Title: Just Don't Know (Sequel to Used to be a Victim)
Series/Universe: Not the Only One
Spoilers: Judgment Call, Breaking Point, Trust Metric
Summary: Colby doesn't know how he feels about Charlie anymore
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ
"Oh! And another military strategy falls to the superior logic of math!"
Charlie beamed as Colby shook his head at the chessboard.
"I shouldn't have been that easy to checkmate," he complained, his tone good-natured. "Best of five?"
Charlie got out of his chair and came around the dining room table, pausing to lean over Colby's shoulder, giving him a playful nudge. Colby's heart raced at the unexpected nearness, fighting down a little thrill at Charlie's affectionate touch.
"Col, we're at best of seven already." With a chuckle he headed into the kitchen. "But if you want me to keep beating you, I'd be happy..." Charlie was barely into the kitchen when the loud clang of something falling made Colby bolt from his chair and race into the room.
"Charlie!" A large stockpot and metal colander lay on the floor and Charlie - pale and weak - stood holding himself up by leaning hard against the counter. Colby rushed to him, putting his arms around him enough to hold him up should he fall. "Are you okay? Should I call an ambulance?"
"No, no..." Charlie tried shaking his head, but aborted that effort right off. "I just... I just got a little dizzy, that's all. I'm okay."
Colby eyed him warily. "Are you sure? Maybe you should sit down." Keeping one hand on Charlie he leaned over and grabbed a barstool and pulled it over for him. "Here." He helped Charlie sit down, keeping his arms loosely around him just in case. "That's the third dizzy spell you've had since I moved in," he said, worried.
"Well, not the third," Charlie admitted reluctantly. "Just the third you saw."
"Charlie!" Colby crouched down until his eyes were even with Charlie's, grabbing him by the shoulders to make him look at him. "You need to tell us when stuff like this happens!" Straightening up, he put on his most determined face. "That's it. I'm taking you to the doctor."
"Come on, Col. It's not that bad," Charlie cajoled. "Besides, I've got an appointment tomorrow anyway. There's no need to rush to the ER just for a little dizziness."
"It might be a sign of something more," Colby cautioned. "I just don't want anything to happen to you and I'm not just saying that because Don and your dad will have my hide if anything happens to you on my watch."
Charlie put on his best placating face. "I'm fine. Totally fine. No worries."
Colby pulled up another barstool and sat in front of Charlie. "Then why do you look like you don't even believe what you're saying?" he asked, eyebrow raised.
Charlie let out a long breath and the facade fell. "Okay, so maybe I'm a little worried."
"A little?" Colby prompted, scooting closer.
"A lot?" Charlie amended, looking up at Colby from beneath the curls that hung down over his ducked head. "Like maybe freaking out kind of?"
Colby slid his hands down Charlie's arms until he reached his hands, taking them in his much larger ones. "Talk to me," he said gently. "Tell me what's going on in that genius head of yours."
Charlie squeezed Colby's hands, tightening their connection. "I keep thinking... Imagining that a seizure is waiting to happen all the time, like any second it could hit. Do you have any idea what it's like not to be able to trust your own body?" Colby fought back the flashback that question brought up in him - the freighter, Mason Lancer, the syringes - and kept his focus on Charlie, who just kept talking. "All the things I took for granted: bicycling, driving, hell even just walking around! I can't trust myself to do them anymore!"
"Charlie, it's not like this is a life sentence," Colby assured him. "The doctor thinks you'll recover in time."
"He thinks!" Charlie cried. "A guess!"
"An educated guess based on a whole hell of a lot of years of medical school," Colby offered, trying to sound confident. "You just have to hang in there for now. Be patient. You'll get better, I know you will."
Charlie sat looking forlorn. "I wish I believed that." His voice was small, drained of its normal bravado. "I'm just afraid I'll be stuck this way for the rest of my life."
Colby spontaneously enfolded Charlie in his arms, feeling him sink into the comfort there.
"Don't think that," he said, holding Charlie tightly. "You're going to get through this."
"I can't stop being scared," Charlie murmured into Colby's shirt. "I tried, but I can't."
Colby felt a pang in his chest at the pain in Charlie's voice; what hurt Charlie hurt him too.
He pulled back and took Charlie's face in his hands, their gaze locking instantly. Colby went to open his mouth, to spout some platitude of reassurance, but the open and trusting look on Charlie's face just hit him so hard he was too stunned to speak.
Still holding Charlie's face he unconsciously began to lean in then stopped himself abruptly when it hit him what he was doing. He thought he knew how he felt about Charlie, about their burgeoning friendship, and suddenly his brain was filled with a whole different picture of Charlie. Dropping his hands he could do no more than blink for a few seconds. Suddenly he felt like he didn't know anything for sure anymore.
"Colby?" Charlie looked at him, confused.
"I was going to say..." Colby sat gaping for a few more seconds, eyes unconsciously attracted to the pinkness of Charlie's parted lips. "I just don't know anymore."
"Neither do I," Charlie said mournfully.
Colby shook himself. "No, that's not what I mean. Damn it," he swore. "I'm screwing this all up."
"Was there something you wanted to tell me?" Charlie looked at him so expectantly - his trust so plain on his face - that Colby for a moment almost wanted to confess what was really going through his mind, perhaps in the dim hope they could laugh it off together and move on without any of the awkwardness that had suddenly invaded their domestic bliss.
"Um, just that if you have another dizzy spell tonight I'm taking you to the ER. Otherwise we can wait until the morning when I drive you in for your regular follow up."
Charlie looked at him, head cocked to the side, as if he was a particularly perplexing math problem. "Is there something going on I don't know about?" he asked. "Oh god," he said, suddenly aghast. "You don't want to be here and you're afraid to tell me because I was such a jerk about making you stay here in the first place! I never even asked you! And it's not like you were going to say no in front of your boss..."
Colby cut off Charlie's panicked ramble with a hand over his mouth.
"I am here because I want to be here," he said plainly. "Do not even think otherwise."
He took his hand off Charlie's mouth, but the flood of words had been dammed. Charlie's only acknowledgment was a brief nod, his expression thoughtful while his body language just seemed weary.
"I'm tired," he said quietly. "I think I should go lay down."
Colby helped him stand, his hand at his elbow - guiding and monitoring him. "Do you want me to stay with you?"
Charlie leaned into Colby ever so slightly, turning towards him like a sunflower.
"Yes, I'd like that..."