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24 June 2008 @ 01:34 pm
Numb3rs Fic: Vice - Part 22  


Title: Vice - Part 22
Series/Universe: Vice
Pairing/Characters: See Series post
Rating: NC17
Spoilers: Seasons 1, 2 and 3
Summary: One is in jail and one is free and then there's Charlie (AU)
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ



Friday, 6/29/07 - Night

"So he goes all in, like a fool..."

Charlie's voice trailed off as his bodyguards went from cautious waiting to full response, reaching for their guns as Ian approached.

"Stop right there," one of them warned.

"It's all right," Charlie said, putting out a hand to call them off. "He's a cop. He can't hurt me. Only in his dreams."

"I'm not so sure about that," Ian said with a glib tone. "Sure it doesn't hurt to be missing the big brother you're so lovey dovey with?"

Charlie looked to his bodyguards. "Leave us. We need to talk in private." The two of them stared at Charlie then at each other, hesitating. "Go!" Charlie ordered, waving them away. "I'll call you on my cell when I need you to come back for me."

They slunk away, casting dark glances Ian's way, clearly reluctant to go.

"So, meeting someone special down here?" Ian taunted. "Recruiting fresh whores from the dregs of society?"

"Why, are you applying?" Charlie tossed back, his demeanor calm, but his voice harshly mocking. "If so I'm afraid you don't meet even Tuttle's embarrassingly low standards. But I hear they're recruiting new crack whores in South Central. You could probably get a gig down there. They'll take anyone."

"You son of a bitch," Ian swore. "You're no better than those crack whores! I hear you fuck anything that moves: men, women, farm animals, your brother..." Charlie failed to react to the intended slur, yawning instead.

"It sucks to be so desirable that people throw themselves at you: rich, handsome, educated and a certified genius to boot." Charlie tugged casually at the cuffs of his button up shirt, which stuck out from beneath the edge of his blazer's sleeves. "Oh, wait. It doesn't suck to be me..." He sneered at Ian. "It sucks to be you: a low life wage slave has-been cop who's about to lose his job because he can't remember that he's supposed to follow the same damn laws as the criminals."

"You little cocksucker!" Ian grabbed Charlie, spun him around and slammed him up against the limousine. "You're a fucking cockroach under my boot!" He frisked Charlie roughly and when he tried to pull away slightly from the surface of the car Ian used his body to press him back down against it so he was pinned. "It's you who's over, not me," he growled in Charlie's ear.

Charlie grimaced in revulsion at Ian's body against his back and focused his gaze on his hands in front of him, pale and small against the shiny black paint of the limousine.

+

"I'll be right back."

Gary left Megan and Howard in his office to check in with Darius in the Vice squad room. Just as he arrived a woman approached Darius flashing an FBI ID card.

"Captain Adams?"

"Yes?" Darius read her name off her ID. "What can I do for you, Agent Hall?"

"I'm here about the arrest of Don Eppes this morning," Kim said, putting her ID away. "It's a frame job."

"One of his competitors set him up?" Darius asked.

"No, your detective." Ignoring their confused expressions, she continued explaining. "I've been working with Edgerton in an unofficial capacity investigating Eppes. When I asked him about the arrest a few minutes ago, he admitted to me he'd planted the evidence."

"What?"

Both men looked incredulous.

"I knew Ian was obsessed, but I had no idea he'd gone off the deep end," Gary said, shaking his head.

"So he just up and admitted this to you?" Darius asked, looking at her with suspicion. "A conversation like that isn’t going to hold up well in court. It'll be he said she said."

"No, it won’t." She pulled her purse off her shoulder. "I keep digital recording gear in my purse so I can record conversations with informants. I recorded what Ian said to me." She reached inside the bag and a few seconds later slightly muffled voices could be heard.

Don's not into drugs! And nobody's going to believe someone that smart would just leave some laying around in his limo! You planted those drugs in Don's car, didn't you, Ian?

So what if I did? I only did it to get the scumbag off the street. With him arrested, I can get warrants for all his properties and find the evidence I need to nail him for murder.


"There's a good chance that won't hold up in court either," Darius said stiffly as Kim turned the recorder off.

"Who cares?" Gary cried. "We'll be lucky if we don’t end up in court for false arrest!" He whipped out his cell phone and dialed quickly. "This is Lieutenant Gary Walker. I need you to begin processing the paperwork to release Don Eppes and the two men brought in with him. All charges are being dropped per the approval of Captain Darius Adams." He looked up at Darius who nodded begrudgingly. "He'll be right over to sign the release forms."

"Thank you," Kim said to both of them.

"I'm sorry I have to run," Gary said, starting to step away as he hung up the phone. "I need to tell Eppes' lawyer and hope they won’t alert the media..."

+

Don was escorted from the holding cells into the Organized Crime division conference room by two uniforms with Howard in tow. He embraced Megan warmly, sharing a wordless nod that both of them understood completely before settling down at the table.

As the uniforms left, Gary stepped into the room, shutting the door and closing all the blinds.

"I have something you need to see," he said putting a tape in the TV's VCR. "And you're not going to like it."

As the tape began to play it shorted out from time to time, going to static and then back to a dim black and white image.

"What is it?" Don asked, craning his neck to try to see around Gary who was standing in front of the screen.

"Before I tell you, let me just say that Charlie is fine, he wasn’t harmed..."

"Charlie? What the hell is going on?" Don shouted, rising to his feet as Megan and Howard did the same - shock evident on all their faces. "Where's my brother?"

"He's here at the station now, giving a statement," Gary soothed. "You can see him as soon as he's done."

"What's on the tape?" Megan demanded.

"Well, it looks like Edgerton wasn’t satisfied with just framing you." Gary winced for the inevitable outburst. "He went after your brother as well."

"What!" Don's volume made even Gary flinch. "Tell me what happened! Now!"

Gary stepped away from the screen to reveal Charlie in an underground parking garage leaning up against his limousine chatting with his bodyguards. Gary fast-forwarded then played the tape just as Ian arrived.

"There's no audio," Gary said, almost apologetically, "and the tape keeps cutting out, but..." His voice trailed off as he gestured to the scene playing out on the TV.

Ian approached Charlie and the bodyguards put themselves between Ian and their charge. Charlie waved them away and while they appeared reluctant to leave, soon they were off camera.

Although no words could be heard, Charlie looked relaxed and Ian tense, the picture of barely restrained fury.

Suddenly Ian came at Charlie, grabbing him roughly, throwing him face first against the car and frisking him brusquely. The tape cut out sporadically, but Charlie's body language had clearly changed to that of abject fear as he cowered under Ian's control.

Ian was pressing Charlie into the car with his body when the tape went out completely.

"What the hell?" Megan muttered, confused. "That can't be it!"

"It comes back in a couple of minutes," Gary explained, fast-forwarding.

When the image returned, it showed Charlie's bodyguards tearing Ian off Charlie.

Charlie's pants were down around his ankles and Ian's jeans were open.

"I'm going to kill that motherfucker! Where is he?" Don leaped out of his chair and grabbed Gary by the shirt, shaking him. "Tell me where he is right now!"

"He's in custody!" Gary shouted, struggling until Don shoved him away and ran for the door. "You can’t get to him!" he yelled after him as Don sprinted down the hallway back to the holding cells.

The thick security door that led to the cells was deadbolted shut and wouldn't open, so Don pounded his fists against it, railing. Through the small window inset in the door he could make out Ian pacing his cell - the one Don had vacated mere minutes before.

Despite the dense barrier Ian must have heard him because he looked up and spied Don through the glass.

He was at his cell door in an instant, clawing at the bars to try get at Don with the same fervor, the same hatred.

"I will end you!" Don screamed just before two burly uniforms dragged him away from the door.

Megan and Howard intervened, helping to pull him away from the door as he struggled to get back.

"Don! We just got you out! Get a hold of yourself or they'll arrest you all over again!" Howard warned. "It's over!"

"He attacked my brother!" Don tore free of the uniforms who stepped back at Gary's nod.

"Yes, but think of Charlie," Megan stressed, holding Don by the biceps to try to keep his attention on her. "Your brother needs you. He needs you, Don!" She turned to Gary, her voice stern. "Take us to Charlie. Now!"

Don's eyes, cold and hard, were glued to the holding cell door even as he let them pull him away.

"This is all far from over..."

+

Don brushed past Gary impatiently as the lieutenant tried to lead him to where Charlie was finishing up his statement.

His purposeful stride faltered though as they passed the sign marking the area they were entering as Sex Crimes. Fighting down a wave of nausea, he scanned the room, looking for his brother.

He almost missed him - Charlie was small, curled in on himself in a guest chair beside a detective's desk. His arms were wrapped around himself and the forlorn look on his face was a kick to Don's gut.

As if sensing him, Charlie looked up and spotted him.

"Don!"

They rushed towards each other and embraced tightly, Don struggling with the need to maintain decorum in front of a room full of cops.

"Are you okay? Are you hurt?" The words tumbled out and Don had to pull away just to look at him, holding Charlie's face in his hands as he locked eyes with him, searching for signs that Charlie was broken, ruined.

"I'm okay," Charlie assured him, nodding, his eyes bright and clear. "He didn't hurt me. They stopped him in time."

An involuntary gasp of anguish escaped Don and he pulled Charlie to him again. "I'm so sorry, buddy. I've tried to protect you from this your whole life. I failed. I failed you."

"It's okay, Don, it's okay," Charlie murmured. He finally pulled away, tugging at Don's arm. "Please, just let's go home, all right? Once I sign the statement, I can go. They said your limo's not out of impound yet, but mine's right outside."

Megan and Howard joined them, Megan offering Charlie a heartfelt hug as Howard patted him on the back.

"I'm glad you're okay," Megan said quietly. "Howard and I are going back to my place to discuss next steps, but you guys should go home and rest. It's been a really hard day all around. And yes," she said, turning to Don. "I'll clear your schedules for the foreseeable future. Take as much time as you need. I've got it covered."

"Thanks," Don said, his gratitude clear. "Both of you."

"Happy to help," Howard said, laying a hand on Don's shoulder briefly. "Don't worry about anything. Megan and I will take care of all of it."

Howard ushered Megan away and Charlie led Don over to where he'd been sitting.

"Give me just a minute..."

As Charlie signed the paperwork Don spotted his and Charlie's bodyguards waiting for them on the other side of the glass partition that led to the foyer.

Glancing back towards the holding cell area, still agitated, his demeanor shifted in a heartbeat - the rage replaced with a warmth, a longing...

Standing just on the other side of the doorway with Gary was Kim.

He hadn't seen her since they'd fought. She'd had plenty of time since then to turn him in. She hadn't. And now she'd taken on LAPD for him, helping prove Ian was dirty to save him and Charlie, the whole organization.

"Okay, I'm all done. Can we go now?"

"Yeah, buddy. I'll take you home." He spoke without turning to face Charlie, unable to tear his eyes from Kim.

A split second before he was about to give up, she looked up - their eyes meeting across the busy squad room.

He mouthed 'thank you' and got a serene smile and a tiny nod in return.

And then Darius appeared, pulling her away and she was gone.

+

Don waved off the bodyguards as they approached Charlie's limousine so one got into the front seat as the others headed for the follow car.

Don let Charlie in first then got in himself, tense as they drove away from the police station.

He reached over and took Charlie's hand, face downcast in sorrow.

"Buddy, I'm so sorry... I never meant for this to happen..."

"Don, it's okay..." Charlie interrupted. "Really..."

Don turned Charlie's hand over, confused, looking first at the cuff then up at the shirt beneath his blazer.

"You're wearing one of my shirts?" Don asked, bewildered. "Your shirts are custom made for you. That one's way too big."

"I needed the longer cuffs," Charlie explained. He pulled a knife out of the limousine's bar and cut at some loose threads in the hem of one of the cuffs until they gave way. After a tug, a small object fell out. "It's Colby's feed jammer. I rigged it, Don! Ian framed you and I framed him!"

Don's jaw dropped as he stared stunned at his brother. "You mean he never tried to..."

"No! I just made the tape go to static using the feed jammer at the right moment and had the bodyguards undo his pants while I dropped mine. I egged him on so he'd get pissed at me, knowing there was no audio on the tape, and he reacted just like I figured - throwing me against the limo. After that I just had to jam the video feed, have my bodyguards for three against one witnesses and there was no way with the tape backing us up that anyone would buy Edgerton's story that it was a frame job."

Don grabbed Charlie and crushed him in a fierce embrace.

"I thought I let you down. I thought I let you get hurt. I never ever wanted that to happen to you."

"You didn't let me down," Charlie told him. "But this time it was my turn to look out for you."

Don pressed a kiss to Charlie's forehead as he let him go.

"This is it," Don stated with an air of finality. "No more. I can't take the risk any longer. We take tonight off, but tomorrow we start prepping for retirement."

Charlie nodded.

"It will take me a while to get Kit ready, but I agree. It's time to move on."

Don bent his head so that his forehead rested against his brother's.

"You know I love you, right? I'd do anything for you, anything to keep you safe."

"I know," Charlie assured him, his voice soft with affection. "And I'd do anything to keep you safe as well. Anything..."

+
 
 
 
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on June 24th, 2008 08:48 pm (UTC)
Confession
[Argh! The Vice Series Post finally got too big! I have to post my Confession here!]

Part 22 Confession

End Game

I confess I rewrote parts of this Part just before publishing.

First I lost a rewrite of the Howard and Gary scene when my PDA died. I couldn't remember enough of how it went so I rewrote it a different way. I'll have to live with the fact that I liked the lost rewrite better.

Then I had a crisis of creativity I guess, this being my first novel and all, when I decided my original climax was, well, too unclimactic. I angsted for ages until I decided to change it. Then I angsted for ages more trying to figure out what sort of confrontation I could manage between Ian and Don that would be satisfying yet plausible and not trite. I hope I did okay on it. It still feels forced to me.

Vice does not have a traditional novel ending in part because it's not a traditional novel (and because I'm just odd that way with my experiments and such). It's the first (though not chronologically) story in an interconnected series of stories which span decades in the lives of the characters. So Virtue, the first sequel, picks up the same night as Vice leaves off.

What, you thought I'd just let that great Don/Kim reunion go to waste? ;-)

So if you're not satisfied with the ending - and really the actual end, of Vice anyway, is the epilogue - just wait. Virtue will satisfy with the *real* end game.

One final note: The phrase "This is all far from over" was lifted from the movie Dead Again which I wholeheartedly recommend. Those who have seen the movie realize its significance.
hear me roar: CordeliaEppesmagisterequitum on June 24th, 2008 08:49 pm (UTC)
Ian is a whore. Charlie saying that had me cracking up.

Whew. You had me worried a bit that Ian had done something, but Charlie once again proves that he is a genius and that he will do anything to protect his brother, Don.

Don trying to get through the bars to Ian. I'll admit I was cheering him on.

I'm way excited for the epilogue. And yay for Don/Kim. That little smile she gave him and the help against the LAPD.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on June 24th, 2008 08:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading and commenting so fast! /beams/ It makes me so happy to see what you think of it.

Ian is a whore. Charlie saying that had me cracking up.

Yeah, I love that interchange. Charlie taking Ian down, riling him up on purpose... /gleeful cackle a la munchkinofdoom/

Whew. You had me worried a bit that Ian had done something, but Charlie once again proves that he is a genius and that he will do anything to protect his brother, Don.

That was the thought. Ian was so far gone he'd do pretty much anything to take them down. What he didn't count on was that Charlie would do pretty much anything to take *him* down *and* he's way smarter.

Don trying to get through the bars to Ian. I'll admit I was cheering him on.

Oh good, since that's the new part, where I changed the climax.

I'm way excited for the epilogue. And yay for Don/Kim. That little smile she gave him and the help against the LAPD.

I was looking forward to the epilogue for months, but I made myself not write it until I was for sure done with the entire rest of the novel. Once I did I wrote it practically from memory, I'd seen the final scene in my head so many times by that point.

I know most of the good Don/Kim is in Virtue, but I still like this bit in the squad room a great deal. So small, yet so sweet.

One more post to go and it's OVER!
fredbassettfredbassett on June 25th, 2008 09:56 pm (UTC)
Wow, great ending! I really thought Ian had gone too far in this one, and then the lovely twist that Charlie had set it up all along. Excellent. need to read the Epilogue now, but this has been a wonderful series and I've loved every minute of it. I'm looking forward to Virtue a lot.

Well done, Emma. Bloody well done!!!
Karen: numb3rs charliebyrons_brain on June 29th, 2008 01:10 pm (UTC)
Damn is this so tense ::wipes brow in relief::
(Deleted comment)
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 23rd, 2009 04:29 am (UTC)
Thanks! This was a tough part, and it got rewritten plenty, but in the end I'm really happy with how it turned out. A good set up for what happens in Virtue.

This is all far from over...