Disclaimer: Numb3rs still doesn't belong to me. More's the pity.
A/N: I think this story is probably a little... weird. I don't know. I've never really dealt with this subject matter in my stories - though it's all perfectly natural. That said, it was pointed out to me that Charlie may seem a bit... young... in this story. Now, part of that was on purpose. I've always kind of felt that Charlie has a somewhat child-like air about him. Especially where Don is concerned. He's always so much the little brother. And when you're used to someone taking care of you... it can be hard to step out of that role. Another part of it is just because of what happens in this story and Charlie's exhaustion and fear, both of which turn little kids into even younger little kids... if you know what I mean. Okay. Enough of this. On with the story!
A Long Night
"Don? I had a bad dream."
Thirteen year old Don Eppes groaned, burying his face in his pillow, trying to block out the sound of his little brother's voice.
He just wanted to sleep. Was that so much to ask?
"Donnie? Are you awake?" Charlie whispered anxiously, sounding upset.
Apparently it was.
"Go back to sleep, Charlie, everything's fine," Don muttered, not opening his eyes.
"But… I wet my bed," Charlie whispered, his breath hitching, catching on a sob, and tiredly Don forced his eyes open and focused on his brother.
Tears were streaming down the eight year old's cheeks and his pajama bottoms were soaked.
"Charlie," he sighed, exasperation leaking into his tone as he resigned himself to leaving his nice warm bed. "Couldn't you go to Mom or Dad like a normal kid?" he asked, irritated, instantly feeling bad though as fresh tears welled in Charlie's eyes.
"I-I'm s-sorry," the little boy sniffled, lower lip trembling and tears spilling faster now.
Don sighed again. "It's okay, buddy," he murmured reluctantly as he stood from his bed, placing his hand briefly and comfortingly on Charlie's head. "I'm just tired is all. Let's get you out of those, okay?" he said softly, offering a hand to his little brother and Charlie, still crying, took it.
"I-I-I d-didn't m-mean to pee," Charlie said miserably as Don led him down the hall, forcing the words out past his sobs, his little frame shuddering.
"I know, Charlie, it's okay. This isn't your fault, all right buddy?" Don whispered as he ushered his kid brother into the bathroom and pulled the door closed behind them.
"A-are you m-mad at me?" Charlie whimpered, plucking self-consciously at his wet pants but thankfully seeming to calm down some.
"No, buddy. I told you, this isn't your fault," Don said reassuringly as he started running the bath water before turning and helping Charlie to pull the clinging pajama bottoms off.
Even Charlie's socks were wet, Don noted, grimacing and kicking the pile of wet clothes into the corner, wondering what his mother would do with them if she were up. Wash them, he guessed.
Don spared a thought for the washing machine downstairs. They would be fine up here until morning, right?
Shrugging, Don noted the tub was just about ready as he helped Charlie to unbutton his pajama top and toss it over with the rest of his clothes. Even it hadn't escaped wetness. How could one little kid pee so much? And Charlie was small for his age too.
Don shook his head, motioning Charlie toward the bath. "Want to tell me about your dream?" he asked softly once his brother was settled in the warm water, lathering up a cloth as he spoke.
Charlie frowned, trying to remember, and Don noticed he looked like he was starting to have trouble staying awake.
"I don't remember," Charlie said, his voice husky with tears and sleep. "It was scary, though, and I woke up and wanted to see you," he admitted in a whisper, blushing and looking down at the water, not meeting his older brother's eyes.
Don took the moment to clear this throat, feeling strangely touched where before, in his bedroom, he had been kind of annoyed.
Charlie had wanted him.
He was pretty sure most kids wanted their parents after nightmares. He always had. Of course, he hadn't had an older brother… still though.
Personally, he couldn't imagine wanting himself if he were scared.
If that even made any sense at all.
Don shook his head tiredly, and, deciding Charlie was clean enough for now, pulled the bath plug, noting again as he did so that Charlie seemed close to sleep.
"Probably a good thing you don't remember," he said lightly as he wrapped a towel around Charlie, drying him off.
Charlie blinked and forced his eyes open wider. "Why?" he asked, his voice still small and embarrassed.
Don shrugged; ruffling the eight year old's hair as he stood to lead the way into Charlie's room. "Well, who wants to remember scary things?" he asked reasonably.
In Charlie's room Don motioned his little brother toward his dresser to get himself some fresh pajamas while he sighed at the wetness on the bed and resignedly began stripping the sheets.
Underneath the sheets the mattress had a big wet spot too.
Don stared at it. Maybe he should have dealt with it first?
Don frowned, wondering if that was right.
He didn't remember his parents ever leaving him wet to change his bed. Although to be fair, he didn't really remember ever wetting his bed either. So he supposed they could have. Maybe one of them had fixed his bed while the other had dealt with him?
Frustrated, Don sighed.
What was he supposed to do now?
He couldn't just put dry sheets over the wet mattress… and it wasn't like they kept fresh mattresses in the linen closet with the sheets.
Maybe it was time to wake their mother up now?
Irritated with the situation Don turned to glance at Charlie and see how he was doing and, spotting him, he couldn't help shaking his head.
He supposed he had no one to blame but himself. He had known how tired the kid was, after all.
Charlie was slumped on the floor by his dresser, towel still around his waist and clean pajamas on his lap and he looked like he was falling asleep there on the floor.
Not making any more progress getting dressed then Don was making with the bed.
The teenager sighed and crouched down beside his little brother, gently shaking him awake. "Charlie. Come on buddy, you can't go to sleep yet, okay? You need to get your pajamas on."
Charlie's voice was questioning and sleepy and Don smiled softly. "Right here, buddy. You want me to help you get dressed?"
Charlie blinked at him and slowly nodded even as his eyes tried to slip closed again.
Don shook his head again, feeling a surge of affection for his little brother and he grinned reluctantly. "I want you to know this is just a one-time thing, okay Chuck?" he said conversationally as he moved Charlie's hands out of his lap to pull a pair of underwear and pajama pants onto him. "After this you can go back to dressing yourself. Deal?"
"'M not Chuck," Charlie muttered rebelliously, the hated nickname waking him more than Don dressing him was.
Don chuckled, pulling a new pajama shirt over the younger boy's head and working his arms through the two smaller holes. "Sure thing, Chuck," he said easily, outright laughing at Charlie's half asleep scowl. "Let's get you into the bed, buddy," he said, finishing with the shirt and standing, gently tugging Charlie to his feet and allowing the little boy to lean against him before suddenly remembering that the mattress was still wet.
Don sighed, running a hand through his hair, his eyes darting around the room as he thought.
"Where'm I going to sleep?" Charlie asked tiredly, still leaning most of his weight against his older brother, his lip starting to tremble as he took in the big wet spot on his mattress.
"Not your fault, remember?" Don said softly, seeing the signs of fresh tears in Charlie's eyes and quickly Charlie hid his face against his brother's arm as he sniffled. "Hey, why don't you come sleep with me for the rest of the night? What do you say, that cool with you, buddy?" Don asked, wanting nothing more than to get back in bed himself and not knowing what to do about Charlie's bed anyway.
"What if I wet?" Charlie asked in a small voice, still hiding his face, one hand holding himself as though afraid since he had done it once tonight it might happen again at any moment and desperately wanting to sleep with his big brother.
It was safe there.
"You don't normally, Charlie," Don told him patiently. "Tonight's just a fluke. An anomaly. Okay?"
Hesitantly Charlie met Don's eyes. "Okay," he whispered. "But… what if?"
Don shrugged. "Accidents happen. I'm not worried, Charlie."
Charlie nodded and Don put an arm around him and led him out as the little boy's eyelids drooped from exhaustion again.
"Don?" Charlie asked in the hall, suddenly stopping, still holding himself.
"Yeah?" Don asked, frowning, vaguely thinking his little brother was acting weird but not really giving it much consideration.
Charlie bit his lip, glancing around the hallway and stepping from one foot to the other before shaking his head. "N-nothing," he muttered, the hand holding himself unconsciously squeezing harder without Don or Charlie really noticing.
Don shrugged, too tired to really think about it and he and Charlie started walking down the hall again.
Finally back in his own bedroom Don nudged Charlie toward the bed and allowed himself to flop down as well. Finally he could go back to sleep…
Charlie whimpered then and Don realized that his younger brother was just standing by the bed, not getting in. "What's wrong, buddy?" he asked in concern, lifting his head up to study his brother, immediately noticing he had a hand down his pants now and was using it to clutch at himself.
"I-I have to pee," the younger boy said miserably.
Again? Don sighed, inwardly wondering how that was possible. "Go on to the bathroom then," he said, fighting for patience. God, he was tired. "The bed's not going to go anywhere, buddy, I promise."
"But…" Charlie's breath hitched, and he chanced a glance at the door and the dark hallway beyond, a tear rolling down his cheek. "I'm scared," he whispered.
"Of what?" Don asked tiredly, trying to be reasonable.
Reason usually worked with Charlie.
"I don't know," Charlie said with a sob, quickly shoving his other hand down his pants to grab at himself with both hands, frantically shifting his feet, and Don remembered how Charlie hadn't been able to remember his dream… only that he had said it was scary. "Donnie, it's gonna come out!" Charlie cried then, his voice panicked and pleading at the same time.
It was the urgency in his little brother's tone that decided it for Don and quickly he got to his feet, the big brother in him unable to stand by when Charlie needed him, however tired he was and however irrational and unlike him Charlie's fear was.
In the bathroom Charlie danced in front of the toilet, his hands still down his pants, grasping with all his eight year old might at his penis and trying desperately not to wet himself. "I can't get my pants down!" Charlie sobbed, starting to jump up and down hysterically. "It's gonna come out if I let go!"
"Hang on a sec, Charlie, I've got it," Don told him, hurrying forward. "Hold still."
"It's coming out!" Charlie wailed, tears flowing in earnest, just as Don managed to yank the pajama pants and underwear down and out of the way, and urine instantly started spraying out from between Charlie's fingers, the force of it finally too much for him to keep in.
Hurriedly Don situated him directly in front of the bowl and with a gasp of relief Charlie finally let go of himself, his steady stream now landing safely in the toilet.
Charlie sighed as he peed. The relief was fantastic but he hadn't entirely made it… his hands were dripping with his own urine and to his embarrassment he realized he was standing in a small puddle of it too. Apparently he hadn't gotten himself quite close enough… Don had had to push him closer and had somehow gotten his pajama bottoms and underwear not only down but completely off of him so they wouldn't get wet.
So at least he hadn't wet himself twice in one night.
Not exactly anyway.
Charlie sniffled as his stream finally slowed and he felt a gentle hand on his head. "You okay, buddy?"
Don's voice was soft and reassuring and everything he associated with safety and security and he felt an over-tired sob building in his chest, and maybe that accounted for the whine in his voice, he didn't know, he was just so tired and this night had been so stressful and he didn't know why his body kept insisting on peeing and on pushing it out before he was ready for it.
"I don't want another bath," he said, hiccupping and wanting to rub his eyes but his hands… and he didn't know why that was what he said either.
Don actually chuckled a little… but not in a mean way… and Charlie felt more tears rolling down his cheeks and he wanted to stop crying too.
"You don't need another bath," Don told him, tugging him gently toward the sink and turning on the water to help him wash his hands before closing and flushing the toilet so Charlie could sit up on it and out of the way while he mopped the pee off the floor.
"'M sorry," Charlie whispered, cheeks still wet, watching his big brother with sad eyes.
"Not a big deal, Charlie," Don murmured, next holding a cloth under warm water and lathering it up with soap before turning his attention to Charlie's legs which the younger boy shamefully noticed had a few streams of wetness on them and again he felt fresh tears coming and he was so tired now.
"It really is okay, bro," Don said soothingly as he moved down to Charlie's feet and got them too from when Charlie had accidentally gone on the floor a little.
Quickly drying the little boy off, he helped him back into his pajamas. "Ready to go back to sleep?" Don asked finally, his hand once again finding its way to Charlie's mop of curls and the eight year old nodded, sleepily reaching for Don's unoccupied hand, not seeming to notice his desire for contact and reassurance and Don smiled softly again and led him back out into the hall and then into his bedroom.
This time Charlie got into the bed without hesitation and Don followed suit, allowing his little brother to snuggle up against him where he almost instantly fell asleep.
Don spared a moment's thought for his mother, feeling a little guilty when he realized she would be waking up to urine soaked sheets and clothes that he had just shoved unceremoniously into the corner of the bathroom but…
It had been a long night. He was sure she would understand. Much longer than he had thought it would be when he first went to bed, and, as Charlie's breathing evened out beside him he felt himself relaxing as well.
A long, stressful night… and now, his little brother secure and dry beside him… he could finally sleep.
A/N: So I've been around a couple little boys who tended to wet the bed and have had cause before to wonder at just how much they can pee. In one of them it was probably a medical thing but luckily for him he grew out of it. The other I'm not really sure. I think he just forgot to go to the bathroom before bed and as anyone who has been around kids will no doubt tell you, that trip to the bathroom before bed is an important one.
In this story I didn't really intend for Charlie to fall into either of those categories. More like it was just a one time, isolated kind of incident... because even the most well trained and healthy kid is going to have an accident or a bad day/night sometime.
Luckily for Charlie though he had Don.
And, as far as the parents sleeping through everything goes... (shrugs)... maybe their bedroom is downstairs. That, and frankly, I just didn't have room for them in the story. I wanted it to be just Charlie and Don.