Disclaimer: I don't own Numb3rs
This story takes place in season 5 but before "The Fifth Man."
This is part 9 of 9, but there are 3 chapters left. In no particular order, part 1, part 4, and 5.
Left in the Cold
"Well, Eppes, if you keep catching my fugitives we may need to have a little talk."
Don glance over to see Ian Edgerton leaning agains the doorframe. He smiled brightly and gestured for the sniper to come in.
Ian did so and sat down. "Seriously. I'm pretty sure that's my job." He chuckled when Don glared at him. "Don't argue." He laughed again when Don's glare intensified. "Oh, that's right. You can't."
Don scribbled something on a small white board and held it up for Ian to see. It was something entirely inappropriate and not something Ian felt like saying out loud in fear of the nurses' wrath.
Ian leaned back. "You're probably wondering why I'm here and how I found out you were hurt in the first place?"
In response the injured man shut off the television and turned expectantly towards the taller man. Ian stared at him for a moment. It was incredibly weird to have Don Eppes not speaking. The man wasn't much of a talker, but he was never this much of not talker.
"This man," he said with no preamble, holding up a photo. "Was a fugitive. He murders officers and agents who he believes have put the wrong people in jail or he helps murder agents who let murders go free."
Don scribbled something else on the board and held it up, showing the words Vaguely Familiar.
He raised an eyebrow. "I don't know what that means." Don gave him an un-amused look. "But I can guess. This man's been on the fugitive list for a few weeks, sent out to every FBI field office. You should've gotten an email."
Don nodded, indicating that, yes, he got the email. That probably explained why Don called him Vaguely Familiar. Email went out weeks ago and it was only for a heads up for the non-fugitive recovery teams so it would make sense Don wouldn't remember his name on features.
"His prints were flagged," he said. "I was halfway here anyway when I got the alert. I headed to the office first, go the story there. Came by to see if you were dead."
Don rolled his eyes, smirking.
"Where's the Professor?"
"Ah." Ian nodded. "I'm assuming they haven't taken your statement yet. When can you talk?"
Don made a face and answered with one week.
"Can you talk?" Ian asked. "Don't. But can you? The doc's the one saying not to talk to get yourself to heal a little more, right?"
He nodded. He really didn't seem to like not being able to talk. It was obvious that Don was just itching to say something, anything. He kept fidgeting in a way he only saw the Professor do. And he couldn't do the compulsive tic of checking his watch because the nurses made him take it off; it was getting in the way of all the tubes and wires.
Don could see the amusement on Ian's face and gave him a hard glare that did absolutely nothing.
Charlie chose that moment to walk in, coffee and juice in hand. "Ian! When did you get here?"
Robin squeezed the handles and pushed Don along the paved pathway into the garden. She could tell he was trying really hard not to make any complaints or whine. She didn't really blame him, unable to talk for two weeks and not walk for six weeks could be tough for an active guy like him.
"It's a nice day," she said. True, the sky was clear and blue and the weather was warm but not too hot.
Don nodded, closing his eyes and leaning his head back to let the wind ruffle his hair. "It's beautiful," he said, voice still a little hoarse. He smiled and dragged his fingertips over the back of her hand.
She laughed and leaned over to press a kiss to his forehead. "You're ridiculous."
"All part of my charm."
That made Robin kiss the tip of his nose, making him scrunch up his features like she had offended him in some way and he rubbed his nose. She laughed again and kept pushing, leading them to end up in a small area near a bed of flowers and a small picnic table.
"This isn't hospital food, is it?" Don asked as he handed her the basket that had been sitting on his lap.
Robin began pulling out a jug and a few Tupperware's. "It's not. I think Alan is more tired of you eating hospital food that you are."
He chuckled. "I would say I didn't think that was possible, but knowing him it is. Did he make all of this?"
She nodded. "All with the permission from your doctor too. So it won't hurt to eat."
Don gently rubbed his throat. "Yeah, that's probably a good idea."
They sat in comfortable silence as they chowed down on their sandwiches. She peeled an orange for them both and set out some strawberries. He rolled his eyes with a fond smile and she threw a piece of shredded turkey that fell out of her sandwich at him.
"You get your statement done?" She asked.
Don swallowed his bite. "Yeah, David got it yesterday." He looked a little uncomfortable but added, "Bradford was there too."
She looked at him in concern. "Is everything alright? Are you alright?"
"I'm fine," he assured. She gave him a look saying she didn't quite believe him. "I am," he said steadily. "It was just routine. I killed someone. I was more or less tortured. It's SOP to have someone like Bradford on hand during statement taking."
Robin didn't know if it was a good thing or a bad thing that she didn't feel ill when he said "killed someone" and "tortured." She knew a lot and saw a lot, whether it was first hand or second hand, but it was so much harder when it was someone who you loved.
He reached over and put a hand over hers. "I'm fine," he reiterated. "I promise."
She leaned over and pressed a kiss to his lips, letting it erase the fears that had been building it up every night she had to sleep alone in Don's apartment. He was alive, he was healing. Everything was okay.
The stairs creaked and Charlie froze, wincing. He held his breath for a few seconds to make sure his dad or Don wasn't waking up. Nothing happened so he continued to the ground floor.
He told himself he was only down here to grab a glass of water and maybe a brownie. Dad made some double-chocolate brownies yesterday, they were supposedly for Don because "that horrible hospital food probably has his blood sugar low and I will not have my son passing out just when he get's home."
Charlie told himself that was the reason, but he found himself heading straight for the living room where Don was sleeping on the couch. A very common place to find him whenever he was injured enough to warrant a hospital visit. Unlike other times, though, when he took the couch because he like the couch, this time he was taking it because his feet were still to sore to handle the stairs and all that walking.
Don looked years younger, probably around Charlie's age instead of his own. Being an FBI agent put so much stress on him. He would believe it was the same with him, since working with the FBI there have been comments. He's only been with the FBI for about five years, he couldn't imagine what it was like for Don.
He sat down in a chair close by and watched his brother's chest move up a down. He's come close to losing his brother before, and it's going to be close again. For all he knew Don could be stabbed a few months from now.
But it never got any easier, seeing his big brother be brought down and broken like this. It wasn't as bad as other times, but it was still bad.
There was a patch on Don's temple that was shiny and red, Charlie reached out to brush his fingers on the outer edge of it. Don stirred and shifted, making him back up a bit and his heart beat fast.
Don's eyes cracked opened and his eyebrows furrowed. "Chuck?" His voice thick from sleep and probably because his throat still hurt. "What are you doing up?" He heaved himself up to a slouching sitting position. "Everything okay?"
He nodded. "Yeah, yeah. Everything's fine. I just came for some water, maybe a brownie."
Don raised an eyebrow and looked him up and down. "A glass of water, huh? Sure."
Charlie flushed. "Ha, ha. I was just… worried, I guess."
He nodded. "I don't blame you. But, Chuck, seriously, I'm fine."
"What do I have to do to get you to stop calling me that?" Charlie grumbled, making Don laugh. Those eye crinkles he's heard so many of his students talk about whenever Don visited and the ones that indicated true laughter and smiles appeared. Charlie couldn't help but smile back.
"Ah, Chuck," Don teased. "I don't think anything will work."
"How 'bout some of dad's brownies?" Charlie offered.
Don seemed to think about it for a long moment before he shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly. "That might work. I don't know, though. You could always give it a try."
Charlie rolled his eyes, but got up anyway to grab the whole plate of brownies and two glasses of milk. He settled back in his seat with a movie playing.
"What? I can't like movies about wizards? Sorry, I didn't know that was against the law."
He chuckled. "Is it? You tell me, Mr. FBI Agent."
Don smacked him with a pillow and stole the plate of brownies.