Charles Edward Eppes sat in El Diablo's Cantina, a small dark and dingy bar in the darker side of LA, and nursed a beer.
Other patrons of the bar avoided the man like plague tonight.
It wasn't that he was violent or even vulgar when he talked—it was the intense look in his eyes that seemed to bore through your skull as he looked at you, his anger making him appear as a predator.
Most nights the man was just another patron looking to have a few quiet drinks as he watched the others around him. If a fight broke out he would be one to avoid though; it was not that he was an excellent fighter or could even throw a good punch.
He was a mathematician who had friends in rough places, who was used to not fighting himself, but using the environment against his opponents, using his brain to quickly figure out the ways to avoid getting hurt while hurting those around him.
He was damn good at it.
It was why no one was near him that night until a new idiot and his friend decided to pick on the man in the corner by himself, thinking he was an easy target.
Charlie got hit a total of once, gaining him a black eye.
His opponents weren't so lucky—they were beaten horribly.
At first it had been just him as the others watched, a glass bottle there, a chair here—he always paid for the furniture he broke, it was the rules of the bar.
But when one of them got up and pulled out a knife, then proceeded to trip and almost stab a patrons lady friend. . . All hell broke loose.
After they had been dealt with Charlie would admit that he felt better, and he began to feel even better when he went from that lone beer to Tequila, even if he was still pissed at his father and Don nothing could quite piss him off as much as he had been.
Come the next morning he woke up on a couch with a splitting headache and a throbbing eye.
After he looked around he flipped over, buried his head into his arms, and groaned as he realized he was in Amita and Marissa's apartment.
He moaned again as he heard a soft giggle from the kitchen, knowing they were both in there and laughing at his misfortune.
With a weary sigh he picked himself up off the couch and made his way towards their bathroom.
"Not a word from either of you, I'm a grown man and if I want to get into a bar brawl and totally trashed after fighting with my brother and father about who I consider family, I'm allowed. It wasn't a smart thing to do, but I'm old enough to make my own choices."
With that he jumped in their shower to try and escape his aches and pains.
Amita and Marissa held in their laughter until after they heard the shower run and then they almost fell as they gave into peals of laughter.
It wasn't often Charles Eppes got drunk, but when he did, it was memorable.
Soon, their laughter died off as they thought about why Charlie had gotten drunk. There wasn't much that could faze the genius like that except for his family. When things like this happened the line that Charlie flirted with on a constant basis with the numbers got even closer, causing both women to worry.
There was one person that they figured could help keep him grounded but they weren't sure he was open to relationships of the same sex. They knew Charlie would jump the man in a heartbeat if given the chance.
After all, Ian Edgerton was man who grabbed all of Charlie's attention and held onto it the whole time he was here. Not to mention as Charlie had once said, "He's got that dangerous vibe that just screams 'I'm gunna ride you hard and fast and make you wanna come back for more.'"
It had left the girls giggling for hours after that, pictures of the two intense men in heated passion floating through their minds and causing them to blush.
They may have been together but they weren't dead.
Still, despite their thoughts on who could tether their "beard" to earth, they were both worried about the outcome of whatever it was Charlie had said to his Father and Brother.
All of this had the potential to destroy Charlie, something no one would want.
Don walked into the bull pen at eight in the morning, coffee in hand and small frown marring his faceCharlie hadn't come home last night, according to their father.
In fact, he hadn't even gone into work, Amita was teaching his class. He'd called Charlie's office only to find that Amita was in his office, getting ready to teach his classes for the day. Her voice had been cool and clipped with him, her answers short and there was an undercurrent of anger that he'd barely caught; Don had resigned to himself that she definitely knew and was more than likely pissed at both him and his father for Charlie .
She said he was just "Getting away from everyone's bullshit."
Normally, he wouldn't even consider his brother using that kind of language, but yesterday kicked all of his assumptions about his brother out the window.
Two hours after he'd clocked in, Don sighed for the fourteenth time in an hour causing Megan's eyebrow to twitch as David and Colby traded worried glances.
Something had happened, presumably between Charlie and Don, and it was causing Don to be uptight and moody.
None of the three knew what to say or how to approach their boss on the subject, afraid they might end up in the cross fire.
Still, his inner turmoil manifesting itself outside his mind in the form of tapping, loud gum chewing, and the periodic loud sigh bothered his teammates until it caused Megan to finally explode.
"That's it! I've had it with you, Donald Eppes! What in the hell is going on that's got you wound tighter than goddamn drum?"
Don looked down at his desk, his brows furrowing together once more and a frown pulling at his face.
"Sorry Megan, I-I'm just worried about Charlie. We got into a fight last night about what David overheard him say while he was on the phone. He read Dad and I the riot act for jumping to conclusions without all the information and stormed out of the house. He hasn't been back since and Amita has taken over his classes for the day."
Megan's eyebrows furrowed as she looked at him, "What was the argument about."
David answered her, telling her what he'd told Don the day before.
"He was making plans with someone he called Mama Ro and several others, including a person called Uncle Ron, and Don said they didn't have anyone by that name in their family."
Megan turned back to their team leader, "What did he say after you made your assumptions known?"
They watched as Don finally just sighed and told them exactly what Charlie had said.
"Charlie dressed both me and Dad down with this flat cold monotone voice and intense furious eyes. It was different, he was different, it seemed as if suddenly there was an entirely new person there that neither of us had never met before.
"He said that I shouldn't jump to conclusions when I don't have all of the information, and as it turns out, I didn't. He met Ms. Wolfe-Mama Ro, David-and her children while he was going to Princeton ."
Don's voice got softer with the next part, still slightly disbelieving yet filled with awe.
"They were Mom's friends-Charlie's friends-they were their family when Dad and I had our heads shoved so far up our asses because Dad didn't see why Mom wanted to go all the way across the country and I just wanted to get away from the genius brother whom everyone paid attention to.
"I've only ever seen him be so . . . Passionate about a math formula, never people. But there he was, glaring at Dad and I as he spoke of these people we've never heard about because we didn't take the time to know Charlie as the Man he is and not the Boy he was. Even after all this time we've spent together, I never thought about asking about his time at school, I figured it was the same as it was when we were in high school you, know? Him doodling his numbers on notebooks and concepts that would take weeks for me to learn clicking immediately in his head."
Megan just looked at Don with sympathy in her eyes, she and the guys had seen the way Don and their father had treated Charlie, like he was unable to take care of himself as if he were still a child.
But he was there with them-not in the front lines, of course-looking at crime scene photos and finding criminals who have done such horrible things.
He was so much more than either of them gave him credit for.
They looked at Charlie and saw the thirteen year old boy in high school, not the Math Professor, the Government Consultant with top level clearance, or the person who knew what he wanted out of life.
It seemed Charlie was finally tired of being treated as a child, tired of waiting for them to really see who he had become so he'd finally forced their eyes open.
Amita sighed as she wrapped up Charlie's last class of the day. It hurt her that he had to do this, had to force his family to see the difference between who he was now and who he was then.
So much about him was still a mystery for them.
Her and Marissa watched as he became more and more tense over time, the restraint he showed in not shoving the life he'd built without his brother and father in his life slowly causing him more harm than good.
Eventually, they would suddenly be thrust into all of Charlie's lifethe good and the bad, the honest and the criminal.
She hoped they could finally accept him for all that he really is and not the innocent little math maniac they had him as in their minds.