luciazephyr: Book of the Still, the time traveler's lifeline (Default)
[personal profile] luciazephyr
Title: Dust to Dust
Fandom: Numb3rs
Characters: Charles Eppes and Lawrence Fleinhardt
Prompt: 3. "a place between sleep and awake; end of innocence, unending masquerade"
Word Count: 1063
Rating: PG
Summary: Firing a gun and being in a shoot-out. Two drastically different things.
Author Notes: Missing scene from ‘Rampage’, dealing with Charlie suddenly being 'okay' with the shooting. Ignores the tesseract scene (as much as that pains me, 'cause I have a kink for tesseracts. *is a Madeline L'Engle fan*). A million thanks to my beta, Miriam.

---


He hadn't even sat down when the call came. Hours of finishing up research at the library to finally get home, ready to relax and see if his TiVo remembered to pick up The Daily Show for him, and of course, the phone has to ring right then. He glanced at the caller ID, hoping it was a call he could blow off until tomorrow.

Eppes Household. That'd be a no then. It might be about Charlie and with how shaken he'd been by the shooting in the FBI office, leaving him to his own devices was bound to be a mistake.

Larry set his books on the kitchen counter and picked up the phone. "What's happening? Did he have another shutdown?"

"How do you do that? Charlie jokes about you being psychic, but that's just creepy." Alan asked in a suitably hesistant voice.

"Charlie only calls me from his cell. Don's still running around on his case, one person short from what I heard, and that leaves you. What's going on?"

"Garage again. Working on the case without going in." Alan sounded weary and Larry knew it pained him to have to do this. If Alan couldn't coax his youngest out of his solitude, only one person had a decent shot at it.

"Refuses to go to where the event took place. Classic post-tramamtic." Larry blew out a breath. "I'll be over in ten."

"I'll have beers out and ready." Alan laughed. "In ten, then."

"Au revoir." Larry hit the end button and replaced the phone, then picked up his keys again. Jon Stewart would have to wait.

---

You could tell Charlie's mood from the way he worked on the chalkboard. Well, Larry could anyway. Slow and fluid taps meant it was a good day, but boring. If there were pauses in the rhythm, it was a challenging problem, but a welcome one. If the taps were fast and constant, it meant Charlie was in a rush and bothering him would only result in getting snappy, mean-spirited answers. If the chalk ever made a high-pitched screech against the board, it only meant bad things.

Larry resisted the urge to cover his ears at the screeches and violent beats he heard as he quietly walked into the garage. Charlie was definately pushing too far.

The entire environment was a warzone of mathematics and high tension. Papers where scattered in a horrible mess on the work table. A few photos were haphazardously attached to the blackboards with clothespins with a few on the floor from when they shook loose and fluttered down. The boards themselves were very telling; they all had a smoky sheen from having been dry erased too many times, a few of the old equations still visible, making the new work almost illegible.

Larry watched Charlie dance from one board to another, whipping around the room quickly, and thought 'this is what it's like inside his mind'. Chaos and nothing more. He'd rub his face, leaving chalk dust and long white streaks on his cheeks, brow, and neck. The dust clinging to to his hair added years to his apperance. It hurt to watch.

Larry walked out from the doorway, over to Charlie as he paused to look frantically at the boards, expression almost pleading to the math. Larry reached out and touched his shoulder.

Charlie startled, and badly, jumping away like he'd been burned, like he'd been shot at again- Larry realized- and crashed loudly into one of the boards. Back to the board, arms up in feeble defence, he gasped for breath as recognition slowly floated into his eyes. "Larry."

"Charles." Larry held out his hands placatingly, like Charlie was a skittish animal. "Are you al- are you hurt?" He corrected himself. He obviously wasn't alright, that was an idiotic question.

Charlie nodded and straighted up, one hand on his back where he'd hit the chalk tray. Larry looked back at the door and saw a shadow move away. Alan, checking on the sudden noise before retreating to the house. Larry sighed and turned back to Charlie, who was looking sheepishly at the floor, rubbing the back of his neck, entire posture exhausted.

"Do you know the statisical probablity of being involved in two shootings in a short time interval? Two different shootings?" Larry asked softly.

Charlie's mouth quirked into a shallow smirk. "Do you?"

Larry frowned. "Well, no, but that's beside the point."

"What do you want?" Charlie asked weakly.

Larry took a few steps over to Charlie and grabbed his hand, pulling it up. Charlie blinked, surprised. Larry ignored him and opened his hand gently and took the chalk out of his palm. He tossed the white untensil away and let go. Charlie hung his head, nodding softly.

"I'm that bad, huh?"

"Worse." Larry replied truthfully. "You're keeping the neighbors up with the racket and you look horrible.

"I feel horrible."

Larry shrugged. "And keeping in your fortress of solitude is going to help that?" He brushed at Charlie's shoulder, batting the dust away roughly. Charlie didn't respond, besides slouching more. Larry made an annoyed 'tsk' and worked at the dust Charlie had covered himself in quite effectively, running his thumb over Charlie's brow slowly, making the dust blend with Charlie's already pale skin like powder. Larry worked his hand through Charlie's hair, getting caught occassionally in the tangles, but mostly eradicating the white particles and calming Charlie with the gesture. Charlie blinked blearily up at Larry and rubbed his own cheek and looked at his hand, frowning at the dust.

"Wow, I really am looking bad."

"Uh huh." Larry pulled away, clapping his hands together to get rid of the residue. "Better?"

"Yeah. I'm sorry," Charlie said. "I got caught up and..."

"Charles, I've know you for years, more than I care to think about. You think I don't understand the way you opperate by now?"

Charlie smiled, soft but genuine. "Thank you."

"Of course." Larry turned and walked to the door. "Now, I believe your father promised me a free beer if I got you calmed down."

"Oh, so being a good friend only happens with payment now? Should I set money aside?" Charlie joked, following.

Larry stopped at the door and leaned back to look Charlie in the eye. "Only if you're planning on doing this again."

"I'm not."

"Good. Come on, then."
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