The Call of the Wild

by Annie

Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5 | Page 6

They continued forward, hard as it was with mud-caked, clammy, stiffening clothing.

Vin wavered in and out, talking but not making a whole lot of sense most of the time. Chris and Ezra didn't pay his disjointed ramblings much attention, just offered encouragement enough to keep him upright and awake and above all moving forward until they could manage to stop and call for help.

"Train up 'head?" Vin asked.

"No train, Vin," Chris answered.

"Goin' fishin'?" Vin asked then, his words somewhat slurred.

"Yeah, Vin. Fishing," Chris told him. Again.

"M' head hurts, Chris."

"I know, Vin. I know."

"Why's m' head hurt?"

"You fell," Ezra told him. Again.


"You fell and hit your head."

"That why it hurts?"

"Amazingly, yes."

"Shhh...scarin' the fish," Vin murmured then, "sneak up on 'em..." and he nodded as if to himself and suddenly slipped further down.

"Vin?" Ezra bit back a groan when Vin's lax weight threatened to drag them all down to the ground. His shoulder screamed a protest and renewed beads of sweat ran tiny rivulets down his face, but he pulled Vin more upright and propelled him forward in the dark. He glanced over at Chris who was struggling to brace up the other side of the wet and muddy sharpshooter. "I do believe our Mr. Tanner could stand to drop a pound or two."

Chris grunted. "It is amazing how someone so slight can be so heavy." Vin was barely keeping his own feet and he and Ezra were bearing the brunt of most of his weight.

"What's amazing is he doesn't weigh three hundred pounds the way he eats."

"Like a horse."

"Horse?" Vin asked, his head raising up slightly.

"I could eat a horse," Chris commented, feeling the rumblings of his own stomach.

"I wish I had a horse right now," Ezra added and shifted Vin a little more off to one side as he peered through the dark toward the faint light that flickered in the distance. The leaves would shift and the light seemed to almost blink behind them. No, not blink, he thought. Wink. As if mocking him.


"No, Vin. No cow. I said 'now'."

"Owl?" Vin offered softly, eyes closing but head tilted at an odd angle as though trying to listen for something.

Ezra rolled his eyes at Vin's confusion. "Oh, please let him remember this conversation later."

It wasn't that the light seen through the woods was that far away, it just seemed that way. And it wasn't they weren't making progress toward it, that just seemed that way, too.

On and on they stumbled through the dark, each of the three holding onto one another, holding up one another, as they tried to hold up themselves as well.

It was a struggle.

"This is insane."

"How ya doing there, Ezra?" The minute the words left his mouth, Chris winced with the realization that Ezra was going to tell him.

"How am I doing? How am I doing...let's see... I'm hot, I'm tired and I'm sore. I have blisters, I'm hungry, I'm thirsty and I'm absolutely as filthy as I can ever recall being, not to mention, my jacket is completely ruined. Ruined! And I've been walking in the near pitch for what feels like, and certainly must be hours...has to be hours...and yet still I am mocked by that light in the distance. Forever in the distance. Winking at me though the trees."

"Winking at you?'

"As though Mr. Tanner, himself, had power over the thing."

"You're delirious, Ezra."

"I can only hope," Ezra admitted.

Chris sighed. He was hot and tired and hurting, too. Not to mention, feeling irritible as hell. His ankle and foot felt as if they'd swelled to double their original size, his head was still angled somewhat awkwardly, definitely painfully, on his neck...and he really didn't want to hear any more. "You finished?"

"Mr. Larabee... I haven't even begun."

They walked a little farther, Vin managing to take a bit more of his own weight again with each soggy step, and then finally, finally, they seemed to be nearing the light in the distance.

Please, God.

"Buck," Vin said suddenly out of the blue.

"Oh for heaven's sake! Not again with the animal sightings."

"Buck!" Vin exclaimed again, his head raising up and Ezra rolled his eyes and then Vin exclaimed again and Ezra was really contemplating just dropping him back onto his head. "I don't care what you think you've spotted, Mr. Tanner, I just want you to cease!"


Chris was peering into the darkened shadows wondering, too, what Vin thought he was seeing. Wondering if there really was a large deer or buck out there where only Vin could see, when out of the blue, big as life, walked the biggest Buck he knew.

"I thought Vin was hallucinating," Ezra said as the apparition that was Buck Wilmington moved closer, and then a distressing thought ran through his head. 'Oh, good heavens, I'm not hallucinating, am I?' With that, he trained the flashlight on the approaching figure's face, turning the man's familiar features into something almost ghoulish as he emerged out from the shadows.

But no, it really was Buck. Here. In the middle of this miserable jungle.

"Buck," Chris said.

"Buck," Ezra whispered.

"Buck!" Vin called.

"Where the hell've you all been?" Buck barked, looking more relieved than angry but sounding angry just the same.

"What are you doing here?" Chris wanted to know and realized he sounded a little angry, too, but couldn't deny how thrilled he was to see the man.

"Buck!" Vin repeated yet again.

"You're here," Ezra marveled, "and I was under the impression you were to be absentee for the weekend."

"Change of plans," Buck admitted then eased Vin from Ezra's side, concern for all of them showing in his features. "You hurt bad?" he asked Ezra, not missing the dirtied sling around his shoulder and arm.

"Dislocated his shoulder," Chris told him.

"I'll survive," Ezra admitted, grimacing as he moved his arm.

"I won't," Buck said and waved a hand in front of his face. "Damn, three of you stink to high heaven."

"And here I was thinking what a breath of fresh air you were showing up in this our time of need."

"Buck 'n' Bucklin!" Vin called out again to the twin images of the tall man he saw standing before him.

"What's with him?"

"Hit his head pretty hard," Chris offered. "Needs to get to a hospital."

"Looks to me you all do," Buck answered, taking a really good look at the three men and ushering everyone forward through the trees.

"Do tell me your vehicle is stashed just behind an immediate shrub somewhere in the near vicinity."

"Up the path to the cabin, Ez."

Ezra peered through the dark. "You mean, there is really a path?"

"Path leadin' right to me," Buck winked while adjusting his arm around Vin.

Ezra stared at him. "Don't do that."

"Uhh," Buck started, unsure of what exactly he did, "okay, I won't." He turned to Chris for an explanation but the man just waved him off.

"Not that I'm complaining--" Ezra began, grimacing and moving past Buck and Vin, clearly wanting to get this sideshow on the road.

"But you will," Chris cut in, ignoring the pinched look Ezra sent his way and doing his best to hasten the pace on his makeshift crutch.

Buck watched the backs of the two near-cripples and grinned. "Things been a little testy out there, I take it?" He lost the grin when two almost matching glares fixed on him, then wouldn't let go. Finally, he shrugged and smiled apologetically, happily watching the men turn again and head forth. He'd ask questions later. No sense poking at a pack of surly dogs 'less you wanted to get bit.

After a minute of heavy silence, Chris turned to the man at his back. "Buck, just what are you doing out here?"

"Right now, looking for you," Buck told them. "See, Kerry ended up having a last minute change of plans and won't be flying out 'til next week. She an' her sister apparently got some sorta business venture going great guns across the pond. They picked up a big contract at the last minute, so she couldn't leave like she thought. Good new is, though, they're thinkin' on startin' up that business here in the US, which means she just might be movin' here permanently." He paused then, a wistful look stealing across his face, then snapped back to present. "Anyway, with all my excitement stuck in another country, and no other plans on the horizon, I figured I'd just high-tail myself out of town for the long weekend after all, an' here I am. Figured you all were missing me."

"At the moment, you couldn't be more correct."

"Yeah, okay. But," Chris prodded, "how'd you know we were out here?"

"Passed Vin's Jeep on the way up and--"

Ezra interrupted. "Do tell me everything in it is still intact, I beg you."

"Yeah, seems fine," Buck told him with a grin, "an' y' do that beggin' thing real nice, Ez." Ezra fixed him with a hard stare, so Buck decided to continue. "Anyhow, I took all your stuff and loaded it in my' damn, Ezra, how long you planning on staying, anyway?"

Chris chuckled.

Ezra huffed. "I fail to see the humor."

"Okay, so I waited for a while at the Jeep, see if you all were going to show, then looked for you up the road a ways. But then, when I couldn't find hide nor hair of you all anywhere from the Jeep to the cabin, I got t' thinking and hoping--lots of hoping--that you just figured to cut a path through the woods. I knew Vin had a map of the area and the key to the place, and so I started my own search starting from the cabin. Tell you what, another ten minutes and I was ready to call 911."

"Another ten minutes and you would've had to," Ezra said, ready to find somewhere to sit and not get up again for at least a week. After, that is, he found and made use of the nearest facilities, preferably a place not adorned with leaves and branches and prickers. "I'm at the complete end of my reserves. Both physical," he said with a pointed look to Chris and Vin, "and mental."

"We're not far," Buck nodded forward. "Cabin an' my truck 're right up ahead, just oh...a couple, five miles is all."

"Five miles," Ezra scoffed, "Don't toy with me, Mr. Wilmington, it's been an excrutiatingly long day."

"Hell," Buck grinned, "you know I just like playin' with you, Ez, and oh, hey," he pointed to the makeshift sling around Ezra's arm, "y 'know? That looks a whole lot like that suede jacket you're so--" he stopped abruptly at the icy glint in Ezra's eyes. "Right. Cabin. Truck. This way."

And it was, much to Ezra's bladder's relief. After a brief search of Vin's pockets for the key--easier said than done as the confused man protested the sudden pawing of his person--the four men entered the door with simultaneous sighs. Chris hobbled over to a small chair tucked along one wall of the tiny living room, and plopped down with a low groan. Buck and Ezra followed with Vin propped between them, and they lowered him down onto the sofa next to Chris's chair. Ezra left in search of relief.

"How're you doing, Cowboy," Chris whispered, too tired to ask any louder, yet concerned enough to rest a hand on Vin's shoulder and hope for an answer. Vin's eyelids drooped and then rose again slowly.

"Head hurts," Vin mumbled softly. His head was beating a most sickening rhythm, and dark spots were trying to invade his line of sight. "Tired."

"You know where you are?"

Vin slowly looked around and gave a slight shake to his head, wincing as it seemed to rattle his brain inside. He knew he should know where he was, but not only did not recognize the small room, couldn't remember, either, how he got there. His eyes lit on a tall figure. "Buck?"

"In the flesh," Buck grinned. He knelt in front of the sofa and began to gently, but pretty much unsuccessfully, wipe away the mud and blood that covered the better part of Vin's face. "How you feelin' there, pard?"

"Head hurts."

Buck squeezed Vin's shoulder and covered the now visibly shivering man with a throw he swiped off the back of the plaid sofa. "You'll be okay, Vin. We're heading to the hospital, soon's Ez's ready."

"Ezra?" Vin's eyes took on a glazed look. "Ezra's here?"

Buck and Chris exchanged worried looks. "Hospital, Vin. Just you hold on."

+ + + + + + +

"Watch him for a sec, Chris," Buck said, indicating Vin as he stood and stretched. "I'm gonna bring in your stuff, clear out the truck an' get you all to a hospital. Be right back."

"I'll be here," Chris mumbled, thinking he might never get up again, and even if he could, he couldn't get far. His ankle and foot were so swollen he might never get his hiking boot off, and his head was still tilted at that strange angle, making for an awful headache, not to mention rather skewed vision. But, where he'd like to have closed his eyes, he managed instead to keep one eye on Vin and let the other half-mast as he tried to rest his weary, aching body.

"I was under the impression this place had adequate accommodations."

Chris's eyes opened. "Problem there, Agent Standish?"

"Rather a large one I'd say," Ezra admitted.

Chris turned to him. Ezra was easing himself gingerly against the wall. He looked like Chris felt. "What? Too many plants in the bathroom for your liking or something?" It had come as a surprise to him to discover Ezra had a rather squeamish dislike for urinating anywhere in the open outdoors. Anywhere that wasn't pristine porcelein. Odd, and not just a wee bit impratical when traipsing around the great outdoors with nary a john in sight.

Ezra frowned at the implication. As if his shoulder wasn't giving him enough hell, he had to listen to more of this. Everybody had their own little idiosyncrasies, didn't they? His wasn't that abnormal. Was it?

He shook his head, happy at least to have an empty bladder, and took a good look around the small living room. "I have apparently been misled. Unless the re is more to this dwelling I have yet discovered, we've been duped."

"What's wrong, Ezra," Chris sighed, not really wanting to know details yet knowing they'd be provided anyway, and wondering why it was he kept on asking. He rubbed his aching neck. Must be worse off than he thought, he figured. He watched Vin who was beginning to fade again, then nudged him gently, satisfied when the blue eyes opened, and then turned to Ezra who was voicing his discontent. Again.

"What's wrong is--there is no bedroom to be found. None. There's a bathroom. And a closet. A small kitchen, and this room. And that looks to be pretty much it."

"What?" Buck asked as he came through the door, loaded down like a pack mule. He'd just caught the tail end of Ezra's apparent complaint. "What's the problem?"

"I distinctly was told there were three bedrooms."

"Yeah? And?"

"Three. Separate. Rooms."

"There ain't?"

Ezra glared at Buck. "No. There ain't."

"So...what? There only one?"

"Not even one."

"Okay, hold on. What are you saying?"

"What I am saying, Mr. Wilmington, is that there is no bedroom. None. Nil, zip, squat. Is that clear enough for you? Shall I elucidate more?" He wasn't trying to be snappish, really he wasn't. Just, he was just hurting. And tired. And sore. And filthy--still--though at this point it was going to take more than a quick spit bath in the bathroom sink to get his body clean. He needed and wanted a full out shower. Wanted, too, to sleep for the next week, but that sure wasn't a likely prospect in this hovel.

Buck looked around the small interior, taking it all in. It took mere seconds. He'd only peered into the windows before, not having a key when he'd first come upon the place looking for the others. Now, it took only one quick scan to see just how small the place really was. "But...Vin said the brochure said three bedrooms."

Ezra nodded. "So I was told as well, or believe me, I would most definitely not have been present on this trip. And if I may remind everyone--again--I was dubious about coming in the first place, and now it seems--"

"Oh, hell, Ezra," Buck told him, interrupting, "knock it off. You're here, you're okay--more or less..." he paused at the look Ezra was giving him, "okay, less than more, maybe...but're with friends."

"With no bed to speak of in sight," Ezra reminded him.

Chris read from the folded paper he'd stolen from Vin's pocket. "Let's it is...quaint cabin getaway nestled deep in the heart of fishing country--"

"Quaint?" Ezra was incredulous. If this was quaint he'd hate to see their idea of rustic. "And I'd say they were right in that this place is nestled deep in something..."

"Enough, Ezra," Chris continued, "okay...good-sized living area, separate dining," they all turned to look at the tiny nook that was all but filled with a small table and chairs for four. No way they could sit around it all at once--not and still breathe, anyway. Chris continued, "modern kitchenette with appliances including microwave...full it is...sleeps three."

"Sleeps three," Buck repeated.

"Ah. Mr. Tanner strikes again."

"Now, Ezra," Buck began but Ezra cut him off...

"You're not exactly blameless here either, Buck, so I wouldn't start if I was you. Which, fortunately for me, I am not."

"That's cold, Ezra."

"No. Cold is 'sleeps three'."

All eyes turned to the sofa and the chair. Chris rose tiredly and then lifted a cushion not occupied by Vin, and found the pull out double bed built into the sofa's base.

"That can't be!" Buck protested, pointing to the couch and suddenly realizing just what sleeps three was going to mean. He pictured himself squeezed off to one side of that tiny matress. He was a tall man. He needed a bed, not that itty-bitty little pull out thing. A bed. King size, preferably. "Hell, I can't fit on that thing!"

"Stop...head hurts."

"Oh, sorry, Vin."

"If it's any consolation, Mr. Tanner, my head hurts now, too," Ezra muttered.

Chris wavered unsteadily on his swollen ankle. He'd slept in worse beds. Much worse. "Enough. We can argue about the sleeping arrangements later. Vin's fading pretty fast, and I'm not far behind him, so I suggest we head out and deal with this later."

Ezra nodded. His own shoulder was throbbing horribly. Right now, the thought of a visit to the emergency room was not such the anathema it normally was; a few painkillers would be almost as welcome as a very dry, very large martini right about now. Besides, the less time spent in this hole, the better. "Lead on, MacDuff."

He moved to leave and found the others hadn't. In fact, Buck and Chris's eyes were glued to him as he turned.

"Problem?" he inquired.

Buck pointed. "Forget a little something there, Ez?"

He glanced down to the gaping fly of his pants and then indicated his bound shoulder. "I, er, found myself somewhat encumbered to finish while in the washroom." Fact was, he couldn't get the thing zipped up with just one hand, try as he might.

"Well, y' want me to...finish, for you?"

Ezra felt himself actually blush. "Oh, the horror."

"Don't sweat it, Ez," Buck told him and advanced. "Ain't the first time I've helped someone with a zipper. 'Course, usually I'm unzipping, not--"

"I am sure I really don't want to know," Ezra stated, cutting off Buck's words and trying to ignore the fingers zipping up his pants. Friend or no friend, having Buck fumbling in that general area was just more than he wanted to dwell on at the moment.

He could really use that martini now. Make that a double.

"Does anyone have the vaguest idea where a hospital might be located out here in this godforsaken place?"

"Actually, I looked up in the phone book and found the closest place is--hell, where's that paper I wrote--oh, here," Buck read from the paper, "The Edgar R. Boobe 24-hour Emergency Medical Care and Clinic."

"Edgar R. Boobie?" Ezra repeated, then grabbed for the paper with his good arm. "Let me see that...not Boobie...I think it's pronounced boob."

"Boob?" Buck asked.

Ezra sighed. "Rather appropriate, isn't it."

+ + + + + + +

"What in the sense of all subtle decency is that?"

Buck was grinning wider than a mile as he watched his friends shuffle from the cabin and stop dead. Mouths dropped. Eyes widened. Just exactly what he'd been expecting. He knew he'd get some reaction, couldn't wait for their reactions, in fact. Hell, that was half of why he'd bought the thing. "That," he told Ezra with a wave...he was beaming and he knew it, "that is mine." Prouder than a new daddy.

Ezra just shook his head. So typically Buck. Never do what you could overdo.

Chris stared for a bit, somewhat stunned at Buck's new purchase, and then had to look away. Even in the dark, it was making his head ache.

"Firetruck?" Vin asked, confused as he squinted toward the flash of color.

Buck laughed and opened the door, letting the supple leather interior become illuminated by the soft glow of the dome light. For years, he'd wanted one. Chris had one. Buck always envied him that. And now he had one, too. Sleek, powerful, rugged, Red. Bright, screaming, head-turning, ticket-acquiring red.

He'd ordered it months ago, had sat on the purchase of it just so he could surprise his friends, waiting, waiting, waiting for the day it would be his and he could show it off. And finally it had arrived. Brand new. Brand spankin' still equipped with temporary tags and not a ding in sight new.

Yep, he loved this truck.

He ran a hand over the perfect paint, imagining just how many second looks this beauty would garner him, and then he remembered just where he was and why. His friends. They looked downright pitiful. The three of them were barely standing upright, and so Buck opened the doors to the truck and helped them climb inside. They were filthy and tired and obviously hurting.

And so now as he headed them into the dark of night in search of the Booby House, as he had so christened the Edgar R. Boobe 24-hour Emergency Medical Care and Clinic, he tried to ignore best he could that one of them had dripped blood onto his new leather upholstery. It was leather, it would wipe clean. Right?

And the carpet...well...

When Vin had vomited again as he climbed up into the truck, it had been mostly on the outside. Mostly. Buck assured himself the new car smell would still be there after the thing was shampooed. And Vin was hurt after all, and, of course, that's what really mattered. They were all three hurting...that's what mattered the most. They needed to get to help. This was his priority, not worrying about the mud and grime spilling onto his new truck. The dirt, the blood. The vomit soaking into his new...

Stop. They're hurting.

'Course, he could now admit to the beginnings of a small headache himself, if truth be told, which wasn't really that much of a surprise given the amount of continual sniping he'd been listening to since finding his wounded friends wandering about in the black of night. Sniping that was still going on and on...

"I wasn't implying anything of the kind, Mr. Larabee--Chris--I was merely suggesting perhaps this clinic...this...this--"

"Booby house," Buck smirked.

"Medical facility," Ezra emphasized with a frown to Buck, then turned back to Chris sitting behind him in the cab's rear seat, "and I was just thinking perhaps we might fare better by finding our way back to--"

"Ezra," Chris said sternly, "I am not going to have Buck drive us all the way back to Denver just because you feel the...the...House of Boob is beneath your standards."

"I'm just saying there's no way to predict what sort of medical staff might be receiving us way out here in no man's land, and if you wouldn't mind, I'd appreciate you ceasing this referal of our would-be hospital as some house of ill repute."

"We're going, Ezra. And we're going to see the doctor, or nurse, or orderly, or whatever high-priestess it is we run across that'll fix my ankle and Vin's head. And your damned shoulder."

"My damn shoulder. I see. Your ankle, Mr. Tanner's head...and not my shoulder but, my damn shoulder. How nice."

Yep, Buck'd certainly admit to having the makings of a killer headache emerging. And something else...

He wrinkled his nose. What was that smell? Had someone stepped in...

Oh, Lord.

Not on his brand new carpet. His brand new, near twenty-five thousand dollar don't step a foot on it unless your soles are spanking clean carpet in his brand new truck...


He sighed and glanced to his injured friends sprawled best they could inside his new truck.

Priorities, Wilmington. Priorities.

+ + + + + + +

"What? Them things don't come in black?"

The scowl on Chris's face cut Buck's laughter short. "Hell, Chris, y' look like your dog just died. It ain't that bad. They said you'd only haveta use those crutches for a few weeks. You know, 'til it mends."

"Didn't think it was this bad."

"Fracture's a mite serious there, pard."

"It was supposed to be just a sprain. A sprain," Chris sighed and watched as Buck eased his leg up to rest on another chair. "Thought for sure it was just a sprain."

"How's your head?"

Chris rubbed his forehead feeling as tired as he'd felt in a long time. His neck ached. "Still attached, anyway." At least the painkillers he'd been given were finally easing some of the pain of his ankle, were making him feel a little lightheaded, a little sleepy and not just a little bit nauseous, too.

Buck chuckled and stared down the empty hall toward the exam room. "Still attached. More than I'd say about Vin's the past couple hours."

Both men turned at the sound of a voice they knew all too well.

"If you'll kindly unhand me, I believe I can manage on my own."

"Listen, sir. We may have nowhere near the kind of hospital facilities you're used to down there in the big city, but here at Boobe, we do have our own rules and regulations."

"I'll bet," Ezra mumbled but the large nurse glaring him in the eye paid him no mind.

She continued, pointing at the chair. "So far you've managed to break most every one of them and I'm just too damn tired of arguing with you any more. Now sit yourself down and ride, or I'll be happy to let you have another shot in your--"

"Oh, fine, we'll do it your way," Ezra huffed and sat down in the wheelchair. "Awfully temperamental for a caregiver."

"Think so? Well, you test me anymore, hon, and you'll see just how temperamental I can get."

Ezra slid down in the wheelchair as the wretched nurse wheeled him down the hall. His eyes brightened when the others came into view, and he motioned for the nurse to steer toward them. "Drop me off here, Jeeves."

The nurse guided the chair forward and stopped abruptly. She stared at Buck and Chris. "This yours?"

"Why?" Chris asked, not looking up. "Someone else claimin' him?"

"He's ours," Buck told her, moving closer to help Ezra ease himself out of the wheelchair and into one of the red plastic chairs lining the tiny waiting area. The nurse handed Buck a prescription and a bag with samples and cold packs inside.

"He's released but needs to see his own doctor and begin therapy on that shoulder. For now, see that he gets that filled. It's for pain. By the way, they'll likely make him sleep." She looked at Ezra with narrowed eyes and then back to Buck. "You can thank me for that later."

"Ogre," Ezra muttered.

Buck grinned. "Usin' your 'How to win friends and influence people' training on the Boobie staff, there, Ez?"

"You're certainly getting your mileage out of that name, aren't you?" Ezra commented as he glared at the hefty figure of the departing nurse. "Wretched woman. Completely wretched," Ezra muttered again and shifted stiffly in the chair. He would have sworn the woman rammed that needle full of painkiller home with all the force of an Olympic-trained javelin thrower, and had smiled while doing so, the gargoyle. Now, he was sore in more places than he cared to think on, was feeling groggy, and decidedly more than ready to leave the premises. "Any sign whatsoever of our Mr. Tanner?"

"Not yet," Buck informed him, stretching his long legs and yawning hugely. "But he ought t' be out in a bit, nurse just told us before you got here."

Ezra stared at the cast around Chris's foot. He blinked, beginning to feel a bit fuzzy from the painkillers, and pointed. "Whazzat?"

Chris slid eyes Ezra's way. "'S my new shoe. Like it?"

"All that? For a sprain?"

"Try fracture," Buck told him.

Ezra frowned at Chris. In the back of his mind he'd been harboring the idea that he might be able to escape early, somehow retrieve Vin's Jeep and head back to decent civilization. But one-armed as he was, he was going to be in need of some help. "You can't possibly drive with that thing."

Chris was feeling rather woozy. "Thought they were just going to put a brace around it." He looked at the cast on his raised leg. "That look like a brace to you?" He wiggled his toes then suppressed the moan threatening to surface from the pain. He couldn't tell which hurt worse, the break itself, or the fact he was to endure the cast for the next six weeks. Six stinkin' weeks.

"I know Vin won't be able to drive his Jeep back home," Ezra continued, relaxi ng best he could in the plastic chair, "not that I'd really want him to with or without the head injury, actually."

Buck sat staring at the two men. Did either of them even realize the other was speaking? Both were mumbling softly, yet paying the other no attention.

"Last time I had a cast I was...uhh, God, I couldn't've been more 'n' ten years old. Gonna itch like hell, I'll bet."

"I certainly cannot drive," Ezra explained to no one, "not with this thing immobilizing my shoulder."

"Itching already." Chris reached to scratch into the top of the cast.

"Can't drive a stick with this." Ezra adjusted the brace hugging his arm to his chest.

"You two are going to be hell to live with, I can tell," Buck commented. He turned to look down the still empty hall, "and I don't even want to imagine what Vin's going to be like."


Comments to: