by Cyc

He was late. Ever since he had heard about Chris being hurt, it seemed he was always late, always that crucial step behind everyone else.

Hospitals stank. There really was no finer way of putting it. They smelled of cleaning products and of death, yes, but, worst of all, they stank of desperate hope. If humanity's hopes and fears could be bottled into one neat container, the sum of it would be that all pervading hospital stench.

"Get a grip, Ezra," he chastised himself under his breath as he approached the others talking quietly in the off-white hospital corridor with a doctor in a brilliant white coat. He felt like an extra in some weird B-movie. Were there zombies in the basement?

Growling a sigh at his spiralling thoughts, he walked past the others, on up the corridor until he heard Vin's voice drifting angrily out from behind a closed door. He looked at the room number then realised with a kind of dull surprise that he was about to walk right past Chris' room and continue on his way into off-white oblivion.

Deciding not to dwell on that thought, he opened the door. The room was unremarkable apart from the fact that it was one of those ones that hid the bed and its occupant behind the opening door. Ezra had to walk in before he could see Vin sitting on an uncomfortable looking chair by Chris' bedside. Chris himself was lying in bed, curled up on his side with his back to Vin. It was Chris' classic 'get lost and leave me alone' position, his special body language that entreated the world to fuck off and die.

"Yeah, you are a real useless son of a bitch, Larabee," Vin continued to berate Chris, his voice rough and unsteady. "You should have read that woman's mind. Hell, any of the rest of us would have known just by looking at her that she was fixing on killing her own kids. What the hell took you so long? Getting yourself shot and nearly drowning chasing that damn boat to get the evidence ain't no excuse, you're right. You're always right, Chris," Vin finished with an air of tired exasperation as he looked over at Ezra, prompting Ezra to wonder just how long he had been sitting there. "You want to talk to this stubborn cowboy, Ezra, be my guest," Vin said, standing up and brushing past Ezra to walk out the room.

As the door clicked gently closed behind Vin, Ezra walked over and tried to make himself comfortable on the hospital chair. It was, in fact, a lot more comfortable than it looked. The problem with it was that its sitting height put Ezra on direct eyelevel with the riotously coloured, paisley patterned tray propped behind Chris' water jug on the bedside table. While Ezra fervently hoped that they didn't serve food on that tray, its presence would certainly account for the general consensus about hospital food. Why, the finest chef from the finest restaurant could serve the--

"I could have put it together faster," Chris said low, making Ezra glad that he had kept his prattling thoughts to himself. "I thought about it. I just didn't believe it could be."

"Our lady murderess is the consummate actress," Ezra returned dryly. "Even as we speak, she's giving the District Attorney a song a dance routine of Academy Award proportions. Of course, her efforts are moot. That videotape you acquired and the bodies of six dead children are enough to rob the wind from any budding thespian's sails."

"You think this is funny?" Chris turned on Ezra with a glare then hissed in pain before lying back down, cursing.

"Well, you have to admit that there's a certain dark humour at work here," Ezra replied, managing to keep his voice calm and even despite his hammering heart. "Our murderess wants to blame the men in her life for every evil act she perpetrated. While the gentlemen in question deny it, here you are ready to take responsibility for the whole sorry affair."

"I'm not taking the blame for her," Chris growled back.

"On the contrary," Ezra sighed. "You just did. And, while I find myself in lecture mode, can I add that your doctor probably prefers you to lie on your back for a reason?"

"I let them down, Ezra," Chris said quietly, carefully moving around to lie on his back and meet Ezra's gaze. "They trusted me and I let them down."

"I know," Ezra responded hoarsely then swallowed past the tightness in his throat before kissing Chris softly on the lips. "I'm sorry."


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