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19 January 2009 @ 07:39 pm
Numb3rs Fic: Winter Tales - East of the Sun West of the Moon Part 1  
Posted to numb3rs_fic


Title: East of the Sun West of the Moon
Series/Universe: Winter Tales
Pairing/Characters: Don, Charlie, Megan, Alan, Larry, Walt Merrick, Agent Miller, OCs
Rating: PG13
Spoilers: Pilot, Judgment Call, Money for Nothing
Summary: Don would go to the ends of the earth to save his brother
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ


"You are not cutting me out of the loop! Those are my people in there!"

The SWAT team leader put his hands on his hips, staring Don down, unyielding. "I'm aware that you have agents among the hostages, Agent Eppes, but that's precisely why you're not part of the command unit. You're too close. I'm sorry."

He stormed off and left Don standing there fuming in his wake.

"Don!"

Don whipped around at the unexpected sound of Charlie's voice behind him. Charlie flashed his FBI ID at the uniform guarding the tapeline, ducked under it and headed towards him.

"What the hell are you doing here? This is an active hostage situation!"

"I came to help."

"Charlie, you can't be here right now! It's too dangerous!"

"It's more dangerous for Megan and Colby and David! They're in there and I want them out safely as much as you do! I owe them that." Charlie's jaw was set, his tone determined.

Don grabbed him by the arm and steered him away from the command center. "I know you want to help, but the FBI has negotiation tactics for these kinds of situations..."

"And your hostage takers have access to all of them, since they've got three agents in there with them. All they have to do is threaten to kill a hostage and any one of them is going to spill what the FBI's negotiation strategy would be to any sort of action. They know your whole playbook, Don. You can't outsmart them!"

Don stopped, still holding Charlie by the arm. "So what makes you think you can help?"

"Negotiation Theory. I know it, but your agents don't. I can work up scenarios that give you the advantage while it looks like the hostage takers are getting what they want. Since it's not part of your normal negotiation protocols they won't be able to anticipate it and you'll be able to get the upper hand."

Don scowled and looked back at the command center van.

"Okay, but listen to me. You do not leave that van, do you hear me? If shots are fired, I want you down on the floor no questions asked. The van may be bulletproof, but I am not taking any chances here." Don shook his head. "If Dad finds out I let you stay he's going to kill me."

"Forget about Dad. Tell me what I need to know."

Don pointed out the FBI SWAT team leader. "That's the guy you need to talk to. Tell him you got paged to come down here and you don't know who paged you. Act like a self-important jerk with him and don't let him treat you like a civilian. Tell him you're a consultant for the Bureau, the NSA and the CIA and that you don't have time for local politics. Tell him you're there to provide him with alternative negotiation strategies and you need a sit rep immediately."

"Sit rep?"

"Yeah, a situation report. Speaking in his lingo will make him feel like you know what you're doing. Plus ordering him around will show him you expect to be treated like a valued expert, not a foot soldier."

"Got it."

"And don't tell him we're related. If he asks about me just say 'who?' and change the subject like you're impatient."

"Why is that important?"

"Because, since my agents are in there I'm not allowed to work command. They're afraid I might be emotionally involved so if they think you are too, they won't listen to you."

"Understood. Anything else?"

"Just call me on my cell if you need anything. Call me by some other name though, so he won't get suspicious. I'll be close by, but I'll stay out of your way."

Charlie nodded. "Thanks. I'll do everything I can for them."

"I believe you, buddy." Don squeezed Charlie's arm and pointed him towards the van. "Good luck."

+

A single shot rang out from the SWAT sniper's rifle.

"Suspect is down! I repeat, suspect is down!"

SWAT streamed into the building and after a tense moment, they emerged with the second suspect handcuffed.

One of the SWAT team members checked for a pulse on the suspect on the ground. Don watched as he stepped away and shook his head: dead.

Don dialed Charlie's cell phone as he watched the hostages start to be led out.

"Hello?"

"What the hell just happened?" Don cried. "Why didn't they go with your plan?"

"They did," Charlie explained. "They just went with plan C. I gave them two good options that would result in capture with no violence. I guess they tossed them out the window once they got a clear shot. I mean, I gave them a scenario that would get one of the suspects out in the open for the sniper, but I didn't..." Charlie's voice faltered. "I didn't think they'd actually use it."

"It's okay, buddy." Don's voice softened. "It's not your fault. The hostages are coming out now and they're safe thanks to you. Stay in the van and I'll come get you once the SWAT team gives the all clear, okay?"

"Okay," Charlie muttered. "I didn't mean it to happen this way," he added mournfully.

"I know," Don said, the tense knots in his shoulders finally starting to release a little as Megan, David and Colby exited the building unharmed, walking past the dark pool forming beneath the body of the man on the pavement.

+

"Charlie!"

Charlie peered out of the open van door as Don and Megan approached and climbed out to join them.

"Megan! I'm glad you're okay!"

"Oh man, if you weren't my boss's little brother I'd so kiss you right now!" Megan gushed. "You totally called it. The hostage takers grilled us on FBI negotiation techniques, figuring they'd get the upper hand. Evidently they never saw you coming."

"Are David and Colby okay?"

"They're fine," Don answered. "The Assistant Director put us all on mandatory 72 hour leave so after they're debriefed they're heading home."

"Speaking of..." Megan said. "I have to go give my statement as well." She put a hand on Charlie's shoulder. "You did a great job. Thank you."

Charlie smiled, looking a little bashful and sad. "I'm just glad you're okay."

"Honestly?" Megan said as she headed away. "I am too!"

"I'll see you in a few days," Don told her. "Call me if you need anything!"

Once she left, Charlie nudged Don's arm. "So, do you have to give a statement or can we get out of here?"

"You need a ride home?" Don asked. "I can find someone to take you if you need a lift."

"Don, I'm not worried about me. You need to get away from here. It's over. Your team is safe. You need to relax, calm down."

"I'm fine," Don said dismissively.

"Don, you're so tense you're ready to snap. We both need to get out of here. Let's go back to the house, let Dad make us a nice dinner or something. Okay?"

"They might need me here."

"Don, we'll ask, but I'm sure they don't. They don't even need me here. I'm cleared to go. Come on. You have a few days off. Come stay at the house for a while and relax." Charlie tried to catch Don's wandering eye and when he finally did, he looked at him with pleading eyes. "Please?"

"Fine," Don huffed. "Let's check in and if they don't need me or you we can go."

"Thanks," Charlie said. "Dad will be glad to see you."

"I think after this, he'll be glad to see both of us!"

+

Far from being relaxed, Don treated the next two days like house arrest. He prowled the house and backyard anxiously, as if an invisible tether prevented him from traveling further.

"Will you sit down or something? You're making me nervous with all the pacing!" Alan scowled, looking up from his crossword puzzle.

"I should be in the office."

"Well, your boss already vetoed that idea twice so you might as well kick back and relax."

"I can't relax. I should be working this case."

"What case? The guy who did it is in jail and the other guy's in the morgue. I think that's about as wrapped up as you people get in your line of work."

"We still don't know what he was after or who he was working with. There's more to this, I know it."

"If there is, someone will find out about it. This is not your case, Donnie. Let it go."

Charlie came downstairs at the tail end of the conversation. "Don't tell me he wants to go back to work again!"

Alan just glared at Don and let out a small sound of frustration.

"Come on, Don. We almost never get any time off together. Let's shoot some hoops or go see a movie or something."

"I don't have time for that. I need to go work on the case."

Charlie rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands. "Don, please... Can't you just relax and enjoy a few days off?"

"Hey, I've been here for two days now."

"Yes and you've spent both those days pacing, reading newspaper accounts of the event and doing research on the Internet. Hardly relaxing."

Charlie tried to approach him, but Don moved away, starting up his restless pacing again.

"Is it really that hard to spend time with your family?" Charlie asked, sounding hurt.

Don didn't even acknowledge the question. "I can't do this anymore. I have to go. I'll see you guys later."

He grabbed his keys and headed out the front door as both Charlie and Alan wordlessly watched him go.

+

"Eppes! You're not supposed to be here! Assistant Director Merrick said..."

Don scowled. "Forget it Miller, I'm not leaving. Tell me what's going on with the case."

The agent just shook his head and handed Don a folder. "Read for yourself."

"Thanks."

Don took the folder back to his desk and opened it up. The deceased suspect was Roberto Murano, arrested twice previously on concealed weapons charges. Don noted with interest that both arrests were in New York City's Little Italy neighborhood. He flipped through the rest of the file until he found what he was looking for. Murano had been suspected of having mob ties, but no one could ever tie him to any one family.

The suspect in custody, Antony Mazano, also had suspected mob ties that couldn't be followed. He had a clean rap sheet though. His police history only listed him as a potential witness to a drive by shooting, also in Little Italy.

The arraignment papers showed that the AUSA assigned to the case had successfully argued Mazano was a flight risk and managed to get him held without bail.

It took Don close to an hour to read the entire contents of the file. Once he was done, he dropped the folder off at Miller's empty desk. As he headed back to his own desk, Miller showed up. "Hey, you might want to make yourself scarce. Merrick's on the floor and if he sees you..."

"Yeah, thanks," Don said. "I'll be in records."

Don spent another hour pulling various files connected to New York mob activity in Southern California. He checked the files out and brought them home to read rather then risk getting caught at his desk.

Totally enmeshed in his research, he got annoyed when his phone rang around dinnertime. He glanced at the Caller ID, saw it was Charlie and let it go to voicemail. After a few seconds, he picked up the phone again and dialed his local pizza place to place an order. He might be avoiding dinner with his family, but he knew he couldn't avoid dinner entirely.

+

Don grabbed his travel mug and jacket and as an afterthought, fished a slice of cold pizza out of the refrigerator, holding it in his mouth as he locked his apartment door behind him.

He'd already taken the folders out to his car, having stayed up late reading them the night before. He chewed his pizza as he walked, mentally reviewing the information in his head. New York mobsters rarely did any big business on the West Coast and the FBI hadn't been able to tie either man to any mob activities even though there was plenty of reason to be suspicious.

His cell phone rang just as he reached his car and he put the pizza back in his mouth for a few seconds so he could open the door and put everything down before he answered.

"Eppes!"

"Good morning, Don. It's Larry calling. I'm sorry to disturb you so early, but I'm attempting to locate our resident genius. Charles told me you were staying at the house so I thought perhaps you might be with him."

"Sorry, Larry. I'm at my apartment. I'm not staying at the house any longer."

"Oh, I see. I just thought... well never mind. So you have no idea where Charles might be?"

"None. Haven't seen him since yesterday afternoon. Why, did he forget a meeting?"

"Perhaps," Larry said thoughtfully. "He arranged for me to come by this morning just before office hours started to pick up some new equations he was working on for me. Not only did he not show up to give me the equations, there are students here for his office hours and he's not here. That's not like him."

Don felt a slight nervous churn in his stomach. "I take it you called the house and his cell already?"

"Multiple times, but to no avail. I even called your father. He's at his office and he said he left before Charlie got up because he had an early morning meeting, so he wasn't any help."

Don tossed the remaining pizza in a nearby trashcan, feeling suddenly unsettled. "I tell you what Larry. I'll swing by the house and check for you. He might just have been up all night working on those equations and overslept."

"Thank you, Don. I appreciate it. I'm sure it's nothing..."

"I know. I'll give you a call once I kick his sorry ass out of bed, how's that?"

"Well, I'll just be glad if he's only been sleeping and nothing worse."

Don fought down the roiling in his stomach and tried to keep his tone light. "Me too."

+

Don checked the garage before he even entered the house and found it empty.

"Charlie!"

He made a quick circuit of the downstairs before heading up to his brother's room. It was also empty. Don hadn't seen Charlie's car parked out front and his bike had been in the garage so it looked like wherever he was, he drove there.

He flipped open his cell and called Larry back.

"Hey, Larry. It's Don. I'm at the house and Charlie's not here. His car's gone so I thought he might have come in to work by now."

"No..." Larry said slowly. "I'm still in his office waiting for him and he hasn't shown up yet. I called his cell about five minutes ago and I'm still getting nothing."

Don heard his call waiting beep. "Listen, Larry, I've got another call. Let me call you back, okay?"

"Sure, no problem."

Don hung up quickly and answered the other call.

"Eppes!"

"Is this Agent Don Eppes of the FBI?"

"Yes."

"This is Officer Lowry of the Pasadena Police Department. I'm calling in regards to a blue 2006 Prius we show as being registered to a Charles Eppes?"

Don's hand tightened on the phone. "That's my brother's car. What about it?"

"Yes, we traced the registration and found out he was a Bureau consultant so it seemed prudent to contact you immediately."

"What's this about? What's going on with his car?" Don asked anxiously.

"I responded to a call about an abandoned vehicle and found Dr. Eppes' car in an alley off California Boulevard. The door was open and the car was still running. There was no sign of Dr. Eppes anywhere."

Don sank down to sit on Charlie's bed, his knees suddenly weak.

His call waiting beeped again. "Hold on a minute," he said automatically and switched to the new call.

"Eppes."

"Don, it's Walt Merrick. I'm afraid I have some bad news..."

+

Don prowled the back of the conference room as the other agents were briefed on Charlie's disappearance by Assistant Director Merrick. Having heard everything already, he was impatient to get moving on the case, to get more people out there looking for his brother instead of sitting around talking about him.

Don stilled however when Merrick replayed the tape of the telephone call. Suddenly paralyzed, the words washed over him with the icy chill of a sudden frost.

'I'm calling about Antony Mazano.'

'Do you have information?'

'Oh, I have better than information. I have an offer for the FBI. A trade if you will.'

'What sort of trade are you talking about?'

'It's simple. I want Antony Mazano released from custody. Once he's freed, I'll give you something you want.'

'Which would be?'

'One of your consultants. The one you used to catch Antony in the first place. A Dr. Charles Eppes. Let's just say that Dr. Eppes will remain my guest until I see Antony walking around a free man on TV.'

'How do we know you actually have Dr. Eppes? Can you put him on the phone?'

'Dr. Eppes is, shall we say, indisposed at the moment? You know, someone should go look after his car. A nice Prius is likely to get stolen leaving it running with the keys in it like that.'

'Where is Dr. Eppes now?'

'Oh, he's somewhere east of the sun and west of the moon. That should keep you busy for now. I'll be in touch...'

A loud click ended the call, severing his one connection with his brother.

Merrick handed out assignments briskly and then called the meeting to a close, dismissing the agents in a manner that suggested he understood that brevity meant speed.

Confused, Don approached him. "What about me? You've got my team on this, but they're working for DeWinter. What am I doing?"

"Don..." Merrick pulled him away from the other agents until they were out of hearing range. "You're family. You can't be involved in the investigation. You know the rules. You're on leave until Charlie's found. Go home and stay by your phone. I'm sure your father needs you."

"My brother needs me more than my father does!" Don cried. "I'm not going to stand around and do nothing!"

"I'm sorry, Don. You're off the case and that's final."

+

Don nodded to Agent Sanchez when he arrived at his family's house, prepared to see at least two agents there in case of a ransom demand that he knew would never come. Before he could speak to Agent Lau setting up the equipment on their telephone, his father came down the stairs and stopped him.

"Donnie!"

"Dad!"

The two men embraced tightly, releasing each other only reluctantly afterwards.

"No news?" Alan asked.

"Nothing new," Don said apologetically. "We'll find him, Dad. Don't worry."

"Don't worry. Don't worry you say," Alan said, obviously fighting back panic. "My baby boy could be out there..." He stopped himself and paused long enough to get himself back together. "I can't help but worry..." he said quietly.

"I'm so sorry," Don said, his grief plain on his face. "If I'd just stayed here with you guys..."

Alan shook his head sadly. "You can't think about it that way or else you'll go crazy. I know. Just do what you can to help find him."

"Well, that's where this gets tricky. The FBI won't let me work the case since I'm involved."

"How are they going to stop you?"

"Exactly. I may not be part of the official investigation, but there's no way I'm sitting on my ass while Charlie's out there."

"You have a lead?"

"I have some ideas. But I need something from you."

"Anything."

"I need your car."

"My car?"

"Yeah. My SUV has government plates and the informants I need to talk to live in places where the Feds aren't exactly welcome. Let me borrow your car so I can fly under the radar for a while, do my own investigation."

"Sure, sure." Alan went to the kitchen to grab his spare keys. "Here. Keep me posted, will you?"

"I will. You call me if you hear anything at all, okay?"

"Of course."

Don turned to leave and his father put out a hand to stop him. "Donnie? Be careful. I might have already lost one son. I can't bear to lose you both."

Don embraced his father one last time, fighting to keep control of his emotions. "I'll bring him back safe, Dad. I promise."

"I need both of you back safe, Donnie. Both of you."

+

Don parked his father's silver sedan between two of the most beat up cars he'd ever seen, even in that South Central L.A. neighborhood. When he got out, he noticed several teenagers eyeing the car from the front stoop of the house he'd parked in front of.

He walked casually around to the sidewalk in front of the house and addressed the young men directly.

"I'm a friend of Mama Kay's and Mama Kay doesn't like it when people mess with her friends." Don put his hands on his hips, pushing his leather jacket open just enough to give the teenagers a glimpse of the gun on his hip. "I don't take kindly to anyone messing with my car. I think we understand each other, right?"

The teenagers looked at each other and subtly nodded. Don gave them one final look before heading across the street.

The ancient black woman sitting in a wicker chair on the front porch smiled as Don walked up her steps.

"I'm not sure who you are, but you sure did a good job putting those boys in their place!" she said with a laugh.

"Mama Kay, it's Don Eppes."

"Well I'll be. Been a long time since you came to visit me." The woman removed her sunglasses, exposing sightless eyes that nevertheless gleamed with delight.

"Hey, Feds aren't very welcome in this neighborhood, so I figured you'd prefer not having me on your front stoop all the time."

"Oh, it's not me. It's the neighbors. I mean, what would they think, me hanging out with G-men and all?"

Don chuckled. "Well, I wouldn't want to put you out any, but it is good to see you."

"I'm guessing this isn't a social call, but I should at least offer you something to drink." She turned her head back to the open front door behind her and bellowed, "Harlan! We've got company! Bring us out some lemonade!"

Don winced at the volume, but settled himself down on the top step just below the wicker chair Mama Kay was sitting in.

"Eppes is a name you don't hear much in these parts, so imagine my surprise at hearing that name twice in one day."

"That's why I'm here," Don said solemnly. "I know you hear everything, Mama Kay."

"So the Eppes that got snatched up is yours then?" she said quietly.

"My brother Charlie."

Mama Kay nodded. "Well, you did right by me helping my Harlan stay out of prison so I owe you."

Harlan came out, a huge hulking man, carrying a pitcher of lemonade and short stack of plastic cups, which he put on a small table beside the wicker chair. He nodded to Don who nodded back, not sure if Harlan even recognized him. "Do you want me to pour it out, Mama?" he asked.

She shooed him away. "I've got it. Leave us be. We need to talk."

Suitably chastened, Harlan lumbered back inside the house without another word.

Mama Kay poured the lemonade by touch and sound and Don waited until she extended a cup to him to make any sound at all. "Thank you," he said. "So can you tell me what you've heard?"

"Not much. Just that some out of towners - New Yorkers - snatched up an Eppes out in Pasadena. Frankly, I think the main reason word traveled so fast about it was because so many people were pissed they missed out on one of those hybrids with the keys still in it. Wouldn't believe the demand for those cars."

Don must have let out an involuntary noise because Mama Kay frowned. "I know... To you it's your brother, but to them it's all business. I'm sorry."

"No, it's okay," Don said. "I really need to know what you can tell me."

"Well, the guys are mafia so we stay clear of them. Doesn't matter what coast you are, they're bad news. I can tell you who to talk to if you need more on the local Italian connection. You know Rita's Diner?"

"Yeah, Margarita Della Rossa's place."

"Talk to Rita. She might be able to help you more than I can."

Don drank enough of his lemonade to be polite then put the cup back on the table. "I appreciate it, Mama Kay. Thank you." He headed down the front steps only to be called back.

"Wait!"

He returned and watched as she fished a piece of paper and a pen out of her pocket. She scribbled a word on the paper and folded it up, handing it to Don.

"It's not much, but it might be of value to you once you find the men you're looking for. One thing everyone in the mob wants to know right now is where the Bookman is."

"Valente? The Cavalini family accountant who took off with their money? Yeah, I'll say. The Bureau would like to know where he is as well!"

"Well, that's the name of his boat. I can't tell you where in the world the boat is, but he's on it."

"Thank you."

"Don't mention it. Now go see Rita before the lunch crowd hits."

+

Don sat down at the counter; grateful he'd managed to get there before the lunch crowd started filtering in. As it was, only a few people were sitting in the booths and the restaurant was fairly quiet.

"La bella Signora Della Rossa," Don said warmly when the woman he was waiting for came out of the kitchen.

The woman looked up and smiled widely when she saw Don on the other side of the counter.

"Ché sorpresa!" she exclaimed, primping her flame red hair. "Always such a charmer... How long has it been?"

"Too long," Don admitted.

A hint of sadness crossed her expression. "I should have known when I heard the name Eppes earlier that it would be your family. He is yours, isn't he? The one who disappeared in Pasadena?"

Don nodded gravely. "My brother Charlie."

Rita put her hand on top of Don's. "I'm so sorry, mio amico."

"Mama Kay thought you might know something that might help me find him."

Rita shook her head sadly. "All I know is they were from Little Italy and far from home. They're keeping quiet here since this isn't their territory. I heard there were two of them and they were on a snatch and grab so they wanted him alive, that's for sure. These people are professionals. If it had been a hit he'd be dead by now and the body would have been displayed prominently as a warning to others not to mess with la famiglia."

Don blanched a little and Rita frowned. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you. You came to me for answers and I don't have any for you."

"That's all right," Don said, trying to look steadier than he felt inside. "Every little bit of information helps."

"Well, I can at least point you to someone who knows more about this than I do. Do you know the El Dorado strip club in Monrovia?"

"No, but I'm sure I can find it," Don pulled out his notebook and started to write down the information.

"Talk to Trina there, Trina Alvarez. She's one of the dancers. She knows what goes down in the San Gabriel Valley better than us Angelinos do."

"Thank you."

"I wish I could do more. You helped put away the bastards who shot my husband, God rest his soul, so I owe you."

"You don't, but I appreciate the help."

"Let me give you one other thing to take with you. I'm not sure how useful it will be, but every mafioso wants to know about the Bookman right now."

"Arturo Valente, right."

"I don't know what good it will do you, but Valente might be at Pelican Landing in Key West. I think it's a marina."

Don noted down the information. "Thank you, really." He got up to leave, but Rita grabbed hold of his hand.

"You'll find him. I know you will."

Don offered her a strained smile. "I hope so."

+

The lunchtime crowd at the El Dorado strip club was sizeable and Don had to flash a few twenties at the club's manager to get him to postpone Trina's act long enough for him to see her alone for a couple of minutes. He wisely held onto the money until the manager showed him into a private room where the scantily clad stripper was waiting for him.

"Hey baby," Trina purred, draping her arms around his neck. "What's your name?"

Don removed her arms diplomatically as he took a step back. "Name's Eppes. Sound familiar?"

Trina dropped the act and backed away. "What do you want?" she asked warily.

"Margarita Della Rossa sent me. She's a friend who thought you could help me."

"Rita sent you?"

"Yes."

"How do I know for sure?" Trina said doubtfully.

Don whipped out his cell phone and handed it to her. "Call her. Ask her. She'll vouch for me."

Trina raised an eyebrow at him but accepted the phone, sitting down on the couch while she waited for someone at the diner to answer the phone. "Yeah, I need to talk to Rita. I don't care if it's the lunch rush, put her on the damn phone!"

Trina opened a drawer in the small table beside the couch and pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter, fumbling with them and the cell phone until Don took the lighter and lit her cigarette for her.

"Thanks," she said, blowing a puff of smoke. "I'm trying to quit, but nicotine's a bitch, you know? Yeah, Rita! It's Trina." Trina looked around for an ashtray and Don spotted one on another table and brought it to her. "Yeah, that's why I'm calling." She paused and took a drag on her cigarette only to sputter and cough. "He's a Fed? You sent a Fed to me?"

Don winced as a string of expletives in Spanish fell rapidly from Trina's lips.

Suddenly her expression changed and she covered the phone briefly.

"You really the one who put away Luis Delgado last year?"

"Yes. He's doing 20 years in Lompoc without possibility of parole. Why? Did you know him?"

Trina sneered. "Bastard put me in the hospital for a week, he beat me so bad. Rita says you're all right - for a Fed - and if you tossed Luis' ass in prison I guess I owe you one." She turned her attention back to the phone. "I gotta go, chica. Thanks." She handed Don the phone back and he sat down on the couch next to her. "So the Eppes that got plucked out of the Prius this morning? He's family?"

"My brother Charlie."

Trina nodded. "He's alive and he'll stay that way until the man behind this gets what he wants or until he figures out he's not going to. That doesn't give you much time, but it's how they work."

"Who?"

"I don't know which family, but Rita's right, this was a mob job. It just wasn't Italians who grabbed your brother. It was two local guys who took it on as a job for hire. They just had to pick up the guy and deliver him to get paid so they did it, even though they know it's not smart to do jobs for the mob."

"Do you know any more details?"

"A little since I was one of the girls in the room when they got the call. They think we're invisible," she scoffed. "Seriously, I make more money as an informant than I do dancing because these idiots can't keep their mouths shut when they're thinking with their dicks." She let out a puff of smoke with a sound of disgust. "I know they were given some kind of drug to knock him out with." She paused for a moment, not immune to Don's distress. "It's better that way," she said softly. "He might not even remember anything when he wakes up."

Don nodded, forcing himself to remain stoic. "Please, go on."

"I heard them say La Tuna which is an exit off the 210 Freeway, not too far from here. It's a pretty well known spot for deals to go down. It's got a big underpass and no businesses around for at least a half mile so prime real estate for criminals. I'm guessing they had your brother in their car and transferred him over to the other car there when they got paid."

"Anything else?"

Trina shook her head. "I wish I could tell you more, but I don't even know the names of the guys. I just recognize them as locals. I can send you to someone who would know them though. He knows all the action around here."

"I'd appreciate it," Don said sincerely.

Trina smiled at him as she put out her cigarette. "Yeah, you really do seem like a good guy. Okay, so listen. You want to take La Tierra Boulevard east until it dead ends. There's an air conditioning company there. Go in and ask for Esteban. Tell him you have a message from Trina."

"What's the message?"

"Bite me."

"You can't be serious." Don looked at Trina who only stared back at him, impatiently. "Okay, that's the message," he conceded.

Trina got up and Don rose as well.

"Listen, even though you didn't know it, you did me a big favor by getting Luis out of my life. You might need a bargaining chip with the mob to get your brother back, so I'll give you what little I have in case it comes in handy. Everyone's looking for Valente, the Bookman right? Well, the word among us girls is that his mistress Maita has been buying up half of Key West in the stores. You follow her and I bet she'll lead you to Bookman. I can't imagine there are many half-Indian half-black former strippers in Key West so she shouldn't be hard to find, even without a last name."

"Maita as in M-A-I-T-A?" Don asked, writing the information in his notebook.

"Yeah, she used to work at clubs here in L.A. before she moved to New York, so a few girls knew her."

"Thanks, Trina. I really appreciate your help."

"No problema. Now go find your brother. I hope he's okay."

Don's grip on his notebook tightened unconsciously. "I do too."

As Trina took the stage, Don left the club and got into his father's car. He fished around the glove compartment for a map and opened it up in front of him. He found the La Tuna Canyon exit off the 210 freeway between the Lowell exit and the Sunland exit.

"Sunland..." he muttered to himself, remembering the kidnapper's words. He scanned the map as he repeated the phrase "east of the sun and west of the moon." His eyes alighted next on La Crescenta. "La Crescenta - the crescent moon..." he murmured in disbelief. "East of Sunland and West of La Crescenta..." The map clearly showed that only one community fell in between those two areas - Tujunga, which included the La Tuna Canyon freeway exit.

Don flipped open his phone and speed dialed excitedly. "Megan! I have a lead for you guys to follow. Focus your search for Charlie in Tujunga..."

+

Dropping Trina's name got him in to see Esteban in his back office and Don stood waiting as Esteban finished up a phone call.

"So..." he said as he hung up the call. "You're a friend of Trina's?"

Don shrugged noncommittally.

"And she has a message for me? What's the message?"

Don looked Esteban in the eye and showed no fear. "She says 'bite me.'"

A second passed then Esteban burst into laughter. "Sit down, sit down," he urged Don with a gesture towards one of his guest chairs. "Trina must really like you and believe you've got some big cojones to say that to me."

Don sat down, a bit relieved. "Well, I figured it must be some sort of code between you two, to weed out anyone who just claims to be friends with her."

"Ah, a smart man... I like smart men in my organization. You looking for a job?"

"I'm looking for my brother." Don pulled a photo of him and Charlie out of his pocket and handed it to Esteban. "Charles Eppes. He was abducted this morning and I'm trying to find him."

"Eppes... Yes, I thought the name sounded familiar." He handed the photo back to Don. "I know the men who did the job, but you don't want them. They don't know anything and they don't have your brother any longer. I can tell you that it was the Gaspari crime family that wanted him. Why, I don't know, but they've been making noise around here for the last few weeks."

"Do you think there's any chance they could be in Tujunga?"

"A good chance. That whole area's off the cops' radar. It's such a sleepy burg no one expects anything major going on there, which makes it perfect. If they wanted to lay low, that wouldn't be a bad place to do it."

"How can I find the Gasparis?"

"You can't find them, since they're all in New York, but I know someone who might be able to get you closer to their people here." Esteban stood up and pulled a set of keys from his desk drawer. "Come on. I'll drive. Your car's safe in the parking lot."

Don folded himself into Esteban's Porsche and barely managed to buckle his seat belt before Esteban floored it and they raced out onto the city streets heading for the freeway.

+

The mansions of Bel Air all looked alike to Don, especially since all you could see of them was their security gates.

Esteban's Porsche pulled up in front of a guard station and the gate was opened for him with just a nod. He parked in the circular driveway and Don followed him up the front steps of the palatial estate.

An attractive blonde woman opened the door and beckoned them inside wordlessly. They followed her to a large office with floor to ceiling windows looking out over the verdant grounds. She shut the door behind them, leaving them alone with the room's sole inhabitant.

A short Asian man was speaking in rapid Mandarin using a wireless earpiece. He held up a finger to Esteban who nodded back then went to pour himself a drink while he waited.

"My apologies," the man said when he apparently had ended the call. He removed his earpiece and laid it on his desk before approaching them.

"Westley Chiu, this is Don Eppes." Esteban introduced them and the two men shook hands.

"Eppes. I guess I don't have to ask why you brought him here, do I?"

"Nope. You'll take care of him, then?" Esteban asked.

"I will."

"Cool." Esteban clapped Don on the arm. "Good luck, man. Hope you find him. Later, Wes!"

Before Don could protest, Esteban was out the door and Westley was ushering him to a seat.

"So, what can I do for you Mr. Eppes?"

"I'm looking for my brother." Don handed the photo of him and Charlie to Westley. "Charles Eppes. He was abducted this morning and I'm trying to find him."

Westley looked at the photo for a few seconds before handing it back to Don. "Well, I can tell you it was representatives of the Gaspari family who were after him and that they've got a base of operations in Tujunga, although I'm not sure where."

"He was supposedly taken to trade for Antony Mazano. Why?"

"Mazano's... I don't know the term in Italian, but it means protected. It's like diplomatic immunity, but for the mob it's like a hands off policy. When someone is marked like that you don't mess with him, else you risk the whole family coming down on you."

"So Mazano's part of the Gaspari crime family?"

"That's the thing, he's not. He has no official ties to them, yet he's under their protection anyway. Someone is obviously looking out for him, but I don't know why. I do know someone who might know though. He might have a lead for you on the Tujunga base."

"Great. Who is this person and where do I find him?"

"Oh, you won't get anywhere near him without me," Westley said, walking over to his desk. He pushed a button on the intercom and spoke. "Have the Ferrari brought around front. I have an errand to run."

+

Don couldn't believe they didn't get pulled over considering how fast and how recklessly Westley drove.

Westley pulled the Ferrari into a no parking zone right in front of an old style boxing gym.

A gangly black teenager stared lazily at them from the gym entrance doorway. As Westley approached him, he peeled a bill off his thick billfold then stuffed it in the young man's shirt pocket. "So Delroy, if you keep an eye on my car, I'll introduce that bill to a few friends."

Delroy pulled the bill from his pocket and glanced at the denomination with a toothy smile.

"No problem, Mr. Chiu."

Don followed Westley into the gym. Huge fans were forcefully blowing air on the hot sweaty boxers as they punched bags and sparred in the ring.

Westley stopped at the second ring and yelled out, "Left hook, Southpaw! They'll never see it coming!"

One of the men broke off from the fight, waving his sparring partner off as he approached Westley.

"Well, look at Chiu!"

"That's about as funny as my left hook joke," Westley grumbled good-naturedly. "Can you spare some time?"

"Sure, man. Give me a minute."

The man removed his gear and grabbed a towel from his corner before slipping nimbly between the ropes to join Don and Westley on the gym floor.

"Southpaw Jackson, this is Don Eppes."

"Eppes? As in?" Westley nodded as Southpaw shook Don's hand.

"So you'll give him a hand?" Westley asked.

"Yeah, no problem."

"Good luck, Mr. Eppes. I hope you find him," Westley said with a small nod of his head. "See you, Southpaw!"

As Westley left, Southpaw steered Don towards the locker room where he took a seat on one of the benches and gestured for Don to join him.

"So you need a hand with something?"

"I'm looking for my brother." Don showed the photo of him and Charlie to Southpaw. "Charles Eppes. He was abducted this morning and I'm trying to find him."

"Well, you've got quite a task in front of you. The Gasparis don't like to be found."

"So far my leads point to Tujunga, but I'm not sure where."

"Tujunga's not a big community, but it's also not a very ritzy one. The only neighborhood nice enough to warrant the Gasparis' attention is Seven Hills. It's secluded, but it also backs up onto the National Forest so it's easy to get lost quickly if you need an escape route."

"Seven Hills, that's the part furthest from the freeway, right? I think I saw it on the map."

"Yeah, that's it. I've heard whispers that the action is going down in Seven Hills, but I know someone who could tell you for sure."

"That would be great. Is there anything else you can tell me?"

"Like?"

"Like why the Gasparis are protecting Antony Mazano."

Southpaw raised his eyebrows with a hint of surprise. "I guess that's a more closely guarded secret than I realized. Mazano's not officially a member of the Gaspari family, but he is unofficially. So unofficially he didn't even know it until recently."

Don furrowed his brow in confusion. "How could someone not know they were part of a mob family?"

"There's more than one definition of family," Southpaw said with a knowing smile.

Don's mind made the connection right away. "Mazano's illegitimate! He didn't know his father was part of the Gaspari family!"

"Not just part of, he is a Gaspari - Joseph to be precise. That's why Mazano's protected. He's blood kin, even if he didn't find out until recently."

"So they took my brother as leverage to get Mazano out of jail. He might not be part of their organization, but no way Joe Gaspari's going to let his kid rot in jail."

"You've got it."

Don put his head in his hands for a moment. "There's no way they're going to just let him go."

"I know that and you know that," Southpaw said. "But it's not like they have a lot of options, so they're trying it."

Don sat up and looked at Southpaw. "So you know someone who knows where Gaspari's people are."

"Yeah," Southpaw answered. He stood up and opened up one of the lockers, pulling out a motorcycle helmet, which he handed to Don. "Let's go see him."

+

Southpaw's motorcycle was an urban bike, built for speed, and he rode it well - even with a passenger. Don practically held his breath each time he cut it close, racing through small gaps between cars, blowing through newly red lights and taking curves at dangerously high speeds.

They pulled up alongside a black stretch limousine parked in front of a nightclub called Venti. Two large men glared at them from the sidewalk as Southpaw tapped at the chauffeur's window.

The window rolled down only about an inch.

"Tell Norton Southpaw's here. I brought someone to see him."

The window rolled back up again and after a few seconds the rear window rolled down. Southpaw backed up the bike and peered into the darkness.

"It's cool, he's with me. You're good."

"You can't be too careful these days," the voice manifested itself into a face as the man drew closer to the open window.

"Norton, this is Don Eppes."

"Eppes... Interesting..."

"You know what he's here for?"

"I do."

"Are you going to help him?"

There was a brief pause.

"Let's take a ride, Mr. Eppes."

Don handed the helmet back to Southpaw.

"Good luck to you. I hope you find him."

Southpaw rode off as Don got into the limousine with Norton.

"Drive," Norton ordered the chauffeur. "Head for Seven Hills."

Once his eyes adjusted, Don could see that Norton was impeccably dressed in an expensive suit, almost as dark as his jet-black hair.

"So, I know why you're here, but tell me anyway."

"I'm looking for my brother." Don flashed the photo of him and Charlie to Norton who barely even glanced at it. "Charles Eppes. He was abducted this morning and I'm trying to find him."

"Finding him is only part of the problem, Mr. Eppes. Once you've located him, how do you intend on getting him out?"

"I'm just working this one step at a time," Don admitted.

Norton glanced at his watch. "Well then, now's the time to start thinking a few steps ahead. I know where your brother is being held and we're on our way there now. You have about thirty minutes to figure out what you're going to do once we get there."

"I'm assuming that calling the police isn't an option in your eyes."

Norton huffed. "Only if you want to get your brother killed. The compound is like an armory, well guarded and filled with weapons. If you want him out alive, your best chance is to have a plan, not just a gun." He waved a hand towards where Don's gun was under his coat.

Don looked at him closely. "I need more information before I come up with a plan."

Norton put out his hands in front of him in a gracious gesture. "We have a half hour. Ask me anything and I'll tell you all I can."

+

When the limousine pulled up in front of the gated compound in Seven Hills, Don paused for a moment then handed his holstered gun to Norton.

Norton nodded solemnly. "Good luck," he said, as Don opened the door to get out.

Don crossed the street and nodded at the man guarding the gate.

"Hey," he said, acting casual. "I've come to talk business. Let me in."

The man just looked at him. "Get lost."

Don wrinkled his nose and shook his head. "I don't think so. Me and my limo are here until my business is done, so you should probably let me in before we attract too much attention."

The man stood towering over Don even on the other side of the gate. "Give me one reason why I should listen to you?"

"Bookman."

The man's eyes lit up. "Bookman?"

"Yeah. I know where he is and I'm here looking to share that information?"

"What's the catch?" the guard asked warily.

"Catch?" Don said, acting slightly annoyed. "I expect to get paid for this information, you idiot. Everyone wants Bookman right now and I'm selling the bastard off to the highest bidder. Now if you don't want him, I can take my business elsewhere." Don pretended to turn to leave.

"Hold on!" the man said. He stepped away and spoke into his cell phone briefly. When he came back, he opened the gate to Don. "Go on in."

"Thank you," Don said, acting a bit exasperated as he headed up the long driveway to the stone mansion hidden behind the tall fence.

+

Once he was inside, Don refused to give his name, working his way through several levels of heavily armed flunkies, always refusing to talk until he was speaking to the man in charge.

When they finally ushered him into a richly furnished study, he pulled the piece of paper from Mama Kay from his pocket and held it in his hand.

An elderly man sat behind the large burnished wood desk as a middle-aged man stood at his right side.

"So," the old man began. "You come bearing information on Bookman, do you?"

Don held up the paper. "I do, but if you don't mind, I'd prefer to talk to the man in charge alone." Don shifted his gaze to the middle-aged man with a knowing stare.

The man held his gaze for a moment, then put his hand on the older man's shoulder. "Leave us," he said softly.

The old man looked confused, but got up and left regardless.

"Can I get you a drink, Mister..."

"No, and names aren't important. Well, two of them are."

"Two?" the man said, gesturing to a chair for Don as he settled himself behind the desk.

"Yes. Valente and Eppes."

"Valente is the name on everyone's lips these days. There isn't anyone who doesn't want their hands on the Bookman." He looked into his drink as he spoke. "Eppes is not a name I'm familiar with."

Don stood up. "Well then, I'm afraid we can't do business then."

"Wait!" the man beckoned to him to be seated again. "Fine. I know both names."

"Good, because I'm interested in a trade."

"A trade?"

"I know where Bookman is. In return I want cash and the math genius Eppes."

"Why would you want a mathematician? And if you truly know where Bookman is, why not go after him yourself? He's the one with all the money."

"First off, I'm not in the business. I suppose you could say Bookman is my competition, and while I'm not in the business of eliminating my competition, I can say I'd be happy if he was eliminated. He gives my profession a bad name."

"Ah, so you handle someone else's books."

"I'm an independent, you could say. I have a few clients and I keep pretty clean personally. Hey, I'm just looking to make enough to pay for my kids to go to nice Ivy League colleges. I have no interest in winding up in prison."

"Yet you want custody of a man who's been kidnapped? Doesn't that make you an accessory?"

Don shrugged. "I have a lot of kids. I need to make more money. A math genius is just what I need to pump up business enough to get me into the tax bracket I feel I richly deserve. I'm sure he'll be grateful enough for me saving him that he'll gladly help me out with my financial work."

"And if he doesn't?"

"Well I am asking for cash as well. I'm not stupid. My father did teach me though, that it's better to own something that makes money for you than to just have money. I think this math genius is my ticket to a lifetime of money making - one that's far safer than going after Bookman myself."

The man nodded. "There's only one problem. We have our own need for Eppes. We can't just let him go."

"I heard. Word travels fast when you know all the right people," Don bragged. "So you give me Eppes and I hold onto him until you see Mazano's out. The Feds don't have to know you're not the one holding him. And if they don't let Mazano go?" Don shrugged. "You still don't have to worry about him. If he even thinks about talking I have more than enough clients who'll do me a favor and shut him up for good. It's in their best interest."

The man looked at him suspiciously. "How do I know you're telling the truth about knowing where Bookman is?"

Don got up and tossed the piece of paper on the man's desk. "That's the name of his boat."

The man opened the paper and glanced at it, before handing it back to Don. "We already knew his boat's name was the Icarus. There are hundreds of boats with that name registered all over the world."

"Yes, but I know where the boat is now."

Don settled back into his chair with a gloating grin on his face. The man looked uncertain for a moment before he appeared to make up his mind.

"How much cash are we talking about?"

"Half a mil. I figure Bookman's worth at least twenty or thirty mil, so a half million's a fair finder's fee. I'll take 250,000 dollars when I pick up Eppes and give you the information and the rest once you find Bookman. After all, fair's fair."

The man nodded. "Anything else you want?"

"Yeah, I want to make sure your goons didn't hurt the genius. I want him for his brain so if they whacked him in the head when they grabbed him, he might be brain damaged or something. I want to make sure I'm getting my money's worth."

"I can assure you, the man is fine."

"Assure all you want. I want to see him, make sure for myself."

The man sighed. "Very well." He got up and walked Don to the door of the study. The armed guard standing outside looked at him expectantly. "Take our guest up to see Dr. Eppes."

Don followed the guard upstairs and into a back bedroom, nodding at the other guard sitting in a chair outside the door with a semiautomatic pistol in his lap and an automatic rifle beside him.

It took all of Don's self-control not to react when he saw Charlie's motionless form sprawled on top of the bed before him.

"He's drugged to keep him asleep so he won't be a bother," the guard explained.

Don made a show of checking Charlie for injuries, grateful inside when he found none. He seemed a little warm and Don hoped that only meant he'd been coming down with a cold when they grabbed him.

"How am I supposed to be sure he's got all his faculties if he's asleep?" he complained. "I'll have to come back later."

The guard walked him out and Don tried to walk slowly, memorizing as much of the house layout as he could.

"I have one more offer to check up on, but tell your boss I'll be back soon if he's ready to seal the deal."

The guard nodded his understanding and closed the door behind Don as he walked out.

Don made it all the way to the limousine and got in without breaking character.

Once inside, Norton saw the look on his face and handed him a scotch. "Drive," he told the chauffeur. "Now."

+

Winter Tales - East of the Sun West of the Moon Part 2
 
 
 
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on January 20th, 2009 03:51 am (UTC)
Confession Part 1
This fic was written as a birthday gift for my friend asemic... In 2006, that is. I did get it done in time and emailed it to her on her birthday that year, but it wasn't ready for publication then so I held it. And held it. I tried to publish it in 2007, but it still wasn't ready. Eventually I managed a new and much longer ending for it and promptly put it aside to wait for this year's birthday. It's three years too late, and Ley's no longer in the Numb3rs fandom, but it had to come out and today being her birthday was ideal.

If you haven't already read the fairy tale this Winter Tale is based on, you really should. You can't properly appreciate the fic without it IMHO. Here are the two versions (they vary) that I based mine on, links given to me by Ley herself to work from: East of the Sun West of the Moon and East of the Moon and West of the Sun.
(Amusingly there is a YA novel called East (the nickname I've long used for this fic) based on this tale in which the bear's name is - wait for it - Charles! LOL)

The basics of the fairy tale's plot, and how I used it in the fic, are as follows:

It starts with an untenable mortal peril situation involving loved ones that only Don/Girl can solve by saying yes to what benefactor Charlie/Bear requests (Don lets Charlie work the case)
Charlie/Bear resolves situation and takes Don/Girl to their home to stay with them
Don/Girl is stuck in the house with nothing to do and can't bear it
Don/Girl is forbidden to do something somewhere else (go to work vs talk to mom/sister) and if they do bad things will happen and they will lose their Charlie/Bear
They do said forbidden thing and end up losing their Charlie/Bear as a result
Evil parental figure is behind the taking/keeping of Charlie/Bear
Don/Girl embarks on a dangerous solo long journey to get Charlie/Bear back
Three women help Don/Girl on this quest (Mama Kay is the closest to the crone on the porch in the original tale)
Each woman gives Don/Girl something that helps them later
Each sends Don/Girl on to the next woman
The final woman sends Don/Girl to the first wind
The winds each pass Don/Girl on to the next wind to continue their journey
(Four winds: Esteban - East, Westley - West, Southpaw - South, Norton - North)
The directions to get to Esteban say go east until La Tierra ends. La tierra means the earth so Don is sent to the ends of the earth, same as the tale goes to the end of the world
Norton/North Wind is the one who knows where Charlie/Bear is and transports Don/Girl there
Don/Girl finds out where Charlie/Bear is being held and must use wits to save them, including undercover work
The rescue attempt is facilitated by the three items given by the three women
Don/Girl gets in to see Charlie/Bear three times - the first two times they are sleeping, unable to be woken because they were drugged, with the third time being the one that facilitates the rescue
Charlie/Bear is awake the third time due to involvement from someone on the inside and is a participant in their own rescue
Don/Girl is reunited with Charlie/Bear and the evil captors get their comeuppance (in this case jail as the FBI swoop in to arrest them all in Seven Hills and Key West)
And they live happily ever after ;-)

FWIW the original ending had Charlie fine. The new ending is the violent reaction to the second drug, the ensuing H/C between Don and Charlie and the epilogue mentioning Bradford who didn't exist when the first draft was written. That's the only part that makes me glad I waited.

Please read Confession Part 2 for more random comments on the fic.

So Ley, I'm sorry this is so late. I wish you all the best for your birthday and the year to come. I know whatever I offer will always be too little too late, but know that I care about you and there will always be a place in my heart for you no matter how far away you are.

Very special thanks to betas melissima and asemic for their assistance with this fic.

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais

Edited at 2009-01-20 04:18 am (UTC)
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on January 20th, 2009 03:52 am (UTC)
Confession Part 2
Some random comments about the fic...

The three women in the tale were fairly identical so I wanted to shift that and make them as different as I could.
Three female informants: stripper, restaurant owner/waitress, old blind black woman
Rita has red hair but is Italian/speaks Italian (a nod to Max Martini aka Billy Cooper, redheaded Italian who yes, speaks fluent Italian)
Trina is Hispanic and speaks Spanish
Mama Kay is black (and I love her bellowing for her son Harlan)

I did a lot with the four men who represented the winds.
Esteban owns an air conditioning company: air/wind
Westley lives in Bel Air - another air/wind reference
Southpaw's gym has big fans blowing air/making wind
Norton parks his limo outside the club he owns, called Venti (not just a size of Starbucks latte, Venti is the Roman god of the winds)
More variety in race/ethnicity: Esteban - Latino, Westley - Asian, Southpaw - Black, Norton - Italian (explaining why he knows the most about the Italian mafia)
Each of them drives a fast vehicle 'like the wind': Porsche, Ferrari, urban street bike, limo (because who's going to pull one of them over? /hides Vice/)
Westley is the hero's name from The Princess Bride (As you wiiiisssshhh!)
Westley is Asian, which you'd think would make him the East Wind, however the West Wind blows from west to east and he is shown on phone in the west talking Mandarin to the east
Southpaw is a black Southerner and wind from the south is often hot ergo hot sweaty boxers with big fans on them
Southpaw is a term for a left handed boxer thus Westley's bad left hook joke

The following are real, in California and exist just as described in the fic:
Pasadena, Monrovia (part of the San Gabriel Valley)
Sunland, Tujunga (including the Seven Hills neighborhood), La Crescenta - All part of the Crescenta Valley
Bel Air (near Beverly Hills)
South Central L.A. (pretty much self-explanatory)
210 Freeway, La Tuna Canyon exit, Lowell exit, Sunland exit
La Tierra, although I can't seem to find the street on the map anymore despite having driven it (it might have been renamed in the intervening years for all I know)
California Boulevard (near the real Cal Tech aka Cal Sci)
Lompoc Federal Prison

Also...
Pelican Landing Marina in Key West is real and in Florida as described
New York City does have a Little Italy neighborhood

The following are not real:
El Dorado strip club
Rita's Diner

Don's driver's license says he lives in Montrose which actually is part of the Crescenta Valley and right by Pasadena where the Eppes house supposedly is (even though Charlie's driver's license says Los Angeles - which is where the real Craftsman house is)

Seven Hills in Tujunga is where parts of ET were shot; it is the only nice area in Tujunga and the whole area backs up onto National Forest

All the mob names are made up (naturally), however Gaspari comes from an Italian restaurant in Seattle

If there's NY mob activity in SoCal I have no clue about it at all
I don't know if there is a mob or Italian term for protected, but it seemed familiar to me so it might exist

In the first draft Charlie had a silver BMW roadster (hot car!) because I started this fic before we had canon on his car, but now he has a 2006 Prius, which I don't like as much

Negotiation theory is real

The Wikipedia entry for East of the Sun West of the Moon says also see Cupid and Psyche - a myth which I used to write a story in the Cupid fandom for yuletide a year ago (one of the story links also references the Cupid and Psyche tale as being related to East)

I have no idea why these three quotes were in my notes for this fic, but I am including them here, trusting there was once a reason now lost in the sands of time.

"The pope and a peasant know more between them than the pope alone"

"One pair of ears would exhaust a hundred tongues."

"To him who is determined it remains only to act"
Tori Lovelostandalone22 on January 21st, 2009 10:23 pm (UTC)
This is really good. I liked it.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on January 21st, 2009 11:09 pm (UTC)
Yay! Thanks for reading it - I know it's really long.
angel_kitsune7 on February 12th, 2009 10:09 am (UTC)
and i like it that way.... :D. thanks again for the great fic