by Kristine Williams
He was beginning to remember some parts of the ordeal more clearly now. Visions of golden, glowing shapes that came up from the floor, and through the walls, kept flashing across his mind. With the flashes came sudden bursts of panic, fear, hatred...terror. Blair cleared his throat, trying to push the thoughts away, to focus on the game that wasn't holding his interest. Jim kept looking at him, and to hide his confusion, he would reach up and push the hair from his face. He knew Jim felt bad about what had happened, even though he hadn't been the one who had taken a gun to the garage and tried to shoot things that weren't there.
Blair tossed the blanket off of his legs and started to get up, hoping he had some energy stored up from 3 hours of sitting there.
"Whaddaya need, Chief?"
"I need to use the bathroom, Jim." Blair raised a hand to stop Jim from getting up. "I'm fine, really." There was no dizzy spell this time, and he managed to get to his feet without any trouble. The trip down the hall was easier than he'd expected, and he only bounced off the wall once before he reached the door. Once inside, he turned on the tap and splashed cold water on his face, trying to wash away the last of the unwelcome flashes that were hounding him. The doctor had warned him about this...and the flashbacks he could expect. Was this what he had meant? God, he hoped so. This was bad enough. Surely they wouldn't get any worse? One minute he was sitting there, watching football, the next minute something golden and flaming was standing right in front of him, reaching out, trying to...
"Dammit." Blair reached up to rub his eyes, trying to push the vision out. It was hard, when he opened his eyes and still saw everything through a golden haze that hadn't dissipated yet. But it was clearing up, slowly but surely. What must this have been like for Jim? He had gotten the drug directly in his eyes. Blair let out a huge sigh of relief at the thought of Jim's sight coming back. In all his confusion, he hadn't really taken time to think about that. He'd had plenty of time to think about what to do if Jim never recovered. As a Sentinel, Blair was certain Jim could have compensated incredibly well, as they had demonstrated to Simon. But as a friend, the idea tore at Blair's heart. And what would he have done if....No, Jim was fine now. He was recovering just like Blair was. It was over. There. That seemed to work. Concentrate on Jim, and his recovery, and you kept the visions away.
"Sandburg, you okay?"
"Yeah." Blair finished up and came back out, finding Jim standing in the kitchen. "Hey, I think I'm gonna go to bed."
Jim nodded. "Good idea. I'm gonna make a few phone calls then do the same. It's been one hell of a week."
Blair laughed shortly, shaking his head. "That's an understatement, Jim." But he appreciated it.
"Listen, you need anything, you call out. Okay, Chief?" Jim was holding the phone while he stood in the kitchen, looking at Blair. "I'm here if you need to talk about this some more."
Blair nodded. God, he didn't want to talk about it anymore. He didn't want to have to talk about it anymore. But, at least if he did... "Thanks, Jim."
It took Blair half the time to get out of his clothes that it had taken him earlier to get in them. By the time his head hit the pillow, he was half-asleep. He could hear Jim talking to Simon, and he listened as best he could, using the distraction to lull his mind. After that call, Blair wasn't sure who he was talking to, until he heard the name.
"Oh, man." Margaret. Now that Jim could
see... "Aw, hell." Why not? Keeping them apart for purely selfish reasons
was stupid. If they hit it off, great. If not, well, he'd just have to deal with
it. Maybe Jim wouldn't bring him in if their relationship went sour. It wasn't
like Jim to air his dirty laundry anyway, even with Blair. No, he'd just have
to let them continue, sink or swim. He reached up and brushed at his nose groggily.
For some reason, the end of his nose felt bruised. His memory was still pretty
sketchy, and he hadn't yet recalled a reason for it.
Jim rolled over, opening his eyes and focusing all of his attention to the room directly below his. Had he heard something, or not? He lay still, listening, but only the sound of Blair's steady breathing greeted his ears. Jim had been sleeping lightly all night, waking up with every change in his partner's breathing pattern, every sound from below. But Blair had slept through the night. He turned to the clock, not trusting the excessively orange sunlight streaming in from the windows. It looked like sunrise, but then, so did everything else. Just after 8:00 AM. Jim stretched, grateful to have spent the night in bed, and not in a chair again. Granted, he could have slept in that chair for as long as he needed to, but he was glad to be home. He was glad they were both home. Jim stretched again, luxuriating in the sensation of grateful muscles. Blair would most likely be sleeping late. And they weren't needed for a few more days, so Jim rolled back over, got comfortable once again, and fell back asleep.
Several hours later, when Jim was just finishing up the eggs, his partner came slowly out of his room, yawning mightily as he made his way across the hall to the bathroom. Jim used his sense of smell to determine the stage of the eggs. With everything still so golden, it was hard to tell if something yellow was cooked. The coffee was easier to handle, and the toaster being preset was also a sure bet. Man, he hoped these special effects would end soon, or he'd have to get Blair to cook again. Not that it was such a bad idea, as long as he felt up to it. His partner came out of the bathroom and went back into his room. He was moving slowly, but seemed to be steady enough on his feet now.
"Hey, Chief. You want some breakfast?"
"Yeah, Jim, I'll be right there."
"Take your time." He turned off the gas and brought the pan to the table, dishing up both plates. From the bedroom, he heard Blair mumble something about time and having just slept the equivalent of two straight days. Jim chuckled a little under his breath as he returned the pan to the kitchen and picked up the coffee pot. It was nearly noon, but who was counting?
"Hey, Jim." Blair came out of his room, dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt.
"Sleep okay?" Jim already knew he had, but Blair still had a look of tiredness about him.
He nodded, sitting down. "I'm a little tired of being tired, though."
Jim poured coffee for both of them, then sat down and left the pot on the table. "Don't knock it, Sandburg. It's not often we get some time off to do nothing." He put a forkfull of scrambled eggs in his mouth, glad to find his nose had been an accurate judge of his cooking.
"What about the dealers? You said you got them?" Blair was picking at his eggs, but he was at least eating now.
"Yeah, we did." Jim nodded, recalling the bust that seemed like weeks ago now. "We got all of them, Chief. Simon's a little sore at me, though."
Blair looked up, raising his eyebrows. "What? Why?"
Jim laughed a little, rolling his eyes. The memory sent him grinning wickedly, even though Simon still didn't see the humor in it. "I wrecked his car."
"You what?!" Blair set his fork down, looking at Jim, eyes wide.
"Had to be done, Chief. One of them was in that stock car of theirs, and I was the only one in a car."
"Jim, could you see anything when you did this?"
Jim shook his head. "Not too much." He laughed again, remembering how stupid he had been. Stupid, but desperate. And he hadn't actually gotten anyone hurt, although he had meant to tell Simon the airbag on his car hadn't deployed when it really should have.
Blair picked up his coffee and shook his head slowly. "I don't know about you sometimes, Jim."
They finished breakfast, and Jim did the dishes while Blair sat on the couch, flipping through channels looking for some news. When he finished, Jim went to the living room and sat in the chair opposite the couch just as Blair gave up looking for news and clicked off the TV.
"How we doin', partner?" Jim asked.
"I'm okay, Jim."
His words and his tone were exact opposites. "I'm not convinced here, buddy."
Blair looked at him, eyebrows raised. "Yeah, well, neither am I, Jim."
"So talk to me, Blair. This isn't something you need to keep to yourself."
Blair shook his head. "No, I'm fine, Jim. Really. I just need to get past this. I'll be fine."
"I know you'll be fine, Chief. But you're not going to get past this if you just let it sit there." Jim paused, waiting for Blair to look at him again. "Listen to me, this wasn't your fault. There isn't a man or woman at the Station who doesn't know exactly what happened and why." Blair glanced around the room, and Jim waited until he was listening again. "The only thing you're going to find when we get back to work, is a Precinct full of people concerned about you. We all took this personally, Blair. Each and every cop there. We were all targeted by that Golden on the pizza, and you're one of us." He paused again while Blair seemed to digest that. "Listen, how would you be feeling if it was another officer? What if Brown had been the one to eat the pizza, and go downstairs with a gun? Would you think less of him?"
"No, of course not. But.."
"No, no buts, Chief. It's no different."
Blair was quiet for a few minutes, considering what Jim had said. "Okay," he said, finally. "I need to get some work done." Blair stood, pushing himself off the couch.
"Hang on, where are you going?" Jim reached out to stop him.
"Just in my room. I gotta get some of this sensory stuff down while it's still fresh in my mind...so to speak." Blair patted Jim's hand that had caught hold of his arm. "It's okay, I'm just going down the hall, man."
Jim released Blair's arm. "Sandburg..."
"No, Jim, I'm fine. Really." Blair stopped and turned back to face him. "Thanks, man. I'm okay now."
Jim nodded, then watched him walk to his room. Blair left the door open, and sat down at the desk with his computer. After a few minutes, he seemed to fall into the pattern Jim had come to recognize as his intense study mode. Blair's ability to all but zone out on his projects fascinated Jim. It was no wonder, having seen him get so wrapped up in his work he'd forget to eat, that his partner had to set alarms to remind him to go to sleep. How he remembered to set an alarm to remind him, was still a mystery.
Blair stretched and shut off the computer. He knew he had been at it too long, when he found himself wishing they'd had time to test Jim's compensatory abilities while his sight was gone. No, what he needed was some down time. Maybe some out time as well. He'd made a quick phone call from his room while Jim was on the cell phone in the living room. Now, it was time to get some air. Jim was on the couch when he came out of his room, putting his coat on.
"Where do you think you're going?" Jim asked, noticing the coat.
Blair held up a reassuring hand. "Not far, man. I just need some air. I'm gonna meet some friends down at the coffee shop at the end of the block."
"I don't think that's a good idea, Chief. You just got back from the hospital yesterday morning."
"I know, Jim. I'm fine. I just need to get out for a few minutes. Not long." He pulled his hair out from under his jacket. "The end of the block, Jim. That's all." Jim nodded reluctantly. Blair felt like he was asking permission to go out and play, but he would have stayed in if Jim insisted. "How are your eyes doin'?"
"Almost clear. Just have this, you know, residual kind of fringe...glow"
"Glow." Blair echoed. He still knew exactly what Jim was seeing. But it seemed to be clearing up.
"...to it, yeah." Jim nodded. "It's---kinda nice, actually."
Blair shook his head. He was about to reply when there was a knock on the door. "That'd be Margaret." He motioned towards the door with his head as Jim jumped from the couch.
"What is she doing here?"
"Well, you know what, I just realized it's crazy for me to try to keep you guys apart, so I'm giving you both my blessing." Blair sketched a cross in the air in an exaggerated gesture of dismissal, then moved around Jim to the door.
"Oh, wait, wait, wait, wait---" Jim was holding out his hands.
"What's the matter? Are you afraid that her inner beauty just isn't going to be enough for you, Jim?"
"Oh, come on, I-I-I lied to her, I mean, I deceived her a little."
Blair laughed lightly and reached out, clapping Jim on the shoulder. It was finally his turn to give the advice. "So make it up to her."
"Tell me, honestly, Blair, man, how unattractive is she?" Jim shook his head suddenly. "No, forget it, forget it, I don't care, I mean---No, should I?"
Oh God, how was Blair supposed to admit he had---exaggerated? It was only out of a desire to keep them from ever dragging him into the middle of a failed relationship, that he had allowed Jim's misconception, that he did perpetuate maybe just a little, to manifest itself. He opened his mouth to explain, and changed his mind.
"No. You shouldn't." He reached out for the doorknob.
Blair smiled, laughing a little at Jim's insecurity. "You ready? You ready?" He took three puffs of air, trying to pump his friend up as he turned the knob. Before Jim could reply, he opened the door, smiling at Margaret, who was standing in the hallway.
She glanced at Blair, then looked at Jim. "Hi."
"Hi," Jim replied.
Blair eased himself past her and into the hall, glancing back at Jim for just an instant before he left. No, they'd be fine. And it might even work out. If it didn't, well...he'd just deal with that if and when it happened. In the meantime, if Blair had to face a Precinct full of officers who had witnessed him trying to shoot phantom golden figures with Jim's gun, then Jim could face the music and come clean with Margaret. Who knew which one would be harder to face?
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