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.
A/N: The end. Thank-you to all those who read and extra thanks for the wonderful reviews. I hope this doesn't disappoint…
The throw phone rang and Isaacs answered it.
I then saw the main doors to the synagogue open and a LAPD SWAT team made entry. At the same time I heard noises coming from the Rabbi's offices located behind our position on the dais.
I pushed both Ms Levi and my brother to the floor, covering them both with my body.
I heard a number of gunshots.
There were then a number of voices saying words to the effect: "Do not move. Drop the weapon."
I then heard the sound of someone approaching and looked up to see Isaacs approximately two yards away.
Isaacs had his weapon up and I believed he intended to kill us.
I saw past Isaacs and realised that SWAT were unable to take action to this threat as we were in their line of fire. I then heard a sound that I took to be the door to the Rabbi's offices being forced.
I believed that I did not have the time to wait for the second SWAT team to be in place. I decided that I had to take action.
Isaacs took a step closer, bringing his firearm to bear. I raised my left hand and he started to knock it away. I then brought my right hand up and grabbed Isaacs' gun hand. I brought my left across and with both hands attempted to gain control of the firearm.
In the struggle I took Isaacs to the floor and tried to force the firearm from his grip whilst keeping the muzzle pointed away from Ms Levi and Charlie.
I felt several impacts to my head and upper body. I saw that Isaacs had his left hand clenched into a fist that he was using to punch me.
I then felt several blows to my injured left shoulder causing excruciating pain. I felt a heavy blow to the side of my head and felt sudden weakness causing me to fall back and my grip on the firearm started to slip.
My fall was broken by a table. An object started to fall and I found myself distracted. I made a grab for the heavy object, preventing it striking me. I lost my grip on the firearm in the process.
In reflex I held the object up between myself and the firearm as Isaacs pulled the trigger.
Charlie had to stop reading again. He wasn't so sure that his brother giving him his statement to read had been such a great idea. Everything was coming back all too clearly for his liking. He wasn't likely to forget that afternoon in a hurry and had hoped that providing his statement would be a way of putting this behind him, until the court case anyway. By then it would not be so raw he was sure but for now it was too fresh, too real. Don's statement, dry and matter of fact as it was, wasn't helping him to forget what he felt as he witnessed his brother's desperate struggle over the gun.
Charlie felt the comforting pressure of Don's body leave his. Ms Levi lay trembling beneath him as he could hear shouted commands being made by the SWAT team as they ran down the aisle towards them. As his brother moved Charlie risked lifting his head and saw that the gunman was almost on them, his gun aimed at Don. What happened next was exactly what he had expected and feared, Don went on the offensive, lunging at the gun.
The struggle was fierce, the two men grappling for control of the gun. The muzzle waved in their direction before Don wrestled it away. Staggering across the dais it was not certain who had the upper hand, one moment it was Don then it was the gunman. Affected by withdrawal the gunman was not as coordinated as he could have been but that was balanced by Don being hampered by his injuries reducing his strength and making him move slower than normal. Forced to keep both hands on the weapon he was unable to defend himself when the gunman started punching at him. Charlie watched in horror as the blows rained down on Don's chest and head. The gunman suddenly shifted and with his new angle was able to direct his blows onto Don's shoulder, the bloodied shirt providing a clear target at which to aim.
Charlie heard Don's sharp cry as the first blow landed, the others drawing grunts as he concentrated all his efforts on the gun. The gunman reared back and thrust himself forward, putting all of his weight behind his fist as he drove it against the side of Don's head. The sound made Charlie feel instantly sick as Don fell back against the table on which items were set out ready for the ceremony. His brother was still moving, still trying to stay in the fight but Charlie could see he'd been stunned.
The gunman pounced and using both hands was able to wrest the gun out of Don's grip. In the process he bumped the table hard. The ceremonial Menorah teetered in slow motion before overbalancing and falling. For a moment Charlie was sure that his brother was about to be struck by the ornate candelabrum when Don's hands reached up and somehow caught it.
There were loud shouts ringing in his ears but Charlie barely noted them, focused on the man who was victoriously raising his gun and taking aim. This was it, there was absolutely no doubt, no alternative paths. Time slowed even further as Don unaccountably raised the Menorah as if it would shield him.
A childhood memory rose unbidden. Charlie flashed on a horror movie he'd seen years before, shivering on the couch as his brother laughed. Their parents had gone out, leaving fourteen-year-old Don in charge. He'd somehow obtained a violent and gory vampire movie and had conned him into watching it. With the lights turned out he soon found himself terrified and had tried to escape to his bedroom and safety but Don had forbidden it. There had been a scene near the end, the hero and his friends about to be slaughtered when one had found an old Christian cross and held it up to fend off the vampires. Don was holding the Menorah in almost the exact same pose. Charlie was brought crashing back to reality.
The gunman didn't hesitate, his finger tightened on the trigger.
Charlie's stressed mind briefly failed to reconcile the sound with what he'd expected to hear. There had been no explosion, no gases propelling a solid projectile down the barrel and the distressingly short distance into his brother's head. Somehow the gun had misfired, forensic and ballistic examination would later show no reason for that. Don would later shrug it off but as far as he was concerned it was nothing less than a miracle.
Even as Charlie realised what had happened his brother was already moving, dropping the Menorah against his body as he once again reached for the gun. The gunman meanwhile had started jerking at the slide and almost lost his grip as Don tried to pull the gun away. There was a yell and the gunman jerked back. Charlie saw the man's finger was caught in the trigger guard, he still had possession of the gun.
There was the sound of splintering wood from the Rabbi's office followed by more shouts as the SWAT team finally managed to break down what Charlie had later learnt was a heavily strengthened and barricaded door. Don suddenly rolled, curling to the side and taking the Menorah with him as he moved. Charlie wasn't sure if that was intentional or not. Time suddenly regained its normal pace as the angry shouts grew more intense. Black clad figures stormed across in front of him and the sound of gunshots was startlingly loud. Even as his ears rang gloved hands were grabbing at him, dragging him away to safety. The muffled scream beside him distracted him for a moment and he turned to see Ms Levi being similarly manhandled away by a SWAT officer.
Charlie suddenly tried to fight back, being pushed up the aisle towards the doors was not where he wanted to be. He'd lost track of Don and needed to know what had happened. A briefly caught glimpse back at the dais had him seeing only a crowd of SWAT members, no sign of either the gunman or Don. Had one or more of the shots he'd heard been from the gunman's weapon? Was Don-? Had his brother just been-? Again he couldn't finish the thought. He shoved and twisted, trying to turn but the man hustling him along was too strong and he found himself outside. He shouted and continued to fight ignoring the voice in his ears that tried to calm him. He didn't need to be calm, he needed to know what had happened.
The hands on him tightened their grip, the voice became more insistent. Suddenly all his strength left him and he would have fallen without the officer's support.
"Easy, sir. I've got you. It's over, you're safe now."
Sagging against the man Charlie could only look back at the once impressive doors. Now they were a barrier separating him from Don. "My brother. What happened to my brother? Please?" He pleaded.
"Steady. You're safe."
That was not what he needed to hear, not what he cared about right now. Frustrated anger returned his strength and he struck out but his blows were deflected, his wrists captured and held. "I don't care about me, what has happened to Don? Where's my brother?"
"Sir, calm down." The officer was far more forceful now, the words were no longer designed to soothe instead they were a command. He continued, using reason where platitudes had failed. "I can't find out for you if you keep this up."
The threat/promise penetrated and he allowed himself to be handed over to the EMTs for assessment.
Charlie forced himself out of his reverie. That had not been the most dignified moment of his life, fighting against the police officer, his voice rising like a child's. That depth of fear he'd rather never experience again, this being the third time in recent years that this had happened. Even as their father from time to time tried to get Don to talk about his Fugitive Recovery days he was perfectly happy when his brother changed the subject. He was sure that those days spent chasing the desperate on the run involved more close calls that he really didn't need to hear about. The tally would hold at three and never increase if there was anyway he could manage it. He quashed the immediate thought that followed, not needing to remind himself that basic probability, given the previous results, did not allow for such an unrealistic expectation.
Again he had to force himself out of his head. It was easier this time, so perhaps this had been a good idea after all, when he went over this with the police for his statement he should be able to present himself as a tenured professor, not a frightened brother. Speaking of which, he glanced up at the clock and saw that if he didn't hustle he'd actually be late for his appointment. Gathering up Don's statement, he was to hand it in for him, he caught at the strap to his laptop bag and headed out.
It was late afternoon and he was exhausted as he pulled into a visitor's space outside Don's apartment block. He had to sit for a few minutes, gathering his strength before he could climb out and make his way over to the elevators. Giving the statement had been every bit as draining and traumatic as he'd thought. He'd been trapped again in his thoughts several times, reliving points as he tried to describe them to the officer. The officer had been genuinely empathetic, obviously experienced in taking these types of statements and was able to soothe and provide support where needed to make the process as painless as possible. The end result of all that work was sitting in his laptop bag, a copy 'for his records'. He didn't think he ever wanted to see the document again but also knew that was unrealistic, the trial would be many months off yet and he would be forced to refer to it for the finer points. The elevator chimed and he stepped off, making it the few yards to his brother's door.
"Hey, Chuck." Don greeted as he opened up to his brother's knock. "I've been waiting for you. Beer?"
Charlie took the offered bottle, already opened in preparation. Not normally one to rely on alcohol as any sort of crutch he found he could really use a beer now. He followed his brother in, remembering to shut and lock the door behind him. He'd not phoned ahead or indicated that he would come here after giving his statement but Don obviously had expected him.
"Let me just finish this." Don went back to the table and tapped a final key on the laptop David had returned. Seeing how well depriving his boss of options had gone the temporary supervisor had brought it back the day after the incident. Don working from home was far better than having him land himself in the middle of a situation. For the moment however Charlie could see that the screen wasn't open on an FBI document. Don turned away as he saw the acknowledgment of his order flash up. "Pizza's on the way."
Still a little numb, both from his afternoon and the way that Don seemed to automatically know exactly what he needed he allowed himself to be directed to the lounge and settled. Seeing the sling that his brother was wearing and feeling the need to say something he tipped the top of his beer in that direction. "How's the arm?"
Don put his beer down to pull at the material, he was wearing the sling but he disliked the restriction to his movements even if he'd finally accepted it was necessary. The replaced stitches in his arm itched as he'd complained when Charlie had visited yesterday. The bulky dressing on the top of his shoulder also wasn't making things any better. He shrugged then winced. "The drugs help."
"Should you be drinking?"
"Probably not, but not gonna let you drink alone. Just the one for me, Charlie. That's it." Don promised.
Nodding Charlie suddenly held up his bottle as he leant forward. His brother mirrored him and the tops clinked together gently. "Here's to not doing that again."