Chris stood leaning against the doorway of the quiet hospital room. He watched silently, as Ezra buttoned his shirt and grimaced at the action. The darker haired agent looked evilly at the cast on his arm.

"It would hurt less if you used that sling." Chris pointed to the discarded object on the bed.

Ezra looked up quickly. His pain immediately masked with the familiar poker face. Almost unreadable. Chris thought to himself.

"Thank you ever so much for that truly unsolicited advice Mr. Larabee," his tone was filled with sarcasm, but Ezra picked up the sling and maneuvered gracefully into the contraption anyway. "So have you arrived to accompany me in my liberation from this torturous institution?"

Chris shook his head smiling, How could he have missed this? "Be thankful they only decided to keep you an extra day."

"An extra day for a measly broken arm," Ezra started to go off on a tangent, but turned and looked at Chris instead his eyes filled with sudden apprehension, "Are they going to press charges against me?" The thought hadn't crossed his mind until just that moment. He had after all charged down a hospital hallway firing a loaded weapon, endangering many lives.

"Relax," Chris stepped closer, "We talked to the hospital administration. It's been taken care of."

"What about" Ezra's voice faded.

"JD is fine Ezra. He'll have to stay here for at least the rest of the week, but he's recovering quickly." He watched Ezra nod and look toward the window. "It's not your fault, remember?"

Ezra turned towards him again, the mask back in place, "I remember."

"You gonna go see him?"

"I was contemplating the option."

" I think you should. You two have a lot to talk about," Chris encouraged.

"Yeah," to himself Ezra continued, like how I almost killed him twice.

"He's worried about how you are doing."

"JD's worried about me?"

Chris grinned, "Asked about you already this morning."

Ezra ran his good hand through his hair and sighed. "Everyone else in there too, I suppose?"

"Not after I kick them out. Give me five minutes," Chris turned for the door, "Good to have you back Ezra."

"Thank you Mr. Larabee." Ezra watched Chris leave and then sank back down onto the bed a moment. He wanted to talk to JD, but not in front of everyone else. Not at first. He didn't know if he could bare to see the look of fear flash through JD's eyes again. It was Nathan who had explained to him that JD had been hypnotized to fear him like he had. What kind of man would hypnotize a kid into fearing someone he trusted? What kind of man would hypnotize another man into killing one of his partners? It had taken him a long time to become a part of this team. In his own way he knew he still tended to push the others away and lean toward the independent strain of thought, but he valued his place in this group of men. This team. This family. If JD was afraid of him it was over.

Ezra heard the commotion in the hall and smiled in spite of himself. They never did manage to go anywhere quietly. Somewhere the voice of a nurse cut through the voices, sternly reprimanding them into a fragile silence. Ezra sighed deeply and pushed himself off the bed. It was time to go see JD.

+ + + + + + +

Randomly I flipped through the channels on the TV mounted high across the room. Game show, game show, extreme sports competition, Dukes of Hazzard reruns. Nothing looked good to me this morning. Chris had just come in and chased everyone out to go to breakfast. There was something else on his mind, I think. I told him to bring me back an Egg Mcmuffin or something. This hospital food only manages to turn my stomach. I hate jello, at least this jello. At least today I could sit up a little bit while everyone was here. I'm tired of being in bed and have a feeling it's only just begun to get on my nerves. Nathan is quick to tell me to ease up. I just want to get out of here.

A sound at the door draws my attention and I look over. Ezra's standing there. He looks better then I remember. His arm is in a sling, his suit coat slung over one shoulder. It's wrinkled, but he's doing his best to pull off the look.

"Mind if I come in?" he asks.

"No, come on in," I turn the TV off. My heart is racing faster. I don't know what to say right now.

"How are you feeling?"

"Okay I guess. Better." I fidget with the remote trying to get up the courage to look at him. I'm not really afraid, but at the same time I can see him raising the gun and sneering at me. It wasn't really Ezra I remind myself. "How are you doing?" I remember his arm.

A soft chuckle. "I'm fine. "

I finally look at him. Not just at his arm, but at his face, his eyes.


He bows his head a little and looks around the room.

"I'm fine Mr. Dunne, it's you I'm concerned about."


"I owe you an apology."

"For what?"

"JD?" His eyes meet mine. " I shot you," the words are whispered.

"Oh that," he looks at me kind of shocked and I laugh, but catch myself. It still hurts to laugh. Ezra moves forward.

"Do you need me to get the nurse?"

"No, I just forget it hurts to laugh. Ezra, I know you didn't mean to shoot me. I mean, It wasn't really you."

"Doesn't change the fact that I did shoot you JD. I should have been able to" his voice trailed off.

"No, but you didn't kill me and that's what Watson told you to do right?" I can't let this come between us anymore. He nodded slowly. "Don't you see?" Our eyes met again, there was understanding in his.

"Maybe, I'm beginning to." "Ezra I'm not afraid of you. I don't care what memories I have of what happened. I know you. I trust you and I know you would never hurt me." The words sort of just tumbled out of my mouth making me feel like I'm babbling. " This" I wave my arm around. "job is important to me, I'm realistic enough to know stuff happens. You," I feel kind of sheepish saying it, but I do anyway, "mean a lot to me. You and Buck, and Chris, everybody. You guys are the closest I have to family and" I finally manage to shut up a minute. Ezra is looking at his hand. Taking a deep breath I go on. Might as well say it all. My voice is softer, "I never felt very close to you before now. I figured you always took me for just a kid."

He looks up, as if to protest, but I put up my hand stopping him. "It's okay. I just feel like we have a connection now I guess."

"We do," his voice sounded raspy.

It's quiet in the room for a minute. The only sound is the hum of the light above the bed. I can't stand quiet for too long. "At least I know there's someone else who understands what it's like to be hypnotized. I always thought getting hypnotized would be like someone making you act like a chicken or something."

Ezra laughs out loud at that. "It wasn't exactly what I had in mind either," he admits.

"Can I ask you something?"


"Did you hear voices?"

His eyes cloud and grow serious again. "I did."

I feel relieved it wasn't just me, "I thought maybe I was crazy."

"Me too."

" I don't hear them anymore, but," I wasn't sure how to explain it. "It's almost like you can still feel them in there?" I nod, not believing he said it so clearly. Our eyes meet and I know we understand each other.

In the hallway I can hear Buck's voice first, then the others. "Seems our compatriots have returned," Ezra whispers.

"Good, I'm starved." I flash him a grin, which to my surprise he returns. Carefully I sit up a little taller in bed.

"JD, before we're interrupted with breakfast"


"You are excellent at your job and I have always been honored to work with you."

I can't help, but grin at him. "Really?"

"Really." He smiles and somehow I know things are going to turn out okay.

"Hey kid, brought you breakfast just like you asked! Hey Ez, brought something for you too." Buck's voice boomed over Ezra's next low comment, but I heard it all the same.

"And you were never just a kid."


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