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29 April 2009 @ 11:59 pm
Numb3rs Fic: Brother Protector  
Written for numb3rs100 Challenge April 2009 Rewind – Therapy, Resistance, Forgiveness, Support

Title: Brother Protector
Pairing/Characters: Don, Charlie, William Bradford
Rating: PG13
Word Count: 1200
Spoilers: Take Out, The Fifth Man
Summary: After he recovers Don tries to talk to Charlie (The Fifth Man Post-Ep)
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ

155. Therapy

William Bradford settled into his chair as the clock struck 4PM.

"I thought your brother would be joining us today."

Don rubbed his palms on his denim-clad knees and gave a little shrug.

"So did I, but he called and said he had to cancel. Again."

William let out a bemused huff. "And I thought you were tough to drag into therapy. Any thoughts as to why he's avoiding these sessions, or is he just avoiding you?" He looked at Don pointedly, but Don just shook his head at him.

"He's not really avoiding me," Don offered, hesitant. "He seems fine when we're having dinner at the house with our father, but if I catch him alone he's either in the middle of a breakthrough or rushing off to some obligation he's supposedly late for."

"So he doesn't want to talk about what happened to you."

"Can you blame him? He thinks it's all his fault."

William leaned forward. "I think the big question is, do you blame him? And don't just give me a pat answer. I want you to sit there a few minutes and think about it - really give it some thought."

Don sat in silence for a long moment, scrubbing his face with his hand until his expression cleared.

"No. I honestly don't blame Charlie at all." He cocked his head, pensive, a hint of a smile on his face. "You know, I've tempted fate so many times... I've been the first through the door, gone in without backup... It's kind of amazing I didn't end up badly hurt before."

"What do you attribute that to?"

Don's smile was proud and genuine as he ticked off on his fingers.

"Being damn good at what I do and Charlie being damn good at what he does."

037. Resistance

Don rapped on Charlie's office door before walking in, smirking at all the equation-covered cardboard boxes.

"Still not unpacked?" he joshed. "Isn't that what TAs are for?"

"Hey, Don..." Charlie was typing furiously into his laptop then rose abruptly, closing it. "I'm really busy right now. I've got a meeting to go to."

"At 7:30PM? What, don't academics eat?"

"It's a dinner meeting," Charlie countered, shoving his laptop and some files into his satchel.

"Listen, about Bradford today," Don began awkwardly. "If you don't want to talk to him, that's okay. You don't have to."

"Something just came up, that's all." Charlie slung his bag over his shoulder and headed for the door. "Reschedule it for next week, or better yet the week after, and I'll be there."

Don put out a hand to halt him.

"We need to talk about this," he said, trying to catch Charlie's furtive eyes.

"Yeah, sure. Just next week, okay? This week's crazy. Got to go!" He shook off Don's arm and all but bolted out the door.

"That's what you said last week," Don muttered to himself.

Alone in the empty office, Don pulled out his cell phone. Charlie didn't pick up - Don knew he wouldn't - but he waited for the beep to leave a voicemail.

"Charlie, listen. I figure if you won't talk to me at least this way I can talk to you. You have to know that I don't blame you - for any of it! I put my life in the hands of my team and you know what? That means you too. You know, you may have felt like I protected you when we were growing up, but you're more than returning the favor now. I go out in the field and you're the brother protector, not me."

152. Forgiveness

The knock on the door at 2AM rousted Don out of a deep sleep and when it turned to pounding he stepped up his pace to go open it.

Charlie burst past him into the room, hands already in motion in an anxious flutter.

"I can't do this anymore, you have to understand that!"

"Hold on, buddy! Hold on!"

Don grabbed him by the biceps to still him and only then did he notice Charlie's watery eyes and anguished expression.

"I can't..." Charlie mumbled, defeated, as if stilling him had stolen all the fire from him.

"Come sit down." Don guided him to the couch where Charlie sank down and Don crouched in front of him. "What's going on?"

Charlie wiped ineffectually at his eyes as his jaw set, resolute.

"I can't send you out there again," he stated firmly. "I can't put you at risk again because of my bad math."

"Charlie!" Don stared at him, flabbergasted. "I'm safer because of your math! We all are!" Charlie just shook his head vehemently, lips pressed in a grim line. "And your math wasn't bad! You were right about the four man crew!"

"I was wrong about the danger!" Charlie shouted. "I screwed up, okay? I just tossed out the math for you guys, barely even thinking about it. You trusted me with your lives and..." Charlie's voice broke as he met Don's eyes. "And you almost died because of it."

Don pulled his brother into his arms. "If it's what you need to hear? I forgive you."

"How can you?" Charlie murmured, clutching at Don's t-shirt. "When I can't even forgive myself?"

Don tugged him closer, part of him breaking inside with every guilt-wracked shudder he felt go through his brother's small body.

"Bradford. He'll tell us how."

053. Support

"You know, I've studied a fair amount of science." William put his pad and pen aside as their session came to a close. "So I know both squishy science and hard science - stuff like E=mc squared. Now E and m are variables..."

"Hey, even I know that," Don tossed out.

"Score one for the jock," William teased, making Charlie grin despite the serious atmosphere lingering in the room. "So two of those letters are variables. And what's the third?"

"A constant," Charlie intoned.

"So we have two variables - things that won't always be the same - and one constant - something that will always be what it is." William caught Charlie's gaze and held it. "What I've found in our session today is that there's an equation here that has two constants and one very important unknown variable."

"And what does that variable represent?" Charlie asked, humoring him.

"The danger of Don's work. No matter how good your math, no matter how good Don is, the danger involved can't be quantified and predicted. If it could, hell, we'd keep criminals from doing bad stuff in the first place! But we can't. So you need to accept that variable and put it in proper perspective. Once you do that - once you accept that Don's work is dangerous no matter what either of you do - then you can support him, help make him safer, better prepared for the danger."

"What are the two constants?" Don asked.

"Let's call them D and C..." William explained. "For Don and Charlie."

"And we make an equation with this X variable?" Don looked to William who just pointed to Charlie.

"Yeah." As Charlie turned his trademark grin towards him, Don felt a flood of relief at having his brother back again. "D + C is greater than X."

Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on May 1st, 2009 04:26 am (UTC)
I confess I don't like the title of this fic, but it's all I had so there it sits - annoying me. /glares at it/

The first draft of this was a complete disaster so I chucked all but a couple lines and started over. I'm not super thrilled about the second version, but at least it's better than the first.

I had wanted to do something really good and meaningful as a post-ep for Fifth Man, but my PC's hard drive started dying a couple of weeks ago and once it became clear it wasn't fixable I started spending my time doing all sorts of backups and endless rebooting trying to bandaid it. Thus this Rewind Series got pushed off until the last possible second - in fact I'm publishing this late and sneaking it in by backdating it to yesterday since the last day of the month is reserved for my Journal Reviews.

So now that I've confessed it's the 30th, I should also say thank you to everyone who voted for me (and Mel and I) at numb3rs_awards. I'm too on the fringe as a writer to win a lot of awards and I don't cater to the kinds of fic the masses tend to like (i.e. Colby schmoop) plus despite how much gen I write I can't compete with the gen authors who don't slash (I know my rep as a cester turns quite a few people off) so I always figure any award is a major victory. So thank you, brave souls, for giving me the opportunity to entertain you.

Congratulations to everyone on my F-list who won. ♥ /gives you all roses/

Very special thanks to beta melissima for her assistance with this fic.


Emma DeMarais
ladygray99ladygray99 on May 1st, 2009 04:44 am (UTC)
I like this. I like Bradford using squishy and hard science but I'm sleep deprived so those both sound dirty to me. ;-)

I really like the middle two. I always like the exploration of Don and Charlie as brothers and the slow overlapping of their lives.

Oh and I actually like the title quite a lot so there. ;-)

And congratulations on your big win. Think of it like getting the best picture Oscar without picking up all those silly tech awards like sound mixing. Who needs those anyways. Last year you put out fic after fic after fic all of a consistent quality that was just staggering so... /big hugs/

And depending how my schedule looks I should be sending you a chocolate dipped Ian fic some time tomorrow.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 1st, 2009 05:02 am (UTC)
(Comments in possibly odd order since I'm rather out of it myself ATM. Mea culpa.)

Thank you. I know I'm supposed to feel good about winning Outstanding Slash Author - and I am gratified in a certain sense - but it doesn't mean what I wish it meant, you know? The awards don't mean what they should, but I do appreciate people thinking of me and wanting to offer some recognition for the stories that I've written for the fandom. It's that appreciation I'm grateful more, far more than a list on a comm or a little graphic I'll never put on my profile.

That said, I'd bet money you'll win it next year. You're taking over Irena's audience so it's just a matter of time before the masses crown you the fandom favorite.

Think of it like getting the best picture Oscar without picking up all those silly tech awards like sound mixing. Who needs those anyways.

Actually I'm very close to someone who has won major awards for sound so, um, there are people who appreciate those awards too. :-)

Frankly I'm just glad Safe Harbor won. Vice was too much of a crapshoot to win and Wilderness Bound was way too long for people to bother reading, but I really wanted Safe Harbor recognized at the very least. I historically have some head scratching wins each year (Gen AU? Um, okay) and this one's no exception. Ah well, I've never thought I understood what readers really like. I just write what comes out and hope for the best.

Congratulations on your wins. You made out like a bandit so go celebrate!

Yay for chocolate dipped Ian! I'm all in flavor favor!

I like Bradford using squishy and hard science but I'm sleep deprived so those both sound dirty to me. ;-)

LOL Have you heard that old joke about those words? It was something about a woman who hung up on what she thought was an obscene phone call, but it was a tech guy talking about wang, hard drive, ram and floppy. Hehehe
Zubeneschamali: fedcakeszubeneschamali on May 1st, 2009 05:03 am (UTC)
"Support" was awesome. Well, they're all great, but I really liked that last one. I love the equation; does it come with Bradford-vision? ;)
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 1st, 2009 05:05 am (UTC)
Hee! Yes! Just imagine Bradford with Einstein hair. LOL

Thanks for reading hon and congrats on winning at the awards!
(no subject) - zubeneschamali on May 1st, 2009 05:18 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 1st, 2009 05:17 am (UTC)
Thank you! I really liked that one myself.

This fic was definitely rushed and not my best work. I know there was a kernel of something good in the premise, but I just didn't have the raw material to polish into a good final fic so I just let it go and published it as is.

I definitely reserve the right to revisit The Fifth Man with a better fic later.

Congrats on your win as well!
hear me roar: Cereal stealermagisterequitum on May 1st, 2009 05:22 pm (UTC)
Yay for the return of Bradford. I have missed him and though we have not needed him/nor seen him this season, your story here creates a perfect situation to see him.

And I love the inclusion of math at the end. Because that is so true. So so true.

Boo for the bad hard drive. I'm getting ready to send my laptop off to get looked at; here's to hoping it doesn't die because I need to write!

This was great and I love it because it's so real.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 1st, 2009 08:58 pm (UTC)
Bradford FTW! I hope this happens in canon, that they bring Bradford in to help Charlie deal with his emotional issues surrounding Don's injury.

Meep about your laptop. Make sure you do extra backups - one is not enough and try to think of those extra little settings that people tend to forget. I almost forgot to backup my Firefox bookmarks I was so flustered! (I'd hate to have lost all of those!) But good luck. Mine is completely dead with no hope of getting any more data off of it, but at least I'm pretty sure I remembered everything I wanted to back up on it. I actually lost one of these drabbles when it died because I thought I had copied it into Gmail, but I hadn't. /frowns/ At least I remembered about three quarters of it, so oh well.

Speaking of drabbles, can I just say how proud I was that you won an award for *drabble series*? /puffs out chest/ Our Magister, knocking it out of the park! /applauds/ Go you! Just further proof of how good a writer you are. /nods emphatically/ Congratulations. @>------
(no subject) - magisterequitum on May 1st, 2009 09:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - emmademarais on May 1st, 2009 09:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
rubynyerubynye on May 1st, 2009 05:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, WOW. This series utterly takes my breath away!

And congratulations on your wins! You totally deserve them. *hugs you warmly*
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 1st, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC)
Really? And here I felt bad that it was so meh. I'm glad someone got something good out of it!

/hugs you back/

I nommed and voted for you like whoa but these awards... Meh, whatever. I'm still pleased for your win as well since that was quite the enjoyable fic. :-)
(no subject) - rubynye on May 2nd, 2009 05:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - emmademarais on May 2nd, 2009 06:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Tori Lovelostandalone22 on May 1st, 2009 07:00 pm (UTC)
Great story!
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 1st, 2009 09:09 pm (UTC)

And wow, that icon never gets old to me!

/stares at it a while happily/
Tiger Lily the Ginger Cattigerbright on May 1st, 2009 08:32 pm (UTC)
Lovely set of fics. :D
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 1st, 2009 09:11 pm (UTC)
Hi there! And thank you! Nice to see you!

/puts out cream tea and scones/

(I like that icon, BTW. Pretty...)
(no subject) - tigerbright on May 1st, 2009 10:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - emmademarais on May 1st, 2009 10:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
she studied. she climbed. she wrote.: numb3rs- ps golfloozy on May 2nd, 2009 10:39 am (UTC)
You know that jingle for McDonalds?

Budambadumda, I'm lovin' it or something like that?

That was kinda going through my mind when I read that fic :D
Wheeeeeeeeee :D

*hugs fic close*
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 2nd, 2009 06:18 pm (UTC)
LOL Oh, that's great! Now I've got the jingle in my head and it's making me smile. Thanks!

I really wanted this fic to be better - and it's not bad - but this episode deserved better brother moments. I actually think last night's episode did a bit of a better job, but I still think I'm going to try again at the whole Fifth Man aftermath fic thing. /nods to self/

Thanks for coming over to comment on my LJ!
(no subject) - loozy on May 2nd, 2009 06:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - emmademarais on May 2nd, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - loozy on May 2nd, 2009 07:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - emmademarais on May 2nd, 2009 07:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - loozy on May 2nd, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - emmademarais on May 2nd, 2009 08:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - loozy on May 2nd, 2009 08:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - emmademarais on May 2nd, 2009 08:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - loozy on May 2nd, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - emmademarais on May 2nd, 2009 09:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - loozy on May 2nd, 2009 09:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - emmademarais on May 2nd, 2009 11:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - loozy on May 2nd, 2009 10:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - emmademarais on May 2nd, 2009 11:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - auntiea_33 on May 3rd, 2009 02:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - emmademarais on May 3rd, 2009 02:17 am (UTC) (Expand)
auntiea_33: Twisted Evilette 1auntiea_33 on May 2nd, 2009 05:13 pm (UTC)
This is a very good story. It's short, sweet and to the point. My kind of story. (So says the person who writes very long, involved stories with her evil twin)

Thank you for sharing.

Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 2nd, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you for coming to read!

I'm a little embarrassed because this didn't turn out as good as I'd hoped, but the right sentiment is in there. Charlie's anguished and Don's worried and they need to get together and have a nice brother bonding moment.

(Something with more *talking* than standing in the sprinklers please, TPTB! /looks hopeful/)
(no subject) - auntiea_33 on May 3rd, 2009 02:11 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - emmademarais on May 3rd, 2009 02:15 am (UTC) (Expand)