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Numb3rs
Content some readers may find to be disturbing. Exactly what the title says, only extremely unbetaed as I wrote this instead of, you know, sleeping. Rated CITRIC ACID REACTION.
Charlie is tanned and lithe and almost painfully thin, muscle stretched over a frame suddenly too large.

1.

Charlie is sixteen and in his senior year at Princeton and Don is twenty-one and in his senior year at UCLA. It's spring break, Charlie and Mom are home. Charlie is tanned and lithe and almost painfully thin, muscle stretched over a frame suddenly too large. His halo of hair has gone from ragged dust-mop to beautiful curls; it begs to be tangled in one's hands. Don isn't sure when Charlie grew up but he's pretty sure he doesn't like it. He certainly doesn't like the looks his brother is getting from everyone suddenly and it feels like something more than jealousy, more than one more thing Charlie has that he doesn't.

Charlie kisses him in the car on a parent-mandated bonding session they'd been sent out on. His lips are soft but the kiss isn't. Don won't admit this, not to himself and not to Charlie, but he presses into the kiss for just a moment before turning away.


2.

Don quit the minors after a year and a half, twenty-three and terrified of staying and never making it past single A ball. He went to the FBI with his 3.7 GPA and an engineering degree which makes him look smart if you don't think to look over at his genius kid brother. He told his parents at Christmas dinner which probably wasn't the best idea but Mom keeps the peace the way she always has and Charlie looks at him with something akin to adoration in his eyes. "You'll be great," Charlie says, sincerely, wide eyed and innocent. "You always protected me in high school," he says, self-deprecating.

Don wants to hit something, anything, hearing that crack in Charlie's voice. He looks down at his hands. "Yeah, I guess so."

Charlie runs a hand over his neck and Don sees flashes of red when he notices the dark bruises just under Charlie's collar. He runs his fingers over them, silently, slipping in between Charlie's fingers, and something hot coils deep in his belly as Charlie's lips part slightly and his eyes unfocus.

When Charlie whispers his name, Don drops his hand like his brother's skin is on fire.


3.

Two years after they assign Don to a field office, the FBI assigns Don and Coop to a manhunt; they catch the guy in record time. The FBI keeps them together and keeps assigning them manhunts because they're good at it, the best.

Don calls Alan once a month, when he remembers to and he feels up to being harangued by his Dad for not caring that his parents are worried sick about him, running all over the country after criminals.

He doesn't talk to Charlie much. When he does, he listens to his kid brother babble about lesson plans and lectures and how strange it is to be teaching now, how he's younger than most of his students. He keeps his hand clenched by his side when he listens to Charlie because if he doesn't... Don isn't sure what. But the one time he didn't, his hand drifted to his lips, drifted to his thigh. He hadn't let it drift any further.

Don prefers talking to Coop. They're not complicated.


4.

Don is a very, very good instructor. He's got the field experience and he's got the patience and he's got the steel. The Academy doesn't want to let him go when he requests a transfer out--tired of the fresh young faces that come in, tired of breaking them down and rebuilding them cold and hard--but he has enough favours to call in that they give it to him. Albequerque is wonderful, desert and possibilities.

It feels like death. Kim Hall is perfume and a promising future. She tastes like sweet, rotting fruit, cloying and heavy; he doesn't tell Charlie. He doesn't even tell his parents.

Charlie calls him. "Mom's sick, Don," he says, and there's no weight to it, like maybe she has the flu or a cough. But he and Charlie haven't talked in years. Not since that time Charlie had been in Virginia for business, some conference, and stopped to visit Don. They'd gotten drunk and Charlie had said some of the things they never talked about, had said 'I love you.'

Don feels the weight of the phone in his hand like it's the weight of his gun. "I'll be on the next flight to LA," he says and hangs up. He packs his bag, calls the office, lets them know he's taking family leave.

Kim looks at him like she knew he'd never really been hers in the first place.


5.

LA is a city of smog, choking its inhabitants to death. The emissions laws have cleaned it up, you can breathe the exhaust straight from the tailpipe and it's cleaner than the air was back in the 70's, but downtown still chokes you with fumes and atmosphere.

Watching their mother die was like suffocating under the smog, like the cancer took form and walked among them. When she passed it was like it had rained, sharp and clean; the air clear again. Charlie came out of that damned problem and they could talk again, sometimes. Eventually he brought his brother in on some financial cases that their forensic accountants couldn't make heads or tails of.

All the things that had passed between them, brothers and jealousy and something else, it seemed to fade into nothing; they were a family, they were a team, they'd found a good place.

Except the dark things that skittered behind Don's eyes had found another home in Charlie and they were both being consumed and somewhere after the fifth appointment with the shrink who seems determined to break and shatter every last thing Don has built up to protect everyone around him--probably to put him back together right but it doesn't matter now why--Don snaps.

Charlie gasps under him, shocked when Don throws him against the wall, shocked when Don kisses him roughly. Whimpers under Don as he hisses terrible things to Charlie, dragging Amita into the mud.

Charlie should be turning away, should be furious, and if he were Don could stop, maybe, but he's leaning into Don like a plant looking for sun. Don tangles his hands into Charlie's short hair, bites at his kid brother's jaw, tears apart every good and clean and normal thing Charlie's built for himself, and it's everything he's ever wanted.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-28 03:13 pm (UTC)
ext_3545: Jon Walker, being adorable! (Default)
From: [identity profile] dsudis.livejournal.com
Oh my GOD, you just made my WEEK with this! Such beautiful, painful, boiled-down essence of Don/Charlie, and

When she passed it was like it had rained, sharp and clean; the air clean again.

That whole metaphor just made my chest hurt in the best, best way. This is so very beautifully done. Great work!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-28 06:11 pm (UTC)
niqaeli: cat with arizona flag in the background (Default)
From: [personal profile] niqaeli
You made my week with this reply! I blew through the fic in this fandom in about a day and yours was the stuff that just *stuck*.

I have another 2,000 words written but I think that that stuff actually wants to be a longer story so. We'll see. :)

And, heh. The LA metaphor is... well. I lived in LA for about six weeks, have family there. *wry* There's something wonderful about the air in LA after a rain, like there's a clean slate and you can start everything over.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-28 03:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] castalie.livejournal.com
Poignant and powerful, raw and real; this was beautifully done, I love it!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-28 06:14 pm (UTC)
niqaeli: cat with arizona flag in the background (Default)
From: [personal profile] niqaeli
Oh, gosh. Thank you for such a lovely reply. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-28 03:49 pm (UTC)
sansets: Knee high rainbow socks on a white person's legs, while the legs are toe-ing a pair of sneakers off. (Default)
From: [personal profile] sansets
*flails* This is beautiful! You just GET Don, so well. Thank you for sharing this!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-28 06:18 pm (UTC)
niqaeli: cat with arizona flag in the background (Default)
From: [personal profile] niqaeli
Thank you! I write for me but I live for feedback. This just sort of crawled into my brain at about 5:30am, so I wrote it.

I don't necessarily feel like I have the best grasp on Don at *all* yet but I'm flattered and pleased to hear that you think so. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-28 04:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] emmademarais.livejournal.com
This was just lovely. I *suck* at metaphors so I really appreciate when someone can pull them off in fic.

Kudos on this line summing up Charlie's entire life and and goal.

he's leaning into Don like a plant looking for sun

I hope you decide to write more Numb3rs and maybe more Supernatural. (Or Criminal Minds or Heroes or The Unit or Bones... What? Me greedy? Hehehe)

Thanks for sharing this.

-Emma

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-28 06:20 pm (UTC)
niqaeli: cat with arizona flag in the background (Default)
From: [personal profile] niqaeli
Oh, thank you! Metaphors seem to flow for me, maybe, I'm not sure. I've been writing so long it's hard to remember when I wasn't anymore. More Numb3rs and Supernatural seems.... likely. *eyes hard drive laughingly*

Thank you for commenting. It makes a girl's heart so happy.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-28 05:04 pm (UTC)
spikedluv: (Default)
From: [personal profile] spikedluv
Don tangles his hands into Charlie's short hair, bites at his kid brother's jaw, tears apart every good and clean and normal thing Charlie's built for himself, and it's everything he's ever wanted.

Loved this! Gritty and painful and lovely.

(Don quit the majors after a year and a half; when you get around to editing, that should be 'minors'.)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-28 06:24 pm (UTC)
niqaeli: cat with arizona flag in the background (Default)
From: [personal profile] niqaeli
I appreciate the kind words, ma'am. ^_^ It's hard to see them happy, really, if you look at this aspect of their relationship as being realised--but obsessed with each other and unable to turn away from their obsession, that's them both.

And, heh, thanks for pointing that out. I was seriously sleep-deprived at the point where I posted this. *laughs*

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-28 05:19 pm (UTC)
ext_924: (Default)
From: [identity profile] darthneko.livejournal.com
Oooh. I've only caught the show once or twice, but that was gorgeous. Sharp, clear, almost painfully visceral. yum!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-28 06:27 pm (UTC)
niqaeli: cat with arizona flag in the background (Default)
From: [personal profile] niqaeli
Hee! I am very glad you liked it. :)

The show has such a strong loving family dynamic and the brothers have such a fascinating relationship. They clearly love each other, have a surprisingly healthy relationship considering Charlie and the requirements of raising a genius kid, but it's so, so easy to glance through looking glass and see tje less healthy versions.

And, man, they actually *get the math right*. They only get the computer science a *little* wrong. They even get the FBI stuff mostly right! It's amazing.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-28 08:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] machineplay.livejournal.com
*brain break* That was really lovely. I adore that family and the dynamics. It's so much more complex than the mathematics. It's like an inside joke that the numbers are the important part.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-29 04:25 am (UTC)
niqaeli: cat with arizona flag in the background (Default)
From: [personal profile] niqaeli
Thank you. :) They are such a wonderful family! It's genuinely loving but it's not some picture perfect deal--they're flawed, they fight, they still love each other.

The mathematics are really important for me--the research they put into it and the law enforcement makes the show work for me. Without the numbers, there's nothing. But the show is all about the Eppes family.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-28 09:15 pm (UTC)
ext_2802: (Default)
From: [identity profile] echan.livejournal.com
*clicks the link but immediately skips to the bottom of the page*

I want to read this, I do, because I love those characters and their family intimicy, but gods if it has even the faintish wiff of slash these sweet innocent family moments at the end of each episode will be forever tainted. So please, is it safe for my brain to read, or should I stay far, far away?

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-29 03:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tamtrible.livejournal.com
It's... pretty slashy.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-29 04:19 am (UTC)
niqaeli: cat with arizona flag in the background (Default)
From: [personal profile] niqaeli
Oh, honey. You really don't want to read this, then. It's not explicit but... well. Yeah. Thing.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-05-04 11:54 pm (UTC)
ext_2802: (Default)
From: [identity profile] echan.livejournal.com
OH DEAR GODS WOMAN THE ATROCITIES.... I mean, slash, ok, but incest?! (Wait, you've done it before, Supernatural.) But really, they're so cute together! With their dad, and his dating Milly, and how dad wanted to move out but didn't and Don did move out but not really, and it's just so cute and INNOCENT! All these other comments from people who loooove it and have favorite lines, and, and, and, the wrongness eep! *sticks fingers in ears, shouts LALALA, and runs away. very, very far away*

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-29 12:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] callmeang.livejournal.com
This was stunning. Gorgeous, absolutely beautiful. God.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-29 04:26 am (UTC)
niqaeli: cat with arizona flag in the background (Default)
From: [personal profile] niqaeli
Oh, I'm flattered. :) I'm glad you thought so well of it!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-29 01:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neur0vanity.livejournal.com
tears apart every good and clean and normal thing Charlie's built for himself, and it's everything he's ever wanted.

I love this line so much.

Great piece of work. Thank you for writing this.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-29 04:37 am (UTC)
niqaeli: cat with arizona flag in the background (Default)
From: [personal profile] niqaeli
It's always lovely when people pick out their favourite lines, it's neat to find out what resonates with people.

Thank *you* for commenting!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-29 02:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] knotted-rose.livejournal.com
This was lovely. Thanks for sharing this!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-29 04:42 am (UTC)
niqaeli: cat with arizona flag in the background (Default)
From: [personal profile] niqaeli
*smiles* Thank you. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 09:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaredsexual.livejournal.com
jesus christ.

you reminded me why this fandom is so great. thank you, wow.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 09:36 pm (UTC)
niqaeli: cat with arizona flag in the background (Default)
From: [personal profile] niqaeli
Oh, wow, what a wonderful compliment! Thank you; I'm glad you liked this. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-05-01 01:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rubynye.livejournal.com
This is a distilled hit of Don/Charlie, smacking one in the face and burning beautifully all the way down.

Oooh.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-05-01 02:25 am (UTC)
niqaeli: cat with arizona flag in the background (Default)
From: [personal profile] niqaeli
Thank you! Gosh, people keep giving me such flattering feedback on this!

So glad you enjoyed it. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2008-04-14 12:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] boymommytotwo.livejournal.com

my biggest compliment is that i want to be _there_ - with them - watching them - _with_ them -

...please???

(no subject)

Date: 2008-04-17 11:12 am (UTC)
niqaeli: cat with arizona flag in the background (Default)
From: [personal profile] niqaeli
hi! thank you! i'm glad that you enjoyed this.

i'm always curious to know how people found my older fic, if you don't mind telling me. :) it's always great to hear from people on older stories.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-04-17 12:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] boymommytotwo.livejournal.com
my guess would be i was scanning old fic recs or maybe came across something you've recently written... if i read one thing i like, i tend to mine the author for everything... ;)

i've read too much fic to tell you exactly... sorry! keep writing!

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