TO HAVE AND TO HOLD

When he thought back on it, David couldn't remember just when the realisation started. Maybe it began back after Colby returned to the FBI, after the two of them had actually figured things out and managed to find their harmony with each other again. Maybe it was after Megan left and Nikki arrived, and Colby stopped being the rookie. Maybe it was actually far before that, when Colby had first confessed to working for the Chinese and the depth and sharpness of David's grief had made him want to believe it was true, because then at least he could distance himself from the pain with anger.

He thought he could pin some of it down to one of Colby's fishing trips. Megan wouldn't have said anything, but Nikki wasn't Megan. Nikki teased and called him on it when he talked too much about his partner, and somewhere in-between the message he left Colby on his phone and Nikki's asking if it was Colby he was calling, David knew.

It wasn't a thing like Don had had with Liz. It wasn't even a thing like Don had with Robin, or Nikki had with Edgerton, or Megan with Larry, and definitely not something like Charlie and Amita. For one thing, Colby didn't know. For another, after that initial moment of clarity David wasn't even sure. The thing with those kinds of feelings is that there had to be an attraction there, didn't there? David wasn't attracted to Colby. He was attracted to Claudia, their beautiful coroner, or Sarah-Jenny, who had turned out to be just a lure for her friend's magic show, or Elizabeth from London who had never meant to stay in Los Angeles for any length of time (and he hadn't expected her to).

David was attracted to women, but it wasn't Sarah-Jenny who knew that shellfish upset his stomach, and it wasn't Elizabeth for whom he knew what drink to order without asking, and it wasn't Claudia for whom he carried around a comb because the idiot rolled out of bed with ten minutes to spare and forgot to brush his hair before work. And while David had had women, it had been a long, long time since he'd been able to bring a woman home to sleep with in his own bed.

David snapped awake in the sort of way he thought he'd left behind in Tel Aviv but still, occasionally, caught up with him even in Los Angeles. He was already reaching for his gun, but then he remembered he was at home, in his own bed, and let his hand drop with a huff. More sensations filtered in: he was warm from sleep but his clothes from the previous day were stiff and starting to chafe; he could hear the quiet hum of a vacuum upstairs; the blinds were drawn but the light filtered in. Still only morning.

Someone stirred on the bed behind him and this time David's ears picked up the familiar breathing, faster and more ragged than it should have been. Oh.

David pushed himself onto his elbows and twisted around to face Colby. The other man was sprawled on his stomach, arms half clutched his pillow, face half buried in the fabric. He was still in his tee and trousers from the day before and the day before that—David had barely managed to get him to take off his shoes as well as his gear before Colby had collapsed on the bed, exhausted from their forty-eight-hour case and too tired to drive home. (David's couch was being reupholstered. Anyone else and David would have broken out the sleeping bag, either for him or his guest.)

Colby's brow furrowed and his breathing picked up again, and David reached over to nudge his shoulder. "Hey, man. You're ruining the peace."

His partner snapped awake at the touch, hand already moving for the gun that was out of reach, but the motion was more than half groggy—a reflex. "David?" he asked, blinking and lifting his head a bit, gaze flickering around.

"Yeah, buddy. You're interrupting my beauty sleep."

Another blink and a half-shake of Colby's head and then the man actually focussed on David. "Real, right?"

David scoffed, because the alternative was to look grim and that wouldn't do Colby any favours. Nightmare about Lancer, then. The ones where he came out of the dream-memory still drugged and hallucinating were always the worst, because for a little while it was like he'd just been rescued, still doped up, and didn't know what was real and what wasn't. "Hell yeah, I'm real. You need me to slap you to prove it?"

"Nah." Colby gave him a tired, fleeting grin, letting his head drop back to the pillow and his eyes close. "Wouldn't want it getting out that my partner is secretly a girl."

David snorted, Colby chuckled quietly, and then the junior agent's breathing started to even out again. Instead of rolling back over to his side of the bed David leaned back against the bed's headboard and reached for the remote, knowing the sound of the TV wouldn't wake up his partner and fully intending on staying awake in case Lancer's memory chose to make a return visit.

No, David wasn't sure when it happened or when he came to realise it, but no woman and possibly not even the job was enough to hold a candle to Colby Granger. And David was surprisingly okay with that.

~ finis