Title: Future Connection

Genre: Crossover (Numb3rs/Batman Beyond)

Author: FaithDaria

Summary: An epilogue of sorts to PaBurke's Gotham Connection series.

Author's Note: Set before Epilogue, but several years after the show. My take on what takes place between the two. No real spoilers.

Charlie had watched the tall figure slip into the back of the lecture hall for three different lectures this past week, always at just the last moment, and disappear again as soon as he released the class. That in itself was fairly unusual; at this level of academia the students typically wanted to be here and tended to show up early and linger long after to ask questions. All the students who were registered for these classes were accounted for, and Charlie knew at least the faces of nearly everybody in the department who hadn't registered. This young man didn't fall in either category.

Over the course of his life, Charlie had spent thousands of hours with FBI agents. It had served to refine his own curiosity, already naturally strong, and few mysteries entered his realm of influence without a good attempt at unraveling them. This one was no different. After considering and discarding several sneaky ways, he decided on the direct approach and called him down for an impromptu demonstration just before he ended the class, handily getting his name and his attention at the same time. When the young man attempted to escape with the others, Charlie blocked him with his cane. It was one of the many uses he had found for the thing over the past few years.

"I've noticed you in my lectures this week," he said, smiling up (way up, he noted) at his visitor. "I enjoy meeting another lover of math."

Terry laughed. "Boy, have you got the wrong guy. I got maybe a third of what you said, and that's just because someone else drilled it into my head when I was in high school."

Charlie kept smiling. He knew a closet math-phile when he saw one, regardless of protests, and he'd seen the kid's lecture notes. He understood more than he let on. "So why are you here?"

"I have a friend who's a big fan, and who is impossible to buy presents for. My boss sent me out here to take care of a few problems. It seemed like a pretty good fit."

"Lecture notes as a gift?" Charlie would have enjoyed such a thing, but this was the first time he'd ever heard of it. "Must be a pretty remarkable friendship."

"My best friend was high school valedictorian and got a perfect score on her GAT's. Made life interesting."

"How is that?"

The boy flashed a wolfish grin. "I was the bad boy who barely managed to pass family studies."

"I see. Would you mind helping me carry my things back to my office?" Charlie leaned a little on his cane, reinforcing the 'helpless old academic' image. He could have carried them himself, of course, but hauling around books for professors was the reason they had undergrads. Besides, he was enjoying this talk and wanted it to continue. Terry gave him a look that seemed to doubt the harmless old man story, but he obligingly picked up the stack of books and papers and followed Charlie through the maze that was the back hallways of Cal Sci.

"So, Terry, what is it that you do?" He glanced over at the young man, who had a slight smile on his face.

"Whatever my boss either can't or won't do himself," Terry replied. "He runs his family business. He mostly sends me out to the places he doesn't want to go."

"And that includes LA?"

"That includes all of California. I don't think he trusts anyplace with this much sunshine." The young man's pocket beeped, and he shifted the stack of books over to one arm and pulled out a cell phone. "Slag it," he said, rolling his eyes. "I've got to get going if I want to make that meeting. Where's your office?"

"Three doors down, on the left." Charlie picked up his pace and unlocked the door for Terry, who deposited the books on the corner of his desk.

"It was nice meeting you, Professor Eppes," Terry said, holding out his hand. Charlie shook it, a little bemused at how the easy-going young man had transformed into a professional between one moment and the next. Terry nodded and ducked out the door, leaving Charlie alone in his office. Charlie sat down at his desk, smiled to himself, and made a note of the name. He'd give Terry McGinnis a few weeks before contacting him about his non-traditional student program.

Charlie spent the remainder of his official workday marking papers before heading home. It was his turn to cook dinner so that Amita could work on her own projects, one of the little compromises they had devised early on in their marriage. He turned on the news for company while he worked, which was how he happened to catch a newly familiar name.

"Terrence McGinnis, Vice President and heir apparent to Wayne Enterprises, was on hand to finalize the acquisition of Diamond Communications. DC is well-known for their cutting-edge technological breakthroughs, but had hit financial troubles when rumors about former CEO Harold Enrod's unscrupulous business practices began last year." Charlie muted the television and studied the image there. It seems he was right. There was definitely more to the young man than met the eye.

He hoped he could find out how much more.

***