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10 June 2009 @ 03:38 pm
Numb3rs Fic: Detente  
Posted to numb3rs_slash
Crossposted to eppescest


Title: Detente (Sequel to Defiance)
Series/Universe: Devolution
Pairing/Characters: Don/Charlie, Alan, Margaret, OCs
Rating: PG13
Spoilers: Pilot, UP, Identity Crisis, Sacrifice, All's Fair
Summary: 1994 - The brothers make a sort of peace at a family funeral
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ


It was stifling warm in the funeral home and not for the first time Don tugged at his tie and collar, wishing he could at least take off his jacket.

Bleary-eyed from barely sleeping on the red-eye flight, he followed his parents to the line of chairs at the front of the room where a simple pine box contained the body of his grandfather.

His mother guided his father to a chair; he was broken up, losing his father without warning. Zeidy was always so hale - a big man like his son - that they'd all been shocked at the heart attack claiming him without a fight.

He sat down on his father's right side as eldest son, but his parents were so busy with each other they didn't need him.

Charlie sat down beside him and Don turned to look. This had been far harder on his brother than him. Being in New Jersey for school for so many years Charlie had spent the better part of the last decade visiting their bube and zeidy in New York on weekends and during holidays. It had never mattered to their mother that they were her in-laws; she loved them too, especially the grumpy patriarch trying and failing so badly to hide his inner softie.

Charlie had, in a sense, lost his father at thirteen when he went away to college. Zeidy had taken on the fatherly job of raising him into manhood in his son's absence.

All at once Don felt unbearably sad for Charlie. He'd had both parents at home all through high school until he hit 18 and went away to college. Charlie? He'd been torn away from the beloved family home and their father and stuffed into a cramped apartment in New Jersey for the most important years of his adolescence.

Charlie raised his head from where he'd been staring at the floor to gaze at the pine box before them. He let out a little sniff - no tears, he was too grown up for that - but Don suddenly felt his grief as a physical weight, made heavier knowing what Charlie's burden had to be.

When he'd first heard news of the death nineteen hours earlier it put his relationship with Charlie into perspective in a way nothing else ever had. It all seemed so absurd - the fighting, the clashes, the resentment between them. He'd almost lost his brother twice and yet he'd still treated him as if there would be plenty of time for them to start getting along at some point in the future.

He just hadn't truly understood before that sometimes there isn't any future.

+

It all happened so fast, Charlie's head never seemed to stop spinning.

The phone call from his mother tearfully breaking the news to him, the crazed packing, canceling all his appointments via cell phone in the cab on the way to the airport, the rushed flight across the Atlantic back to New York from England... He'd spent a week with his grandparents the month before - meeting his parents there during spring break - and now his grandfather was just gone. No goodbyes, no final moment to tell him what he'd meant to Charlie. Nothing.

A whirlwind of arrangements followed, all a blur to Charlie. He'd not had anyone close to him die; this was his first. He felt like he was walking around in some sort of dream world - everything hazy, surreal, alternating between moments where he felt lost and confused and others where - in an errant moment of absolute clarity - what he'd lost would hit him and hit him hard.

Don and their father got tickets for the red-eye flight overnight so they could make it to the funeral the next day. For once the news of seeing Don had absolutely no effect on Charlie. He wasn't sure if he could feel even if it had.

They all met at the airport - his mother having flown in from a conference in Seattle - everyone yawning and grim-faced, the solemn reason for the occasion hanging over them all.

Charlie waited awkwardly while his parents embraced, not wanting to rush them, but not knowing what to do with himself in the middle of the airport.

"Hey..." Don's voice seemed preternaturally loud even in the din of the busy terminal. "I know this is rough for you," he said, his voice so caring it sounded foreign to Charlie's ears. "You got to spend a lot of time with him. I didn't. I just had that handful of visits when we were young and a couple of Hanukkahs. But I'm glad you did. I'm glad one of us really got to know him before he was gone."

Left mute, Charlie just nodded until he was able to force out a meager "yeah."

"So I guess I just wanted to say..." Don's voice trailed off as he ran his fingers through his travel mussed hair. "I don't even know how to say this! I guess what I mean is I know we've had our differences in the past, and it's not like they're magically wiped away all of a sudden, but it seems like a good time to kind of make peace, you know? Not fight anymore? Especially for Mom and Dad. So as far as I'm concerned, we're cool. Okay?"

Charlie felt dizzy and tired and ill prepared to think about anything really, but at the very least he could tell that making some sort of peace with Don would be a good thing even if it wasn't based on them working out any of their issues.

Functioning on autopilot for the most part, he nodded his assent. "We're good. Yeah, we're cool." The words felt thick on his tongue, but they made it out and earned him a little smile from Don.

"All right then."

"Charlie..."

Their parents had finished their tearful embrace and their father had come for him.

As Charlie allowed his father to embrace him something broke inside of him. There were all these stories Charlie wanted to share about his father's father and now it almost seemed mean to tell him all about what his father had missed being three thousand miles away.

Charlie might have had a long distance relationship with his father for years, but his dad had always been there - always been a phone call away, reading to listen, to offer advice, to raise his spirits with a joke or words of encouragement when he was down.

Now his father wouldn't have that for himself ever again.

He held his father a little tighter, sadder now for sharing his loss.

When they finally broke apart Charlie's eyes were hopelessly watery and he tried to blink away the threatening tears with a few calming breaths as they started their way out of the terminal.

He fell back, letting his parents go on a distance ahead of him, but Don stayed with him, walking side by side in silent solidarity.

Charlie stole a glance over at his brother and found his head down, lines of private grief etched into his face. Don had lost something too; something he'd never really gotten a chance to have.

"He asked about you," Charlie offered, trying for a smile. "All the time. He really liked watching the videos of your baseball games that Dad sent him."

"Really?" Don perked up, a little glimmer of something in his expression that somehow made Charlie hurt more and a little less at the same time.

"Yeah," Charlie said confidently. "He'd make Mom go on and on about how well you were doing in college and on the team and he knew your stats almost as well as I did." He risked nearing enough to bump their shoulders slightly. "Couldn't stop yelling at you on the screen every time you fell for a low and outside pitch though."

Don let out a little chuckle, pained but pleased. "That sounds like him."

Their parents, up ahead, discovered how far back they'd fallen and stopped to wait for them.

"I just thought you might like to know," Charlie said quietly.

Don slung his arm amiably around Charlie's neck as they went to join their parents.

"Thanks."

+

The graveyard was a fairly long drive; it wasn't like there was room for cemeteries in New York City.

It was pretty and green there and Don liked the spot his grandparents had picked out for their joint final resting place.

The time back east had flown by, days of far flung family renewing faded bonds and stories from his grandfather's friends about his life and history - things Don hadn't known about him and more than a few he'd bet his father hadn't known.

Most of the family was staying a couple of days longer, but Don had to get back. He'd already missed one game and he needed to suit up for the next one else risk losing his place in the starting line up.

He'd wanted to make one last trip out to say goodbye and had been surprised when Charlie offered to go along.

They'd not really talked on the drive out, the radio standing in for conversation as Charlie stared out the window watching the city fall away as they finally got out of the urban sprawl.

Bube had given him stones and as they walked to the grave Don held out his hand and gave Charlie some to place on the headstone.

They stood in silence, side by side, for a long while, with only a slight breeze for company.

"I have to go back to California," Don said to his brother eventually, his voice laced with regret. "I don't really want to leave, but I've got this game... It's a really important one. I can't miss it."

"I understand." They shared a glance and in that moment Don believed that Charlie honestly did understand. "Good luck."

"Thanks."

They walked back to the car and drove back to the city together, just as silent, only this time the silence was comfortable, companionable - just two brothers like any others.

=
 
 
 
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on June 10th, 2009 10:38 pm (UTC)
Confession
Quick glossary: Detente, bube, zeidy.

(Yes, I know Detente has an accent in it and yes, I am embarrassingly lazy when it comes to typing in accents online.)

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais
SamuelJamessamueljames on June 10th, 2009 11:40 pm (UTC)
Very well written, made me cry. Charlie & Don's grief was sad but also thinking of Alan losing his father. I'm glad Don realised that he and Charlie should make peace.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on June 11th, 2009 07:14 am (UTC)
Hi there and welcome to my LJ! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. It's much appreciated.

/puts out a plate of cookies for you/

I'm thrilled that the emotion of this got through to you. I've been through funerals and anyone who has lost someone usually finds the topic resonates with them strongly. I like that in fiction a death in the family can bring people together. I haven't found that to happen in my reality, but it's a lovely thought in fiction, thus me deciding to use it to get Don and Charlie to detente after all they've been through together.

One more installment in this series tomorrow /glances at clock/ make that today, then it goes on break again. I promise it won't make you weepy (unless it's from laughter at the opening sentence). /grins/
Devo79devo79 on June 11th, 2009 12:37 am (UTC)
As sad as this was it still gave me hope for the boys.

But I have the feeling you'll be stamping all over my happiness soon, won't you?

Edited at 2009-06-11 12:46 am (UTC)
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on June 11th, 2009 07:09 am (UTC)
/struggles valiantly to gag self to keep from saying anything/
devon99 on June 11th, 2009 12:30 pm (UTC)
So sad, yet with a little glimmer of a truce that gives me hope for the boys.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on June 11th, 2009 07:30 pm (UTC)
Plenty more angst and sadness to come in future arcs (because, well, Margaret), but for now a truce made sense. They're both adults now; time to put childish things aside.
Tori Lovelostandalone22 on June 12th, 2009 09:06 pm (UTC)
I love this so much.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on June 19th, 2009 06:39 am (UTC)
rubynye: Back to Back (Numb3rs)rubynye on June 16th, 2009 01:21 am (UTC)
I am so glad you've posted these. I think this one will bring tears to my eyes whenever I reread it.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on June 19th, 2009 06:40 am (UTC)
Aww... /sniff/

They needed something big to get them to make this important shift. It's just sad that often it takes death for people to see what they're doing wrong in life.