Evolution Of Friendship 20
Speaking To The Sky
“And if I stumble and it seems that I am blind
Or if the road I’m on seems awful hard to find”
Speak to the Sky by Rick Springfield
“Jim, let him go. Let me help him.”
Jim resisted for a moment, still holding Blair close, rocking him a little as if just
that simple act could comfort both of them and keep Blair with him.
“Jim!” Hands covered Jim’s own, loosening their grip and then Blair was pulled
away from him and Jim’s heart went into overdrive, thumping a panicked
rhythm as he tried to focus through the Golden still obscuring his sight. “What’s
wrong?” he asked past the lump in his throat. “Blair?”
“He’s not breathing,” Simon said flatly and then Jim could hear the blessed
sounds of sirens even as he sensed Simon leaning over Blair and beginning
He knelt in frozen silence till someone grabbed his arm and hauled him
upright. He fought against them for a moment till Simon wrapped a steadying
arm around his shoulder and said, “The medics are working on him, Jim. Let
them do their job.”
Jim nodded and looked to where he knew Blair was, cursing as the veil of
Golden refused to lift to give him even a slight glimpse of what was happening
with his partner. His head throbbed as he tried to push past the glare and as
if Simon sensed it, he patted Jim’s back. “Don’t push it, Jim. They’ve got him
breathing again. They’re getting him on a gurney and taking him to the hospital
right now. Hang onto my arm and I’ll get you out of here and to the hospital.”
“Okay.” Jim nodded, grabbed hold of Simon’s elbow and let himself be led
along to Simon’s car.
Jim Ellison had a guilt complex big enough to need its own zip code, Simon
thought, as he studied his friend a few hours later. Jim looked terrible –
unshaven, dark shadows under his eyes telling the story of a night spent
sleepless, sitting at Blair’s bedside. Simon shook his head then walked over to
stand next to the bed. Blair was intubated, a ventilator breathing for him, an
IV line in his arm. He looked deathly still and Simon shivered at the analogy.
“How’s he doing?” he asked Jim.
Jim almost jumped and Simon incongruously thought it was probably the first
time he’d been able to startle the guy since his senses had come back online.
“He's fading in and out, sir. Doctor says it's gonna take some time for the
drug to work its way through his system.” Jim sounded worn down to his very
bones, almost devoid of hope that Blair would recover, and Simon tried to
deflect him onto something else.
“I got the reports back on those chemicals contained in Golden,” he said.
“They're pretty rare. And there's no record of any significant shipments of
those chemicals to any company here in Cascade.”
The diversion appeared to work Simon was relieved to see, at least for now.
“Well, what about controlled substances?” Jim asked.
“The same,” Simon replied.
Jim shook his head. “They're legal transactions, Simon. What about theft?”
Simon shrugged. “I checked into that, too. There's nothing.” He moved around
the bed to sit on the edge of it in front of Jim. “How you doing, man? You don't
look so good.”
“Oh, I'm all right, man. I was hoping maybe he'd come to, you know? This
Golden crap. This is insidious stuff, man. I mean, there must have been ten to
twenty times the amount that would kill a person on that pizza.”
Simon swallowed hard at that. He jumped in with another attempt at
deflection. “They were sending a message: don't screw with us or we'll hit you
right where it hurts.” And it would hurt, he thought, not just Jim but all of them
if they lost Sandburg. Blair had somehow managed to sneak right in under
everyone’s defences and into their personal spaces and become not just Jim’s
guide through this Sentinel stuff, but a friend to all of them, Simon included.
“I got a feeling these creeps haven't left town. They've got a hundred kilos of
unfinished business,” Jim said, a hard edge to his voice. There was anger there,
Simon knew, a barely controlled urge for revenge. Simon didn’t blame him one
“I just wanna know how the hell they found out who you were so fast.”
“Well, obviously, sir, they've got some kind of access, right? Now we're talking
controlled substances here. Come on, what about… what about government
contracts?” Jim asked.
“I don’t know and I’m not going to find out anything here.” Simon stood up,
gave Blair’s blanket-covered foot a little pat, knowing Jim couldn’t see the
small gesture of affection. He had a reputation to protect after all. “Look, why
don’t you come back with me? The hospital will call you if there’s any change.
You could use some food and a shower.” He didn’t bother mentioning sleep
although that was probably what Jim needed more than anything else right now.
Jim would deny it. There was no way he’d be sleeping until he had his hands
around the throat of whoever had done this to Blair, and Simon couldn’t blame
him for that either. If, god forbid, Blair didn’t make it, there’d be a long line
of pissed off Major Crime detectives ready to take their turn after Jim had
finished with the guy and Simon would be heading that line.
Jim turned and looked over at Blair. He nodded. “I’m not doing him much good
just sitting here, I guess. He’d want me out there tracking down these bastards
before another kid gets hurt or dies.”
Simon nodded and helped him to his feet. “Yeah, he would, so let’s go do
And they did. And it was almost worth it all, knowing the perps were behind
bars and the Golden pipeline was shut down. Almost.
Somewhere in a parallel universe there was a Blair Sandburg who was teaching
anthropology to kids, never having heard anything about Sentinels or having
met a detective named Jim Ellison. Jim wished it were this universe. Wished
that he wasn’t sitting next to Blair’s bed again, waiting for him to wake up,
listening to the blessed yet infernal sound of the ventilator pushing air into
Blair’s still unresponsive lungs. He reached out and gripped Blair’s hand, willing
him to respond. “Come on, Chief,” he said, “find your way back. I’m nowhere
near ready to do this without you. Besides, your grandmother will never
forgive me if I’m the reason she loses you again now that you’ve reconnected.”
He gave Blair’s hand another squeeze. “And I don’t even want to think about
what your mom will do. Help me out here, buddy, squeeze my hand. Let me
know you’re still in there.”
Jim sighed and turned away from the bed and waved Simon into the room.
“Not yet. The doctor said the longer he’s unconscious the more worrying it is
but they can’t do any more than they’re doing: supporting him physically and
giving his brain and body time to heal. I just want to do more than I’m doing to
bring him back but I don’t know what that is.”
“Come for a walk with me. Just for a few minutes,” Simon said. “Just down the
Jim leaned in so he could whisper into Blair’s ear. “I’ll be back in a few, Chief.
I’d really like you to be awake when I get back.” He stood up. “All right, let’s go,” he said following Simon from the room. “What’s up?”
“Nothing,” Simon replied, leading the way down the hallway then stopping
outside the chapel doors.
“Aw, Simon, I’m not really into all this kind of stuff,” Jim said, holding up a
hand, as if he was warding off the very thought of walking into a church. He
shook his head and turned to go back down the hall but Simon reached
out and snagged his elbow, pulling him to a halt, then pulling on his arm till Jim
turned to face him once more.
“You’re exhausted again,” Simon said flatly. “Yet you won’t go home and rest.
The nurses tell me you haven’t left that room since we got back from catching
the guys that did this to Blair. I don’t give diddly whether you believe in this
stuff or not, Jim. You can go in there and talk to God or talk to the sky for all I
care but you are going in there. For one thing it’s quiet in there and I can tell
just by looking at you that you’ve had your senses on maximum trying to see
past that Golden still affecting your sight and listening to Blair’s heartbeat ever
since this first happened. Give yourself some time to just chill out, man. Just
to be, and hey, if a prayer for Blair happens to pass your lips I’m not gonna tell
anyone about it. Think about it this way. You get to rest up for twenty minutes
without having to go home and leave your partner. You’re just down the hall if
he needs you. It’s quiet in there, there’s no one else in there. I checked. It’s a
win-win situation.” Simon gave him a hard look. “It’s also an order.”
Fine.” Jim pulled his arm out of Simon’s grip, opened the door and went
Simon was right. There was no one else inside and Jim walked across and sat
down in the front pew. He waited a moment then grinned despite himself and
just let the silence seep in. Leaning back, he closed his eyes. “You know, seeing
as the roof didn’t fall in when I came in here, I’m guessing that maybe I’m not
completely out of your favor,” he said quietly. “Look, I don’t know if I believe
in prayer or not. Hell… sorry. I mean, heck, I don’t know if I even believe in you
but I do believe the world would be a poorer place without Blair so if there’s
any chance of you doing me a favor and bringing him back, I’d appreciate it.”
He opened his eyes and shook his head. He wasn’t sure what he’d been
expecting. A voice booming out of the heavens perhaps? “Yeah, right,” he
muttered, turning to lay down across the seats. Simon had told him to get
some rest and he had to admit he was exhausted. If… no, when Blair came to,
he’d need Jim firing on all cylinders, not falling in a heap. Jim closed his eyes…
“Jim, wake up!”
“What the- Simon? What’s going on? I feel like I only just closed my eyes…” Jim
stumbled to his feet, grateful for Simon’s supporting arm.
“You did. Sorry. Something’s going on with Blair. Alarms went off and then
doctors and nurses came running and they booted me out of the room,” Simon
Jim headed to where he could just make out the door through the golden haze still
partially obscuring his vision. “Get me back there,” he ordered gruffly, pushing
down the panic blossoming anew.
They waited an anxious fifteen minutes outside Blair’s hospital room door, Jim
feeling each one of those minutes like hammer strikes in his chest. His stomach
lurched when the door opened and a man in green scrubs walked out.
“Well, I wasn’t expecting that,” the doctor said, his broad grin causing the
clenched fist around Jim’s heart to loosen and allow him to breathe again.
“I’ve never seen anyone ingest such a huge amount of a drug like Golden and
survive. Maybe it’s because he ate it rather than injecting it or inhaling it. His
digestive juices may have broken down some-“
“Doc,” Jim interrupted, “how is he?”
The doctor grinned more broadly. “Sorry. Got carried away. He’s doing well,
very well in fact. Why don’t you go in and see for yourself?”
Simon stepped forward and grabbed Jim’s arm, leading him into the room and
over to Blair’s bed. “The tube’s out,” he whispered to Jim.
Jim nodded and reached out to take Blair’s hand in his, relief bubbling up as
Blair opened his eyes. “Hey, Chief, it’s about time you woke up,” he said. “You
missed all the fun.”
“Fun?” Blair asked in a husky voice. “You caught them?”
“He crashed my car doing it,” Simon said peevishly but Jim could hear the
undertone of relief in the captain’s voice.
“You should have been there, buddy,” Jim said, sinking into the chair Simon
pushed behind his suddenly weak knees.
“I think I’m kind of glad I wasn’t,” Blair rasped out with a wince. “I’ve seen how
you drive when you can see.”
Suddenly the world seemed to tilt back on its axis again and Jim threw a quick
silent thank you heavenwards. Maybe he hadn’t completely lost favor with the
big guy upstairs after all.
If anyone had ever told Jim Ellison that he’d be walking out on a date with a
beautiful woman to go spend time with a friend, he’d’ve said they must have
been thinking of some other Jim Ellison. Yet here he was, seeing the lovely
and very understanding, as it turned out, Margaret into a cab with a promise to
take her out for dinner to make up for the truncated evening. He waved her
off then hurried across to his truck and started it up. Blair couldn’t have gone
too far afield. The doctor hadn’t cleared him for driving yet whereas Jim had been
cleared the day before, which was another reason why Jim could kick himself
for even allowing Blair to leave the loft on his own tonight. Blair had only been
out of the hospital a couple of days. Barely a week ago they hadn’t even known
if he’d survive. Jim felt like kicking himself. Sometimes he thought he’d never
measure up to be the kind of friend Blair really deserved. Yes, their friendship
had evolved into something of a quid pro quo with both of them benefiting
from it but Jim knew that he really got the lion’s share of the advantages. Just a
few months ago, he’d thought his career was over, had honestly believed he’d
end up in a psych ward. Yet now here he was, with the best solve rate in the
Cascade PD and a huge chunk of that success was down to Blair. Sacrificing one
evening with a pretty woman seemed small change in comparison.
He managed to catch up with Blair just in time to see him going into the lobby
of the downtown movie theater. Jim hurriedly parked the car and ran across
the road, making it to the ticket window just a second behind Blair. He reached
over Blair’s shoulder with a twenty dollar bill. “Make that two,” he said,
grinning as Blair turned and looked up at him, surprise writ large on his face.
“Jim? What are you doing here?” Blair asked as Jim took their tickets from the
cashier and herded Blair over to one side of the lobby. “Where’s Margaret?”
“She remembered she had somewhere else she needed to be,” Jim lied
smoothly, “and I haven’t been to a movie in years so I thought I’d join you.”
Blair’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Why don’t I believe you?” he asked.
Jim shrugged. “Suit yourself,” he replied, reaching out to give Blair a noogie.
“Can’t a buddy just choose to spend some time with his best friend?”
Blair seemed at a loss for words for a moment and Jim grinned. “Wow, a
speechless Sandburg. Simon will never believe me when I tell him.”
“Thanks,” Blair said finally. “Simon told me you never gave up on me when I
was in the hospital, barely left me alone.”
Jim brushed the words away with a wave of his hand. “You’d do the same for
me,” he said firmly.
“Yeah, I would,” Blair replied, “but it still means a lot to me that you did that.”
Jim nodded. “No problem.” He led the way over to where the other patrons
had started to line up. “Just promise me the next time someone tells you the
pizza is free you won’t eat it.”
Blair shuddered. “Easiest promise ever, man. I don’t think I’ll ever eat pizza
‘”Good enough,” Jim said. “I’m holding you to that.” He grinned. “All the more for me.”