by Kristine Williams
Jim walked out of the Captain's office, with Simon following him. They were approaching his desk, and Jim felt he was getting better and better at finding his way around the Station. Simon had been saying something, but an odor caught Jim's attention and he wasn't really listening.
"What's on my desk?" It smelled oddly familiar, but not at all pleasant.
"Ooh, pizza. Why?" Simon stopped at the front of Jim's desk.
Jim heard the Captain open the lid of a box as he stepped around behind his desk. He fine tuned his sense of smell, suddenly fearful of what the odor was reminding him of. "No, I know that but..it's something else. It's a..."
"Um, let's see."
"No no no, don't touch it!" Just as he realized what it was, Jim's leg slammed into an open drawer he wasn't able to see. "I...it's got that Golden stuff on it...I can sense it." Oh my God. Stunned, Jim pushed the drawer shut and took another sniff. Definitely Golden. Jim was never going to forget that smell, as long as he lived. Simon picked up the phone and called for a HazMat team. Jim was behind his desk now, trying to rid his mind of the smell of Golden. God, how had it gotten there? Right there, in the station where anyone could...
"Jim, there's a piece missing. Someone ate this."
Sudden fear gripped Jim's gut. "Oh God, where's Sandburg?!" No, please God, no. Jim grabbed for the drawer he had hit when he stepped behind his office as he fought back the panic. It had to be there!
"Jim, what? What is it?"
Damn. "My backup .38 is missing. My service revolver, I keep it right here. It's gone." Jim had felt everywhere inside the small, mostly empty drawer, desperate for his gun to be right where he'd left it.
"Captain, we have a serious problem down in the garage!"
Jim looked up towards the voice. He'd been in such a panic, he hadn't even heard anyone come in. Instinctively, he knew his worst fears were being realized. Without hesitation, Jim hurried around the desk and put a hand on Simon's shoulder, letting the Captain lead him down to the basement level.
"Carpenter, what the hell is going on here?!" They were in the doorway to the parking garage now, and Jim released his hold on the Captain's shoulder, sensing the room full of people. There was one heartbeat standing out from the rest in Jim's ears. One heartbeat that was racing, out of control, and skipping beats now and again.
"He keeps yelling about demons. He dusted or what?!"
Jim swallowed against the adrenaline welling up from his gut, and the fear he could sense coming from somewhere in front of him.
"He's been dosed with Golden!" Simon snapped back.
Jim was desperately trying to make sense of the golden blur before him, trying to force the formless shapes to solidify, to identify themselves.
"Take cover!" No sooner had the voice brought Jim's full attention in the right direction, then a shot rang out, slamming into a car directly in front of them, shattering the glass. Jim ducked instinctively and moved back, feeling Simon's hand on his back as the Captain joined him in taking cover.
"Simon, what the hell's going on?!"
"He's got your gun," Simon replied. "He's on a car about twenty yards away. 1:00"
"You get away from me! You keep back!!" Blair was shouting, and Jim heard the gun going off seconds before anyone else did. He heard the bullet strike something, and instantly smelled gas from the ruptured line.
"If he fires again, this whole garage could go!" Carpenter shouted.
"Let me talk to him." Jim could hear Blair's heart racing. He knew he'd taken a large amount of the drug just by the concentrated smell he'd picked up from the pizza. Just the dusting Jim had rubbed into his own eyes had a detrimental effect. And there was no way of knowing how much the young girl on the bridge had ingested.
"Are you crazy? He won't even recognize you, Jim!"
"I've got to try!!" Jim moved out from behind the Captain. He had to try. If anyone could get through, it would be him. In that state, Blair would never connect with anyone else. He tried to stand and stumbled once, reaching out for the hood of the car that he couldn't even see, until he could get to his feet. He had never felt so helpless...so blind. Jim was on his feet now and walking towards that racing heartbeat. He'd have to take it slow, find a way inside Blair's confused mind, and work him out of it.
"Hold your fire! Everyone hold your fire!" Simon's voice reverberated through the garage.
Jim was only vaguely aware of the other officers, scattered about, hiding behind the vehicles. No doubt they all had guns trained on Blair, ready to stop him from hurting anyone. "Blair, it's Jim." It was up to Jim to keep his partner from hurting himself. If only he could see! Jim started to clap his hands, desperately trying to locate Blair. "What's goin' on, buddy?" Jim forced lightness into his tone. He had to keep from adding to Blair's confusion and panic. The skipping heartbeat was directly in front of him. Would Blair even know who he was? They'd been together for so long now, been through so much. But were his instincts tuned into Jim enough?
"There's no need for applause, man, I've got it all covered."
It was Blair's voice, but not Blair...not really. "What's goin' on?" Was his voice light enough? Casual enough? Would Blair connect with it---with him?
"You don't see them?" His voice had suddenly taken on a note of panicked desperation. "They're coming through...through the walls and the floor, man."
"Who are?" God, it was a nightmare his partner was seeing, wasn't it? A nightmare that to his mind, couldn't be more real. This was no golden castle with inviting people. Stay calm, get control. Dammit, if he could only see!
"The golden fire people." Blair's voice changed tone again, quickly, violently, adding a note of terror and helplessness.
My God, what was he seeing that was tearing him up like this? What was that drug doing to him?
"You don't see 'em, man? They're made out of fire, and....they're burnt You think they're dead, but they're not." Blair's voice began to quiver, and Jim heard his heart skip again. He could practically feel Blair's adrenaline surge. God, if he could only see! "...think they're ashes, but they're alive, man. And we gotta send them back!" Blair's voice instantly changed from distress to anger.
Jim heard the trigger pulling, but had no time to stop the shot that rang out, slamming into another vehicle, judging by the sound. "Blair!" Jim had ducked instinctively, not knowing where the gun had been pointing when the trigger was pulled. "Whoa, easy buddy, easy, buddy! Blair, listen to me." He held up both hands, moving closer to the car he could hear Blair moving around on. "Your gun..isn't gonna work with the fire people. They're not gonna be afraid of your fire. It's only gonna make them stronger." Jim tried to focus on his partner with all his will, but he was still just a glowing golden form, occasionally shifting into half-focus, but fading right out again. The drug was tearing Blair's mind and body apart, right there in front of him, and he was all but helpless to stop it. There had to be something---something he could use to connect. Something that would be easily retrievable in Blair's current state of confusion. Something that would connect him with Jim---with help. He tried to change his voice, sound reasonable. What he was about to say had to penetrate, had to get inside his partner's mind and convince him it was true. "You gotta use the bat echo trick, remember?"
"What trick?" Blair sounded completely unconvinced.
Jim pressed on, he had to. "The bat echo trick. You know, the one you taught me. You close your eyes and clap your hands." Jim demonstrated, praying Blair would connect.
"No, man. That is NOT gonna work here." Blair was becoming agitated again.
"Blair come on, try it. Trust me. You can save the world here. Come on."
"I don't think that's gonna work here, Jim." Blair's voice once again altered, as his emotions took another violent swing. "I just don't think that's gonna work here."
"Come on, give me the gun, Blair." Come on, partner, come on. "Just clap your hands." He was close enough now to reach out and grab Blair, but he resisted the urge. He still couldn't see well enough to distinguish where the gun might be, and Blair had to come down on his own. It not, if the nightmare didn't come to a conclusion, it never would. All of Jim's training was being put to the ultimate test now. This wasn't some potential jumper, or whacked out drug user ready to run into traffic. This was Blair. His friend, his Guide, and right now, the only person standing between Jim and total darkness.
"I just don't think that's gonna work."
Blair's voice was desperately upset now, and Jim could hear the gun being cocked once again, very close. "Trust me." He reached out, not for the gun he could now sense was pointed at him, cocked and ready, but for Blair's arm. "That's right, just give me the gun." Jim held his partner's arm with one hand, and reached for the gun with the other. It took all his will not to grab the gun when his hand closed over it. Blair had to give him the gun, it had to be his decision. The heartbeat that filled Jim's sensitive ears was beginning to slow, drastically. The gun was slowly being released into his hand and he took it, then transferred it into his other hand so he could maintain contact with the only part of Blair he could reach.
"Go ahead, clap your hands. Do it, Blair." He was close, so close. Now, he had to make the nightmare end in Blair's mind...make him believe it was over...it was all right. If only he could focus more, see his partner. He released Blair's hand and heard him clap, hesitantly, quietly, but he clapped nonetheless.
"You did it! You did it. You did it." Jim let as much relief and encouragement flow through his voice as he could. He was still reaching out, and keeping one hand as close to Blair as he could reach.
"It's clear!" Simon's voice rang out.
"I'm sorry." Blair's tone sank again, and Jim could feel him coming closer. "I'm sorry."
Jim took his arm, sensing Simon next to him, as he helped Blair off the car. "It's okay, buddy, it's okay." Someone was beside him and Jim handed the gun to whoever was there, catching his partner as he began to collapse into him. The once racing heart had now dangerously slowed down. Jim held Blair and lowered himself to the cement floor with his now unconscious friend. "It's all right. Hang in there buddy, it's all right."
"We need a medic over here NOW!"
Simon was on Blair's other side, but Jim was oblivious now to anything or anyone. All he could hear was his partner's dramatically slowed heartbeat. All he could feel was his unconscious form cradled in his arms. God, he felt so helpless. He'd always thought the Station was the safest place there was from something like this, especially after new precautions were set in place as a result of Kincaid's invasion. Until tonight. Until his friend and partner was randomly attacked while waiting at Jim's own desk. And now lay helpless and dying on the garage floor. Jim cradled Blair, holding him close for his own sake, and began to rock back and forth gently.
"It's okay, it's okay."
"Jim, there's an ambulance coming."
He felt Simon's hand on his arm, but didn't feel compelled to release Blair until the paramedics themselves were there, gently taking Blair from Jim's hold and placing him onto a stretcher. Jim refused to let go completely, and kept a hand on his friend's head as the medics examined him quickly. His vision was teasing him, coming into focus enough to see shapes and forms, only to blur into nothingness all over again.
Simon was touching his arm, and Jim barely realized it. He was too tightly focused on Blair as the medics prepared to load him into the ambulance.
"Jim, come on, I'll drive you." Simon began to pull him off to the side. "Come on, Jim. You'll just be in the way in there. We'll take my car."
"No, Simon, I'll go with him."
"He'll be all right, Jim," Simon said, but instead of insisting, he assisted Jim into the back of the ambulance. "I'll be right behind you."
Jim heard Simon explain to the paramedic who climbed in the back that Jim couldn't see, but after that, he heard nothing. Only the erratic pattern of Blair's heartbeat, the pounding of his own inside his chest, and the slow---too slow---breathing. Jim sat at the head of the stretcher, out of the way but in constant contact with Blair's head.
"Come on, buddy, hang in there. Stay with me, Chief." He had to---had to be all right. Jim was barely aware of the medic as he inserted catheters, hooked up IV's, and monitored Blair's fading condition. "Hang on, Blair. I need you, buddy. Stay with me." His heart skipped, and Jim wasn't sure if it was his own, or Blair's, until the paramedic reacted. God, he felt so helpless. What good was his Sentinel hearing if he could only listen while Blair died? What good was he if he couldn't protect his partner at his own desk?
The ambulance finally pulled into the emergency entrance, and as the doors opened, Jim heard Simon's car pull in right behind them. He had to wait for the paramedics to remove the stretcher, then he began to follow, meeting Simon as he reached the back of the ambulance.
"Jim, I'm right here." Simon took Jim by one arm and helped him out. "Come on."
Jim let his Captain lead him into the emergency room, all the while keeping a close focus on Blair as the orderlies rushed him into an exam room. He wanted to go in, but he knew better, and Simon ushered him to a row of seats off to one side. He sat down, and Simon sat beside him.
"It's bad, Simon. His heart nearly stopped there for a minute." God, this couldn't be happening. It just couldn't be happening. "He was right there in the Station, Simon."
"I know Jim."
"Right there at my desk!"
"I know, Jim. Just take it easy. He'll be all right."
Jim shook his head. Blair wasn't all right. He was on the verge of death right now, how could he be all right? How could this happen? He had been there...Right there. How could this happen? Jim's vision was still teasing him, with faint shapes that would nearly come to clarity, only to blur into oblivion again. He listened intently to the doctors and nurses working on his partner, while the Captain used his cellular phone to contact the Hazmat team at the Station. Jim didn't hear Simon, he didn't hear the other noises in the waiting room, and he couldn't focus his sight on anything. All he could do was sit there, helplessly, and listen to the doctors who were trying desperately to raise Blair's blood pressure...get him to breathe on his own...intubate him when his automatic responses ceased. Jim was going numb listening to Blair's condition deteriorate. What would he do? What would he do if he was permanently blind, and Blair wasn't there to help him? What would he do? There was a hand on his shoulder, and Jim turned slightly towards it.
"Jim, they're taking him to a room." Simon lowered his voice, leaning down.
"Yeah." Jim's voice sounded tired even to him.
"Come on, I'll take you." Simon's hand left his shoulder, and took his arm.
Jim said nothing, but got up and allowed the Captain to lead him down the hallway, where he had heard them take Blair.
"Doctor, I'm Captain Banks, this is Detective Ellison. How is he?"
Jim strained to see something, anything, but again the images he received were vague shapes and glowing orange forms. He was standing next to the bed, he knew. And he could hear the sensors, monitors, and respirator sounds even with their volume shut down. Oh God, he's on a respirator.
"We won't know for some time, I'm afraid. He's had what amounts to an overdose, and right now all of his autonomic responses have shut down. He stopped breathing as soon as he got here." The doctor sighed and Jim felt a chill run down his own spine. "We've done what we can, the rest is up to him. I'd like to tell you he's got a decent fighting chance, but frankly gentlemen, right now it's anyone's guess."
"Thank you, Doctor."
"I'd like to stay with him." Jim realized the doctor was leaving the room, and Simon would have to get back to the Station.
"Of course, you can stay as long as you wish. I'm Doctor Mickleson, if you need me you can have me paged. "
"Jim, I've got to get back to the Station, get this investigation kicked into overdrive. It was personal before, it's even more so now."
Jim heard and appreciated the tone in Simon's voice. He didn't reply, but instead reached out for what he hoped was a chair he was seeing next to the bed. It was. "Captain, keep me informed?"
"Sure Jim." Simon patted him on the arm as he sat down, then walked out of the room.
Jim sat, then felt something on the chair and reached under his legs, pulling out a magazine. He sat back in the chair again, and idly fingered the corner of the magazine with one hand while rubbing his eyes with the other. All the fear and tension of the past---how many hours? It was all catching up to him as he sat there, listening to the gut-wrenching sounds of the respirator that was keeping Blair alive. If only he could see! No...what good would that do? It was enough to know Blair was lying right there, beside him, hanging onto life by a thread. How would seeing him make it better?
"Hang in there, buddy." Jim reached out a hand and found Blair's head, then rested his palm on his partner's forehead. "Hang in there." He was cold from his body being in shock and his blood pressure so low. Jim tried to tune out the mixture of sounds coming to him from the machines and monitors, but instead, he found himself becoming mesmerized by them. Blair could help him filter them out, and push them into the background. But this time, Blair was the reason for them, and he couldn't help. No one could. Jim was blind, and his only Guide was lying there, helpless and dying. What would he do if Blair didn't recover? How was he supposed to cope with this sudden shift in his senses, if Blair wasn't...NO, he'd be fine. Blair would recover, he had to.
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