Author: FraidyCat

Disclaimer: I would hope that you each understand, at this point, that all things "numb3rs" began and remain as the property of Those Other People.

Summary: Look closely, and you will see a "Backwards Intervention". Dedicated to both dHall and AliceI, who whooped my ass in the "numb3rs" awards!

FraidyCat sighed, seeing another attachment from The Silent Rumble in her e-mail. How had she ever let this guy convince her to "beta" in the first place? She didn't even know what a "beta" was, for Pete's sake. Hopefully, like most of her university professors, it would be a while before he figured out she was faking it.

At least two dozen plot bunnies chased each other around her head, borrowing the wheel she kept there for the hamsters to exercise on all night -- when normal people slept. At least bunnies were quieter than hamsters, although the wheel still squeaked out its stacatto rhythms. "Stats Grandma dumped him in Poison Sumac," it seemed to tease. "You never thought of that." She started humming as she downloaded Rumble's document, trying to drown out the voices, but it didn't work. "Curtisbrothersfan has beaten him with a bat — twice. What kind of wuss are you?" She selected all the copy in the Word document and changed it to 24 point, so she could read it, and was momentarily distracted. Damn Glaucoma. Fraidy remembered when she used to type in 12 point, too...

Her thoughts jerked back to the action in her head at a particularly bitter laugh echoing in the largely empty space. "I won't even start on Serialgal. I mean, come on, piano wire? Drugs? Withdrawal? Psychosis? That's a bad day, right there."

She growled and slammed her right ear with the palm of her right hand. It hurt like hell, but maybe it would shut the damn wheel up, for a minute.

Fat chance.

This time it snickered derisevely. "Admit it. You couldn't even read that last chapter from 2headsarebetter -- not all of it, anyway. One little squeal outta that baby, and you were worthless. Gone. Some tough bitch you are."

"SHUT-UP!", she screamed, pounding on the desk. "Dammit...won't that kid ever learn to spell?" Frustrated, she saved the document for the seventh time since she had downloaded it (careful...one always had to be careful...), looking up quickly at a knock on the door. Why would they be here? Even the wheel knew they had no issue with her right now, and plenty of other places to go... She arose from the desk and approached the door cautiously. There was that whole "Shadows" thing, but damn, it was short -- and probably the best thing she ever wrote. Even AliceI said so. Surely they weren't here because of that? She tried to think. Had they been here since the whole permanent paralysis thing? Maybe that was it.

She squared her shoulders and prepared to open the door boldly. She was standing behind both of those stories. She had given them a lot of good material to work with, there. Not bothering with the peephole, she nearly ripped the door off its hinges. "What is it now??!!", she demanded, before she even got a good look at who was in the hallway.

Charlie winced, visibly affected by the Salsa Verde Doritos¨ she had consumed for breakfast. He reached a shaky hand toward the door frame, seeking support, and she noted with interest that he was alone. She peered over his shoulder. "Where are they? Drawing a bead on me from a rooftop across the street?"

He shook his head, miserable. "I came alone," he whispered, and she narrowed her eyes to study him. The poor man looked like crap. Three-day-stubble on his unshaven face, unruly dark curls in disarray...actually, the dude looked damn hot, in a vulnerable, exhausted sort of way.

She stepped back a little to allow him access to the room. "Perhaps you'd like to come in," FraidyCat purred. "I have a nice couch. We...I mean, you...you could rest."

He hung his head and shook it morosely. "No, thank-you," he rasped out. "I'm supposed to meet Don at Serialgal's in five minutes." He looked up and huffed in disgust. "We had to flip a damn coin on this one. Why are so many people trying to kill me?"

She crossed her arms under her sagging bosom and propped it up a bit, hoping that might change his mind about the couch. "So...what can I do for you, then? You have no business here. To speak of."

Charlie seemed fixated by her bosom a moment, regarding it as if it was a live thing that could smother him at any instant. (Which, frankly, just might happen. But that would be an "M" rated story.) Finally, he shook himself a little and glanced over his shoulder, to make sure he was still alone. He looked back at The Cat and began to twist one foot in the carpet self-consciously. He blushed, and Fraidy almost had to seek the door frame for support herself. "Um... That's kind-of why I'm here..." His voice became low, and more raspy, and FraidyCat unconsciously closed her eyes. If he noticed, it didn't stop him from continuing. "Um...are you mad at me?"

Her eyes popped back open.

What did he just say? "What did you just say?" Cat was so surprised, she dropped her arms and her ample bosom approached her waistline, again.

Charlie tore fascinated eyes away from the spectacle, assuring himself he would work out the numbers on that one, later. "Well...it's just that...you've kind-of been leaving me alone, for a while."

FraidyCat laughed, a short, deranged, unbelieving burst. "Are you kidding? This is a backwards intervention because you've missed me beating the hell out of you for a few weeks?" He blushed again, and looked back at his feet, and didn't answer. Unable to stop herself, she reached out and ruffled his hair. She was taken aback by her borderline disgust -- it wasn't at all the tactile pleasure she had expected it to be. Rather, she probably wouldn't have to buy hair gel for years, if she harvested what was on that hand... She drew her hand back, rubbing it on her jeans, and smiled at Charlie. "You are one sick puppy, you know that? Adorable, but sick. Good thing Serialgal's got you in therapy already."

His eyes met hers again quickly, then flashed away, and fear suddenly played across his features. "You will be back, right? I mean, you can't leave me out here. I don't know if these other maniacs will put me back together, and it's scaring me, and I need someone I can trust." He finally looked back at her, almost-black eyes locked on her brown ones. "You understand, right?"

Fraidy's heart melted more quickly than even Adam's cries had managed, and she turned and walked quickly toward her desk. "Sweetie, look, Grandmother brought me some cookies. You can have some, for the trip." She grabbed the plastic bowl of Oreos¨ -- she never said her Granmother actually made the cookies -- and turned so quickly to return to the door that the torn lateral meniscus in her right knee protested. The knee buckled, and she collasped in an awkward heap of crushed Oreos¨ at Charlie's feet. He regarded her bulk with apprehension. "I wish Don was here," he murmured. "Or Colby. Maybe both of them."

She glared at him and rolled until she could use the door frame to pull herself up. "Thanks," she said sarcastically. "You're such a gentleman."

A slow smile lit up his face as he took a step back and prepared for flight. "Guess you;re right," he said conversationally. "That was pretty rude of me. You may have to pay me back."

FraidyCat's mouth hung open. Was this pipsqueak trying to dare her? Dare The Cat? What was he thinking?

,P> He smiled at her again, and winked before he turned and ran down the hall. FraidyCat leaned against the doorframe and watched, and listened to the beat of her heart: whump-whump...whump-whump...whump-whump...