"Hey, I hear they sprung you," Don Eppes said as he entered Colby Granger's hospital room. The easy manner of the comment and the smile on Don's face quickly gave way to unease and a frown. He hadn't been to see Granger since the onset of the fever a full three days before. The rest of his team had been working a case, one that they were sooner-than-expected passing off to the Chicago office, but it had taken up most of Don's time these last days. All other available waking hours had been spent getting a little more information about what Colby Granger had been up to these last two years. Don Eppes was determined to find out exactly why his agent – and friend – had willingly jeopardized his life for this mission, not to mention the relationships. . .and more importantly, friendships that he'd built at the FBI.
As it turned out, his friend and fellow agent was a hero in every sense of the word. Getting Mason Lancer had been the big enchilada, but it seemed Colby's efforts at intercepting good intelligence heading to China and artfully funneling bad data instead had succeeded in crippling the overall quality of the espionage efforts of the Chinese and people like Lancer and Dwayne Carter. Not only had the State Department been making inquiries about his agent, but even Don's bosses had been dropping not-so-subtle hints that there could be changes afoot for FBI agent – and hero of the moment – Colby Granger.
But Eppes was hard-pressed to see that man before him. Lancer had really done a number on his friend, the assorted injected cocktails had been hard for Granger's body to shake. Colby might be okay enough to be getting out of the hospital, but he looked terrible, tired, or more likely mentally worn out, and he moved stiffly as he packed what little he had with him into a canvas bag, the hospital's logo barely visible from the bag's front, which faced the wall. Their colleague Megan Reeves had sent over a fresh set of clothes, knowing that the clothing Granger had worn when he was found, though now clean, might still engender bad memories for the young agent.
Colby looked up, sincere surprise showing on his face.
"Don, what are you doin' here?" he asked as he grabbed the bag and cautiously made his way to his boss, and the door directly behind him.
"I asked the nurses' station to keep me updated about your release. I'm here to drive you home."
Colby nodded and said, "You don't have to do that. I can call a taxi."
"Well, you're not calling a taxi. I can drive you. Have you received your discharge papers?"
"Yeah. I'm free to go," Granger responded softly.
"And what about your discharge instructions?"
"Yeah, I've got them, too." Colby stood uncomfortably before his boss, his head down. He didn't expect to have this conversation so soon; he was not prepared to deal with his team's questions. If he was being honest, he hoped that somehow this part would miraculously resolve itself and that his relationships with these people that he cared so deeply about would all revert back to the way it was, before his name made it on to the Janus list. Clearly, what he wanted was not in the cards this particular morning. He knew better than to rely on wishful thinking, anyway. He'd learned that the hard way, way back at the ripe old age of fifteen.
"Don, I'm sorry. . ." Eppes cut him off.
"Tell you what. How about we get you out of here first? Do we need to wait for a wheelchair?"
"Uh, no. Sitting up straight is still kind of painful. The chest compressions. . ." Granger started to explain. He settled on the easy explanation. "David's a pretty strong guy."
Don smiled warmly. "He is that." Eppes was worried for his friend. He'd already talked to Colby's doctor and knew he'd been told to take it easy for the next three or four days. He'd also been assigned and ordered to see a bureau psychiatrist. Don knew that Colby had been down that road before and would do the right thing and see that therapy through. Though inscrutable as an interviewer, a characteristic Don readily sought in his agents, Eppes knew that the emotions of what he'd just been through were right there at the surface and could prove troubling if they weren't handled appropriately. As he examined Granger at this moment, he questioned the wisdom of the doctors. "Are you sure you're okay to be discharged."
"Yeah. I'm just. . .sore." He rubbed his chest; the pain he felt there didn't jive with the reality of his experience, or what he could recall of it. He didn't have any memory of the efforts to save his life. He remembered the bewildering and at times painful effects of the drugs Lancer had plied him with, but the pain he currently felt was all due to what he now understood to be desperate measures to get his heart pumping again. He shook his head from thoughts of the past. "The doctors are as sure as they can be that I'll have no residual problems from the. . .um. . .drugs." Don could sense the conflict in the words. Colby seemed to make a concerted effort to keep from calling what had been done to him what it actually was: torture.
"It's okay to call it what it was," Don encouraged as they headed to the elevator. He spoke softly, privately. He knew that the young man was not likely to admit much, the veneer of strength and forbearance and stoicism had been years in the making by a man who had lost much when his father died, leaving a teenager who was forced to grow up far too soon.
"I know what it was, Don. I also know that I don't want to think of it that way," Granger replied as he hit the down button. "It's just something I survived."
Eppes could hear the annoyance in his friend's voice, and how he too readily compared what Lancer had done to him to surviving his father's death, showing his hand despite his efforts to downplay the recent events. Don decided to hold on furthering this discussion for a more private time.
"Do we need to stop anywhere on the way to your place?"
Colby sighed, understanding the change of subject. They exited the elevator and headed towards the parking lot. "I guess I should get some groceries. I haven't spent much time at my place lately." Don could see the pained look that telegraphed perfectly well without words how his time in lock-up – alienated from those closest to him – then being on the run, followed by Lancer's torture and then, finally, recuperating in the hospital, had affected the young man.
"Megan took care of that," Don countered.
"Megan took care of it? And Megan took care of this," Colby noted as he pulled at the light blue oxford shirt he wore. "Doesn't Megan have any real work to do?" he asked lightly.
"You know Megan. She has an unlimited capacity for getting stuff done, and a huge soft spot for you."
"I think Megan has a huge heart, period. Thank her for me when you see her."
"You can thank her yourself when you see her," Eppes said as Granger got in the front passenger's seat of the SUV. Don had specifically chosen the larger vehicle, knowing from his conversation with the nurse that Colby's injuries were still bothering him. The power seats would make it easy for the healing agent to sit comfortably. Don remained standing at the passenger door as Colby eased into position. He headed quickly to the driver's seat. "Don't forget the seatbelt," he advised his friend.
"Uh, I think I might pass on that today."
"Your chest is bothering you that much that you can't do up the seatbelt?"
Granger shrugged. "It's better than yesterday. I'll be fine in another day or so." Colby laid his head back and closed his eyes. Don put his hand on Granger's shoulder and rubbed, both to ease the obvious tension that radiated from him, and for Don's own sake – and Colby's – as a gesture of his own gratitude that things had turned out as well as they had. When Eppes thought of the alternative. . .
"Let's get you home," Don said, but then thought again. Colby going home alone didn't really sit so well with the senior agent. "You know, I'm sure my Dad and Charlie would be happy to have you stay with them. You could probably use the company." Don had no doubt about that. Colby Granger had been working virtually alone for a while now. Sure, he had a handler, now dead, during much of his undercover work, but he had spent weeks under lock-up, more days thinking he was going it alone, and then thinking he was going to die at the hands of Mason Lancer, also all alone, and then most of his time in the hospital had to have been a lonely time. He and Megan had visited early on, David had been there, but just that one day, and Colby had been unconscious for that. Don knew that his team had been busy and not been able to make it back to the hospital these last days when Colby had finally been conscious.
Granger turned to look at his friend. "No offense, Don, but I think I need this time by myself." He offered a crooked smile and said, "Besides, I won't be alone for long. I need to be 'debriefed'." Colby laid his head on the headrest once more. "They're showing up at nine o'clock sharp tomorrow morning."
"The hell they are. You're supposed to be resting. Did they forget that you almost died six days ago?"
"I'll be okay."
"No, damn it, Colby! I'm not going risk your well-being on a debriefing that can wait a few more days."
Granger sighed. The walk and the talk was tiring him out. "Don, if you think you can run interference on this, I'm gonna let you. I've been through intensive questioning not that long ago." Colby let that comment alone. . .it spoke for itself.
"They should give you a couple of days. They've waited this long."
Eppes started the car and pulled out of the hospital parking lot. Colby adjusted the power seat to a position to better accommodate the pain still radiating in his chest. The men rode in silence for only a few minutes before Colby said, "Don, I would have told you if I could."
Granger turned to look at his boss. "You do?"
"Yeah. I mean, I know in my head that you couldn't say anything." Don paused, and then added, "I spoke to some people."
"You know in your head?" Colby asked. Megan had forgotten his most important accessory when she dropped off the clothing: sunglasses. He wasn't sure whether it was squinting at the sun or the conversation that was causing the tight band of pain across his temple.
"Colb, I'm okay. Megan's fine, she was the first one to volunteer to go get you."
"I'm not surprised," Granger said as he rubbed his head.
"No," Don smiled. "Charlie, Dad and Amita have been all over me about when they can see you."
"I don't think. . ."
"Don't worry. I told them it would be a while." Eppes turned off the freeway. "You haven't been debriefed at all yet?"
"They were in to see me yesterday." Don noticed that Granger was looking pale, and that he'd massaged his forehead more than once.
"Do you want some company while they interview you? Some moral support?" Eppes queried.
"Do you think I'll need it?" Colby asked as he watched the steady stream of traffic ahead of them.
"I think they'd name a street after you, except that's not exactly the way the espionage community rewards their heroes." That might not have been the best phraseology. The espionage game usually resulted in a star on a wall. . .placed on that wall posthumously.
"I don't need a reward. I don't want one."
"Well, you won't get a medal, but there should be something tangible that you'll get out of this," Don suggested. He turned left at the light.
"What I want. . .I want things to be normal again. I want. . .people to stop thinking of me as a traitor." Eppes stole a glance at his friend and knew that when Colby said 'people' he really meant his FBI partner, David Sinclair. Don knew that David no longer thought of Colby in that way, he'd admitted as much to Megan the day they'd rescued Colby on the freighter. They all knew now that their friend had been prepared to give up his life rather than give up vital intelligence to Lancer. His actions were the actions of a patriot, not someone committing treasonous acts. But Colby didn't know that David had come upon this realization, how could he, as David hadn't bothered to reach out to his partner, willing to accept word-of-mouth on how well Granger had been coming along in his recuperation. And David had been clear and convincing in letting Colby Granger know that he believed the evidence of Colby's treason. Don Eppes' two agents would have some work ahead of them to heal the emotional wounds of these last weeks. . .and, in David's mind, years of betrayal.
"Colby, David doesn't. . .he knows that you were working undercover. He, just like the rest of us, he knows that you were doing what you had to do. He's just. . ." Granger interrupted his boss.
"I know, Don. He thinks I was willing to forsake our friendship, that I wouldn't have been able to do this otherwise. I didn't. I. . ."
"Look, David is just. . .he needs more time to accept, to understand. . ."
"And I guess I don't understand that, Don. Why does David need more time, unless he thinks I was guilty of something. It. . .It hurts. . ." Colby stopped talking. Don was worried that he was admitting that he was in physical pain, Eppes had been told that the ache of compressions could linger for a long time, but when he looked right to see his friend again, he watched as Colby continued. "David and I had a bond, a trust that I'd never experienced before. If we've lost that, then we've lost everything."
"I don't think it's that bad," Eppes tried to assure Granger.
"He hasn't told you that he doesn't trust me?"
"When he thought that you were a double agent. . ."
"That hurts, too. That he would think that I would. . ." Don cut Colby off.
"You were pretty convincing, Colby." Granger nodded his head. "He's hurt, too. I think you both need to take some time and get your heads straight about what happened, why it happened. He knows that his faith in you was real, but he's got weeks of pain to recover from. You know, it was like the whole team suffered a collective coronary when we heard that your name was on that list. And your actions were really, really believable. Really, man, an Oscar wouldn't be out of line." Don smiled at his friend, who was as far from smiling as a man could get. "He's still in shock. He thought he'd lost his best friend."
"I know what that feels like."
"I know you do, buddy."
Don turned right. They were now just a few minutes from Colby's place. Don could see the sailboats in the distance along the coast. The well-trimmed sails seemed a stark contrast to his own boat these days. . .its sails seemed terribly ripped apart. He didn't know whether he'd be able to keep his crew together. He would need to tread carefully for fear of tilting his boat. . .there was far too ready a chance for his team to be lost at sea. He would laugh at all of the sailing metaphors that cascaded over him if it weren't such a serious thing. Colby and David were such an important partnership; losing one could potentially mean losing both. It would definitely mean losing any chance for the two to work through their own listing ship.
"Oh, man," Don yelled as he slammed the brakes. He threw his arm out over Colby's chest, knowing that his friend had closed his eyes again and was not restrained by a seatbelt.
"Crap," Colby said as he opened his eyes and saw what Don saw: a serious traffic accident. The car in the rear had obviously barreled into the other vehicle from behind, at a far higher speed than it should have been traveling on this mostly residential street. Smoke was already billowing from one car. The accident had just happened; Granger wondered if maybe his boss had actually been witness to the crash.
"Stay here. Call the police," Don ordered. He opened his door to rush to the accident, stopping to open the back door and reach for the small fire extinguisher.
"What're you doing?" Colby asked.
"Taking this and helping these people."
"I'll be right behind you."
"No, Colby. You should stay. Call!" he shouted as he pointed at the radio and then ran to the smoking vehicle.
Colby called for the police, and then chose to refuse the order he'd been given and quickly followed Don to the crashed cars. He saw Don aiming the canister at the smoldering flames, but it was obvious that he could do little to keep the fire from accelerating to something far worse.
"Don, we've gotta get these people out."
"Colby, come on, man, you just got out of the hospital." The conversation was cut short with the arrival of another man. "Stay back!" Don warned.
"I'm with the LAFD, off duty," he said in explanation of his presence so close to a potentially dangerous situation. "We don't have much time."
"Fine," Don said. "Let's move. The rest of you, get back!" he ordered loudly to the few onlookers who had quickly gathered.
Don and the fireman worked on the burning car. There seemed to be two passengers, both in the front seat of the red Buick. The front end of the vehicle was crushed, the impact had pushed both doors tight, metal folded overtop of metal. Each man struggled with a door, hearing the passengers' screams and feeling them pushing to get out. The doors finally opened and each man pulled his victim out fast. The heat did more than anything else to keep them moving to a safe distance. Following heat, after all, was flame.
Colby had one passenger, or so he thought. When he opened the door, the driver said, somewhat woozily due to a bloody knock on the head. "My dog, he's in the back."
"Let's get you first. I'll come back for your dog," Colby replied. He hoped that he could, but it was already getting hot and risky to spend time near these cars. He coughed. . .the smoke from the other car was scorching the air, making for noxious, harmful air to breathe.
"No, please, please get Fred!" she cried.
"I will, but I need to get you out. Come on." Granger grabbed the car crash victim before she could argue further. She stepped out on her left foot and nearly went down; save for Colby's steady grip, she would have had no chance of getting away from the car with any urgency. Granger had her at the sidewalk where Don had brought the other two passengers. He headed back to the car.
"Colby!" Don yelled. Colby kept on straight for the vehicle with the stranded dog. The car was smashed up against the burning Buick, its rear-end pushed up, resting atop the mangled hood of the red sedan. Don Eppes saw only one outcome, and he didn't like one bit that his agent was heading back into the fire. "Colby!" he yelled again.
The young woman Granger had brought over said through tears, "He's. . .He's going. . .for. . .m. . .my dog."
"Damn it," Don said under his breath. He quickly followed. By the time he arrived he found Colby twisted around the back seat of the small station wagon, reaching desperately for the wide-eyed, terrified Beagle mix.
"Come on, Fred. I'm tryin' to help you here," Don heard Colby say tenderly to the dog.
"Colby," Don called.
"Get back, Don." He used a regular speaking tone, not wanting to spook Fred.
"Not without you, pal."
Granger knew his time was short. He reached as far as he could, surprised at the pain from the pull on his chest. He thought that he'd been more healed than this, though there was little doubt that he really hadn't tested his fitness to this degree while in the hospital. He reached again and grabbed hold of the dog's left paw and pulled. The Beagle yelped.
"Sorry, Fred. Don, take him." Eppes reached in and took the dog. "Run!" The heat that had built up in the confined space from the fire in the other car told the FBI agent that he had just seconds to get out.
"Come on, Colby!" Don yelled as he headed with the thirty pounds of hound muscle over to safety.
Granger was out of the car and running towards safety when the explosion happened. Don sheltered the dog and the girl from the brunt of the blast, the fireman had the other two people flat on the ground in front of the local public library. Eppes looked up and saw his friend splayed on the hard pavement. He started for Colby when a second percussion rocked the area. Plumes of flame and smoke headed into the air. No longer able to wait as he watched Colby so still, a terribly and all-too-similar recent image of his friend unmoving etched in his mind, Don ran to his agent. He kneeled before the man, whose arms and legs were thrown out, extended away from his body, the rag-doll effect disturbing to a man who had seen much to be disturbed about in his career in law enforcement. It was always painful to see, a victim on the ground, unconscious – or worse - but though it probably shouldn't be this way, it felt so much worse when it was one of your own.
"Colby," he said as he put his arm on his friend's back. He heard a groan, a blessedly wonderful sound to the FBI man, as was the sound of the emergency vehicle's siren as it drew nearer and roared louder. Granger's back felt too hot, but he didn't seem to have been burned. But he had obviously landed on his chest, which was not good considering the reason he'd just been released from the hospital.
"Oh, man, that hurts," Colby complained. He started to move, placing his hands underneath him to push up. Smoke was swirling thickly as the fire now consumed both cars. A haze of grayish-white had settled over the area.
"Hold on, let me help," Don ordered. They needed to move. Though Granger had been thrown closer to the sidewalk's safety, their position was still far too close for comfort to the heat and harmful fumes coming from the flaming automobiles.
Colby remained bent over in pain once Don helped him up. The off-duty fireman rushed in to assist and, with a man on either side, they got the injured agent to the shelter of the library's lawn. They helped him to a prone position, but Colby was fast trying to sit up, hunched over to the left.
"Hurts to lie flat," Colby explained.
"Is this new, do you think?" Eppes asked as he sat down behind Granger and then eased his friend back against him; there was nowhere else for Colby to rest against, and those who knew Don Eppes well knew that he would do anything for his team. This action was a plain and simple manifestation of his commitment to his people.
"Thanks," Colby sighed. He breathed slowly and carefully, finally able to get some semi-clean air in his lungs for the first time these last minutes. "I don't. . .know." He paused and breathed in and out some more, savoring the sweet, cleaner air and then added, "Good thing. . .David's not. . .here to. . .see. . .this."
"Why? Would he be jealous?"
Colby snorted, but that caused the start of a cough that wouldn't quit. Finally, he said, "Not. . .these. . .days." He coughed some more as the smoke made its way towards them.
"Eh, what's he know?" Don only heard heavy breathing for a little too long. "You okay?" More just breathing and Colby leaning a little heavier against him. "Colby?"
"We're taking you to the E.R." Eppes said matter-of-factly.
"Don. . .I don't. . .want. . ."
"I know. I'm sorry. But we need to have this checked out."
Granger sighed again. "I know."
Don reached over to Colby's thigh and patted it in comfort and friendship. Colby Granger didn't seem to be getting anything he'd hoped for out of the resolution of the spy fiasco. He wasn't allowed to go right back to work, which is something that Don Eppes was intimately familiar with about his agent: he always wanted to get right back at it, his dedication to his work and his comrades was something that always trumped Granger's worry for his own well-being. This new injury would certainly add to that delay. He would be facing new questions in the form of the de-briefing, which would undoubtedly seem a whole lot like the interrogations he'd endured these last weeks. He didn't want any reward or recognition for the good work that he had done, but he would be getting – at minimum – kudos in the form of gratitude and appreciation as a hero, something the shy man from Idaho would surely hate, and dismiss shyly and awkwardly each time it was offered.
But what he wanted most was to see his best friend, but that didn't appear to be in the cards. David Sinclair would be just the medicine for Colby Granger right now. And damned if once Don got his friend to the hospital, he wouldn't be on the horn to David to get these two together. Knowing where Sinclair's head was right now, Don knew he had his work cut out for him.
Don looked to his right once again, worried for his resting agent. They had spent a few hours in the emergency room. They were lucky to be ushered into an exam room quickly, because of who they were and what they'd done, but it was also because of who they were and what they'd done that the head of the department had insisted on calling Colby's physician for the last near-week to consult on the young man's new injuries. After an x-ray and a very careful examination by both doctors, Granger was deemed fit for release, but this time he was sent home with a mild painkiller and a directive to refrain from any significant physical activity for a full week, a suggestion that wasn't much appreciated by the patient. Don had stopped to have the prescription filled and returned to the car to find Colby sound asleep.
The sun was starting to set, a beautiful golden sunset after another hot but surprisingly clear southern California day. As he approached the section in the road from earlier in the day, the place where he saw the regatta going on, he found himself looking at quite a spectacular sight: the sun setting, a brilliant, swirling yellow-red behind the sails of the boats, lots of white ones mixed in with a palette of color on the cool blue of the Pacific Ocean. Colby had chosen a suburb to live in that was near the water, Don remembered being told, because he had a fondness for surfing. Eppes knew that his friend tried to get out as often as possible to hit the waves, though he also knew that surfing had taken a back seat these last few years as he got involved in activities that both he and David enjoyed doing together.
David. Don shook his head at the frustrating behavior of his friend. He had reached Sinclair by mobile phone from the hospital. It had been an unpleasant conversation, ending with Don's order that David meet him at Colby's. He'd told him to go ahead inside and wait for them, but David had said that he felt like he'd be trespassing at a stranger's home. Don and he had exchanged heated words, the hurt and bitterness that David Sinclair currently felt, though tempered somewhat by what he'd found on that freighter - and what he'd had to do to save Granger's life - was still foremost in David's head and heart. Don could hardly believe the conversation had taken place, but by the end of the chat Don had given David two orders. One: show up, with his act together, and two: be nice to Colby, even if he had to bring on his best acting skills.
As Don parked the SUV he saw David sitting on Colby's stoop. The body language said it all about how happy he was to be there. Eppes shook his head, wondering if setting up this meeting hadn't been one of his lesser ideas; he hadn't even let Colby in on the plan. He looked over to the young man in question and found him awake, frowning and staring at his partner.
"Is it a good thing that David's here, or do I need you to run protection for me?"
"I'm hoping I won't need to, but I am staying. You two need to talk."
"I don't know, Don," Colby noted tiredly. He ran his hand through his hair. "I'm not exactly in any kind of shape for a fight."
"There won't be one."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because David and I talked." Colby gave his boss an aggrieved look. "Because I'm the boss, I get to do things like this. And I'm saying that you two need to talk."
"Fine," Granger said, short and definitely issued only as obeisance to an order. He threw the door open and hauled himself out of the car, stopping quick when all of the too-swift motion caused him pain. He lowered his head as he held on to the door, and breathed carefully through his newly aching chest.
"Feel better now?" Don asked as he now stood beside his ailing friend.
"Come on." Don grabbed the bag from the back seat of the car and walked just behind the healing man. "You're taking some of these pain pills once you get settled inside."
"We'll see," Colby said. He looked David in the eyes as he approached.
Sinclair frowned as he heard the directive from Don, and then looked worriedly at his. . .partner. Colby was still David's partner, no matter how much he didn't like how he'd been left in the dark these last two years. And two years, working closely, learning each others' hot buttons, and those things that could trip them up – or hurt the most - David wanted his anger to stay, he needed it to. He needed it to understand how Colby could do what he'd done. He would keep it, that anger, until he didn't need it any longer, but that didn't mean that he could erase a relationship that at least he knew he'd built between them with trust and honesty.
And love. Though they weren't the kind of men who would label it that way, their relationship was one of close brothers. At least it had been.
David also knew something Don did not. He knew better than anyone that Colby Granger would have to be in pretty severe pain to resort to narcotics. He knew of other ways that Colby handled the pain, but even those mild options often required a bout of arm-twisting of his partner to make it happen.
Colby reached David, said, "Hi," keeping his head down as he passed, and continued to walk to his door. Sinclair knew that he was the reason Granger looked so discomfited as he passed, and he didn't like the feeling of guilt that washed over him. Heroes shouldn't be made to feel that way. And though David might be mad at his friend, there was no denying the heroic efforts Colby had put in during this long mission undercover. He put his own head down in shame. He lifted his eyes and watched as Colby stopped and stared at the door, and then watched Granger lower his head once more, laughing wryly this time as he shook it. Behind him, Don handed David a set of keys.
"Uh, you lookin' for these?" Sinclair asked as he handed Colby his keys.
"Thanks." Granger unlocked the door, left it open for Sinclair and Eppes, and headed to the bathroom. He shut the door behind him, definitively, it seemed, as though shutting out what – or who – awaited him in his living room.
"Thanks, David," Don said as he set the bag down on the dining room table.
"For showing up. For being nice to your partner."
"What happened? He doesn't look very good. Was he ready to be released?"
"I don't know, David. Do you think some of that might be because he misses his partner?"
"I don't know. I guess. But something else happened, right?"
"We ran across an accident today. He got a little bruised up, got knocked hard to the pavement from an exploding car. He can't seem to catch a break," Don added sadly. David didn't comment on that. As much as he wanted to allow his friend a break, he was still so angry.
"You know, Don, I probably shouldn't be here."
"Why not?" Colby asked as he returned from his bathroom.
"Look, I just don't think now's the time, that's all," David explained.
"Time for what?" Colby asked as he eased himself into the far end of the living room sofa. He kept eye contact with David, who seemed to take offense.
"I didn't want to be here."
"Then why are you here?" Colby leaned his cheek on his fisted hand as he continued to eye his partner.
"Because I asked him here." Don looked back and forth between his two agents. "Look, guys, there is no side that I'm taking in this. I can see why you're mad, David, but it's over. And it's not like Colby was given much choice. . ." Sinclair interrupted.
"We all have choices. Free will, isn't that right?" David asked, looking accusingly at Colby. He turned his cold stare to Don. "Good job of remaining neutral."
Colby kept his gaze on his partner and then turned disappointed eyes toward the window. It was getting too dark to see anything now, but Granger still stared, seemingly mesmerized by the dark nothingness.
"David, come on. Think about what you would have done if you were asked to do the same thing," Don suggested.
"I wouldn't have done it."
"You don't know what you're saying, David," Colby challenged.
"Don't you tell me what I do and don't understand."
Colby snorted a laugh. "You know what? This is probably a bad idea." Granger stood, in obvious pain, and then headed down the hall. "I'm going to bed."
"Sit down, Colby," Don ordered.
"Don. . ."
"No. This is ridiculous. You're best friends." Don turned to David as Colby sat back down. "Come on, David. You're telling us that if it meant tripping up the bad guys, making a serious contribution to the security of your country, you wouldn't have agreed to do something similar?"
"I wouldn't have lied to my friends," Sinclair insisted.
"You would," Colby countered. "You wouldn't want to. You'd hate yourself for doing it. You do what you have to do." Granger leaned his head on his hand and rubbed his temple. David saw how tired his friend was. No matter how mad he was, no matter how much he didn't understand how Colby could have done what he did, he still didn't want to see him suffer. And continuing this conversation, right this minute, was only accomplishing that, nothing more.
"Look, Don," he said to his boss. "I promise to be civil and to keep it short, but I think Colby and I need a couple of minutes."
"Colby?" Don asked.
"Go ahead. I'm so tired David'll probably be talking to the wall in that time."
Eppes looked to one man and then the other. He knew there was no way this would be resolved this night. David was still far too angry for real reconciliation. It saddened Don because he knew that understanding was all that Colby wanted. After so much time away, especially all of those weeks being detained, Don knew that the normalcy of being with his team would be the best thing to help Colby Granger come back whole and well, both physically and mentally, from this now no longer secret mission. Don trusted that David Sinclair, good man that he was, would be wise enough to see that sooner rather than later.
"All right." Don handed David the pain medication. "Make sure he takes some of this." David nodded in return rather than lie out loud about what would happen to the pills. "Good night."
"Good night," David said. Don gave him one last meaningful look in warning. The look on Sinclair's face foreshadowed the promise to behave, at least for tonight.
"'Night, Don," Colby called from the sofa. He turned from watching his boss leave to look at David again. "So. . ."
"So," David mimicked.
"Do we have to do this tonight?" Colby asked as he rose from the couch. He walked to the kitchen as David replied.
"I think it's better that we don't," he said as he followed behind Granger. He opened a cabinet door and pulled down a vial of pills. Colby grabbed a glass and filled it with tap water.
"I don't think this is what Don had in mind." Colby turned from the faucet to his friend. "David, I'm really sorry that you got hurt in all of this. You've gotta know that you and Don and Megan – none of you were ever considered targets."
David simply nodded and handed over the pills he'd shaken from the bottle.
"This isn't going to be a problem with anything they gave you at the hospital, is it?"
"All I have is the prescription Don gave you. I haven't had any pain meds from the hospital since the day before yesterday."
"You're the only person I know who takes Benedryl for pain." David smiled when he said it. It was the first and only smile Colby had seen from his tense friend since first eyeing him on his steps earlier.
"It doesn't really address the pain," Colby explained.
"I know. It just knocks you out so that you don't feel any pain," David said, fully aware of Granger's troubles with pain relief.
"You know I'm no good with the narcotics," Colby admitted.
"You should have those headaches checked out."
"Nah, I only get 'em when I take the pain medication. It's what makes me such a good patient in the hospital." They laughed together at the irony of the comment. "Seriously, it's just a side-effect. But thanks for the concern."
David looked at Colby, noting how very sad he seemed. He couldn't give Granger much this night, certainly not what he wanted. His head was so messed up still about being, or more properly put, about feeling betrayed by his best friend, he wondered when, or if he would ever get over it. But he could handle the concern angle.
"You going to take those pills?" David asked.
"Are you staying or going, because there's no point in staying if I take these pills," Colby told his friend.
"Are you okay, really?"
"Yeah. I just got a bigger bruise where some big guy already put some bruises."
Colby sensed how tense and uncomfortable David was. He wanted to talk more, but he hated the distance David insisted on keeping. It looked like they'd have to try this another time. It killed Colby to do it, but he gave David the out he so desperately sought.
"I'm sure you are. You should take that Benedryl and go to bed."
Colby watched David rush to the door. "Good night," Sinclair said as he opened and swiftly shut the door behind him, a stiff wind all that was left of the man.
"Good night," Colby said to the empty room.