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14 December 2008 @ 07:39 am
A Woman Waits for Me 24/39  
Title: A Woman Waits for Me
Chapter
: 24/39
Author: ladygray99
Pairing: Charlie/Colby, Don/OFC
Summary: When Don’s life slides into the darkness only family will help him find his way out. – “The first days are the hardest days, don’t you worry any more.”
Rating: PG
Word Count: 2,383
Warning: none
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 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
Authors Notes: Here’s your daily does. A last little bit of Martin in this one and bits of the team. Hope everyone likes it. Feedback please.
Betas:swingandswirl  and riverotter1951

 

Part 24
A Shade of Yellow

In later years Don was only able to describe the first days of Mattie’s life as a vague blur of jumbled feelings falling into routine. Fear, worry and panic cut with split seconds of blinding joy. Don wasn’t sure if there was a Saint Martha but he was willing to write a letter to the Pope recommending Nurse Gonzales for the position. At five foot four, small and dark, she handled Mattie as if he was the center of the universe and talked Don and Anne through the never ending cycle of weightings, feedings ands tests.

Don had never gone through the phase of wanting to be a doctor and had never had a good impression of hospitals. The never ending smell of antiseptic burned at his eyes and nose and the beeps and hiss of heart monitors and oxygen provided a white noise sound track that never stopped.

And yet in the blur a few moments stood out. Reaching his hand in for the first time, slipping just the tip of a finger beneath a tiny hand. Don swore he felt the smallest flex of fingers and sucked in air trying not to cry.

Don could remember holding his breath the first time Mattie was lifted from the incubator, about a week old, and pressed to Anne’s bare chest. Martha quickly wrapped a sling around Anne and Mattie, holding him there. Anne had gazed down at her son’s small head for long minutes before looking over to Don with a shy smile.

“He’s so warm.”

Don had smiled and lay his head on Anne’s shoulder watching his son sleep against her chest.

The next day it had been Don’s turn, just a half hour to start with. Don knew his hands were shaking and he could feel his heart slamming into the inside of his rib cage. The doctor had given them a long explanation about the importance of skin to skin contact but all that fell from Don’s mind as the tiny warm body was pressed to his chest. He was dimly aware of the click beep of Charlie’s camera phone but all Don could focus on was the heady mingle of joy and terror as he held his boy for the first time.

A few days later Mattie rested in Charlie’s trembling hands for just a moment while his bedding was changed. Don had insisted and tried not to laugh at Charlie’s face frozen in terror. This time Colby’s phone gave a click beep as Charlie blinked down at the small life in his hands. “It’s a good look for you, Chuck.” Don had said before Charlie gently settled Mattie back down.

Colby handled his turn far better, picking up Mattie like an old pro, humming some little tune Don didn’t recognize and despite Mattie’s small size Don was struck by how natural it looked, Colby cooing at a baby. Don wondered for the first time since Amita had left town if Charlie would ever have a child of his own, be willing to drag himself out of his own world long enough to let another life into it. Certainly Colby looked as if he wouldn’t mind.

~

Don rubbed at his eyes as he made his way to the NICU ward. Dawn was just skirting the edge of the LA sky. His dad had sent him and Anne home late last night with orders to get a few hours of sleep. Anne had fallen into the deep sleep of the utterly drained but Don had spent too many years in situations where utter exhaustion meant you probably needed to be twice as alert.

Don’s steps faltered a little as he rounded the corner to the ward. Agent Martin Sherwood, looking as immaculate as ever, was peering through the window at Mattie, hands clasped behind his back.

Don came up beside him. “Agent Sherwood.”

“Agent Eppes.” Martin greeted without looking away.

“Umm…Charlie’s not here.” Don said since that was the only reason he could think of for the NSA agent to be there.

“I know. He’s ignoring my calls, I figured I could short stop him here.”

“Ah.” Don watched as Martin’s head tilted to the side as if he were looking at some alien creature. “He’s small.” Martin said in a mater of fact way.

“Yes.” Don replied.

“I’ve never seen one before.” Martin said having not shifted his gaze the entire conversation.

“A preemie?”

“A baby.”

“Really?”

“Well, not a live one.” Don decided he didn’t want to contemplate what that could mean.

“So no other kids in your house?”

“My homes were never rated for infant fostering.” Martin replied without emotion.

Don tried to hide any surprise at that simple statement. It was probably something the controlled agent hadn’t really meant to let slip. Foster kid, lifelong from the sound of it. Don’s estimation of the man went up several notches. You don’t go from being bounced around the system to firmly settled in the depths of the NSA, in charge of handling Charlie, without being very smart and very good.

“Would you like to come in?” Don offered.

Martin turned to look at Don for the first time. “I can’t.”

Don shook his head. “Weekend night nurse, she doesn’t know all the family yet. Just tell them you’re Anne’s brother if anyone asks.”

Martin nodded and Don led him through decontamination. Don wondered if he would have any sense of smell left by the end when the harsh burn of the antiseptic hit his nose. Wrapping the required yellow robe around himself, he knew he’d never want to see that particular shade of yellow again when this was all over. He’d already thrown out the one yellow tie he owned.

The lights in the ward were dim, simulating night as he walked down the row. There were a few other parents but they were little more than just odd blurs in the corner of his eyes and Don was sure he wasn’t much more to them.

He did a quick visual check of Mattie, then a check of the equipment and the log of the night nurse. Martha had been more than willing to explain what every beep and hiss and notation meant in the first days, easily sensing that Don was a man used to being in control of situations, not that this gave him any more control but knowing what was going on at least let him maintain the slightest thread of an illusion.

Martin peered into the incubator twisting his head first one way, then another.

“I think he looks like you.” Martin said softly.

“You can’t really tell at that size.”

Martin bent over and peered through the side.

“I think he has your nose.”

Don nodded. Mattie fluttered his eyes open for a split second, showing little slivers of blue gray. Don had been told they would probably darken to the same brown as his but they weren’t even meant to be open yet.

“Hello.” Martin said softly. “I’m Agent Martin Sherwood, NSA.” Don tried not to snicker at Martin’s very formal tone. “And you are Matthew Eppes. That is a very important name you have. That name means it is part of my job to keep an eye on you, make sure you don’t get into trouble and trouble doesn’t come looking for you. Luckily your Uncle Charlie picked a hospital with a reasonably good in-house security system.”

Don grew still. As an agent he was always worried about people trying to get to him through his family but he hadn’t put a lot of thought into people trying to get to Charlie the same way. Then again, Charlie seemed to be getting deeper and deeper into more and more dark and secret stuff.

Mattie seemed uninterested. Soft footfalls echoed through the room and Don looked up to see Charlie approaching, looking more than a little perturbed.

Charlie skipped the hellos. “I told you I’m taking a month off and you’ve got a lot of nerve coming here. Whatever it is give it to someone else, anyone, give it to Larry.”

“Good morning to you too, Dr. Eppes. I know you’re taking time off. We would just like your opinion on who would be the best person to farm out a little of your usual work to.”

“Cryptography, Amita. Set analysis, Penfield, as long as someone double checks his arithmetic. Straight ops, go in house.”

“You know we can’t give work to Dr. Ramanajan.”

Charlie rolled his eyes. “Oh for fuck’s sake, she’s a native born citizen, she’s been to India once, she doesn’t speak the language, she knows no one there, she can’t even cook a curry.”

“I don’t make policy and you know it Charlie.”

Charlie threw his arms in the air. “Fine, email me whatever.”

“Are you two quite finished?” Don snapped, still a little tired.

“Yes, my apologies.” Martin answered quickly. Charlie looked down at his feet looking a little guilty.

“How is he?” Charlie asked.

“Had an easy night.”

“Good.” Charlie pulled something from the pocket of the robe. “I brought something.”

What Charlie handed over Don recognized immediately but hadn’t seen in years. It was his rookie year baseball card from the Stockton Rangers.

“Where did you find this?”

“I’ve had it lying around for a while.”

Don laid it against the clear plastic. “Hey, look at this. It’s your daddy.” Mattie’s eyes seemed to flutter for a moment. “It’s your daddy a long time ago back when he was batting .323 with 51 RBIs. Which isn’t half bad.”

Charlie chuckled and looked at the picture. “And no matter what your daddy or Uncle Martin here may think, that amount of hair gel is never coming back into style.”

~

Don scowled as the hospital tuna sandwich turned over in his stomach. He knew there had to be an alternative to the hospital cafeteria but he couldn’t bring himself to take the time to find it. Even after three weeks, he more or less had to be forced from the ward to perform basic human maintenance like eating and sleeping.

As he came around the corner, he spotted Ian hanging out by the entrance to NICU.

“Hey, Don,” Ian greeted casually.

“Hey, Ian. What can I do for you?”

“Nothing. Just though I’d drop by. Touch base. How’s Mattie doing?”

Don smiled. “He put on half an ounce yesterday.”

“Good.”

“How are things on your end?”

Ian shook his head. “You don’t need to worry about the office, Don.”

“Just asking.”

“Well, don’t.”

“Had the urge to crack David and Colby’s heads together yet?”

Ian chuckled. “Only a small one.”

Don smirked. “Got into a pissing contest with Walker and Garcia yet?”

“Just a minor one. I think I won.”

“Well, Charlie gets along oddly well with both of them, get him to run interference if the testosterone gets too thick.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Ian said with a nod, then reached into a pocket and pulled out an odd looking thing that seemed to be made of bits of wire and crystals. “Uh, look,” he kinda stuttered. “There’s this guy whose ass I saved a while back and he’s sort of a witch doctor.”

Don couldn’t hide the smirk. “Really?”

Ian rolled his eyes. “He tells me he keeps away the ghosts of all the people I kill.”

“Does it work?”

“Well, I haven’t seen one yet. At any rate, I mentioned Mattie and he sent up this.” Ian handed over the strange little thing. “It’s supposed to keep away the evil eye, bad spirits, plague, dandruff, I don’t know.” Ian shrugged. “I figure it couldn’t hurt.”

Don nodded. “Well, right now I’m willing to try just about anything.”

“I figured as much.” Ian patted Don on the arm. “Don, you are a completely indestructible son of a bitch, I don’t see how your kid’s going to be any different.”

Don gave a half chuckle. “Thank you for that, Ian.”

Ian gave his watch a quick check. “I have to get back.”

“Yeah.” Don gestured to the door to the ward. “Me too.”

~

Anne paced outside the ward, stretching her legs. She’d been warned that it would be hard, but even when nothing was going wrong she was finding that some days just seemed to be a little longer and harder than others.

She was considering just banging her head against the wall when she noticed David Sinclair coming down the hall. She waved to him. They had never really had a proper conversation but he always seemed like a nice guy and everyone seemed to speak well of him.

“Hey, David.”

“Hey, Anne. How are you doing?”

“Hanging in there. Want me to get Don?”

“Nah, just dropping something off from the guys in SWAT.” David handed over a gift bag. Anne reached in and pulled out a brown teddy bear in a green SWAT uniform.

“Oh,” she squeaked. “It’s so cute.” She tapped the bear’s chest. “I think there’s Kevlar in there.”

David grinned. “SWAT commander’s wife is pretty good with a needle and thread.”

Anne petted the bear. “Well, tell them thank you for me.”

She looked at David, still hugging the bear. “You guys really like Don, don’t you?”

“He’s a good boss and a good man. The part of the world we deal with you find out that’s kinda a rare thing.”

“There’s more than that.”

David shrugged. “Don was tracked to be one of the youngest ADs in the Bureau. Hell, he was tracked for the top job. Sharp, focused, politically savvy and he walked away from that ‘cause a family he barely spoke to at the time was more important. Everyone knows it and they might not all get it, but they respect it. I was assigned to Don’s team to spy on him, more or less. I was offered a transfer after a year; decided I’d rather work for Don. Colby had a free ride to a corner office himself. Turned it down.”

Anne nodded. “I know he appreciates you guys. I know he doesn’t like being away from the office this long.”

David shook his head. “This is more important and we wouldn’t let him in the front door if he tried.”

 
 
 
 
ninou1ninou1 on December 13th, 2008 07:05 pm (UTC)
"Uncle Martin", really ? Well, he is kinda family after all, and he's gonna keep Mattie safe, so...

This little one is a strong one, go Mattie, you're on the good track.
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 13th, 2008 07:07 pm (UTC)
Of Course he's little but strong. He's an Eppes.
Erinstarlettmalfoy on December 13th, 2008 07:26 pm (UTC)
I don't have too much to say today.... Lovely chapter! The various gifts were adorable. It's nice to see how everyone cares. <3 Looking forward to the next part, as always!
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 13th, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you. See you tomorrow.
mikes_grrl on December 13th, 2008 07:32 pm (UTC)
Aw, so very sweet and touching! No, I'm not being sarcastic; you really captured the mixed emotions and pure love of all the Eppes very well.

Martin's appearance made me coo -- hint of backstory! Yay! -- but it is ominous. Anne and Mattie are targets now, sure as Don or Alan is. *is scared*

ladygray99ladygray99 on December 13th, 2008 07:38 pm (UTC)
Everyone possibly connected to Don or Charlie could be the target for a bad guy. They just don't usually talk about it. Martin is a little more blunt especially seeing as how Charlie's already been grabbed once.
riverotter1951: Firestarriverotter1951 on December 13th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
Perfect - David shrugged. “Don was tracked to be one of the youngest ADs in the Bureau. Hell, he was tracked for the top job. Sharp, focused, politically savvy and he walked away from that ‘cause a family he barely spoke to at the time was more important. Everyone knows it and they might not all get it, but they respect it. I was assigned to Don’s team to spy on him, more or less. I was offered a transfer after a year; decided I’d rather work for Don. Colby had a free ride to a corner office himself. Turned it down.”

Anne learning about the importance of family to Don and how loyal his is team is as well.
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 13th, 2008 07:53 pm (UTC)
Anne's not terribly used to family or loyalty so it's going to take a bit of getting used to for her.
wickhouse2005wickhouse2005 on December 13th, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC)
Hmmmm, do I sense Uncle Ian and Uncle Martin?????
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 13th, 2008 08:53 pm (UTC)
Well they are both single.
(Deleted comment)
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 13th, 2008 09:41 pm (UTC)
What? (innocent blinking) It's just Colby holding a little baby?
Devo79devo79 on December 13th, 2008 09:52 pm (UTC)
“It’s supposed to keep away the evil eye, bad spirits, plague, dandruff, I don’t know.” Ian shrugged.

I need one of those =)
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 13th, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
Don't we all.
Jestana: #s: Don/Charliejestana on December 13th, 2008 10:29 pm (UTC)
I was a preemie baby, too, and I survived, so Mattie will. *determined nod*

Of course, it was more because I'm a twin and Mom was too petite to carry two of us to full term.

I love these glimpses of everyone being so supportive of Don and Anne. Just lovely.

P.S. Loved the scene with Edgerton and Megan in the last chapter where she basically told him he was running the show, whether he wanted to or not. *smirk*
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 13th, 2008 11:48 pm (UTC)
Yeah. Silly Ian, thought he was getting a vacation for a few months. /shakes head/
Jestana: #s: Meganjestana on December 14th, 2008 05:29 pm (UTC)
Yeah. Like Megan would believe that he's doing that for her. *snort*
wcpjfditdov on December 14th, 2008 12:26 am (UTC)
Are you going to give Charlie and Colby a baby? They look sooo cute with one.

Martin is a bit scary though... Hint of dark back story coming soon?

ladygray99ladygray99 on December 14th, 2008 01:00 am (UTC)
I don't think Charlie and Colby are really set up for a child at this phase in their life. As for Martin, very dark back story but that will have to wait for the next story.
fredbassettfredbassett on December 14th, 2008 02:13 pm (UTC)
That was a lovely, quiet, very touching chapter :)
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 14th, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :-)
twins_m0m on December 15th, 2008 09:21 pm (UTC)
I liked your description of life in the NICU. Parents always try to keep their nursery so quiet, but the NICU, with all its bells going off, is very noisy. Don's really stepping up as a dad (not that I had any doubt). And having Martin and Ian check up on baby Mattie is cute. Have they met yet? I don't remember them meeting each other, that would be interesting. David's talk to Anne about Don's loyalty to family was nice. And I think Don includes his team as part of his family, which is why they think so highly of him.
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 16th, 2008 12:43 am (UTC)
Ian and Martin haven't met yet. They keep missing each other but Charlie has plans to play match maker.
Mia: theboysmia_dcwut_09 on January 1st, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC)
i love david and anne conversation
so like them
ladygray99ladygray99 on January 1st, 2009 10:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I really need to start writing for David more.
Miamia_dcwut_09 on January 1st, 2009 10:34 pm (UTC)
i know the feeling
laura_trekkielaura_trekkie on January 18th, 2009 11:05 am (UTC)
Lovely chapter. I liked all the visits and chats between characters.

Where did Colby learn to handle a baby like that? I can't remember what he said about his family and whether he had younger brothers. Did he get to hold a baby brother? I wonder if Charlie took note of Colby's ease?

I also liked David and Anne's conversation about Don and how his team sees him, why they work with him when they could've moved on by now.

Laura.
ladygray99ladygray99 on January 19th, 2009 04:06 am (UTC)
Nothing in cannon about Colby's family and in this he's the youngest I just figured he'd be kinda natural at it.
fractalmoonfractalmoon on November 27th, 2012 07:33 pm (UTC)
"Charlie threw his arms in the air. “Fine, email me whatever.”"

Wow, Martin prevailed over Charlie's will - not even the POTUS could pull that off. I wondered if Martin's unlikely speech to Mattie was for Don's benefit, to sell him on the idea that the family needed NSA guardian angels in the wings, so that Don would encourage Charlie to return Martin's phone calls.

ladygray99ladygray99 on December 3rd, 2012 03:46 pm (UTC)
Martin certainly wanted Don to know where he stood.