The Wreck

by H. Flaherty

Part 5

Chris and Nathan held the head of the wire mesh stokes stretcher. A safety rope had been tied to the head of the stretcher and secured to an emergency truck up on the road. Vin lay immobilized and unconscious. An oxygen tank sat nestled between blanketed legs. A plastic tubing snaked up over the blanket to the clear plastic mask that covered his nose and face. The liter of fluids that fed the bounty hunter's arm rested at his shoulder. His neck was held in position by a cervical collar and his head was held firm by the heavy styrofoam blocks on either side of it. The hiss of oxygen was lost in the labored breath of the four men that struggled to carry the stretcher up the slippery slope.

JD paced back and forth at the edge of the road. Flood lights swamped the area lighting it like a little league field. What was taking so long? The rescue crew was volunteer. Dunne had been skeptical at first with their ability. The firemen had come in an assorted sizes and ages. Some even looked younger than JD. This did not reassure Dunne very much...until Buck softly pointed out that was how other Federal agents perceived JD. Dunne had bristled under such foolish bias and heaved against would seem the blind labeling of age with ability also fell to him. He held his tongue and waited.

Ezra still argued over being removed from the truck. Despite Buck and Josiah's best attempts to reassure the undercover agent, Standish had continued to resist any attempt to move him. After a short communication with the hospital, an EMT administered a sedative to the southerner's calf. Ezra cursed and berated them for the unfairness and unkindness of their actions.

Josiah and Buck stood back with arms crossed and chuckled while the undercover agent fought the undeniable effects of the drug. Buck bobbed his head to the cadence of Standish's soft indignant outburst until the words tapered off into a muddling of incoherent sounds.

The older volunteer EMT sat back on his haunches and waited patiently.

Standish's head thudded softly against the passenger side window and his left hand slid from seatbelt release. He still mumbled and carried on sporadically but his rebellion had been doused with a simple injection.

"All right boys let's get this leg immobilized and git him topside." The EMT, shook his head in amazement. Some people just did not know what was good for them. The small crew quickly set themselves to task moving with the efficiency of a large city trained team.

+ + + + + + +

Chris sat in the small jump seat beside Vin. The IV bag hung from a plastic protected hook. A deflated blood pressure cuff enveloped his left biceps. Oxygen still fed the small mask over the sharp shooter's pale face.

It was an hours drive to the nearest hospital. Larabee had cringed at the time delay fearing that an hour may very likely be a life time.

Chris stared out the small back windows. The lettering from the word 'Ambulance' obscured his view. The flashing lights from the ambulance behind them whipped shadows across his face. Buck rode in the second vehicle leaving JD, Nathan and Josiah to bring the Suburban back to the rural hospital they were now heading toward.

Larabee shook his head in dismay. Buck had told him how the EMT had to sedate Standish to get him out of the truck. Chris wondered briefly if he made a mistake by not taking the deal offered to him earlier. Standish could be pretty caustic on his own.

The ambulance hit a teeth rattling pot hole. Larabee grabbed the side of the gurney to keep himself upright. His attention fell to his unconscious agent. It was amazing Vin had managed to lived this long attracting mishaps like he did. The quiet Texan fell in to trouble like most people fell into water.

The hour passed by quickly. The change in time marked by the passage from dirt road to paved. It seemed in no time that the ambulance was backing up to the emergency door of the small one level hospital. The driver jumped out of the truck and rang the buzzer. A nurse opened the back door. She quickly dropped a wooden door jam at the base of the door holding it open.

Chris wondered when they had left the twentieth century.

Chris helped the EMT's unload Tanner. He kept his hands on the side rails keeping pace and ignoring the seemingly chaotic movements around him. Then someone patted his shoulder and diverted his attention from the tracker.


Jackson whispered something that fell on deaf ears. Chris allowed himself be led from the closed off curtained area. He had been through this drill many times.

Nathan led Chris back through the emergency doors to the waiting room. Larabee noticed Josiah but could not find JD or Buck. Those two off together were almost as bad as Vin and Ezra. Speaking of Standish, he had not noticed the undercover agent get wheeled in.

"Where's Ezra?" Larabee asked. He did not want the Southerner slithering around in a drug induced haze. That's all they needed now....was to get thrown out of a hospital. Irritating man.

"They took'im to Radiology, Chris," Nathan answered. A TV whispered in the upper left hand corner of the waiting room. Plastic covered chairs graced the small room. The linoleum was warped and cracked but clean. A concave path had been worn into the floor. Old magazines and children's books lay on imitation wood square coffee tables. A Coke machine and vending machine sat on the opposite side of the room. Hand made curtains hung in small square windows. The unmaskable, disinfectant, institutional smell that permeated all large city hospitals hung like a blanket in the air.

"He causin' any more trouble?" Chris asked. He did not want to have to threaten his agent before he felt good and ready.

"Nah, Buck and JD went along to keep'im in line," Jackson answered settling into the stiff wooden arm chairs.

Josiah allowed a chuckle to roll from him. That would be like asking a pickpocket to watch your wallet. These poor people had no idea what they just admitted through their doors.

Barney, the singing purple dinosaur, sang and danced his way across the television. Nathan hoped Chris would not pull his gun and end the jolly reptile's TV existence.

+ + + + + + +

Buck and JD sat outside the Radiology department. It consisted mostly of an open room with another naugahyde covered gurney and assorted x-ray equipment. A small sign hung over the door way labeling the small room with a function. Through the window they could see Standish. An IV led to a bare forearm. The LRS bag flashed a bright orange label. A hospital gown had been loosely tied around his neck. The head laceration had been cleaned and scrubbed but had not been sutured yet.

Dunne pushed Buck out of the way. He wanted to see. Whatever they had given Standish had knocked him for a loop. He lay passively on the table fighting the exhaustion that dragged on him. He did not struggle against the positioning of his head for different angles on the skull series. The leg would be filmed next. JD waved to the undercover agent. Standish just stared at him blankly.

"Geez Buck ya think they could heal him will all the radiation," JD quipped leaning against the tile wall. He let his eyes roam up and down the hallway and wondered when the last time this place had been revamped. Probably when the Brady Bunch was a hit series. And what the heck was the movie Josiah and Nathan talking about on the way back here?..... 'Deliverance' or something another. Dunne would have to research it.

Wilmington leaned against the door way peering down the hall way in the direction of the nurses station. A couple of times he took an unconscious step in that direction but refrained. He and JD had a job to do. He could try his magical charm on the hospital staff once Standish was safely tucked away in a drug induced slumber. Until then he had to protect the hospital from Standish and protect Ezra from Larabee. Though the threat was minimal on both fronts...history proved it would be foolish to underestimate the destructive forces of all parties concerned.

Vin was Nathan and Chris's concern. Buck smiled Tanner could be down right ornery and mean when hurt. There was no appeasing the Sharpshooter when was injured. Buck grinned. With Standish all you had to do was tempt him with a deck of cards. Josiah had the luxury of floating amongst the group weaving his special brand of confusion with all his verses.

Once they were sure Vin was ok and Chris would not go off the deep end or fall to the effects of a developing ulcer...then Buck would weave his individual charm on the nursing staff. Wilmington smiled.

"Buck git yer mind outta the gutter," Dunne said seeing his friends wishful features.

Forty five minutes later a white coated doctor, with coffee in hand, strode past the two agents and breezed into the Radiology room. Wilmington and Dunne followed on his heels. With a cursory glance the Doctor looked over the injured man on the gurney. He was breathing and far so good. The real physical had been earlier.

The elderly physician explained what he found on the film. Buck and JD merely nodded...whatever. Chuckling softly to himself the Doctor gave a few orders to the nurse that had mysteriously materialized at his side and breezed back out of the room still sipping on his coffee.

Buck and JD helped put Standish back on the rolling gurney and rolled him to yet another room. Standish for his part stared owl eyed up at the grinning mustached features of Buck. Ezra tried to sit up and managed to raise his head off the small pillow.

"Not yet Ez," Buck said laying his hand over his friends face and forced his head back down on the pillow.

+ + + + + + +

Chris entered the orthopedic room a few minutes later. He heard Buck saying, "Trust me Doc. Ez here is on the cutting edge of fashion...." Larabee knew that tone. Wilmington was trying to pull a fast one on the medical community. The emergency room physician was not buying what Buck was trying to sell but the older doctor was listening.

JD chimed in, "Ez would be upset if we didn't say something."

Chris furrowed his brow and entered the room. The doctor held two rolls of casting material. The bright colors alone were blinding. Combined?...they were down right nauseous. Ezra would kill them.

The undercover agent lay on the stretcher between them. An anesthetic had been slipped into his IV. His glassy wide eyes had simply rolled and shut without a fight. A young doctor was stitching the temple laceration trying not to smirk at the outlandish color selection that was going on further down the stretcher. The dislocated shoulder had been grated back into place with a lot of sweat and exertion on the orthopod's part. Standish had slept serenely through the ordeal. JD had backed out of the room at the sound of grinding bone and gross manipulation of the slack joint. Unfortunately he had not made a clean escape and had actually heard the audible pop before the door closed. Dunne had shivered and was glad it was not his shoulder. The two ATF agents actually got to help bandage the shoulder and arm. Dunne thought that was kind of cool. Wait until he told Ezra. A heart monitor beeped in the background keeping tempo with the slow pulse.

"What are you boys doin'?" Chris asked entering the room. Josiah lingered in the door way. It had become his job to shadow Larabee. Chris did not wait very patiently. Nathan had disappeared to quietly inquire about Tanner. Sanchez had begun to wonder if it would not have been a better idea to leave JD and Buck in the truck. Blizzards were more discreet than those two.

Chris had a good idea what was going on.

"'Ey Chris," Buck spoke up turning around. They had not been offered artistic license with the arm and chest wrap but the cast was another creature all together.

"How's Vin?" JD asked. The kid looked like the cat with the canary in his mouth.

"Still in surgery," Larabee answered. He jutted his chin out at the doctor and the two flamboyant colored casting rolls, "Those the colors ya picked for Ezra?"

Buck smiled and waggled his eyebrows. JD kept his mouth shut not sure how Chris would react.

Larabee let a leer spread across his face....let the pay back begin, "Good choice....I'm sure he'll enjoy them," With that he left the room.

"Don't worry Doc. Ole' Ez here will love it." Buck confidently stated. JD bit the inside of his cheek and nodded vigorously.

The doctor watched the small conversation. He did not believe Wilmington's statement for a minute. Something was in the making but it made no difference to him. He had been hauled out of his comfortable bed at 130am for this little accident. A little fun was good for the soul , especially in the wee hours of the morning. He began the task of casting the leg.


Against normal procedure, but without much argument Chris and Nathan followed the Surgeon to the recovery room. The surgeon had delayed the intrusion long enough to give his staff a chance to clean the patient and at least make him appear human again. Though various tubes and wire still connected the injured man to monitors, pumps and bags he was a sight better than he looked right after surgery.

No matter how seasoned the loved one, or how tough the team no one got used to seeing the raw thing just after surgery. No....kid gloves were always donned when dealing with others. It was why surgeons did not do preform surgery on their own. There was a certain degree of callous efficiency in the surgery room and those few moments just after the procedure. No family or friend deserved to be subjected to witnessing such cool economy of time and resources.

The tender reassurances were whispered as dried blood and soaps were washed and scrubbed from wounds. Gentle pats and comforting touches always accompanied the action of manipulating a patient and checking lines. Still recovery could be as gruesome and revealing as surgery to the unaccustomed eye.

Chris stood hearing but not listening as the Surgeon explained what damaged had been done and how they repaired it. Larabee really did not care....not right now. Later yes, later they would need to know what had happened....what bones broke, what organs lacerated but for now Chris only wanted to reassure himself that his agent and friend was indeed alive and going to stay that way.

Vin had better be...cause Chris was going to wring his scrawny neck.

Larabee sat in a plastic yellow chair watching Tanner. Nathan stood at the foot of the bed thumbing through a three ring binder. Josiah had slipped away muttering something about putting a leash on JD and Buck. Chris did not pay much attention to the medic but instead focused on his young unconscious friend.

That was beginning to change. The heart monitor noted a slight increase of rate. A hand weakly struggled to lift itself from the bedside. Instead the forearm muscles flexed slightly the IV catheter moved as the cloudy white tape clung to shifting betadine stained skin. A nasal oxygen mask obscured part of Tanner's features.

Chris noticed all the miniscule changes and sat forward in his chair. A hesitant smile spread as the leader of team seven watched the Texan wrinkle his brow slightly, struggling to wake up.

Larabee waited.....finally an eyelid peeled open, the left eye. The right slowly followed suit. It's sclera had turned a solid bright cherry red.

"'Ey Cowboy," Chris whispered leaning over Vin.

Tanner's glazed blue eyes swiveled slowly toward Larabee. They rested on the blurry face blinking slowly, fighting half heartedly to focus.

Chris....Vin blinked again....still Larabee, "" He muttered.

"In the flesh," Larabee answered back allowing a smile to crease his features.

Tanner's eyes fell shut while he whispered, "Ahhh shit."

Larabee patted the Texan's gowned shoulder reassuringly....

Part 6

Nathan stretched his legs out curling his toes in his boots as he yawned. With arms pulled over his head he arched his back and listened with gratification as the string of pops worked their way down his spine.

Larabee quickly sat up blinking his eyes in a panic. He recognized his surroundings almost immediately quickly squelching the intense sense of disorientation of waking in a strange place.

Vin slept on his side facing Chris. The oxygen mask and nasal canula had been removed. His IV hand curled in front of his face. the right arm was encased in an iridescent pink cast from arm pit to palm. The chapped fingers lay slightly curled off the edge of the bed. Chris grimaced...that should hurt. The injured ribs were on the upside and tightly wrapped.

Nathan had explained the list of injuries last night...lacerated spleen, split Liver capsule, broken ribs, fractured both radius and ulna in the arm and a large contusion/concussion. Larabee listened and nodded....translation.... bedrest and painkillers.....interpretation..Tanner was going to be a bee stung Grizzly in the up coming weeks.

Nathan waited to move until the wild look in Chris's eyes disappeared. The leader of Team Seven could be frighteningly dangerous if properly provoked. The rigors of the last 14 hours were enough to tip any sane man....let alone the puppeteer that pulled the strings for the team.

Jackson slowly pushed himself to his feet. He circled his neck trying to work out the residual kinks.

Early morning sun leaked in around the pulled blinds. The slivers of sunlight felt good on the back of his neck. A chill born of weariness and hunger had settled in his bones. The small respite offered by the struggling rays of the rising sun brought pleasant relief.

The healer stared over at Larabee. Chris pulled the afghan blanket up over his midsection in a feeble attempt to fight off a coldness not inflicted by the ambient temperature of the room. He too was worn out. The hand crafted blankets and afghans that covered both tracker and leader were made by the Senior Citizens in the local 'retirement home'.

"How ya doin' Chris?" Nathan asked. Larabee had stayed by Tanner's side since the ending of surgery. The man was dedicated if nothing else. Jackson and the others at least floated between the two rooms during part of the night.

JD had finally fell asleep on the floor amongst borrowed blankets and pillows. Buck had found a couch and carried it into Standish's room. During his search for a pillow and blanket Sanchez commandeered the couch. Buck having discovered he had been ousted from his temporary sleeping accommodations booted JD off his makeshift bed. Dunne grumbled about the unfairness of the so called 'Pecking order'. The night nurse took pity on the young man's plight a brought in small cot. With a threatening glance at the two older men, she left the room.

Jackson had sought refuge in Vin's room. Chris would not sleep deep enough to snore and was not prone to practical jokes. With a some peace of mind Nathan had caught a few uncomfortable moments of much needed sleep. As he woke he realized he felt more tired than when he had fallen asleep. Chris appeared the same way. Nathan bit his lip and kept his comments to himself.

His quiet musings were interrupted when JD burst through the door looking decidedly well rested.

"'Ey ya doin'?" Dunne asked blowing into the room like a storm front. "Gees Chris you like crap," Dunne did not notice the pure look of animosity fired at him by his hero instead he turned his attention to Nathan, "'Ey Nate...How's Vin?"

Jackson stared at JD as if he had been Hell spawned. How could JD have the nerve to barge in here looking as if he slept a good continuous eight hours? Nathan bit back his jealousy as JD stared at him with his innocent...oblivious....expression.

"He's doin' better," The EMT answered. Chris was still trying to push down his murderous side and fish out the part of him that acted civil in public. "Woke up a few times was pretty coherent....How's Ezra doin?" Jackson figured he had better buy Chris some time and thus spare JD's life.

Standish was down the hall. Unlike Vin who had brief visitations with consciousness through the night. Ezra slept like the dead. It had worried the nursing staff as they had tried to roust the undercover agent and ask him questions every two hours. When they had finally hauled him to a semi-coherent state he slurred out more partial questions than he answered. He had failed to recognize the attempts of the nurses to gage his alertness. Instead he had called out for one of the other six in something close to a panic and when laying eyes on a familiar face... He would soundly fall back to sleep. It had gotten to the point where the night nurse simply woke either Josiah or Buck allowing one of the two agent to bring Standish around.

JD stepped closer to Vin's side to get a good view of the hot pink cast. Buck had drawn a huge heart on it and in the middle he had scrolled, 'Want ya body luv muffin---E.Mae'. The nurses last night had seen that and had begun to wonder about the preferences of the mustached man. It had progressed even worse when Wilmington had inscribed 'Ya hunk of Stud---E.Mae' on Ezra's leg along with a cupid. The nurses had bitten their lips and raised their eyebrows but remained professionals. Buck had missed the assumptions made by the female medical staff....Josiah and JD had not and discreetly fanned the fire.

"Ez'?....ohhh he ain't really woke up yet," Dunne answered marveling at Buck's penmanship and drawings. He was very good at caricatures. "Oh yeah he did puke on Josiah earlier, missed the little bowl got it all over Josiah's forearm....jist water though," JD remembered as he tentatively touched the cast on Vin's arm. It certainly was deep pink. Maybe Vin wouldn't notice.

Chris listened and watched his youngest agent. JD's spastic, erratic, movements were to much in the morning when one was suffering from to little sleep. Larabee contemplated in taking some decidedly unfriendly actions toward the wound up young man, "JD...." Larabee nearly snarled out the name.

Nathan cringed.

"Yeah Chris?" Dunne pulled his attention from the sleeping man in the bed and faced his mentor. If there was anything Chris needed JD would do it for him. No task or chore was to big for JD to handle. Larabee was the closest thing Dunne had to a living hero and role model.

Larabee saw the blind trust and eagerness to be helpful. Dismembering him would not be conducive to good working relationship...slightly rewarding but not nice.

"Git...." the leader of team Seven found some civility..., "Could ya find some Coffee maybe?"

"Sure Chris..." Dunne headed for the door checking his pants pocket for some money, "Nathan ya want anything?"

'Jist yer energy kid,' Nathan thought tiredly, "Coffee and something to eat."

JD was about to disappear out the door when Chris called him back, "JD!.."

Dunne turned around and deftly caught the money clip Larabee had tossed to him, "'Ey this is Ezra's..."

"Yup go ask the others what they want for Breakfast," Larabee tossed Nathan a grin, "it's on Ezra so don't hold back."

+ + + + + + +

Vin moved. He had rolled onto his back attempting to give his shoulder and hip some relief. It was done unconsciously. The body was merely trying to alleviate some pressure points. The movements which were unsolicited by the conscious mind sparked painful nerve endings. With a reluctant groan and pounding headache Tanner was pushed into the waking world.

With reflexes all their own and without 'his' permission the eyes blinked open. The small unimpressive event, of opening ones eyes, which occurred world round, had become exceedingly difficult. Vin briefly wondered if this was how Ezra felt every morning when woken up before he deemed it necessary. If it were so...then Tanner empathized with the Southerner...This was hell.

"Come on Vin time to wake up," Chris faced the window. The sun had already passed its midpoint and was headed toward the horizon on the other side of the building.

A voice echoed in his ears. It merely added one more hammer to the chain of them that were using his head as an anvil. Who ever it was he wished they would disappear.

"Vin can ya hear me?"

Hear you? Another hammer joined the troops. His headache made his stomach ache. Misery had finally found a home. Tanner groaned and finally whispered, "Go away."

Chris smiled pleased with himself. He had no intentions of leaving. Not yet....

The doctor had been in already this morning. Blood had been drawn and an infinite number of tests would be run. Amazing what they could do with a few small multi colored collection of tubes. In his Professional opinion Tanner was doing fine. With things improving as they were they would release the Sharpshooter with in the next few days.

Chris sat in his chair sipping a soda. JD had offered to go pick up lunch for everyone. Larabee declined he was still full from the mountain of food Dunne had purchased at the 'Wagon Wheel' for breakfast.

Josiah and Buck decided they needed an excuse to leave the hospital and followed JD out the main entrance in search of lunch. It had turned out to be a beautiful sunny day with the temperatures hitting high forties. It was unseasonably warm in this high mountain community. The three ATF agents took in the sights..which consisted of one main street, three bars, one grocery store and four gas stations and two hardware stores and five burger joints and two pizza houses and one forest green motel. Dunne silently wondered what made people want to live in such places. Josiah enjoyed the solitude of the small town. Buck could not imagine what the folks did with their time off.

Nathan decided to stay behind and stick close to Standish. The doctors and nurses were developing a clear impression that the undercover agent relished his sleep. He was not surly, or even difficult in a vocal, Standish just did not respond to the usual attempts one took to wake someone. The man brought sleeping to an art form. His right leg encased from thigh to toes in alternating hues of hunter orange, fluorescent green and a smattering of black hung slightly elevated off the bed. He should have been extremely uncomfortable added to the fact that his arm lay swathed to his chest in tight, heavy bandages with just his fingers exposed. No normal human being should have been able to remain so deeply in sleep.

In fear that the pain medication was keeping him to deep, the doctor had decided to cut back slightly. In a few hours all they could finagle out of him when they did manage to haul him to a conscious plane was mumbled, 'leg hurts....leg hurts,' over and over oblivious or not caring of the questions asked of him and still refusing to open his eyes. Occasionally he would whisper out a soft chorus of , 'Boat drinks..boys in the band ordered boat drinks....' This amused Buck to no end. It had become a source of torment to his physician. 'Frustrating, very frustrating,' the Doctor would say.....Chris smiled and had tiredly remarked, "Try getting him to come into work on time."

Larabee figured the hospital staff was composed of professionals they would figure something out.

Chris closed his eyes and rubbed his face tiredly with one hand. He had visited Ezra earlier that afternoon. As was typical, Standish stared at him mutely, the same blank uninterested glazed appearance Larabee received when going over expense reports. Chris had finally decided that Standish was sleeping with his eyes open. Shaking his head in dismay Larabee left the room to watch over Tanner. To bad the doctor was not present, at least he would be able to note that the patient did indeed have the ability to open his lids.

Chris now sat in his unforgiving plastic chair and took some pleasure in Tanner's struggles. At least the Texan had the decency to wake on occasion. Larabee coaxed him out of his dark comfortable, pain free world. It was time to face the music so to speak.

The surgeon and Attending had given the good word.... "Tanner was going to heal."

"Vin time to wake up," Larabee ordered. With delight, Chris watched as the blue eyes fluttered open.

"Can ya hear me?" Chris asked. A smile spread across his tired features when the sharpshooter scowled at him. "Time to wake up Cowboy," Chris intoned yet again.

Tanner blinked a few times. Glassy blue eyes stared at the ceiling and finally came to rest on Chris. After a few in determinable moments a thick Texan drawl hoarsely whispered out, "Chris?" The glazed blues eyes were naturally pulled toward the bright, hot, pink solid wrap that encased his arm. "Pink?" He muttered out in confusion.....His arm was a searing, blinding pink....Buck..... Tanner narrowed his eyes. He sluggishly turned his attention toward Larabee, "Pink." He muttered again hoping maybe Chris could change the color.

"Yup," Larabee took another sip of his soda. He placed the 32 oz red paper Coca-Cola cup on the whitish linoleum floor. He slid his chair closer to the bed. The metal legs squeaked and scratched with a spine twisting intensity. Chris's smile grew as Tanner grimaced once again.

Vin did not like the predator type glare in Larabee's amused eyes. The fact he lay in a hospital bed with numerous muffled aches and pains did not bode well. An IV bag hung from a hook and a line ran into his forearm. That could only mean that another catheter, of the non IV family, led from his body into a bag somewhere further down on the bed. An embarrassed flush crept up his pale features.....Vin really hated hospitals.

Chris noticed the sudden self conscious expression flash across his friends almost matched the cast. The urinary catheter had just been discovered. Larabee felt a twinge of guilt. He quickly stifled it.

"What happened?" Vin finally asked. Chris was staring at him like a Bald Faced Hornet surveying its next sting. This was not good.....

Larabee allowed a self satisfied smirk cross his face. He folded his arms in an authoritative manner and leaned back in his chair.... "Well Vin..." He started off, "Let me tell you of a story of a man named...."

+ + + + + + +

Something woke Buck and it did not please him...not one bit. His back hurt, his legs cramped and if he did not know any better this chair was trying to kill him. Whatever had woken him had better be a major crisis or earth shattering event.

It happened again....This time Wilmington saw the movement and heard the low groan. Alright so it was an momentous occasion but this was not the time for one

Buck watched as Standish stirred. The Southerner had been becoming more and more active over the last few minutes. He was finally waking up on his own. Wilmington hit a button on his watch. The small faint green indigo light lit up the digital numbers.....218am. Who the hell wakes up at two in the morning?

He watched as Standish attempted to roll onto his injured shoulder. With a hiss he stopped and rested once again on his back. With some difficulty the green eyes blinked open. With a slow survey of the darkened ceiling and then the window to his right the eyes finally focused on Buck.

"Mr. Wilmington?" Ezra asked. His voice was scratchy and hoarse from disuse and sounded foreign even to him.

Buck stared at this friend for a brief second. Wilmington could not believe how tired he felt. His eyes burned, his stomach actually hurt and it was cold. He hated being over tired.

"Go back to sleep Ezra it ain't time to wake up yet," Buck muttered out. He finally found a comfortable spot in the torture contraption Larabee called a chair. Chris had come in earlier and 'stolen' the couch. The nurse had taken back the cot. Nathan, Josiah and JD had commandeered themselves a hotel room down the street. Buck had volunteered for the 'night watch' expecting to be able to sleep in the cot or the couch. With the impression that the undercover agent would sleep the evening through, Buck figured he would escape a night of having to listen to Josiah's horrendous, thundering snores. So much for his plan.

"What happened?" Standish muttered. Why was he in a hospital? Where was he? He tried to rub his face but one arm refused to cooperate and the other was to heavy to lift.

"It ain't important right now," Buck answered shifting his weight in the chair, trying to find the elusive, comfortable position, "go back ta sleep."

"But..." The soft Southern voice tried to inquire again.

"Shut up Ez," Buck yawned pulling his afghan back up over his shoulders unfortunately exposing chilled socked feet. "Ya need yer sleep." Wilmington explained finagling his toes under the blankets of the bed. Buck nudged Ezra's leg out of the way. He rested his neck against the unyielding narrow back of the chair. Maybe two could fit on the bed?


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