Title: M is for Minute by Minute

Rated – T or PG - 13

Characters: Alan, Don, Charlie, and the rest of the Numb3rs gang.

Disclaimer: Wish I could own them, but sadly I don't.

Summary: What happens when a brother is mistaken for another brother. Can love repair the damage?

Time Line: This story takes place after "The Mole but before Janus List." Some spoilers. I know that the season finale is influencing this story and I must have been guilty of reading too many of Miz Em's stories. I am also trying to mix in angst and humor.

Thanks Jels for agreeing to beta this story and your help. Any errors I missed are all mine.


Chapter 1

Minute by minute. Moment by moment. Sometimes that is all you get and sometimes you take it all for granted. Brothers fight after all. Nothing new in that. But finding the humor in a situation that isn't funny takes something doesn't it?

Don cackled. He just couldn't help himself. Not a small chuckle, no a full-blown laughing fit that really popped out of nowhere. I'm losing it. Collapsing until he rolled on his side and curled into a ball. The more that Charlie demanded that he stop, the louder the chuckles. The funny part it felt good. It shouldn't, but it did. Charlie sat in the middle kitchen floor with flour and eggs covering him. Wearing the batter instead of cooking it - Don's surprise birthday cake forever ruined.

"Oh, stop already. It isn't that funny. If you hadn't scared me, I wouldn't have jumped and spilled the bag of flour…never mind the bit about the eggs…Oh I can see Dad's thrilled face now. Just stop laughing and get off your butt and help me clean this mess up!" Charlie fumed as he tried to figure out some way to salvage what little dignity he had left. "See if I try to do something nice for you again." He muttered under his breath.

Instead of Don shutting up he howled even louder. "Charlie, stop…you're killing me. I'm sorry…I didn't know you were still up." He managed to gasp out the words although tears were forming in his eyes from giggling so hard.

Finally, Charlie giggled. Payback would be so sweet. He threw the left over bag of flour on top of his brother's face.

Don sputtered and finally stopped laughing. "I surrender, please, stop." It worked for a moment and then he collapsed again into another fit. Charlie, your face…Man I'm exhausted…I can't stop…Oh God, it hurts." A hiccup escaped and then the impossible seemed to take place. A mixture of laughter and hiccups filled the air.

Charlie started to get concerned. He didn't think Don could die from hiccups, but his brother had worked really long hours and he felt dog-tired and kind of giddy. "Look, go to bed. I'll get this mess cleaned up and much faster if you would just leave."

Don finally got everything under control. Shaking off the flour, he managed to roll over and sort of crawl to the chair. He pushed himself off the floor and sat for a bit. No, I'll help. I'm sorry…I don't know what got into me." He smirked.

Charlie knew that it was hopeless and he didn't have much time before Don would collapse again. "Please, leave. It is okay. I'll get it done faster if you do. Please."

Don nodded not trusting himself and walked out of the kitchen. Realizing that his clothes would be a hopeless cause, he decided he better get the spare outfit out of his SUV, and then take a shower and get some much-needed sleep. He would make it up to Charlie in the morning, somehow. He wasn't sure how, but he would. He stepped outside to get his change of clothes he had stored in the back.

It must have been the combination, of being exhausted and just not paying attention, but he couldn't react in time as a cloth-covered his mouth. Don made the mistake of inhaling and too late to recognized the drug-laced cloth. In a feeble attempt, he pushed his elbow into his attacker, but all it did was aggravate the mystery man. He felt an arm snake around his neck and the added choke and drug combination overwhelmed him. He sank into oblivion worried about his family. Some protector he turned out to be.

Charlie finally got the kitchen under control. Amazed, when he discovered the front door wide open. Don always gripes about me being forgetful. I'll give him an earful later, doubt it would mean anything now. Looking outside, he didn't see anything amiss. Tired as well, he wearily locked up and took a shower. Once his head touched the pillow he was sound asleep.

Don coughed and shivered. It felt really cold on the floor. Floor? How did I get on the floor? Slowly the fog lifted and the events came flooding into his memory. Charlie and Dad…please let them be all right. Opening his eyes took a Herculean effort. Pleased with himself for accomplishing that much, he surveyed his surroundings.

A sparse room with a dim light hanging from the center of the room. Only one entrance from his view on the floor as far as he could tell. Pushing himself into a sitting position, he finally registered why he was shivering. Someone had stripped him of his clothes and left him in a loose pair of blue elastic shorts. Guess you have to count your blessings, it could be worse. The image of him running around in his birthday suit or tight-fitting g-string popped into his mind. Get a hold of yourself Eppes, you're an agent…act like one.

He shakily stood and took a few steps before he felt a strong tug at his left ankle. Recognition took a few seconds as he finally figured out; he had a metal chain secured to a metal cuff that fit snugly against his ankle. Still groggy, he decided to see how much freedom he had. He could go to the bathroom, but the removed door ended any thoughts of privacy. The only window was on the far left side and of course the chain didn't allow him access. In fact the only room he could enter was the bathroom and it contained no windows. Otherwise, he was trapped more in the center of the room unable to reach any walls and the only exit was far beyond his reach as well. Is this the way a poor dog feels when he is on a leash in the yard? Where is my water bowl? At least a blanket to lie on? This is the pits.

"About time you woke up, Professor." Sorry, the accommodations are so lousy, but it wouldn't do to have you escape. I'm afraid the conditioning will take a bit and be a little unpleasant, but in the end…you'll do what we want. I suggest you get some sleep while you can."

Professor? He thinks I'm Charlie…what idiot would think I'm Charlie? Then it hit him like a freight truck, if he hadn't made an unplanned visit, it just might be Charlie stuck in this situation. Finally after another search he spotted the cameras and didn't like the feelings it was stirring up. Somehow, I've got to convince them I'm Charlie, but how can I keep it up when I'm not the genius and it won't take long for them to figure it out?

"Professor, I suggest you follow directions unless you are ready for a really painful lesson. Lie down and don't move till I tell you can."

"Yeah, you and what army?" The door creaked open and an enormous man a little over seven feet tall entered the room. Right behind the first goon was another with a gun pointed at his skull and then it lowered a bit as he fired. He didn't have time to flinch as the bullet grazed his shoulder. Good news he's not a great shot.

Before you think I can't aim, the next one goes into your thigh. Painful, but not deadly yet. You're worth more alive right now, unless you prove that you're more trouble than your worth. So don't do anything stupid and lie down on your stomach face down.

Charlie would do what they asked…wouldn't he? Probably best to keep up appearances.This idiot doesn't appear to have a sense of humor. So Don obeyed. He winced as they pulled his arms firmly behind his back. The sound of handcuffs did nothing to make him feel better. Why can't it be a rope? What's with all this metal?

"Say night, night professor."

With a bit of force a hood covered his head and he felt totally helpless when a cord was pulled tight around his neck. He struggled now in vain against the man holding him down. Although he had planned on staying awake, his body betrayed him when a syringe was pushed into his arm. All he could think was that they were going to dump the body and he had failed to find out anything to help keep his brother alive. Charlie…and his world faded into the darkness.

TBC


A/N: This is definitely an Alternative Universe. It also is more of a "What if" story although I am trying to make it realistic. I am not a perfect writer, I make mistakes and if you want to come along for the ride, I'm thrilled.

I am willing to improve, but I ignore flames.

Feedback does urge me to write faster. I appreciate constructive criticism and encouragement. I love reviews that show why you decided to invest in this story. Sincere reviews will always be welcomed.

I have several stories to finish, but I working on one at a time, I will reach the finish line. My muse seems to need reviews to inspire me on, I've tried debating her, but I keep losing. So if you're willing please review.

Thanks for reading and for those that will, thanks for reviewing!