Buck and JD entered the house laughing. They had just made another sweep of the property and found no signs of any unwanted guests. Once they were satisfied with the surroundings, they stopped in the barn and visited with some of Chris's horses. JD was kidding Buck about the conversation he'd had with one of Chris's mares and one of their good-natured arguments had followed.

As soon as they came into the living room, Chris shushed them and pointed at Vin. He was stretched out on the couch, with his water bottle nestled in the crook of his arm, sleeping. Chris had sat down in the room with the pile of the computer print-outs that JD had gotten and was trying to familiarize himself with Vin's condition, all the while watching Vin drift in and out of sleep. Chris stood up and the three men went into the kitchen.

"Man, he sleeps a lot," Buck observed when they had gotten into the other room.

"I've noticed that. It was something I was gonna ask that doctor about when we go. I thought maybe his pain meds were too strong but who knows."

"Maybe there's something else going on that we don't know about, something he can't tell us," JD wondered.

"I thought of that." Chris said as he rubbed his jaw, then added, "Hell, maybe it's better he does sleep through all of this. It can't be easy for him."

"Yeah, between the talkin' thing and his hurt hands, this must be hell on him, as much as he hates for folks to do for him..." Buck rambled, thinking about how he would feel in the same situation.

Chris shook the stack of papers he still held. "At least we know it's not permanent."

"Let's hope you can get the rest of the files we need tonight, kid," Buck slapped his hand on JD's shoulder. JD nodded his agreement but remained silent.

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

Buck sat in an overstuffed chair watching the silent pictures moving about the television screen. The football game had ended long ago and now it was soccer. Though he couldn't say he hated the game, sometimes it just didn't hold enough action for him. He didn't want to change the channel because Vin still woke up periodically and Buck was leaving it to him to decide what was on. He also resisted turning up the volume, not that an announcer of a soccer game could say anything about the game that would mean anything to him, but he wasn't used to just watching with no sound.

Chris and JD had moved to Chris's den to do some actual work. Chris had reports to fill out -- of course, they had reports to fill out when one of them blew their nose or scratched their butt  -- and JD had legitimate computer work to do. Buck did as well, but since there was only one computer terminal, he let JD go first, hoping it'd take the kid so long he would be able to get out of doing his, for today anyway.

Nathan had called earlier to let them know that he and Josiah would be coming out that evening to relieve the 'guards'. Team twelve had asked for help from one of team seven to familiarize them with the DeBreezie case that had been passed on. Since Ezra had done all the undercover work, he volunteered to bring them up to speed.

Nathan also let them know that he had given his testimony in the Chassen trial and that he thought it had gone well. At least the defense attorney couldn't rattle him into questioning his own testimony and Cavanaugh seemed pleased with the way things were going.

Half time was signaled in the soccer game and Buck stretched as all the commercials that had been saved up for the passed forty-five minutes began playing. He leaned over and picked up a magazine that was laying on top of a stack of magazines under an end table. His eyebrows tweaked up as he saw the magazine was the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition from last year. He was about to jump up and go give Chris a hard time about it when he glanced at the name on the address label and saw it was his. So this was where he'd left it. He settled back to re-peruse the photos.

Several minutes later, Vin began to shift around on the couch, trying to push himself up. Buck glanced up, making sure he was okay and noticed he looked half asleep as he finally got himself to a standing position. Without looking around, he started walking towards the hallway that would take him to the bedrooms and, what Buck figured he needed, the bathroom.

"Vin," Buck said sharply as he saw the bottle still held between his arm and side slip down. His mind flashed forward to what could possibly happen and he leapt up out of his chair. Unfortunately, it happened faster than he could get there. The bottle fell out of Vin's hold and down to the floor where it tangled in his feet. Still groggy from sleep, Vin's balance was off and he fell forward, instinctively throwing his arms out in front of him to break his fall. Buck was at his side a second after he hit the floor. He pulled Vin up enough to look at his face. Vin's eyes were squeezed shut tight and his mouth was open wide, though no sound emerged, and Buck could feel him trembling.

"Chris!" Buck called urgently, then turned softer words to Vin. "It's okay, Vin. Take it easy," he soothed as he held him firmly.

Buck's tone was enough to bring Chris rushing out of the den with JD on his heels. "What happened?" he asked as he dropped to his knees beside his friends.

"He got up to go somewhere, the bathroom, I think, and that damn water bottle fell and he tripped over it. He landed smack on his hands, landed pretty hard, too," Buck informed him.

Chris gently pulled Vin's face around to try and gauge how much he had hurt himself. He saw that a few tears were escaping the tightly closed eyes. Vin had clamped his jaw shut tight and was taking deep, halting breaths. He gently stroked his hand down the back of Vin's head.

"What do you think we should do?" Buck asked.

"He could have made the fractures he has worse," JD said from over Chris's shoulder. "Or got new ones."

Chris shook his head. Hadn't his friend suffered enough. "I guess we should take him to the emergency room, get him x-rayed to be sure. There's that new minor emergency clinic in that shopping plaza after you turn off Broadway. It's a lot closer than going all the way into Four Corners and I'm pretty sure they do x-rays."

"I'll go call 'em and find out," JD jumped up and ran to the phone.

"Can you go get his sneakers, Buck?" Chris asked, wrapping a protective arm across Vin's back.

"Yeah, sure." Buck got up and headed back to Chris's bedroom.

Chris held Vin tightly for a few seconds, murmuring reassuring words that he knew Vin couldn't understand. Vin was still taking in deep breaths and holding them for a short time before he rapidly exhaled and sucked in the next lungful.

Buck returned with the sneakers and the two men rolled Vin to where he was sitting on the floor. He kept his chin pressed hard against his chest, his hands held out in front of him, as Buck slipped on his shoes, tying them loosely.

"Yeah, they can do x-rays," JD said before he was even back in the room. Chris nodded his acknowledgment as he started easing Vin to his feet. Vin followed without fighting, though he really didn't help them either.

"Stay with him. I'm going to get my keys and wallet," Chris instructed his friends and disappeared down the hall, returning a few moments later with the items. He led the way out of his house towards his truck, locking the door as they left.

JD climbed into the back of the extended cab of the truck. As they guided Vin into the vehicle, Chris was glad he had opted for the bench seat. It would allow Buck to hold Vin as he drove.

The ride was quick; twenty minutes compared with the fifty or so it would have taken to get to Four Corners General. Chris went on ahead to get them 'on the list' and to start the forms he knew would have to be filled out while Buck and JD slowly led Vin inside and to the waiting area. There were only a half a dozen people sitting around the waiting area so Buck was hopeful they wouldn't have to wait too long. He sat Vin down in a seat and took the one next to him, keeping an arm across his friend's shoulders. Vin leaned into Buck's side a little and slowly moved his head until it rested on his shoulder.

It was ten minutes before Chris joined them at their seats. He had had to argue with the desk nurse about Vin's insurance. Since his wallet was still in police custody, Chris had no way of telling them his insurance card number. He showed them his own card and said it was the same carrier but that wouldn't work for them. The desk nurse needed to make a copy of the card to validate the coverage. Chris understood the policy and mentally kicked himself for not getting a hold of Vin's wallet somehow. Finally, he pulled out his credit card and told them to put it all on there. He would fill out the insurance forms and get reimbursed later. He was totally frustrated when he sat down but tried to put it behind him. He rubbed Vin's back comfortingly.

"How is he?" he asked softly.

"His breathing has calmed down some but he's still pretty tense." Buck took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Did they say how long it would be?"

"They said there's only one other person here for x-rays so it shouldn't be too much longer." The four men sat silently for a minute, then Chris said absently, "You know, JD, you're gonna have to stay at my place again tonight if you're gonna be hacking into that company again."

"I can do that from my place and then run what I get over first thing in the morning," JD replied. He really didn't have a problem staying at Chris's again but knew he already had a house full.

"No, if they trace the line, I want it traced to me and my computer. You're doing this on my say so. I don't want you taking the heat for it if we get caught."

"I don't mind."

"I do." Chris turned to face JD and the young man could see the concern in his leader's eyes. He began nodding his head.

"Okay, Chris. I'll need to get some clean stuff to wear. I only brought enough for one day."

Chris looked at his watch for a second as his mind worked out some logistics. "Buck, why don't you and JD take my truck back to my place and pick up yours. JD can take it on into the city and you can come back here." Chris reached into his pocket and pulled out his key ring. "Here, JD," Chris began as he twisted a key off of the ring. "Here's the key to Vin's place. Pick him up some of his stuff while you're in town." He handed the key to JD and the rest of the keys to Buck.

Buck took the keys and gently eased Vin over to where Chris was supporting him. "Be back in a bit," Buck smiled as he stood up and he and JD left the clinic.

Chris continued rubbing Vin's back as he looked down at his watch once again.

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

Buck returned to find Vin and Chris missing from the waiting area. "At least they got in," he thought to himself as he took a seat and began waiting.

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

Chris sat beside the examination table where Vin was laying down. They were waiting for the doctor to return with the x-rays. The fall had torn open some of the flesh wounds that he had and one of the nurses had already cleaned and re-bandaged them but they were waiting on the doctor before they replaced the splints.

Chris watched his friend as he laid there staring at the ceiling. He kept his hands raised in the air and would cringe anytime anyone came near them. Chris figured he'd damaged them worse and they had to be hurting quite a bit at this point. He wished the doctor would hurry so he could get him some medication for the pain.

Finally, the doctor entered carrying the newest films of Vin's wrists and hands.

"Well," he began as he put the x-rays into the viewer and switched on the light. "There are four fractures in his left and three in his right. Is that what was there before he fell?" he asked as he stared at the images in front of him.

"Yeah, those were there."

"Thought so, they look like they're starting to heal nicely. They don't seem to have gotten worse by this, which is good and there don't seem to be any new fractures, which is also good." The doctor stared silently for a minute or so. "It does appear that the cartilage in both wrists is inflamed." He turned around and approached Vin. Gently, with his thumb and forefinger on either side of his wrist, he began pressing on the area. Vin tried to pull away but that just caused more pain and he squeezed his eyes shut. "Yeah, it feels a little swollen in there. Unfortunately, there isn't more we can do for him except put the splints back in place. Put ice on the areas for the next twenty-four hours and that will help reduce the swelling. Has he been able to use his hands at all?"

"Yeah, the thumbs and first couple of fingers, as long as he wasn't trying to lift something too heavy. He was able to feed himself," Chris answered.

"Well, I don't know if he'll be able to do that for a day or two now. His whole hand is going to hurt and may actually feel numb for a while but the swelling should go down in a couple of days and then he'll be back to where he was before he fell. Is he on any pain medication?" the doctor asked and Chris told him what Vin was taking. "He may need something stronger for a day or so. We can give him a shot here or I can give you a prescription for something."

Chris choose the shot, knowing it would get into Vin's system faster and relieve his pain sooner. They gave him the shot and replaced the splints and then Vin was ready to go. Chris signed him out and met up with Buck in the waiting area.

"So, what'd they say?" he asked when his friends emerged.

"No more damage to the bones but the cartilage is inflamed. Gave him a shot for the pain and said to keep ice on his wrists for twenty-four hours. We better get him home. I can tell the shot's starting to take affect." Chris and Buck led Vin out to and into the truck. He slumped against Buck's side as Chris started the engine and pulled out.

"Man, I think he's asleep already," Buck said as he craned his neck down to look in Vin's face.

"They said they gave him something stronger than what he was already taking and he slept a lot on that."

"You know we'll probably have to carry him into the house."

Chris glanced at his friend, shrugged and nodded. He pulled the truck out onto the road and headed for home.