Chris couldn't understand why Vin slept so much. They had had to rouse him from the sofa in his office, he fell asleep in the truck on the way home and now looked to be drifting off sitting at the kitchen table. He didn't think Vin's physical injuries were such that his body needed that much extra rest, especially after having spent a week in the hospital. Chris wondered if the mental toll was harder to bear. He had watched Vin in the company of the others and could tell he seemed to be somewhat overwhelmed. Maybe sleeping was his body's way of coping. Or, Chris thought, maybe his pain medication was too potent. It was something he would ask the doctor when they got to see him.

"Chris, can I use your computer? I want to get on the internet and check something out," JD asked, pulling Chris away from his musings.

"Sure, JD. Knock yourself out." Suddenly, Chris felt like he could join Vin in a nap on the kitchen table.

"Thanks." JD rushed to the den to log on.

"Want me to fix supper?" Buck asked, seeing Chris practically wilt before him. "You look like you could use a snooze."

"I'd appreciate that, Buck. I really do feel beat all of a sudden."

"Can't imagine why. A week of not sleeping, worrying. Fourteen hours on the road yesterday. The trial this morning. I'm surprised you can keep your eyes open at all." Buck patted his friend's shoulder reassuringly. "Why don't you go sack out for a while. I'll keep an eye on Vin and get something pulled together for us to eat."

"You sure?"

"Yes...go!" Buck pushed Chris in the direction of the door out of the room and waved his hand when Chris stopped at the door to look back. "Go!" he repeated. Chris turned and trudged out, getting only as far as the living room couch where he laid down and fell right to sleep.

Vin remained sitting at the kitchen table, his arms resting in front of him, his eyes drooping half closed but never closing all the way. Buck watched him for a moment, wondering if he needed to do anything for him. Chris hadn't said he was due any medication or anything so he assumed Vin was okay for the time being. He began rummaging through cupboards and the refrigerator and finally decided he had the needed ingredients for his nearly-world-famous Wilmington stew. Chris had always claimed that it was nothing but a simmering pot of leftovers but Buck was proud of the concoction. And JD always seemed to like it. Buck started pulling out cans of stuff and retrieved a big pot that he placed on the stove and began dumping in items.

Vin heard the noises around him and forced his eyes open. He saw Buck darting about the kitchen grabbing a variety of things and ending up back at the stove. It was amusing to watch and Vin let a small smile creep on his face. He pushed himself up and walked slowly over to stand beside Buck and peer into the pot. Buck glanced at him askance.

"What?" he asked, knowing his expression said more than the word.

Vin took a step back and leaned against the counter. Buck thought that if he could have, Vin would have crossed his arms against his chest.

Buck picked up a can of corn and made a motion like he was dumping the contents into the pot, then raised his eyebrows at Vin. Vin looked at the can, peeked into the pot again, then looked at Buck and nodded. Buck smiled as he set the can down and fitted the can opener to it. Slowly, he turned the crank as he looked back at Vin.

After Buck poured in the corn, he held up a can of green beans and Vin nodded again. The two repeated the procedure with Vin nodding at ingredients he thought should be added and wrinkling his nose at those he wanted left out. Normally, Buck didn't cater to those he was cooking for, but rather threw in those things he felt belonged in that particular batch. He was bending his rules big time for Vin.

An hour later, the four men were sitting at the table digging into 'the finest batch of Wilmington stew ever made'. Of course, Buck said that about every batch.

After the meal, JD wandered back into the den to continue working on Chris's computer. He hadn't explained yet what he was working on but that wasn't unusual for the young man. He liked to gather facts and information for hours before he shared with the rest of the team.

Chris and Buck began cleaning up he kitchen from the usual disaster that Wilmington stew created. Vin slowly took items from the table to the sink. Since he could only manage small, light things, it wasn't long before Chris put his hands on Vin's shoulders and sat him down at the table, indicating he wasn't to get up and help. Without knowing it, and certainly without meaning to, Chris was just reinforcing Vin's feelings of being in the way. He sat sadly, watching for a while and when Chris and Buck's activity centered at the sink, Vin slowly stood up and wandered out of the room.

The house was dark, the only light coming from the kitchen and the den. Once Vin's eyes adjusted, he headed for the den, stopping at the door and watching JD.

JD pecked away on the computer keyboard and it took several minutes before he was hit by the feeling someone was watching him and finally looked up.

"Hi, Vin," JD said brightly as a smile took over his face. He waved for Vin to come in and slowly the man walked up to the desk. JD had spent the better part of the last day mulling over Vin's medical file from the Texas hospital and he believed he had a feel for how to deal with him. He saved what he had been working on on the computer and then turned his full attention to Vin, who was looking down at the x-rays that were sticking out of a folder.

"Those are yours," JD said as he pulled the black films out into view. There were half a dozen pieces and JD separated one to hold up to the light. He pointed to Vin's left hand and then to the x-ray. "This hand," he said as he pointed again to Vin's hand. JD could easily spot three fractures and pointed them out to Vin, but he couldn't find the fourth one that the medical records said was there. He decided it probably wasn't important because Vin probably couldn't tell the difference. JD set down that x-ray and picked up one of Vin's right hand, showing him where the fractures in that hand were. JD smiled as Vin really seemed curious and studied the films intently.

The work was done in the kitchen and Chris and Buck turned back to the room. "Where's Vin?" Chris asked, not finding the man sitting where he had been.

Buck shook his head. "Don't know, but he probably didn't go far. He's probably sleeping on a couch somewhere." The two men left the kitchen and began searching the house, finding him sitting beside JD at the computer.

"What's he doing?" Chris asked JD as he and Buck approached the desk.

"I called up mah-jong, you know, that game with the different tiles that you match up. Since he can do pictures, I figured he could at least try matching up the tiles. He seems to like it," JD filled them in as Vin merely glanced once in their direction before he turned his attention back to the computer and clicked off another pair of tiles. "He's already cleared the screen once," JD added. Chris watched his friend. He seemed to be enjoying whatever game it was JD had said he called up. For a moment, he wondered how a game he had never heard of had been loaded onto his computer but decided however it happened...JD..., he was happy it was there at the moment.

After finding Vin, Chris and Buck left to check outside the house. It may have seemed like just a normal get-together for the men but they couldn't forget that they had a job to do. They needed to protect Vin. They retrieved their weapons and circled around the outside of the house. When they were done, they were satisfied there were, and had been as best as they could tell, no intruders. Once back inside the house, they made sure all the doors and windows were locked, all the shades were drawn and the security alarm was set.

In the den, JD watched as Vin continued to click at the tiles on the screen. He had a little difficulty moving the mouse sometimes but it didn't take much strength to depress the button on the it. JD had to keep himself from pointing out matching tiles to Vin, much like he always had to bite his tongue when he watched Buck play solitaire. The man always missed plays.

After a particularly long time when Vin hadn't moved the mouse, JD looked up at his face and noticed his eyes were nearly closed. He gently shook his shoulder and roused him. Through hand motions and facial expressions, he told Vin he thought he should head for bed. Vin seemed to agree as he raised up out of the chair and headed out of the room. JD was glad that they ran into Chris in the hallway because he wasn't sure if Vin would be sleeping in Chris's room again or not, and Vin surely wouldn't know.

Chris got Vin settled into his bed after going through the changing of the bandages routine and having put him in some of his own clothes. They were a little too big but they didn't have any of Vin's clothes here. Chris commented that someone should stop at his apartment and pick up some things for him.

The rest of the evening found Chris and Buck drinking coffee in the kitchen as they discussed what they would need to do for the next week. Chris wondered if he had been imagining the tail that afternoon and if the team wasn't being just a little bit paranoid but he knew if they dropped their guard, anything could happen and, like Josiah had said, better safe than sorry.

Chris turned in early and left Buck lounging in front of the television flipping through the stations. He hadn't seen JD in a while and assumed he was still playing on the computer. He shook his head as he thought of the single-mindedness the kid could show sometimes. Usually, something good came of it so he wasn't going to complain.

Vin appeared to be sleeping peacefully when Chris crawled into the other side of the bed. He wondered if Vin felt awkward sharing his bed or if he was somehow comforted by the proximity of a friend. He knew he felt better having Vin close by, especially after a week of not knowing if he'd ever see him again. Eventually, however, other arrangements would have to be made.

******* ******* *******

Buck wandered into the den to make sure JD hadn't been sucked into some computer vortex-thing. He would never understand how the kid could stare so long at the monitor. He had to physically slap JD on the back to get his attention.

"Oh, hey Buck," he said absently as he immediately turned back to the screen.

"What are you doing in here, JD?" Buck asked as he sat on the edge of the desk.

"Just looking up something."

"You've been 'looking up something' for quite a while now. Are you ever gonna share?"

JD knitted his brow for a moment. "Well..." he began hesitantly, "I was looking through Vin's medical file and they did a toxicology report on him. There was one drug found in his system, called...uhmm....well, I can't even begin to pronounce it but they couldn't figure it out. It took them a couple of days to identify but they don't know why it was there or how it got there. It doesn't say much more about it, I guess they just focused on his other problems. I've just been looking up that drug on the internet." JD's mind wandered and he stopped talking.

"Did you find anything?" Buck prodded.

"Oh, well, yeah, I think. I found a little about it in a psychological website. It had apparently been tested as a possible aid to treating schizophrenics but it wasn't pursued because of some problems they had. The page didn't explain those very well. I've been trying to dig a little more and I did find one mention of a place that was still researching it. I'm trying to..." JD paused as he looked around the room, then continued in a lower voice, "...get into their system, see if I can get anymore details."

Buck beamed. "That's my little hacker buddy." His expression sobered quickly. "Why do you think that it's so important?"

"Well, it was kinda something Josiah said, about how it was convenient that Vin couldn't talk, couldn't testify against Chassen. I was just wondering if there was any way for someone to do that."

Buck was about to say that it didn't seem too likely and that JD's idea seemed a little far fetched but when he thought a moment, there was a lot of stuff that went on the world that seem far fetched. "Maybe, kid. Just don't stay up all night, huh? You need your beauty sleep." He stood up to leave. "I'm gonna be sleeping on the couch in the living room so if you need a snack in the middle of the night, try to keep it down, okay?"

"Yeah, sure, Buck." JD was already pecking away on the keyboard again.

******* ******* *******

Chris opened his eyes to the darkness around him. He remained still as he tried to figure out what it was that had awakened him. He didn't hear anything except the rustling of the bed sheets and it took a few moments for him to realize that that was it. He reached over to his bedside lamp and turned it on and a low light filtered through the room. Chris looked around and saw that Vin was squirming under the covers. The look at his face told him Vin was having a bad dream. He slid over in the large bed until he could lay a gentle hand on Vin's chest and shook lightly.

"Vin," he called softly, sharply. Vin continued to thrash around. "Vin!" Chris said louder, shaking more firmly. Vin's eyes suddenly popped open and he stared straight ahead for a moment, then blinked a few times and circled his gaze around the room. Chris patted his chest. "You're okay, Vin," he comforted.

Vin rolled his eyes to Chris's and looked at him for several moments without expression. Slowly, his eyes drifted shut and he fell back asleep.

Chris watched him for several minutes. He wasn't convinced that Vin actually woke up and was half expecting him to slide back into his nightmare but when that didn't happen, Chris turned off the light and settled back on his side of the bed. In the dark, he listened for a few more minutes and finally allowed himself to fall back asleep.

******* ******* *******

Buck woke up with the dim light from the sun slipping in through the cracks around the window shades. He rubbed his eyes and stretched leisurely, then looked at his watch. He almost felt like he was playing hooky since he should have left for the office ten minutes ago. Guard duty wasn't so bad. Sleeping on the couch, however, he could have done without. He could have slept in the spare room, where he had spent the previous night, but he figured if anyone was going to break in, it'd be from this part of the house and he wanted to be there to welcome them.

Buck rubbed his eyes again and pulled himself up to a sitting position. He wondered if anyone else was up yet or if they were all in 'hooky' mode. He stood up and wandered into the kitchen to start some coffee. While the coffee was brewing, he stepped back out into the living room and up to a window. Easing the shade aside, he peered out and saw nothing out of the ordinary. After looking in all directions and seeing nothing that shouldn't be there, he pulled the cord to open the shade slightly, bringing a little daylight into the darkened house.

Turning back to the room, Buck noticed the light still glowing from the den. "JD ." he mumbled to himself as he headed that way. He stopped at the doorway and couldn't help but smile at the sight of the young man draped over the desk top, his hair falling across his face. Shaking his head, he stepped up to the side of the desk and shook JD shoulder gently.

"Hey, kid. Wake up. You're gonna hurt yourself sleeping like that," Buck admonished, though he wondered if it would hurt any more than the couch had hurt him.

"Huh...what ...?" JD pushed himself off the desk and looked up at Buck.

"Didn't I tell you not to stay here all night?"

JD looked around the room and suddenly remembered where he was and why he had been there. Immediately, he perked up. "Oh! Buck, you aren't gonna believe what I found!" He leaned forward and grabbed a small pile of papers of stuff he had printed off the computer. "I got into the company's computer and dug around. That drug is listed as being used for treating schizophrenics, but in larger doses, and when combined with another drug, it alters brain functions. There's a doctor there a doctor Von Schnel, hell, I can't pronounce it, but this doctor has been experimenting with it and it's designed to do to someone exactly what's happened to Vin. It disrupts the connection of the language center of the brain to the rest of the brain so nothing can go in or come out."

"Whoa...slow down there, JD. Are you saying that Vin's not talking isn't a trauma thing? He was drugged?"

"Yeah. I got into the files of the doctor running the experiments and down loaded some of them. I couldn't stay on too long 'cause I didn't want them to trace the connection and I haven't read all of them yet. There here somewhere," he said as he rifled through some of the papers in front of him.

"That's kinda hard to believe, kid," Buck said as he shook his head.

JD jumped in his seat and if it were possible, he got more animated. "Oh, and Buck...I traced the company doing the experiments. It's owned by another company who is in turn owned by a holding company who well, it goes on through six or seven more levels, but it's all eventually tied back to Russell Chassen."

Buck's eyes grew wide and his mouth dropped open.