or Doubt of Faith
I am finally posting my contribution to Angie's "sad
story" challenge. After being out of town and becoming involved in a spectacular
wreck (in a driving rain on I-45 North from Houston), I just feel thankful to
be posting anything at all. Luckily, and due to the fact that we drove our big
Impala, we all walked away without a scratch. All of us except my Impala SS that
is, but bless her heart, she still got us home. Anyway, on with the story:
Lyrics and the title are from "Needs" by Collective Soul. Jim and Blair
and the MC gang are owned by Pet Fly, Paramount, and others. No copyright infringement
Spoilers: A very small one for
Summary: A short story written in response
to the CT St. Patrick's Day Challenge. I want to thank K for her wonderful beta
work. Her help and ideas are much appreciated. Any errors remaining are mine.
A final note: Yes, the legend of Eithne is real.
I dont need
I dont need the weight of words to crash on thru
I just need to learn the depth
Or doubt of faith to fall into
The first minute was consumed with popping the emergency brake and the feel
of the car gathering speed as it rolled down the long ramp towards the lake. She
was groggy from the pills and could barely restrain her active two year old as
the little girl bounced in her lap. The second minute followed the car in its
final descent into the murky depths. A plume of emerald water rose into the air
as the nose of the sedan plunged into the lake. The little red-haired toddler
giggled as she watched the water cascade over the wind shield. From the shore,
a teenager on a mountain bike frantically dialed 911 as he realized what he had
witnessed. The third minute passed quickly as the young woman began to succumb
to the sedatives she had taken to keep her raging emotions in check. She smiled
sadly at her baby girl who was busy watching the water bob around the windshield.
As the tail end of the car began to sink, there was a bump and the toddler clapped
her hands in delight.
As minute four elapsed, the water had begun seeping
into the various openings of the automobile. Only one of the occupants of the
elderly car was still aware enough to take notice of the lapping water as it began
covering the floor boards and crept toward the seats. There was a sudden jolt
as the car began to sink more quickly. For the first time the little girl called
for her mother.
The passing of minute five brought about crucial events.
The young woman in the front seat sat slumped and immobile, having lost consciousness
due to the drugs raging through her system. Her baby had abandoned the front seat
to huddle in the seat behind her mother as the water began rising rapidly. Her
piercing cry rang through the shuddering car as the water began to fill the back
Two Cascade Police Department cars and one old Ford pickup arrived
at the boat ramp simultaneously to herald minute six. Gravel flew in all directions
as the vehicles roared to a stop. The occupants of those vehicles flung open doors
and scrambled to the edge of the lake, yelling obscenities, directions and questions
as the semblance of a plan was formed. The car continued its persistent descent
into the lake's dirty water.
Seven minutes after the young mother had popped
the brake on the car to begin its downward journey, Jim Ellison cocked his head
to listen as he frantically watched the car sink even lower into the cold depths
of the lake. Beside him, Blair Sandburg recognized the sentinel's posture and
quietly reminded him to block out the wail of sirens and the yells of the policemen
around them. Suddenly Ellison shook his head, grabbed a flashlight from the seat
of the truck and hissed, "There's a child in the car!"
eight minutes had passed by the time the detective had managed to swim out to
the sinking car. By peering into the quickly disappearing back glass, he could
make out the form of the frightened baby girl screaming as the water began to
reach her neck and lap into her face. Grabbing onto the car for leverage, the
detective began pounding the back window across from her with the long flashlight.
The car had sunk enough now that Jim had to tread water with one hand and cling
to the car with the other. As desperation gave strength to his blows, the glass
in the old car finally began to give. Switching his grip to the back panel of
the vehicle, Jim used his feet and with a mighty kick finally dislodged the window.
Water surged into the car and Jim knew he only had a few seconds to complete the
rescue of the helpless child.
Minute nine found Jim Ellison desperately
grabbing for the young child as the car became completely submerged in the cold
lake. He managed to latch onto her tiny arm, just as the air pocket she had instictively
scrambled towards disappeared. Pulling the baby forward with all his might, he
pushed off of the back seat and made his way to the surface of the lake, realizing
the child wouldn't have known to take a breath before he dragged her through the
car. He sent silent prayers heavenward as he began the ascent.
As Jim Ellison
broke the surface, he swung the baby up and out of the water as far as he could
reach. It wasn't until he had gasped his lungs full of air that he realized an
underwater rescue team had joined him and quickly took the baby from his fatiguing
arms. When he turned to swim back to the shore, Jim found his partner treading
water nearby. He heard Simon Banks shouting oaths at Sandburg from the shore.
Blair swam up to the detective and shouted "Are you okay? What about the
driver?" Jim merely shook his head and began swimming toward the bank. Blair
shouted anxiously, "Jim!" but was greeted with only a sad eyed glance
and a wave telling him to come on back to land. As the winded detective stumbled
into the waiting arms of his friends, his dripping partner stood in the shallows
watching the final bubbles reach the surface as the car settled into the gloomy
depths of the lake. It had only taken ten minutes for lives to be changed forever.
detective was not to be denied the ambulance ride to the hospital. He kept constant
vigilance on the babys condition despite the heart monitor and other instruments
that the paramedics attached. His own monitoring was quickly greeted with a rapidly
strengthening pulse and finally a hearty cry as the young child vented the fear
that welled up within her. He drew back the focus of his hearing and watched with
growing thankfulness as it became apparent the little girl would survive. When
the ambulance pulled to a stop outside the emergency room, Jim was by her side
as she was wheeled inside. Simon Banks had effectively stopped media interference
beforehand so as to not traumatize the child further and Jim was once again grateful
for his superiors foresight. The doctors allowed the detective to remain
near the child and she constantly reached for him throughout their examinations.
It seemed a bond had been formed.
Many hours passed in the emergency room
as the childs condition was followed carefully. Jim never moved from her
side for longer than a minute or two and spoke in a soft tone, constantly reassuring
the frightened child. Next of kin were notified and details slowly filtered to
Jim as he kept his vigil. The father was abusive and had caused the young mother
much grief throughout their marriage. Apparently, most of the abuse was emotional
and involved several affairs as well as threats toward his wife. At her wits end,
the woman, who he learned was named Patricia, had finally turned to chemical relief
and found some comfort in sedatives and anti-depressants. As her drug dependence
heightened so had the torturous treatment.
Eventually the father had left
the small family and filed for divorce. With this humiliation came the final blow,
he had asked for custody of young Carly and seemed likely to get it because of
Patricias burgeoning drug problem. This seemed to be the event which precipitated
the horrible scene at the lake.
Friends were already gathering to tell authorities
the terrible state Patricia had been in during her last hours. A note was found
outlining the young womans troubles, how both of her parents had perished
in a car wreck many years ago, so she no longer felt she had anyone to turn to
for assistance. She wrote about the anguish she was in and her fears for Carly.
She wrote about the life she had once had, full of love and belonging and mourned
that it was all gone now. She mentioned the happiest days of her life and how
she would never trade them: days of hope and faith and happiness at Rainier. Upon
hearing this news, Jims heart skipped a beat. If he had so easily heard
Patricias sad saga, surely his partner had also and Sandburg was alone.
A vision of the young man standing in the shallows of the lake watching the final
bubbles of air rise from the sinking car to the water's surface entered his memory.
He would have to talk to his young friend soon. Sandburg had been an extremely
popular TA on campus and very likely had known Patricia or at the very least could
easily find out the details of her story. His empathetic guide was bound to be
More hours passed. The father had not made an appearance. Apparently
his battle for Carly had been a fight for control over her mother and had very
little to do with the child. It was possible the little red-haired child would
be placed in foster care until a judgment could be ruled. Jim was told there was
hope that a sympathetic aunt would be granted custody of Carly temporarily and
perhaps permanently if the father never came to get the child.
finally arrived and once recovered from the initial shock of the loss of her niece
and the actions which had almost taken the toddler as well, she met with the detective
who had so valiantly rescued Carly.
"I have to thank you for being
so brave and saving Carly, Mr....?"
Jims gaze met the older womans
red-rimmed eyes as he softly replied," Its Jim, maam. I did what
I had to do...what any police officer would have done."
at him as a tear escaped from her saddened eyes,"I've been told you and your
department dont want any media coverage and for that I am so very grateful.
My niece and her daughter had been through so much and now maybe Carly has a chance
for a normal life. I just wish I could have known what was going on before........"
The woman broke down at this point and Jim rushed to offer comfort.
okay, its okay. You couldnt know what you werent told. We all
have regrets, but we cant change events which have already happened. Now
you have someone that needs you.... and probably a bit of a fight on your hands.
Dont let guilt rob you of what has been spared. I imagine I know about working
through that better than anyone you could hope to meet. Believe me, its
okay to grieve for what you might have done for a while, but learn to let the
guilt go, and start cherishing what youve saved. It will be well worth the
effort or at least thats been my experience."
The aunt studied
the detectives face and was surprised to see a tremendous amount of compassion
and understanding there, along with something else she could not quite name Sorrow,
maybe? Guilt? She reached out and patted his arm.
"I really expected
you to hate Patricia for what shes done. Im so glad you understand.
Youre an angel. My name is Christine Meyers. Please tell me youll
stay in touch, the doctors say youve already developed quite a bond with
our little girl."
Jim couldnt help but smile. "Believe me,
Ill be around. Right now, however, Ive got to check on my partner.
He was with me and may have known Patricia when she was a student at Rainier a
few years ago. Hell want to know Carly is okay and in very capable hands."
woman smiled tearfully, and suddenly reached over and grabbed the detective in
a huge hug whispering, "Thank you so much. Bring your partner with you when
you visit, hes welcome too." She quickly broke away and reentered the
babys room without a backwards glance as her emotions overcame her.
released a large sigh and realized just how exhausted he was. He followed the
long hallway to the waiting area to find Blair and get a ride home. His energy
and emotions felt totally tapped and all he wanted was to touch base with his
friend and guide and go home to rest. As he entered the waiting room, he glanced
around to find Sandburg, but only saw Simon and Henri. Somehow this did not bode
well for his plans.
"The baby still doing okay, Jim?" H
"Ummm....yeah. Shes really a fighter. Her great
aunt is here and says I can visit anytime. I just need to gather Sandburg and
get out of here....Im wiped out."
Simon fidgeted uncomfortably
and coughed slightly before replying, "Well, Jim, will a ride in a Cascade
PD car do? Sandburg disappeared with your truck right after you left. We saw him
talking to a few of the guys wholl be investigating the case. He apparently
had some information on the woman. I looked back over for him after a bit and
he was gone. We thought we would find him here, of course, but when we got here........We
tried calling the loft and even drove by. Ah hell, you know how Blair is. Hes
probably back at the loft by now and just not answering the phone." Simon
knew how unlikely that sounded, but it was the best he could offer and Jim was
apparently too exhausted to argue.
"I imagine he found out she was
a former student at Rainier and is doing some research on his own. Probably best
for me to just go home and wait, otherwise I might miss him. Im sure hes
taking this hard and hell be glad to hear the babys okay." Simon
quietly nodded and the three men turned to leave.
quietly applauded his own precautions concerning keeping a back-up key in his
wallet as he let himself into the loft. As he had suspected, his guide had come
home in the last hour or so, dropped off the truck and left again in his Volvo.
Jim shook his head and went to the kitchen to get something to eat. It was a little
past midnight and Jim hadnt eaten since breakfast. The whole time spent
preparing and eating his sandwich was occupied in the inevitable replaying of
the days harsh events. Part of him was a little angry at Sandburg, that
part which had come to depend on the anthropologist to review and discuss difficult
cases as they occurred. It wasnt long before Jim made his way to the
couch and fell asleep from exhaustion, but his hyper senses remained on alert
for the entrance of his friend.
Several hours later, Jim started awake.
At first he was disoriented, wondering why he had awakened and why he was on the
couch....again. Memories of the previous days events flooded him and a slight
touch of fear began to tug at the recesses of his mind. Dawn was beginning to
make its way across the Cascade skyline and his guide still had not come home.
It was then Jim realized it was the absence of sound which had stirred him rather
than some suspicious noise. For the thousandth time, he wondered about the
connection which bound him to Sandburg. He could not help but believe himself
pitiful, relying on anothers presence or well-being to keep him centered
and had a vague recollection of events which had once before prevented that calming
influence. With a shudder, he rose quickly, showered and dressed for the day.
If Blair wouldnt come home, then he would go to him.
Jim drove to
the lake with a calm assuredness which seemed remarkable even to himself. Sure
enough, as he parked the truck and scanned the area, he found the figure he sought.
Blair was seated on the ground just outside the yellow crime tape which flapped
slightly in the breeze. Jim quietly made his way toward Sandburg. As he approached,
Jim noticed Blair was holding a small bouquet of wildflowers, obviously handpicked
and tied with a pink ribbon. Beside him on the damp spring grass was a stuffed
animal, temporarily forgotten as the young man gazed off into the distance. Jim
made a small noise, not wanting to startle the preoccupied man. Without looking
up, Blair simply said, "Im sorry, Jim."
Jim knelt by his
friend and reached out to gently rub his back. He felt a shiver pass through his
guides body and Jims voice was softly admonishing as he asked, "How
long you been out here, Chief?"
"Not that long, man. I spent most
of the night at the university and wandering around. I just had to process everything.
I'm sorry I didn't call."
Jim couldnt keep from smiling as he
answered,"Hey, this isnt about me. Its about you and whats
going on in that head of yours. I know Patricia was a student at Rainier and I
knew you would take the situation hard, but I kinda thought you would trust me
enough to come home and talk."
For the first time, Blair turned to
his sentinel. Jims heart clenched as he saw the young mans face. The
anthropologists expression seemed totally lost and his reddened eyes were
as full of sorrow as Jim had ever seen them. "God, dont say that. Thats
the one thing I couldnt bear right now. You thinking I dont care about
our friendship. You are all about trust to me, Jim. Trust and faith."
continued rubbing his friends back as he sat down on the grass beside him.
Obviously this wasnt about "them." He could deal with this.
can you talk to me about it, buddy? I might be able to help out a bit. You know
the baby is going to be okay? You found that out, right?" Blairs gaze
returned to the lake as he nodded.
"You know what day this is, Jim?"
Oh, uh....I guess you mean the date. Its the seventeenth right?"
St. Patricks Day. Kinda ironic, huh?"
Jim gazed at his friend
with a confused expression which made Blair smile in spite of himself. "Do
you know any of the legends of St. Patrick? Any of the myths connected to this
Jim looked away and shook his head. "Well, at the risk of
sounding glib, you arent wondering if Im gonna pinch you or anything
like that, I dont guess?" Suddenly he found his arms full of guide
who was laughing and sobbing at the same time. Jim pulled him in to return the
embrace and spoke to him in soothing tones. "Hey, hey. Its okay, its
going to be okay. Youre just tired and emotionally wrung out. Its
gonna be all right."
Blair pulled back to look into the sentinels
blue eyes. "You know you're the greatest...I really love you, man."
shook his head again before replying, "The feeling is mutual, Sandburg. Now
do you mind letting me in on what IS going on in your brain? Im getting
more confused by the second and you know how I HATE confusion." Blair sat
back and sighed as he began his explanation. Jim settled next to him and resumed
gently rubbing his weary friends back, expecting that the coming story might
take awhile, yet not minding it a bit.
"Ill rephrase my question.
Have you ever heard of the legend of Eithne? No? Thats okay, most people
havent. She was a goddess in the Druid belief. In the legend, Eithne became
lost and couldn't find her way back to the other immortals. St. Patrick found
her and fed her, but because of this indiscretion of eating with a mortal, she
lost her own immortality. St. Patrick took her in and tried to help her, even
changed her name to.....," Blair looked expectantly at Jim.
at his guide in wonder as he quietly filled in, "Patricia."
But it didnt work. Patricia missed her old life as an immortal so much she
eventually drowned herself." Blairs next comment was sentinel soft.
"You know, I dont do so good with stories about drownings....or real
life events either. Not anymore." The last words ended on a choked sob, and
Jims hand moved up from his guides back to his neck, which he lightly
gripped as he offered his support.
"Is that it, Blair? Is that
why this has shaken you so very badly? Is it the fact Patricia drowned?"
quietly shook his head. "Maybe a little, maybe even more than I realize,
but thats not what Ive been thinking about. I cant really put
it into words. Ive been thinking about Naomi, Jim. About how Ive taken
for granted what she did. How hard she had to work to raise me all by herself.
I mean, I always knew what she did took a lot of courage, but I dont think
I realized just how much "faith" it took. I never really gave her the
credit she deserves."
Jim was silent, his only movement was his hand
which continued its gentle massage on Blair's tense neck muscles. The younger
man finally stole a glance at the detective and was suddenly moved by what he
saw. Jim was sitting with his eyes closed, his normally stoic face full of raw
emotion. Quietly and without opening his eyes the sentinel answered, "I think
you put it into pretty good words, Blair. I understand more than you can possibly
know." At Sandburgs slight gasp, Jims eyes opened. "No,
no...its okay. I dont talk about my dad much and Im just as
guilty for taking what he did for granted. Maybe even more so because he didnt
always do a very good job of it. But Lord knows he tried. He didnt give
in to the depths of despair, go off and abandon us, or heaven help us, take his
own life." Jim pulled at Blairs neck to hug him once again but was
shrugged off. He looked up in confusion as Blair bounced to his feet.
was sick, Jim. Caught in the stranglehold of depression and drug use. I know that,
but Im still mad at her for leaving her little girl. I dont want to
be mad at her, but I am, you know. Most of all, I feel so badly for her. I never
knew my dad, but I do realize I am so lucky to have good friends and a great mom.
As bad as things have been at different times of my life, Ive always had
something my mom gave me all those years ago. It was her gift of faith. I think
its what kept me going when my life didnt always work out like I planned.
If she had done something like Patricia, what would I have then?" Blairs
eyes seemed almost frantic as he tried to work out this puzzle for himself....
and for Carly.
Jim rose to stand beside his guide. "You would have
me, Blair. Just like I have you. We can never know how things will work out, who
well find in a dingy artifacts room at a university or in a hospital when
we are on the brink of giving up. Carly has us and she has her aunt. That will
work until the next adventure in her life takes her further into the journey.
Hopefully shell come to know how much we all care and it will all make sense
to her one day." Blair glanced at the sentinel with tired eyes which had
finally regained some of their spark. Silently, he turned and walked beside the
crime tape until he reached the waters edge. He knelt and placed the colorful
flowers on the shore and then looked up.
"Shes at peace,
Jim. Its just something I feel."
Jim quietly watched as his brother
of the soul walked back to the spot where they had been sitting and retrieved
the stuffed animal which lay amid the now dry grass. The morning sunlight felt
warm and healing on his back as Jim reached over and gathered in his guide as
they walked together toward the vehicles. Suddenly, Blair stopped and handed him
the stuffed animal. Jim looked down at the toy wolf and grinned as he said quietly,
"I happen to think this kids gonna prefer big black cats, Chief."
Both men chuckled as they resumed walking. "Meet you at the hospital, Sandburg.
Weve got a beautiful redhead waiting for us."
Here I slumber to awaken my daze
find convenience in this savior
Am I a prison, am I a source of dire news
Am I a picture perfect
reason for you
I don't need nobody
I don't need the weight of words
To crash on thru
I don't need nobody
I just need to learn the depth or
Of faith to fall into