Page 1
1 - 5
Page 2
6 - 9
Page 3
10 - 12
Page 4
13 - 15
Page 5
16 - 18

Chapter 16
Nancy stepped off the elevator and headed for ICU. Ever since she had been transferred up from the ER things were much quieter. She preferred the more intimate care she could provide her patients. She greeted her co-workers as she reviewed the cases. One was a 76-year-old gentleman recovering from heart surgery. Another was a 27-year-old that was in a coma after a beating. When she saw the name of the third patient she just shook her head. When was he gonna learn to stay out of her ICU. Nancy took his chart and walked towards the cubicle. As she expected Chris was sleeping in a God-awful position in one of the small chairs. Vin was in the bed next to him unconscious. What she hadn't expected was Vin's duplicate in the next bed. She walked over to Chris and gently shook his shoulder.

"Aw hell," Chris cursed as he woke and tried to sit up.

"That's what you get for sleeping in that back breaker."

"Nancy?" Chris asked surprised. "I thought you were an ER nurse."

"Was transferred to ICU about a month ago," she said stepping behind Chris's chair and began to knead his shoulders.

"Damn that feels good."

"I bet," Nancy laughed. "I thought I told you to keep Tanner out of this hospital."

"We try," Chris defended. "He just seems to like it here."

"What'd ya do clone him?" She asked indicating the next bed. "Not that I mind."

"Yeah, you and every other female on this planet," Chris smiled. "Long story short. This is Vin's twin Brick McKenna. He was adopted Vin wasn't. End of story."

"Jeez sounds like a bad movie of the week," Nancy chuckled. She stopped what she was doing and stepped in front of Chris. "So how did they end up here?"

"You know what it will sound like another movie of the week," Chris said shaking his head. "Twin mistaken for brother by bad guys. Brother tries rescuing twin gets shot for his troubles."

"How long has Vin known?" Nancy asked as she walked over to Vin to make sure everything was okay.

"Only a few months," Chris said standing up and stretching. "How is he?'

"He's doing good," she said as she checked the machines. "I wouldn't be surprised if he wakes soon."

"Can you tell if he's still paralyzed?"

"Now, Chris, it's only been a few hours," Nancy said in sympathy.

"Has it," Chris said bewildered. "Fells like forever."

"You're just over tired. Why don't you go home and get some real sleep."

"Can't," Chris said shaking his head as he moved closer to Vin. "How could the doctors tell since he's unconscious?"

"I'll show you." Nancy threw back the covers from Vin's feet as Chris stepped closer. "If you run a finger or a blunt object along the bottom of someone’s feet them will curl their toes from reflect. Now watch." Chris watched as she ran her gloved finger along the bottom of Vin's left foot. He wasn't surprised when nothing happened.

"How long before those anti-inflammatory drugs start working?"

"I can't give you an exact time and day, Chris," Nancy said covering Vin's feet.

"I know, I'm sorry," Chris said as he pushed Vin's unruly hair off his face.

"You know we'll take good care of him," Nancy said as she pulled off the gloves and threw them in the garbage. She grabbed another pair and pulled them on as she walked over to Brick.

"I know," Chris said and leaned down towards Vin. "Hey Vin, I'm just going over to see Brick. I won't be far away."

Nancy smiled as she watched Chris pat Vin's shoulder then join her at Brick's side. Brick's condition hadn't changed. He showed no reaction to stimuli. Nancy checked the bandage covering Brick's wound. It needed to be changed and she went to get the supplies. Chris gave her a hand holding Brick up as she removed the old bandages and cleaned the wound. It was the first time Chris had gotten a look at it and he wasn’t surprised Brick was in a coma. It was a huge lump and cut that was held closed with about twelve staples. As they were settling Brick they heard a moan from Vin.

"See I told you he'd be waking up soon."

Chris walked over to Vin's bed. "Hey Vin, come on open your eyes." Chris watched as Vin tried to do as he said. Chris's patience was rewarded as two very unfocused blues eyes opened. "About time you woke up."

Vin blinked several times as he tried to focus. "Chris?"

"Yeah it's me," Chris smiled. "You're in the hospital."

Chris watched as Vin started to become more aware of his surroundings. As he did Vin started to become agitated as he began to remember what happened.

"Brick!" Vin yelled as he tried to sit up. He cried out from the excruciating pain as Chris held him in place.

"Calm down, Vin!" Chris commanded.

"This will help," Nancy said as she gave Vin a dose of morphine from the pump attached to his IV.

"Brick," Vin said piteously.

"Vin listen to me," Chris said as he grabbed either side of Vin's face and wiped the tears from Vin's cheeks with his thumbs. "Brick's here. You found him. Do you understand?"

Vin began to calm as Chris continued to talk to him. Chris carefully sat on the bed and kept contact with Vin until the younger man became more lucid.

"You with me now?" Chris asked smiling. Vin nodded. "Now look to your right."

Vin still didn't seem to be processing information quickly and Chris turned Vin's head to the right. Vin blinked several times as he focused on Brick.

"How bad?" Vin asked weakly.

"He's unconscious," Chris said deliberately leaving out that Brick was in a coma. "Hit his head pretty hard on the concrete floor."

"Protecting him," Vin sighed as he raised his hand to rub his eyes. "Didn't do very good."

"You did fine Vin," Chris said.

"Chris, why are my legs strapped down?" Vin asked.

"Vin do you remember what happened?" Chris asked avoiding the question for the moment.

"Yeah," Vin said wearily. "Found Brick but LeBroc came back before I could free him. We got into a fight."

"He hit you with a pipe across your back?"

"Reckon it was a pipe," Vin said confused. "All I know is it hurt like a son of a bitch."

"When he hit you it wrenched your back and put pressure on your spine," Chris said. "There's a lot of swelling."

"What are you tryin' to tell me Chris?"

"You're paralyzed from the waist down."

+ + + + + + +

JD had volunteered to get Jack from the airport. He reasoned that Jack probably wouldn't hit him. Buck laughed and said he wasn't so sure. Buck had offered to come along but JD said it wasn't necessary. As he stood waiting by luggage claim he ran through his mind what to say to Jack. Hey Jack how ya doing? By the way Brick's in a coma. JD just shook his head then pushed the long bangs away from his eyes. He saw Jack and walked towards him.

"Jack!" JD called.

"So they were afraid to face me," Jack concluded.

"No I volunteered," JD said. "Do you have any bags to get?"

"No just this carry on," jack answered. "How's Brick?"

"Not too good I'm afraid," JD said as he led Jack to the parking garage. "Don't really know how to tell you."

"Just spit it out son."

"Brick's in a coma."

"I see," Jack said quietly.

"Here's the truck," JD said indicating the old green pick up.

Jack threw his bag in the back and climbed into the passenger’s seat as JD got behind the wheel.

"I just have one question," Jack said angrily. "Where the hell was Vin!"

JD took his hands away from the keys and turned to Jack. "None of this was Vin's fault!" JD said angrily. "He saved Brick's life. If Vin hadn't taken the bullet Brick would be dead."

"Bullet?" Jack said confused. "JD what are you talking about?"

"Didn't Chris tell you?"

"Our conversation was rather short," Jack admitted.

"I'll explain on the way to the hospital," JD said as he turned the ignition.

Half-hour later JD was pulling into the garage at the hospital. Jack got out of the truck and grabbed his bag. He threw it on the seat and closed the door. The others had been smart to send JD. Jack had listened to JD without getting mad. He was sure that if it had been Chris they would have come to blows. JD felt bad about not figuring things out quicker but Jack assured him that in the end what JD had done saved both Vin and Brick. Jack knew JD hadn't thought about it that way but when JD realized Jack was right he smiled. JD led him to the elevator and they headed for the fourth floor. As they stepped off the elevator they saw the rest of the team sitting in the waiting room.

"Where's Brick?" Jack asked.

"I'll take you to him," Josiah said and led Jack away.

"Well I see you are still in one piece Mr. Dunne," Ezra commented.

"Jack was cool after I explained what happened," JD said. "He's really worried about both of them."

"It's tough to see your kid in the hospital," Buck said.

"I just hope he's not still mad at Chris," JD said.

"You and me both," Buck sighed. "If he is we could have a problem."

Jack followed Josiah into the cubicle where Vin and Brick were. Chris was sitting with Vin. Jack could see Vin was awake but seemed to be ignoring Chris.

"He still not listening to you?" Josiah asked.

"The doctor told him the paralysis might not b permanent but Vin’s not listening," Chris said. "He thinks it’s what he deserves."

"That’s bull shit!" Josiah said.

"Yeah well, tell that to the bull headed Texan," Chris agreed.

"What's the problem?" Jack asked.

"I told him about Brick," Chris said.

"Real smart Larabee!" Jack said angrily. "Just add to his worries why don't you. You are the most irresponsible person I know. My son comes to visit and gets kidnapped."

"And how is that my fault?" Chris said defensively.

"You're the cop!" Jack yelled.

The nurse came in to warn them that if they couldn't keep their voices down they would have to leave. Josiah said they would and she left. He tried to reason with Jack and Chris but they were like two pit bulls marking their territory. The argument continued each of them saying things that hit too close to home.

"Get out."

"Vin?" Chris said and abandoned his argument with Jack.

"I said get out!"

"Take it easy, Vin," Josiah said.

"No!" Vin said angrily. "I should never have gone looking for Brick. We were both better off not knowing. Now he's dying and it all my fault."

"Vin, it's not your fault," Chris said and went to touch Vin's shoulder.

"Leave me alone!" Vin shouted and brushed Chris's hand away.

"Calm down, Vin," Jack added as he moved closer.

Vin started to become more agitated and the machines monitoring his vitals started to go off. The nurse came in and saw the state Vin was in and told them all to get out. Chris tried again to comfort Vin but the younger man just started screaming for Chris to get away from him. Josiah pulled both Jack and Chris out of the room. Chris watched helplessly as the nurse tried to calm Vin. She was finally forced to sedate him. When Vin realized what she was going to do he ripped out his IV and started fighting her. Chris went to rush in and Josiah grabbed his arm.

"No, Chris."

"God, Josiah, I can't leave him like that."

"This was bound to happen eventually," Josiah said as they watched reinforcements come in to help with Vin. "He's frustrated that he can't do anything for Brick."

"I didn't realize how much he cared," Jack said as the sedative was finally administered and Vin quieted.

"You didn't think he did?" Chris asked confused.

"He's only known Brick a few months," Jack said.

"Vin’s his brother," Chris said angrily.

"Chris let's not get started again," Josiah warned.

"Yes let's not," Nancy said angrily. "Just what do you think you were doing in there?"

"Being stupid," Chris said. "It won't happen again."

"It better damned well not!" she retorted. "Or you won't be going back in there at all!"

"Can I see my son?" Jack asked.

"And you are?" Nancy asked suspiciously.

"Jack McKenna."

"If you can keep a civil tone then yes," she said and led Jack into the ICU.

They all watched as Nancy stood guard over Vin when Jack tried to check on him. She pointed to Brick as she turned her back and slid over the drape to separate Vin from Brick. As she disappeared behind the curtain Jack sat next to Brick. Chris turned away and dropped on the couch.

"What the hell were you doing in there?" Nathan asked.

"Don’t start with me Nathan," Chris warned.

"Easy off, Nathan," Josiah said. "I believe Chris realizes what he’s done."

"From what we heard Vin is still blaming himself for this isn’t he?" JD asked.

"Yeah," Chris said rubbing his eyes. "Told me he should be the one in the coma and not Brick."

"Hell and he doesn’t think being paralyzed is enough?" Buck said.

"Said he deserves it."

"Vin is frustrated," Ezra said. "He thinks he’s failed and now that he’s paralyzed he feels useless."

"He won’t eat," Chris said looking at Nathan.

"Vin only woke up this morning," Nathan said. "Let’s not start worrying yet."

"Chris," Jack said as he walked over. "I think it might be best if I took Brick home with me."

"What!" Chris said jumping to his feet.

"I can’t take care of him here," Jack said angrily. "It’s too far away. I have groups coming in next week. If I cancel them I won’t be able to pay for Brick’s care. Besides he should be with family."

"God dammit he is!" Chris shouted.

"Mr. Larabee!" Nancy warned. "One more out burst and I call security."

"Don’t worry, darlin’," Buck said. "We're taking them down to the cafeteria."

Buck grabbed Chris and pulled him towards the elevator. Ezra made sure Jack went as well. The doors to the elevator opened and the stepped inside. As they were closing Nancy could here Chris and Brick’s father yelling at each other. She just hoped she didn’t end up with two more patients on her ward.

Chapter 17

After sitting in the cafeteria for a few hours both Chris and Jack came to a reluctant truce. Josiah convinced the two of them that the only reason they were snapping at each was because they both wanted what was best for Vin and Brick. Jack still wanted to take Brick back to Oregon with him but Nathan said it might not be possible in his condition. While they were there they had some lunch then headed back to ICU. As they stepped of the elevator they could see Dr. Peterson checking Vin. Nancy saw them and came over.

"Well I'm glad to see the two of you didn't end up as patients," she said indicating Chris and Jack.

"It was close," Chris admitted. "But cooler heads prevailed."

"Yeah," JD piped up. "Josiah threatened to take them both outside and shot them."

"I suppose that would have worked," Nancy admitted. "But think of all that paper work."

"I said the same thing dear lady," Ezra smiled. "So I suggested disposing of the bodies in the lake and not saying anything."

"Good idea," she smiled. "I'll let Dr. Peterson know you're here."

Nancy left and entered Vin's cubicle. Dr. Peterson had Vin on his stomach checking the incision and the bruising on his back. When he was done examining Vin he wrote something on Vin's chart and handed it to Nancy. She told him Vin's friends were waiting outside.

"They're still here?" he asked surprised.

"Chris never left."

"I see," he smiled. "I better go talk with them."

"Have fun," Nancy laughed.

"Thanks," he scowled and walked out. As he approached the waiting room he became the attention of seven determined men. "Good morning Mr. Larabee."

"Dr. Peterson," Chris said shaking his hand. "How's Vin doing?'

"He's doing fine," the doctor said. "The incision looks good. I'm going to send him down for a MRI to get a better look at his back. Since he's already sedated."

"Wanted to talk to you about something else," Chris admitted.

"What. Vin's behavior?" Dr. Peterson chuckled. "Believe me if he wasn't acting like this I'd be worried. He only woke this morning and had a lot of things explained to him. It's only normal for him to be frustrated."

"I suppose your right," Chris reluctantly agreed. "Maybe I shouldn't have told him about Brick."

"Vin isn't stupid he would have figured something was wrong."

"He's right Chris," Buck agreed. "Then Vin would have been mad 'cause you didn't tell him."

"So we won't worry about Vin's bad mood right now," Dr. Peterson said as he looked at his watch. "Well I have to get back to my rounds."

"Doctor what about Brick?" Jack asked.

"He's one of Dr. Lawrence’s patients. He should be coming soon to check on Brick."

"Thank you," Jack said.

The doctor left and they watched as the nurses got Vin ready to go for the MRI. As the gurney was being pushed out the door they all got their first glimpse at Vin's back. It was a livid shade of purple that spread along Vin's lower back.

"Damn," JD said as they went back to the waiting room. "That looks really bad."

"Well, Nathan?" Josiah asked.

"It's not good," Nathan said. "All that bruising is part of the problem. Hopefully as it heals Vin will get the feeling back in his legs."

As they were talking Chris noticed Dr. Lawrence step off the elevator. He walked into ICU and over to Brick. Jack got up to go in as well but Chris stopped him. He explained that the doctors didn't usually want anybody around when they examined a patient. Jack began to pace while they waited for the doctor to finish. Ten minutes later the doctor came put and walked over to the waiting area.

"Hello Mr. McKenna," he said holding out his hand.

"Hi," Jack said shaking his hand. "Well?"

"It's still to early to tell," Dr. Lawrence said. "His brain waves are good and so are his vitals. I'd be worried if there was any change in those."

"I'd like to take him back to Oregon with me."

"I would strongly advise against that," Dr. Lawrence said earnestly. "Brick is still considered in serious condition. The trauma of being moved that long a distance might do more harm."

"I understand," Jack said reluctantly.

"He'll be in very good hands here," the doctor assured him. "His brother is here also. Which would probably be good for Brick. Well I have to get back to rounds."

"Why don't you all go home," she suggested. "Vin will sleep for most of the day."

"We’ll stay," Chris said and the others agreed.

"Suit yourselves," she said shaking her head.

+ + + + + + +

For the next two days they each took turns spending time at the hospital. Bricks condition hadn't changed but Vin was becoming more withdrawn. He refused to eat and wouldn't talk to any of them. Or if he did say anything it was usually to tell them to go away. Chris was becoming frustrated. Dr. Peterson still wasn't worried. He wasn't happy about Vin refusing to eat but there were things they could do to keep Vin from starving himself. The doctor also decided that it was time Vin started on physical therapy. Nancy was on duty when she saw Darla walking towards the ICU.

"Morning, Darla," Nancy said. "Let me guess you get Vin Tanner as one of yours."

"Yup," Darla smiled. "Hear he's a stubborn one."

"Stubborn as they come," Nancy laughed. "Come on I'll introduce you."

Nancy led Darla over to Vin's cubicle. Vin was staring up at the ceiling. "Morning Vin. Looks like you have company for the morning."

"Morning, Vin, I'm Darla." Vin continued to ignore them and Darla turned to Nancy. "This should be fun."

"Good luck," she laughed and went back to the nurse’s station.

Darla walked over to the bed and placed her bag on the small table. She knew Vin's background and could understand his behavior towards his paralysis. She’d seen it before. Vin didn’t even acknowledge she was there.

"Hello, Mr., Tanner," Darla said cheerfully. "I’m here to give you a work out." She waited for a response but didn’t expect one. "Oh the silent type. Well I can deal with that. I could probably talk enough for the both of us. Have you seen the new Bond movie? No? Neither have I, but I did see Harry Potter and the Chamber of secrets. It’s not like I had a choice…"

Vin listened as Darla continued talking. If she expected him to answer she was mistaken. Vin didn’t want to talk to anybody. He wasn’t hungry, he was tired of everyone hovering he just wanted to be left alone. Apparently Darla wasn’t going to do that. Vin tired to ignore her as she threw the covers off his legs and began to massage the right one. As she did she turned and bent and manipulated his leg to exercise it. When she bent his knee and pushed his leg towards his abdomen he gave a hiss of pain.

"Did that pull on the incision?"

"Yeah," Vin admitted.

"Okay I’ll go more careful when I flex your leg all the way."

Vin had hoped she would stop but obviously Darla enjoyed her job. She tortured his right leg for twenty minutes before starting on his left. Vin closed his eyes and tried to ignore her. Except there was something wrong. His leg was starting to hurt. But that was impossible they said he was paralyzed. The pain was starting to get worse. His calf muscle was really starting to hurt.

"Stop please!" Vin yelled.

"What is it Vin, What’s wrong?" Darla asked as she straightened out his leg.

"Muscle cramp," Vin hissed. "Calf."

"Hold on Vin," Darla said as she began to knead the muscle of his calf. "Can you feel his?"

"The muscles feels tight," Vin said warily.

"No can you feel my hands?"

Vin concentrated but shook his head no. Darla did something drastic and dug her nails in as she squeezed the muscle.

"Ouch!" Vin protested.

"Vin I want you to try something for me," Darla said as she took her hands away. "Try to wiggle the toes on your left foot."

Vin was starting to get excited. Maybe the doctor was right and it was only temporary. He was about to try when he glanced over at Brick. Brick was still lying lifeless in he bed next to him. If he began to get feelings back they would move him away from Brick. They had said they were going to do that earlier and that’s when he decided to stop eating. He had to stay with Brick. Vin heard Darla encouraging him to try and he pretended to. When she saw nothing was happening she told him not to worry that the cramp was a good sign. After she finished exercising his legs she turned him on his back and gave him a rub down. Vin had to admit it felt good except when she hit a tender spot. When she was finished she left Vin lying on his stomach and told him she’d be back tomorrow. Vin waited to make sure she was gone before he tried to move his toes. HE was rewarded with his big toe scrapping slightly across the bed. Vin let out the breath he was holding then turned to face Brick. There had to be something he could do. He hadn’t realized the workout had tired him so much and he drifted to sleep.

Jack walked into ICU and saw Vin was sleeping. The sheet had slipped down and Jack pulled it higher across Vin’s back. He turned to Brick’s bed and sighed. This was going to be the toughest thing he’d ever done. He had to leave Brick here and trust that Chris and the others would watch over him. Jack knew that he didn’t always tell his son how much he loved him but he hoped Brick knew it. He’d just never been the type to say it.

"Hey, Brick," Jack said as he sat in the chair next to the bed. "I have to head back to Oregon. You’ll be fine here with Vin. I know they will take care of you. Don’t you worry about a thing. I’ll make sure Cass stays away from your Mustang. Now you do what the doctors tell ya and don’t give them a hard time or I’ll come back and whip your butt."

Vin came awake as soon as he felt the sheet being pulled up. He’d never been a heavy sleeper and here in the hospital he hardly slept at all. He watched as Jack talk with Brick. The relationship between Jack and Brick was an odd one. For instance Brick never called Jack dad. Instead he called him Jack. Vin didn’t understand this but it seemed to work for them. Vin didn’t want to eavesdrop but it was hard when the beds were so close. He was surprised when Jack said he had to go back to Oregon. He thought for sure he would stay. Vin listened as Jack explained to Brick why he had to go. Their only form of income was what the ranch brought in and with out Jack there they couldn’t book and guided trips. Vin was surprised when Jack said Brick was in good hands with Vin then kissed Brick before he stood up. Jack turned to leave and noticed Vin was watching him.

"Hello son," Jack said and came over towards the bed. "I guess you heard."

"Yeah," Vin admitted. "Do you really have to go?"

"I do," Jack said nodding. "Think you can do me a favor?"

"I can’t watch Brick," Vin said quickly.

"Why not?"

"Because I did this to him!" Vin yelled and punched the bed with his fist.

"Vin listen to me," Jack said as he stooped Vin’s fist from hitting the bed. "You didn’t do this."

"I did," Vin insisted and tried to turn away which wasn’t easy to do while lying on your stomach

"Oh no you don’t," Jack said as he grabbed Vin’s head. "Now you listen to me. That mad man that kidnapped him is responsible for this not you."

"But if Brick hadn’t come," Vin insisted.

"It was his choice," Jack said smoothing Vin’s hair. "He wanted to see his brother. Now are you going to watch him for me or not?"

Vin reluctantly nodded and Jack nodded his head in satisfaction. Jack leaned over and kissed Vin good bye. Vin had been surprised by that and watched as Jack headed out the door. Vin lay there staring at Brick and silently promised he wouldn’t let Jack down.

Chapter 18

Chris fumed as he drove to the hospital. Vin's attitude was starting to piss him off. In the beginning Chris let it slide because so much had been going on. Now Vin was just being stubborn. Chris knew he was worried about Brick. They all were but Vin's way of dealing with Brick's injury were self-destructive. Chris talked with Vin's physical therapist and she told him that Vin wasn't putting any effort into the sessions. She also told him she suspected Vin was getting some feeling back. Dr. Peterson said the swelling was going down as well. So Chris had decided he'd had enough. He was going to talk some sense into his stubborn friend. He pulled into the parking area and found a spot. As he walked into the hospital people just seemed to move out of his way. Buck called it the Larabee glare force field. It made people want to avoid Chris if they could. As he stepped off the elevator he noticed Nancy at the nurses station. The women always seemed to be here. As he approached she looked up.

"Uh oh," she said when she saw him. "Someone’s in trouble."

"Yeah one of your patients."

"The one with the long hair?"

"That would be the one."

"Well try not to yell too much," She smiled. "There are other patients in ICU."

"So you aren't going to stop me?" Chris asked surprised.

"Not this time," she said seriously. "I think Vin has been wallowing in guilt long enough. Besides Dr. Peterson is ready to put a feeding tube in if he doesn't start to eat."

"Would serve him right," Chris said. "But don't worry he'll see reason when I'm finished with him."

"Good," she laughed. "Just don't shoot him."

"Didn't bring my gun with me," Chris said. "Figured it was safer that way."

Chris walked into the area Vin shared with Brick. Vin saw him and sensed his mood. Chris wasn't surprised when Vin stared at him defiantly. Chris by passed Vin and went to say hello to Brick.

"Hey, Brick. Jack called last night to say he got back ok. He asked about you. Now I don't want you to get alarmed if you hear some yelling. Vin and I are going to have a little talk."

Chris turned to Vin and walked over. A food tray sat on the table un-touched.

"You know, Tanner, your attitude is really starting to piss me off."

"Yeah, well, if you don't like it you don't have to come."

"That's where your wrong," Chris said. "I do have to come so I can kick your ass."

"Yeah real brave," Vin sneered. "Picking on someone that can't fight back."

"Oh I think you can," Chris said. "I've been talking to Darla." Chris was surprised when Vin gave him a panicked look. He wasn't sure what it meant but he'd question it later. "She tells me that you are getting some feeling in your legs."

"She's crazy," Vin disagreed. "Ya think I want to be here?"

"I don't know Vin you tell me," Chris argued. "You’re the one not eating or even trying to improve your injuries."

"Like I got a choice in all this!"

"Yeah you do!" Chris said angrily. "You can chose to get better so you can help Brick or you can lay here feeling sorry for yourself which doesn't help Brick at all."

"You know I'd do anything for him!" Vin yelled.

"Oh really?"

He heard arguing. He couldn't make out the words but whoever it was they sure were mad at each other. When he heard his brother name he knew it must be Chris arguing with Vin. But what the heck could get them so mad? Made he better say something. Brick opened his eyes and blinked. He wasn't exactly sure where he was but it didn't matter. Vin and Chris were best friends and he had to get them to stop fighting. He turned his head and saw Vin lying in a bed with Chris standing next to him. They were both yelling at each other.

"Wanna keep it down. Some people are trying to sleep."

The argument stopped so suddenly that Brick wondered if he had dreamed the whole thing. Chris turned to him and stared.

"What?" Brick asked. "Do I have drool on my face."

"Brick!" Vin yelled and tried to get out of the bed.

"Oh no you don't!" Chris said grabbing Vin and pushing him back. "You stay put."

"Let me go!" Vin argued.

"Go on over to Brick, Chris." Nancy said stepping into the cubicle. "I'll sit on this one. I've called for Dr. Lawrence"

"What's going on?" Brick asked. He tried to sit up and gasped from the pain of his broken ribs.

"Easy Brick," Chris said. "Let's wait for the doctor to get here."

"How'd I get here?" Brick asked as Chris sat on the bed next to him. "How come Vin's hurt? What’s going on?"

"Relax," Chris said as he grabbed Brick's shoulder and pushed him down on the bed. "What's the last thing you remember?"

Brick stared at Chris and tried to remember. Everything seemed a little fuzzy. "I remember that guy kidnapping me. He thought I was Vin."

"That's good," Chris said and let go when he realized Brick wasn't going to fight him. "Anything else."

"He made a video of me?" Brick asked unsure if he was recalling everything right.

"Yup he did," Chris said. He heard the doctor walk in and went to get up.

"No keep going Chris," Dr. Lawrence said.

"Anything else?"

Brick bit his lip as he tried to remember. He knew he'd been beat up and it was damp in the warehouse. Also that it was dark. Scenes flashed in his head of the video camera and the beatings then sitting in the dark alone. Until he heard a sound behind him and when he turned his brother was there.

"Vin!" Brick cried.

"Easy, Brick," Chris said grabbing Brick before he could get up.

"Let me go!" Vin yelled and struggled with Nancy. "Ow!"

"Serves you right," she said without sympathy. "Now be still."

"Vin was there, then LeBroc came back before he got me free," Brick said in a rush. "There was a struggle. But I don't remember any more."

"It's alright, Brick," Dr. Lawrence assured him. "Short term memory lose isn't uncommon with a concussion. But I do need to ask you a few things."

"Alright," Brick said unsure.

Chris got up and Dr. Lawrence moved in to check Brick over. The doctor shined a light in Brick's eyes as he asked him questions. Such as Brick's full name what year it was and other trivial things. Chris moved back over to Vin's bed and relieved Nancy.

"Well now that Brick's awake let just see how much you can do," Nancy said as she threw the covers of Vin's feet and ran her fingernails along the bottom of his feet.

"Hey!" Vin protested and pulled away. When he did it caused a twinge in his back. "Ow!"

"Serves you right," Nancy smiled. "Now wiggle your toes."

"I've been trying," Vin admitted. "But it hurts my back."

"Give it try," Nancy encouraged.

Chris watched as Vin concentrated and moved the toes on both his feet. "Damn it, Vin, why didn't you say something!" Vin shrugged but didn't answer.

"I think it was because of Brick," Nancy said. "If Vin was improving we would have moved him out of here. Which we will have to do."

"No!" Vin protested. "I promised Jack I would watch him."

"Don't worry Brick won't be staying here either," Dr. Lawrence said.

"How is he?" Chris asked.

"Except for recent memory lose he's fine."

"But he was in a coma," Vin asked confused.

"Some people come out of their coma like they were just sleeping," Dr. Lawrence explained. "The brain is something we still know very little about. We're going to keep Brick at the hospital a little longer just to make sure. But there's no reason for him to stay in ICU."

"I'll start looking for a double room for both of them," Nancy said as she walked out.

"After Brick is settled in the new room I'll come check on him again," Dr. Lawrence said as he followed Nancy out.

"Man, my head hurts," Brick complained.

"That's what happens when you hit cement," Chris smiled.

"What happened?" Brick asked turning to Vin.

"Came looking for ya," Vin said. "Found ya in one of the abandoned warehouses. LeBroc was gonna shot ya so I pushed you out of the way. Didn't expect ya to hit your head."

"That’s it?" Brick asked.

"No that’s just the Vin Tanner short version," Chris answered. "First off Vin went rogue on me and went looking for you himself. Stole the tape from the FBI. Turned in his badge then got a friend to rework the tape because he had seen something on it but didn't tell anybody. You’re just lucky JD saw the same thing and is a whiz with computers."

"Yeah I owe him," Vin agreed.

"So after he figures out which warehouse he plays Lone Ranger and goes after you himself," Chris continued. "LeBroc did try to shoot you but Vin pushed you out of the way and took the bullet."

"You were shot because of me!" Brick exclaimed then winced.

"Well you were kidnapped and beat because of me," Vin replied.

"How bad?" Brick asked.

"I've had worse.""Come on, Vin, you’re not telling me something."

"Ain't nothing."

"Quit trying to protect him," Chris grumbled. "He's going to find out soon enough."

"Yeah quit protecting me," Brick sighed.

"Can't feel my legs," Vin admitted reluctantly. "LeBroc hit me with a pipe across my back. Then when I jumped in front of you I wrenched it. Don't rightly understand all the medical mumbo jumbo but the doc's sure once the swelling goes down I'll be okay."

"Shit," Brick said and rubbed his hand across his forehead.

"Why don't I leave the two of you alone for a bit," Chris said. He knew they both needed to get thing out in the open that wouldn't be said while he was there.

After Chris left they were both quiet for awhile. Neither one knew what to say. This was all new for the both of them. Well maybe not for Brick. He'd had Guy to protect him when he was younger. He had to admit it was nice knowing he had a brother again that was there for him. Vin glanced at Brick and could see he was smiling. He didn't know why but it was just good to see him awake. Vin sighed and Brick turned to him. Their eyes met and they said in unison.

"I'm sorry."

"What are you sorry for?" Vin asked.

"That I was stupid enough to get kidnapped," Brick answered. "What about you."

"That I didn't find you faster."

"Well looks like were even then."

"Well I don't know," Vin considered. "I did take a bullet for you."

"Never asked you too," Brick smiled. "That was your idea."

"Yup reckon it was," Vin admitted. "I’d do it again too.""I know you would," Brick said seriously. "And it means a lot to me.""Guess it's what brothers do," Vin shrugged.

"Thanks, Vin," Brick said and reached his hand towards his brother.

"Anytime, Squirt," Vin smiled and held out his hand.

Chris watched from the window as they both held out their hand towards each other. The beds weren't close enough for them to take a good grip on each other and Chris was afraid they would both hurt themselves if they reached too far. Chris was about to go in and stop them but saw that Brick and Vin were content with their fingers curling around each other. They both smiled then let go. Brick closed his eyes and soon fell asleep. Vin watched Brick for a few minutes and Chris could see the tension leave Vin's body as he realized his brother would be okay. Chris wasn't surprised when Vin fell asleep a few minutes later. He went to the waiting area and pulled out his phone to call the others. Chris just hoped Brick wasn’t as cantankerous as Vin when he was sick. If he was Chris might be forced to shoot them both. Chris dialed the phone and held it to his ear.

"Buck, I've got some great news."


Brick sat in a wheelchair at the opposite end of the parallel bars. He watched as Chris helped Vin stand then stepped behind Vin. Darla, Vin's physical therapist, was standing next to him on the other side of the bars. Over the past week Vin was gaining more and more feeling in his legs as the swelling from his back injury decreased. Brick was still at the hospital because he was still having really bad headaches but they were starting to go away. He watched as Vin took hold of the bars and started walking towards him.

"Jeez is that the best you can do?"

"Sometimes I wonder why I saved you."

"Because I'm so cute?"

"Hell you ain't cute. I'm the cute one."

"You're both cute." Darla threw in and Brick laughed when he saw his brother blush.

"What the hell you laughing at?" Vin asked.

"You," Brick answered. "You walk like an old man."

"Yeah well I was injured saving some sorry ass brother of mine."

"Oh please. The way Buck tells it you and JD keep the HMO's in business. So don't go blaming me you got hurt."

Chris just shook his head as he listened to the two of them bicker. He knew why Brick was doing it and Chris was glad he was there. Vin felt self-conscious doing these exercises and with Brick teasing him he forgot he was doing them. Darla smiled at Chris as he walked behind Vin. Half the time Vin would forget to use the bars as he argued with Brick and Chris would keep a close eye on him. Darla noticed also and decided to try something else.

"Vin I think we've done enough with the parallel bars," Darla said. "Why don't we try something else."

"Alright," Vin agreed and Chris helped him back into his wheelchair.

"Come on over here," Darla said and led them over to a soft mat covering the floor. "We're going to try using the canes today."

Darla went to the closet and got two canes. They were the metal type with the cuffs to go around the forearm and hand holds. She could see Vin wasn't that happy with them.

"Go on, Vin, take them," Brick encouraged. "They won't bite."

Vin reluctantly took them and Chris helped him stand. Darla called Brick over to help as well. Brick hadn’t had one of his headaches in a couple of days and the doctor was willing to let him go soon. Vin was also being released soon but he’d still have to come back for physical therapy. Darla had them walk on either side of Vin while he staggered between the crutches. They were doing well until Vin took a wrong step. Chris and Brick both went to keep him from falling and the next thing Darla knew is they were all on the floor in a tangled heap.

"Great job of helping me," Vin grumbled as he sat up.

"You’re welcome," Brick said as he gingerly sat up holding his ribs.

"You shouldn’t even be doing this with those broken ribs," Vin said poking Brick.

"Well I don’t think Darla expected you to fall on me," Brick said poking back.

"Falling on who?" Chris asked from the bottom of the pile.

"Ya think we could have landed on the mat it would have been softer," Vin remarked.

Darla smiled at the good-natured bantering. She walked over and looked down at them. "My, my just what I’ve always wanted. Three good looking guys falling at my feet."

"What do you mean three I only see one here," Brick said.

"What are you talking about we look exactly alike," Vin said.

"No we don’t," Brick disagreed.

"We do too."

"No we don’t."

Chris shook his head and stood up. Darla smiled as Brick explained to Vin what was different about them. The only thing he could come up with was the fact that their hair was a different length and they had different last names.

"It’s good to see them like this," Darla commented.

"Yeah," Chris agreed. "They are starting to bicker and act like real brothers."

"Well I better get them both up off the floor before the hospital wonders what the heck I’m doing."

Chris watched as she first got Brick up and back to his wheelchair. Brick laughed and said Darla liked him better. Vin argued and said that Brick just needed more help than he did. Chris smiled as he listened to the two of them. He knew no matter what happened they would always be there for each other. And that’s what brothers were for.


Comments to: