Omi as always
Kim - For being both an encouraging beta and my comma queen
For all the BTN readers who offered comments during open beta
especially Almathea whose advice caused me to rewrite one scene
ten times until I felt it would meet with her high standards

"A vague disclaimer is nobody's friend" - Willow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I do not own the characters Don, Charlie, Alan, Terry or David nor do I
have any rights to anything related to the TV show Numb3rs. I plead fair
use and claim only my own writing and characters.


"Let me get this straight. Larry, who purports to be your friend, is the one who claims that your department is the least... what word did he use? Lascivious?"

"Libidinous!" Charlie laughed.

"Libidinous!" Don echoed. "So he tells you this right in front of Amita?"

"Honest! You should have seen the look on Amita's face! It was priceless."

"I'm sure yours was too, buddy." Don was behind the wheel of his SUV but still reached over and gave Charlie an affectionate nudge on the arm.

"I didn't know what to say! I mean, it's not every day someone tells you your life's pursuit is worse than asexual, it's nonsexual!"

"I'm sorry, but no one can convince me that Amita's not a sexy mathematician."

"I'm not arguing that point." Charlie put up his hands in a gesture of surrender. Don already knew his thoughts on Amita.

Don's cell phone rang and he answered it in hands-free mode, not needing to hide the call from Charlie since he already had full clearance.


"Don, it's David. We're out in Century City following up on a tip about a money laundering operation. Don, we hit the jackpot. This is huge and we have a witness willing to testify to the whole thing."

"That's great! Charlie and I were headed into the office but we'll come by there instead." Don glanced at Charlie who nodded in agreement. "Give me the address."

Don and Charlie arrived at the scene and Charlie made himself useful by assisting the Bureau's forensic accountants in identifying the relevant documentation.

Charlie got so caught up in the numbers he didn't notice Don approach him.

"Having fun?" Don joked.

Charlie grinned. "About as much fun as you can have with numbers at a crime scene."

"Well, don't worry, the accountants will pack up all of this stuff and haul it back to the Bureau where you can spend some quality time with it." Don put his arm around Charlie's shoulder and gave him a good-natured shake.

"Ok, then I'll live," Charlie mock complained. "So, are we heading into the office now? We still need to go over my findings on the identity theft case."

"Not just yet. I have to take our witness to a safe house first. She's pretty shaken up. She's convinced the gang behind this is going to kill her."

Don and Charlie headed back to the SUV where David met up with them, escorting a young Hispanic woman.

"Charlie, this is Carmen Cruz, our witness."

Charlie reached out to shake her hand and she offered hers nervously.

"You're very brave to do this," he told her.

"I don't feel brave," Carmen said in a small voice. "I just didn't know what else to do, or how else to get myself out of this."

"You're doing the right thing, and that's what's important, Carmen," Don said reassuringly.

The three got into the black SUV; Don and Charlie up front and Carmen in the back seat behind Don.

"Don't worry, Carmen. Everything's going to be fine. It's only a few miles to the safe house," Don assured her.

They drove in silence, the brotherly rapport dampened by Carmen's frightened presence.

Both men had tried to engage her in conversation, but after receiving only monosyllabic answers, it seemed best to leave her in peace.

Don drove quickly yet carefully, trying not to draw too much attention to the car, a practiced habit from years of FBI experience.

Unfortunately, despite his experience, he didn't see the setup coming until it was too late.

A large delivery van suddenly and purposefully screeched right, blocking their lane so close to them there was no way Don could avoid an impact. Fearful of the injuries his brother might sustain in a head-on crash, Don quickly turned to the right hoping to hit the van on his side instead of head-on. It worked, but Don remembered too late that Carmen was on his side of the car.

The SUV's airbags deployed on impact and everything went black.