Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters, except Lt. Shawn Meyer and I'm only taking care of him till his mother and I can find him a good home.
Thanks to Kimberly my beta reader and Ronnee for putting up with me. As always thanks to my sister and fellow Kulprit, "Chile today. Hot tamale." Please direct any comments about the fic or inquires about Shawn to QLHT@aol.com
The calls on Simonís radio were non-stop and even the seasoned police captain was having difficulties keeping track of the different voices, but one rang out clear and unmistakable.
"This is Charlie Mike 11. We have a multiple vehicle fire that involves several buildings." Sandburgís voice was interrupted by the sound of an explosion. "The orphanage at 1223 Tate St. is on fire. We need fire and rescue teams dispatched immediately."
"Damn! Leave it to those two to always be in the thick of things."
Simon wasnít really surprised that they had been the first on the scene. In fact, he would have been surprised if they hadnít. As he sped through the streets of Cascade, he offered up a silent pray to some of the gods that Sandburg was always babbling about. Hoping that they would take care of his friends until help arrived.
Simon pulled up just in time to see Rafe tackle Sandburg.
"What the hell!?"
He saw the burning building and Jimís truck as he ran to help restrain his young detective, not liking the obvious conclusion.
Rafe landed hard on the ground as Sandburg reacted to the assault. Well I see the kid learned something while at the Academy. As Rafe lay on the ground, gasping after the younger detectives last assault, Simon stepped between Sandburg and the burning building, expecting his larger size and authority to halt the young man. The last thing he expected was to be growled at as the smaller man walked around him.
"Sandburg!" Simon used the most commanding tone of voiced he could muster as he reached out and grabbed Blairís arm. "You shouldn't be here. Let's move before there are any more accidents."
The captain saw the haze in Sandburgís eyes clear a little, a sign of concussion and heard a soft, "Jim?"
He once again moved between the young man and the burning building, blocking the view, "Come on, Blair. The paramedics are waiting for you." He noted the rest of his people forming an additional barrier between their comrade and the activity that he could hear behind him.
"Simon! You can't think that... Jim's alive! He needs my help! We've got to get him out of there!" As the first word left Sandburgís mouth, Simon moved to restrain him, expecting him to try to break through to the fire. He heard the younger man scream as they tumbled to the ground. Was that pain or frustration? He really hated having to do this, but he had to keep the young man from doing something that would get himself killed.
With the help of the rest of Major Crimes, Simon soon had Blair in his firm grasp, but the younger man was still struggling.
"Simon! Jim's still in there!"
Simon said nothing as he dragged Sandburg to the ambulance. He was concentrating on the task at hand, afraid that if he lost focus he too would try to rush in and save Jim. He barely noticed when Taggart lifted Blairís legs. Each man was deep in his own thoughts as they carried their struggling companion.
As they placed their charge on the gurney, Blair tried to break free again and Simon tightened his grip, "No, you don't. You are not going back in there."
"But Jim's..." the rest of the sentence trailed off as Blair's eyes glazed over once again.
Simon had no reply and was relieved when Taggart grabbed Blair by the shoulders, forcing the younger man to look at him. "Listen to me, Blair. It is not your fault, Blair. You did everything you could."
This didn't deter the young man, "But it wasn't enough! It wasn't enough! Jim's still in there! I have to go back for him." Blair was trying so hard to convince them. Simon wanted to believe, but also had to keep himself grounded in reality.
Blair was close to tears as the paramedics tried to coax the injured man into the ambulance, but he wouldn't go. "I'm not leaving him. I'll be fine."
"Sandburg." Simon said softly, not knowing what else to say.
"No, sir. I don't want to hear that. I am waiting." The young man was obviously in pain and struggling to remain conscious. As he began to lose the battle, the paramedics moved in giving him oxygen and a sedative. Simon could only stand there and watch as his friend gave one last effort, "JIM!" and slipped into unconsciousness.
The paramedics quickly secured their patient and loaded him into the waiting ambulance. Joel Taggart climbed in with them and they drove away amid flashing lights and wailing sirens. Simon could only stand there watching. How was he going to get through this one? He had had men die before, but somehow this was different. How was he going to make it through this himself let alone help out his young friend who had just had his whole world torn apart.
Simon turned to see a firefighter. He was about Jim's height and younger than Blair. "Yes?"
"I'm Lieutenant Meyer. I just thought you'd like to know that we found your other man. They are just about to load him into the ambulance. You can ride with him if you like."
It took a few moments for the words to sink in, but when they did his eyes grew wide and hope nearly overwhelmed him, "You found Jim! He's alive?!" Simon nearly grabbed the firefighter. He could barely contain himself.
"Yep. Last I saw he was alive." The lieutenant turned around as someone shouted his name. "Sorry Captain I have to go. You'd better hurry if you want to ride with him. I don't think that they'll wait."
Simon shouted "Thanks!" to the retreating back of Lt. Meyer and then ran over to where another set of paramedics were loading an unconscious Detective James Ellison into an ambulance. He had never been so happy to see Jim with an IV, bandages, and oxygen mask, "How is he?" almost dreading what he would hear.
"He inhaled a lot of smoke and has some severe burns and a concussion. I couldn't tell you just how bad, but he doesnít appear to have any major internal injuries."
"I'd like to ride along to the hospital if I could." Simon received a nod from the paramedic and turned to the rest of his department, who had followed him to see for themselves that their friend was still alive, "The rest of you get back to work cleaning this mess up!" once again in the role of police captain.
He almost missed Rafe's relieved comment before the ambulance doors closed. "Man, we always get stuck cleaning up after Jim and Blair."
As the ambulance raced towards the hospital, Simon looked down at his friend, confirming that he really was alive. He was covered in soot and smelled of smoke, evidence of his close call, but the IV, bandages, oxygen mask, and attention of the paramedic served to remind the captain that Jim had survived it.
"Jim? Jim? Itís time to wake up. Youíre on your way to the hospital. Blairís on his way as well. I donít know how badly heís hurt, but he thinks youíre dead. We all did. You scared the heck out of us Jim. Youíve got to wake up or they wonít let you see Sandburg when we get there. Heís going to need you." God I hope Iím doing the right thing. If Sandburg were here Jim would be awake by now. Simon had seen the Guide work wonders with the big man in front of him. Somehow, Simon had always know that the stone cold façade that Ellison showed the world was just a mask, but it had taken a neo hippie punk witchdoctor to get the big man to realize this himself and open up to let the real Jim Ellison through.
Simon Banks walked into the ER waiting room and stopped just inside the door. His mind, however, was still standing outside the Emergency Room doors through which the paramedics and doctors had recently taken his friend. After the quick ambulance ride, the medical personal had rushed their patient through the ominous doors leaving Simon standing there alone and at a loss for what to do next. A kind and understanding nurse had taken him by the arm and gently steered him towards the waiting area, telling him that they would inform him of his friendís condition as soon as possible. As Simon Banks stood inside the door, his mind looked around and suddenly realized that it had better catch up with the rest of him if it didnít want to end up in the Psych ward.
While his mind raced to catch up with recent events, he looked around the waiting area. It was cozy enough, but not a place he wanted to spend much time in. In the corner he spotted Taggart slumped over with his elbows on his knees and head hanging. It wasnít hard for Simon to imagine the other man going through a similar routine upon his arrival at the hospital with the same bewildered thoughts and the same kind understanding nurse.
Joel was obviously taking this hard. Ever since the incident that caused Joel to transfer from the bomb squad to major crimes Blair Sandburg had become like a son to him. This also meant that he had become close with Jim Ellison too. Most people didnít realize until it was too late that Ellison and Sandburg were a package deal. You couldnít get one without the other. Joel had been especially proud when Blair had graduated from the academy and became a detective. And now this once strong police officer was sitting here grieving for a lost friend and hoping against hope that he wouldnít be grieving for two.
Oh my God! Joel doesnít know that Jimís alive! Simonís mood perked up at the prospect of giving his friend a bit of good news. He silently walked over and sat next to the other man. "JoelÖ JoelÖ Joel, look at me."
Slowly Joel Taggart raised his head to look at his friend and captain. "They took him straight into emergency surgery. I havenít heard anything yet. It canít be good."
"JoelÖ" might as well just say it straight out. "Jimís alive. They must have pulled him out while we were dealing with Blair. I rode in with him myself."
The nurse had worked in the ER for several months now and thought that she knew what to expect from the friends and family of the patients. Most were quiet and somber. Some cried hysterically. But she had never seen anything like the two large police captains hugging each other and smiling like new fathers who had just welcomed a new life into their lives.
Once again the two captains sat in silence while the doctors continued to work on their friends. A little over an hour later the doctor walked into the waiting room to address the two men.
"Captain Banks? Captain Taggart?" The two men nodded and the doctor continued. "Iím Dr. Adamson. Iíve been treating Detective Ellison and Iíll be taking over treatment of Detective Sandburg once he is out of surgery. He has a punctured lung, several broken ribs, and a concussion, but we think he has a good chance.
"Weíre transferring Detective Ellison upstairs to a room now. He has several burns, but our biggest concern is his head injury. He sustained a large blow to the head. We took some scans, but havenít seen anything that would suggest permanent damage. Itís pretty amazing that he isnít hurt worse after what heís been through. Right now, all we can do is wait for him to regain consciousness."
Simon nodded and asked, "Can we see him?" while Joel sighed in relief.
"Of course. Heís in room 312. Iíll let you know as soon as I hear anything more about Detective Sandburgís condition."
Simon opened the door to room 312 to find the Sentinel lying unconscious in the hospital bed. The hospital staff had cleaned off the dirt and soot from the fire, fresh bandages now covered his burns, and a tube running under his nose had replaced the oxygen mask. The only noise disturbing the quiet was the drip of the IV and the beeping of the monitors. Simon and Joel entered to stand on either side of their friendís bed.
"Jim? Itís Simon. Time to wake up now." he gently urged.
Simon tried again, "Jim? We needÖ"
"Blair! Where are you?" Jimís sudden response startled both captains, but the panic that they heard in his was voice even more frightening.
"No Jim, itís Simon. Blairís in surgery. We havenít heard anything yet, but heís alive." The captain tried to reassure his detective, but Jim wasnít listening.
"Simon, whereís Sandburg? I can't find him. He can't have left. I have to find him. I keep zoning out. I need him. I can't focus. I have to find him. I'll call you when I find him."
"Jim heís in surgery. Heís here at the hospital. Youíre in the hospital. You were hurt in the fire at the orphanage. We need you to wake up. Jim. Jim." Simon could hear the pleading in his own voice, but didnít care. He only wanted his friend to wake up.
Joel reached across the bed and placed a hand on Simonís shoulder. "Easy Simon. Heís out again. He just needs a little more time, okay."
Simon looked up into the other manís face and saw a mirror image of his own concern and pain. "Youíre right. I guess... I guess Iím still shaky from thinking he was dead and what happened with Sandburg."
As if on cue, the door opened to admit Dr. Adamson. He nodded his head in greeting to the two visitors and quickly checked on his patientís vitals. Satisfied that everything was in order he turned to the two expectant faces. "Has he shown any signs of consciousness yet?"
Simon and Joel looked at each other before Simon answered, "Um, he did wake up briefly, but he never opened his eyes and didnít make any sense. He was saying something about trying to find Blair." His voice gained a distant tone as if he were trying to figure out what Jimís ramblings meant.
The doctor seemed to process this for a moment, "I seem to remember that the last time Mr. Ellison was unconscious here, he woke up shortly after Mr. Sandburg started talking to him. I was hoping that the two of you would have a similar effect."
"Sandburg is Jimís partner and roommate." Joel stated as if that was all the explanation need.
"I see. Maybe weíll be able to get these two together soon. Mr. Sandburg made it through surgery just fine and is currently in the recovery room. Heís not out of the woods yet, but if he fights hard he should be up and chasing the nurses in a few day or so." Dr. Adamson waited for his words to register with his audience. When he saw that the news had been processed he continued, "Weíll be placing Mr. Sandburg in a room just down the hall, room 306. Iím only allowing one visitor at a time though. Heís going to need a lot of quiet and rest. Iíll have one of the nurses inform you when you can go see him."
"Thank you doctor." Joel said, seeing that Simon was still distracted with thought.
Dr. Adamson turned back to the two police officers before leaving the room. "Just keep talking to him. Let him know that he has friends near." He then left quietly shutting the door behind him.
Alone again, Joel turned to Simon, "What do you think he meant?"
Joelís voice caused Simonís thoughts to return from their wanderings. "Huh? About talking to Jim?"
"No. What did Jim mean about zoning and needing to find Blair?"
Simon sat quietly pondering recent events. It had been a while since the nurse had taken Joel to sit with Sandburg and he still had no clue as to what Jimís earlier rambling meant. He had tried talking to his friend several times hoping that he would wake up or at least give him more clues to the puzzle, but each time the Sentinel simply lay there, quiet and unresponsive. Even the doctor was beginning to get worried.
ĎHe canít have left. I keep zoning out.í Jimís words echoed in Simonís head. Has he zoned out while unconscious? Is that even possible? I have trouble bringing him out of a regular zone. How am I going to bring him out of one while heís unconscious? Simonís thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the door. He looked up to see Henri Brown walk into the room.
"Howís he doing Captain?"
"Same as before," his frustration could be easily heard in his voice. "Iíve threatened him with mountains of paperwork and week-long stakeouts. I even ordered him to wake up, but I should have remembered he never does as ordered."
"Why donít you take a break sir? Go see Hairboy." Brown could see that his captain was reluctant to leave. He held out a book with a knowing smile and added, "I brought that book that you borrowed from Blair. I figured that he might like to hear some of it. Iíll stay here with Jim."
Simon realized that he wasnít going to win this argument. He simply took the offered book and turned to leave. Before he closed the door, he turned back and looked at his two detectives. "Youíve been taking lessons from Sandburg havenít you?"
Brown responded with a smile and waved his captain out the door.
Simon walked down the hall to room 306 and saw Joel Taggart sitting in the chair next to Sandburgís bed.
"Did Brown send you to relieve me or was it one of the nurses?" It was a simple question, but one voiced with fatigue and emotion.
"Brown came and kicked me out of Jimís room. He told me to come and read to Blair." Simon held up the book by Burton that he had borrowed from Blair before he started at the academy. Since Sandburg wouldnít be able to ride along with Jim while he was at the police academy, Simon had taken it upon himself to act as Jimís guide until Blair graduated. He had borrowed several books, hoping that they would give him a hint of what it was that Blair seemed to know instinctively. No matter how much he studied the subject, Simon still felt like he was shooting in the dark when it came to this Sentinel stuff, but he kept trying. Jim and Blair were his friends and he wasnít about to give up on them.
Joel stood and stretched. "So now you are kicking me out, is that it?" smiling in an attempt to lighten the mood. The smile was soon replaced by a haunted look as he continued, "He woke up shortly after they took him off the respirator. He asked about Jim, but was out again before I could tell him anything. The look in his eyesÖ"
He had hoped that reading Burtonís book might help him figure out a way to help either Jim or Blair, but so far Simon was having no luck. He was rereading the chapter discussing the Sentinelís need for a Guide when he heard a change in Blairís breathing. Simon moved to the young manís bedside and smiled when he saw a pair of blue eyes open and look at him. Could these eyes possibly be the same ones that could charm even the gruff captain of Major Crimes or would so easily light up with laughter? Before he could say anything, the blue eyes closed again.
A hand on his shoulder gently shook him awake. Simon looked up to see the tired face of Megan Connor. "Come on, sir. Itís not fair of you to hog Sandy like this. Let someone else take a turn. Go home and get some rest."
"No. I'll be fine. I'll just go and get some coffee and then see how Jim is doing."
"Sir, you're not doing anyone any good by staying here. You're not Jim's guide and you're not Blair's Blessed Protector," Megan said, referring to the old joke.
"No, but I am their friend. And I feel like there's something I should do to help. I just can't wrap my brain around what it is." Simon sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose as he sank back down in the chair by Blair's bed, "I guess this is how all the kings horses and all the kings men felt."
"I feel like one of the kings men trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again." Maybe I should go home if Iím starting to quote nursery rhymes.
"Yeah, I know what you mean. I guess weíve been lucky until now. Normally itís just one of them lying unconscious in the hospital. Weíve always had the other one around to do most of the worrying. I keep telling myself that they are both strong fighters, but itís beginning to sound like a recording."
Simon suddenly sat up straight in his chair. "A recording! Thatís it!"
"Whatís it? Simon, youíre starting to worry me here."
"Youíve just given me an idea. Iíve seen Sandburg wake Jim up with just a simple touch or a few words. Burton says that a Sentinel is predisposed to respond to his Guideís voice so that, even if heís zoned, his Guide can pull him out of it."
"So what youíre saying is, all we need is a recording of Sandy's voice?" The inspector was trying to grasp what her captain was saying.
"If we had a recording of Sandburgís voice, maybe we could get Jim to wake up!" Simon briefly wondered if this is what Sandburg felt like when he suddenly got an idea. Iíve got to stop hanging around the kid so much if Iím starting to act like him.
The excitement was contagious because now Meggan was beginning to bounce. "And then we get Jim to talk to Blair!" Her hands were now beginning to fly about with her words. "But where are we going to get a recording of Sandburg?"
"I know just the place," Simon said with a knowing smile and walked out of the waiting area to put his plan in motion.
Simon didnít bother knocking before letting himself into the loft. He didnít need to see the empty parking spaces that normally held the familiar truck and Volvo. He knew that neither of the occupants was home.
He looked around and saw the familiar home of his two friends. He saw the comfortable couch and chairs in which they had spent many nights watching Jags games or working on cases. He saw Blairís numerous artifacts and smiled at the thought of the Anthropologist turned Detective being able to give a lecture on each one at the drop of a hat. Glancing into the kitchen as he closed the door, he noted that the previous days breakfast dishes had been washed and meticulously placed in the dish drainer. Jim always did liked to keep things neat. The calm of the loft was a welcome relief from all that had happened just yesterday and the events that were still taking place at the hospital.
Simon quickly walked over to the stereo, keeping his fingers crossed that he wouldnít have to search Sandburgís room. He couldn't help but chuckle to himself as he remembered the numerous disagreements Jim and Blair often had about housekeeping. Jim was constantly trying to enforce his house rules and Blair was constantly breaking them. Whether he did it on purpose or subconsciously didn't matter. It had almost become a ritual, a comfortable routine that they could fall into knowing that neither was truly mad at the other and that this wouldn't be the last time that this particular topic was discussed. He was in luck. The practice tapes were neatly arranged next to the tape player. Thank you Jim. He selected a couple of tapes, grabbed Blairís portable tape player, and turned to leave not wanting to disturb his peaceful surroundings any more than he had. He took one last look around, confirming that everything was as it should be, and quietly closed the door.
The normalcy of the loft was reassuring and Simon was now confident that Jim and Blair would recover and that life would return to normal, or at least as normal as life can be for a Sentinel and his Guide in Cascade.
Back at the hospital Simon headed straight for Jimís room, intending on immediately implementing his plan, when the nurse on duty intercepted him. "Excuse me Captain Banks but Iím afraid that you canít bring that in here."
"Iím just taking it in to Detective Ellisonís room. Iím hoping that it will help him wake up."
"Iím sorry sir, but we canít have you disturbing the other patients."
"Is there a problem here?" Simon and the nurse turned to see Dr. Adamson approaching.
"I was hoping that some tapes of Blairís voice might help Jim to wake up." Simon rushed into his explanation hoping that concern for his patient would have the doctor agreeing with the police captain. "In the past, when Jim has been unconscious, Sandburg has been able to get through to him. You even mentioned it yourself. And since Sandburg is down the hall and we canít bring him here, I thought that some of his lecture tapes would be the next best thing." How can I get him to understand this thing between Ellison and Sandburg when I donít really understand it myself and I know whatís going on?
The doctor just shook his head. "Iím sorry Simon, but it might disturb the other patients. I understand your concern for your friend and want to help, but I canít allow you to place him above everyone else."
"Dr. Adamson, I assure you it wonít disturb anyone else. Iíll keep the volume as low as possible. You probably wonít even be able to hear it at the nurseís station. Iíll turn it off if anyone complains." Simonís voice held a tone of conviction that came from knowing that the volume would be at a level only a Sentinel could hear.
The doctor thought about this for a moment. He too had seen the interaction between the two friends on the numerous occasions that they ended up in the hospital. "Alright. But if anybody mentions anything it gets turned off immediately." Adding the later part sternly.
Without another word, Simon turned and headed towards his friendís room. He checked the volume level, turned the tape player on, and placed it on the bed next to Jimís pillow. He then pulled up the chair next to the bed and waited.
"How about we get a cup of coffee?" Simon hadnít noticed the doctor follow him into Jimís room.
"Nah, I want to be here when he wakes up." His exhaustion must have been evident in his voice because he saw Dr. Adamsonís expression soften.
"Do you really think that this will work?" The doctor obviously was beginning to worry about Simon as much as he was worried about Jim and wanted to get the large police captain to talk.
This has to work. If it doesnít I donít know what else to do. "I sure hope so."
The two men waited in silence for a few moments before noticing that the rhythm of Jimís monitors had changed. His heart rate had slowed to a steady relaxed rhythm and his breathing had deepened. The doctor was about to comment when Jim started mumbling.
"I just hear a bunch of noises."
Yes itís working. Come on Jim. Wake up, Simon thought to himself.
"I hear beeping... something dripping... a small motor... a couple heartbeats." As Jim spoke Simon glanced around the room, locating the source of each of the sounds, but when Jim became silent again his eyes went immediately to his friend.
Jim opened his eyes and looked around the room. "Whereís Blair?" Simon let out the breath that he hadnít known he was holding.
Simon reached up to turn the tape player off, understanding his friendís confusion. "He's down the hall in another room. He has a concussion and still hasn't woken up from the emergency surgery, but he's alive."
"I want to see him. I...I need to see him." The pleading and need in Jimís eyes was unmistakable to anyone who knew the two men as well as Simon did.
"I know. He needs you too."
"I don't think that would be wise right now. Detective Ellison needs his rest." At the doctor's words, the beeping of Jim's monitors starting to race and he tried to get out of bed.
"I need to..."
Simon gently held his friend down. "I know. Let me take care of it."
Simon gestured for the doctor to follow him. Once outside in the hall he spoke in a soft whisper, wondering if the Sentinel was listening to the conversation or trying to find his Guideís heartbeat. "You saw what just happened in there. The tape hadnít even been playing for five minutes and Jim is awake and alert. And that was just a recording of Blairís voice. I canít explain what it is between those two, but what ever it is it woke up Ellison and it can help wake up Sandburg."
The doctor didn't look convinced. "I understand your desire to help your friends and I admit that the tape seemed to help Mr. Ellison, but I don't see the need to repeat the exercise with Mr. Sandburg. He regained consciousness shortly after you left. He's not totally aware of what has happened and is withdrawn, but that's not abnormal."
"What? Why didn't you say so?" But before the doctor could respond Simon continued, "Never mind. Look, I have no idea what goes on inside of Sandburg's head and I have no desire to figure it out either. But what ever it is it has something to do with Jim and probably the fact that the last time I saw him coherent we all thought that Jim was dead. You can try to tell him otherwise till you're blue in the face, but if he's convinced himself that Jim is dead then the only thing that can change that is Jim. He's just stubborn that way. Heck they both are.
Iíve worked with the two of them long enough to know that when it comes to one of them being hurt or needing help, the other can and will work himself into quite a state. Neither of them will be able to rest until they see each other and have a chance to talk."
Simon came back into the room and saw Jimís head tilted at a familiar angle, eyes unfocused, "Don't zone out on me now Jim please."
"I'll be fine just as soon as I see Blair."
In response, the doctor and a nurse came in with a wheelchair. They unhooked the monitors and helped Jim out of the bed. They wheeled him down the hall and into a room similar to the one they had just left.
"Good to see you back in the land of the living Jim," said Joel holding the door, but the Sentinel didnít respond. It was obvious that the only thing that registered was his Guide.
Blair was facing away from the door and he was crying. Jim pulled himself up to stand by his friend's bedside and gently wiped away the tears.
Simon, Joel and Dr. Adamson stood at the door and watched the two men. They saw the gentle touch of the bigger man and the elated embrace of the smaller. It would have taken a sentinel to hear what they were saying, but somehow Simon didnít need to hear the words. He may not know much about this Sentinel stuff, but he knew a thing or two about friendship. As his friends sat together on the hospital bed, Simon smiled knowing that every thing would be all right. The Sentinel and Guide were together again and everything was as it should be.
Feedback Please QLHT2@kc.rr.com