Title: Unfinished Business
Disclaimer: They're not mine!
Summary: Carroway's back, and this time he's playing for keeps.
Author's Notes: This story is for all of you who asked for a sequel to Time Bomb. Thank you so much for your reviews! I hadn't planned on a sequel, but this idea popped into my head, and it worked so well that I decided to go ahead with it. I hope you enjoy it! Major thanks to Bloodsuckers37 for being the beta! Unfinished Business
By: N'kalaChapter One
Charlie took the last few steps at top speed, landing on the floor with a loud thud. Without losing momentum, he skirted around his father, who had been passing by, and darted into the living room to collect some books that had been left there.
"Take it easy, Charlie!" Alan called after him, hiding his amusement carefully. "The books aren't going to get up and walk away!"
"Sorry, Dad," Charlie said, barely looking up from his search. "I'm running a little behind. Don's coming any moment to pick me up, and I need to be ready to go."
Alan allowed a small smile to slip through his mask. "You boys have fun at that conference. I know New York City is interesting, but try and stay out of trouble, okay?"
Charlie paused to smile innocently at his father. "Trouble? Us?"
Alan's smile turned into a smirk as Charlie, laden with a pile of books and folders, darted back up the stairs. Charlie had been excited upon being invited to speak at some math convention in New York City three weeks ago. At some encouragement from Alan, Charlie had hesitantly asked if Don wanted to join him. Don, though not at all thrilled with the idea of being stuck at a weeklong conference with a bunch of mathematicians, had agreed under the condition that the only lecture he would have to attend would be his brother's. The mere consent at going had elevated Charlie's excitement to sheer delight. It had been all he had talked about since.
The front door opened, jarring Alan from his thoughts. He turned and smiled at his firstborn. "Donnie, right on time."
Don didn't return the smile. Alan took note of the business suit his eldest child wore, and he felt his own smile slip from his face. "Oh, no, Donnie, don't tell me . . ."
Don glanced up the stairs, then turned back to Alan. "New case just came up. I can't get out of it. I'm on my way to the office now. I just stopped by to break the news to Charlie."
"Don, your brother has been looking forward to this conference ever since you told him you would go," Alan lightly admonished him. "He's going to be disappointed."
"I know!" Don replied. "I don't want to do this to him, but it's out of my hands."
Both men looked up as Charlie hurried down the stairs again, eyes bright with anticipation. "Sorry I'm not ready. I just need to grab a couple more things and . . ." He trailed off and frowned in confusion. "What's going on?"
Alan shot Don a pointed look and moved away. Don sighed and faced his younger brother.
"Something's come up at the office, Buddy," he said. "Looks like I'm not going to be able to go with you to New York."
"Oh." Charlie nodded, jamming his hands into his pockets and rocking back on his heels. "Big case?"
"Yeah, serial arsonist," Don replied. "He's already killed about thirteen people. I'm sorry for backing out on this . . ."
Charlie shook his head. "Hey, don't worry about it. This is more important. Maybe next time."
Don smiled at him. "Count on it, Buddy. Have a good time."
Charlie nodded, a fleeting smile gracing his lips. "Yeah, good luck with the arson case. Let me know if I can help."
Don playfully punched Charlie on the arm, waved at their father, and headed out the door. Charlie watched him go silently, then turned and headed back up the stairs.
Alan moved to the foot of the stairs and looked up. "You need a ride to the airport?"
Charlie paused. "Uh, yeah, I do. Thanks, Dad. I'll be down in a couple seconds."
"Take your time." Alan sighed inwardly at the sudden lack of enthusiasm in his son. He hoped that the rest of the conference went better for him.
Don flashed his ID at the security guard, barely slowing down for the security gate to open. Shutting it firmly behind him, he headed deeper into the bullpen where his team was already assembled and waiting for him.
Terry joined him halfway. "How'd he take it?"
Don barely noted how Terry always seemed to know what was on his mind. "He seemed to take it just fine. Dad was worried, but come on. A week with math geeks? How disappointed do you think he's going to be without me?"
Terry wisely chose not to comment. She had observed Charlie the past few months and felt she had a pretty good idea of what he was feeling now, but she also knew better than to point it out to Don.
Don strode into the conference room, casting a quick glance around at the faces of the agents assembled as he moved to the front. Terry moved to a chair towards the head of the table and watched as Don drew the attention of everyone in the room.
"Okay, what have we got?" he asked.
David Sinclair straightened in his chair. "Four buildings have burned under mysterious circs: the English department at UCLA, an administrative office at CalTech, the clinic just down the corner from CalTech, and the latest, at Briar Community College. No apparent links between any of the sites except for some strange remnants of what looks like an explosive device, except we have no conclusive proof that that is what it was."
Don flipped through the file in front of him. "And of the thirteen victims, seven died at the clinic, five at the admin office, and a homeless man at Briar?"
"Any suspects?" Terry asked.
"None yet," Rick Larson spoke up. "We've gone over our interviews with the survivors and witnesses, but there doesn't seem to be any connection."
Don closed the file in front of him and leaned back in his chair. "Then I guess we have our work cut out for us. We're gonna split these four scenes between us, and we're going to run down every possible lead we find. No matter how small, how insignificant, run it down. The connection is there somewhere. David, you're going to head up the team going over at UCLA. Collins, Jackson, and Brandt, you're with him. Terry, you've got the admin office. Richardson, Gomez, and Gallant, you're on it, too. Larson, you take Zimmerman, Mallory, and Adams and go over the clinic. The rest of you, you're with me at the Briar. Let's see what we can come up with."
The agents immediately broke into their respective teams, anxious to get back to work. Don entertained a fleeting thought about the math conference and Charlie, but quickly dismissed it from his mind as he got to work with his team.