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In Turmoil...

Chapter Text

Colby stood at the entrance to Charlie’s office watching him grade papers.

“Hey, Charlie. Have a minute?” Colby asked, coming a bit into the room.

Charlie threw his red pen onto the table. “God yes. Please tell me there is a case and save me from Math for Dummies!”

Colby chuckled coming into the room and shutting the door. He laughed. “Come on they can’t be that bad?”

Charlie picked up the paper and read. “‘Solve for y in the following equation where x = 4 and z = 5. x+ z = y’ This person answered y = 3/4 X.”

Colby laughed. “Ok that is pretty bad.”

Charlie grinned at Colby. “So what can I do for you if it isn’t a case that brings you by?”

Colby plopped into a seat across from Charlie. “We’ve been dating for what two months now?”

“Actually two months and two weeks. Give or take a couple days and hours. I can give you an exact time if you need it,” Charlie answered. They had started dating when Colby took a gumball from his office. He turned around as he was leaving and said 'since I stole one of your gumballs, how about I treat you to dinner?' Charlie accepted.

Colby blinked and then realized who he was talking to so he shouldn’t expect otherwise when it comes to math. “Uh, no thanks.” He continued on with what he wanted to discuss. “Ok. I’m going to ask you a question and how you answer depends on what I am going to say next. There is a reason behind me asking which will be explained either way. Don’t base your answer on probability. I know you could give me that answer but that isn’t what I am looking for. Can you see this going somewhere or does this have an expiration date in your mind?”

Charlie thought for a moment and Colby could tell it wasn’t the math distracting him. By now he knew that look. “It doesn’t have an expiration date in my mind, but I can’t deny that one of our jobs may force it. I know I don’t have plans to say that’s it.”

Colby nodded, satisfied with the answer. “Good. I am with you on that. Why I was asking—and please don’t interrupt—is that there are things that you need to know. I haven’t dated anyone since I left Idaho. I am sure you can understand that the military makes dating really hard and basically impossible when you are in a war zone and well there are reasons why I haven’t dated once we got back. I’ll be honest I didn’t intend to ask you out, but I don’t regret it either. If you agree to continue dating, I figure you need to know the shit because it’s big. I can’t explain alone, but if you agree I’ll pick you up at 6pm. Pack an overnight bag. Tell your dad if he asks you have an early morning meeting at another college too far away to make the drive in the morning. Don too. Think about it and let me know if I don’t need to pick you up.” Colby stood up from the chair and began walking to the door.

“Colby,” Charlie called when he was at the door, making Colby turn. “I’ll see you at six.” Colby grinned slightly and left.

Charlie looked back at his papers to grade and groaned but picked uphill red pen. If a case wasn’t in he needed something to distract him.

Numb3rs

At 6pm exactly, Colby pulled up to the Eppes house. Charlie was already waiting outside and quickly threw his bag in the back before climbing into the front.

“Drive before my dad comes out!” Charlie ordered.

Colby did as ordered and saw Charlie relax out of the corner of his eye as they lost sight of the house. “Everything ok?”

“I told my dad what you told me to. He asked what time I was leaving and I told him you were picking me up at six so if a case came in we could get there quicker. I don’t think he believed me. He told me to be safe and handed me a condom. I don’t even want to know where he got that!”

“Doesn’t say much for my stamina…” Colby muttered.

“Colby!” Charlie yelled, hunching down in his seat. “This is my father we are talking about!”

Colby shrugged. “He’s just trying to protect you.”

Charlie glanced at him. “Oh so I should have let him cornered you and given you the talk about how I am his baby boy and—”

“Well now I didn’t say that!” Colby hurriedly interrupted.

“You just said that he was only trying to protect me and theory states that I would be better protected if he talked to you too.” Charlie insisted.

“Let’s just forget I agreed with him, huh?” Colby suggested.

“Works for me,” Charlie agreed.

“So any more math for dummies funny answers?” Colby asked.

Charlie groaned, but continued to regale him with the humorous answers that he found.

When they pulled into the motel, Charlie looked at Colby. “Do I need to bring the condom after all?”

Colby shook his head. “Trust me you are barely going to want to sleep here, but we meet in different motels for safety. Trust me for a bit and stay quiet until we get to a room.”

Colby grabbed the bags from the back, including Charlie’s, and walked into the motel, Charlie following. He passed one bag to Charlie to reach into his pocket as he approached the counter. One room for the night. He told the man laying the money on the counter.

The man didn’t even look at the amount, just handed over a key. Room 24. Second floor.

Colby took it without a word and led Charlie up the steps. He stopped at room 21 instead and knocked twice quickly and then once more.

When the door cracked open, he grabbed Charlie and quickly got into the room with him, shutting and locking the door.

“Sorry for the cloak and daggers but it is safer to be seen as little as possible.” Colby motioned into the room and Charlie stepped in and saw a man sitting in the single wooden chair in the room.

“Charlie this is Michael Kirkland,” Colby told Charlie.

Charlie looked at Colby. “If this is your way of asking for a threesome—” Charlie started to say and was cut off by both guys choking.

“No!” Kirkland spluttered. “You told him nothing!” Kirkland complained.

“You told me not to, but he can normally put 2 and 2 together quicker.”

“You bring him to a sleezy motel with another guy already in the room and expect that not to equal 4.”

“Good point. Charlie I am not looking for a threesome I promise, though after this conversation you may wish I was.”

Colby sat on the bed and pulled Charlie to sit down next to him.

“Where should we start?” Kirkland asked Colby.

“I want to tell him everything.” Colby said.

“Seriously?”

“He’s got top security clearance and I have the feeling one day he is going to need to know everything.” Kirkland looked like he was about to protest so Colby cut in. “If he doesn’t know everything it could lead to the case breaking.”

“Fine,” Kirkland through his hands in the air in a gesture of surrender.

Colby looked at Charlie. “When I was in Afghanistan my partner Dwayne Carter thought it was a good idea to ask for documents that he shouldn’t have. I reported it, but they knew there was a mole in the DOJ so decided to let it go. Then he dragged me into the nonsense by doing that. So we decided to make me spy on the Chinese by spying for the Chinese. Kirkland is my handler.” Colby could see the math running behind Charlie’s eyes and stopped with the short version of the story there, while he calculated whatever he was calculating.

“What do you need from me,” Charlie asked.

Colby couldn’t believe it that Charlie was already ready to throw in help, but then he should have known better. “Right now nothing. I have the feeling that the day is going to come where this is all going to come out into the open. I am going to need to trust me. The rest of the team won’t and some calculation you need to make may depend on if you can trust me.”

“What about checking people’s ties to China?” Charlie asked, unwilling to let it go that there wasn’t anything he could do now.

“Dr. Eppes,” Kirkland finally spoke, drawing both men’s attention. “There are a ton of people who were all vetted for allegiances to another country. No one was flagged. Even more we used one of your equation programs from a different thing to check to see if anyone was overly clear.”

“Which program?” Charlie asked.

“I’m not at liberty to say,” Kirkland answered. Charlie looked dubiously at him.

“It’s my program. I am sure you can tell me it’s code,” he answered and watched a blush lightly appear on Kirkland’s face.

“What I was hoping you weren’t going to make me say is that I don’t remember it and this project is kept as a need to know only to the point that I brought in an old tech who was dying of cancer to run it and leave no evidence. He died a week later.”

Charlie sighed. “There is really nothing I can do?” Charlie looked at Colby pleading for something, so Colby draped his arm around his shoulders.

“If there is you will be the first to know ‘cause we aren’t smart enough to figure it out,” Colby assured.

“Well gentlemen, if that is all. You do not speak of this not in a secured location.”

Colby nodded knowing that was the end of the talk and stood up, pulling Charlie up with him and grabbed the bags. “Absolutely.”

“Before you go, Catch.” Kirkland tossed him a little device which Colby snatched out of the air. “It’s a bug sweeper. Try not to need it, but if you do need to talk best be safe about it. I didn’t give that to you.”

“Thanks boss,” Colby told him as they walked to the door.

“Granger, “ Kirkland called. The two turned to look at him. “Teach Doctor Eppes to shoot. I don’t care that he doesn’t believe in guns. He may need to defend himself if this comes into the open. I’ve already gone through the process of getting him a concealed carry permit, though went through more hidden channels so no one knows except us until they need to.” Colby nodded and Charlie knew whether he liked it or not he was going to be learning to shoot. “You know the one we met at before. The owner owes me a favor. He is opening to you after hours so no one sees you and has been heavily bribed to keep his mouth shut. Just call when you want to use the range.” Colby nodded. They turned to leave.

“Dr. Eppes, a word” Kirkland added. They turned back. “Privately” he added. Colby looked to Charlie to make sure he didn’t mind and Charlie nodded.

“I’ll meet you in our room door will be unlocked.” Colby told him and pecked him on the cheek quickly. He took the bags and left.

Charlie looked back at Kirkland and waited for him to speak.

“Colby wanted to bring you in because he didn’t want to lie to you. Frankly, I only agreed because I have use for you. If I die because they find out there is a spy then the only one who knows about Colby being a spy would have been himself. There should be enough evidence to exonerate him but if there isn’t I have documented everything. I am going to give you a string of numbers. Memorize them. If you must write it down only do so when you leave and make sure that it is in something locked. Have the key to that in one safety deposit box but take out two and have a fake key in the other. Do not tell Colby, while I trust he isn’t a spy it is safer for him to not know. Only figure out what the numbers mean after. Are you ready for the numbers?” Kirkland asked. Charlie nodded.

“2-5-0-0-9-1-1-0-7-3-5-2. Before that you need the number 53. Fifty-three will give you what you need.”

Charlie nodded again when he was sure he had it.

“Good luck, Dr. Eppes.”

Charlie knew that the conversation was over and left the room, walking quickly to Room 24. He quickly opened and closed the door, locking it behind him. He turned to the room and blinked in confusion as he watched Colby make a bed on top of the bed that was there.

“Um, Colby?” he asked.

“Yes?” Colby questioned, not looking up from tucking the edges in.

“What are you doing?”

Colby looked up and saw that he was talking about redoing the bed. “The first time I stayed in one of these holes I pulled down the bed and found the sheets and blankets stained with I don’t want to know what. When I left the following day, I went shopping for everything needed to put over that because I ended up sleeping in the hard chair that night because I wasn’t getting into that bed.”

Charlie nodded, not even needing to question it because he didn’t need to do the math to figure out how many crimes are committed in these types of places.

Charlie leaned against the door.

“You ok?” Colby asked.

“I’m not used to a problem I can’t solve with math.” Charlie answered.

“P vs NP.”

“I mean a human problem.” he explained.

Colby nodded. “I figured but I had to point that out. I’m sorry I felt I had to tell you.”

Charlie shook his head. “I’m glad you are going to have someone on your side. We both know Don and David aren’t going to take it well. Do you want me to tell them if things go south?”

Colby winced but shook his head. “Only if it becomes necessary I am afraid if they know they will do something unusual and bring the mission down.”

Charlie nodded, easily being able to see that. “So what now?” Charlie asked

“Now we wait to see what happens when and what I have to do in between that.”

“I meant tonight?” Charlie clarified.

“Oh. Now we change into our pajamas and go to sleep so we can get up early so you aren’t late for your class. You can have the bathroom first.”

Charlie rummaged through his bag for his pajamas and toothbrush. “Amita is covering my first class so that we can sleep in. Don was told by dad that you were driving me because he needed the car,” he told Colby, walking into the bathroom and shutting the door most of the way, but leaving it open a crack so he could hear Colby’s answer.

“Did Don actually believe that?” Colby wondered aloud.

“If he didn’t he didn’t say anything,” Charlie answered coming out of the bathroom in pajama pants and shirt. “I think it is one of those things of if he had suspicions he decided he would rather be oblivious,” he continued as Colby went in.

“I can see that with Don,” Colby answered as Charlie laid on one side of the bed.

They fell into silence as Colby finished in the bathroom and came back out in sweats and T-Shirt. He laid on his side of the bed, not dragging Charlie to him as normal.

They laid in silence for several moments before Charlie decided to take matters into his own hands, unhappy with the situation. He somehow knew that Colby was avoiding it in case he wanted space. Charlie rolled into Colby, and Colby’s arm automatically pulled him against him.

“If you wake me up before 8am I am going to smother you with the pillow,” Charlie mumbled into his chest.

Colby chuckled. “Yes, Sir.”

Chapter Text

Colby was dropping Charlie off to his office after the late-night meeting with his handler. Colby glanced around before he left to make sure they were alone and saw that they did close the door. He grabbed Charlie as he headed for the chalk board and grabbed him by the shirt to give him a quick goodbye kiss.

“Hey Charlie. Your Class -- Sorry!” Amita’s voice sprang from the door.

He didn’t think of the fact that this was Charlie and Charlie didn’t do anything quick as they both jumped back and looked at Amita.

“How long has this been going on?”

Colby answered since Charlie was appearing tongue tied to him. “Almost three month.”

Amita’s eyes widened. “How’d you keep it secret so long?”

Colby shrugged, not wanting to admit to the details that went into making each date. “But we’re hoping to keep it quiet for a bit longer.”

“Well then you might want to avoid making out in Charlie’s office.” Amita suggested. “Should I go back outside?” she asked pointing behind her.

“Nah,” Colby said. “Actually there is something I wanted to talk to you both about.” He looked to Charlie. “Sorry for not mentioning it before,” he said sitting on a corner of Charlie’s desk. Charlie sat behind his desk and Amita closed the office door and locked it before sitting in the remaining chair.

“Smart,” Colby told her.

“What you should have done if you wanted to make out in the office and have no one walk in.” Amita mentioned.

“Ouch,” Colby groaned sarcastically.

“So what did you want to mention?” Charlie asked, trying to change the topic.

“Hear me out before saying anything and I know I am asking a lot but think about it at least.” He waited until they both nodded before continuing. “There are reasons that it is safer for Charlie if no one knows we are dating. You both have tried dating in the past and remained great friends. Amita, I know you said your parents are often looking to match you up with a decent guy. So what about you and Charlie fake dating… you know date night once a week in public. At least until you find someone you are interested in Amita. I don’t intend to make you not date if you find someone you like, and if you are interested you can always say you and Charlie are fake dating to keep fan girls off his back since he has gotten a few love notes and if the guy is really cool he will let you keep it up or me and Charlie can think of something else to make him look on the market.”

“I don’t think I like being talked about like a piece of meat.” Charlie told Colby.

“You are a hot one,” Amita told him.

Charlie rolled his eyes. “What do you think Amita? It affects you the most.” Charlie didn't want to agree, but he knew that it would be safer for him to which is the only reason he was actually considering it and not outright rejecting the idea.

“I do like the idea of keeping my parents from trying to set me up with people. How about we try it on a trial basis. If we find it isn’t working in say a month we reevaluate. Charlie?”

“That seems a reasonable plan,” he concluded.

“Great,” Colby answered. “I guess I should get home since Don gave me the day off.” He said not moving from the desk.

They were all staring at each other until Amita rolled her eyes. “You realize I already know right?” Colby nodded. “So just kiss him goodbye already and leave so we can get to work.”

“Careful there Charlie, you got yourself a bossy one there,” Colby answered, leaning over for a quick peck on the cheek. “I’ll see you later?” he asked.

“Why don’t you come for dinner tonight,” Charlie suggested. “Dad knows, and I am sure Don missed you today.”

Colby nodded, getting up off the desk. “See you then,” he waved at both leaving, leaving the door open.

Chapter Text

“For the love of God! Put on some damn pants!” A shout came from the doorway followed by a thump as a body lands on the floor.

Charlie sat up in bed and saw his brother standing in the doorway with his hands covering his eyes. He also saw the blankets at the end of the bed that they must have kicked off.

He looked over the side of the bed and saw Colby sitting there stunned, naked. Charlie wanted to laugh but he figured that wouldn’t go over well. Instead he pulled up one blanket and tossed the other to the floor so that it was strategically covering Colby.

“You can open your eyes now,” Charlie told his brother. Don peaked through two of his fingers as if he wasn’t sure if he should believe Charlie. “We have a case,” he said from behind his hands.

“Give us a bit to shower and dress and we’ll meet you downstairs,” Charlie told him calmly and watched as his brother fled.

He looked over the side of the bed at Colby who was in the same position as when he tossed the blanket down to him. “Do I need to tell Don that you are taking the day off and not getting off the floor.”

“How are you so calm about this! What if he tells everyone!” Colby was on the verge of panicking.

Charlie shrugged. “When we were in high school I must have walked in on him 15 times. And he was doing far more than just sleeping. I have a couple embarrassing stories of that too so unless he wants those spreading through the office he will keep his mouth shut. I also know where dad keeps the baby picture of him with a shirt that says ‘Down with the man’ and without a diaper so unless he wants that in his FBI file…”

Finally Colby laughed climbing off of the floor. “Want the shower first?”

Charlie rolled his eyes. “Don’t want to be alone with Don.”

Colby shrugged. “He is my boss and the older brother. I don’t really want to know which is worse.”

Charlie sighed. “Fine. I’ll be quick and the quicker you are the happier he’ll be to get to the crime scene.”

Once showered, Charlie went to the kitchen to make coffee as he heard Colby enter the bathroom. He began making coffee and turned around to stare at his brother sitting at the table with his head laying on it.

“You know we want to keep this quiet please.” Charlie said to break the silence.

Don lifted his head with a glare. “I want to wash my eyes out with soap. I never wanted to see that much of Colby… or you I should say. Now I know why dad said to knock.”

Charlie’s eyebrows rose. “He told you to knock and you didn’t listen?”

“I didn’t think that it was really necessary!” Don defended.

Charlie shook his head as he turned back to the pot. Colby came into the room and stared at Don trying to figure out if he was safe. His view was eventually blocked – barely – by Charlie standing him in front of him holding two travel mugs of coffee.

Colby took one and took a long sip, burning his tongue. He stuck it out looking for cool air to help his tongue.

Charlie laughed. “One of these days you are going to learn that yes coffee that is hot does burn your tongue.”

Don interrupted Colby from answering. “Can we now get to the crime scene without you making me want to hurl please.”

Charlie shrugged. “Just remember say anything and I have blackmail from—”

Don interrupted, “Yeah, yeah, you have many details. Don’t worry I don’t want to know so Colby, hurt him and I will beat the shit out of you but that is all I am saying and I am going to pretend this never happened. Got it.” Don grabbed his keys and walked out the door.

Charlie began to follow him but was pulled back by Colby who gave him a quick kiss. “Morning,” he told him dryly.

“Let’s go you two!” Don shouted from outside, like he knew they were delayed.

“Morning,” Charlie answered quick before they hurried after Don.

Chapter Text

Charlie’s mind froze as the bomber set off a bomb after yelling to trust the Janus List. His mind was strangely silent and if it was any other day he might appreciate the silence of the numbers.

He returned to the office talking to his brother. If Don noticed his preoccupation he didn’t say anything, then again with Don’s nose buried so far into a new case he probably didn’t notice.

Reaching the office, he saw Colby head into the men’s bathroom and told Don that he would meet him in the War Room.

Don nodded and continued. When Charlie was sure that Don wasn’t going to turn around he quickly went into the bathroom and saw Colby splashing cold water on his face.

Charlie wedged a pen under the door in just the right angle that he knew the door wouldn’t open and he must have made noise because Colby turned with a wild look in his eyes.

“Are you ok?” Charlie asked.

Colby took a deep breath. “We knew this had to be coming when Dwayne came up again, but I’m still not ready for this.” Colby answered moving over to pull him into a hug.

“We’ll deal with everything as it comes.” Charlie told him.

“Thank you,” Colby told him.

“You’re welcome,” Charlie answered. “Though I don’t know what for.”

Colby laughed, but answered. “For putting up with all this shit.” He then paused, as if he wanted to say something but decided not to. “We better get back out there.”

Charlie nodded and retrieved his pen making Colby laugh again. “You will have to teach me that trick later.”

“Consider it a date,” Charlie answers.

“Nah, dates are a lot more fun,” Colby answered opening the door.

“Go on. I’ll catch up,” Charlie told him. Colby nodded and left.

Charlie took a deep breath, knowing he had to act normally, and left the bathroom.

He didn’t know how he made it through the case, but somehow he did, though he could barely tell you what he did.

Charlie found himself waiting for Don to come out of the interrogation room. When Don did, with a weary look on his face, Charlie followed him without thinking about it.

When they were alone Charlie couldn’t help but speak. “Can I talk to him?” Don turned around from the table he was facing and leaned back against it. Don must have seen some of the need that he felt because he hung his head and sighed.

“Yeah all right. But I should come in with you,” Don told him, standing straight.

Charlie shook his head. “Alone? Privately?” he begged his brother. They both knew he was asking for the camera to be off too.

Don sighed. “Five minutes. That’s all I can give you.”

“Thank you,” Charlie told his brother, almost sagging in relief.

He was brought to the interrogation room.

“Five minutes,” Don reminded him.

Charlie walked in and sat across from Colby. Colby opened his mouth to say something but Charlie cut him off.

“I only have five minutes privately. Let me talk.” Colby’s mouth snapped shut. “Kirkland and I have made a plan for this. He didn’t want to admit that something could go wrong with the plan but I know the statistics. He wouldn’t hear it but I have another four contingency plans in place. You are going to be fine. Keep your head up and remember you have us and we will get you through this.” Charlie told him, touching his hand lightly, before getting up, not wanting to cut it close to his time limit.

“Charlie,” Colby called, voice cracking. Charlie turned around to look at him. “I love you,” he finally told him.

“I love you too,” Charlie told him. “We will get through this and I will be here on the other side.” Charlie told him to make sure he understood and left the interrogation room, closing the door.

He walked into the observation room as Don turned back on the camera.

“Thank you,” Charlie told him.

“You’re welcome,” Don answered, looking like he didn’t know what to do for his brother with the secret he had. “I’m sorry,” Don finally settled on.

“Me too,” Charlie answered, though only he knew that he was talking about something different.

Chapter Text

Charlie is with Don in his kitchen when the call comes to Don that Colby has escaped. He knows he shouldn’t be relieved since many things can still go wrong but he is. He knew that the breakout would be coming but even he didn’t know when.

It didn’t take Charlie long to realize that something went wrong. He should have heard something from Kirkland after he had eyes on Colby so that he knew things were going to plan.

His suspicion was only confirmed when his phone rang and the display showed that it was an unknown caller.

“Hello,” Charlie answered.

“It’s Colby,” the familiar voice came from the other end of the line.

“Are you ok?” Charlie asked. Charlie saw Amita and Larry looking at him. They clearly wanted to ask questions. He shook his head in a not right now gesture.

“For now, look I don’t have a lot of time before Dwayne comes looking for me, so listen please. I texted Kirkland and he isn’t answering. Something is wrong. Dwayne wants to head for China by boat and there is no way I can argue against it.”

Charlie nodded, then realized Colby couldn’t see him. “Do I need to tell the team?”

“Yeah, I think we have to play assuming I’ve been compromised.” Colby answered

“Ok. Be careful.” Charlie told him and then the line went dead. Charlie closed his phone and took a deep breath, closing his eyes for a moment.

“What’s going on, Charles?” Larry asked him.

Charlie looked at the two of them and saw that Amita looked like she figured it out, but Larry looked confused. “Let me get everyone and I’ll explain,” he told them.

Charlie walked to the door and poked his head out. “Guys,” he called and waited for Megan, Don, and David to look at him. “We need to talk.” They followed him into the room as Charlie hopped up to sit on a desk. He looked at them all, having no idea where he should start. Math was his thing, not this… whatever this was going to turn into.

“What’s going on Chuck? Do you have something for us?” Don asked.

Charlie chewed on his bottom lip. “Not with this,” he said waving his arm at the board behind him, “but yeah. It’s complicated so please don’t interrupt.” Charlie waited for them all to nod before he continued.

“Colby just called and the breakout didn’t happen as planned. When Carter came to him wanting information he shouldn’t have, Colby reported it, but Colby was contacted by a Michael Kirkland. Kirkland wanted to use Colby to spy for the Chinese, while really spying on them so they could weed out a mole in the DoJ. Kirkland became his handler and he isn’t answering his cell now, so we need to work on the assumption that Colby has been found out. Dwayne will be shooting for them to get to China.”

“How do you know, Charlie?” Don asked him.

“Colby told me after we started dating,” he answered. Before he could continue, David interrupted.

“No offence Charlie, but you are our math guy. How do you know Colby was telling you the truth?”

“Because I met Kirkland and he gave me info on where to find all of the documentation of his meetings with Colby for a situation like this,” he told David.

“How do you know that they aren’t pulling your leg?” David demanded.

Charlie rolled his eyes. “Because Colby could have tried to pull me into this and didn’t,” he told him, getting frustrated. “Are you going to help me save Colby’s life or not?” he demanded.

“Charlie why didn’t you give us time to track his phone?” Megan asked.

“Because I am the one who programed it. It would have actually been actually bouncing from satellite to satellite with WiFi’s in between instead of just appearing that way. It wouldn’t have locked in long enough to get a trace.”

“Ok, Chuck. So who is the mole?” Don asked.

Charlie shook his head. “We’ve been working on it and we have narrowed it down using math to about 30 people, but there just isn’t enough data to know who.”

“Can you get the information here that Kirkland gave you if something happened?” Don asked.

Charlie shook his head again. “I have the code for it, but only I can pick the info up and I need to decipher the code. It is safer where it is right now if Colby was found out. I can at least bring the code here. It is in a locked box in my office.”

“Do so,” Don told him. “Amita, can you try to finish his calculations here, while we try to find this Kirkland. Larry if you wouldn’t mind, could you start figuring out what is supposed to be leaving from here to China in the next few hours.”

Amita and Larry nodded before turning to computers.

Don left the room, followed by David and Megan. Charlie came out after them. “Hold on Don,” he said walking over to a desk and pulling a cellphone that wasn’t familiar to Don out of his pocket. He sat down and opened the back, putting a chip in it. He turned the phone on. Don stayed silent while he worked which Charlie appreciated. Charlie brought up an app and a blinking dot appeared on the phone.

“What?” Don asked, as Charlie gave him the phone.

“I insisted that they both have a tracking device kept in their shoe. They can only be used when we are sure that they are compromised since it beeps when it turns on, but it’s hidden well in the sole so it wouldn’t be found. Right now we know they know about Kirkland, but we can’t know if he gave Colby up.”

“Thanks, Charlie. We will check on him,” Don said taking the phone and leaving with David and Megan. Charlie left for CalSci.

Numb3rs

Don got back to the office with Megan and David and saw Amita and Larry still working on the computers.

“Charlie’s not back?” he asked them walking back into the room. Amita looked up and realized how much time had passed. “No and he should be,” she said worried.

“Shit,” Don cursed, knowing instinctively that something was wrong. “David!” he yelled. David popped his head up from it being over the computer filing a report. “Run a trace on Charlie’s cell.”

“You think Charlie could be in trouble?” Amita asked, concerned.

Don nodded. “We found Kirkland dead and it didn’t seem like he answered anything.” Don didn’t tell her it looked like he died too quickly.

“Don, I have a location,” David yelled, ripping a page off a memo so he could take the address.

“Good, let’s go.” Don said coming out of the room. The three agents left again.

Numb3rs

They arrived at an abandoned building a few blocks away from the college. They had found Charlie’s car already, run off a road and in a ditch. Don knew that his gut was right and Charlie was in trouble. They continued on, barely even pausing other than to tell the cops that it was part of their case and to send it to evidence.

There was complete silence when they got to the building. There were no cars in sight, but they carefully entered the building on silent feet with guns raised just in case someone was in the building.

The first thing that Don saw when he entered the room was Charlie tied to a chair with his head slumped toward his chest. His back was toward them so he couldn’t tell if he was alive. Don had to control himself from not rushing to Charlie while Megan and David cleared the location.

Once he got the all clear he rushed to Charlie and saw blood on his forehead, going down the side of his face. He quickly pressed his fingers to his throat and found a pulse that was slow and weak but steady, but he was more relieved by the groan that came from Charlie’s throat and his eyes cracking open a bit.

“Don,” Charlie croaked.

“Yeah easy, buddy.”

“Don, ambulance is on the way. We should deal with that,” David mentioned glancing to his right from behind Charlie. He didn’t want to say anything in case Charlie was in shock.

Don looked over and saw the concrete slab crushing Charlie’s right arm and blanched but tried to hid it. He was so focused on Charlie’s face he didn’t even notice. “Right.” Don said as David moved to the table that both was on. ”Hey buddy, just look at me. Don said, tapping Charlie’s face lightly as he had problems focusing. “I am just going to cut you loose.” He told him, taking the pocket knife from Megan. “It might hurt a bit depending on how tight they made the zip tie.” Don told him hoping that cutting him out would distract him from David moving.

“Mason Lancer,” Charlie croaked after a gasp as Don cut his arm loose and David freed his arm.

Don saw David wrapping his arm in his suit jacket and didn’t know if he should be relieved or worried with not seeing the damage. “What buddy?” Don asked unsure as to what he was saying.

“Mole,” he said with a shiver and Don knew that he was going into shock. Don realized then what he was saying.

“Right, buddy. We’ll take care of it and Colby. I need to get you out of this chair and onto the floor so we can try covering you with our jackets to warm you up.” He carefully moved Charlie’s right arm onto his body and heard his brother groan with pain. He felt guilty, but he knew that they had to keep him warm. He lifted him gently and Megan quickly moved the chair and knelt on the floor so that Charlie’s head was supported. Don nodded in thanks as he laid Charlie down. Megan put her own jacket over Charlie’s top half and Don was rising to take off his own, when his arm was grabbed by Charlie’s good arm.

“Freighter leave when Colby gets there. Right pocket,” he croaked and dropped his hand, too weak to hold it up longer.

Don took off his jacket reached into Charlie’s jean’s pocket and found the chip, Don knew that it was to track Colby and that he must be compromised. He laid his jacket over Charlie.

“Stay with Charlie. David and I are going to find Colby,” Don told Megan.

“Need her,” Charlie said trying to sit up, but falling right back as he fought to stay conscious.

“It will take time for them to set up what they need. I can call Larry to meet you at the hospital and meet up with them to save Colby.”

Charlie must have either agreed or just lost the fight to stay conscious because he lost the battle and passed out.

Don looked at Megan. “I don’t care what you told Charlie. Call Larry or not you stay with him. We don’t know if Lancer has extra eyes on looking to see if Charlie gets admitted to the hospital. Are we clear?”

“Yes, Don.” Megan promised him. He nodded and left with David to go save Colby.

Numb3rs

Colby was sure that this was the end for him and that when the team found him they would find his body. He said a mental ‘I’m sorry’ to Charlie for leaving him. Before Lancer could inject him with the shit to end his life all hell broke loose as Carter grabbed a gun and shot Lancer between the eyes. Carter was quickly taken care of by those goons of Lancer's and Colby hated him a bit more for saving his life AGAIN. Was it bad for him to think at least he wasn’t going to have to pay him back this time? Then again it wasn’t like he was going to live long enough to owe Carter since he saw out of the corner of his eye that the goons had their guns rising on him.

Colby heard the guns fire and to his surprise saw David coming into his sight. He breathed a sigh of relief. “I am glad to see you!” Colby said as David cut him loose. Colby rubbed his wrists as he got feeling back to his hands.

“Ambulance is at the dock for us when we get back. Medic is on our boat.” Don told him, hand under Colby’s arm to help him stand.

“Charlie, Kirkland?” Colby asked as he walked with Don out of the room he thought that his life was going to end and onto the ship they used to catch up.

Don looked at him. “Kirkland was killed. Charlie is in the hospital Megan is with him,” Don told him as they got onto the boat that would take them back to land. He pushed him to a seat to make him let the medic look at him.

“Is he ok?” Colby asked, anxiety clearly heard in his voice.

Don looked at his phone and saw that there was no messages. “I don’t know. Megan is supposed to call me but hasn’t yet.”

“Don please,” Colby begged. Don didn’t need to know what Colby was asking for and opened his phone to call Megan.

“Any news on Charlie?” Colby heard Don ask, completely forgetting manners. It was silent and he was obviously listening to her answer. “Thanks Megan. Keep me updated.” Don told her hanging up.

Don looked at Colby. “He’s still in surgery. He’s ok, just there was a lot of damage to his hand that they are trying to fix.” Don told him.

Colby bowed his head. “I’m sorry,” he told Don, wishing it was Charlie he was apologizing too.

Don shook his head. “It would be easy to be mad at you but I am sure you gave Charlie the choice to know or not and he chose to stay with you despite it all.”

Colby wished he could say that Don’s words made him feel better but he just felt worse about dragging Charlie into this.

The boat hit the dock and they climbed out. Don led Colby to the Ambulance and he balked. “I need to get to the hospital and see Charlie!” he protested as Don shoved him toward the ambulance.

“You need to get checked out first and then if they ok it you can see Charlie.” Don scolded him. “I am not having you possibly drop dead on him because you are too pigheaded to get checked out.”

Colby didn’t have time to protest before he found himself on an ambulance being checked out. He barely tolerated them checking him over but managed and was thankful when he was released with an order to take it easy. He mentally snorted. Like hell when he hadn’t seen Charlie.

Colby dragged Don to the SUV. He wasn’t sure where David got to but since he didn’t see him, he was going to concentrate on getting Don to take him to Charlie. “Come on. I am cleared to go. Let’s go to see Charlie.”

Don didn’t see the point in protesting so he got in and drove them to the hospital. On the way Don’s phone rang.

“Eppes,” he answered. He was silent as he waited on the answer. “Thanks Megan. We will be there soon,” he said hanging up.

“How’s Charlie?” Colby asked.

“He’s out of surgery at least. They won’t tell her more since she isn’t family.” Don answered.

They rode in silence the rest of the way to the hospital.

When they got to the hospital, Don didn’t need to ask anything since Larry was waiting in the waiting area for them. Don, followed closely by Colby, walked up to him.

“Come on,” he told them. “Megan is still with Charles.” Larry led them down a corridor and into a room.

Megan was sitting in a chair by Charlie’s bed, but Colby only had eyes for Charlie. He was lying pale in the bed with bandages on his forehead. His right arm was lying on his chest in a cast that went from the tips of his fingers to above his elbow and kept his arm bent.

Colby dropped onto the chair next to him and didn’t take his eyes off Charlie’s face until he heard a throat clear. Colby looked up to see Don in the room with a doctor with him. The doctor was staring at him, and Colby knew that he was waiting for him to leave before updating Don.

Before he could move, or more likely plead his case to stay, Don saved him by speaking. “He can stay, my brother has been seeing him.”

“Mr. Eppes—” the doctor started to say before he was interrupted by Don and Colby.

“Doctor,” they corrected at the same time, and glanced at each other with slight grins, knowing that while Charlie might not have said anything, he deserves the respect.

“Doctor Eppes,” the doctor clarified. “sustained a gash in his head that needed to be stitched and a slight concussion. Both his bones in his arm, the Radius and Ulna, were broken in multiple spots and the Ulna brake broke through skin. We set both breaks using pins and those bones should heal well, though he may have trouble in airport security.” The doctor slightly laughed at his joke before continuing, when the agents didn’t laugh. “Of more concern is his hand. Every bone was broken. We were able to reconstruct everything, but I fear that dexterity is going to be of concern. Do you have any questions?”

“What does dexterity being a concern mean for him? He is a mathematician so he relies on being able to write?” Colby asked, not realizing when he took Charlie’s left hand in his for comfort, but it didn’t escape Don’s notice.

“For the first few months at least it is doubtful he will be able to hold a pen or anything. After that he should be able to hold a pen though I can’t promise more than that. It’s possible that he’ll be fine, but it’s also possible that holding anything too long or too tight will cause him pain. It depends on how everything heals. We will give him some exercises to do for after the cast comes off to get decent dexterity back, but I am afraid that is all we’ve got.”

“Thank you. Dr.,--” Don cut himself off when he realized that he didn’t know his name.

The doctor laughed. “Yes it would help to know my name wouldn’t it. Dr. Williams. If you need me for anything, have my nurse page me otherwise I will check back in the morning.” Dr. Williams left the room.

Colby looked from Charlie to Don. “I know that I don’t have the right to ask this, but assuming you let me stay on the team, can I get some time off?”

Don looked critically at Colby. “Why?”

“I have a friend in Idaho that dabbles in mechanics that will help people with injuries. I know the engineering students at CalSci should be able to figure out something to allow Charlie to still write but this guy has been playing with this sort of thing since high school and has even done similar projects before. While he is now a car mechanic, he still dabbles in that sort of thing and he is good at what he does. Charlie doesn’t deserve to be punished for what I had to do.” Colby looked directly at Don, no matter how much he wanted to look at Charlie.

“It was my choice,” Charlie spoke from the bed, causing two sets of eyes to look at him.

“Hey buddy, how are you feeling?” Don asked.

Charlie turned to look at him with an expression that clearly read ‘like I’ve been tortured’ but didn’t say it so that he didn’t make Colby feel guilty. “Cranky. I can’t think math,” he said instead.

Don snorted. “Yeah, guess they have you on the good stuff. Colby, you can, but you need to clear the air with the team first. I would prefer no secrets at this point but since that would include your relationship and that is between you both, I can’t demand it.”

Colby nodded. “As soon as Charlie is released. I am not leaving him alone and we will decide by then how much they are told about us too.”

Don nodded satisfied. “Chuck, I got to go tell dad you are in the hospital but I should be able to hold him off until morning.”

Charlie groaned at the idea of his dad being over protective. “Do you have to?” he whined.

Don chuckled. “I think you know the answer to that.” Charlie nodded gloomily.

Don turned to leave the room. “Oh and Chuck. Never wear a pair of skinny jeans if you think you may need me to take something out of your pocket again. That is way too close to certain body parts of yours.” He shuddered as he left the room to Colby’s laughter and Charlie’s mortified look.

Colby looked at Charlie. “Don’t listen to Don. I for one like how those jeans hug your ass.”

Charlie wondered if it was bad form to hit them both with his cast.