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Summary: Sam Curtis cannot accept the consequences when a case goes tragically wrong.

Categories: Adult
Characters: Chris Keel, Sam Curtis
Genres: Angst, Case, Hurt Comfort
Warnings: None
Chapters: 1 [Table of Contents]
Series: None

Word count: 11256; Completed: Yes
Updated: 12 Sep 2004; Published: 12 Sep 2004

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Author's Notes: Whatever happens, please be assured that this is NOT a deathfic. I cannot bring myself to actually kill off one of the guys, so whatever seems to happen, please stay with me!



And BIG THANKS to Brenda, who is a wonderful Beta reader :o) *** Any mistakes left, are all mine.



~*~



"Can you tell me about your nightmare, Sam?" asked Julia Carrington.



"I - yes, I think so," Sam stared through the window without seeing the manicured lawns beyond. He took a deep breath, "Chris is standing in a doorway, and he's silhouetted against the fire. He's half turned toward me holding his gun down by his side." Sam paused, tears he had refused to shed for the last two weeks making his eyes bright. He schooled his features, unwilling to let the psychiatrist see the emotions he was holding back so ruthlessly.



When he was certain his voice would not crack, he continued.



"He lifts the gun and salutes me with it. I don't know what's going to happen until then, but when he salutes me - " he stopped, knowing his voice was about to break.



"What does his face look like?" asked Julia Carrington, the psychiatrist, "What emotion would you say he was showing?"



Sam thought about that, his arms rigidly folded as he continued to stare out the window. "He smiles," he replied, "A sad smile, like he knows what's coming."



"Yeah, I think he does."



"What do you do?"



"After the salute, as he lets his gun hand drop, I suddenly know, too, and I run without getting any closer."



"How does that make you feel?"



"Angry and frustrated."



"What happens next?"



"He - " Sam swallowed hard, his jaw twitching as he fought to suppress his emotions. "He turns away from me, and walks into the fire, like he was just going for a stroll. The fire gets bigger and just swallows him up."



"How do you feel now?"



"Angry and frustrated."



"Nothing else?"



"Guilty."



"Good," she smiled at his back, "Sam, it's only a nightmare. It didn't happen."



"I know that, but knowing it doesn't help."



"Now tell me what actually happened."



"You've got the reports." Sam looked at her for the first time.



"Yes, I do. But I want to hear it in your own words. Forget formal reports and just tell me what happened and how you felt."



Sam nodded, and turned his attention back out to the gardens. "Malone sent Chris and I in to a chemical factory near Portsmouth. The Travis twins had kidnapped the six year old daughter of a Russian diplomat - "



"Travis twins? I thought there were four."



"Yes, the twins, Theresa and Antonio Travis were both married and brought their other halves along. With Jonathan and Karen they were a murderous team if ever there was one. They wanted locations of missile dumps."



"How do you feel about them now?"



"Regret. If they were still alive, I could do something."



"Okay then, carry on."



"We split up. There was the usual hired help to get rid of, of course. We met up again outside the offices where they were keeping the kid."



"How were things between you and Keel at that point?"



Sam looked at her, puzzled, "Fine, no different than any other time."



"Just checking. What happened next?"



Sam went back to staring out the window. "All four were there, and perfectly positioned away from the kid. It should have been so smooth."



"Why wasn't it?"



"There was a fifth guy. He blindsided me. I should have seen him coming."



"Why?"



"Because things might have been different if I had."



"Can you know that for sure?"



Sam hesitated, "No."



"What did you do?"



"Fell on the floor. Chris turned around and shot the guy. Bullets started flying. We shot the other four, but not before a fire had started. I don't even know how. The place was full of chemicals, maybe a spark from a bullet. I don't know."



"Did you not know that before going in?"



Sam shook his head. "We were told that the chemicals kept there were all non-flammable, that we didn't need to take special precautions."



"What did you do?"



"Chris covered us while I grabbed the kid. The fire was spreading fast, though, and the girl was overcome by smoke pretty quickly. We stopped and Chris wrapped her in his leather jacket. We put clean, damp dishcloths we found in the labs round our faces," he chuckled.



"You find that funny?"



"Not really, Chris complained about getting his face wet, that's all."



"You found humour in a dire situation?"



"You have to sometimes. It keeps you going."



"What happened next?"



"Chris picked up the kid, and we tried to find a way out."



"But?"



"Everything was locked. They'd sealed the place sometime after we got in."



"How did you feel?"



"Angry, frustrated, useless. We found a way out in the end. Down in the cellar, a window up near the ceiling. We pushed a table under it."



"What next?"



"The fire was right behind us, coming into the cellar. I climbed out the window, and Chris passed the girl to me."



"And?"



Sam's voice grew fainter as he relived those next few moments, "I stood up with the girl. Chris was following. There was a crash and I looked. Chris fell backwards, I suppose the table must have broken."



"How did you feel?"



"Panic, worry, I needed to get the kid to safety first though. Chris shouted something along the lines of 'I'm okay' or 'it's okay' something, I'm not sure. I ran as fast as I could. I put the girl on the grass, and ran back to the building. I wasn't fast enough."



"Why not?"



"The building exploded. I wasn't fast enough to get Chris out of there."



"Do you think that you could have realistically been fast enough?"



Sam paused, head bowed, "No," he whispered. "I can't believe he's d - not here anymore."



"You can say the word."



"No, I can't," Sam face was barely concealing his own anger and frustration, "I don't believe it."



"That's only natural, Sam. In situations where there is no body, or, as in this case, the bodies were all nearly all unidentifiable, there is nothing to bury, no form of closure. It will take time. Last time we spoke, you said you were going to get permission to clear his flat. Did you do that?"



"Yes. I have permission."



"Have you done it?"



"No."



"Why not?"



"I don't want to know that he's really gone," Sam swallowed back the unwanted tears again. "Did you know it was raining when they held his memorial service?"



"No, I didn't. Why, was that important?"



"Not any more."



*****



A man in a wheelchair sat in front of the mirror. With heavily bandaged hands, he picked up the lipstick the woman had left there, and with infinite patience twisted it, using the arm of the wheelchair for traction.



He looked at his reflection with bitter hatred. Bandages covered half his face and his voice refused to work. Bandages were wrapped around his naked torso and shoulders, and under the blue pyjama bottoms, more bandages could be felt. Almost every part of his exposed skin was mottled with bruises and burns.



His head was fuzzy from painkillers, but he knew he did not like the person he saw in the mirror. He leaned forward, and shakily scrawled on the mirror with the lipstick.



He sat back, the exertion having taken its toll on him, and let the lipstick fall to the floor. Forming the question in writing had not helped, but only made the emptiness inside more obvious and painful. If he had been able, he would have broken the mirror.



As it was, he just stared at it, his single thought echoing the words on the mirror; 'Who am I?'



*****



Sam stood in the darkening apartment, the empty boxes stacked behind him by the entrance, ready to be packed. It had been two weeks since he had last spoken with Julia Carrington, and it was only now that he had worked up the courage to come to Chris' flat. But he could not bring himself to pack Chris' things ready for shipping back to the States. For the moment he contented himself with just looking through everything.



Some time later found him sat on the sofa with the Budweiser from the fridge. He never did understand how Chris could knock them back, but there was no wine, and a Bud seemed appropriate. He'd been looking through Chris' photo albums, having never realised how big his partner was on pictures.



There were photos of him growing up, of family members and friends, all neatly labelled with dates and places. The most recent album had a lot of pictures of a pretty blonde. Sam recalled her as being Chris' wife from the picture in the bedroom. He never had found out what her name had been.



Turning the pages, he suddenly found himself looking at blank sheets. He turned back. The last picture had been of the woman standing in her wedding dress in a bedroom. The photographer could be seen in the mirror, an older woman with similar looks to the bride, perhaps her mother. It must have been taken just before the wedding.



It disturbed Sam to realise there were no more pictures - somehow it gave the impression that Chris had had no life after his wedding day.



He wandered into the bedroom, looking for the final photo he had seen before. It was no longer on the side table, where it had always been; maybe Chris had moved it. He hunted high and low, but the wedding photo was nowhere to be found. That was strange. On impulse, he started looking for anything else that might have been misplaced, and found that his partner's passport, razor and some of his clothes were also missing.



The candle of hope inside him that refused to believe that Chris had gone burned a little brighter.



*****



Theresa Travis sat by her brother's bed, and stroked his red hair back off his face. A part of her was dying right along with her twin, and she was unsure whether she would survive intact without him by her side. She had lost so much already, her husband, Johnny and her best friend Karen, who was also her brother's wife. Antonio was lying here in a coma he would never wake up from, a bullet lodged in his skull and his lungs ruined; his skin melted over ninety percent of his body.



Theresa rubbed at her own scars; she had been lucky. A flesh wound to her right shoulder, and minor burns to her legs and lower torso had left her in some pain, but she was able to function as if nothing were wrong.



"Tony, it's me, Terry," she whispered, and chuckled to herself. He would know that. "Things are moving well," she told him, "Your machines work a treat; Keel is learning to hate; he smashed the mirror yesterday.



"I've started programming him already, and he's responding well. You remember the wedding photo I found in his apartment? When I asked him about it under hypnosis, his memory was very vague, but it seems she was shot dead by persons unknown. Anyway, I've programmed him to believe it was Harry Malone who gave the order, and Sam Curtis who pulled the trigger. If your notes were correct, he'll fill in any gaps himself, subconsciously. "



She frowned as she stroked his hand, "It does bother me, though, that he doesn't remember who he is. I've given him his name, but nothing else. It's a bonus in as much that he doesn't resist the programming very much, but your methods were based in altering someone's perception of reality just slightly, and - well - how am I supposed to do that if he doesn't know what his reality is?



"I've put the sonic tracker in already. With his injuries, it was easy to fake an operation. You were right, Doctor Meyer will perform absolutely any surgery, with no questions asked if the money's right. I had him put the disruptor extension in, too. If all goes well, he'll kill himself anyway, but it pays to be prepared."



Terry looked at her watch, and frowned as she realised how long she had been rambling for. "I have to go now, Tony. Mr Keel will be getting hungry about now." She stood and kissed her twin on his burned forehead before leaving the room and locking the door behind her.



*****



Chris Keel stared at his passport, the only other item Terry had given him apart from the photo. Most of the bandages had gone now, leaving fresh pink scars that would fade with time. Just his left hand and the back of his skull were still wrapped. His strength was coming back quickly now. He didn't need the wheelchair anymore, though even short walks to the bathroom still left him feeling exhausted.



He didn't know where he was, and whilst that had made him wary when he had first awoken here, he longer cared; Terry had told him they were at her place, as if he were supposed to know, and he left it at that. He had noted that it was a private house, and had observed the entrances and exits. He was not a prisoner here, though it would have been impossible for him to escape in his condition even if he wanted to. Which he did not. It did however, bother him that he saw things in terms of escaping. Why did he think that?



He knew that the injuries he had received were bad. The burns were mostly superficial, but they had covered a good deal of his body, leaving him dangerously dehydrated for a long time. Worse though, was his crushed hand and broken skull.



He was frustrated that his hand was healing so slowly. Doc Meyer had said he would get full use of it back, but only if he rested it, and even then, physiotherapy would take time. Terry had begun the physio, so he reckoned another couple of weeks and he could start using a light handgun.



Now there was a thought. He worked with guns. No, that didn't feel quite right. He was in a job where using and firing guns was a part of it. Yes, that felt right, so he was some kind of - what? Bodyguard? Detective? Cop? Bank Robber? Terrorist? Soldier? None of those felt right, although Soldier, Bodyguard and Terrorist all felt familiar, even Detective to a point.



He gave up trying to work himself out with a cry of frustration.



The door clicked open and Terry came in with a tray laden with a roast, pudding and coffee.



"Come on, Chris, you have to eat," Terry cajoled, "You need to build your strength up." She smiled at her patient as he obeyed her sullenly as always. "You can eat downstairs this evening if you like," she said as if it were a big treat, "You'd like that wouldn't you?"



"Which downstairs do you mean?" Chris asked knowing perfectly well.



"The dining room, silly," Theresa flashed her brilliant smile, blue eyes twinkling. "Speaking of the basement, however, we should go down after you've eaten, try and get you to remember some more."



"It's not working," snapped Chris, shoving the tray away from him.



"Of course it is," Theresa sat next to him, radiating sympathy and understanding, "It's going to take time, you know that, but you've already remembered about your wife, and that's a start."



"I still don't understand why you won't just tell me who I am," Chris started pacing the room in frustration.



"You have to remember for yourself, or you'll start trying to live how you think you should. If some parts of your memory don't come back, then you'll have to learn to live without them."



"Why are you looking after me? This isn't a hospital." Chris became quickly tired of pacing, and scowled instead at his own reflection in the new mirror.



"You'll know the answer to that when your memory comes back," Theresa smiled patiently. "Until then, I'm just a very good friend, who cares what happens to you very much."



"I normally carry a gun, don't I?" Chris face her directly, and Theresa appeared startled for a moment.



"Why, er, yes, yes you do," she finally responded, "Do you remember what sort it is?"



Chris thought about that. A rifle of some sort seemed familiar, but too big. A handgun of some sort. Absently, he felt under his armpit to find the familiar bulge that wasn't there. "A silver handgun," he said quietly, "Smith and Wesson."



"Are you sure?" Theresa asked a small frown marring her features.



"Yeah."



Theresa disappeared from the room, and when she returned, she was carrying something wrapped in a scarf. She handed it to him, and as he unwrapped it, explained, "I don't like those things, so I wrapped it up where I couldn't see it."



Chris unwrapped the scarf to see the glint of silver. It was certainly his gun, a silver Beretta, the trigger guard slightly dented, and black discolouration here the fire had been too close to it. Why had he thought it was a Smith and Wesson?



"Someone else has a Beretta," he said, frowning, "Who is it?"



"Who do you think?" Theresa asked, allowing a fleeting look of bitter anger to pass over her face.



Chris shook his head and hit the wall with his good hand, "I don't remember!" he shouted.



"Okay, okay," Theresa went over to him and put a calming hand on his shoulder, "Why don't you calm down a bit, and we'll go downstairs in about half an hour, alright?"



Chris nodded, and leaned his head against the wall, closing his eyes. Theresa left the room, and Chris waited for the headache to begin. He always had a headache after Theresa left, maybe it was an allergy to her perfume, although she didn't seem to wear any. He had thought there was something in the food, but it made no difference whether he ate or not.



When the headache did come, it was violent and piercing. The initial shock left him collapsing against the wall gasping for breath. Each bout seemed worse than the last. He put his hands over his ears and waited the pain out.



Outside, Theresa looked at her watch and when precisely seven minutes had elapsed, she flicked the switch hidden behind the picture.



Back inside the room, Chris almost cried in relief as the pain vanished and he was left with the residual throbbing of the injury to the back of his skull.



*****



"You know Matthew James, I believe, Mr Curtis?" Malone looked down at the file in his hand.



"We've met," Sam replied, "Worked together very briefly in Chicago, he's a good operative."



"But?" Malone could hear the doubt in Sam's voice.



"He's a little hot-headed at times, doesn't always think before he acts. Dangerous to work with in that respect, but then again, he hasn't got anyone killed yet."



Malone grunted, "A perfect replacement for 4.5, then, wouldn't you say?"



"Sir, I - !" Sam jumped in vehemently, stopping when Malone raised his hand.



"Mr Curtis, I know how you felt about Mr Keel. When we have a good partnership we can't help but get attached to each other, but remember the first rule. We are one man down, and we need a replacement as soon as possible. Mr James is currently at a loose end, so we may as well put him to good use." Malone looked sternly over his glasses at Curtis, "Mr Keel's absence is strongly felt by us all, but we must look forward."



"I understand that, Sir, but -"



"No buts, Mr Curtis. You will be partnered with Mr James as soon as he arrives, later today. He will retain his current code of 2.3. I am not as insensitive as you might think."



Sam flushed slightly, "I don't think Chris is dead. sir, I - "



Malone frowned, "I thought Miss Carrington had cleared you for duty?"



Sam stopped there, knowing that to go any further would only be digging his own grave, "She did, sir, I just - this is a shock."



"I understand, Mr Curtis, but to use one of Mr Keel's phrases; get over it. Mr James is due to arrive at Gatwick in just over an hour. I suggest you go and pick him up."



Sam grimly acknowledged Malone's order and strode angrily out of the office.



*****



After dinner, Terry took Chris down to the basement. They went into small soundproof room with whitewashed walls and cupboards, and neon lighting, and Chris slumped into his chair in the centre.



"This is a waste of time," he muttered yet again.



"It isn't," Terry was still insistent, "Bits and pieces are coming back, aren't they?"



"I suppose so," Chris rolled his head back to look at the ceiling, and winced as his tender skull hit the back of the chair. "Okay," he sighed, "Lets get on with it."



Opening one of the cupboards, Terry brought out a laptop with cabling running back into the cupboard. She sat on a stool and booted the computer, putting on some dark glasses and headphones. Once she was set, she used the machine to darken the room, and set a gentle whirling pattern on the wall in front of Chris supported by a low, soothing humming.



After a few moments, she asked "Are you ready?"



"Yeah," came the bored response through her earphones, and she smiled.



"Come on, Chris, you can try a bit harder." She didn't catch the mumbled response, and sat waiting patiently for a few moments longer.



"Are you ready?" she asked again.



"It's burning me," Chris spoke in a flat monotone.



Terry's smile this time, held no humour, "Does it hurt?" she asked.



"Like a bullet," he responded, and the completion of the code told her he was in her power.



Tapping at the keyboard, she raised the lights a little, and switched the humming off. Removing her glasses and headset, she pulled out some padded cuffs from another cupboard and secured Chris to the chair.



She always felt slightly unnerved by his unwavering stare at the wall, and worked to get out of the room as quickly as possible. She attached trailing wires to the cuffs, and finally administered an injection into his left wrist, peeling back the bandages slightly.



She selected the program she wanted the laptop to run and left quickly, before it started.



*****



Sam waited in the arrivals hall at Gatwick, bored. The flight from Chicago had been delayed in landing due to the permanent fog that seemed to shroud the airport.



He spent the time people watching, afraid that if he let himself think, he would dwell on Chris again. He had resolved to do that, together with some investigating, in his own time.



He was observing the coffee bar that the airport had considerately chosen to place in the arrivals hall, for the benefit of disgruntled people to pass the time waiting out delays. His eye was caught by a familiar figure sitting on a stool, leaning on the bar and drinking coffee by himself.



He could only see the man from behind, but he would recognise the leather jacket, the close-cropped brown hair, and the way he held himself, anywhere.



Sam pushed through the people milling about, determined to get to him before the mirage disappeared. As he made his way over, a blonde woman came out of the ladies, and walked right up to the man at the bar, who turned around.



The gold-rimmed spectacles, long nose and weak chin snuffed Sam's burning candle of hope out as nothing else had. The man now kissing the blonde was not Chris, and Sam was devastated.



Sam stood alone in the crowd for one long moment before the announcement that the Chicago flight was clearing customs broke his shock. He made his way back to the railing where the passengers came out, and did not have to wait long before he spotted Matthew James.



*****



Outside Chris' room, Theresa waited exactly ten minutes before turning the hidden switch off. She looked through the peephole on the door, and saw her patient lying curled up on the floor in the corner, eyes squeezed shut, and hands over his ears.



When he didn't move, she worried that she had overdone it, and almost went into the room. She stopped herself, deciding to give him a few more minutes, and her patience was rewarded when he slowly uncurled. He stood up shakily, using the wall for support, and stumbled to the mirror. He gazed at his own reflection for a while, using the dresser for support.



With a suddenness that made her jump, he hit the mirror with his good hand, until it broke. Theresa smiled evilly, realising that he was almost ready for the final session. But once the mirror was in pieces, the man turned on the rest of the room, breaking the chair against the wall, kicking the table, throwing any moveable object on the floor and crushing it, finally throwing his wedding photo at the door with such force that she jumped back.



This was not what she wanted. He was too violent. She wanted cold anger, not burning rage. She went away to consult her brother's notes. Maybe there was some way she could control that anger, and make it hers.



*****



Chris sat on his bed, staring at the photo, desperately trying to remember anything else about his bride. He remembered the shooting at his wedding, but no more. He knew he had loved her, but it was an old pain, not new, which was at odds with what he remembered about Sam and Malone.



He remembered that Sam had been his partner and friend, could recall his face, but nothing else. What he did remember was Sam's face being on the trigger end of the machine gun that killed his wife. He was wearing a naval uniform in the picture, so Sam must have been his partner in the Navy, but he was British, so that couldn't be right. Confused, he put the picture under his pillow and lay back, thinking.



Eventually, he fell asleep, dreaming of fire and pain.



*****

Theresa made her way down to the basement, and went into the locked room opposite the programming room to talk with her brother.



"Tony," she said, taking her seat, "It's me," she took his hand, "I'm going to try that new program today," she told him, "I know it's not tested yet, but I'll test it out on Keel. My plan's going to fail anyway, at the moment; he's just too unstable. You will hang on, won't you?" she begged, a tear escaping from her eye, "I need you here to keep me going, and I'm so close."



She leaned her forehead on his hand, and pulled herself together. She kissed his hand and replaced it carefully on the bed, before retreating from the room.



*****



Sam was becoming increasingly annoyed; Matthew James would not shut up. His new California surfer type partner had greeted him with a 'Yo, buddy!' in the arrivals hall and had not stopped for breath since. Sam had tried to allow for jet lag, nerves and over-excitement, but his patience was wearing thin. He was looking forward to handing him over to Malone for briefing. His heart leapt as the CI5 offices came into sight, and he pushed the accelerator a little harder, doubling the speed limit.



*****



Chris sat in the chair in the basement again, frustrated, tapping his heels and fists with impatience. He never really remembered these sessions, and was quite sure they were a waste of time. But Terry had done so much for him, he felt he had to try for her sake.



The headaches had grown increasingly violent today, but he still hadn't told her about them. He had asked for some Aspirin once, but she had told him that he couldn't have any. He was only just off the painkillers, and she wasn't about to risk him getting addicted.



She was a caring woman, and he wished he could just remember. But there was only a grey void where all his memories should be.



The lights went down, and he waited for the show to start.



*****



When Theresa had left the room this time, she opened the peephole in the door to watch what was happening. She had avoided this until now, feeling that she wouldn't be able to keep up her act if she really knew what she was putting him through. But after watching him earlier, she was fascinated; his pain easing her own.



With her limited view she could only see the bright flashes of light from the images being projected on the wall, and could only imagine the sounds that would be reverberating round the room.



But she revelled in his convulsions, as the electricity jolted through him at irregular intervals from the cuffs, the cords of his muscles standing out as he pulled and strained at the bindings, and wished she could hear the screams that must be coming from his throat. For the full hour, she stood watching, mesmerised.



The convulsions stopped eventually, the voltage apparently dropping; with just the periodic twitching to tell her it was still there. He slumped in his chair, still awake; the drug saw to that. Gradually, he sat up straighter in the chair, his eyes fixed on the images before him, and the flashing lights became more subtle, until they were just colours playing over his form.



*****



Sam sat on Chris' sofa, a file spread out over it. He had packed away some of Chris' belongings, but not many, his gut telling him that it wasn't time yet.



He had sneaked a copy of the Travis file and copied it. He was trawling through the details, trying to find anything that they might have missed before.



The only thing was the body count. The number of bodies, or evidence of bodies was right; eleven. The four Travis's and the fifth man that had blindsided him in the lab, then there were the three he had taken out when they split up, and Chris had mentioned three that he had taken out, and then there was Chris himself. Eleven.



But the placing of the bodies wasn't right. Only two bodies had been in the lab, and there was no body in the cellar. Maybe Chris had somehow managed to get back up the stairs. He looked at the autopsy reports from those that had been found in one piece. Four of the bodies had been found at the top of the building, an area that they had been told was sealed, so they had not checked it.



They were the only ones that had been identifiable, and they were employees of the Travis twins. None of them had been wounded and they all died of smoke inhalation. That meant that there had to have been fifteen bodies in the building, and four were now missing.



Sam decided to go back to the chemical factory, doubting there would be anything after over a month, but he had to try. Before he had even got to the door, his mobile rang, and he was summoned to Malone's office.





*****



When Theresa snapped him awake, he asked," Anything?"



"That's for you to tell me," she smiled at him, "How are you feeling?"



Chris took a deep breath, frowning, "Nah, I don't remember anything, I feel like I've ten rounds with Tyson, though. Why do these sessions always do that to me?"



"Well, they're pretty intense, it's probably just strain."



"Right," Chris wandered out of the door, back upstairs," What's in the other room? " he asked, indicating back with his thumb.



"The storeroom, silly, I have to have somewhere to keep all those burgers you keep stuffing down your throat!"



Chris hesitated, "You know, I do feel better," he remarked as though surprised, "My head's a lot clearer, now."



"Good!" she exclaimed, "Maybe we'll start getting somewhere." She looped her arm through his, "I've got a surprise for you today," she said excitedly, "Doctor Meyer will be around shortly, and if he says your hand is well enough, and I do mean if, we'll go to the firing range in town."



"You mean I get to get out of here?"



"Yep."



"Parole for good behaviour?" Chris grinned, the prospect making him feel like a little boy at Christmas.



"Something like that," she laughed, "Meantime, go get some rest, I'll be up when the doctor arrives."



Five minutes after Chris disappeared upstairs, she followed. She looked the peephole, and saw him lying on the bed. She flicked the switch, and saw him jump, clearly not expecting it. He retreated to the same corner as before, squeezing himself into a ball. She left the sonic disruptor run for the full fifteen minutes this time, and watched his every move, his every flinch and tormented yell.



It took longer for him to recover this time, and she waited patiently. When he finally made it to his feet, he again gazed at his reflection in the fragments of broken mirror that were still held in the frame.



This time, there was no violent outburst. He simply sat on the bed, and drew out the photo. He sat staring at the picture until finally she decided to go in. When he heard the door opening, he looked at her, and she saw the cold, bitter hatred in his eyes, and the grim set to his mouth.



"I want to kill the bastards," he told her flatly.



"Oh," she said, sadly, "Well, I'll tell you what, the Doctor's here, then, as I said before, we'll go to the firing range, and perhaps some practice will make you feel better."



He nodded, but said, "I doubt it."



*****



Sam cursed. His day was getting worse. He was stuck on stakeout, trapped in a tiny room with a telescope and Matthew James' incessant chattering. He knew the man could be silent when he wanted to be, had proved that back in Chicago, but when there was no imminent danger, like now, he was still talking. About nothing. And it was winding Sam up no end



They were watching the movements in and out of the house of a suspected drug dealer, a police matter normally, but this was a small terraced house belonging to a diplomat. A small matter in CI5 terms, but one designed to bring two partners together. Or drive one of them up the wall.



Sam ran the telescope up and down the street, to see if there was anything interesting. He saw a redhead walking arm in arm with a man coming their way, and paused to admire her legs.



"I'm out for coffee," Matthew James drawled somewhere behind him.



"Not for me," muttered Sam, concentrating on the legs. He moved the telescope up, and admired the rest of her. The man stopped her suddenly, and stepped in front of her, his back to Sam, who felt his stomach lurch.



He resisted the impulse to go running down the stairs and stayed with the telescope, "Come on, " he muttered, "Turn around, damn you,"



"Do what?" Matthew James asked, "I can't hear a word you're saying - "



"Shhh!" Sam was sharp, and Matthew James was immediately businesslike, professional. He looked out the window, and saw Sam's target.



"Hoooo Boy! I can see what you're looking at!"



Finally the man turned around, and Sam's stomach did a back flip. It was most definitely Chris Keel.



He charged out of the room without a word to poor Matthew James who stood dazed, before following him out. By the time Sam had made it to the road, the couple had climbed into a car and moved off, disappearing round the corner. Sam jumped into his own car, and screeched after them, leaving Matthew James standing on the pavement.



*****



"Come on, Chris," Terry used her most persuasive voice, "Just one more time." They had only just returned to the house, and Terry knew they were now on a tight deadline.



Chris sighed, and shook his head, "That guy that was following us, he's got me worried," he said, "We should make sure he isn't hanging around."



"Don't be silly," she smiled, "It was just a coincidence," she tried changing tack, "Look, if it doesn't work, we'll drop the whole thing, deal?"



"Okay, just one last time, then," Chris said resignedly. "But no more."



"Oh, you won't need any more sessions, I'm positive!" she said gaily, leading him downstairs.



*****



Terry watched Chris through the peephole, enjoying the view when she suddenly knew. Frantically, she opened the door to her brother's room, and examined the monitors within.



"No!" she screamed, "You promised you wouldn't leave me! You can't die! Not yet!" She thumped his chest in vain, trying to force his heart to start beating, but to no avail. She didn't stop until she ran out of energy, and collapsed on top of him, sobbing. She remained like that until the alarm on her wristwatch told her that Keel's session was over.



She pulled herself straight and with bitter determination, went into the other room, not bothering to lock the door behind her.



****



Sam drew his gun and approached the house carefully. It stood on its own in a quiet street full of similar houses, all largely hidden behind tall trees and thick shrubbery.



He made his way round to the back of the house, and ducked behind a water barrel as a movement in the bushes startled him. He relaxed when he realised it was just a rabbit. But tensed almost immediately when a cold circle of steel pressed against his temple.



"Nice to see you again, Sam," a wonderfully familiar voice whispered, and Sam started to react despite the gun that was still firmly pressed against his head.



"Chris, I - you - " The gun shoved hard against his head, preventing any further movement.



"Surprised to see me?" There was only bitterness in Chris' tone, and at first Sam could not find any words. Relief and joy at his friend being alive mixed with worry and dread at his unexpected behaviour tumbled through him.



"God, Chris, I hoped you were alive," Sam bowed his head and trembled slightly as the grief he had pent up was swept away, "I just knew you couldn't be dead. But why didn't you contact me?"



"Give me your weapon," Chris demanded, ignoring his outburst and holding out his hand. Sam complied, amazed and got his first good look at his friend when Chris backed off, allowing him to stand up.



There were fading pink blotches over once side of his face, but otherwise he seemed unharmed. The expression on his face, however, was cold and hard, a look he'd seen before, but never directed at him.



"Chris, there was nothing I could do," he pleaded, his own guilt coming to the fore. He raised his hands, as the gun remained pointed at him.



"Shut up and move," replied Chris coldly.



***



"...and move,"



Theresa switched the small device off. The implant had worked perfectly, and she could hear everything that had been said between the two men. She put the device in her pocket and prepared for the new arrival.



When Chris ushered Sam into the room, she directed him to cuff his old partner to the chair.



"Chris, what's happening here?" Sam asked uncertainly.



"You're going to get Chris into Malone's office," Theresa replied as she filled a syringe.



Chris snorted, "I don't need his help to do that," he grumbled, "I still think I should kill him right here and now," his hands played impatiently with his gun."



Theresa frowned at him, "We've discussed this already, Chris," she bent over Sam as she injected the drug, "It'll work much better if Curtis escorts you in saying he found you. He can even back you up, keep any other agents out of the way while you kill Malone. I can't ask him to kill anyone of course, this is only a form of hypnosis, but they won't know that."



"Yeah, yeah, okay, I know," Chris muttered, leaning against the wall.



"I don't understand," Sam asked, feeling the light sedative creeping through his body, "Why would you want me dead?"



Chris jerked away from the wall and leant close to Sam, gripping his shirt, "Why?" he hissed, "After everything you've done at Malone's say-so? You have to ask?"



"Yes," Sam croaked, "I don't know what I'm supposed to be guilty of."



Chris pushed away from Sam, his face full hatred, "Well, lets start with murdering my wife, shall we?"



"But I never even knew you had a w -"



"And move on to setting the fire that killed her husband," Chris interrupted as he flung his gun hand violently to point at Terry, who flinched slightly, "And I'm sure you'll be pleased to know her brother died less than hour ago, right across the hall, of the injuries he got in that fire, shame she's still alive, don't you think?"



"Chris, you were there, too, you - " But Chris was not listening, his tirade in full swing,



"I know I was there, Sam, you left me to burn! You left me to die in - " Chris stopped suddenly, and looked slightly bewildered at Terry, "I remember that," he said softly.



Terry masked her worry that he was starting to remember, and threw him an encouraging smile, "See? What did I tell you? Now lets get out of here, so that Mr Curtis can think about what he's going to do."



"Chris!" Sam struggled weakly against the cuffs, "Chris!" But his cries went unheard as the door shut and the program began.



*****



The office was buzzing with the news, whispered rumours flying with a vengeance. Sam Curtis had found Chris Keel alive and well, and was bringing him in. Malone had given strict orders that everyone should behave as normal when they arrived, as Mr Keel was apparently suffering from amnesia, and it wouldn't do to crowd him.



*****



Theresa sat in her car a street away from the CI5 building, the tracking device in her hand, and a small pistol in her lap. She had sent Curtis in with an empty gun, and Chris with a full clip. He had said that he only expected to use two bullets; one for Malone and one for Curtis.



Curtis was carrying Chris' gun, of course; they'd never let him take a weapon in himself after he'd been missing for so long. At least, if she were in charge of security at the CI5 offices they wouldn't.



She sat back and waited.



*****

In the lift, Sam handed Chris his gun without a word, and the pair stood side by side staring at the door, one with bitter hatred, the other with slightly glazed dullness.



*****



When the lift doors opened, everyone in the office glanced surreptitiously at the pair, some resisting the urge to rush over and greet them, others trying hard not to stare, and all of them filled with curiosity.



Backup was the only one to approach them, telling Sam to take Chris straight into Malone's office. She smiled at Chris expressing her relief at seeing him alive and well, but he stared at her blankly. He glanced over at Malone's office, and the cold hate she saw sent an icy shiver through her.



"I see Keel's little holiday hasn't improved his manners," she said to Sam jokingly, and was taken aback slightly when Sam just gazed at her dully. "You'd better get in there," she indicated Malone's office.



She held Sam back as Chris went into Malone's office and took a good look at him; his normally eagle sharp eyes were glazed and dull. She waved a hand in front of his eyes, and when he didn't respond, shook him, shouting "Sir! We have a situation!" When Sam's expression turned to bewilderment, she slapped him, "Snap out of it Sam!"



With an annoyed look, he pushed her away and drawing his gun, followed Chris into the office. He shoved Spencer, who tried to stop him, hard against a console.



Backup was right behind Sam, however, and pulled her own gun free, yelling, "Freeze Sam, or I'll shoot!"



Sam spun, and pulled the trigger, aiming for her shoulder. The gun clicked empty, and Backup pulled her own weapon up as her shot left the barrel, trying to destroy her aim.



Sam ducked to the side and yelped as the bullet grazed his arm. Spencer yelled as it embedded itself in the console above his head. Sam leapt for Backup, who, slightly stunned by the events unfolding, was not quite quick enough to stop him from kicking the gun out of her hand.



She expected him to go for the loaded weapon, and moved to block him. Instead, he leapt for her, wrapping his arms around her neck in a vicious headlock.



There was nothing she could do. Any sudden movement would make him snap her neck, and even now, the tendons were stretched to their limit, making her grit her teeth against the pain.



"Get away from the door!" Sam ordered the Ci5 agents who surrounded Malone's office.



No one moved to obey. Backup was more expendable than Malone. But Malone's order was quite clear, "Do as Mr Curtis requests please, gentlemen, ladies. Thank you."



Sam ushered Backup into the office, being careful never to release the tension. She was deadly when she wanted to be, and he couldn't take that risk. He had to get in there and cover Chris' back. He always covered Chris' back. He frowned; why was this time different?



He turned slightly and closed the door with his foot, but as he turned back to Chris and Malone, he saw the other agents dimly through the window. Over that was superimposed his own image, holding Backup hostage. Something wasn't right, and he released his grip just a fraction.



It was enough for her to throw her head back, slamming into his face. He lost his grip completely and tried to reach for her again, but Backup grabbed his wrist, and sent him flying into the wall.



Lying on the floor, dazed, he looked up at her standing aggressively, awaiting his next move.



Backup glanced over at Chris, who stood behind Malone; gun rammed against the back of the CI5 boss's head.



"Carry on," smirked Chris, "Don't let me stop you."



Backup knew she should secure Sam, but the bewildered frown on his face and the clarity in his eyes stopped her. "Sam?" she asked cautiously.



"Backup? Why am I on the floor? What the hell...?" he looked past her at the tableau behind in sudden, evident amazement. "Oh, shit." Everything rushed together in his head, and he picked himself up off the floor carefully, his hands up to show Backup that she had nothing to fear from him any more.



Mostly reassured, she was nevertheless careful to make sure he was in her line of sight at all times, and backed off towards the door.



"Mr Keel," began Malone, "I rather think its time for an explan-"



"Shut up!" ordered Chris, increasing the pressure of the gun on Malone's skull.



"Chris, you don't really want to do this," Sam said carefully, "You would have killed him by now if you were sure."



"I'm certain you killed my wife, Sam, and I'm certain he gave the order," said Chris bitterly, "Just like I'm sure you left me to die in that fire, do you deny that?"



Sam swallowed, "I didn't leave you to die, Chris," he said, trying even now to believe it himself, "I just wasn't fast enough, there was no way I could have been fast enough to get you out of there. But your wife died before you and I ever met."



"And I'm supposed to believe that? I remember your face on the man that pulled the trigger, Sam, I know it's true," Chris spat out the last words-

, "But before I kill you two, I want you to do something,"



"What do you want?"



"I want to know who I am," said Chris simply, "I'm not getting out of here alive and I want to know who I am before I die."



*****



In her black Vectra, Terry seethed; this was not a part of the plan. She knew Curtis' programming would not last long, but it would have been enough if Chris hadn't had his own agenda.



Her finger hovered over the device, as she was tempted to turn the disruptor on, but she decided to wait. He was still determined kill them, her programming would not allow him otherwise, so the plan may still play out.



*****



"...then the building exploded, and we thought you were dead," finished Sam.



"Nice story, but it doesn't mean a thing to me. I want evidence."



"It's all on the computer, Mr Keel," suggested Malone cautiously. Sam had told Chris as much as he knew about his partner, but that really wasn't very much, and the American had not allowed Malone to contribute.



"I want hardcopy. Harder to fake."



"The files are in the other office, the keys are in my drawer," Malone carefully opened the drawer and extracted the bunch of keys.



"Give them to the girl, she's not a part of this, but she has five minutes before I kill you both anyway."



Three minutes later, Backup put a thick file on Malone's desk and at Chris' order, retreated from the room.



Fifteen minutes later, Chris shook his head, "I remember, I remember some of this, I think, but -" he frowned, struggling to reconcile the patches of memory that slowly resurfaced, "but I remember them differently too. I remember Sam at the wedding shooting - but I remember some else's face pulling the same trigger - I don't understand... "



"You remember what Theresa did to me?" asked Sam, "Could she have done something to you?"



"No. Yes, maybe, I don't know, " Chris mumbled uncertainly.



"Why don't you put the gun down, then we could sit down and work through it all," Sam tried to persuade Chris, hoping he could bring this to an end without anyone getting hurt.



Chris hesitated, frowning, "I'm not so sure any more, maybe you're right," he started to finally pull the gun away from Malone, but stopped, startled. "I can't," he said, surprised, "I have to kill you both."



"What do mean?" Sam's voice was low and dangerous, now.



"I have to do this, I can't not do it,"



"Why not?"



"I-I don't know, I just can't!"



Sam moved forward, to try and take the gun away but Chris stopped him.



"Don't! Come any closer and I'll pull the trigger - I can't help it!" He was panicking now.



"Shit!" cursed Sam. "Can I go out the door?"



Chris considered that, and shrugged, "Try it."



Sam cautiously approached the door, and slowly opened it. He started to step through, "Stop!" He froze at Chris' order, "No further," he could see Chris straining not to pull the trigger, trembling slightly.



"Backup," called Sam, "There's a woman in a car outside and round the corner, a redhead by the name of Theresa Travis. It's a black car, a new Vauxhall, a Vectra I think. She has a gun, and I think she's responsible for what's happening."



Backup nodded briefly, and motioning for Spencer to follow ran to the lift.



*****



Theresa stared at the device in disbelief. How could he? After all her hard work, how dare he?



She looked around her relieved that no one was in sight yet, apart from the blond haired man coming out of the CI5 car park. She started the engine intending to make a quick getaway.



*****



Matthew James walked toward the entrance to the CI5 building, whistling. While he was pretty mad to have been left standing at the stakeout, he was looking forward to an interesting partnership with Sam Curtis.



A yell from the entrance caught his attention. The cute Canadian babe was shouting something at him and he took him a second to understand. When he did, he turned around, pulling his gun.



A black car was coming down the road towards him. He vaguely recognised the redhead driving, and shot the tyre. The car squealed abruptly to the right, ploughing into a bollard.



*****



Theresa shook her head to clear it. Through the cracked windows, she could see two men and a woman approaching slowly with their weapons. She clutched at the device and stabbed the button that would trigger the disruptor implanted in Keel's skull.



She gazed at the pistol, and then through the windscreen. Faintly, she could see Tony, Johnny and Karen, arms around each other, beckoning her to join them.



It was what she wanted now more than anything else. She had destroyed one out of the three, and it would have to be enough. She put the pistol to her temple, and pulled the trigger.



*****



Sam was standing as close as he dared to Chris and Malone, on the alert for any opportunity to disarm his friend.



When Chris gave a sudden gasp, clapping his left hand to his ear, and screwing his eyes shut, Sam leaped without questioning why. The gun, still pointed at Malone's head, was shaking violently, and Malone threw himself to the side when Sam made contact.



The shot Chris had been straining not to fire, thudded uselessly into the desk and Sam straddled Chris, trying to get the gun away from him. At first, the iron grip Chris held on the gun, could not be broken, but as his obvious pain grew, it weakened, and Sam threw the gun across the floor.



Chris had both hands to his ears now, and was screaming silently. Sam slid off him, and knelt as his side, putting a reassuring hand on his shoulder as Chris rolled onto his side and drew his knees up, retreating into a shaking, tortured ball.



Malone snapped an order to the agents outside to get Medical up there with a sedative.



The doctor who arrived a few moments later took one look at Chris, flatly refused to sedate him without knowing if drugs were involved, and insisted that he be taken to the hospital.



As Sam was about to argue, Chris suddenly went limp, almost as if someone had flicked a switch. Sam rolled him onto his back as the doctor examined him. She held up two fingers covered with red. "He's bleeding from his ear, it could be a haemorrhage. Hospital, now," she snapped.



*****



Chris handed the little girl to Sam through the small window. When he was sure the kid was clear, he reached up to pull himself out. The fire was licking at the table legs, and he knew he had to move fast.



Something grabbed him from behind, and he fell backwards with a yell. His shirt caught alight, and he rolled away from the fire, putting it out, but taking him away from the window. The redhead, Theresa Travis, was trying to climb out of the window but the table buckled, throwing her backwards and into the fire.



She lay unmoving, blood leaking from her shoulder, and the flames eating at her trousers. Chris pulled her clear and used his own shirt to put out her smouldering clothing. She was steaming, and he figured that she must have doused herself with water before braving the fire.



The window was no longer an option for escape as the table was making a blazing bonfire directly beneath. It seemed to have calmed down somewhat in the door area, and Chris decided to try that.



"I'm going to find another way!" he shouted as loud as he could, doubting that Sam would have heard him.



He hauled Theresa up in a fireman's lift, and taking a deep breath of relatively clear air, charged through the fire. He kept running, not knowing where he was headed. Just a few seconds passed before a rough voice called to him, "Here! Over here!" and he followed it, choking on the smoke. He could feel the strength leaving him, as he failed to draw in oxygen, but sheer determination kept him going. A broken door, half open and framed in flames, beckoned. When he was close enough, he let Theresa slide to the floor and fell to his knees, wracked with coughing.



He dragged Theresa to the door, and ignoring the pain from the fire that attacked him, pushed her through. A pair of strong hands took hold of her and pulled her out of the building.



He pushed through after her, on fire himself now, and ran for the grass nearby to roll and put himself out. Through blurred vision, he could make out Theresa getting to her feet, stumbling toward the body lying on the grass, crying, "Tony!" The man who had pulled her out collapsed to his knees, the flesh on his face had melted away, and the great wheezing breaths spoke of his imminent demise.



Chris tried to pick himself up, but the building chose that second to explode. He never saw the brick that impacted wetly with the back of his skull.



After that came flashes of Theresa, swirling images he didn't understand, and Sam's face superimposed over his wedding reception. Guns exploded, morphing into his head exploding, white streaks of pain searing his eyes. He screamed in agony, and tried to twist away from it all. He tried alternately scratching his own eyes out, tearing his own ears off. Demonic images of Malone and Sam laughed at him, and he tried to rip their faces off. But the cuffs that kept him bound to the chair that sent him into violent spasms, would not let him reach any of his targets.



Then came blessed numbness, followed by unknowing darkness.



When the darkness eventually lifted, he was back where he started, passing the little girl through the small window to Sam.



*****



Sam stared through the window without seeing the manicured lawns beyond. Looking at Chris lying unconscious, prevented from hurting himself by restraints attached to the raised bars around the bed, he could not help but feel the guilt. He had tried so hard to convince himself that it was not his fault his partner was caught in the building, but now it consumed him.



If he had been faster, if he had checked the perimeter of the building, if he had forced Malone to listen to his suspicions, if he had disobeyed Malone and investigated in CI5 time, Chris would not be like this now.



Scans had revealed a tiny metal chip attached to his aural nerve, and a relatively simple operation had removed it. There had been slight haemorrhaging but it had been caught in time to prevent any permanent damage.



Now, however, Chris seemed caught in a loop born of nightmares. He would start to mumble and twitch, quickly turning to shouting incoherently, and struggling against the restraints, and ultimately going into convulsions that made a sedative necessary. Before they had put the restraints on, he had clawed at his own face and the scratch marks were still visible. When Sam had tried to hold him down, he had fought back, reaching for Sam's face.



Sam shuddered at the torment and anger in his partner's eyes, and firmly blamed himself for putting it there. It was his job to watch his partner's back and he had failed. If he had pulled Chris out of the fire, Theresa would never have got to him.



"Thinking about 'If only's' again, Sam?"



Sam smiled wearily, and turned round, "What are you doing here, Backup?"



"Making sure you get something to eat," she looked him over critically, "You look terrible."



"Thanks, Backup, I really didn't want to know that."



"Well you do. You should go home, get some sleep and have a shave. And a shower."



"Do I smell that bad?" Sam almost grinned.



"Yes, you do."



"I'm not leaving him."



"I suppose that includes going home for basic necessities?" she sighed, "I didn't think you would, so I've brought your razor, deodorant and a change of clothes. Malone isn't expecting you back until next week. He's putting that scratch on your shoulder down as a wound requiring some R and R."



"Thanks, I don't know what to say."



"We'll just call it quits for me shooting you."



"But-"



"Shut up before you say something I'll regret," she smiled. Then she looked thoughtfully at Chris. "It's not as bad as you think, you know."



"What isn't?" Sam asked.



"Chris," she explained. "I know it was a shock when he tried to rip your head off, but it looks much worse than it really is. I mean he's only got two-point restraints on, and he's not on a suicide watch. He's just having bad nightmares, that's all."



"Some nightmares," Sam grumbled, though he was slightly reassured, "What makes you such an expert?"



Backup grimaced slightly. "I knew someone once who lost her mind. She was in full five-point restraints and on a suicide watch. It took a long time for her to recover, and some would say that she never did. It was much worse than this," Backup shook her head slightly and blinked, "Anyway, the doctor says he should be awake soon, and can maybe go home in a couple of days."



"Thanks, Backup, I don't know what we'd do without you."



"Wallow in your own guilt, or get yourselves in trouble, I expect. It's what you usually do."



This time Sam grinned and even laughed slightly. "Hadn't you better be going? Malone'll have a fit if you're late."



"Malone's always having a fit, but you're right, I'll see you later."



Later on, after a shower and a shave in a borrowed relatives' room, Sam felt much better. He was even a little pissed off that Backup had picked the wrong shirt to go with the suit. She had probably done it on purpose.



When he went back to Chris' room, the guilt that had receded for a while came back with full force. He sat next to the bed, and held Chris' hand through the bars.



"I'm sorry, mate," he whispered hoarsely, "I'm sorry I didn't get you out of there. I'm sorry I didn't go and find you. I'm sorry you had to go through all of this, and most of all I'm sorry I didn't watch your back."



"What the hell are you talking about?" croaked Chris, "And who the hell put these stupid things on me?" he rattled the cuffs.



"Chris? You're awake?" Sam gaped at his partner, who was looking seriously pissed off. A good kind of pissed off.



"No, you're dreaming," Chris retorted. "Now get these things off me!"



A little while later, the restraints had been removed and the bars lowered. The doctor had ordered twenty-four hours under observation, then Chris could go home. There would have to be some follow up sessions with Julia Carrington of course, but subject to those, he would be able to return to work within a couple weeks.



When the room was quiet once more, Chris asked, "What was all the apologising for?"



"I was feeling guilty for not getting you out of that building," Sam felt a little stupid saying it now.



"What?" Chris was incredulous, "You couldn't have done anything, Sam, the window was blocked. I had to find another way out."



"That wasn't what you thought a couple of days ago." Chris looked at him blankly. "You tried to kill Malone and me in Malone's office - you don't remember that?" Sam said slowly.



Chris shook his head then winced as head throbbed in protest, "Last thing I remember was lying on the grass and the building exploding after we got the kid out."



"Oh, mate, you're not going to believe this." Sam took a deep breath and told him the story as he knew it.



"Shit," said Chris when Sam had finished. "Are you trying to tell me I've got some plaque telling me I'm dead, somewhere?" Sam nodded. "Do you think Malone'll get over it?" Sam hesitated.



"Who knows?" he shrugged.



"Are you going to get over it? Forgive me, I mean."



"Me forgive you?" Sam was surprised.



"Yeah, I tried to kill you, apparently."



"I was sort of hoping you'd forgive me."



"Oh," said Chris, "Well, since I forgive you, and you're going to forgive me, why don't we call it quits?"



"Sounds good to me," Sam frowned, knowing it would take time for him to stop feeling guilty, to work things out. But with Chris around, it would be okay. "Hey, who said I was going to forgive you?"



"I did," Chris said smugly, "And since I'm the one in the hospital bed, I get to have my way."



"Oh well, then, I suppose I'll have to - "



"Yo, Sammy!" came a booming voice from the doorway.



Sam's face was a picture of horror to which Chris raised an eyebrow. Quickly putting on a blatantly false grin, Sam asked Chris through clenched teeth, "You haven't met Matthew James, have you?"



Chris shook his head as Sam reached for the Call button, "What are you doing?"



"I'm going to ask the nurse if I can have your sedative, and if you know what's good for you, you'll do the same..."



FINIS


 


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