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Earlier | Later

I Can't Lose You Again

TITLE: I Can't Lose You Again
AUTHOR: Debbie Tripp
RATING: FRT-13 (Violence)
SUMMARY: A day in the life of Jim and Blair, a la '24'. This story goes hour by hour as it deals with angst, injury, worry and eventual recovery.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I don't own The Sentinel or any of the characters. That honor goes to PetFly and Paramount. This was written for entertainment purposes only. Originally posted to SentinelAngst.

*********************


I CAN'T LOSE YOU AGAIN

When the day had started, it didn't foreshadow any of what was about to happen.

Jim Ellison woke up at 5:15 Am, a full 15 minutes before his alarm was set to go off. He took advantage of the early start to his day by going downstairs and getting into the bathroom before his roommate, Blair Sandburg. Once Blair got into the bathroom, he was in there for over an hour at a time. He took forever taking his shower, shaving and whatever else he did in the bathroom. Jim really didn't want to know what it was Sandburg did in the bathroom, just as long as he cleaned up after himself (which he rarely did without verbal prompting by Jim).

Jim got in the shower and was finished 10 minutes later. When he came out of the bathroom with his robe and slippers on, it was 5:28 AM. He made a detour towards the kitchen and started coffee brewing in the pot. He looked at the schedule on the refrigerator Blair had put there at the beginning of the semester, almost two weeks ago now. Today was Wednesday. Blair had three classes he was scheduled to teach this morning - starting at 8:00 AM. Then he was scheduled to have office hours from 2:00 to 5:00 in the afternoon. A full day at the university. It happened on Mondays and Wednesdays this semester. Now that Blair had his doctorate, he was in demand as a professor. This made less time he was available as a consultant to the police department - Major Crime in particular.

Jim decided to let Blair sleep a little longer. It seemed like the younger man never got enough sleep. Ever. Jim went back upstairs to his bedroom to get dressed. He mentally went through what he had to do today. There wasn't anything pressing or strenuous on the ticket. He'd be able to catch up on his reports. Not his favorite activity, but it was something that needed to be done.

It was 5:45 AM when Jim was dressed. He came back downstairs and walked over to the balcony windows. He raised one of the shades and let in the first rays of the sunrise. It was going to be a clear, rain-free day. The first one in about a week.

Jim heard Blair's alarm go off at 6:00 AM. The alarm sounded for a few minutes and then Jim heard the unmistakable slap of a hand against the clock. The sound of the alarm stopped. Jim turned from the window and walked towards the kitchen. He decided to make himself breakfast. He had just poured himself a cup of coffee when the doors to Blair's bedroom opened and a not-quite-awake Blair Sandburg stumbled from the room.

"Morning, Chief." Jim sounded chipper to himself. He could just imagine Blair's reaction.

But there was no reaction from Blair. He continued on towards the bathroom and shut the door as soon as he was inside. Jim chuckled slightly and then turned back towards fixing breakfast. He had decided on scrambled eggs, bacon and toast. He knew the reaction he'd get from Blair, but he really didn't care. Blair had been on his case for over four years trying to get him to change his eating habits. But, Jim hadn't really. Oh, he ate healthier than he had been, but he was still eating Wonder Burger, bacon, thick beefsteaks, and everything else Blair professed to be bad for him.

Blair came out of the bathroom about ten minutes later, more awake\ than he had been. He weaved his way over to the kitchen and was able to get a cup out of the cabinet and pour himself a cup of coffee without spilling it all over himself. Jim decided to try again.

"Good morning, Chief."

To say Blair Sandburg was not a morning person was an understatement. He only grunted at Jim, who laughed in response.

"I'm making eggs and bacon, you want some?"

"No."

"Ah, there are signs of intelligence!"

"Bite me, Ellison."

Blair took his coffee cup and went to sit down at the kitchen table. Jim continued on with his breakfast preparations. After several minutes spent draining his coffee cup, Blair got to his feet and went back into the bathroom to take his shower.

Jim looked at the time - it was now 6:25 AM. Jim made a bet with himself that Blair wouldn't be out of the bathroom until 7:00 AM. He went back to his breakfast preparations.

Jim was eating his breakfast by 6:30 AM. He sat down at the table, moved Blair's coffee cup and started eating. He listened in to Blair in the bathroom. He knew it was an invasion of privacy, but Blair would never know. These sounds were the ones that kept Jim grounded and started out his day peaceful and calm. It was typical for Jim to automatically track Blair.

Blair had a way to calm Jim like no one else ever had. Even after Jim's abilities were known in Major Crime and Blair proposed that everyone take a shot at trying to help Jim use his heightened senses, it was only Blair who was even remotely successful. After the demonstration, Jim announced to Blair he was the only one who could keep him focused and in control. Blair took pride in that fact, but worried Jim would get hurt without him available all the time. Jim promised he'd be careful and not push without Blair there to back him up.

So, if Jim listened in when Blair wasn't aware, it did no one any harm.

As he was eating his breakfast, he was thinking both he and Blair were overdue for a vacation. The last vacation had been spent cleaning the loft from top to bottom about two months ago. And while it was an enjoyable activity for Jim, Blair had groused and complained all through the ordeal. Mainly because Jim would criticize the fact Blair was missing dirt pockets all over the loft. But in the end, Blair had gotten the idea and the kitchen; bathroom and Blair's bedroom were all spotless. Passing the Sentinel scan Jim gave it.

Jim decided to ask Blair what he wanted to do on vacation. Jim was nothing if not flexible. He had learned that over his years with Blair. It had taken a lot of hard-learned lessons, but Jim had finally grasped the idea of going with the flow. At least, to a certain extent. It's what Blair did 99% of the time. At it wasn't so bad, as long as you had a backup plan.

Finally, the water turned off in the bathroom. The time was 6:55 AM. Blair was later than normal today. Probably because he realized Jim had already taken his shower. Jim had moved back into the kitchen to clean up his breakfast dishes. They were washed and dried within ten minutes. And Blair was still in the bathroom. By listening, Jim could hear the hair dryer going. This in itself was odd. Blair usually just air-dried his hair, not bothering with the hair dryer.

It was 7:15 AM by the time Blair came out of the bathroom. 50 minutes. But Blair was already dressed and his hair was pulled back into a neat ponytail. He stopped into his bedroom for a minute and then came out to the kitchen.

"I've got to meet with a couple of anthro professors this morning before my first class."

"What about breakfast?"

"Hey, I had a cup of coffee."

"That's not breakfast, Chief. What about one of your algae shakes?"

"Not enough time. I'll take a banana with me and eat it in the car."

"You know if you didn't take so long in the bathroom…"

"Yeah, yeah, Jim. I have enough time for another cup of coffee."

Blair got his coffee, drank it down in three swallows, then ran back into his bedroom, grabbing his backpack and coming back out. He grabbed a banana, stuffing it in his backpack, and then he walked over to the front door, put on his coat, grabbed his keys and turned to face Jim.

"Have a good day, Jim. And be careful."

"I'm always careful, Chief. You know that. Mold those impressionable minds."

"I should be home, barring any interruptions, around 5:15 PM. You want me to pick up something for dinner?"

"Sure. I should be leaving the station about the same time. How about Chinese?"

"Sounds good to me. I'll stop by Chang's. It's on my way home. Of course, it'll make me later."

"I understand. Make sure you get some sweet and sour pork."

"And extra egg rolls."

"And extra egg rolls."

"I've got to go. See ya later, Jim."

"Bye, Blair."

And with that, Blair left the loft at 7:30 AM. Jim tracked Blair down the stairs, outside the building, to his car and inside. Blair started his car and drove off. Jim was able to track Blair for almost eight blocks before it faded out. Jim decided he would go on to the station. He grabbed Blair's coffee cup and washed and dried it, putting it back in the cabinet.

Jim opened the drawer near the phone and pulled out his gun and badge. He slipped on the gun at the small of his back. He went over to the door, put on his coat and placed the badge in the pocket of the coat. He grabbed his keys out of the basket and double-checked the loft to make sure everything had been turned off. When he was satisfied, he walked back over to the door and left the loft, locking the door behind him. He took the stairs to the lobby and walked outside the building.

It was going to be a beautiful day. Already, the sun was shining in the sky and there wasn't a cloud visible at all. Jim walked over to his truck parked in the lot beside the building and unlocked the door. He got inside and started up the truck. He drove towards the police station. It was only 7:38 AM.

Jim arrived at the station by 7:48 AM. He got out of his truck, locked it and took the elevator up to Major Crime. As he walked into the bullpen, he saw that Megan Connor and Henri Brown were already there. So much for being the first person in that morning.

"Good morning, Jim. How's it going?"

"Just fine, Connor. How are you?"

"Wonderful. How's Sandy?"

"Swamped with his classes."

"Oh. I was hoping maybe we could get together for dinner some night."

"You'll have to make your plans with him, Connor. I'm not his personal secretary."

"Okay, Jim. Sorry."

"Look, I'm sorry. I promised Blair I'd try to be more civil around other people."

"I won't tell him you fell off the wagon."

"Thanks."

Jim sat down at his desk and looked over the reports still there. He still had to write up the reports on the drug bust he, Brown and Rafe had collared the other day. He smiled when he thought about it.

When he had told Blair about the drug bust, Blair almost had a heart attack. Especially at the part when Jim told Blair he had been the one to take the point. Alone.

"You're not supposed to do that, Jim. What if you had zoned on something?"

"Zoned on what, Chief?"

"Well, hell if I know, Jim!! But it could have happened!! And then you would have been gunned down in a hail of bullets!!"

Jim had apologized later, promising not to do it again. But if he didn't tell Blair, and no one else did, Blair never would know. And Jim knew he had the backup of the rest of the team. And Blair worried too much anyway. Sure, Jim realized he wasn't invincible, but he was a damn good cop. And so were the others. They would have his back if need be.

Truth was Jim was glad Blair was no longer in the line of fire. Not that he ever mentioned that to Blair. Too many times over their years together, Blair had been hurt because he was backing up Jim. It was just the nature of the job. At times Blair had been targeted but other times, it was just being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Jim was shook out of his thoughts by the arrival of Captain Simon Banks. Jim looked at the clock. It was 8:15 AM. He had been daydreaming for almost 25 minutes. He got started on his backlog of reports.

Blair looked at his watch. It was 7:58 AM and there were still two floors away from the lecture hall where his first class was. He picked up his pace and practically ran down the flights of stairs. He walked into the lecture hall just as the hour hand reached 8:00 AM. He put his backpack down on the floor by the podium and pulled out his textbook and notes and was instantly in 'professor' mode.

Today's lecture was on how ancient civilizations treated their elderly. Blair had given this particular lecture ever since he had become a TA at the university. He noticed the students were paying attention for a change. This particular lecture seemed to hit home for most students. They would think about the time when they would have to take care of their parents, or maybe even grandparents. Whenever Blair gave the lecture, he thought how special it would be to know grandparents and other family other than just a mother. Not that his life hadn't been full, but it would have been nice to know his roots. That was the basis of the lecture. To get the students thinking about their roots and where they came from and their heritage. And Blair didn't have any of it.

Blair dismissed the class early - at around 9:20 AM. He really needed to run back to his office and get another cup of coffee. Luckily, it was just down the hall from the lecture hall where he was teaching his second class. As he dismissed his first class, he gave them the assignment of digging into their own family tree, finding an interesting relative and write a paper about him or her. Blair made the assignment due next week.

There were only a few of the students who cornered Blair after class was over. He had them walk with him as he went to his office. He was able to answer all their questions by the time he reached his office. He unlocked the door to his office and walked inside. It was 9:25 AM.

Jim needed a break. He had been going non-stop on his reports since Simon had arrived. He looked at the clock on the wall. It read 9:25 AM. Surely it was later than that. Jim looked at his watch - nope; it still said 9:25 AM. Jim still got to his feet stretched his arms above his head and popped his back. He rolled his head and looked around the bullpen. Everyone else was deep into whatever they were doing. Jim sauntered to the break room, happy to see there was a full pot of freshly brewed coffee there. He got a mug out of the cabinet and poured himself a cup. He turned to face the snack machine there. He knew he didn't need anything, but what Sandburg didn't know wouldn't hurt him. He got a chocolate candy bar and went back to his desk. He sat down, savoring both the chocolate bar and the coffee. He figured he could stretch out his break for a good ten to fifteen minutes. He closed his eyes and let the taste, smell and texture of the chocolate bar invade his mouth. It was pure bliss.

That had been one of the first `lessons' Blair had taught Jim. To savor the taste of food. It helped to identify different components and flavors. Every once in a while, Jim liked to continue the basic test. Just for his enjoyment.

The bellowing of Simon Banks brought Jim out of his contemplation.

"Ellison!! You and Connor get over to National Industries. They've had a break-in."

"And they just discovered it?"

"It was in one of the seldom used buildings. Just get over there."

Jim got to his feet put on his coat and waited for Connor.

"I'm driving." Jim said it matter of factly.

"No problem. So? What is National Industries?"

"They run a big-wig bakery in the area. They ship all over the northwest."

"Oh. So what was taken?"

"I don't know, Connor. That's why we're investigating."

Jim looked at his watch as they left Major Crime. It was 9:40 AM. He wondered what had been stolen from a bakery. The possibilities were endless.

They arrived at National Industries at 9:55 AM. Jim asked to speak to whoever had called in to the police. He and Connor were directed to the president's office.

"I'm Sheldon Burns, president of National Industries. I was the one who called the police. The plans are missing."

"What plans would that be, Mr. Burns?"

"The secret plans for our new facility and the new products we were set to launch."

"Where were these plans kept?"

"In a locked safe in the basement of the old foundry building. Behind this building."

"You discovered the plans were missing?"

"Yes. I was scheduled to show the plans to a few of our investors. When I unlocked the safe, it was empty. No plans at all. Nothing."

"We'll need to see the scene, Mr. Burns. And I'm going to call in a Forensic unit to dust for prints and any other clues left behind. Who has access to the building?"

"Anyone on the grounds, detective."

"Can you give us a list of current employees and anyone you've released recently that might hold a grudge?"

"Sure. I'll have my secretary work on the list. It'll be ready when you leave."

As Sheldon Burns led Jim and Megan towards the foundry building, Megan leaned over to whisper to Jim.

"Do you need my help to check out the place?"

"Yeah. That would help. I'm going to call the Forensic unit. Hopefully, we won't be here all morning."

Blair was teaching his second class of the morning. Introduction to Anthropology. It was the one course he could do with his eyes closed. He knew it backwards and forwards. He had revised his own schedule of teaching it several years ago when he was named a full- time professor.

Everyone who took Anthro 101 wanted to take it from Professor Sandburg. Even though he had his doctorate, he didn't make his students call him Dr. Sandburg. It was too formal for him. If he had never gotten his doctorate, he would have been perfectly content. It was others who wanted him to pursue his doctorate - most notably Jim and his mother, Naomi. They had seen what he had given up and felt he deserved his doctorate. With a lot of persuasion from several of the sitting anthropology professors, Blair was given a second chance. And he never looked back, got his doctorate and a full-time position at the university.

Blair gave a pop quiz in his class around 10:20 AM. Most of the students griped and grumbled about the quiz. But Blair made the questions easy to answer and announced afterwards he was giving everyone an A on the quiz. That seemed to put him back into the good graces of his students. Plus, he released them early from the class. He told them they all should be outside on such a beautiful day. Even if he couldn't. He still had another class to teach at 11:00 AM. But he still had almost 40 minutes before the class started. He'd spend some time outside. And eat the banana he had forgotten he grabbed before leaving the loft that morning.

Blair walked out of Hargrove Hall into the bright sunshine. He shielded his eyes and walked towards the benches that were nearby. He passed the fountain as he walked. He paused momentarily and looked at the water dancing and shimmering in the sun. It had been like that the day Alex had… drowned him. It was still hard to think too much about that. But - dying had changed the way he lived. It had sobered him up. Before - dying, he had thought he would live forever. Well, maybe not forever, but live a long life. After - dying, he knew that life was far too precious to waste. And he vowed to live life to the fullest. And he had. Both he and Jim had.

Blair sat on the bench and pulled the banana out of his backpack. It had turned out to be a wonderful day. Blair cleared his mind as he sat on the bench. The only thing on his mind was figuring a way to get out of his 11:00 AM class.

Unfortunately, it was close to 11:00 AM before Jim and Megan were able to leave National Industries. They hadn't been able to find anything to be much help as to who was involved in the robbery. And it would take Forensics several days to get back the results of what they had taken. There had been no obvious fingerprints or evidence left behind at the scene. As they were walking back towards Jim's truck, Megan spoke.

"Jim? I've got a question to ask you."

"What do you want to know, Connor?"

"Do you think Sandy likes me?"

Jim stopped walking and turned to look at Megan. She seemed serious in asking the question.

"Likes you how, Connor?"

"Um… romantically?" It was said softly, but Jim heard it loud and clear.

Jim smiled and debated about whether to jerk Megan around. But he wouldn't do that, either to her or to Blair.

"I really can't say, Con… Megan. You'd have to ask him yourself. He's never discussed it with me. Are you in love with him, Megan?"

"I'm not sure. I've always had a protective streak for him, like an older sister?"

"Yeah. He brings that out in people. I sometimes think I'm his older brother. Same way with Brian and Henri. Even Joel and Simon are protective towards him. Simon practically sees Blair as another son. But don't tell him I said that."

"Your secret is safe with me, Jim. Sandy and I went out a couple of times. I wouldn't call them 'dates' per se, but he was always the perfect gentleman. And now that he's a full-time professor and has his life straightened out, I thought I'd see where we stood."

"Well, as they say, 'nothing ventured nothing gained'. The worst he can do is turn you down. And he'd never hurt you, Megan."

"I guess you're right, Jim. Thanks."

"Anytime. I hope things work out."

They got into the truck and Jim drove them back to the station to make their initial report about National Industries.

It was 10:45 Am when the first shots rang out on the campus of Rainier University. Students and teachers alike were scurrying to find shelter. Blair looked up, interrupted from his contemplation. He stood up to find his own shelter inside of Hargrove Hall. He got out his cell phone and made a 911 call.

The switchboard at the police department was flooded with frantic calls about a sniper taking pot shots at students, teachers, anyone and anything moving on the campus grounds. A full emergency was mobilized, with police, firemen and ambulances all put on high alert status. The chief of police called every department to send all available personnel.

Simon Banks looked out into the bullpen, noticing Jim Ellison wasn't there. He opened his door and yelled out to Rafe and Brown to go to Rainier immediately, that there were reports of a sniper on the loose.

Simon then grabbed his phone and called Jim's cell phone. He had to let Jim know. The phone was answered after the first ring.

"Ellison."

"Jim? Where are you?"

"About three blocks from the station, sir. Connor and I just finished at National Industries."

"Jim? I need both of you at Rainier University. There has been a flood of calls about a sniper loose on the campus. I figured…"

"Yeah. We'll go right now. Do you know where the command center is set up?"

"Nope. It shouldn't be too hard to find. Try to get hold of Sandburg on the way, okay?"

"Yeah I will, Simon. Hopefully, he's inside where he belongs."

Jim pushed the disconnect button and automatically dialed Blair's office number. It kicked over to his voice mail. Jim disconnected the call and called Blair's cell phone. It was answered after the third ring.

"hel - lo?"

"Blair? It's Jim. Are you okay?"

"jus'… wan'ted…s'm… sun…"

"Blair? Hang on. There should be rescue personnel there soon. And I'm on my way. Okay?"

"yea'?"

Jim didn't disconnect the call. If he listened carefully, he could hear the harsh breathing and the labored intakes of air. He knew it was serious. He kept the connection to listen to Blair. Soon, they arrived at Rainier. Both Jim and Megan got out of the truck and went over to the command center. Jim explained that one of the victims was Blair Sandburg, civilian consultant with the police department. The captain in charge told them no one was moving in until it was determined where the shots had originated from and if the sniper was finished. Jim told him that Blair's office was in Hargrove Hall.

The captain said at least four people had been hit. And several officers were canvassing the campus, looking for the shooter.

Jim still listened to Blair's harsh breathing on the other end of the cell phone. He wanted to do nothing more than track down the source and get Blair to safety. If there was still a sniper running loose around the campus, no one was safe. Jim wanted to talk to Blair again; to reassure him help would be there soon. But he didn't know how long before anyone would be able to move in to help the injured.

"Blair? Can you still hear me? I'm here and you'll be rescued shortly. The captain in charge wants to make sure the sniper's not still around. We don't want any more injuries. Okay?"

There was no answer from Blair. Jim suspected he was probably unconscious. But he was still breathing, which was the most important thing. Although, with every passing minute, he was losing blood and precious time that he just didn't have.

Jim looked at his watch. It was almost 11:45 AM. Suddenly, the captain's radio came to life.

"We've got the sniper, sir. He's in custody. He says he's the only one. We found him with a cache of guns by the Administration building."

"Good work, men." He turned to the assembled group there. "Okay. We don't know how many victims he shot or where they are. The sniper was shooting from the Administration building. Start from there and radius out from there. As soon as you find someone, call for paramedics. Let's get a move on, people!! Time is of the essence."

Jim turned to Megan. "Blair's got to be near Hargrove Hall. I'm going to find him you grab a couple of paramedics and meet me there."

"Okay, Jim."

Jim took off on a run towards Hargrove Hall. He paused when he reached the fountain and turned. Blair was about 10 feet away, near one of the benches. Jim ran over and knelt down beside Blair. Blair was face down on the ground. Jim saw the entrance wound in Blair's back. Jim gently turned Blair onto his side. Just as he suspected, Blair was unconscious. Jim started whispering to the young man.

"Just hold on, Chief. You've got to hold on. They got the sniper, the one responsible for this. He'll pay for doing this. Megan will be here shortly with the paramedics. You know, she told me a secret. I think she's in love with you. But I don't want to ruin the surprise. She's going to ask you out and ask you if you care for her. Just don't tell her you heard it from me. I always thought the two of you would make a great couple. You deserve some happiness, Blair."

Jim kept his hold on Blair and waited for Megan and the paramedics. It seemed to take forever. But finally, Jim was firmly but gently pulled away from Blair. He looked up to see Megan there. He looked at his watch. It was close to noon.

"Blair was supposed to be in class. What was he doing outside?"

"Jim? The paramedics are going to get Sandy ready for transport and then we can go to the hospital. Maybe he just wanted to take advantage of the nice weather? Heaven knows, we don't get enough of it in Cascade."

"Yeah. Blair loves it when the sun shines and it's actually a warm day outside. He's having problems breathing. The bullet must have nicked a lung. At least."

"They'll get him situated and transported to the hospital. We'll go together and let the others know."

Jim turned back and watched the paramedics as they administered to Blair. Blair didn't move voluntarily once during the whole procedure. Jim tried not to listen to the harsh breathing, but it seemed to fill his whole mind and was starting to get louder and louder. Then, all of a sudden, it disappeared. There was silence in the void. Jim looked back down at the paramedics working on Blair. They were performing CPR, frantic to get some response.

Jim closed his eyes. He couldn't take it any longer. It was just like when they were at the fountain. And it wasn't that far away. Just ten feet. Where Blair had died the first time. It couldn't happen again, could it? Jim knew there was nothing he could do for Blair this time. He had been shot and Jim couldn't take that away. Jim turned away and walked towards the fountain. Megan noticed it and followed Jim. She put her arm around Jim's shoulders and held him close.

"He'll be okay, Jim. They got his heartbeat back and he's breathing again. They're going to transport shortly."

"I can't lose him again, Megan. It's just like at the fountain. It's right here."

"Jim? Let's go. They're taking him to the ambulance. We've got to be at the hospital when he arrives."

"Yeah, you're right, Megan. Will you drive?" He handed her his keys.

She recovered from her shock. "Sure, Jim. Let's go."

It was almost 1:00 PM when they arrived at the hospital. Along the way, Jim had called into the station, relaying to Rhonda what had happened and that he and Megan were going to the hospital to be with Blair. Rhonda understood, sent along her good wishes and told Jim she would contact the others to let them know.

Jim walked into the Emergency area, looking lost and vulnerable. But he asked about Blair. The nurse looked up at him with sympathetic eyes.

"The doctors are still examining him, Detective Ellison."

Jim only nodded and turned away. He saw Simon, Brian and Henri walking into the Emergency entrance. Simon spoke first.

"Any news, Jim?"

"The doctors are still examining him. I th-thought he was going?"

"It'll be okay, Jim. You know how resilient Sandburg is."

"But you didn't see the hole in his chest."

"Jim? It's not doing anyone any good for you to talk like that. Why don't we go sit down and wait?"

"I thought I was done with this? Why is it still happening?"

"It's Sandburg, Jim. Isn't that enough of a reason?"

"No!! It's not fair or just!! He has the right to happiness, just like everyone else in this world. He shouldn't be made to suffer to receive that happiness!!"

"Let's go sit down, Jim. You don't want to make a spectacle of yourself in the middle of the Emergency room. What would Blair say to that?"

"He'd just laugh at me. But, its true, Simon!!"

"I know it is, Jim. But there's not anything you can do about it now."

Jim allowed Simon to lead him over to the chairs in the waiting area. Rafe and Brown were already sitting there. Jim looked at them and nodded slightly. He sat down in the chair there, Megan sitting down beside him. Jim stared at the floor, not looking at anyone. Megan tentatively reached out her hand and took Jim's hand within hers. Jim didn't move or acknowledge the gesture.

Simon actually was the one pacing back and forth as they waited. He had heard from the captain in charge that three students had been found dead at the scene, one professor was dead and four students and two other professors, including Blair, had been brought to hospitals. So, one sniper, bent of revenge of some type, had attacked ten people. That wasn't Simon's worry. Simon's worry was one civilian consultant and his partner, who had suddenly decided to shut down. At least Megan was by Jim's side to give him some needed support. It was always a sticky situation when Jim or Blair was injured and the other was waiting for word. They usually offered comfort and support to each other. But it seemed like they were lost without the other by their side.

Simon was worried he'd have to deal with Jim Ellison after Blair Sandburg… Simon just couldn't say the word. He remembered the total devastation at the fountain when it seemed Blair had passed on. Jim was frantic to keep up the CPR until he came up with something. And he had been rewarded with Blair's eventual recovery. But, Blair had changed dramatically from the person Simon had remembered prior to the drowning. Blair was more subdued and quiet. He seemed more introspective.

Soon after the offer of a badge, Blair had a long talk with Simon. Without Jim in the room. Blair had explained to Simon why he couldn't become a policeman, but that he would be amendable to a consultant job of some type, if that was available. Simon had promised Blair he would go to bat for him as far as a consultant position. Blair had told Simon he was going to take the university to task for releasing him without a hearing and without just cause. Simon told Blair if he needed a character witness, he was available.

Blair had come through with getting reinstated at the university and being able to present and defend his doctoral thesis, the original one on Sentinels, with a slightly different slant, and getting his doctorate. All of Major Crime had been at the graduation to congratulate Blair on his accomplishment. At the post-graduation party, held at the loft, Simon had presented to Blair the position of official consultant to the Cascade Police Department, with emphasis on his degree in anthropology being an asset to crime scenes and officers alike. Blair had jumped at the opportunity to continue his association with the Cascade Police Department and everyone had benefited from the association.

Megan looked at her watch. It was 2:19 PM and no one had been out to even speak to them. Blair was still in an examination room. There had been no movement out of the examination room. Several people and machines and equipment had gone inside the room. Megan was about to find out just what was going on when she noticed Simon Banks had gone over to one of the nurses at the Emergency intake desk. Megan watched as the nurse walked to the examination room where Blair was and went inside. She was inside for close to fifteen minutes before she came out and walked towards the Major Crime group, sitting and waiting. Megan nudged Jim and he seemed to come back to himself and look up just as the nurse came over.

"The doctors are trying to stabilize Mr. Sandburg before they move him to the OR. There is still a lot of bleeding and Mr. Sandburg's vital signs are wildly fluctuating. They are having a hard time."

"But - he's still - alive…" It was Jim who had spoken.

"Yes. He's still alive. The doctors will be out as soon as they know anything."

"Thank you, nurse."

Jim resumed looking down at the floor. Megan still held onto Jim's hand. She could feel the small tremors running through Jim. He was scared to death Blair wasn't going to make it. She was scared too. In fact, everyone waiting was scared about what was going to happen.

About ten minutes later, Rafe and Brown, with encouragement from Simon, decided to leave and get back to work. Someone needed to be working their open cases. They stopped in front of Jim and Brown patted Jim on the shoulder.

"We'll send up prayers and good thoughts for Hairboy, Jim. Just keep the faith, babe."

Rafe didn't say anything, but patted Jim's shoulder also.

There was a mumbled 'thanks' from Jim. But he kept his head down. He reached out with his free hand and wiped the tears from his eyes.

It was close to 3:00 PM when the head emergency room doctor came out to talk to Simon, Jim and Megan. By looking at the doctor, Jim knew it wasn't good news. Even before he said a word. Megan had let go of Jim's hand and they all stood as the doctor approached.

"All of you are here for Blair Sandburg?"

"Yes. He's an official consultant with the police department. My name is Captain Simon Banks, and these are two of Blair's colleagues, Detective Jim Ellison and Inspector Megan Connor."

"I'm Dr. Walter Chapman. Is there any family members present?"

"I… I'm Blair's partner and best friend. I-I have power of attorney rights, including medical."

"There's no family?"

"I'm the cl-closest thing to family h-he has."

"Then I can talk to you about Mr. Sandburg's condition."

"You can talk to Captain Banks and Inspector Connor also, doctor."

"Okay. The gunshot wound did major damage to Mr. Sandburg's insides. We've taken some X-Rays and a sonogram, but we won't know exactly the total amount of damage until we get him into surgery and are able to probe around the area and get an eyeball view and close- up examination. We've finally been able to stabilize his breathing with the addition of a breathing tube and his blood pressure has leveled out - even though it's still rather low and there's a risk in taking him into surgery. We need to find the bullet and stop the bleeding if he has any chance of surviving. Any questions?"

There was silence from the three people there. Jim shook his head no, not trusting his voice or the emotions that might come out right now.

"I'll give you fair warning. The operation will probably take several hours. You would do well to leave your name and number with the surgical waiting room and you can be contacted when the operation is complete."

Dr. Chapman turned and walked back towards the examination room where Blair was just being wheeled out. Jim took two hesitant steps towards the bed and stopped. He concentrated his senses on Blair and sent up a silent prayer of his own. Blair was whisked away towards surgery. Simon and Megan were beside Jim immediately.

"Do you want us to stay, Jim?"

"Megan? Can you finish up the report on National Industries? The initial reports need to be filled out and we need to see if Forensics has any reports ready yet."

"I thought maybe I'd stay here?"

"No. Jim's right, Connor. You should go and get the reports done on your case. Crime doesn't stop just because there's a tragedy. You can come back later. As the doctor said, Sandburg will probably be in surgery for some time. Especially if they have to dig to find the bullet and stop any internal bleeding."

"Okay. I'll go back to the station. But I want to be kept updated about what's happening."

"I'll be sure to keep everyone at the station update, Connor. Here, take my car." He handed her his keys. "I'm going to stay here with Jim."

"Okay." Megan took hold of Jim's arm again. She whispered in Jim's ear. "I hope Sandy will be okay. I still need to tell him."

Jim only nodded yes. He understood exactly what she was talking about.

"You two will make a wonderful couple, Connor."

Megan let loose of Jim's arm and turned to go. She left the hospital, only letting her tears fall once she was safely inside Simon's car. She drove back to the station, trying to put the image of a fallen Blair Sandburg out of her mind. It was 3:30 PM by the time she got back to the station.

Simon was able to get Jim up to the surgical waiting room. They notified the personnel there who they were waiting for and walked into the room. The woman explained there were coffee, tea, soft drinks, a vending machine, magazines and newspapers to help pass the time. Jim didn't say a word. Simon thanked her and she left them alone. Jim had moved over near the windows and was looking out on the warm, sunny day.

"You want something to drink, Jim?"

At first, Jim didn't say a word. Then, he turned around to face Simon. They were the only two waiting. Simon could see the tears in Jim's eyes.

"No…o…o. Thanks, Simon."

Even though Rafe and Brown went through the motions of updating their cases and handling a new homicide that came into the division, their thoughts were on Blair at the hospital. When they had returned to the station, they gave an update to Rhonda, who forwarded it to the other departments. Well wishes were coming in from all over the station, and from the other precincts. It showed just how many lives Blair had touched at the PD. And how well liked he was.

Megan had done the initial report on National Industries. Several reports were available from Forensics and she was able to get them and formulate a better picture of things. There were unknown prints found on the door to the foundry building. She started to run them through the databases to see if there was a match. She knew if she kept busy, she wouldn't think so much about Blair and his situation.

It was 4:30 PM when Jim left the waiting room, telling the woman there he needed some fresh air. He had already spoken to Simon, letting him know he wanted to be alone. He walked to the elevators, pushed the down button and waited. It was several minutes before the elevator arrived and took him down to the lobby. He got off and walked to the front doors. He walked outside into the bright, late afternoon sun of the most perfect day of the year in Cascade. Jim squinted, and then quickly, automatically dialed down his eyesight to the desirable level. He didn't look around but purposefully strode forward, no set destination in mind. He knew he wouldn't go far, but he just had to get away.

There wasn't anything he could do at the time for Blair. He was fighting for his own life in the operating room, with doctors, nurses and technicians all vying to help him in his fight. There wasn't anything Jim could do to help. After the surgery was over, after Blair was on the road to recovery, now that was a different story. He'd be by Blair's side every step of the way. Jim just hoped there was going to be a recovery this time. That they would be able to take the vacation Jim had been planning since early this morning. After all, Blair would be on medical leave for an indefinite amount of time. Jim would be able to get vacation time, talk Simon into letting him take it all at once. After all, Simon had a soft spot in his heart when it came to Blair. He had almost from the very beginning.

Jim kept walking - getting further and further away from the hospital. But he was still within earshot in case something happened. He suddenly stopped and sat down on the bench there. Jim looked up at the sky, struggling to find some sense in all of this. As a police officer, he understood the violence. But as a friend, he didn't understand why Blair was targeted more often than not.

"I'm not very religious, but I do believe in a higher power. Just make sure you watch after Blair. He's special. He's always downplayed the role of shaman and guide, but I think he's more vital than the sentinel. At least, I know Blair is more vital. He keeps me sane and keeps the whole group together when we tend to bicker and fight amongst ourselves. We can't lose him. I can't lose him."

Jim stayed outside for a while longer before venturing back inside and up to the surgical floor. There hadn't been any updates, but it had only been a couple of hours. Jim sat down beside Simon to wait.

Henri and Brian had gone to Homicide to ask about the sniper, whose name was Brian Ratcliffe. He was 34 years old, unemployed with nothing else to do but terrorize a university campus. The dead count had been raised to five students and still one professor. Two students and two professors were still being treated at hospitals. The Homicide detectives hadn't been able to get any concrete reason why from Ratcliffe. He kept rambling on and on about 'voices in his head' telling him he had to act soon and definitely. It was obvious to the Homicide detectives that Ratcliffe was a mental case. They had called the DA and a public defender for the guy. He'd probably go to be evaluated by a psychiatrist in a hospital. It was a sad state of affairs that six people had already died because of this guy and four other lives were hanging in the balance. The Homicide detectives were going to do a background check on the man just to cover the bases.

Henri, Brian, and Megan all wrapped up their business by 5:30 PM. They had decided to stop by the hospital to find out the latest. They didn't want to bombard Jim, but they also wanted to show him (and Sandburg) their support. Rhonda invited herself along. Before they left the station, Henri filled in the night shift about what had happened. Most everyone had heard about the shooting, but didn't know the particulars; especially that Blair had been one of the victims. All of them sent along prayers and good wishes. Henri promised to pass them on to Jim.

When they walked into the waiting room, only Simon and Jim were there. Simon looked up and acknowledged the group. Jim continued to look down at the floor. They walked over to stand nearby. Henri spoke.

"Is there any word?"

"Not yet. He's still in surgery. It's major damage and the doctor said it would take some time."

"Homicide interviewed the sniper. His name is Brian Radcliffe. He's 34 years old and unemployed. He kept talking about 'voices in his head' and 'he had to act soon'. It's been turned over to the DA and he's got a public defender. He's going to be evaluated by a psychiatrist. And the dead is up to five students and one professor now."

"Thanks for the update, guys. There's not really anything you can do around here."

"Can we just wait, Captain?" Rhonda spoke for the others.

"Sure. You can wait."

"And I have well wishes and prayers from just about everyone at the station. We filled the night shift in on what was happening."

At that time, Jim looked up. Everyone could see the red rim around his eyes from crying.

"He's touched everyone's life. He's got to be okay."

They all sat down to wait. A vigil of hope and prayer.

It was almost 11:00 PM before the doctor came out. He looked around at the group of people assembled. Over the hours, several off-duty officers had stopped by, as well as students and professors from the university. It was a heartfelt show of support for one person. Jim had acknowledged everyone who had come by.

Jim got to his feet as soon as he saw the doctor. He knew the doctor wouldn't announce Blair's condition to a whole room full of people. The doctor pointed towards a side room and Jim followed the doctor to the room. Simon started to follow also, but Jim turned around.

"I'd prefer to do this myself, Simon. Okay?"

"Sure, Jim. I understand. You'll let us know?"

"Of course. As much as I can."

Jim walked into the room where the doctor was waiting for him. He closed the door behind him.

"How's Blair?"

"He's a fighter. I'll give you that. But saying that, he's still in serious condition. There has been a lot of damage done to his internal organs. I'm not sure he can survive. We have placed him on full life support, but I'm not sure he'll pull through. We were able to remove the bullet and to stop some of the internal bleeding. He's still receiving blood transfusions. He'll have to undergo more surgery if he regains his strength. We'll keep a close eye on him over the next eight to twelve hours."

"Can I see him?"

"We're getting ready to move him to Intensive Care. Once he's there, you'll be allowed to see him. But the rest of those people won't."

"I understand, doctor. They're here for support. Blair's a caring person. And those people are just some of the people Blair's touched in his life."

"I understand, Detective Ellison."

"Please, call me Jim. How long until he's in Intensive Care?"

"Probably the better part of an hour, Jim. That will give you enough time to talk to Blair's friends."

"Thanks, doctor."

The doctor left and Jim stood there in the small room a while longer, schooling his face and organizing his thoughts. He knew it still wasn't a good situation, but they had beaten the odds before.

It was about 11:15 PM when Jim stepped out of the small room and stood in front of all those people.

"Blair's still in serious condition. The doctors were able to remove the bullet and stop most of the internal bleeding. The next twelve hours will be the most critical. They have him on full life support and are going to keep a close eye on him. Right now they're moving him to Intensive Care and I'll be able to see him once he's there. Unfortunately, the rest of you can't. If you want to help, you can give blood. The doctor told me Blair's still receiving a blood transfusion. I'm sure Blair would appreciate the fact his friends were doing something he would do if he could."

Each person came up to Jim before they left, giving him a prayer, a word of encouragement, or just best wishes. Jim appreciated it all.

At midnight, the only ones left in the room, were Jim and Simon.

"You should go, Simon. I want to thank you for staying with me throughout all of this."

"I'm going to be checking up on you in the morning. Maybe they'll let me sit with Sandburg while you go get some sleep?"

"I can sleep by his bed. I've done it before."

"By the morning, you'll need some real sleep in a real bed. No arguments, Jim. I'm your superior officer."

"Yes, sir." There was an actual smile on Jim's face. The first one Simon had seen throughout these long hours of waiting.

"They should have him situated in Intensive Care about now. I best go there and make sure they take care of him."

"I'll go donate some blood in Blair's name. Take care of yourself, Jim and call if you need anything."

By the time Jim arrived in Intensive Care, it was close to 12:15 AM. He had taken his time and had taken the stairs. It had been over nine hours since he had seen Blair, but he wasn't so sure he wanted to see Blair in his current condition. Jim walked through the doors of Intensive Care and the sensory input was dramatic. His hearing, sight and smell were immediately on alert. He quickly dialed them all down to the lowest possible reading. He continued on to the nurse's station and identified himself and whom he was there to see. They told him he'd have to wait a few minutes as they were still hooking up monitors and machines.

"It should only be about 10 minutes. He's in room 4. You can wait outside the room."

Jim walked over to room 4 and looked through the window into the room. He had to really look to pick out Blair in the bed. He seemed swamped by the machines, wires and tubes around him. There were at least 4 nurses helping situate the machines around the bed and Blair in the bed. Jim was impressed at how gentle they were with moving Blair around in the bed.

It was actually more like 20 minutes before all the readings were recorded and the machines tested to make sure they were working. The last nurse came out of the room to see Jim standing there.

"Hi. I'm Stacy. I'll be Blair's nurse for tonight. Who are you?"

"I'm Jim Ellison. I'm Blair's best friend. And the closest thing he has to a family in the area. The doctor told me I'd be able to see Blair once he was situated here in Intensive Care."

"Well, Jim. I'm sure Blair will be glad his best friend is here. You can go in and as long as you don't disturb Blair too much, you can stay. By all means, talk to him though. It's the only way he'll know you're here. He's still unconscious."

"The doctor told me he was in serious condition?"

"Yeah, Blair's one of the most serious we've gotten in here for some time. I understand he was one of the victims of that sniper at the university?"

"Yeah. Blair's a professor there. He has his doctorate in anthropology. He's been there ever since he was sixteen, as a student and now as a professor. He's the smartest guy I know."

"I can hear the pride in your voice, Jim. So, are you at the university too?"

Jim laughed and it sounded foreign to his ears.

"No. I'm a detective with the Cascade Police Department. Blair's also a consultant with the police department because his anthropology background helps with processing crime scenes."

Jim had to smile at the explanation. He was as good as Blair with obfuscations. He had learned from the best. The nurse only shook her head.

"I'll let you go on in, Jim. Remember, talk to him so he knows you're there. And it will help him make the connection back to his life."

It made sense to Jim. He walked into the room and pulled over the one chair that was just inside the door. He stood at the end of the bed, trying to decide which side to sit on. He noticed there were fewer machines and wires running on the right side so he placed the chair on that side and sat down. He reached out and picked up Blair's right hand, letting it rest in his right palm. He stroked Blair's fingers with his left hand.

"Hey, Chief. I'm here. You knew I'd be back, right? Good news is they're letting me stay here by your side, as long as I don't disturb you too much. I'd never do that, Chief. They don't know me too well. I'm the one who always wants you to rest and not do anything. And this is the same thing. You just rest and get stronger. I'll be the one to encourage you on. Speaking of encourage, you should have seen all the people here waiting for word about the outcome of your surgery. People from the PD, people from the university, people from off the street for all I know. You've touched so many lives over your years. I'm sure if the world knew you were here, fighting for your life, the switchboard would be lit up with well wishers from around the world. The doctor tells me the next eight to twelve hours are the most crucial. All I know is I don't want to lose you. I can't lose you again. The last time was too much to bear."

Jim lapsed into silence, the tears coming to his eyes again. He couldn't go on right now. He had to take a break. He gently put Blair's hand back on the bed, placing it under the sheet there. He got to his feet and walked to the far side of the Intensive Care room, which wasn't far at all. He looked back at Blair. There had been no movement from Blair. Jim had honed all his senses on Blair once he walked into the room. And now, he knew just how serious Blair was. And he understood just what the doctor meant by the fact Blair might not survive. It was a lot to ask - to be so seriously injured and yet still make an almost miraculous recovery. Snatch life out of the jaws of death. Jim had no idea if Blair could do such a thing.

Jim walked back over to the bed sat down and took Blair's hand within his own again.

"I'm sorry about that, Chief. You know I don't do emotional very well. That's your realm not mine. And I don't want to put any pressure on you at all. If you feel you can't make it, I understand. I don't like it, but I understand. I think I need to go lay down for a while. I'm really tired and I've been going non-stop from 5:15 this morning, I mean yesterday morning. nineteen, almost twenty hours. I'm more than a little emotional and a little loopy. I'll come back in a few hours. Or if there's some dramatic change. Keep fighting, Blair. You can do it."

Jim reluctantly walked out of the Intensive Care Unit room. He saw Stacy there and walked over to her.

"Is everything okay, Jim?"

Jim wiped away the last of his tears. He smiled at Stacy.

"Yeah. I was wondering if there was somewhere I could lay down for a few hours? I've been going non-stop since about 5:15 yesterday morning. I just need to get a few hours sleep, if that's possible. But I don't really want to leave here."

"I understand, Jim. We have a couple rooms just outside Intensive Care for family and friends. I don't think either of them is occupied right now. If you want to follow me, I'll show you."

"Thank you, Stacy. But shouldn't you stay with Blair? I can find my own way."

"We not only take care of the patients, Jim. We take care of the family also."

Jim allowed himself to be led to the first room just outside Intensive Care.

"There are shower and bathroom facilities available through that door. Sleep as long as you need to."

"If there's a change in Blair…"

"Someone will come to get you if there's a change in Blair. Get some rest, Jim. You look like you need it."

"Thanks, Stacy. For everything."

Stacy left Jim alone in the room. Jim looked up at the clock there. It read 12:45 AM. He hated doing this, but he needed the rest and knew Blair would need him alert and aware later. Hoping there would be a later. Jim went into the bathroom and took a shower, feeling much better just after that. He lay down in the bed, only in his boxers. He covered himself with the blanket and was asleep within minutes. He was sure he'd hear if anything went wrong.

The alarms were going off in room four. Stacy and several other nurses ran to the room, noting it was the young man who was fighting to survive. Stacy noted the time - it was 2:45 AM. But they were shocked that it wasn't a code. It seemed the young man had woken, and he was trying to remove the tube down his throat. Stacy took hold of the hand and gently lowered it to the bed. She got into Blair's eyesight and got his attention.

"You have to leave the tube in, Blair. It's there to help you. You're in the hospital, in serious condition. Do you understand me?"

Blair closed his eyes and slowly opened them again. He nodded his head yes. And visibly relaxed in the bed.

"Good. I'm going to go tell your friend Jim that you've come to. He's been worried about you."

Blair nodded again and closed his eyes again. Stacy turned to one of the other nurses.

"Stay here until I get back with his friend, okay?"

"Will do."

Stacy left the room and went to where she had left Jim. She knocked on the door, but there was no answer. She knocked again and there still was no answer. She opened the door and noticed Jim sound asleep in the bed. She hated to bother him, but she did promise to let Jim know if there were any changes in Blair. She walked over to the bed and gently shook Jim's shoulder.

"Jim? Jim?"

Jim woke up, shielding his eyes when he opened them.

"Yeah? Stacy? Is it Blair?"

"Yes, Blair came to a while ago."

"He came to?"

"Yes. And his vital signs have rose over the last couple of hours. You wanted to know?"

"Yes. Can I see him?"

"Sure. If you feel up to it."

"What time is it?"

"Almost 3:00 AM."

"I got a couple of hours of sleep." Jim started to get up out of the bed.

"If you want to go back to sleep?"

"No, I'd like to see Blair."

"I'll let you get dressed then."

That's when Jim looked down and noticed he only had his boxers on.

"Sorry."

"It's nothing I haven't seen, Jim. Just go on in when you get dressed."

Stacy left Jim to get dressed on his own and went back to Intensive Care. She'd have a few minutes to record Blair's vital signs before Jim came back. She walked back into Blair's room and noticed Blair had drifted off to sleep again. As she recorded the readings from the machines, she spoke to Blair.

"You know, I told your friend Jim that you had come to. Now he's going to show up here and see you're back asleep. He'll think I lied to him. Oh, well. You still need a lot of rest and healing before you'll be up and around. I'm sure he'll understand that."

"I understand, Stacy."

Stacy turned around to see Jim standing there, leaning against the door.

"Just thought I'd give him fair warning when you started to yell at him."

"He knows I'd never yell at him. Considering I thought he was going to die before he got out of surgery, I can't very well yell at him. I'd be more likely to yell at him if he died on me."

"He's still in serious condition, Jim."

"I know, Stacy. But he's a fighter."

"I'll leave you two alone."

"Thanks for waking me, Stacy."

Stacy left the Intensive Care Unit room, returning to the nurse's station. She marveled at the friendship between the two men. Blair even seemed to understand what she was telling him. And Jim was back at Blair's side, even though he hadn't gotten more than two hours sleep and it was obvious he needed more. It was obvious the two men cared for each other.

Jim pulled over the chair and sat back down at Blair's side. He took Blair's hand within his own again.

"Hey, Chief. Stacy told me you came to earlier. And your vital signs are up. I hope this means good things are going to happen. I don't think I told you there were six fatalities, five students and one professor. Four of you survived. Two students and you and another professor. They caught the sniper and he turned out to be a mental case. But at least he'll be kept off the street. I got a couple hours sleep. You're the one who always says sleep is overrated, right? Well, I tend to agree with you. I'd much rather be by your side than sleeping."

Jim continued talking about the case, what he knew of it. And then he was telling Blair about the case he and Megan had investigated at National Industries and the missing secret plans for their new facility and the new product line.

"It's probably recipes for doughnuts and pastries. If we're able to recover them, maybe they'll give us products for life."

Jim chuckled at his own joke and then looked back over at Blair. He noticed Blair's eyes were opened slits.

"Hey, buddy. There you are. It wasn't a figment of Stacy's imagination that you came to. And I can tell you are better than you were earlier. I'm glad. I don't think I could have taken you…"

Blair moved his fingers in Jim's hand. Jim seemed to understand.

"Thanks for understanding, Blair. It's just so hard to say. Let alone even think it. It's still going to be a long time for recovery. Probably a long time in Intensive Care alone. It's 3:30 AM, time for all good anthropologists to be getting their rest. You've got to get better so they can start to remove these machines and the breathing tube. Okay, Chief?"

Blair curled his fingers around Jim's hand with all the strength he had. This wasn't a whole lot. His eyes slid shut again and the fingers relaxed. Jim gently squeezed the fingers, knowing Blair would be okay. It would take weeks, possibly months, but Blair would recover. He'd probably always have scars, both internal and external. But Jim vowed to be by Blair's side every step of the way.

Jim remained by Blair's side, monitoring Blair's vital signs with his Sentinel senses and relaxing when he found them much improved. Jim kept his contact with Blair's hand, content to sit in the shadowy room, keeping watch, keeping away the demons. Jim looked up at the clock, able to read it even in the dark. It was 4:00 AM. It was hard to believe that so much had happened over the span of almost a day.

Stacy came in and took the readings again. She spoke softly to Blair, but he didn't stir. He was sound asleep again.

"Did you get to talk to him?"

"Yeah. He came to a while ago. He knew what was going on."

"Yeah. He did when I spoke to him earlier. Most patients don't even know where they're at."

"Well, Blair's a genius. He always knows where he's at."

"Are you okay? Do you need anything?"

"No. I'm good. I think those two hours sleep was just what I needed."

"You need more sleep than that, Jim. I'm sure Blair will sleep soundly. He's still receiving pain medication and other medications that will help him to heal."

"I think I'll stay, if it's all the same to you."

"It's fine with me, Jim."

Stacy left and Jim turned back to Blair. He was still sound asleep. Jim decided he could rest his head on the bed for a few minutes, maybe catch a few minutes of rest. He lay his head down and was able to watch Blair at the same time. Within minutes, Jim's eyes closed and he was asleep.

Blair came to again and saw Jim asleep there, his head resting on the bed. He smiled as best he could and reached up his hand to rest on Jim's head. Jim didn't stir. This meant to Blair that he was exhausted. Probably over worry about Blair. Blair lowered his hand from Jim's head and rested it on Jim's arm. It meant something to him that Jim was there. That Jim had called him shortly after he had been shot. That Jim was going to rescue him. It must have worked. He'd get the whole story from Jim once he was on the road to recovery. Blair closed his eyes again. He needed more rest. The more rest he got, the sooner he'd get out of here. At least, he hoped so.

It was 5:15 AM when Stacy came in to get the hourly readings. She was running behind because they had gotten another patient in during the last half hour and she was helping to situate the woman in her room. She had to smile when she walked into room four. Not only was Blair still asleep, but Jim was asleep also. Blair's hand was resting on Jim's arm and both seemed content. Stacy didn't interrupt either man as she took the readings and silently left the room.

Comments

( 1 speaker — Speak )
pattrose
Jul. 7th, 2007 05:24 am (UTC)
Blair and Conner???? Do I need to swat you? LOL Seriously, this was really good. I love angst and this was full of it. Glad I found this lj to read your stories on. :)
( 1 speaker — Speak )

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Jim?, You mean that
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These are my stories chronicling the continuing adventures of Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg, Sentinel and Guide, partners and friends.

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