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Brute Force 13/14

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 Twelve
Brute Force Masterlist

***
***


13.


“Oh, my God,” Kenny whispered, staring at the agent’s totally destroyed car, breathing heavily. The flashing blue light still worked but the siren had ceased when the dark car had rammed several trees, finally stopping with a crumpled hood and the driver side pressed in. The dark blond driver didn’t move. “Is he dead?” Kenny asked.

Connor opened his door. “Move, move!” he called out, running over to the car, when Kenny just stared at the car wreck. Connor had just wanted the agent to lose control, but he hadn’t expected that the accident would be so fatal. He’d underestimated their speed. He rattled at the driver’s door, finally getting it to open. The driver was lying with his head on the airbag, blood seeping from a cut behind his ear which coloured the collar of his white shirt red.

Kenny stopped besides Connor, breathless. “What do we do when he’s dead?“ He gasped, suddenly frightened. “That’s murder.”

“Shut up for a second, Kenny!” Connor yelled at him. He felt for a pulse. “He’s alive.” He leant the agent back in his seat and reached across his body to undo the belt.

“What are you doing?” Kenny asked.

“Two hostages are better than one,” Connor answered.

Kenny looked around anxiously, but neither cars nor hikers could be seen. “Why are you doin’ this, Connor?“

The older man pulled the agent from the car, taking him into a fireman’s carry. “You know why.”

“We could end up in prison for our whole lives.”

“They won’t catch us,” Connor answered, walking back towards the van. “Open the side door.”

Kenny obeyed, though he remained sceptical. “I can’t go back to prison, Con. I can’t. Please … just leave him. And let the professor go.” Connor put the agent in the cargo hold of the car and slammed the door.

Then, he put his hands on his hips, staring at Kenny with serious, blue eyes. “You told me you’d be with me the whole way.”

“I was with you as long as I’d only have to hack into bank data bases. I didn’t want to be part of a kidnapping. And I don’t want to kill someone.”

Connor put a hand in Kenny’s neck and sank his fingers into the boy’s brown, short hair. “We have an aim. Nobody can get to us as soon as we’ve reached it. I told you, I’d be there to protect you. Form the police, from prison and from Steve. But you need to believe in me.” Kenny seemed to be undecided, staring at the ground, then, finally, up again into Connor’s eyes. He nodded. Connor smiled, brushing playfully through Kenny’s hair. “Let’s go.”

***

He ached all over. He didn’t know what had happened. He had the feeling that even his eyelids were sore. He grimaced, trying to open his eyes, but he didn’t make it. Something cold and wet was pressed to his forehead and Colby flinched.

“Hey,” someone said in a soothing voice, “wait! I just wanna wash away the blood.”

Colby moaned. “Did I really drive into a tree?” he asked. His memory came back piece by painful piece.

“Looks like it,” the other man answered.

“This is turning out to be one hell of a shitty week,” Colby mumbled.

“Well, I agree,” the other man answered and Colby managed to open his eyes.

“Charlie,” he cried out in surprise, trying to sit up, but his head protested. Colby gasped in pain and a hand pressed against his forehead, over the wet rag which was lying there. “Damn it.” He ignored the pain with difficulty, concentrating instead on the other man. “Are you okay?” he asked, putting the rag aside.

Charlie nodded weakly, smiling tiredly. “I’m okay.” Colby dared to try and sit up again, managing this time even to ban the dark spots dancing in front of his eyes. They were in a little room which was hardly illuminated by a naked light bulb at the ceiling. A board was screwed in front of the only window and a heavy metal door blocked the way to outside. Charlie tapped him with a half filled water-bottle and Colby accepted it gratefully. The mathematician pushed himself to the wall and pulled his legs up to his chest. He shivered a little and Colby suddenly noticed how cool it was in the room. And that they’d taken his jacket away from him. Colby sat down on the thin mattress next to Charlie, not wanting to sit on the cold concrete. He also pulled his legs up, putting his elbows on his knees. His body was still sore and he felt like one huge bruise but, if he thought with which speed he’d driven, he’d been quite lucky. On the other hand, internal injuries took a while to register. He took a look at Charlie who was supporting his head on a hand, staring at the door. He seemed to be exhausted and quite roughed up. His clothes were dirty, his sweatshirt sporting a long rip at the shoulder. Except for a cut below his eye, however, he seemed to be all right. Then, Colby noticed the bandage on Charlie’s leg which had hastily been applied over the jeans. The gauze bandage must have been white once, but it had apparently gone through just as much as the rest of Charlie’s clothes and was now rather brown than white. Apart from dirt, part of the brown discolouration also could come from dried blood.

“What happened there?” Colby asked.

Charlie sighed. “Connor shot me.”

“Why?” Colby asked.

Charlie looked at him, answering, “I didn’t want to cooperate.” He bit his lip, ducking his head. “But I think it’s just, like, a deep graze. I can walk and it stopped bleeding a while ago.”

“It could get infected,” Colby said in concern. “Let me see.”

Charlie shook his head. “I think it’s better if the bandage remained. At least until we’re out of here.”

Colby nodded in consent. “Okay.” He looked around. “Let’s see how we can do that.”

Charlie smiled bitterly. “I tried, already. Reached the fence.” He raised the hand which Colby hadn’t been able to see until now and the agent noticed handcuffs which were fastened to the heating pipe behind them. “I think I disappointed Connor.” Colby was impressed. If he was honest, he wouldn’t have thought Charlie capable to put up a fight. It wasn’t because he didn’t respect him. Charlie had proved him that he could be useful to the FBI. But Colby simply wouldn’t have suspected that the rather slight professor would cause his kidnapper problems.

“What does he want?”

Charlie shrugged. “Something from the FBI’s data base. He wants me to get it.”

Colby was already thinking about Connor’s possible targets again. “Which data do you have access to?“

Charlie sighed, leaning his head against the wall, and stared thoughtfully to the ceiling. “Closed cases. Running cases I work on.” He looked at Colby. “Not that much, really. I mean, I could gain access to a big number of sectors, because I’ve got a pretty high security clearance, but … I didn’t need to or want to apply for it, yet.” The door to their cell opened and Connor entered, a man whom Colby instantly recognized as Steve Klein on his heels. Steve held a Beretta in his hand which he pointed at Colby.

“Agent Granger,” Connor said, “you’re awake.” He seemed to be calm at first glance, but Colby could see that it was only a mask. Connor was under a lot of pressure and the agent was afraid that it made him more dangerous. Colby got up and took a step to the side, standing in front of Charlie. He’d failed him once; he’d make sure that it didn’t happen again. Connor smiled. “Let’s begin.”

***

Connor forced Charlie to sit down on the chair in front of the laptop, letting his hands lie heavily on the young man’s shoulders. Steve kicked Colby into his hollows of the knee, so that he fell to the hard concrete next to the table with the computer on it. Colby grimaced in pain, however, he stayed silent. Kenny Jacobson leant against the wall behind Charlie and Connor, watching the four men. Colby caught his eyes, but Kenny immediately ducked his head.

“Log in, Professor,” Connor asked. Colby watched Charlie clasping his hands with each other on his lap as if he wanted to prevent himself to obey. He stared at the screen. Colby was impressed again. He wondered if Don had rubbed off on his younger brother. He’d possibly even prepared him once for such a situation. On the other hand, Charlie had already worked sensitive cases. Colby suddenly wondered whether Charlie had been in such a situation before. Connor reached behind himself, pulling a Beretta from his belt. Colby grimaced when he pressed the run of the weapon to Charlie’s head. “Now, Professor.” Charlie closed his eyes. Colby watched his fingers tightening their hold on each other. He could also see that Connor lost the mask of patience he’d put on with so much difficulty. He grabbed Charlie’s sweatshirt with his free hand, dragging him down from the folding chair to the ground. He kicked Charlie in the ribs, before he pulled him up again, so that he knelt opposite Colby. A hand fisted Charlie’s hair, forcing him to look at Colby. “Your own life may mean nothing to you, Charlie, but what about Agent Granger’s?” Connor asked furiously. Colby heard Steve releasing the safety catch of his weapon behind him and he just knew - felt - that it was pointing at him. Charlie stared at him in alarm.

Colby could see that he was about to give in and shook his head in warning. “Don’t, Charlie.”

Connor noticed that Charlie hesitated, also, and placed the next verbal blow. “And as soon as we’re done with Agent Granger, how about we’ll invite your pretty girlfriend?” He squatted down next to Charlie. “Or your father? I don’t want to drag innocents in this matter, but if you’re not leaving me another choice …“

“Charlie,” Colby said in a firm voice, “Don’t.” Charlie stared at him, swallowing hard. Silence descended over the hall while Connor was waiting. Colby heard somebody gasping for air and he looked at Kenny who was standing against the wall with his arms wound tightly around himself. The boy looked as if he’d prefer to be in prison rather than here. Maybe, Hailey was right and he was a victim. Connor’s sharp order snapped him out of his thoughts.

“Steve, shoot him.”

“No!” Charlie yelled. “I’ll do it.” Connor smiled while Charlie repeated, “I’ll do it.”

***

Megan stared at the car wreck in front of her, crossing her arms. She was ignoring the agents and Forensics working while she thought about how at the beginning of the week, they’d been a team of five. Five people trying to catch Hill and his bank robber gang. And now, they were two - three with Agent Hailey. Don questioned the family who’d contacted the police while Hailey was joining Megan. “I’m so sorry,” she said.

Megan sighed deeply. “Not your fault. And we’ll find them.” She cleared her throat and asked, “No abandoned buildings in the vicinity? Nothing that could be used as a hiding place?”

Hailey shook her head, blowing a fair-haired curl out of her forehead and indicated the map which she’d spread across the hood of Don’s car. “I looked at the map and I even called the municipal authority to ask for abandoned industrial areas around here, but they came up empty. Angeles Forest is a nature reserve – no industrial areas allowed.”

“Why did they drive by here?” Megan asked thoughtfully.

Hailey shrugged. “To get rid of Agent Granger, I think. Hill’s smart. He wouldn’t risk leading anyone in his hide-out.”

Don joined them, the troubled look which was dug into his dark eyes since Charlie’s kidnapping now edged in even deeper. “They watched two men carrying a third into a van and driving off. They were too scared to confront them, but they called the police from one of the emergency phones placed beside the trails as soon as they could. They say, one of the men was big and blonde, the other one was just a boy with brown hair.”

Hailey crossed her arms. “Hill and Kenny.”

Don nodded. “I think so, too. They seemed to have an argument. The boy looked as if he didn’t want to be part of the deal anymore, but the other man managed to calm him down.”

“So, we can be sure that they’ve got Colby,” Megan said.

Don nodded. “Pretty sure, yeah. He’s not here and rangers are searching the area. But I don’t think that he just got out of his car and walked away. The witnesses are credible.”

Megan looked back to the car wreck. “Forensics says that he can’t be injured too bad. There’s only a small amount of blood in the car.”

“Let’s hope that he doesn’t have any internal injuries,” Don answered and Megan nodded.

“It actually makes sense that Hill would take Granger,” Hailey said after a moment of thoughtful silence. Don and Megan looked at her and Hailey explained, “Hill said so himself, he needs Professor Eppes to do something for him. Would he refuse?”

Don to whom the question was addressed answered, “He’s not the type of guy you can convince easily. And he’s loyal.”

“That’s a no,” Hailey said. “Hill can’t hurt him too much, because he needs him up and about. Or torture didn’t get him anywhere, yet.” Don grimaced while Hailey was talking about Charlie in connection with violence as if it meant nothing at all. But didn’t he frequently do the same when he talked about the victims of his cases? “Then he needs a victim to force Professor Eppes into cooperation.”

“But Colby and Charlie aren’t exactly close. Colby’s new on the team. They barely know each other.”

“But Colby was practically running into Hill.” Megan answered. “He takes what he gets.”

Don rubbed his forehead. “And Charlie won’t let Colby get hurt.”

***

Charlie slowly got up, sitting down at the table. Colby shook his head. “Charlie, don’t do this.” Steve kicked the kneeling agent between the shoulder blades so that Colby fell forward.

“Shut up!” he yelled.

Charlie looked up apologetically to Colby while Connor was stepping behind him. “Log in, Professor. Now,” he ordered impatiently. Charlie obeyed. He entered his password with trembling fingers and logged into the FBI’s system which was also at the employees’ disposal at home or wherever they needed it. “Very good,” Connor said. He turned to Steve. “Lock Granger up. I think the professor’s now ready to help us.” Steve pulled Colby up and back to the room on the other side of the hall. Charlie watched Steve pushing Colby into the room and locking the heavy door. “Kenny,” Connor said. There was no answer from the boy, therefore Connor turned around to face him. “Kenny!”

Charlie turned around, too, and watched Kenny flinching. “Sorry,” he mumbled. “What?”

“Make some sandwiches. For the professor and Agent Granger, too.”

Kenny nodded quickly and actually fled in the direction of the little refrigerator which was situated in a corner of the storehouse. Connor put a hand on Charlie’s shoulder. “Let’s start.”

***

Amita hurried across the entrance hall of the FBI building and just was about to rush through the safety when one of the security agents grabbed her arm, holding her tight. “Wait a minute, Lady.”

“I’m a civilian consultant,” Amita said, staring longingly towards the elevators. “I’ve got news for Agent Eppes. Please, let me up.”

“Let me see your consultant badge, ma’am,” the man opposite her said and Amita bit her lip and cursed softly.

“I was using a visitor badge the last time I was here.” She turned to the receptionist with a pleading look. “You remember me, don’t you? I was here with Professor Eppes. Not even a week ago.” The woman shook her head helplessly. Amita cursed again, slapping the counter with her palm in frustration.

“Ma’am, I’m asking you to leave,” the security agent said and Amita answered, “No. I’ve got information. Call Agent Eppes. He knows me.”

“I’m afraid Agent Eppes is not here at the moment,” the receptionist said after looking into her computer.

“Well, then call Agent …” Amita tried feverishly to remember the name, tucking her black hair behind her ears nervously. “Megan, her name’s Megan.”

“I think it’s time you leave, ma’am,” the man said impatiently, grabbing her arm again.

“No, it’s important. I had a badge.”

“Visitors have to be invited by an agent every single time before entering the building or come in with an agent or authorized employee, ma’am. And as it is, I know that for today, no visitors were registered and I don’t see an agent or registered employee with you.”

Amita barely held back from slapping him for his condescending voice. “I’m a civilian consultant,” she claimed. She possibly was exaggerating a bit there, but she’d actually advised independently for this case.

“As soon as you show me your ID badge, I’ll let you through,” the man answered.

“Aren’t you listening to me?” Amita asked furiously. “I’ve got information.”

“Ma’am, who doesn’t?” the man answered.

Amita turned back to the receptionist. “Call Megan. She’s part of Don Eppes’ team. There’s only one Megan in his team.”

“Are you talking about Agent Reeves?” the woman asked hesitantly.

“Yes!” Amita called out in triumph. “Right. Agent Megan Reeves.” The man sighed, nodding at the receptionist. She grabbed her phone.

A few minutes later, Megan was joining them. “Thank God,” Amita said after Don’s partner had authorized her visit and they were standing in the elevator on the way upstairs.

“We’ll get you a consultant badge as soon as possible,” Megan answered. “What’s so important?” she asked.

Amita stared at her in excitement. “I know what they need Charlie for.”

Chapter Fourteen
Brute Force Masterlist

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