Author: Miss Killigrew PM
When man-hunting turns takes a suspicious ressemblance to baby-sitting, Don and Cooper are not impressed. Pre-show. Rated M for non explicit rape and violence.Rated: Fiction M - English - Drama/Friendship - Chapters: 2 - Words: 4,289 - Reviews: 5 - Updated: 07-14-11 - Published: 07-13-11 - id: 7175680
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's note : It took me a long time to gather the courage to publish this, years, in fact. And not only because my the days of my misspent youth when I had more or less made a name for myself in the beautiful world of fanfiction are long-gone, but also because of several other facts.
One, this story came to me in English. ( Yes... I'm French. ) Let's just say I sincerely hope these people who mistook me for a native weren't just being nice and that I haven't made too many grammar and/or spelling mistakes.
Two, I'm not sure this can be strictly labelled as fanfiction. The central characters are my own, but I've borrowed the others ( and they're essential to the story... ) to Numb3rs.
Three, this wasn't beta'ed.
So... any mistakes are my own and comments are always very welcome.
It is weird. That such a tiny, fragile looking thing could have participated to cause so much trouble. She's lying on the hospital bed, long black hair contrasting almost painfully with the paleness of her face. And they've seen pictures, but in the middle of the enormous looking, immaculate sheets, she looks all too young.
- You were fast, someone says from behind them.
- Doctor Clements. Thanks for calling us, Don says politely. Is she better?
- She's awake, the doctor replies, openly reluctant. I'm going to be clear, you asked me to call you when she'd wake up so I did, but this has to be fast. She's still weak and clearly terrified.
- We'll be careful, Cooper promises.
Her dark eyes shoot up immediately towards them when they push the glass door open, almost assessing. Her little hands are closed in fists upon the blanket.
- Hello, Erica, Don says gently. My name's Don. Don Eppes. This is Billy Cooper.
- We're with the FBI.
- I guessed, she says softly. This became a federal case the second we crossed the border, right?
Her British accent only adds to the politeness in her voice, but there's a underlying sarcasm that laces it. The partners exchange a surprised look.
- It did, Don says matter-of-factly. We have a few questions if you feel up to it.
- You can ask the questions.
Her eyes are lowered, fixed on the metal frame at the end of the bed.
- Okay. Do you know where your brother is?
- Are you sure? ( She remains silent so he continues more softly) Hey, we're here to help you, alright? Nothing's gonna happen to you now.
She raises her head to look Don in the eye and the black, impossibly old gaze makes him a bit uncomfortable.
- You believe he's the one who hurt me, she says numbly, as if to herself.
- Who hurt you?
- Not Luke. But all this... this isn't about me, is it?
- What do you mean? Coop asks.
There's the faintest impatience in his voice, slight annoyance in his blue eyes when she spares a quick look at him. Fear makes her stomach clench but she focuses swiftly on the corner of the sheet and keeps a tight rein on her feelings.
' Don't show them you're scared. Because they'll still do what they want to do in the end.'
- Nothing, she says softly.
A unsure look passes before the partners before they change tactics.
- Do you know officer Finns? Billy goes on.
- Erica, we know you're scared and that you want to protect your brother. But if Luka has done something bad, I think you should help us. Before he hurts someone else.
- He won't.
- Are you sure? Don continues gently. You know, it's a safe bet your brother is pretty... confused right now. And people can do unexpected things when they're confused.
- You don't know him.
- Do you want to tell us who hurt you?
- But you said it wasn't Luka. So if it's true, why don't you want to tell us?
She shakes her head very softly, eyes down.
- Hey, we all know it's hard for you, okay? And you know, I've got a brother as well. When we were little, we used to fight. He hit me with a stick once. He was just mad, I didn't think I really wanted to hurt me, but that doesn't mean my parents were wrong in grounding him.
- You're lying.
- Excuse me?
- Maybe you fought, but you just made that story up. I don't think he ever hit you with a stick. I think... wrestling matches tended to turn out in your advantage.
- Okay. Maybe I was the one who got grounded.
- I won't tell you anything.
- I'm tired now. Maybe you should leave.
- Okay, Coop sighs.
- Look, if you... change your mind, Doctor Clements has our number.
- … Fine.
A week before
- This has got to be a joke.
Cooper sounds so exasperated that Don would have burst in laughter if he didn't feel exactly the same. Things being as they are, he just drops his bag in the back seat and slams the door.
- I know.
- Can't they handle a kid? I mean, what are we, babysitters? If they can't keep two kids from leaving their goddamn state then who the fuck ever gave them a badge at all?
- You're gonna stand there cursing all day or are we gonna get a move on?
Still frowning, Coop grumbles something before offering his partner to lead the way. Don shrugs and puts his car in gear.
Luka and Erica Jensen. Eighteen and ten years old. Heirs of the single richest British family. Both born in London, respectively on August 27th and September 22nd, moved from Britain to the US five years ago. Ten months later, the father died in a car accident, leaving his kids to their mother in a small town thirty miles from Boston until the previous year, when Luka moved to the city for senior high, taking his sister with him.
The agents' mood hasn't brightened two days later, when they reach Boston. They get in touch with the PD officer who's to hand over the case and arrange to meet at two in the afternoon.
The guy who's waiting for them in the tiny office that smells of cigarette smoke and dust is a little over forty, blond hair cut short, all thin lips and sharp lines. Too many years of smoking made his fingers and teeth turn yellowish, his eyes are slightly foggy and he's got bag under his eyes.
After ten minutes of conversation from which they come out knowing all suspicions are on Luka Jensen, Cooper decides to cut to the chase.
- How do you explain a teenager unarmed a trained officer?
- The kid was learning martial arts at four.
- That's what got them past the border?
- Agent Cooper, my partner was shot by this little son of a bitch. Do you really think I didn't try and find them?
- No, but you obviously missed something.
- What did the mother say, officer Roberts? Don asks more calmly with a discreet but firm look to his partner.
Roberts shakes his head but accepts the truce.
- Mother's mental. Bipolar. She's under treatment and hasn't seen any of her children in a while. Last time she'd seen her son was apparently before they both moved here. And according to the neighbours, she wasn't exactly a present mother. But I don't give a rat's ass about all the psychological bullshit, at least as far as he's concerned. ( he takes a fag and brings it to his lips) D'you mind?
Don makes a 'go ahead' gesture before flipping the file open.
- They don't have any family around, he notes.
- And they're god damn smart. The girl's a genius or whatever... and you know, I don't give a fuck what you think I did. Just find them and send the bastard behind bars.
- You're the cops?
The two agents turn to face a man in a white blouse, clipboard in one hand, who just came up to them. They pull out their badges and the doctor frowns.
- I'm doctor Clements. Federal agents... Whoa. Isn't she a little young to be in trouble with you guys?
- How is she? Don asks.
- Not well enough to talk to anyone.
- That wasn't the question, Coop replies.
Clements shakes his head.
- Not well. She was stabbed in the shoulder and the wound's pretty infected, though apparently she tried to clean it.
- Yeah. A little while ago, apparently.
- How long exactly?
- Impossible to say. Over a week, two maybe. Given the depth of the wound, it's a miracle she's alive at all. She was beaten, I found fading bruises all over her body, dating back from probably the same time as the stabbing. And she was dehydrated.
- Did you see the man who brought her?
- No. We found her in the lobby, she was unconscious.
- You didn't see a ten-year-old enter?
- Agent... Eppes, right? I don't make a living on handcuffing children. Did you see the number of people in that lobby?
- So you don't know who brought her, Coop cuts in. Nor exactly when it happened.
- When will she be well enough to talk to us?
- Not right now. I don't know when she'll wake up and anyway, I want to keep her here fr at least a week, under observation.
- All right. Please call us when she's awake.
- I couldn't find her family. Can you warn them?
Cooper nods and the two agents leave.
- Hello, Erica.
The girls nods at them, but it's more an reflex born out of deeply ingrained good manners than a sincere welcoming. They pull out chairs closer to her bed before sharing a look.
Her color has improved and she's shed the awful hospital nightgown in favor of black sweat pants and a far too large sweater. It makes her seem even tinier, but healthier.
- Doctor Clements told us you're doing better, Cooper starts. You're feeling okay?
- Yes, thank you for asking.
Her polite words are totally debunked by her the almost sardonic glint in her black eyes, convincing the agent to abandon small talk.
- Good. Well, listen, you're gonna get out soon and... you know, you don't exactly have many choices here. If you want to call someone, a friend we don't know about, you can, but you can't leave the state until we have Luka. And we'll have to put you all under witness protection.
- Witness protection. Is that what I am, a witness?
- Depends. Do you have something to tell us?
Her eyes narrow, but strangely enough, the sarcasm in them has been replaced by a strange kind of... respect. She shakes her head, making Cooper nod.
- All right. So, the judge has decided it wouldn't be safe to get your mother over here, so do you want to call someone?
- There's no one, she says neutrally. That means that I'm under witness protection no matter what, is that it? How did you get my mother to sign?
- Given the given circumstances, I signed, Don says.
- You have to get the approval of my legal guardian.
- Until that case is closed, the rules have changed.
- Really? ( The glint of bitter irony is back with a vengeance.) Fine.
The room is pretty big but anonymous, with a king-sized bed, huge commode and desk in the same dark wood. It's probably the only good thing she'll get out of this whole mess: having slept in a king-sized bed again. Very exciting.
- I'm going to sleep here?
- Hum-hum. ( Don dangles in the air the bag he's carrying) Where do you want me to leave this?
- What is it?
- Clothes, mostly. You can make a list and we'll have the rest brought tomorrow.
- My clothes?
- Yeah. Where do I...?
She points to the commode absent-mindedly, more concerned by the fact that two complete strangers went through their stuff. So much for legal right to privacy, hum? She swallows against the sudden bitter taste in her throat and decides the kind-sized bed won't be used for long.
Thanks for reading and let me know if I should publish the rest... :-)