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Friday, January 29th, 2010 09:26 pm
For [personal profile] scrollgirl, my birthday twin except we're 2 years apart, on her 30th birthday (which is actually tomorrow, but I'm not going to be in tomorrow, so it's a day early). Have a wonderful day, whatever you do!

Title: Aftermath
Fandom: Numb3rs
Pairing: David/Colby
Rating: PG
Word count: 2121
Summary: After the events of Chinese Box, Colby insists on taking David home.



Aftermath

Even when David points out several times that he was wearing his vest and he's got at worst some bruising, Don insists on sending him to get checked, and then home for the rest of the day. It’s about as surprising as his insistence that Colby go with, which is to say, not at all surprising.

"Right," he grumbles anyway, force of habit. "Because I can't be trusted to get from the FBI to the hospital without getting taken hostage again."

"Sure," Colby says, concentrating hard on the light traffic.

David looks at him, but Colby doesn't look back, and, despite being basically fine, David's in kind of a lot of pain right now. He's not dealing with this until he's had some pain killers and a couple gallons of water. And food, since it's past lunch now, and he didn’t even get breakfast.

*

Colby abuses their authority to get David through the system faster, and David's grateful for it. What he's not grateful for is the way Colby's practically vibrating in the corner of David's cubicle, looking over at him with quick flicks of his gaze, but not meeting David's eye.

"You don't have to wait with me," David tries. "They'll be back with the x-rays in a few minutes and then I'm just going to go home."

"You don't have your car," Colby says. He turns in a pointless half circle, then leans against the wall and tips his head back, and then it's David's turn to look away. As if it's not enough that Colby's still in his SWAT coveralls, gray t-shirt damp with sweat, that he has Colby's worried voice running through his head, Colby's troubled eyes when they'd exchanged gun for handcuffs outside the elevator, now he has Colby leaning like a law enforcement calendar model. Moments like this, he can't figure out if someone up there really likes him, or really has it in for him.

"I think I can manage to call a cab," he says.

"I promised Don I'd get you home safe," Colby says. He doesn't look at David, sounds as flat and expressionless as David has heard him since the shoot-out in the office, eighteen months ago, when he got put on administrative duties for shooting their suspect.

"I don't need to go home," David adds. "I can sit at a desk and type up my report."

"You got shot," Colby says.

"And my vest caught it. I'm not even bleeding."

Colby looks over at that, half second of something close to eye contact, gone almost before David notices it. "I'm just following Don's orders."

"Any chance you'd follow mine if I told you to go find me something to eat?" David asks.

Colby shrugs, pushing away from the wall. "Sure. What do you want?"

"Anything," David says, too stunned by Colby's lack of argument to actually think of anything he wants. "I've got my wallet…"

"It's fine," Colby says, already walking out.

"Okay," David says slowly to the empty cubicle. He doesn't think he should have to deal with being trapped in an elevator with a guy who he'd really thought at several points might just shoot one or both of them, and his partner turning into a pod person, both in the same day.

Fortunately, he has a solution to the latter problem. He digs out his cell and sends Megan a message: I thought we agreed you'd look out for Granger when I'm indisposed.

Megan texts back immediately: Busy trying to get you out of an elevator before SWAT shot you, sarcasm coming through loud and clear, even on the screen. A moment later, his phone beeps again: He was pretty worried about you.

David texts back thanks, even though he'd figured that out for himself. He only got bits of what was happening outside the elevator from Don, before he was shipped off to hospital, which mostly seemed to involve him and Charlie arguing about something to do with computers and Chinese boxes, whatever they are, but he heard Colby's voice at least once when he was trapped, up there with SWAT where he probably wasn't supposed to be.

And it's not like Colby hasn't been kind of tightly wound ever since the spy thing, especially since this is the first time since then that David's been in serious danger, at least without Colby right there with him.

Or maybe Colby hit his head and no-one noticed while they were worrying about David. He's not ruling that one out quite yet.

*

The doctor with the x-rays – bruising, what a shock – and Colby with vending machine food come back within a couple minutes of each other, and David's released into Colby's quiet, twitchy care not long after. They drive back to David's apartment in unusual-for-them silence, and when Colby stops the car, David's honestly tempted to send him away so David can shower and nap through the first hit of pain killers on his own.

Except that Colby's his best friend and his partner, and tense next to him, and they're not that far past David thinking Colby was a traitor, for which he still sometimes feels kind of guilty, especially when he remembers how it felt to kneel over Colby's body on that yacht, trying to will him back to life. "You want to come in?" he asks.

Colby hesitates, seeming honestly torn, then nods and turns off the engine. "Sure."

He glares when David turns towards the kitchen, stepping past him to get to the kettle before David can, and it hits David hard, how at home Colby is in his kitchen, his space. "I can do that," he says.

"You should sit down," Colby says without looking at him.

"Seriously, man," David says, squashing an absurd urge to wave his arms around like Larry with a flash of inspiration, when David's the polar opposite of inspired right now. "What's going on?"

"I'm making tea?" Colby says, closest to David's usual gently mocking partner that he's been since that morning. David would buy it more if Colby would actually look at him.

"Try again," David says. "Because I'm the one who spent most of today in an elevator with a tense man with a gun, so I think between the two of us, I'm the one who gets to go crazy, not you."

"You can't do that," Colby says, so quietly that David wonders if he's mishearing.

"Sure I can," he says lightly. "I've got the day off, plenty of time to go crazy and get better."

Colby turns round then, leaning back against the counter, his face tense, none of his usual good humor. "I didn't mean go crazy."

"Better me than the secretary he grabbed," David points out. "He wasn't going to shoot me."

"He *did* shoot you," Colby says, voice rising for a second before he sighs, sounding totally defeated. "I'm not –"

"What?" David asks quietly. He feels too far away, stood in his kitchen doorway, but he also feels far more at sea in this conversation than he ever does talking to Colby, and it's enough to keep him from moving. "What happened?"

"You got in an elevator with a crazy man with a gun," Colby says to the floor.

"And you jumped off a first floor balcony onto a moving vehicle," David counters. "We've done more dangerous things." He wants to mention the bridge, but they're nowhere near a place where they can bring up anything from that incident casually.

"Usually together," Colby says, then, before David can try to come up with a response to that, "I already watched one friend die."

"Oh," David says stupidly. Speaking of things he doesn’t want to talk about. Megan said, later, after he and Colby had gotten over the spy thing, that Colby had kept asking about Carter in the hospital, apparently convinced that him being shot was a dream, or maybe a nightmare. He thinks that he knows Colby at least well enough to know that he wanted to save Carter, even after it all went to hell.

Colby scuffs his toe against the floor, and David doesn't know what to say. "That's not going to happen to me," he tries.

"I don't think Dwayne thought he was going to be betrayed by someone he trusted and then shot for trying to save me," Colby says, still not looking up.

"It wasn't your fault," David says, and that at least is easy, true. "You didn't tell him to start working for the Chinese."

"I turned him in. I agreed to be a double agent against him, I got him arrested and then I got him out. If I hadn't been there…"

"The Chinese would probably have shot him for something else," David says firmly. They haven't talked about any of that, not even in passing, and he hates to think that this is what Colby's been thinking since it happened. He's never liked Dwayne Carter, and he likes him even less now, even if he is dead. "And I'm not working for the Chinese, so I think I'm safe."

"No, you're just hopping into elevators with men with guns," Colby says. He sighs. "Sorry. I should leave you alone. Don's probably expecting me back."

"I think I can say with reasonable confidence that Don will be the least surprised person in LA if you don't go back to the office," David says. "Anyway, I'm injured, remember, you're supposed to be taking care of me."

His attempt to lighten the mood falls predictably flat, though Colby does go back to making tea, reboiling the kettle. "Great job I'm doing so far," he says. "Go sit down at least. I'll make lunch."

David really wants to let the conversation go, but Colby's his partner and his best friend, in his kitchen in sweat-stained SWAT uniform because he was worried David would die, and it's not like David isn't intimately acquainted with how that feels. "We can order pizza," he says, and Colby starts a little, apparently not having noticed David moving closer.

David touches his arm, feels Colby shudder before he gets it under control and turns round. He looks sad and anxious, and David hates that. "Come here," he says, then, when Colby doesn't move, pulls him closer. Colby resists, eyes down. "Come here," David says again. "I'm only bruised."

"Right," Colby mutters, but he relaxes enough to bring him close enough for David to hug him. It takes a few seconds, then Colby hugs back, turns his face a little into David's neck.

"Love you," David says. Which they don't say, but it's true, and the moment feels like it needs that.

Colby hugs him a little harder, until David squeaks at the pressure on his bruised ribs, and says, "You too. Please try not to die on me."

"No getting into elevators with crazy men with guns, got it," David says.

"Not without me, anyway," Colby agrees. He steps back a little, enough to look David in the eye. He still doesn't look exactly relaxed, but some of the tightness in his face is gone, and he smiles slightly.

David doesn't know what makes him do it – proximity, maybe, or the warm feeling that Colby's worry gives him – but it feels so easy to lift one hand, press it to Colby's cheek. "What..?" Colby starts, but his eyes fall closed and he turns a little into it.

"It's okay," David says, not sure which of them he's trying to convince. Before he can talk himself out of it – a distinct possibility – he leans across the last bit of distance between them, and kisses Colby. Colby makes a small, oddly sad sounding noise, but he doesn't move back. Does, in fact, lean into it, his mouth warm against David's, and it's not like David would have gotten into the elevator any more willingly if he'd known this was coming, but it's a nice way to end what hasn't exactly been his best day ever.

Colby's smiling when they part. "Definitely no more life-threatening stunts," he says.

David shrugs as nonchalantly as he can when he just wants to grin back like an idiot. "I think death-defying stunts are part of my charm," he says. "I think maybe I need an incentive to give them up."

Colby laughs. "That's a bad line," he says. "Really bad. Charlie's math jokes bad."

"Part of my charm, though?" David asks hopefully.

"Apparently," Colby says, affectionate and a little mocking. "I guess we're both crazy."

David manfully resists the urge to make a crazy for you pun. Since the other option is to kiss Colby again, he doesn't feel the loss particularly keenly.
Friday, January 29th, 2010 10:43 pm (UTC)
That was sweet! Loved David's description of Colby's care as quiet and twitchy, and of course the image of calendar!Colby. And the ending was cute. *g*
(Anonymous)
Saturday, January 30th, 2010 07:26 am (UTC)
This is so sweet! I loved their interaction, and it moved slowly. You captured Colby's fear, worry, and anger perfectly, letting them simmer to the point that David had to deal with them. Very nice!
Saturday, January 30th, 2010 12:37 pm (UTC)
Oh wow! I love this SO much. The building of it is perfect.

I particularly loved Megan's sarcastic texts (but then, I kind of love Megan) and David saying that Don wouldn't be at all surprised if Colby didn't turn back up at work. So true.

It was pretty much the perfect bit of angsty fluff that I've been craving since I woke up this morning *G*
Saturday, January 30th, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
Omigod, eeeeee! So delightful! Oh, David! Oh, Colby! They are wonderful here, Colby anxious and full of residual fear, and David exhausted and feeling his way uncertainly around Colby's twitchiness. "Chinese Box" just cried out for a hurt/comfort tag.

Love Colby the calendar pin-up and Megan's sarcasm coming through her text message. Love what you say about Dwayne Carter, and how Colby wanted to save him even then. And this line: "I think I can say with reasonable confidence that Don will be the least surprised person in LA if you don't go back to the office," David says. I can hear David saying that so clearly :)

But what I love best is the way David kisses Colby the first time, such a natural extension, one tiny step forward instead of a huge leap. If ever there was a close friendship naturally turning to romantic love, it'd be with these two!
Saturday, February 6th, 2010 03:14 am (UTC)
Oh, this made me clutch my heart and sigh. I love how it unfolded.
Monday, November 7th, 2011 05:17 pm (UTC)
This is just gorgeous! It's an interesting point that this is the first time David's been in serious danger (without Colby) since Trust Metric, and Colby's reactions make so much sense. I love how quietly the kiss happens; it develops so organically from what has gone before.

I also love Megan here - just as I do in canon - and calendar!Colby leaves me with many happy thoughts.

Lovely stuff - thank you so much.