by Ice Bear
Summary: Jim is forced to face a painful part of his past while is partner is out of town.
Disclaimer: All things Sentinel belong to Pet Fly and Paramount.
“Jim, would you come in here, please?” Simon Banks, Captain of the Major Crimes Division, called from the doorway of his office.
The others in the bullpen looked toward the tall, muscular man who rose from a desk in the corner. “Oh, oh, Ellison, the Mayor must want you to date his daughter or something…considering Banks used your first name,” Henry Brown said, a good natured smile on his face.
“Nah, he’d leave that to Sandburg…probably needs his deck refinished or something,” was the grinned response as the detective headed for the inner office.
“Have a seat, Jim.” Jim noticed his Captain’s heart beat was slightly elevated as he settled into a chair.
“How bad is it, sir?”
“You’ve called me by my first name twice in the last three minutes, which means you’re about to ask me to do something you know I don’t want to do.” Jim smiled at his Captain and friend.
“There’s a jumper at the Henderson building.”
“Since when does Major Crimes handle jumpers?” Jim’s confusion was evident on his face.
“We don’t, but Lou Ames called and asked for you, specifically.” When this announcement was met with silence, Simon Banks screwed up his courage and continued. “The jumper’s a 25 year old Army Lt, home on leave.”
“Cut to the chase, sir.” Jim was leaning forward, his entire body tense now. His senses were telling him that whatever was coming wasn’t anything he wanted to hear. Jim Ellison was a Sentinel, which meant all his senses were enhanced. He could hear the rapid heartbeat and smell the unease rolling off his captain.
“He’s home on leave because he lost his squad two weeks ago to a car bomb. He was the sole survivor.”
“No!” Jim barked rocketing out of the chair, arms clenched against his chest. He moved over to the window, turning his back to the other occupant.
“Jim, you’re our best shot - someone who’s been there.” Simon moved toward the detective but stopped short of entering his personal space. He knew bringing up his friend’s past was not going to win him any points.
“I can’t.” It was said so softly that Banks had to lean forward to catch it.
“Jim, the kid needs your help. What is it Sandburg’s always saying? Oh yeah, you’re the protector of the tribe. Well, this member of the tribe needs you.”
“Don’t,” Jim growled, swinging back to face Banks, “don’t you dare throw that in my face. All you’ve ever thought of my being a Sentinel is that it’s a real pain in the ass, unless and until it helps me find the bad guy.”
“Jim, please. At least go over there, listen to the kid. Doesn’t mean you have to talk to him.”
“You ordering me?” The normally blue eyes were dark with some emotion Banks couldn’t name.
“If that’s what it takes, yes.”
Ellison shot out of the office, grabbed his jacket and disappeared down the stairs. “Damn,” Banks hissed.
“Everything alright, Simon?” Captain Joel Taggart asked, coming to stand beside his colleague.
“Depends on how you categorize losing your best friend.”
Jim’s mind was racing as he drove rapidly through the city streets, lights and siren blazing. He was not a people person. The last thing he should be doing is trying to talk someone out of jumping. Hell, he’d barely survived himself, until a certain long-haired hippy witchdoctor punk had bounced into his hospital examining room. And while pre-Blair, he had considered the possibility of ending his own life, he certainly hadn’t thought about doing it in a public place. His plan was to eat his gun somewhere in the woods.
Hell of a time for his best friend and partner to be in Seattle for a conference. He could talk the Pope out of Catholicism.
He tuned his hearing to the top of the building as he pulled up beside six police cars. Not much going on. He nodded to the uniform who pointed him to the elevators. Once on the roof he moved slowly around to the west side of the building; stopping to listen for a minute to Sergeant Lou Ames talk to the young man.
“Detective Ellison, Ames asked if you’d step up so the kid can see you. He told him you were coming,” a uniform said quietly. Ellison cursed to himself. He did not need another soul on his conscience; god knows he had enough of them already.
“You’re Captain Ellison?” The young man, perched precariously on the ledge, asked as Jim stepped into view. “Is it true?”
Jim spared a glance at the Sergeant before focusing on the 5’9” blond kid – okay compared to the Detective he was a kid – “I’m Ellison. Is what true?”
“That you were stranded in Peru for 18 months, the sole survivor of a helicopter crash? That you buried your entire team?”
Jim could hear his partner’s voice, “Breathe, Jim, just breathe”. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Just hearing it said out loud still hurt. “It’s true.”
“Then you understand why I gotta do this.”
“NO! No, I don’t. Why don’t you explain it to me?” All he could hear was his training partner when he was a rookie reminding him that as long as the perp was talking, he wasn’t doing anything stupid.
“I decided what road to take; I killed them, all of them.”
“You plant the car bomb?”
“You know the car coming at you was full of explosives?”
“Then you didn’t kill them. You just had the bad luck to outlive them.”
“You don’t understand.”
“Don’t,” Jim growled, sidling closer, “tell me what I understand. My chopper was shot down on purpose by my CO who was trying to stop the mission because it interfered with his drug running. I buried my men – my friends – after they died, one by one. It took Martinez 6 days to die. So don’t you try and tell me what I understand.”
“How’d you stand it?”
“I didn’t. I finished my mission. I came home, I left the Army, and to be perfectly honest, I do my best not to think about it.”
“Blair Sandburg,” the 30 year old said, picking up his phone and turning away from the group sitting around the table with him.
“Blair, its Simon.”
The young man was out of his chair, turning his suddenly pale face to the wall behind him. “Jim?” The question asked was half plea, half prayer.
“Simon, what the hell’s going on?” Some color returning.
“We had a jumper this morning; an Army Lt, just back from the Middle East.”
“What does this have to do with Jim?”
“The kid was going to jump because he’d lost his squad in a car bombing. He was the sole survivor.”
“Please tell me you didn’t,” he hissed his hand tightening around the phone.
“I thought Jim was our best shot.”
“Damn you! What happened?”
“According to the uniforms on the scene, Jim had won the kid over and was about to ask him to get off the ledge when the kid’s cell rang. I don’t know what was said or who the caller was, but the kid hung up, turned to Jim, thanked him and jumped. Jim lunged for the kid, almost went over himself.”
“Where is he?”
“In interrogation 3 giving his statement.”
“Keep him at the station until you hear from me.” He was moving toward the elevator in the hotel. “It’ll take me three, three and a half hours depending on traffic. Promise me that you won’t let him leave until you hear from me.”
“Sandburg…” Banks’ tone made it clear he wasn’t up for any games.
“No, you need to do this. He can’t be alone right now. There’s an awful lot you don’t know about how his mind works. Trust me; right now leaving him alone is the wrong thing to do. Promise me, Simon.”
“Alright, I’ll make sure he stays put.”
“Thank you.” He turned the phone off and headed toward his room. He quickly flung his clothes into his bag, doing a quick once over of the room before heading out. “Just hang on, Big Guy, I’m coming.” He whispered as he closed the door to the beloved Volvo.
Detective Jim Ellison moved wearily into the elevator and slumped against the wall after hitting the button for his floor. His eyes were blank as he stared at the brown carpeted floor. His mind was as blank as his eyes – and he was working hard to keep it that way. He’d spent way too many hours around people this afternoon -- all of whom tried to get him to talk about what happened, and there was simply no way in hell that was going to occur. He just wanted to go home and hide, and now, finally, he could.
He shuffled into the loft, and sank back against the door as it closed. He stayed that way for a long moment before he took off his jacket and hung it on the hook. He removed his gun and holster and put it away, running on automatic pilot. He took a beer and moved to the balcony windows.
“Hey, Big Guy,” Blair said softly, trying to hide his worry after watching his partner move like an old man through his evening routine. He was even more concerned about the fact that his partner hadn’t realized there was anyone else in the loft.
The big head rose slowly and swiveled to find the source of the sound. “Chief? You’re in Seattle,” Jim said, clearly puzzled.
“Yeah, well, after living out of a hotel for five days, I was ready to come home. I hope you didn’t have a hot date or anything planned.” He moved beside his partner and placed a hand on the small of his back. He could feel the tension almost humming through the big body.
“No plans…I think it’s my night to cook. Why don’t you order something, you chose.”
“Actually Jim, I thought I’d cook. I have some stew warming on the stove. I’ve kind of been craving a good home cooked meal. You have time to take a shower and change before its ready.” He ran his hand in several small circles on the tense back before moving to the kitchen. He looked back to see that his partner hadn’t moved. “Jim?”
“Yeah, Chief, that sounds good.” He said distractedly, moving hesitantly toward the stairs.
Jim ate quietly, slowly, seeming to have difficulty getting the spoon from the bowl to his mouth. Blair kept up a steady, one sided conversation about the people he’d met at the conference. When Jim rose to start the dishes, he gently pushed him toward the living room, asking him to find a game.
Blair was getting water when he heard Jim’s sharp intake of breath. He dropped the bottle and rushed into the living room, as he caught the end of the local channel’s news promo. “And the young Army officer threw himself off the roof of the Henderson building this morning, despite efforts by Major Crimes Detective James Ellison, Cascade’s Cop of the Year, to talk him down. Stay tuned for the family’s reaction at 11.”
“Oh god,” Blair blurted out as he settled beside his partner who had zoned. He spent 25 minutes using every Guide trick he had in his bag to bring his Sentinel back. As soon as Jim was conscious of his surroundings, he pulled violently away from the comfort his Guide offered and went back to the balcony windows.
“That’s right, Sandburg, I screwed up and the kid jumped…maybe he was the smart one.” The last was said in a whisper.
“Stop it! Stop it right now! Look, the kid obviously had decided before you showed up that he was going to jump. It wouldn’t have mattered if you were there or not. The fact he picked a public place just means he wanted attention.” Blair spoke harshly, hoping his brazen statement – which he didn’t believe – would shock Jim.
“He was in so much pain…he felt responsible for losing his men…wasn’t his fault. I thought I had him, Blair,” he said turning to face his partner, his own pain written clearly across his face. “We talked about it, about what it meant, about moving forward…he was ready to come in. I know he was and then the phone rang – he took the call. It was his mother.” Blair stifled his desire to move to his partner’s side. “She yelled at him for causing a public scene…he hung up, looked me in the eye, thanked me and then threw himself off the ledge. I grabbed for him and missed. I watched him fall…all 22 stories. I heard his bones break as he hit the ground.”
“Jim, man, you did everything you could. I know you. If anyone could have stopped him, it was you, but for whatever reason, he didn’t want to keep going.”
“He was just a kid, Chief. Just a kid. He lost his unit…god, Blair it was like listening to myself ten years ago.” Jim slid to the ground, his back against the window. “Only difference was that I planned on going into the woods and eating my gun. Knew nobody would miss me, and the wildlife would get a decent meal.”
He didn’t notice the pale look of horror on his Guide’s face; he was too lost in his own pain. “No,” Blair whispered, finally drawing the older man’s eyes up to meet his. “I don’t ever want to hear you say that again.”
“Jesus, Jim, don’t talk like that, please. I don’t…I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
“Chief! Blair, I’m sorry. I just, that’s the way I felt before I met you; before you helped me find myself.” Jim pushed himself up awkwardly and found a seat by his partner. “I’m sorry.” He put a hand on a shaking shoulder and squeezed gently.
“Okay,” Blair said finally, taking a deep breath and flashing a hint of a smile at his partner. “Okay…look it’s been a long day, what do you say we get some sleep?”
“Sounds like a plan,” Jim responded giving one last pat to his shoulder before standing up. He turned just before reaching the stairs and went back and sat on the coffee table in front of his Guide. “Why’d you come home early, Chief?” He asked softly.
Blair looked up into warm blue eyes. “I heard what happened. I didn’t want you to be alone.”
Jim leaned forward, placing his forehead against Blair’s. They stayed that way for several minutes, gathering and giving comfort. Jim broke away first and stood up, a small smile on his face. “Thanks for being here, Blair.” He ran a hand gently across the curly hair and headed for his room, moving with usual grace and without the tension that had marked his posture ever since he’d walked in the door.
Blair waited to go to his own room until the light upstairs was turned off. “Sleep well, Big Guy,” he whispered, closing his door.