New Arrivals

Blair's Memories
Part Two
by Drifter

See notes and disclaimers on part one.

Cascade General Hospital
Room 425
16 December 1998, 6:15pm

Jim Ellison stood in the corner nearest the door to his young partner's room. It had taken almost two hours to get his arm set and his ribs taped. The arm was compounded but no surgery was necessary to set the bones. He had two broken ribs; one hairline fractured rib and seven bruised ribs. The best news for Jim was that Blair did not have a skull fracture. His concussion was bad but not severe.

The nurse was finishing with her final checks while Sandburg lay quietly in the bed. The nurse made her last adjustments to Blair's IV, smiled down at her newest charge, and turned to leave the room. On her way past Ellison, she again smiled and left the room.

Jim watched Blair for a moment before finally moving over to the chair near the bed. As Jim sat, Blair slightly turned his head towards Jim and whispered, "I thought she'd never leave."

Jim half-smiled and said softly, "I know what you mean. Nurses are nice but sometimes... So you feel up to talking for a bit?"

"Just as long as I don't have to open my eyes too much. I wish it wasn't so bright in here."

"It's not that bright, it's just that your eyes are going to be light-sensitive for a couple of days. You took a good knock to the head. You wanna tell me what happened?"

"Okay. I had just gotten home and was running around trying to get everything gathered up for my tutorial. Someone knocked on the door and I thought it was my student. That's who I was expecting to see when I opened the door."

"If it wasn't your student, who was it?"

"Brett. You know I could have lived the rest of my life without seeing his face again but there he was. I was in shock Jim. I was also scared out of my mind. I couldn't talk or move. Next thing I know, he walks around me and into the loft." Blair let a shudder ripple through him and Jim lightly touched his shoulder. Blair cracked an eye and looked at Jim. "I couldn't understand what he was doing here Jim. I finally stammered out his name and he almost smiled to see that I remembered him. He wanted to know where Naomi was. I told him I didn't know. He said that I should know since Naomi never went anywhere without telling me. I told him that I didn't know and that I was telling him the truth. I guess he still didn't believe me. He grabbed my shirt and started hitting me and shoving me around the living room. He finally lifted me up and banged me against the brick wall of the fireplace a couple of times. When he let go, I fell to the floor. I started to get up and I think I tried to call to you but the next thing I knew was waking up with you, Simon, and the others. Did I miss much?"

"No but I did try to contact you. All I got for my trouble was a headache. Chief, does Brett wear a signet ring of some sort?"

"Yeah, he had one when I was a kid. It was Celtic in design, that's why I remember it. I always thought it was neat looking. That is, until he hit me in the stomach with it. I had a bruise on my stomach that looked like his ring for about two weeks. Naomi came back from her retreat about three days after it totally faded. She never knew that I was hurt. Jim, you're not going to call her, are you?"

"I don't know Chief. She does have a right to know what's going on. Why does Brett want to know where your mom is?"

"I don't know but it might have to do with the idea that if she's in his life no wrong can befall him. Some tribes believe that certain females within the tribe bring good luck. I think Brett feels Naomi will bring him very good luck. Why'd you want to know about the ring Jim?"

"It has to do with the new case. A couple of dealers have turned up dead and they've each had an impression of some sort of ring on their body."

"Do you have a picture of the impression?"

"Sure Chief." Jim pulled the file out of his coat and took out one of the pictures. "This is the picture with the best impression of the ring."

Blair looked at the picture long and hard and then drew in a short, sharp breath. He squeezed his eyes shut at the pain the emanated from his abused ribcage.

Jim was on his feet in a flash, quietly murmuring to Blair, "take it easy. Slow breaths. That's it, slow down. The pain should be easing up. Calmly breathe in and out." The whole time, Jim was brushing his hand through Sandburg's hair in a soothing motion.

After a few minutes, Blair finally was calm enough to crack open his one eye again. "Sorry man, just wasn't expecting to see that shape again on a dead body. What are you going to do?"

"Well, we need to get you well and then we'll see about arresting 'Brett'. I'd like to get him for the murders of these dealers and with drugs in his possession. Do you think Naomi would be willing to help?"

"No way man. I am NOT asking Naomi to risk her life around this crazy guy again. Once was enough."

"Settle down Chief. I was just asking." Jim turned thoughtful and then said, "Connor could pass for Naomi. You could say that she finally let her hair grow out."

"Are you sure Jim? I don't want to put Connor in danger. Brett's crazy and he just may hurt her to punish me for lying to him about where Naomi is."

"Not if we do this right. Look, why don't you get some sleep and let me think on this for the night. Hopefully by tomorrow morning, I'll have an idea of what to do about this guy. Come on now; close that eye of yours. You look like you're about ready to fall asleep anyway."

Blair's eye slowly closed and he snuggled further down on the bed. Jim made sure that the IV line wasn't tangled in the bedclothes. He sighed as Blair's breathing settled into a restful and healing sleep. Jim hoped that by morning, his young friend would be well enough to go home.

Cascade General Hospital
Fourth Floor Waiting Room
16 December 1998, 11:45pm

Simon Banks glanced up from his paperwork to see his friend, Jim Ellison enter the room. Jim had that faraway look of a man lost in thought. Simon put his papers down and stood up. He walked over to Jim and said, "well, how's the kid?"

Jim was startled to see his boss in front of him. He was even more startled to find that the rest of Major Crimes was still in the waiting room. He acknowledged them with a nod of his head. He took a deep breath and said, "Sandburg's going to be okay. His arm was set and is now in a plaster cast. He's got a couple of broken ribs, one fractured and seven more bruised ribs. He's got a bad concussion but no skull fracture. All-in-all, if he gets enough rest tonight, he should be able to go home tomorrow afternoon."

"Did Sandburg say who did this? Did he confirmed your suspicions?"

"Yes, sir, it was Brett. He also confirmed that the ring belongs to Brett and that verifies that Brett is the new dealer who's getting rid of his competition."

"Great. Any idea why this Brett beat the hell out of Sandburg?"

"Yes, sir. According to Blair, Brett wants Naomi at his side. Something about thinking that Naomi will bring him good luck."

"Good luck? After attacking Sandy, the only luck he's going to get is that we don't hurt him."

"You're right there Megan, but how do we catch this guy?" Rafe asked sincerely.

"I've got an idea but it's not all thought through yet. I did ask Sandburg if Naomi would be willing to help us and he got really upset about the idea."

"I don't blame him there. If this guy is after his mom then I wouldn't want her anywhere near this state," Henri Brown said.

"Look, why don't all of you go on home. I'm staying the night and will let you know what I come up with in the morning. I'll let Blair know that you're all thinking about him."

"Good idea Jim. I'll be back in the morning with some coffee for you and some clothes for both of you. Hopefully he'll be back in his own bed by tomorrow night."

"Thanks Simon. See you all tomorrow. Good night," Jim said as he turned and headed back towards Blair's room and a long night of thinking.

Cascade General Hospital
Room 425
17 December 1998, 8:15am

Blair Sandburg rolled over and stretched. Almost immediately he regretted the action. His back, ribs and arm hurt. His headache had receded to a dull throb and the light wasn't spiking into his brain any longer. He slowly looked around his room and came upon the grinning face of his friend and roommate, Jim Ellison. He smiled back at Jim and said, "hey."

"Hey yourself. Feeling any better?"

"Yeah, a little. The light doesn't hurt as much anymore but man am I sore."

"That's understandable. You look a bit better than yesterday afternoon. You feel up to eating anything?"

"Yeah. Can I have my algae shake?"

"Somehow I don't think the doctors or nurses would appreciate seeing that concoction. Why don't you eat what they give you this morning and maybe you can go home before the lunch trays come around."

"If I have to but I am so not into hospital food." Blair took a small breath and found that it didn't hurt as bad as it had the night before. "So did you decide what you're going to do about Brett?"

"I think so. We're going to use Connor as your mom. We're going to need you too, if you're up to it."

"What are you planning Jim?"

"Well, since Brett is so insistent that he get your mom by his side, we're going to lure him out to a meeting. You're going to contact him and tell him that Naomi will meet him at a certain address. If he wants her by his side, she wants to know and see exactly what he is doing for a business to support her in the style that she's become accustomed to."

"You mean, lure him to the spot and have him have the drugs he sells on him? Great idea, only I don't know where he is or how to get in contact with him."

"So, the plans not perfect but we'll get it all figured out by tomorrow. If the doctor lets you out today, then we go home, and Simon, Connor, Taggert, Rafe, and Brown come over to the loft and we make finally preps and contingency plans."

"Okay, so when does the doctor get here so I can go home. I sooooo hate hospitals."

"I know. He said he should be making his rounds around nine a.m. so anytime soon. Do you want to sit up a bit more?"

"Yeah man, thanks," Blair said as Jim raised the head of the bed.

Just then the nurse opened the door and brought in Blair's breakfast tray. She smiled to see him sitting up and very alert. "Well, good morning Mr. Sandburg. How are you feeling?"

"Better than yesterday, thanks."

"Great. Well, I've brought you the breakfast tray and expect to see it cleared by the time I come back. I'll see you in a bit." She smiled and then left the room after putting the tray on the over-the-bed-table.

Blair eyed the covered tray and then glanced over at Jim. Cautiously, Blair took the lid off the tray. He found a cup of coffee, a cup of tea, a cup of orange juice, and a small bowl of Cream of Wheat. Blair grimaced and then looked at Jim again stating, "they've got to be kidding? I can't drink all of this in under ten minutes."

Jim laughed and took pity on Blair. "Tell ya what, you eat the Cream of Wheat and the tea and I'll drink the coffee and OJ. All right with you?"

"All right but I have to warn you, I've always hated Cream of Wheat. Why couldn't they have brought me toast or something?" Blair said as he reached for the bowl.

Half an hour later, the bowl and all cups were empty. The nurse came back with a smile on her face as she noted the clean tray. She made a note on his chart and then left with the tray.

At nine-fifteen, the doctor came in. He looked over Blair's chart and then walked to the head of the bed. He cleared his throat and smiled down at Blair.

"Mr. Sandburg, how are you feeling this morning?"

"Not too bad. Can I go home now?"

The doctor laughed and said, "right to the point. Well, let me check you out and see how things are healing. Can you sit up for me?"

Blair sat up slowly with Jim's assistance. He breathed when the doctor asked him to and basically had a thorough check up. The doctor made some 'hmm' sounds and finally told Blair that he could lay back down. He then wrote a bit in Blair's chart.

"Well, if you can follow some rules and come back to see me in three days, I'll let you go home."

"Great! Jim where are my clothes."

"Not so fast Mr. Sandburg. First, you have to rest. I want you on bed rest for the next day or so. You still have a mild concussion but Mr. Ellison informs me that he was a medic in the Army and knows the symptoms to watch out for. Second, do not get your stitches wet. I know it'll be difficult but I'm sure Mr. Ellison can assist you in that department as well. Also, don't get your cast wet.

"If I release you into Mr. Ellison's care, do you think that you can follow these few rules?"

"Yes, I believe so. Can I go home now?"

The doctor smiled and shook his head. "He certainly has a one-track mind. All right Mr. Sandburg, I'll start the paperwork to get you out of here. It should take about an hour, so rest until then."

Turning to Jim, the doctor said, "call me if you have any problems or questions." The doctor handed Jim his business card with his home and office number on it.

Jim accepted the card with a handshake and said, "thanks, doctor, for everything you've done for Blair."

"It's my job Detective but it's up to you to keep him out of trouble."

"I'll do my best doctor and thanks again."

With a final wave of his hand, the doctor turned and left the room. Jim turned back to Sandburg and said, "well, in an hour, we'll be back at the loft. Simon said he'd be by this morning with some clothes for both of us, so he should be here anytime." Jim paused and sniffed the air. He grinned and looked at Sandburg. Blair gazed at him and mind spoke to Jim, 'what do you smell Jim?'

'Just Simon. His cigars give him away every single time to me.'

'He'll quit smoking one day and then how will you recognize him?'

'By his heartbeat. Your heartbeat is slightly different than Simon's or even Connor's.'

'Wow, I didn't realize that you could distinguish between individual heartbeats. That's fantastic.'

'Hold your horses Chief. We're not going to be testing this little theory. Suffice to say that I can do it and we'll just keep it between us. Just like the telepathy, okay?'

'Okay but it's still neat.'

'Yeah, it is. By the way, Connor's with Simon. She was real upset about you being hurt yesterday.'

'Gee, I didn't know anyone worried that much about me. Kinda nice.'

There was a light knock on the door and then Simon and Megan walked into Blair's hospital room. Simon and Megan both smiled down at Blair and started to talk at the same time. Finally after two false starts by both parties, Simon finally said, "well, Sandburg, you're looking better than when we saw you last night. How're you feeling?"

"Better Simon. The doctor's letting me out of here in an hour."

"Then it's good that we brought these." Simon handed Jim a duffel bag with a change of clothes for both Jim and Blair.

"Thanks Simon. If you three will excuse me, I'll go change. I'll help you when I get back Sandburg. Stay put!"

"We'll keep an eye on him, Jim," Megan said. She then turned on a winning smile just for Blair. "How're you really feeling Sandy? Is there anything we can do?"

"Like what Megan? The doctor's letting me out in an hour and Jim'll take me back to the loft. Is there a problem with the loft? Was anything broken or damaged?"

"Settle down Sandburg. Nothing was broken except for your head. There was some blood on the floor from your head wounds but that's been cleaned up. What we really need to know is more about this Brett character. Can you give us anymore information about the guy?"

"What do you want to know, sir?"

"Jim said that you and your mom lived with the guy for a while. What state did you live in?"

"Texas. A little town near Galveston. Naomi and I didn't exactly fit in with the locals but Brett was in love with Naomi at first sight. He told Naomi that she could stay with him as long as we wanted to. I don't think Naomi even knew that Brett was obsessed with her. She liked him and he had offered us a place to stay unconditionally. Brett wasn't too happy with having me around but it made Naomi happy so I was tolerated. About six months after we moved in with Brett, Naomi decided that she needed to go get her head cleared. She told Brett that she was a free spirit and that she went where she wanted. She asked Brett to watch me and he agreed."

"You don't have to give us details, Sandburg. After the way Jim found you in the loft, all of us in Major Crimes have an idea about what happened after Naomi went to 'get her head cleared'. How long did this go on?"

"About a year, maybe more. I got bumped up a grade while we were still with Brett. I guess I was eight-and-a-half when the final blowout came. Naomi wanted to go see the Dali Lama and Brett went nuts. He grabbed her by the arms and started shaking her and yelling at her. He said that she didn't need to see the Dali Lama to find happiness. All she needed was him. She should stay with him and forget about everything and everyone. She begged him to stop shaking her because he was hurting her. He yelled at her to shut up and kept on shaking her. I finally saw that Naomi was crying and decided to save her. I launched myself at Brett's back and grabbed him around the neck. He actually let go of Naomi just long enough to throw me across the room. I hit an end table with my side and my head hit the brick wall. Naomi screamed. That's about all I remember except for moving around some and then waking up in a hospital room."

"So how did you end up in the hospital, Sandy?"

"Naomi told me that when she saw me hit the wall, her mother instinct took over. She grabbed the nearest thing, which was a huge glass vase, and when Brett turned back to get her again, she smashed it over his head. She told me that she then made sure that I was still alive, threw our things together, got me in the car, and drove until she reached New Mexico, and then took me to the hospital. I woke up the next day. Two days later, I was released from the hospital and we took off for Canada. I think we actually passed through Cascade but I'm not sure."

"That's quite a story, Sandburg. Do you know what Jim has in mind to catch Brett?"

"Not really but I told him I won't call Naomi and endanger her life. I don't even want to tell her about what happened last night. The less she knows the better."

"All right, I can understand that." Simon paused in thought for a moment and then continued, "would Megan pass for your Mother from a distance?"

Blair looked closely at Megan and then asked her to step to the other end of the room. When she had complied, he squinted at her again. Finally he said, "I think she could if you put a wig on her or I could say that Naomi had dyed her hair. At one time, Naomi's hair had been green."

"Green! Not my favorite color," Megan said.

"Yeah, it only lasted about two days on her too. I liked the bluish-purple color myself."

Both Megan and Simon looked at Blair for a second as if to say, 'you've got to be kidding' and then realized that Blair was serious.

"With your Mother, Sandburg, why am I not surprised?"

"Yeah she is kinda cool at times. So what's the plan to catch Brett?"

"We haven't worked out all the details yet and need to go over every aspect of the plan with Jim and you."

"Go over what with Blair and me?" Jim asked.

"The plan to catch Brett. Will Blair be up to it?"

"As long as he rests and Brett doesn't get near him. I don't think the doctor wants to see him again until the stitches above his eye come out next week. The cast will come off in seven to eight weeks if it heals properly. Look, let me help Sandburg get dressed and then we can discuss this plan back at the loft."

"Sure Jim, see you outside in a few."

When both Simon and Megan had left, Jim turned back to Blair and said, "let's get you dressed and out of here Chief."

"I here you there. I am like so glad to be leaving the hospital. Do you think their idea will work? About catching Brett, I mean."

"Seems that they had the same idea as me if we couldn't get Naomi to be involved. I think it might if you can do your part. I promise not to let him hurt you ever again Sandburg."

"I know Jim and I really appreciate the 'Blessed Protector' role. I really don't want to see Brett again but if it'll get him off the street for a good long time then I'm willing to do my part."

During the whole conversation, Jim had help Blair sit up, pull on sweatpants and was now helping pull on the sweatshirt over the cast. Blair let out a small hiss of pain as the sleeve caught on his pinky and gave a tug. Jim quickly adjusted the sleeve opening and gently massaged the injured digit.

"Better Chief?"

"Yeah, thanks man. How much longer until I can get out of here?"

"Now, just let me get the wheelchair."

Blair waited until Jim moved the chair in. Jim had moved it to right outside the door and now he was moving Blair in to the seat. When Blair was settle, Jim moved the chair through the doorway and down to the exit. Simon and Megan stayed with Blair while Jim went and got his truck. Then the three coworkers helped Blair into the truck. In another minute, all three people were on their way to Ellison's loft.

852 Prospect Street
17 December 1998, 12:00pm

Blair was having a difficult time of eating. With his arm and part of his hand surrounded in plaster, holding thing, like chopsticks, became an obstacle. He finally gave up and set the utensils down on the plate. Jim half-smiled and handed Blair a fork.

"Use this until the cast comes off Chief. And use the other hand. It may be awkward but at least you'll be able to eat."

"Okay. Having a broken arm sucks. I'll be glad when the cast comes off. Grading papers is going to be a pain when the semester starts."

"Hopefully you'll have it off before the middle of January, Sandy."

"One can only hope Megan. So guys, what's the plan to catch Brett?"

Everyone sat up straighter as Jim and Simon began to outline the plan to catch Brett. Rafe, Joel, and Brown would be stationed around the loft building along with some uniformed officers. It would be their jobs to inform the others of Brett's approach and if he was alone. If he wasn't, then they would wait until Brett entered the building before taking out whoever came with him.

Megan would play Naomi. Blair would have called her about being injured and she would've come running to be by Blair's side while he recovered. When she reached his side, Blair would've explained about what Brett had wanted and Naomi would have agreed with a few conditions.

Simon would be hiding in the loft, waiting to arrest Brett and to keep Jim from killing Brett for hurting his partner. Jim would be keeping an eye on Blair and 'Naomi' and biding his time by serving refreshments.

852 Prospect Street
17 December 1998, 5:15pm

Ellison's phone rang twice. On the second ring, Blair slowly moved his good arm and picked up the receiver.

"Hello," he said quietly.

"Well, well, the fag boy's awake."

"What are you talking about Brett? I'm not gay but if that's the way your mind works, fine. What do you want?"

"Want! You know what I want. I want Naomi by my side. Now where is she?"

"She's here. She came in this morning while I was still in the hospital. I told her what you want but she's got a few conditions. She said that she'd go over them with you, when you got here. She did tell me to ask you to bring something that can be authenticated. She wants to be reassured that you can care for her in the manner that she's grown to be accustomed to. Her lifestyle has changed to a more affluent kind of life."

"I always tell the truth, especially to Naomi. Look faggot, where is she now?"

"She was asleep. By the way, I wouldn't call me names in front of her. You remember how she is about me, don't you?"

"Don't you worry about your mommy, creep. I'll take good care of her. Tell her to have her things packed and ready to go. I'll be at your little hovel by six p.m. Got that queer?"

"I got it. We'll see you at six p.m."

Blair jerked back from the earpiece as the phone was slammed down on the other end. He gasped as the quick movement caused his damaged ribs pain.

Jim was quickly at his side, gently rubbing his back and asking, "are you okay, Chief?"

"Yeah, just wasn't expecting him to slam the phone in my ear. Man, my ribs hurt."

"Slow shallow breaths, Chief. That's it, nice and easy."

After a few minutes, Blair's breathing slowed down and the paleness had left his face. Jim, Simon, and Megan all let out their own breaths. Megan finally broke the silence and asked, "so, when does Brett show up?"

"At six p.m. Do you think that you can pull it off?"

"Sure I can Sandy. What were you saying about name calling?"

"For some reason, Brett thinks I'm gay. I don't know why but he does. He called me 'brat' in front of Naomi once. She read him the right act about how he should be treating me and what names were acceptable."

"Okay. If he's due in here by six, that gives us about thirty minutes to make final preps. Joel, Rafe, and Brown need to get in their spots and call in. The uniforms need to be in place. Simon, I think the best place for you to be is my room. Megan, why don't you go into Blair's room and act like you're finishing packing. Blair, just stay where you are."

Everyone nodded agreement and took off for their respective places except Simon and Megan. They could wait until Brett entered the building. At five minutes until six, Brown radioed in that Brett was parking in front of the loft. Brown also mentioned that Brett was parking illegally. Brett sat in his car for about a minute before leaving it and entering the building.

Jim tracked him with his Sentinel hearing, as Brett climbed the stairs. Jim motioned for Simon and Megan to get into position. Jim talked to Blair through their mental rapport. He said, 'keep calm Chief, I won't let him hurt you, I promise.'

'I know but he just plain out and out scares me to death.'

'Just remember that you're surrounded by friends who'll do everything to keep you from getting hurt.'

'I know.'

Just then a rap on the door brought both men to the present. Jim let Brett rap on the door a second time before calling, "who is it?"

"My name's Brett and I'm here for Naomi. Now let me in!"

Jim opened the door, sized up Brett in one look, and let him in. Brett walked in like he owned the loft. Jim repressed the urge to punch Brett in the nose. Brett sneered at Blair laying on the couch.

"Well, I could've done a great deal worse to you creep but it got your mom here and that's all that matters."

"Look, Brett. I didn't tell her about what you used to do when we lived with you. I certainly didn't tell her that you did this to me. She wouldn't have come at all. She's in my room packing but she wants to see what you brought to her in private. She said that she would verify its authenticity from my room."

"I'll hand it to her personally," Brett said with a sneer.

Jim stepped up behind Brett and said, "I don't think so. You'll hand it to me and then I'll hand it to her."

"What are you? Are you this faggot's lover? I ain't handing you anything. I'll only give it to Naomi."

"Then you won't see Naomi at all. Why don't you give it to me and then I can give it to Naomi," Blair said.

"All right, punk. I'll give it to you but keep it away from your body."

Blair slowly got up off the couch. He took a small package from Brett and made his way over to the French doors of his room. He lightly knocked once and said, "Naomi, Brett's here and this is what he brought for you."

A slender hand snaked out through the door and gently took the package from Blair. Blair turned and made his way back toward the couch. Just as he was about to sit down, Brett grabbed his arm and jerked him around. Blair let out a small cry and fought against blacking out.

Brett whispered harshly, "why doesn't she come out? Why hasn't she said anything? You and your mom are talkers boy. You never shut up. Why isn't she saying anything?"

"She's got laryngitis. She's also been in Australia for the last year. She came back on the flight this morning so she sounds like she's from down under. The doctor down there told her to keep her conversations down to a minimum. She's said about four words to me since I got home. When I told her about you, she wrote down what she wanted from you. Brett let me go. You hurt me enough already and if you hurt me again, she won't go with you."

Brett shoved him backwards and Blair landed awkwardly. He gasped in pain and once again fought against blacking out. Mentally, he told Jim that he was all right and to stay where he was.

Jim acknowledged Blair and concentrated on Brett. After a ten-minute face off, Jim heard Megan call up to Simon that they now had undeniable proof of Brett being guilty of selling drugs. He was also laundering money for the syndicate through a local dry cleaning service. Jim slowly smiled and Brett sneered back at him.

Finally, Simon stepped out onto the top stair of Jim's room. He had his weapon in hand and said, "don't move. Brett Parker Phillips, you're under arrest for selling narcotics, laundering money, and assault and battery. Place your hands behind your head."

Brett laughed and said; "you can't prove anything and the little runt won't say a word because it'll look bad for his lover here."

Blair slid further away from Brett. He was afraid that Brett would try to use him as a shield. Before he could get further away, Brett grabbed Blair by the back of the neck and roughly brought him around in front of himself.

"Now you won't shoot me because you'll have to shoot the little faggot first. You ain't got nothing on me and Naomi won't let you do it. Naomi, come out of that room and stand by my side."

Megan walked out of the room with her weapon drawn. She calmly said, "let Sandburg go. Sorry to disappoint you but Naomi's not here. She never was. Why don't you let him go? Things will go easier for you if you release Sandburg."

Brett glared at Megan and then started to reach for his gun that was in his waistband. Jim aimed at Brett's shoulder and squeezed off a shot. Jim's bullet entered Brett's shoulder, bounced off his shoulder blade, and finally exited out of his back. The only thing that Jim had not counted on was the reflexive twitch of Brett's hand on the trigger of his own gun. The bullet exploded out of Brett's gun and into Blair's arm. Luckily for Blair, the bullet entered the arm with the cast. Blair let out a small scream and fainted. Brett had let go of Blair and fell back onto the couch, screaming in pain.

Simon, Megan, and Jim were all moving as both Blair and Brett hit the floor and couch, respectively. Simon reached Brett first and quickly disarmed him. Simon brought out his cellphone and called for an ambulance.

Megan and Jim both raced to Blair. Blood was trickling out of the cast around Blair's hand. The stitches over his eye had popped opened and blood was pooling beneath his head. Megan had grabbed a towel from the kitchen and was applying pressure to Blair's head.

Jim had grabbed two more towels and had tossed them to Simon to deal with Brett. Jim felt if he got any closer to Brett, he would finish the job of stopping him permanently. Jim grabbed Megan's radio and called Joel, Rafe, and Brown into the loft. Jim focused his Sentinel sight through the hole in the cast. He found the bullet had entered Blair's arm and it seemed lodge between the bones in the lower arm. He knew that Blair would need surgery to remove it and make sure there was no nerve damage.

As Rafe, Brown, and Taggert entered the loft, Jim heard the distance sound of sirens. He leaned down next to Blair and whispered, "hold on buddy, help will be here soon."

Cascade General Hospital
Room 2316
18 December 1998, 7:00am

Blair Sandburg opened his eyes slowly and looked around the room. He saw that Joel, Megan, Brown, Rafe, and Simon were all sleeping in different chairs spread out throughout his hospital room. He half-smiled and finally noticed the other big presence in the room. He slowly looked up into the blue-eyes of his friend, Jim Ellison.

Mentally he asked, 'how long have I been out?'

'About twelve hours. You passed out a little after six last night, came to when you got here and tried to convince the doctors that you were okay and that you wanted to go home.'

'Guess it didn't work. So what did they do?'

'You've got four new stitches in your head but no concussion. Ribs are still the same, no worse and no better. Your arm had surgery to remove the bullet, reset the broken bones, and check for nerve damage. You're going to need some PT when the cast comes off but you should heal up one hundred percent.'

'Great. Hey Simon's awake.'

"Morning Simon."

"Good morning to you too Sandburg. How're you feeling?"

"Better. Not too much pain just kinda tired. What happened to Brett?"

"Brett is in the prison ward two floors up. His shoulder was pretty torn up from Jim's bullet, but he'll live. When he's well enough, Brett'll be transferred to the county jail infirmary to await arraignment and trial. He's being charged with drug trafficking, money laundering, attempted murder, attempted kidnapping, assault and battery, and three counts of murder one. A third body turned up about three a.m. He was on pain meds, but he admitted he had killed all three dealers with his lawyer present. He should be going down for some serious time."

"At least he won't ever be able to harm any one again." Blair took a breath and finally realized that everyone in the room was awake and staring at him. "Uh, guys, why is everyone staring at me?"

"We're just happy to see you awake, Sandy."

"Yeah, Hairboy. You gave us quite a scare yesterday."

"Didn't mean to but I think Brett had other ideas. I was just trying to get out of his way. Sorry about passing out like I did."

"No problem Blair, you get shot after what you've been through and you're entitled to pass out."

"Thanks Joel. So Jim, when can I go home?"

"Tomorrow if you behave and not cause any problems for the staff."

"I'll be good. I am so tired of being in the hospital. Besides Christmas and New Year's is really close. School starts up shortly after that. Then MLK's birthday, Ground Hog's Day, and Valentine's Day. Do you know that the ancient Haikari tribe had this wonderful love ritual where..."

"Hold it right there, Junior. Let's just get you out of the hospital first and then start worrying about all these holidays."

Blair looked chagrinned and then started giggling. Slowly, everyone in the room started chuckling. After a few minutes, all seven people in Room 2316 were laughing loudly. The nurses at their station knew that the patient from last night was awake. They knew that he was on the mend from the happy sounds coming from his room.