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[personal profile] aleo_70
Title: Choices
Author: [info]aleo_70
Rating: PG 13+
Genre: Gen
Characters: Don Eppes, David Sinclair, Colby Granger, Charlie Eppes, Alan Eppes, OMCs - Scott Nelson and Paul Nelson
Disclaimer: I don't own them, I just borrowed them.  Numb3rs and its characters are the property of those that created them.  No copyright infringement intended.  No financial reward gained.  All real places and organisations are used in a fictional sense.  Anything you don't recognise is a product of my imagination.
Spoilers: Arrow of Time, Fifth Man, Pilot.
Warnings: violence
Word count this chapter: ~2990
Word count total: ~44,000

Summary: Making a choice is one thing, surviving the consequences that follow is something else altogether.  Third instalment of Nelson series following Flight and Crosshairs - Brad escapes but danger for Don comes from an unexpected quarter.


“Eppes,” Wright greeted. The Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office stood and waved the entering agent to a seat.

“Sir,” Special Agent Don Eppes responded, managing to keep the question from his tone as he sat. On the way up in the elevator he’d been wracking his brain for an explanation for this sudden summons to immediately present himself to the ADIC. Even more alarmingly he had been ushered straight into Wright’s office.

“You would remember Bradley James Nelson,” Wright stated. There was certainly no question in his voice knowing all too well that his agent would remember the young man. At the slight nod he continued, “He was being moved this morning to hospital.”

“I received the alert,” Don advised. The notification order placed on the prisoner ensured he was kept up to date on any and all movements into or out of any holding facility. Today he was off to hospital for a scan, some stomach issue or the other. So far Brad Nelson had been moved several times without mishap but he had a sudden suspicion that was not the case this time if Wright was telling him of it. “Something’s happened hasn’t it?”

“He’s escaped.”

Even expecting it a jolt still went through him but he simply nodded calmly. He’d felt much the same back when Buck Winters escaped with one very important difference; he felt no guilt over his dealings with this young man. The fact that Brad Nelson had escaped and was free meant a budding psychopath was on the loose. “The local office is on it?”

“They’ve detailed the job to Fugitive Recovery but are running out the inquiries on their end.” Wright confirmed. “US Marshals have been advised and a BOLO is about to go out to all the locals between there and here.”

Don stood. “Good. Then I’ll get back to work if there’s nothing else?”

“No, that’s all. I’ve asked that they keep us fully updated.”


Arriving back on his floor he stopped off at David and Colby’s cubicle. He saw Nikki looking over from her desk and waved her over.

“Don?” David asked curiously as his boss seemed to hesitate once Nikki had joined them.

“Brad Nelson’s escaped.”

“That crazy dude who wants you dead?” Nikki got in first.

“When?” David demanded.

“This morning.”

“From the prison?” Colby chimed in.

“On a movement to hospital.”

“So what’s the plan?” David asked.

Don knew what he meant but shrugged it off. “No plan. We keep on with what we’re doing. Fugitive Recovery is on it along with the Marshal Service. A BOLO is due out any time now. There’s a lot of ground between there and here.”

David shook his head at Don’s efforts to sound blasé. He’d interviewed the fugitive after he’d been arrested and the constant threats against his boss were too hard to ignore. “Not enough. He was very clear on his intentions if he ever got the chance.”

“I know, David,” Don said as he pushed off from the edge of David’s desk. “But that was a long time ago and unless there are any further developments we keep on as normal. How did you go with contacting Sturgess?”

Despite asking for the report to distract his team he barely listened as David ran down what the witness had given him over the phone. He’d watched a couple of the interviews with Brad Nelson and clearly recalled the vehemence of the younger man’s threats. His memory was no less clear despite it being almost four years ago. David finished up, stating that the witness was available now.

Don snapped himself out of it, “Colb, Nikki?”

“On it, boss.” Nikki nodded at Colby and the two headed out to bring the witness in for a formal statement.

“Don?” David had noted Don zoning out during his report.

“We’ve done it before,” Don said lightly. “They’ll keep us updated with the hunt.” Forestalling any further argument he returned to his own desk.

A few minutes later he saw the email come through. Clicking on the link he was rewarded with the latest image of the fugitive, taken this morning before he left the jail. The hard eyes stared straight into the camera with the head tilted back slightly in an all too common display of arrogance affected by many prisoners. It might have been a trick of his imagination but he thought he could see a slight smirk about the man’s lips. It was a while before he scrolled down the alert and read the text. The transport van had been ambushed after another vehicle rammed into it at an intersection. The guards had tried to fight it out but one was killed and the other had been forced to surrender after also being shot. It wasn’t clear how many offenders were involved, the injured guard had been taken straight to surgery but Brad was gone, his empty chains left in the van. He moved the email to his BOLO folder and got back to work.

The witness, Sturgess, had been and gone when he received a second summons to the top floor.

“An update?” David asked as he announced where he was going.

“I assume so.”

David watched him go and was not so sure it was as simple as that, an update could be given far easier over the phone.

Once again Don was waved straight into the ADIC’s office.

“They’ve completed the search of Nelson’s cell,” Wright said without preamble. It was normal procedure that a prisoner’s cell would be thoroughly searched in such circumstances. “They’ve found a series of notes, more like diary entries actually. Their content is rather concerning.”

“Let me guess, more threats against me,” Don deduced. He would have been surprised if they hadn’t found any.

“Indeed. You figure very prominently in those notes. He blames you for everything that has happened to his father and now his own incarceration.” He waved his hand at his screen, “His last psych eval backs it all up, if anything he’s become more fixated on you.”

“A fan,” Don tried for humour but it fell flat and Wright moved on.

“Those threats and his escape suggest you are at risk. We’ll be making a further assessment as more information comes in but in the meanwhile,” Wright paused briefly.

“I’ll take the usual precautions.”

“I’m thinking we need to start making preparations,” Wright said with a shake of his head. Glancing at his watch he continued, “Go home and pack a bag.”

“Sir, that’s not necessary,” Don protested, knowing where this was leading. It hadn’t been necessary after Buck’s escape so he didn’t see why it was now.

Wright held up his hand to interrupt. “What we’re finding so far is starting to indicate this may well be necessary, Agent. Some further information you may not be aware of; we can’t seem to locate his father or his brother at the moment. It is early and we’re not quite there yet but I’m going to start making the arrangements. Go home and pack. Expect a call with an all clear, or agents for a move. Until then stay put.”

“But, sir,” Don tried again. “We’re in the middle of a case, I can’t just leave.”

“You got a cell, haven’t you? And a laptop with full remote access, yes? If anyone from your section needs guidance they can call. You go home and you wait. I’m not having another Winters. Are we clear?”

“Yes, sir,” Don turned and left the office.

Wright’s tone and the reminder about Buck left him no doubt that he had no say in the matter even if he still felt it was an overreaction. Buck had been out for revenge, just as it was likely Brad was now, but he’d not been sent home to prepare for protective custody last time. Entering the elevator after a wait he grudgingly had to allow that it was probably because of how he’d handled Buck’s threats that Wright was taking such a hard line. He still thought it potential overkill, Brad was certainly insistent on his desire for revenge but it had not gone so well for him last time. The sensible thing now he was in the wind was to stay there, perhaps make for Mexico as he’d intended once he was done last time. Brad was smart enough to recognise that showing himself in LA was a sure path to recapture.

The elevator deposited him back on his floor. Much as it grated a clear order had been given by his boss and that was that. Letting out a deep sigh he strode out and once again called his team together.

David nodded once Don had finished, he’d been expecting something like this. “When you’re ready we’ll come with.”

“No,” Don countermanded. “We’re finally making progress on this job and I’m not having this set us back. Stay and keep on it. I’ll have my laptop so send me all the reports and I want regular updates.”

“At least one of us can-” Nikki started.

“No. We’re not letting this crew get away because of one fugitive,” Don said firmly. “Keep on it. I’ll let you know if anything changes.”

David followed Don as he went to his desk. “Are you sure you should be alone? If the ADIC is leaning towards protective custody you should have someone with you.”

“Even if there was any way he could be near the city this quickly he’s far less likely to find me at home than here, David. I’ll be fine.”

David reluctantly got back to work as Don quickly cleared his desk, signing some urgent reports before shutting down his computer. He gathered up a few final things and headed out.

As he’d earlier promised he took precautions, despite the fact the timings and distances involved suggested it would be nigh on impossible for Brad to have reached Los Angeles as yet. He checked the traffic behind him more carefully and took a few different turns and even a run on a freeway before driving into the secure basement parking lot at his apartment building. A scan of the lot showed nothing out of the ordinary and his apartment door had no signs of tampering. Despite his words to David he put his stuff down just inside the door and did a quick sweep, all was exactly as he’d left it this morning.

Before he did anything else he knew it was time to make the call he’d been avoiding.


“Hi, Dad.”

“Donny? What are you doing? Aren’t you at work?” Alan asked, clear puzzlement in his voice. Whilst he loved hearing from his son a call in the middle of the day like this was unusual.

“Yeah, well, sort of,” Don started then explained why he may need to disappear for a while.

“Oh my God,” Alan finally breathed after his son finished. He remembered the name Brad Nelson all too well. “Why aren’t they protecting you now? What are they waiting for, an engraved invitation?”

“Dad,” Don objected. His hand automatically ran down his face as he paced across his living room. “Listen, there’s nothing concrete at all about this. He was probably just blowing off steam. It’s not the first time someone we’ve arrested has been disgruntled.”

“Disgruntled? Is that what you call it?” Alan countered. “He went to a lot of effort last time.”

“He had a specific goal in mind then, remember?” This was so not going the way he’d hoped it would.

“He very nearly pulled it off too,” Alan responded. He knew exactly what the fugitive’s goal had been just as he knew what he could well be working towards now, “He’s dangerous, Donny.”

On that he had to agree, remembering all too clearly what Brad was capable of. It had only been through the intervention of Scott Nelson, Brad’s father that he’d escaped relatively lightly when he’d been at the young man’s mercy. “I know, Dad.”

There was a heavy sigh. “Look, at least promise me that you’ll take precautions until you hear for sure.”

“I will,” he glanced at the chain across the door, a feature he rarely used while not sleeping. He was taking it seriously.

“Call me,” Alan ordered. Exposure to his son’s work had given him an understanding into how protective custody worked so he amended his words, “Or have someone call me.”
“I will,” Don promised.

“Alright. Have you called your brother?”

His hand rubbed through his hair again at the question. It had been hard enough telling his father about the potential threat and how seriously the Bureau was taking it. His father had learned however to accept the consequences of his son’s job. Charlie on the other hand was used to getting involved. “He’s got late lectures today. I thought that, perhaps when he got home, you-“

“I’ll tell him,” Alan let him off the hook.

“And Dad, if they ramp this up I want you to stay clear. Both of you. Don’t go to the office; don’t come around here to check the apartment.”

There was another heavy sigh as Alan heard the concern and finally knew his son was taking the threat seriously despite trying to down play it. “I understand, son. I’ll keep your brother from running over.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

His next call was to Robin but locked away at her high level conference in Washington he only got her voice mail. Contact with her had been very sporadic due to the tight scheduling during the week she had already been away he wasn’t surprised. Much the same was expected for this second and final week. He left as detailed a message as he could before the time limit for the recording was reached.

After packing a bag and setting it by the door Don got back to work. The rest of the afternoon he spent working through various reports sent to him by agents in his section and handling numerous phone calls. He closely monitored his team’s current case and had regular updates from David, though he suspected his agent was as much keeping tabs on him as updating him. It was almost dark when he finally received the call from the ADIC.


He started shutting down the laptop. “When?”

“They should be there in a few. They’ll give you the details.”

“My family?”

“For now we’ve asked LAPD for extra patrols and have alerted campus police. We’ll keep an eye on them but our profiles at this stage don’t indicate they are in any danger.”

Don wasn’t so sure; his going into protective custody could force the fugitive to target his family to draw him out. But for now he had to accept the profiler’s read of the situation, they would have more information to hand than he did. “I’ll let them know.”

He sent a brief text to Robin with the update. He’d not needed to inquire after her security; for one thing he very much doubted she would figure on Brad’s radar. For another, she was at a secure conference, in virtual lockdown for the duration. She would be more than safe.

The call to his father he managed to keep quick but he’d only just hung up when there was a knock on his door. Given the situation he didn’t immediately look through the spy hole but instead stopped to the side of his door, “Yes?”

“Agents Brown and Stone,” a male voice announced.

Don looked down at movement and saw an ID folder appear under his door. He slid it across the floor with his foot before picking it up. It was legit. After risking a check through the spy hole he opened the door, handing the ID back to Stone.

Closing the door behind them he raised an eyebrow in question.

“Hotel room for tonight, sir, with us,” Stone explained. “The office tomorrow as usual but with a detail assigned if you need to go out.”

Don nodded, it was workable. Far better than the total exclusion he feared possible but it was still early as yet, the obviously staged increase in security as time went by testament to that. “After that?”

“A safe house is being prepared. If he’s not returned to custody by tomorrow afternoon the subject could well be in the area. We’ll gather your family and secure you all there until the threat is over.”

There wasn’t anything he could say to that other than, “Okay.” He collected his bag and laptop. “If it’s business as usual tomorrow, I’ll take my vehicle and meet you out the

The other agent stepped forward as Stone opened the door and checked the hall. “I’ll come down with you,” Brown said. He didn’t offer to take Don’s bags as his role meant he needed to keep his hands free.

Irritated, Don shook his head. He had to accept the move and the protection outside but he was still in his own building. “It’s a secure lot. Wait outside with your partner, I’ll be out soon. Black suburban,” he added unnecessarily, they should have been briefed.

Glancing at Stone Brown received a reluctant nod, “Ditto. See you outside in five.”

Relieved Don followed them out to the elevator. Whilst he outranked them both they could override him on security issues. In this case however, given that their intel suggested there was little probability of Brad being anywhere near Los Angeles as yet Stone didn’t push it.

They rode down in the same elevator, the other two agents stepping off at the ground floor before Don went to the basement alone.

Once again all looked to be normal and he unlocked his suburban putting his bags inside. Closing the rear door he walked around to the driver’s side.

He noticed the soft footfalls behind him just as they stopped.

“Hello, Agent.”

Next chapter - here


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