Jim stopped and tried to make out where the voices were coming from. He could hear them, but the echoing of the metal ship was confusing his sense of direction, like a carnival fun house. The sounds seemed to be coming from everywhere. He could feel his heart pounding, the blood rushing through his ears mixed with the voices. Then he heard, clearly, Blair's voice. Something inside settled down, as if a switch he hadn't been able to reach was turned on. His heart rate slowed, his senses cleared...focused into one. Quickly now he ran through the maze of corridors, following the voices. As he rounded a corner he came up behind the younger of the three men he had seen on the tapes, his gun raised.
Jim reached for the gun. His eyes had been tightly focused on the trigger, watching it squeeze back just as his hands closed around Frankie's arms from behind. He knew how fast a bullet traveled, but with his Sentinel focus, it seemed to happen so slowly. He watched, almost mesmerized, as the bullet left the gun. With nauseating clarity he saw it cross the corridor, enter Blair's left side, travel through skin, muscle, viscera, then burst through, slamming into the wall.
Jim brought his knee up and Frankie's arms down, hearing as well as feeling both arms break with the impact. He tossed the now screaming man down, wrenched the gun away and threw it down the hall. Without even giving him a second look Jim turned and ran down the corridor.
"Sandburg!" Blair was lying, motionless, on the cold metal floor. "Blair, answer me dammit." There was blood covering his shirt, blood on the floor.
"Jim!" Simon put a hand on his back, trying to get past him and out of the bathroom he had been pushed into. "Jim, where's Mike?"
"I'm here." Mike called out from the opposite end of the corridor.
"Oh my God." Sara, who had been trying to hide behind her husband looked down at Blair. "Is he...?"
"No! Simon, get an ambulance down here, now!" Jim was frustrated with them for still standing there. "Sandburg, come on answer me. Blair." He had taken off his flack jacket and now placed it under Blair's head as a crude pillow. Blair's eyes were open, trying to focus on his own. He said nothing and Jim realized he was losing consciousness. "Come on Chief, I need you, don't check out on me now." He pulled up the bloody shirt and took his own off, using it as a bandage as he applied pressure to both entrance and exit wounds. Mike had left, taking Sara to join Darryl and get to a clear area for the cell phone.
"Jim?" Simon was kneeling now behind Jim in the narrow walkway.
"He's bleeding, Simon." Was all Jim could say. Blair was unconscious, his already bruised face pale. God, where was that ambulance? "I can't stop the bleeding."
Simon stood, "Help me get him up, we'll take the truck."
Jim quickly tied his shirt around his friend's waist then lifted him as gently as he could, with Simon taking his legs. The corridor filled suddenly with armed FBI agents. Fashionably late again, Jim thought. He ignored their demands for an explanation, pushing through while Simon quickly directed them to the incapacitated men in handcuffs. Once on deck Jim saw the paramedics coming up the gangway and they set Blair down. He noticed then Darryl and Sara Jenkins standing on the pier, unharmed.
He knelt on the deck, cradling Blair's head as the Paramedics approached. Jim reluctantly moved aside as a medic placed a hand on his shoulder.
He didn't hear Simon beside him at first. He was beginning to feel dizzy, numb. The sirens, strobing lights, and shouts from everywhere began to hypnotize him like they had never done before. Must be the adrenaline, he thought. Simon's voice called to him from a fog, and he had to willingly force his mind back, to respond with a questioning look.
"Jim, give me the keys to the truck." Simon was saying, "You can ride in the ambulance to the hospital. We'll meet you there."
Jim nodded, not really understanding.
I need the truck tonight. How long ago was that?
He shook himself, swallowing. "Right." he said, digging the keys from his pocket.
"Jim, he'll be okay." Simon had his hand on Jim's arm, but he couldn't feel it.
Take the cell phone. "Yeah, he'll be all right." Jim answered.
They were putting Blair into the ambulance now so he climbed in, sitting opposite the medic, and placed his hand on Blair's arm. He hadn't opened his eyes again. There was a compression bandage wrapped around his abdomen. His shoulder, where Jim had watched the blade cut, was bandaged. There was tape pulling the broken skin closed over his eye. The cut along the jawline wasn't deep at all.
Blair stirred, moaning slightly, but didn't open his eyes.
"Hang in there Chief." Jim pushed the hair away that had fallen across his eye. "You're going to be okay." He let his hand rest on Blair's forehead, knowing how physical contact could reassure a semiconscious mind. It did much to reassure his own, as well. "Your in the big leagues now, kid." Why weren't they there yet? The hospital was only a few blocks from the waterfront. Jim kept his hand on Blair's forehead. "It's all right Blair, you're going to be fine." Dammit, how long was this going to take? He listened to the younger mans heartbeat, willing it to beat more strongly. How much blood had he lost? And why did he feel like someone had pulled a plug on his own energy?
"We're there." The medic leaned over to push the doors open. Jim waited until they had taken Blair out, then followed closely.
Somehow, through a maze of paperwork, doctors, Press and angry FBI agents, Jim made his way to the quiet area reserved for family members of surgery patients. He was pacing the floor of the small empty room, unable to sit down. He tried several times. He tried to sit down, close his eyes, calm down. Every time he stopped, every time he closed his eyes, he saw the bullet firing out of the gun. He saw it travel down the corridor in nightmarish slow motion. He watched as it...
"Jim, how is he?" Simon had entered the room and was now standing in front of him.
He stopped his pacing. "He's in surgery, Simon. They couldn't stop the bleeding." He glanced at the clock on the wall. "It's been three hours."
Simon sighed, pulling his glasses off to rub his eyes. "Jim, you know these things take a while. When Darryl had his appendix out, surgery took two hours. It just takes time."
Jim nodded, resuming his pacing. "I know, I know." he replied.
"Jim, why don't you go home, take a shower, change your clothes. You're covered in blood." Simon tried to reason with him. "I'll stay here."
Jim shook his head.
"Is there someone I should call? Does Blair have family?"
Jim stopped suddenly, turning on Simon. "I don't know, Simon." he said, his voice forcibly controlled. "He's been living with me, working with me, and I don't know." He voiced the anger he had been feeling with himself all day. "I have no idea."
Simon was nodding. "None of us does, Jim. I'll call Records in the morning, his observer paperwork should have an emergency contact name."
Jim shook his head again, still disgusted with himself. "This never should have happened." he said, pacing again. I never should have let him get inside me. "I never should have let him do this. He's not a cop. This paper, it has nothing to do with police work. It's about these damn senses." These senses he hadn't been able to use to save the hostages until Blair told him where they were. He was circling the room now, Simon was in the way for a direct back and forth. He had these senses before he ever met a Blair Sandburg. Why did he now have so much trouble using them? Had Blair--in helping him refine and understand his abilities--had he become a part of them? A catalyst? That's exactly how it had felt there in the freighter. He could hear the voices, but he couldn't control the input, make sense out of it, until he heard Blair's voice. That's when it all came together. Focused. Clarified. Was he dependent on the younger man now? Blair would love this little tidbit of information. He would have to ask him when...
"Jim, my son was there." Simon was saying. "Mike's wife was there. They had nothing to do with police work. It wasn't about them, it was about us. They were just innocent victims."
"That's exactly my point, Simon." Jim stopped.
Before his friend could reply the door opened and a doctor in surgical greens stepped in.
"Yes?" Jim stepped forward, trying to read the doctor's expression.
"Mr Sandburg is out of surgery now."
"Doc, how is he?" Jim wanted to pull the answer from the man.
"He lost a lot of blood, but the bullet missed all the organs."
I know, I watched it. "So, he's going to be all right?"
"Yes, he should make a full recovery. We'll keep him here for a while, but he should be fine."
Jim felt the weight lift from his chest. "When can I see him?"
"He's in recovery now. They'll bring him down in a couple of hours. Barring any unforseen complications, he should be out of here in a week." The doctor glanced at his watch. "If you'd like to come back in the morning, you can see him then. Right now he wouldn't remember having seen you anyway."
Jim nodded, "Thanks doc."
Simon shook the doctor's hand, thanking him, then turned back to Jim as the surgeon left. "Jim, go home, get some rest. I have to get back to the station, finish things with the Feds." He turned to go, then paused, looking back. "We just may be on suspension for a bit, for our little unauthorized adventure." He smiled. "That would give me some time to spend with my son."
as Simon left the room. He took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. Okay
Chief, next time you can borrow the truck.
Back at the loft, Jim showered and changed, then went into Blair's room. He glanced around, looking for the first time at his housemate's living quarters. There were books everywhere, notebooks, typed pages and handwritten ones strewn about the night stand, floor and dresser. He scanned some of them, realizing they were all about him. He opened a few drawers, somewhat guiltily, and searched around. Nothing. No address book, that was probably in his laptop which Jim didn't know how to use. No photos of family that he could find. There were pictures of various people, tribes he had visited no doubt, but not a Caucasian in the bunch. Absently he picked up the small tape recorder from the floor and fingered it. Simon was right, he thought, the Precinct would have a record of next of kin for emergency contacts. He would wait until morning, after he had seen Blair.
First thing the next morning Jim drove to the hospital. He met Mike Jenkins in the lobby.
"Mike, is Sara okay?"
"Yeah, she's fine. They kept her here overnight, she needed a sedative. I've just put her in the car, with her mother, and saw you coming in." Mike replied, sighing dramatically. "I, on the other hand, am in it deep with her folks for not telling them what happened."
Jim shook his head, "It wouldn't have done them any good to know."
"Didn't do me much good either." Mike looked down for a moment. "Jim, I don't know how you figured out where they were, but I'm damn grateful you did."
"So am I Mike. So am I."
"Well, listen, how's Blair?"
Jim glanced towards the elevators at the far end of the lobby. "I was just on my way up. They said he'll recover, though."
Mike nodded, "That's great. Hey, I gotta go. Did Simon tell you? We're all off for a week. Paid, though."
"Paid?" Jim raised his eyebrows.
"Yeah, the Feds were pretty pissed, but the Chief says we were 'instrumental in defusing a potentially volatile situation'."
Jim snorted in Bureaucratic disgust.
"Right." Mike agreed. "But hey, if the Department wants to make me take a week off with pay, I ain't above it. Sara and I are going to go away for a bit."
"That's a good idea."
"By the way, she wanted me to have you thank Blair."
"Thank him? For what?"
"I guess the kid was a rock during the whole ordeal. At least for Sara. She was pretty upset, like anyone would be. She says Sandburg was actually calm the entire time. Did a lot to keep her from losing it, ya' know?"
"Good. That's good." Jim wasn't sure what to say.
Mike patted him on the arm, smiling. "You should be proud, buddy. You raised the kid right." he teased.
Jim smiled. Mike said goodbye then and Jim watched him go, shaking his head. Once upstairs a nurse showed him to the private room Simon had arranged for his friend. He paused at the door, listening, then knocked once and entered.
Blair looked pale still, and he didn't raise his head, but his eyes were open. He was alive.
"Hey Chief." Jim put a hand on Blair's shoulder. He needed to touch him, to reassure himself that his friend was there. Right there. Not on some video tape from who knew how long ago. Not bleeding in the back of an ambulance. Not being held captive, brutalized by someone who had chosen Blair just because...He was right here. Suddenly embarrassed with his own realization, Jim let his hand slip away.
"What do you think of Police work now that you've been shot?" Jim asked, smiling. "This doesn't happen to all cops, you know."
Blair raised his eyebrows, "Depends. Does this mean I'll get some respect?"
Jim laughed. Blair's voice was a little weak, but there was light in those damn eyes again. "I wouldn't count on it."
"Then it sucks." Blair replied. "I'm just glad I don't remember much of it."
He sighed a little and Jim could see he was fighting to stay awake.
"I should let you sleep."
"No, Jim. Stay for a while, okay? Please?" Blair reached out and took hold of Jim's shirt sleeve, hooking a finger through the cuff.
"Okay." Jim smiled. He caught a chair leg with his foot and pulled it over, so Blair wouldn't have to let go of his shirt.
"I'm sorry about all this. I should have been more careful."
"Sorry? Blair, sorry is when you've left the bathroom a mess. Sorry is when you tell me you're taking a cab and then don't. Getting kidnaped, tied up, shot, because of..." Jim swallowed hard and suddenly felt the need to examine his jacket more closely.
Blair had closed his eyes for a moment, and didn't see his friend dissembling. "They told me Sara and Darryl are okay."
"Yes, they're both fine. Which reminds me, Sara says you were pretty terrific back there."
Blair laughed weakly, "I didn't feel terrific. Jim, I was terrified."
"Yeah, well. Maybe you were. But you thought of them first. What ever you felt, it didn't show. I'm proud of you." he smiled, "And the entire Precinct has it on tape."
Blair rolled his eyes dramatically.
Jim laughed, "I should bring a video camera in here."
"God Jim, that's not funny."
"No, I'm serious. I mean look at you. You're quiet, calm, relatively motionless. This just doesn't happen everyday. People aren't going to believe me."
Blair snorted, rolling his eyes. "Don't you have work to do or something?"
Jim smiled, noting that Blair hadn't let go of his shirt, and was showing no sign of letting go for awhile. "Nope." he draped his jacket over the chair and pulled Blair's tape recorder from his pocket. "I'm on leave for a bit. So we have plenty of time."
Blair raised his eyebrows questioningly. "Time? For what?"
"For everything Sandburg." He held the tape machine up, pressing
the red record button. "If we are going to make a serious case of you being my
partner, then I need to know everything about you." he said. "Starting the moment
after your mother had that C-section."
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