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Numb3rs: Connect the dots 2/13 (Fanfiction)

CONNECT THE DOTS 2/13

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 1


2.



Colby sipped his coffee as he looked at the people around the conference table. As Megan leafed through their current case file, not actually seeing anything, David was sitting opposite Colby. Standing at the head of the table with his hands buried in his pants pockets, waiting for the rest of his team, was Agent Tom Hitchcock. The man was tall and slim, his years of experience showed in his intense brown eyes and the wrinkles etched into his forehead and around his mouth. When his agents, Sandra Balin, Simon Mirren and Tanja Singer had taken their seats at the table, Hitchcock started the briefing with news of Charlie, “Agent Eppes will join us later; his brother was in a car accident last night and is in the ICU.”

As Sandra and Tanja looked at each other in shock, Simon Mirren raised his blond eyebrows in surprise.

“How is he?” Agent Balin asked.

David cleared his throat. “As good as he can be. He was hit by a car while riding his bicycle home; has a few broken bones, got impaled with some glass. Their major concern is his head injuries though.”

Hitchcock sighed. “Whatever, we’ll have to continue our investigations without Dr. Eppes’ help.“ He sounded as if he was sorry about it, but Colby knew, that Hitchcock couldn’t stand Charlie - and his methods. Colby was the last one to admit that he hadn’t been sceptical concerning Charlie’s help at the beginning but now, he knew better. Since Don had asked Charlie to help them out on the case, Hitchcock was demeaning his contributions and Charlie himself. Meanwhile, the conflict wasn’t just between Charlie and Hitchcock anymore, but between Hitchcock and Don’s team, too.

Hitchcock’s team had tried to stay neutral at the beginning, but Sandra and Tanja had developed kind of a crush on Charlie and Simon, who was quite talented in math himself, was showing honest interest in Charlie’s work.

The fact that Hitchcock didn’t seem to be interested in Charlie’s wellbeing was irritating Colby. He concealed the feeling, concentrating instead on what Hitchcock was saying. “JM seems to know that we’re close to finding him. Our contacts on the drug scene told me that he parted with some of his dealers because he thinks that they were spying on him for us.“

“But we’ve got no concrete lead,“ David said.

Hitchcock shook his head and Tanja asked, “Why don’t we put surveillance on the rest areas Dr. Eppes found for us?“ She held up the file Colby had personally handed over to Charlie in his office a couple of days ago. It was a little thicker and Colby knew that Charlie had neatly printed out and added his calculations and results to the file, like he always did.

Nobody but Charlie understood the equations but the mathematician didn’t seem to give up hope that somebody was reading his contributions to the case files.

Tanja brushed a few strands of blond, shoulder-length hair behind her ears, obviously nervous about her boss’ reaction to her suggestion. “He gave them to me yesterday in the evening.“

That explained why Don’s team hadn’t seen them before now. They had been at a raid. A tip had led them to a warehouse in the industrial area Vernon but it had turned out to be a flop. Completely exhausted after a day that had started at three a.m. in the morning with a murder on one of JM’s dealers, Don’s team had driven home shortly before midnight to get some sleep while Hitchcock’s team was staying at the office.

Hitchcock grimaced. “We shouldn’t waste our time with something that won’t bring any results.“

David frowned. “I think we should. And Don will, too.“

“Well, Agent Eppes isn’t here,“ Hitchcock answered with a dangerous edge to his voice.

Megan nodded. “Right. But Charlie did help us out more than once. And he made the effort to find those rest areas. We should at least give it a go and see if something’s coming out of it. We have to start somewhere. Why don’t we start with the rest areas where JM sells his drugs to the dealers?“

Hitchcock crossed his arms. Then he nodded reluctantly. “Okay.“

***

When Don joined them at noon and sat down without a greeting to check his mailbox, Colby, David and Megan exchanged undecided and alerted looks. Finally, they decided mutely that Megan should talk to Don and, clearing her throat softly, she joined him in his cubicle. She leant against his desk. “Hey!“

He looked up briefly from the mail he was reading. “Hey!“ he answered. She could see how much the night at the hospital had exhausted him. To be called into the hospital in the middle of the night after a tiring day seemed to have drained his last reserves.

Otherwise, Don was rather robust.

“How’s Charlie doing?“ Her voice was gentle. It was her therapy voice, how Colby and David called it jokingly.

Don rubbed his forehead, his eyes pinned to the screen. “He’s hanging on. He’s still unconscious.“

“Shouldn’t you be with him?“ Megan asked.

“They won’t let us see him again until three p.m. He needs rest.“

Megan noticed the worried frown dug into his forehead. “You should go home and sleep for a while.“

“Megan,“ he said firmly, staring at her in determination, “I’m fine. Charlie will survive. The only thing …“ He took a breath. “The only thing worrying us is brain damage.“

Megan swallowed a wave of dismay. She’d grown fond of Charlie in the few weeks she knew him.

Not only because of his help with the cases but also because he was becoming a friend. From the very beginning, she’d seen that the relationship between the brothers was characterized by Don feeling responsible for Charlie. He was staring at the screen but he didn’t really see it. Maybe, he was seeing Charlie, pale and broken in a hospital bed. Charlie was Don’s weak link. No matter how badly they fought … Don’s loyalty and worry for his brother was indestructible.

“Don,“ Megan said gently, “you don’t need to be here. We can manage alone for a while. At least until Charlie’s awake.“

Don ignored her.

“You need to be there for your-“

“Megan!“ he said loud enough for Colby and David to raise their heads, “Don’t! I’m here!“ His eyes were warning her.

Megan nodded. “Okay.“

“Good,“ Don answered. He pulled his cell out of his pocket and glanced at the display. He tensed up and Megan decided to stay put.

“He called me,“ Don said. It didn’t sound like news to him, but like a fact he needed to repeat to himself to believe it.

Megan noticed a list of missed calls on Don’s display. “You didn’t notice them before?“ she asked in confusion.

Normally, Don was practically glued to his cell. “I … in the hospital, I didn’t want to deal with them.“ He stared at the cell. “Megan, he called me at three thirty a.m.“ He looked up at her. “The accident was at midnight.“

“Don,“ Megan said gently, “let me handle this.“

“I didn’t hear the cell. I left it in the living room. When the hospital called …“

“Give me the cell,“ Megan said, taking it from him, “I’m going to put in on speaker, okay?“ She didn’t get a response and took that as a nod. She put a hand on his shoulder while the other one was holding the cell. The first message began to play.

“Hey, Don, it’s me. I’m sure, you’re already asleep. I just thought I … listen, let me know if you’re okay. I hope the raid went well. Did you get the calculations? I left them with Agent Singer. Uh … well, speak to you, then.“

He hung up. Don massaged his forehead while the next message started.

“Hey, Don! It’s nearly midnight, now. I’m a bit worried because you don’t call me. I’m going home, now. Just call me, okay?“

Megan closed her eyes, swallowing while she listened the last message. Charlie was sounding confused and his gasping breathing was irregular.

“Don? I think I’m in trouble. Please … answer. Please …“

The message was finished. Furious, Don grabbed the cell from Megan’s hand. “Why did I leave my cell in the living room? I could have helped if I would have heard him calling me. I could have picked him up at CalSci.“

Megan knew that it wouldn’t suffice to tell Don that it wasn’t his fault. He always burdened himself.

“Don, you were exhausted, all of us were. I’m not surprised you didn’t hear the cell.“

Don rubbed his forehead. “The rest areas? Did we get the calculations?“

“Don-“

“The rest areas,“ he said firmly – almost pleadingly – and Megan sighed in defeat.

“Agent Singer already marked them on the map in the conference room. Charlie calculated eight possible market places. We’re currently watching them. Maybe we’ll catch one of the higher-up dealers.“

“Good,“ Don said.

“Colby, David and me are thinking that we should have Larry or Amita consulting for us.“

“Amita?“ Don asked. He laughed bitterly. “She can’t, Megan. She’s heartbroken. And I don’t think that Larry can focus, either.“

“But they’re the only ones who understand Charlie’s line of thinking. They should take a look at his link analysis. It’s important that we catch the dirty LAPD cops, Don. JM’s drugs are life threatening. We have to catch him and we have to find out who was protecting him.“

“I know the stakes,“ Don answered sharply. He got up. “But we shouldn’t burden Amita and Larry with it before Charlie’s awake and we can be sure, that he didn’t suffer brain damage, don’t you think?“ He left the office.

***

Alan wasn’t sure whether he should let Amita sit with Charlie. He knew that she and Charlie had finally decided to date. However, he also knew that their first date had ended in a disastrous evening which had led Charlie to question his feelings.

Amita relieved him of the decision by nodding at him and saying that she would stay with Larry in the waiting room. Alan was following the nurse the way he’d already gone in the far too early morning. Huntington Hospital's ICU was a reminder of an appendectomy, Charlie had endured years ago after ignoring the pain for too long. And it reminded him of his father who had died here.

Alan entered the room by passing by the nurse and rubbed his chin when he saw his son. Charlie was pale. He was resting as he’d been this morning when Alan and Don had been allowed to see him for a few minutes - his face turned towards the door. But Alan couldn’t help but think that his expression had changed.

He seemed to be more peaceful. But this couldn’t be. The doctor had told him that Charlie had regained consciousness for a short time after the operation in Recovery and that he was sleeping ever since. The trauma his body had gone through was too big.

Alan was glad that his son was still unaware as long as it meant that he wouldn’t have to endure the cutting pain his body was trying to manage and that was penetrating even through the pain medication. He went to the bed and sat on the chair. He didn’t have much time and he wanted to use ever minute he got. His hand brushed a few errant curls from Charlie’s forehead. Charlie’s left leg was plastered and resting on a cushion. Under the hospital gown, Alan could make out the bright white of bandages which were consolidating the broken ribs. The left hand was broken and covered in a plaster, the palms of both hands hidden beneath band-aids to cover up the cuts and abrasions. There was a band-aid above the right eye. Alan knew that another cut he couldn’t see had been sewn at the back of the head.

There where the fractured skull was, a band-aid barely concealed the suture at the hairline. Alan carefully took Charlie’s left hand, wanting contact with his son. Charlie frowned.

“Charlie?“ Alan asked, surprised.

“Dad,“ Charlie whispered, opening his eyes a little.

Alan pushed the call button. “Hello there. How are you feeling?“ he asked gently.

“Dad?“

“Yeah,“ Alan answered.

Charlie swallowed. “’at happened?“ he asked. He squinted.

The door opened and the nurse entered. “Mister Eppes?“

“He’s awake,“ Alan said.

She nodded. “I’ll call the doctor.“

Alan addressed Charlie. “You were in an accident.“

Charlie frowned as if he was trying to concentrate. “Dad … ’at happened?“

“You were in an accident,“ Alan repeated, trying to suppress panic spreading in his every limb. “Charlie, you rode your bike and … you were hit by a car.“

“Not right,“ Charlie muttered, looking around, “Dad …“

He coughed and Alan bent over him.

“It’s okay,“ he said.

Dr. Brody entered. “Hello, Dr. Eppes,“ he said with a warm smile, “how are you?“

Charlie stared at him in confusion. “Tired,“ he muttered finally.

“That’s alright,“ Brody said, “You went through a lot.“

Charlie closed his eyes. Brody checked the machines surrounding him. “Dr. Eppes?“ he asked. Charlie didn’t answer. Brody nodded. “He’s asleep. Don’t worry, that’s not unusual because we’re giving him strong medication.“

“He was confused,“ Alan voiced his worries.

“He’s feeling the after effects of the anaesthesia, Mr. Eppes, and his body’s recovering form a severe trauma.“ Brody smiled in assurance. “Believe me, he’s doing okay. Confusion’s something that’s to be expected after surgery.“

“What about the possible brain damage?“

“At this point we shouldn’t judge Charlie’s behaviour. In the afternoon, he’s going to get a bed in the Neurology. Give it time until this evening. Then we’ll worry.“

Chapter 3
Connect The Dots Masterlist