Waiting For A
"Don't say anything. Not a damn thing," said Buck as he joined Ezra and Josiah at the table in the diner. The tall ladies man's forehead was now adorned with a bandage.
"Brother Buck, I do believe you are having a run of bad luck," grinned Josiah. "How many stitches?"
"Three. Shove over, Josiah." The profiler slid across the seat of the booth, making room for Buck.
"Perhaps it would be safer for us, if you sat at a different table?" teased Ezra.
"Ha-ha!" said Buck sarcastically.
"Don Marquis once said," quoted Josiah, "He is so unlucky that he runs into accidents, which start out to happen to somebody else." Sanchez grinned as he poked fun at Wilmington.
Ezra raised his eyebrows. "I do believe, Mr. Sanchez, that we fall into that unlucky category, running into accidents that started out happening to Mr. Wilmington. I, for one, intend to extract full remuneration."
"As do I, Brother Ezra." He turned to Buck. "I do not intend to let him off the hook."
Buck eyed Josiah. He could get mad. Nah. He had been a big klutz lately. He smiled. If Ezra and Josiah could make fun of the series of accidents, despite being the victims, then he could handle being the butt of a few jokes and bad puns.
When Chris's pain had finally eased somewhat, Nathan, Vin and JD moved him to his bedroom. The team leader suffered bouts of intense pain for most of the night as the weather outside continued to change to match the dreariness inside. It had started raining torrentially about midnight and hadn't let up at all. The paramedic was totally frustrated. The length and intensity of Chris's pain was no longer typical of a heart attack. The pain kept flaring periodically, despite all Nathan's efforts to keep Chris calm and quiet and thus reduce the strain on his heart.
A terrible thought struck Nathan. Maybe Chris was having a series of heart attacks. Nathan shook his head and rubbed the back of his neck, not even wanting to contemplate the implications. If that were truly the case, Chris would have sustained a massive amount of cardiac muscle damage by this point. Just how much viable muscle could he have left to keep his heart beating? Nathan hoped and prayed that there was another explanation. There just had to be.
Nathan rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand. His friend was in dire threat of losing his life and he was doing nothing more than keeping him quiet and trying to make him comfortable. The paramedic looked at his teammates. If he felt this helpless, he knew they were really at a loss.
Vin sat on the edge of the bed holding Chris's hand. Occasionally he would reach up, and wipe the older man's brow with a damp washcloth. As always, Vin appeared calm on the outside, but his body betrayed his true feelings. His hand trembled as he placed the washcloth back in the basin. Nathan could only imagine what was running through the young man's mind, but it probably wasn't much different than his own thoughts.
JD had planted himself at the foot of the bed almost like a sentry. There was nothing relaxed about his posture. He didn't pace. He didn't fidget. Very unlike the normally energetic young man. He simply stood staring at the man on the bed. The man who had given a wet-behind-the-ears kid a chance to be a part of Team 7.
JD shook his head. Chris couldn't be having a heart attack. He was too young. He was in too good of physical condition. Tears brimmed in the young man's eyes as he considered what would happen if Chris died.
Vin felt Chris's grip on his hand tighten considerably. "Nate," he warned.
Nathan knew what was coming. They had already been through four lengthy 'attacks'. Larabee's eyes widened in fear, and then snapped shut with the intense pain that seized his body. All thoughts of trying to tough it out by keeping silent had gone out the window during the first attack. He screamed out his pain as the excruciating cramping spread to include his back and stomach. Curling on his side as tight as he could, Chris groaned, wishing he could die. Every part of his body hurt. As if that was not enough, he felt nauseous as well.
"Sick..." he managed to gasp out in time for the sharpshooter to dodge his rejected dinner.
JD's stomach rolled in sympathy. He quickly found a garbage can and some towels for clean up. But, when it came to the actual duty, his stomach protested and he fought back the bile in his throat.
Vin saw JD go pale and said, "It's okay, JD, I've got it," taking a couple of the towels and wiping up the mess.
"Chris. Tell me where it hurts," said the paramedic.
"Damn it all, Nathan!" he hissed. "It hurts everywhere."
"Not just your chest and arms?"
The shake of Chris's head was barely perceptible. "Even my legs hurt."
"I want you to lay over on your back. Can you do that?"
Chris grunted in pain but rolled to his back.
To JD, it appeared that Nathan was poking and prodding Chris's belly. He was sure there was some technical term for it, but all he could tell was that Chris didn't seem to be enjoying it much.
"Nathan, what's happening?"
"I don't know, JD. Wish to God I did. But I'm not sure he's having a cardiac event."
"Heart attack. His pain shouldn't spread to his entire body."
"Why are you poking him?"
Despite the serious situation, Nathan had to smile at JD's question. "It's called palpation, JD. I'm checking for abdominal tenderness."
"Doesn't matter. He doesn't seem to have it. I just wish I knew what was causing this pain. I'm really not all that sure it coming from his heart any more."
"If it's not a heart attack, what is it?" asked Vin as he headed toward the door with the fetid towels, holding them as far away from himself as he could.
Nathan just shook his head and kept poking, prodding and asking questions.
Chris was exhausted. He had been battling pain all night, and finally just before dawn, he had drifted into a restless sleep. The constant rain seemed to have a lulling effect. Nathan wearily wiped Chris's fevered brow. Re-wetting the cloth with cool water, he wrung it out, folded it and lay it across Larabee's forehead. Chris's respirations were becoming more labored, bringing additional stress to the dog-tired paramedic.
JD came back into the room from the hallway.
"What's Vin up to? Sleeping I hope," stated Nathan, his caring instinct always in high gear.
"Nope. He's packing."
"What?" Nathan turned to look directly at JD.
"He's heading for the ranger station to get help."
"In this weather? It's too dangerous!"
Vin walked in, backpack in hand. "I don't see that we have any other choices, Nate. Buck and the boys won't be back until at least 3:00, if the roads are passable. That's nine hours, Nate. I can make it to the ranger station in three, four at the most, and get a chopper in here."
Nate swallowed his protest. None of them knew how much time Chris did or did not have. "Bundle up," he said softly. "Don't want ya gettin' sick."
Vin smiled and tugged at his collar showing Nathan he had on several layers of clothing. "I even packed spares in a plastic bag in the pack, mommy," he teased lightly.
"Too...risky..." mumbled Chris.
Vin sat down beside him. "Sorry pard. You ain't got no say in this." He pushed the hair back off Chris's forehead. His eyes misted and Vin leaned in close to his friend's ear. "You stay alive, you hear me?" he whispered.
"You...too..." Chris groaned.
Vin slipped away from the bed and put on the pack. He nodded to Nathan and JD.
"I will, JD." Vin pulled on his slouch brimmed hat and headed out the door.
Vin knew in his heart that going for help was the best option, but it tore at him that he had to leave Chris. His friend had been there for him many times when he was hurt or sick, and he should be sitting at Chris's bedside now. The sharpshooter knew it was irrational. He knew he was more valuable to Chris by getting help, but it didn't change his desire to be with his friend.
The rain was miserable. He was soaked in a matter of minutes. Vin wished he knew more about the terrain. He had examined the trail maps and knew he was in for some tough climbing, but he would have felt better if he knew exactly what he was facing. He was going to climb down the backside of Wilkins Ridge. It would be hard enough in fair weather. The rain made it much more dangerous. Vin stopped and checked the compass before heading up the trail in the driving rain.
Three teammates in Crawfordsville ate breakfast in relative silence. Josiah watched his two friends carefully, seeing that the normally jovial ladies man was unusually somber and Ezra was subdued by his medication. When they finally finished eating, the profiler decided it was time to push Buck a little and find out what was going on.
"Something bothering you, Brother Buck?"
Buck didn't answer. He appeared to be lost in thought a million miles away.
Ezra finally elbowed him in the side before the tall dark haired man realized they were talking to him.
"Buck, what's wrong?" repeated Josiah
"I don't know, exactly, Josiah. I just " he hesitated, not knowing how they would react.
"You just what?" encouraged the giant of a man.
"I've got a real bad feeling, Josiah. Something's wrong."
Josiah and Ezra exchanged glances. The southerner swallowed the smart aleck comment he was about to make. Buck was serious. From past experience, Ezra had learned not to question when one of his teammates had a 'bad feeling.'
"You know Vin and JD. Anything can happen with those two. And they're stuck up there in the mountains with no phone and no car. I just think, well, if it's okay with you two, I'd like to head back up there as soon as Ez gets his cast. Skip Lunch. We can eat up there."
Josiah nodded. "Fine by me, Brother."
Ezra also nodded his agreement. He checked his watch. It was just 8:30 a.m. "Perhaps if we head to the clinic they might see me before the appointed time."
"I'll drop the two of you off and go check us out of the motor inn," said Josiah as he took the bill and moved to the cashier.
Looking down the sheer face of Wilkins Ridge, he thought, Maybe this wasn't such a good idea, Tanner. Fear for Chris's life drove him to continue. Vin clipped the rope into the safety harness and breathed a prayer as he stepped off the face of the rock.
He rappelled as cautiously as he could down the cliff. The heavy rain made it difficult to see, and made footing against the sheer wall treacherous. His feet hit the wet granite and slipped causing him to slam into the rock face. He struggled for breath as the wind was once again knocked out of him. He held his grip on the rope and hung suspended for a moment. Damn. That hurt. He shook his head to clear it. It wasn't the first slip, and it sure wouldn't be the last before he reached the bottom.
He slowly began the descent again. True to his thoughts, he did slip and crash into the hard rock surface three more times on the way down. Now he was literally at the end of his rope, with about a twenty-foot drop to the ground. He hesitated only briefly, knowing there was no other option. He let go of the rope and plummeted the distance, landing hard on his feet and rolling to try to cushion the impact. Pain shot through his knee as it twisted awkwardly beneath him. He reached out to try to stop his slide and everything went black as his head connected with a boulder.
He tossed and turned restlessly. The excruciating pain was overwhelming. It was so hard to even breathe. He couldn't control the moans or cries that escaped his lips. Chris Larabee was afraid. He had faced down bad guys many times in his law enforcement career. He had been wounded a couple times. But nothing frightened him as much as this unknown pain. What if he was having a series of heart attacks? Would he be restricted from active duty? Would he be allowed to work at all? Would he die? Chris drove that thought from his mind. He couldn't even consider dying or not returning to work. Those options were totally unacceptable. But then again, he was not exactly in control in this situation.
Looking over at JD and Nathan, he felt badly for the strain they were going through. JD was asleep, lying protectively across the foot of the bed. Nathan had nodded off in the chair. And Vin? He was who knows where in the middle of a storm. Crazy kid. Why did you take that kind of risk with your life? Chris didn't have to answer. He already knew. Vin would lay down his life for his friends. He would do the same for the sharpshooter. He just wished that Vin wasn't taking that risk on his behalf.
The pain intensified again and Chris grunted. Damn, it hurts. He closed his eyes tightly trying to ride out the new wave of pain. He could feel movement on the bed, then a hand on his forehead. He peeled one eye open. "JD," he wheezed.
"Here Chris, take a drink," offered the youngest member of Team 7. He lifted Chris's head and held the glass to his lips. Larabee sipped greedily.
Nathan, awakened by the conversation, chided, "Not too much, now, Chris. Take it slow." Chris slowed his sips. "That's better. Ease him back there, JD," said Nathan, taking the glass from the younger man.
JD began to lay Chris back, but froze when the team leader yelped, "Ow! Ow! Ow!!"
Nathan ignored the remorse clearly displayed on JD's face. He knew the kid figured he screwed up again, but right now the paramedic needed to focus on his patient. "Tell me, Chris."
"Damn! The back of my ow!"
"Nate, he's got a lump on the back of his head. I bumped it with my hand," said JD.
"What?" Nathan quickly helped JD bring Chris to a seated position. He repositioned the lamp to give him the best light available. "Where, JD?"
"Right here," answered the kid. He indicated a spot about an inch into Chris's hairline.
Nathan cautiously parted the hair. It was a tiny bump. Looking closely, he spotted two tiny red marks where Chris had apparently received a bite of some sort. Could this itty-bitty bite be the cause of so much pain? Fear surged through Nathan as he realized Chris's symptoms could be from a poisonous insect.
"Chris, do you remember getting this bite?"
Chris shook his head. "No, wait! When I was chopping wood. I thought a mosquito bit me."
"What were you wearing? Your jacket? Your shirt?"
"Shirt," wheezed Chris, fighting through the pain that was crushing his chest. "Put it back on. Got bit."
"You had it off? Where was it?"
"The black flannel shirt?"
"You got him, JD? I need to look at something."
JD nodded. Nathan moved to inspect the shirt lying on the dresser. He used extreme caution in searching the shirt. If that critter was in there and still alive, he didn't want to get bit. It took only a moment to find what he was looking for, the partially squashed remains of a spider. Ever the ATF agent, Nathan went to his coat pocket and drew out an evidence bag. Using a pair of tweezers, he picked the remains off of the collar and placed them in the evidence bag and sealed it.
"What is it?" asked JD.
"Spider," replied Nathan simply.
"A spider? What kind? Is it poisonous?"
"I don't know, JD. But, it would be my guess that this little thing is the cause of our problem," said Nathan holding up the bag. Chris groaned in pain. Nathan dropped the bag on the nightstand. He would examine it later. He moved to Chris's side and helped JD lay him down. "Chris, I'm going to get some stuff from the kit. I'll be right back."
The Ocean. He loved the roar of the waves crashing on the beach. Wait. There aren't any beaches in Denver. Vin opened his eyes. I'm not in Denver. The roaring noise was the swollen mountain creek where his lower body rested. Chris. Reality flooded in and he dragged himself out of the stream. He was freezing, shaking uncontrollably. He took a moment to assess the situation. He had no idea how long he had been out. He checked his watch and found it missing. His sleeve was ripped and, yikes, so was his arm. The reality of pain screamed into his mind and he blacked out momentarily.
Fighting to focus, the throbbing in his head seemed to pound out 'help Chris help Chris'. Vin found his way to his feet and looked back to the sheer face of Wilkins Ridge. He looked the opposite direction and fixed on the landmark he was seeking. Without his compass, lost somewhere in the fall, he would have to rely on dead reckoning. He crossed the wild stream and headed up the next ridge. If he was right, the Ranger Station was atop that ridge.
Nathan gently bathed the area surrounding the bite and applied hydrocortisone cream. He was now operating on the assumption that the bite was the cause of Chris's difficulty, but the problem was that he didn't know what had caused the bite or what specific treatment should be done to counteract the venom. It was almost 11:00 a.m. He prayed that Vin had reached the station safely and help was on the way.
Vin picked himself up again. The deluge had softened the steep hillside and it continuously gave way causing him to lose precious time as mini-landslides swept him back the way he had come. He stood, shivering. He wasn't sure whether it was from the wet clothes or from sheer exhaustion. "No choices, Tanner," he told himself out loud. He began to climb the steep slope again.
He was so tired, but Chris needed him. Chris could be dead already. Vin slid down to his knees. He had to rest for just a minute. But the stillness allowed him too much time to think. What will I do without him? Stop it! Chris is not going to die He can't A heart attack Good Lord What will that do to him? How will it limit him? Chris won't be able to stand desk duty.
Vin forced himself to stop thinking about it. He struggled to get to his feet, but fell weakly back to the mud. He had traveled nearly twelve rugged miles in a torrential downpour, fallen numerous times, he was injured and he was exhausted. His goal was just twenty yards away but his body refused to cooperate. He looked towards the ranger station and saw the light in the window on the dreary morning. His hand groped and found a rock about the size of a golf ball. He figured he would have just one shot at this. The sharpshooter used every ounce of his remaining energy to focus on the window as he launched the rock. There was a satisfying tinkle of glass breaking as he collapsed into the mud.
"Hello?" called Buck as he entered the house. "Chris? JD? Where are you, boys?"
Josiah and Ezra began to shuck their raingear, including the plastic bag over the southerner's cast. JD came out of Chris's room and the three froze at the sight of him. The kid looked like he hadn't slept at all. His face was pale, bringing out the colors of his black eye. But, what really shook them was the fear displayed openly on JD's face.
"Buck, it's Chris. He's "
"He's what kid?" Buck dropped his raincoat on the floor and stepped fearfully towards JD.
"He's real bad, Buck. He might be having a heart attack. Or maybe he got bit by a poisonous spider."
"What the hell are you talkin' about kid?"
Nathan appeared in the doorway behind JD. "Thank God you're back early! Did you bring a phone?"
"Call 911. We need to get Chris to a hospital ASAP."
Josiah took the cell phone and made the call. Buck guided Ezra into Chris's room and helped him sit on the edge of the bed, before he moved to Larabee. "Chris?"
The pain-ridden man's eyes sprung open, recognizing Buck's voice. Help was here. "Buck?" he croaked.
Buck swallowed his fear and tried to keep the smile on his face. Chris looked awful. He was pale and sweaty. Lines of pain seemed permanently etched on the handsome face. Chris wrapped tense arms tightly across his chest in an attempt to ease the agonizing cramping there. He had his knees drawn up close to his chest, almost appearing as if he could make himself smaller, hoping that the pain would lessen. Buck laid the back of his hand gently against Chris's cheek and stroked softly. "It's okay now, Chris. Help is on the way."
Josiah entered the room, closing the cell phone.
"Did you get through?" asked Nathan.
Josiah nodded. "They already had a chopper standing by. They're waiting for the weather to clear a bit. It may be an hour according to the weather service."
"Already had a chopper?" asked JD. "So Vin made it."
"What?" asked Josiah, confused. He looked around and saw that Vin was not there.
"Vin hiked to the ranger station to get help. He musta got there if they already knew about Chris," said JD.
Josiah nodded. That made sense. "What can we do to help, Nate?"
"How the hell should I know?" Nathan snapped, the tension of being unable to help his friend for the past fifteen hours taking its toll. Just as quickly as he spoke the words, Nathan turned away from his friends in shame. It would not help for him to lose it now.
Chris had flinched at Nathan's shout. His heart sank a little. He had tried to tell the paramedic through the night that he knew Nate was doing all he could, but obviously, Nathan felt it was not good enough. Buck rubbed his shoulder gently. Then he felt someone touch his leg. He glanced down to see the southerner. He gave a slight nod to his undercover agent trying to offer comfort. He caught a glimpse of JD. The kid had to be terrified. That face would never be able to hide the emotions the young man felt. JD positioned himself against the wall by the door. It was as if he was trying to be as close as he could to Chris, and yet as far away as he could be from the thing that frightened him.
Nathan felt a hand on his shoulder and knew without looking, that it was Josiah.
"Brother Nate," Josiah's words rumbled in his low soothing tone. "JD said Chris may have received a bite."
Nathan wiped a tear as he turned back to face the others; once again, he was all business. "He was definitely bit. We found the mark on the back of his head."
"Any idea what bit him?"
"Looks like a spider." Seeing Josiah's questioning look, Nathan moved to the nightstand and picked up the evidence bag. "Found parts of it on his shirt collar."
"May I?" asked Josiah, reaching for the bag. He held it up and examined the contents. "Do you have a magnifier?" Nathan nodded and retrieved the item from the pack.
Josiah examined the spider remains carefully, mumbling out his findings as he went. "Black, glossy body. Red hourglass. Damn!"
"What is it?" asked JD, afraid of hearing the answer.
"It's a Black Widow."
"Are you sure?" asked Nathan.
Josiah nodded. "Seen this before with Old Jacob Paulson."
"He was a long-time friend of my father. Old Jacob and I were on a vacation in the Australian outback. He became mysteriously ill after a bite from a Redback spider. We almost lost him. I made it a point to study the species. The Australian Redback is a cousin to the Black Widow." He pulled the cell phone out of his pocket. Flipping it open, he handed it to Nathan. "Call the hospital. See what we can do until the chopper gets here."
Nathan smiled briefly. He shouldn't have known the hospital's telephone number by heart, but he did. He had dialed it far too many times in the past couple of years. It took a few minutes but he finally had Dr. Marcus on the telephone. Nathan rattled off the symptoms and vitals of his patient. He informed the doctor of the bite and the suspicion that it was from a Black Widow spider.
"Yes, ma'am. The area has been cleaned and I applied hydrocortisone cream." Nathan waved at Josiah and motioned as if he was writing. Josiah dug into his pocket for a pen and ripped open a box of Band-Aids, flattening it so Nathan could use the inside as a note pad. "Uh-huh." Nathan took the pen and made some notes. "Ok, Benadryl. Uh-huh." He frowned. "No. The strongest thing I have for pain is Extra Strength Tylenol."
"Mr. Jackson, would these be of any help?" Ezra held up the bottle of pills the doctor had prescribed for the pain in his ankle.
"Hold on," said Nathan. Josiah passed him the bottle of pills. "Doctor Marcus, Ezra has a prescription for Demerol. Would that help?" Nathan read her the potency of the meds. "Okay. Thank you Doctor Marcus. Yes ma'am. The helicopter is supposed to be here within the hour. I'll let you know Goodbye."
Nathan closed the cell phone. "JD get another glass of water for Chris." JD bolted from the room, glad to have something to do. "Josiah grab me the Benadryl and one of those ice packs from the kit." Now he had something feasible, a way to relieve some of the pain Chris was experiencing.
On the road to Denver, five men continued to worry. JD fidgeted with his watchband. "A black widow spider? They can..." the young man's throat was suddenly tight as he tried to keep his tears hidden. "He won't..." It didn't work. The stress of the past twenty hours was too much for the young agent and tears began to roll down his face.
Buck heard the kid choke back a sob. He leaned back in his seat and stretched his arm out and scruffed JD's hair. There was nothing he could say.
Everyone looked up as Ezra's deck of cards spewed all over the floor of the vehicle. The southerner had continuously manipulated the cards through his hands in an attempt to keep his mind focused. However, the uncertainty of the situation and his fear of losing Chris, of losing his family made itself apparent in his lack of coordination. Green eyes widened as he realized he had drawn their attention. "Sorry," he muttered as he began to pick up the cards.
Nathan felt it was his duty to have the answers medically, but he really did not know what to say. He had no experience with the Black Widow spider.
Josiah answered, "JD, most folks think Black Widow spider bites are always fatal, but they aren't. It's only a very small percentage of the cases, about five percent I think, and those are mostly children and older folks. It's very rare that someone as healthy as Chris would succumb. And there is an antivenin available."
They traveled in silence for quite awhile before JD spoke the other question on his mind.
"I wonder where Vin is? And how will he get back?" asked JD as he stared at nothing out the window.
"He obviously got to the ranger station, JD. He got the chopper for Chris," said Nathan.
"But that was..." he stopped and looked at his watch, "at least five hours ago."
"Brother Vin will be fine, JD. He's resourceful. He will find a way to get back to Denver. I left a note and a cell phone at the house in case he returns there."
"How much longer, Josiah?" asked the youngest member of Team 7.
"About four more hours, JD."
"Can't you drive any faster?"
"I'm doing my best, son. It won't do for all of us to have an accident," answered Josiah.
JD nodded and the group fell silent again. JD worried about Vin to keep his mind off of Chris. He didn't know what he would do if Chris died.
This was getting really old. It was the third time Vin awakened finding himself in a strange place. Orienting slowly, he realized it was some sort of medical facility. Last thing he remembered was making sure the ranger knew to send a helicopter for Chris at the house on Wilkins Ridge. Then he had given in to the pain and exhaustion and passed out.
I have to get to Chris. Vin slowly sat up, glad that no one was nearby to stop him. His arm was in a splint, he had a headache and his left knee was very sore. Feeling a draft down his back, he cursed the inventor of hospital gowns. He needed his clothes. Slipping off the edge of the bed, he found his leg didn't want to hold him up. He grabbed the bed with his left hand, steadying himself until his leg would accept his weight. He quickly scanned the room for his clothes. He sighed. It was likely that the emergency team had destroyed his clothes, cutting them off when he was initially treated. He held the back of his gown together hoping he could keep his balance. If not, someone would get a 'view' when he had to let go of the gown and grab the wall for support. He stepped into the hallway and headed toward the desk.
The nurse looked up in surprise. "Oh, my! What are you doing out of bed?" She slipped around the counter and started to steer him back to the room.
"No. I have to find Chris."
"Sir, you have a concussion. You need to rest."
"I need my clothes."
"Please, sir, back to your room."
"Lilly, can I help?" asked a young doctor as he approached. "Sir, I need you to come back to your room and let me check you over again. Do you know your name?"
"Tanner, Vin Tanner. I have to find Chris." Vin let himself be guided back to the bed. He sat on the bed but would not lie down.
"Mr. Tanner, what day is it?"
"I don't know, but it was Sunday when I got hurt. Please, Chris is having a heart attack. I have to get to him."
"The Rangers told me that a helicopter was dispatched to get your friend," volunteered the nurse.
"Where is he?"
"I believe he was flown to Denver."
"Where am I?"
"You don't know?" asked the doctor as he examined Vin's pupils.
"He was unconscious when he was brought in, Doctor Jeffers."
"I see. Well, Mr. Tanner, you are in the Medical Clinic in Parson's Crossing. We were the closest medical facility to the Ranger Station."
"Doc, I've got to get to Denver."
"It'll have to wait. You need to stay here for observation."
"I can't. Look, it's my best friend they took in the chopper. I have to know what's going on, I need to be with him."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Tanner. I will see if we can reach someone at Four Corners Hospital and get an update on his condition. But for now, you need to rest."
Vin allowed the doctor to help him lay back, but he had already determined that he would sneak out as soon as he was alone.
He was alone. There were all kinds of doctors and nurses buzzing around him in the Emergency Room, but he was alone. EKGs, labs, skin tests. Animated discussions of his symptoms. It was all so confusing. For awhile, he felt like a sideshow as the teaching hospital used his unique symptoms and circumstances to add to the students' education. Despite the doctors' assurances, he was scared. And the pain was still intense. It seemed like hours since they had loaded him on the chopper and Nathan had passed off the detailed notes of his symptoms and treatment to the paramedics. Chris was disappointed when they said there wasn't room for anyone else on the flight. He had never felt quite this anxious and fearful. It made a little more sense when Doctor Marcus told him anxiety was one of the symptoms he may experience. He was not being a wimp because he wanted his friends with him. The anxiousness was a symptom from the venom.
He was glad Doctor Marcus was treating him. She, at least, was a friend. She knew all the members of the team. She had said 'enough was enough' when Chris felt uncomfortable with the medical students' scrutiny. If she told him he was not having a heart attack, he believed her. If she told him this terrible pain would lessen over the next two days, well, he would try to believe her although his body screamed otherwise.
When the team arrived at the hospital, Nathan checked with admissions and they quickly headed for Chris's room. Vin was nowhere to be found. Nathan settled Ezra into a chair in the waiting area and helped him prop up his leg. The nurse took one look at Ezra's broken ankle, JD's black eye and Buck's bandaged forehead, and she could not help but ask, "Were you gentlemen in an accident?"
Despite the seriousness of the situation JD elbowed Buck and replied, "Nope, he is the accident."
A ghostly smile crossed Buck's face. The kid was trying to lighten things up a little.
Nathan interrupted. "Miss, can you tell us how Mr. Larabee is doing?"
"I'll check with his doctor."
A few minutes later a beautiful brunette joined them in the waiting area. "Gentlemen, I was hoping I'd never see you again."
"Forget the jokes," snapped Buck. "Is Chris going to be okay?"
The doctor wasn't phased in the least by the curt question. "Mr. Larabee is in good physical condition. But, it appears he is very sensitive to the envenomation as his symptoms have been so severe."
"Doesn't he need an antivenom or something?" asked Buck.
"No. We don't always recommend the antivenin. There is a high incidence of anaphylactic shock. We did a skin test on Mr. Larabee and he had a reaction so the antivenin is out of the question in his case."
"So Mr. Larabee is going to be all right?" asked Ezra.
"Yes. He will be quite uncomfortable for the next two or three days, but he will be fine. We are settling him into his room right now. You can see him in a few minutes."
Buck leaned his head back against the wall and smiled. JD punched him in the shoulder happily. Chris was going to be all right.
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