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Shoot By Numb3rs

Chapter Text

Shoot by Numb3rs
Prologue

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Word count: 1090

Ian Charlie DV

XXX

They had joined the LA Community in an odd fashion. One day, a couple of weeks after September 11th, Alan got a letter that only he could read. Every time Margaret or Charlie looked at it, they only saw blank paper. Don called within a day to tell them he'd gotten a similar letter in Albuquerque. Alan had always wondered if any of them were unchanged...they had family histories and journals...but it had been generations since anyone had found their soulmate. Charlie was a little disappointed that he wasn't a dragon, Alan was glad...having one son put himself in danger on a regular basis was enough. As guardians dragons had a habit of throwing themselves into dangerous situations.

It not only explained Don's profession as an FBI agent, but Alan's past as a protester in the ‘60s. He'd gotten arrested more than once when he stood up for what he believed in.

They made plans, he and Charlie, to go to the first Summit, he even called the number for the young man in Sunnydale. It was then that they learned there was already a Community in LA, and had been since 1998 when Community General Hospital had been blown to pieces.

Xander Harris put them in contact with the Sloans and the interesting young couple who were private investigators so they would at least know someone at the Summit. Now they got together at least once a month for Community Dinners...or Alan showed up at Barbeque Bob's...heck he made sure Cordelia and Doyle stopped in often to make sure they weren't living off fast food. No matter how busy they were helping the helpless.

Sometimes Anna Hodges hosted the dinners, and despite the teasing the boys did, Alan truly enjoyed her company and when he needed a break from them, or the often empty house, he found himself in Malibu. She always welcomed him with a smile and excellent food...though sometimes the two of them ended up invading the Sloan's kitchen next door. Mark and Jesse were both dedicated and worked odd hours some days at the hospital, Steve never had a shortage of cases in Homicide...and despite how easily Sara dived into her job at the crime lab...there was always backlog to go through. Adam often ended up staying with Anna or helping them cook. Anna wasn't always kidding when she said she was the only thing between them and starvation.

Anna was that and so much more. She and Margaret had become fast friends after the First Summit in 2001 and she'd been there for all of them when Margaret had been diagnosed with cancer. For every up and down, she was there with a smile and a hand to hold, even when Margaret was so wrapped up in morphine that she couldn't feel Anna's hand in hers.

She was a dear friend to Alan still, honorary aunt to his sons, stand in mother to Cordelia and her friends at Angel Investigations and Alan would be forever thankful that being part of the LA Community had brought her into all their lives.

xxx

LA had been fortunate, Don supposed. Their community had been well established for quite a while. Seven years now; one of the longest and in a tie with Chicago, both being second to Houston. They held first place in numbers though. Three bonded pairs, two unchanged and, at least, eleven additional community members. They also hadn't been directly affected by terrorists like DC or New York. Hell, New York's community consisted of one unchanged Dragon, Mac Taylor, unless you counted some of the refugees Mack had taken in from the Initiative labs. And DC only had Jethro Gibbs and his lover Tim McGee, and Jethro was unchanged.

Other communities didn't have the advantage of law enforcement cooperation. LA had community members in three branches of the LAPD (Major Crimes, Homicide, and the Crime Lab) and Don's FBI team. Having the cooperation of LAPD's Homicide and Major Crimes units came in handy; not to mention having Sara working with the Crime Lab. They even had a few members in the Medical and Academic fields in the form of Doctors Sloan, Travis, and Bentley...his brother Charlie was a Mathematician at CalSci. Their other academic, Sam Winchester, had transferred out of LA to Stanford and had plans to go into Law School.

Then there were the members of their community that dealt with the supernatural. Cordelia, Doyle and their friends at Angel Investigations...though Sam had helped from time to time when he'd been living in LA. His background as a Hunter had been invaluable, even though he was hiding his past from his girlfriend Jessica. She was completely normal and he was keeping her in the dark and had no plans of ever telling her. No one really agreed with that, but respected his decision. Don had a bad feeling though that if Sam didn't tell her it would all come crashing down. But it was the kid's life.

Having community members in the LAPD made joint task forces so much easier; especially the past few months. Don had been able to tell Steve Sloan everything, even about the Spanish flu bio attack. As the Alpha of LA, Steve and the DRoA (Dragons of America) special circumstances gave him the necessary clearance...not to mention Mark Sloan had experience dealing with such bio hazards including bubonic plague, small pox and legionnaire’s disease. The Spanish Flu was just another in a growing list.

 

On a personal level Don liked being part of a community. He didn't submerge himself in his work the way he did in Albuquerque. Here, back home in LA, he had his dad, Charlie, and a team of good agents. Sure he wasn't running an office like he had back in New Mexico...but he liked being home in LA. He liked seeing his dad and Charlie almost every day. Liked having Charlie help on cases. Their solve rate had almost doubled.

The added security of being part of a separate nation also helped. When Xander Harris had spread the word that Horatio Caine's niece needed bone marrow everyone got tested. Everyone. It was sheer luck that there were three donors in the DroA. One of them ten year old Stiles Stilinski was one of the first to volunteer. Don and his family had been right behind the kid. They, like Stiles and his father, had lost someone to cancer. And the last time he had inquired little Madison was responding well to treatment and things looked good.

XXX

Chapter Text

Shoot by Numb3rs
Sparks

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Word count: 4871

XXX

“Hey Sidle!”

Sara looked up from the jacket she'd been leaning over to address her fellow CSI, Shirley Kimble, “Yeah?”

“Your lunch date is in the lobby.”

She blinked and then looked at the wall clock. “He's early.”

“Hey don't knock it, if I was married to a doctor as devoted as Mark Sloan I'd always make time for them.”

Sara rolled her eyes and put away her magnifying glass before locking up the jacket and other evidence. “Thanks for letting me know Kimble.”

Shirley grinned again. “Hey, someone's gotta look out for you, you crazy workaholic. Don't keep the poor guy waiting and give him my best.”

“You want me to bring you back anything?” Sara asked; standing and stretching.

“Nah, I'll grab something from the deli down the street. Enjoy your lunch date.” Shirley winked and disappeared down the corridor.

Sara couldn't help but smile herself as she followed suit, mind on the random rescue that Cordelia and David had performed that had saved Shirley Kimble's life while she and Mark had been packing up her life in Vegas so she could come to LA.

Kimble still felt she owed David and Cordy so not only had she befriended Sara when she'd transferred to LA, but she'd helped Sara and Major Crimes investigate the Vice Captain who had run David out of LA and its Crime Lab. He'd been exposed for what he was and turned over to Internal Affairs, not even his political clout had been able to save him.

David had been satisfied with the formal apology the LAPD had given him, but he refused to come back to work for their lab, he was happy in Vegas...for the most part. Sara had a sneaky suspicion that he might be considering a transfer to Cascade, Washington.

 

“Penny for your thoughts?”

Sara shook her head and gave Mark a kiss as she stepped into his arms, earning them a few whistles from her co-workers. “Just thinking. Anyone joining us today?”

He took her arm in his and led her toward the exit. “Alex is having lunch with Amita at Barbeque Bobs, Jesse is having lunch with Amanda closer to the hospital...and Steve is at the newest sniper crime scene with Charlie and Don.”

“They any closer to solving it?”

“Not yet.”

“You sure you want to go out to eat? All the shootings have been out in the open.”

Mark tried to hide his concern with a chuckle. “Dragon Scales are pretty tough; no bullet is getting near you.”

xxx

The FBI had been working closely with the LAPD on the sniper case. There was a full information share and joint task force between them. Steve had been put in charge of the police side of things simply because he got along better with the local feds than most cops. Kate Lockley was taking care of their usual case load while the Feds were borrowing him, she wasn't exactly pleased about it, but the sniper needed to be dealt with, there were already too many deaths.

He eyed the top of the hill that Charlie had pointed out, already walking toward it and away from him and Don. There was someone up there looking down on them; he could feel the man's gaze and he tensed under it.

“Who's up there?”

Don glanced toward the hill. “Probably the outside help I called in.”

“What outside help?”

“Sniper from Quantico...figured we needed an expert in the field on this. Someone with the mindset.”

Steve let loose some of the tension with a slow breath. “Makes sense...you know Gibbs and Tanner are both snipers right? And there are snipers here in LA on my force and yours.”

“Yeah I know, but the Bureau didn't go for the idea of bringing in NCIS or ATF agents from out of state and DC and Denver are busy and need them. And Edgerton is the best the Bureau has.” He looked at Steve. “You heard Gibbs may have found his mate right?”

“Nice deflection, and I heard, if he has then it’s been a busy year for dragons. Makes you wonder whose next.” He eyed Don a moment.

“Not me.”

Steve snorted and clapped him on the back. “Better go look after your brother.”

“Alright, I'll update you when he has something new.”

“Let me know how things go with your sniper and your brother.”

Don's face became a grimace. “I'm not looking forward to that.”

 

“So I've done some rough calculations of trajectory models based on the bullets angle of impact, wind speed and direction and I approximate that the sniper fired from right around here. This spot.” Charlie looked around them and gestured at the spot of ground they were standing on and then pointed to the street below where the mail man had been shot.

“Actually it was more like here.” Charlie almost jumped at the new voice and Don braced himself for what could be an ugly confrontation. Charlie didn't always like it when someone questioned his math.

Don turned to see Edgerton who was standing to their left in a bit of a clearing. “Agent Edgerton.”

“Bureau told you I was coming?”

Don started to walk toward him. “Yeah I'm actually the one who requested you.” Charlie still hadn't said anything and Don was starting to worry so he looked back at his brother. “He's a sniper from Quantico...needed a different perspective.” He tried not to wince at the hurt on his brother's face.

When they got to Edgerton, Charlie was still looking disgruntled and immediately set about with his question. “What makes you think he fired from here?”

Edgerton answered without missing a beat. “With your location you're assuming he's a good shot. I think he's just an okay shot and he got lucky.”

“What kind of evidence led you to that conclusion?”

Edgerton removed his sunglasses, gave Charlie an amused look, before his eyes met Don's in question. Don had no response so the other Agent continued. “300 yards and he goes for the center mass, torso shot. A good sniper who gets this close is going to go for a headshot.” He looked at Charlie again, victory in his dark eyes. “And of course there's this.” He knelt and waved his hand over a spot of burned ground. “See how the grass is scorched from the muzzle flash? And this spot behind it where the dirt's been disturbed? He used something to brace himself.” Charlie had leaned down; staring at the grass and dirt disappointingly and Edgerton gave him another smile. “But yours was a good guess too.”

“It was more of an estimate.”

They all stood back up and Edgerton slipped his shades back on. “He'll do it again.”

“How do you know?” Charlie asked.

“Because he's a sniper, and we love what we do.” Charlie actually looked thoughtful at that, but Don was relieved when they left the hilltop, glad that the two experts hadn't clashed too badly.

xxx

Charlie had buried himself in numbers and patterns as he was so easily able to do. So he felt doubly guilty when the sniper case had been the thing to pull him out of his numerical sanctuary....and into the crosshairs of Agent Ian Edgerton.

Edgerton put him on edge, which wasn't a bad thing.

Charlie had felt such sparks before, what had never been with Amita and now never would....but there had been a warm thrum of possibilities. He wasn't as clueless about their potential as Don and Dad had assumed he was. He was perfectly aware, once it was pointed out to him, that Amita liked him, that they could be more than Advisor and Advisee. More than colleagues and more than friends. That hum of energy had always been there.

But then Amita met Alex Smith, a young doctor at Community General, one who Mark Sloan and Jesse Travis had taken under their wings so to speak. And even though Alex wasn't in the know, he was part of their community. And even though they'd only been seeing each other for a few weeks after the cook-out Anna Hodges had hosted, where they met, Charlie and everyone else could see the real sparks that were more than a hum between them.

So he'd been happy for her, for them both, and buried his head in his equations and lectures. Even when the sniper case came up and Don asked for his help he still kept himself busy.

But then today...on that hilltop...sparks happened. They were like steel and flint, clashing, itching to start a fire. Ignite some madness, madness because he wasn't used to someone without a mathematical background telling him his calculations were wrong...and could back it up with unfamiliar expertise.

Ian Edgerton had no problem doing just that and when he got through sulking...Charlie realized he kind of liked that.

xxx

“This case has top priority and LAPD has a joint task force.” Don said as he entered the conference room. “You all know Lieutenant Steve Sloan of LA Homicide from past cases; he is, as always, our liaison.”

“Why can't your partner ever be our liaison?” One agent murmured to Steve near the front.

“Kate doesn't have the patience for your sexist bullshit.” Steve returned with a straight face before nodding to Don. “Major Crimes is on standby if we need them.”

“I don't think we'll need the kung fu brigade for the sniper.” Another agent grumbled.

Don nodded back at Steve. “Enough, with all the resources at our disposal no theory goes unchecked, no tip ignored.” He and Terry started the meeting, going over everything they already had and knew… which wasn't much. Then Terry dropped the little bombshell that none of the bullets matched, each one came from a different rifle which she had determined meant their guy had a military background.

The man, agent, sitting in the back sipping coffee didn't agree. “What it suggests is that he knows his limitations enough to remain within them.” Ah. This must be the sniper from Quantico.

“This is Agent Edgerton from Quantico and he doesn't think our shooter is especially skilled.”

Steve tuned out the next bit, just so he could observe Edgerton. Since Don had told him about the sniper earlier at the crime scene Steve had done some checking...through unofficial channels of course. Fred had been a little uneasy about the hacking, and he was glad she was cautious, but he had assured her, her lovers, and Cordelia that everything was okay. Besides they always had Diplomatic Immunity to fall back on, the protective reach of the DroA including even fringe members of their community.

There was something about Edgerton though...if Steve didn't know better he'd think the man was a dragon...an unchanged dragon, but the feeling was there. But Steve knew better, the spell the Sunnydale Coven had used to locate all dragons changed and unchanged over the age of eighteen in the US was thorough.

Still...he wished David, or even Stiles, were around to confirm or deny it...both had an uncanny ability to sense dragons, even when they were unchanged. Stiles because he was unchanged himself and unlike most dragons had unrelated magic that he'd inherited from his late mother. Some he'd been born with, some she'd siphoned into him as she died.

No one could really explain why David could tell when someone was a dragon. It was still a mystery, even to David. So there was no way Edgerton could be a dragon.

Right?

xxx

LA was getting interesting.

Before he headed out the Director had told him not to ask too many questions about how Don Eppes ran his team...and practically begged Ian not to step on any toes. Especially the local PD and a PI detective agency called Angel Investigations. He hadn't been told why, just that they all had contacts high up, straight to the top. So Ian promised to behave himself.

Even though LA wasn't what he was expecting.

The LAPD liaison from Homicide looked young, but was confident and acted like someone who'd been on the job for more than a decade. The mostly good natured teasing between Steve Sloan and the agents on the task force lacked the usual animosity between factions. Though he was going to have to ask someone what the Kung Fu brigade comment meant.

Then there was the Professor.

Charlie Eppes was...well...Ian wasn't used to someone who challenged him. Someone who didn't fear him; someone who questioned his expertise and demanded to know how he came to his conclusions. It was different. It was interesting.

Charlie being easy on the eyes only added to the intrigue...Ian might have to stay in LA a while and really get to know the Professor. He hadn't met anyone this interesting in a long time.

xxx

“No, no. At that moment I was actually thinking of a much more prosaic legacy. Someone to carry on the Fleinhardt standard.”

Alex paused after he entered the atrium and eyed the occupants of the sunny room and their shocked silence. “What happened? I was only gone long enough to get lunch.”

Amita smiled at him and took his hand to pull him closer. “Larry wants kids.”

“Who's the lucky lady?”

“There isn't one.” Larry sighed from the wicker couch. “The idea of them is completely theoretical at this point.”

“We were talking about the sniper case.” Amita clarified. “Larry mentioned that brushes with death, even from a distance can make someone rethink their priorities regarding children.”

Alex pulled up a chair beside her. “Are we at that stage yet?”

“Not yet.”

“Children are wormholes.” Larry announced.

They all shared a look and let the good doctor explain. Charlie laughed and let warmth and happiness fill him. Amita was happy...and he'd found someone who challenged him...without math.

xxx

Don had called, asking all of them to keep their ears open on the streets just in case someone or something had heard anything about the sniper. He and the LAPD had used them as a source of information before because sometimes people would rather talk to a PI rather than cops. And all of them were licensed now...even Angel with his swanky identification that he'd gotten because of the DroA.

It was just luck that led to them all getting the necessary training, from an old friend and patient of Mark's who had been a PI since before the 70s. The guy had seen some weird stuff over the years and was already in the know when Mark had put them in contact with Mannix so he could train Cordelia and the others so they could get certified.

And being personally trained by someone with Mannix's rep did wonders for their own business now that they were legit. And Cordelia loved being a PI and not just a secretary; though if things kept being so busy, she'd have to hire a secretary. Though Fred and Wesley had the office just the way they liked it and she wasn't sure a secretary could survive them.

 

Anyway...Cordelia had information for Don; or rather she had a lack of information which was just as telling. And since she'd promised to come to him with anything she found she went to the Eppes family home, now owned by Charlie, and let herself in after a knock.

“Hello? Charlie?”

Charlie was in the midst of gathering papers to him when she walked in. “See, Cordelia is here, she can go with me. I'll have ample protection.”

Alan was looking alarmed and waved at the both of them. “Neither of you are bulletproof!”

She blinked trying to process just what she had walked in on. “Do I need my vest? Because I have one in the car... two actually.”

Charlie nodded. “Yes, and I need a ride to the newest scene...let me tell David I have a ride.” He stepped away with his cell phone, absently still gathering up notes and charts.

Cordelia looked back to Alan. “So we're going to a crime scene?”

“I'm sorry. I don’t know what Don is thinking.”

“No problem, I've been to crime scenes before.

“You have haven't you? I forget that since you're so young.”

“I'll look out for him Alan. I wasn't kidding about the bulletproof vests.”

“That's as reassuring as it is terrifying.”

“Well, they've been pretty essential in my PI work. Sometimes people get trigger happy.”

Charlie pocketed his phone and waved goodbye to Alan, Cordelia held the door open and offered the older man a wave and a smile before helping Charlie get his things into the car. Then she popped the trunk and they each put on a vest before heading out to the scene which he directed her too.

 

Once at the scene David and Terry waved them on through so Charlie could explore and start his calculations. Cordelia followed and kept an eye out for anything dangerous while Charlie was lost in the numbers.

“He shot from that building there...that window...” Charlie pointed across the street.

“Lead the way.”

She followed him, nodding to the agents and uniformed officers who were guarding the scene. The agents had gotten used to Charlie wandering around crime scenes...and the uniforms were used to Major Crimes and Homicide using her as a consultant and offered her a friendly smile.

So across the street they went and up the stairs to the floor and bank of windows the sniper had shot from. She stayed out of Charlie's way but stayed close just in case, she even went so far as to put herself between him and the sound of approaching footsteps in the hall. The footsteps belonged to a tall, unfamiliar man, dark hair, dark eyes that looked amused...though whether the amusement was for her or Charlie she didn't know.

The amusement evolved into a smile. “Still figuring the angles Professor?” Oh yeah, that was all for Charlie.

Charlie looked up at the newcomer. “I'm trying to figure out why he missed...Cordy this is Agent Edgerton. Don sent for him.”

“Nice to meet you.” She offered him a small smile but didn't move from Charlie's side.

He raised a brow at her. “Agent Cordy?”

“Cordelia Chase, PI.”

That made him even more curious. “And you're here to?”

“Play bodyguard apparently. I had intended to track Don down and report to him, but then Charlie commandeered me for the evening.”

“Sorry Cordy.”

“Its fine, I've played bodyguard before.” He looked skeptical but Cordy just smiled. “So Don called you in huh?”

“Yeah, I'm a sniper instructor, from Quantico.”

“Ah, I should let the two of you talk angles and bullets then.” She took a step back and watched the weird and charged interaction between Charlie and Edgerton. It was like watching some sort of courtship ritual on the discovery channel...

“So why did he miss? This shot is closer than all the others.”

“Closer doesn't mean easier, he ran a greater risk of being seen from this position.”

“How would that affect the shot?”

“Nerves for one thing.” Cordy muttered.

When they eyed her she shrugged, then Ian motioned Charlie over while he opened the window. “Forget about the math for a second and come here.” Charlie moved closer with a roll of his eyes and put himself between Edgerton and the open window. “You have to get in his head, figure things from his perspective.” He pulled out a laser pointer and aimed it on the crowd across the street. “Invisibility is key for any sniper...being in a spot like this where he could be seen so easily could make him nervous. If he doesn't know how to handle that nervousness, his body will react and the first thing to go is his breathing rhythm.”

“Breathing Rhythm?” Charlie asked.

They moved apart and Edgerton closed the window, he actually looked a little disappointed. “You've really never fired a gun?”

“I don't believe in them.”

“They're not ghosts.”

“Ghosts are real.” Cordelia grinned at Edgerton when he glared at her. “Hey, I've seen some weird crap and have the scars to prove it.”

“Scars? Then you have some idea what I'm talking about; and by the way, I hope you have a license for that gun you're carrying.”

“Yep.”

“Cordy?”

She looked to Charlie and his questioning gaze. “I don't know about sniping...but in close combat with weapons you have to keep your cool. If your hands start sweating you could lose your grip on your knife or sword. You have to worry about your opponent finding any blind spots...or unexpected backup for the other side.”

“Where exactly did you grow up that required you know how to use a sword?”

She shook her head. “Not important; besides it’s a long story and you're on the clock.”

“So I am.”

“What would a sniper have to worry about?” Charlie asked, helping them get back on course.

“Sweat getting into his eyes, adrenaline twitching the barrel or his hands cramping up. It’s the difference between an expert marksman and an amateur.”

Charlie looked thoughtful at that and gazed back out the window, new calculations already forming in his eyes. Edgerton smiled a little and walked away, offering Cordelia a wink. When Charlie looked back at her he seemed surprised that the agent was gone.

“That was...”

“Interesting...come on Charlie...I'll drive you where ever you need to be.”

 

She was driving him back home after they found out from Terry that their suspect couldn't be responsible for the most recent shooting...and Cordelia had to do something to lighten the mood.

“You know Xander and I used to clash like that before we fell in love.”

Charlie looked up from his notes. “What?”

“And Doyle and I like to challenge one another.”

“What does that have to do with the sniper?”

“I meant you and Edgerton.”

He blinked, eyes going a little wide. “What?”

“He likes you.”

“What?”

She grinned. “He was totally making eyes at you and checking you out.”

“You're insane.”

“I bet if you asked he'd give you a shooting lesson.”

“Cordy that would be a waste of my time.”

Cordelia rolled her eyes before smirking at him. “Charlie I was using 'shooting lesson' as a euphemism for sex.”

“Oh.”

“I mean the man is gorgeous and he wanted you close like that to share more than a sniper's point of view.”

“I-”

“If you like him you should make a move.”

“We have nothing in common.”

“You don't know that, all you know about is his career. Ask him for that shooting lesson, and this time I mean with a rifle...and then ask him to dinner.”

Charlie didn't say anything else...instead he looked thoughtful and Cordelia smiled at a job well done.

xxx

A lot of them, from the Community, ended up gathering at the Sloan’s for dinner, Cordy and Doyle among them. Anna had come over and sort of taken over Mark's kitchen as she had a habit of doing, though this time she and Mark worked together on the food. It was a bit crowded with Anna, Mark, Sara, Steve, Jesse, Adam, Cordy and Doyle, but they managed and as always it felt like a real family dinner. Something Cordy had never really had before LA.

She managed to bring up the sniper case with Steve since he was working with Don on it, and she had reported the lack of information to Don after taking Charlie back home. Now though she wanted some information.

“What can you tell me about Edgerton?”

“You meet him today?”

“Yep...there were some sparks between him and Charlie.”

“Good sparks or bad sparks?” Sara asked.

“Very good sparkage.”

“Really?” Steve asked, and then shook his head. “You know...when I was close to him in the office I thought maybe...he could be a dragon...but that's impossible.” There were several looks passed around, all of them wondering. “Right?”

Cordelia shrugged. “It would be neat if he was though since Charlie likes him...and he likes Charlie. It would make sense right? If Charlie were drawn to him because he was a dragon since Charlie is dragon kin?”

Another round of looks before all eyes settled on Mark, who nodded. “It’s possible.”

Jesse waved his fork around in protest. “But the spell.”

“He's a sniper right?” Doyle asked. “So he travels all over.”

Steve nodded. “Yeah...the FBI loans out specialists like Edgerton to other agencies, and even the army, which he was part of before joining the bureau.”

Doyle smirked a bit. “So what if he was out of the country when the spell was preformed a few years ago?”

Sara looked to Mark. “Has the coven done the spell more than the one time?”

“I don't think so.” He and everyone else focused on Cordelia.

She already had her cell phone out and had dialed the Magic Box. She figured that was safer, she didn't want to disturb anyone in case they were on patrol. Jonathan answered on the second ring. “Magic Box, you're one stop destination for all your magical needs.”

“Hey Jono, have you guys done the dragon locator spell since that one time?”

“Hey Cordelia. No...why?”

“Think you could talk Willow into doing it again, we may have located another unchanged dragon.”

“How could she have missed him before?”

“We're thinking he was out of the country when the spell was done.”

“That would do it...I'll bring it up when everyone stops by after patrol.”

“Thanks Jono.”

“Sure thing Cordy.”

She hung up. “Well that's done; someone from Sunnydale will get back to us. What's new with you guys?”

 

They continued through dinner, conversation moving toward how Adam was doing in school and business at Barbeque Bob's. By the time they were done and the first load of dishes were in the dishwasher they were all sitting in the living room feeling sleepy and full when Cordelia's phone rang. “Hello?”

“Hey Queen C.”

She smiled at the familiar greeting. “Hey Xander.”

“Jonathan says you might have found a dragon?”

“Well its possible isn't it? You didn't search outside the country. Mal's people were off the grid when the spell was done.”

Doyle pulled her phone over to him a bit. “So were Inara and Book.”

“You catch that?”

“Yeah, Doyle has a point. I'll talk to Willow tonight and let you know something by tomorrow afternoon.”

“Cool, thanks Xan.”

“Give everyone my best.”

“Will do.” She hung up and looked at others. “We'll know something by tomorrow afternoon.”

Doyle yawned. “Speaking of tomorrow, we should head home. Dennis worries.”

She smiled and stood, offering him a hand up. “Yeah. He's such a mother hen.”

xxx

“Have you found a pattern yet?”

Charlie shook his head, turning yet another page. “I'm only finding a lack of patterns...which could be a pattern I suppose.”

“And an interesting one...maybe you're missing something? A human element?”

He sat back a bit and looked at Larry in surprise. “You sound like this agent, a sniper Don called in from Quantico, Ian Edgerton. He thinks I should be out shooting rifles because my data is incomplete.”

“Well it is. You don't know anything about guns.”

“I don't need to know about guns, there's plenty of data at my disposal.”

“Well there's the theoretical and there's firsthand experience. They're not interchangeable. It’s the difference between chalkboards and laboratories.”

“So you think I should be out shooting rifles too.”

“Yeah. Why don't you ask Don for a lesson?”

Charlie felt his face heat. “Cordelia said something similar...only she thinks I should ask Ian...Agent Edgerton to teach me.”

Larry was quiet for a moment, eyes focused on him, and his blush. “Well he is an instructor.”

“At first she meant it as a way of commenting on our reactions to each other.”

“Oh? What sort of reactions?”

“There were sparks.”

“And she thinks you should sleep with him?”

“And get actual shooting lessons.”

“Well...maybe one will lead to the other.”

“You think I should?”

“Get shooting lessons? Sure. Go out with your agent? That's up to you.”

XXX

Chapter Text

Shoot by Numb3rs
Perfect Equations

calikocat
Word count: 6019

XXX

The professor's bodyguard had made him curious, not just with her professionalism, perky attitude, or belief in ghosts. Really it was the whole package that made him want to know what exactly he was dealing with. He hadn't expected Cordelia Chase PI, to be the main detective at Angel Investigations, the PI firm that the Director had told him not to piss off.

Not only was she the ranking detective at the firm, she was trained by an old schooler from the seventies, one who had a reputation then, and now. Mostly though...was the file he couldn't open, the one he didn't have clearance for. That was intriguing.

Even more so, was that Don Eppes had a similar file...so did Steve Sloan...and even Professor Eppes and Alan Eppes, their father. Something was going on in LA. Ian didn't plan to dig any further, he'd promised he wouldn't, besides, whatever they were into had nothing to do with the sniper.

Still...the locked file on Cordelia started in the 90s...she was just a kid then. It made him wonder.

xxx

His frustration over the case was growing, only one shooting had been solved, and it wasn't even their sniper but a copycat. The city was still living in fear and practically on lockdown, people only going out if they absolutely had too. Don knew Charlie was just as frustrated, unable to find a pattern to the shootings, something, anything, that would give them the break they needed.

And then their dad had stopped by with lunch for him...and expressed his concerns...mostly about how Charlie was going to crime scenes now. Don had argued that Charlie was a grown man and his dad needed to realize that and let him do what he wanted or needed. Besides, not only were there agents at every scene; but Cordelia had been with him at the latest one and in Don's mind she was plenty capable of protecting Charlie. She was used to dangerous situations and Don didn't even think of her as a civilian.

His dad had argued that no matter his age Charlie could never say no to Don and would always seek Don's approval. There wasn't much Don could say to that, except promise that Charlie wouldn't be at any more scenes unless they were under heavy guard.

And then he was off to the newest scene.

xxx

This sniper case, and the sniper himself, were making less and less sense. The level of proficiency seemed to be all over the board, varying from shot to shot and while he and the Professor had butted heads before Ian was willing to admit that maybe he was wrong.

The whole thing was frustrating and morale was ridiculously low...the only bright spot Ian could see was meeting and working with the Professor and his unique approach to crime scenes. And the interesting people he knew with their secret files he didn't have clearance to see.

Which made him feel a little better about Cordelia playing bodyguard, she had been alert and did her job well, better than most civilians who played at being bodyguards. She actually seemed to know what she was doing. Even more telling was the confidence and trust Charlie Eppes had put in her, his complete faith that she would keep him safe. It was a relief.

The most recent kill, of course, knocked them all for a loop; Ian was impressed with it more than the others. The sniper had been able to conceal his presence, kill the homeless man, and get away. No one saw anything, and there had been no real place to hide.

Yeah, he could admit when he was wrong.

xxx

Cordy was working her own case, the supernatural kind when her cell phone rang; luckily she wasn't too swamped to answer it. “Hey Xan.”

“You guys were right on the money. Willow did the spell again, specifically on the LA area, and turned up a new name. Ian Edgerton, that's your guy right?”

“Yeah, he's a sniper from Quantico. Don brought him in as a consultant.”

“How's that going? It’s not looking too good from the news.”

“Well at least the news is portraying it accurately. Police have no leads right now and the underground non-human side of things is completely quiet. Whoever this guy is he doesn't have any contacts with demons or magic; which isn't a bad thing.”

“Yeah...think what a sniper with magic could do...he could like literally mark a bullet for a specific person and literally not be able to miss them with it.”

Cordelia shuddered at the thought. “Yeah, definitely glad this guy doesn't know zip about the occult. I'll pass on the information about Edgerton to Steve and Don.”

“What gave the guy away? Does he know?”

“I don't think so...and Steve just got a feeling from him...and he and Charlie have been making eyes at each other.”

“Oo, spiffy. LA is really on the move. Think he'll change?”

“If Charlie keeps going to crime scenes his chances are sure gonna increase.”

“Yeah...Don is letting his little brother go to crime scenes? How did Alan take that?”

“Not well...but he felt better with me playing bodyguard and both of us wearing vests.”

“Bulletproof?”

“What other kind is there?”

“Remind me to have the witches spell some clothes for you against say fire or demon goo.”

She made a face. “Spells against demon goo?”

“It lessens the affects of stuff like Fyarl demon snot.”

“That's the stuff that temporarily paralyzes?”

“Yep.”

“Hmm. We don't run into them often...but having protection spells added to my vests would make me feel better. I'll mail you my spare so she can get it done, and then when you send it back I'll send you my main one.”

“That'll work. Hey, watch your back Cor and take care of yourself.”

“I will.”

xxx

Charlie sat and stared at that blackboard for ages, at a complete loss at what the data was telling him. With the mailman shooting there seemed to be a pattern. Without it there was a gap, it didn't make sense, it was an event done by a copycat. It shouldn't fit.

“Charlie?”

He looked up at Amita. “Oh... hey. When did you get here?”

“A few minutes ago...Alex is currently taking over your kitchen to warm up a casserole. He's under strict orders from Anna to make sure you eat something.”

Charlie nodded. “She worries...ever since Mom...they were close.”

Amita smiled a little and looked toward the blackboard. “You look stuck, anything I can help with?”

He waved a hand in frustration. “It’s this sniper case. For some reason the bad data fits.”

“What bad data?”

“The copycat shooting.”

She looked at the board again, noting where he'd marked out the 'bad data'. “If it fits then it’s not bad is it? It’s just showing you something you weren't looking for.”

He blinked at her, then at the board, suddenly seeing things anew before he jumped up and started erasing everything. He had a whole new chart to try. Amita had pointed him in the right direction by making him take a step back and look at it from a different angle. He noticed her walking away, presumably toward the kitchen and Alex.

“Amita… thanks.”

“You're welcome. I'll bring you a plate when it’s ready.”

She left the room and Charlie smiled.

xxx

Charlie lit a fire, figuratively, beneath the FBI and LAPD with his theory of an epidemic of copycat snipers. Ian had been doubtful at first, the way he'd compared the shootings to a fad...but then the task force had started handling each shooting as a individual case, unrelated to the others...and they started solving them.

One was a victim of gang conflict. Another, the one that had actually impressed him, had been a thrill killing by two frat boys. And one guy had gotten killed by his neighbor for not returning a lawn mower. That one showed that there was no limit to what people would kill for.

And through it all he saw more than one officer or agent bring in take out from a barbeque place that apparently was popular with local law enforcement. And it was owned by Steve Sloan. So he thought he'd give it a try one dinner...he just hadn't expected to see a demon sitting at the counter.

 

Ian froze when he saw them, mostly he when he saw Doyle, who cursed a bit at being caught by an outsider in his Brachen form. They should have locked the door; it was more than careless of them.

Cordelia tried for casual and smiled at the agent. “Hey Ian.”

“Cordelia. I'm guessing that's not stage makeup.” He looked pointedly at Doyle who was still in demon face.

“Um...no?”

“I was wondering why I couldn't access part of your file.”

Cordelia's eyes got a little wide. “File? I have a file?”

Steve nodded and gave her shoulder a pat. “We all do Cordy.”

“Oh...that file.”

Ian relaxed, just a little. “So, what exactly have I walked into?”

They all looked around them, wondering how to answer and who would answer, when Jesse and Mark came out of the kitchen each carrying trays of food. They too froze, feeling the mounting tension. Mark broke the silence.

“What happened?”

Doyle shifted back and looked sheepish. “Still not sure myself.”

Cordelia pointed at Ian still standing just inside the door. “Agent Edgerton may need the big speech.”

Jesse huffed and moved from foot to foot. “Can we at least put the food down?” Louis and Sammo stood to take the trays and dole out everyone's orders.

Mark nodded. “Thanks. Which big speech?”

Ian cracked a smile. “There's more than one?”

Cordelia nodded. “There's the 'World is older than you know, demons and vampires are real' speech.”

Doyle waved and pointed at himself. “Then there's the 'Just ‘cause they're not human doesn't mean they're evil' speech.”

There were a few laughs at that and Steve nodded to Cordelia. “And considering Cordelia's latest contact with Sunnydale I thought we might do the 'Dragon' speech.”

Louis put the last plate in front of Sara and looked up at Steve, then Cordelia in curiosity. “Did we miss something?”

“Only another dragon.” She gestured to Ian. “He's unchanged.”

Ian stared at her. “You think I'm a dragon?”

His confusion was more than telling and Steve sighed. “No family histories then? Nothing passed down from your parents?”

“I was adopted, so no. You're serious about this?”

“Did you not see my boyfriend all demon-y a second ago? Who by the way is also a dragon?”

“Prove it.”

“No.” Jesse said it with finality. “Not inside please, Doyle is smaller than Steve and Mark, but he can't fit inside the restaurant.”

“Can't go outside, either, too many security cameras.” Doyle commented, and he was right, the jewelry store across the street had excellent security.

Then Sara brought up a good point. “The three of you could just make your eyes glow, that should be proof enough that you're at least not human. If Agent Edgerton doesn't mind coming out to Malibu sometime one of you can play show and tell there.”

“You're a genius.” Mark smiled before he gave her kiss, then he looked at Edgerton with glowing eyes. Steve and Doyle did the same.

“Okay, but what makes you think I'm a dragon?”

Steve returned his eyes to normal and shrugged. “Just a feeling I had about you.”

Mark nodded. “I can sense him, a bit. Not as well as others might.”

“And we doubled checked.” Cordelia told him. “I called a friend and some witches did another locating spell on LA and you popped right up.”

“Another?” Ian asked. “How many have they done?”

She shrugged. “Just two now. Once back in 2001 and the other day.”

“Speaking of which.” Steve said. “Where were you after September 11th?”

“Just after?”

“Yes.” Mark nodded. “More or less...about two weeks or so.”

“Out of the country, I can't tell you anymore. Classified.”

“There ya go.” Cordelia grinned. “Willow and the others didn't search outside the US.”

“Was there a particular reason you were searching for others?”

Steve nodded. “We can fill you in and then invite you to the next Summit this fall in October.”

“Here?” He asked.

“No, an NCIS Agent is hosting it in DC. He's unchanged like you.”

“He's getting close though... it could happen at any time. I mean his eyes kinda glow when he thinks his lover is being threatened.”

“Something like that.” Steve added. “He's pretty sure the man is his soulmate.”

Before Ian could ask the next question, probably about soulmates, Doyle grinned. “You hungry then? We can eat while you get all the speeches.”

“That's why I came; I was told Sloan owned a restaurant.”

“Co-owned.” Jesse corrected. “By the both of us...and Mark is a silent partner...and Sara is in charge of the vegetarian menu.”

Sara grinned. “It was a little tricky coming up with one.” She held up a menu. “But I have a feeling you're a carnivore so you'll have plenty to choose from.”

Ian finally came forward and took the menu from her. “Thanks.”

“Have a seat.” Jesse motioned at the seats still available at the counter. “After you order they can start with the speeches.”

So Ian ordered, and spent the next few hours listening to all the 'speeches' and learning about a world he had only had a glimpse or two of over the years.

xxx

Steve caught Don just as he was about to leave his office, he grasped the younger man's arm and gave it a tug. “Got a minute? Need to talk.”

“Sure...right now? I was just gonna track down Charlie.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah...I think he's headed to Edgerton's hotel room...something about the mechanics of a sniper not making sense.”

Steve towed him back into his office and closed the door. “Could be he's making the first move.”

“First move?” Don stared at him for a moment. “Oh no, no way. Not Edgerton and my little brother.”

“Why not?”

“The guy's a sniper.”

“So is Gibbs, he's a good guy, a good agent, and from all accounts he's happy with his lover, who is a man. A man who's almost on your brother's level intellectually...and there's one more similarity.”

“What?”

“Edgerton is a dragon.”

“What?” This time the word was said with disbelief. “Are you sure?”

“We had Sunnydale double check...and now he knows. About Dragons and everything else.”

Don snorted. “Well that would explain why he's been distracted, and why he went back to his hotel early. When did you decide to tell him?”

“When he walked into Barbeque Bob's and saw Doyle all prickly.”

“Yeah okay, that's a good time for the talk...so what? You think he and Charlie?”

“Cordelia seems to think so...she already suggested they go out for coffee and dinner.”

“Dad isn't going to like it...he already thinks I'm going to get Charlie killed...no telling how he'll react to Charlie being with not only an agent, but the FBI's best sniper.”

“If it happens, Alan won't have a say in it.”

“Yeah...”

“Now, catch me up on the case.”

“Sure...Charlie thinks at some of the shootings were committed by the same person. A sniper zero.”

xxx

Ian wasn't entirely sure why he did what he did...maybe it would have happened anyway. There was no denying the sparks between them, the pull. Hell he had planned to ask Charlie to dinner anyway...but when he answered the knock on his hotel room door, after checking to see who it was...well it didn't help that he'd just gotten out of the shower and had a towel wrapped around his waist. Or maybe it did. Either way he put his gun back on the nightstand and answered the door.

“Hello Professor.”

Charlie's eyes were wide at the sight of him and Ian fought back a blush. Something he hadn't done since he was 17. Charlie took a step inside, arm raised and he stared at it as if he couldn’t believe what was happening, as if the arm were acting on its own. Then a warm hand, calloused by years of calculating equations with chalk in hand touched his chest. Ian grasped his hand around that wrist at and locked Charlie in place.

“Oh.”

Ian smiled at the quiet exclamation and pulled him inside with a press of lips. That simple kiss acted like a release valve and Charlie deepened the action throwing in a passion Ian had only glimpsed of at the office. He managed to shut the door behind them and turned the lock before he ended up on the bed, towel somewhere on the floor and the Professor in his lap.

Those calloused hands were on him, working him to full hardness and Ian could almost see the calculations going on in Charlie's eyes, the younger man finding satisfaction in length and girth. Who knew math during foreplay could be that hot? And then they were kissing again, somewhere between too fast and not fast enough when those hands unfastened the only pants in the equation and brought another variable into play. When Charlie gripped them together and ground down Ian sought purchase where he could find it and filled his hands with Charlie's ass and squeezed.

They came like that, writhing and thrusting and grinding like a couple of teenagers in a hurry worried about being caught. Ian fell back with a gasp, still shuddering with aftershocks, and groaned when a tongue worked at his chest licking him clean. Charlie, of course, hadn't a bit of their mess on him. He scooted up further smiling and kissed at the corner of Ian's mouth.

“This isn't why I came here.”

“Oops.” Though Ian didn't put any conviction into the word.

Charlie laughed; a sound somewhere between a snort and a giggle. “I had a request, a favor to ask...and then I was going to ask you out to dinner.”

Oh. Good. “I accept the invitation. Now what was the favor?”

“I want you to teach me how to shoot a rifle.”

“You would ask me to do the 2nd thing that you're brother is going to kill me for.”

“My brother doesn’t' get a vote in who I date.”

Ian cupped his face and moved his fingers into Charlie's curls. “Okay. Let me get dressed and I'll take you to the range.”

“I can help you get dressed.”

“I think that would be counterproductive and if you want that shooting lesson I need to dress myself, otherwise I doubt we'll be leaving the room tonight.”

“Right. Good point...but I can watch?”

“Sure.”

xxx

The next day Don watched them closely, the dynamics between Charlie and Edgerton had definitely changed. Both of them were relaxed and smiling and Charlie had a new outlook on the sniper case. His little brother had even claimed Edgerton had been exactly right; five of the shootings had resulted in fatalities due to a little ability and a lot of luck.

Then Charlie showed them his new graph...showed how four of the shootings matched in skill level, and Ian toasted him silently with his coffee.

It looked like Steve had been right. Don wasn't sure how he felt about that...but now wasn't the time to think on it. They had a new approach and needed to find out what the four shootings had in common.

Still...he wondered how their dad was going to take this.

 

After that it took almost no time at all to find the connection, and it wasn't the site of the shooting...it was the site that their sniper had shot from. A man named Nathan Crane.

xxx

Cordy and Doyle were at the primary site, Banitech Tower, when Don got there. He frowned as he approached them. “What are you two doing here?”

Doyle shrugged, eyes taking in everything around them, listening to things that were out of a human's range. “Just a feeling.”

“A Feeling? Not a vision?”

Another shrug. “Like I said, just a feeling.”

Cordelia put her hand on his arm. “Where's Steve?”

“At the other possible site. You two staying on the ground?”

Doyle was barely paying attention, still checking out the buildings that towered over them. “Yeah. Its where we need to be.”

Cordy grinned then and waved at Ian, and while he didn't smile back his eyes held amusement. “You have awfully high clearance to hang out with the FBI at a crucial moment like this.”

“Ian, we went over this the other night, my clearance is probably higher than yours. At least until we update the President.”

“Hey Don!” Terry waved at them and pointed to the van they'd been looking for. Showtime.

“Alright, let’s get these people out of the open and indoors. Cordy, Doyle.”

“On it.”

They moved to help Terry clear the area while Don and the others got set up; working against an unknown deadline...they had no idea when Nathan Crane was going to strike.

 

Cordelia saw the familiar black SUV arrive amidst the growing chaos of armed agents and SWAT, David getting out of the driver side...and her heart nearly stopped when saw Charlie slide out of the passenger side. “Oh boy.”

Doyle gave her a glance, curious, and then saw what she did and cursed something in Irish that she didn't understand, before nodding. “This could be it.”

They watched Charlie look around, making calculations...and then Doyle tensed like he heard a gun being primed. He took off a second before the shot fired, Cordy a step behind him. Really they couldn't help it; it wasn't in either of them to let an innocent die. They both ran for Charlie, even as they heard Don yell at his brother to get down. Another shot and David knocked Charlie to the ground; Cordy was on top of both of them in a second.

“Don't move, we've got you.”

Doyle growled; eyes glowing as he changed to shield them all. There was a clap of thunder, the wind picked up, and suddenly there was a flash of lightning that blinded them all. The window of the police car exploded beside them, glass showering Doyle's wings. Another shot from the opposite direction...one more flash of lightning that left them all blinking and allowed Doyle to change back unnoticed.

“Everyone okay?”

It took a few seconds for them all to see again, but when they could Cordy was staring at the unexpected visitor in shock. “Xander? When the hell did you get here?”

David was trying to crawl out from under them, blinking trying to clear his vision. “What just happened?”

She stilled his movement with a hand to his shoulder. “Tell you later David.”

“Charlie!” Don nearly plowed into them coming to a stop at their impromptu puppy pile.

Doyle smiled as he helped them all disentangle. “He's okay. Though I'm sure he'd like to not be on the bottom of this pile.”

Don nodded and then did a double take at the man standing beside him. “Xander?”

Xander nodded, face serious. “Your agents are gonna need the talk.” Xander whipped around and then dragged Don and the others back out of Ian's way. His eyes were glowing and he handed his rifle off to Don who starred in shock as Ian helped Charlie up.

Charlie's eyes were wide and bright, as if he'd just put together an elusive string of numbers and solved the mystery of the universe. “Oh.”

Xander's eyes were wary. “He's about to change...where can he go?”

“Malibu; either the Sloan’s or Anna's place. There's plenty of space on the beach for him to change. And he's already had the talk.”

“Good. I'll get them there.” He held up a mirror to signal someone in a high rise...and suddenly they were in the middle of a downpour. Xander changed between flashes of lightning, picking up Ian and Charlie and flew off in another bright flash of lightning that blinded them all.

A minute later the storm was over and a tired looking Willow, Tara, and Jonathan waved from the gathering crowd. Don sighed and looked at Terry and David. “Wrap this up the way we normally would...and then we'll go to the Hyperion for the talk. Doyle's dragon form is small enough he can change in one of the ball rooms there.”

David glanced in the direction Xander had taken off in. “So we didn't just hallucinate all that?”

Cordelia grinned. “Nope.” Then she pulled her phone out. “Hey Anna? Xander is flying toward Malibu with a dragon who's about to change...really? The wonders of magic. You mind if they use the basement apartment? Cool. See you later.” She hung up, eyes a little wide and in awe. “Xander is already there, with the storm. Ian changed. As soon as Charlie is done being awed they're gonna bond at Anna's house.”

Don sighed and wiped at his face looking exhausted. “I should call my dad.”

xxx

He'd made the shot; it was an easy one...the kid was just standing in the open window.

The rest, however, didn't make any sense. The rage he felt at the kid for trying to kill the Professor. The protectiveness, the possessiveness...the crazed storm that came from out of nowhere...and the...

His mind stalled. He barely remembered leaving his vantage point and joining the group on the pavement. It was like he couldn't hear what was going on; all he could focus on was Charlie, who looked as awed as Ian felt. Then they were airborne in the middle of a storm.

The dragon that had scooped them up flew them to the beach of all places. The crazed thing actually dropped them from the air, and forced him to catch Charlie and land safely on the sand, his own wings outstretched to...wait.

Wings?

He put Charlie down gently and looked at the wings he was using to shield the Professor from the wind and rain. They were green with darker veins...and the scales on his arms varied from green to brown. Still confused he looked down at Charlie who seemed just as entranced and reached up to touch Ian. And then Ian was a man again, pulling Charlie into his arms and kissing him.

The larger dragon that sparkled in the lightning nudged them toward one of the beach houses where a woman was waving from a basement patio.

“You need to go inside and bond. I'll keep watch.”

“And you are?”

“Xander Harris.”

“Cordelia told me all about you.”

Charlie laughed and as he did the dragon changed into a young man, younger than Charlie...and the storm died down to nothing. “Did she mention he's the King of the DroA?”

“King?”

“I was nominated...and my mate and I are only one of two ruling pairs...now off with you. Go have sex. I'll keep Anna company and there will be food when you're done.

Ian blinked but Charlie pulled him inside past a woman in her sixties who winked at them. Then they were alone in an unfamiliar apartment, leaving a trail of clothes behind them. Charlie would take a few steps and loose a piece of clothing and smile at him, leading him deeper inside. Ian followed, removing his own clothes and by the time they had entered what he assumed was the master bedroom they were naked.

“Who lives here?”

“Right now? No one. Anna's son and granddaughter moved to Vegas, but they stay here when they visit.” Charlie opened the bedside drawer and retrieved a bottle of lube.

“He just keeps that on hand?”

“Sometimes his lover takes time off and joins them here.”

Ian stared at Charlie a moment. He'd gotten a glimpse before, of the hair on Charlie's body, it was curlier than the hair on his head and his hands twitched eager to get tangled in it.

“Ian?” Then he smirked and lay down on the bed, knees up, legs spread. Ian pounced, energized by the invitation of body and the playfulness in Charlie's eyes. He ran his hands over Charlie's chest, fingers tangling and tugging gently on the hair there just the way he wanted, until Charlie nudged the bottle into his grasp and caught him up in another kiss.

Then it was as if his hands moved of their own accord, given a new mission with every intention of following the unspoken order to the letter. One slick finger slipped inside Charlie and his eyes blinked in surprise. “Tell me you've done this before.”

“I'd be lying.”

“Hell.” He was more careful after that. Taking a couple of minutes with just that first finger sliding it in and out before crooking it.

“Dragon's can't hurt their mates. The magic prevents it.”

“Good to know.” He added a second finger and repeated his actions, and scissored his fingers. The new motion made Charlie grind into his hand.

“Ian.”

“Easy, no rush.” He added a third and did the same moving down to nip at Charlie's throat before he was pulled into another kiss. He added a fourth just as they broke apart and Charlie cupped his face in his hands.

“I'll be okay.”

“Okay.” He removed all four fingers, slicked himself up, tossed the bottle and slid into Charlie.

He wasn't prepared for the visions. The golden script and numbers, the flow of equations and their answers, and then Charlie's voice in his head explaining the perfect angle so Ian could hit his prostate every time.

Ian laughed. “If I did that we'd be done before we even started.”

“You heard that?”

“You always see your equations in your head like that? All in gold?”

“Yes.”

“You're a wonder Professor.” He pulled out, only to have Charlie's legs wrap around him and pull him back. “Not going anywhere, promise.”

“I didn't think you would.” Then a new equation flashed between them and Ian changed the angle, thrusting into Charlie again. With every move they made the numbers changed until they were a blur of gold that was moving too fast to see. When Ian got the angle just right several times in a row Charlie's brain short circuited and the golden cloud exploded and rained down like spent fireworks. Ian could feel the bond, feel Charlie's mind. At rest for the moment and awed at what they'd done.

“Did I just screw the numbers right out of you?”

“For the moment. We're going to need to test a few theories I have.”

Ian laughed again and smiled down at him. “You can figure out our angles later Professor. For now we can just rest.”

Charlie yawned. “Sounds good...but...you're stationed in Quantico.”

“That can change.”

“Okay.”

Ian watched him fall asleep and gently pulled out so he could curl up behind his soulmate and rest himself.

xxx

It was dark in the apartment when they woke and they stumbled out of bed, getting dressed only after they'd found the lamp so Charlie could see. Ian could actually see in the little bit of natural light coming from outside, which had never happened before. His eyes were good, but not that good. He mentioned it to Charlie as they located the last of their clothes in the living-room.

“Part of the change. Dragons have better senses than humans.” Their stomachs growled and Charlie smiled. “Come on, Xander promised us food.” He took Ian's hand and led him upstairs to the part of the house where they found the other dragon and the woman, Anna in the kitchen. There was indeed food and his stomach growled louder.

“Congratulations.”

“Thanks Xander...how did you get to us so fast?”

“Flew.”

“It’s just a two hour drive from Sunnydale, why would you take a plane?”

“No Charlie, I flew. Willow and Tara have this new spell so even something big going through the air at high speeds is hard to see. People just don't notice it. Though they had to do the storm thing to avoid being seen with all those people today.”

“And they just rode on your back?”

“Yeah...Willow wants to rent a car and drive back. Tara too. Jonathan wants to fly.”

“And you?”

Xander grinned. “I'm totally flying back tonight.”

“Why don't you boys have a seat? I could barely keep Xander out of the food while I was cooking.”

“Oh come on Anna, I wasn't that bad.”

“I don't know how William gets anything done in the kitchen with you at home.”

“My methods of distracting Spike in the kitchen have nothing to do with food and everything to do with getting laid...usually on the dining room table.”

Anna giggled and directed them to the table. “Eat up; I'm sure you're hungry. Xander can fill you in while you eat.”

“Fill us in?”

“Yeah. Its standard procedure to let the President know when another dragon changes, and when you're ready your director will be informed.”

Charlie and Ian shared a look before Charlie turned his surprised look on Xander. “The director of the FBI knows about dragons?”

“All the directors of the agencies do...even if it’s only in an abstract sort of way. Like they don't know everything, just the basics. The Director of NCIS wasn't exactly happy that he couldn't break up Gibbs and McGee because Gibbs is pretty sure McGee is his soulmate.”

“And my director?”

“Will be tickled pink because he has the most dragons of any agency; though you're the only changed one in the FBI.”

“Who else besides me and Don?”

“Two guys at the BAU.”

Charlie nodded. “Aaron Hotchner and Derek Morgan right?”

“Yep.”

“Interesting. He might not be so tickled when I transfer to LA.”

Xander shrugged. “So we'll tell him we have good news and bad news.”

xxx

 

It was awkward at first; Charlie wanted to jump in with both feet and decided that all of them working on the house he owned was the first way to build bridges. So here Ian was, helping the Eppes' stain the window seals of the Craftsman home, telling them about himself. Why he, like Xander and many other dragons had no family history.

He'd been adopted by the Edgertons and he'd wanted for nothing. They were gone now. His mother had died in a car wreck when he was twenty-five and his father had had a heart-attack at the news. They'd died within hours of each other and were both buried in Virginia.

There'd been no pity, only understanding and empathy. Alan had clapped him on the back and fixed them all dinner. Ian had already checked out of his hotel and was staying with Charlie...and Xander had been right. The director had been tickled pink.

XXX