by Winnie Power

Weaver turned from the monitors and let his eyes fall on the men waiting outside the door. He knew he’d have to speak with them and he was glad it was with the news that their friend was still alive.

He signed the charts and changed some of the meds before leaving the room to join the waiting men.

"Doc?" Buck asked.

"He’s alive," Weaver said.

"What happened?" Nathan asked.

"Your friend's body as been weakened from his injuries, peritonitis, and pneumonia. We’ve been monitoring him closely expecting something like this and that’s why we were able to bring him back so quickly," Weaver explained.

"Will it happen again?" Standish asked.

"It could. We’ll continue to monitor him and hopefully if it does, we’ll be able to bring him back again."

"Is there anything else?" Travis asked as he saw the worry in the man’s face.

Weaver knew he was dealing with a group of men who were used to reading behind the lines. His shoulders slumped as he gazed into each man’s face. "I’m afraid Mr. Larabee has slipped into a coma," he said softly.

"W...what caused that?" JD asked worriedly.

"There are many things that cause a patient to go into a coma. In Mr. Larabee’s case, I’d say it was trauma, especially the type of trauma your friend as gone through. His body is weakened and he may have decided he doesn’t want to fight any more," Weaver told them. He tried to stay unemotional with his patients and their friends but he’d found over the years that it was impossible to detach himself. These men cared so much about their friend and it was with a pained expression that he told them the news.

"Will he come out of it?" Wilmington asked.

"We know very little about Coma, Mr. Wilmington. From everything I’ve seen, your friend is a normally healthy man and that’s something in his favour. When you’re in the room with him, I’d like you to talk with him and touch him. Physical as well as emotional support will go a long way towards Mr. Larabee’s recovery. I’m going off duty but my associate, Dr. Burkhart will be here."

"You’re leaving?" JD asked wearily.

"I’ve been on duty for twenty hours, young man. I don’t want to leave but I need some sleep as do all of you," Weaver said as he once again looked at each man.

"Can I go see him?" Nathan asked.

"Give the nurses a few minutes to make him comfortable and then you can go in. Just make sure you don’t get in the way," Weaver told them. "I’ll see you tomorrow."

"Thanks, Doc," Wilmington said as he watched the nursing staff replace the thin sheet over his friend.

"One of you can come in now," Melanie said as she finished pushing the crash cart away from the bed. She emptied the foley catheter and measured the liquid. She then turned to the drainage tube in her patient's side and emptied the dark pink liquid.

Melanie raised her head as a handsome dark skinned man entered the room. She saw the look of horror on his face at the coloured fluid she measured. "I’m sorry you had to see that," She said as she disposed of the waste. "It’s a little darker than it was but he’s back and he’s holding his own," she said but knew it did little to reassure the man.

"How are his vitals?" Nathan asked.

"Blood pressure is a little low, temperature is one hundred and four but that’s to be expected with the pneumonia and infection," Melanie explained.

Nathan walked to the bed and looked at the man lying there. Between the tubes, IV’s, monitoring equipment, and the ventilator, there was little of his friend exposed. He reached out and placed a gentle hand on his left shoulder and spoke softly.

"Hey, Chris, you gonna just lay there or you gonna fight this thing? We’re all waiting here for you to come back and give us all a great big Larabee glare. Hell, I’d welcome one of those infamous glares right now," Nathan said and Melanie couldn’t help but smile at the man.

"Keep talking to him. They don’t know for sure if a patient hears you but I’m a firm believer in talking to a comatose patient. It certainly can’t do any harm," she said.

"Ok, if I sit with him for awhile?" Jackson asked.

"I don’t mind at all. I’ll let you know if you’re in my way," Melanie told him.

"I’ll be right back," Jackson said and left the room. "You guys better go get that rest," Jackson said.

"I ain’t goin nowhere," Buck said.

"Buck, I know you’re worried, hell we all are, but we’re not doing either of them any good if we get sick. Just get out of here at least for a couple of hours. I’m going to need you here tomorrow," Jackson said.

"Nathan, I’m going to see Chris for a minute. Buck, you, JD, and Ezra go tell Josiah what happened and I’ll be down to take you all to the hotel in ten minutes. I mean it, Buck, no arguments. We’re going to need your strength," Travis said as he hurried into room four.

"I’m sorry, Chris," Travis said, guilt over the plane crash pressing on his mind. "Guess the next time you tell me you don’t need a vacation I’ll believe you," Travis said as he looked at his employee and friend with tears brimming in his elderly eyes. "How the hell could something like this happen? You and Vin were supposed to get some R&R but you end up in here. Dammit, I wish I had the time back and could send you on some friendly little terrorist case instead," he smiled down at the man on the bed. "I’m going to go let Nathan come back in. I think I’d better get Buck and the rest of your stubborn team out of here. Take care, my friend and make sure you’re here when I get back tomorrow or I’ll..." Travis smiled as he realized he was about to threaten to fire Chris if he wasn’t there when he came back in the morning. Patting the man’s left shoulder, he turned and hurried from the room before the nurse could see the path his tears took down his cheeks.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra sat in the chair in Vin’s room. He stood up and stretched the kinks out of his tired, aching body. He walked to the bed and looked at the peacefully sleeping man.

The door opened and a young woman dressed in a white nurses uniform walked in, "Good morning," she said pleasantly. "My name's Stephanie and I’ll be looking after Mr. Tanner today."

"Good morning, Stephanie, I’m Ezra, Ezra Standish."

"Well, Mr. Standish, if you’d like to go get some coffee or maybe some breakfast I have to get Mr. Tanner ready for surgery. They’ll be here for him in thirty minutes."

"If it’s all the same with you, ma’am I’d rather stay with my comrade," Ezra told her.

"If you insist," she said as she began taking vitals and checked the IV line. Ezra watched as she placed a needle into one of the junctions and added some medication to the IV. "What’s that?" he asked.

"This is a mild sedative. Mr. Tanner is suffering from a severe concussion and the doctor thinks that’s what’s causing the blindness. She’s hoping that if the swelling goes down his sight will return. She’s arranged for him to see an ophthalmic surgeon but it has to wait till they fix the ankle," she explained.

"I hope she’s right and that Mr. Tanner’s sight returns with the reduction of the swelling," Ezra said as he watched her continue with her duties.

"C...Chris," Vin called as he opened his eyes to the darkness.

"Hey, Mr. Tanner, it’s about time you woke up. I was beginning to believe you’d sleep the day away."

"Shut up, Ez, where’s Chris?" Vin asked.

"He’s upstairs, Vin."

"Why won’t they let me s... I mean visit him?" Vin asked as he yawned sleepily.

"He’s sleeping right now, Mr. Tanner, maybe when your surgery is over they’ll let us bring you up to see him," Ezra explained.


"Don’t you remember, Mr. Tanner, you’re having surgery on your ankle this morning."

"Let me visit Chris first," Vin said.

"That’s not possible, Mr. Tanner, they’ve already called for you. The orderly will be here to take you to the OR any minute," Stephanie explained.

"Who are you?" Vin asked.

"I’m going to be looking after you today. My name is Stephanie and I’m a registered nurse," she said. She looked up as the door was opened and a stretcher was wheeled in. "I think your carriage has arrived," she said.

As the orderlies and the nurse began to transfer the injured man to his bed, Vin spoke softly. "Promise me I’ll get to visit Chris when I come back, Ez."

"I can’t promise, Mr. Tanner, but I’ll speak to your Doctor," Ezra said as the nurse transferred the IV from one pole to another.

+ + + + + + +

"Good morning, Mr. Jackson, is it?"

"Good morning," Nathan said as a new nurse entered ICU four.

"My name is Peggy and I’ll be looking after Mr. Larabee today. Melanie said he had a rough night last night," she said as she began checking the monitors, lines and various tubes leading into the man on the bed.

"He went into some kind of arrest last night and Dr. Weaver said he’s in a coma," Jackson said as he rubbed his tired eyes. "Dr. Burkhart was in a couple of times but he says there’s no change."

"I was just speaking with Dr. Burkhart," she said.

"What does he say about Chris?" Jackson asked wearily.

"He changed the antibiotics to a stronger form. Right now Mr. Larabee doesn’t have the strength to fight the infections in his body and we have to be more aggressive in his treatment."

"I understand," Nathan said.

"Mr. Jackson," Ezra called softly from the door.

"Ezra, what are you doing here? Is Vin alright?"

"They came to take Mr. Tanner to surgery. I though I’d come see if you’d join me for breakfast," Standish said.

"Why don’t you go with your friend, Mr. Jackson? I want to drain some of the tubes and we’re going to turn Mr. Larabee again," Peggy told him.

Nathan looked back at the bed and nodded, "I’ll be back in half an hour," he told the nurse.

"That’s fine, Mr. Jackson, We should be done by then," Peggy said as she was joined by another, older nurse.

+ + + + + + +

Vin Tanner felt hands on his body as he was lifted onto a cold bed. He knew where he was as the orderly had explained where they were going and what they were doing. He was frightened for the first time in his life. He’d had surgery before but at those times he’d been able to see the faces of the people who were in the operating room with him. Now he couldn’t see any of the strangers in the room with him and he felt as if he’d lost control.

"Mr. Tanner, I’m Doctor Gleason and I’m going to be putting you to sleep today. I see by your charts that you have a hard time with anaesthesia."

"Makes me sick," Vin said softly, a hint of fear in his voice.

"We’re going to make sure the nurses in recovery know what to expect and hopefully the Gravol will make it a little easier on you," Gleason explained.

"Thanks," Vin said quietly as his right hand was pulled away from his side and strapped to a board. His left hand was pulled straight out as well and he listened to the doctor explaining exactly what he was going to do.

The circulating nurse went to the door and let the surgeons know they were ready to begin.

"Good morning, Mr. Tanner," Dr. Mercer said as she stepped up to the bed. "I saw you yesterday in the ER. Do you remember?"

"Yes, Ma’am," Vin said softly.

"I’d like you to say hello to Dr. Owens. He’s going to be doing the actual surgery today. Do you remember what we’re going to do?" she asked knowing that he was still suffering from a concussion. She wanted to know if his short-term memory was affected.

"Putting some kinda pin in my ankle," Vin answered.

"That’s right, Mr. Tanner," Dr. Owens said. "I guess we’re ready to begin. Dr. Gleason is going to put you to sleep now and you’ll wake up in recovery."

"K," Vin said.

"I’m putting the versed in now, Mr. Tanner, so try and relax now," Gleason explained as he added the anaesthesia to the IV line.

He placed his hand on the eyelashes, when there was no reaction he inserted the succinylcholine into the IV. He then placed the endotracheal tube and hooked Vin Tanner to the ventilator. "All set," he told the doctors as he finished checking the monitors.

+ + + + + + +

Nathan and Ezra returned to ICU four and waited for news on Vin Tanner. Peggy was once again checking vitals and marking them down on a chart when they entered. Nathan hated the stillness of the form on the bed. He could see how pale the man’s skin was as he lay partly on his left side, his arms in front of him. Pillows supported his weight and kept him from rolling.

"Why’d they turn him?" Ezra asked.

"To prevent bedsores," Nathan answered.

"I see," Ezra said softly.

+ + + + + + +

"Come on, JD, I want to get to the hospital," Buck Wilmington said as he pounded on the bathroom door. They’d already called the hospital and checked on their friends. They knew Vin was in surgery and that things hadn’t improved for Chris.

"Coming, Buck," JD called and Buck smiled as he heard the shower turn off.

"You got ten minutes to get dressed and meet us out front. Travis has arranged a car to take us to the hospital," Wilmington shouted.

"I said I’m coming, Buck," JD shouted back impatiently.

"Well then hurry up," Buck shouted as he turned away from the door.

+ + + + + + +

JD, Buck, Josiah, Nathan, and Travis hurried from the ICU elevator. They knew Vin Tanner had gone to surgery an hour before and they were all going to keep vigil with Nathan and Ezra in the ICU waiting room.

Buck left the others in the waiting room where they’d found a sleeping Ezra Standish. The others had agreed that he would be the one to relieve Nathan.

He walked up to the door to Chris’s room and saw Nathan Jackson holding their friend's hand in his. He waited for the medic to look his way before speaking. When Nathan finally looked up, his tired eyes looked sunken in his face, "Hey, Nathan, how’s Chris?" Buck asked.

"The same, Buck. Where is everyone?"

"In the waiting room with Ezra," Buck answered. "Any word on Vin?"

"He went into surgery an hour ago. Dr. Mercer said she’d come here when Vin was in recovery," Nathan explained.

"Where’s Melanie?" he asked as he watched the new nurse place a full bag of IV liquid on the pole by Chris’s bed. She checked the readouts on the IV monitor and seemed to be satisfied with the readings.

"Melanie’s shift ended at seven this morning. This is Peggy, she’ll be with Chris today."

"Nathan, why don’t you and Ezra go get some rest?"

"As soon as I know Vin’s out of surgery, Ezra and I will leave," Jackson said.

"At least go get some coffee. I’ll stay with Chris."

"Alright, Buck, just remember to stay out of Peggy’s way and keep talking to Chris."

"I will, Nathan," Buck answered as he took the recently vacated chair. He reached forward and took his friend's still hand and squeezed gently, "I don’t know if you can hear me, Pard, but I sure wish you’d wake up. I know you’ve been through a lot over the past year but you can fight it, Chris. Remember the two ladies we met at Inez’s last month. That red head sure had the hots for you. What am I talkin’ about both of them ladies had the hots for you. Maybe my animal magnetism is rubbing off on you," Buck said and watched as the ventilator breathed for his friend.

"He’s a lucky man to have such good friends."

Buck looked at the petite nurse and smiled. "I think we’re the lucky ones to have him as a friend ma’am. I wish you could see him without all these tubes and things running into him. He’s about the only one who could make the ladies turn their backs on me," he said.

"He must be a handsome man if he could do that," Peggy said as she drained the tube in Chris’s abdomen.

Buck could see the small amount of light pink liquid and looked at the nurse worriedly. "Is that normal?" he asked.

"It is," Peggy said. "Actually this is starting to clear up."

"Really?" Buck asked unbelievingly.

"Really, from what Melanie told me this morning it was really dark last night so this is an improvement."

"Does that mean he’s getting better?" Buck asked hopefully.

"It means that the poison that’s been leaking into his abdomen is slowing down," Peggy said as she measured the liquid from the Foley.

"Oh," Buck said and turned his attention back to his friend.

Peggy looked at the handsome man sitting at the bedside. She was a professional and had steeled herself against the emotions that assaulted her every time she watched family and friends sit and wait for a loved one to wake up. She hoped and prayed that this story would end happily and that she would get the chance to see just how handsome the patient in the bed was.

+ + + + + + +

"Mr. Jackson," Nathan looked up as Dr. Mercer entered the waiting room.

"How’s Vin?" he asked.

"Mr. Tanner is out of surgery and in recovery."

"How did it go?" Josiah asked.

"His ankle was worse than we’d originally thought but we were able to repair the damage. Unfortunately he’s having a bad reaction to the anaesthetic. He’s been vomiting since we woke him. I’ve left orders for the nurses to give him Gravol to calm his stomach but it’s not helping very much."

"Vin’s always had a problem with anaesthetic," Nathan told her. "Can one of us sit with him? Maybe if he sees one of us it’ll calm him down."

"No one’s allowed in recovery I’m afraid, but he’ll be transferred back to his room in about an hour if all goes well. I’m due back in surgery so if there’re no other questions I’ll be going. I think you should all know that he woke up asking for his friend."

Mirror smiles covered the faces of the five men in the room, "That sounds like Mr. Tanner. Who wants to wager what the first word out of Mr Larabee’s mouth will be?" Ezra asked.

"No dice, Ez, we all know what that word will be," JD smiled.

Vin’s going to be ok, right?" Travis asked.

"He should be fine as soon as the effects of the anaesthetic wears off. It may take a day or two but he’ll be fine. I’ll check in on him after I’m done with my next case," she said as she walked out the door.

"Thanks, Doc," Josiah said. "Ok, Nathan, it looks like Vin’s gonna be fine. I think it’s time you and Ezra went to the hotel and got some sleep."

"I do believe I could use a few hours of sleep," Ezra said as he looked at the exhausted medic.

"Alright, Ezra, let’s go get some shut eye. Make sure you call us if anything happens," Jackson told them.

"We will, Nathan, you and Ezra go get something to eat and some sleep. We’ll see you this evening," Travis ordered as he walked them to the elevator.

"You think Vin’s ok, Josiah?" JD asked.

"Vin’s as tough as nails, JD, he’ll do fine," Sanchez answered.

"What about his eyes?" JD asked.

"According to the specialist, his sight should return when the swelling behind the optic nerves goes down. He’ll know more when they do an MRI," Josiah told him.

"I hope the doc’s right," JD said softly.

"I’m sure the good lord will do whatever he can, JD. I think it’s time I relieved Brother Buck and gave him the news about Vin," Sanchez said as Travis returned to the room.

+ + + + + + +

Josiah Sanchez firmly believed in Devine intervention and he prayed that his two injured friends would be on the receiving end of some.

Buck looked up as Josiah called his name from the door.

"We have to turn the patient again, Buck, why don’t you and your friend go get some coffee and I’ll call you when I’m done" Peggy said as another nurse entered the room.

"Thanks, Peggy, we’ll wait out here," Buck told her.

"How’s Vin?" Buck asked as they watched the nurses work on their friend.

"He’s in recovery," Josiah answered.

"He have a hard time with the anaesthetic?"

"He did. They’ll be bringing him down to his room any time now. I figured I’d sit with brother Chris for awhile," Josiah said as he watched the nurses turn the comatose patient on his back.

"I think I’ll go sit with him for a while."

"Sit on him is more like it, Brother Buck," Josiah laughed.

Buck grinned at the older man. "I bet the first thing he’ll want when he wakes up is to come up here and see Chris," he said.

"That’s a sure bet," Josiah laughed.

"I’ll see you later, Josiah," Buck said as he turned away from ICU four.

+ + + + + + +

"Hey, Vin, that’s it open those baby blues," Buck said as he stood next to his friend's wakening form.

"B...Buck, gonna b...be sick," Vin said as he tried to sit up. Buck Wilmington was lightening fast with the kidney shaped boat but with nothing left in his system Vin suffered from dry heaves. Buck held his shoulder until the heaves stopped and then lay his friend back on the pillow.

"Easy, there, Pard. Buck’s got ya."

"C...Chris," Vin asked as he lifted his hand to his aching forehead.

"He’s still the same," Buck said sadly.

"I wanna s...see him, B...Buck," Vin said tiredly.

"I know you do, Vin, but the doc says you have to wait till tomorrow. Besides, they're putting Chris through some more tests today so nobody can see him for awhile," Buck said as he pulled a chair towards the bed.

"I c...can’t feel h...him like I usually d...do, Buck," Vin said.

"That’s probably cause of the coma, Vin. You and Chris will be back to feeling each others vibes as soon as he wakes up."

"Is he gonna wake up?"

"Course he will, Vin, you know Chris he’s probably just taking it easy. Probably don’t want to wake up to all those damn tubes sticking out of him. You know how much he hates needles, tubes and hospitals. Kinda reminds me of you," Buck laughed and was pleased to see the younger man smile.

"We do tend to dislike hospitals, don’t we?"

"That’s putting it mildly. How’s the headache?"

"Still there but not quite as bad. Stomach feels pretty crappy right now though."

"That’s your little aversion to anaesthetic I reckon," Buck laughed.

"Don’t feel so little right now," Vin said.

"Why don’t you get some more sleep, Vin? I’ll stay here with you."

"Thanks, Pard, Think I will. I’m gonna see Chris first thing in the morning," he said firmly.

"Sure, Vin, sure," Buck said and rocked his chair back on it’s legs.

+ + + + + + +

Morning came and Vin Tanner awoke from what felt like a long drinking binge. His headache had returned and he groaned as he placed his hands over his eyes.

"Good morning, Mr. Tanner," Ezra said.

"E...Ezra, take me to Chris," Vin said as he grimaced against the daggers assaulting his head.

"I’m afraid we’ll have to wait for your physician to give the consent to take you to see him," Ezra told him.

"G...go get her," Vin ordered.

"She should be making her rounds any minute now, Mr. Tanner. Why don’t you just relax and wait for her," Standish said.

"You don’t understand, Ez, Chris is slipping away from us. From me. I can’t feel him at all. I need to talk to him. Let him no what he means to me," Tanner said as unseeing eyes filled with tears.

"Mr. Larabee is resting comfortably right now, Vin. He’ll be there when Dr. Mercer gives her permission for you to visit him."

Vin Tanner noticed Standish’s use of his first name and knew it was done to set his mind at ease. "Will he?" he asked.

"Good morning, Mr. Tanner," a female voice called from the door.

"Morning," Vin said simply.

"How do you feel this morning?"

"Dr. Mercer?"

"That’s correct. How’s your stomach?"

"Much better," Vin said.

"And your head?"

"Much better," he said again but she could tell he lied.

"Sure it is. Well, I want you to take it easy today and Dr. William Beattie will be in to see you this afternoon."

"Who’s he?" Standish asked.

"He’s an ophthalmic surgeon. He’s ordered an MRI for tomorrow morning just to make sure everything’s ok with your eyes."

"I don’t need no MRI to tell me that everything’s not alright," Vin said.

"Well the MRI will tell us if there’s anything else wrong besides the swelling. I’ll come back and see you after he’s finished," Mercer said as she walked to the door.

"Dr. Mercer?"

"You’re Mr. Standish, right?" she asked.

"Yes, ma’am, Mr. Tanner is extremely worried about his friend upstairs. Is there any way we can arrange for him to visit for a few minutes?" Ezra asked.

Mercer came back to the bed and checked her patient. "I’ll make a deal with you, Mr. Tanner, if you promise to behave and listen to the nurses then I’ll arrange to have you brought up there in a wheel chair."

"He’ll behave, won’t you Mr. Tanner?"

"I will," Vin said, a relieved smile on his pale face


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