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04 December 2008 @ 07:21 am
A Woman Waits for Me - 14/39  
Title: A Woman Waits for Me
: 14/39
Author: ladygray99 
Pairing: Charlie/Colby, Don, Ian
Summary: When Don’s life slides into the darkness only family will help him find his way out. – Charlie has a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, day.
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 3,129
Warning: A little Charlie whumping.
Disclaimer: Numb3rs belongs to other people who are not me. I’m not making any money from this though I wish I were.
Previous Chapters: Part 4 of Whitman ‘verse. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Authors Notes: This chapter is here for a reason, I swear. Feedback on it would be nice.
Betas:swingandswirl  and riverotter1951 


Part 14
The Smell of Rain in Summer
Charlie and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Ian watched as Don and Colby fidgeted about the war room. There were a dozen DEA agents in there, along with Megan, David, and a handful of others, including the head of FBI SWAT, and Lt. Walker. Everyone was looking at their watches.

“Where the hell is Charlie?” Don asked.

“His phone’s going straight to messages. I’ve tried three times.” Colby said.

“Well try again. Ten more minutes and I’m sending in search and rescue.”

“I’m sure he’s just stuck in traffic or his phone died.” Megan said calmly but her body language read worried to Ian’s eyes.

“If he used his panic button I’m sure we would have heard by now.” Colby said, sounding more like he was trying to reassure himself.

“He’s got a panic button?” Walker asked.

“NSA makes him carry it.”

“I’m sure he’s just stuck in traffic. I mean, look at the weather.” Megan said, gesturing to the windows. Rain pelted against the windows, coming down at a sharp angle in a freak summer storm.

“Well, traffic or not, he should be answering his phone.” Don groused.

The door to the war room was suddenly yanked open and Charlie stalked in.

“Charlie, what the hell...” Don started.

“Don’t.” Charlie cut off his brother with a snap.

Ian looked Charlie over and quickly decided the man looked terrible. He was soaked to the bone and his suit was covered in dirty streaks and torn in places. He had a scrape high on one cheek, was carrying a stack of muddy papers in his arms and was moving with an obvious limp. Colby was quickly on his feet, trying to fuss with Charlie, but Charlie was just shooing him away.

“We tried calling...” Don started again. Charlie yanked something out of a pocket and threw it at Don. It was the shattered remains of a cell phone.

“My apologies for being late.” Charlie said tightly as a DEA agent handed him a cup of coffee. “I was struck by a vehicle, capping off a very bad day.”

“What!?” Colby exclaimed. “We need to take you to a hospital...”

“I need to brief, we are on a time limit!” Charlie snapped, causing Colby to jump back a bit. Ian raised an eyebrow.

‘The little professor’s got a nasty bark when he wants to.’

Charlie slammed down a stack of muddy papers in front of Don. On top was a math journal. The lead story, ‘Challenging the Eppes Theorem by Dr. Frank Fendworth and Dr. Amita Ramanujan,’ was splashed across the cover in big bold letters. Charlie stalked to the front of the war room.

“Hey, Don.” Ian whispered. “Isn’t that...” he pointed to the name on the cover.

“The Ex.” Don said softly.

“Shit.” said Walker, summing things up.

At the front of the room Charlie looked at the empty whiteboard.

“You’ll all have to forgive me, I’m going to be doing this from memory, as my laptop is currently resting in pieces in the wheel rim of a Mercedes.” Ian glanced over at Colby, who looked nothing more like he just wanted to bundle Charlie up and carry him out of there.

Charlie pulled the cap off a pen and began to write. He managed to get one number down on the board before the pen went dry.

“And this is why I like chalk,” Charlie said, barely loud enough for the room to hear. The pen was flung across the room with not inconsiderable force and another one was picked up.

Charlie began to brief. It was one of those cases that was so complicated the math was the only way of sorting everything out. It was a huge mess between rival gangs, an ex-army sniper working as an enforcer, some huge drug shipments and a steadily escalating body count.

Ian watched as the math became more and more complicated and the analogies became more and more obtuse. He looked at the other agents, expecting glazed expressions. To his surprise, they seemed to be keeping up, even the DEA agents, many of whom were copying Charlie’s equations diligently into notepads as if they were in a class.

Suddenly something caught Ian’s eye. He nudged Don and pointed to Charlie’s feet. There was a pool of water at Charlie’s feet where he’d been dripping. The pool was slowly becoming pink.

“Shit.” Don whispered harshly.

Charlie waved an arm to make a point. A couple of drops of blood flew from under his sleeve and splashed on the whiteboard. Charlie didn’t seem to notice but everyone else in the room did.

“We’ve got to get him out of here, Don.” Colby whispered harshly under his breath. Charlie was still lecturing, but at the same time he was beginning to shiver. Ian glanced up. The air-conditioner was blowing down right on Charlie’s sopping wet head and since it was technically still summer it was blowing cold air.

“Charlie!” Don cut in. “I think we’ve got it.”

Charlie shook his head. “No. You can’t mess this up. This has got to be right.” Charlie said.

“We understand, Professor Eppes.” said one of the older DEA agents “We’ll get the guys.”

Charlie shook his head again but this time as if he was trying to clear it. “You don’t understand. All of you. I have been drip feeding all of you the best mathematics education for years now. Most of you could audit my introductory classes with just a little extra prep. You all understand this because I’ve been teaching you to understand it. I cannot explain this to a jury. You have got to get these guys in the act and you’ve got to get them tonight or they’re gone! No lawyer or judge would give me time to explain this and LA juries are notoriously moronic! You have to get them in the act!” Charlie was panting like he was running a marathon.

Ian didn’t need advanced medical training to recognize shock and first stage hypothermia when it was standing in front of him.

“Charlie!” he said. “We’ve got it. We’ll get them all.”

Charlie nodded. “Okay. Okay. I think...I think I’ll go home.” Charlie turned to head for the door but missed and slammed his thigh into the edge of a table, sending him sprawling with a curse.

Several agents were quickly on their feet, helping Charlie up and pressing him into Colby’s arms. The last of the fight seemed to leave Charlie as he slumped against Colby.

“Don, I’ll take him downstairs and to the ER if we need to.”

Charlie shook his head. “No hospitals,” he slurred out as if drunk. “I hate hospitals.”

Colby half-dragged, half-carried Charlie out of the room. Don obviously wanted to follow.

“I’ll give Granger a hand,” Ian offered and got a quick nod from Don. Ian already knew what his role in that night’s mess was going to be.

“Okay, people,” Don said. “Let’s go over this game plan one more time. See if we can’t make Charlie’s day any better.”

Ian took long strides to catch up with Granger and Charlie. Granger was barely managing to keep Charlie on his feet as they waited for the elevator. Ian noted the looks going their direction from the office. Concern, questions, a little anger. Someone had injured one of their alphas and it wasn’t the first time either. Ian went up to Charlie’s free side and propped him up. He could feel Charlie shivering and hear teeth chatter. Colby sent him a quick look that was both questioning and grateful but nothing was said. They got Charlie into the elevator where he quickly slumped to the floor.

By the time they got to the shower room, Colby just picked up Charlie in his arms. Without comment, Ian helped Colby strip Charlie to his shorts and began assessing the damage. Charlie had a livid bruise coming up on the outside of one thigh and multiple abrasions along the other side of his body, including a deep cut that was sending a trickle of blood down one leg and another that was dripping down his arm. You didn’t have to be a trained accident investigator to tell that Charlie had been hit and sent flying. Ian tried to focus on the fresh injuries instead of the old ones. They were a bit of a shock though. He had been told that Charlie had been injured when he was kidnapped but no one had bothered to mention just how messed up he’d gotten.

“Charlie, why the fuck didn’t you wait for an ambulance?!” Colby finally snapped.

“Had to brief. No one else.” Charlie mumbled as if he was about to doze off.

“Come on, Professor, stay awake.” Ian said.

“Okay. Let’s get you warmed up.” Colby said and picked Charlie back up, depositing him on the floor of one of the deeper stalls with a flexible shower head. Colby turned the water on warm and pointed it at Charlie’s chest. Charlie yelped and tried to scurry out of the way. He was breathing hard again but Ian could see the color quickly flood back into pasty cheeks. Charlie shook his head a few times as the blood obviously crept back up to his brain as well. Charlie reached out a hand and Colby gave him the shower sprayer. Charlie leaned against the tiled wall of the stall and held the sprayer about an inch from the top of his head. He closed his eyes and sighed.

“Warming up?” Colby asked gently. Charlie gave a slow nod and made a soft sound that could have been a cry or a laugh. Ian did his best not to watch but he wanted to be ready in case the sudden shift in temperature caused Charlie to pass out. The water did unfortunately plaster down Charlie’s boxers and Ian quickly discovered why Charlie was immune to short jokes. Charlie cracked open one eye and looked at Ian.

“See something you like, Agent Edgerton?” Charlie asked lightly. Colby’s head spun around with much the same question in his eyes and a good deal more threat as well.

“I prefer my boys less bloodied. Call me picky.”

Charlie gave a light chuckle and closed his eyes again.

“Now see, these are the kind of things that get the Bureau stuck in sexual harassment law suits.” Don said behind them.

Ian whipped around, more than a little annoyed that he had somehow managed to miss Don’s approach, given the vast echoing room. Charlie gave his brother the finger with a free hand.

“Shit, Charlie, you look like hell,” Don said.

“Kinda feel like it.”

“Don, could you grab some towels and the first aid kit?” Colby asked.

“No problem.” Don was back a minute later with a stack of large towels and an industrial first aid kit. “So who hit you?” Don asked as Colby started to towel Charlie dry.

“The 15 and a half year old daughter of one of CalSci’s biggest private donors. The guy practically funds Larry’s research single-handedly.”

Colby peeled off Charlie’s shorts, wrapped a towel around his waist and draped another across his shoulders.

“Did you call an ambulance?” Don asked.

“No time.”

Don rolled his eyes “You just can’t leave the scene of an accident, Charlie. Even if you’re the victim.”

“The family lawyer is also the family driving instructor. Apparently Daddy doesn’t have a lot of faith in his little angel’s ability to use a turn signal. I settled on the scene for eighty thousand and drove here.”

“You drove?” Colby exclaimed.

“Colby, please,” Charlie begged with a whimper. “I’ve had a bad day.”

“The ex?” Ian asked as Charlie let himself be led to a bench, where he and Colby started poking at Charlie for internal injuries. Charlie rolled his eyes and gritted his teeth.

“The Fendworth-Ramanujan theorem.” Charlie spat out with not inconsiderable venom. “Who’d want to study the Fendworth-Ramanujan theorem? It takes five minutes just to figure out how to spell it! Eppes theorem. It’s short, friendly, to the point and it’s fucking mine. Not that anyone cares about the math. Oh no. Every fucking message board is about how I’m a raving queen and Amita left me when she caught me in one of her dresses and I haven’t published anything in months because I’ve joined a secret sex cult or I’m letting the government experiment on my brain and apparently I’m sleeping with everything male within reach up through and including Don!” Charlie finished with a growl through clenched teeth, tugging at his own hair in raw frustration.

“Don’t pull your hair.” Colby chided gently.

Charlie let go but didn’t let up on the rant. “And I got told all my classes are being rescheduled for next semester, and I got de-prioritized on the supercomputer, and someone in the staff room though it would be cute to switch my coffee out for decaf so I’ve got a headache and I didn’t get any sleep last night because Dad decided to find god. Loudly. Four times.”

“Put your arms up.” said Colby.

Ian watched as Charlie’s arms went into the air, twisted around and clasped together. He swallowed a little. He could almost see invisible chains holding Charlie’s arms that way. Colby began to carefully check over every rib.

“Four times?” Don asked, sounding a little horrified.

Ian gave a snort and got a disturbed look from Don. “Hey, I know my mother. I’m completely immune to that particular trauma by now.

“I’m not!” said Charlie.

“Hey, you’re the one that set him up.” Don pointed out.

“So he’d get out of the house. Out. On loooooong weekends.” Charlie said with a half sob.

Colby sighed. “Charlie. Pain response?”

“Oh. Right.”

Ian had been watching Colby go over Charlie’s ribs but so far everything had seemed fine. Colby started again and this time Charlie obviously remembered to wince at the right moments.

“Neat trick.” Ian said watching Charlie’s face.

“Don’t encourage him.” Colby said darkly under his breath.

Ian had been working on dabbing iodine on Charlie’s scrapes from the feet up. Ian realized Charlie hadn’t reacted to the sting of that either.

“You’ve cracked two.” Announced Colby with obvious annoyance.

“Hey, not my fault this time.” Charlie said firmly.

‘This time?’ thought Ian with some trepidation. ‘What the hell had the professor been up to?’

“You could have gone to a hospital.”

“I hate hospitals.”

“So do I.”

“I had to brief.”

“We could have moved it there if need be.” Charlie just gave Colby an irritated look as rebuttal. “Arms down.” Colby said.

Charlie’s arms dropped, freed from their invisible chains.

“Hey, Charlie, can you fix the Eppes theorem?” Don asked.

Charlie rolled his eyes. “It doesn’t need to be fixed. There’s noting wrong with it, it’s just a little loose and sloppy in places. I mean, I was 19 and was trying to use it to get my doctoral adviser into bed.” Don shook his head. “I need maybe two weeks to clean it up but I’ve got ten other things on right now and they’re all going wrong and...”

“You’re off cases.” said Don.

“What?” Charlie and Colby both snapped, eerily in sync.

“Take two weeks off, fix the Eppes theorem. Right now it’s the only thing that carries the family name that’s likely to outlive us.”

“Don...” Charlie started to object.

“I’m serious. When I’m a hundred and two and in the old agents’ home I want some young volunteer to look at my chart and go ‘Eppes? Any connection to the Eppes theorem?’ and I will go ‘yes, that was all my brother’, unless of course it’s a really cute young blonde volunteer, then I might need to take credit myself.”

Charlie laughed, then winced. Ian had managed to work his way up Charlie’s legs while Colby wrapped Charlie’s ribs with surprising efficiency.

“Um, Professor...which pocket was your cell phone in?” Ian asked.

“My right.”

“I think you’ve got a bit stuck in your leg.”

“Well, pull it out.” Charlie said with a sigh.

“It’s in pretty deep.”

Charlie reached into the first aid kit and grabbed out a pair of long tweezers and handed them to Ian.

“Your hands are probably steadier than most doctors. Go for it.”

Ian looked at Colby. Colby gave him a ‘go ahead’ nod. Charlie closed his eyes and seemed to go somewhere else. Ian dove into a dark wound and pulled out a piece of black plastic. Blood oozed out after it. Ian quickly slapped a large chunk of gauze over the wound.

“That’ll probably need stitches.”

Charlie shook his head. “Just wrap it tight. It’ll be fine.”

Ian set about wrapping long strips of gauze around Charlie’s leg while Don cleaned and bandaged the cuts on Charlie’s arms.

“Hey, Charlie?” Don asked gently. “Did you mean what you said about auditing your classes?”

“Yep. You’d probably need a semester of high school level calculus. After that...you’re all really solid on the conceptual level it would just require catching you up on the arithmetic. Why, planning a career change?”

“No, just noticed a lot of the DEA taking notes.” Don said, amusement in his voice.

Charlie smirked. “Don’t be a federal snob, Don. Lt. Garcia gives his agents time off to attend my lectures.”

“Really?” Don said, not sounding like he believed it.

“Yep. Agent Lewis has even entered a part-time degree program. She’s got a real head for stats.”

“Who knew? Math and the DEA.”

“They are seriously embracing some of my work, Don.” Charlie said as if it were a threat.

“That’s not all they want to embrace.” Colby mumbled under his breath.

“Really, if you weren’t my brother I might have jumped ship by now.”

“I’ll consider myself warned.”

Colby helped Charlie pull an oversized t-shirt over his head. Ian looked at Charlie, swimming in an FBI t-shirt that was three sizes too big, and realized where the sparrow he remembered had gone off to. It had become the keeper of Charlie’s pain and black moods.

“I’m serious about you being off cases.” Don said. “I know you, Chuck, if you let this sit it’s just gonna gnaw at you. Amita just threw down, you know? You need to show her you’re still on your game.”

Charlie gave a tired chuckle and pulled his legs gingerly into a pair of Don’s sweat pants. “I’ll fix the theorem if you get these guys tonight.”

“We’ll have them wrapped up with a bow and in holding by morning. And if you ever drive injured again I will shoot you myself.”

Charlie held up two fingers. “Promise. Mathematician’s honor.”


“I’ll drive him home.” said Colby.

“Thanks.” Don said, and ruffled his brother’s hair before leaving.

Devo79devo79 on December 3rd, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC)
That's gotta hurt big time! Ow!

Oh and the chapter was good =)
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 3rd, 2008 08:12 pm (UTC)
Charlie will be okay. He just needs a little TLC
mikes_grrl on December 3rd, 2008 07:06 pm (UTC)
This was so very interesting! Charlie really is all about pushing his limits, yes?

Ian seems to be becoming entranced by Charlie a little. Hmmm.

Once again what I love about this is what I love about your stories in general: the everyday interactions between the people involved, from the agents reacting to Charlie's injuries to Charlie and Don bantering about their father through a medical trauma, and all the small bits and pieces of character you've strewn about the place.

So now I return to holding my breath and biting my nails at the same time, waiting for tomorrow....

(Sorry I did not comment yesterday, it was a great and cheerful chapter that helped liven up a very bad no good day. ♥)
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 3rd, 2008 08:14 pm (UTC)
I'll try to get tomorrow up early just for you. Hope today is going better.
riverotter1951: lily of the valleyriverotter1951 on December 3rd, 2008 08:40 pm (UTC)
This is priceless: Ian looked at Charlie, swimming in an FBI t-shirt that was three sizes too big, and realized where the sparrow he remembered had gone off to. It had become the keeper of Charlie’s pain and black moods.

Ian has realized what happened in the 18 months he was gone. Colby stabilizes Charlie and gives him the necessary focus to keep centered and not hurting himself.
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 3rd, 2008 08:43 pm (UTC)
the plot line with Ian was originally much more complicated/convoluted and this scene and that moment was much more important. Ian also clued into a part of Charlie and Colby's relationship much earlier. I might try to touch back on it in the next story.
ninou1ninou1 on December 3rd, 2008 08:59 pm (UTC)
I do love Charlie bad days and this one reach a whole new flavor with Ian's presence...
Do love Colby motherhenning side too, he is great at it.
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 3rd, 2008 09:42 pm (UTC)
Yes he is. And I figure everyone has bad days, even Charlie.
Erinstarlettmalfoy on December 3rd, 2008 10:05 pm (UTC)
80 thousand, eh? ::grins:: Not that our rich litre professor needs the money, lol. Sorry to comment so late... I actually had work to do at work today. Hehe. I live how observant Ian is. I can't wait to see if he finds out the whole story, and what he will do after he knows, if he does.

Thanks for another great update!
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 3rd, 2008 10:07 pm (UTC)
Well Charlie is going to need a little extra cash soon so the money's a good thing really. And don't you hate it when work gets in the way of reading fic?
(no subject) - starlettmalfoy on December 3rd, 2008 10:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - starlettmalfoy on December 3rd, 2008 10:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ladygray99 on December 4th, 2008 12:01 am (UTC) (Expand)
Ame: Bah Humbug by pink_cosmosamejisuto on December 3rd, 2008 10:42 pm (UTC)
Poor Charlie! I kinda hope Don gets Amita audited or something. Hack into her Facebook account and put up weird sex links or something. Yeah, that would be kinda obvious but a girl can dream. Great chapter!
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 3rd, 2008 11:58 pm (UTC)
Don't worry. The eppes theroum will ride again. And Amita and Charlie will hash everything out adventualy. Not in this story but the next one.
(Anonymous) on December 3rd, 2008 11:41 pm (UTC)
You don’t understand. All of you. I have been drip feeding all of you the best mathematics education for years now. Most of you could audit my introductory classes with just a little extra prep. You all understand this because I’ve been teaching you to understand it. I cannot explain this to a jury. You have got to get these guys in the act and you’ve got to get them tonight or they’re gone! No lawyer or judge would give me time to explain this and LA juries are notoriously moronic! You have to get them in the act!

I don't know why this line caught my eye, but it did, & now i can't get it out of my head. it's like weird song lyrics

I live for more

ladygray99ladygray99 on December 3rd, 2008 11:59 pm (UTC)
hehe. Sorry. :) More tomorrow.
callisto24: robby romerocallisto24 on December 4th, 2008 05:03 pm (UTC)
Great! I love it! :)
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 4th, 2008 06:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)
fredbassettfredbassett on December 4th, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC)
Really great chapter. The dialogue was fantastic, and I loved the description of cleaning poor Charlie up. And the DEA guys writing down the math was just perfect.
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 4th, 2008 07:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm always happy when I nail dialogue.
twins_m0m on December 4th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
Ian seems to becoming more fascinated by Charlie as he sees more of his hidden personality. Hope that doesn't mean trouble for Colby (Charlie did promise to be his always - I don't remember him ever breaking a promise). Charlie's pain threshold must be REAL high to get hit by a car and just go on.

As always, I loved the depth and multiple layers of your story. A drop of pain and a spoon full of humor to help it go down easier.

Yeah, I finally caught up!!
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 4th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)
yeah for caught up and yes Charlie keeps his promises. That doesn't keep Ian from looking though.
wcpjfditdov on December 4th, 2008 11:33 pm (UTC)
Charlie is never one to do things in halves is he? What Charlie wants, Charlie gets, even if it means ignoring everything else he needs. It must be amazing to be loved by someone who possess such focus and tenacity. Charlie might be "high maintenance", but once he loves, he would never let go.
It is funny to see Ian ogling and Colby being territorial. But Colby and Charlie are really good for each other. Colby is exactly what Charlie needs, and Charlie has so much to give to Colby in return.
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 5th, 2008 12:24 am (UTC)
That's pretty much Charlie in a nut shell. If Colby didn't have a strong personality himself he'd be smothered.
(Deleted comment)
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 6th, 2008 06:17 pm (UTC)
We all have those bad days once in a while and yeah Ian's playing with a bit of fire there.
laura_trekkielaura_trekkie on January 17th, 2009 12:19 pm (UTC)
Looks like Ian's getting a clearer picture about Charlie and Colby now, though he's obviously not quite out of the denial stage yet.

Poor Charlie, I guess that's the downside of embracing pain like he does! At least he's got a whole extended pack to look out for him. And all this on top of his less physically painful bad day. I'm disappointed in Amita. Ok, she was misled by Charlie and found out the worst way, and yes, she's got to publish work, but she didn't have to go after Charlie that way and she didn't have to drag the internet chat into it (because she must have let something slip sometime for it to even be on the chat boards, right?). At least he should be able to give her what for when he tidies up his theorem.

ladygray99ladygray99 on January 17th, 2009 07:10 pm (UTC)
Well it wasn't entirely Amita's fault and the two of them will clear the air somewhere in Whitman 5. Also Charlie is fairly out now so the gay bit is no big secret. The rest is just campus gossip.
kdoriankdorian on February 23rd, 2010 05:27 am (UTC)
Another wonderful chapter. If I'm reading your setup correctly, I think I know who gets killed and at least some of how the aftermath is dealt with. I'll find out if I'm right tomorrow when I read the next chapter.
ladygray99ladygray99 on February 23rd, 2010 12:44 pm (UTC)
Honestly the death thing is a bit of a misslead. I'm not into killing people really unless they're really old. I'd like to hear however what you think the set up is.
(no subject) - kdorian on February 23rd, 2010 04:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
fractalmoonfractalmoon on November 27th, 2012 01:26 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed how Colby and Don and even Ian "mother-henned" Charlie over his objections, and Don telling him to take time off in a bantering way that avoided directly saying, you're in no shape to work.

If Charlie's law-enforcement audiences are getting a free higher math education, Colby is probably qualified to work as a paramedic by now.
ladygray99ladygray99 on November 27th, 2012 02:34 pm (UTC)
Colby has gotten pretty good at discrete first aid by now.