natural that he'd lean on the one person that could help him through it.

"That's gotten complicated."Terry replied with a sigh. "We became romantically involved after Don thought he lost Charlie. Crossed a line we probably shouldn't have."

"You love him?"David inquired.

Terry nodded. "Yes, and he's still angry with me over Vegas."

"He'll get past it."Sinclair countered. "You were doing what you thought was right."

Terry stood. "I still screwed up. He needs a partner he can trust."

"Talk to Don."David urged."I've seen how he is around you. You're more important to him than you think."

Terry smiled as she patted David's right shoulder before she turned to leave. "Thanks for listening. I should go."

"Terry."David began halting the younger woman in the doorway."Call me whenever you need to. About Don…..about Kuznetov….don't keep this bottled up."

Lake nodded as she left.

David watched Terry leave worriedly. He had a feeling she wasn't going to talk to Don about the transfer. Knowing Don as he did David knew that would not go over well.