Jim tossed the badge back onto the blanket, not wanting to look at it anymore. It stood for all the bad things in his life now. Everything that had gone wrong was tied to that little piece of worthless metal.
He turned his attention back to the unmoving body in the bed, patting the sheet back into place from where the nurse had moved it earlier. He brushed the curls behind the ears that couldn't hear him now and sighed. "Blair, why?" he asked for the thousandth time that day.
He remembered, back to when it had all began. Those memories were his only comfort now.
It was the end of Blair's first official day as an officer, and he was tired.
//I opened the door for him and let him lead the way inside. I took the jacket from the limp fingers and hung it up, pushing Blair gently to go sit on the couch.
"What would you like for supper, Chief?"
Blair had given him a sad look and sighed. "I don't care," he said.
I nodded and went to check the cabinets, trying to find the ingredients to make something edible and soothing. "Well," I said after finding almost nothing, "we can order out or you can have soup."
Blair had laughed lightly and laid down on the couch. "I don't care," he had said softly.
I took him at his word and made him some soup, bringing it to him on the couch. By the time I made it over there, Blair was fast asleep, laying across the cushions like the angel he was. I just smiled and went back to put some up for later.//
Jim was pulled back to the present by the nurse coming in again to check Blair's vital signs. He didn't move, but she was used to it by now. She quickly did what she needed and left them alone again.
He laid a gentle kiss on Blair's cheek and laid his head on Blair's shoulder, willing him to come back.
It had been Blair's first month anniversary on the force, the first time they had made love.
//I had come home early, Blair had insisted that I not wait for him to finish his paperwork, to make them supper. On the spur of the moment, I decided to make it a quiet and romantic dinner to celebrate. After all, we had announced our love a week or so before and it was certainly appropriate for us to celebrate such an occasion.
I had laid out the candles, the good tablecloth, the good dishes. I made all of Blair's favorites for the meal. Everything I did that night was for Blair.
When the younger man had gotten home, he had smiled and given me a hug before going and taking his shower.
I should have known something was wrong by then. Everyday when he got home Blair would immediately head for the shower. It was like he had been trying to wash off the outside world. Hell, maybe he had been. God knows I didn't know what was going through his mind at the time.
Blair came out and we sat down to eat, me dishing things up for him, in the small portions he had insisted on. I sat there and watched him pick at the food, leaving most of it on the plate. Then I had asked him what was wrong.
Blair had given me a bright smile, not like one of his before the... incident, but still bright and full of life, and told me he wasn't really hungry, using the last case as a reason. I should have seen it then, but I didn't want to.
I wanted to be blind, to not know how much giving up his life had meant to him. How much it was destroying him from the inside.//
Jim coughed and smiled, going back to that night. //We made such sweet love, me giving myself to him. I know that hadn't been what he was expecting, but I was trying to give him back everything my existence had taken away from him. I gladly rolled over for him, letting him take me as some sort of penance for all the hurt I had caused him. And I think he knew that was what it was then.// Jim smiled sadly and closed his eyes on the stinging. //Blair left me that night, and did not come back to my bed again. That very next morning was when I heard the first cough.//
Jim opened his eyes and immediately his gaze went to the monitors, checking on Blair the only way he could. After he was certain nothing had changed he looked down at his watch and then out the window.
//Well, I slept for almost an hour.// He sat up long enough to stretch, going back to resting his head on the shoulder that had always supported him. //My Blair, how badly I screwed everything up.// He closed his eyes and went back again, the memories giving him the only comfort he had now.
//I was the last through the door. Blair had been the second, right behind Rafe. The bust had went as planned but that had been the only thing that day.// He shifted uncomfortably in the hard plastic chair. //Blair had started to cough all the time now. None of the doctors I dragged him to had any idea what was wrong. This time though, he started to cough up blood. Just a few flecks, like from an earlier nose bleed, but he wasn't worried.
I nagged him about it, back at the station, but he had said he was fine. Nothing to worry about he had said. Then he made some joke about that many doctors couldn't be wrong. I just shook my head and promised myself I would keep a better eye on him, take better care of him.//
Jim didn't look up as the man entered the room, didn't register the gun in his hands.
"Come on, old man, time to leave his bedside and go join the other hostages."
Jim didn't move, just smoothed the blankets again unnecessarily.
The young man came over and tapped him on the shoulder. Jim looked up at him with dead eyes, no emotion showing in them.
"What?" Jim asked.
"You gotta go join the other hostages." He waved the gun and tried to pull him up.
"No, I'm not leaving him," Jim said and smoothed the extra skin on the back of Blair's hand.
The young man said something into his radio and they waited while his boss came up. The older man pushed his way through the door, letting it slam into the wall. Both of the terrorists noticed that Jim didn't even look up. "Problems?"
"He won't leave."
"So, move him," the older man said and turned to leave.
"I'm not leaving him," Jim said quietly.
The older terrorist turned back and looked at the ice cold stare, seeing the lifelessness, making him shudder. "Fine, whatever," he said and backed away in fear. He motioned the younger man outside the room. "That's Detective Ellison, or used to be," he said quietly. "And frankly that man scares me. I don't want to deal with him." He stopped and thought for a moment, weighing his options. "Position a man here and don't let him leave. If he wants to stay with Detective Sandburg, let him. It actually works better like this. Having him isolated means he can't affect a rescue or anything. Besides, I don't think he'll give you any trouble." They younger man nodded and they both went away, the older man still shivering at the death he had seen in the formerly scary visage.
Jim had waited for the nurse to come back in, but she hadn't so he made notes on Blair's charts for her. He carefully noted the monitor's numbers and signed his name to it. If someone didn't like it, they could fix it later.
He had just put back the chart when his cell phone rang. He took the annoying piece of machinery out and looked at it like he had never seen it before. By the third ring he had had enough and tossed it across the room. Nothing would pull him from this bedside.
He had finally figured out that nothing was as important as Blair. Nothing.
//"Blair, maybe you should see that last doctor again," I told him, dishing up food I knew he wouldn't eat. "You're losing weight and Simon wants to take you off the street because he thinks you're sick."
"Drop it Jim, we aren't having this discussion again," Blair had said.//
And he had. He stood by and watched as Blair made himself sick, day by day getting worse for no apparent reason. But they both knew what was wrong. Even if you no longer really wanted something that you had worked all your life for, it still hurt to lose it. And that hurt was what was killing Blair right now, what had been making him sick until the morning he hadn't gotten up.
//That had been a hell of a morning. I walked down the stairs and wondered why Blair wasn't up yet. I called his name, but there was no answer. I went into his room and looked in on him.
He looked like he was sleeping, laying there on his back, calmly sleeping. But nothing I had done would wake him. I got him into the truck somehow, driving us to the hospital.// Jim laughed a little. //Oh, that nurse that tried to separate us didn't get very far, did she Blair? She and the doctor both got quite a shock when they tried to remove me from the room. How long did it take them to figure it out? Hmm? Two or three crashes? Every time they tried to remove me from the room, you made your wishes know very clearly. And I know it's some sort of punishment. Even now, you start to go downhill when I leave, even when I just go to the bathroom. So, I won't leave you, not until it's time and you tell me it's time.// Jim coughed again and wiped away the spots of blood that had recently started to appear. //But, we'll be together again soon, and this time I'll do better. I'll be yours for eternity if you would just come back to me.//
Jim never noticed the gun fire outside the room, never saw the door open and the younger terrorist from earlier come in. He didn't move when the man tried to pull him up and use him as a shield. The officer who came through the door was also ignored. Even when he was shot, Jim couldn't see or hear or feel anything but his memories now. His whole world was in that bed and nothing would take him away from it until Blair told him to go.
So when the man pulled him up forcefully, making Jim look at him, he laughed and tried to sit back down. The gun waved in his face got another laugh, this time with a, "It would be a blessing. Go ahead."
Jim never saw the man back out of the room, very scared about what was going on in that one small corner of the world. And since he was backing out, he didn't see Simon behind him.
Jim laid his head back down on Blair's shoulder and closed his eyes, deadening all his senses to block out the sound of gunfire.
//Boy, Blair, this is different. Did you feel like this when I got hurt? Why didn't I realize earlier that you were the only reason for my life and without you there is no life? Why didn't you tell me?//
Jim opened his eyes to see one of his oldest friends standing beside him. "Go'way, Simon," he said, closing his eyes before he laid his head back down. Or tried to. It was forced back up.
"No, Jim," came a deep bass voice. "Not this time."
Jim opened his eyes to see Blair standing beside him now, saw him squat down beside him. "It's not you." He looked back at the bed.
"Jim, you have to go for a while. Go home, sleep, eat. You can't do this. Blair wouldn't want it, would he?"
Jim shook his head and rubbed his now tired eyes. "I can't leave. Something bad happens when I do."
"I promise I'll be here when you get back," Blair said.
"I'll be here, Jim. Nothing will happen to Blair," Simon reassured him and patted his shoulder. "Go home for a while and I'll stay."
"It's okay, love, go and I'll still be here." Then Blair disappeared, making Jim look at the monitors, seeing the small improvement.
Jim looked up at Simon and saw the worry there, knowing what he had to do. "You promise to not leave him?" Simon nodded and Jim gave Blair's cheek one last kiss before getting up to surrender the chair. "I mean it. If you leave him, something might happen. You have to stay there until I get back."
"I will, Jim. Go home and get some food and change your clothes." He sat down in the chair.
Jim started to trudge out of the room, turning his hearing up slightly as he got further away. Just before he got to the door, he turned. "Oh, and watch out for the nurse coming in to take blood. She's been having a hard time, but it hurts him when she keeps trying to stick him."
"Jim, don't worry. I'll take care of him like he's my son. Now, go take a shower and change your clothes at least. I'll stay right here beside him until you get back."
Jim nodded and left the room, not really caring about the looks he was getting from his former co-workers as he walked out. He knew what he had to do, and he did need to shower first. Blair's diss board wouldn't listen to him with the way he looked now.
Jim stood in front of the remaining members of Blair's dissertation committee, two being out of town. "Blair didn't really lie. The only lie he told was to protect me by telling everyone he lied," he said softly.
Blair's advisor nodded. "Most of us were aware of that. So, why did you call us together?"
"Blair's in a coma, has been sick ever since he told that one lie. I want to fix it."
"Detective..." One woman started.
"Not anymore. I refused to answer a question about my abilities on the stand and was fired."
"Jim," Blair's advisor said. "Are you aware of what you're doing? That the press and everything else will come back again? All the reasons Blair lied will come back."
"Not really. Isn't there some way he could still present, or for me to present in his place, and nobody tell the media? Maybe some sort of grapevine through all the colleges so he could go someplace and get a job and be happy?" Jim didn't look at them, he was busy staring at the floor.
"Frankly, Mr. Ellison, some of us found Blair's claims as to your abilities to be fantastic." The man leaned forward. "We would need proof that you can do those things."
Jim looked up and smiled, a mean and nasty one. "Let's see. He," he pointed to Blair's advisor, "had Chinese food for lunch, Garlic Shrimp and a lot of saki. She," he pointed at one of the female members, "is ovulating, and her heart rate just went up to around 180 beats per minute. You sir," he addressed the doubting member, "had better not let anyone else know that you're having sex with anyone in the bio-chem lab. It could get both of you in trouble." He gave an extremely mean smile, one that used to send criminals crying to their mothers. "And I can tell because I can smell both the lube and the filtered air. That and you accidently carried his security badge out, I saw it sticking out of your pocket on the way in. She's," he said pointing at the other female member, "ready to run for a video camera, very excited. And the man outside, the security guard if I'm correct, is listening with his mouth hanging open. Someone really should tell him about toothpaste. Do we need anymore proof?" He waited while they talked amongst themselves.
"Mr. Ellison, we're very impressed, but we need to do a few tests...."
"I can't be away from Blair for that long. Anytime I leave his heart slows." He crossed his arms. "Unless you can find a way to do it in his room, beside his bed...." He left it open for them.
The five people retreated to a corner of the room to talk, knowing it was futile, but doing it anyway. They came back quickly. "Well, we all must admit some of those things you told us were quite out of the ordinary. But, we still need independent verification. Did Blair leave any tapes or measured tests? Anything that we can point to and say he quantified it?"
Jim thought about the box in the closet, the one that Blair had stuffed all his research notes into. "I don't know. He put everything into a large box in his closet." He shrugged. "I never got a good look at what was in there. I could ask someone to go get it while I go back to the hospital. Captain Banks has always know about this, he could be trusted."
Blair's advisor nodded. "That would be good. I could meet him at your building and go through it. If that would be all right with you, that is." Jim nodded and tossed him the keys. "He can be reached at the station?" he asked Jim's retreating back.
"He's at the hospital right now."
It was almost a week later when Jim got a call. They had both been getting stronger each day that went by. Jim's cough disappeared and Blair's body strengthened. All he needed to do now was wake up and Jim's world would be right again.
Jim slowly put down the phone and smiled, laying his head down on Blair's chest. "They said you can have it. All you have to do now is wake up to walk," he told the unconscious man quietly.
Blair's heart rate started to slowly fall.
"Blair, love, I did it for you. We'll be okay. We can move someplace where no one knows us and we'll be fine. No one else will know. Ever. No one will ever hear of Sentinels again until another one comes out. No more problems. They said they would write a nice letter to explain the circumstances wherever you decided to go so you wouldn't have to worry. Nothing else to worry about ever. I promise. Just you and me and school work. I've been thinking about going back. Got to do something now that I'm not going to be a cop again. But we'll figure that out once you wake up." He patted the younger man's hand while the nurse and doctor rushed in to check on him. "He's fine, just a small slip," he told them.
The nurse glared at him and bodily lifted him. "I told you not to upset him," she told him on the way out the door.
The doctor stopped her as Blair's heart rate started to fall again. "Leave him." She let Jim go and they both walked back to the bed, watching as Blair's heart rhythms came back to normal.
Jim leaned over and kissed him, letting his lips linger over the dry ones. He came up and smiled at the now open blue eyes looking at him. "Good morning, precious."
"Jim," he croaked.
The doctor handed him a glass of water and quietly left them alone, dragging the nurse with him.
"Here, drink," Jim said, holding the cup. He waited until Blair had had his fill before sitting beside him on the bed. "Don't do that to me again. Please?"
"I promise," came the sleepy reply.
He watched his lover fall into a natural and healthy sleep. Everything was right in his world now and he would always remember the mistakes he had made so he wouldn't repeat them. Ever. They would have their happily ever after.