Hey… so the next chapters up… this one's a bit longer as expected… so now I'm going to shut up and yeah- let you read…

Disclaimer: cigarette smoking is injurious to health. It causes cancer. This fic in no possible way promotes it…

"Still not okay…?"

Ten minutes later, we had slowed down and he pulled over in the Chrome hospital compound. We got out of the car. Before I could take a step; he was there by my side, to support me. Why does he keep doing that? First he helps me in every case and refuse to let me be on my own. Then, when I become dependent on him, he leaves me alone. I purposefully ignored him and took the lead myself.

He followed me really closely as if I was going to fall anytime soon. I wanted to laugh in his face and tell him that this version of Carmen was a lot stronger. But I was getting really tired. Of my injuries, my resolve and his pretty little games. My throat felt dry and I was exhausted. I needed to get something to drink.

I let him do the formalities while I made my way to the water cooler in the hospital lobby. Four men stood huddled together, drinking coffee. They sniggered at me. At first I was confused- had they not seen an injured girl before? Losers…

Oh.

Of course.

They'd never seen a girl wearing a gown with an enlarged cut sporting a blood soaked bandage on her right leg. But I don't think they noticed the oversized coat I wore on top of my dress. Because they made their way to me and stood around me; scrutinizing me with their eyes.

Perverts.

I suddenly felt grateful for Gary's coat. It hid most of the backless gown and the neck cut. Any other day; and I couldn't easily taken out each one of them and make them regret their cheap behavior. But today, my leg hurt me so much that it was taking every ounce of my determination to just keep standing; let alone fight them off.

I wish Juni or dad was here.

But someone else was.

Gary Giggles.

He made his way to us. I could tell by his expression that this was going to end badly.

"Let's go, Carmen." He said, walking past the bulky man and taking hold of my hand.

"Where to, darling…?"The bulky man mimicked. I felt like punching his lights out. Gary looked at him and said- "Unless you can keep your mouth shut, fathead; I'll lead you to a bed in the emergency ward."

Aw-man… I felt like laughing. But for some reason, the world swayed before me slightly. I clutched his hand tighter for support. He must've misunderstood it foe fear; because he whispered to me- "don't worry, Carmen. It won't last long. I won't let them touch you."

Of that, I was sure.

If I could handle a bunch of guys on my own, getting past agent Gary Giggles was a long shot. Even the best of the OSS agents couldn't defeat him. Except my father. Though I sometimes wondered if he let him win purposefully – after all, he was the director of OSS and well… my father….

"We'll see who lands in the emergency…" said the man; popping his knuckles.

That is; before his companion let out a funny sound that was something between a gasp and a shriek.

"Let's go, Tim. It's him. The black-coat guy from the news." He said.

For some reason, the fat guy seemed to lose all his inclination towards fighting Gary and backed off.

"Thank you." Said Gary with the devilish smile that I knew only too well.

"I'm sorry, sir." The guy babbled.

Why was he behaving like that? Black coat guy from TV. News? What was that? And sir?

Gary led me past them to I don't know where. My eyelids were drooping. I was just concentrating hard on keeping walking on my feet. Fortunately; we reached the intended ward before I could fall flat on my face. I hadn't realized that earlier when I was just holding his hand, now I was clinging onto him for support. He gently placed me on the bed and made me lie down. I was grateful for it though and closed my eyes.

I felt his hand moving up my thigh and Goosebumps reverberated through my body. I opened my eyes instinctively and gave him the best glare I could muster in spite of my pain. He wasn't looking at me. He adjusted the hem of my dress properly in its place and it was only when he had covered me with a sheet that he actually looked at me and our eyes met for the first time in the entire night.

But while I had easily pulled back my hand first back when in the car, I couldn't pull my eyes away from his. His eyes seemed tired, aged and full of- I don't know- worry…?

He seemed to have matured a lot since I'd last seen him. He noticed my unwavering gaze and broke off the eye contact. Then he did something I'd never see him do before.

He lit up a cigarette and started smoking.

Never stops learning new things; does he?

"Since when did you start smoking?" I asked him before I could stop myself.

"Been a while…" he murmured and walked over to the window; opening it so that the smoke would go straight out of it and not trigger the fire sprinklers.

"If I were you, I would go out of the campus to do that." The doctor said; entering the room. He was looking pointedly at Gary, who sighed and snubbed out the cigarette.

The doctor moved aside the sheet to examine the wound. I winced as he opened the blood- soaked bandage from the cut. Gary came closer and hovered protectively near the bed as the doctor pressed various parts of my leg for internal bleeding.

I could feel him tense as the doctor's hand moved up my thigh. His fist had clenched into a ball and he tapped his feet impatiently; never moving his eyes off the doctor.

I sighed and suddenly began wishing if I could ask for a female doctor instead; just so that Gary would stop getting ticked. He gave me some painkillers and an anti-tetanus injection before bandaging up my wound again.

And all this time Gary never took his eyes off him.