by Valerie Vancollie

valeriev84 at hotmail dot com

Characters: Don, Charlie, Alan, (Larry)

Spoilers: Uncertainty Principle, Structural Corruption, In Plain Sight, Spree, Two Daughters, The Decoy Effect

Note: This fic was written for Moraglee as part of the Purim Treat-a-Thon. Basically, we had to write a fic, or a multi-part fic, for each of the 3 days of posting. We also had to provice 3 images over the course of the 3 days as well. Many thanks to ALEO for betaing it on short notice!

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Numb3rs characters, items or situations. I only lay claim to the original aspects of the fic.

Part I: Don: Structural Corruption:

'Don't assume I'm being so irrational, you know, just because I'm not as detached as you are.'

Don stormed out of the building, furious.

How dare Charlie say that too him?

After all that his brother had seen him do over the past few months, everything that he had put into each and every case they had worked together, everything that he had done for those victims, how dare Charlie call him detached? Did his brother know him so little to accuse him of that?

He was a federal agent. Don thought Charlie knew what that meant. Yes, he felt for the innocents and their families affected by crime- whether it be murder, rape, kidnapping, torture or any other of a myriad of things people did to each other. Yes, it affected him, but he was a trained federal agent; trained to investigate those crimes, trained to bring the perpetrator in for justice, trained to look beyond his own emotions.

Emotions were dangerous for someone in his line of work. Agents who let their emotions rule them made mistakes, stupid and careless mistakes, that could not only result in the loss of life, but also in the perpetrator walking free. Well, either that or being so blinded by them that he was unable to see the truth because of the illusions and delusions they painted. Was that what Charlie wanted of him? To let his emotions get in the way of a case so that he made mistakes which could result in his life and the lives of others being endangered?

Yet, despite all of that, emotions were also a vital part of any law enforcement officer. Emotions could be a driving force for an agent without blinding him or her, they could be the vital passion that led them to go the extra mile necessary to solve a case. It could be the drive that resulted in a LEO going above and beyond the call of duty if it meant bringing a perp to justice or closure to a family.

It was a hard lesson to learn, but one Don had learned well, if the hard way, as a rookie in Detroit. The mere memory of his mistake still put a bad taste in his mouth and he resisted the urge to try and spit it out, knowing it wouldn't help.

How dare Charlie call him detached!

After everything he had seen and done with the FBI, surely Charlie should know better. Surely he should know his brother better than that! Don violently thrust his key into the car's lock and wretched the door open, holding it for a second before slamming it shut again, knowing he was too angry to drive just now.

Perhaps they hadn't grown nearly as close as he thought they'd done these past few months.

Him, detached. Don ground his teeth as he could still hear Charlie's words ringing in his ears. If anyone was detached, it was Charlie. Detached from reality. He was so caught up in his own little world, not able to accept that one of CalSic's students, an engineering student, could kill himself that he was grasping for each and every straw there was. Including a mere foot of distance.

So much for logic and lucid thought processes. Charlie's usually brilliant mind was being thrown by the very same thing that had caused Don's own mistake in Detroit; emotion. It was clouding his senses and warping his perception. He'd learn, but in the meantime his words were no less cutting for their ignorance.

'Don't assume I'm being so irrational, you know, just because I'm not as detached as you are.'

If you wish to see the graphic I created to go with this part, you can view it here by removing the spaces:
http : / / i619 . photobucket . com / albums / tt279 / schrijver_photos / Detached . jpg
This is a fic idea that's been with me since I first saw Structural Corruption years ago. Charlie's attitude and behavior in that episode has always bothered me and I just couldn't help but wonder how Don might have felt. The idea got fleshed out more upon seeing Two Daughters, but it wasn't until this challenge that I finally sat down and wrote the fic. I hope you like it.