?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
02 February 2010 @ 05:52 pm
Numb3rs Fic: Bravo  
Written for numb3rs_newyear 2010
Crossposted to numb3rs_slash


Title: Bravo
Pairing/Characters: Ian/Colby, OCs
Rating: NC17
Spoilers: Sniper Zero, Judgment Call, The Mole
Summary: While still in the Army Ian and Colby meet in Afghanistan on
a covert mission no one can ever know about
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ

Other comments are housed at numb3rs_newyear.


They weren't supposed to be there.

Bravo Company had one of the best records in special forces and Colby and his platoonmates had been selected as the best of Bravo for this mission. Get in, plant the devices as instructed, get out without anyone knowing they were there.

The mission went off without a hitch. It was the ambush afterwards, on their way back, they didn't see coming.

All Colby could figure was that the rebels had been massing for an unexpected dawn attack and had apparently posted sentries with night vision goggles who had spotted them sneaking back to try to get across enemy lines in the pre-dawn hours.

The first shot had taken out Sergeant Major Tsiang, almost as if they knew he was the mission leader despite all of them being stripped of rank and identification for this covert mission.

The rest of them had scattered for cover behind whatever rocks they could find in the desert landscape as bullets hailed down around them.

The cover of darkness was their only asset and at the moment it wasn't much: it wasn't going to last them much longer and the other side could see in the dark.

This wasn't an official incursion so they couldn't call for backup. No air strike was coming to give them cover for escape. Bravo Company were expected to be able to handle themselves in a pinch.

Command fell to Sergeant Jim Howe and when his voice came through on Colby's radio he was relieved, hoping for orders to get them out.

"Stay put," Jim ordered. "I just got a coded message. We've got an angel watching over us."

Colby blinked in surprise. No one was supposed to even know they were out there. Who was this angel?

Jim stuck his empty helmet out to draw fire and a fresh rain of automatic gun fire came down on them only to stop abruptly with the sound of a single shot coming from closer to their position.

A sniper - one of theirs - and a damn good one too to take that sort of shot at night and make it on the first try. Apparently someone in the brass had gone out of their way to make sure the team made it back safely.

"Here's the plan…" Jim's voice was a lot more confident now. "We need to get to the rocks southeast of our current position. There's enough cover there to make our way out of the valley. We'll go one by one as our angel strikes, faster if it looks like he's got all their shooters. Go in order of proximity: those already southeast go first, on my mark. Quarterhorse…" Colby stiffened when Jim spoke his codename; he was the furthest away from the rocks. "I'm going to need you to help me draw their fire to give our angel a target."

"Roger that, Barbershop."

"Traintrack, you're up first - stand by. Quarterhorse - now!"

Colby shifted his helmet and rifle to the side of the rock he was hiding behind almost to have them shot out of his hands.

Once again a single shot rang out nearby then silence.

"Traintrack - go!"

The sound of footsteps running was brief and then his radio crackled to life again. "Traintrack at destination."

"Dustbowl - you're up!" This time Jim drew their fire and another shot silenced it. Three for three. "Dustbowl - go!"

More running and then a response. "Dustbowl at destination."

Before Jim could respond an explosion rocked the hill behind them; the enemy was trying to take out their sniper.

"Damn it!" Jim cursed. "I can't raise our angel. I think they got him."

Colby stared at the area where the mortar shell had hit. The soldier there had risked his life to try to save them and possibly lost it. Like them, he probably was on a secret mission. No one knew where he was and no one would come save him if he was injured.

There was plenty of cover to get closer to the enemy's position - he could make it to the sniper's location and perhaps even take over for him if his rifle hadn't been damaged in the blast. Getting him out? Colby wasn't sure how he'd do that, but he felt compelled to try. It went against everything he believed in to leave a man behind.

"Barbershop!" he radioed in. "I'm going to Angel. I'll pick up cover duty if I can."

There was a pause and Colby hoped Jim wouldn't try to talk him out of it.

"Roger that, Quarterhorse," he finally replied soberly. "Godspeed."

+

Rock to rock, Colby - wearing his own night vision goggles - made his way across the rough terrain to get to where the mortar blast had taken out their protection. That the man hadn't responded to the radio wasn't a guarantee he was dead. The equipment could have been destroyed in the blast.

As he approached he could see a dark shape huddled behind a boulder. It wasn't moving, but he tried not to let that worry him, focusing just on crossing the distance safely himself.

"Who's there?" The voice that called out accompanied the click of a gun cocking.

"Quarterhorse," Colby answered. "Barbershop sent me."

"What's today's crash code?" the wary voice asked.

"Carnival." Silence followed. "Can I approach?"

"Yes." The voice sounded weaker as if the man had used up the last of his strength to confront him. As Colby got closer he saw that the man's eyes were closed and his face and hands were bloody with small shrapnel injuries.

"You're hurt," Colby muttered. "Can you move?"

"I took a hit to the leg, but I think I can limp on it." He gestured to where his calf was bloodied and tied with a bandana. "The problem is? I can't see. Debris got in my eyes during the blast."

Colby swore under his breath. "Okay, listen. If your sniper rifle's still functional I'm going to lay down some cover fire for my team to get clear then I'm going to figure out how to get us both out of here."

"I know a way out," the man told him. "I just can't show it to you. But the rifle's right here." He held it out and Colby took it from his outstretched hand. It seemed fine and was thankfully a model he'd practiced with during his special ops training.

"First things first," he said. He radioed back down to Jim. "Barbershop, this is Quarterhorse. I'm with Angel and prepared to lay down cover fire."

"Roger that, Quarterhorse. Will advise."

"We should move first," the man pointed out. "They may still have that mortar canon pointed in the same spot so let's not let them hit us again."

"Got it," Colby said. He shouldered the man's pack and offered him a hand to rise, tapping him with it to let him know it was there. "Give me your hand and I'll help you up."

The man grasped his wrist in his strong grip and rose, leaning against Colby as he held up his injured leg from putting pressure on it.

"What's your name soldier?" the man asked.

"You know we're not supposed to use our real names out here," Colby said.

"I could have died out here if you'd left me," the man countered. "So I'd kind of like to know who to thank."

Colby huffed, smiling despite the fact the man couldn't see it. "Colby Granger."

"Ian Edgerton."

Colby shouldn't have been surprised, but he was. The name Ian Edgerton was legendary in Afghanistan: the sniper you never saw. Now Colby knew why, only the myth had become more than human. He was injured and relying on Colby to get him back to safety.

"Let's get to a new position: something high up with good cover?"

"That's what they'll expect," Ian said. "If your enemy knows where you might be, don't be there. I choose spots to shoot from that are less likely to be discovered then I find the best spot to shoot from from there."

"Smart."

"Keeps me alive."

Colby scanned the area with his goggles on and spotted a good location with cover for both of them.

"Let's go." The trip was short, but it was hard to lead a sightless man over such a rocky area and more than once Ian had to lean on him as he stumbled. He hissed each time he had to put extra weight on his injured leg, but otherwise made no complaint even though his injuries had to be painful. "Okay, there's a clearing big enough for us to sit in here."

Ian lowered himself down carefully with Colby's help. "I can tell you where the shooters were positioned based on the location before we moved. That should help you locate any new ones, that and the muzzle flashes. They're tiny, but if you're looking in the right spot in advance you'll see them flare in your goggles - I am assuming you have night vision goggles."

"Definitely," Colby told him. "Don't leave home without 'em," he teased. He raised the sniper rifle into position, settled himself in behind it, then scanned the horizon in the scope. "Okay, ready."

"Here's the dope: using the settings already on the rifle, adjust elevation by the amount reduced when we moved. Orient your scope on the rock outcropping that's defined by three large rocks in a triangular pattern. Then adjust however many minutes of angle you need to hit the next biggest boulder to the east."

"I see some kind of activity," Colby reported. "There's probably a shooter there."

"That's who I was about to aim for when I got hit," Ian explained.

Colby radioed in. "Barbershop, I have eyes on a potential shooter."

"Stand by, Quarterhorse." After a pause Jim returned. "Three for one - we're all set to go at the same time. T minus 30 seconds."

"Roger that." Colby aimed carefully. As expected when Jim drew their fire a shooter's muzzle flash appeared in his goggles and he fired, missing the first time but catching the shooter on the second shot. "Got him!"

"Scan for more!" Ian urged. "They could have another set up by now."

Colby scanned just below the elevation he'd shot at and found more movement - another shooter. This time his first shot rang true.

"Barbershop - all soldiers at destination." Jim was panting, but they'd made it. "Get yourself out of there, Quarterhorse! See you at base!"

"Roger that!" Colby slung the sniper rifle across his back and put his and Ian's packs back on his back. "Okay, Angel," he said, grabbing Ian's arm to help him get up. "Time to fly."

Keeping their heads down they moved from rock to rock, Colby being cautious for the both of them. More than once Ian stumbled and had to have Colby hold him up, but they made good time, cresting the hill and starting down the other side - made more difficult by the sliding sandy ground beneath their feet.

And then the mortars started back up.

Colby tried to speed up, but the faster he went the more Ian stumbled. A shell went off nearby, showering them with debris.

"They're getting close!"

"We can make it!" Colby tightened his hold on Ian. "We're almost to flat land." He spied a jeep coming their way, lights off, and was sure it was Jim come back for him. "We make it down, we've got transport waiting for us."

He heard the whistling sound of a mortar flying through the air - close, too close. A split second before impact he knew he hadn't managed to outrun it.

There was an ear-splitting noise and a flare of pain as Ian was ripped away from him by the force of the blast and he was flying through the air, surrounded by flames.

Then nothingness.

+

Colby woke to a drugged haze and a white bed. Clearly he'd survived and clearly this wasn't a field hospital. Glancing around he guessed Rammstein, Germany; it was the normal place to take soldiers who needed more than just basic patching up on the battlefield.

A nurse appeared and then a doctor and they poked and prodded him, asking him questions before he dropped off again. The cycle continued after that - brief spells of waking filled with doctors then more healing sleep. At some point he caught the words concussion and serious, but he hurt all over in the dulled way that pain medications weren't able to completely eradicate.

After a while he was awake enough to ask them questions only he couldn't ask about what he really wanted to know: the status of the mission, his platoonmates and Ian who he wasn't even supposed to know was there in the first place.

He got one of his answers in a subtle way. Jim sent him a get well card from Afghanistan hoping he'd recover from his 'training accident' injuries soon. It was signed by each member of the platoon who had gone on the mission, save Wei Tsiang. The fact that they'd all signed it there meant they made it out without injury. Seeing as how Jim knew less about Ian than he did meant he wasn't much help in that department. He likely just transported them both back in the jeep and had them medivaced out under the cover of the so called training accident.

Unless of course, Ian had died.

Colby refused to believe it. There was no way the mythical Ian Edgerton was going to go out like that, retreating. If he was going to go down it would be heroic, huge and under a hail of bullets or something majestic and memorable like that.

It took a few days before he was able to bear getting up and about in a wheelchair, but he was compelled by his desire to find Ian and find out if he was all right. They would have both been brought here and even though it was a big hospital there couldn't be that many men with eye injuries.

He cruised hallways, checked out wards, even went out on the grounds where soldiers sat in the sun as a way of escaping the boredom of four white walls.

As he headed around the periphery he noticed a walled off courtyard with a little iron gate to it. It was unlocked so he pushed it open and started to wheel himself in only to be challenged by a voice he'd heard before.

"Who's there?"

Colby wheeled himself a foot more in and found Ian sitting in a wheelchair as well, his eyes heavily bandaged.

"Quarterhorse," he answered quietly. "Colby Granger."

The lower half of Ian's face, while criss-crossed with tiny red scars, was unbandaged and Colby could see the smile dawning on his face.

"I'll be damned. You made it."

"You too." Colby wheeled himself over. The courtyard was empty and he could see why Ian would want to be alone - few things would unnerve a solitary sniper than not being able to see someone coming up on them. "I couldn't exactly ask about you, you know, so I figured I'd look for you."

"I'd have done the same, but…" Ian gestured with bandaged hands to his eye bandages. "Would have been kind of hard." His voice softened. "You hurt bad?"

"Enough I'll be stuck here for a while," Colby admitted. "But not so bad they won't send me back."

Ian nodded. "See, I told you I'd want to know who to thank later, so thank you."

"Thank you," Colby stressed. "You saved my platoon's ass. They'd have picked us off one by one if you hadn't been there."

"I was never there," Ian said carefully. "And neither were you. So we've never met, you understand?"

"I understand," Colby said. "So, if we're not going to meet officially the least we can do is get to know each other unofficially. I figure we're both stuck here for a while and I for one could use some company."

Ian smirked, clearly pleased. "Do you play chess, soldier?"

"I do."

Ian pulled a remote control looking button out from his pocket. They both had on the same hospital pajamas and bathrobe, but Ian definitely hadn't wheeled himself out there. He pressed it and an orderly arrived.

"Can you get us a chess set please?"

"Sure thing. Be right back."

"How do you know I won't cheat?" Colby teased once the orderly had left.

"One, if you were the kind to cheat you wouldn't have risked your life to come after me when the mortar hit my position."

"Is there a two?" Colby asked.

Ian chuckled, his tone playful.

"Snipers? We have excellent hearing. You try moving a piece when it's not your turn? I don't care how stealthy you are, soldier. I'll hear you."

+

"Do you want to sit in the sun today?"

Colby guided Ian by the arm out to the courtyard where they spent their days. They'd both recovered enough not to need wheelchairs and Ian preferred Colby as his escort rather than an orderly or a cane. He'd been adamant not to learn the cane, swearing his eyes were going to recover and he wasn't going to rely on a crutch just in case.

"Sure, it doesn't seem too warm out today," Ian answered. "Funny how quickly you forget the desert heat and think eighty degrees is too hot."

"I don't miss the heat," Colby said, installing Ian in his normal chair across the table from him before setting up the chessboard. "Or the sand, or the MREs or people shooting at me and dropping mortars on my head…" An orderly followed them out and put glasses of water for them both, used to Ian having company by now. "Thanks," Colby told him. "Water," he alerted Ian, guiding his hand to the glass so he'd know where it was.

Ian raised the glass and took a sip, his movements as measured and calculated as always. Colby - knowing Ian couldn't see him - enjoyed watching the older man move. Even sightless he was a model of efficiency, not a motion spared, and graceful as a big cat.

"What are you looking at?" Ian taunted, catching Colby in the act and making him flush, grateful Ian couldn't see that either.

"Who says I'm looking at anything?" Colby tried to brush it off, starting to set up the chess pieces.

"Okay, spud boy. You willing to swear on a stack of bibles you weren't just staring at me?"

"Don't see any bibles around," Colby countered, instantly feeling bad for what amounted to a callous remark given Ian's condition.

"Heh," Ian huffed. "Fine. So you're a look but don't touch guy. I get it."

"Wha… I never…" Colby finally shut his mouth to keep from stammering any worse.

"Stand down, soldier," Ian waved him off. "Not trying to cause an international incident here."

"I'm sorry, it's just…" Colby floundered for what to say. "You know… Army…"

Ian shrugged, a loose movement that seemed entirely unconcerned. "Snipers… We're a different breed. You have platoonmates. I work alone. After a while being alone that much gets to you. You either crave company or you kind of go off too far into your head, get hard." He fell silent for a while. "I don't want to end up one of those snipers who tracks their body count until it hits some unthinkable number and then eats their gun. I prefer to stay human."

"So many instead of just playing chess today we talk," Colby offered.

"How about for each piece we capture we get to ask a question?" Ian suggested.

"Sure. I mean, as long as we can answer it - it's not classified or anything." Colby finished setting up the board and oriented it towards Ian. "You're white. Go ahead."

In the few minutes that it took for the first piece to be taken Colby was alternately trying to come up with questions to ask and worrying about what Ian might ask him - so much so he totally missed Ian's play for his pawn.

"I go first," Ian crowed, feeling his way to removing the black pawn from the chessboard. His memory was good enough that he seemed to know the board, but he was still careful enough to not upend any pieces while he was moving his own. "So, honest truth… Are you attracted to me or not?"

Colby froze up. That was definitely on the list of questions he'd been hoping Ian wouldn't ask.

"Jeez, Ian," he scoffed, trying to make it sound light. "You're like a mythical sniper god in the Army. It's kind of hard not to be." He found an opening and quickly captured one of Ian's pawns. "Do you have any clue what I look like?"

"Yes," Ian admitted. "I made one of the nurses describe you to me. After she was done fanning herself she gave me a rather detailed image of you for me to create in my head. But I'd still like to find out for myself."

Colby swallowed, hesitating briefly before he spoke. "Well in like movies and stuff blind people will run their hands over someone's face to find out what they look like, kind of. You could do that at least."

"You offering?"

"I guess so," Colby answered.

"Then come over here." Ian pulled his chair back away from the table and beckoned to Colby to come to him. Rather than pull his chair all the way over, Colby just crouched down in front of Ian and guided his hands to his cheeks. "Close your eyes," Ian ordered in a voice that didn't sound very commanding. Colby complied and Ian's fingertips ran over his face, mapping it all slowly: skimming over his eyelids, skating along his jawline and even brushing softly over his lips.

Colby had forgotten how much he missed this sort of skin on skin contact. Each exploratory touch was more like a caress and Colby found himself sinking into the feeling of contact, letting the time slip away. It almost startled him when Ian withdrew his hands.

"That change how you see me?" Colby asked, returning to his chair.

"Clearly that nurse has a thing for you," Ian teased. "Your jawline is in no way 'chiseled.'"

Colby tilted his head back and laughed. "I'm just an average guy," he admitted. "Nothing special."

"Not average," Ian disagreed. "The average guy doesn't get into special ops. The average special ops guy wouldn't have come after me."

"The average guy is smart enough not to play 20 questions with a world-class sniper?" Colby posited, grinning.

"See, that's where you're really smart." Ian wagged a finger at him. "Because you know there are more painful ways for me to get the intel I'm after."

"'We have ways of making you talk,'" Colby mocked.

"I do at least," Ian said, smug. "And they involve capturing your bishop: check!"

+

"Hey, soldier… What's it going to take for you to bust me out of this joint?"

Colby blinked in surprise at Ian. He'd been released from the hospital while Ian had improved to the point of just wearing dark sunglasses over his barely bandaged eyes. He looked normal to the naked eye until someone looked close enough to notice the white behind the aviator frames. Colby still had a couple of weeks of recovery time before they sent him back to finish his tour of duty, but he'd chosen to spend it off base, splurging on a hotel room even though the base had offered him housing.

"You want to leave the hospital?" Colby asked.

"I want to leave the base. I'm bored stiff here and as patient as you are there's only so much chess I can play before I start wanting to shoot something." He cocked his head at Colby. "Sign me out. Even for a day. Anything! I just need to get away from here for a while."

"I can ask…"

"Good, that will do. As long as you say you'll drag me around like a dog on a leash I can argue I'll be safe on the outside."

"Not sure about the dragging you around part, but yeah, I owe you…"

"You don't owe me anything," Ian interrupted. "That's not how war works. But if you are cool with having some company…"

"Fine, but you're buying dinner," Colby taunted.

Ian laughed. "Oh great! Spud boy's going to eat up my entire paycheck. Fine, I'll pay, but I get to pick the place."

"You're on," Colby said with a grin.

About a half hour later the doctors begrudgingly allowed a day pass, saying Ian needed to be back in time for his nightly medication. No amount of arguing would sway them, but at least they'd be able to have dinner out.

Ian still refused a cane so Colby guided him carefully through doorways, down steps and out to the parking lot where the loaner car the base had given him to get to his doctors appointments when he decided to stay off base was parked. Getting Ian into the car was awkward, but he did it slowly and managed not to hit his head maneuvering him inside the low sedan.

During the drive Ian fumbled with the controls and Colby let him, not wanting to try to do every little thing for him. It had to be hard going from top sniper in the Army to helplessly blind, but Colby was comforted by the fact that the doctors had assured him multiple times that the damage was only temporary and the long healing time mostly a precaution. That and Ian seemed to bear the handicap with good humor despite his impatience for a change of scenery as it were.

Driving down the main drag, Colby read out the names of each restaurant to Ian and described those he'd been to. His German was pretty rudimentary, but most of the people spoke English, used to business from the base soldiers and civilian consultants.

Ian picked a cozy little Italian restaurant near the end of the main drag so Colby parked and rushed around to help Ian out of the car. A few people walking down the street looked at them, but Colby just nodded to them in greeting and tried to pretend there was nothing unusual about what he was doing. He wondered only belatedly whether they stared because they were two men arm in arm or because Ian had sunglasses on in the evening.

The sidewalk was narrow so it took a bit of steering to keep Ian from running into things, but they made it to the restaurant and Colby let out a breath of relief once he got them inside to find it was only sparsely populated and therefore easy to navigate.

"Am I too much work for you?" Ian asked, nudging him.

"Let's just say when it comes to directing another human being around obstacles I'm an inexperienced driver," Colby tossed back.

"Willkommen! Bitte nehmen Sie Platz!" the hostess greeted them casually, directing them to a table.

"Danke," Colby told her, helping Ian to a seat then taking the one opposite him at the small table.

She put down menus in front of both of them before departing and Ian chuckled.

"Fat lot of good a menu's going to do me," he said.

Colby picked it up and put it aside, out of the way.

"Well, it's not like you're wearing a t-shirt that says, 'Hi, I'm blind, so talk really loud to me.'"

Ian rolled with laughter. "You noticed that too, huh? Shit, what is it about people that once they find out you can't see they get louder? I'm not deaf, people!" Ian shook his head. "So let's hear the menu, or at least the highlights."

"It's got the basics," Colby muttered, perusing the menu. "The best looking thing on it is the lasagna. They have three kinds: one with more cheeses than a freaking cheese shop, one with serious amounts of beef and one spiked with Italian sausages."

"That sounds perfect," Ian responded. "Lasagna with Italian sausage. I tell you, I've had better Italian food in Germany than I ever did in Italy. I think they're just picky here and Italians don't care as much."

"Meine Herren…" The hostess approached, smiling. "What can I get you this evening?"

"The lasagna with Italian sausage and the lasagna with beef. Danke." Colby handed her the menus.

"Bitte," she replied, accepting them. "Some wine or beer perhaps?"

Ian opened his mouth, but Colby cut him off.

"Just water for both of us." Once she departed he scolded Ian. "I was right there when the doctor told you absolutely no alcohol for someone on your meds."

Ian snorted. "Lucky me, instead of a dinner date I get the babysitter."

Colby flushed hard, clamming up fast before he could put his foot in his mouth. He hadn't thought about spending the evening with Ian as a date at all. He'd just obeyed with Ian begged him to get him out of the hospital for a while.

The hostess returned with water glasses and Colby nodded his thanks. "Danke." He covered the pause by taking a drink then remembered to guide Ian's hand to his own glass so he'd know where it was before knocking it over.

As he started to move away, once settling Ian's hand on his glass, Ian moved to grab his wrist and hold him there.

"Are you nervous?" Ian asked, keeping his voice low.

"No," Colby lied.

"Your pulse is racing." His fingertips were indeed on Colby's pulse point and his body wouldn't lie.

"Not nervous," Colby clarified. "Maybe just worried, wondering what you might want from me, from this."

"No need to race to battle stations, soldier," Ian soothed. "I'm pretty sure with your background in special ops you can fend off advances from a blind man fairly well if needs be. Besides, I have a curfew tonight. You have to bring me back before I turn into a damn pumpkin." He let go of Colby's wrist and picked up his glass, raising it. "How about we just enjoy dinner?"

Colby let out a breath, relaxing. "I can do that."

+

"So he's standing there - covered in muck with the mud-covered puppy in his arms and the equally filthy dog at his feet looking as polite as a man can after going through a pig sty - and he tips his hat at my mother and asks if he can use her hose!"

Ian's laughter echoed his own as they made their way up the stairs to his room at the hotel. He'd switched to a two room suite when Ian got permission to spend more time off base and they'd fallen into a sort of comfortable roommate situation. Colby still had to do most everything for Ian that required sight, but Ian had learned the suite quickly and was able to get around well in the two rooms by himself.

Once inside Colby didn't turn on any lights. The dim nightlights he'd installed were enough for him to get around with by night and they allowed Ian to sleep without bandages on as his doctors had said he could do as long as he covered them back up in the mornings.

"Seriously, spud boy," Ian teased. "You have some crazy people back there in Idaho."

"Crazy people are everywhere," Colby countered, shedding his jacket and opening the closet to hang it up. He had to be careful where he put things since Ian didn't know where to expect them otherwise. "You can't tell me that guy at the bakery this morning wasn't totally out of his gourd?"

"Agreed." Ian headed across the room. "Feels like they left the window open or something." While he was hanging up his coat Colby heard a crash and whirled around to discover someone had moved an end table and lamp right into Ian's path and he'd gone right at them, knocking over the table and smashing the lamp as he hit the floor. "Ian!"

Colby rushed to his side to find Ian wincing on the floor, a scrape across his forehead from where he'd landed in the shards of lamp.

"Damn it!" he swore. "What the hell?"

"Someone moved the table and lamp on you. I have no idea why." Colby offered his hands to Ian to help him up. "I'm so sorry. I should have thought to check the room out each time we came back. They probably moved it vacuuming and didn't think anything of it."

He managed to get Ian back on his feet, but he wavered and Colby encircled him in his arms to keep him upright.

"Whoa," Ian murmured, holding on as he faltered.

"Don't try to move," Colby warned. "Just stand there if you can. Breathe…" Ian's body was all but pressed up against his and Colby was almost dizzy himself with the heady heat of proximity. He hadn't realized it before but Ian smelled really good, a kind of musky masculine scent that reminded him of when he'd let Ian touch his face. He'd been both tantalized and terrified by the idea of getting involved with Ian. The attraction was there and even though Colby knew Ian had all but offered some part of him felt petrified at the idea of opening himself up to him.

"I hate this." Ian's voice was low, more sad than angry. "I'm tired of not being able to take care of myself, not being able to do normal things. I want to see." After a pause he pulled the glasses off and tossed them aside. "Screw it. I'm taking the bandages off."

"Wait!" Colby put his hands over Ian's, stopping him. "Please… I know you're frustrated. I know you're impatient. But you're a sniper, Ian. You're no good to anyone if your eyesight's only halfway decent. You have to listen to the doctors. If you don't you might not recover fully and your eyes might be screwed up for good." His voice fell, emotion leaking into it. "I couldn't live with myself if you couldn't see right because of me. So don't do that to me, okay? Please."

Ian lowered his hands, nodding. "Okay. I'll wait." He let out a long breath. "You'd better take me back to the hospital tonight. I cracked my skull pretty good on that thing so it will probably take the good drugs to get me to sleep at this point."

Colby took a deep breath and started guiding Ian back to the doorway, pausing only to pick up his abandoned coat from the floor where it had fallen when he abandoned it in his haste to get to Ian.

"Okay," he said. "I'll take you back. But I promise, I'll come check on you in the morning - to see if you need rescuing again."

Ian's hand squeezed his arm, a weak smile gracing his face.

"I'm counting on it."

+

A week before Colby was to ship out Ian was finally off enough of his medications to be allowed to drink. Colby took him out to a biergarten and was surprised when Ian ordered 'und Leichtbier' rather than a normal alcohol lager. The waitress huffed in disdain, but she brought their order regardless.

"I'm easing back into it," Ian explained. "All these weeks without even a drop? Probably not the best idea to get slammed with my first drink. Besides," he said with a grin, "the evening is still young."

With each successive drink Ian ordered higher alcohol content bier until he was at normal levels and Colby was still nursing his second lager, definitely feeling the effects.

They'd walked from the hotel even though it was a bit of a distance, so the walk back was a bit of a challenge. Neither of them were drunk, just slightly buzzed enough to complicate Colby leading still sightless Ian back to the hotel.

Laughing at their efforts, they were falling all over themselves heading up the stairs to their suite. The mirth was delightfully light and easy until they got to the top of the stairs and Ian leaned into him heavily, so much so they ended up against the wall, Ian's body half pressed against his.

"Still afraid of me, soldier?" Ian's breath was hot against his neck and his nerve endings sparked along the points of contact: Ian's chest against his, thighs meeting, hips brushing innocuously until Ian slid his body over just enough that his cock brushed Colby's hip.

Colby found himself unable to respond, speechless as Ian's lips grazed his earlobe and his fingers skimmed down his chest, taking a leisurely tour of the body beneath his shirt. "No," he finally managed. "Never was," he corrected.

Ian's breathy chuckle sent a chill through him. "Liar." His exploring hand shifted, fingertips grazing up the front of his pants making his cock swell and twitch in response to the fleeting contact. Colby's back arched off the wall, chasing Ian's hand as he began to pull it away. In that moment Colby realized just how much he'd craved this, how badly he'd wanted Ian to make the first move, to touch him, to let him have what he was too anxious to let himself go for.

"Inside," he finally ground out. "Just a few more feet…" Ian pulled back, letting him go and Colby instantly felt cold without his heat to warm him.

"Lead the way," Ian said with a playful smirk.

Colby struggled to get the door open, distracted by Ian's presence, but managed it finally - doing a quick sweep of the room to make sure nothing had been moved, having learned his lesson when Ian had been hurt before.

Once inside the door, Ian's hand on his arm slid down to his wrist, feeling his pulse point again.

"Colby?"

Ian using his first name made everything crystallize; this was real, what was happening between them. Nerves didn't matter. Nerves he could get over. The regret of letting this moment pass, he might never forgive himself.

"I know, I know," Colby muttered. "So just kiss me already, will you?"

He drew Ian closer, backing up against the door closed behind him, but Ian hesitated.

"I want to see you." Ian pulled his glasses off and put them in his shirt pocket then started to peel his bandages away from his eyes.

"Ian…"

"It's all right. As long as the lights are low the doctors said it's okay." He removed both of the bandages and tucked them in his other shirt pocket. "Here goes…" Ian's eyes fluttered open and he blinked at Colby, obviously trying to focus on him in the dim light.

"Can you see?" Colby asked, breathless with worry.

"It's dark in here and you're a bit blurry… But yeah. I can see you." Ian stepped back and took him in, head to toe, in a lengthy sweep that made Colby feel that he wasn't just being seen, he was being memorized. "I see you…"

Ian's eyes returned from their journey to meet Colby's for only a second then Ian stepped forward, pressing him into the door as he kissed him with an almost ravenous hunger.

Any reticence Colby might have had fell away instantly and he responded heartily, pulling Ian close and returning the kiss with equal vigor.

By the time Ian finally pulled back both of them were panting and out of breath. He tugged at Colby's shirt, untucking it, his eyes questioning. It was strange to be able to read Ian's expression, having been robbed of his eyes the entire time he'd known him, but those dark orbs were oddly familiar somehow and he helped Ian's hands along as his answer.

Ian unbuttoned his shirt and pushed it off his shoulders, gazing at Colby's bare torso beneath. He ran his hands over Colby's skin and Colby let his own eyes fall closed, reveling in the skin on skin contact and letting go of the onus of being Ian's eyes for him.

"I was beginning to think you didn't want this," Ian murmured into his neck as he brought their bodies together.

Colby sank into the wonderful heat Ian enveloped him in, relaxing into the feel of strong arms around him.

"Better late than never," was all he could offer in his defense.

"In that case…" Ian tugged on the waistband of his pants. "Bed. We're going to take full advantage of all the time we have left."

+

Stripping each other had gone fairly quickly, but once they were naked Ian seemed to relish the chance to learn Colby's body completely, mapping every inch with hands and fingers and tongue as his eyes took it all in. More than once Colby tried to assert his turn only to have Ian chide him for impatience and continue on.

"You're perfect," Ian breathed into his ear as his hand ran low over his abdomen. "I hate that the blast marred your skin."

"Doctors say it will heal in time," Colby said, shrugging it off. "I'm patient. I'll live."

"I have faith you will," Ian told him. They kissed, languidly this time, limbs entwining until Ian positioned Colby where he wanted him, on his side. Pulling away for a few seconds Colby missed his warmth, but was comforted by the sound of a condom wrapper.

When Ian returned the slicked head of his gloved cock rubbed against Colby's entrance and he tried not to tense up in anticipation. He'd dreamed so many nights of sex with Ian when he slept just a room away, now it was real and his head was spinning with want.

"Shh…" Ian soothed. "Relax. Breathe."

Colby let out a few breaths, feeling the tension leave his body as he did.

And then Ian pressed just inside. The simple sensation of breaching him made Colby gasp. Instantly he craved more, pushing back slightly to encourage Ian to move.

With a low groan Ian sank all the way in, Colby's mouth falling open as Ian's cock filled him completely.

He was dimly aware of Ian's hand clutching his hip and of the harsh pants against his shoulder blades, but he heard Ian swearing. "Fuck, you feel so good…"

Colby still wasn't able to form any coherent words so he replied with his body, more encouragement as he pushed back, getting Ian to setup a seesaw rhythm, one that set off sparks deep inside him with each unerringly perfect thrust. Trust a sniper to have perfect aim, Colby mentally told himself, amused at the idea.

Joined together, two bodies curled into each other, Colby reveled in the closeness he'd been missing since he joined the Army. He hadn't let himself have this; he'd gone starving even though he was surrounded by bodies that could have easily sated his hunger.

In a flash it hit him, why Ian was different.

He cared about Ian, he was more than just a body to him.

Colby had eschewed casual sex, but there was nothing - save their short time together - that was casual about how he felt about Ian.

Duty might keep them apart, but Ian was a part of him now and he wouldn't forget that now matter where their futures led them.

Ian's hand closed around his cock and Colby turned his body over to his lover, trusting him completely.

"Fall for me," Ian told him, trying to push him over the edge, and Colby let go, falling into the blissful abyss, Ian following right behind him.

Afterwards they lay in twisted sheets, sweaty and sated, Ian's fingers drawing bullseye patterns on Colby's chest and stomach.

"They're saying I could get discharged," Ian finally said. "I'd be a civilian again."

"Do you want that?" Colby asked, a twinge inside at Ian going home without him even if he was glad it meant he'd be safe away from the fighting.

"I'm okay with it if it happens," Ian admitted. "There are other ways to serve. I've had my eye on the FBI for a while. They definitely have work for military trained snipers."

"The FBI…" Colby hadn't really thought about what he'd do after the Army. His father had been a machinist after his two tours were up and he settled down to be stable while Colby was in school. Colby just knew he'd serve after college so what was next had seemed a long way off until now. "That sounds interesting."

He rolled over to face Ian, pulling him into a long drawn out series of kisses, not quite ready to give him up to sleep just yet.

"You do know that once we leave here…" Ian looked thoughtful once the kisses broke. "We'll have to act like we don't even know each other. If someone were to inquire as to how we met it might lead to certain facts that neither of us is even supposed to know about the other."

"I understand," Colby told him. "I'll play my part when I see you again. Don't worry."

Ian smiled. "You said when, not if."

"Yeah, about that?" Colby pulled him in close, relishing the feel of their bodies meeting. "Count on it. No matter where I end up after all this I'm going to figure out a way to meet you properly."

"So we can start all over again?" Ian teased, clearly not upset in the least by the plan.

"We'll do it all over again," Colby told him. "Only this time?" He pressed a kiss to Ian's lips, silently promising to himself to make the week they had left count before he had to go back to Afghanistan. "You'll see it all."

"That," Ian told him with a contented smile. "I'd like to see."

=
 
 
 
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on February 3rd, 2010 01:53 am (UTC)
Confession
This fic was written for nyctophobia76 for the 2010 Numb3rs New Year's Challenge at numb3rs_newyear. The request was for Ian/Colby with Colby taking care of his lover, or being taken care of, after getting sick or hurt.

Since whumpage is so near and dear to my heart (see Air, my NNY fic from two years back for more Ian/Colby whumpage or Wilderness Bound, which is Ian/Colby double whump) I was totally on board with this idea. I decided to do a bit of AUing by having them know each other in Afghanistan. I figured if the mission was so covert - Colby wasn't even supposed to know Ian was there and no one was supposed to know Colby's platoon was there in the first place - they couldn't acknowledge it when they met again in Toxin.

I'm not the first person to blind Ian, but I have to admit I rather enjoyed it. I like exploring disability in fic, but after Skewed most people shied away from vision impairments (that fic was the epitome of good blindness fic in the fandom). It's been enough years though and I liked the idea of taking a sniper's vision away, albeit temporarily.

I confess my Army experience is nil so don't take any of this as gospel. I've heard of American military personnel being taken to Rammstein in Germany for medical care so I used it in the fic. I did pull one minor term from a web site: dope.

DOPE Acronym for Data on Personal Equipment (sight, elevation settings etc for sniper rifles). Other usage includes Information/intelligence regarding the position of a target or info on an objective. Air Force/Navy usage of 'Bogey Dope' to request the position (bearing, range, altitude and heading) of enemy aircraft.

There's a bit of a canon issue here in that Ian's supposedly been in the FBI for 20 years. If that's the case how could he have been in Afghanistan during Colby's time? /shakes head/ I think I shall have to chalk that up to TPTB being sucky about canon and just letting my story be AU somewhat.

Very special thanks to betas melissima and t_vo0810 and to luminous for their assistance with this fic.

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais
lillyglillyg on February 3rd, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Confession
I so love that kind of fic, with a lot a caring! ^^ Well done!
boymommytotwoboymommytotwo on February 3rd, 2010 05:20 am (UTC)
this was so beautiful, emma... i love vulnerable ian, which is difficult to write convincingly, and protective/caretaker!colby... well, he's the best. they were so slow, sweet and tender with one another... i love that they're going to find one another again later to meet properly.

it gives me a lil ::squee!!:: so thank you!!!
Elorienlorientad on February 3rd, 2010 08:33 pm (UTC)
i loved it. thank you.
(could you please give me a link for skewed? you made me curious.)
laura_trekkie: Holmeslaura_trekkie on February 4th, 2010 12:17 am (UTC)
Great fic! I do love the Colby/Ian pairing- that shared military background gives them a connection they don't get with any of the others. I'm also a big whump fan, and yes, there's something about taking the sight from a sniper that seems particularly whump-filled (it's the same for pilots, as I've discovered in my reading of Stargate fic where the Air Force pilots get blinded for whatever reason). Obviously I'm just mean that way *g*.

I liked how you brought them together pre canon meeting. It fits that there would be some classified mission that they'd run into each other and then have to pretend otherwise.

I loved the trust between them. They were strangers, but the intensity of that mission and Ian's enforced reliance on Colby forged a strong connection that only grew with their time cooped up together in recovery with no one else around who they even vaguely knew. I liked how Colby handled taking care of Ian- watching out and guiding him, but never letting it get too suffocating for Ian, who is a very independant person. I thought it fit with Ian's character that he'd keep things light, despite how he must have felt about losing his sight even temporarily, but that he trusted Colby enough to let him see that frustration and fear occasionally.

I'm glad Ian got to see Colby in the end :).

Laura.
ladygray99ladygray99 on February 4th, 2010 11:31 am (UTC)
When I can get to a proper key board and am not tapping on my phone I'll reply better but I really loved this. You knock Ian and Colby around so well.
lilacs_roseslilacs_roses on December 12th, 2010 06:14 pm (UTC)
Ok... me again. Of the three that I just found, I can't really say which I love more because all of them have aspects that just really get to me. However, this was so well done... I would actually love to see a sequel with regards to how Colby and Ian meet 'properly' /laugh.

Again, so much in here to 'squee' over but no brain power to do that justice. Just know that, like the other two, this is definitely going into my favorites :)