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Brute Force 6/14

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 Five
Brute Force Masterlist

***
***


6.


While Don received treatment in the ER of the nearest hospital, Megan arrived to update him. “I talked to the doctors about the robber who was shot. He’s in surgery. Doesn’t look too promising.” Don grimaced in pain when the young doctor started to bandage his leg. The shot had hit him just above the knee. Don would limp for a couple of days but he’d endured enough grazes to know that it was nothing more serious. He was considerably more worried about Charlie who was also still being treated.

“Do we know who he is, yet?” he asked.

Megan shook her head. “No ID. We’re still waiting for the results of the fingerprints.” She sighed, stressed. “Merrick had a raving fit. He was asking me how we could underestimate those guys.”

Don ran a hand through his dark hair. “They jammed our radios. I think they overlapped all the frequencies and hoped that ours would be one of them. And they cut off our cell reception.”

“Yeah, well, the techs agree that it was a portable cell jammer.”

Don snorted. “And we were supposed to know that?” he asked. Sometimes his supervisor was an idiot. Too focused on making a good impression in front of his own bosses.

“I told him the same.”

The doctor got up. “Alright, Agent Eppes, just don’t overdo it in the next few days and you’ll be as good as new.” Don nodded at her gratefully and she turned to go. Don rubbed his forehead, glancing at his watch. It was 3:20am.

“How’s Charlie?” Megan asked.

Don got up. “He didn’t regain consciousness on our way over here. The EMT said something about a concussion. They’re still examining him. They can’t say anything until he wakes up.” He shoved the curtain around his cubicle aside, entering the busy ER. Light car accidents, brawls and victims of attacks waited for doctors, relatives or their prescription. Some of the curtains around the beds were closed while examinations were made. Doctors and nurses hurried from patient to patient. L.A. never slept. Colby and David stood near the entrance and talked.

“Charlie really did it tonight – risked his life,” Megan said and Don put his hands on his hips.

Megan’s words reminded him how furious he should be at Charlie. However, the worry over his younger brother was still stronger at the moment. “Believe me, I’ll tell him.” He recognized his father by the entrance and waved to him. Alan hurried over to him and Megan. He wore his old jeans with the frayed hems and a creased shirt. He probably had donned the first thing he could find. Don began to feel guilty because he’d called Alan with such bad news in the middle of the night.

“Don, what happened? Calling me at this time of night and telling me you’re both in hospital! I thought this surveillance was supposed to be a cake walk.”

“Well, Dad, it was.”

Alan looked his son over. “Are you okay?”

“Just a graze,” Don answered.

“And Charlie?” Alan asked.

***

“I’m perfectly fine. I want to leave,” Charlie protested, but his doctor shook his head decidedly. He addressed Don and Alan who stood next to Charlie’s bed.

“A slight concussion. We want to keep an eye on him. Your son will have to stay here until this afternoon.”

“I’ve got classes. I have to teach at ten and at two,” Charlie answered. Don glanced at him, a warning in his eyes.

The doctor’s face was understanding but firm. “Dr. Eppes, you’re on one of the best pain medications I know, believe me, or you wouldn’t want to leave the hospital. Just try to avoid any stressful situations for the next few days. And you shouldn’t watch television, listen to loud music and avoid direct sunlight. Concussions aren’t a walk in the park. You’ll be having extreme headaches over the next few days.” Charlie closed his eyes, resigned. “I’m going to let you get some sleep now,” the doctor said. He looked at Don and Alan. “Just a few minutes longer, then you should leave. It’s four a.m., you can come back tomorrow after nine.” Don nodded his thanks and the doctor left them alone.

“Don’t worry about your classes, Charlie. I’ll call Larry and Amita in the morning,” Alan reassured his youngest son. Charlie nodded. Don put his hands on his hips, trying to suppress his rage, while Alan kept fussing over Charlie. “You need anything?”

“No, thanks, Dad. I think I should listen to the doctor and get some sleep.”

Don laughed mockingly. “So, you’re listening to the doctor?” Alan looked at him questioningly, while Charlie was avoiding Don’s gaze, feeling guilty.

“What’s going on here?” Alan asked.

He could always tell when his sons had argued. Don shook his head. “Dad, could you give us a moment? Just go and wait at the exit. I’ll be with you in just a couple of minutes.”

Alan narrowed his eyes. “I’d rather know what’s going on.”

“I’ll tell you later,” Don answered.

Alan crossed his arms stubbornly. “Tell me now.”

Don rolled his eyes. “Charlie wouldn’t be hurt now if he’d just listened to me and stayed in the car. Instead, he was playing agent during a shoot-out, risking his life.”

Alan was shocked. “What?” He turned to face his youngest. “Charlie!”

“I’m sorry, okay? I thought I could help,” Charlie answered.

“Help? By getting yourself killed?” Don asked incredulously.

“I didn’t know there was a fifth robber waiting in the van.”

“You should have entertained the possibility.”

“Like you did?” Charlie retorted.

Don took a step backwards. Charlie had hit him where it hurt with that one.

None of the agents had thought about checking the van. A typical rookie mistake and they had made it. But he was right, damn it. “Charlie,” he said, “There was a reason I left you in the car.”

Don stared into Charlie’s dark eyes until he gave a slow nod. “Okay.” Charlie swallowed hard, fighting a wave of nausea. The painkillers were beginning to tire him out. “Colby’s okay, right?”

“Yeah,” Don answered.

“Good,” Charlie said softly. “Sorry, Don.”

The agent nodded. “It’s okay.” Alan decided to take command as Charlie’s eyes drifted closed.

“We should get going. Charlie, I’ll be back first thing in the morning, okay?” He pressed a kiss to Charlie’s forehead.

“Okay,” Charlie answered.

“See you, buddy,” Don added, but Charlie was already asleep.

***

Don, Megan and Colby were already sitting at their desks when David arrived in the FBI office the next morning. He looked at his watch, surprised. “And here I was thinking that I’m too early,” he said, sitting in his chair and powering up his computer.

“We just arrived here,” Megan answered.

Don tiredly massaged his forehead. “Let’s see what we’ve got, again.” He hadn’t slept well – only for an hour – then he had tossed and turned for an additional hour, before he’d driven over to his father’s for breakfast and then to the office.

Megan, David and Colby didn’t seem to be much more awake than him, but they seemed just as motivated.

Megan started first. “We’ve got five robberies, all in the middle of the night. In each bank, they hacked in, shut off the cameras and got in with the alarm codes. They avoid the cameras of the surrounding businesses, so we don’t have an ID. What we know is that they drive a white van.”

“But we arrested one of them. And yesterday, we really made a huge leap forwards in the investigations,” Colby said.

“Yeah,” Megan nodded, “but we still don’t know who they are.”

“I saw one of them,” Colby told them. “It was just for a second and I can’t describe him. But he was young – very young.”

“What do you remember?” Don asked.

Colby shrugged, grimacing. “As I said. I can’t say. I just saw him for a second when I was running to Charlie. But he was white, maybe 19 or 20 years old. Not noticeable. A kid.”

Megan frowned. “What are those guys doing with a kid?”

“He was scared,” Colby said. “That much was obvious.”

Megan’s cell rang and the three men were silent while she answered. “Reeves?” She listened, tucking her light brown hair behind her ears, then her eyes widened in surprise. “Really? That was fast.” She listened again. “We’re on our way.” She disconnected, and then nodded at Don. “The robber we arrested yesterday – we can question him now. That was his doctor.” Don took his jacket from his chair, glad that they’d be getting some answers now.

“Great. Megan, you’re with me. Colby, call Forensics and ask them if they have ID’d him yet.”

The younger man nodded, dialling his phone while Don and Megan hurried out of the office.

***

Charlie stared at the door in front of him, put his hand on the door handle and pushed. He rattled for a few seconds, before he accepted the fact that the door indeed was locked. “Dad?” he asked in confusion. He’d been released from hospital sooner than expected, had sworn to the doctor that he’d rest and promised his father that he wouldn’t enter CalSci for one week and he’d even tried to follow the doctor’s orders for half an hour. But his dark room with the drawn curtains had made it easier for his thoughts to form, flooding him with formulas and algorithms which could help with Don’s case. Charlie wanted to write them down ... but the garage door was locked.

“You should be in bed,” Alan spoke behind him with a strict voice.

“The door’s locked,” Charlie answered.

“Yeah,” his father said and Charlie turned around to face him.

“Why?”

“Take a guess.”

“But -- but my black boards are in the garage. My notes on Don’s case, Larry’s project … everything.”

“Exactly,” Alan answered and turned around, heading back to the kitchen. “Go lay down. I’ll bring you lunch in a minute.” Thoughtfully, Charlie looked out the window into the garden. Maybe he could enter the garage through the door that connected it to the garden. Or through the big gate connected to the drive way. “All the doors are locked, Charlie!” Alan called as if he’d read Charlie’s mind.

Charlie followed him into the kitchen and leant against the wall. The painkillers made him tired and slightly dizzy, however, he had to work on Don’s case. He had to determine the next robbery. He had so much new data. “Dad,” He complained.

“Charlie.” His father didn’t turn around to face him; instead he kept stirring the soup on the stove.

“I have work to do. Don needs-”

“At the moment, Don needs nothing from you, Charlie. Believe me. I’ll tell him that if I have to. You need rest. You’re overdoing it already when you’re healthy.” Alan turned and faced Charlie, hands on his hips.

“I’ll stop when it gets worse,” Charlie promised.

“Now, where did I hear that before?” Alan asked, before he snapped his fingers. “Right. You were 23 years old. You were stressed, because you were in the middle of your thesis and even though you had enough time left you wanted to get it done as fast as possible. Remember?”

Charlie crossed his arms, ducking his head. “Yeah,” he said softly.

Alan continued. “You were in pain. For weeks. You were getting sick and you ran a fever. Your mother and I wanted you to see a doctor, but you didn’t want to. ’I’ll stop when it gets worse’ you said. That you were just stressed. I can still hear you saying it. Your appendix burst a few hours later.”

“Dad, I remember. It’s okay,” Charlie interrupted.

“You were in hospital for two weeks,” Alan concluded and Charlie rolled his eyes.

“When will I get the keys back?” he asked. Alan shook his head, upset, and turned back to the stove, stirring the soup. Charlie walked over to him. “Dad …” He put a hand on Alan’s shoulder but his father shook it off and went to the refrigerator and got a bottle of water out. Charlie watched him taking a sip and then leaning against the refrigerator. “What’s going on, Dad?”

“I don’t like your brother taking risks with your life. He takes you to crime scenes, surveillances and interviews.”

Charlie crossed his arms. “I’m also consulting for the NSA, Dad. And for other federal agencies.”

“In an office. In a protected building.”

Charlie didn’t answer. Mostly, his work for the NSA had been harmless for him, but there were other times when he’d gotten into the line of fire. He’d never told his parents or Don about it. Till now, the attacks and accidents had been relatively harmless. Once, the brakes of the agent’s car that was driving with him to a crime scene had been cut. Another time Charlie had been mugged and beaten on his way back to the hotel and all data that he had with him was stolen. He’d been threatened. Sometimes, the crime scenes weren’t as harmless as the responsible agents had thought and one of the perpetrators waited for them ... once even a bomb. Charlie had hidden scratches, abrasions, bruises and nightmares when he’d come home again.

“You were working only a few months for Don when a sniper took a shot at you.”

Charlie had to admit that this scenario had been the worst he’d experienced until now. “That wasn’t Don’s fault. It was mine.”

Alan nodded slowly. He sighed, massaging his forehead. “Sometimes I’d rather have you only working for CalSci, Charlie.”

Charlie stepped up to his father. “I can’t. I can help so much with the numbers.”

Alan nodded. “I know.” He rolled his eyes. “You inherited this stubbornness from your mother.”

“Are you sure?” Charlie asked with a grin. “You can be pretty stubborn, too.”

Alan shook his head. “The gift for math, that’s mine, well, at least some of it.” Charlie had inherited most from Maggie. From the dark curls which she liked to colour blonde to her stubbornness and her smile. Don had always taken after Alan more. The brothers had also formed relationships with their parents that way. While Don had always come to Alan with his problems, Maggie had taken care of Charlie, going with him to Princeton and getting him the tutors. Alan had frequently felt overwhelmed in the presence of his youngest son. Maggie had always seemed to be able to keep up with her highly intelligent son, or had at least pretended very convincingly. Alan blinked away the memories and refocused on Charlie. “Sit down. Lunch is almost done. Then you’ll take a nap.”

“Dad,” Charlie protested.

Alan shook his head and Charlie gave in. At least for the moment.

Chapter Seven
Brute Force Masterlist

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