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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: ~3050
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.


There was a scrape then a skittering noise that his heightened senses identified as his weapon being kicked aside to slide, spinning away out of his reach.  There was a soft footfall, then another before he felt the man’s presence immediately behind him.  He looked up and stared at their reflections in the glass as Nelson hesitated as if waiting for something.  With a sigh, Don leant forwards, bracing his weight on his hands as he assumed the position.

Nelson moved in the final pace and started running his spare hand over the agent’s body.  Don was trained in and had practiced manoeuvres that would have given him a shot at disarming Nelson but he could still see Paul out of the corner of his eye, standing back and providing cover.  Against those odds Don could only remain still as the search continued with his wallet, badge and cell phone located and taken along with his keys.  The spare magazine for his gun was tossed after the weapon.  Finally Nelson’s hand unsnapped his handcuff pouch and pulled out the cuffs.

Nelson met his gaze in the reflection.  “We are going for a ride, Agent.  I would rather you be as comfortable as possible.”

Don understood what Nelson meant; he was going to be cuffed.  His response now would make the difference between having his hands restrained in front of his body or behind.  He didn’t normally make promises he didn’t intend to keep but under the circumstances, under duress, he would take whatever advantages he was offered.  “I’ve surrendered.  I won’t fight you.”

The handcuffs were held out and he carefully took them with his right hand, pushing away from his SUV until he stood upright once again. 

“Cuff yourself.  Let me see before you lock them.” 

The order was almost a repeat of one he’d issued to Nelson back in Albuquerque after their first encounter.  Feeling a kind of reverse déjà vu the agent lowered his hands and fitted the cuffs around his own wrists.  He then turned carefully to one side and held them up for Nelson’s inspection.  His gaze locked on the younger son and the weapon still pointed unwaveringly at him.   Nelson holstered the SIG and checked each cuff in turn, tightening one slightly before twisting the locks.

Nelson once again drew his gun and held it on the agent as Paul gathered up the discarded Glock and the magazine, unloading the weapon before tucking it away.  Now there was no overt evidence of foul play, Don’s detail would only find his SUV and no sign of how their charge had disappeared. 

When Paul had finished Nelson took hold of Don’s right elbow and tugged gently, starting them moving.  “Thank-you.  I really didn’t want to hurt you.”

Don let himself be led along but he turned his head to glare at the older man.  The man’s politeness in the face of his less than polite action served to fire his anger.  “Nelson, shut up.  I don’t want to hear it.  Just do whatever it is you’re going to do with me but stop pretending to be my friend.”

“I’m not your friend, far from it.  But this doesn’t have to be any more unpleasant than necessary,” Nelson answered by way of explanation.

Reminding himself that he had to be careful not to push Nelson too far Don took his own advice and shut up.  If he was too argumentative Nelson could see that as a warning of potential resistance and take further steps to prevent any move Don may make.  He needed to keep his options as open as possible, ready to act when a situation presented itself.  To do that he had to control himself, to make it appear that he had truly surrendered rather than have simply given up his gun.

They had reached a red car parked a few spaces away.  When he’d stepped off the elevator Don hadn’t seen the unfamiliar vehicle as it was parked hidden behind his SUV from that angle.  Paul opened the back door and Don was pushed gently into the back seat, a hand on his head to prevent him striking his head on the door frame.  Nelson moved quickly around the other side, taking up the seat beside the agent before Paul took his place behind the wheel.  The door locks thunked gently, an extra precaution to the child locks that were almost certainly in place.  Don noted a bag in the middle of the seat and experienced a chill as he recognised it as a full sized EMT’s medical kit.  Nelson really had been prepared to shoot him if he felt it necessary.  He looked up and saw that his realisation had been noted.

Starting the engine Paul pulled out of the space and headed for the exit.  Driving up the ramp they stopped, waiting as the roller automatically lifted.  When they moved forward Don felt Nelson tense beside him, this was a risk point; the agents waiting for Don could spot them and take action, assuming they were looking for a sedan with three people inside.  Head swivelling Don looked around, trying to spot his detail and finally found the black Suburban parked a short distance away.  The two agents were talking to a woman with a backpack and a map apparently asking for directions.  As Paul turned and headed away down the street the two agents took no notice and Don sighed in disappointment.  A standoff or a pursuit would have been preferable to his vanishing unnoticed into the night.

“Don’t be hard on them, Agent,” Nelson suddenly spoke as he relaxed.

“You set that up?”  He asked in surprise before remembering Nelson had seemingly not known the agents were there. 

“No, just fortunate.  Their distraction is better than this going bad.”

It had already gone bad as far as Don was concerned.  He was once again at Nelson’s mercy, surviving twice did not mean he could expect the same result a third time round.  Once again Nelson was operating beyond what could have been expected from his background.  The man had spent the majority of his life classed as a low level felon but clearly he had the ability to do whatever he felt necessary to achieve his goals. 

They continued down the road for about fifteen minutes before pulling into a basic motel.  The budget two storey premises was no different the one literally next door, down the road or the hundreds scattered around LA.  The car slid into a spot in front of the third unit along.  Don was surprised that they would hole up here, so close to his apartment complex and well inside any net that would be thrown up once his detail realised he was missing.

Despite being early in the evening there was no-one moving around even if a goodly portion of the motel rooms had lights on.  Paul released the door locks before climbing out, digging in his pocket for something.  There was a flash of metal and a large tag, it was a room key. The young man opened the ground level room door and he saw there was a dim glow as if a small lamp had been left on.  Paul returned to the car and opening his father’s door before moving around and waiting outside the agent’s.

“Agent?”  There was a clear question in the word.

“You want me to go quietly,” Don deduced.  Many of the car spaces were filled, if he kicked up a ruckus someone would investigate.

“That would be best.”

“If I don’t?”

Nelson pulled his gun from its holster but held it with his finger carefully away from the trigger guard.  He wasn’t going to use it to shoot with.  “Then we’ll just be helping a drunken friend back home.”

Staring him in the eye a moment longer Don believed him.  Once again Don reminded himself he needed to avoid underestimating the man.  Nelson had made it abundantly clear that if he resisted he would be struck with the gun, rendering him if not unconscious then certainly stunned and unable to do anything further to protect himself.  Any commotion could then be written off by anyone investigating exactly as Nelson had said.  There was no benefit to him if he pushed the point just now.  He closed his eyes for a moment before nodding.  He would do as he was told.

“Good.  Paul?” 

Paul pulled the door open, taking hold of the agent’s arm and helping him out.  Keeping a firm grip he pushed the agent back against the side of the car as Nelson clambered out, bringing the EMT kit with him.  Using the opportunity to leave evidence, Don twisted slightly and gained just enough space to press his fingertips to the front passenger window.  If and when the car was dumped his prints would connect it to his disappearance.  Nelson took over from his son, swapping the agent for the medical kit and Don soon found himself inside the low-rent motel room, not all that dissimilar to the one he’d been forced into at Brad’s hands.  Paul pushed the door to behind them and turned the lock, sliding the chain into place, adding to the steps Don would have to take if he were to try an escape.  Finally the main lights clicked on and he saw that the heavy blinds were drawn; anything that happened in the room would not be visible to anyone outside. 

Looking around he noted that the building was constructed from blocks reducing the amount of sound that would pass between the rooms.  Provided they didn’t get too noisy and no shots were fired, any neighbouring guest would hear nothing.  On one of the beds a set of clothes were laid out, jeans, t-shirt and shoes.  Curiously, other than that and what appeared to be an empty bag there was no sign that the room was inhabited.

“I’m going to let you take the cuffs off,” Nelson started.  “Then I want you to strip and put those on.”

“What?”  Of all the things he was expecting that was not one of them.

“I know all about your tracking devices, I’ve worn one remember?  I need to be sure you don’t have one on you.”

“I don’t,” he said, wishing he had.  At least there would have been some lead for the agents investigating his disappearance to follow, even if it only led here.

“Forgive me if I don’t take your word for it,” Nelson moved in front of the agent and looked him in the eye as he held up the key to the cuffs.  “Same rules apply as before.  Understand?”

At the prompt Paul once again pulled out his revolver, shifting so his father wasn’t in his line of fire.  He placed the kit he’d still been holding onto the end of the long bench built along the wall, serving to remind the agent of their seriousness.

“I got it,” he said allowing anger to colour his voice.  Moving slowly he lifted his hands, one held palm out to take the key.  There were too many innocents that could get caught in the crossfire, assuming he was still in any condition to care after getting himself shot or beaten down. 

The key was pressed into his hand before the older man moved back, bringing up his own gun.  Keeping his movements slow and clear Don unlocked the cuffs, placing them and the key onto the edge of the second bed.  After a moment’s hesitation he started pulling at his tie, undressing in front of the two men was not what he wanted but he had no choice.  Each item he also placed on the second bed until he was standing in his socks and boxers.  He was reaching for the provided jeans when ordered to stop.

“Socks off and show me the bottom of your feet.”

Reluctantly Don complied then waited with a rising sense of anxiety as it seemed there was about to be more.  His jaw muscles jumped as he faced his kidnapper, hands clenched at his sides, and tried to work up a defiant glare.

“Turn out the waistband.  I want to see there’s nothing sewn in there.”

Working to hide his relief at not being forced to strip completely naked he obeyed, folding down the waistband on his shorts and turning a slow circle without further order so Nelson could see that there was nothing hidden.  He didn’t try to hide his anger and couldn’t hide his embarrassment but Nelson at least pretended not to notice.

“Good.  You can get dressed now.”

The jeans were a little looser than what he was used to, as was the shirt but they both fitted well enough that he wouldn’t get a second glance in the street.  He sat and reached hesitantly for his socks, when nothing was said he pulled them back on and slipped on the shoes.  They were also a little big but better that than too small.

“The washroom is through there, if you want,” Nelson offered when the agent finished.

He didn’t really need to use the washroom but given that Nelson was now calling the shots and he had no idea when the next opportunity would arise he stood and made his way to the open door.  Nelson shifted to allow him to pass but didn’t appear as if he was going to follow him in, allowing him some privacy even as the order came to leave the door open.  Once in the small room he understood why, there was no window, just a small wall mounted exhaust fan that spun into life the moment he turned on the light.  There was no exit from the room other than the door.  When he finished and was about to wash up he used the mirror to assess the location of his kidnappers.  He could just see Paul which meant that from this angle his left hand was not visible.  Pressing it against the glass of the mirror he left another set of his prints.  It wasn’t much but it was all he was able to do to mark his presence.

Stepping back out into the room he made sure his hands were in full view, not that there had been any weapons in the washroom he could have taken advantage of, even the towel rail was missing.  It seemed Nelson and his son had prepared the room for just this use.  He’d long since come to the conclusion they weren’t staying here, this was just a stop along the way to search him for trackers.

Nelson looked up from where he was sorting through the contents of Don’s wallet, the cards and cash spread out on the bench in front of him.  He stood and approached, holding out the cuffs.  Don took the restraints and once again placed them around his wrists, holding them up for Nelson’s inspection.  The locks were twisted and he was told to take a seat on the end of the empty bed as Nelson returned to his inspection of the wallet.  The contents, including the cash were shoved back in before he turned his attention to the slim ID wallet, finding the electronic swipe card.  This he tossed aside before putting the rest of the ID with the wallet.  Don’s keys were inspected next with his spare handcuff key removed before the remaining keys went the way of the swipe card. 

“Watch,” Nelson demanded.

Without comment Don managed somewhat awkwardly to undo the strap and toss it over.  Nelson really was taking the search for any potential tracking devices very seriously.  After a close inspection of the back it was tossed back, there was no sign it had been opened recently.  Getting it back on he found Nelson holding up his cell phone.  It was switched off, had been ever since it was taken from him and thus the GPS chip was also disabled.

“We need your help to find Brad,” Nelson started, repeating himself from earlier.  “I suspect you have numbers in here that you will need so we’ll keep this for you to use.  Unless you are going to refuse to cooperate in which case we’ll leave it here.”

Any opportunity was better than no opportunity.  He would make whatever calls they wanted him to if it meant his phone was to be used and possibly detected, even if it was only down to a cell tower triangulation before the GPS chip came on-line.

“I’ll make your calls,” Don promised, breaking his silence.  “I want Brad brought in, if that has to be through you then so be it.”

“Good,” Nelson sounded relieved as he gathered up the phone, wallet and ID, sliding them all into his jacket pockets.  At the agent’s arched eyebrow he explained.  “We’re not here to rob you and I know your badge is important to you.  I’ll just hang onto them, better you don’t have any ID just for now.”

The agent could see the advantage of that, if he were to escape a lack of ID would make it a harder for him to gain assistance, delaying him just that little bit that could allow for his recapture, especially if Nelson were to flash the FBI badge in the process.  He simply dropped his eyebrow and waited.

“Our car is parked on the street just around the corner.  Obviously, I’d prefer no fuss and appreciate you being cooperative this far but you will be getting into it one way or the other.  Are we clear?”

Eyeing the two guns pointed his way it was more than clear.  His options remained the same so he nodded his head.  Once they got to wherever they were taking him he would be reassessing his position, hopefully there would be less possibility of civilians being hurt either due to remoteness or being later at night.  He also realised ruefully that his best chance for escape had been earlier, when he’d first been bailed up in a deserted parking lot.  He’d let the unexpectedness of the encounter distract him enough that he’d not seen it at the time.  Although, as he stood and the guns tracked him, he decided that perhaps he’d not really had so much of a chance after all.

Next chapter - here


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