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08 December 2008 @ 06:04 pm
Numb3rs Fic: Safe Harbor Part 1  
Posted to numb3rs_slash


Title: Safe Harbor
Series/Universe: Safe Harbor
Pairing/Characters: Charlie/Billy, OCs
Rating: PG13
Spoilers: Man Hunt
Summary: While working at Quantico Charlie's security is compromised and Billy becomes his protector
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ


"Dr. Eppes... Dr. Eppes... Is there someone we can call for you?"

Charlie looked up from staring dazed at the floor to find a nurse next to him. His blank expression turned to confusion as he furrowed his forehead.

"I'm sorry, what?"

"Is there someone we can call for you? A family member maybe?"

"No!" Charlie exclaimed rather loudly. A bit taken aback by his own outburst, he pulled himself together and spoke again, this time more calmly. "No, I don't want you to call them. They're in California anyway."

"Do you know anyone in the Washington D.C. metro area that we can call?"

"Try..." Charlie waited until the nurse pulled out a pad of paper. "Try Agent Terry Lake at the FBI. You should be able to reach her via the main switchboard at Quantico."

Charlie tuned out again while the nurse was on the phone and had to be tapped on the arm to get his attention. He jumped and the nurse made a gesture of apology as she held the phone to her chest to mute it as she spoke to Charlie.

"Apparently Agent Lake no longer works in the DC area. Is there anyone else we can try for you?

Charlie thought for a few seconds.

"Try Agent Billy Cooper."

+

"So, a bump on the noggin? Sure you're okay?"

Billy took Charlie's bag out of his hand and ushered him to his SUV parked outside the hospital.

"Yeah, it's nothing. They just gave me the standard drill of not letting me leave without a chaperone. You can just drop me at Quantico."

"And miss out on hearing some choice Don stories away from your brother's interference?" Billy retorted. "Not a chance. We'll pick up your stuff and then head down south. You're staying with me."

"You don't have to do that," Charlie protested.

"You're right," Billy said with a wink, "I don't."

"Billy...."

"Not taking no for an answer." He opened the passenger door, put the bag inside and stepped back for Charlie to get in. "Besides, I live alone and I could use the company."

+

"You have a great house," Charlie marveled. "I don't know why I assumed you lived in a crappy apartment."

"Because Don probably mentioned that I did, at least when I worked with him in Fugitive Recovery. I've kind of moved up in the world in the last decade. The money to buy this place came from my parents. My dad kind of struck it rich so I don't exactly fit in with my country club neighbors."

"Did your dad win the lottery or something?" Charlie asked.

"No, but sometimes it felt like it," Billy said with a laugh as he carried Charlie's suitcases inside. "He owned a small landscaping company - about seven guys - and my mom's brother owned a metal shop. My Dad was always trying to figure out ways to get the work done faster - which my Mom claimed was because he was so lazy - so he'd bribe my uncle to make him tools that he dreamed up to tackle specific jobs. One of his tools caught the eye of an executive at some home improvement company and suddenly Weed Weasels were being sold in garden centers all over the world."

"Hey, I have a Weed Weasel in my garden shed!'"

Billy gestured to the house around them. "Then a tiny part of this house is because of you, so thank you."

Charlie laughed, then winced, putting a hand to his head. "Okay, no more making me laugh. My head hurts too much."

"Ah, I'm sorry. I didn't think of that." Billy walked over to where Charlie was rubbing his head. When Charlie pulled his hand away, Billy brushed the curls aside from his forehead to look.

The unexpected contact was so intimate Charlie's breath caught and he neglected to protest. Billy's body so near was distracting, the heat and mass of someone so much larger and more powerful subtly intoxicating.

"Butterfly bandages," Billy mused. "I thought I saw a flash of white there. So it's a little worse than you let on." Billy pulled his hand away and looked down at Charlie expectantly. "You want to tell me what happened?"

"It's nothing." At Billy's uninterrupted gaze, Charlie amended his response. "No, I really don't."

"Fair enough." Billy headed for the stairs, grabbing Charlie's bags. "I'm an easy guy to get along with, but I appreciate honesty - even the brutal kind - so if you want to say 'leave me alone', feel free."

+

Once Charlie was ready for bed a tap came at his door.

"Come in."

The door was pushed open and Billy staggered in with a large armchair, which he placed near the bed. As Charlie watched, bewildered, Billy went back out and returned with a large matching ottoman and a throw.

"Uh, thanks," Charlie said. "But I didn't really need a chair."

"Yeah, but I do!" Billy plopped himself into it. "First rule of head injuries - never leave the person alone in the first 24 hours."

"That's not necessary," Charlie countered.

"Excuse me, Dr. Eppes," Billy smirked, putting his feet up, "but are you a medical doctor?"

"No, but neither are you," Charlie tossed back, more playful than annoyed, taken in a bit by Billy's charm.

"Yes, but I've had my fair share of skull cracking, so I can speak from experience."

Charlie sat down on the edge of the bed. "Nothing's going to happen."

"You can't know that."

"Statistically..."

Billy sat up abruptly and put his hand on Charlie's knee to get his attention.

"Listen to me, Charlie. I used to think that; I used to be dismissive and figure the stats were in my favor. I got so used to being bonked on the head I didn't even go to the doctor's afterwards."

"So what changed?" Charlie asked, genuinely curious.

"I was out with your brother on a man hunt and we both got roughed up - me more than him - so I wanted to take a long hot bath after we got back to our motel to work the kinks out."

"And..." Charlie prodded anxiously.

"And I lost consciousness in the tub, slipped under the water. Would have drowned if your brother hadn't been keeping an ear out for me and come to pull me out. He dragged my sorry ass to the hospital and I haven't taken a single bump on the head for granted since." He sat back in his chair. "You shouldn't either."

"So I guess all that stuff about me being free to ask you to leave me alone..." Charlie ventured.

"Oh, you're free to ask," Billy said gregariously as he settled the throw over himself. "But I never said I'd agree to it."

+

Charlie woke three hours later, woozy and disoriented.

"Everything okay?" a soft voice asked from the darkness.

A tiny pen light turned on and illuminated Billy sitting in the chair beside his bed.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Charlie said sleepily, climbing out of bed. "I'm just going to..."

He staggered and Billy was out of the chair in a heartbeat, arms around Charlie, steadying him.

"Just stay right there. Take a few breaths. Not too fast... Breathe..."

Charlie let Billy take part of his weight as he leaned against the broad expanse of chest beneath the warm t-shirt pressed to his cheek. Billy smelled earthy, spicy and oddly familiar - kind of like the aftershave he used to send Don for Hanukkah when he lived away from home.

"I feel queasy," he admitted hesitantly.

"Then let's get you into the bathroom then."

Billy led him into the bathroom next door, moving slowly enough that Charlie could handle the walk without too much assistance, and sat him down on a small bench near the toilet. Once he was settled, Billy stepped away, filling a glass of water at the sink for him.

"Little sips," he prompted, handing it to Charlie, who nodded.

Billy crouched at his feet and took the water glass away when Charlie was done, setting it on the counter.

"It's not so bad now," Charlie assured him. "I think I'm okay."

"Well, we can hang out here for a bit, just in case."

Charlie nodded his agreement and laid his head back against the cool tile behind him.

"You did warn me to take this seriously," he admitted reluctantly.

"I'm sorry. Just give it time, okay?" Billy laid a consoling hand on Charlie's leg just above the knee - an innocuous gesture, but one that sent a rush through Charlie, making his eyes pop open at the unexpected arousal.

"I, uh..." Charlie flushed slightly, embarrassed. "I mean is there any chance you'll leave me alone this time - just for a minute or two," he hastened to add.

"Two minutes," Billy said, rising. "And then I expect you to start talking at least so I know you're okay." He headed for the door. "I'll be right outside. And no locking this! I do enough kicking down doors on the job. Don't really need to bring my work home."

+

"Charlie?" Billy called out, a worried tone in his voice.

The bathroom door opened and Charlie stood in the doorway.

"I'm good. Just a little dizzy still."

"Let's get you back in bed then."

Billy slipped an arm around Charlie's waist, as natural as if he'd done it a hundred times before, and guided him back to bed.

He sat on the edge of the mattress once Charlie was tucked in and laid a hand on his arm.

"I know you're probably as stubborn as your brother, but it's okay to accept help when you need it."

Charlie huffed. "Are we Eppes men that obvious?"

"In a word?" Billy grinned. "Hell, yeah."

"That's two words," Charlie teased playfully.

"The yeah was a bonus," Billy tossed back. "Think you can sleep again?"

"Eventually," Charlie mused. "I'm a world-class sleeper once I get going."

Billy chuckled. "Then I won't wake you early. Not interested in shaking you awake only to draw back a bloody stump."

"I'm not that grumpy in the morning," Charlie said, rolling his eyes.

"Hey, your brother bites! You might too!"

Charlie blushed helplessly at the idea of Don and Billy engaged in rough sex play, mortified at imagining Billy naked as he sat right next to him.

"Oh, I didn't mean like that!" Billy said with a laugh. "Don't try to hide it! I can see where your mind went! And no, I never had anything going with your brother. He's as straight as they come and I don't believe in poaching at work - especially partners." He patted Charlie's arm then went back to his chair. "Get some rest. I'll be right here."

Charlie turned on his side away from Billy and the dim light extinguished, leaving them in inky darkness.

"Billy?"

"Yes?"

"Thanks."

"Don't mention it. Now sleep..."

+

Charlie woke to the siren aroma of coffee and perked an eye open to find Billy watching him over a steaming cup, an amused smile on his lips.

"Is this the part where you tell me I snore?" he grumbled good-naturedly.

"No snoring." Billy's eyes glinted mischievously. "But the bedhead is kind of adorable."

Growling, Charlie ran a hand over his unruly curls. "They're a pain. I keep threatening to shave them all off, wear my hair short like Don's."

"Don't." Billy made a face. "They're you. Don't mess with them."

"They don't need me to be messy," Charlie joked.

"Want some coffee?"

"Please."

Billy rose and walked over to a side table laid out with a full coffee service. He put his cup down and poured one for Charlie.

"A bit of milk and a ton of sugar?"

"Yeah." Charlie watched him as he fixed up the coffee. "You know way too much about me from Don."

"Plenty of time to talk on stakeouts. Not much to do." Billy shrugged. "To be honest he didn't tell me much about you really. Just half bitching about how things were when you were kids and half bragging about you as an adult."

"Don bragged about me?" Charlie asked, incredulous.

"Why wouldn't he?" Billy asked, handing him the coffee. "You've got one of the top minds in the world. Who wouldn't be proud?"

Charlie bent his head over his coffee, a little overwhelmed. "He never says much to me."

"Don's got the curse of the macho," Billy explained. "It's an ex-jock thing. He can only talk about feelings when he's bitching about something, but it comes through in his actions."

"I'm afraid he doesn't act much like it either," Charlie said, sipping.

"He's still in LA, isn't he?" Billy sat back down with his own cup and put his feet up. "He used to run the Albuquerque office before your mom got sick. You think he hasn't gotten offers to run other offices in other cities since she died?"

Charlie pondered that as he took a drink of his coffee. "I never really thought about that. I mean, I guess I thought he'd have said something if he got a better offer."

"That's not his way. He'd just turn them down politely and stay put. He doesn't want your dad and you to feel guilty about what he gave up - his career, his friends, his fiancée..."

"We didn't want him to give them up," Charlie said, bristling slightly.

"I'm sure you didn't," Billy placated him. "But Don made his decision and he's sticking to it. I admire that."

Charlie nodded. "I just wish he talked to me more."

"Don't we all? So, you ready for breakfast?"

"You don't have to go to any trouble for me."

Billy chuckled. "Trust me when I say I won't have to go to any trouble." He got up and pushed a button next to the light switch. In a matter of seconds, a woman appeared in the doorway.

"I see our guest is awake."

Charlie automatically checked to make sure the covers were over him, despite the fact he was still wearing the Princeton hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants he'd had on when Billy picked him up at the hospital.

"Charlie, meet my housekeeper Magda."

"Hi," Charlie said self-consciously, waving a little.

"Nice to meet you," Magda said, polite yet friendly. "So what can I make you two for breakfast? My chorizo and hash browns scramble?"

"I think maybe something a bit calmer, Magda," Billy said. "Charlie might still be a little unsettled, dizzy, you know."

"Then how about some toast and eggs? With some plain hash browns."

"Anything you make would be fine, thank you," Charlie told her.

She nodded and left as swiftly as she arrived.

"You have a live-in housekeeper?" Charlie marveled.

"One of the perks of wealth," Billy said brightly. "She lives in the guesthouse and as a result her son and daughter are in a kick ass school district, so everyone wins. Come on, let's get you in the shower so you can fix those crazy curls of yours..."

+

Charlie pushed his plate away and accepted a refill of coffee from Magda.

"That was great. Thank you."

"You're welcome. Maybe tomorrow you'll feel well enough to try my chorizo."

"It's great, really." Billy looked up from his plate of scrambled eggs, chorizo and hash browns and gave it an approving nod. "I swear Magda's having an affair with the butcher to get chorizo this good."

Magda gave him a playful smack on the arm and admonished him in Spanish to which he tossed back a saucy retort in the same language, making her laugh out loud.

"I really should go back to Quantico..." Charlie started, but halted as Billy put his hand up.

"Not negotiable. You're staying here as long as you need. Always room for one more."

"He needs some company," Magda mock whispered. "He's driving me nuts hanging around the house all day with nothing to do!"

She put the coffee pot down on the dining room table and headed back into the kitchen.

"You're not working right now?" Charlie asked, raising an eyebrow.

Billy made a face. "Administrative leave. Some felon with a beef cut himself with a kitchen knife and claimed I did it. No witnesses and he gave himself a pretty good gash so they doubt my story that it was self-inflicted."

"Billy! There's no way you'd..."

"I know. But there are procedures for this crap. I have to sit on the sidelines while they go through the red tape to get me cleared."

"Why can't forensics prove that the wound was self-inflicted?"

"They say the angle of entry and all is inconclusive."

"Get me access to the data. I'll make it conclusive."

"With math?"

"Yes, with math, oh ye of little faith," Charlie chided. "It's all math: angle of entry, force, velocity..."

"Okay!" Billy surrendered. "I'll tell the AD you're in town and would be willing to consult in order to wrap it up faster."

"It's the least I can do."

"Actually it's the most you can do," Billy said. "Magda's right. I'm going stir crazy here."

"So why not take a vacation?"

"Can't leave," Billy grumbled. "They might need me for depositions, paperwork and the like. It pisses me off."

"I'm sorry," Charlie said contritely. "So I guess you really do want company then."

"Yeah," Billy said smiling. "I'd even let you beat me at chess."

Charlie returned his smile, a feeling of warmth rising up inside of him. "In that case I'd let you beat me in Scrabble. But first..." He reluctantly rose from the table. "Duty calls. I have a meeting at Quantico."

+

"Where are we exactly?"

Charlie stood out on Billy's dock and watched a flock of birds soar over the water.

"You've been here three days now and you don't know where you are?" Billy marveled, chuckling.

Charlie shrugged. "It was dark when we first came here and since you drive me to Quantico and back every day I don't really pay attention to the road signs at all. I assume Virginia based on how short the drive is, but past that I'm not familiar with the area enough to know it."

"Stafford County, Virginia," Billy answered. "Aquia Harbour. Just a skip from Widewater Beach to the left." He pointed and Charlie followed with his eyes. "That's Shady Cove, which my street is named after." He pointed to the mostly uninhabited coastline to the right. "I take my kayak over there and run that little strip of beach for exercise. It helps pass the time and keeps me in shape for chasing down numbskulls on the job."

"I like it. It's beautiful... Peaceful..." Charlie curled his fingers around his coffee cup. "By the way, I asked if it would be okay for me to work here at your house instead of on base. They balked, but when I said it was at an FBI agent's house, they agreed. So if it's okay with you..."

"Sounds great!" Billy enthused. "As long as you don't get sick of me hovering around."

"I'd like the company," Charlie admitted. "Quantico is just too sterile and military for me to get comfortable at. I have a final group of meetings today then I should be good to stay here full time."

Billy had a wide grin on his face, practically beaming.

"What is it?" Charlie asked.

"Nothing. Just glad to have you around," Billy said, looking away for a second before he turned and headed back to the house. "Come on, let's get you to work."

"Hey, Billy!" Charlie called after him. "You said you never had anything going with my brother..."

"And I didn't lie," Billy called back, not stopping. "Don't ever lie. No need to."

"What you didn't say is if you wanted to."

Billy halted, paused for a second, then turned around, waiting for Charlie to catch up to him.

"Don't get me wrong, your brother's a good looking guy - and I'm saying this from the point of view of someone whose seen him naked plenty of times in the showers - but I bring enough macho bullshit into a relationship on my own. Really don't need to double it or cube it for that matter, given how alpha male Don is. What?" Billy stared at the huge grin splitting Charlie's face.

"You used a math analogy."

+

"Now, see that strategy isn't going to serve you in the long run, Rocio."

Charlie peered over his laptop to where Billy was sitting on the floor with Magda's kids playing a board game.

"But I don't like leaving my troops alone."

"They're not alone; there are at least two in each of my countries. But the game's called Risk and you have to take risks to win. If you don't keep most of your men on the front lines how are you going to be able to attack and resist attack?"

"But what if you sneak up behind me?"

Elena let out a long-suffering sigh. "It's a board game. How can we sneak? Come on, it's your turn."

"Move your men to the front," Billy urged.

"Actually," Charlie said, putting the laptop aside. "Rocio's strategy has some advantages."

"You want to make this teams?" Billy grinned, clearly delighted.

"How about I help Rocio and you advise Elena and we'll see how both of them do?" Charlie said, settling down on the floor beside Rocio and accepting a high five from the six-year-old.

"You're on! And to make it more interesting, I'll pull half my troops off the board to make it easier for Elena and Rocio to take my territory and duke it out between them."

Between childish whispers and girlish giggles, Billy's territory was devoured fairly evenly by Rocio and Elena. Elena won the first few skirmishes, but Rocio caught her undermanned a few times and managed to win back whatever he'd lost in terms of territories.

"Time for dinner!"

"Let's leave the game here and start it back up later," Charlie suggested. "We don't want to keep your mom waiting."

As Rocio bounded to his feet he caught the edge of the board and it tipped, colored game pieces flying all over the rug.

"Or not," Billy said with a chuckle.

"No!" Elena cried. "I was winning!"

Before Charlie could debate the point, Billy steered her away. "Then be a good winner, not a sore loser. Go on, get washed up."

Charlie knelt to pick up the pieces.

"Leave them for later," Billy said dismissively. "I'm not that fussy and you're right about not keeping Magda waiting." He offered Charlie a hand to rise and he accepted it, the touch lingering a brief second longer than needed to ensure he was steady.

"You're great with the kids, you know?" Charlie said sheepishly. "I don't know why that surprises me."

"Because Don told you stories about me being a wild man?" Billy chuckled as they walked towards the kitchen. "I was in my twenties when we were partners. He's grown up and matured, so maybe I have too. Besides," he smiled as the kids came out of the bathroom and ran into the dining room, "how can you not love the little rugrats? They kind of bring out something in you, you know?"

Charlie watched Billy watching the kids.

"Yeah, I know..."

+

"Careful, Rocio! That pitcher is heavy..."

Magda didn't even get the sentence out of her mouth before the glass pitcher of juice slipped out of Rocio's small hands.

Billy had reacted at the sight too, reaching across the dining room table fast enough to keep the pitcher from emptying its entire contents onto the tablecloth, but not fast enough to keep it from splashing all over Charlie's sweatshirt.

"I'm sorry!" Rocio shrank under his mother's glare. "I got your favorite sweatshirt dirty!"

"It's okay. It's not my favorite," Charlie said consolingly.

"But you wear it all the time..."

"That's enough, Rocio! Take your plate to the kitchen. You too, Elena. Vamanos!"

They all rose from the table, Magda taking the children away as Charlie headed for his bedroom upstairs to change.

When he got inside, he gingerly pulled the wet sweatshirt off to find his t-shirt underneath also stained orange.

He pulled that off, more carefully, wincing as twinges of pain accompanied the movement.

"Hey, I've got another sweatshirt..."

Billy pushed the door open, carrying a sweatshirt in his hands.

Charlie turned at the intrusion and Billy stopped in his tracks, gaping.

"Holy... What happened to you?"

Charlie ran his hands over the gashes, stitched and held together with butterfly bandages that ran across his chest and the base of his neck.

"Yeah, um... So maybe it was a little bit more than a bump on the head..."

Billy dropped the sweatshirt and walked towards Charlie, scowling. He reached out and his fingers grazed the unmarred skin between healing scars as he examined the injuries - tracing the path of the blade across his body.

The stirring of desire that came with Billy's gentle touch was wiped away when he let his eyes fall closed and the memory of the attack hit him full force.

Three quick slashes. A scream. An arm raised for a final killing blow...

"Hey, hey... It's okay..." He found himself enveloped in Billy's arms and rather than pull away embarrassed he let himself sink into the strength and warmth he found there. "You're safe. I've got you..."

Charlie breathed his anxiety away as Billy rubbed soothing circles into his back.

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you," he murmured finally.

"It's okay," Billy said, tucking Charlie's head against his chest under his chin. "I understand."

+

"So Don figures he's going to fix it and he takes the pipe wrench..."

"Uh huh..."

Charlie eyed Billy from the passenger seat. "You're not really listening to this story are you?"

"Not really." Billy's eyes flicked between the road ahead and the rearview mirror. He took a sudden left turn and then a hard right.

"This isn't our normal way to Quantico," Charlie protested.

"No, it's not. Get your phone out and call your contact there. Tell them you might be being followed."

Charlie glanced behind them. "There's no one there."

"They were there. Now call!"

Charlie caved and pulled his phone out.

"This is Dr. Charles Eppes. I have a code to report. Possible 600 en route to Quantico." He paused briefly. "Agent Cooper spotted it."

"Tell them I may have shaken it, but whoever it was they were a pro in a silver sedan."

"Did you get that? Okay." He turned to Billy. "They're tracking your GPS and sending an escort to bring us in."

"Good. I don't like the idea of someone being after you, especially after what happened."

His head cocked to where the healing gashes lay beneath Charlie's button up shirt - his bandages sticking out from inside his collar now that he wasn't trying to hide them with a sweatshirt.

"That was just random violence - wrong place wrong time mugging," Charlie said quietly.

"I work for the government and at the moment so do you." Billy brought the car to a stop at a red light. "I have trouble believing in random violence when it comes to folks like us. Best to just be careful."

Despite the long wait at the light, no cars pulled up behind them.

"See?" Charlie said. "No tail."

"That doesn't mean anything. They probably figured out that I made them when I turned so they backed off."

"I think you're reading too much into this," Charlie said dismissively.

Before the light turned green, three SUVs with flashing lights sped into the intersection and surrounded Billy's car.

"Wow, that was fast," Charlie marveled.

"Looks like the cavalry's arrived," Billy said, heading through the intersection when the light turned green, following the lead car of the escort. "Something to be said for having hundreds of armed agents and soldiers in your backyard..."

+

"No!"

Charlie stormed out of Assistant Director Chad Harper's office and gestured to Billy in one of the waiting area chairs.

"We leaving?"

"Most definitely."

"Dr. Eppes!" Chad chased after him. "You can't do this! You need to be under our protection!"

Charlie spun around and faced Chad down. "I agreed to leave the West Coast, leave my family and friends, my job - all of it - behind to come work on this project for two whole months. Now you want to put me into what's essentially solitary confinement because someone might have been following me? No. I agreed to this mission, but not to hand over my life to you. I'm perfectly safe at Agent Cooper's."

"You're making us out to be such ogres!" Chad protested. "We'd just prefer..."

"I don't give a damn what you prefer!" Charlie spat back. "You want a meeting with me, hold it online or come to where I am. I'm done jumping at your beck and call."

"Excuse us for a moment." Billy interceded, pulling Charlie away out of earshot. "If you really are in any danger, there's no safer place around than a military base like Quantico," he said gently.

"I don't like it here," Charlie complained quietly, moving subtly closer. "I feel safe with you." His eyes pleaded and Billy accepted his request with a nod.

"Give me a minute to smooth things over with the A.D. and then we'll go home."

Charlie nodded sullenly, his arms wrapped around himself.

Billy was gone just a couple of minutes then returned, ushering Charlie out with a hand at the small of his back.

"I got us a compromise. We get an escort to and from the house, but they'll leave us alone at my place."

"I can accept that," Charlie said, still frowning but loosening up a little.

"Hey, I have a vested interest in wanting to keep you at my place," Billy said, nudging him with an encouraging smile. "And nothing's going to happen to you on my watch."

+

"Shouldn't the kids be home from summer school by now?"

Billy was focused on repairing Rocio's remote control car, glue pen in his hand as his face screwed up in concentration working on the tiny parts.

"They're visiting their father," he said, eyes never leaving his project.

Charlie stared at him for a moment.

"You sent them away because of me, because you thought I was being followed."

"Nope."

"You can't tell me that it's just coincidence that they left just after it happened."

"You're right, I can't."

Charlie let out a long sigh. "I need to be precise in what I ask you in order to get a straight answer, don't I?"

"It helps."

"Please," Charlie said, closing the lid of his laptop. "Just tell me."

Billy put down the glue and looked up at Charlie. "I told Magda exactly what happened and left it to her to decide. I told her I'd pay for her and the kids to stay elsewhere if that's what she wanted, that she didn't have to work here at the house until she felt safe here. She decided to stay, but sent the kids to their father's place just in case."

Charlie stared at his laptop, but didn't open it back up. "That's all I wanted, just the truth."

"I never lie," Billy stressed. "Though I have been known to practice the sin of omission."

"I'll leave. I'll go back to Quantico so the kids can come home." Charlie rose and headed for his bedroom only to have Billy snatch his wrist and hold it in his firm yet gentle grasp.

"Charlie, this is my house, my home. I want you here. I'd gladly pay for Magda and the kids to go to flipping Disneyworld if they wanted just so you could stay here with me." His thumb took a single slow swipe across the back of Charlie's hand. "I know you don't believe anyone was really following you, but that doesn't matter right now. What matters is I want you here and I can protect you if it does turn out to be something." He paused for a moment, his hand tightening briefly. "Stay."

Charlie closed his eyes, breathed through the cavalcade of emotions rushing through him as his focus uncontrollably shifted to the single point of contact between his skin and Billy's.

"All right. I'll stay."

+

"Yes... I understand. Keep me posted."

Charlie hung up his cell phone and stared out across the water beyond the windows.

"Hey Charlie! Magda made cookies for a wedding tomorrow and she made extra..." Billy mumbled around a mouthful of cookie, powdered sugar coating his lips. He halted as he came in from the kitchen when he caught sight of Charlie's disturbed expression. "What is it?"

Charlie faced him, somber. "Quantico got hacked."

"Crap... Bad?"

"They're trying to figure it out. Ends up a random security audit discovered a hidden backdoor. They think it might have been planted from the inside."

Billy blinked, shocked. "Oh, that's really bad."

"Yeah." Charlie nervously toyed with the phone in his hand. "I'm waiting for a call back to see if my work was involved. Ends up the one server they've found so far that's for sure been breached is the one my project is hosted on."

Billy sank into a chair, setting aside the plate of cookies without looking at it. "I'm really not liking the sound of this. The attack, the tail, now this?"

"They're not related," Charlie stressed. "And you can't even prove there was anyone tailing us."

"Hey! I allow that you know your math, allow that I know my job just as well!" Billy took a deep breath. "I'm sorry, that came out harsher than I meant. I'm just worried."

Charlie sat anxiously on the edge of the chair next to him. "I am too. I ran the statistics on the rest of it and I'm convinced that the probability my attack was random is very high. But the server? Quantico is filled with classified information on dozens and dozens of servers. For it to be mine..." He stared down at the phone in his hands. "Yeah, I'm unnerved."

They sat in strained silence for a moment before Billy broke it, trying to sound hopeful. "Well, nothing you can do right now, so try to relax until news comes in. How about a cookie?" Charlie shrugged his shoulders haphazardly at his offer, so Billy picked one up and held it out to Charlie. Rather than offer to hand it to him, he held it up to put it directly in Charlie's mouth. "They're good..."

Charlie finally caved, opening his mouth and letting Billy put the small cookie on his tongue - feeling a little flush of interest from his body at the subtly intimate gesture. Charlie chewed and his face brightened. "That is good," he mumbled. He watched rapt as Billy sucked clean his sugar-dusted fingers, then - shaking himself - gestured to his mouth. "You have..." Billy reacted by wiping his mouth, but missed the trace of sugar at the corner. "Here..." Charlie reached the rest of the way over and rubbed his thumb across the edge of Billy's lips, wiping the sugar away.

The familiarity of their interplay had shifted the energy between them, leaving a charge hanging in the air. Charlie withdrew his hand, a little bashful at what he'd done, then jumped as his phone rang. He stared at it, paralyzed with dread.

"You need to answer it," Billy urged gently. "If it's bad news, we'll deal with it."

Charlie nodded woodenly and flipped open the phone. "Hello... Yes..." He paused, listening, then turned to Billy - apprehension clear on his face. "No, those are internal documents so they weren't encrypted like my data is. My name is all over those reports..."

+

"Tour's done," Billy said, plopping down on the couch beside Charlie. "I showed the agents on your detail the security features of the property so they'll pass that information on to the next shift."

"Are you sure..." Charlie started.

"Not up for discussion," Billy interrupted. "You're staying here and that's final." He reached over and rubbed Charlie's back as he sat hunched over and tense. "How are you doing?"

"Kind of freaked," Charlie admitted. "I've worked classified cases, top secret, for years, but I've always trusted the government to keep the details of my work safe. I mean, it's not hard to figure that someone in my position does consulting for the FBI and the NSA and so on, but to know what project I'm working on?" He shuddered, drawing an uneven breath. "The idea that someone, some enemy of the state, knows my name and what I've been doing for the government? I've never felt that way about my work before, never felt that..."

"Exposed?" Billy suggested.

"Yeah, that's the word. I know I'm a civilian and that makes me vulnerable, but I trusted..." He closed his eyes, trying to let Billy soothe him, but the tension was too great. "I trusted too much."

"Come over here." Billy gestured to Charlie to sit back, facing away from him. When he obeyed, Billy started massaging his shoulders. "You're going to make yourself sick worrying."

"I can't stop thinking about it," Charlie said plaintively. "I know it's not my server, but I feel so violated! I'm worried about putting anything in Quantico's datacenter now."

"Maybe not a bad thing." Billy paused for a moment. "You know, it might be safer for you to go back to California to work."

"No," Charlie said quickly and adamantly. "I had them put an agent on the house, but I'm not going to do anything that might put my father at greater risk. I know Don's like you - he can take care of himself - but my Dad?"

"Charlie," Billy said gently. "If they know your name they can get to your dad regardless of where you are."

"I know that," Charlie responded. "But the illogical part of my brain keeps screaming at me not to bring danger home when all I want to do is go hide in my bedroom until this is all over."

"That's not illogical exactly, it's just the part that loves your family and would do anything to keep them safe. Plenty of logic in trying to save those you love from grief and pain."

Charlie leaned back into Billy's kneading hands, closing his eyes for a moment.

"You know, with that line of thinking, it makes you illogical for bringing me into your house."

A quiet knock came from the back porch where one of the agents stood outside. "Excuse me, Agent Cooper? We have a question about securing the dock area." The agent waited for Billy to gesture for him to wait before stepping away from the open French doors and out of sight.

Billy gave Charlie's shoulders one last squeeze before he got up to go assist the agents guarding the house.

"Don't be so sure of that, Professor..."

+

A blaring alarm jolted Charlie out of a deep sleep and he barely had time to sit up before Billy grabbed him by the arm, hauling him out of bed forcibly.

"What?" Charlie mumbled, caught between the fog of too little sleep and the rush of fear-induced adrenaline surging through him.

Billy dragged him, stumbling, down the hall to the master bedroom. Charlie realized in an odd moment of clarity that he'd been there for weeks and yet never seen Billy's bedroom.

Despite the darkness, he could tell the room was large and barely got a chance to look around, to try to adjust his eyes, when Billy forced him through a low opening in the wall.

"Stay in there! I'll be back for you."

Billy's terse whisper held great strain behind it, but before he could ask anything, the wall closed up behind him and he was alone.

A dim light showed him he was in a panic room - a tiny space with not much more than a cushion on the floor, a medium sized metal box and an array of monitoring electronics, all dimmed as if turned off.

Afraid to mess with anything, Charlie sat on the cushion, pulling his knees up to his chest and wrapping his arms around them.

He tried not to let claustrophobia set in, but the idea that if Billy didn't come back no one might find him or know where he was set him to near hyperventilation.

He wanted out, but there was no latch on the wall that had closed behind him.

Gasping, he fought to stay calm and for long minutes could do nothing more than run his fingers along the seam of the wall, hoping for it to magically open and bring him air and freedom.

When it opened suddenly he almost fell out, heading straight for the nearest window and throwing it open, taking in great gulps of air.

"Easy there, easy..." Billy soothed, keeping his distance. "Just breathe, plenty of air."

"I don't want to go back in there," Charlie muttered between breaths.

"Okay." Billy put out a hand to assuage him and only then did Charlie notice the gun in Billy's other hand. "I'm sorry. I didn't know you were claustrophobic."

"Neither did I, at least not that much," Charlie admitted. "What happened? Why did the alarm go off?"

"False alarm. Shift change and the agent coming on duty hadn't paid enough attention during his briefing," Billy growled. "I wanted to read him the riot act, but I wanted to come get you out first."

He headed over by the bed and returned without the gun.

"Don't leave, okay?" Charlie's voice was small in the darkness.

"I'm right here," Billy assured him. "Why don't you come sit on the bed? I'll open all the windows for you." Charlie let Billy lead him away and curled up on the bed as Billy threw open all the windows, letting the crisp air of the harbor float in, heavy with night jasmine from the bushes surrounding the property. "That better?"

Charlie nodded even as a shiver overtook him. "Yeah."

Billy pulled down the covers. "Get into bed, it's still warm."

Unable or unwilling to protest, Charlie slid into the recently vacated spot in Billy's bed, feeling the warmth he left behind and inhaling the scent of him infused in the linens. Something about the scent was familiar, like Don, and his eyes were starting to close again before he remembered why.

"Do you remember Don getting Hanukkah presents when you were partners?"

Billy blinked at the unexpected question, but sat on the edge of the bed to answer. "Sure, he shared your mom's Hanukkah care packages with me and I shared my Christmas ones with him."

"I used to send him this aftershave he said he liked..."

"And I used to pilfer it so often Don finally gave me some for my birthday. Still wear it. It's my favorite."

Charlie smiled. "That explains it." He snuggled under the covers. "Can I stay here a little longer? You have so many more windows than I do."

"Stay the whole night," Billy said, patting his arm consolingly. "Just try to go back to sleep. I need to go talk to the agents on duty, but I'll be back to check on you in a few minutes."

He slipped away and Charlie settled in, letting the sweet scent from the outdoors mixed with the heady scent of Billy and his aftershave soothe him.

When Billy returned, he stood - looking a little uncertain - until Charlie pulled down the covers on the other side of the bed.

"Cold out there," he murmured. "Your bed's big enough. Don't want you to freeze in a chair or something silly like that."

Charlie could see the ghost of smile in the shadows then felt the bed dip as Billy got in the other side.

"I'll be right here if you need me."

Charlie settled his head back into the pillow, letting the pull of sleep claim him again.

"I know..."

+

Charlie cracked an eye open to an unfamiliar sight: a bank of windows, all wide open.

As he blinked away the last of sleep, the night before came back to him and he looked down at the bedding to confirm he indeed wasn't in his own bed.

"You up, sleepyhead?" came a drawl from right next to him.

Charlie rolled over to find Billy sitting cross-legged on the bed, wearing a pair of old worn FBI sweats and eating out of a large box of donuts in front of him.

"Donuts?" Charlie mused with a crooked grin.

"It's a step down from Magda's chorizo, but I like to indulge every once in a while." He licked his fingers and pushed the box over towards Charlie. "Saved you some jellies."

"How did you know I liked... Oh wait, Don," Charlie let out a sigh, but pulled a donut out, accepting a paper napkin from Billy.

"Yeah, he always made me get extra jellies since he said you always stole them all."

"He blamed me for eating the jellies, but I know my Dad ate them too. He just didn't want my Mom to know how many he'd eaten." He took a bite and let out a satisfied rumble. "Mmm... Lemon filled. My favorite."

"Got a bunch of raspberry ones too." Billy grabbed a thermos of coffee off the nightstand then paused. "Shit, I forgot to get a second cup."

Charlie shrugged. "I'm cool with using yours, if you are."

"Didn't get cooties from your brother, so fine with me," Billy teased, pouring coffee into the thermos cup and handing it to him. As Charlie drank he looked away, staring at the duvet as he spoke. "Listen, I hate to leave you alone, especially after last night, but I have something I need to do - somewhere I need to go."

"I could go with you," Charlie offered, almost shyly. "I feel like I still don't know much about your life."

Billy looked like he was thinking for a few seconds, then shook his head. "It's not really my call. I won't be gone long and you've got agents on the house, so you'll be fine. There's always the panic room..." He held up a hand to halt Charlie's protest. "If you're desperate, that is."

"I know it makes sense, but just the idea of going in there again, being trapped..."

"You weren't trapped in there and there was plenty of air, I swear."

"There's no latch! I couldn't figure out how to get out!"

"You didn't turn on the screen to access the controls?" Billy asked, perplexed.

"I was afraid to touch anything," Charlie admitted sheepishly.

Billy smiled indulgently. "I'm sorry about that. I should have told you I had a panic room and showed you how it worked. It's just no one save me and the guy who built it for me knew it existed until now and I was kind of hoping to keep it a secret, for obvious reasons."

Charlie let his head hang down. "I'm sorry I screwed that up for you."

"Hey!" Billy looked at him, his expression intense. "You did not screw anything up. A stupid secret room means nothing compared to your life, you hear me?"

Charlie nodded, hands gripping the cup. "I just feel like a burden to you."

"Some burdens we choose to take on." Billy got up off the bed and headed for the bathroom. "I need to go shower so I can leave. I'll only be gone a couple of hours, okay? And you can call me if you need me."

"I'll be fine on my own."

Billy paused, looking back at Charlie, small in the oversized bed.

"I hope so..."

+

Without Billy home - or Magda and the kids - Charlie wandered the house restlessly, too scattered to work and too agitated to sit still.

He pulled his laptop out of his bag and put it back three times before he grew angry at himself for his lack of focus.

Drawn to the outdoors yet bound by a promise he'd made not to leave the house, he felt antsy, hovering near the open windows, pacing before the French doors.

He'd only been in the panic room - with the door open - for a couple of minutes while Billy showed him the control system, but it was enough to reawaken the phobia in him and he found himself drawing deeper breaths as a result of those memories.

The sound of a car coming up the driveway perked him up and he headed to the front door to welcome Billy home, glad he hadn't stayed away that long.

When he opened the door though it was just another nameless, faceless agent flashing a badge at him.

"Dr. Eppes? Please get your laptop and come with me."

"What?" Charlie said, stunned. "What's going on?"

"There's been a threat and we need to get you to a secure location. Please, just get your laptop."

Brow furrowed, Charlie obeyed, fetching his bag from the living room. "Why can't I just stay here? I'm safe here."

"This location's been compromised."

"What about Agent Cooper? He needs to know where I've gone. I need to call him."

The agent took the phone out of Charlie's hand. "No cell phones. We can't risk you being tracked."

"Then let me call him on yours then," Charlie protested.

The agent just ushered him back to the front door. "Later, once we get you out of here."

Charlie frowned as the agent all but pushed him out of the house. "I want to talk to A.D. Harper. I am not happy about this change of plans."

"Later," the agent said brusquely. "Get in the back and lie down on the seat. We don't want to risk you being seen leaving."

"You've got to be kidding," Charlie complained.

The agent took his gun out of his holster. "Just do it."

+

The drive wasn't long, but when they stopped and Charlie looked up, he realized they'd long since left civilization behind. The area was rural, no buildings around but a short dock, wooden and ancient looking, stuck out into the dark waters.

The agent opened the back door and gestured for him to get out of the car.

Charlie hesitated, the sight of him carelessly waving the gun around filling him with dread.

"You're going to kill me."

It came out almost as a rhetorical question despite the certainty and abject terror in Charlie's gut.

"Dr. Eppes, why would you say such a thing?" The content of the words should have been reassuring, but the icy tone of the voice delivering them held no such comfort. "Now, please. Get out of the car. We've got a boat coming to pick you up in just a few minutes and we need to get out on the dock."

He pulled Charlie by the arm, keeping the gun close but not pointed at him. They walked out to the end of the dock where a smattering of old rusted equipment lay about.

"There's no boat coming, is there?" Charlie demanded. "Or if it is, it's one of your accomplices, come to question me about the project."

"I know all about your project, Dr. Eppes," the man intoned. "I know you're not assessing terror cell networks to make connections to civilian contractors. You're looking for connections to federal employees."

"And you think I've found some I shouldn't have?"

The man shrugged. "Moot now."

Charlie laughed, just on the edge of hysteria. "My life... Moot..."

As they approached the end of the dock, the agent gestured. "Sit." Charlie swallowed hard, looking all around for any signs of life. "Sit!" the agent repeated, tugging his arm until Charlie obeyed, plopping down at the end of the dock beside a pile of stuff he'd barely noticed before. The agent crouched down in front of him, pulling out a pair of handcuffs. Charlie tried to back away, but ran into a buoy and a pile of rusted chains behind him. The agent held his gun in one hand and snapped a bracelet on one of Charlie's wrists. Charlie pulled his other hand as far away as possible to keep him from binding his wrists together, but the agent didn't even try to get to his other hand, unexpectedly latching the other end on a large concrete block with a metal ring in it.

Stunned, Charlie pulled, but the ring hadn't rusted enough to weaken and it held fast.

"Great, so now you've got me where you want me," he said, trying for sarcasm even as panic welled within him.

"Not quite." The agent pushed the concrete block towards the edge of the dock.

Charlie's eyes widened as he realized his plan was to push it over the edge into the water.

"No! You can't do this! I-I'm important to the government!" he stuttered. "They'd pay a ransom to get me back! You don't have to do this!"

The agent paused. "If I promise to spare your life would you tell me the password to the encrypted files we got off the Quantico server?"

"Those files contain all the data the US has on international terror cells," Charlie said, trying to keep his voice even. "All of it. I can't just hand it over."

"Didn't think so." The agent pushed a bit further. "But with you gone no one will get what's in your files either."

"Stop it! Stop!" Charlie pleaded. As the block neared the edge, teetering, he screamed as loud as he could. "Help! Someone help..."

Before he could get the last word out, he felt himself jerked over the side. He hit the water before he could get a breath and sank beneath the surface, his heart racing with adrenaline.

Once he righted himself he tried to swim towards the surface, but the block was too heavy. Despite his kicking, it dragged him down to the bottom.

The water was shallow enough he could see the filtered sunlight above him. Scant feet separated him from life-giving air, but his lungs burned, already desperate for oxygen.

He pulled and pulled, pain screaming in his hand as the unyielding metal cut into him.

A wave of claustrophobia overwhelmed him - this time he really was trapped without air and his mind overloaded, almost shutting down as he flailed, railing against the senselessness of his death.

No one would find him. The chilling thought hit him all at once. Don, his father... Billy... His body would never be located. They'd never know what happened to him, never be able to lay him to rest. The idea of his skeleton chained to the block for eternity...

Then there was a splash above him - someone in the water looking... Looking for him.

He waved his free hand and felt the person grab it. They pulled, but nothing happened - there wasn't enough leverage to pull Charlie and the anchoring block from the water.

The shape came closer and Charlie could make out a face: Billy.

Knowing he couldn't see down by the murky bottom, Charlie grabbed Billy's hand and guided it down to feel the cuffs and the block.

With a rush of bubbles, Billy was gone, up and out of the water.

Charlie watched him go, panicking all over again.

Billy had come, but Billy hadn't been able to save him.

No one could save him.

He felt lightheaded, the cold water stealing the last of sensation from him as he began to black out.

There was another splash above him and Billy was back. He swam up to Charlie and Charlie looked at him mournfully, trying to forgive him with his eyes, thank him for caring and trying.

Billy grabbed him and moved close, bringing their mouths together. Forcing Charlie's open, he blew air into his lungs.

Charlie choked a little, swallowing some water, but the tiny bit of air helped.

Billy surfaced again and this time the air transfer was easier. A third time cleared his head enough for him to realize that Billy's hands at his wrist meant something.

He had a key.

It took interminable seconds, Billy working without sight, but finally the cuff came loose and Billy swam him up to the surface.

Charlie came up sputtering and coughing, gulping in air as Billy held him up, treading water for both of them until they could swim around to the side of the dock with a ladder they could climb back up.

On top of the dock, Charlie staggered, but Billy was there to steady him.

Charlie looked up at him, fragile and shaken, unable to speak.

Billy met his gaze and in one movement took Charlie's face in his hands and kissed him, pouring all of his desperation, desire and need to give and receive comfort into that one effort.

Charlie melted against him, losing himself in the kiss - so familiar for a first time, yet just as easy as they'd fallen into playing house. This was what everything had led up to. The rightness of it all had finally fallen into place.

Sirens squealed and black and white police cars screeched up to the dock area.

Billy pulled him close, crushing him to his chest in a possessive embrace born out of fear of loss.

"It's over," he murmured. "It's all over."

Charlie turned his face away from the body of the agent on the dock, hiding it in Billy's chest.

They stood dripping wet on the dock, knowing the police would have questions yet in that moment not caring about anything but the connection between them - unsevered.

+
 
 
 
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on December 9th, 2008 02:05 am (UTC)
Confession
Please see Part 2 for Confession post.

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 9th, 2008 02:28 am (UTC)
I read this through when you posted it as a test yesterday. I really liked it. There's not a lot of Billy/Charlie that doesn't jump strait to the smut. Not that smuts a bad thing. Anyways a good exciting story.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 9th, 2008 02:32 am (UTC)
Damn it! /is seriously pissed no one said anything right away/

I put it on private but when I edited it again it went off private for some reason.

Well, you didn't get the whole fic, so there's still more to read tomorrow I guess. I'm just peeved that it was ruined by LJ fucking up again.

(Can you tell I'm not taking this well?)

Anyway, like A Shift in the Continuum this is a slash relationship story. No smut, just a slow building of what I hope is a reasonable development of feelings between two people.

Thanks for reading.
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 9th, 2008 07:02 am (UTC)
I would have said something but it was only up for a moment and I wanted a preview. I knew the second I hit refresh it would vanish. I'll read the rest tomorrow. I had a feeling that it wasn't really at the end. I'm having a lot of problems with lj these days. Every morning I have to hand code the formating into my whitman chapter because if I just cut and past from word it refuses to make a lj cut or moves the cut every time I edit. grrrrrr.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 9th, 2008 07:18 am (UTC)
Are you pasting into HTML mode or Rich Text? I know the latter is problematic, thus me never using it. I think LJ has a known issue on the LJ-cut issue, but they're not exactly speedy - or forthcoming IMHO - with bug issues.

I'm just so used to reusing my headers in Word whenever there's a tiny mistake in them it tends to get propagated over and over! LOL Thankfully it's not often, but I do find myself grumbling over how unfriendly posting to LJ can be. So my condolences, especially given how long Whitman is!

FWIW, have you considered a client? I've not used them, but some people use them to post and like them. You could always download one and deinstall it if you don't like it, but if you do like it? It might make Whitman go a lot easier. Just a thought...

As far as the fic goes, I know exactly how long it was up and thankfully someone did tell me eventually, but I hate getting embarrassed in public and this, to me, made me look bad and that really bothers me.
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 9th, 2008 07:28 am (UTC)
I was using Rich Text but I've had to switch to HTML. I've got a standard format for my headers now which I'm copying every day and just changing the new stuff but I'm still having to put in stupid italic tags and stuff like that. There is a chapter coming up with very complicated formatting that I couldn't code on a bet so I'm just going to have to do a save as html and keep my fingers crossed.

I know about feeling embarrassed on line which is stupid 'cause it's not like 99% of your readers would recognize you or me walking down the street. If I recall I tried double prompting when I first joined numb3rs100 and felt rather small when you pointed out I couldn't do that. Don't worry about it. It was a lj goof anyways and since you had test at the top I think everyone figured it was a lj goof, at least I did.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 9th, 2008 08:15 am (UTC)
If I recall I tried double prompting when I first joined numb3rs100 and felt rather small when you pointed out I couldn't do that.

I'm sorry you felt badly about that. It seems sometimes now matter how you say something there's no good way to point out someone's error without making them feel bad. I tend to take on that job at N100 since there's already quite a few people in the fandom who don't like me and I don't want Mel to suffer since people really seem to like her. Many new people get corrected and go on to become regular posters, but here and there a few get all up in arms and take their toys elsewhere. /shrugs/ It's part and parcel of being a comm mod - someone has to enforce the rules (simple as they are, we don't have that many compared to other comms) else there's chaos for everyone and it's no longer a good comm to read.

I'm not sure what you consider complicated formatting, but if you need a hand coding that one chapter I'd be happy to help. I've done coding for work so it doesn't faze me at all. I'm the kind of person who finds themselves typing the italics code right into the first draft of the fic on autopilot. LMK if I can be of any help.

I'm not worried about walking down the street, but I do have to 'live' with these people online and it's not like IRL where you can live in the same house and go to the same job and then change friends. Here? You have to move your entire blog to get away from your former friends and start fresh with new ones else your past will haunt you. (Trust me on this.)
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 9th, 2008 03:58 pm (UTC)
I might take you up on that offer. I have a big chunk of a chapter that formatted like a magazine interview with lots of block indents and those always seem to choke lj when I use them.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 9th, 2008 11:39 pm (UTC)
Feel free. You know my email...
melissimamelissima on December 9th, 2008 02:53 am (UTC)
OMG Squeeeeeeeeeeee! I'm so excited this is up. :bounces: The way you write them is just so them.

*loves*

I can't start quoting from it or I'll wind up quoting the whole thing, but there is more than one part that hits me in the chest. I can only hope to be able, one day, to affect my own readers the way you affect me.

Oh, what the hell. One or two little quotes won't hurt! (read: I can't help myself.)

Billy dropped the sweatshirt and walked towards Charlie, scowling. He reached out and his fingers grazed the unmarred skin between healing scars as he examined the injuries - tracing the path of the blade across his body.

The stirring of desire that came with Billy's gentle touch was wiped away when he let his eyes fall closed and the memory of the attack hit him full force.

Three quick slashes. A scream. An arm raised for a final killing blow.


I felt that right along with both of them - the sick panic, the helplessness.
Woe.

Gasping, he fought to stay calm and for long minutes could do nothing more than run his fingers along the seam of the wall, hoping for it to magically open and bring him air and freedom.

When it opened suddenly he almost fell out, heading straight for the nearest window and throwing it open, taking in great gulps of air.


Meep! I flail every time I get to this part. :flails:

No one would find him. The chilling thought hit him all at once. Don, his father... Billy... His body would never be located. They'd never know what happened to him, never be able to lay him to rest. The idea of his skeleton chained to the block for eternity...

This is the place where I catch myself holding my breath, and I have to deliberately look around the room and take a couple deep breaths. Gah! You got me so good.

I hope everybody reads this, because I think it's one of the best stories the fandom has seen in a good long while.



Now what about that sequel? ;-)



Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 9th, 2008 03:13 am (UTC)
Now what about that sequel?

Gah! You evol woman! Harbor House is for 2009! /mock glares/

I ♥ when you do these quotes and give your reaction - it makes me so happy to read them.

I'm sorry it took so long to get posted. /hangs head/ At least it turned out very nicely so I can't feel too bad about it. I have a feeling Harbor House will be just as lovely from Billy's POV.

And longer... /headdesk/
melissima: Billy...*drool*melissima on December 9th, 2008 03:26 am (UTC)
I'm sorry it took so long to get posted. /hangs head/

You don't get to apologize for that considering how slow at least one of your betas is...

I can't wait for Harbor House. :bounces:
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 9th, 2008 03:42 am (UTC)
Rereading this? *I* was thinking the same thing about Harbor House! I kept getting Billy POV popping up and I had to say "RRRuff! Bad doggy!" Hehehe
Tori Lovelostandalone22 on December 9th, 2008 09:17 am (UTC)
I ended up getting to read this on my trip, and I really enjoyed it. It's a good story, and one that captivated my attention. Great job!
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 9th, 2008 09:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad it helped make the long drive go down a bit easier! (I wish I could read in cars, but at least I can in trains and buses!)
merle_p: Colby/Davidmerle_p on December 9th, 2008 10:08 am (UTC)
Wow, that was great. Charlie/Billy is still one of my favorite pairings, and I can't wait to read more.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 9th, 2008 09:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! Part 2 was just posted! It was just a happy accident for me that Hotel Royale (my other fave Charlie/Billy this year) got posted just before this one. :-)
Devo79devo79 on December 9th, 2008 01:21 pm (UTC)
A slow Billy/Charlie. Nice =)
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 9th, 2008 09:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Part 2 is up now!
Devo79devo79 on December 9th, 2008 11:33 pm (UTC)
Just read part two =)
There just isn't enough Billy/Charlie in the world.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 9th, 2008 11:38 pm (UTC)
I'm working on it! Hehehe

Harbor House will help - it's going to be nice and long so at least I'll be able to say I made a major contribution or two to the pairing. ;-)

Thanks for reading!
devon99 on December 9th, 2008 07:14 pm (UTC)
What have you done to me Emma?

I don't really read Charlie/Cooper fics, but I always like to take a peek at your work and I loved this. It was full of such warmth and had a real lightness of touch that I loved. And exciting too!!

You certainly are opening me up to the possibilties of new pairings - I even slashed Charlie with Spencer Reid the other day - and thats UNHEARD of for me!!!

Look forward to more fom you:)



Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on December 9th, 2008 09:56 pm (UTC)
Hee! Charlie/Spencer is great! Twice the genius, twice the fun!

Truthfully, in the hands of an author whose work you like many pairings you couldn't see in canon work better in fic. Characters can be subtly molded into people we find more appealing. My slashwife writes Charmita and I should find it unappealing, but I like *her* Charmita and *her* Charlie/OFC even though I normally have no interest in such things. I just like them in her hands. (And if you like my Charlie/Billy? Definitely try hers!)

This Charlie/Billy is very similar to my Charlie/Ethan fic A Shift in the Continuum. I adored that fic so writing a second slow slash relationship story with Charlie was a delight. Maybe my delight came out on the page and helped ensnare you to reconsider.

Being a bit of a pairings whore I love looking for new pairings that people haven't really tried to warm up to. Writing Billy/Colby and Ian/Colby was a revelation. I had never seen them that way (Clean Slate/A Hearty Breakfast and Air/Wilderness Bound) but now that I have, I love writing them!

So I hope you'll give more of them a try now. I keep looking at all the Charlie/Colby people and thinking about how much they're missing out on by sticking mostly to one pairing. Variety is the spice of life fic and I want it all.

Part 2 just went up so enjoy reading!

Thanks for your great comment and for taking a chance on the fic! I appreciate your support.
Karen: numb3rs charliebyrons_brain on December 14th, 2008 12:01 pm (UTC)
WOW this is incedible, I love it!