Okay, this is my personal confession and disclaimer. I don't own NUMB3RS, first of all, I just play with the characters and make them do the things I want in my own crazy world. Secondly, this is the first piece of fanfiction I have ever attempted, and I know there are a million and a half mistakes. I'll do my best to make it something enjoyable to read, but I make no guarantees. Enjoy anyway!
Chapter 1: Only One
The heat in the small office was oppressive, and the suffocating silence made it even worse. The only sounds in the tiny room were the squeaking of Charlie's marker and the occasional "Yes, sir" and "I see" from Don, who was on the phone. Finally, he hung up the phone and sighed, leaning back in his chair and pressing a hand over his eyes.
"Something going on?" Charlie asked without turning around. His marker screeched loudly on the glass, and Terry jumped. "Sorry." Charlie apologized sheepishly.
"New case." Don answered shortly. He pinched the bridge of his nose. "Missing person's. Seventeen year old female, college sophomore of Duquesne University. About five feet, five inches, hundred twenty-five pounds, red-brown hair, grey eyes. They're faxing a photo." He took a deep breath, as though mentally preparing himself for something.
"All of us?" Terry wanted to know, studying her colleague with concern.
"You, me, David, and Charlie." He shrugged, scanning her over the tops of his fingers, which were still clamped firmly over the bridge of his nose.
Charlie looked up from his equation, meeting his brother's gaze, which had just switched from Terry to him. "Me?" He repeated, apparently shocked.
"Yes, you. I. . . I need to talk to you, actually. Out in the hall, please. . .No, no, Charlie. Put the marker down and come talk to me." Don gently pulled the marker from his brother's grasp and laid it on the window's ledge.
Charlie followed his older brother out, gazing longingly over his shoulder at the window where his equation was scribbled.
"Charlie," Don began tensely, "this case is. . .special. I need your approval before I go on with it."
"Special?" Charlie's dark eyes widened considerably. "Special how?"
Don flipped open the little black-covered notebook he'd taken notes in. "Christine Jane Baxter. Began doing complicated mathematical equations at the age of five. Required special teachers by age six. Graduated high school at age fifteen. Etcetera, etcetera. There are other factors too. They think that her abduction is related somehow to her genius level." He glanced up from the page to study his younger brother. Charlie seemed distant. He took in the pattern of the tiled floor, seemingly lost in his thoughts. "The school is located near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania." Don tried again, "They called us because they think you can help.The one they really want on this case is you.We're really going to need you to pull through on this one. You can do that, right?"
Charlie gave his brother a Look, snapping out of his reverie. "Of course I can."
Don smiled, "We've got a flight at six, then."
Charlie nodded, then followed his brother back into the office. "Okay, people." Don began, clapping his hands for attention, even though David and Terry were already gazing at him with rapt attention. "Her name is Chrissie Baxter, and she lives in a small apartment on the other side of the city from the campus in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Our flight leaves at six, so be ready at the airport around four."
They nodded, and the room became a blur of activity ("Anyone seen my purse?" "Where's my car keys?") before clearing. Don, the last to leave, flipped the light switch to the "off" position and pulled the door shut.
On the plate glass window, forgotten by all, laid Charlie's work.
The plane touched down at Pittsburgh International Airport, waking Don up from his four-hour nap. In the seat next to him, Charlie had his earphones pressed over his ears and was finishing his Minesweeper game. As Don watched, his brother rapidly cleared the last few squares and the familiar "Best Time" box popped up, revealing that Charlie has beaten the expert level, again, in 38 seconds. Don shook his head, the plane taxied into the gate, Charlie and Terry packed up their computers, and they were free. Don stood and stretched, feeling his cramped muscles protest his movements. "You guys hungry?" He asked his team.
Charlie nodded. David and Terry exchanged grins. "Definitely." David replied, speaking for both of them. Don led his small crew through the maze of crazed travelers and down to the lower level of the food court.
When they were all seated with their choice of cuisine, Don pulled out his notebook. "Okay, Chrissie lives on Lady Delview Lane, and that's on the other side of the city. Let's go interview her housemate first."
"We got cars?" David asked, attempting to pick up his overloaded cheeseburger.
"Yeah, down the street here a few blocks is a car rental place. Bureau's already rented a couple."
An hour and a half later, Don's team hung back as he rang the doorbell. The door opened a crack, and half a face peered around the door. "Can I help you?" The voice that accompanied the face was dry and reedy, results of not enough sleep and too much stress, Don was certain.
"I'm Special Agent Don Eppes with the FBI. This is Special Agent Terry Lake, Special Agent David Sinclair, and. . . this is my brother, Charlie. We're here about your roommate, Chrissie Baxter. What's your name?"
"Alexei Trent." She said, scanning them carefully, no sign of shyness evident in her visible blue eye.
"May we come in, Miss Trent?"
"Could I see your ID?" She asked brazenly. "Just to be sure."
Don patted his pockets, looking for his wallet, found it, and flipped it open. The star badge and the clear plastic covering on his ID window shone in the late afternoon sun. Finally, the door opened and she stepped back, allowing the four access and their first view of Chrissie Baxter's roommate. Alexei was tall and golden, with a short, no-nonsense haircut framing a not-quite-beautiful face that was peppered generously with freckles.
The living room in which they stood was sparsely furnished. A television blared mindlessly from the floor. A couch, two chairs, and a coffee table were the only pieces of furniture in the room. Through a large archway, they could see what served as the girls' dining room, in which sat a clapboard table and two straight-backed chairs. All in all, the house was very bare, from what they could see. No posters or pictures lined the walls, no photographs sat on any surface, creating an air of an unlived-in apartment.
"Can I get you anything?" Alexei asked, closing and locking the door behind them. "Coffee, hot tea, pop?"
Terry and Don exchanged a small smile at the "Pennsylvanian" word. "Pop" was a commonly-used Western Pennsylvania word for soda.
"Tea would be wonderful." Terry confessed after a moment of uncomfortable silence.
When they were all settled around the room with their respective refreshments (David in one chair, Don, Terry, and Charlie on the couch, and Alexei across from David), Don opened his notebook again. "Okay, Alexei, I need you to begin at the beginning. Start with Friday morning and work down to the last time you saw her."
Alexei sniffed, trying to control her emotions. She twisted the Coke bottle in her hands thoughtfully. "Chrissie has an eight o'clock class on Friday. It's. . . Calculus III, I think. She gets up at six, showers, then leaves to meet her math club friends for breakfast." She took a long sip of the Coke.
"Do you know who's in this club or where they went?"
"There's a cute boy in it…Justin Johnson. Chrissie, of course. Lexie Turner, she's a senior. She started the club. Donnie Moore, he's a freshman this year. Sexy blue eyes. Those are all I know, but I'm sure there are more. I think they went to the Pancake house that morning." She seemed uncertain of her answer and looked to Don, as though for reassurance that her answers were correct.
"That's good." Don assured her. "Go on."
She closed her eyes as if remembering. "I don't have any Friday classes. So after her eight o'clock, Chrissie came home and we did a little cleaning. Then we went to McDonald's for lunch. . . Chrissie loves their fries. When we got home, about 1:30, I think, he gathered up her dance stuff and went to the rec center. Then she had her 7 o'clock World History class with Professor Dahlin."
"And she never came home after that?" Terry prodded gently.
Alexei shook her head, "Nope, she never came home." She seemed to be focused on a point above Charlie's head, her jaw firmly set to keep her emotions at bay.
"Tell me a little more about her. Where does she hang out? Who are her friends, what does she-"
The irritating ring of the telephone interrupted. Alexei sighed and rose. "I'm sorry; it might be Chrissie's parents. I have to answer."
"Take your time." Don nodded at her. She moved into the kitchen and a moment later, they heard her answer the phone.
Not wanting to eavesdrop, Don looked at Terry, David, and Charlie. "What do you think?"
"I have no idea." David said honestly. "I don't even know where to begin."
"Well, we have some names of some of her friends. We'll interview them next." Don offered. "Then we'll move on to the administration of the school, I suppose. Probably the-"
"Excuse me." Alexei stepped into the room, the phone in her right hand. "Um, Charlie? The phone—it's for you."
"Okay. . ." Charlie rose, nervous, and took the phone from her. "Hello?" If the last time everyone had been attempting not to listen, this time, they all were. "Who is this?" He asked angrily a moment later. His eyes widened considerably and he looked at Don. "It's him." He mouthed.
Don looked confused, and Charlie gave him an exasperated look and gestured to the notebook in his brother's hands. Don handed it to him and Charlie began writing furiously. "I've got to what?" He asked a second later. "And you'll give her back? She's going to be okay? Where is she? Is she hurt? What did you-"
Charlie was interrupted by an angry explosion and a click from the other side of the phone. He stared at the dead phone in his hands.
"Charlie? Who was it?" Don asked, though he had a sickening suspicion that he already knew.
"That was Chrissie's kidnapper. I've got three days to figure out this equation and follow it to the next location. He will call us from there." Charlie said, obviously shaken.
"You can do that." Don assured him. Charlie leaned against the wall, seemingly drained.
"If I don't, he's going to kill her." He said, avoiding his brother's eyes.
I'm terribly sorry that this is so short and such a terrible place to end, but it's late and I'm already late for cheerleading . . .I'm out. This is dedicated to my crazy but wonderful co-conspirators at uncalculatedNUMB3RS, which is the coolest, most insane yahoo group out there. Thanks for your not-so-subtle hints and pushing. Love you all!
Review and tell me what you think. If I've made any terrible mistakes, I'm sorry. Feel free to correct me. . . NICELY! Flames will be fed to my evil bird in an attempt to combust him.