This is a plot I've been thinking about for quite some time. It's not a one-shot and it's not my next big story. This story should be fairly short. You should have watched the episode Backscatter before reading this. It takes place right after Don told Charlie he couldn't work on the case anymore after the Russian mob made it into Charlie's house and his classroom. I won't focus much on the FBI side, but Charlie's side of the story. Of course there will be enough so you know what's going on, but I'm not good at using the right terminology when it comes to the FBI case. Besides, you've seen the episode. LOL I hope you enjoy this. I really like the idea.
NOTE: The dialogue in the first line and the lines from "As soon as the security team is done sweeping the house, I can let you guys back in. We'll keep a few agents posted out front" to "You know what? The FBI is not the only game in town" is directly from the episode. It was not from my head. I did not make it up. It belongs to the writers of the episode Backscatter. Not me! Also, as always, I do not own the actors, characters, writers, plots, episodes, or the actual TV show Numb3rs. It's not mine. 'Kay?
"You're done, you hear me? You're done!"
Charlie watched as his brother stormed off after he and his family had had a fight due to the Russian mob threatening their family. Don had made it perfectly clear he didn't want Charlie working on the case any more. After having two strangers appear in his applied mathematics class, Charlie had wondered if he'd want to work on the case. Throwing that thought away quickly, he knew that there was no way he could just stop. And Don telling him he had to didn't change that.
He turned to his father who was shaking his head in disgust. Alan fixed his gaze on his son's face, a stern look in his eyes.
"You had better listen to your brother this time. This has gone way too far."
"Oh, come on, Dad! You can't actually be taking Don's side!"
"Yes, I can! You could have been killed today! Cool it for a while with this case!"
Charlie threw his hands up, defeated and marched out of the house and into the garage. He rolled his eyes when he saw the FBI agent guarding the door. When it was declared "safe," Charlie was allowed in his own garage. He couldn't believe what he had to put up with. Angrily, he grabbed a piece of chalk and wrote furiously on the chalkboard, unable to listen to his family about cooling it with the FBI for a while. Once he was started on a problem, he wasn't going to stop without a fight. He worked throughout the day, into the night, and then to the next morning before he finally stopped. His father wasn't up yet when he left for CalSci, an agent close on his tail at all times. With an agent outside his office or classroom, depending on where he was, Charlie made it through the day safely. Truly irked by that point, he went back to his work in the garage, finding intruders lurking there.
"What are you doing here?"
"Charlie, they just want to make sure the house is safe, get any prints out of it that they can. That sort of thing," his father explained. Alan turned to David for confirmation and got a nod in reply.
Meanwhile, Amita was walking along the walls of the room, covered with chalkboards with his current game theory work for the FBI. Charlie could see the recognition in her eyes and prayed she wouldn't say anything about it in front of David.
Charlie pushed his way to the chalkboards, not bothering to stop for manners. He had work to do. This case had become too personal for him to just drop, like Don wanted him to. If his brother had paid even the slightest bit of attention to him he would understand that he couldn't. But Don was Don and he didn't notice things like that.
"Can I help?" Amita asked.
"Not... not right now. Okay?" Charlie tried to be kind, since Amita hadn't done anything to hurt him. She nodded in understanding and backed away, sitting on the couch and pulling her laptop open.
David and Alan entertained each other while Charlie worked and Amita worked on her laptop. Charlie continued his work until he had a moment to talk to Amita without David and Alan hearing the whole conversation. David stepped out to talk to another agent and Alan had fallen asleep sitting up on the couch.
"Amita." Charlie motioned her over with his hands. She set her laptop down and stood to move to him.
"Look, I could use your help. Whether they like it or not, I'm working on this case. I think it would be a much better use of our time if you could help me."
Without any hesitation, Amita agreed. "Okay. What do you need my help with?"
Charlie set Amita up with work on her laptop, while he continued at the chalkboards. It wasn't for another two hours that he stopped, and then it was only because his father told him to.
"Come sit by me," Alan said, patting the cushion next to him.
Sighing, Charlie obliged. He sat down and flexed his fingers, tight from holding the chalk so long. He could see the indent on his finger from where he had held the piece of chalk. Perhaps it was good that he was taking a break.
"Charlie, I want to talk to you about yesterday."
"What about it?" Charlie couldn't keep the anger out of his voice, though he knew it wasn't his father's fault. It had been a terrifying experience, and Alan just didn't want him to be put in danger. But Charlie knew the risk, he knew the risks as a teacher, and a consultant for the FBI and the NSA. He knew, and it was his choice to take that risk. He was fine. Nothing had happened yet, so why would it now?
"I just wanted you to know that I'm not mad at you or Don. I was just upset because you had been put in direct danger. It was the first time I saw that you could be an actual target for an attack because of your work with the FBI. I didn't want to see something happen to you. I hope you're not mad at me."
Charlie softened toward his father. He didn't want to be mad at his father, though he was still mad at Don. At least Alan hadn't kicked him off the case and made him feel insignificant. He wouldn't be mad at his father, but he'd hold onto his anger toward Don a little longer.
"I'm not mad, Dad."
Alan smiled. "Good." He reached out and patted his son's hand, knowing that Charlie was eager to get back to work. Charlie smiled at him and then stood and walked back to the chalkboards.
When David walked him, he walked over to Alan.
"As soon as the security team is done sweeping the house, I can let you guys back in. We'll keep a few agents posted out front," David explained.
"Shouldn't you be home recuperating or something?" Alan knew that David had only just been in the hospital due to a gunshot wound. He was surprised he was allowed to work so soon after.
"I wanted a piece of this, even if it means baby-sitting you guys."
"Baby-sitting, huh? We need more watching than half a dozen able-bodied agents can provide?"
"Don doesn't want Charlie to do any more work on this case at all."
So that was it. Alan understood that David was there mostly to keep an eye on Charlie and keep him from working on the case. "Oh, I see. He figures you could stop him?"
David laughed. "You know, for a really nice guy, you have two very stubborn sons."
"Yeah, well they get that from their mother. The only way you could change her mind was, you know... well, I can't really say. I could barely manage it myself."
David laughed and moved across the garage toward Amita and Charlie. "Amita. What's a nice mathematician like you doing in a garage like this?"
"Beats me. One minute, I'm analyzing computer codes, and the next, I'm under threat from the Russian Mafia."
David smiled and stood beside Charlie, who was working at a chalkboard.
"This would be your cognitive emergence work, right?" David asked.
"Yeah, it is... Why?" Charlie said, wondering why David bothered to ask.
"'Cause there's a section right there labeled Yuri Koverchenko game theory, Charlie." David knew he had the professor and smiled.
"Busted," Amita sang out, smiling at Charlie getting caught.
"Look, you can't expect me to stop thinking about this case. And even if I didn't write anything down, it would still be in my mind, okay? So I might as well write it down so at least, you know, my process is more effective." Charlie hoped his explanation was enough for the agent.
"In other words, 'I'm going to do it anyway, so why don't you let me do it right?'" Alan put in.
"That's right." Charlie was glad his father understood. "Look, you better believe I'm on the brink of seeing it. There's a pattern to everything Koverchenko's done. I can feel it."
"You can feel it? Is that a math term?" David couldn't remember Charlie using that phrase before.
"Before creating proofs, mathematicians often rely on intuition."
Charlie nodded, happy that he had a back up for what he said.
"Fine. I hope Don's intuition doesn't tell him I'm helping you do this." David walked past Charlie and back to the other side of the garage, and to the air hockey table.
"Mr. Eppes, could I entice you into a game of air hockey?" David asked when he saw Alan standing in front of the table.
"Sure. Why not?" Alan agreed.
"I'll play the winner!" Amita called across the room.
"Okay. And I have to warn you, even with a gimp arm, I am deadly," David warned Alan.
"I'm not scared."
Hitting the puck back and forth, it only took a few hits for Alan to get the puck into David's goal. David looked up and laughed.
"Oh. The old fake-out!"
"That's right. Get them to think one way, go the other."
"Do that one more time. Let's see if you can do that again."
Interested, Amita and Charlie began to come closer to the table. Charlie's mind churned at what his father said.
"I can do that every time." Alan had full confidence.
"One more then."
Before they began to play, Charlie stepped up. "That's it.
"What's it?" Amita asked, not understanding what Charlie meant.
"Look, I... I gotta talk to Don." Charlie directed his statement to David, knowing otherwise he'd need permission.
"Don was very specific. You're not working with the FBI on this one at all."
"You know what?" Charlie took out his cell phone and flipped it open. "The FBI is not the only game in town."
Charlie quickly dialed Lieutenant Walker's number.
"Walker," Gary answered the phone.
"Hi. This is Charlie Eppes. I know what Koverchenko's pattern is."
"Don said you're off the case." Gary was surprised to hear the young professor's voice.
"Well, that's for me to decide. I need to come to the FBI office. I can help."
"Well, then get over here."
Charlie smiled triumphantly as he hung up his cell phone. "I'm going to need a ride."
"What? You can go?" Amita was surprised that it was that easy.
"So, what's the pattern?" David asked, curious about the case that had got him shot.
"Koverchenko was trying to distract you. I suspect he was trying to distract you from something that happened when you arrested the phishers."
Charlie headed for the door in a rush. He waved an agent over, explaining that he needed a ride. For extra precaution, he was put in a Kevlar vest. He stayed in the back seat of the agent's car and they made their way to the FBI office. When they stopped at a red light, something like a gun shot sounded and Charlie could feel the back left side sink lower, indicating a flat tire.
"Wait here." The agent got out and rounded the car to the back. Charlie turned around and watched the agent inspect the damage, then begin to get out a back-up tire. As the agent hunched over the trunk, another shot sounded, this one hitting the agent in the back.
Charlie's eyes widened and he started to go to the front seat to drive off. Before he could, the door opened and a man pointed a gun at his face.
The door in the back opened and another man moved in quickly, grabbing onto Charlie. Charlie pushed, trying to get him off. The man wrapped his hand around Charlie's mouth, holding a wet rag to it. As Charlie breathed in, he slowly lost consciousness, since the rag was drenched in chloroform.
Letting go of the limp Charlie, the man searched Charlie's pockets for his cell phone.
"We'll just send Big Brother a message," the man said as he pulled the cell phone out.
After sending a text message to Don, the two carried Charlie away and stuffed him into their van. Tires squealing, they sped away.
Don watched Lieutenant Walker come up to him. "What's up, Gary?"
"I just wanted you to know that I'm bringing your brother in."
"What? Gary, I told you he's not working the case anymore!" Don barked, anger surging through him.
"I know, but I think he can help! He says he knows something about Koverchenko's pattern. He's going to help us catch this guy."
Don was about to shout at Gary again, but his cell phone vibrated in his back pocket. Pulling it out he flipped it open to read the text message.
"We got your money. Now we got your brother. Ready to quit?" the message read.
Don's eyes widened as he slowly raised his head to look at Gary.
"What? What is it, Eppes?" Gary asked.
Bringing his fist forward in one sharp motion, Don struck Gary across the face.
"They've got, Charlie! It's all your fault!" Don glared at Gary, not caring that he'd hurt him one bit.