Omi as always
BTN8r Jill - For the nudges, support and patience
BTN8r Katie - For unfailing encouragement and enthusiasm


"A vague disclaimer is nobody's friend" - Willow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I do not own any Numb3rs characters nor do I have any rights to
anything related to the TV show Numb3rs. I plead fair use and claim
only my own writing and characters.

Five weeks in prison.

Four days in the hospital.

Three co-workers, none of whom were there when he got released.

Colby turned the key in the lock of his apartment door and braced himself for what he might find.

Chaos greeted him.

Every drawer was open, every cushion torn off the couch. Fingerprint dust was everywhere.

Thieves would have left less of a mess than the FBI.

He righted a dining room chair that had toppled over and picked up a couch cushion. Tossing it aside with a shake of his head, he went into the bedroom to check the damage there.

One glance into his bathroom and he let his head hang down. The doctors had sent him home to rest, not do a full housecleaning.

A sound of a key in his door made him jump and he went for his weapon even though he hadn't been armed in over a month.

Megan and Charlie, both carrying an armload of cleaning supplies froze in the doorway when they saw him.

"You're not supposed to be out yet!" Charlie cried.

"Yeah," Megan echoed, equally surprised. "Your doctor said Thursday."

"I got time off for good behavior," Colby drawled. "What are you guys doing here?"

"We couldn't get any cleaners to do this so we decided to do it ourselves," Megan explained. "Why are you out of bed? Aren't you supposed to be resting?"

Colby gestured around the room. "Not a very relaxing environment."

Megan rolled her eyes at him and dropped her burdens on the floor.

"Easy enough to take care of."

She walked past him into the bedroom. He could hear her stripping the bed behind him.

"So how are you feeling?" Charlie asked, putting down his supplies too.

Colby shrugged. "Been better."

"I'd imagine," Charlie said consolingly. "Hey, there's an online grocery delivery place that serves this area. Do you want to use my laptop to place an order so you don't have to worry about food?"

"Um, sure..."

"Hey, I didn't see the mop in my car..." Don walked in carrying a broom and a large bucket. "Hey! You're home already?" he said when he spotted Colby.

"Evidently," Charlie answered for him.

"Oh man! We were supposed to have this all done before you got out of the hospital. Sorry..."

"It's okay," Colby said, a bit overwhelmed. "It's just really nice of you guys to do this."

Don made a dismissive noise. "What, did you think we were going to leave you to deal with all this on your own?" He patted Colby on the arm as he headed into the kitchen. "I call kitchen clean up. Chuck, you do the bathroom."

Megan emerged from the bedroom. "Bed's been made with fresh linens. Now go get your ass in it."

Colby opened his mouth to protest, but Charlie gave him a little push.

"We've got this. Go rest."

"Hey, you forgot the mop..." Amita halted in the open doorway. "Oh! Colby. Hi."

"It's a party and I'm the only one not invited?" Colby joshed.

"Here we go, one super duper top of the line vacuum cleaner..." David's voice trailed off as he looked over Amita's shoulder and saw Colby standing there in shock. "Hey..."

"Hey..." He looked around at all of them, feeling a little choked up. "Thanks... All of you. For everything."

A round of nods was his response.

"Now you, bed!" Megan ordered, marching him into the bedroom. She made him get in, still in his sweats and t-shirt, even though he didn't feel tired at all.

He woke up five hours later to a dark and silent apartment.

He got up, flipped on the lights and wandered through the rooms.

The place was immaculate.

Starving, he opened his refrigerator and found it had been cleaned out and a few basics purchased along with a couple of ready to eat sandwiches.

He pulled out a jug of milk and a sandwich and noticed a note on the fridge.

It had the web site address for the grocery store and an admonishment from Charlie to eat.

He put the food on the counter only to find another piece of paper tucked under his coffee machine.

'Sorry...' it read.

Colby sat down on one of his stools, overcome.

The note wasn't signed, but he knew his partner's handwriting anywhere...