Sam slowly stirred, not really sure of where he was. His eyes were heavy and he had to struggle for a moment before he finally forced them open. As he caught sight of the various medical equipment he was hooked to, of Catherine sleeping in what looked like a very uncomfortable position in the chair beside him, his hand firmly clutched in hers, he recalled what had happened the day before. Now where was....

"Catherine?" he called, his voice a bit weaker and with a slight slur. Wasn't going to take anymore of those painkillers, that was for sure.

Catherine opened her eyes, starting slightly at the sound of Sam's voice. She had been afraid to leave him the night before, both because of the mistake that the hospital made and because she didn't trust Sam not to try sneaking out in search of his fugitive. "Sam, how are you feeling?" she asked as she leaned over the bed, aches and pains from sleeping in the chair making themselves felt up the length of her back. "They should be bringing breakfast around shortly and then they're going to see about getting you into a regular room."

"Where's my fugitive?" Sam grumbled, hunger pains making themselves known at Catherine's mention of food but nothing he didn't think that he could ignore. He shook his head slightly, the pain a bit lighter this morning but still there. He could remember Bobby and 'Vannah popping in a couple of times with updates but.... "They find him?"

"No sign of him yet, Sam," Catherine said with a slight sigh. She had been hoping that he wouldn't ask about the fugitive for a while. "They're checking out every other hospital in the vacinity though and they have all of the ERs alerted. He's going to turn up sooner or later."

Sam glared for a moment, not really at Catherine but at the world in general. How in the world.... He reached for the bedrail, frowning as he fumbled to try to lower it. He had work to do.

"Sam Gerard, don't even think of it!" Catherine said in a quiet but firm voice that made him look at her in surprise. "Do you know how big a fright you gave everyone last night? We thought...." She closed her eyes for a moment, unwillingly reliving the experience of seeing Sam so cold and still on that gurney. She leaned over him again and pressed a kiss against his forehead. "You're going to stay in that bed and rest until the doctor says otherwise if I have to handcuff you to keep you there!"

"Cath...." Sam didn't know why in the world she was reacting this way. He felt fine. Well, okay, his head was throbbing a bit but it wasn't anything serious, nothing that he couldn't ignore. He had had way worse than this before and it hadn't prevented him from doing his job. "What the hell's the deal? I'm fine. Okay, I've got a little headache. But I've had worse."

"Sam, I mean it. We came too close to losing you last night. I expect you to listen for a change. Cosmo knows what he's doing. They'll find your fugitive." Maybe she ought to give Cosmo a call and see about getting some stuff brought over. Sam in this mood, she definately wasn't going to trust him alone long enough to go home and pack a bag.

Just then, the door came open and Nurse Owens came in carrying a breakfast tray with a smile on her face. "Hello. How's your head feeling this morning?"

"Better," Sam grumbled with a pointed look at Catherine.

"Well, that's good. You just enjoy your breakfast and I'll be back in a little while. The doctor has ordered a repeat CT scan and x-rays before we get you moved down to a regular floor."She exited the room, then came back in with a second tray. "Something for your guest, too. I won't let family go hungry. Here, honey." She set the tray down in front of Catherine, who looked down at it hungrily. "Don't worry. For a hospital, we've got pretty decent food." Owens smiled at both marshals, who smiled back, then began digging in. "That's better," Owens grinned.

"Maybe you can help me," Catherine began around a mouthful of scrambled egg before Nurse Owens could leave once more, "convince Sam here that he does NOT need to go running 'round the hospital in search of his fugitive."

Nurse Owens stared at Gerard blankly. "Well, that's not a real good idea, Deputy."

"Why the hell not?" Sam growled, munching on a biscuit. Eating seemed to help ease his headache slightly, and the painkillers were slowly wearing off.

"Um, remember what I told you yesterday about how we kind of...lost you?"

"Yeah. You found me."

"Yes." Owens blushed slightly, recalling her first impression upon seeing the marshal. "Well, if I'd found you half an hour later, you...wouldn't've made it."

Sam scowled. "Why?" How in the world could he have ended up going from a little bump on the head to the point of death?


Sam absorbed that thought, as the two women watched. Finally he muttered a soft, "Damn."

"See, Sam?" Catherine said quietly. "Now you know why we've all been so worried --"

"And so damn protective," he finished thoughtfully.

"Protective can be a good thing," Owens added gently. Gerard glanced at her appreciatively, as Walsh nodded her approval. The nurse thought for a moment. "You know," she told them, "I think I saw one of your teammates downstairs. If you like, I can try to find him and see what's going on, maybe even get him up here to report to you? That would at least let you know what's happening. I don't think it'd hurt."

"Do it," Sam ordered, then paused before shoving a bite of egg into his mouth and added, softer, remembering that this wasn't one of his kids that he could give orders to, "please."

Catherine sighed in relief as Nurse Owens nodded and left the room. Maybe now that Sam understood what they had been through he would give them a break and actually behave.

About ten minutes later, she returned. "Okay, I found him. 'Cosmo,' I think he said his name was," watching as the two marshals nodded. "Anyway, he said he'd be up here in a few minutes, had something to take care of first, then he'd be right up. He has a bag of your things for you, too."

"Good old Cosmo," Catherine murmured affectionately. "He read my mind."

"Mine, too," Sam agreed. "I just hope he got it outta my closet instead of buying it, this time." Catherine laughed, but the nurse looked puzzled. "I'll explain later," Sam told her.

"Okay," Owens agreed. "But I have a little more news." Sam and Catherine looked at her attentively. "Seems that, with you involved so much in an active search, hospital staffing has decided to take me off my regular patient rotation and assign me to you full-time. Sort of a hospital liason, in addition to private nurse." She glanced at them uncertainly. "Hope that's okay."

"It's fine, darlin'," Sam said softly with a slight smile. "That's what you've been doing so far anyway."

"Good idea," Catherine approved. She held out her hand to the nurse. "Welcome aboard." She had a feeling with Sam that she was going to need all of the help that she could get to keep that man safe and sound in bed.

I'm sorry to say that it doesn't look like I'll be finishing this story. I was a member of an email list for Tommy Lee Jones fans and that's where I started writing this story and my other US Marshal's fiction. One of the list members that I was really close to left recently and isn't speaking to me anymore. This really hurt me and my heart just isn't in writing anymore. I miss you, Carlie.