Okay, so in my last story, No Such Thing As Coincidences, I hurt poor Charlie in nearly every way possible...physically :-) Since I always like hurting the characters that I love most, I'm back to hurting him, but I doubt I'll have much to physically hurt him that I haven't already, so it'll be more of psychological harm than anything.
This takes place after the finale of season 5, but before season 6, so expect spoilers for season 5.
Disclaimer: I get tired of typing these after a while, but since I don't want to be sued... I own nothing!
Amita smiled as she walked into the Eppes family garage. Charlie was hard at work on his Emergence research: pounding away at the chalkboard, then checking a piece of paper, entering something into his laptop, and back to the board. Headphones on his ears blasted away everything else that was around him. She walked up behind her fiancé and tossed a stress ball at his back. After he had nearly hit her in shock when she sneaked up on him a few weeks prior, then holed himself up for days out of guilt, she decided that being further away when he was surprised was better for both of them.
Charlie jumped when he felt the plush ball smack his back, and turned around to smile at his fiancée. "Hey, you're all set for the flight?"
She smiled and nodded as she hugged him. "Yeah, the cab should be here soon to take me to the airport," she told him.
"Amita, I told you that I could take you," he protested yet again, and she hid a grin.
"I know, but I would rather make my flight than miss it because you got caught up in your cognitive emergence work. We finished finals yesterday, and I'm gone for two weeks," she reminded.
Charlie groaned. "Yes, I remember," he said softly. They had just rescued her less than a week ago from Duryea, and she was now headed to India to spend time with her family, who had threatened to find creative ways to bring her home if she didn't get there soon. But Charlie couldn't blame them for that; it would be terrifying to lose someone so close. "Your itinerary is on my closet door – nice touch, by the way – and I will be there to pick you up at the airport," he promised, giving her a deep kiss, telling her without words how much he would miss her.
She kissed him back, then sighed when she heard the cab honk at her from the front of the house. "I have to go," she said regretfully. "I'll see you in two weeks."
"I love you," he said meaningfully, and she returned the sentiment before grabbing her luggage and heading out.
Charlie watched her leave and sighed before putting his headphones back in. There was a lot that was going through his head at that moment, and he wouldn't get it done by missing Amita. Right as he was about to hit the play button, his phone rang. He stifled a groan and answered it.
"Charlie Eppes," he answered.
"Dr. Eppes, this is Lt. Walker," the familiar voice said.
Charlie sat up a bit. "Lt., it's good to hear from you," he said truthfully. It had been a while since the LAPD had needed his work after he'd gotten his clearance back. Or maybe it was just because the last person to request his services ended up being the perp. "What can I do for you?"
Gary sighed. "Look, I know that you're always busy with that brother of yours, but do you have time to look at something for me?"
"I'd be happy to," he said, then thought about it. "Well, that's assuming I won't be needing a supercomputer. The one at CalSci was destroyed the other day."
Charlie paused as he remembered the horror that had been only the day before, which was why he was at home instead of his office. Thankfully, no one had been in the building at the time, as it had been midnight, and it had just taken out the computer lab, which was worth millions, as it was the most sophisticated technology in the area.
"I understand, but would you mind still taking a look, seeing if there's anything you can do without the fancy computer?"
"Sure, I don't see why not," Charlie said with a grin. "What's the case?"
"There's a new gang in town, and we need some help before they get too big to stop. They seem to have a finger in everything around here: drug dealing, prostitution, gambling and money laundering, robbery, and are suspected in a few hits that Homicide is working on. I'll have an officer drop the file off for you. Are you at home or the FBI?"
"I'm in the garage," Charlie answered. "Just tell the officer to come on in, I probably won't hear anything if he knocks."
"Will do," Walker said, and hung up.
Charlie sighed and turned to the work he'd been at only moments before. He knew that if he started working on anything else, he wouldn't start on Walker's case until his thoughts had wound down, and he couldn't afford that. So he pushed the two chalkboards back to the wall and pulled two more forward to work on, then put the paper files into a box that he was using, and saved and closed the computer files, opening fresh ones. It was busy work that didn't really require much thinking, so he was able to think about the case he was taking on. He'd helped Walker and his men a while back with some of the gang issues, but hadn't heard from the man since he had been brought in for a case with Don, which was nearly two years before.
After all of the chaos of the past two months, he was happy to have something normal. Don's stabbing, the serial killer case, Amita's kidnapping, and then the bombing at CalSci had left him exhausted, though he hadn't wanted anyone to notice. There was a lot he was thinking about, and he had a meeting in a few days with the dean to talk through a thought he had.
Sooner than he had been expecting, there was a knock on the garage door, and he called him in. It was Officer Briggs, who he had worked with before. He was the senior agent on Walkers team: a forty something patrolman who was no nonsense, which was a good thing when working organized crime.
"Here you go, professor," Briggs told Charlie with a small smile, handing him a rather thick file. "This is everything we have on the newest gang in the area: DB. Stands for Dominican BoyZ, so no mystery as to where they came from."
Charlie just nodded as he flipped through the large file. "What is it that Lt. Walker needs from me?" he asked absently.
"We want to shut down this gang before they get too much of a foothold in the area, but that means that we don't have time to try and get an undercover inside, it's mostly a family thing, like the Mafia. We need to know if you can find out who the main shotcallers are. Hopefully, taking down the leadership will throw them into panic long enough for us to grab the gangbangers and stop this soon."
Charlie grinned as he continued to flip through. "Yeah, I should be able to give you an idea of who the leaders are. Think of it like a coin sorter. How the machine is able to sort the coins are by assigning values to each coin: size, weight materials, and so on. Since the DB is still new, they haven't had time to get enough members for the leaders to isolate themselves, so we can use a similar algorithm to sift through the members of the DB and find out which members are likely the leaders by assigning similar values: participation in crimes tend not to be the leaders unless they need bodies; activity talking to other members of the gangs, which we can find by looking at their phone records and email history. I'll start right away, and I may call you if I need more information," he promised, and turned immediately to the chalkboard and his hand started flying over the board, righting out equations as fast as he could.
Briggs grinned. He heard about all the issues that the Eppes family had been having the past few months, and he was glad to see that Charlie was acting the same as always.
Don drove home – well, to Charlie's house, which was more of a home than his apartment – and couldn't wait for a cold beer and a game on TV. Robin was still out of town on a trial, as she had been for the past two weeks, and he wanted her to get home soon. It was ironic, as both Robin and Amita got home on the same day, and he and Charlie had talked about having a barbeque to welcome them back.
Thinking about Charlie made his heart pound in memory. He could still remember the feeling of utter horror when he heard on the news that the computer lab at CalSci had been bombed, since Charlie spent a lot of time in there for all his work, and even more time on campus since it had been the last day of finals. With all the excitement with Don's stabbing and Amita's kidnapping, and the two cases between them, Charlie had not been on campus as much as usual, and he'd practically lived in his office to make up for it before finals. He had been beyond relieved to find that Charlie and Amita had gone back to the Craftsman to grade their finals, and that no one had been in the building when it had blown up.
Don shook off the thoughts and pulled into the driveway, noticing that their father's car wasn't there. He parked the car and walked into the house, grabbing a beer from the fridge on his way to the garage, the sure place to always find his brother.
He was surprised to find that Charlie was more frantic than usual, just running from the boards to his computer and back. "What's up, Chuck?" he asked.
Charlie spun around. "Don, hey. Just working a case for Lt. Walker."
Don's brows rose. He hadn't really thought about the man in a while, and was surprised that Charlie was helping him out. "What's the case?"
Charlie didn't look away from the board he was studying. "There's a new gang in town, and he wants my help to…"
"The Dominican BoyZ?" Don asked, and frowned when his brother nodded. "Careful, buddy, those guys are pretty nasty from what I've heard."
Charlie finally turned to look at his brother. "What have you heard so far?" he asked, grabbing a notepad and pen.
Don shrugged. "Not a lot, to be honest. I'm not on that case, I've just been hearing some in the break room about how protective they are, since it's mostly family that came here some years ago. Apparently they'll do anything to protect each other. Even if it's something small, they'll attack it the same they would anything else: with violence."
Charlie was writing everything down so that he could factor it in later if he needed it. "I'm surprised the FBI is on it," he commented.
"We arrested a few of the lower level bangers for a robbery a while back, then the witness ended up dead before she could testify," Don said sadly. He hated it when he lost innocents.
Charlie sighed as he thought about that. "Well, then I better get moving on this before anyone else gets hurt," he said with finality and went back to his work.
Don chuckled. Charlie really had gotten into the work of crime fighting over the past few years. "Alright. Hey, where's dad at?"
"He and Stan are working on some new project downtown, so they're having dinner at his place tonight," Charlie responded, not paying much attention.
Don laughed and nodded, then went back into the house to find a game.
So, there's the beginning. Don't worry, this one won't be nearly as long as Coincidences! Let me know what you think so far!