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Numb3rs: "Show and Tell" [Mar. 10th, 2012|11:04 pm]
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This is not the story that I'm supposed to be posting next. (That fic is still in progress; it started going in a PWP + feelings direction, and I'm working out whether I should just let the story do what it wants or force a semblance of a plot onto it.) But when I opened this Numb3rs fic recently, I discovered that it was this close to being done; all it needed was a bit of editing and a title. So I edited and titled, and here it is.

Title: Show and Tell
Author: Jain
Characters: Don Eppes, Charlie Eppes, Alan Eppes
Rating: PG
Word count: 1200
Summary: It can be difficult having Charlie as a little brother.
Warning: Includes a teenager using the word "retarded" as an insult.
Permanent link: "Show and Tell" on AO3

It was a stupid risk to take, Don knew. But he needed it, and his mom might notice if he took a shower in the middle of the afternoon and ask what he'd been up to and then Don would die of embarrassment, and it would only take a few minutes.

He let his mind drift as he jerked himself, a flickering slideshow of images: stuff he'd seen, like the way Cathy Jorgensen's shirts strained across her breasts like she was a comic book heroine, and the careful glimpses he'd gotten of Alex Lee's butt when they were changing for gym at adjacent lockers, and other stuff that he'd only imagined.

"Don?" Charlie said, and Don's eyes snapped open to see his little brother standing in the middle of the room, watching him jerk off with a puzzled frown on his face.

"Shit!" he said, fumbling with the blankets. Charlie's eyes widened even further at the curse word, and Don suddenly hated him for being so young and stupid and Charlie. "What are you doing, just walking into my room and staring at me like that?" he demanded angrily. "Are you retarded?" Charlie flinched, his face crumpling, and Don abruptly shifted gears. "Just get out, right now, and don't ever come back in here."

"But Don--"

"Now!" Don said, pretending he was about to climb out of his bed and punch him, even as he cringed inwardly at the idea of losing the cover provided by his blankets.

Charlie whirled around and ran out the door, slamming it behind him.

After a long moment, Don flopped back on his bed with a sigh. He was going to have to make sure that this never ever happened again, but in the meantime... He was still most of the way hard, despite the shock of terror and nausea from being caught mid-jerk off. He slid a hand under the blankets and into the gap of his blue jeans, and if anyone else walked in on him in the next two minutes, he seriously was going to run away from home and never come back.

"Dad," Don said a couple hours later, feeling his heart thudding in his chest.

"Yeah?" Dad asked. He finished testing the apple cake with a knife and slid it back into the oven, then turned to face him.

"I, uh, I need a lock on my door."

Don had a carefully constructed list of arguments, none of which had anything to do with Charlie walking in on him when he'd had a hand on his dick, but his father didn't even ask for a single reason. Instead, he smiled a little at Don and said, "So I've heard."

Don's eyes widened as the implications of that sentence sank in, his previous nervousness washed away in a haze of mortification and fury. "He told you? I'm gonna kill him."

"Hey! Donny," Dad said, grabbing him by the arm just as Don was about to storm out of the room to teach his obnoxious little brother a lesson. He pulled out a kitchen chair and swung Don into it, and Don glowered but went without further fuss. "Charlie didn't do anything wrong, okay? He was confused and a little bit upset that you'd yelled at him for no reason--well, no reason that he could understand--and so he came to me. He didn't mean to invade your privacy; not when he walked in on you, and not when he told me what he saw. I don't want you punishing your brother for acting like a normal eight year old boy, you understand me?"

"Yeah," Don said sullenly, not bothering to disagree with Dad out loud. Still, if Charlie weren't so damned weird, he'd know better than to talk to anyone about what he'd seen.

Dad was still staring at him, as if he wasn't sure that Don really meant it, so Don forced his fists to unclench and laid his hands flat on the table. He couldn't do anything about his stupid blush or about the way his mouth kept twitching into a frown despite his best efforts, but Dad looked satisfied anyway.

"Okay, then," he said. "Tomorrow we can go to the hardware store and get you a sliding lock for your door."

"For real?" Don asked, startled.

His father gave him a complicated expression: sort of amused and proud and rueful, all at once. "You're obviously old enough to need one. I'm just sorry your mother and I didn't think of this before. We could have saved your brother a lot of trauma."

"Charlie isn't really..." Don said, feeling a cold shiver in his belly. They'd done a section on child abuse in his health class, and it wasn't like Don had done anything to Charlie on purpose, but he'd certainly given him an eyeful, and Charlie was only eight, and--

"No, no, of course not," Dad said quickly, cutting Don's spiraling guilt trip off in mid-flow. "That was a joke, Donny. Charlie's fine."

"Oh. Right," Don said, trying to play it cool.

Dad laughed a little and tousled Don's hair affectionately. "You're a good older brother, Donny."

"Uh, thanks," Don said. If Dad wanted to forget that Don had wanted to murder Charlie only five minutes earlier, Don certainly wasn't going to remind him. Just then, the oven timer beeped, and Don beat a hasty retreat while Dad was lunging for the oven mitts.

Don almost didn't hear the knock over the sound of the radio, but the quiet tap came again and he finally registered what he'd heard. "Come in," he called.

The door opened just wide enough for Charlie to peek around it. Don rolled his eyes at him; Charlie was so...so different. "What's up, squirt?"

Charlie didn't even protest the nickname, though his irritation showed in the flick of his eyes and the small purse of his mouth. "I'm sorry about earlier, I'll be more careful next time," he said, all in a rush. "And Dad says dinner's ready and you should wash your hands and come down to eat."

Don smiled despite himself. Charlie might be weird and annoying and kind of a brat, but he could still be an okay kid at times. "Don't worry about it," he said easily. "Water under the bridge."

"Yeah?" Charlie asked, staring at Don with a hopeful expression. When Don didn't take it back, he rushed him and gave him a hug. Don rolled his eyes again--not that Charlie could see him with his face tucked into the front of Don's shirt--and returned the hug for a few seconds.

Then he patted Charlie's back and said, "Okay, buddy. Dinnertime now."

Charlie raced for the stairs with as much enthusiasm as he'd used in tackling Don for the hug. Heartfelt apologies aside, Don knew that Charlie's promise to be careful probably wouldn't last longer than the next distracting math problem...which was to say, an hour past dinner if Don was lucky. His eyes flicked over to the light-grained wood of his door where he and Dad would install the lock the next day. Yeah, a little more privacy was definitely in order.

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