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Numb3rs: Puzzle Undone (Fanfiction)

Puzzle undone

Series: Eight ways Charlie and Ian got together … and one they didn’t 7/9 (Masterlist)
Word Count: 1.760
Summary: And here, in the middle of the night, under the starry sky of Los Angeles and in the backyard of his beautiful house with his perfect girlfriend waiting in their bed, Charlie broke.
Characters: Ian Edgerton, Charlie Eppes
Pairing: Charlie/Ian Edgerton, Charlie/Amita (hinted)
Rating: PG
Spoiler: Angel and Devils
Setting: after Angel and Devils
Warnings: Open ending. There's no real partner betrayal going on, but be aware of an unhappy ending for one of the couples, even though it's only hinted at.
Author's Note: I'm fond of open endings. I love 'em. This story has one, too. There won't be a sequel. But I'm planning a longer Ian/Charlie fic that will have all the works from the start of the relationship 'til the coming out and the reactions. Gimme some time and you'll get it sometime next summer. I find it very difficult to write a non-canon slash pairing with a canon het pairing thrown in. That's why, normally, I avoid the het pairing. I did in this story until now. But the episode didn't leave me another choice and I thought I should try it out. This is for the Rewatch Challenge on sniper_voodoo , like every other story in this verse. The episode was Angel and Demons. The titles from Christina Aguilera's Beautiful.
Feedback: Can’t breathe without it.
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.

Complete Fanfiction Masterlist
Eight ways Charlie and Ian got together and one they didn't Masterlist


After everything had calmed down, after Ian and Don had wrapped up the case and after Charlie had accompanied Amita to the nearest hospital, Ian somehow ended up at the Craftsman. He shared some beers with Don and joked with Alan about how insufferable his two sons could be, while Charlie and Amita arrived home and Charlie put her to bed to rest. Just after nine, Ian decided that he should head back to his hotel.

He left the bathroom on the upper floor, on his way down to say goodbye, and almost bumped into Charlie coming from what Ian assumed was his and Amita's room. ”Professor,” he whispered, not wanting to disturb the sleeping woman.

Charlie closed the door and smiled at him. ”Ian. I was thinking about grabbing a beer. Wanna join me?”

”Actually, I was just on my way out.”

Charlie's smile waned and he seemed disappointed, but Ian told himself that he was imagining it. Years ago, he'd admitted to himself that he had a crush a mile wide on Charlie, but there was no way Charlie could possibly return those feelings. He was with Amita and, and as far as Ian could tell, they were very happy. And he was happy for Charlie. There were many fish in the sea, as Ian's mom used to say.

Charlie looked back at the closed bedroom door, then he smiled tiredly at Ian. ”Oh, well, okay then. I'll walk you to your car.”

”Is she alright?” Ian asked as they descended the stairs.

”Exhausted and upset … but she'll be okay,” Charlie answered.

Ian shoved his hands in his jeans pockets. ”She's a strong woman – very smart, very brave.”

”That she is.”

”You're a lucky guy.”

Charlie grinned and Ian imagined that it looked forced. ”I guess so.”

They'd reached the door and, giving in to his subconscious that was screaming at him to spend more time with the other man, he held Charlie back from opening it. ”You know what … another beer sounds just fine.”


The night air was cool, but not overly so, and the deck chairs quite comfortable.

”Thank you,” Charlie said suddenly, breaking the silence. Ian looked at him. Charlie's face was half-hidden by the encroaching shadows from the garden. The light from inside the house was illuminating the other half of his face. He looked beautiful, but a bit sad.

Ian raised his eyebrows. ”What for?”

”Saving her.” He gulped down the last of his second beer, and Ian had the suspicion that he was a bit drunk. He hadn't eaten, preferring to stay with Amita who hadn't been hungry, and he'd been dead on his feet hours before they'd saved her. Add to that the emotional turmoil and the fact that Charlie was a light-weight – Don was very fond of stories involving Charlie and alcohol -, and it didn't surprise him.

Ian sipped his beer. He hadn't really drunken that much of it. He'd reached his limit with Don, and he still had to keep in mind that he had to drive to the hotel later. He would have left ten minutes ago, when Charlie had finished his first beer, but courtesy had forced him to stay. Courtesy and the nagging feeling that something wasn't quite right with Charlie. He was too calm and collected. Something was just waiting to break forth. And since Alan had Don had gone to bed, Ian felt responsible not to leave Charlie alone.

He said, ”It's my job.”

”Yeah … sure.” He looked at Ian. ”Thanks, though.”

”You're welcome. But it was no hardship really. You guys helped me out on some cases and I just wanted to return the favor.” He grinned. ”Besides … she's your girlfriend, Charlie. Girls like her are rare.”

”Oh, yes!” Charlie laughed. ”Rare. Who else would …,” he breathed in and closed his eyes before continuing, ”... put up with me?”

”You alright there?” Ian asked.

Charlie looked at him and in the dim light, his eyes looked black, vulnerable and huge. ”Yep … peachy.” He giggled helplessly.

Ian got up. ”I think it's time you joined Amita.” He helped Charlie up and winced when the beer bottle escaped Charlie's fingers and shattered on the edge of the deck chair.

Charlie looked down. ”Just perfect,” he sighed.

”Don't worry about it. I'll clean it up before I leave.” Ian slung one of his arms around Charlie's waist and steered him towards the house. ”C'mon. Up we go. Your girlfriend's waiting.”

”Stop calling her that,” Charlie said and pushed Ian away.

Ian stared at him, taken by surprise. ”Come again?”

Charlie looked just as shocked as Ian felt. He leaned against the wall. ”Oh, God,” he muttered and brushed a trembling hand through his hair.

”Charlie?” Ian asked, getting more worried by the minute. Charlie looked like he was going to be sick. Ian put a hand on his shoulder.

Charlie shook his head. ”No, my mistake. I'm … drunk.”


”A stupid thing to say,” Charlie whispered. ”She's my girlfriend.”

Ian frowned. ”Yeah,” he said. ”Are you two having problems? You always seem like such a perfect couple.”

”Made for each other,” Charlie said, staring into the darkness. ”The perfect couple. I'm always ...” He looked up at Ian and there were tears in his eyes. ”I'm always perfect, right?” He shook his head. ”I have to be.”

Ian couldn't shake the feeling that Charlie was having some kind of nervous breakdown. ”Look, I'll get Don-”

”No!” Charlie said, grabbing his arm. ”Don't get him. I'm alright.”

”You're not.”

”I'm not weak.”

”Asking for help doesn't imply weakness.”

”I can't be a disappointment.” He groaned. ”You aren't supposed to be here.” He pulled Ian closer. ”Don't tell anyone, yeah? You shouldn't have heard this.”

And here, in the middle of the night, under the starry sky of Los Angeles and in the backyard of his beautiful house with his perfect girlfriend waiting in their bed, Charlie broke. He slumped to the floor, his hands over his face and his knees pulled to his chest, and Ian crouched down next to him. ”Charlie, what's the matter?” He really, really wanted to know. Even though his thoughts about Charlie weren't brotherly at all – really, who could resist? - Ian had tried to be something like an older brother to him. The kind of older brother that was always on the road and rarely at home, but someone to confide in nonetheless.

Charlie leaned his head against the wall and turned it to look at Ian. ”It's complicated.”

”With you? That's a surprise,” Ian teased gently and couldn't stop himself from brushing an affectionate hand through Charlie's hair.

”I'm such a mess,” Charlie sobbed.

”You had a rough few days. Your … Amita was kidnapped and you've been running yourself ragged to find her. You're exhausted.”

”What if she had died?” Charlie asked. ”Oh, God! She would've never known ...” He closed his eyes and his head fell back against the wall.

”She didn't die.”

Charlie nodded. ”Yeah … you'd think that I'd change something now, right?”

”I'm not sure what you mean.”

Charlie looked at him. ”I don't wanna be with her.”

Ian was shocked. ”What? But you're so ...”

”Perfect?” Charlie asked and giggled sadly. ”Yeah, that's us. So perfect.” He wiped his eyes. ”I was always unsure about her, you know. Trying to get her, then withdrawing when I had the chance … but I kept holding on to her because my dad thought that she was so perfect for me.”

”I don't see where the problem is,” Ian answered, wanting to help but not knowing what was wrong in the first place.

”You,” Charlie answered.


Charlie nodded and just looked at him. Then he leaned forward and kissed Ian's lips – just a brush of lips, really, but Ian felt as if he couldn't breathe anymore. ”Charlie,” he whispered. ”What …?”

”It kept getting worse with ever case we solved together.”

So he hadn't imagined the looks in his direction, the blushing and awkward moments of silence whenever they'd been alone.

He asked, ”Nobody knows?”

”I wanted to tell someone but …” Charlie ducked his head. ”... I was busy with college and mom got cancer, and Don was angry at me … and it always wasn't the right time to tell them and then they kinda fell in love with the idea of Amita and me and … I couldn't … we were just back on track with Don getting closer to me again. I didn't want to mess it up.”

”Jesus!” Ian said. ”Charlie-”

”I know. Now, I really messed up.”

”You knew all this time.”

Charlie shrugged. ”Yeah, kinda … I suspected.” He smiled helplessly. ”You just made it that much more … unavoidable.”

”Nobody knows?”

”I think Larry does. Some of the things he said about Amita and me ...” Charlie shrugged.

Ian sat down next to him. ”You have to come out.”

”I can't.”

”Can you look at Amita and tell her that, 'yes 'til death do us part'? That's not fair to her or to you or to anyone else.” He lowered his voice. ”It's not fair to me.”

Charlie raised his head to look at him, and Ian kissed him gently. Charlie's eyes widened. ”So you're ...”

”Bisexual,” Ian nodded, ”and very much into you, Professor.”

Charlie blushed and ducked his head. ”What am I going to do?”

”I think you know,” Ian answered gently.

Charlie sighed deeply and nodded reluctantly. ”It's going to be hard.” Ian nodded. Charlie put his head in his hands. ”Amita will hate me. I can't blame her.”

”I don't think that she'll hate you. But she's gonna be hurt. She'll get over it eventually.” He smiled and took Charlie's hand in his. ”And I'm gonna be with you every step of the way.”

Charlie looked at him – a little sad. ”Okay.”


Complete Fanfiction Masterlist
Eight ways Charlie and Ian got together and one they didn't Masterlist

Icon created by mercilynn 


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 28th, 2010 02:30 pm (UTC)
Oh... I absolutely *loved* this one!!! Very well done!!

And I can't wait for your other Ian/Charlie story!

Keep it up hun, you're doing great :)
Dec. 29th, 2010 01:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)

I'm trying to work out the details for that other fic but it's hard to find a believable background plot. :) But I think I'm making progress.
Jan. 3rd, 2011 11:03 am (UTC)
I'm sorry I'm so late commenting on this. RL has been eating me for the last few months now. Just wanted to say this was really good. I got a little choked up towards the end. This is a great series and thank you for supporting sniper_voodoo with it.
Jan. 3rd, 2011 12:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )