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02 May 2007 @ 11:56 pm
Numb3rs Fic: No Stone Unturned  
Written for numb3rsflashfic Challenge #35 - Rock

Title: No Stone Unturned
Pairing/Characters: Don, David, Megan
Rating: PG13
Spoilers: Judgment Call
Summary: Don struggles with the outcome of a kidnapping
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ

Other comments are housed at numb3rsflashfic.

The relentless sun, orange and heavy in the sky after a long hot day, finally touched the tops of the mountains as its assault on the parched earth drew to a close.

Don pulled his sunglasses off the top of his head and put them in his shirt pocket, wiping his sweat grimy brow before taking a long drink of no longer cool water in his canteen.

They'd been searching since morning.

Once the sun was gone the search would end.

He gazed out over the search area, taking in the dozens of agents who had labored tirelessly all day, traversing the rocky ground looking for signs of a shallow grave.

Looking for a little girl's body.

Her killer had committed suicide by cop, drawing a bead on Colby in an attempt to get the agent to fire on him.

Colby hadn't hesitated.

As he lay in a rapidly expanding pool of his own blood, fear had blossomed on his face. This monster who had stolen a child from her family, taken her life and then forced someone else to shoot him was suddenly afraid of death.

Don might have felt sorry for him, standing like a statue over him as a flurry of activity surrounded them - agents searching the rest of the house, calling for an ambulance...

But his first duty was to the victim and her family.

He crouched down and put his hand over the wound, pressing just hard enough to see the man wince.

He gave him a choice - tell them where the girl was or experience pain beyond imagining.

Don pressed harder and the man cried out in agony. Every agent in the house had stopped and turned at the unearthly keening erupting from the very pit of the man's being.

Don got his answer.

The man died twenty minutes later at the hospital. Don hoped his last minutes were filled with those same screams, that same pain rending him asunder.

He deserved no better.

Unfortunately Stoney Point covered a vast area, filled with boulders and outcroppings making the terrain and the search problematic.

No one had complained though.

They had failed to return the kidnapped girl to her family unharmed.

The least they could do was return her body to them.

Don pulled a map out of his back pocket and checked off another search grid square. The page was covered in red Xs like a treasure map, but none of them revealed what they were seeking.

With a glance to the west, he picked out an unsearched grid square that had just enough fading light left to work.

He wasn't going to give up until it was too dark to see. He knew if electricity was available anywhere nearby his team would want to put up lights and keep looking, but there was none.

Beautiful as Stoney Point was, it refused to tolerate humankind - its inhospitable nature disguised by softly rounded stone and deep green chaparral warmed by the waning glow of the setting sun.

It would be dark soon.

And cold soon after.

Drought dry plants crunched under his boots as he headed to the next square. A tiny lizard scurried across his path and disappeared, frightened, into the underbrush.

Crossing the square David was searching their eyes met briefly. David only shook his head. No words were exchanged. This was a solemn and solitary endeavor and each agent was alone with their troubled thoughts.

Fixing his position, Don took a second to steel himself again. Each agent was looking for the child. Each hoped she would be found. None of them hoped it would be them to find her.

A rare tree graced the barren landscape here, its leaves littering the ground both green and new and crisp and brown.

Ignoring the systematic search pattern he headed for the tree, drawn by thoughts culled from years of experience crawling through the murky minds of criminals.

If he were a murderer he would hide a body here.

He shook off the thought - knowing each time he swam in the mire it got harder to climb out and come clean again - and focused on what he saw before him.

He wished Ian were there, with his expert eye in reading the subtle signs the earth gives up about those who trespass upon her.

He recalled his Quantico training and scanned the area around the tree, looking for any sign that nature was not the only hand at play there.

On the far side of the tree the leaves were not distributed evenly like they were near him. There were less in some areas, more in others.

As Charlie might say, it looked statistically unlikely to have happened by chance.

Circling the tree, he crouched down amongst the detritus and brushed a pile of leaves aside to reveal blank undisturbed earth.

Charlie would also say statistically unlikely events do happen.

Undeterred, Don worked his way around, going from pile to pile finding nothing.

Glancing behind him, he saw the sun dipping down, descending unforgiving of their quest. Turning back he saw Megan approaching him.

He knew what she had come to say.

The sun could not be stayed.

His hand reached out and the crackling leaves rustled under his fingers as he pushed them aside, their quiet whispering the only sound save the first crickets of evening.

Beneath was a color not found in nature.

One neon pink shoelace lay in the loose dirt.

Digging down, the lace lead to a girl's shoe.

The shoe to a sock.

The sock to a tiny ankle.

Don pulled his hand back and closed his eyes for a second, his head bowed in silent prayer.

The earth had devoured her.

The earth had given her up.

He could bring her home now.

He looked up to find Megan standing nearby, her mouth in a grim line, her tired eyes filled with regret fixed on the partially uncovered remains before her.

When she finally looked at him he merely nodded.

She walked away to tell the others.

Unable to repress his anger - his rage at this animal who destroyed something good and pure - he moved away from the girl's grave, picked up a rock and hurled it as hard as he could.

The rock connected with a nearby boulder and shattered on impact - shards flying as the crack resounded through the hollow emptiness.

She was dead.

He failed to save a little girl.

He failed to put her murderer in jail.

He'd done his best.

His best hadn't been good enough.

As the last sliver of sunlight slid across the sandy ground and vanished, narrow beams of white light replaced it, crossing the plain in long diagonal stripes as his team escorted the coroner and her assistant to the crime scene.

Don watched for a moment, standing side by side with agents holding their flashlights on the still form unearthed from premature internment, before he stepped away into the encroaching darkness.

He walked far enough that he could not be heard and pulled out his cell phone.

A mother and father were waiting.

It had been his job to save their daughter.

Now it was his job to destroy them.

Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on May 3rd, 2007 07:02 am (UTC)
A dark fic to fit my mood today...

FWIW, Stoney Point is a real place - well known as an urban rock climbing mecca - although I envisioned them searching across the road from the main attraction in the wide open empty spaces far from Topanga Canyon Boulevard.

As beautiful as the area is I had a hard time finding a photograph to share and found none of the actual search area. I was there earlier this year, but I am no photographer sadly.

This slide show at least gives somewhat of a sense of what Stoney Point is like.

Watch it, then imagine a certain rock climbing television producer scaling the rock face. ;-)

It just so happens that nearby in Chatsworth is ranch land that was used in tons of movies and TV shows. It looked like the old West on camera, but it was just down the street from San Fernando suburbia.

Oh, and plenty of porn movie studios. /snicker/

In case you didn't notice, this is another of my pseudo experimental fic - an attempt to write in the kind of descriptive style I generally suck at. This wasn't that successful in terms of being really descriptive, but it's more than I normally do.

Personally, I really liked the lizard. /grins/

Recently someone gave me a nice shout out in the author notes of a dialogue only fic, noting my penchant for that format. I think to many people I am known as a dialogue person, even though to me I write just as many fic like this - completely devoid of dialogue.

Go figure....

Very special thanks to beta iolsai for her assistance with this fic.


Emma DeMarais
andi: Don Dark Avengeradmiralandrea on May 3rd, 2007 08:00 am (UTC)
Wow, tears in my eyes, lump in my throat time. This is *very* evocative. I love how you get inside Don's head in this. And the imagery is very powerful. I don't even need to go look at a picture to imagine this scene more easily, you draw it so well. And that last line broke me... :hugs:
NV: [n3] don // agonize over thisneur0vanity on May 3rd, 2007 09:32 am (UTC)
The imagery is so rich. I really feel for Don in this piece. Lovely work.
Karenbyrons_brain on May 3rd, 2007 09:39 am (UTC)
That was so sad... a wonderful piece of writing...
perhaps some frottage is in order: Don h0rsororcula on May 3rd, 2007 06:18 pm (UTC)
Ouch. This is fantastic. I really like your characterizations. (And I like the lizard, too.)
PhilLeeGirlphilleegirl on May 4th, 2007 11:28 pm (UTC)
Emma, this is so beautiful and sad! I have to admit that I was so wrapped up in Don's thoughts and the feel of the piece that I didn't notice that there was no dialogue until I read your Confession. Then again, I get so wrapped up in your dialogue fics that I often don't realize they are all dialogue until after I'm done reading them. Brava!
(Anonymous) on May 6th, 2007 12:06 pm (UTC)
Good. Very, very good.