Connect the dots

Word Count: 28.450

Summary: While helping Don out with a case, Charlie gets hit by a car. Soon it becomes clear that the accident was in fact an attack. A race against the clock begins, loyalties are questioned and Charlie has to fight his very own demons.

Characters: Charlie Eppes, Don Eppes, Alan Eppes, Amita Ramanujan, David Sinclair, Megan Reeves, Colby Granger, Larry Fleinhardt, OCs

Pairing: Charlie/Amita (but only hints – canon pre-relationship)

Rating: PG
Spoiler: Sniper Zero,
For better or worse
Setting:
Season 2 – after For better or worse
Author's Note:
Written for the Numb3rs Big Bang 2010. The challenge asked for at least 20.000 words.

Feedback: Can't breathe without it.

Beta: Thanks to Lilac for the very first read-through of the beginning – it really helped me out. You may not know it, but you made Agent Hitchcock a more complex character just by pointing out the flaws in the early plot. And thank you for hooking me up with …

… Ruth – one of the fastest betas ever. Thanks for straightening out my mistakes and for making the story better.

And Anne-Aunyme: You are my German run-to girl for everything concerning Numb3rs. You did a bang up job with that beta, pointing out my obvious story flaws and making me laugh. Above all this, you encouraged me to go through with the story when I was frustrated, reminding me of the deadline and telling me to keep writing. Thanks.

Disclaimer: I'm not making money with this fanfic. The tv-show Numb3rs and the characters appearing within it belong to their producers and creators. Any similarities to living or dead persons are purely coincidental and not intended.

XXX

XXX

8 agents

8 years

1 hit and run

x dirty cops

1.

"Oh, God! Oh, my …"

It was almost dark around him - night. A few feet away, he saw street lanterns but their cold light was barely able to reach him. It was raining. And it was cold. And there was something directly above him he didn't recognize at first, until his vision cleared and he realized that there were trees forming a black semi-roof against the dark blue cloudy sky above him ... and he wondered for a second why he was just lying here, on the ground, if it was raining so hard.

The pain came back then and he groaned loudly. Everything hurt. Damp coldness was creeping into his clothes and body, making him feel as if he was lying on a block of ice. He tried to raise a hand but his body didn't listen to him. A shadow moved about him.

"Oh, God … I think he's awake. Help me. What should I do? I don't even know …"

Somebody was talking, but not to him, and his voice was sounding strangely muffled and distorted as if he wasn't there at all … and everything was just hurting.

"Mister?"

The shadow above him was closer now, blocking the view of the trees and he forced himself to concentrate on it. But his eyes watered and his head was aching.

"Say something."

And everything just dropped into darkness.

XXX

"… Eppes. That's what his ID says."

The pain was still there. Somebody was touching him and light pierced his eyes – only briefly, then it was gone. He was cold. He could feel himself shivering and he realized that he was wet, but he didn't know why.

"The pupils are reacting just fine. But their size differs. Maybe his skull's fractured."

"Doctor, we need more blood."

"I want a CT and an x-ray of his chest. Now. Clear an OR for us."

"Yes, Doctor."

"Page Dr. Cummings. I want a neurologist to take a look at his head."

A more severe, new pain shot through his body like lightening, letting him flinch and groan, before the pain faded into a steady, blunt stinging in his flank, forcing him to turn his head to cough. He tried to move his legs but the pain just got worse. The stabbing pain in his chest intensified and took his breath away. He gasped. A hand touched his cheek. "Charles? Charles, look at me."

Again the lightning-sharp pain, again originating in his flank. He felt a hand on his chest, applying pressure and only making things worse.

"No," he whispered, weakly trying to shove the hand aside.

"Charles? No. It's okay. You're in a hospital. I'm Charlotte. Look at me." Warm fingers enclosed his cold hand, holding it tightly but gently. He sobbed.

"It hurts, I know," the woman said softly, speaking closer to his ear, and he cracked his eyes open to look at her. His vision remained fuzzy and he blinked. The pressure on his chest got stronger and he whimpered softly, trying to turn his head. He saw somebody standing beside him, pressing his hands to his flank. He tried to turn away, away from the man next to him who kept hurting him, but several hands prevented the movement.

"No, no, no. Charlotte, I can't sedate him, yet. We have to wait for the anaesthetist. Calm him down."

"Charles," the woman said firmly, then her voice got softer, "Charlie? Look at me." She turned his head. Her face was still fuzzy and dark spots were dancing in front of his eyes. "You were in an accident. You're in a hospital."

An accident … he didn't remember being in an accident. He just remembered being at CalSci … then …

The asphalt tore his jeans up and his legs got caught in the bike. The ground was wet and cold and everything hurt.

"Charlie, don't do that," the woman said.

Fear gripped him when he suddenly remembered: He'd been in an accident!

"BP's speeding up."

"Where is that damn anaesthetist?"

Rain clouds were looming above him and headlights were cutting through the darkness. Somebody was leaning over him. "Damn."

Charlotte shook her head, staring at Dr. Brody. "We're losing him. He's non-responsive."

"Keep trying," the man said, still applying pressure to the steadily bleeding gash in the young man's side. Suddenly, Charlie's grip tightened and Charlotte focused on him again. He stared at her feverishly, his eyes clouded by pain. Blood welled up from under the makeshift bandage which covered the deep cut in his forehead and ran down over his face. She saw his fear and confusion. She knew that gaze. Almost every patient coming into the Emergency Room was wearing it. Most of the time, they didn't remember how they had gotten here.

"Beta …," he whispered.

"What?" Charlotte asked, leaning closer to him, "Charlie, what did you say?"

"… 13 48 Ome …"

Charlotte fumbled for the pen always in her scrubs' breast pocket and leaned even closer. "Charlie? Repeat."

"Beta … 13 48 … Omega … 83."

She jotted it down on the back of her hand. "What does that mean? Charlie?"

He was staring at her with dark eyes, not answering.

"Is that the plate of the car that hit you?" Charlotte asked.

Charlie shook his head and Charlotte could see that he didn't know what it meant. "FBI …," Charlie whispered, "Call FBI." He closed his eyes and didn't open them again.

XXX

The display of Dr. Charles Eppes' cell phone was cracked but it was still working – showing the time in the left corner, 3:06 am, and that it needed charging soon – but, most importantly, that Charlotte was still able to access his contact list. Charlotte had looked through the phone list and made the decision that she should either contact "Donnie" or "Dad". Having placed a call to "Dad", that went automatically to voice mail, she hung up. There were things that shouldn't be left on people's answering services unless there was no other way.

Dialing again, this time for "Donnie", she was rewarded after eight rings by a sleepy voice, "Eppes."

'The same family name', the nurse thought, 'maybe a brother?'

"This is Charlotte Wyatt from Huntington Hospital. I got your number from the cell of one of our patients who came in an hour ago – Charles Eppes."

A moment of shocked silence followed.

"Charlie? What happened?"

"It appears he was hit by a car while cycling and is currently in surgery."

"What hospital did you say you're calling from?" Donnie asked.

"Huntington."

"I know where that is, I'll be there as fast as I can." He disconnected the call.

XXX

Rain beating against the window as the citizens of LA left their homes to go to work. Don looked at his watch. They had been waiting for almost five hours now for information on Charlie and he would need to call the office soon to let them know he wouldn't be in until later. As the time had passed and Don had watched Alan via his reflection in the Emergency Room's waiting area windows, it had become clear to him that he would need to be the strong one in this situation. And that he had to call Larry. And Amita.

As Alan had sat with his head bowed, hands wrapped around a still full Styrofoam cup of cold coffee, staring into the middle distance, Don had been calling in favours the LAPD owed him – making sure the scene was being covered, getting the investigation started and making sure he was kept in the loop.

Charlie had been hit by a car when he'd been on his way home, only three blocks from his house. Fragments of a windshield on the road told the police where it had happened.

Officers had questioned the residents and found a young mother, who, while dealing with her very cranky baby, had heard something at midnight. However, she hadn't been able to see anything out of her window; the baby had cried again and she'd just forgotten whatever it had been that had drawn her attention.

A student, coming from his graveyard shift at a diner and taking a shortcut through the small wooded area next to the street, had found Charlie in the early morning hours. If the accident really had happened around midnight, Charlie had been laying on the forest soil in the rain for hours; his bicycle beside him, the helmet only a couple of feet away. The police assumed that the driver had fled after Charlie was flung into the bushes and the rain had washed away all evidence - only fragments left behind.

They were still looking for anyone who could have seen the car but it had been in the middle of the night in a quiet residential area and Don knew the chances of finding a witness weren't good.

With a little bad luck, the car was already disposed of or in the midst of being repaired; there were mechanics who took on such work, asking only for a surcharge for their silence.

"Family of Charles Eppes?" a man asked and Don turned around to face a black doctor in scrubs and a woman wearing a white doctor's coat. 'Two doctors', Don thought in panic, 'are a bad sign.' The man brushed his green cap off the short clipped, black hair and shoved it into his pocket. The woman had long, black hair, which she was wearing in a strict knot, and her blue eyes were looking friendly and patient.

Don cleared his throat. "I'm his brother, Don Eppes. My father Alan." He sat down next to him, ready to hear whatever the doctors had to tell them.

Alan rubbed his forehead, he looked like he'd aged several years in a span of only two hours. "How bad is it?"

The doctors pulled over two chairs and sat down opposite them and the surgeon began to explain, "I'm Dr. Brody, Charlie's doctor, and this is Dr. Cummings, our neurologist."

"Neurologist," Alan repeated, his voice quivering.

"Charlie has some serious head injuries," Brody said, sounding calming even though the news was bad, "We're just making sure." The doctor glanced into Charlie's file and at the papers Alan had filled in.

"Charlie's stable and he will survive."

Relieved, Alan closed his eyes while Don smiled slightly, waiting for Dr. Brody to continue, because there was more, there was always more. The doctor looked at them, serious and reserved. "Charlie suffered a broken left leg and wrist; he has three broken ribs with another two that are bruised. One of his lungs was punctured, which we were able to repair, but it's going to take awhile for it to heal. A large shard of glass, probably from the windshield of the car that hit him, was removed from his abdomen, causing a lot of damage to the muscle and other tissues in the area and he lost a lot of blood." He paused momentarily before coming to the worst of the injuries. "Charlie also has two serious head injuries accompanying a fractured skull."

Alan rubbed his chin. "Punctured lungs? What …?"

Dr. Brody looked at him patiently. "It means that one of Charlie's ribs injured his lungs. We were able to repair the damage and we're confident that there will be no repercussions."

Dr. Cummings continued from there, "His head injuries are what we are most worried about. We can't say for sure what consequences the injuries will have until Charlie's awake, but you should be aware that brain damage is possible."

"Brain damage?" Don asked, shocked.

"Again, we can't say for certain because we'll need to evaluate Charlie when he's awake, but with the injuries as they stand, it's quite possible."

"You don't understand," Alan argued helplessly, "Charlie's … a genius. His brain's …"

Dr. Cummings shook her head with understanding and heartfelt sympathy. "I'm sorry, Mr. Eppes, but it's not something we have any control over. The brain is a very complex and fragile thing and the injuries your son has sustained are significant. There's nothing we can do to prevent whatever possible damage has occurred."

"Can we see him?" Alan asked.

Doctor Brody nodded. "Charlie's in Recovery now and then he'll be transferred to the ICU; it's standard procedure for someone who's gone through what you son has, even though he's fairly stable. If his condition continues to be so, if he doesn't deteriorate, we'll then transfer him over to the Neurology wing some time this evening. You can see him in about an hour – in ICU – but only for a few minutes; he needs rest and so do both of you."

TBC