Title: The Fury of the Wind
Author: Windimere Wellen
Part: 1 of ?
Disclaimer: Please be nice to me This is my first Numb3rs fic, I'm a fairly recent fan, and I'm not super good at math, so be gentle. This may be a little AU because of my lack of complete knowledge of the show cannon. Later on I'm going to have a pairing that not everyone will like I'm sure, but that's not happening quite yet. I don't own Numb3rs, so don't sue me.
Hope you like it – let me know.
"All I'm saying is that I think that this couldn't have been remotely done," Charlie was saying, his curly hair blowing in the air that was gushing through the barely open window of Don's SUV.
Megan Reeves was grinning in the passenger seat as she glanced at the backseat to see Charlie's animated face. The professor was waving his hands in the air, trying to explain to the two FBI agents in the car why he thought that the recent trouble that California Mutual had been having dealing with a breach in financial information – very private and very expensive financial information, including hundreds of high profile checking accounts, hadn't been done from outside the bank.
"Charlie, just yesterday you were telling me that there was no way that anyone could get away with doing this inside one of Cal Mutual's branches," the voice was exasperated, and Don didn't like the sound as it came out of his mouth. He hated being exasperated with Charlie. He hated fighting with Charlie. He hated feeling like he and Charlie were always at odds. But now was not the time to focus on his self-loathing, or the problems that he and Charlie still had sometimes. Now was the time to solve a Federal crime. A Federal crime because the accounts that had been breached belonged to numerous government officials and numerous government contractors.
"I went back over this data with Amita, and considering the algorithms and the security measures in the computer system, I don't think that this could have been done on the outside…" Charlie kept going, and Don kept listening, but some of what the mathematician was saying was drowned out as Don turned a corner, bringing the SUV to a stop.
Megan smiled reassuringly at Don as if she knew exactly what he was thinking, and Don smiled back at her, relieved to know that he was predictably amusing. Don gave her another small smile, then opened the door of the SUV and stepped into the warm LA sun. A stiff breeze ruffled his short dark hair and tugged at his blue FBI jacket with the yellow letters on the back. Just under the jacket was the standard white button down dress shirt, the black non-descript tie, and over that was the distinctive gray of a flack jacket.
For a moment, Don wondered if he should take it off. He and Megan had been called to a scene earlier in the day – a joint task force with the ATF, and neither had had a chance to change, though Megan had lost her vest somewhere along the way, whether it was back at the office or on the way to pick up Charlie from CalSci, Don wasn't sure. Charlie's constant voice brought him back to reality and he forgot the vest.
"Ok Charlie," he said, a slow smile spreading across his face as he realized that Charlie hadn't stopped talking for the last twenty minutes. "I promise I believe you. Megan and I actually thought that this couldn't be done from outside."
"Which means we're probably dealing with an inside job," Megan pointed out, touching Charlie's arm gently. It was a warning that he needed to be careful.
Charlie stopped moving for a moment and Don caught his younger brother's dark eyes on him. "Is that why you're wearing your vest?" he asked quietly and for a moment, Don couldn't hear anything else. Not the traffic, not the construction going on down the street, not the flock of pigeons that were in front of the fountain near the entrance for the main Cal Mutual branch. All he could hear was the strain of worry in Charlie's voice.
"No," Don said, forcing himself to put laughter in his voice, and he smiled genuinely at Charlie. "No, I just forgot to take it off. Don't worry about it." Don looked at Charlie, knowing he shouldn't be surprised that Charlie had spotted his vest, but he still was. "We're just going in to talk to the head of their tech department. If this were dangerous, you can bet I wouldn't be bringing you," Don said with a small smile.
"Yeah, yeah," Charlie said with irritation, then Don watched as his younger brother appraised him, and under Charlie's scrutiny, Don zipped up his jacket, hiding the vest and the shoulder holster he was wearing. Don pushed up his shades, and motioned for them to move.
"Come on, you can ask all of the questions you want when we get inside," Don said, and turned away from his companions, one hand unconsciously beeping the SUV. Megan was beside him in a moment and Charlie was trailing behind them. They walked past the fountain, and the pigeons took to the air in a flutter. Soon enough they were pushing through the double doors, only to be met by two security guards.
Megan and Don instantly flashed their FBI badges and Charlie fumbled for a moment, looking for his ID. Don and Megan turned and Don fought down the look of irritation as Charlie searched through his brown sport coat, over the rumpled white polo and a pair of trendy jeans that their father had bought him last Christmas that were permanently stiff with chalk dust.
Finally, what seemed like ages later, Charlie produced his FBI Consultant badge and the security guards waved them in. Once out of the lobby and into the actual bank itself, Don removed his sunglasses, burying them in his short hair on top of his head.
The inside of the bank was cold and austere. The gray marble floor and steel pillars gave the place a look of formal elegance and class. There were mahogany desks where bank agents did their business. It wasn't a typical bank – it was a bank for the wealthy, where most of the money was routed to Cayman Island accounts.
A man in his late fifties, with dark eyes, thinning gray hair, and an expensive suit met them in the middle of the room. He seemed to be waiting for them, and Don assumed this was the man that his office had been dealing with.
"I'm Todd Skellet," he said, offering Don his hand.
"Special Agent Don Eppes," Don replied, shaking the man's hand firmly, and met his eyes, and for a brief moment, didn't like what he saw there, but then the man smiled, and Don shook his thoughts loose, and motioned to Megan. "This is Agent Reeves, and this is Dr. Eppes, our consultant. He'll be the one looking at your system to determine the origin of the attacks."
"Dr. Eppes?" Skellet responded with a strange smile, making all of Don's FBI training swirl unconsciously in his stomach. Something felt wrong, and Don looked around, but it was business as usual in Cal Mutual. Several well dressed customers were sitting a few feet away at one of the desks, speaking quietly and happily with one of the bank agents. Another couple was just ten feet from Don's left, also speaking quite contentedly with another bank representative. Don gave Megan a sidelong glance, but she didn't seem disturbed at all. Don fought down his feeling of uneasiness, checking it off to spending too much time doing his job.
"Agent Eppes is my brother," Charlie was saying, obviously picking up on the fact that Skellet had been referencing their last name. "I've been doing a lot of thinking about these incidents of the breaches in your system. Could I take a look at your main terminal?" Charlie asked, and Don wasn't surprised his brother had jumped straight to the numbers. "I'm not exactly a computer expert, but I do know that your algorithms had to have been compromised…" Charlie kept talking, but Don tuned him out as Skellet wordlessly led them to the side of the room where there was a computer station.
"This terminal provides access to the mainframe," Skellet was telling Charlie, but he seemed hardly interested in Charlie's stream of information regarding just how hard it was to break into an encrypted system like Cal Mutual's – the reason being that most of the systems were government designed.
Don idly added in his mind that those systems were designed by people like his genius brother.
Charlie kept talking, as he hurried into the main frame, fingers moving nearly faster than the computer could handle. Don scanned the room again, noting that one couple was leaving, while the other had moved to another desk, and the agent that was helping them seemed to be on a search for some paperwork. The two security guards were checking the first couple out, looking overly happy about it.
Don's mind turned subconsciously, calculating the closest exit and what kind of variables the marble floor would make in a gun fight. He grinned. He and Charlie weren't that different after all.
Don turned back to the conversation at hand when it was clear that Charlie had found at least part of what he was looking for.
"See, this is what I mean. There is no evidence that this was hacked into, and there's no way to have gotten to it from anywhere but here. But, there's another small mystery. This information was being compiled for a massive out source, but it looks like whoever was doing this ran into this," Charlie waved at the computer screen and Don didn't bother trying to glance over the terminal at him. "There's an encryption they couldn't get through."
Don looked up sharply. He, Megan, David and Colby and the tech crew had been spending the last week trying to figure out why there hadn't actually been any stolen information, just several huge breaches in security.
He realized a moment later that something was wrong. Skellet didn't look worried that Charlie had just told him that this was an inside job. Instead he was nodding, and moving in a way that Don had learned to recognize and dread. He was reaching for a gun.
"You're right Dr. Eppes. You're very right."
Don hardly registered the words as he reached for his own gun, his right hand snaking inside his partially zipped jacket to find purchase on the hilt of one of his pistols. His other hand closed around the cell phone in his pocket and he flipped it open, a practiced hand dialing the emergency number that was programmed in his phone for situations just like this. Megan was also moving, and Don felt like everything had slowed down to a crawl.
Slow motion was the best way to describe it. Don could see Skellet raising his gun and he knew the trajectory would be Charlie's head. From the corner of his vision, he saw Megan pulling her own gun and turn to face Skellet, ready to take a bullet for his younger brother. Don would have done the same, even as he heard the emergency dispatcher asking him for the nature of his emergency, even as he was yelling their location and tugging the gun free of its holster and past the zipper which caught his hand sharply, but he knew that Skellet was not in this alone. He heard the sound of running feet on marble.
Don turned away from Skellet to face his attacker, and was bowled over by one of the security guards. Don hit the floor hard, the security guard on top of him, one vice like hand wrapped around the gun Don was holding as they fought for it. Don's cell phone skittered across the marble, sliding under one of the desks, disconnecting from the dispatcher in an instant.
Don struggled to keep his gun, desperate to reach Charlie. Desperate to stop Skellet from hurting him. That desperation was enough for him to turn the security guard off of him and Don rolled onto his side and began to push himself up when the other security guard appeared out of nowhere and caught Don hard in the ribs with a vicious kick. Another foot smashed down on his wrist, forcing him to release the gun in his hand. He let out a strangled cry of pain, which hurt because his chest ached.
Gasping for air, Don's worry for Charlie forced him to try to get up again, but the security guard, kicked him again and the other one joined him from the other side. Don pushed himself up, swinging one leg out and caught one of the guards hard in the shin, causing him to stumble back.
The first one was still there though and while Don was distracted, he kicked again, this time a lot harder. Despite the flak vest, Don heard and felt the disgusting reality of snapping ribs. He curled in on himself to keep himself from throwing up and one of the guards bent to pick up the gun and a navy blue high heel came into view. Don made one last attempt, lunging for where the gun was, just centimeters from where the guard was reaching, but one heavily booted foot rolled him onto his back and pressed down on the broken ribs, and tears came to Don's eyes.
"Just stay where you are Agent Eppes," a cold and calculating voice told him and Don found himself looking up into the eyes of the woman who had just moments before been sitting as a customer not ten feet from where they were. She was thin and tall, with a hawk-like face, blond hair tied back severely and her blue eyes were cold. Now she was pointing Don's own service revolver down at him.
Don wiggled a little under the boot and was rewarded with a shooting pain up and down his abs, but he turned his head, trying to see Charlie or Megan, one ear resting against the cold marble.
"Charlie?" he called out hesitantly and caught his breath when the woman put one heel over his throat and pressed a little. The boot on his chest increased its pressure.
Don couldn't have cared less at that moment if she choked all of the breath out of him when he heard Charlie's voice.
"Don't! Leave him alone, please!" Charlie's voice was scared and desperate, the same sound that Don had heard in the garage when he'd told Charlie that their mother was gone. Don sagged back against the cold stones, and felt a little pressure released from his throat and two hands searched every inch of his body, removing the other gun on the other side of his holster.
"Get his handcuffs," the woman said slowly. "You have the woman?" she asked a moment later, and Don realized much to his chagrin that he had forgotten about Megan. He had forgotten that he was an FBI agent. For a moment he had only been Charlie's brother.
"She's a wild cat," came a pleased voice. "But I have her." Don forced his head a little further, to see the man that had been sitting with the woman, also posing as a customer, was holding Megan, one hand twisted behind her back in a painful looking manner.
"Megan?" Don managed to squeak out, sorry he'd shown such weakness, but needing to know she was fine.
"I'm fine Don," and her voice told him that it was not herself she was worried about, but him. Don himself was a little worried. His ribs felt like they were on fire and it hurt to breathe, something that had nothing to do with the high heel digging into his throat.
"Don't worry about your agent or your brother," the woman said slowly as she looked down at Don. "You should be worried about yourself," she said cryptically, then removed her high heel, and Don knew their only chance out of a hostage situation would be to act then and there. He waited on the floor for a moment, then as one of the guards moved down to grab the front of his jacket, blocking the woman's aim, he forced his body to move.
Don came up off the floor faster than anyone had expected and he kicked high, smashing the gun out of the first security guard's hand, breaking most of the bones and catching him completely by surprise. Adrenaline shoved its way through Don's veins, fighting the graying edges of his vision, as he turned on the second guard.
The woman seemed shocked at first that Don had come up so fast, but then she raised the gun – Don's own gun – and fired. Don knew that he should have seen it coming, but he was unprepared and the bullet caught him hard, spinning him around, and Don dropped to the floor, his head bouncing unceremoniously off the marble and all he could hear was Charlie screaming his name.