Again, Thank you all. And to Vi who waited so patiently for her "christmas present". Hope you enjoyed it!


He was warm. It was the first thing Ezra realized. He no longer ached with cold, instead. Instead, he was comfortable. Too comfortable. The kind of comfortable that only comes with good medications. He felt heavy and slow. As if his body was caught in a suspended animation. Slow motion. Could he even move?

"He's waking up."

He recognized the whisper. Nathan was there.

"Ezra?"

And Chris.

He wanted to open his eyes, but they felt so sluggish. He blinked and caught the blurred images. Dim lights, shadowy figures hovering close.

"You're gonna be okay." Nathan sounded sure. He kept talking, but Ezra couldn't hear anymore.


"A little higher."

"Why? It's perfect where it is."

"Are you kidding? It needs to go a little higher."

"I think it's fine just where it is."

The two voices carried him from the dark. He didn't feel as heavy this time.

"You need more tubing." Another voice.

All familiar. Comforting. Right.

Slowly, he tried to open his eyes. It was easier this time, in spite of the lightness of the drugs. He could still feel it in his system but this time, he could feel the dull ache in his side as well.

It took a moment for his vision to clear. On one side of the bed, in plastic chairs, Vin and Chris sat, both watching the action in the corner with wry grins. On the other side of the bed, Josiah pretended to read a book, but his grin gave him away. Nathan just watched, shaking his head.

Another moment and Ezra could see what everyone else was looking at. In the corner, on the wide sill of the window, sat a two foot tall, obviously artificial tree. The base was circled by three pink plastic kidney bowls and it was wrapped from bottom to top in plastic tubing. A dozen or more latex gloves had been inflated to various sizes and randomly tucked into its branches. A variety of different sized bandages, still in their packaging, had also been tucked into the branches and at the top…

At the top of the tree, Buck and JD were still struggling with the placement of a "star" made out of tongue depressors and medical tape.

Ezra wanted to laugh, but knew it was going to hurt. Instead, he tried to find his voice. "That…is a hideous excuse for a Christmas tree." The words came out low and thick and his throat rasped painfully as he spoke.

The room erupted in movement.

"Ezra!"

He winced as questions came at him all at once and instinctively closed his eyes.

"You feeling better?"

"How long you been awake?"

"Good to see you awake, Brother."

Nathan finally stepped in. "Back off, guys," he reminded, but Ezra could hear the relief in his voice too.

Ezra opened his eyes again to find everyone except Nathan and Chris had backed off. He could hear Buck and JD return to their argument. Vin and Josiah were back in their chairs, but he could tell they were watching him and listening.

"How're you feeling?" Nathan questioned, automatically checking his vitals.

"Drugged," Ezra admitted. "What happened?"

"You got buried under a house," Chris answered simply.

"I was aware of that." When he choked on the words and started coughing, a cup of water, complete with straw, appeared in front of him. He drank greedily.

"Thank you," he managed when he was done. His side ached more now. He grimaced as he settled back into the pillow again.

Nathan patted his hand. "A good sized board pinned you in the explosion. You're lucky it just caught the fatty muscle of your side."

"Fatty?" Ezra questioned with offense. "I am not fat."

"Quit complaining." Chris was laughing at him. "Fact that it had muscle to go through and not internal organs saved your life."

"Fatty," Ezra found himself muttering.

Nathan backed away and sat next to Josiah as Chris leaned a little closer.

"Wanna tell me why you thought it best not to let us know you were called back by Wilson this week?"

Ezra kept his focus on Buck and JD's antics. Not sure how to answer. What could he say now?

"Ezra."

"I just didn't want to stir things up or cause more problems then it was worth."

"Yeah, well…You're an idiot." Chris waited until Ezra looked at him again. "Don't do it again." He patted Ezra's shoulder lightly.

"Finished!" JD announced loudly. "Merry Christmas, Ezra!"

There was a silent pause as everyone sort of stepped back and looked at the tree.

"You're right, Ez," Vin spoke finally.

"It's hideous." Seven voices spoke at once.

Ezra did laugh this time, chuckling softly despite the pain that spread through his side at the motion. It was ridiculous to feel this-right-when in the hospital at Christmas. Hell, he didn't even know if it was still Christmas day or if he'd slept through the entire thing but as he watched Buck and JD stand back and admire their handiwork and listened to the familiar laughter of his friends, he realized it was more than right. It was perfect.