Derek seated Blair at his desk, taking one of the chairs on the opposite side so he could look over the young man.
Blair's once vibrant personality and eyes were now dull, almost lifeless. His curls hung down in dejected waves. His clothes practically hung off him. Derek knew the younger man had been depressed recently, Blair didn't eat unless he was forced to, and he knew the cause.
Blair's Sentinel, his partner, friend, and even if he didn't know it love, had abandoned him. Derek had looked up all the pertinent facts and cases he could using the vast resources of the Legacy to do so. They all pointed in one direction, those two had to be together or else they might both die instead of just Blair.
Blair took a deep breath before picking up the phone. "Simon?"
#Sandburg, I hate to do this, but I have some bad news. Your...the loft has been shot up and your partner's missing. There's no sign that anything's wrong with Jim though.#
Blair took a deep breath and let it out, letting the phone fall from his fingers as he lost consciousness.
Derek hurried over to pick up the phone. "What happened to Detective Ellison," he asked.
#And you are?#
"Derek Rayne, Blair's boss." He hit the call button to the control room twice, a signal for some help. "Blair just lost consciousness when you told him something and I need to know what."
Simon sighed on the other end of the line. #Detective Ellison's loft has been trashed, shot up. There's no sign of Jim, and all we can find is a nylon rope hanging off the balcony to tell us where they went.#
Derek moved out of the way as his husband walked in to grab Blair, carrying him over to the couch. "Should I send Blair up there?"
#No, whoever did this might want them both.# The sound of a deep breath. #How is he anyway? Jim's been pitiful and almost useless around here.#
"Not so well. He's not eating, has been compulsively working to take his mind off James and is slowly starting to fade away. Everything about him now says 'not alive'."
Simon started to cough. #Damn.# There was the sound of silence. #Ellison's just come back and is looking around like he's lost.# There was a long pause. #He can't take much more of this, neither can I. Mr. Rayne, may I send Detective Ellison down there for a while? I think it'd do them both good.#
Derek smiled for the first time in days as he looked over his newest house member. "Definitely. I think it would be for the best for both of them. When can we expect him and do I need to send our private plane to gather him?"
Simon whistled. #No, not unless you want to that is, but some help to get him there might be nice. The man can be a little stubborn. I'll be putting him on leave, so time's not an issue from this end, he can stay as long as is needed to get it worked out.#
Derek nodded at Nick as he walked into the office. "My husband and colleague will be up there tonight." He hung up. "You're going to retrieve Detective Ellison. It appears he's in as bad of shape as his guide."
They both looked at Blair then back at each other, smiling. Nick gave his lover a quick kiss and headed to their room to pack.
Nick called the number Blair had given him from the airport, asking for directions to where Jim was. He was met at the door of the house in the suburbs by a tall and imposing dark-skinned man. "Nick Boyle," he said, holding out a hand. "Derek Rayne's husband."
Simon shook his hand, pulling him inside. "Simon Banks, Blair and Jim's former boss." He led the younger man into the living room and sat him down in a chair. "How is Blair, really? Those two men may have given me an ulcer, but I care for them like they're family."
Nick grimaced. "Do you want the whole truth or the Disney version?" Simon groaned. "Yes, he's that bad. Derek put him to bed and had to do it twice before Blair would stay. He's been up most nights working on translations and things and he's only been eating when he's reminded."
Simon shook his head as he turned to look into the kitchen. "Son?"
"Yeah, dad?" Darryl walked out, fashionable and handsome young teen that he was. "Hey, I'm Darryl. Are you the guy who's going to kidnap Jim so he's going to have to face Blair again?" Nick nodded, smiling. "Killer." He sipped his cola, handing over a key that he fished out of his baggy jeans' pocket. "Second bedroom on the right." He wandered out of the room, going up the stairs to his room.
Simon smiled after his son. "He's been so good about all this, me kidnapping one of his favorite people and all." He looked over at Nick. "I've got him packed, mostly anyway, and his apartment's all set for him to not come back for a while." Simon scrubbed a hand over his chin. "He's knocked out, courtesy of some nice medication Darryl used to take for his nerves."
Nick smiled, standing up. "Good. I've got paperwork saying he's ill, being taken for treatment and the plane is waiting." He shook Simon's hand. "Thank you for taking care of him through this. He'll thank you for it someday soon."
Simon laughed. "Oh, no, not our Jim. He'll yell and bitch about it for many years, but he won't say thanks for a decade or so, when he stops blocking it from his memory."
Nick nodded and jogged up the stairs, heading straight for the locked door. He grabbed the bags, bringing them down to the rental van, then the detective who looked much worse for the wear he had been taking. "Thanks," he yelled over his shoulder on the final trip with Jim.
"Not a problem, tell me how it went," came from someplace near the kitchen.
Nick got the detective loaded and buckled in. He jogged around the front to get in, starting the van and pulling out his cell phone at the same time. "Hey," he said into the phone. "We're on our way back now." He hung up and pulled carefully out into traffic, his cargo too precious to let him drive the way he normally did.
Nick pulled up outside the side door of the castle on Angel Island and blew his horn.
Derek and Alex Moreau, who had just gotten back from a long vacation, came out to help him get Jim inside.
"Beside Blair or are they going into the double room?" Alex asked.
Derek smiled. "Blair's room please. I've already gotten him to sleep in there and it'd be a shame to wake him up for this part."
Nick laughed. "Yeah, he's one stubborn little guy all right and he might balk at having this done to him." He grunted, lifting Jim's feet. "Upstairs?"
Derek smiled as he and Alex lifted up the rest of the Detective's body, carrying him silently up to their friend's room to settle him into bed beside his Guide. Derek locked the door on his way out, sure that they wouldn't see either man for a few days anyway, but as a just-in-case.
Blair thumped the lump that was his pillow, trying to make it softer and less thick. When he heard the groan, he sat up suddenly, flipping on the light, only to see his best friend and Sentinel laying across the other side of his bed. "Damn you," he whispered. "I'll get you for this Derek, you shouldn't have forced him here." He sat on the edge of the bed, getting his equilibrium together before wandering over to the door and trying to open it so he could go downstairs and complain about the manipulation of his Sentinel.
"Locked?" He tried the knob again and again, pulling on the sturdy door just in case it was stuck from swelling or something. Nothing. "Derek," he groaned.
"Chief?" Jim said sleepily.
Blair walked back to the bed to lay a hand on the chest he had just been hitting. "Right here, Jim."
Jim pulled his Guide down, holding him firmly. "Sleep."
Blair sighed and settled down for a long bout of being a security blanket.
It was right after dawn when Jim finally woke up fully. He looked around the room and started to swear silently. Until he looked down at the bright blue eyes looking up at him. Then he let go and sat up. "What am I doing here?"
"Don't know, not a clue. I went to bed alone and woke up with you here a few hours ago."
Jim nodded and stood, grabbing onto the bed's posts for support. "This is Angel Island, right?" Blair nodded. "I'm guessing but your boss had some help getting me here, so I should arrest not only him and his husband, but Simon too for kidnapping."
Blair stood up, heading into the bathroom, slamming the door behind him.
Jim sat back down on the bed to stare at the closed door, wondering what he had said this time.
Blair grabbed his cell phone from the side of the sink where he had left it a few days ago so he could dial the office downstairs' number. When Derek answered, he smiled a mean and nasty smile. "Should I come down there and run you through with the nice sword you have in the library or would you like to come up here and give it to me along with your unguarded chest?" The sound of Derek's laughter was clear over the line. "You're going to come up and let us out, right?" He got an answer and hung up, listening for someone else to come.
When finally the door was opened, he came out of the bathroom to see Nick standing, blocking, the doorway. "Are we being held hostage?"
Nick handed over a picnic basket of things and waved out in the hallway. "We have a tour going on right now," he said quietly. "A group of art history students from Berkeley are here to look at the art and antiques. Thought you'd like to miss that."
Blair took the basket and looked around. "We'll sneak out in a few minutes, head out to the grassy area past the garden." Nick nodded as he left. "That is, if that's all right with you," Blair told Jim.
Jim nodded, letting Blair go shower and change. When he was done, and Jim was taking his turn, he rehearsed all he wanted to say to the older man. When they were finally both ready, Blair led them down the back stairs to avoid the group of college students wandering around and out into the garden. He headed for a nice shady, grassy area and laid out the food automatically, not even waiting for Jim to help.
Jim sat down and pulled the basket out of his friend's hands, setting out the rest of the food while he got comfortable. "So, how are you," he said finally.
Blair grunted, dishing himself out some of the salad, pouring a thick and spicy dressing over the lettuce. "All right, you?"
Jim took a deep breath and opened his mouth, but the truth came out instead. "Not so good since you left." He looked down at the plate in front of him. "I've been miserable actually."
"Really?" Blair asked, seemingly interested. He took another bite before looking over his former partner. "Why are you miserable?"
"Because you're not there," Jim said quietly, picking at the macaroni salad. "I've got no one there for me. No one to talk to, to help, to work beside. No one to watch games with or play basketball with. No one there in the loft."
Blair nodded. "Yup, that's about right." He took another bite calmly. "Although, you could have avoided this, all this," he waved his hand around, "and stayed here."
Jim nodded. "I just can't, couldn't give up my life."
Jim looked up, stunned by the coldness in the formerly warm voice. "I.. I.. Why are you being like that?"
"Like what?" He swallowed, taking a drink of the bottled water. "Like someone that you couldn't care enough about? Like someone that you couldn't even imagine being around for another minute?" He shrugged and finished off the bottle of water. "This is what, or who, I've become. I'm not the Blair that you used to push around and then pushed away because you wouldn't do what was best..."
Jim stopped him, putting his hands over his own ears. "Stop it, please, Blair," he begged.
Blair set down his plate and the empty bottle, pulling Jim's hands away. "Truth hurt?" Jim nodded. "Good, it did to me too." He stood up, walking away. "I'm going to wander around the garden for a few minutes. Finish lunch."
Jim sat there, watching his friend leave him, watching his whole life crumble in front of his eyes because he had been scared. When he couldn't see the younger man, he looked down at the food he couldn't eat, the water that would hurt him to drink. "Blair, I'm sorry," he said quietly, too silent for his friend to hear.
Derek cleared his throat. "Maybe you should say that to him instead of the ants," he said.
Jim looked up. "Thank you for what you're trying to do, but it can't and won't happen." He stood, walking in the opposite direction that Blair had headed.
Derek shook his head and sat down, fingering the latest gadget his husband had found to play with. He pushed the button, letting the sonic pest remover sound off. He watched Jim grab his head and fall down before he called out to the youngest member of his house. "Blair? What's wrong with your Jim?" He hit the button again and put it away.
Blair came running back, dropping down onto the grass beside Jim's head. "Jim, man, talk to me. What's wrong?"
Jim groaned and looked over his shoulder at Derek. "Those pest things, like the one the woman downstairs uses."
Blair nodded, frowning at Derek. "That's mean," he said.
Derek smiled. "Sometimes mean is the only way to prove a point." He grabbed a grape, popping it into his mouth as he stood to leave them alone.
Blair helped Jim back over to the blanket and opened up a cold bottle of water, holding it close to his friend's mouth when he couldn't. He fed the older man little sips, careful not to pour too much at once. "Better?"
Jim nodded, sitting up some. "Yeah, thanks." He looked around the garden, turning up his hearing to see if they were alone. "That was mean," he said, looking over at his former partner. "Is he always like that?"
Blair shook his head, smiling. "Nope, he's usually kind and generous. I guess he just got tired of listening to us argue." He shrugged, handing over the bottle. "Here."
Jim took a sip. "Thanks." He looked around too. "Now what?"
"Now you eat," drifted over from one of the open windows of the castle, sounding suspiciously like Derek had been listening.
Jim looked around, seeing the 'bug', and smiled. "He likes to play with toys, huh?"
Blair smiled, shaking his head. "No, that's one of Nick's little toys." He picked it off the basket and got up, walking over to the open office window. "We'd appreciate some privacy now," he said, sticking it to the screen. "As in, no eavesdroppers." He smiled, walking back to their picnic spot.
Jim was looking over all the food, making sure that they were truly alone again, but he looked up when Blair got closer. "That was the only one."
Blair sat, picking back up his salad. "So, where were we?"
"Um, you were sniping and I was going to suggest that you eat more than that?"
Blair frowned. "I'm more than capable of looking after myself, I've been doing it a very long time now."
Jim spooned out some of a shredded chicken casserole. "Try this."
Blair sighed, looking upwards.
"Praying for patience?" Jim asked. Blair nodded and he looked down, tracing the weave of the blanket silently. "I'm sorry Blair, I really am."
"For which part," he asked, putting down his plate. "For abandoning me without even thinking about coming here with me? Or for not being here, or for not keeping in touch?" He paused. "You really need to figure out which one it is that you're sorry for."
Jim rolled onto his back, watching the clouds. "Why aren't we fighting?" he asked suddenly.
"Because it's pointless," Blair said. "You're going to go back to Cascade at the first opportunity and I'm going to be here and alone again."
"I'm alone too," Jim said.
"Yeah, and you're probably having the time of your life. All that neatness, all the anti-Blair noises. All the work you can get done without the terrorists coming for you."
Jim turned his head. "How did you know?"
"I've been talking with Simon regularly. He told me things have been quiet since I left, not one attack by gun wielding revolutionaries, terrorists, or other assorted fruitcakes."
"Wouldn't matter. Even if they did come, I still wouldn't be able to go out." He went back to watching the clouds. "I'm suspended."
"Again? What for this time?"
"Asking a guy holding a gun that was about to shoot a hostage to shoot me instead." He rolled over onto his stomach to stare at the grass. "They said it was inappropriate behavior and I had to see the shrink. When I said no, they suspended me."
Blair nodded. "Yeah, I heard something about that. You walked into a hostage situation against orders and begged the gunman to shoot you, yelling it loud enough for the SWAT captain to hear without a mic." He smiled and looked down, watching the ants too. "It might have worked that time, but next time the guy might be psycho enough to get you and enjoy it. That definitely says something about your mental state."
Jim nodded. "I'm miserable. Same as you."
"Says who? I'm having a ball, learning tons of new things."
"You've lost weight, you're not sleeping, your about ready to collapse and your heart is sounding funny. How long have you had that murmur anyway? I don't remember you having it."
Blair frowned. "I don't have one."
"Derek," Jim yelled. "Blair needs to see a doctor."
Derek came running out and stopped when he saw it was Jim laying down, not the reaction of a Sentinel worried about his Guide. "Why?" he asked, finishing the trip at a normal pace. "Besides the weight loss that is."
"He's developing a heart murmur," Jim said.
Blair started to protest, but was stopped by the two men. All he got out was, "I'm fine!"
Derek tapped the side of Blair's head, pushing on a pressure point to knock him out. "Coming?" he asked, picking up the younger man easily.
Jim hopped up, grabbing Blair from Derek's arms, falling easily back into the Blessed Protector mode. They walked around the castle, coming to the garage and the Range Rover. Derek held the door while Jim put Blair in and climbed in beside him.
Soon, they were at the hospital, waiting for the results of the tests the Emergency Room doctors had insisted on. Jim was sitting beside the sedated Blair's bed, stroking his hand gently. Derek was sitting at the foot of the bed, flipping through an Anthropology journal, confident that Jim would tell him if something else happened.
When the doctor came in, he pulled a chair in between the two men so he could look at all them, holding the folder open so he could look at it. "You were right, he does have the beginnings of a heart murmur. Nothing serious at this point, probably caused by the extreme conditions he's been forced to endure."
"My fault," Jim said. "I shouldn't have left him."
Derek frowned. "You did what you thought was right and you *both* paid for it." He nodded at the doctor to continue.
"I've also gotten the blood work back from Detective Ellison and he's in a similar shape; mainly malnutrition and exhaustion for both of them. Mr. Sandburg's the worse case right now." He looked over at the young man in the bed, then at Jim. "I don't know what you did or said that caused the fight, but you need to fix it before he dies." He snapped the folder closed and walked out of the room.
Jim lay his head down over top of Blair's arm. "I'm sorry, so sorry," he whispered, trying to make Blair hear it. "I was scared and I screwed up, again. I'll do better, just be all right." He closed his eyes and did something he hadn't done in a while, he prayed.
Derek watched them, sure now Jim could fix it, make everything right. When the orderlies came to move Blair up to a room, he walked behind, letting Jim hold Blair's hand on the way up.
go to part 3