When Don got back to David's room, Colby had gone. The Hello Kitty balloon raised a faint grin from David, but he looked wary as he pushed himself further up on his pillows. Don tied the balloon to the bottom rail of the bed to join the three others that were already bobbing around, and sat down in Colby's chair.
"Guess I owe you an apology for the other night."
"Guess you do," David said.
Don should have known David wouldn't be a pushover. That was half the reason Don had always liked him. "Rest up and get back as soon as you can. We need you back." He paused. "I need you back."
David's gaze lost its edge then and Don knew he'd understood that Don was trying to unsay what he'd said the other night. And this was as far as they were going to go in talking about it because there was no way Don was going to say he'd thought for a while David was a homophobic asshole. There really wasn't a good way to say that. Hopefully David would just put it down to Don being pissed at David for sniping about Colby's phone call, and that would actually have been justified because since when was asking for spicy beef lovey-dovey?
He checked if David needed anything – the answer was no – and left.
He thought about looking for Colby, but it was probably best for him to take a step back right now and let those two find their balance again. He knew Colby would spend visiting hours hanging round the hospital till David was discharged. He'd probably have done that anyway, Don thought, but having been made aware that he'd been more or less ignoring his best friend for the last couple of months, it was a no-brainer.
If it's what he and David needed to do, then Don was okay with that. Just as he'd be okay with them spending more time together, because that was obviously going to happen whether he was okay with it or not.
As he walked out of the hospital doors into the evening sunshine, Don slid his shades on and headed for his SUV, a slight smile tugging at his lips. He reckoned he was pretty damn lucky to have the team he did.
Colby turned up on Don's doorstep late that evening, and over a beer filled him in on the important part of his conversation with David. He was obviously feeling guilty; it was nothing to what Don was feeling, so he changed the subject quickly, and Colby seemed more than happy to let him.
The next night, Friday, Colby took David home. Don didn't see him again till midday Sunday, when he turned up at Don's looking a little sheepish.
"Sorry," he said as soon as Don opened the door. "I forgot our surfing plans."
Don had assumed they were off. "How's David?" he asked, following Colby into the kitchen.
Colby looked up from where he was hovering over the coffee machine, apparently willing it to work faster. "He's still hurting more than he lets on, but he'll be okay."
"He need anything?"
"I did a grocery run, and even went to the comic book store for him. Guess he's set for today. I'll check in on him tomorrow."
Don hesitated. "You think I should go see him or would that be too much like the boss checking up on him?"
Colby looked up then, eyes narrowed. He knew as well as Don that if Don ever had doubts about his leadership, he never let his team see them. "I think he'd appreciate it, so long as you gave him a heads-up first." He gestured with the coffee jug. "You want one?"
Don pushed an empty mug across the counter at Colby.
"What's going on?" Colby asked, as he pushed it back, filled.
Don thought about pretending he didn't have a clue what Colby was driving at, but that would kind of negate all those hours with Bradford. He propped himself against the doorframe and took a mouthful of coffee. He wasn't avoiding answering, he was just taking his time. The only thing was, he forgot that Colby could outwait the sands of time themselves if he needed to. He didn't know if it was innate in him or the result of all that interrogation technique training, but the fact remained – you might as well wait for the seas to run dry as wait for Granger to crack first.
"It's David," he said at last.
"I figured as much," Colby offered when Don said nothing more.
"I know him better than that. I feel like – I don't know, like I let him down or something."
Colby was quiet, giving Don the space to find the words he needed.
"I couldn't take the risk, you know?"
"You know why?"
"Of course I know why, Colby. I'm not an idiot," Don said, exasperated, and then saw the slight smile on Colby's face. "Oh, damn you – you've been taking lessons from Bradford, haven't you?"
"I'm just saying," Colby said.
"And don't think I haven't noticed you dodging the question there, Granger. Yeah, okay, so I had my reasons."
"Good reasons, Don," Colby said, suddenly serious. "You've given other people the benefit of the doubt before on this and it's blown up in your face. And I know what you were doing, looking out for me, but, you know - FBI Agent here. I can do that for myself."
"Yeah, and maybe that whole over-protective thing is a damn good reason why I shouldn't be dating someone on my team," Don realised. Because without that need to look out for Colby's safety, he'd wouldn't have rushed to judgment on David in the way he had. He'd have taken longer in trying to find out what was really going on before voicing his concern.
Colby blinked, and his face slowly lost all expression as he registered what Don had said.
"Okay," he said slowly. "So if Liz and Megan were dating and you thought you saw the same behaviour, you'd have done nothing? Or what if it was me and Tim King?"
Don was trying really hard not to let his mind wander to thoughts of Liz and Megan together, when the rest of what Colby had said sank in. "Wait, what - you and King? You want to date Tim King?"
Colby closed his eyes for an instant. "No, I don't want to date Tim King. I'm just asking what would you have done differently if it hadn't been you and me?"
Don got his mind back on track and realised. He was protective about his whole team and that was all there was to it. Gary Walker had told him off for it before now, and he hadn't given a crap. And maybe it was or maybe it wasn't a good way to be, but at least it wasn't because he was showing favouritism.
"You've made your point," he said, and saw Colby slowly relax. And okay, that thing about not dating someone on his team had been a pretty crappy thing for Don to fling out there without any notice; he'd just been thinking out loud. He'd have to find some way to let Colby know that. Some way that didn't involve talking about it. Or maybe they could just forget it had ever been said.
"Listen, Don," Colby cut across his thoughts, looking shamefaced, "none of this would have happened if I hadn't been such a dick to David. The worst of it is, I didn't even notice I was doing it. I just wanted to be with you as much as I could." And then his cheeks coloured slightly, and Don figured that he'd realised what he'd just confessed.
"Yeah, well, you're not the only one who's put other stuff off," he said, because recently he hadn't spent the time with his dad and Charlie outside of work that he usually would have done.
There was a moment's silence while they both pretended that neither of them had said what they'd just said.
"It's not too late to go surfing," Colby said. "Unless you've got other stuff to do."
"Surfing's good. And maybe tomorrow when you see David, I'll drop in on Dad."
"You're assuming the boss from hell lets us get away from work before midnight."
"Hey," Don said indignantly, but Colby was already moving out of his reach, a grin on his face.
Don put his mug down on the counter with a sigh. Colby could be so damn annoying sometimes. Don just wished he didn't find it quite as endearing as he did.
Colby was standing by the front door, looking hopeful, so Don went to his bedroom to grab his gear for the beach.
"So why Tim King?" he asked as he came back out. "Is there something I should know?"
Colby sighed. "He's just the first person who came to mind."
"Yeah, and I'd like to know why."
"Because he still owes me twenty bucks is why."
Don stared at him. "Colby, that was eight months ago."
"Twenty bucks is twenty bucks."
And the thing was, looking at Colby, Don knew he meant it. God, he'd better not forget to give Colby his change next time he gave Don money for takeout or lunch or even coffee, or he'd be hounded for it all the way to the grave.
He opened the door and followed Colby out. Maybe they could look in on David on the way home and save him from a boring evening on his own. He was pretty sure David would be happy to overlook any sand they might leave in their wake for the takeout they'd bring. A game on TV and pineapple-free pizza for three should let them put all this behind them and forget it had ever happened. Just so long as Colby didn't get short-changed on the pizza, of course, because if that were to happen it would be written into the annals of the world for all time.