A/N: The previous chapter are the thoughts running through Colby's mind at the beginning of this chapter.
"G" is for Guarded
"What the hell is this, Colby?" Don slammed the blue file folder against the back of the chair where Granger sat.
David looked up too.
Colby's expression quickly morphed from confused to guarded. "My 302." His eyes skittered briefly to David and just as quickly away.
He'd find no help from that quarter. Not since Sinclair drew down on his erstwhile partner outside a beachside safehouse. Then he thought Colby a traitor, a spy for the Chinese. Turned out he was a triple agent.
Either way, he'd betrayed his team, his friends, the man he called brother. How much of what David told him did Colby take to his real boss? Was any of what Colby told him true?
How could he lie to his partner—his best friend—for two years like that? How could David not know?
Never mind the FBI—Granger belonged in Hollywood or on Broadway. Somewhere he could earn his keep with his lies, where his betrayal wouldn't get anyone killed. Somewhere they'd celebrate his deception.
Here it was slowly ripping the team apart.
"I give you another chance, let you back on my team, and this is what you do with it?" Don slapped the folder into Colby's chest, not surrendering it.
David got the impression Don used that file to remind himself that he was in the office where a physical altercation between agents wouldn't be tolerated.
"I don't understand, Don." Colby didn't try to defend himself, didn't move, passively waiting out the worst of Don's tetchiness.
"Don't give me that crap, Granger." Don's voice went up exponentially as Colby's remained calm and even, so now the entire floor was staring as Don dressed down his agent. Someone sniggered.
David couldn't tell who it was. He made no effort to interfere or take Don's attention off Granger. The days of defending his so-called partner were long gone.
"You just admitted it was your report."
Confusion swept over Colby's face again, before that guarded expression came back. Sinclair had seen that look a lot in the last two weeks. This was the first time he'd seen Colby's body guarded too, as he looked up at his boss looming over him. As if he expected Don to strike him.
David expected it too. He didn't know what he'd do if it came to blows.
"What's wrong with it?" Colby ventured.
Don smacked him on the shoulder with it before throwing it on Colby's desk, flicking it open, pages fluttering.
Colby's body stiffened as he turned his attention from Don to the report. God, David wondered, struck despite himself, was Colby really afraid Don would assault him?
Colby started flipping through the pages, faster and faster, shaking his head.
David couldn't quite read Colby's expression as he met their boss's glare. Of course not, since he didn't know who the hell Colby Granger was.
"I didn't do this, Don. This isn't the report I left on your desk." Colby was almost pleading. "C'mon, man, you know me."
Don let out an ugly laugh.
David heard someone behind him laugh quietly, too, clearly enjoying Granger's discomfiture, making David suspect he knew what had happened. He didn't say anything, though. And Don was too focused on Colby to have heard it.
"Oh that's rich, Colby, coming from you," Don snapped. He jabbed a finger at the bottom of a page. "Is that or isn't it your signature?"
Colby looked down, his shoulders slumping fractionally. David suspected he realized what had happened too. When he raised his head, his expression was guarded again. "Yes."
"Then you do this report right and get it back to me ASAP, Colby," Don snarled. His temper had been near the surface for the past couple of weeks, courtesy of Granger. It was only fair the reason was also the target. "I don't care if they decided to award you the Medal of Meritorious Conduct. That's no excuse for this crap." Don thumped the desk with his palm.
"I'll rewrite it right away," Colby said, sounding a little defeated. "I'm sorry, Don."
"You should be."
David noticed Colby didn't say it wouldn't happen again because he obviously knew it could if he wasn't careful.
"Don't you all have jobs to do?" Don barked, and the office erupted into motion and noise, their entertainment ended for now. Sinclair couldn't help but notice two agents laughing and fist bumping each other as they entered the elevator lobby.
He frowned. Once, he wouldn't have left Colby to fight his own battles alone. Not anymore, something else that was courtesy of Granger.
"Hey, David, you wanna grab a bite?" Don said. "There's a new sandwich shop down the street I want to try."
"Yeah, yeah; I've heard good things about them."
"Give me five minutes, then we'll roll."
"David?" Colby said after Don left.
David ignored him, same as he'd been doing for the past two weeks, organizing his desktop.
"C'mon, David," Colby implored. "Is this really how it's going to be?"
David slid some files home, stood up.
Colby was in his personal space when David turned around. For once, Colby's face wasn't guarded, instead showing a blend of hope and entreaty, a touch of resignation and anger. "Can you bring me something back?" His voice was uncharacteristically hesitant.
When David only stared at him—thinking, against his will, that a tentative Colby was wrong, which only pissed him off—Colby held out a few bills.
"C'mon, man. I'm not asking you to spend money on me or go out of your way. I'd just like something to eat." Sinclair pretended not to see the hurt fill Colby's green eyes. "I'm not going to be able to get anything for myself," Colby softly explained. "Please."
"David, let's go," Don said.
Colby stuffed the bills in David's jacket pocket and picked up the file folder.
"You'd better have that finished by the time we get back, Colby. Got it?"
"Yeah, Don. Loud and clear."
"Here, Don," Colby said, handing over the file.
Don took it, leafing through it, while David threw the crumpled bills down on his desk. Sinclair ignored the way Colby's shoulders sagged, how he quickly dropped his eyes.
Wrong, wrong, wrong, David's mind screamed at him. Colby wasn't supposed to look like he was carrying a burden, wasn't ever supposed to look so damn dispirited.
It's because he knows he's guilty, that he did wrong by us, Sinclair rationalized to himself.
Or maybe he's just tired of seeing animosity in everybody's faces, the traitorous thought slid straight into David's heart. Which only pissed him off some more. Because anger was much easier to deal with, much safer than guilt.
"Better," Don conceded, giving Colby nothing else, snapping the file shut.
Colby nodded, made to grab the bills off David's desk.
"Are you stealing?" Don said harshly.
Colby glanced at David before looking at Don. He slowly withdrew his hand, as if he was culpable, avoiding eye contact, while that guarded look stole back over his face and it occurred to David that Colby was afraid he'd be kicked off the team so he put up with how they treated him with little protest, being careful not to antagonize anyone, accepting whatever crap they gave him.
We're entitled, David thought bitterly, after what he did. He deserves it.
"It's my money," Colby said quietly. "I gave it to David to get me some lunch."
Don missed the hurt and grief that swept over Colby's face as he turned to David for confirmation. But Sinclair saw it; saw Granger tilt his head back and let out a shuddering breath. Clearly their distrust was wearing on the junior agent.
That guarded look was back in place, and David was really starting to hate it. It didn't reach his eyes this time, exposing a couple truths that left David a little breathless: Colby didn't know who'd framed him, didn't even know if it wasn't someone on Don's team, and that he expected David to lie.
Well, David wasn't Colby. He reached for that anger, allowing him to speak past the constriction in his throat. "Yeah, man."
They both watched as Colby cautiously took the bills back, as if he expected them to change their minds.
Wrong, echoed in David's head, pinging crazily off all that anger. This is wrong.
"I'm going to lunch," Colby said, not looking at anyone.
The elevator dinged and Megan and Liz exited the lobby, making their way over.
"No," Don said. "You and Megan have interviews for the Wallace case."
Colby swallowed hard, glanced up at Don. "Now?"
"Yeah. Maybe this will teach you to do your reports correctly the first time," Don said unsympathetically.
He smiled at the girls. "You set?"
"Yeah." Megan drew the word out, looking between her male counterparts. Her mouth tightened, probably adding what she caught of their conversation to what she saw before her, because she frowned at David and Don, eyes filled with disappointment.
She quickly rummaged in her desk before hurrying after Granger, who'd already grabbed his stuff and walked away. "Hey, Colby," Megan called.
She tossed him a couple protein bars and a bottle of water when he turned around. "You eat, I drive."
A small, genuine smile graced Colby's face. "Thanks, Megan."
David couldn't remember the last time he'd seen Colby smile.
Even from behind, weariness radiated off Colby as he and Megan boarded the elevator. And no wonder. David knew Granger was the first one in every morning and the last to leave, working hard for a team that he betrayed. That no longer wanted him.
David hoped he wasn't there when Colby inevitably crashed.
He willed the anger back, willed his heart to harden, but all he saw was how guarded Colby had become.
A/N: This is my first multi-chap fic, and I'd like to know what you think; please leave a review!