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Who We Are

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David sat up to the blaring of his building’s fire alarm. He jumped out of bed and pulled on pants as quick as he could, then grabbed his gun, badge, keys and phone from the bedside table. Then the sprinklers went off. David ran.

Outside his building, he watched as water poured from the front doors, what he didn’t see was fire or even smoke. The fire trucks arrived about the time someone figured out how to turn off the alarm. It took several more minutes to turn off the water. Long enough for every inch of his apartment building to be soaked.

The building manager told all the tenants milling around outside that an insurance adjuster would be around in the morning.

David shook the water off his phone and made a call.

“Hello?” a voice mumbled after several rings.

“Mr. Eppes, it’s David. I need some help.”

~

The front door to the Craftsmen opened and a towel was instantly placed around David’s shoulders and a cup of hot chocolate was pressed into his hands.

“Oh you poor thing, you’re soaked.”

“Thank you Mr. Eppes. I would have called Colby but he’s at Quantico this week.”

David found himself being quickly ushered up stairs to the guest room. “Now what happened?”

“I don’t know. Alarm and sprinklers just went off for no reason. The whole building’s soaked. I’m going to have to get everything replaced.”

“You have contents insurance, right?”

David sat down hard on the bed. “Yes, and my comics are in water tight containers but still...”

“Well stay here as long as you need.”

“It shouldn’t take too long to dry out, right? A couple of days?”

David felt his stomach drop as Alan slowly shook his head. “I’ve seen those kind of things happen before. They’re going to have to replace all the carpets, ceilings, and drywall. I can almost guarantee the electronics are fried. And anything they try to salvage is liable to grow toxic mold.”

David put his face into his hand. He didn’t need this. He liked his apartment. It was close to the office but not too close, and right around the corner from a great comic shop.

Alan sat down next to him and patted his shoulder. “It’ll be okay. We can go salvage your comics and your clothes in the morning.”

“I have work in the morning.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll call Donnie and make sure he gives you the day off.”

David smiled a little. He could only imagine that conversation. It didn’t matter that Don was a fully grown FBI agent leading one of the most bad ass teams in the Bureau; Alan was still the boss at the end of the day. “Thank you, Mr. Eppes.”

“You know, I think you can call me Alan. Now take a shower and get some sleep. Things will look better in the morning.”

~

The next morning Charlie didn’t seem surprised to see David sitting at his table eating breakfast. He just listened to David’s tale of woe then vanished into the garage. He figured Charlie must be in the middle of some big idea until a few hours later when he brought back the first load of wet belongings.

Charlie took a box of his books and papers and marched right into the garage. David found the chalkboards pushed aside and the garage strung with drying lines and fans set at angles for optimal air flow. Charlie carefully pinned up each sheet of paper and stood David’s books up on the air hockey table before turning it on.

David looked around at the fluttering paper. “This is brilliant, Charlie.”

“Well there are reasons I’m an applied mathematician. And I flooded my first apartment trying to settle a debate with Larry over plasma to partial conversion rates. So I know your pain.”

~

David was slightly amazed at how easily he fell into the routine of the Eppes household. Not that there really was a routine. It was more an improvisational, free form dance that never stopped. Days twisted around class schedules and cases. Nights could be early with everyone wandering off to bed or sometimes they would drag on ‘till dawn the discussion covering the great mysteries of the universe.

And yet after a few days David realized there was trouble in paradise. There were nearly silent hissed fights that would suddenly stop and every so often Amita and Charlie would look at each other in ways that didn’t feel right. Amita would go to bed early claiming early classes and Charlie would take a bottle of some flavor of alcohol and a fresh pack of chalk into the garage and not emerge until morning. If Alan or Don noticed this they said nothing.

~

It was four in the morning when David dragged himself into the house. It was dark and quiet but he expected that. Amita was at some computer conference and Alan was fishing and David was considering just looking for a new apartment rather than arguing with his insurance company any more over his old one.

He got to the top of the stairs with every intention of falling into bed when he noticed the light was on in Charlie’s room. The door was open a little and it sounded like one of those quiet, hissed fights was coming from the other side.

He approached carefully. There shouldn’t be anyone else in the house for Charlie to be fighting with.

David peaked through the slightly open door and promptly tried to order his feet to retreat but they were locked in place. Charlie was spread out naked on his bed furiously working his cock.

He tried to squeeze his eyes shut, tried to look away but he’d had a steady, low grade crush on Charlie since pretty much the moment they had met. Charlie, naked, playing with himself was straight out of a fantasy.

Though as David continued to watch his mind started to point out things that weren’t out of any fantasy. For one Charlie wasn’t hard. Not even close despite the frantic stroking. Then there were the tears squeezing their way from Charlie’s eyes and rolling down his face. And his words. “Please, god, please, fuck, please, please.” Charlie was begging.

Now David really didn’t know what to do. If he saw Charlie crying at any other point it would be an easy decision. Finally he saw something that made him move. Streaks of red were running along Charlie’s cock and spreading with each stroke. Charlie had managed to rub himself until he bled.

David rushed forward brushing aside some antique looking Playboys. “God, Charlie stop!”

Charlie’s eyes flew open and he let out a yelp but before he could do much more than that David grabbed a reasonably clean looking corner of the sheets and pressed it down into Charlie’s lap. “I’m sorry Charlie but as a fellow dude I can’t let you keep doing that.” He took Charlie’s right hand next and looked at it. The skin was red and raw but all the blood seemed to be transfer.

Charlie sat up but hadn’t said anything. There were thick dark rings under his eyes and his hair was limp around his face.

“Seriously, Charlie, what the hell are you doing?” Charlie tilted his head then let out a bark of manic laughter. “Okay, stupid question. Another stupid question, are you alright?”

Charlie laughed again and kept laughing curling in on himself. Then he began to cry. Great heaving sobs came out. David rubbed a hand along Charlie’s back in what he hopped was a soothing manner. He really wanted to check to see if Charlie had stopped bleeding but that would be a little awkward.

It took a good five minutes for Charlie to start to calm down. David used the time to have a firm discussion with himself about taking advantage of friends. “Okay, come on Charlie, tell me what’s wrong.” Charlie waved in the general direction of his lap. “You know, that happens to all guys, you get stress, tired...”

“For six months?” Charlie cut in.

“What?”

“Six months, David. I proposed to Amita six months ago and there’s been nothing.”

David couldn’t contemplate the idea of going six months without at least getting a little relief from the company of his own hand. “Nothing?”

“Nothing, nada, zilch, zip, zero. Nothing.”

“Have you been to a doctor?”

“Of course I’ve been to a doctor,” Charlie snapped. “I’ve been to doctors, specialists, shrinks, acupuncturists. Two months ago I drove to Nevada and gave considerable money to a professional. At the end of the night she gave me a 50% refund and a hug!”

David didn’t know what to say. Charlie was facing every guy’s worst nightmare and he couldn’t think of a thing to say. He just knew as a friend, if nothing else, he had to do whatever he could to help. He picked up one of the ancient Playboys.

Charlie shrugged. “Figured I’d try going back to the basics.”

“Where’d you even find these?”

“Don threw those at me when I was thirteen and told me to get the hell out of his room and never ask him a question about sex again.”

David dropped the Playboy. “So those girls were your first objects of lust?”

Charlie looked away with a little shrug. David was pretty sure they wouldn’t be having this conversation if it wasn’t four in the morning, but Charlie looked drained and half asleep. What ever defenses he had were probably gone. David had been heading for bed after a never ending stakeout and was more than a little exhausted himself. David pressed on. “They don’t seem like your type.” Charlie just made some little half chuckle of a noise. “Come on. First real crush, first person to rock your socks, make you want to fall in love?”

Charlie closed his eyes. “Jesse Presman,” Charlie said, his voice barely a whisper.

“Okay. Tell me about Jessie Presman.”

Charlie took a deep breath and looked David dead in the eye. “He was the star batter on Don’s baseball team in high school, he was nice to me, and he saved my life.”

A huge part of David psyche crowed with absolute joy. Charlie was gay or at least once long, long ago had, had a crush on a guy. A smaller but rather more annoying part of David’s brain pointed out that Charlie was engaged to an extraordinarily attractive woman and was still in the middle of a personal crisis and was probably waiting for David to judge. David kept his face neutral. “How’d he save your life?”

“End of freshman year a couple of guys were trying to take my books from me. We got into a tug of war and they let go. I went over sort of backwards and sideways right down a flight of stairs.” David winced but Charlie continued. “I must have hit the stairs just right. Two of my ribs broke, went right into my lung. I wanted to get up and run away, figured they’d be coming after me but Jesse was at the bottom of the stairs. He was already tall, shaving. He just held me down. Wouldn’t let me move. Even rode to the hospital with me. Don was home sick. If I had gotten up the ribs would have possibly rupture my pericardium. I wouldn’t have made it three steps.”

“You’re pretty lucky he was there, then?”

“Yeah.” There was a quiver in Charlie’s voice. He touched his chest and David noticed some old scars under the chest hair.

“Sounds like a guy worth liking.”

“Yeah,” Charlie said again softly his eyes fluttering shut. David took a quick peak down and there seemed to be the tiniest bit of movement under the bloody corner of sheet.

“When did you start crushing on him?” David asked carefully.

Charlie looked like he was falling asleep sitting up, almost half in a trance. “Just before I turned thirteen,” Charlie answered. “My brain started obsessing, every time I closed my eyes. Same dream. Over and over.”

David looked down, there was definitely strings happening. “What was the dream?”

Charlie swallowed hard, his eyes were still closed. “It was stupid.”

“Tell me,” David half whispered.

“After some game,” Charlie mumbled. “I’d have to go to the locker room for something. And he’d be sitting there.” Charlie swallowed hard again as the tears started back up. “He wouldn’t say anything, just touch my face, then pick me up, hold me against his chest while I touched him.”

David’s heart broke. It was all so horribly innocent in its way. It wasn’t even sex, not really, not at that age, just touching and being held by someone stronger, but Charlie was finally, after six months, erect and didn’t seem to be aware of that fact because he was too busy crying. David got the nasty feeling that he was, in fact, looking at a twenty year old identity crisis that was never dealt with. Or, if Don’s old Playboys were anything to go on, Charlie went to just the wrong person and got all the wrong kinds of advice.

David took a deep breath. Charlie obviously needed to get past this. He probably needed to talk to a professional but sometimes when you’re the guy in the room you’ve just got to wing it.

David reached out and laid a hand against Charlie’s cheek. Charlie leaned into it squeezing his eyes tight, his breath ragged and gasping. Then David pressed his free hand to Charlie’s chest. Charlie’s body jerked as if hit by an electric shock. David knew he should say something. He knew he should walk away and leave Charlie to just finish jerking off. He knew that he really shouldn’t do what he was about to do.

Charlie pressed his body hard into David’s hand. David kept one hand against Charlie’s cheek and the other hand he let slowly slide down. His fingers brushed Charlie’s cock through the sheet. Charlie’s eyes sprung open, his head jerked back, and he came.

David could feel his own hands shake and his own cock was pressing agonizingly against the inside of his jeans.

Charlie blinked a few times. David braced himself for Charlie’s loathing. He’d just taken advantage of a friend in emotional distress. Charlie blinked a few more times then launched himself forward. David opened his mouth to say something and found it instantly filled by Charlie’s tongue, and his arms filled with Charlie’s naked wriggling body.

David carefully pushed Charlie away kicking himself as he did. “Charlie, Charlie, we can’t.”

Charlie’s face collapsed. “I’m sorry,” He choked out. “I...” Charlie quickly crawled to the far side of his bed, wrapping the blanket around himself and curling into a ball. David could hear the sniffing. “I’m sorry,” Charlie said again. “I know you don’t...You’re not... you were just... I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

David went around the other side of the bed and sat down by Charlie. He carefully lifted Charlie’s chin so they were looking at each other. “Charlie, it’s okay, believe me, if the situation were different... you are very desirable.”

Charlie rolled his eyes, “Yeah, yeah, published with tenure, I’m a catch.”

David hit a whole new level of confused. “Charlie, you are gorgeous.”

Charlie snorted. “Thank you David, if I pull the other one do I get a prize?”

David tried to work out what people had been telling Charlie his whole life if he was unaware that he was a walking ball of sex. “Charlie, you are gorgeous. You are sex on two legs.”

“Wrong Eppes.”

“Nah, your brother’s just a slut in tight jeans.” A laugh burst through the tears that had yet to properly dry up. “Charlie, you are gorgeous, and sexy, and exciting and I’ve been wondering what kind of a kisser you are for damn near six years.”

“You’re being very nice, David.”

Nice? You think I’m faking it?” David took Charlie’s hand and put it down right on his hard on. Charlie’s eyes went wide but he didn’t pull his hand away, instead he rubbed along the fly of David’s jeans. David had to close his eyes. “I’ve wanted you for a long time, Charlie and believe me I want you now, but I’d never forgive myself if I took advantage of you and that’s what this would be. I’d much rather have you when you know what you want.” David removed Charlie’s hand before he lost complete control. “You have a lovely fiancée who’s going to be home tomorrow afternoon.”

Charlie squeezed his eyes shut. “Oh, God.”

“And I know you love her.”

“Yeah, I love her so much that six months after proposing I can apparently only get off by thinking about my male, high school, crush.”

David tried not to cringe. “Maybe you just needed a little jump start.”

Charlie gave a tiny sob that was loaded with more despair than David had encountered in a long time. “I can fix it,” Charlie said softly, talking more to himself than David. “I fixed it the first time. I love Amita, I can fix it again.”

David threw an extra heap of worry on top of the confusion. “What do you mean you fixed it?”

“Cold showers, a sharp compass point, mental discipline, Don was right, I’m enough of a freak as is, don’t need to give everyone another reason to kick my ass. I love Amita. I can make Dad proud, I can fix it again.”

David locked his jaw driving back nearly blinding rage. He and Don were going to have words, that much was certain, he only prayed that he’d have enough control to not just pull back and knock his boss on his ass.

“Don told you to fix it?” David asked carefully.

Charlie gave a twitch that might have been a shrug or a nod.

David lay his hand against Charlie’s cheek again. Charlie’s eyes closed again. “Charlie, I know you don’t believe in God or any greater concept but I do believe that you are exactly how you were meant to be. I do believe that there is nothing wrong with you, that there is no part of you that needs to be fixed. Don gave you some crap advice probably because he was young and an idiot and I am sure if you asked him now he would tell you to be true to who you are.”

‘And if he didn’t I’d shoot him.’

“What do I do, David?” Charlie whispered.

A hundred answers rushed through David’s head. Half of them involved him, Charlie and a tropical beach. David steadied himself. “Decide what you really want out of life, what will make you truly happy, then go get it.”

Charlie gave a sleepy nod.

“But first, you need to get some sleep.”

~

David shut the blinds in the conference room as Don leaned against the table.

“May I ask what it is you don’t want everyone to see?” Don asked.

“This is so no one will see if I decide to hit you,” David answered truthfully twisting the last blind shut.

Don straightened up but didn’t say anything. David opened a file folder and pulled out Don’s old Playboys. He tossed them on the table. “They’re yours, take them back.”

Don looked at them. “Where the hell did you find those?”

“Got them from Charlie, and you have no idea how much damage you’ve done with them.”

“David, if this is some kind of feminist lecture on the evils of pornography believe me my mother beat you to it a long time ago.”

“That’s good to know but this is about Jesse Presman and the fact that you need to apologize to Charlie.”

Don blinked a few times. “What the hell do you know about Jesse Presman?”

David could feel his hands balling into fists. “I know that Charlie came to you for advice. I know that you told him he was a freak and that he needed to fix himself, and that you threw some porn at him and left him confused and alone and you would not believe how bad you have screwed things up.”

Don stepped in close to David. “First off Jesse was 18 going 30. Chuck was twelve, he was jail bait. And secondly Chuck’s fine, he’s engaged to a hot genius and is going to have lots of little genius babies.”

“If Charlie’s so fine why did I spend an hour last night watching him cry himself to sleep?” Don went very still. “Every word you said that day, Don, he remembers and still believes. Every. Word. Twenty years ago he fixed himself because you told him to and now it’s ripping him up and the first thing he’s going to need to hear to even start repairing the damage is you taking back every word you said on the subject. Oh and try not to be too surprised when his engagement falls apart.”

Don took a half step back. “What do you know?”

“I know there’s big trouble in genius paradise and frankly if you haven’t seen it you should turn in your badge because those two have been miserable since the minute I walked through the door and I know it’s been going on a lot longer than that.”

~

David ran his fingers across the book shelf. Most of the books seemed to be family photo albums. David had finished up a little early and had gotten back to the house to find Alan home from his fishing trip and Charlie off picking up Amita from the airport.

Don had promised to talk to Charlie when they had a private moment but it had still taken most of the day for David to calm down. He’d spent the night with images of Charlie trying to fix himself in his head and it just wouldn’t stop bothering him. Colby hadn’t even asked.

“Looking for something?”

David whipped around. Alan had an amazing ability to sneak around the house without a sound.

“Just looking for Don’s old year book. Senior year.”

“Oh, I’m sure it’s here somewhere. Looking for incriminating photos of the boss?”

“Nah, Don was just bragging about some girl he used to date and we’re pretty sure he’s all talk.”

Alan chuckled, pulled a book from the shelf, and handed it to David. “Have fun.”

As soon as Alan was gone David flipped to the section with all the sports teams and found varsity baseball. There was a big picture of Don as team captain. David scanned the names at the bottom of the team photo. Jesse Presman, back row center. The biggest guy on the team he also stood out for being the only African American in the group.

David quickly thumbed through the senior pictures. By the looks of things Jesse was the only African American in Don and Charlie’s year. David wondered if perhaps Jesse had empathized with Charlie’s separation, a sense of otherness. David also wondered just who it was Charlie kissed last night. If it was really him or if for a second Charlie found Jesse in his bed and took his chance.

He slid the yearbook back on the shelf. It had been one hell of a kiss and David could not even begin to pretend that he didn’t want more. He wanted Charlie in a dozen ways. He desperately wanted to introduce Charlie to his own body. He had a theory that Charlie was sensual and tactile and probably starved for the touch of another man.

He took a deep breath. In the morning he would start looking for a new apartment. Charlie was most likely going to try to get things back on track with Amita and David knew that the last thing either he or Charlie would need would be to be living under the same roof.

David heard the hum of Charlie’s Prius then the slamming of car doors. A few seconds later the front door opened and Amita dragged in with Charlie hauling the luggage behind.

“Hey, Amita. How was the conference?”

Amita gave a quick, polite, smile. “It was great but I’m dead on my feet. I just want to go to bed.”

“It’s six in the evening.”

Amita started climbing the stairs. “Tell that to my body clock.”

Charlie followed Amita up the stairs only throwing a quick look over his shoulder at David. He didn’t smile. David decided to hit the net and start looking for a new apartment tonight.

~

David moved a pawn.

“How goes the apartment hunt?” Alan asked quickly moving a bishop.

“I’m looking at a place during lunch tomorrow,” David answered while studying the board. His chess game had improved slightly under Alan’s regular tutelage. He still lost every single game but not quite as quickly. Still Alan and Don had spent the night taking turns thrashing him. David reached for his knight.

“I wouldn’t,” Don said from the other side of the room.

“Don’t kibbitz. He needs to make his own mistakes.”

David moved his bishop.

Alan moved a rook. “Check mate.”

“Yeah, don’t move your bishop either.”

David groaned and began resetting the board. There was a sudden thump from upstairs. Everyone looked up. It had been three days since Amita got back from her conference and she and Charlie had gone to ground somehow managing to avoid the other people they shared a home with.

There was the sound of rapid steps and Charlie’s voice which became clear as he and Amita reached the stairs. Amita had a bag over her shoulder. Charlie was in his shorts and an undershirt.

“Please Amita, please.” Charlie was begging as he followed his fiancée down the steps. “Please, I can fix this, just give me a little time, please? I can fix it.” David could see the tears running down Charlie’s face. His heart managed to break and rage in the same moment. Don and Alan seemed frozen in place as the drama neared the front door. “I love you,” Charlie begged clinging to the back of Amita’s shirt. “I can fix this.”

Amita turned around and slipped off her ring, pressing it into Charlie’s hand. “Here,” she said softly. That got Alan and Don to their feet.

“What’s going on?” Alan asked quickly but was flatly ignored.

Charlie shook his head and tried to give the ring back. “No, Amita, please, give me a little time, I can fix things, really, I did it before, I can.”

“There’s nothing to fix, Charlie. I love you. I want you to be happy.”

“Then stay,” Charlie wailed. “I love you. You’re my best friend.”

David heard the tiniest hiss from Don.

‘I warned you.’ David thought.

Amita gave the ring back to Charlie again. “Figure out who you really are Charlie. Then decide if you really want me to have that.”

Before anyone could say anything else Amita took four long quick steps to the door and was gone.

“Charlie, what did you do?” Alan snapped.

David dug his nails into his palm trying to control the rather surprising urge to actually hit Alan.

Charlie’s legs went out from under him and he hit the hard wood floor. Amita’s ring fell from his hand and bounced away.

Don was the first one at Charlie’s side with Alan a step behind. “Hey, Buddy, it’s okay.”

Charlie pushed at his brother. “It’s not okay!” He screamed from the floor. “You told me to fix it!”

“Fix what, Charlie?” Alan asked.

Charlie went silent and began to shake. David had enough. He pushed past Alan and scooped Charlie right off the floor. Charlie didn’t fight as David carried him upstairs. Instead he clung on shaking as if with a fever. David tried to put Charlie into bed but Charlie wouldn’t let go. He really had no choice but to sit down rocking Charlie like a child.

Don came in quietly. David could see Alan lurking just outside the door. Don crouched down and gently touched his hand to Charlie’s head. Charlie flinched turning his face from his brother. He was crying into David chest. “Buddy, I’m sorry. I think I know what this is all about and I’m sorry, I am so sorry. I was young and a complete idiot and I never should have said what I said and I know it’s way too late to take it all back but I am sorry.” Charlie didn’t respond. Don looked up at David. David tipped his head a little towards the door. He would take care of Charlie tonight.

Don left shutting the door behind him.

David started running his fingers through Charlie’s hair in what he hoped was a soothing manner. Charlie’s tears were nearing hysterical levels and David just knew Charlie was going to make himself sick if he kept going. After several minutes of just making soothing, nonsense noises David felt his arms start to go to sleep. Charlie’s tears were calming down a little but they were still coming in waves. They’d start to settle then obviously some new distressing thought would crash into Charlie’s mind and they’d ramp back up again.

David lifted Charlie a bit and twisted him around so they were in a more comfortable position. He was holding out hope that maybe Charlie would cry himself to sleep because while David was sure he was the better person to be taking care of Charlie at that moment he still had no idea what to say to make him actually feel better.

Charlie’s tears were starting to settle again when David became aware of a localized heat.

‘No, no, no.’ David thought to himself. He could feel Charlie growing hard against him. ‘Don’t do that to the guy.’ David prayed as Charlie hiccupped, certainly unintentionally, driving himself against David. Charlie gasped through the sobs. His body jerked a second time. David closed his eyes and held on to Charlie tight. He knew he was screwed. If he pushed Charlie away it would only amplify the rejection he was feeling that night and if he let Charlie’s body do what it was trying to do it would undoubtedly only lead to greater self loathing on Charlie’s part.

Charlie’s body jerked again and again even as he wept.

“Shhhh. It’s okay, it’s okay,” David whispered. Charlie’s fingers dug desperately into him. “It’s okay.”

Charlie’s body obviously had little care as to what was going on in Charlie’s mind. Like a teenager Charlie slid his body against David’s until with a groan and a shudder he came.

“It’s okay,” David whispered one more time, Charlie sagging in his arms still weeping.

~

David was exhausted and he wasn’t sure if breakfast could get any more uncomfortable. He had held Charlie for several hours the night before. They hadn’t talked. They probably should have. Finally Charlie had passed out in what must have been pure exhaustion. David had stripped him, cleaned him up and tucked him into bed before finding his own bed where he failed to sleep.

“Would you like some more coffee?” Alan asked Charlie. No one had mentioned the events of the previous night.

“No, thank you,” Charlie replied politely. Charlie had come downstairs reasonably calm. He’d showered, shaved and was wearing one of his nicer suits. The shirt was even tucked in. David resisted the urge to tell him he looked nice. Not after what happened between them.

“You have class this morning?”

“Yes, Advanced Set Theory.”

“Ah.”

David was pretty sure if the conversation got any more stilted he would have to shoot something. “I’m looking at an apartment this afternoon,” he said. “You can finally get me out of your hair.”

“Well there’s no rush. It’s nice to have someone I can beat at chess.”

“Alan, you don’t beat me at chess, you slaughter me. You leave my pieces bloody and broken across the board.”

“You’re getting better.”

“Yeah, another twenty years I might be able to get you to a stale mate.”

David heard Charlie make a noise that just might have been a chuckle.

“I have to get to class,” Charlie announced.

“Okay, try to have a good day.”

Charlie nodded. He gave his father a kiss then briefly laid his hand on David’s shoulder and walked out.

David looked at Alan. “I’m sure Charlie will be fine,” Alan said. “For a brain full of logic he’s always been the emotional type.”

David wanted to argue but couldn’t without reveling thing’s that Charlie still wanted to keep secret.

~

David was pretty sure his day could not suck more. The ‘great’ apartment he went to look at turned out to be such a shit hole he was tempted to arrest the real estate agent for some sort of fraud. Then he and Colby had chased down a suspect right into a small lake of spilled oil. It didn’t show up too badly on his suit but he could feel it clinging to his skin and he needed a shower. Luckily the house was closer than the office.

David trudged upstairs, trying to avoid getting oil on anything. He pushed open the bathroom door. The first thing he saw was Charlie. The second thing he saw was the blood.