Numb3rs – Disarmed
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. No financial reward gained. All real organisations are used in a fictional sense. Original characters and the storyline are mine however.
A/N: This is the final chapter, very short but hopefully clears everything up. The Eppes are recovering and things are going to get fully back to normal soon. Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed, comments as always are very much appreciated and affect the flow of the story.
CHAPTER SIXTEEN - CODA
"Are you sure you're up to this?" Don asked.
Charlie stopped his nervous fidgeting to look at him with a degree of surprise. "Me? I'm not the one who just got out of hospital."
Don waited. He had been released this morning with strict instructions to go home and rest for another two weeks. After that and further X-rays the doctor would consider whether or not he could go back to work on restricted light duties. He'd been home for all of two hours, but he was now sitting in a car with his younger brother in the parking lot out the front of the math building at CalSci. Megan had just stepped out of the car to give them a moment of privacy before they committed.
They were at the university for a follow up critical incident stress debriefing being run by CalSci's counsellor for the hostages. The former hostages had already been debriefed as a group within the critical 48 hour window and had each received individual sessions as well. The counsellor had then decided on a final session, inviting the last hostage, Don to participate. Controversially the counsellor had then invited Charlie, the HT himself. Don had queried the advisability of that but the counsellor had explained that some of the former hostages had actually suggested wanting to meet Charlie now that the details had emerged as to why the incident had occurred.
The counsellor had also suggested that confronting the HT in the very office at CalCsi where they'd all been held would help resolve any lasting 'issues'.
It had taken Charlie a day and a meeting with his own counsellor, Bradford, to decide if he would accept. Don was pleased that Charlie had accepted his suggestion to seek his own therapy and Bradford had offered to undertake that role. They were scheduled for their own joint session in a few days. Don and Charlie both had their own issues to work through. Once that was over there would be another session with their father.
Megan was not just their driver having collected them both from home, she was to also attend the CalSci session as a 'safety measure'. Her official FBI presence was to alleviate any lingering fears that the former hostages might have at being once again in the same room as the HT. She was not going to actually participate in any way and would in fact wait outside if Charlie was accepted into the group. The rules had been explained to them all prior to their final acceptance and attendance. This was now their last chance to back out. It was also Charlie's final hurdle to returning to work.
Barnathan's intervention with the DA had spared Charlie the attention of the LAPD detectives, Norton and Hickman. The DA had held the matter over for a few days until the formal statements from Don, Alan and the former hostages were obtained. The DA also considered the evidence presented by the DHS, FBI and LAPD before ruling that charges were not going to be brought against the math professor due to the clear defence of duress that he could raise.
Charlie had spent those few days under strict house arrest being guarded by both LAPD and FBI. He was lucky, the professor could have spent the time in a holding facility but Merrick and Barnathan had enough pull to prevent that. Once the DA handed down his decision Charlie was free to return to his life.
Initially Don was somewhat surprised that there had not been any objections from the former hostages when they were notified of the decision. But then he had seen the statements and the general tone of forgiveness that flowed from them. Despite being terrified at being held at gunpoint by a masked man they had all spoken of the care the HT had taken not to deliberately cause them additional distress. It seemed that Charlie had done everything during the incident to make things as calm and safe for the hostages as he could whilst still maintaining control over them. That followed with Don's own observations at the time of how Charlie was carefully not pointing the weapon at any hostage. It also explained the requests by the former hostages to meet with Charlie.
"I'm ready." Charlie finally said, resolutely opening his door.