ladygray99 (ladygray99) wrote,

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Vignettes - Part 12: Christmas Dinner

Title: Vignettes - Part 12: Christmas Dinner
Author: ladygray99
Chapter: 12/36
Pairing: Charlie/Colby, Alan, Don
Rating: FRC
Disclaimer: Belongs to many other people, not me
Warnings/Squicks: Math happens a little
Summary: What moments mark a friendship, a love, a marriage, a lifetime?
Previous chapters: Tossing a Football
Notes:  For the purposes of this story I’ve given Colby two brothers and a sister. We’re one third of the way there folks.
Beta(s): The amazing irena_adler long may she write.

Christmas Dinner

It had been almost five years since Colby had made it home for Christmas dinner and he was willing to swear that the family population had doubled. The number of nieces and nephews and cousins he’d never met seemed completely absurd. At the same time, he was willing to swear nothing had changed. His mother looked a little older, his brothers a little harder, his sister a little more tired and yet the game was on TV and the turkey was in the oven, it could have been ten years ago or ten years from now. He looked down to see a small girl of maybe four pulling at his leg. She held up a small writing pad and a pencil.

“Problem?” The little girl asked. Colby looked to his sister, Mary Jo, for clarification.

“Someone taught Katie how to add. Just write two plus two a few times and she’ll go bug someone else.” Colby smiled. Seemed like he was destined to be around math geeks. He wrote 2+5 and was quickly rewarded with a 7.

“Problem!” Katie demanded with a joyful squeak.


15 was written.

“Problem!” Katie demanded again. Colby wrote 576+837 and was not as startled as he should have been when the answer came back as quickly as 2+5.

“Katie, can I show you something?” Katie nodded glad to have found an adult that enjoyed her game. Colby quickly wrote down a series of multiplication questions with the answers and long work so she could see what he did.

She frowned in concentration for a moment then smiled and clapped her hands. “Problem!”

Colby wrote out a dozen multiplication problems on the page using larger and larger numbers. He used the calculator on his phone to check the answers as fast as Katie wrote them. His heart was pounding in his chest and Katie’s smile was lighting up the room. When she was done, Colby got up from the couch taking his niece’s hand in his.

“Mom, I need to use the phone to make a long distance call. I’ll pay you back for it.”

His mother made a vague hand gesture from the kitchen engrossed in turkey basting.

In Pasadena, Charlie jumped, sending a ragged line of chalk across his equations, as Alan knocked on the garage wall to get his attention.

“Phone for you. It’s Agent Granger.” Charlie knew he smiled more than he should have, considering the state of his equation.  Charlie picked up the phone in the living room where Don had just muted the game, probably wondering why one of his agents was calling his brother.

“Hey, there.”

“Hey, Charlie. How are things going?”

“They’re fine, just catching up on some stuff.”

“Great. Look, I need a bit of a favor.”


“I need you to talk to my niece. I showed her how to do basic multiplication about ten minutes ago and she just multiplied four digit numbers together in her head.”

“How old is she?” Charlie asked.



“Could you talk with her and then maybe talk with my sister?”

Listening in, Don and Alan were intrigued by Charlie’s end of the conversation. He was talking math, that wasn’t unusual, what was odd was that he was talking math the way he did when he was little. Basic arithmetic at first and within twenty minutes single variable algebra. From the other side of the phone, they could hear shrieks and giggles from a little girl.

Back at his family’s house, Colby watched in amazement as his little niece’s note pad quickly filled with larger and larger numbers and finally equations involving x. And she seemed so happy, like she’d been tied up and was finally allowed to run. He looked around at his family. The women were in the kitchen finishing dinner. The men were gathered around the TV and the hordes of children seemed almost feral as they ran around the place. Finally, Katie stopped writing and ran to her mother holding out the phone.

“Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy! Problems man wants to talk to you!”

Colby’s sister looked very confused and warily picked up the phone. “Hello?”

In California, Charlie Eppes actually stood up straighter. “Hello, ma’am. My name is Doctor Charles Eppes, I’m a professor of Applied Mathematics at the California Institute of Science. I also consult with the FBI, that’s how I know your brother.”

Don and Alan looked at each other. Charlie seldom pulled out the full name and complete title.

Charlie continued, “I need to talk with you about your daughter, Katie.” Another twenty minutes passed and Charlie finally relaxed.

“Hey Colby… yeah… I know some people out there; I’ll have them get in touch after the holidays.” Charlie laughed at something the other men couldn’t hear. “Well you never know when lightning is gonna strike. But Larry’s working it… Yes… Yes…Well if she can’t afford the private tutors I’m sure I can find someone to work pro bono…she is brilliant… I’ll send my old math primers, they’ll keep her busy for a few months… Ok…My pleasure… I’ll talk to you later”. Charlie cupped his hand over the phone and whispered something. Then “Merry Christmas.” Charlie hung up the phone with a smile and Don who had never been as bright as his brother finally began to clue into something.

Tags: fandom: numb3rs, fic, pairing: charlie/colby, rating: g, vignettes
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