Disclaimer: I don't own them, I just borrowed them. Numb3rs and its characters are the property of those that created them. No copyright infringement intended. No financial reward gained. All real places and organisations are used in a fictional sense. Original characters and the storyline are mine however.
"I want the chopper." The gangster demanded, loosening his hold slightly so his hostage could breathe. A dead hostage was of no use to him.
"I'll see what we can do. In the meantime-"
"You're not hearing me." The gangster interrupted. "Get me the chopper or I'll kill him."
"The moment you do that we'll kill you." The officer said in a move more along the lines of what Don himself would have said if their positions had been reversed rather than what the manual said. He then returned to the book, speaking slowly and clearly in emphasis to back up his words. "Just take it easy, slow it down and we'll work this out."
"Get it back here."
"It's gone back to refuel. That's going to take some time."
"No. It's got fuel to get back there, it can take me with it. Get it back!"
"It's already gone." The officer insisted, sticking to his calming tone in stark contrast to the gangster's increasingly desperate one.
"Tell him." The gangster demanded, hissing in the agent's ear.
Don tilted his head to the side as the gun pressed harder. "Tell him what? That you'll kill me? He knows that. The helicopter's gone. Deal with it." His hand suddenly scrabbled against the arm around his neck as it tightened in response. Perhaps he should have been more careful in what he said but it was hard enough to think let alone edit his thoughts before he spoke.
"Let him breathe or we'll be forced to shoot." The officer warned.
The pressure eased again, leaving him coughing and gagging. His legs, already weak threatened to drop out under him. Don decided he'd had enough. The boy was safe and he really couldn't do this any more. He flashed a warning look at the negotiating officer, seeing a slight widening of the eyes in answer. Don took the only move open to him, allowing his legs to collapse he dropped his entire bodyweight onto the restraining arm. The gangster was unprepared having just loosened his grip and Don slipped through the loop of his arm, crumpling to a heap at the man's feet. The gangster lunged after him but for the barest moment the man's gun was off target and that was all the opening the officers needed. A barrage of shots rang out and the gangster dropped, dead before he hit the ground mere inches from his intended target.
There was another babble of voices.
"Get a medic up here!"
"Agent, can you hear me?"
"Alright, we've got you."
He needed to know one thing, "Jason?"
"The boy?" The sheriff's deputy leaning over him queried. At the hint of a nod he continued. "He's fine. We know he's with you."
"We know, Agent. Now, let us worry about you, okay?" The man continued. "I'm going to roll you onto your side, nice and easy now. We've got a medic on the way and we'll get you off to hospital as soon as we can."
As he'd spoken he'd waved a second officer in and together they carefully rolled the agent onto his left side, taking all weight and pressure off his injured arm and shoulder. Don didn't take much note of things after that, vaguely aware that the gangster's body was dragged a short distance away to make room by him and that the helicopter had returned.
"Hey, stay with us." A new voice admonished.
Don realised he'd faded out, opening his eyes to see a man wearing an EMT's outfit. Over the sound of the helicopter fading away he could hear a fast, slightly irregular pulsing and guessed the man had been there for a little while if a monitor was already attached. "Tired."
"I know you are. You've lost a lot of blood, but I need you to stay with me."
"Well, try harder." The EMT demanded.
Don tried his best, knowing it was important but the struggle was beyond him.
The EMT worked quickly getting a line in and had one of the officers actively squeeze the bag of saline to force the urgently needed fluid into his patient's veins. But despite his efforts to stabilise the agent he noted his patient was again fading. "Hey, come on. I thought you feds were tougher than the rest of us mere mortals."
Don could barely manage a twitch at the well meaning insult. He couldn't make out what the EMT said next as he surrendered to the comforting darkness. He was safe, the kid was safe, it was time to rest.
The beeping was slow, far slower than the last time he'd heard it. The irregular hiccups were gone as well. Listening to the steady, almost comforting sound he relaxed until it faded.
He awoke with a start as his head shifted and bounced gently.
"Oh, hey there." A pleasant female voice said softly. "My name is Amanda. It's nice to finally meet you."
Don recognised the woman for a nurse, the movement that had woken him had been her adjustment of the pillow beneath his head. He did his best to smile back at the face looking down on him. "Hey."
Her grin widened. "Your father said you had a great smile."
His face suddenly warmed into a blush. "Taken."
"Oh, I know. She's been in the last few days." The nurse got back to work, pulling the blanket back and bending over his right side. "I just need to see how the circulation is going in your arm then I'll let the doctor know you're back with us."
Don looked down and saw the complicated brace that held his arm static in a semi raised position. A clean white dressing covered what he could see of his shoulder and extended down almost to his elbow. As she felt for the pulse in his wrist he had to ask, "How long?"
"Four days?" Don repeated in shock. That long?
"You're doing fine." Amanda soothed. "But I really should let the doctor tell you the rest."
He felt an instant flush of panic, what didn't she want to tell him? The tones from the heart rate monitor increased in frequency. "My arm?"
"Hey, Agent, relax. The circulation looks good." She finished squeezing his fingertips and pulled the blanket back up. She leant over him, brushing a hand over his forehead and across his head in a gesture of reassurance. "You are on the mend. It's going to take some time but you'll get there. Don't worry."
"Let me see."
At the urgency in his voice Amanda pulled the blanket back down, her hand gently taking his. He felt her warm fingers, just as he'd felt the pressure against his fingertips earlier. Half afraid at what might happen he tried to gently squeeze the hand in his and felt a flush of relief as his hand tightened slightly, he had no strength but the positive movement was all he needed for now. She returned the squeeze before pulling her hand away as he relaxed. A light caress over his lower arm and the blanket was replaced.
"The nerve wasn't damaged." She said, offering more reassurance.
The feel of her hand in his, the brush of her hand on his arm reassured him far more than her words as she would have known. "Thank-you."
"I've heard the doctor tell your father you should get your full range of movement back. But it will be some time before you are back out catching the bad guys again." She warned.
He relaxed even further at hearing the news he needed. That it would take a while he could believe based on his own diagnosis of his shoulder at the time. He looked around the room, seeing it for a standard private single room but it seemed that other than the nurse he was alone. The nurse had mentioned others. "My father? Robin?"
"He's gone for lunch. Your girlfriend will probably be back in this afternoon as usual. Your brother has been in several times a day along with some of your colleagues. You are a popular guy." The nurse finished, bringing him up to date on the movements around him. She'd cared for enough injured cops to know what information they needed. Cocking her head to the side as she saw his acknowledgement of her understanding she added, "And if you keep smiling like that you'll have all the nurses in here as well."
Another blush warmed his face at the light flirting as she straightened up and made some notations on the chart at the foot of his bed. "Alright, Agent. That's me for now. I'll see the doctor then I'll track down your father. Okay?"
The doctor arrived within minutes and gave him a full technical diagnosis of his arm and shoulder. He instantly forgot all the terms straight out of Grant's Anatomy but understood all the important bits. The main artery in his arm had indeed been damaged as he'd suspected, a tear that his constant movement had aggravated. The demands he'd made of his body had driven up his blood pressure further hindering the body's natural mechanisms to prevent blood loss. The bleeding had reduced his blood volume to dangerous levels and his exertions had led to him being brought into hospital in critical condition. Numerous units of blood and urgent surgery to seal the artery had come just in time to save his life. Given his condition they'd kept him sedated and waited a couple of days before returning him to surgery to attend to his shoulder.
The bullet that had lodged in his shoulder had broken the bone into several pieces that he'd further damaged along the way. Explaining to the doctor that he'd fallen several times had the doctor nodding, but the next explanation that he'd deliberately rammed the shoulder into an offender had the man shaking his head in disapproval.
"Not like I had a choice, Doctor." Don pointed out.
"No, I guess not." The man allowed. "I don't know what went on out there but I can say that based on your injuries and the state you were in when you came in you are lucky to be alive right now."
The doctor didn't know the half of it but Don just nodded.
"At the moment our main concern is infection, the wounds were packed with dirt so we've given you a tetanus booster and put you on a course of antibiotic injections. You'll be staying with us until we can be sure everything is under control. After that it will be basic wound management and you'll have to wear that brace for a couple of months to allow the shoulder to heal properly."
"The nurse said I'll get full movement back."
"You should. But the bones have to heal first before we can organise physio for you." The doctor explained. "Oh, good afternoon, Mr Eppes."
"Doc." Alan greeted as he entered the room. "Donny, how are you feeling?"
"Much better than I was." He was aware that his entire body ached, a feeling that was heavier in his shoulder than anywhere else. The pain meds delivered by one of the machines hooked up to him was keeping it all under control. Even with the drugs he was feeling surprisingly awake and relatively clear. "The doctor's been filling me in."
"Good, so you know there'll be no more of that Lone Ranger stuff for a while."
"Wasn't Lone Ranger, Dad." The gentle hand on his uninjured shoulder told him all he needed to know about his father's worry as the doctor did a quick fade.
"No? What would you call it going alone out there?"
"Unplanned necessity?" He tried. "I did my best to avoid it, but that's the job."
Alan sighed, patting at his son's shoulder. Donny had only just woken up and he was already on his son's case. "I know, I'm sorry. I'm not having a go at you son, I know you're not reckless, you're not that person any more, but when David called and said you were out there alone, in trouble…" He trailed off.
"I had back-up coming, they just didn't make it in time. Didn't David tell you? I didn't have the option of waiting." Surely by now the boy would have told his side of the story? The boy! "Jason? How is the boy?"
"He's fine. Spent a day in here for observation for injuries after the crash and was released. David says WitSec have them sequestered now."
"He'll need counselling."
"And he's going to get it." David said from the door. "I was just dropping by to see how you were and they told me you were awake. How are you feeling?"
"Yeah, you look it."
"All clean, patched up and with pretty nurses at my beck and call, I think I'm doing okay."
"Better not let Robin hear you saying that." Alan admonished.
"She won't." Don flashed his agent a look. David responded by sealing his lips shut and throwing away an imaginary key. "Good man."
"What about me?"
The look he gave his father was different from the one he'd given David. This was cheekier. "You won't tell because you want grand-kids."
"I think he's definitely feeling better." David commented to Alan.
"After the last four days he better be." The older man said with a smile even if the undertone of worry came through clearly. At least this time Donny hadn't flatlined.
Don got back on track, he had plenty of time ahead of him to talk this over with his father. There were things he needed to cover now. "Jason? The family?"
"WitSec have the ball." David confirmed, slipping into report mode. "Jason has given us a full statement about what went on out there and WitSec will make sure he gets counselling."
"Given everything that's happened WitSec decided to take them home to be together."
That was a far better solution, Don thought, as he nodded his approval. There was something else pressing on his mind. Shooting his father a guilty look he went ahead anyway, he needed to know. "How many?"
David understood the question immediately. He turned to Alan. "Mr Eppes, maybe you don't want to hear this."
Alan looked to his son and then back to David. At the hesitation he knew what his son wanted to know, how many of the men after him had he killed. David had kept that precise detail a secret from the family and he was sure he would hear of it all too soon anyway, but for now the relief on Don's face at his agent's suggestion had him stepping away from the bed. He could wait until Donny felt up to telling him. "I think it's high time I called your brother and let him know you're back with us. Then, maybe another cup of coffee. David?"
"Nah, I'm good thanks, Mr Eppes." David followed him to the door and gently closed it behind him.
"How many, David? Four?" He went for worst case scenario.
"Three. One by the road and the two that had caught the boy. The one on the hill you just winged. The other four the locals took down." David watched as Don closed his eyes. He knew his boss, knew how badly killing affected him even if he was more than capable of doing what was needed. "You had no choice, Don. You know that."
Don added the last man to his tally, he'd signalled for the shot even if he hadn't been the one to actually pull the trigger. But the first and last deaths didn't bother him as much as, "I killed two right in front of the boy."
"And he'll get all the counselling he needs. You had no choice." David repeated. "He's alive because of you. He understands that and you should too."
"I just wish there'd been some other way."
"From what he's told us there wasn't. Your statement, when we take it, will bear that up. I know you, Don, I know you only shoot if you absolutely have to. So stop beating yourself up about it. He's going to be fine." David insisted. "He's decided on a new career path in fact."
"Not with us." Don objected. He'd have thought Jason had experienced more than enough violence.
"No. He wants to be a doctor so he can better patch up shot-up federal agents."
"Now that I can live with."
A/N: So there we have it, he is on the mend even if it will take some time. As always, I greatly appreciate every review. Until next time… Thank-you.