Disclaimer: I don't own Numb3rs or any of its characters or story lines.
Zai: So I finally got this epilogue written. Sorry it took me awhile, I needed a bit of time to figure out where I wanted it to go, and then I had to find the time to actually write it. I hope it was worth the wait. Again I really want to thank eveyone who read this story, and especially those who reviewed, and thanks in advance to those who review this addition.
The ringing of a telephone brought Don to consciousness early Sunday morning. He groaned quietly and grabbed his new cell phone off the table. Who on earth was phoning him at this time? It was a week after his rather eventful weekend and Don was still restricted to desk duty, which meant there was no logical reason for anyone to be dragging him out of bed so early.
A glance at the display indicated it was seven past ten. . . Seven past ten? Okay, maybe not quite so early then. . . He glanced at the bedside clock for confirmation. He could not actually remember the last time he had managed to sleep in so late.
The phone range again interrupting his thoughts, and it finally occurred to Don that it was not even his cell phone ringing. It was the land-line. Which was all the way across the room, on the dresser. The phone rang again, and Robin moaned sleepily, "Make it stop."
"Hon, it's your phone," Don told her, but his only answer was a view of the back of Robin's head as she buried her face into her pillow. Don sighed, and slipped out of the warm bed. He made it to the phone just before it began its fourth ring. "Hello?" he answered sleepily.
"Hello," a female voice came on the line, "Is this Don?"
"It's good to finally talk to you Don," the woman on the other end replied brightly. "This is Natalie, Robin's mom."
Robin's mom. Oh. "Good morning Mrs. Brooks," Don said, now wide awake, and for some reason feeling oddly like he had as a teenager when his mom had caught him making out with his girlfriend in the garage. He shifted the phone in his hand uncomfortably.
"I trust you're feeling better?" Mrs. Brooks asked kindly.
"Hm? Oh, yes thank you I am," Don replied. "Robin's just in the other room," he added quickly, "I'll go grab her for you." Setting the phone down he headed back to the bed. "Robin?" he hissed near her ear.
"Unhh?" she moaned.
"Your mom's on the phone."
"Huh?" Robin asked much more clearly as she sat up.
"Phone. Your mother," Don repeated pointing across the room at the afore mentioned object.
"Oh." Robin climbed out of bed and grabbed the handset. "Hey mom." She listened for a moment and Don watched as she blushed deeply. "No uh, no you're not interrupting anything," she quickly assured her mother. She fell silent for another moment, before replying, "This afternoon? No we didn't have any plans."
Half-way back into bed Don paused. It sounded like their lazy day in bed was being put on hold. He got up and headed towards the ensuite bathroom, still listening to Robin's half of the conversation. "One? Yeah, sure that's fine. We'll see you then? Okay, bye Mom."
Grabbing his toothbrush, Don glanced back into the bedroom in time to see Robin replace the phone on its hook. "So what's the plan?" he asked.
"We're going to my parents for lunch." Robin replied joining Don in the small room. "My sister Hannah and her family spent the week in Phoenix visiting her brother-in-law. They're stopping back at Mom and Dad's on their way home. Mom thought, since we missed dinner last weekend, that we might want to come by," she explained wrapping her arms around Don from behind.
"Sounds good," he replied around the toothbrush.
"I said we'd be there by one, so I guess we should get ready," Robin said as she playfully ran one hand through Don's sleep tousled hair. "Your hair's a mess," she teased.
"Well it is now," he agreed with a grin, Robin rolled her eyes at him in the mirror.
"Funny Eppes," she muttered gesturing behind them at the shower, "You want it first?"
Nodding Don extracted himself from her hold and moved to find a towel from the closet. As he moved past her, she stopped him with a hand on his arm, her playfulness from the moment before, gone. "You are okay with this right? I mean if your head is still bothering you. . ." she trailed off, running a gentle finger across the faint scar that had remained after the stiches had been removed.
"I'm fine," he assured her seriously. "I'll be back in the field this week. The headaches are mostly gone. Except of course for the ones brought on by spending all day at my desk filing case reports," he added lightly.
"All right," Robin replied after giving him a long appraising look. She turned and headed out of the room, calling back over the shoulder, "You better save me some hot water."
At a quarter to one, Don pulled his SUV to the side of the road in front of a tidy two story home. He glanced at his wrist, only to remember he had yet to get his watch repaired. Robin, catching the gesture smiled teasingly, "You're not nervous now are you Agent Eppes?" Don felt himself flush slightly, and Robin looked surprised, "Oh, wow," she murmured. "You are nervous."
Don shot her a look. "No. Not really," he denied, "It's just, well I kinda of blew my first impression already, without even being here."
"Don," Robin told him firmly, "You were hurt, they understand that. It'll be fine," she assured him.
"Yeah," he muttered quietly. They walked up the front path together and Don knocked firmly on the door, expertly masking his insecurities. Robin's father, a tall lean man with thinning white hair answered the door, giving Robin a quick hug before he stiffly offered his hand out to Don.
"Don is it?"
"Yes sir," Don replied shaking the offered hand.
"Liam," Mr. Brooks said, stepping back to let the couple into the front hall. He led the way into a modest living room. One sofa was occupied by a woman whom Don identified as Robin's sister Hannah by her dark hair and familiar features. Robin came up behind Don, "Don this is Hannah and her husband Matthew."
The group exchanged greetings and Don and Robin had just settled on a second couch when two young boys made their way into the room from the backyard. "Hey Aunt Robin," one of the boys called before they both turned their attention to Don.
"Don these are my nephews Randy and Josh," Robin introduced, "Boys, this is Don."
Don smiled at the two boys wondering if Robin realized he had no clue which boy was which. Not only were the boys clearly identical twins, they were also dressed rather similarity and she had not really been specific with her introduction.
"You're an FBI agent?" one of the boys asked a slight tone of awe in his voice.
"Josh," his mother spoke warningly, just as an older woman, who also shared many features with Robin although her dark hair had long ago gone grey, walked into the room.
"Lunch is just about ready," she announced. "Boys why don't you go wash up?" she suggested, sending her grandsons scampering from the room. Natalie Brooks made her way over to Don. "We're so glad to finally meet you Don," she said with a smile despite the guarded expression Don noticed on her husband's face that clearly said he was not sure if he agreed with the sentiment.
"Thanks for having me," he replied. "I'm sorry about last week's dinner," he added sincerely.
"Oh that's all right," Natalie assured him, before ushering the group into the dinning room. Don found a seat next to Robin, on one side of the table. Josh and Randy sat down across from them, both giving Don curious looks. Robin's parents took seats at the ends of the table.
Liam led the family in a quick prayer and then gestured to the food on the table, "Help yourselves."
They were quiet as they passed around the various plates of food, most of the conversation revolving around, "Could someone pass the -?" As they settled in and started eating though, the questions finally started. Don had been expecting it, but it still felt rather uncomfortable. Maybe it was because he never really liked being the centre of attention, or he was just so unused to it. Or perhaps it was just he preferred to be asking questions rather than answering them. Of course, Don decided, it could be the guarded and watchful gaze Liam Brooks kept sending him, but really, he faced dangerous criminals down most days, why should his girlfriend's father make him feel nervous?
"So Don," Natalie Brooks started pleasantly, "Have you always lived in LA?"
Normally the first questions would probably have been about his job, but he got the feeling that everyone was trying to avoid the subject of his work. "Well, I grew up in Pasadena, but I was posted out of state for several years," he replied non-specifically.
"Don ran the field office out in Albuquerque for a few years," Robin added, seeing Don was not going to offer anything further.
"Oh?" Hannah asked, "So you're in a supervisory position then?" Don could not help but notice that Josh and Randy looked a little disappointed at this prospect.
"I, well sort of," Don replied, "I'm the field agent in charge of my division now."
"Isn't that kinda moving backwards?" Liam interjected.
Don gave a half shrug. "A few years back I decided I needed to be move back home, and the position was what was available." He decided not to mention why he needed to come back home. His mother's death was not something he generally talked about. Ever.
"Hannah and Matt live out in San Jose," Robin said and Don smiled at her gratefully for the change in subject.
The discussion drifted off Don for awhile, and Don noticed Robin helping to keep it that way. Matt talked about the hospital he was working at. Apparently the guy was a surgeon. Hannah it turned out, was a nurse and Don wondered if they too had met through work.
"So Robin," her father began at a break in the conversation, "Easter is coming up in a few weeks. You will be coming to Mass with us this year won't you?"
"Oh, uh I don't know Dad," Robin muttered looking decidedly awkward.
"Don's welcome to join us too, of course," her mother put in.
Don glanced uncertainly at Robin, well in all the ways he had imagined this to go wrong, he really had not consider this. After all, Robin was not religious at all. In fact, him exploring his faith had lead to a brief awkward period between them, until Robin had let Don know she would support him even if she did not quite understand where his need to explore his heritage had suddenly come from. He really had not stopped to consider her family's beliefs.
"You're not protestant are you?" Liam wondered aloud, earning himself a disapproving glare from his wife.
"Don's Jewish," Robin explained.
"Oh," her mother replied with a slightly forced smile.
The silence around the table was just encroaching into seriously awkward when one of the boys, Josh, Don was pretty sure, spoke up. "Mom, we're done can we go out back and play?"
Hannah looked over at her children. "You two haven't finished that work booklet Mrs. Henderson gave you." The twins looked about to protest but Hannah continued, "I checked, so don't tell me otherwise. You were supposed to finish it before we left Uncle Jake's, and since you're back in class tomorrow, you two had better go finish that now."
"But Mom," Randy whined, "It's just math."
"I don't see why we have to learn it anyway," Josh added, "It's not like it's good for anything!"
"You'd be surprised," Don replied automatically. Great, now he was officially channelling Charlie. Everyone looked at him confused. Well everyone except Robin, who actually looked like she was trying not to laugh.
"What do you mean?" Randy asked cautiously.
Don shrugged, "I thought math was pretty useless as a kid too, but there are really so many applications of math in the world."
"Like what?" this time Josh spoke, and Don vaguely wondered if they always alternated speaking or if was just some random coincidence.
"Well, uh, you like baseball?" he asked, and when both boys nodded he continued, "Well there is a type of math called sabermetrics, my brother could probably explain it better, but basically it's a statistical analysis of baseball players. I've seen it used pretty accurately to predict things like walks and hits." Don explained, while at the same time thinking of how he was going to kill his little brother the next time he saw him. Here he was actually trying to convince a couple kids about the values of math. Clearly he was spending too much time with a certain math genius.
The boys just looked at him skeptically. "Okay, that's not interesting enough? Well my brother, he's a mathematician, he actually works with the FBI to solve crimes."
"Yeah. He uses mathematical expressions and helps us solve all sorts of cases. Robberies, kidnappings, you name it."
The boys looked at him wide-eyed, "Aunt Robin, is that true?" Josh queried disbelievingly.
"Yes it is. I've actually used some of Charlie's math in my cases," she assured them.
Apparently satisfied, the twins headed off to tackle whatever math assignment had been thrust upon them. Natalie gave Don an approving smile, at least the whole 'math is everywhere' routine he had apparently learned from Charlie had gotten him some approval points from the two mothers present if nothing else.
"You just have the one sibling?" Natalie asked.
"Yeah, but with Charlie, one was enough," Don commented without thinking.
"Oh nothing against my brother," he quickly clarified, "he just required a lot of stimulation as a kid. When he was their age," he added gesturing at the door through which the twins had disappeared, "he was half-way through highschool. It was actually getting him to stop doing math that was the hard part. He was more likely to be calculating my walk percentage, than he was to be actually tossing a baseball around. Sometimes I actually wonder if statistics is his only interest in the sport at all," Don added with a little shake of his head. He really could not understand why his brother had to analyse everything, didn't it take the fun out of just watching the game? But then to Charlie the math probably was the fun part.
"You're a baseball fan I take it?" Liam asked, and for the first time since he had met Don at the front door, his vaguely disguised disapproval was gone.
Robin smiled, and Don recognized the look she usually got when she had finally found the right argument for a tough case. "Didn't I tell you Dad?" she asked innocently.
"Tell me what?" her father replied, playing perfectly into whatever it was Robin was planning.
"Don used to play pro ball," she announced sounding quite pleased with herself. Don really was not sure why.
"Pro ball? Really?" Liam asked turned to Don with a look of interest.
"I played in the minors for a few years," Don admitted uncomfortably, wondering what exactly Robin hoped to accomplish by bringing this up, "Up in Stockton."
"The Stockton Rangers right?" Liam asked. "Impressive. I played college ball myself, never made the pros though," he added wistfully. "Tried to get my son Jonathan to play, but he never took to the sport. Spends all his time in front of his blasted computer," he muttered.
Twenty minutes later Don, Liam and Matt were seated in the livingroom swapping baseball stories and discussing the Dodgers chances in the upcoming season. Well Don and Liam were discussing ball, Matt on the other hand, knew very little about the sport beyond what his boys talked about and was doing little more than nod in agreement as the two men talked.
Robin and Hannah watched them from the doorway. "See?" Hannah told her sister quietly, "I told you it would work out. Dunno why you didn't tell Dad he played ball from the get-go though."
"Honestly, I kinda forgot. Don doesn't usually talk about his baseball career all that much," Robin admitted watching her boyfriend fondly as he animatedly recounted some game to her father.
"Well, Dad is certainly glad to have someone to talk with, Matt is absolutely useless on the subject. And Mom seems to like him too," Hannah added. "And he actually got my kids to do their homework. Now that's new."
"Yeah he certainly is different," Robin commented.
Don looked up and seeing her in the doorway, flashed her a smile. The afternoon had turned out quite well after all. Not only did Robin's parents seem to like him, Liam Brooks was actually quite knowledgeable about baseball and they had been having a rather enjoyable talk for the last twenty minutes or so. Must be some sort of cosmic balance.
- end -