Hi :) I have to apologise for not uploading this as quickly as the other ones, these annoying things called being ill and having a biology exam got in the way, but that's over! So I have a long chapter for you, enjoy :) Summer x


Everything was very dark and very still. And numb. Sound came in waves, flowing and ebbing like the tide. He had a feeling he should answer but he couldn't quite figure out how to open his mouth. Or his eyes.

Rushing.

Bleeping.

"Hold on, just hold on."

"What happened?"

"What- Why…"

"Help me lift him up."

"Please, hold on, for me."

"This isn't good. Look at those vitals."

"He needs a hospital-"

"This will do. It will have to do."

"Help! Oh, God-"

"Pass me that-"

"Ok, it stopped."

"Three days? Jesus…"

"He's too pale, too still. It's scaring me."

"I can't stand this."

Their anxious, tormented tones made his insides freeze up with guilt, made him desperate to just get up and tell them he was fine. Only, he couldn't move. So maybe he wasn't fine.

He drifted in and out of consciousness, still unmoving.

-0-

Mr Davenport wasn't really sure what had happened. Somehow he'd got those restraints off and dived immediately off the chair to cradle his son. He didn't know where Douglas had gone, and he really didn't care; his mind was exploding with the image of a bleeding, unconscious, dying Chase.

It was his fault. But he really didn't have time to think about that.

He'd carried Chase into his medical bay, laying him on the bed and hooking him up the various machines that were meant to save his life. He'd built this place only out of precaution, he'd never really expected to use it. And then his medical training had kicked in and he'd gone into auto mode.

And after that, he sat and watched as the machines bleeped and the screens flared up with lights and Chase struggled to stay alive.

Tasha and Leo had come in at one point, and later Adam and Bree, their after-party spirit crushed brutally. They all said something or other. Leo looked like he was about to faint, Adam was doing his best to stop the tears spilling over his cheeks and Bree just held her brother's hand. And they sat like that, for a long time, because there was nothing else they could do.

He couldn't stop thinking it was all his fault. All the clichés said you blamed yourself, but they didn't quite capture the extent of it, how it ate you up because all you could do was sit and watch the final product of what was your fault. So he went to clean the lab up, and then came back, because there was still nothing else worth doing.

-0-

It was strange, at first. Opening his eyes wasn't even a conscious thought, he just knew he needed to do it. And then he was attacked by bright lights that were really hurting his eyes, and he moaned. And then he was attacked by everyone else.

"Chase!"

"You're awake!"

"Are you ok?"

"Chase!"

"Oh, God, Chase!"

He tried to sit up but something in his side protested violently to that, so he left it. The faces of his family swam into view.

"Hey… What… What happened?" Why did his mouth feel like someone had rubbed it with a mix of sand and nails? It was like he hadn't drank anything in three days. He tried swallowing but nothing happened.

"You… Chase, you got shot." Mr Davenport's face looked haggard and tired, and completely relieved. "We almost lost you."

"Oh." And there wasn't really anything else he needed to say about that, because everyone knew it already.

-0-

He spent the next few days mostly sleeping, drifting in and out of dreams. Each time he woke up someone different was sitting with him; everyone needed to go and get some sleep of their own but no-one wanted to leave him without company.

It was about midnight when he came out of his dream state and had his first conversation with Bree, who was curled up on a chair next to him, wrapped in a blanket and pretending to play on her phone while constantly looking over and checking on him. He'd told her she didn't need to, but she wasn't listening to that. The glare from the screen lit up her face and it took Chase a few moments to realise she was crying.

"Bree, are you ok?"

She sniffed, not looking at him.

"I should be asking you that."

"Seriously, what's up?" He pulled himself up into a sitting position. He'd been able to sit up recently and lying down tended to annoy him.

"I- I'm sorry," she dropped the phone into her lap, not even bothering to keep the façade up now. "It's just… Ever since we left Marcus's base, that's all I've been thinking about. That someone else could control me, and the whole life we've built since we met Leo would be gone. Just like that. And that someone could make me do awful things, could make me hurt people I care about, could make me…" She pulled at the edges of the quilt, staring at them like they were the most fascinating things in the world. "And then, it came so close to happening, and you stopped it. And nearly died doing so.

So, just… Thank you, Chase." She gave him a weak smile. He returned it.

"And please, Chase, you need to talk to Mr Davenport. He won't listen to any of us."

"What do you mean?"

"He's blaming himself."

-0-

Mr Davenport swapped with Bree that morning, taking over her vacated seat. He was carrying a bowl of cereal and a mug of hot chocolate, the smell waking Chase, and set it on the table between them.

Bree was right, he thought as he studied his father's face. The guilt in his eyes was painfully obvious, the number of lines on his face doubled since the time before Douglas had broken in. the enormousness of what had happened hit him suddenly; maybe it was delayed by the shock or something, but now he fully appreciated just how much he had nearly lost. And what would have happened to the people who loved him if he had.

"Hey, Chase, I got you some breakfast," he said, smiling. Or rather, forcing a smile. Chase's insides twisted as he thought about how long this had gone on for without him noticing.

"Hey, thanks," he tried to convey his feelings with a smile, you know, he was a guy and they didn't discuss feelings, but it didn't seem to work. He decided to break the rule. "Mr Davenport, are you alright?"

"Course I am." He glanced in the direction of his son without making eye contact. "Why wouldn't I be?"

"Because you're upset, and don't want to walk about it?" Chase knew that if his father had been feeling less guilty, he'd probably yell something about money and then walk out. His silence was almost worse, and he pressed on. "I'm sure the others said this to you and you didn't listen, but you do know this isn't your fault?"

"Chase, it-"

"Isn't your fault."

"But-"

"Not your fault."

"You should blame me."

His face said it all. The guilty, crushed expression made Chase want to cry even more than the gunshot wound had.

"I don't. I really, really don't." He looked Mr Davenport straight in the eye. "This is absolutely not your fault. I chose to go down to the lab, and I would choose to do it again, even now that I know the consequences."

"But they could have been so much worse."

"Nothing would be worse than someone killing you, Dad."

And he enveloped his son in a hug, holding him properly for a moment in a way that said I love you son, you know? Don't forget that…