Title: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me

Fandom: Numb3rs

Genre: Gen, mention of Charlie/Amita

Rating: PG-13/T

Spoilers: general for the series, largely set in no particular season. No spoilers for season 6.

Warnings: violence

Characters: Don, Charlie, Larry, Amita

Word count: 2210

Disclaimer: Own nothing, not being paid

A/N: Written for lj comm hurt_don's September clue challenge (no. 3) of who: Don, what: book, where: Charlie's office. Thank you to dreambrother89 and Cha Oseye Tempest Thrain for the beta, and starrylizard for the lookthrough. Thank you to my dad for some info so that I didn't have to google.

Summary: Five times that Don Eppes got hurt in Charlie's office by a book.


"Chuck?" Don called from the door.

Charlie's office was dark, the shades pulled down and the lights out. The lights in the corridor were also out; Don knew that some green-minded person in Charlie's corridor often turned them off before they left for the night.

"Over here."

Charlie's voice was quiet and strained, coming from somewhere near his desk. The pieces all clicked together in Don's mind and he realised that Charlie probably had a migraine. They were fortunately few and far between but when they hit Charlie would need quiet and darkness to reduce the pain and nausea.

Don waited a few seconds more, giving his eyes a bit more time to adjust to the dark. The different shades of darkness popped out, the furniture and the shadows they cast the blackest things in the room. Feeling slightly more confident that he could navigate, Don moved forward.

Things were fine until he hit Charlie's desk. Literally. Which sent a stack of books on the edge of it sliding off to land with a bang on the top of his feet as he put his hands on the desk to steady himself.

"Shit shit shit," he cursed as his leg throbbed in tandem with his feet. There were definitely going to be bruises. Bruises upon bruises.

He crouched down and removed the offending books from their positions on top of his feet and rubbed the sore flesh. Dress shoes had not been much protection.

A whimper came from the other side of the desk and Don straightened back up. The noise he and the books had made would have hurt Charlie too. Don sighed and limped around the desk.

He made sure he didn't trip over Charlie.


"Charlie, you said you were going to—"

Something hard hit the back of his head at speed, pushing him further forward into the office. He was falling, falling fast to the floor, and as he went he saw Charlie's feet sticking out from behind the desk, wicked witch of the west style. The floor hit him, knocking the breath out of his lungs. Don groaned, rolling slightly to see a man standing beside the doorway, a large book in his hands. The man came closer and Don tried to get his feet under him, tried to reach for his gun. His feet and hands didn't want to work properly, his eyes didn't want to clear. The book was raised and crashed down on his face.

Don felt his body falling back and then everything faded away.


"But the book—" Malcolm stopped, breathing hard, the hand holding the gun rising up to his head to wipe at the sweat on his forehead. His face was scrunched up, distress in every line. "The book says I have to. I have no choice."

"You always have a choice, Malcolm." Don put his free hand up, imploring Malcolm to think and change his mind. He did his best to ignore Charlie's distraught and terrified expression from the corner where Charlie was trying to not be noticed, not be a target like Don had been.

Don could feel the panic seeping into the corners of his mind, bleeding out of where he'd bottled it up. The feeling of the warm liquid coating his hand, trickling through his fingers, was speeding up its escape. He wasn't sure how much longer he could hold on and try to talk their way out of this. Help would be on its way but Don didn't know whether they'd be any more successful than he was, at least in time to stop him bleeding out on the floor of Charlie's office or Charlie being hurt.

"I don't, I don't, I don't! Why won't you listen to me? I don't have a choice."

"Okay, okay, okay. I believe you." Don thought for a second. His head was starting to feel fuzzy, he needed to do something to get Charlie out of the firing line. "It doesn't say anything about their needing to be two, though, does it? One is enough, isn't it?"

"I-I-I don't know."

Don pressed on the advantage. "It should be, then, because if you needed more than one, you'd know, right? It'd have said."

Malcolm's expression was doubtful. "I guess so."

"Then let him go." Don angled his head to indicate Charlie. "You don't need him."

Charlie mouthed Don's name but Don ignored it.

Malcolm's hand went back up to rub at his forehead. "Okay, I guess, uh. He can go."

"Charlie, get out of here." Don gestured at the door, not wanting to see the shaking of Charlie's head that he got in return. "I mean it, Charlie, get out of here."

The shaking got more vigorous. "No, Don, I—"

"Get out, Chuck," Don said as forcefully as he could.

"Yeah," Malcolm said, swinging the gun towards Charlie. "I don't need you, too. I only need one, so get out. I said get out!"

Don tensed at the gun being pointed in Charlie's direction and he could see the extra alarm that Charlie was feeling with it being pointed towards him. Charlie finally tore his eyes away from the gun and slowly stood up. Hands up, he shuffled sideways to the door and out into safety. He disappeared from view the second he was outside, pulled to the left by an unseen force.

Don sighed in relief. Charlie was safe and the cavalry had arrived.


"Oh dear."

"Larry, just remember, it wasn't our fault."

"I repeat, oh dear. This, this was not meant to happen."

"How were we to know he was going to choose that exact minute to walk through the door?"

"Perhaps we might have postulated that someone could walk through the doorway before we started our little experiment."

"I guess you're right. We'll know to take that into account for next time. Man, he's really out cold. Guess I finally got him back for hitting me with his baseball bat when we were kids."

"How long is the prison term for assaulting an FBI agent? Wait, he hit you with his baseball bat?"

"Not intentionally. I kinda walked behind it. As for prison, longer when you're his brother."


Don walked into Charlie's office and plonked his butt on the chair beside Charlie's desk. Amita was sitting behind the desk in Charlie's chair, pecking away at her laptop's keyboard and there was no sign of the normal occupant of the office.

"Hey, Amita."

"Oh, hey, Don," she said, glancing briefly up to look at him before looking back down at the screen, still typing.

"Where's Charlie?"

Her eyes stayed glued to her screen as she replied, "He'll be back in about ten minutes. Millie pulled him into a meeting."

Don laughed. "I bet he liked that."

"There was much grumbling and protesting, but he finally went."

Pulling his foot up onto his knee, Don started scanning Charlie's desk for something to play with while he waited. It was obvious that Amita was working on some research, her complete focus even while replying to his questions was something that Don had seen before and usually indicated an Amita in "the zone". He definitely did not want to force her into a long conversation that would intrude on that special state that often resulted in several days' worth of breakthroughs happening in just a few hours.

Charlie's usual toys weren't on the desk, probably relegated to a drawer due to the fact that both he and Amita were sharing the same space. There was an open notebook with a pen resting on top of it off to the side, the handwriting indicating that it was Charlie's and the scrawl indicating that he'd been in similar zone to Amita's before he'd been pulled away by Millie. The faster Charlie had to get the ideas of out his head onto paper or black board, the messier the writing.

There was also a shrink-wrapped book within Don's reach. He picked it up out of curiosity. The cover was an aqua-blue and the title announced that it was conference proceedings for the International Conference on Numerical Analysis and Applied Mathematics from 2007, held in Greece.

"I don't remember Chuck going to Greece last year."

Amita paused in her typing and looked at him. "He didn't. We think he was sent the proceedings by mistake. It must happen occasionally."

"Yeah," Don replied, still studying the book. He was about to put it back down when in the dead silence of the room, Amita having not regained her train of thought, he picked up a quiet ticking. The typing started up again, drowning out the noise. "Amita, stop." Don waved a hand to emphasise the order.

"What?" Amita asked and he again waved his hand to indicate she needed to be quiet.

He could definitely hear ticking. Raising the book up towards his ear made it louder. A book shouldn't tick.

"Amita, get out of here, now."

Amita looked like she was about to question him, but instead pulled the power cable on her laptop and closed the lid. Don put the book back on the table, making certain to keep it flat but largely unworried about any motion sensitivity to the bomb as it had been handled just fine without blowing him up. The ticking was the issue, they had no idea when the book would blow.

Amita grabbed Charlie's notepad as well before moving past the desk, letting Don push her ahead of him as she hugged the laptop and notes to her chest.

"Is that a bomb?" she asked incredulously as she ran, clearly freaked out.

"Yeah, just keep on moving," Don replied.

The timer went off when they reached the door.

The explosion thrust them out into the corridor and to the floor. Don could feel heat on his back and the impact of debris as they crashed to the floor, Amita breaking his fall somewhat. He shifted to the side, trying to get his weight off her. Something in his back protested the movement and he stopped moving with a groan.

"Don?" The word was shaky, but at least Amita hadn't been knocked out by hitting the floor.

"Yeah." Don tried to shift again and grunted when the pain flared. There was definitely something wrong with his back. "Are you hurt?"

"My chest and stomach hurts, but I think that's what you get for landing on a laptop. I can't believe that that was a bomb. Someone was trying to blow up Charlie." Amita's last words were laced with the beginnings of panic.

"Amita, it's going to be okay, sweetie." Don stopped speaking, listening to her gulping back tears. "I need you to do something for me, okay? I need you to try and slide out from underneath me. You think you can do that for me, Amita?"

"Yeah," she replied, her voice stronger and more resolute. "Yeah."

She started wiggling to the side, jarring him with each movement, and the worst pain that Don had ever felt exploded in his back. He hadn't even realised that he'd greyed out until he heard Amita worriedly saying his name.

"Keep going," he said through gritted teeth. Lying flat on the floor and not putting all his weight on Amita could only be a good thing. Plus if Amita was largely okay she could help their rescuers in trying to get them out. The side of the corridor that he could see was blocked.

A few horrible seconds later he was on the floor and Amita was sitting beside him. He heard the indrawn breath from her even as he was trying to calm down his own breathing and will the pain from the knives, needles and swords shoved into his back to subside.


The tone of the word was all he needed to know that it was bad. Almost immediately after, a ringing started. It took a few moments for them both to connect it with the word 'phone'.

"Not mine," Don said, not recognising the ring.

Amita reached into her jeans pocket and pulled out her cell phone. She pressed the answer button without looking at the screen.

"Hello? Charlie...are you okay?...Yeah, I was in your office, there was a bomb. Don's also here, he's hurt, hurt really bad...Five? Five explosions..." She was rendered speechless, looking down at Don, disbelief in her eyes. "We're-we're right outside your office, in the corridor. They need to hurry. Don's back is burnt and," her voice wobbled, "there's a huge lump of metal sticking out of him...okay. I'm okay. I love you, too."

There was a huge lump of metal sticking out of him. That explained the pain Don felt. He thought he should feel panicked at hearing it, but all he felt was detached. Amita hung up the phone and reached down, touching him on the face.

"Don, you need to hold on. It's going to be okay."

She tapped against his cheek, but he only distantly felt it.

"Don, Don! You've got to stay with me. Please. Don..."

The last thing he saw were the tears on her face.