Numb3rs – Failure

Disclaimer – I don't own them, I just borrowed them. Numb3rs and its characters are the property of those that created them. No copyright infringement intended. Telford, however, is mine.

CHAPTER 1

For about the tenth time that hour Don looked at his watch again. Almost time. He paced back and forth as he waited in the darkened room. His charge sat on a couch nearby watching some football game on the television, seemingly oblivious to the care and effort being taken on his behalf.

His charge was Danny Hendrik, a criminal turned informant demanding protection in return for giving evidence against his boss. From the moment they had arrived in this room he had complained about the room, then about the inability of the FBI to look after him properly before sitting himself down in front of the TV and started demanding room service. Don had steadfastly refused to run up any more dollars on his credit card, especially for someone who was treating him like dirt. It wasn't like he wouldn't get a full refund from the FBI, he would, it was just the principle of it. The atmosphere in the room was tense as a result but Don didn't care.

Guarding informants was not normally Don's line of work but staff were running short. It just had to be today, Don thought. The day that the FBI was running a training exercise predominantly for junior staff. As a result the FBI office was virtually operating on a skeleton crew. Don knew that his entire office was almost deserted, with the offices on other floors probably just as empty. Plus, the agents running this case had been completely unprepared for their suspect to roll over like this. As the case agents had to start jumping through the necessary hoops to get the immunity and protection organised for their suspect, now informant, they had asked a favour of Don.

So he had spirited the ungrateful informant out of FBI headquarters in one of the non-descript surveillance vehicles, bringing him here to this hotel a few blocks away. Not too flash, not exactly flea-bag either. Now he had to wait, he checked his watch again, hopefully only a few more minutes until his relief was sent to take over. That had been the deal, he would get the informant out and safe to a hotel and they would find someone from their staff to do the baby sitting within an hour. The informants attitude had made the hour drag interminably.

Finally there was a knock at the door. Taking no chances Don drew his gun, and tapping the informant on the shoulder motioned him to move into the bedroom off the lounge area. The informant looked pained at leaving the ball game but Don was in no mood to put up with any more of his nonsense. He raised his gun hand slightly and Hendriks got the message and moved. Don had nothing to do with the case and until the deal came through as far as he was concerned the man was still a suspect in his custody.

Don approached the spy-hole in the door. He'd earlier drawn the blinds to darken the room so that when this time came he would not give away his position at the door by his shadow passing over the lens. Agents had been killed that way in the past. A shadow on the lens and the enemy knew someone was behind the door and it was a simple matter then to shoot through the door and take out the agent.

A man stood in the hallway, dressed in a dark suit that practically screamed FBI. He was standing calmly, holding up an ID card and FBI badge. The agent waited a few seconds longer then slowly stepped back a couple of small steps until he was at least halfway across the hall. Don watched as the agents eyes flicked to each side as he waited. It was standard procedure, straight out of the rule book. By the relief agent stepping back he allowed the agent in the room to see if someone was standing beside or behind him holding him under threat.

"Yes?" Don asked after the few moments of quiet observation.

"Agent Telford." The man announced quietly putting away the badge and stepping forward. "Sorry agent, but there was no coffee downstairs."

Don finally relaxed. That was another standard code, no coffee meant there were no problems. If the agent was under duress he wouldn't have made mention of coffee at all. Using coffee as a code was just an in-joke, since coffee was officially one of the food groups for law enforcement officers. After one last automatic check to the limits provided by the spy hole he holstered his gun and opened the door.

Don started to step back expecting the other agent to follow him into the room but Telford stuck his hand out for a handshake. "How did you get lumbered with this job?" Telford asked pleasantly.

Don automatically stepped forward and reached out his right hand and started to say 'hello'. But the handshake turned into a grab. Don was yanked forward by the grip on his right hand causing him to overstep and put him off balance. He tried to pull his hand free from the other man's sudden vice-like grip. He almost succeeded when he became aware of a movement to his left. The sudden blinding pain to the side of his head made him forget about his hand, made him forget about nearly everything as all he could see was stars. He barely registered himself being pushed back into the room and falling to the floor. After the initial roaring sound in his ears Don could hear just fine but found it hard to concentrate or open his eyes. Or get off the floor as he felt waves of pain and dizziness, his arms and legs refusing to cooperate. He heard the door slam. His mind finally stated to kick back in, replaying the last half second. He remembered seeing the gun barrel just before it hit him on the left temple.

"No!" Came the panicked voice of Hendrik. "I never told them nothing. I wasn't going to tell them nothing!"

There were sounds of a struggle coming from the bedroom, the informant continuing to deny helping the FBI. Don remembered why he was there and what he was supposed to be doing, protecting the informant. Don tried to open his eyes and managed to catch a glimpse of a pair of shoes, no, they were brown boots, standing near him but pointed away.

Come on Agent, get a grip! Don thought furiously to himself. He took a deep breath and lifting his head he shook it to clear it. Surprisingly that seemed to help and he opened his eyes again.

Mustering his strength he finally got his limbs to move and lifted himself from a prone position up onto his hands and knees. Balancing himself on his left arm he swept his right hand back to his holster. He actually touched the butt of his gun but a sudden kick to his side caused his breath to explode from his lungs and he fell heavily back onto the floor, his head thumping onto the minimal protection of the carpet. His vision started to go black as his body automatically curled onto his left side to protect his ribs from further assault. Unfortunately he was lying on his left side leaving his holster exposed and too late he felt the hand drawing his gun. His right arm shot out to grab for his gun but a second kick to his back near his kidneys stopped him as his back arched in pain.

Don lay on the floor eyes closed and gasping, unsure where he hurt the most. A few seconds passed and a hand grabbed him by the collar of his shirt hauling him up. He was being strangled by his own weight until he managed to get his hands and knees under him. The pressure on his collar eased and he was held steady. He discovered he was too dizzy to raise his head and so could only stare at the boots and lower half of the legs of the man standing to his right. He just managed a glance upwards and saw a gun being held by Boot's right hand, not pointed at him but ready. He had no idea where his own gun had gone.

In the next room Don could hear the informant being questioned. He looked over to his left but couldn't see anything through the doorway. There was just the one man guarding Don but he was too weak to do anything about it just then. He was frustrated, he knew this was his best opportunity, who knew how many men were in the other room, but he just couldn't act.

The informant was continuing to deny everything. "I just told them I'd turn evidence so that they would take me outside. I was trying to get to a phone to warn Soren!"

"So why didn't you ring him?" Came a measured voice that Don identified as Telford's.

"That pig FBI agent out there was watching me like a hawk. I couldn't get to it." The informant insisted, sounding more confident. Then added hopefully: "Did Soren send you to get me out?"

"Now, why would Soren do that?" Telford asked a somewhat smug tone to his voice. "He doesn't even know you were taken this morning."

"W-what?" The informant seemed taken aback and his voice came out with a quaver. "Who are you? Why are you here?"

"We are here to prevent a miscarriage of justice, Mr Hendrik. You have committed too many crimes to get off this lightly." Telford explained, warming to his topic. "You think you can turn State's Evidence and get a nice new name and a nice new house so you can start all over again."

"No!" The informant's voice suddenly rose sharply in panic. "No, don't!"

"Goodbye." Telford said politely.

A moment later a single gunshot silenced the informant. Don then heard a sickening thud as if a body had just hit the floor. Don knew the informant was dead, executed by Telford.

Don's body went into adrenalin overdrive, his heart started racing and his arms and legs trembled with the need to run, to fight, to get away. His turn was next, he knew it but he was still unable to prevent it. He was recovering from the kicks and the blow to his head but not enough. He started moving anyway but Boot's twisted and tightened his grip on Don's collar making it difficult to breathe as his shirt tightened around his neck. The material also put pressure on Don's carotid arteries and he started to feel light headed as the blood flow was restricted. It was an effective variant on a neck restraint designed to rapidly incapacitate an opponent. He felt himself starting to go limp.

Don heard footsteps approaching as world darkened. Don was pulled sharply upwards by his collar forcing him up to his knees. Boot's grip lessened, untwisting, allowing blood to flow through the arteries again. The effect was immediate and oxygen reached his starved brain. Don wobbled, still dizzy and now shaking from the extra adrenalin in his system but he was able to see and breathe again. But he knew that if the man let go he would fall, unable to maintain his own balance. Don tried to control his breathing, to regain control of himself. Come on Donny, he thought to himself, get it together. His life depended on it.