Laughing. That cackling, mocking sound surrounded him. He couldn't get away from it. He wanted to scream for it to stop but no sound came when he opened his mouth. He spun around, trying to find the source of the noise but it was everywhere, coming from all around him. His mind begged for it to stop as he dropped to his knees and covered his ears.

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

Chris's eyes sprung open and it took a moment for him to get his bearings. This wasn't his room and he had to think to remember where he was and why he was here. After that, he had to figure out what it was that had pulled him out of sleep so abruptly.

There was a whimpering sound beside him. A desperate, feeble crying that tore at his heart. He leaned over to switch on the light and turned back to see Vin sitting up in the bed, his knees pulled up, his elbows resting on his knees and his forearms wrapped around the sides of his head.

Chris took only a second to realize that the whimpering sound was the first noise that he had heard come out of Vin's mouth since he had returned to them, but that second was quickly overtaken with the realization that Vin was distressed and he needed to help. He reached over and put a firm hand on Vin's shoulder and shook.

"Vin," he said softly, not wanting to jar the man awake. With Vin's arm covering his ear, he didn't hear Chris so he repeated the name louder. He shook more firmly but Vin continued his sobbing.

Chris gently pried Vin's arm away from his head and practically shouted his name. It was only a matter of seconds before the rest of the men in the house were gathered at the doorway to the bedroom, wondering what was going on and if they could help.

Chris shifted his position around to where he was facing Vin. He pulled Vin's other arm down and, placing a hand on both shoulders, he shook firmly and shouted, "Vin, wake up. You're okay."

Vin sucked in one final, panicked breath and then held it as his eyes opened wide. What was in front of him was not what he expected to see and he remained still as his brain filtered through the new information. He saw Chris sitting in front of him and it suddenly dawned on him that he had been having a nightmare. He tried to force himself to relax but felt his body still trembling. Chris rubbed his hands up and down Vin's arms reassuringly.

"It's okay, Vin. It's over. You're safe here." Chris wished Vin could tell them what the nightmare had been about. Maybe it would give them a clue as to what Vin was most afraid of, but he had to resign himself to the fact that Vin wasn't able to say and they had to try to comfort him the best they could.

Eventually, Vin relaxed some and only then noticed the three men standing in the doorway, watching him. He bowed his head, embarrassed that he let a nightmare affect him so much.

Josiah stepped into the bathroom and wet a washcloth then entered the bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed beside Vin. There were tear streaks down his cheeks and he was embarrassed to look up at Josiah. With concern born of friendship, Josiah lifted Vin's chin up and gently began wiping down Vin's face.

"Not a man among us who hasn't suffered the same fate, my friend," he told Vin as he worked. "You should know by now that we aren't the type to judge a man based on the way he reacts to the demons that visit him in the night." Josiah knew very well that Vin didn't understand a word that he said but hoped his tone conveyed his feelings. He set the washcloth on his knee and gently eased Vin back down into bed.

Chris watched Vin as Vin watched Josiah. The big man seemed to have Vin's undivided attention. He looked over at the two men still in the doorway and thanked them with a silent nod. The men nodded back and turned to leave. Chris settled back down onto his side of the bed.

Josiah was talking to Vin, telling him a story that Chris didn't recognize. He didn't think it was from the bible but there was a lot in that book that he'd never heard before. It wasn't the story, however, that was having the affect, it was Josiah's deep, resonating voice that split through Vin's body until he was overcome with a calm, almost serene feeling. Moments after that sleep overtook him and his eyes slowly fell shut. Josiah placed a big hand on the side of Vin's face and held it there a moment.

"Thanks, Josiah," Chris whispered. Josiah nodded but didn't look away from the sleeping man. Finally, he stood and left the room. Chris reached over and turned out the light.

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

Vin wasn't eating again. Chris huffed as he sat down in a chair by the kitchen table. Vin sat disinterestedly at the other end, wouldn't even look up from his lap. Chris hated these mood swings his friend seemed to go through. He'd be fine for a while, a few hours, maybe even a day, then he'd be back at the bottom of the emotional pit. He fingered the bottle of anti-depressants again. Then, he glanced at the file folder sitting in the counter. He pulled it down to the table and opened it up. On top of the contents was a picture of Russell Chassen. The whole reason for the situation. Chris glanced at Vin and wondered if he really cared anymore whether Chassen went to prison or not.

Nathan grunted and stretched as he entered the room. "Morning, Chris," he said. "The boys head out already?"

Chris nodded absently. "Yeah, they took off about half hour ago. They're making a token visit to the office. Buck'll be here in a little while and then you'll be free to go."

Nathan shrugged. "Ain't in no hurry." He looked over at Vin. "How's he doing today?"

Chris looked over at his friend and sighed. "Miserable. Won't eat."

"I wouldn't worry too much about that, Chris," Nathan began, trying to alleviate some of his leader's concern. "He's still eating some and he's not doing a whole lot to burn off any energy. He'll be fine."

Chris nodded at Nathan's words, knowing the man was probably right, but it still worried him. He looked back down at the file in front of him and his blood boiled as he looked at the face in the picture. He picked up the folder and held it up for Nathan to see.

"I wish we could do the same thing to this bastard that they did to Vin. See how he likes it." He knew it was an empty threat. They'd never get close to the man but Chris burned with a desire to see him suffer. He tossed the folder back down onto the table and gritted his teeth as he tried to calm his anger.

Vin had glanced up at the sound of the folder hitting the table and now sat transfixed by something he saw in front of him. Some of the items had spilled out of the folder and one held his attention. There was something familiar about it, familiar yet foreboding. He slowly reached forward and, with his fingertips, eased a photograph away from the other papers and slid it around until it was staring at him. Instantly, the dreadful cackling sound echoed through his mind. He sucked in a breath loud enough for Chris to hear.

"Vin?" Chris reached out and placed his hand over Vin's. Vin continued to stare at the picture and Chris noticed the intensity of the gaze. He moved to where he could see the photograph right side up and then looked up into Vin's eyes. "You recognize him, Vin?"

Slowly, Vin turned panicked eyes to meet Chris's. He opened his mouth and seemed to be trying to force words to come out, but no sound emerged. Vin touched a finger to the picture then raised it up to the side of his head, trailing it down to the side of his mouth, pausing, and continuing down the outside of his throat.

"This is the guy that drugged you?" Chris asked, though he got his answer from Vin's eyes.

"Who is it?" Nathan asked, stepping forward.

Chris turned to Nathan. "Parker Perkins."

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

"Okay, well, thanks anyway, Judge," Chris was saying into his cell phone as Buck wandered in from the kitchen with a can of soda in his hand. He would have much preferred a beer but wouldn't while he was working.

"That didn't sound too promising," he said as he took a seat in the worn chair that faced the sofa where Chris sat.

Chris flattened the antenna of his cell phone with his palm and replaced it in its case. "Naw, the judge says that he didn't think they'd call what Vin gave a positive ID of the guy and it wouldn't be enough to back up an APB on him. Said the defense attorneys'd be all over it before it ever got out." Chris rubbed his jaw with his hand. "They're probably right. Can't say for sure what Vin was trying to tell us."

Buck leaned back in his seat. "He still upstairs?"

Chris glanced at the stairway and nodded. "Asleep, again, last I checked."

Buck acknowledged the information with a nod. "JD said he had a pretty bad nightmare last night."

Chris scoffed briefly, wondering if anyone ever had a good nightmare. "Yeah, something scared him pretty bad. Tried this morning to get him to try and describe it but he wouldn't. Maybe he didn't understand what we were asking but I think he did, just didn't want to go into it or didn't know how."

"Couldn't get Vin to talk about something like that when he was himself, let alone now."

"Yeah," Chris whispered his agreement as his mind wandered back to the night before and the panicked look on Vin's face. After a moment, he shook his head, trying to rid himself of the image, and changed the subject. "So, when is Ezra due to roll in here?"

"Team twelve had some stuff they wanted to go over with him on the undercover part of the DeBreezie case. Said he'd head on over after they were through with him."

"Think he'll bring a deck of cards with him?" Chris didn't know why he asked, the man always had a deck with him, but he was starting to feel the boredom and would even welcome a game with the notorious con man.

"I'll call and make sure," Buck said as he reached for Chris's cell phone. "Anything else you want him to bring?" he asked as he pulled the phone out of its case. Before Chris could answer, their attention was drawn to a small, metallic object that had fallen from the phone case to bounce on the coffee table and come to rest on the carpeted floor. Both men looked at the object for a moment.

"Oh, SHIT!" Chris cursed as he recognized the thing as a tracking device. "They must have put it in my phone while it was in my truck at that parking lot."

"We've got to get out of here!" Buck said urgently as he stood up.

"You got your vest here?" Chris asked as he stood also.

"Yeah, in my truck out back," Buck answered.

"I want us in them. I'll get yours and the ones out of the agency car. You go get Vin up and ready to leave."

Buck nodded and headed for the stairs.