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Brute Force 4/14

Word Count: 45.068
Summary: Banks in L.A. are being robbed apparently at random. The robbers are always a step ahead of the FBI, until Charlie begins working on the case and becomes the gang’s new target.
Characters: Charlie Eppes, Don Eppes, Colby Granger, David Sinclair, Megan Reeves, Larry Fleinhardt, Amita Ramanujan, OCs
Pairing: Charlie/Amita (pre-Ship)
Rating: PG-13
Spoiler: None
Setting: Between seasons 1 and 2 - Megan and Colby are already there but they do not know Charlie yet
Warnings: Violence, verbal homophobia
Author's Note: This was actually my first Numb3rs story and was published a long time ago in Germany. I belatedly thought of translating it and here it is.
Feedback: Can’t breathe without it.
Beta: An-Jelly-Ca – thank you!
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.

Chapter Three
Brute Force Masterlist

***
***


4.


When Don entered his familial home, he always felt more comfortable than his own apartment. He’d told Charlie once that the base of his life was the FBI head office. What he hadn’t said was that his private life’s base was the big property which belonged to his brother now. When he’d moved back to L.A. from Albuquerque, he’d gotten used to eating three or four times a week there. After his mother’s death, it had been difficult to come to the home that held so many memories. But Don had done it because he knew it was what his father and Charlie, and maybe even he himself, needed. Over a year later, the pain of the loss had eased, but the comfort of being home remained. It was especially good when Don walked in to the smell of his father’s cooking.

When he arrived at the house he found that Alan, Larry, Amita, Charlie, and the baby he had seen a few days ago with his brother were present.

After dinner, Alan leaned over and brushed through Shanti’s dark curls. He said: “It’s nice to have children in the house again.”

Don rolled his brown eyes. “It’s not too late for Charlie and me, yet, Dad.”

Amita laughed.

Alan took Shanti from the high chair which he had found in the attic and sat her on his lap with an ease that came from raising two children. “But it could be too late for me soon. Whenever you want to come over with her, Amita, I’d be happy to babysit.”

Amita shrugged, a sad little smile gracing her lips. “My cousin will be back from India next week to pick her up. I’ve gotten so used to her being around.”

Charlie and Amita’s colleague Larry Fleinhardt set his elbows next to his plate on the table and crossed his fingers. Don compared him with Yoda. He was always quiet and prudent. Unless he was irritated. Then, he started to stutter, tending to nervous gestures which could be dangerous for everyone standing near him. Don would’ve never befriended a man like Larry.

But he was a friend of his brother - the only ally Charlie had in the early years of his academic career - and Don respected him for his loyalty to Charlie. And Larry had helped the FBI, on several cases as well.

Larry looked at Amita with thoughtful eyes now. “Do I hear a slight longing for children of your own there?”

Amita looked at him across the dining table. “Yeah,” she answered hesitantly. “I think so.” At Larry’s raised eyebrows, Amita hurried to add, “Not now, but maybe some time in the future.” She stroked Shanti’s cheek.

Don looked at Charlie who thoughtfully stared at Amita. He gave him a slight push to the side and Charlie turned to look at him. Don raised his eyebrows, nodding in Amita’s direction. Charlie shook his head. Don gave him a harder push. Charlie pushed back.

Alan interrupted them. “Boys.” He got up from the table and stared down at them. “And you claim to be adult men? Clear the table and do the dishes.” That said, he stalked out with Shanti on his arm into the living room. Amita followed him with an amused grin on her lips.

Larry shrugged. “I could help.”

Don shook his head. “No, that’s okay.”

Charlie nodded, getting up to clear the table. “Dad has punished us with the dishes since we learned to walk.” He cast a meaningful look at Don, as if a topic often discussed was now coming. “You’ll wash the dishes, I’ll dry them.”

Don was outraged. “No way. I’ll dry the dishes.”

Larry took this as a sign to follow the others to the living room.

***

Charlie won by drawing the longer straw. When he and Don had already done half the dishes, he looked at his brother curiously. “Is there any news from the surveillance teams?” Don would soon drive over to the Bank of America on Jefferson. Charlie preferred to stay at home this time. Instead, Megan would accompany Don.

“No. Nothing suspicious. Of course, they could’ve been there and we just didn’t see them because of the people passing by the bank during the day.”

Charlie nodded thoughtfully. “I’ve rechecked the math. It’s one of these three banks. Probably the Bank of America on Jefferson. You’re sure that they’re just taunting you?”

Don nodded. ”It’s nothing personal, Charlie.”

”Well, then it’s purely about the money. What do they need it for?”

“Greed,” Don answered.

“Illegal deals,” Charlie replied.

“A new life.”

“Weapons.”

Don drained the sink. “Whatever they need it for, they’ve got ten million already.”

“Will they even need more?”

“Let’s hope so,” Don answered and, when Charlie threw him a surprised glance, he explained: “Well, we don’t get them otherwise. Our only chance is a new robbery.”

Charlie crossed his arms. “Or the planning phase. Perhaps you’ll catch them while they’re scouting out the area.”

“Perhaps not,” Don answered. “We’re prepared to go in during a robbery.” Charlie nodded in understanding, his face worried. Despite the number of years that his brother had worked with the FBI, Charlie still had a hard time with the more violent aspect of Don’s job.

***

Don didn’t know why he was even still trying. ”No sandwich?” he asked, holding the plate in Charlie’s direction. Charlie cast a quick look at him, and then he shook his head, pulled the sleeve of his sweatshirt over his hand and wiped a sequence of numbers off the black board. A sponge lay unused on the upper edge of the board.

Don was doing his father a favour by being here in the garage. The rest wasn’t his problem; he had enough to worry about, but the angry words came anyway. “If you want to starve, it’s your problem, got it? But Dad feels absolutely rotten and I think you should show a little consideration. His wife died last week. Your mother, just in case you don’t remember her.”

Charlie stopped only briefly, and then he wrote on – the shock value of the words having no effect in the face of his math.

Don snorted in disgust, slamming the plate loudly down on the desk, pretending not to notice the way Charlie jumped. He kept on writing anyway, oblivious to the uncomfortably cool air and the untidy mess that surrounded him.

Don just didn’t get Charlie. He glanced at the screen of the laptop, the opened books and the innumerable papers on the desk. A piece of chalk was lying on one of the books and Don took it into his hand, played with it to calm down. He turned around to face his brother -- who kept writing numbers on the board -- and he wanted to strangle him.

“It may be that mom’s death means nothing to you. But to me, it does.” He stepped next to Charlie. “And to dad, too. And the only thing you’ve been interested in in the past three months is what? Numbers. Mom died and it’s more important to you ...” Don broke off, because Charlie didn’t seem to hear him. Don flung the chalk in his brother’s direction and when there still wasn’t any reaction, he grabbed Charlie’s collar and turned him around to face him. “You ungrateful, little jerk! She did everything for you! Absolutely everything! And you don’t even care.”

Charlie stared at him, as if he was seeing Don for the very first time. “I do,” he whispered.

“So, you’re in here, because these damn numbers are more important.”

“P versus NP,” Charlie answered softly.

“What?” Don asked.

“It’s P versus NP. An unsolvable problem.”

Don let Charlie go, who, surprised, stumbled back and fell to the floor.

“Unsolvable?” Don asked with a dangerous edge to his voice. “It’s unsolvable ... why the hell do you prefer it to mom or dad?” He heard the garage door opening and realized that his father must have heard their argument. “I don’t understand you.”

Alan’s voice was low, but firm. “Don.”

But Don was far too upset to stop now. “You’re dead to me.” He turned away, leaving the garage. The door slammed loudly behind him ...


… Don startled awake.

“Sorry,” Charlie mumbled, standing at the patio door, looking at him questioningly. “Why are you sleeping in the living room?”

Don supported his head in his hands and ran a hand through his brown hair. “I must have fallen asleep,” he mumbled. The TV screen was dark. “Dad must have shut off the TV.” He looked at his watch. “Nearly midnight. I've got to leave to take over surveillance from Colby and David. What were you doing in the garden?”

“Thinking,” Charlie answered. “Sometimes, fresh air helps.” Don nodded, rubbing his eyes. “Bad dream?” Charlie asked.

“Bad memory,” Don answered with a fake smile, getting up.

“Am I allowed to ask?” Charlie wanted to know, his expression concerned.

Don shook his head. “No. Not really.” The words seemed to hurt Charlie and Don looked to the floor. “I need to deal with it on my own.” He hadn’t thought of this argument in months. At least, Charlie had erased the numbers on the boards shortly after the argument and had returned to life. It took Alan months to convince Don to sit at the same table as Charlie again. And a couple of months more, before Don had asked Charlie’s help on a share deceit case. Since then, it was gradually getting better between them. The last year had been especially good. Now, Don knew that P versus NP was a stress reaction. Since the death of his mother, he’d seen Charlie in this condition one more time. But they’d never talked about it. Don had never apologized, either. Charlie had accepted his behaviour, as he always did with Don. He accepted everything, as long as he could be near to his brother in return. Charlie smiled at Don and then went upstairs. Don looked after him thoughtfully. Fact was that Charlie shouldn’t accept it.

***

David sipped at his coffee while Colby was looking for a new radio station. The car which the agents used for surveillance stood directly opposite the Bank of America on Jefferson. It had been very quiet until now. Nobody had been able to catch the robbers scouting out the area. There hadn’t been a new hit, either. The area was ready to be cut off at any time by the police. The night was clear and quiet. David noticed with a glance at his watch that Don and Megan would be there to relieve them, soon.

“You know, what I’m going to do?” Colby asked and David looked at him curiously. The two men had gotten to know each other very well during these surveillances and built a friendship which also went beyond work. “I’ll ask Amita out,” Colby said.

David shook his head, grinning. “She’s out of your league, man.”

“I’m into smart women.”

“Me too. But we’re not talking smart, Colby, we’re talking super-smart.”

Colby shrugged. “Doesn’t intimidate me.” He grinned at David. “You?”

David shook his head. “Just don’t do it.”

“Why?” Colby asked.

David sighed. “Because she’s, like, with someone,” he said.

“She’s got a boyfriend?“

“Not yet,” David answered. “Hopefully soon.”

Colby found a good station and leant back in his seat, thinking about David’s words. “Charlie?” he then asked doubtingly. David nodded. “You’re kidding me,” Colby added.

“I’ve been watching them for a year now … believe me, there’s sparkage. And not only on Charlie’s side. You don’t stand a chance.”

Colby sighed in defeat. “Damn.” Their chat was interrupted by a police siren. “What the hell --” Colby started and then got out of the car when several squad cars stopped in front of the bank, their tires screeching. The officers got out, entering the building with drawn weapons.

David had gotten out of the car, too. “What’s going on?” One of the officers – the unit’s leader – turned around to face them. “The silent alarm went off a few minutes ago.”

“What?” Colby asked , stunned. “We didn’t see anybody entering.” The officer raised his eyebrow, as if he was sure that the fault wasn’t his.

One of his officers came back out, running to his boss. “The safe’s been opened. The contents of at least ten safe deposit boxes are missing.” Colby and David stared at each other.

“Well, shit ,” Colby mumbled.


Chapter Five
Brute Force Masterlist

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