He got the finger


Alan Epps looked up as Don handed him a cup of coffee and sat heavily in the chair next to him. Mindlessly, he took it and wondered again why it was that hospitals had such uncomfortable chairs for waiting. Just being here was bad enough, the chairs made it even worse.

"How exactly did this happen?" Alan asked, looking over at his older son.

"We wanted you to have a happy Father's Day," Don sighed.

"You wanted me to have a happy Father's Day? How does Charlie end up in the hospital looking at maybe having to have a finger amputated and a second that he may lose the use of because you two were trying to give me a happy Father's Day?" Alan goggled.

Don gave a derisive snort and looked away, "We thought we would get you a chocolate cake."

"You couldn't just buy me one?" Alan asked in surprise.

"We were going to, but then I got caught up in a case and forgot to order it," Don confessed.

Allan stared at Don. "There was not a single store in all of Los Angeles that had a chocolate cake?"

"Charlie was supposed to pick one up, but he had to go to that conference at the last minute and didn't get home until late last night, and by the time he remembered he was supposed to pick up a cake, he was home. He didn't want to go back out and there wasn't a mix at home, but he found all of the stuff for a homemade cake like mom used to make for you every year."

"Charlie was making a homemade cake?" Alan gasped. Charlie was not particularly domestic. He could cook if he had to, he and Alan took turns, but he never baked.

"I, ah, I kind of got after him for not telling me he hadn't been able to pick up the cake," Don confessed.

Alan put a fatherly hand on his son's arm. "Don, if Charlie hadn't wanted to make a cake, nothing you said or did would have gotten him to. This is NOT you fault. If anyone's at fault it's me, if I hadn't startled him ..."

"Aw, no, no, dad, you had no reason to think Charlie would be using the mixer. Charlie was off in one of his math zones, if you hadn't startled him out of it something else would have and he would have bumped the switch no matter what it was, it was an accident, these things happen."

"As smart as he is, you would think Charlie would have had enough sense to not have his hand near the mixer like that when he was using it, or about to," Alan shook his head.

"He had just finished attaching the beaters and was in the middle of lowering it into the bowl when his elbow hit the switch and turned it on, it was an accident, no one did anything wrong," Don explained.

"Yeah, accidents like this are probably why the newer beaters are press in's with separate beaters. I don't know why your mother loved that old Hamilton-Beach mixer," Alan sighed.

"Because it was Grandma's," Don reminded him.

"Hey guys," Charlie said weakly, as he entered the waiting room, two fingers on his left hand thickly wrapped.

"Hey, buddy," Don responded, getting up and clasping his brother on the shoulder

"What did the doctor say?" Alan asked, hugging his son.

"I was lucky, I'll get total use back of my pinky, and almost all the use of my ring finger," Charlie smiled tiredly

"Thank God!" Alan responded, meaning it from the heart.

Don didn't say anything, but the relief on his face spoke volumes.

"How are you doing, Dad?" Charlie asked.

"Me? I'm fine!" Alan insisted.

Charlie looked doubtful and turned to his brother.

"I caught him before he hit the floor; he was only out for a few seconds," Don assured him.

"I had no idea that you faint at the sight of blood," Charlie said, handing his prescriptions to Don, who had his hand out to take them. His heart and been in his throat when he had seen his father going down after one look at the gushing blood on his hand. Don, as usual, had taken charge. Charlie remembered almost nothing except being on the floor holding his hand and trying not to scream, while Don took care of their father and called 911.

"Thankfully, it's never come up before," Alan told them as the three men headed out of the hospital. "Kind of like my not liking chocolate cake."

Both of his sons stopped and stared at him. Their mother had made him a chocolate cake every year on Father's Day.

"Mom said it was your favorite," Charlie sputtered.

"Yeah, well, it's not, but somehow she thought it was and she always made such a big deal out of it that I never had the heart to tell her otherwise," Alan explained.

"In thirty-five years of being married you never told mom that you don't like chocolate cake?" Charlie smirked.

"I don't not like it, it's just not my favorite," Alan corrected.

"What is you're favorite cake?" Don asked, as Charlie asked what his favorite dessert was.

"Vanilla ice cream," Alan answered easily.

They looked at him in amazement.

"What? Vanilla ice cream is perfect, you can do anything with it," he told explained, looking from one startled face to the other.

"You take Charlie home, I'll follow you and get his prescriptions filled," Don offered, shaking his head.

"I'll see you when you get home," Alan agreed, herding Charlie towards the car. It was a sign of how tired and doped up the younger man was that he followed quietly. Charlie started to wave and hissed.

"You're sure you're going to be okay?" Don asked, coming home and finding his dad and brother in the living room.

"I'll be fine, but it's going to take a few months to recover completely," Charlie responded, his eyes closed against the pain.

"Here," Don handed Charlie his meds.

"It's a miracle that you weren't hurt worse!" Alan commented.

"That's what the doctors said," Charlie agreed.

"Why don't you turn in, you look like a zombie," Don commented, taking in his brother's pale skin and stress-lined face.

"Yeah. You don't look so good yourself," Charlie retorted

Alan looked over at his first born. Don did look more tired and careworn than usual.

"Let me know if you need anything, Charlie," Alan instructed, getting up to help if his son had trouble navigating the stairs.

Charlie nodded.

"Why don't you stay over?" Alan asked Don.

Don looked thoughtful, "That might be a good idea." If he drove home as tired as he was, he might not make it.

"Chuck, you're not supposed to take the pain meds on an empty stomach, so I got a little something for Father's Day," Don grinned, pulling out a half gallon of vanilla ice cream.

Alan stared at him, and Charlie chuckled, and then laughed outright.

"I wish I had known about the ice cream thing this morning," Charlie smirked.

"I still can't believe that you tried to bake me a cake," Alan responded. "And we are getting rid of that mixer!"

"Good idea, considering they had to cut the beaters off my fingers," Charlie replied.

"I'll take it with when I leave in the morning," Don told them.

Don took orders and returned with Charlie's chocolate toped ice cream, his dad's strawberry toped, and caramel on his own.

Alan looked at his boys, it was nice to have them both here, the three of them together as a family.

"You know, this was all I really wanted for Father's Day, but next year, let's skip the emergency room and go right to the ice cream," he suggested.

"Absolutely," Charlie agreed eating carefully to avoid moving his injured fingers.

"Oh, yeah," Don agreed.

"How did mom ever get the idea that you liked chocolate cake?" Charlie asked, yawning.

"Well, we hadn't been married long, and your mother didn't have much experience at baking," Alan began, and looking over saw that both his sons had nodded off. Quietly he got up, collected the bowls, and put an afghan over Charlie, and got a blanket out of the linen closet and settled it over Don. Thankfully, Charlie had taken his pain meds at the same time he started his ice cream. As Father's Days went, this one would be unforgettable.

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