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Nothing Says I Love You Like an Ice Pack

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“Crap!” Colby winced as his keys crashed to the floor, both from the noise and from the knowledge that he'd have to get down there to get them. At least it happened after he'd gotten his door unlocked. He nudged them with his foot into the apartment and gingerly shouldered the door shut. He'd pick up the damn keys later, after the darvocet kicked in. Same with turning the deadbolt. Right now all he wanted was to stop moving.

God! Colby felt like one big bruise. He knew he looked beat up, but the scrapes and cuts on his face weren't the worst of it. His whole torso had taken a beating when he'd bounced off the sides of the channel. There must have been pipes sticking out, too, because he had a perfect oblong bruise across his chest. The worst, though, were his arms – his shoulders and hands, actually. He'd lost a lot of skin off his palms holding on to that cable, and his arms had practically been yanked from their sockets, first when he grabbed the cable, then when he dangled from it as the water snatched at his legs from below, and again when Charlie had pulled him onto the catwalk.

As long as Colby kept moving, things worked okay, but he'd just spent two hours sitting and typing up his report, even more slowly than usual, and all his muscles seemed locked into place. Don had given him a sharp look when he spotted Colby shambling to the men's room, and sent him home for the weekend with orders to take some of the good drugs.

Colby snorted. He bet Don wanted to be on the good drugs, too. He was pretty sure Charlie was going to rip his brother a new one for letting Amita go out there after Spectre. Colby put his money on Charlie for that fight. Don may be tough, and Colby's boss, but Colby had a whole new appreciation for Charlie's capabilities.

Colby smirked at that, which pulled on his scrapes, which reminded him to get the pills. He knew he shouldn't take them on an empty stomach, but he really didn't want to use his hands right now. Anything more complicated than running water into a glass was going to have to wait.

“Crap, crap, crap,” Colby chanted. Every damn move he made for the pills pulled at something that hurt. Raising his arm to open the medicine cabinet. “Crap.” Grasping the bottle of pills while trying to keep his hand flat. “Crap.” Getting a glass down from the kitchen cabinet. “Crap.”

“Oh, fuck!” Colby stared at the medicine bottle. It had a fucking child proof cap. The kind you had to press down and palm off. He'd always hated those stupid things. Colby braced the bottle in one hand and tried using the heel of the other hand to push and turn. It didn't work. He tried again. This time it almost gave, but his hand slipped, scraping the bandaged part as it went. Colby hissed at the pain.

Colby was considering putting the bottle on the floor and stomping on it when the doorbell rang. He put down the pills and went to look through the peephole. David.

Colby opened the door, glad he hadn't turned the deadbolt when he'd come in. “Hey, man! What are you doing here. You weren't due back until Sunday night.”

“The conference was over and I decided to skip the ski weekend when I heard about your little trip to the dam.”

“Megan has a big mouth.”

“Maybe, but I should have heard it from you.”

“I'm fine, David.”

“I don't think so.” David walked over and picked up the bottle of pills. “Darvocet? That's not fine.”

“Okay, so I'm a little sore. I'll be fine in a day or two.”

David swept a look up and down Colby's body, stopping at his bandaged hands. “Can you even get these open?”

Colby bit his lip and didn't answer.

“Shit, man!” David palmed open the bottle and shook out a couple of orange pills.

“Just one, David. It really isn't that bad.”

“Yeah, I know all about you, Mr. Macho. You'll take two.” David held out the pills and a glass of water.

“David- ” Colby tried to put some warning into his voice, but it came out more of a whine instead.

“Just take the damn pills, Granger.”

Colby gave in and swallowed the pills. They'd kick in pretty soon, since he hadn't eaten, and he had stuff to do between the time they started working and the time they knocked him out – stuff like picking up his keys, making himself a sandwich, getting undressed. All those little things you take for granted when you can move.

David's next question notched eerily into Colby's thoughts. “You eaten anything?”

“I don't need a babysitter.”

“I'm not so sure about that. Did you eat anything recently?”

“Look, you don't have to take care of me. Those pills you made me take will put me out pretty soon. I'll eat something then hit the hay, okay?”

“How 'bout you get cleaned up a little and I'll make you some food.”

“Cut it out, Sinclair. I told you I'm fine!” Colby was getting annoyed.

“C'mon, Colby. I heard what happened to you. Your hands and arms must hurt like a bitch. Let me help.” There was something odd in the way David said that. Colby couldn't quite place it, but it sounded almost like -

“Are you feeling guilty?”

David's shoulders slumped a little. Bullseye. “I should have been there, Colby. You went out with two civilians and no backup. I should have been there.”

“David, it wasn't your responsibility. Besides, everything turned out fine. All the good guys are fine. The bad guy got caught. No worries.” Colby was beginning to feel the painkillers kicking in, making him a little loopy.

“Yeah, maybe. But you had to rely on Charlie to pull you out. Charlie!”

“Heh. Yeah. He's a lot stronger than he looks.”

“I'm glad he is. Otherwise I might have come back to find you dead.” Did David's voice hitch when he said that?

Colby decided the drugs were making him hear things. He moved closer to David and smacked him gently on the arm with the back of his hand. Yeah, definitely loopy. “But I'm not dead, man. So, no guilt.”

David shook his head at Colby's goofy smile. “Darvocet working?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“So, how about you go clean up, and I'll make you a sandwich?”

Colby held up his bandaged hands. “I'm not supposed to get these wet.”

“I'll rewrap 'em for you. Now go wash. You smell like betadine.”

Colby was glad he'd waited before cleaning up. The drugs made him a little clumsy, but they also dulled the pain enough that he could get the bandages off his hands and just manage to raise his arms to wash his hair. He was glad David was there, too. Without someone to retape his hands, he wouldn't have been able to shower, and once he was under the spray he realized how much he welcomed the chance to wash off the emergency room smell.

He was able to keep the butterfly bandages on his face, and when he came back out to the kitchen wearing only sweatpants, he brought the telfa pads, tape and gauze so that David could redress his palms.

David had made a ham and cheese sandwich, and Colby ate with one hand while David worked gently on the other, switching hands halfway through the sandwich. By the time both the food and doctoring were done, Colby could barely keep his eyes open. David forced a glass of water on Colby, then sent him to lie down. David started to pick up the plate when Colby stopped him.

“Leave it, David. You've helped enough. I'll get it later.” Colby headed toward the bedroom. Before he left the kitchen he waved vaguely at the basket on the counter. “You know where the spare key is. Lock up when you leave, and I'll get the key from you Monday. And thanks, man. I mean that.”

Colby made his way blindly to the bedroom and lowered himself gingerly onto the bed, shifting until he lay on his back. He dropped into drug-assisted sleep immediately, and never noticed that David had followed him and pulled the blankets up to cover him.

~!~!~!~!~


When Colby woke up it was dusk. He sat up, and went to rub his face. The first press of his bandaged hands onto the scrape on his cheek reminded him why that wasn't such a good idea. He was still groggy from the pills, but he had to pee, so he forced himself out of bed and into the bathroom. When he came back to the bedroom, he tried to slip on a t-shirt, but gave it up as hopeless when he couldn't raise his arms high enough. It was warm enough to go shirtless, anyway.

Business taken care of, Colby decided he might as well clean the kitchen while the painkillers were still working. When he got to the kitchen the dishes were sitting clean in the drainer. Colby sighed. He wished David hadn't done that. Colby hated being coddled. David used to respect that, but ever since Mason had almost killed him, David had been just a little too solicitous. Well, after David had started talking to him again, that was. It didn't help that practically every week since he'd rejoined the team Colby ended up on the wrong end of a risky move.

As he put away the few dishes and got himself more water, Colby thought about his and David's relationship. It had changed, and not just because of the whole triple-agent thing. Midway through their first year as partners, Colby and David started sleeping together occasionally, just as a buddy-fuck, something to release the pressure. Colby couldn't let it go further because of his undercover work, and David hadn't tried to make it more. Eventually, as Colby got deeper into his secret assignment, even that had stopped. Like Colby had told Don, it was two years since he'd had a real date, and Colby included “casual sex” in his definition of “real date.”

After everything shook out on the Chinese freighter, they didn't start up again. Actually, Colby figured that David would want nothing at all to do with him. Colby chalked it up as another sacrifice for his country and tried not to miss it too much. It was for the best. The situation was tangled enough already, as they tried to find their way back to the partnership they'd had before.

Colby was still logy from the drugs, but he knew that if he went back to bed now, he'd be up in the middle of the night. He'd just find a game on the tube. A couple hours of mindless TV, another sandwich, another dose of pain meds, and he'd go to bed. Tomorrow, he'd feel much better.

Colby wandered into the living room and stopped short when he saw David sitting on the couch, feet on the coffee table, reading his Discover magazine.

“Why are you still here?” Colby truly wondered. David was up to something.

“I made you some ice packs for your shoulders. If you can get them out of the freezer, I'll leave,” David answered calmly.

“I told you, I don't need a babysitter.”

“Prove it, Granger. Get the ice packs.” Was that a smirk?

Colby sighed. He could refuse, but icing his shoulders was the smart thing to do. He should have thought of it himself. He also knew it would be tough to get his arms high enough to get anything out of the freezer, but he wasn't about to let David see that. Grateful that he'd taken two darvocet instead of just the one, Colby reached up with one hand to open the freezer door. That pulled, but wasn't too bad. Then he raised the other hand to get the ice packs that were sitting on the top shelf.

“Ow! Shit!” Colby hissed. Not only did his shoulders pull painfully, but the cold seeped through the bandages to burn his scraped-up palm.

David kept silent as Colby clumsily moved the two ice packs from the freezer to the counter. Good thing, too. If he'd said a single word, Colby would have thrown them at him, shoulders or no shoulders.

“OK, I got them out. You can leave.”

“Right. And how are you going to get them to where they'll do some good?”

“Jesus, David! What's with you?” Colby turned sharply toward the living room, accidentally swiping one hand across the counter and knocking an ice pack to the floor. “Shit!”

David came into the kitchen and picked up the ice pack. He grabbed the other one and urged Colby toward the living room and its comfortable chairs with his free hand.

“C'mon, tough guy. Do things the easy way for once.”

“I already said I don't-”

“-need a babysitter. Yeah, I heard you. But even you have to admit that some things are easier with a little help. So just shut up and take the help, man.” David guided Colby to the couch and pushed him down. He dropped the ice packs onto the coffee table, got a towel from the bathroom, and hung it over Colby's bare shoulders to protect them from the ice. Colby shivered when David smoothed the towel ends over his pecs. He told himself it was because David's hand was cold.

When David put the ice onto Colby's shoulders, he flinched and as the cold seeped through the towel Colby shivered in earnest. After about a minute, blessed numbness replaced the pain that even the strong meds hadn't been able to erase. Colby dropped his head onto the back of the couch, closed his eyes and sighed. He was cold, being shirtless and all, but it didn't hurt, and that was all that mattered right now.

The painkillers were still in his system. That was the only excuse he had for dozing like that. Colby woke with a start, his eyes flying open to catch David staring at him from behind his magazine, his eyes not on Colby's face, but on his bare chest. Colby was suddenly very aware that he was half naked in front of a man he'd slept with more than once. What's more, his nipples were standing up in tight points on his smooth chest. Colby shivered again, but this time he knew the cold was not to blame.

Back when they were still doing that sort of thing, David had always liked Colby's chest. He'd liked to stroke it and nip it and pinch his nipples, and Colby had loved every second of the attention David had lavished there.

“Something on your mind, Sinclair?” Colby couldn't help teasing.

“Um...” David was flicked his eyes upward to Colby's face, then away, across the room. Clearly he'd been caught looking where he shouldn't. David cleared his throat. “I should go,” he said, tossing the magazine onto the coffee table and rising.

“You could stay.” Colby cringed inside as the words came out without thought. He didn't believe he'd just said that. Colby'd promised himself he wouldn't try to start things again with David, no matter how much he wanted to. There were a thousand reasons why it had to be David's idea. Colby wasn't an idiot, except maybe he was, because there was nothing subtle about the way he just propositioned his partner. It must be the drugs.

Colby kept his eyes locked on David's, watched his expression, waited for that distant mask David had worn around him for weeks to descend. David looked back at Colby with equal intensity. He frowned at him, like Colby was a puzzle that needed solving, like there was a clue somewhere inside Colby that, revealed, would unlock one of the universe's minor mysteries.

Whatever he was looking for, he must have found it, because instead of the cool mask of indifference, a small, sly smile appeared. David slid a slow glance down and up Colby's body, then back to his face. He pursed his lips slightly, then smirked, and raised an eyebrow. “I could stay, huh?”

There was no way to hide the flush Colby could feel spreading up his face and down his torso. “You could stay,” he repeated.

David understood what this was. Of course he did. None of the previous embarrassment was evident as he moved deliberately across the room.

Colby kept his eyes on David's face as he came closer. It wasn't until David was next to the couch, staring down at him, that Colby realized what he must look like. Head tipped back, neck exposed, bare chest flushed, bandaged hands limp and open at his sides. His sweatpants were tented over an obvious hard-on. He was pretty much offering himself up on a platter. And hell yeah, he wanted David to take him up on it!

Then David inhaled sharply through his nose and flicked his tongue out over his lower lip and it was suddenly too much. Colby tipped his chin level and found himself looking directly at proof that he wasn't the only one on this ride. Overwhelmed, he looked away across the room, down to the floor, over to at the kitchen, anywhere but at his partner. This could fuck things up so badly.

He was hovering between arousal and panic when he felt a big warm hand on his cheek, encouraging him to look up again, right into David's brown eyes.

“No law says we have to do this.”

“No! I mean – I want to.” The prospect of losing the opportunity was worse than the fear that he'd fuck up the newly-knit partnership.

“I was hoping you'd say that.” David murmured as he leaned down and put his lips right on Colby's.

Colby closed his eyes at the first touch. He'd missed this so goddamn much! It hadn't been just the sex when they'd fallen into bed before. It was the closest Colby had ever been to a real relationship. Being David's partner, then indulging the physical attraction? That was getting awfully close to love. That was the real reason Colby had to stop. He could tolerate only so much lying.

In the end it hadn't mattered. Colby's “betrayal” had still turned David against him. Colby didn't let himself think about the feelings back then, but he'd had plenty of opportunity for revelations since. Getting personally acquainted with death clinched it. Colby no longer had time to fool himself. He wanted David. Right now, for this instant, Colby had him, and he was going to take what he could get, because he knew better than most men how foolish it was to trust the future.

David leaned an arm on the couch back and deepened the kiss. When he licked a line along Colby's lips, Colby ceded control, opening his mouth to his partner's exploration. David's agile tongue tangled with Colby's, and Colby couldn't help moaning. It felt so good. Colby felt the cushions shift as David sat down next to him, and he lowered his head, following the kiss, trying to keep their mouths together. He twisted sideways for a better angle, but gasped in pain as his ribs and shoulders twinged in protest. David pulled away with a concerned, “Hey.”

Colby reached out a bandaged hand to pull David back in. “Don't...,” he protested.

“OK, OK, man. Just – ” David poked gently at Colby's shoulder until he straightened, then tossed the warming ice packs aside. “We're going to have to get creative, because I don't think either of us wants to explain to Don how come you're coming back to work more injured than when you left.”

Colby nodded. “Creative it is.”

“Creative means I do the work.” David put a hand on Colby's chest and stroked a thumb over one nipple.

Colby shuddered at the sensation. It was a completely unfair tactic. David knew how sensitive he was, how he'd agree to pretty much anything when his nipples were being played with. “You...you do the work.”

David rewarded him with a deep kiss that left Colby breathless. By the time he was able to focus David's lips and hands were gone, but he was kneeling in front of Colby, which was a whole different kind of thrill. David reached up and grabbed the waistband of his sweats. Colby sucked in a breath when David's fingers brushed his sides.

David started to pull away. “Did I hurt – “

“God, no!”

“OK, then.” David was smirking. He knew it didn't hurt. He knew it was because Colby was turned on. He was fucking teasing!

“You bastard!” Colby groaned.

“Just making sure, Granger,” David said, going back to work on Colby's sweatpants. He eased them down over Colby's straining erection and past his hips, tugging to get them out from under him. They crumpled loosely to the floor, and David slipped one of Colby's feet out so there was nothing stopping him from pushing Colby's knees as wide as he wanted.

He knelt in the space he'd made between Colby's legs, then looked up from under his lashes, and paused. Christ, was he waiting for permission? Like Colby was going to say no. It had been a long, long time since he'd had this, and he just hoped he wouldn't explode the minute David took him in.

“David...” Colby choked out. “Please.”

It must have been the right thing to say, because David bent his head and swallowed Colby down.

“Ahhh!” Colby's hips came off the couch, and David pushed him firmly back down. It was so hot and wet. It had been ages since he'd felt anything this wonderful. He had to touch back. Colby reached out and stroked David's scalp with his unbandaged fingertips. The skin was warm and soft, and just a little prickly.

David moved his mouth up and down, working his tongue along the vein and under the sensitive head, and going deep enough that Colby could feel David swallow around him.

Colby kept petting David's head, stroking behind his ears, along the back of his neck, anything that kept his hands on his partner. He stroked along David's jaw to where his mouth was wrapped around Colby. He could feel David hollow his cheeks and release as he sucked. It made Colby shudder all over.

“David. Christ. That feels so good!”

David hummed in response, and it reverberated deliciously up and down Colby's spine. The spark that sizzled through Colby's body was all it took to put him right at the edge.

“I'm gonna...” He warned.

David just sucked harder.

“Ahh. Da...!” That was all Colby could get out before he exploded, coming harder than he had in years.

David gentled him through the aftershocks, leaving him blissed out and barely aware of what was going on. By the time he was noticing his surroundings again, David had slipped his sweatpants back over his bare feet and eased them up his legs. “Lift up.” he said quietly, and Colby found himself obeying. Before he knew it, he was tucked away and covered up, as dressed as he had been when he'd gotten out of bed an hour ago.

The combination of the drugs and the best orgasm in memory turned Colby into a pile of mush on the couch. He should reciprocate. David deserved it. Colby wanted to. He really really wanted to get his hands on David, but Colby couldn't use his hands. He couldn't get on his knees for David. He couldn't turn over. He groaned internally at his own stupidity. What kind of idiot issues an invitation to sex when they can't put out?

David stood up, and there was his bulging crotch, right in front of Colby's face. He could practically smell David inside his khakis, and he couldn't do a damn thing about it. “David...,” he began, but his partner cut him off.

“I'm a big boy, Granger. I can handle delayed gratification.”

Did David mean he'd be willing to do this again, when Colby was feeling better? Or just that he'd take care of himself when he got home? Colby wasn't sure he wanted to know. It didn't matter, because before he got a chance to ask, David started talking again.

“I'll put this evening's pills on the counter. You be sure and take them. Both. And eat something.”

“Again with the babysitting?” Colby grumped. David was going now, and Colby didn't have any reasonable way to ask him to stay.

David put his hands on the back of the couch on either side of Colby's head and leaned down to whisper in his ear, “I have pretty good proof that you like it when I take care of you.”

Damned if David's hot breath on his neck didn't make Colby's libido perk up and take notice, even after that spectacular orgasm.

David shifted to where he could kiss Colby, and Colby knew this was goodbye, unless he did something right the hell now. Then he got an idea. While David was leaning forward, precariously balanced on his hands, Colby hooked his uninjured fingers into David's belt loops and yanked. David was fast. He got his knees on the edge of the couch cushions on either side of Colby's legs before he fell on top of Colby.

“What the hell!?”

“Creative, remember?” Colby put a hand on the back of one knee and urged him to place it squarely on the couch. Then the other leg, until David was kneeling up over Colby's lap. Colby barely had to move to get his face right where he wanted it. He mouthed David through his pants, and he could feel David's cock shift and grow like a living thing as he lipped the outside of his fly.

“You don't have to...You're not...”

“I want to. You know I want to. I know you remember how much I like having you in my mouth.” Colby went back to nuzzling.

“Shit, Colby!” David's voice squeaked.

Colby couldn't raise his arms or use his hands, but he could use the dead weight of his arms to keep David in place. Sure, David could get free if he really wanted to, but Colby was pretty sure he could convince David to stay put without too much trouble.

Using his teeth and tongue, Colby popped the button on David's pants. Then he bit down on the zipper pull and dragged it downward. David liked his Dockers loose, and they headed south before the zipper was halfway open.

Now Colby had David down to his gray boxer briefs, his cock outlined clearly behind the cotton knit. The wet spot at the tip was big and growing bigger. The smell made Colby crazy, that mixture of soap and clean sweat and pure maleness made his mouth water. He was desperate to get his mouth on David's skin, but Colby's dexterity had run out. It was time to enlist some audience participation.

Colby nosed at David's sac then ran his open mouth along the line of David's cock and huffed hot breath through the stretchy fabric. He looked up into his partner's eyes. “A little help?”

“Yeah. Yeah, OK,” David said, breathless. He pushed his underwear down as far as his spread legs allowed, tucking the elastic waistband under his scrotum and letting his cock and balls jut out, right into Colby's face.

“Mmmm, yeah.” Everything Colby wanted was right where he could reach it. He started with tonguing David's cock, licking it like candy, down as far as he could reach, around, tracing the veins, running the flat of his tongue firmly along the underside. Then he swirled his tongue around the head, chasing the taste of the fluid leaking from the tip. He flicked his tongue into and out of the slit just to hear David gasp and feel his body shake as he resisted thrusting into Colby's face. Then, knowing his own stamina wasn't the best, Colby took the tip of David's cock into his mouth and sucked, hard.

“Ngh!” David shifted and he caught his weight on his hands as his hips snapped forward, driving into Colby's mouth. He stopped himself before he got too deep, but he didn't pull back.

Colby glanced up to see David's eyes fixed hot on where he disappeared into Colby's mouth. He could feel the tension in David's body, strung tight, wanting to fuck Colby's mouth, but not daring to move. Thing was, Colby wanted him to fuck his mouth. He loved having David's cock inside him, the heaviness on his tongue, the stretch of his lips. He wanted as much of it as possible, but in his current state he couldn't do it by himself.

Colby didn't want to let go of David, and he sure as hell didn't want a conversation about it, so he'd have to find a way to signal what he wanted without words. Sandwiched between the couch back and David's body, Colby couldn't move much. He rocked his head forward slightly, sucking rhythmically in time to his motions. Then he brought a hand to David's hip and tapped to the same beat. In, suck, tap. In, suck, tap.

The third time, David moved with the tap. Cautiously, but he got the picture. Colby stopped tapping and bobbing, but kept up the rhythmic sucking. Soon David was being less careful, getting into it. Colby's hand was still on David's hip, and he could feel his glutes flex with each thrust. Yes! This was what Colby wanted. He moaned as David's cock sank into him, getting an answering moan when David felt the vibrations.

Colby closed his eyes in order to better enjoy the feel of David in his mouth. He pulled again at David's hip, encouraging him to go deeper.

“Jesus, Colby! So damn good,” David said thickly. There was more than simple lust there. Emotion ran beneath the words, like maybe David had been waiting for this, hoping for this, just like Colby.

Colby silently agreed. He reveled in the sensations of David along his tongue, slipping in and out over his lips, knocking against back of his throat as David forgot to be careful. He wanted to make this good for David, wanted to bring him to the brink and push him over. He knew how, too.

The next time David pushed in, Colby swallowed around him.

David's inarticulate whine in response was everything Colby could hope for. He swallowed again with the next thrust, and the next. Once more, and David was gone. Colby kept swallowing as David pulsed down his throat, staring fascinated upward as David surrendered to the pleasure of his climax. Colby thought he'd never see that again. How could he have forgotten how beautiful David was when he came?

Colby released David's spent cock reluctantly. He came this close to licking David's fingers as he tucked himself away and refastened his trousers. Instead of climbing off right away, David surprised Colby with a luxurious kiss. It thrilled Colby when he realized he was tasting both of them in the kiss. Too bad his body wasn't up to another round.

David swung his leg over Colby's lap and settled beside him on the couch. Colby rolled his head on the couch back so that he could see David, and found himself looking into his partner's smiling eyes.

“Feeling better?” David asked with a little smirk and a raised brow.

Colby snorted a small laugh. “You know it, man.” Colby felt the goofy smile from before settle back onto his face.

They sat there, smiling at each other, mirror images in their sex-and-drug-induced sprawl. The silence grew between them, and slowly the smiles faded. They kept watching each other's faces. Colby was looking for something to tell him he hadn't screwed everything up, and beyond that, maybe what they just did had brought them closer together. He had no idea what David was looking for, but from the way his eyes searched Colby's face, it had to be something important.

Still the silence stretched until it prickled uncomfortably and Colby had to break it.

“So...” He cleared his throat. “You going to hang around all evening?”

“Am I?” The teasing tone again. David had to know Colby wanted him to stay.

“If you are, do you mind calling out for Thai? I don't think I can hold the phone.”

David smirked. “I can do that.”

“Maybe before you go, you can get a couple more pills out for me?”

“I can do that too, if you don't mind the babysitting.”

Colby wasn't going to dignify that with a response. “And put my morning dose on the counter?”

“I can get that out in the morning instead, if you want.”

That was an offer to stay the night. Was it more caretaking, or did he really want to stay? Colby didn't know how to answer. He wanted David to stay, but only if it was for both of them, not just from some overblown sense of responsibility and residual guilt. With his head still muddled from the darvocet, Colby couldn't find the right response quickly enough.

“Or I can just leave it on the counter.” David's voice went flat.

“No.” God no! Colby wanted to shout it, to grab David's arm, to make him see how much Colby wanted him to stay. He barely managed to keep a lid on it and said, “Morning is fine. Really.”

“If you're sure.” David was reluctant to take him at his word, and Colby couldn't blame him.

“I'm sure.” David had exposed himself with the offer. Now Colby had to do the same. “Please.”

There was a long pause as David searched Colby's face again. When his shoulders relaxed, Colby knew they were good. “OK, then.” The lightness was back in David's voice.

“OK.”

David pushed himself off the couch and headed into the kitchen. Colby could hear him digging in the drawer for the takeout menus.

Colby sank back with a silent sigh and let the last of his tension float away on the soft buzz of endorphins and painkillers. “OK.” He repeated, then closed his eyes and smiled.