GiftFic for Jules
This is just a snippet from the dark recesses of my mind. Oh, and any medical inaccuracies are all mine! Hey, I didn't have time to corner a Doctor or my mother (a nurse) before writing this.....
Special Thanks to my beta, CarolRoi, who was nice enough to beta read this while writing her own Gift Fic. Which is one of the few I've actually read so far.
Story is Untitled. But I'm open to suggestions. <g>
Warning: The case discussed within is an actual case in my hometown, but has not yet gone to trial so the names have been change (and most of the "evidence" as well) to protect the innocent.
Disclaimers: Okay, just to satisfy the 'legal-beagles' (even though we all know the routine) -- The Sentinel, The Guide and all of Major Crimes in Cascade, Washington do not belong to me. They are the exclusive property of Pet Fly Productions, Paramount Studios, and (darn it, do I have to admit to this?) UPN. I'm only taking them out for a little bit of exercise and promise to put them back, relatively, unharmed. I'm making no money off of this effort, and it was done purely so that Julie Goldwyn could read it while she tried to recover from a really *nasty* accident that eventually took her life.
GiftFic For Jules
Suisan "Sue" R.
He had trouble recalling his own name, let alone where he was, as he found himself staring at a computer screen with no clue as to what the words there were trying to convey to his weary mind. Sitting back in the high-backed chair with a barely audible creak, Blair Sandburg rubbed his tired eyes and tried to get his mind back on track.
Four days ago, he'd been at the station trying to assist his roommate, Detective James Ellison, catch up on paperwork when Captain Simon Banks blew into the Major Crimes Bullpen like a gale force wind.
"Ellison! My office, now!"
As the Police Observer watched his partner wince, he reached out, and with a voice too low for anyone but Jim to hear, did what he thought of as his 'real' job, Guide to the Sentinel of Cascade. "Turn the dial down, man. Got it?"
Ellison nodded, and gave a small grin of thanks, as he stood up from his own chair and calmly followed the irate commander of his division into his office. Everyone in the bullpen jumped as the door to the Captain's office slammed shut with such a force that Rhonda, the Division secretary, flinched away from the door, as if expecting the glass to shatter and come raining down on her.
Twenty minutes later, Detective James Ellison had a nasty new case to investigate and being the kind of person that he was, Blair volunteered to help him.
Thirteen. The victim was only thirteen years old. Male. Blonde. Good looking, but you couldn't tell from the way the body had been treated. Beaten severely. Suffocated. Naked. Brutally abused. And his mother had let him go with his abusers, thought they were good friends of the family. Strong male role models for her little boy.
She had collapsed when Jim, with Blair's help, had broken the news to her. She was still under observation at Cascade General hospital, she didn't know the two men she had entrusted her boy to while she went to work, had confessed to the crime. Bragged about it.
While the two men had been sitting in lock up, in separate cells, the younger of the two had started to brag to his fellow cell-mates just how wonderful it had felt to feel the life slowly drain from the young boy's body. His older partner had been on the phone to the ambulance, trying to get help, as he started to shred the files that showed how the two of them had planned this whole weekend from the very moment they had laid eyes on the good looking blonde kid that was the son of their cousin.
Now, not only did the Prosecuting Attorney's Office have the files the two defendants had tried to destroy, but a double handful of witnesses from the Detention center that were more than willing to testify against the two men. Open and shut case. A slam dunk.
He'd seen the body and the look of horror on the face, frozen there for all time. It contrasted starkly with the school photo taken not more than a month before the boy's death, the young man smiling without a care in the world, the background bright and colorful, like his future should've been. Nightmares had haunted Blair for three nights. It had progressed to the point where he feared closing his eyes, afraid of what he would find inside the darkness.
Four days. Three nights. No sleep. He was unable to keep anything on his stomach very long. Over worked, no reserves left, and with a hovering roommate, who kept asking him to open up to him, to talk about the case, what he was feeling. Rage. Hopelessness. Despair. Anger.
Pushing away from the desk and the computer monitor, which mocked him with the words of his own report, Blair stood up. "Want another cup of coffee, Jim?"
"Nah, I've had enough," Jim answered as he looked up at his none too steady partner. "You might want to lay off it too, Junior. We'll be finished here in a few minutes and Simon has ordered us out of here for the rest of the weekend."
"You don't understand, I need another cup if I'm going to finish that report..." Blair's words faded as he turned away from the desk and made his way to the breakroom.
Jim watched and without thinking about it, used his senses to track his Guide to his destination.
He barely pulled back his hearing in time to avoid the sensory spike. "Yeah, Rhonda?"
"Lab just called. They found something you should take a look at."
Rhonda shrugged. "Sounded important."
Growling, he stood up from his desk, saving the file he was working on to the hard drive, and made his way down the hall to the elevator. As he passed by Joel Taggart's desk, he quietly addressed the man. "Joel? Watch Sandburg for me, will you?"
Joel hadn't been fooled. He knew that the case that Ellison, and therefore Sandburg, had been working on had been gruesome, and that the Observer had devoted much of his spare time to the case. "Sure, Jim. Where is he anyway?" He also knew of thedetective's fierce protectiveness of his partner, and knew that the older man of the Division's 'Odd Couple' was in full hover mode.
Jim nodded over his shoulder. "Breakroom. Coffee."
"I'll be down in the Lab. Shouldn't take too long."
"Go. He'll be fine." Joel watched as the detective headed towards the elevator. Deciding that he, too, needed a refresher on his own coffee, Captain Joel Taggart grabbed up his cold coffee mug and headed towards the breakroom and the sludge that someone joking referred to as coffee.
Entering the breakroom, Joel found the young Observer leaning heavily against the counter, sipping judiciously from a steaming mug. "Hey, Blair. Long day? You look worn out."
"Hey, Joel. You could say that." Blair sipped at the dark brew in his mug, then cradled the hot porcelain in both hands.
Using the sink to rinse out his coffee cup, Joel used the actions to make his own observations of the Observer. Pale. Dark circles under the eyes. Blood shot orbs that only served to brighten the denim blue irises. It was the body language that caught his attention though. Fatigue. Exhaustion. Refilling his cup with the coffee flavored sludge, he managed to get closer to the kid. Reaching out, he placed a considerate hand on a slumped shoulder. "Have you gotten any sleep since this case broke open?"
Blair snorted. Of all the people in Major Crimes, outside of Jim and Simon, Joel Taggart probably knew him the best. "You're right. It's bull. I'll get some sleep tonight." Looking up to see the man's dubious expression, he said, "I promise!"
Lifting his hand off the shoulder, Joel realized just how warm the kid had seemed to him. "You coming down with something there, Blair? A cold?"
"God, I hope not! I have finals starting Monday. Why?"
He shrugged. "Just seemed a little warm to me, that's all."
"Must be that 'Father's Instinct' that I've seen you pull on Brown and Rafe."
"Never hope to lose it either." With a kindly smile, he made his way to the door of the breakroom, then turned back to look at the Observer one more time. "Oh, before I forget, Jim had to run down to the lab, said he'd be back shortly."
Raising his warm mug in salute, Blair nodded. "Thanks. Maybe we'll get out of here soon so I can get home."
Shaking his head, Joel let out a chuckle. "Just remember, sleep sometime between now and Monday. Okay? And eat something, I swear, you're losing weight." He slipped out of the breakroom and returned to his own desk to get back to the file he'd been working on.
Blair watched him go, then sank back against the counter again. Downing the last dregs of liquid in his mug, he turned to replenish his stock of go juice, only to have the room spin around him. "Whoa! Slow down." Firmly grasping the counter with one hand, he shakily placed his precious, hand thrown pottery coffee mug on the counter as the dizzy spell passed. "Okay. Better. Much better." He waited a few moments before refilling his mug and heading back to the bullpen.
Jim couldn't believe their luck. The fingernail scrapings from under the young victim's nails showed that he had struggled in his last moments of life, and matched almost perfectly the preliminary results of the FBI's DNA report. More evidence that, contrary to the statements given by the suspects, the kid had not willingly participated in the act that eventually lead to his death. He wanted another go at the younger of the two suspects in the interrogation room. But it could wait. Let the punk sweat it out in holding over the weekend. He had a partner, a Guide, to take care of first.
He closed the file in his hand as the elevator opened back up on the seventh floor, only to have his ears pick up the sounds of worried confusion coming from Major Crimes. The actions came automatically, as he'd been trai ned to do, and he filtered out the sounds assaulting his auditory senses.
"Get an ambulance up here!"
"What the hell happened?"
"Here, use this. He hit his head pretty hard when he went down."
"Head wounds bleed like crazy. Rhonda! Where's that ambulance?"
"Enroute. ETA three minutes."
"Heartbeat. Too slow. Chief's?" Jim started moving, plowing through people that were blocking his way into the bullpen, still not sure of what was happening.
"Serena said that Ellison left the lab a few minutes ago..."
He burst through the crowd, only to come to a screeching halt at the sight that greeted his eyes. Rafe was cradling Blair's head in his lap while pressing a blood soaked handkerchief to the temple of the unconscious Guide. "Sandburg? What the hell happened?!?"
"Watch your step, Jim!" Simon warned as the obviously worried detective made his way through the gathering crowd to his fallen partner's side.
Glancing down, he spotted the reason for his Captain's concern. Blair's hand thrown pottery mug lay in a widening pool of dark liquid, coffee by the smell of it, its pieces scattered, shattered beyond all hope of repair. "Got it. Captain? What happened?" He carefully stepped around the spill and the broken pottery as he knelt down beside his unconscious friend.
"Not real sure. I looked up when I heard a crashing noise, then I watched as Sandburg wilted." Simon paused in his narration as Rhonda handed him another handkerchief to pass on to Rafe who was trying to stem the flow of blood from the gash on the temple of the Police Observer.
Jim concentrated and listened as Simon explained what had happened as he tried to ascertain the condition of his Guide. His Shaman. Best Friend. The other half of his soul. The heartbeat that he'd grown so accustomed to over the years was thready, but still quite strong. Respirations were shallow, almost as if the young man was in a great deal of pain and trying to fight it off. Tilting his head, he focused in tighter on the lung sounds; clear. No sign of wheezing or fluid build up. Reaching out with both hands, the sentinel picked up one lax hand, nearly dropping it when the heat, the fever, raging through his friend's body assailed his sense of touch. He was brought back to reality when a cool hand landed on his shoulder. Looking up at the intruder, Jim met the cool gray eyes of Garry Metcalf, Paramedic, one of the best in Cascade.
"Jim? Stay put. Michelle?" Garry looked over at his EMT partner, "Take over for detective Rafe, will you?" He dropped his gear bag and knelt down beside Blair Sandburg's unnaturally still form.
The next few minutes were lost in a blur of activity, questions and orders that Garry relayed over his radio connection with the hospital. "Roger, Cas-Gen. Will transport. ETA ten minutes."
With the help of Michelle, Jim and Garry were able to load Blair onto a backboard and onto the gurney with a minimum of movement. The paramedic had, at some point, started an IV drip of 9% normal saline, immobilized the head and neck of his patient and had hastily dressed the head wound. With barely a glance at the worried roommate of his patient, Garry nodded for Michelle to get rolling. Officers and detectives alike cleared the path for them, not at all surprised when Ellison followed them--still holding onto his friend's hand.
Captain Simon Banks made eye contact with Captain Joel Taggart, who merely nodded his acceptance of the unspoken request that he take command of the Division, as he too followed the gurney bearing the Observer out of the bullpen. With a gentle hand of persuasion, he guided the sentinel into the elevator, crowded with the gurney, two medics and two police officers.
Garry and Michelle needed no assistance to load the lightly loaded gurney into the treatment bay of their ambulance. That was the first time since finding Blair on the floor of the bullpen that Jim had let go of his partner. Simon had wisely used that moment to direct the distraught man to his sedan, and they followed close behind the ambulance as it weaved through the late afternoon traffic to the hospital.
The admissions clerk at the Emergency Room had been warned and had the paperwork ready for Ellison to sign when he and his Captain entered the quiet waiting room.
An hour later, Doctor David Abrams found the two men pacing the floor of a private lounge area. "Ellison?"
Jim pivoted on his heel to face the young doctor. "What is it?"
David put on his best reassuring smile. "Nothing that a few days in our care won't cure." Seeing that the tall man was about to collapse himself, he stepped forward and with gentle hands, guided the man into a chair and sat down beside him. "I'm still awaiting the rest of his lab work, but it appears that Blair is merely suffering from sheer exhaustion and malnutrition. He hasn't been eating or sleeping too well, has he?"
"No. He hasn't."
"Thought so. Overwork. No matter how young and energetic one might be, the human body can only take so much before it decides to rebel and get what it needs." David looked up as a nurse hurriedly approached him with papers in hand. Taking the sheets from her, he glanced over them and nodded, hemmed, and hawed.
Jim tried to read the papers over the shoulder of the doctor, but couldn't make heads or tails of what he saw on the report.
"Okay, Debbie. Let's get him started on the antibiotics and switch him over to a D10W normal saline drip. Then make sure that room on Three West is ready." David handed the reports back to the nurse, and waited until she had gone to follow his orders before turning back to face the partner of the man he was treating. "He'll be fine, in a few days, Jim."
"What's wrong with him?"
"Well, outside of a mild concussion that he gave himself when he took that nose dive in your police department, he's fighting off some kind of infection. I'll know more when the final lab cultures are done." Standing up, he nodded. "It should only be a few more hours before I get those back, until then, he's being transferred up to room 340. You can either head up there now and wait for him, or I'll make sure that Ron and Debbie let you know when they transport him."
David snorted. "Why doesn't that surprise me?"
The results of the final lab tests weren't encouraging. Somehow, Blair Sandburg had contracted a form of encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. And he had influenza on top of that. Before he could be fully settled into his bed on the medical floor, he'd slipped into a coma and had to be moved to ICU, where he remained for five days before he regained consciousness.
Blair moved sluggishly in a bed that while fairly comfortable, wasn't his own. The sounds of a heart monitor penetrated the fog surrounding his thoughts and helped pulled him to reality. Carefully opening his eyes, he groaned as he realized that he'd somehow ended up in a hospital. Again. He started to look for his friend, and didn't have to look very far as the familiar face of the sentinel filled his field of vision. "Jim?"
"Easy, Chief. You gave us quite a scare." Seeing the concerned look in the denim blue eyes, he tried to reassure the younger man. "Don't worry. You'll be fine. And I talked with your advisor at Rainier, you'll be able to make up the tests when you get back on your feet." He raised a plastic cup with a straw in it to his friend. "Here. Slow, small sips. You're no longer dehydrated, but I'm willing to bet that your mouth is dry."
He took the straw into his mouth and followed his friend's orders. The cool liquid was like a balm to him. Nodding his thanks, he reached up and took the half-full cup from steady hands into his not so steady ones. "What happened?"
"You tried to fry your brain, is what happened, Buddy. And you were fighting off the flu at the same time." Jim allowed a quirky smile to cross over his face. "By the way, Brown and Rafe gave you full marks for your graceful 'swan dive' in the bullpen."
Blair could feel the blood rushing to his face as he blushed. "No, tell me I didn't--"
Chuckling, Jim nodded. "Yeap. You did. Right in front of everyone."
"Oh, man! That sucks!" Looking around the room, he realized that no matter how good he felt right at that moment, it would probably be a while before the doctor would allow him to leave. He was still hooked up to an IV. "So? Any chance I can get out of here soon?"
Doctor Cecily Davids chose that moment to walk into the cubicle. "Well, I'd say that depends on what I find when I get through examining you, Mr. Sandburg." She turned a baleful glare on the man that was standing next to her patient's bedside. "Okay, you know the routine, Detective. Out."
Twenty minutes later, he was allowed back into the room with his partner. "Well? What did Dr. Davids have to say?"
Incredulous blue eyes met curious ones. "You mean to tell me that you didn't listen in?"
"Nope. I called the station to let everyone know you were finally awake, Sleeping Beauty."
He couldn't help it, he fidgeted. "Well, it's like this. The doctor wants to see how well I can get around on my own two feet before she will allow me to come off the IV and the catheter. She's supposed to be making arrangements for a physical therapist to come up and help me with something called gait training."
The nurse that had been in charge of Blair's care for the past three days on the evening shift, came in at that moment. "Well, look who finally decided to wake up for me! What a nice way to start off my shift! Good morning, sleepy head."
Janice Norren shrugged. "Okay, afternoon, then. I see that Doc Davids has been in to see you. Let's check you out before the torturer gets up here." She moved around the bed, using the monitors to check her patient's vitals, then pulling a stethoscope to make her own evaluation. She moved with quick efficiency, not once asking Jim to relinquish his position at the side of his partner. She knew better, having been treated to the 'Ellison Glare' on her first evening shift with this patient. And seeing how the younger man had responded to the mere presence of his friend, she hadn't the heart to ask him to leave.
"Everything sounds good to me, Mr. Sandburg. Now, if you get up and around before too long, I'll probably see you later. After the therapist evaluates you, I'll ask Albert to come in and take care of that catheter for you, okay?" With a friendly smile and a swish of long blonde hair, she whirled out of the room to resume her rounds.
"Wow! I like her!"
"Cool it, Lothario. In case you didn't notice, she's married."
One hour later, after the physical therapist had come and gone, muttering all the while that he had no idea why he'd been called in the first place, Blair was off the IV and the urinary catheter had been removed. Then he was moved from the ICU to the medical wing and a private room there. After he had settled into his new room, he thought to ask about the case that he'd been helping his partner with before he had had the grace to collapse.
"Hey, Jim? I was wondering--"
"About the Stover case?"
"Closed. The bastards recanted their original confession and pled guilty in court yesterday."
"And the mother? Stacy?"
"She's okay. She was released from the hospital the same day that you were admitted. Staying with family in Oak Harbor."
"That's good." Blair felt his eyes growing heavy with fatigue, even as more questions tried to gain his attention.
Jim would've sworn that he saw the wheels turning in his Guide's head, even as he sensed just how worn out the young man was. "Sleep, Blair. We can discuss the case later."
He watched over his friend as he drifted off to sleep, and as he settled as best he could in the chair provided by the hospital for long term visitors, Jim started to compile a new list of house rules for his young friend. Rules which would include no skipping of meals, getting to bed at a decent hour, and most importantly, telling his partner when the stress was getting too bad so that they could make arrangements for the younger man to cut back on his overloaded work schedule. At the station, not at school. Getting that Ph.D. was too important. To both of them.
Okay, so what say you? Shall I try to develop this into a deeper story?
Don't worry -- you're not seeing 'bad code' --
It's a form of Cryllic. <G>