Title: Send Someone To Love Me
Author: Beth Pryor
Rating: T (probably less, but just in case)
Summary: This is the first in a series of three planned fics beginning with a very unusual assignment for Don. In this Entourage crossover he encounters a group of people who challenge him both professionally and personally.
Disclaimer: Everyone you recognize from the show(s) belongs to someone already, and it isn't me. I have no claim to anyone or anything except the characters you don't recognize, which are mine. No one is making any money off of this, especially not me.
A/N: This is my first story in the Numb3rs fandom. It is technically a crossover with Entourage, as some of the characters make an appearance; however, there is very little character development taking place with those characters. This is primarily a Numb3rs fic and primarily focusing on Don. Don't fear! The others are there, just in supporting roles. That being said, I encourage feedback!
Dedication: To Baby, who is my Superhero and to Flag, my Beta, who still reads more than I do.
"Has anyone seen Colby?" Don asked as he entered the office and glanced over the partition of his cube and around the room. "Is he here yet?"
"His neighbor-slash-girlfriend called in about 10 minutes ago," Megan informed him. "Remember how he was feeling kind of sick yesterday before the raid on the meth lab?" Don nodded. "Well, he got worse last night with really bad pain and vomiting, and she convinced him to go to the ER. Turns out it was appendicitis. They're taking out his appendix this morning. She said he'll be out for a couple of days at least and then on desk duty for a week or so," she finished.
"Man! Now I feel bad for riding him when he said he was sick. I guess I should have known better than to joke that he was trying to get out of work." Don walked around from his desk to stand in front of Megan's.
"She did say that he was upset about missing an assignment, though. I have no idea what she was talking about. We actually have a light case load right now, and other than the identity theft thing that we're waiting on the fraud division for, I didn't think we had anything pressing left on our plate. Tons of follow-ups, of course, but no kidnappers, murders, rapists, bank robbers or drug dealers, at least not any assigned to us. Wonder what she was talking about?"
Don scratched his head and turned toward David who had walked up in the middle of Megan's discourse. "You have any idea what assignment Colby would be itching to get back to?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact, I do," smiled David.
Don and Megan stared at him for a moment until Don asked, "Well, are you going to tell us what it is?"
"You don't know about the movie thing, Don?"
"Obviously not, David. Please enlighten us."
"He told you about it. It was cleared with Merrick's office a few weeks ago. He was supposed to be a technical advisor on a film that's going to shoot this month. They start today. You honestly don't remember?"
Don shook his head as Megan laughed. "Seriously?" she asked. "How did he work that out?"
David shrugged. "I'm not exactly sure, but I think I remember him saying that a buddy of his was in the industry somehow. I assume that guy set it up."
Don nodded. "Ok, so someone needs to call and tell him that no one is coming."
"Not so fast, Eppes." Don turned to face Assistant Director in Charge Walt Merrick, head of the Los Angeles Field Office. "Agent Granger cleared this little excursion with me, so long as your team wasn't on a top priority case or working with Homeland. You're not, and I'd like you to uphold the commitment to Warners."
Don was unable to protest his superior's decision. "I'll get someone up there right away, sir," he affirmed as he turned to find someone else who could fill in for Colby.
Merrick stopped him. "Not someone, Eppes. I'd like you to do it."
"Excuse me," Don asked after a speechless moment. "You want me to spend a month on a movie set?"
"That's right. You're senior man in this division. I'd prefer that you handle this. You and your team turn over cases at about three times the rate of everyone else out here. I'm going to split up your folks and reassign them to other units for the month so they can show everyone else how it's done. We'll make sure that everything you have open is covered, as well."
Don stood with his mouth agape as he watched the ADIC exit the bullpen. He finally turned back to David and Megan. Their poses mimicked his. Finally Megan broke the stunned silence.
"Well, Don, looks like you're headed to Hollywood." She and David both started to laugh.
"This isn't funny, you two. As if I have nothing better to do than baby-sit a bunch of overpaid, undereducated, dumbasses attempting to handle weapons and make a film that bares some sort of semblance to what we do every day. Not to mention the fact that we have cases open, and more are sure to come in. It's bad enough that I don't even remember Colby telling me about it. It's bad enough that he's going to be out for God knows how long. Now we're all out of commission. This is unbelievable," exclaimed Don as he paced back and forth between his desk and Megan's.
David clapped Don on the shoulder. "I'm sure that if something big comes up they'll have us all back together in no time. But, for now, why don't you just consider it a paid vacation? Megan and I will be fine, and you need a break. Merrick's right. We've all been working at Mach speed here. We could all use some down time."
Megan stepped up on his other side. "I completely agree with David, Don. Some time away from here would do you a world of good. Besides, it might actually be fun."
Don scratched his eyebrow and rubbed his hand over his face. "Now you guys are making me feel bad. I don't want to leave you two here while I'm off on a 'fun, paid vacation.' That doesn't seem fair to me."
Megan spoke again. "Seriously, Don. It's fine. It's getting late, though. You'd better hit the road."
"Yeah, I guess I should," Don agreed as he glanced at his watch. "It's already 8:30. I'll be stuck in traffic forever. Call me when you get word on Colby or if you need me for anything."
"We will, Don. We promise." Megan avowed.
"I'm serious. Anything. Nothing is too insignificant."
David tapped his watch and pointed toward the door. "Get out of here, Eppes. We'll call you."
"Alright. I'm out of here." He started toward the door but turned back short of actually exiting. "Are you sure that you guys can handle everything?"
"DON!" Megan and David both exclaimed.
"Ok, I'm going." He walked out the door.
When he was in his vehicle, Don realized that he wasn't exactly sure where he was going. As he pulled out of the garage, he dialed Megan's desk.
"What, Don?" she asked when she answered.
"Where am I going?"
"It's Warner Bros. That's in Burbank, and I'm thinking the street is named for the studio. I don't know any more specifics. You'll probably just have to ask someone at the gate. Wait a second." She paused as she asked David a question. "David says to try the name Joe Halpern. That's Colby's friend."
"Right. Thanks." He hung up and joined the morning traffic. As predicted, the trip to Burbank took longer than the estimate on his GPS. During one of the more lengthy stops on the freeway, he decided to leave Charlie a message.
"Hey, Charlie. I told Dad I'd probably be over for dinner tonight, but I got a new assignment and I'm not sure how long the day will run. I'll give you a call later when I have a better idea. Anyway, I'm stuck in traffic and it's starting to move now. Bye."
Twenty-five minutes later he pulled up to the gate in front of the studio. The guard stopped him to ask him who he was there to see. Don glanced out over top of his sunglasses and displayed his badge and asked where he could find Joe Halpern. The guard flipped through his clipboard and consulted with the other two guards in the shack.
"Ok, sir. Mr. Halpern is at Sound Stage 3. When you come through the gate, go to the end of the street just ahead and turn right. There are signs directing you to the outdoor sets and sound stages. Follow those signs and there should be parking all along the way. If not, there's an overflow lot, and a shuttle will take you where you need to go. Here's a map of the studio and a parking sticker."
Don took the papers the man was holding but asked a question before he drove away. "Were you expecting me?"
The guard nodded. "The group in Sound Stage 3 has an FBI Agent listed, so I guess that's you."
"Yeah, I guess that is. Ok, thanks."
"Have a nice day, sir."
"Yeah, you too." Don mumbled as he pulled away from the gate. He stopped to allow cast and crew members to pass in front of him as he made his way across the lot as the guard had described. He pulled into an unmarked spot and locked the SUV. There didn't appear to be any additional security checkpoints, nor did there appear to be anyone coming or going from the building marked 3. He decided to try the door in front of him. He opened it and walked inside. The lights inside were considerably lower than outside and he pulled off his sunglasses. As his eyes adjusted, he took in the specifics of the room, which he estimated to be about the size of an airplane hangar. Several groups of scenery were set up along with an area off to the left that looked like an office or conference room. A group of people had gathered around the tables there so he headed toward them.
A guy clad in faded jeans, a Nirvana t-shirt, Birkenstocks and assorted hemp jewelry broke away from the group as he saw Don approach. He pushed a strand of longish blonde-brown hair behind his ear has he extended his hand to Don.
"Hey, man. You have to be the Fed. Joe Halpern."
Don shook his hand. "Don Eppes, I'm with the FBI. You're Colby's friend?"
"Yeah. I've been expecting him. What's up? He's not in some kind of trouble or anything is he?"
Don explained about Colby's sudden illness and assured the man that his friend would be fine in a few days. "They decided to send me instead. I have to tell you, though. I've never done anything like this before. I have no idea what you're expecting." Don confided.
Joe brushed aside Don's apprehension. "Nah, it's not really a big deal. Most of the guys who consult do it to possibly get some screen time and earn their SAG card. When my buddy Bobby got the call that he had been green-lighted, I called Colby and asked if he wanted to advise. I'm guessing you haven't seen a script yet, huh?"
Don shook his head. "Is the movie about the FBI?"
Joe laughed. "Yeah, two of the three leads are agents and the third is a Federal Witness in their protective custody while awaiting the trial. The working title is Safe House. We aren't asking for any trade secrets or anything, but we want to make sure that it's believable. Bobby figures you guys will be a big part of our target audience, so we want to make sure we don't have any glaring mistakes."
"Ok, yeah. I think I can handle that. So is this a big-budget thriller or something?" Don asked.
Again Joe laughed. "You've never been on a movie set before, have you?"
"Am I that bad at this already?" Don blushed. "I think the last movie I watched in a theater was Braveheart or something."
"Well, you definitely have a lot to learn. But, to answer your question, no. We're considered indie, even though we're filming at a major studio. Warner does have an independent film division, but we're only marginally a part of that. Bobby's uncle is VP of popcorn sales or something, and he called in a favor to get us a soundstage and use of the lot for 30 days of shooting time as well as $750,000 from various financers. There's no distribution deal set up as of right now. That's part of the reason I called Colby. We have like no money to pay you."
Don waved his hand. "No big deal, my boss considers this 'on assignment.'" So much for movie star perks, he thought.
"On a big film there are a ton of crew members. I think we have 10 or 11, counting you. Bobby's little brother manages a Subway in Glendale, so that's our caterer. Tim, over there, usually runs a Steadicam on the sideline at Lakers games for the local FSN affiliate. This month, he's the DP."
Don turned his attention to a tall dark haired guy with black square rimmed glasses and skateboarding shoes. His curly hair poked out from the edges of his navy hoodie. Don estimated Tim's age at no more than 30 and marveled at his resemblance, somewhat physical but more the overall vibe, to Charlie. "DP?" he asked Joe.
"Director of photography. Most everyone knows it as cinematographer. He does good work. He's done some really great animated stuff over the past few years, too. He's hoping to get on at Pixar, but the Lakers job is paying the bills right now. Bobby was lucky to get him."
Don nodded and tried to pay attention as Joe rattled off names and positions for the rest of the crew. To Don, they all appeared artsy and unkempt, as well as under the age of 30. The more Joe explained the older and more out of place Don felt. Certainly the Director had no idea what he'd been sending Don to do.
"So, what do you do?" Don finally asked when he was able to get a word in.
"Stunt coordinator, although we don't really have stunt people. I guess that just means I'm in charge of choreographing fight sequences and consulting with you. I co-wrote the screenplay with Bobby, and I'm doing most of the art direction, too. Everyone has to wear a few hats." Joe explained as he led Don toward the group of kids assembled in front of him. Joe introduced Don to the entire group of about 15 people before everyone scattered across the hangar. Only Bobby and three others, an older man, a guy about Don's age and a girl, significantly younger, remained.
"Hey, thanks a lot for coming down. I hope your friend is well soon, but it's great to have you. We only have 30 days to shoot here, of which we've already used four to set up, so we really have to get started. I'm assuming you haven't read the script yet, so we'll get you a copy of that." Bobby Devlin took charge of the situation before Don could even say hello. He turned to the other two individuals still sitting at the long table. "These are our lead actors, Dominic Ramirez, Gareth Bakken and Shayne Carrigan."
The elderly man, Ramirez was right beside Don, so he turned to greet him. Bakken, a dark-haired but fair-skinned man who was playing the lead agent, stood to shake Don's hand. Even leaning across the table, Don could tell that the actor was a good bit taller than himself. Don was still unable to gauge how the man carried himself or how he would perform with a weapon in his hand. He hoped that the guy was at least a little bit athletic. That would certainly help the situation. As they shook hands, Don was impressed with the other man's firm grip and direct eye contact. He felt, at least initially, that Gareth Bakken would make a more than satisfactory FBI agent.
Shayne Carrigan, however, worried him. Petite and blonde with soft green eyes and a small, perfectly bowed mouth, she looked about as much like an agent as Little Bo Peep. She was also young and intensely pretty. Her smile was warm and inviting, but she ducked her eyes and quickly grasped and released his hand as they were introduced. Don thought that they would probably have been better off casting her as a kindergarten teacher. Yet, as she was turning away from him, she inadvertently knocked a cup off the edge of the table with her elbow. Don lunged for it, but Shayne's hand shot out quickly grabbing the cup before he could reach it or it fell, barely spilling any liquid on the floor. Don raised his eyebrows and studied this waif of a girl a little more closely. She didn't look the part, but he realized he had more to work with than he'd first assumed.
She blushed as she replaced the cup and waited for further instruction from the director. Don smiled at her, and this time the actress met his gaze and returned it with a smile of her own. Bobby offered Don and Joe seats and slid a script across to Don.
"I'm guessing you're going to need to read this first. We're going to go over some things with Gareth. Why don't you and Shayne head to the shooting range. She's a little out of practice." Bobby said as he turned to Shayne, "Then, when you get back, we'll have the walkthrough, ok?" She nodded.
Don agreed that sounded fine to him as Shayne was already collecting her jacket and bag.
"Any place in particular?" asked Don.
Bobby pondered for a second. "Um, I'm not sure. You know a place?"
Don nodded. "I have one in mind."
Bobby pulled out a wad of cash. "How much do you need?"
"A hundred should cover it," decided Don. Bobby handed over the money, and Don and Shayne headed out the door.
"Bring back the change!" Bobby called out to them as they exited.
They didn't even have an expense account? Don was pretty sure this month was going to be an adventure, but he still hadn't figured out what kind.