Word Count: 1,208
Spoilers: A slight one for "Rampage."
Notes: Thanks to iuliamentis for cheerleading and lightning!beta services. This one is, obviously, for you.
"Thugs" is a song by The Tragically Hip, which begins:
Everyone's got their breaking point,
With me it's spiders,
With you it's me.
Colby clutched the doorframe, eyes wide, heart pounding, with a word on the tip of his tongue. It was an important word. He'd sworn up and down he could remember the word under stress, the word and what it meant. That was the only way he'd convinced the army doc not to give him a career-ending psych evaluation, that it was just a phobia and not a manifestation of anything worse.
Appropriate. That was the word. Appropriate. Appropriate response. That probably ruled out anything that would set off the smoke detector, or wake the neighbors, or get his gun confiscated. Again.
He was going to need backup.
Colby fell back all the way to the bed, dropped into a crouch beside it and reached out, all without taking his eyes off the doorway. David didn't wake at his first touch, just mumbled something and burrowed into his pillow. Civilian, Colby thought, and it was supposed to be a warm thought, with a laugh behind it. The fact that it was only cold and scared now made Colby realize exactly how far gone he was.
Appropriate, he repeated to himself. Appropriate. "David." This time, David reached out, his hand clapping down heavily on Colby's bare shoulder.
"Still here," David said on a yawn.
"Yeah," Colby said, and it was easier to think with David touching him, adrenaline ebbing away. He could say goodbye, go now, but--he thought for a split second about walking out knowing it was there, knowing David would go back to sleep all unknowing, civilian--and no, he couldn't leave at all. "I, uh, I need some help, actually."
David's head came up, a sharp movement, eyes going wide and fingers digging into Colby's skin. He didn't ask, didn't move, just waited until Colby said as steadily as he could, "There's a spider in your shower."
David blinked, and his hand squeezed painfully tight for an instant and then released. "A spider," he repeated, expressionless.
"Yeah," Colby said. "And it really, really needs to be dead."
David laughed, a quick bark of sound cut off just as quickly, when Colby didn't laugh with him (though the sound made something cold and hard in his chest release a little; this was exactly the backup he'd needed). David stared at him for another second, his fingers shifting, making his grip on Colby's shoulder almost a caress. "Are you seriously telling me you're scared of spiders?"
Colby shut his eyes. "Not scared," he said firmly. "Phobic. It's different."
"Uh-huh," David said, and Colby opened his eyes again; he could hear the grin in David's voice, but it was even better to see it.
"Afghanistan, man, there were these--" Colby raised his hands nearly a foot apart, and shuddered just at the thought of the things.
"Come on, Granger, we had big-ass spiders in Israel, too. I don't wake you up in the middle of the night over it."
Colby shrugged and tried out a little smile. "How close did you get to having your phobia diagnosed as PTSD?"
David blinked, smile fading just when Colby wanted it to stay. He squeezed Colby's shoulder again and sat up, saying, "Okay, okay."
He headed toward the bathroom and Colby automatically took his six, following a couple of steps behind and wishing for a weapon, or boots, or for that matter his boxers. David hesitated at the doorway--sizing up the situation or maybe just letting his eyes adjust to the light--and Colby stayed a step behind, letting himself be briefly distracted by his partner's bare ass, long strong legs and broad shoulders. They didn't often spare the time to look. Then David was stepping inside, and Colby took a breath and followed, heart hammering.
David grabbed the glass off the sink--it had a heavy base, wouldn't break easily on impact--good weapon, Colby thought. He kept breathing--had to breathe, couldn't have his partner's back if he wasn't breathing. Then David moved, a smooth muscular pounce, slamming the glass down--but the noise was all wrong--hollow--
"You didn't," Colby said. "Tell me you did not just do that."
"I'm not gonna let it get you," David muttered, from where he was crouched half in the tub and half out. The glass made a quiet skreeee sound as he slid it slowly up the inside of the tub.
"Not. Scared." Colby gritted, appropriate appropriate appropriate. "Phobic."
David looked up at him, eyebrows raised, not getting it and Colby could not explain now, just shook his head and backpedaled, out into the bedroom, away away away. He couldn't turn his back, but he could perch on the foot of the bed, trying to catch his breath and trying not to think about--he glanced up at the sound of David's footsteps on the carpet, and he had his hand over the top of the glass. Colby felt sweat break out all over his skin, clammy and cold on panic-heated skin. He gritted his teeth and shut his eyes, listening to David's footsteps going away and not thinking, not thinking about where it was, how it might be touching, might be crawling right on--
"Hey," David said, and he was walking back into the bedroom, reaching out his right hand, and Colby tensed, forcing himself not to actually scramble backward. David saw the flinch, and went still.
"Not that hand," Colby managed, and then, all in a rush, "Scared means rational, so it makes a difference to know there's no actual danger. Phobic shuts your brain off."
David lowered his right hand, nodding slowly, and then came around to sit on Colby's right, brushing the knuckles of his left hand against Colby's knee. "Pizza places," David said quietly, as Colby's breathing settled down again--it was gone, it was gone, and David wouldn't try to touch him. "I don't know why, there were bombs everywhere, buses, bars, out in the street, but they hit a pizza place my first week, and after that I couldn't--I'd get to a doorway and just think I smelled pizza sauce and break out in a cold sweat."
Colby nodded--he could feel sweat running cold down his spine, evaporating off his back--and David leaned over, bumping Colby's shoulder with his own. "But I would go in," he added. "If my partner was going in there, I'd go with him, you know? Couldn't let him go in alone."
Colby nodded again. Out in the desert--where appropriate was a little more flexible--he'd killed enough of the fucking things, keeping them away from his squad. David's left hand wrapped around Colby's right wrist and tugged gently. "Come on," he said, "you were going to take a shower."
Colby looked over at him, and David darted in, dropping a quick kiss on his lips. "You'll probably need some help," Colby whispered, "decontaminating that hand."
"Oh, yeah," David muttered back. "I'm gonna want it good and clean." He stood up, dropping Colby's wrist, and turned away, leaving him to follow if he would. Colby was barely a step behind, watching his back all the way.