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03 December 2008 @ 11:55 am
Numb3rs Fic: Complicated 3  
Written for numb3rs100 Challenges #15 – Home, #4 – Learning, #10 – Travel, #38 – Discovery, #21 – Survival
Crossposted to numb3rs_fic

Title: Complicated 3
Series/Universe: Complicated
Pairing/Characters: Charlie, Alan, OCs
Rating: PG13
Word Count: 1500
Spoilers: Season 1
Summary: When the NSA comes to pick up Charlie things get dangerous fast
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ

015. Home


"In the kitchen!"

Charlie laid his satchel on the console table and poked his head in the kitchen. "Hey, I went and picked up your dry cleaning and mine. I'm going to put yours in your closet."

"Great, thanks," Alan said. "I've got another meeting with the new clients." He lowered his voice, mocking a conspiratorial whisper. "They're kind of uptight so Stan keeps bugging me to wear a tie."

"Tell Stan you're semi-retired," Charlie retorted, walking off. "You don't do ties!"

He went upstairs and hung up his father's dry cleaning then put his own clothes away. He headed back down the stairs only to hear the doorbell ring.

"I'll get it!" he shouted in the direction of the kitchen. He looked through the peephole in the door and a chill went through him. Men in suits on the doorstep was never a good sign. He opened the door, glanced at the badges they were holding up, then stepped back for them to enter. "Gentlemen, come in."

The lead NSA agent waited until the door was closed behind them, glancing around the room to make sure there was no one to overhear.

"Dr. Eppes, we need you to come with us."

"What's this about?" Charlie asked warily, feeling the chill turn to dread.

"There's been a breach," the agent admitted. "We can tell you more, but not here."

Charlie took in their solemn expressions. "All right then. I'll come."

"Hey, Charlie? Who was at the door?" Alan walked out of the kitchen, dishtowel in hand.

"Dad, I have to go..." Charlie grabbed his satchel off the table and slung it over his shoulder as the men in suits ushered him to the door. "Don't worry!" he called back as they led him out. "I'll be back for dinner!"

004. Learning

An agent sat on either side of Charlie in the back seat of the SUV as a third, a woman with long blond hair, drove.

The lead agent finally introduced himself as he opened a briefcase.

"I'm Agent Roger Thames. This is Agent Raul Sanchez. Agent Miranda Yale up front is your assigned security." He handed Charlie a sheaf of papers. "Take a look at that and tell me what you make of it."

Charlie accepted the printouts and found they were of computer code - a mathematical program he had helped the NSA develop. Only someone had altered the code. He'd developed these formulas, had worked extensively with them, and now someone had altered them.

"This isn't my math," Charlie said darkly. "Someone's gone into the program itself and changed the algorithm. It's going to take some study to figure out what they were trying to do, but if you're asking if someone sabotaged this program to affect the results? The answer is yes."

"Do you recall what the program was to be used for?"

"Of course," Charlie said, fighting back irritation. "I designed it so that the NSA could input data on individuals who had any access to classified locations to determine who would be most likely to abuse that access. I wrote it after the consulate attacks so the government could filter through thousands of civilians to find out who might be worth looking at for criminal activities."

"Do you also recall what you told the director in private about it?" Roger turned and gave him a look that told Charlie he already knew the answer.

Charlie swallowed hard, the pieces falling into place as understanding came to him like a hard slap.

"I told him it could be modified to look for moles within the government."

010. Travel

After examining the code for a while, Charlie glanced out the car window to find he wasn't sure where they were.

"Where are we going?"

"To a safehouse," Roger explained. "I have some data - logs from the compromised server and such - that we need you to review in addition to the code. We want to know what they changed and who you think could have done it."

"That's a tall order," Charlie said. "I can probably figure out the math within an hour, but depending on your log data..." He looked apologetic. "I don't think that's going to get done in just a few hours."

"Dr. Eppes," Roger said soberly. "The news about the breach got out before we could contain it, so whoever the mole is? Knows we're looking for them. That makes them dangerous."

"That's your problem, not mine," Charlie said stiffly.

"This person," Roger stressed, "knows that you're the only one who can say for sure how that math's been tampered with. That makes you a target."

Charlie felt a twist in his gut at the implication. "So you're not just taking me to help..."

Roger nodded, his mouth a grim line. "We're taking you for your own protection."

Charlie sat and just breathed for a moment, feeling lightheaded from the quick rush of fear induced adrenaline, the word 'target' ricocheting around his brain; the concept of being on the wrong end of that equation left him struggling, dazed.

"I need to call my father," he muttered anxiously, "and tell him I'm not going to be home for a while..."

"Later," Roger assured him. "We need to get you safely tucked away first."

The trip continued in silence, Charlie deep in thought.

If the NSA had a mole, how could the NSA keep him safe?

038. Discovery

"He still won't eat?"

Charlie could hear the agents downstairs and paused in his typing to listen in on their conversation.

"Would you?'' Miranda's voice this time. "Tell a civilian someone's out to assassinate them and it's pretty much going to kill their appetite."

The flip in Charlie's stomach made him glad once again he'd turned down dinner.

"We don't know that for sure." Roger's stern voice this time.

"I'm going to go sit with him." Charlie started typing again as he heard Miranda's footfall on the stairs. "Dr. Eppes? It's Agent Yale." She tapped on the door before she opened it. "Can I come in?"

"That's a rhetorical question, isn't it?" Charlie tossed back as she walked in.

"Pretty much." She was at least apologetic about it as she walked over with a fresh glass of water for Charlie's desk. "I brought you some water and these." She pulled a roll of antacids out of her jacket pocket and put them next to the water on the desk. "They're my own private stash so they're safe."

Grateful for the small gesture of understanding, Charlie took two from the roll and handed it back to her. "I think we're both going to be needing these tonight."

Miranda picked up the lone spare chair in the room. "Would you be more comfortable with me sitting where you can see me or out of sight?"

"Where I can see you," Charlie said, appreciating her thoughtfulness. "I find it hard to think when..."

Miranda bolted up and pulled her gun, moving quickly to the window to peek out.

"Get down on the floor," she ordered.

"What is it?" Charlie cried, throwing himself on the carpet.

"Headlights," she said, her tone dire. "And no one's supposed to be coming. No one's supposed to know..."

021. Survival

"Stay there. Don't make a sound."

Miranda slipped from the room, closing the door behind her.

Charlie lay trembling on the floor, his heart skipping a beat when the door opened again.

Miranda ran silently to the end of the bed and pulled out an escape ladder from beneath it.

"You go down first," she whispered as she opened the window and lowered the ladder down the side of the building. "And run. I'll be right behind you. Don't stop for anyone. Don't trust anyone but me."

Charlie quickly grabbed the USB drive with the NSA data on it and headed for the window. As he shoved it in his pocket and climbed out, he saw Miranda close his still running laptop, toss it in his satchel and put the bag over her shoulder before following.

They reached the ground within a second of each other and took off across the grass, heading away from the lights and towards the cover of darkness.

Charlie risked a glance back once they were in the shadows. A figure stood at the open window scanning the night for them. The outline of a gun in their hand was unmistakable as was the fact they weren't tall enough to be Roger or Raul.

Miranda grabbed his arm to get him to speed up and pulled him towards an unfinished building. They wove through the construction materials and Miranda pulled out some large rolls of fiberglass insulation to make an impromptu hiding place in the middle.

"Get in," she whispered.

Once they were both inside, she pulled the rolls back in place to hide them.

"What happened?" he whispered back, breathless.

"Downstairs was empty; the front door was ajar," she said. "They may be dead, but for now, our sole concern is to stay alive..."

Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on December 3rd, 2008 07:57 pm (UTC)
Proof I am a numbers geek...

When I went to make the headers for this post I of course used a copy of Complicated 2's headers rather than starting from scratch. I gathered up the prompt numbers from the prompts I'd written for Complicated 3 and went to edit the challenge prompts line. See if you can see what I saw.

Challenges #1 – Conversation, #48 – Pill, #30 – Secret, #18 – Tense, #101 – Interrogation
Challenges #15 – Home, #4 – Learning, #10 – Travel, #38 – Discovery, #21 – Survival

I was wildly entertained by the fact that all five prompts in the first set share a digit in common with the second set - in order! That definitely made editing easier and way more fun that normal. LOL

I confess I may have stolen the idea for the computer program Charlie worked on for the NSA - from myself. (Yes, since this is Numb3rs fic #463 on my list, I've been reduced to self-plagiarizing and this is not the first time. /hangs head/)

And yes, in case anyone out there was confused, this is what happened last night before the events of Complicated 1 and 2. Complicated enough for you? ;-)

ETA: And yes, my inner numbers geek was pleased about posting Complicated 1, 2 and 3 on December 1st, 2nd and 3rd. /grins/


Emma DeMarais

Edited at 2008-12-03 08:09 pm (UTC)
ladygray99: CharlieEvilladygray99 on December 3rd, 2008 08:24 pm (UTC)
This was fun and exciting.
I wonder how long it'll take for that anonymous troll to show up who always bitches about NSA procedures?
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 3rd, 2008 08:31 pm (UTC)

I was just thinking that!

(And dang you're fast!)

Thanks for the comment and the associated laugh!
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 3rd, 2008 08:34 pm (UTC)
I'm brining back my NSA OC in a few days so I'm bracing for a long, wanky, anonymous post about it.

I think I hit refresh just as posted 'cause this came up on the top of my flist. Plus I understand the joy of instant feedback.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 3rd, 2008 08:44 pm (UTC)
Ick. I hope they skip the wanky anon post and crawl back under the rock from whence they came.

I appreciate the instant feedback! I suck at it myself, though I do have N100 on an alert so I can at least try to run comment on new drabbles like a good comm owner. It's the one place I can comment no matter how busy I am. any fic over 500 words seems too much for my feeble attention span these days. /is full of woe/ /misses her brain/
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 3rd, 2008 08:45 pm (UTC)
Just so you know I'm working on drabbles right now. I'm going to try to get the rewind prompt for this week done. It's going to be Nikki/Amita smut if I can manage it.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 3rd, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC)


(On more than one count!)
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 3rd, 2008 08:48 pm (UTC)
Having a little trouble with treasure. Might have to stretch the definition a little. Taste will be easy though. ;-)
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 3rd, 2008 08:52 pm (UTC)
Feel free to stretch.

When I wrote the N100 prompts the first time I was pretty literal - and in some cases made myself use the exact word in the fic. For the Complicated series? The meaning and concept of the word is enough.

We're pretty liberal at N100. I don't think we've questioned an author's interpretation of a prompt yet.
melissima: Charlie's stare <lj user=dollydani>melissima on December 3rd, 2008 08:35 pm (UTC)

It's masterful, the way you drew Miranda in so few strokes and yet made me like and root for her. I'm going to have to study this so I can try that trick myself.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 3rd, 2008 08:48 pm (UTC)
Hee! If you figure it out, will you tell me? ;-)

i/odefect_heaven on December 3rd, 2008 08:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you for comment in my LJ.
I look forward to your story very much.

I Love it***
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 3rd, 2008 08:49 pm (UTC)

Thanks and welcome!
devon99 on December 3rd, 2008 10:00 pm (UTC)
Am still loving this.

Nice flashback section.

Loved how in the space of a few hundred words I switched from liking Miranda, then being highly suspicious of her and her 'private stash' of tablets, to thinking no, she's saving Charlie, to thinking hmmmm 'don't trust anyone but me'.....

Damn you, clever girl - Im second guessing every single line now!!!

*more please*
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 3rd, 2008 10:07 pm (UTC)

And whatever do you mean about Miranda? /tries and fails to look innocent/ Hehehe
hear me roarmagisterequitum on December 3rd, 2008 10:22 pm (UTC)
Dun Dun Dun....

Charlie, you say it so well when you point out that a mole in the NSA very likely means that they cannot protect you.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 3rd, 2008 10:31 pm (UTC)
Hee! /waits for the Law and Order sound next/

Yeah, I'm surprised he didn't ask for Don right off. That's problematic too though, I mean, if the NSA mole was looking for Charlie, wouldn't they watch Don?
Kayra: SPN - SaveMecraftypug on December 4th, 2008 01:40 am (UTC)

butbutbutbut.... How do we know Charlie can trust Miranda? Maybe they weren't NSA? Maybe it was NSA agents that came to the house. Maybe she's a "rogue" NSA agent?

The suspense! :)

Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 4th, 2008 01:45 am (UTC)
All good questions! The answers? /villain voice/ I will make you wait for them! Bwuahahahahaha!

Thanks for reading!

(And LOL @ that J2 icon)
angel_kitsune7 on December 9th, 2008 02:34 am (UTC)
m loving it!!! tell me when u'll have the new chap up??
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 9th, 2008 02:40 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I hadn't intended on putting any new up until January, but I kind of want to do it quicker now!
The Writing Journal: beehives ; pdsunlesslands on February 8th, 2009 02:09 am (UTC)
I love how these work together, and the flow from the first drabble which feels so safe and 'home-y' to the last where everything is in question. I can't wait for the next set.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on February 8th, 2009 02:21 am (UTC)
Thank you!

I think the next set will begin on Monday (thus the prep work this weekend).