Red sky in the Morning…

Summary:…is a warning. With over a thousand possible victims and even less of a chance of catching the culprits, can Agent Don Eppes solve the mystery of his brother's abduction… or will the collaboration with the CBI tear his thinning patience apart?

Disclaimer: This is a Fan-fiction cross over story of the T.V Series; 'The Mentalist' & 'Numb3rs', and is in no way affiliated with the actual series'. All Characters and other materials related to the shows that are used, are not intended to infringe on any Copyrights. Elemental-Zer0 takes sole responsibility for any mistakes or offence that may be taken but truly not meant.

However, this story plot and all Characters not affiliated with the shows are Copyright © 2011 to Elemental-Zer0.

Authors Note/Warnings: Thanks to those who have reviewed so far, it's really insightful to see how different the responses are to a story of this type being posted after so many other "Charlie-kidnap" stories. (They should totally make that a Numb3rs' genre lol). I know there are a lot of them out there but from what I've read… I dunno how I feel yet.

So far I'm not really impressed but I've only found three worth reading… and even then I've skipped chapters because I got bored reading them. I won't disclose titles or authors names because that would just be rude and mean. Don't get me wrong, I think the stories I read were very well written and planned and the authors defiantly feel the vibe and plot… I just don't feel it myself. Must not be my cup of tea or something.

Anyways, this story is for those of you who also feel a little bored or unimpressed with what you've found so far. I can't guarantee my story will 'WOW' you or anything but I'll try… hopefully it has a taste of something exotic enough to satiate yours and my appetite.

Let me know if I'm on the right track eh? Also, if you have any criticism to make I'd greatly appreciate the feedback and suggestions/corrections, but please do it politely. Otherwise I shall ignore your words. (It's happened before, I'm sorry to say, and I hadn't even posted any chapters…)

That said… read ahead. x

Chapter One: The Connection…

Don sighed.

The rhythmic beeping of his brother's heart monitor was an annoying comfort in the otherwise quiet ward. His father's soft snoring from the chair across the bed was more comforting, as was the light breathing and light sighs of his soon-to-be-sister-in-law from the bed behind him. It was late; too late for visiting hours but being a Special Agent in Command at the FBI had its advantages. That and the idea that Charlie might still be a target for whoever had hired the kidnappers that'd taken him in the first instance, was another reason why Don had glued himself to his brother's side. Almost literally.

Hard brown eyes kept rigid vigil over the pale, worn features of the younger man as he slept without pause into his twenty third hour. Charlie hadn't stirred once since he'd exhausted the last of his reserves in Don's arms back at the crime scene, and if it hadn't been for the constant reassurances from the nurses, Don would have thought his brother might have slipped into a coma, never to wake again. The Doctor's words ran through his head again; 'sleep deprivation', 'signs of starvation', 'physical abuse'…

Don shifted, closed his eyes and sighed again; a long mournful and weary sigh that cast a self blaming shadow of guilt and regret over himself. The fear, frustration, the helplessness that had encompassed him so utterly while Charlie had been un-locatable had terrifying memories resurfacing unbidden. It'd been a horrific few days for all parties concerned, least of all for Don.

He opened his eyes again and turned his head to the bed behind him, only just able to see a small pair of feet sticking out of the thin sheet from his vantage point. Amita had been beside herself with worry. She worked herself to the bone doing what Charlie had done so many times when a victim had been kidnapped in other cases. She hardly ate or slept and the only time she left her laptop or the boardroom that Charlie so often hijacked was to relieve herself or if she was being forced to lay down on the sofa in the coffee room, usually by him or David. Don still remembered with vivid clarity how her face had suddenly turned an unhealthy shade of white and how her legs wobbled even before he'd finished explaining what had happened to her fiancé. The entourage of FBI jackets, police cars and yellow tape outside the Craftsman and the severe lack of Charlie's presence was all she needed to put x and y together. If Larry hadn't been there to hold her up, Don was sure she'd have found herself in the mud on his brother's lawn.

Larry himself had been a wreck too. His constant pacing and fidgeting and the quiet murmurs that made no coherent sense to anyone other than an advanced mathematician or cosmologist had almost driven everyone else insane. But it was Larry's way of dealing with the stress and ultimately it had been Larry who'd discovered the location of where Charlie was most likely to be held.

Don's team had also felt the loss of their most valued member.

David Sinclair took the role of level headed thinker and kept Don's feet and state of mind on the ground. But Don could tell it was only skin deep. Inside David was seething and worried beyond a measure that even he hadn't thought he was capable of.

Nikki, the streetwise, smart-mouthed opinionated woman had suddenly found herself shaking in anger and saying very little when the case was discussed. Liz could hide it from the best of them but not Don. He'd seen how she'd almost broken down and lost hope after the first twenty-four hours had passed without even the slightest hint of a ransom request or attempt of contact.

And Colby… Don always knew Colby saw Charlie as the younger brother he never had. He also knew that Colby felt strongly about any case they worked on. He never showed it, but his emotions would sometimes shine through on a particularly hard case. So it was no wonder that when Charlie was suddenly the centre of the case that was on his desk, Colby had flown off the rail just like he had when Don had been stabbed by the fifth man in the home invasion case a few months back. The Ex-CID Officer had around $300 of repair bills taken from his wage slip but if it hadn't been a ceramic sink or a wooden cubicle door that had received the wrong end of his ire, it could have been something far more irreplaceable. His temper and self blame were probably on a longer fuse than Don's but not by much.

It'd hit everyone pretty hard, and they'd reacted just the same as when Megan had been kidnapped. Charlie had somehow become one of them; a friend who had their backs from the sidelines. The sudden loss of their sweet, slightly naïve and yet unpredictably excitable but slightly eccentric professor had hit them hard. In a way Don was glad he'd seen that side of his team in response to Charlie being in danger. It gave him a sense of comfort knowing he had a group of highly capable people that he could trust, looking out for his family.

His father was another story however. Alan had nearly had a heart attack when Don broke the news to him. For the first two days, he hadn't spoken; just closed his eyes and tried to wake up from the nightmare. Don never wanted to put his father through that again. He cursed himself for not seeing the eventual attack sooner.

He'd always suspected that it'd happen one day, either because of his brother's smarts or because of Don's occupation and choice of career. Agent Don Eppes of the FBI had put a lot of people behind bars; a lot of bad people who had contacts he couldn't touch without incriminating evidence. And stacks of it too. It was why he'd been loath to let his brother get involved as deeply as he had to start with. But the benefits began to outweigh the risks as Don became aware of what Charlie's math and brilliant mind could do for the break in especially tough cases. That and the safety net his brother provided his team when they were out on the field, shadowed his view of the danger the younger man faced because of his work.

The lack of threats as time moved forward lulled them into a false sense of security on the matter and although he'd expected his brother to wind up being a target, Don had thought he'd be able to see it coming. Instead, he hadn't been prepared and thus couldn't prevent or intercept his brother's attack regardless of the means, motives or current suspects… or lack thereof in this case.

Don gave a tired yawn and shifted a little in the chair, his tired eyes never leaving the pallid face resting on the stark white pillows of the hospital gurney. Charlie's kidnapping hadn't been personal though. In fact he was the 83rd recorded kidnap victim in an ongoing case that had the FBI collaborating with the CBI for just under two months now due to a few jurisdictional technicalities. He didn't mind the collaboration; the lead agent in charge of the case was a good friend of his; Special Agent Theresa Lisbon. They'd respected each other at Quantico for a few years before she moved to California and they lost contact. Apparently the case had been CBI's for around two years now but the sudden emergence of victims coming forward from all over the USA had turned it into an FBI case too. The CBI had dubbed it the Veritas Case on account of Theresa's consultant's theory, someone called Patrick Jane who'd also had a similar experience of being kidnapped and branded. Which subsequently lead to the case being reopened after three years of being cold.

Don just couldn't fathom the idea of branding a person after having kidnapped them. It was like these people were treating their victims like animals, ready to track them for further analysis. His gut twisted in a strange cocktail of anger, frustration and a deep rooted fear that hadn't left him since his brother had first been reported missing. He closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep calming breath. Charlie was safe now. That's all that matters.

And Don would sooner cut off his own head than let his brother step foot anywhere outside that 'safe zone' again.

Wild horses be damned, he'd be leading the freaking herd.

A/N: I know… not much action but this is just the first chapter, and I do have to finish RMR before going into any details here… Sorry guys. You'll just have to be patient a little longer.