Disclaimer: Nothing but the storyline and original characters belong to me – besides, with a husband, my mother, an unemployed son, five cats and two dogs all under one roof, I don't think there would be room for the Eppes anyway. Drat.
Spoilers; Under Pressure, Toxin, Two Daughters, Ultimatum
A/N #1: This started out as a short one shot and ended up over 13,000 words! Thanks to some great advice from 1st endeavor and ALEO it will be presented as four chapters with a prologue and an epilogue. Hope you enjoy this little bit of fun, with a little action, a little angst and some brotherly bonding.
A/N#2: This takes place sometime between mid-season five to mid-season six. (after Charlie's clearance was returned and before he accepted Cambridge's visiting professorship). And, yes, at times, Don and Charlie are out of character – but, that's the point.
Summary: Don and Charlie teach two award-winning brothers a thing or two about acting.
~ by MsGrahamCracker ~
The elevator doors slid open with a muted whoosh onto the eleventh floor of the Los Angeles FBI building and Special Agent Don Eppes stepped out into the plush corridor. Unlike the noisy and active cubicle atmosphere of the bull pen where he and his team worked, the eleventh floor exuded a calmer ambiance, no less efficient in it's functions, but more directed and isolated. The offices here were separate, where department heads and managers worked behind closed doors to fight crime with memos and directives and legislation instead of weapons and foot chases. Don much preferred the action and excitement of the bullpen and field work.
He turned down a familiar hallway towards the office of the Assistant Director, Philip Wright. It was not unusual for him to be summoned to his supervisor's office; budget meetings, performance reviews, case updates and the occasional ass-chewing all conspired to place him walking this hallway more often than he liked. What was unusual was the fact that the director had requested this meeting before office hours Thursday morning, well before Don or any of his team would have normally been there. Even more unusual, and more than a little disconcerting, was the fact that Wright had asked Don to bring Charlie along, as well.
His brother walked quietly beside him, a nearly palpable nervous energy radiating from him as they approached the director's office. The recent investigation involving his security clearance, followed by several intense meetings with Agent Carl McGowan, who also inhabited an office on the eleventh floor, had left Charlie similarly trepidatious. Don wished he could ease Charlie's anxiety, but the truth was this scenario was so out of the norm, he himself was a tad apprehensive.
He had had no problem with Philip Wright since he had been appointed director a few years ago. Don had found him to be professional and fair with the agents under him, and ruthless in dealing with the criminals. He was nowhere near as arrogant and self-serving as Walter Merrick had been before him. The struggle to get Charlie's security clearance reinstated, though, had left Don a little sour towards the bureaucracy and he had to remind himself Wright had actually lobbied in favor for both of them. The vacant secretary's desk outside Wright's office, however, added to the ominous feeling that had settled in Don's stomach, reminding him that he and Charlie were there at 6am for a reason - and he had no idea what it was. Don gave his brother a grim smile that fell short of reassurance and raised his hand to knock on the door.
The door opened before his knuckles connected with the polished wood and Philip Wright greeted the Eppes brothers with a curt nod, gesturing for them to enter the office. Silently, the large black man motioned towards two rich, burgundy leather armchairs, separated by a elaborate French Walnut inlaid occasional table. Exchanging a nervous glance with each other, Don and Charlie sat down.
"I appreciate your willingness to meet with me at this ungodly hour, gentlemen. Coffee?"
Both Don and Charlie declined and the director started for the opulent leather chair behind his desk, then, apparently thought twice about it and leaned back against the desk, resting his hip against the heavily varnished and polished antique. He folded his arms across his chest, then immediately let them fall again to each side, tenting both hands on the desk surface on either side of his hips. One hand raised then, to his jacket pocket, where he pulled a handkerchief out and wiped it across his brow.
Wright's nervousness was so obvious Don almost felt sorry for him. The agent shared a quick, puzzled look with his brother, then turned his eyes back to his supervisor. "Is there something you needed, director?"
Wright decided, somewhat impulsively, that he preferred the chair after all and moved quickly around the desk, lowering himself into the over-sized seat. A full ten seconds passed before he spoke.
"I've never believed in nepotism," he stated, his voice firm, his manner suddenly brusque and business-like. "Wretched policy. A man should make his own way, earn his own place, not by sailing by on the coat-tails of his father or grandfather ... or uncle."
More confused than ever, Don and Charlie, once again, exchanged bewildered looks.
Wright spoke again. "I find myself in the undesirable position of needing assistance, and I'll admit I'm rather uncomfortable with the idea." As he spoke again, his manner became perturbed and exasperated. "My younger sister's only son, my nephew, Martin, has aspirations of becoming the next Steven Spielburg. He graduated from some film academy in the valley a few years ago, but he's 32 now and doesn't have much to show for himself. He's directed several low-budget movies with a modicum of success – horrible things in my opinion, all some ghastly monster-of-the-month nonsense - still, the motion picture industry is rather forgiving. I don't know much about the politics in Hollywood, but somehow, a promising project has fallen into his lap. He swears it will be the next big blockbuster. The producer has already signed on a top screenwriter and one of the best stunt coordinators in the business. The movie apparently has quite a bit of action and two of the biggest stars in the industry, and for some reason Martin has been asked to direct it."
Don and Charlie sat quietly, not sure if a response was needed or expected, and when none was offered, Wright continued.
"If this movie is as big a success as everyone seems to think it will be, it will go a long way towards establishing Martin as a credible director." Wright took a deep breath and let it out slowly."Not only that, it will get him out of my sister's basement and into a place of his own."
Still not sure how this affected them Don and Charlie both nodded slightly and remained quiet.
"The problem seems to be the two stars, Jordan and Alex Boudine."
Both Don and Charlie had heard of the Boudine brothers; young, talented, successful actors with multiple People's Choice and Golden Globe awards between them. Three years ago, in his first staring role, Alex Boudine had won an Oscar for his portrayal of a young man tormented by his inner demons in a motion picture where his older brother, Jordan, had played the part of the psychiatrist who tried to help him. Both men were single and considered two of Hollywood's most eligible bachelors and often traded places on magazine covers as the sexiest man alive.
Finally finding his voice, Don asked, "What's the problem?"
"Well, apparently the two of them don't get along that well - something about only one of the getting an award on the last movie they made together - and Martin is afraid that the animosity will project on the screen. They already have their agents demanding their trailers should be on opposite sides of the set so they don't have to see each other between scenes. What he is hoping is that if he can bring a certain realism to the film – a true and accurate depiction of the main characters – that it will override the dissension between the two of them. They are both, after all, talented actors. They can, at the very least, act like they like each other."
Charlie shifted slightly in his chair. He remembered a few months ago, he and Amita had stayed up long after his father had gone to bed grading mid-term papers and watching David Letterman. Both Boudine brothers were guests that night, apparently unwilling victims of a manipulative producer. They had both sat, sullen and cross, avoiding each other until Alex's Oscar win was mentioned. Jordan's angry remark had been bleeped out and he stalked off-stage. Charlie had laughed at what seemed, at the time, to be an intentional ploy for publicity for the Boudines and a ratings coup for Letterman, but . . . maybe, there was more to it than that. He cleared his throat and scooted forward in his seat. " Excuse me, sir, but, why are we here?"
Wright sighed deeply, some of his earlier discomfort returning. "It's the movie, itself. I believe it's called "Field Trip" or something like that. It centers around an agent for Homeland Security who is tracking a terrorist in America. During the course of the movie he encounters a high school math teacher and his students who are on a field trip of some kind and apparently they help him track down the terrorist using math."
Charlie's eyebrows rose, disappearing beneath his curls that fell across his forehead and he glanced at his brother, whose wide-eyed, mouth agape expression told him he was similarly shocked.
Wright continued, quickly. "I was hoping – and rest assured, gentlemen, there is no pressure or obligation here - I was just hoping, that since this so closely parallels your own expertise and experience you could give them a true feel of the characters. The majority of the movie, I understand, has the agent, the teacher and the students tracking the suspect in some wooded area or forest. If you could take them under your wing, for just a weekend mind you, and show them how the agent would react to certain scenarios and how the math teacher might determine the most likely escape route."
Neither Eppes was able to articulate an intelligent response and Wright reluctantly sighed and played his last card. "It's just that the two of you work so well together, and . . . I would consider it a personal favor."