?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Brute Force 5/14

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 Four
Brute Force Masterlist

***
***


5.


“How did this happen?” Don asked furiously, looking round in the safe in which the safe deposit boxes of the bank were situated. Some were open - torn out of the hinges by pure force - their values had disappeared, worthless things like papers lying scattered on the ground. Money was also missing - one million. Colby crossed his arms, looking guilty, while David was shoving his hands into his trouser pockets. Forensics was looking for finger prints on the boxes, while Megan was standing next to Don, her hands in her trouser pockets.

David sighed. “We didn’t see anybody.”

A young woman dressed in a LAPD jacket stepped up to the three agents. “Agent Eppes, I’m Charlene Walters from Forensics. We know how they got in.” Don looked at her curiously. “There’s an entryway to the basement of the house next to this in the cellar. I think the two properties were once one. The lock’s broken. They went through the basement of the neighbours into a backstreet and from there; they took to the city’s sewerage system.”

Don rubbed his forehead. A headache was making itself known. “They got away under the streets?”

The young woman nodded. “Yes.”

Don sighed. “Great.” He turned to Colby. “Call the roadblocks. Tell them what we know. They need to search the area’s sewerage system.” Colby nodded and left. “But I think we’re already too late,” Don added.

David nodded in consent. “They’re already home by now.”

Don shook his head. “Laughing at us.”

David couldn’t suppress a sarcastic smile. “Looks like Heisenberg kicked our asses on this one.”

“What?” Don asked, puzzled.

“Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle,” David answered as if he’d written a thesis on the subject. “Watch an object and it changes its behaviour. Charlie explained it to us, remember?” Don looked at him as if David had grown a second head. “Hey,” David said, “I listen to Charlie. He’s almost always right.”

Don cleared his throat, before turning back to Charlene. “Are you sure they escaped via the sewerage system?”

Charlene nodded. “The access was used recently and … we found a few bucks down there.” She held up five evidence bags in which she’d packed the bills. “I think those guys left them behind on purpose. Check it out.” She gave one of the bags to Don. Again, a message was scribbled on the bill. Don shuddered, as he read it.

You’re cheating, Agent Eppes. I thought you’d be clever enough to get me on your own. Does your little brother always solve your cases?

***

“I’ve spoken to no one about the case,” Charlie promised, looking at Don insistently. “I swear.” His brother ran an agitated hand through his dark hair, turning away from Charlie. His gaze wandered through the chaotic office to Larry and Amita who were sitting on two chairs, following the conversation. Amita had put the sleeping Shanti into her buggy and frowned thoughtfully.

Don sighed, trying to let the concern over the assumption go, which had driven him here. “You sure?” he repeated his question.

Charlie nodded. “Except of course Amita and Larry.”

Larry spoke up. “And we didn’t tell anyone, either.”

He seemed almost insulted at Don’s assumption that he and Amita would tell anyone what they did for the FBI. Don shook his head, massaging his neck with a hand. “Well -- how do they know that you’re helping, then?” he asked.

Charlie shrugged. “Maybe they’ve seen us together and researched.”

“Data about our agents and our civilian consultants are safe.”

Charlie raised his eyebrows. “Alarm codes for bank entrance doors are, too … the robbers have got a hacker in their midst, don’t forget that.”

Amita nodded in affirmation. “A genius.”

As if that would help Don’s agitation … he shook his head. “No one hacks into the FBI. Never happens.”

A smile twitched on Larry’s lips. “Don’t say that. The word ‘never’ is overestimated.”

Amita got up. “I need to go bring Shanti home. We visit her toddler group in the afternoon and I’ve got to bathe her.”

The three men said goodbye and then Don turned back to his brother. “I’ll be honest, Charlie, the message worries me. I’d like to assign an agent to you.”

Charlie shook his head vehemently. He hated it when Don thought that he needed a babysitter. “That’s not necessary. Don, you told me yourself, they just want to challenge you.” He looked at his watch and gasped in surprise. “Damn it, I’m already too late.” He collected his papers and shoved them in his bag. “Don’t worry about me, okay?” He searched for and found his keys. “I’ll tell you tonight where they’ll hit next. Come over and we’ll talk about it.” With that, he left. Don rubbed his forehead, wishing for aspirin.

Larry was supporting his head on a hand, looking thoughtfully at Don. “Do you think that Charles is in danger?”

Don shrugged. “I don’t know. Megan says that they just want to get to me, too. They think they’re invincible.”

Larry sighed in sympathy. “How foolish.”

***

Connor pressed himself against the wall of the corridor in CalSci, pretending to read the book in his hands, while the two brothers were going past him. Connor glanced at them. The agent seemed very watchful, while his brother was focused on some papers. The big bag that hung around his shoulders didn’t seem to hinder his progress, though it seemed to be quite heavy.

“You sure?” the agent was asking.

The professor nodded. “Absolutely. I’ve calculated everything twice and did …” They disappeared around the corner. Connor was tempted to follow them, but he snapped the book shut, going in the direction the two had come from, instead. He stopped in front of a door. Charlie’s name was resplendent on the glass, under this a piece of paper was taped with office hours. Connor looked round. He saw nobody. Most professors and students had probably already gone home.

He fetched his lock picks from the bag and briefly tested whether the door was locked before he broke in. He closed the door, left the lights out, only switching on a small flashlight instead while he was looking around at the chaos. “Jesus Christ,” he muttered. “What is it with geniuses and disorder?” Kenny was just as sloppy. It had driven Connor mad while they’d shared a cell in prison.

After hesitating for a moment, looking around some more, Connor approached the black board on which there were hastily written numbers and some complex calculus. “Hm,” Connor mumbled, illuminating the names on the edge of the board next to the equations. Names of banks. Ten altogether, the topmost three framed. Connor concentrated on the first name. “Bank of America, Pasadena,” he muttered. “Unbelievable.” That was their next target. The one, they were going to hit tonight. They planned the robberies irregularly, so they wouldn’t become predictable and therefore, they wanted to hit today after yesterday’s attack. It looked as if they were predictable anyway. Now, that Connor knew, they could prepare themselves for the feds. Maybe, tonight was the last hit. Because maybe Charlie Eppes could help them to get even more money than they’d ever be able to rob.

***

“It’s very courageous to do the robbery here,” Don said, looking for a parking space in the quiet neighbourhood surrounding Wilson Avenue where the smallest Bank of America branch was situated. “There aren’t many people around. Not as many as in the city. The neighbours would recognize strangers scouting out the area immediately.” Charlie only glanced briefly around, and then refocused on his laptop. “So, a neighbourhood like this one – it has to have minus points in your calculation, right?” Don asked.

Charlie nodded. “Yeah. But this is the most probable next target, either way.” Don stopped across from the bank and cut the engine. Some small shops lined the street next to the branch office, the residential buildings lying peacefully in the dark and in direct proximity. The stores were closed; nobody was out - not even teenagers. This neighbourhood was mostly populated by senior citizens and young families.

The street lamps were illuminating the sidewalks. “All right,” Don said, watching David and Colby leave their parking space and drive off. Don’s cell rang. He knew that it could only be one of the other two agents. They always called each other after the change of shifts.

“We’ve seen nothing,” David said. “The bakery was supplied, but that was it.”

“Tell Megan,” Don answered. She shared the shifts in the FBI head office with another agent, passing information on and supervising the teams.

David sounded clearly confused. “Because a bakery in Pasadena received some flour?”

“Well, we’re desperate,” Don answered. He ended the call. Charlie had snapped the laptop shut and leant back in the car seat. Don looked at him. “So, why did you want to come with me? I thought you found it so boring the last time.”

Charlie shrugged. “Just couldn’t sleep.”

Don laughed, turning around to root around in the back seat. He was looking for the sandwiches their father had wrapped up for them. “So you’d rather be sitting in a cold car in the middle of the night watching an empty street?”

“And that delivery to the bakery,” Charlie answered. “Those shops are practically open twenty-four hours a day, Don. At night, they bake and -“

“Shh!” Don hissed, looking through the windshield over to the white van which was parked a couple of feet away from them in front of the bakery. He reached for his cell.

Charlie noticed that Don was getting excited. “What’s going on?”

He didn’t know why he was even whispering, but Don answered just as quietly. “The bakery’s already been supplied.” David answered. “They’re here,” Don said.

His colleague was stunned. “What?”

“Just arrived,” Don answered.

“Call in reinforcements, Don, we’re turning …”

The connection broke up. “David?” Don asked. He looked at his display; however, he couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary. “David?”

“What’s up?” Charlie asked.

“The connection broke up.” Don reached for the radio equipment, pressing the send button; however, the loud white noise stopped him from trying. Charlie looked at him questioningly. “Dead,” Don mumbled. He watched four men walking towards the bank, carrying bags. “They’re disturbing the radio. That’s easy. Just a few interferences and … but how do they disturb my cell?”

Charlie swallowed, nervous. “I think they used a portable cell jammer to disturb the signal.”

The four men gathered around the control panel at the door where employees had to enter the code to get into the bank outside the opening hours. They needed just a couple of seconds, and then the doors opened. “Shit. They’re in,” Don said, getting out of the car. In that moment, Colby stopped beside them and David jumped out of the car. They had to have turned around immediately to be back so soon. Don put his useless cell in his pocket. David waited until his supervisor stood beside the car.

“Sorry, there’s something wrong with my cell.”

“Yeah, the radio’s also dead. Charlie thinks that they’ve got a cell jammer,” Don said.

David grimaced. “We’re alone, then? What’s the plan?”

“They’re four of them and we’re …” Don turned to face his brother, who’d also gotten out of the car and was watching the bank across the street. “Damn.” He hadn’t thought of Charlie. The thought that his brother could get caught in the crossfire hadn’t come to him at all.

Colby had already opened the trunk of his SUV, handing David a Kevlar vest. He looked at Don attentively. “We’re going in, right?” he asked.

Don opened his trunk, too, taking out two vests which were stashed there for emergencies. “This is our chance. We’ll wait outside for them – in front of the entrance.” He went to Charlie and pulled the vest over his head, tightening it until it fit. Colby and David equipped themselves with MP5s and magazines. Don would have liked to leave one of them behind for Charlie’s protection, but he thought that they only had a real chance against the four robbers when the three of them surprised them. He needed every man he could get. “You’re staying here,” Don said to his brother, letting him see that he was serious. He opened the back door of the car and let Charlie get in. Then, he pushed him on the ground behind the passenger seat. “Don’t move.”

Charlie looked up to him, nervous. “Okay.”

Don raised his index finger. “I mean it, Charlie. You’re not leaving this car.” He slammed the door shut. “Let’s go,” he said to his colleagues, taking the larger calibre out of the car which was stashed securely in the trunk for emergencies. Charlie crouched down behind the passenger seat, hoping that the doors of the SUV were solid - then he prayed that he didn’t have to find out.

***

Connor dropped the night vision goggles from his eyes. “They want to surprise us at the entrance,” he said.

Steve, standing directly next to him, snorted in disgust. “Those feds. They’re all the same.”

“It’s just the three of them,” Connor said. “There won’t be any reinforcements.” Kenny was to blame for that. It had been his idea to get a cell jammer and Brian had known where to get one on short notice. Connor had cut off the radio.

Steve grinned in triumph. “They don’t stand a chance.”

“Yeah,” Connor said, stepping away from the window, “but Justin should hurry up with the safe, though.” They walked through the small business area by passing an inconspicuous wood door, which led directly to a couple of offices, the kitchen and the toilets - in addition it led to the safe and the safe deposit boxes. Kenny looked nervously to Connor and Steve when they joined them. Justin leant against the safe. Connor couldn’t see exactly what he was doing, but he trusted him. Justin had robbed 13 banks before he’d landed in prison. When Connor had gotten to know him there, they had decided to carry out these robberies together as soon as they were free again.

Kenny pulled a list with safe deposit box numbers out of his pocket. “We could still break into them.”

“No,” Connor answered. “We play it safe. Maybe they’ve found another way to call for reinforcements.”

Justin laughed out loud, opening the safe’s door. He looked at his watch, shaking his head in pity: “4 minutes and 23 seconds. Not my best.” Connor, Kenny and Steve didn’t listen. They were already engaged in stuffing money into the sports bags.

“We’ll leave through the side exit,” Connor decided.

Justin had his doubts. “You think that they’re that dumb? They’re going to watch that door, too.”

“They are only three agents. They can see our car from the main entrance. I think that’s good enough for them.” Connor looked at his watch. “Let’s go.”

***

Charlie decided that his plan was good and he left the car door open after he’d gotten out, ducking next to the cars. He’d stay out of view. Five cars were standing between him and the van. His brother wouldn’t be able to see that Charlie didn’t listen to him. But he decided to apologize later, either way. He’d thought hard about this for a couple of minutes and finally found a way to help Don out. He opened the front passenger door and then the glove compartment. Don’s pocket-knife lay under empty chewing gum papers and the license for his service weapon. Charlie had found it there when he’d dug through the glove compartment out of boredom during the last surveillance. Charlie crept toward the robber’s car, crouching down the whole time. Nobody would notice that he wasn’t in the car anymore. The robbers and the three agents were busy on the other side of the street. It was probably even the best solution to cut the tires open, in case the robbers could make it past the agents.

He arrived at the white van and pulled out the blade of the knife. A glance around the car showed him that the situation hadn’t changed. Don, David and Colby were holding their positions in front of the bank, the robbers were still inside. Somebody grabbed his neck, slamming his head against the shock absorber. “What do you think you’re doing, you little punk?” a man hissed furiously, trying to wrestle the knife from him. A fifth bank robber. Charlie fought the black spots dancing in front of his eyes, hitting with his elbow backwards.

He caught the man in the stomach and the grip around his neck loosened as Don called out: “FBI! Don’t move!“ Charlie thought for a moment that his brother had noticed the attack on him, but then, shots were fired and he realized, that the robbers must have had left the bank. Charlie’s attacker cursed softly, trying to hold onto him, but Charlie managed to tear himself away, pushing the knife into the back tire. He ran. At least he thought he did, but then he got dizzy, staggering on the asphalt between the van and the car standing behind it. Now, he was able to see Don, Colby and David, who’d taken cover in the entrance way of the bank, shooting at the four robbers who’d come from the side entrance and were using a low wall at the building’s corner as a cover. Three of the robbers shot back, the fourth one was crouching down on the ground in obvious fear. Till now, the robbers had never been forced to shoot - now it showed how well they were equipped. Charlie had to get back to the car. It had been stupid to leave it at all.

He scrambled to his feet and wanted to go back, but a mountain of man stood in his way. Completely unimpressed by the shoot-out going down across the street, he grabbed Charlie’s arm. “Little bastard,” he mumbled. Charlie tried to cut his arm with the knife, but the man held his wrist, wrenching the knife from his fingers. He seized Charlie’s vest at the shoulders, pulling him towards his chest, so that the young man was only standing on his toes. “Too bad that I don’t have time for this, pretty boy.” He pushed Charlie away who stumbled towards the middle of the street and fell. Don froze at the sight while the fifth bank robber hurried around the van and got in. Don saw Charlie trying to stand up. He instinctively made himself ready to run toward his brother and pull him to safety ... he would strangle him personally later. David and Colby seemed to know what he was planning and were laying down cover fire.

Don ran, making it only two steps farther before a sharp pain drilled into his right thigh. He stumbled back into safety. “Stay down! Charlie, stay down!” he yelled over the sound of weapons firing. His brother obeyed, pressing his body to the asphalt, staring anxiously over to Don. “Shit,” Don muttered.

Colby glanced at the wound. “Don?”

“A graze. It’s just a graze,” he answered.

David jammed a new round into his weapon and supported it against his shoulder. “They’re going to make a run for it.”

Don cursed. “They’ll be heading directly for Charlie.” He fired on the robbers, as one of them made an escape attempt, shooing the man back behind the wall. Don’s magazine was getting emptier by the minute. “We need reinforcements,” he said tensely and then shot at the robbers again. Who were suddenly strengthening their attack, forcing the agents back into the bank’s entrance way. And then one of the robbers ran across the street and threw himself between the parked cars, before he opened the side door of the van. “They’re running,” Don mumbled. The second robber tried to run across the street but Don placed some well-aimed bullets in front of his feet and the man stumbled backwards. Then the inevitable moment came in which he pressed the trigger and nothing happened. Colby put his weapon away. David was the last one of them who still had bullets left. Don looked to his brother who was lying in the street, his arms over his head as if they could protect him. Fortunately the robbers didn’t seem to be interested in him. But shots were still fired and Don was afraid that Charlie could be hit. Of course the robbers noticed that only one agent was shooting at them now and they took advantage. They strengthened their fire and David had to take cover. Colby saw the next robber running when the hail of bullets got stronger against the three agents. Police sirens sounded. Don sighed in relief. The robbers hesitated only for a moment. Colby used it and ran.

“Colby!” he heard David calling but he ignored him. He ran parallel to the robber across the street, bullets hitting the ground besides him, and then the robbers seemed to deem it too risky to hit their own man and stopped firing. Colby saw the frightened look which the robber running beside him wore - he’s just a kid, just a kid!, he thought, shocked - but Colby was not after him. He hardly stopped as he arrived at Charlie’s position, yanking the surprised mathematician from the street by his vest, dragging him between the parked cars on the other side of the street. Charlie managed to gain his footing and staggered after him. They stumbled over the curb. Charlie fell on his back, Colby landed on top of him. The agent remained lying on Charlie for some breathless seconds, waiting for shots in his direction but nothing came. Instead, there were remote shots, a cry, wails of sirens, then tires squealed and the van raced past Colby and Charlie through one of the front yards and from there onto a side street.

A breathless silence hung over the street. Colby pushed to his knees. “Charlie?“ The young man didn’t react and Colby tried to raise his head. His hand came back stained with blood. “I need an ambulance!” he yelled. Don limped toward him, David stood in front of the bank, staring at the street. Colby saw one of the robbers lying on the ground - he couldn’t tell whether he was dead or injured.

Don fell to his knees beside his unconscious brother. ”Charlie?” He touched his cheek and then the back of his head, applying pressure. His concerned eyes found Colby. “We underestimated those guys.”


Chapter Six
Brute Force Masterlist

Icon created by mercilynn