by Jeanne

Disclaimer: As far as I know they still belong to some rich guys in California. This is just for fun.

Rating: PG for some mild cussing, some blood and guts.

Author's Notes: A big thanks to Winnie for all her help and encouragement. Thanks to Julie for the medical help, which I probably didn’t get right. This was born because of too much time to think and it seemed no one ever explained why ATF Sarah and Adam died.

"Hey, Cowboy, you about ready to go?"

Chris Larabee looked up from the mountains of paperwork on his desk to see Vin Tanner leaning against his office door.

"Come on Chris it’s late and that stuff will wait ‘til tomorrow." Vin grinned, "Besides we got plans for tonight. Bucks gonna try to hit on Inez again, big time. He even bought flowers. We all plan to watch. Ezra’s got a pot going on how quick Inez turns him down."

"Doesn’t he ever give up?"

"Nope, you comin’?"

"I just need 15 more minutes and I can go. You go ahead, I’ll be along."

"Ok, but if your sorry ass isn’t in the Saloon in 30 we’re comin’ to get ya."

Vin turned and left. Chris stared at the paper in his hand trying to remember where he’d been before he was interrupted. He hated paperwork. He vaguely heard the elevator ding and then the phone rang.


"Hello Larabee"

Chris’ stomach began to knot at the sound of the mechanically distorted voice. "What do you want?""

"I hope you said goodbye to new your friend. ‘Cause the last thing you’ll see of him is the fire ball that was his jeep."

Chris dropped the phone, "Shit, Vin!" and ran out with the caller’s laughter ringing in his ears. He ran past the elevators hoping he could run down the stairs faster.

Each step echoed the phone call in his head until he burst threw the door to the parking garage. He could see Vin walking toward his jeep. With a final burst of speed and the last of his breath Chris screamed "VIN!!"

At the sound of his voice Vin started to turn looking over his shoulder and smiling. Chris reached out and grabbed Vin and threw him behind a near by car as hard as he could.


The fireball sent flames up to lick the garage ceiling. The force of the blast throwing Chris backward into a cement column his head hitting it with a sickening thud, his limp body sliding down to the floor, leaving behind a bright red streak that was quickly washed away by the sprinklers. Alarms blared deafeningly but the two friends lay unaware of them.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Buck Wilmington charged into the hospital ER. Looking around for a familiar face he finally spotted a nurse he knew. Heading toward her he put on his best smile.

"Hello Darlin’…."

She looked up and smiled tolerantly. He’d pulled this far too many times. "Hi Buck, No you can’t see them. Yes, they’re alive and a doctor will be out shortly. The others are waiting down the hall."

"Thanks darlin’" Buck turned and looked down the long hall and waiting room. God I hate this place. He spotted the others huddled together in the far corner.

JD looked up, "What happened Buck?"

"Don’t know yet. Security isn’t saying much, all they’d tell me is that Vin and Chris were transported to the hospital and that Vins’ jeep blew up and made a terrible mess. They got the bomb boys on it, wouldn’t let me near it, us being on the same team." Buck sat down nodding to the others, and they waited the unknown more unsettling then the known.

Dr. Ryan looked out into the waiting room. She spotted the other members of Team 7 and taking a deep breath went out to face the dragon. Dealing with the unwounded of Team 7 was a challenge no one wanted. It wasn’t her night.


Buck jumped up, "Yeah Doc?"

"First, I treated Mr. Tanner. He has 3 cracked ribs and a twisted knee and a knot on his head. He’s conscious but groggy. We’re keeping him here over night at least. I don’t think he has a concussion that’s one of the things we’re watching for. Plus we want to keep that knee still and packed with ice. He’s going to his room now, and yes before you even ask you can go there as soon as he’s settled."

She paused clearing her thoughts. "Mr. Larabee is still here. It seems he was facing the blast. His face is burned, now don’t panic it's rather like a very bad sunburn and in a week will peel off. He has 5 stitches in the back of his head and some bruising across his shoulders where he must’ve been thrown against the wall or what ever it was he hit." She looked around at the five men who surrounded her; thankful she’d gotten the tall genes in her family. "The thing we are worried about are his eyes."

The temperature in the room dropped as the five men each stood straighter tightening their stance and waiting for her to finish. "We think he may have been looking straight at the blast. Now before you start," She said holding up her hand. "No, I don’t know if the damage is permanent. At best his vision will be blurred …."

"And at worst?" Nathan asked.

"At worst, well you know we don’t like to do at worst, but with the combination of the burns and the concussion we won’t know much until he wakes up and we can ask. Right now we’ve put drops in his eyes and burn cream on his face and bandaged his eyes. We don’t want him straining when he does wake. He’ll be joining Mr. Tanner shortly. Yes we know, put them in the same room." Doctor Ryan looked around the group of worried men. "I know you’ve been through concussions before and you know what to expect, but each one is a little different. While Vin is conscious he may not remember what happened before the blast. If he doesn’t don’t push it. He’s in a lot of pain with the cracked ribs and the knee and a giant headache. So go easy on him." She smiled, "play nice and I’ll let one or two of you stay. Bother my patients and you’ll be sorry."

Buck turned up the charmed, "Now darlin’ we always play nice. But you didn’t say anything about Chris waking up."

"That’s because ‘darlin’’ we don’t know when he will wake up. Now go ask the desk nurse what room they’ll be in."

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Vin Tanner lay on the hard hospital bed trying to decide where he hurt most. The headache was almost paled by the ache in his knee. So far all the ice had done was make him cold. Hearing the door he opened his eyes carefully, trying in vain to prevent the stabbing pain from the dim light. He smiled crookedly seeing the five men almost tiptoeing into the room.

"Y’all don’t have to tip toe I’m awake sort of."

"Hell, Junior we didn’t want to disturb your beauty rest."

"Ummm. Buck how’d I get here?"

"We were kinda hoping you could tell us that. What’s the last thing you do remember?"

Vin frowned trying to recall. "I…was walking to my jeep. Chris was gonna finish some paperwork before he joined us. I was in the garage..." He hesitated speaking each word slowly. "I heard Chris shout my name and was turning…" Vin stared hard at Buck, "He shoved me behind a car, and there was a blast. Buck he knew. He knew something was gonna happen, he was trying to reach me before I got to my jeep."

Vin tried to look around the other men and started to sit up. "Where’s Chris?" Vin hissed at the pain the movement caused.

Ezra stepped closer to the bed. "Please Mr. Tanner you will only injure yourself further. Mr. Larabee has not arrived to share your room as of yet. He will be here shortly."

Vin cocked his head looking first at Ezra and then the others. "What’s wrong with him. Why ain’t he here already? "

"You lay back down and we’ll tell you all we know." Nathan reached over to help him stretch out and made sure the ice pack was where it was suppose to be.

Vin sighed in exasperation, "Buck?’"

"Well, he got a little burned from the blast."

"A little, what does that mean?"

"The doc said it was like a bad sunburn and they just greased him good."


"And what?"

"Come on Buck tell the rest, there has to be a rest."

Buck took a breath and in a rush said. "His eyes got burnt too and they put a few stitches in the back of his head and he got a concussion. They wont know how bad for a while."

Vin reached over and rubbed his sore ribs. "Damn."

"Don’t go there junior. Chris ain’t gonna be too happy about this as it is. He’s not gonna take kindly to you on a giant guilt trip. We all know how good you are at that."

"He got hurt pushing me out of the way…"

"Yeah, and he’d do it again. It’s not your fault. It’s the bastard that set the bombs’ fault," Wilmington assured him.

"Any ideas?"

"Not yet but you just lay back and let ol’ Ez tell you a tale and we’ll be right back."

Outside the room Buck grabbed JD. "Get to the office! Get into the phone logs and find the tape of Chris’ phone calls. JD, I want a copy of those tapes. Get them any way you have to. Josiah you and Nathan go down and see if you can get any information from the boys working the bomb site."

Buck watched the others leave and leaned back against the wall. Hearing again Vin’s words, "Buck he knew. He was trying to reach me before I got to my jeep." A deep unease settled over Buck, unease with a tickle of a memory. "Damn!"

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Pain, mind numbing, all consuming pain was his world. So all encompassing that trying to think words hurt. It was so dark, and he hurt. What the hell happened? Where am I? He heard movement next to him Sarah? Chris was sure he’d call out. Why didn’t she answer? He tried again, but his tongue wouldn’t work right.

Buck stood and leaned over the bed he was sure he heard Chris grown. "Hey Stud? Chris?" He watched carefully as Chris’ lips moved again. "Chris?"

Chris rasped out, "Buck?’

"Yeah, it's me. Here, have some ice chips."

"Thanks." Chris let the chips melt in his mouth "Where?"

"You’re in the hospital Stud."

Chris tried to think how he got in the hospital. Hospital? "Where’s Sarah?’’

Buck froze a spoon of ice chips poised above Chris. His eyes widened and went to Ezra, then the watching Vin, and then back to Chris.

"What did you say?"

Chris licked his lips still trying desperately not to move. "Sarah, is she still mad?"

Buck swallowed "Nah, she’s not mad at you. Why would you think that?"

"Had a fight. Drove off in my truck. Did I wreck my truck?"

"No you didn’t wreck your truck."

"Oh," Chris said groggily and was asleep again.


"I believe Mr. Larabee has fallen unconscious again." Ezra said.

Buck looked over to Ezra and Vin. "What the hell was that all about?"

Ezra’s green eyes looked from Buck to Chris and back, "I would assume that Mr. Larabee is suffering from memory loss. Not an uncommon occurrence in head trauma.

Are you aware of the incident he is referring to?"

Buck shook his head. "Maybe, I don’t know. They didn’t fight much but when they did is was Katy Bar the Door. They had a real row about two months before she died." Buck smiled at the memory. "I got to keep Adam the weekend they made up. He came back a new man.." The smile disappeared. "Sarah though that was when she got pregnant. She’d told me ‘cause she wanted to make it a surprise for Chris and she needed us to pick up Adam after school. She had an appointment to make sure. She was gonna have a special dinner for the two of them, Adam was gonna stay with his Uncle Buck. She had everything planned…." Buck stopped a wistful smile on his face that quickly turned to pain.

"Good Lord, that was the day they….."


The nurse came in and interrupted the silence. She quietly checked the ice pack on Vin’s knee and then asked. "How’s the head Mr. Tanner?"

"I’m fine."

Buck and Ezra together, "VIN…."

Glancing guiltily at the two he shrugged "ok, it hurts a bit."

"Ummm," she said looking down at his chart. "Do you want something for the pain?

"No thanks, it’s fine."

Both Buck and Ezra snorted. " Nurse Romero, he will not ask for medication. It’s best to administer it when it’s so ordered. You are new here aren’t you?"

"Yes." She answered hesitantly.

"Well Mr. Tanner is notorious for his abhorrence to medications and his reactions to the same. The more experienced staff has learned to ignore his protests and use common sense when it comes to voluntary pain relief. Dr. Ryan has dealt with Mr. Tanner before just follow her instructions and you’ll be fine."

Looking at Ezra sideways Nurse Romero went over to Chris’ bed.

Buck cleared his throat, "He came around for a few minutes."

She glanced up at Buck, "Did he talk to you?"

"Yeah but he was confused and didn’t know where he was. He seemed to be in a lot of pain. He, uh, he also was…He thought it was around four years ago."

The nurse wrote some notes on her chart and when she finished she smiled at Buck. "I wouldn’t worry with a concussion like his it’s not unusual for a patient to be disoriented. It usually doesn’t last long, but you understand he will be in a lot of pain until we know more about his injuries. We can’t give him much because we need to be able to assess his condition without the interference of any medication."

She picked up the tray she’d brought in.

"What’s that darlin’?"

The names’ Anne and I need to wash his eyes and put more drops in them."

"Ok," They all watched as she unwound the top bandage. Seeing the back of Chris’ head for the first time Buck grinned and let out a low whistle. There was a patch about two inches square that had been shaved, the black were stitches stark against the pale scalp.

"He ain’t gonna like that bald patch none. It’s a good thing he keeps his hair short."

Anne glanced up, "Well, we could just not tell him. After all it's at the back of his head."

Buck grinned as the raspy voice from the other bed piped up. "Now what would be the fun of that?"

Ezra rolled his eyes and looking skyward and pleaded silently for deliverance.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Vin lay staring at the ceiling, he’d convinced Ezra to go home but hadn’t been able to budge Buck until a few minutes ago. Buck had agreed to take a walk but refused to leave the building.

A groan came from the other bed. Vin carefully sat up and leaned toward Chris. "Chris? Chris, what’s wrong?"

A frustrated voice from the next bed came back. "I can’t open my eyes."

"Well, cowboy that cause you’ve got lots of goo sticking them shut."

"Oh," Chris slowly raised his right hand to his face. Lightly touching the bandages then letting it drop back to the bed. "Vin?"




"Where is everybody?"

"I made them go home."


"Head still hurt?"

"Feels like a jack hammer moved in. Are you hurt? Is that why you’re still here?"

"Got a twisted knee, cracked ribs. We’re room mates again."

"Oh. What the hell happened?"

"There was a bomb,"


"Chris? Chris???" Vin crawled out of his bed and hopped stumbled over toward Chris. Cowboy, don’t do this to me. He’d reached the side and was holding on the side rails and reaching out to Chris when Buck walked into the room.

"What the hell do you think you’re doing?"

Vin’s blue eyes were wide with concern as he turned from Chris to Buck and back. "He woke up and seemed just fine. He asked me what happened and I told him there was a bomb and he hollered no and then… he just wasn’t here anymore."

Buck set down the cup of coffee and putting an arm around Vin’s waist he half carried, half dragged him back to his bed. " You get back in bed, I’ll take care of it" When Vin opened his mouth to protest, Buck handed him the ice pack. "Now Junior, or I’ll call Nurse ‘Ratchet’ and she’ll give you orders."

Then he turned back to Chris. "Chris?" Buck laid a hand on Chris’ shoulder. "Chris, you awake?" But the only response was the steady breathing of a sleeping man.

"Did he know you?"

"Yeah, he was in the here and now. Maybe that other was just a one time thing."

"Maybe." Buck said doubtfully.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

THINGS, there were things on him, on his hands his face. THINGS. He had to get them off. Rub them off. Off get them off. His breath came faster as he struggled against the unknown. Jerking one way and then another little noticing the ever-increasing pain in his head and the rolling rebellion of his stomach. THINGS rubbing one hand against another in his urgency to get free. Chris didn’t feel Buck’s hands on him, didn’t hear Bucks’ and Vins’ frantic calls. He didn’t feel anything but the THINGS.

Then his stomach erupted. Bile rose and he was leaning over. With each heave he thought he was going to turn inside out. Each gasping breath made his head feel like it was splitting in two. Only when the heaving stopped did he feel the gentle hands lay him back.

Then the voice came through, "easy Pard. I got ya, lay back, it’s ok."

He felt the tip of a straw touch his lips and gratefully took a small sip.


"Yeah Chris it's me."

"Head hurts." Again his hands started their restless movement.

"Chris, be still and stop that."

"There’s things on me!" Chris sounded on the verge of panic. Why was it so dark?

"Yeah, you're in the hospital. There ain’t nothing on your hands but hospital stuff. Be still and leave it be."

"It’s dark, Buck."

"I know you have bandages over your eyes."


"You got hurt in the blast, and now you’re in the hospital. Do you remember anything?"

Chris frowned. It was hard to tell but yes, that was a frown. "No!"

Buck sighed, glanced at the silent Vin and then back at Chris. With false cheerfulness he said, "It’s ok Pard. It’ll come back to you when you’re ready. Try to go back to sleep."

Chris seemed to relax and drift off. Buck looked again at the worried sharpshooter and shook his head.

Josiah walked in and noticed the look they exchanged. "Ok, what’d I miss?"

"Not much you’d want in on."

"Unhum, Buck, JD, Ezra and Nathan are out side. They want to talk to you for a few minutes."

Buck looked down the hall and saw them waiting in the little alcove. He started to leave when Vin called. "I’m coming too."


"I’m coming Bucklin, you can help or get out of my way." Vin started sitting up.

"Ok, ok. Lets go."

Buck grabbed a wheel chair from the hall putt one-foot rest up for Vin’s leg, then settled him in and moved to join the others.

"What’ve you got?"

Ezra handed Buck a file folder "We were able to procure the preliminary results of the crime scene. By the way you never saw that. There were several interesting fragments not destroyed by the blast or the fire. These of course are at the lab as we speak."

Buck nodded and turned to JD. "Tapes?"

"Yeah," JD pulled out a small tape player. "There was only one phone call after we’d left." He paused and pushed the play button.

Buck listened with a frown to the short conversation ending with laughter. He pushed stop and rewind and listened again. "Anything?"


JD shook his head. "Not yet. The tech boys are trying to manipulate the sound. It’ll take a while."

Buck leaned back thinking, "Ok, we need a guard on Chris and Vin for the time being."

"I can take care of myself Buck." Vin said quietly.

Nathan looked around the group, "We could do it. Besides there’s no way to tell who the target was, Chris or Vin."

Buck never looked up but quietly whispered, "It’s Chris."

"How do you know Buck? There’s nothing on the tape to say so" JD frowned trying to understand Bucks reasoning.

Buck looked up at Nathan and Ezra his hand rubbing the unopened file. "They found some of the wiring didn’t they? Nothing but red and black coating right?"

Ezra moved uncomfortably, "Yes, how did you know?"

Buck sucked in a deep breath but his voice was barely audible, "cause it’s happened before."

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Vin watched as Buck slumped in the chair. "Buck? You’d better explain."

Buck looked around at each of the men, sighed and put his elbows on his knees and his head in his hand. Finally he looked up again, "Has Chris ever told any of you about the time after Sarah and Adam died?"

Each shook their head no. "Not really, bits, pieces, nothing you could string together." Vin told him.

"Ok… well, for a couple of months before they died Chris was getting these phone calls. They started off just annoying then became threatening. He had to change his home number at home a couple of times and we started taping all the calls. Didn’t do much good, the guy used a voice manipulator. We couldn’t stop them and we had no idea who it was."

"That morning I was to pick up Chris for work. Sarah’s car was in the shop and she needed to use Chris’ truck to take Adam to school and to run some errands. We were in the kitchen. Sarah was just getting ready to leave, Adam ran through the kitchen, yelling bye to us and Sarah followed him kissing Chris goodbye as she went. Just as she walked out the door the phone rang.

"Chris turned white as a sheet, dropped the phone and ran to the door. He was in the yard when I reached the door. He was screaming her name but the truck was already in flames. It was rolling slowly to the curb. Chris would have run into the flames if I hadn’t held him back. He fought me but somehow I managed to pin him down. I don’t know how but suddenly the fire department was there and some cops. Chris just sat there staring at the fire. He never moved wouldn’t speak."

Buck stopped, swallowed and went on. "We somehow got him back into the house and managed to answer all the questions. Chris was all business; he was totally in cop mode. He stayed that way. After the funeral we were at the house and the phone calls started again. They were vicious, mean spirited messages. Their sole purpose to tear Chris down, to make him hate himself."

"That’s when the drinking started?" Nathan asked.

"No the drinking started later, after…after we caught the guy."

"We of course weren’t allowed to work the case. But the whole department understood and they let Chris and I hang around on the edges of the investigation. Chris was driven. He wouldn’t take compassionate leave. He hardly slept; he’d eat only when I insisted. He closed the house and put it on the market and moved into a little one-room apartment. He’d left all their stuff in the house to go to the new owners but I went in and put most of it in storage."

"He’d steal files and read them and most of the guys would turn a blind eye to it. It took over two months but they finally got a lead from the phone calls. Chris and I were allowed to go when they went on the bust but we were supposed to stay in the background. In the car." Buck paused; remembering the horror of that day. "When we got there we were too late. It seemed no one was there and when they broke the door down…..The room was plastered with pictures of Chris and Sarah and Adam and me even. It was your worst nightmare come true. In the middle of the room was the body. He’d killed himself at least a couple of days before. He was an old bust from several years back, had gotten out six mouths before. Chris walked in and looked at everything. He just stood there clinching his fists. God, I thought he was going to attack the body. But he just stood there, didn’t say a thing….Then he turned and left. Just walked away."

"That’s when the drinking started. It was over, all the evidence pointed toward the suspect and the case was closed. Ya all know about the drinking and fighting, the bar hopping. I…I had to back away finally, but I still kept an eye on him. When the house sold I made sure he was sober enough to sign the papers and we put the money in CD’s. Otherwise he might have drunk it all. It got so bad he was suspended several times until he got pissed off and turned in his badge. Then all he did was drink and fight."

"He’d be dead from drinking or fighting today except Orrin Travis showed up with his proposition to start a special ATF team. Chris had the background, he had the clearance all he needed was a team and to sober up. That’s when he came looking for me, and then the rest of you. Somehow Orrins’ offer gave him a reason to go on."

"That tape, that phone call is just like the others four years ago." Buck looked at each of them, "We have to block all phone calls. Chris isn’t to get one unless it’s from someone we know. We have to watch out for each other. This crazy never tried to hurt Chris just people close to him. He’s already gone after Vin he could try again or go after the rest of us."

Each of the men sat in uncomfortable silence trying to absorb all the Buck had just revealed about Chris and his past. Nathan broke the spell. "Come on Vin you need to get back to bed." Without waiting for Vin’s consent Nathan wheeled him back to the room and helped him back to bed. Making sure the ice pack was back on the knee.

Josiah looked questioningly at Nathan and with a shake of the head Nathan said, " Not now."

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Vin lay still listening to the sounds of morning around him. Keeping his eyes shut, he was supposed to be asleep. He could hear the breakfast carts in the hall interspaced with the occasional snorts from the long limbed man scrunched in the chair by Chris’ bed.

He was grateful Buck could sleep some. Through out the night Chris would waken then quickly slip back into something not quite unconsciousness but not true sleep. There didn’t seem to be any dreams where Chris was, and every time he woke they would have to explain again about him being hurt and in the hospital.

The door opened. "Good morning, I’m Cathy are you awake?"

Vin opened his eyes and nodded.

"How’s the knee Vin?"

"It's fine. Don’t hurt near as much as it did. The ribs don’t either."

"That’s good. The doctor should be around after breakfast and after you eat I’ve something for the pain if you want it. Do you need another ice pack?" She asked as he checked his vitals and the tightness of the bandage on his knee."

"No thanks I’m fine."

Cathy turned to Chris’ bed. " Are you awake Chris?"

"Yeah, kinda."

"Good. Chris I’m going to change the bandages and put some drops in your eyes. " She slowly explained each step before proceeding. Once his eyes were uncovered she wiped each eye and then placed drops into them. "There now if you would Chris I’d like you to tell me what you see."

Chris thought for a moment, "It's all foggy. Just gray fog."

"That’s good Chris, now in the fog is there any difference in light and dark."

"Not really, some….maybe a little" Chris sighed. If only his head would stop pounding. "It’s hard to tell."

"That’s fine. I’m going to put some more drops in and then re-bandage your eyes. Ok?"

"Sure. Can I have something for my head? It feels as if it’s going to split in two."

"I’ll check Chris I’m sorry I know it’s hurting."

The two silent men looked at each other. Chris had asked for something for the pain. Chris hardly ever asked for anything.

Buck who was now standing by Chris’ bed felt Chris’ hand on his arm. "Buck, who else is here?"

"That’s Vin, Chris, and the nurse."

Chris frowned. "Vin?"

"Vin is a friend of ours.."

"A friend….I don’t …..What’s he doing here?"

"He got hurt when the bomb blew, just like you."

"NO!! NO!! ahhhhh." Chris grabbed his head then doubled over as his stomach heaved.

Buck grabbed the bowl and held it. "Chris? Easy Stud." When the heaving finally stopped Chris lay back weakly. Buck wiped his mouth with a cloth. "Here sip."

Vin watched helpless through it all. "I told ya. That’s exactly what happened the last time."

"Go ‘way. I’m tired…." Chris pushed Bucks’ hand away and went limp.

Cathy quickly checked the numbers beeping on the machine over Chris’ head and reached for her patient’s wrist. "He’s sleeping. Has he been sick before?"

"Yeah a couple of times. But this was the worst. He doesn’t have anything left to toss."

Cathy made notes and nodded.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Vin sat beside Chris’ bed. His leg propped up on another chair. He would stop thumbing through his ‘guns and ammo’ magazine ever so often looking up at Chris.

After two days his face had lost the red lobster look and the bandages had been reduced to eye patches. It was getting better, he hadn’t thrown up today and he was awake more. The troubling part was occasionally Chris still asked for Sarah but seemed to accept any answer they gave him. Never questioning anyone being there even when he thought Sarah was just outside the room. It was as if the two realities of Chris’ life had overlapped and become one.

Chris moved a little as he woke up.

"Hey Pard."

"Ummmm, Vin?"

"Yeah Cowboy it's me."

"What time is it?"

"Around three."


"Why Chris?"

"Just wondering if it was time for Sarah to come yet."

Vin swallowed, "No not yet Pard."



No answer.

"Head hurt?"

"A little, it’s some better."

"The Doctor said you can go home today."


"Yeah, we’ll all go out to the ranch."

Chris started rubbing his temples, "ranch? No we live, I live in town…not ranch…." The rubbing became harder and more frantic. Suddenly he stopped. "I’m tired."

"Chris, no don’t go to sleep! Damn he did it again/"

"Did what again?" Nathan asked as he came through the door.

Vin shook his head. "He fell asleep right in the middle of talking about going home." Vin stopped, " No….not home, to the ranch. It was fine until I said the ranch, not home. Then he acted like his head was hurting and said he was tired and went to sleep. Just like that. Nathan what is going on?"

"I’m not sure Vin."

"He’s not himself. He just lies there, doesn’t fight or argue. It’s scary. Chris, the real Chris should be fighting, trying to get out trying to… trying to see. But this Chris just lays there."

"I know Vin. But he’s had a lot to contend with the last two days. He’s still having headaches and if he moves around too much he looses his sense of balance. That isn’t helped by the blindness. He’s got to be scared, maybe this, it’s his way of coping. By just backing off."

"Ok, but what about all this Sarah business. It’s more then just short-term memory loss. Four years is not short term."

"I just don’t know Vin."

Interrupting them Chris’ voice sounded from the bed, "Vin?"

"I’m here Cowboy."

"Is it time to go home yet?"

"Soon Chris the doc wants to look at your eyes again before we leave."


7 7 7 7 7 7 7

The ride out to the ranch was hard on both Chris and Vin. By the time they pulled in front of the house Vin’s knee was throbbing. Chris seemed oblivious to where he was. His head screaming pain with each bump the van hit. The twists and turns of the road even more disorienting because of the bandages over his eyes, he wished it would stop.

Once the van stopped Nathan rushed around to Vin’s side. "Here now, let me help you."

"I can do it myself Nate." Vin growled as he leaned heavily on the cane he’d been given to use.

"Yeah and I aim to make sure you don’t fall on your ass and hurt that knee anymore then it already is."

Vin snorted and hobbled off.

"Damn it Vin…" Nathan said following in his wake.

Buck carefully opened the back door to the van. "Come on Stud, we’re here."

Chris turned his head to the sound of Buck’s voice and in confusion asked "Where?"

"We’re home Chris. Come on I’ll help you get inside."

Listlessly Chris walked where Buck lead him, stepping up when told and stopping when Buck stopped pulling. Once inside the dim living room, Nathan had pulled the curtains, Buck sat Chris down in his chair. "Wait here Chris while we get your bed ready."

Chris fumbled with the dark glasses; they were uncomfortable over the bandages. He wasn’t sure why he felt so strange. I wish my head would stop pounding. I wish Sarah would come home. She’d make me feel better, she’d take away the pain.

"Hey Chris, you want something to drink?" Nathan stood over him with a glass of ice water.

"Not thirsty."

"Well you need to drink some water. Come on just a little."

Chris sighed and reached for the glass but missed it. Nathan carefully put it in his hand

Chris held the glass but rested it on the arm of the chair.

"Come on Chris drink." Nathan coaxed it closer to Chris’ mouth guiding the glass so he was forced to drink or have the water spilled on him..

He sipped, and then took several good swallows before he stopped and handed it back in the general direction of Nathan. "Chris I’m setting the glass down over here on the table, ok. It’s just to your right a little."

Nathan signed and turned to his other ‘patient’. Vin had the footrest up and was rubbing his knee trying to ease the throbbing. But his eyes never left Chris. "Nate what’s wrong with him?"

"Don’t know exactly. His head’s gotta be killing him, and he’s dizzy when he moves around too much but I don’t know why he’s acting this way. He may just be disorientated from the blindness and the concussion. He may snap out of it in a few days."


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