A/N: So, the last one. Finally. Thanks to all those who reviewed the story. It was fun.
I dedicate this last chapter to Katy M VT who didn't give up until she'd figured out what Beta 13 48 Omega 83 means. :)
Don took his jacket from the backrest of his chair and nodded at Megan and Colby. "I'll be back after dinner."
Colby nodded and Megan said, "Give Charlie our best."
Don smiled at her and headed for the elevator. While he was putting the jacket on, he tried to switch his mind off for the next two hours. He wanted to concentrate on his family and his father didn't like it if Don was sitting at the table, but still at work in his mind.
He was waiting for the elevator to arrive when Agent Sandra Balin ran towards him. "Agent Eppes!"
He turned around to face her.
"The AD wants to see you right away."
He frowned. "What? I just updated him this afternoon."
She shrugged. "He told me as soon as possible. And he seemed pretty angry."
Don walked the anteroom of AD Gerald Wright's office restlessly. His secretary Melinda, a woman into the late 50s with gray short hair and a strict appearance, was already giving him the evil eye for passing by her desk every few seconds. Don gifted her with an apologetic smile before he leant against the wall and slid his hands into the pants pockets. He checked his watch and sighed impatiently.
"The AD is going to call you in as soon as he's ready," Melinda said calmly.
Don nodded. "I just thought he wanted to see me right away."
"He has his reasons for letting you wait, I'm sure."
"Yeah," Don answered and grinned at Melinda, "He's punishing me for not catching JM, yet." He pondered calling his father to tell him that he would be late - if he would be able to come at all. He was already waiting for fifteen minutes. The AD was taking his time talking to some colleagues in Washington. Don checked his watch again, rolled his eyes and waited.
Amita stared at Charlie's formula as if it would solve itself that way and sighed deeply. Larry had gone into the break room to fetch them fresh coffee and Amita was sitting alone in the conference room. She checked her watch. Perhaps she should go to Charlie's, eat with him and Alan and then get back to work with fresh eyes. She shook her head. She had to find the solution. She was so close. She opened an Excel document in which the data of all policemen was saved that had been included into the calculations so far. At the end of the list, Larry had added a FBI agent who had connections to the LAPD through his wife. Amita gasped. "Oh my God." Her hands started shaking when she dug through the mountain of notes on the large table.
Larry chose this moment to return. "To stay calm is the solution to every problem," he said.
Amita was too impatient to care. "Where's the note?"
"The numbers and letters Charlie muttered in the hospital. Where are they?"
Larry put down the cups and started to help her. "Amita-"
"Look," she said in excitement and pointed at the laptop screen.
Larry frowned. "We've been staring at it for hours."
Amita found the note and held it up next to the screen. "Look," she repeated.
She could feel that Larry knew what she was looking at. He leant forward and stared at the screen. "Charles knew all along," he said, aghast.
"It's not Beta 13 48 Omega 83. It's B1348O83. He was so confused after the accident that he translated the letters to Greek. The combination is similar to this agent's service number."
"It's a service number of the FBI," Larry said.
"It's the service number of Charlie's attacker."
There was a knock at the Eppes' front door and Agent Mirren smiled at David when he opened. "Simon, what are you doing here?"
"Eppes sent me. He thinks that you should take a break." His eyes scanned the cozy living room and he found Charlie asleep on the couch and his father in one of the armchairs, a newspaper in his hand.
He was looking at Simon over the rims of his glasses. "Does that mean that my older son won't be home for dinner?"
Simon shook his head. "He won't make it, Mr. Eppes. We're on our own."
"Tell me why", Charlie gasped, "We trusted you."
Simon Mirren stared down at him with a cold expression and shrugged. He tightened his grip on the baseball bat.
Charlie opened his eyes and winced as he watched Mirren closing the front door. It had been him. All along. Charlie remembered the evening now. He remembered having failed solving the equations because something was missing. He remembered having been frustrated about it. He remembered having read the files again and noticing that all the information JM had - raids, interviews and witnesses - wasn't just with the LAPD but the FBI had had it also. He remembered having called Don's office and only reaching Simon Mirren whom he told that they'd been wrong and that he wanted to come to the office immediately after fetching something from home. He remembered the accident.
Alan disappeared into the kitchen. Charlie swallowed and hurried to close his eyes when Mirren turned to him. The agent cleared his throat softly and Charlie carefully opened his eyes. The young man looked to the kitchen and grabbed his weapon. Mirren knew that Charlie could identify him. Panic overtook him. He didn't know what he should do. He couldn't run away because his leg still was in a plaster and he wouldn't be able to move fast enough on the crutches. His eyes found his cell on the table and he reached for it. Mirren chose that moment to look at him. Charlie stared at him, then he straightened up and took deep breath to call for his father. Mirren was quicker. He made a headlong dive to the couch and pushed Charlie back, one hand pressed to his mouth and his knee pinning him down. Charlie cried out softly and tried to defend himself but Mirren's knee was pressing on his operation scar and his eyes teared up with the pain.
"Quiet now," Mirren said, pressing the gun's barrel to Charlie's head. He grinned. "You won't feel a thing."
"Agent Mirren?" Don asked in shock and pressed the cell to his ear, "Megan, is Amita sure?"
"Yeah," she answered.
"Where is he?" Don asked.
The door to AD Wright's office opened. Wright looked at him in confusion. "Agent Eppes, what are you doing here?"
"You wanted to see me, right?" Don asked. Megan's voice distracted him from listening to Wright's answer.
"He's not here, Don. He left the building half an hour ago."
Don's stomach turned and he became nauseous. Wright was staring at him. "Agent Eppes."
Don's hand felt heavy and he couldn't hold the cell up anymore. "He wanted to distract me … he didn't want me to drive home."
"What?" Wright asked in confusion.
Don ignored him and held the cell to his ear once more. "Megan, send a team to Charlie's. Mirren's on his way over. He'll kill him."
David turned down the radio before he answered his cell. "Sinclair?"
"David, Agent Mirren's on his way to you. He's JM's inside man. Just grab dad and Charlie and go."
Don sounded breathless and David heard loud steps as if he was running. He slammed on the brakes and parked at the side of the road. "Don, Agent Mirren arrived at Charlie's just a few minutes ago. I left."
Charlie was staring at Mirren, struggling for each breath while the agent was just smiling at him coldly. "JM sends his best," Mirren said. Charlie couldn't hide his surprise when Alan suddenly appeared behind Mirren. The frying pan hit the agent with such force that he was flung down and over the coffee table. A shot came loose and the bullet knocked a hole into the window. Fragments of glass rained down on Charlie and he raised his hands to protect his face. Alan roughly pulled him off the couch and to the front door. Charlie cried out, as he tried to use his broken leg and Alan wrapped an arm around his hips. Charlie clung to his father when they left the house. A bullet hissed past Charlie's head and embedded itself into one of the wooden pillars. Startled, he took an unsteady step to the side. Alan stumbled over Charlie's plaster, they lost their balance and fell down the stairs of the porch. Mirren rushed out of the house, his face twisted in anger, just when David's car stopped with squealing tires. David stepped out and pointed his weapon at Mirren who was aiming his gun at Charlie.
"Drop the gun," David ordered. Alan pulled Charlie closer and sat up, trying to shield him with his body.
"Take one step closer and I'll shoot him," Mirren threatened. Sirens cut the stuffy summer air. However, Charlie knew that they were still far away. Mirren was breathing heavily and his eyes were searching the surroundings.
'He's just realizing that he lost,' Charlie thought. One of his father's hands pulled him closer and he looked at Alan who was staring at Mirren and the gun pointed at his son. The sirens got closer and Mirren's face hardened.
Charlie could see the moment in which he decided to do what he'd come for. No matter what. He looked at Charlie and pulled the trigger.
Don saw the two ambulances and the three cars of the LAPD in front of his house and brushed a trembling hand through his hair. He slammed on the brakes and got out of his car. He ran towards his parental home, waving an officer away impatiently with his badge, and looked around. He couldn't see his father or Charlie. Panic was choking him.
"Don!" someone called and his eyes caught David, standing next to an ambulance and waving at him. Don hurried to him and to the open double door on the back. Charlie was sitting on the bottom of the car. An EMT was checking his plaster.
When Charlie saw Don, his eyes filled with tears. "Donnie …"
The agent shook his head and hugged his brother to him. One of his hands buried itself in Charlie's hair. "Thank God," he whispered, "Charlie …"
His brother returned the embrace. "Donnie … it's dad."
Don froze. "What?" he asked. He pulled out of the embrace and stared at Charlie. "What about dad?"
David answered, "Mirren took a shot at Charlie. Your father caught the bullet."
Aghast, Don stared at David. "What hospital is he at?" he asked breathlessly.
"None, Donnie," Alan said from behind him and Don turned around.
"Dad." He smiled in relief.
His father had his arm in a sling and he was a little pale but he seemed to be okay. "It's just a flesh wound, Charlie," Alan said calmly and Don put a hand on his brother's shoulder.
Charlie sighed. "I thought-"
"It's alright," Alan answered and smiled at Charlie, "They want me to go to the hospital to get checked out properly, but I'm fine."
"Where's Mirren?" Don asked.
David shook his head. "He shot at Charlie and then he turned the gun against himself. He's dead."
"It's over?" Alan asked and sat down beside Charlie. He put an arm around his youngest son.
"No," Don answered, "no, it's not. Mirren didn't do this to avoid being identified by Charlie. He knew that he would be the number one suspect. The way he planned all this, it would have been obvious that he was the one who shot Charlie. I bet he was ready to leave the country after this job and JM would have helped him." Don shook his head. "He wanted to protect another insider. Someone who could have worked at the FBI after Charlie's death."
Charlie frowned. "But the only one I saw was Mirren. I know that there was a second person but I couldn't see him properly."
"Mirren couldn't know that," Don answered.
"So, you know who it is?" Alan asked.
Don nodded. "Yeah."
"Agent Tanja Singer," Megan said and crossed her arms. The young woman looked at her in confusion, her jacket in one hand and her purse over her shoulder. She was ready to go home. Colby stepped behind her. "We know that you're JM's insider," Megan said.
Tanja's eyes widened in disbelief. "What? No."
Megan continued, "We know that you sent Agent Eppes to AD Wright's office today to give your partner Simon Mirren the opportunity to kill Charlie."
Tanja shook her head. "I didn't. Sandra sent Agent Eppes to AD Wright."
"Agent Balin told us that you told her to."
"That's not true," Tanja answered.
"You did so after you received a call on your cell phone coming from Agent Mirren's disposable cell."
"No, that …" Tanja swallowed and turned to Colby briefly. When he only raised his eyebrows, she looked at Megan again. "My boyfriend called me."
"We found the disposable cell in Agent Mirren's car. Your cell number is in the list of numbers he dialled."
Tanja closed her eyes. When she opened them again, the uncertain young woman had disappeared and Megan was staring at a cool, collected criminal instead. "Disposable cells," she snorted, "that idiot! They're called disposable for a reason."
When Don entered the garden of his parental home a couple of days later, he found Charlie on one of the deck chairs in the sun. His brother had his eyes closed and seemed to be sleeping. Exams were piled on his belly and a red pen was in his hand. Don shook his head and took the papers away before the light summer breeze could. Charlie opened his eyes. "I'm not sleeping," he said.
"Huh," Don said, "could've fooled me."
Charlie smiled. He sat up. "So? How did the briefing go?"
"Well," Don sighed, "we lost the case. AD Wright wants another team to catch JM - one with fresh eyes."
"I doubt that they will succeed," Charlie said.
"Me, too," Don sighed. "But," he added, "at least we don't have to worry about JM coming after you. The only two persons you could identify as being his insiders are dead or in prison. I'll order the agents watching your back home."
Charlie nodded in relief. "Great. I really hate them following me everywhere I go."
"How did the appointment with the doctor go?" Don asked.
"Oh, I can move around a bit more, but the cast has to stay on for a few more weeks. And they think that it's a good sign that almost all my memories have returned, even though I could've done without some of them." Charlie smiled and Don grinned back.
"The date?" he asked.
Charlie rolled his eyes. "It was a disaster."
"Tell me that you'll try again."
Charlie bit his lip and shook his head. "I don't know."
"Charlie," Don sighed, "really, what's the hold up? You like each other … you're enjoying the same things … just imagine the kids you two could have."
"Kids? You're already thinking about kids?"
Don laughed. He put a hand on Charlie's shoulder. "Charlie, go for it." He grinned. "It can't get any worse."
Charlie threw his pen at him.