Summary: Charlie gets involved in a case and nobody realizes how dangerous it gets for him until it's too late. Will Don and his team be able to safe Charlie and will they be able to safe a toddler that is somehow the cause of everything?
Spoilers: There aren't any spoilers in this post
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters of Numb3rs.
A/N: This is my second story about Numb3rs and again, it's obvious Charlie is my favorite character. I will try and update as soon as possible.
Thank you for giving this fic a chance and reading it. Let me know what you think about it because honest feedback is always appreciated.
Beta: Thank you, Chymom, for all the help that you have given me and for all the suggestions. I gladly accepted them!
Chapter 1 – The boy
Don took a moment to watch the activity around him. The bad guys had been caught and were being led away. The police officers were slowly clearing out of the area. Finally, his eyes fell upon his colleagues' faces. He noticed that they looked relieved and happy to have the case wrapped up.
Thinking back, Don remembered that the lead that helped the most had come from a woman who had called the bureau to tell them that she had seen one of the man that the police were looking for. Don smiled faintly when he thought about all the pictures that had been spread around the city. The case had seemed to have hit a dead end, but those pictures had given them the break that they needed. So when a SWAT-team had been informed about the situation and who they were looking for, they had set their plans into action. It was only two hours later that the team could enter into the house.
Don was glad that those men were going to prison. The boss was named Marc Chester, a drug-baron who had been linked to seven murders and three rape's. The rape victims that they knew about were two teenage girls and a young boy, but Don knew there were more. Marc was a smart man that knew how to erase his tracks and Don was convinced that when they would interrogate this guy, they would discover more horrible things.
There had been six employees in the house, each and everyone of them were heavy boys. Their rap sheets contained rape, murder, robberies and drug dealing. Marc's team was small as he was still working his way up and Don now only had to hunt two other employees, but he expected them to be found easily.
Don sighed, wishing that now he could just go home to Charlie's and eat his dad's cooking which probable contained a steak, but instead, he needed to interrogate this men, do the paperwork, deal with the lawyers, make sure the press was kept at bay,... All that work and Don wished that he could leave all that to someone else. But this was a part of his job and he had to deal with it whether he liked it or not.
He pushed himself away from the wall he was leaning against, ready to do whatever they would throw at him next. When he thought about it, this had been a magnificent day actually. They had achieved to arrest seven men and make the streets a little safer.
Suddenly, Don heard a soft sobbing behind him and he turned around, not knowing who would cause this noise. Turning around, his heart suddenly felt so heavy and his chest stopped moving up and down for a moment. Don needed to remind himself to breathe, but the shock had taken over his body.
A young policewoman was carrying a small boy outside of the house. He couldn't be much older than 3. He was a beautiful child with dark brown eyes and long brown curls that framed his face. But his skin was pale, his face dirtied by dust and tears. His clothes looked shabby and he was even missing a shoe. The boy had his arms pushed up against his chest and his face turned away from the woman as if he wanted to create as much distance between them as possible. It was only and when the boy and the woman passed him that Don saw the blood covering the boys cheek.
The woman walked over to an ambulance and placed the boy down on the bed where two medics immediately started taking care of the boy who looked so scared and anxious. The boy refused to do anything the medics asked of him. He continued to hold his arms as tight around his small body as he could, not letting the medics anywhere near him. He still refused to unfolds his little arms. More tears started running down his face and he started shaking softly as the two medics were taking care of his wound on his cheek.
Don couldn't stand by and watch this any longer. Quickly, he made his way and ran over to the ambulance, or rather to the little boy's side. He felt a strong need to help this kid even though he had no idea how he would be able to as he had no idea what the boy had been gone through nor how to help him. He even had no idea what the boy was thinking. Don had an idea and he waved to get Megan's attention who started running over to him as soon as she spotted Don.
"Hey," Don greeted the medics, "maybe the kid needs some space." The medics turned to face Don and didn't look very happy to have someone telling them what to do.
"You do see that he's injured, right? He needs to be taken care of." The older one of the medics said.
The boy's kept crying silently. Tears were rolling down over his cheeks, but there was barely any emotion to be seen in face and he stared into the distance, refusing to look at anybody.
"What's going on?" Megan asked when she had reached them. "Who's the boy?"
"I don't know, but the medics seem to be scaring him more than helping him. They scare the hell out of him." Don answered, not looking away from the child in front of him.
"They found him locked up in the attic." the other medic said, his soft.
Don guessed that this man had a child of his own seeing how gentle he was trying to be with the boy. He had more compassion in his voice and Don now knew he was right about guessing that this medic had a family of his own. He noticed that he had an sad gaze in his eyes, just as there was anger, indicating that he was truly hating what had happened to the kid. There was a mix of emotions in the man's eyes.
"They found him when they searched the house. He hasn't said a word ever since and I guess, judging by his wounds, he has been seriously hurt by those criminals you just arrested.'
"And like my colleague here said,' the older man said, rolling his eyes as he couldn't believe that his partner was even explaining himself, "they found him in the attic. It's summer so it's hot in there and this boy is small. He's probably dehydrated as well, so we need to take care of him. So let us do our job, please." The man added almost as an after thought.
His voice wasn't friendly at all and Don knew he would never get that medic to listen to him, so he turned to face the younger one and hoped he would listen to reason.
"The kid is terrified and he certainly doesn't like being touched. Maybe we just need to make him feel safe and then start attacking him with all sorts of medical tests." Don said in a strong but caring voice.
"We have no idea what that boy went through," Megan said, walking over to the boy and smiling at him while laying her hand gently over his curls, "but he doesn't trust adults as they are the ones that did this to him. We need to let him know that he can trust us."
Don looked at the kid that kept on staring into the distance and wished he could look into his thoughts. He wanted to know what that boy was thinking right now and he wanted to know who he was. He must have a mother, so where was she? And who is his father? Don only hoped that his parents weren't one of the criminals that they had arrested.
"That's all fine," the older medic said, raising his voice and throwing his hands in the air, "but that boy needs our help. His wounds need to be taken care of and we need to make sure he gets hydrated."
Megan quickly noticed that the paramedics raised voices were upsetting the boy. Seeing a way that she could at least help him feel a little safer, she presided the men to lower their voices and take a few steps back from the child, giving him some room to breathe and giving him some space.
The boy started shaking again as the voices were impossible to block out. Megan angrily walked up to the medics and made them take a few more steps away from the child. The enlarged space between them and the boy seemed to calm the child down as he stopped shaking now.
"The last thing we need to do is upset him." Megan scowled at the medics and Don while keeping here own voice down so that the boy wouldn't hear it.
Don was curious at first what Megan was doing, why she was being so strict, until he noticed that the child was calming down with the space he had been given. Suddenly, Don's eyes were drawn to another person with curly hair like this little boy who was standing besides Colby and David. At first Don didn't trust his eyes.
'What is he doing here? I don't have time to babysit him right now.' Don thought as he made eye contact with Megan.
"Megan, could you please make sure that these gentlemen do not harm or upset that kid?" Don asked her. He didn't wait for her to answer, but just started walking over to his brother. He couldn't handle this situation and look after Charlie too.
"Hey," Don said, "what are you doing here?" He had tried to appear calm, but his fast breathing betrayed him.
"Dad told me you were working a case and that you would be in late. I thought I'd might be able to help you. Why are you so...worked up?" Charlie causelessly asked glancing at Don, throwing him a worrying gaze.
Don rubbed his hands over his face, trying to rub away the tiredness and irritation.
"You shouldn't be here, Charlie, do you realize that this is the property of seven criminals?"
"Yes, Don," Charlie said, not understanding why Don was so overprotective suddenly, "but all those criminals have just been taken away. You know I would never come here if it wasn't safe." Charlie knew when Don's overprotective big brother side was in control.
"You shouldn't have come at all, Charlie, so you can go home now."
David and Colby kept themselves at the background, but when Charlie quickly glanced at them, he knew they were thinking the exact same thoughts as he was. Don was upset and Charlie wouldn't leave without making sure that he would be alright.
David and Colby both noticed that something about this crime scene had set Don into protective mode. They both knew better then to stand in between the brothers at times like these. And Charlie was not going to go anywhere until he knew what was going on with his brother.
"What's going on, Don?" Charlie quietly asked him. Don took a few slow breaths and sighed, knowing that Charlie would find out soon enough.
"It's that boy over there," Don said while nodding towards the ambulance, "they found him in the attic and we have no idea who he is. He's terrified and we believe he has been abused but right now he won't let anyone close enough to him to see."
"That's awful." Charlie whispered, shocked and now staring at the ambulance as well. The first thing he noticed was that the child looked upset . The second was how small the child had try to make himself look and Charlie could remember the times when he himself would try to shut the would out.
Megan was still trying to get sense into the medic's head and they had finally allowed her to talk to the boy first. Megan walked over to the boy, the medics following her close behind, and started talking to him, but it was as if she wasn't even there. The boy didn't answer, he didn't even move his head or let her know he was listening.
"How about if you all back off and let me talk to him alone. He might be more responsive to me." Megan said in a soft voice, not wanting to scare the boy even more.
Don walked to the medics again and Charlie couldn't help but slowly walk to Megan. He was curious as what she would say against a boy that had been gone through so much. What did you say in such a situation? That everything was going to be alright? Charlie knew even a child this young would distrust those words.
A policemen called out to Megan and asked for her assistance inside. Megan looked at David and Colby, but they were now too busy taking statements from the neighbors.
"Don't worry," Megan gently told the boy, "I'll be right back."
Charlie was now only ten feet away from the boy and he could see the scratches on his cheek, but he could also see that this was a cute boy and he couldn't believe why anybody would want to hurt him.
"Hello," Charlie said while he slowly closed the distance between them, "my name is Charles, but everybody calls Charlie."
When he stood almost in front of the boy, he stopped walking, keeping a safe distance away. He didn't want the boy to get claustrophobic. Charlie knew that he'd always appreciated it when he was given some room to work with his chalk boards. So the boy would appreciate it too be given some space after something terrible had happened.
"I'm a professor and I teach children." Charlie continued in a friendly voice. He wasn't actually teaching children as they were all adults too, but that was how Charlie liked to see them. Kids who were still discovering the truth, knowledge.
"Do you go to school?" Charlie hadn't expected the boy to answer. He hadn't even expected him to move, he was a complete stranger after all, but he couldn't help but smile when that boy looked at him with his big brown eyes. He still had a sad gaze in his eyes, but he had stopped shaking completely now.
"I bet you have a lot of friends, you're probably a very popular kid." Charlie said, wanting to keep talking, "do you like going to school?"
And then the boy made a small movement with his head as if he were nodding. Charlie smiled at him, encouraging him to keep communicating with him.
"What do you love to do most?" Charlie then asked him, taking a step closer to him.
The boy swallowed heavy and blinked his eyes a few times. He stopped his crying and was now drying his red eyes.
"Drawing." The boy answered in a weak voice.
"I bet you're a fantastic artist, that you make beautiful drawings." Charlie said while he now stood just before the boy. He didn't want to appear big and threatening, so he kneeled down, making the boy look down on him in stead of him looking down on the boy.
"Do you remember my name?" Charlie asked the child who was now looking in his eyes.
"Charlie." came the small soft reply.
"That's right, I'm Charlie. What is your name?" Charlie asked the boy, not seeing Megan watching him. "Can I know your name?" Charlie then asked him again, a smile still filling his face. The boy remained quiet for a moment, looking suspicious at Charlie and Charlie hoped that the boy would trust him.
"Andrew." He finally answered.
"Hey, Andrew, nice to meet you." Charlie laughed softly.
"Did he just talked to you?" Charlie was startled by the sudden voice and quickly turned around, seeing Megan standing a few feet away. Charlie stood up and looked at Andrew.
"Yeah," Charlie finally answered after a moment of silence, "is that so strange then?"
"Charlie, he's refusing to talk to anyone. He has completely shut himself off from us." Megan said, not believing what was happening. As she waved Don over, the two medics immediately followed him.
"What did he say?" Megan asked Charlie then.
"This is Andrew." Charlie said, stepping beside the boy who now seemed intimidated by the sudden presence of all those adults. His eyes became wet again and his shoulder became tenser.
okay," Charlie said in a soft voice, "nobody will hurt you, they
only want to help."
The boy looked up at him with a broken gaze and then Charlie knew what he had to do. He needed to take care of this kid, he needed to keep him safe and protect him. And suddenly, he knew how Don always felt with Charlie around. Overprotective and always looking after him and now it was Charlie's turn to be that way.
"Look, you're scaring him so maybe you need to back off a little." Charlie said in a firm voice.
"What is it with you people? We need to do our job." The older medic protested.
"They're brothers." Megan noted and the youngest medic nodded, as if he now understood what was happening.
"That explains a lot." The medic then said, a soft smile covering his face, "but we still need to help him." He now looked serious again.
Charlie felt a warm little hand grab his and he looked at Andrew, confused that he was the one searching contact. Andrew was looking at him with a desperate gaze in his eyes, begging Charlie not to leave him. Charlie kneeled down again and gently placed his hand on Andrew's curls, hoping that it wouldn't scare the boy.
"I'm not leaving you and I will take care of you, I promise, nobody is going to hurt you ever again." Charlie said in a low voice and looking into Andrew's eyes. The boy blinked a few times and then nodded.