Disclaimer: Boys not mine. Just enjoy playing in their world. Thanks to the book The Complete Guide to Symptoms, Illness and Surgery by Dr H. Winter Griffith.
Vin was on his way back to Denver on his Harley. The weather was good and there wasn't much traffic about. He'd been to a conference outside Boulder and he was taking the scenic route back home to clear his head. God he hated attending conferences, they were boring and he'd much rather be outside in the open air. He'd spent the majority of his time looking out the window although he did listen to what was being discussed. It was more that his life was worth to go back and have nothing to report to Chris.
He turned a sharp corner in the road and saw a young couple standing by a car at the side of the road. The man stepped forward and flagged Vin down. The hood of the car was up and it was obvious they had broken down.
Vin came to a halt and took off his helmet. His long hair was caught by the breeze and blew over his face obscuring his vision. He pulled it back and looked at the couple standing in front of him, as he sat astride the bike. They were in their twenties and seemed harmless enough. He didn't have the heart to leave them without offering his help. He took his keys out of the bike's ignition and put them in his pocket.
"Having trouble?" he asked as he got off the bike. He threaded his helmet onto the left handlebar before walking toward the couple.
"Yeah. We never thought anyone would come. That's the trouble with driving on the back roads," the young man answered pleasantly.
"The engine just cut out."
"I'll have a look if you like. My jeep's always doing that," Vin offered.
"That'd be great," the woman said gratefully.
Vin walked over to the car and put his head under the hood. He frowned when he saw that some leads had been disconnected deliberately. He was just about to straighten up and ask what was going on when he felt a gun against the back of his neck.
"Put your hands where I can see them and stay where you are," the man instructed.
Vin cursed. How could he have been so gullible? He did as he was told, resting his hands on the engine. The young man patted him down and found the keys to the bike. The man handed the keys to the woman and then took the gun from her. She walked to the bike and put the helmet on and started the machine up. The man leaned close so he was sure Vin could hear him above the noise.
"I want you to walk over to the shoulder of the road and don't try anything."
Vin straightened up slowly and turned to walk where he was told. He made a study of his surroundings as he walked. The woman had moved up the road on the bike to look for any traffic. She signalled that all was clear. The man pushed Vin to the shoulder of the road where there was a steep drop. Vin was pushed quite hard and he teetered on the edge before managing to catch his balance. The man got hold of Vin's arm and pulled him round so they were facing each other.
"Nice bike. We didn't expect to get anything so good. Thanks," he said, looking pleased with himself.
The gun had lowered slightly as he spoke and Vin took advantage. He leapt forward knocking the gun from the man's grasp in the process. Both men fell to the ground where they rolled around punching and gouging to try to get the upper hand. Vin was just beginning to get the best of his opponent when he was hit hard on the back of the head. The woman had seen what was happening and had come back to help her accomplice. She removed the crash helmet and stood over the two fighting men and when the opportunity arose brought the helmet crashing down on Vin's head. Vin had been so preoccupied with the fight he had forgotten she was still there. He fell across his opponent who was still underneath him. The man threw him off and got to his feet dusting his clothes down and tidying his hair. The woman then helped him push Vin's body over the edge where the sharpshooter eventually came to rest against a rock. He landed pretty hard but it didn't bring him back to consciousness. His two attackers turned and split up, one went to the car while the other took the bike and drove off.
+ + + + + + +
Chris was in his office waiting for Vin to return. He looked at his watch and reckoned the sharpshooter should be back within the next hour. They were going out for a drink as Vin had been away for a week and Chris had missed his company.
Two hours later, Chris was still waiting. He drummed his fingers nervously on the desk wondering what to do. It was unlike Vin not to phone if he was going to be late. Chris decided to phone the hotel where Vin had been staying and was concerned to be told that his friend had left hours ago. Where the hell was he? Chris stood up and walked to the window and looked out in the hope of spotting the arrival of the sharpshooter. He'd give him another half an hour before starting to get really worried.
+ + + + + + +
Vin woke up and groaned at the pain in his head. He lay still and waited for the memory of what had happened to come to him, but he couldn't remember all the details. He tested his limbs to make sure he was in one piece and discovered his back hurt slightly where he'd landed hard against the rock. Standing up slowly he leant against the rock while his balance returned. He rubbed his head and winced when he discovered the large lump on the back. He looked up to the road and sighed because it seemed such a long way away. He slowly straightened up and made his way back up the slope, although it took longer than it should have because he couldn't seem to walk in a straight line. Dusk was descending and there was no traffic in sight. He sat down on the shoulder of the road and pulled out his mobile phone. Luckily his attackers hadn't taken it and the device hadn't been broken in the fall. He sat and stared at it trying to remember Chris's number. He rubbed a hand over his face wearily. How could he forget something that he knew so well? Eventually he remembered he had it in the phone's memory. He found it and pressed the button for automatic dialling and waited while it rang.
"Chris?" Vin asked, voice fading. God he felt awful. He turned his head aside and vomited. He wiped his mouth on the back of his hand and put the phone back against his ear, hoping Chris would still be there.
"Vin? Is that you?" Chris said, relieved to hear from his friend.
"Where are you? I expected you back a couple of hours ago."
"Don't know. Bike's gone. Someone hit me." He couldn't seem to form proper sentences. He hoped what he was thinking was actually what was coming out of this mouth and not just a load of gibberish.
Chris's relief turned swiftly to concern. Although Vin was making sense, he sounded dazed and disorientated.
"Are you alright?" he asked worriedly. He didn't get a reply. "Vin, are you there?" he called loudly, getting even more anxious.
"Yeah." Vin straightened up after another bout of sickness. He was beginning to feel increasingly dizzy.
"Can you tell me what happened?" Chris enquired, trying to stay calm and realising he needed to keep Vin talking. The sharpshooter sounded as though he was about to pass out.
"I can't remember."
"Do you know where you are so I can come and get you? Are you still on the road?"
"I'm on the roadside. I think I was nearly home," Vin said vaguely and then paused taking a deep breath against the rising nausea. "I don't know......I can't remember."
"Okay, don't worry Vin. Is there a lot of traffic?" Chris hoped to determine from that simple question whether Vin was on the main road or on the back route. He had only ever known Vin to use the quiet route between Denver and Boulder and Chris hoped he kept to his normal behavior. He would have thought if Vin was on the main road though, someone would have helped him by now.
"Right I'm leaving now. I'll be with you as soon as I can. Stay where you are and don't wander off, okay?" Chris said. "Buck?" Chris called out while keeping the phone to his ear to listen to Vin.
"Yeah?" Buck said as he stepped inside Chris's office. He frowned when he noticed the concern on Chris's face.
"Vin's in trouble. Can you keep him talking? He sounds as if he's going to pass out. He says he was hit. I'm assuming from his condition that it's a head wound, but I can't get much outta him in the way of detail. Keep him talking will ya? I think I know which road he's on so I'll go and look for him."
Buck nodded and patted his friend's shoulder as he took the phone from his hand. Chris turned and left quickly after collecting his keys, taking the elevator down to the parking lot. He got in his car and swore when it didn't start first time. He slammed his hand against the steering wheel in frustration.
"Come on. Don't let me down now." The car must have heard the desperation in his voice because it started the next time he turned the key. He drove out of the parking lot with screeching tires and set off as fast as he could to the road he thought Vin was on.
Back in the office Buck put the phone to his ear. "Vin? It's Buck. Are you still there?"
"Buck? Where's Chris? I was talking to Chris." Vin sounded confused and worried.
"It's alright, buddy. He's coming to get you. How do you feel?"
"Got a headache. Bin sick. Feel rotten."
"Just keep talking to me. Don't go to sleep. You hear me?" Buck could tell why Chris had been so concerned. Vin sounded as if he was miles away and struggling to stay awake.
Buck kept up a steady stream of questions so Vin had to answer him. He hoped Chris found Vin quickly as it was getting harder and harder to get a response from the sharpshooter.
+ + + + + + +
Chris took the quieter route out of town in the direction Vin would have been coming in from. He drove fast, muttering under his breath all the way. He turned onto a road up into the hills and had travelled about five miles when he saw something on the shoulder of the road. He put his foot down and he leaned forward to try to distinguish the shape. The figure materialised into Vin. Chris screeched to a halt next to him and leapt out of the car. He ran round the vehicle and knelt down next to Vin and looked into his eyes. He took the phone from his hand and put it to his own ear.
"Buck? You there?"
"Yeah Chris. Is he okay?" Buck asked. He was mightily relieved Chris had found the sharpshooter.
"He looks concussed to me. I'll get him to the hospital. Thanks for keeping him awake. I'll ring you later with news."
Chris put the phone in his pocket and started checking Vin over gently. He found the large lump on the back on his head. Vin jumped when he touched it.
"Sorry," Chris said apologetically. He didn't find any other injuries so he put out a hand and helped Vin to his feet. Vin swayed suddenly and bent double again as he threw up.
"God Vin. Come on, let's get you seen to." Chris helped him into the front seat of the car after tilting the seat back so Vin was not sitting totally upright. He then got in and turned round to head back to town. He looked across at Vin and saw his eyes were drifting shut.
"Vin," he said sharply. He looked across again as Vin flinched and opened his eyes wider. "Don't fall asleep," Chris instructed. He wondered whether Vin only had concussion or if it was something more serious. He decided to phone ahead to the hospital with the details of Vin's injury and when he arrived a nurse was waiting for him.
Vin was transferred to a trolley and taken inside for examination. Chris had been fighting a losing battle to keep him conscious and Vin had finally succumbed to the blackness. Chris accompanied him to the room where he would be seen. A doctor arrived immediately and asked Chris what he knew, while he started checking Vin over.
"Was he conscious when you found him?" the doctor asked.
"Yes, but I think he must've been knocked out when he was first hit. He phoned me to say he was hurt, but he couldn't seem to remember what had happened. He seemed dazed. My friend kept him talking while I went to find him. He lost consciousness on the way here."
"Was he coherent? How was his balance?" the doctor quizzed.
"He spoke in short sentences, but he didn't seem to be really with it. His balance was off and he's been sick," Chris answered calmly but he didn't like being asked so many questions. It made him think of the worst possible outcome.
"We'll take him for a scan of his head to be on the safe side. It sounds as if he could have a fracture." The doctor went to arrange Vin's move, leaving a very worried man behind him.
Chris sat down next to Vin and put a hand on his arm. He hoped Vin knew he was not alone. He heard footsteps in the corridor outside and he looked up expecting it to be the doctor but it was Buck who hurried into the room and Chris was very glad to see him. He didn't want to deal with this situation on his own.
"How is he?" Buck asked breathlessly.
"They're taking him for a CAT scan. They think he might have a fracture."
"Oh God." Buck sat down while he digested the news. He stood up again after a while and walked outside as he pulled out his mobile. He phoned Josiah and told him where they were. While he was gone Vin was collected and taken for a scan. Chris joined Buck outside and they adjourned to the waiting room for the doctor's return. They didn't have to wait too long.
"How is he?" Chris asked anxiously, standing as soon as the doctor entered.
"It's as I thought. He has a skull fracture but he doesn't need an operation as the bones are still aligned. He should recover fully but we'll know more when he wakes up. We'll just get him settled and I'll come get you."
Chris sighed and looked at Buck, who smiled back encouragingly. Chris started pacing the room, he hated waiting rooms and he didn't know the meaning of the word patience. Buck sat watching his friend prowl about like a caged tiger. The ladies' man knew it was no good trying to get him to sit down. Best to let him release his nervous energy in his own way.
The doctor returned and said, "He's been moved into ICU. Now we just have to wait and see how he is when he wakes up."
"Can we sit with him?" Chris asked.
"Yes, of course. I'll take you up."
Chris and Buck entered Vin's room and sat down beside him to wait. Chris took hold of one of Vin's hands, while watching his friend. Buck disappeared to get some drinks and then took the seat on the other side of the bed. Eventually Vin stirred and moaned. His eyes opened and he looked around him frowning.
"Hey Vin," Chris said. He waited for a response to see if Vin was alright.
Vin turned his head and looked at him. "She hit me," he said slowly.
Vin closed his eyes trying to concentrate. He had a massive headache and he couldn't seem to pull his thoughts together. He opened his eyes again and winced at the bright light.
"Well we gathered that. Who was she?"
"I don't know. I can't remember." Vin sounded worried. Why couldn't he think straight?
Chris patted his arm and said, "Don't panic. It'll come back to you. Get some rest and when you wake up again you'll remember." Vin looked at him and didn't appear to be convinced but he closed his eyes and went back to sleep.
Chris looked across at Buck before getting up and going to find the doctor. Although Vin seemed coherent, Chris was still worried about his memory. He tracked the doctor down and took him to one side.
"Vin woke up and spoke a bit but he seemed to be having trouble remembering what happened. Is that usual?"
"He's bound to be a bit disoriented. Give him time. He knew who you were did he? It wasn't that he didn't know you?"
"I didn't ask him if he knew me. He seemed to know his name though. He answered a couple of questions."
"When he wakes again, come and get me and I'll see how he is."
"Thanks." Chris wandered back to Vin's room.
"What did he say?" Buck asked.
"He said to find him when Vin wakes again. He seemed to think it was normal though."
The room was quiet as the two men sat with their friend, listening to the sound of his breathing. They didn't speak much but occupied themselves as best they could, either reading or sleeping. Vin woke again several hours later and he looked over at Chris who was snoring in his chair.
Chris woke with a start and looked at Vin. He rose and got hold of one of Vin's hands, while he wiped the hair from his brow with the other.
"Hey cowboy. How do you feel?"
"Still got a headache, feel sick."
Chris grabbed a bowl in case it was needed and it was a good job he did. Vin suddenly threw up and Buck stood up quickly to lend a hand.
"Where am I?" Vin's eyes darted round the room anxiously. "W..W...Where's Mom?" he asked, confusion plain in his voice. He turned his head toward Buck and frowned. "Who are you? G...G..Get away from me," he said, becoming increasingly agitated. He grabbed the sheet tightly in both hands and looked around frantically. Chris noticed that Vin had difficulty getting his words out when speaking. The words weren't slurred but he seemed to stutter slightly.
Chris looked at the sharpshooter in concern. "You're in hospital, Vin. Don't you remember?" He stroked Vin's face to try to calm him down but the sharpshooter's breathing got increasingly erratic as he began to panic.
"I'm hot," Vin said as he pushed the sheets down and away from his body. Chris tried to cover Vin back up with the sheet but the tracker wouldn't let go. Chris looked toward Buck and frowned while he felt Vin's brow. It was very warm. Suddenly Vin groaned and his body started to convulse repeatedly. Chris kept a hold on him so he couldn't hurt himself while Buck ran out of the room to find the doctor. He found him at the nurses' station and both men hurried back to Vin's room.
"What happened?" the doctor asked.
"He woke up and didn't seem to know where he was. He said he had a headache and he vomited. He became very hot and then just started convulsing. What's wrong with him?" Chris asked anxiously.
"How was his speech?" the doctor asked, ignoring Chris's question as he looked into Vin's eyes with a light.
"He stuttered a bit, I suppose. He couldn't seem to say what he wanted straight away. Is he gonna be alright?"
"He may have an abscess on his brain from the fracture, or it could be a stroke," the doctor said as he gave Vin an injection and the convulsions finally subsided.
"Will he be alright?" Chris asked again more forcefully, wanting an answer. He felt goose bumps all over his body at the mention of a stroke.
"I'll know more after we've done some tests. I'll arrange for him to be taken up now." The doctor left and returned quickly with two porters who took Vin away.
Buck and Chris went to the waiting room. Chris sat down heavily with a sigh and rubbed his face with a trembling hand. Buck sat down next to him, knowing his friend was upset and he patted his thigh. Chris looked over to him and smiled faintly.
"He'll be alright Chris. He was in the best place when it happened."
"Yeah, I know. It just frightened me when he had that seizure. Isn't he a bit young for a stroke?"
"Well, you sometimes hear of younger people having them. I really don't know Chris."
The doctor returned after about half an hour and sat down next to them. "We've done some more tests and he's got an abscess on his brain. We'll operate now to drain it."
"So he definitely hasn't had a stroke?"
"No. The symptoms are fairly similar so we couldn't be sure until we'd done the tests."
Chris nodded and sat back in his chair, relieved at least a stroke had been ruled out. His mind went back over the events of the day as he waited for Vin's return. He felt sick with worry and totally helpless. He interlaced his fingers together under his chin and rested his elbows on his knees while staring at the floor. Buck sat in silence next to him after phoning Nathan with an update. They both looked up in expectation when the doctor came back.
"We've drained the abscess and we'll keep him on antibiotics and anticonvulsants. He should recover completely. He's young and strong but we'll keep him in for a few days to keep an eye on things before you take him home. He should have complete rest for a couple of weeks and then do only as much as he can manage until he is back to full fitness."
"Thanks. Can we go back to sit with him?"
"Yes. He's in the same room."
The two men returned to Vin's bedside and again sat beside him. He looked very pale and vulnerable. After several hours he stirred and Chris stood up and walked to the bed.
"Vin? Are you okay?"
"Well you go back to sleep. You'll feel better when you wake again," Chris said. Vin closed his eyes and was asleep in seconds. Chris rubbed his arm comfortingly and then retook his seat. He turned his head as the door opened and Nathan walked in.
"Hey Nate," Buck greeted.
"How is he?"
"He just woke for a minute," Chris said. "God Nate. He frightened the life outta me. Do ya think he'll be alright?"
"I've just had a word with the doctor. He seems to think Vin will make a full recovery."
Buck's attention was drawn to the bed as he saw Vin move. The sharpshooter had been woken by Chris and Nathan talking.
"Chris," Buck called. "Vin's awake again." Buck looked at Vin and asked, "How do you feel?"
"My head hurts." Vin opened his eyes and looked at Chris.
"Sorry Vin. We didn't mean to disturb you. Do you know who I am?" Chris asked.
Vin frowned at the question. "Chris," he replied in a puzzled tone.
Buck tapped him tentatively on the shoulder and asked the same question. He waited in trepidation for the answer.
"Buck. Why are you asking?"
"Don't worry about it. We just wanted to be sure."
"Be sure of what?" Vin asked, getting upset. "Tell me."
Chris put a hand on his shoulder and Vin turned toward him. "You didn't remember who Buck was earlier. You've had an operation because you developed an abscess on your brain," he paused before asking, "Do you remember that your bike was stolen?"
"My bike? No," Vin answered, plainly confused.
"Don't worry. You get some rest and we'll talk again later," Nathan assured his friend.
"What about my bike?" Vin insisted.
Chris knew he wouldn't rest until he'd been told what had happened so he said, "Your bike was stolen. I know you love that bike but it's replaceable, you're not." He smiled at Vin and patted his arm comfortingly.
"Oh." Vin looked uneasy and upset by the news but he eventually closed his eyes and went back to sleep.
"Do you think he's alright?" Buck asked.
"Yeah. I don't expect he'll ever remember all that happened out on the road. As long as he remembers us that's all that matters."
+ + + + + + +
Vin woke again to the smell of coffee after five hours of recuperative sleep. Buck was still sitting beside him sipping from a cup but Chris and Nathan were nowhere to be seen.
"Buck? Where are Chris and Nathan?"
"Chris's just ducked outside to call Josiah and Nathan's gone back to work. How do you feel?"
"Better. When can I go home?"
"In a day or two, but you'll be off work for a few weeks." Buck thought Vin had more color in his cheeks and he certainly was more coherent.
Chris came back into the room. "Hey Vin. Good to see you."
"I hear I'm getting a holiday from work. I suppose I've got to stay with you, have I?"
"You'd better believe it. I can't trust you to be left on your own. You always get into some sort of trouble."
"Yeah. Like you never do," Vin retorted sarcastically.
Chris and Buck laughed. Vin was obviously feeling better.
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