by Ice Bear
Summary: After taking down Brackett, Jim needs a little help dealing with the fall out.
Disclaimer: All things Sentinel belong to Pet Fly and Paramount.
He drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly as he looked with grim satisfaction at the rogue CIA agent slumped against the fence. He reached out and pulled his Guide to his side briefly, needing a moment of mutual reassurance before turning to face the onslaught of police. “Sorry about the shoe, Chief. I owe you a new pair. That was quick thinking.”
Once Brackett was cuffed and safely in custody, Jim stepped back and walked down the fence line away from the chaos; finally stopping to lean heavily against the cold steel. His head hung down, and he hugged his chest tightly. The last few days had been overwhelming to say the least, and he felt as though he was hanging at the end of a frayed rope, unsure if he had the strength to climb back up.
His territory had been invaded; he’d been continuously castigated by Dr. Price; a gun had been held to his Guide’s head; he’d blazed a path across a deadly mine field; disarmed a ticking vial of Ebola…it was all just too much. He wasn’t sure when he’d last slept or ate, and he was pretty sure his head was going to fall off any moment now. He let the fence take more of his weight.
He was startled when Blair placed a hand on the small of his back. “Jim, Simon’s ready to take us back to the station.” The warm hand ran soft circles on the back. “That was a little too close,” he finished almost in a whisper as the enormity of all that happened caught up with him.
Jim’s arm reached out and pulled the smaller man until they were facing each other and then pulled him in for a hug, smiling slightly, “Sorry, Chief.”
“For what?” Blair responded, looking up into the weary blue eyes of his Sentinel. He frowned as he recognized the pain lines indicating a headache.
“Dragging you into this.” Jim tightened his embrace briefly and then let go. “Guess we better not keep Simon waiting. Lead the way, Junior.”
Blair took him to the squad car and settled him in the back seat before sliding in. Jim leaned back against the seat, closing his eyes as he did so. “You okay, Jim?”
“Just tired…Blair, we’re going to be asked a lot of questions. I don’t know what Brackett will tell them…”
“He approached you because you’d been military liaison to the CIA counter insurgency unit, and you’ve always had a sensitive touch – even going undercover as a safe cracker once. You got us across the minefield because you were trained to do that in the Rangers…anything I’m forgetting?” He smiled as the eyes of his partner opened.
“That’s good, Chief. Thanks.” The eyes closed again, and Jim remained silent until they got to the station. Simon gave them both the once over visually, and after asking if they needed anything, kept his focus on the road.
When he pulled into the garage, he twisted around to face the two after he parked the car. “There are going to be a lot of questions asked. I assume you have answers.”
“Yes, sir.” Jim said, pulling himself upright. “Who’s going to question Brackett?”
“I will. But Jim, I’m not going to be able to keep the feds out of this – not with the attempt on that plane added to the Ebola.”
“That’s okay, sir. I expected as much.” Jim, weariness robbing him of his usual grace, stumbled from the back seat and headed for the elevator. His partner and the Captain followed, exchanging worried glances. His demeanor changed when the elevator stopped on their floor. The shoulders came back and the cool, calm, ‘I’m in charge, don’t mess with me’ façade slipped into place. He settled at his desk and pulled up the first form he needed for his report. Blair found his place next to him.
The feds didn’t show up until Jim had finished his report. There was no need for them to announce themselves; every officer in the room recognized them. Simon appeared in his doorway and motioned them inside.
“Chief, now would be a good time to head home, don’t you think?” Jim said; head cocked slightly to listen in on the inner office conversation. “You take the truck, and I’ll get one of the guys to give me a ride.”
“I’d rather the feds not get hold of you. No reason for you to have to put up with their crap.” His eyes conveyed his concern and his sincerity.
“Okay, I’ll cook something that you can warm up when you get home. You’ll be okay?” His hand rested on the broad shoulder.
“Yeah. Been there before, probably will be again. Go, and try and get some sleep.”
“Always,” Jim flashed his trademark crooked grin. “Now get out of here. And Chief, thanks for everything today. I couldn’t have done it without you.”
He spent four and a half hours with the feds. They had argued with Simon when he insisted on being present. “He’s under my command. You don’t like it, than you don’t have to talk to him.”
They badgered and cajoled and threatened the detective. They clearly did not like his answers to their questions. “Look, unless you’re totally clueless here,” he exchanged a knowing glance – along with a roll of his eyeballs - with his Captain as he answered the same question for the sixth time, “you know my background better then I do. I was an Army Ranger trained in black ops, and I did some work with the CIA counterinsurgency unit. The Rangers taught me how to get through a mine field in one piece, and I had practice in at least six countries. As for the Doctor’s comments about my actions in the music center, I’ve been in situations where I’ve dealt with mass casualties before – entire villages wiped out. I doubt seriously that the good doctor can say the same. There’s a certain feel to a place when its’ covered in death. The center didn’t feel that way, so I stopped and took in the entire situation, just like I was trained to do. That’s how I knew they were asleep and not dead.”
Simon watched his detective with a certain amount of awe and pride. Nobody got the better of Jim Ellison. And despite the fact that the man had barely slept or eaten as far as the Captain knew for several days, he more then held his own. When the feds started the same line of questioning for the seventh time, he called a halt to it. “Gentlemen, if you have more questions for Detective Ellison, you can ask them tomorrow. Good night.” He stood; Jim joining him as he left the room.
“Thanks, Simon,” the detective said as they walked back to the bullpen.
“Don’t thank me, Ellison; I just couldn’t take another round of stupid questions. By the way, where’s Sandburg?”
“I sent him home. I was hoping to keep him away from the feds.”
“Out of sight, out of mind?”
“Something like that, sir. Do you think one of the uniforms could give me a ride home?”
Simon took a careful look at his friend. Take him away from the action and the man looked done in. “I’ll drop you off. Grab your coat, and let’s get out of here.”
Blair had tried to wait up for his partner. He was worried about Jim. The Sentinel had a headache, not that he could blame him, and he knew that talking to the feds was not Jim’s favorite pastime, but he was so tired. He lay down on his bed and was out like a light in less then a minute.
Jim didn’t bother to turn on a light when he entered the loft. He knew his Guide was asleep, having scanned him while opening the door, so he moved to the bathroom and took a quick shower. He did a cursory exam of the bruises on his body from his fight over the plane, before heading for bed. He detoured to look in on Blair and stood for a long moment in the doorway as his senses catalogued the Guide again. While the Sentinel in him was deciding that everything was alright, he pulled up the comforter to cover the younger man.
Jim tossed and turned for three hours before retreating to the balcony. When he heard Blair start the shower, he slipped back up the stairs. He didn’t want the Guide to know he hadn’t slept. He stayed in his room until he heard Blair leave. A note on the table explained he had class, and he’d meet him at the station later.
Jim spent three more hours with the feds and felt like a broken record by the time they gave up on him. Things did start looking up when he joined Simon, Joel, and Carolyn in the captain’s office and learned that the Coast Guard had captured Brackett’s partner in crime. And he couldn’t help but laugh with Carolyn at the way the good Doctor dumped him for Blair the second the younger man walked in the room.
When he went to straighten up from the desk he was leaning on, he hesitated as the world swam in front of him. “Jim?” Carolyn caught the fact that he sat back down quickly. “Jimmy, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing, Carolyn…just tired I guess.” He tried a reassuring smile on for size before carefully standing up. He reached for his coat, but his hand missed and knocked it to the floor. He closed his eyes, opening them immediately when he felt himself starting to fall.
“Jim!” Carolyn’s cry brought Simon over, and he managed to grab the detective before he hit the floor.
“Jim! Ellison! Are you okay?” The Captain asked as he manhandled him into a chair. “Where’s Sandburg?” He barked at Carolyn.
“He left with Dr. Price a couple of minutes ago. Should I call an ambulance?”
“No,” Jim said quietly. “I’m alright. Just give me a minute.”
Simon remained kneeling at his side. “Jim, I think we should have someone look you over.” He said it softly.
“No, Captain, it’s just… The last couple of days have been…” His blue eyes caught his boss’.
“That’s the understatement of the year, Detective. How about a compromise? I’ll drive you home, and we’ll stop at Wonderburger on the way, as long as you promise not to rat me out to Sandburg.”
“If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, I’d appreciate it, sir.” Simon took the leather jacket Carolyn held and helped Jim stand. He grabbed his own keys and escorted his friend to the elevator.
At the loft, he watched as Jim moved carefully to the couch and sat down. “Jim, are you sure we shouldn’t be headed for the hospital?”
“I’m just tired, Simon. I didn’t sleep well last night – my mind wouldn’t shut down. I…I’ll be fine, once I get a good night’s sleep.”
“Would you like me to track Sandburg down?” Simon still wasn’t sure exactly how the younger man fit into Ellison’s life, but he knew that he was important to his friend, and he could reach the stubborn man when no one else could.
“I don’t need to hear about how I’m ruining his social life for the next 20 years. Dealing with Ebola, mine fields and spy planes…on top of Lash and Kincaid and Juno…I just need a little down time.”
“I’ll second that, Jim. Okay, I’m going back to the station. You need something you call me…that’s an order, Detective.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Waiting until he heard the captain drive off, Jim forced his exhausted body up the stairs to his room. His head hurt, his ribs were sending out unhappy messages every time he moved, and his sense of touch was coming and going. He couldn’t coordinate his fingers long enough to unbutton his shirt, so he settled for kicking off his shoes and lying down. His efforts to pull the comforter up failed because touch chose that moment to shut down completely. Giving up, he dropped back onto the pillows and closed his eyes.
Blair stopped at the loft to change for dinner with Dr. Price. He had enjoyed the time they spent at the Natural History Museum and was looking forward to picking her brain some more over dinner. And if he was lucky…he lost that thought as he caught sight of Jim’s leather jacket. The truck hadn’t been in the parking lot so he hadn’t expected to find the detective home.
He did a quick reconnaissance of the loft and after determining that his partner was in his room, he went to his own to change.
“No…No! Blair, no! Please, God, NO! Please, NO! Not Blair, no, no, no!” Blair almost fell over his own feet, trying to pull up his jeans while simultaneously running for the stairs.
“Jim! Jim, wake up, please! Come on, it’s okay. Your safe, I’m safe, we’re home.” He spoke quietly, one hand resting firmly on the muscular chest. “Its’ okay, Jim, open your eyes. Everything’s okay, I promise.”
The body beneath his hand stilled. “Blair?”
“Right here, Big Guy. We’re home. And we’re both okay.” The Guide responded gently.
The blue eyes opened slowly as his fingers grasped the hand on his chest. “You’re alright, Chief?”
“I am. Are you okay?”
“Just a bad dream…where’s Dr. Price?”
“Nice try, Big Guy. What was the dream? It had something to do with me, and that obligates you to share it with me.”
Jim struggled to sit up, but Blair pushed him back and perched on the side of the bed. “I lost the fight; he took the plane and set off the bomb. You come running in and…” The blue eyes closed, “The Ebola had…had already started working and…the blood was…” The face scrunched in pain.
“Everything is okay, Jim. It was only a dream, and I’m fine. And thanks to you, so is Cascade. You did a hell of a job; rescued the virus, saved the spy plane, maneuvered over a minefield, opened a vault with your fingers, and put a rogue CIA agent in a cell. Not bad for a day’s work.”
“We did it all by the seat of our pants, Sandburg…so many things could have gone wrong.”
“They didn’t, though, did they?” The two friends stared at each other in silence. Blair used the time to do a scan of his Sentinel. He was a little pale and the circles around his eyes were deep. Blair’s mind started going back over the last few days. In hindsight, without the fear of immediate death or dismemberment, it had been pretty hairy. His Sentinel had been on full alert for close to 72 hours; had used his sight, touch, and sound beyond their tested limits; had zoned – which in and of itself was enough to put the man down for hours; battled hand to hand with a crazed ex-CIA agent; and dismantled a lethal bomb. No wonder the man looked like hell.
“Jim, I’m sorry. I should have realized how hard this all was for you. I mean you were absolutely amazing, man. And you must be exhausted; mentally, emotionally and physically. And since I am your Guide, according to Brackett, I should have been here to help you through it.”
“Chief, I’m a big boy. I can take care of myself. Besides, the good doctor is only here for a few days. Don’t tell me you aren’t taking her out to dinner?”
“Blair, I’m just going to go back to sleep. There won’t be anything to do here, unless you get your kicks watching the old guy snore.”
“Oh, so you admit your snore!”
“No. But I know you have better things to do than hang around here to find out.”
The anthropologist shook his head, “Okay, let’s at least get your shirt and jeans off so you can be comfortable.” Jim let out the breath he was holding when his hands cooperated.
Blair pulled up the comforter, as requested, before going back to his room to change. He did extract a promise from his partner that he’d call if he needed him. He glanced up at the room once more before leaving. His date with the doctor turned into an all-nighter, and he went straight from her hotel room to his office.
Jim shook his head as Carolyn tried to pin down the state of his health the next morning and turned his attention to the paperwork that had piled up on his desk while he was out chasing Brackett. Some things never change, he thought as he started entering data into his computer.
It wasn’t until late that afternoon, when the Captain grabbed him on the way to a crime scene, that he even left his desk. He had made some progress on the pile of paper but between his headache and problems with his eye sight flipping on and off, he hadn’t made as a big a dent as he’d hoped.
Simon wanted the Sentinel’s help in finding any clues forensics might have missed in conjunction with a series of robberies. He sent Jim into an alley between an old fish processing plant and a food warehouse while he talked to the uniforms. The alley housed two large dumpsters and the usual debris associated with the docks. Jim worked his way slowly down the left side, urging his eyes to focus and trying hard to keep his sense of smell dialed down in deference to the garbage surrounding him.
He found a partial footprint near one of the dumpsters and climbed into the second when he caught a trace of gun oil in the air. He forced his body to comply with his wishes as he dug through a week’s worth of rotting vegetables, wet cardboard and other slimy, smelly items to procure a gun. He bagged it and climbed out. He handed it over to his Captain, who smiled broadly at the find, and went back the car. He leaned carefully against the passenger door for a long moment before sliding to the ground.
Simon didn’t realize anything was amiss as he wrapped up his conversation with the techs at the scene. “Ellison!” He barked as he finally turned toward his car. “Jim?” He was at his side in four long strides. “Damn,” he whispered as he felt a faint pulse. “Evans, call an ambulance.”
The doctor motioned Simon to join him in the ER cubicle an hour and a half after they’d arrived at the hospital, sirens blaring. He looked closely at his best detective and took in, for the first time, the pale skin, the dark circles under the closed eyes. “Doctor?” He asked turning his attention to the man in the white coat.
“I’m not quite sure where to start, Captain Banks. Whatever’s been going on lately has pushed him past the edge of his endurance. He’s dehydrated, his blood count is off, his ribs are badly bruised, and his pulse is too fast…it’s a long list. Has he been under a great deal of stress lately?”
A rapid montage of the past few days went whirling past Simon’s eyes before he answered. “You read about the stolen Ebola virus?” When the doctor nodded, he continued. “Ellison found it. Suffice it to say that what you read doesn’t begin to cover all that went into the take down.”
“I want to keep the detective here for three days, and then,” He was interrupted.
“No,” Jim said hoarsely from the bed. “Home, Simon?”
“Jim, you obviously heard the doc.”
Jim levered himself up and hesitantly swung his legs over the side of the bed. “I can rest at the loft.” When his Captain opened his mouth to object, he continued “I’ll go AMA and get home myself, or I’ll take the doctor’s instructions, and you can make sure I get tucked in. Your call, sir.”
He was on his feet, swaying slightly as he moved toward a chair where his shirt and jacket waited. “You stubborn...” Simon stopped when Jim turned to face him. “Fine. Doctor, will you write up instructions for Detective Ellison, please?”
“This is ridiculous, Ellison. You heard what the doc said.” Simon started in once they were in his car.
“Sir, with all due respect to the doctor, he doesn’t know about my senses. A few hours in the hospital is enough to do me in. Three days would be hell. I’ll rest better at home, Simon.”
Simon dropped his passenger off, and after waiting while he took a shower and making sure he made it into bed, he headed for his car. He stopped when he saw Blair crossing the street. “Sandburg!”
“Hey, Simon!” He headed over. “You slumming?”
“I just dropped Ellison off. He refused to stay in the hospital.”
“Hospital? What the hell happened? Is Jim okay? Man, I…what happened?” He was bouncing furiously, torn between the need to get upstairs and the need to hear the whole story – something he knew he wouldn’t get from his roommate.
“I had Jim look at a crime scene for me this afternoon. He found a partial footprint and dug a gun used in three jewelry store robberies out of a dumpster…”
“You let Jim go in a dumpster! Don’t you understand what that does to him? He needs my help to maintain control! I can’t believe you did that to him!” He was now outraged.
“Look, Sandburg. Ellison is my detective, and he’ll look at any crime scene I ask him to. He was doing it for years before you came along.”
“Yeah, but that was before his senses were on line. Look, Captain, you don’t have to like me, but you do have to listen to me if you want Jim to continue to function as a detective. I know he was damn good before all this happened. Now, with help, he can be amazing. But you can’t send him into a situation like you did this afternoon without me, not unless you don’t care if he ends up in the hospital.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“That’s why he ended up in the ER isn’t it? Your crime scene?”
Simon’s head dropped for a moment. “That’s what clinched it, yes,” he said in a normal tone. “But the doctor said he’s suffering from exhaustion. He wanted to keep him for three days, get some fluids into him…”
“Damn it all! I knew something was wrong, but did I bother to do something about it, no! I let my libido lead the way while my Sentinel was hurting. Hell of a Guide I make. I’m surprised Jim isn’t in ICU with all the attention I’ve been paying him. I knew after the whole Brackett thing that he was on edge – I mean he did the work of about six guys and he never even took a nap. I can’t believe I left him alone last night, I never should have gone out.” He was talking a mile a minute, hands whirling in the air, while jogging into the building and up the stairs.
When he got to the door, he realized that Banks was behind him. “Ah, look, Captain. I appreciate you bringing Jim home, but I’ll take it from here. He won’t be in for a few days. I’ll call you tomorrow and let you know how he’s doing.”
“Simon, I’ll take good care of him. I know what he needs. This is about his senses being out of whack more than anything. He had to use every skill he had and more to beat Brackett. And he zoned bad on that bridge. I can’t believe I totally ignored it. But don’t worry; I’ll take care of him. Thanks again, sir, and good night.” Blair shut the door in the worried man’s face.
He stood, leaning against the loft door, regaining his composure. When he was ready, he took a deep breath and proceeded to his room. He fussed around for a few minutes, gathering vanilla scented candles. He went to the kitchen for a couple of bottles of water, and a rice filled heating pad he warmed in the microwave.
Once he had everything he needed, he headed up the stairs. He noted, with only a clinical interest, that Jim hadn’t heard him approach, and the older man startled when he spoke. “We have some work to do, Big Guy, before you can sleep.”
“Sandburg!” The warning was clear.
“Don’t even try it, Ellison. You’re in no shape to take on our 80 year old neighbor, let alone your guide. Life will be easier for both of us if you capitulate now.” Serious blue eyes bored into the Sentinel’s.
“I’m okay, Chief.”
“You will be, if you let me help. Your senses have been on serious overdrive for three days, if we don’t take care of it, you’re going to be a hurting puppy, Big Guy. You need to relax, and let me take care of you. It’ll be okay.” He spoke as he put another pillow under Jim’s head before handing him a bottle of water. He set the candles on the bureau and bed side table and lit them. Then he took the heating pad and placed it under the small of Jim’s back.
“Better?” He asked a few minutes later.
“Much. Thanks Chief.”
“Oh, don’t thank me, man. I knew last night something was off, but I ignored it. I’m sorry, this never should have happened. And I told Banks he can’t let you do crime scenes like the one you did today without me.”
“Sandburg?” The growl was unmistakable.
“You stay down. Look, I know he’s your Captain and it’s your job, but he needs to understand that your abilities require a little more attention then the average cop.”
“I do not need special treatment, Chief.” He shrugged off the hand on his chest and sat up.
“I’m not suggesting you do, Jim. But in order to do your job to the best of your ability, it requires some extra thought on occasion. And after an event like our little Ebola scare, it requires some down time. You haven’t had any time off since your senses came back on line, man, and we’ve been through some serious shit since then. It’s a miracle you’re still walking and talking…” He paused and looked at this man who had started out as his research project and was now his friend, “Your senses are totally whacked right now, aren’t they?” He received a reluctant nod in response.
“Okay, let’s work our way through the dials. We’ll bring everything down so you can rest. Start your breathing.” Blair walked him through all the dials and by the time he had him comfortable, Jim was asleep. He slipped the sleeping mask on; softly petting the silky short hair once he was done. “Just sleep, Jim. It’s okay to stand down. I’ll take care of everything.”
When Jim woke 16 hours later, Blair fed him breakfast and tea and after a shower, put him back to bed. Jim dozed on and off until dinner time, which he insisted on eating at the table. He had some of his color back and moved with more ease then he had the last few days, so the guide gave in.
After dinner, they watched TV for a while in comfortable silence. When Jim announced he was going back to bed, Blair followed him up. “Really, Chief, you don’t need to tuck me in.” He said with a smile as he slid between the sheets.
Blair offered the heating pad and the sleep mask, both of which the older man took. “I know, Big Guy. I just want to run through the dials again, make sure everything’s back on track – then you can sleep, I promise.” They did the breathing exercises together, and Jim brought each dial into play as requested. Once they were done, Blair got up off the bed and was at the top of the stairs, when Jim called him back.
“Chief, thanks for helping me with all this. I’m sorry to be so much trouble.”
“You’re welcome, Jim, and you’re not any trouble. I’m just sorry I didn’t intervene when I realized you were exhausted. As your guide, my job is to protect the Sentinel. I didn’t do a very good job this time, but it won’t happen again, I promise.”
Jim sat up and slid the sleeping mask off, so he could look at his friend. “Blair, without you, we’d never have gotten Brackett. There is no way I would have made it over that mine field if you hadn’t insisted on all those tests. We’re a good team, you and I.”
Blair’s smile did a lot to ease the remaining ache in his Sentinel. “Yeah, I guess we are. Now say good night, Jim.”
“Good night, Jim.”
“You wouldn’t have me any other way, Chief.” Jim said smugly, slipping the mask back on and laying down.
“You’re my Sentinel. I wouldn’t want you any other way. Sleep well, Jim.” He whispered as he trotted down the stairs.