Disclaimer: Same ole, same ole. Don't own Numb3rs or the characters. Sammy and Jenny are mine. Enjoy.

Chapter Twenty Eight – 8 Years Old

Doctor Vassen found herself surrounded by a team of eager FBI agents as well as Alan and Charlie Eppes when she entered the ICU one morning a few days later.

"How is he doc?"

"I haven't seen him yet, give me a chance!" She shook her head and entered Agent Granger's room, she examined him and exited the room to find the same group still waiting. She sighed, now was a good a time as any to fill them in she supposed, but they were blocking the hallway so she led them to the waiting area. She waited for them all to sit down.

"Physically he is healing. The latest x-rays show that his broken bones are knitting back together nicely, our neurologist doesn't believe there has been any permanent damage, though Colby still doesn't remember anything about how he came to be here. He will be on bed rest with his leg for at least another 2 weeks, possibly longer. I have arranged for him to be moved from the ICU later today, he no longer needs 24 hour care."

"Well that's good news." Said Don. "I sense a but though."

"I'm worried about his mental state. I'm a surgeon, but even I can tell that Colby is severely depressed. If this carries on it will affect his physical health as well."

"What can we do?" Asked Megan.

"All you can do is what you're already doing. Spend plenty of time with him, don't leave him on his own for long periods. My guess is that it's the being on bed rest that is getting him down more than anything."

"I have an idea, but I don't know if it would be allowed." Alan spoke up.

"Tell me what it is and I'll see what I can do." Replied Doctor Vassen.

"I happen to know a little girl who is desperate to see him. Maybe she could lift his spirits?"

"I don't see any reason why she can't visit, especially now he is leaving ICU. If you think it will help it's worth trying."

"I'll call her Mom and arrange it for later today." Stated Don.

"If there is nothing else, I have to complete my rounds."

"Thank you Doctor Vassen, for everything."

Colby had been moved to a room on a normal ward, this meant he wasn't continually being checked on, which was a relief. The news that his broken bones were mending was great, the fact that he had to remain in bed for at least 2 more weeks was not. He had become snappy with the nurses, his friends could do nothing right and he knew that none of this was their fault, he just couldn't help it. He was bored, frustrated and hated feeling so helpless. He also knew that he had weeks, if not months, of physical therapy in his future and it was likely to be a painful experience. A therapist had already been by to speak to him and explain that once the frame round his leg was removed they would start therapy on that, depending on how long he remained in traction depended on whether they would start therapy on his other leg and his right arm prior to this. Something to look forward to he thought sourly. There was a gentle knock on his door, the team were due to drop by, but he really wasn't in the mood for visitors, he sighed and called out. "Come in."

The door opened a crack and a little face appeared in the gap, a big smile splitting across it. Jenny entered the room and allowed the door to close behind her, she sidled up to the bed. Her Mom had told her she had to be careful not to get too excited in case she hurt the injured man.

"Hey Colby." She said softly.

"Hello Jenny." He replied. He knew he should be pleased to see her, but he was still tired and he lacked patience.

"You OK?"

"Yeah, I'm good." He lied. "How are you? How's school?" He tried to make an effort.

"I'm good, school is good. I'm missing you though, when are you getting out? Will you come over and play with me when you're better? We could go and see my horse."

Colby was feeling overwhelmed by the incessant chatter of the 8 year old, to his shame he suddenly lost it.

"Shut up! Just be quiet for one minute!"

The little girl's mouth dropped open at the tone in Colby's voice, her bottom lip started to quiver and she turned on her heel and ran out of the room in tears. Colby rested his head back on his pillow thoroughly ashamed of his lack of control, before he could think of how to sort it out the door flew open and an extremely wrathful Sammy stormed in.

"What the hell did you say to her? You managed to reduce an 8 year old to tears, are you proud of yourself? She worships you and you shout at her. We have all tried to be patient and understanding, we know this must be hard on you, but you can't keep treating people like shit, especially not my daughter. I have one piece of advice for you before I go… get over yourself!" As quickly as she had arrived she left, leaving Colby to stare at the now closed door.

"Crap." He murmured to himself, she was right, how could he do that to Jenny. At that moment he hated himself more than ever. There was another knock at the door, this time his response was different. "Not now!" He needed some time, he didn't need anyone else telling him what a bad person he was.

The door opened and a nurse bustled in, totally ignoring him. "Did you not hear me say not now?" He asked her.

"I heard, but I have a job to do and I am not going to get into trouble just because you're cranky."

"I just reduced an 8 year old to tears."

"I heard. The hall is buzzing with it. Not my business. You need to get some rest." She straightened the covers over him and left.

Colby had no more visitors that day, he couldn't really blame people for keeping their distance, they had been trying to help, he didn't know how to get over this funk he found himself in.

Colby was laying staring at the ceiling, despite his enforced bed rest he was tired, but he hadn't managed to get any sleep the previous night, he felt too guilty about the way he had spoken to Jenny. The doctor had told him that the tiredness would pass, but his body was using lots of energy to heal at the moment. He didn't think he would be sleeping again any time soon, every time he closed his eyes he saw Jenny's face, bottom lip quivering, amongst other not so nice vivid images.

There was a knock on the door and it opened to reveal a nurse carrying a tray. "Morning Colby. Breakfast time." She came into the room and sat him up, pulling the table in front of him and laying the tray on it. She opened the curtains and turned back to him. She carried out the usual checks of his temperature and blood pressure then left.

He stared at the sky out of the window, ignoring his breakfast, he really wasn't hungry. At some point someone came in and cleared the untouched breakfast tray away but said nothing. The same routine carried on through out the day, he touched nothing of his lunch or dinner either. The nurses agreed to leave it for now, but if the man didn't eat his breakfast the next morning they would speak to the doctor.

The following morning when his breakfast remained untouched Doctor Vassen was contacted and she paid him a visit.

"What's going on Colby, why aren't you eating?"

"Not hungry."

"I'm told you're not sleeping either, we can give you something to help with that."

"I can't sleep but I don't want to take any more medication."

"I heard about what happened with Jenny Knowles, but something tells me that there is more to this than shouting at a little girl."

Colby sighed but said nothing, he hadn't told anyone about the nightmares or the fact that his memory was returning, it's not something he wanted to share.

"You may not want to talk to me, but you need to talk to someone. If you don't eat something today then I'll have you put back on a drip, you can't afford not to eat if you want to get your strength back." The doctor waited for a response, when she got none she sighed and left the room to go and call for back up.

"Eppes."

"Doctor Vassen here, you need to get someone down to the hospital right now."

"What's happened?"

"He's stopped eating. The nurses tell me he didn't eat anything at all yesterday and is barely drinking. I understand he had no visitors yesterday either."

"After what happened with Jenny we thought it might be wise to give him some space. Time to think."

"That is exactly what he doesn't need, even if he thinks he does, get someone over here right now!" With that she hung up, exasperated.

Don called his father, the team were tied up at the office and he knew if anyone could get through to Colby it was Alan Eppes, everyone else had tried and failed, time to bring in the big guns.

The door opened to admit the form of Alan Eppes. He didn't look happy and Colby could feel a lecture coming.

"Colby Granger what are you playing at? I'm told you're not eating, I don't know how you think that will solve your problems." He looked at the young man's pale face. "Talk to me son." He added softly, pulling a chair up to the bed and resting a hand on his.

"I can't. I don't want to burden anyone else."
"Burden? Don't be daft. Everyone just wants to help. What's bothering you? There has to be something for you to have snapped at Jenny, I've seen the way you are with her."

"I feel so bad about that. She was chattering and I've not been sleeping, the noise was grating, but I shouldn't have snapped at her."

"No you shouldn't have, but if you talk about the underlying issue then perhaps we can repair your relationship with her."

Colby decided that he needed to talk and Alan was a good listener, in a soft voice, barely audible he told the man what was bothering him. "Every time I close my eyes I am back in that box, buried alive, water creeping up."

"Oh Colby, why didn't you tell someone that your memory was returning?"

"If I didn't talk about it, then it wasn't happening."

"What kind of foolish thinking is that?"

"The kind that has landed me in trouble with Sammy, Jenny and all my friends!" Responded Colby.

"You need to talk about it, once you do it's out there and not in your head. I'm here, I'm listening."

Colby off loaded on Alan Eppes, telling him of the paralysing fear he felt when he woke to a dark room, all alone. He explained about the feel of the water level rising, the cold creeping through his body, the realisation that he may not get out of the box alive. The frustration he felt by not being able to get out of the bed which continued to make him feel like a prisoner, this time of his body not the box. Alan simply sat and listened to the deluge of words that came from the young man. When he finished Colby's eyes met Alan's. "I feel so stupid."

"You are not stupid Colby, you are simply facing some difficult facts about how you landed up in this bed. Don't be ashamed of feeling something you have no control over."

Colby rubbed his left hand over his face, he was exhausted, not just from lack of sleep but from opening up to Alan.

"You need to eat something." He left the room and came back with a sandwich, he sat by and watched as Colby ate it. "Good, now you need to listen to your body and get some sleep."

"Will you stay, please?"

"I promise I will be here when you wake up." Alan assured the man.

"Thank you." Colby closed his eyes and allowed the tiredness to wash over him.

Alan settled back in his chair, intending to keep his promise, only getting up to go to the bathroom and even then he made sure a nurse was in the room. For 7 hours he sat by Colby. Watching over him he realised just how much Colby needed someone to be near whilst he slept. He was woken by nightmares every couple of hours, each time Alan stood and rested a hand on his head, bringing him out of it, looking in the fear filled eyes, reassuring him that he was safe, slowly Colby would relax and drift back into sleep again.

Don watched one such episode when he stopped by after work, he had no idea that his agent and friend had been so badly affected by his time in the box, how could he have, he didn't even know that Colby had remembered until his Dad had called him and told him earlier. He shook his head in sorrow at how much Xavier had put him through, not to mention Jasmine, who had still not been located. His father spotted him as he turned away from the bed and motioned for his son to join him in the hallway, he then stood in the doorway where he could still see Colby's sleeping form.

"How's he doing?"

"I managed to get him to eat a sandwich. He has been having nightmares every couple of hours."

"I'm going to make sure that he's not alone again, he needs to know that if he falls asleep someone is going to be there if he has a nightmare."

"We need to make sure he talks about it as well, Donnie. He's bottled this up, it was bound to blow up, just a shame it was at Jenny."

"I plan to speak to Sammy about that, now we know what triggered it perhaps we can coax her to bring Jenny back when things settle down."

"I hope so, Colby is feeling bad about it, I am sure it would help if he could apologise at least."

"I'll call her later. Why don't I go get some dinner then I'll come back and take over here?" He asked his Dad, he was aware that Alan had been there all day.

"That would be good son. I promised to stay until he woke up anyway."

"See you later then Dad, I'll call the others and let them know what's going on."

Alan turned back into the room to take his seat by Colby, he was still there when he woke up.

"Hey, how you feeling?"

"A bit better, thanks for staying."
"I promised you I would. Feel up to eating something?"

Colby nodded and Alan went to find a nurse and came back a few minutes later with a plate of food that was trying to look like macaroni cheese.

"I'll bring you something in from home tomorrow."

Alan used the controls for the bed to sit Colby up and he managed to eat a little of what was put before him. They talked for a little while and Alan told him about Don coming in soon and that they were going to ensure that someone was with him at all times, if necessary until the nightmares stopped. Colby had seriously thought he needed to be on his own, having Alan around today had proved him wrong, he was happy to accept the support being offered.