Numb3rs: Retrogression

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Okay, huge warning. Multiple warnings, actually. One; I wrote this in 2008 and it’s unbeta’ed. Two;this fic deals with death of several major characters. THIS FIC DOES NOT HAVE A HAPPY ENDING. Three; this fic deals with a character suffering from Alzheimers.

Pairing: Colby Granger/Charlie Eppes
Genre: Future fic, death fic, AU


 

He had the munchies.

It wasn’t like he never had them, but they had been normal in the ‘let’s watch a movie and eat a bag of crisps’ kind of way.

This wasn’t normal. He was home alone now, but should his father return from whatever he was doing, he’d find 45% of the kitchen cabinets empty and would probably call the cops to report a freezer that looked violated and a son passed out on the ground in the garage surrounded by food, or what would be left of it.

Charlie felt a little hazy too. But he didn’t care. Food mattered. Even trying to think of any difficult equation didn’t stop him from eating the ice-cream. Or the ice-cream mixed with chips or chocolate chip cookies with strawberry ice-cream. Chips with yoghurt was something else, that really tasted bad and nearly made him throw up but he didn’t care.

Sure, something was terribly wrong. Even he knew that. He should have gone to Don after waking up and feeling like this, but what would Charlie tell him? That he’d gone out the previous night but that he couldn’t remember what happened? At all? No, that would be a great thing to tell his brother, Don would immediately drag him off to a hospital, make the doctors check him out, and tell dad to ground him for the rest of his life, adult or not.

And he was usually so careful when going to a bar, always protecting his drink from other people, take no drinks from strangers and abide to all the rules his father made and Don made sure he could sum them up nicely. But what happened then? He remembered Colby. He remembered Colby Granger giving him a drink. Water, was it? Or Vodka? If the latter was the case, then he could blame Colby for not knowing what happened, because Colby knows that Charlie can’t handle different kinds of alcohol in one night very well. But what were the odds that Colby would either drug him or make him feel sick? Surely Granger knows that if Don would find out what he did that Don would break every bone in Colby’s body?

And come to think of it, he didn’t have the munchies. He was simply hungry and had therefore plundered the kitchen. He felt as if he had walked for days in a row, or hadn’t eaten in a week. He couldn’t remember when he last ate, so if he had gone out the previous night, the alcohol would have this effect on him. And that meant that Colby could be innocent.

After finishing the chocolate chip cookies, the fog in his head started to disappear somewhat, and he noticed something very alarming. Either he wasn’t in his own garage or someone had stolen Charlie’s blackboards. And the boxes full of stuff. And his bicycle and… but who would do such a thing? No, he was definitely in the wrong garage. Which meant he stole someone’s food and broke in. Which meant that the people living in the house could call the cops on him and get him arrested for breaking and entering and… well, stealing.

He searched his pockets for his cellphone to call Don or Colby, but couldn’t find it, instead he found a note.

My name is Charlie Eppes. If you have found me, please call ….

Oh, something was wrong, terribly wrong. It wasn’t even his own handwriting, and he could feel the panic taking over his body.

“Uncle Charlie? What are you doing here?” a woman’s voice sounded. He looked into the direction of the door and saw a brunette standing there, who looked a lot like his brother Don.

“Who are you?” that wasn’t his voice coming out of his mouth. It sounded old, weak.

“I’m Charlotte, uncle Charlie, don’t you recognize me?” the woman approached him and knelt down.

“Should I?”

“Come on, let’s get you a cup of coffee.” she smiled, she had such a beautiful smile. It was his mother’s smile. She held out her hand to help him up, and then they walked into the house, but he wasn’t as fast as he used to be.

The house looked different. But it was his house, he could see the notches on the doorpost, the notches his dad used to make to measure his and his brother’s height when they were kids. But everything was different. The living room looked lighter, bigger. The couches were white, and so were the chairs, or were they beige? Charlotte helped him to sit down on one of the comfortable chairs and returned with a cup of coffee 5 minutes later, and he was still so very confused.

“What’s going on?” Charlie asked wearily. “Where’s dad? Where’s Don?”
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Charlotte took a deep breath, she looked tensed, sad and very tired. “Uncle Charlie…”

“And stop calling me ‘uncle’ I’m not that old!”

Charlotte winced. “Granddad Alan died 20 years ago, Charlie.”

“What?”

“And my dad, your brother, died last week, we just buried him a couple of days ago.”

“What?!” he could feel his heart pounding in his chest. He was glad Charlotte shut up so he could try to wrap his mind around the details, but they didn’t make any sense. He had seen Don and his father yesterday!

“I know this is hard for you.” Charlotte continued.

“Hard? Ha!” Charlie spat out. “I feel like I’m part of the biggest practical joke ever!” he sniffed his coffee, it didn’t smell weird, so it was safe. He took a sip and let the warm liquid heat up his body. He took his time drinking it, angrily glaring at Charlotte, who wisely refrained from talking.

He couldn’t get the math to work either. It could be a practical joke, he have drunk so much the previous night that people started to take advantage of him, or indeed, pull a prank. A damn good one. Colby owed him one, after Charlie pulled a prank on him once, had something to do with Colby’s car but couldn’t remember what he had done exactly.
“Is this Colby’s work?”

“Uncle Colby?”

Charlie nodded slowly.

“Charlie, he passed away a few years back. Heart failure.”

“No.”

“I’m sorry, I know he vowed to stay with you forever but…”

“No, that’s not possible.” Certainly not with his lover’s health. He was healthier than the short mathematician, worked out in the gym on a regular basis, and usually stayed away from junk food. It didn’t add up.

After a long silence, Charlotte spoke again. “I was named after you, you know. Your brother loved you.”

He knew that. And he loved his brother. And Colby.

“Charlie, how old are you?”

“35?” he wasn’t too sure about it now.

“No.” Charlotte spoke softly and shook her head. “You’re 80 years old, Charlie. You live in the old age care facility.”

“What?” he chuckled. Oh, Colby did a good one. Screwing with the young genius’ mind like that.

“You suffer from Alzheimers.”

“Impossible!” Charlie blurted.

“Is it?”

Another silence. Well, it couldn’t be impossible. But, it was strange. However, the haziness disappeared slowly. And it all made sense, sort of. “Can you take me home?”

Charlotte did bring him home. Nurses surrounded him and guided him back to his room, which wasn’t much bigger than the bedroom of his old house. There was a bed, and next to it a table full with pictures. He looked at the pictures for a moment, there was Don, old and grey, and Colby, not so grey there, and Don’s family, and Amita and her husband and children, yes, she lived in India now. It all came back to him, and it all made sense.

“I’m sorry, Charlotte. I caused you trouble.”

“That’s okay, uncle Charlie.” Charlotte smiled widely. “It’ll be only a matter of weeks before you get bored and run away again.”

“You mean I do this often?”

“You’re a real pain in the neck sometimes, Professor Eppes.” the nurse standing at the door said. “But we adore you and your antics.”

“Right…” Charlie yawned and sat down on his bed, which was the cue for everyone to leave his room in a hurry. Yes, he was tired. All the excitement had really strained his body. He hated to be sick, he hated to not remember where he was and when he was when he wasn’t lucid.

He laid down on his bed and closed his eyes.

“Hey, Charlie.” Colby woke him up, by gently kissing his lips. “Are you ready?”

“For what?”

“I’m coming to get you. Don is getting your dad. Come on.”

“I don’t think I’m ready, Colby.”

“It’s time. We all miss you.”

Charlie got up, and took Colby’s hand. Colby looked young, like he did in his FBI days. He smiled, and Charlie smiled too, after looking back at his own old body laying on the bed.

“Yes, it’s time.” The young mathematician nodded and pushed his black curly hair out of his face.

 

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