Genre: Angst. Drama. Romance. Friendship. Post-Movie.
Word Count: 1404
Pairings/Characters: Don Eppes, Charlie Eppes/Colby Granger.
Synopsis: In which Don once again finds his brother in the garage, but this time he is not alone.
Comments: The final part of this weird series of post Janus List/Trust Metric fics. Wanted to stay in Don's POV, but not 100% sure it worked as well as I'd hoped it would. Follows 'Reasonable Doubt' and 'Paradigm Shift'. Characters not mine, thanks for reading, comments and kudos are awesome.
He should really just start checking the garage first, Don thinks, when he pulls up to the house to find the lights on. He's been looking for Charlie for a while now and yet again the search has led him from the FBI offices to CalSci to here, with unhelpful phone calls to both Amita and Larry along the way.
He heads inside, finds his father seated in his favorite chair with the game on, a beer in hand. "You want one?" He offers, "We're winning, seven to four."
It's tempting, and maybe Don will take him up on it once he talks to Charlie. Colby's first day back at work is tomorrow and he wants to make sure that there won't be any issues if they have to call Charlie in for anything. "In a minute, I just gotta ask Chuck about something."
"He's sure popular today. Colby just showed up looking for him, too. I sent him out to the garage."
Interesting, Don thinks, but he keeps that thought to himself because their dad doesn't know about Colby and Charlie's history yet, that they haven't spoken since the Janus List came out. "I'll drag them both in, then."
His trip to the garage is executed with a bit more stealth than originally intended. His caution is wasted, though, because if he didn't know better, he might have been convinced that no one was even in the garage, in stark contrast to the last two times he'd found his brother here. There had been loud, crashing noises, then, as Charlie's poor, defenseless chalkboards had been first destroyed and then repaired. Now, though, there are no loud noises, no noises at all.
So much for Charlie and Colby talking, he sighs, prepared to barge in and interrupt whatever awkward moment has developed between the two.
But Colby's voice stops him.
"I know you don't want to see me, talk to me, but just hear me out, okay?" Colby starts, his words quiet and measured and Don becomes an eavesdropped rather unexpectedly. "I know I put everyone, you especially, in an impossible position and I don't expect you to forgive me for that, I don't even really expect you to ever want to hear from me again, but I'm sorry, Charlie. I never wanted this, the way things played out."
Charlie stays quiet.
Don does, too.
"I got offered a job in DC," Colby says, when it becomes clear that he's not getting a response, "and if you don't want me here, if you don't want me around, I'll take it. I don't want to, but I will. I'll go and you'll never have to see me again."
There's a sigh from Charlie, and Don can hear the scuff of shoes on the cement floor - pacing, "No, you don't have to do that. We're... we're adults. I can deal with seeing you around the FBI offices."
"Okay," Colby replies, and somehow he sounds relieved and disappointed all at the same time, "I'll leave you alone, then?" Don backs away when the footsteps draw closer to him, doesn't want to get caught listening in on this.
But Charlie calls out, "Wait," and the footsteps recede again.
"What is it?"
"Um. Just... Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. They let me go, didn't they? Cleared me for work." Colby's voice is farther away now, closer to Charlie, maybe, Don thinks. "I need to thank you, though. They only found me on that boat because of you, Meghan told me. And that you convinced everyone I wasn't a traitor - trust metrics, she called it. Is that what this stuff is?" Don's a little surprised that Charlie still hasn't cleared off those boards. "What happened in here, anyway?" The broken boards are still piled in the corner, meant for the trash but not yet moved, he knows.
"The day you confessed happened here," Charlie answers, surprisingly honest. "I, uh, didn't take it... well."
This time Colby is the one who doesn't say anything, there aren't enough apologies in the world.
"Don found me, calmed me down," he goes on, "You should know that I told him. About us, he knows." Charlie explains, fair warning for Colby's return to work, perhaps, given that Don hasn't seen the man yet, either.
"Yeah? How'd he take that news?"
Charlie manages this choked off laugh and Don isn't tremendously proud of how he'd handled that conversation initially. "About as well as you'd expect, given how he spent that day. Thought you were using me, giving my equations to your contacts. He came around, though. He was here the other day, trying to convince me to talk to you."
"I never would have done that to you," Colby swears, and Don can hear the sincerity of it in his voice. "Kirkland tried to get me to once, early on, to use some of your equations as bait for the higher-ups. I said no. I did everything I could to keep you out of it, you know?" Colby counters, and Don knows that much is true. He'd watched Colby's confession enough times to know that he'd made things as blunt as possible, so no one would ask any questions. "If they'd known we were together, it could've blown back on you and I didn't want that. They'd have gone after your work, taken your security clearance, your consulting jobs. I'm not sure I could've kept up the lie if that had happened. So I'm glad we never told anyone, but I'm also glad you told Don, that he was here for you when I messed things up so bad."
"I'm so sorry, Charlie," he rambles on, "I mean, six weeks in solitary gives you a lot of time to think about things and all I could think about was you and what you had to think of me that whole time. And I just... I love you, okay? I love you and I know we never said that before, but I do and if you can... if you can forgive me for lying to you, to everyone, about this, then..."
"I should go," Colby cuts himself off, like he'd never meant to say so much. "This isn't what I came here for, is it? I just... I won't bother you again."
"Don't," Charlie says, as Don prepares to make his escape. That sounds harsh, though, for his brother, even in these circumstances. Don't bother me again? The footsteps don't draw any closer, though, and Charlie amends his statement with, "Don't go," which makes much more sense. "I'm still mad. I'm going to be mad at you for a while, yet, I think. But I can forgive you. I will, I promise, but I love you, too, okay? And I'm glad you're okay and I'm glad you're not a spy and-"
And there's a loud crash, a solid weight hitting something with a considerable amount of force. Don dares to glance around the door to see what the hell that was and sees Colby pressing his brother back against the chalkboards, the two of them wrapped up in a heated kiss.
"I missed you so much," he hears Colby say and for the first time, Don feels bad about eavesdropping on this private conversation. He'd only wanted to know if they could work together and that answer he'd gotten early on. Curiosity had kept him there, the desire to see if his brother would come around and forgive Colby as the rest of the team seemed to slowly be doing. He knows that now, too.
Don moves to retreat, to leave them to their reconciliation. He bumps a rake, propped against the siding, and it clatters to the ground. He's sure they had to have heard it, but another quick glance back at them suggests they did not. They're still kissing, Colby's hands white-knuckle fisted against Charlie's shirt, like he's afraid Charlie will disappear if he doesn't hold tight enough.
He's seen enough.
Don retreats back to the house, where he won't be invading any more private moments. His claims a spot on the sofa and takes a beer, stares at the screen without really seeing it.
"The lovebirds work things out, then?"
Don blinks, stares, "You knew?"
Alan laughs, takes a long swig of his drink, "I may be old, son, but I'm not blind."
"Yeah," he assures his father. "Think they're good."