Disclaimer: I own neither the characters nor anything else of Numb3rs. It's a pity, but I can't change anything about it except for dreaming and writing my little stories.
Timeline: between seasons 4 and 5
Annotation: I wrote this story before I knew much about how things were going on in season 5, so there are some mistakes or changing concerning the consequences of Charlie's e-mail to Pakistan in 4-18 "When Worlds Collide". I think they'll get clear in the first chapter and I hope they aren't too annoying in the on-going of the story.
And thanks a lot to Starfishyeti who corrected/is still correcting this rather long story, makes it understandable and even shows and helps me with some logic errors! You're great!
1 – CHAPTER ONE – 1^1 / x^0
Exhausted, Don Eppes leaned back in his office chair, running his hands over his face. They simply weren't getting anywhere! For one month, one whole month, they'd been unable to catch the murderer of one of their agents. Every single one of their tracks ran off into sand. They had come to a stop. And Charlie, who would have been able to help them, wasn't available either.
After the unpleasant incidents with Charlie's colleague Sanjrani, Charlie had lost both his jobs in one go: he wasn't allowed to teach at CalSci (at least not as long as the disciplinary investigation was going on) and neither consult for the FBI as a mathematician (at least not as long as the decision from 'above' wasn't there, and such bureaucratic decisions tended to take a while). Don could imagine how hard it had to be on his brother and he'd tried to talk to him about it, but Charlie had wriggled out of it every time. Actually, Don couldn't think of a single conversation between them after this thing that had contained more than three sentences.
However, Charlie wasn't what one would call unqualified. Don was quite sure he had become independent recently; a self-employed mathematician that apparently didn't mean anything else other than accepting offers of casual work. But at least, casual work wasn't paid badly if you could exhibit a doctoral level, a professor's title and a remarkable mathematical career. Don had followed Charlie's current job career only marginally, though he didn't know anything specific. At the moment, he was a mathematical counselor in a law firm, as far as Don knew. In any case, no longer at the FBI; that was what mattered.
In the Bureau, it was quieter than usual. The hectic hustle was missing. They needed a lead, the quicker the better. Hell, something had to happen! They just couldn't quit this case! That hadn't happened to Don and his team for an eternity! And then with such a case!
One of their agents, a man called Alex Norvtcharov, had been working undercover in the Russian Mafia and had turned up dead. Apparently, they had debunked him, but not before he had been able to give them a lot of names. They even knew who the presumed perpetrator was: Dimitrij Kalinkov, a big shot in the organization. They had no proof, though, so that didn't help them either. The mob's members all gave each other alibis and they couldn't prove anybody anything. With Norvtcharov dead there was nobody who could or would testify against them.
Don was desperate. They'd even had their hands once on Kalinkov! They had questioned him! But nothing; they'd been unable to get anything out of him. And it wasn't for lack of trying.
An icy shudder ran down Don's back. With Kalinkov, all of them – especially himself! – had gone very far, too far. He had applied tactics that normally he wouldn't even have thought of. No torture, no, at least not really. However, he had to acknowledge it, if only to himself, that he hadn't been far from stepping over the line. Don could be happy that Kalinkov hadn't pressed charges against him. But it was just so depressing to know who had killed their colleague and to be unable to do anything.
And Norvtcharov had even given them a clue! He'd wanted to tell them what the mob was planning! It was something big and Norvtcharov had known what it was.
However, he had been killed before giving them any details.
And then, there was his wife, Kelly Norvtcharov. Don understood her pain, sure. Her husband had been killed in a nearly closed undercover-engagement because the FBI hadn't been able to protect him. Of course she was filled with grief and anger. But did that give her the right to pervert their investigations?
She had called in a lawyer. One of those sons of a bitch who apparently took only those cases with which they were able to outtalk the authorities. One of those sharks who were eager for big bucks. If at the same time, you could make a name for yourself by punishing the bad boys from the FBI, the CIA and NSA who were invalidating human rights without remorse, all for the better. Don's gall was bubbling up thinking of the lawyer and his client. He was already looking forward to the conference that was scheduled for this afternoon with approximately as much pleasure as if he was going for appendix surgery. They would again waste valuable hours listening to the lawyer's accusations and defamations. Of course, the FBI had committed mistakes in the past, and the CIA and NSA and whoever was continuing this tradition even now; he couldn't, and wouldn't, deny that. However, he hadn't been in on then, and he wasn't to blame for the machinations of other agencies. And all that mattered for him right now was to put the mob behind bars and find justice for his colleague. Why couldn't the two of them get that? He just didn't want innocent people to be in any further danger!
Don remembered again what had happened the last time when he had had to cope with the Russian Mafia. The mobsters had been chasing behind bank's data and had started to menace his family… it hadn't come so far with this case, thank God. And all of a sudden Don was quite glad that Charlie wouldn't help them this time.
Don jerked up his head. Megan was standing in the door. At least she would have been in the past. But Megan was gone, too. Don had totally forgotten. Or denied? He felt like his team was losing more and more members with time running by.
The image of her blew out. Instead of her, it was Colby who was now turning Don's attention on his own. Turning his attention in a special way. For Colby didn't look depressed, for the first time in days. He was even grinning. "We have a clue."
Finally! It was as though Don's prayers had been listened to. Relief was significant in his voice asking further questions: "What a clue?"
"The man is called José Sanchez. He's in the US illegally, that means he was. He's been yellow to be deported, so he hadn't reported to us the whole time. But now he's got a fix job and all. Anyway, he'd heard a shot at the time of the offense. Then he had checked up what had happened. He had been watching a guy running away from the crime scene shortly after the shot. The description fits Dimitrij Kalinkov."
At a single blow Don's depression turned into eagerness. "Is he willing to testify that?"
"Well, I suppose he'd prefer not to. He'll be here in a minute, though. However, he insists on a reward and on police protection. And on a security that he'll be allowed to stay in the US."
"He shall have that and as much money as he wants. The main thing is we can finally go on!" Don called relieved.