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CONNECT THE DOTS 12/13

Word Count: 28.450
Summary: While helping Don out with a case against the drug lord JM, Charlie gets hit by a car. When it’s becoming clear that the accident was in fact an attack, Don worries for Charlie’s life. A race against the clock begins, loyalties are questioned and Charlie has to fight his very own demons.
Pairing: Charlie/Amita (but only hints – canon pre-relationship)
Rating: PG
Spoiler: Sniper Zero, For better or worse
Disclaimer: I’m not making money with this fanfic. The tv-show Numb3rs and the characters appearing within it belong to their producers and creators. Any similarities to living or dead persons are purely coincidental and not intended.

Connect The Dots Masterlist
Chapter 11


12.



The heat clutching L.A. reached its high by noon. It was the hottest in the abysses between the skyscrapers in the city. Amita nodded her thanks at Agent Mirren when she left the car and got Charlie's laptop bag and her rucksack from the backseat. She entered the thankfully climated hospital. In the elevator, she opened her plait. She brushed through her long hair and checked her appearence via the frosted elevator doors before she got out on Charlie's floor. She entered the room after a brief knock. Charlie was sitting in his bed, David had taken a chair opposite him and between them, a chessboard was set up.

“Hey, Charlie!“ Amita said and he raised his head. His eyes seemed more attentive and awake then the last few days. David smiled at Amita and made his move. “Agent Mirren gave me a lift,“ Amita said and pulled a chair up to the bed before she unpacked and opened the laptop, “Don told me you're feeling better.“

Charlie shrugged and smiled faintly. “I'm better,“ he said, “I can go home tomorrow.“

“I thought you could take a look at those equations,“ Amita said, “I'm stuck. It's your work, so ...“ She handed Charlie the laptop who took it, clearly intrigued. “You were trying to find dirty cops in the LAPD and worked through a load of personal files. But the variables you'e using here are totally beyond me.“

David got up. “We'll finish the game later,“ he suggested.

Charlie shook his head. “No, no.“ He moved his knight and looked at the laptop screen, muttering, “Checkmate.“

“What?“ David looked at the board.

Charlie glanced at him shyly. “Well, I could have won three moves ago. I just thought ...“ He shrugged.

“Now I know what Alan was talking about,“ David sighed and smiled at Charlie before taking his chair in the room's corner.

Charlie stared at the equations. “Hm.“

Amita watched his eyes skimming the formulas and smiled. She loved this part of Charlie. So focused, analytical and in his own little world. “I'm getting nothing,“ he said after a while. “I need the sources I was using.“

“We don't have those.“ Amita looked at David. “We think that you had them with you when the accident happened and that they were stolen.“

“Where are they, huh?“

Charlie closed his eyes and banned the memory. “Yeah,“ he said, “Somebody took something out of my rucksack.“

David got up. “You remember?“

“Not really,“ Charlie answered, “Just that there were two people and that they took something.“

“Charlie,“ Amita said, “you must have known who the mole was. Or at least you must have had a reasonable suspicion.“

“I don't remember,“ Charlie answered.

He sat up and stared dumbly at the huge shard of glass embedded in his flank. For a second, he didn't understand what it was that he was seeing, but then he gasped. “Oh God,“ he mumbled. Nausea was starting to set in. A strong hand grabbed his jacket while the other yanked his helmet from its place.

“No, what ...“ Charlie heard steps coming closer and raised his head. Somebody was coming towards them with a baseball bat in his hand. A flashlight was lit and he closed his eyes against the bright light.

The man let go of him. “Give it to me. I'm doing it.“

Charlie didn't wait any longer. He stumbled to his feet and tried to run but the man was faster. The bat hit Charlie's waist and he cried out and stumbled to the ground. The shard in his chest was shoved deeper into his body and he coughed when the ability to feel pain returned, taking his breath. The next hit targeted his left leg and Charlie lost consciousness when he felt a bone shift and break. He came to just a few seconds later when the man stopped next to him.

“Tell me why“, Charlie gasped, “We trusted you.“ Charlie didn't even feel the next hit against his head.


“Charlie,“ Amita said in alarm and he opened his eyes. He must have lost time because David wasn't sitting in his chair anymore but perched next to him on the bed. Both of them seemed to be worried.

“Hey, are you okay?“

Charlie shook his head. “They were trying to kill me,“ he said softly.

“Who?“ Amita asked and Charlie shook his head.

“I don't know.“ He looked at the equations. “But I did.“

***

Don rubbed his tired eyes and sighed deeply. It was already late afternoon but time hardly played a role for the FBI. Less agents were present but telephones were still ringing non-stop and half of the desks were occupied. Agent Hitchcock stopped next to Don's desk and crossed his arms. “Nothing,“ he said. Don looked up at him. Hitchcock pulled a chair close and dropped into it. His face was tense and his eyes tired. All of them were slowly reaching their limits. “Freddy and Kirk won’t talk. Their lawyers are just as uncooperative. And when I told them about the attack they didn’t even blink an eye.“

“JM’s people,“ Don answered and Hitchcock nodded.

“Yeah. They don’t talk much,“ he answered.

“Except for Officer McTroy,“ Don answered.

Hitchcock laughed. “You want to know what I think? JM bribed McTroy to confess. McTroy will go to jail and as soon as he’s free he’s going to find a nice bundle of dollar notes in some locker somewhere in the city.“ He shrugged. “JM takes care of his own.“

Don snorted. “Why should he tell somebody to confess?“

Hitchcock shrugged. “JM loves the thrill of playing with us, Eppes. He did from the very start.“

Don cleared his throat. “Charlie’s well enough to get back to his calculations. He’s already on it. Nothing yet but I know that he’ll find something.“

“Your brother’s the only witness we have, Eppes. If he remembers the two attacking him …“

“I know,“ Don answered, “But he’s still struggling.“

Hitchcock sighed. “They will let him out tomorrow?“

Don nodded.

“Will you keep an agent on him?“

“24/7,“ Don nodded.

“Better that way,“ Hitchcock answered, “I don’t think JM wanted him to survive. And he’s the kind of guy who gets what he wants.“

***

When Don drove up to the hospital in the evening, Alan was already standing on the sidewalk, waiting. His father climbed into the car and fastened his seatbelt while Don was filtering into the traffic again. “Hey, dad!“ he said a little too late and Alan smiled at him. “How’s Charlie?“

“He’s frustrated,“ Alan answered and glanced at Don sceptically, “He’s been running those numbers ever since Amita gave them to him – the numbers for your case.“

Don nodded. “I know.“

“I don’t like it.“

Don frowned. “Why not, dad?“

“Because he didn’t stop working ever since he got them. And he isn’t getting anywhere. Don, you know how he can be.“

“He’s getting nowhere?“ Don asked with a hint of disappointment.

“Not the point,“ Alan answered in irritation, “Charlie’s hurt and I don’t want him to overwork himself.“

Don sighed, irritated as well. He and his father had had this discussion before. Sometimes, Don had the feeling that Alan didn't trust him to look out for his little brother. “Dad, Charlie can decide for himself when he wants to stop working. He’s not the same man he was a few years ago.“

“That’s where you’re wrong, Don, he is.“

Don stopped at a red light and looked at his father.

“He’s trying to impress you, Donnie, that’s why he’s so obsessed with the case.“

“Damn,“ Don muttered in frustration, “I thought we had moved beyond that.“

He grabbed his cell phone, but Alan said, “He’s asleep. Work tired him out. Colby promised me to not let him get back to it until tomorrow morning.“

Don nodded his agreement.

Alan and he were silent for the next minutes. But finally, Alan broke the silence. “How close are you, Donnie?“

He didn't have to ask what his father was talking about. It was clear that Alan was worried because of JM and because of the fact that Charlie's accident hadn't been one. Primarily, because Charlie's attacker was still out there and presumably already planning his next move. He sighed deeply. “Not close enough.“

***

“Give it to me. I'm doing it.“

Charlie didn't wait any longer. He stumbled to his feet and tried to run but the man was faster. The bat hit Charlie's waist and he cried out and stumbled to the ground. The shard in his flank was shoved deeper into his body and he coughed when the ability to feel pain returned, taking his breath.


“Charlie,“ a woman said and he opened his eyes. He was confused for a moment because not the neutral, white ceiling of the hospital room was stretching above him but dark wood. His right hand found leather under his body and he turned his head. Amita was sitting on the coffee table and looking at him in concern. “You were having a nightmare,“ she said. Charlie's eyes chased through the familiar living room of his parental home and he sighed, becoming calm. He was lying on the couch under the window and the sun was warming his body. Noises could be heard in the kitchen and conversation shreds penetrated through to the living room. David and his father. “Are you okay?“ Amita asked worriedly.

He nodded slowly. “Yeah.“ But he wasn't sure of that. He suppressed his frustration about his left hand still being in a cast and pushed himself up with his right hand.

“Where are you going?“ Amita asked.

“Garage,“ he answered instinctively. He wanted to work on the case. But something wasn't right and he frowned. “The solarium,“ he answered anew, insecure. He hadn't worked in the garage since he'd come back from Princeton. The winter garden offered much more light. Or had he moved back into the garage?

Amita's dark eyes were showing something akin to sadness. “No, you’re always working in the garage,“ she answered.

“Why?“ he asked.

“Space issues,“ she answered. Charlie sighed and wanted to get up but Amita gently forced him to lie back. “You have to rest.“

“I can’t sleep anymore.“ Charlie was always having nightmares as of late.

“Rest,“ Amita said. She smiled.

“Are you really sure?“ Amita asked softly.

Charlie rubbed his forehead and propped his arms up on his desk. “We talked about it. We were seeing eye to eye.“

“We aren’t compatible,“ Amita said slowly. Charlie looked up at her and shrugged sadly. Amita seemed deeply hurt. But she disguised it with a smile. “Okay.“


Charlie wondered if there was anyone he hadn't hurt. According to his fragmentary memories, his father and his brother had a reason to be furious with him and now Amita obviously had, too. She was still sitting beside him and gave him a smile. Instinctively he straightened up again and kissed her. “Sorry,“ he said softly. Amita looked at him, surprised, and from such a proximity, Charlie noticed for the first time how dark her eyes were. And he was sure that he was in love with her. “Whatever I did-“

“Nothing,“ Amita interrupted him and put a hand on the back of his neck. “Nothing, Charlie,“ she shook her head. She sighed. “It was just … a bad date. Okay? Nothing more.“

He looked at Amita undecidedly over the dessert and she looked back. She made to say to something, however, she stopped herself.

“Oh!“ Charlie said when the memory of that evening took its place in his mind.

“But we talked about it,“ Amita said.

Charlie frowned. “You didn’t go to Harvard because of me.“

“No,“ she answered, “Charlie, I’m not denying myself an opportunity because of a man. Sorry.“ She smiled. “CalSci made a better offer.“ She brushed his hair out of his forehead. “That doesn’t mean that you weren’t a big factor.“

He cleared his throat. “So …“ He avoided her eyes. “No dates.“

Amita shook her head. “No. Not at the moment.“

He laid back down and sighed deeply.

***

Beta 13 48 Omega 83.

Amita squinted her eyes and sighed. The longer she stared at the letters and numbers, the less sense they made. But they had to mean something. Charlie rarely said things that didn't matter. Larry sat down beside her and put a cup of coffee on the the conference table in front of her. “Maybe it's a code.“

Amita frowned and rasied her head to meet Larry's eyes. “What for?“

Larry sighed. “I've known Charles for a very long time now. He's not looking at the world like we do. Maybe it's a name.“

“It's not a code I know. You don't, either. We already tried that.“ She was at a loss. “But it means something.”

“Without a doubt,“ Larry answered. “But maybe,“ and he pulled over a mountain of files, “we should focus on the corruption.“

***

He checked whether his weapon was loaded and looked out the windshield of his car into the parking lot of the FBI building. Apart from him, nobody was down here. When the disposable cell on his passenger seat started to ring, he grabbed it hastily. “I was just going to drive over there.“

JM sounded satisfied. “Just get rid of him as soon as possible.“

“I will, but his brother could be a problem.“

“Distract him,“ JM answered and ended the call.

He sighed and dialled a number on the cell before he put one hand on the steering wheel while the other was holding the cell to his ear. When a click sounded, he just said, “Distract Eppes for the next hour or so. He can’t go home. I’m driving over there to kill his brother.“

The answer caused him to frown in irritation. “I don’t give a damn how you’re doing it. Just remember that I’m not the only one the professor could identify.“ He disconnected the call and started his car.

Chapter 13
Connect The Dots Masterlist