"Freya?" Michael Wells' voice was quiet, even tentative as he called to her.

Standing by the window of the small hospital room, she sighed. She didn't want to have the same argument yet again, but she knew it was inevitable. Raising her eyes to the cloudy skies, she didn't turn to face him as she answered him. "I'm not leaving him, Michael."

Wells sighed, knowing the battle was already lost, but needing to try anyway. It's been a week now, Freya. You can't keep this up. You heard the doctor--she said she'd call if he wakes up. Go home, Freya. Get a good night's sleep for once. He wouldn't want you to push yourself like this.

She turned around to face him, crossing her arms as she leaned back on the closed window. "I'm not going to let him wake up here alone. He doesn't have anyone else, Michael. I can't leave him. I won't."

I assumed as much, but I had to try. We're worried about you. I'm worried about you. I know it's not easy blocking out all the voices in a place like this. You need a break, Freya. Wells moved forward as he 'thought' at Freya, his expression both earnest and concerned.

She rolled her eyes and moved over to the bed where Brendan lay. Taking her partner's still hand in hers, she spared a quick look at Michael. "You can stop worrying--I'm fine."

Freya...

Before he could even think another word, she stopped him cold. "I said I'm fine and I'm not leaving. In case you hadn't noticed, a lot of things in my life haven't exactly been easy--but some things are worth the effort, Michael. This is one of them."

A faint groan interrupted the argument, as Brendan tried to fight his way to wakefulness. Freya reached out to brush several errant locks of hair from his forehead. "It's all right, Brendan. You're in the hospital. You were shot and you've been running a fever, but you're getting better now."

Is he still delirious? Michael approached the injured agent's bedside, but still kept his distance.

She shook her head. "His fever finally broke. They said he could wake up anytime." She leaned forward again, stroking his forehead as he spoke. "Can you hear me, Brendan? You need to wake up and talk to me."

Her only answer was another groan, though louder this time. She was about to try calling to him again when Wells interrupted.

That's good news. I'm happy to hear that he's out of the woods now. I suppose this means you'll be going home for awhile after you've spoken with him? There's no reason to stay and run yourself into the ground if he's out of danger. Though his eyes held a look of complete sympathy, the tone of his thoughts was firm.

"I'm not having this discussion again, Michael. I think it's time for you to leave. I'll be certain to give Brendan your best." Having dismissed her mentor, she turned back to her partner.

Michael shook his head and started for the door, hesitating before exiting the room. I do wish him a speedy recovery, you know. I just don't want to see that come at your expense. Take care, Freya. I'll talk to you tomorrow. Without waiting for her reply, he left.

She rubbed her temples, massaging them in an attempt to alleviate the headache brewing just below the surface. Michael had been right about it being difficult to block all the voices. But Brendan was worth the annoyance of the headache and she didn't regret her actions for a single moment.

Another moan from the man in the bed, this one followed by a sharp hiss. She took hold of his free hand, mindful of the IVs it was sporting and gently squeezed. "Brendan?"

"Fr'ya?"

The voice was weak and raspy, but it was music to her ears. She quickly pressed the call button and reached for the glass of ice chips next to his bed. "Yeah, it's me. Do you need some ice chips?"

Though his nod was barely noticeable, she saw it and fished a small spoonful out of the cup. Holding it to his lips, she smiled as she watched him savor the frozen bits as they melted on his tongue. "Thanks," he whispered.

"You're welcome." She set the cup aside and returned to holding his hand. "How are you feeling?"

His thoughts were confused and only a few disjointed images of the drive to the estate were discernable to her. "Happened?" he asked, his voice still weak.

She gently squeezed his hand. "You were shot, remember? We were at the Carrington estate to question the twins."

He nodded, attempting to shift in the bed and quickly discovering that it had not been a good idea. By the time he finally recovered the ability to speak, the fog in his mind had cleared and he was able to recall every detail of the shooting--right up to the point where he lost consciousness. "Was anyone...else hurt? The nanny make it?"

She again stroked his forehead as she provided the information. "No one else was hurt, only you and Ms. Jennings. I'm sorry, Brendan, she didn't make it."

"Damn it." He breathing quickened, his teeth clenching with the pain of the effort to get air into his lungs. "How long...have I been out?"

Before she could provide any further details, the door opened and the doctor hustled into the room. "Well, Agent Dean. It's good to see you back with us. I'm Doctor Cullen. Think you could answer a few questions for me?"

"Brendan Dean, in some hospital somewhere, George Bush. That about cover it? Because my partner here...was just about to fill me in...on what I missed...while I was in...surgery."

Oooh, a bit cranky there are we, handsome? Is that from the pain you aren't going admit you're in or is this just your normal sunny disposition when you wake up? The doctor was taken aback by his abrupt reply, but didn't let it get to her. "Excellent start. Now I need to check your vitals and have a peek at your wound." She grabbed the chart from the end of the bed and quickly read over the latest entries before placing it on the table. "You forgot one, by the way."

Brendan sighed, wincing as the action pulled on his injured shoulder. "Look, just cut the crap...and get this over with...will ya?"

Cullen ignored the sharp rebuke and began her examination of his wound.Let's see how you handle this one, Hot Shot. "You didn't tell us what day it is," she said, giving the appearance of being totally absorbed in her poking and prodding of the injury.

Brendan rolled his eyes. "Fine," he ground out through clenched teeth. "It's Friday." He hissed as she hit a particularly sensitive spot. "And this is NOT...how I planned to spend my weekend. There, happy now?"

She finished the exam, not commenting further. When she was ready to leave, it was Freya she spoke to rather than Brendan. "Five more minutes, Miss McAllister. Then I'll have to insist you leave and let Mr. Dean get some rest. His body has been through a lot these past few days." Wait for it...

"What do you mean, "these past few days"? How would you know...?" He turned to Freya, eyes flashing. "What's she talking about?"Okay, B, you are definitely missing something here. What the heck is going on?

Before Freya could answer, the doctor jumped in. "You're wrong, by the way. It's not Friday. Or even Saturday, if that's what you're thinking. It's Wednesday, Mr. Dean. You lost a lot of blood before we got a hold of you and then you developed quite an infection. You've been delirious and running a very high fever for several days."

Her tone and expression softened. "We almost lost you. Your wound appears to be coming along nicely now, so provided you follow instructions and get plenty of rest, I don't see any further complications for your recovery. I know you're anxious to hear about your case, but again, I must insist that Miss McAllister keep it to no more than five minutes for now. There will be plenty of time to catch up on what's happened later." After a nod to them both, she turned and headed for the door.

Pausing at the exit, she made one last parting comment. "The nurse will be in with something for the pain shortly. Rest well, Agent Dean. I'll be by to check on you again tomorrow."

Five days? Still stunned, he looked to his partner. "Five days?"

Her expression somber, she nodded. "She's right, Brendan. We almost lost you." She struggled to keep her emotions in check as she recalled the events of that horrible night. "The paramedics said you came very close to bleeding out. And then the fever started even before you'd come out of the anesthesia, despite the fact that they were already giving you antibiotics."

"Oh." Still in shock over the news, he was having a hard time coming up with the words he wanted. Wow. I can't believe this. It didn't even hurt that bad when I got hit. Well, not until I moved anyway.

Freya quickly brushed the moisture from her eyes and took hold of his uninjured hand one more. "So we don't have much time here. Are you ready for the short version of events?"

Though he refused to admit it even to himself, Brendan's strength was quickly waning. Pulled from his stupor by the sound of her voice, he nodded. "Yeah, please."

Still looking worried, she began her story. "The man who shot you was an old boyfriend of Sarah Jennings. He found out about her being the Carrington's nanny and saw it as a way to impress his new friends, who just happened to be looking for a way to get their illegally-acquired top secret defense technology out of the country and into the hands of their overseas associates."

I knew she was in on it--that was just too convenient sending the kids out of the room right before the shooting started.

Freya shook her head. "She wasn't a willing participant. She didn't know anything about it until he contacted her after Carrington disappeared. She thought he was there to take her and the girls to see Carrington. He told her they just wanted Carrington to see the girls, so that he'd cooperate. He said no one was going to get hurt. He promised her."

A far away look came over her as she continued. "She loved them, Brendan. Mr. Carrington and the girls. She really loved them. She thought she was keeping them safe by cooperating."

He sighed, his eyes growing heavy. "They always do," he mumbled, beginning to nod off. He almost instantly jerked back awake, needing the answers to a few more questions before he could rest. "What about Carrington? Any word?"

She smiled at that one, finally able to impart some good news. "They found him about five miles from the toy factory we were watching. He was being held in one of the outbuildings in an abandoned industrial park. One of the guys they picked up in the raid cracked and they've now got the entire gang in custody."

"He 'kay?" Brendan's words slurred as he fought to stay awake.

She frowned in concern, but quickly provided the answer. "He was a little dehydrated, but none too worse for wear, all in all. They kept him overnight for observation, but he's already safe and sound at home with his daughters."

"'S good." Losing the battle for consciousness, he offered one final thought on the matter. "Weird kids, though. Creepy."

Freya smiled, smoothing an errant lock of hair from his forehead. "Go to sleep now, Brendan. We'll talk about it later."

"Pr'mise?" The slur worsened as the battle was all but over.

She chuckled at that, crossing her heart. "I swear. We'll talk about creepy kids to your heart's content as soon as you wake up. Now sleep for heaven's sake."

"'kay." Smiling himself, his breathing quickly evened out into the hypnotic rhythm of sleep.


"Good night, my sweet angel." J.D. Carrington leaned over and kissed Hailey on the forehead, adjusting her covers before moving over to repeat the process with Bailey.

The girls accepted the gesture, each hugging their father before he moved away from their bed. He paused at the door, a huge smile on his face as he bid them a final adieu. "I love you." Waving, he flipped the switch, plunging the room into darkness as he pulled the door shut behind him.

They waited until his footsteps had faded completely as he headed downstairs to his study. Once Hailey was certain he'd gone, she turned to her sister, giggling. "How soon do you think he'll hire a new nanny?" she whispered.

Bailey shrugged. "Not long. I heard him on the phone with the agency earlier," she whispered back.

"You think this one will be easier to manipulate?" Hailey chewed her lip, already worried about the replacement.

Her sister rolled her eyes, even though it was too dark for her twin to see the gesture. "Well if she's not, we'll just get rid of her, too. Grownups are so stupid."

Hailey was quiet then, but only for a moment. "What if the new one can hear our mind-talking, like that lady from the NSA? You don't think she can hear us this far away, do you?"

Bailey sighed. "No, you idiot. She has to be able to see us, just like we have to see each other for it to work. Now shut up and go to sleep before Daddy comes back to check on us."

The silence last mere moments. "Bailey? Are you sure the NSA lady doesn't know?"

Heaving another long-suffering sigh, Bailey propped herself up on her elbows. "No, stupid. She thinks we only talk to each other using our special language, like all those stupid shrinks they keep dragging us to. She doesn't know anything."

"But...what if she figures it out?"

"She's not going to figure it out," hissed the annoyed sister. "And if she does, we'll take care of it, just like always. Now SLEEP!"

"Okay. Night, Bailey."

"Good night, Hailey."

The room was silent then as the two settled into their beds. Moments later, Hailey was at it again, this time sending a mental message to her sister's mind. That Brendan guy was really cute, though.

Stifling a giggle, Bailey responded mentally. Yeah, I thought he was gonna be some ugly, fat old man, like in the movies. I almost felt bad when I saw him.

Hailey's eyes shone in the darkness. Wasn't it cool? All the blood and everything, I mean? Think there'll be a stain?

No, stupid. Daddy will have it removed, even if he has to put in a whole new floor. They all think we'll be traumatized by it. Stupid grownups.

They both froze at the sound of footsteps in the hallway outside and quickly settled in to feign sleep. The door creaked open as their father's shadow appeared in the doorway and then disappeared.

Once the footsteps had again retreated into nothing, the girls again looked at each other. Neither said a word to the other, mentally or physically, as they communicated on a whole different level. Abruptly, the pair simultaneously erupted into a fit of giggles and then drifted off to sleep.