Finally! It's finally finished! Yay!
Everyone thank Calileane for inspiring me to finish, and my lovely beta Jadvisioness for also poking me and checking this over. My apologies to you all for taking so long, and thanks to those who reviewed, fav'd, or even just read. Not sure if there will be another, as my Numb3rs muse has run away, but I may do one-shots. Maybe.
Chapter six: Wounded Puppies, Take Two. In which our story comes to a conclusion.
Ian lay in bed, holding Charlie as the professor slept. It was just over a month since Charlie had been injured, and even though the threat had been eliminated, Ian was reluctant to let his lover out of his sight for more than a few minutes.
The agent sighed as he nuzzled Charlie's hair. After tracking down and killing his brother, Ian had requested time off from the FBI. Given the circumstances, it had been given, and in addition he was seeing a psychiatrist once a week. He figured that it would be a while before he felt comfortable handling a gun again.
He wasn't sure how Ryan and Nevyn handled it so easily. Then again, they'd been tracking down and killing people since they were in their teens - in Nevyn's case, this had included her own mother. They were just as screwed up mentally as he was.
"What have we got?" Ian asked softly as his young companions returned from scouting Graham's hideout. They were several miles deep into a forest, having tracked Graham and his gang of drug traffickers to an abandoned retreat here.
"Two guards at the rear," Ryan replied just as softly. Anyone more than three feet away would have had trouble telling that they were having a conversation. "There was a window by the side big enough for Nev to get through. Probably the best bet."
"Right," Nevyn nodded. "So while I'm arresting or eliminating these guys, what are you gonna do?"
"Follow to where Graham really is," Ian replied with a shark-like smile. He pointed to a spot a few feet away, where he'd found the barely-there tracks he'd obviously not been meant to see.
"I'm coming with you," Ryan confirmed. "Nev can handle the cabin by herself, you're gonna need someone to watch your back."
Ian nodded, knowing it was true. He'd be too focused on bringing Graham down to pay attention to much else.
The team split up, going after their designated targets.
It didn't go as smoothly as Ian would have liked. The men in the cabin had resisted arrest, forcing Nevyn to kill most of them. Not that she really had a problem with that, but she'd been injured in the fight. The bruises had faded by now, and she'd just gone back undercover. As for himself and Ryan, on the other hand...
Ian looked down the sight of his rifle, gritting his teeth in frustration. He wasn't going to be able to do this easily - somewhere along the way, Graham had evidently had a child. The girl was small, no more than five or six years old, and looked incredibly similar to what Ian and Graham's sister had looked like at that age.
And, just to make things hard for Ian, Graham was carrying the girl on his back. Ian couldn't get a clear shot at his target without risking missing and hitting the girl instead. It was clearly just to annoy Ian, as the sniper had already heard his brother yell several derogatory things at the child, and it appeared that she had bruises on her face. Graham was walking through a small group of his hired thugs, several of whom sent leers at the little girl.
Growling softly in annoyance, Ian realised that he was going to have to get closer. Then he noticed something about the men he was observing, and smiled coldly. All of them were wanted fugitives. There would be little, if any, recriminations for disposing of them.
Ian glanced over to where Ryan was grinning maniacally, and knew he was thinking the same thing. The younger agent crept away, circling the group so as to cause panic when they shot from two different directions.
The pair of snipers waited until Graham had moved away a little, removing the child from the danger zone, then opened fire.
Charlie whimpered a little as he snuggled into Ian's chest, craving security. Every few nights he would have a nightmare, but they were slowly fading.
If only Ian could say the same about his own.
In fairly short order, the gang was on the ground either dead or unconscious. Ian's face was blank as he slowly approached his older brother.
"Hi, Ian!" Graham greeted him cheerfully. Ian narrowed his eyes, not in the mood for games.
"Who's the kid?" He bit out, as large, frightened eyes looked back at him.
"This," Graham sneered, "is my daughter. Waste of space, she's gonna die soon. Cancer. Until then, she makes a pretty good meat-shield, don't you think?"
"Not good enough," Ian whispered with a smirk.
Graham raised an eyebrow, then his whole body jerked sideways as a bullet went through his temple. Ian watched dispassionately as his brother crumpled to the ground, instantly dead from Ryan's well-aimed head shot.
Moving closer, Ian took in the form of the young girl, now breathing heavily and shaking more than a little. She did look quite ill, with her thin features and the dark circles under her eyes. Her dark hair was tangled and matted; if she did have cancer, she obviously wasn't receiving treatment for it. She was malnourished, filthy, and bruised.
In all, she would probably be better off if she had died in the crossfire.
The little girl looked up at the sniper in awe, and he crouched down next to her, gently reaching out a hand to lay it on the back of her neck.
The bedroom door opened quietly, and Ian turned his head to offer a small smile.
"You have another nightmare?" He asked softly. A small head nodded, sending long brown curls bouncing. "C'mere then. But be careful, Daddy's still sleeping."
Ian watched fondly as the small girl climbed into the bed to burrow between him and Charlie. She hadn't yet spoken a word, but she adored Charlie, her Daddy, and Ian, her Papa. Alan was, naturally, delighted to have a grand-daughter to dote on, even if they weren't related by blood. Graham hadn't bothered to teach her her own name, so with her consent she'd been re-named Chloe Edgerton, and was now much healthier and happier. Her cancer had turned out to be operable, and she was now about to start at the local primary school.
Ian pressed a kiss to the top of Chloe's head and drifted back to sleep, his family held safely in his arms.
This was exactly where he wanted to be, now and forever.