A Time to Heal
Summary: Bad times for Jim and Blair.
Warning: Permanent bad things happen to them. Not graphic.
Disclaimer: All characters, places, and objects from The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly Productions, UPN, and Paramount. All stories are written with the love of the show in mind. No money is being made. All stories are property of the author.
He sat ... silent guardian, blessed protector of his guide and best friend. What good it did he wasn't sure. He needed to be there. He hoped Blair knew, somehow, that he was close and that he'd be there until he woke.
He sat ... brooding on all the things that had gone wrong that day. Minor things mostly, that added up to this waiting game. He hated waiting.
He sat ... waiting for a flicker of movement, a whisper of sound, anything to prove that Sandburg was waking up. Please, let him wake up.
He sat ... preying for a miracle. One more time. Please. Let him be safe and whole one more time.
He sat ... weeping when the answer was no.
He brought Blair home from physical therapy each day. There were daily sessions planned for him. He'd walk again. He might not need a brace on his left leg, but a cane might be necessary for safety's sake. He'd never race out the door and fly down the stairs, skimming over every second step. He'd walk again; but it would take time and would never be as fluid and nonstop as before. But the worst thing, the very worst, was that Blair didn't speak. They said he could. He was physically able to speak. But he didn't. Jim really missed that.
Blair worked with a psychologist but the there was no sudden breakthrough. Personally, Jim thought Blair had lost heart. From the very beginning, when the prognosis was barely in, Blair was way ahead of Jim. Blair's devastation at the loss of his new, and hard won, police career and therefore his work with Jim were among the first things he worried about. He couldn't say the word but Jim understood the written word. He chose to deliberately misunderstand. He wasn't getting a new partner. Case closed.
But Jim really hated the tears. His own he could hide. But Blair's were the result of fear, frustration, pain, and depression. They were so much harder to take than his own.
Blair took three steps today. They were halting, and he limped badly but they were all his own. It was a milestone. The expression he turned toward him said it all. Blair's determination was clear. He wasn't going to quit. But he was too subdued. As if he'd seen the future ... and had finally accepted it's limitations.
Eventually routine took over again. Things that made up our daily lives were done with little thought. A time when everything wasn't a struggle. Jim relented and went back to work. Someone came to care for Sandburg during the day.
Blair hated the homecare necessity, but he was still progressing. Blair worked hard to get rid of the brace, and the cane was only taken out when he left the loft. He hated having his hand tied to that cane. He'd learned to sign and his standard excuse was the joke that he couldn't talk very well because he couldn't use his hand. Funny. Right?
Blair still worked with a therapist on his speech. The homecare worker said that, physically, he was making great progress. That he'd become very independent, always pushing his limits. Yet when Jim came home, and they were alone, he became almost fragile, vulnerable. Jim missed the chatter and the bounce. He hoped Blair wasn't ashamed because he was different. Blair should know that Jim understood being different.
The homecare worker had been steadily decreasing her time, and only came to help Blair with physical therapy sessions now. Blair was alone when Simon came to see him that day. Blair just had to see Simon's face. Simon caught him when he would have stumbled in his fear and grief. No need to grieve Chief, it was just a minor, career breaking, GSW.
It was friendly fire. Stupid of him really. He, Jim Ellison, had been in the line of fire. Jim had survived the Rangers, eighteen months in Peru, and ten years on the Cascade Police Force with just bumps and bruises (not counting the brush with Golden, and opium paste, and oh yeah! the cough medicine fiasco). He couldn't tell Blair he'd zoned.
There goes another career. His knee was shot to hell! Damn it!
Now what? For a pair of disabled cops. Well, for one thing, we could enjoy physical therapy exercises together. That was a very little, very bad, joke.
Simon came to talk to us about our careers, with a counselor. We could take desk duty. Blair would be able to do computer searches His mind was still sharp as a tack. But Jim, he didn't want to be tied to a desk and paperwork for the rest of his career. He was leaning toward early retirement. But then what? He couldn't retire, drink beer and watch the Jags on television for the rest of his life.
But it would have to be something Blair could do too. They were still in this together. Partners. He didn't think Blair understood that even now. He could see him sometimes watching him out of the corner of his eye.
Blair seemed to lose ground on his speech therapy and was even more frustrated with his disabilties now. Jim figured he'd guessed about him zoning. He didn't know what Simon or the other cops had told Blair before he was able to shut them up. He could feel Blair cutting himself off from him even more. He'd buried himself in research and used his laptop to keep in contact with his friends and his mom. Sometimes Jim had to almost physically drag him away from it to get him to get some fresh air, to take a walk together, to go to a movie. He absolutely refused to go camping, to leave the loft for any lengthy time.
Jim finally enlisted Naomi in the fight. She agreed readily. She'd seen the downward spiral. She was the one that suggested contacting that publishing guy she sent the diss to during that mess. Blair let Jim read the e-mail and then just looked at him. <Well, Jim?> he signed.
“Well, what?” was his brilliant reply. He wasn't a mindreader, especially where Blair and Naomi were concerned. What exactly did Naomi have in mind?
<Well ... What about a novel, Jim? Fictionalize the diss. That's what everyone assumed it was anyway. What do you think? A superhero Sentinel. It could work. Remember ... Superman ... Batman. Think about it man? Let people think it's fiction. Get a website up. Make information available, maybe as interactive sites, whatever, to sentinels that need it!>
It's funny when Jim finally realized it, but he always edited in Blair's voice with the flying hands. It always flowed, nonstop, graceful, swooping, full of spirit, like in his memory.
But tonight he could sense something of the old Sandburg spirit that was very close to a spark of enthusiasm. There was almost a bounce. He hadn't sensed either in such a very long time. The lump in his throat made his eyes tear. He turned away and toward the windows at the balcony. The reflection made the lump worse. Blair looked defeated, old, and so very, very weary that Blair didn't even try to hide his tears.
It took all his control to keep his voice light, “Chief, I could be the consultant this time, right? Of course, it will involve lots of typing.” Big dramatic sigh, for effect only, “More paperwork. But I guess I could handle it. For the partnership, you know.”
The tears were in earnest now, and Blair smiled.
It took a while for Sid to come through. After all, the last time we had had contact was disastrous, but Naomi worked on him too. He didn't jump the gun this time. He knew that for Blair's sake, and his own, that he'd better do it right. Jim made 'very' sure Sid understood. Any remarks about the last 'leak' were so completely ignored that reporters soon got the message that they'd be shut out of any press releases. But Sid's bosses loved him this time. It was a bestseller. They wanted more. And we were happy to oblige.
Blair got a kick out of the research. He'd had lots of practice for that, of course. And with the laptops linked he and Jim traded ideas at the speed of ... their internet connection. Jim got a lot better at typing.
One night Jim drove them to the racetrack for more 'research'. They really were doing research on the whole racing milieu, but they were also meeting Simon and Joel, and later Steven was going to join them. Jim drove to the stable parking area. Simon and Joel would be checking in on Old Stogie's successor before the race.
Jim tilted his head to the side, his listening became focused on an argument near the vet's office. Blair was as quick as ever to place his hand on Jim's arm to anchor him. “Chief, I think they're planning a murder, a jockey. They've been blackmailing him to throw races and now he's backing out.”
<Jim. Evidence? No? Yes?> Blair's shorthand questions stumbled out.
Jim's grip on the steering wheel tightened in his exasperation, “No. I came in too late to catch their names but the jockey is Joey Dunton. Damn. We can't let him be killed. And we're not in a position to stop it anymore. He needs protection, and soon.”
<Wait. Simon and Joel. Time?> Blair asked.
“We have until later tonight. Just before the big race. We'll have time.”
It worked out alright for the jockey. Simon arranged to have Brown and Rafe in place to take advantage of the 'tip'. But Simon inadvertently gave Jim an idea. Simon wouldn't use Jim's name, since they had no particulars on the case. He'd just called it an 'anonymous tip'.
The next day, after considerable discussion, they'd decided on a game plan. Blair called it their 'Snitches 'R Us' plan. Jim's covert ops training and Blair's computer skills were useful in setting up e-mails and rerouted phone calls, with voice masking or text messaging. They'd be able to get information to Brown as his newest snitches. They would be unknown even to Brown. Brown and Rafe could handle the information as they saw fit, either acting on it themselves or passing it on to the appropriate department or agency.
A police radio would keep them informed of hot spots, places to seek out or avoid, and Simon would be their 'inside man', with the proviso that 'they were not cops'. They would NOT take action on their own, or he would cut them off from the information only he could provide.
<Still help.> enthused Blair, “J-jimm.”
A startled Jim grabbed up his friend and swung him in an aborted arc. They both struggled, while laughing, to stay on their feet.
Jim grinned widely at his friend. The disabilities had been accepted and they'd moved on. They'd found another career. Maybe helped some unknown or future sentinels and guides. But this is what made everything worthwhile. They could still help. Still protect the tribe. As Sentinel and Guide, partners.