Evolution Of Friendship 20

 

Speaking To The Sky

 

By

Annie

 

 

 

“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

CPR.

 

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.

 

~oOo~

 

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

bit.

 

“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

exactly that.”

 

And they did. And it was almost worth it all, knowing the perps were behind

bars and the Golden pipeline was shut down. Almost.

 

~oOo~

 

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.”

 

“Nothing?”

 

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

hall.”

 

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

inside.

 

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

said.

 

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?”

 

Jim nodded.

 

“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.

 

~oOo~

 

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

again.”

 

‘”Good enough,” Jim said. “I’m holding you to that.” He grinned. “All the more for me.”

 

The End