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14 April 2010 @ 03:54 pm
Numb3rs Fic: Champion  
Posted to numb3rs_slash

Title: Champion (Sequel to Without)
Series/Universe: Not the Only One
Pairing/Characters: Charlie/Colby, David
Rating: PG13
Spoilers: Judgment Call, Breaking Point
Summary: Charlie returns from a week of training with his new service dog Penny
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ

Charlie had returned that morning as scheduled - Alan had confirmed that much with a text message - but there had been no word from Charlie himself.

Colby looked at the clock for what felt like the thousandth time that day, making David let out a groan that was half annoyance and half amusement.

"Dude, just go over there! Your mind's clearly already there. It certainly hasn't been here all day."

Colby looked down at the pitifully small stack of folders he'd processed in their search that day compared to David's relatively hefty stack.

"I got stuff done," he huffed, feeling a bit defensive. "Besides, Charlie said not to come over until he was done getting the new service dog used to the house. Apparently it's best if the two of them get her used to the house alone so even Alan's been kicked out today."

"I always wanted a dog," David mused, looking thoughtful. "But dogs in apartment buildings? Not easy. Still, this dude down the street had this kick ass pit bull and Rottweiler mix..." He trailed off, seeming to enjoy the memory. "Anyway, what kind of dog did Charlie end up with?"

"A black lab - an older one. She's up for retirement soon so they figured why retire her early when someone with a short term need can use her."

"And let me guess," David added. "Charlie made a sizable donation to their organization?"

Colby snickered. "Now David, why would you assume such a thing?" he mocked, joining David in his wry chuckle. "Seriously, everyone wins including Penny - that's the dog. She's got a nice house to retire at now that her old owner's in a nursing home."

"Dang, I wouldn't mind retiring to a nice Craftsman myself," David added.

Colby's phone bleated with a notice of a new text message.

He pulled it out to look, expecting a work call, but hoping for at least news from Alan.

Better still, it was from Charlie.

'Am home. Penny's here. Come by and meet her?'

The rush of anticipation that had been bubbling under all day flushed through Colby all at once and he couldn't stop the giddy smile from taking up its place on his face.

"Go," David scoffed, good-natured. "I'll cover for you."

Colby clapped his partner on the shoulder in appreciation "Thanks, man."

As he headed out to the car, figuring he'd call as soon as he got on the road using his Bluetooth headset, the phone beeped for a second text message.

'Missed you.'

Colby stopped short so abruptly another agent who'd walked out of the elevator behind him almost ran into him. After an apologetic expression to his co-worker, he pulled off to the side and answered back.

'Missed you too. A lot. On my way.'

He sent it without thinking, trusting his gut rather than worrying too much about what he said.

Traffic wasn't bad so he made good time on the way to Pasadena, his speed creeping up towards the end as his excitement grew at seeing Charlie again after a week's absence.

He pulled up in front of the house and walked up the driveway, tuning his ears for canine input. The house sounded normal and no bark met his ears as he knocked on the front door.

"It's open!" he heard Charlie call from within. Colby opened the door, making a mental note to give Charlie the safety lecture on leaving his door unlocked, but stopped short when he saw Charlie standing beaming with a black dog sitting right beside him, both of them looking right at Colby. "Colby," Charlie said, gesturing to his animal companion, his tone almost formal save the playfulness in it. "I'd like you to meet Penny." With a grin he added. "It's okay to pet her. She's off duty now."

Colby came a bit closer and crouched down, offering Penny his hand to sniff. She was all black save some gray hair around her aging muzzle and she gave him an investigatory sniff then a friendly lick to the back of his hand.

"I think she just might like me." Colby moved his hand to scritch behind her ears and she all but melted under his hand, leaning into his petting.

"Oh, I think she likes you very much," Charlie said. "That's totally her favorite spot to be petted."

"What can I say?" Colby shrugged his shoulders as Penny wagged her tail at him. "I'm a dog person."

"Well, I guess now I am too," Charlie said proudly. He reached down to give Penny his own scratch behind the ears and she looked up at him with a loyal gaze that Colby recognized well. They may only have had a week to bond as human and service dog, but Penny had clearly already attached herself to him as strong as any dog does to their human.

"So, can I get a nice hello like that too?" Colby asked slyly, standing back up again.

Charlie let out a little huff of a chuckle, but came with ease as Colby opened his arms to him. "Sure, but I don't think you were quite expecting me to lick you hello." Colby laughed aloud, enjoying the feel of Charlie's body shaking with laughter in his arms in concert.

"This will do," Colby told him, pulling Charlie in close. He'd forgotten just how good it felt to hold Charlie and having gotten him back he was loathe to let him go again. Thankfully Charlie seemed to feel the same, tucking his face into Colby's neck and tightening his hold rather than release him.

"I missed this," Charlie mumbled into his shirt.

"Me too." Colby let out a long breath and with it went so much of the tension that had built up in recent days. "It was a really long week."

"Well, it's over now," Charlie consoled. "And it's really nice out. How about we go sit in the backyard? You can catch me up on all that I missed and I can make sure Penny doesn't get any ideas about the koi."

Charlie gave Colby's hand a little tug, but he needed no encouragement to follow him outside. Penny trotted alongside obediently, casting glances up at them as if checking in with Charlie.

They settled on the bench facing the rest of the backyard and Colby automatically put his arm out for Charlie to curl up against him. They settled down easily like that, as if they'd been doing it for ages.

Penny, once she saw she wasn't needed to keep an eye on Charlie, headed over to the koi pond. Sitting down beside it, she cocked her head as her eyes followed the fish swimming beneath the surface.

"I think she's more fascinated by them than anything," Charlie mused. "She may have a champion bloodline, but as the trainers reminded me - she's still a dog and you can't fight dog nature. It's not like she's planning an attack or anything. It's more like she's trying to figure out what those things moving around in there are and what they're doing in her oversized waterbowl."

Colby threw his head back and laughed heartily, a rush of joy replacing the last of the stress that had taken up residence in Charlie's absence.

"Oh, trust you to get a dog that overthinks things! I tell you, my dog Jake growing up? He just barked at anything or anyone he didn't know until my Dad or my uncle told him it was okay. Dad used to say anybody who passed the Jake test - who showed up and didn't get barked at automatically - was definitely a good person. One time, a census taker showed up while Jake and my Dad were out front..." He stopped, shaking his head. "I'm sorry, you don't want to hear all that stuff. You asked me about what happened while you were away."

"That can wait," Charlie told him, lifting his head from Colby's shoulder long enough to press a little kiss to his cheek. "For now, tell me your dog stories. I want to hear them." He curled up again and Colby tightened his arm around Charlie, grateful for his understanding. Colby might not talk about his father much, but the times when he could without hurting - like this - made his loss a little easier to bear.

"So the census taker totally doesn't see Jake laying in the shade..."

Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on April 14th, 2010 10:55 pm (UTC)
Yes! It's NOO! LOL

Bet you guys didn't see this coming! After more than a year (spent waiting for my now former roommate to make time to discuss her experience with service dogs including one reaching retirement age) I finally gave up on having this fic be correct and decided to just write what I could and move on. Having lived with service dogs, I really cared about getting all the facts straight, but now that I no longer live there my odds of getting the answers I asked for and never got for a year feels pretty close to nil so I gave up. (FWIW it is correct to at the very least ask for/wait for permission to touch a service dog and best to not even ask to do so when they are working, no matter how tempting it is. In this case Penny doesn't have her vest on - her sign that she's not in work mode though she would alert Charlie to a pending seizure vest or no vest.)

The organization I'm used to for service animals is called Canine Companions. Take a look at what they do and donate if you are so moved! The late Charles Schulz (of Peanuts fame) was such a big supporter they have a facility named after him and his wife.

So forgive the lack of detail on how Charlie got Penny used to the house and be prepared to forgive any future errors based on my lack of resource to ask anymore.

As far as the fic goes, this is kind of anti-climactic. I know it's a quiet little piece, but I kind of liked the calm domestic feel of it. There's plenty of time for more angst and romance later. For now, I think I kind of wanted to curl up with them in the backyard and enjoy the waning warmth of the sun.

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


Emma DeMarais
LadyTygerEyezladytygereyez on April 14th, 2010 11:33 pm (UTC)
I absolutely loved this, but I wanted to hear about Jake and the census taker. *giggle* My folks and I have a black lab and she's the most loyal dog I have ever seen. In fact, it took over a year for her to warm up to my husband, and now she's all over him when we go out to the house. I have to admit to them now being my favorite dog.

Thank you so much for sharing. I think that Charlie and Colby are the cutest of couples.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on April 15th, 2010 06:51 am (UTC)
Thank you for reading! NOO's not the shortest series out there, and certainly not the fastest moving, but I feel like it does try to capture a lovely charm those two have as a pair.

I might just have to come up with that census story for people. I came up with it because I know someone who works for the census plus Colby (odd as his own name is) strikes me as the type whose family would have a very standard named dog and black labs named things like Jake and Shadow are very common. I imagine Colby grew up around a number of dogs, but a black lab is going to remind him of his father's dog since that's what he had before he died.

I hate to admit I prefer black labs after living with two yellow ones (and having a chocolate as a neighbor), but we had a black lab as a family dog (one of my siblings did as an adult to be precise) and I still have this strong memory of how gray his muzzle got when he aged - sad but sweet.

Here's hoping there will be more NOO soon.

/offers you cookies for the wait/
lilacs_roseslilacs_roses on April 15th, 2010 04:22 am (UTC)
Just found this series, read it all today and fell in love with it :) Wonderful job, as always, Em.

I've not dealt with many service animals but I do know the permission and vest/halter of 'on duty.' It has also been suggested to me that I should look into getting a companion animal (dog) and I might do that at some point in the future.

Thanks so much for this series and looking forward to more chapters :)
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on April 15th, 2010 06:55 am (UTC)
Thank you! I feel bad that I let NOO sit for over a year, but I do like it very much. Now that I've given up on accuracy and waiting on my expert I think it will come faster. In fact, I'm tempted to open up a document right now to see what happens. /grins/

I figure if anything it's good to remind people of service dog etiquette. I know it's tempting to want to pet them - especially the puppies in training - but it's better for them to work during work time and get their pets during off hours. FWIW, the service dogs I lived with *loved* working. They'd do it even when they were off duty because (IMHO) it made them happy to feel useful and needed. Very sweet!
ladygray99ladygray99 on April 15th, 2010 05:12 am (UTC)
\o/ Will give proper feedback when at my computer next. :-)
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on April 15th, 2010 06:56 am (UTC)
Yay! It's getting so whenever I publish a fic late at night I check my email for a while afterwards in hopes that you've read it. ♥
ladygray99ladygray99 on April 18th, 2010 09:06 am (UTC)
I'm back at a computer finally. I was getting really tired of poking at my phone. First of
Always glad to see this back. I know it's very slow passed but I like that about this series. It makes it feel more real than most.
And I wouldn't sweat the little details about Penny and service dogs. I found during Whitman 4 that as long as you get the big things right and keep the emotion truthful people are forgiving about a lot of the minor details.
And Charlie would get a thinking dog. And it's not like Charlie doesn't spend heaps of time staring at those fish himself. So does Larry.
Dani: Charby LAumbralillium on April 15th, 2010 06:21 am (UTC)
I grinned when I saw this on my flist. YAY! MORE NOO!

Loved Colby's twitchiness over wanting to be with Charlie and the overall feeling of peace once he was with Charlie. Of course Charlie would have an overthinking dog! Besides, she has to be at least somewhat intelligent to pick up the training necessary to be a service dog, right?

You have me very curious about the rest of that census taker story. *grin*
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on April 15th, 2010 06:59 am (UTC)
ROFL I tell you what, I'll ask the person I know who works for the census to see if they can give me an anecdote I can base a quick tale on.

And yes, of course Charlie would wind up with a smart dog! I don't think it's mandatory for service dogs to be the smartest out there, they really need to be reliable more than anything. If they respond to a command only 75 percent of the time? It's not enough. I'm not saying they're perfect 100 percent of the time (I've seen the ones I lived with get a little petulant and/or lazy especially after a long day) but when someone can't do something for themselves they need to know they can rely on their service dog to provide said service.

And yay for you yaying over NOO! /is very pleased/ Thank you!
charleseppescharleseppes on April 15th, 2010 04:06 pm (UTC)
I was about to ask what was wrong with Charlie, but then I read your little note at the end of the fic. This was nicely written and I love how you have portrayed the service dog perfectly! I did a report on service dogs way back in high school (don't ask, it was that long ago). Looking forward to the next part.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on April 15th, 2010 06:54 pm (UTC)

FYI When a fic is part of a series I always put the Series/Universe name in the headers so people know that this isn't the only story. Sometimes, like here, I also put a link to the story that came just before it in case anyone wants to recall where we left off. So my Confession might have some info in it, but the series has - literally - the whole story on what happened to Charlie. ;-)

And cool for you doing a report on service dogs! I'm all for good info getting out there about them, especially educating people on how to deal with them in public.
lillyglillyg on April 15th, 2010 08:35 pm (UTC)
This is really weird... It's been two days that I've been saying to myself "you should PM Emma to know when she would update..." And here it is, and I didn't even ask... It's creepy!!! :p

I really love it, I hope you're going to write some more soon! And not make us wait so long :p Though I'm frustrated that I didn't have the end of the story with the census taker... :(
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on April 15th, 2010 09:45 pm (UTC)
ROFL Okay, okay! I'll come up with some sort of census taker tale to share! It won't be in the fic proper, but I'll put it in the Confession of an installment once I come up with something. /grins/

The muse must have heard you thinking. She tends to respond well to others asking for fic, but not me. Hehehe

As far as soon goes? I wrote the next part last night. Hee!

Thank for keeping this series in mind!
devon99 on April 15th, 2010 09:09 pm (UTC)
This is such a lovely update sweetie, it's like a warm, squishy hug of a chapter. Charlie/Colby, a dog, snuggling on the bench.... *happy sigh*

I now wait with trepidation for you to squash my happy bubble. More seizures? Penny being called into action? Only don't make us wait so long for the next part x
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on April 15th, 2010 09:47 pm (UTC)
I promise! I wrote the next part last night so no more waiting an absurd year for more of this. In fact I hope to finish up this universe at some point this year. It would be lovely to have them happily ever after by the holidays.

And I may not squash your happy bubble per se. Dent it? But yes, the dog arc of this series isn't 100 percent blissful.

For now, that won't happen any time soon. Next up? More Aww material!

/♥s you/