Etude In Eppes Minor
Disclaimer: I do not own "Numb3rs." I am only playing with the characters while tossing in a few of my own here and there.
AN: This is for luvnumb3rs who got me started on the whole future Eppes track after "Q is for Quagga."
"Something's wrong." Immediately nine pairs of eyes focused on Amita Ramanujan-Eppes.
"Is it the baby?" Charlie Eppes asked, placing a protective hand over her stomach. She was five months along, two months behind Special Agent Liz Warner-Eppes.
"No, no," Amita quickly assured her husband, sister-brother-father-and-stepmother-in-laws, and the two other FBI agents present with their spouses. "The baby is fine. It's the other two and their cousins I'm worried about."
"Well, Trey, Tania, and Leo are accounted for," David Sinclair informed them. Trey was his and Claudia's fifteen-year-old adopted son while Tania was their six-year-old daughter. Leopold, or Leo as he was called, was the nine-year-old son of Megan and Larry Fleinhardt. The Eppes considered all the kids and their parents to be family.
Don was about to ask how David knew when he heard the tell-tale sign of a ball bouncing on the pavement followed by Trey and Leo's challenging—yet teasing—barbs. Tania could be heard laughing. The three unaccounted for were his daughter Holly and his brother's twins Shiri and Aaron, seven and five-years-old respectively. The last time he had seen them they had been in the back with the adults playing a game.
And that had been a little over an hour ago.
"Don…" Liz's voice was laced with worry.
He was worried too. "I'm sure they're fine, Liz. Amita. David, Megan, can you see if your kids have seen them recently?" He automatically asked his agents. It didn't hurt that they were also their parents.
"Sure, Don." Megan and David got up and went to speak with their children. They returned a few minutes later shaking their heads.
"They say they haven't seen them. Said Trey was teaching them to play basketball the entire time," David reported.
"So they haven't seen the twins or Holly," Don said to confirm.
"Maybe they're just playing Hide-And-Seek," Millie suggested. "In the house and we're supposed to go find them. I used to do that when I was little."
"And what happened when you were found?" Charlie asked before he could stop himself. He really didn't want to know.
"First I was hugged until I couldn't breathe and then I was scolded and warned not to do it again."
"Sounds about right to me," Alan Eppes said, looking at his sons.
"We never-!" Don was indignant.
"You did," Alan said. "Even dragged Charlie in to it once."
"Don did this more than once?" Liz asked.
"Don't worry," Alan said, correctly interpreting his daughter-in-law's tone. "He only did it three times."
"As much as I'm intrigued to hear about the Eppes brothers' childhood, perhaps it would be wiser to begin our search to know that this is indeed just an ill-planned game of Hide-And-Seek and not something more dire," Larry interrupted before the conversation could continue in such a manner.
"Larry's right," Amita, Claudia, Megan, and Liz chorused.
"Maternal instinct," Alan and Larry said at Don and Charlie's surprised expressions. David chuckled, apparently having learned the lesson earlier with his sister and her kids, Claudia, and admittedly his—albeit paternal instinct—experience before adopting Trey.
"Okay. Liz, why don't you and Amita search downstairs while David and I go upstairs? Charlie, Larry, and Megan can search the garage," Don practically ordered.
"Don, you know Amita and Liz are supposed to be taking it easy," Millie scolded gently as his wife and Amita glared at him.
"I know you're used to being in charge, Don, but this is my house," Charlie said.
Don opened his mouth to protest but then closed it. Charlie was right, and today was one of the few days he, Megan, David, and Liz had off. Surely he could let someone else take charge, like his brother or father…
When it wasn't his daughter, nephew, and niece! Still, "Okay, Charlie. You decide who goes where."
Charlie blinked in surprise. "It's okay, Don. It was fine before except for making our wives search when they're supposed to be taking it easy. Megan, do you mind checking downstairs?"
"'Course not, Charlie."
"I'll help," Millie volunteered. "Your father can stay here with Liz, Amita, and Claudia." The declaration made all of them chuckle.
"I can see I don't have much say in this," Alan pretended to huff.
And with that the adults moved in on the house. Millie and Megan searched all the rooms and closets downstairs while Don and David searched upstairs. However when the pairs met in the den, it was clear neither had luck.
"Let's hope Larry and Charlie have better luck in the garage," Don said, the unspoken lingering in all their minds.