Jim tried to block out the pounding in his head by pressing the
heels of both hands against his forehead. It had to be working, since the sound
of his own breathing wasn't causing so much pain in his ears. And the beating
sound was less dramatic now. Cautiously, he took a deep breath. The sensation
no longer sent chills up his spine, and the sound in his nasal passages was less
of a roar. Whatever had happened, seemed to be dissipating.
But what had happened?
Hesitantly, Jim removed his hands and allowed his eyes to open. The light that
struck them was bright white, and only dimmed after he tuned his sight down as
far as he was capable. The room he was in took shape then, and he remembered something
else that was no longer thundering in his ears. Something that had been so loud,
so painfully loud, he'd wanted to stop it--he'd been desperate to stop it. But
what was it?
Oh God! "Sandburg!" Jim's own voice echoed
through his head like a cannon. He stood and had to reach out for the wall to
steady himself against the violent wave of dizziness and nausea. "Blair?"
He tried again, only much quieter. Still nothing. "Sandburg." Jim moved
forward, then tried to open his hearing enough to direct it around the room, but
too many sounds struck him hard. The scraping of insects, the wind, leaves hitting
the building. He swore he could even hear the grass grow.
But no heartbeat.
"Oh God!" Blair's leg was visible sticking out from behind a bin at
the far end of the room. Jim hurried as best he could with the waves of dizziness
and the painful pounding in his head. "Sandburg!" He fell to his knees
next to his unconscious friend and clutched his shoulders, noticing the large
red and black bruise on the side of his face.
Blair was awake in an instant,
jumping inches into the air, fighting to get away until his eyes focused. "Jim!"
"Thank God." Jim breathed out a heavy sigh of relief, then sat back
slightly, closing his eyes for a moment.
"How do you feel? Are you okay?
Man, I must have fallen asleep or something." Blair tried to sit up and winced,
placing a hand over his stomach.
Jim remembered then, exactly what he had done.
"Take it easy. Let me have a look." He pushed the hair from Blair's
face, trying to ignore the pounding in his own head so he could examine his friend.
The point of impact was high on the cheek, and Blair pulled back a bit when Jim
ran overly sensitive fingers over the bruise. His tactile senses were still flashing
on and off a cocaine induced overdrive. At first, Jim was able to control the
input; then suddenly he could feel each burst capillary and pool of spilled blood.
He had to fight back a wave of nausea at the sensations.
"Jim, I'm fine."
Blair was keeping his voice quiet, looking at Jim with concern. "How's the
"Sporadic." Jim shook his head, flexing the fingers
that had just given him more information than he wanted. They seemed to go numb
for a minute, then returned to normal. His vision was doing the same, flashing
brightly, then dimming. The pounding headache wasn't subsiding at all. "Let's
get out of here." Jim pulled out his cell phone.
Blair reached out a hand, pushing the phone down. "Jim, hang on. Let me do
that." Reluctantly, Jim handed the phone over. "Your ears are still
overly sensitive too, aren't they?"
"Yeah, flashing off and on."
Jim grimaced at the sudden input of the cell phone's power-up beep.
man." Blair covered the phone quickly. "Jim, we can't risk any permanent
damage. Until the effects have completely worn off, we need to keep you isolated."
Jim shook his head. "I want to get you to a hospital. And we need to get
forensics out here." He had to stop and close his eyes as the light level
increased dramatically, then subsided. That was followed by another wave of dizziness
that passed more quickly this time. Jim felt a hand on his arm and opened his
eyes again to see Blair looking into his eyes intently.
"Jim, they can
wait. The evidence isn't going anywhere. I'm more worried about you. It's been
nearly 3 hours, and you're obviously still affected."
Jim shook his head.
The motion sent his head into a painful round of increased pounding. He wanted
to argue, but he had to wait until another onslaught of over-stimulation passed.
At least now he was able to keep his mind on track. And he was able to concentrate,
and lower the levels when they surged too high.
"I think it's passing,
Chief." Jim patted the hand that Blair was still resting on his arm. "Call
Simon, tell him we need a team out here, and an ambulance." He stood slowly.
His caution was rewarded with a milder dizzy spell. "Where's my gun?"
Jim still had to squint to prevent the light from being painfully bright.
over by the tractor, under some leaves." Blair flipped the phone open. "Jim,
just sit down over there and try to concentrate on turning everything down as
far as you can. Use that mantra I taught you to keep your mind focused on one
Jim nodded absently as he moved away from the phone call he knew
would echo through his tired, sore mind. He reached the other side of the building
and found a stack of crates to sit on. Just before he sat down, his foot struck
something. Reaching down, he found his gun and picked it up. The carbon odor of
spent powder assaulted his nose, and he remembered the two shots that had exploded
inside his head with painful volume. Shots that could have killed Blair.
sat down and closed his eyes, then tried to still his breathing the way his partner
had been trying to teach him. Most times, he had no need for Blair's little neo-hippy
methods, but as odd as they might seem, each one Jim did try, worked. Like this
one. He was picturing a dimmer switch, and watching it turn down, lowering the
lights to a more pleasant level. At one point, he lost his mental 'grip' on the
switch, and the lights spun out of control. Jim took a deep breath, then found
the switch again, and held on, turning it down. It was working. Next he tried
the volume control, and after losing it twice, it too came under control.
heard the phone clicking shut after the call; and the sound of his friend's voice
no longer reverberated in Jim's ears. His sense of touch was harder. Blair had
suggested once he imagine a cushion of thick air between his finger tips and the
world, then let that image spread over his body, cocooning him from outside sensations
that could only be felt if he pressed through it. As time passed, Jim realized
his clothes no longer irritated his skin, and the feel of the night air was back
to a normal level. Cautiously, with eyes still closed, he stretched out and listened
to the sounds in the room. Blair's heartbeat was back, but the sound no longer
sent him into a blind rage. Jim opened his eyes to see his friend, bruised and
sore, standing beside him.
"Is it working?" His voice was still very
"Yeah." Jim nodded, then reached out and put a hand on Blair's
arm, feeling only the normal sensation of skin on cotton. "I'm okay."
He noticed the pained expression on Blair's face, and the arm held protectively
over his stomach. "Let me see." Jim pulled Blair's arm away and reached
down to lift his shirt.
"No, Jim, I'm fine. I'm okay." Blair's protests
were interrupted by a sound they both heard. A key was placed in a lock, and the
door opened, admitting two campus security officers, two uniformed officers, and
"Jim, what happened?"
winced at the volume of Simon's voice. He'd just attained a balance, but Blair
had been helping by keeping his own voice low. After the initial shock, he regained
control. "We stumbled into the cutting room and I got blindsided." Jim
had let go of Blair's shirt and now stood slowly. There was no dizzy spell this
time, but he was weak and exhausted.
"Simon, he needs to get to a hospital."
Blair was beside Jim, one hand now resting on his arm protectively. "He got
dosed with cocaine when we came in and he's still recovering."
worriedly from Blair to Jim. "Are you all right, Jim?"
but was prevented from answering by his friend's reply.
"He was on extreme
sensory overload, Captain. And I think there's still enough of that drug in this
room to be affecting him." Blair was trying to usher them all out the doors
that were now open to the pre-dawn air.
"Willis, get Jenkins and a forensics
team out here."
Simon's order sent a stab of pain into Jim's ear as he
and Blair passed the Captain on the way to the door. By the time they were outside,
he had control again.
"I'm okay, Chief." Jim looked for the ambulance
he'd asked for. "It's getting better."
"Yeah, Jim, but it's
not gone yet." Blair turned to Simon as he approached. "Captain, Jim's
senses are still picking up too much. He's even more sensitive than usual, and
he can't control it yet." His voice was still low, and he gestured with one
hand for Simon to keep his own voice quiet.
"I'll be okay, Simon. It's
fading." Jim glanced back at the officers inside. "I didn't see who
it was, but it looks like they were definitely doing the cutting and repackaging
inside." He looked back at the Captain. "I need to get Sandburg to the
hospital, get him checked out."
Simon glanced from Jim to Blair, noticing
the bruise on his face. "I'll drive you both." He motioned toward the
parking lot. "I want you checked out, Jim."
He wanted to protest,
knowing full well his problem with the cocaine was more Sentinel related than
a doctor would understand, but he also knew the wisdom of being checked out after
that kind of exposure.
They walked to Simon's patrol car and Jim climbed into
the passenger seat only after seeing Blair ease himself down in the back seat.
Once inside, he rested his head against the seat and closed his eyes.
"Yeah, Simon. Just trying to concentrate." He'd managed
some control before the start of the engine, but the sound was still magnified.
They pulled out slowly, and Simon remained silent on the way to the hospital.
Jim's eyes were closed, but he could picture Blair motioning to the Captain not
to talk. Just like him, always concerned with Jim's senses.
And this was the
second time he'd lost control of those senses and hurt his friend. The first time,
he'd had no conscious awareness or memory of the attack. This time, he did. He
could still feel his mind wanting to drift and pull from thought into chaos, but
with Blair's techniques he was now able to prevent that. The sound of his partner's
heartbeat was once again a comfort, not a source of blind rage and auditory pain.
And Jim was able to stay on one thought without sudden, violent shifts that took
him from frustrated, to uncontrollably angry, then back again. Now, if he could
just get this pounding headache to stop, he'd be fine.
opened his eyes again to find Blair standing next to the open car door, one hand
on Jim's shoulder.
They were in the hospital emergency entrance parking lot,
and Simon was coming around the hood of the car. Jim nodded, then got out slowly,
trying not to add to his headache with any sudden movement. Blair tried to help
him, but he winced suddenly and Jim waved him off.
"I'm okay, Chief."
He patted Blair on the arm, then nodded at Simon. "I'm fine now, Captain.
Just a residual headache."
"We'll let the doctor decide that, Jim.
For both of you." Simon ushered them into the emergency room.
later the doctor was letting him get dressed. "Well, Detective Ellison, you're
lucky. I've seen some Narcotics officers come close to overdosing after an incident
like you've described."
"Yeah, I was lucky this wasn't straight cocaine."
Jim pulled on his shirt and pain shot through his head.
"You'll need to
rest for a day or two. That headache should keep you down for a bit." The
doctor finished writing something on the chart; Jim squinted a little against
the sound of his pen. "But I don't see any permanent damage. You'll need
to be aware that there could be some side effects within the next 24 to 48 hours."
"Side effects?" Jim finished with his shirt. The pounding of his
head lessened when he wasn't moving around.
"Depression, anxiety, difficulty
concentrating for short periods of time." He clicked the pen closed and placed
it back into his lab-coat pocket. "But these shouldn't last more than a day.
Just take it easy for a bit, Detective, and you'll be fine."
Doc." Jim nodded as the doctor turned to leave.
Passing the doctor in
the doorway was Blair. He was walking a little slowly, and the bruise on his face
was even more impressive. In his right hand was an ice pack, but Jim wasn't sure
if that was for his face, or the bruises he could see on several fingers.
Jim." Blair's voice was still quiet, but Jim realized his hearing was once
again in control. "They said I can take you home now. How do you feel?"
Jim nodded reluctantly and eased himself off the exam table, wincing as the
movement increased the pressure in his skull for a moment. "I'm okay, Chief.
Just a headache like you wouldn't believe."
"I'm not surprised, Jim."
Blair reached out to steady him with a hand on his arm. "Your mind had an
extreme overload of information that was coming in too fast and intense to analyze."
Blair's hand fell away. "I can't imagine what would have happened if this
had taken place in the daylight, or in a noisy crowd. Or anywhere else with more
outside stimuli." He shook his head. "Your mind could have reached a
point of complete shutdown. I don't know what---I didn't know what to do."
Fear and uncertainty were plain in his friend's voice. Jim put a hand on his
shoulder and squeezed gently. "What did the doctor say? You going to be okay,
"Yeah, just bruises. I'm fine. Let's get you home, okay?"
Jim opened his mouth to apologize but was interrupted by the Captain's entrance.
"Jim, I had your truck brought over. Sandburg here can take you home."
Simon pulled his glasses off and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I'm turning
this case over to Narcotics."
"Captain--" Jim was cut off by
Simon's raised hand.
"That cocaine has probably hit the streets already.
Look, you did your best. Let Narcotics take it from here." Simon glanced
at Blair then back to Jim. "Just go home and get some rest." They started
walking down the short hallway to the waiting room. Neither Jim nor Blair were
able to walk very quickly, so Simon was forced to slow his pace. "That much
cocaine hitting the market should draw some attention. We found evidence of a
heavy amount of cutting back at that grounds maintenance shed. Forensics is still
going over everything, but so far they've found only a few partial prints."
"Most likely mine and Blair's, sir." As they rounded a corner and
entered the waiting area, Jim had to squint against the sun now an hour into the
sky, but after a quick adjustment, his vision responded and the light levels were
"Probably. Listen, you two go home, get some rest. This case
belongs to Narcotics now." Simon turned to Blair. "Think you can handle
"Yes, sir, I think so."
Jim would have laughed at their
little exchange, but he knew that action would just add to the pain in his head.
"Let me know if forensics comes up with anything, will you, Captain?"
"Sure thing, Jim."
He nodded, then followed his partner out to
the parking lot, and got into the passenger side of his own truck. Blair started
the engine, then winced as he tried to put the truck in gear using only the heel
of his right hand.
"Here, let me." Jim reached over and put it in
reverse, then took Blair's hand in his and examined the fingers.
okay, Jim. Just bruises, nothing broken." Blair waited until Jim released
his hand, then backed the truck up. He was able to change into drive without difficulty.
"How's the head?" Blair interrupted, turning
to see if it was clear to pull into traffic.
Jim sighed. "It hurts. Feels
ten times worse than a prom night hangover." He could tell Blair was trying
to avoid something, something Jim needed to talk about. But until this headache
died down a bit, he didn't feel up to breaking down his friend's wall.
You just need to go home and rest. All that input has your head refusing to process
anything right now."
Jim rested his head against the back of his seat
and closed his eyes. "Are you saying I'm not capable of thinking right now,
Blair laughed shortly. "Don't worry, Jim. It'll pass. I can't
imagine you being unable to think for too long."
Jim nodded slightly but
didn't open his eyes. They drove the rest of the way home in silence, and the
pain reached a tolerable level. Any movement increased the pressure behind his
eyes and between his temples. Walking up the stairs, he was very much aware of
Blair's hand on his back. Once inside, his partner ushered him toward the steps
to his bedroom, one hand on his back, another on his arm.
"Why don't you
get some sleep? I'll draw the blinds and keep things quiet."
climbing up to Jim's room now, Blair's hand still on his back. Jim nodded and
continued up the stairs. Inside he sighed with some contentment. Blair was finally
learning that touch was a valid form of communication, often translating far more
clearly than words. And right now, he needed that reassurance. Until they could
talk about this, Jim could at least be fairly certain Blair wasn't ready to pack
up and leave, or too scared of him to be this close.
Too many flights of stairs
had set Jim's head to pounding again. Gratefully, he reached the bed and sat down.
"I'll keep the blinds shut, and the noise down. Do you still have those
earplugs, Jim? The white noise generators? They might help to block out all the
input, give your mind a rest." Blair was fussing around the room, looking
for the earplugs and moving the clock away from the nightstand.
out when Blair came close enough and grabbed his arm. "Chief, I'm fine. Everything's
under control now. If I can just get rid of this headache, I'll be fine."
Blair nodded, then glanced around the room again. "Listen, are you sure you're
all right?" The bruise on his face was red and angry looking. Jim could only
imagine what the other bruises looked like.
"Yeah, I'm fine," Blair
assured him. "Come on, get some sleep, Jim. If you need anything, just call
out. I'll be downstairs."
Jim sighed, then gave Blair's arm a gentle squeeze
fore lying down. "Thanks, Chief."
Blair nodded, hesitating for just
a moment, then turned and walked quietly down the stairs.