Hey guys! My first numb3rs fanfic, so please be nice and review!

Summary: Charlie-hero fic! How does Charlie cope when he must rely on only himself in a life-or-death situation – and it's not only his life at stake?

Thursday March 21st


"I still don't know why you dragged me along." Charlie Eppes looked up into the bored face of his older brother. Don had his arms crossed and was tapping his foot impatiently on the marble floor.

"Hey, I said you could wait in the car. It shouldn't be too much longer" said Charlie, looking at the dozen or so people in line in front of him. 12 people multiplied by a minimum of 5 minutes with the teller… wow, maybe they should just leave. But then again, he had already been waiting for 20 minutes.

"Why you can't do your banking on the internet like a normal person?"

"Don, do you know the statistics for identity theft and credit card fraud from internet transactions? The amount stolen annually alone could more than finance-"

"Okay!" Don cut him off quickly, raising his arms in submission. "Okay. Don't worry Charlie, I don't mind waiting with you. You never know, at the rate we're going Dad might have dinner waiting for us by the time we get there"

The person at the head of the line finished with the teller and left, shoes squeaking into the hushed atmosphere of the bank. Now there were only 11 people in front of him. Charlie sighed – he didn't really feel like waiting, especially with a restless brother in tow. He half-decided that he would come back tomorrow…

The front door swung open with a huge crash. Charlie's head jerked up and Don spun around, as a man with a thick balaclava over his face and a very big, very black, very deadly looking gun ran into the lobby of the Joseph Bank. Before Charlie even had time to think, to react, the man had raised the weapon into the air and fired.

The sound was deafening. Several people screamed and fine dust and plaster from the ceiling showered down on several people in the line.

"Everybody on the floor! Face down!" there was another cry and a soft moan. "Do it! NOW!" Charlie stood frozen, his mind blank with shock, until he felt a firm hand on his shoulder, pushing him to the floor. Don had his eyes fixed on the gunman, his hand moving slowly to the holster at his hip, as he knelt.

"You!" The gunman pointed to the terrified teller. "Empty the registers." he tossed her an empty black bag. All this time he kept his gun trained on the people lying flat on the floor of the bank.

Charlie could feel his heart pounding in his chest, resonating against the cold, hard floor. He turned to look at Don, eyes desperately seeking something solid and familiar. He felt like he was in a nightmare.

Don was right beside him. He pressed Charlie's shoulder, giving it a little shake. "It'll be okay, Charlie" he whispered, giving Charlie a quick, reassuring glance before looking back at the gunman. Charlie knew Don was waiting for an opportunity, to take the gunman out, all his FBI instincts had kicked in… he felt his stomach tighten as the uncertainty of the immediate future dawned on him. Maths and statistics had absolutely no use at all in a crowded bank with a volatile gunman.

Suddenly, the girl behind the counter dropped the bag, already three quarters full of cash, with a loud thud, and the gunman turned his head, momentarily distracted. Don seized his chance and leapt to his feet, purposefully taking several steps away from Charlie as he ran towards the gunman, yelling "FBI, freeze!" Charlie half-raised his head off the floor, but a sickening explosion directly above him caused him to duck, adrenaline surging.

Charlie watched, horrified, time slowing down to a fraction of its usual value. There was a second gunman! He saw Don half-turn at the sound from behind him. Saw his eyes widen, as a split second later an invisible force sent him reeling backwards, his face contorted in pain. He saw Don fall, arcing through the air, to land with a soft thud, his gun spinning out of his hands across the marble floor. Watched him writhe in pain, then go suddenly, horribly still, as a creeping scarlet stain spread across his chest, dripping onto the cold floor.