He woke up in pain. Lots of it. He felt sick and hot all over, and as quiet as he was trying to be, he must have let out some noise, because he heard someone stand from the chair they were in and put a hand on his forehead to calm him down, "Take it easy, kiddo. Where's that morphine thing?"
He didn't know, he didn't care. He hurt. And he wanted Don to fix it.
He heard the nurse saying something, then someone pressed something cold and plastic into his hand, but he couldn't figure what it was. There was a sigh, then someone's hand covered his own, and guided his thumb to a button, helping him push it down, telling him, "You gotta push the button when you're in pain, Granger."
He sighed as the narcotic swept through him, and someone chuckled, then said," Open your eyes Colby."
He obeyed, surprised at how incredibly difficult it was. Don smiled, "Hey, there we go."
He managed something like a smile, but his lip split under the pressure, and his mouth flooded with blood suddenly. Don swore and told him, "Here kiddo." And handed him some tissues to hold to his mouth. He held them up obediently, looking at Don, before saying, "I'm sorry."
"I'm really sorry."
"Colby I know."
"It was before I met you, and I was seventeen and I just…"
He was desperate to make sure that not everyone was angry at him, that not everyone was going to leave him, and Don sighed as he pressed him back into the bed, telling him, "Shh, Colby. I know you're sorry. I'm not angry. Just try and sleep now. It's okay. It's all right."
He drifted off to that.
He drifted up again to quiet voices. Mr. Eppes. And David. And Don. They were talking about him. His father was asking, "What if he's dangerous Donnie? What if he?"
"He's not dangerous Dad. He's not even violent right now. He's weak as a kitten."
That was true. He was barely able to keep the grip on the morphine pump to kill the pain with. He didn't think he was strong enough to do about anything right now. He just wanted to sleep.
"I don't know about this, Donnie. It's a lot of work, and you're stretched thin as it is. I don't want you overworked."
"I can't just send him away Dad. He just spent the last couple of months in prison. He should be around friends again."
"Doesn't he have any family?"
"I don't know. I'll be asking him soon, when he wakes up, but either way I can't really expect him to – "
He winces as David asks, "Are you sure you can trust him Don?"
Don says, "I always did." And maybe that hurts most of all.
"He's still asleep?"
"They said that was normal. He's been in and out all day. You mind sitting with him while I get something to eat?"
Charlie, it's Charlie who's here now, says, "No problem." And sits down. Don comes over to the side of the bed and grasps his wrist to wake him up, telling him, "I'm going to the cafeteria. I'll be back, all right Colby?"
He nods; still spaced out from the morphine and whatever else they're giving him. He'd woken up once when Don had stepped out to take a phone call and panicked. They'd had to give him something in his IV.
He opens his eyes and looks around the room. Charlie sees his eyes open and smiles, coming over to give him a clumsy hug that makes all his nerve endings flare up with pain. He grunts, but waves a hand as Charlie pulls back regretfully, "Sorry. Sorry, Colby."
"You're fine." His voice sounds raspy and hoarse and hurts his throat. It hurts, yeah, but it's nice to have someone hugging him. Someone wanting to be around him.
"I'm so glad you're okay."
That's Charlie talking. He's telling him all about everything that's gone on in the last few months. He's not really tracking everything he was saying, but he was warm, and comfortable, and not in pain, so he wasn't complaining.
He's asleep before he can even think about it.
When he wakes up, Don asks him if there's anyone, anyone at all that he wants him to call for him, and for some odd reason, he tells him about his brother in Idaho who he'd really like to see. Who he's been wanting for a while now.
Don nods and tells him he'll make the call. He's half asleep before he realizes that he didn't give Don the number, but that's all right. He's a clever guy. He'll figure it out.
Jake doesn't yell at him, doesn't get angry just kisses him on the forehead and tells him to go back to sleep .He hears Don and him talking lowly in the corner of the room, Jake swears, lowly, and Don agrees, "Bout right."
"He's a mess."
"Is he still in custody?"
He snaps awake in a panic, struggles to sit up. Jake and Don both jump for him, Don gets there first, pressing him down, on the bed while Jake goes to get a nurse. "Colby, it's all right. It's okay. You're not going back to prison. Colb, buddy, listen to me, you're not going back to prison."
"No' in custody?"
"Nope you got exonerated, Colb. Everything's fine now. But you gotta relax."
He nods, feeling his heart fluttering weakly in his chest, and the doctor comes in and tells them that he needs to be kept quiet. He drifts off after that, exhaustion taking over, vaguely hearing Don and Jake making plans.
When he wakes up Jack is there, and he's told, in no uncertain terms, that he's spending six weeks of his two month sick leave in Idaho with him and the family, and the other two weeks finding a new apartment, since the landlord had rented his apartment out from under him. Apparently he'd be staying with the Eppes until he found a place. He tried to apologize, and Jake told him, "Colb, don't worry about it. I'm not mad at you. Okay?"
He was still kind of confused from the drugs, and he thought that he should probably be more alert, but he was so tired –
He woke up again with Jake still there and talking to a doctor, who was checking the EEG connected to his chest with a practiced sort of ease that made him feel much more secure. The doctor said he was awake and patted his chest. Don't worry Mr. Granger. You're going to be just fine."
He nods, then asks, "Lancer – he – he said it could cause heart damage."
The doctor looked surprised that he'd managed to recall that much, but then told him, "It can but you didn't receive the full dose, the man who pulled it out, David Sinclair? He probably saved your life."
He nodded at that, and the doctor said, "Anyway, you have some visitors, if you're up to them."
He nodded, already tired, but he wanted to see everyone.
They all filed in, and he let his brother sort himself out about introductions, too tired to do much else, but lay there. Megan had already met him, he guessed, drove him from the airport, and Larry was making his presence as boyfriend unsuccessfully known. He came and sat down and started talking about some physics principle that Colby was really too dopey to follow. Don came and said hi before sinking into the couch along the wall, then leaning back. He was asleep before anyone could say anything, and Alan just shook his head and covered him with one of the blankets left there for Colby. "He's working too hard."
He feels guilty, knowing that most of the work that had crossed Don's desk this week had probably been about him.
Charlie and Amita both came over to hug him, and it still hurt, but he didn't complain. Mr. Eppes, after informing him he looked terrible, sat and began talking to Jake. No one seemed to be expecting anything from him, so he dozed in and out to lots of people talking about him all at once.
When he woke up, everyone was eating dinner and he got some Jell-O that Jake strong armed him into eating. He told Jake he hated Jell-O. Jake told him, 'shuddup and eat'
He'd missed his brother.
Apparently once he'd been incarcerated everything'd been seized, so he was officially homeless as well as having only what Don and Megan had managed to get out of the PD. Jake told him he could buy stuff while he was on bed rest. His protest to that was met with a ' shuddup and go back to sleep'
It should have stung, the words, but the fact that Jake was holding his hand, and running a hand through his hair sort of tempered it a little bit.
He got out of the hospital Friday. Don, for some sadistic reason he was unsure of, had sent Charlie to pick him up, and he was fairly certain that twenty minutes with Charlie's driving had done his heart more damage than two days with Lancer had.
He walked in the front door and twenty or so people yelling surprise didn't help either. Jake and Don both made him sit down before everyone swarmed him. Apparently he was being thrown a welcome back from prison/glad you're not a traitor/housewarming/glad you're not dead party. Don was a little iffy about that himself, and he groused that he'd told them jaunts in prison and side missions for the DOJ should not be rewarded, but his hand was gentle as he squeezed Colby's shoulder, and he knew it was his reticent boss's way of telling him he was glad too.
He ate some cake and listened to a bunch of Charlie's grad students tell him how glad they were that he was okay. He suspected they were just glad their donut supply was back. There were a bunch of people walking around, and he had a stack of cards as thick as a book by the time that everyone was through. He made it through the party and to the airport, where Jake made him sit down. He got to board first, that undercover thing was finally good for something. Jake had bought the seat next to them, and he put Colby on the inside seat, so he could stretch out. He dozed off again, hearing a stewardess ask if he needed anything. His brother said, "He'll be fine."
And for the first time since waking up, Colby believed that.
Chapter 2: Damage
Don sent them to the showers. Colby and Ian struck up a conversation almost immediately, talking about the war and mutual friends. Don had just shaken his head and told Colby, "Should have known, huh?"
Colby just shrugged. He was still sheepish about the NSA thing, and rightfully so, David thought.
But Ian had gotten him talking about a man named Hodgins and a bunch of stuff that had happened in Afghanistan. Colby was laughing as he heard Iain telling a story while soaping his hair, and David couldn't help but feel a little left out. His conscience twinged a little as he realized that that's probably how Colby'd been feeling for a while now.
Colby had been withdrawn ever since they'd gotten him back, although Don seemed to have more luck drawing him out than the others. Still, Ian made it look effortless. He had Colby so loose that he didn't do more than winces when Ian asked, "So how are you doing?"
There was a little silence, then Colby said, "I'm all right, I think."
Ian nodded, "You still feeling it, a little?"
This made David perk his ears up. His locker was a little ways down from Colby's who was digging though his things to find Ian something to wear, his own clothes probably unrecoverable from mud.
He sighed a little, then nodded, and spoke softly, in a tone that sounded nothing at all like him. "They're telling me I did something to my shoulder, the way they had me hung up. Tore a ligament or something. I'm having surgery the end of the month.
"You tell Don?"
"Yeah. I told him about the stuff from the drugs too, figured he might as well know what he was getting into, reinstating me. He said don't worry about it, so-"
David rolled his eyes. That was all Don said to Colby about anything that had to do with the Trust Metric. It was like the whole last three months hadn't even happened.
"You finally get a place?"
Colby laughed at that, "Yeah, finally. You should never take the Eppes house searching."
"That bad huh?"
"Half the city was out because of crime, 'nother quarter because of building problems, and another quarter of that because of a 'high probability of terrorist attacks'"
Ian laughed at that, and Cobly shook his head, "Don was terrible. Just knocked whole neighborhoods out of the running. The real estate agent had maybe ten miles to work with." He smiled a little, ruefully, then says, "I got a great place though. Jake – he called some people at the state department, went all Harvard on 'em, and the next thing I know, I get a letter saying they're sorry for the mix – up and I'll be getting a pension check every month now."
Ian outright laughed at that, "Harvard huh?"
"Maybe it was Yale. All I know is, he yelled for about two hours one day, and I got the check the next week."
"I ever meet Jake?"
Colby tipped his head back, thinking. David knew he hadn't. Jake'd come out when Colby'd been in the hospital that week. Colby was still thinking, putting on his deodorant, and when David passed by he finally saw him without a shirt on since the first time this whole thing started.
The scars on his wrists were still red and angry, with seared lines crossing them in places. The veins in the crooks of his elbows, where most of the injections had been, were marked a deep, ugly red, with track marks still showing clearly. He vaguely remembered the paramedics hollering about blow lines, but he hadn't realized that the veins were that badly damaged.
The worst though, were the white lines of scars on one side of Colby's chest, one deeper than the rest, as though someone had been slashing at him with a knife.
Or a shank.
Colby sees him staring and reaches for a shirt, telling Ian, "I think you did. He's comin' out later in the summer too, so you can always see him then. He looks a lot like me, tall. Was at that barbeque…"
"When you came back from Ramstein. Yeah I'm remembering now. Always telling you to shuddup. I liked him."
Colby pushed Ian back into the locker, "Ha ha."
He felt awkward, out of place, with these two so friendly now, and he turned to leave, to give them some privacy. Colby saw the motion though, and looked at his phone, "I got to get back up there Ian. Going on a food run. You want something?"
Ian shook his head and Colby turned to him, "David?"
He nodded, and gave his order, and Colby nodded, walking away briskly. Ian waited until he was out of sight until he asked, "He really all right?"
David looked at him, "He's fine."
Edgerton raised both eyebrows, "You odn't know him very well, do you."
"Well that's not my fault."
Edgerton turned around, "It isn't my place to interfere in Granger's life, and I wouldn't do him the dishonor of trying. But he's not alright, and you're not helping. "
"I don't know what you're talking about." He did, probably, but he was feeling stubborn.
He hadn't expected Edgerton to get in his face the way he did. He hadn't expected to have a very angry special forces man in his face as he hissed, "This is what I know. Granger changed when he accepted that DOJ assignment, it was like the life just drained out of him. You didn't know him before, I understand that. But he's done with it now, and he's around people who care about him. He should be recovering. He should be getting better. He should not be the exact same as he was three months ago. We clear?"
He just stares, and Edgerton continues, "He's had a hard life, Sinclair –"
"He never complains."
"He shouldn't need to! Think about it. Think. He joined the army at seventeen. The only family he talks about is his brother. He thought that he wasn't worth more than whatever task the DOJ set him on next. He can't hold a relationship, he never speaks about anything personal. He never lets himself realx. He has bruises under his eyes the size of grapefruits. Do I need to spell it out for you?"
He really should've realized. The army at seventeen, the no family, that spoke of a bad home life. The vigilance and the lack of sleep spoke of something more worrying. Something that probably needed outside help. He shook his head and grasped for some level of dignity.
"Maybe if he hadn't lied to me – "
"Yes. I know. He lied. Everyone was angry. We've been through this, Agent Sinclair. But he's paid for it enough, don't you think? Don't you think he's paid his due?"
He thinks back to that freighter, to having to cut his best friend down from a chair. He thinks about how once they'd gotten his heart started again, all Colby had done was lie there and try to say 'I'm sorry' again and again and again. His voice had given out, but he'd kept saying it.
He didn't know what had happened after that. He'd gone outside to throw up. Megan had probably handled it, or Don.
They told him later that was the drugs. Made people panicky. He couldn't imagine what Colby had lived through on that freighter. Couldn't imagine the damage that Lancer and his drugs had done, to an already damaged soul.
"Yeah." He whispered. "Yeah, I think he's paid enough."
Chapter 3: These Days
Just clarifying, becuase I've had other issues with this timeline, this chapter is set after Robin gets back in town (and back with Don) later in season 4.
He closes the door to his apartment and sighs, leaning back against it. The idea of a whole week off seems like an outrageous luxury. He hasn't had time off in so long.
But that's what they're getting. Don had told them he didn't care who died, no one was coming in for a week. He figures that had more to do with the fact that Robin's back in town than anything else.
Part of him is relieved that he doesn't have to go in tomorrow, and the other part is hoping that someone really important kicks off so he can have something to do with himself.
He turns and locks his door, turning all the bolts before he pushes the chain into its slide. He didn't use to do them all up, and he recognizes that the precaution is probably something he needs to deal with, but these days – these days –
It was all he could do to keep going day to day. He'd made it here, so tomorrow would just have to take care of itself.
He sinks down on the couch, too tired to move. He needs to, he knows. He needs to get up, shower, eat something. But he's so bone deep tired that he can't quite manage it now.
When he wakes up, five hours later, he manages to get himself showered and in an actual bed, but food is just too much work. He sleeps again, realizing he's missed Saturday, but he still hasn't taken the edge off of the exhaustion that seems to sink down to his marrow. It doesn't seem physical, not quite.
He felt restless and edgy, as though he's just about ready to fly to pieces any minute. That was no surprise, this was the first time off he'd had since he'd got out of the hospital. He'd kind of expected this crash, it had happened when he'd gotten back from Afghanistan too.
He picks up his phone from his nightstand, looked at the messages. One from Don to everyone, Dinner. 7. Tortellis. Monday.
He'd been expecting that. Don usually took them out for dinner after a tough case.
He texts back his response and then scrolls down, seeing a voice message from Jake, telling him to call him back. He realizes he must have missed his weekly call in and sighs, then hits the call button. Jake's been a little on edge ever since that whole mess, and he doesn't blame him.
Jake's understanding, and maybe that's the worst part. His brother's voice hits him in all the wrong places, and before he knows it he's sniffling and crying. He hasn't cried in years, and Jake's asking if he's all right and he's sort of choking, "Yes."
Jake doesn't respond for a minute, then finally he says, "Colby. Colby – Jack. Listen to me for a minute. You need to get some rest all right? I don't want you going in today."
"'M n-not. We're off until next week."
"Okay. Good. Lie down and get some more sleep, and I want you to call me in a few days and we'll talk about this some more, all right? You okay with that?"
"Okay. Go to sleep."
He manages to put in an appearance at the dinner, but he feels so shaky that he isn't very good company. Don offers to walk him out, and once they get there, he stops him with a hand on his shoulder, "This stays private between you and me, all right? I just want you to think about seeing someone. You seem like you need someone to talk to."
"Don – I – "
Don stopped him, "I just want you to think about it, Colby. There's no pressure, it's not like this is affecting your job or anything. It's just as a friend, that's all."
He takes the card.
He tries to sleep but can't, his whole body tense and aching. He drifts off and wakes in pain, his heart pounding and his stomach rebelling. He barely manages to make it to the bathroom to throw up. He manages to rinse his mouth out in the sink, then looks up and sighs.
Shirtless, it's easy to see the marks life's left on him. David was staring on Friday, he knew. David saw the scars on his chest and the insides of his arms, but not the rest.
David didn't know where to look.
There were the other, faded marks, from the defibrillator on his chest where they'd had to restart his heart in the hospital. They were more a difference in color than anything. Already fading away.
On the top of his left hip, the Iliac Crest, he knows it's called, there is a short spray of scar tissue from the bullet he caught in Kunduz.
The top of one shoulder is spangled with small, round scars that aren't from terrorists or Lancer or criminals, but instead a parting gift from his foster father. They are still red around the edges, might always be, because apparently, tobacco leaves stains.
It only happened once. He knows that. Knows that most times, nothing like that happens to foster kids.
When people ask him why he joined the army so young, he is often tempted to just pull down that sleeve and show them. He never does though. He'd never even told Jake, but the man had found out when he'd stayed with him that first week. His brother had been helping him peel a shirt off and his eye had been caught by the circles. He hadn't said anything, just traced them gingerly, and looked up, telling him, "I'm so sorry, Colby."
It wasn't Jake's fault. He'd been fourteen when they were all split up. There hadn't been anything he could do, and once he was old enough Colby was nowhere to be found. Next time he'd seen him, he'd been holding the papers for a military emancipation.
He's suddenly overcome by anger, at who he's not sure, and before he even thinks about he brings his hand forward and slams it into the mirror, shattering his reflection and slitting his palm open. He swears and grabs a towel, then just stands there, panting, for a long minute.
He sinks down against his cabinets, and sighs, leaning his forehead against the cool wood of the cabinets and sighs.
It wasn't this bad after Afghanistan.
Oh, it was bad, there's no mistaking that. There were nightmares, and if he recalls correctly, some drinking, but there was no hitting anything. No slitting his hand open on mirrors.
He puts his palm to his mouth and sucks to get rid of some of the pain, tasting copper. He'd probably need stitches.
The card Don gave him is on his dresser, the number clear, and he picks up his phone and calls his handler at the DOJ first. The man's there wholly in a supportive role now, just to help him with his pension, or doctors, or anything else he needs. He tells the man what he wants, and he tells Colby that that's no problem, go ahead and call.
He's not such a bad guy. He doesn't know who he is, or where he is, or even his name, really, but he always answers when Colby calls, even if it was just to calm him down when everything was falling apart on him.
The next phone call he makes is harder. It rings enough times that he thinks about maybe hanging up. But he grits his teeth and waits it out and jumps six inches when he gets a real live voice and not a voicemail machine, "Hello, Dr. Bradford? This is Colby Granger. Sorry to call so late, but I'm a friend of Don Eppes, and I was wondering if you had the time –"
Just as a warning to y'all, there is a slight mention at an attempted prison rape in this chapter. It's only mentioned in conversation, nothing graphic (or at all, really) but I wanted to let people know in advance. Thanks.
Don Eppes had never been very fond of the DOJ.
He hadn't liked 'em when Megan was involved with them, and he didn't like them now, as they refused to confirm or deny whether or not Granger had been involved with them three months ago. But he needed to know if Colby was actually cleared to be active, needed to know if he wasn't endangering the kid more. But this, this was ridiculous. He'd been on hold for half an hour and he talked to three people before getting to someone who actually seemed to know vaguely what he was talking about. And this guy wouldn't admit he even knew Colby's name.
"Listen, all I want is to know whether or not he's actually in any danger from the Chinese anymore. That's it. I already know you pay him monthly, so cut the crap and tell me what I want to know."
He got a tired sort of sigh, then someone told him, "At this point, Mr. Granger is no longer on anyone's radar, Chinese or anyone else."
Don rang the doorbell and waited patiently, not expecting Granger to be moving particularly quickly on his day off. Sure enough, he waited a good five minutes before a rather bedraggled Colby appeared, still rubbing sleep from his eyes. He was glad about that, Granger looked like he could use some sleep.
He offered up the box in his arms, lamely, saying, "Thought I'd bring your stuff by."
Colby nodded and let him in, "Thanks man." He seemed a little dismayed at the size of the box, and Don said, "There's another couple in the car, I can bring them up."
Colby nodded and grabbed his hoodie, padding behind Don as they made their way back to the parking lot. They managed to get the other three in one trip, and Colby said, "Just put 'em on the table man. I'm making eggs, you want any?"
"Sure, Colb. Thanks."
He got another slow nod as Colby moved to the fridge and took out eggs, cracking them slowly into the pan. He shuffled back over to the boxes and began to sort through them, pulling things out.
Don hadn't been able to get much, Megan and him had been on a sort of grab and dash mission to get there before the rest of it was sold off, and they'd mostly gone for sentimental value.
There was an old quilt, folded quarterwise on the top of one, and Colby pulled it out almost reverently before setting it to one side and turning back to his eggs, which he dished up on a plate with ham nad told Don was, "A good Idaho breakfast."
He fingered the fringe on the quilt again, telling Don, "My mother made this for me when I was a baby."
Don didn't know what to day, so instead he just nodded and waited for Colby to keep digging.
There was a high school yearbook, which he handed to Don, saying , "Go ahead."
Colby's picture was as delightfully dorky as he could have imagined, and he was about to make a comment about his teeth when he pulled an old sweater out of the box and hitched a breath, before looking at Don and saying, "You got this?"
Don nodded. He'd just cleaned out the top drawer of the dresser, guessing anything that you keep with your cashbox is important. He was surprised when Colby told him, "That was Dad's."
"I'm glad I grabbed it then."
"Yeah, me too."
He pulled out a cigar box and tossed it to one side without even looking, and Don reached for it curiously, asking, "What's in – "
Colby just waved a hand at him, and Don opened it, then stared. There was a special forces patch, which he knew about, a purple heart, which he had guessed, and a silver star, which stunned him for a moment, "Colby."
Granger looked over at him and asked, "Hmm?"
"That's the silver star."
"How'd you get this?"
He shrugged, "mission went bad, I got a lot of people out, Army was grateful I guess."
No wonder the promise of a meritorious conduct medal hadn't phased him.
Colby was digging through the next box, smiling as he saw his cash box and his family album, and old collectible model truck that had been sitting on his dresser. His dog tags. A few sweatshirts. His laptop, and Ipod. Nowhere close to everything he'd lost, but something at least. He smiled a little sadly when he found the picture of him and Dwayne, and another with his Special Forces group. "I didn't have doubles of these, so thanks man."
Don nodded, unsure of himself. He wasn't used to knowing so much about Granger, this was more than he'd learned in two years.
"Sorry there wasn't more. We kind of had to grab and go."
He shook his head, "that's all right. I appreciate it."
He stood up to take his and Don's plates, then turned back to the last two. One was just clothes, some old t-shirts and dress shirts, and the other was a bunch of notebooks. Colby saw them and hissed through his teeth, then asked, "You read 'em?"
"Just the last one. When I was trying to decide whether to go after you or not. Pretty smart Granger, to write everything down. Probably saved your life."
Colby nodded nad flipped through the one on top, seeing the entry that Don had been scanning,
I want to tell everyone the truth, that I was there to flush Dwayne out, but I can't. Kendrick's got me in a choke hold, and one way or the other, I end up screwed. Now he's talking about sending me to prison, to get Carter that way. Like he doesn't know what happens to cops in prison. I'll be lucky if I make it a month.
Colby blushed, thinking of what must have gone through Don's head, "It wasn't that bad, Don."
Don stared at him levelly, "I saw the reports, Colb. I know what happened. Or at least what you reported."
"No one put their hands anywhere they shouldn't've."
"I broke the first guy's nose who tried to."
Don laughed at that, then said, "That's something then. I was worried about that."
He looked up at Don for a minute, then asked, "That tape. Lancer had a tape? What happened to it?"
Don grimaced, "We have it now. It's in evidence."
Colby paled, then looked at Don pleadingly, "Please tell me that David didn't see it."
Don shook his head, "That's private Colby. I – I only watched to get the evidence for the exoneration."
He'd hated watching the confession tapes, and reading Colby's report, but the all-around worst had been watching Lancer's interrogation. It had been enough to turn his stomach. In fact, it had been the first time in years that he'd thrown up because of something he'd seen.
But his junior agent, tied to a chair, keening in pain and asking for his dead father – that had been enough.
So no, he'd let Colby keep what had gone on in prison and on that freighter to himself. Let him put that in a box and pack it away somewhere.
And maybe one day, someone would give it back to him.
Chapter 5: Visitors
OK, folks, I wrote this one at five in the morning, before I'd gone to sleep. So if you're going to pass judgement on my writing, please, please don't do it on this chapter. Please.
Colby was surprised at how many visitors he got.
David was there when he woke up. He looked at the man muzzily while he helped him eat some ice – chips. Telling him, ""Surgery went fine man. Doctor said you shoulder's gonna be just fine. They're gonna keep you 'till Saturday, just to watch you. We caught a live one, so we're gonna be kind of crazy, but someone will always be here, all right?"
David and Don had figured out that he didn't like hospitals, hated them, in fact, so he always had visitors now. He should be embarrassed, but he was usually just grateful.
Prison had spoiled him on solitude.
He slept again, and when he woke up, Alan Eppes was there and his shoulder hurt. After the nurse had given him the pain medication, he'd dozed off to the man's comforting patter. He should tell Alan how much he appreciated the man's presence, both him and his sons, in his life recently. Now that he'd been cut loose by the DOJ, he felt horribly lost, rudderless.
Charlie, Larry and Amita visited next, involving him in some argument that he had no understanding of and very little opinion either way, but it was nice to have people around, and he fell asleep again to them chattering.
Robin and Don both stopped by with lunch, something other than the hospital food. Robin even brought him cookies. Don smiled indulgently while she fussed over him.
They'd been seeing a lot of each other lately, since she'd been dating Don and since the Eppes clan had practically adopted him.
After they'd eaten, Robin had given him a sort of hug, and Don had touched him on the shoulder, told him, "Rest up man."
Ian came late at night, interrupting one of his frequent nightmares with a, "Granger. Wake up."
The man hadn't commented, not on the nightmare, or his frantic grasp for the emesis basin on the nightstand, just poured him a cup of water and took it when he was done, told him, "Lancer's lucky to be dead."
He meant it to, and as much as it might have made others flinch, he just felt a warm little spot inside.
Ian only mauled because he cared.
Jake would have flown out, but Colby wouldn't let him, saying that it was routine, and that he'd see him soon enough in August. He called every night, talking about work and the family. The kids all took a turn talking to Uncle Colby. It made him smile and kind of cry all at once.
He'd missed this, this family experience. He'd been lonely for so long, now he couldn't manage to be left alone.
Gary stopped by one afternoon with a pack of cards and a strawberry milkshake, told Colby he'd better be back at work soon because, "I don't wanna face that tiger of a boss of yours when you're not around."
That had made him smile, and they'd ended up playing Gin Rummy for the rest of the evening, until Gary had to go on shift.
Liz had replaced him, had sat up with him all night watching old sitcoms when he confided that he didn't want to go to sleep. She seemed rather understanding about the whole deal, and he figures maybe she's the one that this affected least, because she didn't know him before Lancer and therefore has nothing to compare him to. Maybe that makes it easier to be around her. As it is, things with the rest of the team are still a little strained.
He spikes a fever Friday, and sleeps most of the day, waking up from disjointed nightmares. Afganistan and Chinese freighters wreak havoc with his mind, making him shaky and agitated. David's there in the morning and Alan in the afternoon, but surprisingly Don seems to know what to do, standing by the bed with his hand on Colby's head and talking to him about the Beatles, and New Mexico, and did you know the state birds a roadrunner, Colb?
He didn't know, but he kept his eyes open anyway, blinking at Don dopily and trying to track him as he told him all about baseball teams and fugitives, and ex-partners who used to have nightmares just like his.
He finds it comforting, but doesn't say so. Too many words make Don gunshy.
Che Lobo even stops by, on his way to and from meetings, handing him a homemade card from his son and a doughnut from the bakery down the street. He eats it, because he knows that Che Lobo is one of the few people in this world who probably actively doesn't wish him harm.
Saturday dawns bright and clear, and he's dressed and getting ready to leave when David shows up, carrying a bag of takeout and asking, "You ready man?"
David looks as though he has not slept, and when he asks, he is told that they'd wrapped their case today, man shot his wife. David was going to take him home and then get some sleep himself.
He's confused when they head uptown instead of down, but David tells him, "You need some help with that shoulder man. Figured you'd stay with me for a couple a days."
In David speak, that means, "I'm not angry at you anymore" and he squeezes his eyes shut tight, before he manages to say, "That sounds great man."
David nods and smiles and turns the radio up, lets Colby turn the station to the softer stuff he likes, and right before he falls asleep, tells him, "I don't want to have to visit you in the hospital anytime soon brother."
"Seriously man, just about stopped my heart last time."
"Did stop mine."
He forces bleary eyes open, asks, "Hmm?"
"Are there other … affects?"
He sighs, says, "Shoulder'll never heal right. I tore somethin' somewhere. They say the drugs lowered my immune system, I'll get sick easier, and I keep gettin' migraines. It could be worse though."
"You could have been late."
David laughs at that, then says, "You're somethin' else man. C'mon, lets get you back. Lots of people want to see you."
Last one! Please reveiw before exiting! Thanks!
Colby sighed and squirmed in his chair, wishing that the medal of Meritorious conduct wasn't the last award to be presented. He'd had to spend the last three hours with all the other agents being awarded, most of them his superiors, and all of them wary. The only other person besides Don that he'd known at the table had been Tim King, and he'd gone relatively early, presenting the award to his medic, Tim. Now, though, he was finally done, and Don looked at him with amusement, asking, "You ready?"
He nodded, and pushed his chair out so that he could be ready as soon as Don finished. He watched as Don walked up to the stage, and took the podium, shaking the director's hand before turning to address the crowd.
"Tonight I get to do one of my favorite things as a supervisor, and that's reward one of my agents for a job well done. The agent we're talking about tonight is Colby Granger, know to most of you as "Idaho."
He smiled as the crowd chuckled politely, then said, "We all remember Colby's rather - infamous - foray into espionage" another laugh, but Don sobered as he said, "And we respect how much it cost him. Colby is a good man, one who values loyalty and country above all else, and one who is always ready to make sacrifices."
He looked at Colby as he said, "Colby hasn't had the easiest road back from this, but he's gotten there, thanks to his dedication and commitment to his job and to public service. When I think of all those things, it's easy to see why Colby Granger is deserving of a medal, and it's an honor to be able to recognize him for his efforts."
That was his cue. He went to stand up, and paused.
There was his brother, Jake, sitting there with a wide grin on his face, looking proud and pleased. Alan and Charlie Eppes, with Amita. Megan with Larry. David and Liz. Everyone there for him, looking happy to see him, and know him."
One of the older men looked at him concerned, asking, "You all right, son?"
He smiled, "I'm just fine." And for the first time in months, he meant it.