Admittedly, not my first Numb3rs fic, but the first without useless OCs inveigling their way into everything. Disrespectful OCs are disrespectful.

Either way. Yes, this is Ian/Charlie. Don't judge-they're perfect. Screw canon.

Disclaimer: Obviously I don't own Numb3rs. If I was, it would still be on air. And we'd see more Ian. All the time.


Pressure

His second set of keys clinked noisily in his pocket as he pushed open the apartment building's door. He grimaced and shoved a hand into his pocket to silence the offensive noise.

"Hey, Charlie," the superintendent greeted from the front desk. Charlie raised a hand in response and shuffled to the elevator.

God, please let this not be another huge migraine, he thought miserably, leaning against the back wall of the elevator car as it pulled upwards. He pulled his cell phone out of his other pocket and squinted at the lit screen. No, he was still in Nevada for another week, out of cell range and out of reach. The ache behind Charlie's eyes intensified as he slid it back in his pocket. Migraines suck, he thought.

The elevator deposited him on the fourth floor of the building. He stumbled to his door and dislodged his keys from his pocket, the metallic clinking and the rustling of the plastic bag on his arm grating on his tired nerves. His shaking hands pushed the key into the lock and turned the knob with it, admitting him into the cool darkness.

All he wanted to do was lay down. It was all he'd wanted to do all day, but only when he started feeling nauseous did he decide it was time to call it quits. Luckily, he had the apartment within walking distance of CalSci, and didn't have to risk driving in his impaired state. He dug in the cabinet above the stove for his medication, fumbling with the childproof cap in the dark.

Two pills, a glass of orange juice, and as close to certainty as his befuddled mind would allow that the doors were locked and no window was left uncovered. Charlie swallowed his medication and chase it with a sip of orange juice, ignoring the pitch and toss of his stomach as the liquid hit bottom. Ah, bed, he thought, kicking off his shoes and changing into sweatpants and a t-shirt.

Charlie shoved all thoughts of FBI formulas from his mind and curled up under the blanket. He turned off his phone and set it on the nightstand before rolling over, praying sleep came quickly.

-x-x-x-

"Charlie, it's Don. Call me back ASAP. C'mon, Buddy, I really need you to call me back." Don punched a button on his cell phone to end the call with altogether more force than necessary. 'Colby," he barked, catching sight of the younger agent coming out of the elevator. "Anything?"

"Not at his office, and Amita, Larry, and Millie haven't seen or heard from him since day before yesterday," Colby said apologetically. "David and Megan are canvassing the area around the campus. You okay, man?"

"Fine," he snapped tiredly. He deflated a little at the look Colby shot him. "Charlie doesn't just leave without calling. Never," he said.

"Don, we'll find him," Colby assured, and after a moment's thought, he rested his palm on Don's shoulder, his fingers curling around the material of his shirt in a comforting squeeze. "It's only been a day and a half, we'll find him."

"Yeah, I hope so," Don sighed, shoving himself out of his desk chair. "Pull security feeds from all businesses, ATMs, and anywhere else you can find them in a ten-block radius of CalSci. Maybe we can piece together a map from that," he said, grasping at straws.

Colby nodded, recognizing the desperation well enough not to comment on it. "Will do," he opted for instead, and headed back towards the elevator.

Don paused by the corner of his desk, looking at his cell phone. He picked it up and dialed the familiar number again, holding the phone to his ear as he slipped into the empty war room. "Charlie, it's Don. I just called, but I need you to call me back. Right now. Let me know you're okay, Buddy, I'm worried about you."

-x-x-x-

LAX was swiftly becoming Ian Edgerton's most frequented airport, even with as queasy as flying made him. It was so much faster than his old habit of cross-country road trips to his cases, and the more time he could spend in LA, the better.

His duffel bag rolled on to the carousel and landed against the edge with a dull thump. Briefly, Ian was grateful for his decision to send his rifle back to LA by mail rather than pack it in a suitcase for the journey home.

His cell phone found its way out of his pocket as he swung his duffel bag onto his shoulder. His first thought was to call Charlie, but when the phone went straight to voicemail, he shrugged it off-he was probably engrossed in some equation covering multiple blackboards. Maybe he'd drop by CalSci later and surprise him. Ian dialed Don's number and held the phone to his ear as he walked out to the parking garage.

"Eppes."

"Don, it's Ian. How's the office?"

"Hectic," Don sighed. "You heard from Charlie lately?"

"No, not since last week. Why," Ian asked, suspicious about Don's tone. "You haven't pissed him off, have you?"

"Not that I know of," Don said. "I can't get a hold of him."

"Really. I tried calling, but it went straight to voice mail. I assumed that he was working for you or something."

Don sighed. "We haven't seen him in a day and a half. I was hoping he'd told you where he was."

Ian threw his bag in the back of his truck and climbed behind the wheel. "I'll be there in fifteen minutes, don't go anywhere," he growled. He snapped his phone shut and jammed his keys into the ignition, trying to squelch his growing worry with anger.

If Charlie was really missing, panicking was decidedly not an option.


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