Q Is For Quagga

Disclaimer: I do not own "Numb3rs." I just like to play in the sandbox. I swear I don't mess it up that much;) I also do not own the trademarks for Scrabble or Scattergories.

"No, it's not real."

The moment he said it, he knew he was in trouble. In a flash the pleased light in her dark eyes turned in to a glare. She clenched her teeth together and her stubborn chin jutted forward.

"Yes!" Seven-year-old Holly Eppes angrily pushed her chair away from the table. Before her father, uncle, or grandfather could react, she was running upstairs.

"Now you've done it, Chuck," Don groaned, but he was smiling. In a moment his daughter would return and put her uncle in his place. While his younger brother had always been a genius with numbers, his daughter was proving to be a genius with words, especially when it came to science and animals. Don already learned it didn't pay to contradict Holly when it came to the Animal Kingdom.

"Well, I've never heard of it," Charlie said defensively, not realizing he was in for the same lesson.

"Yeah, well I never knew of all your mathematical jargon when you started working with me," Don pointed out.

"You still don't," Charlie teased.

"I'm not disagreeing," Don said.

"I think the point is, Charlie, that Holly knows and you didn't believe her," Alan said putting his two cents in before his boys—they would always be so to him—could start bickering.

"And you're refusing to let her count it," Don added.

"I'm just wondering why I never heard of a 'Quagga.'"

"Not many people have since they're extinct," Don said just as Holly returned, bringing her father's laptop.

"So I was partially right," Charlie said. "It doesn't exist."

"But it did!" Holly almost shoved the laptop in front of her uncle, the webpage she wanted him to see on the screen.

"Easy there, Holly," Don said. "Uncle Charlie didn't know."

Holly gave her father and uncle a look that clearly asked why not?

"Remember I'm a numbers guy," Charlie said.

Holly thought about this a moment, then nodded. "Okay. But you see, right? It is an animal."

Up until then Charlie had not been looking at the webpage, but at his niece who was clearly her father's daughter. And an Eppes; after all, all of them when determined to prove their point had an edge to their gaze. Finally looking at the webpage he saw a picture of an animal that looked like a zebra. It had the markings of one starting at the front of the animal's body but as one looked at the rest of it, the stripes faded and the rest was brown.

"Huh. Looks like a zebra to me," Charlie said after a moment.

"It's a subspecies. See, these were first classified as Equus quagga. Then came the plains zebra, or the common zebra. There are three other species. Anyway, by the time it was realized the two were related the quagga was extinct. The last wild one was killed in the late 1870's and the last one in captivity died in 1883," Holly explained.

Charlie blinked. "You seem to know a lot about this animal."

"I did a report for school."

"What else do you know about zebras?"

"Charlie…" Don said warningly.

"They don't start with Q," Holly said, causing Don and Alan to laugh. She ignored them. There was only one thin she wanted her uncle to say.

"Okay, okay. You win. You can tally 'Quagga,'" Charlie relented, giving his niece a hug.

Holly grinned.

Later that night after Holly was asleep, Don, Charlie, and their father were sitting in the den. If it weren't for the knowledge that Holly was upstairs sleeping along with her cousins, the sons and father could easily believe they were nine years in the past after the brothers closed one of Don's FBI cases. And there would still be that one issue that Charlie never really resolved.

"At least you know you didn't lose because we were playing Scrabble," Alan said.

"No. We lost because of the quagga."

"No, Charlie," Don said. "We lost because we were playing Scattergories and my girl knows her words…and quaggas."

END