Disclaimer: The Sentinel and all recognizable characters belong to Pet Fly Productions and Paramount. All other characters belong to the author. I make no profit from this, just joy knowing other people are enjoying the story. I promise to return Jim, Simon, Blair, Megan, Naomi, etc., to Pet Fly in roughly the same condition that I borrowed them.
Author's Notes: This is the third story in my AU line. I originally had this on my web page but can't access that page any more to add new chapters. I have revised the story to incorporate Jim and Blair's telepathy, mild as it is currently, and have worked the story line a little more cohesively. Feedback is greatly appreciated. I look forward to hearing from all of you. Also, the character I have created here is homophobic. I personally am not but it just seemed to fit this guy. I do not mean to offend anyone with this story.
Rating: PG-13 for violence, some child abuse, bad language, and implied homosexuality (NOT explicit, and NOT one of the recurring characters).
852 Prospect Street
16 December 1998, 2:30am
Jim Ellison, Detective of Major Crimes and Sentinel of the Great City, woke from a light sleep to strange sounds in his loft. He quickly rolled out of bed, grabbed his police weapon that rested on the end table next to his bed, and headed for the stairs. From the top of the stairs, Jim could see and hear everything in the lower half of the apartment that he shared with his friend/partner and Shaman of the Great City, Blair Sandburg. Jim was a man with all five sense enhanced. He could see, hear, smell, touch, and taste things more accurately than most men. These abilities also left him vulnerable to attack if when he concentrated on one sense exclusively. That's where Blair came into the picture. Blair was an Anthropologist working on his Ph.D. He was the only one that could explain to Jim why he was experiencing things at such a heightened level. To keep Jim grounded in the present and to get him out of a 'zone-out', Blair would talk to Jim. Blair's voice was about the only thing that could bring Jim out of one.
At the top of the stairs, Jim paused and extended his enhanced hearing. He searched to hear extra heartbeats other than his own and Sandburg's. The apartment was empty except for it's two occupants. Jim replaced his gun on the nightstand and made his way downstairs and to Blair's room. Blair's bedroom door was cracked open, so Jim looked through the small opening between the French doors. Jim watched his roommate tossing and turning on his small bed. Just as Jim pushed open the door to go to Blair's side, Blair cried out as if in pain.
Jim quickly hurried to Blair's side and gently touched his arm. Blair shot straight up in his bed as if he'd been shot. Jim wasn't expecting Blair's strong reaction and just barely missed getting hit in the eye. Blair was breathing hard and fast as if he'd just been running for his life. Jim regained his balance and quietly spoke to Blair. "Sandburg, you're fine. You're in bed in the loft. I'm here and you're safe."
After a few minutes of this quiet talking, Blair's breathing began to slow. Jim listened as Blair's heartbeat also slowed to its normal rate. After another minute or so, Blair slowly raised his blue eyes to look at Jim. A slight grin crossed his lips as he told Jim, "thanks, Jim. I'm all right now. You can go back to sleep."
"Are you sure you're all right Sandburg? Your heart rate was through the roof before I woke you up. You wanna talk about the nightmare you just had?"
"I don't know where to start with the nightmare since it wasn't really that. It was more like a memory of something I wish had never happened."
"Look, why don't I go make some coffee or tea and then you can tell me about this memory that scared you so badly. I don't think you'll be falling back to sleep so easily. I know I'm up for a little bit."
"All right Jim but make it some of the tea in the cupboard. I have a bag marked with 'zz's' on it. It's good for making you just tired enough to fall back to sleep."
"Got it. Put on a sweatshirt, you're still sweaty and it's a little cool in the loft at this hour. Don't need you getting sick on top of a nightmare."
"Sure Jim, see you in a minute."
Jim smiled as he left Blair's room and headed into the kitchen area to start the water boiling. Jim searched the one cabinet that Blair kept his different tea mixes in and found the one marked with 'zz's'. He placed a couple of teaspoons within the steeper and waited while the water finished boiling. Just as the kettle started it's whistle for attention, Blair emerged from his room and headed toward the bathroom. Jim half-smiled noting that Blair not only had a sweatshirt on but an extra pair of socks and a blanket around his shoulders. By the time Blair exited the bathroom, the tea had steeped and was ready to be drunk. Jim placed a mug in front of Blair as he sat in his usual place at the island. Jim also placed a small jar of honey in front of Blair. Jim sat down on the opposite side of the island, took a sip of his tea, and calmly waited for Blair to begin.
Blair took a sip of his tea and slowly took a deep breath. He released it and wrapped his hands around his mug and slowly started his tale.
"I don't know where to begin."
"How about at the beginning, Chief?"
"I guess that's as good a place to start as any. This goes back about twenty-one years. I had just turned seven. Naomi had just met a guy that she was really hung up on. There was something about him that just made my skin crawl but Naomi couldn't get enough of him. After a couple of months of living in a commune, Naomi agreed to move in with him. He told her that the school was closer and that she could have free run of the house. I was already in school, but after they tested me, I was bumped up a full grade. I was almost a year or more younger than most of the students and since we moved a great deal, I didn't have very much in common with the other students.
"Sorry, got sidetracked there for a minute. Where was I? Oh yeah, Brett and Naomi. Brett, his name was Brett Conover; he was nuts about my mom. For about five months, nothing could keep them apart. They both worked but when they weren't busy with their jobs, then they were together all the time. Anyway, about five months into their relationship, Naomi heard about this place that was great for spiritual healing. She told Brett that she was going to go but didn't really know what to do with me. I still had three months of school left and I really didn't want to miss about a month of classes. Brett told her that he would take care of me if that would make her happy. She told him that it would be great and then she told me to be good and do what Brett said. I promised and watched her leave the next day at dawn. She left on a Wednesday and by Friday, Brett couldn't stand the sight of me. I would make him dinner and clean the house, do the dishes, do the laundry. I did everything that my mom would have done if she was there besides doing all my homework. I tried to stay out of his way. By the time Friday night rolled around, I was done with all my chores plus my homework. It was about nine p.m., so I decided to go to bed and read until I heard Brett come in. I had left a note for him that dinner was in the oven and all he had to do was warm it up. I found out the next morning that he was really drunk and wasn't seeing straight. He couldn't read my note so he yelled for me to come into the kitchen. I climbed out of bed, went into the kitchen, and asked him what the problem was. He yelled at me not to talk back to him. He told me that I was just an unwanted bastard and that my mom didn't love me. I tried to tell him that Naomi did love me but the next thing I knew was my face was stinging from being slapped. I looked at Brett and couldn't believe what he'd just done. None of Naomi's boyfriend's had ever hit me before. The next thing I knew was that Brett was pummeling me. The next-to-last thing I remember was a fist heading towards my head. I don't remember the fist connecting but I do know that I passed out. When I came to, Brett was unconscious on top of me. I had to crawl my way out from underneath him. I barely made it to my bedroom before I passed out again from the pain." Blair paused in his tale and took a long drink from his mug of tea. The tea wasn't hot but it was warm enough to feel good going into his stomach. As Blair told Jim his tale, a weight seemed to be lifting from his shoulders. This had been a secret that Blair had carried for such a long time that the memory had become a permanent part of him. The memory made up a good deal of who he had become. Blair took another drink and then another deep breath and continued on with his story.
"Anyway, the next day, Brett finally came to. There must have been some blood splattered around the room because the next thing I know, Brett is shaking me awake and wanting to know what part of my anatomy I had cut up while making dinner. I guess I had thrown the covers over my head sometime during the night because when my head peeked out from under them, I heard Brett gasp. I guess I was pretty messed up or else he remembered what he'd done just then. About an hour later, we're in the emergency room and Brett's lying through his teeth. He told them that I was his kid and that I had a minibike accident."
"What's a minibike, Chief?"
"A miniature version of a motorcycle. They used to be really popular but now only motorcycles seem to be around. I guess you could call them starter motorcycles for little kids."
"Thanks for clarifying that. Go on Chief, what happened at the hospital?"
"Brett told them that I had wrecked way out on a country path and that's why it took so long to get me to the emergency room. I had bruised ribs, my arm was broken, my face had some nasty cuts, and I had a pretty substantial concussion. They kept me overnight and Brett paid the bill in cash. When I got home the next day, Brett told me not to say a word to Naomi. He said if I did, Social Services would take me away from her, and I'd never see her again. I'd be put in foster care and be lost in the system before I knew it."
"You didn't believe that, did you Chief?"
"Yeah, I did Jim. I may have been book smart for school but I was still only seven. I loved Naomi and never wanted to be taken from her or have bad things said about her. Naomi had never hit me or let anyone else hurt. I couldn't tell her about what Brett had done because he made it seem like it was all her fault and that she had abandoned me to people she didn't hardly know.
"Anyway, Naomi came back during the week, shocked to see my face cut up and a cast on my arm. Brett gave her a similar story about him letting me go to a friend's house and getting into a minibike accident. At least he kept it mostly consistent. Naomi wanted to go over and confront this kid's parents but Brett told her that he had taken care of the problem.
"Over the next several months, Naomi would go off on her retreats. Every time she left, Brett had a field day. He would get really drunk and beat the hell out of me. He learned from the first time and he never aimed for my face again. I got about five concussions total along with broken ribs, a broken ankle once, my right shoulder was dislocated twice. He even dislocated my right kneecap once. I tried very hard to stay out of his way when he was drunk but he always found me. He blamed me for Naomi always going off on retreat. He said once that if I wasn't around, then Naomi would have to stay with him all the time.
"The last straw came about a week before school was to start again. Naomi had heard that the Dali Llama was holding audiences and she had to go. Brett hit the roof. He grabbed Naomi by the shoulders and started shaking her. He told her that she should stay by his side and not keep running off. He was her enlightenment. She told him to let go of her because he was hurting her. Brett wouldn't stop shaking her. He kept yelling at her that she was staying. Being the little kid that I was, I couldn't stand to see Naomi cry. I yelled at Brett to leave her alone. He shook her again and said that it was my fault that she left all the time. If I wasn't around then she would stay. I said that's not true and grabbed a hold of his arm. I kept trying to yank it loose so that Naomi might have a chance to get away from him. Brett did let go of Naomi but only to throw me off of him. Only problem was, when he shook me off, I went flying backwards. I hit this little end table he had against the wall with my back and shoulder. I also hit my head pretty hard against the brick wall. The little table broke and I passed out from hitting my head. From what Naomi told me, Brett flew into a rage and started for me. Naomi grabbed one of his big flower vases and smashed it over his head. She made sure that he was out, checked on my and then grabbed as much of our stuff together that she could. She carried me out to the car, laid me on the back seat, threw our stuff in the trunk, and took off. She said she didn't stop until we were out of the state. Then she took me to the emergency room at the nearest hospital. Turned out, she had driven from the Texas border, all the way to the border of California. I had a concussion again; my shoulder had a big cut as well as my back. It took twenty-five stitches to close up my back and shoulder and they kept me for two days because of the concussion. I never told Naomi what Brett had done to me all those times she had gone on retreat. I was still scared that the State would take me away from her. As I got older, it all started to seem like a very bad dream. When I started college at fifteen and a half, the State didn't say anything about Naomi being a bad parent. I figured that I was safe and so was she. To this day, I still haven't told her about Brett."
"Chief, I understand why you didn't say anything to Naomi about this Brett character and what he was doing to you. If I remember right, Social Services weren't too picky about taking a child away from his parent back then. Single parenting is tough now so it had to be five times worse back then. The dream you were having, was Brett beating you up?"
"Yeah, I was dreaming about the first time he'd ever hit me. I haven't dreamed that in years and all of a sudden, there it is."
"Well, try to remember this, I won't let anything happen to you as long as I'm in the area. Besides we have that telepathic call. If you get into trouble, just send out a call to me and I'll get to where ever you are as fast as I can. Got it?"
"Got it, Jim. Thanks for listening. I think telling that story was a long time in coming."
"No problem, what else are friends for. Now as your friend and partner, why don't we both hit the sack? I have to be at the office by eight and its three-fifteen right now."
"Yeah, I think the tea did the trick. Night Jim, see you in the morning," Blair said as he headed back into his bedroom.
"Night Chief. Pleasant dreams," Jim said as he placed both empty mugs in the sink. He headed toward the stairs but paused to listen as Blair spread the blanket back on the bed and then crawled under the covers. By the time Jim had crawled back under his own covers, Blair's breathing and heartbeat had slowed down to the patterns of deep sleep. Jim smiled and slowly drifted off to sleep himself.
852 Prospect Street
16 December 1998, 7:45am
Jim had just finished his first cup of coffee for the day, when Blair emerged from his bedroom. He was adjusting his flannel shirt as he walked into the kitchen. Jim placed a steaming cup of coffee in front of him and asked, "so what's your schedule like today Chief?"
"I've got classes until three p.m. and then I have a student coming over here about three-thirty p.m. We should be done within a half hour after that, so if you need me for something, I'll be ready to go."
"Nothing in the works yet Chief. Just wanted to know if I could expect you at the precinct today. I should be home sometime after four myself, so I'll see you then. Give me a call if you have any problems."
"Sure Jim. See you tonight," Blair said as he grabbed his coat off the coat tree and his backpack off the floor.
"See ya tonight Chief."
Cascade Police Station Major Crimes Offices 16 December 1998 3:00pm
Captain Simon Banks closed the file he had been looking over. He had wrestled with himself all day as to who should be assigned to the new case. Approximately two minutes ago, he had finally decided to give the case to his best team. Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg just happened to be that team. Even though Blair was not an officer or detective, the young man had proven himself over and over as being very capable of handling any situation that he stumbled into.
Simon looked out of his office window and saw Jim Ellison staring off into space. He looked around for Jim's young partner and realized that he hadn't seen him at all today. He finally stood, walked over to his door, cracked it open and hollered, "Ellison, my office."
Jim looked up startled. He hadn't realized that he'd been staring off into space for a good ten minutes. He glanced towards the captain's office door, noted that Simon was still staring at him, stood, and headed towards his captain.
As Jim neared the door, Simon turned and went over to his coffee maker and poured both Jim and himself a cup of coffee. As Jim entered, Simon said, "shut the door Jim."
Jim shut the door to his captain's office and headed for the chair in front of the desk. Simon handed Jim the mug and sat down behind his desk while Jim accepted the mug and seated himself. Both Simon and Jim took deep drinks from their respective mugs and then sat them on the desk. Simon sighed slightly and began.
"So, where's your shadow Jim?"
"Classes all day, sir. He'll be home around three but has a student coming over at three-thirty for some counseling. He said they should be done by four and can help me with anything that happens to come up today. Is that why you called me in, sir?"
"Yes, it is. I was hoping Sandburg would be here so I could brief you together but I guess you'll have to do it tonight. This case was handed down to us from Vice and Homicide. It started out just in Vice but since two murdered dealers have been found, it was decided to be transferred to us. It seems Vice is looking into a new drug dealer who also seems to want to take over the entire drug trade here in Cascade. Both Homicide and Vice can't prove it but they feel that this new dealer is the one killing the other dealers. They want my best team on it and that's you and Sandburg."
"How long has this new dealer been in town, sir?"
"About three to four weeks as much as they can tell. The only description they have of him is that he's male, approximately mid-to-late forty's, curly brown hair always tied back in a ponytail. Some of the other dealers, who have talked to Vice, say that he's got a hell of a temper and he wears a fancy signet ring. Dan down in the coroner's office has added a photo from one of the bodies into the file."
Jim flipped open the file and searched until he found the photo of the impression that the signet ring had left on the first drug dealer. Jim used his Sentinel sight to get a clearer image of the ring and noted the minute detail that couldn't be seen by normal sight.
"Looks like a very special design. I'll show Sandburg, maybe he can do some digging and come up with an organization that uses the design."
"Great. That's all I needed. Why don't you call it a day and head on home. Maybe Sandburg's student will be a no show since it's close to holidays."
"Thanks Simon. Blair hasn't been sleeping real well so I was hoping that we wouldn't have too much to do tonight. Some research shouldn't be all that taxiing on him."
"What's wrong Jim? What's got him restless?"
"He's been having some nightmares lately. At first, I thought they might be work related but this morning, I heard him crying out. I woke him and after a bit he told me that one of Naomi's many 'loves' used to beat him and threatened him."
"Threatened him? How?"
"By telling Family Welfare that Naomi was leaving him with strangers for great lengths of time. The kid was only seven so of course, he believes the guy and never says a word to Naomi."
"So why did Naomi finally leave this guy?"
"According to Blair, Naomi was going on a weekend retreat or something like that, anyway, the guy objected and started shaking Naomi. Blair decided to be brave and play protector of his Mom launched himself at the guy. The guy, Brett's his name, threw Blair across the room. That was the last straw for Naomi, she knocked him out with a lamp, I think. She then got Blair into their car and drove until they were in California. She then took him to the emergency room and got him fixed up."
"Damn, poor kid. How did he turn out so well considering how he grew up?"
"I don't know Simon but it explains a great deal of why he hides things from me."
"Hides things from you? Like what?"
"A couple of times, he's been hurt mildly while helping me. You know bumps, bruises. Remember when we were escorting Quinn and his people helped him escape into the woods with you?"
"That's one time, I would love to forget. Yeah, I remember that Blair got shot but he really held himself together."
"What you didn't know, sir, was that we had both jumped off a cliff overlooking a waterfall. Blair whacked his head pretty good on some rocks. I didn't even know he was hurt until he finally told me that his head was killing him. Before you say it Simon, yes he did tell me only after stumbling around after me for about three more hours after our mad jump. He should have told me about the head injury as soon as we got out of the water."
"Maybe you had other concerns on your mind at the time, Jim. I've seen you Jim, you get one thought in your head, and it seems to exclude everything else. I'm not saying that's bad but it can be like one of those 'zone outs' Blair's always talking about. Maybe you were so focused on finding me, that you did register Sandburg's injury but relegated it to the back of your mind until something reminded you to check into it. I think Sandburg understands that part of your life. It's what makes you such a good cop."
"I don't know Simon, you may be right but I wish I could be better at noticing when Sandburg's having problems."
"You notice Jim, you just have to learn to have it more to the front of your mind and not always shove it to the back. Now get out of here. It's almost three-forty so Sandburg should be done with his student by the time you get home."
"I'm gone, sir." Jim rose and headed for the door. Just before he opened it, he turned back to his captain and friend. "Uh Simon, thanks for the advice and thanks for listening."
"Not a problem Jim. What else am I for? See you in the morning."
"Good night, sir." Jim then headed out the door and over to his desk. Taking the file and grabbing his coat, Jim Ellison headed home. He decided to get some Thai food for dinner and stopped off at his and Blair's favorite restaurant for take-out.
852 Prospect Street
16 December 1998, 3:15pm
Blair Sandburg rushed into the apartment. He was way behind thanks to his car being difficult again. After the holidays, he was going to have to have it overhauled again. He went into his room to quickly change clothes. If Blair had been paying attention and not so rushed, he would have noticed his answering machine blinking that he had one message. Blair never noticed the machine as he rushed back out of his room and got ready for his brief counseling session.
About ten minutes later, there was a knock at the door. Blair opened the door expecting to see his student. His smiled turned to a frown and then to fear as recognition of the man who stood at his door. All thoughts left his head and his mind reverted to when Blair was seven years old. Without shutting the door, Blair began backing up from the man. The man smiled evilly, stepped through the doorway, and shut the door behind him.
Turning back to Blair, the man leered at the young man and finally said, "well, it's good to see that you remember me boy! Be a good boy and tell me where Naomi is."
"Uh...uh..." was all that came from Blair.
"Well, say something Brat or do I have to beat it out of you?"
"Yes boy, it's me. Now where's Naomi?"
"No," Blair said at a bare whisper.
"What did you say boy? Did I hear you defy me? You remember what happens when you defy me?"
"No," Blair whispered again and backed up another step. Blair's mind was gone. All he could think of was not to tell Brett where Naomi was. At the moment, he couldn't even really remember for sure where she was. Blair's eyes widened as Brett raised his fist and stepped closer to Blair. He watched as the fist was pulled back and then was hurtling towards his head.
Blair's head snapped back with the force of the blow. The head blow was followed with a fist to the stomach. Blair's head flung forward as he doubled over. A third blow sent him to the floor. Blair desperately tried to breathe. The second blow had knocked most of the wind out of him. He could hear Brett laughing at him and listened while Brett spoke.
"Never could take a punch. Dumb kid, never did as I told ya. Always had to defy me. Couldn't just do as you were told. Well, you're grown up now and you better do as I say now or you're a dead man." Brett stopped talking long enough to kick Blair in the stomach a few times. On the third kick, Blair felt one of his ribs give way. He tried to scream, but the next thing he knew a vicious kick to his back found him. A few more kicks occurred and then suddenly Blair was lifted up from the ground by his shirtfront. Brett shook Blair and said, "where's Naomi brat? Tell me or you're going to regret it."
"All ready do...don't know where...she is...honest."
"Well, she wouldn't go without telling you so you've got to know. Maybe I can jog your memory..."
Blair tried to prepare himself for the next blow but it still caught him unawares. Brett had been moving the whole time that Blair was being held. Now Blair felt his back and head connect with the brick wall of the fireplace. Brett slammed him into the wall two to three times and smiled with glee as more groans escaped Blair. Brett finally let Blair go and watched as he slumped bonelessly to the floor. Brett was amazed to see Blair struggle to lean upright. He wanted Blair to remember this intimidating moment so that the next time he came to see Blair, all the brat would do would be to tell him where Naomi was. When he found her, his life would be complete.
While Blair struggled to get himself upright, he tried to think of anything other than the pain. His back, stomach, face, and head ached tremendously. He wanted to just go to sleep but he knew that he couldn't. Something that someone had told him. A familiar face popped into his head but Blair couldn't connect a name with the face. He knew the person attached to the face cared and worried about him. Blair found himself wishing that the person was here right now to make the pain go away. Blair's eyes started to travel up from the ground as he became aware of the other person in the room. As his unfocused eyes reached the face of the other occupant of the room, Blair mumbled, "Jim?"
Brett glared down at Blair. He couldn't believe what the boy had just said. The boy believed him to be his lover or something. He should have figured that the boy would have turned out gay. Brett was so angered that he brought his foot back and kicked savagely at Blair's supporting arm. Brett smiled as he heard a clear snap of bone and saw Blair slump back to the floor unconscious. Blair was still alive... and Brett was pleased with himself. The cordless phone on the end table began to ring as Brett turned to the open door to leave the loft. He grinned and thought, 'can't come to the phone right now since the boy's not even awake.'
16 December 1998, 3:23pm
Jim Ellison had just pulled into the parking lot of his and Blair's favorite Thai restaurant. As he started to shut down the engine, Jim had the strangest feeling that he should just head home. He tried to understand where the feeling was coming from but he couldn't seem to lock on to it. Jim finally decided to try to mentally contact Blair through their telepathic rapport.
As Jim sent his mind out to try to reach Blair, the feeling slowly emerged of a sore stomach and a mild headache. Jim shook his head to try to rid himself of the mild pain but had no luck. He tried a little harder to reach Blair's mind and the headache doubled in intensity. Jim's back and ribs also began to hurt. He searched his mind to find the pain dials that Blair had taught him to use to decrease pain or increase the level of one or all of his enhanced senses. Finally finding the dial and resetting the level down a few notches, Jim was able to think a bit more clearly. Jim pulled out his cellphone and hit speed dial one to ring the loft number. Just as his finger pressed the number '1', Jim's whole arm cramped and felt like something had kicked him extremely hard. Jim gasped loudly and quickly switched the phone to his other hand. The loft phone rang once and then a second time without Blair picking up. By the third ring, Jim had restarted his truck and was backing out of the Thai restaurant. On the fourth ring, the answering machine picked up. Jim was halfway back to the loft and listening intently until the outgoing message finished. As soon as the message ended, Jim called, "Sandburg, if you're there pick up." Jim held his breath for a heartbeat but Blair didn't pick up the phone. Jim continued, "Sandburg, I'm on my way home. I should be there in about three minutes or less. Pick up the phone, Sandburg."
For the next two-and-one-half minutes, Jim continuously asked Blair to pick up the phone. Finally, the parking lot came into view along with Blair's classic Volvo. The space next to the car was available and Jim quickly pulled into the spot. Jim jumped out of his pickup and raced up the stairs to the apartment that he and Blair shared. He had his housekey ready as he stepped onto the landing of his floor. Jim rushed down to his door and without thinking, quickly extended his senses to see if Blair was by himself in the loft or if someone other than Blair was in there also. Finding only one heartbeat, slow and slightly irregular, Jim finally entered his home, gun drawn.
The first thing Jim noticed was the smell. The odor of blood, sweat, and fear were all mixed together with Blair's normal body scent. Jim sniffed again and followed his nose to behind the couch. Just before he rounded the back of the couch, Jim caught a flash of blue out of the corner of his eye. Jim stepped behind the couch and knelt down next to his unconscious friend. Being careful not to jar Blair in any way, Jim gently laid two fingers on Blair's carotid artery and found a weak and slightly irregular pulse. Jim released the breath that he didn't realize that he had been holding in.
Jim pulled out his cellphone and dialed 911 and asked for an ambulance to be sent to the loft. After he disconnected from the first call, Jim quickly dialed his captain's number.
"Simon, it's Jim. I need a forensic unit to come over to the loft."
"Someone came in and beat the hell out of Sandburg. I've got an ambulance on the way. I'm pretty sure, he'll live but I don't know the extent of his injuries."
"You got it Jim. I'll be there in about five minutes. Is the kid awake?"
"No, not at the moment and that might be a good thing. He's got a cracked or broken rib and a broken arm."
"I'm on my way Jim. See you soon."
Jim put his cell phone away and stepped into the bathroom. He emerged with a warm, damp washcloth and a dry cloth. Jim knelt down next to Blair and used the dry cloth to wipe away the blood that oozed out of the cut above Blair's right eye. After wiping the blood away, Jim placed another clean gauze square over the cut and taped it in place. Jim next gently ran his hand along Sandburg's spine. He breathed a sigh of relief when he found no injury to the spine.
Jim was checking Blair's arm when he heard sirens in the distance. Jim had moved on to Blair's legs when he heard running footsteps towards his door. Jim smelled the distinct odor of Simon's cigars and yelled to Simon that the door was open. Simon, followed by Joel Taggert and Megan Connor, entered the loft quickly. Megan gasped when she saw Blair's condition. Joel swore and gently placed his arm around Megan as they watched Jim checking Blair.
Simon knelt down next to Jim and asked, "what can I do to help?"
"Could you get me another gauze from the bathroom? He's got a cut above his eye that's bleeding freely. Looks like he's going to be needing stitches."
Simon nodded and left to get the gauze and something to wipe the excess blood away. Meanwhile, Joel and Megan had begun searching the loft for clues as to who would do this to their friend. Jim was aware of their search as he was also aware of the second siren approaching the loft. Suddenly, a groan was heard from the floor. Jim leaned down closer to Blair and whispered, "easy Blair."
"Jim?" a whispered voice asked.
"Yeah, it's me. Don't try to move, you've got a broken arm and probably a concussion."
"That's... why... my... head... hurts..." Blair's voice hitched at each intake of breath. "Why... does... it..."
"Don't try to talk. Just take slow shallow breaths. I think you've got a cracked or broken rib and it's probably pressing on your lung. You've had cracked ribs before so just take it easy." Jim slowly ran his hand over Blair's hair and head in a soothing manner. After a few strokes, Jim felt Blair start to relax.
All four people in the loft heard the ambulance pull up outside and Megan went to guide the paramedics up to where Blair still laid on the floor.
"Sandburg, the paramedics are here. They'll take care of you on the way to the hospital."
"No! Please... Jim! No... hospital! I'll be... good. Do as... you say. Please...!"
"Sorry Chief, but you need your rib taped at least. Your arm's broken and needs set..."
"You do... it! Please Jim... no hospital!"
"Shh, I won't leave you but you need the care of a good doctor before I can watch you. Come on now. Calm down. That's it. Nice slow breathes. I know you're scared but it'll be all right, I promise."
Blair nodded ever so slightly and Jim moved aside to let the paramedics see to his injured partner. Both paramedics were efficient yet gentle with Blair. Although went the first paramedic went to check Sandburg's pupils, a scream escaped from Blair.
"What the hell? What did you people do?" Jim bellowed.
"Just a check of his pupils. His eyes are extremely light sensitive. Has he opened his eyes since he's come around?"
"No but I thought it had to do with the head injury. I thought he might be dizzy and was trying to keep the side affects to a minimum."
"Well, from what I can see from that brief glimpse, your partner's got one hell of a concussion." Turning to his partner, the paramedic said, "call it in that the pupils are fully dilated and patient is extremely light sensitive. Pulse is ninety; respiration is shallow but rapid. Blood pressure is one-forty over ninety. Patient is in great pain."
The second paramedic relayed the information to the hospital and was advised to start an IV and transport the patient as soon as possible. The two men started the IV and finally loaded Blair onto the stretcher for transport. As Blair was being wheeled out of the loft, he softly called out, "you promised... not to... leave me... alone, Jim."
Jim looked at Blair and then at Simon, who said, "go with your partner Jim. We'll finish here and I'll see you down at the hospital. Take care of the kid."
"Will do, sir and thanks." Jim turned and quickly followed the gurney out the door and down to the waiting ambulance.
Simon shook his head and then turned back to the matter at hand. Joel came over and said, "forensics is dusting for prints right now. Hopefully, we'll find some hair or fibers that will help find out who did this to the kid. Sure he'll be all right Simon? He didn't look to hot and that scream scared me to death."
"Scared me too. I didn't know his voice could get that high. Jim says that his eyes are extremely light sensitive but should clear up as his concussion fades away. From the looks of the fight/beating, it seems to have been contained to the living room. You didn't find anything missing or damaged, did you?"
"Nothing missing that I can tell. Sandburg's room is a mess but it could be like that all the time. Why don't you head on down to the hospital and wait with Jim? You know that the docs aren't going to let Jim stay in the ER while they work on the kid."
"I know that but do you think the Doctors actually know that?"
Joel laughed and shook his head. "No I don't think they do. Go on Simon, Megan and I can oversee this and then come down and wait with you and Jim."
"Thanks Joel. I'll see you and Megan later. I'll also call Rhonda to let the others know how Sandburg is."
"See ya Simon."
Megan watched quietly as Simon left. She sent up a prayer for Sandburg's recovery and Jim and Simon's sanity. She then turned back to her work.
Cascade General Hospital
Trauma Room 3
16 December 1998, 4:30pm
Jim Ellison paced on the far side of the room as the young trauma room team worked on his partner. He continuously heard Sandburg murmuring about how much the light hurt his eyes, how much it hurt to breathe, how much his arm hurt and ask where was Jim. The more Sandburg begged to be left alone and for the pain to stop, the faster Ellison paced. He had promised Sandburg that he wouldn't leave him alone and it had taken a great deal of talking to be able to stay in the room while Sandburg was being worked on.
Finally, Ellison heard the doctor say something about taking a X-ray. Jim's head snapped around and looked at the doctor. The young doctor walked over to Ellison and began, "Detective Ellison, we're taking Mr. Sandburg to Radiology. We will X-ray his arm and ribcage to determine how severe the breaks are. We're also going to take a series of skull X-rays to determine if his skull is fractured. The cut above his eye required ten sutures but it shouldn't leave a scar. He does have a concussion although it's not as bad as it could've been. He'll definitely be staying overnight and depending upon how the night goes will determine if he can go home tomorrow afternoon or be spending another night with us. When the X-rays are developed, we'll determine if he'll need surgery for the broken arm. If it's a simple fracture, then we'll set it and place it in a cast. Depending upon how the break is will also mean if he'll need physical therapy or not. The ribs are definitely bruised, the X-ray will determine if and how many are either broken or fractured. If any are broken or fractured, then Mr. Sandburg will have his ribs taped for the next few weeks. Do you have any questions?"
"What about the light sensitivity Sandburg is displaying? Will that clear up as his concussion clears?"
"I believe so. We'll just have to wait and see how it goes in the morning. I suspect after a few days rest, Mr. Sandburg should be pretty much his old self with the exception of his broken bones."
"Good. Will it be all right if I stay with him tonight? We don't know if the person that attacked him will try again while he's here."
"It's against hospital policy but as long as you don't interfere with the procedures throughout the night and as long as you get some rest also, I don't have a problem with you staying. Why don't you go and wait in the lounge? I'll have a nurse let you know when he's settled in his room for the night."
"I promised Sandburg that I wouldn't leave him..."
"Well, he'll be in X-ray for another few minutes at least. Why don't you go get a cup of coffee and relax for those few minutes? We'll let you know when he's back down here, all right?"
"All right, but I'll know when he's back here on my own. I'll see you in a few."
The doctor nodded and left Jim alone. Jim stood in place listening as Sandburg was wheeled into Radiology. Blair's breathing had slowed down to a much more acceptable rate and Jim hoped that Blair would relax even more as the evening and night wore on. Taking a deep breath, Jim finally walked out of the treatment room and headed for the lounge. He smelled Simon's cigar and Megan's perfume from earlier in the day. Joel's after shave also lingered in the air and Jim smiled realizing that they were all worried about his partner.
Jim walked into the lounge and over to his friends. They all started asking questions at the same time and Jim held up his hands to quiet them. Jim finally said, "Sandburg's going to be okay. He's in X-ray now to find out how bad his arm is broken along with his ribs. They're also going to make sure he doesn't have a skull fracture. The doctor put ten stitches in his head but said there shouldn't be a scar. He's got a concussion and that's what's causing his sensitivity to light. The doctor said that should diminish as his concussion clears up. Depending on how he makes it through the night will determine if he goes home tomorrow afternoon. I'm staying the night with him Simon. I promised him in the loft that I wouldn't leave him alone."
"No problem Jim. I'll stop by the loft and bring by some clothes for both you and Sandburg. Did he say who did this or why?"
"He kept coming in and out on the way here but he kept mumbling the name 'Brett'. I think it was the same guy I told you about from when he was a kid. I also think we have a connection to the new case you just gave."
"Oh, how so?"
"Well, the deceased dealers had an impression of a ring on some part of their bodies. Sandburg has the same impression on his ribcage. I think Blair's 'Brett' is our new deadly dealer."
"Great, so what do you propose we do about this sonofabitch that beat up Sandburg?" Joel asked.
"Well, I'll have to confirm it with Sandburg but I need to know what this guy wanted before I make any plans to stop this guy."
"Jim, is there anything that we can do for you or Sandy tonight?"
"Not right now Connor but maybe tomorrow you can visit him. I'll let him know that you're thinking about him."
Megan smiled and squeezed Jim's arm lightly. Joel nodded and so did Simon.
Jim turned his head and smiled ruefully. He thought to himself, 'well, so much for a nice hot cup of coffee.'
Megan noticed his small smile and asked, "what is it Jim?"
"Blair's back from X-ray. I better get back in there before he realizes I'm gone. See you in the morning," Jim said and then turned and headed back towards Blair's room.
Concluded in Part Two...