Two hours. Two long, excruciating hours Chris sat and watched as Vin suffered.
He'd squirm around in the bed, trying to move away from the pain, whimpering
at it, and Chris could do nothing for him. And the doctors could do nothing
for him, so they said. Something about the make-up of the drug was designed
to maximize the pain and inhibit any pain medications. They had tried. They'd
given him several different things but nothing helped
Blood samples had been taken periodically and the doctor did report that
the toxin level in Vin's system was decreasing. Chris was happy about that,
just wished it'd go faster.
Finally, slowly, Vin began to quiet. His breathing became slower, deeper
and at times he almost appeared asleep. Chris stayed by his side, talking
softly to him, touching him, making sure he knew he was not alone.
******* ******* *******
Buck peeked his head around a curtain. He didn't want to disturb his friends
but wanted to know how Vin was. Chris smiled sadly when he saw him and Buck
stepped up beside the bed.
"How's he doing?" he asked, mouthing the words more than saying them.
"Finally starting to rest," Chris replied, though as soon as the words were
out of his mouth, Vin jerked a leg and groaned.
"Hey, he's making noise now."
"Yeah," Chris acknowledged, turning his eyes back to watch Vin. "He actually
started that during that nightmare he had last night."
"Think that's a sign that this is almost over? That he'll be talking again
Chris shrugged. "I hope so."
Buck finally noticed how wiped-out Chris sounded and began studying him closely.
He was looking so closely that he didn't notice the nurse who had entered
the area until she placed a hand on his arm and tried to move him out of
"Excuse me, sir. I need to get another sample," she smiled as she stepped
up to the side of the bed and began readying Vin's arm to have a blood sample
drawn. Buck wrinkled his nose and moved around to the other side of the bed,
next to Chris. He really didn't want to watch her draw blood.
He looked down at Chris and for the first time saw the small trail of blood
going down the side of his neck. He raised a finger to move Chris's hair
out of the way to get a better view.
"You hurt, Chris?"
The nurse perked up. "Mr. Larabee?"
Chris ducked his head away from Buck's probing fingers. "I'm fine, Buck.
Knock it off."
"It was. It stopped a long time ago. I'm fine."
"Maybe you ought to let them look you over."
Chris turned his evil stare on Buck.
The nurse completed her task and then moved around to the other side of the
bed. She immediately saw the trail of blood and moved closer to examine the
"Mr. Larabee, a head injury is nothing to ignore. We really should check
Chris kept angry eyes on Buck. "What about you? I seem to remember you flat
on the floor."
"I've already been checked out. Been x-rayed, CAT scanned, probed, prodded
and poked. I'm fine." Buck smiled, knowing Chris had no more excuses.
Chris turned his head back to Vin and gently rubbed his arm. "I ain't leaving,"
he said softly.
Buck should have guessed that right off. It wasn't the 'seeing the doctor'
part that he objected to. It was the 'leaving Vin alone' part. He moved up
behind Chris and placed a friendly hand on his shoulder.
"I'll stay with Vin. You go get yourself taken care of or you'll be in worse
shape than he is."
Chris thought about that. It was probably the only reasoning that would have
worked. He had to be healthy in order to be there for Vin. He turned back
to Buck who nodded his head and gently coaxed him out of the chair he had
occupied for hours now. Buck took the seat and focused himself on the man
in the bed. The nurse led Chris out of the area into another examination
With the exception of the ATF team, it had been a slow day in the emergency
room. Perkins had been tended to and was now in surgery having the bullet
removed. He would then be put into a room, heavily guarded, no visitors allowed,
until he was healthy enough to go to jail.
The rest of the members of the team were gathered in the waiting area. Two
were on their cell phones, all were eager to hear news on their friends.
The nurses had passed on some information but they were waiting to get it
from the horse's mouth. They all jumped up when Chris entered.
"How is he?"
"How are you?"
"He gonna be okay?"
Chris was amazed that he managed to understand anything as all four men spoke
at once. He held up his hand to quiet them.
"Vin's getting better. Whatever Perkins gave him is slowly working its way
out of his system."
"What about you?" Nathan asked, pointing to the small bandage peeking out
from under his hairline.
"Oh," Chris began, turning back to look angrily at the room he had just been
in. "I'm fine. Had a little bump and it had stopped bleeding on its own but
once they started poking at it, 'cleaning it', it started bleeding
again so then they decide it needed stitches." Chris shook his head. "Should
have just left well enough alone."
"Is Buck still back there?" JD asked.
"Yeah. He's with Vin, making sure he's comfortable...well ...as comfortable
as he can be."
"Mr. Larabee?" a voice spoke from behind him. Chris turned to see the doctor
standing there. "We've gotten the latest results of Mr. Tanner's blood work.
The toxin seems to have leveled off. There isn't much of a change since the
last test. We'd like to keep him overnight, make sure his system's able to
flush enough of this out before we send him home."
Chris only thought a moment about it before he was nodding his agreement.
The safe house hadn't turned out to be so safe. The hospital was probably
one of the safest places for Vin to be.
The doctor nodded back. "I'll start making the arrangements to get him moved
up to a room." He turned and headed down the hall. Chris turned back to his
"Guess you'll be spending the night here too?" Josiah asked, though they
all knew the answer. "You need us to bring you anything?"
Chris smiled and shrugged. "Usual stuff...food...clothes...beer..." Chris
didn't know why he felt like he could joke. Things weren't anywhere near
settled down yet. Just needed to release some pent up frustrations, he guessed.
******* ******* *******
Chris stood off to the side as Vin was settled into a regular hospital bed
in a semi-private room. Luckily, there was no one occupying the other bed.
Vin had lost an IV but gained a catheter, something Chris knew he'd love.
He was still conscious but the pain and energy expended to ride it out had
left him exhausted. He opened his eyes occasionally during the move but simply
looked around vaguely until his lids fell closed again. Chris hated seeing
his friend like that and knew that, this time, it really was his fault. He
should have let someone check his stuff before he got it out of his truck.
He didn't even check the vehicle to see if it had been broken into. After
the tracking device had been found, he'd had the agency check his truck and
they found telltale evidence that someone had forced their way in.
Chris glanced down at his watch. Almost five o'clock. It felt like it should
be later. He looked out the window and could see the Friday afternoon rush
hour gaining momentum down in the city streets. He found himself almost wishing
for the normalcy of a nine-to-five job. Taking a deep breath, he turned his
attention back to the room. The last remaining nurse was making her final
adjustments on the IV line and on Vin's bedding before turning and, with
a smile to Chris, left the room.
Chris stepped up slowly to the side of the bed. Vin was lying with his eyes
closed but Chris didn't think he was asleep. His breathing was a little too
erratic and there was the occasional twitch of muscles as a spasm of pain
would hit. The drug hadn't completely let go yet.
Chris stood silently, unmoving for several minutes, just watching. This was
his co-worker, teammate, closest friend...hell, probably the closest friend
he'd ever had...and he couldn't do anything to help him. Only one other time
in his life had he felt so helpless...when his wife and son had been killed.
His eyes got a faraway look in them as his mind drifted back to that time
in his life. The feeling of complete lack of control that he'd hoped he'd
never feel again.
"Chris ?" a weak voice called him. Chris shook himself out of his reverie
and looked down at the bed. Vin was staring at him with sleepy eyes. Chris
reached out with one hand and cupped Vin's fingers and wrapped the other
hand around to the side of Vin's head. He leaned forward.
"Right here, Vin. Just relax, you're going to be fine," he said comfortingly,
rubbing his thumb gently on Vin's temple.
Vin wrinkled his brow as he watched Chris's mouth move, then, slowly, his
eyes drifted closed. It wasn't until Vin had fallen asleep that Chris realized
what he had heard.
"You talked, Vin," he marveled quietly, continuing to stroke Vin's temple.
His mind started toying with the idea that maybe this whole thing was almost
over, but the practical side of him held back, reminding him things weren't
always as they seemed. He pulled up the chair that stood by the wall and