Title: Getting Through
Summary: Post "Democracy" He may not wear his heart on his sleeve, but David can still read Colby like an open book.
Disclaimer: Since you don't see stuff like this on TV, suffice it to say that they aren't mine.
Spoilers: 3x04 "The Mole" and 3x18 "Democracy".
A/N: Not beta'd, so all mistakes are mine.
Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit.
"Everything alright?" David asked as he stood not two feet away from Colby's desk.
But no answer came. Colby was staring at the computer monitor, not noticing that everyone else had gone home, and that only he and David were left at that late hour. David looked over his partner's shoulder and immediately knew what was on his friend's mind.
"Come on, Colby, it's time to go," David prodded softly.
"Oh, hey David, I thought you left already," Colby said, shaking himself from his daze.
"Apparently not," David replied, sitting at his desk. "What are you still doing here?"
"Just catching up on world news before I head out," Colby answered, closing the internet window and then shutting his computer down for the night.
"Let's go, it's not like the paperwork won't be here in the morning," David said, in an effort to lighten the air between them.
Silently, Colby followed David out of the office and into the parking garage. Not a word was said as they walked to their cars, parked next to each other due to assigned parking spaces. And as Colby fiddled with his keys to unlock the car door, David watched helplessly as Colby struggled with something.
"Hey, man, want to grab some food and a beer?" David called cover the roof of his car.
Colby turned slowly, and with a grin that was noticeably forced, answered, "Sounds good. You lead, I'll follow."
David nodded just as he got into his car. It was a short ride, one that didn't allow David much time for serious thought. David waited outside for Colby, who wasn't far behind. They entered the bar, where they found a table and soon ordered.
"How long have we worked together, man?" David asked Colby, just after the waitress put a bottle of beer in front of each man.
"More than a year," Colby answered, then genuinely grinned and asked, "Why, looking to trade me in for a newer model already?"
"Nah, man. Take too long to break a newbie in. Plus, I've gotten you trained."
"Trained," Colby muttered. "Thanks, really. Why'd you ask?"
"I'd like to think that we've gotten to know each other pretty well, spent enough time together."
"David, if you've got something to say…" Colby said, sipping his beer while keeping a cautious eye on David.
"I've got something to ask," David corrected.
"So, ask away."
"Look, I know you're not okay about the car bomb. I get it- it hit a little too close to home, reminded you something you'd rather not think about. I just want to know what's going on in your head and what I can do to help."
"There wasn't actually a question in there," Colby noted.
"Colby," David warned.
"When it happened, when you asked me, I was fine. Yeah, I get weird with explosions, especially ones that close, and you know why. At the time…I had the adrenaline rush and something to focus on. But everything's died down, and now…"
David nodded solemnly, but said nothing immediately. He'd be weird with explosions too if an RPG almost took him out. But as he looked at the man sitting across the table, David wondered how Colby kept himself sane. And he had to ask.
Colby snorted, then took a swig from the bottle. "I talked to other people, got advice and took some of it. I guess I've just learned to deal with it as it comes."
"That approach doesn't always work," David stated, getting only a reluctant nod in reply. "Look, Colby, you can talk to me, you know? I may not intimately know war, but I'm not completely unfamiliar with it either. I've known you for too long, I've heard too many of your stories…too many stories, period."
"I know," Colby grudgingly admitted. "Do I ever know."
"Then let me help. Let us help. You do know that you can come to me, that you can go to Don and Megan, too."
"Yeah, and risk being labeled unstable, unfit for duty. David, this job's all that keeps me going right now. Take that away…"
"The only way someone's taking your badge is over my dead body."
"David…" Colby began.
"I mean it. You're a damn good agent with plenty of 'real world experience' with the bad guys. You're not going anywhere."
Colby slowly nodded, then took a deep breath. "That bomb…for a split second I was back in the Humvee, trapped and thinking it was all over for me. I mean, we were close enough to feel the blast, the heat…It put me right back there."
David took a few seconds to process that, then said, "I'm not even going to say that I can imagine. I can't and I know it. Hell, I don't want to. But you pulled through and did your job. That's the important part."
"It's just…I hear about these vets that can't adjust to life after war. It eats at them, just consumes them until they snap. I just knew I didn't want that to be me. I mean, look at Dwaine, what he did."
"That wouldn't have been you," David said. "I may not know Carter, but I know you. That definitely would not have been you. Admittedly, it came a little too close, but in the end, you did the right thing. That's what really matters."
"I doubt Don would agree," Colby replied, a little bitterness coming through.
"I think Don temporarily forgot how well he knew you. But also, you scared him. You're a good agent and Don doesn't want to lose you, so he was hard on you. But you're still very much on the team."
Colby snorted, "Yeah, you guys just don't want to run so much."
"Hey, we run!" David said indignantly.
"Yeah, I just run disproportionately more," Colby pointed out, hiding his grin behind his beer.
"You've been around Charlie too much. Anyway, admit it, you like it."
Colby shrugged indifferently, "I just like the tackling part, really."
"I knew it," David snickered. "Megan owes me twenty."
"Why doesn't that surprise me?" Colby rhetorically asked, then sipped his beer.
"Because you know us too," David answered.
It was a while before they left, and as they went their separate ways, David knew that Colby would be alright. He'd make sure of it, and he knew he wouldn't be the only one.