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16 April 2010 @ 11:59 pm
Numb3rs Fic: Under Ceaseless Attack  
Posted to numb3rs_fic

Title: Under Ceaseless Attack
Pairing/Characters: Colby, Don, Ian, David
Rating: PG13
Spoilers: Sniper Zero, Judgment Call, The Mole
Summary: Colby surrenders his badge and gun without hesitation
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ

Colby laid his badge and gun on Don's desk, almost with a hint of reverence.

"I wish this wasn't necessary," Don said solemnly.

"It is though," Colby said, schooling his features.

He turned and walked out of the room, walked past his teammates and headed for the exit. He bypassed the elevators; the emotion already swamping him by the time his foot hit the first stair.


The barstools on either side of him were empty and Colby was content with that. He hadn't come here - hadn't taken a cab here, he corrected himself - to socialize. He'd come to drink. One night off, he'd decided. One alcohol numbed respite. Then he'd get back to what he needed to do.

And then one of the stools wasn't empty.


Colby swirled the amber liquid in his glass. Screw beer. He'd gone straight to whiskey.


After a long silence in which Ian waved the bartender away, he finally spoke.

"I heard."

Colby's shoulders moved slightly in the hint of a shrug.


More silence, but at least it was oddly companionable. Ian wasn't the kind of man who needed constant conversation - or any really - to feel comfortable in his own skin.

"I took time off after the Casales case."

The admission was enough to make Colby blink in surprise. The idea that any case could get under Ian's skin enough that he had to take time off from work? That alone was proof Ian was showing a side of himself he didn't let anyone else see.

"This Halpern case," Colby admitted finally. "The son."

Ian just nodded in comprehension, letting more time pass as Colby slowly finished off his drink.

"Come on," Ian said, rising, his tone of voice enough to get Colby to follow when a hand pulling him wouldn't have affected him at all. "I'm taking you home."


"Insomnia's a bitch." Ian put a fresh hot cup of coffee down in front of Colby then sat on the other side of the breakfast bar with his own cup. "My take on it's always been if you can't sleep, trying to force it is just going to make it harder."

"Thus coffee?" Colby muttered, eyeing his cup of black java.

"That's more to combat the whiskey," Ian admitted, glancing at his watch. "I figure we've got a few hours before you'll need my patented hangover remedy."

"So, is this the part where you tell me what bothered you about the Casales case and try to get me to open up about Halpern's son?"

"I'm a sniper, not a shrink," Ian huffed. "I don't have any answers other than to say what works for me is to get back out there as soon as I can and start racking up some more points for the good guys." He took a sip of his own coffee, near wincing at the hot strong brew. "My idea of therapy is putting sons of bitches behind bars."

"Or in a coffin," Colby pointed out.

"That's not therapy," Ian countered, his gaze never leaving the depths of his coffee cup. "But it's at least a measure of justice."

"Not for you," Colby said quietly.

"No," Ian agreed. "Not for me." He gestured to Colby's coffee cup. "Drink up. We've got hours to kill and a big pot of coffee to empty before I have to leave for my morning flight to DC."


Whatever Ian had put in the hangover remedy he made when he left at six in the morning had to have helped because Colby's head wasn't throbbing despite being up all night drinking coffee with the sniper. Normally a knock on the door would feel like a pounding in his skull, but as it was he just dragged his exhausted and drained body to the door to open it.

The knocking abated as he opened the door; the hand belonged to David, who looked both relieved and annoyed.

"David," he started after a long exhalation. "I know I should have told you..."

"No time like the present," David said, pushing past him to plop down on the couch, making it clear he wasn't going anywhere soon. "I figure Don gave me the official version. I'm here for the real truth about why you up and decided to take time off from work without bothering to mention anything to your partner." His emphasis on the final word wasn't out of anger, but the emphasis was there nevertheless.

Colby ran a hand through was was probably fairly mussed hair by now and sat down on the couch as well, hands flailing in awkward concert with his uncertain voice.

"I don't know what to say. I felt like I wasn't able to focus in the field and I don't want anyone to be at risk if I'm distracted."

"That's the party line," David scoffed. "I want to know what's going on in here..." He pointed to Colby's temple. "...in your head." After a long silent pause, David lowered his voice, softening his tone. "Just tell me, man. I know whatever it is it's tearing you up and I can't let you do that to yourself."

"It's nothing," Colby lied.

"Colby..." David leaned closer. "I know you can't talk to Don. I know you won't talk to your family. But you have to talk to someone. You can trust me! You know that!"

Colby let his head hang down and as he did he felt David's hand warm on his shoulder. The strength he felt there, the support implied by the simple touch, bolstered him and Colby finally spoke.

"I can't sleep." His hands found each other and began to wring, his eyes fixed on the tense gesture, avoiding David's. "Whenever I do... I dream I'm back in that burning Humvee again. Only this time there's no Dwayne to pull me out." Colby felt more than saw the shudder go through David beside him. "After Halpern's son got burned in his car? I keep seeing it, feeling the heat, the stink of it in my throat gagging me..." Helpless to stop it, his voice cracked. "And I can't make it stop. I can't sleep, I can't stop thinking about it..."

As his voice failed him, his partner didn't. David gathered him up in his arms, holding Colby close to his chest as what had built up during his time with Ian finally broke free - violent shaking and choking gasps as the memory he'd tried so hard to keep at bay finally spooled out in his mind, bringing with it years of repressed anguish.

It felt so foreign, after so many years, to be so out of control. But like an unceasing tide it came rolling in unabated and Colby surrendered to it, expecting to drown.

After a long while his body felt spent, the wrenching grief more grueling than crossing the desert. He felt David tug on him and urge him to stand.

"You need to rest." David's voice was half concern half command and everything Colby needed at that moment. He could obey; he was good at that.

David helped ease him between the sheets and the simple shift of getting into bed was enough to send a fresh jolt of apprehension through Colby.

"I don't want to sleep," he mumbled, only half there.

"When did you last sleep?" David asked, huffing. "Not last night I'm guessing."

"Or the night before," Colby admitted. "And before that, not very well. I keep waking up in a sweat convinced I'm in that burning Humvee and that no one is coming to save me."

David pulled up the covers over Colby and came around to the other side of the bed, kicking off his shoes and settling himself on top of the bed, pillows as his backrest as he reclined against the headboard.

"Sleep," he urged. "And if you have that dream again..."

"Dwayne won't be there to pull me out," Colby intoned. He already knew this part.

"Maybe not," David agreed, gazing down at him with compassion and understanding. "But I'll be there. I'll come pull you out."

Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on April 17th, 2010 08:38 am (UTC)
This was written for swingandswirl's prompt at t_vo0810's Numb3rs comment fic comm n3rs_commentfic. I'm pasting it here verbatim below.

Colby/David or Colby/Ian, flashback

A case gives Colby severe flashbacks to Afghanistan and his partner has to talk him down from them

I only meant to write a little comment fic for that prompt, but it kind of grew. It ended up halfway decent so I figured I'd publish it for real. The only problem is the final edition ended up with Colby and Ian and Colby and David but gen not slash. I suppose it reads at least pre-slash with slash goggles on, so I hope Tam gives me a bye on this one. Hehehe

I rather liked the idea that someone dying burning in a car (slower than in Democracy, though that would have been a triggery episode for Colby as well, given how close he was to the blast) leaving Colby helpless as flashbacks assailed him so badly he felt he had to take leave from the Bureau until he was back in control again. So in case it wasn't clear, Colby turning in his badge and gun at the start was his idea, not Don's. And neither Halpern nor Casales refers to canon cases. I just plucked the names out of the ether.

The title and some of the inspiration is from the most excellent Faithless song Insomnia. (Give the song a listen!) Here's some excerpts from the lyrics to entice people...

But there's no release, no peace
I toss and turn without cease
Like a curse, open my eyes and rise like yeast
At least a couple of weeks
Since I last slept, kept takin' sleepers
But now I keep myself pepped

So when it's back this insomniac take an original tack
Keep the beast in my nature under ceaseless attack
I gets no sleep
I can't get no sleep

Very special thanks to betas melissima and t_vo0810 for their assistance with this fic.


Emma DeMarais
(Deleted comment)
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on April 21st, 2010 07:20 am (UTC)
Thank you, as always.
SamuelJames: Numb3rs-Colby Grangersamueljames on April 17th, 2010 10:14 am (UTC)
Aww, beautiful. I love David being there for him.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on April 21st, 2010 07:20 am (UTC)
Thank you! I knew the prompt was for slash, but this is what felt right, you know?
ladygray99ladygray99 on April 17th, 2010 12:24 pm (UTC)
Slash goggles firmly in place but this works fine without them. (Still not on a real computer )
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on April 21st, 2010 07:21 am (UTC)
Yeah, I was hoping it worked both ways since I hated disappointing Tam by writing it gen when she asked for slash.
Candi: Colby and Davidmustangcandi on April 17th, 2010 12:36 pm (UTC)
I think this plays perfectly as a gen fic. I actually think the male bonding of it as a gen fic is sexier than it would have been as slash. I especially loved David being comfortable enough with Colby to be in the bed, to lay on top the blanket next to Colby, to tell him he'd be there to pull him out of the fire. That was truly beautiful and I wish there were more fic like this. While David/Colby slash is my favorite, David, Colby being friends and partners just melts my heart. I love male friendships that are comfortable enough to be this way.

Thanks for writing this! :)
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on April 21st, 2010 07:24 am (UTC)
Thank you for reading this!

I think you summed up one of the things I like most about these two: the comfortable nature of their relationship despite them both being male. And I'm not talking comfortable like Colby doesn't feel like he has to ask first before getting a beer out of David's refrigerator. ;-) One reason we love the show so much is the bond between men that's so clear: between David and Colby and between Don and his brother Charlie. So gen or slash, I figured it would have the bonding we wanted in it and that alone would be a happy making thing. :-)
Tamanna: Colby smileswingandswirl on April 17th, 2010 02:18 pm (UTC)
Funnily, I'm in agreement with Candi about this one- this fic works beautifully as gen, and David's ease over here is marvelous. And Ian is love too- I especially loved his line about being a sniper, not a shrink- that really felt like something he would say in canon.

Again, this is an absolutely lovely piece of work, and thank you so much for writing it. *hugs and offers roses*
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on April 21st, 2010 07:29 am (UTC)
/hugs you back/ I'm just glad you're not disappointed that I wrote gen for your slash prompt. I did fit in both Ian and David though, so I figured I'd get a few brownie points for that extra effort. /grins/ I added that sniper/shrink bit with Ian very late in the game, but I liked that he wasn't trying to be some sort of armchair psychologist just because he was the senior more experienced agent.

You prompt so well, my dear! Now I need to get on your prize prompts! /tries to bribe muse/
Tamanna: Colby smileswingandswirl on April 21st, 2010 10:28 am (UTC)
See, how could I be disappointed with such a gorgeous fic? Especially when it features my three favourite men? Plus, I'm not going to quibble at getting flashback fic when it's like pulling teeth to get my muse to finish her Colby/Andy flashback drabble series. *g* And yeah, experience doesn't always mean you know what to say. *pets boys*

Thanks! And yay prize fics! *adds cigars in the Oval Officechocolate chip cookies and wedding cake to bribing effort*
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on April 21st, 2010 08:37 pm (UTC)
ROFL Actually Ian as Groomzilla is coming up first I think. He's *not* a patient man when it's his wedding day. /snickers/

/♥s you/
(Deleted comment)
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on April 21st, 2010 07:30 am (UTC)
Hey, practice makes... Well, maybe not perfect, but better. Go back and look at how bad my first drabble was in 2005. I've learned a lot in the last 600 fic. /grins/
lilacs_roseslilacs_roses on April 19th, 2010 06:42 pm (UTC)
1) This was just so... poignant... Very well done, Em.

2) Hey! You stole my prompt, Swings!!! /laugh. I have something similar over at Spikedluv's Kink Meme.

Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on April 21st, 2010 07:32 am (UTC)
1) Thanks!

2) It's not the first time I've seen the prompt so I'm sure it was probably at least at Rounds of Kink in the years before you put it up at Kink Meme. I mean, who doesn't love a Colby soldier boy story?
Tamanna: Colby smileswingandswirl on April 21st, 2010 10:30 am (UTC)
LOL! Sorry, LR! FWIW, Colby breaks so prettily it's no wonder so many of us want to see him shatter. and then have Fedcake of choice pick up the pieces.

*runs to look at your prompt*