This unedited one-shot is to inform you all that I am on vacation and will get back to regular posting when I get back home.
Until then, enjoy ...
DISCLAIMER: I still own nothing but a bunch of DVDs.
Don walked out of the library, pulling on his ball cap before he scanned the parking lot. His brother wasn't in any of his usual nerd spots and he was REALLY starting to lose his patience. Charlie was supposed to wait for him so he could walk him home. Mark was waiting for him at the arcade, but he couldn't go until he got his wayward brother home. Well, Don was fed up with looking. He would take one more lap around building and If Charlie didn't show his face then he was on his own.
"I'm not lying. I really don't have it."
Relief at hearing his brother's voice was short lived when Don turned the corner. There was Charlie alright, but the nine-year-old was not alone. In fact he was facing the school's newest hockey star, Brian Grant.
"Yeah right," the bigger kid scoffed. "They gave the assignment out yesterday. A braniac like you probably had it done by dinner. So you better hand it over if you know what's good for ya."
"It's not due until tomorrow," Charlie argued. "I was gonna get it done tonight."
"Then I guess you and I have a meeting tomorrow morning," Brian countered, cracking his knuckles. "Don't we?"
Don clenched his fists and headed straight for them. Brian had just moved to the neighborhood a couple month prior and had not yet learned that threatening Charlie could be hazardous to your health. Neither one noticed his approach … until he grabbed Brian by the collar and yanked him away from his brother.
"If I were you, I'd skip that meeting," Don warned.
"Back off Eppes, unless you want a busted lip."
"Funny I was about to say the same thing to you."
"Don," Charlie said tentatively, stepping up to his side. "It's okay. Let's just go."
Knowing that sticking around would be pointless, Don firmly grasped his brother's shoulder and escorted him off the school grounds, glaring at Brian until he was out of sight. He didn't let go until the were nearly a mile from the school, but Don still kept an out for any rough hockey players. Charlie may not always be his favorite person in the world, but that didn't mean he was going to let some lazy punk take advantage of him.
"Thanks," Charlie muttered a few blocks from home.
"Yeah, just try to be ready to go next time, okay?"
"Okay … you still need help with you math assignment?"
"Heck yeah. You know what Mom and Dad will do if I don't get my grade up."
The walked in silence for a few more blocks, before Charlie stopped. Instantly on edge, Don scanned the area to see if some new threat had spooked his brother. When he found nothing, he looked down at nine-year-old.
"I was just thinking," Charlie started slowly. "I help you all the time, but when someone else tries to do the same thing you … well, you go all bodyguard on me."
Don ran a hand through his hair, wondering if he should feel guilty or annoyed. Where the heck does he come up with these things? Bracing his hands on his knees, he lowered down to looks his brother in the eye.
"Charlie … First off, It's not the same thing. Guys like Brain are too stupid and lazy to do their own work, so they try to make you do it for them."
"But I've done stuff for you too."
"Yeah," Don replied slowly, trying to figure out of to word his thoughts. "But that's different."
"Because they don't respect you, buddy. They see you as a calculator they can use whenever they want and that's not okay."
Charlie dropped his gaze, a small smile spreading across his face. He shuffled his feet, avoiding eye contact and speaking softly.
"You respect me?"
The question itself was a bit of a shock. Why was it even a question? Had he really been that bad about getting the kid's help that he had become one of the bullies? He was really going to have to be careful if he wanted to make sure the line stayed clear, starting right now.
"Yeah, of course I do," Don assured him, giving the boy's shoulder a squeeze. "I may not show it that much and I may ask you to do things for me here and there, but that doesn't change anything. Alright?"
Charlie grinned and nodded. Satisfied that he had gotten through to him, Don ushered him down the block and around the corner. He would have just left him there, but there were still a few neighbor kids to worry about. Once he knew his brother was safely inside, Don headed out to meet Mark. After chasing off Brian, building up Charlie's self worth, and making sure the kid got home okay, it was time for this bodyguard to have some fun.
Don headed through the halls of CalSci, trying to remember where his brother's office is. Usually he talked to him at the house or when Charlie came to him, but he had just run into a case that they needed an analysis for asap and he didn't have time to wait until he was done with office hours. Finally locating the door, he looked inside to see his brother talking to … detectives?
"Okay, I'm gonna need more data, the the home invasions from the from the last six months should be enough," Charlie said, looking up from a file. "If you can get that to me in the next couple days, I should be able to have something for you by the beginning of the week."
"That's too long," one of the men stated, shaking his head. "You're going to have to shorten the window."
Charlie gave them an odd look, as if trying to decide how serious they were. After apparently deciding they were serious, he motioned to his chalkboards full of equations.
"I can't just shorten the window. What you are want me to do is create and antilogarithm to perform an in-depth analysis and that takes time."
"Well then you better make time professor," the second one instructed. "We need it tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" Charlie laughed. "You're kidding right?"
The two detectives, however, didn't seem amused and that put Don on edge. He knew no decent cop would do anything against his brother, but he had no idea of knowing how decent these cops were. He took half a step into the room, still unnoticed by the other three, deciding to wait a bit to see how Charlie handled it.
"Detectives," the professor started, sounding a bit like he was addressing a couple of students. "Even without my class load, and setting aside other collaborations I'm working on, there is no way I could get you this data set by tomorrow. And to be honest, even with a team of highly trained technicians, you're still gonna have a hard time getting accurate results this fast-"
"Save the lecture," the first one snapped. "Just plug in the numbers and tell us where the thieves will strike next."
Charlie snapped his mouth closed at the outburst, but clearly wanted to keep explaining that what they wanted him to do was impossible. At that point, Don and seen enough and stord right over to his brother. The two detectives gave him a stern look, obviously not knowing who he was.
"This is a private conversation," the one that yelled stated firmly. "You're gonna have to leave."
"Oh, I take you own advice there, pal," he replied.
"Don, it's okay," Charlie whispered.
Suddenly, his brother was nine-years-old again, facing a school yard bully who wanted the boy genius to do his homework. And now, just like then, Don wasn't about to let some creep use his size or status to force Charlie into doing something he didn't want to do. But as he sized up the two detectives, he could see the wheels turning in their minds as realization dawned on their faces.
"You're Special Agent Eppes?" the second one asked.
"Yeah," Don confirmed. "Who are you?"
"I'm Detective Frosh," the first one replied. "This is my partner Detective Haines. We're investigating a series of home invasions on the west side."
"Thousands of dollars worth of stuff has already been taken," Haines interjected, glancing at Charlie. "If your brother would just give us his what we need we could-"
"Okay, stop right there," Don interrupted, glaring at the detective. "First off, don't lay that crap on Charlie. He has his own job and certainly doesn't have to do yours. Second he told you what he needed and how long it will take. So, if you want his help, give him what he needs and let him work. Otherwise, find someone else."
Don stared down the two detectives until they looked away. Just like with the kids at school, a bully is only a tough until someone bigger comes along. After assuring the professor they would get him the data he needed, the pair left. Once they were gone, Don looked back to his brother. Charlie had his back to him as he slowly finished an equation on his chalkboard.
"You didn't have to do that, Don."
"Yeah, well you didn't have to put up with those guys either," Don pointed out. "You know you're a freelance consultant, right? You can say no."
"Where's the fun in that?" he asked with half a smile, setting his chalk down as he turned around. "You got something for me?"
Remembering the time frame he gave the detectives, Don hesitated. Charlie was clearly more busy then he had previously let on and he wasn't sure if he should add more to his work load. On the other hand, his case could really benefit from his brother's help.
"Well, I did have some information I wanted you to take a look at," Don admitted, pulling a thumb drive from his pocket. "But you know, if you busy I could ask one of our techs to do it."
"But then you would have to wait," Charlie replied, his voice distracted as he honed in on the drive. "Why don't I just take a quick look and let you know."
"Well, I'd appreciate it."
He handed over the drive and Charlie immediately plugged in into his laptop, pulling up the data sheets. Don watched him for about ten seconds before he realized his brother was lost in the world of data. Knowing he would call when he surfaced, he decided to head back to the office.
"Thanks, Buddy," he called over his shoulder.
Charlie grunted in response, waving in his general direction. Shaking his head in amusement, he went back out to his suv. His brother definitely had his own priorities, though he couldn't help but worry that he might be taking advantage of him …
Looking up from his desk, Don saw Charlie heading toward him. A quick glance at his watch showed him that it had only been two hours since he had left the drive with his brother.
"That was quick," Don commented, rising to meet him.
"Well, it was just a simple analysis," he replied dismissively. "But I think I found something."
Charlie led the way into a conference room and set up his laptop. Don stood where he could look over his shoulder while David and Terry sat down at the table. They seemed equally surprised at the speed of his work, not that any of them were complaining.
"Hey Charlie," Terry greeted. "I didn't expect to see you here so soon. I heard you had some other projects."
The mathematician glanced his way and Don answered with a shrug. Terry knew him too well not to notice he was irritated when he got back. Charlie didn't seem to mind and instead just gave the agents a smile before turning back to the laptop.
"Well, someone reminded me that I am not a calculator and can work on what I want."
"Don smiled as his mind flashed back to the little boy beaming with pride when he found out his big brother respected him. And that was even more true now than it was then. Now Don understood Charlie in ways he never could as a kid. The guy might not always make sense, but that didn't change anything. He was still his genius brother, and Don was still the bodyguard making sure no one took advantage of that; not even him.
What do you think? Am I any good at writing one-shots?