They did have to practically carry Vin inside, though he wasn't completely unconscious. He groggily opened his eyes and tried to comply with what his friends wanted him to do. They led him to the bedroom and Chris wondered if Vin had to use the bathroom. After a word with Buck, they thought it was a good idea to at least take him into the room and see if he acted like he needed to relieve himself.

Even drugged like he was, Vin felt embarrassed at having the two men in the bathroom with him so Chris sent Buck to get the ice packs for Vin's wrists. He watched Vin fumble with the sweatpants he had on but his fingers refused to obey him. Finally, Chris reached in and did what needed to be done.

Buck was waiting outside the bathroom to help get Vin to bed. They got him settled and Vin fell asleep immediately. Chris took the ice packs from Buck and gently laid them across Vin's wrists. He was hoping the pressure of them wouldn't add to Vin's pain but the man didn't seem to notice, didn't move at all. Buck and Chris exchanged glances then turned and left the room.

Chris looked up at the clock as he and Buck wearily trudged into the kitchen. Nearly four in the afternoon. He wondered why he didn't feel more hungry and looked over at Buck, about to ask if he wanted anything to eat.

"Guess JD should be rolling back in soon," Buck said.

"Yeah," Chris agreed absently. "You aren't gonna be too lonesome without him, are you? I mean, you can stay here again too, if you want," Chris needled him.

Buck twisted his lips up into a half-sneer. "Funny, Larabee, funny. No, I think I can find a way to entertain myself without the kid there. Once he gets here, we'll do another sweep around outside and then I'll head out. Josiah and Nathan should be along soon."

Chris nodded his head. "Okay."

Before either man could say anymore, the doorbell rang. Chris went to answer it.

"Hi, Chris," JD greeted as he lifted up a small gym bag. "I wasn't sure what to get for Vin so I just stuffed this full," he explained as he entered the house. "How's Vin doing?"

"He's asleep right now." Chris pointed JD in the direction of the kitchen and followed him in as he explained what the doctor had said.

"Hey, JD," Buck said. "We need to check out around outside before I leave."

"Okay, sure, Buck." JD put down his bag and Vin's and followed Buck outside.

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

Nathan and Josiah showed up just as nightfall was settling in. Buck had left more than an hour before and Chris and JD were watching television, though, when asked, neither man could describe what they had been watching.

The men carried on little conversation over the course of the evening. The two new arrivals asked about Vin, and Chris and JD asked about what had occurred at the office. Every couple of hours, Chris ventured to his room to replace the ice in the packs on Vin's wrists. Once, while sitting beside his sleeping friend, he just watched ... watched and wondered about what Vin was going through. To suddenly lose the ability to communicate with people must be scary. He knew how he felt when he was in a foreign country and didn't know the language but at least he had the ability to talk and read and could manage to get himself around. He had never been to a country where they didn't use the same alphabet that English used. He assumed it was something like that for Vin, except he couldn't express himself either. That made him wonder even more. What was going on in his mind and was Vin even able to understand his own thoughts?

Josiah had made a pot of his famous chili for dinner and the four men dug in quietly. Nathan had been reading the print-outs that JD had gotten and was very interested in reading more. He hated that men would consider doing such things to other men but the medic in him found the subject fascinating.

After dinner, Nathan and Josiah made their first inspection of the property surrounding the house and found no signs of any intruders. Again, Chris wondered if he hadn't gotten a little paranoid but decided that since AD Travis had allowed the team this, he would take advantage of it.

Vin had barely shifted his position in bed during the hours he'd been asleep. Chris thought maybe he should wake his friend up, just to be sure he was okay, but Nathan had told him that with the medication they had given him at the clinic, he would probably sleep through the night. Chris changed the ice in the pack once again before he slid wearily into his side of the bed. He didn't need to set his alarm so he would wake up to change the ice in a few hours. He knew his internal clock would get him up. It hadn't failed him yet.

Nathan took the couch in the living room and Josiah slept in the spare bedroom while JD began pecking away again on the computer. He'd wait a little while longer before he tried to hack into that company's computer but there was still stuff online that he could look up. Even though he hadn't gotten much sleep the night before, and what he had gotten was spent bent over the desk, he didn't feel tired.

On every trek to the kitchen to get ice, Chris checked in on JD. On the trip after JD had gotten some more files downloaded, Chris hurried the fresh ice packs to Vin and returned to the den to read the new information. JD had gotten the subject files and Chris eagerly devoured them, trying to learn more about what Vin was experiencing and what to expect.

"I still didn't get all the files I saw in that doctor's folder on this stuff," JD was explaining to Chris. "I think if I get in one more time, I'll be able to get the rest of it."

"This stuff is just what we're looking for, JD," Chris praised the young man. "There's sections here that the subjects wrote themselves after they got better describing what they experienced. We can tell exactly what Vin is going through."

JD picked up some of the pages and began reading himself.

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

Nathan came into the kitchen early in the morning and found Chris sitting at the table reading the stack of papers in front of him. He could smell the coffee but when he went to the coffee maker, he found only a small amount turning to sludge at the bottom of the pot. Smiling to himself, he grabbed the pot, emptied and rinsed it out, and made a fresh pot. All the while he was doing that, Chris never looked up from what he was reading.

"Must be pretty good," Nathan said as he sat down across the table from Chris and indicated the papers. "JD get some more useful stuff?"

Chris looked up at Nathan and nodded slightly. "Yeah, he got all the subject files. A lot of the stuff is the same from subject to subject so I guess that stuff we can assume Vin is experiencing." Although Chris had been thinking of Vin while he read, as he actually mentioned the man's name, he thought of the man in the bed. He scooted his chair back. "I should go check on him, make sure he hasn't woken up...change his ice packs."

Nathan nodded as he reached for some of the pages and began to read. Chris headed out of the room and towards the other end of the house.

Chris silently opened his bedroom door and slipped up to the side of the bed. Vin was still in the same basic position he had been in all night but Chris did notice that his eyes were now open, staring at the window. He sat down on the edge of the bed and laid a gentle hand on Vin's thigh.

"Mornin', Vin," he smiled. Slowly, Vin rolled his head over till his eyes met Chris's. They still looked a little glazed and Chris was surprised that the medication they had given him hadn't completely worn off yet. Just to be sure, he reached up and felt Vin's forehead. It felt normal.

Chris tried to figure out a way to ask Vin if he wanted to get up or sleep some more but didn't know how to convey it. Finally, he patted Vin's stomach and then pointed to his mouth. "Hungry?" he asked.

Vin stared at him for a long time, his expression unchanging. Chris couldn't tell if he didn't understand or if he was thinking it over or, possibly, wasn't totally awake yet. Finally, Vin shook his head slightly and turned his eyes back to the window.

Chris sighed sadly. If Vin were anything like this while he was in the hospital, it was no wonder they put him on anti-depressants. Once having that thought, Chris realized Vin was due his pills and got up to go get them. He returned to the bedside a minute later with Vin's medications and a glass of water. He tapped Vin on the shoulder to get his attention but when Vin turned to see what he wanted and saw the pills, he shook his head no and turned away again.

Chris set the items down on the night stand and reached over to try and help Vin to a sitting position but Vin yanked his shoulder out of Chris's grasp and rolled over onto his side, gingerly placing his forearms on the mattress in front of him. Chris placed his hand on Vin's shoulder and tried to roll him back but Vin turned pained eyes on him and Chris stopped. He drew his hand away and could almost feel Vin's pain flow into him.

Chris sighed again and shook his head, not knowing what to do. He thought maybe the pain killer from the day before was muddling Vin's thoughts a little, though he seriously doubted it. He decided to let it go for a while and try again later. He retrieved the ice packs from where they had fallen when Vin rolled over and placed them back on Vin's wrists. He patted Vin's shoulder a few times and left the room, pulling the door all but closed.

Nathan was drinking coffee in the kitchen as he read through the pages Chris had left behind. While Chris had focused his reading on the subjects' comments, Nathan found what looked like the doctor's private journal and that's what he was reading when Chris came back in.

"So, is he okay?" Nathan asked, looking up as Chris took a seat beside him.

"Hell if I know. Couldn't get anything out of him, or into him for that matter. I couldn't get him to take his pills and he sure acts like he needs them, especially the anti-depressant."

"Wait a minute . . . Vin's taking anti-depressants?" Nathan asked, surprised, which in turn surprised Chris.

"Yeah. The hospital in Texas prescribed them for him. I guess he was a little withdrawn down there." Chris waved his hand feebly towards the part of the house where the bedrooms were. "Unlike how he is here," he mocked. He was getting frustrated with the situation.

"You can't give him those, Chris. It says here in the doctor's notes that any kind of mood elevator, anti-depressant, even amphetamines can significantly extend the recovery period." Nathan shuffled through the papers as he spoke, looking for the pages that would back up what he was saying. When he found the ones he was looking for, he handed them to Chris for him to read and waited patiently while he absorbed the information.

"It doesn't say what 'significantly' is. Could be a week, could be a few hours. Is it worth letting him slide into a deep depression to save a couple of days?" Chris ran his hand over his face.

Nathan raised his mug up to his lips and sipped quietly as he mulled over Chris's question. "Vin's a strong man, Chris. I think he'll get through this fine. I also think he'd want to get Chassen put away so if there is a chance that, by laying off these pills, he'll get better sooner, I think Vin would want to do it."

Chris shook his head. "You haven't been around him, Nathan. He's practically given up already. I've never seen a look of defeat like I just saw in his eyes."

"But how much of that is what the drug's doing and how much is the broken hands? The Vin I know would be more upset about having to have things done for him than the other problem. He's probably already figured out that he can learn other ways to communicate and though he'll be frustrated at first, he'll do what needs to be done."

"Well, right now, he's not doing anything. He's just lying in bed staring out the window."

"We need to get him up," Nathan said flatly.

Chris shook his head. "He doesn't want to get up."

"Which is all the more reason to get him up. You leave him alone, depressed, lying in bed and he's just going to get worse. Get him up, dressed, include him in what's going on here and he'll feel better."

Chris thought about it. That did make a certain amount of sense. If the reason he was depressed was because he was feeling isolated from the rest of them, letting him stay alone in bed was just going to reinforce those feelings. "So, what should we do?"

"Get him out of bed, clean him up, put him in his own clothes and, as much as possible, don't treat him like he's an invalid."

"That's not going to be that easy. He can't do much of anything with both his hands broken, and he's worse off now after that fall he took."

"We do what we have to for him," Nathan shrugged. "Do it with compassion but no pity. His mind still works, Chris, even if he can't express what's going on inside."

Chris stared hard at Nathan as his advice sank in. Chris hated the idea of forcing Vin to do something he didn't want to do but what Nathan was saying made sense. If they treated Vin like he was sick, he'd act like he was sick, and probably only get worse. Chris started nodding slowly. "So, Doc, what do we do first?"

The two men stood up as Nathan began, "First, we get him out of bed. He may fight us on that so be prepared." They moved on to the bedroom silently.

Chris pushed open the door to his room and noticed Vin hadn't moved since he had left him. He paused just inside the room and took a deep breath as he readied himself for what they had to do. Then, putting a smile on his face, he marched forward and flung back the blankets covering Vin. "Come on, Vin. Time to get up."

Vin jerked slightly in surprise at the action, then scowled at his two friends. Why couldn't they just leave him alone?

Chris grabbed his arm gently and began to pull him over onto his back. Vin yanked his arm free and tried to scoot further over in the bed to escape.

"Oh, no you don't. It's reveille time, Vin," Chris persisted as he grabbed Vin's arm again, this time with a firmer grip. He pulled his friend towards the edge of the bed. Nathan stepped up and grabbed Vin's ankles, shifting them towards the edge. Vin twisted his legs, trying to release them from Nathan's hands but the hold was too strong. Vin pulled and yanked on each of his limbs, trying to loosen the hold they had on him so he could lay back down but he didn't have the strength to fight both men. Eventually, Vin stopped squirming and clenched his teeth as he glared at the two men.

Chris's expression turned softer as he saw the hurt behind the glare. He sat down on the edge of the bed so he was on eye level with Vin. "I know you don't want to do this, Vin, but it's for your own good. You just make yourself feel worse by lying in here alone." Chris dropped a light hand onto Vin's head and stroked it slowly down to his neck where he squeezed firmly. He hoped his tone and action expressed what he knew the words didn't to Vin.

Slowly, Chris felt Vin's body lose its tension. Vin lowered his eyes to his lap and when Chris stood and pulled Vin to his feet, the man did not resist.

Chris led Vin into the bathroom, followed by Nathan. He and Nathan began tending to the wounds on Vin's arms, gently removing the splints. Vin cringed at the movement but didn't pull away. With both men working, they made short work of the task and before long were putting the splints back in place. Nathan remarked that his arms were healing nicely.

Once that was done, the two men had to figure out how to get Vin cleaned up. They could do another 'bird bath' but those didn't clean all that thoroughly. They also had to wash Vin's hair and decided the best way to do it all was stick Vin in the bathtub and give him a bath. If they thought getting him out of bed was hard, they knew it would be doubly hard getting him into the tub and getting him to allow his friends to scrub him down.

Chris left the room for a few minutes as he rummaged through some drawers, coming back with several old dry cleaner bags. He knew he'd saved them for something. And his friends called him a pack rat! He and Nathan wrapped them around the splints in order to keep them dry once they got Vin in the tub.

Nathan went to the tub and started filling it with not-too-hot water and Chris started undressing Vin. Vin seemed to figure out what was going on and, though he didn't fight Chris, he definitely couldn't have been accused of cooperating.

Once he had Vin down to his underwear, Chris suggested that Nathan leave and let him handle it. It was embarrassing enough for Vin in front of one person. Two just doubles the agony. Nathan reluctantly agreed and left the room, shutting the door behind him.

Chris turned to face Vin and just looked at him for a long moment. Slowly, Vin raised his eyes up to meet Chris's. He held his gaze for a few seconds and slowly let his eyes fall shut, taking a deep breath as he did. Chris rested his hand on the side of Vin's neck and squeezed gently, reassuringly. Then, without watching, he lowered his hands down and slipped the underwear down off Vin's hips and let them fall to the floor. Chris put a hand on Vin's arm and pushed him in the direction of the half full tub. Vin resisted for a moment, then stepped up to the side. Chris steadied him and urged him to climb in. As he did, Vin lowered his chin to his chest in defeat. He felt humiliated and he didn't know if he could keep his tears from falling.

Once Vin was sitting in the tub with his elbows resting on the edges, his hands held up in the air, Chris went to work lathering up a washcloth and rubbing it over Vin's back, arms and shoulders. He moved to Vin's stomach and bit his lip as he moved down to the parts under the water's surface. He knew Vin was embarrassed and tried to comfort him with idle words but Vin continued to tense up.

Chris knew this bath wasn't as good as Vin would normally give himself but it was definitely better than what they could have done from the sink. When the washing was done, Chris leaned back on his heels and took a short break before he tackled washing Vin's hair.

Standing up, Chris grabbed the shower wand and pulled it out of its hanger. For once, other than cleaning, this movable shower head was coming in handy. Chris turned on the water and got the temperature adjusted then reached up and grabbed a bottle of shampoo. He got Vin to open his eyes long enough to see the bottle and figure out what Chris was getting ready to do. Vin closed his eyes tight and waited for Chris to continue.

It actually felt good to Vin to be getting his hair washed. It hadn't been done since his last day in the hospital and needed it badly. Plus, with all the water running down his face, if some tears should fall, Chris wouldn't notice, or would think he got soap in his eyes.

Chris made one last rinse of Vin's head and turned off the water. He wondered if Vin normally used a conditioner on his hair because it was longer. He didn't have any so it was a moot point, but he wondered anyway. He grabbed both of Vin's upper arms and helped him to stand and step out of the tub. He immediately grabbed a large towel and wrapped it around Vin's waist, tucking one corner in to hold it in place. Then, he grabbed another towel and began drying him off, starting with his hair.

Chris had managed to get Vin dried off, trying to give the impression of doing it in a completely detached manner. He tried not to let himself feel embarrassed at rubbing the towel over Vin's body, hoping Vin knew it was just something that had to be done. However, when he was finished and looked up to Vin's face, about to ask 'there, that wasn't so bad, was it?' he saw Vin's eyes shut and a single tear rolling down his cheek.

"Come on, Vin. It's okay," Chris soothed as he placed a hand on the side of Vin's face. Vin blinked his eyes open but took a long time to bring them to meet Chris's.

Chris didn't need to talk, never really did with Vin, and now was no different. Vin could see that Chris was doing what he was doing because he cared and he wanted to make him feel better. He wasn't trying to humiliate him, not that he ever would, Vin knew, but was just doing things for him that he couldn't do himself.

Vin closed his eyes as he took a deep breath and opened them when he exhaled. Chris smiled as he saw a less upset expression on the man in front of him. He hoped that Vin was coming to accept the help his friends were giving him, knowing it was only until he could do things for himself again. But then, he thought of the communication problem. Vin didn't know it wasn't permanent, didn't know he'd be back to normal soon. Chris just couldn't come up with a way to get that information through to Vin. He figured all they could do was help him and keep him safe until it happened.

Chris led Vin out into the bedroom where Nathan had delivered the gym bag JD had packed for Vin but which had been ignored until now. Chris sat Vin down on the edge of the bed, the towel still in place around his waist. He opened the bag and began pulling items out. There were several tee- shirts, some sweatshirts and pants, plenty of underwear and socks and a pair of blue jeans. Chris wondered how JD managed to fit all that into the small bag. He also found a toothbrush and realized that Vin hadn't brushed his teeth since he'd been there and he wrinkled his nose at the thought. He knew he would have to do that for Vin too.

He decided to dive right in and picked up a pair of underwear. He squatted in front of Vin and got him to raise his feet so he could slide them onto his legs. Going as far as he could with Vin sitting, he indicated he should stand and slowly, Vin eased himself up. Chris raised the underwear up under the towel from the outside of the leg openings, getting it all the way up before he removed the towel. He glanced down furtively, checking to make sure they were, indeed, in place. He knew that every man had their own way of situating themselves in their clothes but had no intention of adjusting Vin. He guessed Vin would find a way to do that himself if he were that uncomfortable.

As expected, Vin had closed his eyes to the whole process. Admitting and agreeing to help and liking it were two different things.

Chris got Vin's attention and pointed to all the clothes spread out on the bed, trying to let Vin pick out what he wanted to wear, but Vin just shrugged. Chris picked up a pair of gray sweats and a navy blue tee-shirt and put them on him. He sat Vin on the edge of the bed to get his socks on him. He glanced around, knowing the man's sneakers were around somewhere and found them. He slid Vin's feet in and tied the laces. When he looked up, Vin was staring down at the front of his tee-shirt. It was a shirt all the men had. It said 'Property of Denver ATF'. Chris was sure Vin recognized the shirt and knew what it referred to. Again, the sad expression came over Vin's face.

Chris hated this. Vin could go from happy to sad to accepting to angry in a matter of minutes. He didn't blame Vin, quite the contrary, he knew he'd probably react the same way, but it was so difficult to watch and know there was little he could do for him.

Chris pulled Vin up to a standing position and wrapped his arms around his friend, holding him tight. Vin didn't pull away, something Chris half-expected. Vin rested his cheek on Chris's shoulder and drew strength from the embrace, from his friend.

"I'm gonna take care of you, Vin," Chris whispered softly. "I care about you too much to let you go through this alone." He knew if Vin could understand him, he'd probably belt him one. He glanced over towards the door, checking to make sure no one had sneaked in and overheard. He wasn't ashamed of the feelings he had for Vin, how close the two were, but the whole world didn't need to know.

Chris held him for several long moments, then pulled away and straightened up. He picked up Vin's toothbrush from off the bed and held it up in front of Vin.

"Feel like brushing?"

Chris thought Vin almost looked relieved and, if not eagerly, at least without resistance, followed him back to the bathroom. Chris wet the brush and put toothpaste on it. He held it up, not knowing if Vin wanted to try doing it himself or if he expected him to do it. Maybe he was just expected to hold the brush and Vin would move his teeth over it.

Vin reached up and tried to take hold of the toothbrush but couldn't apply enough pressure between his thumb and forefinger to keep it secure without causing himself pain. He sighed and simply opened his mouth. Chris began brushing the paste over the surface of Vin's teeth and kept it up for several minutes. He let Vin decide when he'd had enough and when he got that impression, he removed the brush and Vin leaned forward and spit into the sink. Chris got him a glass of water and helped him rinse a few times, then rinsed the brush and set it beside the sink. Vin ran his tongue over his teeth a few times and actually managed a weak smile, which Chris returned with a stronger version.