Title: Roles Reversed
Summary: 'Your brother's in danger. You should keep an eye on him.'
Warnings: For the moment none. There's angst though.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of the show 'Numb3rs'
Copyright: Sarah Diaz 2007
Chapter 1: The Call
With a sigh, Don grabbed the next file and opened it, scanning the report. Things were slow at the office at the moment. Too slow, if you asked Don. Not that he longed for a murder case or something else gruesome - but as it was, he was bored. They had solved their last case almost eight days ago and no new one had arrived, leaving him with nothing to do than catch up on his paperwork. The most excitement he had had today was that apart from signing off reports from the last five cases, he had put in a request for a new computer terminal for Colby as his old one seemed to have caught a virus that had frayed the hard disc.
Signing off the report, Don put it aside and grabbed the next file.
Damn it, he hadn't joined the FBI to do paperwork!
His phone rang and with great relief, he snatched it up, hoping that it was a new case. "Eppes."
"Your brother's in danger. You should keep an eye on him."
Immediately tensing, Don sat up straight, frowning. "Who's this?" he bellowed into the phone.
His only answer was a soft click.
For a moment, Don just stared at the phone, unsure what to think of this call. Perhaps some idiot wanted to play a prank on him - though, the voice, deep and well mannered, had sounded fairly serious. Slowly, Don put the phone down, thinking. Or it could be some real warning. But from who? And why?
Your brother's in danger.
His fingers twitched as he recalled the caller's words. The least he liked in all this was that Charlie had been mentioned. The single thing he feared most was the possibility of his little brother getting hurt and even worse, because of Don. Of course he worried also about his father, always, but if it came down on it, it was Charlie's well being that was the most important thing to Don. As much as he loved his dad, it was unavoidable that at some point, Don would loose him to age, hopefully only in many, many years. But Charlie, Charlie was supposed to always be there, to actually survive him. He was the younger brother. The least he owed Don was to spare his brother the horror of having to loose his only brother.
Of course Don knew that this was quite naive. He knew better than anyone just how short life could be and how fast it could turn to the worst. It came with the job. But it didn't matter. This was his little brother. Charlie had to be fine and live forever and basta.
Your brother's in danger.
And now this. What was he supposed to do with this call? What danger? From the man who had called? From someone else? But who? And if something was supposed to happen, when?
You should keep an eye on him.
And what was that supposed to mean? Was it a taunt for Don or a honest warning? He always kept an eye on his brother, anyone who knew him was well aware of that. With his job, plus Charlie consulting for him and God knew who else, he had no choice but to be extra careful with his little brother's security.
Damn it! What the hell should he do now?
He should have been singing choirs for being able to do paperwork, thought Don as he snatched up the phone again, quickly dialing the FBI's very own computer geek division.
"Hey Matt, do me a favor: I just got a call on my service line. Can you check it up, give me the number it came from?" he asked, restraining himself from nervously tapping onto his desk.
"Sure, just a sec," Matt said bored and Don could hear the tech's fingers flying over the keyboard.
Willing his own fingers to be calm, Don could do nothing to prevent his right leg to nervously twist while he waited for Matt to finish his search.
"Uh... did you say you got that call just now?" Matt asked after a minute, a slight frown noticeable even in his voice.
"Yeah," Don answered impatiently. "Few minutes ago."
"You sure? 'Cause I got your line on my screen right now and the last call coming in is listed at ten seventeen am," Matt responded doubtfully.
Don's frown was back. It was three fifteen in the afternoon now. "That's ridiculous. I just talked to that guy. Admittedly barely thirty seconds, but I sure as hell haven't hallucinated that."
"Perhaps dreamed? Heard you guys have nothing to do right now. Wouldn't surprise me if you've taken a little nap," Matt countered, snorting.
Don gritted his teeth. "No!" he snapped. "It was real. There are any reasons why the call's not listed?"
"Nah, not really. It's not uncommon that we can't get the number but the call should still be here on my list," Matt answered nonchalantly.
"Well, then you better find out how it was possible. I didn't imagine this call," Don ordered him, unnerved, and ended the connection, not giving Matt a chance to throw something more in, undoubtedly another bad joke.
Again, he stared blindly at his file while he thought about this clear and yet strange warning. Making a quick decision, Don reached for his cell and speed dialed his brother.
"This is Dr Charles Eppes. I'm unattainable at the moment, so please leave a message."
With a curse, Don disconnected the call only to quickly redial, listening to the message once again, this time though leaving a message.
"Hey Buddy, you're probably in class. Give me a quick call once you're out."
He fought to keep it casual, but he was well aware that some urgency had still managed to steal itself into his voice. Which was good. He really wanted Charlie to call him back the second he had listened to this message.
In fact, what he really wanted was to call it a day and head out to CalSci and see for himself that his brother was just fine. He was already half out of his seat when the agent in him stopped him to berate him in a hard, commanding tone to not be ridiculous. Some guy had probably just wanted to play him a prank. This short call surely was not reason enough to leave work so early.
Debating with the agent for a moment, the worried big brother finally gave in and Don sank back down, frowning at the phone. If he found out that that had just been a prank and he got his hands on the idiot...
Slowly, Don reached for another file and forced himself to concentrate on the report in his hands.
But he couldn't help it - the call left him on edge.
Still more than just a bit uneasy about the whole thing, Don jumped a little at his name. With a frown he saw his partner standing beside him. He glanced at the clock on the wall. 16:33. And Charlie had yet to call back. Then again, he did have a lot of classes and it was well possible that he was still lecturing at this moment - or doing office hours. And Matt hadn't found out anything either. According to him, there was no phone call. Heck, part of Don was ready to believe he really had imagined that damn call.
"Yeah?" he answered distractedly.
When she failed to give a response he looked up at Megan. He took in her worried expression and the obvious hesitation in her eyes and composure and felt his stomach clench.
"What?" he snapped.
His sharp tone snapped Megan out of her momentarily uncertainness and she was quick to answer her boss. "I just got off the phone with Larry. Don - there was an incident at campus today."
Don's eyes narrowed as more of his intestines drew together in dread. "Incident?"
Megan nodded and reluctantly met his eyes. "There was a shooting."
"What?!" exploded Don as he jumped up, fear gnawing at his every fiber of being. "Charlie?"
Megan quickly nodded. "He's fine," she assured him and Don's heart started to beat again. "At least Larry's fairly certain about that."
His heartbeat stopped once again. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Megan cringed. "Look, I don't have all the details, just what Larry told me and he was... well you know how he is. But from what I got, there had been fired two shots, the first grazing Charlie slightly, the second doing no harm as everyone dove for cover." When she saw her boss go alarmingly pale at the mention of the graze, she mentally cursed herself. Damn it, she was a profiler, not to mention a FBI-agent. She really should have been able to do this better. But truth was that the news had shocked Megan as well and it wasn't the same to bring some stranger bad if not terrible news as to have to tell her boss, partner and friend that his little brother, also a dear friend of hers, had been shot at and hurt. "It's really just a knick on his upper left arm, the paramedics didn't even take Charlie back to the hospital."
At that little bit of information, Don narrowed his eyes to slits and snatched up his jacket. Like hell wouldn't Charlie go and let that bullet wound properly be checked out. His baby brother probably had played everything down and those dense paramedics had bought it. He knew Charlie. That was just what his brother would do - and achieve getting away with. And Don would head out there to the campus to go fetch his brother and bring him straight to the hospital, no matter how much Charlie protested.
Charlie had been shot. His little brother... Don's heart constricted painfully, but he willed the panic down. He just needed to get to CalSci ASAP and see Charlie. See for himself that he was really still alive.
"Where are you going?"
Don didn't even bother to answer that stupid question as he strolled over to the elevators, strapping on his holster.
But Megan hurried after him and grabbed his arm. "Don, wait. Charlie's not at CalSci anymore."
That stopped him dead in his track as he looked back at his profiler. What? But... "Where is he?"
"Larry said he left with some detectives to go give his statement," Megan hurried to inform him.
His eyes narrowed some more, if that was still possible. What the hell... His brother had been shot and some harebrained detectives took him in to take his statement? Were those guys crazy? When he got to face them, they sure would hear an earful from him about just what the hell they had been thinking. And then he would pull rank or jurisdiction. Charlie was the brother of an FBI-agent and consulted himself for the FBI. That made this the business of the Bureau. His business. Hell, he should have been notified right away, before...
His rambling thoughts came to a complete still stand. Wait a minute...
Don glared at Megan. "Just when did this happen?" he demanded to know in a low, clipped voice.
Megan swallowed, knowing only too well that Don was not going to like this. "A little over three hours ago."
Three hours? Three fucking hours? His brother had been shot three hours ago and Don only learned now of that shooting? By coincidence none the less?
"That's why Larry called me. He wanted to know if everything was all right. He said he had been slightly surprised that you hadn't shown up within half an hour of the shooting," Megan continued quietly.
Trembling with rage and worry, Don clenched his jaw. Larry was right to be puzzled. That was exactly how it should have been, him being notified immediately and at the scene as fast as possible. Instead... Having the job he had, Don had long ago arranged that he was to be informed immediately if something happened to his father, brother, their cars, at their home or at the campus. Why the hell hadn't dispatch informed him? And even more importantly - why the fuck had Charlie not called him the first second he could? His ingenious brother should know better than to not notify Don immediately after something like that had happened.
Grinding his teeth, Don had to do all but not explode right then and there. Turning, Don stormed back to his desk. "Find out to which station they took him - and get me the names of those boneheads who took him there in the first place," he bellowed as he snatched up the phone to try Charlie's cell again.
Voice mail again.
"Call me. ASAP," Don hissed into the phone, then disconnected to try the house. Perhaps Charlie was already home after all. No such luck though. All he got was the answering machine. Cursing, Don left another message for Charlie to call him right away. Next he tried his father's cell. Perhaps he was with Charlie after all, having been called by Larry. After five rings he was just about to hang up when suddenly, his father's breathless voice answered.
Don didn't loose any time. "Dad, is Charlie with you?"
"No, why should he? He's got classes until seven then will probably work at least for another couple of hours. I just got out of a meeting myself." His father paused. "Why?"
So their father had no clue that Charlie had been shot. For a second, Don contemplated to fill him in, but really just for a tiny moment. Their father didn't need to be worried right away. First, Don wanted to get all the facts himself. And damn it, he needed to see Charlie! Where was he?
At his father's concerned question, Don snapped back to the present. He forced himself to calm down, if only briefly. "Nothing Dad, I just need to talk to him."
"Well, try his cell."
"Voice mail," Don answered shortly. "I thought perhaps he was with you. Sorry to have disturbed you."
"You never disturb me, son," his dad immediately corrected him.
Don smiled. "I know. Okay, see you later, Dad."
"You coming to dinner?" Alan asked hopefully.
Don sighed. "I don't think I can make it. But I'll try."
Chances were high that Don would go to his childhood home at some point today though. It all depended on Charlie and how fast he could find him. After that... Don wasn't sure what he'd do then. See that Charlie really was fine. Then strangle him for giving Don such a scare. Then kill him for not calling Don right away. And then kill him again for not keeping him up to date on his whereabouts after he had been shot for Heaven's sake!
"Good enough. Bye, Donnie," his father said.
"Bye Dad," Don responded and ended the call.
He glanced over at Megan who was still at the phone and slumped back into his chair. Damn it all! He needed to be out there, find out what happened, and most importantly, find Charlie. Instead, he was contained here with nothing to do than to imagine the worst scenarios. What if Charlie had been seriously hurt and it was more than a graze? What if the shooter was still after Charlie, perhaps aiming a gun at his head right this moment?
And just what had happened exactly? Who had shot, who had been the target? Was it random or was Charlie supposed to be hit?
To be killed?
Your brother's in danger. You should keep an eye on him.
Don stared at the phone and let out a low growl. Was this what the caller had wanted to warn him about? But according to Megan, he had received the call almost two hours after the shooting had taken place. Why warn him afterwards? Why not warn him ahead? Unless it was the shooter himself. Then he probably had had a special fun in giving him that call. Or was Charlie still in danger?
God, he needed to find him!
Why hadn't Don trusted his brotherly instincts and gone out right away to see after Charlie? Okay, he still would have been too late to prevent the shooting but perhaps he at least could have caught Charlie at the scene and he wouldn't be sitting here now, going through hell while waiting on a word on Charlie's whereabouts.
His head snapped up to focus on Megan's confused and worried face. Don's heart accelerated. "Did you get his location?"
She shook her head. "No. Don - I talked with dispatch. They have no recording of a shooting taking place at CalSci. The police never was called in on it."
Don just stared at her, dumbfounded. Then, panic and fear overwhelmed him with a vengeance.
No call in of the shooting?
It took three tries until he managed to make his throat work. "Then... Then who did Charlie leave with?" he all but whispered.
Megan had no other answer to offer him than a helpless shrug.
(Author's Note: 5 days! 5 days I was unable to upload anything - and no means to get help! Grrr! But well, now it's working again and I hope it stays that way! Okay, hope you like this one. More soon - if they let me load it, that is...)